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Is it a requirement that they never know proper English?

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From: Helen
Date: January 29, 2007 12:23:52 AM EST
To: americablog
Subject: Response to your articles

How can you live with your self-conscious?
To lye people like this, you will burn in Lake of fire for eternity.
You are evil.
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More reader survey results

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Former "gay liaison" sues DNC

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You may recall I've written about this growing battle before. Here is Donald Hitchcock's earlier statement about the issue, and the Democratic National Committee's earlier response. And this is Donald's statement about the law suit. If the DNC has a public response, I'm obviously happy to publish it as well.

As a lifelong, loyal Democrat I am filing this complaint against the DNC because the road to social justice sometimes demands that our political family and friends be held accountable when they do not act for the common good.

Respecting the Democrats' opportunity to regain the majority in both Houses of Congress, I remained silent throughout the last year about my illegal termination and subsequent ongoing defamation from the DNC. Prior to filing this lawsuit I tried several times to settle this matter in a reasonable and professional manner, but the DNC refused and continues to attempt to discredit me and my political opinions.

Prior to my position at the DNC, I worked for 10 years advocating for equality for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. When I was recruited by the DNC to serve as the Director of its Gay and Lesbian leadership Council, I was told that my professional and activist background would be helpful to achieving Governor Dean's goals. Once I joined the DNC, however, senior staff made it clear that they had no interest in LGBT equality. Instead, Democratic LGBT constituents and employees are treated as second-class citizens, whom the DNC tries to ignore unless fundraising is involved –reducing the community to a little more than an ATM. As a DNC employee, I tried to push the organization to treat the LGBT community with greater respect. The DNC ultimately terminated me after my long-term partner criticized the Democrats' lack of a strategy to combat anti-gay ballot measures - a critique made without my input and which the DNC recently admitted was accurate.

It is clear that the DNC fundraisers have no intention of ceasing their personal attacks against me. Their goal is to keep LGBT money flowing to the DNC, no matter what. For some, if truth is not convenient they find it expendable for the cause. They have spent time researching my political and charitable contributions and even claimed publicly that I was not a loyal Democrat since I did not donate a part of my salary back to the party. Social justice is not for sale, nor should it have to be bought.

The LGBT press has rightly criticized the DNC for its failure to recognize and promote basic human rights for the community. Rather than respond to legitimate questions about DNC policy and strategy impacting the LGBT community, the DNC has retaliated against publications and former employees by attacking the messengers personally. The DNC now has fewer openly gay and lesbian members than before the 2004 election. This is not progress.

I expect my party to embody the Democratic values of fairness and honesty. It is important that the DNC be able to acknowledge its failings and live up to its promise to protect the human rights of the LGBT community as we move forward. To help attain this goal, I cannot remain silent on matters of policy and substance.
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Bush administration negotiating with terrorists in Iraq

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The military just said on ABC that they're happy to talk and work out an amnesty for Al Qaeda insurgents and maybe even insurgents who killed US troops - they're actually currently negotiating with a group that attacked US troops only 3 weeks ago. The military spokesman said he thinks 80% of the insurgents can be convinced to lay down their arms, i.e., give them amnesty.

But this doesn't empower the insurgents or Al Qaeda. Uh huh. According to ABC, many suspected insurgent supporters recently negotiated with the US military and indicated they all want jobs with the local police force. Yeah, I bet they do.

I'm not saying this is a bad idea. I just think it stinks that Bush and Cheney and Rudy and McCain and all the rest have the nerve to suggest that any and every Democratic proposal on Iraq "empowers the terrorists" when they're talking about giving all the terrorists amnesty and jobs where they carry guns and enforce the law as they see fit. Yeah, no terrorist victory there. Read the rest of this post...

50 More Years in Iraq?

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Froomkin on the White House's comments about us staying in Iraq another 50 years, just like in South Korea.
It's troubling because American troops have been in South Korea for more than 50 years -- while polls show the American public wants them out of Iraq within a year.

It's flawed because in South Korea, unlike Iraq, there's something concrete to defend (the border with North Korea); and because Iraq, unlike South Korea, happens to be in a state of violent civil war.

It's dangerous because the specter of a permanent military presence in Iraq is widely considered to be one of the most inflammatory incitements to Iraq's ever-growing anti-American insurgency, and may even be destabilizing to the entire region.

And it's telling because it gives credence to persistent suspicions that establishing a long-term strategic presence in the Middle East was a primary motivation for this misbegotten war in the first place.
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WorldNetDaily: VP's lesbian caption ignites 'sinful' fury

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WorldNetDaily, a silly publication that is an important source for right-wing talk radio and FOX GOP operatives, is joining the attack on Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter, Mary Cheney, and her partner Heather Poe for having a baby. More background on this story here. Read the rest of this post...

US soldier in Iraq: "When are we going to get out of here? We don't feel like we're making any progress"

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These are the troops on the ground. They know better than anyone what the real situation is in Iraq. And they think it's over. Read the rest of this post...

NH governor signs civil unions law

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They had a choice, and they chose to live free.
[New Hampshire] Couples entering civil unions will have the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as married couples. Same-sex unions from other states also would be recognized if they were legal in the state where they were performed.

Several Northeastern states already offer civil unions.

Massachusetts alone among the U.S. states allows gay marriage. Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Maine, as well as California and Washington allow either civil unions or domestic partnerships, and Oregon will join the list with New Hampshire in January. Hawaii extends certain spousal rights to same-sex couples and cohabiting heterosexual pairs.
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Hillary and Obama trounce Rudy in NY poll

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From TPM Election Central. Read the rest of this post...

White House spokesman Tony Snow acknowledged Mary Cheney and Heather Poe as "parents"

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I just happened upon this White House press briefing from last December in which White House spokesman Tony Snow referred to Vice President Cheney's lesbian daughter, Mary, and her partner, Heather Poe, as "parents." At the time, it kind of slipped by me. But in view of the growing brouhaha over the White House Web site officially acknowledging Heather as a "parent" (she and Mary just gave birth to a baby boy), Snow's earlier comment takes on much more meaning.

From the White House Web site:
Q Tony, in an interview with People Magazine, the President was asked about Mary Cheney's pregnancy, and said he's confident -- he believes she'll be a loving soul to her child. In the past, he said that he believes the ideal is that a child be raised in a married family with a man and a woman. Does he still believe that's the ideal?

MR. SNOW: Yes, he does, but he also believes that every human life is sacred and that every child that comes into the world deserves love. And he believes that Mary Cheney's child will, in fact, have loving parents.

Q Does he believe that children who are raised by gay and lesbian parents are at a disadvantage?

MR. SNOW: He does not make comments on that, and nor will I.
Note that Snow also refused to take the bait and knock gay parents. The Web site posting last week takes on a whole new light knowing that Snow acknowledged Heather's legitimacy as a gay parent all the way last winter. Read the rest of this post...

Tony Snow: We're staying in Iraq 50 years

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BUMP: This is rather important, I'm bumping this from last night.

50 years is the current thinking for when we'll complete our withdrawal. Certifiably insane. From AP:
President Bush envisions a long-term U.S. troop presence in Iraq similar to the one in South Korea where American forces have helped keep an uneasy peace for more than 50 years, the White House said Wednesday.

The comparison was offered as the Pentagon announced the completion of the troop buildup ordered by Bush in January. The last of about 21,500 combat troops to arrive were an Army brigade in Baghdad and a Marine unit heading into the Anbar province in western Iraq....

In South Korea, about 29,500 U.S. troops are stationed...
And a second rather important point, the Bushies keep telling us how all the surge troops won't even be all there in Iraq until July, so it's way too early to talk about success or failure. Now we learn that the combat troops have all arrived - it's only May. Yes, another lie. But just as important, it means that September will be ample time to judge the success or failure of the "surge."

More on this from C&L, CarpetBagger, and TPM. Read the rest of this post...

US Q1 economic growth slashed to 0.6%

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GOP policies hard at work:
The economy nearly stalled in the first quarter with growth slowing to a pace of just 0.6 percent. That was the worst three-month showing in over four years.

The new reading on the gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department Thursday, showed that economic growth in the January-through-March quarter was much weaker. Government statisticians slashed by more than half their first estimate of a 1.3 percent growth rate for the quarter.
As a side note to the GOP, France was twice this number. Read the rest of this post...

Religious right furor over Mary Cheney's baby grows

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Now a religious right news service is jumping on the bandwagon. The Bushies, with Mary's help, created this religious right monster by happily embracing these bigots into the GOP. Now they'll have to deal with the consequences of their own actions. Read the rest of this post...

Thursday Morning Open Thread

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Good morning.

It's going to be a hot, humid day in D.C. with bad air quality. And Congress isn't even in session. They're all back home -- where any member who voted last week to give Bush the blank check for Iraq should really be hearing about it. Their recklessness has to end.

All right, get it started. Read the rest of this post...

2,000,000 Iraqi refugees or Lieberman/Cheney

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Who are you going to believe? If the war is going so well, why are so many running away from Iraq?:
After months of agonizing delays and withering criticism from advocacy groups and lawmakers, the Bush administration has finalized new guidelines to screen Iraqi refugees, including those seeking asylum because helping the Americans has put them at huge risk.

The 2 million-plus people — the fastest growing refugee population in the world — have left Iraq, but Washington has balked at allowing them into the United States for security reasons.
So Bush creates this disaster and then hides behind the security issue - always a winner with the pro-fear crowd - to block the refugees from coming to America. With Chertoff at the helm, it's true that expectations should be pretty low for managing this process but to accept fewer people than Sweden is simply pathetic. Read the rest of this post...

Ethanol trickle down continues - expect higher costs

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The Big Farm payday from the government continues to have a negative impact, now with the price of dairy rising. Alternative energy research and development makes all the sense in the world but corporate welfare like this, without planning and without researching the full impact, is just another example of the Bush administration hard at work. The GOP has a belief that if you throw millions and billions of dollars at a problem, it will somehow all work out. The fly in the ointment has consistently been that they never think about the full consequences of their policies beyond wads of cash to friends.
U.S. retail milk prices have increased about 3 percent, or roughly a dime a gallon, this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But University of Illinois dairy specialist Michael Hutjens forecasts further increases of up to 40 cents a gallon for milk over the next few months, and up to 60 cents for a pound of cheese.
Again, it's the middle class footing the bill for another failed GOP program.
Hutjens and others said higher gasoline prices have increased the costs of moving milk from farm to market, and corn — the primary feed for dairy cattle — is being gobbled up by producers of the fuel-additive ethanol. The USDA projects that 3.2 billion bushels of this year’s corn crop will be used to make ethanol, a 52 percent increase over 2006.

Ethanol has increased the average American's grocery bill $47 since July, and Iowa State University study concluded.
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Pfizer being sued for testing new drugs on children

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The Washington Post has been covering the subject of Big Pharma testing in the developing world for years. In Africa it is not unusual to hear rumors of such testing and distrust of Big Pharma is widespread. If people volunteer for experimental treatment, perhaps, but the allegations in this lawsuit are horrifying not to mention illegal, with a complete disregard for human rights.
The panel said Pfizer administered an oral form of Trovan that apparently had never been given to children with meningitis. It said there were no records documenting that Pfizer told the children or their parents that they were part of a drug trial. And it said an approval letter from a Nigerian ethics committee, which Pfizer used to justify its actions, was a sham concocted long after the trial ended.

"The families of the children who [Pfizer] used as laboratory guinea pigs were led to believe and in fact understood that the Defendants were providing their children with volunteer relief, clearly focused humanitarian medical intervention and nothing more," the lawsuit says.

Parents were not told that alternative treatments were available, it adds.

The suit charges that parents were barred from Pfizer's ward and that the company's own lab tests had shown Trovan's life-threatening side effects. Researchers allegedly administered the comparison drug, Rocephin, in dangerously low doses to make Trovan look more effective.
This is very troubling. Read the rest of this post...

Cafferty [hearts] CREW

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CNN's Jack Cafferty gave a big shout out to our buddies at CREW today. It's about Dick Cheney hiding the list of conservative religious nuts who have visited him at the vice president's mansion.

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Bush suddenly worried that immigration debate might be getting a bit bigoted

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Gee, you think? It's not like the immigration debate hasn't played out along the typical GOP game plan - if you don't have anything to rally the base, pick on a minority and make them a threat to all of western civilization. The Republicans have already worked their way through blacks, women, Jews, gays, then Muslims, and now Latinos. Perhaps Bush is getting concerned that the bigotry-well is starting to run a little dry - after all, to twist the words of Martin Niemöller, once you've demonized everyone, there's no one left to demonize. More from Froomkin at
President Bush said yesterday he fears that the backlash against immigration being incited by opponents of his legalization proposal could result in the nation losing its soul.

His comments came in an intense interview aboard Air Force One with McClatchy Newspapers. "I'm deeply concerned about America losing its soul," Bush said. "Immigration has been the lifeblood of a lot of our country's history." He added: "If we don't solve the problem it's going to affect America. It will affect our economy and it will affect our soul."
Oh, honey, we already lost our soul somewhere between the invasion of Iraq and rescinding habeas corpus. Read the rest of this post...

25 GOP Senators may vote for Democratic Iraq withdrawal timetable in September

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Yes, the vote last week was a disappointment, but in the end this war is going to be the end of Bush and the GOP. From the National Review Online:
Iraq--the Coming GOP Collapse? [Rich Lowry]

Was talking to an influential Republican strategist who thinks if Iraq looks the way it does now in September, Bush will lose about 25 Senate Republicans on a bill with some sort of timetable for withdrawal.
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Concerned Women for America spokesman blasts Mary Cheney and girlfriend as just "playing house," not "real parents," birth of son is "tragedy"

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And the far-right got upset that we criticized Jerry Falwell after his death. That doesn't even come close to dissing a newborn baby. But there you have it, Stephen Bennett, a spokesman for the Concerned Women for America, one of the largest religious right groups, today blasted Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter, Mary, and her partner Heather Poe for having a baby out of wedlock. As we reported yesterday, the White House published a baby announcement on the Vice President's portion of the White House Web site, noting that the Mary and Heather were both "parents" of the newborn child.

(Bennett is the same guy who, only four months ago, was angling for a meeting with President Bush. Funny, I'm guessing that isn't going to be happening now.)

Well, that set the religious right off, big time. Here is what Bennett had to say about Mary and Heather having a baby, then I've posted his press release in its entirety - it's a must-read of venom.
SBM PRAISES parents and individuals - mothers and fathers - who have taken on the noble task of adopting children and giving them a chance at life in the God ordained family unit including a Daddy and Mommy. Every child deserves a Daddy and Mommy. We understand, sometimes through death or divorce, that unit is broken - and parents do the best they could to raise and nurture their child or children. That's where we as the Body of Christ step in to help and be there for the family and child. We celebrate these individuals and families. Sometimes in a second heterosexual marriage, children are adopted. We praise these men and women who do all they could to raise these children. THESE ARE REAL PARENTS. This is NOT playing "house."

Homosexual parenting though is something TOTALLY different. It "mimicks" the real and the natural
And here is Bennett's press release. I can't even begin to excerpt it or bold it, it's that bad. Read it:

White House Officially Recognizes Homosexual Unions and Parenting?

Contact: The Parents Group ~ SBM's National Office, 203-926-6960

HUNTINGTON, Conn., May 30 /Christian Newswire/ -- On May 23, 2007, the White House, silently and without any fanfare, released an official White House photo of Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, welcoming their sixth grandchild, Samuel David Cheney, into the Cheney fold.

The beautiful little tyke weighed in at 8 lbs., 6 oz. and was born at 9:46 a.m. at Sibley House in Washington, D.C.

What is extremely troubling is the official White House caption that appears underneath the photo on the official White House website:

"... His parents are the Cheney's daughter Mary, and her partner, Heather Poe. White House photo by David Bohrer."

Since when have two homosexual women been able to naturally procreate?

Fact is Mary Cheney, the Vice President's daughter - in one way or another - received a male's sperm. She is the biological mother, parent number one, and some man, somewhere out there, is Samuel David's real biological father, parent number two.

Unlike the official White House photo caption, a man and a woman, a Daddy and a Mommy, are Samuel David Cheney's REAL biological parents.

Then who is Heather Poe?

Heather Poe is Mary Cheney's live-in lesbian lover. She may act like a parent, she may treat the baby as a parent, she may love this baby with all of her heart, but in this reality we all live in, Heather Poe is NOT the baby's real parent. She has NO biological connection to the child whatsoever. Some man, the baby's real Daddy, is the child's other REAL parent.

If the Vice President and his wife Lynne are joining their daughter Mary in playing this homosexual game of "house," then all have chosen their roles and designated lesbian lover Heather Poe as the "Daddy."

Everyone knows there can only be one REAL biological Mommy. We are all grown adults. Playing "house" is a game for children, not for The White House or the Vice President and his wife.

What is so hypocritical of this Administration is its "double-speak."

President George W. Bush held several presses conferences calling for a Federal Marriage Amendment to protect the God-ordained institution of marriage between one man and one woman, while homosexuals pushed for the union of two men or two women to be equally recognized as real "marriage."

However, the President's number two, right hand man, Vice President Dick Cheney, clearly rebels against his superior, makes a public mockery of the President and the current Administration he is supposed to represent, and clearly holds to a different set of moral standards and beliefs.

When President Bush stood on the victory stage several years ago after being elected into office by values voters, Mary Cheney was on stage as well with her lesbian lover, Heather Poe. It was a slap in the face to the values voters who had just elected the duo into office. That wound has never healed.

While this little innocent child Samuel David Cheney deserves every fighting chance at life, the sins of two women, Mary Cheney and Heather Poe, have deliberately denied the Vice President's grandson one of the most basic human rights of all: the right to a Daddy and a Mommy.

I say shame on the White House, shame on the President and shame on the Vice President for allowing such a caption to be "officially" added onto the White House website and such a beautiful photo of two happy grandparents and their new grandchild.

I guess we can tragically and officially say both the White House and Bush Administration have officially recognized the sinful sexual unions of homosexuals, as well as recognized and embraced the tragedy of the social experiment of homosexual parenting.
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Feds investigating GOP Senator from Alaska

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My former boss :-)

Guess who?

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Another topical political comedy video

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From my buddy Andy Cobb and his troupe of friends in LA. It's really good. Not going to tell you what it's about, as that would spoil the surprise.

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Your TV viewing habits

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Some more data from our blog reader survey. Here are your favorite TV shows, in order, along with the percentage of you who "regularly watch" each show. You can check out a more detailed chart here.

Percent of you who "regularly watch" the following shows:
Daily Show - 56%
Keith Olbermann - 44%
Colbert Report - 44%
Bill Maher - 28%
Bill Moyers - 27%
Frontline - 23%
60 Minutes - 22%
Meet the Press - 19%
PBS Newshour - 18%
NOVA - 18%
BBC World News - 17%
C-Span - 17%
Hardball (Tweety) - 17%
CNN Headline News - 14%
SNL - 14%
CNN Situation Room - 13%
Stephanopoulos - 12%
NBC Nightly News - 11%
Anderson Cooper - 11%
David Letterman - 11%
Lou Dobbs - 10%
McLaughlin Group - 10%

% who watch the comedy shows:
Daily Show - 56%
Colbert Report - 44%
Bill Maher - 28%
SNL - 14%
Letterman - 11%
Jay Leno - 5%
Conan - 4%
Kimmel - 1%

% who watch the Nightly News
PBS Newshour - 18%
BBC World News - 17%
NBC - 11%
ABC - 7%
CBS - 4%

% who watch the Sunday Morning Shows
NBC Meet the Press (Timmeh) - 19%
ABC This Week (Stephanopoulos) - 12%
CBS Face the Nation - 10%
CBS Sunday Morning - 7%

% of you who watch the fake news
Scarborough - 7.1%
Tucker Carlson - 2.5%
O'Reilly - 1.4%
Hannity & Colmes - 0.8%
Shepard Smith - 0.5%
Glenn Beck - 0.4% Read the rest of this post...

Lieberman in Iraq sees "progress," says so-called surge "would start to break the insurgency"

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What a coincidence. Two years after Cheney said the insurgency was in its last throes, Joe Lieberman made essentially the same prediction.

CNN reports that Lieberman is on an unannounced "surprise" visit to Baghdad. Paula Hancocks followed Lieberman around. She talked to Lieberman and reported, "He said he was happy with the progress. He was devastated by the fact that May was turning in to the deadliest month since November 2004. But he said he did believe that this surge eventually would pay off and it would start to break the insurgency."

Meanwhile, in the real world, the evidence is to the contrary:
U.S. officials have warned that the strategy of putting more American troops on the streets and in small combat outposts, part of a security plan launched in February, would lead to higher U.S. casualties. But Tuesday's carnage suggested that the effort had not created a safer security environment.

Also, the complex operations launched against U.S. and allied forces Monday and Tuesday demonstrated that the insurgency here also is adopting more sophisticated tactics and weapons.
But Joe Lieberman sees "progress." Check out his rosy assessment in this video of him in full battle gear - priceless:
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Wednesday Morning Open Thread

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So, on this day in history, May 30, 2005, two years ago, Dick Cheney told us the Iraq insurgency was in its "last throes." Every single thing Cheney has said about Iraq has either been a flat out lie or just plain wrong. This quote from two years ago shows just how out of touch he's been all along:
I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time. But I think the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.
Now, if you will, things being as they are, Dick Cheney doesn't have to take any responsibility for his lies. He and Bush just send more soldiers to die in Iraq.

So, with that, start threading. Read the rest of this post...

Bush requesting additional billions to fund abstinence programs

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Spending billions for medicine, nurses and doctors makes sense and should be fully supported and globally, the PEPFAR program is great. Where Congress needs to draw the line is Bush's continuing funding for abstinence programs. HIV rates in Africa are in excess of 24 million people, with some countries in Southern Africa experiencing rates of 20%-30% of the population. Education is obviously important and stressing safe sex is critical but much of the funds for education are for funding the favorite abstinence programs of the US religious right.

The issue today is finding enough medicine to address those in need as well as finding doctors and nurses who can tend to the needs of very sick people. Shortages of medical care workers in these heavily impacted countries are all too common, the end result being overwhelmed staff and people dying unnecessarily. The initial results of the abstinence programs have shown no results whatsoever, with even Uganda (the original case study) showing a resurgence in HIV.

Congress really needs to stand up to Bush and his failing religious experiments that are taking money away from saving people. Let the religious right fund their theories on their own dollar but let's put American tax dollars to work helping people with science, medicine and medical staff. Read the rest of this post...

21,000 British mercenaries working in Iraq

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That is three times the number of UK troops currently in Iraq. Just as the US has lowered the bar for recruiting, low standards are often used when recruiting mercenaries though the so-called security companies are making enormous amounts of money on this outsourcing project and the "security staff" are pulling in $1000 per day, tax free. Running a war with guns-for-hire is a strange way for democracies to win hearts and minds.
Many in the private sector have, however, expressed alarm about the types of recruits attracted by the money. Robin Horsfall, a former SAS trooper and security guard said "former soldiers are working alongside people who have been involved in nightclub security and have very limited experience. It's because a lot of contracts only demand that you can prove you have got six week's security experience".
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Ten US troops killed on Memorial Day

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Washington Post:
Gunmen dressed in police uniforms kidnapped five Britons from Iraq's Finance Ministry Tuesday, the same day that two suicide bombings killed at least 44 people and U.S. officials announced the Memorial Day deaths of 10 American soldiers.
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CNN on US military firing gay Arabic-language-speaking service members

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This is the video from my appearance on CNN tonight. I was discussing the issue of the US military continually firing gay Arabic-speaking service members even though we have a shortage of such linguists in the military and it is seriously jeopardizing the war in Iraq, let alone the effort to stop the next September 11. My companions in the discussion were Iraq war vet Jon Soltz of Vote Vets, and Mark Smith, an Ann Coulter wannabe (but without the Adam's apple). I researched Smith earlier today and found that in addition to being a winger, he likes to interrupt and keep talking in order to run out the clock when he appears on TV (kind of like his president's approach to winning the war in Iraq). In that circumstance, you simply have to be more aggressive - even though you run the risk of seeming rude and "interrupting", or the aggressive guest owns the show, even if he comes off as a nut. But I knew that Iraq war vet Jon Stolz of Vote Vets was going to be in studio with the guy, so I let Jon handle a lot of the response, especially at the end - and Jon did handle it, with his usual gravitas. (I was especially intrigued by the right-winger feeling the need to tell the audience how much he allegedly enjoys Hooters girls. Look for it.)

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Yes, in fact, Valerie Plame was a covert agent when the Bush team outed her

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The loyal Bushies always put politics before national security. And, despite all the claims from the right wing pundits to the contrary, Valerie Plame was indeed a covert agent. Per NBC's coverage:
An unclassified summary of outed CIA officer Valerie Plame's employment history at the spy agency, disclosed for the first time today in a court filing by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, indicates that Plame was "covert" when her name became public in July 2003.

The summary is part of an attachment to Fitzgerald's memorandum to the court supporting his recommendation that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former top aide, spend 2-1/2 to 3 years in prison for obstructing the CIA leak investigation.
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I'll be on CNN tonight

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Paula Zahn's show, discussing the Pentagon policy of firing American service members who are Arabic linguists simply because they're gay. They just fired 3 more. We should be on around 8:05 or 8:10 PM Eastern. Read the rest of this post...

Wolfowitz for Mayor -- in Iraq

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Republican Congressman Walter Jones from North Carolina has a suggestion for Wolfie's new job. Send him to Iraq:
Paul Wolfowitz may have been ousted from his post at the World Bank, but a free-speaking GOP lawmaker has an idea to keep the so-called "architect" of the Iraq War from standing in the unemployment line.

"I would like to suggest...that maybe we give Paul Wolfowitz a new job and send him over [to Iraq] as mayor," said Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., "since the neocons got us in over there."

As deputy secretary of defense from 2000 to 2005, Wolfowitz helped develop the strategy and public rationale for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. He publicly stated that coalition troops would be greeted as liberators, and the nation of Iraq would be largely capable of financing its own rebuilding through oil revenues.
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Bush now banning photo journalism of wounded troops

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From the NYT
“They are basically asking me to stand in front of a unit before I go out with them and say that in the event that they are wounded, I would like their consent,” he said. “We are already viewed by some as bloodsucking vultures, and making that kind of announcement would make you an immediate bad luck charm.”

“They are not letting us cover the reality of war,” he added. “I think this has got little to do with the families or the soldiers and everything to do with politics.”

....Until last year, no permission was required to publish photographs of the wounded, but families had to be notified of the soldier’s injury first. Now, not only is permission required, but any image of casualties that shows a recognizable name or unit is off-limits. And memorials for the fallen in Iraq can no longer be shown, even when the unit in question invites coverage.
We quite literally have a government that no longer believes in the very freedoms it claims our troops are dying for. Read the rest of this post...

Bush lying about polls, claims public supports his policy on Iraq and opposes withdrawal. In fact, all polls agree that public wants a withdrawal.

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What a surprise, Bush is lying about the war in Iraq. What's disturbing is how blatantly Bush is now lying about public opinion on the war. Either he has decided that lying to the public is, again, the best strategy for a president to take with his people, or he truly believes the lies he's telling, which means that he's not just an idiot, he's also crazy.

From AP:
The president says Democrats have it all wrong: the public doesn't want the troops pulled out — they want to give the military more support in its mission....

Bush said: "I recognize there are a handful there, or some, who just say, `Get out, you know, it's just not worth it. Let's just leave.' I strongly disagree with that attitude. Most Americans do as well."

In fact, polls show Americans do not disagree, and that leaving — not winning — is their main goal....

Independent pollster Andrew Kohut said of the White House view: "I don't see what [the White House is] talking about."

"[People] want to know when American troops are going to leave," Kohut, director of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, said of the public. "They certainly want to win. But their hopes have been dashed."

Kohut has found it notable that there's such a consensus in poll findings.

"When the public hasn't made up its mind or hasn't thought about things, there's a lot of variation in the polls," he said. "But there's a fair amount of agreement now."

The president didn't used to try to co-opt polling for his benefit. He just said he ignored it.
Read the rest of this post...

Moscow police sit by as far-right extremists violently attack European members of parliament at gay pride rally

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This is what Russia is becoming again - or still is - as George Bush and Condi Rice sit idly by. Eastern Europe, from Moscow to Warsaw, is still struggling to understand freedom and democracy, and not doing so well it would seem, as we ignore them. Rather than rely on the reports of gay advocates present at the event, let's read what the independent mainstream media had to say - it's hideous.

From Germany's Deutsche Welle:
Police detained Russian gay community leader Nikolai Alexeyev and several European lawmakers in central Moscow at the start of the demonstration by dozens of homosexual rights activists campaigning for an end to sexual discrimination.

Dozens of Russian right-wing extremists converged on the group, shouting insults like "fags," "perverts" and "death to homosexuals," throwing eggs and punching and kicking gay demonstrators in front of riot police who intervened much later.

The police also systematically arrested both the attackers and the assaulted. The gay rights activists were also assaulted by ultra-nationalists and Orthodox Church hardliners....

Also detained were Volker Beck, a member of Germany's parliament; Marco Cappato, an Italian member of the European Parliament, and veteran British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. The politicians have since been released.
Yes, the police sat by while European members of parliament were violently attacked. The police then proceeded to arrest the members of parliament and others who were victims of the violence.

More from AP:
Marco Cappato, a European Parliament deputy from Italy, was kicked by one opponent as he spoke to journalists. Cappato began shouting "Where are the police? Why don't you protect us?" and officers hauled him away as he struggled....

Thirty-one people were detained and most were later released, Moscow police spokesman Yevgeny Gildeyev said. He said two Italians were detained for jaywalking and a German was taken away by police to prevent him from being beaten....

No gay rights opponents were seen taken away by police, though Gildeyev said a man was detained after attacking a Briton, presumably referring to Tatchell.
And more from Reuters:
Richard Fairbrass, a gay singer with the pop group Right Said Fred, was punched in the face and kicked by anti-gay activists while speaking to Reuters in an interview.

"We understand this is a gay event and so we came down here today," Fairbrass said before being hit. Blood dripped from his face after the attack. Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell was knocked to the ground and kicked twice. When he got up he was punched in the face again and taken away by two riot policemen....

Volker Beck, a German Green Party politician, was hit in the face with eggs before being detained by riot police. "We didn't do anything," he told Reuters as he was led away.
There is also growing concern about the status of Russia's gay civil rights leader, Nikolai Alekseev:
Alekeyev and two other organizers of the march - dubbed the “Moscow Gay Pride Three” were detained overnight Sunday awaiting a court hearing and sources close to them told UK Gay News that they feared he may be sent to prison: "We really fear that Nikolai Alekseev will be sent to prison for 15 days as the 'figurehead' of the Gay Pride organising team...Unofficially, we received confirmation that this is what the General Prosecutor already asked. We are not very optimistic about the result of the court hearing. We can say that all three have been provided with legal assistance."

The sources allege: "[It is] becoming very clear that orders are being given to court and militia directly from [the] Kremlin."
Sadly, these are countries that want to be treated as equals. They want to become a member of the civilized, developed world (the EU, NATO), yet in many ways, they are not yet civilized, they are not yet developed. They're slipping back into the sort of violent totalitarianism that made them our mortal enemy for 70 years.

You know what to do:

Russian embassy, Washington, DC: (202) 298-5700, (202) 298-5701, (202) 298-5704, (202) 939-8907, (202) 939-8913, (202) 939-8918,,, Read the rest of this post...

White House officially recognizes legal status of gay couples and parents

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Something rather historic happened this past week. The White House, for the first time ever on its Web site (that I know of), recognized the legitimacy of gay couples as both married and as parents. It was done, innocuously enough, when the White House published a photo of Vice President Dick Cheney's new grandson, the child of the VP's lesbian daughter and her lesbian spouse. The White House not only published a photo of the child with the VP and his wife, but the caption was even more telling:
Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, welcomed their sixth grandchild, Samuel David Cheney, Wednesday, May 23, 2007. He weighed 8 lbs., 6 oz and was born at 9:46 a.m. at Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C. His parents are the Cheneys’ daughter Mary, and her partner, Heather Poe. White House photo by David Bohrer

Did you catch that last sentence? The White House officially recognized a lesbian couple as co-equal parents of a child. That not only is a recognition of the legitimacy of gay parents - i.e., if one person is the birth mother and the other the mother's partner, both are the "parents" of the child, per the White House - but the White House is also, implicitly, recognizing the legitimate couple status of two gay people in love, i.e., they are not simply two unrelated gay people, they are parents, akin to your parents, akin to a married couple. Why do I say that the White House is de facto recognizing gay marriage? Because either Mary or her lover, or both, are not the biological mom of this child - with two women, only one can be the biological parent. For the White House to recognize both as parents means that they are recognizing the legitimacy of the two women as one entity, the parent. Anyway, it's a hell of a statement by any White House, let alone one of the most conservative in history, and one that prides itself on being so anti-gay.

JSpot asks a very good question about why the baby's photo is on the White House Web site:
So now a question for grandpa: Isn’t it just a bit disingenious to say that your daughters’ family is private & off limits and to get so pissy with reporters for being “out of line,” and then you’ve got this photo on the home page of an official government website?

Hey, its not like we think you are personally a homophobe, and your love for your daughter is obvious. But given your role in an administration that denies your grandson a legal relationship with the mom who you credit as a parent on the White House website, isn’t it time to explain this incongruity?
Read the rest of this post...

Eight soldiers killed on Memorial Day in Iraq

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Updated from MSNBC:
At least eight U.S. soldiers were killed in restive Diyala province north of Baghdad on Memorial Day, two of the victims in a helicopter that went down, the military reported Tuesday.

Six more U.S. soldiers were killed by bombs in north of Baghdad on Monday, the military said on Tuesday.

The U.S. military death toll rose to 112 in this month, making May the deadliest for 2007.
Bush said the war is going to get bloody in August. So what's this? Read the rest of this post...

Tuesday Morning Open Thread

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Okay, long weekend is over. Time to re-focus. Read the rest of this post...

Swimming at the North Pole

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Can you imagine? Besides the polar bears drowning, Inuit hunters are also now falling through the thin ice after thousands of years of hunting on the ice. With the G8 summit arriving soon and Bush digging in to block any and all efforts to fight global warming, it's time the EU steps up and isolates him. Unfortunately the EU powers can never find the backbone to stand up to Bush's bullying ways, just as they never stand up to the knuckle-dragging extremists in Poland. And people wonder why there is such limited enthusiasm for the EU as a political organization. Read the rest of this post...

DNA samples for everyone

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Not to worry, Big Brother is (probably) not watching. Not too much at least. Then again...
Civil liberties groups are warning that the details of every Briton could soon be on the national DNA database, raising fresh concerns of a 'surveillance society'. Controversial plans being studied by the government would see the DNA of people convicted of even the most minor, non-imprisonable offences, such as dropping litter, entered on the national database.

The proposals are part of a wide-ranging government review of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Pace), which campaign groups warn may have profound ramifications for society. 'The danger is that if we start adding the details of people convicted of these sort of minor offences to the database we'll come to a tipping point,' said Gareth Crossman, director of Liberty. 'The government will say: "Actually it's a bit unfair some people aren't on the database; maybe everyone should be on it."'

The DNA database is already proving controversial with some politicians and police officers raising concerns about its use. Liberty claims that, per head of population, the UK has five times as many people on the DNA database as any other country. The government estimates that even if the database is not expanded to include the details of minor offenders, some 4.5 million people will still be on it by 2010.
Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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I'm watching the movie "Elizabeth I" with Helen Mirren. Wonderful movie. It's kind of bizarre, I've always hated Elizabethan England - well, rather, I never cared much for that period of time in history, it just never interested me. I was always an ancient history (Greece and Rome) buff, and a modern post-war history (America and Europe). And now suddenly I'm getting interested in other time periods. Getting older is weird. Read the rest of this post...

Charles Nelson Reilly dies

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Sad. Read the rest of this post...

Who visited AMERICAblog over the past 3 days

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I'm trying out another service that shows the location of people visiting the blog. This map is of people who visited over the past 3 days or so.

Click image to enlarge.
Read the rest of this post...

American soldier in Iraq: We could stay 10 years and it won't fix anything

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From the International Herald Tribune
But in Safstrom's view, the American presence is futile. "If we stayed here for 5, even 10 more years, the day we leave here these guys will go crazy," he said. "It would go straight into a civil war. That's how it feels, like we're putting a Band-Aid on this country until we leave here."
Read the rest of this post...

Polish government investigating whether Tinky Winky is gay (not joking)

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It's time the European Union started getting tough with Eastern European governments that aren't ready for prime time. If they want to rejoin the civilized world, they should start acting like it. This is just embarrassing for Poland, and it's sad that the country hasn't learned from its experiences with the Nazis or the Soviets; the dehumanization of your citizens is a bad thing. It's also a harbinger of the problems European integration faces when some of those wanting to integrate don't live in the same century as the rest of us. Will the EU water down its commitment to civil rights and human rights to appease the lowest common denominator of hate and backwardness in its midst? If Poland isn't ready and willing to join the modern era, it shouldn't be permitted to.

PS It's nice to see that the hate and bile of now-dead bigot Jerry Falwell lives on. And actually, I'll bet that the Poles learned the news of Tinky Winky's homosexuality from the increasing evangelizing religious right extremists are doing in the former Eastern bloc. These countries have no idea who they're dealing with, and thus accept the religious right's hate wrapped in God at carte blanche. Well, it's now biting them in the ass. Read the rest of this post...

"Why are we still here?", soldier asks about Iraq

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Because the Republicans would rather have you die than admit that they made a mistake by supporting this war. Oh yeah, and also because the Democrats don't have enough spine to say "no."

From the International Herald Tribune:
"I thought, 'What are we doing here? Why are we still here?' " said Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. "We're helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us."

His views are echoed by most of his fellow soldiers in Delta Company, renowned for its aggressiveness....

"In 2003, 2004, 100 percent of the soldiers wanted to be here, to fight this war," said Sergeant First Class David Moore, a self-described "conservative Texas Republican" and platoon sergeant who strongly advocates an American withdrawal. "Now, 95 percent of my platoon agrees with me."
When American troops are willing to give critical interviews, and use their names rather than go off the record or anonymous, that means things are really bad - why, because these guys are going to get in real trouble for speaking out. Too bad their bosses don't have the same courage. Read the rest of this post...

A soldier in Iraq asks in despair: Why are we here?

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He's a member of the famed 82nd Airborne. Read the essay he just published. Then ask yourself why we have an increasing number of low-level soldiers willing to risk their careers by speaking out - and they are risking their careers, this guy is going to be in serious trouble - while his bosses, his commanders on the ground, his commanders at the Pentagon don't have the courage to say boo. Yes, a number of retired generals have spoken out about the war, but nobody active duty that I can recall. The arm-chair generals, with David Petraeus in the lead, don't want to risk their careers by telling Bush and the American people the truth about the situation in Iraq. While the troops these commanders are sending to their deaths for a lost cause suffer no such fear of the truth. It's an amazing contrast.

My name is Donald Hudson Jr. I have been serving our country’s military actively for the last three years. I am currently deployed to Baghdad on Forward Operating Base Loyalty, where I have been for the last four and a half months.

I came here as part of the first wave of this so called "troop surge", but so far it has effectively done nothing to quell insurgent violence. I have seen the rise in violence between the Sunni and Shiite. This country is in the middle of a civil war that has been on going since the seventh century.

Why are we here when this country still to date does not want us here? Why does our president’s personal agenda consume him so much, that he can not pay attention to what is really going on here?

....I would just like to know what is the true reason we are here? This country poses no threat to our own. So why must we waste the lives of good men on a country that does not give a damn about itself? Most of my friends here share my views, but do not have the courage to say anything.
I omitted the portion about him watching his roommate die in flames - read the entire piece. Read the rest of this post...

The appropriate response to GOP candidates when they use "Bush-style fear-mongering"

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On Memorial Day 2007, it's well-established that George Bush led us into war based on lies. Bush, Cheney and Rove used terrorism and war for political advantage to win elections in 2002 and 2004. Politics was always more important than policy for the Bush team. The current crop of GOP candidates for President are using Bush's political scare tactics -- invoking Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. Paul Krugman explains what should be the appropriate response:
The truth is that the nightmare of the Bush years won’t really be over until politicians are convinced that voters will punish, not reward, Bush-style fear-mongering. And that hasn’t happened yet.

Here’s the way it ought to be: When Rudy Giuliani says that Iran, which had nothing to do with 9/11, is part of a “movement” that “has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us,” he should be treated as a lunatic.

When Mitt Romney says that a coalition of “Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda” wants to “bring down the West,” he should be ridiculed for his ignorance.

And when John McCain says that Osama, who isn’t in Iraq, will “follow us home” if we leave, he should be laughed at.

But they aren’t, at least not yet. And until belligerent, uninformed posturing starts being treated with the contempt it deserves, men who know nothing of the cost of war will keep sending other people’s children to graves at Arlington.
Every time the GOP candidates invoke Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, they are also highlighting Bush's failure to defeat the actual enemy who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001. And, they must be held accountable for the reality that Bush's Iraq war has created a terror training ground in Iraq. Read the rest of this post...

Monday Morning Open Thread

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Memorial Day, 2007. Read the rest of this post...

Wolfowitz blames the media for his problems

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Uh huh. It's always the media, isn't it? Does anyone from the GOP ever accept responsibility, ever, for anything?
"I'm pleased that finally the board did accept that I acted in good faith and acted ethically," he said.

"I accept the fact that by the time we got around to that, emotions here were so overheated that I don't think I could have accomplished what I wanted to accomplish for the people I really care about."

He denied suggestions that lingering personal antipathy against him had contributed to his decision to leave.

"I think it tells us more about the media than about the bank and I'll leave it at that.

"People were reacting to a whole string of inaccurate statements and by the time we got to anything approximating accuracy the passions were around the bend."
Read the rest of this post...

DHS shows virtually no "terrorism" connection

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Despite its original mission created after 9/11 and repeatedly being told this is the mission by Bush, DHS has very little to show in terms of actual links to terrorism though it clearly has a very strong record of acting as an immigration service. Much like the "war on terror" there is quite a gap between words and actions.
Of the 814,073 people charged by DHS in immigration courts during the past three years, 12 faced charges of terrorism, TRAC said.

Those 12 cases represent 0.0015 percent of the total number of cases filed.

"The DHS claims it is focused on terrorism. Well that's just not true," said David Burnham, a TRAC spokesman. "Either there's no terrorism, or they're terrible at catching them. Either way it's bad for all of us."

The TRAC analysis also found that DHS filed a minuscule number of what are called "national security" charges against people in the immigration courts. The report stated that 114, or 0.014 percent of the total of roughly 800,000 individuals charged were charged with national security violations.

TRAC reported more than 85 percent of the charges involved more common immigration violations such as not having a valid immigrant visa, overstaying a student visa or entering the United States without an inspection.
Read the rest of this post...

Two US soldiers killed in Iraq

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And so it continues. Read the rest of this post...

Bush created a terrorist training ground in Iraq

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Bush's war in Iraq has become the terror training and recruiting ground he's always claiming he's going to prevent. Terrorists trained in Iraq are now starting to take their fight to other parts of the world based on a report in Monday's NY Times. This happened on Bush's watch in Bush's war:
In an April 17 report written for the United States government, Dennis Pluchinsky, a former senior intelligence analyst at the State Department, said battle-hardened militants from Iraq posed a greater threat to the West than extremists who trained in Afghanistan because Iraq had become a laboratory for urban guerrilla tactics.

“There are some operational parallels between the urban terrorist activity in Iraq and the urban environments in Europe and the United States,” Mr. Pluchinsky wrote. “More relevant terrorist skills are transferable from Iraq to Europe than from Afghanistan to Europe,” he went on, citing the use of safe houses, surveillance, bomb making and mortars.

A top American military official who tracks terrorism in Iraq and the surrounding region, and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic, said: “Do I think in the future the jihad will be fueled from the battlefield of Iraq? Yes. More so than the battlefield of Afghanistan.”

Militants in Iraq are turning out instructional videos and electronic newsletters on the Internet that lay out their playbook for a startling array of techniques, from encryption to booby-trapped bombs to surface-to-air missiles, and those manuals are circulating freely in cyberspace.
Heckuva job, Bush. Heckuva legacy. And, for the record, this didn't happen when Saddam Hussein controlled Iraq. This happened when George Bush controlled Iraq.

Bush and Cheney, who claim they're fighting terrorists, never caught Osama Bin Laden who did attack us. Instead, they've been the best recruiters for Bin Laden's cause. Read the rest of this post...

Peruse some initial results from our blog reader survey

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You can check out some of the initial results from our reader survey here. 8,355 people answered the survey, though I don't have the breakdown of how many answered each question (some may have skipped some questions). Also, if you hover your mouse over the charts and/or labels on the charts, you'll see the actual percentage for each data group (e.g., men vs women, Ford vs Toyota owners, etc.) This is just a sample, we have much more than this, some of it still being tabulated. Read the rest of this post...

Associated Press prints false Cheney claims unchallenged

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They don't call them the Associated Pravda for nothing. AP has become a shell of its former self. They used to do journalism. Now they're little more than stenographers, reprinting any assertion, however outlandish, from the Bush administration as fact.

For example:
"We're fighting a war over there because the enemy attacked us first," Cheney said.
Iraq had nothing to with September 11. Why did AP fail to mention that?
The terrorism fight now centers on Iraq, the vice president said, because that is where the enemy has massed.
The war in Iraq started before the "enemy" was amassed there. Again, AP couldn't mention this?
He promised that the Army will have all the manpower, equipment and support it needs.
This, the same day we learn that the Bush administration refused to give our troops IED-proof vehicles because the Bushies were too cheap.

In AP's eyes, one assumes, it would be biased of them to challenge Cheney's lies. They see their job as the daily stenographers of the administration's latest tales. They are simply unable to look at any of their stories in a larger context, going so far as to contradict their own previous stories because to reference those previous stories, to note facts that prove the administration's latest assertions to be untrue, is somehow "biased." Yes, the truth is now "biased." So AP simply reprints the lies, unchallenged. Who needs FAX machines when we can read partisan press releases on AP. Read the rest of this post...

Iraq is a disaster

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Frank Rich via E&P
Iraqis are clamoring to get out of Iraq. Two million have fled so far and nearly two million more have been displaced within the country. (That’s a total of some 15 percent of the population.) Save the Children reported this month that Iraq’s child-survival rate is falling faster than any other nation’s. One Iraqi in eight is killed by illness or violence by the age of 5. Yet for all the words President Bush has lavished on Darfur and AIDS in Africa, there has been a deadly silence from him about what’s happening in the country he gave “God’s gift of freedom.”
Read the rest of this post...

US mercenaries in Iraq

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You don't hear much about them. But there's a shadow war going on, and they don't have to follow the rules. Read the rest of this post...

Sunday Talk Shows Open Thread

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So again this week looks like the main topics are Iraq and immigration. Of course, last week, we saw Bush get yet another blank check for the war he started, but won't end. We saw that Congress didn't hold Bush accountable, either.

Richardson gets his one-on-one with Russert. All in all, the shows look pretty low key this holiday weekend:
ABC's "This Week" — Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez; Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; former Gov. Jim Gilmore, R-Va.


CBS' "Face the Nation" — Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.


NBC's "Meet the Press" — Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M.


CNN's "Late Edition" — Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz; Reps. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.; Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.


"Fox News Sunday" — Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.; Sens. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.
As always, provide the comments and commentary. Read the rest of this post...

Who knew working at McDonald's was so stimulating?

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Brace yourself for the tidal wave of support from the masses who are unhappy with the current definition of "McJob" and want change now.
Figures including Sir Digby Jones, former head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and David Frost, director-general of the British Chamber of commerce, complained that the term was "insulting" and "out of touch".

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), seen as the definitive guide to the English language, describes a McJob as "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector."

But Jones, Frost and 13 others said in a letter to the Financial Times that the dictionary should change this "to reflect a job that is stimulating, rewarding and offers genuine opportunities for career progression."
Oh yes, I feel the anger on the streets, seething from this wrong that must be righted before it's too late. Thank goodness there is a "sir" managing this critical campaign, once again proving the value of this truly out of date, out of touch with reality and embarrassing system that should have been left behind a few centuries ago. Read the rest of this post...

Blair wants wartime powers for UK police

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Now where have we heard this kind of pitch before? No wonder the right wing extremists in the US love this guy.
The "stop and question" power would enable police to interrogate people about who they are, where they have been and where they were going, The Sunday Times said. Police would not need to suspect a crime had taken place.

If suspects failed to stop or refused to answer questions, they could be charged with a crime and fined, The Sunday Times said. Police already have the power to stop and search people but have no right to ask them their identity and movements.
This from the same guy who wants to track all vehicles in the UK via satellite and who had the police arrest an elderly member of his party (who dared to criticize The Poodle in front of others) and charge him under previous anti-terrorism laws. Hundreds of years of democracy, down the drain. Read the rest of this post...

More US troops expected to die in Iraq

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Americans have opened nearly 1,000 new graves to bury U.S. troops killed in
Iraq since Memorial Day a year ago. The figure is telling — and expected to rise in coming months....

By the end of Saturday at least 100 American troops had died in the first 26 days of May, an average of 3.85 deaths a day. At that pace, 119 troops will have died by the end of the month, the most since 137 soldiers were killed in November 2004, when U.S. troops were fighting insurgents in Fallujah.

As of Saturday, May 26, 2007, at least 3,451 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
This Memorial Day we remember the dead, and the politicians who killed them. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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We are a government of very dishonest men. Read the rest of this post...

In a blatant lie, Cheney tells West Point grads they'll have the equipment and supplies they need

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As John notes below, the Bush administration refused to provide IED-proof vehicles that troops in Iraq desperately wanted. Think Progress has the video of a last night's CBS News report on "the outrageous delay" in getting the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to Iraq. These types of stories about sending troops to the Iraq war without proper equipment have been pervasive. Yet, today, Dick Cheney had the audacity to assure the graduating class at West Point that he and George Bush would make sure they had "all the equipment, supplies, manpower, training and support" they needed for "victory."

Note to West Point grads: Just because Dick Cheney says something doesn't mean it's true. On this one, Cheney is lying not only to the new officers, but to all the current and future officers and soldiers -- and to all Americans:
Read the rest of this post...

In a war that Bush and Congress won't stop, eight more soldiers dead

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The death toll is mounting rapidly in Iraq. It's been getting worse, despite Bush's prediction that “It could be a bloody — it could be a very difficult August.” In August? How about April and May? How many deaths does the guy need before he thinks it's bloody and difficult. How many deaths before Bush and Congress stop the war?

The war is pretty fricking bloody and difficult now:
Five U.S. soldiers were killed in four separate attacks across Iraq on Thursday, most of them by roadside bombs, the U.S. military said on Friday.

The U.S. military also reported the death of another soldier on Tuesday in a roadside bomb attack near Tikrit, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad.

May is on track to be one of the bloodiest months for the U.S. military since the invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003, with more than 90 killed so far.

April was the worst month this year for the U.S. military, when 104 soldiers were killed.

The total death toll for the U.S. military since the invasion now stands at 3,440.
Apparently, George Bush isn't swayed by these deaths. Not bloody and difficult enough for him yet.

On this Memorial Day weekend, as we honor the war dead, let's not forget the words of Laura Bush from April 2007 that "no one suffers" more than George and Laura Bush watching the Iraq war. No one:
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Denmark, Norway, Finland and Canada are the lands of opportunity

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Remember when the US used to be that land? There is something seriously wrong in America if opportunity and mobility is better found elsewhere. It's also interesting to see that Old Europe offers more mobility, even with the social services being offered that don't exist in the US. CEOs in Europe tend to make considerably less than US CEOs (Big Oil CEOs in the US make around eight times the annual compensation of their European counterparts) and it's pretty obvious that European companies are holding their own in business.
While income is not the only measure of economic mobility, the findings challenge the historical presumption that each successive generation will be wealthier, said Morton.

“Today’s data suggest that during a 30-year period of economic expansion, a rising tide did not lift all boats,” Morton said in a release accompanying the report, “Economic Mobility: Is the American Dream Alive and Well?”

Of course, the men who run American companies don’t have too much to complain about. CEO pay increased to 262 times the average worker’s pay in 2005 from 35 times in 1978, according to the report’s analysis of Congressional Budget Office statistics.
Is the US really better off with this gross discrepancy? Read the rest of this post...

It's kind of hard to lose the debate with numbers like these

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According to a CBS News/New York Times poll, 76 percent of Americans believe the war is going somewhat or very badly for the United States and only 20 percent said Bush's recent troop increase is making a positive difference.
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Obama responds to McCain and Romney about Iraq

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1,106 IED deaths on Bush's head

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1,106 US troops died since the time they begged George Bush for IED-proof vehicles, vehicles that actually exist, and Bush ignored them because he didn't want to spend the money (or because he wanted to use the IEDs as an excuse for war with Iran?). Check out the chart of growing IED deaths, and check out how many occurred AFTER the troops begged Bush for the vehicles in February 2005 (shown in yellow). The total number in yellow is 1,106.

Some Memorial Day message for their families - Bush was too cheap to save your kid.

(click map to enlarge)

Map courtesy of Read the rest of this post...

Saturday Morning Open Thread

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Good morning.

Bob Geiger has a great collection of editorial cartoons this week. Seems no one is spared -- especially Bush.

The poem of the week is "Take the I Out" by Sharon Olds.

Enjoy the weekend, the cartoons and the poem.

Then, start threading the news. Read the rest of this post...

Bush thumbs nose at world on global warming

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Tony Blair strikes out again, proving the worthlessness of his "special relationship" with Bush just as he prepares to step down. Bush will never give an inch on global warming so it's up to responsible leaders in the US and around the world to isolate him and his 28% support and work around the guy. If states like Utah can start moving in this direction, the tide is turning.
The tone is blunt, with whole pages of the draft crossed out and even the mildest statements about confirming previous agreements rejected. "The proposals within the sections titled 'Fighting Climate Change' and 'Carbon Markets' are fundamentally incompatible with the President's approach to climate change," says another red-ink comment.

This is embarrassing for Mr Blair, who said on Thursday with some confidence that the US was moderating its position on climate change as the summit approached. Before visiting the White House this month, the prime minister suggested that he was close to persuading George Bush to accept the establishment of carbon trading schemes, one of five main proposals drawn up ahead of the G8. But Washington rejected the sections on carbon trading, saying to back trading schemes would imply acceptance of emission caps.

A diplomatic source said the German EU presidency and the US government appeared now so far apart it was hard to see how negotiators could reach anything other than a meaningless agreement in Heiligendamm in just under two weeks.
The G8 leaders should not give Bush anything at all unless he's willing to move forward and he's not interested in this. Any concession given to Bush will only be manipulated and rubbed in their noses, much like he did this past week on the Iraq spending bill. If this means no announcement, fine, but give him nothing. Concessions by others will be considered a victory for Bush. Read the rest of this post...

Detention of Suu Kyi extended in Myanmar

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Another sad day for human rights and democracy as the world community speaks against the continuing detention. Big Oil has to be happy though since their business won't be disrupted. Read the rest of this post...

US to China: Regulate your food or we will ask you again

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Considering the meek approach of the US to negotiating with China, why would they bother to listen? Because the Bush administration has so brilliantly failed to move China on their currency valuation and other trade issues, the US has little choice but to continue purchasing Chinese products, tainted or not, so to even suggest they are being firm is laughable. In the deeper drive for profit big business has left themselves with few alternatives and the FDA has expressed no interest in stepping up monitoring so this is it, like it or not.

Unless the FDA decides to get back in the business of monitoring - including large scale rejections of tainted products - the US consumer will remain on the front line of food safety. It would obviously be beneficial for everyone if China did a better job of delivering quality but realistically that will not change quickly and they are free to do what they want to do. This always comes back to the US companies who are purchasing this junk and the FDA who is too clueless to do anything about it because it was gutted by the GOP congress. Read the rest of this post...

Friday Orchid Blogging

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Paph Temptation - Part II

When we last left my Paph Temptation, it was just beginning to throw out a spike. Now, one week later, you can see the first flower opening up nicely, but still a ways to go. You can also see another three (I think four actually), flowers starting to slowly open. Eventually there should be five flowers open simultaneously, and it should be quite a site. Enjoy. Read the rest of this post...

Cliff's Corner

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The Week That Was 5/25/07

Another week. More preposterousness to report.

Thankfully, there was no Republican presidential debate this past week, giving John McCain time to plan his next casual stroll through what has become very unfamiliar territory, the Senate floor to actually cast a vote. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney openly pontificated his love of gayness, although ideally he'd like to outlaw it, and Rudy Giuliani had time to cleanse his intestines after the recent revelations of his role as a happy-go-lucky Oxycontin drug mule writ large.

But the rest of that crazy crew we've grown to love, the GOP, was up to their old tricks--not in a Randall Tobias kind of way--adding to the global warming problem with the methane shooting out of their pie holes. And sadly, many a Democrat joined them this week.

So what did we learn class? Well, that:

1) Being a Republican means you think gay marriage and abortion should be outlawed in South Dakota, but being a 49-year old playing doctor with your foster children somehow shouldn't qualify you to be a human shield in Najaf.

2) Being a Republican means you're allowed to be proud of your lesbian daughter's baby, and unlike everyone else who exercises the same rights you have, you'll actually be able to avoid the requisite warrantless wiretapping for moral crimes and subversion.

3) Being a Republican means you can look like Tanya Harding's trashier, theocratic twin, speak with the verbal dexterity of Jessica Simpson and possess the wisdom of a Bush twin post-Jagermeister body shots and still get to make decisions that impact the entire "Justice" Department.

4) Being a Republican means you get to vote in whatever precinct you want, because you're Ann Coulter, you didn't "abstain" with your friendly FBI agent and your Adam's Apple probably resides in another precinct anyhow.

5) Finally, being Republican and sadly in many cases a Democrat means you still choose to support a war and a befuddled lunatic in the White House whose combined approval ratings barely surpass those of David Koresh (let's face it, birds are publicly crapping on the President these days). But you do represent the will of the people, or just keep telling yourself that until primary season begins.

For more go to the usual spot, Read the rest of this post...

Bush was warned Iraq war would benefit Al Qaeda -- and it has

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Intelligence agencies, yes, U.S. government intelligence agencies, warned their boss, George Bush, that Iraq would embolden Al Qaeda and Iran. Of course, that's proven to be true. Funny, cause that's exactly what Bush is accusing his political opponents of doing now. Bush was so determined to go to war against Iraq, he was willing to sacrifice the safety of the country. And, that's what has happened.

The Associated Press reveals what Bush was warned about in 2003. Amazingly accurate. Figures Bush ignored it:
Among other conclusions, the analysts found:

- Establishing a stable democracy in Iraq would be a long, steep and probably turbulent challenge. They said that contributions could be made by 4 million Iraqi exiles and Iraq's impoverished, underemployed middle class. But they noted that opposition parties would need sustained economic, political and military support.

- Al-Qaida would see the invasion as a chance to accelerate its attacks, and the lines between al-Qaida and other terrorist groups "could become blurred." In a weak spot in the analysis, one paper said that the risk of terror attacks would spike after the invasion and slow over the next three to five years. However, the State Department recently found that attacks last year alone rose sharply.

- Groups in Iraq's deeply divided society would become violent, unless stopped by the occupying force. "Score settling would occur throughout Iraq between those associated with Saddam's regime and those who have suffered most under it," one report stated.

- Iraq's neighbors would jockey for influence and Iranian leaders would try to shape the post-Saddam era to demonstrate Tehran's importance in the region. The less Tehran felt threatened by U.S. actions, the analysts said, "the better the chance that they could cooperate in the postwar period."

- Postwar Iraq would face significant economic challenges, having few resources beyond oil. Analysts predicted that Iraq's large petroleum resources would make economic reconstruction easier, but they didn't anticipate that continued fighting and sabotage would drag down oil production.

- Military action to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction would not cause other governments in the region to give up such programs.
You know, every time Bush mentions Al Qaeda, it's actually an admission that he's failed to defeat the enemy that attacked us on his watch. Every time John McCain or any other Republican mentions Bin Laden or Al Qaeda, they are acknowledging that their President failed to defeat the enemey that attacked us on September 11th.

Clearly, Al Qaeda owes its on-going existence to the fact that Bush a) didn't finish the job in Afghanistan and b) started a war in Iraq that's emboldened and strengthened Al Qaeda.

A much more detailed analysis and a link to the full report can be found on the website of the Senate Democrats. Read the rest of this post...

Crazy McCain is at it again

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The man who laid out the red carpet for Al Qaeda to enter Iraq in the first place is now accusing us of enabling Al Qaeda. News flash, angry man: If it wasn't for you, Al Qaeda wouldn't even be in Iraq. And now you want to kill more US troops for a failed lie because you're not man enough (or sane enough) to admit the truth. It's over. You wanted this war, and you lost this war. It's on your increasingly disturbed head now. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread (and an anniversary)

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Just wanted to quickly note that his weekend marks my one year anniversary here at AMERICAblog.

Looking back at some of my initial posts, it’s sad how many of them are still applicable today. Iraq was a debacle then; it’s a debacle now – and for mostly the same reasons. U.S. foreign policy was a mess then; it's a mess now. Homeland security is overlooked a year ago; nothing has changed today.

As regular readers know, when I joined the blog I had just left the Department of Defense, where I was an Intelligence Officer working on Iraq. I departed because I felt I could no longer be part of a profoundly broken, politicized process (more on that in the coming months), and I wanted to be part of making things better, not worse. John was kind enough to take me on, taking a chance on me with one of the best, most popular blogs on the internets, and since then it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work in (and get to know) the various progressive communities.

Our readers welcomed me from the beginning, and I enjoy every day on this site as much as the first. I think I’ve been able to provide some commentary and insight that you can’t find anywhere else, and I certainly intend to keep it up. We have fantastic readers and an unparalleled team of contributors, and I look forward to my second year being even better than the first.

So . . . chat away! Read the rest of this post...

Bird craps on Bush during presser

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No crap.

Crap on left bicep (right side of screen).

Bush wipes it away.

ThinkProgress has the video. Read the rest of this post...

John Edwards on civil rights for gay and lesbian Americans

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Here is Edwards' response to the questionnaire from the Human Rights Campaign.

As an aside, and for the record, we've posted a good deal of updates from John Edwards of late - his statement of opposition to the Iraq supplemental, his call for rallying on Memorial Day for a US withdrawal from Iraq, and now his questionnaire about his commitment to civil rights. We've not posted very much at all from Hillary or Obama. Why? Quite simply because Edwards' is the only campaign that bothers to ever talk to us or send us anything, let alone anything of interest (it is a rare week that I don't receive three or four interesting things from the Edwards' people, like the questionnaire below - oh, and Edwards doesn't have us on some press list, a real person emails me only the interesting stuff).

In contrast, it's a rare week that we hear boo from Hillary's campaign - even after I defend her on TV, repeatedly, in the face of vicious GOP attacks, not a peep (though they did send us that "pick her song" thing the other week). Ironically, we reached out to one of Hillary's senior people a year ago. You see where it got us.

And Obama, my hometown Senator, is non-existent. If he's running for president, it's news to me.

We don't have a favorite yet for president. What we have is one candidate who is paying a hell of a lot of attention to the Netroots (Edwards immediately sent us his statement on the Iraq supplemental yesterday), and two others who don't seem to care what you think (not a word on what Hillary or Obama had to say about the supp). I think that's interesting. I hope you do too.

And without further ado, here are Edwards' answers to the gay civil rights questionnaire:
1. Currently, there is no federal law protecting individuals from job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Qualified, hardworking Americans can still be denied job opportunities, fired or otherwise be discriminated against just because of their sexual orientation in 33 states and because of their gender identity in 42 states As president, would you support and work for passage of a federal bill that would prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. Workers should be judged by the quality of their performance, not their sexual orientation or gender identity. While in the Senate, I cosponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I also believe that stronger enforcement is necessary to prevent employment discrimination by federal agencies.

2. Currently the federal hate crimes law does not protect all Americans from bias-motivated violence. Would you support federal legislation that adds sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to existing federal law giving authority to the federal government to investigate and prosecute violent crimes (H.R. 1592)? This authority already exists for crimes committed because of the victim's race, color, religion and national origin and because they were attempting to exercise a federally protected right.
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. Everyone is entitled to live in dignity without fear of violence. We should strengthen the ability of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute hate crimes based on race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity. While in the Senate, I cosponsored legislation to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.

3. New treatments have improved the quality of life for those living with HIV/AIDS, but those treatments are expensive, and not available to everyone who needs them. Years of flat-funding for the Ryan White Care Act has forced states across the country to institute waiting lists, limit formularies, and other cost containment measures. The CARE Act provides access to lifesaving treatment and care for over half a million low-income Americans with HIV/AIDS. Would you support increased funding for this critical program?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. There is an urgent need for more resources in the fight against HIV/AIDS. As a member of the U.S. Senate, I was proud to fight for greater funding for the battle against HIV/AIDS, and I co-sponsored the Ryan White CARE Act. As president, I will continue the fight for the funding that this program critically needs.

4. Would you support the Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA), S. 860, federal legislation that would allows states the option to provide Medicaid coverage to low-income, HIV positive Americans. Currently, only Americans that can be considered disabled are eligible for Medicaid coverage, excluding those who are HIV positive but have no symptoms of the disease?
X Support __Oppose


Would you support increased funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and research?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to grow in the United States and around the world. I support allowing states to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income, HIV-positive Americans and more funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and research. My plan to guarantee quality affordable health care for every man, woman and child in America will empower people to prevent, test, and treat HIV without fear of losing benefits if they change or lose their job.

5. Would you support the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act which would create a federal grant program to channel money to states that choose to teach comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education for America's students that includes science-based prevention methods?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. I support comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education for young people that includes information on both abstinence and contraception.

6. Currently, only Massachusetts recognizes equal marriage rights for same sex couples. Do you believe the civil institution of marriage (with absolutely no requirements imposed on religious institutions) should be made legally available to two committed adults of the same sex?
__Support X Oppose

If you do not believe that civil marriage for same-sex couples should be made available to same-sex couples on the same basis as opposite sex couples, is there any legal construct you do embrace that would extend legal recognition to same sex couples?

Comments :

If a state has taken the steps to recognize same sex couples and their families for purposes of state-based benefits, rights, privileges and responsibilities (such as marriage in Massachusetts and civil unions in Vermont and Connecticut), should the federal government recognize the state's legal recognition of such couples and families for purposes of federal benefits and tax treatment?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. I believe that couples in committed, long-term relationships should have the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities, whether they are straight couples or same-sex couples. I support civil unions to guarantee gay and lesbian couples the same rights as straight couples, including inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, equal pension and health care benefits, and all of the 1,100 other legal protections government affords married couples. I support the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act provision that prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex relationships. Gay marriage is an issue I feel internal conflict about and I continue to struggle with it. However, I believe the right president could lead the country toward consensus around equal rights and benefits for all couples in committed, long-term relationships.

7. According to a 2004 GAO report, over 1,100 benefits, rights and privileges are provided to married couples and their families in federal law that are not available to same-sex couples. Do you support extending federal benefits, rights, privileges and responsibilities to same-sex couples (and their children) provided the partnership meets certain federal standards of commitment and mutuality of interest?
X Support __Oppose


Specifically, do you support the expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover domestic partners and their children?
X Support __Oppose


Do you support modifying the Social Security System to pay survivor benefits to the same-sex partners of gay and lesbian people?
X Support __Oppose


Do you support fair and equal tax treatment of same sex couples on the same basis as married couples?
X Support __Oppose


8. Many gay and lesbian people serve in the federal government but do not receive the same health insurance and other employee benefits of married couples. Do you support domestic partner coverage for gay and lesbian employees of the civilian federal workforce?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. I support extending health care and other benefits to the committed gay and lesbian partners of federal employees.

9. While 47 states allow gay and lesbian people to adopt children, some legislators are pushing to prohibit capable, committed adults from adopting because of their sexual orientation. As president, would you support giving appropriate judicial authorities the full authority to make decisions on adoption based on the best interest of the child, without bans based solely on sexual orientation?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. I believe that gay and lesbian parents should be able to adopt children just like any other parents. There are over 120,000 children waiting for homes in our nation's foster care system. Adoption placements should be decided by judges and adoption agencies based upon the best interests of the children. Both members of a same-sex couple raising children together should be able to form a legal relationship with their children.

10. Would you support the Uniting American Families Act, which would enable an American citizen to petition for immigration sponsorship for a same-sex partner, and the INS would treat the relationships between opposite and same-sex couples in the same manner under the immigration code?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. I believe that all families should be treated in the same manner by our immigration laws.

11. Would you support a congressional repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy which would allow gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers the right to serve openly in the military as is currently the policy in nearly every NATO country (H.R. 1246)?
X Support __Oppose

Comments: Yes. I oppose the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays and lesbians serving in our military.
The military ought to treat all service members equally and in a way that promotes national security, without regard to their sexual orientation


The original PDF of Edwards' response to HRC's questionnaire is here.
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