Thursday, May 31, 2007



left to right: Jerry Lewis, Ken Calvert, John Doolittle

If you're a regular DWT reader you already know we think the single most corrupt member of Congress is Jerry Lewis (R-CA). Between Ken and I, we've done dozens of stories on his criminality over the past couple of years but if you need to catch up, let me suggest this and this for starters.

Done? OK, now that you know who this character is, let me point out that Republican propagandist Robert Novak does a weekly right wing politics column for Human Events every week and this week he's reporting on the potential for upsets in California House races. Discounting the absurd wishful thinking of Republicans who are dreaming they can touch one of the most admired congressmen in the state, Jerry McNerney, Novak has figured out most of the GOP soft spots.

The most obvious one, of course, is Doolittle (CA-04) who has been written off by all observers, regardless of political affiliation as someone unlikely to ever win another election for anything, unless he moved to Utah. He barely kept his seat against political new-comer Charlie Brown last time and if there were another election today between the two, Doolittle would be lucky to break 40%. Novak points out that he's "being scrutinized by the Justice Department. Despite his firm protestations of innocence, there is no question that Republicans view him as a liability and do not want to lose his heavily GOP seat because of accusations of impropriety." Novak, however, doesn't mention that Republicans are already jumping in to challenge Doolittle in a primary if he does what no one at all thinks he will and runs again (IF he's not in prison by then). Today another Republican challenger, wingnut Eric Egland, said he will run against Doolittle.
Among those backing his entry into the race is Steve Schmidt, a former White House adviser to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney who ran Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2006 re-election campaign, and Cindy Sherrod, who chaired the Bush-Cheney re-election drive in Placer County in 2004.

"The Republican Party will lose that seat if John Doolittle is nominated," Schmidt said.

"That was the lesson of the 2006 election. Ethically tarred Republican congressmen will go down to defeat. And the situation for Doolittle has only deteriorated since the last election."

And speaking of ethically-tarred Republicans, Novak-- as well as the DCCC-- is looking at several in southern California as well. I'll get to Lewis in a moment. Novak has something to say about Republicrooks Ken Calvert and Gary Miller which is ridiculously optimistic and doesn't synch up with the blood in the water most observers in California clearly see. "Representatives Ken Calvert (R) and Gary Miller (R) are also facing ethical questions-- respectively over earmarks and a federal tax dispute-- but they are perceived to be in better shape than Lewis or Doolittle. Still, as the 2006 election cycle demonstrated, this can always change with little notice."

It doesn't take much to be in better shape than Doolittle and Lewis. Doolittle's papers have already been seized by the FBI and Lewis has already paid a high-powered Republican law firm over a million dollars to keep him from being indicted, efforts which are connected to not one, but two cases of U.S. Attorneys leaving office! But being not as bad off as Doolittle and Lewis is hardly a guarantee of political survival and the DCCC is eagerly looking for viable candidates for take on both Calvert and Miller.

But, of course, Lewis is the prime target. Novak broke some news today: Both on Capitol Hill and in California, Republicans say that Rep. Jerry Lewis (R) is unlikely to seek re-election.
Democrat Tim Prince says he will jump into the race if Lewis retires and far right extremist Bill Postmus, the San Bernardino County Assessor, is salivating at the idea of jumping into the race in the heavily Republican, extremely low-information district.

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Earlier today we reported on the dire response Republican candidates are getting in New Hampshire-- no volunteers, no contributions, no one to come to their boring events-- while Democratic candidates are generating lots of enthusiasm, excitement, donations, etc. Today's right-wing Moonie Times reports that New Hampshire isn't the only trouble spot for the thoroughly discredited Republican Party.

While a clearly psychotic Bush pounds on his chest and screeches embarrassingly that he's the boss, the Republican National Committee, hit by a grass-roots donors' rebellion over his immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors last week.
Faced with an estimated 40 percent fall-off in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff last week and told them they were out of work, effective immediately, the fired staffers told the [Moonie] Times...

There has been a sharp decline in contributions from RNC phone solicitations, another fired staffer said, reporting that many former donors flatly refuse to give more money to the national party if Mr. Bush and the Senate Republicans insist on supporting what these angry contributors call "amnesty" for illegal aliens.

"Everyone donor in 50 states we reached has been angry, especially in the last month and a half, and for 99 percent of them immigration is the No. 1 issue," said the former employee.

And one of the craziest of the wingnut bloggers, a kook who appropriately named himself or herself Hot Air paints a none-too-rosy picture for wingnuttia in Arizona, their ancestral home. "The illegal immigration fight is tearing the Arizona Republican Party apart, to the point that its members and staff wonder if it can even compete." GOP activists had already written off McCain as part of the problem and now they've added Jon Kyle to that garbage heap of disdain. With crooked Republican congressman Rick Renzi negotiating with the Feds for favorable plea bargaining terms, and with Democrats and independent moderates uniting around progressive Winslow Mayor Allan Affeldt, it looks like Republicans are about to lose a third House seat.

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Republican transsexual to take on far right nutcase in Florida?

Earlier today Sarasota, Florida city commissioners passed over the former Largo city manager in their search for a chief executive for their city. Steve Stanton-- now, after a successful operation, Susan Stanton-- came in third and was praised as "very committed, very attuned to the community" and "very qualified in regard to budget issues," according to Mayor Lou Ann Palmer. A Republican, Susan says she may run for Congress against Vern Buchanan, the far right extremist who was declared the winner after a highly irregular-- well, not highly irregular for Florida-- vote count.

In his few months in Congress, Buchanan-- another ethically challenged Republicrook looking to turn public office into a personal gold mine-- has managed to amass one of the most radical right voting records in the entire House-- even worse than the garden variety rubber stamp he promised to be.

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OK, the New Hampshire GOP has suffered some setbacks recently. Lots of them were caught stealing elections (for Sununu especially) and are rotting in prison now. Their corrupt and anti-democratic shrinking little party lost both chambers of the state legislature, both the state's congressional seats, and the Democrat got 72% of the vote in the gubernatorial race. Since then, the state has gotten even bluer. But even with that said, things are not looking well for the 10 (or 11 now?) little white dwarves running for president.

According to today's Boston Globe "Democratic presidential candidates are drawing bigger crowds, more donors, and more energy from the New Hampshire electorate than Republican hopefuls are, a sign to officials in both parties of a lack of enthusiasm for the current GOP field and a tired state Republican Party still reeling from a historic defeat in November." No one is going to their stultifyingly dull events and no one much cares what any of the Bush rubber stamps have to say. It seems all but over for the GOP and their Iraq psychosis.
But Democratic campaigns are reporting unprecedented turnouts at events at this stage of the campaign, as party activists seek to build on the gains they made last year.

Obama drew a crowd of more than 5,000 for a rally at Dartmouth College on Monday, a day after 1,200 people attended a standing-room-only meeting in a high school gym in Littleton, according to local news accounts.

"I could feel in '06 a tremendous momentum building," said US Representative Paul Hodes, Democrat of New Hampshire. "Now, there's a sense of historic opportunity" that is bringing hordes of people to Democratic events, he said.

Instead of struggling to attract voters to their events, both Clinton and Obama have had to actively limit attendance for certain meet-and-greet sessions, spokesmen for the two campaigns said.

The Democratic supporters appear to be more motivated than their GOP counterparts, judging from crowd turnouts and polling.

Even a Republican hack like defeated Congressman Charlie Bass admits that "the enthusiasm is definitely on the Democrats' side, still."

McCain, who wanted to razzle dazzle the whole world by making his campaign announcement in New Hampshire, where he's the most popular of the 11 unpopular Bush rubber stamps, instead of his home state, managed to draw only 350 people, most of whom were staffers and people passing by who were curious about the small crowd.

Maybe Sam Brownback's absurd explanation of why religionist superstition trumps science in his backward world view will make a difference-- at least in the bowels of the Old Confederacy. But, like Bownback's questioning of evolution and McCain agreeing with O'Reilly that old white men need to control things, the Republican Party-- and its pathetic lineup of would-be presidents-- is utterly out of step with the American people. Right-wing extremist judicial activists on the Supreme Court narrowly reiterated the Republican position that corporations' rights supersede Justice for individuals, a view shared by about even less Americans than the 15% who admire Dick Cheney.

It remains to be seen if Democrats understand who to make the public understand that there is a positive alternative to everything they distrust and dislike about Republicans. Of course with leaders like Rahm Emanuel, Steny Hoyer and the K Street Democrats barking like Republicans, voters can't be blamed for getting confused and throwing up (their hands).


Pam over at Pam's House Blend pointed out that that Democrat who won the 72% of his state's gubernatorial vote last year, John Lynch, just signed a civil unions bill. That means New Hampshire now legally recognizes marriage-like relationships between same-sex couples. The other states that recognize the humanity of gay men and women are California, Vermont, Maine, Washington, Connecticut and New Jersey. Next up, I believe: New York and Massachusetts. Funny how it's always the states who opposed slavery who are out front on this while the slave states are the ones pushing the hardest to discriminate against gays and lesbians (not to mention anyone else who doesn't adhere to their narrow stereotypes of acceptability).

And while forward-thinking Americans-- which, fortunately, means most Americans-- are trying to handle this evolution in a reasonable manner, the backward and mentally ill prefer... closets like Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Larry Craig (R-ID), lives lived in shame, molesting children like Mark Foley (R-FL). Today Cara DeGette did a really funny and insightful story about the upcoming book by Mike Jones, the gay prostitute who outed Republican religionist operative "Rev." Ted Haggard. Progressives deal with our gay and lesbian fellow citizens the way John Lynch did today, with compassion and brotherhood. Reactionaries turn out mentally ill people like Haggard, McConnell and Foley.

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The Big Question: did he get any shopping tips from Miss Lindsey?

Today's Chicago Tribune shows an unmistakable trend in Gallup polling this year: outside of a few dead-enders, Americans want the occupation of Iraq to be over.
If Americans had a direct say in the Oval Office, most would tell President Bush to focus on an exit strategy that removes U.S. forces from Iraq. Just one in four would suggest staying the course.

These are among the findings of a Gallup Poll that asked, ''If you could talk with President Bush for 15 minutes about the situation in Iraq, what would you, personally, advise him to do?''

"Bottom line,'' reports Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport: "The majority of Americans, as measured in a number of Gallup Poll surveys this year, believe the initial decision for the United States to become involved in Iraq was a mistake. Research also shows a majority of Americans favor a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that Americans-- if given the chance to talk with President Bush about Iraq-- would be most likely to tell him to figure out a way to get U.S. troops withdrawn from that country.''

Weird to look at this in light of Bush's babbling nonsense yesterday comparing the American occupation of Iraq and their civil war with the U.S. presence in South Korea. It's a shame there are no achievement tests-- you know, like they have in No Child Left Behind-- for people who want to run for president.

Someone who's given up on running for president, Joe Lieberman, but who is still working diligently to wreck any prospects for peace in the Middle East, is on a propaganda tour of Iraq now babbling incoherently about progress while American soldiers he meets there are telling him point blank that there is no progress. Lieberman, of course, didn't come to learn or to listen. He came for the backdrop so he could spout his ideological nonsense and then come back and run to Fox News with his on the ground experience.

And although no one rational thinks Iraq and Korea have much of anything in common, Bush's puppet Prime Minister of the Greed Zone seems to think he may be overthrown in a military coup. I guess he's hoping for Petraeus' stillborn surge to save his ass.
When the Bush administration decided to send tens of thousands of additional troops to Iraq, the strategy rested on an unspoken trade-off: U.S. troops would risk greater casualties to tamp down violence and buy the Baghdad government time to make the political compromises needed to reconcile the country's warring factions.

But a resurgence of sectarian violence and attacks on U.S. troops, coupled with little to no progress on crucial Iraqi political goals, is already spurring discussion about whether the current strategy can succeed.

In the near term, senior American military officials in Baghdad are wrestling with how to increase the effectiveness of the "surge" strategy between now and September, when Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, is supposed to give Washington a progress report. U.S. officials here and in Baghdad are also waging a parallel debate over how long the "surge" should last-- and whether the U.S. needs to begin planning for an alternative approach that would scale back both U.S. troop levels and American ambitions in Iraq...

In Washington, meanwhile, administration officials have begun to debate how much longer the surge should last and what comes after it. Senior military officials in Iraq have said they would like to see the higher troop levels sustained through early 2008.

But senior Bush administration officials worry that extending the buildup into next year could further turn the American public against the war. Pentagon officials and the White House are developing rough proposals to begin withdrawing tens of thousands of soldiers sometime next year as a way of defusing some of the public fury over the war and making it less of an issue in next year's presidential and congressional elections. White House officials caution that the efforts are preliminary and that President Bush has yet to sign off on them. One aide acknowledged that the White House has developed similar withdrawal plans in the past, only to abandon them when violence in Iraq continued to climb.

White House spokesman Tony Snow yesterday said Mr. Bush envisions an indefinite American military presence in Iraq that would resemble the one in South Korea, with the U.S. in a support role able to "react quickly to major challenges or crises." That presumes, though, that an Iraqi government would request or at least tolerate such a deployment, as the South Koreans have.

Hence the coup reports.

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Ben and Ted, Alaskans with crooked genes

I was in DC last week and some bloggers had a little get together. Turns out half the bloggers in DC live in this one giant building. It was cool. I was worried when people who were too drunk to walk straight said they were going home but then just got off the elevator at another floor instead of going to a car. But one guy who apparently didn't have too much to drink-- he sounded Australian but he's from Alaska-- told me this incredible story about corruption in Alaska. I wasn't sure what to make out of it. I mean, everbody knows that Don Young is one of the most corrupt sacks of sleaze in the whole Congress and that ex-Governor Frank Murkowski practically made Ernie Fletcher look almost honest, but this Australian Alaskan told me that virtually the whole GOP up there is drowning in bribery scams and graft. (He also turned me on to a wonderful book about Alaska... sort of, that I'm reading now: Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

So it shouldn't have surprised me one bit when today's Anchorage Daily News announced that the FBI is investigating that crazy old Senator Ted Stevens. And just like I was told, it runs in the family. The FBI is in the middle of a gigantic Alaska political corruption investigation that is believed could have almost half the elected Republicans in the state in prison! And in the center of the sleaze has been Senator Steven's son and once political heir, Ben, who accepted a quarter million dollar bribe from a GOP-connected oil industry company.
The wide-ranging federal inquiry surfaced in August when agents raided six legislative offices, including those of then-Senate President Ben Stevens, one of Ted Stevens' sons. The FBI said at the time that it also had executed a search warrant in Girdwood [Ted Steven's shady home extensively remodeled in return for political favors worth millions], among other places, although the location of that search has never been officially disclosed.

Veco, an oil-field service company that has long been a strong lobbying presence in Juneau, was one of the early targets of the agents, according to some of the search warrants that became public. On May 7, the company's longtime chief executive, Bill Allen, and a vice president, Rick Smith, pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy, bribery and tax charges. They are now cooperating with authorities.

The investigation spread to the commercial fishing industry, including Ben Stevens' consulting clients and associates. Federal subpoenas served on fishing companies in Seattle last year sought records concerning both Ben and Ted Stevens.

Four current or former Alaska state lawmakers have been indicted and are awaiting trial on corruption charges, and an Anchorage lobbyist has pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.

And just for the record it isn't just Stevens and his family that are taking massive bribes from VECO executives. Needless to say, Don Young has his snout in the pot, as does Lisa Murkowski (another scion, like Ben Stevens, where the Republicrookery runs in the family). And outside of Alaska it turns out VECO has been spreading around the lard to corrupt senators like John Ensign (R-NV), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Richard Burr (R-NC), David Vitter (R-LA), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Jim DeMint (R-SC), John Sununu (R-NH), John Thune (R-SD) and ex-Senator and major criminal still at large, Conrad Burns (R-MT). Oh, and Republican hopeful Mike McGavick.

It is widely thought that Stevens, the longest serving Republican in US Senate history, and suffering from an advanced stage of dimentia is unlikely to spend any time in prison no matter if he's found guilty or not. Or has he just been making believe he's more senile than John McCain and Pete Domenici combined? But even the Bush Regime-- sure to turn out to have been the most corrupt in American history-- claims that Stevens is so filthy that they can't allow him to get involved with picking the next U.S. Attorney for Alaska. He'll never notice-- as long as they let him build some more bridges.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tim Griffin, the grossest joke to surface so far in the still-unfolding Purge-Gate scandal, decides it's time for him to pursue other opportunities


"Griffin became the poster boy for the politicization of the U.S. attorney process. Former Justice official Kyle Sampson noted that getting Griffin into office 'was important to Harriet [Miers], Karl, et cetera.'”
--from ThinkProgress's report of the resignation of Rove-style campaign hatcheteer Tim Griffin as a U.S. attorney

The grossest embarrassment in the Purge-Gate U.S. attorney scandal is moving on. Friday will be the last day as U.S. attorney for the Eastern district of Arkansas for Tim Griffin, the Karl Rove protege who scammed his way into the job with absolutely no qualifications except a master's degree--the master in question being his mentor, Master Rove--in campaign slimery and election thievery. That and his apparent feeling that it would be just a swell job for him, and never mind that there was a widely admired and respected incumbent, Bud Cummins, occupying the office.

It's important to recall that Cummins wasn't fired as part of the famous Virgin List (of insufficiently Bush-sucky U.S. attorney appointees). In fact, beyond the Bush regime's general and enduring hatred for competence, nobody seems to know why Cummins was given the old heave-ho, except that the punk Griffin wanted his job. (At any rate, Deputy AG Paul McNulty testified that he didn't know of any reason apart from the wish of people in high places to install Master Karl's puppet in the job. There is plausible speculation that Master Rove wanted to install his Timmy in Arkansas to position him for a reelection challenge to Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor.) Thanks to the stealth insertion in the Patriot Act that gave the attorney general the power to replace a U.S. attorney indefinitely without Senate confirmation, Idiot Al "The Torture Guy" Gonzales could have slotted the Prince of Darkness himself into the job. Hell, he would have had better credentials for it.

Here's ThinkProgress's report of Timmy's departure:

Rove-Protege Tim Griffin Resigns As U.S. Attorney

The Arkansas Times reports that the controversial U.S. attorney in Arkansas, Tim Griffin, has resigned:

The U.S. Justice Department has notified Arkansas’s congressional delegation that Interim Eastern District U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin is resigning effective Friday, June 1.

Griffin, a former protege of Karl Rove, was formerly research director of the Republican National Committee. In 2004, BBC News published a report showing that Griffin led a “caging” scheme to suppress the votes of African-American servicemembers in Florida.

Griffin became the poster boy for the politicization of the U.S. attorney process. Former Justice official Kyle Sampson noted that getting Griffin into office “was important to Harriet [Miers], Karl, et cetera.” The traditional 120-day term for “interim” U.S. attorneys had expired for Griffin on April 20, yet the Justice Department continued to allow him to serve.

ThinkProgress earlier spoke with Rep. John Boozman’s (R-AR) office, which said that the congressman submitted names of replacements for Griffin to the White House on March 30. So far, no word from the Justice Department on the name of the new U.S. attorney.

In the meantime, assistant U.S. attorney Jane Duke will take over. The Justice Department had previously passed her over to install Griffin, using sexual discrimination as an excuse because Duke had been on maternity leave at the time.

Meanwhile Raw Story reports this comment from a spokesman for Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas), Michael Teague:
[Griffin's] departure from the U.S. Attorney Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas is a positive development, and the senator is looking forward to having credible leadership restored there.

Reports floated by the Wall Street Journal have the odious Griffin taking a top position in Fred Thompson's impending Republican presidential campaign. However, tonight on Countdown Alison Stewart asked political commentator Dana Milbank why Thompson would want to take on Griffin's weighty baggage, and Dana couldn't think of a good reason.

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Safeguard the American food supply? Support free-market-style competition? Who, the Bush regime? What are you, some kinda stinkin' Commie?


"The U.S. Department of Agriculture tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for [mad cow] disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. But Arkansas City-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.

"Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone tested its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive test, too."

Oops, I seem to have left out the opening paragraph of this news dispatch. That's right, comedy fans, it so happens that in this case the punch line comes first:

"The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease."

That's right, ladies and germs, the administration is going back to court to prevent a company that wants to bear the cost of testing all its cows from doing so, even after a U.S. district judge has ruled that the government has no authority to stop the company from using the very same test the Agriculture Dept. uses for that one percent of beef it tests.

I'm delighted to own up that I first heard about this delicious story via columnist Rick Perlstein, who seems to have been kind of dumbfounded by it. It falls right on his turf, since he's now devoting his major columnizing attention to food-supply issues.

It takes a lot to render our Rick speechless, and in the end this story didn't quite, but it came close:

E. coli conservatism (19): the ne plus ultra

By Rick Perlstein on May 30, 2007 - 2:33pm.

Offered without comment. What is there possibly to say?

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. But Arkansas City-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone tested its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive test, too.

A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. The ruling was to take effect Friday, but the Agriculture Department said Tuesday it would appeal -- effectively delaying the testing until the court challenge plays out.

Mad cow disease is linked to more than 150 human deaths worldwide, mostly in Britain.

There have been three cases of mad cow disease identified in cattle in the U.S. The first, in December 2003 in Washington state, was in a cow that had been imported from Canada. The second, in 2005, was in a Texas-born cow. The third was confirmed last year in an Alabama cow.

The Agriculture Department argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry. U.S. District Judge James Robertson noted that Creekstone sought to use the same test the government relies on and said the government didn't have the authority to restrict it.

Oh, all right. One small comment. First, observe the contempt for liberty. When E. coli conservatives say self-regulation is preferable to government, they're even lying about that. Second, observe the contempt for small business. When a small company want to - voluntarily! - hold its product to a higher standard, the government blocks it, in part because bigger companies have to be protected from the competition, in part because a theoretical threat to the bottom line (false positives) trumps protection against a deadly disease.

There's your conservatism, America: not extremism in defense of liberty. State socialism in defense of Mad Cow.

As a number of online commenters have already pointed out, so much for the mystical conservative faith in the omniscient guiding hand of the free market, not to mention the miraculous power of competition. If you have the kind of bucks to get the attention of the Bush regime ("Our Motto: Your Government for Sale, or Maybe Rent"), you don't have to worry about no stinkin' competition.

As for guarding the safety of the American food supply . . . uh, well, you're welcome to leave your name and number, and maybe your gov't will get back to you. And while you're waiting, would you like to make a modestly whopping contribution in support of the Republican agenda?


Either the Bush Regime wants to prove government is incapable of doing anything right, which is what Republicans always say, or they really and truly are the most incompetent bunch that have ever gotten their paws on the levers of power. It doesn't matter which is true; the case has been made to separate the GOP and the U.S. government for a good long time. Tomorrow's NY Times calls the F.D.A. "still unsettled"-- and they're not even going near anything to do with beef.
When Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach took over the Food and Drug Administration in 2005, the agency had a crisis over drug approvals that had missed or ignored dangerous side effects in Vioxx, antidepressants and other prominent medications.

Dr. von Eschenbach promised improvements, and agency officials said they would no longer be caught flatfooted on drug safety.

But this month, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study suggesting that a major diabetes pill, Avandia, might increase the risk of heart attacks.

Again, incompetent or... something worse? Congress will start investigating June 6. I hope they talk to Dr. Curt Furberg, a professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest and a co-author of the New England Journal of Medicine’s editorial on Avandia. He says the F.D.A. is broken and that "safety is just not a high priority for them."

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You'd be smiling just like John Yarmuth if you just found out your opponent was Erwin Roberts

This morning's Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Erwin Roberts announced that he'll be challenging freshman Congressman John Yarmuth. Every Democrat should be so lucky. (They should also be so conscientious and progressive as Yarmuth, by the way; he has the one of the half dozen best voting records of any of the newly elected members of the House.) This is one race I won't have to stress out about.

Is Roberts a serial pet rapist or an illegal gay alien or something? No, he's really bad news-- and on two counts. Peculiar to Kentucky, here's someone who has just announced he's running for high office after having been not just a member-- but a lynch pin in the heart of darkness of the single most corrupt state administration anywhere in America, that of indicted Governor and Republicrook Ernie Fletcher.
Roberts was Fletcher's personnel secretary when a whistleblower's complaint triggered an investigation into allegations that the administration had illegally awarded civil service jobs on the basis of politics rather than qualifications.

That investigation produced indictments of Fletcher and 14 known defendants, as well as 14 sealed indictments. Fletcher pardoned others, and the misdemeanor charges against him were dropped when he admitted to strong evidence of wrongdoing in his administration's hiring practices.

Roberts was identified by prosecutors as an un-indicted co-conspirator in one court filing. And he asserted his Fifth Amendment right in declining to testify before the grand jury.

What could be worse? Well... Roberts was one of the U.S. attorney types who did not get canned for refusing to politicize the Justice Department. In fact, looking at who was let go and who carried out Karl Rove's diktats that perverted justice, it's very clear which side of the line the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky is likely to have been on-- the same side as the crooked U.S. Attorney from Arkansas, Tim Griffin. The Arkansas Times announced that trash was finally thrown out "resigned" today. "Griffin, a former protege of Karl Rove, was formerly research director of the Republican National Committee. In 2004, BBC News published a report showing that Griffin led a "caging" scheme to suppress the votes of African-American servicemembers in Florida. He was the poster boy for the politicization of the U.S. attorney process.

Nothing to do with Kentucky or the crook who's running against Yarmuth-- at least not directly... so far-- but the Justice Department formally notified the Senate Judiciary Committee that it is expanding its probe of the firing of U.S. attorneys last year to include allegations of improper politicizing of hiring at the agency, including the actions of former senior official Monica Goodling. I guess they've had enough time to make sure all the incriminating evidence was disposed of. And, as I've said all along, investigating the circumstances of those-- like David Iglesias-- who were fired is important, but so is investigating the low-life criminals who were rated satisfactory by Rove to stay... like the fellow in Kentucky.

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In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey

My financial advisor was over today and we were going through my portfolio, especially focusing in on the "garbage that needs to be cleaned up," as she always so insensitively puts it. One big stack of "garbage" are the shares of TimeWarner I was forced to take in lieu of salary. When I was taking them they were rated at around $90/share. Today they closed higher than they've been in years-- $21.55/share. My losses on TimeWarner are greater than my overall net worth. I'm not looking for sympathy; I'm as happy as a clam. I did ask her how a big name company with so many big name assets could suck so bad. "Howie, you know the answer to that one better than most people do." And I do.

And one example-- one of many, many, many-- surfaced today: Glenn Beck's ratings on CNN. As TimeWarner-owned CNN attempts to follow Fox News down the toilet, there doesn't seem to be any bottom to Beck's ratings.
These are the numbers are for the 7pm hour. The first number is the 25-54 demographic, the second number is the total number of viewers.

Monday - 44,000 / 211,000
Tuesday - 141,000 / 302,000
Wednesday - 73,000 / 172,000
Thursday - 62,000 / 192,000
Friday - 43,000 / 123,000

Beck is a loser-- every other show beats his-- and it's not like he's on there for prestige like a tour of a museum or an orchestra performance. "A year ago, Glenn Beck was heralded as some sort of new talk show host that would revolutionize cable news. Instead, he is another in a long line of right wing radio talk show hosts who has failed in television. In fact, Glenn Beck's numbers for this week were LOWER then a year ago when he was just starting. A year's worth of programming, advertising, and everything else that CNN and Headline News has done to push Glenn Beck has not made a bit of difference. Beck's numbers are the lowest in cable news, and he shows no signs of improving any time soon. My question is how long will Headline News, CNN, and Time Warner continue to put up with Beck's low numbers?"

I begged my financial advisor not to make me sell my TimeWarner shares; it's the masochist in me. I like to revel in my bad decisions. But looking at Beck's numbers just now and thinking about the kind of management-- including one of the highest paid CEOs in America-- that makes these kinds of decisions, is making me reconsider.

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Bush has gotten some of the worst judges ever nominated for anything confimed and we'll be suffering the consequences for years to come, not just on the Supreme Court but throughout the judicial system. In terms of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, though, Bush's nominees have been so gratuitously unqualified and extremist that they have been unable to win confirmation. Even Republicans were choking on a radical right ideologue like Charles Pickering and when the Bush Regime moved to replace that dismal nomination with the even more bigoted Michael Wallace that flopped too. And it isn't getting any better. The latest nightrider nightmare that Bush is trying to foist on us is former Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge Leslie Southwick, a racist amd bigoted asshole every bit as unacceptable to normal Americans as Pickering and Wallace.

A couple weeks ago Judith Schaeffer sent up a warning flare at Huff Po, alerting the public to Southwick's homophobia and racism-- and the fact that he seems proud of both traits. Next week the Senate Judiciary Committee-- rushed into this by Miss McConnell's threats to tie up the Senate if some Bush appointees don't get confirmed fast-- takes up the case of Leslie Southwick and will decide whether or not to send this controversial nomination on to the full Senate, where he will be able to count on a handful of reactionary Democrats (and a reactionary ex-Democrat) to support Bush's goal of stuffing the courts full of pro-corporate, anti-civil rights judicial activists.

We can't let Democrats, now ostensibly in the majority, cave in and let us down on this one, the way they did on Alito and Roberts. As Ralph Neas of People For the American Way said today "regrettably, Southwick also has a troubling record and appears to be cut from the same cloth as [Pickering and Wallace]... Just like Pickering and Wallace before him, Southwick appears ready and willing to turn back the clock on fifty years of social justice progress in our nation. Southwick had an opportunity at his recent hearing to demonstrate a commitment to Americans’ individual rights and freedoms, but he proved that he still doesn’t get it. The Senate Judiciary Committee must reject Southwick’s confirmation.”

Two of the cases that best illustrate the danger of confirming a character like Southwick are these examples from the Mississippi Court of Appeals:

• In 1998, while on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, Southwick joined a ruling in an employment case that upheld the reinstatement, without any punishment whatsoever, of a white state employee who was fired for calling an African American co-worker a "good ole nigger." The court's decision effectively ratified a hearing officer's opinion that the slur was only "somewhat derogatory" and "was in effect calling the individual a 'teacher's pet.'" The Mississippi Supreme Court unanimously reversed the decision.

• In 2001, Southwick joined a ruling that upheld a chancellor's decision to take an eight-year-old girl away from her mother and award custody to the father, who had never married the mother, largely because the mother was living with another woman in a "lesbian home." Southwick went even further by joining a gratuitously anti-gay concurrence which extolled Mississippi's right under "the principles of Federalism" to treat "homosexual persons" as second-class citizens. The concurrence suggested that sexual orientation is a choice and stated that an adult is not "relieved of the consequences of his or her choice" -- e.g., losing custody of one's child.

The Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are all partisan hacks and can all be depended on to support Southwick even if he shows up at the hearings in a white sheet and pillowcase over his head. No need to waste any time contacting the likes of Tom Coburn, Sam Brownback, Jon Kyl, Charles Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Arlen Specter-- or any of the guys who use the same sheet and pillow case tailor as Southwick, John Cornyn, Lindsey Graham, and Jeff Sessions. On the Democratic side, however, it is crucial that the squishy members be told in no uncertain terms that they must stop this bigot from getting onto the Appeals Court. The Democrats on the committee are Patrick Leahy (VT), Ted Kennedy MA), Russ Feingold (WI), Dick Durbin (IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Chuck Schumer (NY), and Ben Cardin (MD) who can all probably be counted on to oppose the nomination. And then there are the possible problems: Joe Biden (DE), Herb Kohl (WI), and Dianne Feinstein (CA).

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Graham and Chambliss were booed at GOP conventions. They still love Goode though

Having just come back from at least 3 days in Washington I can report that there are definitely people Inside the Beltway who are convinced that Virgil Goode, Jr (R-VA) isn't as much of a racist, xenophobic and Know Nothing bigot as he portrays himself. Some say he's just trying to take the spotlight off the egregious corruption that is likely to land him in prison eventually. Others say, that, yes, he's one of the half dozen most corrupt members of Congress but that he actually is every bit as racist, xenophobic and bigoted as he comes off-- and is the very definition of a classic Know Nothing.

I'll come back to Rep. Goode in a moment. First let me address the leader of his party, someone who gets a lot more sophisticated advice-- both about how to steal money and how to play to the basest nature of the base. George "I believe in cheap labor" Bush "lashed out at critics within his own party Tuesday, accusing Republican opponents of distorting the immigration deal he negotiated with leading congressional Democrats and playing on the politics of fear to undermine public support. In stern tones normally reserved for the liberal opposition, Bush said conservatives fighting the immigration proposal 'haven't read the bill' and oppose it in some cases because 'it might make somebody else look good.' Their 'empty political rhetoric,' he said, threatens to thwart what he called the last, best chance to fix an immigration system that all sides agree is broken."

Bush spoke in Georgia, a state renowned for racism and xenophobia, a hotbed of the resurgence of a Know Nothing movement that has taken over CNN and the GOP. Last week Georgia's extreme right wing senator, Saxby Chamberpot, was booed at the state GOP convention when he tried defending Bush's immigration bill. According to the NY Times, "Bush's trip to Georgia opened a campaign intended to undercut the criticism that has consumed conservative talk shows and Web sites and to educate the public about a complicated bill."

It would be awesome to see Bush on with Lou Dobbs some time; like that will ever happen. Meanwhile right-wingers are pissed that the Greed and Selfishness wing of the GOP is calling out the Hatred and Bigotry wing.
"I don't think name-calling does any good at this point," said David A. Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union. "What they've done from the very beginning is say, 'This is the way we want it done, and anyone who disagrees with us is outside the mainstream.' . . . It's been badly handled. They'll be lucky, given the attitudes in the country, to come up with anything."

Brian Darling, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation, said he and his colleagues not only have read the bill but also have posted it on the think tank's Web site. "Most conservatives have very strong feelings that this bill contains amnesty . . . and no yelling and screaming by the administration is going to change our minds," he said.

As for the charge of scare tactics, Darling said: "Honestly, I really think people should be frightened. This bill would be the most dramatic change to immigration law in 40 years, and no one seems to understand what's in the bill. . . . The American people should be frightened by the closed-door process that was used and by the ramifications."

Now, back to Virgil Goode, Jr. Let's forget, for a moment all the bribes and corruption and his connections to all the worst elements of the GOP Culture of Corruption. Let's, for a moment, even forget the spectacle he made of his anti-Moslem bigotry when he challenged Congressman Keith Ellison's right to be sworn into Congress on a Koran instead of a Christian Bible. Goode has stopped, momentarily, bashing American Moslems so he could concentrate on those little flags in Mexican restaurants.

One of the local papers in his district, the Charlottesville Daily Progress did a piece yesterday about Goode's opposition to the Bush immigration bill. "'I'm opposed to it. It provides amnesty,'" Goode said on the same day that Bush declared the opposite... [And] he's riled by restaurants in his region that display a Mexican flag."
And in little towns in his district and across the line in North Carolina, "They've got a Mexican flag in these restaurants... They've got one on Main Street in Rocky Mount! They've got one on Tanyard Road in Rocky Mount!

"That riles me," he acknowledged. "If you want to be part of America, fly the American flag!"

God only knows what happens if he ever wanders into New York or L.A. and sees Americans proudly displaying Irish, Italian, Brazilian, Israeli, Armenian, and South Korean flags (not to mention the Mexican ones that so offend his delicate sensitivities)-- often alongside American flags-- to celebrate a heritage they are proud of. It's always been the American way, except for the descendants of convicts, like Goode, who were dumped on American shores and have nothing to be proud of. Meanwhile, Taco Bells in southern Virginia-- beware

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Poor House Republicans! They thought they were just making it easier for donors to be extorted, but found they were contributing to open government!


Just yesterday we caught up with Paul Kane's chronicle of John "Chipmunk Cheeks" McCain's historic return visit last week to the Senate. Now, in his latest "Capitol Briefing" post, Kane tells the hilarious story of how the Republicans' House campaign committee lit up a big smelly cigar that exploded right in its big fat collective face.

The kids thought they'd merely found a way to make life easier for the big-money donors they ritually extort: by regularly publishing lists of fund-raising events to which the donors are expected to haul those hefty bags o' cash. This way donors could always have enough bags ready, and know exactly where and when to haul them.

Talk about bad luck! It was embarrassing enough that they discovered they'd accidentally stumbled into a practice that--utterly unintentionally, surely--resembled open government! Then they discovered that these very lists could be used (gasp!) to interfere with House Republicans' perpetual quest for cash.

And if this isn't all funny enough, how can you not love a story that concludes with the ritual Republicrook disclaimer: "Both Republicans have denied any wrongdoing, saying they adhered to the law and internal House rules." The "both Republicans" in question are, first, the king of the Republicrooks, DWT fave Rep. Jerry Lewis, and, second, his intended recruit to the House Appropriations Trough, er, Committee, fellow California Rep. Ken Calvert.
House GOP Cuts Off the $un$hine

As the House was voting to spread a little sunshine to its K Street connections, a GOP campaign committee pulled down the shades to hide the fund-raising events hosted by House Republicans.

The National Republican Congressional Committee abruptly stopped publishing lists of money events last week, as noted today by my alma mater, Roll Call. (Subscription required.)

Here at Capitol Briefing the NRCC had won kudos for its openness toward raising money, as the only such campaign committee to ever freely publish its list of events that House Republicans were hosting. The list used to include the fairly standard breakfast, lunch and dinner money events, hosted by lobbying firms and trade associations, as well as the out-of-the-ordinary events like golf fund-raisers in the Carribbean or ski junkets in the Rocky Mountains.

While done ostensibly to alert lobbyists and other special interests to pending events, it also served as a sunshine maneuver that not even the Democrats ever contemplated doing - even as they swore up and down the Capitol about the GOP's shady dealings with K Street.

Alas, the NRCC's web site is being remodeled, and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) had always planned as "part of the process" of revamping the site to take down the link to upcoming events, according to Ken Spain, NRCC spokesman. "This was planned from day one."

The web site re-launch is still a few weeks away, meaning the elimination of the link to House GOP events happened in advance of the new web site rollout. Ironically, this decision came as the House overwhelmingly voted for further financial disclosure of lobbyists. The new lobbying bill approved last week would require lobbyists for the first time to reveal not just how much money they give to lawmakers but how much they bundle together from their clients and others for politicians.

Also, the money event link happened to disappear the same week that conservative blogger Erick Erickson, who has launched a campaign against the appointment of Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) to the Appropriations Committee, used the GOP events list to encourage conservative activists to protest a Calvert event.

Calvert's event had Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) as his special guest. Calvert has come under scrutiny for earmarks for projects located near property he owns, while Lewis is under federal investigation for steering tens of millions of dollars in earmarks to clients, such as defense contractor General Atomics, of a lobbying firm closely connected to the lawmaker.

Both Republicans have denied any wrongdoing, saying they adhered to the law and internal House rules.

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One of the takeaways from the Republican "debate" in South Carolina and its aftermath is that Establishment Republicans don't consider Ron Paul or his ideas any more "Republican" than they do Ru Paul and his ideas. And that doesn't come as any surprise to Dr. Paul, more a Libertarian (on whose ticket he ran for president in 1988) than what the GOP has morphed into in recent decades.

When he gently questioned Bush Regime dogma about the origins of 9/11, the entire GOP Power Elite, led by Rudy McRomney, went ape-shit. A libertarian blogger explains what happened (in case you were on Mars):
Fox New’s Wendell Goler addressed Paul and asked, “I believe you are the only man on the stage who opposes the war in Iraq, who would bring the troops home as quickly as-- almost immediately, sir. Are you out of step with your Party? Is your Party out of step with the rest of the world? If either of those is the case, why are you seeking its nomination?”

Ron Paul articulated, “Well, I think the Party has lost its way, because the conservative wing of the Republican Party always advocated a non-interventionist foreign policy. Senator Robert Taft didn’t even want to be in NATO. George Bush won the election in the year 2000 campaigning on a humble foreign policy-- no nation-building, no policing of the world. Republicans were elected to end the Korean War. The Republicans were elected to end the Vietnam War. There’s a strong tradition of being anti-war in the Republican Party. It is the Constitutional position. It is the advice of the Founders to follow a non-interventionist foreign policy, stay out of entangling alliances, be friends with countries, negotiate and talk with them and trade with them…. [T]here’s a lot of merit to the advice of the Founders and following the Constitution. And my argument is that we shouldn’t go to war so carelessly.”

Goler followed up with, “Congressman, you don’t think that changed with the 9/11 attacks, sir?”

His response: our foreign policy was a “major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we’ve been over there; we’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We’ve been in the Middle East-- I think Reagan was right. We don’t understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we’re building an embassy in Iraq that’s bigger than the Vatican. We’ve building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us.”

Goler: “Are you suggested we invited the 9/11 attacks, sir?”

“I’m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we’re over there because Osama bin Laden has said, ‘I am glad you’re over on our sand because we can target you so much easier.’ They have already now since that time have killed 3,400 of our men, and I don’t think it was necessary.”

That was when Rudy Giuliani blew his top-- giving this writer the best reason I’ve seen not to vote for him and to urge others not to support him.

The Bush Wing of the Republican Party-- which accounts for roughly 99.99% of the GOP Establishment but a somewhat shriveling percentage of the grassroots these days-- started demanding Rep. Paul not be invited to future debates and even be written out of Die Partei.
We saw, dramatized on national television and in ensuing media discussion, the two worldviews that may battle it out over the next year or so for control of the Republican Party-- and possibly the country itself-- with ramifications well beyond Election 2008. The one Rudy Giuliani represents (which is that of the Bush clan, the neocons, and the corporatist elite generally): the U.S. is an empire obliged or destined to rule the world, capable of building “democracies” in the Middle East and perhaps elsewhere, relying on a value system based on money and power. Power does not necessarily corrupt. We peons should fall in line behind our leaders.

The second, which Ron Paul represents, sees the U.S. as a Constitutional republic with a limited government, believes that sound economics requires sound money (not our present fiat dollar), would distinguish genuine free enterprise from corporatism, and advocate a foreign policy of trade with all but entangling alliances with none-- i.e., a foreign policy rooted in respect for other nations’ sovereignty and their right to self-determination. Other nations’ internal affairs are not our business unless we are explicitly invited in.

This is not simply a clash between “left” and “right,” or between “liberal” and “conservative.” We may be approaching a major dust-up between those who want freedom and those who want power, between those who believe society must be aggressively centralized and those who wish to see power dispersed. We may see a struggle between those who want policies that allow the common man to live as he sees fit if he isn’t bothering anyone else, and a cadre of oligarchs who view the world as theirs, and who see themselves as unaccountable.

The Republican National Committee and its talk-show fellow travelers are all on the side of power. The latter immediately went into attack-dog mode. After the debate, Paul appeared on Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes show. Sean Hannity spluttered incoherently against Paul to the point where Paul had difficulty getting a word in edgewise; to his credit, he did not get flustered and refused to back down. He stood his ground the next day when Wolf Blitzer on CNN asked if he wanted to apologize for his statements. He retorted that Rudy Giuliani ought to apologize to him. He told Blitzer that Americans have the right to disagree with bad policy. Interventionism is bad foreign policy, he said, and ought to be challenged. Fox News anchor John Gibson tried to associate Paul with the 9/11 Truth movement by crediting Paul with saying “the U.S. actually had a hand in the terrorist attacks.” Paul, of course, had said nothing of the sort. Glenn Beck, yet another neocon talk-show host and Rush Limbaugh wannabe, has repeatedly smeared Paul on his show, calling him “crazy” after the first debate and a “dope” after this one.

Regular DWT readers are aware that we'd take Ru Paul over Ron Paul any day (although we all like Ron's openess to the idea of impeaching Bush).

I doubt the Republicans will officially excommunicate Paul and through him out of the party. They're certainly never giving him a committee chair and they're not going to discourage any wingnuts from running against him in a primary. In fact... have I mentioned the Mayor Pro-Tem of Friendswood, Texas, Chris Peden? He's running against Paul for the seat. So is an ex-aide of Paul's, ultra-loonitarian Eric Dondero (who has called his ex-boss a "complete nutcase" and his views on foreign policy "near treasonous").

Much of Texas' 14th CD was represented by Tom DeLay. It runs along of Gulf of Mexico from Corpus Christi to Galveston and includes many of Houston's southern and eastern suburbs as well as Victoria.
Like much of Texas, this is one of those areas LBJ warned us about when he signed the Civil Rights Act. It went from solidly Democrat to solidly Republican.

Ron Paul was first elected to Congress in 1976, serving 4 terms before running for Senate-- and being crushed by Phil Gramm in the GOP primary, 73-16% in 1984. (That's when DeLay, an exterminator, ran for the House seat.) In 1988 Paul ran for president as a Libertarian and ran for congress again in 1996 after Rep. Greg Laughlin, a moderate Democrat, switched parties after the GOP promised him a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee. Paul beat him in the primary and then eked out a narrow victory against a Democrat in the general. His percentage of victory has been steadily climbing since then and he was unopposed in 2004. Last year he was opposed by a young right-wing Democrat, Shane Sklar, who held him down to 60%.

You might want to watch this video. Paul tries taking the pathetically ignorant Giuliani to school and he also explains how deceptive and disingenuous the Republican Party is. He claims a pro-war Republican-- Rudy McRomney and the rest of the herd-- can't win the presidency.

Clearly, Paul isn't going to be the Republican presidential nominee. Will he back out of the race and go the 3rd party route again? Or, will he back out of that race soon enough to fend off Republicans on his right in what promises to be an extremely bruising primary, a primary that is bound to lead to a contentious battle with a Democrat riding a wave of anti-GOP sentiment?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007



Both Joel Seidman at MSNBC and Dan Froomkin at today's Washington Post are reporting what has been widely known by everyone with a 3-digit IQ who's been paying attention to the Valerie Plame case: she was a covert CIA agent when Cheney's shop decided to out her to Bob Novak and other right-wing media tools. But like John Amato says, Now it's official. And now it looks like Pat Fitzgerald may well wind up indicting Cheney after all!
Special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald has made it clearer than ever that he was hot on the trail of a coordinated campaign to out CIA agent Valerie Plame until that line of investigation was cut off by the repeated lies from Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Libby was convicted in February of perjury and obstruction of justice. Fitzgerald filed a memo on Friday asking U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, who will sentence Libby next week, to put him in prison for at least two and a half years.

That's all you get for treason these days? Two and a half lousy years? What happened to firing squads and gallows? I thought these wingnuts loved capital punishment. Oh... not for themselves?
Despite all the public interest in the case, Fitzgerald has repeatedly asserted that grand-jury secrecy rules prohibit him from being more forthcoming about either the course of his investigation or any findings beyond those he disclosed to make the case against Libby. But when his motives have been attacked during court proceedings, Fitzgerald has occasionally shown flashes of anger -- and has hinted that he and his investigative team suspected more malfeasance at higher levels of government than they were able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

In Friday's eminently readable court filing, Fitzgerald quotes the Libby defense calling his prosecution "unwarranted, unjust, and motivated by politics." In responding to that charge, the special counsel evidently felt obliged to put Libby's crime in context. And that context is Dick Cheney.

And it always has been. Cheney told Libby that Plame was a secret CIA agent and Cheney told Libby to disclose that information to hack reporters and was Cheney part of-- actually directed-- the cover-up that followed the White House's outing of her.

Fitz: "To accept the argument that Mr. Libby's prosecution is the inappropriate product of an investigation that should have been closed at an early stage, one must accept the proposition that the investigation should have been closed after at least three high-ranking government officials were identified as having disclosed to reporters classified information about covert agent Valerie Wilson, where the account of one of them was directly contradicted by other witnesses, where there was reason to believe that some of the relevant activity may have been coordinated, and where there was an indication from Mr. Libby himself that his disclosures to the press may have been personally sanctioned by the Vice President."

Libby gets sentenced June 5, a week from today. Will the judge allow him to remain out of prison while he appeals. Umm... is he a rich, well-connected white Republican male? And even if he gets thrown in the pokey, anyone wanna take bets that Bush pardons him within hours?

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President Clinton makes a great move-- and we owe him

I always tell all the DWT writers that we can't advocate violence-- not even against monstrosities who are destroying our nation. I've heard all the arguments and I always say, "no, we cannot advocate violence at DWT." Nor do I even support the 180 days concept which says if you do something violent to a high up fascist and you can avoid the consequences for 180 days you get a prize and can't be prosecuted. On the other hand, the five high up fascists on the U.S. Supreme Court-- Alito, Scalia, Kennedy, Roberts and that one who never says anything but passes a note to the clerk saying "What Scalia says"-- are in favor of the 180 days concept.

Many of us knew it was a big mistake for Democrats not to block the nominations of Roberts and, even worse, Alito. It wasn't just because of Roe v Wade either. Sure, these two creeps are wrong about everything but the Bush inner circle was primarily looking for judges who could always be counted on to support corporate interests over the rights of consumers and workers, judges who will favor the wealthy and powerful over the rest of us. Today's 5-4 decision can be laid right at the feet of Democrats like Reid and Schumer who sabotaged progressive and grassroots efforts to organize against a filibuster. The decision today upholds a right wing appeals court decision voiding a worker's right to collect damages from a corporation discriminating against her illegally, based on the 180 loophole.
The court ruled 5-4 that Lilly Ledbetter, a supervisor at a tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., did not file her lawsuit against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in the timely manner specified by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

A jury had originally awarded her more than $3.5 million because it found it "more likely than not" that sex discrimination during her 19-year career led to her being paid substantially less than her male counterparts.

An appeals court reversed, saying the law requires the suit be filed within 180 days "after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred," and Ledbetter couldn't prove discrimination within that time period. She had argued that she was discriminated against throughout her career and each paycheck that was less because of discrimination was a new violation.

The conservative majority of the court disagreed, and upheld the appeals court.

Once again it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg who made the most sense even going so far as to urge Congress to amend the law to correct her extremist colleagues' "parsimonious reading" of it (something Hillary Clinton has already said she will do). "In our view," said Ginsburg for the 4 non-fascist members, "this court does not comprehend, or is indifferent to, the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination."

Today's NY Times called Ginsburg's decision vigorous. With the Bush Regime entering the case on behalf of Goodyear and against ordinary Americans, Justice Ginsburg's oral dissent was "an unmistakable sign of anger and the tone of her opinion showed how bitterly she differed with the majority. She asserted that the effects of pay discrimination can be relatively small at first, then become far more serious as subsequent raises are based on the original low pay, and that instances of pay inequities ought to be treated differently from other acts of discrimination. For one thing, she said, pay discrimination is often not uncovered until long after the fact." She pointed out that the court's 5 fascist judges' "opinion 'overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination.' She said that given the secrecy in most workplaces about salaries, many employees would have no idea within 180 days that they had received a lower raise than others."

Ralph Neas of People For the American Way, which led the fight to persuade Schumer, Reid and other tepid Democrats to really try to stop the Alito nomination, summed up today's ruling and put it into perspective.

Today's ruling is just the latest sign of the Court’s rightward lurch following the replacement of moderate conservative Justice Sandra Day O’Connor with ultraconservative Justice Samuel Alito and the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice.
The Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Alito, ruled against a female former employee of Goodyear who claimed she had been subjected to gender-based salary discrimination over many years. Justice Anthony Kennedy joined with the right-wing bloc (as he did in Gonzales v. Carhart) to severely limit the relief available to many workers who fall victim to wage discrimination.
It is often exceptionally difficult for employees to learn about salary disparities and to sue for wage discrimination while continuing to work for a company. By making it more difficult for Americans to recover wages unfairly denied them, and less costly for companies to engage in discrimination against employees, the Court majority displayed its hostility to individual rights and to the laws passed by Congress to protect them.
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg accused the majority of straying far ‘from interpretation of Title VII with fidelity to the Act's core purpose.’ Having successfully argued so many important sex discrimination cases when she was an attorney, Justice Ginsburg must feel as though she is going back in time with each passing day. And she would be right.
The fulcrum of the Court has shifted rightward from Justice O’Connor to Justice Kennedy. It has become increasingly clear that whenever he aligns with his four ultraconservative peers, the outcome will be destructive. In decision after decision, Alito and Roberts are demonstrating the hostility to crucial rights and protections that the opponents to their confirmation warned about.

I am still standing by DWT practice of not advocating violence-- even against fascists-- and not supporting this 180 days loophole thing. I would like to urge you to remember what I said a few days ago when we asked if you are ready to elect the next Supreme Court (non-violently).


George Miller, Chair of the Education and Labor Committee responded to Justice Ginsburg's called for Congress to address the Bush Court's idiotic decision.
"The Supreme Court’s ruling makes it more difficult for workers to stand up for their basic civil rights in the workplace. A worker undergoing sex, race, or other discrimination in pay is discriminated against with each and every discriminatory paycheck, not just when the company set the worker’s pay. Yet, according to the Supreme Court, if a worker does not file within 180 days of the employer’s decision to set her pay unlawfully, she has to live with that discrimination paycheck after paycheck. This ruling will force Congress to clarify the law’s intention that the ongoing effects of discriminatory decisions are just as unacceptable as the decisions themselves."

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How could anyone not be proud to have Rudy (left) for a dad? mom?

Today's NY Times has some fluffy nonsense about Giuliani trading in his growl for a smile-- and even shows a picture of him braying like a jackass, which, I suppose, is supposed to represent the smile-- but they are very much out of step with the rest of the papers in New York City this week. The other papers decided not to opt to lend themselves to the Giuliani campaign but to highlight the man's real character, probably the single most important "issue," a potential voter has to figure out before casting a ballot (not counting his authoritarian nature).

And if that's the case, no matter how many Arab invaders Rudy tries to make people in South Carolina think he gunned down on the streets of New York on 9/11, he has no chance to win, at least not in a general election. The Daily News emphasized the dysfunctional nature of Giuliani's personal life and how screwed up his relationships are with his children and wives. The News pointed out that he was "the odd man out" at his daughter's high school graduation Friday.
The Republican presidential hopeful slid in a balcony door with his third wife, Judith, and security guards as the commencement began, then slipped out just as quietly when it ended, without speaking to his daughter and declining to speak with reporters.

Afterwards, a resplendent Caroline, 17, beamed with joy-- but noticeably skipped over her father when asked how she felt about graduating.

"This is a great day," she told the Daily News. "I am celebrating with my mom, my stepfather [Ed Oster], my brother and other family friends."

Earlier, when her name was called and Caroline stood to accept her diploma before a crowd of 2,000, she waved and smiled at her mother and brother and Oster - who were seated a far distance from the former mayor.

Giuliani operatives claim he's trying to repair his relations with his two children. although neither is mentioned on his campaign web site's biography. (Both had been prominently featured in previous campaigns and each appeared in TV ads with him.)

The NY Post was on the same beat, emphasizing the big chill between Giuliani and his former family.
When the commencement speaker, Sen. Charles Schumer, noted Giuliani's presence and the audience broke into applause, Hanover and her son, Andrew Giuliani, sat stone-faced and didn't clap.

But Hanover and Andrew jumped up and cheered when the Harvard-bound 17-year-old Caroline received her diploma from the tony Trinity School, while Giuliani and his wife, Judith, didn't even crack a smile.

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Why have we heard so little of the voices of reason among American Christians? It turns out they've been talking, but couldn't make themselves heard


"As this study documents, coverage of religion not only overrepresents some voices and underrepresents others, it does so in a way that is consistently advantageous to conservatives. . . .

"Despite the fact most religious Americans are moderate or progressive, in the news media it is overwhelmingly conservative leaders who are presented as the voice of religion. This represents a particularly meaningful distortion since progressive religious leaders tend to focus on different issues and offer an entirely different perspective than their conservative counterparts."

--from the Executive Summary of Media Matters' new report, "Left Behind: The Skewed Representation of Religion in Major News Media"

Whether it's a symptom or a result, one all but inevitable component of the gradual (oh-so-gradual) loosening of the ultra-loony Far Right's six-year-long death grip on the country has been a weakening of the tyranny of the so-called Christian Right--the far-flung network of demagogic megalomaniacs and racketeers who took large segments of the country hostage with what can most charitably be called "junk" religion.

I'm sure it would be a mistake to over-estimate the weakening of this grip, but even some of its hostages seem to have begun to notice the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the right-wing Christigoons. As the surprisingly muted response to the passing of the unspeakable Rev. Jerry Falwell showed, more moderate evangelical leaders are already showing concern to distance themselves from the looniest of the Christigoon patriarchs.

And more and more we're finally hearing voices of honorable religion speaking up in counterpoint to the debased version that dominates the American "religious revival."

In these wars there hasn't been much that those of us on the sidelines--non-observant Jews, for example--could do except wait. I certainly understood that persons of sanity in the ranks of American Christianity felt under siege, especially as the ranks of their followers shrank while the deluded hosts of the junk religionists swelled. Here and there you occasionally heard a lonely voice, but the loneliness of those voices only underscored their isolation.

What I never stopped to consider was that all through this nightmare there have been sensible religionists trying to be heard, but having to fight their way through the same media blackout that voices of reason in all spheres have had to contend with. Of course, once the idea is introduced, the logic is immediately evident.

Now Media Matters has undertaken a study of the subject, and issued a report with the title LEFT BEHIND: The Skewed Representation of Religion in Major News Media, which you can either read online or download in PDF form.

I confess that I haven't read the report itself, and it may take me a while to get it. But the Executive Summary provides a pretty good idea. I would encourage you to read it while asking yourself, "Is any of this really a surprise?"

It would surprise few people, conservative or progressive, to learn that coverage of the intersection of religion and politics tends to oversimplify both. If this oversimplification occurred to the benefit or detriment of neither side of the political divide, then the weaknesses in coverage of religion would be of only academic interest. But as this study documents, coverage of religion not only overrepresents some voices and underrepresents others, it does so in a way that is consistently advantageous to conservatives.

As in many areas, the decisions journalists make when deciding which voices to include in their stories have serious consequences. What is the picture of religious opinion? Who is a religious leader? Whose views represent important groups of believers? Every time a journalist writes a story, he or she answers these questions by deciding whom to quote and how to characterize their views.

Religion is often depicted in the news media as a politically divisive force, with two sides roughly paralleling the broader political divide: On one side are cultural conservatives who ground their political values in religious beliefs; and on the other side are secular liberals, who have opted out of debates that center on religion-based values. The truth, however is far different: close to 90 percent of Americans today self-identify as religious, while only 22 percent belong to traditionalist sects. Yet in the cultural war depicted by news media as existing across religious lines, centrist and progressive voices are marginalized or absent altogether.

In order to begin to assess how the news media paint the picture of religion in America today, this study measured the extent to which religious leaders, both conservative and progressive, are quoted, mentioned, and interviewed in the news media.

Among the study's key findings:

* Combining newspapers and television, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed in news stories 2.8 times as often as were progressive religious leaders.

* On television news -- the three major television networks, the three major cable new channels, and PBS -- conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed almost 3.8 times as often as progressive leaders.

* In major newspapers, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed 2.7 times as often as progressive leaders.

Despite the fact most religious Americans are moderate or progressive, in the news media it is overwhelmingly conservative leaders who are presented as the voice of religion. This represents a particularly meaningful distortion since progressive religious leaders tend to focus on different issues and offer an entirely different perspective than their conservative counterparts.

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Oh, to have been in the Senate Thursday afternoon, to witness the tearful reunion of the prodigal senator and his comrades-in-arms


Hey, did you hear the big news from before the Memorial Day Weekend? I just caught up with it via a Thursday 3:44pm entry in Paul Kane's "Capitol Briefing" blog on You'll never guess who paid a whirlwind visit to the Senate that day! Yes, ladies and germs, the head on the item reads:

McCain Returns to Senate

What's more, the Sultan of Baghdad actually cast a vote, for the first time in six weeks.

Kane doesn't get into it, but you have to figure there was all manner of hugging and kissing and crying as our John reunited with all his old Senate buddies (though poor old Sen. Jim Bunning is probably still asking anyone who'll listen, "Who is it? Is it Santa Claus?")--not to mention the inevitable cries of "Didja bring me anything?" I wouldn't be surprised if the senator hurriedly sent his old pal Sen. Lindsey "Gotta Shop Till I Drop" Graham out into the bazaars of D.C., and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if America's hagglemeister came back with rugs for everyone! (Leastwise the Republicans. You know them damn Dems don't Support Our Troops. 'Ceptin' that nice man-o-Gawd Holy Joe Lieberman.)

Kane does tack on this note:
[Full disclosure: McCain returned to Washington yesterday afternoon for a meeting with his national finance committee for his presidential campaign, followed by a rooftop fundraiser last night hosted by a lobbying firm. That was followed up today by a breakfast fundraiser here in Washington and then an evening money event, leaving time for senatorial duties.]

I just think it's nice--heart-warming, even--when the senator manages to work a bit of the people's business into the jam-packed schedule for his real business: the business of fund-raising.

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