Filtered news 11/27

"John Kerry said he's thinking about running for president in 2008. In other words, Kerry is still telling bad jokes."
-- Conan O'Brien

A long overdue tribute Before adjourning last week, the Senate passed a resolution praising the accomplishments of the late progressive Senator from Minnesota Paul Wellstone, who died in a . The measure introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) stated that “Senator Paul Wellstone should be remembered for his throughout his career,” particularly his tireless work to for all Americans. While introducing the resolution on the Senate floor, Durbin recalled that stood out in his mind that exemplified Wellstone’s vision and courage:

I can recall the last time I saw him. He was a few feet away from me here. It was the night we cast our vote on the Iraqi war. It was a vote that was a hard one. …Twenty-three of us voted against the war that night. I was one, Paul Wellstone was another. It was even later than now that night, and I came to the well on the floor to say goodbye to Paul because we were both off for the reelection campaigns of 4 years ago. I came over to wish him well, and I said, “Paul, I hope that vote doesn’t cost you the election.” He said, “You know, it is OK if it does because that is what I believe and that is who I am. The people of Minnesota would expect nothing less from me.” It was the last time I ever saw him. He went home, and within 2 weeks he was killed in a plane crash with his wife and staff members.

Big Pharma laments GOP loss Leaked drug company memo: Sen. Rick Santorum’s (R-PA) loss “creates a ” and “we now have fewer allies in the Senate.” Excuse me: Bwahahahahahhahaha!!!

The wait it out plan On CNN, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski issued a strong, preemptive criticism of the Baker Commission studying alternatives for Iraq. Brzezinski said that while the commission “will probably come out with some sound advice on dealing with the neighborhood,” it essentially “will offer some procrastination ideas for dealing with the crisis.” Brzezinski added that the Iraq war “is a mistaken, absolutely historically wrong undertaking. The costs are prohibitive. If we get out sooner, there will be a messy follow-up after we leave. It will be messy, but will not be as messy as if we stay.” Henry Kissinger, appearing on CNN with Brzezinski, said that “my attitude will be to support any bipartisan conclusion that would be arrived at” by the Baker commission. Brzenzinski countered “And I’ve been arguing this on your program with Henry for the last three years. And I invite viewers to go on the Internet and look what we have been saying, respectively.” American Progress has a plan to stop procrastinating Iraq, .

NBC’s Norah O’Donnell reports that “the Pentagon is already developing an alternative to give the President an out if he doesn’t like the recommendations” of the Baker-Hamilton Commission. Watch the video at .

Celeb-sleaze convergence! Cunningham briber Brent Wilkes celeb lawyer Mark Geragos of Michael Jackson/Scott Peterson fame.

And they were a threat to us how...? A shot in the months before the U.S. invasion in 2003, shows Saddam Hussein and his top officers demonstrating not biological or nuclear weapons, but primitive slingshots, Molotov cocktails, and crossbows.

As of Sunday, the war in Iraq has lasted .

"Finally a guy who says what people who aren't thinking are thinking. Just like as a
conservative white guy, the burden is on me to prove to you I've neither blown up a
federal building with a fertilizer bomb nor blown a gay hooker in the mens room at Denny's."
--Jon Stewart, on Glenn Beck insulting the first Muslim elected to Congress,

Corruption watch Since June, Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) has taken to Turkey, Italy, Poland, England, Canada, Spain and Belgium, even though he is retiring from Congress and the subcommittee he chairs had finished its major piece of legislation in May.

Corruption watch II Government whistle-blowers are facing increased retaliation for speaking out. “In the four years before the terrorist attacks, whistle-blowers filed an average of 690 reprisal complaints…annually. Since the attacks, an each year, a 21% increase.”

Mothers at war 16,000: Number of single mothers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, “a number that military experts say is unprecedented.” A total of have served in both conflicts.

"The cost of giving Americans universal health care is about $300 billion.
That's less than a quarter of what Bush's Iraq fiasco is going to cost.
But bring that up during a "national security" debate, and they'll call you
a wimp and you'll be disbarred from further participation."
-- Eric Alterman,

Your so-called liberal media via . First, Norah tells us that even though the country validated the Democrats with the November elections—get this—they still wind up looking weak on national security if they want us to leave Iraq within 4-6 months. A tired lie. Secondly. Norah then reveals that the Pentagon is already trying to figure out a way for Bush to deflect the Iraq Study Group's finding if they don't like what they recommend. -WMP -QT

O'DONNELL: Well, the Iraq Study Group, the first draft will be ready this weekend, it's going to be debated next week, it could go the President and the Congress very soon.

MATTHEWS: Is that a leak or is that official–coming out?—Are you getting a copy early?

O'DONNEL: No, but they've got their first draft. We'll see if everybody agrees to it, but the Pentagon is already developing an alternative to give the President an out if he doesn't like the recommendations.

Does anyone trust The Baker Boyz except for the Gang of 500?

Rewarding failure While the Hippie Brigade has been correct about the Iraq war—the radical warmongers are rewarded with a new label: "Centrists"

Back in 2002, when the U.S. was debating whether to invade Iraq, those who opposed the invasion were, for that reason alone, dismissed as unserious morons and demonized as anti-American subversive hippies. Despite the fact that subsequent events have largely proven them to have been right, and that those who did the demonizing were the frivolous, unserious, know-nothing extremists, this narrative persists, so that — even now, when most Americans have turned against this war — the only way to avoid being an "extremist," and to be rewarded with the "centrist" mantle, is to support the continuation of this war in one form or another…

on the in Sarasota:

Imagine if 18,000 votes had just disappeared in either of the key Senate races. Or imagine a presidential election in which the electoral votes of Florida were decisive and the state was hanging in the balance by -- to pick a number that comes to mind -- 537 votes. And, by the way, in 2000 we could at least see those hanging and dimpled chads. In this case the votes have -- poof! -- simply disappeared. . . . But there is good news here: This is a problem in just one congressional district. Control of the House does not depend on how this race turns out. It is therefore in the interest of both parties, not to mention the country, to be simultaneously aggressive and judicious in figuring out what went wrong in Sarasota and to use that knowledge to fix the nation's voting system before a major disaster strikes. Sarasota is the canary in the electronic coal mine.

More on the in the mid-term elections:

Voting experts say it is impossible to say how many votes were not counted that should have been. But in Florida alone, the discrepancies reported across Sarasota County and three others amount to more than 60,000 votes. In Colorado, as many as 20,000 people gave up trying to vote, election officials say, as new online systems for verifying voter registrations crashed repeatedly. And in Arkansas, election officials tallied votes three times in one county, and each time the number of ballots cast changed by more than 30,000.

: Still no civil war in Iraq. The LA Times provides a :

 

Recently I heard President Bush take a line I believe he said he got from Henry Kissinger to the effect that the only way the United States can be 'defeated' in Iraq is if we ourselves pull up stakes and leave. Thus the whole drama is one of national stamina and nerve. I've seen little better illustration among the Iraq War advocates of the interrelationship of 'defeat', 'victory' and denial.

A very wealthy man can keep pouring money into a failed business venture forever. So, if he chooses to use his vast wealth to paper over his business failure, he can say pretty much the same thing: The keys to victory are in my hands. The only way this venture can fail is if I lose my nerve and stop investing.

But of course this is only the very questionable advantage of the very rich and the very powerful: the ability to fund or prop up denial indefinitely.

And so it is with the president and whoever is still buying into his arguments. If all reality can be denied, then there really is only one way you can be defeated: when you yourself say you've been defeated.

Is it just me or has George W. Bush checked out of the stumbling national crisis we know as 'Iraq'?

I know his name shows up in the headlines. He's Iraq Prime Minister Maliki next week in Amman. Vice President Cheney is shuttling to Saudi Arabia. And all of this is being billed as a part of a new and broader to getting the conflict under some measure of control.

But I don't hear the president. Not his voice. The one thing that's been a constant over the last three and a half years is the president as the voice of American Iraq policy. Whether he's the author of it is another question entirely. But the voice and pitbull of it, always.

And yet since the election he seems to have disappeared from the conversation entirely. Like he's just checked out. It's not his thing anymore.

To a degree, this has been the case since early 2004 -- the point by which it was clear the entire effort was a failure. But politics -- first his reelection and then the 2006 election -- has kept him powerfully in the game, constantly arguing staying the course or cutting and running or how a rebuke for his policies would amount to a win for the terrorists.

But now the rebuke has been given. And what is more than that he validated it, confirmed the rejection by summarily firing his Defense Secretary. By doing so, he admitted (even if he can't quite admit it to himself) that his war policy has been a failure.

With that admission out of the way, there's really no more cheerleading to be done for the whole effort. It's a hard slog, a tortuous battle to find some least bad outcome to the whole affair.

Back when he was riding high President Bush used to say that he 'didn't do nuance' -- a point on which he was unquestionably right. And that being the case, there's just nothing left for him to say. No more chest-thumping or rah-rah or daring his opponents to say he's wrong. So he's just gone silent. Like it's not his problem any more.

Focus on the Family's James Dobson is too busy to help disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard's because the process could take years. This from the "movement" whose only rational argument for discrimination rests entirely on the (wrong) assumption that homosexuality is a behavior of choice -- and demonstrably curable. You'd think Dobson et al would embrace the opportunity to deploy the latest in Exodus-style conversion therapy, especially on Haggard, one of their own most glaring and needy cases. Imagine the PR value! If the almighty priests of family values can "restore" Haggard, they can restore anyone, guaranteed! But I guess it's not that important, or maybe it's a game Focus on the Family knows it can't win.

A taste of truth about our troops, the media and Iraq John Roberts explains the situation to Howard Kurtz on "" this morning. It was an excellent segment. I wish Kurtz wouldn't throw out right wing propaganda lines when he's asking very important questions about the media coverage in Iraq. -WMP -QT

KURTZ: The conventional wisdom is that American troops resent the media's coverage of this war as too negative. But there's a Zogby poll of U.S. forces that say 72 percent think they should leave within the year. What did you find, when you were in Iraq, military people saying about the mission and the media? And did they think the coverage, generally, on balance, was fair or unfair?

ROBERTS: They didn't seem to have too many complaints about the coverage. They appreciated the fact that we were there and anytime you're embedded with U.S. forces, you're going to see the bad along with the good. They were always trying to put a positive spin on things, from a command level — taking us to certain areas to show us certain things they thought would play well. But by and large, I didn't hear any complaints about the coverage

Roberts tells us that the military has no problems with the media coverage—so can Howard explain to us what the " conventional wisdom" is he's talking about? I really want to know. Roberts paints a horrifying picture of the war—one where death and destruction is front and center and is almost too dangerous for a journalist to cover. -12312">(Read the rest of this story…)

Rummy gave written permission for torture Now that Rumsfeld’s been thrown under the bus, revelations come seeping out of the woodwork, with the latest coming from Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who ran Abu Ghraib, according to :

Rumsfeld OK'd abuses says former U.S. general

MADRID (Reuters) - Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the prison's former U.S. commander said in an interview on Saturday. Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski told Spain's El Pais newspaper she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation. ..."The handwritten signature was above his printed name and in the same handwriting in the margin was written: "Make sure this is accomplished"," she told Saturday's El Pais. ... Rumsfeld also authorized the army to break the Geneva Conventions by not registering all prisoners, Karpinski said, explaining how she raised the case of one unregistered inmate with an aide to former U.S. commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. [According to Karpinski,] "We received a message from the Pentagon, from the Defense Secretary, ordering us to hold the prisoner without registering him. I now know this happened on various occasions."

This information, of course, means that Rumsfeld is next in line for a Medal of Freedom.

What we won't teach out kids: truth In today’s Washington Post, global warming activist writes about her effort to donate 50,000 free DVD copies of (which she co-produced) to the National Science Teachers Association. The Association :

In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that other “special interests” might ask to distribute materials, too; they said they didn’t want to offer “political” endorsement of the film; and they saw “little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members” in accepting the free DVDs. …[T]here was one more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place “unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters.”

As it turns out, those supporters already include “special interests,” including Exxon-Mobil, Shell Oil, and the American Petroleum Institute, which have given millions in funding to the NSTA. And while the NSTA showed no interest in helping educators get copies of Al Gore’s movie (which scientists gave ““), it has distributed oil industry-funded “educational” content, like this video :

The first line of “Fuel-less”: “You’re absolutely not going to believe this, but almost everything I have that’s really cool comes from oil!” () As Laurie David notes, an API memo leaked to the media in 1998 explains the motivation behind such videos: “Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to .”

CIA role in Kennedy Killing? Republicans will do anything for power - even murder Excerpt: The report is the result of a three-year investigation by filmmaker Shane O'Sullivan. He reveals new video and photographs showing three senior CIA operatives at the Ambassador Hotel. Three of these men have been positively identified as senior officers who worked together in 1963 at JMWAVE, the CIA's Miami base for its Secret War on Castro. David Morales was Chief of Operations and once told friends: "I was in Dallas when we got the son of a bitch and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard." Gordon Campbell was Chief of Maritime Operations and George Joannides was Chief of Psychological Warfare Operations. Joannides was called out of retirement in 1978 to act as the CIA liaison to the Congressional investigation into the JFK assassination. Now, we see him at the Ambassador Hotel the night a second Kennedy is assassinated.

GOP fantasy life Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), one of the leading voices on immigration for the right, claims President George W. Bush is plotting to merge the U.S. with Mexico and Canada. An excerpt from :

Tancredo lashed out at the White House’s lack of action in securing U.S. borders, and said efforts to merge the U.S. with both Mexico and Canada is not a fantasy. “I know this is dramatic — or maybe somebody would say overly dramatic — but I’m telling you, that everything I see leads me to believe that this whole idea of the North American Union, it’s not something that just is written about by right-wing fringe kooks. It is something in the head of the president of the United States, the president of Mexico, I think the prime minister of Canada buys into it. …

You might think the right would immediately repudiate this kind of conspiracy theory. You’d be wrong. The National Review’s Andy McCarthy :

This is not a fringe. It’s a wave. It’s fine to disagree with Rep. Trancredo; it’s wrong to treat him like a lunatic when he is anything but.

:

[I]t’s not unreasonable for people to look at Bush’s immigration policies and worry that he is insufficiently alert to the internationalist pressures (what John Fonte calls “transnational progressivism”) vigorously challenging the traditional understanding of sovereignty on many fronts.

Fox’s Neil Cavuto recently said Tancredo “owns” the issue of immigration predicted that “.”

Fixing the Big Pharma Medicare fix For some reason, this has been "Democrats Are In A Fix Over Medicare" weekend, with nearly identical stories in the the and the explaining that Democratic promises to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices are shaping up to be trickier than anyone thought. Oddly, though, none of the pieces really explains what the problem is. They just repeat complaints from the pharmaceutical industry that Medicare is so big that "negotiation" is tantamount to price controls, and that's a bad thing.

And so it is. But there's a fairly simple solution to this, one that only the Wall Street Journal even bothers to mention:

[An] approach Democrats could try would be requiring drug makers to give Medicare beneficiaries their lowest price, as companies must for Medicaid, the state-federal health-insurance program for the poor and disabled.

This, of course, is common practice in the business world, where large buyers routinely negotiate "most favorable pricing" clauses into their contracts. It also addresses the most infuriating aspect of current pharmaceutical policy: the bulk of the companies and the bulk of the R&D in the pharmaceutical industry are done in America, but for some reason consumers in every other country in the world get lower-priced drugs than Americans.

An MFP clause with appropriate exceptions takes care of this, and it's something the federal government already knows how to do since Medicaid currently operates this way. It's not price control, since pharmaceutical companies wouldn't be required to supply drugs at any particular price, but if they did supply them at a price to anyone else — or any other country — then they'd also be required to offer the same deal to Uncle Sam. This is pretty standard practice when you're the biggest buyer in an industry. Just ask Wal-Mart.

And if it turns out that giving Americans the Canadian/French/German/whatever price prevents pharmaceutical companies from making money, then they'll have to raise prices in other countries. But that's OK. There's no reason American taxpayers should be subsidizing healthcare for the rest of the world, after all.

Your so-called liberal The University of Wisconsin’s NewsLab provides a dispiriting recap of

Local newscasts in seven Midwest markets aired nearly four and a-half minutes of paid political ads during the typical 30-minute broadcast while dedicating an average of one minute and 43 seconds to election news coverage. The new post-election analysis also shows that most of the actual news overage of elections on early and late-evening broadcasts was devoted to campaign strategy and polling, which outpaced reporting on policy issues by a margin of over three to one (65 percent to 17 percent).

By advanced arithmetic, this means that these broadcasts dedicated an average of 18 seconds each to discussing actual issues. I wonder how blogs would fare if someone did a similar study of the political blogosphere?

Saint McCain? Not so much. The redoubtable Matt Welch does the unconscionable today: he writes an op-ed for the LA Times in which he examines John McCain's actual views on the issues.

McCain, it turns out, wants to restore your faith in the U.S. government by any means necessary, even if that requires thousands of more military deaths, national service for civilians and federal micromanaging of innumerable private transactions. He'll kick down the doors of boardroom and bedroom, mixing Democrats' nanny-state regulations with the GOP's red-meat paternalism in a dangerous brew of government activism.

....If his issues line up with yours, and if you're not overly concerned by an activist federal government, McCain can be a great and sympathetic ally. But chances are he will eventually see a grave national threat in what you consider harmless, or he'll prescribe a remedy that you consider unconscionable. Nowhere is that more evident than in his ideas about the Iraq war.

McCain has been banging the drum from nearly Day One to put more boots on the ground in Iraq. "There are a lot of things that we can do to salvage this," he said on "Meet the Press" on Nov. 12, "but they all require the presence of additional troops." McCain is more inclined to start wars and increase troop levels than George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. He has supported every U.S. military intervention of the last two decades, urged both presidents to rattle their sabers louder over North Korea and Iran, lamented the Pentagon's failure to intervene in Darfur and Rwanda and supported a general policy of "rogue state rollback."

Hear hear. This doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves, but despite his soothing speaking style McCain may literally be in the 99% percentile of hawkishness. That is, he may be more hawkish than every single one of his fellow senators. Some "centrist."

McCain has been the focus of some moderately bad press lately because of his notable lack of straight talk ever since he got serious about running for president in 2008: pandering to Jerry Falwell, switching his views on Roe v. Wade, caving in on the torture bill, and abandoning his long-held views on campaign finance reform. And that's all well and good. He deserves to get beaten up for this stuff the same as ordinary mortals do.

But his flip-flops get a lot of attention mainly because they're easy to find and satisfying to point out. Actually looking past his occasionally "maverick" views is far more important, and it reveals a man who has seemingly learned nothing from the Iraq debacle and who is decidedly out of step with the views of at least two-thirds of the country. I suspect that many people find him more palatable than George Bush because he has consistent principles and a working intellect, but those principles are consistently dangerous and misguided. He might not bumble into disasters the way Bush has, but a deliberate and well planned disaster is every bit as bad as the Bushian kind.

Bottom line: If you think Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer would make good foreign policy advisors, then McCain is your man. However, if you're not insane, that prospect will scare the hell out of you. As it should.

Did you remember to give thanks for these blessings?

We’re thankful for .

We’re thankful America .

We’re thankful Rick Santorum will have more free time to .

We’re thankful we don’t have to go to war with the .

We’re thankful for “red state values,” like , , and .

We’re thankful Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who calls climate change the “,” will no longer chair the Senate environmental committee.

We’re thankful .

We’re thankful Al Gore helped the country face an .

We’re thankful Bill O’Reilly does not resort to name calling - well, besides labeling ThinkProgress as “,” “,” “,” “,” “,” a “,” and “.”

We’re thankful passed in six states.

We’re thankful the .

We’re thankful Ted Haggard bought the meth but .

We’re thankful for “” and “” (and the “” that make them possible) — but not iPods, which are .

We’re thankful right now.

We’re thankful .

We’re thankful Keith Olbermann’s ratings and Bill O’Reilly’s ratings are down.

We’re thankful President Bush’s secret plan for Iraq is .

We’re thankful we won’t spend Thanksgiving .

We’re thankful the “” only gets to make the decisions .

Published

November 27, 2006 - 9:54am

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