RIP:  One of the great fighting voices of the liberal blogosphere, Steve Gilliard, has died. Only 41 years old. If anyone would like to give money to help Steve's family out, there's now a paypal link up. RIP: Senator Craig Thomas, the three-term Republican senator from Wyoming has died:

Wyoming Sen. Craig Thomas, a three-term conservative Republican who stayed clear of the Washington limelight and political catfights, died Monday. He was 74. The senator's family issued a statement saying he died Monday evening at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He had been receiving chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal will appoint his successor after the state Republican party submits three names for consideration. Condolences to Senator Thomas' family, friends and colleagues.

New national poll: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in dead heat. That and other political news of the day in today's Election Central Morning Roundup.

On Monday night's "Countdown" Keith Olbermann updates his disturbing timeline of how the Bush Administration has strategically used terrorism and fear to counter bad publicity, starting in 2002 all the way up to the most recent terrorist plot to blow up JFK airport. This is a long segment so we've broken it down into two files. This is stunning, and dramatic analysis, make sure to watch both parts.

Part one: video_wmv Download (5009) | Play (4700)  video_mov Download (2495) | Play (3279)

Part two: video_wmv Download (4212) | Play (3296)  video_mov Download (1205) | Play (1375)

…from the mind-bending idea that four guys dressed as Pizza Delivery men were going to out-gun all the soldiers at Fort Dix…to the not-too-thought-out plan to blow-up J-F-K Airport… here we go again. Time for an update of our segment "The Nexus of Politics and Terror".

“Looneyism” vs. Journalism Defining Threats  AttyTood:

Look, what really happened at JFK was a hijacking. A chance for the potential next leaders of the United States to talk about a) real threats from bona fide terrorists, such as the unstable situation we've fostered in Pakistan and b) other issues that actually affect the day-to-day life of most Americans, like education, was hijacked by questions based around a local law-enforcement matter.

And, as Josh Marshall and others pointed out over the weekend, this is yet another time that implausible, half-baked and unfeasible plots have been trumpeted as high victories in the war in terror, including one plan to take down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch, the plot to "blow up the Sears Tower" by losers in Miami who probably couldn't find Chicago on a big roadmap, and our own inept Fort Dix crew.

Not that it will happen, but I wish the media, from CNN to Fox to the AP to everyone in between, would go to the nearest window and yell: "All 'terrorism' is not created equal."

A closer look at Ron Paul (GOP candidate for prez)  Orcinus looks at the darling of the debates and reminds us all that the enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend, especially when it comes to racism.  Off the Kuff has more here and here

"Don’t go sell it on eBay." 

  -- Bush to Elaine Johnson, whose son 

      was killed in Iraq, after Bush gave her 

     a presidential coin, whatever that is. Link

"He gave six of us a presidential coin, tell us not to tell the rest of the people

  that was there, and then after that he told us don’t go sell it on eBay.

  Now you tell me how insensitive that can be? What kind of caring person is that?''

   -- Elaine Johnson, stunned after seeing Dubya's childish stupidity   Link

How the wingnut mind works (or doesn't)  Paris Hilton headed to the Los Angeles County jail yesterday to begin her 4523-day prison sentence. While there, she will be allowed outside her cell “for an hour each day to shower, watch television in the day room, participate in outdoor recreation or talk on the telephone.”  On Fox News’s morning show Fox and Friends, the hosts noted that Hilton will not be allowed to speak on her cell phone while in jail. Guest host Greg Kelly then commented, “It sounds like Abu Ghraib. C’mon, that’s not cool.”   Being without a cell phone is not like Abu Ghraib. From a New York Times article, 1/12/05:

“He handcuffed me to the door for eight hours and the next day I had a dislocated shoulder and they took me to the hospital,” he said. Specialist Graner watched as another soldier urinated on Mr. Al-Sheikh, the detainee testified, and Specialist Graner made another detainee eat from a toilet. He threatened to rape them and their wives, and made them eat pork and make statements against their Muslim faith, Mr. Al-Sheikh said.

Pure comedy.

Your neocon media at "work" I don't know how many of you saw it (I linked it here), but the Dodd campaign actually timed and charted airtime given the individual candidates during last night's debate.


Scarce at My Left Nutmeg got Wolf's response to the disparity.  Um, Wolf, when you get more airtime than 75% of the candidates, it doesn't look like you tried all that hard.

Another gang that can't shoot straight!   Head of Public Safety for the State of New York tries to spin the JFK pipeline 'plot' in to something that had a chance of actually happening. 

I think we've got a pretty solid entrant in the contest to find the most dimwittedly alarmist report on the JFK pipeline 'plot'. As noted earlier, the whole idea behind the alleged 'plot' -- that the explosion would travel up and down the pipeline -- seems to make no sense.

But according to the AP's Adam Goldman, "such an attack would have crippled America's economy, particularly the airline industry."  Runner-up, CNN online poll asking "Would the destruction of John F. Kennedy International Airport by terrorists have as much emotional impact as 9/11?"  According to this article, Russell Freitas, the plot's ringleader, "sells books on street corners and exports broken air-conditioners to Guyana."

Borrowed torture Amygdala: How did the U.S. come to adopt interrogation techniques copied from the Soviet Union?  And speaking of Russia

Republicans hate religion  Wonder how long it's going to take Amy Sullivan to write about Republicans' problems with people of faith?

Two former aides hired to spearhead religious outreach for presidential candidate John McCain say that they were virtually ignored by the campaign and that McCain's top campaign strategists are intent on winning votes of religious voters without having to develop serious ties to faith communities. The aides, who were fired in early April after roughly three months on the job, said the campaign staff declined to return scores of their phone calls and E-mail messages, denied them access to leaders of the McCain campaign, and pressed them to collect church directories—a controversial tactic—as the centerpiece of a strategy to woo "values" voters.

"In the end, you came away with the strong sense that they had contempt for the faith-based community," says Marlene Elwell, one of those fired staffers. Elwell, a prominent Christian-right activist, was hired by McCain in December 2006 to be national director of his "Americans of Faith" coalition. "The way we were being treated it was as if we had leprosy." ... [T]he other fired staffer, Judy Haynes—a former top Christian Coalition official hired to work under Elwell—had an assessment similar to Elwell's, saying in a separate interview that the campaign exhibited "a contempt for Christians."

It's hard to know who to believe here. On the one hand Elwell and Haynes sound like classic disgruntled insiders. The McCain campaign whispers that they wanted to run an expensive, unrealistic faith outreach program.

But on the other hand, McCain and the Religious Right have bad blood between them, have ever since 2000 when Ralph Reed helped the Bush campaign smear McCain using racial rumors about McCain's own daughter.

And doesn't this sound like something a campaign would do?

Family values Someone asked me the other day if the immigration bill had passed Congress yet. No, it's still with us, and it looks to be sausage-making at its finest. (See here for more details on why this will be bad law.)  For my money, Shankar Vedantam of the Washington Post has the best take so far:

The ambitious immigration overhaul package that Congress is studying has drawn criticism from conservatives who say it offers amnesty to lawbreakers, and from immigration advocates who say it will not do enough to bring millions of people out of the shadows.

But to Douglas Husak and Lawrence Solum, the elephant in the room is that the existing immigration law that underlies the debate has no connection with reality.

Husak and Solum, legal theorists and philosophers, argue that laws on immigration are part of a broad pattern. In recent decades, they say, Congress has passed innumerable laws that no one seriously expects will be enforced. Such laws largely seem to serve symbolic purposes and are often designed to placate some powerful constituency -- conservatives in the case of immigration, or the entertainment industry in the case of laws that seek to deter people from swapping copyrighted music and movies.

The yawning divide between reality and what such laws say should happen is what produces the dilemmas that lead to amnesties. Immigration law has produced a situation where an estimated 12 million people in the country -- most of whom look, sound and act like law-abiding citizens -- are supposed to be apprehended, prosecuted and deported, a job that is not only well beyond the capacity of the police and courts, but would wreck substantial parts of the economy were it attempted.

And because I'm always up for pinning the odd hypocrite or two:

Catholics United for the Common Good expressed grave concerns today over the partisan nature of the "Catholic" organization Fidelis, which despite its stated objective of defending the family, has remained conspicuously silent on recent efforts to insert a crucial pro-family amendment into the Immigration Reform Act of 2007.

The bipartisan amendment – proposed by Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and her colleagues Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) – would fix a provision in the current compromise immigration bill restricting lawful permanent residents from bringing spouses and minor children into the country. The amendment is supported by the U.S. Catholic Bishops on grounds that maintaining family integrity is essential to just immigration reform.

"Fidelis' recent actions are part of an unfortunate pattern of activity in which the organization places subservience to a partisan agenda over its stated mission of 'Defending Life, Faith, and Family'", said Chris Korzen, Executive Director of Catholics United for the Common Good. "While it claims to be a Catholic organization, in actuality Fidelis appears little more than a front for the Republican Party."

Heh-indeedy, as they say.

Anyway, Ezra Klein famously thinks it's now or never on immigration reform. That may be so. But I'm starting to think that "never" might be the preferable option of the two.

"It's an attitude about the Christian community that they don't like to have to do [outreach] but that they need to do it," Haynes said, referring to the McCain campaign's religious outreach plan. "Like, if we can get what we want without having to get too close [to religious people] and not make a big display, we'll do it." Haynes said she was particularly disturbed by what she called the campaign's overreliance on collecting church directories as an organizing strategy. "The campaign plan to get the [religious] vote is to rape and pillage the church [membership] lists, and we didn't want to do that."

That's a nice bit of hyperbole, but as the article points out, it's also not that far off what the Bush campaign did in 2000. (And as Richard Land points out, it's deeply wrong.)

Seriously, can you imagine the reaction this would get if it were Hillary Clinton's campaign? Jonathan John Edwards? We'd have to listen to endless brow-beating about how Democrats are in sore danger of losing the "moral values" crowd. As it stands, though, we get to watch the Dem frontrunners talk faith with Soledad and Jimmy W., while the Republicans run away from their marriage records and denounce theocracy. Oh, and anti-abortion groups criticize Focus on the Family for going too far.

We're through the looking glass, people.

Bow to the Religious Reich!  Brownback gets on Romney's back for not calling abortion murder. Corruption watch Rep. Bill Jefferson (D-LA) indicted. Here's TPMmuckraker's coverage of the case going back eighteen months.

How bad is Bush's war? The national head of the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), Gary Kurpius, is telling the Marines and the Pentagon to back off their investigation of three former Marines who wore unmarked desert fatigures to an Iraq War protest in Washington, DC. Most of you probably already know this. But it bears noting that the VFW is an extremely conservative organization -- not in the Movement conservative sense, but about as down-the-line as you get in terms of cultural conservatism and reflexive hostility to pretty much any sort of anti-war protest. I give Kurpius credit for taking a principled position on this. But I think this is also a measure of just how unpopular this war and this president have become.

Killing women to make a point?  Via Scott Lemieux, I see that hardline abortion opponents are unhappy with James Dobson because of his support for a ban on partial birth abortions. One of his critics believes, shockingly, that Dobson uses the partial birth abortion bogeyman primarily as a fundraising tool, while another says the recent Supreme Court ban is useless: "This will never save a single child, because...there are lots of other techniques, and they even encourage abortionists to find less shocking means to kill late-term babies," he said.

Fine. Let 'em fight. But the response from Dobson's spokesman, Tom Minnery, was unusually revealing:

Doctors adopted the late-term procedure "out of convenience," Minnery added. "The old procedure, which is still legal, involves using forceps to pull the baby apart in utero, which means there is greater legal liability and danger of internal bleeding from a perforated uterus. So we firmly believe there will be fewer later-term abortions as a result of this ruling."

Let me get this straight. Dobson agrees that in many cases the IDX procedure is the safest one available, and that's why doctors have adopted it. So the purpose of the ban is to force them to use more dangerous procedures. If a few extra mothers die or experience serious trauma as a result, well, them's the breaks.  Excuse me while I retch.

All them colord folks look alike  As you know Rep. Bill Jefferson (D-LA) was indicted today on 16 counts of public corruption. Apparently Fox News Channel can't tell one African-American member of Congress from another, in this case Rep. Jefferson from Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee ...

The gloves come off -- sort of. Obama gently chides Hillary for suggesting that we are safer today than we were on 9/11.  And Chuck Schumer (D-Idiot) leaps to Hillary's defense.

Attorneygate Senator asks DOJ Inspector General to investigate what Alberto Gonzales means by "wrongdoing" and "improper." I guess that's sort of a rhetorical investigation. Neocons gone wild!  Just when it seemed neocon civilians at the Pentagon could be no more reckless in their ambitions, they manage to surprise you.

The same top Bush administration neoconservatives who leap-frogged Washington's foreign policy establishment to topple Saddam Hussein nearly pulled off a similar coup in U.S.-China relations -- creating the potential of a nuclear war over Taiwan, a top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell says.

Lawrence B. Wilkerson, the U.S. Army colonel who was Powell's chief of staff through two administrations, said in little-noted remarks early last month that "neocons" in the top rungs of the administration quietly encouraged Taiwanese politicians to move toward a declaration of independence from mainland China -- an act that the communist regime has repeatedly warned would provoke a military strike.

The top U.S. diplomat in Taiwan at the time, Douglas Paal, backs up Wilkerson's account, which is being hotly disputed by key former defense officials.

As CQ's Jeff Stein reported, there was an awkward Keystone Kops routine playing out during the early years of Bush's first term. "The Defense Department, with Feith, Cambone, Wolfowitz [and] Rumsfeld, was dispatching a person to Taiwan every week, essentially to tell the Taiwanese that the alliance was back on," Wilkerson said, "essentially to tell Chen Shui-bian, whose entire power in Taiwan rested on the independence movement, that independence was a good thing."

In turn, Powell would dispatch his own envoy "right behind that guy, every time they sent somebody, to disabuse the entire Taiwanese national security apparatus of what they'd been told by the Defense Department."

I was reminded this morning that it was none other than Josh Marshall who explained in 2003 that the "grand neocon plan for the Middle East was to spread chaos, not contain it."

The thinking applied to other regions, as well.

"Bush & Cheney like to say that insurgents in Iraq listen to what we say over here.

  If they do, there's no question that this morning, those who seek to kill our troops are

  buzzing with talk that America plans on occupying Iraq forever. The bulls-eye on the back

  of our troops just got a whole lot bigger, and the president is to blame. He has to recant

  these kinds of statements, so he doesn't embolden the enemy more than he already has."

     -- Jon Soltz, head,

You're going to love hating this guy I hadn't heard about this nominee: "Judge Southwick’s judicial record also shows the usual pattern of President Bush’s judicial nominees: insensitivity toward workers, consumers and people injured by corporations." Southwick did, however, find at least one case in which he chose to side with an employee rather than an employer, a case in which he "he ruled for a social worker who was rightfully fired for calling a black colleague 'a good ole nigger.'" He also "denied a bisexual mother custody of her child" and "joined a concurring opinion that went on to berate the mother for her 'decision to participate in a homosexual relationship' and reminded her that one of the consequences of her 'exertion of her perceived right' was that she might lose her child."  People wonder sometimes why compassionate conservatism hasn't done more to attract black voters over to the GOP side. More here and here (PDF).

See? No ice shelf! New Bush global warming strategy -- reduce America's ability to measure climate change. After all, if you don't know the planet's getting warmer, then things are okay, right? It's like a tree falling in the wilderness with nobody there to hear it.

Smearing human rights groups  Perhaps the saddest thing about the "pro-Israel" political mobilization in the United States is that it's spurred a lot of demagogic and insane attacks against human rights organizations around the world. New Republic editor in chief Martin Peretz, for example, lights into them for hypothetically failing to report hypothetical human rights violations in Lebanon:

But be sure that neither Human Rights Watch nor Amnesty International will be there to accuse and denounce. After all, the U.S. is not at all involved and neither are the always culpable Israelis. This is war among Arabs so no one really cares who kills whom and how. That is, no one of the professional careers.

This notion that HRW and Amnesty only criticize Israel because they exclusively criticize Israel is ridiculous. Here's an item attacking the government of Bahrain. Here's one attacking the government of Iran. Here's one attacking the government of Egypt. That's all within the past week.   And right here is the HRW item about Lebanon that Peretz says HRW would never release -- in English, in Arabic, and in French. These outfits criticize Israel when they believe Israel is committing human rights violations, just as they criticize Egypt, Bahrain, Iran, the United States, Russia, China and everyone else.

Your neocon media at "work"   People put hard work into putting together health care plans and this is what they get for their trouble:

Health care is also likely to provide points of difference. Obama laid out his health-care plan last week. Edwards offered his plan much earlier, and Clinton had put some of her ideas on the table as well. All point toward universal coverage as their goal but differ in how rapidly and dramatically they would move to get there.

That's the last graf of a 1,000 word article. It manages to neither describe the differences between the Edwards and Obama plans nor the point of similarity. It doesn't even say which candidate is moving more "rapidly and dramatically" in the direction of universal coverage. It doesn't note that Clinton has not, in fact, laid out her ideas for expanding coverage. And yet, were the candidates to not release policy proposals for the press to ignore, the press would condemn them as lacking substance.

Beyond regime change Joe Biden was making sense last night when he called America's efforts to extract concessions from Iran while simultaneously musing about overthrowing the government "bizarre." The brilliant Reza Aslan spelled out an argument along these lines on Saturday.

Following rules? What rules? “The government’s new system for trying Guantánamo detainees was thrown into turmoil Monday,” when military judges dismissed charges against two suspects after “finding that the Pentagon had not followed congressional mandates in bringing the cases.” The judges cited a technicality that effects all Guantanamo detainees, meaning all trials will likely “come to a halt.”

Homegrown good guy Freshman Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI) issued a statement calling on newly indicted Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) to “consider resigning for the good of Congress and for the good of the nation.” 

Civic discourse? If it's not Al Gore's clothes, it's John Kerry's wife, or John Edwards' hair. Now it's Dennis Kucinich's size…and his wife

Fighting poverty out of selfishnessHunger in America leads to $90 billion a year in societal costs, such as mental-health problems that may arise when people miss too many meals,” according to a new Sodexho Foundation study.  Maybe now the conservatives will care?

"Did you know that Fred Thompson knocked up his high school girlfriend 

  and then married her only to leave her for a woman 25 years younger than he is? 

  Thank God health care companies cover Cialis!"  

     -- Cliff Schecter,    Link

You can fight for it, even die for it, but you can't use it  A military panel recommended yesterday that Iraq war veteran Marine Cpl. Adam Kokesh, “who wore his uniform during an anti-war protest, should lose his honorable discharge status, brushing away his claims that he was exercising his right to free speech.”

Here's how Big Brother works  You know that you can count on the Bush administration, and in particular the Gonzo Justice Department to stand up to big media corporations.  Don't think so?  Think again.  After examining hundreds of potential antitrust situations this year, the Justice Department has decided to go after only a handful of potential cases, but one of those is a media merger.  Is it Rupert Murdoch snapping up papers, radio, and television all over the country?  No, not that.  How about massive cable deals, satellite mergers, or ownership of multiple stations in the same area?  No, no, and no.

The 2004 sales of the Charleston Daily Mail violated antitrust laws, according to a federal lawsuit filed May 22 by the Department of Justice.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston, seeks to reverse the sale of the afternoon newspaper to the Daily Gazette Co. and restore the competition that existed between the Daily Mail and Charleston Gazette.

On the surface, this sale seems like just another of many in these days when even much larger cities than Charleston, WV have a hard time supporting two daily papers.  And going after a newspaper merger is not exactly what this Justice Department is known for.

Stephen Barnett, a law professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, said the lawsuit is a rare case.

"It's very unusual for the Justice Department to bring any antitrust action against newspapers and especially to challenge a newspaper merger is quite unusual, though not unheard of," Barnett said.

Why would the Justice Department take up this very unusual case, and why would they ask for the very unusual penalty of reversing the three-year old sale and restoring the two separate papers?

Here's the key.  

"The Charleston Gazette is known for its investigative's one of the few papers in the country that still believes in watchdog journalism."  Three years ago, the Gazette paid $55 million to purchase its competitor, the conservative-leaning Charleston Daily Mail.

Of all the media mergers that have happened over the last six years, the Justice Department decides to punish a paper known for its investigative journalism, and restore one known for parroting conservative talking points.  How's that for a coincidence?

Crickets.  That's pretty much what New Hampshire heard from the religious right yesterday when the state's governor signed a civil unions bill into law:

Couples who enter civil unions will have the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as married couples. ...  Legislators who gathered for the bill signing packed the governor's chambers and overflowed into an adjoining sitting room. They snapped photos and burst into applause as he signed it.  "I've listened and I've heard all the arguments," said [Governor John] Lynch, a Democrat. "I do not believe that this bill threatens marriage. I believe that this is a matter of conscience and fairness."

It's hard to know who started crying tears of joy first...the same-sex couples or the catering industry.

Republican logic.  Colorado congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo answers questions in this week's issue of TIME.  Gotta love this:

I have no doubt that global warming exists. I just question the cause and what we can do to ameliorate it.  But I wonder why the Sierra Club isn't going crazy about the environmental aspects of massive immigration into the U.S.  The fact is, Americans consume more energy than anyone else, so if a person moves here from another country, they automatically become bigger polluters.

Conversely, so the logic goes, if we send ourselves to other countries, we'll automatically become smaller polluters.  Perhaps we should start with Republican congressmen.

GOP backstabbing.  In a scathing editorial, the arch-conservative movement's nanny, Peggy Noonan, says it's time to haul the entire Bush political machine out to the curb like a bag of smelly garbage:

[T]he great shortcoming of this White House, the great thing it is missing, is simple wisdom. Just wisdom--a sense that they did not invent history, that this moment is not all there is, that man has lived a long time and there are things that are true of him, that maturity is not the same thing as cowardice, that personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don't need hacks..... What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition.  This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future.

The White House had no comment, but quietly crossed her name off their birthday card list.  Which now fits on a 3-by-5 index card.

Dirty words on TV  The recent FCC crackdown on "fleeting vulgarities" has always struck me as little more than ludicrously misguided prudery, so I'm happy to see that an Appeals Court has struck it down. The court's reasoning is just a cherry stuck on top:

The judges said vulgar words are just as often used out of frustration or excitement, and not to convey any broader obscene meaning. "In recent times even the top leaders of our government have used variants of these expletives in a manner that no reasonable person would believe referenced sexual or excretory organs or activities."

Adopting an argument made by lawyers for NBC, the judges then cited examples in which Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney had used the same language that would be penalized under the policy. Mr. Bush was caught on videotape last July using a common vulgarity that the commission finds objectionable in a conversation with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain. Three years ago, Mr. Cheney was widely reported to have muttered an angry obscene version of "get lost" to Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the United States Senate.

"Get lost" indeed. Karma is a bitch, isn't it? (Of course, what's really obscene is that the court would use "reference" as a verb.--RK)

Will Ah-nold run from the fight? A cigar-smoking friend of mine points me to this story in the Sacramento Bee:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fired up a stogie during his trip to Canada this week, but did he break U.S. law to do it?

The celebrity governor known for his love of premium cigars was in Ottawa Wednesday on his way to the airport when his motorcade made a detour to a hotel. There, Schwarzenegger picked up a Cuban Partagas cigar in a shop, with the $15.99 bill paid by an aide traveling with him, the Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported.

His office wouldn't confirm or deny that the governor indulged in a forbidden smoke while in Canada, where he was on a trade mission...."There's no way of telling now because he smoked it," [spokesman Aaron McLear said.]

...."Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are prohibited from purchasing or importing Cuban cigars, regardless of where they are," U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said in a statement.

My stogie-loving pal thinks this whole thing is stupid on so many levels his head is spinning. But I think he's missing a bet. Schwarzenegger ought to fess up to smoking contraband tobacco and then dare the ATF (or whoever) to prosecute him. Arnie can afford the attorney's fees, it would reinforce his reputation for macho behavior, and the resulting publicity would be a giant step forward in demonstrating just how dumb our Cuba policy is. Hell, even JFK thought our Cuba policy was dumb, and it was his policy in the first place.

So c'mon Arnie. Fess up! Make it a federal case. America's cigar smokers will celebrate you for it.

Young attractive women = pole dancers.  Last week on MSNBC’s Morning Joe radio talk show — which airs during the former time slot of Don Imus — host Joe Scarborough brought up former senator Fred Thompson’s wife, Jeri, who is significantly younger than Thompson. Without any evidence, Scarborough wondered whether “she works the pole.”  Crooks and Liars has more

Cheney insanity watch  Remember that report from Steve Clemons last week about how Dick Cheney is hoping to get Israel to attack Iran in order to provoke a shooting war that will suck in the United States? Today in the New York Times, Helene Cooper confirms it:

In interviews, people who have spoken with Mr. Cheney's staff have confirmed the broad outlines of the report, and said that some of the hawkish statements to outsiders were made by David Wurmser, a former Pentagon official who is now the principal deputy assistant to Mr. Cheney for national security affairs.

Good 'ol David Wurmser. A neocon's neocon. Co-author in 1996 of "A Clean Break," the infamous document that proposed giving up on peace in the Middle East in favor of armed attacks on Syria, Iran, Lebanon, and, while we're at it, Iraq too. A man who proposed attacking South America in retaliation for 9/11. The guy who keeps Cheney bucked up when things look bad.

Unsurprisingly, this news didn't go over well with non-crazy people:

During an interview with BBC Radio that was broadcast today, Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he did not want to see another war like the one still raging in Iraq five years after the American-led invasion there.

"You do not want to give additional argument to new crazies who say, 'let's go and bomb Iran,'" Mr. ElBaradei said, in his strongest warning yet against the use of force in Iran.

....Several Western European officials also echoed his concern, and said privately that they are worried that Mr. Cheney's "red lines" — the point at which he believes that Iran is on the brink of acquiring a nuclear weapon and a military strike is necessary — may be coming up soon. "We fully believe that Foggy Bottom is committed to the diplomatic track," one European official said Wednesday. "But there's some concern about the vice president's office."

And the White House's response? An unnamed senior official didn't actually deny that Wurmser's account of Cheney's views was accurate, saying only that "the vice president is not necessarily responsible for every single thing that comes out of the mouth of every single member of his staff." Roger that. I'm sure Wurmser will be fired any day now. And Condi Rice says the whole thing is ridiculous. Of course Cheney is on board with the diplomatic track. Why on earth would anyone think differently?

Griffin Altered NASA Mission Statement To Remove Global Warming Reference   Last week, NPR asked NASA administrator Michael Griffin said that while he was “aware that global warming exists,” he wasn’t sure whether it “is a longterm concern or not.” Griffin said he is “not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with.”

Griffin subsequently clarified his remarks, stating that protecting the earth against global warming is not in the agency’s mission statement:

The agency is responsible for collecting data that is used by the science community and policy makers as part of an ongoing discussion regarding our planet’s evolving systems. It is NASA’s responsibility to collect, analyze and release information. It is not NASA’s mission to make policy regarding possible climate change mitigation strategies.”

But from 2002-2006, it was. Part of NASA’s mission was to “protect our home planet“:

To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers … as only NASA can.

In Feb. 2006, the mission statement was “quietly altered” to remove the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet.” Even a year ago, NASA scientists predicted that because of the mission statement revision, there would “be far less incentive to pursue projects to improve understanding of terrestrial problems like climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.” Top NASA climatologist James Hansen called the deletion “a shocking loss,” because he had “been using the phrase since December 2005 to justify speaking out about the dangers of global warming.”

In contrast to the previous mission statement, the 2006 revision “was made at NASA headquarters without consulting the agency’s 19,000 employees or informing them ahead of time.” Instead, it was submitted as part of the 2006 Earth Science Research and Analysis budget, which is a joint product of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget and the NASA Administrator, Michael Griffin.

Therefore, Griffin is right. Unfortunately, protecting the earth against climate change is not part of NASA’s mission anymore. But that’s because he changed the mission.

Yes, they're at it again, those bearded fanatics with their violent religious extremism, justifying the mass murder of innocent people by citing supposedly holy scripture. Is there no atrocity or abomination that cannot be countenanced by these Muslim -- What? Hang on a second.

All civilians living in Gaza are collectively guilty for Kassam [rocket] attacks on Sderot, former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu has written in a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Eliyahu ruled that there was absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the rocket launchings.

The letter...cited the biblical story of the Shechem massacre (Genesis 34) and Maimonides' commentary (Laws of Kings 9, 14) on the story as proof texts for his legal decision. According to Jewish war ethics, wrote Eliyahu, an entire city holds collective responsibility for the immoral behavior of individuals. In Gaza, the entire populace is responsible because they do nothing to stop the firing of Kassam rockets.

Oh, so it's not Muslims advocating the murder of innocent people with God's blessing. So that's OK, then. In fact, we learn from the good rabbi's son -- who is also a cleric -- that the number of innocent people who can be murdered with God's blessing is virtually unlimited:

"If they don't stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand," said Shmuel Eliyahu. "And if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop we must kill 100,000, even a million."

Or hey, why not six million? After all, the sky's the limit when you start down that "collective responsibility" road.

Cheney lies to children   “Addressing about 100 wide-eyed Wyoming high school students learning about government and the political process,” Vice President Cheney yesterday repeated one of the key fabrications that helped send the United States into war.

During the question and answer session, one student asked, “I was wondering — I’m not trying to start a debate, or anything, but do you still think that the Iraq war can be won?” Cheney immediately answered “yes,” adding, “I think we’re making significant progress now.”

He then launched into a justification of the war, citing the September 11 attacks. “The fact of the matter is Iraq is part of the global war on terror,” he told the students. “And you’ve got to go back and look at what happened on 9/11.” Cheney recounted the tale of the late al-Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of the administration’s great pre-war myths:

The worst terrorist we had in Iraq was a guy named Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian by birth; served time in a Jordanian prison as a terrorist, was let out on amnesty. … Then when we launched into Afghanistan after 9/11, he was wounded, and fled to Baghdad for medical treatment, and then set up shop in Iraq. So he operated in Jordan, he operated in Afghanistan, then he moved to Iraq.

The implication that Zarqawi helped justify the war was thoroughly debunked last year by the Senate Intelligence Committee, then chaired by Bush loyalist Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS.) It found:

Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and…the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi. [p. 109]

Adding insult to injury, earlier in the event, Cheney was asked about the “values or philosophy” he has developed during his 40 years of government service. He answered, “I basically developed a great respect for American history.”

Submitted by RKing on