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Lesbian mom-to-be Mary Cheney disses religious right leader James Dobson

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Dick Cheney's daughter, and former gay rights activist and professional homosexual and head of the vice president's re-election campaign, Mary Cheney publicly declared today to an open panel discussion, and then in a personal interview with the New York Times (circulation 1.1 million), that her lesbian out-of-wedlock pregnancy is a private matter and it's none of anybody's busines. Apparently, irony isn't big in the Cheney family.

Mary then laid into the #1 religious right leader James Dobson, accusing him of distorting scientific research in order to slam gays.

The religous right has a real problem with Mary. She claims she doesn't want to get political, but she already has, and continues to do so. And in the end, she's daddy's little girl. And everyone knows that daddy is the real president of the United States. If the religious right is trying to figure out why their agenda has disappeared from the Republican agenda, they need go no further than Mary. Read the rest of this post...

Top GOP Senator and Bush ally says war will be over in six months if there isn't progress. Senate Dems and Repubs merge two anti-"surge" resolutions.

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They're melting.

First, Senators John Warner (R-VA) and Carl Levin(D-MI) agreed to merge their competing resolutions, giving the merged resolution a much better chance of passage.

Second, GOP minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with conservative GOP hawk and Bush suck-up Pat Roberts (R-KS), both seemed to endorse a timetable this week. Roberts - who you'll remember as the Senate Intelligence Committee Chair who refused to do anything critical of the Bush administration for six years - today said we won't be able to sustain the war more than six months without some real progress, and McConnell said this week that the "surge" was the Iraqi government's "last chance."

More from AP:
"I don't think this war can be sustained for more than six months if in fact we don't see some progress," said Roberts. His comments came two days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the new U.S. military push was the Iraqis' "last chance."
It's anarchy on the Republican side of the aisle. Things are moving fast. Read the rest of this post...

Molly Ivins has died

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From AP:
Best-selling author and columnist Molly Ivins, the sharp-witted liberal who skewered the political establishment and referred to President Bush as "Shrub," died Wednesday after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 62....

In a column in mid-January, Ivins urged readers to stand up against Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq.

"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war," Ivins wrote in the Jan. 11 column. "We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!'"
Read the rest of this post...

Turner Broadcasting, parent company of hate-speech shock jock Glenn Beck, places bomb-looking devices in bridges across America

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Smart move. Though what do you expect from a network that thinks "faggot" is just "a naughty name," that thinks Muslim-Americans may all be working with the terrorists, that the Katrina survivors are scumbags, and that the 9/11 victims families are hateful. It's all about the ratings with that company.

More on Turner's hate speech here, including contact info for Best Buy, which is sponsoring Beck's show. Read the rest of this post...

Check out Maine Congressman Tom Allen's interview with My Two Sense

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Chris Achorn, a.k.a Chris from Maine, who has been kicking butt with his anti-Glenn Beck campaign, scored an interview with Maine Democratic Congressman Tom Allen. Chris posted the interview on his blog My Two Sense.

This is, I think, one of Allen's first interviews with a blogger -- and it's cool that he did it with a Maine blogger. Tom told Chris that his top three priorities are 1) Addressing the Health Care Crisis; 2) Ending the Conflict in Iraq; and 3) Global Warming and Alternative Energy. This was one of the other questions:
CHRIS FROM MAINE: How important do you feel it is to investigate the President's actions on the Iraq war and various other measures some find to be either unconstitutional or illegal?

TOM ALLEN: My constituents have repeatedly expressed outrage at the fact that recent Congresses have refused to conduct meaningful investigations into the misleading justifications for war made by Administration officials. Since the start of the war, I have joined colleagues in responding to the public’s outcry by writing numerous appeals to committee chairmen, introducing legislation, and making public appeals for proper investigations. For the past several years, all have fallen on deaf Republican ears. Under Republican control neither of Congress’ two premier oversight committees, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee or the House Government Reform Committee, held even one hearing on the White House’s incorrect statements on threats posed by Iraq in the lead-up to the war. This will change under the 110th Congress. It is vital that we find out what mistakes have been made so that we do not repeat them in the future.
Tom Allen is a great Congressman. More importantly, Allen is gearing up to challenge Republican Senator Susan Collins in 2008. He can beat her.

Collins chaired the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in the last Congress. Despite that position of power, Collins did nothing to challenge Bush. In fact, just this morning, Collins was featured in an NBC news piece on the disastrous and wasteful Baghdad Police Academy project. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued a scathing report about the fraud and abuse in that US government funded job. There was Collins acting all outraged.

Yet, she was the chair of the very Senate Committee that could have -- and should have -- asked questions -- but she didn't do anything to upset her President and defend her country.

She's useless. And despite what she's now saying about Iraq - which is frankly flip-flopping all over the place - Collins is already supporting the leading advocate of escalating the war, John McCain, for President. Susan always wants it both ways. She's no Olympia.

This is going to be a great race. And, it's good to see that Tom engaging the Maine blogosphere. Read the rest of this post...

New report shows our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan STILL don't have the equipment they need

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Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) is hopping mad about the latest Pentagon scandal. You won't be surprised to learn that yet again the Bush administration and the Republican congress short-changed our troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here's an excerpt from the executive summary of a report done by the Department of Defense's Inspector General, which was sent to Rep. Slaugther's office yesterday confirming equipment shortages faced by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan:
"…. Based on responses from approximately 1,100 Service members, they experienced shortages of force-protection equipment, such as up-armored vehicles, electronic countermeasure devices, crew-served weapons, and communications equipment. As a result, Service members were not always equipped to effectively complete their missions….

The Request for Forces process did not always ensure that Service members who performed missions that they do not traditionally perform – such as training, provincial reconstruction, detainee operations, and explosive ordinance disposal – received the equipment necessary to perform their wartime mission. As a result, Service members performed missions without the proper equipment, used informal procedures to obtain equipment and sustainment support, and canceled or postponed missions while waiting to receive equipment….

The U.S. Central Command's and the Army's internal controls were not adequate…."
Here is the link to that report. Read the rest of this post...

Gonzales to release domestic spying program details to congress

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Yes, Virginia, there is a democracy. But before we get too excited, let's wait and see what they actually release. Read the rest of this post...

Finally, a clean black guy

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Joe Biden needs to learn some humility if he ever wants to be president. He talks too much, doesn't have self-control, and either doesn't listen to his friends and advisers who tell him to learn to shut up once in a while, or he's such a jerk they don't even dare tell him. Either way, diarrhea of the mouth, and what it suggests about the brain, is the kind of thing that is dangerous in a president, let alone a presidential candidate.

Here is the latest from the man who bragged he came from a slave state. Biden on Obama:
“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
Yes, who isn't tired of of all those unclean, stupid, ebonics-speaking African-Americans in politics?

Okay, what Biden was trying to say, I think, was that Obama is quite possibly the first serious black presidential candidate who doesn't scare white people (or at least a good segment of white people). And I think that's true. Jesse Jackson? Scary (yeah, a lot of you like him, a lot of us don't). Alan Keyes? Insane. Al Sharpton? I find him funny, but he's still fighting the Tawana Brawley image. What other serious black candidates have we had? So, yes, in that context, Obama is the first candidate that doesn't routinely scare white people - and that's part of the reason Republicans are trying to smear him as a scary madrassa-attending radical Muslim.

But that's not what Biden said. He said we haven't had any black candidates who have been articulate, bright and clean. Jackson, Keyes, and Sharpton are all articulate, bright and clean. So what exactly was Biden's point?

If this were Biden's first racist "bimbo eruption," we could write it off as a simple mistake. But it's not. Read the rest of this post...

Senate agrees to minimum wage increase, Republicans force even more tax cuts for business

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Typical. The republican answer to everything: cut taxes for business. Particularly telling of the Republican mentality, the following quote:
"The Senate has recognized that our economy is interdependent," said Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo. "One simply cannot claim credit to be helping workers at the same time that they're hurting the businesses that employ them."
Funny that for the past six years, when Mr. Enzi and his republican colleagues were in charge, I seem to recall massive tax cuts for businesses, repeatedly, and not a lot of help for their workers. But now, suddenly, we need to tie any help for workers to even MORE tax cuts for business. It's the only idea Republicans have left - cut taxes for business. Read the rest of this post...

Update on Judy Miller testimony in Scooter Libby trial

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From E&P. Read the rest of this post...

AP corrects misleading budget story

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We wrote yesterday about an AP story on the budget that had a misleading headline and first paragraph. The AP has fixed it. Whether they heard and agreed with our concerns, or simply caught this one themselves, the article is now accurate - so thank you.

In the future, if someone from AP wants to give us a contact for passing along these kind of concerns, we can avoid having to write our criticisms online in order to get your attention. That doesn't mean we won't ever criticize AP in the future, but not every criticism needs to be published if it can be fixed quietly. Read the rest of this post...

Conservative Chicago Trib editorial blasts FOX over Obama smear, then blames bloggers for FOX's lies

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In a very weird editorial the other day, the Chicago Tribune, whose editorial board is decidedly conservative, blasted FOX News for helping smear Obama with the false accusation that he was a Muslim (he's really a Christian) who had attended radical Muslim schools as a child (he didn't). That's the good part of the editorial. From the Trib:
[W]hat [the Washington Times' magazine] Insight did on its Web site, and what Fox News did in repeating the report, was not ideological at all. It was unethical, unprofessional and shabby, a trifecta, if you will, in the world of journalism.
Oh really? The fact that the Washington Times and FOX News have no ethics proves that they didn't publish the smear with the intent of harming a Democrat? Because a news outlet having an ideological agenda would be unethical, I guess. (Not to mention, suggesting that the Washington Times isn't ideological?)

Then the kicker from the Trib:
It also is a sign of the growing indifference Internet "journalism" presents on the question of truth. Rumor is good enough. Bibles of blogging are created based on nothing more than rumor.
Right. The fact that two major multi-million dollar icons of the conservative mainstream media - the print publication Washington Times and the TV news channel FOX News - totally defamed an honest hard-working American is somehow proof that online, independent bloggers suck.

Now who has a problem with the truth? Read the rest of this post...

White House and GOP allies want filibuster of anti-escalation resolution

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Bush and his Senate Republican allies, led by McCain and Lieberman, don't want a vote on the anti-escalation resolutions -- the non-binding anti-escalation resolutions. They're planning to filibuster the resolution according to The New York Times
In advance of a possible Senate vote on the resolutions, Republican senators now appear widely divided over how to proceed. In trying to head off the resolution supported by Senators Warner and Collins, allies of the White House appear to be trying to muster at least the 41 votes they would need to prevent a vote on the measure under Senate rules. Mr. McCain is sponsoring the competing resolution that would establish benchmarks for the Iraqi government. He said the proposal also could be fashioned to give Congress more oversight.

Republicans were viewing Mr. McCain’s plan as a way to deter Republicans from joining in the resolutions more critical of Mr. Bush, and many Republicans said that would be preferable to one criticizing the troop buildup outright. Senators also said they were beginning to realize that the vote, while nonbinding, would be an important statement on Congressional sentiment regarding the war.
In plain english, "prevent[ing] a vote on the measure" is a filibuster. Bush and his pro-war Senate pals are escalating the importance of the resolution.

If the GOP wants to a filibuster, let them have it. Make it a real filibuster. Make them tell the American people every hour of every day how they support Bush's war. The American people are way ahead of the politicians when it comes to Iraq. The American people are over it. But, the GOP is stuck with their President and his war. Read the rest of this post...

Wednesday Morning Open Thread

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Lots swirling around out there. None of it is positive for Bush and his administration. They've been on a path of destruction -- whether it's Iraq or global warming or almost any other issue. It will take years for us to recover from this disastrous Presidency. Years. At least Congress is slowly starting to rein him in.

So, what's the latest? Read the rest of this post...

New audit shows even more waste and fraud in Iraq reconstruction

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And Bush wants even more taxpayer money to fund his mess? How much more taxpayer money should we throw at this black hole of spending when we still have the leftovers of Katrina to address? The war-monger crowd that ran the US into this war can simply take up a collection to fund the adventure that they wanted and leave taxpayers out of it.
According to the report, the State Department paid $43.8 million to contractor DynCorp International for the residential camp for police training personnel outside of Baghdad'?s Adnan Palace grounds that has stood empty for months. About $4.2 million of the money was improperly spent on 20 VIP trailers and an Olympic-size pool, all ordered by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior but never authorized by the U.S.

U.S. officials spent another $36.4 million for weapons such as armored vehicles, body armor and communications equipment that can't be accounted for. DynCorp also may have prematurely billed $18 million in other potentially unjustified costs, the report said.
The Waxman hearings will no doubt be interesting and informative. Read the rest of this post...

California to lead the way on the environment, again

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This reminds me of when I came out of the Al Gore movie with friends and just as we were passing the popcorn stand on our way out (i.e. steps away from exiting the theater) one friend -ever the optimist- stops and says "I thought about it and it's hopeless...there's nothing we can do to combat global warming." Actually, Gore did a great job of outlining what individuals can do and even has a page on the movie web site.

To that end, California wants to bring change by moving its population over to more energy efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs. We started to migrate our lightbulbs over to the 10 year type and honestly can't tell the difference. My only complaint is that I have been unable to find the 10 year lightbulbs for the non-standard sizes. Sure the 10 year lightbulbs are more efficient, but over time they are much cheaper. Read the rest of this post...

Video: Obama floor statement on withdrawing troops from Iraq

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(Hat tip, Politics TV) Read the rest of this post...

Obama calls for combat troop withdrawal from Iraq by March 2008

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Interesting. There was a time when even a senior senator simply introducing a bill would get no news coverage at all, since it happens every day, and introducing legsilation is a far cry from passing legislation. But when you hint at running for president, funny how the media covers you. And in this case, good.

UPDATE: The details of Obama's plan are here, on his Senate Web site. Read the rest of this post...

Ancient complex found near Stonehenge

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Yeah, it's not political, but it's cool. Read the rest of this post...

FBI illegally collecting the Internet communications of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of Americans

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We must destroy the Constitution in order to save it.
The FBI appears to have adopted an invasive Internet surveillance technique that collects far more data on innocent Americans than previously has been disclosed.

Instead of recording only what a particular suspect is doing, agents conducting investigations appear to be assembling the activities of thousands of Internet users at a time into massive databases, according to current and former officials. That database can subsequently be queried for names, e-mail addresses or keywords.

Such a technique is broader and potentially more intrusive than the FBI's Carnivore surveillance system, later renamed DCS1000. It raises concerns similar to those stirred by widespread Internet monitoring that the National Security Agency is said to have done, according to documents that have surfaced in one federal lawsuit, and may stretch the bounds of what's legally permissible.....

[The Electronic Frontier Foundation's staff attorney Kevin] Bankston] said that the FBI is "collecting and apparently storing indefinitely the communications of thousands--if not hundreds of thousands--of innocent Americans in violation of the Wiretap Act and the 4th Amendment to the Constitution."
(Hat tip, Raw Story.) Read the rest of this post...

Religious right jail worker refuses to give rape victim morning after pill

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The religous right is dangerous. They've taken over the Republican party, and now they're in the process of taking over the country, piece by piece. It's one thing for them to want to live some uber-pious life based on their (albeit warped) interpretation of the Bible, but it's quite another for them to force their view of the Bible down the throats of rape victims in public facilities.

Perhaps it's time we passed a federal law defending the rights of rape victims to the medicine of their choice.

More from Planned Parenthood. Read the rest of this post...

No matter how bonkers a conservative...

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...there is always a place for him at the dinner table of the Republican party.

Outside of preaching to the thin and shrinking minority of barking mad, anti-reality lunatics, this guy is a few years out of date and out of touch. Attacking Hollywood and liberals and blaming them for everything is sooooooo 2003 but then again, his kind in the GOP have been stuck in a bizarre time warp.
D'Souza identifies more than 100 people and organizations as part of a "domestic insurgency" that is "working in tandem with [Osama] bin Laden to defeat Bush." Among them are such well-known terrorists as Sharon Stone, Henry Louis Gates and Cindy Sheehan.
Haven't we been here before?
In short, D'Souza believes that bin Laden, although his tactics were deplorable, was expressing a legitimate case against America, that notorious fount of pornography, homosexuality and women's liberation.
Isn't this falling into the Falwell 9/11 territory, which blames America for 9/11? Not to mention, a top conservative now thinks that Osama had a legitimate gripe with the US. Why does D'Souza hate Americans and America? Read the rest of this post...

Boehner makes a boner

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House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), is being slammed by conservatives for his new stance on the Iraq war.

First complaint: Boehner is embracing a resolution that would "micromanage" (their words)the war effort in Iraq by setting benchmarks, etc. Also, implicit in the GOP support for such a resolution is the acknowledgement that Bush is either unwilling or unable to do what is necessary to win.

Second complaint: Boehner's support for any resolution undercuts the assertions of Dick Cheney and General Petraeus (Bush's new puppet general in Iraq) that every resolution Congress offers (unless it's a resolution that says "we love Bush" and that's about it) undercuts our troops and emboldens the enemy. In a recent conservative radio interiew, Boehner was asked why his resolution doesn't undercut the troops and embolden the enemy, and he refused to answer, repeatedly.

The conservatives conclude that this is become Boehner either never considered whether his resolution would help the enemy and hurt the troops, or because Boehner doesn't care. I would posit a third, more likely explanation:

Boehner may be evil, but he's not stupid. He knows that all this talk of emboldening the terrorists and hurting the troops is a lie, though a useful one, that the administration (and lots of dictators through the ages) pulls out to silence dissent, even though they know it's not really true.

That's why Boehner didn't answer. He couldn't answer. Either he would be forced to agree with the ridiculous notion that he's actively trying to help Al Qaeda and kill our soldiers, or he'd have to admit that what Cheney and Petraeus said was an un-American lie meant to chill the 70% or so of the public that understandably is concerned about the quagmire in Iraq.

Like I said: evil, not stupid. Read the rest of this post...

Oh, well that explains it

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UPDATE: Did Lugar plagiarize the Huffington Post? Just seems odd that the Huff Post wrote about the "draw play" analogy a week ago, and today it pops up in the Washington Post as Lugar's original idea.

Republican Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) on the Bush escalation plan in Iraq:
Some commentators have compared the Bush plan to a "Hail Mary" pass in football -- a desperate heave deep down the field by a losing team at the end of the game. Actually, a far better analogy for the Bush plan is a draw play on third down with 20 yards to go in the first quarter. The play does have a chance of working if everything goes perfectly, but it is more likely to gain a few yards and set up a punt on the next down, after which the game can be continued under more favorable circumstances.
Why didn't you say so in the first place?

PS What exactly does Lugar mean that we're going to be "punting" soon in Iraq, and apparently with his approval? Short of a withdrawal, what else could he possibly mean?

Update from AJ: If Senator Lugar is going to rip off AMERICAblog by bashing the "Hail Mary" comparisons, he should at least give us credit. Although his analogy, too, is asinine: the escalation is not going to "gain a few yards," metaphorically speaking. More importantly, though, a draw play isn't likely to, y'know, kill people. The escalation will. Read the rest of this post...

Rahm: Bush is the decider and Cheney is the denier

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Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL) on the House floor today:
Mr. Speaker, President Bush was recently asked about the differences between himself and Vice President Cheney. The President downplayed any distance, but the differences are clear. In defending his decision to escalate the war in Iraq, President Bush said 'I'm the Decision-Maker.' And recently, despite some of the most violent months in Iraq, Vice President Cheney said that the war had been a 'success.' So, the difference: Bush is the decider and Cheney is the denier.

And the result is a broken policy.

As today's Washington Post reports, the troops being sent to Iraq are going without adequate equipment. Once again, American troops are being sent into harms way on the cheap. As Yogi Berra said, 'It's Déjà vu all over again.'

Democrats and Republicans have supported every funding request made for the Iraq war - and we will continue to stand behind our troops. But we cannot and will not accept the failed policies of the past that left our troops without the equipment they need.

Mr. Speaker, ultimately it comes down to a simple question: Who's the decider and who's the denier?
Read the rest of this post...

Specter to Bush: You aren't the only decider (that was just the case when the GOP controlled Congress)

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Oh, now Arlen Specter gets a spine. Today, he challenged Bush's self-designation as the decider:
A Senate Republican on Tuesday directly challenged President Bush's declaration that "I am the decision-maker" on issues of war.

"I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole decider," Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said during a hearing on Congress' war powers amid an increasingly harsh debate over Iraq war policy. "The decider is a shared and joint responsibility," Specter said.
After six years of having GOPers on the Hill, like Specter, roll over for Bush, it's no wonder he thinks he's the sole decider. The GOP-led Congress was a rubber stamp for Bush. Never a challenge. Never a question.

Bush isn't the decider. But, it's not because Arlen Specter says it. Specter and his fellow Republicans had the chance to challenge Bush. They never did. The Democrats will. Read the rest of this post...

Another misleading story from the Associated Press

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Another entry in the "do your job" category.

The Associated Press just published a story about a "massive spending bill" those wild tax and spend Democrats are about to debate, you know, since they just love to spend our money.

Only problem? While that's what the title and first paragraph of the story imply, that's not what the story is about. In fact, the story is about how the Democrats are finally going to pass the budget that the Republicans refused to pass LAST YEAR - the budget that already went into effect last October.

So, the reason the spending bill is "massive" is because it takes all the budget bills that the Republicans failed to pass last year and lumps them into one big bill. So, yes, strictly speaking, it's a "massive" bill (because it's one bill, instead of the 13 separate bills (or so) that Congress normally passes to deal with appropriations). But by reading the AP headline, and the first paragraph, you get the impression that the Dems are feeding into their "big spender" stereotype, when in fact, they're not.

I don't think AP did this on purpose in order to slam the Dems. But I do think they did this on purpose in order to have a sensational headline and first paragraph. And putting aside the merits of sensationalism, you don't do it when it ends up misleading, and that is what it's doing. Read the rest of this post...

2 in 5 US government scientists in survey faced political pressure to skew global warming findings

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Better everyone die than Bush be proven wrong. Kind of a theme, isn't it. From AP:
Two private advocacy groups told a congressional hearing Tuesday that climate scientists at seven government agencies say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at downplaying the threat of global warming.

The groups presented a survey that shows two in five of the 279 climate scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained that some of their scientific papers had been edited in a way that changed their meaning. Nearly half of the 279 said in response to another question that at some point they had been told to delete reference to "global warming" or "climate change" from a report.
Read the rest of this post...

Ari for Congress campaign slogan: I outed a CIA officer. An undercover CIA officer. Vote for me.

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You may recall the reports from last December that Ari Fleischer was going to run for Congress in New York's 19th Congressional District. Yep, Ari is apparently planning to challenge John Hall who beat Sue Kelly last November. The right wingers were reporting that Ari was "the natural and best candidate." Okay.

Well, Ari's got a campaign slogan:
"I thought, 'Oh, my God. Did I play a role in somehow outing a CIA officer? . . . Did I just do something that I could be in big trouble for?' "
Okay, that won't be the slogan of Ari's campaign. But, if decides to run, that will become the theme of his campaign.

Vote for Ari. He outed an undercover CIA operative and made America less safe. Just like his boss. Read the rest of this post...

Tuesday Morning Open Thread

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The Libby trial has been fascinating and disturbing on many levels. Ari Fleischer and Cathie Martin have re-confirmed that practically the entire Washington press corps had been leaked the name of an undercover CIA operative for partisan political reasons. This was back in 2003. Yet, that entire Washington press corps dutifully reported the repeated denials from the White House -- including those from Bush -- about the leak. And, this same press corps helped push the 2004 campaign spin that Bush and Cheney would keep us safe and were stronger on national security. And, they also reported on the White House outrage over other leaks that would hurt national security. No wonder the White House had such disdain for the media. They were playing the press all the time -- and the press let it happen.

The press corps should be ashamed. They enabled the Bush war machine, too. They were almost as bad as the Republicans on the Hill -- never asking questions, just doing what they were told. Pathetic.

Judy Miller is on the stand today.

And, we're getting closer to the Iraq war votes today. Keep an eye on the Senate. Read the rest of this post...

Blair allows 20 additional months of bigotry to church

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That's a heck of an equality bill that provides the Catholic adoption agencies an additional 20 months to restrict gay couples from adopting. Who actually agreed to this nonsense? Read the rest of this post...

"An Inconvenient Truth" - it's part of the curriculum

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While attending a family gathering this weekend in the Beaujolais my aunt proceeded to tell me about how my cousin Alice took her high school class to go see Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth. My aunt, who is hardly a lefty and much more of a traditional center-right type from a pro-business family in France, was telling me what a great idea it was and how the students appreciated the event. She couldn't say enough good things about Al Gore and the movie and insisted that everyone should go to see the movie and think about what can be done about global warming. Wow, what a pleasant surprise to hear since the region is solidly mainstream, if not tilting to the right.

I know the rumblings are always there but every time I meet someone over here that has watched the movie, they immediately ask "will Al Gore run for President?" It is impressive to see the interest in the topic and how it comes up with everyone, across all backgrounds over here. What also stands out is that even after the scorched earth foreign policy of the Bush administration, there is still a strong desire for so many people who want to see the US regain its former self and be active within the world community and not a crazy on the international fringe. Those on the right who say everyone hates the US and wants a weak US are simply wrong. People want a return to cooperation, open dialogue and a sense of a global community because an issue such as global warming forces us all to work together, across borders and around the world. Sounds reasonable to me. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Put... the country... back. Read the rest of this post...

The country formerly known as America

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The man is a pig.

From tomorrow's NYT:
President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.

This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts. It suggests that the administration still has ways to exert its power after the takeover of Congress by the Democrats.
Ah yes, we wouldn't want scientific experts actually figuring out the best policy. Oh no. Better to have some Bible-thumping Dick Cheney clone make sure that Dear Leader's arrogant, stupidity-ladened will is stamped on every decision our government makes.

May Congress and the American people destroy this man. Read the rest of this post...

"Everything -- or almost everything -- Cheney says is flat wrong"

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Inside the West Wing, Cheney's influence remains considerable. In fact, nothing better explains Bush's perplexing plan to send more troops to Iraq than Cheney's neoconservative conviction that showing the world that we have the "stomach for the fight" is the most important thing -- even if it isn't accomplishing the things we're supposed to be fighting for. Even if it's backfiring horribly.

But as his astonishing interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer laid bare last week, Cheney is increasingly out of touch with reality. He seems to think that by asserting things that are simply untrue, he can make others believe they are so.

Maybe that works within the White House. But for the rest of us, it's becoming a better bet to assume that everything -- or almost everything -- Cheney says is flat wrong.
In the warped world at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, everyone, including the President, must think that what Cheney says is true. That's truly scary. We're in trouble. Big trouble. Congress is going to have to rein these guys in. Soon. Read the rest of this post...

GOP using minimum wage debate to prevent Iraq votes

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GOP Senators are playing procedural games with the minimum wage debate to put off the debate on the anti-escalation resolutions. That's the report from Bob Geiger:
[T]he Republicans figure that if they can keep the Senate occupied indefinitely with an open-and-shut thing like a minimum wage increase, they can avoid the thing they fear most -- having to vote on any of the myriad Iraq-war resolutions waiting in the wings.
Stay tuned because things could pretty wild in the Senate this week. Despite the GOP delaying tactics, there is going to be a debate on Iraq. The GOP enabled this war, they never challenged Bush's failed leadership on the war, now, they can't avoid debating it. Read the rest of this post...

Nancy Pelosi and the blogs

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A good article, shows the Dems are connected and cutting edge, and that... they like us, they really like us!

(PS The story quotes me, seemingly, referring to Pelosi and the blogs, when in fact I seem to recall I was talking about Democrats in DC generally. Anyway, still a good story.) Read the rest of this post...

Update from Plame trial

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Ari is testifying. Read the rest of this post...

About those 250 insurgents supposedly killed in Najaf yesterday...

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I'm a little baffled by the news on yesterday's battle in Najaf. Outlets are breathlessly reporting that an attack on major Shia religious leaders, including Ayatollah Sistani (a "good" Ayatollah, for those keeping score at home), was foiled by Iraqi troops with American support. The lead of most articles is, of course, that 250 fighters were (reportedly) killed, but that's probably the least important element of the story.

The implication generally seems to be that there were Sunni insurgents in the outskirts of Najaf, a holy city in Iraq and the home of Sistani, in the operational stages of an attack on the city, including a major Shia mosque and Sistani himself. When I first read this, I was extremely skeptical. The insurgency is largely decentralized, including widespread reports of infighting, and even when they're able to cooperate on a large scale, insurgents largely use indirect fire (IEDs, mortars, etc.) -- rather than small arms fire (guns) -- against major targets. It sounded to me more like some kind of mass uprising of a particular group or sect.

I wasn't surprised to read, therefore, that Arab press is reporting not one, not two, but three possible scenarios to explain the fighting. One is the Sunni insurgent possibility, but the other two indicate that the fighters were actually Shia. As usual, Juan Cole is indispensable on the intricacies. One Shia narrative suggests an uprising after an attempt to arrest a radical Shia cleric; the other indicates the group consisted of "Twelvers" (sometimes referred to as millenarians) who sought to bring about the return of the Mahdi by assassinating the four main Najaf clerics (basically, we're talking about a cult - far cry from Al Qaeda if we're now fighting religious cults).

It is hard for me to understand why the identities of the fighters is still in question, but I seriously doubt they had any chance to assassinate Sistani (or the other clerics). They could have, however, conceivably hit the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, which would have been very, very bad in itself.

The one thing this event proves conclusively, however, is that we have no idea what the internal conflicts are in Iraq. U.S. forces were used -- and killed, including yet another helicopter shot down, the third in a week -- to support the Iraqi army, but we don't even know who we were shooting at or why. I should say that I actually support using U.S. air power to back up the Iraqi army (air support being an enormous advantage to ground forces), but the fact that a battle could rage between hundreds of fighters and hundreds (perhaps thousands) or Iraqi and Coalition forces without knowing anything about the enemy is indicative of the chaos that exists on the ground. Read the rest of this post...

GOP advised to stop obsessing about gay sex

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Pam Spaulding has a link to an insightful editorial on the GOP's obsession with all things gay. From the Algomordo (New Mexico) Daily News, the headline reads "Republicans: Stop thinking about gay sex" and the first line is priceless:
It seems to me Republicans spend more time thinking about gay sex than any other group of people in the known world even more so than gay people trying to find other gay people with whom to have sex.
Couldn't have written it better ourselves. The editorial focuses on a gay-obsessed state legislator in New Mexico. But the sentiment can be applied to George Bush, Sam Brownback, Marilyn Musgrave, Mitt Romney...the list goes on and on.... Read the rest of this post...

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It isn't pretty. Please watch this video. It's a documentary short about John McCain, and it's simply devastating. It's all his own words. Then his other words that contradict his words. Again, and again, and again.

Then visit the new Web site, All of this is set up by Robert Greenwald. More info from their press release:
Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films released John McCain Vs. John McCain today— a hard hitting short documentary, being distributed for free via the website and across the country via You Tube. The three minute short reveals the Senator's flip flopping on key issues such as the Iraq War, Gay Marriage and the Religious Right. The film uses McCain's own words to destroy the myth of the Senator as a "straight talking" politician. John McCain Vs. John McCain shows the Senator as politician prone to frequent contradictions on key issues. The website is home to the video and a blog about the Senator.

"This short illustrates, that John McCain is not a 'straight talker' but a double talker. As a filmmaker and concerned American, I felt it was important to reveal this side of John McCain since this aspect of his leadership has not been portrayed in the press" said the film's director Robert Greenwald. The length of the video allows for it to be distributed virally for free across the Internet. Blogs and websites around the world are picking up the video and You Tube users and concerned citizens are forwarding the short to friends.

Cliff Schecter, veteran campaign strategist and political commentator is blogging at about the how the Arizona Senator's opinions change to suit his political ambitions. Schecter, who is writing a biography of McCain said the project, is important because "many journalists still treat McCain's every utterance as if it came down from on high, while the truth is that there is no policy McCain won't sacrifice, no position he won't change if he thinks it will further his presidential ambitions. The people have a right to this information."
More from the LA Times. Read the rest of this post...

The Bush/right wing spin and smear machine: Cathie Martin on the inside, "The Insight" on the outside

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We're getting some real insight in to how the right wing, led by the White House press office, manipulates the media. Last week's testimony in the Libby trial by Cathie Martin, a top White House aide, showed how the Bush team plays the big name reporters, like Russert, for the fools they are. Martin is an ultimate Bush insider. Her husband, Kevin, is the Bush-appointed Chair of the Federal Communications Commission. Martin's trickery was analyzed this weekend by the Associated Press
No one served up spicier morsels than Cheney's former top press assistant. Cathie Martin described the craft of media manipulation - under oath and in blunter terms than politicians like to hear in public.

The uses of leaks and exclusives. When to let one's name be used and when to hide in anonymity. Which news medium was seen as more susceptible to control and what timing was most propitious. All candidly described. Even the rating of certain journalists as friends to favor and critics to shun - a faint echo of the enemies list drawn up in Richard Nixon's White House more than 30 years ago.
On the end of the right wing smear machine is "The Insight" -- a publication owned by Reverend Moon's cult, the Unification Church. Today's NY Times looks at that "publication" and its ability to spread false stories throughout the right wing smear machine. The Times examines how the Moonie-owned publication was able to spread the fake story about Obama's grade school. The last paragraph really sums up how the right wingers work:
After Insight posted the article on Jan. 17, Mr. Kuhner said, he was disappointed to see that the Drudge Report did not link to it on its Web site as it has done with other Insight articles. So, as usual, he e-mailed the article to producers at Fox News and MSNBC.
As usual.

Cathie Martin and The Insight do the dirty work of the Bush team and the right wing. They seem to have the same standards for getting stories out. And, the traditional media plays right in to their hands. Read the rest of this post...

Bush now quoting the Baker-Hamilton report - the report he totally ignored - to "prove" that his escalation is a good idea

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They're delusional. And they must think we're delusional too, that we don't see through their lies.

Bush's National Security Adviser has penned an op ed in Monday's Washington Post that repeatedly cites the Baker-Hamilton report - the report that Bush completely disregarded in coming up with the Bush-McCain escalation plan in Iraq - and he's citing the report as "proof" that the escalation plan is a good idea, when the report actually said, among other things, that we should be engaging Iran in diplomacy, not trying to goad them into our third war this very short century.

And in any case, Bush dismissed the report, out of hand. If he's now claiming he's embracing it, great - maybe we can have the Dems offer legislation codifying the Baker-Hamilton report recommendations into law. Then let's see how Bush embraces those recommendations.

Extra credit if you can find the other lies in the op ed. You can start with the claim that the Iraqis are the ones who came up with the escalation plan - they denied that lie two weeks ago. Read the rest of this post...

Monday Morning Open Thread

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Should be an interesting week. The Senate will vote on the anti-escalation resolution. That should be the first of many actions on Capitol Hill to rein in the lunatic.

Also, Ari Fleischer testifies in the Libby trial today.

What else? Read the rest of this post...

Iraqi military goes from 0 to 300 in a flash

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It's amazing how the US supported troops were non-existent only moments ago but suddenly in the middle of a PR push by the administration and after news of insurgents speaking English, wearing US uniforms, holding US equipment and driving US trucks, and abducting and killing US troops, suddenly -almost from nowhere, really- Iraqi troops are hell on wheels and killing insurgents by the hundreds. Are those guys fast learners or what? Gosh, what can I say? Hooray, we're saved! Read the rest of this post...

McCain loses it in Davos

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He tells a room full of journalists that only the "far left" in America is concerned about the Iraq war. Then denies having said it to that same room full of journalists. Then things really get fun. Arianna reports more. It's delicious. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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TiVo awaits me (BSG and Rome). Read the rest of this post...

Jon Stewart on CNN host and ABC commentator Glenn Beck: "Finally, a guy who says what people who aren't thinking are thinking"

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More from Howie Klein.

Find out more about Mr. Beck, and his bestest friend at Best Buy, here. Read the rest of this post...

Hillary calls for withdrawal from Iraq by end of Bush's term

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Good for her. From AP:
President Bush should withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq before he leaves office, asserting it would be "the height of irresponsibility" to pass the war along to the next commander in chief.

"This was his decision to go to war with an ill-conceived plan and an incompetently executed strategy," the Democratic senator from New York said her in initial presidential campaign swing through Iowa.

"We expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office" in January 2009, the former first lady said.
My initial reaction is: smart move. The overwhelming majority of Americans have had it with this war. They want us out - just not yet. Yes, it's a contradiction, I get it, but they don't, and it's where they are. People want the war over "soon." And Hillary just gave the public a timeline that meets what their gut is telling them.

It also puts Bush on notice that the clock is ticking. He no longer gets to pull the old "this war will have to be settled by the next president." Hillary's message for the next two years is going to be "are we there yet?" And it's a smart message for the Democrats as well. It permits them to keep running against Bush even as the elections approach for the post-Bush.

The only danger with this strategy is were it morphed into a "Bush has two more years to fix things, so let's just escalate and see what happens." No one is for that, and that's not what Hillary is saying, in any case. She's saying that even she, Democrat who has often been a pain in the butt (to us) as it concerns her views on the war, has a limit.

So, Hillary is now in favor of a timetable for withdrawal. It's a timetable the American people will readily accept, in my view. And that's a good thing. Read the rest of this post...

In Newsweek interview, Cheney says Bush has "shored up his position" as Bush hits new low in Newsweek poll

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Further proof that the Vice President has no concept of reality evidenced in the Newsweek interview:
[Interviewer]There has been little open support from the Republican Party for the president's plan for extra troops in Iraq. Do you worry that the party has lost the stomach for the fight?

[Cheney] The election results last November obviously represented a blow to our friends on the Hill, Republicans on the Hill—to go from majority to minority status. A lot of members were concerned or felt that their political fortunes were adversely affected by our ongoing operations in Iraq. What's happened here now over the last few weeks is that the president has shored up his position with the speech he made specifically on Iraq.
Shored up his position? We know Cheney is delusional about Iraq. But, obviously, his ability to understand the truth extends beyond Iraq. There's no evidence anywhere that Bush has "shored up his position." Whenever Dick Cheney says something, the opposite is probably true. And, that's the case with Bush's approval. The reality from the Newsweek poll:
The president’s approval ratings are at their lowest point in the poll’s history—30 percent—and more than half the country (58 percent) say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over, a sentiment that is almost unanimous among Democrats (86 percent), and is shared by a clear majority (59 percent) of independents and even one in five (21 percent) Republicans. Half (49 percent) of all registered voters would rather see a Democrat elected president in 2008, compared to just 28 percent who’d prefer the GOP to remain in the White House.
Read the rest of this post...

Pro-"surge" Senator Joe Lieberman says he may back Republican for president

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Joe Lieberman is no friend to moderate middle-of-the-road Americans. We've been saying it for a while now, and the rest of the country is finally seeing his true colors. Lieberman supports George Bush, Lieberman thinks the war in Iraq is going well, Lieberman supports the Bush/McCain "surge" plan to escalate the war in Iraq and send 20,000 more troops. Lieberman is the go-to guy who Dick Cheney now uses to defend his and Bush's plans for further escalating the war in Iraq. From Newsweek:
QUESTION: Sen. [Chuck] Hagel said some pretty harsh things about the administration. He said there was no strategy. He said—It's not the first time. He said it was a "Ping-Pong game with human beings." Do you have a reaction to that?

DICK CHENEY: I thought that Joe Lieberman's comments ... were very important. Joe basically said the plan deserved an opportunity to succeed ... that we're sending Gen. [David] Petraeus out with probably a unanimous or near-unanimous [confirmation] vote, and that it didn't make sense for Congress to simultaneously then pass a resolution disapproving of the strategy in Iraq.
Joe Lieberman isn't a moderate Democrat. He isn't even a moderate Republican. On the issues that count, Joe Lieberman is a George Bush Republican, a conservative Republican. A McCain Republican. And while that might have been nice immediately following September 11 when we were all scared to death and didn't know any better, now it just comes across as delusional.

And now he's talking of supporting a Republican for president because - what? - we haven't had enough Republican control of our country the past six years? Delusional. Read the rest of this post...

Wash Post ombudsman slaps reporter John Solomon for John Edwards hit piece

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You'll recall that we wrote last week about how embattled former Associated Press reporter, who is now working at the Washington Post, just wrote his first front page story at the Post about Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

It was a story about how Edwards sold his house to someone John Solomon and his editors at the Post don't like. That's it. The story implied in its first two paragraphs that Edwards' spokeswoman lied to reporters about the sale - but in the 9th paragraph of the story you find out that Edwards' spokeswoman actually told the truth. As we wrote before, this is a classic Solomon trick - imply something nefarious in the first few paragraphs, then disprove it buried way down in the story where the reader likely won't even see it. And sometimes, he's even less sneaky - he simply reports an outright lie, something the source never even said.

Anyway, in today's Washington Post, the ombudsman weighs in on John Solomon's first big story at the Post, and she isn't pleased.
Accurate stories can be misleading. Two recent Page 1 stories -- one on the Fairfax County libraries and the other on the sale of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards's Georgetown house -- brought complaints that there was less there than met the reader's eye.
And then she lets loose the real zinger. Apparently, Solomon's story wasn't just controversial with us, the Washington Post's own reporters weren't very happy with their new facts-challenged colleague:
The Edwards story, by John Solomon and Lois Romano, was controversial even in the Post newsroom and was attacked by Edwards, his staff, liberal-leaning blogs and about 50 readers.
The ombudsman, Deborah Howell, goes on to agree with the main criticism we all had with the story - where's the beef? What exactly did Edwards did wrong? The story never tells you, because he didn't do anything wrong.
I kept waiting to read about the connection between the Klaassens and Edwards that would make this sale unseemly; it wasn't there. Edwards spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said Edwards "has never met or spoken with them; nor have they contributed to his campaign."

The story was interesting, but it was more of an item for the Reliable Source or In the Loop -- and not worth Page 1. It seemed like a "gotcha" without the gotcha.
There is nothing wrong with the Washington Post getting a tip about Edwards selling his house to someone the unions don't like, someone who created a limited liability company to buy the house. There is nothing wrong with the Post telling a reporter, "hey, check this story out and see if there's anything there." There is something wrong with the Washington Post's reporter and editors not killing this story once it became clear there was no there there. There is something even worse about the Post's editors putting this story on the front page as some kind of act of kindness to a new reporter when they know the story doesn't merit being published at all, let alone appearing in the most prominent spot of the newspaper. This is one of the nation's leading newspapers, not a charity.

John Solomon had a history of writing misleading hit pieces about Democrats when he was at the AP (and of reportedly taking tips from partisan sources and publishing them as-is, unquestioned), and now his first big front page piece with the Washington Post pulls out the same bag of misleading tricks. I hope the Washington Post editors used their American Express Gold Card when buying Solomon, because they just bought a lemon.

PS As an aside, the Post ombudsman, Deborah Howell, did a good job here. The blogs, including us, have criticized Howell before. In this case, she did her job, and did it well. And for that she gets our thanks. If the spirit moves you, send her a note of thanks - we've criticized her when we haven't liked the job she's done, in all fairness she deserves to hear some praise when she does her job well. Read the rest of this post...

Bush is looking for a fight with Iran

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When you read this quote from a top Bush official, remember what John Murtha always says -- just because they say it, doesn't mean it's true:
“We’re not looking for a fight with Iran,” R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for policy and the chief negotiator on Iranian issues, said in an interview on Friday evening, just a few hours after Mr. Bush had repeated his warnings to Iran to halt “killing our soldiers” and to stop its drive for nuclear fuel.
Of course, Bush is looking for a fight with Iran. That's becoming increasingly clear -- and frightening:
Mr. Burns, citing the president’s words, insisted that Washington was committed to “a diplomatic path” — even as it executed a far more aggressive strategy, seizing Iranians in Iraq and attempting to starve Iran of the money it needs to revitalize a precious asset, its oil industry.

Mr. Burns argues that those are defensive steps that are not intended to provoke Iran, though there has been a vigorous behind-the-scenes debate in the administration over whether the more aggressive policy could provoke Iran to strike back. The State Department has tended to counsel caution, while some more hawkish aides in the Pentagon and the White House say the increase in American forces in Iraq could be neutered unless the American military forcefully pushes back against the Iranian aid to the militias.
Provoke Iran. That's what George Bush wants. It makes no sense. None. It borders on insanity. And, that is exactly what we're dealing with right now. Read the rest of this post...

Sunday Talk Shows Open Thread

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This is the first "Meet the Press" since Cathie Martin testified that the Bush/Cheney team think that Russert is a pushover. No wonder Mike Huckabee wants to start his presidential campaign with Tim -- he can control the message. Otherwise, it's the Iraq war on the Sunday shows -- because, right now, there is no other issue. Our President is delusional and out-of-control. Fortunately, Jim Webb is one of the messengers:
ABC's ''This Week'' -- Sens. Joe Biden, D-Del., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind.; Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.; actor Kevin Bacon.


CBS' ''Face the Nation'' -- Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa.


NBC's ''Meet the Press'' -- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and David Vitter, R-La.; former presidential speechwriter Michael Gerson; Kenneth Pollack, a Brookings Institution analyst.


CNN's ''Late Edition'' -- Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.; former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele; Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.


''Fox News Sunday'' -- Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation.
Provide the commentary. Read the rest of this post...

US wildlife policy these days really stinks

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Now that the western gray wolves have reached 1000, the feds are taking them off of the endangered species list which will result in hunting. The states claim that the wolves are killing other wildlife that is big money for trophy hunting lodges, but isn't that how nature works? Maybe instead of focusing on the feeble wolf population and taking it back down to 100, shouldn't they be looking at other ways to boost the elk population? If one animal population is too large and another too small, doesn't that suggest other problems beyond just these animals? Clearly there is an imbalance so de-listing wolves and opening up hunting season on them sounds radical, unnecessary and dangerous for the long term survival of the wolves. At a minimum it might make sense to talk with other places around the world - such as southern Africa - who have faced similar issues with animals such as wild dogs who were almost driven into extinction. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Off to a party. Read the rest of this post...

Some photos and video from the anti-Iraq-war peace rally today in DC

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(click for larger photo)

First, some quick video - about a minute, but you get the sense of it. Turnout was very good. I don't buy "a quarter of a million," but 50,000 yes. It's hard to tell, folks were already marching in the street, they were away from the mall area - where it's way easier to tell the crowd numbers by comparing to previous marches. Still, that's my impression form the streets. It was a good number.

It was an interesting mix of people. Rather young, which was very interesting. Lots of students, and kids in their 20s. And not your usual peacenik crowd - these kids looked like upper middle class college kids (not an easy crowd to motivate politically). The march was well organized, no violence or anything out of line that I saw. There were several people carrying American flags, which was a nice touch and interesting for a peace march. Along the mall there were various stands set up for t-shirts and literature etc. I can't say I saw a one that reached out to me - this was clearly an anti-war crowd rather than an anti-Iraq-war crowd (I consider myself among the latter). It was their rally, not mine - I didn't feel a part of it, there just weren't "people like me" there, but still it went well, was well behaved, and again, Joe and I were surprised to see so many young people from the kind of background you wouldn't expect to be protesting - this was good, and something the Democratic party needs to realize and come to terms with. People are ticked.

And here are some photos (as always, the photos are clickable to see larger versions):

Read the rest of this post...

Tens of thousands rally against the war in DC

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AP's take on it. Mine will follow shortly, just got back. Read the rest of this post...

Wal-mart pays $33 million in overtime pay

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A simple mistake, no doubt, but thankfully they are a stand up company that caught their mistake.
"The fact of the matter is we discovered this matter, we reported it to the Department of Labor and we resolved the issue," Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley said.

"We are committed to our associates (employees) and we've apologized to them for this error," Simley said.

Simley said Wal-Mart discovered possible mistakes in its formulas for overtime during a regular internal review. He said there was no connection between the company reporting itself to the Labor Department and multiple lawsuits against the retailer in recent years by employees alleging payroll violations.

Last October, Wal-Mart workers in Pennsylvania won a $78.5 million judgment for working off the clock and through rest breaks. Wal-Mart denied wrongdoing and is appealing the jury award.
Absolutely no connection whatsoever, I'm sure. Are we lucky to have these folks around or what? Gosh, we ought to be paying them for the honor of just walking in their front door and doing such a good service to mankind. Read the rest of this post...

I'm watching some idiot on C-Span

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Joe and I are heading down to the peace rally in an hour, to take photos, etc. And I'm watching it on C-Span right now, and I'm asking myself - though I'm not surprised - why is some woman from the "US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation" speaking? And why is she speaking, ad naseum, about the "Israeli occupation of Palestine" rather than speaking about the war in Iraq? She gave 10% of her speech to Iraq and spent the rest of the time railing against Israel?

First off, wrong topic.

Second off, way to alienate most Jews in America, a rather influential group of people we could use as allies.

Third off, way to alienate the rest of us who don't hate Israel, don't hate the Palestinians, and don't feel that the problem over there will be solved by simply blaming everyting on Israel - there's more than enough blame to go around. And in any case, this rally has nothing to do with Israel leaving Palestine, so STFU and stay on topic.

I'm sorry, but as many of you know, I tend to have issues with "peace rallies," not because I have issues with peace or rallies, but because I find myself cringing when I see the substance of them, who's attending, the issues they feel compelled to bring up (Mumia, Israel, trans fats, the suffering of amoeba, whatever). Would it kill someone organizing these events to tell the speakers to speak about Iraq or don't speak at all? Would it kill people to try to present their message in a way that appeals to the majority of Americans?

Oh, and it's not just the peace folks. Big gay rallies have similar issues with invited speakers and folks holding ridiculously offensive signs that, while funny (obscenely funny), are hardly appropriate for a public rally in which you're trying to affect public opinion. The 93 March on Washington, boy did I get an earful from family and friends (and even my doctor) about the coverage on C-Span. The entire country watched women flashing their boobs at cameras, like it was girls gone wild, rather than one of the most massive civil rights rallies in American history. Think, people, think. (Though, I fully admit and acknowledge that you can't control everyone, so some idiot is always going to pull something stupid that the cameras will pick up. Having said that, you do have control over your own speakers on the stage.)

Anyway, Joe and I will head down in a bit and I'll let you know how it's really going. If it's good and effective and sane - like the Latino immigration rally, which was shockingly mainstream (for any rally) - then I'll report it as such.

But seriously, what is the point of doing public events that simply piss people off rather than winning them over? Sometimes I can see the point in doing an in-your-face action, but you have to have a reason, a strategic reason, for doing it in that manner. And just because it feels good, that's not a reason. The goal here is to win, not feel good.

Again, I'll report back in a few hours. If it's a good rally, I'll say so.

MORE: Actually, we had an interesting comment in the comments from a drag queen. I'm serious. They raised a fascinating point, comparing my concern about this rally to the concern that some gay people feel about drag queens attending gay civil rights marches in drag. This is an issue that everyone who runs rallies deals with. Here's the comment, and my response:
Good points. As a drag queen, I always wonder how I should join rallies...if I go in drag, do I attract much-needed attention to a cause...or do I alienate people who hate drag queens? If I don't go in drag, am I sanitizing the culture or looking like I'm ashamed of something? And yes, there always seems to be some clueless person who rattles on about a pet topic that may be important...but isn't topical.
My response:
Actually, I'm not sure if you're being serious or not, but I think you are, and you raise a good topic, drag queens. You/we don't want to tell a legitimate part of our community to stuff it because some people find them embarrassing, but at the same time, every one of us needs to think about what we're trying to achieve with the rallies (boobs are probably not appropriate). I happen to find drag queens a riot, so I don't like it when people say they generically find drag queens offensive, or whatever. And at the same time, I don't want to find myself hiding who we really are just to appease the public - I mean, it's hard to deny that drag queens WERE Stonewall, we owe everything to them. But at the same time, will the public understand why drag queens are so important to the culture, both politically and simply because they're a hoot? No. But does that mean we "ban" them? It's actually a great metaphor for trying to work this out.
Read the rest of this post...

Huckabee to join 2008 campaign

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There must be dozens out there begging for him to jump into the GOP race. Read the rest of this post...

Dowd destroys beyond delusional, deranged Dick

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Vintage Dowd. This is why we love her:
Delusional is far too mild a word to describe Dick Cheney. Delusional doesn’t begin to capture the profound, transcendental one-flew-over daftness of the man.

Has anyone in the history of the United States ever been so singularly wrong and misguided about such phenomenally important events and continued to insist he’s right in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

It requires an exquisite kind of lunacy to spend hundreds of billions destroying America’s reputation in the world, exhausting the U.S. military, failing to catch Osama, enhancing Iran’s power in the Middle East and sending American kids to train and arm Iraqi forces so they can work against American interests.

Only someone with an inspired alienation from reality could, under the guise of exorcising the trauma of Vietnam, replicate the trauma of Vietnam.

You must have a real talent for derangement to stay wrong every step of the way, to remain in complete denial about Iraq’s civil war, to have a total misunderstanding of Arab culture, to be completely oblivious to the American mood and to be absolutely blind to how democracy works.

In a democracy, when you run a campaign that panders to homophobia by attacking gay marriage and then your lesbian daughter writes a book about politics and decides to have a baby with her partner, you cannot tell Wolf Blitzer he’s “out of line” when he gingerly raises the hypocrisy of your position.
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Saturday Morning Open Thread

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The decisions of the decider are deadly. Very deadly. Rein him in, Congress. Soon.

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

Bringing in the year with some good old fashioned boot licking

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He's so pathetic. Lining up your conservative speaking tour of America, Tony? Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Chat away Read the rest of this post...

15 dead, 55 wounded in another Baghdad bombing

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Bush's failure empowers our enemies. Read the rest of this post...

Cliff's Corner

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The Week That Was 1/26/07

Another Week. More preposterousness to report.

Do you hang out at "the club" with assless guys named Chip who claim "it's not the heat it's the humidity" while puffing on a Cellini and blurting out how it'd be just "smashing" if workers could find a little more of that "can do spirit," instead of relying on government guarantees--like say the minimum wage?

You don't? Well then the Republican Party hates you.

Because, under the cloak of an amendment only 56 words in length, the friendly coward Sen. Wayne Allard -- who's not running for reelection in 2008, because he knows Colorado likely won't reelect someone who's to legislating what ABC's Isaiah Washington is to prime time ratings -- tried to eliminate the federal minimum wage. Yup, you read that right.

Not keep it where it is. Or lower it. But eliminate it completely, like it's that last stubborn firing neuron left in Ted Nugent's obtuse skull that just hasn't gotten the telegram from his fallen comrades.

28 Republicans voted for this effort to strip hard-working Americans of one of their few protections, one which should be enhanced by at least 75% and maybe would be, if not for drooling cretins like Allard. This distinguished list of supporters also includes such compassionate conservatives as "Double-Talk" McCain, Brokeback Sam and Sunununununu (better get those heavy breathers ready for some ample phone jamming in 2008!). Sadly though, with 80% of Americans supporting a raise in the minimum wage, they've got the atta boy of as much of the public on this issue as they do for the "Surge To Nowhere."

But, hey, David Broder thinks it's not important when Republicans lie, cheat and steal, and who am I to question someone who hasn't gotten anything right since Greta Garbo played Mata Hari?

Then there are the spit-suckle tards at that dime-store Pravda... Disney/ABC (and you thought I was going to say "FOX News"). In fact, they're quickly upping their furrowed brow bona fides by the week. From the anti-gay, anti-Muslim Glenn Beck (who fantasizes about assassinating Michael Moore - seriously) to "The Path to 9/11" this company is trying to hide the fact that Mickey Mouse sent Mark Foley a pic by allowing Fox to air scenes from that defamatory piece of revisionist 9/11 bile they aired prior to the 2006 election.

Does Disney/ABC understand what "public good" means? It is ostensibly the purpose for their existence, which I would assume means not cozying up to the irrational right-wing segmented worms who have turned American families into Baghdad fodder. Maybe the new Democratic Congress should take a look at whether Disney/ABC is living up to the expectations of holding a broadcast license in this country.

Or at the very least make John Stossel shave his Geraldo/Ron Jeremy stache.

From minimum wage to minimum talent, what a week it's been in the uber-moronic hi-jincks of a political movement befouled by the stench of death. Read the rest of this post...

Bush defense secretary says GOP Senator John Warner (R-VA) is "emboldening the enemy" in Iraq

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Why do Republicans Senate leaders hate America? Read the rest of this post...

Progressives and the military

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This piece, titled "Love the Warrior, Hate the War", is an extremely important one, explaining how progressives support the military while opposing bad military policy. For years conservatives have propagated the lie that opposition to policy is tantamount to opposing our troops (except, of course, when they were doing it during the Clinton years), and it's a fallacy that needs correction.

The military is a unique organization, and one that is, at once, misunderstood, fetishized, scapegoated, and underestimated by various groups and individuals. There's virtually nothing inherent or intrinsic about a group of nearly 1.5 million people, and while any group that large will have some outlying bad apples, my interaction with servicemen and -women is largely in line with the observations of the author, Lorelei Kelly.

Ms. Kelly, it should be noted, is no DINO, and currently advises the Progressive Caucus on national security and foreign policy matters. She explains,
Today, nearly every general that testifies before Congress claims that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan do not have purely military solutions. This sea change means that many members of the military and progressives are philosophically much closer than either believes and they are both hurt by the lack of meaningful interaction. Understanding and aligning with the military around shared concerns could be a crucial new strategy for the left.
Many priorities are shared by progressives and soldiers alike, and despite historic wariness between these groups, the disaster of Iraq has shown clearly that the military cannot blindly put its faith in conservatives and progressives who lack a meaningful understanding of the military cede their rightful voice on national security. As Ms. Kelly points out,
Despite their ability to wield tremendous physical force, the military is vulnerable when it comes to protecting itself in the domestic policy process. The armed services’ professional ethic forbids interference in political decision-making. Hence their fate is often influenced most by those poised to gain in the short-term, either financially or politically, and who encounter no similar professional barriers —i.e., defense industry lobbyists, members of Congress and an executive branch obsessed by domestic politics.

This strategy is not unrealistic. Today’s antiwar movement is leagues more sophisticated than the one that ended the Vietnam war. Today’s liberal activist has learned how to be anti-war without being anti-warrior.

What’s more, liberal philosophy shares many values with the military: looking after the general welfare, shared risk, sacrifice for common goals and long-term planning. Liberals value public service, and the military is our largest public institution.
A variety of progressive national security groups are working doggedly on these issues, and rightly so. Check out the entire article. Read the rest of this post...

President Clinton contacting head of Disney over rekindled "Path to 9/11" controversy

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President Clinton's office has just informed me that they're "taking it all the way to the top at Disney to find out why they're not enforcing copyright" in this matter.

You'll recall that not only is FOX planning on broadcasting the false and defamatory scenes that were cut from Disney/ABC's error-riddled documentary "Path to 9/11," but Disney/ABC have announced that they have no intention of enforcing their copyright in this matter, and demanding that FOX not rebroadcast Disney/ABC's scenes without permission. In fact, ABC's Entertainment president has said that he believes the already-proven-wrong documentary is 100% factual.

It's interesting to note that Disney/ABC had no problem shutting down a liberal blogger who was concerned about hate speech on an ABC radio station in California. In that case, when the blogger posted hateful content from ABC's radio show, ABC's lawyers got the blogger's site pulled down, claiming copyright infringement. But in this case, ABC is no longer so interested in copyright. Of course, this is the same ABC that keeps a known homophobe on the payroll at "Grey's Anatomy," and the same ABC that has decided to employee another extremist at Good Morning America, a man who has used the word "faggot" on the air, a move criticized by the largest gay anti-defamation organization in America, and a man who has claimed that every Muslim-American needs to prove that they are not working with the terrorists.

It's also interesting to note that this latest controversy is all Disney/ABC's doing. The man who directed the inaccurate documentary has been traveling around the country, publicly showing the inaccurate scenes that were cut from the TV show. Disney/ABC has seemingly had no concern whatsoever that this man has been broadcasting scenes that they intentionally cut from their film. And it was at one of these broadcasts that FOX conveniently filmed what they're going to show Sunday night. Had Disney/ABC not tacitly agreed to let the director show the cut scenes around the country, this scandal seemingly would not be back in the news (except of course for the fact that Disney/ABC is permitting people to post the scenes on YouTube, so they clearly have no desire to control the dissemination of the inaccurate and defamatory information).

This is the new ABC. The channel of revisionism, lies, and hate. Someone needs to tell ABC that hate is not a family-hour value.

PS Here's some background on the lies that Disney/ABC put in this fake documentary.
  1. Disney/ABC blame American Airlines, falsely - this was kept in the film.
  2. A scene where former National Security advisor Sandy Berger pulls the plug on a clear chance to take out Osama Bin Laden. According to the 9/11 Commission report, this never happened.
  3. A scene where Madeleine Albright overrules military commanders and insists on informing the Pakistanis about a missile strike on a suspected Bin Laden hideout. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, this never happened.
  4. A scene indicating Bush demanded aggressive action after receiving the August 6 Presidential Daily Brief entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in USA." According to Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission, this never happened. (The last 3 points I got from ThinkProgress, just copied them directly as they were quisuccinctint.)
  5. Disney/ABC hired evangelical activist who sought ttransformorm Hollywood."
  6. Even conservative Reagan Administration official Bill Bennett said Disney/ABC should correct the inaccuracies.
Read the rest of this post...

ABC Entertainment president personally attacks Sandy Berger, says error-riddled "Path to 9/11" was totally true

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I am simply astounded that after it was proven categorically that Disney/ABC screwed up the history of 9/11, as proven by the 9/11 Commission's own report, that Disney/ABC are now not only still claiming that there were no errors, but they're now launching personal attacks on President Clinton's former National Security Adviser.
[ABC Entertainment president Stephen] McPherson said the network "loved" the film and stands by it. He also denies that it was irresponsibly fictionalized or at all driven by any campaign to distort the facts.

"Everything in that movie is backed up tenfold," he insists. "We think it was a really important thing to air. And you know, it's unfortunate that, for other agendas, people tried to squash it." When it was pointed out that ABC tried to backpedal with its last-minute alterations on 'Path to 9/11,' McPherson shot back, "We didn't backpedal. We aired the movie. We didn't change anything for those guys. We aired it as planned on the dates that were planned.

"I mean, it's a little odd to have (former National Security Advisor for the Clinton Administration) Sandy Berger telling you about what's truthful or not when he was indicted for stuffing documents into his pants on this very subject."
In fact, we already know for a fact, via the 9/11 Commission Report, that the scene about Sandy Berger was entirely false. So what's a little odd is that the head of ABC Entertainment, the president himself, is outright lying about the history of September 11, and using Republican talking points while so doing.

This is beyond sickening. It's an outright effort by Disney/ABC to not only rewrite the history of 9/11, but to influence the presidential race against Hillary Clinton. That is the only reason these allegations are again coming up the week that Hillary announces her presidential run. Disney/ABC are getting involved in politics, trying to influence our presidential elections. And that, my friends, is going to be their end of their company. Someone needs to remind Disney/ABC of just who is in charge of Congress, and just who is very likely to win the presidency in less than 24 months. Read the rest of this post...

"I'm the decision-maker"

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Uh huh, and we live in a democracy. The last time I checked, Congress -at least now that the Democrats are in power- has some say in what the government can and will do. Ever hear of that "balance of power" thing that our founding fathers included in the Constitution? Ever hear of the Constitution? You will be learning about it over the next two years. Read the rest of this post...

FOX to broadcast false 9/11 story from Disney/ABC's fake documentary - Disney/ABC refuse to assert their copyright, YouTube illegally broadcasts video

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FOX and far-right Republican activist Sean Hannity are planning on broadcasting the portions of the Disney/ABC "documentary" about 9/11, "Path to 9/11," that were deleted from the film because they were shown to be inaccurate (Disney/ABC left other inaccurate storylines in the "documentary," including alleging that American Airlines let Mohammad Atta board his flight even though they had warning that he was a possible terrorist.)

Disney/ABC is refusing to assert their copyright, which is something the mouse has never been afraid to assert before. They claim that the rebroadcast of the segments is "fair use."
ABC officials and a spokeswoman for Berger declined to comment, as did Nowrasteh.

Jay Berger, executive director of the California Central Coast chapter of the World Affairs Council, said that though Nowrasteh's talk to his group was interesting, he was surprised that Fox News was doing a piece on the unaired footage.

"I can't imagine what the news is here," he said.

An early version of the miniseries that ABC distributed to television critics is readily available on and other websites.

Fox News does not have ABC's permission to broadcast the unaired footage, but an attorney for the network said officials there believed that the newsworthiness of the material put it under the fair-use exception to the copyright statute.
So Disney/ABC don't care about the truth, though we already knew that. And why pray tell have Disney/ABC and YouTube refused to take down the video of the show that is STILL on YouTube to this day? It's a clear copyright violation, and we know how overzealous YouTube is about its purported copyright violations. And Disney is NOTORIOUS for asserting its copyright rights, yet in this case, Disney doesn't care. And for some reason, YouTube isn't so zealous about enforcing its own policy about illegally broadcasting video when the target is a Democrat. Isn't that interesting. You can see an example of YouTube's illegal rebroadcast here.

Please, for the love of God, someone from the Clinton camp sue these people - and even better, you can now sue FOX News. The clips that FOX will show include the defamatory segment about Sandy Berger, a segment that was proven to be a total fabrication. If FOX doesn't clearly explain that the segment is false, then my legal education tells me they could very well be liable for the defamation contained therein because THEY KNOW the segment to be false, and THEY KNOW that airing it without a disclaimer will mislead their viewers. That makes them negligent.

As an aside, this example perfectly illustrates how ethically corrupt Sean Hannity and FOX News really are. Conservatives simply can't stick with the truth because they know they don't win with the truth. This is what Republicans have become. And as for FOX News, we always knew they were simply a Republican propaganda organ, but it's still nice for them to publicly expose themselves as the hacks they really are. Read the rest of this post...

Pelosi and Murtha are in Iraq

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Good move:
A U.S. embassy official said Pelosi, the first woman speaker of the House, had arrived in Iraq at the head of a six-member congressional delegation for meetings with Iraqi and U.S. officials but did not plan any public appearances.

The delegation includes John Murtha, a Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania, who has also been vocal in his criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the war.
Murtha has been saying for a long time that the American people are way ahead of the politicians on Iraq. He's been right the whole time. Read the rest of this post...

White House press strategy: we control Russert, no one sees news from Friday afternoon

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The Scooter Libby trial provided an illuminating look at the inside world of the Bush press machine yesterday. Verified some of the things we thought -- and helped further undermine the credibility of one of the witnesses at the trial, Tim Russert. Inside the White House, they think Russert is a pushover:
Memo to Tim Russert: Dick Cheney thinks he controls you.

This delicious morsel about the "Meet the Press" host and the vice president was part of the extensive dish Cathie Martin served up yesterday when the former Cheney communications director took the stand in the perjury trial of former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Flashed on the courtroom computer screens were her notes from 2004 about how Cheney could respond to allegations that the Bush administration had played fast and loose with evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Option 1: "MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under "pro," she wrote: "control message."

"I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used," Martin testified. "It's our best format."
Also, Ms. Martin verified that the White House uses the trick of putting out bad stories late on Friday afternoon:
And bad news is dumped before the weekend for the sole purpose of burying it.

With a candor that is frowned upon at the White House, Martin explained the use of late-Friday statements. "Fewer people pay attention to it late on Friday," she said. "Fewer people pay attention when it's reported on Saturday."
Yes, it works over and over and over because the media never caught on. Read the rest of this post...

Friday Morning Open Thread

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Watched Chuck Hagel on the Today Show. Because he's being honest about Iraq, Hagel is under attack from the GOP. That's always been a main emphasis of the Bush Iraq policy: to fight opponents of the war here in the U.S. Bush has never been reined in. This is going to get ugly, really ugly. As Bush would say: Bring it on.

So, bring it on. Read the rest of this post...