Easter Lemming Liberal News

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Islamic Conservatives are worse than our religious conservatives

MEMRI TV:Interviewer: Some people say that Ghada Jamshir is a Sunni, and that this is why she is leading the battle against (mut'ah) marriages, which are authorized by religious law among the Shiites.>/p>

Ghada Jamshir: Authorized by religious law?!

Interviewer: Among the Shiites, yes.

Ghada Jamshir: Does the Islamic Shari'a authorize mut'ah marriages? Does the Islamic Shari'a authorize mut'ah according to the following classification: "Pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs." They have: "Pleasure from sexual touching." "pleasure from sexual contact with her breasts." "Pleasure from a little girl." Do you know what "pleasure from a little girl" means? It means that they derive sexual pleasure from a girl aged two, three, or four.

Interviewer: Let's not go into details...

Ghada Jamshir: Let me tell you what "Pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs" means...

Interviewer: Don't give me the details...

DeLay's Charity mostly funded by accused criminal lobbyist clients

The records, other documents and interviews call into question the very purpose of the U.S. Family Network, which functioned mostly by collecting funds from domestic and foreign businesses whose interests coincided with DeLay's activities while he was serving as House majority whip from 1995 to 2002, and as majority leader from 2002 until the end of September.

After the group was formed in 1996, its director told the Internal Revenue Service that its goal was to advocate policies favorable for "economic growth and prosperity, social improvement, moral fitness, and the general well-being of the United States." DeLay, in a 1999 fundraising letter, called the group "a powerful nationwide organization dedicated to restoring our government to citizen control" by mobilizing grass-roots citizen support.

But the records show that the tiny U.S. Family Network, which never had more than one full-time staff member, spent comparatively little money on public advocacy or education projects. Although established as a nonprofit organization, it paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to Buckham and his lobbying firm, Alexander Strategy Group.
A blockbuster story from the Washington Post that is tracking the money that flowed into DeLay's charity. Most of this money came from his previously described manufacturing friends in American Samoa where DeLay pushed legislation that enabled them to keep wages low, contract laborers abused, and a "Made in the USA" stamp on foreign manufactured goods. New is that a million dollars apparently came from Russian oil company millionaires eager to get DeLay to help with an IMF loan. A lot of Abramoff's sleazy Indian tribe extorted money also wound up in the charity. The report also answers the question of how this charity money donations got back into DeLay's hands with no family members working directly for the charity. The charity spend huge amounts with a PR firm and the PR firm hired his wife. There is much more here like one of the main purposes of the charity was to defeat Democratic candidates and apparently provide cheap housing for DeLay fundraising.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Massive Covert CIA Program Continues to Grow

"Everything is done in the name of self-defense, so they can do anything because nothing is forbidden in the war powers act," said one official who was briefed on the CIA's original cover program and who is skeptical of its legal underpinnings. "It's an amazing legal justification that allows them to do anything," said the official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issues.

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DeLay gets powerful GOP challenger

If Republicans were smart he would be a shoo-in. Of course, these Republican conservatives aren't smart as a local blogger demonstrates with some belittling snarky remarks taking a break from dissing Blacks, So-called liberal media, Asians and the Houston Metro and the Chronicle (too numerous to link).

Thursday, December 29, 2005

British torture memos put the big lie to the coalition spreading Freedom and Democracy

Daily Kos: The US marriage of convenience with Uzebekistan, perhaps the most repressive regime in the world, gives lies to all the bullshit post-WMD justifications for invading Iraq ("evil regime" and all that jazz). Among other atrocities, Uzbekistan boils its dissidents alive. And no, that's not from Amnesty International or other "do-gooder" organization, but from the State Department's 2004 human rights report.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Molly Ivins - Impeach Deja Vu

>Big Brother Bush - The first time this happened, the institutional response was magnificent. The courts, the press, the Congress all functioned superbly. Anyone think we're up to that again? Then whom do we blame when we lose the republic?

A dose of religion for the season

Pacific Views: Why Huck Finn is better than Left Behind. - originally from the slacktivist

Huck had a choice in the book to turn his friend Jim in for being a runaway slave. Huck had been taught that not only did his society laws demand this but this was also a religious commandment. In order to be a good American and a good Christian he had a duty to turn Jim in. After tremendous debate with himself he says "All right, then, I'll go to Hell." He had chosen to protect Jim from years of misery at the price he believed of an eternity in Hell. (Yeah Huck!) This is one of the greatest scenes or lessons about morality in literature.

By contrast, the entire Left Behind series is about how some self-centered people run around to try to escape Hellfire when they have been warned unmistakably it's coming real soon now. I think most people and the authors relish it for the scenes of mass destruction of atheists, liberals and all of their favorite baddies.
The evangelistic impulse at its best is, like Huck, motivated by a concern for others. But in the twisted world of LB, the evangelistic impulse has nothing to do with empathy. It becomes, instead, a way to justify, and revel in, the destruction and damnation of others. L&J and their heroes are, like Jonah, willing to preach the good news to the Ninevites, but only because, like Jonah, they are hoping to see that city destroyed by fire and brimstone. - Fred Clark
I also have another post on Notebook which also concerns morality and religion and literature.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Obsessed Headhunters of the Right
James Wolcott: Headhunters: "I don't know you've ever ventured into the subterranean underworld that is LGF's comments section, but it's sort of like a disorganized Nuremberg Rally, a lot of angry ruffians with nowhere to go lacking something better to do. "

Monday, December 26, 2005

Country divided on warrantless wiretaps but a solution?

Florida Today readers are an example of the division.

The CBS legal analysis goto guy says the president has only one option to avoid congressional hearings - take it to court.
There is only one noble path now for the president to take. He should immediately order the executive branch itself to go into federal court seeking a declaratory ruling on the constitutionality of his domestic surveillance program. If the White House is as confident about the legitimacy of the program as it claims there should be no fear that the federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court, ultimately will find that a president's war powers under the Constitution include the power to spy on his own citizens without a warrant despite the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against the practice. A ruling in favor of the White House would immediately stymie any legislative effort to limit the president's power.
This may be the correct answer, although even he noted that a federal judge who is a supporter of the President in very strong language rebuked the administration for jerking the court system around on the Padilla case. It is also noteable that the President was making speeches to "affirmatively lie" about his actions.

Limited posts until next year.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Thinking about an Anti-New York Times resolution

Vote on New York Times Boycott

I know it is now past midnight and so Christmas Day and I should be resting for the busy day but all of this Fascist stuff has just come to a head. And of course it comes when I am trying to be on Christmas break.

And it is not just this administration, although the audacity of Bush and his defenders is stunning. It is some of the reactions of the main stream media, the so-called liberal media.

How to take and what to do about the fact the New York Times knew about this, and knew about this before the last election, and they held the story.

This staggers belief. They had the Super-Echelon story a year ago and decided that direct and extensive and repeated violations of the Constitution was not a story worth running.

OK, I know there are National Security implications, but aren't there always going to be national security implications now that Bush has promoted a policy of endless war on terror? Did they ask how serious the implications were, how grave the violations of the law were? No, they completely covered it up right before people were to decide if this man, this administration, were capable and honest enough "to preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States of America."

Finding out after the election that they refused to run a story on Bush cheating at the debates by wearing a wire is mild by comparison. Although the combination of these two show where their sympathies lie despite their editorial pages.

I think this is outrageous and something must be done.

What I am doing....

I don't pay for the New York Times or their online access. The only benefit I give my readers, and it is only around 1,000 page views a week, are links to the significant New York Times stories of the day. (They are the RSS permanent links which is an advantage compared to many sources.)

I can stop linking to this paper which doesn't recognize a constitutional crisis when it bites them in the ass and seems determined to support this regime no matter what.

My limited action - a boycott.

There will be no links from me to the New York Times. If it is an important story I will link to someone else's discussion of the story or someone's re-posting. I will not go to the New York Times pages and will discourage others from doing so.

I will start my boycott immediately and on New Year's Day will decide if and when the New York Times will get more traffic from me.

Go here for more discussion and vote - is the New York Times a danger to the Constitution?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Friday, December 23, 2005

On Christmas Break

Not sure when this will resume.

'The Office' - Homeland Security

Department's Mission Was Undermined From Start
Some of the decisions were almost random. Falkenrath thought it would be nice to give the new department a research lab that could bring cutting-edge research to homeland security problems. He called up a friend and asked which of the three Department of Energy labs would work. "He goes, 'Livermore.' And I'm like, 'All right. See you later.' Click," Falkenrath told historians from the Naval Postgraduate School. He did not realize that he had just decided to give the new department a thermonuclear weapon simulator, among other highly sensitive assets of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Joel Osteen's wife removed from plane for creating disturbance

A dispute that involved the wife of Houston's most famous pastor, Joel Osteen, and a Continental Airlines flight attendant ended up delaying a flight for hours Monday. The Osteens run the largest church in the nation, so passengers on a Continental flight were shocked Monday when Mrs. Osteen was removed from that flight after a disturbance.

"She violently ran towards the cockpit, scaring everyone around her," said passenger Knicky Van Slyke. "Everyone was terrified about what was going on. And a bunch of flight attendants ran up and had to restrain her. She was banging on the door."

"Of the cockpit?" we asked.


Victoria Osteen claims it was a minor misunderstanding in a letter posted on the Lakewood website..

However, FBI Special Agent Luz Garcia has said that the Osteens were asked to leave the jetliner after "an altercation."

Garcia also said that Victoria Osteen "failed to comply" with instructions from a flight attendant.

The incident apparently stemmed from a spilled liquid on Osteen's seat in the first class section of the airplane.

OK, pre-Rapture jitters, millionairess temper tamtrum or she was afraid she'd melt my pretties?

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Finding a few coins buried in a mountain of manure

Cities are more liberal than rural areas. They are also smarter and better connected with the world. Part of GOP power is the over representation of rural conservative areas in the political arena. Part of the GOP gains have to do with the decline of the inner cities and the rise of suburbia. Radio media dominates rural America and that was where the GOP first got a mass media machine.

Now do any thinking about what all that means and you will have a better analysis than this guy - Density Is Destiny: On Politics and the Paperboy.

Trent Lott Running for Frist's Job

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Bush and his advisers have "dealt themselves out" of congressional negotiations by refusing to compromise.

Party support in Senate erodes around Frist
Senator Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican who lost the leader's post to Frist, said the GOP leader needed to be tougher on his colleagues to deliver the president's priorities. "The leader has to be prepared to roll people," Lott said. Asked whether Frist was doing that, Lott said, "No."

Lott and others said Frist's presidential ambitions are complicating his role as leader.

CNN.com - Limits to power

Would you rather feel safe and less free? Or free, but in more danger?

Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin said, "I can't imagine a more shocking example of an abuse of power, to eavesdrop on an American citizen without first getting a court order based on some evidence that they are possibly criminals, terrorists or spies." Giving up values like "freedom, justice, and privacy," he said, plays into the hands of terrorists. On the other hand, Republican Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi told the Washington Post, "I don't agree with the libertarians. I want my security first. I'll deal with all the details after that."

Where do you stand?

It's Democratic Week at Newsweek

I had noticed before that Newsweek alternates every week which side it wants to support. It's Democrats this week as they ask Where's the Outrage over Bush and compare him to Botha in South Africa.

Fineman expects 2006 to be all about the I-word.

Although Fineman as usual is more conservative than the other reporters and here is simply making an obvious observation:
We are entering a dark time in which the central argument advanced by each party is going to involve accusing the other party of committing what amounts to treason. Democrats will accuse the Bush administration of destroying the Constitution; Republicans will accuse the Dems of destroying our security.
Typically he is much more snarky toward Democrats but you can't tell that to the Republicans. Howard Fineman for years lead a Newsweek effort to find some dirt, any dirt, on the Clintons.

Live Poll, (dead now): Should Bush be impeached? Yes 85%

I know this is just an internet poll but wow!

New Anti-Torture measure has so many loopholes it may make problems worse

The Graham-Levin amendment restricts detainees’ access to the judicial system, potentially permits the use of evidence obtained through abusive tactics, and provides certain protections to CIA personnel who violate the ban.

The judicial restrictions prohibit detainees from directly challenging the legality of their detentions in US courts. This upends a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2004 that enabled Guantánamo detainees to file claims of wrongful imprisonment.

Why Mommy is a Democrat

Why are you so good Mommy? "Why Mommy is a Democrat brings to life the core values of the Democratic party in ways that young children will easily understand and thoroughly enjoy. Using plain and non-judgmental language, along with warm and whimsical illustrations, this colorful 28-page paperback depicts the Democratic principles of fairness, tolerance, peace, and concern for the well-being of others. It's a great way for parents to gently communicate their commitment to these principles and explain their support for the party."

With numerous subtle (and not so subtle) satirical swipes at the Bush administration and the Republican Party it will appeal to Democrats of all ages.

Conservatives don't like this book "- cuz Mommy likes nuts in her mouth" but prefer Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed! recommended by Grover Norquist.

The End of News?

The New York Review of Books: The End of News?

The conservative columnist William Safire, usually a supporter of Bush's policies, complained last September that "the fundamental right of Americans, through our free press, to penetrate and criticize the workings of our government is under attack as never before."

But the campaign against the press is only partly a result of a hostile White House. The administration's efforts have been amplified by a disciplined and well-organized news and opinion campaign directed by conservatives and the Christian right. This well-funded network includes newsletters, think tanks, and talk radio as well as cable television news and the Internet. Often in cooperation with the White House, these outlets have launched a systematic campaign to discredit what they refer to disparagingly as "MSM," for mainstream media. More....
Part 2 - The Press: The Enemy Within

In a previous article, I described many of the external pressures besetting journalists today, including a hostile White House, aggressive conservative critics, and greedy corporate owners. Here, I will concentrate on the press's internal problems—not on its many ethical and professional lapses, which have been extensively discussed elsewhere, but rather on the structural problems that keep the press from fulfilling its responsibilities to serve as a witness to injustice and a watchdog over the powerful. To some extent, these problems consist of professional practices and proclivities that inhibit reporting —a reliance on "access," an excessive striving for "balance," an uncritical fascination with celebrities. Equally important is the increasing isolation of much of the profession from disadvantaged Americans and the difficulties they face. Finally, and most significantly, there's the political climate in which journalists work. Today's political pressures too often breed in journalists a tendency toward self-censorship, toward shying away from the pursuit of truths that might prove unpopular, whether with official authorities or the public....

Of all the internal problems confronting the press, the reluctance to venture into politically sensitive matters, to report disturbing truths that might unsettle and provoke, remains by far the most troubling.

TM - Hurt? Injured? Need a Lawyer? Too Bad!

Great article on the Texans for Lawsuit Reform "rich snots" in the Texas Monthly. In order to become "rich snots" themselves Texas Monthly has limited the article to subscribers. But this is the Internet age and Homeowners for Better Building thought it's members deserved a look under the "fair use" educational doctrine. -
Hurt? Injured? Need a Lawyer? Too Bad!

Two years ago, rich and powerful Texans said lawsuits were ruining the stateÂ?s economy and needed to be fairer. Today, thanks to tort reform, they are fairer - for business. Ordinary people are out of luck....
Texans For Lawsuit reform after not providing good examples of why this reform was needed for the original article first fired back with a 28 item attempted rebuttal. When through an accidental email they learned trial lawyers were going to counter their claims they replaced it with a smaller response with more general attacks and a lot of impugning the motives and ethics of Texas Monthly.

My take - lawsuit reform as presently enacted is an attempt to place limits on damages for pain and suffering and the non-economic value of a human life - good.

It decided a human life and any pain and suffering is worth a maximum of $250,000 - bad. Originally the debate was over a value between one million and two million. When they found the general public wasn't interested in the debate and could care less unless they knew someone affected the amount got dropped. How much do you think a human life is worth - maximum?

Grossclose and Milyo Media Bias Study debunked

Media Matters - Former fellows at conservative think tanks issued dubious and flawed UCLA-led study on media's "liberal bias"
Any quantitative study of this sort must take a complex idea -- in this case, "bias" -- and operationalize it into something that can be measured. But given its rather odd operationalization of "bias," it is perhaps unsurprising that the study's scheme leads to some categorizations no observer -- on the right or the left -- could take seriously...

Although the authors seem completely unaware of it, in reality there have been dozens of rigorous quantitative studies on media bias and hundreds of studies that address the issue in some way.

Standard scholarly practice dictates the assembly of a literature review as part of any published study, and meta-analyses, as they gather together the findings of multiple studies, are particularly critical to literature reviews. That Groseclose and Milyo overlooked not only the Journal of Communication meta-analysis, but also the 59 studies it surveyed, raises questions about the seriousness with which they conducted this study.

Indeed, they seem to be unaware that an academic discipline of media studies even exists...

Even if their study were not riddled with methodological red flags and results that lack what scholars call "face validity" (or what is more commonly known as the "laugh test"), the notion that "bias" can be assessed by matching think tank citations of news organizations and members of Congress seems questionable in the extreme.

The Wall Street Journal also responds to the charge that it is the most liberal major newspaper in America.
The Wall Street Journal's news coverage is relentlessly neutral. Of that, we are confident.

By contrast, the research technique used in this study hardly inspires confidence. In fact, it is logically suspect and simply baffling in some of its details.

First, its measure of media bias consists entirely of counting the number of mentions of, or quotes from, various think tanks that the researchers determine to be "liberal" or Â?conservative." By this logic, a mention of Al Qaeda in a story suggests the newspaper endorses its views, which is obviously not the case. And if a think tank is explicitly labeled Â?liberalÂ? or Â?conservativeÂ? within a story to provide context to readers, that example doesnÂ?t count at all. The researchers simply threw out such mentions.
It then finds more fundamentally unsound practices in the study.

As I had previously noted using the study's own methodology the authors are far more conservatively biased than any of the media they accuse of bias.

I had also reported on this silly study months ago. - somewhere in my archives.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Doug Thompson - Politics, shame & the truth

After watching what George W. Bush and the Republican leadership of Congress have done to the country I love, I am sorry I ever had anything to do with these people. They are, I believe, a much bigger threat to freedom and the American way of life than any terrorist with a bomb or foreign dictator with a hate-America agenda.

Their actions are not only a crime against the Constitution but a crime against humanity, against common decency and against the soul of a once proud nation called America.

America is mired in a war that cannot be won because George W. Bush used manufactured intelligence to sell that war to a Congress that should have asked more questions and demanded more evidence. Republicans and Democrats alike voted to give him the power to wage that war and then sat on their hands and did nothing.

Likewise, both Republicans and Democrats voted for the rights-robbing USA Patriot Act, the law that the Bush administration has used to undermine the Constitution and eat away at the freedoms of all Americans.

And the mainstream media, caught up in the post-911 bloodlust, failed to do its job and ask needed questions before the Iraq war. Both The Washington Post and The New York Times, symbols of liberalism in the eyes of most Republicans and conservatives, supported the war. The New York Times now admits it sat on a story about domestic spying for a year at the White House;s request. Had the Times printed that story last year, before the 2004 elections, would George W. Bush still be President? Good question.

Some 10 days ago, we reported that Bush, angry in a meeting where reauthorization of the Patriot Act was questioned, called the Constitution “just a goddamned piece of paper.”

I agonized for some time over whether or not to go with that story. I had it from two sources but went to a third one for additional confirmation before running it. As usual, we have been castigated far and wide for printing the story based on three unnamed sources and for refusing to release the names of those who gave us the information.

I am truly ashamed that, as a one-time political operative, ever had anything to do with putting people like George W. Bush or his cronies in Congress into office.

However, I am not – nor will I ever be – ashamed for printing the truth about him and other abusers of public trust.

Appeals Court Slams Administration on Padilla Detention

Government's actions created the appearance "that the government may be attempting to avoid" Supreme Court review in a matter of "especial national importance."

[Judge Luttig] also suggested that the government's actions in the Padilla case may possibly have had negative consequences for "the public perception of the war on terror" and "also for the government's credibility before the courts in litigation ancillary to that war.

For "as the government must surely understand," it has left "the impression" that Padilla may have been held for these years "by mistake, an impression we would have thought the government could ill afford to leave extant."
Wow - AG office and Bush policies really slammed by a conservative judge who was on short list for the Supremes.

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Diminishing Returns from traditional GOP campaign ploys

A political party can’t hold power forever by trying to solve the problems of 1980 or 1994. If the Virginia governor’s race demonstrates anything of national significance, it shows that if Republicans forget this they can ridicule their opponents as liberals as much they want—and still lose. Even just cutting taxes doesn't always play.

SCLM New York Times - Observer has more of the story

Times only ran wiretap story after repeatedly muzzled reporter was about to produce a book.

Reporter James Risen had also urged Time to run counter-arguments to Judith Miller stories on WMDs before going on a book leave. NSA wiretap story was first written before Bush-Kerry election and NYT refused to run it.

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High Crimes, Felonies and Misdemeanors

The Nation -- Bush's High Crimes
For the generations who came of age after the mid-1970s, it is worth recalling why warrantless domestic surveillance so shocks the political system. It needs to be repeated that the same arguments cited by Bush--inherent presidential power and national security--sustained the wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr., unleashed illegal CIA domestic spying and generated FBI files on thousands of American dissidents. It needs to be repeated that in 1974, the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon included abuse of presidential power based on warrantless wiretaps and illegal surveillance. It needs to be repeated that a few months later, presidential aides named Cheney and Rumsfeld labored mightily to secure President Ford's veto of the Freedom of Information Act, in an unsuccessful attempt to turn back post-Watergate restrictions on homegrown spying and government secrecy.

Most of all it needs to be repeated that no constitutional clause gives the President "because I said so" authority.

The fact that former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo tried to concoct a laughable fig leaf out of Congress's 9/11 use-of-force resolution in no way diminishes the President's culpability. Nor does the evident collusion of a handful of Senate leaders, including minority leader Harry Reid, who was evidently informed at least partly about the spying program.
"This shocking revelation ought to send a chill down the spine of every American."

Raising the Issue of Impeachment "Getting this Congress to get serious about maintaining checks and balances on the Bush administration will be a daunting task. But the recent revelations regarding domestic spying will make it easier."

Judge Resigns, Security Law has gaps, Bush has been authorizing felonies

Of these three items which one will the conservatives try to focus the attention on?

Judge Posner Op-Ed

Analysis - "It is no surprise that current federal laws, which unwisely criminalize this conduct, are being circumvented by the President's authorization to commit felonies."

Judge quits in Protest

Latest Chapter in Bush Effort to Widen His Power "The great irony is Bush inherited the strongest presidency of anyone since Franklin Roosevelt, and Cheney acts as if he's still under the constraints of 1973 or 1974."

Iraq Election - A Step Toward Civil War

UK Independent
Iraq is disintegrating. The first results from the parliamentary election last week show the country is dividing between Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions.

Religious fundamentalists now have the upper hand. The secular and nationalist candidate backed by the US and Britain was humiliatingly defeated.

The Shia religious coalition has won a total victory in Baghdad and the south of Iraq. The Sunni Arab parties who openly or covertly support armed resistance to the US are likely to win large majorities in Sunni provinces. The Kurds have already achieved quasi-independence and their voting reflected that.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Are Republicans Abandoning Law and Order?

George W. Bush's Impeachable Offenses

According to the Washington Post, the Bush administration describes the president’s war making power under the Constitution as “plenary” -- meaning absolute. The founders would roll over in their graves at this interpretation of a document that was actually designed to limit the presidential war power, resulting from their revulsion at the way European monarchs easily took their countries to war and foisted the costs -- in blood and treasure -- on their people. Conservative Bob Barr, a former Congressman from Georgia who was quoted in the Post, said it best: “The American people are going to have to say, ‘Enough of this business of justifying everything as necessary for the war on terror.’ Either the Constitution and the laws of this country mean something or they don’t. It is truly frightening what is going on in this country.”

"It's Always Christmas Time For Visa" by the Austin Lounge Lizards

Watch or free download at the Consumers Union.

My friend Anita went to see the Austin Lounge Lizards at the Mucky Duck instead of going to the Christmas Party and sent me some links to their songs.

They also have animated versions of "(Fight) The Tower" and "The Drugs I Need!" as other consumer protest songs.

It was the Tower (Commercial-free rock, right after these messages)
Big Media Power (Classic country hits from the 80’s, 90’s, & today)
Beaming down from heaven (The music of your life)
24/7 (Mas Musica, Princeton!)
It was the Tower (Today, a small group of activists)
Big Media Power (This morning, a miniscule cadre of radical extremists)
Beaming down from heaven (An active band of extremely free radicals)
24/7 (Turkey gobble)
It was the Tower (Mortgage rates at record lows)
Big Media Power (Enlarge your proboscis, naturally)
Beaming down from heaven (Meet sexy singles on-line)
24/7 (Honey, have you thought about Progenitorivox?)
Pervasive and insistent
Don’t abandon your resistance to the Tower

Wow, might make a liberal out of Anita yet. But how am I suppose to give her a Terry Pratchatt book with the UK cover if she won't meet me at a party?

Monday, December 19, 2005

An Impeachable Offense? Bush Admits Authorizing NSA to Eavesdrop on Americans Without Court Approval

AMY GOODMAN: So, your response when you heard about what the National Security Agency has been authorized to do by the President?

CHRISTOPHER PYLE: Not terribly surprised, but the one piece of it that amazes me is that the President admitted that he personally ordered the National Security Agency to violate a federal statute. Now, he has no Constitutional authority to do that. The Constitution says he must take care that all laws be faithfully executed, not just the ones he likes. The statute says it's, as you said at the beginning of the program, that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is the exclusive law governing these international intercepts, and he violated it anyway. And the law also says that any person who violates that law is guilty of a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. By the plain meaning of the law, the President is a criminal.

AMY GOODMAN: Martin Garbus, you say this is an impeachable offense.

MARTIN GARBUS: Yes, I agree that it is a crime, that it is an impeachable offense. The question is: What will happen? The mere fact that it’s impeachable doesn't necessarily mean that the Supreme Court will find that, and it doesn't mean that he will necessarily be impeached. He should be impeached, but he is claiming, for the first time, that he has the authority to do this, even though FISA is there, because he has relied on counsel. He has relied on John Yoo. He has relied previously on Ashcroft, and he’s now relying on Gonzales. And all of these people are telling him that it's legal. All these people are telling him that the President's powers can be expanded, even though FISA is there. And the President has come up with an excuse, which I don’t see how anybody can buy. In FISA, you can get a warrant in five minutes. You just go before the FISA court and you get your warrant, and that's all there is to it. There’s no argument --

AMY GOODMAN: Hasn't the criticism been that FISA gives them too easily?

MARTIN GARBUS: Surely. Your statistics were correct. Namely, that out of some 15,000 warrant applications, there were eight that were denied since 1978, so it's basically a rubber stamp. Now, what Bush said is, ‘I don't have the time,’ he says, ‘to go to FISA.’ Now, everybody has had the time to go to FISA. It doesn't take any time at all. So, that the argument that he has the right to avoid FISA, I think, is a false argument.

Using the Prof's own methodology Sid finds him more biased than any media he accuses of bias.

Using the same "guilt by association" techniques that the professor uses in his paper, I conclude that he is far from unbiased. In fact, taking the average ADA score of the four groups in the previous paragraphs, which are all supported by the same foundations that have funded the professor in his research, results in a score that ranks the professor as more conservative than any of the news outfits in his rankings. More than the Drudge Report, more than Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, more even than the Washington Times.

Co-author Jeffrey Milyo was a Salvatori fellow for the ultra-right-wing (by their paper's own numbers!) Heritage Foundation. He and Groseclose wrote their first article together in 1996 for the far-right scandal sheet The American Spectator.

'Newsweek': Bush Summoned New York Times to White House to try to stop the story

'Newsweek': Bush Summoned Keller, Sulzberger to Stop Spy Story
Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had “legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force.” But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law. And the post 9/11 congressional resolution authorizing “all necessary force” in fighting terrorism was made in clear reference to military intervention. It did not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in any area in the name of fighting terrorism.

What is especially perplexing about this story is that the 1978 law set up a special court to approve eavesdropping in hours, even minutes, if necessary. In fact, the law allows the government to eavesdrop on its own, then retroactively justify it to the court, essentially obtaining a warrant after the fact. Since 1979, the FISA court has approved tens of thousands of eavesdropping requests and rejected only four. There was no indication the existing system was slow—as the president seemed to claim in his press conference—or in any way required extra-constitutional action.

This will all play out eventually in congressional committees and in the United States Supreme Court. If the Democrats regain control of Congress, there may even be articles of impeachment introduced. Similar abuse of power was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974.

A lot of Houston and Texas stuff in Hairballs

Houston Press Richard Connelly reports on police on a ticket rampage to make up for lost funds, comparing Texan fans to Star War fans - graph in corner, passing out porn for Bibles, Guv Perry's shaky marriage as revealed by "Holiday" cards, Houston making 100,000 homeless and forbidding them to panhandle for Christmas.

What can you say about Texas but Ho Ho Ho, Y'all.

Bush cited an Iraqi poll in his speech

Here are other numbers he didn't mention in the speech from the same pole.
Sixty percent said the United States and its allies had done a bad job in Iraq, and almost two-thirds said they opposed the foreign presence. When asked how things are "not for you personally, but for Iraq as a whole," more than half said things were "quite bad" or "very bad," and only 45 percent said "very good" or "quite good."

A quarter said the Americans should leave now, and another 20 percent that they should leave when the new government is seated.
That's almost half saying leave within two months. The NYTimes put a favorable headline and slant on the fact checking and didn't mention the poll the UK funded which was much worse - 82% strongly oppose the presence of coalition troops, less than one percent believe they improve security.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A Despairing Harold Bloom

At the age of 75, I wonder if the Democratic party ever again will hold the presidency or control the Congress in my lifetime. I am not sanguine, because our rulers have demonstrated their prowess in Florida (twice) and in Ohio at shaping voting procedures, and they control the Supreme Court. The economist-journalist Paul Krugman recently observed that the Republicans dare not allow themselves to lose either Congress or the White House, because subsequent investigations could disclose dark matters indeed. Krugman did not specify, but among the profiteers of our Iraq crusade are big oil (House of Bush/House of Saud), Halliburton (the vice-president), Bechtel (a nest of mighty Republicans) and so forth.

All of this is extraordinarily blatant, yet the American people seem benumbed, unable to read, think, or remember, and thus fit subjects for a president who shares their limitations. A grumpy old Democrat, I observe to my friends that our emperor is himself the best argument for intelligent design, the current theocratic substitute for what used to be called creationism. Sigmund Freud might be chagrined to discover that he is forgotten, while the satan of America is now Charles Darwin. President Bush, who says that Jesus is his "favourite philosopher", recently decreed in regard to intelligent design and evolution: "Both sides ought to be properly taught."

I am a teacher by profession, about to begin my 51st year at Yale, where frequently my subject is American writers. Without any particular competence in politics, I assert no special insight in regard to the American malaise. But I am a student of what I have learned to call the American Religion, which has little in common with European Christianity. There is now a parody of the American Jesus, a kind of Republican CEO who disapproves of taxes, and who has widened the needle's eye so that camels and the wealthy pass readily into the Kingdom of Heaven. We have also an American holy spirit, the comforter of our burgeoning poor, who don't bother to vote. The American trinity pragmatically is completed by an imperial warrior God, trampling with shock and awe.

Rampant abuses trouble Iraq vote monitors

UK Guardian : At the Sharqia high school in central Baghdad, which was used as a polling station, a senior election official was said to have asked voters if they were going to vote for 555. Unless they said yes, they were not given ballot papers.

A source close to Mr Allawi's campaign said that in one Baghdad polling station "around 600 men, some with walkie-talkies and purple ink on their fingers showing they had already voted, forced their way in. When the manager tried to stop them asking for ballot papers, they threatened to put him in a car boot and drive him away ... He let them in."

He declined to be identified, citing the fact that an Allawi candidate and five campaign workers were murdered before the poll. All complaints have to be signed by a witness, which created risks, he said.

Presidential Pipeline: Bush's top fund-raisers see spoils of victory

Tracking Bush's Pioneer Business cronies recent government benefits
America's business leaders supplied more than $75 million to return Mr. Bush to the White House last year -- and he has paid dividends.

Bush administration policies, grand and obscure, have financially benefited companies or lobbying clients tied to at least 200 of the president's largest campaign fund-raisers, a Toledo Blade investigation has found. Dozens more stand to gain from Bush-backed initiatives that recently passed or await congressional approval.

The investigation included targeted tax breaks, regulatory changes, pro-business legislation, high-profile salaried appointments, and federal contracts.

Untrustworthy Bigger Brother

Los Angeles Times Editorial : Last week may come to be seen as a tipping point in the public's attitude, one that will cause the administration to reverse its encroachment on rights in the name of security. The report of the NSA's unsupervised eavesdropping program helped defeat an extension of certain controversial provisions of the Patriot Act in the Senate on Friday.

Now even sympathetic lawmakers can be expected to view the Patriot Act more skeptically. The revelations about the NSA raise two fundamental questions about the administration's rationale for increased powers: If it's already spying on its own citizens, then why does it need the Patriot Act? Alternatively, if it's already spying on its own citizens, how can it be trusted with the Patriot Act? This administration has yet to fully acknowledge that with greater powers must come greater accountability.

As for the Defense Department's counterterrorism database, the Pentagon was forced on Thursday to acknowledge that it hadn't followed its own guidelines requiring the deletion of information on American citizens who clearly don't pose a security risk. Imagine that: a domestic military intelligence program that failed to abide by its own safeguards.

Given this administration's history, none of these developments is especially surprising. But the latest revelations may serve as a timely reminder of why the American constitutional system requires the judiciary — the third branch of government — to review the actions of the executive branch when necessary to protect the people's liberty.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

New World Foundation advocates rebuilding a more Democratic Party from the grassroots

AlterNet: The Left's New Majority

This is the America of Latinos, African-Americans, religious progressives, union members, young people, and single women. Combined, these mostly progressive groups of the left constitute an actual and significant national majority. If the Democratic Party taps into this energy, it could help create the next social and political momentum in the United States and even win presidential elections. But typically, Democratic leadership does not work closely with these groups, their natural constituencies. This relationship has yet to become a reality.

Every single American city with a population of over 500,000 voted for John Kerry in 2004. And more than half of all cities with over 50,000 inhabitants did the same. The American public rejected Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998, just as they rejected the vicious manipulation of the Terri Schiavo case in 2005.

.... Another post-2004 election trend has been to say that Democrats need to "frame" their issues better and develop "values", as though moral and social values were something to be learned from the right.

Perhaps the most important thing to know about framing is that progressives, and especially Democrats, have been "framed" by the right as a political fringe without values, driven by self-interest, without regard for ordinary Americans.

The right has successfully taken its own description and projected it upon us. Unless we free ourselves from the frame they have put us in, we are cut off from our own traditions and from the people whose activism continues to drive an agenda based on concern for the democratic distribution of American prosperity.

What self-defeating pandering, when a national figure like Hillary Clinton says we have to "introduce values into the abortion debate." As if the abortion debate was ever anything but a values conflict! To retreat from such an obvious recognition is the expression of a form of defensive paralysis that has plagued Democratic Party leaders for years.

.... In December 2004, I explained on openDemocracy how the Democratic Party is not a party in the traditional sense. It has virtually no local presence or connection to people in most states. During elections, campaign workers are typically flown in and out instead of deploying local activists who can remain engaged from election to election. Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic Party, has begun to address this by appointing local party operatives.

What has been achieved by the politically engaged all over the country is very powerful and ought to be compelling to national leaders and funders. A couple of examples will convey a sense of what is described in more detail in "Building the New Majority":

in Florida, on the same day George W Bush was elected, a coalition of small businesses, community organisations, churches and labour unions named Floridians for All, were to thank for the fact that 71 percent of voters came out in favour of raising the minimum wage by $1 to $6.15 (£3.44) per hour.

In Mississippi, a group called Southern Echo has been making its mark over the past thirteen years by organising largely disenfranchised African-Americans in the rural Delta counties. More than twenty of its leaders have been elected as school-board members, county supervisors and mayors. Recently, Southern Echo has overturned a Republican governor's decision to slash the education budget, and even got more funds allocated for crippled public schools.

The Bush administration continues to spend us into the ground with war, homeland insecurity, and callous tax relief for the wealthy. It is eroding America's ability to function democratically and equitably. If conditions don't improve anger will continue to rise.

As Bush's former national-security advisor, Brent Scowcroft, told the New Yorker, the "bad guys" are always the ones who rise to the top of a chaotic society, because they are always better organised. He was talking about the Egyptian elections, but I think the same holds true in America.

There could be a major shift toward progressive thinking in American politics over the next ten years. But it won't happen unless national leadership is either displaced by or starts to connect with the good guys who know how to organize, and are doing so locally as a matter of urgency.

Pentagon mislead Congress about dangers of anthrax vaccination

The Pentagon never told Congress about more than 20,000 hospitalizations involving troops who'd taken the anthrax vaccine, despite repeated promises that such cases would be publicly disclosed. No one knows how many, or how few, of the 20,765 hospitalizations are directly attributable to the vaccine.

Col. John Grabenstein, director of the military's vaccine agency, said no one from the military intentionally misled Congress or the public. He said the 20,765 hospitalizations merely followed vaccinations in time, without documented proof of a cause-and-effect relationship.

Friday, December 16, 2005

We White Honkeys are the Mutants Y'all

Scientists find a single small DNA change that accounts for White Skin
The work raises a raft of new questions -- not least of which is why white skin caught on so thoroughly in northern climes once it arose. Some scientists suggest that lighter skin offered a strong survival advantage for people who migrated out of Africa by boosting their levels of bone-strengthening vitamin D; others have posited that its novelty and showiness simply made it more attractive to those seeking mates.

The work also reveals for the first time that Asians owe their relatively light skin to different mutations. That means that light skin arose independently at least twice in human evolution, in each case affecting populations with the facial and other traits that today are commonly regarded as the hallmarks of Caucasian and Asian races.

Several sociologists and others said they feared that such revelations might wrongly overshadow the prevailing finding of genetics over the past 10 years: that the number of DNA differences between races is tiny compared with the range of genetic diversity found within any single racial group.

Late Night Political Jokes collected by Daniel Kurtzman
'President Bush spoke today about the elections in Iraq. Bush admitted the elections won't be perfect. Well, luckily for him, they're not perfect over here, too. That's how he got elected.' --Jay Leno

'Over in Iraq after you vote they paint your finger purple so you can't vote again. It's a flawless system. It works perfectly unless, of course, someone has paint remover.' --Jay Leno"

"During an interview yesterday, President Bush said 'You can call me anything you want, but don't call me a racist.' Brian Williams responded: 'Whatever you want, Dumbass.'" --Conan O'Brien

"In a recent interview, President Bush said, this is a quote, 'I know a lot of people who are glad that we're in Iraq.' When asked who, the president said the leaders of North Korea and Iran." --Conan O'Brien

"Fox News' Bill O'Reilly has been at the forefront in defending Christmas, even though, until recently, Fox's own online store invited viewers to buy an 'O'Reilly Factor' holiday ornament for their holiday tree. In the war on Christmas, that's known as friendly fire. ... Legend has it every time you say 'Happy Holidays,' an angel gets AIDS." --Jon Stewart

I'll add that Stephen Colbert tonight declared war on those who declared war on "Happy Holiday." It seems that holidays is a contraction of Holy Days. He said Focus on the Family and Bill O'Reilly and the others are trying to take the holly out of Christmas and just leave it as the culmination of an orgy secular consumer spending.

"Say what you will about George Bush, but at least his interns are only licking the envelopes." --David Letterman, on Bush sending out 1.4 million Christmas cards

"Heating bills this winter are the highest they've been in five years, but President Bush has a plan to combat rising bills. It's called global warming." --Jay Leno

"While speaking in North Carolina this week, President Bush said, the economy is strong, and the best is yet to come. Adding: Also, the war's going great, we don't torture people, I'm 11 feet tall, and if you don't believe me, you can ask my unicorn." --Tina Fey

"Christmas and the New Year are actually two holidays. So there is a plural, which in the English language, necessitates the use of 's.' I suppose you could say 'Merry Christmas' and 'Happy New Year,' but you probably have sh*t to do." --Jon Stewart, on Bill O'Reilly's objection to "Happy Holidays"

"In a speech yesterday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld criticized the media for casting the war in Iraq in a negative light. Yeah, he said they should focus on the light-hearted and fun aspects of the war." --Conan O'Brien

"Howard Dean said that we can't win in Iraq. And if anybody knows about not winning. it's the Democrats." --Jay Leno

"A new study suggests that middle-aged adults who go on periodic drinking binges may face a heightened risk of dementia later on in life. The study is entitled, 'National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.'" --Tina Fey

ADDED BIG BONUS - JIB_JAB 2005 in Review

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It's Official - Congress does not have access to the Intel data the Administration does

According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, the administration's and GOP congressmen statements, amplified in the conservative MSM, are untrue.

Sen. Bob Graham had also said this December 1.
The National Journal reported last week that the CIA told Bush during his daily briefing 10 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that there was no link to Iraq, a finding that was repeated later in a longer CIA report.

Graham said that information was never passed to the Senate intelligence committee.

He said the administration also withheld from the Senate warnings from German intelligence that an Iraqi defector, code-named Curveball, was untrustworthy. Curveball was the source for administration allegations that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell made before the U.N. Security Council that Saddam had built mobile biological weapons facilities in Iraq. U.S. forces never found such labs in Iraq.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

GOP worries about 'Sam's Club Republicans' in the emerging suburbs

Public Opinion Watch in addition to some other polling data brings us a conservative analyst worrying that right now they are getting votes from people who don't agree with their agenda. The GOP in the last elections are "an increasingly working-class party, dependent for its power on supermajorities of the white working class vote, and a party whose constituents are surprisingly comfortable with bad-but-popular liberal ideas like raising the minimum wage, expanding clumsy environmental regulations, or hiking taxes on the wealthy to fund a health care entitlement."

Wouldn't it seem to be a good idea to peel those voters off of the GOP ticket by explicitly running on that platform?

Breaking - Optical scan voting machines easily hacked with simple device leaving no trace

New tests cast severe doubts about vote machines
Ion Sancho, Leon County's election chief, said tests by two computer experts, completed this week, showed that an insider could surreptitiously change vote results and the number of ballots cast on Diebold's optical-scan machines.

After receiving county commission approval Tuesday, Sancho scrapped Diebold's system for one made by Elections Systems and Software, the same provider used by Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The difference between the systems: Sancho's machines use a fill-in-the-blank paper ballot that allows for after-the-fact manual recounts, while Broward and Miami-Dade use ATM-like touchscreens that leave no paper trail.

''That's kind of scary. If there's no paper trail, you have to rely solely on electronic results. And now we know that they can be manipulated under the right conditions, without a person even leaving a fingerprint,'' said Sancho, who once headed the state's elections supervisors association.

Thompson told The Herald he was ''shocked'' at how easy it was to get in, make the loser the winner and leave without a trace. The machine asked for a user name and password, but didn't require it, he said. That meant it had not just a ''front door, but a back door as big as a garage,'' Thompson said.

From there, Thompson said, he typed five lines of computer code -- and switched 5,000 votes from one candidate to another.

''I am positive an eighth grader could do this,'' Thompson said.

Over the past few months, computer expert Harri Hursti tried to manipulate election results with the memory card inserted into each Diebold voting machine. The card records votes during an election, then at the end of the day is taken to a central location where results are totaled.

Hursti figured out how to hack into the memory card by using an agricultural scanning device easily available on the Internet, said BlackBox founder Bev Harris.

He learned how to hide votes, make losers out of winners and leave no trace, she said.

Sancho said he tried to discuss the problems with Diebold, but met with resistance. On Monday, he did one final test with Hursti at the Leon County supervisor's office, Hursti hacked the memory card to spit out seven ''yes'' votes on an issue and one ''no'' vote.

Then, six ''no'' votes and two ''yes'' votes were cast into the machine the same way voters would. Those results didn't show up in the final tally -- just the ones hacked into the card.

"These were sold as safe systems. They passed tests as safe systems," Sancho said. "But even in the so-called safe system, if you don't follow the paper ballots, there is a way to rig the election. Except it's not a bunch of guys stuffing ballots in a precinct. It's possibly one person acting in secret changing thousands of votes in a second."