Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Nation Magazine endorses Dennis Kucinich

Election '08

In his stands on the issues, Dennis Kucinich comes closest to embodying the ideals of this magazine. He has been a forceful critic of the Bush Administration, opposing the Patriot Act and spearheading the motion to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. He is the only candidate to have voted against the Iraq War in 2003 and has voted against funding it ever since. Of all the serious candidates, only he and Governor Bill Richardson propose a full and immediate withdrawal from Iraq. And only Kucinich's plan sets aside funds for reparations. Moreover, Kucinich has used his presidential campaigns to champion issues like cutting the military budget and abolishing nuclear weapons; universal, single-payer healthcare; campaign finance reform; same-sex marriage and an end to the death penalty and the war on drugs. A vote for him would be a principled one.

But for reasons that have to do with the corrupting influence of money and media on national elections as well as with his campaign's shortcomings--such as its failure to organize a grassroots base of donors and web activists--a democratic mass movement has not coalesced around Kucinich's run for President. The progressive vision is there, but the strategy necessary to win and then govern is lacking. In most cases, the rules of the Iowa caucus require that a candidate reach 15 percent of the vote to achieve "viability"; supporters of candidates who fail to do so can choose another candidate. Simply put, many Iowans will soon face a question that the rest of us may have to answer later: if not Dennis, then who...[Open in new window]
Progressives, To Arms!
Forget about Bush—and the middle ground.
By Paul Krugman
Posted Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2007, at 7:53 AM ET


But Bush will soon be gone. What progressives should be focused on now is taking on the political movement that brought Bush to power. In short, what we need right now isn't Bush bashing—what we need is partisanship.


The question, however, is whether Democrats will take advantage of America's new liberalism. To do that, they have to be ready to forcefully make the case that progressive goals are right and conservatives are wrong. They also need to be ready to fight some very nasty political battles.


A year ago, Michael Tomasky wrote a perceptive piece titled "Obama the anti-Bush," in which he described Barack Obama's appeal: After the bitter partisanship of the Bush years, Tomasky argued, voters are attracted to "someone who speaks of his frustration with our polarized politics and his fervent desire to transcend the red-blue divide." People in the news media, in particular, long for an end to the polarization and partisanship of the Bush years—a fact that probably explains the highly favorable coverage Obama has received.

But any attempt to change America's direction, to implement a real progressive agenda, will necessarily be highly polarizing. Proposals for universal health care, in particular, are sure to face a firestorm of partisan opposition. And fundamental change can't be accomplished by a politician who shuns partisanship.

I like to remind people who long for bipartisanship that FDR's drive to create Social Security was as divisive as Bush's attempt to dismantle it. And we got Social Security because FDR wasn't afraid of division. In his great Madison Square Garden speech, he declared of the forces of "organized money": "Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred."...[Open in new window]

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

From Buffalo Beast's 50 Most Loathsome List:

16. Chris Matthews

Charges: Calling his show "Hardball" is like rechristening ping-pong "Thermonuclear Warfare." Displays the slurred, unmodulated speech and unfocused antagonism of an aggrieved middle-management drunk. Can read a scurrilous political attack into any paragraph at twenty paces. Continues honing his pointless questions as his guests attempt to answer, cutting them off with an affected imperial weariness when their responses are insufficiently inane. Apparently ignorant of the implications of satellite technology, Matthews shouts louder at geographically more distant guests. Has repeatedly called Ann Coulter "brilliant." Referred to Gerald Ford's yuletide demise as the former president's "Christmas card to the country." Unable to laugh like a normal human, Matthews compensates by simply shouting "ha!"

Exhibit A: "This country is based on generalizations!"

Sentence: Hillary's White House Press Secretary and personal toilet steward.

2. Dick Cheney

Charges: Worst president ever. So openly horrible, he now makes jokes about being Darth Vader. Unashamedly advocating for executive abuse of power and corporate theft. In and out of public office since his congressional internship during the Nixon Administration. Didn't care about the quagmire he foresaw in '94, because since then he'd deftly maneuvered to profit from it. Polling lower than HPV.

Exhibit A: His Halliburton stock rose 3000% in 2007. No joke.

Punishment: Raped by the sun.

Read the rest:[Open in new window]
Bill O'Reilly, Chris Matthews Among Columnist's 'P.u.-litzer' Winners
By E&P Staff
Published: December 24, 2007

NEW YORK Bill O'Reilly and The New York Times are among the "winners" of the 16th-annual "P.u.-litzer Prizes" that will be announced in this weekend's column by Norman Solomon. Solomon's column is distributed by Creators Syndicate, which also distributes a newspaper column by Fox News host O'Reilly.

O'Reilly is getting the 2007 "P.u.-litzer" for telling GOP presidential candidate John McCain in May: "(D)o you understand what The New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you’re a part of, and so am I. And they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right." Buchanan writes a Creators column, too.

Another "P.u.-litzer" recipient is Michael Gordon of The New York Times. Gordon was "honored" because "continuing where he left off before the Iraq invasion, when he used unnamed official sources to produce wildly inaccurate page-one articles on Iraq's alleged weapons threat, Gordon in February wrote a front-page story with the stunning claim that Iran's Supreme Leader had approved sending lethal explosives into Iraq to attack U.S. soldiers. (Even President Bush soon backed away from the claim.)"

The Times itself is also given a "P.u.-litzer" for its February description of Vice President Dick Cheney (who has pushed a reckless foreign policy) as "a sober-minded policy architect."

In addition, Solomon is awarding a "P.u.-litzer" to MSNBC "Hardball" host (and former syndicated columnist) Chris Matthews for fawning over GOP candidate Fred Thompson. Matthews said in June: "Can you smell the English Leather on this guy, the Aqua Velva, the sort of mature man's shaving cream...? Do you smell that sort of -- a little bit of cigar smoke?"

There are also other "winners" named by Solomon -- who compiled the "P.u.-litzer" list along with Jeff Cohen (author of "Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media") and the liberal media-watch group FAIR (which Cohen founded)...[Open in new window]
U.S. soldiers inspect the wreckage of a burnt vehicle at the scene of a bomb attack in Baghdad December 24, 2007. A car bomb killed one person and wounded five others on Sinak Bridge in central Baghdad, police said.
REUTERS/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud (IRAQ)

A man picks up body parts after a suicide truck bomb attack in Baiji December 25, 2007. A suicide truck bomb killed at least 20 people and wounded 80 in the northern Iraqi city of Baiji on Tuesday, the U.S. military and police said, in one of the deadliest attacks in Iraq in two weeks. A Reuters photographer on the scene said the attack targeted a security checkpoint on a road leading to a residential compound housing employees of Northern Oil Company.

Rescue workers clear the rubble after a suicide truck bomb attack in Baiji December 25, 2007. The suicide truck bomb killed at least 20 people and wounded 80 in the northern Iraqi city of Baiji on Tuesday, the U.S. military and police said, in one of the deadliest attacks in Iraq in two weeks. A Reuters photographer on the scene said the attack targeted a security checkpoint on a road leading to a residential compound housing employees of Northern Oil Company.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – It's hard to imagine a tough guy from Texas(* see note) shopping for a pocketbook, but President Bush gave his wife a new purse and a silver tray for Christmas, according to an aide to First Lady Laura Bush.

Sally McDonough, the First Lady's spokeswoman, said that in turn Mrs. Bush is helping quench the President's thirst for vigorous bike rides, even during the frosty months. "For the President, Mrs. Bush is helping to outfit him for cold weather mountain biking," said McDonough. "With a new coat and warming soles."

Meanwhile, the President and Mrs. Bush gave their daughters, Jenna and Barbara, unspecified "household items for their apartments," according to McDonough.

The twin girls are among several family members spending the Christmas holiday at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. Others attending the celebration included the First Lady's mother, Jenna Welch, as well as two of the President's siblings — sister Doro Bush Koch and brother Marvin — along with their families.

The family dined on a luncheon feast that included roast turkey, sweet potato casserole and no less than three desserts: red velvet cake as well as pecan and pumpkin pies, according to a menu released by the White House.

The President will get a chance to digest all of that, and prepare for a busy year ahead, starting Wednesday when he heads to Crawford, Texas, to spend a few days relaxing at his ranch through New Year's Day. Bush kicks off a busy year of international travel January 8, when he heads to Israel to work on Mideast peace on a trip that will also include stops in nations like Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

*GWB is a prep school wienie born in Conecticut. He was a cheerleader. His 'ranch' was purchased shortly before the 2000 (s)election for photo ops & private binge drinking.

Needless to say he is an insult to the very concept of a human being.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Italy seeks Condor plot suspects

Prosecutors in Italy have issued arrest warrants for 140 people over a decades-old plot by South American dictatorships called Operation Condor.

One man - 60-year-old Uruguayan former naval intelligence officer Nestor Jorge Fernandez Troccoli - has already been arrested in Salerno, south Italy.

Under Operation Condor, six governments worked together from the 1970s to hunt down and kill left-wing opponents.

Italian authorities have been looking into the plot since the late 1990s.

The investigation followed complaints by relatives of South American citizens of Italian origin who had disappeared.

A judge issued the arrest warrants on Monday, following a request from state prosecutor Giancarlo Capaldo.

Argentina: 61
Uruguay: 32
Chile: 22
Brazil: 13
Bolivia: 7
Paraguay: 7
Peru: 4
Source: Efe news agency

In total, 146 arrest warrants were issued, reported Spanish news agency Efe, but the list contains the names of six people who are now dead - including Chile's former leader Augusto Pinochet.

Citizens of Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru are on the list.

Mr Troccoli, who was arrested at the home in Salerno in which he has lived for several years, will be transferred to a jail in Rome to face questioning on 26 or 27 December, Efe reported.

Exiles hunted

Among the other names on the list are the former Argentine military leader Jorge Rafael Videla, Argentine former naval chief admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera, and ex-Uruguayan junta leader Jorge Maria Bordaberry.

Those named face charges ranging from lesser crimes to kidnappings and multiple murders.

Under Operation Condor - thought to have been launched in 1975 and running into the 1980s - the six military governments agreed to co-operate in sending teams into other countries to track, monitor and kill their political opponents.

As a result, many left-wing opponents of military regimes in the region who had fled to neighbouring countries found themselves hunted down in exile.

The still unresolved plot continues to cast a shadow over present-day governments in South America, say correspondents...[Open in new window]

Townsend: fear of subpoenas ‘crippling’ White House.

In an interview with the NY Times, President Bush’s outgoing homeland security aide Francis Fragos Townsend said she was concerned about “the acrimony” that hangs over Bush’s last year in office. “I find it both offensive and crippling,” she said. “When both career people and political people are worried about getting subpoenaed, it’s hard to get a lot accomplished.” Steve Benen responds, “Oh, those poor, poor White House officials. If only Congress would go back to ignoring the administration’s scandalous, sometimes criminal, behavior, the president and his aides would find it much easier to go about their business without the fear of accountability.”
"Hey soldier is you dead yet?
I'm toasted; been drinkin' since I woke up. Bye now. Snurk, snurk snurk."

This handout photo provided by the White House shows President Bush as he makes Christmas Eve telephone calls to members of the Armed Forces, Monday, Dec. 24, 2007, from at Camp David, Md. AP Photo/White House, Eric Draper)
Good and Evil at the Center of the Earth:
A Quechua Christmas Carol
by Greg Palast

December 24th, 2007

I don't know what the hell seized me. In the middle of an hour-long interview with the President of Ecuador, I asked him about his father.

I'm not Barbara Walters. It's not the kind of question I ask.

He hesitated. Then said, "My father was unemployed.”

He paused. Then added, "He took a little drugs to the States... This is called in Spanish a mula . He passed four years in the states- in a jail.”

He continued. "I'd never talked about my father before."

Apparently he hadn't. His staff stood stone silent, eyes widened.

Correa's dad took that frightening chance in the 1960s, a time when his family, like almost all families in Ecuador, was destitute. Ecuador was the original "banana republic" - and the price of bananas had hit the floor. A million desperate Ecuadorans, probably a tenth of the entire adult population, fled to the USA anyway they could.

"My mother told us he was working in the States."

His father, released from prison, was deported back to Ecuador. Humiliated, poor, broken, his father, I learned later, committed suicide.

At the end of our formal interview, through a doorway surrounded by paintings of the pale plutocrats who once ruled this difficult land, he took me into his own Oval Office. I asked him about an odd-looking framed note he had on the wall. It was, he said, from his daughter and her grade school class at Christmas time. He translated for me.

"We are writing to remind you that in Ecuador there are a lot of very poor children in the streets and we ask you please to help these children who are cold almost every night.”

It was kind of corny. And kind of sweet. A smart display for a politician.

Or maybe there was something else to it.

Correa is one of the first dark-skinned men to win election to this Quechua and mixed-race nation. Certainly, one of the first from the streets. He'd won a surprise victory over the richest man in Ecuador, the owner of the biggest banana plantation...[Open in new window]

Why is it that most Southern Republicans seem like nazis?

I guess it's because they are.

Fred Thompson: Immigrants deserve some blame for mortgage crisis, Spanish language is 'sickening'

During what must've been a strenuous day of campaigning in Iowa, GOP candidate Fred Thompson told potential voters at his one-and-only appearance that immigrants deserve some of the blame for the mortgage crisis.

"A lot of them couldn't communicate with the people they were getting the mortgage from," the lagging Republican told an Iowa audience during his "Clear Conservative Choice bus tour," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Thompson's stop in Mason City, Iowa, allowed him to play on Republicans' fears of immigrants and riff on apparent frustration with hearing options in Spanish on recorded phone messages. Janice Easley, one voter in the audience, was boiling with frustration at having to hear, "Para el español, prensa dos," whenever she called the power company. "Everything is in Spanish," she said. "It's sickening."

"You are so, so right," Thompson said, calling for English to be made the national language, before placing the blame for the sub-prime mortgage crisis on non-English-speakers...[Open in new window]
From the Concord, NH Monitor


Romney should not be the next president

Monitor staff

If you were building a Republican presidential candidate from a kit, imagine what pieces you might use: an athletic build, ramrod posture, Reaganesque hair, a charismatic speaking style and a crisp dark suit. You'd add a beautiful wife and family, a wildly successful business career and just enough executive government experience. You'd pour in some old GOP bromides - spending cuts and lower taxes - plus some new positions for 2008: anti-immigrant rhetoric and a focus on faith.

Add it all up and you get Mitt Romney, a disquieting figure who sure looks like the next president and most surely must be stopped...[Open in new window]

Healer In Chief

Bush To Check Out This 'World' Everyone's Whining About

Apparently, the president has caught wind of the fact that his visionary leadership has driven world opinion of This Great Nation into the shitter, forcing American students all over the world to act Canadian. And Bush will spend calendar year 2008 traveling abroad to restore our tattered image. Or at least that’s the angle in this Bloomberg story. We have to admit guys, we’re skeptical.

Since Bush has, you know, nothing to do here in Washington on account of being totally irrelevant to the legislative process except for demanding money for war and vetoing medicine for sick children, he’s putting on his “senior statesman” hat (weird though, it has beer cans afixed to either side) and will set world opinion about his policies straight, just in time for President Rev. Huckabee to lead us into the End of Days in 2009. But the White House wants you to know that this isn’t some kind of pussy-ass diplomatic trip. This is the kind with balls of steel.

“We want to be well-perceived in the world,” [Deputy National Security Adviser Jim] Jeffrey said in an interview. “But more importantly, we want to formulate policies that will protect the American people.”

Really? Since when? Are you referring to the six years spent invading, torturing and bombing? Yes, nine months of traveling should clear that right up...[Open in new window]

A 'winnable' nuclear war!?!? The mind boggles. It was funny when George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson talked about it in DR. STRANGELOVE. It was absurd. Now the NeoCons & military-industrial-media complex shills take the adsurdity as real. They're salivating for war.

US report: Israel would weather nuclear war with Iran

Study compiled by US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), headed by a former Pentagon analyst, explores several hypothetical scenarios for unconventional warfare in our region. Authors find ‘Israel’s residents and economy could weather nuclear war with Iran’

by Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 12.24.07, 10:11 / Israel News

WASHINGTON- All out nuclear war between Israel and Iran: a doomsday scenario that we all fear deeply. A new study compiled by the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), headed by former Pentagon analyst Anthony H. Cordesman, explored just such a nightmare scenario, noting that it could lead to the death of between 16- 28 million Iranian civilians, and 200-800 thousand Israelis.

As pertains to nuclear warfare, the study found that an Israeli nuclear scrimmage with Iran would most likely last for about three weeks. Aside from the aforementioned direct casualties, the study could not determine how many additional long-term casualties would arise from fallout and radiation in the weeks and months following such an attack.

One essential requirement for nuclear confrontation in our region, according to the study, is allowing Iran’s nuclear program to develop, unhindered by a pre-emptive strike by either Israel or the United States. If US or Israeli preemption does not occur, the study found, Iran could very well have 30 nuclear warheads available for warfare between 2010-2020. Israel, by comparison, currently has 200 nuclear war heads with both air and sea launch capabilities, according to the study...[Open in new window]
Warnings about Blackwater unheeded
Despite shootings, security companies expanded their presence in Iraq
By Steve Fainaru
The Washington Post
updated 8:31 p.m. PT, Sun., Dec. 23, 2007

The U.S. government disregarded numerous warnings over the past two years about the risks of using Blackwater Worldwide and other private security firms in Iraq, expanding their presence even after a series of shooting incidents showed that the firms were operating with little regulation or oversight, according to government officials, private security firms and documents.

The warnings were conveyed in letters and memorandums from defense and legal experts and in high-level discussions between U.S. and Iraqi officials. They reflected growing concern about the lack of control over the tens of thousands of private guards in Iraq, the largest private security force ever employed by the United States in wartime.

Neither the Pentagon nor the State Department took substantive action to regulate private security companies until Blackwater guards opened fire Sept. 16 at a Baghdad traffic circle, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and provoking protests over the role of security contractors in Iraq.

"Why is it they couldn't see this coming?" said Christopher Beese, chief administrative officer for ArmorGroup International, a British security firm with extensive operations in Iraq. "That amazes me. Somebody -- it could have been military officers, it could have been State -- anybody could have waved a flag and said, 'Stop, this is not good news for us.' "...[Open in new window]

CIA chief to drag White House into torture cover-up storm

THE CIA chief who ordered the destruction of secret videotapes recording the harsh interrogation of two top Al-Qaeda suspects has indicated he may seek immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying before the House intelligence committee.

Jose Rodriguez, former head of the CIA’s clandestine service, is determined not to become the fall guy in the controversy over the CIA’s use of torture, according to intelligence sources.

It has emerged that at least four White House staff were approached for advice about the tapes, including David Addington, a senior aide to Dick Cheney, the vice-president, but none has admitted to recommending their destruction.

Vincent Cannistraro, former head of counterterrorism at the CIA, said it was impossible for Rodriguez to have acted on his own: “If everybody was against the decision, why in the world would Jose Rodriguez – one of the most cautious men I have ever met – have gone ahead and destroyed them?”

The tapes recorded the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, two suspected Al-Qaeda leaders, over hundreds of hours while they were held in secret “ghost” prisons. According to testimony from a former CIA officer, Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding, a form of torture that simulates drowning, and “broke” after 35 seconds. He is believed to have been interrogated in Thailand. The tapes were destroyed in 2005. Both men are now held in Guantanamo Bay...[Open in new window]
CIA vs Cheney; epic.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

From The Sunday Times
December 23, 2007
The torture tape fingering Bush as a war criminal
Andrew Sullivan

And now we have found out that all the tapes have been destroyed.

See what I mean by Hollywood? We know about the destruction because someone in the government told The New York Times. We also know the 9/11 Commission had asked the administration to furnish every piece of relevant evidence with respect to Zubaydah’s interrogation and was not told about the tapes. We know also that four senior aides to Bush and Dick Cheney, the vice-president, discussed the destruction of the tapes - including David Addington, Cheney’s right-hand man and the chief legal architect of the administration’s detention and interrogation policies.

At a press conference last Thursday the president gave an equivocal response to what he knew about the tapes and when he knew it: “The first recollection is when CIA director Mike Hayden briefed me.” That briefing was earlier this month. The president is saying he cannot recall something - not that it didn’t happen. That’s the formulation all lawyers tell their clients to use when they need to avoid an exposable lie.


But this case is more ominous for the administration because it presents a core example of what seems to be a cover-up, obstruction of justice and a direct connection between torture and the president, the vice-president and their closest aides.

Because several courts had pending cases in which testimony from Zubaydah’s interrogation was salient, the destruction of such evidence triggers a legal process that is hard for the executive branch to stymie or stall - and its first attempt was flatly rebuffed by a judge last week.

Its key argument is a weakly technical one: that the interrogation took place outside US territory - and therefore the courts do not have jurisdiction over it. It’s the same rationale for imprisoning hundreds of suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba - a legal no man’s land. But Congress can get involved - especially if it believes that what we have here is a cover-up.

What are the odds that a legal effective interrogation of a key Al-Qaeda operative would have led many highly respected professionals in the US intelligence community to risk their careers by leaking top-secret details to the press?

What are the odds that the CIA would have sought to destroy tapes that could prove it had legally prevented serious and dangerous attacks against innocent civilians? What are the odds that a president who had never authorised waterboarding would be unable to say whether such waterboarding was torture?

What are the odds that, under congressional grilling, the new attorney-general would also refuse to say whether he believed waterboarding was illegal, if there was any doubt that the president had authorised it? The odds are beyond minimal.

Any reasonable person examining all the evidence we have - without any bias - would conclude that the overwhelming likelihood is that the president of the United States authorised illegal torture of a prisoner and that the evidence of the crime was subsequently illegally destroyed...[Open in new window]
Norman's Conquest
Why Rudy Giuliani loves Norman Podhoretz
By Jacob Heilbrunn

When Norman Mailer died in November, it was hard not to feel a twinge of melancholy and nostalgia for the vanished world of the New York Family of intellectuals. In the past decade, many of its most colorful members have passed away—among them Leslie Fiedler, Saul Bellow, and Seymour Martin Lipset. A surviving neoconservative remnant that includes Irving Kristol and Gertrude Himmelfarb has reached its dotage but is content to see its children carry on the battles and struggles it once waged. Only one original representative of that fractious group of intellectuals remains in the fray. That is Norman Podhoretz, who, at the age of seventy-seven, has recently—and improbably—reached the height of his celebrity and notoriety.

Podhoretz was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, and he has been in the forefront of support for the Iraq War. In the late spring of 2007, he met with President George W. Bush and Karl Rove to urge Bush to bomb Iran. His son, John Podhoretz, was recently chosen to be the next editor of Commentary, the magazine that Norman himself headed for several decades. Impressive as this reach may be, however, it is Podhoretz's newest sphere of influence that has most vexed—and frightened—his detractors. He is a close confidant of leading Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani.

In June, the former New York City mayor named Podhoretz a senior advisor to his campaign. It is no ceremonial post. Podhoretz speaks regularly with the candidate and trumpets their association. "As far as I can tell there is very little difference in how sees the war and how I see it," Podhoretz told the New York Observer in October. And indeed there isn't much daylight between what Podhoretz has written and what Giuliani is saying on the stump. Podhoretz has judged the war in Iraq an "amazing success"; Giuliani in November declared that he "never had any doubt" about the wisdom of invading Iraq. On Iran, Podhoretz has said, "The choice before us is either bomb those nuclear facilities or let them get the bomb." Giuliani told an audience in October: "If I'm president of the United States, I guarantee you we will never find out what will do if they get nuclear weapons, because they're not going to get nuclear weapons."

As a foreign policy guru, Podhoretz is hardly an obvious choice for Giuliani. The mayor has virtually no direct foreign policy experience, and neither does Podhoretz—he is an editor, polemicist, and literary critic who has never worked in government. Podhoretz is certainly a prominent hawk, and Giuliani needs hawks in his camp to help insulate him from attacks on the right, particularly from social conservatives. But there are plenty of foreign policy heavyweights who could play that role, from Henry Kissinger to Robert Kagan. And if the candidate wished to put some distance between himself and the unpopular current occupant of the White House, Podhoretz is no help; his son-in-law, Elliott Abrams, is Bush's deputy national security adviser.

But the choice of Podhoretz seems to have little to do with Giuliani trying to position himself politically or sit at the feet of an experienced master. Rather, what draws Giuliani to Podhoretz, I think, is something else—a very human quality that the former mayor sees in himself: an unrelenting, us-versus-them bare-knuckledness that one seldom encounters in the oak-and-port world of the Council on Foreign Relations. I myself encountered this quality when meeting Podhoretz for the first time, at a Manhattan Institute gala dinner for William F. Buckley Jr. at which Giuliani hailed his championing of conservative values. Podhoretz expressed his disappointment at the evenhanded tone of a review I had written in the New Leader of his memoir My Love Affair With America. "My friends, I expect to go all out for me," he said, noting with pride that the historian Ronald Radosh had called him a "national treasure." After acknowledging that we didn't really know each other personally, Podhoretz continued, "My enemies, I expect them to hit me as hard as they can. That's the way it should be."

I don't mean to make too much of a single encounter. However, having spent several years subsequently interviewing leading neoconservatives, including Podhoretz and his wife, Midge Decter, as part of a history of the neocon movement, I can say that the rules of book reviewing that Podhoretz set out at that party do rather nicely sum up an intellectual philosophy he has developed over a lifetime. It's one of unremitting combativeness, rooted as much in temperament as in a worldview. It's also a philosophy that strikes a deeply responsive chord in Giuliani, who, like Podhoretz, is a Brooklyn-born street brawler who started out on the left and moved steadily to the right. A good place to look for hints of what a Giuliani presidency might offer, then, is in the life of that last active New York Family intellectual, Norman Podhoretz...[Open in new window]

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Barbie 'boasted of hunting down Che'
The CIA made use of a Nazi war criminal's anti-guerrilla skills

David Smith
Sunday December 23, 2007
The Observer

Oscar-winning British director Kevin Macdonald has raised the intriguing possibility that Che Guevara's capture by the CIA in the forests of Bolivia 40 years ago was orchestrated by Klaus Barbie, the Nazi war criminal called the 'Butcher of Lyon'.
Guevara was the Marxist guerrilla who helped Fidel Castro seize power in Cuba. Barbie was the Gestapo chief in Lyon whose crimes included the murder of 44 Jewish children, taken from an orphanage and sent to Auschwitz. Improbably, the men's paths crossed in Bolivia. My Enemy's Enemy, a documentary directed by Macdonald, whose previous films include Touching the Void and The Last King of Scotland, examines how Barbie's record was disregarded when he was recruited by US intelligence after the Second World War as a useful tool against communism. He evaded French justice by fleeing to Bolivia where, living under the alias Klaus Altmann, he was welcomed by fascist sympathisers. Meanwhile, in 1966 a disguised Guevara arrived in Bolivia to organise the overthrow of its military dictatorship.

The Americans had been hunting Guevara and, according to the film, turned to Barbie for his first-hand knowledge of counter-guerrilla warfare: he had attempted to crush the French Resistance and was responsible for the death of its celebrated leader, Jean Moulin. Alvaro de Castro, a longtime confidant of Barbie interviewed for the film, says: 'He met Major Shelton, the commander of the unit from the US. Altmann no doubt gave him advice on how to fight this guerrilla war. He used the expertise gained doing this kind of work in World War Two. They made the most of the fact that he had this experience.'

Kai Hermann, a journalist, tells the film-makers: 'He always boasted - though I cannot prove it - that it was he who devised the strategy for murdering Che Guevara.'

The evidence appears inconclusive, but Macdonald, who won an Academy Award for One Day in September, about the killing of Israeli athletes by the Palestinian group Black September at the 1972 Munich Olympics, told The Observer: 'The Che claim came from several sources. I think it makes total sense when you understand what Barbie was doing and who he was working for in the Bolivian military, and how they admired him as a Nazi officer and what he had done in the war. Jean Moulin was an infamous episode, and he would trade on it and use that as part of his calling card.'...[Open in new window]

Cover of current issue

On last night's McLaughlin Group, editor Pat Buchanan named Rudy's foreign policy advisor, Norman 'I pray for the bombing of Iran every night' Podoretz, the year's most 'stagnant thinker'.

Rudy truly is scary. All the 'thuglican candidates are in their own way. If you're a true died-in-the-wool fascist, Rudy's your guy. Even the other nuts say so.

Richardson fights to hit home with N.H. voters

Touts his N.E. connection, experience

HUDSON, N.H. - Before he was a US Senate aide, a congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, secretary of energy, governor of New Mexico, or a Democratic presidential candidate, Bill Richardson was a tall, lanky 17-year-old standing on Lowell Road in Concord, Mass., looking for a ride.

Luckily for him, Barbara Flavin had room in her green station wagon.

Flavin lived across the street from the Middlesex School, a boarding school in Concord that Richardson attended. It was customary for local people to pick up the Middlesex students in town and give them a ride to the school, three miles away. Flavin knew of Richardson because she and her mother had watched him play baseball. She offered him a ride that began a seven-year courtship that led to a wedding in Medford, Mass., and 35 years of marriage.

"I remember thinking how pretty she was," Richardson said in an interview, reminiscing about the day they met, with Barbara at his side and smiling at the compliment.

This is a presidential primary season crowded with many candidates, but the lower-tier candidates struggle to get coverage and distinguish themselves from the pack. Yet even though he has lived in New Mexico since 1978, Richardson could make an argument that he is almost as much a New Englander as campaign rival Chris Dodd, the Connecticut senator...[Open in new window]

The Dickipedia entry for Rudy:

Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani (born May 28, 1944) is a lawyer, businessman, former Mayor of New York City, and a dick. He is, naturally, currently seeking the Republican nomination in the 2008 United States presidential election.

A Democrat and Independent in the 1970s, Giuliani was considered a socially liberal Republican in the 1980s and 1990s, at least if you don’t count attitudes toward black people. Giuliani does not like black people. His current run for president has made it clear that Giuliani has no core political ideology at all, except an insatiable thirst for power.

Giuliani gained international attention during and after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, as he is sure to mention every time he opens his mouth. For instance, if Giuliani is at a restaurant and he wants the eggs, when the waitress comes to take his order he will say, “I’ll have the eggs. Also, I was the hero of 9/11.” It is the cornerstone of his campaign. Without 9/11, his campaign would have to go with, “Giuliani: He’s a Loathsome, Power-mad Lunatic,” which, many political observers note, is generally considered not to be an effective electoral strategy.

After finally leaving office as mayor, Giuliani founded Giuliani Partners, a corrupt security consulting business; acquired Giuliani Capital Advisors (later sold), a corrupt investment-banking firm; and joined the Bracewell & Giuliani law firm, a corrupt law firm...[Open in new window]

Friday, December 21, 2007

Genetic mutant (see banjo-boy scene from Deliverance) & possible murderer (see [Open in new window]) Morning Jerk-off Joe Scarborough really doesn't like those pesky liberal facts & really, really hates Linda Ellerbee.

Nickelodeon channel has announced that they will air a special on love and sex
geared for their tween audience in light of the news of Nickelodeon TV actress Jamie Lynn Spears’ pregnancy at the age of 16. The show will reportedly be hosted by Linda Ellerbee, who has a series of news specials on Nickelodeon on events that kids that age will hear about but may not have the sophistication to understand the MSM reports on. I’ve watched several of these shows–the one about AIDS was wonderfully sensitive and not at all inappropriate in terms of the information given to children–and it’s good to see Nickelodeon approaching this head on.

But Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough isn’t having any of it. In his mind, Linda Ellerbee has a well-known “left of center” bias (she is an unapologetic liberal) and her show will no doubt endorse children having sex, as long as they wear condoms? WTF??? From what orifice did you pull out that programming note, Joe? Listen as the age of the hypothetical children gets younger and younger and the agenda becomes more and more ridiculous as David Shuster challenges Scarborough on his fear of giving children age-appropriate sex ed facts.

Scarborough: I’m not jumping on the ‘abstinence only’ train. I’m just saying I don’t want Linda Ellerbee, who has always had a pronounced left of center world view, getting on talking about…talking to 6, 7, 8, 9 year olds about sex. [..]

Schuster: Joe, why are you against sex education? I don’t understand that.

Scarborough: I’m not. I’m against people going on and having a high-falutin’ attitude. People like you, speaking in condescending tones to those of us that are raising children in the heartland, telling us that our 12 year old kids should be able to have sex, but they just need to have contraceptives.

High-falutin’ attitude? Project much, Joe?...[Open in new window]

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Always Wrong…And Now Out Of A Job

It may be storming outside, but I’m definitely feeling sunshine breaking through some neo-con clouds..

Two conservative Time magazine columnists are on their way out the door: Neither William Kristol nor longtime contributor Charles Krauthammer will be on contract with the magazine starting next month. Mr. Krauthammer confirmed the news to Off the Record, and a spokeswoman for Time said Mr. Kristol’s contract would not be renewed.

The exact reasons for the departures of Mr. Krauthammer and Mr. Kristol, both high-profile backers of the Iraq war, are not entirely clear.

But sadly, we’re not completely rid of rightwing hackery at Time:

And according to two sources familiar with the discussions, Time is in negotiations with National Review editor Ramesh Ponnuru to sign him to a contributor contract. Mr. Ponnuru, who in 2006 published The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life, has written twice for the magazine over the past month...[Open in new window]
"I would begin....with the demonstrably impeachable offenses..."

To Impeach or Not to Impeach?
A Discussion with House Judiciary Chair John Conyers and CIA Veteran Ray McGovern

Three Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee—Robert Wexler of Florida, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin—have called on committee chair John Conyers to begin impeachment hearings against Vice President Dick Cheney. We host a discussion on impeachment with Conyers and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

...RAY McGOVERN: Well, we not only have the obstruction of justice, but we have the President’s former spokesman saying that he was involved in the outing of Valerie Plame. We also have the President threatening World War III on bogus evidence that Iran was developing a nuclear weapons development program. So, you know, it’s sort of like outreach fatigue. Where do you begin?

Well, where I would begin is with the demonstrably impeachable offenses—first and foremost, the President’s not only admission, but his bragging about violating laws against eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant. He bragged that he did that thirty times. That was one of the articles of impeachment voted against President Nixon. Similarly, disregarding subpoenas, that, too, was one of the articles voted against President Nixon in the Judiciary Committee, where Congressman Conyers, of course, served very loyally. So you have those two right there.

And that’s not even mentioning, you know, forging, manufacturing, coming up with false intelligence to deceive congressmen and senators out of their constitutional prerogative to declare or to otherwise authorize war. I mean, it doesn’t get any worse than that. And so, my sense is that our founders are probably turning over in their grave at this point, because they put the impeachment clause in the declarative mood, not the subjunctive mood. They didn’t say that—...[Open in new window]
Source: AFP

Lakota Indians Withdraw Treaties Signed With U.S. 150 Years Ago

Thursday , December 20, 2007

The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States.

"We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us,'' long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means said.

A delegation of Lakota leaders has delivered a message to the State Department, and said they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the U.S., some of them more than 150 years old.

The group also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and would continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months.

Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free - provided residents renounce their U.S. citizenship, Mr Means said.

The treaties signed with the U.S. were merely "worthless words on worthless paper," the Lakota freedom activists said.

Withdrawing from the treaties was entirely legal, Means said.

"This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically article six of the constitution,'' which states that treaties are the supreme law of the land, he said.

"It is also within the laws on treaties passed at the Vienna Convention and put into effect by the US and the rest of the international community in 1980. We are legally within our rights to be free and independent,'' said Means.

The Lakota relaunched their journey to freedom in 1974, when they drafted a declaration of continuing independence — an overt play on the title of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England.

Thirty-three years have elapsed since then because "it takes critical mass to combat colonialism and we wanted to make sure that all our ducks were in a row,'' Means said.

One duck moved into place in September, when the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples — despite opposition from the United States, which said it clashed with its own laws.

"We have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by. They continue to take our land, our water, our children,'' Phyllis Young, who helped organize the first international conference on indigenous rights in Geneva in 1977, told the news conference.

The U.S. "annexation'' of native American land has resulted in once proud tribes such as the Lakota becoming mere "facsimiles of white people,'' said Means.

Oppression at the hands of the U.S. government has taken its toll on the Lakota, whose men have one of the shortest life expectancies - less than 44 years - in the world.

Lakota teen suicides are 150 per cent above the norm for the U.S.; infant mortality is five times higher than the U.S. average; and unemployment is rife, according to the Lakota freedom movement's website.
About Face

The CIA agrees to cooperate with Hill's tapes probe.

By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 6:00 PM ET Dec 19, 2007

Faced with the threat of subpoenas, the CIA has reversed its position from last week and is now signaling that the agency will cooperate with an aggressive congressional investigation into the destruction of hundreds of hours of videotapes believed to show the use of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques on two suspected top Al Qaeda leaders, Newsweek has learned.

News that the CIA would cooperate with the congressional inquiry came one day after House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes and ranking member Rep. Pete Hoekstra sent CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden a letter saying their panel would proceed with its probe--despite a joint request last week from the agency's Inspector General and the Justice Department urging the committee to back off. The agency's apparent change of heart came in the wake of a New York Times report alleging that top White House lawyers were consulted and discussed the fate of the tapes, a development that raises the political stakes in the congressional probe.

Tuesday's letter to the agency from Reyes and Hoekstra warned Hayden directly that their committee intended to subpoena documents and testimony from top CIA officials. The panel also began drafting subpoenas seeking, among other items, all records of communications about the tapes between the CIA and other executive branch officials--a request that would cover the agency's consultations with the White House. Copies of unsigned subpoenas have already been provided to the CIA.

The House panel is also seeking testimony--for a hearing tentatively scheduled for Jan. 16--from two central figures in the tapes controversy: acting CIA general counsel John Rizzo and Jose Rodriguez, former chief of the CIA's National Clandestine Service. Rodriguez is said to have given the order to destroy the tapes in Nov. 2005 after consulting with agency lawyers. In addition, the committee wants copies of all agency records relating to the retention and destruction of the tapes, along with any legal advice agency officials received. The House panel has asked for the CIA to begin turning over the documents by the end of this week.

Hoekstra told Newsweek that the CIA has told the committee that they are "99 percent confident" that Rizzo will "show up" for the January 16 hearing. Hoekstra added that ultimately, the committee wants to hear from "all the people involved in the decision making, including the White House."

Just last week, the Justice Department and the CIA inspector general sent the House panel a letter asking it to delay its inquiry to allow a preliminary investigation into whether the destruction violated any criminal laws to proceed. But Reyes and Hoekstra refused to back down and this week, a committee official said, Justice officials said the department no longer had any objection to the CIA cooperating. Reyes and Hoekstra subsequently fired off their letter raising the prospect of subpoenas if the CIA didn't fully cooperate.

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield confirmed to Newsweek that the CIA intends to cooperate with the House committee's investigation. "As Director Hayden has made clear, CIA will cooperate fully with the preliminary inquiry being conducted by the Justice Department and CIA Inspector General as well as with Congress. We are in touch with the [House] committee on these matters and we're looking forward to it being worked out." Mansfield added that Rizzo "will certainly cooperate" with the House committee inquiry...[Open in new window]

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Larry Craig's Xmas card photo.

Evidently Dick Cheney's pants caught on fire today.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Explain to your children why they're called Republi-scum...

Inside a GOP effort to rig the 2002 New Hampshire elections

Greg Gordon | McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: December 18, 2007 03:31:19 PM

WASHINGTON — A former GOP political operative who ran an illegal election-day scheme to jam the phone lines of New Hampshire Democrats during the state's tight 2002 U.S. Senate election said in a new book and an interview that he believes the scandal reaches higher into the Republican Party.

Allen Raymond of Bethesda, Md., whose book Simon & Schuster will publish next month, also accused the Republican Party of trying to hang all the blame for a scandal on him as part of an "old-school cover-up."

Raymond's book, "How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative," offers a raw, inside glimpse of the phone scandal as it unraveled and of a ruthless world in which political operatives seek to win at all costs.

McClatchy obtained an advance copy of the book.

The 2002 New Hampshire Senate race, in which GOP Rep. John Sununu edged Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen by 19,000 votes, was among several targeted by Republicans seeking to win control of the U.S. Senate.

Raymond said those who've tried to make him the fall guy for the New Hampshire scheme failed to recognize that e-mails, phone records and other evidence documented the complicity of a top state GOP official and the Republican National Committee's northeast regional director.

Both men were later convicted of charges related to the phone harassment, along with Raymond and an Idaho phone bank operator. Defense lawyers have since won a retrial for James Tobin, the former regional director for both the RNC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

A lawyer for Tobin didn't respond to phone messages.

GOP committees have paid Washington law firms more than $6 million to defend Tobin and to fight a Democratic civil suit against the party. Raymond, himself a former RNC official, said in the book and an interview that he believes that the scandal reaches higher...[Open in new window]

Bush's New Spin Master a Lame Duck?

William Fisher

NEW YORK, Dec 18 (IPS) - As Karen Hughes, the close confidante of President George W. Bush, gives up her mission to improve the U.S. image abroad -- amid dedicedly mixed reviews of her performance -- her replacement is already facing criticism for his support of the Iraq war and a number of alleged ethical lapses.
Hughes, a key advisor to the president since his days as governor of Texas, resigned her post as under-secretary of state for public diplomacy last week after just under two years in the post to return to private life in Texas. President Bush has nominated James Glassman as her replacement.

Glassman is currently chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the organisation responsible for conveying Washington's messages through television and radio to the Middle East, Iran, Cuba, and other areas of the world. Washington-watchers have speculated that Glassman was nominated because he had already been confirmed by the Senate for his BBG post.

Critics of Glassman, who is a staunch neoconservative, point to his early and enthusiastic support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

In an article he wrote in 2003, Glassman said, "...the anti-war protesters remain clueless. They're still planning their marches. Instead, they should be apologising. Before the war, they told us that 500,000 Iraqis would be killed in Dresden-like bombing, that we would precipitate an eco-catastrophe by pushing Saddam to set fire to his oil wells, that millions of people would flee the country, that thousands of our own troops would be killed, that the Arab 'street' would rise up, that terrorist attacks would resume ferociously on our homeland, that Iraqis would tenaciously resist our colonisation of their land, that we would become bogged down in urban warfare, and on and on."

Glassman continued, "In fact, none of that has happened. It has been a war unmatched in history, with relatively few civilian and allied casualties and the prime objectives -- control of the capital and the destruction of Saddam's regime -- achieved in only a few weeks. Conscientious opponents of the war should say they were wrong, wrong, wrong - on all counts." ...[Open in new window]

I wonder if this guy & William Kristol get together for fantasy role-playing games & copius amounts of booze on cold winter nights?
More mythology (see next post).

Princeton Student Admits Faking Attack (Conservative student "attacked for his views")

A Princeton University junior who claimed to have been beaten by two men in black ski caps for his conservative views admitted on Monday that he made up the attack, according to Princeton Township police officials.

Francisco Nava, 23, told police that he was attacked on Friday evening, two days after he and three other students belonging to a conservative group, the Anscombe Society, had received threatening e-mail messages, according to the university. The society opposes premarital sex and advocates for a return to more traditional morality in society. A politics professor who serves as an unofficial adviser to the group, Robert P. George, also received e-mail threats.

Mr. Nava initially told police that one of the men approached him a few miles away from campus and asked him to go with him to help someone who was hurt. Mr. Nava said that when he walked toward the man, he was grabbed by a second man and pinned against a brick wall in a field. He said that both men hit him in the face before running away.

But on Monday, when confronted by police officials about inconsistencies in his story, Mr. Nava admitted that he had inflicted scratches and bruises on his own face because of “underlying personal issues” and that he had not received any threatening e-mail messages, said Detective Sgt. Ernie Silagyi, who interviewed Mr. Nava...[Open in new window]
Island tax havens factor into Romney's business success: Involvement hasn't previously come to light

By Bob Drogin, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 17, 2007
BOSTON -- Second of two parts

While in private business, Mitt Romney utilized shell companies in two offshore tax havens to help eligible investors avoid paying U.S. taxes, federal and state records show. Romney gained no personal tax benefit from the legal operations in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. But aides to the Republican presidential hopeful and former colleagues acknowledged that the tax-friendly jurisdictions helped attract billions of additional investment dollars to Romney's former company, Bain Capital, and thus boosted profits for Romney and his partners.

Romney has based his White House bid, in part, on the skills he learned as co-founder and chief of Bain Capital, one of the nation's most successful private equity groups. His campaign cites his record while governor of Massachusetts of closing state tax loopholes; his involvement with foreign tax havens had not previously come to light.

In the Cayman Islands, Romney was listed as a general partner and personally invested in BCIP Associates III Cayman, a private equity fund that is registered at a post office box on Grand Cayman Island and that indirectly buys equity in U.S. companies. The arrangement shields foreign investors from U.S. taxes they would pay for investing in U.S. companies.

Romney still retains an investment in the Cayman fund through a trust. Campaign disclosure forms show the investment paid him more than $1 million last year in dividends, interest and capital gains.

In Bermuda, Romney served as president and sole shareholder for four years of Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. It funneled money into Bain Capital's Sankaty family of hedge funds, which invest in bonds and other debt issued by corporations, as well as bank loans. Like thousands of similar financial entities, Sankaty maintains no office or staff in Bermuda. Its only presence consists of a nameplate at a lawyer's office in downtown Hamilton, capital of the British island territory...[Open in new window]
Mythology is interesting.

Here's a couple of mythological figures we've all heard about a lot these past few decades: the 'Welfare Queen' and the 'anti-war protester who spit on returning vets.'

Did either ever really exist except in Rambo movies or the fevered imaginations of Ronald Reagan's speech writers?

Not likely.

But people like Mitt certainly do exist & they're the ones screwing the working classes on their taxes.

The history of the 'conservative movement' (make diarrhea sound) is the history of tax cheating by the uber-wealthy.

Read David Cay Johnston's PERFECTLY LEGAL (
[Open in new window] ) sometime. It'll frost your cookies.

Friday, December 14, 2007

WILL DURST:"If I were a Journalist..."[Open in new window]

It's probably a good thing that I'm not a big time journalist. Back in the '70s, I attended college (state school) as a journalism/theater/film major, and since then, I've always kind of harbored a stealthy dream that I could have had a career in journalism.

FADE IN: Cut my teeth as a field reporter in an exotic locale like Bakersfield. Morph into one of those people who actually use the word "locale." Spend some time as a beat reporter covering electoral politics for a large Midwestern daily. Finally graduate to something prestigious like NPR correspondent to an important Cabinet Department. FADE OUT.

But I realize I was just deluding myself, because I undoubtedly would have lasted one day (tops) before I flipped out. Before I threw a monkey wrench at or into something. Before I dropped my little notebook or tape recorder and walked over and pimp-slapped somebody for continually lying to my face. For example: when asked to comment on Maher Arar, the Syrian-born Canadian whom our country kidnapped, sent to Syria as blindfolded baggage and then tortured for ten months, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the matter was "not handled as it should have been." See, there's your problem, because if I had been the reporter who asked about this guy and got that as a response, I would have rejoined, "Are you fucking kidding me? The matter was not handled as it should have been? That's your fucking answer? A Canadian citizen was kidnapped, sent to another country and tortured? Exactly how do you think your answer would differ if an army of small brained aliens came to earth and focused on terrorizing people with large foreheads and abducted you and sent you to Jupiter and kept you awake for weeks at a time and made you feel like you were drowning in methane gas for almost a year? Do you think that your opinion would be that the matter was not handled as it should have been, you stupid fucking cow?"

And that's why it's probably a good thing that I'm not a big time journalist.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New poll reveals how unrepresentative neocon Jewish groups are

(updated below)

A new survey of American Jewish opinion, released by the American Jewish Committee, demonstrates several important propositions: (1) right-wing neocons (the Bill Kristol/Commentary/ AIPAC/Marty Peretz faction) who relentlessly claim to speak for Israel and for Jews generally hold views that are shared only by a small minority of American Jews; (2) viewpoints that are routinely demonized as reflective of animus towards Israel or even anti-Semitism are ones that are held by large majorities of American Jews; and (3) most American Jews oppose U.S. military action in the Middle East -- including both in Iraq and against Iran...[Open in new window]

Make the Pie Higher

by George W. Bush
(words arranged by Richard Thompson)

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It’s a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
“Is our children learning?”
“Will the highways of the Internet become more few?”
“Do you have Blacks in Brazil?”
“Why dont’t the French have a word for ‘entrepreneur’?”

How many hands have I shaked?
They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pant leg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.

Families is where our nation finds hope,
where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the toll booth!
Make the economy gooder!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!

poem featured September 1, 2002

Monday, December 10, 2007

I ask again... when were the CIA tapes destroyed?--Larisa Alexandrovna

We are told that the CIA tapes were destroyed in 2005. Now, what tapes are these DOJ lawyers examining in September and October of 2007? Please take a look at this memo, HERE, do you see anything that says that the tapes were a). destroyed and b). in 2005?

I am sure someone has a logical answer to this. I am, unfortunately, not that person. Anyone?...[Open in new window]


What Destroyed Torture Tapes?

Leave it to the intrepid Larisa Alexandrovna to ferret out a key piece of information–the torture tapes were not destroyed in 2005. Just take time to read the letter U.S. Attorneys, Novak and Raskin, sent to the Federal Court on 23 October 2007.

Especially check out page 2, paragraph2 of the letter. The U.S. Attorneys “viewed the video tape and transcript . . . of the interview” in September 2007.

Sure would appear that Jose A. Rodriguez did not destroy anything. How can you watch a destroyed tape? Way to go Larisa...[Open in new window]

Scooter Libby drops appeal in CIA leak case.

Former Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby, who was convicted earlier this year for obstruction of justice, “is dropping his appeal in the CIA leak case, his attorney said Monday.” Libby, whose sentence was commuted by President Bush in July, is said to be dropping the appeal because “the burden” is “too great to ask” his family to “bear”:

“We remain firmly convinced of Mr. Libby’s innocence,” attorney Theodore Wells said. “However, the realities were, that after five years of government service by Mr. Libby and several years of defending against this case, the burden on Mr. Libby and his young family of continuing to pursue his complete vindication are too great to ask them to bear.”

The AP notes that “Libby remains a convicted felon, but Bush could issue a full pardon as his administration winds down.”

UPDATE: Here’s the full statement by Libby’s lawyer on the decision to drop the appeal.

UPDATE II: TPM’s Paul Kiel notes that in July, then-White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said the Bush administration couldn’t discuss the leak case because “there is still an appeal” in process.

Blackwater's Bu$ine$$


[from the December 24, 2007 issue]

Gunning down seventeen Iraqi civilians in an incident the military has labeled "criminal." Multiple Congressional investigations. A federal grand jury. Allegations of illegal arms smuggling. Wrongful death lawsuits brought by families of dead employees and US soldiers. A federal lawsuit alleging war crimes. Charges of steroid use by trigger-happy mercenaries. Allegations of "significant tax evasion." The US-installed government in Iraq labeling its forces "murderers." With a new scandal breaking practically every day, one would think Blackwater security would be on the ropes, facing a corporate meltdown or even a total wipeout. But it seems that business for the company has never been better, as it continues to pull in major federal contracts. And its public demeanor grows bolder and cockier by the day.

Rather than hiding out and hoping for the scandals to fade, the Bush Administration's preferred mercenary company has launched a major rebranding campaign, changing its name to Blackwater Worldwide and softening its logo: once a bear paw in the site of a sniper scope, it's now a bear claw wrapped in two half ovals--sort of like the outline of a globe with a United Nations feel. Its website boasts of a corporate vision "guided by integrity, innovation, and a desire for a safer world." Blackwater mercenaries are now referred to as "global stabilization professionals." Blackwater's 38-year-old owner, Erik Prince, was No. 11 in Details magazine's "Power 50," the men "who control your viewing patterns, your buying habits, your anxieties, your lust.... the people who have taken over the space in your head."

In one of the company's most bizarre recent actions, on December 1 Blackwater paratroopers staged a dramatic aerial landing, complete with Blackwater flags and parachutes--not in Baghdad or Kabul but in San Diego at Qualcomm Stadium during the halftime show at the San Diego State/BYU football game. The location was interesting, given that Blackwater is fighting fierce local opposition to its attempt to open a new camp--Blackwater West--on 824 acres in the small rural community of Potrero, just outside San Diego. Blackwater's parachute squad plans to land at the Armed Forces Bowl in Texas this month and the Virginia Gold Cup in May. The company recently sponsored a NASCAR racer, and it has teamed up with gun manufacturer Sig Sauer to create a Blackwater Special Edition full-sized 9-millimeter pistol with the company logo on the grip. It comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty. For $18, parents can purchase infant onesies with the company logo.

In recent weeks, Blackwater has indicated it might quit Iraq. "We see the security market diminishing," Prince told the Wall Street Journal in October. Yet on December 3 Blackwater posted job listings for "security specialists" and snipers as a result of its State Department diplomatic security "contract expansion." While its name may be mud in the human rights world, Blackwater has not only made big money in Iraq (about $1 billion in State Department contracts); it has secured a reputation as a company that keeps US officials alive by any means necessary. The dirty open secret in Washington is that Blackwater has done its job in Iraq, even if it has done so by valuing the lives of Iraqis much lower than those of US VIPs. That badass image will serve it well as it expands globally.

Prince promises that Blackwater "is going to be more of a full spectrum" operation...[Open in new window]
KBR Told Victim She Could Lose Her Job If She Sought Help After Being Raped, She Says

A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.

"Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.

"It felt like prison," says Jones, who told her story to ABC News as part of an upcoming "20/20" investigation. "I was upset; I was curled up in a ball on the bed; I just could not believe what had happened."


Over two years later, the Justice Department has brought no criminal charges in the matter. In fact, ABC News could not confirm any federal agency was investigating the case.

Legal experts say Jones' alleged assailants will likely never face a judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law....[Open in new window]

Click to enlarge

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Let's see...who's political opinions are virtually meaningless to me...I know Oprah's.

An icon of mindless consumption.

TIME Magazine cover this week & a pic of a typical Ron Paul supporter:
We got news up the wazoo. Here's a few gleanings:

Hill (including Pelosi) Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002: Intel Panels' Chiefs Did Not Protest

By Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, December 9, 2007; A01

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said. "The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.

Congressional leaders from both parties would later seize on waterboarding as a symbol of the worst excesses of the Bush administration's counterterrorism effort. The CIA last week admitted that videotape of an interrogation of one of the waterboarded detainees was destroyed in 2005 against the advice of Justice Department and White House officials, provoking allegations that its actions were illegal and the destruction was a coverup. Yet long before "waterboarding" entered the public discourse, the CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogation methods, according to interviews with multiple U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge.

With one known exception, no formal objections were raised by the lawmakers briefed about the harsh methods during the two years in which waterboarding was employed, from 2002 to 2003, said Democrats and Republicans with direct knowledge of the matter. The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan)...[Open in new window]
Biden wants special counsel in tape case

WASHINGTON - A Senate Democratic leader said Sunday the attorney general should appoint a special counsel to investigate the CIA's destruction of videotaped interrogations of two suspected terrorists.

Sen. Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate and chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, cited Michael Mukasey's refusal during confirmation hearings in October to describe waterboarding as torture.

Mukasey's Justice Department and the CIA's internal watchdog announced Saturday they would conduct a joint inquiry into the matter. That review will determine whether a full investigation is warranted.

"He's the same guy who couldn't decide whether or not waterboarding was torture and he's going to be doing this investigation," said Biden, who noted that he voted against making Mukasey the country's top law enforcer...[Open in new window]
Blackwater Contracts, Short on Detail(169 pages of 323 are blank or mostly blank)

The State Department has released copies of its contracts for private security services with Blackwater Lodge and Training Center and Blackwater Security Consulting. It's a hefty 323-page stack, and it comes with a catch:

About 169 of the pages are blank or mostly blank.

Released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the contracts -- worth up to $1.2 billion -- have been heavily redacted by the government. A State Department spokesman said the officials responsible for the cuts are simply trying to protect sensitive information that might put individuals at risk. He declined to say what kind of information was cut.

In a cover letter, the department notes that it "gave full consideration" to deletions recommended by Blackwater officials.

A close look at the pages that have not been cut reveals some choice tidbits. The "statement of work" on Page 13 explains why Blackwater was needed. "As a result of conflicts, wars, political unrest and more recently, terrorist activity, these areas have become extremely dangerous places in which to live and work," the document says. "The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is unable to provide protective services on a long-term basis from its pool of Special Agents."...[Open in new window]
Source: CIA Tapes Destroyed To Avoid Prosecution

WASHINGTON (CBS News) ― A well informed source tells CBS News the videotapes of U.S. interrogations of two high level al Qaeda operatives were destroyed to protect CIA officers from criminal prosecution, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.

A day after CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden told agency employees the tapes were destroyed in 2005, members of Congress, human rights groups and lawyers for accused terrorists said the tapes may have been key evidence that the U.S. government had illegally authorized torture.


At least one White House official, then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers, knew about the CIA's planned destruction of videotapes in 2005 that documented the interrogation of two al Qaeda operatives, ABC news reported Friday. Three officials told ABC News that Miers urged the CIA not to destroy the tapes. White House officials declined to comment on the report.

The spy agency destroyed the tapes in November 2005, at a time when human rights groups and lawyers for detainees were clamoring for information about the agency's secret detention and interrogation program, and Congress and U.S. courts were debating where "enhanced interrogation" crossed the line into torture.

Also at that time, the Senate Intelligence Committee was asking whether the videotapes showed CIA interrogators were complying with interrogation guidelines. The CIA refused twice in 2005 to provide the committee with its general counsel's report on the tapes, according to the committee's Democratic chairman, Sen. Jay Rockefeller...
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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Ew! I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Looks like Reagan might've too.

Or maybe Lincoln's butt smells like cheese.