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Filtered news 11/30

#0000ff" size="4">Happy endings. On this date in 1782, the United States and Britain signed preliminary peace articles in Paris, effectively ending the War of Independence. To this day we are grateful for Article One: a permanent ban on British exports of anything with the word kidney in it. #0000ff" size="4">Spiking your own cannon. Bill O’Reilly---the culture warrior who couldn’t shoot straight---continues to run the worst defense of Christmas since the Baby Jesus’s first fart in the manger. This time he called for a boycott of Crate & Barrel because of a supposed "No Merry Christmas" rule toward customers. The only problem: they have ">no such rule. I see a presidential medal of freedom in this guy’s future. #0000ff" size="4">Answering when his Saudi masters call Two days ago, Laura Rozen ">wondered why the White House was being so cryptic about Vice President Cheney&;s trip to Riyadh on Saturday to meet with Saudi King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan. Today, Robin Wright and Tom Ricks of The Washington Post provide the answer:

Saudi Arabia is so concerned about the damage that the conflict in Iraq is doing across the region that it basically summoned Vice President Cheney for talks over the weekend, according to U.S. officials and foreign diplomats. The visit was originally portrayed as U.S. outreach to its oil-rich Arab ally.


Pathetic. The U.S. government is so weak that the Saudis can summon our veep for a stern talking-to. Speaking of Laura, looks like she was also right when ">she reported almost two weeks ago that the administration was debating the merits of throwing its full support behind the Shias as a way to settle the growing violence in Iraq. From the same Washington Post piece today:

But in a sign of the discord in Washington, the senior U.S. intelligence official said the situation requires that the administration abandon its long-held goal of national reconciliation and instead "pick a winner" in Iraq. He said he understands that means the Sunnis are likely to bolt from the fragile government. "That&;s the price you&;re going to have to pay," he said.

#0000ff" size="4">He got some &;splainin&; to do Earlier this week, Bush said, "There is one thing I&;m not going to do. I am not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete." What exactly is the mission? Is the mission the same this week as it was last week, or the month or year before? And what was the mission at the beginning of the war? #0000ff">It&;s enough to sink a political career: ">still more evidence of Mitt Romney&;s social tolerance emerges. What&;ll we tell the children? #0000ff" size="4">The Dem plan to diminish Fox news? This should be rich. After Barney Franks ">smack-down of Chris Wallace the other day, Ailes just can&;t resist the temptation to swing back. Maybe they&;ll address the ">increasing use () of the term "Democrat Party" as tool to diminish the Democratic Party, too? Or the obvious FOX News practice of asking ">partisan & ">sandbagging questions of Democrats and ">sycophantic & ">ass-kissing questions of Republicans? Or the ">unprofessional ">attacks and ">smearing of Nancy Pelosi? Nah…they&;ll probably ignore those. #0000ff" size="4">Obama&;s book ">number one on the Times hardcover nonfiction best sellers list. It should be. It&;s great stuff. #0000ff" size="4">The cost of Dubya&;s folly Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell&;s former chief of staff, tells me he&;s been trading emails with folks around town -- generals, colonels, Pentagon officials -- who have been looking carefully and analytically for the last two years at what it will cost to reconstitute the military after Iraq. In other words, the bill to bring Army and Navy battalions back to the status they were in before the invasion. That includes training, equipment, replacing Apache helicopters, humvees, tanks, rifles (we have burned them up in Iraq faster than life cycle projections), etc. The current estimate: $50 to $100 billion. "The next president will face a staggering bill," Wilkerson says, not even counting the costs of further efforts in Iraq. #0000ff" size="4">Big Brother watch ">1,245 Secret CIA Flights Revealed by European Parliament "The CIA flew 1,245 secret flights into European airspace, according to a European Parliament draft report obtained by ABC News. "The report is the result of a year-long investigation into secret CIA &;extraordinary rendition&; flights and prisons in Europe. "No European country has officially acknowledged being part of the program." (The Blotter) #0000ff">Justice, slow, but coming ">Judge Upholds Policyholders’ Katrina Flood Claims "A federal judge offered a glimmer of hope to the tens of thousands of people whose homes and businesses in New Orleans were flooded in Hurricane Katrina, ruling that insurance companies should pay for the widespread water damage. "If upheld, the ruling late Monday by Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. of Federal District Court in New Orleans could cost the insurers billions of dollars more than the $41 billion they have already paid to storm victims. But the insurers insist that their policies do not cover flooding, and they said yesterday that they expected an appeals court to reverse the decision. A final ruling could take months, if not years." (NYTimes) #0000ff" size="4">He has to be on the ticket somewhere The main argument for Wesley Clark&;s &;04 presidential bid was his credibility on national security, the dominant campaign issue that year. There&;s no reason to think national security won&;t still be the big issue two years from now, as it was this fall. And so it&;s good news indeed that the general is ">sending pretty strong signals that he&;s running. #0000ff" size="4">Incompetent media According to the ">Associated Press, "The United States will not withdraw its forces from Iraq before its mission of building a stable democracy is complete, President Bush said Tuesday." I just checked the ">transcript of the speech. Bush never said anything about democracy in Iraq. It&;s just an incredibly sloppy mistake by the AP. I guess this counts as good news. #0000ff" size="4">New help from Old Europe. NATO leaders say they’ve agreed to lift some restrictions on their troops in Afghanistan, which means they’ll be ">"more usable" for combat operations against the evildoers. Oh, and since no one in the White House seems to remember his name, the guy at the top of your hit list is Osama bin Laden. Here’s his ">latest disguise. Beware the exploding chastity belt. #0000ff" size="4">Mutiny on the good ship EPA This seems like kind of a big deal. From a ">news release put out by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility:

In an unprecedented action, representatives for more than 10,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientists are calling on Congress to take immediate action against global warming, according to a petition released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The petition also calls for an end to censorship of agency scientists and other specialists on topics of climate change and the effects of air pollution.

Since President Bush is committed to staying the course on not doing anything substantive about global warming, it&;s hard to believe this will have much effect. But it&;s a pretty compelling marker of just how shameful his administration&;s inaction has been.

#0000ff" size="4">It&;s not like you didn&;t already know this I present ">this without comment:

Lohse, a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush. [...]

“Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader,” Lohse says. “If your world is very mixed up, there’s something very comforting about someone telling you, ‘This is how it’s going to be.’”

The study was an advocacy project of sorts, designed to register mentally ill voters and encourage them to go to the polls, Lohse explains. The Bush trend was revealed later on. [...]

“Bush supporters had significantly less knowledge about current issues, government and politics than those who supported Kerry,” the study says.

I said I wasn&;t going to comment... erp... ack... snarf......but this does sortof explain Bill O&;Reilly...

#0000ff" size="4">A new kind of Dem in town The WaPo ">profiles Jim Webb.

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia&;s newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn&;t long before Bush found him.

"How&;s your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb&;s son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I&;d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That&;s not what I asked you," Bush said. "How&;s your boy?"

"That&;s between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House [...]

If the exchange with Bush two weeks ago is any indication, Webb won&;t be a wallflower, especially when it comes to the war in Iraq. And he won&;t stick to a script drafted by top Democrats.

"I&;m not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall," Webb said in an interview yesterday in which he confirmed the exchange between him and Bush. "No offense to the institution of the presidency, and I&;m certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration. [But] leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is."

In the days after the election, Webb&;s Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill went out of their way to make nice with Bush and be seen by his side. House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sat down for a lunch and photo opportunity with Bush, as did Democratic leaders in the Senate.

Not Webb, who said he tried to avoid a confrontation with Bush at the White House reception but did not shy away from one when the president approached.

The Washington Post doesn&;t include Webb&;s desire to slug the president. Which was endearing in its own right. But the article goes on and on about how Webb might be a liability because, well, because he&;s not a "polished" politician. If he&;s a "liability" (inside the DC bubble), it&;s because Webb has a well-developed bullshit detector (soldiers develop those really quickly) and will call b.s. when he sees it. We saw that about him from day one, and it&;s one of the reasons the netroots was so gung-ho on drafting him into the race and into his candidacy. That&;s what I want in D.C. Not more too-slick, too-polished presidential wannabees who see the Senate as a stepping stone to the White House, thus afraid to show real leadership.

#0000ff" size="4">Outsmarting Big Brother This is nice: at the University of Toronto, some savvy eggheads have developed software that allows web surfers in oppressive countries to do an end-run around ">government censors. The implications are huge for, say, bloggers:

Psiphon is downloaded by a person in an uncensored country (">, turning that person’s computer into an access point. Someone in a restricted-access country can then log into that computer through an encrypted connection and using it as a proxy, gain access to censored sites. The program’s designers say there is no evidence on the user’s computer of having viewed censored material once they erase their Internet history after each use. The software is part of a broader effort to live up to the initial hopes human rights activists had that the Internet would provide unprecedented freedom of expression for those living in restrictive countries.

#0000ff" size="4">Presidential limbo -- how low can he go? New Harris poll pegs Bush at an all-time-low ">of 31 percent.

#0000ff" size="4">Experts: Hadley has ">no friggin&; clue what he&;s talking about. Fits right in....

#0000ff" size="4">Dubya in the corner on a time out? U.S. forced to ">apologize in writing to the man who the FBI mistakenly arrested in 2004 for aiding terrorist bombings of Spanish commuter trains. Oh, and he also gets $2 million.

#0000ff" size="4">Christmas crapper. The Royal Mail of Britain released a new stamp showing what appears to be Santa Claus ">pooping down a chimney. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s the Bill O’Reilly residence.

#0000ff" size="4">TIME says Bush made (only?) five mistakes in the Middle East ">TIME: The U.S. President may have had noble aims, but his administration&;s policies have helped push the region toward catastrophe. So, how did things go wrong? The Bush Administration is not entirely to blame. The Middle East is a tough neighborhood, and many of its various ills - repression, extremism and conflict - have been around for decades. Bush deserves credit, in fact, for reversing - on paper if not in practice - years of American policy by promoting democracy in the Arab world and calling for an independent Palestinian state. But the Bush Administration made five fatal mistakes that contributed to the crisis in which it now finds itself.

1. Bush ignored the Palestinians.

2. Bush invaded Iraq.

3. Bush misjudged Iran.

4. Bush hurt Israel.

5. Bush alienated Muslims.

#0000ff" size="4">No really, it&;s OK, we&;ll investigate ourselves Considering they refused to do this last year, I can&;t help but think this was a tactic to discourage the new Democratic majority from exercising any oversight. Any bets that they&;ll find "no evidence of wrongdoing"? ">The Jurist:

US ">Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine has launched an internal investigation into the DOJ&;s use of intelligence gathered under the NSA&;s ">domestic surveillance program, according to a letter from Fine to Congressional leaders obtained by AP Monday. Fine has notified leaders of the House and Senate judiciary, intelligence and appropriations committees that his office is investigating the Justice Department&;s "controls and use of information related to the program" as well as its "compliance with legal requirements governing the program." Under the NSA ">Terrorist Surveillance Program [.PDF], warrantless wiretaps are used to intercept telephone calls and e-mails of conversations of individuals suspected of being involved with the al Qaeda terrorist network if one of person is located outside the US.

After the program was first disclosed last year, inspectors general from both the DOJ and the Defense Department ">refused requests to investigate the program, with Fine citing a lack of jurisdiction. The DOJ request was referred to the department&;s ">Office of Professional Responsibility, but the internal probe into the role DOJ lawyers played in designing the program was ">dropped after the NSA denied investigators clearance to review all relevant documents. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales later said that ">President Bush personally put an end to the internal OPR investigation.

">Read on…

#0000ff" size="4">Old dogs relies on old tricks When the situation in Iraq is deteriorating by the second and you refuse to call it what it is (aka a civil war), what&;s a desperate president to do? Blame al Qaeda, of course. ">Video WMP | ">Video MOV However, as Olbermann and NBC&;s Sr. Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski point out, despite the President&;s newfound excuse that al Qaeda is to blame, Generals Caldwell, Abizaid and Mapes testified just two weeks ago that al Qaeda&;s influence in Iraq is negligible in the grand scheme of things.

#0000ff" size="4">More on Newt&;s version of free speech If Newt Gingrich is planning on running for President in 2008 — which ">appears likely — it seems odd that he would ">give a speech at a dinner honoring free speech saying a "different set of rules" may be needed when it comes to the first amendment and effectively fighting the threat of terrorism. GW University Law Professor ">Jonathan Turley joins Olbermann to discuss the Constitutional implications of Newts frightening suggestion. ">Video WMP | ">Video MOV As ">Jonathan Alter noted in a later segment, this is especially frightening because, unlike Lincolns ">suspension of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War, the so-called GWOT is, by all accounts, perpetual, making this "different set of rules" a permanent fixture of American life. Somewhere George Orwell is ">rolling in his grave .

" face="Times New Roman" size="4">FEMA Ordered

" face="Times New Roman" size="4"> to Resume Katrina Payments "Condemning the bureaucracy at the Federal Emergency Management Agency as &;Kafkaesque,&; a federal judge Wednesday ordered the government to immediately resume housing payments to Gulf Coast residents who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina. Barely six months after Katrina ravaged the region, FEMA began ending payments to several thousand families still in temporary housing and unable to return to their homes. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon said the agency had violated the evacuees&; rights by not adequately explaining why it was ending the benefits, making it difficult for storm victims to appeal the decisions.... Leon ordered the agency to explain its actions, restore short-term benefits to evacuees who had been cut off and give them the two months of housing payments they would have received after payments finally stopped in August 2006. The ruling affects 11,000 families, mostly in Louisiana and Texas. The judge cited letters from FEMA that gave contradictory explanations for decisions. He also described FEMA&;s practice of conveying its decisions &;cryptically … by a code or phrase&; decipherable only after evacuees obtained a separate pamphlet explaining the codes." (LAT, " face="Times New Roman" size="3">AP)

#0000ff" size="4">A most uncivil thing is about to happen ">WashTimes: "Rival Shi&;ite and Sunni groups are massing their militias in expectation of major confrontations, Iraqis say, even as President Bush prepares to meet today with the nation&;s embattled prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. Mr. Bush&;s meeting in Jordan is part of a wider attempt to involve Iraq&;s neighbors in efforts to end Iraq&;s vicious sectarian violence before it spills over into a larger regional conflict. But Iraqis on both sides of their nation&;s sectarian divide report worrisome signs that the conflict will soon evolve into pitched battles between large armed groups."

#0000ff" size="4">But then, he&;s always been an ass The Democratic takeover in DC has the capital&;s gasbag pundits beside themselves, apoplectic that their perfect little world is being turned upside down. George Will announces himself in the running for the " face="Times New Roman" size="3">DC&;s biggest ass award:

Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor. Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency. Webb&;s more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being -- one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another. When -- if ever -- Webb grows weary of admiring his new grandeur as a "leader" who carefully calibrates the "symbolic things" he does to convey messages, he might consider this: In a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves.

See? The disrespect isn&;t Bush&;s, who rudely tossed aside a parent&;s wish that his son come home from Iraq, a mere week after a tank next to his son&;s was destroyed " face="Times New Roman" size="3">killing three marines. Webb doesn&;t have the luxury of having his kids doing a Girls Gone Wild tour through Argentina.

But the best part about that passage is that final sentence. I would rewrite it like this:

In a republic, people decline to listen to self-styled media gasbags who are insufferably full of themselves.

I think that would perfectly capture Will (and his colleagues&;) arrogance. Next, they&;ll be writing that Webb came in and trashed the place.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post&;s David Ignatius, fresh off calling out Nancy Pelosi for " face="Times New Roman" size="3">not fixing our problems yet, even though, well, Dennis Hastert is still Speaker, somehow manages to " face="Times New Roman" size="3">top that ridiculousness.

What would make a Hagel candidacy interesting is that he can claim to have been right about Iraq and other key issues earlier than almost any national politician, Republican or Democratic.

So is Ignatius a fucking moron, or just a goddam idiot? In Ignatius-land, Howard Dean doesn&;t exist. Nor Nancy Pelosi. Nor the 21 Democrats in the Senate and 126 in the House who voted against Bush war resolution.

Hagel, by the way, voted FOR it.

There&;s something in the air inside that bubble. And it&;s up to us to keep sending Webbs and Testers into that cesspool to clear it out.

And the more those wanker pundits kvetch, the more we&;ll know we&;re on the right track.


Update: More on Will. Note his description of the Webb-Bush incident:

Wednesday&;s Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb "tried to avoid President Bush," refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How&;s your boy?" Webb replied, "I&;d like to get them [sic] out of Iraq." When the president again asked "How&;s your boy?" Webb replied, "That&;s between me and my boy."

Now let&;s go to the Post&;s " face="Times New Roman" size="3">account of the incident:

"How&;s your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb&;s son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I&;d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That&;s not what I asked you," Bush said. "How&;s your boy?"

"That&;s between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

Notice what&;s missing? Funny that a column, decrying Webb&;s "manners", happens to skip over the assholish and imperial, "That&;s not what I asked you." Accidental omission? Yeah right...


December 1, 2006 - 8:02am