Filtered news 1/23

"The party that I first voted for on top of a tank in Mekong Delta 1968 is not the party I see today.
I want every member of the Senate to have to take a position on this. We have kids dying every day."
-- Sen. Chuck Hagel, the sane Republican,

Pathetic defined. Fresh from this morning's Armed Services Committee hearings, see Sen. Lieberman (D-CT) the president's escalation plan. See the here.

What liberal media? It's pretty sad when you can catch the bureau chief of a major news magazine in .

What real reporting looks like To show you that reporting can be done in really nasty places, here is an example of solid reporting from another major news collective, Reuters. In , the unnamed reporter does a good job. He tells us what he saw and what people said, but also explicitly explains the conditions under which he gathered the news so that we can form our own opinions, and simultaneously displays decent degrees of skepticism 360 degrees around.

Bush is afraid of comedians by Elayne Boosler Excerpt:
Whatever you think of this White House, you can now add "weenies" to the list...This is the biggest bunch
of cowards to come down the pike since that guy dressed as a woman and got into one of the lifeboats as
the Titanic was sinking. You sure can tell none of these White House big shots ever served in the military;
afraid of a comedian?..When Bill Clinton was elected president, I was the first comedian chosen to entertain
at the White House Press Correspondents' Dinner. It was May, 1993, one hundred days into his first term,
and there was enough kindling in those three months to burn down Washington...(After Koresh's suicide)
So here's my point. With the most combustible confluence of events ever to befall a new president, not once,
ever, did anyone say to me, "Go easy. Don't burn". No one told me what to say or not say.

"White House Correspondents are gerbils on spin-wheels."
-- Eric Alterman, speaking the truth

War lust The LA Times says that George Bush is expected to claim during tonight's State of the Union address that

For all the aggressive rhetoric, however, the Bush administration has provided scant evidence to support these claims. Nor have reporters traveling with U.S. troops seen extensive signs of Iranian involvement. During a recent sweep through a stronghold of Sunni insurgents here, a single Iranian machine gun turned up among dozens of arms caches U.S. troops uncovered. British officials have similarly accused Iran of meddling in Iraqi affairs, but say they have not found Iranian-made weapons in areas they patrol.

The lack of publicly disclosed evidence has led to questions about whether the administration is overstating its case.

Golly. Overstating its case? The Bush administration?

This is ridiculous. I don't doubt that Iran is meddling in Iraq -- they're neighbors, after all -- but we've been watching them intensively for the past five years, we have 150,000 troops next door in Iraq, we've conducted uncounted raids on Iraqi insurgents, and the CIA and military intelligence have hundreds of analysts assigned to figuring out Iran's intentions and capabilities. And yet we've found very little. This suggests that Iranian meddling is fairly modest.

Iran is hardly a friend. They've been designated the top state sponsor of terrorism for years. They stone gays to death and support suicide attacks by Hezbollah. Their leaders support a repellant ideology of anti-semitism. It's a loathsome regime.

But that doesn't mean we ought to be at war with them, and we certainly shouldn't be at war over wildly exaggerated claims from an administration that's demonstrated conclusively that it can't be trusted with such claims. It's time for everyone to settle down.

Coward-in-Chief. After years of chest-thumping and deception backed by an unquestioning army of thugs in the Republican-"led" Congress, President Bush tonight will play the card. And I’ve got your drinking game all set: with Nancy Pelosi sitting right behind Bush (got spitballs?), I invite you all to take a shot every time she rolls her eyes. But just for grins, play (pdf) courtesy of Drinking Liberally. Who says you can only party on weekends?

"Everyone knows the vice president doesn't know what he's talking about.
I can't be more blunt than that. He is yet to be right one single time on Iraq."
-- Sen. Joseph Biden, also speaking the truth

Recalling the good old days? Despite the fact that the Germans have had only a few dozen combatants involved in operations in Afghanistan, they may have with torture and abuse.

Cheney toast? From a reader who says he's practiced law in the areas of criminal defense and governmental misconduct/civil rights for twenty years. Here's what he wrote about prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's opening statement:

I know, and have friends who know, people that both work in Fitzgerald's office in Illinois and that have tried cases against Fitzgerald. The book on him (and this is not new, I just want to reaffirm it) is that he is meticulous, reserved and that he NEVER makes claims in opening statements that he cannot absolutely prove up to a jury.....Given the statements and allegations Fitzgerald has made in his opening statement, and given his reputation for always backing up his statements, if I were Cheney's attorney, I would absolutely find some way, somehow, whatever it took, to keep him off the stand. It is crystal clear that Fitzgerald is convinced, and I mean strongly convinced, that this whole imbroglio is Cheney's personal doing....Don't get me wrong, I would be prepping him to testify, and stating to the world that he looked forward to it; but I guarantee that I would simultaneously be working day and night to find a way to keep him off the stand and away from the trial.

Lies and the Lying Liars

CNN and ABC have such high standards.... (not!) Yesterday on CNN Headline News, host Glenn Beck addressed the controversy raised after Grey’s Anatomy star Isaiah Washington Beck called the New York Times’s refusal to print the anti-gay slur “amazing,” claiming that “faggot” is nothing more than a “naughty name.” Good Morning America (GMA) recently tapped Beck to be a regular commentator on its show. GMA senior executive producer Jim Murphy called Beck a “.”

Can't Deduct What You Don't Earn , Bush's wonderful health insurance proposal is pretty much the worst idea ever and, fortunately, DOA. Let me add that adding a new bigger standard deduction won't do a damn thing for lower income people, as they don't pay much in non-payroll federal taxes anyway.

Katrina? Who's she? White House officials have told CNN that President Bush’s State of the Union tonight will not contain a single mention of Hurricane Katrina or the ongoing Gulf Coast reconstruction effort. During last year’s State of the Union, Bush said the federal government was committed to rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and promised to “.” The work of rebuilding the Gulf Coast is far from over. House Financial Services Committe Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) says he believes the neglect of the housing situation in New Orleans effectively amounts to “,” a deliberate attempt to make Louisiana richer, whiter, and more conservative. The Institute for Southern Studies reported today that Louisiana is “ as a result of Katrina.” President Bush last visited the Gulf Coast in and Cheney last visited in October for .

Uncivilized conduct. A French container ship---damaged in a storm---ran aground in southwest England and hundreds of scavengers with stiff upper lips (et tu, Welshman??). Yesterday the Queen issued a brief statement: "Bugger off, I got dibs on the truffles!"

The web we weave.... Under oath, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff Scooter Libby told a grand jury that he first learned that Joe Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent from conversations with the media. In fact, he first learned that information from Vice President Cheney himself.

Libby is now on trial for perjury. His defense is that he simply forgot who told him that Plame worked for the CIA. But in court today, prosecutors outlined a powerful case establishing that Libby had reason to remember who told him and motive to cover it up. MSNBC’s David Schuster said today’s revelations from prosecutors are “new and will astound a number of people, even those who have been following this case.” Among the new claims:

– “Vice President Cheney himself directed Scooter Libby to essentially go around protocol and deal with the press and handle press himself…to try to beat back the criticism of administration critic Joe Wilson.”

– Cheney personally “wrote out for Scooter Libby what Libby should say in a conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper.”

– “Scooter Libby destroyed a note from Vice President Cheney about their conversations and about how Vice President Cheney wanted the Wilson matter handled.”

First thing we do: Kill all the insurance companies Tyler Cowen, after calling a desire for national health care "political irrationality,"

The goal is to get (virtually) everyone insured and keep them insured for as long as possible, and yes I know that eventually means health care at 20 percent of gdp and lots of people getting screwed out of just claims for reimbursement. It is simply the best we can do, and for that reason I don't want to tax private health plans.

The ambitious long-run program should be to restructure the insurance industry --through a judicious mix of regulation and deregulation -- to encourage competition across service quality rather than competition across cost-shifting. Frankly I have no idea how to do that but no one has ever convinced me it is impossible or utopian.

I don't even know how you can respond to something like this. It's the best we can do? Even though the world is full of countries that demonstrably do much better than this? We should encourage insurance companies to compete on service quality? In an industry more structurally resistant to this than nearly any other industry I can think of? The amount of government regulation this would take would make national health care seem like a libertarian dream. Finally, "I have no idea how to do that," from a scary smart guy who surely knows every conceivable proposal for accomplishing this? What does that tell you?

I apologize for the snark. I know it's annoying. But color me confused. If we snapped our fingers and covered every person in the country today with Medicare, it would cost us way less than 20% of GDP. We might get there eventually, but that will happen regardless of who funds healthcare in the United States. And along the way nobody would be getting screwed out of just claims for reimbursement.

The usual complaint about national health care from conservatives and libertarians is that it would stifle innovation. But would it? There are plenty of therapies today that are used almost exclusively by the elderly and are therefore funded almost exclusively by Medicare. They seem to be doing fine. The VA system, which is more centralized than even Medicare, What's more, surely designing a government program that's friendly to innovation is less challenging than the Herculean task of somehow forcing the private insurance industry to cover everyone and cover them fairly. I know which challenge I'd rather take on.

Science takes off the gloves The new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to be released next week will show that “ — visible in the air, water and melting ice — and is destined to get much worse in the future.” “This isn’t a smoking gun; climate is a battalion of intergalactic smoking missiles,” said Andrew Weaver, a study co-author.

Strange bedfellows. Scientists at Harvard and the National Association of Evangelicals have at last found common ground: putting . Step one: get the Popemobile up to 40 mpg by 2017. Eh...ya gotta start somewhere.

I'm just shocked at the timing of this leak. Breaking news out from ABC News: "DOCUMENTS SEIZED IN IRAQ REVEAL INSURGENT PLAN FOR ATTACK IN U.S., ABC NEWS' PIERRE THOMAS HAS LEARNED"

Do you trust the FBI? Me neither. You may remember back during the Foley craziness back in October, FBI sources floated the word that the anti-corruption public advocacy group CREW had received the emails in April rather than July, which is what CREW claimed. Well, the Justice Department Inspector General looked into it and it and CREW was telling the truth.

Cool An Inconvenient Truth has been .

: the Democrats' prospects for passing a bill to slow global warming.

Boogying in Botswana. If you haven’t seen this amazing and oddly uplifting video of a guy dancing in locations around the world, . A lovely reminder that sometimes the best answer to the question Why? is, simply, Why not?

Cheney's daughter: More Iraq war is the . Actually, give it a read. Is it just me or does this column read like it was written by someone in junior high?

Anti-Bush valhalla. Bush at in the new CBS poll.

Snippy in Chief It seems that the pressure is getting to the Decider on the eve of his State of the Union speech. During an with USA Today, Bush gave his standard answers...we have a plan to succeed in Iraq, Maliki is a great guy, Iran is bad, no new taxes...and then he was asked about his legacy:

Q: Did you see The Washington Post historical forum on your legacy, because one of the historians, Eric Foner, called you the worst president ever.

A: No, I didn't see it.

Q: Is that something that bothers you?

A: My legacy will be written long after I'm president.

Q: I know you're a fan of history, though. Do you see yourself as a possible Truman?

A: I've got two years to be president. I guess people with idle time like yourself can think about this. I've got a job to do, and I'm going to do it.

Well, we've always known that he does his job without thinking.

The ugly truth no one can face is in It takes the sacrifice of a special person to be able to gather this type of information together

What liberal meida? Part II (smearing Obama) Again we're shocked. Fox News and the Washington Times get caught peddling a complete fabrication. It's left to CNN to . So who will Fox News fire for peddling the Obama hoax? How about the Washington Times? Who will they fire? Anybody?

Guilty even when proven innocent You probably know about Maher Arar. He's the apparently-innocent Syrian-born Canadian national who the US sent to Syria to be tortured. Attorney General Gonzales and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff say they're .

OK, so tonight's the State of the Union address. And as we discussed yesterday, we want to see your response. Crank up the webcam or videocam or even your cell-phone, and deliver your response. Sen. Webb (D-VA) gets to deliver the official response from the Democrats. But we want to see yours too.

How long should it be? Style? We're going to leave that to you, long or short, detailed and specific on particular points or general and thematic. Respond the way you want to respond. We don't expect professionally quality video -- just so we can see your face and hear your voice clearly.

And here's how to send it into us.

To post a video, just:

1. sign in to (or make an account if you don't have one, it's very quick),

2. upload your video to your account here:

3. go to the TPM SOTU Group here:

4. join the group by clicking "Join This Group" to the right of the group title

5. add your video by choosing "Add Videos" to the right of the title, choosing from your videos as clicking "Add to Group"

Your video may not immediately appear. We'll do a quick check just to make sure it's a State of the Union response and not a dog training video or a home marital activity update and then we'll upload it to the group site.

Your video will then be available to view along with other members of the TPM community.

You can then watch each other's videos and we'll make a collection of some of our favorites later tonight.

Your public servants at work. So Senators Warner (R), Collins (R), and Nelson (D) have just condemning President Bush's escalation plan. It's meant as a softer alternative to the resolution introduced last week by Senators Hagel (R) and Biden (D). So what are the differences?

today's Warner-Collins resolution:

...the Senate disagrees with the “plan” to augment our forces by 21,500, and urges the President instead to consider all options and alternatives for achieving the strategic goals set forth below with reduced force levels than proposed...

And here's the corresponding from last week's Hagel-Biden resolution: is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating the United States military force presence in Iraq...

So "escalate" in the Hagel-Biden resolution became "augment" in today's Warner-Collins one. This key revision is supposed to help make it easier for more Senators to sign on and declare their opposition to an escalation plan that's opposed by roughly 60 percent of the American public in most polls. You can see the two resolutions and in our TPM Document Collection. For more on this unsightly burlesque, click . While American men and women in uniform are dying for no damn reason, these jerks play semantics.

Hate not selling so well these days? For the first time in a while, Colorado Sen. Allard and his crazy House colleague Rep. Marylin Musgrave have decided to . This is the same Amendment that lost votes last year despite GOP gains in 2004. With the Dems taking over, it was clear the amendment was destined for even weaker support.

Not that it's ever stopped Republicans from trying to wedge Democrats with divisive social issues. But at this time, the hate mongers are strangely neutered.

"At this time, I haven't discussed it with anyone," Allard said on Thursday. "If we thought there was a decent chance to bring it to the floor for debate, I would, but with the new Congress, I'm not sure we will ever have that opportunity."

Aaron Johnson, Musgrave's spokesman, said the congresswoman would not introduce the legislation this year.

Aravosis calls it bull.

It won't go anywhere? That's never been an argument against introducing legislation. Congressmen always introduce legislation that they don't think will go anywhere. Allard and Musgrave knew the legislation wouldn't pass when they introduced the amendment in the last two sessions of Congress.

Allard and Musgrave aren't introducing the legislation because the Republicans are scared to death that the religious right, and conservative Republican, agenda will be the death of them. Their colleagues must have told them to stay away from the hate issues that have proven to be toxic to the GOP.

This is a dramatic victory for the country. Such divisive and hateful legislation has become so toxic for the GOP that they have been forced to retreat from even symbolic efforts to rally their own crazy base.

Musgrave almost lost in 2004, and she came even closer to losing in 2006. Her own constituents had obviously grown tired of her single-minded obsession over the gays. We'll finish her off in 2008, but not after she has been forced to admit that her life crusade to hate on gays is now a losing proposition.

There is no joy in Cheneyville Not a good day for Cheney over at the Libby trial (which is being at FDL by Marcy Wheeler aka "Emptywheel"). The prosecution blames Cheney for the Plame leak (with Libby lying to cover for his boss), while the defense blames -- the White House (I guess the vice-president works out of an office in Iowa or something). From Marcy's quick notes on the defense's opening statement:

Mr. Libby was not concerned about losing his job. He was concerned about being set up. He was concerned about being the scapegoat.

Mr. Libby said to the VP, "I think the WH, people are trying to set me up, people want me to be the scapegoat. people in the WH want me to protect Karl Rove." [...]

Cheney made notes of what Libby said. Notes show Libby telling VP that he was not involved in leak. [oops, Wells, accidentally said, "not involved in leak to Karl Rove."

Cheney's note: "Not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder because of the incompetence of others."

The person who was to be protected was Karl Rove. Karl Rove was President Bush's right hand person. Karl Rove was the person most responsible for making sure Bush stayed in office. He had to be protected.

No matter which story you choose to believe -- the prosecutors or the defense -- they both paint a bleak picture for the administration. A veritable cornucopia of incompetence. It must be tough being a winger today.

The early revelations are so explosive, in fact, that the "R" word is being regarding Cheney.

Norah O'Donnell is asking Andy Card and Leon Panetta if the president is going to have to ask Dick Cheney to resign as a result of what's being alleged at the Libby Trial. (They both punted.)

As Digby notes, this will stir the Right Wing Noise Machine into action.

If that's the beltway chatter, look for the Republican noise machine to go into high gear. I'll be expecting to hear rumors of Patrick Fitzgerald's affinity for bestiality starting tomorrow --- mostly from Mary matalin, Dick Cheney's most vicious attack dog, who will be snarling like a caged beast over this (and thus will show herself an expert on the subject.)

Emptywheel's book on the whole sordid affair, , ships next week.

Best health care in the world (uh....right) Average amount spent per person in the U.S. every year on health care: $5,700 Number of countries that spend more per person than we do: 0 (Source: Parade magazine)

The face of the GOP. While the Democratic slate of presidential contenders gives America a chance to elect an African-American, a Hispanic or a woman president, or a bunch of white guys, the Republican lineup is---surprise---. Although, in fairness, if John Boehner were to enter the race their side would be the first to field an . Quick---to the tanning booth, Vilsack!

Our incompetent media These are the people that are supposedly "informing" the public about our nation's politics. Exhibit A is Lisa Vorderbrueggen, the "Political Editor" of the Contra Costa (CA) Times. She writes attempting to defend Ellen Tauscher:

Yes, Tauscher voted to allow President Bush to start the Iraq war. But so did every other Democrat in the nation except one.

Of course, 23 senate and 133 House Democrats voted against the war resolution, but what do the "facts" have to do with it? The piece remains uncorrected on their website. And she knows about the error because I emailed her directly about it. Her response?

We were well into Iraq by the time I started covering politics and I made a mistake ... I just wish you would have called me when I sent an e-mail asking for you to talk to me. You could have helped me understand the issue more accurately since you have followed it far more closely.

It was apparently my fault that she doesn't know how to use Google. And note that someone who wears the title "political editor" admits that she has no political memory prior to 2003. Oy vey. But that won't stop her from continuing to misinform the public with her brand of "analysis" as her paper's "political editor".

Exhibit B is Jay Carney, who is Time Magazine's Washington Bureau Chief. Atrios has been all over Carney the last couple of days, but about covers it. Carney :

In late 1994 and early 1995, President Clinton was in free fall. His aides despaired. They worried he might never recover from the shellacking the Democrats took in the 1994 mid-term elections. His approval ratings were mired in the 30's, and seemed unlikely to rise.

Problem for Carney is that Clinton's numbers during the time were in the 40s, but Carney doesn't let the truth get in the way of repeating the falsehood that Clinton was hugely unpopular. He also doesn't seem to realize that Clinton's approval ratings during the Monica mess were in the 50s and 60s. He doesn't know where people stand at the SOTU address. And he pretends that people don't care about Iraq when it consistently tops the list of issues people are most concerned about. And remember, this from Time's "Washington Bureau Chief." Is it any wonder the American public have been so ill-served by the political press in recent decades?

No First Amendment for you! The Congressional Research Service has apparently lost its mind. Roll Call ($):

In a move designed to help maintain its reputation as an impartial agency, the Congressional Research Service announced an updated media policy Tuesday that requires staffers to inform management within 24 hours of any interviews conducted with the press.

OK, that is not all bad. But look at what the actual rules are:

Staffers also must provide information about all on-the-record interactions with the media to their supervisors within 24 hours, including the name of the reporter and his or her media affiliation, date, time and details of the interview. CRS employees who serve as speakers at outside events covered by the media also would need to find out reporters' information and give that to their supervisors.

Christ. In effect, this means that civilian employees of CRS have fewer First Amendment rights than military officers. Nice move, CRS. Way to uphold the vision and intent of the Constitution.


January 24, 2007 - 6:59am