Filtered news 6/7

How toxic is Dubya?

"John, the fact is, I opposed this war from the start.
So you are about 4 1/2 years late on leadership on this issue."
-- Obama, after Edwards accused him of lacking leadership,

Can't keep up? If, like me, you’re having trouble keeping track, go over to

GOP debate wrap up How is it that these guys manage to make 60 seconds seem like too long a time? Anyway: I'm a liberal and these guys are conservatives, so it's only natural that I'm not down with their message for America. But damn. They're just horrible. Their answers are so cliched and regurgitated that I mostly want to cry for mercy after about 10 or 15 seconds. Rudy on healthcare was so incoherent it almost made my teeth bleed. And I guess I didn't even hear the good part, where they all nodded along as Wolf Blitzer talked about nuking Tehran. But only with tactical nukes, so, you know, I guess that's OK. Somebody shoot me.

The man is a human PowerPoint presentation — it's almost scary.

Duncan Hunter would use nukes... but carefully.

Does anybody really believe religion is a "very important" part of Giuliani's life? He seems like the type who would make holy water sizzle.

Was he saying Bush causes cancer?

Someone needs to tell Mitt Romney what "null set" means.

Between his suggestion that we abolish St. Patrick's Day and his whining that he has to "Press 1 for English" on automated phone menus, he was easily the biggest d-bag of the night.

It's rare to see a fraud exposed quite as clearly in real time as the Republichameleon. So he's for making English the national language, but runs campaign ads in Spanish: an almost perfect representation of the plastic one's bullshit.

The question is Iran. Is it acceptable to talk to them? This is a boring question, so Blitzer spices it up by asking if it's okay to nuke them.

It's getting really annoying hearing you call me your friend, John. When did I become your friend? "My friend" is what Third World bazaar traders call me when they want to sell me overpriced tchotchkes.

Oh, lordy. Mark Kleiman making Mitt Romney out to be some kind of super-nerd who's possibly too smart for the presidency thanks to his deployment of the term "null set." Apparently, it hasn't dawned on them that Romney was misusing the term. While researching that topic, I learned something interesting. It turns out that the thing I was taught to call either "null set" or "empty set" is now supposed to be the exclusively. The purpose of this is to avoid confusion with a different concept, also called that comes to us from measure theory:

In measure theory, a null set is a set that is negligible for the purposes of the measure in question. Which sets are null will depend on the measure considered. Thus one may speak of "m-null sets" for a given measure m.

In neither sense, however, does what Mitt Romney said make sense.

"President Bush has repeatedly violated the law for six years."
-- Al Gore, plain talking and tellling the truth,

Gay bashing is a cash cow for Religious Reich In an interview with Powell’s book store, Sojourners founder and liberal Evangelical activist Jim Wallis spoke of with Focus on the Family on whether gays are really behind the breakdown of families:

[Powell’s]: The religious right, though, regularly claims that the "gay agenda" wants to destroy the family. That's where the hysteria comes in.

Wallis: But I've not found that. My gay friends are also friends with my family. And they're glad that we have a healthy heterosexual relationship and a healthy relationship with our kids. But they want to be respected too—their rights, their relationships—and not be scapegoated for things that have nothing to do with them.

I had this conversation with Focus on the Family, and I said I agree with you that family breakdown is a huge crisis, a serious crisis. And I don't think the Left talks about that enough. My neighborhood is eighty percent single parent families. You can't overcome poverty with that, with eighty percent single parent families. But how do we reweave the bonds of marriage, family, extended family, and community, to put our arms around the kids? And it's not just in poor neighborhoods. Kids are falling through the cracks of fractured family in all classes and neighborhoods. So I said to them, I want to rebuild family life and relationships, but explain to me how gay and lesbian people are the ones responsible for all that? which is what their fund-raising strategy suggests. And after about an hour and a half they conceded the point. They said, Okay Jim, we concede that family breakdown is caused much more by heterosexual dysfunction than by homosexuals. But then they said, We can't vouch for our fundraising department, which says a lot, I think.

Via .

Behind the veil Megan Stack writes in the LA Times today about

I spent my days in Saudi Arabia struggling unhappily between a lifetime of being taught to respect foreign cultures and the realization that this culture judged me a lesser being. I tried to draw parallels: If I went to South Africa during apartheid, would I feel compelled to be polite?

....The rules are different here. The same U.S. government that heightened public outrage against the Taliban by decrying the mistreatment of Afghan women prizes the oil-slicked Saudi friendship and even offers wan praise for Saudi elections in which women are banned from voting. All U.S. fast-food franchises operating here, not just Starbucks, make women stand in separate lines. U.S.-owned hotels don't let women check in without a letter from a company vouching for her ability to pay; women checking into hotels alone have long been regarded as prostitutes.

It's a good piece. Worth reading.

Deflating a couple 'o gasbags. Democratic congressman John Dingell and Rick Boucher greedily trotted out a House bill that would nullify state-mandated rules on reducing vehicle emissions. Nancy Pelosi promptly . Might want to flip on your emergency blinkers, guys.

Hanging themselves with their own Fox Noose Fox's Roger Ailes : "The candidates that can't face Fox, can't face Al Qaeda. And that's what's coming." I guess we at least agree about the nature of the organization? I guess he validates the theory you shouldn't negotiate with terrorists.

Welcome to the new cold war Is it possible that President Bush could bobble this back-and-forth with the Russians any worse than he has to date? Today the president managed to find himself answering a question in which he there didn't need to be a military response to Russian provocations. "As I said yesterday, Russia is not an enemy. There needs to be no military response because we are not at war with Russia."

I should think not.

What is the president doing exactly? Can he be set up with a minder? Can the whole White House be set up with one, for that matter? We need an escalation in tensions with the Russians at the moment? We don't have our hands full? Can someone step in and help the White House exercise any degree of competence in this situation? It's bizarre and embarrassing and even dangerous.

Robert Farley has a longish article up on The American Prospect website that does a brilliant job of in broader context and offering recommendations.

Your neocon media won't shut the hell up!

Via website: The “Prez-Dispenser” shows once again that Wolf Blitzer takes 1st place in last night’s GOP debate.

Null set I tuned in too late to hear Mitt Romney's "null set" answer last night, but apparently his algebraic illiteracy is nothing compared to his ignorance of actual events from four years ago. Here's his answer to a question about

Well, the question is, kind of, a non sequitur, if you will. What I mean by that — or a null set — that is that if you're saying let's turn back the clock and Saddam Hussein had opening up his country to IAEA inspectors and they'd come in and they'd found that there were no weapons of mass destruction, had Saddam Hussein therefore not violated United Nations resolutions, we wouldn't be in the conflict we're in. But he didn't do those things, and we knew what we knew at the point we made the decision to get in.

Question: does Romney genuinely not know that both the IAEA and Hans Blix's team had hundreds of inspectors in Iraq prior to the war? And that those inspectors found nothing? Or does he know it perfectly well and has simply calculated that no one in the media cares enough about this stuff to make a big deal out of a howler like this? In any sane world, this kind of thing would be enough to disqualify a candidate from running for dogcatcher, let alone president of the United States.

The pro-convict GOP slate With the convicted-by-a-jury-of-his-peers Scooter Libby sentenced to 30 months in prison today, we knew that the question of a pardon would come up in tonight’s GOP debate. Some of the candidates blew it off, but Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Sam Brownback supported a pardon and completely misrepresented the facts of the case, stating that there was no underlying crime in the outing of Valerie Plame. Obviously, they got before the debate. It’s now that Libby’s making it impossible to find the truth behind the leak. Oh, and the every ridiculous Tommy Thompson managed to sneak in a “Clinton did it” moment as well… (1542) | (1261) (367) | (776)

They looked pretty professional, actually -- a squad of men moving as though they were in Iraq, not Washington, D.C. All of them were wearing standard desert uniforms and their formation and spacing was solid. See for yourself . Although unarmed, they held their hands in the proper positions, as though holding M4s or M249s. They used standard hand-and-arm signals, and moved well. The group simulated various things during their "patrol," such as being hit by a sniper, reacting to an IED, taking prisoners, and other standard fare of real life in Iraq. What made them interesting to the press was that they were all veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan. Now, the Marine members of this troop are being called on the carpet by the Marine Corps. Despite the fact that they all have honorable discharges, the Marine Corps wants to call them back to duty, to be punished for wearing their personally owned uniforms in a political protest. . The Marine Corps, in turn, has really pissed off the VFW (the Veterans of Foreign Wars). You know that you have messed up badly and exceeded your authority when the VFW tells you to shut up and apply common sense. and also .

Restoring our constitutional rights Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on the to remedy the elimination of habeas that came through passage of the GOP’s Military Commissions Act last fall. shows how you can help. The wants to know why .

Holy crap …Since the winger slime machine is talking about it, let’s take a look at in the GOP’s God…The a church’s activities… is attempting to fulfill Joseph Smith’s mystical White Horse Prophecy…o, except it’s Hindu……The Catholic Church is no stranger to the court system when it comes to …Out of the …Mike Huckabee …A mere taste of their own and the godly are reduced to incomprehensible, frothing rage……Here’s an outfit calling for and the establishment of a society governed by Biblical law.

Hey, whatever works Fred Thompson just in time to debut new campaign for president.

Corruption watch New Abramoff guilty plea: ! For a backgrounder on Federici's role in the case, see the .

Stephen gives Scooter prison advice Since Stephen didn’t have a chance to , he instead gives Scooter some helpful advice for what to do on his first day in the pen. (4186) | (4291) (1640) | (2779) “Find Duke Cunningham and start your own prison gang. Call it ‘Los Elephantes’.”

Hopelessly out of touch. In the real world, one of Wolf Blitzer's questions at Tuesday night's presidential debate was a no-brainer:

"Recently we’ve learned that several talented trained linguists---Arabic speakers, Farsi speakers, Urdu speakers---trained by the U.S. government to learn those languages to help us in the war on terrorism, were dismissed from the military because they announced they were gays or lesbians. Is that, in your mind, appropriate?"

So naturally, in the face of overwhelming public and troop sentiment to the contrary, all 10 of the Republic party candidates (plus Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson in absentia) said, "" Reason: "just cuz, now shut up and get me a beer." Spoken like true card-carrying members of the daddy party.

Kinda like the last few "terrorist" arrests... About that Turkish incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan: apparently it .

The Army's new Stryker combat vehicles are taking a lot of damage. Now the Stryker is no small, weak toy. It is a fully armored combat vehicle which carries a squad of infantry in the back. It is large, fast, and more heavily armored than anything else on wheels. With eight wheels and a complete suite of armor, it is orders of magnitude beyond the up-armored HMMWV (the "Humvee"). And in Iraq, the bad guys are . Now despite what you might think, the salient point here is for folks to realize what we in the Army and Marines already know: that at the end of the day, no matter how much armor you have, no matter how many tons you pack on of rolled steel, if the other guy has access to enough explosives, he can kill you. This is some of the reason why while the new "MRAP" (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles are much better than the HMMWVs they will supplant or supplement, they should not be expected to be a panacea. We will still lose men in these new vehicles, no matter what. The hope, however, is that perhaps we may lose them at a slightly lower rate, for a while.

The tragedy of Col. Westhusing has been investigating the story, and he has .pdfs , , , and that paint a picture of a man tortured by the realization that our presence in Iraq was hopelessly corrupted and an unwinnable situation. Now consider this story from January of this year: .

"I believe the president is doing
the right thing, and I think all we
need is some attacks on American
soil like we had on 9-11 and the
naysayers will come around...."
--Arkansas GOP chief Dennis Milligan,

Lt Col Bateman writes: A little over a year ago, I wrote of the slaughter of my friend and translator . I failed her, because I could not get her asylum. We brought more than a million from Vietnam, and today they are Americans. We allowed in recently. Nice.

I note with some relief that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates informed both the U.S. Naval Academy graduates, and the Air Force Academy graduates, that the United States Congress and the media are not the enemy, they are not part of the problem -- they are both and integral to a functioning democracy. I leave it to others to note that there have been contrary opinions on this point made by others within our government, and I wonder if this means that Gates is leading among our civilian leaders, or in defiance of the mass.

Molly Ivins Moment (today's a twofer):

"[Americans] are a practical people and often quite shrewd. That means knowing when to cut our losses."

"Any nation that can survive what we have lately in the way of government, is on the high road to permanent glory."

the not-so-fab four. Jon Stewart weighs in on the letters of support that were revealed just before Scooter Libby was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences 2½ years at a maximum security prison lightly-guarded tennis camp:

"Scooter Libby received his sentence in spite of character reference letters from names like John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and Henry Kissinger. Or, as they're known: Those Four Assholes. John, Paul, Don and Henry. They're like a boy band without the credibility. Y'know who's my favorite? The dick'ish one."

Uh, Jon? That's Mary Matalin. Meanwhile Lawrence O’Donnell went on Countdown last night with some harsh words for all those .

(4264) | (2619) (1985) | (1425)

Lawrence O’Donnell: Now I’m waiting for every one of these letter writers, especially Kissinger, especially Rumsfield, especially Pace, I’m waiting for their letters to the court martials that are going on right now in the United States, young Marines who were put in impossible situations in Iraq, Keith, who find themselves on trials now that will jeopardize their freedom for the rest of their lives because of split seconds decisions they made in a war that they should not have been in.

When those kids get sentenced in their court martials, if they do, in this country, is General Peter Pace going to write a letter to their sentencers about what kind of mercy they deserve? Is Henry Kissinger who never ever saw a shot fired in his life, never spent a moment in battle, but was a champion of sending soldiers into battle in this country and to their deaths, is he going to write a letter asking for mercy for these American Marines who found themselves in this impossible war situation in Iraq, and now find themselves on trial for their lives? Who are the letters going to come from for them? (full transcript below the fold)

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(Read the rest of this story…)

Everybody's all atwitter because tried to jump in the Popemobile yesterday. Of course he did...he's the Pope!

Corruption watch : Follow the Coconut Road... to find $10 million in earmarks from Rep. Don Young (R-AK)!

Unless you secure the border, it is not right to give 12 million individuals who have illegal rights into this country status before that border is protected. There should be no amesty. And this bill, no matter how you cover it, is an amesty bill. - Tommy Thompson, doing what Tommy does best. Hey, Tommy: It's "amNesty."

Anal Eroticism Just try to resist

Neocon media clowns An enduring mystery is why our very serious mainstream media doesn't think it's a big deal when candidates perpetuate the falsehood that

Yet another government report showing that the Bush administration ignored critical pre-war intelligence in their rush to invade Iraq.

More troubling than Bush’s rhetoric is that of the Republicans who wish to succeed him. They’re saying things that are basically insane.

What country are we in? : Giuliani’s press secretary has a reporter arrested.

A darn fine question : "But, hey, at least Romney actually is a handsome, chiseled fellow. When they start going on and on about the babe magnet Fred Thompson or the hunky Giuliani I have to shake my head in wonder. There’s something wrong with them and it has nothing to do with being gay or straight. This is way deeper than that — so deep, in fact, that someone should do their psychology thesis on the subject. Why do so many male Washington courtiers have giggling mancrushes on phony Republican politicians? A question for the ages if there ever was one…"

Ignorance is deadly It may seem a little wonky, but the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) is a pretty important government report. As Dean Baker a while back, it’s the “only major longitudinal survey that tracks the same families over time…. [It is] especially useful for examining the impact of TANF, Medicaid, and other anti-poverty programs.” With poverty rising, more families declaring bankruptcy, and political fights over domestic spending on the way, the SIPP is the kind of report that can offer valuable information about the nation’s economic well-being. Naturally, therefore, the administration . ()

[P]roposed Bush administration budget cuts to the Survey on Income and Program Participation, known as SIPP, will significantly reduce the amount of information it generates for the next four years.

“We’ll have the statistical equivalent of a Katrina on our hands if the OMB [Office of Management and Budget] refuses to request funding for the SIPP,” Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “We need the SIPP to determine which government programs are working and how to best make use of taxpayer dollars in tight fiscal times.”

How bad is it? Even the Heritage Foundation believes this is a mistake. Once again, the administration would rather stick its head in the sand than deal with a problem.

Not really a shocker Jeff Trandahl, the gay former clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, yesterday revealed that “former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) had long sought to oust him from the job .”

This one either The Bush administration has mounted a defense of surgeon general James Holsinger’s 1991 , offering the :

“It should be noted that in 1991, homosexuals were banned from the military and several years before that, homosexuality and Haitian nationality were considered risk factors for HIV/AIDS.” said Health and Human Services spokeswoman Holly Babin. “Over the last 20 years, a clearer understanding of these issues has been achieved.”

Frank Lockwood of Bible Belt Blogger , “Of course, gays are still disproportionately impacted by AIDS in the United States. And gays are still banned from the military.”

When you screw Mother Nature.... “Los Angeles residents were urged on Wednesday to take shorter showers, reduce lawn sprinklers and stop throwing trash in toilets in a ” in the driest year “since rainfall records began 130 years ago.”

Slave labor for America! “Federal prosecutors are investigating the Kuwaiti company building the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, probing allegations that foreign employees were brought to work on the massive project .” Former employees say they were told “they were being sent to Dubai, only to wind up in Iraq instead.”

What country is this again? “Six human rights groups on Wednesday released a list of 39 people they believe have been secretly imprisoned by the United States and whose whereabouts are unknown, calling on the Bush administration .”

Pols kicking Paris while she’s down. While arguing with a witness about soldier protection at a House Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), buoyed his point with a harsh reference to the recently jailed celebrity heiress. “It is not an issue of contending with networks, who when they finish their discussion of the active protection system or the body armor, went on to their ads for erectile dysfunction or a murder or .” I can't say he's inaccurate....

A military panel recommended this week that Iraq war veteran Marine Cpl. Adam Kokesh, “who wore his uniform during an anti-war protest, , brushing away his claims that he was exercising his right to free speech.” While the Marine Corps was actively working to repudiate “opposition groups and individuals” like Kokesh, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was advocating — in his official capacity — on behalf of “Scooter” Libby. After Libby was convicted of “ examining the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity,” Pace endorsing Libby’s character, specifically noting his “selfless” nature and his penchant for examining decisions “legally and morally.”

I was always very impressed with Mr. Libby’s professionalism and his focus and attention to the matters at hand. He impressed me as a team player when addressing issues and with his selfless approach to his wide-ranging responsibilities. … From my perspective dealing with Mr. Libby on national security issues, he served the United States Government extremely well.

The administration appears to oppose the political advocacy of uniformed officers, except when they’re advocating on behalf of administration policy.

Congress Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) recently “paid a visit to students at Janesville Elementary School” in California last week and assured the seventh- and eighth-grade students that greenhouse gas emissions aren’t a problem: “I don’t think by man made energy sources is the problem, but I do think being held by unfriendly countries who have most of the worlds petroleum is a problem.” (The IPCC .)

Allegations of voter fraud have been a of the U.S. attorneys scandal, as the Bush administration has consistently “pursued an aggressive legal effort to in ways that favor Republican political candidates.” In 2005, , then U.S. attorney in Missouri, brought a suit against Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) “charging that her state had from registration rolls,” an alleged violation of the National Voter Registration Act. In April, after an 18-month lawsuit, Judge Nanette Laughrey of U.S. District Court in Missouri and :

Laughrey said it was difficult to gauge the scope of the problem “because the United States has not presented the actual voter registration lists and shown who should have been included or excluded and why.”

“It is also telling that the United States has not shown that any Missouri resident was denied his or her right to vote as a result of deficiencies alleged by the United States,” Laughrey wrote. “Nor has the United States shown that any voter fraud has occurred.”

But the DOJ refuses to relent, quietly continuing to push the debunked voter fraud allegations through the federal courts. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports today that the Department has announced that it will . In response, the exonerated Carnahan the DOJ’s stubborness in repeatedly chasing after her:

“I’m very disappointed that the U.S. Department of Justice seems determined to continue this unnecessary and costly lawsuit by appealing the recent federal ruling,” Carnahan said. “The judge who heard this case was clear and unequivocal that the Office of Secretary of State had done its job with regard to voter list maintenance, and even went beyond federal requirements to assist the county clerks and election boards with their responsibilities, and that there was no evidence of voter fraud in Missouri.“

The Missouri District court is not the only court that sees through the DOJ’s and Bush administration’s attempts to allege voter fraud on . Recently, a federal court ruled that an aide to Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) was wrongly convicted of public corruption. The federal court assailed the government’s case and said that U.S. attorney Steven Biskupic’s evidence was “.”

Dems talking faith I can't do a lot of detailed analysis right now, but I thought was dead-on:

If Monday night's forum “represented a significant shift in the faith discourse of our nation,” as Eric [Sapp] writes, someone should tell CNN. Based on their coverage of the forum they televised, CNN doesn’t seem to have changed at all. The network’s reporters apparently still think of Democrats as irreligious, and still think of “moral issues” as limited to abortion and homosexuality.

In their coverage of the forum, CNN anchors and correspondents repeatedly suggested that it was unusual to see Democratic candidates engage in expressions of faith. This is one of the basic myths about faith and politics that the media repeats over and over: Democrats are supposedly irreligious. But there's nothing new about Democratic candidates who are people of faith; in reality, you'd be hard-pressed to find a high-profile progressive politician – now or in the past – who hasn't spoken publicly of his or her faith....

Even after she watched a series of Democrats discuss their faith, CNN's Paula Zahn apparently couldn't quite believe it: she repeatedly suggested that the Democrats' faith might not be “authentic.” In one example, she asked the Rev. Jesse Jackson “do you think Democrats have been too timid about talking about their faith, Reverend Jackson, if it is, in fact, authentic faith?”

We can't have a reasonable and informative national discourse about faith and public policy in this country as long as the media continues to (falsely) portray Democrats as irreligious and openly question the authenticity of their faith.

Nor will we have that discourse until the media stops behaving as though “faith” means “opposition to homosexuality and abortion.”

Unfortunately, that assumption seemed to drive Zahn's questioning of Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, and Bill Richardson. Zahn interviewed the four Democratic presidential candidates about their faith as a follow-up to the forum, which involved only Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama.

Just minutes after listening to Jim Wallis criticize the fact that “We have had a very narrow, restricted conversation, as if there are only one or two religious issues,” Zahn treated viewers to ... a very narrow, restricted conversation, as if there are only one or two religious issues.

Zahn asked Dodd, for example, if he feels pressure to wear his “faith on his sleeve,” if he believes that “homosexuals are sinners,” and four questions about abortion (I’m including “Do you take communion,” as it was asked in order to set up the abortion questions.)

And those were all of the questions Zahn asked Dodd -- not a single question about Dodd's beliefs about anything other than abortion and homosexuality.

She asked Richardson about abortion, too – even asked him “Do you ever worry that, when you meet your maker, you're going to have to defend yourself?” for being pro-choice. Then she asked him if he thought homosexuality is a sin.

Zahn didn't ask a single one of the four candidates a single question about poverty, or about Darfur, or the environment, or the death penalty, or any of countless other issues on which the candidates views may be informed by their faith. But again and again she asked about abortion and homosexuality.

Delia Gallagher, CNN's “faith and values correspondent,” explicitly argued that the issues that matter to “value voters” are abortion and gay marriage. “Those are the standard, traditional value-voter issues,” she told viewers. “That's a bloc of voters that's not going to be swayed, probably, by the Democrats coming out and talking about faith, because, at the end of the day, they're going to say, well, where do they stand on the issues?”

It was great to see the Democratic candidates have some kind of opportunity to express their thoughts on the subject. But let's not kid ourselves: there is still a media narrative out there that say Dems are hostile to faith, and on the wrong side of The Issues, which are reduced to abortion and homosexuality. So while this forum was a step in the right direction, I'm not at all ready to declare a new era in effect. More on this later.


June 7, 2007 - 2:23pm