Monday, April 30, 2007
"The Justice Department does not, nor has it ever, solicited any informationThe key to that denial, you might have guessed, lies in that word, "solicit."
from applicants . . . about their political affiliation or orientation."
Here's how the hiring process went last year, according to a group of anonymous Justice Department employees who've complained to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees: all candidates selected for an interview had to be cleared by the deputy attorney general's office. The employees were shocked when they sent up a list of 600 names and got back a list of 400. They demanded a meeting with the deputy attorney general's chief of staff, Michael Elston, who coolly informed them that "inappropriate information about them on the Internet" had disqualified a number of applicants. So after the meeting, the employees searched online and found out what had been so inappropriate. Most of the disqualified applicants were Democrats.
When that story broke last week, the Justice Department had the same non-denial denial: ""the department does not solicit any information about applicants' political affiliations or orientation."
But that wasn't the allegation. As the higher-ups at the department know full well, it would be totally inappropriate for the Justice Department to ask an applicant for his/her political affiliation. So they didn't. Instead, a small group of people in the deputy attorney general's office googled every applicant to find the information they'd been unable to solicit.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
WASHINGTON - A senior Justice Department official has resigned after coming under scrutiny in the Department’s expanding investigation of convicted super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to a Justice Department official with knowledge of the case.
Making the situation more awkward for the embattled Department, the official, Robert E. Coughlin II, was deputy chief of staff for the criminal division, which is overseeing the Department’s probe of Abramoff.
Here is the story from ABC
By the way. this is the same Tobias that was the Abstinence only world AIDS czar. Watch what they do not what they say.
Friday, April 27, 2007
This is just ridiculous.
From Cliff Schecter:
In a column that can only be described as hysterical (in every sense of the
word), Roger Simon over at Drudge Jr. (that's The Politico) criticizes John
Edwards for mentioning Christ in his prayer. Yeah, we all know how
the Democrats are constantly using Christ in th
eir politics, using the Bible as a reason to push forward certain political
Here's what Simon wrote;
Does John Edwards include Jews in his prayers? Or Muslims? Or Hindus? Or anySo after years and years of being told that they must appeal to the vast numbers of Christians who would vote for Democrats if only they weren't so hostile to their faith, the new rule is that the godless Democrats must not emphasize their own Christian faith or risk being called intolerant. Meanwhile, if they include other religions in their speeches, holiday greetings and prayers, they are said to be waging a war on Christians. Why, if I didn't know better, I'd think that Democrats just can't win with these people. Once again, this proves that Democrats are completely wasting their time ever responding to beltway insider CW. Their game is rigged and the only way to make people trust government is to stop. listening. to. the. pundits.
other non-Christians?He didn’t the other day. The other day, in order to
commemorate those killed at Virginia Tech, Edwards led a prayer “in Christ’s
name” at Ryman Auditorium, which bills itself as “Nashville’s Premier
Performance Hall.”Edwards has a perfect right to pray publicly or privately any
way he wants to. But people who are not Christians often feel left out of
prayers like his.
The Dan Gerstein sham
On Tuesday of this week, Hillary Clinton wrote for a post for FireDogLake regarding a bill she has sponsored in Congress, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is designed to "toughen the penalties for violating the Equal Pay Act." Clinton then participated in the comment section of the post, responding to questions and comments from FDL's bloggers and readers.
The following day, The Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers, wrote a piece claiming that Clinton's posting at FDL "is raising a few eyebrows in Democratic political circles." This is so, she asserts, because "in Democratic political circles [Jane] Hamsher is better known as the author of a racially offensive attack against Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)." Akers then "reports" this:
gossip columnists and right-wing hacks. Now, suddenly, according this lowly chatter, Hillary is in trouble because she involved herself with FDL.
A day after Clinton's post appeared on firedoglake.com, Democratic activists in various corners privately questioned the wisdom of the Clinton campaign in choosing to write for a blog associated with Hamsher.
Who are the "Democratic activists in various corners" complaining? She cites a grand total of two people -- one who is a "Hillary backer" who cowardly agreed to express these views only anonymously. Why grant anonymity to someone like this to do nothing more than express some sort of run-of-the-mill political criticism? Why deprive readers of knowing who that person is, to assess their importance, influence and credibility? Granting anonymity to people to spout little more than garden-variety political gossip is the sign of a reporter desperate to manufacture controversy in order to have something to write.
The only other source for Akers' sweeping claims is Joe Lieberman's personal consultant, Dan Gerstein, who receives attention only when he attacks liberal blogs, and therefore does it endlessly. Gerstein's candidate -- against whom FDL campaigned tirelessly, which just might explain his anti-FDL remarks -- is so unrepresentative of "Democrats" that his candidate was booted out of the party by his own state despite being a three-term incumbant Senator.
Predictably, the "controversy" manufactured by Akers has begun to spread. It is being touted by various
Here is a simple test:
1. Do you listen to Rush?
Answer: No, OK you are at least not a complete racist idiot so far as we can tell.
Answer: Yes, Then you have your answer. It is "yes" you are a racist.
Check out this racist smear against Obama:
Every patriotic American, who charishes our democracy, must watch this. Something needs to change, and fast. Lucy has some 'splaining to do.
A failure in generalship
By Lt. Col. Paul Yingling
"For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war.
These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress."
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Perhaps the tip was actually from an insurgent. Perhaps it was meant to put pressure on the Westernized citizens of Iraq. How do you know?
What a mess.
Perino Blindly Defends White House’s Political Briefings Without Knowing Any Facts
"White House officials have admitted that they “conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity.” Today, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino tried to defend these briefings, stating, “There’s nothing in the law that says you can’t do that. It’s not unethical.”
But the Hatch Act prohibits partisan campaign activities on federal property. CNN’s Ed Henry pointed out that six witnesses remember that at one of the briefings, Lurita Doan, the head of GSA, asked Karl Rove-deputy Scott Jennings, “What then, after getting this briefing, can we do to go help Republican candidates? And he said, Let’s talk off-line about that.”
Perino responded that she didn’t know what Jennings meant, adding, “I haven’t spoke to Scott Jennings about this. I don’t think that I will.” Henry asked Perino how she could “make a blanket statement saying no laws were broken” without knowing any details."
I find Dana's briefings go much better when I turn down the sound, but then, I am a pig.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
2. Rice will get an invitation (subpoena) to attend the Senatorial Ball.
2'. Rumor has it that the firing of US Attorney Charlton had a lot to do with his investigation of Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ).
3. Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, S.223 has had a secret hold put on it by a Republican. Now why wouldn't this bipartisan bill get an "up or down vote?" Funny how up or down votes are so important when Republicans have the votes, and not so important when they don't. I wouldn't make such a deal of this if Republicans had not made such a big deal last year with the confirmation of Judge Roberts. I can't even see through the hypocrisy here.
4. Yet another Republican House member Tom Feeney (R-FL) does not know Jack Abramoff. If you say so. By the way, whatever happened to the investigation into Tom Delay?
I spoke with a half-dozen prominent GOP operatives this past week, most of them high-level officials in the Reagan and Bush I and Bush II administrations, and I heard the same devastating critique: This White House is isolated and ineffective; the country has stopped listening to President Bush, just as it once tuned out the hapless Jimmy Carter; the president's misplaced sense of personal loyalty is hurting his party and the nation.
"This is the most incompetent White House I've seen since I came to Washington," said one GOP senator. "The White House legislative liaison team is incompetent, pitiful, embarrassing. My colleagues can't even tell you who the White House Senate liaison is. There is rank incompetence throughout the government. It's the weakest Cabinet I've seen." And remember, this is a Republican talking.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I'm struck by Sarah's point about the Right's "New Paternalism," and its interplay with Justice Kennedy's opinion. Kennedy argued that that it is “self-evident” that “a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she did not know.” As Sarah explains, "his twisted remedy, though, is not to ensure that a woman has adequate information; it’s to ensure that she has no option. Her moral judgment is completely eviscerated."
It is hard, in all of this, not to grow increasingly enraged at the makeup of the Court generally and the conservative bloc specifically. Kennedy could theorize all he wanted about female reactions to abortion: Within the group that voted to uphold the ban, there was not one woman. Five men made this decision for 150,000,000 women. Five men obviated the moral judgment of 150,000,000 women. And it is no surprise, surely, that the retirement of the conservative bloc's only female -- O'Connor -- finally permitted the deemphasis of maternal health in abortion cases, and that not one of the conservatives had the humility to retain O'Connor's insight after her exit.
Forced abortion in China
I heard this incredibly sad and disturbing story on NPR this morning about a recent spate of forced abortions in southwest China. The descriptions of women being packed into a hospital, with some forced to undergo abortions in the 7th month, was heart-wrenching.
But I found it equally upsetting that NPR referred to the perpetrators as Chinese "family planning" officials. I'm sorry, but "family planning" is about empowering women and couples to decide and plan for the number of children they want to have. It is NOT about the government deciding an appropriate number of children per family and forcing women to comply. What's happening in China is "coercive family planning."
It's also worth mentioning that Bush has used the fact that the Chinese government commits these crimes against women as justification for defunding the United Nations Population Fund, hampering its ability to help women and couples truly plan their families in countries around the world. (I recall a passage in Chris Mooney's book, The Republican War on Science, that thoroughly debunked the allegations that the UNFPA supported the Chinese government's "one child" policy. But now I can't find the book...)
Bottom line? Despite what U.S. anti-choicers say, no one who is pro-choice is pro-forced abortion. We are against government intervention in personal reproductive decisions -- whether it be by the U.S. Congress in banning abortion or by the Chinese government in forcing it.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Karl Rove Gets Thrown Under the Stop Global Warming Bus (221 comments )
READ MORE: Karl Rove, Sheryl Crow, Laurie David, White House
Last night Thelma and Louise drove the bus off the cliff or at least into the White House Correspondents Dinner. The "highlight" of the evening had to be when we were introduced to Karl Rove. How excited were we to have our first opportunity ever to talk directly to the Bush Administration about global warming.
We asked Mr. Rove if he would consider taking a fresh look at the science of global warming. Much to our dismay, he immediately got combative. And it went downhill from there.We reminded the senior White House advisor that the US leads the world in global warming pollution and we are doing the least about it. Anger flaring, Mr. Rove immediately regurgitated the official Administration position on global warming which is that the US spends more on researching the causes than any other country.We felt compelled to remind him that the research is done and the results are in (www.IPCC.ch). Mr. Rove exploded with even more venom. Like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum, Mr. Rove launched into a series of illogical arguments regarding China not doing enough thus neither should we. (Since when do we follow China's lead?)At some point during his ramblings, we became heartbroken to think that the President of the United States and his top advisers have partially built a career on global warming not being real. We have been telling college students across the country for the past two weeks that government does not change until people demand it... well, listen up folks, everyone had better get a lot louder because the message clearly is not getting through. In his attempt to dismiss us, Mr. Rove turned to head toward his table, but as soon as he did so, Sheryl reached out to touch his arm. Karl swung around and spat, "Don't touch me." How hardened and removed from reality must a person be to refuse to be touched by Sheryl Crow? Unphased, Sheryl abruptly responded, "You can't speak to us like that, you work for us." Karl then quipped, "I don't work for you, I work for the American people." To which Sheryl promptly reminded him, "We are the American people."At that point Mr. Rove apparently decided he had had enough. Like a groundhog fearful of his own shadow, he scurried to his table in an attempt to hibernate for another year from his responsibility to address global warming. Drama aside, you would expect as an American citizen to be able to engage in a civil discussion with a public official. Instead, Mr. Rove was dismissive, condescending, and quite frankly a bully.Ultimately, we were left wondering what on Earth Mr. Rove was talking about when he said "the American people." If more than 60% of American voters, the Supreme Court, over 400 cities, the US National Academy of Sciences, numerous major US corporations, and others don't constitute the American people, then what does? The truth is, if this administration cared one iota about the American people, they would have addressed this problem long ago, and the sad reality is that this problem has been left to us, all of us, since the current administration has abandoned this issue entirely. In the absence of true leadership, we must guide ourselves. We can solve this, but we had better act fast.
Representative Pete Sessions was very adamant about passing the bankruptcy reform bill and he told everyone in the house the reasons why:
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today that this House will have the opportunity to once again during the 108th Congress consider and send to the Senate much-needed bankruptcy reform legislation under this fair rule. I am proud of the tireless efforts on behalf of many Members and their staffs, who have put in countless hours towards the passage of this legislation over the last four Congresses.
Their efforts allow us today to again urge Senate action to ensure that our Nation's bankruptcy laws operate fairly, efficiently, and free of abuse. Congress has the opportunity to once again end, once and for all, the loophole to debtors who are able to repay some portion of their debts to game the system and increase the cost of credit, goods and services for other law-abiding citizens. Between 2002 and 2003, the Federal court system reported that there was a 9.6 percent increase in bankruptcy filings to over 1.650 million filings, and these filings have a real cost not only to every consumer but also to simple, everyday Americans.
In 1998, debtors who filed for bankruptcy relief discharged more than $44 billion of debt. When amortizing on a daily basis, this amounts to a loss of at least $110 million every day; or put more simply, bankruptcies cost each American family that pays their bills on time $450 a year in the form of higher costs for credit, goods and services. As the other body continues to stall on this legislation to protect the system from further abuse, these numbers and totals only continue to mount.
It has been estimated that if current practices continue, one out of every seven households will have filed for bankruptcy by the end of this decade, with many of these losses as a result of the misuse of the law by irresponsible, high-income filers. The Credit Union National Association, known as CUNA, reported last year that credit unions have lost nearly $3 billion from bankruptcies since Congress began considering bankruptcy reform legislation in 1998.
This bill is crafted to ensure the debtor's right to a fresh start while protecting the system from flagrant abusers by those who can, should, and, we believe, will be paying their own bills. Bankruptcy should not be a convenience or just another financial planning tool, and this legislation will ensure that it will remain a safety net for those who genuinely need it while trying to prevent bad actors from imposing their costs on everyone else.
Stirring words, I'm sure you'll agree. But apparently these calls to protect business from fraud are meant for losers and Democrats, not good Republican friends of Pete's:
In the first day of September last year, Congressman Pete Sessions was in a place no congressman would want to be: sitting in a conference room with a pack of divorce lawyers, describing how a longtime friend and campaign contributor shuffled assets while trying to avoid a $1.4 million judgment in a stock fraud case.
The Dallas Republican’s friend and donor—69-year-old Ahron Katz—had begun
transferring assets to his wife Lucia shortly after the judgment. The transfers were done, Sessions knew, with the understanding that when the legal storm blew over, she would give them back. When the fraud case was settled 10 months later, Lucia Katz thanked her husband for his generous gifts of real estate, cash, and securities, and decided it would be bad manners to return them.
When the marriage ended up in a Collin County divorce court, the congressman found himself in the odd position of providing testimony about his knowledge of the transferred assets. First, in a sworn affidavit, Sessions recounted a telephone conversation in which the Katzes described their scheme to him: “The intent expressed to me was that both understood that it was clearly ever intended by Ahron to gift this property to Lucia and Lucia clearly understood this.”
Later, in the September deposition, Sessions reiterated that the whole arrangement had been a ploy to fend off the creditors: “I think they were trying to find a way to hide and move those assets,” the congressman said under oath.
Read more at the link about the ethically challenged Sessions and then come back and tell me again how I'm being shrill and hyperbolic when I make the generalization that Republican politicians are crooks. They break laws and do unethical things even when it doesn't benefit them directly --- just because that's the way their system works.
They simply don't believe that the rules apply to rich and powerful people. Read his words once more about that bankruptcy legislation which it more difficult for families without health insurance to recover from massive, obscene medical bills when they had a health crisis. Then look again at the sanctimonious gasbag complaining about business being defrauded, which apparently is only a problem if it isn't one of his rich friends doing it, since he admits under oath that this contributor and his wife were hiding their assets from creditors.
This is just one guy. But those who fail to rein them in, who refuse to distance themselves from this --- particularly the so-called religious right, who also worship big bucks --- are aiding and abetting. The fact is that there are so damned many of the that I don't know why we should avoid making the sweeping generalization that the GOP is basically a racket. It makes sense when you think about it: their swaggering rhetoric that says you're a dupe if you pay taxes and calls government the enemy would naturally draw the kind of political leader who literally believes that the rules don't apply to him.
H/T to BB
- The shootings in Virginia, liberals fault.
- Violent video, liberals fault.
- Imus and racism in talk shows, liberals fault.
- Tsunamis: liberals fault.
- Earthquakes, liberals again.
- Mosquito's, you guessed it, liberals.
Next he is going to blame liberals for global warming and skin cancer. Why does anyone listen to this creep?
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Gonzales: U.S. Attorneys With ‘Management Issues’ Should Be Fired, Unless They’re Loyal Bushies
In Thursday’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales admitted that in Nov. 2006, he approved the firings of several U.S. attorneys “without ever looking at [their] performance reports.” He also admitted that at the time, he didn’t even know why two of the prosecutors — Daniel Bogden in Nevada and Margaret Chiara in Michigan — were on the hit list.
At the hearing, Gonzales told Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) that he later learned Chiara’s office suffered from “poor management issues” and a “loss of confidence by career individuals,” which justified the firing:
BROWNBACK: Margaret Chiara, the Western District of Michigan?
GONZALES: Same issue. She’s the other person, quite candidly, Senator, that I don’t recall remembering — I don’t recall the reason why that I accepted the decision on December 7th. But I’ve since learned that it was a question of similar kinds of issues: poor management issues, loss of confidence by career individuals.Gonzales’s explanation seems to be nothing more than a false excuse. Four top staffers to Rachel Paulose, the U.S. attorney in Minnesota, recently voluntarily demoted themselves in protest of Paulose’s “highly dictatorial style” of managing. According to news reports, the staffers’ dramatic moves were “intended to send a message to Washington — that 33-year-old Paulose is in over her head.” Additionally, the Bush administration unsuccessfully tried to prevent the resignations by sending a “top justice official to Minneapolis” to mediate.
We had to send someone out from main Justice to help mediate some kind of personnel dispute. So it was a question simply of someone not having total control of the office.
Yet Justice Department has not fired Paulose, even though her office has the same problems that Gonzales said Chiara’s office suffered. Instead, it put out a statement of support, stating it was “confident” Paulose was “dedicated to leading an effective U.S. attorneys office in Minnesota.”
A look at Paulose’s background may explain why she is still in her job. A Bush administration loyalist, Paulose was “a special assistant to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, worked as a senior counsel for deputy attorney general Paul McNulty and is best buds with Monica Goodling.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called Gonzales’s explanations “a stretch,” adding that he thought the prosecutors were fired because of “made up reasons.”
1. President Bush has refuse to extradite a Venezuelan terrorist with a long history of violent attacks in Latin America. Why? He is concerned that the terrorist will be tortured. How is that for hypocritical Chutzpa!
2. Two house Republicans had their offices raided by the FBI and stepped down from their committee assignments this week. Doolittle, R-CA and Renzi, R-AZ are not the first and will not be the last.
3. The Justice Department has been asked by the Education Department's Inspector General to investigate Reading First, a Bush administration program to teach poor children to read. Apparently the Inspector has documented rampant cronyism, conflicts of interest and bias in how federal officials and private consultants operated the program.
I believe rampant cronyism, conflicts of interest and self dealing in every department of the federal government under Bush. He has replaced many levels of management at governmental agencies with his cronies and they, in turn, funnel money to their cronies or themselves. It is just standard operating procedure for this crowd.
This departmental abuse is also why the problems with the Justice Department are such a nightmare. The Justice Department is tasked with investigating this self dealing. They have not been doing so, and we citizens are paying the price. I call it the raping of the tax payer.
On Bill Maher
On being allowed, as a sharholder, to approve executive compensation.
Frank being very clear to Fox's Cavuto. Cavuto is so caught up in right wing propaganda, it affects his hearing and comprehension.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
The point is, bin Laden has succeeded in provoking the United States into working against its own interests, in goading us into becoming mired in a war in the mideast much like the one that ultimately helped destroy the Soviet Union. Bringing bin Laden's goal of a single mideast Muslim state. But you don't have to believe me, or Cole, or Atwan. Here's bin Laden himself:
All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this
administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest
point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to
make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and
political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some
benefits for their private companies.
FBI Raids Renzi Family Business; Congressman Leaves Intelligence Panel
By Susan Davis
Roll Call Staff Thursday, April 19; 10:04 pm
In a second blow to House Republicans this week, the FBI raided a business tied to the family of Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) Thursday afternoon as part of an ongoing investigation into the three-term lawmaker.
And what did they do with all that cash? They sat on it and didn't do a damn thing, didn't lift a finger to fight Samuel Alito. Worse yet, when the Gang of 14 decided to vote in favor of cloture, they said that they did not consider cloture votes "significant" and would not be considering them in their scorecard. They then went on to add insult to injury by asking their membership to thank Lincoln Chafee and Joe Lieberman for the beatings they delivered with their "aye" cloture vote by pretending that their "nay" floor votes were significant. They then poured salt into the wound by endorsing both "short ride" Lieberman and Chafee over their opponents who made it clear that they would not have voted for cloture for Alito, which gave us the 5-4 decision we have today.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Note the wording though: "Minnesota ranked seventh in taxes collected per capita." They never say we have the highest rate. They talk in terms of actual dollars collected.
Why is this so important? Well, it turns out that Minnesotans have the eighth highest income per capita. It seems only logical that if you have the eighth highest income you would have the eighth highest tax collected per capita.
It turns out that Minnesota ranks 25th in tax rate per capita. You heard me correctly. We are totally average when you account for the fact that we are a wealthy state in per capita income.
So whenever I hear someone moan about their "high" state taxes, I say "If you want to pay lower taxes then simply cut your income." Until then, save your breath.
"The impact findings show no overall impact on teen sexual activity, no differences in rates of unprotected sex, and some impacts on knowledge of STDs and perceived effectiveness of condoms and birth control pills."
There you have it. We can all tell our sons and daughters to abstain from sex until marriage, but it will have no impact, none. Looks like we will have to try something else. Duh!
Here is the nine year study. Conclusions are on page 83 of 164.
Here is the story from TPM
We have been treated in the last 48 hours to an extremely vivid illustration of how conventional political Beltway wisdom is created....
First was a story on Monday about the costs of Edwards' haircuts and visits to a spa, plainly intended to fuel the principal right-wing anti-Edwards caricature -- his effeminate obsession with his hair.
That was followed by another Smith story yesterday ripping out of context a small part of Obama's speech -- in which he spoke of various types of "violence" (beyond physical violence) that create divisions in America. Attaching himself to the prevailing anti-Obama cliche, Smith asserts that these excerpts illustrate Obama's "instinct for abstraction and large themes, and his sense that America's problems have at their root solutions that have as much to do with hope and process as with any specific course of action..."
But none of this is substantive criticism. It is just petty, cheap personality-based mockery of the strain that dominates (and degrades and destroys) our political discourse -- it is Al Gore inventing the Internet and claiming to be the inspiration for Love Story, and John Kerry wind-surfing and speaking French. It is all just mindless gossipy shorthand intended to fuel right-wing caricatures and platitudes that have nothing to do with substance and everything to do with demonizing the personality of these political figures in order to render them ugly and embarrassing -- hence, Edwards is a girlish fop and Obama is an intellectual lightweight who relies on empty fancy-sounding buzzphrases in lieu of substance...
What is notable here is not so much the specific petty attacks, but the method of how they are disseminated and engrained as conventional wisdom among our Really Smart Political Insiders. This is the process that occurred here, and it is the process that repeats itself endlessly:
STEP 1: A new right-wing gossip (Ben Smith) at a new substance-free political rag (The Politico) seizes on some petty, manufactured incident to fuel personality caricatures of Democratic candidates.
STEP 2: The old right-wing gossip (Drudge) uses his old substance-free political rag (The Drudge Report) to amplify the inane personality caricatures.
STEP 3: Right-wing hacks with pretenses of respectability -- like Mickey Kaus and others -- follow the script by "analyzing" the gossip and embracing it.
STEP 4: National media outlets -- such as AP and CNN -- whose world is ruled by Drudge, turn the gossip into "news stories."
STEP 5: Our Serious Beltway Political Analysts -- in this case, the very somber and smart Substantive Journalists at The New Republic -- mindlessly repeat all of it, thereby solidifying it as conventional wisdom, showing that "even Democrats and liberals are embarrassed by their candidates."
One should note here that Step 5, the Final Stage, is almost always sponsored by those who endlessly proclaim how irresponsible and substance-free and unserious political bloggers are, and who thereafter write pieces which do nothing other than repeat the latest Drudge gossip...
But this is the process that generates our country's petty conventional political wisdom. And it these type of personality stories which are often outcome-determinative.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
And another thing, the Administration says they should not have to make their discussions, held in the White House, public as it would deprive them of good information. That is, they would not get good council from advisers if those advisers thought their discussions were not private. Sorry, I don't buy this line of bullshit. If you are doing the people's business then you should not say anything you would be embarrassed to have released to the public. There are national security issues, sure. But not everything else.
This begs the question, why is Rove so consumed by pushing a voter fraud theme? There is seems to be virtually no Democratic voter fraud problem, but Rove, through US Attorneys, has been demanding prosecution of voter fraud cases no matter how bogus they were. Why?
Is it voter suppression he is after? Perhaps. Is it a theme that democrats are crooked and will juice the elections to win? More likely this is the case. I guess he is hoping for a voter backlash against Democrats and all the "voter fraud" out there.
I have repeatedly heard stories of Mickey Mouse being a registered voter and thus, the story goes, there is voter fraud. In fact this has been investigated by an number of U S Attorneys offices, and what was found is that Democratic voter registration employees, canvassing neighborhoods, were paid by the number of people they registered. So they made people up.
Once this problem was understood, the method of payment was changed and the bogus name issue disappeared. In fact the U S Attorney investigating the allegation in New Mexico found no evidence of actual fraud as he found it unlikely that anyone would actually vote as "Mickey Mouse."
David Iglasias put the case where it belonged, in the dust bin, much to Senator Pete Domichi's consternation. He made a call to David Iglasias. When Iglasies said he could not talk about cases he was fired for not following administration policy. That is, not bringing the bogus case. In Wisconsin the U S Attorney pulled the case out of the dust bin and prosecuted. One attorney bows to political pressure and saves his job, one does not, and is fired. Humm.
Number of college attendees: approx 16,000,000
Number of accidental gun deaths per gun owner: .000188
Number of accidental gun deaths if our students were packing: 3008/yr
This does not include gun deaths that might result from altercations over girlfriends, boyfriends, drugs, alcohol, and whatever else.
Sure, let's give all our college students handguns. That will make me want to send my kids on to higher education.
The attorney general has a difficult needle to thread: He must correct his earlier comments that he had limited knowledge and involvement in the firing process, without making it look as if he had intentionally misled the public. He must give a plausible explanation for both the firings and the muddled response from his department, without appearing incompetent to lead. And he has to do it all under oath.
I think the outcome will be a Gonzales resignation, a perjury charge, or both. I just see no indication that Alberto is smart enough to get out of this. His lack of thoughtfulness has gotten him into this and now he will pay the price.
This story line sounds familiar, doesn't it?
After Pelosi's Syria trip, there is a 15-point gap in favor of Congressional Democrats over Congressional Republicans. These media stars have absolutely no idea what and how "Americans" think. They take the conventional Beltway wisdom they pass amongst one another -- all generated by their White House confidants and other right-wing sources who have long ruled Washington (and therefore "their world") -- and they mindlessly assume it to be true and then run around repeating it without any effort to determine if it is actually true (or they know it's false and repeat it anyway).
Or, as The Boston Globe's editor, Martin Baron, put it yesterday in explaining what Charlie Savage did to merit a Pulitzer Prize that distinguishes him from other journalists: "he covered what the White House does, not just what it says."
By stark contrast, the Tim Russerts, Matt Lauers and Suzanne Malvaeux's hear what their secret White House and Bush following sources tell them ("Americans don't want negotiations with Syria -- Pelosi is in big trouble on this one -- this feeds the image of Democrats as weak and untrustworthy on national security - this was a major unforced error from Pelosi -- she's really overreaching here -- Karl Rove is chortling over the pictures of Pelosi in Damascus") and then they run around repeating those cliches.
That whole week, the media stars were simply copying the right-wing talking points fed to them about Pelosi's trip, and then making one false claim after the next about how Americans think. For instance, the week of Pelosi's trip, GOP Rep. Eric Cantor in National Review wrote that "the Speaker and many of her Democratic allies have become so drunk with grandiose visions of deposing Bush that they break bread with terrorists and enemies of the United States." That was the premise the media stars adopted -- that Americans see Syria as "the enemy" and therefore will view Pelosi's trip as fueling the image of Democrats as subversive, soft-on-terrorism losers who cannot be "trusted on national security."
But that is how the right-wing fringe thinks (and therefore how our media stars think), not how most Americans think. The vast majority of Americans favor negotiations with the Syrians ("By 64% to 28%, respondents favored the [Baker-Hamilton] group's recommendation to open direct talks with Iran and Syria"). And only a small minority of Americans share Rep. Cantor's view that Syria is even our "enemy" at all. From a Rasmussen poll taken in the midst of the Pelosi/Syria "controversy": Even Israelis, by an overwhelming 54-31 margin, favor negotiations with Syria. The notion that Americans would backlash against Pelosi for defying the Leader and travelling to Syria existed only on the talking points pages of right-wing operatives and (therefore) in the minds of our media stars. It never existed in reality, as the latest polling data conclusively demonstrates.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Update 4-17: Gone!
Sunday, April 15, 2007
I just listened to a show called Speaking of Faith with Christa Tippet. Her interview with Rev. Cizek was wonderful. I respect this man. He is rational and reasonable. I probably do not agree with some of his positions, but would be happy to work with him on the vast majority of things that trouble our world. Thank goodness he has risen to the top of the Evangelical Movement. I am sure there are others who I know nothing about. From this short interview, Mr Cizek appears to be one that I believe people should consider listening to.
The White House Email Scandal: Sorting Through the Spin
"The White House has acknowledged that many years' worth of official email–which is required by law to be preserved–has been "lost." The reason it was lost is because many White House staffers, most notably Karl Rove, have conducted much of their official business over the years on private RNC-sponsored email accounts that routinely purged old email. The White House has attempted to mitigate its culpability for this blatant violation of the Presidential Records Act by arguing that it was the byproduct of a good faith effort to comply with another law, the Hatch Act, which prohibits conducting certain partisan political activity on government time. As White House spokesperson Dana Perino put it:
What I know — I checked into this — is that certain White House officials and staff members who have responsibilities that straddle both worlds, that have responsibilities in communication, regular interface with political organizations, do have a separate email account for those political communications. That is entirely appropriate, especially when you think of it in this case, that the practice is in place and followed precisely to avoid any inadvertent violations of what is called the Hatch Act. And so there are some members of the administration that do straddle both worlds. And so under an abundance of caution so that they don't violate the Hatch Act, they have these separate emails.
The goal here is to portray these White House staffers as honest civil servants trying their best to comply with two contradictory sets of legal mandates. And the White House has actually been pretty successful at selling this line, as evidenced by this paragraph from a recent New York Times story:
At issue is how the White House complies with two seemingly competing laws. One is the 1978 Presidential Records Act, which requires the administration to ensure that its decisions and deliberations are “adequately documented” and that records flowing out of those decisions are preserved. The other is the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal officials from engaging in political business on government time.
But here's the thing. It's just not true. The Hatch Act and the Presidential Records Act are not "competing" laws. It's remarkably easy to comply with both. All you have to do is preserve your official communications."
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Only the typical strident idiots are still clinging, by a pinkie fingernail, to the ludicrous assertion that politics is the sole driver of the investigation bus. The bus is loaded with legitimate questions about how just our Justice Department is. We are now seeing evidence of unjust prosecution and obfuscation of legitimate investigations into public corruption.
At what time do we call a spade a spade. Our Justice Department has been co opted by right wing partisan politics, just like our Interior Department, and our Commerce Department. It seems the only department that is fighting back may be our Defense Department. Then again, they are the only department that pays a personal price for criminally misguided policies.
Who pays the price for misguided policies at Justice, Commerce and the Interior? The Tax Payers, and this astounding price will be paid for years to come. Every rock in this administration has buckets of slime under it. Get used to turning rocks over and uncovering our shame.
Here is her clip
Wanna see how horrible these people are? Check this out.
The pool of people smarter than me is large, perhaps we should start tapping into it, at least once in a while.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Today, the House Judiciary Committee released a new set of documents from the Department of Justice relating to the firings of eight U.S. Attorneys.
The last page of document set 3 contains an email from Monica Goodling with an attached Excel spreadsheet on “USA data (GWB).”
The spreadsheet appears to assess a list of U.S. Attorneys based on a variety of different qualifications, including prosecution experience and political experience. But there is one column dedicated solely to an assessment of whether the attorneys are members of the Federalist Society. See below. The far right column contains a data column for “FedSoc”:
If you read the Federalist Society web site you would think they were reasonable people and what could be the harm in having a requirement that US Attorneys be members? Well, as always, it depends on what direction they take in implementing policy. For example: "Members of the society have debated the abolition of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, limiting the power of the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies, limiting the reach of gender equity laws (Title IX) and voting rights laws, and expanded powers of war-time presidents. The organization also hosts panels discussing recent Supreme Court decisions, the constitutionality of school vouchers, and the scope of the commerce clause."
From Wikipedia, you can read this. If you wonder if The Federalist Society is conservative, just look at the far right wing who fund it:
The Federalist Society is funded by its modest members dues and other grants. It has received over $12 million in grants from conservative foundations, such as the Earhart, Bradley, Simon, and Olin foundations, as well as the Carthage, Koch, and Scaife Foundations.Who do you know that is a member?
"The Society has many prominent conservative members, including United States Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia (who served as the original faculty advisor to the organization), Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, former United States Circuit Court Judge Robert Bork, former United States Attorney General Edwin Meese, former United States Solicitor General Ted Olson, Senator Orrin Hatch, former United States Solicitor General Kenneth Starr and Congressman Dan Lungren."
Ted Olson is one heck of a peice of work and I know of someone who went to law school with Antonin Scalia. She was on Law Review and Scalia, frustrated by her presence, asked her why she was not at home "raising babies."
Since its inception, the Federalist Society has played a key role in advancing the right-wing agenda. As a ideological proving ground for ultra-conservative activists, lawyers, and scholars, the Federalist Society has long served as a valuable professional network for those on the Right and has proved to be a valuable resource from which the Bush administration has culled not only numerous administration officials, but also judicial nominees.
So much of a "fair and balanced" Judiciary and a unbiased Justice Department.
Here is a clip of White House Press Spokesperson, Dana Parino, trying to explain how, on Wednesday, the President could blame Congress' supplemental spending bill for potential longer deployments in Iraq; while the very next day the Pentagon extended deployments. It seems obvious, to anyone with a brain, that supplemental spending bills had nothing to do with the extended deployment. She says that the President did not know that his entire military force would be extedned the very next day. Now there is a hefty confidence builder in our Commander and Chief.
Here is a clip of Kyle Sampson trying to explain why he wrote a memo saying that Karl Rove wanted Griffin appointed as US Attorney, while at the same time saying he did not talk to Rove about it and had no information that it was important to Mr Rove, implying that politics had nothing to do with it. Oh, I get it. The appointment of Griffin was both important and not important to Karl Rove. Now that Kyle has explained it so eloquently we can move on, can't we?
I'm telling you, all this squirming is better than NHL hocky playoffs. Unless the Wild get buy the Ducks, of course
Imus was a racist and antisemite. For that there is no excuese, except perhaps being born in America, where many in his audience probably agree with him. He should have been gone a long time ago. Perhaps it is the timeing I don't trust. I am willing to bet there is more to the story.
I am also squeamish about the seeming arbitrariness of it all. There are plenty of radio hosts that foist misogynistic, racist, antisemitic crap on the listening audience. Rush Limbaugh comes to mind immediately with his "feminazies" and his "halfrican" comments. Not to mention his crude parody of Michael Fox last year.
In the Minneapolis market we have KQRS. The Morning Show's Tom Barnard is routinely racist in the material he chooses to air. If you ever wanted to study negative stereotypes. All all you have to do is listen to his drive time schtick.
Much of drive time and right wing radio reduces the level of public discourse to picking on minorities, women, the poor, and Democrats. When did a drive time DJ call a white executive to sucker with some prank? Where is CBS Radio's corporate decisiveness and morality on all that?
Don Imus dished it out to all sides of the political spectrum, not just the Democrats. Perhaps that is why he was expendable?
"Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening?" Iacocca writes. "Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, 'Stay the course.' "
Tangentially, here is a good analysis of the standoff, between Bush and Congress, by Keith Olberman
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Also from TPM
But it's apparent from emails that the White House avoided the governmental email system because it was vulnerable to investigators. The Hatch Act just provided a good excuse. In 2003, for instance, a lobbyist for Jack Abramoff Kevin Ring wrote him that emails about Abramoff's clients shouldn't be sent to White House addresses because "it might actually limit what they can do to help us, especially since there could be lawsuits, etc." That warning, Ring told The Washington Post, came from Jennifer Farley, a deputy in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Susan Ralston, Rove's personal aide, used RNC provided email accounts when corresponding with Abramoff, her old boss.
And remember that Karl Rove reportedly uses his RNC-provided account for approximately 95% of his communication.
In other words, it was an open secret at the White House that the parallel system was to be used for everything you didn't want coming out later -- an understanding that was most likely never made explicit, but a situation that was carefully preserved by not providing apparently any parameters for what sort of communication should be done via the White House system.
I do think that Matt Stoller has made a very good point on the issue:
Where do we come into this picture? Well, Imus and these other simpering idiots are getting rich on our backs. As FCC Commissioner Michael Copps pointed out, we give these media and telecom oligarchs $500 billion in public spectrum. Why should they act responsibly when we subsidize them like this? If our culture says that Imus shouldn't be racist, public policy decisions that grant huge subsidies to the people that employ him say otherwise. The problem is Carville, Oliphant, Begala, etc are the beneficiaries of an immoral system that allows cultural gatekeepers like Imus immense power. So let's not be surprised when they defend it.
In the next few weeks we will have the opportunity to really go after these media structures on a public policy level. We've already done it once with some success, by defending net neutrality last cycle. And with the FCC considering how to auction off an immense amount of high quality spectrum that could be used to build an entirely new wireless broadband national network accessible to everyone, there is an opportunity to dismantle these subsidies. The internet shows what is possible when a diverse and open media system takes power from top-downers like Don Imus, James Carville, etc. Bringing this system to everyone, everywhere, and building a new media model on top of it is the way to fix the Imus problem, permanently. It's time to end the redlining that is so obvious all over TV and that is written into the very landscape of modern America.
They are our airwaves. Let's reclaim them.
This is a point I have made repeatedly. The big media outlets are subsidized by the public to the tune of 500 billion per year. They give nothing back. They make a lot of money and simply regurgitate talking points in the name of "news." I do not think, in the grand scheme of things, that the Imuses of the world are the big problem. I think that the public settling for a big media that spends all its time catering to the lowest common denominator in the chase for a buck is the problem. If they get our airwaves for free then they need to be responsible in there coverage of hard news. They need to be responsible for good programming that has at least some educational value. They need to work to promote an educated and enlightened population.
On these measures media has failed us for years. We need to hold them accountable. If the public discourse is raised then the Imuses of the world will die the death they deserve, their fans will stop listening.
As always Digby says it better:
So I make myself some coffee and open my dead tree version of the NY Times this morning only to see a call for blogger ethics on the front page. How interesting. Another call for "managed civil speech" (which is claimed to be "freer" than unfettered free speech.) There was no word on who would be the managers of such speech, but I think we can count on those who call for it to be the ones who feel they are most qualified to define and enforce it. (Apparently, this will all be done "voluntarily" and will be dealt with through purges and link boycotts and the novel concept of moderated comment sections. Or something.) Meanwhile, on the media page is a story about the execrable Don Imus and the fact that he routinely makes racist, misogynistic and eliminationist jokes on his show while half the Washington press corps spends time there kissing his ring. For some reason that kind of "incivility" doesn't upset the journalistic prima donnas half as much as the uncivil blogosphere does. So what's up with this? The blogosphere is admittedly an uncivil place. Nobody disputes that. But it is comprised of a bunch of disparate individuals who are arguing amongst themselves with varying degress of seriousness and talent as part of the national (and international) dialog. There is a corner of it that is despicable and revolting, as the misogyny that set off this latest debate clearly demonstrates. But for inexplicable reasons it's the liberal blogosphere that is being particularly attacked for our alleged incivility by the mainstream media. (I suspect it's the fact that we drop the "F" bomb too much, which is simply shocking in American life) However, for almost two decades now, talk radio has been spewing vile racist, misogynistic and eliminationst spew --- and their stars have been feted and petted for it among the highest levels of the capital cognoscenti. I don't know for sure why that would be, but I have my suspicions. First of all, I suppose it's possible that the media insiders all share the politics and beliefs of Rush and Imus and O'Reilly and Hannity and Savage. They could be crude racists and misogynists and haters of all forms of liberalism who love to make vulgar jokes at others' expense. I have no way of knowing except for the company they keep. So that's one theory. The other is that they are, like a lot of people in this culture, drawn to anyone who makes a lot of money, and lord knows, these spewers of rightwing filth have made billions from selling their hate over the years. Many of the media insiders are extremely wealthy themselves, so perhaps they see Rush and Imus as being part of their social class and therefore are willing to give them a pass. That's another theory.Or maybe it's because they all work for big media companies and there's a certain synergistic pressure on all of them to kiss each others asses. Or maybe it's a combination of all these things and more.Whatever the reason, it's quite clear that mainstream media have either ignored, pandered to or actively embraced hate radio for almost two decades now. Nary a peep has been said about the relentless, daily drumbeat of demogoguery and loathing of their fellow citizens that these talk show hosts vomit onto the public airwaves for anyone with a radio to hear....
The discourse that everyone is so shocked to see is now uncivil and "nasty" was polluted decades ago by a bunch of rich, white businessmen who saw that they could make a very nice profit at exploiting the lizard brain of the American rightwing and help their political cause at the same time. The media thought it was all in good fun (and good for their bosses) just as they do today.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I guarantee that the White House set Pelosi Up, and now the Right Wing Smear Machine is working it hard to feed the false story. Every rock you turn over with these guys has slime under it.
"At this meeting, the leaders in Congress can report on progress on getting an emergency spending bill to my desk," Bush said. "We can discuss the way forward on a bill that is a clean bill, a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal and without handcuffing our generals on the ground. I'm hopeful we'll see some results soon from the Congress."
Mc joan at Kos:
All due respect to the office of the president, but WTF? Mr. President, Congress doesn't have to "report" to you. You are not driving the legislative process, your experiences of the past six years to the contrary. If you're not extending anything in the process, then forget it. Which is basically what Harry Reid said in response.
For the President to say he will meet but not negotiate is odd. Why meet then? For six years he signed every pork laden Republican spending bill he could. He did not veto one bill for five of those years. Now, all of a sudden, he wants a "clean" bill. He must be kidding. Unfortunately he is not.
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Here is the report.
Here is just one of many examples of why politicizing our justice department is a problem:
"(April 06, 2007 -- 09:59 PM EST // link)
There was a lot of buzz today about a corruption case in Wisconsin from last year. A Bush-appointed US Attorney indicted a government bureaucrat in a case that implicated the state's Democratic governor. But yesterday a circuit court threw out the conviction saying the evidence against the convicted official was "beyond thin."
Indeed, the circuit court judges thought the case was so bogus that it's hard not to ask whether the US Attorney in this case, Steven Biskupic, might not be one of those "loyal Bushies" who kept his job because he knew that one of his jobs was getting Republicans elected. It prompts the question; but it's certainly too soon to say that's the case. And yet look at how Biskupic's number two and spokesperson responded when asked if the prosecution was politically motivated.
In an interview, Michelle Jacobs of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Milwaukee denied that the prosecution was politically motivated.
"I can tell you that from our perspective it was not, but that is as far as I'm going to go," said Jacobs, a first assistant U.S. attorney.
Is that a strong denial?
-- Josh Marshall
The Bush administration is quietly remaking the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, filling the permanent ranks with lawyers who have strong conservative credentials but little experience in civil rights, according to job application materials obtained by the Globe.
The documents show that only 42 percent of the lawyers hired since 2003, after the administration changed the rules to give political appointees more influence in the hiring process, have civil rights experience. In the two years before the change, 77 percent of those who were hired had civil rights backgrounds. . . .
For decades, such committees had screened thousands of resumes, interviewed candidates, and made recommendations that were only rarely rejected.
Now, hiring is closely overseen by Bush administration political appointees to Justice, effectively turning hundreds of career jobs into politically appointed positions.