Saturday, November 5


Colbert King editorializes wonderfully about an essential qualification for Supreme Court nominees. Read the whole thing.

Missing from the litany of legal virtues approved by the high priests is any expression of values, any awareness of the court's leavening role in society, any recognition of the court as a bulwark against the majority's worst instincts. They seem to think it wrong for a judge to search for a constitutional way to "to help, or at least protect, those [who] have a moral claim on the society," to use The Post's language in a second editorial on Bork that year.

Those values were lost on the defenders of segregation, who undoubtedly were professionally qualified and faithful to their profession's ethical standards. Lost on those standard-bearers for racial separation, however, was how much the outcome of what they sought to achieve in court really mattered to people for whom the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment still lacked fulfillment.

What about justice? What about relief?

Notwithstanding the norms of the high priests of conservatism, prospective Supreme Court justices, I humbly submit, must be judged as well by the values that they bring to bear.

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George W. Bush wants, as several previous presidents have, a hemispheric free trade zone. He hoped to get a statement out of the Summit endorsing the idea and promising to resume talks. He didn't get it.

Although the nations of Central and South America have differing reasons for not being ready, they all come back to doubts about the U.S.A. and Bush policies.

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This should disturb the religious right deeply, although it probably won't change a thing. The message: You're being used to help hypocritical lobbyists, politicians and pseudo-religious leaders rake in the dough.

If the "wackos" didn't wake up after the financial scandals of Jim Bakker and Robert Tilton, among others, they're not going to now. There's little difference, in my mind, between soliciting money from Christians in support of bogus ministries, and soliciting political activism on the part of Christians in support of bogus moral crusades whose covert purpose is to line the pockets of those stirring them up.

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Interesting essay on why Bush's foreign policy is increasingly hurting U.S. business and may even tip American CEO's towards supporting a Kerry or Clinton-like Dem.

Increasingly, the business press is suggesting that corporate leaders, who once hoped the current administration would push the corporate globalization of the Clinton years to new heights, now fear another fate from the international order Bush has created. Tax cuts and deregulation on the domestic front have been obvious bonuses, but otherwise many U.S. multinationals face a troubling scene. The White House's failed CEOs have pursued a global agenda that, at best, benefits a narrow slice of the American business community and leaves the rest exposed to a world of popular resentment and economic uncertainty.
In this context, it's not surprising that Republican "realists" like Brent Scowcroft (who warned in a Wall Street Journal op-ed before the war that "it undoubtedly would be very expensive -- with serious consequences for the U.S. and global economy") are making noise again. And it would make perfect sense if an increasing number of those Bush CEOs were by now pining for a return to Clinton-style multilateral globalization of a sort still held out by the defeated Senator from Massachusetts and many other Democrats.

Neither of these alternative camps will seem particularly appealing to progressives, but they pose a genuine threat to the imperial globalists who seem incapable of extracting themselves from Iraq. Indeed, intra-party rivalry among the Republicans -- which is likely to increase as we enter an election year -- could play a vital role in turning White House hawks into dead ducks. All the better if this avian transformation is sped by dissatisfaction from corporate leaders reevaluating the costs of Bush foreign policy and deciding that empire just doesn't pay.

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I meant to post on this before, but kept forgetting. Tuning in to Fox News the other morning (by default -- the hotel didn't have MSNBC, and CNN was doing a very long story on something non-political) at a very early hour I heard this headline: "Jobs up, unemployment down." THIS is the real story they were covering up with their misleading headline.

Employers added 56,000 to payrolls last month compared with a revised loss of 8,000 jobs in September, the Labor Department reported. Economists surveyed by were looking for 100,000 new jobs. The decline in September was the first drop in payrolls in more than two years.

The unemployment rate edged down to 5 percent from 5.1 percent in September, in part because a large number of people weren't counted as part of the labor force after the storms.

Kathleen Utgoff, the commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, said in a statement that while September's job losses were Katrina-related, the October weakness was due to softness in the labor market outside the storm-affected regions.
Still, employees apparently aren't keeping up with inflation. A jump in gasoline prices has lifted the overall Consumer Price Index, the government's key inflation index, up 4.7 percent over the 12 months ending in September.

Fox might well be called GOP News. It's pure pro-administration spin, and more than a significant factor in Bush's continued support by a third of the nation.

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When I was in the ninth grade I won a citywide DAR citizenship speech contest. Mine began with a dramatic intoning of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's famous threat to the U.S., "We will bury you." I went on to predict that American values of "liberty and justice for all" would overcome repressive, soulless communism. Our light, I said, and the devotion to human rights embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, would extinguish the darkness that communism sought to spread across the world.

That appeared to be the case when the Soviet Union collapsed. But the Bush administration seems to have adopted more of our enemies' values and tactics than those of our founding fathers.

Rosa Brooks agrees:

During the Cold War, we thought we knew what distinguished us from our Soviet bloc enemies. We did not have a gulag; we did not imprison and torture our enemies. But the war on terror has distorted our national values. We have used some of the same tactics we once decried. The Soviet Union's legacy of terror lives on, its tactics embraced by some of our leaders. Vice President Dick Cheney continues to insist that the McCain amendment, which prohibits U.S. personnel from cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners, should not be applicable to the CIA.

Somewhere in Moscow's Novodevichyi cemetery, Khrushchev is probably laughing inside his grave.

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The Texas Chief Justice's appointment of Senior Judge Pat Priest of San Antonio in the Tom DeLay case will stand.

Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson rejected prosecutors' attempts to have him removed from the criminal case of U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay and said his appointment of a new trial judge will stand.

On Friday, Jefferson turned down Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle's request that he remove himself from the case because he was heavily involved with a DeLay-founded political committee in the 2002 elections.

Jefferson said he did not have to recuse himself because his appointment of Senior Judge Pat Priest of San Antonio was a "purely administrative function."

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The NY Times book review skewers former FBI director Louis Freeh's new memoir.

Only Clinton, the president Freeh served from his appointment in 1993 until just before his retirement in 2001, comes in for anything like serious flak. Could this (please) be the last of that hopelessly tiresome literary genre, the anti-Bill-Clinton book? If so, the line ends with a whimper. The news coverage suggested that the juiciest of Freeh's allegations appeared to involve Clinton's slowing the investigation of a 1996 terrorist bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 Americans. Blocked from interviewing the detained suspects, Freeh appealed to the president to intercede with King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah. However, Freeh says, Clinton played down the F.B.I. request in favor of hitting up the crown prince for a donation to his presidential library. A Clinton spokesman denied the allegation, and even though Freeh makes it the centerpiece of his opening chapter, the anecdote turns out to rest on the skimpiest of attributions: "usually reliable sources." If that's all Freeh has, he has no business airing the charge in the first place.

Friday, November 4


Jonathan Chait on Bush's "dishonest mistakes":

Conservative columnist David Brooks wrote sneeringly Thursday of Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid's attempt to investigate "the Republican plot to manipulate intelligence to trick the American people into believing Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction." Brooks pointed out that the Clinton administration also believed that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Therefore, Reid must believe that Democrats were part of the conspiracy to fool the public. Therefore, Reid is crazy. Other conservatives have made the same point as Brooks.

Are they really so dense? It isn't that complicated. The Bush administration, like almost everybody else, made some honest mistakes. Unlike everybody else, it also made some dishonest mistakes. The Clintonites warned against Hussein's weapons, but they didn't bully intelligence analysts into suppressing contrary information, and they didn't pass on information they knew was false. That's what the investigation is about. Everybody got it?

Chait forgets that the U.N. inspectors, who were allowed by Saddam back into Iraq after 9/11 and before we went to war, reported on the basis of their inspections that they were finding no evidence that Saddam had rearmed after 1997-98. Bush's patience wore thin ("He wouldn't a black-and-white report, and ours was gray") and he ordered them out so he could rush to war.

Chait also neglects to mention that for all Bill Clinton or Congress knew, Bush was in possession of new evidence of Saddam's weapons program. Bush and Blair told the world that their intelligence sources had revealed, beyond doubt, that Iraq possessed a vast stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and was close to acquiring a nuclear arsenal as well. For those without access to this secret knowledge it was impossible to judge the veracity of the claims.

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Rep. Cynthia McKinney asks, "Where's the outrage?" about the overtly racist act of blocking Hurricane Katrina refugees from fleeing New Orleans via the Gretna bridge.

Today I will introduce legislation to strip all federal funds from the Gretna City Police Department, the Jefferson Parish Police, and the Crescent City Connection security force, all reportedly involved in the tragic blocking of the Gretna City bridge.

I was outraged, and I'll warrant many other Americans were as well. The eyewitness accounts of the few whites who were among the crowd of Katrina evacuees of police officers were chilling and convincing in their charges of racism on the part of the Gretna police. They insisted that police said they weren't going to allow "another Superdome" in their community. The excuse given later that they were just trying to protect the "valuables" left behind by fleeing Gretna citizens does not mitigate their action, but rather adds fuel to the assertion of racism -- the assumption by police that desperate evacuees, mostly black, would be more interested in stealing others' belongings than in their own safety, and the priority given to property over people.

This disgraceful incident merits serious consequences. If Congress won't do something, the Justice Department Civil Rights Division should. The Gretna sheriff (and all those who would adopt Bull Connor mindset and tactics) should be removed from his position of authority where he can perpetuate racism and endanger the lives of citizens merely because he doesn't like the look of them.

"We were told by the commander at the police command post ... that we should cross that bridge, and there would be buses waiting to take us out," he said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."

"We walked, probably 200 people, about a two-hour trek," Tim Sheer, another evacuee, told CNN's "News Night with Aaron Brown." "We got to the top of the bridge. They stopped us with shotguns.

"We had people in wheelchairs, we had people in strollers, people on crutches, so we were a slow-moving group," said Bradshaw. "And we didn't think anything when we saw the deputies there. Then all of a sudden we heard shooting."
"Jumped out of his car with the gun aimed at us, screaming and cursing and yelling at us to get the blank-blank away," he said "And just, just so rabidly angry. And we tried to reason, we tried to talk. And he was just putting his gun in the face of young children and families. It said Gretna on the police car."

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Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the Pontifical Council for Culture, warns that religion risks turning into "fundamentalism" if it ignores scientific reason.

"We know where scientific reason can end up by itself: the atomic bomb and the possibility of cloning human beings are fruit of a reason that wants to free itself from every ethical or religious link," he said.

"But we also know the dangers of a religion that severs its links with reason and becomes prey to fundamentalism," he said.

"The faithful have the obligation to listen to that which secular modern science has to offer, just as we ask that knowledge of the faith be taken in consideration as an expert voice in humanity."
Monsignor Gianfranco Basti, director of the Vatican project STOQ, or Science, Theology and Ontological Quest, reaffirmed John Paul's 1996 statement that evolution was "more than just a hypothesis."

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The Larry King interview with former president Jimmy Carter last night was ... well, it was wonderful. "Jimmeh" (one of my personal heroes) was his consistently humble, wise, compassionate self, an example I wish all politicians would follow. Some highlights:

"...for the first time in the history of our country since Thomas Jefferson said build a wall between church and state there has been a deliberate and overt, not secret melding of religion and politics or the church and state, which I believe is not only contrary to what our founding fathers intended and what everyone else has agreed to the last 230 years but also in my opinion as a Christian it's different from what I've been taught to believe in my religion...But this is something that Thomas Jefferson espoused, as you know, when he said build a wall between church and state and I happen, as you know, I'm a Christian and I believe that Jesus Christ ordained this when he said 'Render under Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.' So, this breaking down of the barriers between the two is just one of the elements in recent years that causes me concern."
"Ordinarily most of us, whether we are Christians or Catholics or Protestants, whether we are Jews or whether we might be Muslims, we basically agree on justice, on service to others, on humility, on truthfulness, on peace, I worship the Prince of Peace, on forgiveness and on compassion. So, there are a lot of things that bind us together.

"A fundamentalist though, as I define in this book, in extreme cases has come to the forefront in recent years both in Islam and in some areas of Christianity. A fundamentalist by, almost by definition as I describe is a very strong male religious leader, always a man, who believes that he is completely wedded to God, has a special privilege and relationship to God above others.

"And, therefore, since he speaks basically in his opinion for God, anyone who disagrees with him at all is inherently and by definition wrong and therefore inferior. And one of the first things that a male fundamentalist wants to do is to subjugate women to make them subservient and to subjugate others that don't believe as he does.

"The other thing they do, and this is the only other thing I'll add, is that they don't believe that it's right to negotiate or to compromise with people who disagree with them because any deviation from their absolute beliefs is a derogation of their own faith. So, those two things, exclusiveness, domination and being very highly biased are the elements of fundamentalism.
"we had the Second World War, which was a lot more destructive for our people. In fact, my own uncle, Tom Gordy (ph), was captured by the Japanese about two weeks after Pearl Harbor and he was a prisoner for four years. He was tortured severely, only weighed 85 pounds when he came out of prison. He was almost dead.

And after that the Geneva Accords were written, which was approved by and even negotiated by the United States and we agreed that in order to protect our own reputation and in order to prevent our own service people from being tortured if they were captured that we would not torture prisoners who were held by us."
"After 9/11 there was a unanimous approbation and sympathy for our country around the world. We had the opportunity then, Larry, of forming a phalanx of almost every nation on earth to join in a concerted team effort to root out and to minimize the adverse effect or threats from terrorism.

"We frittered that away by unnecessarily going into Iraq under false pretenses and now, of course, we have had more than 2,000 of our young people die, in my opinion heroically but in an unnecessary war."
"I think that these social issues can divide people unnecessarily. We ought to work on things in religion, I presume that you're talking about religion, that would bring us together, a consistent commitment to justice.

"We worship the prince of peace, not preemptive war. We should believe in humility. We should believe in being generous to people who are in need.

"And we should not favor the richest people in America with tremendous tax breaks at the expense of people who are working family or poor people."
"As you know, the minimum wage under this administration has been frozen at $5.15. Since it was frozen the Congress have increased their own salaries by $30,000 a year. We have one of the lowest minimum wages in the whole world in the developed parts of the world.

"And this has been a radical change over the past as well because almost all of the taxes that have been reduced have been for the richest people on earth.

"And many conservatives, I'm sure a lot of them in Alabama, your neighbors, are very deeply concerned about the unprecedented deficits that have been accumulated during the last four or five years.

"And the deficits have been brought about not because we're giving better services to, the working class people that you represent, but because we've given the enormous tax breaks to the richest Americans alive."
"I believe that the recent public opinion polls, Larry, have shown a great and growing disillusionment with what's been happening in Washington in the last five years. And there's a doubt about this administration and the direction it's going.

"And I don't think there's any doubt that there's a strong belief among most Americans that we ought to keep fundamentalism out of religion and out of politics, and we ought not to meld the two, and separate and break down the wall between church and state that's been part of our heritage since the founding fathers' times."

Transcript here.

Thursday, November 3


Greetings from Portland, OR. This week has been a blur, Dallas on Monday, Albuquerque on Tuesday, San Diego on Wednesday, today in Orange County and arriving just an hour ago in Portland. I hope to be out of here by noon tomorrow and back in Dallas for a little rest on the weekend. Sunday I fly out to Minneapolis, spend Tuesday in Detroit and Wednesday in Raleigh/Durham.

I'm bewildered by the price of housing outside of Dallas, which is one of the most affordable markets in the country -- how I take it for granted! How can ordinary people afford such prices as I've observed during the past several weeks? In San Diego I filmed a condominium project where the condos are priced at a half-mil and are so small (virtually studio efficiencies, one room and a bathroom) that prospective buyers are offered seminars that demonstrate how and where to purchase furniture (such as Murphy beds) to make the most of small spaces. Today in Temecula I filmed a couple of developments where prices ranged from $700k to $1.7 million, not a single house was over 3,500 sf and every yard was about as big as a handkerchief. Where do all the buyers come from?

By the way, the two-lane Ortega Highway through the Cleveland National Forest is one of the most scenic roads I've ever traveled. The view of Lake Elsinore as you drive up the mountain is breath-stealing. I did have a few nerves as we swerved around hairpin curves that had virtually no shoulder. At one point an eighteen-wheeler confronted us (he was well over the dividing line), and I was afraid our five-ton grip truck was going to go hurtling off the side of the mountain.

Well, it's time to catch up with the news and then try to steal a little sleep before I have to meet the film crew at 6 a.m.

Wednesday, November 2


Garance Franke-Ruta over at TAPPED does a little digging and discovers that Pennsylvania lawmakers during the time of Casey deemed it necessary that a wife notify her husband before having an abortion but not that an HIV-infected husband notify his wife of the fact. What does such an attitude reveal, that a man could have his secrets (even deadly ones) but a wife better not keep anything from him? Hm, maybe that a woman and her womb are the property of her husband to dispose of as he wills?

Notice that there is no state demand that a man inform his wife that she may be at risk of contracting a deadly disease from him. He is asked to do so as a matter of decency, and there is an option for physicians to intervene to inform the wife if it seems likely the man will not do so. But in situations where the husband (or other sexual partner) chooses to lie to the physician about his intentions, the state holds both the man and the physician blameless.

The overwhelmingly male legislators of the state of Pennsylvania thought it perfectly appropriate to intervene in a woman's marriage and deny her the freedom to make reproductive choices without coercion, threats, or worse from her husband. Judge Samuel Alito agreed with those legislators. And yet, should that same husband carry HIV, the state would have left informing his wife of this fact to his discretion, and would require from him no proof or signed affirmation that he had, in fact, informed her.

The only commonality in the state's approach to these two (admittedly different) scenarios was, in each instance, to effectively diminish the power of the female part of the couple to control her fate and what happens inside her own body.

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Failure to find WMD, comparing the devastating losses of Katrina victims to Trent Lott's losing a vacation home, leaking the name of a covert CIA agent -- Bush's sense of humor, the subjects he finds funny, reveal a very sick, twisted personality.

The Roosevelt Room
November 1, 2005

With that, we'll start. Jorge, como yo.

Q Mr. President, in Argentina, you will have a bilateral meeting with President Kirchner.


Q What I want to know -- sources of the government told me that they would ask you about more cooperation on support for Argentina, you know, in the IMF fund --


Q Exactly.

THE PRESIDENT: Please don't tell me that the government leaks secrets about conversations to the --

Q Well, I have my sources in the government.

THE PRESIDENT: You do? Okay, well I'm not going to ask you who they are, of course. (Laughter.)

Q No, please.

THE PRESIDENT: Inside joke here, for my team. (Laughter.)


CNN's web site is asking, Does there need to be a debate on the reasons for going to war in Iraq?

Vote now.

The results at this hour:

Yes, we need answers 67%
No, let's move on 33%

"He who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it."


Bush and the GOP leadership have an affinity for war. The one in Iraq isn't going well, so they've declared a new front in their war on terror: poor Americans. Poor people are frightening to well-dressed, well-fed Republicans -- they absorb federal revenues that could better be used to further enrich the richest of us. They're terrified that images of hungry children might stir voters to compassion and demands that the GOP Congressional majority actually use a few of the billions being wasted on Iraq on our own people. So they've decided to food stamp them out.

Indeed, this newfound concern for tight budgetary control seems more like an excuse to inflict pain on those who cannot defend themselves. Meanwhile, the urge to reward those who already have too much continues, unbounded by any fiscal worries.
Of course, these "compassionate conservatives" did not content themselves with cutting food stamps. They are also contemplating cutbacks in Medicaid, the health-insurance program that serves the poor, specifically targeting millions of low-income children for reduced services and co-payments. Kids living in poverty are going to be deprived of eyeglasses, hearing aids and other crucial care.

School lunches are also going to be cut for some of those little losers whose families need food stamps, incidentally. And kids who need child support will also be out of luck, because the powerful House Ways and Means Committee has determined to cut back enforcement efforts against deadbeat parents. The Republicans, who deem themselves "pro-family," are determined to squeeze a few more bucks from low-income foster families and student-loan recipients as well.

What these politicians will not consider, as they ponder legislation between fund-raising banquets and golf outings, is any measure that might demand sacrifice from those who can well afford it. That would be biting the hands of those who provide the payoffs, in campaign contributions and defense funds and all kinds of ethically dubious freebies. Believe it or not, they intend to give still more tax breaks and subsidies to the nation's wealthiest citizens and corporations.

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As many as 65,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees could be evicted from their temporary apartments in Texas before Christmas.

As usual, the Bushies say, "It's the victims' fault."

FEMA officials say the problem is the evacuees. "It's their responsibility to use (the money) as it's intended for," FEMA spokesman Mike Sweet said, adding that refugees are eligible for more money if the original check paid for other necessities, such as food and clothing. "They need to provide us with receipts as well as a long-term housing plan" to secure more money for rent, he said. (Hey, these slackers should find the invisible FEMA office near them, use their nonexistent computer to write a report and e-mail it in using their virtual internet access -- the dopes are all savvy surfers, right? -- and we'll give them another lousy $2,300 to cover rent, food, medical expenses, transportation, etc. for three or four months...if we think their report deserves a passing grade, that is.)

Sound familiar?

"People had ample time to prepare, and it isn't that hard to get 72 hours worth of food and water, to do the simple things we ask people to do," Gov. Jeb Bush said.




Hoo boy. David Broder delivers a smackdown to conservatives and Dubya.

But after Bush acquiesced in the conservative movement's uproar denying Miers her chance for an up-or-down Senate vote, or even a hearing in that committee, there is no plausible way the White House can insist that every major judicial nominee deserves such a vote.

That was the rationale behind the threatened "nuclear option" in the Senate, the mid-session rule change that would have banned judicial filibusters. If the mass of Democrats and a few Republicans who may be dismayed by Alito's stands on abortion and other issues can muster the 41 votes needed to sustain a filibuster under current rules, they now have precedent for using their power.

The conservative screamers who shot down Miers can argue that they were fighting only for a "qualified" nominee, though it is plain that many of them wanted more -- a guarantee that Miers would do their bidding and overrule Roe v. Wade . But whatever the rationale, the fact is that they short-circuited the confirmation process by raising hell with Bush. Certainly there can be no greater sin in a sizable bloc of sitting senators using long-standing Senate rules to stymie a nomination than a cabal of outsiders -- a lynching squad of right-wing journalists, self-sanctified religious and moral organizations, and other frustrated power-brokers -- rolling over the president they all ostensibly support.
Politically, the president probably had no choice but to reach back for his conservative base in making the Alito nomination. At his current levels of support, he has no place else to go. But the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll contains a clear warning. Self-described conservatives made up only 31 percent of the electorate. Moderates numbered 44 percent. And the moderates were nearly exact opposites of the conservatives in their views toward Bush, disapproving of his job performance by a 38 to 61 percent margin, while conservatives approved 61 to 39.

The risks of a Supreme Court showdown fight are at least as great for Bush as for the Democrats.

As I said last week, "One gratification resulting from the internecine war of the Republicans over the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court: we won't have to listen to that "up or down vote!" crap on any subsequent SCOTUS nominees. They wouldn't dare the mockery that would ensue." Broder appears to agree.

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What is it with Bush cronies and their avowed dreams of becoming commissioners of sports organizations?

First Condi Rice, with her insistence that she would love to be the commissioner of football.

Now, SCOTUS nominee Samuel Alito says that in college, "I think my real ambition at the time was to be commissioner of baseball."

I don't believe either one of them. Elitist Republicans have concluded that since fronting as owner of a baseball club paved the way for George W. Bush to become president of the United States, a similar avowed affinity for sports will make beer-drinking sports fans more inclined to see them as "regular guys" and help them to achieve their real dream: power.


People For the American Way has documented why Judge Samuel Alito will be a disaster for "Fundamental Legal Rights and Protections for All Americans."

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Tuesday, November 1


News reports have detailed how little the Bush administration cares about national security when weighed against the political value of destroying the credibility of critics of their policies. There's further compelling evidence of their cavalier attitude toward national security in the fact that the administration has missed dozens of deadlines imposed by Congress for developing ways to protect airplanes, ships, and railways from terrorists.

A plan to defend ships and ports from attack is six months overdue. Rules to protect air cargo from infiltration by terrorists are two months late. A study on the cost of antiterrorism training for federal law enforcement officers who fly commercially was supposed to be done more than three years ago.

The excuse of Homeland Security officials is that there are too many reports demanded and the organization of the huge department was an enormous undertaking. Excuse me, but that won't hold water since the agency can't demonstrate significant progress in even one of its major priorities. Border security has not even been addressed by this administration. Bush announces he will increase the number of border patrol agents by thousands and then quickly reduces the budget to allow for some 200. The reason? There's not enough money. It's more important to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to the uber-wealthy than to protect the country.

We know where his priorities lie. And national security isn't among them.

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Well, I just got into my hotel room (I left Dallas this morning at 6:30 a.m., spent the day in Albuquerque, and arrived in San Diego around 10 p.m.) about ten minutes ago, tuned in to Keith Olbermann and discovered that while I was directing a commercial today the Democratic Senate leadership demonstrated that they still have cojones!

So Bill Frist says he "can't trust Harry Reid." Har de har har har. The entire GOP leadership, from Dubya on down and certainly including Frist, has proven conclusively that the truth is not in them. Since the Republicans gained a majority in Congress, they have systematically excluded Democrats from participating in the legislative process, stonewalled ethics investigations, changed some rules and threatened others.

Harry Reid and Dick Durbin were acting completely within procedure when they invoked Rule 21 to question invoked Rule 21 why a second phase of investigation into prewar intelligence has not been completed. They certainly knew from recent history that left to their own devices Republican Senators would never fulfill their promise to investigate whether public statements by U.S. government officials were substantiated by intelligence information.

Frist showed himself the ultimate hypocrite when he said, "Not with the previous Democratic leader or the current Democratic leader have I been slapped in the face with such an affront to the leadership of this grand institution. Every other time there has been at least consideration for the other side of the aisle before a stunt, and this is a pure stunt, by Senator Reid." There has been no such previous "affront" because Democrats have been exercising the patience of Job expecting Frist and Hastert to demonstrate they are men of their word. The patience has worn thin, thank goodness. The Senate Dems stood tall today and showed some strategic acumen. They seized center stage and returned the national discussion to where it belongs, the Iraq War and the Bushies' responsibility for it, negating Dubya/Rove's attempts to turn our attention away from the Libby indictment to the right-wing's success in forcing a radical conservative's nomination to the Supreme Court. Reid and his fellow Senate Democratic strategists must now stand firm and refuse to compromise with those to whom compromise is merely a delaying ruse while they form their plan to force complete surrender and annihilation of the opposition.

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Sunday, October 30


Former Federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega makes the case against Bush:

The evidence shows, then, that from early 2002 to at least March 2003, the President and his aides conspired to defraud the United States by intentionally misrepresenting intelligence about Iraq to persuade Congress to authorize force, thereby interfering with Congress's lawful functions of overseeing foreign affairs and making appropriations, all of which violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

To what standards should we hold our government officials? Certainly standards as high as those Bush articulated for corporate officials. Higher, one would think. The President and Vice President and their appointees take an oath to defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States. If they fail to leave their campaign tactics and deceits behind -- if they use the Oval Office to trick the public and Congress into supporting a war -- we must hold them accountable. It's not a question of politics. It's a question of law.

It's time to talk impeachment.

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At last the Bushies are revealed in all their lying, corrupt, hypocritical, arrogant ugliness. The "better people" who think anything goes except sex outside of marriage (the one-woman-one-man kind, that is) -- oh wait, that's okay too as long as you're a Republican and keep it hushed up -- are presiding over the only administration in 130 years to have a White House aide indicted. And now the whole nasty cabal may be imploding.

Paul Begala:

It is not boilerplate to state that those accused are entitled to the presumption of innocence. But that is a legal matter. As a matter of morality, the Bushies are already guilty. Guilty of smearing the Wilson family. Guilty of twisting intelligence. Guilty of lying about the role of White House aides in outing Mrs. Wilson. Guilty of sanctimony and hypocrisy and hubris. Most of all, they are guilty of misleading us into this God-awful war.

So, yes, I feel sorry for those indicted and those under investigation, and especially for their families. They are going through hell. But it's nothing compared to the pain of 2,000 families who've lost a loved one in Iraq, or 15,000 families whose loved one has shed blood or lost limbs in the war Mr. Bush and his "better people" have started.

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Newsweek reports on the last-minute evidence offered by Karl Rove; and this was enough to save him from an indictment?

One small item was a July 11, 2003, e-mail Rove sent to former press aide Adam Levine saying Levine could come up to his office to discuss a personnel issue. The e-mail was at 11:17 a.m., minutes after Rove had gotten off the phone with Matt Cooper—the same conversation (in which White House critic Joe Wilson's wife's work for the CIA was discussed) that Rove originally failed to disclose to the grand jury. Levine, with whom Rove often discussed his talks with reporters, did immediately go up to see Rove. But as Levine told the FBI last week, Rove never said anything about Cooper. The Levine talk was arguably helpful to one of Luskin's arguments: that, as a senior White House official, Rove dealt with a wide range of matters and might not remember every conversation he has had with journalists.

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Good for 60 Minutes for giving airtime to actual CIA agents to express their outrage at the outing of Valerie Plame. James Marcinkowski said Novak's blowing of her CIA front company, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, likely outed other agents who used the B-J front as well. Melissa Maylies stressed that Plame was working on terribly sensitive and important issues of WMD, which countries and groups have the potential to acquire biological weapons. Both emphasized how much danger she was in as a NOC and how covers change from time to time according to the demands and needs of their work.

Joe Wilson told Ed Bradley, who watched the Fitzgerald press conference with him, that it was the White House that decided to go after him through his wife. He insisted that Valerie's status as a CIA agent was unknown even to most of her family before Bob Novak published her name and front company, recounting how his sister-in-law turned to his brother the day the Novak column came out and asked, "Do you think Joe knew?" He said Valerie was completely taken by surprise by her exposure and immediately realized that her career was over, wondering, he said, for what? There have been specific threats, he said, and the Wilsons have discussed her safety with several governmental agencies.

Marcinkowski added that every ambassador's wife will now be under suspicion of being a spy.

Maylies commented, "We risk the lives of our agents to protect our country and when something like this happens, it's not the North Koreans or the Russians, we're being undermined by officials of our own country. That," she said, "I find galling."

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Carlos Watson of CNN is reporting that Bush has selected his next SCOTUS nominee and will probably announce the name on Monday.


This case -- pre-war intelligence, Valerie Plame, etc. -- is, if not evidence of a criminal conspiracy to delude Americans into supporting a thinly justified war of choice, then is certainly further proof of an administration that is, at bottom, incompetent. If Libby didn't know that Plame was covert, he should have. Once learning that a CIA employee is involved in ANYTHING, shouldn't a national security-conscious administration take pains to determine that agent's status before disclosing anything even remotely concerning her?

And relative to the Niger (now acknowledged as clumsily faked) documents, shouldn't that same administration have questioned and verified their authenticity at least as much as they did those that Dan Rather revealed on his infamous 60 Minutes report?

The obvious answer is "Yes!" So why does the MSM let the "war party" GOP get away with it?

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The British Independent On Sunday trumpets its scoop on Joe Wilson and the Niger connection.

Britain continued to insist, however, that it had separate intelligence that validated the claim. The Foreign Office hinted that it was connected to the visit of an "Iraqi delegation" to Niger in 1999, but when the IoS interviewed Wissam al-Zahawie, the only Iraqi diplomat to go there that year, he said he had been investigated and cleared by both the UN and the US.
Mr Wilson long suspected the attempt to smear him went to the very heart of the administration. In a subsequent memoir, The Politics of Truth, subtitled "Inside the lies that led to war and betrayed my wife's CIA identity", he wrote: "I am told ... that the office of the Vice-President - either the Vice-President himself or more likely his chief of staff, Lewis 'Scooter' Libby - chaired a meeting at which a decision was made to do a work-up on me." And Mr Wilson told the IoS he believed it was very unlikely that Dick Cheney was not aware of what was happening. "If he did not know about it, he should be saying so."


Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter speaks, and not softly, about the necessity for Americans to redress the wrongs of BushCo re the Iraq War. It's time someone spoke boldly about our responsiblity for our own government's actions. While I used to find the "Don't Blame Me -- I Voted for -------" opposition bumper stickers mildly amusing, the truth is, we're all in this together. There were no blanket forgiveness vouchers for "good Germans" after WWII except for those who actively, and bravely, opposed the Nazi Party at great risk to themselves. Why should we get a pass just because we voted for Kerry? If, armed with the information we now have, we of the opposition party do not aggressively fight for the American ideal and cry "J'accuse!" at the wrongful and despicable actions and agenda of the Bush political machine, we deserve to be indicted along with the perpetrators.

Having been duped into a war that has to date cost the lives of over 2,000 members of the armed forces (not to mention hundreds of our coalition partners and tens of thousands of Iraqis), the question now is how the citizenry of the world's most powerful representative democracy will respond.

Void of a major backlash on the part of the American people in response to the deliberate falsification and deceit that has transpired regarding Iraq and the now-debunked case for war, the Libby indictment may prove to be little more than an exercise in damage control.
If the American people go along with such blatant attempts at obscuring the reality of the criminal conspiracy that has been committed, then it is perhaps time we finally lay to rest this experiment we call American democracy.
The crime that was committed goes far beyond the outing of a rogue diplomat's CIA-affiliated spouse, as serious as that charge may be. The deliberate and systematic manner in which the Bush administration, from the president on down, peddled misleading, distorted and fabricated information to Congress and the American people represents a frontal assault on the very system of government the United States of America proclaims to champion.


Timeh had three former presidential chiefs of staff (Leon Panetta -- Clinton, Ham Jordan -- Carter, Ken Duberstein -- Reagan ) and presidential historian Michael Beschloss on his show. Showed Reagan and Clinton denying, then taking responsibility for, notable scandals/mistakes on their watch. They discussed how presidents who 'fess up and apologize raise their poll ratings and find that the American people are very forgiving.

Tim quoted John Danforth's recent remarks about how the "Christian" right has taken over the GOP and divided the country. He asked, how does Bush embrace that base and still appeal to moderates?

KD: Ronald Reagan understood that the religious right doesn't expect everything their way. Bush needs to reach out and respond to them but say no to them on some things in an uninflammatory way. Bush needs to act as if he's campaigning for a third term and reach out to moderates.

HJ: The battle in American politics used to be about courting the middle. Now it's all about appealing to the extremes, and we've forgotten about the middle.

TR: How does he satisfy his base and still win in the Senate?

LP: If you simply appeal to the extremes government is not going to work. If Bush nominates someone to the Supreme Court that will antagonize and create trouble on Capitol Hill, that'll tell us a lot about his future, he'll be in real trouble.

I had to tune out after that, because my three-year-old grandson wanted to watch Sinbad. Priorities, priorities.


After reflecting for a while on the indictment of Scooter Libby and prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's statement, I simply don't understand why he didn't charge Libby, at least, with the underlying crime of exposing the identity of a covert CIA agent. The indictment itself indicates that they clearly had the goods on Libby. Plame's identity as an agent was classified, and Libby revealed it to people (journalists) who were not cleared to receive such information, and for no other reason than to destroy the credibility of her husband, who had made statements countering administration claims of an Iraqi nuclear threat. 'Nuff said.

Robert Parry thinks Fitzgerald doesn't understand just how serious was Libby's (and others') offense:

Fitzgerald, who is the U.S. Attorney in Chicago, appears to have bought into the notion that government officials had a right to discuss Plame’s covert status among themselves as long as they didn’t pass the secret on to journalists. Then Fitzgerald didn’t even seek punishment for that, limiting his criminal case to Libby’s lying about how and when he learned of Plame’s identity.

But to veterans of U.S. intelligence, one of the ugliest parts of Plame’s outing was the cavalier manner in which White House officials tossed around references to her CIA job to undercut her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for criticizing George W. Bush’s case for war with Iraq.

Sensitive Secrets

Within the U.S. government, few secrets are more sensitive than the identity of a CIA officer under “non-official cover,” or NOC, meaning the agent operates outside government protection, such as posing as a business executive as Plame did. Lacking diplomatic cover, a NOC faces a far greater chance of execution if caught spying.

“The CIA is obsessive about protecting its NOCs,” one angry former senior U.S. official told me after Libby was charged only with perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice. “There’s almost nothing they care about more.”

Fitzgerald did leave open the possibility there might be more charges against other officials but said he had completed the “substantial bulk” of his investigation. He also discouraged speculation that major new revelations were ahead and even skirted questions about whether an underlying crime had occurred in leaking Plame’s identity.

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