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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 01/29/2006 - 02/05/2006
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, February 04, 2006

If there is a hell, Fred Phelps is going there

to say that fred phelps crawled out from under a rock would be a grievous insult to everything that actually did crawl out from under a rock...
Adding insult to injury, Westboro Baptist Church, led by anti-gay extremist Fred Phelps, is planning a protest at Coretta Scott King's funeral at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church on Tuesday, February 7 at 12 noon.

WBC said “for more than 10 years that by endorsing the homosexual agenda she was brining down the wrath of God upon herself, her family and the black civil rights movement. She is an ingrate-unthankful and unholy.”

i'm sure that the fact he still continues to generate publicity, even if it's virtually all of the super-negative kind (like mine, for instance), only serves to keep this sorry excuse for a human being going...

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The level of WaPo's naïveté about the R's is touching

While the parties may split on whether Justice Alito belongs on the high court, . . . the Senate stood strongly behind the principle that a nominee -- in the absence of the most unusual of circumstances -- is entitled to a vote. Republicans should keep that in mind the next time a Democratic president makes a nomination.

what a sweet thought... if the r's weren't focused on insuring that the u.s. never HAS another democratic president and that george gets appointed president-for-life, i might regard it as noble sentiment... but, as things stand, it is to laugh...

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Addicted to oil? Shifting the blame

Reading the comments to this post over at Media Matters for America and this one jumped out at me. (Emphasis mine)
The identification of Liberals as "HATERS" is a carefully calculated tactic. If Liberals can be portrayed as irrationally emotional, then NONE of their criticisms is valid. They can be dismissed as "haters" and "fringe radicals". Even when we seek to have the Constitution honored.

Bush used this same tactic in his SOTU speech, claiming America is ADDICTED to oil. Why choose such a loaded word? Because the oil companies are raking in obscene profits, because Bush's foreign policy is driving up prices, because Cheney had "SECRET MEETINGS" to establish our current policy of windfall profits for oil companies, and the BLAME has to be shifted.

By identifying ALL AMERICA as "addicts", this puts the BLAME for America's energy/gas woes ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Thus, the Administration escapes all blame. An ADDICT causes his own problems, and the ADDICT has both physical and mental flaws which make him the scapegoat in nearly every circumstance. The ADDICT's behavior is his own, and so nobody else can be blamed. Since we are "addicted" to oil, then whatever befalls us price-wise is OUR OWN FAULT. Further, by identifying ALL AMERICA as ADDICTS, this puts the "character" onus on THE PEOPLE. The Administration can claim VIRTUE, but all those ADDICTS out there have no character, no strength of will, no self control, and so the Administration has an impossible task.

Make no mistake; these "identifying labels" are carefully crafted, to be both subtle and wide reaching, with the ultimate goal of ABSOLVING those with POWER of any blame, and shifting ALL blame to those who suffer the most.

Exxon and Halliburton posted RECORD profits in the TENS OF BILLIONS. Why? It's not their doing; the American People are just ADDICTS.
- tex / Thursday February 2, 2006 01:10:14 AM EST

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Friday, February 03, 2006

An Extra $90B for Iraq...? Extra...?!?! EXTRA...?!?!?

here's a headline to make you blink rapidly and rub your eyes...



hey, what's $90B among friends, eh...?

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A couple of views on Argentina - both from the Financial Times

first of all, a perspective on how argentina is trying to cope with a resurgence of inflation, a dangerous reminder of times past...
A troubling acceleration in the rate of inflation - the greatest threat to Argentina's spectacular recovery since the largest sovereign debt default four years ago - is becoming more of a factor. The threat is behind President Nestór Kirchner's vigorous imposition of price ceilings on a range of basic goods, including beef.

Discussions between the government and business leaders have led to the renewal of price agreements with dozens of companies this year, including Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Danone and Kimberly-Clark. Just this week, the government secured agreements with supermarkets, such as Carrefour, to freeze prices on 200 products.

Economists point out the obvious practical difficulties involved in such negotiations: "The president himself is sitting down with [for example] milk producers to discuss the price of yoghurt - it's insane," says Joaquín Cottani, of Macrovision Consulting, a former undersecretary of economic policy and chief Latin America economist of Lehman Brothers. "Argentina has not discovered a new economic model," he says, highlighting the country's unsuccessful past attempts at using price controls, which resulted in hyperinflation.

the next story highlights how a recent agreement between argentina and brazil may end up undercutting mercosur...
Brazil and Argentina have agreed on measures to protect their respective producers against each other in a further weakening of Mercosur, the customs union between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

After a 21-hour meeting in Buenos Aires that ended on Wednesday, the two countries agreed to adopt a so-called "competitive adjustment mechanism" under which sectors in either country may demand protection if their members feel they are being harmed by rising imports from the other.

Imports affected by the mechanism will be subject to quotas, in excess of which they will incur tariffs equal to 90 per cent of those applicable to goods from outside Mercosur.

i'm a big fan of argentina and i'm really hoping they can figure out how to get out of their problems in one piece...

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Valley of the Wolves

We have come a long way since the Reagan years. Back then, bulls eye t-shirts with the nose of Muammar Quaddafi at the red-dot center were selling like hot cakes. Movies slung from hollywood like Iron Eagle (1986), Wanted: Dead or Alive (1987); and DeathBefore Dishonor (1987) presciently warned us of the dire consequences for any rogue Arab state deciding to step outside the role of oil supplier and into that of international terrorist.

Shortly after 911, as i was driving in one of my favorite American cities, i noticed a poster in the rear window of one truck, then another, then another: Osama bin Laden, hook-nose centered in the bulls-eye poster which read: Wanted: Dead or Alive. It was deja vu all over again; Reagan's bobbling head, mushroom cloud, get 'em before they get us!

Since then, as technology developed and video games took on greater importance, expanding on the honorable hollywood tradition, we have been priveleged to enjoy such classics as Navy SEALs (1990), Delta Force 3: The Killing Game (1991), Patriot Games (1992), and Executive Decision (1996), all offering various ways in which to eviscerate before dispatching one's Arab enemy from the air-conditioned comfort of one's living room.

Now look what they've done! A new movie has come out, a movie made in Turkey called Valley of the Wolves, Iraq, that depicts American soldiers as blood-thirsty, revenge-seeking idealogues. The audacity! Here's a description from one of AP's equally disturbed correspondents,

"In the most expensive Turkish movie ever made, American soldiers in Iraq crash a wedding and pump a little boy full of lead in front of his mother. They kill dozens of innocent people with random machine-gun fire, shoot the groom in the head, and drag those left alive to Abu Ghraib prison -- where a Jewish doctor cuts out their organs, which he sells to rich people in New York, London and Tel Aviv."

This is just taking it all way too far and out of context and all of that. Of course, it's fiction. It's fiction, people, based very loosely on some real incidents, like...

"Valley of the Wolves Iraq" opens with a true story: On July 4, 2003, in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, troops from the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade raided and ransacked a Turkish special forces office, threw hoods over the heads of 11 Turkish special forces officers and held them in custody for more than two days."

What has hollywood ever done to deserve this purile mockery!?

Shocked and appalled, Toby Mandrake

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The Bush administration has no idea how to govern...?

ok, it's behind the nyt select firewall so i don't know what else he said, but the teaser that accompanies the current krugman column (subscriber access only) in the nyt email headlines rattled my chain...
The Bush administration knows how to attain power, but has no idea how to govern.

the notion that busho is somehow incompetent in issues of governance, management, leadership and administration is a serious delusion... they're goddam competent, in gaining power as krugman points out, but also in making it APPEAR that they're incompetent when what they're really doing is creating huge messes that erode confidence and instill fear in the populace... why...? fearful people are compliant people...

bushco's intent has NEVER been to govern... the intent is to amass money and power, to maintain a level of fear in the american people which makes that easier to accomplish, and to extend and solidify power through mechanisms of social control - by reducing civil liberties, watering down the constitution and using fundamentalist christian evangelical zealots as agents of both fear and repression... over the top...? i don't think so...

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Bush serious about reducing dependence on oil...? No... Is it even the right goal...? No...

gosh, i like juan cole when he's feeling feisty... (i like him even when he ISN'T feeling feisty...)
How to Tell if Bush is Serious about Ending US Dependence on Foreign Petroleum

Bush said last night he wanted to end the dependence of the United States on foreign petroleum. That is not the right goal, since if we just burned coal and ran electric cars we could be independent. But we'd accelerate global warming and give ourselves black lung.

The goal should be vastly reducing our use of hydrocarbons. Global warming is going to drown a lot of our coastal areas and send hurricanes on more of our cities if it keeps accelerating this way. Once the arctic shelves go into the drink and the ocean heats up sufficiently, you could have a rise in sea level of 20 feet. New Orleans, as bad as it was, would look like a picnic in comparison with this level of catastrophe.

The way you could tell Bush was serious would be if he ordered the Pentagon to use green sources of energy where possible. If a major US bureacracy spent even a few billions on things like solar power and electric vehicles, there would be technological breakthroughs and prices would plummet.

Or Bush could rescind some of his tax cuts for the super-rich and use the money as incentive for green energy.

But as long as Bush, who is as he keeps reminding us, the chief executive officer of the US government, doesn't even require his own employees to try to use less petroleum, then all he is doing is mouthing plattitudes he stole from Al Gore and John Kerry, without intending to do more than flap his lips.

In the old SPD/Green government in Germany, substantial strides were made toward profitable solar power companies, because of government investment and support. That is what a real energy policy would look like, Mr. Bush. Get one.

as i look around me every day, i am stunned at just how much of the "stuff" that surrounds us is hydrocarbon-based and/or manufactured from petroleum derivatives... "addicted to oil" is really a massive understatement... if all that "stuff" were to suddenly disappear, there would be very little left of what we are accustomed to having in our lives...

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

A lotta little interesting things

some days, only the REALLY BIG things seem to dominate the news... other days, there's just a lotta little things that, taken individually, are noteworthy but together make for an interesting picture... here's a few, most courtesy of americablog...

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Some thoughts in response to Digby

(you'll have to go read digby's post first before this will make sense...)

excellent analysis... i don't often have a great deal of patience with such a high word count but your writing is cogent, unpretentious and, yes, informative... i have only one comment and it's related to this...

"The Republicans desire total political hegemony. And any innovation they propose must now be clearly seen for what it is --- the radical ideologues want to dismantle the New Deal and create a Randian paradise and the politicos want to further enrich their wealthy contributors."

first of all, i agree, but my comment relates to the fact that i don't think your framing adequately captures the state of emergency the u.s. currently faces... you are a superb observer of political currents... i am a superb observer of overarching patterns and social dynamics... what i have sensed, beginning with florida and the stolen election and culminating in the events following 9/11 and the invasion of iraq, is that the u.s. is the victim of nothing less than a stealth (and a lot of the "stealth" aspects have recently been stripped away) coup d'état...

i first started thinking in those terms back in 2003 but kept it to myself because, quite frankly, i was embarrassed by how radical the notion seemed to me and also out of fear of being placed solidly in tin-foil hat territory... but, as time passed, i found i couldn't shake it and, as i watched things continue to decline and progressively become more and more outrageous, i went to work for howard dean, becoming politically active for the first time as a 57 year old baby boomer... lo and behold, i suddenly found myself with others for whom the notion of a coup d'état was all too real...

when it oozed out from the cracks that discussions had actually been held about suspending or postponing the 2004 elections in the event of a terrorist attack, my immediate thought was, "they've tipped their hand..." since then, i've watched unbelievable revelation after unbelievable revelation all point in the same direction... this administration is not seeking political hegemony, they are seeking total, unfettered power and are poised to suspend the constitution at the first opportunity... it's already happened in myriad small ways but all it would take is another 9/11 to give them the shot at finishing up what they've started...

the terrorists and osama bin laden are bush's best friends... if the surmise about the absolute power agenda is correct, there is no incentive whatsoever to bring the war on terror to an end... and, if maintaining fear in the populace, a subject that's been discussed endlessly by most of us, is the tactic to obtain compliance and achieve power, there is also no incentive to respond to events like katrina, global warming, pollution, mine disasters, iranian or north korean nukes, bird flu or any of the other countless public issues around which we label bushco "incompetent..."

just food for thought...

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Legislating against gay marriage, for instance? "It's just cussedness."

it's about goddam time more of the r's spoke up and took a stand against the religious fascism oozing out of the christian right... i'm sure danforth is going to take an enormous amount of shit for this but, hey... i'm damn glad he has the guts to say what so desperately needs to be said - by r's, not by dems...
As a mainline Episcopal priest, retired U.S. senator and diplomat, Danforth worships a humbler God and considers the right's certainty a sin. Legislating against gay marriage, for instance? "It's just cussedness." As he sees it, many Republican leaders have lost their bearings and, if they don't change, will lose their grip on power. Not to mention make the United States a meaner place.

christianity, as i understand it, is a way of life based on love, compassion for your fellow man, helping those in need and the cardinal rule, "do unto others..." furthermore, i don't see those views as strictly the province of christianity... they're beliefs the united states was founded on... and, hell, they're even much more than that... they're prescriptions for life, for being human, for making the world a better place... can we get back to them...? it'd sure make things better in a hurry...

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We don't need no st-e-e-e-enking Senate inquiry - Part 2

evidently the nyt has a somewhat different view... in an editorial in today's edition, they're not bashful about calling bush's warrantless domestic spying activities terrorist surveillance program illegal and unconstitutional and pointing out the justifications he offers as bogus... the title of the editorial itself is an indictment...

The March of the Straw Soldiers
President Bush is not giving up the battle over domestic spying. He's fighting it with an army of straw men and a fleet of red herrings.

In his State of the Union address and in a follow-up speech in Nashville yesterday, Mr. Bush threw out a dizzying array of misleading analogies, propaganda slogans and false choices: Congress authorized the president to spy on Americans and knew all about it ... 9/11 could have been prevented by warrantless spying ... you can't fight terrorism and also obey the law ... and Democrats are not just soft on national defense, they actually don't want to beat Al Qaeda.

"Let me put it to you in Texan," Mr. Bush drawled at the Grand Ole Opry House yesterday. "If Al Qaeda is calling into the United States, we want to know."

Yes, and so does every American. But that has nothing to do with Mr. Bush's decision to toss out the Constitution and judicial process by authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without a warrant. Let's be clear: the president and his team had the ability to monitor calls by Qaeda operatives into and out of the United States before 9/11 and got even more authority to do it after the attacks. They never needed to resort to extralegal and probably unconstitutional methods.

please, please, please, please, please... when are we going to be able to rid ourselves of the scourge of the bush administration...?

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We don't need no st-e-e-e-enking Senate inquiry...

the arrogance of power exhibited by the bush administration is unparalleled in u.s. history... the whole message is, "if there's something we think you need to know, we'll tell you, if and when it suits us to do so... in the meantime, don't hold your breath..."
The Bush administration is rebuffing requests from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for its classified legal opinions on President Bush's domestic spying program, setting up a confrontation in advance of a hearing scheduled for next week, administration and Congressional officials said Wednesday.

The Justice Department is balking at the request so far, administration officials said, arguing that the legal opinions would add little to the public debate because the administration has already laid out its legal defense at length in several public settings.

the shit just keeps getting deeper...

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

You wanna piece 'o me...? Huh...? HUH...? Do ya...?

echoing skadi's post from tuesday, "Never Give Up! Never Surrender!," robert parry challenges us to fight...
Forget the donkey. National Democrats might want to adopt some of the fighting spirit demonstrated by a half-ton bull that disrupted a Mexico City bullfight by jumping into the stands to scatter customers sitting in the highest-priced front-row seats.



The bull – named “Pajarito” for “little bird” – startled the well-dressed spectators and injured one before he was stabbed to death by a bullfight participant wielding a sword. [BBC News, Jan. 30, 2006]

So, Pajarito didn’t escape his fate, but he did act with more enlightened self-interest than many national Democrats have shown. Not only did Pajarito fight – rather than simply accept the taunting and a stylized death – but he bypassed the matador, who is really just a glorified butcher in a fancy costume, to go after the wealthy paying customers who make the butchery profitable.

The way Congress now works has some parallels to the bullfight, except the Democrats – when confronting George W. Bush – often act like a passive bull that thinks survival depends on cooperating with the matador. There’s scarcely a Pajarito to be found.

i saw the video clip of the bull leaping into the stands... it was a truly horrifying spectacle...

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There's little doubt about which Latin American countries are in the IMF's good graces (and Argentina isn't one of them)

Anne O. Krueger, First Deputy Managing Director, IMF, gave a talk today in Madrid entitled, Macroeconomic Situation and External Debt in Latin America... if you read it through, it's patently clear who the IMF's current fair-haired children are in Latin America... Brazil is held up throughout as a shining example of success as are Chile and Mexico... Argentina and Venezuela barely rate a mention even though Argentina has pulled off one of the most astounding recoveries of all... yes, Argentina is currently struggling with some nasty inflation and they have quite a bit left to do to make their culture and their economy more competitive, but they could have been given some credit for what they've managed to pull off so far...

here are the two times Argentina is mentioned in her speech...


  • Of course, several Latin American and Caribbean countries—Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela—are energy exporters and are therefore beneficiaries of higher energy prices. The challenge for them is to ensure that the windfall gains are used in a way that improves their long-term growth prospects.
  • In Argentina and Bolivia those planning to start a new business have to go through 15 procedures: in Brazil and Paraguay they have to go through 17. According to the World Bank publication "Doing Business 2006, that makes these countries among the most difficult in the world in terms of start-up procedures.
personally, i think the IMF's nose is out of joint for several reasons... one, argentine president néstor kirchner has laid a chunk of blame for the 2001 economic collapse at the feet of the IMF and the World Bank... two, argentina only a few weeks ago paid off their IMF debt in full... and, three, argentina has announced its intention to not seek new IMF funding...

brazil might want to keep in mind that, prior to the 2001 collapse, ARGENTINA was the IMF's poster child...

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Question for WaPo: Are you talking about United or some other airline?

sometimes all you can do is just shake your head... skadi posted ben stein's perspective on united airlines just the other day and i marveled at how, if even someone as odious as ben stein could see behind united's false front, maybe others could too... after reading this pathetic piece in today's washington post, i guess some people are just content to be fooled...
[Glenn] Tilton's message to employees and unions was little different than that of other bankruptcy chief executives: We can either make the cuts or fold the company. You decide.

But Tilton was not a dour, besieged chief executive. He continued to exude a pragmatic optimism, and employee morale reflected it. He visited the airline's hubs and gave weekly telephone updates to employees.

"If you think of your sacrifice as an investment, rather than something that's gone forever, you'll have a different mindset about it," he said he told workers.

In the conference room at United's headquarters, Tilton sat under a framed and mounted poster signed by dozens of United employees at Reagan National Airport. The poster reads: "Thank you. Your efforts are recognized and appreciated."

i briefly considered posting contrasting snippets from ben stein's piece but then said to hell with it... at least i know SOMEBODY, even if it IS ben stein, has a clue, cuz it certainly isn't keith alexander at the washington post...

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Scuttling the Abramoff investigation (or at least trying real hard)...

(thanks to martin garbus and the huffington post...)

when i read things like this, my stomach literally turns over... the level of physical, intellectual and emotional nausea is difficult to describe...
Proof That Bush's Removal of the Abramoff Prosecutor was a Political Deal to Scuttle the Investigation

On Friday, January 27, immediately after Bush announced Noel Hillman the federal Abramoff prosecutor was leaving his position to become a federal judge, I wrote that it was a political deal to stop the Abramoff prosecution. I posted an article on Huffington Post on January 29th.

We now know there was a political deal between the Bush Administration and New Jersey Democrats to get rid of the Abramoff prosecutor, Noel Hillman, by offering him a federal judgeship in New Jersey.
It's a deal that had been in the making for over a year.

It came about this way. The Democrats wanted Magistrate Federal Judge Susan Wingenton to be a federal judge. The Bush Administration said no.

We also know that in 2002 Bush got rid of a prosecutor. U.S. Attorney Black, who was about to indict Abramoff in Guam. That indictment also related to Abramoff's purchasing of influence. It's the modus operandi of this administration. Bush got rid of him, put in his own man, and the Abramoff prosecution ended.

This year the Bush Administration agreed to give the Democrats who they wanted in exchange for the Democrats agreeing to remove the Abramoff prosecutor. Wingenton got her appointment; the Democrats agreed to the removal of Noel Hillman, and he accepted a judgeship.

The approval of the two Democratic Senators from New Jersey was necessary for Hillman's appointment. Corzine gave that quiet approval just before he became governor. Frank Lautenberg on his website issued a press release, today announcing both the Wingenton and Hillman appointments, under the title "President Nominates Federal Judges for New Jersey."

Both Corzine and Lautenberg knew they were removing Hillman.

Why?

Meanwhile the media has made no mention of the story.

of COURSE they haven't...

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Whole lotta nothing and some major irony

Frankly, there isn't much to say about the SOTU. After leading with a tribute to Coretta Scott King that made me and my house party guests scream, King George spent the first half of the speech lecturing us all on how we had to keep on keeping on in the Middle East. He called anyone who disagreed with his policies "defeatist" and "isolationist." He didn't use the term "cut and run" but it was inferred when saying [transcript]:
"A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison, would put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country and show that a pledge from America means little."
(Note: The people of New Orleans and the Mississippi coast are figuring that out)

Some ironies:
In less than three years, the nation has gone from dictatorship to liberation to sovereignty to a constitution to national elections.

One of my friends added, "...to theocracy. He left THAT part out!"
[In Iraq w]e've adjusted our military tactics and changed our approach to reconstruction.

Translation: We cut funding for reconstruction in Iraq.
Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, protection of minorities and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote.

Right, and that's why Democrats are shut out in the House of Representatives and you get to pick and choose what laws you will obey.
Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own, because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens.

Then why do you keep lecturing them on what they should do???

More sabre-rattling. No mention of North Korea at all. Moving on to the "domestic" war on terror, he insists on his right to wiretap anyone he pleases without a warrant. Infers that if he had this right 9/11 would have been prevented. Barf.
In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors like China and India.

And one of those countries owns us. Moving on to the obligatory, "Make the tax cuts permanent!" or we're all gonna die! Asks for the line item veto. I like the note by the NYT:
[ Background: In 1998, the Supreme Court struck down the law that let the president cancel specific items in tax and spending measures. Since then, other proposals have emerged. ]

Social Security "reform." Yada yada, wants to create a commission. Well, that at least should effectively table the issue until we can get some sane people in Congress and into the White House.

On immigration:
Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values and serves the interests of our economy corporations. Our nation needs orderly and secure borders. To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. And we must have a rational, humane guest-worker indentured servant program that rejects amnesty [we just want your sorry ass to work for us, but you can't stay!] allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally and reduces smuggling and crime at the border.

Health Savings Accounts - another way for Wall Street to play with our money and does nothing to address the 46 million Americans without health insurance, nor does it say how people who are struggling just to get by and pay their health insurance premiums as it is are going to find that extra money for the HSA.

Energy - the solution is not to increase cafe standards or invest in renewables. Nope, it's gotta be coal (dirty), nuclear (meltdown risks, where to store the waste), and ethanol (how much corn are we gonna have to grow?).

On education:
Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers to lead Advanced Placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good high-wage jobs.

And those jobs would be where? And you plan on paying for this how? With your permanent tax cuts?

Then on to some major pandering to the right-wing base. "Activist courts, cloning, gay marriage...

I won't even go into all his bilge about a "hopeful society." What a lot of nice sounding stuff that he has no intention of actually doing.

Well, that's about it. His SOTUs are usually pretty bad, but I think this was the one was the worst of all. He was just going through the motions.

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The Dangers of Isolationism Unilateralism [UPDATE]

[UPDATE]

HA...! they CHANGED the headline... it now reads...


Bush, Resetting Agenda, Says U.S. Must Cut Reliance on Oil


previous nyt headline...


i'm so glad i didn't bother to wake up at 4 a.m. to listen to this bullshit... i heard the news clip where he said this and it was all i could do to keep from tossing my cookies... the "dangers of isolationism," my ass... george w. bush has isolated the u.s. more consistently and effectively than any other president in memory... how...? unilateralism... so what about the "dangers of unilateralism...?" huh...?? HUH...??? a kevin kline quote from the movie comedy classic, "a fish called wanda," comes to mind... A-S-S-H-O-O-O-O-LE...!!!

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SOTU - What you DIDN'T hear anything about

juan cole posts under this title...

Top Ten things Bush Won't Didn't Tell You About the State of the Nation

1. US economic growth during the last quarter was an anemic 1.1%, the worst in 3 years.

2. The US inflation rate has jumped to 3.4 percent, the highest rate in 5 years.

3. The number of daily attacks in Iraq rose from 52 in December, 2004 to 77 in December, 2005.

4. A third of US veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, some 40,000 persons, exhibit at least some signs of mental health disorders. Some 14,000 were treated for drug dependencies, and 11,000 for depression.

5. Increases in American consumer spending come from borrowing.

6. The $320 - $400 bilion deficits run by the Bush administration may push up the cost of mortgages and loans.

7. 58% of Americans think Bush is painting Iraq as rosier than it is. A majority thinks we should never have invaded the country.

8. The US military is at a breaking point.

9. In fact, The US and Iran are tacit allies in Iraq.

10. More money would be needed to finish the US reconstruction projects begun in Iraq.

hey... not like we don't know this stuff anyway... unfortunately, there's a lot of folks out there that continue to allow themselves to be bamboozled by this charlatan...

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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I TiVo'd it

Okay...I have three glasses of wine under my belt. Having friends over helped a LOT. Governor Kaine's Democratic response rocked. Bush's speech sucked. More tomorrow.

I took some notes.

It took three minutes for Bush to mention 9/11 with WMD close on its heels.

Loved the Dems applause of the defeat of Social Security reform.

Okay...that is all I can make sense of my notes right now.

I will read the transcript tomorrow. Comments to follow.

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Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

One more post on Alito and the Democrats and then I am out the door. From DHinMI at DailyKos

We should look for inspiration from our heroes. But tonight, we should also look beyond the examples of our heroes, and the difficulties they had to face to prevail. Tonight, also look at the example of our adversaries.

And we should remember, the conservatives NEVER give up.

Most of you will know this answer, but it's still important to ask the question:

What is generally considered the most important galvanizing event for the modern conservative movement?

The crushing defeat, in 1964, of Barry Goldwater.

Did the conservatives give up after what should have been a humiliating defeat in 1964? Of course not. They never gave up, not once. They organized in just about every precinct in America. They put out legions of volunteers. They created organizations, and think tanks, and press operations, and trained and developed and nurtured young political operatives. They raised money. And throughout it all, they pursued a two-pronged approach:

1. They did whatever they could to create Republican majorities.

2. They did whatever they could to take control of the Republican party, and where possible nominate and elect conservative fellow travelers to office.

Note that never have they divorced one from the other. They almost all always fight to do what they can to install and maintain majorities. Then, over time, they became a majority of the majority party. In the overall body politic, the movement conservatives are a minority, and certainly not even a plurality when you divide up the electorate into regional and ideological segments. But they control the Republican party, and in the persons of George W. Bush and Karl Rove, they have tools and fellow conspirators.

[...]

But remember those two points above. We need to take over the party. But we also need Democratic majorities. So abandoning the fight for the Democratic party now is to the detriment of the country your friends, and all who will follow you. There are only two games in town, folks, the Republicans and the Democrats. Regardless of what some may wish, we're in a winner-take-all system, so your choices are the following:

1. Actively help change the Democratic party into the party you want.

2. Actively help change the Republican party into the party you want.

3. Do nothing within the parties, and be a passive consumer of what the parties present to you.

There really aren't any other choices. It's up to you. But if you're really a fighter, you'll recognize where the fight is. You'll recognize that it's not going to be won overnight; it took the conservatives almost 40 years to fully take over the Repub party and instill conservative ideologues in control of our national government. You'll remember that the sociologist Max Weber described politics as

a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth--that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word.

Be a leader. Be a fighter. Hell, why not even aspire to be a hero. But whatever you do, remember, if we want a better Democratic party, it's up to all of us to accept some responsibility for making the party what we believe we Democrats and the entire country deserve. And like Meteor Blades said, never surrender.

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Ned Lamont needs Connecticut supporters

Ned Lamont is considering mounting a primary challenge of Joementum. If you are in Connecticut (and even if you aren't) go sign up to support his bid. He needs a thousand sign-ups from Connecticut. But you out-of-staters can show your support as well.

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And when George lies about the economy tonight...

...keep this in mind. (I wonder why Elaine Chao let this get released today? Won't it take some shine off her Emperor's speech?)
Wages and benefits paid to civilian workers rose last year by the smallest amount in nine years, the government reported Tuesday.

The Labor Department said that employee compensation was up 3.1 percent in 2005, an increase that was slower than the 3.7 percent rise in 2004. The slowdown reflected a big drop in benefit costs -- items such as health insurance and pensions -- which rose by 4.5 percent last year after jumping by 6.9 percent in 2004.

The new Employment Compensation Index should ease concerns at the Federal Reserve that improving labor markets could be starting to push up wage pressures. Wages and salaries rose by 2.6 percent last year, only slightly higher than a 2.4 percent increase in 2004.

The 3.1 percent increase in total compensation for the 12 months ending in December was the smallest annual increase since a 2.9 percent rise in 1996.

Last year's increase was not enough to keep up with inflation. When inflation is considered, overall compensation fell by 0.3 percent, the first time there has been a decline since 1996, when total compensation after adjusting for inflation was down by 0.4 percent.


Oh wait, the article goes on to declare that rising wages are (gasp) a threat to our "strong" economy.

The Federal Reserve is keeping a close watch on wage pressures given the strong growth in the labor market in the past two years. While increases in the number of people working is good for the country, the concern at the Fed is that the economy could be growing so strongly that wage pressures will mount and trigger a rise in inflation.


I am not an economist, but, haven't we just barely regained the 3 million jobs that were lost in the first years of King George's reign? "Strong growth in the labor market?" Huh? Yeah, if you like working retail, restaurants and emptying bed pans, I suppose you could say that.

And the answer is to keep down wage growth? Why? We can barely afford our gas. Don't they want us to be able to be "consumers?" Oh wait, I forgot. They want us in permanent serfdom. Struggling so much to get by that we are too tired to pay attention at how they are raping this country.

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SOTU plans

Like profmarcus, Bush's physical presence makes my skin crawl. The sound of his voice makes me want to retch. His beady little eyes darting here and there, and that smirk, oh god, that smirk.

But this is my country...still... and I feel duty bound to watch, out of love for my country and what she is supposed to be, not any respect for the squatter in the Oval Office. As much as I despise him and the bastards he rode in with, I have to keep an eye on him. So, I am having a State of the Union Watch Party and there will be about 11 of us here, commiserating, drinking, etc. So, though I won't be online to give you a blow-by-blow live, I will post my thoughts (drunken though they may be) later.

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While you were out: the SOTU

here in sofia, bulgaria, cnn international will be offering a live broadcast of bush's state of the union address - at 4 a.m. eastern european time... i hereby announce that i will NOT be awake to see it... even if i was in the u.s., i would make a point of not watching... i have such a visceral reaction when i watch bush speak that i am only able to tolerate a couple of minutes at a time without becoming severely agitated... part of my professional work is the close observation of communication styles, body language and so forth and, if i may say so, i'm pretty damn good at it... but there is something about watching bush that pushes every button i have... if skadi or toby would like to offer some timely reaction, i hope they will feel free... as for me, i will rely on the news clips and sound bites i will no doubt see in great abundance after i wake up at a more civilized hour...

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The death of white supremacy

too good not to post...



tune in to tonight's state of the union address for independent confirmation...


(thanks to my good friend, r, in washington d.c...)

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Bush will swagger to the podium tonight with Alito's confirmation hung around his neck like a medal

there's lots of post-mortems and we-may-have-lost-the-battle- but-we-haven't-lost-the-war discussions going on all over the blogs... my prediction is that we will be treated to a new height of smirking and arrogance in tonight's state-of-the-union address followed closely by more revelations and demonstrations that president bush is putting a firm lock on absolute executive power and, in so doing, feels quite comfortable in flipping off the american people...
The Senate on Monday all but guaranteed Samuel Alito's confirmation as the nation's 110th Supreme Court justice, shutting down a last-minute attempt by liberals to block the conservative judge's nomination with a filibuster.

Republican and Democratic senators, on a 72-25 vote, agreed to end their debate, setting up a Tuesday morning vote on Alito's confirmation to replace retiring moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

food for thought... how would you feel about having george bush serving an open-ended term as president so as not to compromise the conduct of the war on terror...?

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Out of sight, out of mind

This article was brought to my attention by one of the posters over at Table Talk at salon.com.

Mississippi's Invisible Coast
As Aug. 29 recedes into the conscious time of many Americans, the great storm that devastated 70 miles of Mississippi's Coast, destroying the homes and lives of hundreds of thousands, fades into a black hole of media obscurity.

Never mind that, if taken alone, the destruction in Mississippi would represent the single greatest natural disaster in 229 years of American history. The telling of Katrina by national media has created the illusion of the hurricane's impact on our Coast as something of a footnote.

The awful tragedy that befell New Orleans as a consequence of levee failures at the time of Katrina, likewise, taken by itself, also represents a monumental natural disaster. But, of course, the devastation there, and here, were not separate events, but one, wrought by the Aug. 29 storm.

[...]

Could it be possible that the ongoing story of an Alabama teenager missing in Aruba has received more coverage on some cable networks than all of the incredibly compelling stories of courage, loss and need of untold thousands of Mississippians? Maybe a lot more coverage?

The second reason that the coverage matters is in the realm of politics. If the American people and their elected representatives do not truly know the scope of the destruction here, and if they are not shown the ongoing conditions afflicting so many, then there are consequences which are playing out even this week in Washington, where Congress will act, or not act, to relieve the incredible pain that has reduced the condition of so many American citizens to Third World status or worse.

If the people do not know, they cannot care.

Read it all

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Oh God

First Viet Nam, now Iraq.
"This is the dark side of the reality of war. ... People don't want to know the Marlboro Man has PTSD."

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You have GOT to be kidding

Looks like profmarcus beat me to it, but I just have to add my 2¢.
More than a dozen states are considering new laws to protect health workers who do not want to provide care that conflicts with their personal beliefs, a surge of legislation that reflects the intensifying tension between asserting individual religious values and defending patients' rights.

About half of the proposals would shield pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control and "morning-after" pills because they believe the drugs cause abortions. But many are far broader measures that would shelter a doctor, nurse, aide, technician or other employee who objects to any therapy. That might include in-vitro fertilization, physician-assisted suicide, embryonic stem cells and perhaps even providing treatment to gays and lesbians.


So, where does this end? Does a nurse in a hospital get to pick and choose which patients he/she will take care of? What if the nurse is part of a religion that says that men and women are not to be in the same room with each other? Can the nurse refuse to take care of a patient of the opposite sex? Does a Christian Scientist get to refuse all treatment because they believe that disease isn't even real?

Does your EMT get to inquire as to your sexual preference before applying CPR? Is your Jehovah's Witness health care worker permitted to refuse you that needed blood transfusion because his religion forbids them?

Hospitals, doctor's offices, and pharmacies are not restaurants. The Hippocratic oath does not allow them to deny "service." Period.

And, reading further in the article...this really scared me. There are some bills that will allow insurance companies to deny treatment on the basis of religious belief. Whose religious belief? I didn't know a company could go to church!

Beyond that, what is an employee to do if their boss selects an insurance company based on HIS religious beliefs?

Finally, and profmarcus touched on this, if a health care worker can refuse to offer life-giving care without punishment, based on their "conscience," why are soldiers court-martialed for refusing to kill for the same reason?

Oh yeah...they knew what the job entailed when they signed up.

Culture of life, my ass.

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Let's starve Hamas into submission

in a post on juan cole's weblog, Gilbert Achcar, author of Eastern Cauldron (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2004) and The Clash of Barbarisms, describes u.s. history vis á vis islamic fundamentalism thusly...
The story of Washington's relation with Islamic fundamentalism is the most striking modern illustration of the sorcerer's apprenticeship.

it's an excellent post and gives a great deal of background on how, for instance, hamas swept into power in the palestinian elections this past week... he also issued this caution...
Any attempt by the U.S. and the European Union to starve the Palestinians into submission by interrupting the economic aid that they grant them would be disastrous for both humanitarian and political reasons and should be opposed most vigorously.

well, gosh and golly if miss condi hasn't gone and suggested precisely that...
The United States wants other nations to cut off aid to a Hamas-led Palestinian government, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said ahead of an international strategy session on Mideast peace prospects. Rice ruled out any U.S. financial assistance to a Hamas government.

Humanitarian help to the Palestinians, many of whom are poor and unemployed, is likely on a "case-by-case basis," Rice said Sunday. She indicated that the administration would follow through on aid promised to the current, U.S.-backed Palestinian government led by President Mahmoud Abbas.

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The WaPo calls it "health workers' rights..." Aren't we really talking about conscientious objection...?

today's wapo features a front-page article entitled, "health workers' choice debated..." this topic has grown steadily in public awareness since news stories of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and "morning-after" pills began hitting the media...
More than a dozen states are considering new laws to protect health workers who do not want to provide care that conflicts with their personal beliefs, a surge of legislation that reflects the intensifying tension between asserting individual religious values and defending patients' rights.

About half of the proposals would shield pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control and "morning-after" pills because they believe the drugs cause abortions. But many are far broader measures that would shelter a doctor, nurse, aide, technician or other employee who objects to any therapy. That might include in-vitro fertilization, physician-assisted suicide, embryonic stem cells and perhaps even providing treatment to gays and lesbians.

when i arrived here in s.e. europe nearly a week ago and was watching euronews, i was surprised to see a story on this very same issue currently under discussion in slovakia under the label "conscientious objection..."
An attempt by the Vatican to reduce the number of abortions in Slovakia has raised concerns in the European Union about the loss of rights for women. A draft treaty between Slovakia and the Holy See would allow hospital staff to refuse to do abortions or fertility treatment on religious grounds. A panel of EU lawyers says this could restrict the rights of those who want them in such a firmly Catholic nation.

Pope Benedict XVI has vowed to take a tough line on issues such as abortion. The draft treaty, drawn up in 2003, says it is based on "recognising the freedom of conscience in the protection and promotion of values intrinsic to the meaning of human life". Slovakia is said to be 70% Catholic but abortion is legal up to the 12th week of pregnancy.

[...]

But Professor Olivier De Schutter, the head of the panel of lawyers from the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights, says the articles relating to religious conscientious objection raise the most concern. He said it was "far-reaching, considering a very large majority of healthcare providers in Slovakia are Catholics and might exercise their right to conscientious objection".

i am a firm supporter of conscientious objection, a term that is customarily used to describe those whose religious beliefs prevent them from participating in the sanctioned killing exercises we call war... when the issue of the pharmacists refusing to prescribe certain types of prescriptions first surfaced, i was troubled... i am even more troubled now...

it seems inevitable to me that the term "conscientious objection" will be applied to this issue... it is only a matter of time before "conscientious objection" becomes the rallying cry for religious fundamentalists in the u.s... where, i would like to know, will be the end to it...? there is nothing, to my way of thinking, that cannot be accepted or rejected on religious grounds... for every human action, someone will be able to cite a so-called religious authority to either sanction or oppose it... it's not as if we weren't already living in interesting times... they're about to get a lot MORE interesting...

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profmarcus...this Bud's for you

Oh my goodness. Ben Stein is making sense. No, really.
In the early 1990's, when some investment bankers were casting around for a way to make tens of millions of dollars, they came up with a doozy: the employees of UAL would give up some of their salaries and benefits in exchange for stock in UAL, eventually becoming UAL's largest owner through an employee stock ownership plan.

The deal went through — with staggering compensation to Wall Street — and in 1994 the American employees of UAL, as a group, became its largest owners. Within a few years, overseas personnel were allowed the privilege of tossing their life savings into UAL, too.

[...]

Thus, in a series of evil events, management of UAL basically ruined the lives of the employee-owners, if that is not putting too fine a point on it, by taking away their savings, incomes and pensions. (I am indebted to my pal, Phil DeMuth, for much of this research.)

All right, you might say. What else could management have done amid high fuel costs and a deregulated, supercompetitive market? That's "creative destruction," and it's good for the economy, some of my fellow Republicans and admirers of the free market might say. But what about the rules of law and common decency? Because, you see, there is a bit more to the story.

[...]

So here it is in a nutshell: employees are goaded into investing a big chunk of their wages and benefits in UAL stock. They lose that. Then they lose big parts of their pay and pensions. They become peons of UAL. Management gets $480 million, more or less. "Creative destruction?" Or looting?

Wait, Mr. Tilton and Mr. Bankruptcy Judge. The employees were the owners of UAL. They were the trustors, and Mr. Tilton and his pals were trustees for them. How were the trustors wiped out while the trustees, the fiduciaries, became fantastically rich? Is this the way capitalism is supposed to work? Trustors save up, and their agents just take their savings away from them?

If the company is worth so much that management has hundreds of millions coming to them, shouldn't the employee-owners get a taste? Does capitalism mean anything if the owners of the capital can be wiped out while their agents grow wealthy? Is this a way to encourage savings and the ownership society? Or is this a matter of to him who hath shall be given?

I know that this is basically the same story I described recently concerning the Delphi Corporation, where something similar is going on. But that's exactly the point. Management is using competition, higher fuel costs and every other cost complaint to cut the pay and pensions of its own employees while enriching itself.

My God. He almost sounds like a (gasp!) Liberal!

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How about let's kick some Alito butt and stop wringing our hands like weenies?

as i said the other day, if there was ever a time for the democrats, particularly of the senatorial persuasion, to pull together, tie themselves to the railroad tracks and collectively say, enough is enough, it's now... i am sick unto death of the mealy-mouthed, half-assed opposition to the bush gang of criminals who have made it perfectly clear to anyone who's paying attention that they intend to solidify and perpetuate their hold on unobstructed power and all the money and control that goes with it...
The Democratic leaders tried to sound tough and principled when they were really acting soft and manipulative. For instance, they urged Democrats to cast a “strategic vote” on Alito’s nomination as well as calling on senators to “vote their conscience” – but neither phrase meant what it purported to mean.

The so-called “strategic vote” on Alito amounted to Democrats conceding defeat on his nomination but then having most Democrats vote against him. That supposedly would permit Democrats to say “I told you so” when the negative consequences of Alito’s confirmation become apparent to the American people.

But that sort of ineffectual opposition is less “strategic” than it is “symbolic.” It amounts to surrendering to George W. Bush and the Republicans, even when important constitutional issues are at stake, and then briefly showing the flag to appease an angry Democratic base. It’s “strategic” like Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox was.

The other phrase – “vote their conscience” – actually was a signal to Democratic senators facing reelection campaigns in pro-Bush “Red States” to cross over to the Republican side on the Alito nomination in order to gain some political protection.

So instead of challenging Alito on principle – because he’s a legal theorist for the Imperial Presidency and believes that a “unitary executive” should rule the nation almost by fiat – the “Red State” Democrats would “vote their conscience” by making a crass calculation and succumbing to political pressure.

get out there and FIGHT, you bastards... nothing less than our country is at stake...

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Global Confusion

For those of us living in South America, effects of globalization, aka. the Washington Consensus, have been mixed at best. In large part, this is due to a confusion between popular assumptions, pro and con, and complex realities of economic policy.

According to Dani Rodrick of Harvard University in a paper titled Goodbye Washington Consensus, Hello Washington Confusion, countries whose economies have suffered greatly from market liberalization and monetary reform, like Argentina; "the 1990s as a whole saw less growth in Latin America in per-capita GDP than in 1950-80, despite the dismantling of the state-led, populist, and protectionist policy regimes of the region," have essentially forced Washington, ie. the IMF and WorldBank to admit mistakes made in its "market fundamentalism" strategies.

Their response is to place blame on the institutions of said Latin American countries whose reforms were not widespread enough. In this fascinating paper, sited in Andrew Leonard s highly informative blog at Salon.com, Mr. Rodrick goes on to explain succeses in individual countries over the past decade and a half, specifically in India, China, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique, as a function of controlled governmental policies, ie. state run enterprises, tarrifs and market subsidies, and others. The gist of the argument is that while global levels of income have risen dramatically since the 1990s, an overall "market liberlization" strategy, often with the putrid tinge of fundamentalism, (Democracy for the Middle East sound familiar), has failed and an individual, country by country approach has proven more successful. Once again, the idealism inherent in fundamentalism has proven disastrous to our reality.

Toby Mandrake

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Are we past the "tipping point" of climate change?

as i look out my 16th floor office window over sofia, bulgaria, on a sunny sunday afternoon with the temperature almost up to freezing after a week of near-record cold, i am blinded by the glare of the thick smoky haze enveloping the city... the hilton hotel is not more than 8 blocks away but it floats in a miasma that suggests a stark reality - sofia's citizens are breathing a toxic soup... today's wapo article highlights a grim shift in the world climate change debate...
Now that most scientists agree human activity is causing Earth to warm, the central debate has shifted to whether climate change is progressing so rapidly that, within decades, humans may be helpless to slow or reverse the trend.

ironically, a pocket guide to sofia i was perusing last night may just offer the most candid description of any city i have ever encountered in any guide...
As temperatures hit freezing and the air fills with the fumes of thousands of household stoves, your first impressions [of Sofia] may be less than encouraging. The city's trams and buses are so full of coughing and sneezing citizens at this time of year that they look more like mobile hospital wards than modes of public transport.

yes, we can cluck our tongues over sofia but, let's remember, this is happening in cities all over the world...

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More from the FEMA "You're doin' a heckuva job" collection of bedtime stories

i would just love to think that this was an isolated case but i know it's not... when you have officials at the highest levels of government funneling billions of u.s. taxpayer dollars to crony-linked private corporations in no-bid contracts, why should the low-level weenies behave any differently...? unfortunately, they're the ones who get caught... they're also the ones who will have the hardest time picking themselves up after they fall...
[T]wo FEMA officials working in New Orleans- Andrew Rose and Loyd Hollman-both of Colorado, were arrested by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DHS Inspector General's Office this morning for soliciting bribes as public officials.

[...]

according to the affidavit in support of the complaint filed by FBI Special Agents, Rose and Hollman were arrested on January 27, 2006 at the FEMA base camp in New Orleans after taking two (2) envelopes containing $10,000 each as illegal bribe payments.

According to the complaint, the investigation began on December 22, 2005, when Rose and Hollman approached a local contractor and solicited a bribe from the contractor in exchange for inflating the headcount for a $1 million meal service contract at the Algiers, Louisiana base camp. During this meeting, Rose and Hollman allegedly told the contractor that they could inflate the "headcount" for meals served and would require the contractor to kickback to them (Rose and Hollman) $20,000.

During a subsequent meeting on January 19, 2006, Rose demanded $20,000 from the contractor to be split evenly between him (Rose) and Hollman; and indicated that Hollman would continue to intentionally inflate the occupancy number at the base camp falsely.

During a following meeting on January 24, 2006, the $20,000 bribe which had been demanded was further discussed, and during the same meeting, Rose and Hollman allegedly discussed various ways and means which the contractor could use to inflate the meal service count. During the same meeting and a subsequent one on the same day, both charged defendants allegedly continued to discuss various ways and means to inflate the invoices for meal service counts, and made a further bribery demand for $2,500 per week for each of them.

Finally, on the morning of their arrest at the base camp, Rose and Hollman each allegedly took one envelope containing $10,000 from the contractor after confirming that these two payments were for the inflated meal service count from December 3, 2005 through January 15, 2006.

write to dick cheney, guys... maybe he can put in a good word on your behalf...

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The serious perils of not telling the Bush administration what it wants to hear

(from the february 6 edition of newsweek via raw story...)

it's the hallmark of bushco... if you don't like the legal advice you're getting, get rid of those annoying legal advisors and replace them with those who will tell you what you want to hear...
James Comey, a lanky, 6-foot-8 former prosecutor who looks a little like Jimmy Stewart, resigned as deputy attorney general in the summer of 2005. The press and public hardly noticed.

[...]

Comey thanked "people who came to my office, or my home, or called my cell phone late at night, to quietly tell me when I was about to make a mistake; they were the people committed to getting it right—and to doing the right thing—whatever the price. These people," said Comey, "know who they are. Some of them did pay a price for their commitment to right, but they wouldn't have it any other way."

One of those people, NEWSWEEK reports, was former assistant attorney general Jack Goldsmith.

[...]

In December 2003, Goldsmith was steering the White House Official of Legal counsel. He informed the Defense Department that their March 2003 torture memo was "under review" and could no longer be relied upon. It is almost unheard-of for an administration to overturn its own OLC opinions. Cheney's chief of staff was beside himself. But his problems with Goldsmith were just beginning.

remember cheney's chief of staff, scooter libby, now under indictment...?
There was one catch: the secret program had to be reapproved by the attorney general every 45 days. It was Goldsmith's job to advise the A.G. on the legality of the program. In March 2004, John Ashcroft was in the hospital with a serious pancreatic condition. At Justice, Comey, Ashcroft's No. 2, was acting as attorney general.

[...]

Goldsmith raised with Comey serious questions about the secret eavesdropping program, according to two sources familiar with the episode. The White House was told: no reauthorization.

Ultimately, a compromise was worked out. But Goldsmith would eventually be sidelined and leave for Harvard, taking a post in academia.

god forbid we should have people with real PRINCIPLES working in our government...

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"Big, dangerous lies . . . Sept. 11 could have been prevented"

the nyt editorializes on just how twisted and crass the administration's defense of nsa spying has become... and, as i am wont to endlessly repeat, NEVER, EVER lose sight of the undisputed master of twisted and crass behind it all, satan's doppelgänger, karl rove...
A bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies.

it's MORE than a couple... and every one, each jaw-droppingly cynical, are pages taken directly from the rove playbook...
  • Sept. 11 could have been prevented.
  • Only bad guys are spied on.
  • The spying is legal.
  • Just trust us.
  • The rules needed to be changed.
  • War changes everything.
  • Other presidents did it.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is about to start hearings on the domestic spying. Congress has failed, tragically, on several occasions in the last five years to rein in Mr. Bush and restore the checks and balances that are the genius of American constitutional democracy. It is critical that it not betray the public once again on this score.

congress has compiled a history of failure in the years of the bush administration that is positively breathtaking... i don't expect we will see anything different in the domestic spying hearings...

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