Russ' filtered news 1/4/07

Keith Olbermann stepped up and slapped Bush's plan to use the word "sacrifice" as an excuse to send more troops to Iraq. Bush needs a new catch phrase to try and deceive the nation with, but Republican talking points won't work on the people anymore. They are fed up with Bush and this war and sending more troops to die is not an answer. John McCain and Lieberman will now wear around their necks—as Bill Kristol drools with glee as he'll finally get his wish. | |

Olbermann: If in your presence an individual tried to sacrifice an American serviceman or woman, would you intervene? Would you at least protest? What if he had already sacrificed 3,003 of them? What if he had already sacrificed 3,003 of them — and was then to announce his intention to sacrifice hundreds, maybe thousands, more?

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A well played political hand

Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, found himself under attack last month when he announced he'd take his oath of office on the Koran -- especially from Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, who called it a threat to American values.

You all know the story.

But get this: Ellison's going to take the oath -- in his private ceremony, mind you -- on a Koran donated to the Library of Congress by someone from Goode's own district. The gift comes from a deceased resident of Albemarle County, VA, represented in Congress today by Goode. And just who is this America hater? Mugshot below:

Game, set, and match: Keith Ellison. It took a few minutes, but the wingnut defense is in: .

Is this even legal? Right-wing radio host Hal Turner has posted a web statement warning members of Congress against voting for immigration reform:


“I know where all of my New Jersey Congressmen and Senators live. Do you know where yours live? If not, you better find out before January ,” Turner writes.

We should probably see this A about three of the 25,000 “Lost Boys of Sudan” who fled Sudan’s civil war and traveled across the sub-Saharan desert. () It won the .

What a classy bunch “Prime Minister Maliki’s staff have already expressed their disappointment in the filmings, so I guess ,” said deputy White House press secretary Scott Stanzel.

A political hand poorly played In an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, President Bush urges the new Congress to not “.” He writes, “If the Congress chooses to pass bills that are simply political statements, they will have chosen stalemate. If a different approach is taken, the next two years can be fruitful ones for our nation.”

But three of the most egregious examples of partisan politicking in the 109th Congress — gay marriage, flag burning, and Terry Schiavo — were pushed by the President.

Ban on Gay Marriage: of the 109th Congress, Bush urged lawmakers to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage. From the beginning, the move and was considered “,” but Bush and other conservatives continued to push it as facing the nation. When the amendment failed in the Senate in June, the New York Times reported that Bush “,” but urged lawmakers to “take several [more] tries.”

Ban on Flag Burning: Conservatives’ attempt to ban flag burning was , called a “” by a Republican senator, and would have violated rulings by the Supreme Court that declared flag burning protected free speech. Yet and when the vote in the Senate failed, .

Terry Schiavo Legislation: Bush and conservative leaders in Congress used the as an opportunity for political grandstanding. A memo, which the AP reported was distributed by Senate leadership to right-wing members, called Schiavo “.” Bush played his part in the spectacle by flying to Washington from his ranch in Crawford to sign the bill, even though waiting a few hours for the bill to be flown to him would likely “.”

Under Bush’s watch, the 109th Congress used valuable time to “play politics as usual.” It failed to raise the minimum wage, , and left unresolved a of national security priorities.

If a Military Times poll falls in the forest.... Following up on from the weekend, the Military Times newspapers published a after questioning 6,000 randomly selected active-duty members of the Armed Forces. The results ran counter to much of the conventional wisdom -- barely one in three service members approve of the way the president is handling the war; a majority believe it was wrong to go into Iraq in the first place; and a plurality reject the notion of sending additional troops into the war.

For reasons that are unclear, the media seems to have missed the poll entirely.

Greg Sargent on Saturday the dearth of news coverage of this story, and I followed up this morning by doing a Nexis search to see just how many outlets reported on the story. Given the results of the poll and the importance of the troops' opinions, I was surprised at just how little coverage the Military Times survey received.

In terms of newspapers, the and the were the only U.S. papers to run stories of their own. and mentioned the poll in wire stories, which were not widely picked up. That's it. That's all the print coverage the poll received.

Broadcast outlets were a bit better, with CNN and ABC mentioning the poll on the air, but that's still not exactly widespread coverage.

It's common for outlets to downplay poll results from rival news sources; papers and networks don't want to give free publicity to competing news organizations. I get that. But the Military Times newspapers aren't rivals to the major dailies. So why not mention a poll that highlights the fact that many troops disapprove of Bush, don't support an escalation, don't see Iraq as part of the war on terror, and don't believe that success in Iraq is likely?

It sounds kind of newsworthy.

Obama/Osama screwup alert:

OK. What does it mean? Not exactly sure. John Negroponte is as Director of National Intelligence and becoming Deputy Secretary of State. The DNI position is a new one. So it's hard to say where it rates. But it's hard for me to see where this isn't a substantial come down in seniority. And what does it say about the position of DNI? I suspect that is the story here.

Sigh. Kinda knew this would happen. Dems so surprised they won on election day that they for executive branch oversight.

Off the deeper end Pat Robertson says God told him on the U.S. near the end of this year. That's what we get for electing Democrats, huh?

Who are we? and talk about "progressive" vs. "liberal." It's an interesting discussion of how we got to where we are in the nomenclature of what it is we're trying to accomplish. Kilgore's summation works for me:

Even if "progressives" often disagree on a host of issues, the term reminds us of our common moorings in a tradition that is hostile to inherited or state-backed privilege, committed to equal opportunity, cognizant of the ultimate solidarity of all human beings, and determined to both accept and shape the forces of change through collective action.

I wish I had this guy's sense of humor (and guts) is funny:

The Connecticut for Lieberman Party, the minor political party created by Sen. Joe Lieberman for his successful independent bid for re-election, has been taken over by a longtime critic of the senator. Fairfield University political science professor John Orman's takeover has been recognized by Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz. Orman is the sole member of the party and filed paperwork with Bysiewicz's office naming himself chairman. The state officials accepted Orman's takeover and his bylaws which limit membership to critics of the senator and anyone named Lieberman.

While this part is just, well, interesting:

Orman said he plans to use his position as party chairman to hold Lieberman accountable. "It's a watchdog, accountability party with a line guaranteed in the next Senate race," Orman said Tuesday.

A ballot line is guaranteed in the next Senate race? That should offer some entertainment.

The tables turn If I'd told you last January that one year from now, House Republicans will be , would you have believed it?

I smell a fight brewin' DOJ to Sen. Leahy (D-VT) on secret CIA prisons document request:

Wow. This is what "ambitious" in New York:

In his first annual address to the Legislature, Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed to overhaul almost every corner of the state’s operations and policies, saying he would move swiftly to guarantee health insurance for all children in the state, publicly finance state elections, rein in spending and draft a constitutional amendment to overhaul the state’s courts.

He also said that he would seek to broadly overhaul the state’s ethics and lobbying rules, to make pre-kindergarten available to all four-year-olds by the end of his four-year term, to overhaul the public authorities that control most of the state’s debt and to make New York more palatable to business by changing the state’s approach to policies, like workers’ compensation.

“Make no mistake, the changes I just described will not be easy, but change rarely is,” he said near the end of his speech, which was delivered in the chamber of the State Assembly here. “At every major transition point in out history, we have experienced uncertainty and growing pains. We will experience them again.”

This is what bold leadership looks like. Spitzer clearly is on a trajectory for the White House. If he can tame Albany and get significant parts of his agenda enacted, he could be another of a growing list of Democratic governors (like Brian Schweitzer and Kathleen Sebelius) who could give us the strongest presidential field in decades -- in 2016 (if all goes will in '08), or 2012 (if it doesn't). (No one can say I don't focus on the long-term.) The text of the address, in PDF format, can be found .

Scapegoating the troops I don't know if the basic gist of the New York Times on what happened in Iraq in 2006 will get picked up. But in case anyone misses it, let's do the short summary. According to the White House, the person to blame for Iraq is Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., the top American commander in the country. And Casey's so bad that President Bush is probably going to can him before his current tour concludes this summer. Probably as soon as next month.

In so many words, Casey's policy (which, reading between the lines, it's pretty clear Casey thought was Bush's desired policy) was maintain current troop levels and 'standing down as the Iraqis stand up'. You may have thought that was the Bush policy. But apparently not. "Over the past 12 months," the Times now tells us, "as optimism collided with reality, Mr. Bush increasingly found himself uneasy with General Casey’s strategy."

In fact, the Casey policy left the White House so wrong footed that they were "constantly lagging a step or two behind events on the ground."

So why did the president wait so long to rid himself of this meddlesome general? Well, politics is politics, remember. "Many of Mr. Bush’s advisers say their timetable for completing an Iraq review had been based in part on a judgment that for Mr. Bush to have voiced doubts about his strategy before the midterm elections in November would have been politically catastrophic."

At least there was no rush to get a handle on the situation. Read this . The swirl of buckpassing, cravenness, ridiculous lies and general awfulness will turn your head.

Lovely flip flop , for 'em before he was aginst 'em.

"Credit" where "credit" is due John Edwards the Iraq war around John McCain's neck.

They want the mercy the refused to give Tthe 110th Congress hasn't even officially begun, but several House Republicans have already started feeling sorry for themselves.

In a "Dear Colleague" letter circulated to fellow Republicans, three House GOPers are trying to push a "Minority Bill of Rights" -- based on a two-year-old proposal by then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). You can read the letter .

"Unfortunately, as you are well aware, the Democrats' forty-year reign over the House was plagued by consistent, systematic efforts to usurp the rights and privileges of the Republican minority," write Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Tom Price (R-GA).



I'm afraid on the hypocrisy-o-meter, these three just buried the needle.

Two years ago, Nancy Pelosi and other House Dems proposed some modest measures that would improve the democratic process on the Hill: bills would only come to the floor after open committee hearings, lawmakers would be able to offer amendments to bills, and members would have at least 24 hours to actually look at legislation before being asked to vote on it.

What happened in response to Pelosi's written request? Dennis Hastert and refused to even acknowledge the correspondence.

Now, all of a sudden, the same ideas have been repackaged as a Republican-backed "Minority Bill of Rights." For reasons that escape me, McHenry, Cantor, and Price seem to believe "their" idea should be taken seriously.

As for their argument about abuses that may have existed before 1994, Kevin the Dems-were-just-as-bad notion a couple of years ago.

When it comes to abuses of power, modern Republicans are in a league of their own. And now that they're in the minority again, worried about abuses that haven't actually happened, we're apparently supposed to feel sorry for them. Please.

No kidding? : Surge "more of a political decision than a military one."

What liberal media? Time magazine’s new managing editor Richard Stengel has invited neoconservative leader and Weekly Standard editor William Kristol “to become .” Media Matters .

A vile, disgusting bigot In a letter to constituents, Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) blasted Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress, for using a Koran in a private, unofficial swearing in ceremony. Goode wrote, “ if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America.”

Goode’s remarks have been widely criticized as bigoted. But he’s not backing down. In an op-ed in this morning’s USA Today, Goode writes that Ellison’s election is an indication that we are at risk of “infiltration” by Islamic extremists who want another 9/11. :

My letter also stated, “If American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Quran.”

Let us remember that we were not attacked by a nation on 9/11; we were attacked by extremists who acted in the name of the Islamic religion. I believe that if we do not stop illegal immigration totally, reduce legal immigration and end diversity visas, we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to infiltration by those who want to mold the United States into the image of their religion, rather than working within the Judeo-Christian principles that have made us a beacon for freedom-loving persons around the world.

In response to Goode’s column, the USA Today editors write, “. So is the nation’s embrace of people from all countries and cultures. Several million Muslims live in the USA. It is to the nation’s credit that one of them will join Congress this week.”

Global warming “A combination of and the El Niño weather system is set to make 2007 the warmest year on record with far-reaching consequences for the planet.”

What liberal media? Part II “: Why So Many Upset by Iraq Death Toll?”

Don't they read the bibles they thump? The answer is "no," and that's part of the problem. Americans tend to read the Bible in pieces, a tendency that is encouraged by evangelical-style thematic sermons, where specific units of scripture are rarely fully explored on their own terms, but are instead pressed into service to explain an overarching point. That's fine if you're trying to explain the biblical perspective on sin or grace or whatnot, but it can also break down the coherence of the text itself.

Just to take one example, Genesis 1:27 is sometimes cited as proof that heterosexuality is natural, while same-sex attraction is not:

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Bracketing the debate over sexuality, to pull this single verse out for use as a prooftext overlooks the very rich messages of its setting: that the world and the universe were fashioned intentionally, according to the order of a good and gracious creator, and that all things share in that good order, animal, mineral, vegetable, male or female. In an era when creation myths are often placed along a hierarchical scale, this is significant.

, befuddled that Christians couldn't see the wonders of its origins without having to deny its true age:

The Grand Canyon is one of the most awe inspiring natural wonders on earth. I defy anyone to stand on the rim wall and behold that sweeping green and brown vista tinged blue by distance below, framed on either side by exquisite layer upon ancient layer of rock, glistening in red and purple hues after a rainstorm, and feel the need to invoke Young Earth Creationist pseudo-mythology to enhance that wholly natural, spiritual experience.

I propose a more inspiring story that is every bit consistent with faith and science. If I were religious, I would urge my fellow believers to feel honored at being descended from a long line of God's wondrous creations, over oceans of time, and for sharing the amazingly complex biochemical processes those ancestral benefactors endowed us with. If I were a Sunday School teacher I'd tell my young students that through the wisdom and creative genius of the Lord we can include cheetahs and peregrine falcons in our extended family; I think they'd eat that up!

I'd praise our evolutionary lineage, weep and witness in glorious joy at the knowledge that our fundamental physical essence was lovingly crafted by a transcendent creator atom-by-atom from fusing stardust in the fiery core of giant stars, stand in awe of 100 meter thick slabs of rock which record the natural history of our world like the pages of a mighty book, and thank our Linnean cousins -- from the primates to the microbes and, yes, all they way back to the comets and the 'rocks.' For through them God bequeathed unto us the finest instrument and possession you and I will ever own: Our bodies and our intellect.

I couldn't agree more, and I think that it's exactly because Young-Earth Creationists (among others) don't read scripture as a whole that they miss out on this kind of message. Or perhaps they do, but they break it so far down into propositions to be accepted or rejected that they forgo what may be scripture's greatest strength: as conversation partner and intellectual sparring companion, provoking a sense of wonder, fear and awe at the beauty and fragility of the world around us.

Parody-proof at any speed ... (from )

Washington Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Washington Wizards basketball team and Verizon Center, yesterday blasted Democratic plans to kill a sports ticket loophole from lawmakers’ $50 gift limit, saying it would damage an important local business.

“We support the concept of full and open disclosure on the part of lobbyists and lawmakers to comply with ethics standards,” said Matt Williams, senior vice president at WS&E. “However, we oppose a total ban on all corporate entertainment opportunities. And this ban of tickets to sporting events as gifts will cause a negative impact on our business.

“Probably more than any other franchises in professional sports, Washington, D.C.-area teams count business from lobbyists as a contributing factor to our bottom line. This ban will certainly negatively affect the business we do with one of the major industries in our region — the federal government.”

Abe Pollin, head of WS&E, may be especially chagrined by the public-sector smack-down because, by his own count, he spent $220 million to build the Verizon Center, which has spurred a boom of development in the Capitol’s Penn Quarter.

Reminds me of the old days of .

The Washington Post ran a — on its front page, no less — on Barack Obama’s admitted experimentation with drugs as a teenager.

Long before the national media spotlight began to shine on every twist and turn of his life’s journey, Barack Obama had this to say about himself: “Junkie. Pothead. That’s where I’d been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man. . . . I got high [to] push questions of who I was out of my mind.”

The Democratic senator from Illinois and likely presidential candidate offered the confession in a memoir written 11 years ago, not long after he graduated from law school and well before he contemplated life on the national stage. […]

Obama’s revelations were not an issue during his Senate campaign two years ago. But now his open narrative of early, bad choices, including drug use starting in high school and ending in college, as well as his tortured search for racial identity, are sure to receive new scrutiny.

They are? Why, exactly, are they “sure to receive new scrutiny”? Because say so? It's an old story that seems to have no political relevance at all. The Post suggests that the drug issue might become important, and then quotes experts from both sides of the aisle saying it won’t be important at all.

What about Bush's coke habit? -WMP FOX & Friends wasted no time in attacking Obama and his past experiments with drugs as a teenager. What a surprise, oh Lordy… Kiran Chetry was pretty hilarious going off script and telling us that Bush used coke too…Newshounds has a nice write up .

Then Doocy went on to suggest that Obama had tried to hide the book, claiming that, "something like only 20,000 copies exist, but somebody at the Washington Post found a copy, read it."

As the Post article points out, only 20,000 copies were printed when the book was first published, but the book was recently reissued, with a run of 800,000. So getting a copy is not all that hard. In fact, I uncovered one at Barnes and Noble last spring, read it, and it recently for News Hounds. Would you like my copy, Steve?…

Bush will vow energy independence....again Yesterday, the Financial Times reported that of President George W. Bush’s state of the union speech this month”:

Al Hubbard, chairman of the National Economic Council, who is co-ordinating White House energy policy, has also raised expectations. In a speech at De Pauw University he predicted “headlines above the fold that will knock your socks off in terms of our commitment to energy independence.”

In every one of his previous State of the Union addresses, Bush has promised to push America towards energy independence:

- 2006: Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. []

- 2005: To keep our economy growing, we also need reliable supplies of affordable, environmentally responsible energy. … I urge Congress to pass legislation that makes America more secure and less dependent on foreign energy. []

- 2004: Consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our economy run — so I urge you to pass legislation to modernize our electricity system, promote conservation, and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy. []

- 2003: Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment. …Even more, I ask you to take a crucial step and protect our environment in ways that generations before us could not have imagined. []

- 2002: Good jobs also depend on reliable and affordable energy. This Congress must act to encourage conservation, promote technology, build infrastructure, and it must act to increase energy production at home so America is less dependent on foreign oil. []

- 2001: We can produce more energy at home while protecting our environment, and we must. We can produce more electricity to meet demand, and we must. We can promote alternative energy sources and conservation, and we must. America must become more energy-independent, and we will. []

Yet the Financial Times also reports today that “U.S. dependence on the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries for its oil imports has .” “At more than 52 per cent, Opec’s share of US oil imports is at its highest since 1992.” As of Septmeber 2006, consumed in the United States came from foreign sources, up from 58 percent in 2000.


January 5, 2007 - 8:22am