Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Kansas GOP Chair Sends Email Boasting of Voter Caging

Blue Tide Rising: Kobach admits to coordinated voter supressionKS GOP chair Kris Kobach admits using voter suppression 'caging' tactic to steal 08 election

Kris Kobach, a former counsel to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft who is currently the chairman of the Kansas GOP, sent out an email on Thur entitled “Kansas Republican Party Year in Review” in which he brags of voter caging. Blue Tide Rising has the goods:
… Kris Kobach, chairman of the Kansas GOP, sent out a self-congratulatory litany of accomplishments. Among them was one particularly eye-catching item:
"To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years!" […]
Slate.com has the best comprehensive write-up on how the Republican Party employs caging techniques to suppress the votes of the poor, the deployed, and college students. (You know, likely Democratic voters.)

Did we mention it’s illegal? And that Kris Kobach is proud to be doing it?

Since Kris Kobach can’t expand his own party or force his own Party’s members to support his candidates he’s shamelessly trying to keep Democrats from voting instead. This is the stratagem of a desperate and shrinking party.

Someone needs to ask Kris Kobach which voters he’s caging and how he’s doing it. Someone like a newspaper editor or perhaps a Grand Jury. … (more)
More on Kris Kobach here and here (He apparently suffers from an advanced case of Lou Dobb's disease). Depending on what methods are being used in Kobach’s admitted voter caging scheme, it may very well be illegal, but hardly surprising. Voter suppression through caging lists has become a standard part of the Republican playbook to steal elections for some time now. In Sept McClatchy detailed current Republican voter caging efforts underway in Florida and Ohio to “impede Democratic-leaning minorities from voting in 2008,” and back in July PBS NOW took a look at the Republican Party’s voter caging plan “designed to keep Democrats from voting, allegedly by targeting people based on their race and ethnicity.” Watch that video here.

Late Update: This post really took off. After I helped shine a light on it by posting it over at C&L, it got picked up by several other of the more notable blogs including HuffPo and DailyKos, was all over Air America for a day or two (especially Thom Hartmann), then was picked up by the KC Star political blog, the Lawrence Journal, then the AP. As Blue tide Rising says now: "Kris Kobach is famous"

Happy/Merry Christmas/ Festivus/ Hanukkah/ Holidays/ Kwanzaa/ Yule


Been a while since I posted, but I definitely wish all who dare to venture to my site peace and all the very best now and always. We went through a week without power/cable/phone/internet after an ice storm (by "we" I mean our entire city and much of the county. Some went two weeks or more) a little more than 2 weeks ago. That and I've been working a lot more than usual, so I kind of let my blog-less-traveled take a back seat for a while. Still, you can usually find me more often than not posting and putting videos together for C&L.

How Healthy is Your Medical Credit Score?

Your money or and your life!

Dallas Morning News: Mortgage lenders aren’t the only ones showing more interest in your credit score these days – the health industry is creating its own score to judge your ability to pay. […]

The score is already raising questions from consumer advocacy groups that fear it will be checked before patients are treated. People with low medical credit scores could receive lower-quality care than those with a healthy medFICO, they argue.
Your life usually isn’t at stake when a credit report turns up something negative, but in this case it very well might be. To some extent these types of decisions have already been being made by some hospitals, like when they just dump indigent patients on skid row, but this can only make it easier for other hospitals to make similar decisions for even more people. While a person’s overall credit score is largely based on voluntary purchases which one typically has some control over (assuming there isn’t an error), health care debt is largely involuntary. Even someone lucky enough to have health insurance can suddenly find themselves overwhelmed with debt they cannot afford through no fault of their own. A study two years ago found that “34% of U.S. adults ages 19 to 64 face problems with medical bills or have medical debt, although 62% of those individuals have health insurance.”

So, what do you think will happen once the hospital finds out your “medical credit score” doesn’t measure up?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Anatomy of a Failure: How America Lost the War on Drugs

Great new read by Ben Wallace-Wells in this month’s Rolling Stone that exposes how the $500 Billion spent on the Drug War over the last 35 years has been all but a complete waste of time and money, and an absolute failure by any standard of measure. How America Lost the War on Drugs

[A]fter U.S. drug agents began systematically busting up the Colombian cartels - doubt was replaced with hard data. Thanks to new research, U.S. policy-makers knew with increasing certainty what would work and what wouldn’t. The tragedy of the War on Drugs is that this knowledge hasn’t been heeded. We continue to treat marijuana as a major threat to public health, even though we know it isn’t. We continue to lock up generations of teenage drug dealers, even though we know imprisonment does little to reduce the amount of drugs sold on the street. And we continue to spend billions to fight drugs abroad, even though we know that military efforts are an ineffective way to cut the supply of narcotics in America or raise the price.

All told, the United States has spent an estimated $500 billion to fight drugs - with very little to show for it. […]

Even by conservative estimates, the War on Drugs now costs the United States $50 billion each year and has overcrowded prisons to the breaking point - all with little discernible impact on the drug trade. …(read on)

That is a truly one great article every policy maker should have to read. I can’t ever read a word on this topic without remembering how Col Oliver North was involved in smuggling cocaine into the U.S. under Reagan, circumventing Congress to pay for an illegal proxy war, which coincided with the birth of the crack epidemic at the very same time the President had declared a War on Drugs (Remember Nancy’s ‘Just Say No‘?) and the great expansion in the building of prisons and increasing sentences that has resulted in the disenfranchisement of generations of mostly black would-be voters to this very day. But of course all that was just another unintended consequence of Ronald Reagan’s.

Friday, November 30, 2007

O'Reilly Goes After McClellan Sends Fox News Goons to His Home

O'Reilly goes ballistic over former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's publisher's recent revelations for not coming out and clarifying whether he is calling Bush a liar in his upcoming book or not.

O'Reilly: It's not going to hurt his dopey book sales to come out and clear the air about a very serious allegation about people he worked with, people he was close to. What's the matter with this McClellan?
So Billo, just as he has done so many times before, sent his minions out to ambush him at his home but there was no answer. The big giant head then gets himself all worked up, screaming and shaking his finger and he basically calls Scott a wimp in playgroundspeak.

Word to Scotty. Billo's coming to your home and insulting your manliness in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers. You just gonna take that?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

George 'Macaca' Allen Luvs YouTube, the Internets & Fred Thompson

Here's George Felix 'Macaca' Allen saying several things I never would have expected him to say.

He apparently loves YouTube and the internet and defends Fred Thompson's use of a negative "attack ad" at the CNN YouTube debate thusly:
Allen: Why would you say it's negative? It's their own words.
Wow!! He's apparently learned quite well from what did him in last November. I would have sworn that we had seen the last of George Allen, but I would have been so wrong. Apparently Fred Thompson doesn't think Allen's macaca moment, the severed deer head story, his white supremicist buddies, nor his widely reported proclivity for using the "N" word will become a noose around his campaign's neck. What's more, Allen even hints that may try to make a political comeback at some point in the future. In the meantime he'll apparently be dividing his time between stumping for Thompson and his duties as the presidential scholar for the Reagan Ranch (Well, at least that last part comes as no surprise).

Debate- Giuliani Asked About Creative Bookkeeping To Hide Travel Expenses

Although this latest Rudy scandal only broke just yesterday afternoon, to Anderson Cooper’s credit he at least made sure Rudy was called on it during last night’s CNN YouTube debate.

Rudy says “it wasn’t true” (really? what part?) and that he had “nothing to do with the handling” of the records and Cooper didn’t follow up (ok it was short notice) by asking him to explain why then were his travel costs, which included at least 11 trips to the Hamptons “during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons,” later split up and billed to obscure agencies that had nothing to do with the mayor’s security detail. Even if we were to be so gullible as to just take Rudy at his word (and we won’t, but will the msm?) that he had nothing to do with the cooking of the books to hide his travel expenses (presumably at least in part so he could spend time with then-mistress Judy), is this Enron-for-philanderers kind of accounting system really the answer to our current federal budget woes?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Complete Democratic Debate at UNLV 11-15-07

It took a while, and several attempts to get this up on google video. This is the full-length (2 hr) debate at UNLV, Las Vegas Nevada on Nov 15, 2007. See a highlight video from this debate with a minute or so of each candidate's applause-getters here.

Most noteworthy is the 6 min back and forth between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to start the night, and then Wolf Blitzer's snub of John Edwards, not allowing him to respond after Hillary accused him of "throwing mud" and using tactics out of "the right-wing playbook," choosing instead to go to Joe Biden. That was a real debate-killer for Edwards courtesy of CNN. Also noteworthy is the softball question to Hillary to close the debate and the controversy surrounding it.

How fair was CNN in moderating the debate? You decide:

Dodd talk clock UNLVAlso:

Full Democratic Presidential Debate at Drexel University 10-30-07

ABC News Iowa Democratic Debate 8-19-07

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bush's 'Sixteenth Century Concept of Judicial Conduct'

Resurrecting the Star Chamber

No, it's not a remake of the movie. This is the sad but true story of Al-Timimi and Omar Khadr, and the desecration of justice under Bush.

... Reports have begun to circulate that the Administration has put together a group of scholars headed by a right-wing activist judge to craft legislation to introduce a new court of Star Chamber, perhaps to be floated in the coming year. As we see in the public pronouncements of the Bush Administration, accusations leveled at detainees in the war on terror are leveled for political effect, and often to parallel partisan political campaigns. If those accusations are rejected by a court, it therefore undermines confidence in the Administration and the Party. Which is why, in the Bush view of justice, a failure to convict is unacceptable. And which is why the Bush view of justice is no justice at all. ... more
Cuz if you're really going to go pre-Habeas Corpus Act, you gotta have your own Star Chamber.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sen Jim Webb's 30 Secs to Stop Bush

CNN follows Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) to work this Thanksgiving holiday just to bang the gavel so that technically the Senate is not in recess to make sure Bush can’t slip any more of his crooks and cronies by us with more recess appointments.

Among the likely candidates this move thwarts are the homophobic Dr. James Holsinger as Surgeon General and/or the election engineering Hans A. von Spakovsky to a spot on the Federal Election Commission.

It's worth remembering not only the more well known in-your-face past Bush recess appointments like John Bolton, Swift boat hack Sam Fox, and anti-civil rights judge Charles Pickering. In just his first six years in office, President Bush had made 171 recess appointments (pdf) including a controversial pick with Otto Reich so he could continue his dirty tricks south of the border, a spot at the pentagon for a great guy like Eric Adelman (just don't ask Sec Gates), a DOL spot for Eugene Scalia (the son of that Scalia), a cushy ambassadorship for Bush's ex-girlfriend April H. Foley and an important one as a treat for C. Boyden Gray, his judicial bulldog on the Hill back in the day when the GOP majority made his job easy.

It's nice to finally see the Democrats step up and do what it takes to stop Bush from running roughshod right over them. Thank you Sens Webb and Reid.

If you want to know more about Congressional recess, I'll let Uncle Jay explain it to you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Freedom’s Watch Test Marketing the Right Slogan to Sell You a War

Laura Rozen has the scoop [see update below] on how Ari Fleischer’s Freedom’s Watch The Israel Project has been hard at work test marketing the right message that could be used to convince you that we need a war with Iran.Freedom’s Watch Test Marketing the Right Slogan to Sell You a War

Laura Sonnenmark … drove to the offices of Martin Focus Groups in Alexandria, Virginia, knowing she would be paid $150 for two hours of her time. After joining a half dozen other women in a conference room, she found, to her surprise, that she had been called in to help some of the country’s most prominent hawks test-market language that could be used to sell a war against Iran to the American public. “The whole basis of the whole thing was, ‘we’re going to go into Iran and what do we have to do to get you guys to along with it,’” Sonnenmark, 49, tells Mother Jones.

The client paying for the focus group session, according to Sonnemark, was Freedom’s Watch …read on
Update: Firedoglake
After the MJ article came out, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi of the right-wing group The Israel Project stepped forward to say that her outfit and not Ari's had funded the focus group. But she really must like Ari's group a lot to let them hand out flyers and other goodies at her focus-group sessions.
That's a good point. Besides both obviously wanting a war with Iran, how affiliated are the two groups? And what do these Reps and Sens think about their group testing the waters for a slogan to sell us a war?

The Israel Project Board of Advisers
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, Sen. Norm Coleman, R-MN, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-PA, Sen. Arlen Spector, R-PA, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, Rep. Rob Andrews, D-NJ, Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-NV, Rep. Tom Davis, R-VA, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-NJ, Rep. Jon Porter, R-NV, Rep. Jim Saxton, R-NJ, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-CA, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-SC, Ron Silver, Actor & Director
Also, The Economist took a closer look at an oft cited Ayatollah Khomeini (mis)quote used to bolster an attack on Iran used by neo-con patriarch and Giuliani Middle East adviser Norman Podhoretz, and says “it now appears likely that this quote is bogus.” Sullivan has more.

Monday, November 19, 2007

NYC Fire Chief: Giuliani 'Not Mr 9/11' 'Not a Hero' 'He Ran That Day'

Rudy is now "trumpeting his leadership in the wake of 9/11 in campaign mailings to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire" despite claiming all along that he wasn't running on his 9/11 record. Dan Abrams has on FDNY Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches, whose group, 9/11 Firefighters and Families, vows to not let Giuliani get away with it.
Riches: "We are going to follow him around and tell the true story of what happened on 9/11." ... "and get the message out to all of America and every state to let them know that Rudy Giuliani is not Mr 9/11. He's not a hero. He ran that day."

What the Giuliani campaign is now outwardly touting as his strength could very well become his achilles heel. This is not the first NYC firefighter group to take on Rudy. Under pressure from these groups, NYC has just launched an investigation into "how the FDNY ended up using faulty equipment during the terrorist attacks and why Giuliani gave a no-bid contract to Motorola for that equipment." And it's not like the Kerik indictment doesn't strike right at the heart of his 9/11 hero claims too.

btw- Kudos to Abrams for his use of videos by TPM and 'The Real Rudy' with proper credit in his show.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cafferty: Leaked Inside Look At Guantanamo 'A Little Scary'

Cafferty: “We’ve got an inside look at the early days of Guantanamo Bay prison camp. It’s emerging and it’s a little scary. A confidential 2003 manual that was leaked onto the internet shows that military officials had a policy of denying some detainees access to Red Cross monitors. … Some experts are saying that this policy may in fact have violated international law. …”
The Guantanamo prison camp's 2003 field operations manual was posted on Wikileaks, a Web site that encourages posting of leaked materials. The Pentagon claims "that the manual appeared genuine but described outdated policies and that all Guantánamo detainees could now see Red Cross monitors." Whew, I guess that clears that up. I mean, they said so so it must be true, and after all that was like 4 years ago so it's not like anyone could still be held accountable for apparent violations of international law from that far back, and besides, if they were in Gitmo they must have been really really bad guys who deserved never to see the light of day anyway or they wouldn't have been there in the first place, right? So why are so many of Jack's emailers still so worked up about it?

Democratic Debate at UNLV Highlights

A mashup of each candidate's applause-getters from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas from Thur night, November 15, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Iran Has a Right to Seek Nuclear Capability"

I've been saying this for some time now. Now an anti-proliferation scholar is also calling out the US for its glaring hypocrisy when it comes to Iran and the NPT. From the Philly Enquirer:

Some call it "the nuclear double standard;" others, "nuclear apartheid;" still others, "America's nuclear hypocrisy". ... (read on)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Krugman v Brooks and Reagan's 'Mistaken' Legacy of Racism

Reagan: A Legacy of States' Rights

Steve Benen caught on to a subtle feud being played out between NYT’s Paul Krugman and David Brooks in their respective op-eds recently. Krugman's column a few weeks back pointed to Ronald Reagan's notable embrace of a Southern Strategy during a 1980 Philadelphia Miss. speech to capitalize on racism to secure the votes of those white voters who had become disenchanted by the Democratic Party following Lyndon Johnson's endorsement of Civil Rights legislation in the 60's. In an apparent response, on Fri Brooks offered up a version of what's becoming an all too common lately, a myopic defense of Reagan's infamous "states' rights" speech, taking Krugman to task without ever actually mentioning him by name.

Krugman fired back a snarky retort a day later, likewise not mentioning his fellow columnist by name. Benen writes, "As Krugman explained on his blog, Reagan’s defenders would have us believe that his “states’ rights” speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, was just an “innocent mistake,” which Reagan managed to make over and over again." Krugman went on to list a litany of other Reagan "mistakes" such as his oft told tale "about the welfare queen driving her Cadillac, and kept repeating the story years after it had been debunked," or that time when he "declared in 1980 that the Voting Rights Act had been “humiliating to the South.” ...

There was also that time Reagan mistakenly "intervened on the side of Bob Jones University's ban on interracial dating," or when he accidentally "fired three members of the Civil Rights Commission" only to have them later reinstated by the courts, and when he "opposed making Martin Luther King Day a national holiday." That "Poor Reagan," Krugman wittily opines, "He just kept on making those innocent mistakes, again and again and again."

Like Benen, I don't know that Brooks will be able to come up with a response to that, but should he try, I'd like to point to a few other "mistakes" that Krugman didn't mention, like Reagan's embrace of the white racist leaders of then-apartheid South Africa and his defense of Sen. Jesse Helms' attacks on Dr Martin Luther King, and his drastic cuts to important social programs that provided needed assistance to minorities, or that time when he accidentally had Col Oliver North involved with smuggling cocaine into the U.S. which led to a crack epidemic at the very same time he had so erroneously declared a war on drugs, building prisons and increasing the sentences that has resulted in the disenfranchizement of generations of mostly black would-be voters to this very day.

If you think about it it's quite remarkable. How ever did anyone so mistake-prone ever manage to fall upward all the way to the White House for two terms and still manage to be held in such high regard by so many (white) people?

No, Reagan didn't invent the Southern Strategy for the GOP to capitalize on America's bigotry for their electoral gains, but his administration just about perfected and ingrained it into the core of his party. And make no "mistake" about it, no matter what Tony Snow says otherwise, racism is still alive and well and being used as an electoral crutch by the Republican Party to this very day. The only difference I can tell is today's boogieman is starting to look less like the Civil Rights Act and more like a border fence, or rather the lack thereof.

UPDATE: Here's video of Krugman on CSpan's book TV discussing his book, The Conscience of a Liberal and Reagan & the GOP's use of race:

Big hug to uniongal/ heathr234 aka 'Heather' a fellow daily contributor to C&L for grabbing this vid for me.

I See London, I See France ...

I See Bush's Inconstance.

Bush wonders where his poodle went

Au revoir, mon chien caniche.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Rudy Giuliani's Right Hand Man, Bernie Kerik's Scandal Rap Sheet

TPM's Ultimate Kerik Scandal List!

TPM's Ultimate Kerik Scandal List!In Thursday's indictment:

-- Bribery. Accepted $255,000 worth of renovations to his apartment [...]
-- Tax fraud. Kerik failed to report $236,269 in rent for his Upper East Side apartment [...]
-- More tax fraud. Kerik also failed to disclose $20,000 in consulting fees from a computer software company and $75,953 in advances for writing his autobiography.
-- Even more tax fraud. Kerik failed to report his wages to his nanny (more about that below), claimed $80,000 in phony charitable contributions, and falsely claimed a home office deduction for a home he had not moved into yet.
-- False statements. Lied on application for head of Department of Homeland Security [...]
-- Deported from Saudi Arabia. [...]
-- Bringing Tammany to Rikers. Kerik was named in a 1999 civil suit alleging that correctional officers were coerced into supporting Mayor Giuliania’s campaign efforts and that those who refused or privately supported Democrats were punished or run out of their jobs.
-- Gifts from mob-tied buddy. Interstate, that mob-connected construction company hired the best man at Mr. Kerik's wedding, his good friend Lawrence Ray, on Kerik's recommendation in late 1998. Ray, who has mob ties, said he gave Kerik $7,000 worth of cash and other gifts [...]
-- 9/11 love nest. Kerik used a downtown Manhattan apartment, originally donated for the use of weary police and rescue workers who were helping at Ground Zero, for extramarital trysts with celebrity book editor Judith Regan and Jeanette Pinero, a city correction officer [...]
-- Retaliation against city employees for crossing his mistress. [...]
-- Using homicide detectives to find his other mistress's lost cell phone. [...]
-- Used city detectives as researchers for his book. Kerik was fined $2,500 by the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board in 2002 for using a police sergeant and two detectives to research his autobiography.
-- Shirked condo fees until a warrant was issued for his arrest. [..]
-- Ran prison cigarette slush fund. [...]
-- The nanny. In 2002 and 2003, Kerik failed to pay taxes for a family nanny-housekeeper who might have been in the country illegally. She returned to Mexico. [...]
And that's not all. Check it out.

Related: Greg Sargent:

Memo To Pundits: Kerik Indictment Cuts At Core Rationale Of Rudy Candidacy

53-40 Mukasey Confirmed as US Attorney General

Mukasey Approved As Attorney General

Mukasey Approved As Attorney General

The vote was 53-40, with only seven Democrats - Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Evan Bayh (Ind.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Tom Carper (Del.) and Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) - voting for his confirmation.

All four Democratic presidential candidates - Sens. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.), Barack Obama (Ill.), Joe Biden (Del.) and Christopher Dodd (Conn.) - missed the vote, as did Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz..), who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. ...
"seven Democrats" with a big "D"? Funny (not), I only count six, and yet not one testicle vertebrae between them.

Related: House Dems Introduce Anti-Torture Bill

Thursday, November 8, 2007

More Wily than Willey, Alan Colmes Rips Dissembling Clinton Accuser to Shreds

On Wed when Kathleen Willey went on H&C to promote her new Hillary bashing book I'm sure she expected to be treated with the same kid gloves by the pliant media she had been accustomed to, and for his part Sean Hannity played that role as well as ever, but that all ended when it was Alan Colmes' turn.

Colmes, breaking out from his role as the strawman liberal patsy on the Republican News Network, had clearly done his homework this time and came armed with Linda Tripp’s sworn grand jury testimony that directly contradicted her claims. He then put up Independent Counsel Robert Ray's report that further damaged her credibility.

The 9 pg final report “Investigation of Allegations Made by Kathleen E. Willey” (pdf) from the Independent Council investigation of President Clinton had concluded:
Willey’s Jones deposition testimony differed from her grand jury testimony on material aspects of the alleged incident. She said at her deposition that she could not recall whether President Clinton succeeded in kissing her50 and that he did not fondle her. [...]

The Independent Counsel agreed not to prosecute Willey for any offense arising out of the investigation, including false statements in her Jones deposition, so long as she cooperated fully and truthfully with the investigation. Following that first immunity agreement, Willey gave false information to the FBI about her sexual relationship with a former boyfriend, and acknowledged having lied about it when the agents confronted her with contradictory evidence. [...]

Linda Tripp’s testimony that Willey had a previous romantic interest in President Clinton (and appeared to view his alleged advances positively) departed from Willey’s testimony. Tripp’s cooperation with this Office in the Lewinsky investigation ultimately yielded evidence about President Clinton’s conduct with Monica Lewinsky that was contrary to the President’s testimony. Thus, evidence supplied by Linda Tripp regarding Willey that was consistent with President Clinton’s testimony would likely be favorably received by a jury.*
This is the same woman who has made allegations that the Clintons had her husband killed, had her cat killed and left its skull on her porch, had her tires slashed, and more recently she claimed they had her home broken into and stole the manuscript to this tall tell-all (no, I won't link to any of that, but it's out there). I'd like to think that after this disaster of a book interview she would finally seek the professional help she desperately needs, but I won't hold my breath. Unfortunately you can bet that lots and lots more of this is what we have to look forward to if Hillary is the nominee.

FEMA Protecting Its Employees, Not Evacuees

There are still 50,000 families forced to live in FEMA trailers ever since Hurricane Katrina. Trailers in which the levels of formaldehyde present in the air are so high, CBS has obtained emails that indicate the agency is prohibiting its employees from even briefly stepping inside them, and despite agency claims "that it is still working on the formaldehyde problem," it isn't.
In July the head of the agency told Congress he was working quickly to deal with the toxic formaldehyde issue.

“FEMA and the CDC are scheduled to begin Phase One of a study in the Gulf Coast within the next few weeks,” said FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison.

Now FEMA says the study has been halted - not a single trailer tested.

The stated reason: the agency says it needs to identify "action levels for responding to the results."

In other words, when FEMA finds high levels of the toxic fumes, the agency still doesn't know what to do about it.
Sadly, this is exactly what we can expect as long as the party that doesn't believe in government is heading our government. Ever since Ronald Reagan's inaugural speech when he declared “Government isn’t the solution; it is the problem,” Republicans could hardly have done more to make sure it is the case.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Bill Moyers on What's Wrong With Our Corporate Media

FCC's New Attempt at Allowing Local Media Monopolies

Four years ago, without public input, the FCC rolled back 30 yr old rules that limited a single company’s ability to be able to dominate local TV, newspaper and radio media markets. Thankfully, the rules changes triggered a massive public response and through legislation and lawsuit, they were defeated. Now FCC chair Kevin Martin is attempting to do it again by trying to push through a similar set of changes allowing further media consolidation as soon as December 18.

Already there are just six companies that own most of the major sources of our information in our country: newspapers, television stations, radio stations, and cable systems. It is harmful to the public discourse and these giants are even a threat to our democracy. This time we needn't wait until after we have been sandbagged. You can help stop it from happening by contacting Congress (through Common Cause's form letter at that link or through the 'Contact Congress' widget on the right) and the FCC now to stop Kevin Martin before he gets away with slipping this one by us.

Bill Moyers then goes one further and focuses on one glaring example of how our media is already failing us today:

The Corporate Media Blackout of Anti-War Protests
BILL MOYERS: It's important who owns the press, as we've just seen and heard...but it's also important who decides what is news.

Why wasn't it news last weekend when more than 100,000 people turned out in 11 cities across the country to protest the occupation of Iraq ... but if you blinked while watching the national news, you wouldn't have known it was a story? ...(transcript)
It's no wonder why groups like Code Pink must go to such lengths to make sure the overwhelming voice of public opinion against the occupation of Iraq isn't ignored entirely. Thank goodness we at least still have Bill Moyers to help make sure that doesn't happen.

As always you can watch the full episodes on the PBS website.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Breaking: Condi Rice, Stephen Hadley and Elliot Abrams Subpoenaed in AIPAC Case

AP: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other senior intelligence officials will be subpoenaed to discuss their conversations with pro-Israel lobbyists, a federal judge ruled Friday in an espionage case.

Lawyers for two former American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbyists facing espionage charges have subpoenaed Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams and several others to testify at their trial next year. Prosecutors had challenged the subpoenas in federal court.
The facts surrounding the case are complicated. Basically ...
Lawrence Anthony Franklin, a Department of Defense official, was caught red-handed giving highly classified papers to two officials, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, of AIPAC—in part, concerning U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq and the war on terrorism. But from the carefully worded indictment, it is clear that a lot more may have been going on. ...(more)
If Rice, Hadley and Abrams are forced to take the stand, we're sure to find out a lot more.

CPSC Head and Toy Industry In Bed While Our Kids Suck Lead

Just three days ago Speaker Nancy Pelosi was calling for Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Acting Chairman Nancy Nord to resign after she fired off a couple of letters to Congress opposing tougher legislation that would strengthen the agency she heads that is supposed to oversee the safety of consumer goods, echoing White House concerns that favored industry profits over the health and welfare of consumers, especially children in the wake of recall after recall and the revelation that the CPSC has only one full-time employee that tests toys.

Well, as it turns out, Nancy Nord should have taken Pelosi's advice and left to spend more time with her family while the getting was good. CNN had WaPo's Elizabeth Williamson on this morning to discuss her article today which reveals that Nord "and her predecessor have taken dozens of trips at the expense of the toy, appliance and children's furniture industries and others they regulate" while parents were buying millions of lead-tainted toys. In addition some of the trips actually "were sponsored by lobbying groups and lawyers representing the makers of products linked to consumer hazards."


Raw Story Roundup

Thirty senators warn Bush has no authority on Iran
Bush to Congress: Heed Osama's warnings, not Code Pink
We don't get it: South Carolina Democrats nix Colbert bid
'Dog' Bounty Hunter show suspended for N-word rants
Attack: Bush calls out Dems, MoveOn, Code Pink in speech
Huckabee blames Bill Clinton for rapist-murderer's release
Taxes increasingly fund religious groups
'Bearded' Osama video fake? - Cheney's dog was Sith Lord
CNN: 'Pressured' resignation in another GOP gay scandal
Students feel betrayed by Fox on climate
'Curve ball' fake informant named
MyDD: Plain Dealer Shoots Itself In the Foot With Blogger Firing
DKos: Child abuse allegations haunt Giuliani
HuffPo: Congresswoman's bid to ban Blackwater
Because a perfectly good raw story (or even a bad one) shouldn't just disappear down the memory hole.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Latest GOP Gay Sex Hypocrite Scandal

Proving he's no Larry Craig, this latest of three Republican officials in as many months to be caught soliciting gay sex has resigned.

If you want to know more, Pam has all the lurid details about the homophobic anti-gay voting GOP State Rep. Richard Curtis, "who "engaged in mutual sexual activities" with male escort/porn actor Cody Castagna."

Full Democratic Presidential Debate at Drexel University 10-30-07 *

* All except for the final few minutes as the debate ran over its scheduled time

Also see the ABC News Iowa Democratic Debate 8-19-07

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Olbermann Spanks Bush For His Pathetic Hissy Fit

Bush just can't stand Congress not KowTowing to him, and he really can't stand Congressional oversight, so he went on TV Tues morning and had a tantrum about it and spewed lie after lie. Olbermann sets the record straight:

Despite all of the constant bashing of this Congress not just from Bush here, but from many on the right and the left as well, the fact is that this has been the hardest working Congress in US history despite the Republicans blocking 3 times more bills than ever before including the 8 times the GOP has blocked the Democrats efforts to end the war so far.

Presidential Candidate's Halloween Costumes - 2007

A Halloween treat from tweety from his show on Sunday

Sunday, October 28, 2007

''When the President Does it That Means That it is Not Illegal''

BILL MOYERS: Remember "The Lives of Others" - the movie that won this year's Academy Award for best foreign language film....a story of life under East Germany's secret police. The critic Roger Ebert said: "The movie is relevant today, as our government ignores habeas corpus, practices secret torture, and asks for the right to wiretap and eavesdrop on its citizens. Such tactics, he said, did not save East Germany; they destroyed it, by making it a country its most loyal citizens could no longer believe in." You want to say it couldn't happen here but we've been close before. During the cold war with the Soviet Union and then the hot war in Vietnam, a secret government mushroomed in this country. ...(transcript)
In 1975 the Select Senate Committee headed by Sen Frank Church (D-ID) began looking into allegations first reported by Seymour Hersh in the NYT and found that the CIA, NSA, FBI and other Federal Agencies had been involved in plots to assassinate foreign leaders, the illegal storage of poisons and biological warfare agents including anthrax, the warrantless opening of mail, wiretapping, other illegal intel-gathering on US citizens, the misuse of the IRS and other illegal activities on orders from the Executive Branch. One of the ways Congress responded to try and restore checks and balances was by passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, which established a secret court to oversee all domestic wiretapping activity.

This week Bill Moyers takes a look at the undoing of Congress' checks and balances put in place following the Church Committee hearings and the unprecedented expansion of Executive authority in the wake of 9-11. You can watch the entire episode online here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Why Am I Not Surprised?

Wannabe Catholic priest/anti-abortion activist/world's most wanted (alleged) pedophile

Christopher Neil: Wannabe Catholic priest/anti-abortion activist/world's most wanted (alleged) pedophile
"A long, long way from the seminary"

Pursuing the priesthood

It's not clear why Mr. Neil chose to study for the Catholic priesthood, but he entered the Christ the King Seminary in Mission, B.C., in 1995 at the age of 20. [...]

His old friends are still dumbfounded by the turn of events.

“We heard from police that he was with a transvestite,” said Mr. Collins, his seminary classmate. “That shocked me so much. Oh my. That's a long way from seminary.”

With Friends Like These ...

This week John McLaughlin takes a look at the cover story in this week's Newsweek, "The Most Dangerous Nation in the World," and much to the dismay of the Bush admin and their PR fronts like Freedom Watch, it isn't about Iran.

Today no other country on earth is arguably more dangerous than Pakistan. It has everything Osama bin Laden could ask for: political instability, a trusted network of radical Islamists, an abundance of angry young anti-Western recruits, secluded training areas, access to state-of-the-art electronic technology, regular air service to the West and security services that don't always do what they're supposed to do. (Unlike in Iraq or Afghanistan, there also aren't thousands of American troops hunting down would-be terrorists.) Then there's the country's large and growing nuclear program. "If you were to look around the world for where Al Qaeda is going to find its bomb, it's right in their backyard," says Bruce Riedel, the former senior director for South Asia on the National Security Council. ...(read on)
Unlike Iran, Pakistan never agreed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which guarantees nations "the inalienable right ... to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes." Neither did India or Israel and yet after their developing nuclear weapons they remain strong US allies (North Korea is the only other nation in the world that is not currently a signatory, but they were until Bush abandoned Clinton era agreements and safeguards and decided to name them to his "Axis of Evil"). I'm not saying they shouldn't be either, but I am saying that when Bush singles out Iran's nuclear program as a cause for WWIII, it is absolutely hypocritical. Pakistan has even been caught exporting their nuclear designs and equipment to other nations, and yet the Bush administration continues to keep a blind eye turned toward them. Sadly, maybe that's a good thing, because this administration has proven time and time again that it lacks even the most basic of diplomatic skills and has pissed away its credibility to be able to deal effectively with these sorts of problems. Hopefully the time-bomb that today is Pakistan will wait until we can elect an administration that can.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bush's Push For a "Showdown With Iran"- PBS Frontline Documentary

(cross-posted at C&L)

Tuesday night PBS Frontline aired "Showdown with Iran," which completely laid bare the failures of the Bush administration's foreign policy. While I can't urge you enough to go watch the complete episode at the PBS website, I have made a two-part highlight mashup of many of the more startling revelations.

Watch Part 1:

Despite the U.S.'s long history with Iran beginning with its overthrow of their secular democracy in 1953 and the installation of a US puppet dictator that resulted in the blowback in the form of the '79 Iranian Revolution that brought the current Islamic Republic to power largely based on its hatred of America, Iran had reached out to the U.S. after 9/11, denouncing terrorism and became an important ally of the coalition against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Iran's leaders had even tendered "a secret proposal for a grand bargain resolving all outstanding issues between the U.S. and Iran, including Iran's support for terrorism and its nuclear program" which Bushco simply ignored (or forgot?), opting instead to include them in his "Axis of Evil" on his 2002 State of the Union Address, which once again angered the nation, completely discrediting their moderate reformist leadership and ultimately helped bring the hard-line party of Ahmadinejad to power.

Much of the evidence presented in the documentary was first revealed in a heavily redacted NYT Op-Ed by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann, both of whom are prominently featured in this PBS special. Despite the White House's attempt to muzzle them from even mentioning information, all of which had already been reported in a variety of media sources that exposed the Bush Administration's incredulous undiplomatic push to keep Iran from ever getting off its enemy list, PBS was able to gain "unprecedented access" to video footage and interviews with Iranian officials that leaves little no doubt that this administration simply refuses to accept any path that would deviate from its decade-old neo-con Middle East war plans.

Watch Part 2:
Perhaps the most damning evidence of Bushco's hell-bent-for-war-with-Iran-insanity from the film is the revelation that the Bush administration bypassed Congress and has actually been harboring a terrorist organization (that's acc'd to our State Dept) known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), that has killed U.S. soldiers and civilians in the past and has been utilizing them for cross border operations inside Iran. WaPo even reported that our soldiers have been playing chauffeur for some of them! What the hell ever happened to Bush's "If you harbor terrorists, you are terrorists"? Once again the proof is irrefutable that Republican hypocrisy truly knows no bounds.

Watch the entire episode on the PBS website here.

Raw Story Roundup

The Raw Story rawstory.comGeneral Claims Bush Ordered Torture
Wiretaps 'victory' for terrorists: Dodd
Gonzales could face prosecution
Cheney 'interfered directly' to get terror plea bargain
Top Democrats condemn controversial judge's confirmation
Tucker: 'I don't want to know' what US believes about 9/11
Rice unfazed as protester waves 'bloody' hands in her face
Fox touts old memo to float 'Qaeda lit wildfires' theory
Fox, MSNBC amplify Cheney's drumbeat on Iran
Your tax bill for Bush's wars: $8000
Justice Dept's mission was to slur Dems: ex-Reagan official
CNN's Cafferty: Bush puts poor out in the cold to fund wars
Poll: 41% of Americans unable to name any GOP candidates
White House denies 'editing' testimony

Documents in question cite expert's take on health effects of global warming.
US 'mishandled' torture: Rice
Rice concedes in case of innocent Canadian sent to Syria, said to be tortured.
Because a perfectly good raw story (or even a bad one) shouldn't just disappear down the memory hole.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bush Wants $190 Billion More For War - Bin Laden Tape Shows Up Just In Time

Just last week Bush vetoed $35 billion for sick children, but now he says he needs $46 billion more for the occupation in Iraq.

“The Iraq war is now costing $330 million a day. That could pay for 1700 more border patrol agents, or provide health-care for an extra 45,000 military veterans, or the funds from just one day in Iraq would give 270,000 more kids coverage under SCHIP.”
On Wed the House will have another hearing on the long-term cost of the war. The last time the figure was $1 trillion and it’s a no-brainer the new figure is going to be much higher.
Jack Cafferty: “I’ve got a quick question Wolf. Who approves the funding for the war?

Wolf Blitzer: The United States Congress

Jack Cafferty: Oh yeah. right. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and those Democrats who were elected to do something about the war. I forgot.
Also, surprise! (not) There’s a new bin Laden tape out, this time urging al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent groups to merge forces. His timing couldn’t possibly have been any better coordinated to conveniently help boogieman Congress into getting Bush all the money he wants, could it?
h/t to B. Mundt for that last vid. lol!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What would you do?

What if this was your family?

Is it any wonder why:
Not only do most Iraqis oppose the coalition forces in Iraq- they also approve of killing them.

92% of Sunnis, 62% of Shiites and 15% of Kurds approve of attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces.

It all comes down to this.

"Suppose Iraq invaded America. And an Iraqi soldier was on a tank passing through an American street waving his gun at people, threatening them and trashing houses. Would you accept that?

That is why no Iraqi can accept occupation, and don't be surprised by their reactions. Their attitudes are normal."
Above quoted from today's NYT Video Op-Ed: Know Thine Enemy

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rohrabacher: Blackwater CEO Is 'An American Hero Just Like Ollie North Was'

This from ThinkProgress:

“Erik Prince is doing everything he can to help his country,” Rohrabacher said. “He could be making ten times the money without anybody calling him names.” […]

Rohrabacher did not attend the Blackwater hearing last week before Rep. Henry Waxman’s oversight committee. Rohrabacher is not a member of that panel.

He did watch it on television, and he likened it to the Iran Contra sessions at which former Col. Oliver North testified during the Reagan administration. Rohrabacher was a Reagan speechwriter.

“Prince,” Rohrabacher said, “is on his way to being an American hero just like Ollie North was.”
Hero, or criminal?
Dana Rohrabacher sure can pick'em.
  • Taliban leaders are "not terrorists or revolutionaries."
  • Media reports documenting the Taliban's harsh, radical beliefs were "nonsense."
  • The Taliban would develop a "disciplined, moral society" that did not harbor terrorists.
  • The Taliban posed no threat to the U.S.
More about Dana's mysterious pre-9-11 Taliban meeting here.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Stephen Colbert with John Mearsheimer

Stephen has the co-author of "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy" on to discuss the book.

This is such a tough subject to breach, and it has taken two of the most preeminent contemporary international relations scholars in the US today to even do so and be taken seriously. Ever since professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt unveiled their 83p working paper back in 2006, and its edited down version as an article in the London Review of Books, they have been assailed by critics, some with merit and others not-so-much to not-at-all. Kudos to Colbert for capturing and even poking fun at those critics blinded by willful ignorance for whatever their reasons/cause may be and for giving Mearsheimer the opportunity to knock down their work's most basic criticism and to help bring this needed discussion another step forward to an even wider audience.

Do I think Mearsheimer and Walt have nailed it on all counts and have all of the answers? Not hardly, but I definitely do agree with the gist of their argument, that as one of the more prominent lobbies in the US, the Israel lobby enjoys no counterbalancing/competing lobby like, for instance, the NRA or the AARP do, and thus are able to uniquely influence lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in ways other lobbies can only wish they could, even to the detriment of both US and Israel's long term interests in some ways.

I only hope M&W's work continues to help us get past the out of hand criticism and brings forward this badly needed debate, and that's really all I have to say thus far. I highly recommend everyone read this book, or at the very least get familiar with their article and the criticism surrounding them both. For anything else I might want to say about it, I leave you with what I consider to be a reasonable short review of their working paper in the form of an Op-Ed from the NYT: "A Lobby, Not a Conspiracy," and then the review of their book which inspired me to even do this post, by Daniel Levy over at TPMCafe:

Raw Story Roundup

Because a perfectly good raw story (or even a bad one) shouldn't just disappear down the memory hole.