Sunday, December 30, 2007

Shades of Cheney's hunting lawyer pal's face!

Huckabee shoots over the heads of reporters, a cardinal sin for hunters. Shakes those pesky journalists up and is good for a few laughs.


Fred Thompson takes a nap:
(CNN) – Republican Fred Thompson has long faced criticism he lacks motivation to be President of the United States, and the former Tennessee senator's latest comments Saturday may spark new criticism on that front.

"I'm not particularly interested in running for president," the former senator told voters at a campaign event in Burlington, Iowa when challenged by a an audience member over his desire to be commander-in-chief.

"But I think I'd make a good president," Thompson continued. "I have the background, capability, and concern to do this and I'm doing it for the right reasons."

You just get all comfy there, Fred. And we'll go on with the activities over here....

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Message from Vermont to Bush and Cheney

Happy New Year and up yours:

Montpelier, VT (AHN) - A group of activists in Vermont want President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney subject to arrest for war crimes. A group in Brattleboro is petitioning to have an item put on a March town meeting agenda that would make the two subject to arrest and indictment if they were to ever visit the community.

The item would require about 1,000 signatures to put it on the agenda, where it would be voted on. The item asks for indictments against the president and vice president for crimes against the Constitution.

The Vermont State Senate voted earlier this year to support impeaching the president. Vermont is the only state in the U.S. President Bush has not visited during his presidency.

Can California sign up for this, too? This includes the airspace over the state, right? I want all the neocons to have to have a really zigzaggy flight pattern when they travel.

Top ten myths about Iraq

Like... how it's such a good vacation spot.

Or not. Juan Cole of Informed Comment lists the misconceptions and then the truth.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Just before the bell

Friday Cat blogging:


With somebody else's cat and my lolcat words...

Finally someone talks about the weird smirks

And fake laughs, the horrible shoulder shakes, the inappropriate chortles.

Bob Cesca of The Huffington Post cites several very bizarre actions by the preznit:
His uncomfortably ridiculous smirks and smiles illustrate his inadequacies as a leader: his fugacious attitude; his vacant stature; and, most strikingly, his apparent inability to grasp the reality of his decisions. It's all right there on the screen -- underlined by those tiny baby teeth.
To me the frantic head bobbing and shoulder shakes are made by a person who has no idea how to reach out to people but knows that these actions somehow make him seem more likable. He is truly a sociopathic personality:
Common characteristics of people with antisocial personality disorder include:[citation needed]
  • Persistent lying or stealing
  • Recurring difficulties with the law
  • Tendency to violate the rights and boundaries of others (property, physical, sexual, emotional, legal)
  • Substance abuse
  • Aggressive, often violent behavior; prone to getting involved in fights
  • A persistent agitated or depressed feeling (dysphoria)
  • Inability to tolerate boredom
  • Disregard for the safety of self or others
  • A childhood diagnosis of conduct disorders - this is not a symptom but "a history of"
  • Lack of remorse for hurting others
  • Superficial charm
  • Impulsiveness
  • A sense of extreme entitlement
  • Inability to make or keep friends
  • Lack of guilt
  • Relentlessness[dubious ]
  • Recklessness, impulsivity[4][5]

People with a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder often experience difficulties with authority figures.[6]

Don't forget this story.

Hopefully hopeful

Phila of Bouphonia.

Don't be anti-Bush...

Just Undo-Bush.

Paul Krugman:
In a way, it's understandable that many political analysts are finding it hard to grasp how much things have changed. After all, not long ago it was conventional wisdom among the chattering classes that America had entered an era of long-term Republican—and conservative—dominance. I have a whole shelf of books with titles like One Party Country and Building Red America, all of them explaining why movement conservatism—the interlocking set of institutions, ranging from the Heritage Foundation to Fox News, that make up the modern American right—is invincible.

And it's true that even now, polls suggest that Americans are about twice as likely to identify themselves as conservatives as they are to identify themselves as liberals.

But if you look at peoples' views on actual issues, as opposed to labels, the electorate's growing liberalism is unmistakable. Don't take my word for it; look at the massive report Pew released earlier this year on trends in "political attitudes and core values." Pew found "increased public support for the social safety net, signs of growing public concern about income inequality, and a diminished appetite for assertive national security policies." Meanwhile, nothing's the matter with Kansas: People are ever less inclined to support conservative views on moral values—and have become dramatically more liberal on racial issues.

And it's not just opinion polls: Last year, the newly liberal mindset of the electorate was reflected in actual votes, too. Yes, some of the Democrats newly elected last year were relatively conservative. But others, including James Webb of Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, have staked out strikingly progressive positions on economic issues.

The question, however, is whether Democrats will take advantage of America's new liberalism. To do that, they have to be ready to forcefully make the case that progressive goals are right and conservatives are wrong. They also need to be ready to fight some very nasty political battles.

And that's where the continuing focus of many people on Bush, rather than the movement he represents, has become a problem.


But any attempt to change America's direction, to implement a real progressive agenda, will necessarily be highly polarizing. Proposals for universal health care, in particular, are sure to face a firestorm of partisan opposition. And fundamental change can't be accomplished by a politician who shuns partisanship.

I like to remind people who long for bipartisanship that FDR's drive to create Social Security was as divisive as Bush's attempt to dismantle it. And we got Social Security because FDR wasn't afraid of division. In his great Madison Square Garden speech, he declared of the forces of "organized money": "Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred."

So, here's my worry: Democrats, with the encouragement of people in the news media who seek bipartisanship for its own sake, may fall into the trap of trying to be anti-Bushes—of trying to transcend partisanship, seeking some middle ground between the parties.

That middle ground doesn't exist—and if Democrats try to find it, they'll squander a huge opportunity. Right now, the stars are aligned for a major change in America's direction. If the Democrats play nice, that opportunity may soon be gone.

Pray that the Democratic candidates are listening.

How much will he get for his tell-all book?

Australian David Hicks, “the first person convicted at an American war crimes trial since World War II was freed from prison on Saturday, after completing his U.S. imposed sentence.” Hicks spent five years in detention at Guantanamo Bay, followed by a nine month sentence in prison. “He was told to remain silent about any alleged abuse he suffered while in custody.”
Or else, what?

Modifications of the truth about the assassination

Have already begun. Bhutto was shot then the assassin blew himself up. She was alive afterwards but died in hospital. She wasn't shot, the doctors found no bullet fragments. She hit her head on the sunroof of the car and that caused her death. Al Qaeda. Musharraf. ISI.

Pick and choose, mix and match. But listen to someone who was there.

Update: Josh Marshall of TPM cites several doctors giving their opinions.

Update: Larry Johnson's thoughts.

Update: What Digby said.

Update 12/29: DangerRoom lists the many people who wished Bhutto dead or benefited from it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Shit...Musharraf's doing?

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, Dec. 27 -- Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday at a political rally, two months after returning from exile to attempt a political comeback.

Bhutto, 54, was shot at close range as she waved to supporters from the rooftop opening of a bulletproof car, witnesses said. Seconds later, a suicide bomber detonated explosives just behind Bhutto's car. The explosion killed at least 20 people, and injured many others.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Ten Commandments have nothing to do with our laws

Especially the one about adultery. That would take out most of our lawmakers in Capitol Hill right there.

Here's the list.

The Great Game continues

Wikipedia defines The Great Game:

The Great Game is a British term for what was seen by the British to be a strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia. The classic Great Game period is generally regarded as running approximately from the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 a second, less intensive phase followed.

The Great Game continues today, but now it's Russia and Iran winning the oil and power grab with China close on their heels, the United States and India entangled behind. It's like seeing a chess game being played while being an ant on the chessboard.

The fall guy gets back up

Uh oh...

Maha of The Mahablog:
That’s the downside of a life in a reviled lame duck administration — the fall guys stop falling.
The TimesOnline: (My bold)
THE CIA chief who ordered the destruction of secret videotapes recording the harsh interrogation of two top Al-Qaeda suspects has indicated he may seek immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying before the House intelligence committee.

Jose Rodriguez, former head of the CIA’s clandestine service, is determined not to become the fall guy in the controversy over the CIA’s use of torture, according to intelligence sources.

It has emerged that at least four White House staff were approached for advice about the tapes, including David Addington, a senior aide to Dick Cheney, the vice-president, but none has admitted to recommending their destruction.

Vincent Cannistraro, former head of counterterrorism at the CIA, said it was impossible for Rodriguez to have acted on his own: “If everybody was against the decision, why in the world would Jose Rodriguez – one of the most cautious men I have ever met – have gone ahead and destroyed them?”


The House intelligence committee has subpoenaed Rodriguez to appear for a hearing on January 16. Last week the CIA began opening its files to congressional investigators. Silvestre Reyes, a Democrat who is chairing the committee, has said he was “not looking for scapegoats” – a hint to Rodriguez that he would like him to talk.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer, believes the scandal could reach deep into the White House. “The CIA and Jose Rodriguez look bad, but he’s probably the least culpable person in the process. He didn’t wake up one day and decide, ‘I’m going to destroy these tapes.’ He checked with a lot of people and eventually he is going to get his say.”

Johnson says Rodriguez got his fingers burnt during the Iran-contra scandal while working for the CIA in Latin America in the 1980s. Even then he sought authorisation from senior officials. But when summoned to the FBI for questioning, he was told Iran-contra was “political – get your own lawyer”.

He learnt his lesson and recently appointed Robert Bennett, one of Washington’s most skilled lawyers, to handle the case of the destroyed interrogation tapes. “He has been starting to get his story out and was smart to get Bennett,” said Johnson.

The Justice Department has launched its own inquiry into the destruction of the tapes. It emerged yesterday that the CIA had misled members of the 9-11 Commission by not disclosing the existence of the tapes, in potential violation of the law. President George W Bush said last week he could not recall learning about the tapes before being briefed about them on December 6 by Michael Hayden, the CIA director.

“It looks increasingly as though the decision was made by the White House,” said Johnson. He believes it is “highly likely” that Bush saw one of the videos, as he was interested in Zubaydah’s case and received frequent updates on his interrogation from George Tenet, the CIA director at the time.

'Bush saw one of the videos'... HA! I've been saying this forever! Georgie gets that little-kid-trying-to-lie look on his face every time he denies ever even knowing about torture, the tapes, waterboarding....

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

But... the illegal aliens are breaking our country!

At least that's what we've been reading and hearing for the last decade.

How could it possibly not be true?:’s more than gratifying when two different entities on two different coasts of the nation, independently release studies that say the same thing: “Undocumented immigrants are not a burden on society.”

This week in California, the University of California’s School of Public Health released a report that found undocumented Latino immigrants do not cause a drag on the U.S. healthcare system as they are always being accused.

In fact, the vast majority of undocumented immigrants don’t even have a regular doctor or healthcare provider and only visit the ER as a last resort.

“Low rates of use of health-care services by Mexican immigrants and similar trends among other Latinos do not support public concern about immigrants’ overuse of the health care system,” the researchers wrote.
“Undocumented individuals demonstrate less use of health care than U.S.-born citizens and have more negative experiences with the health care that they have received,” they said.

It’s a finding that is repeated in today’s released study by the Immigration Policy Center (IPC), the think tank of the American Immigration Law Foundation.

The IPC study found that:

per capita health care expenditures were 55 percent lower for immigrants than for natives in 1998. On average, immigrants received about $1,139 in health care, compared with $2,546 for native-born residents. Although all immigrants are eligible for emergency medical services, they had lower expenditures for emergency room visits, doctor’s office visits, outpatient hospital visits, inpatient hospital visits, and prescription drugs.

But the IPC study doesn’t stop there.

It also addresses the accusations by defamation critics who say undocumented immigrants overuse government services, increase the poverty rate and don’t pay taxes.
Oh my. If this is true, then what on earth are the Republicans going to rally behind?

They've had too many hilariously public sexual exploits to beat up on gays.

They've been caught too many times with their hands in the till or their votes being manipulated by lobbyists to be declare themselves against corruption.

They can't claim they are for family values when they clearly don't care when Foley was hunting underage pages or Bush cuts health care for children.

They can't proclaim they are more popular than Democrats when they have to phone jam, or cage voters, or mess with electronic voting machines to get elected.

They can't say they are for less government when their government is the most bloated and expensive one in recent memory.

They can't declare they are better at governing when every functioning program or system they have diligently tried to break, starve, or neglect.

They cannot claim they are for peace when they make their money with war.

So what can they attack that will rally the masses?



All well and good, Senator Specter

But this time, don't capitulate, do it.

Peace on earth, good will to men

Blackwater wants you to know they are peacekeepers.

And I suppose we should start apologizing now.... Georgie is planning a bunch of furrin trips:
At his year-end press conference last week, President Bush said “I go around spreading good will” to other countries. His schedule next year will test his ability to spread good will:

In early January, Bush flies to Israel for his first visit as president. While in the region, he also will visit the West Bank, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The trip is a follow-up to the Israeli-Palestinian talks that the U.S. hosted in Annapolis, Maryland, last month.

In February, Bush will tour Africa, where U.S. public health initiatives are popular. That will be followed by an April North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Romania, a June U.S.-European summit in Slovenia, a July meeting of Group of Eight leaders in Japan, the summer Olympics in China and a November Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Peru. Bush is likely to visit other, nearby countries during those trips.

Jim Jeffrey, the deputy White House national security adviser, said, “We want to be well-perceived in the world.”
Besides choking on my tea when I saw there actually is a Jimmy/Jeff in the White House (is he bald?), this last line apparently was said with a straight face and no trace of irony....

Have a Happy and a Merry

And may we survive this last year of the Bush administration, amen!


Bryan of Why Now? says it best.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Georgie wishes all them poor folk's kids

A bah humbug:


Washington, D.C. (AHN) - President George Bush went forward with a rule on Friday that removed administrative and costs for low-income, special education students from being reimbursed through Medicaid, despite strong opposition from lawmakers and school boards nationwide.

The new rule issued by the White House would save the federal government an estimated $3.6 billion over the next five years by limiting costs states are allowed to reimburse under Medicaid to medical services such as physical therapy and medicines for immunizations. Administrative costs, such as those for transporting handicapped students, will no longer be covered.

Federal auditors this year said Medicaid, a health program for low-income families and people with disabilities that is jointly funded by the federal government and states, was overbilled by states for services between 2002 and 2004.

The review in Maryland concluded that schools had overbilled the federal government by $32.8 million on costs that were educational and not medical. States have questioned the findings, saying the methodology of the review was flawed.

The National School Board Association (NSBA) has argued that the rule would cause schools to lose millions worth of Medicaid reimbursements for services that are: "Critically important for ensuring that schools are able to link children to eligible medical services, identify students who may need medical screening and evaluations, and work with the community to provide referral services for children and their families."

It's nice to have a clear illustration about what a compassionate conservative is.

Our Gropenator is going to sue!

(CNN)-- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to sue the federal government over its decision not to allow a California plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he announced Thursday.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Stephen Johnson announced the decision Wednesday, refusing the state's request for a waiver that would have allowed it to cut emissions faster than a new federal plan the president signed into law Wednesday.

"It's another example of the administration's failure to treat global warming with the seriousness that it actually demands," the governor said at a news conference Thursday.

Bush on Thursday defended the decision of his EPA administrator.

"Is it more effective to let each state make a decision as to how to proceed in curbing greenhouse gases? Or is it more effective to have a national strategy?" he said.
(Bryan of Why Now? predicted this in comments.)

When the hell have you had any kind of nation strategery except to try and break the federal government, Georgie?


Japan calls off hunt for whales

Apparently blubber isn't considered delicious anymore...
Japan has suspended its first humpback whale hunt in seas off Antarctica since the 1960s, its government said yesterday, backing down in an escalating international battle over the expansion of its hunt.

Japan dropped the planned taking of 50 humpbacks at the behest of the United States, which chairs the International Whaling Commission (IWC), said Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura. He said the suspension would last a year or two but that there would be "no changes" to Japan's stance on research whaling itself.

Japan dispatched its whaling fleet last month to the southern Pacific in the first major hunt of humpback whales since the 1960s, generating widespread criticism. Officials said yesterday they had not harpooned any humpbacks.

The move defuses for now a high-profile row with Australia, though Japanese officials deny they were influenced by Canberra's anti-whaling position. Australia announced on Wednesday that it would dispatch surveillance planes and a ship to gather evidence for a possible legal challenge to the hunt.

It was unlikely, however, to quell the increasingly bold high-seas protests against Japan's scientific whaling research programme, in which it kills 1,000 whales, mostly minkes, a year in the Pacific. Japan has wrestled with the IWC for years to overturn its 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling.

The decision followed talks between Japan and the US, said Hideki Moronuki, chief of the Fisheries Agency's whaling division. The US State Department had warned Japan that some anti-whaling nations could boycott IWC meetings, he said.

Commercial hunts of humpbacks – which were nearly harpooned to extinction in the 20th century – were banned in the Southern Pacific in 1963, and that ban was extended worldwide in 1966.

The decision to call off the hunt was welcomed by anti-whaling nations. "While this is a welcome move, the Australian government strongly believes that there is no credible justification for the hunting of any whales," the Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said, adding that it would continue with its surveillance plans.

Karli Thomas, who is leading a Greenpeace expedition heading to the Southern Pacific, also welcomed the development. "This is good news indeed, but it must be the first step towards ending all whaling in the Southern Ocean, not just one species for one season," she said.

Merry Christmas, you guys.


Shades of Unka Dick!

If you love secrecy, dark sides, and undisclosed secret locations, vote for Giuliani!:
In a Republican presidential candidates‘ debate last week, Giuliani asserted: "My government in New York City was so transparent that they knew every single thing I did almost every time I did it. ... I can‘t think of a public figure that‘s had a more transparent life than I‘ve had."

"He ran a government as closed as he could make it," said attorney Floyd Abrams, a widely recognized First Amendment authority who faced off against city lawyers when Giuliani sought to shut the Brooklyn Museum of Art because the mayor considered a painting sacrilegious.

The litany of questions Giuliani has faced in recent weeks about undisclosed business clients and furtive billing practices for police security during trysts with then-girlfriend Judith Nathan are reminiscent of the dozens of lawsuits filed by news organizations to obtain public records, of the numerous state Freedom of Information Law requests that nonprofits like the Coalition for the Homeless were forced to file, of access to City Hall steps denied to protesters.

Victory in the War On Christmas

That'll show us evil Santa crucifying hippies....

Click for bigger pic.

Wait a sec... just what does Santa have to do with Jesus...?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

'Tis the season to be tasered

Fa la la la la la ow ow ow...

Digby of Hullabaloo quoting The Daytona Beach News:
Can running your mouth off at a police officer during a confrontation in a crowded store get you blasted with a Taser?

It happened last month when a Daytona Beach police officer stunned a yoga instructor. The officer used her Taser when the teacher refused to pipe down inside the Best Buy store on West International Speedway Boulevard.
Sounds ok until you read further.

The interaction with the police was less than one minute from start to tasering....

And then there is this: (my bold)
A News-Journal review of all Taser incidents by Daytona Beach police in November shows officers used the weapons 10 times. Beeland's was the only incident that did not involve violence or a fleeing criminal suspect.

Officials with the ACLU and Amnesty International USA say other tactics should have been used, especially because Beeland was not acting violently or threatening the officer in any way.

"In my view, a Taser should be used only as an alternative to a gun," said Glenn Katon, director of the Central Region of the ACLU in Orlando. "Is yelling (at an officer) enough resistance to cause someone to be Tasered?

"People are getting killed with Tasers," he said.
Taser use has become so commonplace, Katon said, that officers no longer employ other training tactics they've learned to subdue people.

"I certainly don't want to see an officer get hurt, but a cop should have enough training to be able to use something other than a Taser to calm someone down," Katon said.
It's so quick just to taser somebody into submission and then figure out what the problem is. Why on earth do police need any training at all?


Could it be this policewoman went to the Blackwater camp for training?

Hey! I can liberal fascist write fascist gay like liberal homosexual fascism this too fascist!

It isn't fascism gay liberalism fascist too hard to do trying to gay fascistically liberalize fascist gayness merge anything to fascist together liberal if you just jam every homosexual liberal fascist gay thing together.

Der Rocketfuhrer of Sadly No! takes Jonah Goldberg's 'novel' apart piece by liberal fascist gay piece.

Update 12/26: David Neiwert of Orcinus is doing a great job as well of comparing and contrasting fascism and liberalism.

Update 12/27: James Wolcott, the supreme high poobah of snark finishes Jonah off. There is nothing left to mock.

The war on Christmas escalates!

Deck the halls with hand grenades and missilestoe!:
Bremerton, WA (AHN) - A Washington man is going all out to show his disdain for Christmas commercialism.

In lieu of the traditional snowman or the nativity scene, Art Conrad has put up a Santa Claus nailed to a 4.5-meter crucifix in front of his house.

Neighbors and onlookers were naturally curious but Conrad has a ready explanation.

"Santa has been perverted from who he started out to be...Now he's the person being used by corporations to get us to buy more stuff," Conrad explains.

But that is not all. He sends friends Christmas cards that will make people behind Hallmark cringe.

He has a photo of the crucified Santa with the message: "Santa died for your MasterCard."

Even if some people around the Bremerton neighborhood are offended, Conrad says it is just his way of injecting fun into Christmas commercialism, an issue that people refuse to talk about, much less criticize.

And if this is not enough tragedy:
Wellington - A gang of drunken Santas ran riot through a Christchurch cinema complex at the weekend, pushing families waiting to see the film Enchanted, ripping posters off the walls and shouting "Ho, f....... ho," a newspaper reported on Monday. "They were kicking things over, ripping down posters and smashing everything in sight," said Kate Gorman, 35, who was in the cinema with her two children, aged 6 and 7.

She told The Press that the children had asked her, "Are they Santa's helpers gone crazy?" And she had told them, "No, they are just idiots."

The cinema had to be evacuated for about 30 minutes after the drunken crowd left through an emergency door setting off a fire alarm.
Somebody call Bill O'Reilly! We are under attack! Our borders are awash with nude drunken Santas! Film at eleven!

How long have you known about the CIA torture tapes, Mr. President?

And have you watched them?
CIA 'kept' tapes from 9/11 probe:
A leaked memorandum from the former 9/11 commission says it made repeated requests to the CIA for information on the interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects.

But ex-commission executive director Philip Zelikow says the CIA did not hand over tapes that have since come to light, the New York Times reported.

The CIA later erased the footage, which allegedly contains images of abuse.

The memo urges a further investigation into whether the agency acted illegally by withholding the recordings.

The CIA says there was no specific request for the tapes, which reportedly contained images of interrogation techniques including water-boarding, which simulates drowning. The CIA denies torture.
CIA director Hayden:
CIA director General Michael Hayden has confirmed that his agency destroyed videotapes taken during the interrogations of two al-Qaeda suspects soon after 9/11.

His statement to CIA employees was widely reported nationwide by Thursday evening.

Gen Hayden - ex-Air Force Intelligence, ex-National Security Agency, amiable and widely respected - now faces a public test of his credibility.


Gen Hayden says they posed a security risk: they could expose the CIA interrogators shown on them to al-Qaeda reprisals.

The general also says that their contents had been documented in detail and they were not pertinent to any of the legal investigations and court cases that have requested from the CIA details of detainee interrogations.

And, says the CIA, all the interrogation techniques shown were legal.

Under investigation

The question for the CIA now will be this: will anybody - lawyers for detainees or human rights activists or congressional investigators or even just bloody-minded opponents of the Bush administration - be able to make a case that the CIA, by destroying the tapes, was destroying evidence?
"..they could expose the CIA interrogators"? Really? Kinda like when Valerie Plame was outed? How many people were compromised when that happened? How many people died? Is the CIA going to let the White House run right over them again?

Four White House lawyers talked about the tapes in depth: Alberto Gonzales, John Bellinger III, Harriet Myers, and David Addington. And they didn't confer with you, Mr. President? You, who prize loyalty and secrecy above everything else? They acted without you?

I find that really hard to believe, unless Uncle Dick is not sharing everything he's done with you....

Water boarding: prisoner bound to a board with feet raised, and cellophane wrapped round his head. Water is poured onto his face and is said to produce a fear of drowning

Cold cell: prisoner made to stand naked in a cold, though not freezing, cell and doused with water

Standing: Prisoners stand for 40 hours and more, shackled to the floor

Belly slap: a hard slap to the stomach with an open hand. This is designed to be painful but not to cause injury


It's torture, Georgie. Why did your administration decide to call the Geneva Conventions quaint? Why did you want torture 'on the table'? Why were you so adamant to have these torture techniques employed? Why was Abu Gonzales asked to find a legal way to activate torture? Why was Rumsfeld scrawling notes about how easy it was to stand for eight hours and that it wasn't enough? Why was there an overheard conversation (Richard Clarke?) between high-ranking White House staff in the days after 9/11 happily discussing torture techniques to use on al-Qaeda and Iraqis? And we're supposed to believe all those dog leashes and glow sticks used on prisoners at Abu Ghraib are part of the everyday equipment of soldiers?

And when Rumsfeld became incensed over the photos of Abu Ghraib, he wasn't upset by the torture. He was upset by the existence of the photos. The acts didn't disturb him, the fact that the world now knew disturbed him.

You opened this door and are now trying to pretend that what was done with your okay and in your name hasn't happened. The truth will out and we will get to hear all the horrible details, if not now, soon. This administration thought that torture would make people be in shock and awe of them. All this did was announce to the citizens of Iraq and the United States and to the world that this administration was cowardly, craven, inept and incompetent. Losers use torture. Wise men don't need to.

And don't drag out that stupid excuse that everything changed on 9/11. Nothing changed on 9/11 except we finally joined the rest of the world in dealing with terrorists. Not every country dealing with terrorism turns into a police state and tortures people. Not every government uses such a blow to undo everything that they can't stand in the Constitution and in our laws. But your administration did, Georgie.

I bet you and your pals have watched the CIA torture tapes. Or, as you demanded of Saddam Hussein to produce proof that he did not have WMDs, prove that you haven't.

Because, by the way you are denying things and shifting times to prove you didn't know anything about anything, we're assuming you have.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hoover wanted mass arrests of 12,000 Americans

Amazing how we have teetered on the edge so many times, and that this mindset still lurks in our halls of power. Saving us from ourselves by denying us our freedom:
WASHINGTON - Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had a plan to suspend the rules against illegal detention and arrest up to 12,000 Americans he suspected of being disloyal, according to a newly declassified document.

Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950, less than two weeks after the Korean War began. But there is no evidence to suggest that President Truman or any subsequent president approved any part of Hoover's proposal to house suspect Americans in military and federal prisons.

Hoover had wanted Truman to declare the mass arrests necessary to "protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage," The New York Times reported Saturday in a story posted on its Web site.

The plan called for the FBI to apprehend all potentially dangerous individuals whose names were on a list Hoover had been compiling for years.

"The index now contains approximately twelve thousand individuals, of which approximately ninety-seven percent are citizens of the United States," Hoover wrote in the now-declassified document. "In order to make effective these apprehensions, the proclamation suspends the writ of habeas corpus."

Habeas corpus is the right to seek relief from illegal detention, and is a bedrock legal principle.

All apprehended individuals eventually would have had the right to a hearing under Hoover's plan, but hearing boards comprised of one judge and two citizens would not have been bound by the rules of evidence.

The details of Hoover's plan was among a collection of Cold War-era documents related to intelligence issues from 1950-1955. The State Department declassified the documents on Friday.

We can learn from the Hoover era and how to avoid such dangerous pitfalls because of the paper trail. Will we be able to learn anything from the Bush administration?


Fire in Cheney's offices? Never mind....

Who would Jesus waterboard?

A reminder of the teachings of Jesus to those who are mainly interested in Old Testament smiting.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Onward Christian Soldier

They really want this to be a holy war, don't they?

A video made by Campus Crusade for Christ, a Christian ministry group, shows Air Force Academy cadets being pressured to participate in religious activities and become "government paid missionaries when they leave."

Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), which released the video this week, says the video is "absolutely out of control."

"You cannot engage the U.S. government to propel your religion," said Weinstein.


"Our purpose for Campus Crusade for Christ at the Air Force Academy is to make Jesus Christ the issue at the Air Force Academy and around the world," says Scott Blum, the former Academy Campus Crusade for Christ director, who had no previous military experience but -- according to the video -- always "knew that God called him to invest in the lives of military men and women."

As a Church choir sings in the background, the video's narrator asserts that "each year, cadets are recognizing God's call which will make an impact in the present ... and for eternity."

Weinstein says the video is only one item on a "long menu" of unconstitutional evangelism going on in the military. The MRFF compiled a six month investigative report in 2007 on the Christian group, focusing on the group's Fort Jackson "God Basic Training" that they allege teaches the recruits that "when you join the military, you've really joined the ministry."

AndWatertiger of Dependable Renegade has the perfect picture.

Up is down

Does anyone else find this strange?
The number of European countries doing away with border checks expanded by nine early on Friday morning. Most of those joined were behind the Iron Curtain just 20 years ago.

Europe just got bigger. At one minute after midnight local time on early Friday morning, border controls vanished for nine more European Union members, many of them former members of the Soviet Bloc. Fireworks, cheers, music and speeches throughout the morning welcomed the expansion, which means that travelers can move from the far corners of Estonia all the way to the Atlantic coast in Portugal without once encountering a border guard.

Europe is becoming united, more peaceful, and the Euro is rising in value while the U.S. is building walls, becoming warlike and thuggish, and the dollar is in free fall. We just need to avoid getting a leader that gives rambling incoherent speeches, has an elite private army, and although democratically elected, gathers all powers to himself in order to protect our freedoms.... oh shit.

At least Bush doesn't have a toothbrush moustache...


Phila of Bouphonia does his usual magic.

Friday Cat Blogging

With hijacked kitty..

Bush demands that California pollute more


The Bush administration's decision to deny California permission to regulate and reduce global warming emissions from cars and trucks is an indefensible act of executive arrogance that can only be explained as the product of ideological blindness and as a political payoff to the automobile industry.

The decision, announced Wednesday by Stephen Johnson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, overrode the advice of his legal and technical staffs, misconstrued the law and defied both Congress and the federal courts. It also stuck a thumb in the eyes of 17 other state governors who have grown impatient with the federal government's failure to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and wanted to move aggressively on their own.

The Clean Air Act of 1970 gave California authority to set its own clean air standards if it first received a federal waiver. The law also said that other states could then adopt California's standards. In 2004, California asked permission to move ahead with a law requiring automakers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and light trucks by 30 percent by 2016. That would require improvements in fuel economy far beyond those called for in the energy bill signed this week.

Over the years, California has made 50 waiver requests to regulate smog-forming pollutants and other gases and has never been denied. This was the first request involving emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which the Bush administration has steadfastly refused to regulate.

Hmmm. Bush doesn't really seem sincere about global warming and alternate energy sources, does he? How strange....

We'll talk to you after you've done everything we demand of you

And then there'll be nothing to talk about:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday the United States remains open to negotiations with Iran and Syria if both these countries change what she characterized as confrontational policies in the Middle East.
Iran has been frequently criticized by U.S. officials for supplying weapons to insurgent forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and for pressing ahead with a nuclear weapons program.
Rice said the U.S. would not meet with the top Iranian leaders until they suspend their uranium enrichment program, a stance she said is supported by the U.N. Security Council. Even a short suspension of Tehran's enrichment program, which could lead to the fissile material needed for an atomic weapon, would be welcome, she said.
«As long as the Iranians are talking and practicing enrichment, we're not getting anywhere,» Rice said.
Rice just returned from a trip to Iraq where she said progress has been made reducing violence since a surge of U.S. forces earlier this year, adding 30,000 troops for a total of more than 160,000 now.
And she finishes with this cheerful note:
«Iraq today is a different country than it was a year ago,» she said. But she also called the security gains fragile and said long-term success hinges on the Iraqis settling their political differences.
It sure is a different country from four years ago, too.


Very helpful talk about the economic situation today. One fascinating conjecture he made: if home prices decline 30%, we may have easily 40% of homeowners (20 million) with negative equity. (They would owe more on their loans than the house is worth.)

Listening to him speak, I didn't have the feeling we need to stock up on dried beans and rice.... at least it's not 'fighting in the aisles time over the bags of lentils' time yet.

But stocking up never hurt anybody.

When you promise the fundamentalist Christians a seat at the table

Why are you so surprised when they get angry when they only get scraps and so strike out on their own?

E.J. Dionne of Truthdig
WASHINGTON—The rise of Mike Huckabee has put the fear of God into the Republican establishment. Its alarm has nothing to do with the Almighty.

The Huckabee surge represents a break with what has been standard operating procedure within the GOP for more than a generation. Huckabee’s evangelical Christian army in Iowa ignored the importuning of entrenched leaders of the religious right and decided to go with one of their own.

Huckabee himself preaches a gospel of populism that rejects conservative orthodoxy on trade, the value of government and the beneficence of Wall Street.


But Huckabee poses an even greater danger since Giuliani, despite his apostasy on abortion and gay rights, has pledged fealty to economic and foreign policy conservatism.

Huckabee, said Keene, a Romney supporter, “is not a conservative who is an evangelical, he’s an evangelical populist. It’s not the evangelical part that conservatives worry about. It’s the populism. It’s his economic views.”

National Review—the canonical publication of the conservative movement—rallied behind Romney last week in an editorial that was candid about the dangers facing the conservative coalition.


The polls suggest that religious conservatism, not economic populism, is behind Huckabee’s rise in Iowa. But he is not backing down from his role as a tribune of the dispossessed. On NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday, he declared that “the Wall Street-to-Washington axis, this corridor of power, is absolutely, frantically against me.” He insisted: “The president ought to be a servant of the people and ought not to be elected to the ruling class.” Power to the People, Mike, Right On!

If you had to bet, you’d wager that the Republican establishment will eventually crush Huckabee. But the rebellion he is leading is a warning to Republicans. The faithful are restive, tired of being used, and no longer willing to do the bidding of a crowd that subordinates Main Street’s values to Wall Street’s interests.

Why we are angry

And getting madder by the minute:

With one more year to go, who knows where it will end up?

Hugh makes a list of the Bush scandals:
INTRODUCTION: George Bush, the Connecticut cowboy, the good old boy from Yale is a man of mediocre intelligence, little imagination, and great stubbornness and vindictiveness. He may be the Decider but his handlers have long known how to manipulate him. The key is to hook him with short, simple sells. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice know that once he has consulted his gut and perhaps his higher father his decision is forever. So whoever gets to him first is likely to carry the day because he doesn't like to be challenged and is, quite simply, too lazy to change his mind. The Bubble is a natural consequence of this decision making process where logic, reason, and facts have little or no role.

Bush's Presidency began in the shadow of a contested and likely stolen election and promised to be unsuccessful in a largely forgettable and unremarkable way. 911 changed all that and transformed a plodding, and essentially AWOL one termer into an accidental hero. Enormous power flowed to his office but Bush had no idea how to use it. He liked to campaign, not govern. In those around him, he prized loyalty over competence and honesty. A believer in the notion of "to the victor go the spoils," he was the perfect mark for every conniver, bumbler, bungler, hack, hanger on, and would be crony that Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and their friends could find. In the normal course of things, this would have spelled failure. Post-911, it was catastrophic.

At this critical juncture in our history we needed an adult but got an adolescent. Instead of responsibility, we got a truant. In place of flexibility we got obduracy. In the face of great and complex challenges, we got strawmen, a black and white universe, my way or the highway, regurgitated stump speeches, and a steadfast refusal to compromise not just with opponents but with reality.

What all this comes down to is that George Bush should never have become our President. He is not just a bad President but the worst one we could have had, the worst our country has ever seen. This is a judgment that many Americans have come to but which our political establishment and media, even after 6 years, have yet to acknowledge, accept, and act on. This is the tragedy and crime of our times.

And then Hugh proceeds to list the scandals.
Photo and scroll by Philip Munger of the Progressive Alaska blog
Update: More on the creation of the scroll.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

California would like to join!

The Lakota Indians, the tribe of legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have declared their independence from the United States Wednesday.

The Native American tribe, whose territory span five midwestern states, delivered a message to the US State Department earlier this week, announcing that they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties signed with the US government.

The Native Americans say the treaties have been repeatedly violated by the US government. There are 33 treaties that the Lakota tribe feels have been broken.

Around half of the Lakota nation is in the state of South Dakota. The rest of the territory rests in parts of the states of Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

Representatives of the self-proclaimed new Lakota country say they plan to issue their own passports and driving licenses. Residents would live there would be tax-free, provided that they renounce their US citizenship.

The Lakota Indians have gone through hard times in recent years as a culture. Lakota teen suicides are 150 percent above the United States average; infant mortality is five times higher than the US average; and unemployment is very high.

Update 12/22: As Bryan of Why Now? noted in comments and Cernig of The Newshoggers posted, Russell Means loves to commandeer the spotlight and spoke without authority of the tribes.

I still think this is in reaction to Bush's explanation of sovereignty...

Cloned meat to market

But now they have this handy dandy tracking system!:
Washington, D.C. (AHN) - The Biotechnology Industry Association (BIO) has launched a tracking system that allows food companies to track cloned livestock throughout the food processing chain.

The system was launched Wednesday a year after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a draft risk assessment that meat and milk from cloned animals were safe for human consumption.

BIO, which represents 1,100 companies and cloning organizations in 32 countries, urged the FDA to release a final risk assessment on the safety of food products from cloned animals, Agence France-Presse reported.

They say it's to pull the products if there is a moratorium on them... maybe if we start to glow in the dark?

I know, I know. Cloned meat is safe to eat. But why does this make me feel like becoming a vegetarian?


He's totally clear, you understand me?

His table is getting heaped with stuff being left on it, too:

Washington, DC (AHN)-President Bush delivered a year-end news conference on Thursday, speaking for just under an hour but touching upon a host of issues, including the economy, the environment and new sustainable energy policies, Middle East security, and the upcoming 2008 presidential elections, which he predicted would be won by the Republican party.

Bush's appearance came a few hours after Congress wrapped up its work for the year and headed home for the holidays. During the press conference, Bush discussed 2007 legislative achievements such as the recent energy bill, but also chastised Congress for its failure to pass a number of important bills, including a permanent fix to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

When asked his opinion on the CIA tape destruction case, President Bush said he would reserve judgment until the CIA, Justice Department, and congressional oversight committees completed its investigation into the matter. He also insisted that he had no knowledge of either the existence or destruction of the tapes until he was briefed CIA Director Michael Hayden earlier this month.

"Sounds pretty clear to me when I say I have -- the first recollection is when Mike Hayden briefed me. That's pretty clear," Bush said, adding that ongoing investigations, "coupled with oversight provided by the Congress, will end up enabling us all to find out what has happened."

Right. When is someone going to be brave enough to ask him if he's seen any of the tapes?

Check the back of your sock drawer, Georgie.

It was just one small laptop...

Which had everyone's social security number and all their personal data...
The Top 10 Data Breaches of 2007

Soldiers videotaping themselves fighting

In Iraq:

Grabbing power wherever they can

Away from those who challenge the Bush adminstration's authority.

Jeralyn at Talk Left:
In another outrageous attempt at grabbing power that does not belong to it, the Bush Administration is now seeking to control which military lawyers get promotions:

The Bush administration is pushing to take control of the promotions of military lawyers, escalating a conflict over the independence of uniformed attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House's policies toward prisoners in the war on terrorism.

The administration has proposed a regulation requiring "coordination" with politically appointed Pentagon lawyers before any member of the Judge Advocate General corps - the military's 4,000-member uniformed legal force - can be promoted.

In a nutshell,

Under the current system, boards of military officers pick who will join the JAG corps and who will be promoted, while the general counsels' role is limited to reviewing whether the boards followed correct procedures. The proposed rule would impose a new requirement of "coordination" with the general counsels of the services and the Pentagon during the JAG appointment and promotion process.

It's our unitary executive at work again.
Update 12/22: Via Phila of Bouphonia, the plan to politicize JAG promotions is dropped:
An attempt within the Pentagon to politicize promotions for military judge advocates general appears to have been blocked after protests from military lawyers and threats from key lawmakers.

The plan, which called for “coordination” with the civilian general counsels of the services and the Defense Department for the promotion of any JAG officers, had been circulated in the Pentagon since November but ran into a serious roadblock Tuesday when key members of Congress learned about the details.

For promotions to O-6 and below, the proposed policy required coordination with the chief civilian lawyer of each service, the service general counsel. For promotions to flag and general officer rank, the proposal called for coordination with the Defense Department general counsel.

DoD General Counsel William Haynes had planned to hold a meeting this Friday with the service judge advocates general to discuss the proposal, but sources in the Pentagon and in Congress said if a meeting is held at all, it will be to try to heal the wounds the proposal caused.

“This is one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard come out of the DoD general counsel,” said Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., an Army Reserve JAG officer and former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on military personnel.

That's a Republican saying it was one of the dumbest ideas.... That's saying a lot!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Best quote ever

Describing Jonah Goldberg's attempt to connect liberals and fascists in his novel:
Reading this book is like watching a flaming piano fall out of an airplane and land in a puppy farm.
Thank you, Gavin at Sadly, No!

How can it be unlawful to shoot any civilian you want to in a war zone?

The Bush administration promised the mercenaries fighting this war that they would not have to worry about accountability, right?

Blackwater is being sued:
The Center for Constitutional Rights is filing another lawsuit today against the private military firm Blackwater—this time for a shooting in Baghdad on September 9th that left five people dead and ten injured. The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of the family members of one those killed in the shooting.
Countdown to explanations as to why this will be a blow to our freedoms... or to the glorious Eternal War on Terror and Islamofascisticevildoers... 4.. 3.. 2..

When you allow torture to become the norm

(Via Crooks and Liars.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Terrorist facility found within the United States

Bush ignores memo about secret al-squrrla camp intending to attack pants, goes on vacation.

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All your votes are belong to us

"A comprehensive study of electronic voting systems (PDF) by vendors ES&S, Hart InterCivic and Premier (formerly Diebold) found that 'all of the studied systems possess critical security failures that render their technical controls insufficient to guarantee a trustworthy election'. In particular, they note all systems provide insufficiently protection against threats from election insiders, do not follow well-known security practices, and have 'deeply flawed software maintenance' practices." Some of these machines are the ones California testers found fault with last week.
Update 12/19: Steve Bates of The Yellow Doggerel Democrat in comments mentioned that Colorado is addressing this problem:
DENVER (AP) — Colorado's secretary of state has declared many of the state's electronic voting machines to be unreliable, but said Tuesday that some of them could still be used in November if a software patch was installed.

Other machines that failed could be replaced with equipment certified for use in other states, Secretary of State Mike Coffman said.

Coffman met with a task force of state lawmakers to discuss what Colorado should do the day after he decertified three of the four voting equipment manufacturers allowed in the state, affecting six of Colorado's 10 most populous counties.

It's what good patriots do, right?

Catapult the propaganda?
"Wikileaks reports that US armed forces personnel at Guantanamo have conducted propaganda attacks over the Internet. (The story has been picked up by the NYTimes, The Inquirer, the New York Daily News, and the AP.) The activities documented by Wikileaks include deleting Guantanamo detainees' ID numbers from Wikipedia, posting of self-praising comments on news websites in response to negative articles, promoting pro-Guantanamo stories on the Internet news focus website Digg, and even altering Wikipedia's entry on Cuban President Fidel Castro to describe him as 'an admitted transsexual' (misspelling the word 'transsexual'). Guantanamo spokesman Lt. Col. Bush blasted Wikileaks for identifying one 'mass communications officer' by name, who has since received death threats for 'simply doing his job — posting positive comments on the Internet about Gitmo.'"
I mean... rice pilaf! And lemon herbed chicken! What's not to like? Like this boy here. He was 15 when he was brought to Gitmo. FIVE years ago. That's a lot of rice pilaf!:

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Detained at age 15 in July 2002 by US Forces in Afghanistan, the Canadian Omar Khadr, Guantanamo detainee #766, has been held for over 5 years without trial. Omar was one of at least three detainees who had their ID numbers covertly deleted from Wikipedia on Nov 1 and Nov 2, 2007 by Guantanamo staff.
Five years without trial. And they're trying to erase his name. What are they planning to do with him, disappear him? After five years, is he functional and able to be let go? Are they ever going to let him go?

Or are these lucky lemon-herbed-chicken-eating guys prisoners for life just because?

Huckabee's twenty best

Questionable actions:
The authentic, charismatic former minister, they say, is swaying disheartened conservative voters, especially the legions of evangelicals in Iowa and other states, disillusioned with President Bush and unimpressed with his potential successors. But despite emerging stories from his checkered past such as the Wayne Dumond affair or his past AIDS bigotry, a true portrait of Mike Huckabee as a radical reactionary and dangerous extremist has yet to be painted.
The first ten.

The next ten

Folksy and personable we've had for seven years and now only 28% of the citizens wants to have a beer with Georgie. Have we learned the lesson yet or will this obviously extremist thin-skinned religious fanatic get to present himself as just another good old boy?

Update 12/19: OMG! Jeff Fecke of Shakesville has a wonderful spectrum of aberrant behaviors to help us understand Mike Huckabee better.

Wait a minute... does this make sense?

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We are growing corn to make ethanol because we want to be less reliant on foreign oil (no more wars) and more environmentally friendly (fight global warming), right? So when businesses activate a coal burning plant to process ethanol (which is actually an extremely inefficient carbon to burn), isn't that kinda defeating the purpose? When we ignore the fact that some biofuels actually damage the enviroment more, isn't that kinda defeating the purpose? And when the ethanol mega farms begin using too much water from the ancient acquifers in Iowa, isn't that kinda defeating the purpose?

So when we grow so much corn that we flood the rivers with fertilizer and it poisons everything downstream and way out into the Gulf of Mexico, isn't that kinda defeating the purpose?:
JEFFERSON, Iowa - Because of rising demand for ethanol, American farmers are growing more corn than at any time since World War II. And sea life in the Gulf of Mexico is paying the price.

The nation's corn crop is fertilized with millions of pounds of nitrogen-based fertilizer. And when that nitrogen runs off fields in Corn Belt states, it makes its way to the Mississippi River and eventually pours into the Gulf, where it contributes to a growing "dead zone" — a 7,900-square-mile patch so depleted of oxygen that fish, crabs and shrimp suffocate.

The dead zone was discovered in 1985 and has grown fairly steadily since then, forcing fishermen to venture farther and farther out to sea to find their catch. For decades, fertilizer has been considered the prime cause of the lifeless spot.

Who is getting rich off this nonsense? You want to take a guess? Maybe Bush's cronies or the Megafarms?

Update 12/19: Carl at Simply Left Behind makes the same points.

Does Chris Matthews cross his legs

And put his hands protectively in his lap when he's talking about Hillary?

Because he sure is scared of her.

That's what we've been scared shitless about

For both of your two terms, Georgie.

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Actual preznit quotes that are teeth-bendingly horrible found here.

Georgie must be really pleased

That his dad and Bill have bonded so...

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina (CNN) – Former President Bill Clinton said Monday that the first thing his wife Hillary will do when she reaches the White House is dispatch him and his predecessor, President George H.W. Bush, on an around-the-world mission to repair the damage done to America's reputation by the current president — Bush's son, George W. Bush.

"Well, the first thing she intends to do, because you can do this without passing a bill, the first thing she intends to do is to send me and former President Bush and a number of other people around the world to tell them that America is open for business and cooperation again," Clinton said in response to a question from a supporter about what his wife's "number one priority" would be as president.

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At least they didn't taser him

That would have really been bad!
Minneapolis, MN (AHN) - SWAT team members kicked down the door of the wrong home, and were reportedly shot at by the surprised homeowner. The man was apparently frightened by the unexpected arrival of the officers, and grabbed the gun for defense.

The SWAT's arrival at the wrong house was apparently due to bad information given to police, who were carrying out a search warrant. Two officers were hit by the shots, but their bullet-proof gear saved them from injury.

A statement made by Sgt. Jesse Garcia said, "It was some bad information that was received on the front end and it's unfortunate because we have officers that were hit by gunfire and this truly, truly could have been a much worse situation."

The man, Vang Khang, was trying to defend himself, his wife, and his six children as he shot the officers, reported the AP.

"He thought they were gang members and he was scared," explained Dao Khang, Vang's brother. He added that his brother initially fired a warning shot, and then followed it up with two more from his closed bedroom, with the bullets going through the door.

Some officers returned fire, the report followed, but the entire incident was concluded with no injuries.


The incident was worsened by an apparent language barrier, as Vang, a Hmong, did not speak English, according to Sang Vang, the executive director of the Hmong American Mutual Assistance Association

Vang was taken into custody, but was released. Police have yet to decide whether or not to charge him with firing on the officers. On the other hand, the officers were placed on administrative leave while the incident was put under investigation.
I don't think the use of the word 'surprised' to describe the homeowner really gets to the essence of what the man was feeling....

And he's promised to bomb Iran....

...Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) made news by crossing party lines and endorsing Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for president. Announcing his support, Lieberman said he backed McCain because the Arizona senator is “a leader who can break through the partisan gridlock.”

Today on MSNBC, Lieberman admitted that McCain was the only ‘08 presidential candidate who sought him out, telling MSNBC’s Monica Novotny that “not one of the Democrats asked for my support”
Holy Joe also liked the way McCain sang that totally cool song, "Bomb bomb bomb Iran...."

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Where the neocons go to ground?

A giant rodent five times the size of a common rat has been discovered in the mountainous jungles of New Guinea.

The 1.4kg Mallomys giant rat is one of two species of mammal thought to be new to science documented on an expedition to an area described as a "lost world".

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(Picture from article.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

There's an endless supply

The top ten ethics scandals from CREW, via Think Progress:

No new enforcement mechanisms for congressional ethics;

Ted Stevens still sitting on Senate Appropriations;

Senate Ethics Committee looking into Sen. Craig, but not Sen. Vitter;

Millions of missing White House emails still unaccounted for;

Rep. Murtha’s abuse of the earmarking process remains unchecked;

Lurita Doan remains chief of GSA despite illegal conduct;

White House covering up its role in the firings of the U.S. Attorneys;

No Child Left Behind funds directed to Bush fundraisers who provide inadequate reading materials for kids;

Court decision regarding search of Jefferson’s office limits ability of DOJ to investigate other corrupt lawmakers; and

FEMA knowingly let Katrina victims live in hazardous trailers

And then there's the top ten idiots for the week.

This is what our country has become

Via Hipparchia of Over the Cliff, Onto the Rocks, this woman was treated horribly by der Department von Homeland Sekurity:

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During the last twenty-four hours I have probably experienced the greatest humiliation to which I have ever been subjected. During these last twenty-four hours I have been handcuffed and chained, denied the chance to sleep, been without food and drink and been confined to a place without anyone knowing my whereabouts, imprisoned. Now I am beginning to try to understand all this, rest and review the events which began as innocently as possible.

Last Sunday I and a few other girls began our trip to New York. We were going to shop and enjoy the Christmas spirit. We made ourselves comfortable on first class, drank white wine and looked forward to go shopping, eat good food and enjoy life. When we landed at JFK airport the traditional clearance process began. We were screened and went on to passport control. As I waited for them to finish examining my passport I heard an official say that there was something which needed to be looked at more closely and I was directed to the work station of Homeland Security. There I was told that according to their records I had overstayed my visa by 3 weeks in 1995. For this reason I would not be admitted to the country and would be sent home on the next flight. I looked at the official in disbelief and told him that I had in fact visited New York after the trip in 1995 without encountering any difficulties. A detailed interrogation session ensued.
Luckily she could tell who she was dealing with:
I saw the officials in this section handle other cases and it was clear that these were men anxious to demonstrate their power. Small kings with megalomania. I was careful to remain completely cooperative, for I did not yet believe that they planned to deport me because of my "crime". When 5 hours had passed and I had been awake for 24 hours, I was told that they were waiting for officials who would take me to a kind of waiting room. There I would be given a bed to rest in, some food and I would be searched. What they thought they might find I cannot possibly imagine. Finally guards appeared who transported me to the new place. I saw the bed as if in a mirage, for I was absolutely exhausted. What turned out was something else. I was taken to another office exactly like the one where I had been before and once again a long wait ensued. In all, it turned out to be 5 hours. At this office all my things were taken from me. I succeeded in sending a single sms to worried relatives and friends when I was granted a bathroom break. After that the cell phone was taken from me. After I had been sitting for 5 hours I was told that they were now waiting for guards who would take me to a place where I could rest and eat. Then I was placed in a cubicle which looked like an operating room. Attached to the walls were 4 steel plates, probably intended to serve as bed and a toilet.
This makes me so proud to be an American. Making the rest of the world hate us, one tourist at a time.

Torture doesn't work

Bryan of Why Now? tells us what actually works:

I was a linguist and interrogator in the military, and I conducted interviews in criminal cases in law enforcement. I didn’t have to threaten anyone, hit anyone, abuse anyone, and I got people to tell me what I wanted to know relatively quickly.

If you don’t speak the interviewee’s language, you are wasting your time. You have to start a conversation. You have to create the environment in which the interviewee wants to talk, and you let them.

If you want to know how to conduct an interrogation, watch Bill Moyers, because he is one of the best interrogators in the world. That is what a trained professional interrogator is trying to do. That’s what works.

Oh, you always tape interrogations because taking notes can be distracting and the notepad is mainly a to do list and a prop. In a foreign language interrogation you also want another linguist to double check your understanding of what was said.

Exactly. This bizarre need to torture that the White House obsesses over does not come from any proof that torture works, it comes from being cowardly and craven and wanting to be the biggest bully on the block.

True interrogation means you have to listen and narcissistic sociopaths do not have that ability.

I believe in Father Christmas

(hijacked from Michael at Cannablog who has the best music.)

Should I open this email?

"Turn your trouser mouse into a one-eyed giant bmpqic!"

It's so... tantalizingly weird.

Now if they had mentioned something about squirrels....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Writing about religion can make you lose your faith

Stephen Bates of the Guardian:
I never wanted to be a religious affairs correspondent. I had always regarded it as a slippers and pipe sort of a job, to be given to ageing hacks in beige cardigans working their way towards retirement.


Anyway, weren’t we all pretty ecumenical these days? Didn’t religious chaps and chapesses think the best of everyone, even those not of a like mind? How wrong I was. This was in the days before 9/11, George Bush’s election and the dawning realisation of the murderous impulses of religiously inspired Islamic terrorism, but I soon discovered there were quite enough feuds to be going on with even in the good old Church of England. The first inkling was when I opened what was to become my favourite religious periodical, the English Churchman, a deeply conservative publication which still calls the Pope the Anti-Christ, publishes the odd article suggesting slavery was not really such a bad institution and argues that Margaret Thatcher’s worst mistake was allowing shops to open on Sundays.


The religious correspondent is the one specialist on the Guardian who has to justify his specialism to the sceptics, on the paper and outside (“Why do we have to read this rubbish?”), and to our many religiously inclined readers (“Why are you always so hostile to religion?”). The Guardian actually gives more space to a wider range of religious (and non-religious) opinions than any other paper. That is precisely because religion is important as a philosophical, political, cultural, social and historical motivating force across the world and, despite the best efforts of atheists and secularists – some as fundamentalist in their beliefs as the most dogmatic religionist – will remain so.

Now I am moving on. It was time to go. What faith I had, I’ve lost, I am afraid – I’ve seen too much, too close. A young Methodist press officer once asked me earnestly whether I saw it as my job to spread the Good News of Jesus. No, I said, that’s the last thing I am here to do.

I wonder if he ever reported on the Pastafarians...

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It would have been a lot more fun and tasty than writing about the weirdness of preacherman Huckabee's son, the necessity of Congress in "Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith" or the tenets of the Mormon religion....

Doing just what the White House has done

Go after terrorists with no thought as to consequences:
Turkish warplanes have bombed suspected Kurdish rebel bases deep inside northern Iraq - in what appears the first time fighter jets have been used.

They targeted the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in areas near the border, officials said. The Turkish media said up to 50 planes were used.

Iraqi officials say bombs hit 10 villages, killing one woman, while the PKK reported seven deaths.

There is nothing we can complain about, is there?

What is bearing down upon the next Democratic president

Will be uncorked media-froth about the evils of the Democrats... even though it's the Republicans who did it.

Digby of Hullabaloo:
A Democratic president, no matter who it is, is going to pay for the Republicans' sins. But it won't be just because the Republicans and Blue Dogs in congress suddenly "realize" they have co-equal power. I predict that the right wing noise machine will shout far and wide that the election was stolen (probably with the help of "illegal aliens.") The new president will not be allowed to weed out even one right wing plant anywhere in the executive branch without being accused of politicizing it. There will be no executive privilege as the courts rediscover their "responsibilities." Scientists and experts will all be accused of being shills for the liberal special interests. The president will be accused of violating Americans' civil liberties and destroying the constitution. There will be widespread accusations of fraud and corruption and non-stop investigations.

In other words the Republicans are going to accuse the Democratic president of everything we know the Bush administration did. And because it was never fully investigated or even fully discussed, people will lay the sins at the feet of the Democratic president and feel a sense of relief that the balance of power is being restored and Washington is finally being cleaned up.

The media, who know the real story (they helped cover it up, after all) will lead the charge. The GOP will feed them juicy stories with just the right amount of sexy detail and they will rush to tell the American people, gravely intoning their deep concern for the integrity of the office and "their town." (And the children...)
The rightwing smear machine will change from defense to offense with ease. Will we be ready? Can our spineless Congress rise to the occasion?

It's going to get even uglier than it is now.

Update 12/17: Chet Scoville of Vanity Press adds:
During the 90s there was a runaway Republican Congress that decided to impeach a Democratic President. This was wildly unpopular. The lesson that the inside-the-beltway crowd took away from this was that impeachment and indeed investigations of the White House were a Bad Thing, and that we should all Put Them Behind Us for the future. And they applied this lesson -- no more impeachments, and investigations are bad -- just in time for the next President (a Republican this time) to benefit from them....

But never fear. As the Administration comes to a close eighteen months from now, all sorts of nasty stuff will begin crawling out from under the woodwork. The inside-the-beltway crowd will conclude from this that they went too far in the other direction: that in their haste not to repeat the torch-and-pitchfork-carrying mob mentality of the Clinton years, they let the White House get away with far too much over the past eight years. They will resolve to correct this error and hold the White House's feet to the fire this time.

And they will apply this lesson just in time for the next President (this time a Democratic one) to take over.