Filtered news 12/9

I named my first son after Lennon I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that it's been 26 years since John was taken, far too young. : Yoko Ono has placed a full-page ad in the New York Times calling upon the world to mark the anniversary of her husband John Lennon's death as a day of healing for those who have suffered violence or war. "Know that the physical and mental abuse you have endured will have a lingering effect on our society…. Know that your loss is our loss…. Know that the burden is ours," wrote the 73-year-old artist. "Forgive us."

Bush’s approval rating, according to a new Zogby poll, .

"All the Baker report really says is that Iraq is
a disaster and we have little choice but to start
pulling our troops out of the country."
-- Josh Marshall,

Oh, you sweet 109th Congress. We hate to see you go! That's a minority opinion, of course. Some three quarters of Americans think you've done a horrible job. Some even say, with all your (admitted) boozing, (alleged) whoring and (convicted) extortion, you're . And frankly, if we didn't know you so well, we'd probably agree with them. You did only manage to stumble in to work 218 days over the past two years. And your inbox certainly piled up: there's all that intelligence you never questioned, a sprawling disaster of a war you didn't oversee, and of course the largest, most complex government budget in the history of the world, which you to rein in -- this year, you didn't even complete it. And some of you simply lacked the credibility to do your jobs. Like the intelligence chairman who for WMDs in Iraq even after the most ardent WMD-believers in the administration had given up the ghost. Or the most senior lawmaker for environmental issues who insists global warming proponents are . But the haters don't remember how much you've given. A whopping 19 members for federal investigation! And what goodies you showered us with along the way: The , the , the , the , the (oh, the !). And the , the sudden to , the to forced-abortion sweatshop islands, the "prosecutors have me I am a of investigations"-s. ? You pondered this kind of question. You your wives to take money you couldn't. And we'll treasure forever your , , , , ! Given their rather humiliating record, Republicans probably should have just let this one go, but they .

"House Democrats have spent every waking moment of the past Congress obstructing any effort towards progress," said Kevin Madden, spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. "They have tried to blow up the tracks on immigration reform, tax relief, earmark reform, you name it."

This may be the perfect ending for the last day of 12 years of Republican rule of Congress – a nonsensical, buck-passing response, . Pathetic.

Parting gift from GOP In the coming days, Congress will likely pass a “tax extenders” bill to “,” such as the “research credit, a deduction for tuition and other college expenses, and a deduction for teachers who spend money out of their own pocket for classroom supplies.” But Congress has decided to use the bill for partisan purposes. In closed-door negotiations, Congress “added a tax break benefiting high-income taxpayers that was never passed by either the full House or Senate.” The measure would increase the amount that individuals could contribute to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), “thereby allowing those who could make these additional contributions to .” A look at these HSAs:

– HSAs are disproportionately used by high-income individuals. The Government Accountability Office found “that the , compared to $51,000 for all non-elderly tax filers.”

– The higher the participants’ incomes, the larger their tax-deductible HSA contributions. According to a GAO study, the “average HSA contribution made by participants with incomes exceeding $200,000 was the average contribution made by participants with incomes below $50,000.”

– Many HSA participants are use their accounts as tax shelters. In 2004, the “majority of people with …and HSA participants in the focus groups that the GAO convened spoke of using their HSAs for tax sheltering purposes.”

American Progress has more on HSAs and .

Oh, and one last one for Big Oil As a final act, the Do-Nothing 109th Congress will push for approval of what is likely to be “the last major pro-drilling bill during the Bush presidency — a measure that would open a large swath of the Gulf of Mexico to energy exploration. The drilling provision was part of a $45-billion tax and trade bill that was and be sent on to the Senate.”

GOP in-fighting The analyzes James Baker's strong refutation of Condoleezza Rice's Iraq policies.

RIP Former UN Ambassador has died. I love strong, ssmart women, even when they're mostly wrong.

Corruption watch Feds in their probe of rampant corruption in the Alaska legislature. Sen. Ted Stevens' son is one of the state lawmakers in the crosshairs. The arrested lawmaker has a pregnant wife, which leads observers to believe that he'll flip quickly.

If you sleep with dogs... It's been interesting seeing former hardcore supporters of NARAL finally understanding what I've been saying for so long -- that the organization is . Like most organizations based in D.C., it has been co-opted and more interested in collegiality, acceptance by the Wise Beltway Blowhards, and invitation to the right parties and events. The place is a powerful reality-distortion field. It's gotten so I immediately distrust any advocacy organization based in DC.

Maybe if I ignore this for a while it'll get better? From ...

White House advisers say Bush won't react in detail to the ISG report for several weeks, while he assesses it and awaits various internal government reports on the situation from his own advisers. Bush tells aides he doesn't want to "outsource" his role as commander in chief. Some Bush allies say this is a way to buy some time as the president tries to decide how to deal with rising pressure to alter his strategy in Iraq and hopes the critical media focus on the Iraq war will soften.

What a pitiful coward this man is. Maybe if I just sort of shuffle the papers a bit and clear my throat everybody will get off my case. That's his response. Just above that passage there's this ...

"We have a classic case of circling the wagons," says a former adviser to Bush the elder. "If President Bush changes his policy in Iraq in a fundamental way, it undermines the whole premise of his presidency. I just don't believe he will ever do that."

I'm not sure I've ever heard anything truer said on the whole sorry topic of this war. And it gets to the heart of the issue. He won't ever change course. Not because there's anyone who can't see that the present course is a catastrophe, but because changing course would cut the legs from under the collective denial of the president and his supporters. As bad as things get they can still pretend they're on the way to getting better. It's a long hard slog to January 2009 when it becomes someone else's fault. Once they pull the plug themselves, though, they admit it was all a disaster, that the whole presidency was, in Dick Gephardt's half forgotten phrase, "a miserable failure." That is why we're in Iraq today. Get your head around it.

Biz leaders not supporting our troops “The annual number of reservists and National Guard members who say they have been from civilian jobs after returning from duty has increased by about 30% since 2002.”

But you can still read My Pet Goat “Across the country, half a dozen federal libraries are closed or closing. Others have reduced staffing, hours of operation, public access or subscriptions.” Critics of the closings say they “could lose access to research materials” because the libraries “.”

Give credit where credit is due Can we please stop saying that "everyone" voted for the war in Iraq? It ain't even close to being true. On October 11, 2002, the United States Senate voted 77-23 in favor of – the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. We are, of course, all too familiar with the consequences of that vote and the extent to which many Democrats such as John Kerry and John Edwards are willing to admit to making such a terrible mistake. Others – certainly the vast majority of George W. Bush's henchmen on the Republican side of the aisle – will never come clean and take responsible for the mess they have allowed our president to make of the world. Indeed, as we have seen over the last couple of days, Bush and Cheney are even willing to use that vote as a weapon against those they duped. Although we spend a lot of time talking about what – and who – got us into this quagmire, let's take a moment to look at the names and the words of the Senators who defied bullying by Team Bush and had the wisdom and courage to vote "nay" on October 11, 2002.

Here are the brave ones:

  • Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
  • Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
  • Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
  • Robert Byrd (D-WV)
  • Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)
  • Kent Conrad (D-ND)
  • Jon Corzine (D-NJ)
  • Mark Dayton (D-MN)
  • Richard Durbin (D-IL)
  • Russell Feingold (D-WI)
  • Robert Graham (D-FL)
  • Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
  • James Jeffords (I-VT)
  • Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
  • Carl Levin (D-MI)
  • Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
  • Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Jack Reed (D-RI)
  • Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)
  • Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
  • Paul Wellstone (D-MN)
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Another sign that Hillary is toast While Iraq spiraling out of control, Hillary is focused on the .

Hot on the heels of the release of the Iraq Study Group Report -- and a day in which 10 U.S. servicemen were killed and at least 84 Iraqis were blown up or shot -- prospective presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will join with Joe Lieberman to hold a press conference today at 3 pm ET to announce the launch of a television PSA campaign about... video game ratings.

So what demographic is into scolds?

Capping their own salaries Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and incoming Speaking Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have notified their colleagues that they will try to add an anti-pay-raise provision to a must-pass bill that .

71 percent: Number of Americans who disapprove of President Bush’s handling of the Iraq war, an “” according to a new AP-Ipsos poll.

"In all my time in Washington I've never seen such smugness, arrogance, or such
insufferable moral superiority. Self-congratulatory. Full of itself. Horrible."
-- Bill Bennett, (R-Hooded), attacking James Baker's Iraq report,

Know your investigators. In recent years under GOP control, the congressional intelligence committees have been known mainly for their silence and corruption. leading the "cleanup agenda" this January.

Our sad, sad condition Lots of talk about the latest in NYC. That's some crazy shit, especially the fact that "investigators" are trying to dig up dirt on the victims to justify the shootings, rather than even interviewing the cops who did the shooting.

Ouch! It's just one poll, but the latest Rasmussen poll has approval of Congress -views-breaking_polls">down at 13%. Has the number ever been that low?

"I've talked to families who have died."
-- Bush, on CNN with Tony Blair. Neat trick.

Corruption cover up watch According to the just-released House report, Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) was sent a copy of an IM conversation where Foley had inquired after an ex-page's penis size. And when the scandal broke, he . And no ethics rules were broken? More revelations from the report .

A D.C. sex scandal .

Hmmm. That's reassuring. MSNBC's breaking news marquee reports that President Bush says "we will prevail in Iraq." That's about all the thought that needs to go into it, I guess. Also, the president says a self-governing Iraq is a "", which also clarifies things.

That's gotta hurt Republicans on House races in campaign's final days. Didn't win one seat; lost 29. That's something like $1.29 million spent per seat lost.

"Bush is an extraordinarily unpopular president. I understand this viewpoint is
underrepresented in the mainstream media, but it is not underrepresented in the public at large."
--Atrios, "Brief Reminder to Democrats",

Imagine we're Dutch... The Canadian has about the Dutch troops in Uruzgan that really made my day. One quote, emphasis mine:

The Dutch went into Uruzgan expecting the same kind of bloody welcome that Canadians have found in Kandahar. (…) But the bloodbath never happened. This past week, the first four-month rotation of Dutch troops started to leave Uruzgan after having completed 400 patrols, established two forward bases and started the slow work of building roads, bridges, schools, and clinics — all without a single soldier killed in action, and just two injuries from hostile forces. (…) The success is fragile, Dutch commanders caution, and might be partly the result of luck, insurgents focusing on battles elsewhere or the cautious pace of their arrival. But the early results in Uruzgan also suggest that something these commanders call the “Dutch philosophy” is worth a hard look. It’s a strategy focused on supporting the local government rather than killing its supposed enemies, talking with the Taliban instead of fighting them, and treading carefully with an understanding of how little any foreigner knows about this untamed country.

Isn’t it beautiful, the simple concept of honestly trying to understand the country that you are supposed to reconstruct, the honesty of army commanders acknowledging that their success may simply be luck, the very idea that somewhere competent people are actually achieving something positive in an ocean of negative forces? Wow.

Thank God he's back! Jon Stewart took a look at the ISG report last night. Front and center was Tony Snow's reaction to David Gregory's questions on The Daily Show. -WMP -QT Snow tried to shift the topic off of the report and accuse David Gregory of being partisan. Jon tries to explain: You're quoting with a partisan inflection… Don't you just love that Snow and the White House need time to "parse" the ISG report? Once again—Stewart breaks down Tony's super secret code on the word "parse": I need time to parse. Split hairs. See, right now you're not getting my top quality bullshit. It's not fair to you—the public I lie to… You knew the Surrender Monkey's would show up…

Focus on the Anus folks were out bleating about Mary Cheney's pregnancy ():

Carrie Gordon Earll, a policy analyst for the conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family, expressed empathy for the Cheney family but depicted the newly announced pregnancy as unwise. “Just because you can conceive a child outside a one-woman, one-man marriage doesn't mean it's a good idea. Love can't replace a mother and a father.”

Huh. I thought these folks were supposed to be Christians. Read the Bible. That kind of stuff. Guess not. If they were, they'd know that, according to that religion, love trumps everything. God is love. When asked what the rule from God is, Jesus says: Love God and love each other. Later he says "You've heard about all these commandments, but I'm giving you a new commandment: Love each other." Still later, his followers would write that of all the great and abiding things in the universe "...the greatest of these is love." So, let's review. Love defines God. Love is what God offers us. Love is what God wants from us. Love is what God commands us to give each other. And love conquors all. I'm guessing that, yes indeed, love can replace a mother and a father. If you go with that Christian kind of thinking..... (which I do).

"They're all basically saying the same thing: This Iraq war is an utter disaster.
This is the worst strategy mistake in the history of the United States.
This is a situation where there are no good outcomes."
-- Al Gore, on the Today show,

Birds of a feather McCain to run his campaign. Stoller:

John McCain just hired the worst man in the world to run his campaign, Terry Nelson. Nelson was an unindicted co-conspirator in the TRMPAC scandal as a key point of contact between Tom Delay and the RNC. He was James Tobin's boss during the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal, for which Tobin was convicted. He also worked at the head of opposition research for the NRCC this cycle, where robocalls from Republicans pretending to be Democrats were the norm all over the country. Nelson also produced the racist bimbo ad against Harold Ford.

This guy is pure Straight Talk Express meets campaign reform. It makes a lot of sense to put legislation through the Senate on public financing and campaign fraud, because that will put McCain on the defensive. He'll be stuck between the wingnut base which doesn't trust him on campaign finance reform, and his centrist chops.

And Terry Nelson will hang around his neck, as he should. This is a man who just breaks the law with impunity, and he's running the campaign of Saint McCain.

This is quite a brazen move by McCain, a naked effort to continue ingraitaing himself inside the Republican power structure which knocked him off in 2000 at the cost of his "reformer" and "straight talk" credentials.

What liberal media? It's just impossible to understand how political reporting as weak and shallow as this makes it on to CNN. Last night CNN reporter Dana Bash was on Lou Dobbs Tonight reporting on the Iraq Study Group report, and her chief conclusion, incredibly, was that :

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Just the image the Iraq Study Group says the country needs: Democrats and Republicans confronting the Iraq crisis side by side. But the first reflex of Democrats poised to take control of Congress was, "I told you so."

Bash's evidence for this charge? These quotes:

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER-DESIGNATE: The Iraq Study Group is a rejection of the policies of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER-DESIGNATE: I salute this working group, the Iraq working group, for agreeing that the present Bush policy in Iraq has been a failure.


And this one:

PELOSI: We've written to the president on more than one occasion to say the mission in Iraq must be changed from combat to training.

Characterizing these as "I told you so" is an extraordinary stretch, implying a pettiness which simply wasn't in evidence in the examples provided. Bash's report decends deeper into absurdity:

BASH: Democratic leaders even used the occasion to promise not only to have aggressive oversight of future Iraq policy, but to revisit the debate over going to war in the first place.

REID: We are going to look at how the intelligence was manipulated prior to going to war.


There go those Democrats again -- they "even used" this occasion to press for accountability for the worst foreign policy disaster in at least a generation, one which has killed nearly 3,000 Americans and severely wounded many tens of thousands. How can the Dems be so small-minded and vindictive? Come on, now. This isn't about "revisiting the debate" over going to war. It's about accounting for how this catastrophe happened, so that it doesn't happen again. But Bash is incapable of seeing the Dem call for genuine accountability as anything but a politically retributive desire to rehash old political fights with Republicans -- that is, as "I told you so." This one perfectly captures the profound lack of seriousness -- the childishness, even -- at the heart of so much of our televised political reporting and punditry today.

"As a comedian, with George W. Bush coming into office,
I feel like the owner of a hardware store before a hurricane."
-- Dennis Miller, before he turned whore

The warmongers of the NY Post think . Go read

Our kids' future Campus Progress has a new ad campaign, , to draw attention to the fact that four in ten U.S. college graduates — including more than half of African-American and Hispanic borrowers — are burdened with an “unmanageable level of debt.” Watch the ad, and get more details .

Oh hypocrisy, Frist is thy name! Today, with Vice President Cheney over the Senate chamber, Bill Frist delivered his farewell address, urging his colleagues not to be influenced by “destructive partisanship.” An odd statement coming from Frist, who in his four years as Majority Leader allowed one polarizing issue after another to divide the Senate and the nation. ThinkProgress recounts some of Frist’s partisan ploys:

Frist Pushed Gay Marriage Ban. “Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday he plans a vote in early June on a constitutional , a move likely to fail but sure to spark a fiery election-year debate.”

Frist Pushed Flag Burning Amendment. “Amending the Constitution to may be considered political posturing in the nation’s capital, says Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, but it’s not pandering to the GOP’s conservative base to pursue such protection. ‘It’s important to the heart and soul of the American people,’ said Frist.”

Frist Lumped Minimum Wage Hike With Estate Tax Cut. “The only opportunity this year to increase the minimum wage and renew popular tax breaks will be , Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said Tuesday. … ‘It’s now or never,’ Frist said.”

Frist Bucked Bush On Immigration, Proposed Enforcement-Only Bill. “Maneuvering toward a pre-election showdown on immigration, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Sunday said he would seek passage of legislation to and predicted Democrats would resist. ‘Right now I got a feeling the Democrats may obstruct it,’ said Frist.”

Frist Offered False Medical Diagnosis From Senate Office. “Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a renowned heart surgeon before becoming Senate majority leader, went to the floor late Thursday night for the second time in 12 hours to argue that Florida doctors had erred in saying Terri Schiavo is in a ‘persistent vegetative state.’ ‘I question it based on a which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office,’ he said.”

Frist Advocated Teaching Intelligent Design. “Echoing similar comments from President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said should be taught in public schools alongside evolution.”

What liberal media? As the Conservative Mainstream Media steps up their "" meme because the Bush/McCain/Lieberman war is such a nightmare—they've picked David Gregory as their new public enemy # 1. FOX NEWS lends a helping hand to yesterday as they try to shift the narrative from Bush and the ISG report to Gregory being a "partisan." Isn't it Interesting that the conservative–cough—cough—watchdog group "Media Research Center," voted Gregory as the .

In marked contrast to Roberts and Moran, NBC White House correspondent David Gregory offered fewer biased reports and even achieved some balance on stories on the estate tax repeal, income tax cuts, and campaign finance reform. Thus the competition is settled; for coverage of Bush’s first 100 days, Best White House Correspondent goes to NBC’s David Gregory, Worst White House Correspondent to CBS’s John Roberts.

How times have changed when desperation sets in.

Trying to understand If you haven't seen , you should. Michael drove around the country to find out why people in the Red States voted for Bush right after the '04 election.

Must.... resist..... joke..... From the ...

A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men. The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms. It has led to a call for condoms of mixed sizes to be made more widely available in India. The two-year study was carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research. Over 1,200 volunteers from the length and breadth of the country had their penises measured precisely, down to the last millimetre. The scientists even checked their sample was representative of India as a whole in terms of class, religion and urban and rural dwellers. The conclusion of all this scientific endeavour is that about 60% of Indian men have penises which are between three and five centimetres shorter than international standards used in condom manufacture.


December 9, 2006 - 7:40am