Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Monday, January 30, 2006
"We boxed them in," one lawyer present during the strategy meetings said with pride in an interview over the weekend. This lawyer and others present who described the meeting were granted anonymity because the meetings were confidential and because the team had told its allies not to exult publicly until the confirmation vote was cast.
This quote is from an excellent article in the NYT, titled In Alito, G.O.P. Reaps Harvest Planted in '82. The entire article should be read for the insight it gives into the evolution of the conservative judicial movement.
This quote, however, was especially revealing to me. It's funny, but as the Alito nomination has progressed to its inevitable denouement, I couldn't help but think that the Republicans were sitting back gloating about the whole thing. I could almost picture them chuckling behind closed doors at the helpless spectacle of the Democrats floundering in a futile attempt to stop the "done deal" as the article refers to it.
In fact, I almost blogged about it on several occasions. I could just picture it. It had to be. The same people that believe in a "scorched earth" policy also believe in celebrating victory over the spoils. And now, my imaginary vision (nightmare?) has been confirmed.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Discussing Bush's News Conference, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, in his column Trying to Maintain Control of the State, in a State of Confusion, aptly observed:
In all, Bush uttered nearly 7,000 words in his 45-minute Q&A. But his message could be summed up with a brief phrase in his least-favorite language: L'Etat c'est moi (I am the state).
His approval of a program to eavesdrop without warrants: "As I stand here right now, I can tell the American people the program is legal," he certified.
His refusal to release photos of him with Abramoff: "They're not relevant to the investigation."
His view on congressional anti-torture legislation: "Conducting war is a responsibility in the executive branch, not the legislative branch."
His refusal to provide Congress with testimony about the federal response to Hurricane Katrina: "That's just the way it works."
Midway through this Bourbonic performance, the Los Angeles Times's James Gerstenzang offered an observation on Bush's surveillance policy: "This seems to sound like something President Nixon once said, which was: 'When the president does it, then that means that it's not illegal.' " Whispered "oohs" could be heard in the room.
Our L'Empereur sure knows how to wow 'em. It's the domestic version of "shock and awe," I guess.
Friday, January 27, 2006
No, this post is not about the song by the same name by Style Council or the book by Ralph Abernathy.
We live in the West Mount Airy section of Philly, with lots of big old homes. Ours is big, but not McMansion-sized. Stone house, built circa 189o. Last Thursday evening, a large section of the retaining wall at the edge of our property collapsed. Our home is located at the top of the hill, a few feet to the left of the spot where the failure occurred. The drop is about 20 feet, so we are talking about a pretty high hill.
Pieces of the stone crashed through the windows into the basement apartment next door. Luckily, the gentleman and his son who lived there (and were home at the time) were not hurt. Unfortunately, they had to move out, since the area was declared unsafe.
The owners of the apartment building have been very responsive and cooperative. They arranged for someone to stabilize the ground on our property until the wall can be rebuilt. It's supposed to rain this weekend, so there was a concern that the ground could erode further and impact our house.
So, now we are left with dealing with the rumble and sorting through the mess of shoring up the ground and repairing the wall. Of course, that also means sorting out issues related to ownership of the retaining wall, and trying to get the various insurance companies to respond and pay. That last part, I believe, will be the most difficult.
People always complain about lawyers. All I can say is, anyone who does just hasn't dealt with an insurance company. Once you do, the lawyer moves down on the list of people we love to hate, replaced by the insurer.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Buffalo alternative weekly, the BEAST, is pretty raunchy (but hysterical and well written), so it's worth checking out its 50 Most Loathsome People in America, which is the self-described, disturbingly popular annual list of the foulest among us, for a particularly objectionable year, 2005.
See if your favorite repugnant (republican) is there and where he/she is on the list!
I would ordinarily say that this is unbelievable, except for the fact that, with the Bush Administration, it's par for the course.
A Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau article, In 2002, Justice Department said eavesdropping law working well, reports:
A July 2002 Justice Department statement to a Senate committee appears to contradict several key arguments that the Bush administration is making to defend its eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without court warrants.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law governing such operations, was working well, the department said in 2002. A "significant review" would be needed to determine whether FISA's legal requirements for obtaining warrants should be loosened because they hampered counterterrorism efforts, the department said then.
The article cites a piece from Glen Greenwald's blog, Unclaimed Territory, The Administration's new FISA defense is factually false, which details the 2002 DOJ Statement. Greenwald is very good and the whole piece is worth reading. As he notes:
By that time, the Administration had already been engaging in eavesdropping outside of the parameters of FISA, and yet the DoJ itself was expressing serious doubts about the constitutionality of that eavesdropping and even warned that engaging in it might harm national security because it would jeopardize prosecutions against terrorists. Put another way, the DoJ was concerned that it might be unconstitutional to eavesdrop with a lower standard than probable cause even as the Administration was doing exactly that.
In other words: We don't need to change the Law, we're already ignoring it.
UPDATE: The LA Times has also has an article on the subject, Words, Deeds on Spying Differed, which quotes an ACLU attorney's charge that the Bush Administration is guilty of "'remarkable duplicity' for having testified in public against the legal change while carrying it out in private."
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Peter Daou, who blogs at Salon, has a post which is related to our LWL ("Ladies Who Lunch") conversation today, at the Daou Report. As Daou notes: To illustrate the power of the media to shape public opinion, simply imagine what would happen if the cable nets and the print media and the elite punditocracy treated the warrantless spying scandal with the same round-the-clock intensity as the Swift-boating of Kerry or the Natalee Holloway disappearance. Suppose Lewinsky-style headlines blared about impeachment and presidential law-breaking. Suppose the question of the day on every cable net was, "Should Bush be impeached for violating the Constitution?" The media can create a crisis -- and can squelch one. The media can deliver narratives, they can frame events, they can shape the way Americans see the political landscape. A disproportionate amount of power is wielded by a handful of opinion-shapers, and when these individuals tell America a story that favors the right and marginalizes the left, the remedies are few.
What's the common thread running through the past half-decade of Bush's presidency? What's the nexus between the Swift-boating of Kerry, the Swift-boating of Murtha, and the guilt-by-association between Democrats and terrorists? Why has a seemingly endless string of administration scandals faded into oblivion? Why do Democrats keep losing elections? It's this: the traditional media, the trusted media, the "neutral" media, have become the chief delivery mechanism of potent anti-Democratic and pro-Bush storylines. And the Democratic establishment appears to be either ignorant of this political quandary or unwilling to fight it.
The LWL were discussing the fact that the Republican Party manages to maintain control by requiring strict adherence to the "party line." A Stepford Party, if you will. The desire not just to win, but to adopt a "scorched earth" policy to emasculate and destroy dissenters (of either party) has assisted in this regard. Democrats haven't been able to adjust to this unrelenting assault on every statement, every position they try to take. The end result is that most Democratic Party leaders can't take a stand on any issue. They are afraid to be attacked by the vicious Republicans or to alienate someone who might possibly still vote for them. Instead they alienate even their "base" of supporters by being so wimpy.
The press has contributed to this by being so reluctant (afraid?) to criticize the Bush Administration or the Republican Party. It's amazing the difference a new Administration makes! With Clinton, the press was perfectly prepared to attack and point out any and all potential missteps, lies and crimes, real or imagined.
With Bush? Nada. Fair and balanced is the new mantra. If Bush or someone in the Administration says UP, the press reports that, without any question, and merely adds that the Democrats dispute UP by saying DOWN. No independent reporting that UP is incorrect, misleading or an outright lie (or, if it should ever by chance occur, that UP is correct). Instead, the press merely recites the words from both sides, leaving the reader without a clue as to the "truth."
The power of the press to do good or evil is great. As Daou posits:
To illustrate the power of the media to shape public opinion, simply imagine what would happen if the cable nets and the print media and the elite punditocracy treated the warrantless spying scandal with the same round-the-clock intensity as the Swift-boating of Kerry or the Natalee Holloway disappearance. Suppose Lewinsky-style headlines blared about impeachment and presidential law-breaking. Suppose the question of the day on every cable net was, "Should Bush be impeached for violating the Constitution?" The media can create a crisis -- and can squelch one. The media can deliver narratives, they can frame events, they can shape the way Americans see the political landscape. A disproportionate amount of power is wielded by a handful of opinion-shapers, and when these individuals tell America a story that favors the right and marginalizes the left, the remedies are few.
Yes, imagine. Imagine what that world would be like.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Molly Ivins, who may be the only person from Texas that I like these days, wrote a great article, which title says it all:
I Will Not Support Hillary Clinton for President.
Recalling Gene McCarthy, Ivins observes that there are times when the "country is desperate for leadership" and I agree that this is one of those times. Re: Hillary Clinton, she notes:
Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.
I agree. Clinton, Biden, and too many others in the so-called Democratic party are beginning to exhibit the political version of battered spouse syndrome. They just can't take a stand on anything, for fear of alienating some faction of the party or the Independents or the moderate Republicans. They are beginning to believe the Republican spin that they know what's best for the country. Not true. As Ivins writes:
What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.
The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
Besides Bush and his reign of terror?
Saturday, January 21, 2006
The Daily Show's This Week In God is too funny.
Limbo. 1st up on the God machine.
Apparently, the Vatican has decided that Limbo is a goner. There will be no more Limbo. For the non-Catholics of the world, Limbo is the place unbaptized babies go when they die. It's not hell, so no suffering, but it's not heaven either. That is, since the babies weren't baptized, they can't go through the pearly gates and sit at the right hand of God. No, they get to spend eternity in Nowhere Land. It's worse than purgatory, since minor sinners can eventually get to heaven after some "penance." But for infants who never did anything wrong, other than to have the misfortune of dying before they got baptized, it's Limbo, with no way out.
Limbo also touches on a topic that brings back memories of childhood and the Catholic Church. At least according to my memory bank, Limbo is probably the beginning of my fall from Church theology.
I had a younger sister who died when she was an infant. This was an off limit topic of discussion in my family, obviously because of the grief involved in losing a child. However, for me growing up, there were lots of questions and gaps in my understanding of what happened to her, etc.
As a product of Catholic school, I learned all about Limbo and my big concern was that my sister may have died before she was baptized and was stuck in Limbo. I was afraid to ask my parents if she was baptized before she died, because it would just bring back bad memories. But that thought just drove me crazy. I thought it was so unfair, since she never did anything to deserve that, so why should she have that fate? And if so, and God did that, then I didn't want any part of God.
As it turns out, as I got older and learned what happened, she died when she was about a year old, so she had in fact been baptized. But at that point, my view of the Church's teaching was fairly well formulated.
The change in the concept of Limbo also raises another an interesting thought. What will the Church say happens to all of those babies who have been in Limbo? Do they get the call from God to proceed directly to heaven, without passing GO? Or is Limbo just closed to new members? Just wondering.
A must-read post from Firedoglake, Contempt of Congress, cites an op-ed from the NYT If You Give a Congressman a Cookie, by Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann, both of which are excellent essays on the ills of today's Washington political culture (under the Republican regime). As Ornstein/Mann state, they have never seen "the culture so sick or the legislative process so dysfunctional."
Firedoglake notes that the op-ed article: details a number of issues that the authors, both long-time policy and legislative analysts at AEI (Ornstein) and The Brookings Institution (Mann), see in this Congress and in the political culture of today's Washington, through the lens of how much more corrupt and grasping this particular incarnation of Congress has been under the Republican leadership -- how much further the GOP has taken the notion of "we can do whatever the hell we want, because we are the law."
The impact of this perversion of the process has an even greater impact on the lives of "ordinary" people. Referring to the recent Medicare drug program fiasco, Firedoglake says:
I've been hitting this Medicare problem hard because it is one that I see play itself out every day here in West Virginia, where I've seen elderly folks at the drugstore struggle to piece together change from their coin purse to finish paying for drugs that they can ill afford, where heating prices have skyrocketed this winter at a time when the Administration has cut subsidies for people on the margins, and where my family has tried to help out folks at our local Mission and other shelter options because there are elderly people who have to face a choice every day between their prescriptions and eating, and that is just, plain wrong in a nation of such wealth and prosperity for so many at the highest end of income.
I don't say this to make myself out to be some saint, because I'm not -- there is a lot more than I ought to be doing, frankly. But because it is illustrative of what I've heard from hundreds of readers, friends and family who work with the elderly, the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, the disabled, the abused and neglected.
And where is our governing body in all of this?
We have a Congress and an Executive Branch, run by a Republican majority gone amok, drunk on power and dispensing legislative largesse on their contributors at every turn.
Right. And that's just wrong. Now, I am hardly on the lower end of the financial spectrum, but I do believe that we cannot ignore the needs of others who may be less fortunate. Have we really become so selfish that we frankly don't give a damn about anyone else but our own needs/wants? The gap between rich and poor is widening every day and I fear that the policies being implemented by the Republican party today may have disastrous consequences for many people in the not too distant future.
Changes to Medicare/Medicaid, health insurance, pensions & social security that have been proposed or passed are all ways to chip away at and eventually cause the demise of, those so-called "entitlement" programs. "Kill the beast" is the rallying cry of the right and they are well on their way to success.
The rise of the "Robber Barons" through the consolidation of big (no, make that huge) businesses does not bode well for the worker (or consumer). Wages have gone from stagnant to decreasing. Working conditions are becoming reminiscent of those same bygone Robber Baron days (a la the mine disasters in the past month), with little or no concern for safety issues in the workplace.
We have regressed in many ways. I heard a piece on NPR yesterday discussing the controversy over the new show "The Book of Daniel" (which I haven't seen). A comment made by Jack Kenny, the creator of the show, gave me pause. He remarked that programs such as, "All in the Family" and the “Maude” abortion episode were controversial in their day, but that they probably would never be able to be done in today’s environment. It’s true. We’ve become a moralistic, repressive society.
The list can go on and on. I am normally an optimistic person, but I am not so much about the direction of the country. In many ways, we’ve become the Victorian Era of the 21st Century.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Thursday, January 19, 2006
This is a twofer. Two videos from the Daily Show on Republican Reform efforts and the new House Leader position, which was recently vacated by Tom Delay.
Jon Stewart provides clips of the 3 leading candidates for the spot, Moe Larry & Curly, and summarizes their platform: "As House Majority Leader, we would vow to get rid of people like us."
The Sean Hannity clip where Rep. Shadegg states that he's the best candidate for the position of House Leader because his "level of taint" isn't as bad as the others is hysterical.
Crooks and Liars has the videos: Part 1 and Part 2.
They may be ruining the country, but at least we can go laughing.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
The Philadelphia Daily News carried an editorial by Deborah Leavy (who was council to Senator Paul Simon during the Bork hearings), aptly titled Robert Bork without the beard. She notes:
Alito's bland face, thinning hair and glasses made him look like the nerd in the next cubicle in the office. He was soft-spoken, modest and calm in responding to senators. . . In Samuel Alito, they found a judicial nominee who thought a lot like Robert Bork, but without the beard, the brusqueness, the pride and the candor. We got a blank stare, a modest demeanor - and total obfuscation.
Don't be fooled. Bork and Alito may have different personalities, but they share the same legal philosophy. Both are premier architects of modern conservative jurisprudence. They are lauded by the far right, heroes of the ultraconservative Federalist Society. As Court of Appeals judges, both favored a stronger executive branch, corporations over average citizens and limited access to the courts for victims of discrimination. Neither thinks Congress should have the power to pass laws protecting the health, welfare and safety of Americans. Both believe Roe was wrongly decided and would probably vote to overturn it.
* * * *
That Democrats have been so stymied in trying to stop the Alito nomination is the bitter fruit of the last two presidential elections, and elections for senators as well. Most voters don't focus on the Supreme Court as an important issue. That's too bad, because most voters don't want to overturn Roe vs. Wade, don't want government surveillance to be unlimited, and don't want to have the Supreme Court strike down laws such as the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, civil-rights laws and laws protecting worker safety. Any and all of that could happen under the Bork/Alito approach to the law.
If, as expected, Judge Alito is confirmed, he will join a Supreme Court poised to radically transform the legal landscape in ways that would shock the Framers of the Constitution and should alarm most Americans.
Because in Sam Alito, we got Bork without the beard.
In other words, the old maxim holds true. You can't tell a book by it's cover. The covers may have gotten fancier, but the glossy look outside doesn't necessarily equate with the words inside. You have to remember: with a book, ultimately, it's the words that count.
With a Supreme Court Justice, it's the legal words or opinions that count, which are based upon a judicial philosophy. As I said before, he's not called Scalito for nothing. The name was bestowed on him long before he was nominated to the Supreme Court, in recognition of his ultra-conservative views.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Monday, January 16, 2006
It's truly amazing that it was over 40 years ago, on August 28, 1963, that MLK gave his "I have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
A video of the entire speech can be found at THE BRAD BLOG. I haven't seen or read the entire speech in many years, it is still extremely moving.
A transcript can be found at: 3quarksdaily.
Will there ever be a day:
when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
This week's SNL Weekend Update was pretty funny. The part on the Alito hearings (especially the crying Mrs. A), as well as the Pat Robertson skit, are the best.
A great line: Quaero - the French version of Google. You type in the subject you are interested in and they refuses to look it up for you.
One Good Move posted the skit for those (like me) who can't stay awake that late. Enjoy!
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Saturday, January 14, 2006
In this excellent post by Firedoglake, This is how it's Done (scroll down), Jane Hamsher observes:
It is remarkably frustrating to blog the Alito hearings, feel the righteous indignation of people . . . that the supreme court is in danger of making a major lurch to the extreme right with the potential appointment of a bigoted, sexist, entitled, slavering chickenhawk like Alito, and see it reflected nowhere in the traditional media.
* * *
How does the GOP keep them all in such abject subservience? An article from the Knight-Ridder news service shows the extremely organized pressure they bring to bear on anyone who deviates from their party message . . .
The article she references is a Commentary, Knight Ridder's Alito story: Factual and fair, which provides a glimpse of the unrelenting push by the Republican machine to recast "the Alito story" in a manner intended to obfuscate the facts of Alito's conservative views. It also shows the larger picture: No opinion, no news column in the media can escape the Republican spin filter, which consists of a rapid response setting forth the view/spin of the party, the accusation that the original piece was wrong, slanted, partisan, etc., followed by the personal attack on the messenger/reporter.
As the Knight Ridder piece explains, it originally ran a story (Review of cases shows Alito to be staunch conservative - which I read at the time in the Philadelphia Inquirer) in early December, that concluded that Alito was truly a conservative (what a surprise, what a shock). This conclusion was based upon an analysis of all (311) published cases in which Alito wrote either the majority or dissenting/concurring opinion during his 15 year tenure on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. In other words, he didn't get the name Scalito for nothing. As the Commentary noted:
They concluded that, "although Alito's opinions are rarely written with obvious ideology, he's seldom sided with a criminal defendant, a foreign national facing deportation, an employee alleging discrimination or consumers suing big business."
You might find this neither surprising nor controversial. Alito, after all, was nominated by a president who said that his ideal Supreme Court justices were Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the high court's most reliably conservative members.
You'd be wrong.
No, what followed was the dissemination of a Senate Republican Conference memo, letter to the editor to the Inquirer and publication of an op-ed piece by a former Alito clerk, all denouncing the original article as inaccurate and biased. Again, as the Commentary explained:
Knight Ridder's story analyzed only Alito's published opinions because what a judge writes from the bench is the best window into his or her legal reasoning. A judge's unexplained votes are often on procedural grounds that have nothing to do with legal philosophy. And the Knight Ridder story didn't say that Alito never sided with plaintiffs who alleged employment discrimination, criminal defendants or consumers suing businesses. It reported accurately that he seldom did, and that the pattern of his written opinions was unmistakable.
During the Alito confirmation hearings, the story was mentioned and a Republican Senator remarked that the article had been "rather completely discredited" by the Republican Conference memo, even though the facts cited in that memo were wrong. The next step in the process was the attack by the Republican National Committee on the reporter, trying to make him out to be personally biased. And, as Hamsher reminds, "let's just remember the fact they were trying to dispute -- that Alito is a conservative." The Commentary states:
This hysteria over a carefully researched article that documents the obvious - that Samuel Alito is a judicial conservative - is the latest example of a disturbing trend of attacking the messenger instead of debating difficult issues.
Fact-based reporting is the lifeblood of a democracy. It gives people shared information on which to make political choices. But as people in new democracies risk their lives to gather such information, in this country fact-based reporting is under more relentless assault than at any time in my more than 40 years in Washington.
Oh, those silly little things called "facts" - what are they good for? Absolutely nothing.
And there is another part of this that is ironic, to say the least. In fact, it's almost funny. After all, I certainly would be gravely insulted if I were labeled as a conservative in my philosophy, but why do the conservatives run from the description as though it were a curse? I do think it's something to be ashamed of, but I'm surprised that they agree with me. After all, the original article merely concluded that Alito was a conservative and this is what resulted.
The real problem, however, is that the continual Republican spin/attack program adopted by the Republicans creates the same status for the media, which is that it has little or no credibility, much in the same way as the Republicans have managed to do with the Democrats.
And this is a dangerous state of affairs for us all. There needs to be some entity that can speak the truth and be believed. I know that I don't trust the Republican party a whit; the rest, including the media, are question marks. How does a society function that way? It's one thing to have a dysfunctional family, it's a lot worse to have a disfunctional society, but I think that is where we've devolved.
Just one more thing to thank Bush for.
Dana Garrett of Delaware Watch, in a posting called Tom Capano Fatigue, bemoans the fact that the Delaware Supreme Court overturned the imposition of the death penalty for Tom Capano. Capano, as most Philadelphians and Delawareans know, was a former prosecutor who was convicted of murdering Anne Marie Fahey, after she tried to break off their relationship.
Garrett, like me, opposes the dealth penalty, and like me "groaned" when he heard the decision. For him, because he dreads the renewed media attention this reversal will no doubt cause. My "groan" and objection is of a more personal nature. This will only resurrect the extreme pain the death of Anne Marie has caused the Fahey family. My brother Paul and her brother Robert were friends. The Faheys were an extremely close family. I recall meeting her at various parties years ago, but can't say that I knew her. However, I know that this matter can only bring more grief and woe to the family (not that it can ever be completely forgotten).
UPDATE (2/24): For the latest update on the Capano case, see The Trials of Terrible Tom.
Friday, January 13, 2006
I like NBC News reporter, David Gregory, who is one of the few reporters who is willing to press Scott McClellan during the White House Daily News Briefings (along with my long time favorite, Helen Thomas). Plus, he's cute.
His report on the progress of the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans is very depressing. The segment starts with a rosy report from Bush on the state of affairs in New Orleans. In typical Bush fashion, he notes improvements in New Orleans since his last visit, but the area that he saw was a wealthier section that was hardly touched by Katrina. Not so good for other sections (read that: poor). The clip can be viewed at Crooks and Liars.
Sounds like Bush's plan for the city of New Orleans is like his plan for education called "No Child Left Behind." All talk, no money.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Daily Kos has an excerpted transcript of the Carl Bernstein interview on the Colbert Report. As he says, Stephen Colbert does O'Reilly better than O'Reilly:
Stephen Colbert: Compare this presidency to Nixon's presidency. What could Nixon learn from Bush?
Carl Bernstein: They both have the same problem...telling the truth.
Colbert: Wha...what is that, courage??
Bernstein: I think both would've been better served to have told the truth, especially in wartime.
Colbert: Well, the problem is that right now, we're dealing with a secret enemy. So we can't necessarily tell the truth, can we? If we tell the truth, and our enemies don't tell the truth...well, then they've got one up on us, right?
Bernstein: I think the same thing happened in both the Nixon administration and the Bush administration.
Colbert: No, Nixon got in trouble. I don't think Bush is.
Bernstein: Wait awhile!
Colbert: Oh really?
Bernstein: I think he's in trouble. I think he's in trouble because of the same reason as Nixon. He doesn't tell the truth. His vice president doesn't tell the truth. His party is starting to have trouble with it the same way Nixon had trouble with his party. And we're in a terrible situation in a war where we need a president who tells the truth.
(Emphasis added). Also, Comedy Central has a video clip of the interview.
Could it be? Bernstein certainly has more credibility than his former colleague Woodward. After all, Watergate didn't happen immediately after the break-in. It took a while for the Nixon Administration to crash and burn. The accumulation of events -- a war based upon bad intelligence that is spiraling out of control, the federal deficit out of control, Katrina, erupting scandals from leaks in the Administration, plus those from greedy Republican legislators, secrets and spying -- all may eventually cause the same problems for Bush that could cause a major fall.
I could at least dream, can't I?
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Judge (wannabe Justice) Alito was a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton after he graduated. An Alum group with a spin. A racist, sexist spin, that is. You know, the Ivy version of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the white supremacist group that was a successor of sorts to the KKK. (See: Communing with the Council by the Southern Poverty Law Center).
Now that CAP's extremist, ultra-conservative views are in disfavor, Alito would obviously like to distance himself from his association with CAP. Rather than refer to his CAP membership as a "youthful indiscretion" (as the owner of Ikea did many years ago about his membership in the Hilter youth), Alito has recently stated that he couldn't recall joining the group. His memory was better when he listed the organization on an application for a position with the Reagan administration. Now, not so good.
Today, however, during confirmation hearings, Alito said that he most likely joined as a way of protesting student protests against the ROTC on campus. Daily News blogger Attytood explains why this is bunk in his post, He can't handle the truth: The real story of Sam Alito, ROTC, and Concerned Alumni of Princeton, citing Alito Joined Army Reserve During College from the San Francisco Gate.
As Bunch explains, Alito's great interest in ROTC blossomed when he received a number 32 in the draft lottery in 1970, right when college deferments were being eliminated. A #32 was a first class ticket to Vietnam. ROTC 'r us became the place to be, for Alito anyway. No Vietnam, as it happened.
Now, I have to acknowledge that I was a war protestor during the Vietnam War, so I certainly wouldn't criticize anyone who wanted to avoid the draft. In 1970, as I recall, many protested, few served (voluntarily, at least).
What I do mind is the hypocrisy and lying about how someone may have responded to the War during that time period. He didn't need to join CAP for ROTC-related reasons, since ROTC had been reinstated on campus at that point. And, as Attytood points out, he certainly had no great affinity for ROTC prior to the draft.
Just add this to the list of reasons why Alito should not be on the Court. I thought that I've never say this, but Harriet keeps looking better every day.
UPDATE: Mark Kleinman makes this same point in his blog, The Reality Based Community, in The CAP flap.
A NYT article, I.R.S. Move Said to Hurt the Poor, details the efforts of the IRS to reduce fraud by blocking questionable refunds. Of course, the refunds were all due to the poor. This makes perfect sense, since we all know that the rich don't cheat. The article notes:
Tax refunds sought by 1.6 million poor Americans over the last five years were frozen and their returns labeled fraudulent, although the vast majority appear to have done nothing wrong, the Internal Revenue Service's taxpayer advocate told Congress yesterday.
A computer program identified the refund requests as suspect and automatically flagged the taxpayers for extra scrutiny for years to come, the advocate said in her annual report to Congress. These taxpayers were not told that the I.R.S. criminal investigation division suspected fraud.
The advocate, Nina Olson, said the I.R.S. devoted vastly more resources to pursuing questionable refunds sought by the poor - which under the highest estimate is $9 billion - than to the $100 billion in taxes not paid each year by people who work for cash and either fail to file tax returns or understate their income.
As for the suspected fraud in refund requests, Ms. Olson said her staff sampled the suspect returns and found that 66 percent were entitled to the amount sought or more. Another 14 percent were due a partial refund. She expressed doubt that many among the remaining 20 percent had committed fraud.
* * * *
Ms. Olson said the criminal investigators' efforts, known within the I.R.S. as the Questionable Refund Program, were unfair and might be illegal.
"At a minimum, this procedure constitutes an extraordinary violation of fundamental taxpayer rights and fairness," Ms. Olson wrote, adding that it "may also constitute a violation of due process of law."
Monday, January 09, 2006
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Saturday, January 07, 2006
When the Republicans initially started to push enactment of the Patriot Act, the paranoid Liberals expressed outrage and voiced concern about the potential for abuse.
This of course was met with "Trust Us" by the Bush Administration, we just want to keep everyone safe and scared. We need this tool in our arsenal to help prevent the bad people from hurting us. We would never use it against our own. After all, we don't look like Nixon, we look like Alfred E. Neumann. We're harmless. With the recent series of revelations about secrets and spies, we all know the ending of that story (fairy tale).
Here's the latest installment of "Secrets and Spies":
The IRS not only wants to know if you owe them $$$, but how you vote. The Tacoma News Tribune reports that IRS tracked taxpayers' political affiliation.
No way!! Can't be true. What does the IRS have to say about this?
"The bottom line is that we have never used this information," said John Lipold, an IRS spokesman. "There are strict laws in place that forbid it."
Thank God, I was getting a little concerned. Yes, they've been tracking your party affiliation, but they aren't going to do anything with it.
Relax. As they say, "Don't worry, be happy."
If you're interested, "According to Murray’s office, the 20 states in which the IRS collected party affiliation information were Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin."
No Pennsylvania. I guess they figure if you're from Philly or Pittsburgh, your a Democrat and if you hale from the Big T, you're Red, so no need to track.