Saturday, August 13


An absolute must read. Raw Story tells the disgusting, shameful story of how Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) misused -- or, let's talk straight, perverted -- his position as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee to fix pre-war intelligence and used leaks and smears to divert blame from the White House over Iraq and blame the CIA and Democrats. He continues his campaign of disinformation by insisting that Valerie Plame was not truly a covert agent.

I read stuff like this and I wonder how it is possible for the American people to be so blind. Our institutions have failed us. The White House, Congress, the media -- all have been co-conspirators in the disaster we call the Bush administration. How anyone with conscience or morality can vilify a courageous woman like Cindy Sheehan who is simply calling a spade a spade is beyond my comprehension.

Today my daughter returned to Dallas from Fort Bliss, where she has been saying goodbye to a young man she loves who is being shipped out to Iraq. She was in tears and physically sick to think of what he will face. I echo Cindy: Mister President, what is the "noble cause" that will comfort her if she learns later that he has been injured or killed? How can you or any of your co-conspirators sleep at night? Silly me. The truly wicked sleep like babies. They have no consciences to disturb them.

I dare not tell my daughter all I know. Like he may not have the proper armor or equipment to offer some protection when he's out looking for improvised explosive devices (his assigned task). I blame Congress for this as well as the president. After the upmteenth time we'd been told this problem was being fixed and then discovered that, in fact, it wasn't, Congress should have refused to approve any further appropriations until they had PROOF it was no longer an issue.

Right now my anger is so great that if I didn't have a cast up from my toes to my knee I would be sewing an effigy of Bush to burn at high noon on Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

UPDATE: Moe Blues of Bad Attitudes has a good answer to the question, "What is the noble cause?"

Iraqis are debating the form of their new constitution. Will it declare that the Koran is the sole source of law? Or will it declare that the Koran is the primary source of law? These are the questions with which they wrestle.

Thus it is clear that the "noble cause" for which our troops have fought and died is the establishment of another fundamentalist Islamic state in the Middle East.


Howard Dean delivers a simple but effective one-liner that should become a mantra for Democrats:

Dean also described Bush's desire to privatize social security as "nutty."

"Americans do not want to privatize social security," he said. "They're too smart to turn social security over to the people who ran Enron."

It works for lots of other issues too, and not just on independents -- thoughtful Republicans are susceptible. Case in point: Yesterday I caught a ride home from work with a friend who is active in the Republican Party in a suburban Dallas county (I won't be driving for another month and sometimes it's tough for someone from the fam to do the honors). We began by talking about her personal financial problems since her divorce and segued into the bankruptcy bill, which she is furious about. (Funny how attitudes are affected when politics hits you personally.) I noted that I agreed with her and was disgusted with those Democrats who voted for the bill. From there I moved on to the financial mismanagement in the Iraq War, the wild spree of spending and waste under the Bush administration, etc., and watched her become more and more agitated. Not once did she try to defend BushCo, especially when we began linking it to the corruption rampant in recent years. I'm not saying I converted a Republican Party operative to the Democratic Party, but it is one of the greater of Rethug vulnerabilities, and we ought to be talking about it at church, around the "water cooler" (do they even exist any more?), and bringing clarity to that pro-Bush blind spot that exists in so many of our acquaintance.

Friday, August 12


Having just spent a week in meetings aimed toward formulating my company's strategic communications plan, which by necessity includes details of desired outcomes, accountabilities, deliverables, strategy, tactics, benchmarks, measurements, etc. (and that's just for COMMUNICATIONS! you should see what the finance and operations people have to submit!), I'm struck by how BushCo can get away with phrases like "staying the course" without delivering any of the above-mentioned details to Congress, much less the American people. In big business, these components drive execution of strategy and provide for course corrections when the strategy is less successful than anticipated. It's the way all well-run companies operate.

As I've said repeatedly, Bush and Cheney like to market themselves as "CEO"-types. They couldn't run any major company in this country without it going the way of Enron, WorldCom, and the like. "Faith-based" strategies don't carry much weight with shareholders. We voters are the shareholders of BushCo. And we've not gotten much return on our investment. When are we going to insist on a proxy fight and replace the current board of directors? It had better be soon...


Good stuff. Former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega says the pundits are wrong about prosecution in the Plame case:

Pundits right, left, and center have reached a rare unanimous verdict about one aspect of the grand jury investigation into the Valerie Plame leak: They've decided that no charges can be brought under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, because it imposes an impossibly high standard for proof of intent...Do you have to intend to harm a CIA agent or jeopardize national security in order to violate the Intelligence Identities Protection Act? The answer is no.


"My country is in the grip of a president surrounded by thugs in suits."

More Americans are beginning to feel, like the soldiers in Iraq, that something is terribly wrong. More and more every day the lies are being exposed. And then there is the largest lie, that everything the US does is to be pardoned because we are engaged in a "war on terrorism", ignoring the fact that war is itself terrorism, that barging into homes and taking away people and subjecting them to torture is terrorism, that invading and bombing other countries does not give us more security but less...The "war on terrorism" is not only a war on innocent people in other countries; it is a war on the people of the US: on our liberties, on our standard of living. The country's wealth is being stolen from the people and handed over to the super-rich. The lives of the young are being stolen.


Ed Offley, Editor of DefenseWatch, comments on Col. Westhusing's death in "Strange Army Silence On a Colonel's Death." I believe we all would echo his conclusion:

But until the hard, cold, full truth comes out about why this distinguished officer died, the Army he loved will continue to mock his death by vilifying the precepts of honesty and candor that defined his life and career.

I previously posted about this matter here and here.

Thursday, August 11


Always good, but particularly today:

Xpatriated Texan's Pluralism: A Good Idea That Works.


Read how Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) forced the inclusion of an amendment that "guts restrictions on the export of highly eniched uranium, the same material used in the Hiroshima atomic bomb."

The legislation also prompted a bipartisan group of scientists, policy specialists (including myself) and former officials responsible for various aspects of nuclear security under every president since Gerald Ford to send a letter to Senator Domenici pleading with him not "to weaken a major provision of the U.S. nonproliferation law that makes it more difficult for terrorists to obtain material capable of producing a nuclear bomb."

This is scary stuff, folks. And it needs to be fixed immediately if not sooner.


Eric Boehlert contends that wingnut bloggers and talk radio hosts are attacking a large group of Americans when they take on Cindy Sheehan.

But what if Sheehan were guilty of a full 180-degree turnaround? What if, even in the wake of her son's death in 2004, Sheehan had praised Bush's leadership, only to become a critic by the summer of 2005? What would be so hard to understand about that?

Sheehan herself put it best. Speaking with Air America recently, she noted, "Why is my meeting in June of 2004 relevant? Over 1,100 more soldiers are dead since then, the Downing Street memo report [has come] out, the Senate intelligence report has come out, and the 9/11 Commission report has come out. Saddam is gone, they've had free democratic elections in Iraq, and our troops are still there."

In other words, things change, information accumulates and people react accordingly. Apparently, however, bloggers like Michelle Malkin, who took it upon herself in one of her posts to speak for Sheehan's dead son (does their arrogance know no bounds?), have convinced themselves that thinking people simply do not change their opinions about dynamic issues like war and peace, ever. No matter how strong the insurgency in Iraq grows, no matter how many coalition countries walk away from the rebuilding effort, no matter how many dates are set for Iraq's sovereignty, no matter how many Americans are killed, no matter how many billions of dollars Halliburton pockets with no-bid contracts, no matter how much evidence accumulates that the Bush administration was both dishonest about the war during the run-up and incompetent during the so-called reconstruction, Americans, let alone parents of dead service members, are not supposed to alter their views. They're not supposed to flip-flop.

Somebody forgot to tell the U.S. adult population, because just within the past few months there's been an awful lot of flip-flopping going on regarding Iraq, with more and more Americans heading for the exits. According to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, released Monday, 57 percent of American adults think the war has made the United States less safe from terrorism. That's up 18 percentage points in just 60 days.

Additionally, in the same new poll, 54 percent said they believe it was a mistake to send U.S. troops to Iraq, while 44 percent said it was not a mistake. Those figures are reversed, in a 17-point swing, from those in June.

It seems pretty clear that until the mess in Iraq is cleaned up, more and more Americans are going to join Sheehan in opposing the war. And the ranks of alleged flip-floppers will continue to grow.

All my life I have admired people with open minds who adjust their thinking according to the best information available at the time. I thought everyone did. But it seems that in this generation, for some unthinking people, intransigence is the more admirable trait. They prefer the mule that plods stubbornly upon its course and gets bitten by the snake in its path to the horse that rears up and changes direction to avoid the danger.

As the guy in Hoosiers said, "Mister, there are two kinds of stupid. One kind is the man who strips naked and runs through the woods howling at the moon. The other is the man who does the same thing in your living room. One of them you don't have to worry about, the other you're kind of forced to deal with."

In his wilder days, Bush seemed to be the first kind. Now he's the second, and Cindy's trying to deal with him the best way she knows how. The rest of us have to find our own way of coping.


WaPo has an editorial today supporting Kofi Annan's call for a $500 million global famine fund. It's a remarkably common-sense approach to the problem of international hunger. Quick action costs considerably less and is far more effective than long-delayeed rescue efforts, as the situation in Niger demonstrates.

Tuesday, August 9


Musing on the energy bill that Bush has just signed,, a piece of legislation "that provides billions of dollars in tax subsidies to energy companies, but that even he has acknowledged will do little to alleviate the high prices of gasoline at the pump for most Americans" at a time when oil companies are recording record profits, a friend and I began fondly remembering Jimmy Carter's response to a similar situation back in 1979. Interestingly, this AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies recommendation made during the 2001 California energy crisis confirms that the Carter "windfall profits tax" was effective then. Would that we could bring it back -- but that is hardly likely with the Rethugs in control of the Congress and the White House. No, they're perfectly satisfied with high energy prices, enormous profits for the companies, and no consumer relief in sight -- after all, "relief" is a dirty word to the BushCo gang. It implies charity for the undeserving. On the other hand, they interpret "tax subsidies" as the rightful concession to wealthy producers to incentivize them to increase production. Funny, as a businesswoman, I thought record profits was motive enough. My own company is certainly rapidly expanding its operations and its investment in R&D with the high profits this economy is returning to our own industries.

In 1979 U.S. allies called for the removal of price controls to bring down the price of oil. The critics asserted that the controls raised the world's demand for oil while depressing production by those outside the OPEC cartel. The consequence was a higher price for oil. Today electricity price controls have the same effect. Conservation is discouraged and low-cost production is shut down. The gap between supply and demand is filled with output from very high-cost facilities.

President Carter deserves credit for finding a way out of the mess in 1979. He took the bold and controversial step of removing price controls on oil but at the same time proposed a windfall profits tax on producers, which Congress enacted in 1980. The tax didn't take away all of the windfall profits––the excess generated by prices above the previous controlled prices––but it did take anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent of them (depending on the price of the crude). The proceeds were recycled to consumers and to support of development of alternative energy sources. The windfall tax was removed by Congress in 1988, when crude prices were far lower and the tax was no longer generating revenue.

President Bush and Congress now have the opportunity to take a similar courageous step: remove all price controls on electricity and enact a windfall energy profits tax. The tax should capture a portion of any electricity and gasoline price increases above a benchmark. The proceeds should be returned to consumers through income tax reductions that moderate the impact on the poor, small businessmen and other consumers who would suffer from higher prices. When prices come down––as they will once increased conservation and new production have come into play––the tax should be removed.

To be sure, a tax-refund system is tricky to design and will not be perfect. But as it was 20 years ago, a windfall profits tax is far preferable to both price controls and the prospect of even higher energy prices and windfall profits.


Brent Bozell has done us a favor by compiling a list of instances of Peter Jennings' "liberal bias" and "anti-American commentary" on the Iraq war.

Hat tip to Common Dreams.


A very good, even witty, column by Richard Cohen about John Roberts' pro bono work in a gay rights case.

The White House and its allies, understandably alarmed at implications of moderation and enlightenment, were quick to suggest that Roberts was not, as some might slander him, a reasonable man.
Jay Sekulow, a leader in the movement to make the high court intellectually indistinguishable from the Inquisition, rushed to explain Roberts to his constituency. This was something lawyers did. "A lot of people are commenting who don't know about Supreme Court practice," Sekulow said. "There's a high degree of collegiality." In other words, it meant nothing. Still, maybe Roberts could prove himself by beating up some gays.

Sean Rushton, director of the Committee for Justice, a right-wing group, characterized the revelation about Roberts's inexplicable pro bono work as "a red herring meant to divide the right." What he meant by this is not entirely clear unless, of course, evidence surfaces to show that Roberts ingested a mushroom and temporarily lost his mind. That might explain why he awkwardly found himself on the side of human rights.
The spectacle of conservative groups and the White House rushing to assure their constituencies that Roberts is not -- really and truly -- a tolerant man is both repulsive and absurd. In the end, this tethering of conservatism to the lost cause of homophobia will earn the rebuke of history. In the meantime, though, it puts Roberts on the spot. He might assert that he has been cruelly mischaracterized and, for benefit of career, renounce the work he had once done. But more likely his pro bono work speaks for itself. Until he says otherwise, on gay rights, he's out of the closet.


I'm with Matt Yglesias. With the completion of the Iraqi constitution, we should execute a planned withdrawal of U.S. troops. In other words, "declare victory and leave."

To Biden, McCain, et al, I say I have no interest in a decades-long nation-building exercise in a region where we are neither invited nor wanted. It's time to cut our losses. Especially the human ones. Then maybe we can free up some budget money for humanitarian assistance to rebuild a country and people devastated by this immoral adventure.

Matt also leads us to this sensible article by Michael Rubin.


Amy Branham's on-scene coverage of Cindy Sheehan's Crawford, TX vigil. Keep the heat on!

Where are the fiery torches when you need them?


Washington Monthly has an interesting two-view look at a Hillary presidential candidacy that's well worth the read. Carl M. Cannon asks "Why Not Hillary? She can win the White House." And Amy Sullivan says, Hillary in 2008? Not so fast."

I tend to think that Cannon made the better case, but Amy articulates our private fears. At this point, however, other than Howard Dean (who's said he won't run), there's no Democrat I would back ahead of Hillary.


Looks like Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter is showing some spine and regard for his reputation as a top-notch constitutional lawyer. He's written a letter to SCOTUS nominee John Roberts expressing his intention to raise questions about his views of some of the Court's recent rulings scaling back Congressional power.

In addition, Specter wants assurances that Roberts respects the role of Congress and is considering Democrats' calls for access to legal memorandums Roberts wrote while serving as Solicitor General.

Rethugs aren't happy -- but then, arch conservatives conducted a bitter battle to remove him from the committee chairmanship because they feared something like this, so why should he pander to them? With all his recent health problems, perhaps Specter is thinking more about his legacy than short-term expediency.

Monday, August 8

The calm, seasoned, assuring voice has been stilled.And for now, at least, there are no others.

Keith Olbermann's moving tribute to Peter Jennings is here.


Billmon at his best.


So the NCAA has banned "hostile or abusive" Native American nicknames from appearing in postseason tournaments. That includes Florida State University, my alma mater and the alma mater of my husband, son and 72 other family members.

FSU president T.K. Wetherell's response:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Florida State University is stunned at the complete lack of appreciation for cultural diversity shown by the National Collegiate Athletic Association's executive committee, which announced today a policy banning schools using Native American names and symbols from hosting NCAA championship events. That the NCAA would now label our close bond with the Seminole people as culturally "hostile and abusive" is both outrageous and insulting.

On June 17, the Tribal Council of the Seminole Tribe of Florida spoke unequivocally of its support for Florida State University in its use of the Seminole name and related symbols. Accordingly, I intend to pursue all legal avenues to ensure that this unacceptable decision is overturned, and that this university will forever be associated with the "unconquered" spirit of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

National surveys have shown in recent years that an overwhelming majority of Native Americans are not offended by the use of Native American names and symbols. In making its decision, the executive committee has been swayed by a strident minority of activists who claim to speak for all Native Americans. It is unconscionable that the Seminole Tribe of Florida has been ignored.

The rules as we understand them would have us cover the Seminole name and symbol as if we were embarrassed, and any committee that would think that is a proper and respectful treatment of Native Americans should be ashamed.

My husband The Sage was a swimmer and cheerleader in our days at FSU. The cheerleading squad was presented with authentic Seminole-made jackets by the Florida tribe as a token of our generations-old close and respectful relationship. Now I've been called a "flaming liberal," and I'm very sympathetic to the sensitivities of ethnic groups' perceptions of demeaning language or symbols. But the Florida Seminoles clearly have registered no complaints. So where does the NCAA get off?

Not only does Florida State University have the complete consent and cooperation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the Seminoles themselves have a vested interest in this ruling. Our Sun Sports sources in Tallahassee have explained to me that the Seminole Tribe has remained cooperative in essentially "licensing" the Seminole name over the years because they fear the precedent set otherwise - if the NCAA can legislate Native American names out of college athletics, the reasoning goes, the next step is the U.S. Government's removal of many of the tax breaks and autonomy currently enjoyed by those same tribes. Plus, we can safely assume that the Seminole Tribe, which pays nearly $3.5 million dollars a year in federal payroll taxes, gets a nice PR bump from seeing their name on the backs of Florida State athletes.

One thing I have learned in those fifteen years - when in doubt, follow the money. If the Seminoles are not complaining about FSU's use of their name, they must be seeing a tangible benefit.


Hooray for The Revolt of the Elders.

"We are in a contest for the soul of the Republican Party," says McCloskey. Hence the new electoral strategy, which seeks to help GOP candidates who support causes such as environmental protection, stem cell research and abortion rights. So far, their efforts have focused on finding people in four California districts: primary opponents for Richard W. Pombo and John T. Doolittle and candidates to succeed Randy "Duke" Cunningham , who's retiring amid a series of ethical troubles, and Christopher Cox , who resigned last week to run the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Last month, the new 527 group paid $41,500 for a year’s worth of nine-second video advertisements on an electronic billboard in the heart of Doolittle's district. The sign had to come down, though, when the Roseville Auto Mall Association, which has the right to veto the sign's content, complained that it violated community standards. Doolittle chief of staff Richard Robinson has scored the Elders for mounting "a coordinated strategy to weaken" GOP leaders. McCloskey doesn't disagree: "The ethics of the Republican leadership is repugnant to us," he says.


Aid too late for Niger's "forgotten" children.

Last night I watched for the first time the film Beyond Borders with Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen and early in the film was just about ready to sell everything I own and go to work for famine relief and/or a displaced persons organization. It is so easy in our heady, hectic American lives to tune out tales of catastrophic poverty and hunger around the world. And it is so outrageous to realize what a life-giving difference a few billion dollars, just a fraction of the amount Bush has spent on destroying the nation of Iraq, could make to those suffering horrific deprivations across the planet.

I get so caught up in the problems facing our own nation because of the squalid and cynical rule of Bush-Cheney-Rove that I lose sight of what I, as an individual banded together with hundreds of thousands of other persons, can do to alleviate some of the suffering. It occurred to me that a donation of an amount at least equal to what we have spent trying to defeat Republicans at the polls to the worthiest and most efficient human relief NGO I can identify is a small price to pay for peace of conscience. It's not an exaggeration to report that I never slept one wink last night, and even today have repeatedly found myself recalling the heartbreaking images of starving children I saw in the film. Perhaps if I get a little righteousness I'll get some rest tonight. I'll let you know what I find out.

UPDATE: Doctors Without Borders
International Medical Corps
UN Refugee Agency
World Vision


The priceless Dr. Bruce Prescott:

I'm still waiting for Dobson to explain why he thinks the imago Dei must have a genetic structure rather than a spiritual one. Logically, that would mean that sin -- which corrupted the imago -- also had a genetic structure.

If eight cell blastocysts are fully human persons -- created in the image of God, but with a propensity to sin -- then why don't we have genetic engineers searching for the "original sin" gene. If they could find it and remove our rebellious nature, we could all be sinless and perfect.

Then no one would have to be "born again" and Jesus' death would have been unnecessary.

I'd like a list of all those Nazi experiments that Dobson is "sure ultimately benefited mankind." Funny, I thought they were all about supporting the war effort of the Third Reich and advancing a master race, not finding cures for disease and alleviating suffering.

More here.


Somehow I missed this in the Texas papers. As a Democrat, female and a Dallas resident, I can't help but gloat over the headline -- Hillary Clinton Strikes Gold in Bush Country: Texas ranks second only to New York in bucks for the senator.