Filtered news 7/19

Must watch video This
video piece by Max Blumenthal is such a work of genius that I've got to post it.
It's Max spending some quality time at the National College Republican
Convention last week.
I'm serious. Watch it.


Editor note - I thought this deserved to be embedded here. 

You'll thank me. This one's pretty damned funny too ...

Neocon media at play In
response to Bill Kristol's untethered-from-reality op-ed in the Washington
Post last Sunday,

On Sept. 18, 2002, he declared that a war in Iraq "could have terrifically
good effects throughout the Middle East." A day later, he said Saddam Hussein
was "past the finish line" in developing nuclear weapons. On Feb. 20, 2003, he
said of Saddam: "He's got weapons of mass destruction.... Look, if we free the
people of Iraq we will be respected in the Arab world." On March 1, 2003 — 18
days before the invasion of Iraq — Kristol dismissed the possibility of
sectarian conflict afterward. He also said, "Very few wars in American history
were prepared better or more thoroughly than this one by this president." He
maintained that the war would cost $100 billion to $200 billion. (The running
tab is now about half a trillion dollars.) On March 5, 2003, Kristol said,
"We'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass

You'd think that would have been enough to embarrass Kristol into
lying low for a while. But, of course, you'd be wrong. Very, very,

Simple. Really. The
conclusion of this : "Looking back over a quarter of a century of chronicling
current affairs, I cannot recall a more comprehensive and avoidable man-made
disaster." This is the basic point, but it's also something that has not
penetrated the brains of the Very Serious People who rule our elite discourse.
They f*cked up. Lots of people died. Lots of people continue to die. Each of
them, in their own little way, contributed to this "comprehensive and avoidable
man-made disaster," and most of them are unwilling and unable to face up to that
fact. This is truly the era of Bush, where accountability is for suckers, and
I've come to conclude that's pretty much the dominant cultural fact of elite

Dumb Dem Gov inn
Wisconsin In Wisconsin,the , in Waukesha County, to "launch negotiations with the Milwaukee
Water Works [grab your chair] for the purchase of Lake Michigan
water for use outside the Great Lakes basin." New
Berlin's mayor is very happy while Rep. Jon Richards and all thinking people are
unhappy. As Richards said, this violates the pending federal compact that would
protect this fantastic resource. For heaven's sake, has Gov Jim Doyle (D) lost
it? Scott Hassett would not write that letter without clearance by Susan Goodwin
and the governor. Would it be asking too much for Jim Doyle and Scott Hasset to
explain? And, if water is sold to New Berlin, can we deny Arizona and Nevada the
same right? And will Wisconsin thumb its nose at Canada and the other states
bordering the Lakes?

All nighter Maybe you
had a life and weren't able to stay up all night last night to watch the GOP
filibuster on the Iraq withdrawal bill. But with the help of TPM Readers who did
we've put together a highlight reel of some of the best or just, well, some of
the choicest moments (there's some really good stuff). At one point, right at
the end of the segment, Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) gets so wound up about how good
things are going in Iraq that he appears to waver momentarily in his opposition
to gays in the military. Take a look ...

Now she tells
us! From Maria Bartiromo's interview of Condi Rice in the
current issue of :

MB: Would you consider a position in business or on Wall

CR: I don't know what I'll do long-term. I'm a terrible long-term

One very sick man At a
College Republicans gathering, former congressman Tom DeLay attempted to : “I contend [abortion] affects you in
immigration,” DeLay told the Washington-area gathering. “If we had those
40 million children that were killed over the last 30 years, we wouldn’t need
the illegal immigrants to fill the jobs that they are doing today.
Think about it.”

Rupert Murdoch’s potential takeover
of Dow Jones, parent company of the Wall Street Journal,
is worrying many employees. “There’s a real culture of passion for the truth,
for shining lights in dark places,” said a reporter. “The overwhelming view here
is that under Murdoch, that gets compromised from Day One, and that .”

"Bill Kristol credits Bush with preventing a
second terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Ever since I bought this tiger-repelling rock I have not been
attacked by a tiger,
hence the rock is
clearly working."
-- e-mailer from Alexandra, VA

Well, the majority didn't get the
president they wanted either... “While Senate Republicans on
Wednesday blocked a Democratic bid to force a vote on U.S. troop
withdrawals from Iraq,” a new CBS/NYT poll finds that 61 percent of
Americans say “the war should be funded .”

The troops' opinions don't count
either Number of readers (the nation’s largest military and
veteran membership organization) who “believe the . … More than 40 percent
of the respondents agreed the pullout should begin immediately because ‘we’re
wasting lives and resources there.’” The results “stand in sharp contrast” to a
June 26 poll in which 60 percent of respondents “agreed the surge should be
given more time.”


“Contractors hired to clean up after Hurricane Katrina are fuming over
delays in getting paid by Federal Emergency Management Agency,”
with some owed as much as $150 million. “In hard-hit St. Bernard Parish, local
officials expressed concern that the ” on upcoming major
reconstruction projects.

"Bush is one of the most recklesss enemies of
conservatism. It is a conservative

duty to expose and restrain him from any more mischief in his final

-- Andrew Sullivan,

Repugs Sens. John McCain (R-AZ)
and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) raced to the television cameras this afternoon to offer
hyperbolic attacks against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, following Reid’s
decision to from consideration. McCain and Kyl
were quick to dishonestly politicize Reid’s maneuver, after
passage of the bill over opposition to an Iraq redeployment amendment:

MCCAIN: What have we done by not passing the Defense Authorization bill? We
are not allowing a 3 1/2 percent pay raise to men and women in the military.
We’re not modernizing their equipment, including MRAP. We are not passing the
wounded warriors legislation, which we all know is vitally needed to care for
our wounded veterans. We have placed the care of our wounded veterans in
a lower priority than a debate over Iraq.

KYL: It’s an act of petulance, it seems to me. But it’s also a very
wreckless and irresponsible action because the troops depend upon the Defense
Authorization bill passing. That’s what the bill authorizes…the care
that they get, the weapons that they get, the training and all the other things
they need to carry out the mission.

“It’s a commentary on where the priorities are of those who brought down this
bill,” fumed McCain. “It clearly cannot be the welfare and benefit and arming
and training of both of our active duty military and the medical care for our
veterans,” he added.

McCain and Kyl’s argument that Reid’s maneuver will deny pay raises,
equipment, and medical care to American troops is false on its face. Here are
the facts:

1) The troops have all the funding they need. The defense
authorization bill being debated in the Senate is for , which begins on October 1. Funding for the troops — — has already been earmarked through September
30th, 2007.

2) Conservatives are responsible for stalling passage of the
bill. While McCain claims that Reid “brought down this bill,” in fact,
Reid only resorted to pulling the bill after McCain and other pro-war senators
, refusing to allow an up-down vote on the Levin-Reed Iraq
redeployment amendment. In fact, in his floor speech this morning, Reid
specifically names McCain as one of “” using procedural moves to block the

Training our own killers
While the Iraq Study Group and the Bush administration believe that
training the Iraqi forces should be a top priority, Lawrence
Korb and William Odom argue that “training or equipping these forces is not a
solution.” “In effect . It is no accident that as the number
of trained Iraqi security forces has grown, so have attacks on coalition forces,
Iraqi civilians and the Iraqi security forces themselves.”

points out that Google’s spokesman, Australian Rob Shilkin, penned several
pieces four years ago . From a :

Yet the members of Australia’s anti-war brigade still refuse to accept that
this has all happened. Ever since the fall of Baghdad, they have been bitterly
carping from the sidelines. The current furore over Iraq’s “missing” weapons of
mass-destruction is the latest effort from among their ranks. This particular
issue has been dressed up as a debate on flawed intelligence reports.
But no one could sensibly assert that the West fabricated Saddam’s WMD

Valleywag adds, “Google, more than ever, needs brassy PR people who aren’t
afraid to , ignorance is freedom, and evil is good.”

It was conservatism. An explosion wracked midtown Manhattan, spewing asbestos, claiming
one life, panicking the city. Who needs al-Qaida when you have 83-year-old
underground pipes?

Cheney insanity watch Brad Plumer,
after looking over the names of the people Dick Cheney's energy task force met
with back in 2001,

Everyone knew he was taking marching orders from the American Petroleum
Institute. Everyone knew about Ken Lay. So why did Cheney keep these names
classified for six years — citing executive privilege and going all the way to
the Supreme Court to prevent Congress from knowing what went on. What difference
would it have made? Was he just being secretive for the hell of

Actually, I think the record on this is crystal clear. Ever since he was
Gerald Ford's chief of staff Cheney has believed that the post-Watergate
Congress stripped far too much power from the presidency and that someone needed
to restore it. That someone turned out to be him. Obviously he has a
considerable amount of self-interest in this project now that he's vice
president, but I also don't think there's any question that he genuinely
believes this as a matter of principle. His refusal to release the energy task
force schedule was almost certainly driven primarily by a belief that he needed
to reassert the prerogatives of a strong executive and that this was the best
place to start. So: not quite just for the hell of it. But

White House spy gets 10 years For
all the recent talk about Dick Cheney refusing to abide by a White House
executive order on handling classified materials, let’s not forget the case of

The former Marine at the center of the first case of espionage at the White
House in modern history was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday for
stealing and passing on top secret documents. “There’s no doubt you did betray a
position of trust that very few people are privileged to occupy,” U.S. District
Judge William H. Walls said to the spy, Leandro Aragoncillo, at the

As Josh Marshall recently , “To the best
of my knowledge this is the only known case of espionage taking place within the
White House. And it happened in Cheney’s operation…. The Cheney OVP seems to
have a serious issue safeguarding classified material — one so serious it has
led to two felony convictions.”

Simpson's cartoon confuses Fox
News viewers Matt Groening, the man behind “The Simpsons,” sits
down with Jon to plug his ,
and reveals how FOX prohibited him from using the faux news
crawl out of fear that it would confuse the mindless FOX News
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This week’s
that officials in the Office of National Drug Control Policy made politically
motivated appearances in the months leading up to the 2006 elections are only
the latest example of the Bush administration’s misuse of federal employees.

For example, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2003 that Karl Rove or his
top aide, Ken Mehlman, “ to outline White House campaign priorities, review
polling data and, on occasion, call attention to tight House, Senate and
gubernatorial races that could be affected by regulatory action.”

Partisan campaign or electoral activities on federal government property are
. This prohibition,
however, has not stopped the Bush administration from politicizing virtually
every agency under its control. Below is a quick review of the extent of the
White House’s efforts to politicize the federal agencies:

Office of Faith Based Initiatives: The office was “used
almost exclusively to win political points with both evangelical Christians and
traditionally Democratic minorities. The office’s primary mission, providing
financial support to charities that serve the poor, never got the presidential
support it needed to succeed.” [MSNBC, ]

General Services Administration: After a GSA meeting during
which White House deputy director of political affairs Scott Jennings gave a
PowerPoint presentation that included slides listing Democratic and Republican
seats the White House viewed as vulnerable in 2008, a map of contested Senate
seats and other information on 2008 election strategy, GSA Administrator Lurita
Doan asked how GSA could help “our candidates.” Special Counsel Scott Bloch has
since advised the President that Doan should “be disciplined to the fullest
extent for her serious violation of the Hatch Act.” [Congress Daily, ]

Department of Justice: “Unlike federal judges, immigration
judges are civil service employees, to be appointed by the attorney general
based on professional qualifications, not their politics. [During Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales’s aide Monica Goodling’s] tenure, vacancies were
apparently not always posted and she selected lawyers to be considered for
interviews based in part on their loyalty to the Republican Party and the Bush
administration.” [New York Times, ]

Department of Justice: “After the 2004 election,
administration officials quietly began drawing up a list of US attorneys to
replace. Considerations included their perceived loyalty to Bush and a desire by
White House political adviser Karl Rove to increase voter fraud prosecutions,
documents and testimony have shown. Most of the proposed firings were for US
attorneys in states with closely divided elections. Among those later fired was
David Iglesias, from the battleground state of New Mexico, where many of his
fellow Republicans had demanded more aggressive voter fraud probes.” [Boston
Globe, ]

Interior Department: “A midlevel Interior Department
official” received a “phone call from [Vice President Dick] Cheney in 2001,
setting in motion a secret move to undermine the science of federal biologists
who had said diverting water from the Klamath would violate the Endangered
Species Act and devastate two imperiled species of fish.” [The Oregonian, ]

Interior Department: Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and
Wildlife and Parks Julie MacDonald has consistently “rejected staff scientists’
recommendations to protect imperiled animals and plants under the Endangered
Species Act.” A civil engineer with no training in biology, she has “overruled
and disparaged” the findings of her staff, instead relying on the
recommendations of political and industry groups. [Washington Post, ]

Defense Department: “[T]he Pentagon’s public affairs
division has become a dumping ground for administration cronies…seek[ing] to
bypass the traditional media and work directly with talk radio and bloggers,
mostly those with a heavily conservative tilt.” [Harper’s Magazine, ]

Defense Department: “The Defense Department…has stepped up
intelligence collection inside this country since 9/11, which now includes the
monitoring of peaceful anti-war and counter-military recruitment groups.”

NASA: “The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush
administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture
last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked
to global warming…officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs
staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard [Institute
for Space Studies] Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.” [New
York Times, ]

Food and Drug Administration: “The top Food and Drug
Administration official in charge of women’s health issues…resigned in protest
against the agency’s decision to further delay a final ruling on whether the
‘morning-after pill’ should be made more easily accessible. ‘I can no longer
serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and
recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled,’
she wrote in an e-mail to her staff and FDA colleagues.” [Washington Post, ]

Health and Human Services: “An internal investigation by the
Department of Health and Human Services confirms that the top Medicare official
threatened to fire the program’s chief actuary if he told Congress that drug
benefits would probably cost much more than the White House acknowledged.” [New
York Times, ]

Health and Human Services: “The Department of Health and
Human Services recently revised its website,, and replaced factual
data designed to help parents talk about preventing teen pregnancy with biased
and misleading claims” reflecting administration policy. [NARAL, ]

Office of the Surgeon General: “The first U.S. surgeon
general appointed by President George W. Bush accused the administration on
Tuesday of political interference and muzzling him on key issues like embryonic
stem cell research.” [Reuters, ]

Environmental Protection Agency: In a government report on
the state of the environment, strong language that “climate change has global
consequences for human health and the environment” was stricken by the White
House, as was government research that suggests recent climate change is “likely
mostly due to human activities.” The changes were protested by EPA staffers, who
wrote in a confidential memo that the report “no longer accurately represents
scientific consensus on climate change.” [CBS, ]

Office of National Drug Control Policy: “At the request of
Sara Taylor, the former White House Director of Political Affairs, John Walters,
the nation’s drug czar, and his deputies traveled to 20 events with vulnerable
Republican members of Congress in the months prior to the 2006 elections. The
trips were paid for by federal taxpayers and several were combined with the
announcement of federal grants or actions that benefited the districts of the
Republican members.” [House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, ]

Corporation for Public Broadcasting: During his tenure,
former CPB chairman Kenneth Tomlinson “moved to address what he contend[ed was]
the left-leaning lineup of news programs at PBS by advocating the addition of
new shows with a conservative outlook.” He “failed to strike a proper balance by
infusing politics into so many decisions at CPB” and by “in essence, allowing
the White House to help direct plans of the CPB.” According to Jeffrey Chester,
executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, this extreme
politicization was “unprecedented.” [National Public Radio, ]

Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Congress for more funds for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs),
which are “designed to withstand the underbelly bombs that cripple the
lower-riding Humvees,” such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), “” in Iraq.

Gates’ request for the vehicles “comes about for” MRAPs. Last month,
Gates claimed that he had from reading a newspaper
article, even though the and the Pentagon had tested them in 2000.

Gates’s announcement follows similarly misleading excuses from high-ranking
Pentagon officials, including then-Marine commandant Michael Hagee and former
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard B. Myers:

Hagee: “Instead of granting the request, then-Marine commandant Michael Hagee decided that June to buy
more armored Humvees,” according to a USA Today report. Hagee ingnored
the commanders’ request because “IEDs…were not a pronounced threat at the
time.” But Newsweek has reported that, in 2004, President Bush said
that “,” and Central Command figures show that “in 2004
there were 5,607 IED attacks [and] in 2005, there were 10,953.”

Myers: Myers has said buying MRAPs “was not on the radar
screen when I was chairman,” between Oct. 2001 and Oct. 2005. E-mail
records, however, show that “As early as December 2003… about the superiority of the vehicles to
the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” In fact, one Pentagon analyst complained to a
colleague that it was “frustrating to see the pictures of burning Humvees while
knowing that there are other vehicles [MRAPs] out there that would provide more

As Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Kit Bond (R-MO) pointed out in a letter to
Gates last month, if the Pentagon had stopped making excuses and starting
producing MRAPs, “” killed in IED attacks might still be alive.

Entertainment II: Stephen
Colbert defends the in the Senator Vitter scandal…Senator Vitter.
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Ouch. You know you’re
losing your base when a
organization is openly scrutinizing not only your leadership, but your

The Pittsburgh newspaper owned by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon
Scaife yesterday called the Bush administration’s plans to stay the
course in Iraq a “prescription for American suicide.”

The editorial in the Tribune-Review added, “And quite frankly, during
last Thursday’s news conference, when George Bush started blathering about
’sometimes the decisions you make and the consequences don’t enable you to be
loved,’ we had to question his mental stability.”

It continued: “President Bush warns that U.S.
withdrawal would risk ‘mass killings on a horrific scale.’ What do we have
today, sir?

“If the president won’t do the right
thing and end this war, the people must. The House has voted to withdraw combat
troops from Iraq by April. The Senate must follow suit.


July 19, 2007 - 4:30pm