Filtered news 4/13

Vonnegut's Voice

I really wonder what gives us the right to wreck this poor planet of ours.

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.

There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.

And my favorite:

I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.

More and .

Happy 264th birthday to founding father Thomas "TJ" Jefferson! (I can call him TJ---we're close). Cormac O'Brien's book Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents says that he "was fond of greeting ambassadors in his pajamas." No wonder I always liked him so much. Powder your wig, pull up your stockings (ladies, you too) and .

Bush administration is just so.... careless Yeah, that's the ticket! Glenn Greenwald

New York Times, today:

"some official e-mails have potentially been lost."

The Politico, March 24, 2007:

In DOJ documents that were publicly posted by the House Judiciary Committee, there is a gap from mid-November to early December in e-mails, which was a critical period as the White House and Justice Department reviewed, then approved, which U.S. attorneys would be fired

Newsweek, February 28, 2007:

what happened to a crucial video recording of Padilla being interrogated in a U.S. military brig that has mysteriously disappeared?

NPR, June 24, 2004:

Key documents are missing from the batch of newly declassified documents the White House released this week on its policies on torture and the treatment of prisoners

USA Today, May 24, 2004:

some 2,000 pages were missing from a congressional copy of a classified report detailing the alleged acts of abuse by soldiers against Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib prison

Associated Press, September 5, 2004:

Documents that should have been written to explain gaps in President Bush's Texas Air National Guard service are missing from the military records released about his service in 1972 and 1973

Newsweek, March 1, 2006:

[Federal Emergency Management Agency Michael] Brown's comments about the president surfaced in a transcript of an Aug. 29, 2005, videoconference call produced by Bush administration officials today after they initially told Congress that no such document existed

Which part is confusing? The White House is having trouble coming up with a credible explanation for the now infamous . According to a White House :

I guess the bottom line is that our policy at the White House was not clear enough for employees.

And what does the White House e-mail policy say?

"Federal law requires the preservation of electronic communications sent or received by White House staff," says the handbook that all staffers are given and expected to read and comply with.... As a result, personnel working on behalf of the EOP [Executive Office of the President] are expected to only use government-provided e-mail services for all official communication.

Law requires, sent or received, only use...sounds pretty clear to me.

The email details keep coming fast and furious. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) just sent a letter to Alberto Gonzales, who I guess we might call the AG pro-tem. Waxman spoke to RNC Counsel Rob Kelner. According to Kelner, even after the RNC began saving Karl Rove's emails, in response to orders from Pat Fitzgerald, Rove himself apparently continued to delete the messages himself well into 2005. This one's pretty fishy. So you'll want to read the details Paul has in at TPMmuckraker.

It just never stops. According to CREW, there are from the White House -- these from the White House servers.

What to do about the ? Mark Kleiman . I tend to agree.

Breaking email news Turns out the RNC does have copies on its servers. Whew. Apparently, back in 2004, as part of the Valerie Plame investigation, Patrick Fitzgerald told them to stop deleting emails. So they did. Except, it turns out, for many of which are still missing. Now that's just plain peculiar, isn't it? Luckily, I'm sure the RNC has backup tapes. Right? Everyone keeps backup tapes, don't they?

Another edition of The One-word Answer Man. Paul Wolfowitz exerted massive influence---fueled by one lie after another---on the White House to launch the disastrous Iraq war. Then, when that went kerblooey, he moved to the World Bank, started shtupping the cleaning lady, promoted her to a cushy position in the organization, and raised her salary to $194,000. Now the World Bank staff asks: ?

Yes.

Corruption of Justice -- department, that is If you're a Republican lawyer, you just can't beat having the muscle of the Justice Department .

Comedy fodder. So you've heard that the west wingers apparently , right? In honor of the occasion, I've written a joke that President Bush can tell at the upcoming White House Correspondent's Dinner. Here it is: "Those missing emails have !!" And for all he's done for America, this one's a freebie.

"I came to Washington in a different era, when
government was respected and liberals were
not demonized for wanting a better society."
-- Helen Thomas,

Encores. Alberto Gonzales's former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, will do some more jawboning up . They wanted to give him one more chance to break the Guinness Record for saying "I don’t remember."

How a rich man can be so poor Excerpt: An addiction to painkillers reduced this human boom box of self-sufficiency and strict enforcement. "If people are violating the law by doing drugs," he once lectured on his syndicated TV show, "they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up" (up the river, that is) to the furtive, needy ploys of any other junkie who finds the medicine cabinet running dry. After he entered rehab, his third wife, Marta, reportedly vacated the luxury estate (they would later divorce), leaving Rush a Tarzan without his Jane. Secluded for now, his compound can be converted into a tourist attraction - a combination museum, shrine, gift shop, and spiritual mecca modeled on Elvis's Graceland. Aging dittoheads can make pilgrimages to pay their respects, rekindle fond memories, and gape reverently at the silenced TV where Rush watched football after he was booted off the airwaves for being such a racist pig. It's really XXX rated, don't come crying if it offends you.

Rudy's racist flag Mark . Federalism is not an answer to a question about official endorsement of the Confederate Flag. "This isn't an issue the federal government has the authority to decide" is part of an answer to the question, but even if this is correct (and my guess is that it is) the second part of the correct answer is, "but it's wrong and states shouldn't do it." Ben Adler's that folks contemplating this ought to consider the possibility that Giuliani's indifference to African-American concerns over this issue stems not from political opportunism, but from his longstanding indifference to African-American concerns in general.

I think one both can and should have an appropriate sympathy for the perspective of authentic white southerners who don't necessarily understand the semiotics of the Confederate battle flag in the way that the American mainstream understands it. Such people deserve a serious effort to explain why, to us, granting official recognition to such a symbol is so deeply problematic. Someone like Giuliani -- born and raised in Brooklyn, New York -- deserves no such sympathy.

There's never been any real evidence that "George Bush doesn't care about black people" as opposed to evidence that Bush is an incredibly bad president on a vast range of subjects. Giuliani's political career, by contrast, has been marked by massive hostility to African-American leaders, and a tendency to actively revel in being disliked by black people. His handpicked successor has, meanwhile, demonstrated that it's perfectly possible to maintain effective law enforcement without acting in the way Giuliani did. He's not, at the end of the day, a very good person and much more so than with your typical politician it seems very plausible to me that he flirts with racist appeals because he's a racist. Maybe not, but as best I can tell it fits the facts better than the alternatives.

On the Imus crap This has been another

Contempt With all the disdain heaped on I really just wonder who the hell people like Brian Williams think is actually interested in the news and politics which, in theory, is their product.

My Bet Rather than right a whole long post about it, I just thought I'd like to go on record early as saying I think John Edwards is probably going to win the nomination. If I had a choice between leading in national polls (Clinton), leading in fundraising (Obama), or leading in Iowa (Edwards) I'd take leading in Iowa. Money has diminishing marginal returns and Edwards has "enough" fundraising to keep running a major campaign. National polls, meanwhile, can move a lot in response to what happens in Iowa, whereas Iowa doesn't move in response to what happens nationwide. Last, the emerging Obama-Clinton dynamic is making it very likely that Edwards can keep plugging away for the next six months and become everyone's second choice.

Obama is all message (the same message of beyond-polarization and reform that John Kerry rejected and Wesley Clark botched in 2004), and part of his early appeal is that he scratches a long-standing itch among message-starved Democratic and independent voters. It also enables him to simultaneously run to the left and right of his main rivals.

HRC, so far, stands in the Gore-Kerry all-policy, no-message tradition, assuming that "I'm in it to win!" is a short-term, tactical slogan designed to deal with doubts about her electability.

Edwards is the one candidate so far to put together both a clear message (an updated version of his "Two Americas" theme from 2004) and a lot of policy detail. But I strongly suspect that Obama and Clinton will soon catch up on that front, and then we'll begin to see some real and congruent competition. The other thing that's likely to happen is that George W. Bush will find a way to make moot the current tactical arguments among the Democratic presidential candidates over Iraq, which will make their opinions on other topics more visible and politically relevant.

Each of the Big Three has a distinctive set of strategic issues to navigate.

HRC is clearly the least vulnerable to mood swings, media narratives, or gaffes; she's already suffered the most important setback, the loss of her overwhelming African-American support. She'll be fine if none of her rivals, Big or Little, catch fire.

Obama needs to overcome the current negative buzz about his campaign; continue, through heavy and broad-based fundraising and competitive poll numbers, to solidify his status as a national candidate who doesn't have to win early; and unfold a policy agenda that satisfies the critics without pigeon-holing him ideologically.

And Edwards, aside from getting past the rumors about the impact of his wife's health on his candidacy, needs to continue his interesting tandem strategy of becoming the preferred choice of the activist Left, while maintaining his appeal as a regional Southern candidate, which could be very important after New Hampshire. So far, he seems to be pulling it off, as evidenced by his recently unveiled and impressive endorsement list in South Carolina (no, endorsements aren't all that important in themselves, but in this case they do show he hasn't in any way become toxic in his home region. He should say a prayer every night in thanks for Mark Warner's noncandidacy). Unlike HRC and Obama, Edwards really does need to win or at worst finish a strong second in Iowa, but if he does, he could be in very good shape.

Health care confusion He's so good he plays both sides of the argument. Jon Cohn against single-payer. And if you're just tuning in to , of what you've missed.

Crustacean huggers. Some "young people" walked into a Portland seafood market, paid $3,400 cash for 300 one-clawed lobsters, drove 'em to the beach and then . I have a term for that: a waste of butter.

General Motors pulled their advertising dollars away from racist hate.
American Express pulled their advertising dollars away from racist hate.
Sprint pulled their advertising dollars away from racist hate.
Nextel pulled their advertising dollars away from racist hate.
GlaxoSmithKline pulled their advertising dollars away from racist hate.
TD Ameritrade pulled their advertising dollars away from racist hate.
Ditech.com pulled their advertising dollars away from racist hate.

So, who is putting advertising dollars into Rush's vulgar hate show?
So, who is putting advertising dollars into Hannity's vulgar hate show?
So, who is putting advertising dollars into O'Reilly's vulgar hate show?
So, who is putting advertising dollars into FOX Whore News in general?
So, who is putting advertising dollars into any racist and vulgar hate show?

Now let's go after Rush, Hannity etc...

All I can figure is he never sleeps. Has there been a single scandal in recent U.S. history where the biggest hypocrite in the room didn't turn out to be ?

Awkward positions. Conundrums that keep air traffic controllers up at night: "Should I keep these planes circling while I go wee...or should I let my bladder explode next to millions of dollars worth of sensitive air traffic control equipment?" Last Friday . Ahhhhh..... I'm so happy Reagan busted their union. No sense in having proper staffing levels maintained -- I mean, it's not like it's a matter of life and death. Oh. Wait.....

Keeping your powder dry a little too long. Former neo-con ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick (John Bolton's role model, including the hairstyle) waited to admit that the Iraq war was a mistake . Republicans...so courageous.

As gratifying as it is to see the rank and file pushing for decency, it's also interesting to see who didn't step up. The GOP, who have long lived by lapping up the filth spewing from the microphones of Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, and Rush Limbaugh, have pledged their loyalty to Imus. John McCain, Imus' favorite politician, has been for his buddy, ready to forgive. Rudolph Giuliani is also on the pro-Imus side of the line, as is Mike Huckabee. Let the record show: GOP presidential candidates believe it's fine and dandy to use racial and sexual remarks, spoiling a moment of triumph for a group of student athletes who worked hard to excel on and off the court. Mitt Romney? He lacks the courage to even comment. Of course, knowing Romney, whatever he decides today will be reversed next week.

Equally interesting is the from "serious" journalists like Tim Russert, who frequently cozied up on Imus show to exchange chuckles and unctuous jokes. Russert isn't the only one. All those chummy beltway boys, so hip, so above the common fray, looked on Don Imus as one of their own.

And why not? Punditry has reached the stage where it consists of nothing but slinging insults and generating outrage. Facts have nothing to do with it. Decency has nothing to do with it. You can dish up hurtful lies and pointless little digs all weekend, and still pretend that you're America's moral daddy. Right, Bill? Right, Tim? Right, Rush?What's shocking to them is not what Imus said, but that someone from their club would actually be held responsible for what they said.

Molly Ivins Moment:

The Republicans are worried about the flag, gay marriage and the terrible burden of the estate tax on the rich. The rest of us are obviously unnecessarily worried about war, peace, the economy, the environment and civilization. Another reason to vote Republican---they have a shorter list.

The reincarnation of Nixon's 18-minute gap We've broken

Leahy: Bush Aides Lying About E-Mails

By LAURIE KELLMAN
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's aides are lying about White House e-mails sent on a Republican account that might have been lost, a powerful Senate chairman said Thursday, vowing to subpoena those documents if the administration fails to cough them up.

"They say they have not been preserved. I don't believe that!" Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy shouted from the Senate floor.

"You can't erase e-mails, not today. They've gone through too many servers," said Leahy, D-Vt. "Those e-mails are there, they just don't want to produce them. We'll subpoena them if necessary."

Leahy also drew

"Like the famous 18-minute gap in the Nixon White House tapes, it appears likely that key documentation has been erased or misplaced. This sounds like the Administration's version of 'the dog ate my homework.'"

Media note: Suggested scandal nickname, DogAte.

So yes, we now have our 18-minute gap. But keep in mind that the statutory remedy available to Congress here is contempt charges, and that the unfortunate reality about contempt of Congress is... it gets prosecuted at the

Would the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia -- appointed by Gonzales under the infamous and now-repealed provision of the PATRIOT Act -- refuse to prosecute the White House and the Department of Justice for failing to produce the subpoenaed e-mails, or for destroying them? Well, it's happened before. Back in the 80s, the Reagan DoJ refused to prosecute EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford for her contempt of Congress charges, and even filed suit against the House of Representatives to block the enforcement of their subpoenas.

So what we have here is not just an 18-minute gap, but a case where has already been fired. We've already had our

The question is, what is Congress prepared to do about it? Will they utilize the available to them? Or will they throw their hands up and hope the courts will do their work for them? And if they decide to rely on the courts -- a dicey proposition, at best -- will that just effectively run out the clock, as the "administration" is doubtless hoping to do? Even if Congress should manage to prevail in court, will we find out too late in the game, only to be told that yes, they were right all along, but the 2008 election season fast approaching, it's time to "focus our energy"... again? The last time around, the word was that the about winning back the majority in Congress was subpoena power. Well, either Congress has that power or it doesn't. Right now, for all the outrage the Bush White House is producing, Congress still doesn't have the e-mails.

Corruption watch $100,000: The by Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ), who is probing whether Renzi “introduced legislation that benefited a military contractor that employs his father,” and whether he “helped promote the sale of land that netted a former business partner $4.5 million.”

If you sleep with dogs... Rudy Giuliani’s (R) current foreign policy advisers include retired Gen. Jack Keane, the of President Bush’s Iraq escalation policy, and .

"We've never been in worse shape as a country. Truth has taken a holiday in this war.
President Bush struck a match across the Middle East and invaded that country.
Who are we? What have we become? Whose war is this?...Is this America?
-- Helen Thomas, who has more courage than all the Democrats in congress combined,

King Dubya extends is kingdom Ah, executive privilege. It’s not just for ... well ... the executive anymore. Apparently it covers a political party as well, at least according to White House Counsel :

Fielding also appears to be trying to head off an attempt by Conyers to obtain e-mails and documents from the Republican National Committee regarding the firings. ...Fielding also said that "it was and remains our intention to collect e-mails and documents from those [RNC-controlled] accounts as well as the official White House e-mail and document retention systems" as part of a broader deal with the two committees on staffer testimony.

John Conyers gave a stern harrumph:

Conyers immediately countered Fielding's letter, dismissing it as an attempt by Fielding to extend executive-privilege protection to e-mails sent by White House officials on RNC servers, which Conyers suggested was legally suspect.

"As I stated in my earlier letter to the Republican National Committee today, the Judiciary Committee intends to obtain the relevant emails directly from the RNC," Conyers said in reaction to the Fielding letter. "The White House position seems to be that executive privilege not only applies in the Oval Office, but to the RNC as well. There is absolutely no basis in law or fact for such a claim."

Law? Fact? Since when did that stop The Gang That Couldn’t Govern Straight? And oh, yeah. Fielding says the White House isn’t going to let aides – including Rove – testify either. Looks like a showdown at the Constitutional Corral is headed our way.

This is one is worth slowing down and seeing just what the White House is saying. Executive privilege doesn't just apply to conversations the president has with his top aides. It doesn't just apply to conversations his top aides have with each other. It doesn't even just apply to any presidential aides doing anything connected to the White House. Executive privilege applies to the outside political party work the president's aides do on their own time.

Remember, members of the White House staff have outside party-funded email accounts for doing political work they are not permitted to do on taxpayers' time. They do their official work with government phones, emails, blackberries, etc. But if they break the rules and do official work using outside party-funded email addresses then executive privilege covers that too.

More on Wisconsin's prosecution scandal This from the Milwaukee alt weekly, the Shepherd Express, gives us more helpful background on Milwaukee US Attorney Steven Biskupic's curious habit of prosecuting Democrats and how it ties in to the US Attorney Purge. It also asks these important questions:

"The real question is why Biskupic hasn’t investigated Troha family contributions of tens of thousands of dollars to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and President Bush. Rep. Ryan received more than $50,000 in campaign contributions from the Troha family. The only difference is that Paul Ryan actually introduced special-interest legislation for Troha, signed by Bush, that substantially increased the value of Troha’s business. Ryan provided a clear quid pro quo and he should be investigated and perhaps indicted. Ryan, of course, denied he knew this was happening; however, when a congressman introduces special-interest legislation for a major contributor, what is he thinking about? If Biskupic is really trying to ferret out corruption, why isn’t he investigating Ryan, where there is actually a smoking gun of corruption? But, wait a second, isn’t Paul Ryan a Republican?"

Sex, death and the GOP Well, here we go again, another episode of neocons :

The Democratic-led U.S. Senate voted on Wednesday to lift a key restriction by President George W. Bush on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. ... Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and chief sponsor of the bill, urged Bush "to reconsider his threat to veto it. There are some 400,000 leftover, unwanted embryos in fertility clinics across America," Harkin said. "All we are saying is, instead of throwing those leftover embryos away, let's allow couples to donate a few of them, if they wish, to create stem cell lines that could cure diseases and save lives."

New lines are made from material stored at fertility clinics which is already slated for destruction. Preventing these cells from being used for research won't 'save' them. It simply means they'll be disposed of in a medical waste facility instead of being used to find cures for disease. The only reason to ban federal funding is to appeal to a minority of extremist social conservatives and it comes at the cost of possibly delaying or denying treatment--and in some cases perhaps life itself--to millions of people.

To the left we see the friendly neighborhood IVF Clinic which produces unused blastocysts (Diagram courtesy of ). Of the many thousands that are discarded each year, a handful could be saved and used to make Embryonic Stem Cell Cultures. A misinformed led by a and a deeply unpopular President refer to the fiery end as "saving children," and the petrii dish as "murder." It would be funny, if the rest of us weren't forced to humor their glaring, discordant fabrication.

Right about now is when the obligatory dig at the Neo-GOP is inserted, perhaps placed in an all too familiar list of failures, maybe with a concluding and slightly gleeful observation that at least they're systematically destroying themselves. But that conclusion is little consolation. A once decent mainstream political party has been hijacked by a small band of fringe kooks, incompetent crooks, and predatory clerics. This cabal of mendacity has ripped off the poor, the sick, the middle class, and even the unborn to give to the super rich. They have left a trail of broken lives, broken dreams, abandoned neighborhoods, maimed bodies, and corpses from Baghdad to the Gulf Coast. In the process they have driven that party over a cliff with the entire nation in tow. We will all be stuck cleaning up the wreckage left in their wake long after this ugly chapter in American history has drawn to an official close. That's nothing to celebrate.

In light of Iraq, Purgegate, or Katrina, Stem Cells may seem like small potatoes. But they’re an ideal window into the seamy duplicity dominating today's perverse remnant of the Grand Old Party. Through that lens the priorities of the ruthless ideological operatives pulling the strings of a puppeteer president are starkly revealed: fiction over truth, self over party, party over country, women and children last, money and power for a fleeting moment above all. And, given that this research holds promise to treat virtually every major in the US, in the end it may turn out that holding up ESCR killed more Americans than all other White House sins combined.

Stupid Democrats There might not be any bigger scumbags in the corporate world today than the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). And that's . There's a :

The liberal blogosophere is united on many fronts -- not just disliking US foreign policy. We also hate the RIAA -- for suing our friends, for lobbying for laws that suspend due process rights of the accused (the RIAA's favorite law, the DMCA, was used by Diebold to suppress information about failures in its voting machines), and for demanding the right to "pretext" (commit wire fraud) in order to catch "pirates." Worse still, the RIAA are part of the initiative to corrupt net neutrality, imposing centralized controls on the transmission of information across the network.

And now, the Howard Dean and the DNC have apparently hired the RIAA's top shill, Jenni Engebretsen, as a "Deputy CEO for Public Affairs" for the upcoming convention in Denver.

It has been Engebretsen's job to sell these initiatives to the American public. She's failed to sell this to the American public. Not only does she take a paycheck for selling gangsters to the public -- she's not very good at it!

As Boing Boing notes, the DNC could do better.

: taking apart the White House's "offer" to Congress.

Free ride for home-grown bad guys Apparently we're so busy keeping terrorists out of the country that the FBI has no time, money or manpower to (some shocking graphs inside). Just another example of how Bush is destroying this country from the inside out:

It is the untold story of the Bush administration's massive restructuring of the FBI after the terrorism attacks of 9/11. Five-and-a-half years later, the White House and the Justice Department have failed to replace at least 2,400 agents transferred to counterterrorism squads, leaving far fewer agents on the trail of identity thieves, con artists, hatemongers and other criminals.

[T]he gaps created by the Bush administration's war on terrorism are troubling to criminal justice experts, police chiefs---even many current and former FBI officials and agents.

Great work by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Paul Shukovsky, Tracy Johnson and Daniel Lathrop. But, uh...we should keep it out of the hands of potential shady types. They might get ideas.

Keeping your salami holstered. Gotta give America's Catholic priests some credit. Sexual harassment complaints for two years in a row. "Only" 714 last year! I knew things would settle down once they unveiled the new statue of Woody, the patron saint of the chastened pecker.

Guess who's coming to dinner "Interracial Marriages Surge Across U.S." .

Since that landmark Loving v. Virginia ruling, the number of interracial marriages has soared; for example, black-white marriages increased from 65,000 in 1970 to 422,000 in 2005, according to Census Bureau figures. Factoring in all racial combinations, Stanford University sociologist Michael Rosenfeld calculates that more than 7 percent of America's 59 million married couples in 2005 were interracial, compared to less than 2 percent in 1970.

The specific numbers would be interesting to look at. Traditionally, you see significant gender skews. As Wikipedia "Asian American women were 2.5 times more likely to be married to a White American man than Asian American men married to white women . . . African American men are 2.5 times more likely to be married to white women than African American women to white men . . . 598% more Asian female/Black male couples than Asian male/Black female couples, according to the 2000 US Census for the six largest Asian American ethnic groups." As the general quantity of interracial marriages increase, will those gaps narrow? )As a white man who was married to a black woman for almost 20 years, I am encouraged by the trends. Things used to be much worse. --RK)

Published

April 13, 2007 - 10:54am

Author

randomness