Filtered news 5/21

"New Rule: You can't send the National Guard to Iraq and then claim it's still here. The helicopters, the Humvees, the men... Like Dorothy and Toto, they're not in Kansas anymore. Sorry, Mr. President, but the last documented case of a National Guardsman able to be in two places at one time...was you. "
---Bill Maher

"The [Republican] debate on 'enhanced interrogation techniques' was a good start, but we can go further. Next time I say we put a suspected terrorist up on stage with the candidates and give them each 30 seconds to spill the beans. After all, you can say you're pro-torture, but actions scream louder than words!"
---Stephen Colbert

"While visiting troops in Iraq on Thursday, Vice President Dick Cheney told them that he knows they are suffering hardships from extended deployments, but the longer stays are vital to the mission. Then, still pointing his sidearm, he slowly backed into his plane and left."
---Amy Poehler

"Cheney going to a prostitute? I can't believe a good-looking guy like that would ever have to pay for sex."
-- Letterman

"I was listening to [Rush Limbaugh] earlier today..."
--Wolf Blitzer (OK. That one's not funny.)

First we kill all the bankers.... There are times when I think it might be a good idea to line up the CEOs of every financial services company in America and shoot every tenth one of them. Just on principle. read about how financial services companies help scam artists rip off old people. read about how financial services companies rip off anyone trusting enough to buy one of their "bank gift cards."

“After the screening, several hard-nosed U.S. critics and journalists .”

Michael Moore yesterday held the first screening of his new film on the health care industry, Sicko, and there to see it were “ from their days at ground zero. In the film, Moore takes them to Cuba and tries to get them treated at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay - where, he contends, terror suspects were getting better medical care than the heroes of 9/11.”

Donna Smith, in from Denver with her husband, Larry, was in tears when she spoke. The film opens with their painful story: Plagued with health problems, they were forced to sell their home and move into the storage room of their daughter’s house because they couldn’t cope with health costs, even though they were insured.

“Health care is an embarrassment to our nation,” Donna told Moore. “You give dignity to every American in this film.”

Lost in all the publicity over Moore’s trip is the reason he went to Cuba in the first place.

He says he hadn’t intended to go, but then discovered the U.S. government was boasting of the excellent medical care it provides terror suspects detained at Guantanamo. So Moore decided that the 9/11 workers and a few other patients, all of whom had serious trouble paying for care at home, should have the same chance.

“Here the detainees were getting colonoscopies and nutrition counseling,” Moore told The Associated Press in an interview, “and these people at home were suffering. I said, ‘We gotta go and see if we can get these people the same treatment the government gives al-Qaida.’ It seemed the only fair thing to do.”

Michael Moore on the relating to his new movie on the health care industry, Sicko:

This preemptive action taken by the Bush administration on the eve of the ‘Sicko’ premiere in Cannes led our attorneys to fear for the safety of our film, noting that Secretary Paulson may try to claim that the content of the movie was obtained through a violation of the trade embargo that our country has against Cuba and the travel laws that prohibit average citizens of our free country from traveling to Cuba. (The law does not prohibit anyone from exercising their first amendment right of a free press and documentaries are protected works of journalism.)

I was floored when our lawyers told me this. “Are you saying they might actually confiscate our movie?” “Yes,” was the answer. “These days, anything is possible. Even if there is just a 20 percent chance the government would seize our movie before Cannes, does anyone want to take that risk?”

Certainly not. So there we were last week, spiriting a duplicate master negative out of the country just so no one from the government would take it from us. (Seriously, I can’t believe I just typed those words! Did I mention that I’m an American, and this is America and NO ONE should ever have to say they had to do such a thing?)

Read Moore’s full message , and his new interview with Time magazine .

"We have a Congress. We have an independent judiciary. We have checks and balances.
We are a nation of laws. We have free speech. We have a free press. Why have they all failed us?"
-- Al Gore, in his book,

Alberto Gonzales, : “Looking back, things that I would have done differently? I think I would have had the Deputy Attorney General more involved, directly involved.” VERSUS Gonzales, : “The recommendations reflected the views of the Deputy Attorney General. He signed off on the names and he would know better than anyone else, anyone else in this room.” Watch Stewart’s segment:

It’s worth noting that President Bush’s threat to for U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan came just two days before Armed Forces Day, the “single holiday for for their patriotic service in support of our country.”

"There's...a growing movement within Iraq itself to try and set a timeline for a U.S. troop withdrawal. Many Iraqi lawmakers have just passed a bill requiring a timeline. And particularly Iraq's Shiite communities, which are effectively the victors in this war, have said to the Americans, 'Thank you very much for getting rid of Saddam...we'll take it from here.'"

By take it from here, of course, they mean spread peace and love throughout the country. And by peace and love, of course, they mean death and destruction. And by death and destruction, of course, they mean...we're goin' nowhere until our grandkids are in nursing homes. Pass the bong.

Edumukashunism. 155 years ago, Massachusetts ruled that all school-age children must attend school. Blue staters---will they never stop with their crazy socialist schemes?

Haunted by our fascist past Thirty years ago :

Q: So what in a sense you’re saying is that there are certain situations…where the president can decide that it’s in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.

NIXON: Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.

Q: By definition.

NIXON: Exactly, exactly.

The echoes of President Nixon’s radical interpretation of American democracy are still heard frequently today, most notoriously in relation to President Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program. In Dec. 2005, it was revealed that Bush had “signed a secret order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in the United States, .” A few months later, on Feb. 6, 2006, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales came before Congress and was asked to explain why President Bush didn’t simply work with Congress to develop a system that was legal:

KENNEDY: Now, we were facing the issue of electronic surveillance at another time, in 1976, when we had the attorney general, Ed Levi, and President Ford. And they followed a much different course than you have followed. Ed Levi came and consulted with us. … [T]hey dealt with the Congress, and they got FISA. … And the question that I have for you is, why didn’t you follow that kind of pathway, which was so successful at a different time? … Why didn’t you follow that pattern?

GONZALES: Sir, the short answer is that we didn’t think we needed to, quite frankly.

From Friday's "Real Time." Bill Maher captures the essence of last week's Republican debate in 45 seconds. | |

No good deed goes unpunished : The idea that Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Diaz will do for committing the brave and even noble deed of leaking the names of all Guantanamo detainees to human rights lawyers is profoundly distressing:

A military jury recommended Friday that a Navy lawyer be discharged and imprisoned for six months for sending a human rights attorney the names of 550 Guantanamo Bay detainees.

…Diaz was convicted Thursday of communicating secret information about Guantanamo Bay detainees that could be used to injure the United States and three other charges of leaking information to an unauthorized person.

…After the first day of his trial Monday, Diaz had told he felt sending the list — which was inside an unmarked Valentine's Day card — was the right decision because of how the detainees were being treated.

Considering that we might not have ever known what was happening there, had it not been for Diaz, this seems egregiously unfair–though to be fair, it's clear the court was somewhat lenient–they could have given him a maximum of 14 years. Especially considering :

Bush administration officials have characterized the Guantanamo population overall as "the worst of the worst." Diaz said that is one of two incorrect or false statements.

"The other statement was 'We do not torture,'" said Diaz[..]. "I think a good case could be made for allegations of war crimes, policies that were war crimes," he said. "There was a way to do this properly, and we're not doing it properly."

"You didn't have to watch the Fox debate all the way to Rudy's Quayle moment to know something odd was afoot. Right at the beginning, as each candidate was introduced, a graphic appeared with the following data: Age. Religion. Family. Career. With Religion being listed just beneath how old they were, it turned Age into a countdown to their eternal reward. On the other hand, ya gotta laugh at the data included under Family: the wife, the kids, the odd step-kid, but no mention of prior spouses, let alone prior spouses' prior spouses. The only statistic missing was dick size..." -- Marty Kaplan,

We are creating and funding terrorists It wasn't too long ago that al Qaeda was considered cash-strapped. More recently, however, the CIA, in the midst of an unsuccessful search for the terrorist network's top leadership, noticed : the war in Iraq is helping fill al Qaeda's coffers.

In one of the most troubling trends, U.S. officials said that Al Qaeda's command base in Pakistan is increasingly being funded by cash coming out of Iraq, where the terrorist network's operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the anti-American insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity.

The influx of money has bolstered Al Qaeda's leadership ranks at a time when the core command is regrouping and reasserting influence over its far-flung network. The trend also signals a reversal in the traditional flow of Al Qaeda funds, with the network's leadership surviving to a large extent on money coming in from its most profitable franchise, rather than distributing funds from headquarters to distant cells.

A senior U.S. counter-terrorism official added, "Iraq is a big moneymaker for them."

This isn't exactly a huge surprise, but it's nevertheless a heartbreaking reminder about why the administration and its allies have Iraq backwards. Indeed, we learned last September from the National Intelligence Estimate that the war is "shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives," creating a "" for jihadists, which in turn "cultivat[es] supporters for the global jihadist movement." Or, put another way, the war in Iraq is making it harder, not easier, to combat global terrorism, and in the case of al Qaeda, our presence has become something of a cash-cow.

I heartily endorse on the broader dynamic.

Say it with me: We. Need. To. Get. Out. The sooner the better. Our presence in Iraq is doing nothing for Iraq itself, which is doomed to sectarian civil war no matter what we do. It's actively hindering the destruction of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which will almost certainly proceed more quickly and more ruthlessly once we leave. It's made Iran into a more powerful regional player than it ever could have dreamed of. It's produced a relentlessly worsening foreign policy catastrophe by swelling the ranks of Middle Eastern Muslims who support anti-American jihadism in spirit, even if they don't directly support al-Qaeda itself. And it's turned into a bonanza of recruiting and fundraising among those who do directly support al-Qaeda.

In almost every way you can think of, our continued presence in Iraq is bad for Iraq, bad for the Middle East, and bad for America's own national security. I can't even think of anything on the plus side of the ledger anymore, and every additional day we stay there only makes the ledger look worse.

Another creator of false fear You can be fear Saddam's non-existant WMDs, ou can fear Bush's non-existant hoards of Isalmofascists, or you can fear this; Less than a week after Jerry Falwell's death, Newt Gingrich appeared at Falwell's college, Liberty University, to address to the school's 2007 graduating class. The former House Speaker and likely presidential candidate denounced the "."

In a speech heavy with religious allusions but devoid of hints about his presidential ambitions, Gingrich drew applause from the graduates and their families in the school's 12,000-seat football stadium when he demanded: "This anti-religious bias must end."

"In hostility to American history, the radical secularists insist that religious belief is inherently divisive," Gingrich said, deriding what he called the "contorted logic" and "false principles" of advocates of secularism in American society.

"Basic fairness demands that religious beliefs deserve a chance to be heard," he said during his 26-minute speech. "It is wrong to single out those who believe in God for discrimination. Yet, today, it is impossible to miss the discrimination against religious believers."

Impossible to miss? It can't be that impossible; I have no idea what on earth he's talking about. Religious beliefs don't have a chance to be heard? Since when?

I'm hard pressed to imagine what country Gingrich and the 12,000 people who applauded his worldview are living in. Out of the 535 members of Congress, 50 governors, the president, vice president, the Bush cabinet, and nine Supreme Court justices, there is exactly one person -- not one percent, just one guy -- who does not profess a faith in God. If polls are to be believed, less than 5% of the population describes themselves as non-believers.

In the last presidential election, one candidate announced during a presidential debate, "My faith affects everything that I do, in truth.... I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith." This was John Kerry, the more secular candidate of the two.

As for "discrimination," the New York Times had an interesting report last week showing that so much public money is now going to ministries, religious groups are to get more.

In our culture, religion is common in the media — I can’t remember the last month Time and/or Newsweek didn’t feature religion as a cover story — almost exclusively in a positive light. In sporting events, celebrating athletes routinely express their religiosity. At awards ceremonies, entertainers routinely “give thanks to God” from the outset, usually to considerable applause.

Gingrich sees all of this and believes an “anti-religious bias” dominates U.S. society. I have no idea why.

Leaving children's behinds behind. Oh, that pesky non-partisan General Accounting Office is at it again. Their latest report says that many of our nation's schools aren’t prepared to . In response, the White House ordered Michael Chertoff to reactivate . Ahh...the warm, nostalgic embrace of the 50s. A Republican wet dream.

"They need to prove, not merely assert, their right to an opinion."

"In 2006 and 2004, they challenged tens of thousands of black soldiers. They stopped their votes from being counted when they were mailed in from Baghdad....By sending letters to the homes of soldiers, marked "do not forward." When they came back undelivered, they said: Aha! Illegal voter registered from a false address. And when their ballot came in from Fallujah, it was challenged.
The soldier didn’t know it. Their vote was lost. Go to Baghdad, lose your vote - mission accomplished. This was not a small operation. It was a multi-million dollar, wholesale theft operation." -- Greg Palast, in a ,

Gonzo's going away party It's kind of amusing to think that literally just 10 days ago, it seemed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was, facts be damned, going to keep his job. He believed he had "." He was caught in the midst of a massive scandal he still can't explain, his Justice Department is divided and dysfunctional, and he'd lost the trust of pretty much everyone who has objectively considered the facts, but Bush is satisfied -- so Gonzales is "" that he's going to stay right where he is.

For that matter, it seemed, for unclear reasons, that there was nothing Congress would do about it. Since James Comey's Senate testimony on Tuesday, however, it's become clear that Gonzales hadn't weathered the storm, he was just in the storm's eye.

After Sens. Schumer and Feinstein unveiled their no-confidence resolution, all eyes were on Senate Republicans to see how much, if any, GOP push-back there'd be. The White House dismissed the measure as a "stunt," but the Senate minority has to oppose the resolution. Indeed, the afternoon it was introduced, more GOP lawmakers abandoned Gonzales. (For those keeping score at home, there are Republican senators who've said, publicly, they think it's time for Gonzales to go, one way or another.)

This morning, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Gonzales' days as AG are .

[O]n CBS's Face the Nation, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) underlined the importance and seriousness of the vote, calling it a "rare" and "very forceful, historical statement." He predicted that "before the vote is taken that Attorney General Gonzales may step down."

Maybe. But reading over the of Friday's White House gaggle, a Bush spokesperson made it sound as if Congress may have to impeach Gonzales, because losing the confidence of lawmakers just isn't enough.

“Democrats push to hold security contractors responsible for abuses in Iraq. House legislation, attached to defense-authorization bill, would create a . Presidential rivals Obama and Clinton back similar legislation in Senate, while other Democrats seek new FBI unit on contractor crimes.”

More Daily Show fun Samantha Bee takes a look at the "attractiveness" of cable news. Lara Logan will always be my personal favorite. | | NILF's…

Necon media forgets about Dems This is , particularly considering we're, like, the majority party now:

In his May 18 discussing reactions to the May 17 agreement between the White House and a bipartisan group of senators on comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration law, Politico chief political writer Mike Allen cited Bush administration sources and the three leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination but failed to quote a single Democratic source, even though several prominent Democratic leaders had already commented on the deal.

C'mon Allen. You can do better. Isn't that why this whole Politico thing got started in the first place?

Maher pays his respects to the late wingut leader. | |

"I know you're not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but I think we can make an exception because speaking ill of the dead was kind of Jerry Falwell's hobby."

68: Percentage of Americans who , according to a Gallup poll, including 60 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of weekly churchgoers.

What're they hiding? “A bipartisan group of senators is pushing legislation that would force the CIA to release an inspector general’s report on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.” The CIA is the only federal agency to .

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a little trick up his sleeve that could of controversial figures like former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton.” U.S. News reports:

We hear that over the long August vacation, when those types of summer hires are made, Reid will call the Senate into session just long enough to force the prez to send his nominees who need confirmation to the chamber. The talk is he will hold a quickie “pro forma” session every 10 days, tapping a local senator to run the hall. Senate workers and Republicans are miffed, but Reid is proving that he’s the new sheriff in town.

Repugnant Repugs the legislative history of that warped Republican from South Dakota. It is as you'd expect.

Rush Limbaugh: “The wizards at the Today Show plan, on Monday, to on my parody tune “‘” Limbaugh says he is sending “encyclopedic documentation” to NBC showing “the brilliance of it, the humor of it.” We’ll see how much of that NBC incorporates into its report.

The dumbing down of America In 2005, the Kansas Board of Education received national ridicule when it rewrote public school standards to on the mainstream evolution theories of Charles Darwin. One of the board members who voted to teach intelligent design was Kenneth Willard, a conservative who is now the for the National Association of State Boards of Education. NASBE is a nonprofit organization of state school boards that “works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking.”Willard was one of the Kansas board’s most vocal proponents of intelligent design:

“Any introduction of any criticism of evolution or the consideration of it is a challenge to the blind faith in evolution that some people want to hold.” [PBS, ]

“I’m very pleased to be maybe on the front edge of trying to bring some intellectual honesty and integrity to the science classroom rather than asking students to check their questions at the door because it is a challenge to the sanctity of evolution.” [New York Times, ]

“What we’re dealing with here…is a high degree of fear of change.” [Washington Post, ]

But Willard’s positions remove intellectual honesty from the classroom. As the New York Times notes, there is “ to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. Courts have repeatedly ruled that creationism and intelligent design are religious doctrines, not scientific theories.” Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould said that teaching science without evolution was akin to teaching “.” A new Board of Education in Kansas recently , but now scientists fear that if Willard is elected to NASBE, “challenges to the teaching of evolution would .”

“Justice Clarence Thomas sat through 68 hours of oral arguments in the Supreme Court’s current term .” The last time Thomas asked a question in court “was Feb. 22, 2006, in a death penalty case out of South Carolina.”

“April may have seemed on the cool side in this country, but globally it was the third warmest on record (and the warmest April ever over land). In fact, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reports that ‘globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was the .’”

Shortly before the 2006 election, the U.S. attorney in Wisconsin, Steven Biskupic, went after Georgia Thompson, an aide to Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D). Biskupic accused Thompson “ to a firm whose top officials were major campaign contributors to Doyle.” The case was a boon to the Republican gubernatorial candidate in the 2006 election, who “ that purported to tie Ms. Thompson’s ‘corruption’ to Doyle.”

In a “,” the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the conviction in April “within hours of oral arguments due to a simple lack of evidence.” Federal Appeals Judge Diane Wood said that the “evidence [was] beyond thin.”

A new report in the Isthmus Daily Paper shows that Biskupic “repeatedly offered to go easy on her [Thompson] if she were to implicate others in the administration of Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle,” indicating that Biskupic’s case was based on partisan politics. Similarly, Thompson “ because she said she had no information” about improprieties in the Doyle administration:

“It was the only time in my career that, after the person was sentenced, the prosecutor has called to renew the discussion,” says [Thompson’s lawyer Stephen] Hurley, who’s been a criminal defense attorney for more than three decades. “I’ve never had that happen before.”

These offers, though not necessarily indicative of improper conduct, suggest that Biskupic and his staff prosecuted Thompson as part of a larger agenda, with potential political overtones.

Documents indicate that Biskupic went after the Bush administration’s political opponents to avoid the Justice Department’s list attorneys targeted for removal. In 2005, the Wisconsin state Republican party that attacked Biskupic for not going after voter fraud aggressively enough.

The Bush administration set out to replace U.S. attorneys in . In at least seven, “U.S. attorneys were fired or considered for firing as Republicans in those states urged investigations or prosecutions of alleged Democratic voter fraud.” It appears that Biskupic was able to keep his job because he was willing to go after the Bush administration’s adversaries on thin evidence.

After previously refusing a request to appear before Congress, “ex-EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman abruptly reversed herself Friday and agreed to testify before Congress on her agency’s response to …On Sept. 18, 2001, then-EPA head Whitman released a statement declaring the results from air monitoring tests in New York showed ‘their air is safe to breathe.’” It was not.

“The level of state-led censorship of the net is growing around the world,” according to a new study by Open Net Initiative. The report also “found 25 of 41 countries surveyed showed .”

The world’s next generation of Donald Rumsfelds will soon have a place to study and grow. Former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld “is working on setting up a new foundation” to “remain engaged in public policy issues” and offer “teaching and research fellowships for graduate and post-graduate students.” The Washington Times :

Rumsfeld has moved to new offices on M Street Northwest where he is working on setting up a new foundation, according to Larry Di Rita, a former Pentagon spokesman and Rumsfeld aide... The goal is to promote continued U.S. engagement in world affairs in furtherance of U.S. security interests, Mr. Di Rita said. Mr. Rumsfeld has not decided on writing his memoirs, but if he does, all proceeds would go to support the foundation, he said.

Some potential lessons Rumsfeld could offer his pupils:

– Winning A War In Under Six Months: “It is unknowable how long that conflict [the war in Iraq] will last. It could last six days, six weeks.

– How To Be Greeted As Liberators:“‘Do you expect the invasion, if it comes, to be welcomed by the majority of the civilian population of Iraq?’ Jim Lehrer asked the defense secretary on PBS’ The News Hour. ‘‘ Rumsfeld replied, referring to American forces.”

– How To Create The Perfect War Plan: “Of course the implication that there was something wrong with the war plan .”

– Armies You Have Vs. Armies You Might Want: “As you know, you go to war . They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”

– Locating Weapons Of Mass Destruction: “It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.”

No word yet on whether Rumsfeld’s foundation will be folded into the that President Bush plans to create. Bush told ABC News last year, “I’d like to leave behind a legacy — or a think tank, a place for people to talk about freedom and liberty and the DeTocqueville model of what DeTocqueville saw in America.”

Honking for peace gets you fired

When the student asked the question about taking part in demonstrations, Mayer said, she replied that there were peace marches in Bloomington, that she blew her horn whenever she saw a "Honk for Peace" sign, and that people should seek peaceful solutions before going to war. A student complained to her father, who complained to the principal, who canceled the school's annual "Peace Month" observance and told Mayer never to discuss the war or her political views in class.

Mayer, who had been hired after the semester started and had received a good job evaluation before the incident, was dismissed at the end of the school year. The school said it was for poor performance, but the appeals court assumed that she had been fired for her comments and said the school had acted legally…

Aren't peaceful solutions preferable to war? This is ridiculous on so many levels, but once again right wingers want to slam the door on any form of criticisms to this administration and the war–no matter how insignificant they are. Why would a student complain to her father about a teacher simply honking the horn in response to a question? And why would that father go to the principal? Intimidation plain and simple.

How low we have fallen White House defending Al Gonzalez against no confidence motion by as un-American.


May 21, 2007 - 6:59am