Saturday, September 30, 2006



Tomorrow's Washington Post puts it in black and white-- something few knew and many suspected: Bush fired his well-liked, somewhat too independent minded non-neocon Secretary of State Colin Powell. Bush, always the coward, didn't have the guts to do it himself, of course, and had Andrew Card do the dirty work.

Powell says he had already told Bush he didn't want to stay for what he must have known would be a catastrophic second term. But things could have worked out between the most popular man in Bush's Cabinet and the Regime if Bush would have fired the most loathed man in his Cabinet: Donald Rumsfeld. But, of course, Cheney would never have allowed that. "Powell had constantly found himself on the losing side of regular ideological combat inside the Bush administration, particularly against Rumsfeld and the powerful vice president, Dick Cheney, over Iraq and a host of other foreign policy issues. Though Powell had scored some victories, the rumored humiliations had been real. He had been purposely cut out of major foreign policy decisions more than once, and his advice often had gone unheeded or been only grudgingly accepted by the president... Time and time again during the administration's bumpy first year, Powell had seen Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney intervene to nudge a willing Bush away from moderation and diplomacy, and toward a hard line on foreign policy issues from North Korea to the Middle East. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda on New York and Washington, their attention turned sharply toward Iraq, and by the following summer it was clear that the administration was headed toward war with Saddam Hussein."

Powell never believed any of the ridiculous lies within the Regime about Saddam having had anything at all to do with 9/11. The last straw for Powell was probably when he was ordered to read to the UN General Assembly the pile of manure put together by Irving "Scooter" Libby, Chalabi and Cheney to deceive the world. The Post story is basically the drama around that speech. It's a great piece of living history.



Lieberman has no real game plan to win in Connecticut except the Republican one: fear and smear. He has no ground operation to get out the vote and all he can depend on is that a large Republican turn-out for Governor Jodi Rell and the 3 rubber stamp congresscritters he was campaigning against 6 months ago, Nancy Johnson, Rob Simmons and Chris Shays, will accrue to him as well.

During the primary his infamous vicious campaign tactics manifested themselves through ceaseless bleating that Ned Lamont is a closet Republican. Now that Connecticut's Democratic voters have rendered their decision of what they think of Lieberman's use of typically Rovian projection strategy, he has gone from calling Ned a Republican to calling him a dangerous left winger. (He also tries to insinuate Ned is backed by terrorists, something that is patently absurd, especially in light of the revelations how the Bush-Lieberman policies in the Middle East turned the jihadist movement there from a minor annoyance to a gigantic actor on the international stage.)

Anyway, it turns out Ned is hardly the only one being smeared by Lieberman these days. Last week he was on a right wing website attacking Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Chris Dodd. I doubt there are any suckers left in Connecticut who think Lieberman has any intention of caucusing with the Democrats if he wins the election in November. He has completely thrown off his disguise and has come out as a full-fledged neocon Republican in all but word; that would come after the election. Today the latest victim of the Lieberman hate and smear messaging is General Wes Clark, an actual Democrat, one who has been all over America campaigning hard and convincingly for other real Democrats, like Jon Tester, Claire McCaskill, Harold Ford, Charlie Brown, Joe Sestak...

If you recall, when they were both running for president in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary, Lieberman turned a debate from fairly collegial to a knife-thrust towards Clark, challenging his loyalty to the Democratic Party. (In retrospect, a perfect tableau for Lieberman's sick, sick politics.) Now Lieberman has told the Journal Inquirer that General Clark is a partisan, name-calling Democrat. Lieberman can only make up his mind about one thing: everyone is wrong and he's right.

So what set off the volatile and desperate Joementum today? Like all reputable Democratic leaders, from Mark Warner, Russ Feingold, Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy to Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer and Al Gore, Wes Clark endorsed Ned. Did he call Joe names? Did his endorsement disparage the reprehensible Republican shill Lieberman has turned himself into? You judge:

"In Connecticut, Ned Lamont is running the type of campaign all Democrats can be proud of. Standing up to President Bush's failed policy in Iraq, dispensing with self-serving and wishy-washy notions of 'independence,' and pledging to invest in America's future, Ned Lamont is a candidate for Senate who I am proud to endorse."

And for that, Lieberman has gone on an hysterical tirade of name-calling and accusations. The man is clearly cracking. It's hard to believe anyone but hard-core Bush dead-enders still support him.

Quotes of the day: House leaders' problem isn't that Mark is gay, but that he's one of the GOP's countless predatory homophobic closet cases


(1) "Only now have I learned that Congressman Foley was not honest about his conduct."
--Rep. John Shimkus (R-Illinois, right), chairman of the House Page Board, which oversees the House pages, commenting on his "investigation" of information he's had for some 11 months, it appears, about inappropriate online communications between Florida Rep. Mark Foley and at least one House page

Not going too far out on a limb here, are we, Congressman?

(2)"Now it turns out that the chairman of the committee that's supposed to look out for the welfare of abused children well may be a child predator. This is a replay of the Jim West scenario in which Washington State's best known and most rabid Republican homophobe--one who actually made his whole miserable political career campaigning against gay men and women--was all along getting into positions of power so he could seduce underaged boys.
"Normal, uncloseted gay men don't do this. This is what scared, mentally deranged right-wing closet cases do."

--Howie, in his early DWT reporting yesterday on the breaking Foley scandal



Republican Speaker Denny Hastert, Republican Majority Leader John Boehner, John Shimkus and Tom Reynolds knew Foley was a dangerous predator with a penchant for young boys for at least 11 months. And all they did was cover it up. Now we need an independent investigation, not more coverup from Hastert and Boehner.

There may also be cause to at least question another Republican member of the House for his own seedy past with underage boys: Phil English of Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, there will be a Republican running for Congress in FL-16 this November: Mark Foley. According to Section 100.111(4)(a) of the Florida Elections Code, "a party committee gets to name a replacement for Representative Foley, but Foley's name still appears on the ballot. Votes for Foley are deemed votes for his replacement. Given Foley's association with scandal, this surely will work against Republicans: voters who are more likely to have heard about Foley's scandal (and would vote against him) than have heard about the arcane Florida election law allowing votes cast for Foley to be counted for his Republican replacement."

Since the Foley scandal broke and especially since it has leaked out that Hastert has been directing a cover-up. over $7,000 has been donated to the Blue America ActBlue page, much of it to the campaign of John Laesch, the progressive running against Hastert and a young man who was raised by missionary parents and understands the difference between exploitive campaign slogans about faith and values and real faith and values.


Chris Carney has demanded that Don Sherwood, another sexual predator, cancel his fundraisers with Republican cover-up leaders Hastert and Boehner. "Holding happy hour fundraisers with people who cover-up the cyber-molestation of children should be below even the questionable morals of Don Sherwood," said Carney campaign manager Andrew Eldredge-Martin. "Sherwood should immediately cancel his upcoming fundraisers with Hastert and Boehner. Don Sherwood has already brought Washington’s values back to the district, now he wants to bring a depraved cover-up home."


Today's South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which has long been aware that Foley is gay and running re-election campaigns on anti-gay messaging to religionist voters, but never spoke up about it, published a devastating story about the unbelieveable cover-up by the House Republican leadership. They quote Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, from a neighboring district, denouncing Hastert's complete and utterly shameful dereliction of duty.

"It's made more outrageous by the fact that Republican leaders knew about it a year ago and they kept it a secret, in order to protect their political lives instead of protecting the lives of pages," Wasserman Schultz said at a press conference at Palm Beach International Airport. She was flanked by former presidential candidate U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Tim Mahoney, the Democrat running for Foley's former Palm Beach County-based seat. Mahoney echoed her comments.

"The past 48 hours, people in the 16th District have been in the eye of a hurricane," said the Palm Beach Gardens businessman. "And it's now clear from all of the reports that have been coming in from across the country that the Republican leadership team has been well aware of this problem for well over a year."


Like I said earlier, the Republican leaders can't get their stories straight about who knew what when. Last night Boehner said Hastert knew and promised "to take care of it" and today Boehner seemed to change his story. Hastert reacts like an enraged mother elephant if anyone suggests he knew. Unfortunately for the Illinois Elephant, Tom Reynolds decided he's not taking the rap for this one. Already sinking in the polls in his own re-election campaign, Reynolds went on the record today to say Hastert knew all along.

"National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) issued a statement Saturday in which he said that he had informed Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) of allegations of improper contacts between then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and at least one former male page, contradicting earlier statements from Hastert. GOP sources said Reynolds told Hastert earlier in 2006, shortly after the February GOP leadership elections. Hastert's response to Reynolds' warning remains unclear. Hastert's staff insisted Friday night that he was not told of the Foley allegations and are scrambling to respond to Reynolds' statement."

Hastert is a real piece of work. He was, after all, the one who covered Tom DeLay's ass all these years-- remember he was a protege of DeLay's not the other way around-- even going so far as to fire the chairman of the House Ethics Committee, Joel Hefley, after the Committee gave DeLay a mild slap on the wrist, replacing him with a low-IQ bimbo shill, "Doc" Hastings. Even the right wing Chicago Tribune is asking why Hastert let Foley keep his child-protection job.


Loaded down with bribe money from Big Business, Foley has a leadership PAC he's used to buy affection from his Republican colleagues. Among the Republicans who are refusing to return the money that was given to them by the pedophile right winger are:

Vernon Buchanon (R-FL)
Geoff Davis (R-KY)
Jim Gerlach (R-PA), long rumored to be a "special friend" of Foley's
Nancy Johnson (R-CT)
Bob Ney (R-OH)
Deborah Pryce (R-OH)
Clay Shaw (R-FL)
Curt Weldon (R-PA)
Pete Sessions (R-TX)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Norm Coleman (R-MN)
Mel Martinez (R-FL)
Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL)
John Doolittle (R-CA)
Tom Feeney (R-FL)
Mike Ferguson (R-NJ)
Katherine Harris (R-FL)
John Thune (R-SD)
Mark Kennedy (R-MN)
Robin Hayes (R-NC)
Ric Keller (R-FL)
Tom Lathan (R-IA)
Mike Rogers (R-AL)
Rob Simmons (R-CT)
Heather Wilson (R-NM)

Why won't these Republicans give back the money? Whose side are they on-- ours or the child molesters'?


There's one Democrat on the Republican controlled board that oversees the pages, Dale Kildee (D-MI). The Republicans carefully kept him out of the loop on all charges involving Foley's inappropriate behavior towards the underaged male pages. Here's Congressman Kildee's statement:

As the Democratic Member of the House Page Board, any statement by Mr. Reynolds or anyone else that the House Page Board ever investigated Mr. Foley is completely untrue. I was never informed of the allegations about Mr. Foley's inappropriate communications with a House Page and I was never involved in any inquiry into this matter. The first and only meeting of the House Page Board on this matter occurred on Friday, September 29 at approximately 6 p.m., after the allegations about Mr. Foley had become public.

So, it looks like Dennis Hastert, Tom Reynolds, John Boehner and John Shimkus conspired to cover-up for Foley, who they knew was a dangerous predator actively seeking out children. We're talking about a powerful 52 year old congressman coming on to 16 year old, insecure, confused pages, young men extremely impressed with what a congressman is. And Hastert, Reynolds, Boehner and Shimkus decided to cover it up. These people have no shame and no decency. They should be tried as accessories to Foley's crimes.


Watch every endangered Republican incumbent turn Hastert into a gargantuan piñata. Tomorrow's New York Times signals the opening shots of a civil war inside the Republican House caucus.

Peter King, the Long Island Republican on the verge of losing his seat to Dave Mejias went crying to The Times that it was a "dark day" for Congress and demanding a full investigation of the cover-up. "Anyone who was involved in the chain of information should come forward and tell when they were told, what they were told and what they did with the information when they got it." No that wasn't Nancy Pelosi; it was the normally docile rubber stamp from Nassau County.

And the even more endangered Chris Shays went even further, claiming that if Hastert, Shimcus, Reynolds, or Boehner were aware of Foley's behavior and failed to take action they should step down. "If they knew or should have known the extent of this problem, they should not serve in leadership." John Sweeney is running around yelling "me too, me too."

While the GOP leaders, clearly nervous about their jobs and possible criminal liabilities, call, meaninglessly, for a criminal investigation of Foley, the pressure for a non-partisan investigation into what exactly Hastert, Boehner, Reynolds and Shimcus knew, when they knew it and why they covered it up, is building powerfully.

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Today at 2 PM (EST) Dr. Steven Porter, candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 3rd congressional district, will be the featured Blue America guest at Firedoglake. Please come and meet him and ask him any questions you'd like.

I've been having a difficult time figuring out exactly who Steve Porter is. I mean politically I have it all figured out: brilliant, progressive true believer, hard-headed idealist, dot-every-i-and-cross-evert-t idea man. But personally... well he was in a pop-rock band called Free Press long, long ago and he's written 18 books and he reminds me of my college friend Helen's father, the guy who helped me understand what it meant in the real world to be progressive.

The contest in PA-03 is a rematch of the 2004 race pitting a pretty pathetic rubber stamp nonentity, Phil English, against Steve. The district gave Bush 53% in 2004 and English beat Steve 60/40, after blanketing the district in mud, going so far as to have a Young Republican Club denounce Steve, a scholarly Jewish professor, as a Nazi and a supporter of forced sterilizations. PA-03 is the extreme northwest corner of Pennsylvania. Erie's the biggest city. It's about 40% rural and it's overwhelmingly white and considerably poorer than Pennsylvania in general. The district could hardly be more poorly represented.

In fact when I asked Steve to tell me why he felt English is unsuitable for his job, he talked for 30 minutes, eloquently and factually, without coming up for air. "Phil English is a lockstep supporter of the war in Iraq," he began, "and he has never questioned anything about the misuse of intelligence or the misappropriations of billions of dollars."

Like so many Republican incumbents English's "I support the troops" line is just a meaningless slogan and he regularly has voted against extending assistance to our fighting men and women. Because of the composition of the district English tries to pass himself off as a moderate, which is patently absurd if you look at his extremist voting record and notice his complete subservience to the bought-and-paid-for Big Business agenda. An F/zero from DMI's analysis of legislation meant to help the middle class barely even begins to tell the story about English's disgraceful career at the public trough.

"Whenever there's a critical vote that the Bush Administration needs," explained Steve, "Phil English is available for his arm to be twisted. He always complies. Three important examples: HR-1 (Medicare, Part D)." [This is particularly significant in PA-03 because in 2000 English claimed he would fight for cheaper drug imports from Canada and it helped him win re-election]... He was the deciding vote on CAFTA-- after promising the Erie Central Labor Council that he'd vote against it. [Previously the AFL-CIO has supported English, although this year they have endorsed Steven]... And he was one of the deciding votes on HR-2045, the Budget Reconciliation Bill, the bill that is trying to fund the deficit created by the war in Iraq and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans with cuts in funds for education, senior citizen housing, anti-drug school programs... It passed by 2 votes, 216-214."

But even with all that, Steve says the residents of the district have other things they are up in arms about. Out-sourcing of jobs has devastated PA-03 more than most districts and Alan Tomelson, author of Race To The Bottom, calls the district ground zero for the exportation of American jobs. "Phil English's votes on trade have cost-- according to the Department of Labor this district 9,700 jobs. "This guy has voted to give tax breaks to companies that outsource! He authored HR-767, euphemistically called the Homeland Investment Act, which allows American companies which have made profits overseas to bring the money back to the U.S. at a federal tax rate of 5.25%." If the companies had made the profit inside the U.S., the tax rate would be 35%. Obviously, this is a gigantic incentive for companies to ship business and jobs overseas.

Steve is well aware that English is a crook and a liar but he prefers to talk only about issues. The fact that English takes legal bribes from Big Business and then votes for the corporate agenda against the interests of his constituents is fair game. The fact that English has had more trips paid for by the taxpayers than almost any other member of Congress-- even more than the disgraced Bob Ney-- is fair game, as is his unbelievable taxpayer-funded dining bills-- more than what the next 10 big eaters charge the government combined-- is fair game. But even in light of yesterday's resignation of Mark Foley, Steve won't make an issue out of the widespread knowledge that there's a child predator scandal or two rattling around in English's closet.

Steve knows exactly what he wants to do when he gets to Washington. He has a plan for creating much needed jobs in NW Pennsylvania, revolving around wind power-- a Great Lakes Wind Farm-- and alternative energy. He is eager to get our troops out from "the middle of a civil war of our own making" in Iraq and is gung-ho on helping pass a Murtha-like solution. And he wants to put as much energy as he can into affordable health care. "On my first day on the job I would be the 73rd congressman to sign on as a co-sponsor to John Conyers' HR-676, American physicians' prescription to solve the health care crisis, which the Republicans have bottled up in committee, since their party is owned by the Insurance Industry, who have, not incidentally, given Phil English hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Steve talks about his idea for making Social Security permanently solvent, just by lifting the earnings cap so that every American, not just the middle class, pays in 6.2% of income. And his solution to our political mess is just as clear-minded: "We can end corruption in DC by electing people who refuse to take lobbyists money, who refuse to be bought by corporations and who support campaign finance reform based on public funding as in Maine and Arizona... The only way we're going to stop this is if we stop hiring the foxes who keep eating the chickens."

Like almost all the challengers we've met this year, the DCCC isn't paying attention to Steve and he's pushing on without them, running a grassroots campaign-- lots of lawn signs, unions halls, parades, civic clubs, senior citizens homes, colleges... Steve is a brilliant debater and he cut English to threads in 2004 and English is petrified to take him on one on one this year. There are 3 candidates forums coming up sponsored by non-partisan groups like AARP, CrimeWatch, the Butler County Chamber of Commerce, etc. It looks like Steve will be debating an empty chair (although there is a third party candidate, Tim Hagberg from the Constitution Party, even further to the right than English.

Media is pretty inexpensive in the district and I'm hoping we can buy Steve some 30-second cable TV spots in Erie today. The spots cost $26 each. If we can raise $2,600 amongst ourselves he'll have 100 targeted TV spots in the district's main population center. The Blue America ActBlue Page is open for business. I hope it will encourage you that today I have 20 autographed copies of the brilliant new book by Sidney Blumenthal, How Bush Rules-- Chronicles of a Radical Regime, one of the most important and best-written political books of the entire Bush era.

And as an extra treat, the first 5 people who contribute $250 or more will get a personally inscribed, autographed copy of Steve Porter's latest novel, Hannes Klar, which isn't even out in the U.S. yet. These are editions from the already sold-out first U.K. printing.

Friday, September 29, 2006



There comes a point in time when courage becomes the by word of the times. These are those times. I feel gratitude toward Mr. Clinton and Mr. Olbermann today as I left sift down through layers of my psyche the information that George Bush will soon have the blessing of Congress to label anyone he pleases an enemy combatant, and that once named so any rights you thought you had cease to exist.

I worry even more in an atmosphere charged with fear where the labels "Al Qaeda" and "Democrats" appear in the same sentence for Tony Snow and Dick Cheney, in an atmosphere where the pResident of the United States calls Democrats obstructionists. Since this administration has such a terrible track record in catching real terrorists it makes me wonder what other phony terrorists they will round up next.

To speak out now, it seems to me, is an act of courage. It is no longer a hobby or something we do as part of routine. At this moment in time, to speak is to immediately put oneself in danger in this our homeland, in this our beloved nation which has been sold to a pack of dogs who do not understand in any way the value of freedom and dignity, even though these are the words they use to sell us hatred and fear.

And, election year worries have made cowards of more than the Republicans as we note that several Senators in tough election race this year did the bidding of Karl Rove and George Bush, and they came down on the side of torture and loss of habeas corpus. Yes, courage everyone! Thanks, well done, you paragons of virtue and morality. Thanks for shaking in your shoes. When the record is read back to you, if and when we get the chance to retake the House and the Senate, what will your excuse be? "I was against the torture before I was for it?" It disgusts me that I have no option than to vote for a coward over a tyrant. We deserve better. Should the rest of us, the voting public also shake in our shoes at the mention of Karl Rove and the Swift Boaters? Role models are you?

I am tempted today to throw in the towel, to give up on our Democracy, to say to hell with you and your whining and your ineffectiveness. How easy to climb into apathy and just forget about the loss of freedoms for the masses. I am main stream enough to pass. But, I won’t.

But, what I will do today is dig deep, and come up with the courage to to believe there is still hope. Today, I will have courage since you legislators cannot seem to muster any. Today, I will keep on fighting to tell the truth, and to live it. And, even though I cannot muster any media support and I cannot make any laws and I cannot influence the powerful, I will continue to do my part. I will continue to call the little dictator what he is. I will continue to call for the strong to guard our freedom. I will continue to be brave and hope they knock on your door before they knock on mine.



It surprised me to read yesterday and today that closeted gay Florida homophobe, Mark Foley, was caught trying to pick up an underaged congressional page, a male, of course. Underaged boys have been more the domain of already-publicly-outed Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe (AZ), who is well-known in the Tucson gay community for his penchant for young latino boys. I don't know if Foley is a fan of U.K. alternative rockers, the Gang of 4 or not but, like them, he seems to love a man in a uniform. Not that he supports our troops-- he doesn't, at least not with his votes-- but he is famously known to be very fond of young men in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. He and disgraced/resigned Virginia Republican congressman Ed Schrock always shared a yen for butcher trade... or so everyone always thought.

So now it turns out that the Chairman of the committee that's supposed to look out for the welfare of abused children well may be a child predator. This is a replay of the Jim West scenario in which Washington State's best known and most rabid Republican homophobe-- one who actually made his whole miserable political career campaigning against gay men and women-- was all along getting into positions of power so he could seduce underaged boys.

Normal, uncloseted gay men don't do this. This is what scared, mentally-deranged right-wing closet cases do. I don't know what Pennsylvania congressman Phil English has been up to lately... but he has quite the colorful history of molesting young boys. But don't ask me what David Dreier does. Aside from grossly overpaying his husband/chief of "staff" and taking him on vacations to all the international gay hotspots-- at taxpayer expense-- I think he's more about collecting corporate cash than he is about preying on young boys.

Foley was denied the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in Florida because of his randy ways, the Republicans preferring a bribe taking, psychopath and sure loser to gay Foley. If you care to look at the actual e-mails between the 16 year old object of's (Foley's) amorous attentions, Raw Story printed the actual documents. CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is demanding that corrupt old Republican hack, Doc Hastings, Tom DeLay's handpicked shill on the House Ethics Committee investigate the child predator charges against Foley at once. The DCCC hack opposing Foley, a "former" Republican named Tim Mahoney, is also demanding an investigation.


CNN already reported that Foley is resigning. Associated Press seems less certain and only says he's "considering" resigning but that he would decide imminently. It's too late to replace him on the ballot, so this district will now be a Democratic pick-up. No one thought Mahoney would win.


It's now official. Foley has resigned... effective immediately. Apparently there are more, far more incriminating e-mails, that are floating around out there.


ABC News just posted this:

Maf54: Do I make you a little horny ?
Teen: A little.
Maf54: Cool.

This is only going to get worse.

About a week ago I interviewed one of the most exciting progressive candidates I've talked to in this cycle, Colorado's Angie Paccione who is running against another Republican hypocrite trying to scare "faith-and-values" voters into electing morally bankrupt right wingers, the odious Marilyn Musgrave. Angie's heart-felt spiritual values loom large in her consciousness. She's the real thing, someone who understands Jesus' message of love and embraces it. "I'm a born again, spirit-filled, evenagelical Christian," Angie told me, "one who believes in living it, not legislating it."

People who vote for Republicans like Musgrave, Bush and Foley need to dig a little deeper. Talk is cheap. Actions speak much louder. Foley's are preying on young people over whom he has a great deal of power. Musgrave's are all about preaching Hatred and Bigotry.

Action items: First-- my friend James L. has a brilliant idea to help Foley get right with himself again. Foley has almost $3 million dollars in campaign cash. he ought to donate it to an organization that cares for abused children. Otherwise it will go to an organization that abets abusers of children, the NRCC. And second-- today would be a great day for believers to kick the GOP habit and find a real faith and values candidate to help out. May I suggest Angie Paccione, Larry Kissell and Roger Sharpe?

If you want to see why Foley resigned within hours of the revelations-- and why he will soon be getting to re-ignite his relationship with Duke Cunningham-- read the raw IM log from ABC News (but only if you're 21 or older or if you have parental permission):

Jamie over at Crooks and Liars has the ABC-TV video and brings up an interesting point. All the pages were warned to keep away from Foley since it was widely known that he's a sexual predator. That's how they protected these kids? Karl Rove's party that runs for office every 2 years based on scaring church-goers that the gays are gonna get ya and they allow this kind of crap to go on inside their own party-- with children??

Oh and by the way, it's a federal offense to send dirty e-mails to a minor. He can't say he didn't know about the law. He wrote it!


Hastert and Boehner can't get their stories straight about who knew what when, although Boehner told today's Washington Post that he had learned this spring of some 'contact' between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and that Hastiest assured him 'we're taking care of it.'" This sounds like it revolves around the incident Rodney Alexander reported to Tom Reynolds and the GOP leadership when Foley tried to seduce a young page from his district.

When cornered by reporters Hastert gave a classic closing the barn door after the horses had all gotten away statement. Hastert has refused to comment on why, even after finding out that Foley had a diseased attitude towards children, he still allowed him to chair the House caucus on missing and exploited children

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Quote of the day: E. J. Dionne Jr. looks at the implications of Bill Clinton's refusal to stand by any longer while the Far Right rewrites history


"To this day I remain astonished at [Rush] Limbaugh's gall [writing in a 10/4/2001 WSJ op-ed piece, "If we're serious about avoiding past mistakes and improving national security, we can't duck some serious questions about Mr. Clinton's presidency"]--and at his shrewdness. Republicans were arguing simultaneously that it was treasonous finger-pointing to question what Bush did or failed to do to prevent the attacks, but patriotic to go after Clinton. Thus did they build up a mythology that cast Bush as the tough hero in confronting the terrorist threat and Clinton as the shirker. Bad history. Smart politics."
--E. J. Dionne Jr., in his Washington Post column today, "Why Bill Clinton Pushed Back"

After reviewing the familiar history of the post-9/11 period, when the country, including most Democrats, was in a mood for bipartisanship, and the Bush administration instead pursued a campaign of extremist ideological partisanship as savage, ruthless, uncompomising and dishonest as anything in the history of this country (well, that's my characterization, not his), Dionne focuses on former President Clinton's now-famous TV confrontation Sunday with that pathetic, useless hack Chris Wallace:
My canvassing of Clinton insiders suggests two things about his outburst on "Fox News Sunday." First, he did not go into the studio knowing he would do it. There was, they say, a spontaneity to his anger. But, second, he had thought long and hard about comparisons between his record on terrorism and Bush's. He had his lines down pat from private musing about how he had been turned into a punching bag by the right. Something like this, one adviser said, was bound to happen eventually.

Sober, moderate opinion will say what sober, moderate opinion always says about an episode of this sort: Tut tut, Clinton looked unpresidential, we should worry about the future, not the past, blah, blah, blah.

But sober, moderate opinion was largely silent as the right wing slashed and distorted Clinton's record on terrorism. It largely stood by as the Bush administration tried to intimidate its own critics into silence. As a result, the day-to-day political conversation was tilted toward a distorted view of the past. All the sins of omission and commission were piled onto Clinton while Bush was cast as the nation's angelic avenger. And as conservatives understand, our view of the past greatly influences what we do in the present.

A genuinely sober and moderate view would recognize that it's time the scales of history were righted. Propagandistic accounts need to be challenged, systematically and consistently. The debate needed a very hard shove. Clinton delivered it.

And it appears that the former president's shove may be having effects. Fox News itself has been surprisingly defensive, beginning with its hissy-fit ordering of the interview clip off of YouTube, and continuing with the retreat by Fox spokespeople to the position that it was "an overreaction" on the part of their Internet department. Even more entertaining is the latest psycho-Right response: accusing the former president of "feigning" anger. So his response would have been OK if he was really angry, but since he was only pretending, it's . . . uh . . . he was . . . er . . .

Hey, we only report this stuff. We don't try to explain it. (Well, we try sometimes, but we don't always succeed.)

ALSO TALKING--Roger Ailes sticks up for his "respectful reporter"

''If you can't sit there and answer a question from a professional, mild-mannered, respectful reporter like Chris Wallace, then the hatred for journalists is showing.''

--Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, in an interview with the Associated Press Wednesday

And of course who knows more about respect for journalism than the master of Fox News? (MediaMatters has a useful comment on the Ailes imbecilities.)

The next time anyone on Fox News is caught committing journalism, stuff the creature and send it to the Smithsonian.



When big corporations pour tens of millions of dollars into Republican and DLC congressional candidates annually, they are making a purchase. They're buying very specific support for a very specific agenda. Big Oil bribed Dirty Dick Pombo with over $200,000. That's a lot of money for a money grubbing pischer like Pombo. But in return the Chairman of the Resources Committee, was able to deliver millions of dollars in favors to Big Oil. Just north of Pomboland, John Doolittle is at least as corrupt and Big Oil bought his ass for over $120,000 to get him to vote against proposals o restrict price gouging (among other things on Big Oil's legislative agenda). Both of these crooked politicians also took tremendous bribes from Big Pharma and both expressed their appreciation by supporting the Big Pharma-written Medicare Bill. Do you think senior citizens in Northern California appreciate John Doolittle and Dirty Dick Pombo shoving the doughnut hole down their throats? I just picked these two almost as random. Every single Republican congressman is on the take from Big Business. Big Oil and Big Pharma are two of the worst. Defense contractors have been bribing Republicans and making out like bandits, although several of the bandits are in prison and several more are headed that way. Buck McKeon is the Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee and while he oversaw the rise on student loan rates by 2.4% and cut federal student loan programs by a staggering $12.7 billion, the very people who stand to benefit most from these policies, student loan vendors, were shoving over a quarter million dollars in bribes up McKeon's ass.

DLC Democrats are exactly as corrupt as Republicans. They just haven't had as much to offer lately. Just wait. But that's another story, one I follow avidly. But what about non-DLC Democrats, the ones who don't believe in selling votes for legalized (and otherwise) bribes? Well, those are our guys. And when I interview candidates I always ask them if they support substantive campaign finance reform. I had a great talk with Sherrod Brown a few weeks ago on the subject. I was very proud to support a man who could assure me that he never sells his vote. Period. I believed him them. And I believe him now. I donated some money to his campaign and urged my friends and DWT readers to do likewise.

So, at least on one level, Brown's out-of-character vote for Bush's Torture Bill shouldn't have shocked me. Our donations weren't buying Brown's votes, not even on this crucial a matter. By donating to his campaign-- and encouraging others to do the same-- I was making a gamble, based on a long and solid record, that we would be helping to elected a good Senator who would make the right decisions.

By voting the same way as Mike Dewine, Bill Frist, Trent Lott, Felix Macacawitz, Rick Santorum, Denny Hastert, Roy Blunt and Mean Jean Schmidt, Brown made a big mistake. He doesn't think so. Below you'll find Brown's rationale for his vote. Tom Curry's defense of him at MSNBC fell pretty flat to my ears. "Unlike Mike Dewine," Curry quotes him as saying, "I'm willing to stand up to my party when they're wrong." God... has Lieberman been mentoring him too? Anyway, I want to explain why I'm not writing any more checks to Brown's campaign and why I'm not asking anyone else to do any more than to vote for him on election day-- even if it means holding their noses when they pull the lever, or whatever you do these days with that Diebold crap.

A few days ago I was looking at Brown's 10 point lead over Bush rubber stamp Mike Dewine and I was writing how after January Sherrod and Russ Feingold would be able to help deprogram Obama from all that mentoring Lieberman had filled him with. I imagined the three of them could be a real "can-do" spearhead of progressive values aimed right at the heart of the U.S. Senate.

To tell you the truth, I still hope Congressman Brown wins his Senate race against Dewine. Brown has a better-than-excellent record and he has been an important leader on fair trade and other crucial issues. But, as I explained to his campaign today, we don't compromise on torture. Citing a crass, worthless, sell-out windbag like McCain as an excuse, doesn't make it any more palatable.

Yes, the House passed Bush's torture bill a couple days ago 253-168. And yes, all but 7 Republicans voted for torture. And all the Democrats except for 34 who decided they were Republicans when it comes to torture, voted NO. I basically don't care about fake Democrats who can almost always be counted on to support BushCheney in a pinch-- the John Barrows, Dan Borens, Tim Holdens, Stephanie Herseths, Chet Edwardses, Jim Marshalls, Henry Cuellars, Leonard Boswells, Gene Taylors, Collin Petersons (a fucking co-sponsor, the only Democrat who was willing to give the crooks a fig leaf of bipartisanship, of the doughnut hole Medicare Bill), Jim Mathesons, Harold Fords, Melissa Beans. I do, however, care about Sherrod Brown's vote.

I care for a number of reasons. I expect more, a lot more, from a leader like Brown, whose record has been so sterling and inspiring. But he's violated a core value-- Thou Shalt Not Torture Nor Tread On Habeus Corpus. No exceptions. Is Mike Dewine worse? Don't ask stupid questions. On his best day, Dewine will never be worth a bucket of spit and on his worst day-- 2 days ago-- Brown will always be better than the likes of Mike Dewine. But by voting with the pro-torture camp, basically Republicans and a few right wing or cowardly, unprincipled fake-Democrats, Brown took all the onus off Dewine to join Specter and a few others in the Senate to at least not wreck Habeus Corpus, an amendment that lost by 2 votes.

As Orcinus pointed out so eloquently today, it's important to remember who decides who is and who isn't liable to be tortured: George W. Bush. Sherrod Brown believes that's ok? I know he doesn't. He serves in the same body with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter who mentioned today that "No law enforcement agency ever came before Congress and said new wiretapping powers were needed to secure the homeland. And yet, this Republican Congress has taken it upon itself to roll over on some of our most basic constitutional rights so that the President can have even more power. Today, Republicans are poised to rubber stamp the Administration's latest efforts to legalize spying on American citizens. The Republican line is, trust us-- we're from the government. But after so many lies and distortions, why should we trust this Administration? It has sullied our reputation around the world as the torch-bearer of democracy by authorizing secret prisons, planting propaganda at home and abroad, and fighting attempts to ban torture. The last thing Congress should be granting it is more unchecked power." Trust George W. Bush? All Congressman Brown has to do is think about Iraq. Or think about New Orleans.

My Sherrod Brown/Russ Feingold fantasy is rich with irony considering how the two men handled the Bush Torture Bill. I printed out Feingold's Senate speech and tacked it up on my wall. I hope Congressman Brown reads it. Or maybe he could read what Senator Kerry says about the bill:
We've got to tell the truth about what's happening right now-- right now-- in our country. We must start treating our moral authority as a national treasure that doesn't limit our power but magnifies our influence. That seems obvious, but this Administration still doesn't get it. Still. Right now-- today-- they are trying to rush a bill through Congress that will fundamentally undermine our moral authority, put our troops at greater risk, and make our country less safe.

Let me be clear about something-- something that it seems few people are willing to say. This bill permits torture. It gives the President the discretion to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions. No matter how much well-intended United States Senators would like to believe otherwise, it gives an Administration that lobbied for torture just what it wanted.

The only guarantee we have that these provisions really will prohibit torture is the word of the President. But we have seen in Iraq the consequences of simply accepting the word of this Administration. No, we cannot just accept the word of this Administration that they will not engage in torture given that everything they've already done and said on this most basic question has already put our troops at greater risk and undermined the very moral authority needed to win the war on terror.

I contacted Congressman Brown's office early yesterday morning to let them know I was more than disappointed and that I had angry readers sending me e-mails and that I felt that I would probably not be an effective fundraiser for him any longer. They asked me to read a statement on his website:

Yesterday, Congressman Brown voted for a bill that creates a military tribunal to try those enemy combatants that have been held by the government since September 11, 2001.

This compromise is supported by Senator John McCain, a former POW who fought to ensure that this tribunal lives up to our national standards on human rights.

Unlike President Bush's plan, this compromise measure prohibits the degrading treatment of detainees and specifically lists the types of behaviors that are banned in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

The Washington Post wrote about the legislation, "The compromise legislation does not seek to narrow U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions in the treatment of prisoners, as Bush had hoped."

Those detained have been held for more than 5 years with no opportunity to prove their guilt or innocence.

It will provide that opportunity, so that those who are innocent can be set free and those who are guilty can be punished. 
The bill prohibits the use of cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment of detainees. Because that evidence is often unreliable, it will not admit evidence obtained through torture.

Detainees will be entitled to Combatant Status Review, where they may challenge their detention within the confines of the military tribunal system.
And the bill will allow combatants to receive an edited version of classified evidence being used to convict them so that they can respond without putting our national security at risk.

Congressman Brown feels it has taken far too long for a legal framework to be developed – for the innocent who must be freed, the guilty that must be punished, and our homeland which must be secured.

Sherrod is a very smart man, smarter than most members of Congress I've talked to. And he isn't a naive man either. And even if he didn't understand, his brilliant wife certainly does. If he honestly thinks Bush's Torture Bill is a good piece of legislation, that's even more problematic than just admitting, at least to himself, that he voted for it-- alone among progressives-- as a crass political calculation, although who exactly torture appeals to (at least among people who aren't positively wedded to Bush and Dewine) in beyond me. Does Brown believe in the same Republican pile of crap that Dewine believes in? I'm certain he doesn't. He has a long record of accomplishment that shows he doesn't. I wonder if he thinks anyone is going to fall for his spin. No one I know is.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006



Deep in your heart you think even Bush wouldn't dare attack Iran with nuclear weapons, right? Admit it. Paul Roberts, Chairman of the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing editor for National Review, and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Ronald Reagan-- think about c.v for a second-- seems quite certain that the Bush Regime has every intention of nuking Iran.

Wow, and I thought I was depressed about Sherrod Brown going over to the Dark Side yesterday! This is way worse. Roberts, a dyed-in-the-wool old line conservative loathes the neocon bumblers as much as we do. If you don't want to read his lengthy, well-thought out essay, let me give you the Cliff Notes version.

"The neoconservative Bush administration will attack Iran with tactical nuclear weapons, because it is the only way the neocons believe they can rescue their goal of U.S. (and Israeli) hegemony in the Middle East." Bush lost both the wars he started; the generals are screaming for more troops and there ain't done to send. Europe has told the despised Bush he's on his own. Remember that make-believe coalition-- "assembled with bribes, threats, and intimidation"-- of Fiji and Slovenia? Yeah, neither do they.

"Bush's defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel's defeat by Hezbollah in Lebanon have shown that the military firepower of the U.S. and Israeli armies, though effective against massed Arab armies, cannot defeat guerillas and insurgencies. The U.S. has battled in Iraq longer than it fought against Nazi Germany, and the situation in Iraq is out of control. The Taliban have regained half of Afghanistan. The king of Saudi Arabia has told Bush that the ground is shaking under his feet as unrest over the American/Israeli violence against Muslims builds to dangerous levels. Our Egyptian puppet sits atop 100 million Muslims who do not think that Egypt should be a lackey of U.S. hegemony. The king of Jordan understands that Israeli policy is to drive every Palestinian into Jordan."

Roberts thinks Bush doesn't have the brains to understand he fucked up and can only fathom escalation. "Neocons believe that a nuclear attack on Iran would have intimidating force throughout the Middle East and beyond." Neocons, who have been consistently wrong about everything are certain "Iran would not dare retaliate... against U.S. ships, U.S. troops in Iraq, or use their missiles against oil facilities in the Middle East." They want to show it is futile to resist the will of the Empire. According to Roberts, "Neocons say that even the most fanatical terrorists would realize the hopelessness of resisting U.S. hegemony. The vast multitude of Muslims would realize that they have no recourse but to accept their fate."

Roberts doesn't deal with the obvious, that little things about neocons always being wrong about everything and never ever ever being right. Instead, he points out that "revised U.S. war doctrine concludes that tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons cause relatively little 'collateral damage' or civilian deaths, while achieving a powerful intimidating effect on the enemy. The 'fear factor' disheartens the enemy and shortens the conflict." Sound familiar yet?

The likely results? end of the Nonproliferation Treaty, countries scurrying "pell-mell" in pursuit of nuclear weapons, possibly a Chinese/Russian alliance, U.S. being a complete pariah nation (instead of just Bush being a rogue, lame duck, pariah head of state). Roberts has a few things to say about the impotence of American opposition, the mania of the neocons and he ends interesting, for a lifelong establishment Republican:

"It is astounding that such dangerous fanatics have control of the U.S. government and have no organized opposition in American politics."



Many Americans are too insular and too terrorized-- history will be the judge, of course, but come on: 6 years of BushCheneyRove-- to give a rat's ass about what Congress approved. And, according to Friday's Washington Post all it was was "landmark changes to the nation's system of interrogating and prosecuting terrorism suspects... [and] preparing the ground for possible military trials for key al-Qaeda members under rules that critics say will draw stiff constitutional challenges."

I'm sure many Americans think the "stiff constitutional challenges" are all bullshit. In the Senate a mere 33 Democrats (out of 45) and a one non-extremist Republican (Chafee) stood up to Bush. Virtually the entire GOP rallied round Bush, who was probably more eager to find a campaign theme with which to lambaste Democrats-- remember the pictures of Max Cleland with Osama bin-Laden?-- than he is in torturing per se-- although he is interested in making sure he and his cronies don't wind up at War Crimes Tribunals someday.

I was listening to Air America last night and whoever was yammering mentioned some factoid which was so astounding I promptly forgot it, although the gist of it was that around a third of Americans have ever been in a bookstore and only around a half of our college graduates ever read a single book after college. So who cares about the Magna Carta or habeus corpus? Certainly not Republicans. Turns out most Democrats in the Senate and the vast majority in the House actually do.
Do Americans?

I guess we'll find out in November. The polling I've seen isn't good (on that issue). Many Americans do not seem to understand the basic premise of the Geneva Conventions: you don't torture our prisoners/we don't torture your prisoners-- and anyone who tortures anyone is beyond the pale. Some of our fellow citizens positively revel in the very idea of torturing "Muslim terrorists," not unlike all those Germans who thought torturing "Jewish terrorists" was A-OK. The Post called this "a victory for Bush and fellow Republicans a month before the Nov. 7 elections as their party tries to make anti-terrorism a signature campaign issue."

But, believe it or not, there's something even worse than Americans not understanding the Geneva Conventions. And that's not understanding the nature of fascism and how that relates to the Bush Regime. I doubt many Americans understand that trampling on centuries of habeus corpus sanctity could directly impact us. Not "Muslim terrorists": us. You trust The Decider to decide who's a good person and who's a bad person? I know you don't; if you did you wouldn't be at DWT, would you?

"Democrats resisted both measures and nearly amended the detainee bill to allow foreigners designated as enemy combatants to challenge their captivity by filing habeas corpus appeals with the federal courts. But Republicans held fast, gambling that Democrats will fail in their bid to convince voters that the GOP is sacrificing the nation's traditions of justice and fairness in the name of battling terrorists and winning elections." The Post makes it sound so quaint too... "traditions of justice and fairness." To someone who's never ever wandered into a bookstore?

Are we fuct? I don't think so. Well, we are in some ways. I mean this thing passed and even if some of it will be thrown out by even this Supreme Court, some of it probably won't. But I meant we're not necessarily screwed in November. Today's votes should further energize an already pissed-off Democratic base, without necessarily inspiring Republicans to go vote for a rubber stamp Congress that has delivered nothing but higher gas prices, more corruption than anyone has ever seen, a doughnut hole that means a lot more than any Magna Cartas, an endless war that has little public support and a general feeling in every single part of the country that America is not headed in the right direction.

We're not fuct, election-wise, because people don't like Bush anymore, positively hate Cheney and like the Repubican-led Congress even less. Instinctively people feel in their craws that Bush and his cronies can't be trusted... they're just not sure how to balance that with Bush's Reign of Terror.

We need to remind everyone we know that the Republicans are the Torture Party, which they are. People are already sick of them. It will sink in. Democrats who run away from this-- and that includes Sherrod Brown and Harold Ford-- are making a mistake. The voters are uneasy. They know Bush is lying to us and Iraq, about gas prices, about the economy, about virtually everything.



My friend Craig manages an interesting indie band, actually more an electro pop duo than a band per se. They're called Dangerous Muse and they've been building a loyal underground following in NYC for a couple years now. Another friend of mine and Craig's, Seymour Stein, saw them and was positively smitten. Now, Seymour knows his stuff. He discovered-- what a concept-- Madonna, Fleetwood Mac, The Ramones, Talking Heads, The Smiths, Depeche Mode... Seymour helped Dangerous Muse get out their first single, "The Rejection" and it went to #2 on the iTunes Dance Chart. The video went to #1 on the MTV Logo Channel's "Click List." Today the singer, Mike Furey and instrumentalist Tom Napack, gave Crooks and Liars an exclusive clip that demonstrates their support for equal rights in the GLBT community. Tomorrow it won't be exclusive anymore but there's a reason to go to Crooks and Liars today. There's a totally cool contest there that I'm helping John with: Be one of the first 5 to name every Republicrook in the clip and win an Indigo Girls Rarities CD. Any DWT reader should be able to win this in a snap.

The song is so infectious that after you hear it on the video at Crooks and Liars you'll want to hear it all the way through. And you can do that here.

It's a bonus quote of the day! The one thing missing from the Superdome Monday night was our Brownie--so what else is new?


"The Saints' triumphant return to the Superdome for Monday night's 23-3 victory over the Falcons drew an audience of 10.85 million households, ESPN's highest rating ever. Strangely, the audience was estimated at only 10,000 by FEMA officials."
--from Pete McEntegart's "The 10 Spot" on

And our own "Heckuva Job Brownie" was miffed that he wasn't invited to throw out the first ball Monday night--until he found out they don't do that in football.



Unless you live in Texas, it's not likely you've ever heard of State Rep Martha Wong or her Democratic challenger Ellen Cohen, CEO of the Houston Area Women's Center. They are contesting the Republican-gerrymadered 134th state house district in Houston (which includes Meyerland, South Braeswood, Bellaire, Montrose, West University Place and the Medical Center). Wong is on the defensive for several reasons-- not the least of which was that she was exposed by the Houston Chronicle as having kicked off the campaign season by blatantly lying in her first political ad.

Wong represents parts of Montrose, a largely gay neighborhood, but she abstained when it came to voting for the anti-gay constitutional amendment, pissing off both gay constituents and parts of the Republican base. She also voted for a typically Texas loony plan that forces abortion providers to actually lie to women and tell them abortion causes breast cancer. And, probably the thing that is most likely to cause her to lose her seat, she voted to cut hundreds of thousands of children from the Children's Health Insurance Program (HB 2292). She also blocked funding for a stem cell research facility in Houston's medical center.

This is Houston, not Waco or Amarillo. The district is not some socially conservative hellhole-- it was one of the few in Texas to vote against the anti-gay Prop 2-- and Bush's staggering disapproval ratings are thought to be pulling down local candidates in urban areas like this all over Texas.

After winning the primary, Wong has been desperately trying to run away from being identified with the right wing Republican Party. A really funny aspect of this is her campaign team running all over the district covering up the word "Republican" on her campaign signs with red tape. Her record-- not independent, pure Republican-- can't be covered up with the tape and no one in this affluent, educated district is fooled.

Texas' Burnt Orange Report has a great video about the latest krefufle in the bone-headed Wong's desperate bid to fool her constituents.

Quote of the day: Amid the yammering of nitwits like George Allen and Connie Burns, Bob Herbert listens in vain for the GOP's "voices of reason"


"Where are the voices of reason in the Republican Party--the nonbigoted voices? Why haven't we heard from them on this matter? . . .

"You don't hear President Bush or the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, or any other prominent Republicans blowing the whistle on the likes of George Allen and Conrad Burns because Republicans across the board, so-called moderates as well as conservatives, have benefited tremendously from the party's bigotry."

--Bob Herbert, in his NYT column today, "A Platform of Bigotry"

ALSO TALKING--NYT: "Our democracy is the big loser"

Here's the start and finish of today's NYT lead editorial, "Rushing Off a Cliff," about the disastrous "compromise" bill racing through Congress on the detention and prosecution of "terrorists":

Here's what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans' fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws--while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser. . .

We don't blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they'll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won't remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They'll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation's version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

- - - - - - - -

As usual, the full texts of both Bob Herbert's column and the NYT editorial will be appended in a comment.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006



Progressives and libertarians need to unite now to preserve our personal liberties in the face of renewed assaults by the Bush administration on our natural rights.

The latest example of the growing threat is the deal announced September 21 between the White House and three "rebel" Republican Senators over the interrogation and trial of detainees in the "War on Terror."

The fatal flaw in this compromise is that the legislation voids all habeas corpus rights for the detainees. If the bill passes, they will not be able to challenge the legality of their arrests in open court.

The proposed law would "legalize" the president's practice of declaring any foreign national anywhere on earth as an "enemy combatant" and then detaining that person indefinitely without any trial, without any evidence the detention is warranted.

Far worse, the White House has now added a provision to the Senate interrogations bill that would allow the government to detain U.S citizens as enemy combatants. The language is so vague that it may even apply to those who protest the war. By merely saying someone is a terrorist or else a supporter, the administration could toss that person into prison and throw away the key.

"Arbitrary imprisonments have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny," wrote Alexander Hamilton, the leading Federalist in the American Revolution. A darling of modern Republicans, Hamilton detested that King George III had declared the American colonies were not protected by England's Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 (based on the Magna Carta of 1215), which banned the same arbitrary power by the English king now being abused by the U.S. president.

As I asked in my book, Global Sense, an update of Thomas Paine's Common Sense, "Does labeling any group as evil "bad guys" give the government a right to treat them unfairly or to deny their natural rights?

When our leaders promise to 'hunt down the terrorists and kill them before they kill us,' are we willing to forfeit the presumption of innocence and to negate the right to a fair trial in open court?

"When people are secretly detained and tortured, are we willing to forego warrants based upon probable cause? Are we willing to forego habeas corpus, to let governments imprison people for years without charges, without bail, without an attorney, and without any real trial?
"We are told that the new 'homeland security laws' are temporary, but nowhere in any of the legislation since 9/11, including the Patriot Act, is there any guarantee that our civil rights one day will be fully restored. Why not? Is this because any secret police powers, once obtained, however obtained, are never willingly surrendered by the police?"

This is why I'm now calling for progressives, libertarians and genuine conservatives to unite our considerable forces in common cause to publicly declare that we are no longer willing to sacrifice our natural rights on the alter of homeland security, especially when that security is an illusion. (A recent National Intelligence Estimate, compiled from reports by 16 U.S. spy agencies, confirmed that the Bush administration's self-chosen war in Iraq has produced a greater threat of terrorism than before the invasion.

"Let all the kings wave their lies before the world like flags," I wrote in Global Sense, paraphrasing Paine. "Now is the time for humanity to throw off reliance on them, so we can live in peace. The misery of war ought to warn us against trusting any tyrant, whether in government or in our own unconscious minds."

And here we come down to the core issue. Too many of us tolerate abuses of power by Bush and others because of our culturally enshrined authority addiction. We dread accepting personal responsibility for making moral and ethical choices on our own. We dread standing up for what we know is right.

And yet a strong belief in our personal and social responsibility guides the activism of progressives and libertarians alike. Look at the loud outcry supporting habeas corpus, for example, at websites as diverse as,,, or All lovers of liberty duly feel appalled by the current trends toward despotism. 
To carry the point home, listen to Thomas Paine's own words: "Bring the doctrine of reconciliation [with arbitrary power] to the touch-stone of nature, and then tell me, whether you can hereafter love, honor, and faithfully serve the power that hath carried fire and sword into your land?"

Paine added, "Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavored to subdue us, is of all others the most improper to defend us. Conquest may be effected under the pretense of friendship; and ourselves, after a long and brave resistance, be at last cheated into slavery."

For world peace, I contend, "government by the consent of the governed" must move from abstract theory to concrete reality.

The sooner we have enough global sense to see how we're all inter-connected, the sooner we will govern ourselves sensibly. The sooner we let go of authority addiction as our path to security, the sooner we embrace the liberating power of mindful self rule and personal democracy, the faster our highest and best human potential may be fulfilled on earth.

Paine concluded, "Like all other truths discovered by necessity, it will appear clearer and stronger every day. First. Because it will come to that, one time or other. Secondly. Because the longer it is delayed, the harder it will be to accomplish."

Judah Freed is the author of Global Sense, an update of Thomas Paine's Common Sense to renew hope in these times that try our souls, voicing more than three decades of research and thought that unite personal growth and politics. A seasoned media and politics journalist, speaker and educator based in Colorado, his  publishing credits range from local newspapers like Westword, Rocky Mountain News  and The Denver Post to national magazines like The Sun, Cablevision, and Publishers Weekly. He's spoken on four continents so far about interactive media, literacy and men's liberations issues. Judah also is the host of the weekly public affairs radio program "Metro" on KGNU in Denver. For more information, please visit his website and blog at



As usual, I missed Ken's QOTD Committee conference call this morning. Last night when I was drifting off to sleep, John Stewart was having a throughly delightful interview with Pervez Musharaff-- a single individual who stands between a nuclear arsenal and a pack of bin-Ladens who no doubt would like to get their murderous, martyrdom-seeking hands on it. I noted with satisfaction that for all the boldfaced lies we're hearing from Bush and Frist and that pack of scoundrels about how the National Intelligence Estimate doesn't say what is says, Musharaff was frank and unhesitating in mentioning, when Stewart asked him if invading Iraq had made America safer, that "It has led certainly to more extremism and terrorism around the world," followed, after minimal prodding, "No, we're not."

I was thinking there was plenty of stuff for Ken and the Committee in the interview. But then the payoff came. I said to myself, "Self, should I put on the light and look around for a pen and some paper and write it down? Nah... Ken'll get it. Or, if he doesn't, John Amato will." Neither seems to have. It was the Hot Seat question, or whatever Stewart calls that thing at the end of the show. He asked the president of Pakistan if his ally, George W. Bush, were to run for the mayor of Karachi against Osama bin-Laden, who would win. "They would both lose miserably," said Musharaff, candidly and amiably. Of course, what else could he say?

Surf's up, let's go waterboarding! After we salute the moxie of Sens. Warner, Graham and McCain (Nikita Khrushchev would've understood)


Masters of "compromise": Bushstooge Rep. Duncan Hunter with Sens. John McCain and John Warner (and Sen. Lindsey Graham in back)

I keep wondering, wouldn't Chimpy the Prez and Dick the Veep and our Rummy speak more credibly about torture if they'd all been through a "full Guantanamo"?

So I was reading Howie's recent note on waterboarding earlier, and I kept thinking: Doesn't waterboarding always sound like something fun to try on a surfy beach?

So now I'm thinking, when it comes to all the torture fans with which this administration seems to be overstuffed, wouldn't it be appropriate--as well as fun--if each and every one of them had to undergo what I like to think of as "a full Guantanamo" before opening his piehole again on the subject.

I suppose, actually, I don't mean necessarily what's been going on at Guantanamo, althouth I'm not so sure that any limits on interrogation practices have been observed there either. But what I really have in mind is what we have reason to believe has been going on in our CIA "black hole" prisons, not to mention in the torture . . . er, interrogation chambers of the foreign intelligence services to which we've extremely renditioned prisoners we really wanted to have fun with . . . er, to give a hard time.

Not that our government owns up to having actually done, or sactioned, any really bad things, of course. We don't torture. Nuh-uh. And we have the word of such honest, upstanding citizens as Chimpy the Prez and AG Al "The Torture Guy" Gonzales.

At the same time, to judge by the great "compromise" hammered out between the warring Republican factions regarding the detention and trial of our detainees, even though the U.S. of A. would never do anything really naughty, it's apparently necesssary for us to: (1) trash the Geneva Conventions, (2) de-delegalize an assortment of things that we would never do (and that we can't specify anyway), and (3) immunize all our torture-mongerers . . . er, agents against all these naughty things that they, er, haven't done, ever. Honest!

Still and all, I might be more inclined to assign some seriousness to the views on torture of Chimpy the Prez and Dick the Veep and our Rummy if they could produce certificates showing that they'd been "given the works" by, say, one of Syria's Finest.

By the way, do you suppose those "heroic" senators--Warner, Graham and McCain--who forced the Administration to "compromise" on these great principles of military justice are feeling as to-the-core humiliated as they have every reason to be after the pathetic show of make-believe courage they just put on? Surely they must know that what they accomplished is a "compromise" that basically gives the deranged thugs running this administration everything they could have wanted. Do the heroic threesome know the depth of the shame they brought on themselves?

Well, maybe you can't really be ashamed if people are so stupid, they don't know you behaved shamefully, and think that you actually showed some guts. The result is sort of a giant bonfire in which we incinerate some of our bedrock principles, including some even more central to who we are than the Geneva Conventions.

If you think of the right of habeas corpus as just some abstraction or legal technicality, I urge you to read the really sensational piece Thom Hartmann posted a couple of days ago--explaining the principle, showing how deep it runs in our system of government (tracing back to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215), and documenting how rigorously it has been upheld in U.S. history.

Even in the cases when habeas corpus has been suspended, the suspension was done with appreciation of the gravity of the undertaking and with at least some respect for the principles and procedures set out in the Constitution. It was never questioned, for example, that suspending habeas corpus requires the permission of Congress.

Now along comes this band of terrorist thugs and psychopaths, who should be rotting in prison somewhere but instead derive apparently instead-of-sexual thrills by throwing their weight around as the most powerful men on the planet. They flick away our bedrock principles as if they were specks of feces, tightening their dictatorial grip in the name of "freedom."

Hartmann concludes his piece with a story too good to pass up:

When I was working in Russia some years ago, a friend in Kaliningrad told me a perhaps apocryphal story about Nikita Khrushchev, who, following Stalin's death, gave a speech to the Politburo denouncing Stalin's policies of imprisoning people without trial. A few minutes into Khrushchev's diatribe, somebody shouted out, "Why didn't you challenge him then, the way you are now?"

The room fell silent, as Khrushchev swept the audience with his eyes. "Who said that?" he asked in a reasoned voice. Silence.

"Who said that?" Khrushchev demanded angrily, leaning forward. Silence.

Pounding his fist on the podium to accent each word, he thundered, "Who - said - that?" Still no answer.

Finally, after a long and strained silence, the elected politicians in the room fearful to even cough, a corner of Khrushchev's mouth lifted into a smile.

"Now you know," he said with a chuckle, "why I did not speak up against Stalin when I sat where you now sit."

Apparently Senators Graham, Warner, and McCain have about as much spine as did the members of Khrushchev's Politburo. One wonders what sort of Stalin-like threats Bush made to get them to so completely compromise their principles and betray the trust of their country.



Today Blue America's featured live guest is Angie Paccione, a progressive candidate for Congress from Colorado's great plains. She'll be joining us at Firedoglake at 5:30 PM (EST, 3:30 PM in Colorado).

Last week I saw a very disturbing movie called Jesus Camp. You can read my reactions and thoughts at the link. But one thing I have been pondering ever since, was who the hell is bat-shit crazy enough to buy into this severe form of mass psychosis? My interview with Angie Paccione was a little later on Sunday than I had wanted it to be because she was at church. A lot of Americans go to church on Sundays and Angie descrbed herself to me as "a born again, spirit-filled, evenagelical Christian, one who believes in living it, not legislating it." I think most Christians who see Jesus Camp will be revolted by many of the scenes: like teaching little children to worship a cardboard cutout of George Bush or the scene defending indoctrination and brainwashing or the scene lamenting that American children don't love their religion as much as suicide bombers from other religions and are willing to die more readily for those who manipulate religion for political ends. I mean who could relate to this crap?

Marilyn Musgrave (CO-04) is considered to be one of the most fanatic, off-the-wall extremists in the entire spectrum of far right loons running around in Congress. She was even endorsed by the KKK! This weekend, the widely read Coloradoan published a pre-election profile of their district's congresswoman. "Protecting traditional marriage is the most important issue Americans face today, Rep. Marilyn Musgrave said Friday, as she called on social conservatives to support candidates like herself who oppose same-sex marriages. Speaking at the Family Research Council's 2006 Values Voter Summit, Musgrave, a Fort Morgan Republican, said she agrees with those who say legalized gay marriage would destroy religious freedoms... The Colorado District 4 House member is sponsoring legislation that would amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriages. Colorado Sen. Wayne Allard is pushing a similar bill in the Senate. Neither measure has won enough votes to go to the states for ratification."

The cult gathering at which she spoke seeks to recruit mostly feeble-minded people obsessed with a pseudo-religionist mania to work for Republican candidates. Musgrave "urged participants to get involved in politics and elect leaders who share their world view."

Angie Paccione is a normal American. She is secure in her faith and has no problem telling people in her conservative district that she supports marriage equality and, like most Americans, and like most Coloradoans, doesn't have the same set of priorities as Musgrave. "It's one more example of how out of touch she is with Colorado. Holy smokes, we're at war, we've lost nearly 3,000 people and thousands more are maimed. We have over 46 million Americans without health insurance. Weld County, one of her counties, led the country in mortgage foreclosures. You think they care about the federal marriage amendment? This is a fear campaign. [Same-sex marriage] is a civil issue. The churches can decide what they want to sanctify." Angie supports marriage equality and compares the discrimination faced by gay couples to the discrimination faced by her parents, one of whom is white and one of whom is black.

Angie has spent her entire life building bridges. An educator, former professional basketball player with a Ph.D, she is the much respected Chair of the Democratic Majority Caucus in the Colorado House of Representatives. She looks forward to joining the Congressional Black Caucus and providing the impetus necessary to push through the long-stalled New Homesetad Act, crucial to revitalize devastated rural communities like the ones that dot Colrado's 4th CD, the Great Plains part of the state.

Unlike most of the Democrats we've been talking with at Blue America, Angie feels her race overwhelmningly revolves around local issues. "It's not the national sentiment alone that the district is feeling. There's a unique and very specific 'Musgrave fatigue' factor. People are just tired of her; I hear it from farmers, from ranchers, from small businesspeople, from Republicans, Democrats, independents... they're tired of her ineffectiveness in Congress... People see how she has marginalized her effectiveness with her extremism."

And "extremism" is no exaggeration. Musgrave has the most far right voting record of any of Colorado's representatives and, in fact, except for two other fanatic maniacs, Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Cathy McMorris (R-WA), has the most reactionary voting record of any woman in Congress-- even worse than Mean Jean Schmidt!

Interestingly, Angie thinks the district would let Musgrave slide on the extremism if she could ever get anything constructive done in Congress. But she's failed... consistently. Picking a nasty public fight with GOP pork barrel king Don Young (R-AK) she was able to guarantee that her sprawling rural district got no help with much needed highway projects. And that was just in Musgrave's first term. While she spent virtually all her time obsessed with the private lives of gay Americans, Colorado's Eastern Plains have been in the midst of a catastrophic drought, a major calamity for ranchers and farmers. While Ken Salazar, the state's Democratic Senator was able to get the Republican-controlled Senate to pass a $4 billion agricultural relief bill, he watched helplessly as Musgrave badly bungled the whole thing in the House while the GOP leadership rejected it. Musgrave's hostile relationship with Speaker Hastert is probably what killed the relief effort.

"People here know how tied she is to special interests and they've become acutely aware that she isn't doing her job... 200 wells were shut down; that means no growing and no harvesting... and no health care premiums. I know how to fight for the people I represent," Angie told me, who, unlike Musgrave, has a legislative record of major accomplishment

And Musgrave's 2 terms haven't only meant health care problems for farmers and ranchers. She's another Republican who talks about supporting the troops but then screws them with her votes. "She voted against healthcare for national guard and reservists," Angie explained. "We have to hold these incumbents accountable when they say they support the troops and then vote against adequate armor and healthcare. Just wearing a yellow ribbon isn't what I call supporting the troops."

So can Angie win? In 2004, even before Musgrave fatigue had sunk in, Stan Matsunkaka came close. Angie has raised far more money than he did, over a million dollars, almost all of it from within Colorado-- and 85% of it from people donating less than $100. All the recent polls show a deadheat within the margin of error. "The code of the West, says Angie, "is 'live and let live,' not 'my way or the highway.'" She's an extraordinary candidate and she would be great for Colorado and great for America. She should all do our part at the Blue America ActBlue Page. First 20 donors today get a signed copy of the new book by Judah Freed, GLOBAL SENSE, of which Thom Hartman wrote: "Freed asked himself, what would Tom Paine write today? The result is a provocative, inspiring essay that offers fresh hope for liberty."