Friday, June 23, 2006

Get The Nails Ready

Report Links Ralph Reed To Abramoff, Indian Gambling Interests Sent Millions To Christian Coalition Founder - CBS News:
(CBS/AP) Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed was paid more than $4 million by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's influence peddling operation on behalf of Indian gambling interests, a Senate report released Thursday said.

The money was sent through intermediaries to satisfy Reed's 'political concerns,' according to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee report (.pdf).

Didn't See This One Coming

My Way News - Mondale Backs Pre-Emptive Missile Strike:
"MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Former Vice President Walter Mondale said Friday he supports a pre-emptive U.S. strike against a North Korean missile, saying the U.S. should tell North Korea to dismantle the missile or 'we are going to take it out.'"Wow! Talk about a voice from the past! And Clinton's old defense secretary backs the idea, too. Meanwhile the National Security Advisor doesn't think so.

Is that the theme to Twilight Zone playing in the background?

Saw This One Coming

My Way News - White House Demands Dismissal of Spy Suit:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's domestic spying program must be dismissed because it threatens to reveal state secrets and jeopardize the war on terror, the government says.

The case was set to go before a federal judge in San Francisco on Friday.

The Bush administration argues that the courts cannot decide the constitutionality of the president's asserted wartime powers to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants.

The government is invoking the so-called 'state secrets privilege' in a federal lawsuit filed by a privacy group against communications giant AT&T Inc. (T) about the telecom's alleged involvement in Bush's surveillance program adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.


The EFF is urging Walker in legal filings to rule on whether the president possesses wartime powers to authorize warrantless eavesdropping in the United States without publicly disclosing any classified or sensitive material.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state secrets defense as recently as January, when it rejected an appeal from a former covert CIA officer who accused the agency of race discrimination. And last month, citing the state secrets defense, the government urged a federal judge in Virginia to block a lawsuit by a German national who says he was illegally held in a CIA-run prison in Afghanistan for four months and tortured.

The Supreme Court first recognized the state secrets doctrine in 1953, when it dismissed a lawsuit against the government brought by family members of people killed in a plane wreck while testing secret electronic surveillance equipment.
So the government invokes it's right to screw us in secrecy since letting us know about it would only give us the idea we were being screwed. It's not for nothing that this defense first came into use during the infamous McCarthy-era. It stinks to the max, and the courts just let it happen. Shame on all of them.

Supreme Court Hiccups, Makes Good Decision

My Way News - Top Court Affirms Sex Discrimination Award:
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court made it easier Thursday for workers to show they suffered retaliation after accusing employers of discrimination.
As an old friend used to like to say, "Even a blind chicken gets some corn now and then." I guess this case was just too obvious to ignore, or maybe they felt they had to give away one to the other side before somebody got the idea the court has been rigged. Either way, this decision at least makes things better for the victims instead of the perpetrators.

Even Karzai Knows Better

My Way News - Karzai: War Not Getting at Terrorism Cause:
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - One of America's closest allies says the war on terrorism fails to address its root causes.

Experts agreed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, saying Friday the major military offensive against the Taliban will not fix Afghanistan's larger crises - a lack of reconstruction and jobs, a booming drug trade, and a weak government.

'You won't win unless you can convince people that progress is being made,' said Marvin Weinbaum, a former State Department analyst now a scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute.
Gee, you mean bombing and shooting and making speeches doesn't convince people that progress is being made? Has the pResident been notified?

Paul Bagala Makes Up For Past Sins

GOP on Iraq = More of the Same | TPMCafe:
The only place in the American government where there is an honest and spirited debate over Iraq is within the Democratic Party. Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are not on the same page – and that’s a good thing. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry disagree. Hooray for that.

If anyone tells you the solution to Iraq is easy or obvious, they’re a liar or a fool (a false choice in the case of our president). So why not feature the debate? At least someone is debating what to do.

The fact is the American people want a new direction in Iraq, and the Democrats offer several. The Republicans, on the other hand, offer nothing more than a four-word strategy: more of the same.
I used to like Paul's commentaries on CNN, especially when he was sitting across from Tucker, but lately he's been a little too meek when he should be eye-spittin' and too flip when he ought to be deadly serious in my opinion. This entry redeems him somewhat for me. He can still write a damn good speech.

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: June 18, 2006 - June 24, 2006 Archives

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: June 18, 2006 - June 24, 2006 Archives:
Bush isn't capable of admitting his policies have failed.

He's like an owner of a business that's slowly going under. He doesn't know how to save the situation. So he won't get more money or resources to fix the business. That's throwing good money after bad. And he won't just liquidate and save what he can, because then he'd have to come to grips with the fact that he's failed. So his policy is denial and slow failure. Here of course the analogy to President Bush is rather precise since he only has to hold out until 2009 when he can give the problem to someone else, just as he did in his past life with other businesses he drove into the ground.

But for the country that's not acceptable. We don't have a policy except for slow burn and denial. And the president's ego isn't enough to ask men and women to die for. We need an actual plan. And the president doesn't have one.

Democrats need to hammer this point again and again and not get tripped up in the president's bully-boy rhetoric. The president has no plan. He wants to stay in Iraq forever. He says for at least three more years. All the Republicans agree they want more of the same.

No one wants that in this country. All the Democrats have to do is get up on the airwaves and say it. Again and again.

Even the side with an insipid argument can take the day if the other side remains unheard.
-- Josh Marshall
Josh Marshall gets it right almost all the time. He's sort of the anti-Bush, if you ask me. He's right about the insipid argument that can still win. Just look at who's been pResident for the last six years. The Dems need to stand up to the wingbats, and keep doing so.

Shakespeare's Sister Tags Another Truthiness

Shakespeare's Sister

She questioned the WP piece on Jon Stewart being an "enemy" of democracy, and found that the truth is not what the WP writer would have us think. Worth a read.

The Global Class War

Democrats & Liberals:: Book Review: The Global Class War:
The WTO is something like a constitution that rules over all countries that sign on. It is run by Big Business to serve the needs of Big Business. It sets limits on governments and tells them what they can do and what they cannot do. The WTO forbids governments from favoring domestic suppliers, and prohibiting the entry of unsafe or immoral products. 'It prohibits laws protecting workers or the environment or public health that interfere with the freedom of the corporation to invest, buy or sell.'

So, multinationals are building a world government run by them. Only businesspeople have a say. The rest of us do not count. And we keep helping the destruction of our democratic government by pushing laissez-faire.
This is a great article with some very thoughtful comments, so I strongly suggest the reader go there by clicking the title link(s) above. This is the real war, the one that causes all the others, the one we've been losing for decades ("we" meaning everyone on this planet that has to actually work for a living or can't find work in the first place). It's about time we payed attention to that "man behind the curtain" and elected somebody who is not a pawn of the multinationals if that's even possible. If it's not, we have already lost the war.

The Working Society

Democrats & Liberals:: The Working Society:
Do we really want to maintain a dog-eat-dog society, a society where everybody is on his own, where nobody gives a damn about his neighbors, where only owners of wealth partake in the political process, and where poor workers are treated like second-class citizens?

NO! Let's work towards achieving a 'Working Society,' where work is rewarded. If you work you should earn enough to rise above the poverty level. We should not allow greedy businesspeople to exploit those without bargaining ability by paying them less than a decent minimum wage. Let's eliminate poverty in 30 years. I'm sure this can be done.

Edwards is running for president. Whether he is the Democratic nominee or not, Democrats should advertise to the world that they are for the 'Working Society.'
Posted by Paul Siegel at June 22, 2006 05:15 PM
I heard Edwards speaking about this on NPR, and before I knew who the speaker was I was thinking, "Man, this guy should be running for president!" I like John Edwards, even if he has some problems with the past (he voted to go into Iraq, but now admits it was a mistake; he's a former personal-injury lawyer, but a damn good one; etc.). He's the only one I hear that doesn't seem to be speaking from a script. He sounds like he's actually thought or is thinking about the issues he's addressing, and I like his "of the people, by the people and for the people" attitude towards government. I certainly like him better than anybody else who has run lately. He's not perfect, but nobody is. At least with Edwards I don't feel like I'm backing the least of all evils, but rather the best of all possibles. Now if he could just lose some of that southern drawl....

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Party Of The Rich Keeps The Rest Poor

Senate Rejects Minimum Wage Hike, GOP Turns Back Democratic Bid For First Increase In Wage Since 1997 - CBS News:
"(CBS/AP) The Republican-controlled Senate refused Wednesday to raise the minimum wage, rejecting an election-year proposal from Democrats for the first increase in nearly a decade. "Let them eat cake (if they can find any in the dumpsters)!

This is really stupid, in fact, the minimum should be tied to the cost-of-living, like so many other things. How else can the working classes buy more stuff and put profits in the pockets of the CEO's?

The real point isn't how raising the minimum affects jobs, it's how to raise the minimum without also raising inflation. That's the dirty little secret behind it all.

GOP Delays Vote On Voting Rights Act, Renewal Of 1965 Measure Postponed Under Pressure From Southern States - CBS News

GOP Delays Vote On Voting Rights Act, Renewal Of 1965 Measure Postponed Under Pressure From Southern States - CBS News:
"(AP) House Republican leaders on Wednesday postponed the renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act under objections from Southern Republicans who complained during a private meeting that the legislation unfairly singles out their states for government, a leadership aide said."

...and we had enough trouble keeping the people of color from voting effectively in 2004! No need to be opening this can of worms anytime soon.

Would I Lie To You?

My Way News:
VIENNA (Reuters) - President George W. Bush, seeking to reassure Europeans over the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, said on Wednesday that he wanted eventually to shut the prison and send inmates back to their home countries.
Wait, isn't this sounding a bit unfamiliar?
"I'd like to end Guantanamo. I'd like it to be over with," Bush said at a news conference after talks with European Union leaders. "One of the things we will do is we'll send people back to their home countries." He gave no time frame.
Oh, nevermind, I thought he was serious for a minute.
Bush said some of the roughly 400 prisoners left at Guantanamo, mainly from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Yemen, would have to be tried in U.S. courts.

"They're cold-blooded killers. They will murder somebody if they're let out on the street," he said.
That's more like it. Whew! Thought he was going soft on us!
"We are calling for the closure of Guantanamo. But our discussion today went far beyond the closing of Guantanamo, because we have ... a legal problem, we have grey areas. And there should be no legal void," he said.
The pResident went on to say: I mean, these people could sue us to hell and back if they were ever to exercise their human rights under just about every jurisdiction in the free world. I got 'nuff problems with the law already! Ask again in 2009 when it's no longer my headache

My Way News - Pentagon Withheld Info on Troops' Deaths

My Way News - Pentagon Withheld Info on Troops' Deaths:
TRACY, Calif. (AP) - The Pentagon waited nine months after completing an investigation into the deaths of two U.S. soldiers before notifying relatives the men were killed by Iraqi troops, the military acknowledged Wednesday.
And why would they sit on the information, not informing the families of the two men?
Military officials visited Tyson's family on Tuesday and McCaffrey's on Wednesday to deliver the report, which was completed on Sept. 30, 2005, according to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. She called the nine-month delay troubling.

"If the American people knew that the people we are directly helping train turned on our soldiers, support for this war would slip," Boxer said. "It's very disturbing to think that the Pentagon might be told to keep this kind of thing close to the vest."
I see. It's the old "if-we-told-you-what-was-really-going-on, you-wouldn't-let-it-keep-going-on" conundrum. It's those pesky facts that ruin all the fun, no, agony, no, bullshit, no, heroic endeavor in pursuit of universal freedom.
Iraqi forces who had trained with the Americans had fired at them twice before the incident that killed Patrick McCaffrey, and he had reported it to his superiors, Nadia McCaffrey said.
That's strange, because the Pentagon never heard of such a thing.
A Pentagon spokesman knew of no other incident like the shootings. Boyce said the U.S. military remained confident in its operations with Iraqis.
Yes, and aren't we all confident in our government and military to always do the right thing? NOT!

Another "Employer" Of Illegal Immigrants

My Way News - Dioceses Won't Perform Background Checks:
"LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Roman Catholic dioceses of Los Angeles and Orange County have backed away from a promise to conduct fingerprint background checks on anyone working with children, saying they don't want to lose volunteers who are illegal immigrants."

At least they're honest about it. I'm tellin' ya', annex Mexico and Canada and voila! No more long, messy borders!

I've been busy with my day job lately (why call it "day" when it can go well into the evening?), so my postings have been sparse (some would call that a good thing). My apologies to those who visit here regularly (all three of you).

Monday, June 19, 2006

Stop The Madness!

The Call of the Gun Lobby - New York Times:
The criminalizing of peace officers for swapping federal data beyond their narrow jurisdictions is only one of the provisions in a pair of treacherous bills quietly on the move, in another sweeping triumph for the gun lobby. The bills would gut what is left of initiative in the hamstrung bureau that's supposed to control firearms. They would roll back laws for stopping illicit gun traffickers, water down criminal definitions and penalties, and snuff out the current notification to concerned police officials about the virtual fire sales of multiple guns to single buyers by dealers arming the underworld.

These two bills would give crooked dealers more — not less — leeway in interstate trafficking. The Justice Department has warned that the worst provisions would have a 'chilling effect' on gun control and law enforcement. If they had been in effect during the deadly spree of the Washington, D.C., snipers, the dealer who peddled the murder rifle and scores of other crime guns could never have been shut down under federal law.

The gun lobby will do almost anything to deny basic information about the gun mayhem that Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York and 60 other mayors are properly pursuing through the courts. The bills answer the question of how craven Congress can get in catering to its demands.
Or, just shoot me. Kidding. The gun lobby is one of the worst when it comes to public health concerns. Big tobacco was hardly more cutthroat. The second amendment mentions state militias, but somewhere along the way that part has been forgotten or purposely overlooked. The lobbyists keep saying that if we criminalize gun ownership, only criminals will have guns (they conveniently leave out the police and armed forces), and that's just fine with me. They have them now! So what difference will it make, other than make the sale of guns to criminals a crime and therefore stoppable?!

The People May Speak

South Dakota Voters Will Decide Abortion Law - New York Times:
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) -- South Dakota voters this fall will decide the fate of a law that would ban most abortions in the state, Secretary of State Chris Nelson said Monday.

Nelson said opponents of the measure have gathered enough signatures to refer the law passed by the Legislature to a statewide public vote in the Nov. 7 election.
And I hope they do, for sanity and liberty.


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