Filtered news 6/1

"At a press conference somebody finally stood up to Bush: a bird shit on him. Here's what is wrong with this man: he looked at it, and then wiped it off with his bare hand. And this is the guy who doubts that he descended from an ape." ---Bill Maher

"This week Dick Cheney's daughter, Mary, and her partner, Heather, had a baby boy. Afterwards, Dick Cheney teared up and said, 'I've been asking her to bring a boy home for thirty years.'" ---Conan O'Brien

"Experts said this is going to be a very busy hurricane season. To which FEMA said, 'Not for us.'" ---Jay Leno

"During a concert of the Virginia symphony at the 400th anniversary celebration of Jamestown, President Bush briefly took over conducting the orchestra. Which explains why the orchestra is now four trillion dollars in debt." ---Seth Meyers

"The [Iraq funding] bill contains a plan to establish 18 benchmarks. It's sort of like punishing your child by saying, 'If you don't get your grades up, you are grounded---unless, of course, you would like to go out. And by the way, you are grading yourself. And I keep the pot in the silverware drawer." ---Jon Stewart

GOP willing to kill you for Big Business You're not gonna believe this one. Oh wait, "The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease. " You read that right. The Bush "administration" will fight to keep meatpackers from testing their animals for mad cow disease. WTF? How does stupid crap like this always end up happening?

A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.

Great! Wonderful! Everybody's gonna want their meat from Creekstone Farms! Free enterprise at its best! Give the people what they want! Not so fast, says the "administration." The people can go Cheney themselves. But why? Why the hell would anyone get in the way of something like that? And on what grounds?

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well. The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.

Are you kidding me? I'm at a loss here. But thankfully, Rick Perlstein at .common sense

First, observe the contempt for liberty. When E. coli conservatives say self-regulation is preferable to government, they're even lying about that. Second, observe the contempt for small business. When a small company want to -- voluntarily! -- hold its product to a higher standard, the government blocks it, in part because bigger companies have to be protected from the competition, in part because a theoretical threat to the bottom line (false positives) trumps protection against a deadly disease. There's your conservatism, America: not extremism in defense of liberty. State socialism in defense of Mad Cow.

Of course, we knew this at the start Experts note that the Bush administration's hasn't worked: "a group of experts advising the intelligence agencies are arguing that the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable." And of course they are. These are the methods that have historically been deployed by authoritarian regimes looking to generate false confessions (think the Spanish Inquisition or Stalin) for the purpose of cowing the population into submission, they're not real investigative techniques.

Hitting too close to home for me Global warming is shrinking the Great Lakes, New Scientist reports. “Lake Superior, the largest body of fresh water in the world by surface area, is experiencing its .”

Molly Ivins Moment:

"I do make a rule to skip talk of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll---but when Mark Foley turns out to be the chairman of the House Committee on Missing and Exploited Children, you know you just have to sit down like a tired old dog and scratch for a while."

The president says so many stupid things about Iraq that it's sort of hard to know which ones to focus on. But in purely political terms if no others I would think the president's critics would want to focus in on what the White House said about how long the president thinks US troops should stay in Iraq.

By saying that Korea is the model for the US military presence in Iraq, the president is saying that he envisions the US military presence in Iraq continuing for many decades into the future.

Or let's put that in more stark terms, for most of you reading this post, the president envisions US troops remaining in Iraq long after you're dead.

Talking about drawdowns in late 2007 or by the end of 2008 is basically a joke, in other words. Countries can really only think on forty or fifty year horizons. So what this means is that the US military presence in Iraq is permanent.

As TPM Reader DS made clear in the , there's only one goal that makes sense of that strategy. And that is to permanently dominate the cluster of oil fields in southern Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran. Nothing to do with democracy, as though that needed saying. But also nothing to do with terrorism. We're permanently occupying Iraq to lock down the world oil supply.

But all that is commentary. The headline is clear enough to get the message out: the president wants US troops in Iraq for decades to come.

Giving the Prez a run for his money in the stupidity race Showing that there is no place safe from idiocy, here's an absolutely from NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. A statement so stupid, it makes the invasion of Iraq and the management of Katrina look like genius.

Michael Griffin NASA Administrator has told America's National Public Radio that while he has no doubt a trend of global warming exists "I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with."

Griffin confirms that global warming exists, and in fact only hours before NASA had issued a report showing that ice in the Arctic was being lost at higher rates than previously predicted. So what's behind Griffin's Qué será, será attitude? Is it a fatalistic view that we can't do anything about global warming? Nope.

In an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep that will air in Thursday's edition of NPR News' Morning Edition, Administrator Griffin explains: "I guess I would ask which human beings - where and when - are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."

There you go. Trying to stop global warming is arrogant. Who are you to say folks in Norway that they can't have palm trees!

The part that Griffin seems to be forgetting is the billions of people who would die if our current economy collapses due to sinking cities and shifting growing regions. Might the future inhabitants of tropical Greenland be happy as they gaze southward over the swollen sea? Maybe. But I'm not anxious to sink Miami to find out. Idiot.

Oh, and expect this to become part of the standard kit for those on the right. I give it ten hours before Rush gets around to "trying to stop global warming is racist." Start your stopwatch.

The censored stories of 2007 From comes a list of the top 25 censored stories of 2007. Did you know that the Pentagon is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act? Or that the Department of Homeland Security contracts with KBR to build domestic detention centers? Or that six to seven million people have died in the Congo since 1996? Project Censored has the scoop on all of those and more, so check out the link.

Why are we here? A soldier asks a question Excerpt: My name is Donald Hudson Jr. I have been serving our country’s military actively for the last three years. I am currently deployed to Baghdad where I have been for the last four and a half months. I came here as part of the so called "troop surge", but so far it has effectively done nothing to quell insurgent violence. I have seen the rise in violence between the Sunni and Shiite. This country is in the middle of a civil war that has been going on since the seventh century. Why are we here when this country still to date does not want us here? Why does Bush's personal agenda consume him so much, that he can not pay attention to what is really going on here?

With friends like these... “A Sunni police chief praised by U.S. forces for clearing his city of insurgents has been arrested following an investigation into , the U.S. military said Wednesday.”

"The commander-in-chief bears the
lonely, sometimes unpopular, but
ultimate responsibility to preserve
freedom through generations."
-- Dubya, always the victim,

Silence! Silence, please! David Broder---the sage oracle of American journalism---is about to about when the occupation of Iraq will come to an end. Please, sir, we know you have come far and your bones are weary. But tell us...when will unicorns roam free in Mesopotamia, allowing our brave young soldiers to return to their kinfolk in the village?

"I think that time is coming soon."

Sacrifice the goats and prepare the welcome feast! Our long national nightmare is over!

CNN proves Al Gore's point Last week, Al Gore appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live and offered of the media’s obsession with “trivialities” rather than important issues that affect our collective future:

GORE: In a lot of the news media, the line between entertainment and news is now very blurred, and a lot of news organizations feel the need to run polls and conduct focus groups the same as politicians now. And so we get a lot more of Anna Nicole Smith’s funeral arrangements and Paris Hilton’s legal battles on her jail term than we get about how we can solve the climate crisis and how we can get our troops out of this civil war they are trapped in, in Iraq.

Confirming the central thesis of Al Gore’s criticism of the media, this morning CNN announced the hire of a new reporter who will “be , as well as the Michael Jackson memorabilia”:

KIRAN CHETRY: Britney Spears, she’s blogging — that’s what they do these days, the celebrities — about her trip to rehab, about hitting rock bottom, and about what she really thinks her troubles are. … And joining us to talk more about that this morning is Lola Ogunnaike. … You’re going to be covering things like Britney, as well as the Michael Jackson memorabilia.

OGUNNAIKE: Yes, I’ve got the Britney, Lindsay, Michael Jackson memorabilia beat.

OK, this is cool :

The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing Company, on behalf of three victims of the United States government's unlawful "extraordinary rendition" program. The lawsuit charges that Jeppesen knowingly provided direct flight services to the CIA that enabled the clandestine transportation of Binyam Mohamed, Abou Elkassim Britel and Ahmed Agiza to secret overseas locations where they were subjected to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

In addition to filing this lawsuit on behalf of these three–two of whom remain imprisoned–the ACLU has also filed a petition for Supreme Court review of the . You think the Roberts court will agree to hear it?

DDT and Philip Morris Is DDT a banned substance? Answer: for widespread agricultural use, which produces increased resistance in many insect populations, yes. For vector control (primarily to contain mosquito-borne malaria), no.

For the last decade or so, however, a group of right-wing "sound science" advocates has been implying that the agricultural ban on DDT is really a blanket ban and that millions of poor Africans have died as a result. Why? DDT isn't patented and is only minimally profitable, so it's not as if the DDT industry is bothering to push this. So who is?

Short answer: the tobacco industry. Surprise! Turns out that the DDT disinformation campaign was really an effort to discredit the World Health Organization, which was planning a major anti-smoking initiative back in 1998. Discredit WHO on malaria, and you discredit WHO on its anti-smoking activism. And all the while you get to look like you're standing up for millions of impoversished black Africans. Neat, eh?

Follow the links for more.

Corruption watch You know things are bad for a lawmaker when you start hearing the "not a target" line. Which means for Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK).

Yawn Fred Thompson confirms it: He's . (And the knock Obama for his supposed lack of experience.) Greg notes that maybe hasn't been paying too much attention to politics of late. He finds this in Thompson's interview:

On Iraq, Thompson voted to authorize the invasion in 2002 and now opposes setting a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops. Still, his fortunes aren't as inextricably tied to the war as those of McCain, one of the war's leading defenders. In any case, Thompson argues that Republicans lost control of the House and Senate in November not because of the war but because of out-of-control spending and unrestrained partisanship. What's surprising is that Democrats didn't gain more ground, he says. "It's been kind of a pox on both your houses," he says.

This is the last great hope for the GOP presidential prospects? Um, ok.

Let's hope that dog hunts The Justice Department's internal watchdogs have expanded their probe of the U.S. attorney firings. , it's clear that they're looking far beyond the firings themselves -- or even just what Monica Goodling or Kyle Sampson were up to. The probe will investigate the politicization of the department in a number of other areas.

Older workers One of the oddities about the center-right consensus that we need to make public policy less generous to old people is that the purveyors of said consensus are presumably more familiar than I with the logic that makes corporate America .

A correction of an earlier post At the end of a post (which I sent you in our last edition) where he freaks out over a preposterously inappropriate way of measuring the federal deficit,

I also noticed in my latest letter from the Social Security Administration that, as currently configured, I'll get 76 percent of what I'm due if and when I retire. My bet is that it will turn out to be less than half. The boomers are going to hog all of it for themselves.

Please. Just stop it. Assuming Wikipedia has his age right, Andrew will turn 65 in 2028. Even if we do absolutely nothing, CBO estimates that Social Security will pay out Andrew will be 90 years old at that point. What's more, a very modest tax increase starting a decade from now combined with a very modest slowdown in benefit growth will keep the system solvent forever.

This is grade school arithmetic, and the basic data is available with no more than a few minutes of googling. Can we please knock off the scaremongering on this subject?

Gimme dat ol' time religion! Evangelical Christians believe that they are saved by faith, not deeds. Given the belief that they are not judged by their acts, their beliefs do not stop them from

Evangelical teens are actually more likely to have lost their virginity than either mainline Protestants or Catholics. They tend to lose their virginity at a slightly younger age—16.3, compared with 16.7 for the other two faiths. And they are much more likely to have had three or more sexual partners by age 17: Regnerus reports that 13.7 percent of evangelicals have, compared with 8.9 percent for mainline Protestants.

A look into the wingnut mind Last night on CNN, argued that “openly gay people” should not be allowed to serve in the military, advocating the military’s current Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. He argued that gay soldiers are unable to “focus” on the war, comparing gays in the military to himself in a platoon of “Hooters waitresses.” He stated, “[F]or example, if you put me in a platoon with nothing but, let’s say, Hooter waitresses, that’s going to distract me, and I’m not going to be focused on winning the war. I am going to be focused on other things.” Smith gives no evidence for his claim that gays are unable to “focus on winning the war.” His analogy makes light of the work being done by U.S. troops by comparing them to Hooters waitresses, who serve food and beverages in skimpy outfits. Smith has never served in the military. Jon Soltz, an Army captain who served in Iraq in 2003 and founded VoteVets, called Smith’s comments “ridiculous” and said, “There’s gay people that serve with us when we’re in combat. They serve well.” Other members of the military also disagree with Smith. Last December, a Zogby Interactive poll of servicemembers who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan found of those polled were “comfortable with lesbians and gays.” A 2004 poll found that a believed gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military, up from 16 percent in 1992. AMERICAblog’s John Aravosis also appeared in the segment and discussed the military’s policy of firing Arabic-speaking servicemembers just because they’re gay, even though there is a severe shortage of such linguists. Watch the full segment .

Another look into the wingnut mind Stephen Bennett, a spokesman for the Concerned Women for America, reacts to the : “Heather Poe is Mary Cheney’s live-in lesbian lover. … Heather Poe is NOT the baby’s real parent. … If the Vice President and his wife Lynne are joining their daughter Mary in then all have chosen their roles and designated lesbian lover Heather Poe as the ‘Daddy.’ … We are all grown adults. Playing ‘house’ is a game for children, not for The White House or the Vice President and his wife.”

Freddie's groupies It really is hilarious how right-wingers can whip themselves up into a frenzy about "Liberal Hollywood," but shriek like little girls when a Hollywood celebrity winks at them. But, since it worked for Reagan, Schwarzenegger, and Bono, the Republicans are setting their sights on a new celebrity, Fred Thompson. Here’s what his ads should look like :

It's gets more spooky every time we look in.... Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) blames U.S. troop deaths on Congress’ Iraq debate. “Al-Qaida knows that we’ve got a lot of wimps in Congress,” DeMint said at a luncheon Tuesday. “I believe about how we’ve got to get out, we’ve got to cut and run.” He later added that while Iraq has “gone badly and it’s a mess, it would have been worse if we hadn’t gone in.”

“Life these days for Gov. Jim Gibbons of Nevada might ,” the New York Times reports.

In the last few months, Mr. Gibbons, a Republican, announced a plan to turn coal into jet fuel to raise money (problematic, as Nevada has no coal to speak of) and proposed paying for a $3.8 billion shortfall in highway construction money by selling water rights under state highways (it turns out the state did not actually own the rights).

He told a local editorial board he could not pronounce the name of his energy adviser because she was “Indian” — she is Turkish — and vetoed a bill that would stop budget-busting tax breaks for builders of “green” buildings before issuing an executive order to end them anyway (with the exception of four companies).

Mr. Gibbons is the into whether he failed to report gifts from a military contractor while serving in Congress. The governor, who would not be interviewed, has denied wrongdoing, and once suggested that who have written about his troubles with the F.B.I.

No one accuses Gibbons of being uncreative. During his gubernatorial campaign, he said that “liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals” ought to be used as human shields in Iraq.

Why does GOP hate Democracy so? One of my first introductions to how aggressively the post-2000 Rove GOP was going to use bogus 'vote fraud' stories to stop minorities from being able to vote came in the extremely close South Dakota senate race back in 2002. That was when Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) barely squeaked out a victory over Jon Thune (R). Thune, of course, came back two years later and defeated South Dakota's senior senator and then Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D). If you go back and look through the you'll find a decent cross section of the reporting and writing I did on the subject in the spring and summer of 2002.

It was a riveting and also profoundly disgusting story. The whole rightwing noise machine from Sioux Falls to the Journal OpEd page spreading tales about the rampant vote fraud on the state's Indian reservations. For folks more familiar with how this stuff works in the South it was reminiscent of something from early in the 20th century or late in the 19th. And the aftermath was a lot like the cases we've learned about in the aftermath of the Attorney Purge. Lots of lurid stories and in the end usually it's left to some reasonably honest Republican officeholder to scrutinize the whole thing and have to announce that all the stories were bogus.

In any case, I mention all this because the has a good article out this evening explaining one of the key reasons that former Minnesota US Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger ended up on the firing list: took too strong a stand in favor of protecting the voting rights of the state's sizeable Native American population.

The state's Republican Secretary of State wanted to use her office to crack down on Native American voting. But apparently Heffelfinger wouldn't play ball.

Remember the Rove/Gonzales motto: Just because there's a doesn't mean we have to take it lying down.

Necon media scraping the bottom of the barrel. So last night we're watching Hardball, and who does Chris Matthews have on to talk about Homeland Security? The former head of the Arabian Horse Association and Loser of A Major U.S. City, . And coming up tonight: Monica Goodling spells out the ABCs of legal ethics.

G.I. Joe. Private Lieberman dropped in on Baghdad yesterday and said the bad guys . He had to wear body armor and surround himself with U.S. troops while he said it...presumably because he didn’t want to get trampled by the stampede of bad guys fleeing. And the Republic is saved again.

Deja vu in Iraq Turned corners! Last throes! Magical September! Finally some sign of real progress for

The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The September projections finally come through! We're saved at last!

American officials emphasized that any withdrawals would depend on continued progress, including the development of competent Iraqi security forces, a reduction in Sunni Arab hostility toward the new Iraqi government and the assumption that the insurgency will not expand beyond Iraq's six central provinces. Even so, the projected troop withdrawals in 2007 are more significant than many experts had expected.

Of course! Of course! But what a breakthrough! Thank you, General Petraeus!

General Casey's briefing has remained a closely held secret, and it was described by American officials who agreed to discuss the details only on condition of anonymity. Word of the plan comes after a week in which the American troop presence in Iraq was stridently debated in Congress, with Democratic initiatives to force troop withdrawals defeated in the Senate.

So true. So very true. But General Petr... hey, wait a minute. General Casey? That guy was fired already! What's the date on this article, anyway? Ah. This is from last June! My bad. Now back to your regularly scheduled destruction of the world's greatest fighting force and only remaining superpower.

To small minds, it's a

Bill O'Reilly: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you're a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right. So I say you've got to cap with a number.

John McCain: In America today we've got a very strong economy and low unemployment, so we need addition farm workers, including by the way agriculture, but there may come a time where we have an economic downturn, and we don't need so many.

[crosstalk]

O'Reilly: But in this bill, you guys have got to cap it. Because estimation is 12 million, there may be 20 [million]. You don't know, I don't know. We've got to cap it.

McCain: We do, we do. I agree with you.

The Deadly John Wayne Myth Excerpt: According to Gary Wills’ book “John Wayne’s America,” the man who portrayed the archetypal, battle-hardened Marine, Sgt. Stryker, in 1949’s “The Sands of Iwo Jima,” actually avoided the draft during WWII. Wills contends that the Duke did not reply to letters from the Selective Service system, and applied for deferments. Apparently, Wayne got his big break during the struggle against fascism when many Hollywood action heroes like Tyrone Power enlisted and shipped out overseas. With much of the competition away in the Pacific and European theaters, Wayne was able to storm movie theaters to solidify his stardom. While Jimmy Stewart and his fellow celebrity servicemen were real action heroes, Wayne was a “Lights! Cameras! Action!” hero who merely played the part in the safety of Tinseltown’s home front and back lot. (Note: I thought everyone already knew this. From the reaction it's getting, it's clear I was wrong.--Russ)

Anyone thought otherwise? Fired McCain evangelical outreach campaign aides: Campaign , no long term commitment.

Tsk, tsk. It's amazing how picky people are nowadays. A big oil company whose executives have been indicted for bribing multiple Alaska politicians can't even be in charge of renovating the state's senior senator's house without people making it like there's something fishy going on. Find out about .

Who supports the troops? From yesterday's White House :

Q Tony, the governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland, has written a couple of letters to President Bush, I don't know if you're aware of them, but he's asking for personal assurances from the president that the National Guard troops, before they get deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, the equipment be there and that the training be adequate before they're sent off.

MR. SNOW: OK. I'm not aware of the governor's letter, but we have always made it clear that nobody goes into combat without sufficient training and equipment, period. Now, a lot of that can be done in theater. It quite often is. But the most important reassurance, not only the forces, but their families need to know, is that if and when they go into combat, they will have the equipment they need, and they will have the training they need.

If and when they go into combat? Iraq is the . Driving down the is going into combat. The White House gave this "important reassurance," but their words are meaningless and once again it is the troops they so often claim to support who will pay the price.

Sorry for the people; happy for the party :

 

The Republican National Committee, hit by a grass-roots donors' rebellion over President Bush's immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors, Ralph Z. Hallow will report Friday in The Washington Times.

Faced with an estimated 40 percent fall-off in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff last week and told them they were out of work, effective immediately, the fired staffers told The Times.

Killing a wingnut e-hoax There's a joke (?) going around the Internet these days, that reads as follows: Many will recall that on July 8, 1947 witnesses claimed that an unidentified object with five aliens aboard crashed onto a sheep and cattle ranch outside Roswell, New Mexico. This is a well known incident that many say has long
been covered up by the U.S. Air Force and the Federal Government. However, you may NOT know that in the month of March 1948....exactly nine
months after that historic day:

* Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.
* Hillary Rodham;
* John F. Kerry;
* William Jefferson Clinton;
* Howard Dean;
* Nancy Pelosi;
* Dianne Feinstein;
* Charles E. Schumer and,
* Barbara Boxer

were born.

See what happens when aliens breed with sheep... This piece of information may clear up a lot of things.

The thing is, it'd be funnier if it were closer to true. Or if even one was true! Gore was closest, but even he didn't make the cut. See below. --Russ

Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., 31 March 1948 (not "exactly nine months after that historic day" of July 8)
Hillary Rodham, 26 October 1947
John F. Kerry, 11 December 1943
William Jefferson Clinton, 19 August 1946
Howard Dean, 17 November 1948
Nancy Pelosi, 26 March 1940
Dianne Feinstein, 22 June 1933
Charles E. Schumer, 23 November 1950
Barbara Boxer, 11 November 1940

Published

June 1, 2007 - 8:36am

Author