Saturday, October 06, 2007

Funny as a Tumor: The Wit and Wisdom of Our Leaders and their Enablers

Maybe it's a faith-based thing... believe this crap is funny -- and it is!

But Ronald Reagan thought the issue of hunger in the world's richest nation was nothing but a big joke. Here's what Reagan said in his famous 1964 speech "A Time for Choosing," which made him a national political figure: "We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet."


On Wednesday, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have expanded S-chip, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, providing health insurance to an estimated 3.8 million children who would otherwise lack coverage.

In anticipation of the veto, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, had this to say: "First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it's a good idea. I'm happy that the president's willing to do something bad for the kids." Heh-heh-heh.


"I mean, people have access to health care in America," said Mr. Bush in July. "After all, you just go to an emergency room."


Before the last election, the actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's and has become an advocate for stem cell research that might lead to a cure, made an ad in support of Claire McCaskill, the Democratic candidate for Senator in Missouri. It was an effective ad, in part because Mr. Fox's affliction was obvious.

And Rush Limbaugh - displaying the same style he exhibited in his recent claim that members of the military who oppose the Iraq war are "phony soldiers" and his later comparison of a wounded vet who criticized him for that remark to a suicide bomber - immediately accused Mr. Fox of faking it. "In this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking. And it's purely an act." Heh-heh-heh.


By contrast, Mr. Bush is articulate and even grammatical when he talks about punishing people; that's when he's speaking from the heart. The only animation Mr. Bush showed during the flooding of New Orleans was when he declared "zero tolerance of people breaking the law," even those breaking into abandoned stores in search of the food and water they weren't getting from his administration.
But then again, any party who can come up with that silly wide stance logo for the 2008 convention in the state with Larry Craig's very favorite bathroom (not :) )....

Friday, October 05, 2007


Nicholas Von Hoffman:
Now he tells us. Alan Greenspan has come out from behind the cloud of gas where he had hidden himself for the past couple of decades to say in public what he should have said years ago when it might have mattered.

In his book, Mr. Greenspan complains that the Bush administration paid little attention to the conservative idea of fiscal constraint, and the Republicans in Congress were even worse. “They swapped principle for power,” he writes. “They ended up with neither.”

Mr. Greenspan understood that the Bush administration’s treasury secretaries were capons, but why did Mr. Greenspan snip off his own political testicles? As chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, he did not serve at the president’s pleasure. Mr. Bush could not fire him. So there was Greenspan, the one official concerned with economics who was in a position to talk but kept his mouth shut as debt mounted.

Given Mr. Greenspan’s adoring business press and his demigod status with politicians of whatever stripe, there was a solid chance that he could have stopped or at least mitigated the grotesque Bush tax cuts. Now he comes along to blame Mr. Bush and the circle of crackpots Mr. Bush surrounded himself with, but he might also have blamed himself.

His espousal of a balanced budget and pay-as-you-go government was not a questionable theoretical proposition. For the eight years of the Clinton administration he had been a successful collaborator in such a policy. He admired Clinton’s two effective treasury secretaries, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers. He knew it could be done, and yet he kept his yap shut when he should have been howling to high heavens.

Mr. Greenspan could have done more than howl. He could have taken corrective action. A central bank, at least to some extent, can counterbalance profligate borrowings by shrinking the money supply and pushing interest rates up. Had he done so, Mr. Greenspan would have heard howls aplenty from the White House and a Congress merrily in the act of cutting the taxes of the rich.

For years Mr. Greenspan confined his public utterances on the worsening housing bubble to polysyllabic imbecilities, never calling it a bubble, though it was he who was blowing the air into it, preferring instead the word “froth.”

On his book publicity tour Mr. Greenspan tells the Financial Times that froth “was a euphemism for a bubble,” explaining, in case we don’t get it, that “all the froth bubbles add up to an aggregate bubble.” His aggregate bubble, which he could have punctured long since, is threatening to become to our domestic scene what the Iraqi war is abroad.

This guy is still a hokum-meister. First he writes in his book, “We were willing to chance that by cutting rates we might foster a bubble, an inflationary boom of some sort, which we would subsequently have to address. … It was a decision done right.” But then The Wall Street Journal writes that “[Greenspan] attributes the housing boom to the end of communism, which he says unleashed hundreds of millions of workers on global markets, putting downward pressure on wages and prices, and thus on long-term interest rates.” This is hardly better than dada economics. Sure, blame the speculation-driven housing debt on the late Boris Yelsin.

After having put the responsibility for the housing mess on the death of communism, Mr. Greenspan next takes on the colors of some sort of liberalism by declaring that “the benefits of broadened home ownership are worth the risk.” In other words, without the bubble lower-income people would not have had a chance to own a home of their own. But did they really have such a chance?

If they “bought” their homes on such disadvantageous terms that they are unable to keep them, that is a fine kind of home ownership. Though the actual number is unknown, hundreds of thousands of lower-income families bought homes on a no-money-down basis through ruinous adjustable rate mortgages. It would be closer to the truth to say they did not buy these houses, but merely rented them at extortionate prices.

None of this seems to bother Mr. Greenspan, who told an interviewer something to the effect that the bubble has been worth it because, “Protection of property rights, so critical to a market economy, requires a critical mass of owners to sustain political support.” Someone might want to tell Alan that his critical mass of owners is on the verge of vaporizing faster than the polar ice cap.

Perhaps what will be the most remembered line in his book says that “the Iraq War is largely about oil.” No sooner had the reactions to that started popping off all over the place than Mr. Greenspan began to backtrack.

In an interview with Bob Woodward, Mr. Greenspan said he never heard the president or Vice President Cheney “basically say, ‘We’ve got to protect the oil supplies of the world,’ but that would have been my motive.” Mr. Greenspan said he made his argument to various administration officials, but one of them told him that they couldn’t talk about oil.

To borrow H. L. Mencken’s oft-quoted remark about money, “If they say it isn’t the oil, it’s the oil.”

Perhaps Mr. Greenspan’s most intriguing remark was made to The Wall Street Journal’s Greg Ip. He said, “Now it turns out politics is less important, domestically, than it was, because globalization is taking over an ever increasing part of the decision making process with the exception of national security.”

In other words it does not matter what the pygmies may think of me or whether you have your elections, whether you pick Hillary or Obama or some lefty fruitcake; you don’t get to decide the big stuff. The major decisions are made away from you by the big guys playing the big game sometimes in New York, sometimes in London, sometimes in Tokyo or Dubai, but always where you cannot see it or know what’s done until it is done, and then it doesn’t matter what you do because you cannot do or undo anything.

GreenieMy hero, Nicholas Von Hoffman:

Quality Jounalism at the Times

Why should a paper that doesn't have problems running Judy Miller's war-pimping lies on the front page have a problem with a Sunday magazine interview column that is truth-flexible?

Free Elections Return to America?

Good news from California's Alameda County -- a judge has voided election results after the county botched its response to a contested race conducted on Diebold electronic voting machines.

The GOPers Must Be Crazy

Larry Craig shows he's a man of principle:
Idaho Sen. Larry Craig defiantly vowed to serve out his term in office on Thursday despite losing a court attempt to rescind his guilty plea in a men's room sex sting.

"I have seen that it is possible for me to work here effectively," Craig said in a written statement certain to disappoint fellow Republicans who have long urged him to step down.

Craig had earlier announced he would resign his seat by Sept. 30, but had wavered when he went to court in hopes of withdrawing his plea.
Mitt Romney shows his love for Mitt Romney 'cause not to many other did:
The headline on the press release from Mitt Romney's campaign today: "Romney for President Totals Over $18 Million in Total Receipts for the Third Quarter."

The quote from Romney's campaign spokesman: "Our campaign made considerable progress this quarter expanding Gov. Romney's support across the country ... Gov. Romney has built a nationwide network of volunteers and supporters that are energizing our efforts as we work towards the first votes being cast in January."

The fact it all obscures: Of those "$18 million in total receipts," $8.5 million came from Romney himself.

The context Team Romney wouldn't mind if you'd miss: The amount Romney raised from people who aren't named Mitt Romney is a bit lower than what Rudy Giuliani is reporting today. The Giuliani campaign says it raised more than $11 million in the third quarter.

The context Romney and Giuliani both would like you to ignore: The money Romney and Giuliani brought in together is about what Barack Obama brought in on his own and substantially less than what Hillary Clinton has collected. Maybe more embarrassing, Romney and Giuliani have each managed to raise only twice what cold-day-in-hell GOP candidate Ron Paul did.
The GOP media: as fair and balanced as they want to be (then again, what does fair and balanced even mean to the faith-based?):
The Clear Channel affiliate that airs Rush Limbaugh's show in Palm Beach, Fla., is refusing to run ads dealing with Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" remark on the ground that the ads "would only conflict with the listeners who have chosen to listen to Rush Limbaugh."
Pat Buchanan, in his magazine, slags Gen. Betray-us -- but that's apparently okay (of course, one must say he was slagged based on his own "facts"):
Maybe it's not as biting as MoveOn's "General Betray Us?" line, but the latest American Conservative magazine features a cover photo of Gen. David Petraeus under the blaring headline: "Sycophant Savior." And there's no question mark in the title, either. It's a must read.

The searing piece by Andrew Bacevich, a Boston University international studies professor who lost his son fighting in Iraq, accuses Petraeus of being a political general "of the worst kind." While Bacevich acknowledges that questions were raised about the accuracy of some of Petraeus's claims of progress, for the purpose of his essay he suggests we set them aside and take Petraeus at his word: The surge has worked modestly. Violence and killings are down in the last six months, though they remain too high.

"What then should he have recommended to the Congress and the president?" Bacevich asks. "That is, if the commitment of a modest increment of additional forces —the 30,000 troops comprising the surge, now employed in accordance with sound counterinsurgency doctrine —has begun to turn things around, then what should the senior field commander be asking for next?

"A single word suffices to answer that question: more. More time. More money. And above all, more troops.

"It is one of the oldest principles of generalship: when you find an opportunity, exploit it. Where you gain success, reinforce it. When you have your opponent at a disadvantage, pile on…Yet Petraeus has chosen to do just the opposite. Based on two or three months of (ostensibly) positive indicators, he has advised the president to ease the pressure, withdrawing the increment of troops that had (purportedly) enabled the coalition to seize the initiative in the first place.

"This defies logic."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Demented Yound Crackers Who Think (I Use the Term Loosely) There's Something Funny about Jena

Link to white trash idiocy. Shame on them and there families that raised them to do this. Also, an insight why those non-right wingers outside the south think the south sucks. It's an embarassment on this country.

Wingnut Idiocy

No one this side of Glenn Greenwald could come close to keeping up with all the idiocy that spews from factually- and reality-challenged right wingnuts. Myself, I limit myself to something special. Like this, from the War Room:
So, Jack Kingston, if you thought Rush Limbaugh should be commended by Congress after referring to war-critic troops as "phony soldiers," do you still think that he deserves congressional praise now?

On his radio show Tuesday, Limbaugh attacked an honest-to-goodness, wounded-in-action, Bronze Star- and Purple Heart-decorated Iraq war veteran by equating him with a suicide bomber who can't possibly think for himself. After Iraq veteran Brian McGough appeared in a VoteVets ad pushing back against Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" smear, Limbaugh responded by telling his listeners that McGough was simply being used.

"You know, this is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into," Limbaugh said. "This man will always be a hero to this country with everyone. Whoever pumped him full of these lies about what I said and embarrassed him with this ad has betrayed him. They're not hurting me, they're betraying this soldier. Now, unless he actually believes what he's saying, in which case it's just so unfortunate and sad when the truth of what I said is right out there to be learned."

McGough's retort: "I stood in the sand, snow, dirt, mud and dust of both Afghanistan and Iraq. I spent over a week on a side of a mountain in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda. I received The Bronze Star medal for my actions during that battle. I crossed the border into Iraq with the first wave of the 101st Airborne. I sustained an open head injury on the streets of Mosul after a vehicle borne IED exploded next to the vehicle I was riding in. I have seen the aftermath of a real suicide bomber. I had loved ones who died in the 9/11 attacks. I have friends and colleagues who returned from the war in body bags. How dare you call someone like me a phony soldier and a suicide bomber?"

Meanwhile, Fox's Bill O'Reilly says he hopes to have Limbaugh on his show tonight to help him fight back against Media Matters and other "far-left media assassins" pushing the "phony soldiers" story. "We need to go on the counterattack to knock these people out," he said.
More about it here.

(Photo link.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Jena: The Song

Via Rock and Rap Confidential, John Mellencamp:
An all white jury hides the executioner’s face
Is this how we are, me and you?
Everyone needs to know their place
And here we thought this blackbird was hidden in the flue

Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Take your nooses down

So what becomes of boys that cannot think straight
Particularly those with paper bag skin
Yes sir no sir wipe that smile off your face
We’ve got our rules here and you’ve got to fit in

Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Take your nooses down

Hey some way sanity will prevail
But no one knows when that day will come
A shot in the dark, well it might find its way
To the hearts of those who hold the keys to kingdom come

Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Take your nooses down

Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Take your nooses down
See it, hear it, here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Modern Marketing

ATT: Let 'em show them they have balls: don't just disconnect them , pay their kill fee and ensure that leave ATT. Obviously, anyone dissatisfied with the service shouldn't stay with the company and obviously the company doesn't want them either.

The whole story is here.

The Return of Clarence Thomas

Does this guy really believe this? And if he doesn't, if he's factually aware, does he care that's he so deeply and profoiundly full of shit?

Does he really believe it means nothing of any significance to be black in modern America?

Does he really believe that he really would be where now if he hadn't spent half a lifetime sucking white cock, kissing white as?

Does he really believe he'd be where he is if he was white?

If he isn't as dumb -- stupid -- as his detractors claim, where's the contrasting proof?

But that's my opinion. Let's see what others, including Justice Thomas, have to say -- then you decide!

We're working our way backward through the '90s. With OJ Simpson again on the national stage, it was inevitable that Clarence Thomas would follow. The Thomas confirmation hearings were a milestone in real-time mass-mediated American psychodrama. Before the Juice, there was Long Dong Silver. Before the bloody glove, there was the pubic-hairy Coke can. Before the suicidal white Bronco driver, there was the victimized black conservative martyr. Before there was OJ's jury nullification, there was Thomas' "high-tech lynching," which acquitted him right onto the Supreme Court.

I still recall being so obsessed by the Judiciary Committee hearings that I listened to them through an earphone while pushing a baby stroller through the mall. I remember watching Arlen Specter and Orrin Hatch hard at work, attempting to destroy Anita Hill, and finally understanding what the Salem Witch Trials must have been like. I remember being torn between awe at Chairman Joe Biden's pomposity and amazement at the goings-on in his scalp. I remember calling my friend Jack Rosenthal, then the editor of the editorial page of the New York Times, nearly every day, haranguing him to stiffen the Senate's opposition. To this day, I recall my revulsion at George H.W. Bush's cynically gleeful, preposterous attempt to frame the Thomas nomination as a filling of the Thurgood Marshall seat.

It turns out, of course, that the alarming character traits Anita Hill observed in her boss Clarence Thomas were nothing compared to the nutcase judicial temperament he has since revealed. At his confirmation hearing, Thomas -- like Marshall before him, and Roberts and Alito after him -- paid tribute to stare decisis, the importance of precedent in guiding Supreme Court decisions. But no less an authority than arch-conservative fellow Associate Justice Antonin Scalia told Thomas' biographer, Ken Foskett, that Thomas "doesn't believe in stare decisis, period." If you think nutcase is too strong a word to summarize that view, listen again to Scalia, as quoted in this Terry Gross interview with Jeff Toobin about his new Supreme Court book, The Nine:
Mr. TOOBIN: Clarence Thomas is not just the most conservative member of the Rehnquist court or the Roberts court. He's the most conservative justice to serve on the court since the 1930s. If you take what Thomas says seriously, if you read his opinions, particularly about issues like the scope of the federal government, he basically thinks that the entire work of the New Deal is unconstitutional. He really believes in a conception of the federal government that hasn't been supported by the justices since Franklin Roosevelt made his appointments to the court. You know, I went to a speech that Justice Scalia gave at a synagogue here in New York a couple of years ago, and someone asked him, `What's the difference between your judicial philosophy and Justice Thomas?' I thought a very good question. And Scalia talked for a while and he said, `Look, I'm a conservative. I'm a texturalist. I'm an originalist. But I'm not a nut.' And I thought that...
GROSS: Meaning that he thinks Thomas is one.
Mr. TOOBIN: Well, that was certainly the implication.
GROSS: Mm-hmm.
Mr. TOOBIN: It was pretty amazing. I mean, Thomas is well outside the mainstream, even of the conservatives on the court.
The Roberts-Scalia-Thomas-Alito-and-sometimes-Kennedy fivesome on the Court today is the closest the country has come to the domination of the third branch of government by the same ideology that gave us the Bush administration and its Congressional and Fourth Estate enablers. If Justice Stevens can hang on, and if Democrats can nominate and confirm his successor, there is a chance that the Constitution can continue to rely on the better angels of Justice Kennedy's nature. But even so, I fear that the first Monday in October has lost an essential element of its grandeur for years to come. When Justice Souter wept after the Bush v. Gore decision, he was not only mourning the naked politicization of justice; he was anticipating the tragic abrogation of the Constitution that we have experienced in the seven years since. No reaction to that silent coup is more appallingly prescient than what Justice Thomas now tells us in his memoir was his reaction when his wife came to him in his bath to say that the Senate had confirmed him 52 to 48: "Whoop-dee-damn-doo."
And here come de judge! (Sorry.)
"Oh, goodness. I don't know. I’m black. How much of your life is determined by being male? I have no idea. I'm black. That's a fact of life. I'm 5'8 1/2" tall. I don't know how much of my life is determined by being 5'8 1/2" tall. It's just a part of who I am," Thomas tells Kroft.

"But you think of yourself as a black man," Kroft says.

"I'm a man. I'm a man, first and foremost. I'm a citizen of this country. And I happen to be black. I am a human being," Thomas replies.

Thomas believes the Constitution is "color blind" and he is part of an emerging majority on the court that believes that laws granting preferential treatment based on race should be struck down.


"You've been successful. You moved on. You don't care about people and your race," Kroft says.

"Oh, that's silliness," the justice replies.

"You do care," Kroft remarks.

"Oh, obviously I do," Thomas says. "Come on, you know? But it's none of their business. How much does Justice Scalia care about Italians? Did you ask him that? Did anyone ever ask him? Give me a break. Do I help people? Absolutely. Do I help, love helping black people? Absolutely. And I do. But do I like helping all people? Yes. In particular I like helping people who are disadvantaged, people who don’t come from the best circumstances. Do white people live in homeless shelters? Do Hispanics live in homeless shelters? Is disadvantaged exclusive province of blacks? No."
No significant discussion of his mentor, Danforth....

Importrant New Link

Just threw up a new link, to a blog of reports from inside Myanmar. Please check it out. What's happening now just might be the tipping point for the junta in, you know, a bad way -- for the junta.

Blackwater for Dummies; Latest Edition

No time to Google or Wiki this but one of causes of an empire's collapse is the need for and/or reliance on mercenaries in lieu of what you could call public armed forces. Likewise, apparently there are more mercs in Iraq than U.S. forces and/or the mercs are actually involved in more combat; again don't recollect, no time to look it, and it doesn't really mater. (Of course, this raises a question or two: Why don't Our Leaders just withdraw our forces and replace them with the private sector's?)

And that, pretty much, is the significance of the debacle within the debacle: Our Out of Control Private Fighting Forces.

War Room:
Rep. Henry Waxman's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing Tuesday into Blackwater USA's activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a memo to committee members from the committee's staff -- one-sided as it may be -- provides quite the curtain raiser.

The highlights of the charges:

Blackwater shooting incidents: Waxman's staff says that Blackwater's own records show that its security forces have fired shots in at least 195 "escalation of force" incidents in Iraq since 2005. In more than 80 percent of those incidents, Blackwater's reports say that Blackwater's personnel fired first. "In the vast majority of instances in which Blackwater fires shots, Blackwater is firing from a moving vehicle and does not remain at the scene to determine if the shots resulted in casualties," Waxman's staff says. "Even so, Blackwater's own incident reports document 16 Iraqi casualties and 162 incidents with property damage, primarily to vehicles owned by lraqis. In over 80 percent of the escalation of force incidents since 2005, Blackwater's own reports document either casualties or property damage."

An alcohol-involved Blackwater shooting: "In a high-profile incident in December 2006, a drunken Blackwater contractor killed the guard of Iraqi Vice President Adil Abd-al-Mahdi," Waxman's staff says. The staff says that the State Department allowed Blackwater to get the contractor out of Iraq quickly and suggested that the company make a $250,000 payment to the Iraqi guard's family in order to avoid the risk that the Iraqi government might banish Blackwater from the country. The staff says that the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service balked at such a high payment, saying that it could cause Iraqis to "try to get killed so as to set up their famil[ies] financially," and that the State Department and Blackwater agreed on a $15,000 payment instead. It's not the only case in which the staff says the State Department dealt with Blackwater shootings solely by urging the company to pay off a victim's family.

The high cost of Blackwater: Waxman's staff says that the State Department is paying Blackwater the equivalent of $445,891 per contractor per year. A real apples-to-apples comparison may be difficult, but Waxman's staff argues that that's six to nine times as much as the government would pay if it had an Army sergeant performing the same work.
Meanwhile, the whole story (to date) about Our Out of Control Private Fighting Forces in action in Iraq is here.

And the full Congressional memo can be accessed here.

Blackwater's most recent success is here.

And here's how Blackwater gets away with it:
When Blackwater contractors guarding a U.S. State Department convoy allegedly killed 11 unarmed Iraqi civilians on September 16, it was only the latest in a series of controversial shooting incidents associated with the private security firm. Blackwater has a reputation for being quick on the draw. Since 2005, the North Carolina-based company, which has about 1,000 contractors in Iraq, has reported 195 "escalation of force incidents"; in 156 of those cases Blackwater guns fired first. According to the New York Times, Blackwater guards were twice as likely as employees of two other firms protecting State Department personnel in Iraq to be involved in shooting incidents.

On Tuesday morning, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will be holding a hearing on the U.S. military's use of private contractors. When Waxman announced plans for the hearing last week, the State Department directed Blackwater not to give any information or testimony without its sign-off. After a public spat between Rep. Waxman and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the State Department relented. Blackwater CEO and founder Erik Prince is now scheduled to testify at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

But the attempt to shield Prince was apparently not the first time State had protected Blackwater. A report issued by Waxman on Monday alleges that State helped Blackwater cover up Iraqi fatalities. In December 2006, State arranged for the company to pay $15,000 to the family of an Iraqi guard who was shot and killed by a drunken Blackwater employee. In another shooting death, the payment was $5,000. As CNN reported Monday, the State Department also allowed a Blackwater employee to write State's initial "spot report" on the September 16 shooting incident -- a report that did not mention civilian casualties and claimed contractors were responding to an insurgent attack on a convoy.

The ties between State and Blackwater are only part of a web of relationships that Blackwater has maintained with the Bush administration and with prominent Republicans. From 2001 to 2007, the firm has increased its annual federal contracts from less than $1 million to more than $1 billion, all while employees passed through a turnstile between Blackwater and the administration, several leaving important posts in the Pentagon and the CIA to take jobs at the security company. Below is a list of some of Blackwater's luminaries with their professional -- and political -- resumes.

Erik Prince, founder and CEO: How did Blackwater go from a small corporation training local SWAT teams to a seemingly inseparable part of U.S. operations in Iraq? Good timing, and the connections of its CEO, may be the answer.

Prince, who founded Blackwater in 1996 but reportedly took a behind-the-scenes role in the company until after 9/11, has connections to the Republican Party in his blood. His late father, auto-parts magnate Edgar Prince, was instrumental in the creation of the Family Research Council, one of the right-wing Christian groups most influential with the George W. Bush administration. At his funeral in 1995, he was eulogized by two stalwarts of the Christian conservative movement, James Dobson and Gary Bauer. Edgar Prince's widow Elsa, who remarried after her husband's death, has served on the boards of the FRC and another influential Christian right organization, Dobson's Focus on the Family. She currently runs the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, where, according to IRS filings, her son Erik is a vice-president. The foundation has given lavishly to some of the marquee names of the Christian right. Between July 2003 and July 2006, the foundation gave at least $670,000 to the FRC and $531,000 to Focus on the Family.

Both Edgar and Elsa have been affiliated with the Council for National Policy, the secretive Christian conservative organization whose meetings have been attended by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremer, and whose membership is rumored to include Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed and Dobson. The Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation gave the CNP $80,000 between July 2003 and July 2006.

The former Betsy Prince -- Edgar and Elsa's daughter, Erik's sister -- married into the DeVos family, one of the country's biggest donors to Republican and conservative causes. ("I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican party," Betsy DeVos wrote in a 1997 op-ed in Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.) She chaired the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000 and again from 2003 to 2005, and her husband Dick ran as the Republican candidate for Michigan governor in 2006.

Erik Prince himself is no slouch when it comes to giving to Republicans and cultivating relationships with important conservatives. He and his first and second wives have donated roughly $300,000 to Republican candidates and political action committees. Through his Freiheit Foundation, he also gave $500,000 to Prison Fellowship Ministries, run by former Nixon official Charles Colson, in 2000. In the same year, he contributed $30,000 to the American Entreprise Institute, a conservative think tank. During college, he interned in George H.W. Bush's White House, and he also interned for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.). Rohrabacher and fellow California Republican Congressman John Doolittle have visited Blackwater's Moyock, N.C. compound, on a trip arranged by the Alexander Strategy Group, a lobbying firm founded by former aides of then-House Majority Leader Tom Delay. ASG partner Paul Behrends is a long-time associate of Prince.

Prince's connections seem to have paid off for Blackwater. Robert Young Pelton, author of "Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror," has reported that one of Blackwater's earliest contracts in the national arena was a no-bid $5.4 million deal to provide security guards in Afghanistan that came after Prince made a call to then CIA executive director Buzzy Krongard. Harper's Magazine's Ken Silverstein has also reported that Prince has a security pass for CIA headquarters and "meets with senior people" inside the CIA. But Prince's most important benefactor was fellow conservative Catholic convert L. Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the American occupation government in Iraq. Bremer. In August 2003, Blackwater won a $27.7 million contract to provide personal security for Bremer. In charge of the Blackwater team guarding Bremer was Frank Gallagher, who had provided personal security for former secretary of state Henry Kissinger when Bremer was managing director of Kissinger's consulting firm, Kissinger and Associates, in the 1990s.

By 2005, Blackwater was earning $353 million annually from federal contracts. Blackwater's benefits from government largesse haven't ended at Iraq. The company was recently one of five awarded a Department of Defense counter-narcoterrorism contract that could reportedly be worth as much as $15 billion. Blackwater also became involved in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and profited handsomely. According to Jeremy Scahill, the author of "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," Blackwater had made roughly $73 million for Katrina-related government work by June 2006, less than a year after the hurricane hit.

Joseph Schmitz, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel: In 2002, President Bush nominated Schmitz to oversee and police the Pentagon's military contracts as the Defense Department's Inspector General. Schmitz presided over the largest increase of military-contracting spending in history: as of 2005, 77 companies were awarded 149 "prime contracts" worth $42.1 billion, with hundreds of millions going to Blackwater. Unlike previous IGs, Schmitz reported directly to the Secretary of Defense -- a setup that both Democratic and Republican lawmakers objected to, given Schmitz's oversight responsibility. Schmitz even carried Donald Rumsfeld's "twelve principles" for the Pentagon in his lapel pocket. The first principle read, "Do nothing that could raise questions about the credibility of DoD."

Schmitz has many ties to the Republican party establishment. His father, John G. Schmitz, was a two-term Republican Congressman, and his brother, Patrick Schmitz, served as George H.W. Bush's deputy counsel from 1985 to 1993. Joseph himself worked as a special assistant to Reagan-era Attorney General Edwin Meese.

Schmitz resigned in 2005 under mounting pressure from both Democratic and Republican senators, who accused him of interfering with criminal investigations into inappropriately awarded contracts, turning a blind eye to conflicts of interest and other failures of oversight. According to an October 2005 article in Time Magazine, Schmitz showed the White House the results of his staff's multi-year investigation into a contract in which the Air Force leased air-refueling tankers from Boeing for more than it would have cost to buy them, then agreed to redact the names of senior White House staffers involved in the decision before sending the final report to Congress. Schmitz informed his staff on August 26, 2005 that he was leaving the Pentagon; in September of that year, he went to work for Blackwater.

J. Cofer Black, Vice Chairman: Black spent most of his 28-year CIA career running covert operations in the Directorate of Operations, where he worked with Rob Richer (below). At the time of the 9/11 attacks, he was director of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center (CTC). There he was former CIA Director George Tenet's ace in the hole when it came to convincing Bush the CIA should lead initial U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan after 9/11. Black is, according to published accounts, a man with a flair for the dramatic, the kind of briefer President Bush likes. In one briefing, according to several reports, Black told the president, "When we're through with [terrorists in Afghanistan], they will have flies walking across their eyeballs." (Black also ordered CIA field officer Gary Schroen to bring back Osama bin Laden's head packed in dry ice so Black could show it to Bush.) Black's Afghanistan presentation earned him "special access" to the White House, the Washington Post's Dana Priest reported in December 2005.

Black is also one of the more prominent faces associated with the Bush administration's interrogation and extraordinary rendition policies. In a famous moment, Black told Congress in 2002, "after 9/11, the gloves came off." And the group within the CIA responsible for extraordinary renditions -- operations in which covert agents grab terror suspects and take them to secret prison facilities for interrogations that would normally be prohibited as torture -- fell under Black at the CTC, Priest has reported.

Black later went to the State Department, where one of his roles was to begin coordinating security for the 2004 Olympics in Greece. In 2003, the State Department gave Blackwater a contract to train the Olympic security teams.

In 2004, Black left the State Department to join Blackwater, part of what Harper's Magazine's Ken Silverstein termed a "revolving door to Blackwater" from the CIA. In addition to his work with Blackwater and his own company, Total Intelligence Solutions, Black also recently joined the presidential campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, where he serves the Republican hopeful as senior adviser for counterterrorism and national security.

Rob Richer, Vice President for Intelligence: Richer was head of the CIA's Near East division -- and the agency's liaison with King Abdullah of Jordan -- from 1999 to 2004. In 2003, he briefed President Bush on the nascent Iraqi insurgency. In late 2004, he became the associate deputy director in the CIA's Directorate of Operations, making him the second-ranking official for clandestine operations. He left the agency for Blackwater in the fall of 2005, effectively taking the agency's relationship with Abdullah with him. The CIA had invested millions of dollars in training Jordan's intelligence services. There was an obvious quid pro quo: in exchange for the training, Jordan would share information. Jordan has now hired Blackwater's intelligence division -- headed by Richer -- to do its spy training instead. The CIA isn't happy, writes Silverstein: "People [at the agency] are pissed off," says Silverstein's source. "Abdullah still speaks with Richer regularly and he thinks that's the same thing as talking to us. He thinks Richer is still the man."

Fred Fielding, former outside counsel: After four Blackwater employees were tortured and killed in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004, their families brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Blackwater, charging that the company had not provided adequate arms, armor, or backup. Blackwater feared that, if it were found liable for its employees' deaths, a floodgate of future litigation could be opened. To fight the suit, Blackwater hired Fielding, the consummate Republican insider. Dan Callahan, a lawyer representing the families, told Salon he was shocked when he learned Fielding would be representing the company. "How the hell," Callahan says he wondered at the time, "did I draw Fred Fielding on this case?"

Fielding has had a long career as a lawyer to prominent Republicans. From 1970 to 1972, he was an associate White House counsel in the Nixon administration; from 1972 to 1974, he was present for the denouement of that administration as deputy White House counsel. Under President Ronald Reagan, he served as White House Counsel from 1981 to 1986, where he was the boss of a young assistant counsel named John Roberts, now the Chief Justice of the United States. After the 2000 election, he served the current administration as transition counsel, and he also held a spot on the 9/11 Commission. In January of 2007, Bush chose him as White House counsel.

Ken Starr, outside counsel: According to Dan Callahan, Fred Fielding represented Blackwater as outside counsel for about six months beginning in February of 2005. After Fred Fielding left the case, the law firm Greenberg Traurig, which was once home to Jack Abramoff and worked for George W. Bush in the Florida recount, represented Blackwater till October 2006. Blackwater then hired another high-profile lawyer with impeccable Republican credentials -- Ken Starr, now the dean of Pepperdine Law School in California. Starr was appointed to the federal bench by Ronald Reagan, was U.S. Solicitor General under George H. W. Bush, and was on Bush's short list to replace William Brennan on the Supreme Court. He is best known, however, as the Independent Counsel who investigated Bill Clinton. He revealed the intimate details of Clinton's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky in the infamous Starr Report and set in motion Clinton's impeachment by Congress.

Blackwater continues to assert that the state of North Carolina lacks jurisdiction in the contractor's lawsuit. On October 18, 2006, Starr petitioned Chief Justice John Roberts on behalf of Blackwater, asserting that the company was "constitutionally immune" to the lawsuit. "If companies such as Blackwater must factor the defense costs of state tort lawsuits into [their] overall costs," argued Starr, "Blackwater will suffer irreparable harm." Roberts denied the petition on October 24. In December, Starr filed a motion to bring the matter before the entire Supreme Court. The motion was denied in February.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sy Hersh Updates Us on What's Happening Now

Via Truthout:
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was just in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. Once again, he said that he is only interested in civilian nuclear power instead of atomic weapons. How much does the West really know about the nuclear program in Iran?

Seymour Hersh: A lot. And it's been underestimated how much the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) knows. If you follow what (IAEA head Mohamed) ElBaradei and the various reports have been saying, the Iranians have claimed to be enriching uranium to higher than a 4 percent purity, which is the amount you need to run a peaceful nuclear reactor. But the IAEA's best guess is that they are at 3.67 percent or something. The Iranians are not even doing what they claim to be doing. The IAEA has been saying all along that they've been making progress but basically, Iran is nowhere. Of course the US and Israel are going to say you have to look at the worst case scenario, but there isn't enough evidence to justify a bombing raid.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is this just another case of exaggerating the danger in preparation for an invasion like we saw in 2002 and 2003 prior to the Iraq War?

Hersh: We have this wonderful capacity in America to Hitlerize people. We had Hitler, and since Hitler we've had about 20 of them. Khrushchev and Mao and of course Stalin, and for a little while Gadhafi was our Hitler. And now we have this guy Ahmadinejad. The reality is, he's not nearly as powerful inside the country as we like to think he is. The Revolutionary Guards have direct control over the missile program and if there is a weapons program, they would be the ones running it. Not Ahmadinejad.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Where does this feeling of urgency that the US has with Iran come from?

Hersh: Pressure from the White House. That's just their game.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What interest does the White House have in moving us to the brink with Tehran?

Hersh: You have to ask yourself what interest we had 40 years ago for going to war in Vietnam. You'd think that in this country with so many smart people, that we can't possibly do the same dumb thing again. I have this theory in life that there is no learning. There is no learning curve. Everything is tabula rasa. Everybody has to discover things for themselves.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Even after Iraq? Aren't there strategic reasons for getting so deeply involved in the Middle East?

Hersh: Oh no. We're going to build democracy. The real thing in the mind of this president is he wants to reshape the Middle East and make it a model. He absolutely believes it. I always thought Henry Kissinger was a disaster because he lies like most people breathe and you can't have that in public life. But if it were Kissinger this time around, I'd actually be relieved because I'd know that the madness would be tied to some oil deal. But in this case, what you see is what you get. This guy believes he's doing God's work.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So what are the options in Iraq?

Hersh: There are two very clear options: Option A) Get everybody out by midnight tonight. Option B) Get everybody out by midnight tomorrow. The fuel that keeps the war going is us.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: A lot of people have been saying that the US presence there is a big part of the problem. Is anyone in the White House listening?

Hersh: No. The president is still talking about the "Surge" (eds. The "Surge" refers to President Bush's commitment of 20,000 additional troops to Iraq in the spring of 2007 in an attempt to improve security in the country.) as if it's going to unite the country. But the Surge was a con game of putting additional troops in there. We've basically Balkanized the place, building walls and walling off Sunnis from Shiites. And in Anbar Province, where there has been success, all of the Shiites are gone. They've simply split.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is that why there has been a drop in violence there?

Hersh: I think that's a much better reason than the fact that there are a couple more soldiers on the ground.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So what are the lessons of the Surge?

Hersh: The Surge means basically that, in some way, the president has accepted ethnic cleansing, whether he's talking about it or not. When he first announced the Surge in January, he described it as a way to bring the parties together. He's not saying that any more. I think he now understands that ethnic cleansing is what is going to happen. You're going to have a Kurdistan. You're going to have a Sunni area that we're going to have to support forever. And you're going to have the Shiites in the South.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So the US is over four years into a war that is likely going to end in a disaster. How valid are the comparisons with Vietnam?

Hersh: The validity is that the US is fighting a guerrilla war and doesn't know the culture. But the difference is that at a certain point, because of Congressional and public opposition, the Vietnam War was no longer tenable. But these guys now don't care. They see it but they don't care.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: If the Iraq war does end up as a defeat for the US, will it leave as deep a wound as the Vietnam War did?

Hersh: Much worse. Vietnam was a tactical mistake. This is strategic. How do you repair damages with whole cultures? On the home front, though, we'll rationalize it away. Don't worry about that. Again, there's no learning curve. No learning curve at all. We'll be ready to fight another stupid war in another two decades.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Of course, preventing that is partially the job of the media. Have reporters been doing a better job recently than they did in the run-up to the Iraq War?

Hersh: Oh yeah. They've done a better job since. But back then, they blew it. When you have a guy like Bush who's going to move the infamous Doomsday Clock forward, and he's going to put everybody in jeopardy and he's secretive and he doesn't tell Congress anything and he's inured to what we write. In such a case, we (journalists) become more important. The First Amendment failed and the American press failed the Constitution. We were jingoistic. And that was a terrible failing. I'm asked the question all the time: What happened to my old paper, the New York Times? And I now say, they stink. They missed it. They missed the biggest story of the time and they're going to have to live with it.

Your Blogger is CRUSHED....



Sad But True....

Link (click on image to enlarge to readable...).

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Genuine Good News

Scientific American:
Don't Forget: Drink a Beer—Or Two—Daily!
Study in rats suggests long-term, moderate consumption of alcohol improves recall of both visual and emotional stimuli

You may be hard-pressed to recall events after a night of binge drinking, but a new report suggests that low to moderate alcohol consumption may actually enhance memory.
"There are human epidemiological data of others indicating that mild [to] moderate drinking may paradoxically improve cognition in people compared to abstention," says Maggie Kalev, a research fellow in molecular medicine and pathology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and a co-author of an article in The Journal of Neuroscience describing results of a study she and other researchers performed on rats. "This is similar to a glass of wine protecting against heart disease, however the mechanism is different."

Kalev and Matthew During, a professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and a principal investigator of gene therapy at Auckland, initially set out to study the role of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors in the neuronal processes of normal and diseased animals. (NMDA receptors are critical to memory, because they regulate the strength of synapses (spaces) between nerve cells through which the cells communicate.) But during their research, they discovered that memory was enhanced when one of its subunits, known as NR1, was strengthened in the hippocampus (a central brain region implicated in episodic memory). They then reviewed previous experiments, which had turned up a link between alcohol consumption and NR1 activity.

"We decided to study if beneficial effects of low-dose alcohol drinking already shown by others," Kalev says, "could be mediated through the mechanism of increasing NR1 expression. We thought it was worth pursuing, since ethanol drinking is such a common pattern of human behavior."

The researchers created two strains of transgenic rats, one that had an abundance of NR1 subunits in their hippocampi and one in which it was suppressed. A group of normal rats and those with the suppressed NR1 action were fed a diet consisting of 0, 2.5 or 5 percent ethanol.

According to Kalev, it is hard to relate the alcohol the rats consumed to human quantities, but "based on their blood alcohol levels, the 2.5 percent ethanol diet was equivalent to a level of consumption that does not exceed [the] legal driving limit. This may be approximately one to two drinks per day for some people or two to three for others, depending upon their size, metabolism or genetic background."

The rats stayed on these diets for eight weeks; behavioral testing to assess cognitive function began after four weeks. One test involved novel object recognition, where rats were placed in a cage with two small objects inside multiple times over a two-day period. Then, one object was swapped for a new toy and rats were scored based on how quickly they explored the unfamiliar piece. In a second paradigm, rats were trained to expect a shock when they crossed from a white compartment to a black one inside a cage; a day after training, the rats were put back in the cage to see if they remembered that the black side was dangerous.

Among the normal rats, the animals that consumed moderate amounts of alcohol fared better on both tests compared with the teetotalers. Rats on a heavy alcohol diet did not do well on object recognition (and, in fact, showed signs of neurotoxicity), but they performed better than their normal brethren on the emotional memory task.

"People often drink to 'drown sorrows,'" Kalev says. "Our results suggest that this could actually paradoxically promote traumatic memories and lead to further drinking, contributing to the development of alcoholism."

Overstimulating the NR1 subunits of the NMDA receptor showed effects similar to those from moderate drinking, whereas suppressing the NR1 subunits canceled out the effect of low, but steady consumption. These findings indicate that the NMDA receptor must be intact for the positive effects of alcohol to manifest, Kalev says. They speculate that the NMDA receptor is initially blocked by alcohol, causing the activity of the NR1 subunit to elevate as a compensatory response (thereby conferring heightened cognition).

Meir Stampfer, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, says that the new work provides a stronger biological basis for studies that he and others have undertaken linking improved memory to moderate alcohol intake. "[This study] provides interesting evidence for a mechanism that may be operating at the NMDA receptor," he says, but quickly cautions: "It's better not to drink at all than to drink too much," as is also demonstrated by this study.
(Photo link.)

GOP Front Runners to African-Americans: Drop Dead; We Hate You

Of course, the GOP coalition consists, in no particular order, of the frightened and fearful (every day now is 10 September), Christofascist bluenoses, and the dumber money class. Like the post-war Dems, it's a fragile coalition with it's internal, inherent conflicts. So, again, like the Dems earlier, it's not a true majority but a coalition of the moment and therefore it's a relatively short-term phenomenon; it is not the long term alliance Rove hallucinated (but since he realied on smear more than anything, you know, positive, one could rightly say What the fuck does he know (besides lying about people)?).

So as we can see, Blacks can be easily ignored -- indeed, association with Blacks can't help one's standing with the wingnut coalition -- so the four front-runners feel cool ignoring a Black-sponsored national debate.


The -- no joke -- Nazis come to give support.... As I've noted, I do believe there was some over-0reation but it was to something certainly provocative enough to almost justify it. Really, all the whites in Jena should just fucking apologize. All.
No sooner did tens of thousands of African-American demonstrators depart the racially tense town of Jena, La., last week after protesting perceived injustices than white supremacists flooded in behind them.

First a neo-Nazi Web site posted the names, addresses and phone numbers of some of the six black teenagers and their families at the center of the Jena 6 case and urged followers to find them and "drag them out of the house," prompting an investigation by the FBI.

Then the leader of a white supremacist group in Mississippi published interviews that he conducted with the mayor of Jena and the white teenager who was attacked and beaten, allegedly by the six black youths. In those interviews, the mayor, Murphy McMillin, praised efforts by pro-white groups to organize counterdemonstrations; the teenager, Justin Barker, urged white readers to "realize what is going on, speak up and speak their mind."

Over the weekend, white extremist Web sites and blogs across the Internet filled with invective about the Jena 6 case, which has drawn scrutiny from civil rights leaders, three leading Democratic presidential candidates and hundreds of African-American Internet bloggers. They are concerned about allegations that blacks have been treated more harshly than whites in the criminal justice system of the town of 3,000, which is 85 percent white.

David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, last week announced his support for Jena's white residents, who voted overwhelmingly for him when he ran unsuccessfully for Louisiana governor in 1991.

"There is a major white supremacist backlash building," said Mark Potok, a hate-group expert at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group in Montgomery, Ala. "I also think it's more widespread than may be obvious to most people. It's not only neo-nazis and Klansmen—you expect this kind of reaction from them."

Controversy over the Jena 6 case has been percolating for months but it exploded into national view last Thursday when a crowd of at least 20,000 peaceful demonstrators from around the country marched through the central Louisiana town.

They came to support the six black high school students who were initially charged by the local prosecutor with attempted murder for attacking Barker, a white classmate who was beaten and knocked briefly unconscious last December. The charges were later reduced to aggravated second-degree battery.

The incident capped months of racial unrest after three white students hung nooses from a shade tree at the high school after black students asked permission to sit under it. School officials dismissed the noose incident as a prank, angering black students and their parents and triggering a series of fights between whites and blacks. The whites involved were charged with misdemeanors or not at all while the blacks drew various felony charges.

McMillin has insisted that his town is being unfairly portrayed as racist—an assertion the mayor repeated in an interview with Richard Barrett, the leader of the Nationalist Movement, a white supremacist group based in Learned, Miss., who asked McMillin to "set aside some place for those opposing the colored folks."

"I am not endorsing any demonstrations, but I do appreciate what you are trying to do," Barrett quoted McMillin as saying. "Your moral support means a lot."

McMillin declined to return calls seeking comment Monday.

Barker's father, David, said his family did not know the nature of Barrett's group when they agreed to be interviewed, adding, "I am not a white supremacist, and neither is my son."

But Barrett said he explained his group and its beliefs to the Barker family, who then invited him to stay overnight at their home on the eve of last week's protest march.

Rev. Jesse Jackson told the Tribune that he had grown so concerned about white extremists' threats against the Jena 6 families and perceived injustices in the town that he called the White House over the weekend to ask for immediate federal intervention. Jackson said the acting head of the U.S. Justice Department's civil right division phoned him Monday to say that the agency had begun investigating the Jena situation.
Link (emphasis added)

The Pentagon Shows Us How They're Doing Achieving Victory in Iraq


The Right Wing Desecration of "God Bless America"

This was sung at a recent GOP debate:
Why should God bless America?
She’s forgotten he exists
And has turned her back
On everything that made her what she is

Why should God stand beside her
Through the night with the light from his hand?
God have mercy on America
Forgive her sin and heal our land

The courts ruled prayer out of our schools
In June of ‘62
Told the children “you are your own God now
So you can make the rules”
O say can you see what that choice
Has cost us to this day
America, one nation under God, has gone astray

Why should God bless America?
Shes’s forgotten he exists
And has turned her back on everything
That made her what she is

Why should God stand beside her
Through the night with the light from his hand?
God have mercy on America
Forgive her sins and heal our land

In ‘73 the Courts said we
Could take the unborn lives
The choice is yours don’t worry now
It’s not a wrong, it’s your right

But just because they made it law
Does not change God’s command
The most that we can hope for is
God’s mercy on our land

Why should God bless America?
She’s forgotten he exists
And has turned her back on everything
That made her what she is

Why should God stand beside her
Through the night with the light from his hand?
God have mercy on America
Forgive her sins and heal our land

(Reading from 2nd Chronicles 7:14) If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land

God have mercy on America forgive her sins and heal our land

On to 2008! Let Nothing Stop Us!


Our Leaders' Love for Our Children

Photo link.

And read about the issue here and here and here.

(Second photo link.)

Modern Compassion

See how nicely (not!) kids with problems are treated.

The One Apologist I Like

Well, partly 'cause he only has a teensy amount of blood on his hands and God knows he's putting a lot of energy on banging the drum, as it were.

Reader, here's the Last True Conservative (and he gives old style northeast U.S. conservatism a good name):
John Dean knows something about White House abuse of power. He wrote a bestseller in 2004 on the Bush White House called "Worse Than Watergate." In a recent interview I asked him what he thinks of that title now. Now, he replied, a book comparing Bush and Nixon would have to be called "Much, Much Worse."

"Look at the so-called Watergate abuses of power," he said. "Nobody died. Nobody was tortured. Millions of Americans were not subject to electronic surveillance of their communications. We're playing now in a whole different league."

And how does Bush compare with the Republicans seeking to succeed him? "If a Rudy Giuliani were to be elected," Dean said, "he would go even farther than Cheney and Bush in their worst moments."

What about the rest of the pack? "I'm very concerned about the current attitude in the Republican party," he said. "However there are candidates on the Republican side who are not quite as frightening as Giuliani." When I asked who he had in mind, he laughed and said "Ron Paul." He conceded that "there's no chance he's going to be president."

Dean's new book is "Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches." It's a massively documented and thorough indictment, arguing that, over the last 30 years, Republicans have broken or ignored laws, rules, and the Constitution. He's especially critical of the growth of presidential power under Bush II, and what he calls the "corruption" of the courts by "radical conservatives."

I asked Dean to imagine the moment when Bush leaves office on Jan. 20, 2009, presumably to be replaced by a Democrat, presumably Hillary -- will it then be possible to say "our long national nightmare is over"? Dean replied with one word: "Yes."

He quickly added, "I do feel strongly that the Republicans have so abused the law and embedded so many people within the system, within the executive branch, that's it's going to take a couple of terms of Democratic presidents before you have people there who are representing the American people."

Does that mean he is supporting Hillary? "She's obviously the one the other Democrats have to beat," he said, "but I don't take any position."

How then would he describe his political position? He says in his new book that he's left his "former tribe" - does that make him a Democrat today? "It doesn't," he replied. "I carry water for nobody. My only interest is being an honest information broker about what's happening. I have no agenda other than explaining - and being shocked at my former tribe."

"I've had invitations to become involved with Democrats," he added, "and have turned them all down. I'm an independent. That happens to be the largest group of voters in the country today - we're about 40 per cent strong."

When I pressed Dean to comment on the Democratic candidates, he said he was more interested in whether any Democrats would raise what he called "process" issues - "kind of a dull-sounding word, but actually it's about the machinery of democracy. I was stunned when the Kerry campaign in 2004 totally ignored the remarkable secrecy of the Bush administration. I called the Kerry campaign after the election, and asked them why they hadn't raised this issue. The Kerry people told me, 'We didn't raise it because it's a process issue.'"

"I began making inquiries," he continued, "and found that lots of Democratic party campaign consultants believe that the candidates shouldn't mention process issues. Democrats thought it would make them look wimpy to say 'we're being excluded from the legislative process.' Kerry didn't want to raise secrecy for the same reason - he thought it would sound wimpy."

Was Kerry right about the electorate? "I found that's exactly 180 digress away from the truth," Dean replied. "Most people can't tell you what a motion to recommit is. They don't know about that kind of process. But they know when they're getting screwed. And process is designed to protect the public interest. So people get it when the game of politics is not being played fairly, when one party is using the process for their own benefit. These kinds of things are of great interest to about 20 to 30 million voters."

What about the many more who are apathetic and ignorant -- doesn't that make him pessimistic about political change? Dean conceded that "large segments of the American public are turned off and tuned out from the democratic process. They can't name their senators. They don't know who's the Chief Justice. But the reason I'm optimistic is that I think we have enough proxies in those who are interested. They are fairly representative of those who are not. When you give them the information they need, they do the right thing. That's why I'm trying to give people good information and hard facts to show people what's gone wrong."

What would Jesus Think? The Godly Christian War-Lover

Just the latest riff on an old theme, but I love bashing of the wingnut preachers... and it's from CounterPunch, so it's nice and nasty....

Meanwhile, Jane Smiley's written about another Christofascist, one who's seen the error of his ways, well after all the damage has been done. (I also hate these whining after-the-fact apologists.)

Rightist Dementia of the Day

I don't have the energy or interest in copying any of this piece, it's just too demented....

Like, Betray-us, the partisan stooge, is exceptional; the rest of the military leadership is betraying our forces. This is proof that Faux news really reports news and is not just a propaganda outlet for the wingnuts. (Actually, all Faux is doing is linking to a whacko contributor's piece, not actually reporting.)

Meanwhile, here's more and yet more....

And the General reminds us not to dis Rush for a while....

Mystery of the Day

But who wrote the book?