Monday, October 31, 2005

Cartoon of the Day


*Mike Lukovich Posted by Picasa

Scalito is the Pick

Third Circuit Judge Samuel Alito, Jr., aka "Scalito" or "Scalia Light," is apparently to be named as the replacement for the Supreme Court opening. I would have put him on my top 3 list of worst choices.

However, those who call him Scalito are off target. Although he is judicially akin to Justice Antonin Scalia in his ultra-conservative, anti-choice views, he's not as nasty. See a 2003 Legal Intelligncer article on Alito The Mild-Mannered Scalia, which describes Alito and a number of his important rulings.

Read it and weep.

As an aside, Trent Lott said that he wanted the President to pick the best "Man, Woman or Minority" that he could find for the court opening. Question of the Day: Which is Alito?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Man Wouldn't Second Guess Himself Like This

With all of the focus on Libby's legal difficulties, the withdrawal of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers has not received the attention that it deserved.

She speaks honestly about her lack of qualifications on this SNL skit (via Crooks & Liars).

Secrecy, Spin & Lies

Scheduling the announcement of the Libby Indictment on Friday has led to a cornucopia of news articles and blogs on the meaning and impact of the criminal investigation on the Bush Administration. You could have spent the week-end reading various versions of the Plame Leak scandal, dissecting its meaning from one end of the political spectrum to another. For me, bloggers firedoglake and TalkLeft provide the perfect detailed combination of news review and gossip to sate my need to stay up to date on the latest.

In the press, two articles, the NYTimes' Frank Rich, One Step Closer to the Big Enchilada (found at Truthout), and Dick Polman, the Political Analyst for the Inquirer, in Libby prosecution puts justification for war on trial, provide the in-depth review of the situation.

Rich leads with a comparison to Watergate:

"To believe that the Bush-Cheney scandals will be behind us anytime soon you'd have to believe that the Nixon-Agnew scandals peaked when G. Gordon Liddy and his bumbling band were nailed for the Watergate break-in. But Watergate played out for nearly two years after the gang that burglarized Democratic headquarters was indicted by a federal grand jury; it even dragged on for more than a year after Nixon took 'responsibility' for the scandal, sacrificed his two top aides and weathered the indictments of two first-term cabinet members. In those ensuing months, America would come to see that the original petty crime was merely the leading edge of thematically related but wildly disparate abuses of power that Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, would name 'the White House horrors.'"

Rich notes issues related to the Plame Leak and other pre-War intelligence failures and cover-ups that are just surfacing. He adds:

"There are many other mysteries to be cracked, from the catastrophic, almost willful failure of the Pentagon to plan for the occupation of Iraq to the utter ineptitude of the huge and costly Department of Homeland Security that was revealed in all its bankruptcy by Katrina. There are countless riddles, large and small. Why have the official reports on detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo spared all but a single officer in the chain of command? Why does Halliburton continue to receive lucrative government contracts even after it's been the focus of multiple federal inquiries into accusations of bid-rigging, overcharging and fraud? Why did it take five weeks for Pat Tillman's parents to be told that their son had been killed by friendly fire, and who ordered up the fake story of his death that was sold relentlessly on TV before then?"

"These questions are just a representative sampling. It won't be easy to get honest answers because this administration, like Nixon's, practices obsessive secrecy even as it erects an alternative reality built on spin and outright lies."

Polman comes at it from a different angle. As he put it:

"The Bush administration's rationale for war is now officially on trial. . . . This case is about the credibility of the war architects who pushed to invade Iraq while assailing dissenters who questioned the evidence."

Polman highlights the will to war by Cheney and Libby that began during the first Bush presidency until the war became the reality, along with the push to punish any who dared to stand in the way.

Each article exposes the Administration's devotion to secrecy, spin and lies, and the adverse consequences from that which are unfolding on a daily basis, which is ultimately the story that needs to be told.

Cartoon of the Day


*R. J. Matson, NY Observer Posted by Picasa

The Silence Was Deafening

As I mentioned in Thomas is a Terror, I greatly admire Helen Thomas (and not just because she's Lebanese).

I think Helen Thomas personifies what it means to be a journalist. Thomas is one of the few reporters that has been critical of the Bush administration. She has condemned the Patriot Act and criticized many of Bush's domestic and international policies. She also called the Iraq war "a violation of international policy under any circumstance," and said it is "immoral."

I also believe that the fact that she is in the minority today contributed to the decline in the press, both as to the loss of credibility and the loss of readership. This is a topic that is of interest to me, since my original career plan was to be a journalist. It is also a subject that I want to devote more time to in the near future.

In the meantime, Thomas was interviewed by Bill Maher on Real Time and the video can be seen at: Crooks and Liars. It's very good.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

God would definitely be an Athetist, Part 2

An NBC affiliate in Florida reported that Religious beliefs trump hurricane relief. Although residents lined up for miles to receive food and water at the distribution point:

"The volunteer group running a supply center doesn't like the company that donated the water, so they decided not to give it to those in line for help."

"Twenty-two pallets of the canned water, distributed free by beer company Anheuser-Busch, bears the company's label – and members of the Southern Baptist Convention refused to hand it out to those in need."

Gotta love those "ABC" (Anything But Christ-like) Christians. I suppose that denying food and water to those in need is part of God's plan to teach Christianity. Vonnegut said it best (See: Woman of God).

Cartoon of the Day


*Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Truth

"The truth is the engine of our judicial system. And if you compromise the truth, the whole process is lost."

-Patrick Fitzgerald, 10/28/05

Ah yes, I couldn't have said it better myself. In other words, without truth, there is no justice (or peace).

Friday, October 28, 2005

Cartoon of the Day


*Mark Streeter, Savannah Morning News Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Woman of God

Obviously, it's not just the Catholic Church that can't get it's act together. Under the conservative or fundamental definition of the word, Christianity does not mean "Christ-like" or this just would not occur.

Yesterday's Philly Inquirer notes that Defrocked minister gets final hearing:

"For the third tempestuous time in a year, a court date is nearing for Germantown minister Beth Stroud. . . . [She is] the United Methodist pastor defrocked for violating a church ban on 'self-avowed, practicing homosexuals,' then reinstated on procedural grounds by a church appeals panel."

"Tomorrow morning, in what will be the final step in her high-profile case, the denomination's top court will convene in a Houston church to hear arguments. Its ruling is expected within several days."

"If she prevails, Stroud said yesterday, she will don her pastor's robes again and resume duties as associate pastor at First United Methodist Church of Germantown [FUMCOG]."

Should she lose, she said, she will remain a lay minister on the Germantown church staff. . . . In December, a jury of pastors convicted Stroud of 'engaging in practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings' and ordered her to be defrocked."

"In April, however, an appeals panel set aside the verdict. Its surprise ruling held that the trial court had improperly disallowed some constitutional issues and that United Methodist governing bodies needed to clarify some of the key concepts in the same-sex debate."

FUMCOG is located in my neighborhood. I understand that she is universally loved by her parishioners and considered to be the epitome of the kind of Minister that exemplifies the Churches teachings and values. A friend of ours is one of her legal advisors in this process. However, things do not look promising for the outcome of her appeal. The paper reports that:

"The council is considered solidly conservative, and it is likely to reinstate the trial court's decision to defrock Stroud, according to Mark Tooley, who directs the Methodist project for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative advocacy group in Washington."

As Kurt Vonnegut said, "If God were alive today, he would have to be an atheist." Amen.

Breaking News

This just in. No, not that Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination for Supreme Court (that's so this morning).

The news is that there is no news to report on the Plame Leak case. For a truly humorous take on this, the Daily Show provides it's version of Breaking News!

As the Ladies who Lunch already know (via The Washington Note), word is that Office of the Special Counsel has signed a lease this week for expanded office space across the street at 1401 New York Avenue, NW. This follows news from the Note that Fitzgerald's Office has started a new website: US Department of Justice, Office of Special Counsel.

Also, if you're really into the gossip end of the story, The Raw Story is reporting that at least one indictment has already been obtained and that the "prosecutor has obtained new information from officials targeted in the leak probe, who are now interested in entering into plea discussions . . . [and they] have agreed to enter into last-minute plea negotiations with Fitzgerald in exchange for providing testimony that could result in criminal charges being brought against additional officials inside the White House."

Sounds like Fitzgerald has become fond of D.C. and wants to hang around for a while longer. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Not so re: the new digs for Fitzgerald. See Retraction: The Washington Note. I guess that's why they call it gossip.

Cartoon of the Day


*Pat Oliphant Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Criminalization of Politics

As always, the Republican Party has a handy set of “talking points” for every occasion. In anticipation of the Plame leak indictments, in Stepford fashion, the party is preparing a response. Kay Bailey Hutchinson recently provided a sample when she spoke out against the dangers of indictments based upon a "perjury technicality," which is a variation of the "criminalization of politics" theme. (See video at Crooks and Liars).

The Democrats may be accused of the “Criminalization of Politics,” but the Republicans have mastered the art of the “De-criminalization of Hypocrisy.”

Compare Hutchinson’s words, found at TalkBlue, now:

"I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation were not a waste of time and dollars." -Kay Bailey Hutchinson this week on Meet the Press

With her words from 1999, when another Administration was facing perjury charges:

"The two Articles of Impeachment before the Senate in this proceeding do in fact accuse the President of committing three actual crimes, 'perjury before the grand jury,' ''obstruction of justice,' and 'witness tampering,' that meet the requirements for conviction of an indicted defendant in a criminal case brought under Federal law. The House Managers and Counsel for the President reviewed those laws extensively. Thus, in order to find the President 'guilty' under either Article, this Senator must conclude that all of the statutory prerequisites to conviction are present that would be required to convict the President of one or more of those crimes, if this proceeding were, instead, the prosecution of felony criminal indictments in a United States District Court under Federal law. I will not demean our Constitution or the office of the Presidency of the United States by endorsing the felony-plus standard....Lying is a moral wrong. Perjury is a lie told under oath that is legally wrong."

See the difference? If so, then you’ll no doubt discern the fine points of the distinction between the comments of John Hinderaker, "That Was Now, This Is Then," found at Is that Legal?.

Blogger firedoglake has also gathered a compendium of quotes from various Moral Mavens reflecting on Clinton and his crime against humanity that may not match their words today.

Finally, Bill Maher had his own take on the medley of the “Criminalization of Politics” on Real Time (Video at Crooks and Liars) that is right on target.

Cartoon of the Day


*Bruce Plante Posted by Picasa

2,000 and Counting

We've hit a "Milestone" in the Iraq War. 2,000 American soldiers have died. According to the New York Times, "The war here has claimed about 2,000 American service members, but in the cold calculus of the killing, far more Iraqis have been left dead. The figures vary widely, with Iraqi and American officials reluctant to release even the most incomplete of tallies."

It is truly amazing to me that we have so marginalized the very people that we are supposedly rescuing that we do not even track their deaths. However, "[i]n one count, compiled by Iraq Body Count, a United States-based nonprofit group that tracks the civilian deaths using news media reports, the total of Iraqi dead since the American-led invasion is 26,690 to 30,051."

As I mentioned in this post, The Ghouls are Out, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) will be holding vigils this evening at various locations. You can get information here: Not One More Death. Not One More Dollar. : Wage Peace.

Also, the NYT has posted pictures of the fallen here: A Look at Those Who Died in Iraq.

(Picture credit: AMERICAblog)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Ghouls are Out

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), created in 1917 as an arm of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and has long been committed to the principles of nonviolence and justice. AFSC is planning its latest peace vigil Not One More Death. Not One More Dollar: Wage Peace Campaign, to call attention to the war in Iraq:

"Soon we'll be reaching another horrific milestone in the war in Iraq - the death of the 2,000th U.S. service member. AFSC, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, and Iraq Veterans Against the War are calling for people across the U.S. to stand up and say that the needless killing of U.S. troops and Iraqis must stop and that the resources funding this war are needed for other things."

"Events to mark the 2,000th reported U.S. military death will range from candlelight vigils to public actions that illustrate the size of the death toll."

The Daou Report reports that Philly native Michele Malkin also points out the upcoming observance on her blog, with a post entitled "The Ghouls of the Left," in which she says that it's "sick" that the AFSC "support[s] the troops . . .by partying over their deaths."

Malkin has been a columnist in the Philadelphia Daily News (she may have been dropped, see: Philadelphia Will Do), but I normally don't read her. She is of the genre of "all rant, no substance," so I don't waste my time.

My daughter attends a Friends school. We want to try to instill moral ethics and values and want her to be exposed to those values at home and as an intregal part of her education. The Quakers epitomize the type of values that most people would want to aspire to, including the concept that all people have intrinsic worth and principles of non-violence.

To imply, as Malkin does, that the intentions of the AFSC are other than a manifestation of their mission is inexcusable. To suggest that they are celebrating death or to denigrate a mission to promote peace is what is "sick." The basic belief of the Quakers is that there is an element of God's spirit in every human soul. With Malkin, it's well hidden.

Malkin not only should be ignored, she should be shunned.

Lucky Sperm Club

Time for the Sunday morning comics:

Arianna Huffington (of The Huffington Post) was interviewed on Real Time with Bill Maher about the Plame case. Good overview of the case, including the Judy Miller/NYT angle.

Best line: Both George W. Bush and Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., publisher of the Times, are members of the Lucky Sperm Club. Birth, not brains, was the biggest qualification for the jobs they now hold.

For another take on this, you can also see the Al Franken interview on Letterman, discussing the criminal aspects of the case.

Franken: "George H. W. Bush, the president's father, was the head of the CIA, and he has said that outing a CIA agent is treason. So basically, what it looks like is going to happen, is that Libby and Karl Rove are going to be executed. Yes, and I don't know how I feel about it because I'm basically against the death penalty."

Letterman's response: "The real crime is that there's an adult man walking around in the current administration named Scooter."

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Brainless

Is there life after the brain is removed? We may soon find out. In many cases, the lack of brain activity is the definition of death.

Based upon the word in the press, we may see whether Bush is brain dead without Rove. The Sunday Times - Online, in Prosecutor closes in on Bush "brain" considers the question, speculating that Rove will be gone in a few days.

Now I know why these guys are opposed to euthanasia. Without his brain, Bush would be a goner for sure. Now he'll just be brainless.

Also noted in the Times article, as an aside, is that Harriet Miers may join Rove in the great beyond. She may withdraw her name on the pretext that she can't disclose confidential White House information and advice, which would otherwise show that she isn't a total bozo.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Absolut Corruption

It's Friday night, so it's time to relax, sit down & have a drink. Cheers!!

Things look like they may be getting interesting for the Bush boys. Dan Froomkin has what is probably the most ominous sign yet. His daily White House Briefing has been a font of info on the Bush Administration and the CIA leak leaks. Today's BIG news is that Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has just launched his own brand-new Web site.

As Froomkin says "Could it be that he's getting ready to release some new legal documents? Like, maybe, some indictments? It's certainly not the action of an office about to fold up its tents and go home."

The NYT reported this morning, in Cover-Up Issue Is Seen as Focus in Leak Inquiry, Target Letters most likely were issued: "Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say."

Doesn't say if anyone else is on the list, but some have said there could be as many as 22 indictments (See Phillybits). Of course, the big question is whether Cheney may get caught. Cheney was without a doubt the man behind the curtain, a Machiavellian Wizard of Oz, but who knows if he can remain behind the screen.

Inquiring minds may want to know: Can a sitting Vice President be indicted? The answer comes from none other than then-Solicitor General Robert Bork, as described in this Daily Kos post. Oh, the poetic justice!!

If you haven't been closely following every detail of the scandal (unlike some obsessed people who shall go nameless: me), and want to catch up over the week-end, a great place to get a survey of the articles is firedoglake and The Huffington Post.

Since we won't know the answers until sometime next week, in the meantime enjoy your drink & the delicious gossip!

(Picture credit to 2 Political Junkies, Two Pittsburgh Bloggers)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Bush Whacked Us too

Let me see if I understand this correctly.

According to this New York Daily News article, "Bush whacked Rove on CIA leak," Bush has known about Karl Rove's role in the CIA leak for at least two years, and was extremely annoyed about the way the whole leak episode was handled. What it means, however, is that Bush was not just troubled that the leak occurred, but that Rove and his cronies were caught. Josh Marshall also explores this issue further at Talking Points Memo.

In other words, Bush has long known that Rove and other senior officials were involved in the CIA scandal (it's just unclear exactly what he knew and when he knew it). Compare this to Bush's pledge in June 2004, when the president clearly said that he'd fire anyone involved in the leak of Plame's name. There was a shift in July 2005, when it became know that officials in the Administration were involved in the CIA leak, with the new threshold being that if someone "committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration." Implicit in this (and explicit in several instances) was the fact that Bush said that he had no knowledge of the leakers at that time and wasn't sure their identity would ever be uncovered. Josh Marshall has some of the earlier quotes by Bush in his discussion on this issue at Talking Points Memo, and concludes that Bush most likely knew about Rove's involvement when he made those statements.

Terry Neal of the Washington Post reminisced about the words he recalled hearing during his coverage of Bush's campaign in 2000, noting that Bush repeated the mantra of a "promise to restore honor and dignity to the White House" if elected. In Bush Should Live Up to 2000 Pledge, Neal opined that "Bush's speech resonated with many voters, and the themes of honesty and integrity helped propel him to the White House in one of the closest elections in decades."

They were words, just words, devoid of meaning for Bush. He wasn't honest in 2000 when he spread his campaign propaganda touting "honesty and integrity" and he's not honest today with his political propaganda, whether its talking about Rove, the war in Iraq and almost any other issue of import. Sad to say this about a President of the U.S., but "honesty and integrity" are about the last words I'd apply to him. Try liar. It's short, sweet & to the point. Most of all, it's a better fit.

All Spin Zone

Per the Salon review of the new Colbert Report, "Steven Colbert celebrates the era of ignorance, taking his bloviating journalist to a glorious new high with his "Daily Show" spinoff."

Here are a few highlights of the new show (via One Good Move): The Colbert Report and Gravitas.

(Note: Links updated)

Here's Jon-nie!

He's back. And Monday's show is a must see. The coverage of the scripted conference with the troops is hysterical. TV Magic

Indicted

Hot off the Press!! Big news reported by OneGoodMove:

"Washington DC— Americans awoke today to the news that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby had been indicted, while George Bush and Dick Cheney were named as unindicted co-conspirator. Federal prosecutor Fitzgerald, issued wide ranging indictments including, obstruction of justice, perjury, arrogance, hubris, cross-dressing, and pooping on the White House lawn. The Capitol flag is flying at half staff, not since Watergate and Penisgate has the country been in such turmoil. Later in the morning we heard reports confirming that Judith Miller, a critical source in the investigation, was spending her day with Martha Stewart learning to bake a yellow cake. Judith's paper the New York Times explained Judy was baking the cake for some old friends who were going from the White House to the Big House. It was not immediately clear how the indictments would effect the country, Democratic Whip Harry Reid said not so much, little was getting done anyway. Karl Rove, arrested at his home, temporarily escaped from custody when he presented a get out of jail free card signed by Supreme Court Justice Scalia. The Justice when questioned said he thought it a harmless joke when Karl asked him to sign 200 of the cards. Impeachment is the talk of the town. Unnamed White House sources, will they never learn, are reporting that George is hitting the bottle again. He's spending the day watching 1950's reruns on the big screen and mumbling I love you Lucy, I love you."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Fear Frenzy

Bush definitely plays on the "fear frenzy" Be afraid, be very afraid.

Fox News (a/k/a Faux News) works in tandem with Bush, with it's News Ticker, promoting Fear. Bill Maher exposes this on his latest Real Time. Be Afraid, but watch anyway. Fox Facts.

Cartoon of the Day


*Tom Toles, Washington Post Posted by Picasa

Where do we go from here?

Bob Herbert's NYT column, Get It Together, Democrats (Via Truthout), correctly counsels the Democrats to get it together, decide where the Party stands on the issues as a party & disseminate it to the public in a clear, coherent manner. As Herbert put it, "What Democrats have to do is get over their timidity, look deep into their own souls, discover what they truly believe and then tell it like it is. . . .Democrats are still agonizing over whether to say what they truly believe or try to present themselves as a somewhat lighter version of the G.O.P."

Basta, already. The time has come to decide where we stand and stand up and say it. Say it loud and clear. After we have the party celebrating the decline & fall of the other party, of course.

Recipe for Seniors

Switching topics, here's the latest (see earlier post: Sports tip) from my brother Best recipe for seniors: Keep fit, eat right, don't smoke. By recipe, we're not talking cooking, we're talking sports. Both of my least favorite topics.

Anyway, he's lucky he didn't say my sister needs to read this. I guess he knows better.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Cartoon of the Day


*Pat Oliphant, Washington Post Posted by Picasa

The Truth Never Mattered

Although the headline of this Bloomberg News article, 'Cheney May Be Entangled in CIA Leak Investigation, People Say", may provide a schadenfreude moment, the body of article itself does not live up to the teaser headline. Rather, it disappointingly says that there is no indication that Fitzgerald is considering criminal charges against Cheney.

On the other hand, as Frank Rich observed in his column yesterday, It's Bush-Cheney, Not Rove-Libby, "What makes Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation compelling, whatever its outcome, is its illumination of a conspiracy that was not at all petty: the one that took us on false premises into a reckless and wasteful war in Iraq. That conspiracy was instigated by Mr. Rove's boss, George W. Bush, and Mr. Libby's boss, Dick Cheney."

It's true. Whatever the outcome may be of the Plame Investigation, it provided the forum to reveal the truth about the lraq War and the fraud perpetrated by the Administration.

Rich aptly points out that "the truth never mattered. The Bush-Cheney product rolled out . . . had been bought by Congress, the press and the public. The intelligence and facts had been successfully fixed to sell the war . . . ." (Emphasis mine).

Ahh yes, that says it all, and as I would add, there's no way to have justice or peace without truth. Let's hope truth will out, so that there will be justice in this case.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Cartoon of the Day


*Brian AdcockPosted by Picasa

Let there be Life

In honor of Sunday, I thought I'd focus on religion, with a few God quotes -- by way of Jon Stewart (The Daily Orange):

"Everyone always says God said, 'Let there be life,'" [Jon] Stewart said, speaking God's voice in a grandiose, official fashion. "Really? Or did He just say, 'Shit, this is due tomorrow.'"

Stewart also thinks God is on the side of the Democrats:

"But to give some credit to the Democrats, Jesus will return soon in all his rapture," Stewart said, again intertwining religion with his speech. "And when that happens, the saved will ascend to heaven, and the damned will go to hell. And it is at this point that I believe the Democrats will regain control of the Congress."

(Via reyonthehill)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday Funny

David Letterman's Top Ten List, "I had a Hammer" (Via Crooks & Liars, is too funny.

Letterman must have really enjoyed the Bush PPO (Propaganda Photo Op) that was on the Today Show's Habitat for Humanity segment. Letterman has another piece on the same topic & hits the Nail on the Head: Choking the Hammer (Via One Good Move).

Thomas is a Terror

For those who missed the spectacle of yesterday's Propaganda Photo-Op, a good video trilogy collection of the McClellan/Bush script is posted at One Good Move.

A side note to the Iraq troop video event occurred during the Daily Press Briefing, when an obviously irritated Scott McClellan remarked that Helen Thomas opposes the "War on Terror." Why? Because she had the temerity to question what Bush meant by saying that the U.S. won't leave Iraq until we have "total victory." See the Huffington Post: The White House Attacks A Reporter. A transcript of the Question/Answer session can be found at Editor & Publisher: Scott McClellan Says Helen Thomas Opposes 'War on Terrorism' (A video of the exchange can be found at Crooks and Liars).

Helen Thomas, the dean of the White House Press Corp, has been a thorn in the side of the Bush Administration on Iraq (and many other issues) for many years. Not surprisingly, she went from the "First Lady of Journalism" to being marginalized by the Bush bunch, because she asks hard questions and does not suffer fools gladly (she called Bush the worst President ever).

I have a special fondness for her because she is also of Lebanese descent (last year, she was called an "old Arab" by that bigot, Ann Coulter), so I was particularly affronted by McClellan's comments. His statement was particularly offensive, since Thomas was one of the few journalists to inquire about the Iraq war, when other reporters stood by mutely, letting the Administration mislead us into war. She's been called "cranky," for her tenacious questions, but she could also be called right.

Cartoon of the Day


*Chris Britt Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Gilded Age

In differently contexts, two journalists that I greatly respect referred to the government and the current era as the 21st Century “Gilded Age.”

Bill Moyers gave a speech at the Society of Environmental Journalists, How Do We Cover Penguins and the Politics of Denial?, but his speech encompassed more than issues of the dangerous environmental landscape today. Moyers began by providing a historical perspective of the evolution of the environmental movement in this country, with an analysis of the dire situation that exists today based upon the policies undertaken by the Bush Administration, noting, “Our government and corporate elites have . . . set out to eviscerate just about every significant gain of the past generation.” Moyers then turned to the central underlying philosophy of the reigning party and the powerful forces behind the government, which transcends the environmental movement. His words provide a clear-cut distillation of the conflict:

“So if the environmental movement is pronounced dead, it won't be from self-inflicted wounds. We don't blame slavery on the slaves, the Trail of Tears on the Cherokees, or the Srebrenica massacre on the bodies in the grave. No, the lethal threat to the environmental movement comes from the predatory power of money and the pathological enmity of rightwing ideology.”

“Theodore Roosevelt warned a century ago of the subversive influence of money in politics. He said the central fact in his time was that big business had become so dominant it would chew up democracy and spit it out. The power of corporations, he said, had to be balanced with the interest of the general public.”

“They say denial is not a river in Egypt. It is, however, the governing philosophy in Washington. The President's contempt for science - for evidence that mounts everyday - is mind boggling. Here is a man who was quick to launch a 'preventative war' against Iraq on faulty intelligence and premature judgment but who refuses to take preventive action against a truly global menace about which the scientific evidence is overwhelming.”

“The Gilded Age has returned with a vengeance. Washington again is a spectacle of corruption. The promise of America has been subverted to crony capitalism, sleazy lobbyists, and an arrogance of power matched only by an arrogance of the present that acts as if there is no tomorrow. But there is a tomorrow.”

Sidney Blumenthal pens an exceptional piece, the Fall of the Rovean Empire? in Salon (reprinted in Truthout). In his article, Blumenthal pens a concise history of the “Rovean Empire.” He then views the current state of affairs with Rove, and wonders whether the decline and fall of the Empire is here. Although the subject is completely different from that addressed by Moyer, Blumenthal also observes the existing state of the political landscape:

“Some have referred to this model as crony capitalism; others compare the waste, extravagance and greed to the Gilded Age. Call it 21st century Republicanism.”

“The party runs the state. Politics drives economics. Important party officials are also economic operators. They thrive off their connections and rise in the party apparatus as a result of their self-enrichment. . . . An oligarchy atop the party allocates favors. Behind the ideological slogans about the ‘free market’ and ‘liberty,’ the oligarchy creates oligopolies. Businesses must pay to play. They must kick back contributions to the party, hire its key people and support its program.”

“For decades, conservatives created a movement to capture the Republican Party and remake it in their image. Under Bush, Republicanism as a system dominates.”

Blumenthal believes that tomorrow has arrived for the Republican Party. He concludes:

“With astonishing arrogance and bravado, the Republican oligarchy wired politics and business so that they would always win. But in believing that they actually possessed absolute power they have overreached. Now their project teeters on the brink.”

Last Request

Teddy Roosevelt Heller is my kinda guy. His obit in the Chicago Tribune requests:

"In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans."

(via: AMERICAblog)

Cartoon of the Day


*Ed Stein, Rocky Mountain News Posted by Picasa

The tease

The Daily Show is off this week. For fans who will miss the nightly non-news show and its anchor, the Guardian recently ran a profile of Jon Stewart: Such a tease.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Could It Be?

A while ago, I posted a note about Cheney's recent absence & the rumors that engendered (See Pick a Dick (Cheney, that is)). My prediction (read that: Hope) was that he was about to be indicted.

Check this out from the Huffington Post:

News Orgs Working On Story Tying Cheney Into Plamegate. . . Developing. . . . .


The other speculation, not as juicy, but just as gossipy, comes from Philadelphia Daily New's Blogger, Attytood. In Fun with Dick and George, Will Bunch suggests that there's a Family Feud going on at the old White House.

Cartoon of the Day


*Tony Auth, Washington Post Posted by Picasa

Mysterious

Busy times, so not much blogtime.

At least I can provide a little humor. No Jon Stewart this week, so I'll have to fill in with Bill Maher -- not that that's a bad thing (with help from One Good Move).

To start with, there's a new perfume you'll want to add to your collection. It's called Mysterious.

Then, for some fun, it's Goober & Bea, featured in Maher's New Rules.

Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

McCarthyism Reborn

My husband mentioned hearing an interesting interview on Marty Moss-Coane's Radio Times, so I listened to it last night on-line (I know, it’s pretty bad when that’s your Friday evening entertainment). Dave Davies of the Philadelphia Daily News interviewed historian Haynes Johnson on his new book “The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism.”

The just published book tells the story of Senator Joseph McCarthy, and compares that era to the political milieu of our own time, when fear and anxiety drive American attitudes and behavior. The fascinating interview highlights the McCarthy era and its enduring influence on American politics. Johnson depicts McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusade, examining the roles both of Eisenhower and others who condoned McCarthy’s actions, and of foes such as Edward R. Murrow. I have read books on McCarthy before, but he provides a new twist by showing parallels between that era and today, arguing that once again our civil liberties and our Constitution are at risk, as we balance the need for national security against our rights to personal freedom.

The only failing, at least in the interview, was his disinclination to “name names.” He said that there was no McCarthy-like figure today; instead, McCarthyism thrives. I can think of several people who would qualify as McCarthyites of today, starting with Karl Rove.

Even so, the interview is definitely worth listening to and I put the book on my reading list.

Quick, Dial 9/11

Speaking of Terror, the Daily Show's perspective is priceless! Quick, Dial 9/11, excerpts the President's major talk on Terrorism. As Jon Stewart said:

"Well, the President gave a speech today. It's been a bad few months for the White House. Katrina, Iraq, Tom Delay, Plamegate, nothing seems to be going their way. When that happens, there's only one remedy. . ."

Cartoon of the Day


*Ann Telnaes, CBS News

Friday, October 07, 2005

Top 10 and Top 2

I'm usually not awake late enough to see David Letterman, so I don't often get to see his Top 10 Picks. This one, the "Top 10 Signs that your Supreme Court Pick is Not Qualified," is funny. Check it out (via Crooks and Liars).

Of course, if by chance I am awake past 11 PM, I am definitely watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Here's a double Letterman treat, interviewing Jon Stewart (via One Good Move).

Enjoy!

Cartoon of the Day


*Daryl Cagle Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bill's a Bigot

The "Bill Bennett" topic is one that I have been thinking about for some time (even before the latest controversy erupted over his racist rant). That is, there are two aspects to this issue. One relates to the "merits" of the Bennett matter itself. The other, which is more troublesome, concerns the increasingly prevalent environment in which this sort of screed flourishes.

Bennett's recent comments, and the various reactions/defenses of his supporters, are contemptuous, prejudiced tirades that should be dismissed as such. William Saletan provides (as though a refutation were needed) a point by point response to Bennett in Slate's The bigotry of Bill Bennett's low expectations. See also: ARE Blacks A Criminal Race? Surprising Statistics, by Van Jones at the Huffington Post.

However, what is almost more outrageous than his repulsive statement is the reaction to the reaction. No one can seriously claim surprise that this type of inflammatory rhetoric would have anything but a rejoinder of shock and revulsion. Yet Bennett supporters disingenuously try to argue that any discourse dealing with race is met with an overreaction by minorities and liberals, preventing legitimate discussions of such subjects.

Two Blogs at Daily Kos do an outstanding job refuting that assertion. As one pointed out in Brad DeLong Steps Up:

“Forget what was in Bennett's heart -- the usage was not necessary to Bennett's point, and it was extremely hurtful and harmful. . . . Now, if Bennett were actually discussing the issue of African-American crime rates and the like, perhaps some CLEARER formulation of his statement might have made sense.” Armando says that such conversation can occur, noting that "Every single day I write critical things of any number of people - black, Latino, white, etc. But generally, I try to avoid statements that rely on stereotypical and untrue biases." In other words: slight difference in style; big difference in result.

In another post, The Power of Words, Armando inquires: “So here's my question -- how do [people] expect African-Americans to react to Bennett's statement?”

“The insensitivity demonstrated . . . to the issues of race, is, in my view, an exacerbation to the very real problems we face. The power of words, in our Brave New Anti-PC World, is dismissed. The hurt caused, the distrust fomented, is discounted.”

This leads to the second part of my post. Contrary to the view of Armando, I do believe words have been given power. In fact, in the “Brave New Anti-PC World,” words have become more powerful. Racist words, sexist words, homophobic words, words denigrating non-Christian religions. That is, abhorrent comments such as those uttered by Bennett are part of an on-going attempt by the "Anti-PC Crowd" to make it acceptable to express racist sentiments. I have noticed an increased frequency in the number and intensity of inappropriate statements lately. So much so that it suggests to me that the expressions are deliberate.


Bob Herbert's column (Subscription required) in today's NYT, echoes my sentiments (an excerpt can be found at The Ugly Face of Republican Racism).

As he said:  "When I first heard about Mr. Bennett's comments, I wondered why anyone was surprised. I've come to expect racial effrontery from big shots in the Republican Party. The G.O.P. has happily replaced the Democratic Party as a safe haven for bigotry, racially divisive tactics and strategies and outright anti-black policies."

The truth is that there was very little that was subconscious about the G.O.P.'s relentless appeal to racist whites. . . . When Democrats revolted against racism, the G.O.P. rallied to its banner.”

And rallies on.  As the extreme wing of the Republican Party exhibits its hubris, the need for “Code words” is less necessary and becomes a thing of the past.  Instead, the ability to freely express one’s “views” is encouraged.  Any resulting criticism is scoffed at as being “too PC.”  

The danger, of course, is that the more often such hate words are voiced, the more acceptable it becomes to say them.  In the end, however, this expression does not lead to tolerance or a diminution in prejudice.  It just permits bigots to vaunt their intolerance.          

Cartoon of the Day


*Jeff Danziger

Judicial Outlook

As expected, the Daily Show sums up the Miers nomination best. Harriet Part II

Best of the best: Jon Stewart observes that "White House counsellor Dan Bartlett took to every single morning show he could get his hands on to reassure the right, in code," that Harriet Miers shares Bush's "Judical outlook." Followed by a WINK, WINK from Stewart.

You can also see Part I of the Harriet Show: Harriet.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Cartoon of the Day


*Steve Kelly, Times Picayune

'White House Wives'

I was waiting for Maureen Dowd's take on Harriet Miers and she did not disappoint. You can take a peek at Edstrong.blog-city.com.

Dowd aptly observes that "W. loves being surrounded by tough women who steadfastly devote their entire lives to doting on him, like the vestal virgins guarding the sacred fire, serving as custodians for his values and watchdogs for his reputation," and describes the other women in his White House life, such as Condi Rice and Karen Hughes.

Dowd continues: "And now he has nominated his White House counsel and former personal lawyer, Harriet Miers, to a crucial swing spot on the Supreme Court. . . .But who cares whether she has no judicial experience, and that no one knows what she believes or how she would rule from a bench she's never been behind, as long as the reason her views are so mysterious is that she's subordinated them to W.'s, making him feel like the most thoughtful, farsighted he-man in the world?"

"David Frum, the former White House speechwriter and conservative commentator, reported on his blog that Ms. Miers once told him that W. was the most brilliant man she knew."

With those credentials, how can you lose? But, for the doubters, Dowd further explains:

"Bushie and Harriet share the same born-again Christian faith, which they came to in midlife, deciding to adopt Jesus Christ as their saviors."

"W. is asking for a triple leap of faith. He has faith in Ms. Miers as his lawyer and as a woman who shares his faith."

"And we're expected to have faith in his faith and her faith, and her opinions that derive from her faith that could change the balance of the court and affect women's rights for the next generation."

As Maureen Dowd says: "That's a little bit too much faith, isn't it?"

Molly Ivens, another favorite, delves into the religious angle in Christian Soldier on the High Court.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Cartoon of the Day


*Pat Oliphant

Woe is Me, say they. Who is She, I say.

Ezra Klein says the Right is ready to jump off a cliff over the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. He provides a round up of the Conservative Reaction to Miers, as does the Moderate Voice in Bush's Legal "Pit Bull" Miers Picked For Supreme Court, mostly filled with boo, hoo, hoo's.

Summing up the reactionary reaction is this from David From of the National Review: "This is the moment for which the conservative legal movement has been waiting for two decades--two decades in which a generation of conservative legal intellects of the highest ability have moved to the most distinguished heights in the legal profession. . .Yes, Democrats might have complained. But if Democrats had gone to war against a Michael Luttig or a Sam Alito or a Michael McConnell, they would have had to fight without weapons."

"There was no reason for him to choose anyone but one of these outstanding conservatives. As for the diversity argument, it just seems incredible to imagine that anybody would have criticized this president of all people for his lack of devotion to that doctrine."

This is the same David From who had this to say earlier about Mier (which was later deleted from his Blog after the announcement): "She rose to her present position by her absolute devotion to George Bush. I mentioned last week that she told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met. To flatter on such a scale a person must either be an unscrupulous dissembler, which Miers most certainly is not, or a natural follower. And natural followers do not belong on the Supreme Court of the United States."

Other than enjoying the pouting by the right, which is a short term pleasure, I don't know much of anything about Miers. Of course, the fact that she never served on the bench and has little, if any, trial experience, does not make me overjoyed about her ability. This is an extremely important position, so it should not be seen as yet another opportunity to reward a crony. Also, I'm also not hopeful about her views, despite the (over)reaction from the right.

My initial response to the nomination was best expressed by Eschaton:

"Wingnuttia is rather angry at the choice. I don't think this is because they're really concerned that she's not conservative enough for their tastes, although that's part of it. They're angry because this was supposed to be their nomination. This is was their moment. They didn't just want a stealth victory, they wanted parades and fireworks. They wanted Bush to find the wingnuttiest wingnut on the planet, fully clothed and accessorized in all the latest wingnut fashions, not just to give them their desired Court rulings, but also to publicly validate their influence and power. They didn't just want substantive results, what they wanted even more were symbolic ones. They wanted Bush to extend a giant middle finger to everyone to the left of John Ashcroft. They wanted to watch Democrats howl and scream and then ultimately lose a nasty confirmation battle. They wanted this to be their 'WE RUN THE COUNTRY AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT' moment."

UPDATE: The Left Coaster is compiling information, which will be updated on a regular basis, to answer the Question: Who is Harriet Miers?

Ike Was Right

Andy Rooney had some strong words on miliary spending during his weekly commentary on 60 Minutes (Via Crooks and Liars).

Andy says the best place to cut back spending to pay for the War in Iraq and hurricane damage is our "bloated military establishment."

"We had a great commander in WWII, Dwight Eisenhower. He became President and on leaving the White House in 1961, he said this: 'We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. …'"

"Well, Ike was right. That's just what’s happened."

The Penguin Wars

This one is for the Coven (you know who you are) a la our discussion about the movie "March of the Penguins" and the Religious Right's claim that Penguins are an example of traditional values.

Watch this September 2004 clip from the Jon Stewart show Tuxedo Junction (via One Good Move) and say: Take that!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Cartoon of the Day


* Robert Arial, The State Posted by Picasa

Starie Decisis

See Saturday Night Live's Fun House skit on Judge Roberts, Starie Decisis.

Bye Bye Bush

Hopefully, this isn't just a tease. Think Progress reports: President Bush Directly Involved In Leak Scandal (via Eschaton).

A good summary of the status of the Plame leak case can be found in this Washington Post article, Role of Rove, Libby in CIA Leak Case Clearer.

One can only hope . . .

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Dante's Circle of Hell

Yet another chapter on the Catholic Church saga.

The Raw Story's Inquisition 2005: The Vatican's bold new witch hunt, links the Philadelphia Church abuse scandal and the Pope's expected gay ban, describing similar actions of then Cardinal Ratzinger to protect a leader of Catholic youth charged with molesting dozens of the young men under his tutelage some years back. Sound familar?

Another excellent article in Political Soundoff, by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D., Philadelphia Inquirer Blows Open Another Catholic Sexual Coverup, correctly points out that "Pope Benedict XVI’s widely publicized—and strategically timed plan to purge seminaries of gays is a transparent attempt to shift blame from the corrupt, immoral Church to 'homosexuals.' The facts about pedophilia and homosexuality in no way support the pope’s initiative."

Dr. Seesholtz is right on target: "Dante reserved the lowest circle of hell—the circle of treachery—for those who violated trust. He placed quite a few priests, church leaders, and popes there. They’ll be getting lots of company . . ."

Cartoon of the Day


*Ted RallPosted by Picasa