Jeb Bush Question

When they refer to Jeb Bush as "unbelievably brilliant", does this reflect:

a) a comparison with his elder brother, George?
b) that he's the first Bush with an IQ in the triple digits (101 is triple digits)?
c) that, unlike the governor of California, he can spell and pronounce his state's name?
d) that he does many of his daughter's drugs (she looks like every bit as much of a brain trust as the Bush twins and is supposedly just as much of a drug dolt)?

Authors Who Criticize Bush Don't Fare Well

Take this popular author who criticized No Child Left Behind (in a Public School).

Cheney, Plame Notes, and What the VP Does When He Isn't Sleeping

From the wires:

WASHINGTON - In a new court filing, the prosecutor in the CIA leak case revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney made handwritten references to CIA officer Valerie Plame — albeit not by name — before her identity was publicly exposed.

The new court filing is the second in little more than a month by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald mentioning Cheney as being closely focused with his then-chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, on Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, who is married to Plame.

With the two court filings, Fitzgerald has pointed to an important role for the vice president in the weeks leading up to the leaking of Plame's identity.

In the latest court filing late Friday, Fitzgerald said he intends to introduce at Libby's trial in January a copy of Wilson's op-ed article in The New York Times "bearing handwritten notations by the vice president." The article was published on July 6, 2003, eight days before Plame's identity was exposed by conservative columnist Bob Novak.

Refreshingly Stupid and Wistful

I loooooovvvvvveeeeddd the Saturday Night Live opener tonight with the alternate universe where we still had a surplus, we weren't hated by the entire world, there was universal health care, and George Bush was just a fucking baseball commissioner. Nice work, Al Gore and the writers.

Growing Sense Presidential Election of 2004 Stolen

That is, a growing sense among all but Fox News (cough) viewers.

Before You Buy More of the Bu'shitBullshit on the Great US Economy

You better check on how the U.S. dollar is doing.

Speaking of Witch Hunts: Are the Bushies Going After Qwest

Funny that the Qwest exec who wouldn't play ball on illegal phone records acquisition just happens to become the subject of a federal SEC investigation. Real ha-ha.

Any Search for Traitors Should Start in the White House

That's what Frank Rich says... and I'd agree to the point where I think they should start right in the Oval Office and move through to Rove's, Cheney's, Rummy's, and Rice's offices. Of course, this witch hunt will pick up a few bitches, too.

Has Bush's Brain Been Indicted?

Truthout says so, on at least perjury and lying to investigators.

Sibling Poll Rivalry? Why the Big Diff?

From Editor and Publisher, an interesting finding:

They may be owned by the same company, but two polls commissioned by The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine on the important issue of public approval of the National Security Agency's gathering of phone records produced quite different results.

The Newsweek poll released today found that 53% of Americans believe that reports that the NSA has been secretly collecting the phone records of U.S. citizens goes too far in invading people's privacy. Some 41% feel it is a necessary tool to combat terrorism. But on Friday, a widely-publicized Washington Post/ABC survey revealed, to the contrary, that 63% of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44% who strongly endorsed the effort. Only 35% said the program was unacceptable.

So what happened? Most likely views changed that much in one day after more negative media reports (including many from conservative commentators such as MSNBC's Joe Scarborough) surfaced. The Washington Post survey took place before many Americans had heard about, or thought about, the implications. The Newsweek Poll also reached twice as many Americans.

Two Other Key Stories from Blah3

There's the story about the flipping FORTUNE the Department of Homeland (in)Security has spent coming up with a tiny ID card plus this on the Bushies spinning WMD non-entities:

The Bush administration just continues to cement its reputation as the biggest bunch of craven liars ever. It's not like we didn't know it before, but here's yet another story that shows their belief that they can create "new realities" is more important than the actual facts. Former UN weapons inspector Ron Barton has a new book out detailing the background behind Bush's idiotic claim that "we found the WMDs" in a couple of supposed mobile bioweapons labs:
    A year after Bush administration claims about Iraqi "bioweapons trailers" were discredited by American experts, U.S. officials were still suppressing the findings, says a senior member of the CIA-led Iraq inspection team. [....]

    In April 2003,...two unusually equipped trailers were found in Iraq and the CIA declared they were the mobile biolabs described by the defector ["Curveball"].

    This story quickly fell apart behind the scenes, it has since emerged. Testing the equipment in early May 2003, U.S. experts found no traces of biological agents, and later that month the U.S. fact-finders filed their negative report from Baghdad.

    But on May 29, Bush assured Polish television: "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories." Then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell later made similar statements. As late as January 2004, Vice President Dick Cheney called the trailers "conclusive evidence" of Iraqi WMD, one of the reasons given for invading Iraq.

    The experts' findings were classified, never to be released, The Washington Post reported last month. [....]

Verizon: People of the Lie

Stranger at Blah3 brings us this:

Did they really think that they could do what they did and people would just be fine with it? What's happening in Maine is about to happen nation-wide. Way to go, morons.

    A complaint asking the Maine Public Utilities Commission to investigate whether Verizon handed over telephone records to the National Security Agency could be the first of many similar actions taken in other states.

    The Maine complaint was filed just days before USA Today reported that the NSA was collecting and analyzing the phone call records of hundreds of millions of Americans.

    Now groups in other states, including state chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union, are considering asking their state regulators to determine the extent to which telephone companies assisted the NSA. They are reviewing the Maine filing as a resource. "

    ACLU offices around the country are receiving a torrent of phone calls from angry Americans. This has really struck a nerve," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Project. "I think there's going to be a real groundswell of activity at the local and state level."
I'm sure as hell investigating my options against Verizon.

Why is Progress So Damned Bad?

I like EJ Dionne, I do. But he now, along with many others, are telling us that liberals and Dems should adopt some of the rights' favorite causes.

I understand this to some degree. I do. But I'm so sick and tired of being told that the future has to be the past. That we can't go forward because the 1940s and 1950s were so damned good.

I'm not gay and probably at this stage in my life, I probably am not likely to discover I am. But I feel zero threat from gay marriage. Or from non-trad families. I was glad when my adopted state adopted civil unions, but it's kind of discriminatory, still. In fact, it even discriminates against non-gays because heterosexuals who choose not to marry cannot benefit from civil union status.

I'm not willing to shoot somebody for trying to get into this country - although these days, I might question their mental health. The Native American part of me reminds all of the rest of us, "You're all immigrants!" And Mexicans, btw, are Native Americans.

I don't want to pretend that teenagers won't have sex or pretend that every pregnant girl or woman can or should have that minute collection of cells that will ultimately become a human being.

I don't want to celebrate the arrival of the 300 millionth American this October because we're overdrawn on the environment and land and we don't just need lots more humans than the planet currently has.

I'm tired to having people like the Bushies take every advantage of today's technology and possibilities but argue that the rest of us need to live like it's 1944.

Am I the only one?


Not Quite Ready for Prime Time But...

the basic architecture for PCKate.com is up.

It's Official: Bush Approval Below 30

Just like his grades at Yale and Harvard. From Washington Wire:

President Bush’s job-approval rating has fallen to its lowest mark of his presidency, according to a new Harris Interactive poll. Of 1,003 U.S. adults surveyed in a telephone poll, 29% think Mr. Bush is doing an “excellent or pretty good” job as president, down from 35% in April and significantly lower than 43% in January. Approval ratings for Congress overall also sank, and now stand at 18%.

Roughly one-quarter of U.S. adults say “things in the country are going in the right direction,” while 69% say “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.” This has been the trend since January, when 33% said the nation was heading in the right direction. Iraq remains a key concern for the general public, as 28% of Americans said they consider Iraq to be one of the top two most important issues the government should address, up from 23% in April. The immigration debate also prompted 16% of Americans to consider it a top issue, down from 19% last month, but still sharply higher from 4% in March.

The Harris poll comes two days after a downbeat assessement of Bush in a New York Times/CBS News poll. The Times, in analyzing the results, said “Americans have a bleaker view of the country’s direction than at any time in more than two decades.”

Jack Cafferty on the President's "Oh So Legal" Phone Database

Brought to us by the fine folks at Crooks and Liars:

Cafferty: We all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cause he might be all that stands between us and a full blown dictatorship in this country. He's vowed to question these phone company executives about volunteering to provide the government with my telephone records, and yours, and tens of millions of other Americans.

Shortly after 9/11, AT7T, Verizon, and BellSouth began providing the super-secret NSA with information on phone calls of millions of our citizens, all part of the War on Terror, President Bush says. Why don't you go find Osama bin Laden, and seal the country's borders, and start inspecting the containers that come into our ports?

The President rushed out this morning in the wake of this front page story in USA Today and declared the government is doing nothing wrong, and all this is just fine. Is it? Is it legal? Then why did the Justice Department suddenly drop its investigation of the warrantless spying on citizens because the NSA said Justice Department lawyers didn't have the necessary security clearance to do the investigation. Read that sentence again. A secret government agency has told our Justice Department that it's not allowed to investigate it. And the Justice Department just says ok and drops the whole thing. We're in some serious trouble, boys and girls"

Is it Too Much to Ask the Vice President?

Is it really too much to ask considering the huge salary paid to Dick Cheney that he:

a) not shoot anyone else, and
b) fucking stay awake?

Why is Afghanistan Teeming with Taliban?

Mr. Bush keeps claiming credit for defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan... so why and how have the Taliban taken control of the country (again? still?)?

Press Already Getting a "Snow Job" From New White House Press Secretary

Tony Snow also called a press conference for 9:30 AM today and started it before 9:20.

From Ed&Pub:

In his first week in the job, new White House Press Secretary Tony Snow is already having issues with CBS News, and slamming The New York Times and USA Today.

Snow has fired off several emails to reporters. One rapped the Times for continuing to “ignore America’s economic progress,” while another hit USA Today for a “misleading Medicare story.” He also knocked CBS News on Wednesday for Jim Axelrod’s piece on seniors having problems with the Bush drug plan. Axelrod responded today.

White House sources say that Snow aims to counter criticism of the administration in an aggressive manner. He has yet to hold his first press briefing, however. Among many charges leveled at Axelrod, Snow declared that “CBS News misleadingly reports that only 8 million seniors have signed up for Medicare prescription drug coverage. But 37 million seniors have coverage.”

But Axelord replied today: "Very simply, the White House is cutting and pasting to make a point, something they accuse their critics of doing constantly."

Real ID Ban Dead OR How the "Live Free or Die" State Lost its Balls to Bushie Corporate America

From the Concord Monitor (and man, am I sad to report it):

State lawmakers yesterday ended a nationally watched attempt to keep New Hampshire from participating in stricter federal drivers' licensing rules. As a result, New Hampshire will likely become a testing ground for the new program, known as Real ID, which requires states to verify drivers' birth certificates, addresses and immigration status and to enter that information into a shared database.

Congress designed the system last year to reduce illegal immigration and deter terrorists, but opponents believe it's an invasion of privacy and the first step towards a national identification card.

After a complicated series of votes and hours of debate, lawmakers rejected two versions of a bill that would have barred New Hampshire from participating in Real ID. Lawmakers have been at odds for weeks over the plan: The Senate wanted to accept a $3 million federal grant in exchange for trying out the program. The House, meanwhile, was gaining national attention for trying to pass a law against it.

Yesterday, the Senate won, but victory came at a cost: The demise of a bill that would have granted the health commissioner broad emergency powers in the event of a pandemic.

Have Voters Lost Their Voice?

That's the stirring question posed by this piece at US News and World Report. Go read.

Color Me Pissed

I can believe the Bushies would fake the balls to mount this massive, illegal domestic phone call database.

What I can't believe is that nearly half of Americans polled think it's "probably alright". Are these the same fools who keep insisting that, "Well, if you haven't done anything wrong, you probably don't have anything to worry about, do you?"

The problem here is that when you have the Bushies cherry grabbing information, you're inviting them to FIND things you're doing wrong - the wrong books you read, the wrong people (like Dem congressmen) you speak with. Remember, this crew has also made it possible to go into your home and sneak around without notifying you until some later time and then not tell you why, to arrest you and hold you without ever telling you - or anyone else for that matter - what you did wrong, and to keep your imprisonment a secret.

Register Your Feelings About Feds Phone Database

New poll up at top right.

Err... that's right ->>>>>

Thanks to Peter of Pibbshow, Too

Peter of Pibbshow also supplied the lyrics for the rendition of "I am the eggman" by Paul Hipp.


"I Am the Decider"

Ask, and ye shall receive! Thank you "Andrew J": This morning, just as I asked yesterday here, I got the place to find information about the version of "I am the Walrus" I heard yesterday on WGDR (which played protest songs almost ALL day - the beauty of community as opposed to corporate radio - and during their fund-raising period, too, because they KNOW what people want). Here, copied from Huffington Post, for your enjoyment (and thanks again, RJ):

I'M THE DECIDER(Koo-Koo-Ka-Choo)

I am me and Rummy's he, Iraq is free and we are all together
See the world run when Dick shoots his gun, see how I lie
I'm Lying...
Sitting on my own brain, waiting for the end of days

Corporation profits, Bloody oil money
I'm above the law and I'll decide what's right or wrong
I am the egg head, I'm the Commander, I'm the Decider

Baghdad city policeman sitting pretty little targets in a row

See how they die when the shrapnel flies see mothers cry
I'm Lying...I'm Ly-ing...I'm Lying...I'm Ly-ing
Yellow cake uranium, imaginary WMD's

Declassifying facts, exposing secret agents
Tax cuts for the wealthy leaving all the poor behind
Sitting in the White house garden talking to the Lord

My thoughts would be busy busy hatching If I only had a brain
By Paul Hipp
Contact: decider.koo.koo.ka.choo@gmail.com
MySpace: Paul Hipp
Also, check out Fur Is Dead


More on ForceFed Bush Dynasty

Ed and Pub offers more on Dubya's "great" thoughts on extending the Bush tragedy traffic accident miasma dynasty to Jeb.

Senate Less Worried About Out-of-World Gas Prices

and far more concerned with a Spanish version of the American anthem. Go figure.

Bush and Rice Keep Forging Toward War with Iran

Story here.

Bush: Incredibly Low Standards for Himself

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo brings us this glimpse at what a low ceiling for achievement our president sets for himself:

Reuters: "President Bush told a German newspaper his best moment in more than five years in office was catching a big perch in his own lake."

bin Laden still at large; fish rolled up in rod-n-reel sting op.
Remember that when you get a $40 tax break while millionaires get a $46,000 tax break.

Is Karl Rove Pushing Through New Bush-Loyal Judges to Keep Rove From Prison Time?

That's what some, including Buzzflash, think based on this story on The Hill.

Bloomberg: Bush and Republicans Nix Middle Class Tax Cuts to Focus on Tax Breaks for the Rich

Story here and it's d-i-s-g-u-s-t-i-n-g!

Another 8 Years of Bush?

Bush - as in Dubya - came out the last few days to back his fat brother, Jeb, as a good replacement for him in the White House in 2008.

How loud can you say NO?

Two Important Pieces on Bush, NSA, Wiretapping, and the CIA

First, this from the 5/9 LA Times:

But Hayden, who for six years was director of the National Security Agency, is also associated with almost every intelligence issue that has become a problem for the administration — including the failure to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks, misjudgments about weapons programs in Iraq, and eavesdropping on U.S. residents without court warrants.

Nonetheless, the White House apparently is willing to revive the eavesdropping debate to highlight national security issues, which have been a political plus for the administration.

Some lawmakers also have expressed concern about putting a military officer in charge of a civilian agency at a time when the Defense Department is seen as expanding its involvement in spying operations and increasingly encroaching on the CIA's turf, prompting fears that the agency will be "gobbled up" by the Pentagon.

Bush sought to brush back congressional critics, citing Hayden's extensive experience in a series of national security assignments, and declaring him "the right man to lead the CIA at this critical moment in our nation's history."
And this from the Boston Globe entitled "Bush's CIA Takeover", also from 5/9, which states:
Some have voiced concern about Hayden's military background. But this should be less of a hindrance than his cavalier disregard for the law. Other military officers have headed the CIA without compromising that civilian agency's independence from the Pentagon.

Hayden has demonstrated his own readiness to stand up to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the most telling way. In 2004, when Congress was creating the Office of National Intelligence to oversee 16 intelligence agencies, Hayden testified that the branch of military intelligence he led, the NSA, should report to the new director of national intelligence rather than the Defense Department. In the give-no-quarter world of Washington power struggles, this amounted to a secessionist rebellion against the secretary of defense by the chief of an agency that commands a major share of the intelligence budget. And Rumsfeld made his displeasure known to Hayden.

Even if they are satisfied that Hayden will not make the CIA just one more branch of a Pentagon that controls 80 percent of the intelligence budget, senators do need to come down hard on his responsibility for wiretapping Americans without obtaining a warrant from a judge on the special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court. Those judges hardly ever refuse to issue such a warrant, and if intelligence officials feel they must intercept a phone conversation or an e-mail immediately, under the law they may do so -- provided only that they obtain a warrant after 72 hours.

It is not enough for Hayden to say, as he has in the past, that the NSA's warrantless taps on Americans are not the result of indiscriminate data-mining but are strictly ''targeted and focused" on terrorist suspects. He must explain why the 72-hour grace period is not sufficient, why he thought the NSA could simply ignore the law, and why he did not ask Bush to ask Congress to change the law if it hindered efforts to prevent another Sept. 11.

Do You Know?

I heard a marvelous political parody of "I am the Walrus" done by someone called Paul Hip (spelling as I heard it) which must be brand new because it included the lyrics (of Bush) singing "I am the decider".

If anyone knows this or can point me to where I can hear the entire thing, I'd really appreciate a note here in comments or in email.

Thank you!

Save the Internet - Preserve Net Neutrality

Here - get informed, get involved, get moving.

From the site:

Congress is pushing a law that would abandon the Internet's First Amendment -- a principle called Network Neutrality that prevents companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from deciding which Web sites work best for you -- based on what site pays them the most. Your local library shouldn’t have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to have its Web site open quickly on your computer.

Net Neutrality allows everyone to compete on a level playing field and is the reason that the Internet is a force for economic innovation, civic participation and free speech. If the public doesn't speak up now, Congress will cave to a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign by telephone and cable companies that want to decide what you do, where you go, and what you watch online.

This isn’t just speculation -- we've already seen what happens elsewhere when the Internet's gatekeepers get too much control. Last year, Telus -- Canada's version of AT&T -- blocked their Internet customers from visiting a Web site sympathetic to workers with whom the company was having a labor dispute. And Madison River, a North Carolina ISP, blocked

Seeding the CIA Over to the Military

The NY Sun talks about what Hayden's nomination - and almost certain appointment - will mean to us all.

Where Your Political Campaign Tax Dollars Often Go

Salon has the scoop, here. It ain't pretty.

Say hello to

Robert Fisk - a real journalist in every sense of the word - whose collection of articles can be found here. Some audio, too.

Our Tax Dollars at Work Indeed

Agitprop suggests the following peachie-keen-o-rino idea:

So maybe your political party has a Vice President who's polling lower than Goering and a recently-disgraced former CIA chief who's widely credited with finishing off a rather important agency (that'd be the CIA). Your president's at 31% approval and headed lower. Your House members are mired in scandal. What in effin' hell do you do?

Medals! Darth Cheney and Porter Goss used to be House members, right? Shit - Hastert, the Tyranosasurus of Turpitude, can give them big shiny medals! That'll make everything alright ... right?

Hmmm - O.K., maybe ... maybe we'll have Cheney land on the deck of an aircraft carrier, see, then ...


Paul Krugman: Whose Crazy Now?

Indeed, from Monday's Times:

But these examples, of course, aren't what people are usually referring to when they denounce crazy conspiracy theories. For the last few years, the term "conspiracy theory" has been used primarily to belittle critics of the Bush administration — in particular, anyone suggesting that the Bush administration used 9/11 as an excuse to fight an unrelated war in Iraq.

Now here's the thing: suppose that we didn't have abundant evidence that senior officials in the Bush administration wanted a war, cherry-picked intelligence to make a case for that war, and in some cases suppressed inconvenient evidence contradicting that case. Even so, it would be an abuse of the English language to call the claim that the administration misled us into war a conspiracy theory.

A conspiracy theory, says Wikipedia, "attempts to explain the cause of an event as a secret, and often deceptive, plot by a covert alliance." Claims that global warming is a hoax and that the liberal media are suppressing the good news from Iraq meet that definition. In each case, to accept the claim you have to believe that people working for many different organizations — scientists at universities and research facilities around the world, reporters for dozens of different news organizations — are secretly coordinating their actions.

But the administration officials who told us that Saddam had an active nuclear program and insinuated that he was responsible for 9/11 weren't part of a covert alliance; they all worked for President Bush. The claim that these officials hyped the case for war isn't a conspiracy theory; it's simply an assertion that people in a position of power abused that position. And that assertion only seems wildly implausible if you take it as axiomatic that Mr. Bush and those around him wouldn't do such a thing.

The truth is that many of the people who throw around terms like "loopy conspiracy theories" are lazy bullies who, as Zachary Roth put it on CJR Daily, The Columbia Journalism Review's Web site, want to "confer instant illegitimacy on any argument with which they disagree."

Instead of facing up to hard questions, they try to suggest that anyone who asks those questions is crazy.

Indeed, right-wing pundits have consistently questioned the sanity of Bush critics; "It looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again," said Charles Krauthammer, the Washington Post columnist, after Mr. Gore gave a perfectly sensible if hard-hitting speech. Even moderates have tended to dismiss the administration's harsh critics as victims of irrational Bush hatred.

Don't Like President Bush? Then Forget Your Government Contract!

How much more blatant and worse can the required brown-nosing of Bush to survive get? The Carpetbagger Report brings us the details behind a report I first heard on Keith Olbermann tonight:

I think it's probably fair to call on Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson to resign over this one.
    Jackson, a former president and CEO of the Dallas Housing Authority, was among the featured speakers at a forum sponsored by the Real Estate Executive Council, a national minority real estate consortium.

    After discussing the huge strides the agency has made in doing business with minority-owned companies, Jackson closed with a cautionary tale, relaying a conversation he had with a prospective advertising contractor.

    "He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years," Jackson said of the prospective contractor. "He made a heck of a proposal and was on the (General Services Administration) list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something … he said, 'I have a problem with your president.'

    "I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'I don't like President Bush.' I thought to myself, 'Brother, you have a disconnect — the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn't be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don't tell the secretary.'"
Here's the punch-line: Jackson rejected the contract, admittedly because he didn't like the guy's criticisms of the president. "He didn't get the contract," Jackson said. "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."

So, to summarize, the secretary of HUD admitted, in public, that he denied a qualified minority contractor funding because the contractor said he didn't like the president. In Jackson's mind, this is "logical."

This is probably illegal, and is definitely moronic. If some congressional Dems made an effort to follow up on this, it's the kind of incident that could force Jackson to resign.

GOP: More Big Tax Breaks for Wealthy

From tomorrow's Washington Post, a story that shows you that - yet again, during a time of deep deficit - the GOP is falling all over itself to give more and larger tax cuts to those who need it the least.

House and Senate Republican negotiators reached a final agreement yesterday on a five-year, nearly $70 billion tax package that would extend President Bush's deep cuts to tax rates on dividends and capital gains, while sparing about 15 million middle-income Americans from the alternative minimum tax.

Republican leaders hope to pass the agreement swiftly. House consideration is scheduled for tonight, with the Senate likely to send the measure to the White House for the president's signature by the end of the week. But the package remains controversial, with GOP leaders saying it is essential to sustain a strong economic recovery and Democrats and a few Republicans saying the cuts would mainly benefit the wealthy and add to the long-term deficit.

"Keeping taxes low helps Americans find and keep work, supports families and communities with good job bases, and makes America a great place to do business for companies both here at home and those overseas looking for a place to invest," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said in a statement.

But with the budget deficit still expected to exceed $300 billion this year, despite a strong economy, opponents say the government cannot afford to add $70 billion more over the next five years.

US "Boasts" 2nd Highest Newborn Infant Death Rate in Modern World

From Thought Mechanics (say hello!), comes this:

From CNN: An estimated 2 million babies die within their first 24 hours each year worldwide and the United States has the second worst newborn mortality rate in the developed world, according to a new report. American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in
There's one to be proud about. Sheesh!

Catch It: Times Magazine's Report on the War Against Contraception

If you haven't already caught it, you really, really should.

Why it Matters that the CIA Would Be Taken Over By the Military: It Destroys Key Check and Balance

The NY Times today offers an important perspective on why it matters that a life-long military man would take over the CIA; like the agency or not, the CIA has often acted as a check and balance between the growing power of the military over American life and that throughout the world.

Read it!

Ray McGovern: My Meeting with Rumsfeld

The 27-year-old CIA veteran who dared speak the truth to Rumsfeld - who wouldn't know the truth it was launched at him inside a dead Moby Dick - last week in Atlanta writes here at Tom Paine.

Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher Asks: Why Do Stars and Mere Mortals Go Where Reporters Fear to Be Read?

From Friday's E&P Column by Greg Mitchell:

For centuries, The Press acted as surrogate for The People. Now, at least in regard to the Iraq war, the reverse often seems to be true.

While reporters and commentators continue to tiptoe around the question of whether Bush administration officials, right up to the president, deliberately misled the nation into the war, average and not-so-average citizens have raised the charge of “lies” and caused a stir usually reserved for reporters. Is America, or just my own head, about to explode over Iraq?

The latest example of citizen journalism occurred Thursday, with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern’s persistent questioning of Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld at a forum in Atlanta. CNN’s Anderson Cooper, interviewing McGovern later, told him he had gone where most reporters had failed to tread. Whether Anderson meant this as self-criticism was impossible to tell.

This comes on the heels of satirist Stephen Colbert’s performance at the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday -- publicized primarily by Web sites and blogs -- and this week’s streaming-on-line debut of Neil Young’s “Living with War” album, which proposes impeaching the president “for lying” (and “for spying”). It has already earned more than a million Internet listeners, and on Saturday reached #3 in sales at Amazon. "Don't need no more lies," Young sings repeatedly in one song.

McGovern, Colbert and Young are hardly grassroots Americans, but we also have the recent example of Harry Taylor, who on April 6 rose at a town meeting in Charlotte, N.C. and asked the president about his domestic spying program, among other things, saying he was ”ashamed” of the nation’s leader.

But this “people pressure” has been the story of the war at home all along, at least in personal probing of the engineers of the disaster. It was a U.S. soldier, after all, whose questioning of Rumsfeld in 2004 about the lack of adequate armor for personnel and vehicles in Iraq brought that issue to national attention.

Even on the editorial pages, it has required at virtually every newspaper an outside contributor to propose a radical change in direction on Iraq. Witness the op-ed on Thursday in the Los Angeles Times by retired Gen. William E. Odom, calling for the start of an American withdrawal. For more than a day it was the most e-mailed story at the paper’s Web site—just as The New York Times’ belated story on Colbert was #1 at that site for 24 hours or more.

Jeff Danziger, Genius, on Sudan, Darfur, Food Aid

From Vermonter/New York cartoonist, Jeff Danziger.

Ten Year Old Girl Barred from Singing a Song Against Mr. Bush

From the Sun-Sentinel on Friday:

A 10-year-old Coral Springs girl won't be allowed to sing a controversial President Bush-bashing ballad at her school talent show after her principal deemed it inappropriate and too political.

The song, Dear Mr. President, performed and co-written by the singer Pink, criticizes the president for the war in Iraq and other policies, including his stance on gay rights.

Parent Nancy Shoul says her daughter Molly should be lauded for choosing lyrics that are full of substance rather than pop music fluff. She said the principal's ban sends a bad message and violates her daughter's right to free speech.
Nice. Really nice.

If the girl were singing a song lauding Mr. Bush, you can damned well be sure she'd be allowed to sing it.

Nods to Buzzflash for the link to the story.

States Balk at Measures Toward Feds' "Real ID" Push

Also from today's Times:

Reacting to the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress passed the Real ID law last year, intending to make it tougher for terrorists to obtain driver's licenses and for people without proper identification to board planes or enter federal buildings.

But with the deadline for setting up the law two years away, states are frustrated.

They say the law — which requires states to use sources like birth certificates and national immigration databases to verify that people applying for or renewing driver's licenses are American citizens or legal residents — will be too expensive and difficult to put in place by the May 2008 deadline. Another issue is the privacy impact of the requirement that states share, through databases, the personal information needed for a driver's license.

Concerns are so great that last week, the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators issued a report saying that the states have not been given the time or money to comply with the law and that they need at least another eight years.

Two states have considered resolutions calling for the law to be repealed, the New York City Council passed a resolution opposing it and New Hampshire is considering opting out entirely.
Bear in mind that until Bush really pushed and pissed these people off, New Hampshire, for all its "live free or die" motto, was solidly Republican Bush country, the mirror opposite of more liberal, non-party voting Vermont.

Killings of Aid Workers in Iraq Tied to Missing Funds

From today's NY Times:

The killing of Fern Holland, a human rights worker from Oklahoma, remains unsolved and as mysterious as it was when her body was found riddled with bullets on a desolate stretch of road near one of Iraq's southern holy cities in March 2004.

Now, federal investigators are grappling with a second mystery: what happened to hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash issued by American authorities to Ms. Holland and Robert J. Zangas, a press officer who died in the same attack near Karbala, in the days before their deaths?

Financial records from the American-run compound in Hilla, the south-central Iraqi city where Ms. Holland and Mr. Zangas were based, have established that much or all of that money — issued for things like programs to train Iraqis in democratic governance and construction of women's rights centers that Ms. Holland was setting up — was either missing or improperly accounted for after their deaths.

American investigators are trying to determine whether that money was stolen as part of the web of bribery, kickbacks, theft and conspiracy that they have laid out in a series of indictments and court papers describing corruption by American officials in Hilla in 2003 and 2004, according to officials involved in the inquiry. That corruption case, centered on reconstruction efforts, has led to four arrests, and more are expected.

The killings of Ms. Holland, a 33-year-old lawyer and dogged advocate of women's rights, and Mr. Zangas, 44, a former Marine lieutenant colonel from Pittsburgh, received wide attention at the time in part because they had been the first civilians of the American occupation government, called the Coalition Provisional Authority, to die in Iraq.

Parents of Autism Teens Beware!

Apparently Mr. Rumsfeld is so desperate for bodies in Iraq and elsewhere that he is now more than willing to recruit autistic youth into this desperate man's Army.

North Korea Negotiations Went Bust Because of Bush

That's what the former US negotiator to North Korea says in a US News and World Report piece. Makes sense to me.


For Those Who Have Not Yet Caught Stephen Colbert at the WH Correspondents Dinner...

CSPAN has made the video available to Google...

so go get goo-goo-google-ly eyes!

Karl Rove: A Few Questions

Would anyone care to explain to me how Karl Rove no longer works on White House policy management and is strictly working on GOP-only material for the 2006 elections YET:

  • still has his top security clearance
  • still gets to ride everywhere on Air Force One
  • apparently still gets paid by the taxpayers
  • still attends White House policy meetings and press conferences
  • still has a White House office

None of those things should occur with his GOP-only job.

Blair: No More Cool Brittania Tony to Kick Around?

That's the story: Blair will be gone by next year (although some say he'll be out before Christmas).

Bush Makes History, But Not in a Good Way

From Chris at MyDD:

Gallup has a terrible new poll for Bush: 31% approve, 65% disapprove.

Since the main benefit of the Gallup poll are its trendlines stretching back more than sixty years, here are some facts about this poll in historical perspective:

It is now reasonable to start talking about Bush in the 20's, and Bush breaking the all-time record for job disapproval.

The Hartford Courant: Liberal Bloggers Unite to Dump Joe

The Joe in question is Mr. Joementum, aka Lucky Lieberman or Mr. Bush's favoritest Democrat after Zell from Hell Miller.

The Rare Useful, Relevant John Tierney Column

Who'd a thunk it?

But John Tierney asks a useful question in light of the Rush Limbaugh escape-from-serious-repercussions from his doctor/drug shopping situation: what about those people who DO suffer from major chronic pain, who need large amounts of painkillers, and who get in real shit when all they try to do is get relief.

From Tierney's May 6th Times column, entitled "A Taste of His Medicine" , but a snippet:

Now that Rush Limbaugh has managed to keep himself out of prison, the punishment he once advocated for drug abusers, let me suggest a new cause for him: speaking out for people who can handle their OxyContin.

Like Limbaugh, Richard Paey suffers from back pain, which in his case is so severe that he's confined to a wheelchair. Also like Limbaugh, he was accused of illegally obtaining large quantities of painkillers. Although there was no evidence that either man sold drugs illegally, the authorities in Florida zealously pursued each of them for years.

Unlike Limbaugh, Paey went to prison. Now 47 years old, he's serving the third year of a 25-year term. His wife told me that when he heard how Limbaugh settled his case last week — by agreeing to pay $30,000 and submit to drug tests — Paey offered a simple explanation: "The wealthy and influential go to rehab, while the poor and powerless go to prison."

He has a point, although I don't think that's the crucial distinction between the cases. Paey stood up for his belief that patients in pain should be able to get the medicine they need. Limbaugh so far hasn't stood up for any consistent principle except his right to stay out of jail.

He has portrayed himself as the victim of a politically opportunistic prosecutor determined to bag a high-profile trophy, which is probably true. But that's standard operating procedure in the drug war supported by Limbaugh and his fellow conservatives.

Drug agents and prosecutors are desperate for headlines because they have so little else to show for their work. The drug war costs $35 billion per year and has yet to demonstrate any clear long-term benefits — precisely the kind of government boondoggle that conservatives like Limbaugh ought to view skeptically.

Yet conservatives go on giving more money and more power to the drug cops. When critics complained about threats to civil liberties in the Patriot Act, President Bush defended it by noting that the government was already using some of these powers against drug dealers. Why worry about snooping on foreign terrorists when we've already been doing it to Americans?

Limbaugh objected when prosecutors, unable to come up with enough evidence against him, demanded to be allowed to go through his medical records in the hope of finding something.
He managed to stop them in court, but other defendants can't afford long legal battles to protect their privacy.

Drug agents and prosecutors go on fishing expeditions to seize doctors' records and force pharmacists to divulge what they're selling to whom. With the help of new federal funds, states are compiling databases of the prescriptions being filled at pharmacies. Once their trolling finds something they deem suspicious, the authorities can threaten doctors, pharmacists and patients with financially crippling investigations and long jail sentences unless they cooperate by testifying against others or copping a plea.

Paey was the rare patient who refused to turn on his doctor or plead guilty to a problem he didn't have. He insisted that he'd been taking large quantities of painkillers because he needed them. He wanted to protect his own right to keep taking them, and others' rights as well.

You Can Say That Again: US Economic Health in the Eye of the Beholder

From AP, and bear in mind that NO administration has fudged unemployment and economic figures like the Bushies who disregard anything that isn't favorable, nor does it ever take into account how the U.S. dollar is in freefall and falling faster than ever before:

America's economy is strong. Or it's in trouble. It just depends on who's talking. Trying to retool his message and right his listing presidency, President is speaking out more frequently and forcefully on the economy.

It's in good shape right now, his advisers say, and they want him to take more credit for it.

The latest reports show healthy increases in economic growth, job creation, home ownership, retail sales and consumer spending. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at a six-year high.

"This economy is powerful, productive and prosperous and we intend to keep it that way," Bush says.

Across town, Democrats are peddling a different message: Soaring gasoline and health care costs are burdening ordinary people; mortgage costs and credit card rates are on the rise; jobs are threatened by outsourcing.

As for those tax cuts treasured by Bush, Democrats argue they have benefited mainly the wealthy.

"There's no sharing in the prosperity that the president likes to herald," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said.
Friday's unemployment report, showing the jobless rate holding steady at 4.7 percent with a lower-than-expected job-creation rate of 138,000 in April, was seized by both sides to buttress their great-economy/troubled-economy arguments.

The Times Blasts Bush's "Funny Money" Budgeting in Iraq

From today's Times OpEd page:

President Bush is trying to score unearned points for fiscal rectitude by railing against the Senate's outsize $109 billion supplemental spending package, which includes money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as hurricane relief. But the real scandal is Mr. Bush's own preference for financing much of the cost of the Iraq war outside the normal budget process. That is convenient for the administration, which does not have to count the money when it is pretending to balance the budget. But Iraq is not some kind of unexpected emergency, like Hurricane Katrina. It is a highly predictable cost, now amounting to about $100 billion a year, or just under 20 percent of total military spending.

Moving the war's financing off budget is no mere technical distinction. For one thing, it subjects the military's spending requests to less careful Congressional committee scrutiny than they would receive during the usual budget process. More important, this fiscal sleight of hand makes it that much easier for the Pentagon to duck the hard choices it desperately needs to be making between optional and costly futuristic weapons and pressing real-world needs.

The Pentagon's latest $460 billion budget request reflects exactly the kinds of distortions that gimmicky cost-shifting produces. There is no serious pressure to economize to pay for those uncounted war costs. So the budget barrels ahead with unrealistic long-term spending projects that the services and the nation will ultimately be unable to afford, piling on stealth destroyers and air combat fighters designed for the cold war while soldiers go short of armor and adequate reinforcements in Iraq.

Making matters worse, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld shunted aside all pleas to expand the size of America's weary and badly overstrained ground forces to preserve even more dollars for wasteful weapons spending.

Congress would gladly vote the Pentagon every cent it needs to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan and rebuild its ground forces so that they are available for other military emergencies. But with so much of the war off budget, as it were, Congress is instead being asked to approve one of the biggest military budgets in American history for projects having little to do with current fighting.
The regular defense budget, at least, goes through protracted review by specialized authorization and appropriation committees that have some familiarity with military operations. That does not prevent a lot of pork being included. But the process is far more considered and transparent than the circuses that govern supplemental spending.

The Bush administration has not done a very good job of talking straight to the American people about Iraq. If it wants to start winning back some of its squandered credibility, honest budgeting would be one good place to start.

Bush Nominates Michael - "What Probable Cause Clause in the 4th Amendment?" Hayden

As predicted - because if Mr. Bush cannot appoint the worst possible candidate, what's the point in appointing anyone at all? - the president has nominated Michael Heyden of the NSA to fill the swiftly vacated seat of Porter Goss as head of the CIA. But this nod is still drawing fire from Republicans at least as loudly as Democrats.

Karl Rove Dancing the Limbo for Not Much Longer

From today's Washington Post which leaves me with the sad feeling Karl Rove - along with all of his chins - will walk away scot-free:

Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald is wrapping up his investigation into White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove's role in the CIA leak case by weighing this central question:

Did Rove, who was deeply involved in defending President Bush's use of prewar intelligence about Iraq, lie about a key conversation with a reporter that was aimed at rebutting a tough White House critic?

Fitzgerald, according to sources close to the case, is reviewing testimony from Rove's five appearances before the grand jury. Bush's top political strategist has argued that he never intentionally misled the grand jury about his role in leaking information about undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame to Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in July 2003. Rove testified that he simply forgot about the conversation when he failed to disclose it to Fitzgerald in his earlier testimony.

Fitzgerald is weighing Rove's foggy-memory defense against evidence he has acquired over nearly 2 1/2 years that shows Rove was very involved in White House efforts to beat back allegations that Bush twisted U.S. intelligence to justify the Iraq war, according to sources involved in the case.

More Than 80 Dead in 24 Hours in Iraq

All civilians, many in car bombings but many others found hog-tied, tortured, and then executed.

Bush should be very proud of what he's wrought.

Happy Monday, Boys and Goils

Monday. Eeek.

Uh... have fun. Say a wish on a falling star for both of us, hokay?


And Now, for Something Completely Different: This Period of Bush's Reign Potentially the Most Dangerous

Here's the flipside of those who say the Bushies have entered a period of irrelevance, from Op Ed News:

If it's true that the next presidential election has already begun, then it's also true that the end of the Bush regime is unfolding as well. I should be feeling some satisfaction in that, and, I will, when it's over.

This could be the most dangerous period of Bush's reign. The carefully layered walls of Bush's bubble are disintegrating as the outer layers of purchased politicos are beginning to peel away, revealing the core ideologues of the cabal. Long gone are wistful architects of the new, bloody American imperialism like Wolfowitz and Perle. As they receded, loyalists like Rice, Hadley, Gordon England, etc. advanced up the chain they forged with their military industrial alliances into catbird seats, lording over our defense budgets, plotting out their imperious ambitions with no fear in their fiefdom.

Stepping out from behind the curtain into the positions of power are faces of past bloody mis-adventures like Negroponte, and engineers of the new American fascism, like Gen. Hayden, whose tenure is marked by the admission of the treasonous act of spying on Americans he shared with the president who directed him there.

This bunch's retreat from their privileged bunkers at the end of Bush's term will be marred by more than misplaced furniture and missing typewriter keys. They are neck-deep in two occupations (both with active, violent resistance), complete with over a thousand prisoners, most held without charges, and many subject to torture which continues even in the wake of the revelations at Abu Ghraib; they are actively engaged in another similar face down of another sovereign nation, Iran, threatening them with preemptive war without any evidence of any threat, direct or otherwise; and our nation is being held hostage to outrageous prices for gas and oil, fueled in a great part by the very militarism that Bush's father promised in the first Gulf war would secure the flow of oil in the Persian Gulf.

Paul Krugman: Our Sick Society

For those who missed it, also reprinted from the Progressive American:

Is being an American bad for your health? That's the apparent implication of a study just published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

It's not news that something is very wrong with the state of America's health. International comparisons show that the United States has achieved a sort of inverse miracle: we spend much more per person on health care than any other nation, yet we have lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than Canada, Japan and most of Europe.

But it isn't clear exactly what causes this stunningly poor performance. How much of America's poor health is the result of our failure, unique among wealthy nations, to guarantee health insurance to all? How much is the result of racial and class divisions? How much is the result of other aspects of the American way of life?

The new study, "Disease and Disadvantage in the United States and in England," doesn't resolve all of these questions. Yet it offers strong evidence that there's something about American society that makes us sicker than we should be.

The authors of the study compared the prevalence of such diseases as diabetes and hypertension in Americans 55 to 64 years old with the prevalence of the same diseases in a comparable group in England. Comparing us with the English isn't a choice designed to highlight American problems: Britain spends only about 40 percent as much per person on health care as the United States, and its health care system is generally considered inferior to those of neighboring countries, especially France. Moreover, England isn't noted either for healthy eating or for a healthy lifestyle.

Nonetheless, the study concludes that "Americans are much sicker than the English." For example, middle-age Americans are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes as their English counterparts. That's a striking finding in itself.

What's even more striking is that being American seems to damage your health regardless of your race and social class.

Maureen Dowd: Poker, Hookers, and Spooks

It's a potboiler, complete with prostitutes, people named Foggo and even the president on a bicycle!

Reprinted from the Progressive American:

Yesterday, Porter Goss lost the job he never should have had in the first place. After John Negroponte gave Mr. Goss the ax, W. went biking in Beltsville, Md.

When spooks get spiked, W. spins the spokes.

The C.I.A. missed 9/11 and W.M.D., so you'd think President Bush would want a superstar in the job. Instead, he put in a Cheney lackey whose first move was to warn agency employees to get in line, that their job was to "support the administration and its policies." Mr. Goss's last move was to fire a top C.I.A. officer, Mary McCarthy, who was accused of, but denied, leaking the secret C.I.A. prisons story.

Mr. Goss got the job even though the 9/11 commissioners had declared that Congressional oversight of intelligence was "dysfunctional" at a time he ran the House intelligence panel.

He got the job even though he tried to help the vice president suffocate the 9/11 commission. At the C.I.A., he relied on so many cronies, he made Brownie look professional.

The benign but still disturbing explanation for his abrupt termination — given all the home videos that Qaeda terrorists are brazenly sending out — is that he and John "10 Fingers" Negroponte were fighting over access to W., like teenage girls over the prom king. (Wasn't Mr. Negroponte's position created to quell turf battles?)

Even conservatives found yesterday's chain of events suspicious. Bill Kristol said on Fox News,
"I think there were either serious disputes or some internal problem at the agency or some scandal conceivably involving an associate of Goss's."

The president is supposed to announce Mr. Goss's successor on Monday. It's clear that the White House is again making policy on the fly.

With all these loony threads, conspiracy theorists are having fun weaving dime-novel scenarios.

Is "United 93" Exploitive?

Well, I think on this point Frank Rich and I agree. People have been expounding that "this is not a film - it's HISTORY." But it's not. "Flight 93" is a film and the way it's been handled IS exploitive. The government has let us know very little about what happened on that flight (or really, any of the doomed flights on 9-11-01).

From Raw Story:

In his latest column set for Sunday's New York Times, Frank Rich, the former chief drama critic for the paper, slams the movie United 93 for exploiting tragedy and rewriting history, RAW STORY has found.

But Rich concedes that such exploitation is just "business as usual."

"This is America, for heaven's sake," Rich writes.

Also, Rich argues that, despite the movie's flaws, it isn't "too soon" for such a film to be released to the theaters, but, instead, "too late," since it had been preceded by two television movies and the message about the specific background of the hijackers from 9/11 has been "diluted" by the Bush Administration.

"Thanks to the administration's deliberate post-9/11 decision to make the enemy who attacked us interchangeable with the secular fascists of Iraq who did not, the original war on terrorism has been diluted in its execution and robbed of its support from the American public," Rich writes.

Excerpts from Rich's column entitled "Too soon? It's too late for United 93" from Sunday's Times:

Don't feel guilty if you, like most Americans, have not run or even walked to see "United 93."

The movie that has been almost unanimously acclaimed as a rite of patriotism second only to singing the national anthem in English is clinical to the point of absurdity: It reduces the doomed and brave Americans on board to nameless stick figures with less personality than the passengers in "Airport." Rather than deepening our knowledge of them or their heroism, the movie caps an hour of air-controller nail-biting with a tasteful re-enactment of the grisly end.

We also practice denial by manufacturing vicarious and symbolic victories at home to compensate for those we are not winning abroad. Two major liberties taken with the known facts in "United 93" -- sequences suggesting that passengers thrashed and possibly killed two of the hijackers and succeeded in entering the cockpit -- are highly cathartic but unsupported by the evidence.

In its way, the Moussaoui prosecution conducted its own Hollywood rewrite by exaggerating the stature of the only person to go to trial for crimes related to Sept. 11.

Some Good Points

Believe it or not, this leads into a discussion of geo-solar efforts, and it's well worth the read over at Theory of Power:

This is perhaps the scariest thing that I have seen in recent memory: “My Super Sweet 16” on cable network MTV. The reality show chronicles the 16th birthday parties of American teenagers. Even in the ‘80s, I’m not sure that people actually exclaimed “it’s supposed to be all about me!” the way one recent birthday-girl did on the show. This show, unwittingly but unerringly, documents the conspicuous-consumption attitude of today’s youth, facilitated by both pop-culture marketing and their credit-happy parents. One girl was actually picked up from her comparatively-dumpy suburban condo in a stretch Range Rover and dropped off at the red carpet to her $30,000 birthday party. We—and by that I mean humanity—are so screwed.

From my not-far-removed vantage point, this seems pretty pathetic. While conspicuous consumption may be de rigueur among the young and hip, it strikes me as falling short. If American youth—and their parents—really want to distinguish themselves, they should consider conspicuous simplicity. Elegance—not the elegance that has been spun by the media-marketing establishment, but the original notion of elegance: seemingly effortless beauty in form, proportion, or design

Polygamist on FBI's Most Wanted List?

Really? With all the creeps out there, this fellow really rates Most Wanted status?

Are the Bushies Now Irrelevant?

I dunno.. they still hurt and harm as much as ever. From Sunday's WaPo:

The recent White House shake-up was an attempt to jump-start the administration and boost President Bush's rock-bottom approval ratings, but have those efforts come too late to salvage the presidency? A prominent GOP pollster thinks that may be the case.

"This administration may be over," Lance Tarrance, a chief architect of the Republicans' 1960s and '70s Southern strategy, told a gathering of journalists and political wonks last week. "By and large, if you want to be tough about it, the relevancy of this administration on policy may be over."

A new poll by RT Strategies, the firm headed by Tarrance and Democratic pollster Thomas Riehle, shows that 59 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's job performance, while 36 percent approve -- a finding in line with other recent polls.

Tarrance said it would be extremely difficult for any president to bounce back this late in his administration and reassert influence on Capitol Hill when his approval rating barely exceeds his party's base support and half of all adults surveyed said they "strongly disapprove" of his performance. An overwhelming 73 percent of independents disapprove of Bush's performance, and two-thirds of those "strongly disapprove."

Did Bush Push Blair to Oust Jack Straw Because Straw Opposes Iran Strike?

From CBS News, which echoes what I've been reading in British papers this weekend:

Two London papers have speculated this weekend that complaints by President George W. Bush forced a British minister from his post because of his opposition to the use of nuclear force against Iran.

The Independent suggests that a phone call from the U.S. president to British Prime Minister Tony Blair led to the removal of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw Friday. The newspaper reports that friends of Straw believe Mr. Bush was extremely upset when Straw pronounced any use of nuclear weapons against Iran "nuts."

Both The Independent and the Guardian write that Straw's "fate was sealed" after a White House phone call to Blair.

Our Tax Dollars at Work: Military Propaganda Films Shown on United Airlines Flights

I dunno which is worse, United showing these propaganda films without labeling them as such to unsuspecting passengers OR having to sit through a Tom Cruise movie in flight. But I really hate that our tax dollars are used for this crap.

From the Chicago Tribune:

United Airlines has begun showing an in-flight video about military glamor jobs that was produced and funded by the Department of Defense--a fact passengers do not learn from watching it.

Sandwiched between NBC sitcoms and Discovery Channel previews, "Today's Military," as the 13-minute program is called, highlights five jobs that few members of the armed forces could point to as their own.

While hundreds of thousands of men and women serve overseas, many in dangerous places, the video only explicitly shows one soldier beyond U.S. borders: a Hawaii-based Army animal-care specialist doing humanitarian work in Thailand.
Do they think that people will hop up in the middle of the flight and ask for their nearest recruiter?

Bush: War on Terror is World War III (WWIII)

Oh yes, this kind of hyperbolic, extreme, careless talk really helps soooo much.

More Opposition to Michael Hayden with the CIA

This piece in Forbes bears out what I said earlier about Rumsfeld's lying about his defense department and intelligence, but it also ties into Hayden as CIA chief replacement for Porter Goss:

If Hayden were to get the nomination, military officers would run the major spy agencies in the United States, from the ultra-secret National Security Agency to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The Pentagon already controls more than 80 percent of the intelligence budget.

"You can't have the military control most of the major aspects of intelligence," said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The CIA "is a civilian agency and is meant to be a civilian agency," she said on ABC's "This Week."

Why Are Tax Dollars Going to Give Defense Contractor a Sweetheart Half-Billion Dollar "Loan"?

I'm flabbergasted - even when the Bushies keep outdoing themselves in amazing me (and not in a positive way). I saw this in a link at Buzzflash, then read the piece at the Boston Herald.

Here's a snippet:

The Senate’s offer of up to a $500 million loan to the nation’s third-largest defense contractor is just the latest smelly pork addition to a very bad bill. This unneeded favor is one more reason for President Bush to issue his first veto of what was supposed to be an emergency spending bill to fund military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and hurricane relief.

The contractor, Northrop Grumman Corp., operates shipyards in Mississippi and Louisiana that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. They are back at work on Navy contracts and the company is in court with its insurer over how much more, if any, it is owed for repair costs.

Under the provision adopted 52-47, with both parties split on the merits, Northrop Grumman would have to repay the Navy anything it wins from the insurer. The House earlier adopted a slightly different provision in its version of the bill, making $250 million available to all shipyards on the Gulf Coast.

The White House and the Navy both opposed the measure, which might have passed the Senate only because the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, to whom other senators always want to be able to turn for a pork-barrel favor, is from - you guessed it - Mississippi, Sen. Thad Cochran.

Bailing out the company in this way is a bad precedent. Business owners ought not be given the idea that they can count on the government, instead of carefully selected insurance, for disaster losses.

The president threatened a veto if the “emergency” spending bill exceeded $94 billion. As approved by the Senate (by a 71-21 vote) it stood at $109 billion. House Republican leaders are vowing to hold the line on spending. (Their earlier version of the bill was $17 billion less than the current Senate version.) The nation - and their own president - are depending on them.

And Bush - to preserve his own shaky credentials for fiscal prudence - should get that veto pen ready.

Chevron Memo: The Smoking Refinery?

Is the oil and gas industry deliberately mucking with refineries to see maximum profits?

Check the story at MSNBC:

A Chevron memo is raising suspicion that oil executives intentionally reduced refining capacity in an effort to boost profits.

The 1995 memo, obtained by Consumers Union, reads:

"If the U.S. petroleum industry doesn't reduce it's refining capacity, it will never see any substantial increase in refinery profits."

In the last 20 years, 18 of California's 32 refineries have shut down. The industry is now seeing record prices and profits at the pump.

On Friday, former oil and gas executive Joe Sparano spoke with KCRA 3 and made no apologies for continued rise in gas prices. In fact, he explained that prices are a direct result of driver demand far exceeding gas supply.

"You don't have to like me or believe me, that's everyone's right, but listen to the facts and you might feel different about what you're seeing at the pump," Sparano said. "I understand people's frustration. Geez, I can't imagine them telling me the inflation-adjusted price of gas was higher in 1981 during the Iranian hostage crisis than it is today. People don't want to hear that."

When asked when prices would come down and by how much, Sparano said he didn't know.
Sparano openly acknowledged that he is answering questions as part of a public relations campaign to educate and explain the high price of gas.

He also stressed that he is telling the truth when he said that oil companies are simply charging the price the market will pay and is not ruling out the possibility that gas could someday drop below $2 a gallon again.

NY Times Isn't Happy with Rummy Either

From today's OpEd page:

We've been waiting for well over two years for the Senate Intelligence Committee to finally hold the Bush administration accountable for the fairy tales it told about Saddam Hussein's weapons. Republican leaders keep saying it is a waste of time to find out whether President Bush and other top officials deliberately misled the world. But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's bizarre responses the other day to questions about that very issue were a timely reminder of why this investigation needs to be completed promptly, thoroughly and fairly.

Unfortunately, Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Senate panel, is running it in a way that makes it unlikely that anything useful will come of it.

It is bad enough that Mr. Rumsfeld and others did not tell Americans the full truth — to take the best-case situation — before the war. But they are still doing it. Just look at the profoundly twisted version of events that the defense secretary offered last week at a public event in Atlanta.

Ray McGovern, an analyst for 27 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, stood in the audience and asked why Mr. Rumsfeld lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The secretary shot back, "I did not lie." Then, even though no one asked about them, he said Colin Powell and Mr. Bush offered "their honest opinion" based on "weeks and weeks" of time with the C.I.A. "I'm not in the intelligence business," he said, adding, "It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there."

First, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Period. Second, neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Powell spent long weeks with the C.I.A., whose analysts were largely cut out of the decision making. And that was because, third, Mr. Rumsfeld was, and is, very much in the intelligence business.

The Defense Department controls most of the intelligence budget and is the biggest user of intelligence. Mr. Rumsfeld also set up his own intelligence agency within the Pentagon when the C.I.A. and the State Department refused to tell him what he wanted to hear about Iraq. It was that office's distortions that formed the basis for what the administration told Congress and the public.

In Atlanta, Mr. Rumsfeld denied ever saying flatly that there were dangerous weapons in Iraq.
Actually, he did, many times, even as late as March 30, 2003. On Sept. 27, 2002, Mr. Rumsfeld said there was "bulletproof" evidence of ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq, including that Iraq had trained Qaeda agents in chemical and biological warfare, and he repeated that myth in response to Mr. McGovern.

Which brings us back to the Senate committee. In 2004, Democratic members agreed to split the investigation of Iraq intelligence. The committee issued a report on how bad the information was, but put off until after the 2004 election the question of whether the administration deliberately hyped the evidence. Mr. Roberts tried to kill the investigation entirely, and after the Democrats forced him to proceed, he set rules that seem a lot like the recipe for a whitewash.

The investigation, known as Phase 2, is divided into five parts: Did officials' public statements reflect the actual intelligence? Why did the government fail to anticipate the postwar disaster in Iraq? Were there actually any W.M.D. in Iraq? Was the Pentagon's mini-C.I.A. a proper and legal operation? And did any of the disinformation provided by the Iraqi exile leader Ahmad Chalabi get into any "intelligence product"?

Mr. Roberts has so gummed up the first part of the investigation that it is going to take forever to complete and is unlikely to be of much clarity. The only public statements that matter are those by Mr. Bush and his top aides. But Mr. Roberts included any statement, by any public official, including members of Congress, going back to 1991.

More on Goss' Resignation, Hayden's Nomination by Bush, and the CIA

Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice offers a long and thoughtful piece on the subject here.

Another Rumsfeld Lie: "I'm Not Involved in Intelligence"

OK, an argument can be made that anyone involved in the Bushie Administration is not exactly involved with intelligence ::snark:: but let me call your attention to one of the comments tendered by Department of Defense Dark Lord Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last week, something to the effect of: "Don't ask me about intelligence gathering because I'm not involved with Intelligence."

This is one huge lie. Despite all the organizations we have that separately conduct intelligence operations, the Defense Department conducts more intelligence gathering and analysis and spends more money on such than all the other groups combined. Rumsfeld purposely increased the DoD's share of intelligence gathering, using - as it is always used as an excuse for nefarious nut stuff - 9/11 as his excuse for needing to do so.

Michael Hayden: A Bad Choice for CIA Chief on So Many Different Levels

Why wouldn't George Bush decide that Michael Hayden, the man who pushed through warrant-less wiretaps, the great friend to Duck! It's Dick! Cheney, who purposely mistakes the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as CIA Chief?

He's such a bad choice, even several ranking GOP members have been jumping up and down and turning progressive state blue over this choice.

Read what Time has to say about him here.

Then read the exchange that first scared the hell out of me about Hayden a few months ago where he indicates the NSA does NOT follow the U.S. Constitution at Editor and Publisher, snippet here:

Gen. Michael Hayden, expected to be named new director of the CIA, replacing Porter Goss as early as Monday, displayed a shaky awareness of the Fourth Amendment in an appearance at the National Press Club in Washingnon, D.C., on January 23, E&P reported at the time.

Hayden, the former national director of the National Security Agency, was much in the news at the time as a defender of the NSA's domestic spying program. Hayden, now principal deputy director of National Intelligence with the Office of National Intelligence, was NSA director when the NSA monitoring program began in 2001.

As the last journalist to get in a question at the Press Club, Jonathan Landay, a well-regarded investigative reporter for Knight Ridder, noted that Gen. Hayden repeatedly referred to the Fourth Amendment's search standard of "reasonableness" without mentioning that it also demands "probable cause." Hayden seemed to deny that the amendment included any such thing, or simply ignored it. He directly said "no" it did not include "probable cause."

This caused Landay to reply, "The legal standard is probable cause, General."

Founder of USA Today Speaks Tough to Bush and Those Who Support Him

This isn't the first time Al Neuharth, who started USA Today, has spoken up against the Bushies (who are in denial, he states) although it should be noted he seemed very Bush-friendly in the distant past. But Editor & Publisher brings us this which certainly won't get Al on the White House Christmas fruitcake list (or perhaps will, depending on how bad the fruitcake - and no, this isn't a sideways remark about Ken Mehlman's sexual orientation - is):

NEW YORK USA Today founder Al Neuharth, once known for his generally Republican views, appears to have seen enough of President Bush.

In his column today for USA Today, he once again hits the Iraq war (he is one of the few mainstream journalists to favor a quick withdrawal), then notes the presient's approval rating having plunged from 71% to 34% in the Gallup poll since 2003."How low can Bush's approval rating go? My hunch is it's at or near the bottom," he suggests. "That 34% represents mostly unshakeable far-right wingers. Like Bush, Vice President Cheney and company, they are in denial. As were the 24% in the polls who still approved of President Richard Nixon before he resigned in disgrace.

"What happened to the 37% who have switched from pro-Bush to anti-Bush? They finally realized they were suckered by Bush and his buddies back then about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction, his tie to terrorists and his threat to the USA."

Neuharth, a decorated war veteran, concludes: "President Abraham Lincoln was right when he said: 'You may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.'"

Have a Lot More to Post But Blogger's Snacking on My Posts

Sorry, folks, I've got at least a dozen more items to post from today, but Blogger is still consuming just about everything I publish so the rest will have to wait for tomorrow morning after Vermont Black Dog Breakfast Sunday (the one day a week my dog gets to eat human food).

Patrick Kennedy and the Media In Perspective

The last few days, almost all I've heard about is Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, son of Senator Ted Kennedy, and his car accident.

Newsworthy? Yeah. But it's wa-aa-aa-aa-aa-aa-y out of proportion to its importance. I mean, a Kennedy abusing drugs or alcohol or involved in an accident is about as rare as Jennifer Lopez getting engaged divorced, or a congressman getting special treatment.

Imagine, however, if the media spent anywhere near this amount of time on:

  • the Rumsfeld issue the other day where, when Rumsfeld was presented with the fact he had lied, they tried to make it sound unfortunate for the poor man that he was "heckled"
  • the Downing Street memo
  • Hookergate
  • exactly how much Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff corrupted the process
  • any of Bush, Cheney, or Rice's lies

And this is just a start.

Police Used More and More to Spy on Normal Americans Not Connected to Any Terrorist Activity

US News and World Report has a stunning, angering, and sobering piece on how local police departments are being used to conduct all types of surveillance on people you wouldn't think would need watching. Here's a snippet but go read the rest of the spyland stupidity masquerading as homeland (in)security).

In the Atlanta suburbs of DeKalb County, local officials wasted no time after the 9/11 attacks. The second-most-populous county in Georgia, the area is home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FBI's regional headquarters, and other potential terrorist targets. Within weeks of the attacks, officials there boasted that they had set up the nation's first local department of homeland security. Dozens of other communities followed, and, like them, DeKalb County put in for--and got--a series of generous federal counterterrorism grants. The county received nearly $12 million from Washington, using it to set up, among other things, a police intelligence unit.

The outfit stumbled in 2002, when two of its agents were assigned to follow around the county executive. Their job: to determine whether he was being tailed--not by al Qaeda but by a district attorney investigator looking into alleged misspending. A year later, one of its plainclothes agents was seen photographing a handful of vegan activists handing out antimeat leaflets in front of a HoneyBaked Ham store. Police arrested two of the vegans and demanded that they turn over notes, on which they'd written the license-plate number of an undercover car, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is now suing the county. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial neatly summed up the incident: "So now we know: Glazed hams are safe in DeKalb County."

Glazed hams aren't the only items that America's local cops are protecting from dubious threats. U.S. News has identified nearly a dozen cases in which city and county police, in the name of homeland security, have surveilled or harassed animal-rights and antiwar protesters, union activists, and even library patrons surfing the Web.

Unlike with Washington's warrantless domestic surveillance program, little attention has been focused on the role of state and local authorities in the war on terrorism.

A U.S.News inquiry found that federal officials have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into once discredited state and local police intelligence operations. Millions more have gone into building up regional law enforcement databases to unprecedented levels. In dozens of interviews, officials across the nation have stressed that the enhanced intelligence work is vital to the nation's security, but even its biggest boosters worry about a lack of training and standards. "This is going to be the challenge," says Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, "to ensure that while getting bin Laden we don't transgress over the law. We've been burned so badly in the past--we can't do that again."

So Much for the "I Just Want to Spend More Time with My Family" Excuse for Porter Goss

As reader Dudlee noted in Comments and Pat Buchanan said on MSNBC today, the resignation of Porter Goss from the CIA is now being tied to "Hookergate".

From the New York Daily News - the right newspaper for sleaze, trust me - comes this:

WASHINGTON - CIA Director Porter Goss abruptly resigned yesterday amid allegations that he and a top aide may have attended Watergate poker parties where bribes and prostitutes were provided to a corrupt congressman.

Kyle (Dusty) Foggo, the No. 3 official at the CIA, could soon be indicted in a widening FBI investigation of the parties thrown by defense contractor Brent Wilkes, named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the bribery conviction of former Rep. Randall (Duke) Cunningham, law enforcement sources said.

A CIA spokeswoman said Foggo went to the lavish weekly hospitality-suite parties at the Watergate and Westin Grand hotels but "just for poker."

Intelligence and law enforcement sources said solid evidence had yet to emerge that Goss also went to the parties, but Goss and Foggo share a fondness for poker and expensive cigars, and the FBI investigation was continuing.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA operative and a Bush administration critic, said Goss "had a relationship with Dusty and with Brent Wilkes that's now coming under greater scrutiny."
Johnson vouched for the integrity of Foggo and Goss but said, "Dusty was a big poker player, and it's my understanding that Porter Goss was also there \[at Wilkes' parties\] for poker. It's going to be guilt by association."