Saturday, July 10, 2004

Power of Attorney

From ArchPundit, looks like that trial lawyer rap isn't quite as bad as the GOP hoped:

"Only 28.4% say being a trial lawyer negatively affects their opinion of Edwards. 54.8% says that background makes them think he fights for the average person."

Fact is, there's a lot of lawyers out there. Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon says that quite a few people are lawyers, are married to lawyers, have lawyer friends, have hired lawyers or are studying to become lawyers, and aren't going to listen to congressmen who used to be lawyers when they try to push this "lawyers are bad" crapola.

Establishing Democracy in Florida

Florida elections officials said Saturday they will not use a disputed list that was designed to keep felons from voting, acknowledging a flaw that could have allowed convicted Hispanic felons to cast ballots in November.

The glitch in a state that President Bush won by just 537 votes could have been significant -- because of the state's sizable Cuban population, Hispanics in Florida have tended to vote Republican more than Hispanics nationally. The list had about 28,000 Democrats and around 9,500 Republicans, with most of the rest unaffiliated.

``Not including Hispanic felons that may be voters on the list ... was an oversight and a mistake,'' Gov. Jeb Bush said. ``And we accept responsibility and that's why we're pulling it back.''


NAACP asks Bush to reconsider

Don't hold your breath.

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The head of the largest and oldest U.S. civil rights group criticized President Bush on Saturday for once again refusing to speak at its convention this year and urged him to reconsider.

Kweisi Mfume, president of the NAACP, said it was "unbelievable" that Bush had declined an invitation to speak at the organization's annual meeting for the fourth consecutive year.

"When you are president, you are elected to be president of all the people," Mfume said at a news conference as the convention opened. "You won't do that if you refuse to talk."


"I would ask the president to reconsider his unnecessarily harsh stance and to show America that he's bigger than that," he said.


Bush, campaigning in Pennsylvania on Friday, said he would not attend this year's NAACP event. He said his relationship with its leadership was "basically nonexistent" and he referred to being called "names" by organization members.

George to NAACP: You're a bunch of meanies. Waaaaaahhhh.

Open Thread Toy

My weekend availability is limited, so here's an open thread just in case.

As a bonus, here's a new toy I found today. Enjoy.

A Lesson from the Brits on Responsibility

Blame resides with Blair:

Tony Blair must take responsibility for any intelligence failings identified in the Butler Report, the former head of the Joint Intelligence Committee says.


"The buck stops there and I don't think that the political layer in any country can escape the consequences of a systemic failure," [Dame Pauline Neville-Jones] said.

She refused to say whether Mr Blair should resign if the report found he had been wrong, but said: "He is making a distinction between what he genuinely believed and what turns out to be the case so he is at least open to the accusation of incompetence."


Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday the former foreign secretary Robin Cook said the suggestion that there had been a "global" intelligence failure was "garbage"

"Nobody except Washington and London thought that Saddam was such a threat that we had immediately to go to war," he said.

"The governments had made up their mind that Saddam had weapons and must be a threat, they had made up their mind they were going to go to war.

Also, the Coalition of the Willing took a small hit as the Phillipines announced that it will withdraw their 50 troops as scheduled in August.

The Times Sees Through the Fog

Where were they two years ago?

The report was heavily censored by the administration and is too narrowly focused on the bungling of just the Central Intelligence Agency. But what comes through is thoroughly damning. Put simply, the Bush administration's intelligence analysts cooked the books to give Congress and the public the impression that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons and was developing nuclear arms, that he was plotting to give such weapons to terrorists, and that he was an imminent threat.

These assertions formed the basis of Mr. Bush's justifications for war. But the report said that they were wrong and were not a true picture of the intelligence, and that the intelligence itself was not worth much.

The editorial also slams Tom "Chicken Little" Ridge.

Dean-Nader debate

I'm listening to it right now. Good stuff. Dean sounds great, as usual.


Corey Pein, in yesterday's CJR, discusses the newfound media interest in the surprise theory as a result of the TNR article by Ackerman, Judis, and Ansari. The story investigates claims that the Bush administration has been pressuring Pakistan to produce Bin Laden or some other high-level member of al Qaeda before the November election. Pein credits the story for reminding the press that bin Forgotten is out there. What's being done to find him? Why has he been so difficult to catch?

Pein talked to Gary Sick, a former member of Carter's national security council and an expert on Iran. Sick had earlier investigated whether the Reagan campaign used the Iran hostage situation to influence the 1980 election. He made a case for it in a 1991 NYT's op-ed. Pein notes, "Controversy ensued, and in the end, nothing was settled. Alas."

Does Sick think finding Bin Laden or one of the other big names will boost Bush? Pein concludes:

For what it's worth, Gary Sick doesn't put much stock in a sudden bin Laden capture. And he now believes the whole hostage thing in 1980 didn't do much to sway the election. He says voters aren't that stupid, and he believes they make up their minds based on impressions they develop over the long term.

That could be true. We may be about to find out.

We'd all like these bad guys to be rounded up, but it will not end the threat of terrorism. Many argue that the Iraq invasion has made the whole situation worse, and Americans are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the whole mess. Why didn't we capture Bin Laden when we had the chance? Now, it's too little, too late. Bush blew it, big time.

The Bubble Shrinks

Charges dropped against Crawford protestors as local ordinance passed to limit the Chimpster's brushes with reality is ruled unconstitutional.


Get your copy now.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Your Preznit Takes Charge

He has a plan for reforming our intelligence agencies:

[W]e need to bolster human intelligence. In other words, one of the best ways to figure out what the enemy is thinking is to get to know the enemy firsthand, I guess is the best way to put it -- is to have as much human intelligence as possible. Good quality intelligence and enough human intelligence agents, assets out there so that we can cover the globe.

Yes, more intelligence, particularly among our leaders, would be good. And as far as intelligence assets go, there's this woman named Valerie Plame, perhaps you've heard of her?

I will remind them that there has been some failures -- listen, we thought there was going to be stockpiles of weapons. I thought so; the Congress thought so; the U.N. thought so. I'll tell you what we do know. Saddam Hussein had the capacity to make weapons. See, he had the ability to make them. He had the intent. We knew he hated America. We knew he was paying families of suiciders. We knew he tortured his own people, and we knew he had the capability of making weapons. That we do know. They haven't found the stockpiles, but we do know he could make them. And so he was a dangerous man. He was a dangerous man. The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power. America is safer.

Yes, we defintely need more human intelligence.

Or any. I'd go for any intelligence at this point in time.

US joins Axis of Evil

Say it isn't so

VIENNA, Austria - An investigation of the black market supplying nations wanting nuclear arms has spread to more than 20 firms — some of them North American — the chief of the U.N. atomic agency told The Associated Press Friday. A senior diplomat identified one of the firms as U.S. based.


The diplomat said at least one of them was in the United States. He declined to elaborate, saying the agency "was not yet at the bottom of that story." But he said what is known about that company sheds new light on the activities of the network, known up to now for primarily supplying technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran as part of the process allowing them to make enriched uranium that can be used either to generate electricity or make weapons.

What will we tell the children? (Okay, which company is it?)



But just what sort of “awful journalism” produced this same old feeling in Cohen? The scribe devoted almost half of his column to a single sentence from Moore’s film—a single sentence that is perfectly accurate! (And quite unremarkable.) Why in the world would this trouble Cohen? Again, we’ll present a wild thought:
Why did Cohen feel sorry for Bush? Let’s suggest the obvious reason—he was expressing the instincts of his class. Before the war, and now again, he found the proles presenting claims which he simply couldn’t abide. And guess what? The rabble was again upsetting him more than Bush—even when, as in Moore’s case, the rabble was saying things that were perfectly accurate! Like Goodman, Cohen didn’t seem to care a lot about things happening around the world. In effect, he really cared about the fact that there was some kid in some movie theater whose deportment wasn’t perfectly decorous.

Cohen was upset with Moore—because he said something perfectly accurate. Goodman was upset with Moore—because he showed a brief shot of a boy in Iraq. Surely, these can’t be the actual reasons for the reactions of these High Pundits. Might we suggest a more obvious thought about why these pundits were landing on Moore? Here it is: Members of your High Pundit Class don’t really care about people in Flint! Nor do they care about people in Baghdad. And when a shambling man suggests that they should, they begin to find themselves getting offended. They start feeling sorry for poor abused Bush. They complain about kids in a theater.

Readers, we hate to break the news, but Britney Spears really is somewhat empty. But as we’ve seen for year after year, so is the gang which makes up our High Press Corps. Goodman averted her gaze for two years while they invented their tales about Gore, and now she recites their overblown claims about a dude who comes from Flint and dares to make her spend twenty seconds on the fate of a young boy in Baghdad.

Cable News Wars

From Drudge:




A new documentary claiming to show Republican bias at FOX NEWS will debut in New York City on Monday. But FOX NEWS executives are preparing to hit back hard -- if rivals self-servingly hype the film!

The DRUDGE REPORT has learned that FOX NEWS executives are lining up a parade of FOX NEWS employees who formerly worked at CNN & MSNBC and have been downloading information on how editorial decisions are made at these networks, including the agenda for how stories are supposed to be covered.

A senior FOX NEWS executive tells DRUDGE: "We have enough ammunition to nail both MSNBC & CNN." Sources say FOX is prepared to go public with these accounts if necessary.


Bring it on. I look forward to CNN defending their conservative creds...

Time Traveling Paper Shredder

The Poor Man makes mere mortals like us understand things that even Stephen Hawking can't get his melon around.

Obama's Challenger?

The deputy director of President Bush's drug-control office resigned Friday to explore a run for the Senate in place of Jack Ryan, the Republican nominee who dropped out over sex-club allegations, The Associated Press has learned.

Dr. Andrea Grubb Barthwell, a physician from Chicago, had been deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington since 2002, focusing on reducing demand for drugs.


So, what do we know about Dr. Andrea Grubb Barthwell, other than the fact that she is a drugwarrior? Judging from Backslider's comments, it does not appear that she has been successful reducing demand for drugs (just ribbing you, brother).

UPDATE: Andrea Grubb Barthwell seems to be a well-respected substance abuse treatment professional (praised by the late Paul Wellstone in this blurb), but she is new to electoral politics.

UPDATE of the UPDATE: Dr. Barthwell has been running around the country fighting medical marijuana initiatives. That's just another reason to support Barak Obama.

File Under H for "Ho-Hum"

The adminsitration is ignoring federal budget data reporting requirements in order to help Bush's re-selection. I lost count of the number of times this has happened during the last three plus years. It hardly seems worth mentioning anymore, but I figured there were too few posts on this blog.

The White House will miss a July 15 deadline to release a new budget report expected to show improvement in the deficit ahead of next month's Republican political convention, officials said on Friday.

Administration officials denied the delay was politically motivated to give the White House budget office more time to incorporate better-than-expected tax revenue figures into their forecasts. They said they would release the new budget projections as soon as they are completed.

Release of the report could provide Bush with a political boost at the Republican convention, which opens Aug. 30, by allowing him to cite progress reining in record budget deficits.

This could bite Bush in the butt if the economy does not improve. The Leading Index of Consumer Spending (consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of our economy) fell to 5.30 percent in May from 5.84 in April, something you won't hear him mention on the campaign trail.

Top Pentagon Officials Conspire to Circumvent Supreme Court

As well as federal law and the Geneva Conventions.

Despite pledging yearly reviews for all prisoners held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Pentagon officials tentatively agreed during a high-level meeting last month to deny that process to some detainees and to keep their existence secret "for intelligence reasons," senior defense officials said Thursday.

Under the proposal, some prisoners would in effect be kept off public records and away from the scrutiny of lawyers and judges.

From the LA Times.

UPDATE: Balta is on it, too.

Oh, Dana, we're over here ...

From a WaPo chat with reporter Dana Milbank:

Katonah, N.Y.: Do you have any thoughts about the rise in credibility of political bloggers? Do political reporters talk about the blogs? Do they make fun of them?

Dana Milbank:
Political bloggers spend a lot of time criticizing the mainstream media, but it doesn't go the other way very much. I think they can be quite useful in noticing things that otherwise might fall through the cracks. My trouble is there's no time to go through all of them. Has anybody found a reliable uber-blog that gets everything?

When Do the Adults Take Over?

The global increase in HIV infection rates has been cited as "one of the greatest threats to U.S. and global security."

Yet the Bush administration has cut the number of US representatives to the international AIDS conference in Bangkok Sunday by 75% because poor Tommy Thompson was heckled last year:

The U.S. government will send only one-quarter as many people to the huge international AIDS conference starting Sunday in Bangkok as it sent to the last one in Barcelona.

The decision to cut attendance, which comes as the Bush administration is rolling out its five-year, $15 billion global AIDS treatment plan, was reached long after many government scientists had made plans to attend the conference, which is held every two years. Dozens of scientific presentations were withdrawn, about 50 will be published only as summaries and not presented publicly, and dozens of meetings -- many designed to train Third World AIDS researchers and foster international collaboration -- were canceled.

The move, which officials say is to save money, is interpreted by many AIDS experts as payback for the heckling of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson at the last AIDS conference and further evidence of a "go-it-alone" attitude in the administration's global AIDS program.


The U.S. government's diminished presence is being greeted in some quarters with chagrin, amazement and disgust.

"It's unfair, it's a pity, it's also a bit awkward," said Joep Lange, a Dutch scientist who is president of the International AIDS Society and a co-chairman of the conference.

"The largest group in the world in terms of AIDS expertise comes from the U.S., so it's important this expertise is at the conference," said Peter Piot, head of UNAIDS, the program run by the United Nations and the World Bank. The reduced attendance "is a big deal for the quality of the conference," he said.


A Diversion

This is a little bit of Friday fun. Sars writes for the inimitable Television Without Pity, MSNBC, and her own site, Tomato Nation. For the last three weeks she's been posting chapters of a wonderfully absurd sort of comic-book-style pseudo-novel, Subheroes. Witness:

Sometimes, you need Frat Boy Pranksters. You try not to need Frat Boy Pranksters, because you will get a call like this every damn time. Every time. "Now we can't catch the pig," "we ran out of bowling balls," "can Diz bring us an extension cord and some Crisco," it never stops. Unfortunately, when you need an entire living room out on a lawn in half an hour, you don't have much choice.

If you're not already a Tomatohead, go get hooked on it.

This Microfilm Will Self-Destruct in Two Weeks

Dan Froomkin, writing on June 25 about the AP's suit seeking Bush's military records:

Associated Press Assistant General Counsel Dave Tomlin told me yesterday that AP reporters began trying to get the documents back in February, but hit roadblock after roadblock.

Tomlin said the AP has been informed that the microfilm in question does indeed exist. Tomlin said that because paper records can vanish and be tampered with, the microfilm "would erase any questions." [Emphasis added.]

Far be it from me to try to inject a note of calm into politics these days, but ...

The entire debate over the past three months about how Al Qaeda really wants to influence the election is collectively the stupidest thing I've ever heard, and that's after a year of mainlining campaign coverage from the Internet.

First of all, everybody predicting what Al Qaeda wants, could they concentrate real hard on their Ouija board and find out something else for me, like where the hell is Osama, and where is Al Qaeda going to attack next so we can warn some people? Could they get some useful information from whatever magic toaster oven is sending them messages these days?

Second of all, Republicans, figuring out the motivations of terrorists and then trying to thwart those motivations is one of those fuzzy things you accuse liberals of doing. You're supposed to be the ones that just want to blow them up. We're the ones who want to understand what the hell their problem is before we blow them up. Keep your gamepieces straight, guys, it's the only way to win at Chutes & Ladders.

Basing your votes on what Al Qaeda does or does not want is ridiculous, as is sitting around trying to divine what that might be. Nobody knows, and going back and forth between the two arguments (the terrorists want Kerry! No, they want Bush!) just makes both sides look like they're wasting time sniping when they should be turning over rocks trying to find these terrorists and stop them from killing people.

Let's have an argument about the best ways to do that, please, instead of a one-upmanship contest over who is deepest inside the Al Qaeda mindset. Jeff Jacoby, I'm looking at you.

Spector and the Hate Amendment

With the vote looming next week Mother Jones asks, what will Arlen do?

The moderate Pennsylvanian has taken pains to avoid speaking out on the FMA, though his record suggests he will oppose it. Specter is deeply unpopular among the state's social conservatives, who backed the ultra-rightwing Pat Toomey in the primary. A vote against the FMA will only further incur their wrath. On the other hand, if Specter endorses the amendment, he risks alienating the moderate urban voters who have kept him in office for fourteen years. It doesn't get more precarious than this.

Poor Arlen. It's cruel to subject him to another six years of torment like this. Support Joe Hoeffel!

The Donald on The Chimp

"What was the purpose of the whole thing?" Donald Trump asks in an Esquire interview. "Hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and no legs?"

"The Apprentice" star said it's folly to think Iraq can be turned into a "wonderful democracy."

The real estate baron said if he were President, Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden "would have been caught long ago."

"Tell me, how is it possible that we can't find a guy who's 6-foot-6 and supposedly needs a dialysis machine?" Trump said. "Can you explain that one to me? We have all our energies focused on one place - where they shouldn't be focused."


And if you have not seen it yet, watch Trump fire Bush here.

Prescient Preznit Disputes Sentate Report

"I think the intelligence I get is darn good intelligence and the speeches I have given are backed by good intelligence."

George W. Bush
July 14, 2003

Dodging the bullet, for now

Bob Kur (MSNBC) and others have commented this morning that because the investigation of the White House role in the exaggerated pre-war intelligence will not be launched until after the election, it lets the Bush administration off the hook temporarily. The republican-led committee has seen to that. Saxby Chambliss has even insisted that the White House cannot be blamed for the flawed evidence, saying the report is "a total vindication of any allegations that might ever have been made about what the administration did with the information."

Not so fast, argues Vincent Cannistraro, a former chief of operations in the CIA's counter-terrorist unit, who insists that the facts don't support Chambliss' assertion.

"People would have to forget an awful lot of history to make that wash. It ignores the fact that [the Bush administration] had already taken a strategic decision to go to war, before they asked for the intelligence."

He said repeated questioning of reports downplaying Iraq's arsenal and links with al-Qaida by Mr Cheney and other senior officials led to an atmosphere in which the CIA leadership and analysts "bent over backwards" to find evidence that conformed to the administration's views.


Time will tell who's really to blame here, right?

Small Time Dick

As Athenae and I mentioned earlier in this space, former LA Mayor and current California Education Secretary Richard Riordan thinks that it's funny to call six-year-old Isis D'Luciano stupid and dirty. The outrage over Secretary Riordan's "joke" has nothing to do with race as some have implied, it springs from the fact that the man should be primarily concerned with the well-being of California's children.

If Riordan were the Secretary of Agriculture and he told a farmer to go fuck himself, how long do you think he would last? So tell us, Arnie, do you value education?

California NAACP president Alice A. Huffman says it best:

"It is abusive to use such language toward a child, regardless the gender, race, socioeconomic background or national heritage," Alice A. Huffman, president of the California State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said in a statement.

"To say that he was only kidding or joking suggests that Mr. Riordan, who is in charge of developing education policy for our children, knows nothing about children and has even less respect for them."

Isis' mother Trinity Lila thinks that Riordan probably should resign as well, and she sounds like she's a great mom:

"I let my daughter go to story hour and figured she'd be safe in a room full of librarians and parents and other children and the secretary of education," Lila said.

"If I was in the room, I would have defended her. But she did OK without me. I'm really proud of her for standing up for herself. She's OK. She's moved on. It's not like I'm going to sue to pay her therapy bills."


Lila said her daughter didn't correct Riordan because "she told me she didn't want to hurt his feelings. I got the impression she just didn't think he was very bright."

"I really didn't know much about the man, so I wasn't aware of how socially inept he is," she said. "He's a bureaucrat and I guess he's a grandfather. But it doesn't seem like he's had a lot of exposure to kids. It was really a stupid thing to say."

As Bright As An Egg-Timer

Lefty celebs raise $7.5 million for the Johns:

[Whoopi] Goldberg, a devout Democrat, did not spare Bush in her monologue: "Anybody who could wave to (blind singer) Stevie Wonder isn't fully there," she said to howls from the audience.

But she also produced a few embarrassed grimaces with an unsubtle anatomical double-entendre enjoining voters to "keep Bush where it belongs and not in the White House."


[Paul] Newman took off on his fiscal policies, saying, "I think that tax cuts for worried, wealthy thugs like me are borderline criminal," and the notion they produce trickle-down benefits for the poor is "rubbish".

Actress Jessica Lange branded the Bush administration "a self-serving regime of deceit, hypocrisy and belligerence", while comic Chevy Chase heaped scorn on Bush's intellect: "This guy is as bright as an egg-timer."

Job Opening

Republican Party seeks Illinois Senate Candidate. Must like losing to charismatic young star of Democratc Party, being regularly mocked in press accounts. No Experience Needed, own fortune to piss away a plus. Must not be discouraged by the fact that anybody with any street smarts at all is running away from this job as fast as he can.

Joe Hoeffel Day

By all rights it should have been yesterday, but give the new guy a break.

Regular Eschaton readers know that Joe Hoeffel is competing with Arlen Spector for one of Pennsylvania's senate seats. A Hoeffel victory is important for many reasons, today I'm interested in the composition of our judicial branch.

On Tuesday Arlen Spector voted to confirm Judge Leon Holmes' nomination to the federal bench in Arkansas, after lobbying against Holmes confirmation on Monday.

And just who is Leon Holmes? He's the former president of the Arkansas Right to Life Committee whose greatest hits include these memorable ditties:

On legal abortions for rape victims:

“[C]oncern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”

And the always popular:

“[T]he wife is to subordinate herself to her husband and the woman is to place herself under the authority of the man."

Holmes also once wrote a letter to the Arkansas Gazette entitled, “The Scary New Argument for Abortion,” comparing pro-choice arguments to Nazi propaganda.

Yet Arlen Spector thought this man should be a federal judge (or at least he did on Tuesday).

Slip Joe some turkee!

Krugman on Health Care

The last sentence says it all:

If we ever get a clear national debate about health care and taxes, I don't see how President Bush will win it.

Go Cheney Yourself

Prominent Australian politicians tell U.S. officials to mind their own business.

The United States has been told to "butt out" of Australian politics by two former prime ministers who accused U.S. officials of trying to sway Australian voters in knife-edge general election due within months.

Top U.S. officials, including President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell, have been pressuring Australia's opposition Labor party to drop a promise to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq if it won polls tipped for October.


U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage stepped up criticism this week, telling Australian reporters in Washington that he believed center-left Labor was split on its policy to withdraw Australia's 850 troops in and around Iraq by Christmas.

With Labor polling neck-and-neck with the eight-year-old Liberal/National government, former Labor prime minister Paul Keating and former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser condemned U.S. interference in Australian politics.

"The intervention, not only of Richard Armitage but his bosses, in our political scene, I think, are quite unforgivable," Fraser, who was prime minister between 1975 and 1983, told Australian television late on Thursday.

"He's (Armitage) doing it for a very specific purpose -- to try and achieve a specific outcome that the United States wants. If it had been in older times, American officials would have been told to butt out."



So, the relevant parts of Bush's military records were "accidentally destroyed."

It's long been assumed by people like me that Bush's records were indeed tampered with. Now, despite the "official story," I think it's pretty safe to assume that is indeed the case.

Late Night Open Thread

Don't do anything I wouldn't do.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

"Why the Homosexual Movement Has Won"

At least they're finally admitting it:

"The spectacular success of the homosexual movement stands as one of the most fascinating phenomena of our time. In less than two decades, homosexuality has moved from "the love that dares not speak its name," to the center of America's public life."

The rest of the article is a collection of blathering about how evangelical Christians have been portrayed in the debate over gay marriage as a bunch of backward whackjobs, and gays have been portrayed as angels with shiny little wings, and other GOP talking points that have so much straw stuffed in them they should be legally classified as fire hazards.

The stuff that's blatantly insane aside, this screed lays out pretty clearly a picture of an anti-gay movement that is deeply dismayed at having totally lost the public relations war, and perplexed at the lack of fire and brimstone that has greeted the spectacle of loving people pledging their lives to one another.

To which I say, what exactly did you expect? You stand in front of a crowd of celebrating couples, some with children, some who have been together their entire lives and bothered no one, some who sang the Star Spangled Banner on the steps of the Boston courthouse, and the only thing you could say in repsonse is that those people were damned to hell? If you really wanted to suit up and do battle against gay marriage, you had to realize you were putting on a pretty ugly uniform.

According to this article in The Hill, conservative republicans are whining because they're not being given the coveted prime-time speaking slots at September's convention. Instead, those who have more moderate views on abortion and gay rights and represent the "best and the brightest" of the party are being tapped, including our favorite movie star governor in a starring role. Other speakers will be McCain, Giuliani, and Pataki.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) told The Hill: “The convention is using
people that run the State Department because they are accustomed to
the concept that they must not rock any boats, so that everything runs
smoothly. The people who reflect the majority of the party should certainly
be given a chance to present their positions.”

Unfortunately for Tancredo, the choice of speakers says more about the actual size of the conservative movement than anything else, doesn't it? Polls consistently show that Americans do not think the country is headed in the right direction. Of course, we know that Bush appeared more moderate when he ran in 2000, and look what he's done since. Is this appeal to the center going to work? Are the repubs saying one thing only to move farther to the right if elected? Again?

Keeping the Pressure On

As Holden posted yesterday, California Education head Richard Riordan got his jollies making fun of a little girl, telling her her name meant "stupid dirty girl," and then passed his nasty remark off as "teasing."

The NAACP is now calling for his resignation. Schwarzenegger hasn't yet, so there's still work to be done.

I have to say, though, it's a sad day for the California GOP when the Gropenfuhrer looks like the grown-up in the party.

Used Car Salesman

The Wisconsin State Journal on Russ Feingold's likely opponent:

Darrow's lines and fuzzy position statements - yep, my opponent voted "against America" - do nothing to relieve a reader of the image of a car dealer strapping a flag to a car antenna to get a sale.

The rest of the article is none too flattering for Feingold, not surprising since this paper is the conservative alternative in Wisconsin, but that's a nice line.

The guy's raised a lot of money, but he's still a complete tool. Those who want to complain about Feingold's maverick tendencies should check out Russ Darrow's Kindergarten Lecture, er, campaign web site to see what the alternative is like.

"I pray that they may some day be inscribed on the tablets of your hearts - and those three words are ‘shame on you’."

The Rev Dr John Mann spoke of his anger toward Tony Blair and George Bush as Fusilier Gordon Gentle, 19, was buried with full military honours at St James’ Parish Church in Pollok, Glasgow.

The teenager was killed while on a routine patrol in Basra on 28 June, three months after joining the regiment.


"I want to believe that if there’s a God in heaven then there will be justice because I want someone to pay for Gordon’s death," Dr Mann told a hushed congregation.

"But only God may judge who is ultimately responsible and I can only admonish - I’m just a preacher. And if I were to point them out, I would say to president George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, I have only three words of admonishment.

"I pray that they may some day be inscribed on the tablets of your hearts - and those three words are ‘shame on you’."


Dr Mann added: "I am angry at the political leaders who created this war. I am angry at the politicians who themselves have never experienced the horror of war yet easily send others to war."

He said the case for war was based on "misinformation and lies", adding: "Those who are ultimately responsible for Gordon’s death will in all likelihood never face justice in this life."

There's more.

Torture Lou!

And Ridge, Ashcroft, Cheney, Bush.

What do you think is behind the latest terror warning?

New intelligence
Ongoing threat
Playing politics


A Harvey The Wildebeest production.

The Edwards Bounce and the Russert Flop

Dan Froomkin is certainly a bright spot over at the Washington Post. Today he provides some initial public reaction to Kerry's VP choice along with another example of Little Russ's bias:

Here's Tim Russert on the NBC Nightly News filling Brian Williams in on the latest quickie poll.
For one, it shows that the Kerry campaign got a bounce from the Edwards announcement, now leading Bush/Cheney by a 49 to 41 margin.

But the real shocker: When asked who they would prefer, upon the death of the president, if the vice president had to serve as president, Edwards outpolled Cheney 45 percent to 38 percent.

"It really is striking," Russert said. "We had assumed that an incumbent vice president, with the gravitas of Dick Cheney, would do much better than that against the inexperienced John Edwards."

Mark Murray of NBC goes through yet more results and writes: "Moreover, when asked who is more optimistic about the future of the country, 49 percent said Edwards, while just 28 percent chose Cheney."

Keep in mind that optimism is arguably the paramount theme of the Bush/Cheney message.

Still Holding at Level Big Bird

Can someone tell me, please, what Tom Ridge actually does? BBC News is reporting that Ridge has warned that there have been "credible reports" that Al Qaeda is planning to try to undermine the November 2 election by staging an attack. But Ridge said that the U.S. has no plans to raise the alert level.

Then why bother to tell anyone about the so-called "credible reports" that there is going to be an attack? What the hell is the Department of Homeland Security trying to do?

Today on Holden's Obsession with the Gaggle

Dang, I wish I could get my mitts on a transcript of Chimpy's little dust-up, but all I have is Scottie.

Still, there were some interesting Lay-related questions:

Q But this particular alleged corporate wrongdoer was a personal friend of the President's, who the President addressed as "Kenny, boy," who raised a lot of money for the President in the 2000 election cycle, who offered corporate jets to the President for travel in Texas. He did know him well. Does he --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you seem to want to be fairly selective there, because let me point out that he was someone who supported Democrats and Republicans, alike, including the President, as you pointed out.

Q Well, is that all the President had to say?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's how I would describe the relationship, and I think it's an accurate way to describe the relationship.

Q Does President Bush consider Ken Lay a personal friend? And did the White House have any communication with the Justice Department leading up to the indictment?

MR. McCLELLAN: No. This is a Justice Department matter, and we expect the Justice Department to do their job when it comes to cracking down on corporate wrongdoing. In terms of the question you asked about Mr. Lay, the President has already addressed that, and he described it the way I did, as well.

And what about Lay's role in Cheney's Energy Task Force? The questions say it all:

Q Scott, could you say whether Ken Lay had any input into formulation of a Bush energy policy?

Q Yes, I realize that. But wouldn't it be -- given the indictment now, wouldn't it be in the interest of assuring the public of the integrity of the process by which you came to the formulation of the policy --

Q Yes, I realize that, Scott. But wouldn't it be politically appropriate to at least indicate what advice, if any, Mr. Lay had given, given that --

No Gaggle Obsession would be complete without the Les Kinsolving question of the day (with a follow-up). Pull your head out and breath, Les, you're going to suffocate up there.

Q Scott, the RNC research has just quoted Senator Edwards on MSNBC as saying, "I think it's an enormous mistake to fly the Confederate flag. It ought to be taken down" -- which would ban the state flag of Mississippi and require removal of thousands of Confederate war memorials in front of courthouses all over the South. And my first question: Does the President believe that this should be done, or that Senator Edwards is wrong?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look, Les, this is a campaign season. Certainly the records --

Q Does the President think --

MR. McCLELLAN: The records of the candidates are something that are perfectly legitimate to discuss. Their public statements are something that are perfectly legitimate to discuss. And changing positions are certainly things that are discussed during a campaign that voters look at, as well. There are clear choices in this election. This election is between the Senator from Massachusetts and the President of the United States, and their visions for the future. There are clear differences, there are clear philosophical differences. And we will continue to talk about those differences, and the President looks forward to a spirited discussion of the issues. And that's what he will continue to do.

As far as responding to past comments the candidates have made, I mean, those candidates need to explain themselves.

Q Does the President -- Senator Kerry has just announced that he believes that life begins at the instant of conception, just as he has expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage. And my question: Does the President believe that Senator Kerry's so often voting against his expressed convictions is a credibility gap similar to the contrast between those awful things Kerry said about Senator Edwards during the primary campaign and what he's saying now?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think this issue has been discussed between the campaigns. It's been discussed. There are clear differences --

Q Yes, but your opinion --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that it's not the first time we've heard the Senator from Massachusetts say one thing one day and another thing the next.

Q Good. Good. Thank you.

Crisco John Knows What You Are Reading

Once again, the Thug leadership in the House holds the vote open - and they still can't get a majority to support the Patriot Act:

The Republican-led House bowed to a White House veto threat Thursday and stood by the USA Patriot Act, defeating an effort to block the part of the anti-terrorism law that helps the government investigate people's reading habits.

The effort to defy Bush and bridle the law's powers lost by 210-210, with a majority needed to prevail. The amendment appeared on its way to victory as the roll call's normal 15-minute time limit expired, but Republican leaders kept the vote open for about 20 more minutes as they persuaded about 10 Republicans who initially supported the provision to change their votes.


Friends in High Places

My fellow Austinite Robert Bryce, author of Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron and his latest effort Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas -- America's Superstate, provides a handy list of administration officials and hangers-on with ties to Enron:

Tom White, former secretary of the Army, was at Enron Energy Services, a company that was little more than a sham from the get go.

Ed Gillespie, current head of the Republican National Committee, was an Enron lobbyist.

Marc Racicot, former head of the RNC, was an Enron lobbyist.

Robert Zoellick, current US Trade Representative, worked for Enron as an adviser.

James Baker III, former secretary of state -- and the man who was crucial to Bush's win in Florida -- was an Enron lobbyist.

Prick gets Pricked

monica_nyc alerted me to Kos' post of a photo showing Bush storming out of a press breifing after someone dared to ask a question about Kennyboy.


Do I smell Chimp burning?

UPDATE: The smoking gun has a nice collection of Bush/Lay correspondence, including Bush's personal birthday greeting to his "old friend" Ken in 1997.

Well, We'll Always Have The Rape Rooms

Another reason for invading Iraq is in peril:

Evidence offered by a top CIA (news - web sites) man could confirm the testimony given by Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) at the opening of his trial in Baghdad Thursday that he knew of the Halabja massacre only from the newspapers.

Thousands were reported killed in the gassing of Iraqi Kurds in Halabja in the north of Iraq (news - web sites) in March 1988 towards the end of Iraq's eight-year war with Iran. The gassing of the Kurds has long been held to be the work of Ali Hassan al-Majid, named in the West because of that association as 'Chemical Ali'. Saddam Hussein is widely alleged to have ordered Ali to carry out the chemical attack.


A report prepared by the top CIA official handling the matter says Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the massacre, and indicates that it was the work of Iranians. Further, the Scott inquiry on the role of the British government has gathered evidence that following the massacre the United States in fact armed Saddam Hussein to counter the Iranians chemicals for chemicals.


The agency did find that each side used gas against the other in the battle around Halabja, he said. "The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies, however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent -- that is, a cyanide-based gas -- which Iran was known to use. "The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time."


[CIA officer Stephen C.] Pelletiere wrote that Saddam Hussein has much to answer for in the area of human rights abuses. "But accusing him of gassing his own people at Halabja as an act of genocide is not correct, because as far as the information we have goes, all of the cases where gas was used involved battles. These were tragedies of war. There may be justifications for invading Iraq, but Halabja is not one of them."

Props to Mike Dare.

Sometimes All You Need To Read is the Headline

Ridge Says Terror Threat Is Increasing but No Details Yet

And of course the Terror Alert Level is to remain unchanged:

I Can't Wait to Hear What Cheney Has to Say to Him

Alfonse M. D'Amato, the once-influential Republican senator from New York, says that President Bush should drop Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. D'Amato, famous for his blunt candor and shrewd political skills, has suggested twice in the past two days that Mr. Bush could replace Mr. Cheney with one of two big-name Republicans who he said could ensure Mr. Bush's re-election: Secretary of State Colin L. Powell or Senator John McCain of Arizona.

"As an observer of politics, I believe the president can guarantee his essential re-election by looking to several other notable individuals who would add a great dimension to his ticket as a running mate," Mr. D'Amato said.


Thanks to Marc Sobel for the alert.


Makes me laugh.

George Hoover Walker Bush

Just what is up with Chimpy's fascination with Herbert Hoover? We all know he will be the first president since Hoover to leave the country with fewer jobs than we had at the beginning of his term, now he's decided he wants to be the first president since Hoover to refuse to attend an NAACP convention during his term.

President Bush declined an invitation to speak at the NAACP's annual convention, the group said.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People expects more than 8,000 people to attend the convention, which opens on Saturday.

UPDATE: His expression in this photo speaks volumes.

Dang: Looks like Kevin was struck by the same idea before I was. You know, I used to read CalPundit daily, but I keep forgetting Political Animal exists. Must be a mental block.

Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day, Barbara?

Barbara Ehrenreich is subbing for Tom Frieman on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times. Today she provides us with a well-written response to Bill Cosby's recent rants.

It was such a dog-bites-man story that I almost skipped right by: Billionaire Bashes Poor Blacks. The only thing that gave this particular story a little piquancy is that the billionaire doing the bashing is black himself. Bill Cosby has been attacking the poor of his race, and especially the youthful poor, for a range of sins, including using bad words, "stealing poundcake," "giggling" and failing to give their children normal names like "Bill." "The lower-economic people," Cosby announced, "are not holding up their end in this deal."


[I]f he's looking for tantrum fodder, what about the fact that a black baby has a 40 percent chance of being born into poverty? You can blame adults for their poverty — if you're mean-spirited enough — but you cannot blame babies, and that's, in effect, what we're talking about here.

Brownshirts Only Beyond This Point

A worker with the Federal Emergency Management Agency who wore an anti-Bush T-shirt at the president’s July Fourth rally in Charleston has been sent home to Texas.

Nicole Rank, who was working for FEMA in West Virginia, and her husband, Jeff, were removed from the Capitol grounds in handcuffs shortly before Bush’s speech. The pair wore T-shirts with the message “Love America, Hate Bush.”

The Ranks were ticketed for trespassing and released. They have been given summonses to appear in court, Charleston Police Lt. C.A. Vincent said Wednesday.


Dozens of people who attended Sunday’s event wore pro-Bush T-shirts and Bush-Cheney campaign buttons, some of which were sold on the Capitol grounds outside the security screening stations.

Link courtesy of Sharky Laguana.

Bush's Carnage Continues

Four US soldiers are killed and twenty are injured in a mortar attack in Samarra, bringing Bush's body count to 878 of our men and women and 998 for the coalition as a whole.

Our Marines have been paying a particularly heavy price in Western Iraq recently, but the national media is focused elsewhere.

Sure, various administration officials predicted that the violence in Iraq would increase during the transition to "sovreignty", but that in no way justifies turning a blind eye to the sacrifices our brothers and sisters have offered to the altar of Bush's father issues and the Neo-con's pipe dreams.

Trouble in repub paradise

According to this article in The Hill, conservative republicans are whining because they're not being given the coveted prime-time speaking slots at September's convention. Instead, those who have more moderate views on abortion and gay rights and represent the "best and the brightest" of the party are being tapped, including our favorite movie star governor in a starring role. Other speakers will be McCain, Giuliani, and Pataki.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) told The Hill: “The convention is using
people that run the State Department because they are accustomed to
the concept that they must not rock any boats, so that everything runs
smoothly. The people who reflect the majority of the party should certainly
be given a chance to present their positions.”

Unfortunately for Tancredo, the choice of speakers says more about the actual size of the conservative movement than anything else, doesn't it? Polls consistently show that Americans do not think the country is headed in the right direction. Of course, we know that Bush appeared more moderate when he ran in 2000, and look what he's done since. Is this appeal to the center going to work? Are the repubs saying one thing only to move farther to the right if elected? Again?

New Jobless Thursday

NTodd leads us to the New Jobless numbers, with 39k fewer Lucky Duckies this week than last.

First-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits plunged to 310,000 in the week ended July 3, down from a revised 349,000 the prior week, the Labor Department (news - web sites) said.

It was the lowest level since 302,000 in the week ended October 8, 2000.


"On the surface it looks like a good report but I would take that with a grain of salt because of this disentanglement with the seasonal adjustment factors," said Rick Egelton, deputy chief economist of BMO Financial Group in Toronto.

July Surprise

Josh Marshall leads us to The New Republic's expose of the administration's search for bin Laden in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Bushco desperately seeks to use the announcement of the capture of a "high-value target" to knock the Democratic Convention out of the headlines during the last week of this month.

And, no doubt, such a development would indeed eclipse convention coverage. But if the July Surprise is seen by the public for what it truly is, a cynical ploy to manipulate our national security subservient to the political aspirations of George Bush, will it backfire on them?

What Do You Call This?

I call it a good start.

Smut-Peddling Patriot

Today Salon includes an interview of Larry Flynt, who is releasing his new book Sex, Lies & Politics: The Naked Truth (you will have to click through a series of ads for Powell's Books to read it). This is, of course, the book that claims George W. Bush secured an abortion for a maid he impregnated in the 1970s.

I can certainly understand the mixed feelings on the left regarding Mr. Flynt, the objectification of women for profit is distasteful, to put it mildly. And I imagine any attack on Bush by Larry Flynt will shore up support for the preznit among the fundies. However, the man has guts and I find myself nodding in agreement with him more often than not. He also shares my view of Ann Coulter:

You mention Ann Coulter several times in your book. Did she really have an affair with Bob Guccione?

Bob Guccione Jr., who was the publisher of Spin magazine. And she was dating him. I find it hard to believe that any man could screw Ann Coulter, but they were having an affair.

Movement on Guantanamo

Finally, a baby-step towards justice:

The Pentagon announced last night it will quickly hold hearings for all 595 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison as it scrambles to respond to the Supreme Court ruling last week that the government was jailing terrorism suspects without due process.


The new hearings -- to be called Combatant Status Review Tribunals -- are separate from the hearings in federal court that the Supreme Court ruled the government must offer to all the inmates to contest their detentions. But administration officials and experts on military law said the new tribunals are designed to buttress the government's case -- that it has been deliberative in its detention decisions and afforded due process -- when it confronts defense attorneys in the federal court hearings.

"The administration is trying to make the best of a bad situation," said Eugene R. Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice. "It's an effort to play catch-up ball, and to blunt the possible impact of the habeas corpus review."

Even Tony Blair is criticizing Bush's gulag, but don't look for the administration to do anything over and above the minimum requirements of the court.

11 Dead After Bush Crashes in Afghanistan

That's the actual headline for this AP story on the New York Times web site this morning, folks. The story is actually about a bus accident.

When I read it my heart jumped, which surprised me a bit. I may be a Bush hater, but I suppose in my heart I don't want to see him dead.

Now, prison is another issue entirely.

If You Still Worked Here, You'd Be Fired

Gov't confirms thug tactics on Medicare:

"An internal investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services confirms that the top Medicare official threatened to fire the program's chief actuary if he told Congress that drug benefits would probably cost much more than the White House acknowledged.

But neither the threat nor the withholding of information violated any criminal law, the report said. It accepted the Justice Department's view that Mr. Scully had "the final authority to determine the flow of information to Congress.'' Moreover, it said, the actuary "had no authority to disclose information independently to Congress.'"

Mr. Scully, we learn from this story, has excellent timing:

"Mr. Scully, who resigned in December, in part to become a lobbyist for health care companies, had denied threatening Mr. Foster but had acknowledged having told him to withhold the information from Congress.

The report said that if Mr. Scully still worked for the government, he might be subject to disciplinary action for possible violation of the department's standards of ethical conduct.

In recent weeks, Mr. Scully has registered as a lobbyist for major drug companies, including Abbott Laboratories and Aventis; for Caremark Rx, a pharmacy benefit manager; and for the American Chiropractic Association and the American College of Gastroenterology, among other clients. All are affected by the new Medicare law, which Mr. Scully helped write."

Thanks to reader 1soni.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Open thread.

Take it away, you night owls.

Kenny, how do you look in stripes?

More from WSJ:

The indictment is likely to include a raft of charges, especially in the wake of instructions issued last week by Deputy Attorney General James Comey urging prosecutors to obtain indictments that include various factors that could be used to boost a defendant's sentence. Traditionally, these factors, such as the size of losses suffered by investors in alleged white-collar-crime cases, have been considered by judges at the time of sentencing. However, a recent Supreme Court ruling involving state sentencing guidelines stated that judges can't act alone to increase prison sentences based on facts that juries never consider or that defendants don't plead to. Judges say this could affect the federal system as well. In accordance with Mr. Comey's directive, prosecutors are now instructed to include several factors to a jury and include them in an indictment.

The Securities and Exchange Commission also is expected to file civil charges against Mr. Lay, accusing him of various securities law violations, including financial fraud and insider-trading stemming from stock-related transactions he engaged in months before Enron's bankruptcy filing. In past indictments against Enron executives, the SEC has also filed separate civil charges.

The indictments signal that Mr. Lay's rags-to-riches story, which transported him from a small Missouri town to the company of presidents and princes, may culminate in a federal prison sentence. That certainly never seemed like a possibility during the go-go 1990s, when Mr. Lay was a leading spokesman for a heady era in U.S. business. Enron embodied the drive by America business interests to deregulate vast swaths of the marketplace, and the company profited greatly from the loosening of rules in such areas as natural gas and electricity marketing.

Under the leadership of Mr. Lay and his principal protege, Mr. Skilling, Enron transformed itself from a relatively stodgy natural-gas pipeline company into a global trader that dealt in everything from megawatts of power to space on the information superhighway. The company became a Wall Street darling and saw its stock price zoom. It reported revenue of more than $100 billion in 2000.

But Enron came unglued in late 2001 amid rising investor concerns over its use of off-balance-sheet entities, some of them run and partly owned by company executives, to hide losses and debt. Enron's collapse produced a raft of private lawsuits and government investigations. Mr. Lay became a symbol for all that was suddenly perceived to have been wrong with the very era he had helped construct. His wealthy lifestyle -- including corporate jets, a luxury condominium in Houston and homes in Aspen -- helped make him a lightning rod for critics of corporate greed and corner-cutting.

The earth beneath the feet of some people must be very unstable right about now.

Civil disobedience

by a rogue group

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A caravan of vehicles carrying 100 tons of goods crossed into Mexico from Texas on Wednesday bound for Cuba in a show of civil disobedience toward the U.S. embargo of the communist-run island.

george, do something!

Patriot Act, Iraqi style.

The more things change...

"The lives of the Iraqi people are in danger, they are in danger from evil forces, from gangs of terrorists," said Human Rights Minister Bakhtiyar Amin.

Iraqi officials introducing the new law said people should be protected in the current climate of violence.
Mr Amin described the law as being similar to the controversial US anti-terror Patriot Act.

It looks like Allawi has been granted sweeping powers. (This is a new development for the population?)

On the Uses of Trial Attorneys

ACLU sues for gay marriage


"Every step forward on the long, rocky, and sometimes bloody road to freedom has been accomplished because some courageous lawyer stood before a courageous judge and demanded justice. And when a new injustice is seen or occurs, a new demand is sounded and slowly – sometimes ever so slowly – the wrong is righted." -- William J. Bauer

Paid Trolls

I haven't thought they've really existed recently, but they did exist in '00 (not on this blog, which didn't exist, but elsewhere) and judging from the kinds of things I see in comments I think they're cranking up their fire...

something to keep in mind.

Alterman on Moore


The fact is that while Moore makes a few contentions that are arguable, most of them adhere pretty closely to the known facts. This is not the case of the Bush argument for war -the media by and large reporting those phony contentions with credulous admiration. I’m willing to bet that I could find more lies, phony statements and false accusations in just about any single episode of “Meet the Press,” “This Week” or “Face the Nation” devoted to Iraq and the war on terror than can be found in Moore’s entire film. I could probably find more in any single five minute segment of an O’Reilly, Hannity or Scarborough show. Why are the media so furious at Moore? Because he is doing their job for them and taking away their narrative. If they did it better, he wouldn’t have to. Perhaps those reporters attacking Moore should be good enough to publish some of their own comments on the war alongside it.

That's about right. Whatever one thinks of the absolutely most "dubious" bits of Moore's movie, in the context of the typical Sunday morning bloviator they're relatively harmless.

British Inquiry Supports One Claim, Debunks Another

A UK government inquiry into the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq is expected to conclude that Britain's spies were correct to say that Saddam Hussein's regime sought to buy uranium from Niger.

The inquiry by Lord Butler, which was delivered to the printers on Wednesday and is expected to be released on July 14, has examined the intelligence that underpinned the UK government's claims about the threat from Iraq.

The report will say the claim that Mr Hussein could deploy chemical weapons within 45 minutes, seized on by UK prime minister Tony Blair to bolster the case for war with Iraq, was inadequately supported by the available intelligence, people familiar with its contents say .

But among Lord Butler's other areas of investigation was the issue of whether Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger. People with knowledge of the report said Lord Butler has concluded that this claim was reasonable and consistent with the intelligence.


At this stage in the game, after so many lies have been proven false, I need more than Lord Butler's assurance that there was intelligence apart from the forged Niger letters to back up the uranium claim.

Release the intelligence and let the world decide.

Kennyboy To Do the Perp Walk

It's About Time

Former Enron Corp. chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay has been indicted on criminal charges related to the energy company's collapse as a web of accounting schemes unraveled, sources close to the case told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Lay, the company's founder, was expected to surrender to federal authorities Thursday, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Two sources said the indictment against Lay, 62, was expected to be unsealed upon or shortly after his surrender to the FBI.

Lest we forget.

Working on that resume yet?

White House Counsel Al Gonzales on Ask the White House

White House Counsel Judge Al Gonzales is participating in an event with the President in Michigan. He will be back for the online discussion at approximately 5:15pm (ET).
Submit your questions now.

This is America, you can ask him any question you wish.

An interesting sidenote: earlier today the White House web site stated that Gonzales would be on Ask the White House at 3:30 PM. Now it says he had to go to Michigan to participate in an event with the preznit.

It leaves one to wonder what this event is and why Gonzales' participation in it was not planned in advance.

Lawyer Pols

I've been looking for historical comparisons to confirm the long intertwining of the legal and political professions. Here's some eye-opening stats.

The U.S. Congress has long been dominated by lawyer-politicians. Friedman notes that, "From 1780 to 1930, two thirds of the senators and about half of the House of Representatives were lawyers; the percentage seems to have stayed fairly stable" At the beginning of the 102nd Congress in January, 1991, 244 of the 535 members of both houses (46%) claimed attorney as their profession.

Background info.

Was It All a Dream?

I can't believe we're going to have to go through all of this crap in Florida again. Hell, it's worse this time with electronic voting thrown into the mix. At least the forces of goodness and light are being proactive.

Voting rights groups sued Florida election administrators on Wednesday to overturn a rule that prohibits manual recounting of ballots cast with touch-screen machines, a lawsuit with echoes of the state's disputed 2000 presidential election voting.

The lawsuit said the rule was ``illogical'' and rested on the questionable assumption that electronic voting machines perform flawlessly 100 percent of the time. It also said the rule violated a Florida law that expressly requires manual recounts of certain ballots if the margin in an election is less than 0.25 percent of the votes cast.

Win an Argument with Your Freeper Friends

skippy leads us to a verbatim transcript of Fahrenheit 9/11 posted at In Java, Literally...

Which skippy found in Saugatoga's Daily Kos Diary.

Just call me the blog pimp.

Russia Seizes Yukos

If you read my post on Yukos yesterday, then you know I'm no Brad DeLong or Paul Krugman. But the latest development in the Yukos saga is bound to affect our economy, don't you think?

The Russian government moved Wednesday to begin seizing assets of Yukos Oil Co. in the culmination of a politically charged tax battle that could either bankrupt or break up the country's largest oil producer.

Court marshals accompanied by special police forces raided the company's registry office in Moscow at the end of the business day to search for ownership documents for various Yukos properties. The marshals were enforcing last week's court judgment giving Yukos a Wednesday deadline to pay a $3.4 billion back tax bill.


The situation endangers a company that pumps more oil than Libya and accounts for one-fifth of foreign petroleum sales by Russia, the world's second-largest oil exporter. The latest figures published by brokerage houses Monday showed that Yukos produces 1.7 million barrels a day, surpassing its own records and every other Russian oil company.


The case drew international criticism this week for the politicization of Russian business and courts. "The so-called 'Yukos case' reflects these problems," the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said in its annual report on Russia, released Wednesday. "Whether the charges against the company and its core shareholders are true or not, it is clearly a case of highly selective law enforcement."

A senior U.S. diplomat said Tuesday that the case is "raising fundamental questions in the minds of many investors." There are "increasing signs that destruction of the company is the intended endpoint," he said. "At a minimum," he added, it's "an extraordinary game of brinkmanship" akin to a game of chicken with two cars racing toward a cliff and "they're getting very close."

In his analysis, the diplomat said, it appears likely that a "sizeable percentage of the company's assets [will] move into the hands of the state."

Will government seizure of a multi-billion dollar tax cheat ensure that Yukos' 1.7 million barrels continue to flow into our Hummers? Is this a naked power grab by Putin? How will our government respond? I have many questions, but few answers.

A Posting Post

As you can probably tell, I'm having a ball guest-blogging this week. I feel I have to ask you to be patient with me if I shotgun the blog. My personal situation is such that I have blocks of time during the day when I can post often, then other long periods when I can't come near a computer.

So if you see a bunch of posts fly up all at once, you now know the reason.

Finally, pie, Athenae, and Tena - no one wants to read your posts more than I.

From the Mouths of Preznits...

Bush in North Carolina, today:

Q Mr. President, does this John Edwards selection force you to spend more time in the South, and change your strategy in the southern states now?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to carry the South because the people understand that they share -- we share values that they understand. They know me well. And I am -- I believe that I did well in the South last time, I'll do well in the South this time, because the Senator from Massachusetts doesn't share their values, and that's the difference in the campaign.


Q Will you have to spend more time, strategy-wise?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, talk to -- talk to the schedulers. I'm not the scheduler, I'm just a simple candidate. (Laughter.)

The Bug-man Lawyers Up

From Roll Call:

Facing legal challenges in Washington and Austin, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) has retained lawyers to defend him in both a Congressional ethics probe and an ongoing investigation into Texas’ 2002 legislative races.

Tip o' the bloggy hat to Brian Zick.

UPDATE: LJ kindly provides the complete Roll Call story, via

Suffer the Children

Sadly, No! is all over the story of the abuse Iraqi children in our Iraqi prisons.

Unfortunately, our media is not interested.

The Experience Issue

By now you are probably as sick as I am of hearing Republicans complain that Senator John Edwards lacks the experience necessary to be the Vice President of the United States (including Bloated Pill-Popper's rib-tickling claim that John Edwards is "Dan Quayle without the gravitas").

Count on E. J. Dionne to provide the anecdotal antidote:

When you hear Republicans disparage Sen. John Edwards's lack of experience, remember the words of Sen. Orrin Hatch, spoken to George W. Bush at a debate on Dec. 6, 1999.

"You've been a great governor," Hatch declared of his rival for the Republican presidential nomination. "My only problem with you, governor, is that you've only had four and going into your fifth year of governorship. . . . Frankly, I really believe that you need more experience before you become president of the United States. That's why I'm thinking of you as a vice presidential candidate."

Update: Rude Pundit provides an historic perspective.

Lie, Spin, Repeat

This story about the September 11th Commission's latest rebuke of Dick Cheney was buried on page eight of my local paper. And rightfully so, the fact that our Vice President is incapable of telling the truth about Iraq and al Qaeda is no longer news.

The leaders of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks on Tuesday disputed Vice President Dick Cheney's suggestion that he probably had access to more intelligence than the commission did about possible ties between the Qaeda terrorist network and Iraq.

In a one-sentence statement, the panel's chairman and vice chairman said that "after examining available transcripts of the vice president's public remarks, the 9/11 commission believes it has access to the same information the vice president has seen regarding contacts between Al Qaeda and Iraq prior to the 9/11 attacks."

Now watch Cheney mouthpiece Kevin Kellems spin this slap from the commish into a pat on the back for Dick:

The commission chairman, Thomas H. Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, and the vice chairman, Lee H. Hamilton, a former Democratic House member from Indiana, then called on Mr. Cheney to turn over any reports that would support the White House's insistence of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

A spokesman for Mr. Cheney, Kevin Kellems, said on Tuesday that the White House welcomed the statement, calling it proof that the White House had fully cooperated in providing the panel all available intelligence relevant to its work.

"We are pleased with today's statement from the 9/11 commission, which puts to rest a nonstory," he said. "As we have said all along, the administration provided the commission with unprecedented access to sensitive information so they could perform their mission. The vice president criticized some press coverage of the draft staff report. He did not criticize the commission's work."

Department of That Didn't Take Long

Sigh. Here we go.

WASHINGTON, July 6 — In John Edwards, Senator John Kerry selected a running mate who embodies the very attributes that some Democrats worry that Mr. Kerry lacks: a vigorous campaign presence, an engaging personal manner and a crisp message that stirred Democrats from Iowa to New Hampshire.

In the catalogue of journalistic sins this campaign season, this analysis isn't that bad, I know, but it just burns me up to see even the somewhat flattering stories about Edwards used as subtle digs at Kerry.

John Kerry connected with voters and stirred Democrats just fine in Iowa and New Hampshire, as I recall, seeing as he got more votes in those states than any other Democratic candidate. How hard is this?

Oh, and "trial lawyer?" Appears three times. If this were a drinking game, I'd be hammered already.

Beastie Boys

I'm from the Classic Rock generation, and I never cared much for rap. But my wife bought me the new Beastie Boys cd, To The Five Boroughs, for my birthday last week and I'm completely blown away.

I'm not the only one. The cd reached #1 in both Billboard's Top 100 Album and Top 100 Rap/Hip-Hop Album Charts last week (it currently resides at #3 on both charts) and it is now #8 on the Top Pop Album chart and #3 in Internet Sales.

What captivates me about the Boys' latest effort is not just the butt-driving rhythms and their unstoppable sense of humor, but also their politics (which is why I mention it here).

Here's a sampling of some lyrics:

From Right Right Now Now

Columbine bowling,
childhood stolen,
we need a little more gun controlling...

I'm getting kind of tired
of the situation,
The U. S. attacking other nations,
and narration,
on every station.
False elations
got me losing my patience.

From Time to Build

Stop building SUVs strung out on OPEC.

We got a president we didn't elect (but he does look hot in a flight suit).
The Kyoto Treaty he decided to neglect,
and still the U. S. just wants to flex.

So step up to the window and place your bets.
Is the U. S. gonna keep breaking necks?
Maybe it's time that we impeach Tex
and the military muscle that he wants to flex.
By the time Bush is done, what will be left?
Selling votes like E-pills at the discotheque.
Environmental destruction and the national debt.
But plenty of dollars left in the fat war chest.

From Who Got The

Never again should we use the A-bomb.
We need an international ban on.
All W. O. M. D.s gone.
We need a multilateral disarm.

This is the music your kids are listening too, it's a good thing.

Trial Lawyer

Medium John a "Trial Lawyer?" Bring it on, Republican beatches. This is the kind of trial lawyer John Edwards was:

The defining case in Edwards' legal career wrapped up that same year. In 1993, a five-year-old girl named Valerie Lakey had been playing in a Wake County, N.C., wading pool when she became caught in an uncovered drain so forcefully that the suction pulled out most of her intestines. She survived but for the rest of her life will need to be hooked up to feeding tubes for 12 hours each night. Edwards filed suit on the Lakeys' behalf against Sta-Rite Industries, the Wisconsin corporation that manufactured the drain. Attorneys describe his handling of the case as a virtuoso example of a trial layer bringing a negligent corporation to heel. Sta-Rite offered the Lakeys $100,000 to settle the case. Edwards passed. Before trial, he discovered that 12 other children had suffered similar injuries from Sta-Rite drains. The company raised its offer to $1.25 million. Two weeks into the trial, they upped the figure to $8.5 million. Edwards declined the offer and asked for their insurance policy limit of $22.5 million. The day before the trial resumed from Christmas break, Sta-Rite countered with $17.5 million. Again, Edwards said no. On January 10, 1997, lawyers from across the state packed the courtroom to hear Edwards' closing argument, "the most impressive legal performance I have ever seen," recalls Dayton. Three days later, the jury found Sta-Rite guilty and liable for $25 million in economic damages (by state law, punitive damages could have tripled that amount). The company immediately settled for $25 million, the largest verdict in state history. For their part, Edwards and Kirby earned the Association of Trial Lawyers of America's national award for public service.

(link, which I've been trying to find for the past couple of days, thanks to Slacktivist).

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Evening's Googlebomb Fun

From reading the AP and NYT's political coverage, I've come to understand John Kerry has a little coin to his name. That unlike our plainspoken, plastic-turkey-eating preznit, he windsurfs. And talks about policy. With a servant. Or something.

I suggest we all take a look a candidate for president who is, in fact, very, very wealthy.

Pass it on.

What we got on our hands is a dead shark.

rorschach manages to squeeze Grover Norquist, Bill Clinton, David Corn, Marhsall McLuhan and Woody Allen into one post while revealing a bit of the Big Dog's thinking on Iraq.

Ba-da-bing, Ba-da-Bush-boom

I have not been paying much attention to the travails of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia's richest man who is currently in jail charged with numerous financial crimes. But today I've been learning more about his company, Yukos. Not only is Yukos the second largest oil producer in Russia,

Yukos alone accounts for 4% of Russia's economy. With daily output of 1.7 million barrels, it supplies nearly as much as OPEC has promised in extra output to cool red-hot world oil prices.

The firm says a looming $3.4bn back tax bill confirmed in court last week could force it to go bust. Since then, tax ministry bailiffs have frozen its bank accounts and delivered a demand for a further $3.4bn for 2001.

Yukos' worried foreign bankers then weighed in with a bankruptcy order to recoup loans of $1bn.

Yukos's chairman last week painted a doomsday scenario, warning that it may have to halt production.


I would not begin to speculate on what might happen to the world economy if Yukos were to declare bankruptcy. But if they halt production as their unnamed chairman warns they might Bush will cry during his next photo-op.

OK, I will speculate a bit: a Yukos bankruptcy will further weaken our imperiled pension system. How many retirement funds in this country do you imagine might have been invested in a petroleum producer that accounts for 4% of the Russian economy?

Update: NTodd provides the background.

Risen vs. Risen

Big Media Matt has the details.

Open Thread

Blogger is being difficult; chat until it can shape up.

Mike's Blog

Michael Moore is now a blogger. Check him out.

Next thing you know some gaggle-obsessed, fictional teenage stalker will have a blog.

Today on Holden's Obsession with the Gaggle

Little Scottie declines the opportunity to predict a victory for the Lush/Chestpainey ticket:

Q Scott, one last thing, in all of your pronouncements about the campaign and the way it's shaping up, implicit has been the suggestion that President Bush and Vice President Cheney will win the campaign. A, are you willing to make that explicit? Do you say that they will win?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's a decision that the American people will make. The President believes he has articulated a clear vision for the country going forward and has a solid record of accomplishment on the most important priorities that we face, from winning the war on terrorism to strengthening our economy. And the American people will make that decision in November. The President is proud of his record and believes he has a clear vision for the direction this country should head. And that stands in stark contrast to the ticket that we are running against.

Eating Their Own

It was Leahy's objection to being smeared as "anti-Catholic" that prompted Cheney to sully the Senate floor last week. Now "moderate" Thugs are feeling the heat.

From The Hill:

Nearly a year after conservative critics accused Senate Democrats of anti-Catholic bias because of their opposition to federal circuit-court nominee William Pryor, many are leveling the same charge against a handful of Senate Republicans because of their suspected opposition to J. Leon Holmes, a district court nominee.

Two of the primary targets of the charges are Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who is in line to take over as chairman of the Judiciary Committee next January, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, (R-Texas), the most senior and influential woman in the Republican conference.


In the article on gender roles for the Arkansas Catholic Register, Holmes wrote, “The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church/and as the Church subordinates herself to Christ, in that manner the wife is to subordinate herself to Christ.”

The conservative Family Research Council asserted in a statement that “incredibly, there are senators, including some Republicans, who have indicated they will not support Mr. Holmes because of an article he and his wife wrote for the local Catholic newspaper offering reflections on Ephesians 5.”

“It would be a great act of injustice if the religious bigotry leveled against Mr. Holmes should keep him from confirmation,” the group warned.


Richard Lessner, executive director of the American Conservative Union, said, “The attack on James Leon Holmes has unmasked an ugly anti-Catholic bigotry. Senators should unequivocally reject this intolerant hatred spewing from the extreme left.”

More Than One Dick in the GOP

Sheesh. I thought Richard Riordan was supposed to be a moderate Thug. This exchange is said to have been caught on tape by a local teevee station in Santa Barbara:

In a videotaped exchange at the city's central library on Thursday, a girl asked [California State Education Secretary Richard] Riordan if he knew that her name meant "Egyptian goddess."

Riordan, who apparently believed he'd been asked what her name meant, replied, "It means stupid dirty girl."

Fahrenheit 9/11

I hate to see a movie the weekend it opens, can't stand the crowds. With the holdiay weekend and all I did not get around to it until last night. So, my commentary comes a bit late and the only tidbit I can add to the discussion that has preceded me is...


Meanwhile, over in Burkaville

"Fahrenheit 9/11" Not Even About Temperature, Say Republicans

Conservatives across the country are complaining vehemently about what they called "the countless and innumerable inaccuracies" of Michael Moore's documentary and polemic film, "Fahrenheit 9/11."

"For one thing, the title is intensely misleading," said Spartelby Fisk, a Republican gnome. "It has nothing to do with heat. It's a crock."

They Might Be Giants


The Poodle Barks

Britain's Tony Blair admitted on Tuesday that biological and chemical weapons, which he once insisted Saddam Hussein had primed for use, may never be found.


"We know Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction but we know we haven't found them," Blair said. "I have to accept we have not found them, that we may not find them."

The Two Johns

Oh, wait, wrong photo...

Another Foreign Leader for Kerry

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is scheduled to visits your preznit in two weeks:
[Note: I changed the link to a subscription-free source.]

"[T]he United Nations was effectively sidelined in March 2003, when the United States and its coalition partners decided to unilaterally invade and occupy Iraq," he said.

"This episode shattered the confidence of the world's people in the inviolability of national sovereignty."

Abdullah said the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States showed that groups and individuals could gain destructive capabilities previously restricted to governments, and described the empowerment of terrorists through modern technology and communications as "without doubt an unanticipated byproduct of globalisation".

"The experiences since September 11 brought to the fore another realisation, and that is the inadequacy of military action alone as a means of destroying the terrorist networks," Abdullah said.

"The fight against terrorism is also a battle for the minds of the perpetrators," he said. "Terrorism will not disappear if the methods used to hunt down terrorists lead to the breeding of new recruits."

Note that Prime Minister Badawi recently succeeded longtime Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, an incendiary critic of the West and Jews.