Friday, August 04, 2006

Dems Stand Tall In Face Of Rep Ploy

Wage Bill Dies; Senate Backs Pension Shift - New York Times:
"Mr. Frist and his allies in business viewed the wage increase, stretched over three years, as an acceptable trade-off for a permanent reduction in the estate tax and $38 billion in tax breaks and federal aid that constituted the third part of the measure. But they could not overcome intense opposition from Democrats and organized labor."

I wasn't counting on this to happen, but they surprised me this time. Thank you, Democratic senators, for not giving in to Frist's election year shenanigans (this time)! Please keep doing so!

Jane And FDL Make The Big Show!

In Race, Bloggers Throw Curves and Spitballs - New York Times:
An online blog called Firedoglake revealed that Mr. Lieberman owned shares in mutual funds that held Halliburton stock. Other blogs latched onto the July 20 item, Lamont aides alerted reporters and soon it had found its way into local newspapers, tempering Mr. Lieberman’s attack.

This was one example of how the Lamont campaign tried to harness the energy, anger and muckraking zeal of an expanding network of blogs in its effort to unseat Mr. Lieberman, the three-term senator. Dozens of liberal and antiwar bloggers, some of them from across the country but many others in Connecticut, have rallied to Mr. Lamont’s cause. In their blogs — a frequent publication of personal thoughts and Web links, often done chronologically — they file daily posts attacking, investigating or just tweaking Mr. Lieberman while spreading a pro-Lamont message.
Way to go, Jane! You rule! Keep it up! P.S.: They still don't get it, but at least they're taking notice. P.P.S.: Nice pic in the article!

Rummy Still Drinking The Koolaid

The Sound of One Domino Falling - New York Times:
Americans are frightened by the growing chaos in the Mideast, and the last thing they needed to hear this week was Mr. Rumsfeld laying blame for sectarian violence on a few Al Qaeda schemers. What they want is some assurance that the administration has a firm grasp on reality and has sensible, achievable goals that could lead to an end to the American involvement in Iraq with as little long-term damage as possible. Instead, Mr. Rumsfeld offered the same old exhortation to stay the course, without the slightest hint of what the course is, other than the rather obvious point that the Iraqis have to learn to run their own country.

By contrast, the generals flanking him were pillars of candor and practicality. Gen. John Abizaid, the U.S. commander in the Middle East, said “Iraq could move toward civil war” if the sectarian violence — which he said “is probably as bad as I’ve seen it” — is not contained. The generals tried to be optimistic about the state of the Iraqi security forces, but it was hard. They had to acknowledge that a militia controls Basra, that powerful Iraqi government officials run armed bands that the Pentagon considers terrorist organizations financed by Iran, and that about a third of the Iraqi police force can’t be trusted to fight on the right side.
This is only to be expected. Rumsfield was hanging around the White House since the Nixon era. He's either an expert or a dinosaur, depending on your ideology. The far-right is stuck in '50s ideology, so they love him. Progressives, on the other hand, want him to go away (or worse places). I think he'd be best used as the grandfather character in some sitcom on Fox. He definitely shouldn't be in his current position.

Hillary Gets Feisty

My Way News:
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday called on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign, after accusing him of 'presiding over a failed policy in Iraq.'"

Those Welcoming Open Arms Of Appreciation

My Way News - Iraqi Shiites Chant 'Death to Israel':
"BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Hundreds of thousands of Shiites chanting 'Death to Israel' and 'Death to America' marched through the streets of Baghdad's biggest Shiite district Friday in a show of support for Hezbollah militants battling Israeli troops in Lebanon."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Count Alabama As Permanently Red

Strong-Arming the Vote - New York Times:
Alabama is one of many states that have been late in meeting a federal requirement to create a computerized statewide list of voters. Secretary of State Nancy Worley says the delay is due to factors outside her control. Her critics disagree. But whatever the reason, the Justice Department has every right to try to speed things along. The trouble is, rather than work with Ms. Worley to get the job done, it decided to go to court to take away her authority and hand it to Gov. Bob Riley.

Sadly, a federal judge agreed yesterday to do just that, in a one-sided proceeding that felt a lot like a kangaroo court. The Justice Department and the Alabama attorney general, Troy King, both argued that Governor Riley should control the voter database. Mr. King, a Republican, was appointed to his job by Governor Riley after serving as his legal adviser, and when Ms. Worley realized that Mr. King would not represent her interests, she asked him to let her hire a lawyer to argue her side. He refused. The Alabama Democratic Party tried to intervene in the case, so it could argue against giving control of the voter rolls to the governor. The judge, who was recently named to the bench by President Bush, would not let the Democrats in.

The Justice Department’s request to shift Ms. Worley’s powers to Governor Riley is extraordinary. Normally, the government would seek an order telling a state official what to do, or it would ask to have a nonpartisan person appointed as a special master. And the Justice Department’s aggressive stance stands in stark contrast to the forgiving approach it has taken to Republican secretaries of state. After Katherine Harris removed eligible voters from the rolls in Florida in 2000, and Kenneth Blackwell tried to block eligible people from registering in Ohio in 2004, the Justice Department made no effort to limit their powers.
It's all part of the plan. Watch those swing-states in the next election, especially those that have computerized voting machines, especially voting machines without paper-trail. And most especially in 2008! At this point, even the Iraqis have a more functional democracy than we do.

Spreading Security Like We Spread Democracy

In Iraq, It’s Hard to Trust Anyone in Uniform - New York Times:
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 2 — The camouflaged Iraqi commandos who kidnapped 20 people from a pair of central Baghdad offices this week used Interior Ministry vehicles and left little trace of their true identities.

Were they legitimate officers? Members of a Shiite or Sunni death squad? Or criminals in counterfeit uniforms bought at the market?

Majid Hamid, 41, a Sunni human rights worker whose brother was kidnapped and killed by men in uniform four months ago, said he doubted that the answer would ever be known. Now, he said, the authorities normally trusted to investigate may be responsible for the crime.

“Whenever I see uniforms now, I figure they must be militias,” Mr. Hamid said in a recent interview. “I immediately try to avoid them. If I have my gun, I know I need to be ready to use it.” [emphasis mine]

Pants Are Smoking At The Pentagon

New Tapes Disclose Confusion Within the Military on Sept. 11 - New York Times:
The Sept. 11 commission subpoenaed the tapes and other evidence after the panel’s investigators determined that material had been improperly withheld by Norad, which is responsible for air defense.

Members of the commission said the tapes demonstrated that the Pentagon’s initial account of its actions on Sept. 11 was wrong and that some military officers might have intentionally provided false statements to the commission.

The officers had testified that Norad had been tracking Flight 93, the plane that crashed into a Pennsylvania field after a cockpit struggle between passengers and the hijackers, and were prepared to shoot it down if it approached Washington.

But the tapes show that the military was not even alerted to the hijacking of the United flight until four minutes after it had crashed.
Military officers lying to Congress? When has that ever happened?!

Reverse Joe-mentum

New Poll Shows Lieberman Losing Ground - New York Times:
"HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Millionaire businessman Ned Lamont opened a double-digit lead over veteran Sen. Joe Lieberman less than a week before Connecticut's Democratic primary, raising the possibility that the three-term senator may have to run as an independent in November, a new poll released Thursday shows."They said it couldn't be done, but Lamont is doing it. The people are fed up with status quo, Republican-lite Democrats, and even the encumbents will not be allowed to continue their follow-the-leader/ignore-the-constituent ways without a fight. I hope this is a lesson for them all. Are you paying attention, Hillary? Chuck?

Even The Handpicked Generals Know

U.S. Generals See Growing Threat of Civil War in Iraq - New York Times:
“I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I’ve seen it, in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war,” Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of United States forces in the Middle East, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

A similarly sobering assessment was offered by Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said he can envision the present situation “devolving to a civil war.”

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Murtha Was Right

Pentagon: Probe Backs Haditha Charges, Marines Accused Of Deliberately Killing 24 Iraqi Civilians - CBS News:
"(CBS/AP) Evidence collected on the deaths of 24 Iraqis in Haditha supports accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot the civilians, including unarmed women and children, a Pentagon official said Wednesday."

One of the soldiers charged in the killings is suing John Murtha for defamation. Somebody ought to inform him and his legal team that it's only defamation if it's not true.

Cost Of War About To Go Up

National Guard General Sounds Warning, Says Majority Of Army Nat'l Guard Brigades Are Not Combat-Ready - CBS News:
(CBS/AP) More than two-thirds of the Army National Guard's 34 brigades are not combat ready due largely to vast equipment shortfalls that will take as much as $21 billion to correct, the top National Guard general said Tuesday.

The comments by Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum came in the wake of disclosures by Army officials, analysts and members of Congress that two-thirds of the active Army's brigades are not rated ready for war.

The problem, they say, is driven by budget constraints that won't allow the military to complete the personnel training and equipment repairs and replacement that must be done when units return home after deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Looks like that deficit thingy is actually worse than the administration wants us to think. Much worse. Much, much worse.

Finally Starting To Get It?

Anxiety Rises as Paychecks Trail Inflation - New York Times:
The common ingredient in Chicago and Colorado isn’t simply populist anger. It’s a particular anxiety that people have about their paychecks. Whether the culprit seems to be Wal-Mart’s drive for profits or an illegal immigrant who takes someone’s else job, many families feel as if they’re falling behind, and they’re right. While it can be dangerous to make too much of two isolated incidents, these seem like a signal that the politics of the American economy may be coming to a turning point.

Going back to the 1970’s, the single best predictor of the nation’s mood has been its collective paycheck. For all the other things that affect public opinion, like a war or a scandal, the power of wages jumps out at you when you look at broad polling data over the last 30 years.

When pay has been steadily increasing, as it was in the 1980’s and late 90’s, optimism has surged. But when pay stagnates, pessimism about the country’s future inevitably takes over. As Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, says, “When their jobs aren’t going anywhere, many people lose their optimism about the country making economic progress.”


Moreover, the complex reality of a growing economy that isn’t benefiting most workers will tempt both parties in some dangerous ways. Many Democrats have taken to exaggerating the economy’s problems in recent years — overlooking, say, the resurgence of cities, the decline in interest rates and the benefits of technology — and have ended up out of step with the voting public. “This idea that people are worse off than 20 or 30 years ago is so ludicrous,” said Jason Furman, an economist who advised John Kerry’s 2004 campaign. “And I’ve come to appreciate how damaging it is.”

President Bush and his advisers, meanwhile, continue to talk about the rise in average income, which is happening almost entirely because of gains at the very top. Among their many attempts to talk up the economy, my favorite was a chart released by the Treasury Department showing that median household income had fallen since 2000 — but not by as much as it had in the early 90’s. That’s probably not going to make people feel a lot better. So don’t be surprised if the local outbursts of anxiety in Chicago and Colorado soon go national.
Ahhh! It's finally back to the economy, stupid! Will people finally get angry enough to stop the plutocracy? Maybe. And that's a more optimistic attitude than I've had in quite some time.

EPA Follows NASA Into FUBAR-land

Unions Say E.P.A. Bends to Political Pressure - New York Times:
"WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 — Unions representing thousands of staff scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency say the agency is bending to political pressure and ignoring sound science in allowing a group of toxic chemicals to be used in agricultural pesticides."

Meanwhile In That Other War...

3 British Soldiers Killed in Ambush in Southern Afghanistan - New York Times:
KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 1 — Three British soldiers were killed and one wounded in an ambush in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, just one day after NATO took over command of the region from the United States, a NATO military statement said.

Nine British soldiers have died in the two months since they were deployed to the province of Helmand, where they have encountered intense resistance from insurgents, often in well-laid ambushes.
Still there, still breeding terrorists. Uh, I mean, insurgents.

Bush Imminentizing The Eschaton?

BushÂ?s Embrace of Israel Shows Gap With Father - New York Times:
"Unlike the first President Bush, who viewed himself as a neutral arbiter in the delicate politics of the Middle East, the current president sees his role through the prism of the fight against terrorism. This President Bush, unlike his father, also has deep roots in the evangelical Christian community, a staunchly pro-Israeli component of his conservative Republican base."In other words, W doesn't want to be "left behind" and would welcome the arrival of Armageddonn. The support of Israel by the evangelicals is the most cynical, disingenuous display of dogmatic fatalism since Constantine!

She Just Can't Help It

Ex-Aide Says Katherine Harris Hid Subpoena - New York Times:
"TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris received a grand jury subpoena from federal investigators but kept it from her top campaign advisers, leading to the latest round of staff departures last month, a former aide said."

A real class act, that Harris. I wonder where she hid the subpoena; in the same hole she buried all those ballots back in 2000?

Return Of Reason In Kansas School Board

Evolution Opponents Lose Kansas Board Majority - New York Times:
"Kansas voters on Tuesday handed power back to moderates on the State Board of Education, setting the stage for a return of science teaching that broadly accepts the theory of evolution, according to preliminary election results."

Those kids will at least get a valuable lesson in politics. The best knews here is that the Republican candidates are becoming more moderate and less extreme (i.e., fundamentalist). I hope this is a trend for the nation, because the fundies will be the death of us all if allowed to continue their dogmatic march into a rapturous hell.

Monday, July 31, 2006

More From The Business-First Government

Senator Calls For Probe Of FDA Conduct, In Connection With Its Actions As It Reviewed Safety Of Vioxx - CBS News:
'The FDA officials didn't want to allow me to present my work at a scientific conference, but at the same time they wanted to be sure that Merck had a copy of my scientific presentation,' Dr. Graham said. 'So it's good enough for Merck, but it's not good enough for the American people?'

Sen. Chuck Grassley said the FDA and Merck went so far as to conspire together to undercut Dr. Graham's findings.
Because what's good enough for Merck isn't good enough for the American people! Exactly!

Another Way We're "N umber One"

Prisoners and Human Rights - New York Times:
"The United States has the worst record in the free world when it comes to stripping convicted felons of the right to vote. In contrast, most European countries hold that right so dear that they bring ballot boxes into prisons."

More Crap From The House Of Republicans

Fooling the Voters - New York Times:
One of the bills was a pension reform measure. The other was a grab bag that contains three main items: an extension of the expired tax credit for corporate research; a $2.10 an hour increase in the minimum wage, to be phased in over three years; and a multibillion-dollar estate-tax cut. That’s the deal House Republicans are really offering — a few more dollars for 6.6 million working Americans; billions more for some 8,000 of the wealthiest families.


The Senate has one week before its summer recess. As the senators struggle to produce decent legislation from the House’s sham bills, Americans will see the truth: their representatives in the House went on vacation without doing their job.


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