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Jean Schmidt and Tom Noe -- made for each other

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Jean Schmidt really took everyone for suckers when she proclaimed she didn't know the notorious Tom Noe. Oops. Seems connections between Schmidt and Noe are really not all that rare after all. Atrios points us to another one via E&P. It really does seem Noe had some type of dealing with everyone in the Ohio Republican Party. And for Schmidt, I guess it's easy to think you can snow the media when you hire a consultant who masqueraded as a political reporter.

Ohio really is a GOP cesspool. Paul Hackett has to be the start of the change out there. Read the rest of this post...

Wash. Post Exposes Roberts on Bias Related Issues

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The Washington Post has a long piece on Supreme Court Nomimee John Roberts role in trying to limit bias laws during his days in the Reagan Justice Department:
In the early 1980s, a young intellectual lawyer named John G. Roberts Jr. was part of the vanguard of a conservative political revolution in civil rights, advocating new legal theories and helping enforce the Reagan administration's effort to curtail the use of courts to remedy racial and sexual discrimination.

Just 26 when he joined the Justice Department as a special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith, Roberts was almost immediately entrusted to counsel senior department officials on such incendiary matters of the day as school desegregation, voting rules and government antidotes to bias in housing and hiring.

In prolific missives of a few pages and densely-written 30-page legal memos, Roberts -- whose co-workers recall had primary responsibility for civil rights matters in his office -- consistently sought to bolster the legal reasoning for the administration's new stances and to burnish its presentation of the policies to Congress and the public.
None of this should be a surprise really. It does show this guy is a true believer. And, clearly, he has been groomed for years. It's like the GOP has a judicial pipeline. They started preparing Roberts for the Supreme Court back when he was 26. He proved his mettle, then they kept him around...waiting for the chance.

My really favorite part of the article was learning about his strong opposition to Title IX:
Roberts's writings also show that he favored another pillar of the administration's new civil rights policies in education: an effort to limit the use of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which allows the government to withhold federal aid from schools that discriminate against women. Until then, Title IX had been interpreted to mean that all of a school's funding could be cut off if it discriminated at all, but Reagan officials rewrote the rules so that only the specific program found guilty of discrimination would lose money -- an interpretation that Congress later overruled.

His second summer working for the attorney general, Roberts wrote Smith a memo on this topic, urging that the administration stand behind a lower court decision siding with the University of Richmond in a case brought by the U.S. Department of Education for alleged sex discrimination in its sports programs.

"I strongly agree with [the] recommendation not to appeal" the court's decision that the university did not have to turn over athletic records to the government because its intercollegiate sports received no federal aid, Roberts wrote. "Under Title IX, federal investigators cannot rummage willy-nilly through institutions, but can only go as far as the federal funds go."
Read the whole article. When you're finished, you can't think for a minute that Roe v. Wade stands a chance with this guy. And if Roe goes, a whole lot of privacy rights go with it. Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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What do you know? Read the rest of this post...

Busy Day in Ohio's Second District

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Swing State Project is doing a great job following the latest developments leading up to the August 2nd election.

Republicans in Ohio really just think they can say and do anything without repercussions. That was true for too long. In the first election since the major Ohio GOP scandals broke, Jean Schmidt is learning that the rules have changed. Read the rest of this post...

AP has a Q & A on the Rove Scandal

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Interesting little Q & A distributed by the Associated Press today about the Rove Scandal. Okay, they call it the "CIA leak probe," but we all know it's now about Karl.

I found it a little thin -- but then, those of us in blog world know way more about the Rove scandal than AP can fit in an article. It left out some key facts, for example, in the first question about the origins of the case, they piece discusses the Niger Uranium issue. But it forgot to mention that Bush used it in his 2003 State of the Union address as a reason for going to war...those infamous 16 words.

Having AP do this piece, on top of the latest revelations from Time magazine, should re-invigorate the media. Time told us that they've learned Rove found about Plame "from within the Administration rather than from media contacts." Apparently, Karl told the grand jury that he found out about Plame from the media. Prosecutors love to find those inconsistencies.

E&P has a write up on the Time article, too. Read the rest of this post...

Pre-trip panic open thread

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Ugh. I hate traveling. Used to love it. Then 9/11. Now going to airports, not so much fun. Though I'm flying Air France, which I adore. Even in coach, where I'll be, the service and seating is still better than anything I've ever had on an US carrier (and I will not touch United or Delta to fly international ever again).

Anyway, lots of last minute to-dos to do, driving me nuts. Still haven't written this week's RADAR piece yet - I get to do that in Paris tomorrow (see, I told you'd be working). Doing some last minute laundry at Joe's - need to shrink those CafePress shirts so I can wear them in Paris and help spread the word.

Anyway, here's for a bit more, than it's Joe's for the evening, I should hopefully be online in Paris by the time you guys wake up tomorrow morning. What a very odd small world it is. JOHN Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Is this shaping up to be another Rove, Rove, Rove week? Read the rest of this post...

Time has new Rove Info.

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Hat tip to Think Progress for pointing us to this.

Seems Karl didn't get his info. about Plame from reporters after all according to Time:
As the investigation tightens into the leak of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, sources tell TIME some White House officials may have learned she was married to former ambassador Joseph Wilson weeks before his July 6, 2003, Op-Ed piece criticizing the Administration. That prospect increases the chances that White House official Karl Rove and others learned about Plame from within the Administration rather than from media contacts. Rove has told investigators he believes he learned of her directly or indirectly from reporters, according to his lawyer.
As if the master of all politics learned something like that from a reporter. In the Bush White House, policy and politics are the same thing -- and all roads lead to and through Rove.

Now if Karl told something different to the FBI or the Grand Jury...he's in big trouble. And this also increases the likelihood that people in the White House knew Plame's undercover status when they were outing her. Read the rest of this post...

Speaking of "The Day After Tomorrow"

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Global warming is making hurricanes more intense.

Uh huh... Read the rest of this post...

GOP US House candidate in Ohio caught hiding ties to CoinGate scandalmonger Tom Noe

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Jean Schmidt, the GOP candidate for the open US House seat in Ohio, being voted on this tuesday, apparently lied about her ties to CoinGate-man Tom Noe.

Schmidt told a local news show this morning that she didn't know Tom Noe, never met him, and never even HEARD of him. Funny, because she testified before Noe only three years ago, and Schmidt apparently has almost total recall of everyone she's ever met. Guess when those multi-million dollar scandals kick in, that total recall starts to get a bit fuzzy. Maybe she'll start parsing the definition "met."

And she seemed like such a nice woman, that Jean Schmidt. Read the rest of this post...

Santorum continues to blame Boston for church sex abuse scandal

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And he also wants a constitutional amendment banning abortion. Read the rest of this post...

We're melting, we're melting....

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Even more evidence that global warming is real. If I didn't have to live on this planet, I'd think it ironic that Bush and his cronies were helping destroy the only home they have. Unfortunately, it's the only home WE HAVE too.

The other day, I happened to finally watch the movie "The Day After Tomorrow." You remember, the one where the NYC and the Statue of Liberty are frozen over, and the Republicans all flipped out last year saying the movie was a fraud. Well, apparently the science in the movie was a bit fanciful, but nonetheless, that flik freaked me out. I thought it was pretty good, disaster movie-wise, and nothing like a good movie to help you imagine the worst case scenario.

I'd recommend folks rent it, then get really pissed off at the Republicans for ignoring what they're doing to destroy our only home. And then, if you're a foreigner, get mad at your own country for letting George Bush push them around on this issue. Uzbekistan has bigger balls than Europe when it comes to standing up to Bush. Come on, guys. Read the rest of this post...

CNN Poll: 49% say Rove should resign

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What a world, what a world... Read the rest of this post...

Carter Slams Iraq War and Gitmo

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Jimmy Carter let loose on the war in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay while at a conference of Baptists in Birmingham, England:
Former President Jimmy Carter said Saturday the detention of terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval base in Cuba was an embarrassment and had given extremists an excuse to attack the United States.

Carter also criticized the U.S.-led war in Iraq as "unnecessary and unjust."

"I think what's going on in Guantanamo Bay and other places is a disgrace to the U.S.A.," he said at a news conference at the Baptist World Alliance's centenary conference.

"I wouldn't say it's the cause of terrorism, but it has given impetus and excuses to potential terrorists to lash out at our country and justify their despicable acts."

Carter said, however, that terrorist acts could not be justified, and that while Guantanamo "may be an aggravating factor . . . it's not the basis of terrorism."

Critics of President Bush's administration have long accused the U.S. government of unjustly detaining terror suspects at Guantanamo. Hundreds of men have been held indefinitely at the prison, without charge or access to lawyers.

"What has happened at Guantanamo Bay . . . does not represent the will of the American people," Carter said. "I'm embarrassed about it. I think it's wrong. I think it does give terrorists an unwarranted excuse to use despicable means to hurt innocent people."
Well, what else can I even say. He's right.

Meanwhile, AP is reporting that five more American troops were killed yesterday in Iraq. Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Back from Alaska in time for John to head to Paris.

Loved the trip. It helped that my guide for the week, Chris, was a veritable encyclopedia about his state. And, the one thing that struck me is how matter of fact everyone is about the effects of global warming in Alaska. It's not a scientific debate for people who live there. It's a fact. They've seen first-hand the dramatic results of warming climate change over the past few years.

Anyway, back at it. What's going on? Read the rest of this post...

And by the way, AMERICAblog will be temporarily moving its global empire (that'd be my laptop computer) to Paris for most of August

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You may have noticed that Chris in Paris has been gone for a few days. That's because he and his lovely wife are on vacation for the next 3+ weeks (ah, the French). They needed a cat-sitter for their wonderful two kitties (who bear somewhat of a resemblance to Atrios cat-children), so I volunteered.

I'll continue blogging from their apartment, and writing for RADAR, and trying to scrape up more clients, etc. etc. etc., but as DC is just so dead in August (the town pretty much empties out and politics grinds to a stand still, and it's hotter than hell), it seemed like a great opportunity, so I'm taking it.

I'll still have wi-fi access in Chris' apartment, so nothing much should change from your end, other than you'll probably get more than a few Paris Photo-blogging posts. And, of course, as is my tradition, as soon as I leave all hell will probably break loose either here at home or in the country I'm visiting.

Seriously, I'm like the typhoid Mary of travel disasters. I was in the Aleutian Islands during the Russian coup (which was a real bitch since, at the time, I was a foreign policy adviser to a US Senator and, well, there's not a lot of news in the Aleutian Islands (pretty, though)), I was in Chicago for Christmas when Romania and other governments were overthrown in 1989 or so (and didn't have CNN, so I was briefing the boss from what I read in the Chicago Trib!), went to Indonesia right before the terrorist attacks a few years back, to Cote d'Ivoire right before its coup, to Morocco several years back right before its terrorist attacks, to London ON THE DAY of its recent terrorist attacks, and on and on and on - you get the picture.

The lesson here? If you really hate someone, buy me a ticket to their homeland.

Anyway, I'm very excited. I do love France, and it's not very often you get an opportunity to visit another country for an extended period of time at a pretty low cost (my plane ticket was pretty much the only cost, since I can work from there, have the apartment for free, etc). So I consider myself lucky. I'm also looking forward to seeing Chris' adorable cats Nasdaq and Sushi - who were kind of bitchy at first, but now like me - and rest assured there will be some Friday Cat-blogging in all of your future.

Anyway, I don't leave until Sunday evening, so I'll be posting tomorrow. And if I can get my Vonage phone to work in Paris, that will be way cool (since now I have my cell phone unlocked too!)

A bientot :-)

JOHN Read the rest of this post...

Bush's Uzbek dictator friend evicts US from airbase

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Yeah, sucking up to those dictators who oppress their people has been a really great strategy, hasn't it? Read the rest of this post...

Co-founder of lead ex-gay group says it's all bunk

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This is a big deal as this man was one of THE men who founded the entire "ex-gay" movement thirty years ago. Read the rest of this post...

Putting photos next to your comments

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Apparently here is how you do it. Seems to be the latest big thing. If anyone knows of any better sites for doing this, suggest away. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Just bought a Vonage phone. With the rebate, the phone came to, oh, carry the one, um - NOTHING. It's a $50 or so box with a $50 or so rebate, and the monthly service is $25 when I pay $70 to Verizon.

Kiss Verizon goodbye. Buh bye. And they appear to have the 911 problem solved as well.

Buh bye. Read the rest of this post...

She's crazy

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Apropos of the absolute nutjob Republican woman running for the US House seat in Ohio this Tuesday, I put together the following video.

I hope you like it. (850k download)

Read the rest of this post...

MSM Buries Fact Bush Ignored Military Leaders, Endangered Troops

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We find out that Bush bluntly ignored the advice of every branch of the military. In the strongest terms, the army, navy, air force and marines all denounced the use of extraordinary force during interrogations (what granola-eating wimps refer to as torture). Yep, every branch of the military argued that the case for torture was legally suspect at best, went against our country's core values and would put our troops in unnecessary danger. And it probably wouldn't do any good anyway.

Bush dismissed their advice with a wave of his hand and did it anyway. Why did Bush ignore his top military leaders? Why did he put our troops in harm's way whenever one of ours gets captured by an enemy? What are his reasons for dismissing the military advice of his top commanders?

But where did the story of Bush's dismissive lack of concern for our troops get buried? On page 21 of the New York Times. Read the rest of this post...

Ohio GOP US House candidate using dead soldier's memorial for her political campaign

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Yikes. When asked about Democratic House candidate Paul Hackett's obviously experience with the Iraq question, he served as a US soldier in Iraq, his Republican opponent, Jean Scmidt, responded that she just got back from a memorial for a local soldier who died.

Huh? Well with THAT kind of experience she should be an expert on the war pretty soon since the deaths keep going.

He served in Iraq and she just got back from a memorial for a soldier killed in Iraq. Yeah, sounds like pretty comparable experience to me. Not to mention, I'm not sure I like the idea of some political candidate going to some dead soldier's memorial 3 days before the election - sounds more than a bit crass to me.

Not to mention, craaaaaaazzzzyyyyyy. Check out about three and a half minutes into this interview - she kind of starts to lose her cool in a kooky way. Also, she's one big GOP talking point, no substance whatsoever. With regards to Iraq, she thinks it's all going real well. "The best defense is a good offense," is what she'd tell President Bush about the war. Uh huh.

Oh, check out 6:40 into the video, she loses it again. What a fraking witch. Oh my! Gee, tightly strung much? Then she gets on a roll and just doesn't stop even for air, she gets more and more and more wound up. Oh my God, what a nut! Read the rest of this post...

IRA Turns Back On Terror

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This is from a few days ago, but still good news, though the proof is in the pudding. Obviously, Bush's invasion of Iraq is directly responsible for this -- if he hadn't lied to the American people and gotten bogged down in the Middle East, how would the IRA have known to renounce terror...or rather extremism? Bush's invasion will also be credited with bringing the shuttle safely home and with ending the heat wave smothering the east coast these last few days. Read the rest of this post...

Tax Cuts For The Super Rich

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USA Today has a very good editorial spelling out why the "death tax," aka a big fat tax break for the already super-wealthy, is absurd at any time, much less when we're fighting massive deficits and the draining cost of war in Iraq. Some highlights:
Just 1% of estates paid any estate tax in 2003, according to the IRS. Three quarters of the money raised from the tax comes from estates of more than $5 million....

Of the more than 18,000 estates paying the tax last year, just 340 consist primarily of a single farm or small business....

The Senate measure, which is still being negotiated, would tax inherited wealth of millions of dollars at a lower rate than what a teacher pays on a $70,000 annual salary. It would also give inherited wealth a more privileged status than money made from hard work or putting capital at risk....

The measure would cost the treasury about $196 billion over the next decade. That would require other taxpayers to make up the difference or add yet more debt to be paid off by future generations.
Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Sup? Read the rest of this post...

26 Dead, 30 Wounded In Latest Iraqi Attack

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Yep, things are going great so no wonder Bush is talking about setting deadlines and pulling them out in the spring of 2006 (rright before midterm elections, mind you) as long as things don't get worse. Does Bush really think things COULD get worse? Read the rest of this post...

This Lame Duck Can Still Peck Away

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Bush is supposed to be a lame duck...but he's sure accomplishing a lot. First he passed that bankruptcy bill that makes the average American debilitated by illness or the loss of a job that much more likely to be buried under debt.

And this week he scored a string of successes:

Bush passed CAFTA

Bush passed a bill shielding gun manufacturers from lawsuits, a prospect they've been salivating over for years.

Bush passed a transportation bill filled with pork to help the midterm elections

Bush passed an energy bill filled with pork that does little or nothing to help us lower our dependence on foreign oil, lets multinationals pollute the water and will trigger a massive wave of mergers in the utilities, with little understanding of what that means to the average consumer, though you can bet it means higher bills

Bush passed a bill to increase funding for veterans' health care -- Bush's top people at the VA insisted they wouldn't need more money (even though they failed to consider that WAR would cause a flood of injured soldiers) and of course they fell dramatically short, while still denying a problem. Congress stepped in and delivered the money. Bush deserves no credit but will surely tout this as another example of how he cares for the troops.

And renewal of the Patriot Act -- this is as close as Bush came to defeat, since he only got 98% of what he wanted here.

For a lame duck, Bush sure has been quacking a lot. Read the rest of this post...

Friday Orchid Blogging

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I have NO idea what this is, other than that it should be an orchid as I took this picture recently at an orchid greenhouse. I have an orchid buddy who should know what this is, hopefully she'll weigh in. But it's so damn pornographic, it's just gotta be an orchid. Enjoy.

Update, more info on this particular orchid.

And I've made this photo into a t-shirt, postcards, etc. for sale here.

Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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The orchids are moments away... Read the rest of this post...

Bush again threatening recess appointment of Bolton to UN

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Because lying to Congress means nothing to a guy who has just spent the past five years lying to an entire nation.




Republicans have no respect for the law, or morality. Read the rest of this post...

Homeland Security Head: Somone Should Protect Mass Transit

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Homeland head Michael Chertoff blathers on in a Washington Post op-ed. He tries to defend spending so much more money on airports instead of other mass transit, admits that money should be targeted even more towards the vulnerable posts and cities (which Bush doesn't do enough of), holds up the hope that some fancy new technology will solve all our problems, fobs off most of the responsibility on state and local people and then offers this whopper:
Finally, catastrophic attacks on mass transit infrastructure have the potential to kill thousands -- and preventing them must be a primary focus of federal resources.
A "primary focus?" Then why has Bush done so little about trains and subways and bridges and tunnels? Why is Bush's Congress cutting back on airport security screeners by almost 15%, as we posted below? Thanks to threader aaron for pointing us to this. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Off for drinks. TiVo'g Sci-Fi Friday. Read the rest of this post...

Military won't tell parents of dead soldier HOW she died

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God forbid the family of Army Pfc. LaVena Johnson be told how their own daughter was killed in Iraq while serving her country.

Funny how again it's the liberals who are all upset that our troops are being treated like dirt, and it's the Republicans who are trying to hide these stories under the rug. Hmmm... And it's the liberals complaining about our troops not having the appropriate body armor, while the Republicans try to slip the problem under the rug. And it's the liberals who are complaining about our troops not being given an end game strategy to win this war, while the Republicans simply lie while our troops keep getting killed and maimed.

Tell me again how the Republicans are the party of national defense? Read the rest of this post...

My t-shirts just arrived

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I just ordered a slew of t-shirts for myself and they just arrived. I have to say, they're quite funny. Actually even better than I expected. And the mediums are even a bit large - gonna try to wash and shrink em manana.

Read the rest of this post...

Why does Bill Frist hate fetuseseses

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Tom DeLay says baby-hater Bill Frist is toast if he ever runs for president. Man, I love it when the party's popularity hits 40% and the inmates start running the prison. Read the rest of this post...

Tony Blair just caught all suspected London terrorists in one week, George Bush can't catch any 9/11 suspects in four years

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Tony Blair REALLY doesn't get it.

It's not about actually CATCHING the terrorists. It's about keeping the fear of terror going for as long as you can in order to use to stay in power, squelch domestic dissent, stifle democracy, and launch an interventionist foreign policy to try to take over the world.

Silly, silly Tony Blair. Dubya is going to be vewy vewy angwy with you.

Read the rest of this post...

The President We Might Have Had

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A very good op-ed on Bush vs Gore, pointing out how Al Gore's top priorities were right in line with the needs of America -- Gore touted hybrid cars and energy conservation and renewable sources (Bush mocked the hybrids that are now a huge profit center...for foreign companies), Gore would have used the power of the marketplace to get cheaper prescriptions for seniors (rather than benefitting the pharmaceutical companies), Gore would have used the now-squandered budget surplus to strengthen Social Security, rather than simply trying to destroy it and on and on. Very well done. And here's the kicker on terrorism:
Would a Gore administration have connected the dots and prevented the horror of 9/11? That, of course, is impossible to assess. What is crystal clear: No administration could have done worse than Mr. Bush and his people.
Thanks to threader Laura Bee for pointing us to this. Read the rest of this post...

Supreme Court Stealth Nominee Roberts: An Update

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Loads to discuss about John Roberts.

USA Today says quite simply that Roberts was working for the American people, not the President, and that the records should be made available.
The White House appears far too eager to keep Roberts' record shrouded at precisely the moment when the veil should be rising.
The Dems -- led by Sen. Kennedy -- get serious and make a formal request for documents on 20 issues that Roberts dealt with in the first Bush administration. Kennedy also points out that the more we learn about Roberts, the more extreme his record reveals itself to be.

Sen. Chuck Schumer gets a profile as he girds himself for the questioning of Roberts, probably the most important task he'll face this year. Schumer and Kennedy were two who showed no confidence in Roberts when he last came before the Senate for confirmation.

Here's an article on the questionnaire sent to Roberts. Pretty fascinating what was put in and what left out. In: have you been arrested or convicted of a crime? Out: have you ever hired a clerk who was a woman or a minority?

And the most important article details his views based on the files that have already been released. It doesn't look good for people opposed to sex discrimination, supportive of immigrants' rights, the separation of church-state, etc. And I was really annoyed by this comment on Affirmative Action.
Mr. Roberts held that affirmative action programs were bound to fail because they required "the recruiting of inadequately prepared candidates."

"Under our view of the law," he wrote in 1981, "it is not enough to say that blacks and women have been historically discriminated against as groups and are therefore entitled to special preferences."
Actually, only a racist or misogynist should think that women and blacks were denied jobs throughout our country's history because they were "inadequately prepared." Certainly no program encouraging the employment of women or blacks or other groups denied a fair chance to succeed would depend on scrounging up the unqualified. Affirmative action was about ending that discrimination and making sure that the people who WERE qualified got a chance. People who were never allowed to walk in the door and therefore could never gain the experience to move up even higher based on their skills got placed on an equal footing with everyone else. Does Roberts think the symbolically affirmative action hiring of Sandra Day O'Connor was wrong or simply that she was the first woman in the history of this country who was qualified to be a Supreme Court justice?

It's not about helping people with shortcomings -- it's about ending the prejudice that held down people who could have performed just as well or better as everyone else. It's about giving them the chance to prove themselves and succeed on merit rather than be held back because of the color of their skin or their gender. It's not a "special preference" to pull down barriers that hold people back. It's the "special preference" for white males that affirmative action was designed to end. Read the rest of this post...

Bill Frist caves on stem cells, screws religious right and Bush

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Not to mention, read the article, you don't see George Bush bending any arms to help the religious right on this one (you've got vote your conscience, he told Frist). What? If that's the response Bush gives to every religious right priority then almost no one in Congress is going to support them.

Bill Frist, why do you hate American's Taliban? Read the rest of this post...

Nobody knows I'm a man-whore

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For some strange reason I felt inspired to create this t-shirt today....

Buy 'em now, at the AMERICAblog store :-)

We've got LOTS more merchandise over the past week, check it out at your leisure. Read the rest of this post...

Anyone interested in helping the special congressional election in Ohio next Tuesday

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Go here. Read the rest of this post...

One-third of Humvees in Iraq Still Not Properly Armored

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One out of every three Humvees is not factory-armored. Imagine your son and daughter pulling the short straw. So what do you think of Bush? It's two years into the war and he's still incapable of properly equipping a third of the soldiers in Iraq using armored vehicles. A real commander in chief would have solved this problem ages ago. But of course a real commander in chief wouldn't run from military funerals just because he thought it might make a bad photo-op. I mean, really, it's not like Bush is running for reelection. Can't he at least do that for the troops? Show the fallen a little respect? Read the rest of this post...

Jeff Gannon, $200 an hour man-whore, says AMERICAblog and you crazy radicals are giving aid and comfort to the enemy

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Yeah, well, I suppose Jeff knows a thing about giving aid and comfort.

I know I swore I wouldn't mention Jeff again since his 15 minutes have long since passed, but you do have to read this oped in the Atlanta gay paper (but don't call him gay!). I picked a few choice paragraphs you have to read.

After mentioning AMERICAblog and me by name, Jeff, who you'll recall is a fake Marine - yes, the man lied about being in the military service - says we're giving aid and comfort to the enemy, we seek to compromise America's security and cripple its economy (huh? oh, that's right, we ruined his prostitution business), we're filled with blind rage and conspiracy theories (yeah, that $1200 a weekend prostie thing never panned out, did it Jeff), and apparently we have ties to Cuba and Norh Korea, which is news to me. I mean, I think Cuban guys are hot, though I'm not really into North Koreans - does that count?
The aim is to focus on incidents that may sap the will of the American people to remain on the front lines in the war on terror. But it doesn’t have as much impact on the Pentagon as it does the men and women in harm’s way.

Either way, undermining support for the war in Iraq gives aid and comfort to those who have no regard for life, liberty or diversity. Losing this battle in the war on terror won’t bode well for anyone in the U.S.

THE WEB SITES of these activists are populated with extreme elements who seek to compromise America’s security and cripple its economy. Intelligent debate over issues and strategies is crushed by expressions of blind rage and conspiracy theories.

With rhetoric so shrill, all but the most partisan readers are repelled. The operators of these sites and the opinions expressed therein are often represented to the rest of America as the core constituency of the gay community.

Only a few degrees of separation exist between these activists and some dangerously radical groups. Clinking just a few links will transport one to the Web sites of International ANSWER, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice or Queers for Peace.

All of these “antiwar” groups are part of a global anti-American movement that supports totalitarian regimes like Cuba and North Korea. History has shown how well despots treat gay members of society.
And may I just say that some closet case man-whore who wrote article after article sucking up to the religious right on gay issues, and who still denies he's gay, has a lot to make up for before he lectures any of us on who represents the gay community. Jeff's concern for our well being is touching.

PS You'll notice the difference between a closet case man-whore and a real journalist. Jeff bitches about the fact that I didn't cover the Irani hanging of two gay youths. Well, had Jeff done his research rather than simply regurgitated what he read on the Internet he'd know that that story has a few holes in it. And as an aside, since when did Jeff become the big international human rights advocate? I welcome him to the cause, but give me a break. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Sci-Fi Friday is here Read the rest of this post...

Frist to Flip Flop on Stem Cells

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Flip flop alert! Reporting it as a break with Bush, Frist is supposed to be changing his mind on supporting stem cell research. From the NY Times:
"I am pro-life," Mr. Frist says in the speech, arguing that he can reconcile his support for the science with his own Christian faith. "I believe human life begins at conception."

But at the same time, he says, "I also believe that embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported."
Last time I checked Dr. Frist, an embryo, by definition, comes AFTER conception. These guys are just a bunch of clowns... Read the rest of this post...

Hey, Did Bush Just Cave To The Terrorists?

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I posted earlier about our top general in Iraq saying they could start a major pullout in the spring (just in time for the 2006 elections oddly enough). Mostly, I made fun of the fact that the only condition he was really trying to set was that the insurgency not get any worse. That seems a pretty pathetic standard since the insurgency is stronger than ever.

But lots of threaders pointed out the obvious: Bush had just set a deadline. He certainly can't pretend conditions in Iraq have improved -- more people are dying this year than last year and more people were dying last year than the year before. And Bush insisted it was heresy to set a deadline to pull out -- if you do that, all the insurgents have to do is wait you out. Now they know they can hunker down (or even keep killing our men and women at the record levels they've been achieving) and we'll still be out in the spring of 2006.

How can Bush justify setting a deadline when Iraq is worse off now than it was a year ago? How can Bush justify setting a deadline when he insisted this would help the insurgents? How can Bush justify talk of pulling out when the Iraqis only have about 12,000 troops even minimally trained -- and most of them are only capable of fighting with our help? How can Bush justify going back on his word? Read the rest of this post...

Longer Lines At Airports? Thank Bush And The Republicans!

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The Republican-controlled House and Senate are getting ready to cut up to 15% of the entire country's checkpoint screeners at airports. The Senate wants to cut 6000 of the 45,000 screeners; the House wants to cut 2000. USA Today details which airports are hit hardest with cuts. (Some, in fact, gain). Among the big losers: Detroit (black people), Puerto Rico (dark-skinned people and Ricky Martin) and JFK in New York (lots of liberals and besides, it's in Queens and that makes them feel icky). Among the big winners: Arnuhld's Los Angeles, Houston (naturally) and -- no surprise here -- Washington-Dulles. Shameless.

Airport officials say travelers can forget about breezing through in ten minutes -- which should be great for the beleaguered airline industry. But forget convenience -- how can this POSSIBLY be a good idea in a post 9-11 world where security should be a top priority?

Has Bush done ANYTHING lately to improve national security? Bush won't even pretend to worry about oil consumption, Bush doesn't guard our borders, Bush ignores the backlog of untranslated intelligence, Bush wants to DELAY upgrading the Coast Guard (which is charged with inspecting ports) until 2030, Bush can't even upgrade the computers at the FBI (he's leaving that up to the NEXT President), we STILL don't have a combined terrorist watch list to check against the names of people on airline passenger lists and now Bush wants to cut back on airport security. What else can we add to this list? Read the rest of this post...

Kudos To "Paula Zahn Now" For Second "Conversion" Story

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Okay, so Thursday night "Paula Zahn Now" did another story on the snake oil scam of "conversion therapy." (If you're interested, the show is rerun at 2 a.m.) Suddenly Zahn was touting Part Two of their special report -- though I rechecked part "one" and there's no hint they planned a followup. Either the story generated so much attention they decided to squeeze another segment out of the footage or -- best case scenario -- they were as unhappy with the first one as we were. Certainly they improved a good deal. It's late and I lambasted them the first time around, so forgive this lengthy analysis.

Reporters have to be instant experts on every issue they deal with and the show clearly came up short on night one. Either internally or based on feedback from viewers and the web (which Zahn even referenced), they listened and responded to some of the factual complaints. Yes, it could have been even better -- but their response was certainly far more admirable than simply ignoring the criticism or defending the original piece. Though of course I assume mainly they did another piece because the first one generated talk.

Among the improvements: they made clear that Love in Action Refuge (yes, as numerous threaders pointed out, this makes them LIARs) is NOT a registered mental health clinic -- only one counselor is licensed. (And I assume that counselor could be reprimanded or lose their license for engaging in therapy that the APA has condemned. Perhaps they're only licensed by the state?) Since it ISN'T a mental health clinic, I still take issue with CNN describing chat sessions as "group therapy." Shouldn't group therapy be reserved only for sessions led by a professional? Is the only licensed therapist always present at every session? If not, it doesn't deserve this patina of professional respectability -- especially since what they practice has been condemned by every reputable medical and mental health organization in the country as dangerous, wrong, and potentially extremely damaging.

They still incorrectly describe the leader Rev. Smid [what a name!] as "rejecting homosexuality," a claim these fringe groups know they can no longer pretend to make -- even Rev. Smid doesn't claim he's now straight, just that he won't act on those desires. Again, it's important to note that just a few years ago they lied and said people could choose to be straight and that being gay was merely a choice. Society is so far beyond such idiocy, today even the far right doesn't trot that lie out anymore. Even the IDs of the people who went through the program are poorly thought out: two young men interviewed are labeled "graduate," which again gives this sketchy organization that is seriously condemned by the entire medical community an air of seriousness it doesn't deserve. You can't graduate from a scam.

All the footage used was presumably shot the first time around. But what a difference a day makes. With the new emphasis on facts and the overwhelming medical opinion about this fraud, they even used a better quote from Dr. Drescher of the APA than the one they used the first night. "These people [the teens being told by their parents they should be ashamed of the way they were born] are in a lot of pain and desperate," says Drescher. "This movement preys on that desperation."

The real zinger: LIARs only claims that 24 people have gone through the program since it began three years ago. That tells us a lot. There's very little demand, it's extremely fringe and wildly ineffective. We know just from the two men interviewed that at least three of those 24 are happily gay and the one mild success story says he'll be attracted to men for the rest of his life and may simply try to be chaste. That's far different from their wild claims 10 years ago that being gay was a choice and anyone who wanted to could marry a woman, settle down and be happy. Of course, like all the other scams that have popped up over the years, LIARs refuses to keep track of the people it has abused by teaching them to hate the way they were born. So you can bet that out of the remaining 20 that most are happily gay or desperately miserable. Or, God forbid, dead. The charlatan running it -- Rev. Smid -- says he "doesn't know" how many have succeeded by his standards. He can't keep track of 24 people? That's either complete callousness on his part or more obviously he doesn't want to know.

Oh and the one young man they offered up to the media -- Ben Marshall -- had to spend EIGHT MONTHS with LIARs and even he doesn't consider it a success based on what he expected -- which was to "become" straight. Good luck to Ben and I hope five years from now he'll be telling the media how he learned to love himself and love God at a UU or UCC or some other house of worship and what a joke this group was. Certainly I think the chances of him being happy by spending his life ashamed of the way he was born are not good.

But the heart of the segment was a live one-on-one interview between Zahn and another "graduate" Gerard Wellman, who now works for LIARs. (Another Dickensian and ironic name for a clean-cut nice young guy -- dude, you are a well man AND a gay man; it's a pity you think you have to be ashamed of yourself).

Zahn was polite but pretty darn on target. She emphasized how he is and always will be gay and that the best the program can hope is to get Wellman and others to SUPPRESS themselves. She emphasized how it's one thing for an adult like Wellman to choose to go through this and a very different thing for a minor to be forced into it. LIAR's line is that the parents have the right to raise their children any way they choose. But the response is that you have no right to assist a parent in shaming and emotionally damaging a child by telling them to be ashamed of their skin color or gender or sexual orientation. Zahn talked a lot about the vulnerability of the children being pushed through LIARs. When Wellman tried to compare this program to a parent's right to have their children take music lessons, Zahn shot him down and said that music lessons never lead to suicide attempts.

My favorite moment:

Zahn: But in a way, aren't you denying who you are?
Wellman: Aren't we all?

Uh, no. We're not. Only people abused by their parents and their misguided religious leaders try to deny who they are. Lead a good Christian life by being in a faithful monogamous relationship with a nice Christian guy, Wellman, not by trying to suppress who you are and second-guess God.

Kudos again to Zahn for doing a much better job the second time around. Read the rest of this post...

US to pull troops out of Iraq in 2006: been there, done that, heard it all before

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How many times are they going to repeat this story? The Iraqi troops are hardly trained and the ones that are trained and can operate on their own make up a small minority of the overall numbers. Besides Fox News and their loyal viewers, who really buys this garbage? No matter what the Iraqi government says, they know that when the US troops go, so goes the money and focus so this is not going to happen any time soon. Read the rest of this post...

AP: Bolton lied to Congress, he WAS interviewed in an investigation

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See Bolton sink. Sink, Bolton, sink.
John Bolton, President Bush's nominee for U.N. ambassador, mistakenly told Congress he had not been interviewed or testified in any investigation over the past five years, the State Department said Thursday.

Bolton was interviewed by the State Department inspector general in 2003 as part of a joint investigation with the Central Intelligence Agency into prewar Iraqi attempts to buy nuclear materials from Niger, State Department spokesman Noel Clay said.

The admission came hours after another State Department official said Bolton had correctly answered a Senate questionnaire when he wrote that he has not testified to a grand jury or been interviewed by investigators in any inquiry over the past five years.

The reversal followed persistent Democratic attempts to question Bolton's veracity just days before Bush may use his authority to make him United Nations ambassador after Congress adjourns for its summer recess. For months, Democrats have prevented the Senate from confirming the fiery conservative to the post.

"It seems unusual that Mr. Bolton would not remember his involvement in such a serious matter," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "In my mind, this raises more questions that need to be answered. I hope President Bush will not make the mistake of recess appointing Mr. Bolton."
Hat tip to Democratic Daily Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Any news? Read the rest of this post...

Bush's Idea Of Good Iraqis

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A sad story in the LA Times links a National Guard company from that state to some potentially criminal activity.
Members of three of four active companies in the battalion are being investigated for their alleged role in mistreating Iraqi prisoners and engaging in inappropriate financial agreements with local shopkeepers, according to military officials.

The most egregious case of detainee abuse reported so far occurred after a June insurgent attack, when soldiers allegedly tortured Iraqi detainees with an electric stun gun. At least one instance of abuse was recorded on video, military sources said.

As many as 17 soldiers are under investigation for mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners and at least six others have been charged with dereliction of duty. Lt. Col. Patrick Frey, the battalion commander, has been suspended pending the investigation.
Imagine that: suspending someone from duty while they're under the cloud of a serious investigation.

Now, every soldier is responsible for their own actions and should be held accountable. But I also blame Bush for repeatedly making clear that insurgents and terrorists don't deserve the same basic dignity as "real" people. Bush is the one who has rewarded virtually every top official connected with the prisoner abuse scandals. How can he pretend that he also disapproves of torture?

But what really struck me about this story was the infamous Wolf Brigade, an Iraqi unit that worked with that California Guard unit.
The [Wolf] brigade is both loved and feared in Iraq for its attacks on alleged insurgent hide-outs and the dramatic televised confessions those offensives produced.

But Sunni human rights advocates charged that the brigade elicited the confessions by beating their captives. A woman interviewed by The Times this year said brigade officers whipped her sister with telephone wires to force her to confess to terrorist acts and to accuse her male associates of raping her and of having homosexual relations.

The detainee, Khalida Mashhandani, was later released after it was determined that her confessions had been coerced.

Despite its controversial reputation, the Wolf Brigade is regarded by U.S. military officials as the gold standard for Iraqi security forces.
Read the rest of this post...

Creepy update about the space shuttle

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ABC News is now reporting that in fact there were additional pieces of foam that broke off and DID hit the shuttle during take off. Yikes. Read the rest of this post...

American vets from Iraq war not qualified to serve in public office, GOP US House candidate says in Ohio

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This is bad, seriously. Paul Hackett is running as the first Iraq war vet to run for Congress, and now his GOP opponent, Jean Schmidt, just said that being an American vet from the Iraq war is the wrong kind of experience for a member of Congress. I kid you not.

The Swift Boaters started it last year with Kerry, and Bush did the same thing to McCain in 2000. Slur a guy because he's a vet. And now we have a GOP candidate for Congress saying that service in the Iraq war apparently disqualifies you for being a member of Congress.

Any US service members watching? This is what I'm talking about. You think the Republicans are automatically your friends? Ask yourself why the only ones upset about all of you guys getting killed, maimed, sent to war based on a lie, not being given any plan to win the war, not even being given body armor three years after hostilities commenced - why the only people upset about all of that are Democrats? Then listen to this woman.

Any questions? Read the rest of this post...

Wait a minute, that's a non-denial from McClellan about Bush's finger

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Look, I appreciate the White House press office contacting me to say Bush didn't flip the press off yesterday, but then Scott McClellan, their boss, refuses to deny the story in today's press briefing.

Here's what Scott had to say:
Q Scott, last night on the Tonight Show, Jay Leno, who apparently is subbing for Johnnie, displayed a video of the President at the Capitol yesterday. In that video, the President walking away from the press lifts his hand and raises a finger. Mr. Leno interpreted it as, shall we say, a finger of hostility. Each of our fingers has a special purpose and meaning in life. (Laughter.) Can you tell us what finger it was he held up?

MR. McCLELLAN: Ken, I'm not even going to dignify that with much of a response. But if someone is misportraying something, that's unfortunate.

Q Well, it was not a finger of hostility?

MR. McCLELLAN: Ken, I was there with him, and I'm just not going to -- I'm not going to dignify that with a response. I mean, I haven't seen the video that you're talking about, but I know the way the President acts. And if someone is misportraying it, that's unfortunate.
Well, with all due respect Scott, you just lied again. You know how the president acts? Implying, what, that the president would never flip someone off? Of course, he DID flip someone off and we have it on tape (see post below). He also called a NYT reporter a "major league asshole." So, I'm sorry, but you're outright lying when you say that the president never "acts" this way. And in fact, you didn't even really say that today. You simply refused to deny the story. That's downright weird, and in the context of RoveGate, where you first gave denials that were lies, and now you're giving cagey answers, we have to wonder why you're giving cagey answers again if nothing happened.

Again, you know the way the president acts. Well, we do too. And he flips the bird and calls people assholes. So, using your logic of "knowing how the president acts" then I guess it's true.

I don't want to belabor the point, because there is a chance we're misinterpreting the photo. But come on guys, can you ever come clean about any story ever? Jesus, not everything is a national security matter. Just once, come clean and stop playing word games like some liar. Read the rest of this post...


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OK, vacation is clearly on my mind as I'm rounding up everything for my departure. A great article in the NY Times today about the African cheetahs. I had the good fortune to visit Okonjima, Namibia a few years ago and was impressed with the operation. The AfriCat foundation has a massive sanctuary in Namibia where they rescue and save the dwindling cheetah population and re-introduce the cheetahs (whenever possible) to parks. Farmers of course never like cheetahs (or other predators) because they tend to find easy prey with farm animals so instead of killing the animals, as was done in the past, the AfriCat foundation rescues the cats and moves them.

I am especially fond of cheetahs and absolutely loved seeing them at Okonjima. There are plenty of beautiful people, places and things to see across Africa but if you like nature, Namibia is fantastic and your chances of seeing cheetahs here are better than anywhere in the world, thanks to organizations such as AfriCat. The photo links in the article are great and yes, tracking a cheetah on foot is tons of fun. Read the rest of this post...

The White House just called (seriously)

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David Almacy just called me from the White House communications office to clarify the reports that Bush flipped off reporters yesterday while visiting the Hill. David says that Bush was definitely giving the thumbs up sign with regards to the upcoming CAFTA vote (Central American Free Trade Agreement). I asked David if I could write about our conversation, and he said please do.

I have to say, I'm not real convinced by the thumbs up excuse. It's possible, of course, but the video doesn't look like his thumb, and Bush has a history of flipping off reporters (there's a video we posted last fall of him flipping off a reporter in Texas while governor). This is a still shot of that video from when Bush was governor.

There are also unconfirmed reports of Bush flipping off protesters last year. Bush called a NYT reporter a "major league asshole," and let's not even talk about VP Cheney's mouth.

And while, yes, it would be really stupid of him to flip off reporters while on the Hill, well, it would be pretty stupid to lie to the nation about going to war, and to keep Karl Rove and Scooter Libby on staff after it's already been proven that they outed a CIA agent. I'm not going to put it past Bush to do something really stupid.

Having said that, the White House gets two points for reaching out to bloggers, especially bloggers on the other side of the aisle. That's the job of a smart public relations person, to reach out even when you don't agree, so they get points for that. Now how about reaching out on the issues, then we'll start really talking.

You can check out our earlier report on last night's episode and decide for yourselves. Read the rest of this post...

That supposed gay execution story in Iran

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You all may have heard that last week a story was going around about a supposed execution in Iran of two teens killed because they were gay.

The source for the story was sketchy - it was an Irani student news site that often has good stories, I'm told, and sometimes doesn't. The story, also, was written in Farsi so someone, I don't know who, translated it and started passing it around. I didn't report on the story at the time because 1) I have no idea who translated the Farsi and would like to know before I believe them, but more importantly 2) I don't like quoting student news sites I've never heard of (and sites that after I check them out I'm told they're sometimes right and sometimes wrong).

Well, it now appears the story may have been wrong. The Iranis are claiming the kids were executed for putting a knife to the throat of a 13 year old child and raping the child. Now, I don't know if that's true or not, but if it is true, then this isn't a gay story. It might be a death penalty story, and that's fine if that's your cause, but that doesn't make it a story about gays being executed for being gay.

Anyway, that's why I didn't report on this story - I had a hunch that I didn't trust the source, that Irani news site, and it now looks like I may have been right. I also may have been wrong - maybe in the end we'll find out that the Iranians trumped up the charges to get two gay kids, who knows - but I'd rather have those facts in hand before I report them as true. Credibility counts. Read the rest of this post...

I'm going to say it again

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At least give the recipient of your email the respect to read their blog before sending them a suggested story, a photo, or whatever that they've actually already reported on just a few hours ago.

As one person you may not think it's a big deal that you send stuff to blogs and its stuff they've already written about, but you'd be surprised how many people email us EVERY DAY with stories and photos etc that are already on our blog. It gives one the sense that folks are simply spamming us with everything they've got, rather than tailoring your emails to the blog/site in question. You might not think this a big deal, but try wading through several hundred emails a day when an increasing number of them are suggesting things you already wrote about. It's kind of insulting, because it means you really aren't reading the site anyway. But more importantly, you're watering down the value of every email sent to any blogger if you simply send stuff they can't use. That waters down your message and the mesage of every other good email we get.

Again, don't mean to be bitchy, but this email etiquette thing is becoming a problem. For some large organizations, like Hill offices, that have email lists that we've agreed to be on, obviously it's too much trouble to tailor emails, and that's okay. But in general, if you're not operating an email list-serv that someone has already opted in to, and you're just suggesting an article, or whatever, look at the site and see if they're already written about it. Please :-)

That's our bitchy two minutes hate for the day. We now take you back to regular programming. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Got my phone unlocked for $25 at a store downtown. Seems like a good enough deal (there was nowhere else to go). So in principle this means I can go to Europe, buy a SIM card with a number attached to it, plug it in my phone, and voila, I have a local phone in Europe. We'll see if it works, but it should. (And for those of you considering the same, make sure you have a GSM phone that actually WORKS in Europe, ottherwise unlocking it won't help). Read the rest of this post...

Good Morning America on Conversion Therapy

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Zach, the blog kid who was forced into the fake "straight camp" program Love in Action and told he should be ashamed of himself by his parents is getting out tomorrow. That's what prompted at least two major stories on these scams. CNN last night ran a poor story that didn't even peg itself to the massive web story of Zach and his imminent departure.

This morning, GMA did virtually the same story, but a bit better. (Hey, I'm a late riser and just got around to watching it.) It talked about Zach and quoted from his blog, used clips from The 700 Club of the boy's awful parents (try loving the children you have rather than telling your kids they're awful, folks) and emphasized the dangers to children being forced into this scam. Diane Sawyer also noted wryly that the head of the program struggles with gay desires himself and questioned his ridiculous claims of a 65% success rate.

Strikingly, GMA used the same expert from the APA but got a better quote about the dangers of this debunked and misleading practice. They also interviewed the same young man CNN did who went through the program and rejects it but embraces faith and his new boyfriend side by side with a young man who "graduated" and now works for LIA. (Pity their initials aren't LIE.)

Still, GMA failed to provide context about conversion therapy, how it was founded by two men who ultimately declared their love for each other, admitted it was all a fraud and are now married and campaign against it. GMA failed to note how the rare "success stories" trumpeted by the far right have proven to be failures time and time again. GMA failed to speak to the many experts who have studied these groups or make clear how health professionals can have nothing to do with them or potentially lose their license for endangering the health of a client.

GMA failed to emphasize how these groups have already admitted defeat -- they used to claim they could turn people straight; now apparently everyone admits they're still gay and struggle with desire but just try not to act on it. That's a far cry from what they used to believe -- it admits the fundamental point that being gay is not a choice, something they used to deny heatedly. GMA also failed to tie the hatred these parents have for their own children to the trial of a man in Florida who killed his three year old son because he feared the boy was gay and literally tried to beat it out of him.

Imagine doing a story on teen steroid use and spending equal time with the people who extoll its virtues rather than devoting most air time to the vast majority of the medical and scientific community that condemn it. GMA did a little better job than CNN, but it could have accomplished much more.

NOTE: here are some links to learn more. Disinformation, a Salon story and an HRC report. You can also check out Wayne Besen's expose "Anything But Straight." Read the rest of this post...

Redefining Success In Iraq

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I posted yesterday about the Army's recruitment shortfall and how a top US general said we could begin a pullout in spring of 2006. And what conditions did that general call for before we begin pulling up stakes and heading home? How did that general (re)define success in Iraq?
Speaking earlier with U.S. reporters traveling with Rumsfeld, Gen. George Casey, the top American commander in Iraq, said he believed a U.S. troop withdrawal could begin by spring 2006 if progress continues on the political front and if the insurgency does not expand.
So the insurgency is stronger than ever, killing more people this year than it did last year, killing foreign diplomats with impunity, and generally things have gone to hell in a handbasket in the two years since Bush trumpeted "Mission Accomplished." And now we're saying, well, as long as IT DOESN'T GET ANY WORSE, our job is done? Talk about moving the goalposts. Read the rest of this post...

Bush's Pals In Pakistan Training/Arming The Taliban To Kill Our Troops

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Bush's idea of a war on terror is to cozy up to the people most responsible. Bush is chummy with the Saudis (who fund the spread of extreme Islam all over the world) and pals with Pakistan (the country that has sold more WMD know-how and equipment to terrorists and rogue states than anyone else in the world).

Now it turns out Pakistan is very likely back to training and arming the Taliban and helping them attack US troops. The LA Times details reports of reopened training camps, new sophisticated mines way beyond the capability of the Taliban on its own and jubilant militants thrilled about the new support.
Lt. Gen. Moin Faqir, who oversees the Afghan army's operations as central corps commander, said his forces first started seeing bombs with computer components six months ago in Kunar province.

"It is not easy to use these mines unless you are well trained for it," he said....

Faqir said he could not say with certainty who was providing the equipment and training to build the new bombs.

"I think we all know where these mines are from," he added with a pained smile.

The Afghan general chose his words carefully. A uniformed U.S. military advisor was sitting on a couch next to him, taking notes on everything he said.
Bush of course says this is nonsense because he ain't reality based. But the troops on the ground know the truth and they are paying the price. Read the rest of this post...

Food aid starting to arrive in Niger

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Yes, it's too late for many since they have already died of starvation but food shipments are starting to arrive in Niger. In the Western/developed world distribution across 400 miles of road is an easy drive but in a large, poor country such as Niger, such a journey can take days.

Let's hope that more is on the way and that the international community is also preparing shipments for the other neighboring countries who are also suffering from drought. Read the rest of this post...

Our National Security Damaged By Bush's Hatred Of Gays

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I don't care how much you hate gays; our nation's security is more important than pandering to the far right. Bush kicked out trained and patriotic Americans who have the valuable skill of speaking Middle Eastern dialects. Why? Because they're gay. And when those soldiers tried to get placed in other branches of the government where their skills are desperately needed -- such as the FBI -- Bush sent them packing.

Bush doesn't care if this endangers national security. For all we know, the Paris address of Osama Bin Laden or info on the next 9-11 or the next 7-7 could be buried in our files untranslated and we wouldn't know. Mind you, these translators go in to work, sit at a cubicle and go home at night, so we're not even talking about combat troops sharing living quarters. Anyone who cared about this country would order the military to let these people serve their country and place our nation's defense ahead of blind hate. And now onto the absurd situation at the FBI that inpsired this rant.

We've known for years that our intelligence units are piling up emails, transcripts from phone conversation taps, letters and literally millions of pieces of info all in Middle Eastern languages few speak and even fewer are learning. And the backlog is growing. Bush's lackeys were grilled by a Senate committee today.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's backlog of untranslated terrorism intelligence doubled last year, and the time it takes the bureau to hire translators has grown longer, officials said Wednesday....

The F.B.I. "has no assurance" that some 8,300 hours of untranslated material does not include information that could be critical to terrorism investigations.

In addition, the bureau told the committee that its long-delayed effort to overhaul its computer system and allow agents to search terrorism files more easily would not be completed until 2009 at the earliest.

Two of the F.B.I.'s most pressing problems - its computer capabilities and its ability to translate terrorism material - have continued to languish, and in some respects have worsened....

The F.B.I. was not the only counterterrorism agency that came under fire at Wednesday's Judiciary Committee hearing.

At the office of John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, a program manager who runs the information sharing environment office - responsible for linking federal, state and local offices to combat terrorism - told the committee that he had only one full-time employee and two contractors, some seven months after the directorate was created.
2009. 2009!! Bush was President when this country suffered the worst attack on our soil from a foreign power in history. And he's going to spend EIGHT YEARS in the White House without even being able to update the computer system of the FBI. How incompetent does Bush have to be before people wake up?

If Bush were President when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he'd still be trying to translate documents and be PLANNING to pump up the military and maybe focus on the war in 1946...after the Nazis had invaded London and the Japanese invaded Hawaii.

REVISED DIG (courtesty of threader cervantes): If Bush were President when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he would have invaded Mexico.

Every day that Bush refuses to put those gay translators back to work is another day Bush endangers our country unnecessarily. When Bush refuses to do EVERYTHING to make this country safer, he is putting our troops, our cities, our harbors and our way of life at greater risk. Read the rest of this post...

Bush flips the press the finger yesterday

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UPDATE: I got a call from the White House, they say Bush was just giving the thumbs up - read about that call here.

So not kidding. This was on Leno last night, among other places. Guess maybe Jesus isn't his favorite philosopher. I have no problem with him flipping the bird to the press, but don't pretend you're holier-than-thou Christian man then start saying "frak you" to the media. This man is no conservative Christian.

Watch the video here:

Read the rest of this post...

More terror arrests in London

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But keep in mind, as the shooting of the innocent Brazilian showed last week, and as our own war on terror has shown, just because the government arrests someone doesn't mean they were involved in the crime. Read the rest of this post...

Third administration official leaked Plame's identity as well

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Oh it just keeps getting better.
In the same week in July 2003 in which Bush administration officials told a syndicated columnist and a Time magazine reporter that a C.I.A. officer had initiated her husband's mission to Niger, an administration official provided a Washington Post reporter with a similar account.

The first two episodes, involving the columnist Robert D. Novak and the reporter Matthew Cooper, have become the subjects of intense scrutiny in recent weeks. But little attention has been paid to what The Post reporter, Walter Pincus, has recently described as a separate exchange on July 12, 2003.

In that exchange, Mr. Pincus says, "an administration official, who was talking to me confidentially about a matter involving alleged Iraqi nuclear activities, veered off the precise matter we were discussing and told me that the White House had not paid attention" to the trip to Niger by Joseph C. Wilson IV "because it was a boondoggle arranged by his wife, an analyst with the agency who was working on weapons of mass destruction."...

Mr. Pincus has not identified his source to the public. But a review of Mr. Pincus's own accounts and those of other people with detailed knowledge of the case strongly suggest that his source was neither Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's top political adviser, nor I. Lewis Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, and was in fact a third administration official whose identity has not yet been publicly disclosed.
So there's a third traitor running around the administrator, perhaps even the White House. Too bad President Bush doesn't care. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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75 degrees! Okay, I'll stop talking about the weather, but it is thrilling Read the rest of this post...

The Bush environmental scam

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I don't know why this article even refers to global warming and Bush together because Bush and the GOP don't believe it exists. Putting that aside, this lame attempt to make people think that Bush actually gives a damn about the environment is pure BS. This is a guy who never saw an oil field that he didn't love and has offered little more than talk when it comes to converting the US from oil to alternative energy sources.

This latest environmental scam which is supposed to complement Kyoto is called a "results oriented partnership" by Bush but when the hell was the last time we ever saw big business, especially the major polluters, do anything voluntarily? Uh huh, I can't think of such a time either. Big business complains about regulations but they simply can't get anything done unless they are forced to do so. Read the rest of this post...

Bush Ignored US Military's Opposition To Torture

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Chickenhawks love to think they're John Wayne tough by saying only wimps oppose torturing prisoners. Well now we know that the US military's own lawyers vehemently opposed the armchair warriors of the White House who wanted to overthrow nearly 100 years of US precedent by ignoring the Geneva Convention and flout international law and everything we hold decent as Americans by torturing prisoners. Yep, our own military made clear that torture is stupid and wrong and it endangers our troops. But does Bush ever listen to his own generals? Of course not.
In memorandums written by several senior uniformed lawyers in each of the military services as the legal review was under way, they had urged a sharply different view and also warned that the position eventually adopted by the task force could endanger American service members....

Rear Adm. Michael F. Lohr, the Navy's chief lawyer, wrote on Feb. 6, 2003, that while detainees at Guantanamo Bay might not qualify for international protections, "Will the American people find we have missed the forest for the trees by condoning practices that, while technically legal, are inconsistent with our most fundamental values?"

Brig. Gen. Kevin M. Sandkuhler, a senior Marine lawyer, said in a Feb. 27, 2003, memorandum that all the military lawyers believed the harsh interrogation regime could have adverse consequences for American service members. General Sandkuhler said that the Justice Department "does not represent the services; thus, understandably, concern for service members is not reflected in their opinion."

Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Romig, the Army's top-ranking uniformed lawyer, said in a March 3, 2003, memorandum that the approach recommended by the Justice Department "will open us up to criticism that the U.S. is a law unto itself."
Yep, Rear Admirals, Brig. Generals and Major Generals all spoke out strongly and consistently against torturing prisoners. Indeed, the entire military spoke with one voice out of concern for damaging our country's core values and for the safety of our men and women who might be captured.

But Bush and Cheney couldn't be bothered to listen to men who had risked their lives defending this country when those two had better things to do. They don't give a damn about the troops. If they did, those men and women would be properly equipped. If they did, Bush and Cheney would listen to their generals and not ignore expert advice about what was best for the safety of our soldiers.

So there's a question for Scotty after beating him up on Rove -- why did Bush ignore the advice of every single branch of the military? Why wasn't Bush worried about the safety of our troops? Does he often ignore the unanimous opinion of his top military leaders?

My only complaint? That no general or major military official has had the bravery to come forward and resign out of disgust with Bush's disregard for the Geneva Convention, the safety of our troops, his incompetence in securing the peace, his refusal to put the boots on the ground needed to get the job done and his lies that dragged the military into an unnecessary war. Read the rest of this post...

Bedtime open thread

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And it's still only 76 out, woo woo Read the rest of this post...

CNN Covers Gay Conversion...Poorly

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The CNN program "Paula Zahn Now" ran an unsatisfying segment tonight on the scam known as gay conversion therapy -- the lie that people can be "changed" from gay to straight. (It's rebroadcast at 2 a.m. if you're interested.) Of course, these scams have proven worthless. Virtually every "success story" trumpeted by the far right (and it's amounted to only a handful) has collapsed within a short time. Indeed, the entire dangerous and damaging idea of conversion therapy was created by two "success stories," two men who later admitted it was all a ridiculous farce, that they were gay and loved each other and have since worked to expose the movement's lies.

You found out virtually none of this in a segment that focused on a young man whose evangelical parents sent him to "straight camp," Love in Action. His story was counterbalanced by the story of another young deeply religious man who went to Love in Action but soon realized he could be faithful and not reject what God had created him as and is now in a happy relationship and worshipping weekly. (Presumably at UU or UCC or MCC or with Episcopalians or any one of the growing houses of worship who are welcoming to gays.)

The problem? Other than these two "paths," the only outside criticism of these radical fringe groups offering pseudo-science and self-loathing to young people came from a quick comment from a psychiatrist who has written a book about homosexuality.

Not a word from the mainstream organizations like the AMA or the APA or countless others that have not only condemned these practices as little more than witch doctoring but made clear they can be extremely damaging to the people involved. Barely a mention that this "camp" is staffed mostly by untrained quacks. Not a word about how anyone connected to them can be censured or kicked out of the APA, etc for potentially doing harm to patients. Not a word from respected medical and psychiatric leaders that there is nothing to "fix" or "cure." Not a word about the man in Florida just on trial for killing his three year old son because he was worried the little child was gay and wanted to beat it out of him.

Heck, the story didn't even seem to realize how pathetically lowered the goals of these groups are. In the past, they pretended people could be cured. Now they're careful not to make that claim -- for the simple fact that they could never produce anyone who had been "cured" that managed to stay "cured" after enjoying their 15 minutes of fame and hefty paychecks from the far right for speaking engagements. Now, all these wackos claim is that people can learn to live with their homosexuality -- that's a far cry from what they pretended was possible even ten years ago.

The nice, polite, well-spoken young man profiled said he thought maybe someday he could have a relationship with a woman, but if he had to be celibate, that was fine too. He even took issue with the question as to whether he was gay -- because he thought EVERYONE was a little queer and that no one was purely straight or gay. And he's mostly banished those temptations from his mind. Mostly. Talk about issues. If he's at peace with himself, good for him. But I'd bet dollars to donuts that in ten years he'll be out and proud or deeply, deeply unhappy. For his sake, I hope it's the former.

"Paula Zahn Now" should have created an accurate story depicting a discredited scam that can do serous harm to young people and which is strongly condemned by major medical and scientific organizations in the country. They should have done a story about a "snake oil cure" that can't even pretend to offer a cure anymore because it's pathetically obvious they've failed at their mission. Instead, they ran a story that -- with minimal editing -- could have appeared on Fox News or The 700 Club. And that isn't a compliment. "Evenhandedness" about a dangerous, discredited scam that can drive children into years of self-loathing and suicide is not good journalism.

ADD: Let me put this in more stark terms. CNN ran a story on a dangerous, abusive and misleading practice condemned strongly by every single reputable health and medical organization in this country. Instead of exposing that practice for the sham it is and the long-term mental health problems in can induce in vulnerable young children who are being told to hate themselves, CNN ran an entire feature that barely paid even lip service to overwhelming medical and scientific opinion towards this claptrap. Imagine running a feature on teens taking steroids and barely bothering to speak to anyone about the health consequences. Apparently, Good Morning America is doing a "conversion" story tomorrow. Let's see if they do any better. Read the rest of this post...

Why does Bill Frist hate the troops?

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Putting aside their much needed money so we can, instead, pass legislation helping the gun lobby.

I guess the guns in the hands of big-money donors are more important to Bill Frist than the guns in the hands of our troops dying in Iraq. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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This open thread is devoted to Brian Vickers. I just watched the Daily Show segment from last night. Wow. Wanna go to Massachusetts, Brian? :-) Read the rest of this post...

John Roberts had a much larger role in the 2000 Florida recount than previously reported

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So, he got the job because he helped Bush get elected. Nice. What is this? The ambassadorship to France? Read the rest of this post...

More DeLay dirty tricks - this time, he's usurped the democratic process to give billions in pork to his friends

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Republicans stand for criminals. That's it. Read the rest of this post...

New GOP talking point: Classified information is okay to leak provided your leak is intended to harm a Democrat

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Wow, that's a hell of a new standard for leaking highly classified national security information.

It's okay to break the law and jeopardize national security in a time of war by leaking highly classified information, so long as your intent was to harm someone you think might have been a Democrat, or might become a Democrat at some time in the future.

More attacks on Valerie Plame from TEAM TREASON. Read the rest of this post...

Temp dropped from 99 to 78, woo woo!!!!!

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It's over!!!!!!!!!! Read the rest of this post...

Bush's Medicare Fiasco: Confusing, Expensive and Failed

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That prescription drug program of Bush's is turning into a real fiasco -- and making Hillary Clinton's plan seem simple in comparison. Here's USA Today's rundown of Bush's pitch to seniors:
Before the morning was out, [senior citizen Myrtle] Anderson heard that some drug discount cards will stay in effect, while others will expire. That seniors who want the drug benefit will have to choose from an array of insurance plans that do not yet exist. That each plan is likely to cover different drugs. That co-payments will start at 25%, rise to 100% and then drop to 5% as seniors' prescription bills mount. That those with low incomes and few assets can get extra help if they fill out a four-page, 16-question application.
Well, now that's cleared up, isn't it? If Myrtle can't understand it, most seniors won't be able to either. The problem is that Bush must get the seniors who don't really need this program to sign up so they can underwrite the seniors who DO need it. But even the seniors who do need it can't figure the darn thing out.

But Vicki DeRuggiero of the US Social Security Administration has a plan.
After her presentation here, DeRuggiero and a half-dozen state and federal officials worked one-on-one with seniors to help determine their eligibility and potential benefits. "I've just found that the personal touch works," she said.
Great. As long as Bush can send a personal adviser to work directly with each and every one of the tens of millions of seniors who are eligible, I'm sure we'll be able to clear this mess up.

And here's an annoying postscript. USA Today wrote this:
If the costs keep rising — the original $400 billion estimate for 2004-13 already has been adjusted to about $720 billion for 2006-15 — the program will greatly increase the federal budget deficit.
Uh, no. Does the MSM have the memory of an ADD child? Bush LIED to Congress about the cost of the program in order to get it passed. He stopped the real numbers from being released because it barely made the cut and if Congress had known the real cost (which is certain to rise dramatically), it never would have passed in the first place. It was a lie and created a scandal when it was uncovered. This should have been reported factually as "Bush misled Congress when originally getting the program passed. He told Congress and the American people it was estimated to cost $400 billion over the first decade when the real cost was dramatically higher -- $720 billion. Even that figure is now clearly much lower than the real cost." Read the rest of this post...

Maybe it's time we got all sponsors to drop FOX News

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Then see how America's Taliban feels about boycotting every TV show that isn't about angels. Yes, they're now after Desperate Housewives. Read the rest of this post...

Once More Into The Breach

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Okay, how about THIS article in The New Yorker. Jeffrey Toobin has a fine piece about one of the first big cases the Supreme Court will face in October. It's about gay rights, in a way, and Judge Roberts would probably be voting with Scalia, Thomas, et al.

In short, it's about the Solomon Amendment -- it demands that any college or university that accepts federal money must allow military recruiters on campus, even if those recruiters violate campus policy and insist on discriminating against the university's students.

The practice of refusing to allow recruiters for businesses on campus when they made clear they would discriminate against blacks or Jews or women began in law schools and was remarkably effective. It didn't end prejudice or discrimination but major companies and law firms that wanted access to the best and the brightest had to end their explicit bans on minorities. This practice really flourished on gay rights. Since the military bans gays from serving openly, they've been banned from many campuses around the country.

So whose rights prevail? The right of the federal government to attach strings to money it gives to universities? Or the right of universities to free speech and the ability to reject hate and discrimination against its students?

Here's my beef. Toobin writes:
Even though the FAIR case is rooted in the law schools’ attempt to address discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the case is not, strictly speaking, about gay rights. It is, rather, a First Amendment case, about whether the Solomon Amendment impinges on the right to freedom of speech at universities, and whether the government has the right to use the leverage of federal aid to insist that the military be treated like other employers.
That's certainly the point of view of the Bush administration:
The theme of the government’s brief in the case, which was filed last week, is equality: the amendment simply puts the government on a level playing field with other potential employers.
But isn't this case about the exact opposite? Bush wants the military treated DIFFERENTLY from every other employer. Every other employer must abide by certain basic university policies and agree not to discriminate against its students. No other employer can walk on campus and say to them, "Don't bring us any black students. We won't hire them." Or behave similarly with women or gays or Jews or Muslims or any other group you can name.

So Bush wants special rights for the military. If the military was treated the same as everyone else, it would be shown the door and told "Thanks but no thanks." Just like everyone else. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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My inner weather geek tells me that that cold front should be here in, oh, about 2 hours, bringing the temps down. Yeah!!!! Read the rest of this post...

Army Recruitment Already Way Behind In 2006

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The Army has already conceded it's going to fall short of its (lowered) goals for 2005. Now USA Today reports the Army is already dramatically behind its goals for 2006.
The pool of recruits who sign up as much as a year before they report for training is dwindling. So far, 3,100 have signed up for 2006, according to Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky. The Army says it hopes to have 7,200 recruits in the pool by Oct. 1, when the 2006 recruiting year begins. By comparison, the Army started the 2005 recruiting year with about 14,700 recruits in the delayed entry pool.
Yeah, right. They're gonna DOUBLE the numer of recruits in the pool in the next nine weeks. Gee, think this shortfall might have something to do with the Army's belief that it can (make that "must") start a major pull-out in spring of 2006. Read the rest of this post...

Great Minds Think Alike?

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Our posting Monday on John Roberts and his connection to the Federalist Society.
How does it feel to know that on the very first issue surrounding this nominee, the White House has either been duped by their guy or knowingly spread disinformation. Perhaps, PERHAPS it is technically true that Roberts never paid dues. But no one could think they were forthcoming or honest. Unless it depends on what your definition of "member" is.

The New York Times editorial on the same issue Tuesday. Their headline? "It Depends On What 'Member' Means."

Thank you Bill Clinton for inspiring an endless stream of jokes. Read the rest of this post...

East Coast Meltdown Open Thread

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It 95 with a heat index of 102 here in Baltimore. Even still, it's a shadow compared to Baghdad where it's 112 today, people are without electricity 12-16 hours a day and have to "resort to sleeping on their roofs to take a break from the sauna-like heat inside their homes, waking up covered in dust."

Open thread, chat away... Read the rest of this post...

My new RADAR article is up: This time about the London bombings, and whether Bush's incompetence played a role

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"...The British public’s ire over the bombings only increased after it was discovered that police had one of the suspects in custody months ago, but released him after determining he posed no threat. No doubt the Brits will be even more pissed once they realize the Bush administration twice botched efforts that could have helped prevent the attack..." Read the rest of this post...

Karl Rove Gets A Raise!

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Weaken national security, out a covert CIA agent, break your pledge not to divulge classified info, lie to the President and/or the American people...and get a raise! Rawstory has the details. What a country! (Thanks to threader Boston Fag in Dallas for pointing us to this.) Read the rest of this post...

Republicans offer $10K to indict Daley

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Never mind that FBI, the Cook County Republican Party is on the case! From AP:
The Cook County Republican Party is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an indictment and conviction of Mayor Richard M. Daley, whose administration has been buffeted by scandal.
Can you imagine if we here at AMERICAblog decided to hold a fundraiser to drum up reward money for putting Rove in jail? Oh how I wonder what they would say to that... Read the rest of this post...

Chalabi is back

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The guy who pumped false information to the US (including the currently jailed Judith Miller) to help jump-start the thirst for war within the wingnut community and who also seemed to be finished last year when the stories broke about feeding Iran secret information, well, he's back. Not only is he back but his friends and family are spread out in the Iraqi government, all holding key positions.

The previous rumors of his skimming don't seem to have had any impact on putting him and his family in positions of controlling money, though perhaps that actually is why they are there. Considering the loose accounting practices going on in Iraq, I suppose this is comes as no real surprise. As Deputy Prime Minister, Chalabi is the chairman of the Iraq energy council which regulates contracts. His nephew is the finance minister.

If the disasters on the ground don't worry you about the chances of success in Iraq, Chalabi and his cronies ought to make everyone very concerned. Read the rest of this post...