Tommy Tancredo gets applause; Tommy Thompson gets more stupid During tonight’s presidential debate, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) was asked how he would use President Bush if he were elected president. Tancredo said he has “been so disappointed in the president in so many ways,” and that he would tell Bush to “never darken the doorstep” of his White House. The audience applauded. Asked the same question about Bush, former governor Tommy Thompson said he “would put him out on a lecture series” talking to “the youth of America” about “honesty” and “integrity.” Telling the truth: One among many reasons why NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg has no future in the national Republican party.

On Monday Bloomberg weighed in on the JFK bomb plot -- the one where a few Trinidadian ne'er-do-wells who didn't understand how the jet fuel pipelines worked thought they'd blow up the whole city.

"There are lots of threats to you in the world. There's the threat of a heart attack for genetic reasons. You can't sit there and worry about everything. Get a life. You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist."
Not quite the Big Dog McCain strives for his big Bill Clinton moment. KEEP IT DOWN: Special for the Cranky Noise Police All these years, the cranks among us (including me) complaining about other people's blaring music, endless car alarms and stupid, stupid leaf blowers have been right. The noises of modernity really are sending human civilization—and individuals' health—down the toilet. Read more on The Blue Marble. Time Wonders if Maybe All Those Terrorism Arrests Weren't Legit Looks like even the mainstream media is growing skeptical of the government's terrorism arrests. Time speculates that the JFK plot was overhyped, listing eight reasons why the prosecutor and the folks above her were willing to scare Americans with outrageous statements like the one where she said the plot "could have resulted in unfathomable damage, deaths and destruction." Clearly nonsense, and I'm glad Time is catching on. Schlozman’s Inadvertent Confession: Any Group That Works With Minorities Is ‘Liberal’ Bradley Schlozman has emerged as a central figure in the politicization of the Justice Department, particularly for his focus on squashing the voice of minorites prior to major elections.

As an interim U.S. attorney in Missouri, Schlozman brought felony indictments of four workers in the minority advocacy group ACORN just a week before the 2006 election. That move ran counter to a longstanding policy in the Justice Department, and voter fraud charges against ACORN were dismissed. Schlozman also killed an investigation of Native American voter suppression in Minnesota, a practice that was resulting in “electoral discrimination against Indian voters.”

As TPMMuckraker noted, Schlozman played dumb today when asked about the political leanings of ACORN. But later in the hearing, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) caught Schlozman baselessly labeling groups that reach out to minority voters as the “liberal” counterparts to the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society.

As Schumer pointed out, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, which “fosters sound public policies, laws and programs to safeguard the civil rights of the 45 million Latinos living in the United States,” and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, which “advocates for the legal needs and interests of the APA community,” are nothing like the Heritage Foundation (a right-wing think tank) and the Federalist Society (a right-wing legal organization).

Schlozman’s labeling of these advocacy organizations suggests that he never truly consulted with liberal groups and carried out his position in a political manner. As Schumer noted, “I think the record here is speaking for itself.”

Gonzo catches self in lie Attorney General Alberto Gonzales directly contradicted his 2006 sworn testimony about the NSA domestic surveillance program during a press conference today. Recall, last month, Deputy Attorney General James Comey revealed in sworn testimony that there had been significant dissent within the Justice Department surrounding the Bush administration’s warrantless domestic spying program. Comey revealed that the deep doubts about the program’s “legality and oversight” almost led to the resignations of Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and others. Comey’s disturbing account contradicted Alberto Gonzales’ sworn testimony before Congress in 2006. He said at the time:

GONZALES: Senator, here is a response that I feel that I can give with respect to recent speculation or stories about disagreements. There has not been any serious disagreement, including — and I think this is accurate — there has not been any serious disagreement about the program that the president has confirmed. There have been disagreements about other matters regarding operations, which I cannot get into. I will also say –

Last month, Gonzales refused to retract his original testimony, raising “fresh questions about the nature of the classified dispute” to which Comey referred. Center for American Progress senior fellow Peter Swire noted that Gonzales’ refusal to revise his testimony either confirmed that Gonzales had “made serious misstatements under oath” or that senior Justice Department officials were, in effect, “confirming that other ‘programs’ exist for domestic spying.”

Today, Gonzales appeared to resolve the question. He confirmed that both he and Comey were referring to the same domestic spying program:

QUESTION: Mr. Attorney General, last month, Jim Comey testified about a visit you and Andy Card made to John Ashcroft’s hospital bed. Can you tell us your side of the story? Why were you there? And did Mr. Comey testify truthfully about it? Did he remember it correctly?

GONZALES: Mr. Comey’s testimony related to a highly classified program which the president confirmed to the American people sometime ago. And, because it’s a highly classified program, I’m not going to comment on his testimony.

Gonzales’ confirmation that he and Comey were in fact referring to the same NSA warrantless wiretapping program raises fresh questions about his credibility. Assuming Gonzales is now telling the truth, his original claim that there was no “serious disagreement” about the program should be viewed as a brazen effort to mislead Congress about the depth and seriousness of the legal controversy surrounding the spying program.

Right-wing pundit Mike Adams on feminism: “Feminism is a minority social movement, whose members murder innocent children in order to obtain sexual gratification.” Jessica at Feministing responds HERE.

Your freedom is AT&T's problem Save the Internet:

AT&T chief Ed Whitacre handed the keys over to his replacement Randall Stephenson yesterday, but not before giving a rousing pep talk to fellow executives in the company’s San Antonio board room. We just received exclusive video of the AT&T chairman’s parting speech.

“There’s a problem. It’s called Net Neutrality,” Whitacre told the heirs to AT&T’s telecommunications empire. “Well, frankly, we say to hell with that. We’re gonna put up some toll booths and start charging admission.”This statement echoes those made in the press by Whitacre and Stephenson over the last two years.

Despite claims of poverty whenever pressed to offer better services, these AT&T execs are privately gloating over more than $35 billion in gross profits over the last 12 months. Moreover, Whitacre (and now Stephenson) are pressuring Congress to allow them to provide privileged Web access to their customers to companies that pay them a special fee.

“Will Congress let us do it?” Whitacre asks his colleagues. “You bet they will - cuz we don’t call it cashin’ in. We call it ‘deregulation.’ “

Only Bill O’Reilly… video_wmv Download (4091) | Play (6427) video_mov Download (2336) | Play (4060)

Poor wingnuts. The aborted (and laughably unrealistic) effort to attack JFK is a stark reminder that every line they've fed us about this war on terror is horse crap.

  1. The attackers had no ties to Iraq. Nor the Middle East. Nor Al Qaida.
  1. It was homegrown terrorism. (Of course, the perpetrators were brown, so this merits a lot more hand-wringing than white domestic terrorists, especially the ones bombing abortion clinics.)
  1. No illegal wiretaps or torture were necessary to crack the case.
  1. It was thwarted by good ol' police work -- an informant inside the cell, working with a joint FBI/NYPD task force.
  1. Whatever happened to "fighting them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here"?
  1. War in Iraq and elsewhere isn't ending terrorism. In fact, it's fueling it.

Now the usual suspects praying for more terrorist attacks to justify their apocalyptic world view seem to be pouncing on this case as some sort of validation. In reality, everything about this plot rejects their views on handling terrorism.

And this isn't an isolated case -- the morons who were going to take down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch and the "Fort Dix Six" were taken down by traditional law enforcement activities. While terrorism is bound to be a low-grade threat to our nation for pretty much ever, this is all proof that bombing them over there isn't doing anything to stop that that threat over here and that law enforcement can handle the task without surrendering our Constitutional liberties to authoritarian fear-mongers.

Bush in the Plame Affair Scooter Libby’s sentencing is today and we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge Marcy (emptywheel) at The Next Hurrah’s excellent reporting throughout the trial. So as Libby learns his fate, Marcy gives us an excellent review of the evidence and shows Bush’s involvement to the last. Jon Stewart looks at CNN Dem debate …and rips Wolf Blitzer for conducting it like a grade school classroom. video_wmv Download (5425) | Play (6718) video_mov Download (2275) | Play (3879) Your neocon media smearing Obama This is some really, really rank journalism. The Associated Press is badly distorting a speech Barack Obama gave today, giving his words a scary and racially-threatening cast that they simply didn't have in reality. Here's the headline and lede on the AP's story about Obama's speech:

Obama warns of 'quiet riot' among blacks

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) -- Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Tuesday that the Bush administration has done nothing to defuse a "quiet riot" among blacks that threatens to erupt just as riots in Los Angeles did 15 years ago.

The first-term Illinois senator said that with black people from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast still displaced 20 months after Hurricane Katrina, frustration and resentments are building explosively as they did before the 1992 riots.

The loaded language ("warns," "threatens") in the headline and lede -- combined with the obvious insinuation that Obama is somehow threatening that riots may occur -- has already earned this story its pat on the head from Drudge, who made it his lead story for some time today. And CNN is now playing along, too, running the AP's headline about Obama warning of a "quiet riot among blacks" across the screen.

But here's the thing: It's not remotely clear how the AP reporter concluded that this is what Obama was saying. Here's the relevant text from the actual speech:

Many of the folks in this room know just where they were when the riot in Los Angeles started and tragedy struck the corner of Florence and Normandy. And most of the ministers here know that those riots didn't erupt over night; there had been a "quiet riot" building up in Los Angeles and across this country for years.

If you had gone to any street corner in Chicago or Baton Rouge or Hampton -- you would have found the same young men and women without hope, without miracles, and without a sense of destiny other than life on the edge -- the edge of the law, the edge of the economy, the edge of family structures and communities.

Those "quiet riots" that take place every day are born from the same place as the fires and the destruction and the police decked out in riot gear and the deaths. They happen when a sense of disconnect settles in and hope dissipates. Despair takes hold and young people all across this country look at the way the world is and believe that things are never going to get any better. You tell yourself, my school will always be second rate. You tell yourself, there will never be a good job waiting for me to excel at. You tell yourself, I will never be able to afford a place that I can be proud of and call my home. That despair quietly simmers and makes it impossible to build strong communities and neighborhoods. And then one afternoon a jury says, "Not guilty" -- or a hurricane hits New Orleans -- and that despair is revealed for the world to see.

Obama is actually making a subtle and interesting point. He's not saying that "quiet riots" are actual riots or that the quiet riots inevitably produce the actual ones. By contrast, he's saying that "quiet riots" aren't riots -- they are things that devastate communities, such as crime, joblessness, localized violence, and inner-city despair. He's saying that we shouldn't need high-profile events like Katrina or the Los Angeles riots to alert us to the "quiet riots" that have been going on in the background for years and years.

Nor is Obama saying, as the AP claims, that the quiet riot currently "threatens to erupt" into new riots comparable to the ones in Los Angeles. That idea simply isn't in the speech. The AP just dreamed it up. As a result, Obama suddenly sounds like he's trafficking in the sort of rhetoric that conservatives love to get outraged about: That we'd best minister to inner city problems lest we have another big riot on our hands. Obama just didn't say this at all.

Shameful, profoundly incompetent garbage. Just awful.

By design? Fewer than half of Republicans know Giuliani is pro-choice.

The cost of war There are more details on the paltry sums the U.S. military pays out to the civilian victims of its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, thanks to a new GAO report [PDF]. Some highlights:


  • Condolence payments for death, injury, or property damage max out at $2,500 in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Under new rules, generals in Iraq may authorize payments up to $10,000 in "extraordinary circumstances."


  • In 2005, the military paid out $21.5 million in condolence payments in Iraq; it paid out $7.3 million in 2006. Assuming that the $2,500 maximum was disbursed in each case, that means more than 11,500 payments were made. However, the military does not keep records on the number of payments or the reasons for them. It also does not keep track of denied requests for payment.


  • Here's an example of the system at work: "Two members of the same family are killed in a car hit by U.S. forces. The family could receive a maximum of $7,500 in [...] condolence payments ($2,500 for each death and up to $2,500 for vehicle damage)."


  • Civilians may also file for up to $100,000 in compensation under the Foreign Claims Act. Between 2003 and 2006, the Pentagon paid out $26 million on 21,450 claims filed by Iraqis under the act. That comes out to an average of $1,200 per claim.


  • Before April 2006, no condolence payments were offered for Iraqi soldiers, police officers, or government workers wounded or killed by U.S. and Coalition operations. The Pentagon has since started offering what it calls "martyr payments" for Iraqis killed on the job.
  • In short: One Iraqi life is worth the same as a totaled car, but very special Iraqis may be worth up to $10,000. Also, it's very hard to do math amid the fog of war, so don't bother asking about civilian casualty figures. And being called a martyr by the U.S. government? Priceless.

    Lying liar lies Schlozman on ACORN: Don't know anything about them really. There's a pretty healthy dose of fibs in Bradley Schlozman's testimony today. But this has to be one of the funniest. Also: Brad Schlozman tries to dodge Sen. Leahy's (D-VT) questions about why he violated DOJ guidelines in bringing a rushed (and bogus) vote fraud case in time to affect the November election.

    Fox Noose can't even apologize for its bigotry Rep. John Conyers' (D-MI) office not happy about Fox News Channel's substituting video of Rep. Conyers in place of video for indicted Rep. Jefferson of Louisiana. Just out from the congressman's office ...

    Yesterday, Fox News Channel broke the story of Rep. William Jefferson's indictment with video of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers greeting Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at a recent Judiciary Committee hearing. The network apologized on-air for airing the wrong video; however, they did not personally apologize to Mr. Conyers or describe the video they aired the previous day. Chairman Conyers responded today:

    "Fox News has a history of inappropriate on-air mistakes that are neither fair, nor balanced. This type of disrespect for people of color should no longer be tolerated. I am personally offended by the network's complete disregard for accuracy in reporting and lackluster on-air apology." - House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI)

    Here's the original video:

    The Debate Clock ticks on The Dodd campaign is running the Debate Talk Clock again. Brilliant idea, that. "That's enough from me," says debate moderator Wolf Blitzer. Then he apparently went on for another minute.

    Bradley Schlozman 101: How To Politicize The Justice Department Today at 2:30 pm ET, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing featuring Bradley Schlozman, the controversial political appointee at the Justice Department who has emerged as a central figure in both the U.S. attorneys scandal and the politicization of the Justice Department under the Bush administration.

    Schlozman, who is currently working in the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, also served for three years in the Justice Dept’s Civil Rights Division. In March 2006, he was appointed, without Senate confirmation, to replace Todd Graves as a U.S. Attorney in Missouri.

    In advance of today’s hearing, he’s an overview of his dirty work:

    Schlozman replaced fired U.S. attorney who refused to endorse a voter fraud lawsuit championed by Schlozman: U.S. attorney Todd Graves “may have been on a list for replacement because of his refusal to endorse a lawsuit against the State of Missouri alleging voter fraud before the 2006 election.” The same lawsuit had been approved by Schlozman when he was Acting Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division and was then filed soon after he was appointed as Graves’s successor.

    Voter fraud case championed by Schlozman found to have “no evidence” by federal judge: On April 14, 2007, a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit pushed by Schlozman against the Missouri Secretary of State showed “no evidence” voter fraud. “It is also telling that the United States has not shown that any Missouri resident was denied his or her right to vote as a result of deficiencies alleged by the United States,” Judge Nanette Laughrey wrote. “Nor has the United States shown that any voter fraud has occurred.”

    Disregarding DoJ policy, Schlozman filed voter fraud indictments a week before 2006 election: As an interim U.S. attorney in Missouri, Schlozman brought “felony indictments of four workers for a liberal activist group on voter registration fraud charges less than a week before the 2006 election,” a move that ran counter to a longstanding standing policy in the Justice Department about exercising caution in bringing indictments in election law or voter fraud cases close to election because they can potentially influence the result of the election.

    Schlozman killed investigation of Native American voter suppression in Minnesota: A U.S. attorney in Minnesota was alarmed that a GOP official’s plan to bar certain uses of Tribal IDs for voter identification would result in electoral discrimination against Indian voters. When an investigation was recommended, Schlozman, advised “not to do anything without his approval” because of the “special sensitivity of this matter,” effectively ending the investigation.

    Like Goodling, Schlozman politicized hiring in Civil Rights Division: Under Schlozman, eight lawyers hired by the Justice Dept’s Civil Rights Division “largely because of their Republican or conservative connections.” Schlozman asked appointees “to delete mention on their resumes of Republican affiliations,” to “make it look like it was apolitical.”

    You can watch Schlozman’s testimony today HERE and HERE. He will be followed by Todd Graves, one of the fired U.S. attorneys, whom he replaced.

    No questions for Bush after speech on press freedom. “On a day when he trumpeted democracy, President Bush noted the vital nature of a free press. Then he got a laugh when the press got stiffed,” the AP reports in a wire story.

    Bush joined Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and President Vaclav Klaus on Tuesday for a joint statement at Prague Castle. They stood at podiums, in a grand hall, before the media.

    A Czech moderator quickly kept reporters’ expectations in check.

    ”This press conference is going to be without questions,” he said. ”Thank you for your understanding.”

    That brought a hearty chuckle from Bush, who gave a mock apologetic shrug toward the U.S. press corps.

    At the microphone, Bush ticked through a host of international topics. Then he thanked his hosts for ”a chance to discuss these issues with the media” _ apparently a one-way discussion.

    Bush did have other chances to field queries. He turned them down.

    Ginsburg's Famous White Gloves Finally Come Off Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg led the dissent to the Court's 5-4 decision Tuesday on Ledbetter vs. the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. The case, which decided that pay discrimination cases could not be brought against employers more than 180 days after any alleged discrimination, also marked the second time in six weeks that Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench: an unusually high rate of occurrence for the historically reticent justice who is described as friends as an etiquette-minded, "white-glove person." In fact, Ginsburg had never read her dissent to the Court's decision aloud twice in one year. Ginsburg went years without employing the tactic previous to this term.

    Some, like the co-president of the National Women's Law Center, Marcia Greenberger, are interpreting these vocal dissents as attempts to garner attention for some serious issues. Greenberger characterized Ginsburg's recent vocal dissents as a "clarion call to the American people that… the court is headed in the wrong direction."

    Indeed, partisan politics seems to have captured the Court, and Ginsburg can not have helped but notice. Ginsburg, now the only female Justice since Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement, has gone up against the same five justices (Alito, Roberts, Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas) in both recent dissents. Those five frequently form the core of her opposition, and perhaps not surprisingly, three of these five justices were hand-picked by Bush presidents (Alito, Roberts, and Thomas). The other two were picked by Reagan. Ginsburg was joined in her dissent Tuesday by Justice Breyer, the only other justice on the bench appointed by a Democratic President (Clinton, like Ginsburg); by Justice Stouter, appointed by Bush in 1990 and a man who has drawn the ire of conservatives who consider him either an apostate or a phony; and by Justice Stevens, appointed way back in 1975 by Gerald Ford. Unable to persuade a majority of her colleagues on Ledbetter, Ginsburg called on Congress to overturn the Court's decision.

    A month ago, Ginsburg criticized the gang of five for the language and logic in their decision to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. She argued that their opinion reflected "ancient notions about women's place in the family and under the Constitution -- ideas that have long since been discredited."

    In her dissent Tuesday, Ginsburg again accused the majority for being out of touch, this time for not taking into consideration common workplace practices and characteristics of pay discrimination. It can be difficult, she argued, for pay discrimination to be proved in the short 180-day period that the Court requires if pay disparity occurs in small increments over time or if comparative pay information is not available to the employee.

    Though Ginsburg spoke up for women in the partial birth abortion case, and spoke up again Tuesday for a female plaintiff, her concerns are broader than her sex. She knows that the decision in Ledbetter could hinder anyone who has reason to bring a discrimination suit based on race, national origin, or sexual orientation. We can only hope that in an increasingly conservative court, we have an increasingly vocal dissenter in Justice Ginsburg.

    Submitted by RKing on