Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Year That's Away

Here's to the year that's awa!
We'll drink it in strong and in sma'!
And here's to ilk bonnie young lassie we lo'ed
While swift flew the year that's awa;
And here's to ilk bonnie young lassie we lo'ed
While swift flew the year that's awa.

Here's to the sodger who bled,
And the sailor who bravely did fa';
Their fame is alive, though their spirits are fled
On the wings o the year that's awa;
Their fame is alive, though their spirits are fled
On the wings o the year that's awa.

Here's to the friends we can trust
When the storms of adversity blaw;
May they live in our song and be nearest our heart,
Nor depart like the year that's awa;
May they live in our song and be nearest our heart,
Nor depart like the year that's awa.

~John Dunlop (1755 - 1820)
Lord Provost of Glasgow, 1796

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The real gift the U.S. got in 1974 wasn't Gerald, it was Betty.

I watched today the grace with which former First Lady Betty Ford handled what has to have been one of the most difficult days of her life, and I have to admit that I've always admired her as one of the most unique first ladies in history.

With the singular and notable exception of Eleanor Roosevelt, prior to Betty Ford there was a role expected of First Ladies, and they all accepted it (with perhaps the exception of the morose and vindictive Mary Lincoln, who certainly made her husband's job just that much more taxing). They were the 'national mom,' if you want, primarily in charge of choosing tableware for the white house, being a gracious wife and hostess and always sporting an impeccably maintained smile. If being President can sometimes be Hell, it had to have been that way for many a First Lady. There is even some evidence that Edith Wilson may have made some key Presidential decisions when her husband was incapacitated, but to all outward appearances she was no different than her predecessors. Whatever happened in the life of a First Lady, it was kept hidden from the world. The President could philander on her (as happened to numerous First Ladies, most notably Jackie Kennedy), beat her (Pat Nixon) or she could just plain have other trials in her life. She was also not expected to discuss anything controversial. If the First Lady made headlines, they were expected to be in the Society or the Fashion pages. Her job was to 1) not let it bother the President in his job, but to suffer in silence, and 2) to hide it from the nation. Even after leaving office, First Ladies were supposed to be better than perfect, and never have a care in the world beyond continuing to be a gracious hostess for their husband's visitors, and perhaps taking up a craft. And this fit with the times, because ultimately women, especially wives, were not supposed to be susceptible to the ugly realities of life.

Betty Ford changed all that. She went public, while her husband was in the White House, with her admission that she was a drug and alcohol abuser. Of course alcoholism was acknowleged as a problem at that time, but most people considered that all alcoholics were supposed to be men, and generally falling down drunk. Drug abusers, whether prescription or otherwise, were thought of as hopeless junkies that no one could do anything about.

But Betty Ford did. First she went to work on her own problems. By sharing them with the nation, she inspired thousands, maybe even millions across the nation to do the same thing. They knew they were not alone. And then she licked her problems, and she went a step farther and started the Betty Ford clinic, which has since helped tens of thousands of people with substance abuse problems beat those problems.

It's hard to remember how momentous that was. Before that time, people who outwardly were successful and might have been hiding a substance abuse problem had no place to go. It just wasn't talked about publically, especially for women. Today it seems that every time someone important like Mel Gibson or Mark Foley gets into trouble for their behavior they invariably blame substance abuse first and it's off to the rehab center. But in 1975 it was a different world, and it took a lot of courage for Betty Ford to do what she did. And by opening and pushing to success the prototype of a modern drug rehab center, she created a world where those who need help can get it.

Then at very nearly the same time, Betty Ford also announced that she had breast cancer.

In her own remarks to the American Cancer Society in 1975, she said,

I think their [her family's] surprise was a very natural reaction, because one day I appeared to be fine and the next day I was in the hospital for a mastectomy. It made me realize how many women in the country could be in the same situation.

That realization made me decide to discuss my breast cancer operation openly, because I thought of all the lives in jeopardy. My experience and frank discussion of breast cancer did prompt many women to learn about self-examination, regular checkups, and such detection techniques as mammography. These are so important. I just cannot stress enough how necessary it is for women to take an active interest in their own health and body.

Again, in those days breast cancer was something that most people didn't think about or talk about, and many women were on death's doorstep before they even realized what they had. Today you see pink ribbons all over for breast cancer research, but when Betty Ford first decided to talk about it, she was very much alone in talking about it.

I wish that Betty Ford had permanently changed the role of first lady, but honestly (with the exception of Hillary Clinton) I can't think of any since who haven't been limited to some version of 'impeccable hostess/stylish matron/strong wife and mother (though now there is the obligatory philanthropic pursuit).' Not that these things are in themselves bad things for a First Lady-- certainly Betty Ford was all of them while she was in the White House, but she also showed that just like the office of the President, the First Lady has what amounts to a 'bully pulpit' if she wants to use it, and can use it to do a lot of good in the world.

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Don't buy into George Bush's Iraq trap

The American people have had enough of Iraq. The polls show it.

Many Democrats who won this year had endorsed the Murtha plan for a staged withdrawl from Iraq.

The Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group released its recommendations and also called for a withdrawl.

Yet, just two weeks ago it began to be reported that the President wanted to propose a 'surge' in troop strength, and was opposed by Generals.

So now, the Generals appear to have flip-flopped and back Bush (well, the last General to publically oppose the President on troop levels, Eric Shinseki before the war started, was forced to leave the army. The lesson clearly has not been lost.)

To start with, his proposal to increase troop strength by 20,000 troops is stupid. But I actually don't think he is planning to. More on that later.

If we increased troops by 20,000 it would make no difference. Shinseki's recommendation in 2002 (based on a 1999 exercise which quantified it) was that 400,000 troops total (265,000 more than are there now) would be needed to prevent an insurgency. Adding what amounts to a spit in the bucket of 20,000 today won't stop it, because it would be hundreds of thousands too little, and several years too late.

And George Bush knows that. So do the generals. But that isn't really his plan.

He will say it is because he is shifting the frame of the debate. Instead of it being between 'stay the course' (his position) and 'withdraw' (the progressive position) which he would certainly lose, what he plans to do is try and get people debating the 'surge' (i.e. ratcheting up the war.) Those opposed are then debating against increasing troops, and as such are by default arguing only to not increase them (i.e. maintaining current levels-- 'staying the course.') He knows he doesn't have the votes in the new Congress to win, but what he is trying to do is play the Democrats for chumps, and get people to forget that we were talking about how to get out. Then he can lose the vote in Congress but still end up 'staying the course' (what he wants anyway). Only then that will become the the Democratic position (because it was in opposition to his 'new' position), and then if Iraq continues to deteriorate (as it will) and we continue to lose American troops (which we will) then it becomes the fault of Democrats.

In other words, he is trying to unload his lemon onto us.

If we fall for that, then we really are stupid. But unfortunately, based on what I've heard, there are some on the left who seem ready to take up this no-win debate. For example, in today's radio address Congressman-elect Jerry McNerney said that Democrats will oppose deploying any new troops there. Nothing at all about plans to withdraw or seek a political solution. So it appears, despite his line about seeking a 'new direction' (a politically meaningless catchword that can be applied to almost anything) that the good Congressman-elect is being roped into a plan to in effect debate in favor of continuing the President's current policy and stay in Iraq indefinitely.

We as Democrats should be firm on this:

1. The voters want us to get troops out of Iraq, not leave them there.

2. The Murtha plan is a militarily sound plan that spells out a path to withdrawl of U.S. forces from Iraq.

3. The bipartisan Baker-Hamilton commission (I.S.G.) studied all the problems of Iraq and concluded that withdrawl is the only realistic military option for the United States.

4. The United States and other countries in the region, as well as factions within Iraq need to work to find a political, not a military solution. Iraq's problems can only be solved by a political solution, not a solution imposed by military force.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ford thought Iraq war was a mistake.

Caught up in all the Gerald Ford retrospectives this week, let's remember what he said about George Bush's decision to invade Iraq.

Ford said the justifications were inadequate to justify the war.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In an interview never before published, former President Gerald Ford said President Bush and his chief advisers "made a big mistake" with their justifications for the Iraq war.

Ford made the comments in a four-hour interview in 2004 with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward....

"I don't think, if I had been president -- on the basis of the facts as I saw them publicly -- I don't think I would have ordered the Iraqi war," Ford said in a part of the interview broadcast on CNN's "Larry King Live" Wednesday.

"I would have maximized our efforts through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer," the former president said.

Too bad he wasn't still the President in that case. What we had instead was a bunch of chicken hawks who had managed to avoid combat themselves, apparently making decisions to send other people off to war without adequately thinking through what the cost of war could be, and more importantly what the cost of failure might be. And backed up by the neo-con crowd whose idea of warfare and military strategy is mostly derived from late nights playing Risk.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Yes, someone is from Cuckooland. It's the author judge

This is standing on principle: Wait until you are retained as a judge, and only then come out with a liberal bashing book entitled, "The Tyranny of Tolerance: A Sitting Judge Breaks the Code of Silence to Expose the Liberal Judicial Assault.

Last month, 70% of the voters in St. Louis, a heavily Democratic city, voted to retain Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker Jr.

This month, Dierker came out with his book:

Chapter 1 of Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker Jr.'s book, "The Tyranny of Tolerance: A Sitting Judge Breaks the Code of Silence to Expose the Liberal Judicial Assault," has circulated via e-mail since last month and been widely read in legal circles, lawyers and judges say.

The sentiments expressed in that chapter, which frequently uses the term "femifascists" and is titled "The Cloud Cuckooland of Radical Feminism," have already prompted a complaint with the state body that can reprimand or remove judges.

The actual unveiling of the book is to be on conservative talk-show host Bill O'Reilly's show next month. Literacy level aside, one would at least think that a Circuit Judge would have enough of a knowlege base to move above juvenile name-calling. But then it is clear from his language that the Judge is getting some of his information from right wing talk shows. Scary thought in itself.

The good news is that there is a loophole that can be used to remove him from the bench if O'Reilly or anyone else references his official position as a judge.

Other judges and lawyers have said that Dierker may have violated a state rule against a judge using his or her position for personal profit. One judge said it would be surprising if Dierker was not removed, calling the book "professional suicide."

Of course he is going to be introduced sooner or later as a judge; Even if he is not, the Title itself says so. If that fact can be shown to cause even a single person to buy the book who would not have, then Dierker has made money on it and can then be removed from the bench. As I said, the best way would have been to let the voters decide, but he waited until after the election precisely so the voters can't have a say until 2012. A brave man of principle, that Robert Dierker, to wait until after the election.

But the book raises other concerns. In matters of law, the modern feminist movement has spearheaded legal changes needed to deal with matters like gender discrimination, family leave, equal pay and sexual harrassment, to name a few. One has to wonder, despite the judge's disclaimer at the end of the book, whether he would be able to rule impartially on a case involving any of these matters, if he thought that the law came straight from "Cuckooland."

Maybe Judge Dierker wants the controversy-- hoping he can parlay it into a run for higher office, as former Alabama Judge Roy Moore did (you remember Moore, don't you? The 'ten commandments' judge?) Dierker is known to be frustrated at being passed over for higher judgeships (obviously a good call though.) Memo to Dierker: Moore lost his run in the GOP primary for Governor, even running against a Republican governor who had broken a pledge not to raise taxes.

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Giants of the Arctic

Canada's Arctic supports our planet's largest remaining pristine ecosystems. It's home not only to polar bears, but also to species such as caribou, narwhal and beluga whales, arctic char, seabirds, seals, and musk oxen.

But this magnificent wilderness is now threatened by major pressures: climate change, toxic pollution, mining, and oil and gas development.

Ice Bear. Giant of the Arctic. To the Inuit, Nanuk. By whatever name, the polar bear is a symbol of the Arctic world.

Help safeguard the polar bear's Arctic home. Adopt a polar bear for yourself or someone you love.

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Before We Go Eulogizing

Before We Go Eulogizing Gerald Ford...

by Wayne Madsen

As the nation eulogizes President Gerald R. Ford, who died last night in California, no one should lose sight of the fact that it was Ford who helped launch the careers of the two ugliest faces in the George W. Bush administration. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Cheney and Rumsfeld were deep-selected from lower-level positions in the Nixon administration and named as Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff for Ford's White House. After Rumsfeld was selected as Ford's Secretary of Defense, Cheney succeeded his longtime mentor as Chief of Staff.

Rumsfeld and Cheney made it their cause to "restore" the power of Nixon's "imperial presidency" to a future Republican president. That was all but impossible under Reagan and Bush I since the entire Congress was in the hands of the Democrats for all but six years. However, Cheney and Rumsfeld succeeded in their goal under George W. Bush.

In addition to the "gruesome twosome" of Rumsfeld and Cheney, Ford also propelled George H. W. Bush into the world of future chicanery when he named the former Texas congressman, UN ambassador, envoy to Beijing, and Republican National Committee chair as CIA Director. Bush, who only served as director for one year managed to involve the agency in a number of terrorist attacks, a direct slap at those who were trying to curb the excesses of the CIA under the Nixon administration, including outgoing director William Colby.

Bush approved CIA assistance in the illegal car bombing assassination of former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and his American colleague, Ronni Moffitt, on a Washington, DC street in the heart of Embassy Row. Under Ford, Bush also approved the bombing of a Cubana Airlines passenger plane off the coast of Barbados that killed over 70 men, women, and children.

Much is being made of Ford's statement in the wake of Nixon's resignation that "our long national nightmare is over." Mr. Ford's elevation of Bush, Sr., Rumsfeld, and Cheney did not end our national nightmare, it merely postponed it until January 20, 2001.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

In the news

A powerful quake struck off southwestern Taiwan on Tuesday, triggering a potentially destructive tsunami that was headed toward the Philippines on the second anniversary of the deadly waves that killed thousands in south Asia.

Via MyDD, Matt posts about whether John Edwards is Progressive enough to run in 2008.

Flora the Komodo dragon has managed to become pregnant all on her own without any male help. She is carrying seven baby Komodo dragons.

The U.S. military on Tuesday announced the deaths of six more American soldiers, pushing the U.S. military death toll since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003 to at least 2,978.

Crooks and Liars has a tribute to James Brown. R.I.P

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Waiting for Peace

On this Christmas Eve
As the world prepares
The hope is in what we have already learned.
That every man is our brother,
Every woman is our sister,
And every child is ours.

War has brought forth
The killing of our neighbors
We now see the scars on the people
And scars upon the lands
And perhaps the scar upon our dream.

We dream for peace
For all mankind.
We dream that the killing cease
On the souls and upon the land.

One can find that dream ever present
When they listen to the music.
It brings the hope of our dreams
as we listen to the notes played.

We truly are waiting....For PEACE!

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A Christmas Wish

What is Christmas?

It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.

It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace. ~Agnes M. Pharo


Friday, December 22, 2006

Evolution Case Withdrawn

School board gives up evolution sticker case

ATLANTA -- A suburban school board that put stickers in high school science books saying evolution is "a theory, not a fact" abandoned its legal battle to keep them Tuesday after four years.

The Cobb County board agreed in federal court never to use a similar sticker or to undermine the teaching of evolution in science classes.

In return, parents who sued over the stickers agreed to drop legal action.

The school board placed the stickers inside the front cover of biology books in 2002 after some other parents complained that evolution was being taught to the exclusion of other theories, including a literal reading of the biblical story of creation.

A federal judge ordered the stickers removed in 2005, saying they amount to an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.

The school board appealed, but a federal appeals court sent the case back, saying it didn't have enough information.

"We faced the distraction and expense of starting all over with more legal actions and another trial," said board chairwoman Teresa Plenge.

"With this agreement, it is done and we now have a clean slate for the new year."

AP - Source: Detroit Free Press


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Virgil Goode's letter about Keith Ellison

Congressman Virgil Goode (R-Virginia) has become the latest in a long list of Republicans and conservatives who are objecting to Representative-elect Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota)'s intention to take his oath of office on the Koran instead of the Bible.

But Congressman Goode went beyond that in his letter to constituents, which was released to CNN after it enquired about the letter. He wrote,

The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Quran.

"We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country.

Let's first address the whole issue of Representative Ellison and his desire to use the Koran (which according to his Muslim faith is a Holy Scripture, while he believes the Bible is not). It presents us with a very basic question:

Why is the Bible used to take an oath on?

Why don't lawmakers and other elected and appointed officials who take oaths of office simply swear an oath agreeing that they understand that if they fail to uphold the Consitution or the duties or responsibilities of their office then they may be subject to criminal prosecution, recall, censure, expulsion, impeachment, being fired, bad press resulting in not being re-elected or any of the other various punishments and penalties that the legal system, the legislative body, the executive or the voters can subject them to? Why is the Bible used at all?

The answer is that it is a matter of faith. By taking an oath on a book that is considered Holy Scripture (and often ending this oath with the words, 'so help me God') the public servant (whether elected or appointed) is not only agreeing to serve faithfully and to the best of his or her ability, but is in effect agreeing that if (s)he fails to carry out the duties of the office in an honest and ethical manner then (s)he may be subject to having to answer to God about having violated an oath taken in the name of God. This is supposed to strengthen a public servant, who even if (s)he might be tempted to misuse his or her position to get rich through influence peddling, make inappropriate sexual advances to teenage pages or otherwise abuse the system, is aware that the penalties for this type of behavior may not end at the grave.

Now it is true that swearing on the Bible has not always prevented people like Duke Cunningham, Mark Foley and Bob Ney from abusing their oath of office. What the effect will be beyond this life is between them and that God who they named in an oath with their hand upon Holy Scripture. What it does mean though is that Rep. Ellison absolutely should swear upon the Koran. If he swore on a scripture that he doesn't believe carries the weight of deity, then why would we expect that oath to be given any more credence by the fact that a Bible was there? On the other hand, if he as a Muslim swears on the Koran, then since he believes it is imbued with the power of God, isn't he more likely (for the same reasons mentioned above) to behave honestly and ethically in office, believeing that if he does not he will also have a debt to settle with Allah someday?

It seems to be that those who insist that Rep. Ellison should have to use the Bible exhibit the most profound lack of faith and lack of understanding of why the Bible is used at all.

The other issue that Representative Goode brings up is his continued hard line against immigration that resonates throughout his letter. And it, as well as his support for using the Bible only will probably help him in his conservative, edge-of-the-Bible-belt rural Virginia district.

It is sure to give Republicans headaches though. Not that party loyalty has ever meant much to Virgil Goode, of course-- he was elected as a Democrat in 1994 and then switched parties after the GOP took over the house for reasons of pure political opportunism.

The reason it will give Republicans headaches is this: This year the GOP felt that if they just turned out their base they could win the elections. True, they fell short of this goal in some places, but in others they did turn out the conservative base and still lost the election.

One reason was their hard-line stance on immigration. This year the GOP lost 14% of the Hispanic vote nationally, falling from President Bush's share of Hispanics at 44% nationwide down to 30%. Without the GOP leaning votes of Cuban-Americans, it would be down into the 20% range, as it was in many Hispanic communities in the southwest. The reason is no mystery-- many Hispanics here have extended and immediate family that run across the spectrum-- some U.S. citizens, some living happily in Mexico or some other Latin American country, legal residents, illegal residents and some planning to come. An example is my cousin who is an American and married to a man from Latin America (he is a legal resident). Their kids are U.S. citizens (the oldest will probably be registering to vote in 2008) and they go down to visit his family every other year. I know they have other family here in America, and I haven't had a reason to ask about their legal status (plus I don't care whether they are legal or not-- they are still part of my family by marriage). And La Familia is very important among these people. So when Republicans threatened to build a wall this year, make some of their family members felons or carry out mass deportations, well you mess with a person's family and it's safe to say you've lost that person's vote. This loss of 14% among a group of voters who number into the tens of millions directly cost the GOP at least one congressional seat in Texas and probably two congressional seats here in Arizona (in both contests here, the GOP candidate was a conservative hardliner on immigration and got the conservative base out, but it was beaten by the direct loss of moderates and Hispanics that switched to the Democrats since 2004.) The irony of course is that immigrants from Mexico are 98% Christian, so if the concern is about the erosion of Christianity in America, they are shooting themselves in the foot by railing against undocumented immigrants, since the large majority of them are from Mexico or other Latin American countries.

Rep. Goode then goes on to cite 'diversity' in immigration and immigration from the Middle East. In fact, I agree with most conservatives as well as most liberals that we need to get a handle on who is coming into the country (which is one reason a guest-worker program makes sense) so that we can figure out ways to keep terrorists and criminals from entering the country, and track immigrants when they do come in as a backup if we don't catch some of the criminals or terrorists at the border. What is disturbing about Rep. Goode's letter though is that he speaks about Muslims and people from the 'middle east' (incidentally, the most populous Muslim countries are in Asia, not the middle east). He appears to use that as an argument to clamp down on immigration, as if there is something intrinsically bad about people from that part of the world coming to America. Now there are certainly some bad apples from the middle east, which is one reason I just mentioned that we need to get a handle on who is entering the U.S. But most people there are not bad apples, nor are most Muslims. What it will do is cause those who become U.S. citizens to gravitate toward's Congressman Ellison's party, not Congressman Goode's.

But maybe Congressman Goode doesn't care about that either. As I said before, party loyalty has never been his strong suit.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bush's Memory Lapse

President Bush says insurgents thwarted U.S. efforts at establishing security and stability throughout Iraq in 2006.

No fucking kidding, Einstein! What about 2003, 2004 and 2005?

Read it here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

St. McCain Married to the Mob

[This post is by Eli Blake]

Ever since the 2000 election, when Vietnam combat veteran John McCain burst onto the scene in the Republican Presidential primaries as a 'moderate alternative' to George W. Bush, it seems that he has led a charmed political life. George Bush is known to detest McCain personally, but he has needed him. Liberals held their fire because every now and then McCain throws them a bone (in fact John Kerry wasted valuable time and effort trying to convince McCain, who was the chair of the Bush campaign in Arizona, to defect and run on a ticket with him; what it also meant was that when John Kerry picked John Edwards for the ticket, everyone knew he was a second choice.) Independents ooze over the conservative McCain (and conservative he is, just look at his voting record,) as if they think he is one of them. Even Bush backers, like Pat Robertson (who thoroughly trashed McCain in South Carolina) have warmed up to him.

And one of McCain's biggest assets, according to most of these people is that he eschews negative campaigning.

There is a good reason for that though. It's a tale that involves organized crime, corruption and murder. Let's say that John McCain never runs a negative ad against his opponents because he doesn't want them to dig too hard.

It's because McCain is where he is because of his marriage to his second wife, Cindy. No, Cindy Hensley McCain is not where the story begins. She was a young 25 when McCain married her (he was 43). According to the Arizona Republic on June 5, 1999, McCain joked that is marriage was based on a 'tissue of lies.' Both he and she had lied to each other, she claiming to be older than she was and he claiming to be younger. Yeah, I know-- what a good foundation for a marriage to start off on. To their credit the McCains however have stayed together. Or maybe there are other reasons...

One wonders what Cindy told McCain about her father. When did McCain learn how her father-in-law Jim Hensley made his fortune? Sooner or later he had to be dealt in on the 'family jewels.' After all, they helped finance a run for Congress and not long after that for the Senate.

Jim Hensley and his brother Eugene went to work after World War II for Kemper Marley, a wealthy wholesale liquor distributor. Marley, in fact, had once been a bookie, getting his start working for the Transamerica Wire Service, a betting service established by mafiosi Gus Greenbaum (who was murdered with his wife when their throats were slashed in bed in 1958). Until 1947, liquor was rationed by the government. Apparently Marley did quite well in spite of the restrictions, and in 1948 the reason why became clear. Eugene and Jim Hensley were convicted of falsifying records on behalf of Marley's distributorship, United Liquor (along with fifty other Marley employees) to conceal the illegal distribution of hundreds of cases of liquor. Jim Hensley got a six month suspended sentence.

In 1953, Jim Hensley, then the General Manager for United Liquor, was charged again for doing the same thing again. Marley paid for top notch legal representation though (future Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.) Hensley still went to prison, but took the fall when the rest of the company was cleared. According to an article in American, Marley rewarded Hensley for his loyalty to the organization:
When Hensley strolled out of the joint, Marley bought his silence with a lucrative Phoenix-based Budweiser beer distributorship.
That distributorship and the rest of Marley's empire did very well over the decades for both Hensley and Marley, making both men multi-millionaires.

In fact, Marley was interested in more than just liquor. In 1976, then Gov. Raul Castro, a Democrat, appointed Marley, then a billionaire and the state's richest man, to the State Board Racing Commission.

And that's when one of those pesky investigative reporters got in the way. The reporter's name was Don Bolles and he worked for the Arizona Republic. Bolles discovered a land fraud ring and other crimes that appeared to lead to Sen. Barry Goldwater and others in Arizona's power structure. And he discovered that Kemper Marley, newly appointed to the State Board Racing Commission, had connections to the Mafia. In fact, Marley was a close associate of Peter Licavoli, the mob boss for Arizona. Marley had also served as Chairman of the Board for Valley National Bank, which helped bankroll Bugsy Siegel's construction of the Flamingo in Las Vegas. The revelations forced Marley to resign from the commission.

And Marley wasn't someone you crossed easily.

On June 2, 1976, Bolles climbed into his car and was blown apart by a bomb under the driver's seat. Pieces of his body were strewn around the parking lot. Bolles amazingly survived for eleven days and said to investgators on the scene, "They finally got me. The Mafia. Emprise. Find John (Harvey) Adamson."

Adamson was later convicted of the murder. But who hired him? That trail was never really followed up on, according to members of the Arizona Project, a group of reporters who began looking into mob ties after the murder.
Following Bolles' death, more than 30 journalists from the then-newly formed Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) group arrived in Phoenix to carry out their late colleague's work....

Don Devereux, another Arizona Project reporter, feels the IRE team may have trusted the authorities too much. "We accepted very uncritically their scenario. In retrospect, we were very naive to get lead around. It really isn't something that we should be running around congratulating ourselves about," says Devereux of the IRE investigation...

"The biggest disservice we did to Bolles was not paying more attention to him," says Devereux. "His dying words were words we should have glommed onto a little more seriously, because when he was lying on the pavement he said: `Adamson, Emprise, Mafia. ... Emprise was almost Bolles' white whale. He was obsessed by them...."
Emprise, a Buffalo, NY based sports concessionire with known mob ties, had a circuit of Greyhound racing tracks in Arizona. So who was named to the Racing Commission was of vital interest to Emprise. Enter Kemper Marley. Exit Kemper Marley, courtesy of Bolles.
The Phoenix police theorized that Marley wanting revenge enlisted the help of local contractor Max Dunlap. Dunlap then allegedly hired Adamson to carry out the bombing. Adamson claimed that plumber James Robison assisted him.

Over the years, Dunlap and Robison have maintained their innocence. Dunlap remains incarcerated. Although, Robison gained acquittal in a retrial, he is still awaiting release from prison on a related charge. Meanwhile, the state paroled Adamson [in 1996], and he disappeared into the federal witness protection program.

The Phoenix police never even arrested Marley, who died in 1990.
Meanwhile, Jim Hensley remained a close friend of Kemper Marley. In fact, it was Bolles who wrote that the Hensleys had bought Ruidoso Downs horse racing track in New Mexico on behalf of Marley. Eugene Hensley later sold the track to a buyer linked to Emprise (linked here) as described in the Phoenix Gazette, Jan. 4, 1990.)

In 1982, McCain decided to run for Congress. That takes some quick money, and McCain had access to it-- thanks to his father in law (whose employees at his liquor distributorship were 'persuaded' to donate thousands of dollars to McCain), and one of Hensley's friends, Charles Keating of the Lincoln S&L (I won't get into the Lincoln S&L scandal here because it is pretty well known by now that McCain was one of the 'Keating Five.') To seal the deal, Jim Hensley and Cindy Hensley McCain invested $359,100 in one of Keating's projects.

It has been said that the Mafia never really left, they have just moved upscale. That is certainly the case in Las Vegas, where the casinos are corporations and run in a businesslike manner (so a Bugsy Siegel would be an anachronism, but I'm also not sure I'd want to make an enemy out of some of the folks who have those offices on the top floor.) The original Cosa Nostra may have been largely broken up, but the remnants of the Mafia are still around, mostly in fat family bank accounts and politicians they have helped move forward, and John McCain is privvy to one and is the other.

Crossposted at Deep Thought

The Round Table

The Round Table at The Algonquin Hotel was a place where writers, critics, actors and wits met from 1919 until about 1929.

Known as the Algonquin Round Table these folks would have lunch daily and enjoy each others company, while "exchanging ideas, opinions and often-savage wit that has enriched the world’s literary life. "

They called themselves the Vicious Circle.

Their legacy lives on.

For Joel, whom I hope we will be reading very soon.

Dressed in Holiday Style

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas

Children laughing, people passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on ev'ry street corner you hear:

Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas day

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bye Bye Rummie!

Daily Kos has an excellent post about the send off of Rumsfeld. The White House certainly did a grand show, considering the fact that Rummie was fired. FIRED! by the people of the United States.

Cheney remarked that Rummie was "“finest Secretary of Defense this nation has ever had.” You can see it at Think Progress. But it gets better, this governmental comedy. The President chimed in with saying that Rumsfeld "knows how to lead and he did and the country is better off for it."

We all know what Cheney pushed for and the reason that "Don" was hired. The two of them have quite a history.

Cheney's ideal of presidential power is the level of power the office briefly achieved in the late 1960s, the era of what historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called the "imperial presidency."
It almost worked too, until the people finally woke up from their stupor of being afraid. Fear that was instilled by our very own government.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Censoring Science?

New Publishing Rules Restrict Scientists

By John Heilprin, Associated Press Writer


New rules require screening of all facts and interpretations by agency scientists who study everything from caribou mating to global warming. The rules apply to all scientific papers and other public documents, even minor reports or prepared talks, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Top officials at the Interior Department's scientific arm say the rules only standardize what scientists must do to ensure the quality of their work and give a heads-up to the agency's public relations staff.

Some agency scientists, who until now have felt free from any political interference, worry that the objectivity of their work could be compromised.

"I feel as though we've got someone looking over our shoulder at every damn thing we do. And to me that's a very scary thing. I worry that it borders on censorship," said Jim Estes, an internationally recognized marine biologist in the USGS field station at Santa Cruz, Calif.

"The explanation was that this was intended to ensure the highest possible quality research," said Estes, a researcher at the agency for more than 30 years. "But to me it feels like they're doing this to keep us under their thumbs. It seems like they're afraid of science. Our findings could be embarrassing to the administration."

The new requirements state that the USGS's communications office must be "alerted about information products containing high-visibility topics or topics of a policy-sensitive nature."
Full article here.

Rat-Holes and Rats

Exiting the Rat-Hole: Iraq & CheneyBush

By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers


The American people in the past several years have learned about all sorts of previously-kept secrets involving the Bush Administration: its pay-to-play corruptions via Abramoff and other lobbyists, its advocacy and implentation of torture as official state policy, its sending detainees in its custody to secret CIA prisons around the globe, its "extraordinary renditions" that deliver high-value suspects to countries abroad that are notorious for excrutiating torture methods, its eavesdropping without court warrants on Americans' phone calls and emails, its memos outlining how Bush can rule as an unchecked king able to ignore laws because of "national security" concerns (an assumption of power ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court when President Nixon tried it), and on and on. [...]

But everything we've learned in the past several years about the Bush Administration's policies and programs reveals an over-reaching drive for power and secrecy -- and always desiring more of both -- carried out by incompetents that never have had to face accountability for their drastic mistakes. Katrina is just the tip of the very large iceberg.

Bush claims that he did face a moment of "accountability," the 2004 election; he thereby claims that nothing can be done since then to hold him accountable for anything. He almost dares the House to impeach him, since he's pretty sure they won't. [...]

And then there is Iraq. [...]

This isn't even a lame-duck presidency. It's on artificial life-support and there is no guarantee it can last through the next two years without infecting the entire body politic with its dangerous dementia. [...]

Since Bush will never resign -- to him, it would be the equivalent of ego suicide -- that means the economic and political forces behind his administration will encourage the Democrats to finish him off, perhaps through impeachment. [...]

Thanks to CheneyBush's war, there is such a mess in Iraq now that maybe nothing will work. But we all know that continuing the war and Occupation under the current Administration's disastrous leadership offers little hope either to Americans or to Iraqis. Indeed, continuing on with the present leadership is a recipe for further disasters. [...]

Right now our troops are dying and coming home maimed for no good purpose, and nearly a half-trillion dollars have been poured down the rathole of this baseless ideological adventure, money that could be far better spent at home.

America will not be able to start dealing with the immense political and economic reconstruction work that needs to be done inside America until we can begin to get the 800-lb. gorilla that is Iraq off our collective back.
First published by The Crisis Papers, 12/12/06.
© 2006 - Bernard Weiner

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pelosi Announces Committee Memberships

“This distinguished group of Members will be instrumental in Democrats’ efforts to take American in a New Direction that increases security, opportunity, and prosperity, while restoring civility and integrity to the Congress,” Pelosi said. “These Members will be a strong voice for all Americans, not just the privileged few.”

The new Committee members are:

Ways and Means Committee:

  • Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon
  • Congressman Ron Kind of Wisconsin
  • Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey
  • Congresswoman Shelley Berkley of Nevada
  • Congressman Joe Crowley of New York
  • Congressman Kendrick Meek of Florida
  • Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland
  • Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania
  • Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama

Energy and Commerce Committee:

  • Congresswoman Jane Harman of California
  • Congressman Leonard Boswell of Iowa
  • Congresswoman Darlene Hooley of Oregon
  • Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York
  • Congressman Jim Matheson of Utah
  • Congressman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina
  • Congressman Charlie Melancon of Louisiana
  • Congressman-elect Baron Hill of Indiana

Financial Services Committee:

  • Congressman-elect Joe Donnelly of Indiana
  • Congressman-elect Keith Ellison of Minnesota
  • Congressman-elect Ron Klein of Florida
  • Congressman-elect Tim Mahoney of Florida
  • Congressman-elect Ed Perlmutter of Colorado
  • Congressman Albio Sires of New Jersey
  • Congressman-elect Charlie Wilson of Ohio

Armed Services Committee:

  • Congresswoman-elect Nancy Boyda of Kansas
  • Congressman-elect Joe Courtney of Connecticut
  • Congressman-elect Brad Ellsworth of Indiana
  • Congresswoman-elect Gabby Giffords of Arizona
  • Congresswoman-elect Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
  • Congressman-elect Hank Johnson of Georgia
  • Congressman-elect Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania
  • Congressman-elect Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee:

  • Congresswoman Grace Napolitano of California
  • Congressman Dan Lipinski of Illinois
  • Congressman-elect Michael Arcuri of New York
  • Congressman-elect Bruce Braley of Iowa
  • Congressman-elect Chris Carney of Pennsylvania
  • Congressman-elect John Hall of New York
  • Congresswoman-elect Mazie Hirono of Hawaii
  • Congressman-elect Steve Kagen of Wisconsin
  • Congressman-elect Jerry McNerney of California
  • Congressman-elect Harry Mitchell of Arizona
  • Congressman-elect Heath Shuler of North Carolina
  • Congressman-elect Zack Space of Ohio

The Steering Committee also appointed the following freshmen Members to the following committees:

Agriculture Committee:

  • Congressman-elect Tim Walz of Minnesota

Education and Workforce Committee:

  • Congressman-elect Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania
  • Congressman-elect Phil Hare of Illinois
  • Congressman-elect Dave Loebsack of Iowa
  • Congressman-elect John Sarbanes of Maryland
  • Congresswoman-elect Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire
  • Congressman-elect John Yarmuth of Kentucky

Government Reform Committee:

  • Congressman-elect Paul Hodes of New Hampshire
  • Congressman-elect Chris Murphy of Connecticut

Homeland Security Committee:

  • Congresswoman-elect Yvette Clarke of New York

Judiciary Committee:

  • Congressman-elect Steven Cohen of Tennessee

The Steering Committee agreed to continue the Democratic Caucus resolution temporarily removing Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana from the Ways and Means Committee until the ongoing investigation is resolved.

The full Democratic Caucus will vote on these nominations.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hasta Nunca GOP!!

The Republican legislature failed to pass 9 of the 11 spending bills that fund the government, leaving responsible governance to the Democrats next year.

The failure to pass budget bills for domestic agencies, said Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., amounted to "a blatant admission of abject failure by the most useless Congress in modern times.''


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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Karen Carter Watch

You can watch the returns for the Louisiana here

Tim at MyDD has a post up
, he is down in New Orleans with the Carter Campaign.

Update: [12/10] Jefferson has been re-elected. In a democracy, the people get the government they vote for. The important thing to be watching in this case is whether Jefferson will get back his Committee assignment.

COMMENT from robliberal at MyDD:

Louisiana desperately needs his [Jefferson's] influence on the committee assignments he had. If Pelosi does not reappoint him and does not replace him with someone from the LA (or perhaps even MS) delegations she will be seen as slamming the door on Katrina victims which will look bad on Democrats at a time when Katrina will be a major issue in the LA and MS statewide races in 2007 and the Senate and presidential race in those states in 2008. Voters in those states are angry at the Bush administration and the GOP and the Democratic control of both houses is a golden opportunity for Democrats to make gains in those states. Another very hard decision for Pelosi to make.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

If I could vote - I would cast my vote for...

Please vote for Karen Carter tomorrow!
Here is the letter that Karen Carter has sent out to her supporters!! I surely hope that Karen will be our Next Congresswoman from LA!

The change we have been working towards will not happen by itself. We have all been encouraged by the huge response that our campaign has generated but it can’t happen until you vote! We need your family, your friends, and your neighbors. Remind them, tell them, drive them – whatever it takes, make sure they get out and vote!

So much hinges on this election. There is no question that this district needs someone who can commit to serving us the way we deserve. It is time to vote against the culture of corruption and work to rebuild.

Thank you for your support and your commitment. On to victory!

A Young Marine Speaks

I'm sick and tired of this patriotic, nationalistic and fascist crap. I stood through a memorial service today for a young Marine that was killed in Iraq back in April. During this memorial a number of people spoke about the guy and about his sacrifice for the country. How do you justify 'sacrificing' your life for a war which is not only illegal, but is being prosecuted to the extent where the only thing keeping us there is one man's power, and his ego. A recent Marine Corps intelligence report that was leaked said that the war in the al-Anbar province is unwinnable. It said that there was nothing we could do to win the hearts and minds, or the military operations in that area. So I wonder, why are we still there? Democracy is not forced upon people at gunpoint. It's the result of forward thinking individuals who take the initiative and risks to give their fellow countrymen a better way of life.

When I joined I took an oath. In that oath I swore to protect the Constitution of the United States. I didn't swear to build democracies in countries on the other side of the world under the guise of "national security." I didn't join the military to be part of an Orwellian ("1984") war machine that is in an obligatory war against whoever the state deems the enemy to be so that the populace can be controlled and riled up in a pro-nationalistic frenzy to support any new and oppressive law that will be the key to destroying the enemy. Example given – the Patriot Act. So aptly named, and totally against all that the constitution stands for. President Bush used the reactionary nature of our society to bring our country together and to infuse into the national psyche a need to give up their little-used rights in the hope to make our nation a little safer. The same scare tactics he used to win elections. He drones on and on about how America and the world would be a less safe place if we weren't killing Iraqis, and that we'd have to fight the terrorists at home if we weren't abroad. In our modern day emotive society this strategy (or strategery?) works, or had worked, up until last month's elections.

My point in this; to show that America was never nationalistic. If anything they were Statalistic (giving their allegiance to the state of their residence). This is shown in the fact that the founders created states with fully capable and independent governments and not provinces that were just a division of the federal government. These men believed that America was a place where imperialistic values would be non-existent. Where the people trying to make their lives better by working hard, thinking, inventing and using the free market would tie up so much of normal life that imperialistic colonization and the fighting of wars thousands of miles away for interests that are not our own would be avoided. They believed this expansion of power could be left to the European nations, the England, France and Spain of their time. However this recent, and current influx of nationalistic feeling has created an environment where giving up your rights, going to a foreign country to fight a people who did not ask for us to be there, nor did their leader do anything to warrant us being there, and dying would be considered honorable and heroic. I don't believe it anymore. I don't believe it's right for any American to go along with it anymore. Yes I know that we in the military are bound by the UCMJ and somehow don't fall under the Constitution (the very thing we're suppose to be defending) but sooner or later there is a decision that every American soldier, marine, airmen and seamen makes to allow themselves to be sent to a war that is against every fiber this country was founded on. I know that when April rolls around I will be thinking long and hard on that decision. Even though we in the military are just doing as we're told we still have the moral and ethical obligation to choose to do as we're told, or to say, "No, that isn't right." I believe that if more troopers like me and the professional military, the officers and commanders, start standing up and saying that they won't let themselves or their troops go to this illegal war people will start standing up and realizing what the heck is going on over there.

The sad fact of the matter is that we are not fighting terrorists in Iraq. We are fighting the Iraqi people who feel like a conquered and occupied people. Personally I have a hard time believing that if I was an Iraqi that I wouldn't be doing everything in my power to kill and maim as many Americans as possible. I know that the vast majority of Americans would not be happy with the Canadian government, or any other foreign government, liberating us from the clutches of George W. Bush, even though a large number of us would like that, and forcing us to accept their system of government. Would not millions of Americans rise up and fight back? Would you not rise up to protect and defend your house and your neighborhood if someone invaded your country? But we send thousands of troops to a foreign country to do just that. How is it moral to fight a people who are just trying to defend their homes and families? I think next time I go to Iraq perhaps I should wear a bright red coat and carry a Brown Bess instead of my digitalized utilities and M16.

Notice I never once used the word homeland in any of this. I have a secondary point I want to bring up now. Never once was the term homeland ever used to describe the country of America until Mr. Bush began the department of homeland security after the 9/11 attacks. Taking a 20th century history class will teach us that the most notable countries in the last century that referred to their country in this way were Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Hitler used the term fatherland to drum up support, nationalistic support, for his growing war machine. He used the nationalism he created in the minds of the Germans to justify the sacrifice of their livelihood to build the war machine to get back their power from the oppressive restrictions the English and French had put on them at Versailles. This is the same feeling that has been virulently infecting the American psyche in the last hundred years. This is the same feeling that consoles a mother after her son is killed in an attempt to prosecute an aggressor's war 10,000 miles away. It's also known as Patriotism these days, but I say, "No more." No more nationalistic inanity, no more passing it off as patriotism. Patriotism is learning, and educating oneself to understand what their country really stands for.

I heard a lot during the memorial service about how the dead Marine did so much good for others and how his helping others was like a little microcosm of America helping because we have the power to do so. Well if we have the power to help people why aren't we helping in Darfur where hundreds of thousands of people have died in the last 10 years. Saddam was convicted and sentenced to death for killing 143 Shiites who conspired to assassinate him. (I know all you "patriotic" Americans would be calling for the heads of anyone who conspired to assassinate supreme leader Bush). And yet we spend upwards of 1 trillion dollars and nearing 3,000 lives to help these Iraqis when they don't even want us there. Not to mention we don't have the legal justification to be there. I guess we should wait around for the omnipotent W Bush to decide who we should use our superpowerdom to help next. It's about time to throw him and the rest of the fascists out. Moreover it's about time to start educating Americans about their past and history, and letting them know that imperialistic leaders are not what the founders of this great country wanted.
December 8, 2006

Philip Martin [send him mail] has been a Marine for 2 years. He is in the infantry (a "grunt"), and spent 7 months in the al-Anbar province of Iraq. He went on more than 180 combat patrols in and outside of the city of Fallujah, where he was hit with 2 IEDs (luckily never injured) and was involved in a number of firefights. He is currently stationed in Twentynine Palms, CA, and due to return to Iraq for a second deployment in April 2007. He is 21-years-old.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

How stupid is stupid?

Remember the Dubai ports deal? Do you remember how the Bush administration didn't think that outsourcing our security to a company owned by the government of Dubai was a bad thing? This despite the fact that the government of Dubai was one of only three in the world to have recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan (a move too radical even for Iran, Iraq or Syria), or that the 9/11 commission had pointed out that in February 1999 (six months after the African embassy bombings) the emir of Dubai had entertained bin Laden as a cherished guest at his hunting camp in Afghanistan.

Well, because most people have more common sense than the Bush administration (or those 'must wear blinders' conservatives who parrot every word in a White House press release), the Dubai ports deal never became reality. One would hope that the White House learned something from that and wouldn't repeat the mistake.

One would hope that, but one would be wrong. Today, it was announced that Dubai Ports World, the same firm that was eventually determined to be unacceptable for purposes of screening cargo coming into the U.S., will now be screening cargo coming in for nuclear material.

Yes, you read that right.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Dubai Ports World, the Arab-owned company which set off a furor with its purchase of six U.S. port operations earlier this year, has been cleared to join a federal pilot program to test the methods used to screen U.S.-bound cargo for radiation.

The Security Freight Initiative involves the use of existing technology -- including streaming video and nuclear-detection devices -- at foreign ports, according to details announced Thursday by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

The United States, however, "will not outsource our security," Chertoff said, adding that all decisions about whether cargo is allowed to continue to the United States "will be made 100 percent by U.S. officials."

And we are supposed to feel better because our guys will make the call on whether to let the cargo go? The whole concern is founded on whether Dubai's chumminess with bin Laden might allow some of bin Laden's people to infiltrate the system. Of course if an item fails an inspection it won't go, but then the goal of terrorists isn't to cause failed inspections. It's to figure a way out to sneak something past the inspectors. And if you are the inspector, well what else do I have to say?

Of course, it might not even be that any bin Laden sympathizers who are working for DPW would have to do slip anything past the inspection themselves. All they would have to do is learn enough about how the system works to figure out how to beat it.

I know that the Bush administration has trouble changing course. But even when they've already been forced to acknowlege the problem before, they still don't change their basic thinking.

A Date That Will Live In Infamy

Forward magazines explode on the U.S.S. Arizona

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

December 7, 1941

"... a date that will live in infamy."
~Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

ISG - Iraq Study Group

Well today the "Grand Plan" was released. Did everyone get their copy? I wish these words by Al Gore were included in the book. A single man as opposed to a "a group" figured it out:

"This was the worst strategic mistake in the entire history of the United States "
Crooks and Liars has the video.

My Left Wing comments:
To me the Iraq Study Hall Group is nothing but a practical joke played upon a gullible public grown fat on misinformation and Orwellian stand-up.

That about sums it up!

Sadly enough, today we lost ten American service members. They were killed from improvised explosive devices in Iraq.

I light this candle for the soldiers souls and
for the families of the fallen soldiers.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Yeah, right

Don't let him fool you - he's crying about George - It was never supposed to be George as President. It was to be Jeb. What happened!?!? George has screwed it up so much that the dynasty has ended. Sob, sob, sob.


And, I quote:

The former president also answered questions for about a half hour.

When asked about the vision for his grandchildren, he said neither he nor his wife are pushing them toward politics or running for public office.

"But I hope that they will, I hope quite a few of them will," he said before pausing and joking about the current President Bush's daughters. "I'm not sure I'd count on the twins doing this - Jenna and Barbara - but they're full of life and they might."

Six years ago, when the twins were 19, they were charged with underage drinking in an Austin, Texas bar.

"They've calmed way down," their grandfather said. "They're doing great."

Yeah, right.

An Irresponsible Decision

Bush appointment bad politics, bad leadership


A recent appointment by President Bush may buy points with the Republican Party's fringe religious right, but it was an irresponsible decision.

Mr. Bush appointed a Massachusetts gynecologist and obstetrician to serve as deputy secretary for population affairs, the chief of family planning issues for the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Eric Keroack will supervise $283 million in Title X funding that makes available information on and access to contraception, especially for those with low incomes.

The problem? Dr. Keroack opposes all forms of contraception.

Dr. Keroack is medical director of a Christian organization that claims in its statement of faith "that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness." Dr. Keroack recently gave a speech in which he opined that female promiscuity uses up a bonding hormone, thus preventing such women from bonding in monogamous relationships later in life.

In short, Dr. Keroack is a nut. His bizarre positions would be more amusing but for the impact he may have upon important birth control and disease-prevention issues. Vilifying the condom not only leads to the birth of children to parents who can't or won't support them, it increases the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

President Bush will lose more political points than he will gain from the appointment. More important, he has undermined U.S. efforts at responsible parenting and disease control.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Albany Project

Well worth looking at and please blogroll as well.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


I have to get back to the reasonable
Back to the reasonable I once knew
Even though it is so late in this season
One by one the favorites I will view.

So with that I visited my friend from the North
and found the greatest relaxation link

Next I stopped at Mannion's Place
to read words aren't just about what they mean

So while some try to leave this world of blogging
El Commandante simply cannot be one.

For where would I be without Cairo
Introducing Christmas Comes Early.

Though sad to see the pictures taken
I was glad to see she has returned, Idyllopus.

And last I just wanted to make sure
That you all knew where to find
The one I owe for making this blog

So that is a part of what I have time to read,
the little time that seems to be mine of late.
But I feel what I am working for
Is all worth it. For the PEOPLE!

Silvestre Reyes, House Intelligence Committee Chairman

House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi has chosen a Border Patrol agent-turned-congressman to lead the House intelligence committee, ending weeks of Democratic debate about who will oversee the nation’s spy agencies.

"When tough questions are required — whether they relate to intelligence shortcomings before the 9/11 attacks or the war in Iraq, or to the quality on intelligence on Iran or North Korea — he does not hesitate to ask them," Pelosi said Friday in a statement announcing her choice of Reyes.

Mr. Reyes voted against the congressional resolution authorizing the United States to go to war in Iraq. Reyes is also a member of the 109th Congress Committee on Veterans Affairs.

The Carpetbagger Report thinks Pelosi did the right thing.

Friday, December 01, 2006

GOP gets Real Nasty

I am sure that my title does not surprise anyone reading this Blog, but just read what this top GOP aide threatened to do to our new Speaker of the House:

Looks like the Republicans in the House aren’t planning to play nice-nice with the Democrats after all. The emerging House Republican plan on how to address the new Democratic majority is turning toward an aggressive effort to portray Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi and her team as out of touch and liberal.

“Come January, we’ll take her head off every day,” said a top GOP aide involved in the planning. “It will be a pure war of ideas over the next two years.” […]

“We are going to re-establish that we are the party of ideas, that they got elected in a fluke, and we’re going to make that known every day, every way,” said the official.

A fluke??? Did he say fluke? If I weren't a Peace Activist I would punch this aide in the nose, just for saying that. Democrats won because we told the people the truth and the people voted for a Change!!

Digby says:
This isn't the 1970's. They aren't going to get away with blaming the cowardly public this time. There are no hippies to hate ---- just millions of average, taxpaying, middle class Americans who know damned well when they've been lied to. And if they don't, there are many of us out here who will remind them.
Peace, Brothers and Sisters!!

Hey, Newtie: STFU!

Free speech and the delusion of grandeur

Keith Olbermann responds to Newt Gingrich's comments about free speech

And the arsonist at the microphone, the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, was insisting that we must attach an "on-off button" to free speech.

He offered the time-tested excuse trotted out by our demagogues since even before the Republic was founded: widespread death, of Americans, in America, possibly at the hands of Americans.

But updated, now, to include terrorists using the Internet for recruitment. End result — "losing a city."

Mr. Gingrich, the British "broke up our capacity to use free speech" in the 1770s.

The pro-slavery leaders "broke up our capacity to use free speech" in the 1850s.

The FBI and CIA "broke up our capacity to use free speech" in the 1960s.

It is in those groups where you would have found your kindred spirits, Mr. Gingrich.

Those who had no faith in freedom, no faith in this country, and, ultimately, no faith even in the strength of their own ideas, to stand up on their own legs without having the playing field tilted entirely to their benefit.

"It will lead us to learn," Gingrich continued, "how to close down every Web site that is dangerous, and it will lead us to a very severe approach to people who advocate the killing of Americans and advocate the use of nuclear and biological weapons."

That we have always had "a very severe approach" to these people is insufficient for Mr. Gingrich’s ends.

He wants to somehow ban the idea.

Even though everyone who has ever protested a movie or a piece of music or a book has learned the same lesson:

Try to suppress it, and you only validate it.

Make it illegal, and you make it the subject of curiosity.

Say it cannot be said, and it will instead be screamed.

And on top of the thundering danger in his eagerness to sell out freedom of speech, there is a sadder sound, still — the tinny crash of a garbage can lid on a sidewalk.

Whatever dreams of Internet censorship float like a miasma in Mr. Gingrich’s personal swamp, whatever hopes he has of an Iron Firewall, the simple fact is, technically they won’t work.

As of tomorrow they will have been defeated by a free computer download.

Mere hours after Gingrich’s speech in New Hampshire, the University of Toronto announced it had come up with a program called Psiphon to liberate those in countries in which the Internet is regulated.

Well, Mr. Gingrich, what is more "massively destructive" than trying to get us to give you our freedom?

And what is someone seeking to hamstring the First Amendment doing, if not "fighting outside the rules of law"?

And what is the suppression of knowledge and freedom, if not "barbarism"?
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