Thursday, May 31, 2007

Venezuela Update

Bob has more on the TV coup in Venezuela, and via Bob, you'll find Bob Harris watching it as it happens.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Happy Blue Moon Thursday

NY Daily Photo

Read all about it.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Here We Go Again

Not to be outdone by Insane McCain.

Perhaps the 2008 candidates can just hold their debates in the streets of Baghdad.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


A Cancer in the DoJ

The investigation is now expanding into more areas: hiring practices in the Department of Justice Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program and in the Department's Civil Rights Division.


Venezuela

I don't post on Venezuela these days because nothing really new is happening to change my wary attitude toward Hugo Chávez. I like what he's done for democracy in South America and particularly in Venezuela, but I still get a little nervous about his moves toward what appears to be placing himself in permanent residency as president. And he seems to be getting more and more self-important and a little nutsy. If there's one thing we don't need another of in this world, it's a megalomaniacal nutjob running a country. We have more than enough.

Whatever It Is I'm Against It is my very favorite blog, and I generally agree with opinions and comments contained in the posts (and they're also very funny). Recently, there have been a couple of snarky posts about the failure to renew a TV license to an opposition station in Venezuela. On the surface, I might agree with the sentiment, but there are other circumstances that make this incident a not entirely clear-cut case of creeping dictatorship.

Following is an excerpt from an email I received today from a Venezuelan information organization. As background, I have personally seen pieces of a broadcast (now online here and here, about the film here) the day after the coup of 2002, from the TV station in question where the commenters were laughing and bragging about their role in staging the coup against the democratically elected government of Hugo Chávez. They freely admitted to participating in arranging the violent clash between anti- and pro-government crowds.

The first point made in the email is, in my mind, splitting hairs, or just changing spin. and I really don't know about the last one. But the other points are, I believe, well made and should be reported.

[Ed: the points made hereafter are not mine, but those from the email I received.]

1. There is no "Suppression of Media in Venezuela," nor was there a "closure" of RCTV. Instead its license to broadcast on the public airwaves was not renewed.

2. The non-renewal of the license prevents RCTV from broadcasting on open access channels, but the station will still be allowed to broadcast in Venezuela through the internet as well as cable and satellite TV. Neither does it affect the possibility of RCTV producing material for domestic or international TV programming. Moreover, RCTV may continue to broadcast using their two radio stations.

3. The non-renewal is due to RCTV's failure to abide by legal norms established by the Venezuelan Constitution and the Law of Social Responsibility for Radio and Television. The law forbids public airwaves licensees from inciting political violence and civil unrest. RCTV's violations involve conspiracy to bring down the elected government of Venezuela during the violent coup of April 2002 as well as the active promotion of an economic sabotage later that year, which cost the country more than US$10 billion in losses. RCTV also has a long list of sanctions imposed by previous governments for reasons ranging from pornography, violations of laws prohibiting publicity of smoking and alcohol drinking to transmissions of false information.

4. The non-renewal of RCTV's broadcasting license is not an example of censorship, nor is it a strike against the private media in Venezuela. RCTV was part of a majority; 79 out of 81 TV stations and all 118 newspapers in the country are privately owned. Most are vehemently opposed to the democratically elected government of President Chavez. RCTV is unique only in its editorial excesses and its history of violating legal norms.

5. RCTV's large share of the open-access airwaves was assigned, upon expiration, to a public broadcaster that is dedicated to presenting programming that features independent operators and producers.


Big Pharma Has New Competition

There was a piece on the news tonight about some Swedish researchers who claim that breast milk killed cancer cells in a petri dish, so some guy who had cancer decided to drink smoothies made with breast milk and now his cancer is gone. Another guy from either the government or the drug industry - I forget which - was cautioning that people shouldn't be trying this until it's been tested and declared safe, because, he said, "We have to be very careful about using things that haven't been tried on humans." !! I guess baby people aren't human, eh?

Of course, what he was really saying is, "Holy crap! If people start using breast milk to cure cancer, how are we going to maintain our outrageous fortune?"


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


2008

New York firefighters have formed a group that will follow Giuliani around the country on his campaign touring in order to protest his candidacy. They say all he did on 9/11 was to give reports to the TV, and that was from information he was getting from other sources.

Twit Romney, the wealthiest candidate in either party, says he's rich enough, so when he's president, he'll give all his salary - and then some - to charity. I wonder what charities are on his list.


The Plame Case

We're still waiting to see whether Scooter will go to jail or get a pardon.

On that point, the prosecutor, Pat Fitzgerald, has filed papers stating that Valerie Plame was indeed a covert CIA agent at the time her identity was leaked to the press. Libby's possible sentence is three years. I thought that outing a covert agent was considered treasonous. I must be wrong, or surely Scooter would be on his way to Guantanamo.

Newsweek reports that Libby's trial established that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer also provided information to reporters about Plame's identity. When will we see their trials?

Fitzgerald's filing also reminds us that Libby's testimony indicated that Dick Cheney may have sanctioned Libby's leak. When will we see his trial?


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Great Connections

A drug company that manufactures a vaccine against anthrax, and is connected to the Bush Administration through the revolving door, has been granted a sole-source multi-million dollar contract to supply said vaccine to the civilian population, even though it has caused adverse reactions in 80% of the military population who already have been required to use it.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


WH Walls Are Closing In

Having seen her name mentioned in the Attorney Purge investigation by Monica Goodling as someone who "signed off on the plan" to fire the attorneys, Rove's "top lieutenant" Sara Taylor has "cleared out her office." Indeed, a subpoena for her testimony has been authorized, but as yet (I gather) unserved, not that the White House would permit anyone in it to testify.

Very interesting.

What next?


Ooops

Miss USA was heckled by the Mexican audience and fell on her butt strutting her evening gown across the stage.

Mexico, you are really asking for more of our displeasure.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Throwing in the Towel

Cindy Sheehan. Disillusioned.


....but hey, dis-illusion-ment is a good thing.


We Don't Like It When They Do It

Three Iranian-Americans have been arrested and charged with espionage in Tehran.

U.S. academic Haleh Esfandiari and two other Iranian-Americans [Kian Tajbakhsh, an urban planning consultant who also has worked for the World Bank, and journalist Parnaz Azima] have been "formally charged" with endangering national security and espionage, Iran's judiciary spokesman said Tuesday.

[...]

Laura Silber, a spokeswoman for Soros' Open Society Institute in New York said the organization was "dismayed at the charges" against Tajbakhsh, an "internationally respected scholar."

"The charges are completely without merit," Silber told The Associated Press by telephone. "We are very concerned for Dr. Tajkbakhsh's safety and urge the Iranian authorities to release him immediately."

  Yahoo

Like we've done with Guantanamo prisoners? Three years later, after we tortured them, of course.

Under Iranian law, the distinction between someone being accused and charged is less clear than in the United States and many Western countries, especially in matters of national security. Security courts have wide latitude, with the option of dropping the proceedings at any time or even holding trials in secret.

So very unlike the American way of extraordinary renditions and denial of council. And. Secret. Courts.

Iran has stepped up accusations that the United States is trying to use internal critics to destabilize the government.

Accusations? I thought it was well-known.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Monday, May 28, 2007

The New War Czar

(Yeah, yeah. I know, it's not fresh news. But it's still funny.)

Bush finally found somebody willing to take the job. Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute.

Lute won’t have any say in military strategy, but his role over other matters — primarily reconstruction — also will be awkward, given his rank. He has three stars. The top general in Iraq has four.

[...]

Success depends a great deal on the force of Lute’s personality and his ability to convince Washington’s behemoth bureaucratic barges to make a few needed course changes. Progress is possible, but Lute won’t have the power to take away funds or fire people.

  KansasCity.com

In other words, he's doomed.

Lute must gain congressional approval before he can assume the position.

  ABC

I'm not going anywhere near that line.




....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Trouble Getting Applicants

For some reason, Bush had trouble getting anyone to take the job of War Czar. Now, the DoJ is having trouble finding anyone to take the recently abandoned position of Deputy Attorney General. And they're not falling all over themselves to replace those fired US attorneys either.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

2008 Debates

Political fact checking at Factcheck.org.

- Mitt Romney claimed he didn’t raise taxes when he was governor of Massachusetts, failing to note that he increased government fees by hundreds of millions of dollars and shifted some of the state tax burden to the local level.
- Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado claimed scientific reports on whether humans are responsible for global warming are split 50-50, which isn’t close to being true.
- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee praised a "fair tax" but failed to note that it would ease the burden on the richest Americans while imposing a stiff retail sales tax of perhaps 34 percent.
- Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani used more statistical dexterity to manipulate statistics, claiming adoptions increased 133 percent when he was mayor. Actually, they peaked and started a continuing decline.

GOP Debate

- Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, explaining his call to show compassion for Palestinians, put a spin on the remark that differs from the way it was originally reported by an Iowa newspaper.
- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York said the Virginia Tech killer had been ruled a threat "to others" and involuntarily committed because of his mental state. Neither is true.
- Obama boasted of taking no money from registered lobbyists but didn't mention that he does accept money from their family members and partners and from ex-lobbyists.

Democrat Debate

Details and analyses for these and other political events and incidents are provided on the Factcheck.org website.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Got Him on the Run, Now

"I think the president's policy is going to begin to unravel now," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Because why? You scared him by taking that provision out of the bill he threatened to veto if you didn't?

Whatever, Nancy.


Your Tax Dollars at Work

Al Hurra television, the U.S. government's $63 million-a-year effort at public diplomacy broadcasting in the Middle East, is run by executives and officials who cannot speak Arabic, according to a senior official who oversees the program.

That might explain why critics say the service has recently been caught broadcasting terrorist messages, including an hour-long tirade on the importance of anti-Jewish violence, among other questionable pieces.

  ABC

Yeah, that might explain it. But then again, are we supposed to believe that even though they don't speak Arabic, they broadcast Arabic-language messages without finding out what they say? I don't think so.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Gnarly Dick Wants to Bomb Iran

I believe he would have Senator McCain's support.

Vice President Dick Cheney believes the US should not be pursuing a diplomatic path with Iran, and a senior aide to the vice president has been meeting with national security think tanks and consultants in Washington to "help establish the policy and political pathway to bombing Iran," Steve Clemons reported Thursday on his blog, The Washington Note.

Cheney is the person in the Bush administration who most desires a "hot conflict" with Iran and believes the administrations pursuit of diplomacy, led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is a mistake, Clemons reports.

The Cheney aide, who has met with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute along with other groups, "has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an 'end run strategy' around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument," according to Clemons.

Cheney's team wants to work with Israel, nudging the country at some key moment to mount a small-scale attack on the suspected site of Iran's nuclear infrastructure, which could lead to an Iranian counter attack on US forces stationed in the Persian Gulf...

[...]

The zinger of this information is the admission by this Cheney aide that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.

According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the "right decision" when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President's hands.

  Raw Story

How about we just give that man a shotgun and send him on over?


The Arrow of Blame

Pointing in all directions at the DoJ.

He said, she said, continues...

Goodling said that Kyle Sampson had told her that there was no problem with taking politics into account in hiring immigration judges. And the reason, he said, was that the department's Office of Legal Counsel had said it was OK.

[...]

As Marty Lederman puts it, "Something is happening here, but we don't know what it is. Goodling obviously knew that her conduct in this regard was dubious, and testified about it even though no one had raised any question about it previously, so as to ensure that her immunity would extend to this episode, as well. (She was very well-advised by John Dowd.)"

To hear Goodling tell it, she was assured by the attorney general's chief of staff that there was a legal basis for stocking the nation's immigration courts with political loyalists -- when no such legal basis existed. And the Justice Department now disavows this activity all together.

  TPM Muckraker


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Iraq Funding

Democrats may have lost the first round with President Bush on ending the war in Iraq since taking over Congress in January, but they say their fight has just begun.

  Yahoo

If that pathetic vote to take out the withdrawal timetable was an indication of their punching strength, they just as well stay on the mat.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Iraq Funding Bill

Pelosi, Obama and Clinton voted against the "no timetable" bill, which passed handily.

And, although there were "benchmarks" which the Iraqi government is supposed to meet in order to continue funding, it appears that less than $2 billion of the $120 billion allotted (yes, one hundred and twenty billion more), is tied to those benchmarks.

A commenter on the Obama, Clinton post:

Did you miss that these two brave leaders of the Democratic Party did not cast their votes until AFTER the issue had been decided?


Nice going.


Propaganda Media

After a Pew Research survey finds that U.S. Muslims are 'Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream,' that they are 'in line with U.S. values,' and that they "lean toward the Democratic Party, six to one," the Washington Times headlines its report on the poll, 'Young U.S. Muslims back suicide attacks.'

  Cursor May 23: links embedded


We Interrupt This Broadcast...

Just got an email with a link I thought I'd share with you.

Earthbridge Newsletter

News of Truth, Justice, Freedom, Love, Peace on Earth, and Ascension

Issue 33 - May 2007

Highlights of this issue:

* In conjunction with Earth allies, the Galactic Federation has decided it is best to wait 6 to 8 months after the fall of the current US government before public “mass landings”. Many ships will be seen overhead before then, as will minor selected contacts be made.

* The Illuminati are still causing delays to the Light’s plans to announce changes. Federation liaison personnel have been sent to referee specific events and to solve difficulties that may arise.

* All new systems in the future, such as education, health, and governance, will incorporate Mother Earth as well as sentient beings. Her well-being must be part of all considerations.

* The “Big Event” that will cause a re-alignment of Earth’s axis and earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic action in December next, is Jupiter becoming a nova, a second sun in our solar system! The general public will not be told of this until after the “big sleep” or stasis of three weeks, to come around two weeks after announcements of government and other changes of GESARA.

* The ignition of Jupiter is behind the whole rationale of the ascension of Earth and the solar system. People will need to be indoors for two weeks or more because of the strong light and electromagnetic storms of this event, and away from coasts and large lakes and rivers.

* Those wishing to ascend will become stronger in health after the Jupiter event, while those not ready will become part of the large population reduction over the next 5 years.

* Coastal cities around the Pacific Rim will need to be evacuated before December. Official confirmation of this is expected “soon”. Don’t panic, we will be given warning

  Earthboppin.net

Yes, it's probably best to wait 6 to 8 months after the fall of this administration for public landings.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


What's Happening in the Navy?

Six commanders sacked in six weeks.

For the sixth time in as many weeks, the lead officer of a Navy ship has been suddenly relieved of command, DANGER ROOM pal Andy Scutro reports for Navy Times.

[...]

"The Norfolk grounding is especially odd given the well-charted waters," Navy Times adds, in a second story. But it's hardly the only strange incident in recent weeks. On May 10th, the captain of the USS Constitution -- a 19th century warship, serving largely as a floating museum -- was relieved, for unspecified "lost of trust and confidence." Two days earlier, the Navy sacked the commanding officer of the destroyer Higgins for "loss of confidence in his ability to command."

  Danger Room


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Iraq War Strategy

There's a great comment to the notice that we are going to be negotiating with the terrorists at The War in Context:

Let's call this plan "C". Then there's plan "H" -- a plan to internationalise the Iraq crisis, as reported to the Guardian's Simon Tisdall by a "former official, who is familiar with administration thinking." Then there's plan "A" -- again, Tisdall was all ears (but none of the analysis he's generally good at, perhaps because what he was being told wouldn't hold up to analysis) when he listened to a US official tell him that "Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces." Then there's plan "O" -- a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government whispered to ABC's Blotter. And to round everything off, we have plan "S" -- "the business of supporting the Sunnis anywhere we can against the Shia," according to Seymour Hersh. Put all these plans together and you get a unified approach to the Middle East: C-H-A-O-S.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Dems Do It Too - Part Whatever

Update 9:30 pm: Apparently, the "news out of Washington this morning" wasn't quite right. Here's the House vote:
"140 Democrats voted No, and the bill passed on the strength of 194 Republican Yeas plus 86 Democrats, including Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.


----


Today is the day House Democrats are expected to vote on Iraq - except, news out of Washington this morning says the leadership has come up with a nifty little trick to try to prevent the public from seeing who voted for giving Bush a blank check, and who voted against it. If you thought Democrats were behaving like cowards by caving into a President at a three-decade low in presidential polling and giving him the very blank check they explicitly promised not to give him during the 2006 election, you ain’t seen nothing yet. We are watching the rise of the Dick Cheney Democrats - that is, the rise of Democrats who endorse governing in secret and hiding the public’s business from the public itself.

[...]

If this secretive behavior seems familiar, it should. You may recall that in the past two weeks, the same Democratic leadership that is now trying to hide its votes on Iraq negotiated a secret free trade deal with the White House, steamrolling its other key Election 2006 pledge to stop lobbyist-written trade policy. The legislative texts of the trade pacts in question remain concealed from the public, though K Street lobbyists have told reporters they have received “assurances” that any of the much-touted provisions that purport to protect labor and the environment will be written to be unenforceable.

  David Sirota

The US Congress: Fundamentally criminal.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Dragging It Out

Bush is moaning that the Attorney Purge investigation is being dragged out (or as he says, "drug out" - something he's familiar with). This must be their strategy - having no real defense - because that's pretty much what Rep. Tom Feeney (accused of trying to hire someone to create e-voting machines capable of being rigged) was complaining about while trying to praise Monica Goodling during her testimony.

Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker comments:

You might say that the investigation has taken such an awfully long time because the Justice Department misled Congress when questions were first asked about the U.S. attorney firings (senior Department officials even giving false testimony to Congress), the White House has stonewalled, a key witness invoked the Fifth Amendment, and despite all this, the revelations have just kept on coming steadily over the past three months.

Exactly. The WH refused to turn over and "lost" 5 million emails, we have been given contradicting accounts of what happened by McNulty, Sampson, Goodling and Gonzales, and fed lies that Gonzales has been trotting out right and left. So, if it's dragging out, let's consider whose fault that might be.

"It seems that there are possible obstruction of justice and perjury charges," [Rep. John Conyers] said, referring to how Goodling's testimony interacted with prior statements by Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and former Justice Department Chief of Staff D. Kyle Sampson. "So, I think it is presumptuous of Judiciary Committee members to say that we should go home."

  Raw Story


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


New York Legacy

Felicia Dunn-Jones died of lung disease five months after Sept. 11...

[...]

[On Wednesday this week] Dunn-Jones was added to the medical examiner's list of attack victims. It marked the first time the city has officially linked a death to the toxic dust caused by the World Trade Center's collapse.

[...]

A class-action lawsuit has claimed that dozens of deaths have been caused by exposure to toxic trade center dust.

[...]

New York lawmakers seeking federal funding for Sept. 11 health issues said more names should be added to the list.

  Yahoo

Commending Rudy Giuliani for his work after the Sept. 11 attacks, the New York Republican Party on Monday endorsed its native son for president.

"Only Rudy Giuliani has stood at the abyss of terror and destruction and shown a city, state, nation and, yes, the world the true meaning of leadership," state GOP Chairman Joseph Mondello said at the event at a midtown Manhattan hotel.

  Newsmax


"The air quality is safe and acceptable." - R Giuliani, September 28, 2001.




CREW Sues For Missing Emails

"The White House has decided to play an unlawful game of high-tech hide and seek with the American public," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, in the release.

Last month, CREW filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking the White House's Office of Administration to turn over records related to the millions of e-mails the watchdog says were lost between March 2003 and October 2005.

[...]

"Thus far, CREW has learned that the administration has both lost five million White House emails and pro-actively tried to cover up the loss," Sloan said. "CREW has sued the Office of Administration to shine a spotlight on these reckless and possibly illegal activities and to restore these records for the benefit of future generations."

  Raw Story


Don't Like the Price of Gas?

President Bush is likely to veto legislation that would create hefty fines and criminal penalties for gasoline price-gouging, the White House said Wednesday.

[...]

The White House, in a formal statement of administration policy, said the legislation amounted to price controls that would hinder oil companies and retailers from responding to market signals, potentially worsening fuel shortages.

  Raw Story

And wouldn't that be sad?

I heard an NPR report this morning about busting up the cozy deal oil companies have with each other to fix gasoline prices. It seemed that nobody in the current administration thinks that's a good idea. How many of them have some connection to the big oil companies do you think?

One analyst said that would be a terrible idea because of the theory of economy of size - the larger conglomerate can do things more cheaply and efficiently than smaller entities. He said that if you want to go back to bicycles, then go ahead and pass a law busting up the big companies.

I had to wonder about the individual size of each of the large oil companies - they aren't big enough on their own? And just what is it they're doing together that becomes more economical because of their cohesion - other than setting gasoline prices, I mean.


Negotiating With Terrorists

Of course, you know I'm joking, because we don't do that. Not with the Mujahedin e Khalq. Not with anybody else.

U.S. officials said Wednesday that a "joint campaign plan redesign team" is preparing a new diplomatic and military strategy for Iraq, which is expected to be approved by the end of the month.

[...]

One element of the plan is to try to identify groups of people -- including possibly Sunni extremists and militia groups -- with whom U.S. officials feel they can do business, such as negotiating power-sharing and cease-fire agreements and granting economic aid, the sources said.

  Raw Story

We do not negotiate with terrorists. We put them out of business. The terrorists started this war, and the President made it clear that we will end it at a time and place of our choosing. -- Scott McClellan, WH Press Secretary, January 2006


Gonzo's Monica

Monica drove another nail in Gonzo's coffin in her testimony yesterday.

Goodling was asked if the Attorney General had given incomplete testimony with regard to his knowledge of the list of US Attorneys who were set to be fired and her attorney attempted to intervene.

Asked if it was accurate that Gonzales "never saw the US Attorneys list," Goodling responded, "I believe he saw a list," and then affirmed that "it would be inaccurate testimony."

She also said Gonzales's testimony that he had not been briefed on the firings was not accurate, and that Gonzales was present at a Nov. 27 meeting.

  Raw Story

And as for political "favoritism"...

"Sometimes if I interviewed people, even if I wasn't trying to ask a political question, they'd just self-disclose because they knew I was a Republican, and they figured it would help them get the job, I assume. Sometimes people just self-disclose that kind of information to me, and the same thing occurred when I did reference calls. There were times I crossed the line probably in my reference calls by asking, but there were other times I didn't and people just would volunteer the information."

Figuring it would help them get the job, I assume.

"I'm not going to sit here and tell the committee that I could completely exclude it from my brain, sometimes I just knew where they were coming from and I can't say that it didn't play a factor in what I thought about someone. I'm just being honest. Sometimes it helps them."

"Sometimes." Kind of the opposite of this:

Two years ago, Robin C. Ashton, a seasoned criminal prosecutor at the Department of Justice, learned from her boss that a promised promotion was no longer hers.

[...]

“You have a Monica problem,” Ms. Ashton was told, according to several Justice Department officials.[...]“She believes you’re a Democrat and doesn’t feel you can be trusted.”

  NYT


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Keith Olbermann Takes the Dems to Task for the Iraq Failure

Good night and good luck.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mopping Up

Looks like Monica is moving to take down not only McNulty, but the Gonzo himself.
Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that he didn't know the answers to some questions about the firings because he was steering clear of aides — such as Goodling — who were likely to be questioned.

"I haven't talked to witnesses because of the fact that I haven't wanted to interfere with this investigation and department investigations," Gonzales told the panel.

[...]

[But Goodling told] House investigators Wednesday that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales tried to review his version of the prosecutor firings with her at a time when lawmakers were homing in on conflicting accounts.

"It made me a little uncomfortable," Monica Goodling, Gonzales' former White House liaison, said of her conversation with the attorney general just before she took a leave of absence in March. "I just did not know if it was appropriate for us to both be discussing our recollections of what had happened."

[...]

She added that she thought Gonzales was trying to be kind.

  Yahoo

Sweet little snake, ain't she?

"The attorney general has never attempted to influence or shape the testimony or public statements of any witness in this matter, including Ms. Goodling," said spokesman Brian Roehrkasse. "The statements made by the attorney general during this meeting were intended only to comfort her in a very difficult period of her life."

For folks otherwise slicing and dicing US Attorneys in political power moves, and defenders of torture, it's just heartwarming how nice they are to each other, innit?


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Are You Ready to Rumblllllllllllllllllllllllllllllle....

McNulty has issued his response to Goodling's testimony: She lied.


The Other Monica

Via Think Progress, here's Monica's testimony on whether she worked with the White House in the purge business.

I have never attended a meeting of the White House Judicial Selection Committee. The attorney general and Kyle Sampson attended those meetings. To the best of my recollection, I’ve never had a conversation with Karl Rove or Harriet Miers while I served at the Department of Justice. And I’m certain that I never spoke to either of them about the hiring or firing of any U.S. attorney.

Not that I would place any of these characters above flat-out Bush Administration-patterned bald faced lies, but I believe we have reason enough from past performances out of White House criminals to believe Monica might be parsing her words carefully so as to not actually perjure herself. So let's think about what that statement doesn't say. It doesn't say she never met with Karl Rove or Harriet Miers (perhaps before she was hired, to talk about what they expected out of her if she took the position), and it doesn't say she never discussed the hiring or firing via email or other written communication with either of them. And it doesn't say that she didn't get orders passed on to her from a go-between. And finally, "to the best of my recollection."

Of course, there's a possibility that they brought this naive young hard-ass-Christian-Republican girl into the den of thieves to use as needed for hatchet work and then leave her hanging in the wind. There is some hint of that in her opening statement today. (Not the hard-ass part - she says she's a quiet person who tries to treat people kindly and do the right thing.)


....hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Domestic Policy

Via Project for the Old American Century, I have discovered some interesting things about Bush's Domestic Policy Adviser, Karl Zinsmeister.

In 2004, Zinsmeister posted to the American Enterprise Institute website an article from the Syracuse New Times about himself. In the process, he also altered a previous statement attributed to him in which he had said that "people in Washington are morally repugnant, cheating, shifty human beings." He subsequently admitted that it was "foolish" to do so, but claimed that he did so to correct the record without criticizing the mistakes of a young journalist. This resulted in a heated exchange between White House press secretary Tony Snow and longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas.

Later in 2006, the New York Sun reported that Zinsmeister may have run afoul of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 while editing The American Enterprise by taking out advertisements that sought "young" applicants. Further, Zinsmeister used a pseudonym – belonging to the long-dead British writer Gilbert K. Chesterton – in some of the ads.

  Wikipedia

With scant experience in government or campaigns, Zinsmeister seemed an unlikely choice for White House domestic policy chief. [Ed: au contraire]

[...]

[Zinsmeister] wrote a piece titled "How America Is Winning a Guerilla War." A year after that, he declared victory. "The War is Over, and We Won," announced a June 2005 piece. "With the exception of periodic flare-ups in isolated corners, our struggle in Iraq as warfare is over," he wrote. Although there will still be "egregious acts of terror," he said, "contrary to the impression given by most newspaper headlines, the United States has won the day in Iraq."

[...]

Zinsmeister lamented a "forced diversity crusade" that fuels more alienation than it solves and argued that "Americans should jettison affirmative action and all racial preferences."

[...]

For a dozen years until his appointment, Zinsmeister held forth on all manner of issues and personalities as editor in chief of the American Enterprise Institute's magazine. With a sharp pen, he skewered the left, taking special aim at environmentalists, anti-globalists, feminists, contemporary artists, university faculties, Hollywood, Broadway and particularly the media, composed mainly of "left-wing, cynical, wiseguy Ivy League types, with a high prima donna quotient."

[...]

As Zinsmeister sees it, racial profiling by the police makes sense; the military, if anything, treats terrorist suspects too gently; and casual sex has led to wrecked cities, violence and "endless human misery." In a "soft, often amoral, and self-indulgent age," he warned, some children "will be ruined without a whip hand," and he assured that "things generally go better with God."

  WaPo

A new article in The New Republic shows that Zinsmeister was also hostile toward women. A former American Enterprise editor, Karina Rollins, remembers that Zinsmeister constantly attacked the magazine’s art director, Jo Roback-Paul, criticizing her for going to a doctor’s appointment and for taking maternity leave:
But the biggest grievance harbored by the magazine’s staff concerned Zinsmeister himself. “He went to his son’s basketball game, and then he would give Jo [Roback-Pal] a hard time about a doctor’s appointment,” Rollins says. … While Zinsmeister frequently complained about Roback-Pal to other staffers at the magazine — telling [then-business manager Garth] Cadiz that she was “useless” and “never there” — her former colleagues say that she never missed a deadline and that he was “abusive” toward her. When she angered him by taking a four-month maternity leave, Zinsmeister told Cadiz, “I am never going to hire another woman because they just get pregnant and leave.”

  Think Progress

This is our Domestic Policy chief. One scary son-of-a-bitch.


He and Ann Coulter might make a good couple.


Attorney Purge

Looks like McNulty is going to be the fallguy in this one.

The Justice Department's former White House liaison denied Wednesday that she played a major role in the firings of U.S. attorneys last year and blamed Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty for misleading Congress about the dismissals.

McNulty's explanation, on Feb. 6, "was incomplete or inaccurate in a number of respects," Monica Goodling told a packed House Judiciary Committee inquiry into the firings.

She added: "I believe the deputy was not fully candid."

  Yahoo

Not that I think the man is innocent in the deal, but I'm a little suspicious about the truth of this all falling into McNulty's realm of responsibility. I think it's more likely that Goodling was calling the shots at Rove's behest. But that's the price McNulty pays for pissing 'em off. That's how they play the game.

Back in March, Bob Fertik blogged that Goodling didn't take the fifth for her own protection, but to protect Karl Rove, based on information from the McClatchy papers.

Goodling took a leading role in making sure that Tim Griffin, a protege of presidential adviser Karl Rove, replaced H.E. 'Bud' Cummins as the U.S. attorney in Arkansas. Documents released to Congress include communications between Goodling and Scott Jennings, Rove's deputy.
Goodling must remain silent to protect Rove. That's why she has one of the most expensive lawyers in DC, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Well, that lawyer has had lots of time to prepare her for her testimony today. I suspect everybody's sweating bullets watching her.

[Goodling] said she never spoke to former White House counsel Harriet Miers or Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, about the firings. But she admitted to have considered applicants for jobs as career prosecutors based on their political loyalties — a violation of federal law.

"I may have gone too far, and I may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account on some occasions," Goodling said. "And I regret those mistakes."

Rep. Bobby Scott (news, bio, voting record), D-Va., hammered Goodling on her decisions to hire prosecutors who favored Republicans.

"Do you believe they were illegal or legal?" Scott asked.

"I don't believe I intended to commit a crime," Goodling, a lawyer, answered.

"Did you break the law? Is it against the law to take those considerations into account?" Scott said.

"I believe I crossed the line, but I didn't mean to," she responded.

  Yahoo

Messiah University grad and Bush lackey Monica Goodling

In Case of Emergency

Remember the post I recently published commenting about Bush's need for another trifecta?

With scarcely a mention in the mainstream media, President Bush has ordered up a plan for responding to a catastrophic attack.

In a new National Security Presidential Directive, Bush lays out his plans for dealing with a “catastrophic emergency.”

Under that plan, he entrusts himself with leading the entire federal government, not just the Executive Branch. And he gives himself the responsibility “for ensuring constitutional government.”

He laid this all out in a document entitled "National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51" and "Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20."

The White House released it on May 9.

[...]

It defines a “catastrophic emergency” as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function.”

This could mean another 9/11, or another Katrina, or a major earthquake in California, I imagine, since it says it would include “localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies.”

  Progressive

[He] gives himself the responsibility “for ensuring constitutional government.”

And we know what he thinks of the Constitution.

Now you're feeling much better about the future, aren't you?


Funding the Occupation

Try to control your amazement.

The Democrats took the troop withdrawal timetable caveat out of the Iraq funding bill. It now has "benchmarks."

Feingold won't support it. As if anybody in Washington gives a fig.

"There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action. Congress should have stood strong, acknowledged the will of the American people, and insisted on a bill requiring a real change of course in Iraq.”


Taking the Fifth

It's Rove's secretary this time. A la Monica Goodling, who took the fifth before even being called to testify in the Attorney Purge investigation (happening now).

Karl Rove’s former secretary, Susan Ralston, will plead the Fifth if she is forced to testify about White House dealings with Jack Abramoff, according to a memo released by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform today.

  TPM Muckraker

Josh Marshall says it's "the latest fad for young Republican guns."


Friends With Dictators

Unless they're Hugo Chavez.

As a follow-up to the previous post, I thought I'd throw this in from early this month.

On an unusually warm morning in Washington, D.C., last spring, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stood before a pack of reporters for a briefing, one of Africa's most notorious dictators at her side [Teodoro Obiang, president of the tiny, oil-rich nation of Equatorial Guinea].

[...]

Equatorial Guinea has one of the world's highest incomes per capita, but in one of the 10 most corrupt nations on earth, little of that money trickles down. Obiang rules the country with an iron fist: According to State Department reports, suspects have been tortured to death and prisoners raped by police.

[...]

Equatoguinean radio has declared that Obiang has "permanent contact with the Almighty" and therefore can "kill anyone without being called to account." Rice turned to Obiang. "Thank you very much for your presence here," she cooed. "You are a good friend, and we welcome you."

  Mother Jones

The Mother Jones article is actually one about (US) PR firms hired to "put lipstick on a dictator", and ends on this note:

[M]ost rebranding is focused on making it easier for rogues to do business with the White House. And it works: Kazahkstan's Nazarbayev won a meeting with President Bush last September. After employing three PR firms and various policy consultants, Azerbaijan's strongman, Ilham Aliyev, not only got an audience with Bush last April, but Bush subsequently announced that Aliyev "understands that democracy is the wave of the future." If so, he has a long way to go: Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch recalls watching Aliyev's "democracy" in action in 2003. "The government clearly stole the election, and then brutally beat hundreds of people who poured out in the streets in protest. The day after the election, I watched from the roof of a hotel in Baku as thousands of riot police beat protesters unconscious."

Just a different kind of democracy.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


It's a Different Kind of Democracy

Kazakhstan's opposition accused the United States on Wednesday of backing what they see as the authoritarian regime of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and valuing oil more than democracy.

  Alternet

Oh, please! The U.S.?! Value oil more than democracy?! Well, that's just too ridiculous to even comment on.

Nazarbayev, who has been in power since 1989, would have had to step down when his current term expires in 2012, but he changed the constitution this week to give himself the right to stay in office for life.

Washington called the amendments, which included other reforms such as strengthening parliament, a move in the "right direction".

It's enough to make you weep.

Isn't trying to give yourself a path to being president for life what has earned Hugo Chavez demonization in Washington?

U.S. oil firms have invested heavily in Kazakhstan, which is expected to join the world's top 10 oil producers in a decade. Washington has also persuaded Kazakhstan to join a pipeline that takes Caspian oil to European markets while bypassing Russia.

[...]

Another opposition leader, Bolat Abilov, said "even monarchs don't have such power", adding that the opposition was preparing to hold a rally to protest against the amendments next week.

[...]

"Anyone who is more or less educated will see they are only 10 percent democratic and the rest is aimed at strengthening the authoritarian regime," Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, head of the opposition Social Democratic party, told a news conference.

Yeah, well, anyone who is more or less educated isn't running the government of the United States, Zharm my man.

W3IAI comments:

Anyway, says the US ambassador, just because there are no longer term limits, it is “very speculative” to suggest that that means Nazarbayev will be president-for-life, just because he’s fixed every election he’s ever held. At the daily State Dept briefing, Scott McCormack also claimed there were “a whole host” of reforms that indicated Kazakhstan was moving “in the right direction." He was unable to name any of them.

Number one: They joined a pipeline that takes oil to Europe and bypasses Russia.

By the way, who do we know who was on the oil advisory board for Kazakhstan?

Here's Kazakhstan's record on human rights as of 2006 - taken right from the U.S. Department of State website:

The following human rights problems were reported: severe limits on citizens' rights to change their government; an incident of unlawful deprivation of life; military hazing that led to deaths; detainee and prisoner abuse; unhealthy prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly of government opponents; lack of an independent judiciary; increased restrictions on freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and association; pervasive corruption, especially in law enforcement and the judicial system; restrictions on the activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); discrimination and violence against women; trafficking in persons; and societal discrimination.

So, actually, I'm thinking that Washington is jealous of Nazarbayev and, along with the following information (also from the State Dept. website), and the removal of term restrictions for the president, of course Washington declared Kazakhstan is moving in "the right direction."

President Nazarbayev was re elected for a third 7-year term in December 2005; observers criticized that election as falling short of a number of international standards. The constitution concentrates power in the presidency, permitting the president to control regional and local governments and to exercise significant influence over the legislature and judiciary. Changes or amendments to the constitution require presidential consent. The president exercised control over the military and the security forces, although members of the security forces committed human rights abuses in a few instances.

The Bush administration dreams of this kind of a government. And they're working on getting us there, too.


...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Next Up...

Monica Goodling testifies today in the Attorney Purge investigation. Background.


Insane McCain Campaign

"Maybe I should wait a couple weeks and see if it changes," Ryan Sager reports Senator McCain saying in reference to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's position on immigration. "Maybe he can get out his small varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his yard."

  Raw Story

McCain's just too easy. I think he'd be an even easier target than Dubya, and I never could have imagined the possibility of there being an easier stupid-target even a few months ago. Maybe Karl Rove has a campaign to put somebody out there that makes Dubya look sane.

And, oh...you think the New York Times is promoting Rudy?


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


What Now for the World Bank?

In the wake of the Wolfowtiz debacle, media are now taking a closer look at the big international financial institutions.

The World Bank’s cumulative lending to China, for example, is $40 billion for 274 projects. But China is now an export superpower, sitting on more than $1 trillion in reserves, and is so wealthy that it recently announced its own $20 billion program of loans and credits to Africa. Many question whether the bank should be lending to China at all.

  NYT

Given that rundown, I might ask that same question. I wonder if it has anything to do with the sizeable U.S. debt held by the Chinese.

Allan H. Meltzer, professor of political economy and public policy at Carnegie Mellon, wants the World Bank to quit loaning money altogether and provide grants to impoverished countries. I think Professor Meltzer can go sit down.

World Bank figures show, for example, that the bank’s own contribution to the poorest countries amounts to only about 7 percent of the government-backed aid they get from 230 international aid agencies, including regional development banks and special funds in Europe for disease, education, maternal health and other programs.

[...]

During the crisis surrounding Mr. Wolfowitz, European countries threatened to channel money for the poorest countries through other agencies. Now that he is leaving, many experts said, that is bound to happen anyway.

We'll see.

(P.S. I don't know why, but I would expect the New York Times to do better in their reporting than to say "many experts said". How many? Who? For instance. The NYT isn't a blog, you know.)

And let's not forget the International Monetary Fund that's been sucking Latin American and other poor countries dry and which has been nose-thumbed by Hugo Chavez, and other South American leaders, with Ecuador going so far as to kick the World Bank rep out of the country.

Criticism of the monetary fund has also erupted from leaders in Asia and Latin America whose countries staggered under austerity programs imposed by the fund in return for the bailouts of the 1990s. These leaders have begun discussing plans for regional funds to compete with the International Monetary Fund.

[...]

“In the past I have called for the abolition of the I.M.F.,” said former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, who is also a former Treasury secretary. “If it disappeared tomorrow, I don’t think people would miss it very much.”

Maybe in a good way.


Science

I don't want to mention here that even though the current administration pretends not to believe in science, they don't mind making use of its findings.

So, let me just say, it's a brave new world.

Have happy thoughts.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


No More Attorney Appointments Without Approval

The US House of Representatives today passed a bill that closes a "loophole" that allowed President Bush to circumvent the Senate confirmation process for federal prosecutors.

The legislation, authored by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), passed the House with a vote of 306-114. It has already cleared the Senate (94-2), and it is expected that Bush will sign it into law.

  Raw Story

He will? What gives? Oh wait. I know. That's a pretty hefty margin of passing. Why put yourself in the position of having your veto overridden? You wouldn't look all-powerful that way, would you?

The jig is up on that sneaky deal.

But, not to worry. We have others.


Fanning the Flames of Armageddon

Isn't God supposed to destroy the world by fire this time?

Let's help.

First, we'll support the Shia in Iraq against the Sunni. Next, we'll support the Sunni everywhere else against the Shia. We'll authorize the CIA to destabilize the Iranian government with covert ops like we did in Iraq (and many other countries around the globe) because that worked so well, including supporting a US-designated terrorist organization, the Mujahedin e Khalq.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fighting Them Over There

That would appear to be the desire of both Cheney-Bush and bin Laden. The "following us back here if we leave Iraq" ridiculous line (What? They can't find their way here if we don't lead them? How'd they get here on 9/11?) should be put to rest not only for the stupidity, but for the inaccuracy...

As Professor Robert A. Pape proved in his book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism – by studying every single individual suicide bomber on Earth between 1980 and 2004 – the one characteristic that all suicide bombers have in common is the presence of foreign combat forces in their country – not Islam.

[...]

The Bush team's invasion killed a few birds with one stone for bin Laden: It got rid of the Ba'athists, put tens of thousands of Americans within rifle range and it created a training ground and propaganda tool for new recruits.

There had never been a suicide bombing in Iraq before 2003. Never. Now there have been well over a thousand.

[...]

Ask an old Commie. He'll tell you, "The action is in the reaction."

This is why they knocked down the towers: al-Qaeda's purpose was to give the United States "no choice" but to come fight on their territory personally instead of, as they saw it, through their Western-installed governments and the Israelis, and then "bleed" us until the American people demand an end to the intervention or the dollar breaks, whichever comes first.

Bin Laden couldn't have laid out his strategy more clearly than in his speech of October 2004:

Continue reading at Antiwar.com...


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


The American Wage Slave - Part 2

Looking for employment? Need a cover letter?


Plan B?

During a private White House meeting earlier this year, President Bush and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace were asked by a group of governors about their backup plan for Iraq. [...] Pace reportedly told them, “Plan B was to make Plan A work.”

  Think Progress


Bush's Baghdad Palace

The new US Embassy.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


British Pull-Out?

Bush has been briefed by White House officials to expect an announcement on British troop withdrawals during Brown's first 100 days in office, The Sunday Telegraph said.

The president was advised on how to handle the aftermath of a British pullout and the end of steadfast support from London, said the broadsheet, citing senior officials.

  smh.com.au

"Mr. President, you're going to need another trifecta."


Falluja Redux

If you don't remember what an unmitigated disaster the attempt to take Falluja was, you can check the YWA blogs on it here (a permanent link is in the sidebar).

Now, it appears we are about to go after Sadr City, proving I can sometimes still be surprised...

Commanders say they intend to use political negotiations to gain peaceful entry into the district, bringing with them Iraqi forces and reconstruction projects. U.S. officials hope "to take Sadr City without a shot fired," said Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., the senior U.S. general overseeing Baghdad.

But negotiations have had setbacks, with key players shot or intimidated.

[...]

If political avenues are exhausted, the U.S. military has formulated other options, including plans for a wholesale clearing operation in Sadr City that would require a much larger force, but commanders stress that this is a last resort.

  

Not particularly comforting when you stop and think about the chances of "political negotiations" gaining "peaceful entry". What? Al Sadr's group is just going to let the Americans waltz in and set up shop? We don't take hints very well, do we? What with "key players" being "shot or intimidated."

"A second Fallujah plan exists, but we don't want to execute it," a military officer in Baghdad said, referring to the U.S. military offensive in November 2004 to retake the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah in Iraq's western Anbar province. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with reporters.

Provide your own retort.


Mike at Born at the Crest of the Empire comments:

I'm not sure if this was "leaked" to pressure the folks in Sadr City, but if they're serious, they'd better look again. Fallujah had only 400,000 residents at the time, and the city is far more spread out.

Sadr City is 2 million people stacked into an apartment block slum.

"Clearing" Sadr City would be impossible with the forces currently available.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.




Actually, Falluja is still very much involved in the violence, even though the US tries to put a positive spin on it.

Progress in Fallujah is "phenomenal," he said, describing how although the 2004 Operation al-Fajr almost destroyed the city, with nearly all the residents being captured or killed, the city today has almost 4,000 residents.

"Fallujah today is an economically strong and flourishing city," Simcock said. "We're making great progress."

They never tire of spewing that bullshit, do they? I wouldn't call 4,000 "strong and flourishing." That may be a typo or a misquote. And then again, it may be exactly the kind of idiot logic we've come to expect. The Huntsville Times reports that Falluja has "well over" 350,000 people "and growing." I don't know what the real figure might be. Reports I've read say there were approximately 350,000 when we drove out most of them and tore it up. I read somewhere 36,000 out of its 50,000 homes were destroyed. I just don't know. But, here's another loose set of stats in light of a new British play:

The US attack on Fallujah in April 2004 convulsed the city – between 60 and 70 per cent of the buildings were flattened and even today the population stands at only 30-50 per cent of its pre-war level. Yet there is little public knowledge of what has been described as “one of the most extensive human rights violations of recent times”. Now a play at the Old Truman Brewery in London’s Brick Lane is trying to put it back on the map.

It’s an uphill task. A performance about a ruthless assault in a murderous war is not everyone’s choice of an evening out.

  OneWorld UK

Even so, I imagine it will play better in England than it would on this side of the pond.

P.P.S. While they may no longer be making headlines, those soldiers are still missing.


Update 5/25: Car bomb exploded at a funeral in Falluja.

Uh-oh

As Rudolph W. Giuliani runs for president, his image as a chief executive who steered New York through the disaster of Sept. 11 has become a pillar of his campaign. But one former member of his inner circle keeps surfacing to revisit that history in ways that are unflattering to Mr. Giuliani: Jerome M. Hauer, New York City’s first emergency management director.

In recent days, Mr. Hauer has challenged Mr. Giuliani’s recollection that he had little role as mayor in placing the city’s emergency command center at the ill-fated World Trade Center.

Mr. Hauer has also disputed the claim by the Giuliani campaign that the mayor’s wife, Judith Giuliani, had coordinated a help center for families after the attack.

And he has contradicted Mr. Giuliani’s assertions that the city’s emergency response was well coordinated that day, a point he made most notably to the authors of “Grand Illusion,” a book that depicts Mr. Giuliani’s antiterrorism efforts as deeply flawed.

  NYT

Maybe Rudy should have gotten his other friend, Bernard Kerik, to pay a visit to Mr. Hauer before he started talking.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Purge: Attorneys and Democratic Voters

Slate gives us more information on the voting rights angle of the Great Attorney Purge. As I've been saying since the story broke and I read a Black Commentator piece about the Bush administration DOJ's Civil Rights Division, it appears that the major purpose of the purge was more insurance for Republican election successes.
[The American Center for Voting Rights] ACVR—the only prominent nongovernmental organization claiming that voter fraud is a major problem, a problem warranting strict rules such as voter-ID laws—simply stopped appearing at government panels and conferences. Its Web domain name has suddenly expired, its reports are all gone (except where they have been preserved by its opponents), and its general counsel, Mark "Thor" Hearne, has cleansed his résumé of affiliation with the group. Hearne won't speak to the press about ACVR's demise.

[...]

Presidential adviser Karl Rove and his allies, who have been ghostbusting illusory dead and fictional voters since the contested 2000 election, apparently mounted a two-pronged attack. One part of that attack, at the heart of the current Justice Department scandals, involved getting the DoJ and various U.S. attorneys in battleground states to vigorously prosecute cases of voter fraud. That prong has failed. After exhaustive effort, the Department of Justice discovered virtually no polling-place voter fraud, and its efforts to fire the U.S. attorneys in battleground states who did not push the voter-fraud line enough has backfired.

[...]

But the second prong of this attack may have proven more successful.

If you read the rest of the Slate article, it explains how the AVCR helped to push the ideas behind recent laws in many states that make it more difficult for minority citizens to vote.

Democracy overseas - our favorite export. But it just isn't what we want here.


Monday, May 21, 2007

The American Wage Slave

There's a study about sick leave and vacation for American workers that doesn't surprise me about the sick leave (too little, especially for low wage earners: 86% of food service workers don't get sickc pay, so they show up to work at that restaurant you like to go to, sneezing and coughing on the food they're preparing and serving you).

But the figures on vacation time did indeed surprise me.

According to the CEPR study (pdf), about a quarter of workers don't get any paid vacation or holidays. If you make less than $15 an hour, that number jumps to 31%. If you do get paid vacation, on average, you get 12 days of it a year. That's less than the statutory minimum in every advanced country save Japan and Canada...

Thirty-one percent of people making under $15 an hour don't get vacations or holidays?

Yeah, well, yer lucky you have a job. Git back to work and quitcher bitchin' 'cuz there's a line of people waitin' to do it if you don't want it.


Government Hobblers

A NYT editorial introduces Bush's latest signature appointee. Some day, if I ever finish labeling YWA old posts (I guess I'd have to start again in order to finish), or if I just get the energy to do a little online research, I might make a list of the agencies and amazingly inappropriate appointees to head them that the Bush administration has installed.

Across six years, the Bush administration has mocked all standards of conflict of interest by choosing private industry zealots for high regulatory posts — where they worked to roll back hundreds of rules on transportation, workplace and mine safety, the environment and other issues. The latest in this subversive chain must surely take the fox-in-the-henhouse statuette: President Bush has nominated Michael Baroody, lobbyist for the powerful National Association of Manufacturers, to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

[...]

As a lobbyist for the N.A.M., Mr. Baroody was a key figure in industry’s successful campaign to water down commission standards requiring notice from companies about defective products, from toys to appliances.

  NYT Editorial


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Update 5/23: Baroody withdrew.

Where Comey's Coming From

It would seem James Comey believes his personal integrity and the Constitution are both inviolable. Not to mention his lack of gullibility.

Soon after Gonzales became attorney general, his then chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, told Comey that Gonzales's "vision" was to merge the deputy's office with Gonzales's own office. That meant that Comey would have lost some of his autonomy, becoming less of a leader and more of a senior staff member. A source close to Sampson says he merely wanted Gonzales and Comey to operate as a "seamless leadership team," with "harmony rather than conflict," and never meant to "degrade the status or authority" of the deputy. Comey didn't buy it. "You may want to try that with the next deputy attorney general," Comey is said to have responded to Sampson. "But it's not going to work with me."

  US News


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


If When Gonzo Goes

Some folks in the comments section of a blog I was reading were concerned about the possibility that Gonzo was stalling leaving just long enough to get to a Labor Day weekend recess so Bush could appoint a replacement without having to get Senate confirmation. Some asked if that were possible. I don't have the answer to that, but apparently Harry Reid is getting together a little plan to keep recess appointments from happening this summer.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a little trick up his sleeve that could spell an end to President Bush's devilish recess appointments of controversial figures like former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton. We hear that over the long August vacation, when those types of summer hires are made, Reid will call the Senate into session just long enough to force the prez to send his nominees who need confirmation to the chamber. The talk is he will hold a quickie "pro forma" session every 10 days, tapping a local senator to run the hall.

  US News

If only he can get Democrats willing to cut into their precious recess.


Annnnnd....They're Off!

Insane McCain, Part Whatever....

"Fuck you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room." -- John McCain to John Cornyn (R-Tex)

At a bipartisan gathering in an ornate meeting room just off the Senate floor, McCain complained that Cornyn was raising petty objections to a compromise plan being worked out between Senate Republicans and Democrats and the White House. He used a curse word associated with chickens and accused Cornyn of raising the issue just to torpedo a deal.

Things got really heated when Cornyn accused McCain of being too busy campaigning for president to take part in the negotiations, which have gone on for months behind closed doors. "Wait a second here," Cornyn said to McCain. "I've been sitting in here for all of these negotiations and you just parachute in here on the last day. You're out of line."

  Raw Story

And that's when Insane McCain responded in the Bush Administration diplomatic lingo.

McCain left the Capitol to head to New York for presidential campaign events. Later that day, McCain missed his 43rd straight vote.

In essence repeating what he'd just said.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Weekend Break

I'll be taking the weekend off from blogging. See you Monday.


....but hey, you do what you want....you will anyway.


Whoa Ron!

Here's why our foreign policy isn't the only measuring stick for Presidential voting....My friend TJ at Project for the Old American Century, snagged this bit from Wonkette via TPM Cafe. Mr. Paul's very racist statements from the past give me a little better view of my district's representative to the House. So, you can pretty well scratch whatever pluses I gave him in previous posts. Live and learn.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Another Sudden Resignation

Wheels. Wagon. House of cards. All that.

Bush's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs (with the Bush administration qualifications you have come to know and expect) has suddenly resgined.


Me either - I didn't know there was a Population Affairs department.


Purge States


Funny how there aren't any in "red" states.

Nicely put together at Cannonfire.


Comey's Testimony

I continue to present information on this, because I think there lurks in this story the essence of the criminal Bush administration, and as more information comes out, more evidence is offered. In case you didn't or couldn't view the video of Comey testifying, Michael Collins offers the major points we need to focus on, and what they imply, in an article at Scoop subtitled Bush, Gonzales, Card Clearly Implicated (in a crime).


So Long, Wolf

Don't let the door hit you on your way out.

For his part, Wolfowitz said he was pleased that the board "accepted my assurance that I acted ethically and in good faith in what I believed were the best interests of the institution, including protecting the rights of a valued staff member."

  Yahoo

The reports I've heard on radio say the World Bank Board was very angry with Wolfowitz, and that work had come to a near standstill the past two months. So, in order to get on with business, and just to get him out of there, they agreed to a statement that acknowledged he did nothing improper and also that listed all the wonderful things he supposedly did while he was there. In the words of one radio reporter, that was the price they paid to get rid of him.

But the old combsucker is pleased. Living in a make-believe world. It's the Bushie way.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Comey's Testimony

Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker offers a synopsis of how it came about that James Comey tripped up the warrantless wiretaps program:

The warantless wiretap surveillance program stank. For two and a half years, Ashcroft signed off on the program every forty-five days without any real knowledge of what it entailed. In his defense, the advisors who were supposed to review such things on his behalf were denied access; to his everlasting shame, he did not press hard enough to have that corrected.

When Comey came on board, he insisted on being granted access, and had Goldsmith review the program. What they found was so repugnant to any notion of constitutional liberties that even Ashcroft, once briefed, was willing to resign rather than sign off again.

[...]

There’s hope we’ll find out what was really going on. I’d highlight this portion of Specter’s remarks from the hearing: “Mr. Comey, it's my hope that we will have a closed session with you to pursue the substance of this matter further. Because your standing up to them is very important, but it's also very important what you found on the legal issue on this unnamed subject, which I infer was the terrorist surveillance program. And you're not going to comment about it. I think you could. I think you could even tell us what the legalisms were. Doesn't involve a matter of your advice or what the president told you, et cetera. But I'm going to discuss it with Senator Leahy later and see about pursuing that question to try to find out about it.”

And then Leahy, in response: “We will have a closed-door hearing on this. Senator Specter and I are about to have a briefing on aspects of this.” Can’t wait to hear what leaks out of that.


The Ashcroft Moment

Bush was asked about the call placed to the hospital trying to take advantage of a very ill John Ashcroft. Josh Marshall has some video of it, and this comment:

The funny thing about this dodge is that the president is saying not only that the nature of the program is highly classified and must be kept secret, which may be true, but that his apparent order for Gonzales and Card to go squeeze the semi-concsious John Ashcroft is also highly classified and must be kept secret. Somehow I just don't get that one. The president's refusal to answer tells the tale. The president gave the order and even placed the call, as James Comey all but told us yesterday.


....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Bush and Blair Part

There is a very amusing YouTube video posted at W3IAI. Well, I think it's amusing.


....but hey, you think what you want....you will anyway.


Ron Paul

It's surprising that I'm promoting a Republican politician, but after the media get through with Ron Paul, I don't think you'll be hearing any more about him. I recommend taking a look at his website. On one page, there's this bulleted list of his ideals regarding government:
Rights belong to individuals, not groups.
Property should be owned by people, not government.
All voluntary associations should be permissible -- economic and social.
The government's monetary role is to maintain the integrity of the monetary unit, not participate in fraud.
Government exists to protect liberty, not to redistribute wealth or to grant special privileges.
The lives and actions of people are their own responsibility, not the government's.

I'm sure I'd have some arguments, but he must find it difficult to actually be a modern Republican.

Here's a taste of an address regarding Iraq:

Instead of questioning who has the best interests of our troops at heart, we should be debating which policy is best for our country. Defensive wars to preserve our liberties, fought only with proper congressional declarations, are legitimate. Casualties under such circumstances still are heartbreaking, but they are understandable. Casualties that occur in undeclared, unnecessary wars, however, are bewildering. Why must so many Americans be killed or hurt in Iraq when our security and our liberty were not threatened?

Clichés about supporting the troops are designed to distract us from failed policies, policies promoted by powerful special interests that benefit from war. Anything to steer the discussion away from the real reasons the war in Iraq will not end anytime soon.

And here's his February address regarding the threat to attack Iran:

HON. RON PAUL OF TEXAS
Before the U.S. House of Representatives
February 6, 2007

Don't Do It, Mr. President

It’s a bad idea.
There’s no need for it.
There’s great danger in doing it.
America is against it, and Congress should be.
The United Nations is against it.
The Russians, the Chinese, the Indians, and the Pakistanis are against it.
The whole world is against it.
Our allies are against it.
Our enemies are against it.
The Arabs are against it.
The Europeans are against it.
The Muslims are against it.
We don’t need to do this.
The threat is overblown.
The plan is an hysterical reaction to a problem that does not yet exist.
Hysteria is never a good basis for foreign policy.
Don’t we ever learn?
Have we already forgotten Iraq?
The plan defies common sense.
If it’s carried out, the Middle East, and possibly the world, will explode.
Oil will soar to over $100 a barrel, and gasoline will be over $5 a gallon.
Despite what some think, it won’t serve the interests of Israel.
Besides-- it’s illegal.
It’s unconstitutional.
And you have no moral authority to do it.
We don’t need it.
We don’t want it.
So, Mr. President, don’t do it.
Don’t bomb Iran!
The moral of the story, Mr. Speaker, is this: if you don’t have a nuke, we’ll threaten to attack you. If you do have a nuke, we’ll leave you alone. In fact, we’ll probably subsidize you. What makes us think Iran does not understand this?

And he could have said...

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.