Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It's pork over protection when there is an election

And the Washington Post reports on the latest efforts by Our Dear Embattled Leader to prove he is the Protecterator of His country.
The two cities attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, will receive far less antiterrorism money under plans unveiled today by the Department of Homeland Security, which has designated more money for many smaller cities throughout the country.

Washington and New York will receive 40 percent less in urban grant money compared to last year, with Washington dropping from $77 million to $46 million and New York falling from $207 million to $124 million, DHS officials said. The combined total means that the two areas bear almost the entire brunt of a $120 million cut in the overall budget for the program, the statistics show.
Let's face it, the great metropolis of East Bummfuque pop. 21,017 on a good day, is never going to be a target because those wo would do so don't know where it is. But politicians in a political year know exactly where it and thousands of locales like it are. And $120 million won't buy any votes in the Big Apple, but works wonders in small town America. And so the Potemkin War on Terra proceeds apace.

Tom Reynolds, paragon of Republican "Virtue"

From the Buffalo News comes the piece by Garry Cranker, a Valeo retiree who lives in Reynolds' district and is a member of the New York chapter, Campaign for a Cleaner Congress.
New reports of corruption scandals out of Washington are piling up faster than we can read them, and more often than not, luxury trips paid for with lobbyists' money seem to be prominently involved in the wrongdoing. This exclusive jet-setting lifestyle on the dime of special interests has come to symbolize the seemingly complete influence these big corporate lobbyists have over government. Unfortunately, our own Congressman Tom Reynolds appears to have become part of that problem.

These days, after eight years in the House of Representatives, Reynolds can often be found on a lavish lobbyist-funded trip to an exotic location thousands of miles away from his home district. In fact, according to recent reports in this and other news outlets, he traveled on 64 days last year - compared to just 34 trips home to his district. That's almost two days with lobbyists for every trip to ask about us. Does Reynolds really think he's doing a better job representing us from the fairways of a posh golf course?

Reynolds' travel habits are getting worse the longer he stays in Congress. He's taken 202 trips outside his district since entering the House, and nearly 70 percent of those have occurred in just the last three years, according to research by the Campaign for a Cleaner Congress.

Since 2001, he's spent over $205,000 at the luxurious Pebble Beach resort alone, the group found. There are plenty of us who can't imagine spending that much over the course of a lifetime. We're the ones who need Reynolds' voice in Congress - yet he's lent his ear to corporate lobbyists and high-dollar special interests.

While Reynolds is jetting to exclusive locations like Hawaii, Rome and Scotland, all of us here have watched the Delphi plant struggle. We've watched Valeo, a Rochester windshield wiper manufacturer, close. We've watched much-needed jobs parade out of our area. And we've watched rising fuel costs cut into earnings and deplete family savings.

Now, more than ever, we need a voice. We need the voice that our representative in Congress was elected to provide. Instead, Reynolds has decided to use his position to amplify the demands of special interest groups that scarcely need the extra help. He's never been shy about spending much of his time fund-raising, but with each passing year it becomes more difficult to tell where Reynolds' true interests begin and those of his big-money lobbyist cronies end.

The story of Jack Abramoff has exposed the culture of corruption that exists in Washington for everyone to see. But the one-time superlobbyist's guilty plea should remind us all that the "everyone does it" excuse only goes so far. It's still wrong, and everyone but the 23 percent of Americans who still somehow approve of Congress knows it.

Reynolds tried diligently over the last few years to become one of Washington's power brokers. If only he worked so hard at attaining insider status with the folks who really need him: Us.
Tom is the head of the RNCC effort. Keep him busy trying to save his own seat and he won't have much time to cause trouble elsewhere.

Another link in the Bushovik chain of corruption takes a plea.

From the diligent Toledo Blade comes this good news.
Former GOP fund-raiser Tom Noe admitted today that he used politicians, former aides to Gov. Bob Taft, coworkers, and friends to illegally pour thousands of dollars into the effort to reelect President Bush.

Noe entered a guilty plea before U.S. District Court Judge David Katz in Toledo to all three felony charges he faced for violating federal campaign finance law. Appearing with his sister and brother-in-law and three attorneys, Noe was calm and responsive to Judge Katz' questions during the 47-minute hearing.

Then, in a brief, 10-second statement, Noe said he voluntarily agreed to change his plea "to accept responsibility to spare my family and friends the further embarassment of any additional court proceeding. Therefore, I plead guilty."....

.....Noe, 51, was indicted in October on three charges related to the funneling of more then $45,000 into the Bush campaign at a $2,000-a-seat fund-raiser in Columbus in October, 2003. The Bush campaign later named Noe a “Pioneer” for raising at least $100,000 overall.
When this story began, Our Dear Embattled Leader said he would only return the $2000 that came from Noe. Will we see him return the other $43000? But more importantly, we see the end of another corrupt Bushovik money man. And we have to ask how many other states have contributors like Noe but don't have a newspaper like the Blade?

MoDo on the CBS deaths

From the NY Times
Conservative chatterers have parroted President Bush's complaint that ''people resuming their normal lives will never be as dramatic as the footage of an I.E.D. explosion.''

But now two network personalities -- Ms. Dozier and Bob Woodruff -- have been severely injured by roadside bombs while embedded with the military, trying to do the sort of stories the administration wants.

''One thing I don't want to hear anymore,'' Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, told The Times's Bill Carter, ''is people like Laura Ingraham spewing about us not leaving our balconies in the Green Zone to cover what's really happening in Iraq.''

Even with constricted coverage, the tally of journalists killed in Iraq is now 71, more than the number killed in Vietnam or World War II. (This war is now six months short of the United States involvement in World War II, but at least then we knew we were winning by this point.)
But, as she notes, these are the deaths that we know about.
An American soldier was killed in the blast that killed the CBS cameraman and soundman and injured Ms. Dozier. But more than a day after we knew everything about the CBS victims, no information had been released about him.

There is a tragic anonymity about this war. Kids die but we don't know who they are, other than their names, which turn up in small print. They do not touch everyone's lives because, without a draft, they are not drawn from every part of American society. The administration tries to play down any sense of individual loss; the president has not attended a single funeral, and the government banned pictures of their returning coffins. The Iraqi civilians who die don't even get their names in the small print.
Someone tell Laura Ingraham that there is an opening for a "good news" reporter in Iraq.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

From Tom Toles

How the Bushoviks do "bidness"

Just so you can tell your grandchildren how the Grinch Old Party stole your country, we have this description of the process. There is little new here except the details.
A former congressional aide and lobbyist described Tuesday how he obtained insider information, advice and assistance from Bush administration procurement chief David Safavian to advance two projects for Republican influence-peddler Jack Abramoff, who then took the official on a lavish golf trip to Scotland.

The aide, Neil Volz, who was a partner of Abramoff's at the time, also outlined how the Abramoff team received assistance from several Republican congressmen including, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, and Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio.

Within weeks after this assistance, Safavian, Ney and two of Ney's staff members accompanied Abramoff, Volz and other Abramoff associates on a golfing trip to the famed St. Andrews course in Scotland and then to London.

Volz said the bills for $500-a-night hotel rooms, $100 rounds of drinks, $400 rounds of golf, dinners and travel on a private Gulfstream jet were paid by Abramoff and his staff and he never saw Safavian pay for any expenses.
Remember in November.

How the Bushoviks do "bidness"

Just so you can tell your grandchildren how th Grinch Old Party stole your country, we have this description of the process. There is little new here except the details.
A former congressional aide and lobbyist described Tuesday how he obtained insider information, advice and assistance from Bush administration procurement chief David Safavian to advance two projects for Republican influence-peddler Jack Abramoff, who then took the official on a lavish golf trip to Scotland.

The aide, Neil Volz, who was a partner of Abramoff's at the time, also outlined how the Abramoff team received assistance from several Republican congressmen including, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, and Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio.

Within weeks after this assistance, Safavian, Ney and two of Ney's staff members accompanied Abramoff, Volz and other Abramoff associates on a golfing trip to the famed St. Andrews course in Scotland and then to London.

Volz said the bills for $500-a-night hotel rooms, $100 rounds of drinks, $400 rounds of golf, dinners and travel on a private Gulfstream jet were paid by Abramoff and his staff and he never saw Safavian pay for any expenses.
Remember in November.

But he did spring for a pretty wreath

That has to count for something this Memorial Day as Our Dear Embattled Leader struggles to remember veterans on the one day of the year that he has to do so. The Boston Globe has details on his efforts to profit from them or forget them the other 364 days of the year.
Today, many of President Bush's strongest supporters call the VA a welfare system. His critics claim he is working to dismantle the VA, to ultimately privatize its services.

Bush, who sends soldiers to risk their lives every day in Iraq, strongly supports rescinding the lifetime healthcare benefits promised to WWII and Korean veterans. His proposed budgets, despite dollar amount increases, don't factor in inflation or the increasing numbers of veterans needing healthcare, and thus have repeatedly failed to fully fund benefits to the men and women who have served our country.

Consequently, VA hospitals and clinics have closed, many veterans' healthcare programs have been cut back or eliminated, entire groups of vets have been denied eligibility for service, and those that are eligible may wait months and even years for appointments and necessary surgeries at the remaining VA facilities.

But the president lectures us about the importance of supporting our troops.
ODEL is a piece of shit.

Like Father, Like Son

George Bush gets his tax increase through Congress in the usual sneaky Republican style.
In an effort to raise revenues, tax writers in Congress added a last-minute provision that retroactively increased taxes for Americans living abroad. But the sudden imposition of new taxes has surprised overseas taxpayers, and it has employers concerned about the added cost.
Remember in November.

Back from a long weekend

After a few days off, I am back and ready to continue. I know you all missed me so much. What you might have missed was Bob Herberts column on Monday. In it he spoke to the heart of th matter with our Mess in Potamia. And he had this idea:
Before you gather up the hot dogs and head out to the barbecue this afternoon, look in a mirror and ask yourself honestly if Iraq is something you would be willing to die for.

There is no shortage of weaselly politicians and misguided commentators ready to tell us that we can't leave Iraq — we just can't. Chaos will ensue. Maybe even a civil war. But what they really mean is that we can't leave as long as the war can continue to be fought by other people's children, and as long as we can continue to put this George W. Bush-inspired madness on a credit card.

Start sending the children of the well-to-do to Baghdad, and start raising taxes to pay off the many hundreds of billions that the war is costing, and watch how quickly this tragic fiasco is brought to an end.
It will never happen because rich folks have rigged the game, but maybe more people will see that they have done so.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Can you believe this?
Talk about minting money. In 2001 and 2002, hedge fund managers had to make $30 million to gain entry to a survey of the best paid in hedge funds that is closely followed by people in the business. In 2004, the threshold had soared to $100 million.

Last year, managers had to take home — yes, take home — $130 million to make it into the ranks of the top 25. And there was a tie for 25th place, so there were actually 26 hedge fund managers who made $130 million or more.

Just when it seems as if things cannot get any better for the titans of investing, they get better — a lot better.

James Simons, a math whiz who founded Renaissance Technologies, made $1.5 billion in 2005, according to the survey by Alpha, a magazine published by Institutional Investor. That trumps the more than $1 billion that Edward S. Lampert, known for last year's acquisition of Sears, Roebuck, took home in 2004. (Don't fret for Mr. Lampert; he earned $425 million in 2005.) Mr. Simons's $5.3 billion flagship Medallion fund returned 29.5 percent, net of fees.

No. 2 on Alpha's list is T. Boone Pickens Jr., 78, the oilman who gained attention in the 1980's going after Gulf Oil, among other companies. He earned $1.4 billion in 2005, largely from startling returns on his two energy-focused hedge funds: 650 percent on the BP Capital Commodity Fund and 89 percent on the BP Capital Energy Equity Fund.
And these people whine about paying taxes?

More lies from the usual stooges.

A meeting of the House Intelligence Committee (an oxymoron?) elicited the usual lies and bullying as the GOP passed much gas about locking up journalists.
"The press is not above the law, including laws regarding unauthorized disclosure and use of classified information," said Representative Peter Hoekstra, the Michigan Republican who heads the committee.
Don't they know only Our Dear Embattled Leader is above the law?
"I believe the attorney general and the president should use all of the power of existing law to bring criminal charges," said Representative Rick Renzi, Republican of Arizona.
Yeah! Give 'em a taste of Renzi's Law.

The article ends with one strange quote that I thought I would never hear from a Republican.
Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, said The Times and other news organizations should not be allowed to decide for themselves what classified information may be published.

"Why should a for-profit corporation be the sole arbiter of what is or is not in the public interest?" Mr. Rogers asked.
Good question. Has anybody asked Exxon or Halliburton?

More quality Republican oversight

From the NY Times.
An Oklohama company has recalled 4.3 million pounds of frozen meat products because they may contain pieces of metal, the Agriculture Department said late Friday.

The meat, produced by Advance Food Co. of Enid, Okla., was sold to institutional buyers nationwide and to one Midwest retail customer with stores in Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, the department said. It did not identify the retailer.

The meat, mostly varieties of cubed beef sold in 10 and 12 pound cases, have various dates between Nov. 28, 2005, to April 30, 2006. Each package displays a number ''EST 2260Y'' or ''EST 2260G'' inside the USDA seal of inspection.

The recall was announced by the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The announcement gave no indication how the metal got into the meat.

The contamination was discovered after the company received consumer complaints, the USDA said. It said there have been no reports of injuries from eating the meat.

So-o close

If the NY Times is to be believed, we almost had cause for celebration thanks to William Jefferson and the FBI.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and senior officials and career prosecutors at the Justice Department told associates this week that they were prepared to quit if the White House directed them to relinquish evidence seized in a bitterly disputed search of a House member's office, government officials said Friday.

Mr. Gonzales was joined in raising the possibility of resignation by the deputy attorney general, Paul J. McNulty, the officials said. Mr. Gonzales and Mr. McNulty told associates that they had an obligation to protect evidence in a criminal case and would be unwilling to carry out any White House order to return the material to Congress.
Our junior varsity Dzerzhinsky has always been concerned about releasing evidence, but usually it is evidence against himself or one of his butt buddies. Maybe this had something to do with it.
Tensions were especially high because officials at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. viewed the protest led by Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and House Republicans, as largely a proxy fight for battles likely to come over criminal investigations into other Republicans in Congress.

Separate investigations into the activities of the lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Randy Cunningham, the former congressman from California, have placed several other Republicans under scrutiny; in the Cunningham case, federal authorities have informally asked to interview nine former staff members of the House Appropriations and Intelligence Committees, which could lead to a broader inquiry.
So now they have 45 days to figure out how to get the deserving Jefferson without endangering the Fat Boy and the Boner, and others.

From David Horsey

And George did so love his Marines that he squeezed them until they broke.

From the NY Times:
A military investigation into the deaths of two dozen Iraqis last November is expected to find that a small number of marines in western Iraq carried out extensive, unprovoked killings of civilians, Congressional, military and Pentagon officials said Thursday....

....Evidence indicates that the civilians were killed during a sustained sweep by a small group of marines that lasted three to five hours and included shootings of five men standing near a taxi at a checkpoint, and killings inside at least two homes that included women and children, officials said.

That evidence, described by Congressional, Pentagon and military officials briefed on the inquiry, suggested to one Congressional official that the killings were "methodical in nature."
Your doing a heck of a job, Georgie.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A good reason to vote in November

See Tim Ryan D-OH right here.

The King grants a boon to his loyal minions

Our Dear Embattled Leader has granted the favor asked of him in a gracious display of Regal Mercy not seen since the closing days of his Fathers reign.
President Bush stepped into a confrontation between the Justice Department and Congress on Thursday, ordering that documents seized in an FBI raid on a lawmaker's office be sealed for 45 days.

His spokesman also labeled as "false, false, false" charges that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' department had tried to intimidate Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
When a man has something to hide, his price comes down real fast.

You ready to suck on it, Fat Boy?

Bob Herbert remembers the forgotten workers of America

In his column today we find Mr. Herbert writing about the frauds used by corporate America to layoff more workers than their incompetence justifies.
''What started as a necessary response to the intrusion of foreign manufacturers into the American marketplace got out of hand,'' he writes. ''By the late 1990's, getting rid of workers had become normal practice, ingrained behavior, just as job security had been 25 years earlier.''

In many cases, a thousand workers were fired when 500 might have been sufficient, or 10,000 were let go when 5,000 would have been enough. We pay a price for these excesses. The losses that accrue to companies and communities when many years of improving skills and valuable experience are casually and unnecessarily tossed on a scrap heap are incalculable.
Certainly an appropriate topic on the day that Chairman Kenny Boy and his Chief Executive Weasel Jeff Skilling take multiple steps closer to PTITA prison.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tom Toles today

Iraq sets a timetable

They don't say it in so many words, but they make it clear that they expect their country back when they are ready.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Wednesday he believed Iraqi forces were capable of taking over security around the country within 18 months, but he did not mention a timetable for U.S.-led coalition forces to leave.

In Washington, the White House said before a meeting between President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair that it was premature to talk about troop withdrawals.
Speaking for Our Dear Embattled Leader, Tony Snow practices commanding the tides to stop.
"I do not believe that you're going to hear the president or the prime minister say we're going to be out in one year, two years, four years," White House spokesman Tony Snow said. "I just don't think you're going to get any specific prediction of troops withdrawals."
Don't you just love it when ODEL pretends he is in command of his, and our, destiny.

MoDo does the doo-doo the she doo too well

Mo writes about the obvious political tension that exists between Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. For some reason she feels the need to douse any valid ideas she may have with a load of snark guaranteed to make Republicans wet their panties. Why she felt it necessary to revert to RNC talking points in lieu of any reasonable analysis if beyond my ken. I do think it may explain why the old bitch still lives alone.

I linked to it, but I don't recommend it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The need for the First Amendment

If you have trouble wrapping your little mind around the need for freedom of the press. I commend your attention to this clip from "Countdown" last night. Play as many times as you need to understand it completely. There will be no discussion, if Our Dear Embattled Leader has his was, but you WILL NOT like the test.

Scooter is in deep doo-doo.

The NY Daily News has news about two top CIA officials who will testify against Irving.
Prosecutors say disgraced Cheney chief of staff Lewis (Scooter) Libby learned CIA spy Valerie Plame's identity from, among others, agency officials who will be called to testify at his trial for perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice.

The U.S. alleges he learned about Plame from one of the CIA officials when he went after dirt on her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Wilson shattered a pillar of President Bush's rationale for war - that Iraq was seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

Both CIA officials - including a top architect of the 2003 Iraq invasion - discussed Plame with Libby a month before columnist Robert Novak blew her cover in July 2003, prosecutors charge.

Libby has said journalists told him about Plame - not Cheney or the six witnesses named so far by prosecutors.
For a full analysis of this and all the Scooter news, stop over at Firedoglake.

You can e-mail your Congressmoop.

On just about any topic of concern to you. It may not be quite as effective as snail mail and chances are good they will ignore you beyond an automatic response but it can be fun and cathartic. I just sent this to my moop.
Just read about the Hon. Fat Denny Hastert getting his panties (more like a circus tent) into a twist about the FBI search of Rep Jeffersons office. Funny how he had no concern about privacy, warrants or lack thereof and congressional oversight when the Black& Tans were being directed at us ordinary citizens.

Please inform the Hon. Lardoon that we would appreciate it if his concerns, and the concerns of Congress, managed to extend beyond his belt, oops I mean the Beltway.

NOTICE: Due to Presidential Executive Orders, the National Security Agency may have read this email without warning, warrant, or notice. They may do this without any judicial or legislative oversight. You have no recourse nor protection save to call for the impeachment of the current President.
You can find their websites here. Most of them have an e-mail link somewhere.

AmericaBlog has the list

If you have not kept up with the veritable cornucopia of lies put forth by Our Dear Embattled Leader and his evil minions, John of AmericaBlog has a list of them compiled at the Daily Kos to which he has added those discovered on his blog. It includes some timeless gems of dishonesty.
Mexicans are taking our jobs.
Iraq sent its WMDs to Syria.
Karl Rove has a faulty memory.
Scooter Libby has a faulty memory.
And the immortal
Mission accomplished.
Do you have any they forgot?

Monday, May 22, 2006

The squeeze is on

And Tiny Tony Blair looks like he will be the toothpaste. The Times of London is reporting a British pullout much sooner than Our Dear Embattled Leader would ever want. We can only presune that this is a condition of his maintaining his political support in Parliament.
Britain and Iraq announced an accelerated timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from much of Iraq today during a surprise visit by Tony Blair to show his support for the country's new government.

Britain could return two southern provinces to Iraqi security control within in a few months. Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's new Prime Minister, said that he expected as many as 16 of the 18 provinces to be "Iraqi-ised" - under the control of Iraqi forces - by the end of this year.
ODEL knows he can't act this quickly. God has told him to wait until Halliburton has milked every last dollar out of the Iraq appropriations. And so he must pushback on Tiny Tony's pusillanimous cut and run. And Tiny Tony has nowhere safe to go with this.

If someone in this country will report it, this could be fun to watch.

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

Brent Wilkes explained

The NY Times yesterday had an excellent, detailed graphic, with text, that will help you understand the depth and breadth of the Republican scandalocracy.

You can find it here in the multimedia this week. Warning, it is a large file, dial-ups beware!

Paul Krugman is kind to Lieberman

By calling him "Talk Show Joe" instead of the far more appropriate "Judas Kiss Joe". Beyond that, however, in his column today he carefully slices and dices the "Republican" senator from Connecticut.
Friday was a bad day for Senator Joseph Lieberman. The Connecticut Democratic Party's nominating convention endorsed him, but that was a given for an incumbent with a lot of political chips to cash in. The real news was that Ned Lamont, an almost unknown challenger, received a third of the votes. This gave Mr. Lamont the right to run against Mr. Lieberman in a primary, and suggests that Mr. Lamont may even win. What happened to Mr. Lieberman? Some news reports may lead you to believe that he is in trouble solely because of his support for the Iraq war. But there's much more to it than that. Mr. Lieberman has consistently supported Republican talking points. This has made him a lion of the Sunday talk shows, but has put him out of touch with his constituents -- and with reality.

Mr. Lieberman isn't the only nationally known Democrat who still supports the Iraq war. But he isn't just an unrepentant hawk, he has joined the Bush administration by insisting on an upbeat picture of the situation in Iraq that is increasingly delusional.
And poor old Judas Kiss Joe didn't even get a cabinet post for his troubles. If you like JKJ you don't want to read it in full.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez channels Joe Stalin.

Today on This Week on ABC, the shit eating little weasel stated his belief that the Constitution and Bill of Rights is not absolute.
But he added that the First Amendment right of a free press should not be absolute when it comes to national security. If the government's probe into the NSA leak turns up criminal activity, prosecutors have an "obligation to enforce the law."

"It can't be the case that that right trumps over the right that Americans would like to see, the ability of the federal government to go after criminal activity," Gonzales told ABC's "This Week."
Yes it can be that the First Amendment trumps your right to break the law whenever you feel like it and persecute those who expose you.

Alberto, your parents came to this country for the rights and freedoms it offered to them and you. How is it that you have mutated into the sort of god damned chicken stealing federale they wanted to get away from?

Oh, that naughty Natalie

There she goes saying mean things about Our Dear Embattled Leader.
The Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines apologized for disrespecting President Bush during a London concert in 2003. But now, she's taking it back.

"I don't feel that way anymore," she told Time magazine for its issue hitting newsstands Monday. "I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever."
This time around, most of the country has caught up with her.

Jonathan Chait on the conservative Awakening.

In the LA Times today he writes of the recent and sudden discovery by conservatives of the great mendacity of Our Dear Embattled Leader.
IT APPEARS that the scales have fallen from David Frum's eyes. The former Bush speechwriter, and current National Review writer, once had faith in the basic decency and honesty of George W. Bush. But now the president he once served so loyally, and whose honesty he once found above reproach, has done something utterly uncharacteristic. He has presented his policies in a misleading light.

No! you say. This can't be true! But it is. Allow me to quote Frum: "Putting the [National] Guard on the border is a symbolic act…. But I am afraid that in this case the symbolism is manipulative and deceptive."

Deceptive? Bush? He must have the wrong guy. Just a couple of years ago, Frum wrote: "I've always thought it strange that so many on the left have chosen to make an issue of President Bush's honesty. The president is, if anything, almost excessively direct and self-endangeringly truthful."

It's funny. I remember when Bush insisted that he wanted to bring the parties together to pass a patients' bill of rights, even as he arm-twisted Republicans who favored such a bill into renouncing it. I remember when he insisted that lower-income workers reaped the biggest share of his tax cuts. I remember when he presented his stem cell position as a way to dramatically expand research opportunities. One could say that misleading rhetoric was the hallmark of Bush's political style. But if you said that two years ago, you were a rabid Bush-hater.
With a little luck we will see the civil war in Iraq imitated by the GOP.

Who saw this coming?

Our Dear Embattled Leader with his sterling leadership on immigration is managing to piss off both his base and the new recruits to the GOP, at the same time. This shows a level of skill seldom seen in DC and the Washington Post has the details.
Hispanic voters, many of whom responded favorably to President Bush's campaign appeals emphasizing patriotism, family and religious values in Spanish-language media in 2004, are turning away from the administration on immigration and a host of other issues, according to a new survey.

At the same time, separate polls show that conservative white Republicans are the voting group most hostile to the administration's support for policies that would move toward the legalization of many undocumented immigrants.

Cumulatively, the data underscore the perils for Bush and his party in the immigration debate churning on Capitol Hill, one that threatens to bleed away support simultaneously from the Republican base and from Hispanic swing voters, whom Bush strategists had hoped to make an important new part of the GOP coalition.
Another failure for the Bushoviks.

Our Dear Embattled Leader will have to buy his own beer now.

A sad result of his no longer being Americas favorite drinking buddy. First it was bad job approval, then he started losing his base, now people don't even like him as a person.
It's not just the way he's doing his job. Americans apparently don't like President Bush personally much anymore, either.

A drop in his personal popularity, as measured by several public polls, has shadowed the decline in Bush's job-approval ratings and weakened his political armor when he and his party need it most.

Losing that political protection - dubbed "Teflon" when Ronald Reagan had it - is costing Bush what the late political scientist Richard Neustadt called the "leeway" to survive hard times and maintain his grip on the nation's agenda. Without it, Bush is a more tempting target for political enemies. And members of his party in Congress are less inclined to stand with him.

"When he loses likeability, the president loses the benefit of the doubt,"
Just another old failure trying to live on past glories.

National Guard troops in for the duration

Whether it's in Iraq or on the border, a Pentagon memo has indicated that the Guard troops are there until we get rid of Our Dear Embattled Leader.
President Bush’s planned deployment of National Guard troops to the Mexican border would last at least two years with no clear end date, according to a Pentagon memo obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
The one-page “initial guidance” memo to National Guard leaders in border states does not address the estimated cost of the mission or when soldiers would be deployed. But high-ranking officials in the California National Guard said they were told Friday that deployments would not begin before early June....

.....The document described an “end date” for the mission when the U.S. Border Patrol operation “gains independent operational control of the (southwest border) and National Guard forces are no longer required for this mission.”
Where have we heard that before? At least the heavily armed natives in the region are friendly and drink beer.

Behold, the Bush Boom

In late night jokes by Letterman, Leno and O'Brien. Tim Harper of the Toronto Star has noticed the 100% increase in jibes and jabs at Our Dear Embattled Leader.
So, have you heard the one about the dim-witted cowboy over on Pennsylvania Ave. who has so much trouble with the English language?

Of course you have.

Every night — more often than ever and with much more bite — if you tune in any of the U.S. network late-night talk shows.

With George W. Bush's popular approval waning, the late-night shots at a U.S. president who has become a gold mine for jokes has turned into a more definitive barometer of his second term than the best work of pollsters Gallup or Harris.

In the first three months of this year, according to a study by the non-partisan Center for Media and Public Affairs, Bush has been the butt of 102 jokes per month in the opening monologues of David Letterman, Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, more than double the rate of Bush jokes in 2005. And more than any subject, they dwell on the perception that the U.S. commander-in-chief is ... well, not so bright.
Making jokes about ODEL has always been like shooting ducks in a barrel or lawyers on a quail hunt, but with his current low ratings it has become socially acceptable.

You can find a few examples here.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Media synchronicity

Both the NY Times and the Washington Post have news stories on the increased vulnerabilities of Republican House seats in the upcoming election.
Some veterans of the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress see worrisome parallels between then and now, in the way once-safe districts are turning into potential problems. Incumbents' poll numbers have softened. Margins against their Democratic opponents have narrowed. Republican voters appear disenchanted. The Bush effect now amounts to a drag of five percentage points or more in many districts.

The changes don't guarantee a Democratic takeover by any means, but they are creating an increasingly asymmetrical battlefield for the fall elections: The number of vulnerable Democratic districts has remained relatively constant while the number of potentially competitive Republican districts continues to climb.

Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of a political newsletter, now has 42 Republican districts, including Drake's, on his list of competitive races. Last September, he had 26 competitive GOP districts, and Drake's wasn't on the list. "That's a pretty significant increase," he said. "The national atmospherics are making long shots suddenly less long."
And the Times points out some factors that worry the GOP.
Of particular concern for Republicans is that many of the party's most loyal supporters — who are crucial to the outcome in midterm elections, when turnout is typically low — seem discouraged and prone to saying home, according to several recent polls. At the same time, Democratic voters are described by officials in both parties as being as energized as they have been in recent memory.

Mr. Kohut of the Pew Research Center said that 29 percent of Americans in his most recent poll said they would vote against their own member of Congress. That is the highest percentage since 1994, when Republicans swept Democrats out of power. The finding, Mr. Kohut suggested, should give pause to Republicans who argue that while most Americans have an unfavorable view of Congress, they approve the performance of their own member of Congress.
Thanks to Our Dear Embattled Leader and his evil minions the Republican Party is in Americas crosshairs and on November 6 we must pull the trigger.

God and the Politician

Frank Rich takes a look at the smarmy relationship between those who make their living buggering the Bible and those who read it.
Politicians, particularly but not exclusively in the Karl Rove camp, seem to believe that voters of "faith" are suckers who can be lured into the big tent and then abandoned once their votes and campaign cash have been pocketed by the party for secular profit.

Nowhere is this game more naked than in the Jack Abramoff scandal: the felonious Washington lobbyist engaged his pal Ralph Reed, the former leader of the Christian Coalition, to shepherd Christian conservative leaders like James Dobson, Gary Bauer and the Rev. Donald Wildmon and their flocks into ostensibly "anti-gambling" letter-writing campaigns. They were all duped: in reality these campaigns were engineered to support Mr. Abramoff's Indian casino clients by attacking competing casinos. While that scam may be the most venal exploitation of "faith" voters by Washington operatives, it's all too typical. This history repeats itself every political cycle: the conservative religious base turns out for its party and soon finds itself betrayed. The right's leaders are already threatening to stay home this election year because all they got for their support of Republicans in the previous election year was a lousy Bush-Cheney T-shirt. Actually, they also got two Supreme Court justices, but their wish list was far longer. Dr. Dobson, the child psychologist who invented Focus on the Family, set the tone with a tantrum on Fox, whining that Republicans were "ignoring those that put them in office" and warning of "some trouble down the road" if they didn't hop-to.

The doctor's diagnosis is not wrong. He has been punk'd — or Da Vinci'd — since 2004. Though President Bush endorsed the federal marriage amendment then, there's a reason he hasn't pushed it since. Not Gonna Happen, however many times it is dragged onto the Senate floor. The number of Americans who "strongly oppose" same-sex marriage keeps dropping — from 42 percent two years ago to 28 percent today, according to the Pew Research Center — and there will never be the votes to "write discrimination into the Constitution," as Mary Cheney puts it.
An interesting examination of DaKarlRove Code, worth reading.

Sydney Blumenthal details the destruction of the CIA.

No president has ever before ruined an agency at the heart of national security out of pique and vengeance. The manipulation of intelligence by political leadership demands ever tightened control. But political purges provide only temporary relief from the widening crisis of policy failure.
Read the whole frightening story here. Our Dear Embattled Leader doesn't need to tell lies to scare America. The reality is more than enough.

The Song of Mitchell Wade

Today in the Boston Globe, Michael Kranish compiles some of Wades greatest hits about the Republican corruption in Congress. If you haven't heard them, you must read it.
On March 8, 2004, after a private, chartered flight from Washington, Congressman Randy ''Duke" Cunningham checked into a luxury oceanfront suite at the Delano Hotel, a restored Art Deco jewel on Miami Beach. Prosecutors say the San Diego lawmaker, in town to shop for a yacht, racked up more than $15,000 in bills during the trip, including $848 in meals.

Court records show that Mitchell Wade, an ambitious defense contractor with deep pockets, picked up most of the tab. Prosecutors say the Miami Beach trip was pocket change compared with the more than $1 million in bribes Wade paid to Cunningham, a former fighter pilot and powerful member of the House Appropriations Committee, to steer government defense contracts his way.

But Wade had more money to spread around.

Within days of sending Cunningham to Miami, prosecutors say, Wade gave $32,000 in laundered campaign funds to Representative Katherine Harris, the Florida Republican and Homeland Security Committee member whose help Wade was seeking to create a complex for MZM Inc., his company, in her home state. Documents say Wade also funneled $46,000 into the campaign account of Representative Virgil H. Goode Jr., a Virginia Republican who also sits on the Appropriations Committee.

Wade then discussed getting specific defense appropriations with Harris and Goode or their staffs, according to court documents. Weeks after Wade arranged for most of the contributions to Goode, Wade walked away with a pledge for a $9 million facility in Goode's district with help from Goode's office, the court filings say
Even though he mentions a couple of Democrats who developed a taste for Republican corruption, it is obvious who the main players are in this story. The Globe also has some picture goodness of the cast of reprobates.

Commerce beats security every time.

We have all heard about how well the chemical and nuclear industries have been at self administered security measures. Why waste money that could go to profits? Now the NY Times is reporting that this Bushovik ideal has made its way into the Coast Guard.
Under intense pressure from shipping companies concerned about costly delays, the Coast Guard is tipping off some large commercial ships about security searches that had been a surprise, according to high-ranking Coast Guard officials.

The searches began after the Sept. 11 attacks as part of a major revamping of the Coast Guard and its new antiterrorism mission. But shipping companies say the surprise boardings at sea cause unnecessary delays, costing up to $40,000 an hour.

"We're trying to facilitate commerce and keep the port secure — and sometimes the two conflict," said Capt. Paul E. Wiedenhoeft, who is in charge of the port complex here at Los Angeles and Long Beach. "When possible, we're trying to give shippers as much notice as we can."
So now we know that port security is valued at less than $40,000 an hour. Sure makes me feel secure.

"There is systemwide noncompliance with the new security laws,"
Michael Mitre, director of port security in Los Angeles for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union

Friday, May 19, 2006

MoDo reports on John McCain at The New School

Boy, are they ever a tough crowd.
At the New School commencement at Madison Square Garden's theater yesterday afternoon, dozens of the red-and-black-gowned graduates and some faculty were heckling, cackling, hissing, booing, jeering, whooping, bolting, turning their backs and holding up orange signs that read, "Our commencement is not your platform." As for John McCain, he spoke about how the "passion for self-expression sometimes overwhelms our civility."

"We're graduating, not voting," one young man yelled.

"This is all about you," another called out. "We don't care."

A little while after the senator quoted Yeats about the fleeting nature of beauty, a student sarcastically called out, "More poetry."

First, Mr. McCain and the New School's president, Bob Kerrey, were slapped around by a student speaker, Jean Sara Rohe, a 21-year-old from Nutley, N.J., who sang a lyric from a peace song and then abandoned her original remarks to talk about the "outrage" over Mr. McCain's speaking gig.

"The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded," Ms. Rohe said, adding: "I am young, and although I don't profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that preemptive war is dangerous and wrong."

She continued: "And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction."
But John doesn't mind because he knows that Rev. Jerry loves him and wants to have his mamzer.

Housing boom in Arkansas

FEMA, having been incapable of moving 10,000 trailers to people who need them, tries to make lemonade by setting up a stash for the next big blow not emanating from Washington.
The government has no plans to move at least half of the 10,000 emergency housing trailers sitting empty in Hope, Ark., saying they may be needed for the 2006 hurricane season.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency detailed its plan to keep the trailers at the Hope municipal airport in a letter to Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who had asked that some of the trailers be used for American Indian housing.

The letter did not mention Johnson's request, but FEMA spokesman Aaron Walker said Friday that federal law says the trailers must be used for disaster victims.
Given the "awesome" effort by FEMA, perhaps every taxpayer could be considered a disaster victim in the case.

Filial loyalty by Pat Oliphant

Vatican lays an ass whupping on pedophile priest

Sort of. I mean how tough can you be on an 86 year old priest who was a good friend of of the late Pope JP II? So he rogered a few young boys, at least he was a friend of the pope. From the Washington Post.
The action "amounts to a finding that at least some of the accusations against the charismatic 86-year-old Mexican priest are well-founded," NCR Vatican correspondent John L. Allen Jr. wrote. He called Maciel "perhaps the highest-profile priest in the Catholic church to be disciplined for allegations of sexual abuse."....

.....The Vatican announced today that it has taken disciplinary action against the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado after a decade-long investigation of sex abuse allegations, instructing the elderly Mexican priest to stop conducting his ministry in public and retire to "a reserved life of prayer and penitence."
Sweet Mother of God! Have they no sense of mercy!

Quote of the Day

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH!"
Patrick Henry

How many times can it be said before the collapse?

Paul Krugman says it again in clear and compelling statements, the US can not sustain continued growth of debt.
Um, wasn't the stock market supposed to bounce back after Wednesday's big drop? We shouldn't read too much into a couple of days' movements in stock prices. But it seems that investors are suddenly feeling uneasy about the state of the economy. They should be; the puzzle is why they haven't been uneasy all along.

The rise in stock prices that began last fall was essentially based on the belief that the U.S. economy can defy gravity -- that both individuals and the nation as a whole can spend more than their income, not on a temporary basis, but more or less indefinitely.

To be fair, for a while the data seemed to confirm that belief. In 2005, the trade deficit passed $700 billion, yet the dollar actually rose against the euro and the yen. Housing prices soared, yet houses kept selling. The price of gasoline neared $3 a gallon, yet consumers kept buying both gas and other items, even though they had to borrow to keep spending (the personal savings rate went negative for the first time since the 1930's).

Over the last few weeks, however, gravity seems to have started reasserting itself.

The dollar began falling about a month ago. So far it's down less than 10 percent against the euro and the yen, but there's a definite sense that foreign governments, in particular, are becoming less willing to keep the dollar strong by buying lots of U.S. debt.
Let's ask the Republicans what to do. They are the party of fiscal responsibility.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Mayor Rudy in major ass kissing mode

With none other than everyboy's favorite fallen "christian" Ralph Reed.
The two politicians were effusive in their praise for one another as they entered the Atlanta fundraiser just before noon.

''I just want to say I believe Rudy Giuliani is one of the finest leaders in not only the Republican Party but in either party,'' Reed said.

Giuliani responded: ''We're here to get you elected. It would be a great thing for Georgia.''

Reed's campaign was looking for a boost before the July 18 Republican primary after being dogged by ties between Reed and Jack Abramoff, the powerful Washington lobbyist now facing prison time for conspiracy, tax evasion and fraud.

The luncheon could also help Giuliani draw conservative support in a run for president. His endorsement of Reed comes weeks after the Rev. Jerry Falwell said he admired the former mayor but could not support him for president because of ''irreconcilable differences on life and family.''

Giuliani supports abortion rights, gay rights and gun control.
At least John McCain kissed an ass without any indictments hanging over it.

Maybe that's what it means to be a maverick Republican.

Bob Herbert doesn't believe in Hillary

And he expresses his doubts in his column today.
A WNBC/Marist Poll released this week found that 60 percent of registered voters in Mrs. Clinton's home state of New York believe that she will make a run for the White House. But 66 percent of the voters do not think she will be elected president. Even Democratic voters seemed skeptical. Fifty-seven percent of the Democrats surveyed said it was "not very likely" or "not likely at all" that she would be elected.

Numbers like that coming out of New York, a heavily Democratic state in which Mrs. Clinton is extremely popular, are a recipe for anxiety. "It might give Democrats pause," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll. He said the numbers might indicate that she had some "repair work" to do on the all-important matter of electability.

She has other problems.

Democratic voters, fed up with the policies and the incompetence of the Bush administration, are looking for genuine leadership this time around. They are tired of Democrats who seem to have mortgaged their core principles and put their courage in cold storage.

So they worry when Mrs. Clinton, in an era when civil liberties are being eroded in the United States, goes out of her way to co-sponsor a bill that would criminalize the burning of the American flag. And they worry about her support for President Bush's war in Iraq. And they really worry when they hear that Rupert Murdoch, of all people, will be hosting a fund-raiser for her.
Her mistake has been to move to a center that has been unnaturally dragged to the right by the Busoviks and others of their ilk. She took a pass on her opportunity to work on dragging the center back to its natural state nearer the left. And the voters may not recognize how she failed, but they can see her state of failure. Democrats don't need or want more failure. Our Dear Embattled Leader and his minions have given us enough to last a lifetime.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lowell Weicker sounds the clarion

And proudly proclaims his support for Ned Lamont.
Ned is challenging Sen. Lieberman for the Democratic nomination this week in Hartford. I know Ned from the years when we were fellow townsmen in Greenwich. Indeed, I appointed him chairman of the Investment Advisory Council to the state pension fund - a volunteer job - when I was governor. He is a highly qualified, idealistic individual.

He speaks to the issues of Connecticut's cities, health care and education - all issues that are on hold for lack of adequate funding because of the Iraq war. My sources inform me that most of the delegates from the big cities are voting for Sen. Lieberman. How is that possible when the senator has prioritized Iraq and not Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, New London, etc.? Ned Lamont understands the obscenity of the amount of money going to Iraq - by some estimates, more than a trillion dollars - when juxtaposed against the needs of Connecticut's poor and middle-income citizens.

I want to see brave men and women stand up with Ned Lamont in the days ahead and say: Enough! We don't want to be cast in the image of President George W. Bush, of whom Sen. Lieberman is so enamored. America is better than the portrait painted by this Republican administration.

Give Ned some love here.

The Office of Personnel Management is not a "Preferred Provider"

And because of that noted military intellectual and Bushovik suck-up Stephen Cambone, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence decided not to honor their contract to provide security clearence services.
To make a long story short, GAO investigators found that the Pentagon tried to back out of the deal. They don't name him directly, but they indicate that Stephen Cambone, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, decided he didn't want to pay the 25 percent premium, and told OPM to stick it.

OPM pointed to the contract. Cambone went crying to the White House, asking for the Office of Management and Budget to intervene (in his favor, we can safely assume). OMB told the two to go back outside, play nice and figure it out on their own.

To date, there's no resolution. The system's still shut down. Both DoD and OPM are conducting separate investigations, GAO says, and they'll arrive at conclusions in a few months. Meantime, work just won't get done.
What this does is stop all new hires and contractors from getting the job done. This remains true to form for the Bushoviks. The sad part is the amount involved is about $40 million, just about what Halliburton "misplaces" on any given day in Iraq.

The Bushoviks just never learned to share.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Signe Wilkinson and Nick Anderson

Our Dear Embattled Leader doesn't listen.

But we know that, but he does lie a lot.This time he is trying to have us believe that the NSA was not illegally vacuuming up all the data about innocent Americans phone habits.
"We do not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval," Bush said in an East Room news conference with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

"What I've told the American people is we'll protect them against an al-Qaida attack. And we'll do that within the law," Bush said.

"This government will continue to guard the privacy of the American people. But if al-Qaida is calling into the United States, we want to know, and we want to know why," the president added.

However, Bush did not respond directly when asked whether it was a violation of privacy for the National Security Agency to seek phone records from telephone companies.
Very careful not to say anything that strays from the talking points. Make sure you remind everybody about 9-11 as often as possible because, as we learned last night, he is making another Potemkin effort at border security.

And as if to back up his words, BellSouth and Verizon are saying they made no deals with the NSA to turn over data, they weren't even asked for it. But that is the response they are compelled to give if they received one of the new, improved National Security Letters allowed under the "Patriot Act".

Bush has yet to tell the truth and the telcos are glad not to have to tell the truth. Don'tcha just love this country!

Monday, May 15, 2006

NSA phone spying finds terrists!

Well, actually they look a lot like ABC news correspondents Brian Ross and Richard Esposito but what the hell, just throw a burnoose and a beard on them and no one can tell the difference.
A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.
Remember, just because the gubmint doesn;t want to track you down now, does not mean they won't find a reason later.

NSA phone spyng finds terrists!

Well, actually they look a lot like ABC news correspondents Brian Ross and Richard Esposito but what the hell, just throw a burnoose and a beard on them and no one can tell the difference.
A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.
Remember, just because the gubmint doesn;t want to track you down now, does not mean they won't find a reason later.

Policy is just another word for politics

And Paul Krugman has a nice layout of the policytics that Our Dear Embattled Leader used to set "crown jewel" of his maladministration, Medicare Part D.
Today is the last day to sign up for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit. It appears that millions of Americans, confused by the array of competing plans or simply unaware of the cutoff date, will miss the deadline. This will leave them without drug coverage for the rest of the year, and subject to financial penalties for the rest of their lives. President Bush refuses to extend the sign-up period. ''Deadlines,'' he said last week, ''help people understand there's finality, and people need to get after it, you know?'' His real objection to extending the deadline is probably that this would be an implicit admission that his administration botched the program's start-up. And Mr. Bush never, ever admits mistakes.

But Part D's bad start isn't just another illustration of the administration's trademark incompetence. It's also an object lesson in what happens when the government is run by people who aren't interested in the business of governing.
And after taking us through the cruel charade of its beginning.
So what we got was a drug program set up to serve the administration's friends and its political agenda, not the alleged beneficiaries. Instead of providing drug coverage directly, Part D is a complex system of subsidies to private insurance companies. The administration's insistence on running the program through these companies, which provide little if any additional value beyond what Medicare could easily have provided directly, is what makes the whole thing so complicated. And that complication, combined with an obvious lack of interest in making the system work, is what led to the disastrous start-up.

All of this is, alas, terribly familiar. As John DiIulio, the former head of Mr. Bush's faith-based initiative, told Esquire, ''What you've got is everything -- and I mean everything -- being run by the political arm.'' Ideology and cronyism take complete precedence over the business of governing.

And that's why when it comes to actual policy as opposed to politics, the Bush administration has turned out to have the reverse Midas touch. Everything it gets its hands on, from the reconstruction of Iraq to the rescue of New Orleans, from the drug benefit to the reform of the C.I.A., turns to crud.
Crud, an Old English word for shit.

The only thing we have to fear is Our Dear Embattled Leader

And Bob Herbert uses his column today to illustrate how ODEL, Big Dick and their evil minions make this work in their quest to destroy the United States.
In the dark days of the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt counseled Americans to avoid fear. George W. Bush is his polar opposite. The public's fear is this president's most potent political asset. Perhaps his only asset. Mr. Bush wants ordinary Americans to remain in a perpetual state of fear -- so terrified, in fact, that they will not object to the steady erosion of their rights and liberties, and will not notice the many ways in which their fear is being manipulated to feed an unconscionable expansion of presidential power.

If voters can be kept frightened enough of terrorism, they might even overlook the monumental incompetence of one of the worst administrations the nation has ever known.

Four marines drowned Thursday when their 60-ton tank rolled off a bridge and sank in a canal about 50 miles west of Baghdad. Three American soldiers in Iraq were killed by roadside bombs the same day. But those tragic and wholly unnecessary deaths were not the big news. The big news was the latest leak of yet another presidential power grab: the administration's collection of the telephone records of tens of millions of American citizens.

The Bush crowd, which gets together each morning to participate in a highly secret ritual of formalized ineptitude, is trying to get its creepy hands on all the telephone records of everybody in the entire country. It supposedly wants these records, which contain crucial documentation of calls for Chinese takeout in Terre Haute, Ind., and birthday greetings to Grandma in Talladega, Ala., to help in the search for Osama bin Laden.

Hey, the president has made it clear that when Al Qaeda is calling, he wants to be listening, and you never know where that lead may turn up.
At least we know Osama is not hiding under the cushions of the Oval Office furniture.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Lieberpeople say a primary will happen

Also from the Hartford Courant we have the office of Joe LieberGOPer agreeing that Ned Lamont has the support to force a primary in Connecticut.
t is no longer a question of whether there will be a Democratic primary for the seat occupied by U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman; it is now a question of when it will be official.

A week before the Democratic Party delegates meet at their convention to endorse candidates for statewide offices, campaign staffers for Lieberman, D-Conn., agree with those working for his challenger, Ned Lamont of Greenwich.

After 18 years with virtually no challenge from inside his party, Lieberman will likely face a primary race in August, according to staffers.

Although Lamont could force a primary by collecting nearly 15,000 signatures of registered Democrats, he also could accomplish the same thing by garnering at least 15 percent of the votes cast by 1,607 delegates attending Saturday's nominating convention.

Lieberman's campaign predicted that Lamont will force the primary at the convention by landing 30 percent to 35 percent of the votes.
Go Ned Go!

The Hartford Courant story

Following up on an earlier post using a CNN story about the article in the Courant.
What his hometown does not know is that Henthorn, 25, had been sent back to Iraq for a second tour, even though his superiors knew he was unstable and had threatened suicide at least twice, according to Army investigative reports and interviews. When he finally succeeded in killing himself on Feb. 8, 2005, at Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq, an Army report says, the work of the M-16 rifle was so thorough that fragments of his skull pierced the barracks ceiling.

In a case last July, a 20-year-old soldier who had written a suicide note to his mother was relieved of his gun and referred for a psychological evaluation, but then was accused of faking his mental problems and warned he could be disciplined, according to what he told his family. Three weeks later, after his gun had been handed back, Pfc. Jason Scheuerman, of Lynchburg, Va., used it to end his life.

Also kept in the war zone was Army Pfc. David L. Potter, 22, of Johnson City, Tenn., who was diagnosed with anxiety and depression while serving in Iraq in 2004. Potter remained with his unit in Baghdad despite a suicide attempt and a psychiatrist's recommendation that he be separated from the Army, records show. Ten days after the recommendation was signed, he slid a gun out from under another soldier's bed, climbed to the second floor of an abandoned building and shot himself through the mouth, the Army has concluded.

If Billy the Cat Killer says its a good idea

Then you know it must be the dumbest idea to come down the pike since the Iraq war. But Sen. William Frist R-Dumbass, is comfortable with the use of US troops on the Mexican border.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Sunday dismissed concerns about a proposal to use National Guard troops to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border, saying it is the only short-term solution to stem the flow of illegal immigrants.

"The only thing that we can do to secure our borders right now is to give our states help, and that is best done through the National Guard," the Tennessee Republican told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."....

.....In addition to National Guard troops, the Senate leader said he also supports "a wall, a structure, where people can't go under, over, around or through.
And all of this would be funded by the taxes that you and I pay. The rich folk and super rich corporations have been exempted from paying taxes by the Congress "lead" in part by the aforementioned Sen. Frist

Meet the "Prince of Pork"

And read how Representative Harold Rogers keeps a steady stream of unnecessay expenditures flowing to his district, with the requisite percentages and perks going into his pocket. It may be in Mr Rogers neighborhood but there ain't no sweater here.
The Department of Homeland Security has invested tens of millions of dollars and countless hours of labor over the last four years on a seemingly simple task: creating a tamperproof identification card for airport, rail and maritime workers.

Yet nearly two years past a planned deadline, production of the card, known as the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, has yet to begin.

Instead, the road to delivering this critical antiterrorism tool has taken detours to locations, companies and groups often linked to Representative Harold Rogers, a Kentucky Republican who is the powerful chairman of the House subcommittee that controls the Homeland Security budget.

It is a route that has benefited Mr. Rogers, creating jobs in his home district and profits for companies that are donors to his political causes. The congressman has also taken 11 trips — including six to Hawaii — on the tab of an organization that until this week was to profit from a no-bid contract Mr. Rogers helped arrange. Work has even been set aside for a tiny start-up company in Kentucky that employs John Rogers, the congressman's son.

"Something stinks in Corbin," said Jay M. Meier, senior securities analyst at MJSK Equity Research in Minneapolis, which follows the identification card industry, referring to the Kentucky community of 8,000 that has perhaps benefited the most from Mr. Rogers's interventions. "And it is the sickest example of what is wrong with our homeland security agenda that I can find."
But we all know how good the Republicans are on Nationable Security.

Toles, Auth and Carlson

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Bushoviks really, really do care for our troops

And CNN is reporting that the Hartford Courant has the straight skinny on how they do it.
Twenty-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year. That number accounts for nearly one in five of all noncombat deaths and was the highest suicide rate since the war started, the newspaper said.

The paper reported that some service members who committed suicide in 2004 or 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for "extended deployments."

Although Defense Department standards for enlistment disqualify recruits who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the military also is redeploying service members to Iraq who fit that criteria, the newspaper said.
Rummys "New Army" is a life sentence.

Frank Rich speaks out for America

And does it by shining a bright light on the treasonous behavior of Our Dear Embattled Leader and his bungling minions.
President Bush, himself a sometime leaker of intelligence, called the leaking of the N.S.A. surveillance program a "shameful act" that is "helping the enemy." Porter Goss, who was then still C.I.A. director, piled on in February with a Times Op-Ed piece denouncing leakers for potentially risking American lives and compromising national security. When reporters at both papers were awarded Pulitzer Prizes last month, administration surrogates, led by bloviator in chief William Bennett, called for them to be charged under the 1917 Espionage Act.

We can see this charade for what it is: a Hail Mary pass by the leaders who bungled a war and want to change the subject to the journalists who caught them in the act. What really angers the White House and its defenders about both the Post and Times scoops are not the legal questions the stories raise about unregulated gulags and unconstitutional domestic snooping, but the unmasking of yet more administration failures in a war effort riddled with ineptitude. It's the recklessness at the top of our government, not the press's exposure of it, that has truly aided the enemy, put American lives at risk and potentially sabotaged national security. That's where the buck stops, and if there's to be a witch hunt for traitors, that's where it should begin.
And he closes the deal with a call to stop the insanity.
If Democrats — and, for that matter, Republicans — let a president with a Nixonesque approval rating install yet another second-rate sycophant at yet another security agency, even one as diminished as the C.I.A., someone should charge those senators with treason, too.
Read it all here.

When will Fitzmas officially be celebrated?

Jason Leopold, over at Truthout, had a report yesterday that Americas favorite TurdBlossom would be indicted. Today he say that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald did the service today.
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.

During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.

Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, did not return a call for comment. Sources said Fitzgerald was in Washington, DC, Friday and met with Luskin for about 15 hours to go over the charges against Rove, which include perjury and lying to investigators about how and when Rove discovered that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative and whether he shared that information with reporters, sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said.

It was still unknown Saturday whether Fitzgerald charged Rove with a more serious obstruction of justice charge. Sources close to the case said Friday that it appeared very likely that an obstruction charge against Rove would be included with charges of perjury and lying to investigators.

10,000 vs. 210

Our Dear Embattled Leader is going on prime time TV to talk about immigration. The buzz in DC has him authorizing the use of US troops to patrol the Mexican border. I imagine the Mexican government is quite chagrined to find that their planned, armed invasion of the US has been discovered. With that plot foiled, the troops can then be used to foil the overwhelming horde of camposinos that are swarming over the border, unprotected since the elimination of the 10,000 border patrol agents by ODEL last year.
The law signed by President Bush less than two months ago to add thousands of border patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border has crashed into the reality of Bush's austere federal budget proposal, officials said Tuesday.

Officially approved by Bush on Dec. 17 after extensive bickering in Congress, the National Intelligence Reform Act included the requirement to add 10,000 border patrol agents in the five years beginning with 2006. Roughly 80 percent of the agents were to patrol the southern U.S. border from Texas to California, along which thousands of people cross into the United States illegally every year.

But Bush's proposed 2006 budget, revealed Monday, funds only 210 new border agents....

....Retired Adm. James Loy, acting head of the Department of Homeland Security until nominee Michael Chertoff takes over, said funding only 210 new agents was a "recognition that we need to balance those things as we go on down the road with other priorities."
Oh, you didn't know about that little bit of bait and switch? Shame on you! That is how Our Dear Embattled Leader always operates. Talk big and move on before you have to do anything.

Big Dick and Scooter sitting in a tree, C-O-N-S-P-I-R-I-N-G

A Newsweek report by Michael Isikoff indicates that Big Dick Cheney was deeply involved in the leadup to the treacherous outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
In the margins of the op-ed, Cheney jotted out a series of questions that seemed to challenge many of Wilson's assertions as well as the legitimacy of his CIA sponsored trip to Africa: "Have they done this sort of thing before? Send an Amb. [sic] to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or did his wife send him on a junket?"
Only the mind of The Shooter could think of a trip to West Africa as a "junket". Sort of like thinking of a lawyer as a game bird.

Why is this not a surprise.

The NY Times reveals today that Big Dick Cheney and his new Number Two (after he set upn Scooter for the fall) David Addington were prime movers in the push for the destruction of the Constitution of the United States.
On one side was a strong-willed vice president and his longtime legal adviser, David S. Addington, who believed that the Constitution permitted spy agencies to take sweeping measures to defend the country. Later, Mr. Cheney would personally arrange tightly controlled briefings on the program for select members of Congress.

On the other side was the largest American intelligence agency, which was battered by eavesdropping scandals in the 1970's and has since wielded its powerful technology with extreme care to avoid accusations of spying on Americans.

As in other areas of intelligence collection, including interrogation methods for suspected terrorists, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Addington took an aggressive view of what was permissible under the Constitution, the two intelligence officials said.

If people suspected of links to Al Qaeda made calls inside the United States, the vice president and Mr. Addington thought eavesdropping without warrants "could be done and should be done," one of them said.
And what role did the director of the NSA, Fearless Mike Hayden, have in all this? I am glad you asked.
The spying that would become such a divisive issue for the White House and for General Hayden grew out of a meeting days after the Sept. 11 attacks, when President Bush gathered his senior intelligence aides to brainstorm about ways to head off another attack.

"Is there anything more we could be doing, given the current laws?" the president later recalled asking.

General Hayden stepped forward. "There is," he said, according to Mr. Bush's recounting of the conversation in March during a town-hall-style meeting in Cleveland.

By all accounts, General Hayden was the principal designer of the plan. He saw the opportunity to use the N.S.A.'s enormous technological capabilities by loosening restrictions on the agency's operations inside the United States.

For his part, Mr. Cheney helped justify the program with an expansive theory of presidential power, which he explained to traveling reporters a few days after The Times first reported on the program in December.
Say what you will, but people like Big Dick should not be allowed around decent people. They should be spending the rest of their days rotting inside some cell in one of our taxpayer funded Supermax prisons.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Quote of the Day

History has shown that when . . . leaders stall inspections and impede the progress, it means they have something to hide.
Our Dear Embattled Leader, November 8, 2002

Many thanks to Pere Ubu's Debraining Machine for this.

An inside look at the CIA

As only MoDo could do it.
I bet you're wondering how someone like Dusty Foggo, who had his C.I.A. badge deactivated yesterday because of his role in a scandal ripe with poker parties, Dominican cigars, prostitutes, Scotch, luxury suites, bribed congressmen, defense contracts and even a rumored Teutonic dominatrix, was ever chosen to run day-to-day C.I.A. operations at such a parlous moment in American history.

It's because of Bacon Guy.

That would be Michael Kostiw, a conservative darling who was Porter Goss's first choice to be the third-ranking official at the C.I.A. He was derailed in 2004 after fellow spooks leaked word to The Washington Post that Mr. Kostiw had left the agency under a hickory-smoked cloud two decades earlier, after being caught shoplifting a $2.13 package of bacon from a supermarket in Langley, Va., near C.I.A. headquarters.

Not the pork you usually associate with Washington.
Which side of the looking glass are we on?

Sign the ACLU petition

Tell the telcos to stop illegally spying on you, and all of us here.

Is this another potty joke?

Our Dear Embattled Leader well below freezing

According to the latest Harris poll, the latest approval numbers for ODEL have dipped to 29%.
Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an "excellent or pretty good" job as president, down from 35% in April and significantly lower than 43% in January. It compares with 71% of Americans who said Mr. Bush is doing an "only fair or poor" job, up from 63% in April....

....In terms of political-party identification, 48% of Republicans said "right direction" while 39% of Republicans said "wrong track." In comparison, just 13% of Democrats said "right direction" and 83% of Democrats responded with "wrong track."
I wonder if ODEL has dreams of falling and falling....

Dusty walks out and the FBI walks in.

A day sooner and they could have frog-walked Foggo in cuffs from the building. What they did do was search his office and home although reports do not say how many boxes of stuff they carted away.
The agencies taking part in the searches are: the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Attorney's office in San Diego and the CIA's inspector general, Weierman said.

The inspector general has been investigating Foggo's relationship with Wilkes for more than two months.

The inquiry stems from the investigation of Cunningham, who is serving a prison term of more than eight years after admitting last year that he took $2.4 million in bribes from government contractors. Mitchell Wade, another contractor, pleaded guilty in February to conspiring with Cunningham and is cooperating with investigators.

Wilkes is described in court papers as an unindicted coconspirator.

The investigation includes allegations, raised by Wade, that Wilkes provided Cunningham with prostitutes, limousines and hotel suites.

Foggo has acknowledged participating in poker games organized by Wilkes at the hotel rooms, but he has said nothing untoward went on while he was there. "If he attended occasional card games with friends over the years, Mr. Foggo insists they were that and nothing more," the CIA statement said.

Lawyers for Wilkes and the limousine company, Shirlington Limousine and Transportation Inc., of Arlington, Va., also have denied any involvement with prostitutes.

Foggo announced his retirement from the agency this week, three days after CIA Director Porter Goss said he would be stepping down.

Dyck said the Foggo investigation has "absolutely nothing, zero" to do with Goss' resignation.
Foggo just wanted to start a new career, mining green cheese on the moon for export to the earth.

A corporation obeys the law.

Imagine that! Qwest was the only major telco to refuse the NSA requests to tap American phone calls because their lawyers thought the lack of warrants was a violation of the law. And the best part is Joe Nacchio, the CEO at the time was a Republican contributor.
In a statement released this morning, the lawyer said that the former chief executive, Joseph N. Nacchio, made the decision after asking whether "a warrant or other legal process had been secured in support of that request."

Mr. Nacchio learned that no warrant had been granted and that there was a "disinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process," said the lawyer, Herbert J. Stern. As a result, the statement said, Mr. Nacchio concluded that "the requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act."
Another law broken by the Bushoviks.

Is the RNC mission statement "to leave no law unbroken"?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Why we should be worried

About the fate of Our Democracy.

From Crooks and Liars a clip of Consttutional law expert Jonathan Turley

9-11!, 9-11!, 9-11!

This mornings revelation in USA Today of the scope if illegal NSA intrusion into the personal lives of Americans has the Bushoviks and Our Dear Embattled Leader ginning up the noise machine to full "Henny-Penny" mode. Beginning with ODEL himself.
"The privacy of all Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities," he said. "Our efforts are focused on Al Qaeda and their known associates."
However, if you consider the size of the program,
With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans. Customers' names, street addresses and other personal information are not being handed over as part of NSA's domestic program, the sources said. But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.
it sure looks like they stepped over the border a few times. Unless there really are that many Al Qaeda sympathizers in this country.

This proposition is highly doubtful.

What is more likely is that it is Constitutionally prohibited activity by the Executive branch that trumps a blue dress any day of the week. And the reaction of Sen Patrick Leahy is fully justified.
"Are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with Al Qaeda?" Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the committee's ranking minority member, asked angrily.

Like Mr. Specter, Mr. Leahy made a link between the new charge and the administration's refusal to answer the many of the committee's questions about the security agency's warrantless wiretaps of calls between the United States and overseas in which one person is suspected of terrorist ties.

"It's our government, our government!" he said, turning red in the face and waving a copy of USA Today. "It's not one party's government, it's America's government!"
Yes, it is Our Government and it is time for us to be heard.

What the Democrats need to win

Bob Herbert takes a stab at answering this question and comes up with a solution that most people feel but probably have never articulated. At least not outside of blogtopia (y!sctp).
There are no Trumans in sight in this Democratic Party. Democratic candidates and potential candidates are still agonizing with their analysts over exactly what to say about this issue or that. (They're trying to figure out ways to talk about the war, for example, that will offend neither hawks nor doves.) What's almost funny is that the patient has been doing this for years, and keeps losing election after election.

Why not try something new and liberating, like the truth? Forget the theorizing and strategizing. Tell the truth about what's happening now. Let the electorate know how much the Iraq war is really costing -- in human treasure, loss of influence around the world, increases in gasoline prices and cold, hard cash. Tell the truth about the monstrous buildup of state power by the Bush crowd, which has undermined the freedom and privacy of innocent people here at home, and angered many conservatives.

Talk straight about the unconscionable assault on working people in the United States.
Far more easily said than done unfortunately. The current structure of American politics tends to break the spirit of all but the strongest spirits on the road to political success. Still, it has been done before and can be done again.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Tom Toles & Pat Oliphant

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