Saturday, March 4


Great essay by Eric Alterman.

Liberals, as Michael Kazin put it, have morphed in the public imagination "from people who looked, dressed and sounded like Woody Guthrie to people who look, dress and sound like Woody Allen."


Right Wingnuttia is after the head of former president Jimmy Carter. Seems Carter, along with Bishop Desmond Tutu and other Nobel Prize winners, is backing the UN resolution to form an improved Human Rights Councilagainst the wishes of US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton and the Bush administration. It is an imperfect solution, but an improvement, and the only one likely to pass at the current time.

Mr Annan, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Louise Arbour, and two leading human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, say the compromise proposal is still worth supporting. They have been joined by former US president Jimmy Carter and several other Nobel Prize winners who issued a joint letter calling on the US and others to back the deal.

Mr Annan, who discussed the new council on Sunday with the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, appealed on Monday for the US to "join the vast majority of governments who seem ready to accept" the proposal. He and other supporters said it constituted a serious improvement on the existing commission.

"We are a country that puts high value on human rights. We wouldn't vote in favour if we weren't sure it was going to be an improvement," said Chile's UN ambassador, Heraldo Muqoz, a dissident who was jailed under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Steve Clemons asserts that Bolton's opposition is insincere, that out of 30 meetings regarding the Council, he only attended one, and that his hard-line stance is an effort to create a political issue for '06.

The ultra-conservative NewsMax makes hay out of Carter's statement, "Carter told the Council: "My hope is that when the vote is taken, the other members will outvote the United States," noting that, "Publications that customarily do not support the Bush administration or Bolton, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, have come out in support of Bolton’s efforts." Yeah, right. The NYTimes and WaPo now have a five-year record of not just supporting but applauding numerous ill-conceived-and-executed Bush administration efforts, a record that eclipses any former reputation for liberal thought or news presentation.

Yesterday Sean Hannity on his radio show virtually insisted that Carter be branded a traitor for "going against his own country. Can you believe that? A former president of the United States who would back other countries against his own?" What the right wing echo chamber either doesn't understand (and I doubt that) or refuses to acknowledge is that Carter is not opposing his own nation -- he's opposing the Bush administration. The right-wing attitude that Bush is the nation (like General Bullmoose of "Li'l Abner" fame -- "What's good for General Bullmoose is good for the USA!") reminds one of DeGaulle's famous "L'etat, c'est moi!" (I am the state!). It's just more of this imperial presidency crap that should frighten the pants off any real American. Our whole history was based on rejection of a monarchy, yet around a third of our citizens seem ready and willing to make Dubya the object of an American-style Restoration. Of course, they'd only support such a presidency as long as a Republican occupied it, so they don't ever speak of what that does to the rule of law and how they'd proceed if a Democrat acceded to the presidency.

I suspect that's because they think they've fixed it so that can never again happen.

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Friday, March 3


Wow, this week on Lou Dobbs has been fun. Lou and Ed Rollins have made a great tag-team. Tonight
Lou blasted the president and his administration on several fronts. On Lou's primary crusade, "Exporting America" -- he said, "The president also made outrageous remarks about the export of American jobs to cheap overseas labor markets" and showed a clip of Bush speaking from New Delhi:

It's true that some Americans have lost jobs when their companies moved operations overseas. It's also important to remember that when someone loses a job, it's an incredibly difficult period for the worker and their families. Some people believe the answer to this problem is to wall off our economy from the world through protectionist policies. I strongly disagree.
The United States is India's largest trading partner, and India's one of the United States' fastest growing export markets. It's one of the reasons we met with the CEOs today, is how to further trade and how to further commerce and how to further opportunities.

And, oh, by the way, Mr. Prime minister, the United States is looking forward to eating Indian mangoes.

LOU: "President Bush praised the virtues of outsourcing in India despite the devastating impact on this nation's middle class. President Bush acknowledged losing jobs is painful, but the president said the solution is educating Americans so they can fill the jobs of the 21st century.

"So we thought you might be interested in knowing just exactly what those jobs in the 21st century are. And we wanted to use the most reliable source possible. We turned to the Labor Department. Well, here we go.

"Nursing assistants will be the fastest-growing job. The government says the job involves changing bed pans and offers low pay, little opportunity for advancement. As for education requirements, no high school diploma needed.

"And the restaurant industry proud to say it's a leader in job creation and the cornerstone of the nation's economy -- 12.5 million people, in fact, work in restaurants. Nearly as many employed in manufacturing. That, by the way, should please Gregory Mankue (ph), a professor at Harvard. He, of course, the president's economic adviser. He's the one who said making hamburgers should be classified as manufacture."

Lou's other hot topic was Bush's nuclear deal with India: "While in India, President Bush signed an agreement that will allow India to keep its nuclear weapons and to acquire U.S. nuclear technology, commercial technology, despite three decades of U.S. objection. Many members of Congress say this deal will simply encourage Iran, North Korea and other states with nuclear ambitions to defy the United States and Europe and the United Nations." Lou questioned Kitty Pilgrim, who reported on the deal, "If -- if Congress passes it, it could be considered a temporary disturbance in -- in our foreign policy. Is it likely that this Republican-led Congress, Senate and House, will approve this?" PILGRIM: "No. Many of the experts that we talked to today are dead set against the deal. I could not find a nuclear expert who thought this was a good deal."

Former White House political director and Republican strategist Ed Rollins tells Lou that the reality is that BushCo has just lost their touch. Every week there's something that affirms the fact that these guys don't know what they're doing, that they are incompetent. But it's week after week after week that they just can't seem to find their way. Normally a foreign trip gives you something. You go there, but if we're walking back with mangoes, and they're getting nuclear rods, that's not a very good swap. You can't very well be dumping on the North Koreans and the Iranians, which we need to do, when you're saying to India, "go ahead, we won't look."

GREAT MOMENTS from the show:

ED: Well, Donald Rumsfeld is state-of- the-art, state-of-the-art 1976. And, you know, he wanted to get that job again so he could finish, and he has that same thought process.

LOU: This president, this administration, his speech writers, his strategists, this has become the presidency of false choices. You either outsource or you're a protectionist. You're either for free trade or you're an economic isolationist. You're either a stay the core patriot in Iraq, or you're undermining our military efforts and assisting the enemy.

LOU TO ED: Is any part of this Bush government working? ED: Maybe Interior.

Transcript here.

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Ruy Teixeira on the latest CBS News Poll:

So what is [causing the drop in approval in the CBS News poll]? A drop in support across all party groups, but especially among Republicans. In January, approval among Republicans was 83%. In February it dropped to 72%, a shocking 11% decline among the president's base. Among Independents support fell from 34% to 29% and among Democrats from 14% to 9%, in both cases less than half the percentage point decline as among Republicans. This also compares to support among Republicans which had remained above 90% into early 2005.....

....While the CBS poll is generally a couple of percentage points less favorable than the overall trend, the drop of 8% here, and the 7% decline in the Cook poll should send alarms ringing in the White House and in Republican Congressional circles. After a fairly good November and December, the Bush presidency appears once more to be slipping into the kind of poll numbers that suck all political capital out of negotiations with Congress, and that set the stage for especially difficult congressional and gubernatorial races in the fall.

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Oh thank you, Lord, oh glory. Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry, has agreed to a settlement in a patent dispute so that BB can continue operations.

For more than a year those of us known as "crackberries" due to our dependence upon our Blackberry PDAs, have been suffering great anxiety at the thought of interrupted service, the possibility of losing the portion of our lives that is invested and documented in our Blackberries. In my case my company's IT department has refused to upgrade or spend much time servicing our BBs for more than a year.

Finally. I can get that upgraded Internet service on my BB.



The vote was 11-5, with some Democrats joining Republicans in voting the proposal down.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs voted 11-5 to defeat a proposal by its chairman, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and its ranking Democrat, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., that would have created an Office of Public Integrity to toughen enforcement and combat the loss of reputation that Congress suffered after the guilty plea in January of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Democrats joined Republicans in killing the proposal.

The vote was described by government watchdog groups and several legislators as the latest example of Congress' waning interest in stringent lobby reform.

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Here are the ten gutsy Senators who voted against renewed authorization of the USA Patriot Act:

Akaka (D-HI)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Byrd (D-WV)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Murray (D-WA)
Wyden (D-OR)

Remember them. Reward them.

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Thursday, March 2


So Bush's selection criteria for key Iraq government positions is the willingness of the candidate to thank America.

Well, let's be real, the Iraq war is a cornerstone of the George W. Bush brand. You thank America for its great service to Iraq, you're thanking Dubya. He understands that and is exploiting it.

In Bremer's account, the President was seriously interested in one issue: whether the leaders of the government that followed the CPA would publicly thank the United States. But there is no evidence that he cared about the specific questions that counted: Would the new prime minister have a broad base of support? Would he be able to bridge Iraq's ethnic divisions? What political values should he have? Instead, Bush had only one demand: "It's important to have someone who's willing to stand up and thank the American people for their sacrifice in liberating Iraq." According to Bremer, he came back to this single point three times in the same meeting. Similarly, Ghazi al-Yawar, an obscure Sunni Arab businessman, became Bush's candidate for president of Iraq's interim government because, as Bremer reports, Bush had "been favorably impressed with his open thanks to the Coalition."


A second Dubai-owned company is about to complete the purchase of a British company that operates U.S. plants making parts for defense contractors.

The Doncasters deal would include several U.S. plants that manufacture aerospace turbines, turbine blades, and airfoils for aircraft engines.
But New York Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat, said the news that CFIUS was conducting an extra review of a company making parts for defense contractors only added to his puzzlement about why CFIUS did not initially conduct a 45-day review of the Dubai company that managed port facilities.

"Why do they do a 45-day review for tank engines in a box, but not for possible nuclear weapons in a ship's container?" Schumer said at the banking panel hearing.

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Oh I just love it when Lou Dobbs goes righteous.

He just aired a clip of former Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke saying something to the effect of, "I can forgive the American people [that part of the quote is verbatim] for not understanding the Dubai ports deal. They're busy people, they have things to do, they shouldn't have to be informed, there are people supposed to do that."

Lou captioned the segment "I Can Forgive" and then made the post-clip remark, "I wanted to share that with you personally because I think it's a metaphor for an attitude, an attitude that is prevalent in [this administration] this town. It's a metaphor for an attitude that I think is unfortunate."

UPDATE: Republican strategist-par-winningance Ed Rollins just put the shiv into Torie. "I'd like to say to Torie Clarke, who's a friend, that maybe the American people will forgive HER for standing up every day and defending Don Rumsfeld when he was leading the country into the miasma that is Iraq." (something like that)

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Results of a new CNN/USA Today opinion poll:

* How Bush is handling terrorism (approve) 47%
* 59% say Pres. Bush cannot govern effectively
* 58% say Bush not paying enough attention to what his administration is doing
* Bush's handling of Iraq (approve) 35% (disapprove) 64%
* Civil war likely in Iraq within next year 73%
* Invasion of Iraq a mistake 55%
* Choice for Congress --53% Dem 39% Rep

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That most neocon of all former CIA directors, Woolsey the Woolly Thinker, asserted to a Senate committee investigating Dubya's domestic spying program yesterday that the entire United States is now a battlefield.

And a former CIA director, R. James Woolsey, who served under President George H.W. Bush, said the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 transformed all of the United States into a battlefield, and that Congress could not restrict a president's constitutional power to conduct war as the commander in chief sees fit.

"Unlike the Cold War, our intelligence requirements are not just overseas," Woolsey said. "The country has been invaded, though of course not occupied, and defending against an invasion is at the heart of the president's powers."

Following this logic, does Woolsey propose that all civil power now resides with the president? That he can override state and local law as well as federal in the execution of his holy war on terror? Boy, that was one hell of an invasion, wasn't it? Less than two dozen invaders facing a population of 300 million? Again with the upside-down-speak! It wasn't an invasion, it was a terrorist attack. One attack, not a series. It was a suicide mission. Finis.

Still, Robert Levy, a senior fellow in constitutional studies with the libertarian Cato Institute, sought to preserve a distinction between "real" battlefields, such as the Afghanistan war zone, and the threat of terrorism at home.

I have HAD ENOUGH of Bush administration/neocon fear-mongering. Wake up, America. The pseudo-cowboy president many of you profess to admire has spent his entire administration telling you you are a weak sister, that little scary freedom-haters are going to attack your family, destroy your country, and make you pray in mosques. He doesn't stand up and swat away Al Qaeda like so many annoying pests, he instills them with super-human powers and inflates their threats to a degree that they seem more terrifying than the old Communist boogeyman. There are perhaps hundreds of hard-core Al Qaeda -- certainly the number does not exceed the small thousands. They are not backed by any state. They are not enough of a threat to cause BushCo to secure our borders, inspect cargo containers, or back aggressive actions to prevent proliferation of WMD.

They're just effective as a Damocles sword in getting Bush what he wants: expanded presidential powers, limits on American civil liberties, and leverage for his domestic agenda with cowardly politicos who don't want to be accused of being soft on terrorism.

I refuse to view my country as a battleground. It is home. And if it IS a battleground, Messrs. Woolsey, Bush and Cheney, then what does that say about your current raison d'etre for Middle East interventionism, i.e., "We're fighting them over there so we won't have to fight them here."

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Oh my yes, last night's Seminole victory over Duke was quite a treat. There were big smiles at Motherlode's house, believe me.

I wasn't quite sure why the Duke team was escorted into their locker room seconds before the game ended. Did Duke coach Mike Krzyzweski think the Seminole fans were going to attack them? Please! He said he "feared for his players' safety." It's not like the officials gave the game away to Duke. We WON, for crying out loud. Celebration was the cause of the moment, that was the cause of the fans storming the court earlier, and I'm rather offended (although it's not really a big deal) Mike K had to make it look like we're a bunch of state-school loonies who would cause harm to his precious aristocratic Blue Devils.


Give credit for conscience and courage to The Fantastic Four who voted against renewal of the USA Patriot Act:

Byrd (D-WV)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Jeffords (I-VT)

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Murray Waas.

Two highly classified intelligence reports delivered directly to President Bush before the Iraq war cast doubt on key public assertions made by the president, Vice President Cheney, and other administration officials as justifications for invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein, according to records and knowledgeable sources.
On at least four earlier occasions, beginning in the spring of 2002, according to the same records and sources, the president was informed during his morning intelligence briefing that U.S. intelligence agencies believed it was unlikely that Saddam was an imminent threat to the United States.

However, in the months leading up to the war, Bush, Cheney, and Cabinet members repeatedly asserted that Saddam was likely to use chemical or biological weapons against the United States or to provide such weapons to Al Qaeda or another terrorist group.

The Bush administration used the potential threat from Saddam as a major rationale in making the case to go to war. The president cited the threat in an address to the United Nations on September 12, 2002, in an October 7, 2002, speech to the American people, and in his State of the Union address on January 28, 2003.


National Journal begins handicapping the '08 presidential race, and I don't like their pick for top 5 Democratic hopefuls. They list (in this order) Hillary, ex-VA governor Mark Warner, John Edwards, IN Senator Evan Bayh, and NM governor Bill Richardson. Mark Warner has no foreign policy experience and really botched the Democratic response to the State of the Union address. How could he be the #2 contender at this point? John Edwards I like, Evan Bayh is a sometimes-Dem, sometimes-Bush supporter who reminds me more of Joe Biden without the passion, and Bill Richardson is not going to be a contender. Period.

However, I can't complain much, considering their Republico picks: Cynical John McCain, brain-dead George Allen, opportunist Mitt Romney, the resurrected Mike Huckabee, and the morally and ethically challenged Newt Gingrich.


Wednesday, March 1


Big story everyone's talking about on TV news: An AP video showing the president, Michael Chertoff and then-FEMA Director Michael Brown being briefed the day before Katrina struck on the possible dimensions of the disaster-to-come, including the possibility that the levees could be breached, with loss of life. This comes in contrast to an interview days after Katrina, where the president said, "Nobody could have anticipated" that the levees would not hold. [Note: "Brownie" says in the video that his gut tells him this is going to be a big one.]

On Hardball National Review's Kate O'Beirne explained, "The government failed" because government fails, that's what it does.

Tweety seemed most worried about Bush's unfavorables. He just couldn't BUH-LEEVE that people are finding the same lovable traits their fearless leader embodies, those same characteristics that caused a majority of them to re-elect him president in November 2004, no longer attractive. What could be the reason? he queried.

Kate: Blah, blah, yadda-yadda-yadda, Bush fatigue.

Consensus from the non-NRO types: How much more of a hit can Bush taken than 34%? But the tapes do raise questions of competence. Bush claimed there was no "situational awareness" about Katrina -- and re Iraq, where there does also seem to be a lack of "situational awareness" -- it makes you ask, does the president really know anything that's going on until long after? The tape is a political problem, though, tape and photographs are always a problem.

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Sunday, February 26


Tom Friedman just said to National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley on Face The Nation: "You know these national security concerns [about the UAE-owned DPW ports deal] are bogus." What a wanker.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) disagreed and read documentation that supported the assertion that if the terminal operators are infiltrated by a terrorist organization, they could wreak havoc on port operations and national security.

Friedman asked, how much of this is about Arabs and Muslims operating our ports?

Chuck Schumer replied, it's about the nexus with terrorism. Lindsey Graham said let's slow down and investigate this and not be bullied into agreeing. The administration was completely tone-deaf about this, Congress and the governors shouldn't have had to find out about this from the papers.

Friedman fed the administration line throughout. He was such an obvious shill for the Bushies that he was totally ineffective in the job.

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A Nation Teeters on Brink of Civil War.

UN chief concerned over escalating violence in Middle East.

In the Middle East, all blame America.

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