Thursday, July 31, 2008

What would you say to a grass-roots movement for Wes Clark as VP? Well, it's underway


by Ken

I was going to write a whole long piece about the situation with regard to the Democratic VP nomination. In fact, I wrote a whole long piece, but I lost it to that devil incarnate Steve Jobs's operating system from hell OS X. (Dammit, I saved the friggin' thing, so why wasn't it there when I rebooted in order to regain a modicum of computer functionality?)

I don't feel like writing that piece again, so let me cut to the chase. When you hear the latest sludge supposedly perched on the Obama VP short list, do you feel like retching? In the end, of course, we Bolshies over here on the senator's left don't have a damned thing to say about it. But a couple of those Bolshies, Matt Stoller and Aaron Ament, have decided to launch a crusade for retired Gen. Wesley Clark.

Matt will tell you all about it over at OpenLeft, and direct you to the website (www.obamaclark) that he and Aaron have put up. But here in a nutshell is the idea:

The basic idea behind Clark for VP is that we want to make a little noise about the position of Vice President and ask that Obama consider a real progressive in that slot who can help fix some of the most damaging aspects of the Bush Presidency.

The political argument for Clark is simple. He is a great surrogate for Democrats, with experience in 2004 and 2006 on the campaign trail, and a genuine national base of supporters. In terms of governance, which is what Obama says is the most important criteria for his VP pick, Clark can help Obama deal with the mess that the Bush administration left behind. As commander of NATO in the late 1990s, Clark won a war, so he is more likely than any progressive out there to be able to wrangle solutions from a military establishment that has been decimated by Bush's cronyism and incompetence. That is really important moving forward, since rebuilding our national security posture is a critical challenge over the next eight years

Clark also emphasizes Obama's strengths. He is popular among grassroots progressives, he was against the war in Iraq from the get-go, and he is an outsider to politics. He also demonstrated terrific political judgment in being willing to work against Lieberman in 2006, unlike, say, Tim Kaine, who endorsed Lieberman for President in 2004. This kind of savvy political judgment can help Obama avoid landmines down the road, and the Bush administration has left very little but landmines for the next President.

General Clark was one of the two people I originally thought about as a plausible VP nominee (the other being Virginia freshman Sen. Jim Webb), and he sure sounds better to me than even the best -- or least worst -- of the names we've heard of as actual possible Obama VP picks. I don't think this is going to change what happens. At the same time, I say, what the heck?

Labels: , , ,

Science marches on: Can we interest you in some choice lakeside property on Saturn's most desirable moon?


It's now confirmed that those lake-like thingies we see in this 2007 radar image of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan are filled with liquid. If you're planning to use your in-laws' lakeside timeshare there, though, don't forget to wait at least an hour after eating before going in the, er, liquid.

"This is the first observation that really pins down that Titan has a surface lake filled with liquid."
-- Bob Brown, team leader of the international spacecraft Cassini's visual and mapping instrument, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena

by Ken

Gosh, this is embarrassing. I didn't know there was such a thing as an international Cassini spacecraft, and here it's been exploring Saturn's rings and moons since it got out there in mid-2004. In that time it has apparently flown by Titan 40 times, which is surely a bigger deal than anything I've accomplished in the same period. Why, in January 2005 -- so the story goes -- Cassini launched a probe that parachuted to Titan's surface!

Cassini turns out to be a project of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency. I tried to find out whether it was named for the late fashion designer Oleg Cassini, the only Cassini I know of, but the AP article didn't say. Did you know, by the way, that Oleg Cassini was nearing his 93rd birthday when he died in 2006? I found that out in Wikipedia. The probe launched to the surface of Titan, by the way, was called Huygens. I don't know anyone named Huygens.

Hey, I'm trying to get into the spirit of the thing. It just may be, though, that you have to be a scientist to get properly excited about this business of lakes on Titan. In our entire solar system, it appears it's now down to just us and Titan as the only entities in the solar system with liquid on their surface. (Apparently when you spill coffee on your desk, that doesn't count. But if the coffee attacks your computer keyboard, don't expect any help from NASA -- or the European spaceniks either, I'll bet.)

Probably you're thinking, if the beaches nearest you are anywhere near as crowded as the ones nearest me, that this might be a cool way of catching some rays without boom boxes blaring and kids kicking sand in your face as they run past. However, I'm guessing the trip is apt to be even worse than the one to that packed beach near you -- double that for a round trip, and it's probably not practical just for weekends. (And at today's gas prices!) Plus I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that temperatures on Titan are on the cool side, even in summer. (I figure on a planet-size moon like Titan it must be summer somewhere.)

And, oh yes, the liquid in the lakes of Titan isn't water, it's liquid ethane, which according to the article is a component of crude oil. It sounds like trying to swim on our beaches once the Republicans start doing all that offshore drilling.

Still, if you're looking for bargains among the moons of Saturn, you'll probably want to stick with Titan. Enceladus (below), for example, has huge frozen geysers shooting from it -- and you know what an inopportune frozen geyser can do to a picnic.

Labels: , , , ,

It turns out Obama would have been pilloried if he HAD visited those wounded troops in Germany. In 2008 do you HAVE to lie to be a Republican?


"Steve Schmidt . . . is playing the Rovian playbook that says that it doesn’t matter if it’s true as long as your target audience (non-college educated white working class voters) won’t bother to find out the actual truth, and believe that it 'sounds like it might be a true.'”
-- Business Week Senior Correspondent David Kiley,
on the magazine's website Monday

by Ken

We've all heard and seen more than enough, I think, of the McCranky "campaign" (still have to use those quotes around "campaign") ad that smeared Barack Obama for not visiting wounded U.S. troops in Germany -- all concocted from utter lies fabricated by the "campaign"'s team of liars. The team appears to include a cohort of morons as well, since the ad, which made the idiotic claim that Senator Obama was too busy to visit the troops but wasn't too busy to go to the gym, used for the "gym" video of the senator, not in Germany but in Kuwait, shooting hoops with U.S. troops.

Really, at that level of dishonesty and stupidity, you need to exercise your Second Amendment right and take a gun to your head and just keep shooting till you start feeling less dishonest.

But wait, it turns out that that wasn't the full level of dishonesty at play here.

On Monday, on Brand New Day, Business Week's "advertising, marketing and media" blog, Senior Correspondent David Kiley tore the anti-Obama ad -- produced by "McCain’s new ad/communications honcho Steve Schmidt" -- to smithereens. Citing the "blatant lie" about Obama's scheduling, he opined:
Steve Schmidt, a disciple of Karl Rove’s who worked on George W. Bush’s 2004 ad/communications effort, though, is playing the Rovian playbook that says that it doesn’t matter if it’s true as long as your target audience (non-college educated white working class voters) won’t bother to find out the actual truth, and believe that it “sounds like it might be a true.”

However, correspondent Kiley had a bit of news -- or perhaps a bombshell (I incline to bombshell) -- to add:
What the McCain campaign doesn’t want people to know, according to one GOP strategist I spoke with over the weekend, is that they had an ad script ready to go if Obama had visited the wounded troops saying that Obama was...wait for it...using wounded troops as campaign props. So, no matter which way Obama turned, McCain had an Obama bashing ad ready to launch. I guess that’s political hardball. But another word for it is the one word that most politicians are loathe to use about their opponents -- a lie.

This is interesting, no? But let's not stop here. Kiley has some interesting things to say on the subject:
This is what some people are calling the Hannity strategy. Right wing nut-muffin Sean Hannity employs a slick strategy of repeating canards very quickly over and over, day in and day out, which aren’t challenged by his TV co-host Alan Colmes or by any of his radio listeners. By relentlessly repeating falsehoods day after day, the theory goes, it becomes embedded in the media. There is truth in this. In 2004, the Bush campaign ran an ad and daily repeated that John Kerry was a flip flopper, running a Kerry clip with the Democratic candidate saying he voted for an $87 billion military appropriation before he voted against it. It sounded bad when ripped out of context. Kerry voted for it in committee, and then voted against in on a floor vote when the bill included giveaways to Halliburton he didn’t support.

The distortion took on a life of its own, parroted by mainstream media including Chris Matthews, and even the Tom Brokaw and the late Tim Russert. It is a case study in how effective advertising can work when it is done relentlessly and consistently…even if its untrue. Hannity enployed the same strategy conflating a passing acquaintance between Obama and former unconvicted Weather Underground activist William Ayers with "an association" with Obama...for months. He talked it up every day. He finally goaded ABC's George Stephanopoulus to ask Obama about it in a televised debate. It didn't matter that Obama has nothing that could be construed by a thinking person like "an association" with Ayers. He raised the question just by repeating it daily.

Welcome to the new McCain cum Schmidt cum Rove campaign.

I've written good things about McCain's ads in the past, and I expect I will again if they ever return to a level of at least being for grown-ups.

Oh, and one more thing -- this parting shot Kiley takes at the insufferable Sean Hannity:
By the way, lest Hannity try and pretend that he isn’t a tool of virtually any GOP campaign, it’s worth noting that he echoed almost point for point the actual daily McCain campaign talking points on Obama's trip last Friday night, including his “takeaway from the Obama trip” that he had time to work out in a gym but not visit the troops in the hospital. Hannity went into the tank again the same night that former White House press secretary Scott McClellan told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that the White House does, in fact, provide Hannity and other Fox News and on-air talent their daily and weekly policy “talking points.” We knew that, but it’s nice to hear someone admit it who was in on the transaction.

Just a while ago I found myself responding to a commenter who wanted us to believe that the subpoena and congressional contempt action against Karl Rove is merely a partisan "fishing expedition." Of course that's the talking point the Judiciary Committee Republicans were spewing after the committee vote on contempt, and it's so self-evidently drivel that I meant to mention it myself in my post on the subject: Those GOP-ers may not be Einsteins, but they're not that stupid. You have to assume they're just lying, right?

And in replying to that comment, I found myself wondering whether we've really reached the point here at the dawn of the 21st century where to be a Republican you have to be either a moron or a pathological liar. As anyone who reads DWT at all knows, we have our problems with an awful lot of Democrats, but in the year 2008 Republicans are something else again.


In a weird and largely incoherent MSNBC interview today with Andrea Mitchell, McCranky "campaign" manager Rick Davis denied the report that the "campaign" had an alternate ad ready for the troops visit. It's not entirely clear to me, though, that Davis would have known, or that he would tell us the truth if he did.

Here's the exchange in the transcript that reached me:

MITCHELL: Were you ready with an advertisement as some has suggested, in case he had visited the troops, to criticize him for doing it while on a political trip?

DAVIS: No. I mean, frankly, we learned about the trip from the media. We, like many people in the media, weren't very well informed in what details of Barack Obama's trip was going to be. But, when we learned about it, you know, it was disappointing to us. Because I am very confident that the soldiers at Landstuhl would have enjoyed a trip and a visit by Barack Obama. So, from our perspective, you know, look, we think he made a mistake in judgment. We think those are the kinds of things that people are evaluating.

Labels: , , , , ,

Don Siegelman: "If Congress lets this politicization of the DoJ go unchecked and unpunished, it could become part of America's political culture"


"By ignoring a Congressional subpoena, Karl Rove has spit in the face of Congress and the American people. . .

"If Congress lets this politicization of the Department of Justice go unchecked and unpunished, then it could well become part of America's political culture and happen again in the future. Congress needs to keep digging until they get to the truth."

-- former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, today on HuffPost

by Ken

Rove-railroaded Governor Siegelman announced today on HuffPost that he has launched a new "advocacy campaign" to help force our Karl to drag his miserable carcass to Capitol Hill and spill his rotten guts. Here's his post:


Contempt for Rove

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress, moving us one step closer to the truth, one step closer to restoring justice, and one step closer to preserving our democracy. It's a huge step forward, and I'm so thankful that the committee voted for contempt.

But now is not the time to celebrate -- now is the time to take action. The House Judiciary Committee is on the record, but now we need the full House of Representatives to vote to hold Karl Rove in contempt as well.

So I've launched an online advocacy campaign at where people can forward an email to their Members of Congress, urging them to take action -- and I'm asking you to join me. I need your help to speak out and urge the full House to do the right thing. Your action is critical. Timing is everything.

Please visit right now to forward an email to your Member of Congress today.

While I served as Governor of Alabama from 1999-2003 and thereafter, Karl Rove and his right-wing political cronies targeted me through a malicious, unfounded, politically-motivated prosecution. I served 9 months in federal prison before the appeals court released me. And now, Karl Rove refuses to testify before Congress about his role in this whole nefarious scheme.

That's outrageous. By ignoring a Congressional subpoena, Karl Rove has spit in the face of Congress and the American people. As Americans, we deserve to know the truth about how our Department of Justice was used by Karl Rove and his rogue band of political operatives as a political tool to win elections. Only Congress has the power to find the truth.

If Congress lets this politicization of the Department of Justice go unchecked and unpunished, then it could well become part of America's political culture and happen again in the future. Congress needs to keep digging until they get to the truth. Our democracy and system of justice have to be restored. The American people need to have confidence that this kind of outrageous abuse of power is at least less likely to happen in the future.

That truth-finding starts by having Karl Rove under oath before the Judiciary Committee. We the People must insist that Congress do its job and hold Karl Rove in contempt for failing to obey a subpoena. The house of cards will start to fall soon thereafter.

What would happen to the unemployed steel worker, the housewife, or the taxi cab driver who ignored a subpoena? I give you one guess: They would be behind bars. Karl Rove is not above the law, and Congress needs to make that plain and clear to Karl Rove and to everybody else.

Please visit right now to forward an email to your Member of Congress today.

Our democracy will cease to exist as we know it if the government is allowed to use its power to prosecute their political opponents. This fight is not about me but about saving our democracy and restoring justice in America.

That's why I'm asking you to write Congress today and urge them to act. When Congress holds Rove in contempt, the truth will begin to become exposed. This ball of string will come unraveled. The truth will be known.

I am in this fight not only for my own freedom but also to ensure that Karl Rove is held accountable for his sins.

Together, we can fight to get the full truth from Karl Rove and restore integrity to our system of justice. America deserves nothing less.

Labels: , ,

Kicking A Crooked Senator-- And Cash Cow-- When He's Down


Susan Collins giving up her share of the VECO loot

As we saw a couple days ago, most Republicans senators participated in a massive money laundering scheme with Ted Stevens in which he would get bribes from VECO and other special interest corporations and then spread that around in $5,000 and $10,000 chunks through his PAC. Then many of those senators would kick back a portion, as "donations," to Stevens. You won't hear about that on CNN or ABC or Fox, but it shows up in the boring, duty old FEC reports. What you did get from today though was news that another recipient of tainted money from Stevens was getting rid of it. Joining the panicked rush to divest themselves of Steven's bribes, John McCain donated the most recent $5,000 he got from Stevens to charity.

In the last couple days, other Republican crooks shamed into giving up the dough have included Susan Collins (R-ME), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Liddy Dole (R-NC), an especially corrupt Gordon Smith (R-OR), Nebraska Senate candidate (and ex-cabinet secretary under Bush) Mike Johanns, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). The really gargantuan laundered money that Stevens pumped into the NRSC (the GOP Senate caucus' criminal operation) isn't being returned and donated to charity, unless you consider shady Inside the Beltway operatives "charity." And John Barrasso (R-WY) says he won't give back the bribe money Stevens gave him. Although the corruption-prone and always disingenuous McCain was always happy to begin his stump speech with an attack on Steven's "Bridge to Nowhere" (and implying Stevens wasn't a Republican), McCain greedily and unquestioningly gobbled up his share of the VECO bribes and voted for VECO's special interests in return. Today he was quick to throw Stevens under the bus, reminding voters that he never liked the crusty old senator-- Stevens, like electricity, is even older than McCain-- and that they often clashed over Stevens' insatiable avarice.

I would exactly liken them to a bunch of Judases, after all the implication about Stevens would be 180 degrees at odds with the reality, but his Republican pals, in quickly divesting themselves of the tainted money he's been giving them, are indicating that... well, that they believe the money is tainted. In this morning's Washington Post Dana Milbank paints a portrait of senatorial sympathy. The participants in the Culture of Corruption-- and you could probably count the senators who aren't on your two hands and a foot-- feel terribly for their crooked old colleague brought low. It could have been almost any of them. The campaign finance system itself is so jiggered to favor rich special interests that it is almost impossible for a Senator not to become a criminal. Speaking of which, Stevens trial begins September 24-- and he wants it over before the election (and before he's charged with other criminal activities).

My friend Roland has been in Maine for the last 2 weeks and he called yesterday and told me that every time he turns on the TV or radio he hears Susan Collins ads bragging how "independent" and "moderate" she is. She's neither. Perhaps the $20,000 in bribe money she got from Stevens, which Tom Allen shamed her into getting rid of, will mean a few less ads. But Tom needs the help to compete with the hundreds of thousands of dollars Susan Collins accepted from other special interests whose agendas she was been pushing forward. Interested in honest government that represents ordinary American families, not rich corporate interests? We need to get rid of crooks like Ted Stevens and Susan Collins-- even if it was just the system that made 'em do it-- and replace them with men and women of high moral character who won't give in to these temptations. Please consider a contribution to the election campaign of Maine's honest congressman, Tom Allen on the Blue America ActBlue page.


Stevens mostly gave to fellow senators-- but every now and then he would run into a House remember with a big enough FOR SALE sign on his ass that he figured it would be worth the investment of some of VECO's dirty dollars. Stevens was a major supporter of the DRILL Act which would force oil companies to drill on leased federal lands or lose the leases. Stevens only paid off 14 members of the House-- and Garrett was one of them. Now Garrett, already considered one of the 6 least ethical members of the Congress not yet indicted, refuses to divest himself of the tainted money.

Labels: , , , ,

Breaking news: District Court judge says Harriet Miers does too have to answer that subpoena. KenInNY says: Don't hold your breath.


"Harriet Miers is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena."
-- U.S. District Court Judge John Bates, in a ruling issued this morning

"We look forward to the White House complying with this ruling and to scheduling future hearings with Ms. Miers and other witnesses who have relied on such claims. We hope that the defendants will accept this decision and expect that we will receive relevant documents and call Ms. Miers to testify in September."
-- House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers,
responding to Judge Bates's ruling

by Ken

Did I speak too soon? Only yesterday I was making fun of the House Judiciary Committee for imagining that Karl Rove could give a damn whether they recommend that the full House cite him for contempt of Congress. (And Howie too was wondering whether this would mean anything.) Why should he care, I reasoned, when White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Sourpuss Harriet Miers, who've already been cited, clearly don't?

Well, now a District Court judge says their claim that they have absolute immunity, as presidential aides, from being compelled to testify before Congress is legal hooey:

Judge Rules White House Aides Can Be Subpoenaed

Filed at 10:46 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's top advisers are not immune from congressional subpoenas, a federal judge ruled Thursday in an unprecedented dispute between the two political branches.

The House Judiciary Committee wants to question the president's chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and former legal counsel Harriet Miers, about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys. But President Bush says they are immune from such subpoenas. They say Congress can't force them to testify or turn over documents.

U.S. District Judge John Bates disagreed. He said there's no legal basis for that argument. He said that Miers must appear before Congress and, if she wants to refuse to testify, she must do so in person.

"Harriet Miers is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena," Bates wrote.

He said that both Bolten and Miers must give Congress all non-privileged documents related to the firings.

The Bush administration can appeal the ruling. The Justice Department did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

So now Harriet and Josh (and Karl too) really are shivering in their shoes, right?

Well, I don't think so. It means more lawyer's fees for those appeals, but those right-wingers always seem to find a way to pay the legal bills. And by the time the appeals process plays out, will anybody remember what the whole to-do was about?


In response to Judge Bates's ruling, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers issued the following statement:

Today’s landmark ruling is a ringing reaffirmation of the fundamental principle of checks and balances and the basic American idea that no person is above the law. Judge Bates’ decision makes clear that the Congress had the right to subpoena Harriet Miers to learn of her role in the US Attorney firings, that her claim to be immune from subpoena was invalid and that the Committee was entitled to challenge that claim in Court. The Judge also ruled that the White House may not claim Executive Privilege over documents without describing them in reasonable detail so that these claims of privilege can be evaluated by Congress. We look forward to the White House complying with this ruling and to scheduling future hearings with Ms. Miers and other witnesses who have relied on such claims. We hope that the defendants will accept this decision and expect that we will receive relevant documents and call Ms. Miers to testify in September.

Labels: , , , ,

As many Alaskans mourn their senatorial cash cow, let's not forget that Ted Stevens became a master crook sitting atop a cesspool of Republicrookery


"In the money-driven context of American politics, the perks of incumbency can transform into a sense of personal entitlement as V.I.P. back-slappers relentlessly donate and entreat their way into a grateful politician's inner circle."
-- from this morning's NYT editorial "A Senate Lion Brought Down"

by Ken

Okay, so he's a crook, but he's our crook. Besides, he didn't steal from us. If anything, he stole for us. So why shouldn't he get a little for himself on the side?

This seems to be the attitude of many Alaskans faced with the loss of their cash-generating senior senator's Senate seniority, as reported in this morning's Washington Post:

Alaskans Fret About a Future Without Help From 'Uncle Ted'

By Karl Vick

ANCHORAGE, July 30 -- Alaska's vast landscape is littered with federally funded tributes to Sen. Ted Stevens's single-minded promotion of the state, from the brushed steel of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport to the $187 million that subsidizes air mail for the one-third of residents who live beyond the reach of roads.

In his almost 40 years in the Senate, the octogenarian Republican in many ways defined the shape of the Last Frontier, not least by using his perch on the Appropriations Committee to ensure that his state's tiny population remained the nation's richest in federal spending per capita. More than $9 billion arrived in Alaska from Washington in 2006, twice as much as a decade earlier.

So it was perhaps to be expected that many here greeted the news of Stevens's indictment on corruption charges as if they were condemned to a pauper's death, fearful that they will no longer be able to depend on the largess of "Uncle Ted." . . .

A third of Alaska's jobs can be traced to federal spending, according to the latest study by the University of Alaska's Institute of Social and Economic Research. Many spring from military expenditures that Stevens encouraged during decades of service on the appropriations subcommittee that oversees defense spending. . . .

The watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense said Wednesday that Stevens secured or played a significant role in 891 earmarks worth $3.2 billion to Alaska between 2004 and 2008. Divided among the state's 670,000 residents, the per capita figure of $4,872 is 18 times the national average of $263 over the same four years, the group said. . . .

It's understandable, then, that many of Uncle Ted's fellow Alaskans are standing by him, considering how much they stand to lose with his (now surely inescapable) fall.

For the rest of us, though, it's appropriate to view Uncle Ted's long-overdue fall-in-progress as an all-too-familiar cautionary tale. If you delve into any Alaskan history going back to and even before the campaign for statehood, you get an image of a very different Ted Stevens, one who might even be described as a crusading idealist, a far cry from the sinkhole of corruption he developed into.

This morning's New York Times editorial takes the most charitable imaginable approach, yet still gets this angle right:

A Senate Lion Brought Down

Any member of Congress should be able to see the larger lesson in the indictment of Senator Ted Stevens, the Alaskan patriarch accused of concealing more than $250,000 in home improvements and furnishings allegedly bestowed by the state's chief power broker.

Unfortunately, that lesson -- beware of favor-seekers bearing gifts -- strikes so directly to the heart of the back-scratching political culture of Washington that time and again lawmakers become inured to the risks and put their careers in jeopardy.

Mr. Stevens denies any corrupt behavior and insists that he paid for everything he received from William Allen, one of his state's dominant oil magnates until last year, when he admitted to bribing a half-dozen state politicians to get government favors. That will be up to a jury to decide. But Mr. Stevens's constituents have a right to wonder why their revered senator, a Republican who has served them fiercely for four decades, ever agreed to have his home richly upgraded by someone so obviously hunting for the inside track to politicians.

No bribery charge or quid pro quo is specified, which is always a difficult case for prosecutors to prove. Rather, Senate ethics violations are the core of the case, and this is as it should be. The senator is accused of concealing the alleged gifts from required disclosure to the public. At the same time, prosecutors say that Mr. Stevens "did use his official position and his office" to help Mr. Allen with oil deals ranging from Russia and Pakistan to special grants and contracts in Alaska.

In the money-driven context of American politics, the perks of incumbency can transform into a sense of personal entitlement as V.I.P. back-slappers relentlessly donate and entreat their way into a grateful politician's inner circle.

Voters are on to this downward spiral, even if too many lawmakers are in denial. Congress's esteem is at an all-time low, despite the spate of ethics reforms that helped bring the Democrats back to power in 2006. To its credit, the House is finally starting up a panel of outsiders to oversee its ethics; senators proudly rejected their august chamber's need for such an attempt to regain public trust.

In the case of the continuing Alaska investigation, it's revealing that an outside force -- an op-ed newspaper essay by a suspicious observer -- eventually triggered the federal raids that convicted state officials and indicted Mr. Stevens. Taxpayers should question whether government watchdogs would otherwise still be snoozing. In fact, statehouse lawmakers cited in the article first reacted by mockingly donning C.B.C. (Corrupt Bastards Club) baseball caps.

HUBRIS would have been the more appropriate logo. The tragedy in the indictment of Mr. Stevens is that overweening pride too easily befalls politicians.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Will Rove's Contempt Citation Today Mean Anything?


What do you think would happen if you were served with a subpoena and not only didn't bother to show up, but actually hopped a plane and went abroad? My guess is that it wouldn't be pleasant; incarceration isn't unlikely. Unless you're Karl Rove, George Bush's, John McCain's and the Republican Party's very own Rasputin-like dark presence.

A couple weeks ago I was at a lunch meeting where Rep. Linda Sanchez spoke. Actually, a lot of people spoke but only one had everyone yelling and applauding, Congresswoman Sanchez. And what woke the audience up and caused the excitement and tumult? The chair of the House Judiciary Committee's Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee, which has been dealing with the miscarriage of justice in the Don Siegelman case and the politicization of the Justice Department, announced that she intended to hold Rove in contempt and move towards putting him in prison. The audience went berserk with enthusiasm.

I talked with Rep. Sanchez before and after. She seemed quite sincere. I wish I could say the same for her colleagues, and I'm not even talking about Republican colleagues. This morning the full Judiciary Committee voted-- 20-14, strictly along party lines in the most partisan of all House committees-- to send a contempt recommendation to the full House. That means it's in Nancy Pelosi's hands, which equates to the Democrats' Orthus monster, Steny-and-Rahm making the decision. That makes me fear that an exercise in equal Justice is destined to quickly descend to the level of the kind of meaningless going-through-the-motions that the Hoyer, Emanuel and Pelosi triumvirate have come to represent. Disapproval half as bad as this Congress' would force Hoyer, Emanuel, Pelosi, Boehner, Blunt and Putnam to resign in most European countries. In Japan we'd have to deal with 6 hara karis.

Here's part of Governor Siegelman's statement after the Judiciary Committee acted:
"Today, the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress, moving us one step closer to the truth, one step closer to restoring justice, and one step closer to preserving our democracy. It's a huge step forward, and I'm so thankful that the
committee voted for contempt.

"Karl Rove and his right-wing political cronies targeted me through a malicious, unfounded, politically-motivated prosecution. I served 9 months in federal prison before the appeals court released me. And now, Karl Rove refuses to testify before Congress about his role in this whole nefarious scheme.

"It's time for Congress to act. The House Judiciary Committee is on the record, but now we need the full House of Representatives to vote to hold Karl Rove in contempt as well."

And the full House did vote last February to hold Joshua Bolten and Harriet Miers in contempt. Nothing happened, although theoretically each could go to prison for a year; fat chance. That kind of punishment is for regular folks, not for the ruling class. Through his assistant, Steve Schmidt, Rove is running the McCain campaign from behind the curtain and he is behind McCain's backfiring negative ads against Obama. Ted Stevens (R-AK) is the most senior Republican senator. Indictments and contempt citations just reinforce that Republicans, McCain included, can't be trusted to be involved with government.
The intensity of the recent drive-- which has included some assertions from the McCain campaign that have been widely dismissed as misleading-- has surprised even some allies of Mr. McCain, who has frequently spoken about the need for civility in politics. The sentiment seeped onto television on Wednesday with Andrea Tantaros, a Republican strategist, saying on MSNBC that the use of Ms. Hilton in Mr. McCain’s commercial was “absurd and juvenile,” and that he should spend more time promoting his own agenda.

McCain, Rove, Stevens, Monica Goodling, the hate-spewing media surrogates... Americans are sick of it and McCain will continue to lose support as we get closer to November. All these Rovian tactics and the resultant 7 years of Republican misrule are too recent even for notoriously short-attention span voters to forget so fast.

Labels: , ,

Sure, the McCranky "campaign" continues to sink to unimaginable depths, and House Dems shook an angry fist at Karl Rove, but what is there to say?


"I think this is the car crash between the McCain of 2000 and the McCain of 2008."
-- Rachel Maddow, talking to Keith Olbermann about the apparent free fall of the McCranky presidential "campaign" on tonight's Countdown

"Madness! Madness! Everywhere madness!"
-- the shoemaker-poet Hans Sachs, alone in his workroom in the wee hours of the morning, in Act III of Wagner's Mastersingers of Nuremberg

by Ken

Talk about a crazy day! It's not that there's been no news, but I'll be damned if I can figure out how to write about any of it.

Of course there's the presidential contest, but what is there to say about that? The McCranky "campaign" (I really see no alternative to using quotation marks around "campaign") now has no real issues, and so is reduced tp mindless invective and wholesale lying.

And yet 40-some percent of the electorate is thinking seriously about voting for the worthless shell of a human being that is Young Johnny McCranky.

Oh, you think he has issues? Like oil drilling. Are you a total moron? Do you really not know that there is not the slightest possibility on this earth that the oil companies will ever under any circumstances do anything to increase supply in order to lower prices. Their only interest in offshore drilling is as a hedge for the future, to maintain a supply of the stuff that they can continue to sell at ever-mounting prices, to feed their ever-mounting, unimagined-in-human-history corporate profits. Any Republican who has the chutzpah to say anything else is either lying his/her putrid guts out or is too stupid to know better -- or both.

Oh, and national security? We need Young Johnny to "win" the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the War on Terror?

It's sad to think that there are Americans who have been ruthlessly hornswoggled into believing any of this rot, by people whose ignorance of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the War on Terror is total. The warmongers are treating those poor folks like fecal matter, patsies for their ceaseless lies and stupidifications. The Britney Spears TV commercial??? America, they're telling you you're dumber than shit.

Now even the phony-baloney War on Terror is kaput. Today the Rand Corporation, an extremely conservative think tank, reported what has been obvious to most everyone who has had any awareness of the real reality of international events since 9/11: that the law-enforcement approach to fighting terrorism -- reflexively derided by lying or cretinous demagogues who think the American people are as stupid and dishonest as they are -- has been genuinely productive and is the obvious and only way to go. Military solutions, says the Rand report, are total bullshit. (Okay, they may not use the actual word bullshit, settling for the Rand-speak equivalent.)

Reference to "the law-enforcement approach" is used as an automatic sneer-slash-laugh line by the likes of Rudy "I'm Too Smart for My Brain" Giuliani and "The World's Tiniest George" Bush. There is irony here. Not with regard to Tiny George, of course -- it's hard to imagine much of anything even potentially ironic about his useless carcass. But Rudy built his whole career on hi record in law enforcement.

Of course that always depended on ignoring the staggering rate of reversal his prosecutorial convictions as U.S. attorney suffered on appeal, and ignoring the fundamentally pogrom-like culture of violence he bred in the New York Police Department during his time as mayor of New York. Now he's made it clear how little he understands and respects real law enforcement.

Meanwhile, as talk arises of Barack Obama's "presumptuousness" in behaving more like a president on his trip to the Middle East and Europe, the only commentators who remember that in the early stages of the senator's trip, commentators generally assumed it was just a matter of time before he committed a campaign-ending gaffe are commentators who now ridicule that kind of talk as overblown. I can't help thinking that closer examination would reveal that it's the very same commentators who (a) were lying in wait for the sure-to-happen gaffe and (b) later turned to deriding the gaffe watch.

In the interim, of course, an awful lot of people, Americans and otherwise, noticed that Senator Obama really did behave presidentially, if by "behaving presidentially" we understand behavior that doesn't leave us cringing every time he opens his mouth, or indeed moves a muscle. After all, by that modest definition, it's been almost eight years since we had a president capable of behaving presidentially.

Okay, so you see why I'm stumped for anything to write about the presidential campaign. So how about the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives displaying historic courage in voting to cite Karl Rove for contempt of Congress?

Oh yeah, great. I'll bet our Karl is shivering in his shoes.

Meanwhile the scandals pile up. And I don't mean charges or accusations. I mean the steadily growing pile of Inspector General reports, like the one from the Bush regime's notoriously gutless Justice Department IG, which nevertheless rips the Bush DoJ to shreds, making clear -- and adding some pungent detail to -- what most of us knew for years now: that the Bush DoJ was fundamentally a criminal enterprise, a betrayal of historic proportions of the department's basic criminal-justice function. Every second of every day of the Bush regime, its Justice Department (and the people who illegally and unethically manipulated it from the White House for partisan enforcement) was first and foremost devoted to transforming the U.S. into a dictatorship of the Far Right.

And Karl Rove was at the center of that wildly illegal as well as unethical and unprincipled deformation. As he was in transforming to primarily political function every agency of the federal government he could get his slimy mitts on. Worse still, if it's possible to imagine anything worse, we have substantial indications -- still awaiting proper investigation for actual evidence -- that our Karl engineered the overthrow of the legitimate government of the state of Alabama and successfully railroaded its governor into a prison sentence.

So the Dems on House Judiciary screwed up their courage and rose in righteous wrath, declaring, "Bad Karl!" Let's say the House goes ahead and actually votes for their contempt citation. Woo! Just ask Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers how scary that is.

The whole fucking Bush Justice Department should be under indictment, not to mention Rove and the whole of "Big Dick" Cheney's senior staff. Not to mention several hundred senior stooges who have infested the executive branch in this regime. Now it's more or less official: We can't lay a glove on any of youse bums.

So you see what I mean? It wasn't exactly a no-news day. But what is there to say about it all?

Labels: , , , , , , ,

What better occasion could there be to celebrate the straight talking of Young Johnny McCranky than Professor Irwin Corey's birthday (give or take)?


Yesterday was Professor Irwin Corey's 94th birthday. Here, in a regrettably poor-quality clip, is the world's foremost authority appearing with the Smothers Brothers in 1966. Just don't forget: Wherever you go, there you are.

by Ken

Poor Keith Olbermann couldn't get over it last night. It has finally come to this: Confronted with yet another contradiction between something Senator McCranky has just said andf what are supposed to be official McCranky positions, the McCranky campaign announced more or less officially -- it's hard to know what constitutes officialness in this wackjob of a campaign -- that the candidate doesn't speak for the campaign.

The candidate doesn't speak for the campaign.

Okay, it might seem more accurate to say that the campaign doesn't speak for the candidate, but in this case the distinction seems statistically insignificant. There's a whole lot of yammering coming out of McCranky Enterprises (meaning the entire entity comprising the candidate and the campaign), but it doesn't really seem to speak for anyone or anything. It's just talk.

It doesn't tell us anything about either (a) what Senator McCranky believes or (b) what he might do as president, but surely it isn't meant to. It's just meant to make listeners feel good, or feel mad, or feel something that would make them in some way feel like voting for the Crankyman. I would submit that at this late date in the senator's public career, about the only thing we know for sure about his beliefs is that he wants to be president. Oh yes, he wants very badly to be president.

By now we have learned that this is not, in general, a good or healthy thing, this business of wanting to be president. It may be the single most discouraging feature of our political system: that the sort of person who wants to be president badly enough to be willing to do what you have to do to have a realistic shot at becoming president is almost by definition someone no sensible person would want to be president.

Just why Young Johnny wants so badly to be president is an interesting question, and maybe we'll poke at it some other time, but for now it's not, except to note that it doesn't seem to have anything to do with all that stuff that's been coming out of his mouth -- or, for that matter, out of the campaign's mouth. That's just stuff he/they say.

Clearly it's becoming a growing annoyance to Senator McCranky when B-list (or lower!) reporters (you'll notice it's hardly ever the better-mannered high-profile reporters) actually press him on the flagrant contradiction between a position he's just enunciated and the one(s) he's staked out in the past. This makes him really, you know, cranky, and by now he's tried about every trick in the book -- heck, he's writing the book -- to avoid explaining the contradiction.

Starting with denying that there is any contradiction. Somehow Rachel Maddow always seems to be involved in Countdown discussions of the latest McCranky flipflops, and I love that look of bemused incredulity that comes over her face as she suggests the senator doesn't realize that the world has changed, and all that old stuff he said is still there on videotape, and computer users of even average skills can pull it up in a matter of minutes if not seconds.

Now that those reporters -- again, the B-list ones -- are getting more uppity about challenging the Crankyman about Stuff He Says, his responses are becoming almost comical. More and more frequently, for example, he employs the cunning strategy of not having a fucking clue what the reporter is talking about. He has no memory of supporting/opposing that proposition or voting for/against that bill. This could be just a memory problem, of course, but it could also be an inattention problem. Maybe that's how much attention he paid when he took his previous position on the proposition or bill in question.

Mind you, when he just lies about his record, I don't find it so funny, like when he was (finally!) challenged on his appalling record on veterans' issues and he went straight into one of his Liar Boy McCranky Hissy Fits of Indignation, called the questioner a liar, and shrieked how proud he is of his record on veterans' issues. That's not funny because in fact his record sucks. For a man whose one credible belief seems to be that we can never send enough American military people off to points abroad to kill and be killed, his record of lack of support for veterans should have him hooted off the platform every time he shows his smarmy mug in front of self-styled true patriots. But then, maybe he really doesn't know! All that tedious law-making and voting stuff really seems to exceed his interest level.

But it's kind of funny when he's exhausted his diversionary tactics on a particular subject and just declares, as he did the other day over the issue of gay adoptions, that that's not why he's running for president. Huh??? In fairness, it was at least a better answer than his by-then-rote-repeated belief in "two-parent families." Um, uh, Senator McCranky, you do realize that these same-sex couples adopting children are, er, couples? And that every couple on God's green earth consists of two of whatever has been coupled?

(Parenthetical question: Is it absolutely essential that every serious presidential contender be able to count all the way up to two? Isn't there a secretary of arithmetic to deal with that higher math stuff like trigonometry and such?)

I guess what I'm trying to say here is, it's an exercise in futility giving serious attention to what we might call, with a wry smile, Senator McCranky's "positions." That's not what his presidential campaign is about. It's about . . . well, don't ask me. It's not as if it was my idea that he run for president.

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain," the Wizard of Oz exhorted when the jig was pretty well up. In the same spirit, Senator McCranky might advise us to pay no attention to the stuff coming out of his gaping piehole. Actually, isn't that what his campaign just told us?


And here's the good professor explaining it all in his inimitable fashion this year (at age 93!) at the Cutting Room in New York City.

From Wikipedia:

Dressed in seedy formal wear and sneakers, with his bushy hair sprouting in all directions, Corey would amble on stage in a preoccupied manner, then begin his monologue with "However..." He created a new style of doublespeak comedy; instead of making up nonsense words like "krelman" and "trilloweg," like other comics, the professor would season his speech with many long and florid, but authentic, words. The professor would then launch into nonsensical observations about anything under the sun, but seldom actually making sense. Changing topics suddenly, he would wander around the stage, pontificating all the while. His very quick wit allowed him to hold his own against the most stubborn straight man, heckler or interviewer.

Labels: , , , ,

A usual Bush stooge striking a blow against Big Bizniz greed and selfishness? For a change, we salute FCC Chairman Kevin Martin


FCC Chairman Kevin Martin (center) -- for once on the same side as his usual antagonists, Democratic commissioners Michael Copps (left) and Jonathan Adelstein (right) -- is under siege from the Bizniz Right.

by Ken

If you had asked me anytime before the past week, I would have said that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is a low-down weasel, exactly the sort of scum-sucking weasel you'd expect to be put at the helm of a regulatory commission under the Bush regime, in the tradition of Michael Powell. But now on one crucial issue he has actually separated himself from right-wingers' normal "whatever big bizniz wants is good for the rest of youse" philosophy and appears to be joining the two Democrats on the commission, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, in blowing the whistle on some corporate bad guys and striking a crucial blow for the ever-endangered concept of net neutrality.

And, naturally, the full wrath of the Bizniz Right is falling on poor Kevin, notably in the form of a blistering editorial in -- you guessed it -- the Wall Street Journal.

Our friend Matt Stoller of OpenLeft, an indefatigable crusader for net neutrality and the relatively open Internet it makes possible, writes in a post today, "When Republicans Get It Right: FCC Chair Kevin Martin": "I keep rereading the WSJ in disbelief. Literally everything in it is untrue or highly misleading."

Matt sets out the background:
Here's what's going. Some time ago, the cable giant Comcast began illegal blocking access its subscribers had to file sharing software in its first documented instance of violating net neutrality, or the principle that similar types of data on the internet be treated equally. We know that Comcast likes to censor -- it blocked ads critical of corrupt Democrat Chris Carney because they included criticism of Comcast contributions to Carney -- and we know that if it is not stopped, it will eventually shape the internet the way that China shapes the internet, for its own political and financial purposes. That's not an indictment of the company, incidentally, more of a recognition that powerful organizations that control communications networks and have content to sell have a business and political incentive to block alternate viewpoints and content.
To the surprise of, well, pretty much everybody, Chairman Martin has agreed with Democratic Commissioners Copps and Adelstein that Comcast had been caught red-handed doing something that is clearly forbidden and that the FCC has to step in. The fear now, though, is that, with a final vote on the question about to come up, our Kevin may need all the support he can get to withstand the unbridled fury of the Greed and Selfishness Establishment.

Matt is only too happy to take you through the astonishing tissue of fabrications and misrepresentations the WSJ has strung together; by all means check out his account. The key thng right now is to make sure that Chairman Martin and all concerned hear some loud outcry in support of the common-sense blow this unusual FCC majority seems poised to strike for fair access to the Internet.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Don't Count The Chickens...


by Noah

Georgia 2002. Ohio 2004. Numerous Congressional "elections" in 2006. Suspicious elections all. VERY suspicious. But, what of 2008? Have the books already been cooked? Before I proceed, I offer a disclaimer of sorts. I am not an Obama partisan. When it comes to making up my mind as to who I will vote for in November, I am a member of our country's largest party, the Disgruntled American Party. Obama has not won my vote yet. Rest assured, I don't have the bigotries of any kind that would qualify me for membership in the Republican or Libertarian parties, so that rules out McCranky or Barr. Nader? He was right about the Corvair Deathtub, "Unsafe At Any Speed" and all that, but, that was over 40 years ago. What has he done for me (and you) lately? Cynthia McKinney? Well, at least she has called for impeachment. The usurper in the people's White House has assaulted our Constitution, gravely. Everything we have is supposed to come from and start with The Constitution. That goes for the war. Bush musta been AWOL from school the day they taught that. So, with me, it's down to Obama or McKinney. Both have served in Congress, Obama in the Senate, McKinney in the House. Both took an oath to defend the Constitution. You can see my dilemma. Too bad Thom Hartmann isn't running. Obama's gonna have to sell me, not sell me out.

My agenda here is not about Obama first, it is about fair elections first, something we are having less and less of as the years go on and tactics get refined. You will notice that I didn't even bring up Florida, yet. I didn't have to. With one eye on the past, let's take a look with the other eye at what is going on right now and what may be happening in November. When I voted for John Kerry in 2004, he claimed that he would make sure all of the votes were counted. He didn't. I had held my nose and voted for what I feared I was voting for, an insincere charlatan. When the votes weren't counted in New Mexico and Ohio, all of our votes, regardless of who we voted for, were dishonored.

Things are allowed to happen in our voting system that corrupt our voting system. In fact, they are encouraged and enabled. Here's a small list of some of what's going on right now. It's a list of what the Repugs have been up to in order to give themselves four more years in the White House so the top 1% of the economic ladder can tell the bottom 99% to go to hell or eat cake or something like that. That would even include millions of non-one percenters who would vote Repug in defiance of their own interests and those of their own families. The current machinations represent the best of the known Repug efforts at rigging the 2008 election and stepping up their war, not the one in Iraq, but the one here at home on the middle class, the lower class, and The Constitution.

Do you think Karl Rove has been on vacation since leaving the White House? While we're focusing on the Big Oil's war to steal oil in Iraq, our democracy and our freedoms are being stolen at home. One way to do it is to concentrate on rigging the vote in the swing states that Obama will probably need to win in November. How? 1) How about housing foreclosures that are the result of Repug economic policies? You just might need a legal residence to vote. In Nevada and Ohio, a law is sweeping tens of thousands of foreclosure victims off of the voter rolls. Who is most likely to have their home foreclosed? Repug policies do more than just hurt your bank account and raise the price of gas. They also take away your freedoms and your way of life more efficiently than any middle eastern extremist group. 2) Remember how in 2000 in Florida, a sleazeball Bush groupie named Katherine Harris hired contractors to bump people off the rolls just for having a certain kind of "funny name", a name that wasn't likely to belong to a fellow Repug? You know, a name that might begin or end with a vowel, or a name that was similar to someone not named Bush who had once committed a felony. In New Mexico, according to investigative and BBC reporter Greg Palast, half of a dirt poor Hispanic community named Mora have found their legal registrations disappeared into thin air by Repug contractors. It's Florida all over again, but now it's being done to such an extent that hanging chads won't even enter into it. 3) Also according to Palast, in Colorado, the Repug Secretary of State has conducted the biggest purge of voters in history, one fifth of all registrations. They just happen to be in black neighborhoods. The party of Lincoln may have freed black people but they still don't want them to vote. In 2004 in Ohio, the Repug Secretary of State just made sure there weren't enough voting machines in black areas. Now, the Repugs take it a little further. They take away your right to vote and don't provide a voting machine! Sound fair to you? 4) And how about Florida? The Cesspool State! 85,000 new legal registrations, overwhelmingly black, gone into one of the state's famous sinkholes. It's no coincidence that Florida more closely resembles a Latin American dictatorship than the American ideal.

I haven't even discussed voting machine tampering. We live in a country where people are told by a jiveass media that a paper trail for their precinct voting machine is not possible, and, we buy it! Then, they go to the nearest ATM and get a receipt for their transaction. We all know the stories about DieBold and their ilk. That will be a factor, too. 2008 will also be about more than the RNC hiring Sproul & Associates to shred Democrat registrations in six battleground states. It will be about more than the party that claims to support the troops not sending them a ballot, or, having the Pentagon shut down their registration web site. As a Repug idol, Joseph Stalin once said, "It's not who votes but who COUNTS the votes". In 2008, in the USA, one party is having it both ways. Give the Repugs credit for being more efficient than the Commies. This is what happens when you don't have legislative oversight. This is what we get when Bush buddies like Nancy Pelosi take impeachment off the table.

Where are the Democrats on these matters? I'll tell you where. They are either accomplices in their own demise or willing partners in show elections. You end up with elections that are almost as much as a farce as those old elections in the USSR where millions all voted for Khrushchev and no one voted for the other guy. The Commies did it with a complicit state media, Pravda and TASS. Have you heard anything about all of this from our so called mainstream media (MSM)? Have you ever heard that two election officials in Ohio, smaller fish than the main culprits but slippery slimey ones just the same, one an Elections Coordinator, and one a Ballot Manager (gotta love the titles!) are serving time for their roles in the corruption of 2004? Of course not. We may have more media outlets, but the story is the same. Even calling it "mainstream media" is a misnomer intended to deceive. It's Repug media, folks, whether it's openly anti-Obama assclowns like Lush Slimebaugh, Sean Insanity, George Stepinpoopalot, Corporate News Network, Faux News, USA Toadie, the New York Times lying about there being "no evidence of vote theft," the Washington Post declaring that allegations of fraud are "conspiracy theories," or whomever, you'd get more factual news if you just sent your newspaper to thirdworlders to use for toilet paper and disconnected the cable and watched the snow on your screen.

What to do? First triple check and verify that you are indeed registered to vote. You may think you are, but, you don't want to be surprised when it's too late. There's only one possible way for Obama to win. I said to friends, in 2004, that for Senator Kerry to win, Americans would have to vote for him in overwhelming landslide proportions just to offset the DieBold style tampering and voter roll ethnic cleansing so Kerry could come out with a narrow victory. The same is even more true this time around. At least, the Dems have a better candidate this time, but the Repugs have gotten more thorough and more sophisticated. Pay no attention to the polls, Rove's dream of totalitarian one fascist party rule in the United States is still very much alive. Obama may have a lead in the national polls, but, it's state by state that's where the action is, and, if you examine the polls individually by state, we're currently in for a close election even without the rigging. It's all about the Electoral College again. We've come a long way from the dead rising up and voting for JFK in Chicago in 1960. That was child's play, and, in fact, didn't actually alter the end result. Only a pro-Obama turnout the likes of which has never been seen before will win the day for a democratic presidency. My state, New York, will probably go for Obama no matter what. Are you sure about yours?

Labels: , ,

New York Republicrat Jack Davis Accused Of Bribing Independence Party Officials To Get Their Election Line In November


It took Ted Stevens decades to get into the swing of accepting bribes from big companies in return for special legislative favors. Jack Davis isn't even waiting to get elected to get into the swing of things. In New York, Republican Jack Davis, may have switched parties in a fit of spoiled rage when Dick Cheney refused to meet with him, but his heart and soul-- or whatever right-wingers have instead of them-- are as Republican as Karl Rove's. Immediately after being thrown out of a Republican fundraiser-- he had donated $2,000-- Davis declared that he was a Democrat and, in revenge, ran for Congress against Tom Reynolds in 2004. Fined by the FEC for campaign irregularities, he poured $1.2 million of his own wealth into the race. He managed to get 44% of the vote and ran again in 2006 campaigning on a platform of hateful xenophobia. In that race he also managed to buy himself the nomination of the Independence Party (for a cool million dollars). And that brings us to why you're reading about Jack Davis today.

Apparently he decided to get himself the Independence Party nomination on the cheap this year. He's challenging Jon Powers for the Democratic nomination and Powers is expected to win handily against the very disliked Davis, regardless of all the money he's pumping into the race. His threat to run on the Independent line would give him the opportunity to wreak havoc on the electoral process in November. So, it appears, he set out to buy it again, although in a more direct way than last time. He's been surreptitiously paying off the wives of the Independence Party county chairmen. Like I said, the man changed his party registration but he's still a Republican at heart.

According to today's Buffalo News Davis has been bribing Independence Party officials through their wives.
Democratic congressional hopeful Jack Davis paid $5,000 each to the wives of the Monroe and Erie county party chairmen. Davis paid $5,000 to the wife of Monroe County Independence Chairman Rafael Colon (using her maiden name of Blanca Semidey) and $5,000 to a new corporation based in Florida and headed by Judith Orsini, wife of Erie County Independence Chairman Tony Orsini.

Davis and Orsini said the payments were for legitimate "consulting services."

After the story ran, Monroe's Independence leaders tried for eight days to track down Colon. According to interim Chairman Walter Schiemann, when Colon finally did acknowledge their calls, the leaders demanded his resignation for taking a "bribe."

"It's definitely a bribe-- absolutely," he told The News in a story published Tuesday.

Jon Powers is going to need all the help he can get to fight off this free-spending Republican disguised as a Democrat. He has been busy putting up fake Rovian web sites to slander Powers. Please consider donating to his campaign-- right here on our Blue America ActBlue page.


Labels: , , ,

Rumblings In Pakistan Don't Sound Sweet


Will Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani be flying one of the upgraded F-16's?

1969: I had just spent a long time in Afghanistan and I was on my way to India. There's really only one way to go-- thru the Khyber Pass. It may sound romantic and hearken back to childhood stories of Gunga Din but, let me tell you, once you leave Jalalabad, it's pretty hairy right up until you get to Peshawar. And, I promise you, those are two of the scariest cities you are unlikely to ever visit. But between them is basically Pashtunistan, a tribal no man's land that recognizes no international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Earlier this week, Bush joined right in in not recognizing the international border either and, with or without the tacit support of the Pakistani government, the U.S. conducted a missile strike into South Waziristan, a bit south of the parts of Pakistan I had to drive through to get to India (almost 40 years before Bush launched his missiles).

Did you know we attacked another country with missiles and killed at least a dozen people? I didn't until a few days ago when I heard on the radio that Bush was urging Congress to allow him to use funds Congress had granted Pakistan to fight terrorists for upgrading advanced fighter jets. It made me suspicious. I knew the Indians would freak out and the Afghans would get up tight. So I figured Bush must have been trading the jet upgrades for the right to attack al Qaeda targets in western Pakistan, in what's called the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, districts along the Afghan border with around 3 million people only nominally under the control of the Pakistani government and, more realistically, under the control of the Taliban.

Apparently they were aiming for a senior al Qaeda official, Abu Khabab Masri, and supposedly killed him.
The Pakistani military, as is its custom, denied knowledge of the missile strike and whether it had been carried out by the United States. American attacks inside Pakistan are highly sensitive politically.

One U.S. official familiar with the incident said the Pentagon was not involved and that "it was an agency-run op all the way," a reference to the CIA. The agency had no comment.

A U.S. counter-terrorism official in Washington said that Masri, whose given name is Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, was believed dead. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

"There is indeed a sense that he's gone," said the counter-terrorism official. "This guy not only had knowledge that was dangerous but did dangerous things with it," added the official, who described Masri as a longtime Al Qaeda specialist in poisons and explosives.

The attack came on the day that Pakistani Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gillani was meeting President Bush [and Barack Obama] in Washington. In the past, Pakistani authorities have sometimes aided in or carried out the reported capture or killing of a senior Islamic militant at around the time of such meetings.

But another, senior American official said that, in this case, the strike was a "strictly unilateral" one by the U.S. without any assistance from Pakistan. It was merely coincidental that it overlapped with Gillani's visit, the official said.

Many members of Congress are as pissed off as the Indians are about the U.S. shifting nearly a quarter billion dollars in counterterrorism funds to upgrading F-16 attack jets that have nothing to do with fighting terrorists and everything to do with India-Pakistan hostilities. Some members of Congress, unaware that Bush was planning an attack on militants inside Pakistan, assumed the money was to ease tensions over the 11 members of the Pakistani paramilitary forces killed in an American airstrike in the area last month. Cheekily, Bush is claiming that the F-16's will be used to fight terrorists. They never have been before. It's just another on the long list of actions Nancy Pelosi will make sure he isn't impeached for. Patrick Leahy and Congresswoman Nita Lowey are going through the motions of demanding an explanation.

This morning's NY Times is reporting that the CIA is wigging out over continued ties between Pashtun militants (that's the Taliban) and the ISI (which is the Pakistani CIA). The deputy director of the CIA went to Islamabad to confront the new government with proof that the ISI is actively supporting the militants.
The C.I.A. emissary presented evidence showing that members of the spy service had deepened their ties with some militant groups that were responsible for a surge of violence in Afghanistan, possibly including the suicide bombing this month of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, the officials said.

The decision to confront Pakistan with what the officials described as a new C.I.A. assessment of the spy service’s activities seemed to be the bluntest American warning to Pakistan since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks about the ties between the spy service and Islamic militants.

The C.I.A. assessment specifically points to links between members of the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, which American officials believe maintains close ties to senior figures of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The C.I.A. has depended heavily on the ISI for information about militants in Pakistan, despite longstanding concerns about divided loyalties within the Pakistani spy service, which had close relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Interviewed by Jim Lehrer on PBS, Prime Minister Gilani said there are no links between the ISI and the Pashtun militants. He said "We would not allow that.” Congress hasn't agreed to those planes yet; I wonder if Bush is just going ahead with it anyway. No one can access how much power Gilani has over the ISI, although it isn't likely to be very much.
Over the weekend, the government announced a major change in the chain of command for Pakistan's most powerful spy agency-- but then reversed the directive 24 hours later.

The government issued a statement late Saturday, as Gillani was en route to Washington, saying that Inter-Services Intelligence, which is commanded by a senior military officer, would begin reporting directly to the civilian Interior Ministry.

But after what Pakistani press reports described as furious protests the following day from senior military and intelligence officials, the order was canceled.

The ISI, sometimes described as a state within a state, helped arm and organize the Taliban in the 1990s.

Labels: , , ,

Ted Stevens Was Sharing His Bribes With Most Of The Republicans In The Senate And Most Of Them Are Refusing To Give The Tainted Money Back


If they weren't so venal-- and so adapt at taking very good care of themselves-- you might feel sorry for Republican members of Congress. Here they have been spending all month worrying if voters are going to connect the dots between massive campaign "contributions" from Big Oil (almost a quarter billion dollars since 1990-- 75% of it to Republicans, most of the rest to the Republican wing of the Democratic Party) and the policies that brought on, at least in part, the high gasoline prices. But with the threat still looming that the Democrats might actually expose them by helping voters connect those dots, suddenly there's a new challenge facing them: massive donations of VECO bribes that Stevens spread around the Republican caucus. So far none only a few of the GOP senators who took the tainted money have agreed to give it back.

And Stevens has been quite the little money launderer. He's donated a cool $725,000 directly to the NRSC so they'd be able to pay for their little operations, like stealing the 2002 New Hampshire Senate race for John Sununu. But he's also been handing out VECO and other tainted funds all across the corrupt party. This year alone some of the beneficiaries of Stevens' shady Northern Lights PAC have included:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN- $10,000)
John Barrasso (R-WY- $10,000)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA- $10,000)
Norm Coleman (R-MN- $10,000)
Susan Collins (R-ME- $10,000)
John Cornyn (R-TX- $5,000)
Elizabeth Dole (R-NC- $10,000)
James Inhofe (R-OK- $9,000)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY- $20,000)
Pat Roberts (R-KS- $10,000) + $5,000 more to Roberts' Preserving America's Tradition's PAC
Gordon Smith (R-OR- $10,000)
John Sununu (R-NH- $10,000)
Roger Wicker (R-MS- $5,000)
Don Young (R-AK- $10,000)

Over the years, Stevens has redistributed immense sums of money-- bribes-- to Republicans. Now they don't want to give the money back, of course. Yeseterday, Tom Allen's campaign let Maine newspapers know that $20,000 has gone into Susan Collins' coffers, although she kicked back $5,000 to Stevens. That seems to be a pattern with him. He gives some of his ill-gotten gains to other Republicans and then they give part of it back to him. In guess this is perfectly acceptable in Washington, where these crooks make their own incredibly lax rules.

Yesterday afternoon Jeff Merkley pointed out that over the years Stevens has doled out $39,000 to Gordon Smith. Merkley isn't asking Smith to return the tainted money to Stevens (who needs it for his legal defense team); he's asking him "to donate the money to charities to help provide health insurance to Oregon children." Smith refused at first but when Merkley pounding him he finally agreed to turn over a small portion of the tainted dough. Meanwhile Smith has taken more than $300,000 in campaign contributions from oil and gas interests, while delivering $18 billion in tax giveaways for oil companies and opposing measures to end excessive speculation on oil prices. I doubt he'll give any of that back.

And what about Collins, Sununu, Cornyn, Coleman and the rest of the crooks? Yesterday Jim Slattery pointed out that Stevens and his crooked PAC "donated $19,785 to Kansas Senator Pat Roberts. In 2005, Roberts voted in favor of Steven's wasteful $230 million 'Bridge to Nowhere' in Alaska.
"This is precisely the reason why so many people are sick and tired of old Washington politics," Slattery said. "After 40 years in Washington, Roberts is willing to take money from a friend and then vote in favor of that friend's pet project.

"Kansans deserve better," Slattery said. "Kansans deserve a senator who will put their needs ahead of those in Alaska."

Slattery called for Roberts to donate the money to charity.

"As chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, Roberts should immediately donate an amount equal to the contributions he received from Stevens to a local charity."

Roberts has refused to give up a dime. Ditto for James Inhofe, who has also been part of this money laundering scheme and won't divest himself of any of it.


In fact, Stevens wasn't even the biggest VECO bribe taker; Alaska's one House member, Don Young, was. He's also under investigation. And #3 was Senator Lisa Murkowski, also of Alaska, who is from a notoriously corrupt political family. #4 was Bush and #5 is Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the only Democrat aggressively defending Stevens and shrilly and hysterically insisting that Stevens is innocent. Here's the whole list of who took what (of donations of at least $1,000):

Don Young (R-AK- $190,530)
Ted Stevens (R-AK- $102,500)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK- $42,250)
George W. Bush (R- $20,050)
Daniel Inouye (D-HI- $13,000)
Norm Coleman (D-MN- $7,000)
Richard Burr (R-NC- $6,000)
Tom Coburn (R-OK- $6,000)
Jim DeMint (R-SC- $6,000)
John Sununu (R-NH- $6,000)
John Thune (R-SD- $6,000)
David Diapers Vitter (R-LA- $6,000)
Kit Bond (R-MO- $4,516)
Arlen Specter (R-PA- $4,000)
George Voinovich (R-OH- $3,750)
John Ensign (R-NV- $2,000)
Steve Pearce (R-NM- $1,000)
Jon Porter (R-NV- $1,000)
Dennis Rehberg (R-MT- $1,000)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Americans Lost 2.3 Million Jobs To China During The Bush Years-- But Not All The Fault Lies With The GOP


A couple days ago I was thinking about screwed up "free" trade agreements and writing about screwed up "free" trade agreements and how the big political contributors were able to buy off the entire Republican Party-- and the not insubstantial Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- and get them to just trample on American workers. It took a Republican like Nixon to open up China and it took a Democrat like Clinton to pass NAFTA and head us down the road to ruin.

This evening's NY Times is reporting that between 2001 and 2007 approximately 2.3 million Americans lost their jobs because of Republican trade policies towards China. That whole period was Bush's term but I don't blame Bush alone. Bush deserves plenty of blame, of course, but so does his party and so do the Democrats who adhere to his party's tenets.
Even when they found new jobs, workers displaced by job loss to China saw their earnings decrease by an average of $8,146 each year because the new jobs paid less, according to the report, funded in part by labor unions.

"This report is groundbreaking because it shows the extent of damage caused by Chinese cheating," said Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which helped fund research for the report by EPI, a left-leaning Washington think tank.

"(We hope) it will help to focus the debate on trade to where it needs to be right now with respect to China," Paul said, noting that free trade is shaping up as a major issue in the November presidential election, especially in closely fought battleground states like Ohio.

U.S. manufacturers, labor unions and many lawmakers have long accused China of manipulating its currency to give Chinese companies an unfair advantage in international trade, and are pressing China to continue to allow the yuan to rise against the U.S. dollar to help level the playing field.

...The EPI report showed more than two-thirds of the jobs displaced by China trade deficits were in manufacturing and more than half came from the top half of the U.S. wage distribution. U.S. factory jobs typically pay well and include health insurance coverage and retirement benefits.

The manufacturing sectors hit hardest by the trade deficit with China included computers and electronics, apparel and fabricated metal products. Service sectors like administrative support services and professional, scientific and technical services also saw large job displacement because of the China trade deficit, EPI said.

Contrary to popular belief, jobs lost to China were not necessarily low-skilled, the report showed. Thirty-one percent of the jobs lost were among workers with college degrees.

So what are we going to do about it? Continue to bend over and hold our ankles and moan and complain? Well, if you're not a die-hard Republican, there is an alternative. First keep in mind that Obama is campaigning on some rationale trade restrictions-- "fair trade not free trade"-- while McBush has stubbornly clung to "free" trade as a way for America to win new markets and "stay" competitive. But beyond that, it is crucial to know who the sell-outs are in both parties. Basically, you can count on almost every single Republican as being ready and willing to sell out American working families-- always. And Democrats? Rahm Emanuel led the bloody and vicious battle to deliver enough Democrats so that Clinton would get his accursed NAFTA agreements. He's at the top of the Democratic Party congressional caucus for his efforts and he aims at being Speaker. He must be stopped.

And then there are the Blue Dogs and other reactionary, bribe-taking Democrats who vote with the Republicans on trade issues. Who? Here are some of the worst of the worst:

Brian Baird (D-WA)
John Barrow (D-GA)
Melissa Bean (D-IL)
Howard Berman (D-CA)
Marion Berry (D-AR)
Allen Boyd (D-FL)
Jim Clyburn (D-SC)
Jim Cooper (D-TN)
Henry Cuellar (D-TX)
Artur Davis (D-AL)
Lincoln Davis (D-TN)
Norm Dicks (D-WA)
Chet Edwards (D-TX)
Brad Ellsworth (D-IN)
Eliot Engel (D-NY)
Bob Etheridge (D-NC)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Bart Gordon (D-TN)
Jane Harman (D-CA)
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD)
Baron Hill (D-IN)
Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX)
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Steven Israel (D-NY)
William Jefferson (D-LA)
Ron Kind (D-WI)
Nick Lampson (D-TX)
Tim Mahoney (D-FL)
Jim Matheson (D-UT)
Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
Charlie Melancon (D-LA)
Harry Mitchell (D-AZ)
Dennis Moore (D-KS)
Jim Moran (D-VA)
Solomon Ortiz (D-TX)
Earl Pomeroy (D-ND)
Silvestre Reyes (D-TX)
Mike Ross (D-AR)
John Salazar (D-CO)
Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Ike Skelton (D-MO)
Adam Smith (D-WA)
Vic Snyder (D-AR)
John Tanner (D-TN)
Ellen Tauscher (D-CA)
Edophous Towns (D-NY)
Mark Udall (D-CO)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)

And now you know-- the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. They helped the Republicans lose 2.3 million jobs on the alter of mindless, ideological corporate avarice. I'd never vote for a Republican and I'd never vote for any of these treacherous Democrats either.

Labels: , , , , ,