Filtered news 7/24

The usual disclaimer:  no original reporting here. --RK

 My Senator Feingold on Dubya's high crimes  Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) announced on Meet the Press on Sunday that he would soon be introducing a censure resolution against the President of the United States. We take a look at how strong a case he's got, with a little help from the other Sunday morning talk shows, in today's of TPMtv ...

Great debate, huh? I thought Hillary turned in yet another first-rate performance but Obama well, let's let say it since she does it so well: "Barack Obama owned this debate. He started off with a series of clear, crisp answers that deftly turned questions to his advantage, and he was doing that Obama thing that he does where he manages to look luminous and transcendent, as if he just stepped out of a Wordsworth poem, trailing . (He doesn't do this all the time, but when he does, watch out -- this is when he to him.)

Stupid, stupid neocon media  After the , CNN ran a segment critiquing the candidates on their body language and dress. Wolf Blitzer introduced it, stating, “Candidates also sighed, they rolled their eyes, they looked at their watches during the debate.” CNN’s Carol Costello commented, “Look at how the candidates were dressed. The men wore dark suits, but Hillary Clinton wore a brightly-colored jacket.” Watch it:

The L word John F. Kennedy, 1960:

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then ... we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

    Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) held the Senate open for an all-night debate on Iraq, calling the conservatives’ bluff on the filibuster and highlighting “ on a plan to withdraw troops from Iraq.”

The conservative leadership quickly blasted Reid’s move as a political stunt. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “Our enemies aren’t threatened by talk-a-thons, and our troops deserve better than .”  As pointed out, today, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) hit back against McConnell, declaring that the “only stunt” that’s going on is conservatives who are enabling the Iraq war to continue:  "The only stunt that is going on here is by Republicans in the Senate who have continued to fabricate excuses for this Iraq war, year after year. They have been enablers of this tragedy. They have not shown the guts in most cases and vote to end this war. They will use every excuse, every slogan, every political trick to not let us end this war, so I would call that the stunt, and that’s the stunt that’s killing Americans."

"Jim Gilmore dropped out of the race for the 
  GOP nomination for president. His departure 
  strikes a severe blow to his party's diversity. 
  Of the nine white Christian men running, 
  Gilmore was the only one with a wife named 
  Roxanne.   We no longer have that choice"  
   --Stephen Colbert

Injustice in black and white    Excerpt: Blacks in the United States are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites, and Hispanics are locked up at nearly double the white rate, says a study by a criminal justice policy group.  The report by the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based think tank, found that states in the Midwest and Northeast have the greatest black-to-white disparity in incarceration. Iowa had the widest disparity in the nation, imprisoning blacks at more than 13 times the rate of whites. Such figures "reflect a failure of social and economic interventions to address crime effectively," as well as racial bias in the justice system, said Marc Mauer, the group's executive director. Vermont, New Jersey, Connecticut and Wisconsin incarcerated blacks at more than 10 times the rate of whites, the group said, citing Justice Department statistics from 2005. 

Alberto Gonzales is a national embarrassment. Even Arlen Specter displays a for the man. And that was before Gonzales began today's soft-shoe shuffle in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. How many U.S. Attorneys has he fired? He's . Why is he the man to fix the department he broke? That's a , he admits. Why didn't the President's new executive order on torture specifically ban ? "[S]ome acts are clearly beyond the pale, and that everyone would agree should be prohibited," he testified. "There are certain other activities where it is not so clear, Senator." And so on. We have ongoing coverage of the hearing at .

Note to neocon media

  • 78% think George Bush is too unwilling to change policies in Iraq.

  • 55% support legislation to withdraw from Iraq by next spring.

  • 55% trust congressional Democrats on the war (only 32% trust Bush).

  • 62% think Congress should have the final say about when to withdraw troops.

  • 49% think Democrats have done too little to get Bush to change his Iraq policy (only 17% think they've done too much).

Note to columnists: this is the mainstream of U.S. opinion. People don't like the war, don't trust Bush to prosecute it, and don't think Democrats have gone overboard in opposing it. Got that?

Rove has a sense of humor!  recently told about how his mom once gave a baby up for adoption and he therefore has a half-brother somewhere. “I jokingly said, ‘,’” Moby said. After the story appeared online, Moby said he :

“The envelope looked as if it was from 1952,” he said. The letter was from Rove and said, “Dear Moby (or is that Mr. Moby), It’s not me. I have no musical ability and am 19 years older (assuming you’re 37). So you can breathe easier. On the other hand, James Carville is musically inclined and bald, too. Do you like crawfish etouffee?” Moby, a liberal vegan, wrote us, “Needless to say I was a bit stunned. A letter from President Bush’s brain? The man without whom [Bush] would be doing the alligator on the floor of a Hooters in Biloxi? I was also a bit stunned because the letter was funny.”

Cheney insanity watch  Here's one thing I'm curious about. Steven Hayes' new Cheney book seems to be getting a decent amount of criticism. But why is it exactly that anyone thinks it's an example of some sort of warrior's ethic or hardcore-osity that the vice president appears to suffer from a fairly extreme if not precisely clinical sort of paranoia? Or frightened of various wildly improbable fantasies.

One of the things a leader must have is the power of discrimination and judgment. There are literally limitless numbers of conceivable threats to consider. Some are very real and dangerous while others are merely notional. And a person in a position of authority really needs to be able to discriminate between the two. But if we accept what's written about Cheney in these insider-access accounts, he seems to lack any such capability.

Meanwhile, what his supporters want us to see as a kind of inspired vigilance looks a lot more like at least the threshold of clinical paranoia.

His supporters want us to believe that only Cheney has the guts and gumption perseverate on these fears while the rest of us are lulled into a calm of our own inner frivolity. But setting aside the misdirection, straw men and general bamboozlement, even the praise of Cheney's acolytes and footmen strikes me as quite damning.

Big Brother is watching  Via :

Highly sensitive information about the religious beliefs, political opinions and even the sex life of Britons travelling to the United States is to be made available to US authorities when the European Commission agrees to a new system of checking passengers.

The EC is in the final stages of agreeing a new Passenger Name Record system with the US which will allow American officials to access detailed biographical information about passengers entering international airports.

The information sharing system with the US Department of Homeland Security, which updates the previous three-year-old system, is designed to tackle terrorism but civil liberty groups warn it will have serious consequences for European passengers. And it has emerged that both the European parliament and the European data protection supervisor are alarmed at the plan.

In a strongly worded document drawn up in response to the plan that will affect the 4 million-plus Britons who travel to the US every year, the EU parliament said it ‘notes with concern that sensitive data (ie personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, and data concerning the health or sex life of individuals) will be made available to the DHS and that these data may be used by the DHS in exceptional cases’.

Vets are .

The many medical claims by veterans of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has completely overwhelmed the American government, leading to "shameful failures" in treatment, a class-action lawsuit filed on Monday alleged.

"Because of those failures, hundreds of thousands of men and women who have suffered grievous injuries fighting in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are being abandoned," according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California [...]

The suit said the Department of Veterans Affairs faced a backlog of 600,000 claims, with some veterans dying while waiting to settle claims. It also claimed the VA was unable to deal with the growing number of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder cases [...]

The General Accountability Office reported last year that the Pentagon referred only 22 percent of U.S. troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for mental health evaluations.

And this problem is only going to get worse as Republicans continue "supporting the troops" by sending them to fight Mr. 25%'s war with inadequate support nor a prayer of success.

A liar and a traitor : Plame wasn't covert and I'd out her again if I had the chance.

   Speaking to fellow reporters this morning, conservative columnist Robert Novak said he was “disappointed in the journalism profession” for its reaction to his printing Valerie Plame’s identity. “. I guess that wasn’t the case.”

Why your Internet connection is too slow  In 2001, after the explosive growth of the Internet and online businesses in the 1990s, the United States had taken the lead online. In terms of percentage of the population with high-speed access, countries like Japan and Germany had half the penetration we did. France had less than a quarter.  Now, all three of those countries have passed us. We’re falling behind in providing high-speed access to the Internet, and just as importantly, our high-speed connections are much slower and more expensive than other countries. How’d this happen? How did the U.S. go from setting the pace to falling far behind? .

[T]he world may look flat once you’re in cyberspace — but to get there you need to go through a narrow passageway, down your phone line or down your TV cable. And if the companies controlling these passageways can behave like the robber barons of yore, levying whatever tolls they like on those who pass by, commerce suffers.

America’s Internet flourished in the dial-up era because federal regulators didn’t let that happen — they forced local phone companies to act as common carriers, allowing competing service providers to use their lines. Clinton administration officials, including Al Gore and Reed Hundt, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, tried to ensure that this open competition would continue — but the telecommunications giants sabotaged their efforts, while The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page ridiculed them as people with the minds of French bureaucrats.

And when the Bush administration put Michael Powell in charge of the F.C.C., the digital robber barons were basically set free to do whatever they liked. As a result, there’s little competition in U.S. broadband — if you’re lucky, you have a choice between the services offered by the local cable monopoly and the local phone monopoly. The price is high and the service is poor, but there’s nowhere else to go.

Effective market competition and effective regulation produced quality results. Then Bush took office. (Look how of faster internet speeds)

Entertainment Like JFK, President Bush surrounds himself with “the best and the brightest.” Well, sorta.   (1620) |  (2147)   (744) |  (1163)

Corruption watch “Halliburton Co., the world’s second-largest oil services company, said on Monday that second-quarter profit from continuing operations , topping Wall Street views, helped by new international contracts.”

  In Salon yesterday, Steven Yount, president of the union representing 2,000 Dow Jones employees, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch:

I believe our members’ interests are best served by adherence to the principle of editorial independence within a company whose only mission is reporting the news. As journalists and union members we see no upside in reducing Dow Jones to a tiny appendage of a global conglomerate with financial, political and regulatory interests alien to what we do.

Just because we have a 15th amendment doesn't mean we have to like it  We've reporting for a while on Hans von Spakovsky, one of the key bamboozlers at the Bush civil rights division, who worked with Bradley Schlozman on getting the voting section to finally start cracking down on all the vote scams perpetrated by black people. Anyway, von Spakovsky is now up for confirmation for a position as an FEC commissioner, where he's sure not to do any harm. But now it seems that in his confirmation testimony in purging people who believe in voting rights from the voting rights section. 

Also note: Paul Kiel's stories on the Civil Rights Division usually get snapped up and recycled without credit by certain reporters who shall remain nameless. So read it now before it's no longer Paul's story.

Ugliness as.....humor? "You know what? Lighten up slightly," Mitt Romney says to a critic of the "Obama-Osama" sign flap. That and other political news of the day in today's .

Most campaign videos are pretty lame. But this one from Edwards on the Youtube debate tonight was pretty good. 

Objectively Pro-Corpse Desecration 

Impeach Gonzales

Bill O'Reilly, in his latest feverish rant, claims that the DailyKos site advocated the violent overthrow of the U.S. government today. Whoever finds this magical post gets a pony.  Meanwhile, O'Reilly is now reduced to sheer fantasy to maintain his pathetic jihad against that site. Straw polls, debate threads, and posts quoting from his own site's (truly) hate-filled comments didn't offer the proper material for his bizarre thesis.  So he just made crap up.  Weird, yet still hilarious.  Here's the video:   And by the way, why would we advocate the "violent overthrow of the government" when we've won 1/3rd of it in last year's elections and will win another 1/3rd of it next year (the only third that matters to the unitary-executive Republicans)?

Well, not out of the "air" exactly (but it starts with the same letter)...  Like Bill O'Reilly, David Brooks can just invent facts :

BROOKS: But, so you think "OK, get out." On the other hand, if we leave....we could see 250,000 Iraqis die -- you had the John Burns quotation earlier in the program. So are we willing to prevent 10,000 Iraqi deaths a month at the cost of 125 Americans?

That's a tough moral issue, but it's also a tough national interest issue, because we don't know what the consequences of getting out are. And the frustration of watching the debate in Washington, very few people are willing to grapple with those two facts: that there's gonna -- the surge will not work in the short term, but getting out will be cataclysmic. And you see politicians on both sides evading one of those two facts, but you've got to grapple with them both....

WOODWARD: And the problem, though, is we don't know. People can say, "Oh, it's going to be a disaster." I mean, you've -- you cite numbers which are pulled out of the air -- "10,000 dying" -- I mean that's -- where does that come from?

BROOKS: Well, A, it comes from John Burns. Second, it comes from the national intelligence...

WOODWARD: Well, no, he doesn’t say 10,000.

BROOKS: Well, no, no, but it talks about genocide.


BROOKS: So I just picked that 10,000 out of the air.

Being a wingnut is license to create your own reality.

Ouch!  I must say ...

A few months ago, [Condi Rice] decided to write an opinion piece about Lebanon. She enlisted John Chambers, chief executive officer of Cisco Systems as a co-author, and they wrote about public/private partnerships and how they might be of use in rebuilding Lebanon after last summer's war. No one would publish it.

Think about that. Every one of the major newspapers approached refused to publish an essay by the secretary of state. Price Floyd, who was the State Department's director of media affairs until recently, recalls that it was sent to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and perhaps other papers before the department finally tried a foreign publication, the Financial Times of London, which also turned it down.

As a last-ditch strategy, the State Department briefly considered translating the article into Arabic and trying a Lebanese paper. But finally they just gave up. "I kept hearing the same thing: 'There's no news in this.' " Floyd said. The piece, he said, was littered with glowing references to President Bush's wise leadership. "It read like a campaign document."

Floyd left the State Department on April 1, after 17 years. He said he was fed up with the relentless partisanship and the unwillingness to consider other points of view. His supervisor, a political appointee, kept "telling me to shut up," he said. Nothing like that had occurred under Presidents Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush. "They just wanted us to be Bush automatons."

I was actually remembering, only last night, how President Bush ran his 2000 campaign on a platform which charged the Clinton administration of making 'everything about politics'. And how this crew was going to clean things up.

Politics is inevitably a very big part of governance. And to some degree that's as it should be. But there's truly never been an administration that has so relentlessly and cravenly politicized every nook and cranny of the governmental structure as this one. I'm not even sure there was anything like it in the 19th century, though the vast differences in the nature of the state itself make comparisons extremely difficult.

Silliness  James Kirchick rightly takes Jeff Jacoby to task today for a implying that Isaac Newton couldn't get a university job today because of his religious beliefs.

No disrespect to Sir Isaac, but it's not a risky venture to posit that the Newtons of today don't believe in some of the silly things Newton did 400 years ago (like alchemy, and the "domination of an intelligent and powerful Being" over the universe). And, were Newton alive today, I'd like to think he wouldn't believe those silly things either.

Alchemy is indeed considered silly today, but belief in the "domination of an intelligent and powerful Being" over the universe is, um, still pretty widespread, isn't it? Or did I miss a memo somewhere?


July 24, 2007 - 3:09pm