Saturday, November 12, 2005

They're Shocked, SHOCKED, To Find There's a Torture Story Leaking Out!

Think Again: Cheney and the Intel Reporting: What's New, Pussycats?

by Eric Alterman
November 10, 2005

On Tuesday, Senator Bill Frist and Representative Dennis Hastert, responding to a story written by The Washington Post's Dana Priest on secret CIA "black site" prisons scattered throughout the globe, demanded a joint investigation into the origin of the article. The two sent a letter to the chairmen of the Congressional Intelligence Committees, saying that "such an egregious disclosure could have long-term and far-reaching damaging and dangerous consequences and will imperil our efforts to protect the American people and our homeland from terrorist attacks." Right-wing blogs and pundits immediately declared their support for such an inquiry, smelling blood in “so-called liberal media" waters.

Only problem for Hastert and Frist, as we've seen time and again with foreign policy screw-ups in this administration, is that all roads tend to lead back to the vice president – the present case being no exception. Trent Lott, who appears to be about as far off the Republican reservation as one could get, spilled the beans on Wednesday that "a lot" of the details in the Post story were identical to information the vice president had shared with a group of Republican lawmakers a day before the story appeared. Oops. As Lott told The Los Angeles Times, "Information that was said in there, given out in there, did get into the newspaper.... I don't know where else it came from ... it looked to me that at least one of those reports came right out of that room."

But this is no joke – especially to Vice President Cheney, who first disseminated the information to Republican senators, one of whom – or one of whose aides – presumably leaked the story to Priest. As the Post noted on Wednesday, the CIA General Counsel's Office has already contacted the Justice Department to inform them that classified information was released in the Post story.

With this newest revelation, we again find the vice president in the middle of an investigation centering on leaked intelligence. The "black sites" case and the Libby indictment, which came only weeks before, have led the media to finally begin to take a hard look at how the Bush administration has handled sensitive intelligence information in the past, primarily in regard to the intelligence they used to construct a case for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It's heartening to finally see some mainstream attention paid to these issues, but too many reporters are treating the story like it’s new, when in fact we've known about the slapped together intelligence for a few years now.
So now, I'm *guessing* that, if Condi is Darth Jemima, we can finally confirm as fact that Dick Cheney is in fact, the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Stentius...

The Old Guy Demi Moore Dumped.... know, the guy who's dick obviously went limp in the face of her *koffkoff* success in G.I. Jane, has offered a million dollars' bounty on Osama bin Laden.

Presumably this is in addition to the $50 million we already posted three years ago.

Man, is his career really that far in the toilet?

AgitProp Has More on the Virgin Mary Ceiling Tile

In the grand tradition of the Shroud of Turin, the Nixon-faced Potato Chip, and the Steaming Pile of Dogshit in the Shape of Dan Quayle comes this.

Write Your Own Caption!

Fosse, Fosse, Fosse! Twyla, Twyla, Twyla! Madonna, Madonna, Madonna!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Tom DeLay: The Other Red Meat

The last-minute (ed note:plea bargain) negotiations between the lawyers and Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle were arranged after DeLay made what Earle considered a seriously damaging admission about his fundraising activities during an Aug. 17 meeting with the prosecutor in Austin.

At that session, DeLay acknowledged that in 2002 he was informed about and expressed his support for transfers of $190,000 in mostly corporate funds from his Texas political action committee to an arm of the Republican National Committee in Washington and then back to Texas, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named.

Those transfers are at the heart of the prosecutor's investigation of the alleged use of corporate funds in the 2002 Texas elections, in violation of state law. In the prosecutor's view, DeLay's admission put him in the middle of a conspiracy not only to violate that law but also to launder money.

As disclosed by sources involved with the case, the new details present a more complete picture of the sequence of events leading to the indictment of DeLay at the end of September. They reveal the unusual lengths to which DeLay and his lawyers were willing to go to avoid charges that would force him to leave his powerful post -- and how it was DeLay's own words that ultimately got him in trouble with the prosecutor.
Hm. Curious.

Pat Robertson, Try This On For Size

Pat Robertson Warns Pa. Town of Disaster

Fri Nov 11, 2:48 AM ET

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town Thursday that disaster may strike there because they "voted God out of your city" by ousting school board members who favored teaching intelligent design.

All eight Dover, Pa., school board members up for re-election were defeated Tuesday after trying to introduce "intelligent design" — the belief that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power — as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city," Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club."

Eight families had sued the district, claiming the policy violates the constitutional separation of church and state. The federal trial concluded days before Tuesday's election, but no ruling has been issued.

Later Thursday, Robertson issued a statement saying he was simply trying to point out that "our spiritual actions have consequences."

"God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in his eye forever," Robertson said. "If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."

I'll make this offer: The good citizens of Dover can rely on science to get them past any natural disaster, including engineering, modern construction methods, architecture, flood and wind prevention and recovery.

If you'll agree that the next time Kansas gets devastated by a tornado, you ensure that only God will rebuild the houses and repair the damage.

Maybe he can hire a crew to hammer some nails in, I'll even spot you that advantage, given what His Son did for a living....but does lumber come in cubits anymore?

Today's Forecast For France

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Your tin foil helmets will NOT protect you!
It has long been suspected that the government has been using satellites to read and control the minds of certain citizens. The use of aluminum helmets has been a common guerrilla tactic against the government's invasive tactics. Surprisingly, these helmets can in fact help the government spy on citizens by amplifying certain key frequency ranges reserved for government use. In addition, none of the three helmets we analyzed provided significant attenuation to most frequency bands.
Tip of my foil beanie to Blondesense Liz for the heads up...

Y'Know, I'm Sort of Imagining Dubya Opening The Only Paper He Can Stand to Read Anymore...

....when he comes across this:
Bush 'sank' GOP in Virginia

The Washington Times is owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, or as the Republicans in Congress like to call him, Messiah.

Hat Tip To AmericaBlog for wading into the cesspool to find this nugget. And if you think I'd be snarky about this, you ought to see John's comments...

UPDATE from Gort42....
When George Bush visits the Tobyhanna Army Depot tomorrow Sen. Rick Santorum (R-VA) will be 100 miles away.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the "scheduling conflict":

When President Bush touches down in Wilkes-Barre to talk about the war on terrorism Friday, the Senate's No. 3 Republican - the vulnerable Rick Santorum - will be 116 miles away in Philadelphia addressing the American Legion. Unavoidable scheduling conflict, Santorum's office says.
Read more @Gort. Klaatu barada nicked-him

Here's Food For Thought

In light of this week's good news for liberals and progressives, someone looks back (mind you, Sherman Yellen wrote this long before this week):
Lies and evasions have become the coin of the realm in the hands of our national leaders. A clever, well spoken woman boldly lies to the congress and the congress votes to confirm her in office as Secretary of State. This will not be the first time in human history that political leaders lie and redefine patriotism to mean loyalty to a radical ideology and the suppression of information. We have a President reluctant to answer an intelligent opposition, salting the press with fawning, sometimes paid acolytes, just like some South American dictator, determined to answer to no one except his God, and fortunately for this president, he is convinced that God speaks through him. He will not let himself be accountable, will not admit to error, will not accept responsibility for errors made by others during his administration. Accountability is something that Mr. Bush has never recognized in his personal and profession life. Never has the bully pulpit of the Presidency been more accuratly named, serving a bully President.

Many say that we Democrats lost the election because we long ago lost the solid South. As soon as Lyndon Johnson and the Democrats pushed through Civil Rights legistlation that solid Democratic South cracked. The sainted Ronald Regan was eager to exploit this, but he had a sense of shame, a sense that is not shared by his Republican successors. Republicans, willing to pick up the broken pieces of Southern bigotry, reassembled them and founded a new radical conservatism on it. "Conservative" replaced segregationist or bigot as the term of choice. By finding sympathetic figures in minority groups, the new radical conservatives were able to deflect the charges of bigotry. Who needs Bull Connor with a fire hose and a bludgeon when you have Clarence Thomas ready to vote against every law that will lift up his own people? We can take heart when an old Southern segregationist like Senator Byrd speaks up for minority rights, speaks out against the duplicity that brought us to war, his is a rare voice of reason in the Senate.

All this has been done through the manipulation of fear and terror, following the tragedy of 9/11. Never have so few attempted to impose their radical views on so many, not since the Stalinists - those other true believers who serve as a role model for the right in its tactics and in its blind, intolerant certainties.

Sady, the liberals allowed themselves to be redefined as soft on terrorism and crime without putting up much of a fight. One could see it coming years ago when the very name Democratic Party was reduced to "Democrat" Party by its opponents, eager to detach the idea of democratic ideals from the adversary party, smirking as they coined the new truncated name for the opposition. Did we call them the Republic party in return? No, we left them with their "can" and their smirk intact. It sounds so childish, but by letting the radical right corrupt the language, and frame the debate, a great deal of democratic ground was lost without a battle.
Go read the rest of your wake-up call.

Interesting Lies of Judy Miller

Letter to Byron Calame:
My second journalistic sin in your eyes was agreeing to Libby’s request to be considered a “former Hill staffer” in his discussion about Wilson. As you acknowledged, I agreed to that attribution only to hear the information. As I also stressed, Scooter Libby has never been identified in any of my stories as anything other than a “senior Administration official.”
Letter to Maureen Dowd:
Three, as I also told Calame, Scooter Libby has never been identified in any of my stories as anything other than a “senior Administration official,” and never would have been identified in print in one of my stories in any other way. I accepted the attribution for the sole purposes of listening to the information, not publishing it. While I was prepared to listen to what he had to say based on that attribution, I would have attempted to confirm the information he was providing through other sources, preferably on the record, or gone back to him to renegotiate a more appropriate attribution had I decided to write a story.

That leaped off the page at me. Anyone want to find others?

Republican Family Values Redux

Disgusting. How do the Regressives live with themselves, knowing idiots like this rate an 84% approval rating from the Christian Coalition?
U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood and the woman who said he beat her throughout their five-year affair settled a lawsuit Tuesday.

Now that Judy Miller's Had Her Whine and Cheese....

Let's let a real reporter rebut her
Repairing Journalism
Plamegate made some major flaws transparent. Time for a transparent solution.

by Sydney H. Schanberg
November 8th, 2005 11:26 AM

There never was a golden age of journalism—just as there has never been a golden age of medicine, law, education, or any other craft, calling, or profession. But in all such pursuits, there are times when it becomes clear that serious reforms are necessary.
With the Plamegate story having exposed nearly all of the weaknesses of the press (just as it has exposed the failures of an American presidency), this is one of those overhaul times for journalism. My thoughts focus almost entirely on newspaper reporting, since that's where I've spent my nearly 50 years as a journalist and that's what I know about. But it's fairly obvious that television news, radio, blogging, and government information services suffer from similar, or worse, ills.

Journalism's most serious failure, probably, is its reluctance to explain how reporters go about putting together a news story. A large percentage of news stories, for example, begin with a public relations announcement from a government agency, private advocacy group, politician, corporation, celebrity, or other publicity seeker. Sometimes the finished products that appear in a paper are little more than slightly tweaked rewrites of the original press releases. That is known as bad journalism. But we don't talk about it. Even superior newspapers don't write about such things, out of fear that their critics, or the general public, will use this candor against them.

This lack of openness about our tradecraft—this non-transparency—is really the mother of most of the press's troubles. Consider the Plame-gate saga. It cried out for major news stories explaining in detail how reporters in Washington and elsewhere deal with confidential sources and why they give them confidentiality and what the pitfalls are.

It's my guess that if this candor were displayed on a regular basis, reporters would automatically reduce the frequency of the confidentiality grant. We know that in some stories, such as national security matters, confidentiality is crucial if the reporter is to protect a genuine whistle-blower and get the information to the public. But we also know that often it is granted when government officials simply want to spread self-serving accusations or dirt.

For example, in the ongoing Plamegate investigation, Tim Russert, the prominent host of NBC's Meet the Press, says, in effect, that no national security or classified information was discussed in his July 2003 phone conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, who is now indicted. Then why did Russert grant him confidentiality? And why doesn't Russert clear up the matter now by making public a transcript of the deposition he gave to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald? Russert is under no legal obligation to keep his testimony secret, and it will come out anyway if the case goes to trial.

Robert Novak, the columnist who set off the scandal by identifying a CIA operative by name in an article shortly after the Russert-Libby conversation, has also refused to explain his reporting process. Novak is assumed to be cooperating with the prosecutor to avoid a contempt proceeding, but he has left the public in the dark. He says he will discuss his role when the case is concluded.

Here's the conflict in such situations. The press calls for transparency by government, corporations, and everyone else. But here the reporters reject transparency for themselves, and yet they say they are practicing good journalism. The public needs a fuller explanation, and that can only come from the reporters themselves.

And reporters can describe their methods in detail without identifying their confidential sources. Just tell the public, whose "right to know" we are forever invoking, how we go about our work. Again, candor would probably lead the news community to tighten up its methods and become more professional. We wield a lot of power, so there's something out of whack if we go around demanding accountability from others and don't impose the same level of accountability on ourselves. Our mantra could be this: What do we know and how do we know it?

What gives me the right to demand this? Am I so pure? Absolutely not. I've made some whopper mistakes in the past (and will almost certainly make a few more). That's how I learned—from that hollow feeling in the gut when you acknowledge to yourself that you had stretched the meaning of some facts in a story or pumped extra air into your lead paragraph—what the right path for me was. The reader can usually tell the difference between a clean, candid story and a jazzed-up one. More to the point, the reporter always knows.

There are a lot of ways for reporters to professionalize their craft. Admit your goofs quickly. When writing a complex story where a lot of information is still missing, put a paragraph high up in the piece telling the reader all the things that are still unknown to you. That way, you avoid the "voice of God" syndrome we are so often justifiably criticized for.

The press's honesty and credibility have become even more important to an informed public now, as the American presidency has grown increasingly imperial and secretive. The present administration has taken secrecy to new heights, wildly overclassifying documents to control information when no security issue is involved. This White House has actually developed systems for creating its own news and delivery systems, ignoring the traditional press.

The silver lining, if there is one, is that the press seems to be grasping that it's in its own war, one that is important to the electorate. All the more reason for reporters to, among other steps, drop out of the race for personal celebrityhood and develop the willpower to resist competing with gossip or rumors that circulate breathlessly on the Internet if they can't be confirmed—even though it might look as if you've been scooped. Better to be scooped than to be embarrassed by writing junk.

Transparency is the overarching issue. And confronting the problem of anonymous sources, because they are anything but transparent, is a key. While in Indochina during the Vietnam War, after endless off-the-record briefings where half-truths and lies were told, I came to a new view of government disinformation. And this is it: When reporters agree with government officials not to disclose their identity, both sides are making a compact. Reporters are agreeing not to reveal who the sources are or even what government or agency they work for. And the sources, in return, are agreeing to tell reporters, yes, the truth.

What that meant to me was that if they told lies and I could demonstrate through solid reporting that they knew they had lied, then they had broken the compact and I was freed from my grant of confidentiality. And in one instance, in Cambodia, I concluded the compact had been broken and I wrote a story exposing the falsehoods. Not all my press colleagues agreed with my decision. One said that I should have told him and the other reporters at the briefing that I was going to write such a story. In retrospect, I think perhaps he was right. But my regrets are small, because it was my readers who had claim to my first loyalty.

See, Judy? Your loyalty and the Times' is to the readers. Not to the government you so desperately wanted to suck up to because it provided...well, who knows what. Not to the Paper of Record, great journalists always battle their editors for the story to be told, and most definitely not to your own self-interests.

The people. Or, as the Constitution put it:
The conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added...Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The people. Not the chosen. Not the elite (altho that was essentially what comprised the "people" back then). The citizenry.

And you failed to serve them in your capacity as gatekeeper to the truth. You acted more like the truth was a club that we were trying to get into with our black Converse sneakers and our torn T shirts or leisure suits.

WHO THE FUCK DID YOU THINK YOU WERE, YOU INCREDIBLY SKANKY BITCH????? We trusted you to report a story, based on fact, and all you did was retype some notes of conversations held on pillows.

In truth, my dear, in the words of my journalistic mentor, Bill Burrows, I hope you rot in hell.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Times and Reporter Reach Agreement on Her Departure

Published: November 9, 2005

The New York Times and Judith Miller, a veteran reporter for the paper, reached an agreement today that ends her 28-year career at the newspaper and caps more than two weeks of negotiations.

Times Editor's Memo to Staff on Judith Miller (November 9, 2005) Ms. Miller went to jail this summer rather than reveal a confidential source in the C.I.A. leak case. But her release from jail 85 days later and persistent questions about her actions roiled long-simmering concerns about her in the newsroom.

"We are grateful to Judy for her significant personal sacrifice to defend an important journalistic principle," said Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The New York Times. "I respect her decision to retire from The Times and wish her well."

In a memo sent the Times staff at 3:30 p.m. today, Bill Keller, the executive editor, wrote, "In her 28 years at The Times, Judy participated in some great prize winning journalism."

Ms. Miller could not be reached for comment.

Lawyers for Ms. Miller and the paper negotiated a severance package whose details they would not disclose. Under the agreement, Ms. Miller will retire from the newspaper, and The Times will print a letter she wrote to the editor explaining her position. Ms. Miller originally demanded that she be able to write an essay for the paper's Op-Ed page refuting the allegations against her, the lawyers said. The Times refused that demand - Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, said, "We don't use the Op-Ed page for back and forth between one part of the paper and another" - but agreed to let her to write the letter.

In that letter, to be published in The New York Times on Thursday under the heading, "Judith Miller's Farewell," Ms. Miller said she was leaving partly because some of her colleagues disagreed with her decision to testify in the C.I.A. leak case.

"But mainly," she wrote, "I have chosen to resign because over the last few months, I have become the news, something a New York Times reporter never wants to be."

She noted that even before going to jail, she had "become a lightning rod for public fury over the intelligence failures that helped lead our country to war." She said she regretted "that I was not permitted to pursue answers" to questions about those intelligence failures.

As part of the settlement, Mr. Keller made public a personal letter that he wrote to Ms. Miller regarding a memo he sent to the staff on Oct. 21. In that memo, he spoke of his regrets in dealing slowly with problems surrounding Ms. Miller.

In his letter to her, Mr. Keller acknowledged that Ms. Miller had been upset with him over his use of the words "entanglement" and "engagement" in reference to her relationship with I. Lewis Libby Jr., her source and the former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney.

"Those words were not intended to suggest an improper relationship," Mr. Keller wrote.

Secondly, he noted that she took issue with his assertion that "Judy seems to have misled" Phil Taubman, the Washington bureau chief, when Mr. Taubman asked her whether she had been on the receiving end of an orchestrated White House campaign.

"I continue to be troubled by that episode," Mr. Keller wrote. "But you are right that Phil himself does not contend that you misled him; and, of course, I was not a participant in the conversation between you and Phil."

Ms. Miller wrote in her letter that she was gratified that Mr. Keller "has finally clarified remarks made by him that were unsupported by fact and personally distressing."

She added, referring to Mr. Keller: "Some of his comments suggested insubordination on my part. I have always written the articles assigned to me, adhered to the paper's sourcing and ethical guidelines and cooperated with editorial decisions, even those with which I disagreed."

She thanked "colleagues who stood by me after I was criticized on these pages."

Ms. Miller, 57, leaves the paper after serving for many years as one of its most distinguished investigative and national security correspondents. She has written four books and in 2002 was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism for reporting, prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, about the growing threat of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

But her reporting came under criticism with her subsequent reports suggesting that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, coverage that helped the Bush administration build its case for invading Iraq but that turned out to be wrong.

Ms. Miller was released from jail Sept. 29 after being locked up longer than any reporter in American history for refusing to testify and reveal her sources in the leak case. The case became perhaps the most significant to test press freedoms against government demands for secrecy since the Pentagon Papers three decades ago. And it may foreshadow an increase in subpoenas to force other reporters to testify about their confidential sources.

After asserting that she would never disclose her sources, Ms. Miller revealed that her source was Mr. Libby, who has since been indicted on five charges related to the C.I.A. leak investigation and has pleaded not guilty. Then Ms. Miller testified that she could not remember who gave her the name of a covert C.I.A. operative.

In her letter to The Times, Ms. Miller said that she agreed to testify only after Mr. Libby gave her a personal waiver to speak and after the special prosecutor agreed to limit his questioning of her to those germane to the C.I.A. case.

"Though some colleagues disagreed with my decision to testify, for me to have stayed in jail after achieving my conditions would have seemed self-aggrandizing martyrdom or worse, a deliberate effort to obstruct the prosecutor's inquiry into serious crimes," she wrote.

Times Editor's Memo to Staff on Judith Miller

Published: November 9, 2005

Following is a memorandum from Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, sent to his staff today at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time.

To the Staff:

Judy Miller has retired from The New York Times effective today.

In her 28 years at The Times, Judy participated in some great, prize-winning journalism. She displayed fierce determination and personal courage both in pursuit of the news and in resisting assaults on the freedom of news organizations to report. We wish her well in the next phase of her career.


P.S. Judy asked that I share with you a letter I sent regarding my recent memo to the staff. It is attached, and speaks for itself.

Dear Judy,

I know you’ve been distressed by the memo I sent to the staff about things I wish I’d done differently in the course of this ordeal. Let me be clear on two points you’ve raised.

First, you are upset with me that I used the words “entanglement” and “engagement” in reference to your relationship with Scooter Libby. Those words were not intended to suggest an improper relationship. I was referring only to the series of interviews through which you ­ and the paper ­ became caught up in an epic legal controversy.

Second, you dispute my assertion that “Judy seems to have misled” Phil Taubman when he asked whether you were one of the reporters to whom the White House reached out with the Wilson story. I continue to be troubled by that episode. But you are right that Phil himself does not contend that you misled him; and, of course, I was not a participant in the conversation between you and Phil.

I wish you all the best for the future.

Regards, Bill

More Bad News For The Republicans

It's gonna be a little hard not to notice this:

Greenhouse gas 'to rise by 52%'

Global greenhouse gas emissions will rise by 52% by 2030, unless the world takes action to reduce energy consumption, a study has warned.
The prediction comes from the latest annual World Energy Outlook report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It says that under current consumption trends, energy demand will also rise by more than 50% over the next 25 years.

The IEA adds that oil prices will "substantially" rise unless there is extra investment in oil facilities.

It says the world has seen "years of under-investment" in both oil production and the refinery sector.

The organisation estimates that the global oil industry now needs to invest $20.3 trillion (£12 trillion) in fresh facilities by 2030, or else the wider global economy could suffer.
In my day job, I chance to meet many well-known (and highly intelligent and respected) businessmen and financiers.

Not one of them believes that a gallon of gasoline will be less than $10 in the next five years.

That's not "$10 in 2005" money either, meaning the equivalent of like $5 a gallon now. They mean, "take $10 now, put it in the bank at the rate of energy inflation, and then withdraw it in 2010, and buy a gallon of gasoline".

Somewhere on the order of $20 a gallon at that time. But that's not all:
Bush Administration Breaks Record
Administration Borrows more from Foreign Nations than Previous 42 Presidents Combined

Washington, D.C. - President George W. Bush and the current Administration have now borrowed more money from foreign governments and banks than the previous 42 U.S. presidents combined.

Throughout the first 224 years (1776-2000) of our nation's history, 42 U.S. presidents borrowed a combined $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions according to the U.S. Treasury Department. In the past four years alone (2001-2005), the Bush Administration has borrowed a staggering $1.05 trillion.

Higher gas prices. Higher interest rates. Lower wages. Lower services.

Gee, those lower taxes, they ain't looking so good right now, are they?

Funniest. Post. Ever

On the Bible and History

How Do We Know the Republicans Are In Deep Trouble?

...when the biggest victory the party can claim from last night's election is the re-election of the mayor of New York City...who until 2001, was a LIBERAL DEMOCRAT!

Democrats Score Gains in Nassau and Suffolk

Published: November 9, 2005

Democrats scored major breakthroughs in local elections all across Long Island on Tuesday, extending their control of suburbs that for decades were almost exclusively Republican.

Except for Mayor, Democrats Come Out Ahead
Published: November 9, 2005

Republican candidates for City Council seats had hoped that the popularity of the Republican mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, would bring them votes in yesterday's election. But as it turned out, the mayor's coattails did not extend to local races.

Mr. Bloomberg endorsed and campaigned actively on behalf of Republican candidates in several Council districts. But they were all in areas where Democratic voters greatly outnumber Republicans, and where many returned to the Democratic column in the voting booth after voting for mayor.

Corzine Prevails in a Nasty Governor's Campaign in New Jersey

Published: November 9, 2005

Jon S. Corzine, a liberal Democrat who parlayed his wealth and experience as a Wall Street executive into victory for the United States Senate five years ago, won election yesterday as New Jersey's 52nd governor. He defeated a moderate Republican and fellow multimillionaire, Douglas R. Forrester, in a nasty campaign that was the costliest in the state's history.


The campaign became so noxious that many voters questioned by pollsters said that they would have preferred to vote for Mr. Codey, who was thrust into the governor's office after the resignation last year of Gov. James E. McGreevey.
(note: Forrester had his best shot at winning the govenor's race this year as McGreevey had been drummed out on ethics charges and two of Corzine's political affiliations, part-time fundraisers, were also under investigation for kickback schemes and other ethical violations. But....he's a Republican in 2005!)

However, the big news for Democrats was this:
Democrat Wins Race for Governor in Virginia

Published: November 9, 2005

RICHMOND, Va., Nov. 8 - Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, won the race for governor on Tuesday night, scoring a major political victory for his mentor, Gov. Mark Warner, and sending a powerful message that President Bush's political standing has fallen in this reliably Republican state.(emphasis added)

With 99 percent of the ballots counted, Mr. Kaine had almost 52 percent of the vote, to 46 percent for his Republican opponent, Jerry W. Kilgore, a former state attorney general. An independent candidate, State Senator H. Russell Potts Jr., had 2 percent.

After a lengthy introduction by Mr. Warner, who called the outcome a triumph against negative campaigning, Mr. Kaine told a raucous crowd at a downtown hotel that the results proved that Mr. Warner's victory four years ago was not a fluke.

"We proved that people are more interested in fiscal responsibility than ideological bickering," Mr. Kaine said. "We proved that faith in God is a value for all and that we can all share regardless of our partisan labels. And we proved that Virginians want a governor who has a positive vision for moving this commonwealth forward."

Or maybe this:
California Voters Reject Schwarzenegger's Plan

Published: November 9, 2005

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 8 - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was dealt a stinging rebuke on Tuesday by voters who rejected the centerpiece of his efforts to change the balance of power in Sacramento, an initiative to cap state spending and grant sweeping new budget powers to the governor.

A plan Mr. Schwarzenegger supported to transfer the power to draw legislative districts from the Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, to a panel of retired judges also appeared to be failing.

Voters were also deciding three other special election proposals backed by the governor, but after the costliest ballot campaign in state history it was clear that the once highly popular movie-star-turned-governor had been politically wounded.

And if you thought Bush could only kill off Republicans....
St. Paul: Coleman sweeps Kelly out of office

DFLers punish Mayor Randy Kelly for standing with President Bush, and usher in Chris Coleman in a 69 to 31 percent landslide.
Jackie Crosby, Star Tribune

In a race dominated by partisan payback, St. Paul voters swept former City Council Member Chris Coleman into office Tuesday with a 69 to 31 percent victory over Mayor Randy Kelly.

The 38-point margin of victory marked the worst defeat of any mayoral contender in two decades and ended a 16-year drought by DFL-endorsed candidates.

"For a kid who grew up in St. Paul, this is an unbelievable honor," said Coleman, who will be the city's 45th mayor. "I love this city, and I'm proud to lead it."

Kelly was gracious in defeat, even as voters punished him for endorsing President Bush in 2004. Until Tuesday, he had lost just one election during three decades in political office. "The people have spoken," he said, addressing supporters at his campaign headquarters in Bandana Square. "I say, 'Amen.' So be it."

Kelly is the first incumbent to lose since 1972.

OK, so what to make of this?

It's a demonstrably small signal of the wear and tear the Republican image has taken, to be sure, but it's a pretty solid one, where two reliable Republican strongholds, Virginia and Long Island, NY (yes, Long Island is a "red state") overwhelmingly turn to the Democrats in response to the ethical failures of the Bush administration and the Republicans in Congress. Clearly, Peter King, a fairly powerful Republican House member better be taking notes.

Only a year ago, Ahunld could quite likely have rammed his four proposals down the throats of the voters in his special election and won these handily.

But I sense a deeper vein is being mined here, in addition to voter disgust at the antics of the Bushies. I think Katrina coalesced for people nationwide that we are a deeply troubled nation: we pick fights and bully allies, we let our poor linger and suffer, and we allow incompetence and corruption settle in places where they can not only do no good, but do serious harm.

Look, we're not idiots. We saw this President thumb his nose at the tsunami victims for nearly a month, and then grudgingly accede to world demands (including Americans) of more action taken. We (collectively) figured, "well, we're fighting a war and there's so much devastation, and more important, it's not here!"

And then the first warnings of domestic devastation occured: the early hurricanes, tornadoes that ripped open entire cities in the midwest, and floods. And then first Katrina, and then Rita, and then Wilma, and we saw how woefully unprepared this nation was, even when we'd had enough warning, and despite the right wing bleatings of "It's Nagin's fault! It's Blanco's fault! It's the Democrats fault! It's the liberal's fault! It's the poor's fault!"

None of that took, and suddenly, people woke up.

The timing of the Libby indictments, so close on the heels of so much scandalous corruption, of Tom DeLay and Bill Frist, so much greed and incompetence, was sealing the deal.

I read yesteday that the Dems have shelved plans to announce their own form of a "Contract With America" until next year's election. I'm not sure I agree with this, wholly, but I understand why. The Republicans are going to desperately fling about for a life-line, and any proposal will likely be considered (if modified and made palatable to its base). Clinton did it to their Contract, co-opted it, and quite successfully. They won't forget that.

Me, I would probably start to give hints out, because if there was ever a time Americans would repudiate BOTH parties, it's right now. You may as well shore up your own support, take nothing for granted, and go after the disgruntled Republican voters.

It is time to talk about faith, and values. It's time to trot out Jimmy Carter, like on last week's Larry King:
CARTER:A lot of people teach morals and I believe that everybody has their own standard of morals. One of the things that does concern me about recent developments is it does (INAUDIBLE) an unprecedented increase and a commitment to fundamentalism in the religious right and also within the government and that has been coming along for the last 20, 25 years.

Another change though is that for the first time in the history of our country since Thomas Jefferson said build a wall between church and state there has been a deliberate and overt, not secret melding of religion and politics or the church and state, which I believe is not only contrary to what our founding fathers intended and what everyone else has agreed to the last 230 years but also in my opinion as a Christian it's different from what I've been taught to believe in my religion.


[T]here's a thin line between what I think all deeply religious people believe. Ordinarily most of us, whether we are Christians or Catholics or Protestants, whether we are Jews or whether we might be Muslims, we basically agree on justice, on service to others, on humility, on truthfulness, on peace, I worship the Prince of Peace, on forgiveness and on compassion. So, there are a lot of things that bind us together.

A fundamentalist though, as I define in this book, in extreme cases has come to the forefront in recent years both in Islam and in some areas of Christianity. A fundamentalist by, almost by definition as I describe is a very strong male religious leader, always a man, who believes that he is completely wedded to God, has a special privilege and relationship to God above others.

And, therefore, since he speaks basically in his opinion for God, anyone who disagrees with him at all is inherently and by definition wrong and therefore inferior. And one of the first things that a male fundamentalist wants to do is to subjugate women to make them subservient and to subjugate others that don't believe as he does.

The other thing they do, and this is the only other thing I'll add, is that they don't believe that it's right to negotiate or to compromise with people who disagree with them because any deviation from their absolute beliefs is a derogation of their own faith. So, those two things, exclusiveness, domination and being very highly biased are the elements of fundamentalism.


Oh, they have a lot of clout, yes, certainly in my part of the country and in the southwest. There's no doubt about this and that's something else that's happened just recently is a public and open melding of marriage of the right wing members of the religious establishment on the one hand and the right wing elements of the Republican Party. I personally would think this is wrong even if it was the right wing or the left wing of the Democratic Party.

But this is something that Thomas Jefferson espoused, as you know, when he said build a wall between church and state and I happen, as you know, I'm a Christian and I believe that Jesus Christ ordained this when he said "Render under Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's." So, this breaking down of the barriers between the two is just one of the elements in recent years that causes me concern.

It's time to change the dialogue in this nation, to wrest the national agenda back from the regressives and march a liberal, progressive agenda forward.

I wish I had that speech that Matt Santos gave on The West Wing Sunday, about what Liberals have meant to the nation. I've said almost the exact same thing until I was blue in the face, only to get nodded at and then torn into again for being a "Liberal".

I'm proud to be liberal. I'm proud to BE a Liberal. Liberals have given so much to the nation and have asked for little in return, and maybe that was the problem: we didn't wear our hearts on our sleeves about what we accomplished.

It's time to pick up the shields and swords and take this nation back from the Christian Soldiers.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Quick Reminder

Vote. Even if all you have is one stinking ballot proposition to increase the dogcatcher's salary by a buck, vote.

These jackasses didn't just start taking the country over in one fell swoop. They took it over bit by bit from the ground up, because we as a people didn't give a damn about things like the dogcatcher's salary.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Senator Al Franken

Comedian Al Franken gets serious about politics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - He pioneered mock television news 30 years ago and wrote a satirical book about becoming the 44th president of the United States.

So when comedian Al Franken says he is considering a run for U.S. Senate you have to ask -- is he serious?

"The next thing I am doing is moving back home to Minnesota and getting involved in politics," Franken told Reuters in an interview at his Air America radio studio. "I'm looking at a run for Senate in 2008, but in the meantime I am focused on knitting together the progressive network in the upper Midwest."

Read the rest here

Test Your Baby Boomer Knowledge

I scored a 73%. What's yours?

The Busiest Department in the Bush Administration

The President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities

By the way, Jenna's boyfriend, Henry Hager, works there. You'll remember Henry as the man who nearly raped Jenna on the dance floor at the Inaugural Ball earlier this year.

Hat tip to World O' Crap.

We're Raping Them There....

Maybe that gang thing below isn't so far fetched...

Manila issues rape case subpoenas for U.S. troops

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine prosecutors issued subpoenas on Tuesday to question six U.S. soldiers accused of gang-raping a Filipino woman in a van after military exercises earlier this month.

Jovencito Zuno, the chief state prosecutor, said the suspects had 10 days to respond with counter affidavits and that he hoped an initial investigation would be completed in 60 days.

The six soldiers, who have not been charged with any offence, remain in U.S. custody in the Philippines after their colleagues aboard the USS Essex left when the military exercises ended.

Manila is a major ally to Washington in the region and both sides say the alleged attack on a 22-year-old woman in the Subic Bay area on November 1 will do nothing to hurt relations.

Monday, November 07, 2005

OK, This Cannot Be Good News

Gangs Using Military For Training, Experts Say

Military Says Gang Members Weeded Out

SAN DIEGO -- One of the country's leading gang experts says gangs around the country are sending their members to the military to learn urban warfare.

Richard Valdemar, a 30-year-veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, travels the country lecturing and teaching police about military-trained gang members. Valdemar and other gang experts say gangs are encouraging members to join the military for training and access to weapons.

The military's current emphasis on urban warfare plays into the street-fighting mentality of gangs, experts say.

"When individuals go into the military, they are taught how to use weapons, defensive tactics, and the use of a lot of sophisticated techniques," said LaRae Quy, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "They take that back on the streets with them. This is a legitimate concern for law enforcement."

Valdemar cites former Camp Pendleton Marine Sgt. Jesse Quintanilla as just one high-profile example. A military court sentenced Quintanilla to death in 1996 for killing his executive officer and wounding his commanding officer.

When interrogators asked Quintanilla why he committed the crimes, Quintanilla said it was for "his brown brothers," according to Valdemar. Quintanilla showed them a tattoo on his chest with the word "Sureno," a reference to a California gang, according to court documents.
Of course, one might wonder why gang members take a step down to join the military to learn about urban warfare, but hey, I guess it's three free square ones, and you get to legally shoot cool guns...

A Brilliant Blog

I now get to proudly display this banner on my blog:

Brilliant Blog

Because of this contest for best political blog of the month.

Thank you, Motherdear and Digitalicat and all those who voted for me.

"We Do Not Torture"

Bush Declares: 'We Do Not Torture'
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer

PANAMA CITY, Panama - President Bush vigorously defended U.S. interrogation practices in the war on terror Monday and lobbied against a congressional drive to outlaw torture.

"There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again," Bush said. "So you bet we will aggressively pursue them but we will do so under the law."

He declared, "We do not torture."

Five US soldiers charged with abuse

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Five U.S. soldiers in Iraq alleged to have punched and kicked Iraqi detainees have been charged with abusing them, the U.S. military said on Monday.

"The allegations stemmed from an incident on September 7 in which three detainees were allegedly punched and kicked by the soldiers as they were awaiting movement to a detention facility," the military said in a statement.
But we don't torture...

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Why Gay Marriage Is Wrong

Hat tip to Fantod

*you may now remove tongue from cheek, Carl*

Write Your Own Caption!

Major Hat Tip To Miss Cellania!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Pastor Sells Church, Pockets Proceeds

(Tip of the Clairol bottle to Pissed off Patricia at Blondesense. I think I want to have her baby)

Ripon Pastor Secretly Sells Church
Church members didn't have a clue that their church, which has stood on the corner of Main and Acacia streets in Ripon for over 50 years had been sold. Police say the church pastor sold the church and a small cottage next to it for $525,000 dollars and pocketed the money. Church Council president David Prater said the news left them stunned.
Among the items he purchased with the proceeds were a 2006 BMW.

Y'know, I don't really have a problem with this, in light of how many televangelists will simply by a satellite transmitter and show up on my TeeVee pimping their wives and children and, I mean choir in order to get little old deluded ladies and gentlemen to dip into their Social Security checks for a little "Sal(ary)vation"...this guy was honest and went in for the kill. Evolution in action.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Major hat tip to my buddies at AgitProp (who I owe a beer):
The lawmakers requested the inquiry after (California Democratic Representative Howard L.) Berman received complaints about (chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors Kenneth Y.) Tomlinson from at least one employee at the board, officials said. People involved in the inquiry said it involved accusations that Mr. Tomlinson was spending federal money for personal purposes, using board money for corporation activities, using board employees to do corporation work and hiring ghost employees or improperly qualified employees.
The board, whose members include the secretary of state Condoleeza Rice, plays a central role in public diplomacy. It supervises the government's foreign broadcasting operations, including Radio Martí, Radio Sawa and al-Hurra; transmits programs in 61 languages; and says it has more than 100 million listeners each week.

Meaning, naturally, that Tomlinson is involved in American propaganda.

Now, I'm all for marketing to the rubes. Let the rest of the world think America is still the once great nation it once was. But that Tomlinson was head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was anathema to me. We have Fox News to act as the propaganda arm of domestic pudwhackers whose only concern is beer and hooters.

So Tomlinson resigned after an investigation by the CPB board revealed that he had misappropriated funds. And this new investigatin at the Broadcasting Board of Governors says that, it too, has had funds that were under Mr. Tomlinson's control diverted to inappropriate activities. (side note: Karl Rove helped Tomlinson get both appointments, as the Times article makes clear)

All this on the heel of the Libby indictments, where a CIA agent's identity was outted, possibly illegally (that inquiry is continuing), thus endangering our national security and certainly our diplomacy.

Hmmmmm......"diplomacy"...."national security"...who's been at the center of all that since Bush was appointed?

Condoleeza Rice.

I do think we have our Sith Apprentice: Darth Jemima.

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