Filtered news for 11/15


Perhaps this is something of an existential question. But do we really have to pretend that Rudy Giuliani has more than a snowball's chance in hell of getting the Republican presidential nomination? Or can we all just stipulate that a multiple adulterer, who supports gay civil rights and choice, has deep and on-going ties to mobbed-up and now-disgraced Police boss Bernie Kerik, has a largely unscrutinized (outside of New York) resume, and had the bright idea of locating the NYC disaster center in the already-once-bombed World Trade Center probably will have some rough sledding in Republican primaries?

What liberal media? If you haven't already, go take a look at the internal Fox News obtained by the Huffington Post. It's a doozy.

It looks like Bush personally authorized the CIA's creation of "black" sites and its use of harsh torture methods. "The Central Intelligence Agency has acknowledged for the first time the existence of two classified documents, including a directive signed by President Bush, that have guided the agency’s interrogation and detention of terror suspects. The C.I.A. referred to the documents in a letter sent Friday from the agency’s associate general counsel, John L. McPherson, to lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union.... The second document, according to the group, is a Justice Department legal analysis 'specifying interrogation methods that the C.I.A. may use against top Al Qaeda members.'” (NY Times)

Jon Stewart pays tribute to the newfound sense of bipartisanship enveloping Washington. WMP | MOV A bipartisanship that a .

Mid-week : 159 (thanks to a +3 increase in---you guessed it---liberalism) Soul Protection Factor 16 lotion is recommended if you'll be walking amongst the heathen today.

New rules same as the old rules. Catholic leaders released their new guidelines on homosexuality yesterday. Their goal is to reach out to gay people in a spirit of hope and love. Their new edict: "." But the difference is that now they say it with a smile. If someone told me 15 years ago that South Africa would beat America in approving marriage equality for same-sex couples, I'da said they were crazy. Well, apparently . But you already knew that.

Welcome wagon. Like wide-eyed sons and daughters bounding off to college, the newly-elected members of Congress are in D.C. for their :


"When I saw the Marine escort waiting for me at the airport, I knew my life had changed," said Iowa Democratic Rep.-elect Bruce Braley. Then there was dinner Sunday night under the Library of Congress' ornate ceilings, followed by a candlelight tour of the Capitol. On the syllabus for the new lawmakers is a crash course on parliamentary procedure, ethics rules, tips on hiring staff and other details. The week will be capped with a drawing that determines which offices they will have for the next two years. Most dreaded: the attic of the Cannon House Office Building.

Hazing will, of course, be on the "unofficial" itinerary. This year they have to spend 30 minutes face-down in Dennis Hastert's chair. This senseless cruelty really must stop.

Republicans run amok. Reason why our victory last Tuesday was important. Newsweek says: "In 1987, Reagan vetoed a bill because it had 152 earmarks; in '05, Bush signed one with 6,371." Terrible, just terrible. (But I'm not giving back my diamond-encrusted electric disco ball.)

For all of us election numbers geeks, cool interactive graph in the .

Now who's the fool? Greenwald on : This is where Colin Powell brought us all yesterday. The evidence he presented to the United Nations — some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail — had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool — or possibly a Frenchman — could conclude otherwise.

Murdoch warns Aussies about becoming too "anti-American (does he really mean ?) Pretty amazing stuff, and stunningly hypocritcal, even for .

Only after the last creature has been consumed, will it dawn on ill-informed skeptics that

Dem corruption watch After you check out on Murtha's involvement in ABSCAM, give a read. In a meeting with Democrats earlier this week, Murtha to the Democrats lobbying and ethics reform bill as "total crap."

Repug corruption watch Good thing the voters have spoken loud and clear about corruption and graft in Washington. That way the President can't help but hear the :

President Bush on Tuesday renominated the chairman of the agency that directs U.S. overseas broadcasts even though the nomination has been stalled in the Senate amid allegations of misconduct. Kenneth Y. Tomlinson was nominated again as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and for a term on the board expiring Aug. 13, 2007. . . . A report by the State Department's inspector general, released Aug. 29, said Tomlinson misused government funds for two years as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Tomlinson disputed the allegations in the report.

Message returned. Undelivered.

Nothing learned -- nothing, nothing, nothing! Trent Lott selected as Senate Minority Whip, because if there's one thing that Trent Lott likes, it's whipping minorities. And, yes, that's over the top and highly uncivil. Of course, opposing anti-lynching laws was a bit uncivil too. Trent Lott (R-MS) won election to the Senate GOP leadership by this morning. He defeated Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) for the post of minority whip. Nice to see that the segregation wing of the Republican Party can still muster a majority of votes in the Senate GOP caucus. Or as put it yesterday:

I'm confused. My recollection was that after Lott was exposed as a die-hard segregationist, the American conservative movement washed their hands of him and made him a committee chair banished him from the realm as a token of their commitment to the new rightwingery with twice the homophobia and half the racism. Now they're going back on all that? Didn't everyone love Michael Steele.

After running a race-baiting campaign against Harold Ford in Tennessee, the GOP bypasses the other senator from Tennessee to install a leader nostalgic for the Dixiecrats. Hey, Ken Mehlman. How's that outreach to African-American voters going?

Colbert was fuming over this week's edition of that suggests President Bush is relying on his father's close advisors to save him from the quagmire he's gotten us into in Iraq. WMP | MOV In case you missed last night's episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, check out Comedy Central's .

Those Republicans are pretty tough. They lose both houses of Congress. And they give Russert his testicles back. I hear even Halperin is making a play for .

Whoopsie. U.S. Capitol Police senator-elect Jon Tester. Luckily, no one gets punched:

The Capitol police weren't quite ready for Tester, a farmer with a throwback flat top haircut and fingers missing on his left hand from an old accident with a meat grinder. They asked him to empty his pockets for inspection.

''Just like at the airport, you put it all through?'' Tester asked.

The officer nodded, then recognized the newcomer and waved him through.

Did buggy electronic voting machines cost the Democrats a seat in Florida's 13th District?

More truth mining we got a taste of just how un-American President Bush's is. After detailing the indefinite detention of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri — a legal US immigrant student who has been locked up for over 5 years without charges — Jack asks: Is it fair for immigrants in the US to be held "indefinitely" if suspected of terrorism? WMP | MOV Glenn Greenwald has : "As always, the most extraordinary and jarring aspect of cases like this one is that these principles — which were once the undebatable, immovable bedrock of our political system — are now openly debated and actively disputed by our own government. By itself it is astonishing — and highly revealing about where we are as a country — that such precepts even need to be defended at all…"

The so-called study group The media is going to play up big and quite frankly it's already annoying the hell out of me. John makes some about the traps for our Democratic leaders, but what's really insane is that there isn't one Middle East expert on the panel. .

Rather, it is a classic Washington blue-ribbon commission, a group of "old hands" steeped in the ways of the capital — two former secretaries of state (Baker and Lawrence S. Eagleburger), two former senators (Republican Alan K. Simpson and Democrat Charles S. Robb), a former defense secretary (William J. Perry) and a former Supreme Court justice, (Sandra Day O'Connor).

Bi-partisanship is meaningless if nobody knows what the heck they are talking about. It's like bringing a car to a friggin' Burger King to get an oil change. Ok, that's a bad analogy, but you know what I mean. Arthur has .

Here's a suggestion. Let's trade up a lot. I'll give you one for Ed Meese. And I'll give you for Charles Robb. Cockburn has actually spent a lot of time in Iraq and the Middle East just recently. Amazing, ain't it?…

Oh no.... Remember the big "Bird Flu" scare last year and the only drug to treat it was from a ? Turns out there's a little problem. : Patients who take Tamiflu should be closely monitored for signs of abnormal behavior, health officials said Monday in announcing an updated label for the flu drug….

Insurance industry supports selling more insurance! Film at 11 Good news, campers! The health insurance industry has decided that universal health care is a great idea.

The plan would rely on a mixture of expanded federal and state programs and tax credits for workers and their families to purchase private health insurance and pay medical expenses.....But the proposal does not address the key elements that would determine whether it is even workable. For fails to deal with the creation of purchasing pools to bargain down the cost of coverage, or with reforms to curtail industry practices that exclude people in poor health.

Let me get this straight. The private insurance industry favors a government program that would purchase more private insurance for people, but is opposed to anything that would drive down the cost of insurance or guarantee coverage for people the insurance industry doesn't want to cover. That's quite a plan. Why not just ask for grocery sacks full of unmarked bills instead?

I'm not any kind of hardliner when it comes to Democrats taking contributions from corporations. Money is part of politics and always will be, world without end. But if I could have one wish on this front it would be for no Democrat to ever accept another dime from the insurance industry. In practically every area I can think of, the insurance industry is, and always has been, the enemy of liberal/progressive/populist reform.

No national health care plan that relies primarily on private insurance will ever be able to control costs and provide universal coverage. Conversely, every national health care proposal that doesn't rely on private insurance — i.e., all the ones that would work in a reasonably efficient and convenient way — will be fought tooth and nail by the insurance industry. I don't blame the insurance industry for defending its turf, but the fact remains that Democrats will never be able to tackle health care properly as long as they depend on insurance industry money. This is not an interest group that's on our side, and Democrats should have figured this out a long time ago.

What liberal media? Nothing to see ? Not for our . Not much , either…but they will tell you all about

A rare personal note from me: Once a hack, always a hack?

I received a letter this week from a fellow association executive in Wisconsin, annoucing that he and one of his association staff members are running a lobbying firm on the side and wondering whether the association I head would like to hire their services.

I've known this guy for years and he's been a Republican party operative since long before I knew him. He wasn't just a hired gun, he was a true believer, so his sideline of lobbying intrigued me. Overlooking the obvious question (Might not his clients' interests conflict with his employer's interests, and might there not be ethical issues involved in accepting payment from both? Just askin'.), I wondered whether he would be able to remove the far-rightwing blinders he'd been wearing for so long and enable himself to see -- and represent -- the missions, causes and goals of those clients that did not fall on his side of the political spectrum. The answer was quick in coming.

The third and fourth sentences of his introductory letter read as follows: "There are many new faces in the Wisconsin legislature. New people with BIG ideas for our state, such as taxing medicaid (sic) funding or new regulations that can drive up the cost of your business." (You'll have to forgive that his fourth sentence was incomplete and failed to properly capitalize a proprer noun.) While all our ears perk up at the threat of new regulations, I call your attention to the earlier clause in this sentence fragment, in which he not only paints increased Medicaid funding as a threat in need of fighting, he blithely assumes that my association -- and its members, health care providers -- will agree with this portrait.

Set aside for a moment the data that shows Medicaid funding is great for Wisconsin's business climate, let's take a look that moral implications of his assumption -- an assumption that is dripping with far-right political thinking. And let's be clear: It is not Republican thinking, it's "fringe" thinking.

He's assuming that everyone who runs a business is so fixated on increasing their own material wealth that they're willing to short-change funding for the health and well-being of our neediest citizens (including children), our disabled and our frail elderly. In short, he's assuming that our greed is so strong it's twisted us into a perverse caricature of human beings. Beyond being amused by that level of stupidity in a marketing letter sent to my organization, I take offense to the assumption about the state of your soul and mine.

Christmas is just around the corner and one of our best loved seasonal stories, "A Christmas Carol," contains an applicable and rather pointed scene between two main characters:

Marley's Ghost, explaining his chains, was despairing over "life's opportunities misused."

Scrooge, trembling with fear and beginning to share in Marley's guilt, said: "But you were always a good man of business, Jacob."

The ghost cried out in anguish and anger: "Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

These words stand as an eloquent expression of our grand human purpose. It is our inner thoughts and feelings, our motives, our priorities, which contribute to making our lives an emptiness or a fullness. What we are in our whole being is so much grander than anything we can measure by surface values. In Goethe's words, "We are shaped and fashioned by what we love."

We can see what has shaped the soul of this hack, but what is shaping us? Let us neither sink to our lowest nature, not be swayed by those who appeal to our owest nature. The notion that running a business, making a living and taking care of our needy are mutually exclusive, or even contradictory, is unsupported by data, archaic and immoral. If we can't kill it off, let's at least ignore those who sell it.


November 15, 2006 - 2:13pm