Saturday, July 30, 2005

Alabama Sharia 

Put this in the Talibornagain file I guess...

The Alabama Supreme Court issued a 100-+ page ruling in a child custody case. Why did it take so many pages? Because seven of the nine judges filed separate opinions. Why did they have to do this?

Because they could not agree on which Bible verses were most applicable to the case in question.

I swear to Go....well, I just affirm to you I am not making this up. I wish to Go...well, I wish very strongly that I were:

(via Alabama news roundup)
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A divided Alabama Supreme Court decided a child custody dispute Friday with a history-making decision citing legal precedent, the Bible, and parents' relationship with God.

Justice Tom Parker, who wrote a dissenting opinion, noted that in the more than 7,100 cases in the Supreme Court's database, "this is the first case in which Justices of the Court have issued seven separate opinions."

Their opinions totaled 100 pages, which is unusually long for the state's highest court. The other decisions released by the Supreme Court Friday averaged 30 pages.

Five justices concurred with the lower court's decision, with noting that the father "had never spent 24 hours alone with his son."

Citing Psalms 127:3-5, [Justice Lyn Stewart] wrote that children are a gift from God, but they come with responsibilities.

In a lone dissent, Parker quoted from Romans 13:1-2, which says "there is no authority except from God." Parker wrote that God, not the state, has given parents the rights and responsibilities to raise their children.

CAFTA: Enter the Washington Generals 

The math:

The House voted 217-215 in favor of the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, early on Thursday morning, with 15 Democrats joining 202 Republicans in support.
(via Reuters)

So, faced with the chance to hand Bush a stinging defeat, 15 Democrats betrayed their party to hand Bush a victory.

Guys, you can't win the game if you keep handing the ball to your enemies!

Oh, wait, I forgot. The Washington Generals never to win, don't they? But boy, do they make Meadowlark Lemon look good. I read all the headlines about Bush being "on a roll"—et tu Froomkin—and "legislative victories" and all, and my B.S.S. syndrome spiked really bad.

So these guys want me to live with B.S.S. for the rest of my life?!

NOTE And now Nancy Pelosi is whining about ethics. Nancy, it was your job to win the vote!

Reefer Madness 

First, we bust some industrious potheads who were tunneling under the Canada-US border. Now, this.

Vancouver — Marc Emery, Canada's most prominent pro-marijuana activist, is facing the possibility of life imprisonment in the United States for selling marijuana seeds over the Internet to U.S. customers.

In a stunning development, RCMP officers arrested the self-proclaimed “Prince of Pot” in Halifax yesterday after a U.S. federal grand jury indicted him on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

The charges stem from Mr. Emery's lucrative sale of marijuana seeds, an activity he has carried on from his Vancouver base with minimal legal penalty for 10 years.

...U.S. drug-enforcement officials said they will seek Mr. Emery's extradition from Canada to stand trial in Seattle, where conviction on either of the marijuana charges carries a minimum prison term of 10 years to a maximum of life.

...“I am pleased to announce that he is out of business as of today,” Mr. Benson told a Seattle news conference. “His overblown arrogance and abuse of the rule of law will no longer be on display. Like other drugs, marijuana harms the innocents.”
(via Globe and Mail)
It's a good we don't have other international law enforcement issues to deal with. But even if we did, I think it's important that we send a message to arrogant druggies who thumb their noses at the law and live a life shielded from accountability for their own actions. Unless we make a clear statement of zero tolerance for this kind of activity, there's no telling what crimes these sociopaths may wind up committing.

Bush gets a physical 

Hope they checked out his thumb. It looks like there's something wrong with it (back).

The AP story has some detail:

President Bush, who has been spending hours riding his mountain bike - even in Europe - was getting his regular physical exam Saturday.

The 59-year-old commander in chief usually gets his annual physical during the summer, but the 2004 election campaign postponed his last one until Dec. 11, 2004.

That's odd. Why would the campaign do that? Does anybody know if the results were released?

Aside from minor health ailments [which would be?], doctors pronounced Bush in a "superior" fitness category - or the top fifth percentile - for men his age.

So why does Bush keep falling off his bike?

Um, it doesn't look like a "thumbs up" to me 


But that's their story, and they're sticking to it.

I guess Bush got so excited—along with WaPo, even Froomkin, fer gawdsake—that the Republicans actually passed some legislation that he got all cocky. First thing you know, He starts strutting again, next thing He's... Well, giving the thumbs up sign.

(Isn't passing legislation something that a Partei that controls all three branches of government is supposed to do?)

MBF Watch: Roll over, Mark Udall! 

Here's the pitiful end of the Denver Three story. In its entirety!

The Secret Service has determined the identity of a mystery man who forcibly removed three people from a March appearance by President Bush in Denver, but it has decided to not press charges.

In a letter sent to three Colorado members of Congress, the Secret Service said that its investigation is over and that it will not name the man because no charges were filed.

The terse letter -- released by the Colorado lawmakers -- puts to rest a months-long Secret Service probe into the identity of the man accused of impersonating a Secret Service agent to kick three anti-Bush Democrats from the president's rally.

The people became known as the "Denver Three" as their crusade to unmask the mystery bouncer took them all the way to Capitol Hill. They said they were confronted by a man -- dressed in an official-looking suit and wearing an earpiece similar to ones plugged into the ears of Bush's security detail -- who forced them to leave an event simply because they had an "No More Blood for Oil" bumper sticker on their car. The man never said he was an agent, but he threatened to arrest them if they did not obey his orders. The White House said he was a volunteer who was not operating in any official capacity for Bush. "Hopefully the White House will put in place procedures for town meetings that allow all views to be heard and that respect all law-abiding individuals," Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said in a statement.
(via WaPo)

"Hopefully," forsooth. How pious. How... How powerless.

Does Representative Udall have a custodial relationship with his balls? Has Udall been out of the country for the last year? Was he out of the country for "election" 2004? Because some of us have noticed that Bush is all about allowing only views he agrees with to be heard—see WMD fiasco, where everyone who agreed with Bush even though they were all wrong was promoted—and his "Town Halls"—both in "election" 2004 and in the Social Security bamboozepalooza this year—were staged, ticketted events to which only Republicans were invited (though naturally Democrats, as taxpayers, were allowed to pick up the tab).

The bottom line is this:

It's now officially OK, no problemo, copacetic, strictly legal for a Partei brownshirt to impersonate a Secret Service officer. Man, I'm going to go sign up today! Free armbands! I've always wanted to play a cop! Now I can!

John Bolton: shin kicker 

John Bolton attempts to strangle to death the truth about himself before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, Monday, April 11, 2005.

Lets revisit - shalt we - a showery April afternoon on Capitol Hill:
Horrifying, personal John Bolton story by amyindallas.

Fri Apr 15th, 2005 at 07:15:42 PDT
My best friend since college, Melody Townsel, was stationed in Kyrgyzstan on a US AID project. During her stay there, she became embroiled in a controversy in which the oh-so-diplomatic John Bolton was a key player. She described the incident in a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee members (who have thus far responded with a yawn), and I wanted to share it with a larger audience.

Here's a small taste:

"Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel -- throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and, generally, behaving like a madman."


Here's the entire text of her letter:

Dear Sir:

I'm writing to urge you to consider blocking in committee the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the UN.

In the late summer of 1994, I worked as the subcontracted leader of a US AID project in Kyrgyzstan officially awarded to a HUB primary contractor. My own employer was Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, and I reported directly to Republican leader Charlie Black.

After months of incompetence, poor contract performance, inadequate in-country funding, and a general lack of interest or support in our work from the prime contractor, I was forced to make US AID officials aware of the prime contractor's poor performance.

I flew from Kyrgyzstan to Moscow to meet with other Black Manafort employees who were leading or subcontracted to other US AID projects. While there, I met with US AID officials and expressed my concerns about the project -- chief among them, the prime contractor's inability to keep enough cash in country to allow us to pay bills, which directly resulted in armed threats by Kyrgyz contractors to me and my staff.

Within hours of sending a letter to US AID officials outlining my concerns, I met John Bolton, whom the prime contractor hired as legal counsel to represent them to US AID. And, so, within hours of dispatching that letter, my hell began.

Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel -- throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and, generally, behaving like a madman. For nearly two weeks, while I awaited fresh direction from my company and from US AID, John Bolton hounded me in such an appalling way that I eventually retreated to my hotel room and stayed there. Mr. Bolton, of course, then routinely visited me there to pound on the door and shout threats.

When US AID asked me to return to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in advance of assuming leadership of a project in Kazakstan, I returned to my project to find that John Bolton had proceeded me by two days. Why? To meet with every other AID team leader as well as US foreign-service officials in Bishkek, claiming that I was under investigation for misuse of funds and likely was facing jail time. As US AID can confirm, nothing was further from the truth.

He indicated to key employees of or contractors to State that, based on his discussions with investigatory officials, I was headed for federal prison and, if they refused to cooperate with either him or the prime contractor's replacement team leader, they, too, would find themselves the subjects of federal investigation. As a further aside, he made unconscionable comments about my weight, my wardrobe and, with a couple of team leaders, my sexuality, hinting that I was a lesbian (for the record, I'm not).

When I resurfaced in Kyrgyzstan, I learned that he had done such a convincing job of smearing me that it took me weeks -- with the direct intervention of US AID officials -- to limit the damage. In fact, it was only US AID's appoinment of me as a project leader in Almaty, Kazakstan that largely put paid to the rumors Mr. Bolton maliciously circulated.

As a maligned whistleblower, I've learned firsthand the lengths Mr. Bolton will go to accomplish any goal he sets for himself. Truth flew out the window. Decency flew out the window. In his bid to smear me and promote the interests of his client, he went straight for the low road and stayed there.

John Bolton put me through hell -- and he did everything he could to intimidate, malign and threaten not just me, but anybody unwilling to go along with his version of events. His behavior back in 1994 wasn't just unforgivable, it was pathological.

I cannot believe that this is a man being seriously considered for any diplomatic position, let alone such a critical posting to the UN. Others you may call before your committee will be able to speak better to his stated dislike for and objection to stated UN goals. I write you to speak about the very character of the man.

It took me years to get over Mr. Bolton's actions in that Moscow hotel in 1994, his intensely personal attacks and his shocking attempts to malign my character.

I urge you from the bottom of my heart to use your ability to block Mr. Bolton's nomination in committee.

Respectfully yours,

Melody Townsel
Dallas, TX 75208

daily kos

Maybe Mr. Bolton (him with the yellow cake crumbs stuck to his upper lip-hair) will scamper up and down the hallways of the UN shoving mysterious forgeries under strange doors and snapping a wet towel at Kofi Annan! Woo-hoo! Now that's a real adult at work. Afterall, character matters.

"Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel -- throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door..."

Jesus, ya know what? In a real world, with any kind of so called country justice, someone would just walk up to a sibilant patent-leather paperclip puff like Bolton and cork the stupid son-of-a-bitch right between the eyes. *KNUCK!* Just like that. Rock the stupid bastard right back on his heels, spin him around, and then finish him off with a swift kick in the ass. Send him shiny shoes over toupee back down the corridor of whatever mysterious hotel hallway he came from with his confetti of threatening letters fluttering after him in the trailing draft.

Of course our national make believe tough guy and former prep school cheer-lad: George W. "The FABULOUS" Bush, will undoubtably (according to anonymous administration officials) scamper off to the playground, gather the sorry shoulder-chip loser Bolton up in his arms, pin a little shiny star on his forehead, and appoint the contemptible fool to some Swingset Bully post. That stands to reason. Takes a sore sorry-assed failure to know one. All this during recess of course. When the adults are out to lunch.


Flag Desecration - make up your own caption 

mr conservative characterbringing dignity and honor to the airport...

Character matters:
[George W. Bush] Presidential behavior: Will uphold the dignity and honor of the office of president. He refuses to answer questions about whether he"s ever used drugs and won"t discuss mistakes he made when he was younger because he doesn't want his daughters or other children to imitate bad behavior. - back link

What will we tell the children?

For photo (source) above and additional commentary visit dixychik at Sweet Liberty News

GALLUPING POLLS; today's race to the bottom results - 43 finishes 44 on a fast track to the glue factory:
PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup Poll finds a decline in George W. Bush's job approval rating. After standing at 49% approval in the prior two CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls conducted this month, now just 44% of Americans say they approve of Bush, a new low mark for the president.


The July 25-28 Gallup Poll finds 44% of Americans approving and 51% disapproving of the job Bush is doing as president. Bush's prior low approval rating was 45%, which occurred once in March and once again in June of this year. gallup.com

mommy, why is president Bush waving to the American people like that?


Friday, July 29, 2005

Them that's GWOT shall get... 

So the Bible says, and it still is news...

Yes, Karen Hughes, the new Minister of Truth Associate Under Assistant Uber Secretary of State (or something) for Propaganda Public Affairs is already making an impact!

Sure, Bush screwed the pooch in the Global War on Terror (ports, Iraq clusterfuck makes terrorism worse) but you know what we can do, says Karen? We can rebrand it! That's the kind of thing that suckers will always fall for...

And GWOT sounds so awkward! And all those jokes: Like "They don't know GWOT." It's too much.

So, how about GSAVE? The Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism! (Someone at the WhiteWash House must be a closet Corrente reader; we called for a Campaign Against Fundamentalism (back) in March 2004. Of course, the malAdministration will hijack the name while brutalizing the substance—that is, all fundamentalists are the enemy everywhere... But still.)

So, GSAVE, pretty good. But here's where Karen's real genius shines through. I started wondering—Why Global Struggle? "Global" is so Birkenstock, so earthy crunchy, so global warming... People like Al Gore or that Kerry are global... "Planet"? PSAVE? Karen gets a mental image of Mr. P-****, moves on quickly...

World? World Struggle Against Violent Extremism? Hmm. Like that "World Struggle" thing, sounds like World War, like FDR...


Now, if Karl Rove weren't hiding under his desk, chewing his hands, he would have rammed that "W" right down all our throats. Never mind all the jokes, like "saved W's narrow ass in two elections."

But Karen is so much more subtle than Karl. She saw that the "SAVE" was the important part. After all, in a Godly White House, what could be more important than being saved—and saving the world? So stick with Global. And speak directly to the base.

That Karen! Always on message!

UPDATE Sometimes things are just too obvious to see. As alert reader pantsonire points out, subliminally:

GSAVE = Je[sus] Saves

Speaking directly to the base, alright!

Department of No! They Would Never Do That! Nukes of August for Teheran? 

Sure, as GrannyInsanity caveats, "Tinfoil Hat Time".... And surely the idea that Bush would nuke Iran after a second 9/11-style attack on the U.S.—while yet again vacationing at His "Prairie [gag] Chapel" "Ranch"... Well, it's just too weird to contemplate, isn't it?

Still, as Xan pointed out and Granny reminds us, there was that mysterious task force...

But since there's no election in 2005, I'd say the odds are a lot lower than another 9/11-style attack in 2006....

SCOTUS Watch: Why does Stealthy John Roberts want to hide his tax return? 

Especially since I thought he was the type of judge who would defer to precedent:

The Bush administration will not give Senate investigators access to the federal tax returns of Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr., White House and congressional officials said yesterday, a break with precedent that could exacerbate a growing conflict over document disclosure in the confirmation process.

Although nominees to the high court in recent decades were required to provide their three most recent annual tax forms, the administration will neither collect such documents from Roberts nor share them with the Senate Judiciary Committee, the officials said. Instead, the Internal Revenue Service will produce a one-page summary.
(via WaPo)

Say, correct me if I'm wrong here, but I thought Congress was a co-equal branch of government under the Consitution. So why can the President see Roberts's tax return, and not Congress?

Especially since past nominees have revealed their tax returns?

Could it be that Roberts deducted contributions to... What?

5:00 horror: The scum also rises 

Bolton had already distorted intelligence and been wrong about the war, the two top qualifications for promotion in Wonderland the Bush White House. So, I guess lying to Congress (back) must have tipped the balance—in Bolton's favor.

President Bush intends to announce next week that he is going around Congress to install embattled nominee John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, senior administration officials said Friday.
(via AP)

And I guess Bush figures He stonewalled those pesky intercepts that Bolton asked for successfully... The ones that Congress—a theoretically co-equal branch of government—was never allowed to see....


Don't know whether this would be getting significant coverage in the US if the London bombing arrests weren't competing with it (it's all but invisible on CNN), but in the Commonwealth, it's a close second:
After 35 years of bombs and blood a quiet voice ends the IRA's war

The IRA yesterday declared that its war against Britain was over. Even in the long debased hyperbole of historic moments in the Northern Ireland peace process, this was a monumental announcement.

Its statement, unprecedented in its clarity, was delivered on a DVD by a soft-spoken IRA volunteer called Seana Walsh, who at 50 is typical of the now middle-aged rank and file of the organisation. He had spent 21 years in prison and was one of the IRA "blanket men" during the hunger strike and dirty protests in the Maze prison in the 1970s and 1980s.

Standing in front of an Irish tricolour, he announced that from 4pm a "formal end to the armed campaign" had been ordered. All IRA units were ordered to "dump arms". The IRA vowed to complete its long-running decommissioning process as quickly as possible by "verifiably [putting] its arms beyond use".
(via Guardian UK)

And the Brits quickly reciprocate:

British army cuts bases after IRA peace move

Belfast — The British army began closing or demolishing military installations in the Irish Republican Army's rural heartland Friday in a rapid response to the IRA's declaration to renounce violence and disarm.

Soldiers started to dismantle or withdraw from three positions in South Armagh, a rebellious borderland nicknamed "bandit country," where soldiers still travel by helicopter because of the risk of IRA dissidents' roadside bombs.

The move came a day after IRA commanders promised to disarm fully and directed to their units to dump their weapons and use "exclusively peaceful means" from now on.
(via Globe and Mail)

So that's how one long, twilight struggle ends. And it only took 35 years.
And it’s true we are immune
When fact is fiction and tv reality
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die

The real battle yet begun
To claim the victory jesus won
On Sunday bloody sunday

SCOTUS Watch: White House Continues to Hide Documents from Congress 

So, if Congress and the Executive are co-equal branches of government, why shouldn't Congress be able to see every document that Roberts and his handlers should see? I mean, what could there be for "political deputy" (back) Stealthy John Roberts to hide?

Administration officials say they will refuse to make available a larger number of documents dating from Roberts' time in the solicitor general's office from 1989-1993.

We'll have some reasons the WhiteWash House might not have wanted to do that this evening. Farmers been into Lexis again...

In a sentence that could just as easily apply to his own confirmation proceedings as to [O'Connors], Roberts wrote on Sept. 17, 1981, "The approach was to avoid giving specific responses to any direct questions on legal issues likely to come before the court, but demonstrating in the response a firm command of the subject area and awareness of the relevant precedents and arguments."
(via AP)

"Firm command"? Sounds like Dobson to me, chortle... Say, maybe Roberts is part of a theocratic sleeper cell after all...

What will today's 5:00 horror be? 

It's Friday, 5:00, when the White House likes to dump documents that it hopes nobody will read.

Plus, Congress is going into the August recess!

Readers, what'll it be? The Bolton nomination?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ask Roberts your questions! 

So much for Bolton's recess appointment 


The State Department reversed itself on Thursday night and acknowledged that
President Bush's U.N. ambassador nominee gave Congress inaccurate information about an investigation he was involved in.

The acknowledgment came after the State Department had earlier insisted nominee John Bolton's "answer was truthful" when he said he had not been questioned or provided information to jury or government investigations in the past five years.

And why was Bolton's answer "not truthful"? Wait for it...

"When Mr. Bolton completed his form during the Senate confirmation process he did not recall being interviewed by the State Department inspector general. Therefore his form as submitted was inaccurate in this regard and he will correct the form," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
(via Reuters)

Look, I can understand how Stealthy John Roberts would forget whether or not he was a member of the most powerful theocratic front organization in the country. That's the sort of thing that could happen to anyone.

But how on earth could Bolton not remember being interviewed by the State Department inspector general? Is that the sort of thing that happens to Bolton every day? Was the General just not in uniform? Did Bolton confuse him with the inspector admiral? Was wind from the fan in Bolton's office blowing his moustache over his eyes when the General came to call? Was Bolton so busy licking Wolfie's comb that he didn't notice who walked in the door? WTF?

How do the Republicans find do it? How do they find the energy to lie all the time?

Department of Fifteen Seconds of Fame: Corrente on CNN 

An alert reader mentioned that we'd been on CNN; farmer dug out the quote. Abbi Tatton hosts CNN's "Inside the Blogs". From her fan site, "I Luv Abbi Tatton":

Ms. Tatton's arms seemed a little more tan than usual ... So the first topic tackled was Roberts's Federalist membership. Ms. Tatton quoted Corrente's point that if they were evasive on a simple thing like this, then it didn't bode well for larger things. But she then noted Washington Monthly's dismissal of the issue as minor. Lastly she quoted Pejmanesque's saying of the issue, in effect, "Is that all?"

The post is here Too had our demand for the "private advice" Roberts gave Jebbie in Florida 2000 didn't get mentioned... Especially since that story got abandoned, when it turned out (back) that Roberts was running rehearsals for the Republican lawyers arguing Bush v. Gore, which wouldn't exactly be "private advice," would it? Our ever-changing stories... Reminds you of the WMD fiasco, doesn't it?

So, if anyone from CNN is reading this now, it would be nice to have an answer to the following question:

Given that Roberts was a member of a "cabal" (back) of former Rehnquist clerks, did he have any private contacts with Rehnquist (or Scalia) before Bush v. Gore was heard, and were the results of any of those contacts fed back into the "rehearsals" Roberts organized for Bush's lawyers?

Just asking.... It would be irresponsible not to speculate!

Frogmarch watch: Novak's story starts to unravel 

What a shame. David Corn writes:

Once the Plame/
CIA leak became big (mainstream-media) news in September 2003--when word hit that the CIA had asked the Justice Department to investigate the leak, which had appeared in a Bob Novak column two months earlier--friends of the White House, including Novak, started saying that Valerie Wilson wasn't really under cover at the CIA and, thus, the disclosure of her employment at the CIA wasn't worth a federal case (or investigation).

White House allies asserted that while Valerie Wilson may have technically been a clandestine CIA official, in practice she wasn't. So all this bother over the leak was much ado about nothing.

Novak, for example, downplayed Valerie Wilson's covert status in an October 1, 2003 column, in which he vaguely described how he had originally learned of her connection to the CIA.

Should Novak be taken at his word on this point? Until now, the public only knew of his side of his conversation with the CIA. But The Washington Post published a piece on Wednesday that provides the CIA's version of this exchange. And it is significantly different from Novak's account. The paper reports,

[Bill] Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission [to Niger taken by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson] and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

So how many contradictions can you find? Novak indicated he had one substantive conversation with a CIA official about Valerie Wilson and he received no clear signal that revealing her name would cause any significant trouble. Harlow said there were two conversations and that in each one he warned Novak about using her name. (Harlow also said he told Novak that Valerie Wilson had not authorized her husband's trip. Remember, several Rove defenders have maintained that when Rove spoke to Time's Matt Cooper--and told Cooper that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and had authorized his trip to Niger--he was merely trying to make sure that Cooper published an accurate account of what happened. Yet the CIA says she did not authorize this trip. Rove was feeding Cooper misleading information.)

Novak's claim that the CIA did not wave him off now stands contested. Will [Novak] run a correction?
(via WaPo)

Funny how all the carefully constructed Republican stories on TreasonGate keep falling apart, isn't it?

But the Republicans manufacture lies like Doritos: "Crunch all you want, we'll make more."

Just Wondering 

Okay, I hate to open a can of worms here, but I just spent a while in a county jail where such questions are the only entertainment aside from playing cards for cigarettes.

When you hear a spokesperson for Bu$hCo telling another galling lie, or when you hear a corporate pigsty spokesperson defending yet another rape of the Native people (or anyone else for that matter), or when a law enforcement figure hassles you for being who you are, which is your preferred method of coping? (Leaving aside prayer, ill-plannned direct action--see note below--and angry rants.)

A. Jim Beam
B. Ezra Brooks
C. Homemade Likker
D. Combination of the above and leafy green substance
E. Listening to old blues records with or without the above
F. Sex, with or without or with any or all of the above

Suggest another bourbon, substance or activity at your own volition.


Tripping Over Their Own Greed? 

This ran yesterday, and I figured that before I could get it posted it would be all over the place. I know it's not a Rove Traitorgate story, or a Roberts Hiding Records story, but this could break open more than might first seem to be the case.

And, as in all good melodramas, if it does lead to getting slime on the record in open court, under oath and all that, it will be the Republican Party's own hypertrophied sense of greed, entitlement and Scroogishness that let it happen:

(via Richmond VA Times-Dispatch)
The Republican Party of Virginia is suing its liability insurance carrier, seeking nearly $1 million in reimbursement for the GOP's payout to settle a lawsuit over the eavesdropping scandal and attorneys' fees the insurer refused to cover.

The state GOP contends in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond that the Union Insurance Co. of Lincoln, Neb., breached its contract by not covering the $750,000 the party paid in December to Virginia Democrats who sued over two intercepted conference calls.

The lawsuit also seeks $200,000 for legal bills from the GOP's nine-month court battle with Democratic legislators and other party officials who alleged top Republican operatives violated their privacy rights.

The party contends it should have been covered because it did not know about or condone the espionage on calls made March 22 and 25, 2002, among Democratic lawmakers and, briefly, Gov. Mark R. Warner. The Democrats from across the state met by phone to discuss legal strategy for challenging the 2001 Republican-authored legislative redistricting plan.

The party's former executive director, Edmund A. Matricardi III, secretly monitored the calls and pleaded guilty in 2003 to a single federal count of intercepting a wire communication.

His boss at the time, former state GOP Chairman Gary R. Thomson, pleaded guilty to a related misdemeanor and stepped down as chairman. He listened with Matricardi to part of the second Democratic conference call.

The Republican Party contends that as a corporation, it was harmed by the unsanctioned mischief of rogue operatives.
Yep, you read that right: the party's paid executive director and the state GOP Chairman are "rogue operatives." Hmm, where have we heard this phrasing before? Guantanamo, perhaps? Abu Ghraib, maybe? Ohio?

The Virginia Republican Party wants to be able to break the law AND have their insurance companies pay the fines when they get caught. But now that they've been stupid enough to put this case in US District Court, I would think that Union Insurance Company might be in a position to demand records of anything Messrs. Thompson and Matricardi did, since the claim is that they were "rogue operatives."

Virginia Democrats should be over this like....well, I was going to say "like stink on shit" but that would be crude and lower the discourse.

Activist judges! - IOKIYAR 

Surely, all of you reading here, have become all to familiar with the common vocalizations of the Clucking Right-Wing Harien Cuckoo. The repetetive cacaphony of shrill high pitched shrieks and alarmist cacklings that warn us each morning, for instance, when we open a newspaper or turn on a car radio or arouse from electronic slumber the babbling boob-toob, that some variety of liberal predatory judicial horror is soaring high overhead waiting to pounce. You know what I mean. aaaaack aaaack ack teee viss judgiss! aaaack aaack ack teee viss judgiss!

Sound familiar? Sure it does. You've all been subjected to that panicky ongoing racket (and similar noises) for years and years or you wouldn't be here now reading this. aaaaack aaaack ack teee viss judgiss! aaaack aaack ack teee viss judgiss!.

And of course, as years of careful study have revealed, most of this clamour and roil is actually a deceptive ruse, a noisy distraction, a feathery cloak of sorts, for the Clucking Right-Wing Harien Cuckoo's own calculated nest robbing exploits. Which of course it carries out in the arboreous shadows, or, frequently, under the cover of an approaching apocalyptic shit-rain of fabulous designs. Or whatever. Or whenever and however and wherever it can get away with it. aaaaack aaaaack...!

So I was recently excited to discover that one particular specimen of the genus hypocrisis krinein cuculus americanus had come careening, seemingly out of nowhere, at breakneck speed, and plowed headlong into my own humble garden variety bay window. Where the stunned fever bit bugger dropped like a wet divot right there on the ground at my feet. I picked up a stick and poked at it to see if it was still alive and if it was indeed what I suspected it was. And sure nuff the hellbound avian critter rolled right over and looked up at me with its little bead-shot eyes, opened its crooked beak, and identified itself in its own familiar squawk: aaaack tee viss judgiss!, aaaaack teeee viss judgiss!

Anyone know a good taxidermist? One that's willing to skin em alive?

Driving that train, high on disdain (July 2, 2000):
WASHINGTON _ The conservative drive to remake the Supreme Court hit a few speed bumps this term.

Long dedicated to reversing "activist" rulings of the 1960s and '70s, conservatives fell short of rolling back three frequently targeted court precedents: Opposition to prayer in school, Miranda restrictions on police questioning and abortion rights.

"Taking this term as a whole, the most important thing it did was make a compelling case that we do not have a very conservative Supreme Court," said John G. Roberts Jr., an attorney who worked toward that goal in the Reagan and Bush administrations. "Take the three biggest headline cases_ Miranda, school prayer, abortion. The conservative view lost in each of them."

But Roberts and others noted that conservatives also celebrated a fair share of victories. While rejecting student-led prayer at high school football games, the court upheld some federal aid to parochial schools. It refused to overturn the long-disputed Miranda ruling but gave police officers the right to chase and detain people who attempt to flee. ~ [FROM: Conservative drive to remake Supreme Court hits some speed bumps this term, by David Jackson, The Dallas Morning News, Sunday, July 2, 2000]

"Damage control central". Fielding for the Gipper and covering all the bases (Sept 4, 1984):
Every legal problem affecting the presidency -- major scandal or trivial request -- is funneled to Fielding and his seven lawyers, a group he fondly refers to as "a great little law firm."

It is in many ways the most powerful little law firm in town. It does what law firms everywhere do for a big client: spot trouble and keep the client out of it, or, if that is not possible, pull the client out of trouble once he is in it.

The White House counsel reviews every speech Reagan gives, every bill he signs or vetoes, every announcement, every official action and every matter that might in some way have legal significance to Reagan and the office he holds.

Most of what the firm does is confidential. But in the past 3 1/2 years, Fielding or one of his lawyers has been involved in looking into, resolving, explaining, burying or dealing with problems and issues such as the selection of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the Environmental Protection Agency furor, the questioning about purloined Jimmy Carter documents that was dubbed "Debategate," and the propriety of top Reagan aide Michael K. Deaver's publishing a diet book.


It can be "pretty heady stuff" for someone not long out of law school, concedes 29-year-old John G. Roberts Jr., another Harvard Law Review editor and a former clerk to Justice William H. Rehnquist.


Despite their varied backgrounds, the lawyers on Fielding's staff share several characteristics, including a staunchly conservative political viewpoint and a passionate loyalty to President Reagan.


"The whole job is to iron out or spot problems," [Sherrie] Cooksey said in a recent interview, "to give legal advice to protect the president and the office of the presidency."


Wendell Willkie II, grandson of the Republican presidential nominee in 1940,... [...]

If people in the administration do not know what to do with something or have a seemingly insoluble problem, the first inclination is "send it to Fielding" and let the lawyers figure out a solution, Willkie noted. "This is damage control central." ~ [FROM: 'Great Little Law Firm' Is Troubleshooter For the President, The Washington Post, September 4, 1984, by Al Kamen]

Damage control alert: watch for more Clucking Right-Wing Harien Cuckoos to come seemingly out of nowhere, at breakneck speed, and careen headlong into our national picture window...

Aaaaaaack tee viss judgiss! Aaaaaack tee viss judgiss!


Sid's Handy Hints 

Due to various obligations and an impending trip out of town, I have been and will be pretty much MIA here till next week, but Lambert has been doing such a fine job covering the Roberts and Rove issues that I don't feel too bad.

And this is a bad time to not be able to write, because so many noteworthy things are happening, it's almost impossible for one person to keep up. With that in mind, Sidney Schanberg over at The Village Voice has a few pointers for those of us whose circuits are threatening to blow from the information overload, and need some tips on selective sourcing:
"For a person who has limited time to keep up with events, skip television news—except perhaps when a major event occurs somewhere in the world and television allows you to watch it live. One exception to the rule is BBC News; it's serious and thorough. And its tone is a refreshing antidote to American TV's breathless and hyped presentation of the news...

it's important to regularly read a major paper like The New York Times or the Los Angeles Times or The Washington Post or The Wall Street Journal. These are papers that give you a broad spread of information every day...

(Regarding the Internet) the best method for understanding—and accepting—the confusion and absurdities of the world is to visit multiple sources of news, say, a newspaper or two, plus a site or two on the Internet you're comfortable with. By comfortable, I don't mean a site that carries material you agree with.

More often than is healthy, the press becomes a herd, focusing on one story and one story only until the public is begging for respite. That's been happening with the Karl Rove story...This is called now-you-see-it-now-you-don't journalism.

Finally, since honest journalists and the companies they work for make mistakes fairly regularly, like other professions and the rest of humanity, one thing the consumer should look for is whether a news company is good at acknowledging mistakes in a timely and clear and prominent manner. That's a news organization you want to include in your daily diet."
Last night as I watched The News Hour on PBS, I noticed how Ray Suarez handled the upcoming CAFTA vote and the issues involved: in typical TV journo fashion, he had two representatives sit across from each other to give their opinions and spin facts. Rather than interview each one in turn and ask educated, penetrating questions that would have made the parties defend and explain their statements, to get to the truth, Ray just went back and forth like a high school debate team referee, monitoring the time so they could avoid running over.

This is what passes for journalism on TV. Debate teams monitored by high school study period teachers. And why it's more important than ever to be able to pinpoint where and how to get real information in the least time possible.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

SCOTUS Watch: Stealthy John Roberts—"Made Man" 

Looks like The Man in the Grey Turtleneck got it right from the start: Stealthy John Roberts is a Made Man.

Of course, the standard hagiography is that Roberts is not only a brilliant writer of briefs, a lawyer's lawyer, but a human being whose modesty, nay, whose humility... Oh God. My B.S.S. is spiking again. Anyhow, you know the line by now; say it once, why say it again?

Fortunately for the reality-based community, farmer did a LexisNexis search—don't Pravda on the Potomac and Izvestia on the Hudson have Lexis? Or are they so anxious bang out at five to go have dinner with each other and the rest of the Beltway 500 that they don't have time to check their own archives?—and he came up with a lot of interesting information. We'll share all of it, but tonight I have to put out the candle in my tiny room under the stairs at The Mighty Corrente Building, so I'll just share this one tidbit:

It turns out—and, hard to believe though it may be, the hagiography almost seems designed to conceal this—that Stealthy John has been a stone Republican operative all along:

Copyright 1989 The Washington Post
The Washington Post
September 22, 1989, Friday, Final Edition
HEADLINE: Starr's 'Political' Deputy
BYLINE: Maralee Schwartz, Al Kamen
Solicitor General Kenneth W. Starr is expected to name Washington attorney John G. Roberts Jr. to be the "political" deputy in the solicitor's office, the government's advocate before the Supreme Court.

Roberts, 34, a former clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, met Starr when both worked as aides to Attorney General William French Smith in the early Reagan years.

The job, counselor to the solicitor general as well as deputy solicitor general, was created in 1982 after strong conservative criticism that the traditionally independent office was not forceful enough in pushing the administration's social agenda at the high court. Of the five deputies in the office, the political deputy is the only non-career appointee.

Well, well, well. Stealthy John, the "political deputy." And here I thought he was the Son that Mother Theresa could never have had...

So—leaving the [shudder] "social agenda" aside for a moment—what I would like to know is what advice Stealthy John the "political deputy" gave when Bush the First decided to give Caspar Weinberger a Christmas present in the form of the pardon that enabled Weinberger to avoid trial in the Iran-Contra affair—a trial at which Bush the First would have been called as a witness. (back) After all, we know how Bush the Second feels about his Dad.

We'll just have to ask Stealthy John, won't we? And since his memory is so bad, we'll need documents to help him out... And whaddaya know? It's the documents from Stealthy John's tenure as Ken Starr's "political deputy" that Bush isn't willing to release.

I wonder why?

NOTE Of course "political deputy" Roberts will vote against Roe. He, and the theocrats who deputized him, have been working for twenty years to do exactly that. You think they're going to let a doctrine like stare decisis stand in their way?

SCOTUS Watch: Roberts in Florida 2000—Stealthy. Very, very stealthy 

We all know how faulty Robert's memory is—he couldn't remember if he was, or had ever been, a member of the Federalist Society—and that's why we need more documents. To help him out. And one question we've been wanting to ask Roberts is this one: What "private advice" did Roberts give Jebbie during Florida 2000? Since, after all, Roberts was "in the shadows" there for 37 days (back)

Well, apparently Robert's handlers have decided they won't be able to duck the question of why Roberts was in Florida, so they've decided on a modified, limited hangout:

ohn Roberts played a broader behind-the-scenes role for the Republican camp in the aftermath of the 2000 election than previously reported ...

My goodness! Who would have thought? I mean, besides those nasty liberal bloggers.

-- as legal consultant, lawsuit editor and prep coach for arguments before the nation's highest court, according to the man who drafted him for the job.

Ted Cruz, a domestic policy advisor for President Bush and who is now Texas' solicitor general, said Roberts was one of the first names he thought...

Until now, Gov. Jeb Bush and others involved in the election dispute could recall almost nothing of Roberts' role ....

How odd! So now, the issue isn't what they're telling us—it's what they're holding back. Because you know they would give us nothing unless they hoped to conceal worse. (For our younger readers, the "modified, limited hangout is from Nixon's old Watergate playbook, which, believe it or not, is still in use today!)

.... except for a half-hour meeting the governor had with Roberts. Cruz said Roberts was in Tallahassee helping the Bush camp for ''a week to 10 days,'' and that his help was important, though Cruz said it is difficult to remember specifics five years after the sleep-depriving frenetic pace of the 2000 recount.

Note the pre-emptive alibi....

[L]ike Cruz, [Roberts] was a member of a tight-knit circle of former clerks for the court's chief justice, William Rehnquist -- a group jokingly referred to as ``the cabal.''

Jokingly? So why am I not laughing?

Soon after getting the call from Cruz, Roberts traveled from his Washington office at Hogan & Hartson to Tallahassee to lend advice and help polish legal briefs. Later, Roberts participated in a dress rehearsal to prepare the Bush legal team for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Actually, the first stories had Roberts giving "private advice" (back) to Jebbie.

So it looks like we've got a multi-layer modified, limited hangout. Layer #1 would be the "private advice" line (note how this sets up a claim of attorney-client privilege). Then modified limited hangout layer #2 would be this "dress rehearsal" thing. I mean, a dress rehearsal isn't exactly private, right? So it will be interesting to find out what layer #3 is. (There seem to be a lot of unforced errors in handling this Roberts thing. First, the Federalist Society thing, now this. Is everyone on the Bush A team dealing with their pending indictments, or what?)

''It was a conference room full of people and John was there. I had known him for 20 years by that point, and I highly respected his opinions,'' Olson said.

This is "private advice"?

And now comes the essential point:

The Republicans assigned lawyers to one of five teams: the U.S. Supreme Court, the Florida Supreme Court, local county litigation, trial attorneys and military affairs. Though apparently on the federal team, Roberts' name appears on no legal briefs, a fact that Cruz attributes to Roberts' modesty.

''He already had a name. He didn't need the recognition,'' Cruz said.
(Miami Herald via Josh Marshall)

Well, well. I'm certainly with Cruz on this one. After all, lawyers are known for their modesty...

But—bear with me here—doesn't the bare possibility exist that Roberts viewed his... Let's not call it "modesty"... Or "anonymity"... How about stealthiness... Yes, that Roberts viewed his stealthiness as a prime professional asset that he wished to preserve? After all, there are some guys who prefer to work the back rooms—especially when having no paper trail has already been one successful strategy (Souter) for getting a seat on the Supreme Court.

NOTE I still want to know what the "private advice" was.

NOTE It would also be interesting to know if Roberts, as a fully paid up member of "the cabal," had any private contacts with Rehnquist (or Scalia) before Bush v. Gore was heard, and whether the results of any of those contacts were fed back into the "rehearsals" he was holding.

NOTE And I also want to know if Roberts thinks Bush v. Gore was rightly decided. If they want to fight Florida 2000 all over again (perhaps as misdirection to avoid fighting Ohio 2004 again?) I say, Bring it on.

Great headlines of our time 

NASA: No Flights Until Foam Issue Fixed.

Now, if only we could get our winger friends.... Aw, forget it.

Going to Hell in a Uranium Basket 

Please excuse my absence from the Mighty Corrente Building. There are two places I despise, hospitals and jails, and because of failing to follow simple rules I learned 35 years ago I had the grand opportunity to spend a little time in both fine institutions. I’ll spare you the gory details, but I am now back among the living and I hereby publicly thank my neighbors (you know who you are) for not letting the place go to hell while I was gone.

Of course things keep going to hell, anyway…

If you live in New Mexico, or not, for that matter, act NOW—some goddam NREC judge has just okayed uranium mining in places called Crownpoint and Church Rock. These are Navajo communities, and the Navajo Nation president outlawed uranium mining on the rez earlier this year. But the devious bastards at Hydro Resources, Inc. are going to set up on “checkerboard” places that aren’t technically on the rez and mine uranium using (scarce) water. There’s plenty of local outrage, but what needs to happen is the NM Dept. of Environment and Governor Richardson need to outlaw uranium mining statewide. Otherwise there will be hundreds if not thousands of new uranium victims, mostly Native, mostly poor. For more info, contact the NM Environmental Law Center (I can't get a link to their website for some reason) and join the cause!

Mal-Wart: Always Low Tolerance (for Truth) 

Note they don't try to deny the truth of the story. They just punish anyone with the temerity to SPEAK the truth. Of course the usual tactic of a business--particularly a retailer--offended by a pipsqueek newspaper reporter is to pull their advertising. This is hard for the Buzzards of Bentonville to do since they do next to no advertising in local papers. Just one of the many things they fail to contribute to the local economy:

(via Alabama news roundup)

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — Wal-Mart is lifting a local manager's ban on selling the Pensacola News Journal at area stores.

A company spokeswoman says the ban was imposed in response to a column he considered derogatory to the retailer.

Columnist Mark O'Brien wrote the article in June 19th editions.

In the article O'Brien, cited a New York Times report that Georgia's health care program included more than ten-thousand children of Wal-Mart workers. This was costing taxpayers nearly ten (m) million dollars a year.

Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated spokeswoman Sharon Weber says that the company should not have removed the newspapers from the store. She says they should be available by the end of the week.
Sure wish Costco would hurry up and get to west Tennessee...

UPDATE: An excellent diary over at dKos about this matter has some details the AP piece did not, like that the Wal-Mart management's original demand was that the Pensacola paper fire the writer of the column before they would let the paper be sold at their stores again! Such lovely people they are...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Our courageous press, guardians of our liberties 

Now twelve papers (including the Providence Journal) have their knickers in a twist about "offensive content":

Gary Trudeau has a Doonesbury cartoon where President * calls Karl Rove "turd blossom." So they're not running the strip.

But Bush does call Rove "turd blossom" (part of his bullying habit of giving people nicknames)

So where does the offense really lie?

NOTE Yeah, so maybe I'm not being sensitive enough to parents who don't want to answer questions like "Mommy, what does 'turd blossom' mean?" But couldn't we just view that as a teachable moment?

SCOTUS Watch: Now that we know what Bush doesn't want us to see, let's go get it 

Here's what Bush wants to hide:

Roberts's work in the solicitor general's office from 1989 to 1993, under the first President George Bush. Democrats say they need the documents because they could shed light on the nominee's thinking about issues that may come before the Supreme Court.
(via Times)

Hmmm... What could have been happening then? Well, here's one thing:

Independent Counsel's investigation did not develop evidence that proved that Vice President Bush violated any criminal statute. Contrary to his public pronouncements, however, he was fully aware of the Iran arms sales. Bush was regularly briefed, along with the President, on the Iran arms sales, and he participated in discussions to obtain third-country support for the contras. The O.I.C. obtained no evidence that Bush was aware of the diversion. The O.I.C. learned in December 1992 that Bush had failed to produce a diary containing contemporaneous notes relevant to Iran/contra, despite requests made in 1987 and again in early 1992 for the production of such material. Bush refused to be interviewed for a final time in light of evidence developed in the latter stages of the O.I.C.'s investigation, leaving unresolved a clear picture of his Iran/contra involvement. Bush's pardon of Weinberger on December 24, 1992, preempted a trial in which defense counsel indicated that they intended to call Bush as a witness.

Like father, like son, huh? Why is it that whenever the Republicans take power, they start setting up a secret government and shredding the Constitution? Nixon/Plumbers/Watergate, Reagan/Ollie et al./Iran-Contra, Bush/ name it... /name it... So the broader theme of questions to develop for Roberts would be Republican abuse of power, wouldn't it?

One wonders if Bush the First took legal advice from the Solicitor General before he pardoned a potential witness against him.

And one wonders if John Roberts left a paper trail when Bush did so.

Well, there's only one way to find out!

NOTE That Times summary of Lawrence Walhs's Iran-Contra report has a lot of good detail on Repubublican mendacity and criminality back when it was morning again in America. The scum also rises, and the only change is that they've gotten a lot better at it. Walsh makes Kenn Starr look like the weakling he was. I mean, Starr spent $70 million investigating a blow-job and dumping a truck load of soft porn on Capitol Hill 'cause that whole land deal thing turned to shit. (Haw! If Clinton cared about money, he would have been rich!) Walsh, by constrast concluded: "The investigations and prosecutions have shown that high-ranking Administration officials violated laws and executive orders in the Iran/contra matter." And Walsh was right. Which is why Bush pardoned the criminals.

SCOTUS Watch: So, if AP is telepathic, why can't we get better news coverage? 

Here's a little snippet from the documents that the White House deemed fit for consumption by non-insiders:

Roberts showed a hint of irreverence in passing along documents from Alabama on the state's prayer law, signing off on a July 29, 1982, note with "Amen."
(via AP)

Um, absent telepathy (or context the story doesn't give us) how do we know Roberts was being "irreverent"? When I say "Amen," I'm agreeing with what's been said.

Just asking...

Frogmarch watch: Gee, I didn't know Rove had a beard 

But two beards? That's a little excessive. (via Kos)

No, but seriously, folks. We still don't know who gave "Jeff '8-inch, cut' Gannon" his White House day pass, day after day after day. Or to which White House orifice office he was, um, escorted.

And we still don't know which, um, handler passed "Gannon" the "internal government memo" purporting to show that Valerie Plame suggested that Joseph Wilson be sent to Niger to investigate Saddam's (non-existent) yellowcake uranium.

If it wasn't Rove, who could it have been?

SCOTUS Watch: Republicans demand Roberts timetable 

You know what I think? If you give a timetable, you're conceding too much to the enemy.

Give them nothing. Make them work for it all.

And besides, how can we set a timetable when we don't know the scope of the work? The Republicans have yet to release all of Robert's papers....

Bastard Nation Arise 

We don't use cable TV. so I rely on my DSL to enjoy what little Daily Show I can get. And this evening I watched Stewart's interview with Rick Santorum. MY Congressman. Lucky fucking me. Stewart was kind and generous and delicate with him, and asked him the kinds of courteous, complex questions we could never hope to hear on the dogfight shows of cable news and Sunday mornings. He was a gentleman the likes of which Santorum, with all his faux decorum and Boy Scout demeanor, will never really be. And what burned itself into my memory wasn't Santorum's blather about homosexuality, or single mothers, or the state of the culture. It was this:

When asked about his ideal family, he said, "A man and a woman, raising their OWN child." Their own child. Not someone else's. Their own.

So all you adoptees out there, who, like me, were raised by non-biological parents, you can now join the ranks of the kids raised by gays, or in single parent homes, or in foster homes or orphanages, as kids who fucked up Rick's American Dream.

main Am I being too sensitive, or deliberately twisting his words? No. This is what he said, and he meant it. The ideal home raises it's own kids, not someone else's. What we are supposed to do with all the children waiting for homes, I'm not sure, but it's clear that whatever is done, it will only be a paltry shadow, a pale imitation, of that magnificent thoroughbred nuclear remnant of the 50's that Rick so adores.

And what's even clearer, given his record, and that of the Jehovahmite right-wing, is that the embryos have it all over the kids on the waiting lists. After all, this is the guy who voted with the rest of the faux-life Republican senators to allow the EPA to continue testing insecticides on poor kids.

Just ask Jeb Bush. He doesn't give a shit about the kids in the system, either.

DLC smears Kos 

Via Kos.

Oops. I don't mean "smear." I mean "misattribute" a quotation to Kos that isn't from him.

God. The DLC can't even get a good, Republican-style smear going. What good are they, anyhow?

SCOTUS Watch: Of course, nobody wants to question Roberts about his personal faith 

Although it would be nice to know what would happen if Roberts bishop, or the Pope, told Roberts they would deny him communion if he voted to keep Roe "settled law"... Oh wait, the Bishops or the Pope don't have to do that; they've already done it, by denying elected representatives communion on the same grounds.

But here's a question we could ask Roberts. Remember this little story, from "election" 2004:

The Republican National Committee has asked Bush-backing Roman Catholics to provide copies of their parish directories to help register Catholics to vote in the November election, a use of personal information not necessarily condoned by dioceses around the country.

In a story posted Thursday on its Web site, the National Catholic Reporter said a GOP official had urged people who attended a Catholic outreach event in January to provide parish directories and membership lists to the political party.

"Access to these directories is critical as it allows us to identify and contact those Catholics who are likely to be supportive of President Bush's compassionate conservative agenda,'' wrote Martin J. Gillespie, director of Catholic Outreach at the RNC. ``Please forward any directories you are able to collect to my attention.''
(via the archives, deep beneath the bedrock of One Corrente Square)

So, did the Republican National Committee ask Roberts's parish for its directory? If so, did Roberts know about it? And if he did know, what did he do? And what does he think of the practice?

Of course, maybe Roberts has "no recollection." Or didn't serve on that committee...

Just asking...

Monday, July 25, 2005

So, because Bush uses those stupid backdrops, does the DLC have to? 


Yep, this photo is from the DLC's Columbus ingathering.

And what is this banner saying, visually? Well, exactly what those nasty leftwing bloggers are saying: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The DINOs are Republican Lite. (But why would anybody vote for a fake Republican when they could vote for a real one?)

Way to craft that message, guys!

What next? "Mission Accomplished?"

(Democracy left for) Dead in Ohio 

You can reward good behavior by purchasing a Harpers from the newsstand this week. Finally, somebody covers the, um, irregularities in Ohio 2004. There is an "online forum" in audio on the site, but the full article is only available in print. So I'll type in some extracts from Mark Crispin Miller's article, "None Dare Call It Stolen." Warning: This is going to be long; and I've left out the corroborating detail in favor of getting to the bottom line:

On Election Day, twenty-six state exit polls incorrectly predicted wins for Kerry, a statistical failure so colossal and unprecedented that the odds against it happening, according to a report last May by the National Election Data Archive Project, were 16.5 million to 1.

The press had little to say about the strange details of the election—except, that is, to ridicule all efforts to discuss them. This animus appeared soon after November 2, in a spate of articles dismissing any critical discussion of the outcome as crazed speculation.

On January 5, Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, released Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio. The report was the result of a five-week investigation by the Committee's Democrats, who reviewed thousands of complaints of fraud, malfeasance, or incompetence surrounding the election in Ohio.... Although they were invited to join, Republicans chose not to join in the inquiry.

Although Conyers trod carefully when the report came out, insisting that the crimes did not affect the outcome of the race (a point he had to make, as he told me, "just to get a hearing") his report does raise "grave doubts regarding whether it can be said that the Ohio electors selected on December 13, 2004 were chosen in a manner that conforms to Ohio law, let alone Federal requirements and Constitutional standards." The report cites "massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies" throughout the state—wrongs, moreover, that were hardly random accidents. "In many cases," the report says, "these irregularities were caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio."

The first phase of malfeasance entailed, among many other actions, several months of bureaucratic hijinks aimed at disenfranchising Democrats, the most spectacular result of which was a "wide discrepancy between the availability of voting machines in more minority, Democratic, and urban areas as compared to more Republicanm suburban, and exurban areas.

The second phase of lawlessness began the Monday before the election, when Blackwell issued two directives restricting media coverage of the election. ... Both cases were immediately struck down on First Amendment Grounds. Contrary to a prior understanding, Blackwell also kept foreign monitors away from the Ohio polls. "We thought we could be at the polling places before, during, and after" the voting, said Soren Sondergaard, a Danish member of the team. Denied admission to the polls in Columbus, he and his partner went to Blackwell, who denied them letters of approval, again citing the Ohio law banning "loitering" outside the polls.

To what end would election officials risk so malodorous an action? We can only guess, of course. We do know, however, that Ohio, like the nation, was the site of numerous statistical anomalies—so many that the number is itself statistically anomalous, since every single one of them took votes from Kerry.

The electoral fraud continued past Election Day, but by means far more complex and less apparent than the bullying that marked the day itself. Here the aim was to protect the spoils, which required the prevention of countywide hand recounts by any mans necessary.

Some 1,300 Green Party and Libertarian volunteers monitored the count throughout Ohio. [Numerous examples of malfeasance in county after county omitted.] Finally, Democratic and/or Green observers were denied access to absentee, and/or provisional ballots, or were not allowed to monitor the process, in Summit, Huron, Putnam, Allen, Holmes, Mahoning, Licking, Stark, Medina, Warren, and Morgan counties. In short, the Ohio vote was never properly recounted, as required by law.

This Democracy can survive a plot to hijack an election. What it cannot survive is our indifference to, or unawareness of, the evidence that such a plot has succeeded.
(via Harper's Magazine, August 2005, p. 39 et seq.)

My bottom line: Bush's "election" in 2004 was just as valid as his "election" in 2000. That is, not at all.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

I'd like to be able to say "never again." But readers, how?

NOTE Given that the DLC held its latest meeting in Ohio, yet had nothing to say of this, I hold out little hope for them.

Some dare call it treason 

Air America, for example (scroll down). See Scott duck! Duck, duck duck! Via Atrios.

I guess installing the barbecue pit in the Mighty Corrente Building is really paying off 

First, Tom makes Froomkin. Now this post makes the CJR. And awhile back, this post made DU (which is down to our alert readers, who pointed us to Colonel Gardiner's resarch (here (back) and here):

If it weren't for the smoke from the pit, you'd see me blushing.

More red meat, anyone?

SCOTUS Watch: The Washington Generals show us how the game should not be played 

Reid has it exactly right. Call Roberts "credentialled" and leave it at that. Give the Republicans nothing.

Schumer has it exactly right. Lots and lots of questions:

Sen. Charles E. Schumer met Thursday with Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. and gave him 87 questions that Schumer said he might ask at upcoming confirmation hearings.

Ranging from general inquiries about judicial philosophy to Roberts' opinion on controversial cases such as the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on abortion, the questions are designed to show what kind of justice Roberts will be, Schumer said.

Schumer, a New Yorker and the top Democrat on the Judiciary subcommittee that oversees judicial nominations, termed the 55-minute meeting with Roberts as cordial. But Schumer said it did nothing to persuade him to oppose or support Roberts' nomination.

"I told him my mind was totally open," he said. "I'd like to be able to support him."

Schumer who has led the effort to kill Republican judicial nominations that Democrats consider extreme opposed Roberts' 2003 appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit because Roberts had refused to spell out his judicial views during his confirmation hearing.

Roberts should answer such questions this time, Schumer said.

"You want to learn how someone thinks," Schumer said. Given Roberts' short tenure as a judge, "we have very little to go on."
(via Buffalo News)

And Leahy has it exactly right. The Republicans are—surprise—planning to conceal what little paper trail Roberts has under the cloak of attorney-client privilege—where the client is not you, the citizen and taxpayer, but the President.

"It's a total red herring to say, 'Oh, we can't show this,'" [Leahy] said on ABC's This Week.

He said that Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, former federal appeals court judge Robert H. Bork, former Attorney General Edwin W. Meese III and others had given up documents written while they worked for the Justice Department.

"Those working in the solicitor general's office are not working for the president," Leahy said. "They're working for you and me, and all the American people."
(Baltimore Sun

And given that Roberts's memory is so poor—first he has "no recollection" that he was a member of the Federalist Society; next he'll have no recollection that he asked WaPo to print a correction saying he wasn't, when he it turns out he was—we really can't blame Schumer for trying to help him out. Written answers to questions do concentrate the mind wonderfully, don't they?

So, all in all, Reid, Schumer, Leahy are doing just fine. "Credentialled," "keep an open mind," "sure would like to vote for the guy," "lots of questions."

Pretty simple, if you keep your mind on the play, right?

Enter the Washington Generals!

Whiney Joe! It's like watching a trainwreck:

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, one of 14 senators who helped avoid a confrontation over judges earlier this year, said their message to Bush essentially was, "Don't send us an extremist that's going to blow the place up, and first look [Good so far!] is that that's exactly [Not so good, undermines "first look"] what he has not done."

"In other words, he's sent us somebody that's got impressive [Worse and worse, further undermines "first look"] academic and legal credentials [a little discipline, back on message] and seems to have a record [Warning! Warning! Roberts has no record!] of personal honor [TRAIN WRECK]," Lieberman said on the Don Imus radio show, suggesting a smooth confirmation for the 50-year-old federal appeals court judge.
(via )

"Personal honor," forsooth? Nobody who's drunk the Kool-Aid, as Roberts has, can have personal honor (back). That's what the Kool-Aid drinkers lose!

Diane Feinstein! Another train wreck!

"He clearly is, I think, a very unusual person, because you do get the direct feeling of humility and modesty [Is this gratuitous, or what?], and yet he apparently is very precise in his writing [if not his memory], his judging, his ability to put cases together when he was an attorney," said Feinstein, D-Calif., the only woman on the 18-member Senate Judiciary Committee that will hold hearings on the nomination.

"I don't think there's anybody on the court quite like he will be in that sense, because my sense [TRAIN WRECK] is that he really grapples with the law [Oh, Diane... Shouldn't that be the minimum criterion?] and the interpretation of the law rather than any extraneous points of bias [Unlike, well, who exactly?]," she said after the hour-long meeting in her office.

But Feinstein, who voted for Roberts for his appeals court seat two years ago, said she would have trouble supporting his elevation to the Supreme Court if she determines he would vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. [And because Feinstein led with all that bootlicking foofraw about Robert's humility, her bottom line is totally lost.]

"It would be very difficult for me" to support Roberts if he opposes Roe, Feinstein said. She said that to some extent she believed she had determined where Roberts stood on Roe but added she would save details for his confirmation hearings.
(via San Francisco Chronicle)

C'mon, Diane. Work with me here. Wouldn't it have been simpler, better, easier to just say something like this?

"Even after spending an hour alone with Judge Roberts I couldn't figure out where he stood on Roe, despite his credentials. So, [taking a leaf from Schumer's book], while I'd like to be able to support Judge Roberts, I'm sure that, along with my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, I'll have many questions at the hearings in October."

But No-o-o-o-o-o:

Asked Monday about Democratic opposition to Roberts, Feinstein said: "There is not a lot of controversy surrounding him. There just isn't."

Sayeth the Washington General: "There aren't a lot of points to be scored. There just aren't." God.

Both Feinstein and Lieberman set themselves—and their fellow Democrats—up to lose. How can they vote against a candidate of such "personal honor"? Such "humility"?

Stick with "credentialled," "keep an open mind," "sure would like to vote for the guy," "lots of questions."

Give the Republicans nothing. That's for losers.

NOTE Of course, the thuggish White House tactics have already begun. Great headline: "White House Warns Dems on Roberts Papers". See where being nice gets you, Diane? Joe?

Isn't it pretty to think so.... 


I just spluttered my coffee all over keyboard. Give me a minute.

OK. All cleaned up. Except for a few stains.

Like Al From.

The usually reliable Ron Brownstein writes:

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Democratic Leadership Council, an organization of influential party moderates....

Um, "influential" where, exactly? Exactly influential in the Beltway 500, that's where.

... named Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton today to direct a new initiative to define a party agenda for the 2006 and 2008 elections.

First, Newt, now this. Hillary's smart, no question, and it's always good to write the agenda, but lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. I mean, Newt? The only woman in America who named "the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy"—and you know whichever winger replicant's body they switch Rove into before he does the perp walk is going to run that footage 24/7 come 2008—now wants to make nice with the conspirators, and party with Al From like it's 1994. But you know what? After 11/7 (2000), "everything changed." Anyhow, good luck to her.

Indeed, Al From, the DLC founder, said in an interview that the plan was not intended to "be a lowest common denominator agenda" assembled by compromising among all elements of the party.

No, indeed. It will be an agenda designed so that loser Beltway consultants can yet again sink their mandibles into the decaying carcass of what used to be the party of the New Deal.
All this suggests that strains could develop between Clinton's desire to write a plan popular with as wide an array of Democrats as possible and the DLC's hope of crafting a sharply focused centrist road map — even if that means continued conflict with liberals that Clinton may be reluctant to antagonize.
(via AP)

Oh, wait. No, I got it wrong. From's plan won't designed so that loser Beltway consultants can yet again sink their mandibles into the decaying carcass of what used to be the party of the New Deal.

It will be a "sharply focused centrist road map."

Alright, then.


NOTE Anyone notice the dateline on the story? Columbus, Ohio? Ground zero for the Republican theft of election 2004, and these guys have nothing to say about that. Including Hillary, I might add. Total silence. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Zilch. I guess that might get in the way of the "sharply focused centrist road map."

Hillary on Roberts 

Well, Sludge, Time's Blogof the Year, and C [cough] BN all came out with the story that Hillary was going to vote for Roberts.

Gosh, how could these paragons of journalistic integrity and blogger ethics—these independent voices—all be wrong? All at the same time?

Please give this matter your prayerful consideration....

NOTE I love the phrase, "the Drudge Report is reporting." It's so... post-factual.

Krugman on Canadian Health Care 

Out of respect for Tinfoil Hat Boy, who gently chided me for a "nyah, nyah" post about my life outside the cuckoo's nest, I will let Krugman's observations about Toyota's choice of Canada over Red State America for its new auto plant to pass without gloating.

Instead, I will note first that Krugman paints a too-rosy view of the state of universal health care up here. As a neighbor, who'd moved back to Canada from San Francisco in the 80s to get emergency medical care, put it wistfully the other day, "Of course, that was back when we had a world-class health-care system...." While from a business' point of view it's largely irrelevant what the quality of care is, as long as it does not have to bear the costs, the level of dissatisfaction in Canada is demonstrably up. The greatest sign of that discontent underlay a recent landmark ruling by the Supreme Court, that found that a Quebec law barring parallel private health insurance to be a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights, insofar as it forced citizens to wait inordinate lengths of time for surgery. In the case at hand (or perhaps, hip), the plaintiff had been forced to wait over a year to get hip replacement surgery, during which time he had become addicted to painkillers.

No one would argue that being forced to wait a year for hip surgery is acceptable, and the usual claque of privatization enthusiasts promptly hailed the Court's decision as the beginning of the end for Canada's health care monopoly. But the way the decision was written makes that far from clear. For one thing, the decision appeared to be grounded, not on right of contract or free association, but the government's failure to fulfill its promises to the citizenry, a failure that the government seems to have acknowledged and promised to fix. For another, there is no discernible groundswell to move towards a mixed system (there is private health care available but from what I can tell, it's largely restricted to the peripery of available services).

In fact, the phrase "two-tiered health system" seems to have a lycanthropic effect on Canadian voters similar to what "tax increase" has on Americans. Here in our little Brigadoon-by-Lake-Kootenay, there have been serious cuts in health care services over the last few years at the hands of the Liberals and Premier Gordon Campbell. The response: in the May Provincial elections, the locals sacked the hapless Liberal MLA and replaced him, not with a privatization Conservative, but the NDP challenger. Informal polls I've seen show dogged commitment to maintaining the ideal of universal health care, even if it means raising premiums. (Yes, Virginia, Canadian health care is not "free", but the current maximum premium for a family is $C128/month. For the less well-off and for smaller families, the premium drops to around $20.) Still, it's something of a conundrum to me how the current health care system can be hurting when the government is running a budget surplus, the loonie is at a ten-year high, and GDP is growing at a healthy clip. (Royal Bank of Canada recently projected GDP growth to exceed that of the US in 2006.) Health care's heyday, by contrast, was an era of the 60 cent loonie and Bush-level fiscal deficits. Part of it is undoubtedly the same demographic shift that underlies our Social Security debate, but that can't be all of it. Despite being an American, I don't have a knee-jerk answer. I'm sure one of our savvy Canadian readers can educate us?

I was going to also expatiate a bit on Krugman's passing observation about the relative economic performance of Canada, but that's going to have to wait for another post.

Story=Bad? Story ABOUT Bad Story=A-OK! 

This story about a story about a story is itself a bit old (it ran on Saturday I think) and the ruling itself is about a little incident so far back that it seems downright Jurassic. Before getting any more meta-storical here, let's look at the item:

(via Atlanta J-C) (registration, sorry):
BALTIMORE — Sinclair Broadcasting did not violate federal election law by running portions of a documentary critical of John Kerry's Vietnam-era anti-war activities, the Federal Elections Commission announced Friday.

Sinclair... was criticized for what the Democratic National Committee said was a plan to order its stations to show the documentary, "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 2 presidential election.

The DNC filed the FEC complaint on Oct. 12,
contending that showing the film would be an illegal in-kind contribution to President Bush's campaign. Kerry's campaign asked that each station carrying the program give a similar amount of time to Kerry supporters.

After shareholders complained such a broadcast could hurt their investment in the company,
A bit of selective memory here, eh? The way I remember events, we here in the blogosphere raised unholy hell about this, and it was only then that "stockholders complained" blah blah blah. Anyway....
Sinclair announced that only segments of the documentary would be shown during a program examining the use of such documentaries to influence elections. The program aired Oct. 22 on 40 Sinclair stations.
Sigh. See headline above.

Now we get to what seems to me to be an oddly buried item--the FEC's rationale for the above decision:

The FEC said the commission's media exemption applied in the case.

Commissioner Ellen Weintraub wrote in a statement about her decision on the case that it was "important to emphasize that the press exemption shields press entities from investigations into alleged coordination."

"This agency cannot and should not attempt to arbitrate claims of media bias or breaches of journalistic ethics," Weintraub said.
In fact the longer I look at it the odder Weintraub's first comment is. There is a "press exemption" which allows "press entities" to "coordinate" with...uh, who exactly? Might one presuppose, given that one of the accusations was that Sinclair was, if not "coordinating," at least "giving a big fat sloppy blowjob" to George W. Bush and the RNC in general by demonizing his opponent, they mean "coordinating with one candidate in an election without any trace of balance or fairness"?

Sure sounds like it to me. I must need another seminar on blogger ethics.

Mesopotamiam Max 

Meanwhile, In Iraq, there's this one guy who really gets around:
"he U.S. military on Sunday said it was looking into how virtually identical quotations ended up in two of its news releases about different insurgent attacks.
Following a car bombing in Baghdad on Sunday, the U.S. military issued a statement with a quotation attributed to an unidentified Iraqi that was virtually identical to a quote reacting to an attack on July 13."
Oh. Well, then. Here are the statements themselves as the Army originally released them:
1.) "The terrorists are attacking the infrastructure, the ISF and all of Iraq. They are enemies of humanity without religion or any sort of ethics. They have attacked my community today and I will now take the fight to the terrorists."
2.) "The terrorists are attacking the infrastructure, the children and all of Iraq,' said one Iraqi man who preferred not to be identified. 'They are enemies of humanity without religion or any sort of ethics. They have attacked my community today and I will now take the fight to the terrorists."
There you go with those unattributable sources again. But with these guys, propaganda is nothing new.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

SCOTUS Watch: Our forgetful nominee 

Remember the question we asked (back): Is Roberts, or has Roberts ever been, a member of the Federalist Society?

And remember John Roberts's eminently parseable denial that he had "no recollection" of belonging to The Federalist Society, the uber-winger front organization whose "elves" worked with Linda Tripp, White Feather's Mom, and Ken Starr to overthrow Clinton, and to which F/Buckhead, he of superscript fame (back, belongs?

Of course you do.

Well, a look at the 1997-1998 Directory for the Federalist Society would have refreshed Robert's memory:

Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. has said that he has no memory of belonging to the Federalist Society, but his name appears in the influential, conservative legal organization's 1997-1998 leadership directory.

So, the hagiography was good only to wrap the rotten mackerel of the Bush administration. What a surprise!

Having served only two years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after a long career as a government and private-sector lawyer, Roberts has not amassed much of a public paper record that would show his judicial philosophy. Working with the Federalist Society provides some clue of his sympathies. The organization keeps its membership rolls secret [I wonder why?] , but many key policymakers in the Bush administration are acknowledged current or former members.

In conservative circles, membership in or association with the society has become a badge of ideological and political reliability. Roberts's membership was routinely reported by news organizations in the context of his work in two GOP administrations and legal assistance to the party during the contested 2000 presidential election in Florida.
(WaPo via Democratic Underground)

It gets better. Not only did Roberts, um, forget that he was in the Federalist Society's Leadership Directory, he forgot that he was on the Steering Committee:

Roberts is one of 19 steering committee members listed in the directory, which was provided to The Post by Alfred F. Ross, president of the Institute for Democracy Studies in New York, a liberal group that has published reports critical of the society.

Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard A. Leo said that either he or another official of the organization recruited Roberts for the committee. Roberts's task was to serve "as a point of contact within the firm to let people know what is going on" with the organization.

Nice position for a spot of D.C. networking, eh?

And it sure was nice of Leo to come forward and clear up the confusion in the media on this point. Oh wait, he didn't?! I wonder why not?

And now, let the parsing begin!

Membership in the sense of paying dues was not required as a condition of inclusion in a listing of the society's leadership, Leo said.

So, Roberts was a leader, just not a member. Roberts was a Steering Committee member, just not a Society member. Check.

Last Wednesday, the day after Bush announced Roberts's nomination, the officials working on the nomination asked the White House press office to call each news organization that had reported Roberts's membership in the Federalist Society to tell them that he did not recall being a member.

Excellent work by the nomination team! Especially the "did not recall" part. That way, the White House press office was technically telling the truth! [How refreshing for them.] But the "being a member" part is good too, since you can be a leader and a steering committee member, without being a member!

Asked yesterday if the White House would have done so knowing about the leadership directory, [Whitewash House flak Dana] Perino said "Yes."

I'll bet. What else could she say?


Here's a simple little statement of fact, a question that should be very easy to answer. To repeat: Is Roberts, or has Roberts ever been, a member of the Federalist Society? And, since he who is faithful in little is faithful in much, all the White House had to do was answer "Yes." But, with typical arrogance—they must have imagined that nobody would simply look up Roberts's name—they had to issue a carefully worded and eminently parseable denial.

So, Schumer is right. Lots of questions for Roberts. Lots and lots and lots. Because if the White House starts spinning on a question so simple, what else will come up if we really start digging?

For starters, let's get an answer to this one:

What "private advice" did Roberts give Jebbie during Florida 2000? After all, Roberts "operated in the shadows for 37 days" (back), so he must remember something!

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