Filtered news 10/3/06

A personal note:  A few years ago I did something I'm proud of.  I started promoting the idea of establishing an official Poet Laureate for Wisconsin (yes, yes -- I'm sure they'll dig it up some day -- I confess to being a poet).  It took years of pushing, but we got 'er done.  Requests pour in from around the state for the laureate to visit schools, give readings, appear at ceremonies, etc., so the state's leading writers group has set up an endowment fund to cover the $500 a year.  They need to bank $10K to earn the $500 a year in interest, and right now they're at $6,400.  If you can slip 'em $5, $10, maybe more, please do.  And tell them Russell sent you.  Make the check out to:  Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.  Mail it to:  Poet Laureate Fund c/o Jane Hamblen, 3515 Sunset Dr., Madsion, WI 53705.  And thank you.

Just askin'  Is it me or is all hell breaking loose in this country's politics? We're in the last month of an election cycle and there are maybe four or five stories, each of which could totally dominate the national political news on their own. And each is flaming out of control at once. You've got the Foley debacle. The revelations in the Woodward book. The NIE revelations that almost seem like old news now. A major part of the pre-9/11 story that somehow never saw the light of day and may bring down Condi Rice. And did I mention the election?

Things you can count on the Republican leadership to screw up:  The deficit. Body armor. Medicare reform. Social Security reform. The minimum wage. Port security. The National Guard. Diplomacy. The Geneva Conventions. Fair elections. Clean elections. Intelligence. Protecting the Constitution. Protecting the Bill of Rights. Government transparency. Oversight. Separation of church and state. The middle class. The poor. Tax reform. Tax cuts. Bankruptcy law. Global warming. Disaster management. Defeating terrorists. Saying no to lobbyists. Saying yes to public opinion. Pre-war planning. Post-war planning. Competence. Civil rights. Civil liberties. Civil debate. Veterans' benefits. Hiring based on ability. Legal surveillance. Morality. Energy policy. Energy independence. End-of-life decisions among spouses. Inclusion. Learning lessons from history. Learning, period. Drug policy. Fiscal responsibility. Trusting the generals. Trusting the spooks. Trusting the experts. Basic honesty. Basic health care. Education. Creating jobs. Keeping CIA operatives' identities secret. Catching Osama. Playing nice. Playing fair. Refilling ice cube trays. Making paper airplanes. Or coffee. Tying their shoelaces. Making friends. Blowing their noses. Counting to ten five three. Sharing their toys. Telling the truth. Uniting the country. Protecting underage kids from a predatory congressman.

 

That House leaders knew Representative Mark Foley had been sending inappropriate e-mail to Capitol pages and did little about it is terrible. It is also the latest in a long, depressing pattern: When there is a choice between the right thing to do and the easiest route to perpetuation of power, top Republicans always pick wrong.
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Had enough?

 

Endless detention  In a meadow near Windsor one fine day in 1215, King John, under pressure from disgruntled nobles, affixed his royal seal to the , clause 39 of which provided: "No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go or send against him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land… "  It's all thrown out the window now. Don't let them forget. Don't ever let them forget.

Con' Jobs.  Bob Woodward reveals in his new book that then-CIA director George Tenet rushed to the White House for an urgent meeting with then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to discuss the al Qaeda threat two months before the 9/11 attacks.  Condi denied it with a haughty "Begone...I'm practicing my Chopin."  Well guess what, Madame Secretary?  You .  Vote for Democrats, kids---because these clowns don't want to keep us safe.

The occupation of Iraq has been upgraded from a to a .  Please make a note of it.

What liberal media?  Some new was released over the weekend of two of the 9/11 hijackers---Dopey and Jihady---yukkin' it up in the bin Laden Batcave.  I shall now reenact the traditional media's coverage:

 

"Whoa, look!!  9/11 hijackers talking and giggling!  Even though there's no sound and the intelligence community's finest interpreters can't lip-read what they were saying!  Zowee!  They're on tape!  Talking!  Giggling!  And giggling and talking!  This... changes... everything!  We have turned a corner!"

That's why you should never leave a box full of bright shiny objects around this crowd---their little hearts'll explode on the spot.

 

The benchwarmers.  The Supreme Court is back in session, and are two hot items in the docket.  My crystal ball (hunting accident---don't ask) fearlessly predicts: they'll lean conservative and Clarence Thomas won't say a word other than "Where's my paycheck?"   Hang on, Stevens.  Hang on.

   Condoleezza Rice describes her briefing with CIA officials George Tenet and Cofer Black on July 10, 2001 as relatively unremarkable. Here’s how her spokesman Sean McCormack :

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack [said]… the information Rice got “was not new'’ and didn’t amount to an urgent warning. “Rather, it was a good summary from the threat-reporting from the previous several weeks,'’ McCormack said in a statement from Saudi Arabia where Rice is traveling.

Earlier in the day, Rice questioned whether the meeting even happened and said that it was “” the meeting included a warning that U.S. interests faced an imminent threat from al-Qaeda.

Here’s how the briefing was described by the officials who prepared it, :

One official who helped to prepare the briefing, which included a PowerPoint presentation, described it as a “10 on a scale of 1 to 10″ that “connected the dots” in earlier intelligence reports to present a stark warning that al-Qaida, which had already killed Americans in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and East Africa, was poised to strike again…

“The briefing was intended to `connect the dots’ contained in other intelligence reports and paint a very clear picture of the threat posed by bin Laden,” said the official, who described the tone of the report as “scary.”

Rice also considered the August 6 President’s Daily Brief, entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike US,” an .

 

A human shield for sex scandal?  “Flanked by about ,” Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) yesterday defended his decision to not inform authorities when he learned of Mark Foley’s inappropriate emails last spring. “When a reporter suggested to Reynolds that the children step outside in order to have a frank discussion of the sexually charged case, Reynolds declined.”

 

The rich get richer While the stock market and corporate profits have rebounded, many Americans’ paychecks haven’t grown fast enough to keep up with rising prices. A recent WSJ/NBC poll found the “” ranked as the No. 2 economic issue — after gas prices and energy costs. Shocked? Nah, me neither.

 

  “It seems that the President was very sad to have to come out negatively regarding Israel, but that they needed to mollify the Arabs for the upcoming war on Iraq,” Abramoff wrote in a , a year before the United States went to war in Iraq.

 

Thus the world was lost  The Military tribunals :

So, take the time to be sure to understand the momentous nature of the battle. Speak out about it, wherever and as often as you can. Make clear to everyone you know what is at stake, and convince them to fight, too. For the present, we have the certainty of the Military Commissions Act — and the hope that we may still prevent its most ghastly eventualities. I pray that hope will be realized. The most terrible and terrifying thing of all, for those of you who will still be alive in forty or fifty years, will be to look back on this time, and to have to say, "Thus the world was lost" — and to know that, because you did not do everything you could, you helped to lose it.

Closeted Repubs  While we're at it, let's not forget the story of little Jeffy at the White House

Corruption watch Blackwater and Iraq's contracting outlaws

His Majesty watch  Congressional Research Service on Bush's use of signing statements 

Counting votes to make votes count 

On Capitol Hill Thursday, about 60 citizens wearing "Got Paper?" t-shirts attended a packed hearing on H.R. 550, a bill introduced by Representative Rush Holt with 218 bipartisan co-sponsors that would require all electronic voting machines to produce a voter-verified paper record. This paper trail would be utilized for mandated manual audits that would increase the reliability of our democratic process.

"The last six years have brought us example after example of the problems caused by unverifiable voting machines," Holt said in a released statement. "There is legitimate cause for the current crisis in voter confidence, yet Congress has done nothing to make election results auditable."

[..]But opponents to the bill - such as Republican Representative John "My name says it all" Doolittle - pointed to a recent recount in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which showed problems with 10 percent of the paper receipts.

Right, John, because being able to verify a problem is far worse than just trusting in an easily hackable system, isn't it?  (USAF, Ret.) is challenging Doolittle for his seat as one of the "Fighting Dems".  if you can.

 

Here's how political reporting is done  has been at the forefront of political writing since the Vietnam era.  Once again, they offer from a perspective I doubt very much George and company have ever considered. It's a long article, but well worth your time. 

One law for you, one law for me.... Federal law says that if you sue the government for violating your constitutional rights, you're entitled to collect attorney's fees if you win. The rationale behind this is obvious: it's in everyone's best interests to deter governmental wrongdoing, but few people can afford the attorney's fees necessary to mount a challenge when their rights have been violated. Paying attorney's fees for meritorious cases helps keep the government honest, while witholding them in losing cases discourages lawyers from bringing frivolous suits.  But it turns out that House Republicans think that some civil right are more worth protecting than others. Under a new bill that just passed the House, if you sue the government for violating your religious freedom you'll be out of luck whether you turn out to be right or not.

Such a bill could have only one motive: to protect unconstitutional government actions advancing religion. The religious right, which has been trying for years to use government to advance their religious views, wants to reduce the likelihood that their efforts will be declared unconstitutional. Since they cannot change the law of the Establishment Clause by statute, they have turned their attention to trying to prevent its enforcement by eliminating the possibility for recovery of attorneys' fees.

This has become standard practice for conservative Republicans: if they can't change the law, they simply stop enforcing it. We've seen this in the IRS, we've seen it in the FDA, and I was talking to a guy the other night who said he's seen the same thing in the EPA, where he works. Republicans can't (or don't dare) repeal the laws that protect us, so instead they just slash funding for enforcement. It works out the same in the end.

 

Lies and the Lying Liars  So, Rice briefed that an attack was coming. A month later the president is briefed that an attack was coming. He tells the briefer that he's covered his ass. A month later an attack happens. And Rice magically forgets all this stuff. These are bad people, they lie about important things, and the Old Wise Men of Washington and their fluffers at the

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 2 — A review of White House records has determined that George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, did brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said Monday.

The account by Sean McCormack came hours after Ms. Rice, the secretary of state, told reporters aboard her airplane that she did not recall the specific meeting on July 10, 2001, noting that she had met repeatedly with Mr. Tenet that summer about terrorist threats. Ms. Rice, the national security adviser at the time, said it was “incomprehensible” she ignored dire terrorist threats two months before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mr. McCormack also said records show that the Sept. 11 commission was informed about the meeting, a fact that former intelligence officials and members of the commission confirmed on Monday.

When details of the meeting emerged last week in a new book by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, Bush administration officials questioned Mr. Woodward’s reporting.

Now, after several days, both current and former Bush administration officials have confirmed parts of Mr. Woodward’s account.

Officials now agree that on July 10, 2001, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism deputy, J. Cofer Black, were so alarmed about an impending Al Qaeda attack that they demanded an emergency meeting at the White House with Ms. Rice and her National Security Council staff.

  "Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and former Attorney General John Ashcroft received the same CIA briefing about an imminent al-Qaida strike on an American target that was given to the White House two months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"The State Department's disclosure Monday that the pair was briefed within a week after then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was told about the threat on July 10, 2001, raised new questions about what the Bush administration did in response, and about why so many officials have claimed they never received or don't remember the warning.

"One official who helped to prepare the briefing, which included a PowerPoint presentation, described it as a '10 on a scale of 1 to 10' that 'connected the dots' in earlier intelligence reports to present a stark warning that al-Qaida, which had already killed Americans in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and East Africa, was poised to strike again." (McClatchy Newspapers)

 

  "The independent Sept. 11, 2001, commission was given the same “scary” briefing about an imminent al Qaida attack on a U.S. target that was presented to the White House two months before the attacks, but failed to disclose the warning in its 428-page report.

"Former CIA Director George Tenet presented the briefing to commission member Richard Ben Veniste and executive director Philip Zelikow in secret testimony at CIA headquarters on Jan. 28, 2004, said three former senior agency officials." (McClatchy Newspapers)

 

Jesus is reserving a special place in Hell for him  : The fault of an 'oversexualized' society, not House leadership.

 

I'm dying to get a hold of a transcript of Foley lawyer David Roth's press conference today after seeing this squib in the ...

At the news conference Monday night, Mr. Roth, Mr. Foley’s lawyer, denied that Mr. Foley had ever had inappropriate physical contact with minors. “Mark Foley has never, ever had inappropriate sexual contact with a minor in his life,” Mr. Roth said. “He is absolutely, positively not a pedophile.”

No inappropriate sexual contact with a minor? That's a great line. I guess the idea is that he does it strictly by the book. Straight missionary, no chaser.   I'm waiting for tomorrow's press conference when this joker announces he's suing himself for malpractice.

 

Another special spot in Hell on reserve  WSJ: House GOP's was coddling gays. Nut graf, for lack of a better word ...

But in today's politically correct culture, it's easy to understand how senior Republicans might well have decided they had no grounds to doubt Mr. Foley merely because he was gay and a little too friendly in emails. Some of those liberals now shouting the loudest for Mr. Hastert's head are the same voices who tell us that the larger society must be tolerant of private lifestyle choices, and certainly must never leap to conclusions about gay men and young boys. Are these Democratic critics of Mr. Hastert saying that they now have more sympathy for the Boy Scouts' decision to ban gay scoutmasters? Where's Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on that one?

Hard being a Republican in today's PC world.

 

Ronald Reagan Rehab Hideout for Corrupt Repubs  Is Rep. Foley at a ?  You'll recall that corrupt congressman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) did the same.  So did Mel Gibson.  Come to think of it, corrupt congressman Tom DeLay (R-Texas) may have done his dry-out too early.  He had to try to escape to Virgina.  (During his time in the Texas Legislature, he struggled with alcoholism and gained a reputation as a playboy, earning the nickname "Hot Tub Tom".  By the time of his election to Congress, he drank "eight, 10, 12 martinis a night at receptions and fundraisers."  --Peter Perl. "", , May 13, 2001.)

 

What liberal media?  Missouri press on asking Rep. Blunt (R-MO) what he knew about Foley.

 

Lemon laws.  Georgetown University law professor continues the analogy fest that has erupted since the passage of the "Even Your Grandma Could Be Labeled An Enemy Combatant" bill last week.  He says the bill may violate the 14th amendment, which requires equal protection of the laws to anyone under U.S. jurisdiction.  Says Katyal: "If you're an American citizen, you get the Cadillac system of justice. If you're a foreigner or a green-card holder, you get this beat-up-Chevy version."  Which entitles you to spend your incarceration time in...the trunk of a beat-up Chevy.  (Make sure you remind your captors to shoot a few air holes in it...)

 

Ghorbanifar  The Wise Old Men of Washington also told us that after Nixon resigned it was time to move on and that the pardon of that nice Cap Weinberger was just and true and it was time to put all that Iran Contra stuff behind us.  The Wise Old Men of Washington,

Simply Naughty E-Mails   

  "Years before sexually explicit electronic messages sent by Rep. Mark Foley to teenage House pages became public last week, some on Capitol Hill say, the Florida Republican was known to have a special interest in younger men. . . .  "Almost the first day I got there I was warned," said Mark Beck-Heyman, a San Diego native who served as a page in the House of Representatives in the summer of 1995. "It was no secret that Foley had a special interest in male pages," said Beck-Heyman, adding that Foley, who is now 52, on several occasions asked him out for ice cream.

"Another former congressional staff member said he too had been the object of Foley's advances. "It was so well known around the House. Pages passed it along from class to class," said the former aide, adding that when he was 18 a few years ago and working as an intern, Foley approached him at a bar near the Capitol and asked for his e-mail address." (LATimes)

 

Whammo!  Just out from ...

The independent Sept. 11, 2001, commission was given the same “scary” briefing about an imminent al Qaida attack on a U.S. target that was presented to the White House two months before the attacks, but failed to disclose the warning in its 428-page report.

Former CIA Director George Tenet presented the briefing to commission member Richard Ben Veniste and executive director Philip Zelikow in secret testimony at CIA headquarters on Jan. 28, 2004, said three former senior agency officials.

Tenet raised the matter himself, displayed slides from a Power Point presentation that he and other officials had given to then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on July 10, 2001, and offered to testify on the matter in public if the commission asked him to, they said.

Very hard to say what would be behind the decision to leave it out considering that Ben Veniste was one of the Dems on the Commission.

 

  White House records show George Tenet “did brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said Monday. The account by Sean McCormack came hours after Ms. Rice…said two months before the Sept. 11 attacks.” 

 

Religious Reich still crazy after all these years  Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council appeared on the Situation Room yesterday to talk about the Foley scandal.  - WMV  -QT. One quote he said that attracked my attention was "…when you hold up tolerance and diversity, this is what you end up getting."  This quote also caught my attention when I read the press release .

"We are all shocked by this spectacle of aberrant sexual behavior, but we shouldn't be. This is the end result of a society that rejects sexual restraints in the name of diversity. When a 16-year-old boy is not safe from sexual solicitation from an elected representative of the people, we should question the moral direction of our nation. If our children aren't safe in the halls of Congress, where are they safe? Maybe it's time to question: when is tolerance just an excuse for permissiveness?

Many on the right are starting to turn this into a gay issue. This is a gay issue. What is at issue here is the fact that a gay man in the United States of America can not be open about his sexuality in the year 2006. Having to hide his chosen life style is what causes someone to sink to the low and possibly criminal levels that Foley did. If Foley could have been openly gay and possibly even had a companion in life then we very well may not be having this discussion today. John Amato hahs much more

 

Some leading conservatives have tried to excuse, justify, or downplay the scandal surrounding Rep. Mark Foley’s (R-FL) predatory behavior towards underage pages. We debunk their claims below:

EXCUSE : Foley’s initial e-mails seemed harmless, “over friendly”.

Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) said he dropped the matter when Foley told them, “When I was a young person, an adult (who) became my mentor inspired me to be a congressman, and that’s all I’m doing.” Foley said if he was guilty of anything, Shimkus said, it was of being “overly friendly.” [St. Louis Tribune, ]

“[T]he actual notes were relatively innocuous — there was nothing sexual in those notes.” [Newt Gingrich, Fox News Sunday, ]

FACT: , all Republicans, knew of the inappropriate emails sent by Foley to a page in 2005. In the e-mails, Foley asked the page to “send me a pic of you” and said about another young page, “he’s in really good shape.” The boy told House officials that Foley’s messages Dr. Timothy M. Osberg, a psychologist and professor of psychology at Niagara University, said that the e-mail, coupled with the boy’s reaction to it, “.”

EXCUSE : The parents didn’t want the matter pursued.

Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) said Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA) “told him that he had spoken with the page’s parents. They didn’t want the matter pursued, he said, ’so I thought it had to be pretty well satisfied.’” [Buffalo News, ]

FACT: The House leadership had an obligation to protect the dozens of pages who are under their care. At the very least, Foley’s emails should have been passed on law authorities, and the full House page board should have been informed. 

EXCUSE : Democrats are exploiting this issue for political gain right before the November elections.

Reynolds called his critics’ reactions to his negligence in the Foley case “as crass as anything I have seen.” “I’m certainly not going to react to some campaign rhetoric…on a tragic incident of a page,” he said. [Buffalo News, ]

“I don’t believe in coincidence, and apparently neither does Hastert. The timing of this revelation has more to do about helping Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats than protecting teenagers with whom Foley was communicating.” [Mark Levin, National Review, ]

FACT: The House leadership consistently hid this case from the public for partisan purposes. In late 2005, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), chairman of the House Page Board, “was notified by the then Clerk of the House, who manages the Page Program, that he had been told by Congressman Rodney Alexander (R-LA) about an email exchange between Congressman Foley and a former House Page.” Shimkus interviewed Foley and told him “to cease all contact with this former house page.” But (D-MI), the only Democrat on the House page board. Today, Hastert held a meeting “to review ways to protect pages,” but once again, Kildee was not invited.

EXCUSE : Former President Bill Clinton wasn’t harshly penalized for his relations with Monica Lewinsky.

“Nor did inappropriate behavior toward a subordinate even cost Bill Clinton his standing within the Democratic Party, even though indirectly he was impeached for it.” [Fox News host Brit Hume, ]

FACT: Foley made unwanted advances toward underage boys, which one page described as “” and reported to authorities. Clinton had a consensual relationship with an adult. The fact that it was an extramarital affair was virtually unanimously condemned by members of both parties.

EXCUSE : This scandal is minor compared to other scandals on Capitol Hill.

“I hate to tell you, but it’s not always pretty up there on Capitol Hill. And there have been other scandals, as you know, that have been more than simply naughty e-mails.” [White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, ]

FACT: The emails were not “simply naughty.” They were predatory, extremely inappropriate, and potentially in violation of federal law.

EXCUSE : House leaders would have been accused of “gay bashing” if they had pursued the case.

“Well, you could have second thoughts about it, but I think had they overly aggressively reacted to the initial round, they would have also been accused of gay bashing.” [Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, ]

FACT: The issue here is not homosexuality. The issue is sexual harrassment of minors.

 

Space controversy put to rest Conventional wisdom states that Neil Armstrong said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."  The phrase has irked the hoity-toity verbal elite for years because they claim it means "That's one small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind."  Well, an Australian sound expert has analyzed the audio and says Armstrong in fact said, "."  Now can we all finally get some sleep?

Published

October 3, 2006 - 12:26pm

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