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GOP getting the crap beaten out of it over its $100 gas rebate idea

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This is priceless:
The Senate Republican plan to mail $100 checks to voters to ease the burden of high gasoline prices is eliciting more scorn than gratitude from the very people it was intended to help.

Aides for several Republican senators reported a surge of calls and e-mail messages from constituents ridiculing the rebate as a paltry and transparent effort to pander to voters before the midterm elections in November.

"The conservatives think it is socialist bunk, and the liberals think it is conservative trickery," said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, pointing out that the criticism was coming from across the ideological spectrum.

Angry constituents have asked, "Do you think we are prostitutes? Do you think you can buy us?" said another Republican senator's aide, who was granted anonymity to openly discuss the feedback because the senator had supported the plan.

Conservative talk radio hosts have been particularly vocal. "What kind of insult is this?" Rush Limbaugh asked on his radio program on Friday. "Instead of buying us off and treating us like we're a bunch of whores, just solve the problem." In commentary on Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume called the idea "silly."
Said the drug addict to the whore. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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So what's coming up this week? Read the rest of this post...

"Not It!" is not a way to run a government

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As Joe notes below, Colin Powell today criticized George Bush, says Bush did not listen to Powell when the former Secretary of State said we needed more troops than Bush was planning for the invasion of Iraq.

How does our current Secretary of State, Condi Rice, respond?
"When it came down to it, the president listens to his military advisers who were to execute the plan."
So it was the generals' fault, not Bush's. Bush simply listened to those stupid generals at the Pentagon. They're the ones who told him to send too few troops. The general in specific would be the new-retired Tommy Franks who developed and executed the Iraq invasion. So Condi is saying that Franks screwed up. Love to see his thoughts on that.

Do you catch how it's never Bush's fault, even though he's the boss? Well, Powell cuts through that bull pretty quickly.
"The decisions that were made were not made by me or Mr. Cheney or Rumsfeld. They were made by the president of the United States," [Powell] said.

"And my responsibility was to tell him what I thought. And if others were going in at different times and telling him different things, it was his decision to decide whether he wanted to listen to that person or somebody else."
I think Powell is having a bit of fun with Bush's "I'm the decider" line. Powell flips it around on Bush and basically says, sure Bush got some advice from me, and other advice from Rummy and Cheney and Tommy Franks. But in the end, Bush is the president, he's the decider, and he's the one responsible for being smart enough to choose the best advice from the varied counsel he's given.

And what happened? Bush wasn't smart enough. That's was Colin Powell said today.

Still think Larry Wilkerson is acting without Powell's okay? Read the rest of this post...

"Double or Nothing" is not a foreign policy

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Excellent analysis of the Iran situation from Josh Marshall.
With respect to what's coming on Iran, what is in order is a little honesty, just as was the case with the Social Security debate a year ago. The only crisis with Iran is the crisis with the president's public approval ratings. Period. End of story. The Iranians are years, probably as long as a decade away, and possibly even longer from creating even a limited yield nuclear weapon. Ergo, the only reason to ramp up a confrontation now is to help the president's poll numbers....

It turns on how far a desperate president will go to avoid losing control of Congress.

Go to his heart. Go to his weaknesses. Though the realization of the fact is something of a lagging indicator, the man is a laughing stock, whose lies and failures are all catching up with him.

To the president the Democrats should be saying, Double or Nothing is Not a Foreign Policy.

The great bulk of the public doesn't believe this president any more when he tries to gin up a phony crisis. They don't believe he'd have much of an idea of how to deal with a real one. Enough of the lies. Enough of the incompetence and failure.

No buying into another of the president's phony crises.
Read the rest of this post...

It's Condi v. Colin

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Well, Powell's comments today about Iraq had one positive outcome. He threw Condi off her game:
Just back from Baghdad and eager to discuss promising developments, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice found herself knocked off message Sunday, forced to defend prewar planning and troop levels against an unlikely critic - Colin Powell, her predecessor at the State Department.

For the Bush administration, it was a rare instance of in-house dissenter going public.

On Rice's mind was the political breakthrough that had brought her and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to Iraq last week and cleared the way for formation of a national unity government.

Yet Powell sideswiped her by revisiting the question of whether the U.S. had a large enough force to oust Saddam Hussein and then secure the peace.
Powell's gone. But the rest of the crowd who screwed up Iraq -- Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Condi -- are still around. Now, they're making plans for Iran. It will be very helpful for our country if people on the inside who know better speak out earlier this time instead of waiting three years. Read the rest of this post...

Blair sagging in UK polls

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UK voters are getting fed up with Blair and his government. I'm not sure where they can go though because it's not like the Conservatives were against the war and even though they are trying to soften their image with pro-green images, I would not count on them being much better. Maybe everyone will get lucky and Blair will be sent out to pasture sooner than later.
  • 64 percent of those surveyed saying he [Blair] was doing badly.
  • 57 percent of respondents said Blair's government was "sleazy and incompetent."
Read the rest of this post...

Another former general -- Colin Powell -- criticizes Rumsfeld (and Bush)

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Criticism of Rumsfeld and his boss, George Bush, from Powell during an interview on British television courtesy of Think Progress. Iraq was a disaster from the beginning -- and Powell was complicit. If he thought there weren't enough troops, why didn't he speak out then? Powell had the moral authority to stop the madness. He didn't. Read the rest of this post...

Another gorgeous day in DC

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Off to do a Politics TV taping. Read the rest of this post...

VIDEO: Colbert ripping Bush at dinner

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Crooks & Liars has the video, it's good. Read the rest of this post...

Bush cracks himself up -- but he's still the President

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Funny stuff from the Prez:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I feel chipper tonight. I survived the White House shake-up," the president said.
Ha Ha. Unfortunately, it's not a joke. The White House can do all the "shake-ups" they want -- they know the press eats it up and spends endless hours discussing what it means. It means nothing. Bush is still the President. Cheney is still the Vice President. Iraq is still a quagmire. Their policies still are destroying America.

It's also more than a little ironic that Bush and the media were yukking it up last night just when we learn that Bush wants to prosecute reporters as spies. Read the rest of this post...

Sunday Talk Shows Open Thread

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Condi's making the rounds -- again -- because we're on the "March to Victory," by the way. And the White House Network is hosting two top staffers, Bolten and Snow. They're not even subtle.

Here's the line-up via the Wash. Post:
FOX NEWS SUNDAY.... White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten and incoming White House press secretary Tony Snow .

THIS WEEK...: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice , Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), actor George Clooney and former senator J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.).

FACE THE NATION...: Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rice .

MEET THE PRESS...: Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman , Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), American Petroleum Institute President Red Cavaney , co-founder Jim Cramer and author Daniel Yergin .

LATE EDITION (CNN), 11 a.m.: Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), former CIA director R. James Woolsey , former Israeli intelligence director Efraim Halevy and Rice
Read the rest of this post...

Is the US a nation of laws or just a banana republic?

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Seems like Bush prefers to pick and choose in his little kingdom. Congressional lapdogs have gone along with it, always eager to please their master. This is why the Democrats must take back Congress in the fall because Bush needs to held accountable and balance needs to be restored.
President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.
Read on... Read the rest of this post...

Stephen Colbert rips Bush at Correspondent's Dinner - Bush NOT amused

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Oh. My. God. Read the rest of this post...

Baptist bigots break with national church

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Good, and good riddance. Who needs you? Why does any church need people who think the most important thing about being a good Christian, in being Christ like, is hate? These people aren't Christian. I don't know what they are - though the result of a lot of hard work by Satan certainly comes to mind - but Christians? Hardly.

If it were my church, I'd let them walk, gladly.

There are many answers to the question "What would Jesus do?" But the only answer you'll never hear is "hate." Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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In with the good air... Read the rest of this post...

Wash Post: Ned Lamont giving Lieberman a real challenge in primary

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Good. It's time Connecticut chose an actual Democrat to be its Democratic senator.
"Some of the party brass said, 'Ned, don't jeopardize a safe seat,' " Lamont recently told students at Southern Connecticut State University, who gathered for a meet-and-greet session. "But you're not going to lose a senator. You're going to gain a Democrat."
Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Bush is down the block at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Joe saw Judy Woodruff on the street. Security is everywhere because the un-President is going to be there. Read the rest of this post...

US claims it can't release Gitmo detainees because then other governments would oppress them

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Uh huh. Yeah, I'm sure George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld are really, REALLY concerned about the human rights of the detainees at Gitmo and THAT'S why they can't release them, because they're SO concerned about their human rights.

Somewhere a Soviet propagandist is smiling. Read the rest of this post...

Another open thread

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It's just too beautiful out in DC to get angry. Read the rest of this post...

New Battlestar Galactica spin-off announced

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I had to find out from a reader because the Sci-Fi channel isn't reaching out to bloggers (even though Duncan, Markos and I are all Sci-Fi freaks - tsk, tsk).

Anyway, too fracking cool!
SCI FI Channel announced the development of Caprica, a spinoff prequel of its hit Battlestar Galactica, in presentations to advertisers in New York on April 26. Caprica would come from Galactica executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, writer Remi Aubuchon (24) and NBC Universal Television Studio.

Caprica would take place more than half a century before the events that play out in Battlestar Galactica. The people of the Twelve Colonies are at peace and living in a society not unlike our own, but where high technology has changed the lives of virtually everyone for the better.

But a startling breakthrough in robotics is about to occur, one that will bring to life the age-old dream of marrying artificial intelligence with a mechanical body to create the first living robot: a Cylon. Following the lives of two families, the Graystones and the Adamas (the family of William Adama, who will one day become the commander of the Battlestar Galactica), Caprica will weave together corporate intrigue, techno-action and sexual politics into television's first science fiction family saga, the channel announced.
Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Sunny and gorgeous today in DC Read the rest of this post...

Bush wants to prosecute reporters as spies

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This president is destroying American values in every way he can. Now he's absolutely intent on stifling and undermining the free press. Prosecuting reporters as spies is downright Soviet:
But the Bush administration is exploring a more radical measure to protect information it says is vital to national security: the criminal prosecution of reporters under the espionage laws.
Stalin would be so proud. Read the rest of this post...

Bush: We're on the "March to Victory"

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Victory, he says, again. The spin:
"Yet, the enemies of freedom have suffered a real blow in recent days, and we have taken great strides on the march to victory."
The reality:
As of late Thursday, at least 69 Americans had died in Iraq in April. The toll was 31 in March, 55 in February and 62 in January.
Is this the same victory as the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq from November 25, 2005?

Or the same victory as "Mission Accomplished" on May 1, 2003?
Read the rest of this post...

The Wash. Post is on the GOP hooker scandal

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This is getting really fun:
Federal authorities are investigating allegations that a California defense contractor arranged for a Washington area limousine company to provide prostitutes to convicted former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) and possibly other lawmakers, sources familiar with the probe said yesterday.

In recent weeks, investigators have focused on possible dealings between Christopher D. Baker, president of Shirlington Limousine and Transportation Inc., and Brent R. Wilkes, a San Diego businessman who is under investigation for bribing Cunningham in return for millions of dollars in federal contracts, said one source, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Read the rest of this post...

Saturday Morning Open Thread

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Rove, Rush and a GOP hooker scandal. What a week. Read the rest of this post...

Battle for next President of France turns ugly - Chirac/Villepin in a panic

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It's no secret that Chirac/Villepin detest Sarkozy. With Chirac/Villepin offering more of the same (i.e. no change) a lot of people have been attracted to Sarkozy who seems to be serious about making bold changes in France. Plenty of people on the French left also despise Sarko, believing that he is too heavy handed and dictatorial. Be that as it may, Sarko used to be Chirac's right hand man but was tossed aside by Chirac like so many others before and after him, with Villepin being the most recent case. After that incident Sarko moved away from Chirac and set out his own course and has a very strong and loyal following. Chirac is meanwhile nearing the end of long career and may have to face very serious allegations of corruption which could lead to jail or financial problems so having close friends in high places will be important for him when his term ends next year.

In that context, a real bombshell landed yesterday when a retired senior intelligence official revealed that Villepin, on the order of Chirac, had organized a brutal smear campaign against Sarko to discredit him and send him into legal quagmire. An judge had received documents and a CD with bank details that was suggesting Sarko had offshore bank accounts where he hid money. Previous reports have suggested connections to Villepin and the bogus information and yesterdays evidence in court seems to point in that direction. And to think that these guys are all in the same political party.
General Philippe Rondot says M. Villepin - on Jacques Chirac's orders - asked him to conduct an investigation in January 2004 into allegations of financial corruption against his fellow minister, M. Sarkozy. The allegations turned out to be a crude forgery.
The only part of this that is truly shocking is that they still have not raided Villepin's office and have only suggested that the raid is coming within a few days. The rumors of Villepin's involvement in the offshore bank information have been there for a long time so why are they are giving him a heads up and why has it not already happened? Hmmmmm. Read the rest of this post...

Prodi government trips coming out of the gate

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In order to win this most recent election in Italy, Prodi had to round up a broad coalition of the left that included everything from Catholics to communists. The talk has been that holding it all together would be challenging, making any chances of actually governing nearly impossible. Add to that thin majorities and you are looking at more stagnation in Italian politics. Berlusconi had somehow stayed in office for the full term, a rarity in modern Italian politics, though his results hardly lived up to his promises.

Italian friends of mine tell me that making changes of any kind in Italy is not possible without major structural reform and anyone who even tries to reform won't last. With all of that in mind, Prodi can't even assign key roles in his new government so it might just be time to start watching the clock and seeing if he can hold on for six months.
The parliament, meeting for the first time since Prodi's Union coalition won a hotly-contested elections earlier this month, failed to elect Speakers for either the lower house Chamber of Deputies or the upper house Senate.
Read the rest of this post...

Okay, I think someone messed with Santa

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I'm having a debate online with my friend Dave in San Francisco. We both remember the Rudolph cartoon containing the line "Eat, Papa, eat. Nobody likes a skinny Santa."

But when watch the cartoon now, it's not there. What they say is:
Mrs. Claus: Eat, Poppa, eat.
Santa Claus: How can I eat? That silly elf song is driving me crazy.
Mrs. Claus: You're gonna disappoint the children. They expect a fat Santa.
So why is it that I, Dave, and the entire Internet seem to remember the other line? There are TONS of links to it on Google, and even lots of collectible Christmas thingies based on that phrase?

I have a theory, and I'm not kidding. I think they changed the dialogue. It used to say nobody likes a skinny Santa and the PC police got upset. There are a number of sites complaining about how the line promotes bulimia.

Either that, or we're all suffering from some mass delusion.

Tell me my childhood wasn't a mass delusion.

So, find me the answer, damnit. Read the rest of this post...

Friday Orchid Blogging

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A panoramic shot of a sea of phalaenopsis (moth) orchids at Hausermann's Orchids in the Chicago area. I visited it last week and thought I'd play with the panoramic function I just discovered in photoshop. I just love going to greenhouses - not always to shop, it's just fun walking through the literally 10 or so greenhouses full of flowering plants a place like Hausermann's has.

Click the image and hopefully you'll see the much larger version I uploaded. Enjoy! Read the rest of this post...

Cliff's Corner

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The Week That Was 4/28/06

Another week. More preposterousness to report.

I am having a difficult time concentrating on the task at hand right now, as I am eagerly awaiting my $100 check from Congress to see if I can get myself “hooked up” with any of Randy Duke Cunningham’s friends. A paltry sum to be sure, and I don’t have the votes to trade for venereal disease and am not a Republican political hack running the CIA (apparently Porter is concentrating on the wrong kinds of leaks), but I figure in George Bush’s Washington, one must dare to dream.

So members of the family values party—you know the front for Limbaugh’s Larry King-like marriage relay, the reporter, phone-sex falafels, congressmen who only minimally asphyxiate their mistresses and mayors who support amendments outlawing gay marriage while surreptitiously Scouting the local Cubs---it turns out, enjoy trysts with strangers in the night at their favorite nostalgic den of sin the Watergate. I knew this was a group that had figuratively been caught with their pants down on virtually everything that has happened since the dawn of the Bush Era, but I wasn’t aware they had the kind of commitment that would take this thing to the next level, with women they would see drawn and quartered if their base ever got its way.

Where is Pat Robertson when we need him to direct God’s wrath in a particular direction? Because when God’s done with those heathens in Dover, PA, the malevolent members of Corporate Mammon would seem to be the guys that should next be bracing for a lightening bolt. I admit I haven’t read my Bible lately, but I am guessing we’re way past Golden Calf territory here.

I mean I know their abstinence programs in our schools have led to more STDs than an average week for Courtney Love, but I thought the grown-ups in the Republican Party understood how important chastity was if we’re going to win the War on Terror. How is Tony Snow’s hair going to explain this one when it’s soon required to take the podium? How will Hot Tub Tom keep his promise of making this nation safe again for Christians with this kind if amoral behavior taking place right under his nose? How will President Bush react to more corrupt GOPers he has likely struck a pose with in numerous photos while only remembering casually meeting at the White House Kwanzaa Party? And how can we allow this to go on when Ken Mehlman has remained corporally unsullied while he waits to meet the perfect womanly companion?

To take this a step further, what if Joe Lieberman’s right? I mean if criticizing the president is tantamount to undermining the War on Terror, then what does copulation with prostitutes say when the man’s own wife has already complained that Desperate Housewives is her surrogate husband when darkness comes hither? We’re talking aiding and abetting Al Qaeda now.

So let me end by saying, please Republicans, stop undermining the War on Terror. The values that we all hold dear should not be auctioned to the nicest pair of lower hind limbs. If you should feel an urge, and it is simply uncontrollable, I am sure Clarence Thomas can apprise you of where to find the appropriate viewing material to get you past the primordial DTs. Read the rest of this post...

Limbaugh Mug Shot T-shirts Now AVAILABLE

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The AMERICAblog Rush Limbaugh Mug Shot Shop is now at your service. This is the image that is on the products.

Below is a sample ringer-t (they come in various colors).

And who can resist the mugshot mug.

Click here for the shop, we got it all. Read the rest of this post...

You can never have too many of these

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Read the rest of this post...

Limbaugh's Mug Shot

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The things that happen when I try to get out of the house. Read the rest of this post...

Rush Arrested

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Breaking on CNN..Rush has been arrested for prescription fraud.

Yes, there is now a Rush mug shot. Read the rest of this post...

GOP governor, and former head of the Republican, Haley Barbour now tied to phone-jamming felony

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It's time to throw the Republicans out of Washington and get our country back. Read the rest of this post...

Buy Glenn's Book

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Liberal blogger Glenn Greenwald's new book, "How Would a Patriot Act?", hit #1 this week on's sales and it hasn't even been released yet. Please check it out via the link at left (just click the book), and consider buying a copy. It's not that expensive, and is an important book - and a great example of a blogger putting his expertise where his mouth is, so to speak :-) Read the rest of this post...

April is now deadliest month in 2006

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67 soldiers dead and April isn't over yet:
An American soldier was killed in a roadside bombing north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Friday, as April became the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Iraq this year.
Is this progress? Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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

3,000 terrorist attacks worldwide in 2004, 11,000 in 2005 - you do the math

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Of course Bush says we just can't compare 2004's stats with last year's stats. Oh no, of course not.

Perhaps my favorite part of the new report is the following:
Leaders of al-Qaida lost some control of the terror network last year due to the arrests and deaths of top operational planners...
Sure, the number of terrorist attacks increased four-fold last year, but at least Al Qaeda is less in control. I'm sure the dead will find that very comforting.

If this is success, I have a civil war in Iraq I'd like to sell you. Read the rest of this post...

Another GOP Hooker Scandal

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Not that we ever doubted it, but Jeff Gannon isn't the only GOP hooker. Looks like he's got company. Lots of it. TPM Muckraker has the latest update on the developing scandal about lobbyist sponsored "hospitality suites." Seems those suites were full service.

The GOP gives new meaning to the term "pay to play." Lots of action in that Republican Party which is always so concerned about everyone else's moral values (and don't forget, they'll soon be voting again to "protect marriage.")

Georgia10 at DailyKos has a good update on the hooker scandal, too.

Wonder if the traditional media will be able to cover this story -- unlike the Gannon scandal which they basically ignored.

UPDATE: Even more. Think Progress has the transcript of an interview on Scarborough Country last night with Dean Calbreath from the San Diego Union Tribune:
We and a number of other papers have been on this for about six months or so. We have all been looking for the break in this and the Wall Street Journal found it, which is the confirmation that the feds were actually looking at this. For the past six months there we have been hearing a lot of rumors that not only the Congressman Cunningham but as many as a half dozen other Congressmen may have been involved in this. And we’ve also been hearing about the limousine service that Brent Wilkes used to bring prostitutes to the Watergate hotel and the Grand Westin in Washington.
Read the rest of this post...

Bipartisan Senate Katrina report faults Bush

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Now isn't this interesting. Remember that sham commission that Senator Frist and George Bush wanted instead of the REAL Katrina commission? They didn't want the independent commission because they were afraid it would blast Bush? Well, it seems the congressional commission, the sham commission, is now blasting Bush.
A Senate inquiry into the government's Hurricane Katrina failures ripped the Bush administration anew Thursday and urged the scrapping of the nation's disaster response agency. But with a new hurricane season just weeks away, senators conceded that few if any of their proposals could become reality in time.

The bipartisan investigation into one of the worst natural disasters in the nation's history singled out
President Bush and the White House as appearing indifferent to the devastation until two days after the storm hit.
First off, who first criticized Bush for being indifferent to Katrina even before the hurricane hit? Why, I believe it was a blog... hmmm... which one would that be?

Second, the Republicans are in all-out "throw Bush under the bus" mode at this point. There is simply no way they would permit the report to blame Bush so directly unless they saw Bush as a major liability.

He's radioactive. Read the rest of this post...

Friday Morning Open Thread

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What will Bush do to destroy the constitution today? Read the rest of this post...

State Department report tells us what we already suspected

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Iraq is becoming the place to be for terrorists of the world and is making the threat from terrorism even worse than before. I can already see the medal of freedom being handed out to Rummy and Condi for the heckuva job they have done.
The official told CNN that, with al Qaeda's senior leadership scattered and on the run, autonomous cells inspired by al Qaeda's extremist ideology present a greater challenge because they are smaller, harder to detect and more difficult to counter.

The annual State Department's Patterns of Global Terrorism report will also cite Iraq as a key front in anti-terrorism efforts. The official acknowledged that Iraq has become "both a war and a cause," which has further radicalized Muslims.
Read the rest of this post...

So much for promoting democracy around the world

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Instead, the White House is selectively choosing when and where to talk about democracy. Bush is now sending out Cheney to do the talking with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, two countries generally not associated with links of any kind to democracy other than repression. Good ol' Condi meanwhile is heaping praise on Equatorial Guinea, another country known for repression, torture and naturally, heaps of oil. Equatorial Guinea is also good friends with Robert Mugabe, someone who is lacking oil and has been brutal with political dissent but somehow makes it on to the bad list for the WH.

So are we going to support world democracy or are we going to deepen our ties to oil dictators? Read the rest of this post...

Nepal parliament to reconvene, new PM named

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After a tense period of mass protests and violent responses from state security forces, Nepal appears to be settling down, for now. Parliament, which had been dissolved by the king, is scheduled to start and a new PM is due to be sworn in. The fact that he is ailing and might not be able to attend the ceremony is odd but all sides seem ready to come together. The Maoist rebels have even called for a three month cease fire to give the new government a chance to address issues. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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I'm sure if Joe mentioned this, but if and when Karl Rove gets indicted, we are so popping the champagne. I think we're throwing a party as well. Actually, we'll all need to throw parties, and take pics, and post them. Read the rest of this post...

Rove is still on the hot seat

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Despite all the pro-Rove spin in this morning's papers, he's still facing the possibility of prosecution:
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case, is expected to decide in the next two to three weeks whether to bring perjury charges against Karl Rove, the powerful adviser to President Bush, lawyers involved in the case said Thursday.

With the completion of Mr. Rove's fifth appearance before the grand jury on Wednesday, Mr. Fitzgerald is now believed to have assembled all of the facts necessary to determine whether to seek an indictment of Mr. Rove or drop the case.
So, despite what he's wanted us all to believe, Karl is not off the hook. Far from it. And this paragraph says so much:
A lawyer with knowledge of the case said that Mr. Rove had known for more than a month that he was likely to make another appearance before the grand jury, and that he had known since last fall that he would be subject to further questions from Mr. Fitzgerald before the prosecutor completed his inquiry.
Yes, Karl knew a month ago that he'd be back for appearance number 5 before the grand jury. What a coincidence, then, that he was "demoted" just last week.

The White House is clearly worried. Yet, not so worried that they bounced Karl...instead, they changed his portfolio. But you can imagine Karl still has his grubby little paws in everything. And, he still has his security clearance despite outing an undercover operative during war.

It's going to be a long two to three weeks while we wait. Read the rest of this post...

Condi's laying the groundwork on Iran

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That Condi, she's a toughie. She's more than ready to send other people's kids to die again. And it's clear that Condi really knows her role in the Iran script:
"Is the Security Council going to be credible?" Rice asked after meetings with NATO foreign ministers.

Tehran faces a Friday deadline from the Security Council to stop enriching uranium, a process that can lead either to nuclear power for electricity or to development of weapons. "It's pretty clear Iran is not going to meet those requirements," Rice said. "When that happens the international community, represented by the Security Council, is going to have a choice."
Is she challenging the manhood of the Security Council? Read the rest of this post...

Specter issues threat that's not really a threat

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Arlen Specter's acting all tough with the President again. Whatever:
Noting that Congress holds the power of the purse, a frustrated Senate chairman threatened to try to block money for President Bush's domestic wiretapping program.
But as usual, Specter's not going to follow through:
"Institutionally, the presidency is walking all over Congress at the moment," Specter said. "If we are to maintain our institutional prerogative, that may be the only way we can do it."

Specter made clear that, for now, the threat was just that.

"I'm not prepared to call for the withholding of funds," he told reporters later.
Ooooh. He's so tough. The Bush team must be so scared. Or they'll just kick Specter around and he'll cave. Well, cave from the threat that's not really a threat -- he already admitted that.

Instead, this is just another p.r. effort by Specter to make it look like someone in Congress has a spine. Actually, he's confirming -- again -- that the Bush administration does walk all over Congress. Read the rest of this post...

Support the troops -- or send bill collectors if they're injured

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Talk is cheap. And there's a lot of cheap talk about supporting the troops. Instead, the Bush Administration is dunning injured soldiers -- and hounding them for the money:
After suffering paralysis, brain damage, lost limbs and other wounds in war, nearly 900 Army soldiers ran up $1.2 million in debt because of the military's "complex, cumbersome" pay system, congressional investigators said Thursday.

The report from the Government Accountability Office said another 400 who died in the wars had $300,000 in debt but that the Defense Department doesn't pursue collection of people killed in combat.

"We found that hundreds of separated battle-injured soldiers were pursued for collection of military debts incurred through no fault of their own," said the report. It said that included seeking reimbursement for errors in pay or for equipment left on the battlefield.
Read the rest of this post...

PoliticsTV welcomes Michelle Malkin to the world of online video... a year late

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From our good friends at PTV News, and me. Read the rest of this post...

"Privately," Bush doesn't hate Latinos - he just plays a bigot on TV

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Glad we settled that one. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Joe is out and about, no witticisms today. Read the rest of this post...

BREAKING: House Dems file lawsuit against illegal legislation

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UPDATE: AP has an article on the Democrat's lawsuit.

Developing story coming from the top House Democrats. They are filing a lawsuit against Bush and his administration to prevent implementation of the "Budget Deficit Act of 2005." That's the legislation which Bush signed even though the House and Senate passed different versions (basically because the Republican illegally changed the legislation).

This is pretty big news. The lead plaintiff is John Conyers, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. He is joined by 10 other ranking members of the other House Committees: Dingell, Rangel, Miller, Oberstar, Frank, Peterson, Thompson, Stark, Brown and Slaughter.

They are seeking to enjoin the budget act because the constitutional process -- you know, from "How a Bill becomes a Law" -- wasn't followed. For all those strict constructionists, here's the actual language:
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States:
The House and Senate passed different versions. What's more, they knew they passed different versions and instead of re-voting, they just fudged it. Bush, Hastert and Frist decided to overrule established constitutional law, just like they do in so many other areas. Read the rest of this post...

Guy who created "Gannon Panel" tells City Paper his goal for the Gannon panel was to discuss GannonGate

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Well, now I'm really confused.

I got criticized by a Philadelphia gay group for asking why GannonGate was not going to be included as one of the main topics of discussion at the Equality Forum blogging panel next week in Philly - a panel that Republican former male prostitute Jeff Gannon (aka James Guckert), top lesbian political blogger Pam Spaulding, and I were to sit on, but Pam and I have since pulled our participation after the Equality Forum refused to make GannonGate even one of the topics on the agenda.

Mike LaMonaca, the Equality Forum program director, released a rather bitter press release yesterday criticizing me for allegedly attempting to "control the panel" when Pam Spaulding and I both noted that GannonGate really had to be one of the topics on the agenda. (According to the person moderating the panel, GannonGate was NOT going to be one of the main agenda items, period. Which is even more odd since the head of the Equality Forum emailed me 3 days ago saying he agreed with me, GannonGate should be one of the agenda items.)

Now we find out that LaMonaca apparently intended all along that GannonGate be discussed at the panel. From LaMonaca's interview, it sounds like GannonGate was the only issue that interested him at all from the panel, or at least it was the one most on his mind. And LaMonaca is the guy CREATED the panel in the first place. Bizarrely, he's also the guy who publicly criticized me yesterday for trying to edge the panel back to what he apparently intended it to be.

Then why did LaMonaca yesterday criticize me for proposing the same thing he advocated in this week's Philly City Paper - discussing GannonGate as one of the panel topics? Not to mention, this is now clear evidence that the direction of this panel very much changed from where it was only a week or so ago when this article was completed. Why was that? Did Gannon put his foot down? Did a board member or a donor or a Republican in the senior ranks of the Equality Forum flip out? Did the moderator in her ivory tower (she teaches at the Annenberg School) refuse to address that icky sex issue? Growing numbers of questions, and fewer and fewer answers from the Equality Forum on just what the heck is going on here.

LaMonaca had this to say to the City Paper in their current edition:?
City Paper: Are you surprised this came together?

Mike LaMonaca: I'm pleased it came together. ... I know I'm curious to hear Jeff Gannon's side of the story and his thoughts about what transpired.
Obviously not curious enough. Read the rest of this post...

Bush tells former CIA employees they're no longer permitted to criticize his administration

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Jesus Christ. Where are we, the Soviet Union? A week after the Chinese communist dictator is welcomed to the White House we're told that former government officials are no longer allowed to criticize the government?

In America?

Is this what 51% of the American people voted for? Outlawing all dissent? Not to mention, if there's such a crisis of former intelligence experts wanting to criticize George Bush then maybe that ought to tell us something - about George Bush.

Seriously, anyone who is Republican out there and voted for this man, how can you continue to support these bizarre un-American policies? Does America stand for anything anymore?

I studied the Soviet Union in grad school, it was one of my main areas of expertise. I'm a hawk on defense. I hated the Soviets and there was little Ronald Reagan could do wrong vis-a-vis the evil empire, in my eye. And I'm telling you, what is happening in our country today is right out of the Soviet playbook. (It's also right out of the Nazi playbook.) You slowly criminalize dissent so that the public accepts infringements on civil liberties that it would never accept in one fell swoop (and, well, in the Soviet Union there was no slowly to it at all - it was pretty instantaneous).

Has America become the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany? No. Have we started down the path to a more totalitarian government that no longer respects, that no longer fears, its citizenry? Absolutely. Do we tolerate today in America presidential policies that would have been unconscionable under any circumstance just ten years ago. Sadly, yes.

And to hell with this war on terror crap.

America wasn't created in order to throw away everything it stands for in order to survive. That was not the intent of our founding fathers, that we protect and defend our God-given - remember, God-given they told us - rights only when it was convenient. If they're God-given rights, then how can man suspend them, even for a war on terror?

The Republican party no longer represents freedom or democracy or America. They have become the worst historical caricature of what liberals were always supposd to be (but actually weren't). Un-American, loose-spending, wimps who are ultimately terribly dangerous to our freedom in troubled times. Read the rest of this post...

More signs that Bush deregulation of mines contributed to miners' death

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The Republicans said that if they came to power they would get the government out of the way of big business. And they did. They stopped a number of Clinton administration initiatives to provide for more safety at mines. And look what happened.
Trapped deep below ground by poisonous gases, the Sago miners realized at least four of their air packs did not work and were forced to share the devices as they desperately pounded away with a sledgehammer in hopes of letting rescuers know where to find them, the sole survivor says.

Then, resigned to their fate, the men recited a "sinner's prayer," scrawled farewell notes to their loved ones, and succumbed, one after another, some as if drifting off to sleep.

"As my trapped co-workers lost consciousness one by one, the room grew still and I continued to sit and wait, unable to do much else," Randal McCloy Jr. wrote to his co-workers' families in a letter dated Wednesday and obtained by The Associated Press....

The Bush administration is reviewing air packs and other safety equipment used in the nation's mines after previously scrapping similar initiatives started by the Clinton administration.
You vote for Republicans and they give you the smaller government they promised. And it kills people. Any questions? Read the rest of this post...

Credit Card Republicans

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That's what my friend Brett DiResta calls them. Cut taxes and spend, that's all they do. To hell with the budget, to hell with the deficit, to hell with how much it costs, if it feels good, do it. Or maybe Nike Republicans: Just spend it.

To wit: This crazy scheme to give every American taxpayer $100 to help with the gas crisis. Uh, that's nice. It's one tank of gas. What do we do next week?

Not to mention, EVERY American taxpayer? Why do I need $100 to help with gas when I don't have a car? Or my nephew who's 14 and works summer jobs - he's a taxpayer. Sure, he's 2 years away from driving, but they're gonna give him a $100 for gas too? And every college kid, who also doesn't have a car, gets $100? And how about grandma in the nursing home, she pays taxes on her social security benefits. Or even Terri Schiavo, she must have been getting social security disability payments - if Terri Schiavo were alive today (and I use the word "alive" loosely), would she be eligible for the $100 to help her pay for her heavy gasoline burden?

And why does George Bush, Dick Cheney, every member of Congress, and not to mention, any American making over $200,000 a year need a $100 to pay for gas? And I'm assuming the Republicans aren't seriously proposing that we give every ExxonMobil executive $100 from the federal treasury to compensate them for screwing the American people at the gas pump? At least this legislation will exclude all oil and gas industry employees, and anyone who owns or works at a gas station, right?

Then there are convicts, do they get $100 from the Republicans? Murderers, rapists, people who kill small children - do they get a $100 gift from the Republicans, even though they're evil people who are in prison and can't drive anyway?

Hell, for that matter, why not make the $100 available to fetuses too. I mean, let's face it, being a fetus in the 21st century just isn't as easy as it used to be. I know a lot of fetus who are always complaining about the high cost of gasoline (and cigs). Why not make their lives easier and give them the $100 gas voucher too? Or are the Republicans anti-fetus?

And then there are the tens of millions of undocumented Latino immigrants. Do they too get the $100 rebate, or is it just for "real" Americans? Read the rest of this post...

GOP Senators want to bribe Americans

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Just forget about those pesky gas increases because they want to hand out a hundred bucks to everyone so they somehow forget that the price is oil is going through the roof. Hell, how far will $100 get you anyway and how much is it going to cost to actually implement this latest plan? Oh and by the way, accept the $100 at your own risk because of course, strings are attached and they would be opening up drilling in Alaska so they can add in another drop in the bucket.

Nice cheap try at deflecting from the seriousness of the oil problem and their role in the mess. Forget about their failed energy plan. Don't even ask about the campaign contributions from Big Oil and don't even ask about fuel efficiency programs. It's a wonder they even have 22% support with this kind of thinking. Read the rest of this post...

Thursday Morning Open Thread

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Another tidbit from that NBC/Wall Street Journal poll courtesy of pollster Peter Hart:
Hart explains that Bush has now spent nine consecutive months at 40 percent or below in the poll, a feat exceeded only by Richard Nixon (13 months) and Harry Truman (26 months).
He's going to break Nixon's record for sure -- and there's plenty to time to break Truman's too. Read the rest of this post...

8.4 billion in 1st quarter profit for Exxon Mobil

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The thing speaks for itself:
Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, on Thursday reported quarterly profit surged, driven by rising oil prices.

Net income in the first quarter was $8.4 billion, or $1.37 a share, up from $7.86 billion, or $1.22 a share, a year earlier.

Revenue jumped to $88.98 billion from $82.05 billion.
Read the rest of this post...

Bush and Congress hit new lows -- again

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This time it's NBC/Wall Street Journal. Approval for Bush is at 36 -- Congress is at 22, yes 22:
According to the poll, just 22 percent approve of the job Congress is doing, a drop of 11 points since March. “That’s a lot of movement in a four- to six-week period,” says McInturff, the GOP pollster, who attributes the drop to a sharp decline in approval by Republican respondents.

Asked to rank the top one or two reasons for their disapproval of Congress, 44 percent say they are tired of Democrats and Republicans fighting with each other, 36 percent say Congress doesn’t seem to get that much done, and 34 percent say members are corrupt and unethical.
These numbers aren't great for the party in power. This latest poll showed voters prefer a Democratic Congress by a 45-39 margin, but those numbers have dropped from earlier polls.

The American people don't love Bush and the GOP-controlled Congress -- only 24% think the country's moving in the right direction. The only real opportunity to change that direction is to change control of Congress. It's the only way to rein in Bush. Read the rest of this post...

War costs continue to increase - $102 billion in 2006

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Who would have guessed that Iraq would be so costly? Certainly not the GOP who so often criticized the Democrats for out of control spending. The Republicans know how to control the budget and costs, right? That's what they always like to tell everyone, at least.
The cost of the war in Iraq will reach $320 billion after the expected passage next month of an emergency spending bill currently before the Senate, and that total is likely to more than double before the war ends, the Congressional Research Service estimated this week.

"The costs are exceeding even the worst-case scenarios," said Rep. John M. Spratt Jr. (S.C.), the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
Read the rest of this post...

Sectarian violence claims another in Iraq

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Today the sister of Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi was murdered in Baghdad. Surely not good news for unity. Read the rest of this post...

Rising gas prices may help Dems in fall elections

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I ask you, whose Vice President ran an energy company only a few years ago and still makes millions off of them?

From the Washington Post:
Anger over gas prices is gaining traction in many midterm races around the nation as Democrats attack Republicans for being too close to oil companies.
Read the rest of this post...

First new thread of the day

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What shall it bring? More lies, I'm guessing. Read the rest of this post...

Bad members of Congress are trying to sell the Internet to the telecom companies

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Should this surprise anyway? Read this, and do what Matt says. Schnell. Read the rest of this post...

Lawsuit says Defense Department is violating the privacy of millions of high school kids

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Big surprise there. Read the rest of this post...

Senate GOP forced to take on oil companies as gas prices soar

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You always hurt the one you love.

Even the Republicans can no longer defend their filthy-rich friends in the oil industry as they milk the American public to death. Read the rest of this post...

Equality Forum now lying about Jeff Gannon's attendance at conference in Philly next week

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UPDATE: I just found the email dated 3 days ago in which Malcolm Lazin, the executive director of the Equality Forum, says he agrees with Pam and me about our concerns regarding the panel. So how is it that I'm the bad guy when the conference's own executive director shares my concerns? Oh the tangled Web we weave...

I just received a statement issued by the organizers of next week's Philadelphia gay conference. The release is a response to my announcement that I will not be sitting on a panel with Jeff Gannon (nor will top lesbian blogger Pam Spaulding). The press release shows that the organization running the event, the Equality Forum, is now outright lying about the entire debacle.

Too bad I have our email correspondence and will be publishing excerpts below.

But before we get into that, why is it that gay organizations always find themselves attacking the people who try to help the community, and defending the homophobic plagiarizing whores? Just food for thought...

Here is the statement just issued by one of the conference organizers:
Statement from Equality Forum re: John Aravosis

Equality Forum annually presents the largest annual national and international symposium on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights, among other national projects.

For Equality Forum 2006, our Board of Directors unanimously chose to focus on the growing influence of GLBT blogs on mainstream news media at the 9th annual National Media Panel.

One of the biggest stories last year related to this topic was the online investigation of a White House correspondent named Jeff Gannon. GLBT bloggers led by John Aravosis questioned his journalistic experience, identity and personal history. Subsequent mainstream media attention led to Gannon’s eviction from the White House.

This was not the only related story from the past year. GLBT bloggers rallied around a Tennessee teenager sent to an ex-gay camp by his parents; pressured Microsoft and Ford not to give in to threats of boycotts by religious conservatives; exposed the executions of two gay Iranian teenagers; and more. These stories were covered by mainstream journalists only after GLBT bloggers publicized these stories.

Equality Forum’s goal is to have balanced programming which explores unique opinions and engages its participants. Equality Forum invited both Jeff Gannon and John Aravosis to participate on the panel. Both knew that the other was invited.

The 9th annual National Media Panel was not intended to solely be a debate between Aravosis and Gannon. To broaden the scope of the panel, Equality Forum invited Pam Spaulding, an African-American lesbian blogger, and Anne Gordon, Managing Editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who could represent the mainstream media’s view of GLBT blogs. As in the prior eight National Media Panels, each panelist is given time at the beginning of the panel to discuss issues of their choosing. The panel concludes with audience questions to either a specific panelist, several panelists or the entire panel. The questions are not pre-screened.

Professor Katherine Sender was selected to moderate the panel. Professor Sender is a respected faculty member at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and has been a well-regarded past moderator of the National Media Panel.

After Professor Sender contacted the panelists about the program structure, Mr. Aravosis objected to the inclusion of other topics besides Jeff Gannon.
That's an outright lie, more later.
Equality Forum does not dictate the content of programming nor censor any panelist’s opinion. It is the responsibility of a moderator to remain objective and give each panelist the opportunity to express his or her views, and to include a range of important issues. Mr. Aravosis wanted to control the content of the overall panel. When no compromise could be achieved, Mr. Aravosis elected not to participate.

The annual Equality Forum presents programming with a diversity of opinions and viewpoints. The panels are designed to facilitate open and informative communication.

Mike LaMonaca
Program Director
Equality Forum
Okay, let's get into this.

1. What happened to Pam Spaulding? Or don't the views of African-American lesbians matter to the Equality Forum? How did this suddenly become me versus Gannon when Pam, another invited panelist, who just happens to be the number one lesbian political blogger in the country, voiced the same concerns as me and has also pulled off the panel? Or is Pam just a girl, and a black one at that, so she doesn't count?

Or is it easier for Equality Forum to lie to the public and paint this as "Aravosis wanted to control the overall content of the panel," when in fact another prominent panelist raised the same concerns and has now backed out, proving this wasn't about "Aravosis" at all?

2. Did you notice how Equality Forum admits Jeff Gannon was added to the panel to "balance" me? How is Jeff Gannon, plagiarizing homophobic man-whore the conservative counterpart to me? If that isn't the Equality Forum trying to legitimate and give credibility to Gannon, I don't know what is. Not to mention, sane gay conservatives should be outraged that the Equality Forum thinks Jeff Gannon is your mascot.

3. The crux of the Equality Forum's argument is the following:
"Mr. Aravosis objected to the inclusion of other topics besides Jeff Gannon."
Powerful stuff, if it were true.

In fact, the issue wasn't the inclusion of other topics besides Jeff Gannon, the issue was that the panel was ONLY going to focus on other non-GannonGate related topics. I'd have been happy to have other non-Gannon topics along with a GannonGate topic, and said so - see my emails below.

Here is what the Annenberg professor wanted us to discuss:
I would like us to focus on such overarching questions as: in what ways has blogging changed how we think about GLBT media? What does blogging add to public discussion of sexuality? What rights and responsibilities do bloggers have in writing about GLBT issues? How should we encourage the audience to think about blogging? In order to focus the conversation, please come prepared to talk for about five minutes about an example of blogging (yours or others) as it relates to GLBT civil rights/identity/media. The more concrete illustration of these relationships the better.
Note what I wrote her back in response:
I have a serious problem with [Gannon] on the panel if his issue isn't one of the main points of discussion.
I then again reiterated that "Gannon's story [needs to be] one of the major points of discussion on this panel."

And in yet another email I wrote to the conference organizer, I made clear that GannonGate should be ONE OF SEVERAL issues discussed at the panel, including non-GannonGate issue (though, honestly, it's not clear what Gannon's gay expertise is at all beyond his own scandal - the man doesn't even claim to be gay!):
I said I had no problem [Gannon] being added [to the panel] because it seemed rather obvious that his issue would be one of the major points we'd be discussing.
Again, the issue here is whether GannonGate would be included at all as one of the main issues the panel would be discussing. No one ever said it had to be the ONLY issue discussed, and for the Equality Forum to suggest otherwise is an outright, and quite troubling, lie.

4. How am I the bad guy here if the Equality Forum's own executive director told me by email that he embraced Pam's and my concerns about the moderator refusing to add GannonGate as a topic?

(Katherine is the Annenberg school moderator.) So much for Aravosis trying to control the panel. The conference's own executive director said I was right.

The real question is why the Equality Forum believes that Jeff Gannon (aka James Guckert) is an expert on blogging when he's been running a blog of zero influence for only a year? What does Jeff Gannon even know of the gay community, when Gannon himself says he's not even gay? And how is Gannon, someone whose own writings (and I use the term "own writings" loosely) are terribly homophobic, in any way a valid voice on any panel at a gay conference? Had the Equality Forum wanted a gay conservative blogger, there are many - and even a few who aren't themselves homophobes. So why exactly did the Equality Forum pick Jeff Gannon for this panel, since his sexual exploits aren't the expertise they were looking for?

For a little more on Jeff Gannon's credentials for speaking at the conference as a real journalist, read this from Vanity Fair:
Among the prime offenders, he says, have been "radical gay activists," whom he accuses of "hyper-hysterical homosexual hypocrisy." Frustrated over the success of the amendments banning same-sex marriage, which has been blamed for John Kerry's loss, they were directing their rage at Gannon, he believes. "People like me are a threat to them because there are things that are more important to me than sexual issues," he says. "That's their whole world. It isn't my whole world. The people who flew those planes on 9/11 couldn't have cared less about the sexuality of any of the people they killed." Gannon refuses to discuss his own sexual orientation, though he quotes approvingly from a column by Ann Coulter, who wrote, "Unlike [former New York Times executive editor Howell] Raines, Rather and Jordan, Gannon has appeared on television and given a series of creditable interviews in his own defense, proving our gays are more macho than their straights."

"I fit no stereotype of what a conservative is," he says. "I'm sure that someone somewhere out there thinks I'm a self-loathing racist homophobe, but I'm none of these things." Some of his fiercest gay detractors had even come on to him, he claims, shedding their convictions "like a sweater on a hot day." He says he'd put the issue of gay marriage to a vote and that he would go with whatever the majority decided....

Aravosis insists that by aligning himself with homophobes, by giving anti-gay crusaders disproportionate space in his stories (in a piece on the legality of gay marriage, he devoted 3 paragraphs to proponents and 20 to those opposed) and by filling those stories with code (calling gays "homosexual," appending a "radical" or "practicing" before the term and an "agenda" or "activist" after) Gannon had ceded any right to his privacy. That Gannon went back and forth in his stories, Aravosis says, sometimes writing a bit more evenhandedly on gays, may show how conflicted he is about his sexuality, a point with which one of Gannon's friends agrees. "If I talk to Jeff about a lot of gay issues, he freaks—he can't go there," says the man. "Jeff never stood in front of the mirror, he doesn't think he's part of the gay community, and he doesn't think what he's done affects the gay community. The guy at the end of American Beauty—that's Jeff. He can't come to terms with who he is."
Yes, this is the guy the Equality Forum is busy defending as a real journalist, a real savant on gay issues, a real gay American. Read the rest of this post...

Blog reader survey results are out

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Chris Bowers dissects them here.

In a nutshell? You're extremely well-educated well-off guys with a bit of a gut. Read the rest of this post...

US House passes legislation protecting the privacy of your phone records

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Now that's pretty damn cool.
The House yesterday passed a bill designed to protect the privacy of telephone numbers -- legislation that was introduced early this year after publicity generated in part by a blogger....

As reported in my Feb. 14 column, the push to protect phone records had languished until early this year. After John Aravosis of Americablog read an article about the issue, he decided to make cell-phone privacy a pet cause.

Aravosis first bought his own records to prove a point, then he bought the records of someone who mattered: 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark. That ploy generated lots of publicity and jumpstarted the issue in Congress....
Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Busy day. Lots to discuss. Read the rest of this post...

CNN reporting that Rove is meeting with special prosecutor today

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Think Progress has the details. Read the rest of this post...

GOP candidate for Ohio Governor releases Social Security records

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One Columbus, OH report is saying there were millions of records released by Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's office "accidentally." The Ohio GOP is battling countless corruption scandals after years of unchallenged rule and you know what they say about absolute power and corruption.
Voter lists are crucial to political parties. They give campaign workers an efficient way to target potential supporters. The lists usually consist of the names of registered voters, their addresses, their party affiliation, and whether that person voted in the last election.

Social security numbers aren't supposed to be revealed.

But they have been because of a mistake by Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's campaign.

This is the second time this year private information has been compromised by Mr. Blackwell's office. In March, a link on the Secretary of State's website revealed hundreds of Social Security numbers listed on public documents.
Read the rest of this post...

I canceled my appearance on the upcoming panel with Gannon/Guckert, the homophobic White House Republican prostitute accused of plagiarism

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(Below is a longer explanation of what transpired over the past five days. But I wanted to mention this now, since Atrios had posted that Gannon/Guckert and I were going to be on a panel next week.)

We WERE going to be on a panel, but the panel moderator, who works at the Annenberg School, isn't interested in the Gannon issue being one of the main topics we discuss on the panel - i.e., she wants to have Gannon on the panel as an actual expert blogger and gay rights savant! the moderator literally told me that rather than have the panel devolve into a discussion about the Gannon issue, she'd rather have Gannon and me talk about ex-gay conversion therapy. And what pray tell is Gannon's expertise on ex-gay conversion? That he may have once charged an ex-gay $200 an hour?

Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend (see the link for Pam's explanation of what transpired) and I simply could not lend our names to helping giving Gannon credibility as an authentic gay journalist and civil rights pundit - as though somehow Gannon is the respectable conservative counterpart to our blogs and our voices - so we both pulled off the panel last night after five days of begging the moderator and the conference organizers to give the people what they want - a panel discussion about the Gannon affair from last year, or at least making the Gannon issue one of the main issues the panel would discuss. The response we got from the panel moderator was that we could certainly mention Gannon in our introduction or our responses to any question. Gee, that's swell of you.

It's the National Press Club all over again. Somehow the fact that Gannon was exposed as a $200/hour hooker while writing homophobic articles for some far-right religious-right suck-up rag now establishes him as a credible journalist when he wasn't before. He's been accused repeatedly of plagiarism and has yet to prove otherwise. Why not put the Washington Post ex-blogger, the one who had to quit because of his serial plagiarism, on a panel and get his expert advice on journalistic research and ethics?

Pam and I agreed to be on this panel knowing full well that Gannon was going to be on it. Some of you, and some of my friends privately, didn't like that fact. Still, I defended the decision because I "knew" - ha! - that a panel about gay blogging with me and Gannon on it was going to clearly address the Gannon affair as one of the key issues to be discussed, and that would permit me to call Jeff/James on his bull. In my wildest dreams I never imagined anyone with an once of journalist blood in them could ever consider Gannon a serious blogger, journalist, or gay rights sage. That is simply sick, and neither Pam nor I will have any part of it.

(Note: I'm not speaking for Pam, she can explain her own view on her own blog, but we have been in touch and I know Pam shares my concerns and that's why she too has withdrawn from the panel.)

Finally, I really need to address one thing. The man running the entire show in Philly next week just sent Pam and me an email suggesting that we were "hiding behind our computers" by canceling our appearance on the panel, as if Pam and I are afraid of Jeff Gannon.

Putting aside the fact that Pam and I had agreed months ago to appear with Gannon, so there obviously wasn't any fear on our parts, I do have to admit I was nervous about one thing.

Whether Jeff would sock me with a bill for $200 after the debate was over.

(PS Pam dropped a couple of hundred bucks on her plane ticket to Philly. She tells me she's gonna go to Philly anyway, even though she's not speaking on the panel anymore. Perhaps some of you could donate a little love to Pam to thank her for her courageous stand.) Read the rest of this post...

The letter heard literally 'round the world

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My friend Jeffy Whitty wrote an open letter to Jay Leno recently. It was about Leno's penchant for making girly-man fag jokes on the air. Jeff wrote the letter because Leno ticked him off. Little did he know that the letter would make its way around the Internet so many times that he nows doing CNN interviews about it.

Pretty cool stuff. And an amazing example of what one person can do.

Even more interesting, Jeff didn't have to speak out. In fact, it was in his interes NOT to speak out. Jeff is a playwright. He wrote the book, as it's called, to the hit Broadway musical "Avenue Q," and he even won a Tony for it. Jay Leno, like Oprah, is someone you really DON'T want to tick off.

Didn't stop Jeff. Very cool.

Here are a few snippets from Jeff's letter - please do read the entire thing, and email it to some friends.
Dear Mr. Leno,

My name is Jeff Whitty. I live in New York City. I'm a playwright and the author of "Avenue Q", which is a musical currently running on Broadway.

I've been watching your show a bit, and I'd like to make an observation:

When you think of gay people, it's funny. They're funny folks. They wear leather. They like Judy Garland. They like disco music. They're sort of like Stepin Fetchit as channeled by Richard Simmons.

Gay people, to you, are great material.

Mr. Leno, let me share with you my view of gay people:

When I think of gay people, I think of the gay news anchor who took a tire iron to the head several times when he was vacationing in St. Maarten's. I think of my friend who was visiting Hamburger Mary's, a gay restaurant in Las Vegas, when a bigot threw a smoke bomb filled with toxic chemicals into the restaurant, leaving the staff and gay clientele coughing, puking, and running in terror. I think of visiting my gay friends at their house in the country, sitting outside for dinner, and hearing, within hundreds of feet of where we sat, taunting voices yelling "Faggots." I think of hugging my boyfriend goodbye for the day on 8th Avenue in Manhattan, and being mocked and taunted by passing high school students.

When I think of gay people, I think of suicide. I think of a countless list of people who took their own lives because the world was so toxically hostile to them. Because of the deathly climate of the closet, we will never be able to count them. You think gay people are great material. I think of a silent holocaust that continues to this day. I think of a silent holocaust that is perpetuated by people like you, who seek to minimize us and make fun of us and who I suspect really, fundamentally wish we would just go away....
Read the rest of this post...

Bush needs a GOP Congress or he's really screwed

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Bush's ability to further destroy America depends on a GOP-controlled Congress:
President Bush is not on the ballot in November, but he might as well be. Republican losses could make an already difficult situation in Congress almost untenable for him.

If his party loses control of one, or both chambers of Congress, the next two years could be a political nightmare for Bush and his GOP allies on Capitol Hill.
It will be a national nightmare if Bush remains unchecked until 2009. The only way to control him is to change control of Congress. The White House knows this. That's why Karl Rove is going to get really, really ugly this year -- even uglier than usual.

Instead of waiting around for the GOP attacks, the Dems. need to take the offensive. Attack first. Out Rove Rove. Read the rest of this post...

Wednesday Morning Open Thread

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Bush looked like he was coming unglued while giving that oil speech yesterday. Lying has become standard operating procedure for the Prez. But, even for him, it must have been hard to pretend that he was going to get tough on his oil buddies.

And, I still hate Comcast. They suck. Read the rest of this post...

Another "Surprise" Visit to Iraq

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This time it's Condi and Rummy . Incompetence times two. That should whip Iraq in to shape. Read the rest of this post...

DaimlerChrysler joins the ethanol madness

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Besides changing the subject of fuel dependency and gluttony, why all of the talk about ethanol like it is some kind of savior for the nation? It costs more to produce, requires massive government subsidies to corporate farmers and uses more fossil fuels to even be produced in the first place. So what's to like about that? I'm all for fuel efficiency (a scandalous thought for the GOP) and helping alternative energies but ethanol? Let's move on and get serious about a real energy program. Read the rest of this post...

Kenny-boy blames the media

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Yep, right out of the GOP handbook. Who would have guessed that he was such good friends with Bush? He didn't seem to shy away from the media drooling over him and Enron before the collapse but somehow good ol' Kenny forgot that it works both ways.

So what ever happened to that $2,000,000 per year payout insurance plan that he has? That would be the plan that is completely protected from bankruptcy, courtesy of friends in Congress. If only those investors had such a fall back position. Read the rest of this post...

The sad state of healthcare in the US

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I guess as long as the Big Pharma and GOP special interests are raking in the mega bucks, it's OK. Any change would be socialist, naturally. Healthy workers are such a nuisance.
  • More than 40% of middle income Americans went without insurance
  • Above 40% was only 28% in 2001!!
  • 20% of working adults paying off medical debt
  • 60% of uninsured adults with chronic illnesses skip medicine because they can't afford it
"The jump in uninsured among those with modest incomes is alarming, particularly at a time when our economy has been improving," said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis, who helped write the study.

"For an uninsured person who is unlucky enough to get sick, it is easy to see how quickly they can fall into a downward spiral of debt, forgone care, and poorer health," Sara Collins, Commonwealth Fund senior program officer, said in a statement.
Read the rest of this post...

Another open thread

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And I'm off to bed. Read the rest of this post...

We hate Comcast open thread

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Joe is hating Comcast right about now, so we're commiserating with him. The tech guy lied to him, and he's on dial-up right now. Sad Joe. Read the rest of this post...

More Lieberman-bashing in CT - apparently the voters there want a real Democrat this time around

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Ouch. Read the rest of this post...

Back from Greek Easter

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Have lots and lots and lots of new orchid photos for the Fridays. So what have I been missing? Read the rest of this post...

Using leaks as a pretext, Bush wants to destroy what's left of the free press

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From Murray Waas who examines not only the hypocrisy of the Bush administration and the GOP when it comes to leaks, he looks at the way the Bush team is using this as a weapon to silence and squelch his political enemies. It's Kremlinesque:
In a response to questions for this article, Times Editor Bill Keller said in an e-mail that he believed the Bush White House is on a campaign to intimidate the press. "I'm not sure journalists fully appreciate the threat confronting us," Keller wrote. "The Times in the eavesdropping case, the Post for its CIA prison stories, and everyone else who has tried to look behind the war on terror."

Keller asserted that "there's sometimes a vindictive tone in the way [administration officials] talk about dragging reporters before grand juries and in the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors." He warned that journalists possibly are "suffering a bit of subpoena fatigue. Maybe some people are a little intimidated by the way the White House plays the soft-on-terror card. Whatever the reason, I worry that we're not as worried as we should be."

On the issue of leak investigations, one former senior intelligence official said that the Bush administration has targeted "leaks and leakers they don't like, while turning a blind eye to those they do like, or [leaks] they do themselves." Should this continue, the former official said, it would set a "dangerous precedent in that any president will be able to control the flow of information regarding any policy dispute.... When historians examine this, they will see that is how we got into war with Iraq."
The Bush effort to destroy the press will leave us with Fred Hiatt, the Washington Times and FOX News. It's bad enough now, but imagine that. The way things are going historians may have to examine whether this lack of scrutiny got us into a war with Iran, too?

This is scary stuff -- and the hypocrisy is monumental. If Bush cared about prosecuting leakers, Karl Rove would be in jail. And the Waas article reminds us that Senator Pat Roberts would be too. Read the rest of this post...

Fuzzy math from the Prez

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The press is abuzz over Bush's decision to stop depositing oil in the strategic reserve -- the mere fact that Bush did something has them all twittering. Dan Froomkin took a look at what it actually means. Not much:
While stopping short of actually tapping the reserves, Bush ordered a temporary halt to any further deposits -- a move that will slightly increase supply available to consumers.

Dow Jones reports that the move would free up about 70,000 barrels a day otherwise destined for the reserve in the coming weeks.

By my calculations, that's about one third of one percent of the total U.S. consumption of about 20 million barrels a day -- anyone want to call that a drop in the bucket?
Bush was being literal when he said "Every little bit helps." Read the rest of this post...

Pelosi the Leader

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Okay, now this is what a Minority Leader Speaker of the House looks like. Atrios has the transcript and a link to the video which is definitely worth watching....(and worth repeating, Mrs. Pelosi.) Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Stir it up. Read the rest of this post...

Tomorrow could be a Snow Day at the White House

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Tomorrow we'll see the actual morphing of FOX News into the White House according to what they're hearing Think Progress

UPDATE: Courtesy of Think Progress, we have some words of wisdom from Tony Snow. My favorite:
“George Bush has become something of an embarrassment.” [11/11/05]
Read the rest of this post...

IRS still not investigating right wing political churches in Ohio

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Not that it's a surprise, but the IRS is ignoring the blatant partisan political activities of right-wing religious groups in Ohio. Under federal tax law, churches can't engage in electoral politicals -- unless, apparently, they're supporting GOP candidates like Ken Blackwell:
"You have flagrant intervention continuing and no indication of IRS activity," said Marcus Owens, a lawyer for the group and former director of the IRS office that regulates tax-exempt organizations. He considers the evidence of wrongdoing "pretty overwhelming" and suspects favoritism, which tax agency officials deny.
The right wingers know the Bush IRS will never investigate them. Never. Ever. Read the rest of this post...

Big win for Oil Companies -- Bush suspends enviro. regs.

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Bonanzas for the oil industry all around. They get outrageous profits and, thanks to their President, a big break on environmental controls:
President Bush on Tuesday ordered a temporary suspension of environmental rules for gasoline, making it easier for refiners to meet demand and possibly dampen prices at the pump.
And you want to bet removing those environmental rules means even more profit? What a racket.

UPDATE: Check out "10 Reasons Republicans Are to Blame for High Gas Prices" over at the DSCC. As for that feigned GOP concern about price gouging, here are two key facts:
Senate Republicans killed a Democratic proposal to make gas price gouging a federal crime. Without making price gouging a federal crime, the federal government can only prosecute oil companies if they can prove collusion to control markets, a standard that is nearly impossible to meet. [S. 2020, Vote #334, 11/17/05; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/18/05]

The Bush Federal Trade Commission has looked the other way when it comes to price gouging. Even during Hurricane Katrina, when price gouging was rather evident, the FTC investigation "found no evidence of collusion among oil companies in the 2005 gas price surge.” [ San Francisco Chronicle, 4/25/06]
Read the rest of this post...

"Jack in the House" is Back

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Thanks to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Jack in the House is back. New and revamped -- and playing hard ball because that's what CREW does. They're telling Congressman Bob Ney to resign. And he should, although it will be great when he loses in November.

All of the rest of Jack's many, many pals -- including Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist and a pile of other GOP Senators and Congressman -- aren't going to like this site either. Read the rest of this post...

Speaking for the Senate Republicans, Elizabeth Dole really is an idiot

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I read this quote in an AP article and thought, huh? Could she be such a moron? I know it comes from here lackeys at the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, but it's so pathetic.
Sen. Elizabeth Dole, chairwoman of the Republican Senate campaign committee, issued a statement that said, "Democrats have decided to play partisan politics with gas prices in a flailing attempt to distract from the growing economy."
Clearly, Dole and the GOP are the ones flailing. They've been in cahoots with big oil for years. For Christ sakes, the Prez and the Veep are OIL MEN. According to Open Secrets, oil and gas interests have given 80% of their political money to the GOP over the past couple cycles -- that percentage has risen steadily. The best Dole can do is a press release blaming the Dems. for playing politics.

To Dole and the GOP, pointing out the pain being caused to American families by skyrocketing gas prices is partisan politics. Because to them, everything is politics. To American families, $3.00 a gallon (and rising fast) is a very harsh reality -- that's something the GOP has really been missing. Read the rest of this post...

Tuesday Morning Open Thread

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Start threading the news... Read the rest of this post...

Airlines jamming in more customers

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Stand up tickets? I remember a joke years ago on "In Living Color" and I heard rumors about stand up tickets in India but Airbus has actually promoted the idea to some airlines. This sounds like an idea that the consumer-hating German Wings would love, just to make customers even more miserable, if that is even possible with them. I don't mind bringing my own food on flights (as long as something edible is available at the airport) but the shrinking space and even talk of standing room "seats" is really getting to be too much.

Only two nights ago I heard a story of a recent transatlantic flight where a few customers quickly pushed back their seats, crushing the knees of those in the row behind them and spilling drinks. This of course led to some heated exchanges which was followed by drinks being dumped on each other by four fliers. Pretty bad but not uncommon these days. With the spaces shrinking it can only get worse. Read the rest of this post...

Big Oil strikes again

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In a debate that has similar environmental overtones to the Alaska drilling discussion, Shell is moving forward with an offshore drilling and pipeline project in the Sakhalin Islands despite claims by scientists, environmentalists not to mention their own studies that the project is causing and will continue to cause severe problems for an endangered whale population and other wildlife. Shell has been dreaming of this drilling project for years and facts be damned, they will move ahead.

Shell is littered with problems ranging from oil reserve re-statements, to conflict in Nigeria (by failing to live up to their end of agreements) and now they are ignoring the environmental problems in Sakhalin and seem OK with killing off a species of whale. And to think Bush wants to give Shell and Big Oil billions in handouts. Read the rest of this post...

23 killed in Egypt bombings

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Another catastrophe in Egypt. The attack was aimed at killing and terrifying foreign tourists but again, like the previous attacks, many more locals were killed. Read the rest of this post...

FOX anchor Tony Snow likely to become new White House press secretary

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It's been rumored for days, and now is rumored to be a done deal. Whatever. The White House of lies hires the network of lies. And this is a surprise? Read the rest of this post...

Bush administration lied about reason for firing CIA agent last Friday, wasn't because she leaked about CIA prisons

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UPDATE: I finally corrected the link, sorry about that.

The Bush administration said explicitly last Friday that a CIA agent was fired for leaking classified information, assumed to be regarding the existence of secret CIA prisons in former Soviet gulags in Eastern Europe.

Today we find out they were just kidding.

She didn't leak any classified information.

She didn't say anything about the secret prisons.

Oh, she's still fired, we just don't know why. Then why was she fired? And why did the Bush administration tell the world that she was a leaker when she wasn't?

They fired this woman ten days before she was due to retire. Then they lied about why. Sounds to me like this was one more bit of retribution by George Bush against a woman whose expert analysis of the facts didn't toe the Bush pro-war line.

Someone on the Hill needs to launch a major investigation of this case because it's beginning to look like this impeccable public servant just got screwed. Read the rest of this post...

Another Dubai port deal?

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Asia Times
In a deal similar to one that led to the Dubai ports furor in the US earlier this year, Dubai International Capital has purchased for US$1.24 billion Doncasters Group Ltd, a private British aerospace manufacturer that works on sensitive weapons programs such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

The administration of US President George W Bush is conducting a security review of the takeover, and then it will present its findings to Congress...
Read the rest of this post...

Religious right Republicans threaten to sue Massachusetts school for mentioning "marriage" in school

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Actually, the marriage discussion was about gay people getting married. Sounds controversial discussing it in grade school? Not when gays are permitted to marry in the state of Massachusetts, and when its the exact same marriage straight people get. It is normal, because it simply is. You can't sue the school for mentioning marriage, and claiming that marriage is discussing "sex" in school - in that case, any time they send a permission slip home to mommy, they're discussing sex.

The religious right Republicans are still fighting a culture war in Massachusetts.

Newsflash. You already lost. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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What's up? Read the rest of this post...

Almighty-based foreign policy

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It's god's fault Iraq is such a disaster. Bush is just his vessel:
Later, Bush said: "I base a lot of my foreign policy decisions on some things that I think are true. One, I believe there's an Almighty. And, secondly, I believe one of the great gifts of the Almighty is the desire in everybody's soul, regardless of what you look like or where you live, to be free."
Bush gets more frightening by the day. Read the rest of this post...

A really low new low for Bush

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Wolf just reported in the "Situation Room" that CNN's latest puts Bush's approval rating at 32% -- with a 60% disapproval.

John proposes that we all pop champagne when he breaks 30%...have small parties, some light snacks. Take pictures and we'll post them. The way things are going for the Prez, start chilling the bubbly.

UPDATE: Link to the CNN poll story. It's clear to Americans that Bush sucks. Read the rest of this post...

Congress may give the Internet away to big business

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Not kidding. This is serious, and it's happening now. And it could put the blogs out of business.

More here. And more later. Read the rest of this post...

More idiotic unnamed Democratic strategists

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Will these so-called Democratic strategists ever learn to shut up? The latest absurdity? Saying that the primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire somehow show that the Democratic party is racist. Why? Because, according to the unnamed strategist, "you're basically saying only white people's votes count in those early states."

Uh huh.

Well, newsflash. I don't see a very large gay or Latino or Jewish or Muslim or Asian population in those states either. So that makes Democrats homophobolatinojudaiomusulmanoasiaticophobic too, right? So maybe we should make east LA and San Francisco states and hold the first primaries there so we can suck up to the cumbaya chorus?

Sure, that would be saying the votes of white people don't count, but somehow that calculus never seems to matter when you're intent on finding some harm when there is none.

And we wonder why Democrats never win the majority in the election. I'd like to see these Democratic strategists have the nerve to actually discuss their complaints publicly, by name, then let's talk. But at this point, it's hard to take someone seriously who doesn't even have the courage of their own convictions. Read the rest of this post...