Tuesday, May 31, 2005



Many Memorial Days yet to come – next year it will be over 2000 dead

Today, Bush gave a speech at Arlington Cemetery. AP has the story, but the key passages aren't about what he said today. They are the paragraphs that describe what Bush said two years ago:

Before his Memorial Day remarks in 2003, Bush had declared major combat operations at an end, the U.S. government confidently predicted that weapons of mass destruction would be found and American generals said troops were in the process of stabilizing Iraq.

At that time, some 160 American soldiers had been killed in Iraq. Today, the total is over 1,650.

In his remarks today, Bush talked about dead soldiers and their sacrifice. Of course, he used the same lying language he's used for years now:

"We must honor them by completing the mission for which they gave their lives; by defeating the terrorists."

Maybe Bush should have read his 2003 speech before he started talking today. Most Americans now understand that invading Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 or WMD or any of the other plethora of lies concocted by Bush and co. But he can't help spinning his lies....even on Memorial Day...even while talking about the soldiers who died in his war.

More: http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2005/05/alas-what-mighty-props-have-fallen-on.html

The best of the Memorial Day editorials

In exchange for our uniformed young people's willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country. In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes. Perhaps it happened because Americans, understandably, don't expect untruths from those in power. But that works better as an explanation than as an excuse.

This Memorial Day is not a good one for the country that was once the world's most brilliant beacon of freedom and justice. .. State Department officials know better than anyone that the image of the United States has deteriorated around the world. The U.S. is now widely viewed as a brutal, bullying nation that countenances torture and operates hideous prison camps at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in other parts of the world - camps where inmates have been horribly abused, gruesomely humiliated and even killed.

I got a call about a week ago from a very nice guy who lives in my town. He is one of the coordinators for our Memorial Day parade and, via some list or another, he knew I was a decorated Vet and asked me to join other veterans marching in honor of our country's war dead. . . "Well, to be honest – and I don't want to offend you politically –I don't feel terribly proud of my country right now," I said. "I am so opposed to the direction our country is moving and the way we are using our military, that I don't know that I can participate in something like this.". . .

Memorial Day should be the king of all nonpartisan events, a day when we put aside our political differences to observe something that we can all most assuredly agree upon – our gratitude for the people who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. . . After hours of thought, I realized that the core of my confusion rests in the extremely divided state of our country over the Iraq war and the strong difference of opinion on the reasons that 1,657 Americans have died in that conflict. I came to the conclusion that, no matter how apolitical this day should be, I simply cannot march should-to-shoulder with people who voted for George W. Bush and whom I hold at least partially responsible for the human losses we have suffered under his administration.

Man, whenever they let Cheney out of his protective bunker, you know it’s going to be to unleash a torrent of unbelievable lies. This is just a sample of the latest

Vice President Dick Cheney emphatically defended the handling of detainees at Guantánamo Bay in an interview to be broadcast tonight, saying that they had been "well treated, treated humanely and decently" and that some accusations to the contrary were "lies."

The vice president largely dismissed assertions that guards or interrogators at the American naval base in Cuba had mishandled the Koran or beaten detainees. He said that freed Guantánamo prisoners were now "peddling lies.". . . Last week, the human rights group Amnesty International compared Guantánamo to a brutal gulag-style camp. Asked about that characterization, Mr. Cheney replied, "Frankly, I was offended by it," according to a transcript.

[NB: Frankly, I’m offended by THAT comment]

He said that many Guantánamo detainees were "individuals who have been actively involved as the enemy, if you will, trying to kill Americans," and that some had provided "significant amounts of intelligence" to their interrogators.

[NB: Many? some?. . . uh, Dick, what about the INNOCENT ones?]

Mr. Cheney added, "What we're doing down there has, I think, been done perfectly appropriately."

[NB: Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that even the Defense Dept’s own analyses have admitted serious errors “down there” is clearly a liar and a scoundrel]

More: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_05_29.php#005756

Rendition continues


[NB: How sick to be in a country where you want your own government brought up on war crimes charges]

I guess a sense of mortality helps to clarify one’s moral priorities

In what would be the first major effort by a Republican to get the GOP-led Congress to establish US detention law, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, has scheduled a hearing in June to launch his effort to create clear due process rules for suspected terrorists who are being held without trial.

They hope that Bush will change his mind on stem cells? Haven’t these people been paying attention?


The “pro cure” movement


Ooh, Lindsay, this is nasty (and hilarious)

I think the fundamentalists are being too soft on this issue. They make it sound like this is a morally optional procedure. But these are little people. Surely every Christian family must do its part. . . The believers should divide up all outstanding embryos and assign them to wombs immediately. . . A reproductive draft is the only fair way to settle this.

The Christian Right doesn’t want parity, influence, partnership, or compromise: they want total theocratic control. Paranoia? Exaggeration? Read on

What the disparate sects of this movement, known as Dominionism, share is an obsession with political power. A decades-long refusal to engage in politics at all following the Scopes trial has been replaced by a call for Christian “dominion” over the nation and, eventually, over the earth itself. Dominionists preach that Jesus has called them to build the kingdom of God in the here and now, whereas previously it was thought that we would have to wait for it. America becomes, in this militant biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America’s Christian leaders are viewed, quite simply, as agents of Satan. Under Christian dominion, America will no longer be a sinful and fallen nation but one in which the Ten Commandments form the basis of our legal system, Creationism and “Christian values” form the basis of our educational system, and the media and the government proclaim the Good News to one and all. Aside from its proselytizing mandate, the federal government will be reduced to the protection of property rights and “homeland” security. Some Dominionists (not all of whom accept the label, at least not publicly) would further require all citizens to pay “tithes” to church organizations empowered by the government to run our social-welfare agencies, and a number of influential figures advocate the death penalty for a host of “moral crimes,” including apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and witchcraft. The only legitimate voices in this state will be Christian. All others will be silenced.

The traditional evangelicals, those who come out of Billy Graham’s mold, are not necessarily comfortable with the direction taken by the Dominionists, who now control most of America’s major evangelical organizations, from the NRB to the Southern Baptist Convention, and may already claim dominion over the Christian media outlets. But Christians who challenge Dominionists, even if they are fundamentalist or conservative or born-again, tend to be ruthlessly thrust aside.

Is the FBI mishandling the Franklin investigation?


Does Trent Lott want his old job back?


In Ohio, resignation isn’t enough for someone who invested millions of state funds in a quack scheme run by a big campaign donor, who turned out to be a crook


Never, ever trust these people

The LAT fronts a little-noticed provision in the recent military-spending bill that allows oil and gas drilling in a national park off the Gulf of Mexico. The area is zoned as "wilderness," meaning it has the highest level of federal protection. It's the first time moves have been made to drill on such sites.

More stats that suggest the vote totals in 2004 were jimmied (thanks to Doug Kellner for the link)


In the interests of fairness: I linked to a story a couple of days ago that ridiculed “Homeland Security” agents for investigating illegal Star Wars downloads. As Mark Kleiman notes, since the entire Customs Dept is part of Homeland Security, that really isn’t a surprise, or necessarily a bad thing

Right this second, "officials of the Department of Homeland Security" are calculating duties on imported rutabagas. . . but that doesn't make it a scandal that DHS is doing its ordinary jobs along with (we hope) its more sensitive job.

Bonus item: a glimpse inside the small, small town that is Washington, D.C. (and their chummy reactions to Bush’s lies vs their reactions to Clinton’s lies)

When Establishment Washingtonians of all persuasions gather to support their own, they are not unlike any other small community in the country.

On this evening, the roster included Cabinet members Madeleine Albright and Donna Shalala, Republicans Sen. John McCain and Rep. Bob Livingston, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, PBS's Jim Lehrer and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, all behaving like the pals that they are. On display was a side of Washington that most people in this country never see. For all their apparent public differences, the people in the room that night were coming together with genuine affection and emotion to support their friends -- the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt and his wife, CNN's Judy Woodruff, whose son Jeffrey has spina bifida.

But this particular community happens to be in the nation's capital. And the people in it are the so-called Beltway Insiders -- the high-level members of Congress, policymakers, lawyers, military brass, diplomats and journalists who have a proprietary interest in Washington and identify with it. . . They call the capital city their "town."

More: http://talkleft.com/new_archives/010923.html

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Monday, May 30, 2005



Not good

The largest Iraqi-led counterinsurgency operation since the downfall of Saddam Hussein set off a violent backlash on Sunday across Baghdad. At least 20 people were killed in the capital, 14 of them in a battle lasting several hours when insurgents initiated sustained attacks on several police stations and an army barracks. . . The violence, including at least four suicide car bombings, was a bloody start to an operation that Iraq's new Shiite-majority government had presented as a new get-tough policy toward Sunni Arab insurgents, first in Baghdad and then countrywide.

The latest attacks raised the total number of Iraqis killed this month to about 650, in addition to at least 63 American troops who have been killed, the highest American toll since January.

General John Riggs on the Iraq mission (thanks to Mark Kleiman for the link)

Riggs was blunt and outspoken on a number of issues and publicly contradicted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld by arguing that the Army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed more troops. . . "They all went bat s- - when that happened," recalled retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner, a one-time Pentagon adviser who ran reconstruction efforts in Iraq in the spring of 2003. "The military part of [the defense secretary's office] has been politicized. If [officers] disagree, they are ostracized and their reputations are ruined.". . .

Riggs spent 39 years in the Army, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery during the Vietnam War and working his way up to become a three-star general entrusted with creating a high-tech Army for the 21st century. . . But on a spring day last year, Riggs was told by senior Army officials that he would be retired at a reduced rank, losing one of his stars because of infractions considered so minor that they were not placed in his official record. . .

A senior officer's loss of a star is a punishment seldom used, and then usually for the most serious offenses, such as dereliction of duty or command failures, adultery or misuse of government funds or equipment.

General Richard Myers on freedom of the press

Here's what he said about Americans, like us, who are upset about what the US government is doing in Guantanamo, Cuba (from his appearance on Face the Nation, today):

This is about other people that are criticizing operations down there, in what I view, in many cases, an irresponsible way, and relishing the fact that they can put a spotlight on what should not be the debate.

[John Aravosis] Irresponsible? And "relishing" the fact that you're trashing the Constitution and the Geneva Convention?

More: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/5/29/175012/886

Myers doesn’t need to worry: why the press has always been fundamentally pro-war

It's a crime they aided and abetted. It's no wonder they aren't particularly interested in exploring why, once again, they were on the wrong side of an important issue.

[Washington Post] THE LATEST FBI documents detailing allegations of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay are, like previous FBI documents, highly disturbing. . . But the status of these documents is nearly as disturbing as their content. They can be found, again like previous FBI documents, only on the Web site of the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained them by suing the government under the Freedom of Information Act. They did not, in other words, appear in the context of a government or military investigation.

[NB: Nor did they appear first in any PRESS investigation. Remember the Pentagon Papers? Remember what a free and independent press used to look like?]

Redefining the “Bush Doctrine”

[H]as anyone else noticed that our media allowed the "Bush Doctrine" to magically evolve from "pre-emptive war against anyone who might want to hurt us" to "spreading freedom and democracy throughout the world" without blinking?

Lawyers volunteer to go to Guantanamo

[NYT] The increase in lawyers for Guantánamo detainees was set in motion last June when the Supreme Court ruled against the Bush administration and said the prisoners there were entitled to challenge their detentions in federal courts.

The rate at which lawyers have stepped forward for the task may be a reflection of the changing public attitudes about Guantánamo Bay and its mission.

"In the beginning, just after 9/11, we couldn't get anybody," said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a group based in New York that is coordinating the assigning of lawyers to prisoners. The earliest volunteers, Mr. Ratner said, were those who regularly handled death-penalty clients and were accustomed to representing the reviled in near-hopeless cases.

But in recent months, some of the nation's largest and most prominent firms have enlisted in the effort and devoted considerable resources to it, including Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr; Clifford Chance; Covington & Burling; Dorsey & Whitney; and Allen & Overy. . . The law firms are bearing all the expenses, he said.

The influx of defense lawyers at Guantánamo Bay also seems to have had some impact on the character of the detention facility. Some of the lawyers say that it was likely a factor in the authorities' decision to end most of the interrogations in recent months. In addition, some lawyers and human rights officials say that the lawyers' presence has reduced reports of abusive treatment by guards and interrogators that previously were the subject of complaints from the Red Cross and the F.B.I.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey C. Miller, who was the commander of the base for nearly three years, until August 2003, said during his tenure that the system was designed to make the prisoners as compliant as possible in order to make them thoroughly dependent on their interrogators. An important ingredient in accomplishing that, he and other military officials at the base said, was isolation from the outside world.

The Other Filibuster Compromise

Before good-government types go all weak in the knees about the Great Filibuster Compromise of 2005, they might do well to recall the Great Filibuster Compromise of 2004. . . Don't remember that one? That's understandable: It didn't change anything. . .

More: http://talkleft.com/new_archives/010899.html

Bush’s likely Supreme Court nominations

"This White House — I congratulate it on its ability to be secret," McGinnis said. "It's entirely possible that Rehnquist has already communicated his intention to step down and the White House has a plan absolutely set."

The White House is busy researching potential Supreme Court replacements, in anticipation of a June retirement of Chief Justice Rehnquist who suffers from thyroid cancer. Some speculate he's already made his choice. Here is the list of those believed to be in the running.

I predict it's down to three choices:
• Former Solicitor General Ted Olson
• Former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson
• 10th Circuit Judge Michael McConnell

. . . I think Bush will pick Ted Olson, the arch conservative and his lawyer in the Supreme Court in the Bush v. Gore case. Olsen has very strong ties to Richard Mellon Scaife, and is a staunch member of the New Theocracy.

If you've been wondering what Ted Olson has been up to since leaving the Solicitor General's office, he's online managing editor of Christianity Today, a magazine that is one among several funded largely by the Scaife Foundations.

The United Methodist and other mainline Protestant churches are the targets of a continuing, orchestrated attack by determined right-wing ideologues who use CIA-style propaganda methods to sow dissention and distrust, all in pursuit of a radical political agenda.

The leader of this attack is an organization called the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), a pseudo-religious think-tank that carries out the goals of its secular funders that are opposed to the churches' historic social witness. The IRD works in concert with other self-styled "renewal" groups like Good News and the Confessing Movement. IRD answers only to its own self-perpetuating board of directors, most of whom are embedded in the secular political right (Howell, 1995).

The IRD board members operate and have access to conservative publications and media such as First Things, Good News, Christianity Today, Washington Times, The Weekly Standard and Fox News....A major portion of IRD's funding, from its inception, has come from right-wing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife.

[NB: And, of course, Olson was a key player in the Scaife-funded assault on Bill Clinton:

All good deeds get rewarded eventually, eh?]

Inside the Hastert machine

It is not difficult for a speaker of the House, of any party, to raise money, and Hastert's main campaign funds have taken in about $17.9 million since his elevation in 1999, slightly more than DeLay over the same period. . . But because the speaker also is in a relatively safe seat, he gives much of the money that he raises to other Republican candidates or the national party campaign committees.

As chief of staff to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Palmer runs a congressional office that has been able to do just that for Aurora, the birthplace of his boss and the largest city in his boss's home district. . . Hastert has earmarked $24 million in grants for Aurora-based nonprofit groups since becoming speaker in 1999, using an obscure section of the big federal spending bills passed each year.

Our terrorist


The stem-cell debate: could still cause big problems for the GOP, not just for the unpopularity of their stance, but for what it shows about how much they are in the pockets of the Religious Right




Arlen Specter on the stem cell issue and "life"

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), who looks like hell (no hair, sunken cheeks, raspy voice) is letting conservative Senator Sam Brownback really have it. Specter is "going personal" talking about his Hodgkins Lymphoma and how if the war on cancer had gotten the funding it needed and deserved he might not have cancer today. . . Brownback then says:

BROWNBACK: George [Stephanopoulos] and Arlen, when did each of your lives begin? When did your life biologically start? And we shouldn't be researching on that life at any time during its continuum unless we have your consent. When did your life start?

SPECTER: Well Sam, I'm a lot more concerned at this point about when my life is gonna end.

Sen. Arlen Specter said Sunday he believes the Senate has enough votes to override a threatened presidential veto of legislation easing restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Fellow Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, however, vowed to keep the bill from reaching the Senate floor. Both appeared on ABC's "This Week."

"I've been taught a lot of lessons from the Democrats lately, so I've got some ideas on how one can get this done," Brownback said. "And I think it's important that we move forward.". . .

[NB: Of course, this is a meaning of the word “forward” that defies common sense]

The larger political implications of Coin-gate: will it cost GOP control of Ohio? A setback for the Christian Restoration project?




The mega-church phenomenon


Bonus item: product placement in political ads (thanks to Atrios for the link)

Holy crap. This really brings us into new territory.


***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Sunday, May 29, 2005


How Bush policies have made the problem of international terror worse (must-read)

The Bush administration has launched a high-level internal review of its efforts to battle international terrorism, aimed at moving away from a policy that has stressed efforts to capture and kill al Qaeda leaders since Sept. 11, 2001, and toward what a senior official called a broader "strategy against violent extremism."

The shift is meant to recognize the transformation of al Qaeda over the past three years into a far more amorphous, diffuse and difficult-to-target organization than the group that struck the United States in 2001. But critics say the policy review comes only after months of delay and lost opportunities while the administration left key counterterrorism jobs unfilled and argued internally over how best to confront the rapid spread of the pro-al Qaeda global Islamic jihad. . .

In many ways, this is the culmination of a heated debate that has been taking place inside and outside the government about how to target not only the remnants of al Qaeda but also broader support in the Muslim world for radical Islam. Administration officials refused to describe in detail what new policies are under consideration, and several sources familiar with the discussions said some issues remain sticking points, such as how central the ongoing war in Iraq is to the anti-terrorist effort, and how to accommodate State Department desires to normalize a foreign policy that has stressed terrorism to the exclusion of other priorities in recent years.

"There's been a perception, a sense of drift in overall terrorism policy. People have not figured out what we do next, so we just continue to pick 'em off one at a time," said Roger W. Cressey, who served as a counterterrorism official at the National Security Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. "We haven't gone to a new level to figure out how things have changed since 9/11.". . .

Much of the discussion has focused on how to deal with the rise of a new generation of terrorists, schooled in Iraq over the past couple years. Top government officials are increasingly turning their attention to anticipate what one called "the bleed out" of hundreds or thousands of Iraq-trained jihadists back to their home countries throughout the Middle East and Western Europe. "It's a new piece of a new equation," a former senior Bush administration official said. "If you don't know who they are in Iraq, how are you going to locate them in Istanbul or London?"

More: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_05_29.php#005753

Homeland Security failures: a debacle of mismanagement and pork barrel spending, and now this


Do you feel safer knowing that Homeland Security Agents, entrusted with securing our borders, are spending their time investigating and drafting and executing search warrants against sites that offer free downloads of the new Star War movies?

More: http://www.balloon-juice.com/archives/005262.html

The intelligence failure failure

Almost across the board in this administration, the people responsible for this trail of error and/or untruth have been rewarded while those who resisted it or went along unwillingly have been marginalized, punished or fired. . . It's truly a national scandal -- but one, the surface of which has barely been scratched because the institutions with oversight responsibility have vested interest in not revealing what happened.

Over 10,000 imprisoned without charges

A year after the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal erupted, Iraqi anger has flared anew over the growing numbers of detainees held without charge at the notorious detention center and another prison in the south.

In the battle against the insurgency, U.S. military sweeps net many guerrillas, but also thousands of people whose offenses are nonexistent, minor or impossible to prove. They are often held for months, only to be released without explanation.

The population of long-term detainees at Abu Ghraib and the larger Camp Bucca, near Basra, has nearly doubled since August and now tops 10,000. With a large operation by Iraqi security forces underway in Baghdad, that number could rise.

Did the US/UK try to goad Iraq into war?

THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown. . . The new information, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, shows that the allies dropped twice as many bombs on Iraq in the second half of 2002 as they did during the whole of 2001, and that the RAF increased their attacks even more quickly than the Americans did.

The failure of the Nonproliferation Treaty talks – and guess who’s partly to blame?

Bolton is still Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control. The UN's month-long conference on Non-Proliferation, an event that takes place only once every five years, just ended in unequivocal failure. It's no wonder John Bolton did not achieve more. He did not prepare and, from what I can tell, he didn't even show up, leaving the job of chief negotiator to someone else. Bolton and his backers might argue that accomplish anything at the NPT is tough, but that's true of the UN as a whole. If Bolton didn't make it happen now -- with the eyes of the Senate on him -- what basis is there to conclude that he will later.

More: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/5/28/82656/0007v

More fights to come on documents release

This is the line the White House press office is feeding the press:

"John Bolton enjoys majority [Senate] support, and it's a shame that Democrats are stopping a vote," said Erin Healy, a White House spokeswoman. "This is about partisan politics, not documents."

By the time opponents are done, I think that the chorus of Republican opposition will increase against Bolton and the White House is losing ground -- incremental as it may be -- at every single step in the Bolton process. In the end, I think he can be beaten on a floor vote -- but not yet.

The White House was stunned by the action on Thursday night, again completely caught off guard as its legislative team has been at most stages of the Bolton Battle.

Bolton's nomination is dead if the administration does not concede on the documents. The only other option is a recess appointment, which is the President's right, but even the veneer of respectability for Bolton will not be possible then if he takes the Ambassadorship.



McCain tries to mediate

One of John R. Bolton's leading Republican backers, Senator John McCain of Arizona, signaled his support on Friday for a compromise in which the White House might allow Senate leaders access to highly classified documents in return for a final vote early next month on Mr. Bolton's nomination as United Nations ambassador.

The conciliatory signal from Mr. McCain came as Senate leaders traded blame over who was responsible for the miscalculation that led to Mr. Bolton's nomination being blocked Thursday. But the White House showed no sign that the Bush administration might change course.

. . . Senators calling on the administration to share the documents "have some substance to their argument," Mr. McCain said.

More: http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/000674.html

What is the White House hiding? That is the question EVERY self respecting reporter in Washington should be asking themselves right now. Let's see if ANYBODY asks that question tomorrow morning on the Sunday shows.

Behind the scenes of the filibuster deal: fascinating


Aftermath: the Christian right swears vengeance against McCain (this almost makes me hope he DOES get the 2008 GOP nomination)


One more time please: Lindsay Beyerstein explains why the “constitutional option” isn’t constitutional, and why it is a violation of the Senate’s own rules. If it should pass, will the whole case end up in the Supreme Court again – THIS Supreme Court?


The moral confusion of “snowflake babies” (adopted and implanted embryos) – thanks to Susan Madrak for the link


This is pretty ironic: Miami-Dade now considers buying NEW voting machines, after the paperless debacle of 2004 (don’t say we didn’t tell you so)

Paper ballots that can be counted by an optical scanner are easy to use and they leave a verifiable paper trail that enhances voter confidence in the legitimacy of an election result. Miami-Dade County will become the first venue to replace controversial touch-screen machines with optical scanners if the county's election supervisor gets his way. . . The county paid $24.5 million for the touch-screen machines, and would need to spend another ten or twelve million to replace them.

Sunday talk show lineup

Face the Nation: Gen Myers; Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va (The War In Iraq, Memorial Day, Steroids In Sports)

The McLaughlin Group: Issue #1) Filibuster #2) Stem Cells #3) Scopes Monkey Trial reincarnate #4) Predictions

Late Edition: John McCain; Dr Abdulla, Afghanistan foreign affairs minister; Gen Abizaid

This Weak: Mahmoud Abbas; Arlen Specter vs Sam Brownback (Stem-cells); Indy driver Danica Patrick

Foxx Propaganda: Gen Myers; Chris Dodd

Meet the Corporate Press: Sam Nunn, Dick Lugar, Tom Kean, Lee Hamilton & Fred Thompson (panel on nuclear terror)

Bonus item: On “right-wing postmodernism”


***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Saturday, May 28, 2005


It’s a good joke, so why not repeat it?

Groundhog Day In Iraq
[AP] More than 1,000 Marines, sailors and soldiers are taking part in a counterinsurgency operation in Haditha, a Sunni-dominated trouble spot 140 miles north of Baghdad, the military said Friday. Two Marines have been killed in the operation, which began Wednesday. . . U.S. forces returned to Haditha less than two months after they thought they cleaned up the Euphrates River town.

Groundhog Day in Haditha
Same as it ever was, isn't it? Just like the six-day occupation of Hit at the beginning of March, and Operation Matador just a couple of weeks ago. What a waste of lives.

[NB: Just Google "Groundhog Day" Iraq, and you will see the sad, pathetic pattern]

Why isn’t the fact that (a) Newsweek was right about the basic fact of Koran desecration and (b) Scott McClellan, Larry DiRita and others flatly lied about the lack of credible claims of desecration as big a national story as the attacks on Newsweek were?


Remember, the McClellan/DiRita attacks on Newsweek weren't simply about getting a few facts wrong or weakly sourcing a story. Their claim was that the charges were outrageous, damaging and false, when in fact it turns out they were outrageous, damaging and quite likely true. And even more damaging for the US after McClellan and DiRita spent a couple weeks heaping attention on them.

The result of the White House and DiRita's jihad against Newsweek has only been to encourage a whole new round of international outrage and embarrassment about abuses we have to hope are now being addressed. And all, obviously, to score points in the media wars at home -- which the Bush administration so often seems to consider the true central front in the war on terror.

No matter what you think about Newsweek, and no matter whether you think abusing a Koran is a serious problem or not, one thing is clear: DiRita was lying. We know for a fact that both the FBI and the Red Cross told the Pentagon about credible allegations months ago, and the Pentagon itself now admits that at least five of the allegations are substantially true.

When DiRita answered that question last week he knew perfectly well that credible allegations had been made on multiple occasions. What's more, only a child would believe that he didn't already know that some of them had been verified. But it wasn't convenient to say so at the time because the Bush administration was busy whipping up a firestorm of manufactured outrage against Newsweek. Now it's come back to haunt them.

Whatever else happens, DeRita flatly lied to the press. He should be fired.

More: http://talkleft.com/new_archives/010874.html

Now who do they blame?

Now that Newsweek's Koran abuse story has been corroborated by the Red Cross, the FBI, and the Pentagon Muslims all over the world are taking to the streets.

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/28/international/asia/28koran.html

More Abu Ghraib photos, disclosures ahead


The case for a war crimes investigation (thanks to Ann Lopez for the link)


This is why the blogosphere is so great: thousands of people poring over documents and reports, taking the time to read arcane things that no one else has the time to, then dispersing what they find through networks of exchange. Check this out!

From the newest crop of documents the Defense Department has turned over to the ACLU and made available on their website is this e-mail, spotted by this astute Democatic Underground reader:


E-mail (from CTD employee to Frankie Battle). . .

Same document as Detainee-2797 with the following unredacted: "Of concern, DOD interrogators impersonating Supervisory Special Agents of the FBI told a detainee that the FBI…" and "These tactics have produced no intelligence of a threat neutralization nature to date and CITF believes that techniques have destroyed any chance of prosecuting this detainee." and "If this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, DOD interrogators will not be held accountable because these torture techniques were done (by) the "FBI" interrogators. The FBI will (be) left holding the bag before the public."

Arms for dictators: it’s a democratizing influence, don’t you know

The New York Times reports on a study by the World Policy Institute that revealed “[t]he sale of military weapons to other countries, including many that were once barred from making such purchases, has increased sharply since the attacks on Sept. 11.” In order to improve its relationship with new allies, the United States has sold weapons to countries that in the past could not receive American products because of their poor human rights records. In 2003, more than half of the top 25 recipients of weapons sales were countries the State Department has defined as undemocratic. In his remarks at his swearing-in, new U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman said trade can “deepen the roots of democracy.” Unfortunately, as the Bush administration’s actions are showing, trade can also deepen the roots of undemocratic regimes.

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/27/business/27arms.html

Sources of exaggerated Iraq intelligence have been rewarded, not punished. And why shouldn’t they? IT WAS WHAT BUSH CO. WANTED


Could the U.S. be planning for the tactical use of nuclear weapons, not just in hypothetical war plans, but in setting a new precedent? What happens once we cross that line? This is a highly speculative story, but the very fact that it’s so plausible is pretty frightening

CONPLAN 8022 is a series of operational plans prepared by Startcom, the U.S. Army's Strategic Command, which calls for preemptive nuclear strikes against Iran and North Korea. One of the plan's major components is the use of nuclear weapons to destroy the underground facilities where North Korea and Iran are developing their nuclear weapons. The standard ordnance deployed by the Americans is not capable of destroying these facilities. . .

Why the filibuster deal will eventually fall apart



More: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/27/politics/27cong.html

Mark Kleiman, as usual, puts his finger on a key question, also discussed here: Does the compromise agreement confirm the constitutionality of the judicial filibuster or not? It seems to me that in clear language it does, but the Republican signatories to it are now claiming that it doesn’t. This is too crucial an issue to leave up to matters of interpretation


Will the WH budge on giving the Senate additional Bolton materials?


DeLay’s troubles continue, and his “what me worry?” attitude is becoming almost humorous

A state judge ruled Thursday that the treasurer of a political fundraising committee organized by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) violated the state's election law. . . DeLay, asked by a reporter for CNN if the ruling had implications for him, responded: "Not for me. I'm not part of it."

Whoa. LA Times calls for Frist’s resignation (a good idea, as far as I’m concerned, but unexpected from a major newspaper)

It has been a particularly bad week for Frist. It started when he was outmaneuvered by Senate moderates in his effort to ram through the "nuclear option" and ban judicial filibusters. As this page has noted, Frist was right to try to get rid of the filibuster. But the defection of seven members of his own party, who joined with seven Democrats to reach a compromise on judicial nominations and leave the filibuster intact, didn't reflect well on his leadership skills.

That battle lost, Frist moved on to another defeat, on a bill that would ease restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. The bill passed in the House on Tuesday and seems to have a veto-proof majority in the Senate. But Frist is not part of it; he seems to have put his medical knowledge into something like a cryogenic chamber as he ponders whether he's presidential material. And then on Thursday, Frist stood by as Democrats forced a delay in the confirmation of John Bolton, the president's combative nominee for U.N. ambassador.

Frist may be bringing trouble on himself by trying to satisfy the exorbitant demands of his party's far-right wing, which, like the old Soviet Union, views one concession simply as an occasion to ask for another. Before Frist truckles any further to the conservative base, he would do well to remember that the Hippocratic oath should apply to the Senate as well: First do no harm.

A recap of the Ohio coin fund scandal, for those with no time to read

Republican fundraiser was rewarded for his largess to Ohio Republicans with $50 million in state funds to invest in rare coins. $10 million of those funds, used to pay off worker comp claims, is missing. The investigation is looking into whether at least some of that missing money ended up back in GOP campaign coffers.

More: http://nytimes.com/2005/05/28/national/28coins.html

Matt Yglesias offers a neoliberal defense of NCLB (which I personally find absurd)

[T]he law has at its core a very laudable liberal goal: Forcing school administrators to get serious about educating black kids, Hispanic kids, poor kids, and generally speaking, those groups of students who tend not to do so well under the status quo. As the article shows, that wasn't just one of the main intentions of the law -- it's actually working. Schools across the country are scrambling to try and find ways to cope with a difficult problem that nobody really knows for sure how to solve, and that most folks charged with running schools would, if left to their own devices, just as soon ignore. . . Now it's pretty clear to me that, as critics like to point out, we haven't really put all the tools (financial and otherwise) that schools are going to need to meet this challenge at the disposal of the schools.

[NB: Three points, of the many questionable claims here: (1) it’s not “actually working” if educators required to educate kids from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t have the means or resources to do so; (2) the notion that educators didn’t care or worry about these kids until George Bush’s law forced them to, is insulting and absurd; (3) a law that requires schools to reach certain goals AND that refuses to give them the means and resources to do so isn’t about reform, it’s about locking schools into a trap in which they must fail – THAT’S the core purpose behind NCLB]

Renewal of the Higher Education Act, and the ugly secrets buried inside it (with more to come, no doubt)

[NYT] As the Senate moves to complete the spending bill for the Higher Education Act next month, a growing number of organizations concerned about privacy rights are fighting a Department of Education plan that would require colleges and universities to place personal information on individual students into a national database maintained by the government. . .

Interesting article: why the language of “underrepresented minorities” doesn’t really describe the status of Asian Americans (thanks to Jack Peng for the link)


Class warfare

Don’t miss Nathan Newman’s brief analysis of a federal judge’s decision to allow an anti-trust lawsuit to proceed against the three major grocery chains that colluded with each other to break last year’s United Commercial and Food Workers (UCFW) union strike in Southern California. The preemptive move by the grocers to establish a revenue-sharing deal that would prevent any one chain from profiting off of the others’ losses incurred by the UCFW’s actions was an effective and rather remarkable display of clear-eyed class solidarity on their part.

The full story: http://www.nathannewman.org/laborblog/archive/002986.shtml

“New Testament” tank photo finally removed from DoD website – but check out why

[W]e broke the story on the tank here last Sunday. . . the Washington Times reported on it this morning, which I'm sure is why the DOD finally freaked out.

The “liberal media”

[Eric Alterman] It’s odd that of most prominent liberals writing in the nation’s newspapers and opinion magazines – E.J. Dionne, Robert Kuttner, Paul Krugman, Hendrik Hertzberg, Molly Ivins – not one has ever been given a regular slot on television, like say, Bob Novak, Fred Barnes, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Tony Blankley, Pat Buchanan, Bill O’Reilly or Brit Hume. Even PBS of late is populated by more journalists of the extreme right than of the moderate left. Indeed, one is hard pressed to come up with a single journalist or pundit appearing on television who is even remotely as far to the left of the mainstream spectrum as most of these conservatives are to the right.

The rising influence of Wesley Clark in the Democratic Party, and what it might mean


Clinton/Clark 2008?


Final report on the theft of the 2004 election in Ohio (you think I’m exaggerating?)


Bonus item: A social network analysis of left, right blog communities


***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Friday, May 27, 2005


The wider costs and consequences of the Iraq war

''Army recruiting is in a death spiral, through no fault of the Army,'' Krohn told me. Always defending uniformed personnel, he resents hard-pressed recruiters being attacked for offering unauthorized benefits to make quotas. In a recent e-mail sent to friends (mostly retired military), Krohn complained that the ''Army is having to compensate for a problem of national scope.''

The Army's dilemma is maintaining an all-volunteer service when volunteering means going in harm's way in Iraq. The dilemma extends to national policy. How can the United States maintain its global credibility against the Islamists, if military ranks cannot be filled by volunteers and there is no public will for a draft?. . .

The blame lies directly on Bush and Rumsfeld. They picked this war and they will have to deal with the consequences of it. Which is basically the end of American imperial power.

But the problem is that this isn't defending the country. It's a colonial war. And no one is running to fight that war.

[Bob Herbert] People have been murdered, tortured, rendered to foreign countries to be tortured at a distance, sexually violated, imprisoned without trial or in some cases simply made to "disappear" in an all-American version of a practice previously associated with brutal Latin American dictatorships. All of this has been done, of course, in the name of freedom.

Bush and the GOP provide that vision: the terrorists are evil; democracies are good; America will defeat evil and support and spread good. It's simple, but extraordinarily compelling, especially to pro-Israel voters. Strategically, the Democratic answer to Bush's idealism can't be realpolitik (after all, these voters know that interests can change more easily than beliefs). Ideologically, it's not the answer either. Democrats have fought for generations to bring values into the practice of foreign policy, from Wilson trying to make the world safe for democracy to Truman's stand against Soviet expansion and Clinton's launching an air war to stop a genocide in the Balkans--and shouldn't allow Republicans to take that mantle. Democrats need to remember that for decades they have been able to speak to Americans' deep sense that we are a unique "city on a hill" and a "light unto the nations." Democrats must reclaim that heritage and make the case that Republicans have undermined America's moral standing (and, by extension, our security) both in the world and at home.

Oh, hell

Iraq's insurgents, described earlier this year by U.S. officials as a dwindling force, have resisted military efforts to halt their attacks and have an apparent new bombing strategy to inflict headline-grabbing casualties, according to diplomatic and academic experts.

The specialists, including one with extensive experience in Iraq, suggested that Washington misinterpreted a lull in attacks after January's national elections as a sign that the Iraqi insurgency was dying out or relaxing its effort to force a foreign military retreat.

Instead, the experts said, the insurgents have shown patience as they regrouped, devised new strategies and repeatedly demonstrated an ability to thwart U.S.-led efforts to stabilize Iraq. The persistent campaign of attacks has demoralized the population while proving the insurgents can withstand repeated military offensives designed to defang them.


Toby Dodge, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the insurgents have exposed how vulnerable Iraqi police and army troops would be if U.S.-led multinational forces withdrew. As a result, U.S. and British troops, who form the largest foreign contingents, should expect to remain in Iraq indefinitely.

"I don't think we have a viable exit strategy," Dodge said. . .

And the new offensive in Baghdad, let me predict: a fiasco, if they think this way

The government announced Thursday that a security cordon of 40,000 Iraqi soldiers and police will ring Baghdad starting next week to try to halt a spree of insurgent violence that has killed more than 620 people this month. . . "Next week, we will have a strong and safe cordon around Baghdad like a bracelet that surrounds the hand. We will not allow anyone to cross this cordon," al-Duleimi said.

Poor Newsweek. Pentagon: well, yes, interrogators did “mishandle” the Koran, but it wasn’t intentional – well, yes it was sometimes intentional, but it didn’t involve any “flushing” – well, yes. . .



Of the 13 alleged incidents, five were substantiated, he said. Four were by guards and one was by an interrogator. . . "None of these five incidents was a result of a failure to follow standard operating procedures in place at the time the incident occurred," Hood said.

Of course, the Pentagon makes a big deal that a prisoner (still incarcerated) who made the original toilet accusation has recanted – but it’s pretty obvious what such a recantation really means (it’s not even worth the “paper” it’s written on)


Were the “Koran riots” staged?


The ACLU starts to crack the façade of Defense Dept cover-ups


American torture: an interactive primer (well done)


More proof that the media hates the military (I suppose)


Dems block Bolton. This isn’t just about his crappy nomination any more. It’s about the refusal of the WH to provide documentation that even the Republican chair of the committee requested (and then buttressed by requests from Frist himself yesterday), to no avail. Maybe, just maybe, they won’t be allowed to stonewall and bully this time



"Just 72 hours after all the good will and bipartisanship, it's disappointing to see the Democratic leadership resort back to such a partisan approach," said Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman. Asked about the Democratic demands for additional documents, Mr. McClellan said, "They have all the information they need."

[NB: Boo, effin-hoo, Mr. McC. Things are changing on Capitol hill, and you’re going to have to adjust to it. You don't get to decide unilaterally what they need or not. I don’t think the Dems are going to let this vote go through until you fork over those documents. They’re crazy if they do.]

The reaction on Fox news (thanks to Atrios for the link)

York said that when "Voinovich turned on us" the issue then became "a fight between the executive & legislative branch." Hume asked if the State Dept & the NSA will continue to "hold out" on the docs, & York gave a qualified "yes" response.

[“Us” again!!?!!]

On the vote

Defectors were Landrieu, Ben Nelson, and Mark Pryor.

[NB: I watched the vote, and Steve Clemons must understand how this goes down. All three of them waited until the last minutes to vote – once they saw that the Dems had their 41 votes, they were freed up to vote for cloture. I suspect that Reid could have had any or all of them if he’d needed them. My take is that as this morphs from a “block Bolton” vote to a “WH stonewalling and obstruction vote,” Reid may be able to gain support. Either way, this is the fight ahead, I think]

A similar fight brewing over the release of base-closing documents. We may have a meme developing here


As noted earlier, one of the key parts of the filibuster agreement in the Senate was a call to the WH for greater consultation and a return to a true “advise and consent” role for the Senate. The problem is, all this WH wants is “consent” (with their agenda)

In response, White House press secretary Scott McClellan has twice signaled during his daily meetings with the press that Bush has no intention of changing the process by which he submits judicial nominations to the Senate. . .

Yep, this just about sums it all up

President Bush's drive for absolute power has momentarily stalled. In a single coup, he planned to take over all the institutions of government. By crushing the traditions of the Senate he would pack the courts, especially the supreme court, with lockstep ideologues. Sheer force would prevail. But just as his blitzkrieg reached the outskirts of his objective, he was struck by a mutiny. Within the span of 24 hours he lost control not only of the Senate but temporarily of the House of Representatives, which was supposed to be regimented by unquestioned loyalty. Now he prepares to launch a counterattack - against the dissident elements of his own party.

There's much to chew over in Jim VandeHei's analysis of the various long-term institutional transformations the Republicans have wrought while in power, changes whose "common theme is to consolidate influence in a small circle of Republicans and to marginalize dissenting voices that would try to impede a conservative agenda."

Call me shrill, ideological, or whatever you like, but I think we’re losing our Constitution, our civil liberties, and in many significant respects, our country. When future historians look back on this period, they will wonder, most of all, I think, how we let it go without a fight.

I write about it now because of the new reports and because I fear that too many people in traditional journalism are becoming dangerously defensive in the face of a brilliantly conceived conservative attack on the independent media. . .

Today's conservative activists. . . shift attention away from the truth or falsity of specific facts and allegations -- and move the discussion to the motives of the journalists and media organizations putting them forward. Just a modest number of failures can be used to discredit an entire enterprise.

Of course journalists make mistakes, sometimes stupid ones. . . But this particular anti-press campaign is not about Journalism 101. It is about Power 101. It is a sophisticated effort to demolish the idea of a press independent of political parties by way of discouraging scrutiny of conservative politicians in power.

Bush’s “moral clarity” is a euphemism for the fact that he can only memorize one-line analyses of complex issues, repeat them endlessly, and can’t afford to consider more than one side of any issue. Exhibit A:


It ain’t working


It ain’t working at all

Four months into his second term, President Bush is increasingly viewed as being out of touch with the American people, according to a CBS News poll. . . Six in ten Americans say the president does not share their priorities, while just 34 percent say he does - the lowest numbers for Mr. Bush since the eve of his first inauguration.

Not at all. . .

Q There are news reports this morning that parents and children who were guests of the President, when they visited Congress, wore stickers with the wording, "I was an embryo." And my question is, since all of us were once embryos, and all of us were once part sperm and egg, is the President also opposed to contraception, which stops this union and kills both sperm and egg?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has made his views known on these issues, and his views known --

Q You know, but what I asked, is he opposed -- he's not opposed to contraception, is he?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, and you've made your views known, as well. The President --

Q No, no, but is he opposed to contraception, Scott? Could you just tell us yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think that this question is --

Q Well, is he? Does he oppose contraception?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think the President's views are very clear when it comes to building a culture of life --

Q If they were clear, I wouldn't have asked.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and if you want to ask those questions, that's fine. I'm just not going to dignify them with a response.

Tom DeLay offers his own typical careful, sensitive analysis of the stem cell dispute

Supporters of liberalizing President Bush's restrictive approach to funding stem cell research, he said, were voting "to fund with taxpayer dollars the dismemberment of living, distinct human beings for the purposes of medical experimentation." Mr. DeLay called embryonic stem cell research, which may promise lifesaving treatments for various devastating conditions, a "scientific exploration into the potential benefits of killing human beings." Reasonable people can disagree regarding the morality of embryonic stem cell research, which we support. But if Mr. DeLay believes his irresponsible rhetoric, he should not stop at opposing more permissive rules for federal funding of such science. Instead he should introduce legislation to ban the in vitro fertilization treatments that create these embryos in the first place. . . The "murder is okay but federally funded murder is not" view is the mainstream position in the Republican Party, adhered to by the president of the United States and many of our nation's leading organs of conservative opinion.

Rick Santorum, prince of fake piety, took campaign money from such “baby killers”

Senator Rick Santorum this week re-emphasized his opposition to stem cell research, stating that he was “disheartened” to learn that the House of Representatives voted to expand stem cell research and that he does “not support taxpayer funding for scientific research that involves the destruction of human embryos.” Yet Santorum had no problem accepting $55,500 in campaign contributions from companies that conduct stem cell research.

The Wall Street Journal pretends it doesn’t understand what all the argument is about


Back in Texas, DeLay soon will face the music


An Austin judge ruled Thursday that the treasurer of a political committee formed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay violated state election law. . . State District Judge Joe Hart says Bill Ceverha broke the law by not reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and expenditures. . .

The civil case is separate form a separate criminal investigation into 2002 election spending being conducted by a Travis County grand jury. . . Ceverha was the only defendant left in the civil suit because Ellis and Colyandro were under criminal investigation and removed from the defendant list. Ceverha was much, much less involved than either of them.

More: http://atrios.blogspot.com/2005_05_22_atrios_archive.html#111712103307232586




Dum, da dum-dum

A majority of House Republicans surveyed in a National Journal poll said they would not want House Majority Leader DeLay (R-TX) to campaign for them in next year's elections.

In Ohio: $10-12 million missing from coin fund

The state of Ohio has announced it is immediately pursuing additional civil and criminal measures against Tom Noe after his legal counsel informed the state that a substantial amount of assets from the Capital Coin Funds are missing.

[NB: You can go after Noe now, but soon enough the question will become, “who made the decision to put state funds in his hands?”]

Ah-nuld’s welcome wearing thin


Someone will write a history of when the Bush momentum started to disappear – and his stubborn and ill-conceived approach to Social Security will be a prime candidate

There's an article in The Hill today that you should read. It's about a talk Bob Rubin, Clinton's Treasury Secretary, gave to the House Democratic caucus yesterday. The headline topic was Social Security. And his message was unequivocal: Democrats would be fools to fall into the trap of putting forward their own concrete plan on Social Security under current circumstances. . .

In such a setting, any process of negotiation would inevitably lead to a bad result (both politically and substantively) because Republicans exert so much control over the process of negotiation itself. And that would be so because the current Republican party is against Social Security itself. And no negotiation or process of compromise controlled by such a party could, by definition I think, yield a result which was favorable to Social Security. . . That has to be the case as long as Republicans are still sticking to their principles of private accounts and sharp benefit cuts for the middle class. And those are their principles -- quite explicitly, in fact

Add to this the fact that the president is clocking in at under 30% support on Social Security and most Americans now understand that he wants to dismantle the program and the whole thing really becomes a no-brainer.

In fact, Dems should really start making the point now that they are the ones who stopped President Bush from phasing out Social Security this year. . . Be loud, be proud.

Look out! It’s a trap!

For the first time, a majority of Americans say they are likely to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton if she runs for president in 2008

The dilemmas of liberal hawks


The future of oil production (scary)


Bonus item: Kraft Foods does a good thing

"The true test of any commitment is how you respond when challenged. Kraft is experiencing this to a degree right now, as a result of our decision to be one of several contributors to the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago. The games will bring together thousands of athletes in a competition that will take place in our corporate hometown....

"It can be difficult when we are criticized. It's easy to say you support a concept or a principle when nobody objects. The real test of commitment is how one reacts when there are those who disagree. I hope you share my view that our company has taken the right stand on diversity, including its contribution to the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago."

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Why does the FBI hate America? If this leads to more riots in Muslim countries, will they be condemned by the WH and the right-wing media hit squad, as Newsweek was?

Detainees at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, alleged in 2002 that guards mistreated the Quran, according to some of the hundreds of FBI documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union.

More: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/5/25/174341/318

And let me remind you what serial liar Larry Di Rita said just a few days ago

MR. DI RITA: No, no, no, let me finish. Those types of allegations have not previously been -- there's -- we've not previously included that in any kind of previous investigations into detainee operations, because there haven't been credible allegations to that effect.

Wonderful. Amnesty International rates U.S. as one of the worst human rights violators (joining the Sudan and Zimbabwe in the international pantheon)




• Scott McClellan
"The [Koran flushing]allegations are ridiculous and unsupported by the facts. The United States is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity."

• Amnesty International
Despite the US administration’s repeated use of the language of justice and freedom there was a huge gap between rhetoric and reality. This was starkly illustrated by the failure to conduct a full and independent investigation into the appalling torture and ill-treatment of detainees by US soldiers in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and the failure to hold senior individuals to account.

[NB: And follow the link in that story to Camp Cropper: a story I have been harping about for a year, possibly worse than Abu Ghraib, and still virtually unexplored by the main media:

Building democracy abroad, destroying democracy at home

Bush created a top-down system in the White House much like the one his colleagues have in Congress. He has constructed what many scholars said amounts to a virtual oligarchy with Cheney, Karl Rove, Andrew H. Card Jr., Joshua Bolton, himself and only a few others setting policy, while he looks to Congress and the agencies mostly to promote and institute his policies.

Justice Dept turning into Torture Rationale Central


Washington Post says Rummy gave orders to shoot down the wandering plane. NY Times says the Pentagon is denying that. Who do you believe? (And is this being spun as another “unnamed sources” story?)



So. . . the "two senior federal officials" who told the Post that Rumsfeld wanted to waste the errant pilot and the "senior federal law enforcement official" who corroborated their account are all liars?

WH, in their awe-inspiring efforts to make historical facts up out of whole cloth, now claims we were INVITED into Afghanistan and Iraq

[Helen Thomas] Q The other day -- in fact, this week, you said that we, the United States, is in Afghanistan and Iraq by invitation. Would you like to correct that incredible distortion of American history –

Traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury is accounting for an alarming percentage of American casualties in Iraq. According to a recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, up to 60 percent of wounded American soldiers have sustained brain damage. . .

Dems vow to delay Bolton vote as NSA damage starts to leak out


On one front, the White House has defied Senate Foreign Relations Committee CHAIRMAN Richard Lugar -- a Republican and supporter of Bolton -- on his request for the NSA intercepts.

On another, John Negroponte flipped off Senator Biden by stating that to get information on the NSA intercepts, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would have to grovel before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for further information.

On yet another front, Senator Pat Roberts prevented Senators Lugar and Biden from attending the NSA intercepts briefing two and a half weeks ago given by Deputy Director of National Intelligence Michael Hayden.

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said today that John R. Bolton might have mishandled classified information by sharing with another State Department official details about a communication intercepted by the National Security Agency.

Senator George Voinovich has made the enticing offer to his Senate colleagues that he will share with them "what he knows" about why Bolton was nominated to the U.N. Ambassadorship position but is unwilling to state publicly on the floor. . . He has invited his colleagues to ask him what he knows in private.

Biden’s brief against Bolton: http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/000661.html

Rockefeller’s statement: http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/000660.html

More: http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/002080.html



I don’t get this. Several GOP signatories are now saying that the agreement doesn’t explicitly affirm that judicial filibusters are constitutional, and they retain the option of voting at some future time to ban them. This is nonsense. The agreement says that such filibusters should only be used in extraordinary cases – but this means that they CAN be used in extraordinary cases. The fact that there might be disagreement down the road about whether cases are extraordinary enough to merit filibusters is not a reason to rule such filibusters unconstitutional. The fact is, these guys signed an agreement explicitly saying that judicial filibusters ARE permissible. What part of the English language needs to be explained to them?

The central problem with the Senate filibuster deal is, of course, the absence in the text of an explicit disavowal of the nuclear option and an explicit acknowledgment that judicial filibusters are constitutional. As Kagro X discusses in a very valuable analysis, signatories Lindsey Graham and Mike DeWine have made it clear that they do not, in fact, believe either that the nuclear option is fundamentally illegitimate or that judicial filibusters are fundamentally legitimate. What is more, Graham and DeWine don’t appear to be the only Republican signatories sharing this opinion. As subscription-only Roll Call reports today, John Warner’s another one. . .

Why Bush’s Social Security “plan” is proving to be an even bigger fiasco than the Clinton health care proposal


Special Counsel refuses to enforce Bush’s own Executive Order against gay discrimination in federal workplaces



From 2001-2003, Mr. Bloch served as Associate Director and then Deputy Director and Counsel to the Task Force for Faith-based and Community Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Justice

Coin-gate now spreads into Ohio governor’s office – and check out the latest revelation


The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, which gave $55.4 million to an Ohio coin dealer to invest, said it was surprised that an inventory of assets is turning up more than rare coins. . . "We had not heard about being involved in any collectibles. Our expectation was that we have investments only in coins," spokesman Jeremy Jackson said.

The new “adopt an embryo” program – they haven’t quite worked out the nuances of this policy (probably because it makes NO SENSE)


Asked about the possible veto of the House passed bill yesterday, Scott said that the President said he would veto the bill for reasons he stated in his East Room Speech on Tuesday. Twice he referred to embryos as "children as embryos". Scott was questioned about how the four to five hundred thousand embryos in storage were all going to be adopted and he went back to what the President stated yesterday. Scott was asked about the President's remarks that there is no such thing as a "spare embryo" and was asked about lost embryos in the artificial insemination process. He said that he would, “come back to that later."

Will Bush’s stem cell opposition lead to trouble?


[NB: I’d like to post a longer piece on this later, but an emerging theme for 2006 and beyond, if the Dems can frame it right, is whether the public wants a Republican party utterly beholden to the religious right to be in charge. On issue after issue (Schiavo being the first big crack in the edifice), more and more people – including many Republicans and independents – are really appalled at the extremism, intolerance, and unwillingness to compromise (as they call it, the “moral clarity”) of Bush, Frist, and their fundamentalist backers. It’s job #1 of the Dems to handcuff the GOP inseparably to the Dobsons and Bauers of the world]

Terry Moran says that reporters have an “anti-military bias.” Did he WATCH any of the “embedded reporter” stories coming out of the Iraq war?


Bonus item: read it for yourself

Responding to Sen. Trent Lott's (R-MS) suggestion that Senate Republicans had the necessary votes to invoke the so-called nuclear option and that such a step was necessary, Fox News anchor David Asman asked Lott why Republican senators had compromised on the issue. Why compromise, Asman asked, "if we should have done it and if we had the votes to do it."


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