Filtered news 6/18

I'm quite fond of

Top Ten President Bush Global Warming Solutions:

10. Instead of "Partly sunny," have weatherman say "Partly cloudy"

9. Stop using Air Force One for Texas barbecue runs

8. Replace dangerous CO2 in the atmosphere with more eco-friendly CO1

7. Encourage people to walk more by distributing free Dr. Scholl massaging gel inserts. Are you gellin'?

6. Watch Al Gore movie one of these nights instead of "Dukes of Hazzard"

5. Bob Barker's free. Get him workin' on it

4. Send more troops to Iraq

3. I dunno, tax cuts for the rich?

2. Reduce hot air emissions by canceling "The View"

1. Resign

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Broken promises. After thugs blew up the twin towers at the Samarra mosque in Iraq this week, President Bush immediately pledged to rebuild it. Don’t hold your breath---he promised the same thing when they :

In the immediate aftermath of [the February, 2006] bombing, U.S. officials and others had promised to help rebuild the landmark dome, completed in 1905, but no rebuilding has begun.

What's the ? "Fool me once, shame on...shame on me. Fool me... Can't get fooled again." Wise man.

Major League Ass (HT to Media Matters for ) On Tucker Carlson's show Friday, he commented that he has "never met anybody less sincere than the religious left." He added, "You think that Falwell was cloying and phony, you haven't met the religious left." This comment came in response to former Rep. Tom Andrews' (D-ME) comment that a lot of religious people including evangelicals, are calling for caring for God's creation, a just foreign policy, and for government to take a firm, moral stand against poverty.

It would be great for Tucker to let the world know who exactly he is talking about on the "religious left."

Is he talking about any one of the leading evangelical leaders who signed the Statement last year? Those leaders include Rick Warren, the head of the National Association of Evangelicals, and numerous other leaders of highly respected organizations and churches. On a just foreign policy, is he talking about those who led the earlier this year, which included representatives of almost every major Protestant denomination? Or perhaps the Pope's opposition to the war is what Tucker meant by insincere! On poverty, is he talking about the , ...or or , who have devoted more than the last 3 decades of their careers to drawing attention to God's call that we bring good news to the poor? Or perhaps it's the folks at the ">Jewish Funds for Justice who are building grassroots congregational networks (surely of similarly insincere people) to fight for economic justice?

Those are just the issues on which Tucker specifically said progressive faith leaders were being insincere. We could easily expand the list of progressive faith leaders to include advocates for marriage equality, human rights, and immigration reform.

How about a segment with a religious leader challenging Tucker's accusation of insincerity of those he labels the "religious left"? There's been a lot of buzz about religious progressives lately-- this would give viewers a lively debate and a chance to come to their own conclusions about the sincerity of the commitment of religious leaders who focus on causes like the environment, the war and poverty.

I have a feeling that put up next to Tucker, these faith leaders won't have a problem coming off as sincere.

Bill Proenza, head of the National Hurricane Center, recently warned that spoke out and warned that the “federal government is that could be used to plug budget shortfalls hurricane forecasters are struggling with.” Because of his statements, officials are now “trying to muzzle him and .”

Fighting voter suppression This afternoon, Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wrote a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, calling on him to promptly investigate allegations that the Republican National Committee and its former research director Tim Griffin may have been involved in voter suppression tactics.

In 2004, BBC News published a report showing that Griffin, the who was in Arkansas, led a “caging” scheme to of African-American servicemembers in Florida. In response, Griffin said recently, “, I’m not a zookeeper.” Former RNC researcher Monica Goodling, who as a “direct-mail term,” acknowledged discussing concerns about Griffin’s involvement in caging with Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty in preparation for his testimony before Congress.

In their letter today calling for an investigation of the RNC’s voter suppression tactics, Kennedy and Whitehouse underscored the seriousness of “” and explained what it entails:

Caging is a voter suppression tactic whereby a political campaign sends mail marked “do not forward” to a targeted group of eligible voters. A more aggressive version involves sending mail to a targeted group of voters with instructions to sign and return an acknowledgment card. The campaign then creates a list of those whose mail was returned undelivered and challenges the right of those citizens to vote — on the ground that the voter does not live at the registered address. […] It is very disturbing to think that senior officials were aware of this practice and did nothing to refer their information to relevant officials within the Department for investigation and a determination as to whether it was a violation of a consent decree or law within the Department’s jurisdiction to enforce.

We, therefore, ask the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility to conduct an investigation to determine who in DOJ knew about Mr. Griffin’s potentially unlawful activity before he was named interim U.S. Attorney, and whether appropriate action was taken on that knowledge, and to recommend whatever action is appropriate.

At a time when the Department’s political independence and its commitment to enforcement of civil rights statutes have been called into doubt, it is vitally important that the Department thoroughly investigate these allegations of unlawful voter suppression, and the apparent failure of Department employees to forward to the appropriate authorities information they had about this practice.

Read the full letter .

"The idea of trying to blame Clinton is just wrong for many, many reasons,
not the least of which is I don't think he deserves it."
-- Rudy Giuliani, nine months ago, before he was a candidate

America needs leadership to remain on offense. We can fall back easily into
what the Democrats are talking about. It sounds very appealing, you know?
Don’t react, let things go, kind of act the way Clinton did in the ’90s."
-- Rudy Giuliani, 06/12/07, now that's he's a candidate,

Absolutely nothing. That's what will happen to all the heterosexual marriages in Massachusetts, now that the legislature has a proposed constitutional amendment banning the same-sex kind. All the straight hand-wringers will have to go on living with the fact that their futures will be affected not one whit by the decision. I hope the psychological counselors are on standby---some of these people may snap.

The color orange. Scooter Libby better get used to it, now that he's been ordered to while his lawyers try to get him out on appeal. And what can you say about Judge Reggie Walton except, "Dude!" By the way, pardon the BenGay smell---yesterday I pulled a gloat muscle.

The fascist mind of the neocon Thinking back over the blather last week over Sen. Reid's (D-NV) comments about Gen. Pace, it's quite astonishing that the White House could with a straight face attack Reid for questioning Pace's competence only day's after they'd fired him. Think about that. The White House fires Pace as part of its many-month effort to sack everyone from the Rumsfeld era at the Pentagon. And Reid is in hot water for questioning the man's abilities?

But setting aside abilities, politicians can criticize generals. That is after all the very nature of our political system. And it is a symptom of the deeply decayed and desperate state of the Iraq War debate that this is even a question. We are now far past the point of supporting the troops in their mission, ensuring that they are properly armed and protected, or anything else tied to respecting and honoring the overwhelmingly very young men and women who are paying with risk to their lives for the decisions we collectively make here at home.

Now apparently even criticism of the policy/strategy level command in Washington (this is after all what the JCS are) is beyond the pale, a sign of denigration of the military itself.

We can say whatever we want about double standards, that Sen. McCain (R-AZ) said even more to the face of the then-actual commander of American forces in Iraq (Gen. Casey) not long ago. But that's just a partisan distraction.

The real issue here is shaking ourselves loose from the degradation of our own civic and republican collective character that the war has brought us. Some principles are clear and worth repeating: You can't have a war for democracy fought by people whose principles are authoritarian and anti-democratic. It's not a throwaway line or a barb. It's the only pivot around which to understand the Bush years.

A few days ago, Andrew Sullivan linked to this by Glenn Reynolds previewing the coming claims that the war was sabotaged by the critics of the war who had more or less no power whatsoever during the entire prosecution of it.

But Reynolds' post and all his prefab reader emails should put us on notice that the architects of this and its dead-ender supports plan to lie their way out of this war just as they lied their way into it -- now whipping up a dust storm of rationalizations for their failures, imbecilities and lies much as the original entry into the conflict was floated on phoney claims about weapons of mass destruction and nonexistent ties between the past Iraqi regime and al Qaeda.

The only antidote to the advance of this sort of authoritarian mentality and strategy of organized lying that it is inevitably built on is the truth. Not that we can know the truth ourselves with any confidence or consistency. But we can take stock of the facts of the case as honestly as we can and speak them frankly. And that means breaking out of, ignoring, as many rhetorical bait and switch games as possible.

Not-so-new ideas Republican presidential candidate Jim Gilmore, writing about Iraq in the Washington Post, says that Democrats are spineless cowards who are "playing to the polls to obtain political advantage at home." Roger that.

I believe the only realistic alternative — the least bad option, if you will — is a limited deliberate drawdown of our military men and women and a redeployment of the forces remaining in the region to areas where they can more efficiently and effectively carry out a clearly defined mission.

I believe that the American military is on target when officers ask for a mission that includes maintaining — either at bases in Iraq at the request of Iraq or in bases in Turkey, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia — a military force powerful enough to launch special operations missions against al-Qaeda or Sunni insurgents in Iraq; train Iraqi troops to defend their own country; and guarantee the security of the Iraqi government, if so desired by Iraq.

Um, in exactly what way does this differ from the plan offered by all three of the major Democratic candidates? Hell, they'd almost be justified in suing Gilmore for plagiarism.

Quote of the day From White House flack Tony Snow, reacting to the news that "That is a whole lot of email." Sure, but most of it was probably just Viagra come-ons. So, you know, there was no real reason to bother archiving this stuff.

Helen Thomas: Are there any members of the Bush family or this administration in this war?

Liar Tony Snow: Yes, the President. The President is in the war every day.

Helen Thomas: Come on. That isn't my question.

Liar Tony Snow: If you ask any President who is a Commander-in-Chief --

Helen Thomas: On the front lines --

Liar Tony Snow: The President.

Corruption watch Federal grand jury Sen. Ted Stevens' (R-AK) ties to corrupt Alaskan oil company.

: sifting through Sy Hersh's latest in The New Yorker -- on Don Rumsfeld, the CIA black sites still in operation, and the special ops the Pentagon doesn't want anyone to know about.

Giving up, at long last, on WMDs Two weeks ago, the Washington Post that more than four years after the fall of Baghdad, the "United Nations is spending millions of dollars in Iraqi oil money to continue the hunt for Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction." Everyone fully recognizes that there are no weapons to be found, but bureaucratic hurdles keep inspectors where they aren't needed. "The inspectors acknowledge that their chief task -- disarming Iraq -- was largely fulfilled long ago. But, they say, their masters at the U.N. Security Council have been unable to agree to either shut down their effort or revise their mandate to make their work more relevant," the Post explained.

Two weeks later, good news: the pointless hunt is .

The search for Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction appears close to an official conclusion, several years after their absence became a foregone one.

The United States and Britain have circulated a new proposal to the members of the United Nations Security Council to “terminate immediately the mandates” of the weapons inspectors. Staff meetings on the latest proposal have already taken place, and officials say that the permanent Council members, each of whom has veto power, seem ready to let the inspection group — the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission — meet its end.

Two weeks ago, Feisal Amin al-Istrabadi, Iraq’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said, “This is really absurd. We’re approaching five years now of this exercise in futility."

Finally, the exercise appears ready to come to a merciful conclusion -- several years too late.

Rudy's myth takes another hit More New York firefighters emerge to slam Rudy and question his alleged 9/11 heroism. That and other political news of the day in .

Transportation Safety Asses. Long story short: woman with 19 month-old son goes through security with sippy cup containing a few ounces of water and gets :

I...was advised that I would have to leave security and come back through with an empty cup in order to retain the cup. As I was escorted out of security by TSA and a police officer, I unscrewed the cup to drink the water, which accidentally spilled because I was so upset with the situation. At this point, I was detained against my will by the police officer and threatened to be arrested for endangering other passengers with the spilled 3 to 4 ounces of water. I was ordered to clean the water, so I got on my hands and knees...

Great---al Qaeda wins again.

Lawbreaking lawmen. The FBI---that pillar of truth and justice---may have committed illegal acts "while collecting data about domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions in recent years by spying on Americans." I say the FBI should be allowed to continue their important work. From jail.

"Do you care if another bomb went off in Tikrit?
Does it mean anything? No! It doesn't mean anything."
-- Bill O'Reilly, (If it doesn't mean anything why are soldiers dying over there?)

See? We can all be sensible about gun violence Kudos to the House for passing an anti-gun-violence bill that would "require states to automate their lists of convicted criminals and the mentally ill who are prohibited under a 1968 law from buying firearms, and report those lists to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System." Note that the .

Can't we all just get along? Anyone who's been following the news this week is surely aware of the violence this week between the two Palestinian territories -- Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. The two are increasingly isolated from one another, and the phrase "" is increasingly used to describe the dynamic.

But how, exactly, are the two divided? What is the nature of the division? For those of us who occasionally need a primer on the history, the New York Times' Craig Smith and Greg Myre have a very helpful , which fleshes out the details. It's worth checking out.

"Cheney's getting a new pacemaker.
Doctors say Cheney will be up and
sneering in no time."
-- David Letterman

So easy a neocon could do it The fate of the (SCREA) may be decided this week. It was passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday, June 7, by a margin of 247 to 176, and includes the following three ethical restrictions handily illustrated below by :

  1. The stem cells were derived from human embryos that have been donated from in vitro fertilization clinics, were created for the purposes of fertility treatment, and were in excess of the clinical need of the individuals seeking such treatment.
  1. Prior to the consideration of embryo donation and through consultation with the individuals seeking fertility treatment, it was determined that the embryos would never be implanted in a woman and would otherwise be discarded.
  1. The individuals seeking fertility treatment donated the embryos with written informed consent and without receiving any financial or other inducements to make the donation.

     

Researchers at Boston’s Whitehead Institute they were able to produce stem cells from the skin cells of adult mice which behave almost like embryonic stem cells. Such a breakthrough might someday negate the need to produce practical treatments for every human affliction under the sun from discarded human blastocysts. If so, there would be less need to divert a few dozen actual human embryos from their appointment with a petri dish, thus allowing opponents to more easily justify 'saving' the cells -- so that the material can rejoin the other half million or so blastocyst Americans microscopic blobs which are incinerated each year.

Given the two outcomes and the potential benefits, one would think the calculation is so easy to make that even a neocon could do it. But 160 Republicans and 16 Democrats against the SCREA, against the majorityof the electorate, and agree with Mr. 28% who has to veto it.

"When Bush was in Albania, they named a street after him. During the ceremony,
Bush told the Albanians, 'I am honored to be standing here on Lame Duck Boulevard'"
-- Conan O'Brien

Homegrown terrorism From Frederick Clarkson at On July 29, 1994 Paul Hill, who sought to set a good example for Christian theocratic revolutionaries, assasinated abortion provider Dr. John Britton and James Barrett one of his escorts, and seriously wounding another, June Barrett, outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida. George L. Wilson of Children Need Heroes and Drew Heiss of Street Preach are planning to honor Paul Hill in a series of events called "Paul Hill Days" in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 26th - 29th -- "to honor him as God's man and our hero."

Why Milwaukee? Why not? There are people here who recognize Paul Hill as a hero, and we would love to welcome others from around the country who share our belief. Hopefully, in the future, others will host events in their cities.

Planned events include:

Activities at our two remaining killing centers

Literature distribution

Ministry at the Federal Courthouse

Reenactment of 7-29-1994

Paul Hill March

Ministry at other public forums

It should be noted that George L. Wilson, the proprietor of Children Needs Heroes, recognizes two other heroes he believes America's children should learn about: Shelly Shannon, who was convicted of the attempted assasination of Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, among other serious crimes, including a series of arsons; and of course, James Kopp, who was convicted in the sniper assasination of Dr. Barnett Slepian in Amherst, New York. Kopp is also the chief suspect in several other shootings.

This is that culture of life they keep talking about.

Corruption coverup watch House investigators have learned that the Bush administration’s use of Republican National Committee email accounts is far greater than previously disclosed — — and that the RNC has overseen “extensive destruction” of many of the emails, including all email records for 51 White House officials.

For the last several months, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been “investigating whether White House officials ” by using email accounts maintained by the RNC and the Bush-Cheney ‘04 campaign for official White House communications. Today’s findings confirm that the accounts were used “for official purposes, such as communicating with federal agencies about federal appointments and policies.” The report adds:

Given the heavy reliance by White House officials on RNC e-mail accounts, the high rank of the White House officials involved, and the large quantity of missing e-mails, the potential violation of the Presidential Records Act may be extensive.

Some other key findings:

– RNC account use far greater than believed: Despite White House spokesperson Dana Perino’s that 50 White House officials used RNC email accounts “over the course of the administration,” the committee learned that at least 88 White House officials had RNC e-mail accounts.

– Bush-Cheney 04 campaign stonewalling: The committee says it may need to “issue compulsory process” to force the cooperation of the Bush-Cheney ‘04 campaign. Despite providing at least eleven White House officials with email accounts, “the campaign has unjustifiably refused” to provide the Committee with even the most basic information about the accounts, including the number of e-mails that have been preserved.

– Destroyed RNC emails may be preserved by federal agencies. The RNC has preserved only 130 e-mails sent to Karl Rove during Bush’s first term and no e-mails sent by Rove prior to November 2003. “For many other White House officials, the RNC has no e-mails from before the fall of 2006.” Several federal agencies contacted by the committee have indicated they “have preserved official communications that were destroyed by the RNC,” but others have .

– Gonzales may have known about RNC account use. According to a , in 2001, then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales “may have known that White House officials were using RNC e-mail accounts for official business, but took no action to preserve these presidential records.” The committee calls for an investigation into Gonzales’ actions on this matter.

Read the full oversight committee report . The Gavel has . Christy Hardin Smith .

Just sayin' Whenever you hear the administration crowing about the progress the Iraqi parliament has made towards passing its oil law, .

Who supports the troops? In February, the Washington Post's Dana Priest and Anne Hull stunned the nation with an of the outpatient services at Walter Reed. Americans simply couldn't believe the treatment veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were receiving. The ensuing scandal led to three major among top Army officials.

Today, Priest and Hull add to the story with a on the treatment veterans with post-traumatic stress receive -- or in too many cases, don't receive. Take, for example, Army Spec. Jeans Cruz, who helped capture Saddam Hussein and who received a hero's welcome upon returning to the Bronx.

In public, the former Army scout stood tall for the cameras and marched in the parades. In private, he slashed his forearms to provoke the pain and adrenaline of combat. He heard voices and smelled stale blood. Soon the offers of help evaporated and he found himself estranged and alone, struggling with financial collapse and a darkening depression.

At a low point, he went to the local Department of Veterans Affairs medical center for help. One VA psychologist diagnosed Cruz with post-traumatic stress disorder. His condition was labeled "severe and chronic." In a letter supporting his request for PTSD-related disability pay, the psychologist wrote that Cruz was "in need of major help" and that he had provided "more than enough evidence" to back up his PTSD claim. His combat experiences, the letter said, "have been well documented."

None of that seemed to matter when his case reached VA disability evaluators. They turned him down flat, ruling that he deserved no compensation because his psychological problems existed before he joined the Army. They also said that Cruz had not proved he was ever in combat. "The available evidence is insufficient to confirm that you actually engaged in combat," his rejection letter stated.

This despite the abundant evidence of his year in combat with the 4th Infantry Division.

Cruz has trouble working, but even more trouble fighting the VA and the Army to correct his medical records and his personal file so that he might qualify for aid. "I'm pushing the mental limits as it is," Cruz said. "My experience so far is, you ask for something and they deny, deny, deny. After a while you just give up."

Of course, Cruz's case is not unique -- as many as one-in-four American troops return from Iraq "psychologically wounded." Unlike the Walter Reed debacle, which was largely a matter of breathtaking neglect, a variety of factors have created the mental-health problems for war veterans, including:

* Bureaucratic delays -- Massive backlogs prevent efficient treatment and make it easier for troops in need to fall through the cracks.

* Lack of trained professionals -- Licensed psychologists are leaving the military at a fast clip, in part because of the stress associated with treating pained soldiers. Troops who qualify for care end up with inexperienced counselors, who use "therapies better suited for alcoholics or marriage counseling."

* Stigma of mental-health problems -- Only 40 percent of the troops who screened positive for serious emotional problems sought help. Lt. Gen. John Vines, who led the 18th Airborne Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan, said countless officers keep quiet out of fear of being mislabeled, and many believe they will be denied future security clearances if they seek psychological help.

* Disability qualifications -- "To qualify for compensation, troops and veterans are required to prove that they witnessed at least one traumatic event, such as the death of a fellow soldier or an attack from a roadside bomb, or IED. That standard has been used to deny thousands of claims." The VA's chief of mental health explained, "One of the things I puzzle about is, what if someone hasn't been exposed to an IED but lives in dread of exposure to one for a month? According to the formal definition, they don't qualify."

It's a painful and sobering piece about veterans who deserve a lot better than what they're receiving. .

Published

June 18, 2007 - 9:29pm

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