Secret Service Releases More Loobyist Jack Abramoff/White House Visits Details

OK, that hede shows very poor English. I MUST be an American. And when I truly butcher the language, I can be president just like Mr. Bush!

Anyway, from the wires:

The Secret Service on Friday revealed four more visits to the White House in 2001 by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, including one to see a domestic policy aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

The newly released records of Abramoff's access to the White House bring the total number of his known visits to seven.

One Abramoff White House visit, according to Secret Service logs, was on April 20, 2001, to see Cesar Conda, at the time Cheney's assistant for domestic policy.

Five days after the Conda meeting, one of Abramoff's former lobbying colleagues, Patrick Pizzella, was nominated by the president as assistant secretary of labor. The Secret Service logs do not state why Abramoff met with Conda.

One log entry indicates Abramoff visited the White House residence on Dec. 10, 2001, for two hours, as part of a large holiday party.

The Secret Service entry for Abramoff's name that day reads, "POTUS," "WH," "RESIDENCE," and lists the number of people present as 326, according to the documents. POTUS refers to the president of the United States.

The Secret Service material surfaced as a result of lawsuits by the conservative organization Judicial Watch and the Democratic National Committee. An earlier Secret Service search turned up just two Abramoff White House visits, and a further search turned up the additional contacts.

Judicial Watch said the public has a right to know "why an admitted felon had appointments with the Bush White House." The DNC said it will aggressively pursue additional questions about visits to the White House by Abramoff and his lobbying associates.

OR perhaps Abramoff was just there with "journalist" Jeff Gannon "servicing" Karl Rove's kinkier sexual appetites!

Calderon of Mexico: No to Wall Across Border to Keep Mexican Immigrants in Mexico

Well, there is something interesting to report out of Mexico's purported winner of the presidential election, conservative Calderon.

In making what may be an unusual break with the Bushies on the immigration debacle, he said it would make far more sense for the U.S. to help fund a major interstate roadway system within Mexico to allow Mexican workers to get more expediently to jobs within their own country than it would be to erect a massive U.S.-Mexico border wall. This I heard on either CNN or NBC tonight (sorry, not sure which and did not see the reference online tonight while looking for it).

On that point, I'd agree. The border wall makes zero sense.

Guess Who Else Says Guantanamo Should Be Shut Down?

Sorry, no... not dangerous lefties like Lieberman or Gore or Michael Moore.

It's Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, former Bush darling, former great lie perpetrator for justifying the Iraq attack, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs... we'll stop the formers there.

Here from the Atlantic:

"Guantanamo ought to be closed immediately," Powell said. He said the value of holding prisoners there was unclear, but the price we were paying around the world for doing so was obvious. He said we should not release the prisoners and dismissed the objection there was no other alternative. "We have ways of dealing with this population" that do not require Gitmo, he said.

Unlike the U.S. in 2000 and 2004, Mexico May Not Take Questionable Election Results Lying Down

More than 100,000 (some news outlets report considerably more while most say far less - 100,000 is cited by CNN and several others) angry Mexican residents appeared today at a single rally to demonstrate their ire over what many are calling a rigged presidential election in which the conservative Calderon has been declared the winner.

U.S. authorities told U.S. citizens visiting Mexico to avoid getting near the rally. The inference offered was that Mexicans might consider U.S.ers the enemy since American companies, like the controversial ChoicePoint, were involved in counting votes. However, I found myself wondering if the Bushies were afraid Americans might hear something that might make them question how their own elections are handled (and wouldn't that be a shame?).

The Mexican election story is generating a lot of attention, both in and out of the news media. Let me point you to just a few Web-based pieces.

THEBHC at Anything They Say (a blog that has done great coverage of this story throughout) is a good place to start. This post links back to today's (Saturday) oped in the New York Times; here's a snippet from the Greg Grandin piece there and I heartily agree that the U.S. should strongly support a full recount there:

But there is a way the Bush administration can help to set things on a different course. Although election officials say Mr. Calderón won the presidential vote, the United States should not rush to embrace him as the election's victor. The official tally gives Mr. Calderón a razor-thin lead, and there are credible reports of significant irregularities that could, at best, weaken the legitimacy of a Calderón presidency, and at worst, lead to escalating protests. The disputed votes include the 904,000 annulled ballots that come primarily from regions that went heavily for Mr. López Obrador, as well as discrepancies between the numbers handed in by polling stations and the actual ballots cast.

The best thing the United States can do now is to support the push for a recount and to refrain from calling on Mr. López Obrador to concede. Then, no matter who finally wins the election, the White House should renegotiate Nafta, allowing Mexico to set its own policy in support of its rural economy. If the Bush administration does otherwise, it might help begin yet another season of Mexican upheaval — just as the Aztecs might have predicted.
The L.A. Times notably uses language that sounds very similar to how the press behaved toward Al Gore regarding the Florida 2000 recount, like "deny Mr. Calderon his victory" (remember how the Bushies as well as Rehnquist and Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court used the same language to help Mr. Bush "win") like the popular vote of the people is something owned by an individual.

Greg Palast, who did some groundbreaking work on election fraud here in the 2000 presidential vote recount in Florida, has filed several articles, including a multiple part series entitled, "Dispatches from Mexico City".

Salon says activists in Mexico are invoking memories of Florida in November 2000 to get the world out to the Mexican people to be very, very concerned about the validity of their own vote results.

If you have good links on the subject, please share them in Comments. TYVM.

One More Question to Ask About the New York Tunnel Bomb Plot Story

Ask yourself why, just weeks ago, the president signed off on a revised plan to drastically cut homeland security funding to New York City while dramatically increasing it to far less desirable targets in the West and Midwest.

The Bushies said it was because there really weren't any big targets in New York City (compared with the cows and corn out West). Apparently, the United Nations building, the New York Stock Exchange, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building, and yes, even those tunnels are of no interest to those who would conspire to commit a devastating terror attack.

But at least as important a question as why the Bushies would cut such funding to New York is why the press has largely (although not entirely) not bothered to raise the issue of this funding cut in light of the revelation of this supposed plot in the New York Daily News this week. Again and again, the press is complicit in not bothering to point out anything that is unflattering - and God forbid, critical an incriminating - to this administration.

Something Missing in Recent Terror Plots Exposed: Actual Intent to Commit Crimes

Hallelujah! Someone finally said what I think has been painfully obvious in these recent spate of supposed terror plots: these cases are absent a verified actual intent to commit crimes vs. what the Bushies would like everyone to infer. Your thoughts?

From tomorrow's The Times:

But the Miami and New York cases are inspiring a new round of skepticism from some lawyers who are openly questioning whether the government, in its zeal to stop terrorism, is forgetting an element central to any case: the actual intent to commit a crime.

"Talk without any kind of an action means nothing," said Martin R. Stolar, a New York defense lawyer. "You start to criminalize people who are not really criminals."

In the two most recent plots, the authorities have simultaneously warned that the suspects were contemplating horrific attacks — blowing up the Sears Tower in Chicago and setting off a bomb in a tunnel between New York and New Jersey — but then added that as far as they knew, no one was close to actually making such a strike...

Carl W. Tobias, a law professor at University of Richmond in Virginia who tracks terrorism cases, said the modest evidence disclosed so far in some recent cases related to the ability of the suspects to deliver on their threats had caused him to wonder if politics might be a factor.

"There is some kind of public relations gained by making Americans on the one hand feel concerned that the Sears Tower in Chicago or some tunnel in Manhattan is targeted, yet on the other hand feel comforted that the government is on top of it," he said.

The questions posed about some of the terror-related arrests echo doubts raised when Tom Ridge was secretary of the Homeland Security Department and the Bush administration half a dozen times raised the color-coded alert warning to orange, signaling a high risk of a terrorist attack, leading skeptics to suggest the up-and-down warning levels may have been driven in part by politics.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a Justice Department tally, 261 defendants have been convicted or have pleaded guilty in terrorism or terrorism-related cases. But many of those cases have only remote connections to actual terrorism plots, like the case involving six men from Lackawanna, N.Y., who pleaded guilty to attending a terrorist training camp, but never actually taking part in a terror plot.
I have zero problem with trying to stop terrorist attacks from happening. But this recent spate of supposedly cracked cases seem like a shill and a sham to me, something they cook up.

Time Magazine Makes the Case for a Pre-emptive Strike on North Korea

It begins like this, but I have to say I'm not at all convinced after reading its entirety. I don't see the immediate threat of North Korea, but I certainly do see the imminent threat if we launch even a "strategic" strike on nuclear facilities in either or both North Korea or Iran.

We anticipated that North Korea would ignore the U.S.'s warnings. That's why, in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post on June 22, we urged the Bush Administration to strike the Taepo Dong 2 on its launchpad before the test could be conducted. "Surgical strike" is a much abused term, but destroying a test missile as it is being readied for launch qualifies for this category because only one U.S. cruise missile or precision bomb with an ordinary high-explosive warhead could easily puncture and ignite the multistory test booster. As with space-shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral, all personnel would normally be a safe distance away from the rocket at the time, so there should be no collateral damage.

Critics of our article, including members of the Bush Administration, say that a pre-emptive strike is too risky. But if the U.S. is ever going to defend a line in the sand with North Korea, that is the least provocative way to do it, and next time it will only be riskier. Such a strike could be seen by the North Korean leadership for what it is: a limited act of defense of the U.S. homeland against a gathering threat, and not an overall attack on North Korea. Pyongyang tries carefully to cultivate the impression that it will lash out in response to any action against it, however limited. But would it truly retaliate against South Korea, which has been working hard to improve North-South relations, in response to a U.S. airstrike? Such a war would surely and swiftly end in the elimination of the North Korean regime. Pyongyang's leaders are bold, but they are not suicidal.

For the U.S., the risk of inaction will prove far greater. The Pyongyang regime will view its stockpile of missiles and nuclear material as tipping the regional balance in its favor and providing a shield behind which it can pursue its interests with impunity. Worse, North Korea has a long history of selling its advanced weapons to countries in the Middle East, and it operates a black market in other forms of contraband. Like Pakistan's rogue nuclear engineer A.Q. Khan, North Korean officials might be tempted to sell the ingredients of their arsenal to terrorists. Finally, many expect North Korea's failed economy to lead one day to the regime's collapse. Who then might get its loose nukes?

From Wrestling Coach to MultiMillionaire Real Estate Tycoon: Speaker of the House Denny Hastert

Hmmm. It's amazing how many of these jokers - mostly GOP - become millionaires only AFTER they become elected officials.

I'm sure it's coincidence.

Anyone Catch the Joe Lieberman-Ned Lamont Debate Friday Night?

I know, I know... even cleaning the toilet has to be more enticing than listening to Joementum, but I was just wondering if anyone did watch the debate between the two Dem candidates for senator from Connecticut and if so, your take on it.

Joe was aggressive - unusually so. His comment about not being George Bush, I thought, was telling. But I'm not sure he did so well.

Anyone else?

Was Mexico's Election Rigged Much as Ours Have Been?

This Salon article is, I think, worth your time.

Why you need to care about this in Mexico is that a) some of the same players are involved, b) Mr. Bush stands to benefit and he has two rigged elections under his belt and c) look for this game to be played here again in November of this year as well as the all-important presidential race in 2008.

Rupert (Faux News) Murdoch Buys My Space

Wired has the story, but imagine what this means (besides the fact that Bill O'Reilly can now tormet women with his giant falafel across the Web rather than just over the telephone).

Murdoch is close to the personification of evil.

Bush Wants Kim Jong Il Punished for Same Behavior He Exhibits

Am I wrong here or is Mr. Bush literally faulting the crazed North Korean dictator for the very same behavior he himself exhibits? Only Mr. Bush and his ilk are far more threat to the world than Jong Il, at least currently, can ever be.

Why does no one stand up to him? Hold a mirror up to his face?

Bush Lies Through Teeth, Insists Unit to Catch Osama bin Laden Not Closed by Him and His Henchmen



The Nation: Israel's Use of Military to Intimidate Civilians Very Definition of State Terrorism

Unfortunately, I have to agree.

Just look at the numbers of Palestinian civilians dead compared to the Israeli miltary are terrible. That we allow it to happen while sending Israel more and more weaponry is horrible.

From Bishara's article at The Nation:

The Olmert government bases its campaign against Palestinian civilian infrastructure on three fallacies: that Israel does not initiate violence but retaliates to protect its citizens--in this case a captured soldier; that its response is measured and not meant to harm the broader population; and that it does not negotiate with those it deems terrorists.

But Israel's offensive did not start last week. The three-month-old Israeli government is responsible for the killing eighty or more Palestinians, some of whom were children, in attacks aimed at carrying out illegal extrajudicial assassinations and other punishments. Hamas has maintained a one-sided cease-fire for the past sixteen months, but continued Israeli attacks made Palestinian retaliation only a question of time. (Palestinian factions not under Hamas's control had been firing home-made rockets across the border off and on during this period--almost always with little or no damage or casualties--but these factions maintained that the attacks were in response to Israeli provocations.)

Sad Day: New York Supreme Court Rules Against Gay Marriage

I think it's pretty sad, yes, when NY's highest court embraces discrimination.

As a heterosexual as well as a conscientious watcher of our society, I do not understand the pathetic need to limit marriage.

Hate Groups Infiltrating American Military?

Who, pray tell, hates our soldiers more than the Bushies?

At every turn, this administration underequips them, penalizes their pay, blames them for depravities Rumsfeld himself ordered, reduces their benefits, et al. And no, I am not joking. I wish I were.

I've NEVER seen a presidential administration both more inclined to USE soldiers improperly while at the same time willing to undercut the job they're given to perform. The Peace movement is FAR more concerned with the rights, needs, and the terrible plight of the military than the Bushies, and yet the Bushies - and Fox News, same diff, btw - would like you to believe the peaceniks ARE hate groups.

New York City Tunnel Bomb Terror Plot

Why is it that I believe these stories less and less? I mean, the government is down to saying anyone with an email account who doesn't watch Faux News is a terrorist. The recent Florida case is almost abysmally stupid and this one - at least with facts currently known - doesn't sound all that much more.. uh.. terrifying.

Or maybe what Bush has done to the U.S. and the world has given me a rather demanding standard for what should be considered real terrorism. I dunno.

Breast Ironing? Breast IRONING?

To stunt young girls'... um.. chest development?

My first reaction is OUCH!

My second is, "Why the hell didn't anyone tell me about this when I was 11 and went from flat chested to footballs overnight?" A fact which made me enormously popular with certain males and totally hated by all the other flat chested girls, let me assure you.

However, I'm proud to say I never, never ironed. No, I did what any other proud, confident 11-year-old female in a similar situation would do: I wrapped myself tightly in ace bandages for two years because my dipshit mother read somewhere that it was bad for girls to begin wearing bras until they were 13.

Who Knew the FBI Was So Damned Easy to Hack

Well, apparently he did.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a hot date with one of those silly gowns in my doctor's office to see if I've given myself pneumonia again. Whee!

Bush: North Korea's Missile Tests an "Opportunity" for the U.S.

Yes, I'd agree with the president on this one.

They're an opportunity to show (yet again) what an impotent, blowhard dictator with delusions of grandeur he is (Bush, although it applies well enough to Kim Jong Il as well). It's also an opportunity to show that Mr. Bush really can't do one damned thing about North Korea since he's bankrupted our economy, the military, and certainly the good will of the rest of the world.

But Napoleon Dynamite.. er.. Bush means an opportunity to tell us how much we need his "missile defense" plan that costs a fortune many times over and has almost never worked in tests regardless of how much the Pentagon fudges the reports.

And While We're on the Subject of Perverse: Putin Kissed Boy "Like a Kitten"

Don't you sorta miss the old Soviet Union where the leader would just have the boy "disappeared" by the KGB and put in the gulag in Siberia for the rest of his natural life? Bizarr-oooo!

MOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) -- Vladimir Putin's decision to stop a small boy as he walked through the Kremlin and kiss his stomach was prompted by a desire to "touch him like a kitten," the Russian president said on Thursday.

The five-year-old boy, identified as Nikita Konkin by the press, was clearly stunned by the kiss and speculation over Putin's motivation has run wild in the week since it happened.

..."People came up and I began talking to them, among them this little boy. He seemed to me very independent, sure of himself and at the same time defenseless so to speak, an innocent boy and a very nice little boy," Putin told the Web cast.

"I tell you honestly, I just wanted to touch him like a kitten and that desire of mine ended in that act."


Statue of Intolerance

I second The Carpetbagger Report completely on this:

This is disturbing on so many levels.
    As the congregation of the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church looked on and its pastor, Apostle Alton R. Williams, presided, a brown shroud much like a burqa was pulled away to reveal a giant statue of the Lady, but with the Ten Commandments under one arm and "Jehovah" inscribed on her crown.

    And in place of a torch, she held aloft a large gold cross, as if to ward off the pawnshops, the car dealerships and the discount furniture outlets at the busy corner of Kirby Parkway and Winchester that is her home. A single tear graced her cheek.

    It was not clear if she was crying because of her new home, her new identity as a symbol of religion or, as the pastor said, America's increasing godlessness.
The monument, called the "Statue of Liberation Through Christ," appears to be quite a sight. As shameless idolatry goes, the 72-foot-tall statue appears to have reached new heights. Or depths, depending on one's perspective.

I've seen plenty of patriotic symbols appropriated for religious use, but the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church definitely deserves credit for pushing the envelope — of taste, patriotism, and theocratic tendencies.

Lest it Be Said That Not One Damned Good Thing Has Happened in the Past Week

Let me remind you that we'll be seeing less of her (sadly for her husband since he's apt to see more of her).

Yes, indeedy, Star Jones lost more weight: the hefty check she was getting from ABC for co-hosting the putrid talky, "The View". Now if the rest of the show would disappear.

Let's just say that Star's loss is our incredibly fortuitous gain. (Sighing with relief.)

Anniversary of 7-7 London Bombing: How Britons Regard US

Since today is the anniversary of the July 7th bombs that rocked London, it seems as good a time as any to look at the results of a poll, released Monday, that tells us how Britons - once and possibly still (even given the attitude now) our greatest ally post 9-11 - regard Americans and the U.S. in general.

It ain't pretty, boys and girls. Yet - although I know a few will race to badmouth England for having such a piss poor view of us/US - I'd hazard to say it's well-deserved criticism. Since Mr. Bush took office (and boy, do I ever mean took office), we have become the full three-dimensional embodiment of the Ugly American.

Snip, snip:

People in Britain view the United States as a vulgar, crime-ridden society obsessed with money and led by an incompetent president whose Iraq policy is failing, according to a newspaper poll.

The United States is no longer a symbol of hope to Britain and the British no longer have confidence in their transatlantic cousins to lead global affairs, according to the poll published in The Daily Telegraph.

The YouGov poll found that 77 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement that the US is "a beacon of hope for the world".

... the poll found that only 12 percent of Britons trust them to act wisely on the global stage. This is half the number who had faith in the Vietnam-scarred White House of 1975.

A massive 83 percent of those questioned said that the United States doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks.

... US President George W. Bush fared significantly worse, with just one percent rating him a "great leader" against 77 percent who deemed him a "pretty poor" or "terrible" leader.

More than two-thirds who offered an opinion said America is essentially an imperial power seeking world domination. And 81 per cent of those who took a view said President George W Bush hypocritically championed democracy as a cover for the pursuit of American self-interests.

US policy in Iraq was similarly derided, with only 24 percent saying they felt that the US military action there was helping to bring democracy to the country.

... In answer to other questions, a majority of the Britons questions described Americans as uncaring, divided by class, awash in violent crime, vulgar, preoccupied with money, ignorant of the outside world, racially divided, uncultured and in the most overwhelming result (90 percent of respondents) dominated by big business.
Hey, and these people are our friends. Imagine what the people who don't like us think. (snortle)

In Vote Counting President Bush Can Be Proud Of, Conservative Steals Wins Mexico Election

Ay carumba!

The ruling party's Felipe Calderon won the official count in Mexico's disputed presidential race Thursday, a come-from-behind victory for the stiff technocrat. But his leftist rival refused to concede and said he'd fight the results in court.

Calderon, a conservative who preached free-market values and financial stability during the campaign, was already reaching out to other parties to build a "unity government." His opponent, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, blamed fraud for his narrow loss in the vote count and called on his supporters to fill Mexico City's main square Saturday in a show of force.

With the 41 million votes counted, Calderon of President Vicente Fox's National Action Party had 35.89 percent or 15,000,284, to 35.31 percent or 14,756,350, for Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party.
And what about those 3.5 MILLION missing ballots? Did they go join the hundreds of thousands of missing 2000 Gore votes still hidden in Katherine Harris' seriously-overstuffed bra?

Web...Er... West Side Story Goes Digital?

Gangs - yes, that's correct, gangs as in the Bloods and the Crips - now use the Web to post threats, memorialize murders and other crimes, and perhaps share favorite cookie recipes.

Authorities Release Writings of Columbine School Gunmen

From AP:

Authorities released nearly 1,000 pages of new documents from the Columbine High School massacre Thursday, including step-by-step plans written by the two killers as they gleefully plotted the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

"Hell on Earth — ahh, my favorite," Dylan Klebold writes in the 1998 yearbook of Eric Harris above a drawing of a gun-wielding headless soldier. "So many people need to die."

The documents released by the Jefferson County sheriff include essays, school work and computer files from Harris and Klebold, the two suicidal killers. The papers also included a journal kept by Harris' father that refers to his son's disciplinary and psychological problems but sheds no light on whether he knew the teen might be capable of the slaughter that left 13 people dead.

A scrawled entry in Klebold's day planner apparently sketches out April 20, 1999, down to the minute, starting with a 6 a.m. meeting, a 10:30 a.m. "set up," an 11:12 a.m. "gear up" and at 11:16 a.m., "HAHAHA."
Almost makes you want to have teenagers, doesn't it? (sigh)

Expects Blind Allegiance: Which Leader Is This?

[blank]'s defiant leader expects blind allegiance from all.

If you said Myanmar (according to Kevin Sites), you'd be right.

But if you ask me, I think this applies 210% to George W. Bush.

Bush: "I'd Rather Be Right Than Popular"

That's what the president said - "I'd rather be right than popular" - according to CNN.

Well, I guess 0 out of 2 isn't bad odds ... for George W. Bush anyway.

African Americans' Income Going Doooowwwwnnn

This is NOT a good trend, especially when cost of living is rising sharply almost daily. Not that we can expect Mr. Bush's lackies to address this (except in private, to wink and snort and pat themselves on the back - I wish I were being unkind, but it's true).

African-Americans' share of U.S. national income has narrowed in recent years as a weak job market helped unwind earlier strides, according to a report published on Wednesday.

A black family's median income was 62 percent of the earnings of their white counterparts, down from 63.5 percent in 2000, the Economic Policy Institute said.

"The racial gap widened by 2004 as a result of the recession and the jobless recovery that followed," said Jared Bernstein, economist at the Washington think-tank.

Unemployment helped erase the progress that had been made since 1995, when the level was closer to 61 percent. Had the jobless rate remained at 4 percent, as it was in 2000, the share of black incomes would have risen to 63.9 percent of whites'.

"That 1.9 percentage point difference translates to an income loss for the typical black family of over $1,000 in 2004 alone," the report said.
And before you point out to me that incomes across the board, except for the country's RICHEST Americans (amazing how that works in Bush's America), are down, yes you are correct. However, blacks had a smaller share of the pie to start with so income loss there becomes even more significant.

Nods to Attaturk for the link.

Rising Hegemon Asks: "Scalia: Liar or Idiot?"

[Ed. note: Katharine answered this question, but fear of her being shot before she's had her morning coffee (and before she's fed me) forced me to edit (read: kill) her response.]

From Dedurkheim at Rising Hegemon:

Well known and highly resepected American criminologist Samuel Walker -- unlike many famous academics he has been at one school, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, for most of his career -- accuses Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia of wrongly citing his work "to support a terrible decision, holding that the exclusionary rule — which for decades prevented evidence obtained illegally by police from being used at trial — no longer applies when cops enter your home without knocking."

While this could have other effects, consider if criminologists and criminal justicians complained when their work is misused by policy makers. And that happens every day. Consider the reach and influence of the Supreme Court, this is quite interesting.

Is Scalia using whatever academic and legal materials are on hand to support his conclusions even if the materials and the arguments (or his position) don't match? Interesting, if albeit a little scary. Is Scalia a liar? In a time where facts are not just stupid things (Ronald Reagan) but they have become irrelevant (Bush, jr), the fact that a member of the Supreme Court would take a writer's words out of context to justify the opposite opinion means either Scalia is stupid (see Reagan again) or he deliberately misused a writer's ideas to support a political position that he had taken regardless of the facts or writing on it.

Call me crazy, but isn't that a bad position for a member of the Supreme Court?
Bold print emphasis mine.

Civilian Deaths Way Up in Iraq

Saith the Times:

Baghdad's central morgue received 1,595 bodies last month, the most since the bombing of a Shia shrine in February prompted a wave of sectarian killings.

Doctor Abdul Razzaq al-Obaidi, the morgue assistant manager, said on Wednesday that the tally for June compared with the 1,375 bodies the morgue received in May and 1,155 in April.
That's JUST Baghdad - and there is more than one morgue there although this reporting is for the single central morgue ONLY.

Copied from the ever-informative Attaturk at Rising Hegemon


John Dean on Bush, the Guantanamo Detainee Case, Graham and Kyl's Bill, and Rumsfeld's Manuevering

Good article on a most difficult subject. I recommend it.

The Profits of Knowing Bush

The Aspen Daily reports that in less than 5 years, some 600 White House people received at least $2.5 MILLION in special gifts from organizations and companies looking for favors and privilege.

I suspect this only scratches the surface, meaning it's all they can prove right now. So much of this crap flies well below the radar and is allowed by deals brokered by scum like Tom DeLay to get favors to these people without scum like DeLay having to share his largesse.

Baghdad's Blossoms Bloody Corpses

Some 35 corpses, all showing signs of severe abuse and torture, have been discovered around Baghdad in the last 24 hours.

Laura Bush Whines "Good Polls Don't Make Front Page"


Bush Nominates Anti-Regulatory Nutcase to Public Safety Office

Why, oh why am I not surprised?

Also from Think Progress:

President Bush is expected to nominate Susan Dudley as the next head of an obscure but “super-powerful office that oversees many business regulations.” The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs holds sway over federal regulatory agencies like the EPA and helps set regulatory policy for a wide range of issues, from workplace safety to water quality.

The most recent head, John Graham, has “demonstrated consistent hostility to protections for public health, safety and the environment over his career.” And according to Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch, Dudley “makes John Graham look like Ralph Nader.”

As the director of regulatory studies at the industry-backed Mercatus Center she has worked to oppose vital public health regulation as a “hidden tax” that hinders profits. Some of her targets:
– Opposed EPA plans to set tougher public health standards for smog.
– Opposed lower-polluting cars and SUVs and cleaner gasoline.
– Opposed air bags in cars, preferring to leave public safety decisions “to the market place.”
– Opposed stronger regulations for arsenic in drinking water, claming that there “is a wide range of uncertainty in the science surrounding the health effects of arsenic in U.S. drinking water supplies.”
– Opposed measures to curb global warming, stating that the “evidence regarding global warming and human contribution to it is mixed, and…if a slight warming does occur, historical evidence suggests it is likely to be beneficial, occurring at night, in the winter, and at the poles. Taking ‘precautionary action’ to protect human health based on a series of tenuous linkages would likely create a new set of risks.”

Not surprisingly, Exxon Mobil has donated $80,000 to Dudley’s think tank.

Fuck the U.S. Constitution When it Comes to Protecting Bush's Ass

From Think Progress (yes, I'm boiling):

In an interview with the National Review, Sen. Lindsey Graham strongly objected to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that the Geneva Conventions applied to enemy combatants. Graham suggested that Congress should reverse the Supreme Court’s interpretation:
    We’ve got to put a fence around this decision by the Court to grant Common Article Three of the Geneva Convention rights to terrorists. In 2002, Bush said that enemy combatant terrorists will be treated humanely within the spirit of the Convention but not given Convention status. I think he was right. You don’t want to erode the Convention.
What Graham is sugesting is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has the final say on how treaties should be interpreted. The Court explained in another case, Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon, issued the same day has Hamdan:
    Under our Constitution, “[t]he judicial Power of theUnited States” is “vested in one supreme Court, and insuch inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” Art. III, §1. That “judicialPower . . . extend[s] to . . . Treaties.” Id., §2. And, as Chief Justice Marshall famously explained, that judicial power includes the duty “to say what the law is.” Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803).

    If treaties are to be given effect as federal law under our legal system, determining their meaning as a matter of federal law “is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department,” headed by the “one supreme Court” established by the Constitution.
It’s difficult for Graham and other loyal supporters of the Bush administration to accept that their legal approach to combating terrorism is dysfunctional. The Hamdan decision spelled this out. And it’s not a problem they can rubber stamp their way out of.

Syndicate Might, Might, MIGHT Look Into Allegations of Plagiarism?

MIGHT? And it took them DAYS past the allegation to say MIGHT?

From Ed and Pub:

Universal Press Syndicate issued a statement this afternoon saying it might look into the plagiarism allegations against Ann Coulter in two possible ways.

"We'll see what we can find on our own," said Kathie Kerr, the syndicate's director of communications, noting that Universal would use the information referenced in Sunday's New York Post article. That story quoted John Barrie, creator of the iThenticate plagiarism-probing system, who said he had easily found several examples of alleged plagiarism in Coulter's new "Godless" book and in her Universal columns from the past year. Several blogs had earlier found these and other examples.

Kerr added that Universal may also use a plagiarism-finding tool from Barrie's company.

The Universal spokeswoman said Barrie has yet to return her call (he hasn't returned E&P's calls either), but added that she did hear from a sales-division person at the iParadigms company with which Barrie is affiliated.

Kerr said she was told that iParadigms wasn't sure if it "could provide the same information about Coulter as was given to the Post," but that the syndicate "could subscribe to the service that provided the information" to that newspaper."

This tool is a service sold through subscription on LexisNexis," said Kerr. "We use the research tool on LexisNexis quite a bit. The plagiarism tool is called Copyguard and is about a year old. We'll want to set up a trial period and of course get pricing on this tool, but it sounds like something that would benefit us. I don't know how long it will take to get a trial period set up."
What the hell is wrong with these people?

Artwork I Like

It's snarky but I found this at TalkLeft (from C.L.) and wanted to share.

Google on Net Neutrality


Google warned on Tuesday it will not hesitate to file anti-trust complaints in the United States if high-speed Internet providers abuse the market power they could receive from U.S. legislators.

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee last week approved sweeping communications reform legislation that would make it easier for telephone companies like AT&T to offer subscription television to consumers.

But it narrowly rejected attempts by some lawmakers to strengthen safeguards on Internet service, which had pitted high-speed Internet, or broadband, providers such as AT&T against Internet content companies like Google.

The battle centred on whether broadband providers can charge more to carry unaffiliated content or to guarantee service quality, an issue called Net neutrality.

"If the legislators ... insist on neutrality, we will be happy. If they do not put it in, we will be less happy but then we will have to wait and see whether or not there actually is any abuse," Vint Cerf, a Google vice-president and one of the pioneers of the Internet, told a news conference in Bulgaria.

"If we are not successful in our arguments ... then we will simply have to wait until something bad happens and then we will make known our case to the Department of Justice' name's anti-trust division," he said on Tuesday.

One to Watch: The Blackwater Extortion Case

Remember the deaths of four Blackwater (big bad defense contractors) contractors in Iraq that touched off the Battle of Fallujah? There's an extortion case involving a former employee you should be reading about.

Mexico Recount Flipping

Anything They Say is doing a superb job keeping up with the very important, very pertinent to us since the same companies are involved in vote counting Mexico election. To read the latest, check this out.

There is also this from the Christian Science Monitor:

Leftist leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador refused to concede defeat Thursday in Mexico's closest-ever presidential race, after an official recount showed conservative candidate Felipe Calderón ahead by less than half a percentage point.

Alleging irregularities in the electoral process, Mr. Obrador promised to bring claims to a special electoral court and urged supporters to join him in the streets Saturday for a protest in the Zocalo, Mexico City's main square - raising the fear of violence in an already polarized nation with two distinct visions for the future.

Mexicans have been on edge since Sunday's election night, after electoral officials said the preliminary tally was too close to call. News sites were keeping a nearly live tally of the recount, which began Wednesday, allowing users to see updates every 10 minutes.

But they could be in for an even longer stretch of political limbo, one that could last through the summer. "Everyone has already proclaimed victory," says Robert Pastor, director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University in Washington. But "[a race] only closes when one of two things happen: those who lost concede defeat, or legal authorities certify the final results."

Before the recount began Wednesday, Obrador of the left-leaning Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), who enticed the poor with his promises of pensions and employment, demanded a ballot-by-ballot recount to dissipate any fears of fraud after some 2.5 million votes were unaccounted for in the preliminary count. But that request was turned down by Luis Carlos Ugalde, president of the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE).

"Mexican law is very clear on when a ballot box can be opened: only when there are problems with the vote tallies, when the tally sheet has obviously been changed, or when the box has been tampered with," Mr. Ugalde said.

Bush, Kim Jong Il, and a Hero Who Doesn't Brown Nose

Dedalus at Blah 3 brings us two stories worth noting, the second one especially.

First and it would be hysterically funny coming from Bush if not so damn pervertedly sad...

From today's press conference with Canadian PM Paul Martin, over the recent missile tests by North Korea:

    Bush said the nations' message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was clear: "We expect you to adhere to international norms. We expect you to keep your word."
Oh, go ahead and fill in your own list.

Just for starters: Tossing aside the Geneva Conventions. Torture. "Extraordinary rendition." Guarantees over WMDs. The cost of the war. The length of the war. Getting warrants for wiretaps. And to quote Yul Brynner: "Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!"

And then there's this and I say three cheers for the soldier:

Sgt. Matthew Bee, an Ohio Marine, has been awarded 6 medals of commendation for his service in Iraq. However, one of them he's decided to return to sender:

    The medal is the War on Terrorism service medal, and Bee calls it "eye candy" from Bush.

    So, he took something noble and honorable and made it kind of dirty. And I always thought that medal was the one he pinned on us and said, 'This is my war. This is my stamp in history,'" said Bee.

    Bee said he is not anti-war, but rather pro-peace. He plans to travel to Washington, D.C., with a small group of Marines who feel the same way he does. They will all try to return their War on Terrorism medal to Bush personally or to members of Congress.

The good sargeant has this exactly right: Bush cooked up a misguided war and he decided he needed his own special medal to commemorate the occasion--the medal was created just one week before the invasion of Iraq. You get the medal by participating in a "designated operation" ...

So Sgt. Bee is right that Bush is using this medal as a gimmick to put his "stamp" on history. And he's created a medal so special, he might as well just give them out in boxes of Cracker Jacks.

Biden and Boxer Join Lieberman In Saying Screw You to Voters

Stranger at the ever-great Blah3 points out that Joe Biden and Babs Boxer (yeah, I'm feeling snarky tonight) have joined the Push Lieberman on the Voters Regardless crowd.

See, if we were the "new breed of Republicans" (characteristic behavior there involves eating one's young, buying Hummers while demanding tax breaks for gas, and dissing the ethics of others while you screw everyone in sight), we would just ignore the behavior of Boxer and Biden, Salazar and Lieberman because they're Democrats and thus, beyond reproach.

But I'm not a Dem and anyone bothering to read this blog probably isn't a straight ticket voter willing to buy the usual pap. So yeah, it's not hard to feel hard about these senators not giving a damn about the will of the voters.

Speaking of Men with Embarrassingly Small "Equipment" Who Need to Prove Something to Others

"I enjoy being a girlllllll"

They let this dolt near the red phone with the special button?

More Than 3.5 Million Votes Missing in Mexico

I somehow doubt the votes jumped the border to get $2 an hour jobs scrubbing toilets for SoCal Republican politicians.

I Love People Who Fight for the Right to Continue Being Dumb

Now they want spelling changed to accommodate them (dolts).

If You Thought Debt Collectors Were Nasty Before

You ain't seen nothing yet. The Times reports complaints about debt collector practices are WAAAY up and that, more and more, these companies are freezing accounts and ruining lives even without proof that the people they're going after are indeed the folks who defaulted on lines of credit/bills, etc.

A snippet:

Stephanie M. Clark, 36, and her husband sued the Triad Financial Corporation of Huntington Beach, Calif., and Verizon Wireless in Federal District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., in August 2004. After they fell behind on their car payments, the suit alleged, Triad hired a collector who threatened them with arrest, posed as a Verizon Wireless employee, changed the password on their cellphone account and obtained their cellphone records. According to the suit, the collector called dozens of the couple's relatives, friends and business associates, posing as a law enforcement officer and telling them that there was an arrest warrant for the Clarks.
I once had some third party outfit call and leave a message with my boss that they were contacting the U.S. Department of Justice to arrest me (along with a cute little addition that I could be tried as a terrorist) for failing to pay a student loan I not only had paid, but I'd provided proof to them I'd paid.

When I called them, they acknowledged that they had the proof of payment but - and this really floored me - that they had decided I had not paid enough interest on the debt and (they were quite bold in stating this) there was nothing to prevent them from making my life very uncomfortable if they decided, after the debt was paid in full, to extort more money from me knowing I wouldn't like my boss contacted again.

I got this cleared up and contacted my congresscritter, but I've always wondered what happens to those who are less proactive.

The American Dollar: Worth Less Every Day

The Christian Science Monitor discusses why the rapidly climbing national debt casts even more doubt on the future of the (valueless) U.S. dollar.

I've been chronicling this story for some time now, which is getting surprisingly little attention in the mainstream media - a shame since most of us depend on the U.S. dollar.

Western Union: Engaging in US Government Sanctioned Discrimination Against Arabs?

This is nonsense. Pure nonsense. If they did this with a SINGLE right-wing Christian there would be hell to pay and, as I recall, many acts of terrorism have been committed by right-wing extremists in the name of God.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Money transfer agencies have delayed or blocked thousands of cash deliveries on suspicion of terrorist connections simply because senders or recipients have names like Mohammed or Ahmed, company officials said.

In one example, an Indian driver here said Western Union prevented him from sending $120 to a friend at home last month because the recipient's name was Mohammed.

"Western Union told me that if I send money to Sahir Mohammed, the money will be blocked because of his name," said 36-year-old Abdul Rahman Maruthayil, who later sent the money through UAE Exchange, a Dubai-based money transfer service.

In a similar case, Pakistani Qadir Khan said Western Union blocked his attempt this month to wire money to his brother Mohammed for a cataract operation.

"Every Mohammed is a terrorist now?" Khan asked.

Dubai-based representatives from Western Union Financial Services, an American company based in Colorado, and Minnesota-based MoneyGram International said their clerks are simply following U.S.

Treasury Department guidelines that scrutinize cash flows for terrorist links. Most of the flagged transactions are delayed a few hours. Some are blocked entirely.

In many cases, would-be customers like Maruthayil simply find another way to send the funds — often through informal exchanges with less stringent monitoring.

Why Mexico's Voting Fiasco Should Worry Us

First, understand that ChoicePoint, a big giver to Mr. Bush and company and involved in many nasty issues here in the U.S. including questionable voting results, is a central player in Mexico's elections.

Second, check out the snippet from The Times below and appreciate a couple of salient points:

  • NOW they're saying the conservative candidate is in the lead
  • NOTE that they refer to the non-conservative candidate as a "leftist" - other news services call him a "serious radical left-wing idealogue" or "radical leftist" or "left-leaning extremist". Uh, folks? The conservative candidate is pretty O-U-T there so why is only his opponent painted with such an incendiary brush? Let me hazard a guess (snort).
  • I really doubt that the conservative candidate will be the actual choice of the people yet - sadly, because of a rigged election - I am equally sure he will be named the winner (sigh).

For more followup on this "election" (let's call it selection as with Bush in 2000 and 2004 where the winner was chosen ahead of time and the machines fixed to return the required results), visit Anything They Say, which featured this today:

As has already been discussed here, the ChoicePoint elections in Mexico have exhibited some interesting similarities with those of Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004. Add now to the reported long lines, shortage of ballots, and all manner of "bungling," which seemed to more affect constituencies supportive of the lefitst Obrador, are reports that exit polls are divergent from the vote count, complete with charges that some 3 million ballots are missing.

One of Obrador's campaign workers, Luis Mandoke, must have been feeling like all those Kerry workers in 2004 when he said,

It was unbelievable. We were wondering, 'What happened to our lead?'

And here's from today's New York Times:
MEXICO CITY, July 5 — Mexico endured a new cycle of suspense on Wednesday as the authorities tabulated their final official count of votes from Sunday's disputed presidential election, in which preliminary results separated the candidates by less than one percent.

Supporters of Andrés Manuel López Obrador chanted outside an office where votes were being counted Wednesday in Mexico City.

With tallies taken from about 93 percent of the polling places, the electoral authorities reported that the count had tilted toward the leftist candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who had 36 percent of the vote, while the conservative candidate, Felipe Calderón, had 35 percent.

But with a race this close, elections officials said they would not announce a winner until all the tally sheets had been counted. As the night wore on, Mr. López Obrador's lead steadily narrowed as tallies arrived from the northwestern states that voted heavily in favor of Mr. Calderón. Even some of Mr. Lopez Obrador's advisers acknowledged privately that they were not confident their candidate's lead would hold.

The final tally, usually little more than a formality, turned into another cliffhanger of a moment in the most competitive presidential race in Mexican history. As the count ticked along on newspaper Web sites into the night, the president of the electoral institute said he would announce the final results as soon as he had them, no matter the hour.

Leaders of the Calderón campaign were huddled at their party headquarters. Officials from Mr. López Obrador's campaign remained at the electoral institute, making clear they would not recognize the results until there was a vote-by-vote recount.

Crowds Come When Piece of Man's Skull Falls Off (Sadly, Not Congressman Ney's Nor Senator Lieberman's)

From Reuters (believe it or not):

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - Hundreds of people are thronging a hospital in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata to see a patient holding a piece of his own skull that fell off.

Doctors say a large, dead section of 25-year-old electrician Sambhu Roy's skull came away Sunday after severe burns starved it of blood.

"When he came to us late last year, his scalp was completely burned and within months it came off exposing the skull," Ratan Lal Bandyopadhyay, the surgeon who treated Roy told Reuters Wednesday.

"Later, we noticed that the part of his skull was loosening due to lack of blood supply to the affected area, which can happen in such extensive burn cases."

The piece came off Sunday and hundreds of people and dozens of doctors now crowd around his bed, where he lies holding the bone.

Another Politician Who Wouldn't Know Public Service if it Bit Him

Another pol piss point: last night I was watching Hardball (I know, I get what I deserve for my poor choices) when I noticed the crawl say something like:

Happy Birthday from Hardball to Rep. Bob Ney who tells Hardball
he'll run for re-election even if indicted!

Gee, what's wrong with that?

Ney, a 6-term Reprehensible from Ohio's 18th district, is part of the Abramoff lobbying-free money scandal and there seems to be substantial evidence he's pretty damned dirty. And, while granted indictment is not conviction, isn't it just special that he feels entitled to hold his seat regardless of the crap he's done?

Ney is clearly part of the Tom DeLay/Karl Rove new breed of Reprehensible who feels that laws and ethics do not apply to them and feels obligated to make any legal action against them work to their advantage. While Washington may not seem to know better, it's high time for the American people to prove them wrong.

Dem, Rep, Indy or out-to-lunch, trash should be taken to the dump.

Memo to Politicians: Seats Are Not Yours But "Owned" By the People

OK, I'm getting ticked. No, I mean more ticked than usual.

David Sirota reports that Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) has given the finger to voters by saying that if fellow senator Joe Lieberman (questionable D-CT) does NOT win August's Dem primary), Salazar will actively support Lieberman anyway. While Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have indicated they may do the same, only Salazar has come out and said, "Screw what the voters want."

It's not like Salazar and Lieberman have been long, long time colleagues. Lieberman's had 24 years in office (and some might say HIGH time for a change, especially given Lieberman's fondness for kissing Bush's royal tushie) but Salazar is a freshman in his first term. On that score, Dodd and Schumer have more right, I suppose, to consider Joe-mentum their guy.

But the thing is that these elected posts DO NOT belong to the candidate or to a party. While today's government sure doesn't act like it, these posts are held in trust as representatives of the American people as voted on by those who bother to show up at the polls (always abysmally small percentage-wise). If the people of Connecticut do NOT choose to re-elect Lieberman, who's been piss poor at representing the will of the people, than let me go out on a limb here and say Lieberman should go! It's not the place of some looney toon from Colorado to decide to keep him in office. Es verdad, Salazar?

Now, as may be apparent, I do not like Lieberman and I certainly do not respect Lieberman. I once did (and overall supported his bid for VP with Gore in 2000), but the boat sailed there some time ago when it became abundantly apparent that the only person Joe Lieberman is out to help is - yes, folks - Joe Lieberman.

But it wouldn't matter if I DID like Lieberman: the people of Connecticut (of whom I am no longer a member) get to choose. Not Lieberman. Not Salazar. Not Dodd and Schumer. And not even Hillary Clinton who - while initially saying she would support Lieberman regardless - has now gone on record as saying she won't support him if he fails (and whines) to get the Dem nomination from his state.


Iraq War Pointless

Pointless is what the majority of the American public now say about Mr. Bush's great war in Iraq.

That and $3 will get you a cup of coffee and still more than 2500 U.S. soldiers dead in Mr. Hussein's country since Bush declared Mission Accomplished.

Bush: I Told Them to Leak CIA Operative Valerie Plame to Discredit Joe Wilson

But somebody needs to tell Bush and Cheney to get on the same page in their lies (though frankly, they've never been on the same page before and yet they've managed to stay in office.. so I guess why ruin a good system?).

From Murray Waas at National Journal:

President Bush told the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case that he directed Vice President Dick Cheney to personally lead an effort to counter allegations made by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV that his administration had misrepresented intelligence information to make the case to go to war with Iraq, according to people familiar with the president's interview.

Bush told prosecutors he directed Cheney to disclose classified information that would not only defend his administration but also discredit Wilson.

Bush also told federal prosecutors during his June 24, 2004, interview in the Oval Office that he had directed Cheney, as part of that broader effort, to disclose highly classified intelligence information that would not only defend his administration but also discredit Wilson, the sources said.

But Bush told investigators that he was unaware that Cheney had directed I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's chief of staff, to covertly leak the classified information to the media instead of releasing it to the public after undergoing the formal governmental declassification processes.

Bush also said during his interview with prosecutors that he had never directed anyone to disclose the identity of then-covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, Wilson's wife. Bush said he had no information that Cheney had disclosed Plame's identity or directed anyone else to do so.

Libby has said that neither the president nor the vice president directed him or other administration officials to disclose Plame's CIA employment to the press. Cheney has also denied having any role in the disclosure.
Talk about a classic textbook definition of high treason and impeachable offenses...

Need Another Reason to Not Simply Vote in November, But Vote OUT the Republican Lead in Congress?

Well, Bush says that if he holds onto the Republican majority in Congress in November, he's dumping Social Security in favor of his disastrous private account system. He just stopped talking about it in public because only three people are in favor of the plan (and all of them stand to benefit from stealing your money.

While SS is far from perfect, wouldn't it be better to dump the party of Bush, of billionaire tax breaks and Abramoff and Tom DeLay and Dick Cheney than it would be to dump Social Security?

Rush, Coulter: Always Avoiding Punishment

Funny how the extreme right always gets a pass for their misdeeds.

Rush Limbaugh, despite being ordered by the court to stay away from illegal prescription drugs to avoid prosecution for his massive abuse of same, apparently will face no legal action for being found in possession of a bottle of Viagra that was not in his name, while Annthrax Coulter is apparently getting a pass for plagiarizing her books and columns from the works of others.

From TPM Muckraker on the Coulter connection:

So what happens when a columnist is found using other's words without attribution? I called Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes Coulter's column to over 100 newspapers.

What's the story? I asked Kathie Kerr, the company's media relations chief. Is your company considering any action against Coulter? Will there be any fallout? "I think [Coulter] is the one that needs to address this," Kerr told me at first.

I noted that in other plagiarism cases -- Jayson Blair, for instance -- the response was not left up to the writer. Indeed, in that case the New York Times and its editors bore responsibility for his misdeeds.

"After the investigation is complete and the allegations are proven correct, that's right," she told me.

So is there an investigation into Coulter's writings? "Not that I know of," Kerr replied. She promised to get in touch with Coulter's editor and call me back.

Also, Kerr told me that so far, none of the papers carrying Coulter's column have called to complain about the plagiarism, or to drop the feature.
Silly me: when I'm hired to write something, I do my own research and do the work myself. What an ignorant slut I must be!

Ken Lay Dead

CNBC is reporting Ken Lay has died of a heart attack.

Convenient that he dies now after being found guilty and before he could spill some of the beans about Bush and the energy dirty tricks before sentencing. Not that I'm exactly Oliver Stone but the timing sure is interesting.

Bush's Ballot Buddy, Osama bin Laden?

From Consortium News, fwiw:

On Oct. 29, 2004, just four days before the U.S. presidential election, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin-Laden released a videotape denouncing George W. Bush. Some Bush supporters quickly spun the diatribe as “Osama’s endorsement of John Kerry.” But behind the walls of the CIA, analysts had concluded the opposite: that bin-Laden was trying to help Bush gain a second term.

This stunning CIA disclosure is tucked away in a brief passage near the end of Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine, which draws heavily from CIA insiders. Suskind wrote that the CIA analysts based their troubling assessment on classified information, but the analysts still puzzled over exactly why bin-Laden wanted Bush to stay in office.

According to Suskind’s book, CIA analysts had spent years “parsing each expressed word of the al-Qaeda leader and his deputy, [Ayman] Zawahiri. What they’d learned over nearly a decade is that bin-Laden speaks only for strategic reasons. …

“Their [the CIA’s] assessments, at day’s end, are a distillate of the kind of secret, internal conversations that the American public [was] not sanctioned to hear: strategic analysis. Today’s conclusion: bin-Laden’s message was clearly designed to assist the President’s reelection.

“At the five o’clock meeting, [deputy CIA director] John McLaughlin opened the issue with the consensus view: ‘Bin-Laden certainly did a nice favor today for the President.’”

McLaughlin’s comment drew nods from CIA officers at the table. Jami Miscik, CIA deputy associate director for intelligence, suggested that the al-Qaeda founder may have come to Bush’s aid because bin-Laden felt threatened by the rise in Iraq of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; bin-Laden might have thought his leadership would be diminished if Bush lost the White House and their “eye-to-eye struggle” ended.

But the CIA analysts also felt that bin-Laden might have recognized how Bush’s policies – including the Guantanamo prison camp, the Abu Ghraib scandal and the endless bloodshed in Iraq – were serving al-Qaeda’s strategic goals for recruiting a new generation of jihadists.

JoeMentum: Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry OR You're Finished!

Joe Lieberman is showing that he's far more like today's rabid right Republicans than he might think: why should he care what voters want when his ambition is at stake? It worked for George W. Bush in both Elections 2000 and 2004, right?

Lieberman, long-time Dem senator from Connecticut, my former home state, has said that if Dems don't nominate him after the primary vote, he'll run regardless, even if it means leaving his party to do so. Of course, one can argue that he left his party at least six years ago, if not longer. This announcement comes on the heels of results that show his main challenger, Dem Ned Lamont, had raised oodles and oodles more in Netroots campaign donations than dear ole Joementum (who came away with just a few hundred dollars).

How like the rabid GOP (which I differentiate from normal Republicans) it is for Joe to think that he can force himself down voters' throats regardless of whether the people want him or not. Anyone who votes for him now perhaps deserves what they get: a politician so ambitious that what is best for him matters thousands of times more than what is best for the people of the state he serves.

Perhaps Jilted Joe can get his kissing pal George W. Bush to let him borrow some of those rigged voting machines when they get sent back up from Mexico later this month.

Elsewhere, Hillary Clinton (who is about as much of a Dem as Lieberman which means, not bloody much) says she won't support Lieberman if he loses his state's primary in August (Hil can't support a loser, after all - she's just too important).

You remember Hillary, right? The supposed Dem presidential candidate in 08 that only the Republicans want to have run? This way, she and Condi Rice can cancel themselves out and big "men" like Jonah Goldberg and Chris Matthews can smirk and assure themselves we don't have to worry about a woman president for another fifty years.

The Coming Voter Ballot Meltdown: Why Ohio's In-Credibility of the 2004 Presidential Vote Tally Will Come Back to Bite Us Again

From CBS News and attention should be paid:

Ohio was, of course, ground zero of the 2004 presidential election, and now it's the battleground of one of the most hotly contested governor's races in the country. The Republican candidate this November is none other than Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's Secretary of State, a man vilified by voting rights activists for a string of baffling and, to all appearances, nakedly partisan rulings in the 2004 presidential race, when he also doubled as co-chair of George Bush's state re-election campaign. Now he's at it again — issuing draconian guidelines on voter registration that carry the threat of felony prosecutions against grassroots get-out-the-vote groups, especially in Democratic-leaning urban areas, for even the slightest procedural irregularity. Despite denials from Blackwell's office of any malicious political intent, the guidelines have had an immediate chilling effect on groups like the activist community organization ACORN, which has suspended registration efforts pending urgent consultations with its lawyers. Several leading Democrats have urged Blackwell to step aside from all election-supervising responsibilities, a proposal his staff has greeted with near-derision.

It would be bad enough if Blackwell were acting merely to benefit his party, as he did in 2004. But in this case he's taking advantage of his office to act on behalf of his own ambitions. Unless something changes between now and November, he will remain in charge of counting the votes — his own and everyone else's. In a pivotal election in a pivotal state, this is far from reassuring. As Peg Rosenfield, an elections specialist with the League of Women Voters of Ohio who spent twelve years working in the secretary of state's office in the pre-Blackwell era, put it, "If you think '04 was a mess, just wait. I anticipate a debacle."

Blackwell and his Democratic challenger, Ted Strickland, are locked in a tough fight over the succession to Bob Taft, the scandal-tainted, widely reviled incumbent governor, whose approval ratings are lower even than Dick Cheney's. Early polls have put Strickland modestly ahead, but Blackwell has several built-in advantages, particularly his ability to lean on an entrenched Republican establishment and tap into its broad fundraising powers. Blackwell has largely escaped the stench of corruption dragging down the rest of the state party, thanks to his reputation as a maverick and a lone operator. As a social conservative, he appeals to much the same exurban demographic that turned out for George W. Bush to express their disapproval of abortion rights and gay marriage. And, as an African-American, he is bound to peel away at least a percentage of the urban black vote that Strickland might otherwise regard as his for the taking. So it's not inconceivable, as the nation awakes on November 8, that the Ohio governor's race will be too close to call. And if that happens, all hell will break loose.

"If we have a recount, I see no way anyone is going to have any faith in it. It's a poisonous atmosphere," Rosenfield said. Never, she added, has she seen the elections process subject to as much politicization as now. Previous secretaries of state, conscious of their status as partisan elected officials, would have gone out of their way to keep their names off election-related directives that risked being interpreted as attempts to help one party over the other. Blackwell, by contrast, has if anything gone out of his way to be identified with his office's most controversial rules. (In 2004 he happily put his name on a now-notorious directive that late voter-registration applications — the kind encouraged by Democratic grassroots groups — be submitted on specially weighted, unwaxed paper, which disqualified applications printed in Ohio newspapers. He also made it unusually hard for voters casting provisional ballots — again, more likely to be Democrats — to have their votes accepted and counted.)

On top of that, Rosenfield added, Blackwell's office has shown a wanton disregard for the needs of Ohio's eighty-eight counties as they make the Congressionally mandated transition from punch-card and lever machines to new-generation electronic voting systems. Rather than answer technical questions posed by the counties — which is how Rosenfield spent much of her time when she worked for the secretary of state's office in the 1980s — Blackwell's staff has a habit of referring county boards of elections to other local officials not remotely qualified to help.

What's Behind the Assault on The Times by the Far Right?

Buzzflash says it's at least in part anti-Semitism (like them, I've sadly heard The Times reviled for - as one bright man put it to me, "its Jewishness", as if religion should matter in news reporting; America seems to be devolving rather than e-volving today).

Money Laundering has even more to say about the issue. Note, too, the poll on the right-hand sidebar.

From Money Laundering:

News of the Bush administration’s clandestine bank surveillance program stunned many Americans, but Washington insiders say it didn’t surprise them or the terrorists the program tails.

President Bush described last week’s media reports exposing the U.S. Treasury Department’s terrorist finance tracking program – covert scrutiny of international financial transactions through a Belgium-based cooperative known by its acronym SWIFT – as “disgraceful” and Republican Senator Jim Bunning accused the reporters who wrote the stories of “treason.”

“The rhetoric on this is way out of proportion on both sides,” said Victor Comras, a former State Department official and U.S. diplomat appointed by the United Nations Security Council to assess global anti-terrorist financing efforts. “The people who finance terrorism and launder money recognized long ago that these transactions can be traced.”

Since the New York Times and other media didn’t tell the public anything the terrorists didn’t already know and since banks already monitor suspicious transactions for the U.S. government, many question the probe’s usefulness. “It’s not a cost-effective way to deal with terrorism issues,” Comras said.

Afghan Translators Dying in Numbers

From The Times:

Coalition troops are reviewing security procedures after the deaths of at least 10 Afghans working as translators for the American-led coalition in the last month, a military spokesman said.

Some of the translators have been accompanying foreign troops and have been killed during combat operations, but others seem to have been directly targeted by Taliban insurgents for working for the coalition led by the United States, colleagues said. Most of the translators are young Afghans who have studied in the many private English-language courses available in Afghanistan.

Taliban-led violence has increased dramatically in the last six months, with insurgents making a determined show of force as NATO prepares to take over military command of southern Afghanistan.

Many civilians have been caught in the violence, including more than 100 employees of the United States Agency for International Development, in the last three years, according to the departing chief of mission in Afghanistan, Alonzo Fulgham. The majority of those killed were Afghans, he said, but some expatriate workers had also been killed.
Gee, I suspect the translators are targeted because they're working for the U.S. government OR for U.S.-based operations. And gosh, I didn't even need a degree from Harvard to figure it out.

Iraq War Vets Increasingly Come Home to NO Home

The rate at which returning American soldiers end up homeless was bad during Vietnam. But in Mr. Bush's America, the number of homeless vets from the second "Mother of All Battles" makes Vietnam pale by comparison.

Israel and Always Being Ready to Make a Bad Situation Worse

I'm gravely concerned about the escalating issue in Israel and the long-time policy, dating back even before the right wing retook power in Israel under Sharon in 2000, of always striving to make a bad situation even worse. Firing on the democratically elected prime minister's office? Constantly taking what little the Palestinians have for punishment for crimes that are often miniscule compared to the wrong done by the far right Israelis? Not good.

There is evil being committed in the name of God on both sides. However, Israel has one of the most powerful militaries in the world, completely underwritten by the U.S. which provides more aid to the tiny country of Israel than any other country in the world. While Palestinians lob stones and occasionally send in a suicide bomber, Israel retaliates with huge gun ships and massive fire power, seize whatever they please, and deny Palestinians access to their own land as well as basic services as well as refuse to pay the money provided to the Palestinians in aid from the rest of the world. All this has done is perpetuate the violence and made both Israeli and Palestinian territories a terribly dangerous, hate-filled place for the majority of Jews and Arabs who want to live their peacefully and profitably.

Both Israel and Palestine have a right to exist; both need to acknowledge that. The U.S. is abetting much of the worst behavior of the Israelis in power and that needs to stop. Instead, however, we get slanted news stories, up to and including the fact that papers like the NYTimes have published incendiary and WRONG translations of remarks by the democratically elected Hamas prime minister which, although hardly messages of peace, are usually nowhere near as bad as these translations make them out to be.

Yes, I know this post will anger some. Today, you cannot criticize an Israeli action without it being read as anti-Semitic, much as any criticism of Mr. Bush is immediately denounced as anti-American and traitorous. But even there you see the bias: both Palestinians AND Israelis are semites.

But, like other reasonable people, I recognize the right of Israel AND Palestine to exist. I want the majority of both people to prevail in a sentiment that does not require the extermination of either side. Peace is not possible with so many fomenting hate; the answer is not to build walls or force the Palestinians out but to push out those extremists who make peace impossible. That includes extremists from our own country who want to use Israel and its citizens as a pawn in their end-time scenarios (read George Bush, James Dobson, Tom DeLay, et al).

From the wires:

Israeli leaders stepped up a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, authorizing troops Wednesday to move into residential areas and create a security zone to prevent militants from firing rockets into Israel.

The Security Cabinet's decision indicated that Israel could be prepared to partially reoccupy Gaza, less than a year after withdrawing all troops and settlements from the coastal strip.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert convened the urgent meeting after militants from the ruling Hamas group fired a rocket into the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon late Tuesday. Although the attack caused no injuries, it was the first time a rocket has flown so far into Israel, signaling that militants have improved the range of the primitive weapons and escalating a crisis over a captured Israeli soldier.

Before the meeting, Olmert called the strike a "major escalation" and vowed harsh retaliation.

"There will be steps taken and they will be very serious," said Cabinet Minister Yitzhak Herzog.

"There is a very broad operation here. It will continue."

Participants said the Security Cabinet authorized the army to enter densely populated residential areas, which militants often use for cover to fire rockets.

One official said Israel had no plans to reoccupy Gaza. But a second participant said the ministers approved creation of a "security zone" in northern Gaza to prevent rocket attacks, raising the possibility of an extended presence in the area. Israel maintained a small strip in southern Lebanon for 18 years before withdrawing in 2000.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying a formal statement would be released later.

Israel launched its offensive into Gaza last week after Palestinian militants kidnapped an Israeli soldier during a brazen attack on a military outpost. The army has been operating in Gaza, but has avoided sending troops into the strip's dense cities. Wednesday's rocket attack changed the equation.

"As far as I'm concerned, the people of (northern towns) Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya can start packing," said Zeev Boim, a senior minister in the Security Cabinet.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli aircraft targeted the Palestinian Interior Ministry for the second time in a week, the Israeli military said. Witnesses said missiles hit the main structure and damaged a building next to the ministry. Rescue workers said five people were wounded.

John McCain, a Tale of Two DimWitties

Philip Baruth at Vermont Daily Briefing has some words to say... er.. type.. about our favorite (?!?) schizoid pol, John McCain:

The Fourth of July should be a day for family and flags and hot dogs. If there’s anything you don’t want on the Fourth, it’s a case of the political dry-heaves from a NY Times chin-puller about a guy you once respected, a long time ago — Arizona Senator John McCain.

And yet, this Times piece will do the trick — if you’ve got the nerve.

Jim Rutenberg and Adam Nagourney trace McCain’s subtle and not so subtle movements toward the Bush camp, beginning back during the bad old days of the 2004 election. Bush was in trouble with Independents — McCain’s people. And McCain’s name was synonymous with Satan in the Deep South — Bush’s folks.

Mutual butt-smooching ensued (see disturbing iconic NY Times photo in facing column).

But what really gives the piece that extra, gut-churning quality is the particular way McCain now speaks of Bush. There’s a deliberately sentimental, emotional quality to his language. Here McCain talks about his personal mission: bucking up a Commander-in-Chief mired in bad poll numbers.

“Behind the scenes, during a month in which he repeatedly came to Mr. Bush’s public defense, Mr. McCain called the president to offer words of support, he recounted in an interview.

“‘I said, ‘Look, hang on, things are bad,’ Mr. McCain said. ‘I said, ‘I’m proud of the job you are doing, and I wanted you to know that I will continue to do what I can to help.’

“‘I’ve tried, when his numbers went down, to be more supportive and outspoken, because I’d love to pick him up,’ Mr. McCain said.

I’d love to pick him up.

Vermont Blogging

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North Korea, Weapons, and The Different Tune We Sing

Remember when our belubbed leader lied to us that Saddam Hussein had a weapon capable of reaching the West coast of the U.S. as part of the fictional rationale for going to war with Iraq?

Well, now we're hearing the same thing about North Korea. But, interestingly, Mr. Bush isn't threatening to go in there.

Why? Well, it's probably pretty clear, I think. North Korea's nutcase president (yes, they have an evil Dick-tator, too) may have an army that is largely starving, but we'd be opening up one HUGE can of whoop-ass if we decided to go in there.

No military person who has gone on the record thinks we'll do very well at all if we decide to engage North Korea, a country where so many are starving that many try to escape into the worst parts of China where they are badly treated).

Unfortunately, American history is replete with unbalances in our responses to various countries. For example, Israel can break any sanction and all we do is pat them on the back and send another check to the right-wingers in charge. Khaddafy of Libya is now our bestest friend despite his bloody history.

But I think it bears noting that Bush isn't going to push the envelope with any country that could seriously harm us. The one exception to this might be Iran where Bush's chutzpah could lead to an untold number of deaths on either side and yet more indication to Muslims that the Bushies are fighting a war of theocracy (masking a war on oil resources and who controls them). I do think the possibility strongly exists that Bush will take us into Iran which would be a mistake of monumental proportions and will make Iraq and Afghanistan look like a tough day at the studio making a high budget war film.


Now We're Stealing Mexico's Elections?

Story from Greg Palast.

A Real Patriot

John Aravosis (of AmericaBlog) talks about what a real patriot is vs. the fake, sleazy Karl Rove/Ken Mehlman/Bush/Cheney type. Watch it here.

Bush Friends Fading Fast

My heart bleeds. It really does. Oh wait, sorry... that's not blood but salsa. My bad.

From the wires:

President Bush's stalwart foreign friends are fading fast.

Most of the leaders who defied criticism at home to stand with him on Iraq and win his friendship are no longer players on the world stage, or are on their way out. And it was a small band of brothers to begin with.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair' name has said he'll step down before the next national election and is coming under increasing pressure from his own party to do it sooner. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid a farewell visit to the United States last week. He is leaving office in September.

Italy's Silvio Berlusconi resigned in early May after his party's election losses. Spain's Jose Maria Aznar was earlier forced out of office, the first casualty of supporting Bush on Iraq.

"It can be a little lonely at the top. And to have stalwart friends like Koizumi or John Howard in Australia or Prime Minister Blair matters a lot," said Michael Green, a former Bush national security aide.

Koizumi will be especially missed, Green said. Bush played host to the Japanese leader at the White House on Thursday, and then took Koizumi — an unabashed Elvis Presley fan — to the home of the rock-and-roll king, Graceland, in Memphis on Friday.

Soon after the 9/11 attacks, "Koizumi would send handwritten notes. You know, `Hang in there.'" The notes "probably counted for a lot" with Bush, said Green, as did Koizumi's support on Iraq even though the war was unpopular with the Japanese.

That leaves Howard. Australia has around 1,320 troops in Iraq and the Middle East and Howard has repeatedly said Australia will remain in Iraq for as long as its troops are needed — or until the Iraqi government asks them to withdraw — despite widespread public opposition in Australia to the war.

Newer leaders, particularly those in Europe, have seen the political penalties paid by those who stood too close to Bush — and have been more reluctant to embrace him so openly. One exception is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has visited the White House twice this year. She and Bush seemed to hit it off, even though they had some differences. Bush, en route to a summit of world leaders in Russia this month, will stop to see the old East Germany where Merkel grew up.

Goodwill that flowed to the United States right after the Sept. 11 attacks has long been offset by growing opposition to the war in Iraq and to Bush's foreign policy leadership, polls show.
A May poll by the Pew Research Center shows Bush's ratings and confidence in him to do the right thing on foreign affairs to be slipping ever lower in Europe — even at a time of growing apparent consensus with European allies on efforts to restrict the nuclear programs of
Iran and North Korea.