30 January 2006

Heck of a job, Condi

When it comes to the current White House, I can never
quite decide which is the greater offense -- the cynical
dishonesty or the gross incompetence. Case in point,
today’s NY Times:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
acknowledged Sunday that the United
States had failed to understand the depth
of hostility among Palestinians toward
their longtime leaders. The hostility led
to an election victory by the militant group
Hamas that has reduced to tatters crucial
assumptions underlying American policies
and hopes in the Middle East.

"I've asked why nobody saw it coming,"
Ms. Rice said, speaking of her own staff.
"It does say something about us not having
a good enough pulse."

“Good enough pulse?” What the hell does that even
mean? But more importantly... is she fucking serious?!

Nobody saw it coming?!

Just like the way nobody saw this? Or this? Or this?

Yeah, I guess it is pretty tough to see things clearly
when you’ve got your head stuck all the way up your
own ass.

28 January 2006

Cheesy Democracy

When it became crystal clear to everyone in America that
there were no WMD in Iraq, the official rationalization for
war (and Bush’s foreign policy in general) quickly became:

Creating democracy in the Middle-East.

Great idea, right?
So... how’s it all working out?

Juan Cole writes

The stunning victory of the militant Muslim
fundamentalist Hamas Party in the Palestinian
elections underlines the central contradictions
in the Bush administration's policies toward
the Middle East. Bush pushes for elections,
confusing them with democracy, but seems
blind to the dangers of right-wing populism.
At the same time, he continually undermines
the moderate and secular forces in the region
by acting high-handedly or allowing his clients
to do so. As a result, Sunni fundamentalist
parties, some with ties to violent cells, have
emerged as key players in Iraq, Egypt and

Democracy depends not just on elections but
on a rule of law, on stable institutions, on basic
economic security for the population, and on
checks and balances that forestall a tyranny of
the majority. Elections in the absence of this
key societal context can produce authoritarian
regimes and abuses as easily as they can
produce genuine people power. Bush is on the
whole unwilling to invest sufficiently in these
key institutions and practices abroad. And by
either creating or failing to deal with hated
foreign occupations, he has sown the seeds for
militant Islamist movements that gain
popularity because of their nationalist

In other words, we’re creating more terrorists.

Read more at Professor Cole's blog, Informed Comment.

25 January 2006

"Sweaty Chump"

Scott McLellan on The Daily Show, here.

24 January 2006


Could it really happen?

Sources said the probe to determine whether
the president violated the law will include
Republicans, but that they may not be aware
they could be helping to lay the groundwork for
a Democratic impeachment campaign against
Mr. Bush.

"Our arithmetic shows that a majority of the
committee could vote against the president,"
the source said. "If we work hard, there could
be a tie."

The law limits the government surveillance to
no more than 72 hours without a court
warrant. The president, citing his constitutional
war powers, has pledged to continue wiretaps
without a warrant.

The hearings would be accompanied by several
lawsuits against the administration connected
to the surveillance program. At the same time,
the Electronic Privacy Information Center has
filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that
demands information about the NSA spying.

Sen. Arlen Specter, Senate Judiciary
Committee chairman and Pennsylvania
Republican, has acknowledged that the
hearings could conclude with a vote of whether
Mr. Bush violated the law. Mr. Specter, a critic
of the administration's surveillance program,
stressed that, although he would not seek it,
impeachment is a possible outcome.

"Impeachment is a remedy," Mr. Specter said
on Jan. 15. "After impeachment, you could
have a criminal prosecution. But the principal
remedy under our society is to pay a political

Will the law finally catch up to George W. Bush?

Will he finally face his Kobayashi Maru?

Steve Gilliard says probably not.


Because he is a coward. Bush could NEVER
take the brutal questioning which would start
with wiretaps and end with Iraq and Niger.

Make no mistake, Bush talks big, but he's never
had a big fight in his life, and if Rove is facing
indictment, and his flank exposed, Bush will
resign like Nixon, because Poppy and Bar will
not let him disgrace the family name by being
forced out.

If this Congress seriously considers
impeachment, as a way to save their jobs if
nothing else, Bush is done. And the serious
people in Congress are getting nervous. You
have the worst of both worlds, a weak,
risktaking president aquiring [sic] power and
brazenly defending law breaking.

23 January 2006

Cheesy Leadership

Has Hillary officially jumped the shark?

Molly Ivins seems to think so. Like many progressives, she’s
grown weary of Senator Clinton’s cynical pandering and
tepid leadership.

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation
and equivocation. Enough clever
straddling, enough not offending anyone.
This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen.
Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a
clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that
alone is enough to disqualify her. Her
failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to
mention that gross pandering on flag-
burning, are just contemptible little

And it sure doesn’t help that she has a tin ear.

But surely there is someone in the Democratic Party
(besides John Murtha) who understands what it means to
lead an opposition party against a corrupt government
that ignores mainstream American values.

What kind of courage does it take, for
mercy's sake? The majority of the
American people (55 percent) think the
war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should
get out. The majority (65 percent) of the
American people want single-payer health
care and are willing to pay more taxes to
get it. The majority (86 percent) of the
American people favor raising the
minimum wage. The majority of the
American people (60 percent) favor
repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those
that go only to the rich. The majority (66
percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by
cutting domestic spending, but by
reducing Pentagon spending or raising

The majority (77 percent) thinks we
should do "whatever it takes" to protect
the environment. The majority (87
percent) thinks big oil companies are
gouging consumers and would support a
windfall profits tax. That is the center, you

18 January 2006

Star Cheese

And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we're apart

You wander down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that will not die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by

In one of the most detailed astronomical images ever
produced, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured
an unprecedented look at the Orion Nebula. This
turbulent star formation region is one of astronomy's
most dramatic and photogenic celestial objects.

"Orion is a bustling cauldron of activity. This new
large-scale Hubble image of the region reveals a
treasure-house of beauty and astonishing detail for
comprehensive scientific study," said Jennifer
Wiseman, NASA's Hubble program scientist.

Hello Nello

Mom always said never go blog surfing on an empty stomach.

16 January 2006

Founders and Kings

Al Gore celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by giving
an important history lesson in Washington.

At present, we still have much to learn about the
NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know
about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels
the conclusion that the President of the United
States has been breaking the law repeatedly and

A president who breaks the law is a threat to the
very structure of our government. Our Founding
Fathers were adamant that they had established a
government of laws and not men. Indeed, they
recognized that the structure of government they
had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of
checks and balances - was designed with a central
purpose of ensuring that it would govern through
the rule of law. As John Adams said: "The executive
shall never exercise the legislative and judicial
powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be
a government of laws and not of men."

An executive who arrogates to himself the power to
ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the
Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary
becomes the central threat that the Founders sought
to nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful
executive too reminiscent of the King from whom
they had broken free. In the words of James Madison,
"the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive,
and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a
few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed,
or elective, may justly be pronounced the very
definition of tyranny."

Thomas Paine, whose pamphlet, "On Common Sense"
ignited the American Revolution, succinctly described
America's alternative. Here, he said, we intended to
make certain that "the law is king."

Take the time to read the entire speech, here (and consider how
much better the past five years might have been if the guy with
the most votes had won in 2000.)

13 January 2006

Old Cheese

I'm away on cheesy business this week. Can't do much blogging.
In the meantime, here is an interesting website that should
keep you occupied for a while.

09 January 2006

Studs Terkel: "An Act of Guys"

"It's not an act of God, it's an act of guys -- guys
exploiting other guys!
" Studs spat, righteous
indignation flushing his already rosy cheeks. "Ya see,
when you say, 'false hope,' you hope that God was on
their side. And it's not an act of God, it's an act of man!
There were a couple hundred violations and who
oversees that?
. . . And if they're fined 250 bucks it's
like two cents."

The real false hope, and Studs believes there is indeed
such a thing, was not that families were told a dozen
men who were already dead were alive, but the
circumstances that led to their deaths in the first

"False hope is [believing that] the company is taking
care of all the regulations. It's man who betrayed, not
God, unless you look as God as a certain force, as I do
. . . God in every person. We have the potential to be
brighter than we are. We have the potential to be
better than we are. And that's the God in us, to me."

08 January 2006

TV Guide: Frank Rich

If fictional terrorists concocted by Hollywood can figure
out that the National Security Agency is listening to their
every call, guess what? Real-life terrorists know this, too.
So when a hyperventilating President Bush rants that the
exposure of his warrant-free wiretapping in a newspaper
is shameful and puts "our citizens at risk" by revealing our
espionage playbook, you have to wonder what he is really
trying to hide. Our enemies, as America has learned the
hard way, are not morons. Even if Al Qaeda hasn't seen
"Sleeper Cell" because it refuses to spring for pay cable,
it has surely assumed from the get-go that the White
House would ignore legal restraints on eavesdropping,
just as it has on detainee jurisprudence and torture.

07 January 2006


"After the Abramoff thing we got critical mass,"
said Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who long had advocated
new leadership.

While Flake is a conservative in a safe congressional
district, others suddenly calling for change were more
moderate Republicans who could face difficult
re-election campaigns this fall.

New Mexico's Heather Wilson was among them.

She said three of DeLay's "former senior staff members
have admitted or have been implicated in corrupt and
illegal activities to get money for themselves by
influencing legislation. Whether or not Mr. DeLay was
involved himself or knew this was going on, he is
responsible for his office

06 January 2006

Meeting Adjourned

Brad DeLong breaks down the numbers on President Bush’s
“council of elders” Iraq policy meeting.

Thirteen Secretaries of State and Defense.
Ten minutes--half of which is spent with Bush
talking. Five minutes times sixty seconds per
minute divided by thirteen equals twenty-
three seconds per Secretary.

Atrios: "Chumps."

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A spree of bloodshed that
killed nearly 200 people in two days,
including 11 U.S. troops, threatened to
provoke a backlash from Shiite militias. Iraq's
largest religious group rallied thousands
Friday against what it claimed was American
backing for some Sunni Arab politicians they
say have supported insurgents.

Military officials announced the deaths of six
more U.S. troops in the recent violence that
has swept Iraq, bringing to 11 the number of
Americans killed on the same day.

In Baghdad's Sadr City slum and in its
northern Kazimiyah suburb, thousands of
angry Shiites rallied to condemn twin suicide
attacks Thursday that killed at least 136
people, including the U.S. troops.

The protesters also denounced what they
claimed was American backing for Sunni
Arabs politicians who have supported
insurgent groups and are now protesting that
last month's elections were tainted by fraud.

Damn Dirty Apes

Yet another reason to stay away from WALMART. I wonder what
Queen Latifah thinks about this.

05 January 2006

Listen Up

Andrea Mitchell dropped a bomb in her interview with James
Risen, the NY Times reporter who broke the NSA wiretaps story.

MITCHELL: Do you have any information about
reporters being swept up in this net?

RISEN: No, I don't. It's not clear to me. That's one
of the questions we'll have to look into the future.
Were there abuses of this program or not? I don't
know the answer to that

MITCHELL: You don't have any information, for
instance, that a very prominent journalist,
Christiane Amanpour, might have been
eavesdropped upon?

RISEN: No, no I hadn't heard that.

NBC promptly deleted this part of the transcript and issued
the following statement:

Unfortunately this transcript was released
prematurely. It was a topic on which we had not
completed our reporting, and it was not broadcast
on 'NBC Nightly News' nor on any other NBC
News program. We removed that section of the
transcript so that we may further continue our

Aravosis is all over the story, and also links to this post from
Attytood which lists several reasons why the White House
might choose to spy on Amanpour.

The least cynical answer would be because her
recent reporting would have brought her into
direct contact with members of al Qaeda. In
August 2002, not long after Bush began to
authorize the warrantless spying program,
Amanpour worked with CNN's Nic Robertson
on a special that was billed as an inside view
of al-Qaeda.

. . .

Then there is the issue of Amanpour's husband,
Jamie Rubin, former official in the Clinton
administration State Department. You may have
forgotten (we did, frankly), but Rubin re-emerged
in 2004 -- as a foreign policy advisor to John
Kerry. Do husbands and wives use the same
telephones and computers? Is the Pope German?

04 January 2006

Hail Satan!

Several bloggers noted Chris Matthews’ pathetic spin-job on
Hardball yesterday. But not surprisingly, James Wolcott puts
it best.

His performance [Tuesday] after the announcement
of the Jack Abramoff plea was a power-bottom tour
de force. He gave the Republican establishment a
complete pass. He insisted against all evidence
under heaven and stars that this was not a partisan
scandal, that 99% of elected officials were honest
and upright, that "Duke" Cunningham was sort of a
lone wolf, and that Abramoff was a Vautrin-like
villain and corrupter of souls.

Okay, Matthews didn't invoke Vautrin. He said
Satan. I just threw in Vautrin for you Balzac fans
out there.

At first, this looked like just another example of corporate
media sucking up to power. But today at AMERICAblog,
John Aravosis digs up evidence that Matthews helped
organize an event for Abramoff’s bogus charity, Capital
Athletic Foundation.

Plans for the event were mentioned in The Hollywood
in March 2003:

It's called the Interactive Spy Game Gala.
Scheduled for March 26 at the International Spy
Museum in Washington, the event's purpose is to
raise about $300,000 for the Capital Athletic

Fox News Channel's Tony Snow is master of
ceremonies, and Fox's Brit Hume and MSNBC's
Chris Matthews are aboard. Opera great Placido
Domingo is an event committee member. But, this
being Washington, the event will be mostly
populated by powerful lawmakers, including Rep.
Tom DeLay, R-Texas; Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.;
and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.

I don’t see too many Democrats on that list, do you?

Fortunately for Tweedy, the event was canceled due to the
sudden invasion of Iraq. But there are still several questions
that need answers. Does Matthews have other ties to Abramoff
that he’s hiding from his viewers? Is it really ethical for a
journalist to participate in what is essentially a partisan
political event? (Hint: No, it’s not.) And how can that
journalist expect to maintain any shred of credibility or
objectivity on this issue now that we know he’s done a favor
for “Satan” himself?

What do you say Chris? Let’s play hardball.

03 January 2006

Hit the Road, Jack

But I hope you’ll put in a few kind words for your friends
before you go.

WASHINGTON - Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist
who spawned a congressional corruption
scandal, pleaded guilty Tuesday to three felonies
and pledged to cooperate in a criminal probe
edging closer to former House Majority Leader
Tom DeLay.

"I plead guilty, your honor," Abramoff said in
flat, unemotional tones, accepting a plea
bargain that said he had provided lavish trips,
golf outings, meals and more to public officials
"in exchange for a series of official acts."

In one case, he reported payments totaling
$50,000 to the wife of a congressional aide to
help block legislation for a client. The aide
worked for DeLay, according to officials who
spoke on condition of anonymity.

Public corruption aside, Abramoff admitted
defrauding four Indian tribes and other clients,
taking millions in kickbacks from a one-time
business partner, misusing a charity he had
established and failing to pay income taxes on
millions of ill-gotten gains.

He is expected to plead guilty to additional
charges on Wednesday in Florida in connection
with charges stemming from the 2000 purchase
of a fleet of gambling boats.

At the Justice Department, officials said they
intend to make use of the trove of e-mails and
other material in Abramoff's possession as part
of a probe that is believed to be focusing on as
many as 20 members of Congress and aides.

"This investigation continues ... however long
it takes, wherever it leads," said Alice Fisher,
assistant attorney general.

01 January 2006

Cheesy Jobs

And you thought your job sucks...

The last three months have been rough for many of
Kansas' nearly 650 high school biology teachers. In
October, "Kansas biology teacher" made the top 10 in
Popular Science magazine's annual list of the "Worst
Jobs in Science." It came in at No. 3, surpassed only
by animal "Manure Inspector" and the worst job of all:
"Human Lab Rat."

. . .

A survey of science teachers in March by the National
Science Teachers Association found 31 percent felt
pressured to include creationism, intelligent design or
other non-scientific alternatives to evolution in their
classes; an equal number felt pushed to de-emphasize
or omit evolution. Teachers said the pressure comes
from parents and students, not administrators.

In the case of Kansas, ridicule is coming from all sides.
"How do you feel when you say, ‘I'm Ken Bingman and
I've been teaching biology for 43 years and I'm from
Kansas,'" and you are greeted by peals of laughter,
said Bingman, recalling a regional meeting of the NSTA
in early December "It's pretty sad."