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Almost New Years on the east coast

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Checking in from dinner at Joe's. He made a very nice filet mignon, with broiled potatoes and a combination of mushrooms, a great fruit and mozzarella salad, and then homemade carrot cake for dessert. Was quite yummy. We just turned on the TV so Joe can watch Anderson on CNN - apparently, he's hosting their New Year's Eve coverage. (And Anderson is our unofficial blog mascot.)

Anyway, I've never been much of a New Years fan. Feels like kind of a fake holiday to me. So I much prefer the dinner with friends thing.

Ok, well hope you're all having a fun evening wherever you are. I'll check in later when I'm back home. Read the rest of this post...

NYT public editor/ombudsman rips paper over stonewalling on NSA story

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Sunday's NYT
THE New York Times's explanation of its decision to report, after what it said was a one-year delay, that the National Security Agency is eavesdropping domestically without court-approved warrants was woefully inadequate. And I have had unusual difficulty getting a better explanation for readers, despite the paper's repeated pledges of greater transparency.

For the first time since I became public editor, the executive editor and the publisher have declined to respond to my requests for information about news-related decision-making. My queries concerned the timing of the exclusive Dec. 16 article about President Bush's secret decision in the months after 9/11 to authorize the warrantless eavesdropping on Americans in the United States.

I e-mailed a list of 28 questions to Bill Keller, the executive editor, on Dec. 19, three days after the article appeared. He promptly declined to respond to them. I then sent the same questions to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, who also declined to respond. They held out no hope for a fuller explanation in the future.
The mentions his "lingering doubts" about whether and why the NYT appears to have had this story, but refused to publish it, just prior to the 2004 presidential election:
The most obvious and troublesome omission in the explanation was the failure to address whether The Times knew about the eavesdropping operation before the Nov. 2, 2004, presidential election. That point was hard to ignore when the explanation in the article referred rather vaguely to having "delayed publication for a year." To me, this language means the article was fully confirmed and ready to publish a year ago - after perhaps weeks of reporting on the initial tip - and then was delayed.

Mr. Keller dealt directly with the timing of the initial tip in his later statements. The eavesdropping information "first became known to Times reporters" a year ago, he said. These two different descriptions of the article's status in the general vicinity of Election Day last year leave me puzzled.

For me, however, the most obvious question is still this: If no one at The Times was aware of the eavesdropping prior to the election, why wouldn't the paper have been eager to make that clear to readers in the original explanation and avoid that politically charged issue? The paper's silence leaves me with uncomfortable doubts.
Read the rest of this post...

Yeah, Kevin Madden, we all believe you

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John posted the huge story which the Washington Post broke today further linking DeLay and Abramoff. Now, DeLay's spokesperson, Kevin Madden, is defending the integrity of his boss:
A spokesman for embattled Rep. Tom DeLay on Saturday disputed any assertion that donations to a nonprofit group linked to the congressman influenced his legislative agenda.

Those donations, to a now-disbanded nonprofit group called U.S. Family Network, came from interests close to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to a story in Saturday's Washington Post.

In an e-mail, DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden said the donations were not a factor in the congressional activities of the Texas Republican and former House majority leader.
Yeah, right. Now, that would be the same Kevin Madden who misled the press earlier this week about the appeal of DeLay's case in Texas:
Media reports that U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay had convinced the state's highest court to hear his appeal were as widely circulated as they were, well, wrong.

Justices for the Texas Court Criminal Appeals agreed merely to consider hearing DeLay's money laundering case. They never said they would accept the case, said Edward Marty, the court's general counsel.

The erroneous media reports, which the San Antonio Express-News published in a wire story and displayed online, come from DeLay's spokesman, Kevin Madden, in an e-mail sent to reporters Tuesday evening, after courts had closed for the night.

“FYI-Breaking news out of Austin, TX,” the e-mail stated. “The state Court of Criminal Appeals has agreed to hear Mr. DeLay's habeas motion that was filed at the end of last week. The court has set a one-week deadline for briefs to be filed by the parties involved. The court could essentially decide to end Ronnie Earle's prosecution after hearing this motion and the facts presented.”

Madden said this afternoon that he made an error and never intended to “spin” the story.

“In an effort to be instantaneous, I wasn't precise.....My understanding (of the decision) was correct. The way I relayed it wasn't,” he said.
Kevin seems to have accuracy issues with his emails. So, now, when he says his boss isn't a crook, we should believe him, right? Can you imagine even having the job of trying to defend DeLay's integrity...and doing it with a straight face?

The MSM falls for the lies of the GOPers all the time. Just because they say it, doesn't make it true. Read the rest of this post...

Saturday Afternoon Open Thread

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Keep it coming. Read the rest of this post...

Bush to stonewall spying investigation

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So, the Department of Justice is investigating to find out who leaked the illegal spying story, but the Bush White House will work to prevent and impede the Congressional investigation according to the New York Times. If they weren't breaking the law, they'd have nothing to hide:
Though Mr. Bush made no mention of the subject in his radio address, some of his advisers and national security officials say the White House has decided in the past two weeks to take a hard line with Congressional inquiries into Mr. Bush's secret authorization of wiretaps without warrants on suspects within the United States.

The White House's effort to deflect a Congressional investigation into a secret executive order he issued in 2002 authorizing domestic spying follows a strategy Mr. Bush tried - and ultimately retreated from - in the controversies over why he claimed Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium in Africa and what kind of warnings the White House received about Al Qaeda's ambitions before the Sept. 11 attacks. Mr. Bush's aides and intelligence officials say they plan to refuse to offer more details in public on why they believe the technology of the program made it necessary to bypass the secret court designed to authorize wiretapping efforts inside the United States. They are preparing to dispute vigorously and quite publicly the broader legal critique, offered by some Democrats, the American Civil Liberties Union and some Republicans, that the president acted beyond his authority as commander in chief.

"We're not going to shy away from this debate," Mr. Bush's counselor, Dan Bartlett, said on Friday from Washington.

In interviews over the past week, Mr. Bush's aides said they were convinced that Mr. Bush's decision to admit that he authorized the program - and then to say little about its details - will be enough to keep an increasingly fractious Republican majority in line.
Dan Bartlett is clearly lying. They are tyring to prevent any discussion at all about the President's criminal behavior. And, the GOP flunkies on the Hill, who fell over themeselves to impeach Bill Clinton, will try to let it pass. Read the rest of this post...

Rockin' editorial in the Detroit Free Press accuses American Family Association of "bigotry"

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Nice. and this is Ford's hometown paper. Very nice. Sends a great message to the rest fo the auto industry. And while the editorial rocks across the board, one line is particularly brilliant:
boycotts based on bigotry rarely succeed, partly because they prompt protests from those who believe in equality
I've said for a while now that the reason we win these battles is because each of these battles start as "culture wars" and end as "civil rights." And in the end, companies must side in favor of civil rights or they get destroyed by public opinion and the bottom line. AFA will always be on the side of the bigots, and nature abhors a bigot.

Here's a snippet of the editorial
Ford Motor Co. protected its integrity, and bottom line, by telling the American Family Association where to get off this month.

Other companies facing boycotts over which groups they market their products to should learn to keep the bedroom and boardroom separate. It's bad business, and just wrong, to shun customers because of their sexual orientation, race, creed, gender or culture.

That's a lesson the American Family Association has yet to learn....

The group, which touts itself as being pro-family but spends much of its energy venting against homosexuals, has threatened another boycott. But boycotts based on bigotry rarely succeed, partly because they prompt protests from those who believe in equality.

Ford did the right, and smart, thing by not allowing consumers to believe it was bullied into shunning loyal customers to satisfy an organization's prejudices. It set the right example for corporations, customers and citizens.
Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Joe is making New Years Eve dinner for a bunch of us this evening, I suspect that's why he hasn't been updating the blog this morning. Naughty naughty :-) Read the rest of this post...

Trump for Governor of NY?

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An ego that knows no bounds:
Donald Trump is considering running for governor, a leading Republican said Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno on Thursday suggested that a big-name candidate could be flirting with entering the 2006 contest. On Friday, he confirmed to News Channel 10 in Albany that he had been referring to Trump.

Bruno told the station he had spoken to the real estate developer and TV personality about a possible run.
I forgot that he had considered running for President already. NY Governor seems like a step down for him. And, is he conservative enough on the social issues? That'll be interesting to see. Read the rest of this post...

Investigate the real crime first

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The Department of Justice is beginning an investigation into the release of information about the Bush Administration's illegal domestic spying operation. Only in Bush world could DOJ investigate the alleged leak while ignoring the underlying crime. Every time they talk leak, we have to talk about the real crime committed by the President. Fortunately, that drumbeat has started:
Privacy advocates said today that the leak investigation should be set aside, at least for now, in favor of an investigation of the warrantless eavesdropping itself.

"President Bush broke the law and lied to the American people when he unilaterally authorized secret wiretaps of U.S. citizens," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "But rather than focus on this constitutional crisis, Attorney General Gonzales is cracking down on critics of his friend and boss. Our nation is strengthened, not weakened, by those whistle-blowers who are courageous enough to speak out on violations of the law."

Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, said his group believes "the priority at this point for the Department of Justice should be the appointment of an independent prosecutor to determine whether federal wiretap laws were violated" by the National Security Agency program.
The Democrats can't drop the ball on this one. Bush committed a crime. And, he has to take the punishment. The President is not above the law which, you will recall, was the GOP mantra during the Clinton impeachment saga. Read the rest of this post...

Boston Archdiocese playing hardball with new settlements

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When all else fails, go back to the classics. The church always gets confused, thinking that this is their heyday and that they can simply get away with anything. Obviously the Archdiocese of Boston is feeling pretty good about itself these days since they are now taking full advantage of the statute of limitations, moral responsibilities be damned. Their response to the second wave of lawsuits is to get tough with those who dare ask for compensation. I used to think that the new Archbishop O'Malley was a step up in Boston compared to the disgraced (yet still well respected in the Vatican) Law but the more I see from O'Malley, he's just more of the same with his gay bashing and aggressiveness towards victims. The victims of church abuse have little to fight with other than the jury of public opinion so I hope they get some support.

On a positive note, the Archdiocese of Portland had been trying to shed their moral responsibilities by claiming bankruptcy despite property worth millions, received a major hit yesterday by the court. They lost their claim that property was owned by the individual parishes and not the archdiocese. This model has been used across the US in efforts to avoid church fire sales to compensate victims of church abuse.

The moral compass in the church needs some serious repair. Read the rest of this post...

UK freedom of information laws failing miserably

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How do the Labour supporters continue supporting new Labour? Blair is more of a Tory than the Tory Party which explains why Bush loves him so much. It's funny to see that as Blair sits on the right the Conservatives are moving towards the left, or at least the middle. Oh the choices for voters these days.
A year after we were first granted the "right to know", new figures show nine out of 17 government departments have failed to provide adequate answers to half of the requests they received.

Further findings reveal that all but one government department has breached the FOI legislation by failing to answer requests within the 20-day time limit.

While Labour has been happy to release documents embarrassing the previous Tory administration over its handling of "Black Wednesday" - Britain's forced withdrawal from the ERM - ministers have been less willing to let the public use the Act to shed light on Labour's own political controversies.

For example, ministers are still refusing to release earlier drafts of the Attorney General's advice on the legality of the war with Iraq.
Read the rest of this post...

Wash Post big story on Tom Delay and Abramoff - even MORE ties

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I really really really hope the Republicans keep Delay in his leadership post. He's now become the new Newt, the big liability whose name everybody knows.

Bring it on.

Here's the Post article.

(Hat tip to Fired Up America) Read the rest of this post...

Ann Coulter launches racist attack on Kwanzaa

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From Ann's latest article, and it's not really clear why Yahoo gladly re-publishes this racist crap for Coulter:
Kwanzaa bells, dashikis sell

Whitey has to pay;

Burning, shooting, oh what fun

On this made-up holiday!
Burning and shooting. But of course! That's what black people do, you know. They burn things and shoot people, especially on holidays. I hear it's in their genes.

Now I can see why NBC's Matt Lauer gave Ann a pass the other day when she came on the Today Show - nothing controversial about this woman. Read the rest of this post...

German Press reports Bush getting ready to attack Iran

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Should get interesting when 350,000 Irani army members come swarming across the boarder into Iraq as a counterpunch.

This is why you don't start frivolous wars, so you're ready and able to fight the ones that matter. I don't necessarily have a problem taking out Iran's nuclear facilities, but for one itty bitty catch. Iran's army was half a world away, now it's literally on our border (i.e., Iraq).

Like I said, should get interesting. More from Der Spiegel. Read the rest of this post...

Cliff's Corner

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Another of our weekly rants from my friend Cliff (no relation to Flicka)...

The Week That Was 12/30/05

Another week. More preposterousness to report.

This week has been a bit slow. Like a decision by a president to think "real hard" about an August 6th, 2001 warning of an imminent attack by terrorists kinda slow. Largely this is because our great national legislative bodies are in recess, which means Republicans have returned to their home districts to give reach-arounds to corporate chieftains while talking deregulation at their gold-plated circle jerks.

Yet, in a display more sickening than watching Denny Hastert remove his girdle while singing "I Want a Man With a Slow Hand," Hastert’s Heroes in the Republican House cut funding for Medicaid, Medicare and Student Loans while passing another $100 billion in tax cuts, including capital gains and dividend cuts. That’ll teach those damn overtaxed CEOs to stop exporting jobs to 14 year-old girls in Bangalore. (Jobs which they perform dutifully on nights off from Neil Bush.)

Look at how disgraced former TYCO CEO Dennis Kozlowski used his "tax relief" (Frank Luntz just had to go change his pants) for example. For when not pondering how to improve our existence on this planet or personally erecting orphanages, he was still always thinking about how his Bush booty could help the less fortunate. Except for that time he threw that chaste and refined $2 million birthday party for his wife on Sardinia, replete with an ice sculpture of Michelangelo's David that sprinkled vodka out of its arctic penis right into your crystal glass! (I'm not making this up.) Now that’s corporate ingenuity!! And a good use of worker pensions to boot!

So cheer the swelling of corporate funds due to the four more tax cuts for the wealthy just passed by this Republican Congress, before they packed their bags and fluffers for their long corporate jet rides home. Although, in fairness, it could be worse. We could need that money for a war in Iraq (the "War In Error"), to balance an out-of-control budget and rebuild a city on the Gulf. At least we don’t have those petty problems. Yet, if your grandmother had to be tossed from her nursing home in Detroit because Medicare no longer covers the experience, or you encounter Hoovervilles for Tots being set up in aisle six of your local Wal-Mart, at least we now know it was for a good cause.

Speaking of good causes, what could be better than showing our bipartisan inclinations by supporting John McCain’s future ambitions to be President. I mean, c’mon, he’s a moderate, right? He’s gotta be -- the press loves the guy (note: some of us might have even been dumb enough to give him a small campaign contribution in 2000). But just maybe the mainstream media started to cover the Real McCain this week, with two newspapers pointing out what would be obvious if the press wasn’t normally enveloping him in more salivary excretion than a naked picture of Jeff Gannon at a Ken Mehlman cocktail party. McCain is actually Ralph Reed, with the obvious difference being that McCain’s reached puberty.

McCain is anti-choice, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay, pro-Medicaid cuts, anti-separation of church and state and pro-more troops in Iraq. Apparently, opposing the use of Barry Manilow and testicle electrodes as cruel and inhuman punishment while also thinking a 14 year-old wearing a Hamas arm band shouldn’t have access to a modified Uzi at a gun show qualifies one as a "moderate Republican" these days. I guess compared to the intellectually mummified miscreants running his party, he does almost seem sane.

Additionally, and how do we put this gently... McCain is a liar.

I guess we didn’t know that when he called himself a "straight talker" in 2000 he meant straight out of his rectum. McCain met with Jerry Falwell recently - you know, the guy McCain called an agent of extremism in 2000, who now seems more giddy about a McCain run for President than John Gibson after nailing himself to a cross to watch The Passion of the Christ. Wonder what promises were made there, Johnny? Dominionism?

Finally, in the most inane of the McCain Chronicles, he said this past week that students, yes students, should decide whether they should be taught intelligent design as part of their science curriculum. Well I have an idea. Let’s give those same students Apache Helicopters and Molotov cocktails and let them decide if they want to play a more intense version of Grand Theft Auto? How about we let ‘em decide if they want to cook up crystal meth in Home Ec.? The Pam Anderson/Tommy Lee honeymoon DVD for homeroom, anyone?

And last but not least, when speaking of inanity, we have Mr. Mission Accomplished, Bush the Bulge (now Peggy Noonan has to change), our humble president. To explain his propensity for listening into our phone conversations with those strange and exotic people called fur’ners (I know, some of them even use chopsticks - have they no God?), Bush now claims that his snooping is "designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings, and churches." Or in other words, Bush’s base. Yet, It still somehow doesn’t explain why he couldn’t get wiretaps approved by FISA Courts (courts created specifically for counterintelligence) 72 hours after commencing his peeping Tom (DeLay) act, like every other president, for those known blower-uppers of commuter trains. At least you stuck it to some of those bastards, Mr. President, by cutting their damn Medicaid funding. Read the rest of this post...

If leaking classified info is such a big deal, then when is Karl Rove being fired?

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Seriously. When is Karl being fired? Or is it only a crime to leak classified information when said information proves that Bush is committing a felony? Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Three more weeks till Sci-Fi Friday returns... Read the rest of this post...

Religious right says copy of pro- lesbian parenting book "Heather Has Two Mommies" should be taught in every school

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Ok, they didn't really say that de jure, but they did say it de facto. Let me explain.

America's Taliban thinks that any effort to stop teachers from talking about creationism in science class is "educational censorship." Okay, great. Then I assume they don't mind every grade school and high school teacher in the country telling their students that many people, including all the top scientific organizations and a number of mainstream religions like Reform Judaism, think being gay is 100% a-okay.

Anything less would be educational censorship. Don't you agree?

I'm serious. If the intelligent design debate is going on in your school district, then put forward a proposal that all the health classes, social studies classes, science classes, and any other class that even vaguely touches on marriage, human relationships, sex ed, or sexual reproduction in humans or animals teaches that the preponderance of scientific research says that being gay is genetic, normal and healthy, but that some people disagree.

Here are a few choice quotes from the wackos to use against them:
It is simply "healthy education," he contends, to teach students about the controversy....

The Christian educators' advocate insists that government has no business banning viewpoints in the classroom. He says Judge Jones "needs to heed Dover's recommendation to be open minded" and to allow all the available science to speak for itself....

"If the educational community had held this position earlier in our culture, we might still be teaching students that the earth is flat or that the sun revolves around the Earth," Laursen asserts. "But as new theories developed, the logical place to debate these things and discuss these things and study these things was and is in the educational community."....

He considers the recent court decision banning the mention of intelligent design in the Dover schools to be a serious blow to academic freedom as well as a case where "[y]et another activist judge has forced personal prejudices on the educational community."

Nevertheless, Laursen promises, CEAI will continue to encourage its members to "teach all the science available in the 21st century, whether it supports evolution or not." He says the group will also go on urging teachers to bring supplemental science data and information beyond the mandated curricula into their classrooms.
Every single one of those quotes is in favor of teaching children about the controversy of gay rights, gay marriage, and gay relationships. And I am 150% in favor of teachers explaining that some religions and some quack scientists think being gay is wrong, and that the majority of science, all the top scientific professional organizations, and several mainstream religions say being gay is 100% natural, normal and health. Read the rest of this post...

Why did the NSA Web site JUST put a cookie on my computer?

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Someone emailed me today, suggesting that NSA might still be putting cookies on visitors' computers even AFTER they said they'd stopped (because it's illegal). So I looked into my cookie folder, saw a few from NSA (that could have been from the other day before they said they'd stop), so I deleted them. I then looked in the folder, the cookies were gone. I then revisited the NSA Web site, opened up my cookie folder, and voila, there they were again, set to expire in 2035.

I took a screen capture, which you can see below. Interestingly, I deleted those cookies and now am trying again and am NOT getting the cookies. Very fishy.

PS I've deleted some of the identifying info for the cookie because I really don't need to be telling the NSA which cookie is mine, not that they don't already know. Read the rest of this post...

The Klan protesting marriage rights for gays in Iowa

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Lovely company for the wingnuts. Read the rest of this post...

Dept. of Justice investigating domestic spying leak

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Frauds. Because leaking damaging information during wartime is such an anathema to the Bush Administration:
The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the leak of classified information about President Bush's secret domestic spying program, Justice officials said Friday.

The officials, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe, said the inquiry will focus on disclosures to The New York Times about warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Read the rest of this post...

A year in the life of W.

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Okay, with this Times Select thing, we haven't been able to link to some of the best commentary....I've pretty much given up on using them, especially since they are essentially unlinkable (if that's a word). But today, Paul Krugman has a column "Heck of a Job, Bushie" that shouldn't be missed. It's the year of Bush failures in review. The final paragraph captures so much:
A year ago, we didn't know for sure that almost all the politicians and pundits who thundered, during the Lewinsky affair, that even the president isn't above the law have changed their minds. But now we know when it comes to presidents who break the law, it's O.K. if you're a Republican.
That sets the stage for 2006. Read the rest of this post...

Friday Morning Open Thread

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I'm back in DC. Drove here from Maine yesterday -- which is one long, long ride, but worth it so I can bring my trusty sidekick, Boomer, with me.

Seems like it has been a slow news week. Did I miss anything? Read the rest of this post...

NSA crosses the line again

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This time the problem is that they were using cookies on their site that did not expire until 2035, a clear violation of US government law. And their response? In an "oops, the dog ate my homework" kind of way, they claim that it was related to a software upgrade. Uhhh, how's that? Putting anything new into a government software system, especially at the likes of NSA, is not an easy process and requires plenty of testing and you have to follow multiple steps that are all highly regulated so that problems like this do not happen. What a cheap excuse by the NSA. Cookies are not necessary a big problem but it's the lies and the violation of US law that bothers me. We have laws in place for a reason.

The reality here is that spying on citizens is a serious problem and the trouble starts at the top. What ever happened to the land of the free and why is the US becoming more and more like a dictatorship? Read the rest of this post...

Anybody want to buy AMERICAblog an ad?

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I'm only half-joking. This is way cool. Kid in England selling ad space on one page for 5 years, he's made a million bucks. But even weirder, the page is actually getting massive hits for the advertisers. So, I was thinking, anyone want to buy some ad space for AMERICAblog? If so, go for it - but be forewarned, it ain't chip.

Read about this here.

And check out the kid's site here.

And if the spirit moves you, buy AMERICAblog an ad here. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Another late night. Joe will pick up the slack in the AM, and we may even hear from Chris in Paris in a few... Read the rest of this post...

Confidential British memos show how information procured by torture in Uzbekistan is being used by US and UK, in violation of international law

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Markos has the story, and I'm repeating the gist of it here to help get it out there. Feel free to copy and past this entire post on your blog.

Basically, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, is livid about the fact that the US and the British governments have been gladly accepting information from Uzbekistan procured by torture. You may remember that Amb. Murray was none too pleased with the horrendous human rights situation in Uzbekistan - the country is one of the most repressive on the planet - and as a result the Tony Blair, most likely with some US nudging, had Amb. Murray removed from his job. (You can read a chilling speech by Ambassador Murray detailing the Soviet police state that we are supporting in Uzbekistan.)

Well, today Ambassador Murray gets his revenge.

Amb. Murray has published a number of confidential British government documents proving that the US and the UK were conding torture in that abominable country. Tony Blair is now striking back, pulling down Amb. Murray's Web site. UK bloggers responded by doing a coordinated leak to get the documents out to the public. Markos has republished the docs to make sure they remain public, and I'm doing the same below.

Our government is sanctioning and benefiting from torture in one of the most repressive regimes in the world. A regime that we openly embraced after September 11. A regime that many of you will recall was torturing gay journalist and human rights advocate Ruslan Sharipov (the Uzbek government arrested Ruslan for being a human rights advocate, then, after beating him, threatened to rape him with a bottle and inject him with AIDS). These are the people that George Bush has buddied up to to fight this honorable war. The worst governments on the planet - people who make the Soviets look downright nice.

And who else do you think personally was sucking up to the Uzbek dictator just a couple of years ago? Donald Rumsfeld. The same man who sucked up to Saddam Hussein before we decided he was evil.

This is not America.
UK Torture Memos


The first document contains the text of several telegrams that Craig Murray sent back to London from 2002 to 2004, warning that the information being passed on by the Uzbek security services was torture-tainted, and challenging MI6 claims that the information was nonetheless "useful".

The second document is the text of a legal opinion from the Foreign Office's Michael Wood, arguing that the use by intelligence services of information extracted through torture does not constitute a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture.

Craig Murray says:

In March 2003 I was summoned back to London from Tashkent specifically for a meeting at which I was told to stop protesting. I was told specifically that it was perfectly legal for us to obtain and to use intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers.

After this meeting Sir Michael Wood, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's legal adviser, wrote to confirm this position. This minute from Michael Wood is perhaps the most important document that has become public about extraordinary rendition. It is irrefutable evidence of the government's use of torture material, and that I was attempting to stop it. It is no wonder that the government is trying to suppress this.

First document: Confidential letters from Uzbekistan

Letter #1
FM Tashkent
TO FCO, Cabinet Office, DFID, MODUK, OSCE Posts, Security Council Posts

16 September 02

SUBJECT: US/Uzbekistan: Promoting Terrorism

US plays down human rights situation in Uzbekistan. A dangerous policy: increasing repression combined with poverty will promote Islamic terrorism. Support to Karimov regime a bankrupt and cynical policy.


The Economist of 7 September states: "Uzbekistan, in particular, has jailed many thousands of moderate Islamists, an excellent way of converting their families and friends to extremism." The Economist also spoke of "the growing despotism of Mr Karimov" and judged that "the past year has seen a further deterioration of an already grim human rights record". I agree.

Between 7,000 and 10,000 political and religious prisoners are currently detained, many after trials before kangaroo courts with no representation. Terrible torture is commonplace: the EU is currently considering a demarche over the terrible case of two Muslims tortured to death in jail apparently with boiling water. Two leading dissidents, Elena Urlaeva and Larissa Vdovna, were two weeks ago committed to a lunatic asylum, where they are being drugged, for demonstrating on human rights. Opposition political parties remain banned. There is no doubt that September 11 gave the pretext to crack down still harder on dissent under the guise of counter-terrorism.
Yet on 8 September the US State Department certified that Uzbekistan was improving in both human rights and democracy, thus fulfilling a constitutional requirement and allowing the continuing disbursement of $140 million of US aid to Uzbekistan this year. Human Rights Watch immediately published a commendably sober and balanced rebuttal of the State Department claim.

Again we are back in the area of the US accepting sham reform [a reference to my previous telegram on the economy]. In August media censorship was abolished, and theoretically there are independent media outlets, but in practice there is absolutely no criticism of President Karimov or the central government in any Uzbek media. State Department call this self-censorship: I am not sure that is a fair way to describe an unwillingness to experience the brutal methods of the security services.

Similarly, following US pressure when Karimov visited Washington, a human rights NGO has been permitted to register. This is an advance, but they have little impact given that no media are prepared to cover any of their activities or carry any of their statements.
The final improvement State quote is that in one case of murder of a prisoner the police involved have been prosecuted. That is an improvement, but again related to the Karimov visit and does not appear to presage a general change of policy. On the latest cases of torture deaths the Uzbeks have given the OSCE an incredible explanation, given the nature of the injuries, that the victims died in a fight between prisoners.

But allowing a single NGO, a token prosecution of police officers and a fake press freedom cannot possibly outweigh the huge scale of detentions, the torture and the secret executions. President Karimov has admitted to 100 executions a year but human rights groups believe there are more. Added to this, all opposition parties remain banned (the President got a 98% vote) and the Internet is strictly controlled. All Internet providers must go through a single government server and access is barred to many sites including all dissident and opposition sites and much international media (including, ironically, This is in essence still a totalitarian state: there is far less freedom than still prevails, for example, in Mugabe's Zimbabwe. A Movement for Democratic Change or any judicial independence would be impossible here.

Karimov is a dictator who is committed to neither political nor economic reform. The purpose of his regime is not the development of his country but the diversion of economic rent to his oligarchic supporters through government controls. As a senior Uzbek academic told me privately, there is more repression here now than in Brezhnev's time. The US are trying to prop up Karimov economically and to justify this support they need to claim that a process of economic and political reform is underway. That they do so claim is either cynicism or self-delusion.

This policy is doomed to failure. Karimov is driving this resource-rich country towards economic ruin like an Abacha. And the policy of increasing repression aimed indiscriminately at pious Muslims, combined with a deepening poverty, is the most certain way to ensure continuing support for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. They have certainly been decimated and disorganised in Afghanistan, and Karimov's repression may keep the lid on for years – but pressure is building and could ultimately explode.

I quite understand the interest of the US in strategic airbases and why they back Karimov, but I believe US policy is misconceived. In the short term it may help fight terrorism but in the medium term it will promote it, as the Economist points out. And it can never be right to lower our standards on human rights. There is a complex situation in Central Asia and it is wrong to look at it only through a prism picked up on September 12. Worst of all is what appears to be the philosophy underlying the current US view of Uzbekistan: that September 11 divided the World into two camps in the "War against Terrorism" and that Karimov is on "our" side.

If Karimov is on "our" side, then this war cannot be simply between the forces of good and evil. It must be about more complex things, like securing the long-term US military presence in Uzbekistan. I silently wept at the 11 September commemoration here. The right words on New York have all been said. But last week was also another anniversary – the US-led overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile. The subsequent dictatorship killed, dare I say it, rather more people than died on September 11. Should we not remember then also, and learn from that too? I fear that we are heading down the same path of US-sponsored dictatorship here. It is ironic that the beneficiary is perhaps the most unreformed of the World's old communist leaders.
We need to think much more deeply about Central Asia. It is easy to place Uzbekistan in the "too difficult" tray and let the US run with it, but I think they are running in the wrong direction. We should tell them of the dangers we see. Our policy is theoretically one of engagement, but in practice this has not meant much. Engagement makes sense, but it must mean grappling with the problems, not mute collaboration. We need to start actively to state a distinctive position on democracy and human rights, and press for a realistic view to be taken in the IMF. We should continue to resist pressures to start a bilateral DFID programme, unless channelled non-governmentally, and not restore ECGD cover despite the constant lobbying. We should not invite Karimov to the UK. We should step up our public diplomacy effort, stressing democratic values, including more resources from the British Council. We should increase support to human rights activists, and strive for contact with non-official Islamic groups.

Above all we need to care about the 22 million Uzbek people, suffering from poverty and lack of freedom. They are not just pawns in the new Great Game.


Letter #2
Fm Tashkent

18 March 2003


1. As seen from Tashkent, US policy is not much focussed on democracy or freedom. It is about oil, gas and hegemony. In Uzbekistan the US pursues those ends through supporting a ruthless dictatorship. We must not close our eyes to uncomfortable truth.


2. Last year the US gave half a billion dollars in aid to Uzbekistan, about a quarter of it military aid. Bush and Powell repeatedly hail Karimov as a friend and ally. Yet this regime has at least seven thousand prisoners of conscience; it is a one party state without freedom of speech, without freedom of media, without freedom of movement, without freedom of assembly, without freedom of religion. It practices, systematically, the most hideous tortures on thousands. Most of the population live in conditions precisely analogous with medieval serfdom.

3. Uzbekistan's geo-strategic position is crucial. It has half the population of the whole of Central Asia. It alone borders all the other states in a region which is important to future Western oil and gas supplies. It is the regional military power. That is why the US is here, and here to stay. Contractors at the US military bases are extending the design life of the buildings from ten to twenty five years.

4. Democracy and human rights are, despite their protestations to the contrary, in practice a long way down the US agenda here. Aid this year will be slightly less, but there is no intention to introduce any meaningful conditionality. Nobody can believe this level of aid – more than US aid to all of West Africa – is related to comparative developmental need as opposed to political support for Karimov. While the US makes token and low-level references to human rights to appease domestic opinion, they view Karimov's vicious regime as a bastion against fundamentalism. He – and they – are in fact creating fundamentalism. When the US gives this much support to a regime that tortures people to death for having a beard or praying five times a day, is it any surprise that Muslims come to hate the West?

5. I was stunned to hear that the US had pressured the EU to withdraw a motion on Human Rights in Uzbekistan which the EU was tabling at the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva. I was most unhappy to find that we are helping the US in what I can only call this cover-up. I am saddened when the US constantly quote fake improvements in human rights in Uzbekistan, such as the abolition of censorship and Internet freedom, which quite simply have not happened (I see these are quoted in the draft EBRD strategy for Uzbekistan, again I understand at American urging).

6. From Tashkent it is difficult to agree that we and the US are activated by shared values. Here we have a brutal US sponsored dictatorship reminiscent of Central and South American policy under previous US Republican administrations. I watched George Bush talk today of Iraq and "dismantling the apparatus of terror… removing the torture chambers and the rape rooms". Yet when it comes to the Karimov regime, systematic torture and rape appear to be treated as peccadilloes, not to affect the relationship and to be downplayed in international fora. Double standards? Yes.

7. I hope that once the present crisis is over we will make plain to the US, at senior level, our serious concern over their policy in Uzbekistan.

Letter #3


OF 220939 JULY 04




1. We receive intelligence obtained under torture from the Uzbek intelligence services, via the US. We should stop. It is bad information anyway. Tortured dupes are forced to sign up to confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the US and UK to believe, that they and we are fighting the same war against terror.

2. I gather a recent London interdepartmental meeting considered the question and decided to continue to receive the material. This is morally, legally and practically wrong. It exposes as hypocritical our post Abu Ghraib pronouncements and fatally undermines our moral standing. It obviates my efforts to get the Uzbek government to stop torture they are fully aware our intelligence community laps up the results.

3. We should cease all co-operation with the Uzbek Security Services they are beyond the pale. We indeed need to establish an SIS presence here, but not as in a friendly state.


4. In the period December 2002 to March 2003 I raised several times the issue of intelligence material from the Uzbek security services which was obtained under torture and passed to us via the CIA. I queried the legality, efficacy and morality of the practice.

5. I was summoned to the UK for a meeting on 8 March 2003. Michael Wood gave his legal opinion that it was not illegal to obtain and to use intelligence acquired by torture. He said the only legal limitation on its use was that it could not be used in legal proceedings, under Article 15 of the UN Convention on Torture.

6. On behalf of the intelligence services, Matthew Kydd said that they found some of the material very useful indeed with a direct bearing on the war on terror. Linda Duffield said that she had been asked to assure me that my qualms of conscience were respected and understood.

7. Sir Michael Jay's circular of 26 May stated that there was a reporting obligation on us to report torture by allies (and I have been instructed to refer to Uzbekistan as such in the context of the war on terror). You, Sir, have made a number of striking, and I believe heartfelt, condemnations of torture in the last few weeks. I had in the light of this decided to return to this question and to highlight an apparent contradiction in our policy. I had intimated as much to the Head of Eastern Department.

8. I was therefore somewhat surprised to hear that without informing me of the meeting, or since informing me of the result of the meeting, a meeting was convened in the FCO at the level of Heads of Department and above, precisely to consider the question of the receipt of Uzbek intelligence material obtained under torture. As the office knew, I was in London at the time and perfectly able to attend the meeting. I still have only gleaned that it happened.

9. I understand that the meeting decided to continue to obtain the Uzbek torture material. I understand that the principal argument deployed was that the intelligence material disguises the precise source, ie it does not ordinarily reveal the name of the individual who is tortured. Indeed this is true – the material is marked with a euphemism such as "From detainee debriefing." The argument runs that if the individual is not named, we cannot prove that he was tortured.

10. I will not attempt to hide my utter contempt for such casuistry, nor my shame that I work in and organisation where colleagues would resort to it to justify torture. I have dealt with hundreds of individual cases of political or religious prisoners in Uzbekistan, and I have met with very few where torture, as defined in the UN convention, was not employed. When my then DHM raised the question with the CIA head of station 15 months ago, he readily acknowledged torture was deployed in obtaining intelligence. I do not think there is any doubt as to the fact

11. The torture record of the Uzbek security services could hardly be more widely known. Plainly there are, at the very least, reasonable grounds for believing the material is obtained under torture. There is helpful guidance at Article 3 of the UN Convention;
"The competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the state concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights." While this article forbids extradition or deportation to Uzbekistan, it is the right test for the present question also.

12. On the usefulness of the material obtained, this is irrelevant. Article 2 of the Convention, to which we are a party, could not be plainer:

"No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

13. Nonetheless, I repeat that this material is useless – we are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful. It is designed to give the message the Uzbeks want the West to hear. It exaggerates the role, size, organisation and activity of the IMU and its links with Al Qaida. The aim is to convince the West that the Uzbeks are a vital cog against a common foe, that they should keep the assistance, especially military assistance, coming, and that they should mute the international criticism on human rights and economic reform.

14. I was taken aback when Matthew Kydd said this stuff was valuable. Sixteen months ago it was difficult to argue with SIS in the area of intelligence assessment. But post Butler we know, not only that they can get it wrong on even the most vital and high profile issues, but that they have a particular yen for highly coloured material which exaggerates the threat. That is precisely what the Uzbeks give them. Furthermore MI6 have no operative within a thousand miles of me and certainly no expertise that can come close to my own in making this assessment.

15. At the Khuderbegainov trial I met an old man from Andizhan. Two of his children had been tortured in front of him until he signed a confession on the family's links with Bin Laden. Tears were streaming down his face. I have no doubt they had as much connection with Bin Laden as I do. This is the standard of the Uzbek intelligence services.

16. I have been considering Michael Wood's legal view, which he kindly gave in writing. I cannot understand why Michael concentrated only on Article 15 of the Convention. This certainly bans the use of material obtained under torture as evidence in proceedings, but it does not state that this is the sole exclusion of the use of such material.

17. The relevant article seems to me Article 4, which talks of complicity in torture. Knowingly to receive its results appears to be at least arguable as complicity. It does not appear that being in a different country to the actual torture would preclude complicity. I talked this over in a hypothetical sense with my old friend Prof Francois Hampson, I believe an acknowledged World authority on the Convention, who said that the complicity argument and the spirit of the Convention would be likely to be winning points. I should be grateful to hear Michael's views on this.

18. It seems to me that there are degrees of complicity and guilt, but being at one or two removes does not make us blameless. There are other factors. Plainly it was a breach of Article 3 of the Convention for the coalition to deport detainees back here from Baghram, but it has been done. That seems plainly complicit.

19. This is a difficult and dangerous part of the World. Dire and increasing poverty and harsh repression are undoubtedly turning young people here towards radical Islam. The Uzbek government are thus creating this threat, and perceived US support for Karimov strengthens anti-Western feeling. SIS ought to establish a presence here, but not as partners of the Uzbek Security Services, whose sheer brutality puts them beyond the pale.


Second Document - summary of legal opinion from Michael Wood arguing that it is legal to use information extracted under torture:

From: Michael Wood, Legal Advisor

Date: 13 March 2003

CC: PS/PUS; Matthew Kidd, WLD

Linda Duffield


1. Your record of our meeting with HMA Tashkent recorded that Craig had said that his understanding was that it was also an offence under the UN Convention on Torture to receive or possess information under torture. I said that I did not believe that this was the case, but undertook to re-read the Convention.

2. I have done so. There is nothing in the Convention to this effect. The nearest thing is article 15 which provides:

"Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made."

3. This does not create any offence. I would expect that under UK law any statement established to have been made as a result of torture would not be admissible as evidence.


M C Wood
Legal Adviser
Read the rest of this post...

Back from "Kong"

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I liked it a lot.

Granted, it's a bit of a Jurassic Park meets Superman (the original TV show) meets Brokeback Mountain, but it was really good. It's long as hell, 3 hours, but I didn't really notice. The acting was great, the lead actress was really good, no clue who she is, and Kong was amazing. Special effects rock. I didn't appreciate the sequences that reminded me of Jurassic Park - they're very well done, VERY well done, but still, I've seen that movie already, thanks.

Anyway, I thought it was an EXCELLENT film, a keeper. See it.

PS It can be a bit gory and violent and borders on a really scary horror flick at times, just FYI. Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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How many times has George Bush violated your 4th Amendment constitutional rights today? Read the rest of this post...

I'm heading out to see Kong

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I have a massive headache after an hour of playing with the Powerbook. Jesus, this is worse than my first week at law school. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Starting up the Mac now. Read the rest of this post...

Norah O'Donnell are YOU a Republican?

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Enough already.

It's sloppy biased journalists who got us into this debacle in Iraq, who let Bush and Cheney lie to the country repeatedly, without a single challenge. Now they're accusing critics of this entirely botched war on terror of being Democrats - i.e., that's code for being an Osama-loving soft-on-defense knee-jerk fag-loving liberal.

This is MSNBC's O'Donnell interviewing a former CIA agent who is critical of Bush's non-existent hunt for Osama:
O'DONNELL: So, Gary, you say that you knew where Osama bin Laden was and the president says he was in a cave with a door on it.

BERNTSEN: Well, let me say this. We tracked bin Laden with our reporting from Kabul, down to Nangarhar Province, into Jalalbad, down into the mountains. We had a steady stream. But, you know, every once in a while you get a report that says he's off, you know, in left field.

Here at this place or that place, but when you get a line of reporting, a stream of it, and we're marking it on a map, we can see consistently, you know, which way he's moving and from multiple sources. And then, of course, we were listening to his voice on an unencrypted radio.

O'DONNELL: Can I ask you, Gary, are you a Democrat?

BERNTSEN: No, I'm a Republican. And I'm a loyal supporter of the president and I think the president is doing a good job in the fight on terrorism.
What kind of a question is that?

And Norah, next time you interview a mom who's murdered her three young children, be sure to ask her "are you a Republican?" Read the rest of this post...

Is there a good smaller blog you think we should know about?

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I did this once before and got a great response, so I'm doing it again.

In the comments, please post a link to a blog that you think we should all know about, and tell us a little about the blog, why you like it, etc.

Obviously, I'm not looking for suggestions to go visit Atrios and DKos, but rather, mention a blog that you think a lot of us might not know about and should. Last time this was a great way to generate some traffic for a lot of lesser-known blogs and at the same time fill us in on what other good stuff is out there.

Thanks, JOHN Read the rest of this post...

New ACLU ads

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Ad 1:

Ad 2:

(Hat tip to Bring It On) Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Go ahead. Just say it. Read the rest of this post...

The Lying GOPers

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Atrios asks: When will reporters learn that Republicans lie? This time, it's about DeLay again. He didn't win in the Texas court after all. Just that his press guy said he did.

A thought for the MSM: Just because a Republican says it, doesn't make it true. That holds for Bush, Rove, DeLay, their press flacks...all of them. Read the rest of this post...

Bush wants his swagger back

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And the Washington Post was obviously spoon fed "background" material on just how that's happening. Funny, how Dan Bartlett is the hero of this saga -- and Karl Rove doesn't come off so well. Makes one wonder who gave the Post such great spin:
President Bush shifted his rhetoric on Iraq in recent weeks after an intense debate among advisers about how to pull out of his political free fall, with senior adviser Karl Rove urging a campaign-style attack on critics while younger aides pushed for more candor about setbacks in the war, according to Republican strategists.

The result was a hybrid of the two approaches as Bush lashed out at war opponents in Congress, then turned to a humbler assessment of events on the ground in Iraq that included admissions about how some of his expectations had been frustrated. The formula helped Bush regain his political footing as record-low poll numbers began to rebound. Now his team is rethinking its approach to his second term in hopes of salvaging it.

The Iraq push culminated the rockiest political year of this presidency, which included the demise of signature domestic priorities, the indictment of the vice president's top aide, the collapse of a Supreme Court nomination, a fumbled response to a natural disaster and a rising death toll in an increasingly unpopular war. It was not until Bush opened a fresh campaign to reassure the public on Iraq that he regained some traction.
This article is also based on the Post believing it's own polling about the President's approval rating. While the Post poll had Bush rising eight points to 47%, it was the outlier. Most of the other polls, which Mystery Pollster has compiled, kept the President in the high 30s/low 40s. But, hey, they're the Post. Read the rest of this post...

SBA study confirms previous AP study regarding 9/11 loans

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Many companies receiving the special loans to help businesses that were negatively impacted by 9/11 did not know their loans were related to the special September 11 fund, but why would they since the issue was rarely raised during the loan process? The SBA's Inspector General report says that 85% of the loans handed out failed to document that the recipients were impacted by 9/11. Meanwhile, many NY businesses that had legitimate claims either received considerably less money than expected or nothing at all.

Why bother creating a special loan fund if that is only window dressing and an excuse for handing out cash? Uh huh, the GOP is the party of fiscal conservatives whereas the Democrats are big spenders, handing out cash to everyone who asks. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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I'm heading to bed soon Read the rest of this post...

Brokeback Mountain continues to pick up steam

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I believe it was FOX News last week that predicted the movie would be crushed LAST weekend. I'm sure you'll be surprised to hear that FOX News was wrong.

More on just how well the movie is doing, here. Read the rest of this post...

16 year old gay activist starts a blog

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16 years old. How cool is that?

We've won the culture war when 16 year olds are coming out and becoming activists. It's only a matter of time. Read the rest of this post...

Henry the Cat to be on CNN Thursday

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I just received the following email from my friend Henry, a cat:
Mom got a call from CNN this morning and they wanted to "book" me and her on at 8:45 am ( western time 11:45 eastern time) tomorrow Thursday the 29th of Dec. Mom had to explain that I am a terrible car rider. Three hours to LA and I would either be such a squirrel that Mom couldn't talk about me or she would medicate me enough that I would look like a dead cat. None of those seemed like a good options. I am not meant to be on Live TV. Truth be known, Mom hates it too but she can fake it and won't run away.

The solution they came up with is that they will call Mom and someone named Kaegan will talk to her and their art department will show cool pictures of me. Mom won't be able to see it because she will be blabbing. If any of you can tape it that would be great. Neither of my Moms seemed to have learned that skill. You would think with two front paws each they could figure it out. I don't understand technology.

I hope she does well and people who are listening to CNN will like me and my story. We shall see. They only do about three minutes max. Mom talks fast but a lot depends on what the lady asks. Just wanted to let you all know. Mom says it might by "my break" whatever that means. If it gets my book out this will be a good thing. She sent them the story of how me and my friends are reuniting Dr. Jo with her cats tomorrow.

Take care,

Henry (the cat)
Actually, this really is an interesting story, read more about Henry here. Read the rest of this post...

Evil anti-gay quack is dead

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Good riddance. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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What's up?

PS Funny. Read the rest of this post...

New domestic spying poll numbers are very bad for Bush

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Some right-wingers have been crowing over a new poll that shows:
Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 23% disagree.
I've got news for you. That's an abysmally low number for Bush.

Even I would probably approve of the NSA listening in on phone calls between suspected terrorists and "people living in the US" - notice the survey question didn't even say "Americans," it said "people living in the US," a description that would get EVEN MORE support for spying (i.e., people are more apt to approve NSA spying on foreigners in the US rather than US citizens in the US).

That number should have been in the 90 percentile and up, Americans who support the NSA eavesdropping on conversations with suspected terrorists. Yet it was only in the low 60s. Something's up.

And may I also add that the poll question has nothing to do with the current scandal. It says nothing about whether the administration should be able to break the law in doing such eavesdropping, nor whether the administration should be permitted to do such eavesdropping without having first obtained a court order. Again, each of those added facts would presumably lower the poll number considerably.

Again, that number should have been in the 90s. The fact that only 6 out of 10 Americans are willing to agree to such a broad question, to me, says that Bush is not on solid ground on this issue at all. Read the rest of this post...

Bob Barr on Bush: "Appears to be a clear violation of federal electronic monitoring laws"

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Bob Barr is a very conservative Republican former congressman. This is his op ed in the AJC:
Two of the most powerful moments of political déjà vu I have ever experienced took place recently in the context of the Bush administration's defense of presidentially ordered electronic spying on American citizens.

First, in the best tradition of former President Bill Clinton's classic, "it-all-depends-on-what-the-meaning-of-is-is" defense, President Bush responded to a question at a White House news conference about what now appears to be a clear violation of federal electronic monitoring laws by trying to argue that he had not ordered the National Security Agency to "monitor" phone and e-mail communications of American citizens without court order; he had merely ordered them to "detect" improper communications.

This example of presidential phrase parsing was followed quickly by the president's press secretary, Scott McLellan, dead-panning to reporters that when Bush said a couple of years ago that he would never allow the NSA to monitor Americans without a court order, what he really meant was something different than what he actually said. If McLellan's last name had been McCurry, and the topic an illicit relationship with a White House intern rather than illegal spying on American citizens, I could have easily been listening to a White House news conference at the height of the Clinton impeachment scandal.
Read the rest of this post...

Bush's Homeland Security Department that doesn't do Homeland Security

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Not that anything will change, but at least the Democrats are trying to provide some oversight. It's not like the Dept. of Homeland Security has a vital mission:
A report released Tuesday by 13 members of the House Homeland Security Committee says that nearly three years after the cabinet department's creation, gaps still remain in federal efforts to defend the nation against terrorism - including at ports, borders and chemicals plants.

The department also fails to share alerts and other intelligence quickly with state and local officials, according to the Democrats' report, which analyzes public statements and congressional testimony that outline Bush administration security goals since 2002.

"It's our job in Congress to hold the Department of Homeland Security accountable for the work that it does and doesn't do," Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, the committee's top Democrat, said in a statement accompanying the report.
And, we all saw how well the Department functioned during Katrina. I'm sure Secretary Chertoff is doing a heckuva job. Read the rest of this post...

DeLay wants his leadership job back

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So, he is pushing, fighting, screaming and begging for an earlier trial. The top Criminal Court in Texas gave him one this week:
DeLay has been seeking a quick resolution of the money laundering and conspiracy charges. He had to temporarily give up his majority leader's post after he was indicted on Sept. 28 for allegedly funneling corporate money to Texas legislative candidates in violation of state law. Some House Republicans have called for new leadership elections next month if the case isn't resolved by then.
The hoops the GOP leadership is going through to save DeLay are almost unbelievable. They are actually postponing the start of Congress for him. That actually gives another new meaning to the term "delay" which is now also "the GOP accommodation of corrupt and indicted leaders."

None of this fast action matters once DeLay is found guilty....and then, there's still the Abramoff case. Read the rest of this post...

Koppel and Brokaw Agree: Clinton Would Have Gone Into Iraq, Too

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Insanity. I'm going to dissect this later. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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I'm baaack. And the Mac Powerbook finally arrives today! Though I think I'll have to plug it in for a while to charge the battery first. Anyway, I'm excited. Read the rest of this post...

Our URL will be working again shortly

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The hosting service for the domain had a glitch and had to reset their domains, nice. So some of you will get getting a parked page when you type in - that should be fixed in a few hours. Just FYI

Oh, in the meantime, the blogspot address works: Read the rest of this post...

Anti-gay forces failing in CA.

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Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end for the haters:
One of two groups competing to put a gay marriage ban before California voters in 2006 has bowed out of the fight for now, saying the timing and political climate are not right to get such a measure passed.

Tuesday was the deadline for to submit the signatures needed to qualify for the June primary ballot one of two overlapping initiatives that would outlaw same-sex marriage and restrict domestic partnership rights.

Andrew Pugno, the group's legal adviser, said the signature drive had fallen about 200,000 voters short of the requirement for 591,105 signatures.
The other anti-gay group is flailing, too. Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Let's get it started. Read the rest of this post...

Ex-Enron executive enters plea bargain

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Former chief financial officer Richard Causey is cutting a deal to plead guilty and help build the case against Lay and Skilling. Who would have guessed that this trial could drag out for so many years despite billions disappearing almost over night? Read the rest of this post...

Just back from quick holiday

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I can hardly believe that it is snowing in Paris. It's not very much, but at least it has the look of this time of the year. Now it's time to get active and walk off the oysters, foie gras, deer and everything else that was eaten over Christmas. The one tradition that I still can't get used to is the obsession with the Christmas log cakes that people insist on eating. They are cake slices rolled into a "log" with plenty of sugary icing and kitsch decorations and they make a Duncan Hines cake sound appealing. Besides that, a lovely break with an old friend and no shortage of fun discussions.

The downside was coming back and learning that a good friend of mine from Texas died two days before Christmas of a heart attack, which was a shock to everyone since he was only 38 and seemed to be in good condition. He leaves behind a wife and 10 month old baby and devastated parents. I never knew anyone who died like that at such an age but it was only two months ago that the father of my sisters children died at 37. What a year it has been. Read the rest of this post...

Are the kurds trying to influence US public opinion in favor of the war?

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We reported earlier on a story about a pro-war advocacy group running ads in the US claiming that we found WMD in Iraq (we didn't) and that there is proof Saddam is linked to Al Qaeda (he isn't).

In the middle of the story, there's this about the man running the pro-war advocacy effort:
In addition to his Iraq political work in the U.S., Mr. Russo has an open-ended political-advertising contract with the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq for whom he produces advertisements that run in the U.S. seeking investment in Kurdistan. Some critics accuse him of having a vested financial interest in prolonging the U.S. presence there.... And they say there is no conflict between the organization's advocacy work and Mr. Russo's financial ties to the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq.
Hmmm... a guy who runs ads in the US for, and favorable to, the Kurdish government is suddenly running ads favorable to continuing the US war in Iraq, a war that benefits - who? - the Kurdish government (see below). A natural question to ask is whether the Kurds themselves are somehow involved in this pro-war ad campaign.

But why would the Kurds benefit from a continuance of Bush's war in Iraq war? We need only look at the other article I linked to below, coincidentally.
Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq to lay the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan....

The interviews with Kurdish troops, however, suggested that as the American military transfers more bases and areas of control to Iraqi units, it may be handing the nation to militias that are bent more on advancing ethnic and religious interests than on defeating the insurgency and preserving national unity.
Gee, so the longer the war goes on, the longer the training of Iraqi troops goes on, the more the Kurds are able to infiltrate those troops, and the greater the chance the Americans will willingly and unknowingly hand northern Iraq to the Kurds.

Now, I don't know if the Kurds have a role in this pro-war propaganda campaign going on in the US right now, but I'd bet the Turks won't be any too happy to find out that the possibility exists, since the Turks are deathly afraid that an independent Turkistan will split Turkey in two.

I'm also not sure the American people would be very happy were foreign agents involved in trying to trick us into continuing the war.

(MyDD has more, and another angle, on this fake WMD propaganda here.) Read the rest of this post...

Now Bush says he was only spying on people with "a history of blowing up trains, weddings and churches"

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From Reuters:
In Crawford, Texas, where Bush is spending the holidays, his spokesman, Trent Duffy, defended what he called a "limited program."

"This is not about monitoring phone calls designed to arrange Little League practice or what to bring to a potluck dinner," he told reporters. "These are designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings, and churches."
Wow, very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings and churches, yet Bush never sought a court order to conduct the snooping because he thought a court wouldn't let him?! Huh? Let me repeat, the people they spied on "have a history of blowing up trains, weddings and churches." If that's true, then any court in the land would haven given Bush a search warrant.

But there's a larger question. If Bush is now telling the truth about who these people are, then pray tell, what the hell was Bush doing letting hundreds if not thousands of people "who have a history of blowing up trains, wedding and churches" run around free inside the US for the past 4 years?

Or maybe this is just another lie. Read the rest of this post...

Kurds have infiltrated the Iraqi army and plan on seizing northern Iraq and declaring independence

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Have we won yet? Read the rest of this post...

GOP pro-war group running ads claiming we found WMD in Iraq and Saddam was tied to Al Qaeda

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When you belong to a party that no longer practices any of its original guiding principles, all that's left to fight for are the lies. Read the rest of this post...

Fear destroys what bin Laden could not

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Read this. A snippet:
One wonders if Osama bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the America that existed on 9/11. But he had help.

If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.

Had anyone said our president would invade a country and kill 30,000 of its people claiming a threat that never, in fact, existed, then admit he would have invaded even if he had known there was no threat -- and expect America to be pleased by this -- I would have thought our nation's sensibilities and honor had been eviscerated.

If I had been informed that our nation's leaders would embrace torture as a legitimate tool of warfare, hold prisoners for years without charges and operate secret prisons overseas -- and call such procedures necessary for the nation's security -- I would have laughed at the folly of protecting human rights by destroying them.

If someone had predicted the president's staff would out a CIA agent as revenge against a critic, defy a law against domestic propaganda by bankrolling supposedly independent journalists and commentators, and ridicule a 37-year Marie Corps veteran for questioning U.S. military policy -- and that the populace would be more interested in whether Angelina is about to make Brad a daddy -- I would have called the prediction an absurd fantasy.

That's no America I know, I would have argued. We're too strong, and we've been through too much, to be led down such a twisted path.

What is there to say now?
(Hat tip to Kos) Read the rest of this post...

Why does NBC's Matt Lauer not even blink when Ann Coulter defends the internment of Japanese Americans?

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As a follow up to Joe's post below, during her interview with Matt Lauer, Ann Coulter mentioned the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII to DEFEND Bush's illegal spying on American citizens. Now you'd think Lauer might have done a double-take when his guest appeared to be condoning the internment of innocent American citizens simply based on their race, and USING that racist un-American internment to justify Bush's actions today (who else you planning to intern Ann?). You'd be wrong. Matt just giggled along with his softball interview of a woman who is so extreme she shouldn't even be on a warm and fuzzy morning show.

It's nice to know that the mass internment of entire classes of American citizens for no reason doesn't even raise an eyebrow at NBC. Pitiful. Read the rest of this post...

Lauer ♥ Coulter

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Crooks and Liars has the's gross. Don't watch on an empty stomach. She's spewing nasty rhetoric that Matt never remotely challenges.

Why is it that the Today Show treats the conservative whack jobs like Coulter and O'Reilly like they are sane and rational commentators? Okay, better question is why they have them on in the first place. And, when was the last time they had someone remotely liberal appear one-on-one with Katie or Matt in that first half-hour? They never do. Just the psychos. Read the rest of this post...

Did he have a blank check or break the law?

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Reuters lays out the stark choice:
The domestic-spying order has set off a furious debate over whether the war on terrorism gives Bush a blank check when it comes to civil liberties and whether the president, in fact, broke the law.
In other words, are we a dictatorship or a country where there rule of law reigns? Let's have that debate. Read the rest of this post...

AP does Schumer

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Not a bad profile of Schumer. I thought the one small, piece of good news last year at this time was that Schumer was going to head the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. They couldn't have found a more ruthless political leader (and I mean that as a compliment.) Chuck plays to win. He plays hardball. He's relentless:
On Wednesday, Schumer, chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, will complete his annual circuit of visits to all 62 counties in New York state. The appearance marks the end of his first year in a more powerful role and the beginning of a new year that will put him to the test.

Schumer is counting on his time-tested local approach to help Democratic Senate candidates around the country win votes in 2006, particularly in seven states where he believes Democrats can recapture Republican seats.
Easy to forget that not many political insiders expected Schumer to win the Democratic Senate nomination in September of 1998 against Mark Green and Geraldine Ferraro. He did. Then in the general election, Chuck was an underdog against Al D'Amato. But, he thumped him.

Schumer's laid the groundwork for the Dems. to pick up the Senate in 2006 -- he sure has outshone his GOP counterpart, Liddy Dole. I am betting he can deliver. Read the rest of this post...

Insight from Bruce

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Thanks to Plutonium Page over at Kos for finding this sweet quote from Springsteen in Mojo Magazine:
... We forget that every adult was brought up on fairy tales so it's natural to go on and, politically for example, want to believe that your President is a nice, honest man. The inability to turn to an adult perspective once you get to the age where you have some political weight is a great tragedy, and this is a period of history when it seems the most obvious type of disguise is on display to the entire world and yet those are the people who are still in power.
Still in power, still lying, still destroying lives. And the fairy tale lives on. Read the rest of this post...

Mid-day Open Thread

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Another slow news day, it seems. Hearing anything interesting? Read the rest of this post...

The Wash Post has just figured out that Bush is a liar

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It's hard when you learn there is no Santa Bush. Read the rest of this post...

Conservative columnist says Bush is "his own worst enemy"

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Right winger Kathleen Parker, in her latest column, tries to help Bush with that pesky definition of "victory." But, this is how she gives him some love:
Staying the course is no one's easy road, and Bush is his own worst enemy some days. He seems tired of his own slogans and platitudes. We won't cut and run. We'll stand down when they stand up. Shift to the left, shift to the right, stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight.

In one of his speeches, Bush seemed to lose interest in his own text and didn't bother to complete a sentence about the Iraqi elections. Weary-looking and gray, he has aged dramatically in five years.
Yes, that's the man who is leading us to "victory." Read the rest of this post...

Why does the media dismiss the impeachment discussion?

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Yesterday, driving from NY to Boston, I was listening to WBZ News Radio. They had an interview with an ABC Radio News Political Analyst named Steve Roberts -- who, I believe, is the husband of Cokie Roberts -- to give the insider perspective on Washington. The question of the domestic spying scandal arose. Roberts explained in grave tones how serious this matter was, and that it could mean that the President violated a law. (I'm paraphrasing here). When he was asked whether this meant impeachment was an option, he scoffed at it claiming that was only the talk of extreme liberals trying to score political points and the bar for impeachment was very high. If that is the spin from Roberts, it is probably the talking point for the way, way inside Washington MSM -- the cocktail circuit. They pooh, pooh impeachment talk.

First, how quickly the media forgets that the GOP showed the bar for impeachment wasn't that high when they went after Clinton. So, if Bush broke the law, impeachment has to be an option. That's actually in the Constitution:
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Why is it that stating the obvious makes one an extreme liberal? Why is it that holding the President accountable to the rule of law is dismissed? Read the rest of this post...

American Family Association affiliate threatens Santorum that he's not wacky enough

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Yes, you know you've entered the twilight zone when Rick Santorum isn't enough of a wingnut to satisfy the hate-group-promoting American Family Association.

You'll recall that the AFA is the group that took on Ford, and lost (thanks to us), and they're the group that promotes the Nazi-esque science of known hate groups on their Web site, per the esteemed Southern Poverty Law Center. Then thewre are the accusations of anti-Semitism long charged against the AFA. You get the picture.

Anyway, seems their Pennsylvania affiliate is very upset that Ricky Santorum is now chucking creationism out the window in order to secure his re-election.

Apparently, it's only cool to be a right-wing fundamentalist when you're above 50% in the polls. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Day after Christmas, taking it a little slow. Read the rest of this post...

Bush is looking ahead after a dismal year

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AP gives the year-in-review treatment to Bush. The key line, after listing his paltry accomplishments is:
The list of setbacks is longer.
Let's wish him the same success in 2006. Smarmy, toothy Dan Bartlett tries to put a positive spin on that long list of failures. He (and AP) both forgot to mention the President's recently exposed criminality. That should keep Bush busy next year. Read the rest of this post...

Rick Santorum, kind of embarrassed to be a Christian conservative

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I don't blame him, but come on Rick. Deny me three times, sound familiar? If you're going to be a fundy, at least the have the balls to admit it.

This has been the larger problem with so-called Christian conservatives. They're embarrassed to admit who they are and what they believe. They don't "hate" gays, they say. Sure they do. They LOATHE gays, they think we're an abomination and we're all going to hell - and as O'Reilly said a while back, they probably WANT us to go to hell. Why are they so afraid to admit their beliefs?

As for abortion, of course they want Alito to overturn Roe and they THINK Alito WILL overturn Roe. Have some balls, people. If you think you represent the majority of the country then why are you so damned afraid to admit your views and stand behind them publicly?

And then you have the creationism folks now claiming that God has nothing to do with intelligence design. Uh huh. So you mean, you think the flying spaghetti monster actually MAY have created the universe? Give me a break. They think God is behind it, and they want to teach children that God is behind it, but they just don't have the balls to be true to their own religious beliefs because then they might get shot down.

Santorum is just the latest in profiles of spinelessness from supposed Christians who know they can't come clean about their real extremist agenda because most of the country would flip. So they choose to publicly deny their God. Lovely.

What would Jesus do? Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Drove to my cousin's outside of Boston...been playing with Thomas the Tank Engine, Dora and many sticker books with Molly -- age 5 -- and Little Joe who is 2 1/2.

John is at his cousin's party. This Christmas thing keeps going.

What's going on in the real world? Read the rest of this post...

Bush pressuring editors, publishers

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Because that's what happens in a dictatorship. He's been summoning news executives to the Kremlin White House. Read the rest of this post...

Momentum building for hearings on Bush spy program

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They say oversight, we say impeachment:
Members of the Judiciary Committee have already indicated that they intend to conduct oversight hearings into the president's legal authority to order domestic eavesdropping on terrorist suspects without a warrant.

But Congressional officials said Saturday that they would probably seek to expand the review to include the disclosure that the security agency, using its access to giant phone "switches," had also traced and analyzed phone and Internet traffic in much larger volumes than what the Bush administration had acknowledged.
Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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What are you hearing? Anything stirring yet? Read the rest of this post...

Colin Powell says "nobody" has suggested Bush shouldn't continue eavesdropping

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Uh, lots of people have suggested that what Bush is apparently doing is illegal and a violation of the 4th Amendment. That's hardly a vote of confidence in continuing the program. How much you want to bet Powell didn't get called on this?

Oh, the little general who still can't decide which side of the fence he wants to play on:
Powell, who also is a former chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, had no reservations when asked whether eavesdropping should continue.

"Of course it should continue," he said. "And nobody is suggesting that the president shouldn't do this."
Read the rest of this post...

Back from my aunt's

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Christmas, as usual, has been a frenzy of food and small children. We started off, as we usually do, with my brother-in-law (Carmela's father) making breakfast for us all (including his famous scrambled eggs with potatoes), breakfast sausage with fresh lemon squeezed over it (amazing), pancakes, this great streudel my mom gets every year, coffee and more. Then we open the gifts, which is a whirling dervish of small children ripping anything with a ribbon on it to shreds. The highlight of gift opening was quite possibly when my nephew opened his Star Wars-themed gift from his mom, prompting my mom to ask "What's a 'light saver?'"

Though it was really tied for best moment when, in the middle of gift opening, the mailman arrived at the door with one more gift my sister had ordered for her son from LL Bean. The post office actually delivered it on a Sunday, Christmas day, no less. We were shocked. I've never been so impressed with the USPS in my life.

Anyway, all of that went on until 3:30pm, and we then had a nice hour to relax before having to run off to my aunt's house for dinner. My aunt is a great chef, so the food is always wonderful. I was supposed to head to my brother's now to help him put together the telescope I got my other nephew (there are 5), but I'm pooped. And then tomorrow I head to lunch with my godmother, and then later in the day head downtown to visit the Lincoln Park zoo at night with my sis (Carmela's mom) and family. Should be quite fun.

Greek Christmas is not a spectator sport.

Feel free to share your day, traditions, etc. And you Hannukah folks, don't be shy, you can chime in too.

PS Joe is not Jewish, not that there's anything wrong with hit. Though his post a bit below may have confused you. He's just visiting Jewish friends in NY, or one friend in the couple he's visiting is Jewish. Anyway, Rob sent me a text message saying "I didn't know Joe was Jewish, he NEVER mentions it!" That's because he's not :-) Read the rest of this post...

The Iraqis didn't get the "Victory" memo

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Bush says victory and successful elections. But, just because he says it, doesn't make it true:
After a lull during the election, secured partly by fierce security measures and partly by an informal ceasefire by Sunni rebels hoping for representation in parliament, deadly attacks have picked up. Ten Iraqi soldiers were killed in one assault on Friday as were 10 worshippers at a Shi'ite mosque.

A U.S. soldier was killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack near Kirkuk on Saturday and troops marking Christmas had no respite on Sunday; an Abrams tank, the giant bulwark of American armored might, was left in flames after a dawn attack in eastern Baghdad -- witness said a roadside bomb blasted it.
Read the rest of this post...

So what were you trying to say, Colin? That Bush broke the law?

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So Colin Powell says eavesdropping is okay, but, he's not sure Bush did it the right (which means legal) way:
Powell said Congress will need to judge whether Bush is correct in his assertion that he could approve eavesdropping without first obtaining court orders.

"And that's going to be a great debate," Powell said.
It has to be a great impeachment debate. Seriously, if Colin Powell thinks that Bush must be investigated by Congress, the hearings will be about whether Bush broke the law. That means impeachment hearings. Now, that would make for a happy new year. Read the rest of this post...

Happy Hanukkah Open Thread

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We had a minor crisis...Emily couldn't find the menorah. But it was located so we light the candles tonight. Read the rest of this post...

Bush places calls. Was NSA listening?

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Just wondering if these calls got the NSA spying treatment? I mean, we can't trust anyone, right?
President Bush called nine U.S. service members deployed from Japan to the Persian Gulf on Saturday to recognize their service to the nation and wish them holiday cheer.

Placing the telephone calls from his mountaintop presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., Bush talked to eight men and one woman, a member of the Coast Guard stationed in the Gulf.

"The president wished them a Merry Christmas and thanked them for their service to our country," said White House spokesman Allen Abney. "He just wanted to tell them that he was thinking of them and their families at this holiday season and that the American people were behind them and supported their efforts overseas."
Those soldiers are probably in some spy data-bank now. Read the rest of this post...

Merry Christmas!

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The kids are downstairs screaming, gotta get there and open presents. Hope you're all having fun (or running out for Chinese). Read the rest of this post...

Congress to America: Freeze

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We're still finding out just how reckless the GOP leadership was in the recent budget debacle. Today, the NY Times editorializes on the games Ted Stevens and the GOP leadership played with home heating aid. It's all fun and games for that crowd, but games aren't so funny when people might freeze to death:
There was a heating supplement tied to the Alaska proposal, as Mr. Stevens promised. But there was also a separate $2 billion appropriated for the same purpose elsewhere in the legislation - unconnected to the Alaska floor machinations - that somehow was struck from the final bill as lawmakers rushed to recess. Malice? Who can say? Obviously the poor can't afford a campaign donation PAC to catch Congress's attention for an answer.

The government's home heating supplement now stands at a half or less of what the poor will need if predictions of a harsh winter pan out and fuel bills increase 25 percent. Various studies have established that, in a pinch, the poor scrimp on food purchases in order to meet heating bills. Yet Congress's stinginess is being compounded by the administration's recent decision to reject a request from New York and several other states to increase food stamp outlays to the poor as fuel bills mount.
Who knows what other horrors will show up. The GOP should be proud, very proud. Read the rest of this post...

Christmas morning open thread

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Any signs of peace on earth? How about goodwill towards anyone? Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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It's almost Christmas...

So, I got back from my cousin's place a bit ago, he was having a Christmas eve party, and he hands me a Merry Fitzmas mug and t-shirt, which was very cute, especially since cuz is a Republican (though a sane one, this being Illinois and all). Too bad, cuz says to me, that you're not getting to meet Patrick Fitzgerald in person? What do you mean, I ask. Well, it seems my cuz is friends with the Fitz. He says Fitz has been at the house before and would have been at the party, but it being Christmas and all, he's obviously with his family.

Damn. Can you imagine spending Fitzmas with Saint Fitz? How much I'd have paid for that photo op! A very small world... Read the rest of this post...

I do wish Senator Hutchison could keep her pants on...

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Check out the two ads in the right hand column.... Read the rest of this post...

NSA Web site says it's a violation of the 4th Amendment to spy on Americans

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Well, they say it on their own Web site, so I guess that issue is settled. It's a violation of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution for the NSA to spy on Americans. End of discussion.

Bush violated the constitutional rights of every single American.

Read the rest of this post...