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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Plame Gossip - witness influence

Just a quickie here: Viveca Novak's husband has been appointed by President Bush to the FEC.

Does it smell in here?

Quote of the Day - Dana Rohrabacher

Dana Rohrabacher (R - Ca.) yesterday on the Situation Room.

ROHRABACHER: Well, I'll tell you something, if a nuclear weapon goes off in Washington, DC, or New York or Los Angeles, it'll burn the Constitution as it does. So I'm very happy we have a president that's going to wiretap people's communication with people overseas to make sure that they're not plotting to blow up one of our cities.

Trotting out Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani has an editorial in today's NYTimes(free, because it's Giuliani, right?) criticizing the Senate for failing to sign on to Bush's wishlist in extending all provisions of the Patriot Act. Cookie Christine also has a Giuliani sighting on Fox news defending Bush on the unconstitutional NSA spying case.

In eight paragraphs, he mentions 9-11 six times by name. He also has this falsehood, "after six weeks of intense scrutiny and debate, Congress passed the Patriot Act." Don't you remember that the final draft was given to the Congress less than 24 hours before they were to vote on it, and there were numerous admissions that Congressmen had voted on it without even completely reading it?

But that's not my point.

After years out of the public eye, making money for his consulting firm based solely on the fact that he didn't run away screaming on Sept. 11, he is once again being trotted out to remind us of that day.

We should pass the Patriot Act because only he really remembers how horrible 9-11 was. We should allow the president to violate the law because only Rudy remembers how horrible 9-11 was. We should unquestioningly allow the President to do anything he wants because only Rudy remembers how horrible 9-11 was.

Think I'm exaggerating? Rudy's closing paragraph is four words.

"How quickly we forget."

Shame on you.

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What was Plame working on?

Leslie at "In an Alternate Universe" has an amazing post positing that the outing of Plame "severely damaged a CIA operation to monitor a nuclear black market." I don't know enough to say yeah or nay, but definitely worth a read if you've got a minute.

Leave it to the experts

It's not that I don't care, but because I think it's so important, I'm going to leave the NSA story to the experts. These are the best people I've read on it so far. Josh Marshall. Laura Rozen. Jane Hamsher. Talk Left. That's a good start. If you have any additions, let me know.

Looks like Frist may go to the pokey

The insider trading looked likely to land Frist in the Pokey, but those case are notoriously hard to prosecute. But this, paying $500K from a charity he ran to "members of his political inner circle," with large unnamed donors, may be much easier to get a conviction on.

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This is real. Blood for oil. Donate Blood in New York and you get a $5 gasoline gift card.

Source: Chris Floyd via Rawstory.

Torture battle is not over

Buried in this article is this significant gem. (AFP)

Representative Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, withdrew a threat to block the measure after being given a promise that a report on the impact of the new law would be made within 180 days.

And it ended,

However, some doubts have been expressed if it will really stop detainee abuse.

"Mr. Bush had barely announced his deal with Mr. McCain before Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made it crystal clear that the administration would define torture any way it liked," said a New York Times editorial.

"Restoring the rule of law over an administration that deliberately chose lawlessness in its treatment of detainees may be an arduous process," warned a Washington Post editorial.

As Greyhair pointed out in the comments, the battle isn't over.

ALSO, on torture, have we learned nothing from Al Libi? (NYTimes)

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 - House and Senate negotiators agreed Friday to a measure that would enable the government to keep prisoners at Guantánamo Bay indefinitely on the basis of evidence obtained by coercive interrogations.

Picture of the Day

As I've said to friends dozens of times, "Nobody riots like the South Koreans." Personally, I view that political passion as a great thing although the violence isn't.

At the WTO meeting, "Witnesses said hundreds of protesters from South Korean farmers' groups, who say free trade is ruining them, broke through police lines to reach the building, although they were prevented from getting inside."

UPDATE: The Disillusioned Kid in comments pointed to this post which describes an on the spot account of the S. Korean protesters being separated out from the rest of the protesters.

McClellan junkies go forth

Check out this press briefing from yesterday. (And as per my usual convention, I'll skip McClellan unless he actually answers or says something.)

Q Is it your position that legal authority is required -

Q -- for any surveillance of U.S. citizens by the NSA?

MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. One, I'm aware of the reports that were in the papers this morning.

Q I hope so. (To which McClellan answer, "ongoing intelligence operations")

Q Right, but all I asked you was whether it's your position that it always requires a court order for surveillance of U.S. citizens.

MR. McCLELLAN: What it's getting into -- again, let me reiterate. The President is firmly committed to upholding our Constitution and protecting people's civil liberties.That is something he has always kept in mind as we have moved forward from the attacks of September 11th, to do everything within our power to prevent attacks from happening. It's very important to him. We are meeting both those priorities. Those are two important priorities. (Upholding the constitution is one of two 'priorities'?) ..........

Q The New York Times -- they sat on a very important story about possible breach of our Constitution for a full year, and they reached an agreement, I guess, with somebody in the White House. I'm wondering if you could give us a tick tock about how the White House reached --.....

Q If there is a conflict and you can't do both, when push comes to shove, the question is, which is more important: life or liberty? .....

MR. McCLELLAN: ......Some people suggest that the President is just going off and doing certain things. Well, there's congressional oversight in place, there's other oversight in place, there's our Constitution, there's the laws. And we abide by them.

I know it's old hat, but....

We've seen this before.

The NYTimes has a "News Analysis" of the expansive executive powers the administration is claiming. Yoo, Addington, Gunatanamo, torture, military tribunals, renditions, NSA spying all stem from a questionable legal finding by the White House. Basically, according to the White House, in a time of war, the president's power is unlimited. That level of unfettered power has been claimed before.

This is a little long, and it was written as an intentional parallel, but it's Saturday, so a little looser rules. (Thom Hartmann - Common Dreams - March 16, 2003)

Within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nation's now-popular leader had pushed through legislation - in the name of combating terrorism and fighting the philosophy he said spawned it - that suspended constitutional guarantees of free speech, privacy, and habeas corpus. Police could now intercept mail and wiretap phones; suspected terrorists could be imprisoned without specific charges and without access to their lawyers; police could sneak into people's homes without warrants if the cases involved terrorism.

To get his patriotic "Decree on the Protection of People and State" passed over the objections of concerned legislators and civil libertarians, he agreed to put a 4-year sunset provision on it: if the national emergency provoked by the terrorist attack was over by then, the freedoms and rights would be returned to the people, and the police agencies would be re-restrained. Legislators would later say they hadn't had time to read the bill before voting on it.

Immediately after passage of the anti-terrorism act, his federal police agencies stepped up their program of arresting suspicious persons and holding them without access to lawyers or courts. In the first year only a few hundred were interred, and those who objected were largely ignored by the mainstream press, which was afraid to offend and thus lose access to a leader with such high popularity ratings. Citizens who protested the leader in public - and there were many - quickly found themselves confronting the newly empowered police's batons, gas, and jail cells, or fenced off in protest zones safely out of earshot of the leader's public speeches.

Within the first months after that terrorist attack, at the suggestion of a political advisor, he brought a formerly obscure word into common usage. He wanted to stir a "racial pride" among his countrymen, so, instead of referring to the nation by its name, he began to refer to it as "The Homeland," a phrase publicly promoted in the introduction to a 1934 speech recorded in Leni Riefenstahl's famous propaganda movie "Triumph Of The Will." As hoped, people's hearts swelled with pride, and the beginning of an us-versus-them mentality was sewn. Our land was "the" homeland, citizens thought: all others were simply foreign lands. We are the "true people," he suggested, the only ones worthy of our nation's concern; if bombs fall on others, or human rights are violated in other nations and it makes our lives better, it's of little concern to us.

Playing on this new nationalism, and exploiting a disagreement with the French over his increasing militarism, he argued that any international body that didn't act first and foremost in the best interest of his own nation was neither relevant nor useful.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Declare victory and get out?

After the successful election in Iraq(yeah, I'd say that,) but before the parliamentary struggle over power begins in a week or two, President Bush has asked to address the nation on Sunday.

Is this the "see we were right, now we'll bring some troops home speech?"

Picture of the Day - 4

Longer term readers know I have a softspot for these "homecoming" pictures. I ran across a whole batch of them, so you'll be seeing more of them over the next few weeks.

But Bush said the military loves him.

Don't tell me you haven't thought about it.....

DENVER - The Air Force Reserve plans to discharge a lieutenant colonel accused of defacing cars that had pro-Bush bumper stickers, the military said Friday. Lt. Col. Alexis Fecteau, a pilot with 500 combat hours in the first Persian Gulf war and the Balkans, is charged with criminal mischief for allegedly using paint stripper to write a profanity about Bush in 18-inch-high letters on cars at Denver International Airport.

Wanna try to guess what he was writing? I have a hunch it wasn't "re-elect."

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Dear God,

It's me, Harry Reid. If I could just ask one tiny little thing.

Please, if you could, could you keep Howard Dean from saying anything for the next few weeks....


This blog entry is temporarily missing or unavailable as the host of this site has been completely overwhelmed by the amount of news today. So, just summaries right now.

The NYTimes story on the NSA spying on American's without warrants, solely on presidential directive is taking off. In the WaPo piece on the topic today, they suggest in several places that this is very probably illegal. The WaPo piece also mentions that the legal justification for this was crafted by current AEI employee John Yoo, the man who defined torture as "organ failure or death," argued the Geneva Conventions didn't apply in Iraq, and claimed that Bush didn't need congressional authorization to go to war.

And here's Rice's defense of the policy. Short version, it wasn't illegal because he signed an executive order saying it wasn't illegal.

The WaPo makes it official, Bush was dead wrong to claim that everybody had the same intel as he did. We all knew that, but now it's official.

On the last day before the holiday break, the Senate, in effect, refused to authorize the extension of some of the controversial elements of the Patriot Act.

E&P has a great press briefing exchange where McClellan tries to defend the fact that "we will not comment on an ongoing investigation" regarding Plame, but the president is more than happy to declare Tom Delay innocent without looking at the evidence.

Adding to the list, the Bulgarians are pulling out of Iraq, starting today.

Adam Kidan plead guilty over the Sun Cruz thing and agreed to help prosecutors with evidence against Abramoff. This article also mentions Kidan's possible role in the "mob-style" murder of Sun Cruz's previous owner.

Josh Marshall has a report of oped columnists taking payola from Abramoff to print his opinions in their names. Sorce for this case: Businessweek.

James Tobin was found guilty in the N.H. phone jamming scam.

Yesterday, Bush asked for an additional 1.5 billion to strengthen the New Orleans levees. It would've been so much easier if he had appropriated that money before the hurricane.

And by the way, has anyone else noticed that we're losing South America?

Sorry, to do it like this, I generally hate the catchall, but there is just too musch going on today.

Plame Gossip

Fitzgerald is back in DC and meeting with the Grand Jury. The previous grand jury meeting Wednesday was rescheduled so that Fitzgerald could wrap up a couple elements in the Conrad Black case, our friend Jason reports.

Fitzgerald sure seems anxious to get back to that Grand Jury.

And, Plame related, CNN issued a statement praising Bob Novak's 25 years of service, then stating that the network would not be needing Novak's further services after Dec. 31. You figure he probably heard about this before today, so maybe that's why he blew up in that speech.

Update: I just want to throw this out into the mix. I have no backing for this, I just want this speculation on the record as it were. Is it possible that Fitzgerald got the Rove-Hadley email, or an idication of it, from another source, Hadley or someone else in the chain, or from somebody's else's submitted documents? If that's so, Fitzgerald has been setting a perjury trap for Rove for a long time. No backing, just a curious question.

Update 2: Murray Waas has a piece out in the National Journal which claims that the Rove Novak call was all about the Frances Townsend appointment, and Plame just happened to come up from Novak's side. This sounds like big spin to me. Somebody on Rove's side wants this out there. "See, Karl didn't do anything, he didn't even mean to talk about Plame."

But, how does that explain away your perjury, Mr. Rove? That's a crime you know.

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The MTA strike is on.

(More later, I have to go holiday shopping where I hope to Protect the Symbols and Traditions of Christmas. See Next.)

Tracking the votes on the Mexico border fence

This story, that the house voted 260-159 to pass an amendment on the immigration bill which would construct five fences totalling 698 miles along the Mexican border, comes as no real surprise. It falls right into the Republican pitfalls I described in my "Southern Strategy" piece a couple days ago.

But, I thought I could use this piece of.... erm, legislation (House Res. 610) to highlight this great and very useful congress votes tracking tool that Duke Skorich brought to my attention a couple weeks ago.

It's the WaPo Congress Votes Database, and it offers some detail on some of the bigger and more controversial votes. You can pick out your Congressman or Senator, and view his/her voting record on the bigger votes, look at the controversial "late night votes," or the votes in the last few days. Once you get down to the bill level, you can even check the votes by astrological sign! (and, of course, it does the same for the senate.)

I don't know if you've ever tried to get this kind of information from the official House or Senate sites, but it is quite difficult. So, if your a hardcore junkie, like me, I would add this to your bookmarks/favorites list, you never know when it could come in handy.

Three quick notes on this specific vote:

1) From the descriptions of what is being proposed, two reinforced barriers separated by some distance(a road?) with cameras, lighting and sensors, this is about as much of a fence as the Israeli "fence." Mr. Bush, tear down this wall.

2) It was proposed by Duncan Hunter, who also now stands as the main opposition to the McCain torture amendments.

3) And, of course, my pro-torture, cut food stamps congressman, the questionably honorable John Culberson voted for it.

Hope you find this all useful. And, thanks again, Duke.

(Also yesterday, this passed 401-22, "Expressing the Sense of the House of Representatives That Those Who Celebrate Christmas Believe That the Symbols and Traditions of Christmas Should Be Protected.")

Oh, yeah. They're ready.

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqi security forces captured Al-Qaeda frontman Abu Musab al-Zarqawi last year but released him because they did not know who he was, a senior Iraqi official told AFP.

Picture of the Day

See, we grab them up under there, like that....

and then they'll sign anything we want.

Nuclear centrifuges at the YWCA, sure, I can get you that intel.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Spying on America

First we had the reports that the DoD was spying on anti-war groups, now this, (NYTimes)
WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 ­- Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials. ....

The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.

Picture of the Day - 3

McCain wins on Torture Ban?

This is great news. I'm not really surprised that the White House caved on this after yesterday's vote in the House, but I'll be really curious to hear the announcement to see if McCain won on the provision regarding this defense for CIA personnel.

(AP) WASHINGTON - After months of resistance, the White House has agreed to accept Sen. John McCain's call for a law specifically banning cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of foreign suspects in the war on terror, several congressional officials said Thursday.

(Later) It's official. Both sides have announced an agreement, and the CIA defense provison stayed in. McCain got everything. He didn't have to give up on one point from what I've read so far. WaPo version, NYTimes version. Nothing further in either one.

And just as an aside, as a commenter pointed out a couple of days ago, how far has the great ideal of America fallen that we're ecstatic about this?

Sort of Related: Today is the first day of the window in which to expect a ruling on releasing the rest of the Abu Ghraib materials, photos, videos, reports, etc. I don't remember the window dates specifically, I just remember the irony that the first possible ruling date was on the day of the Iraqi elections.

And, while I'm at it. This is totally unrelated, but it made me laugh out loud. A letter from the "War on Christmas."

Bush bombing Al Jazeera?

Is there any new news on the British documents which included the transcript where Bush "joked" for five pages about bombing Al Jazeera? Has this just disappeared?

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Plame Gossip - A little bit on Novak's "ask the president who leaked"

There's a lot of speculation as to why Novak said this yesterday. (This post may not interest everybody.)
"I'm confident the president knows who the source is," Novak told a luncheon audience at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh on Tuesday. "I'd be amazed if he doesn't."

My first opinion is still that Novak, frustrated by the fact that he lost his career by publishing a White House mandated hit piece, struck back.

Jason, who knows a little something about the Plame investigation, offered this in comments,
I think Novak is hoping that if he aligns himself with Woodward he won't be seen as such an evil bastard. However, I get the feeling that Novak feels he was hung out to dry by his pals in the White House and that is why he said the president knew who his source was. I guess he felt that no one rallied around him.

That's a good point. From an egomaniac like Novak, having it pointed out that he is not as valued as Woodward must've shaken his overly high self identity.

At Firedoglake, I read this interesting theory from their comments, but I'm not too sure about it, as I would guess that Novak would be staying waaaayy away from anything Rove right now.
I think Rove is nervous, and he's prodding Bush (via Novak) into saying something like, "I don't know who the leaker was." Or "Karl Rove has my complete support."

So, Jason, I don't have a concrete answer at this point, but I think there's definitely something to these Novak comments. I don't believe they were a "throwaway line" as the righty hardball guest repeated over and over last night. Anybody got other theories?

Wanna see something really scary?

This is the basic problem with bending the rules on civil liberties. No matter how noble the first incursion, once one circumstance is found where it's okay to break them, it's only a matter of time until somebody thinks they've found another.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Addressing the spread of methamphetamines already devastating some rural U.S. communities, the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a package of measures aimed at stiffening penalties and making it harder for meth "cooks" to obtain common ingredients.

The drug package was wrapped into the larger Patriot Act anti-terrorism bill, which passed the House , .....

I don't always support the clients of the ACLU, but this is their whole raison d etre.

"Heck of a Job" again.

A more media savy president would have banished this from his lexicon.
Asked if Rumsfeld will stay through the second term, Bush said: "Well, end of my term is a long time, but I tell you, he's done a heck of a good job and I have no intention of changing him."

The real headline of the story was this: (In an interview with Brit Hume on Fox News)

President Bush said yesterday he is confident that former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) is innocent of money-laundering charges, as he offered strong support for several top Republicans who have been battered by investigations or by rumors of fading clout inside the White House.

And he repeats the lie that Abramoff gave equally to both parties. (Now Abramoff's charitable givings are under question. It seems he reported to the IRS that he gave $330,000 to charities in 2002 who claim they never saw a dime of it. Where did that money go?)

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Rover, you've made quite a mess.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

On Cheney's immunity from torture

Cheney must be getting worried about the Bush higher-ups liability if there are ever any torture investigations. McCain is winning the debate.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a symbolic move, the House endorsed a Senate-passed ban on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of foreign terrorism suspects Wednesday as negotiations between the White House and Sen. John McCain over the provision appeared at an impasse.

It was approved 308-122, (voting details from Amblog)The vote tally was 200 Democrats, 1 independent and 107 Republicans against torture; 121 Republicans and 1 Democrat for torture. You can see the actual tally of the members of Congress who support torture here.

My, 97% voting with Delay, congressman Culberson voted for torture. Click the link to check yours.

The NYTimes version adds that this was brought to the floor by Murtha.

State of Iraq - Graphic from the NYTimes

Since the Bush administration has not offered any "metrics"(their word) by which we can consistently define success in Iraq, I offer this graphic that the NYTimes has up along with this "neither side is right" editorial.

I think we can officially call Cheney's "last throes" comment a lie.

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This is an old picture. But it is my hope and best wishes for the election in Iraq.


The Pentagon is running a $300 million psyop to plant stories in the foreign press "including in allied nations and in countries where the United States is not involved in armed conflict." - USA Today.

Dick Marty, a Swiss Senator who is who is heading up a Council of Europe investigation into the secret prisons the US government has been running in Eastern Europe, has come to the preliminary conclusion that U.S. intelligence operatives have abducted and transferred terrorism suspects in Europe "without respect for any legal standards."

Apparently the Bush administration recognizes Ecoterror and Narcoterror, but doesn't recognize blowing up abortion clinics as all that serious. (Alexander said he believed the Bush administration wanted to secure a death sentence in a domestic terrorism case, but acknowledged that the government "wouldn't necessarily want to make a martyr out of Eric Rudolph.")

John Aravosis(Americablog) won, as did we all, in getting Ford to ignore the religious right's efforts to stop Ford from advertising in gay publications.

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Even the non-English speaking little ones want Karen Hughes to shut up.

(By the way, anybody else noticed that she's making the media circuit again? I guess if she can't influence world opinion, they think she can still affect US opinion.)

Plame Gossip - Novak opens a can

Holy Crap. I gotta wonder what the White House did to Novak to prompt this. Maybe he's just pissed about losing his career by writing a White House mandated hit piece.

Newspaper columnist Robert Novak is still not naming his source in the Valerie Plame affair, but he says he is pretty sure the name is no mystery to President Bush.

"I'm confident the president knows who the source is," Novak told a luncheon audience at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh on Tuesday. "I'd be amazed if he doesn't."

"So I say, 'Don't bug me. Don't bug Bob Woodward. Bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is.' "

Somehow, I don't think the President will be answering questions again anytime soon. And pity the poor McClellan. If I see this in a Press Briefing, I'll throw it up. It should be particularly rancorous after McClellan got caught claiming that Rove had no role in the leak.

UPDATE: National Review is reporting big rumors that Rove is gonna be indicted soon. And, Mr. York, using, "as far as anyone knows" to downplay the severity of this investigation may salve the base who read NRO, but it works two ways. "As far as anyone knows," Fitzgerald is investigating Rove for a string of axe-murders. See, It's certainly wrong, but a clever way to spin your opinion.

UPDATE: David Shuster is apparently reporting that there was neither Fitzgerald nor grand jury at the Prettyman Federal courthouse today. This is only annoying because he was the first one yesterday to tell us there would be a meeting. Was he wrong yesterday? Or did Fitzgerald cancel the meeting so he could discuss things with the lawyer of "Official A?" No idea. Just gossiping.

What Would Jesus Protest?

Long a mantra, would Jesus really support Dobson, Robertson, and Falwell? WaPo page A08:

When hundreds of religious activists try to get arrested today to protest cutting programs for the poor, prominent conservatives such as James Dobson, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell will not be among them. .....

Conservative Christian groups such as Focus on the Family say it is a matter of priorities, and their priorities are abortion, same-sex marriage and seating judges who will back their position against those practices.

And Dobson's reponse, "Look, over there, they're attacking Christmas, and the gays, the gays are trying to kidnap your children and turn them into homosexuals..... Now, watch me as I hit this drive."

This is great reporting

Living down here in America's Petrochem heartland, I can say this isn't a surprise, but I wanted to make the point that this is a great piece of reporting by David Pace of the AP. He actually saw what he thought was an issue, got data, sat down and figured it all out.

After sooo much of the hesaid/shesaid insider tattletale journalism has been exposed in the Plame affair,(genuine leaks do serve a purpose) it's good to see real reporting.

CHICAGO - An Associated Press analysis of a little-known government research project shows that black Americans are 79 percent more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where industrial pollution is suspected of posing the greatest health danger.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Plame Gossip - Quickie

Fitzgerald is scheduled to go before the grand jury tomorrow. They're probably just reading more testimony into evidence, but, to me, that would confirm that the last minute Luskin/V. Novak defense didn't serve to free Karl.

Remember that whole long thing at the press conference where Fitzgerald was talking about the privacy of those not indicted, I find it hard to believe that he would waste the grand jury's time and enter evidence he didn't intend to use. Probably not too much will happen, but keep an eye peeled.

UPDATE: Rawstory so, grains of salt, still maintains that John Hannah is a cooperating witness, and added,
The Chicago prosecutor(Fitzgerald) briefed the second grand jury investigating the outing last week for more than three hours. During that time, he brought them up to speed on the latest developments involving Rove and at least one other White House official, the sources said. The attorneys refused to identify the second person.

I don't know what to make of "the second person." Maybe Woodward's source, maybe Cheney, maybe Ralston's alleged testimony that Rove ordered her to take the Cooper call out of the phone logs, maybe someone like a cooperating witness who is not under direct threat, maybe BS from Rawstory.

No idea, but I thought it was interesting enough to mention. Also, Kudos for metioning the oft forgotten fact that then White House Chief Counsel Alberto Gonzales received the request for information from Fitzgerald, then mentioned it to Andy Card, and then sat on it for twelve more hours to allow ample shredding time.

The Pentagon is spying on anti war groups

Okay, I know there has been anecdotal evidence around for awhile, but NBC got a leaked 400 page DoD document which cites surveillance and threat assessment of anti-war groups. I didn't find it shocking, but it is hard, direct evidence.

Who says its not like Vietnam?

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Neo-Nazi rally in Toledo the other day.

Are these guys going to vote for Hillary Clinton? See next post.

Did Nixon ruin the Republican party?

I was having a conversation this morning with an avowed Bush style Republican, and he made an interesting comment, (paraphrased) "with the current demographic trends, with blacks and Hispanics out reproducing whites, the Republicans are in long term trouble as Democrats are going to be getting more and more voters." Now, let me say that, despite the obvious worry in his voice, within the context of this wide ranging conversation of politics and party support, this was not a racist comment. But it certainly got me thinking.

My mind went back to the infamous "Southern Strategy" that Nixon used to win the 1968 election. With the Democrats embracing and supporting nationwide civil rights laws and enforcement to ensure an end to segregation, the Nixon camp made a carefully couched appeal for those southern democrats who were against the Civil Rights movement. And to some degree it worked, Nixon was reelected with significant support in the south. This was also the beginning of the inversion of the parties, where the Democrats and Republicans switched regional constituencies from the North to the South and vice versa. And with this inversion, the Republicans also shifted their base from the relatively shrinking populations of the north to the booming bible belt.

And for the next thirty years or so, the Republicans broadened their strength in the South by modulating their message away from direct racial issues, (Willie Horton, Welfare Queens, and Equal Opportunity aside) more towards a religious basing. It is still, in many respects, the same strategy, "those Ivy League liberals are trying to tell us what to do," "the gay agenda to take over the country," "they're trying to kill Christmas," etc. It is what I would refer to as a "People Like Us," strategy. The idea being to create a sense of siege of values to stir up the base and keep them active and voting.

The problem with this, I would argue, is that once the Republicans attracted these voters who tend to be on the right side of racial issues, they created a situation where that portion of the party has a place at the platform table. I'm not saying that the Republicans are trying to reverse civil rights, but there are forms of what I call soft bigotry throughout the party. (again, voting rights, social programs, equal opportunity, and many other examples.)

And from that, logically, blacks in the US largely don't support the Republican party.

But the thing of this is, that this section of the (we'll call them) nativist base, is now starting to hurl rhetoric regarding immigration and illegal immigrants. And some of it, I'm looking at you Tancredo, is beginning to get pretty ugly. The example I keep coming back to is Tancredo testing the phrase "preserve our national identity" in his campaign against illegals. Couple that with the effort overcome a Constitutional Amendment to remove citizenship from people born in the US to illegal parents, also Tancredo, and you begin to see how the "nativist" element of the Republican party could cost them the Hispanic vote for generations to come. (And this isn't just Tancredo, that second item has 77 Republican cosponsors in the House.)

And that brings us back to the comment my friend made this morning. If the Republicans have sufficiently alienated the Black and Hispanic communities, they could be in significant trouble in the long, long term. That's why Bush was making such an effort to bridge into Hispanic voters in 2004. I would guess that the Republicans no longer even expect to pick up any significant portion of the black vote, so that leaves only the Hispanic vote to stem the tide.

Look at the relative turnout rates of the white, southern, christian Republican base versus the much lower voting rates among Democrat supporting minorities. With the Presidential race as a guideline, just how many more votes are left out there for the Republicans among that base?

And as an editorial aside, let me say that I couldn't be happier that the remnants of the cynical racist Southern Strategy look to be coming back to bite the Republicans on the ass.

There are better more balanced and complete discussions of the Southern Strategy out there, and if you're interested in this, I would encourage you to do some looking. For the single point of this blog entry, I have focused specifically on the racial component.

There aren't many hardcore Republicans that visit here, but if you disagree, or find this offensive, please comment. If you make a good, logical, supported argument, I am capable of changing my mind. All I ask is no obscenity. I will delete comments that I deem obscene or racist.

(Also, I want to credit Sini for this post. We've been having a back and forth on issues around this for months.)

Picture of the Day - 2

Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan.

Delay in with Wilkes?

From the WaPo:

WASHINGTON -- A Texas prosecutor has issued subpoenas for bank records of a defense contractor involved in the bribery case of a California congressman as part of the investigation of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

District Attorney Ronnie Earle issued subpoenas last Thursday for California businessmen Brent Wilkes and Max Gelwix, records of Perfect Wave Technologies, Wilkes Corp. and ADCS Inc. in connection with a contribution to a fundraising committee at the center of the investigation that led to DeLay's indictment on money laundering charges.

I don't think you want to be tied to Wilkes right now.

I guess the Bush Boom is almost over

Bush had better talk about the good economic news fast, because it looks like the Fed may be thinking that it's peaking soon. Hope you enjoyed it.
The Federal Reserve is expected to hike interest rates another quarter point today. But after 18 months in which the Fed has been pushing rates higher to keep inflation under control, the central bank appears to be getting close to the end of its rate increase campaign.

And I know, the Fed was raising out in front because of oil prices and inflation fears, but even so, a peak in rates would be a significant statement on the economy.

Plame Gossip

That Hardball episode I wrote about last night is really making the rounds. I caught the reference to Fitzgerald talking to V. Novak a month ago and then coming back to her to say, "I need it under oath," but I completely missed the references and the significance of Vandehei saying that Rove got Plame's name from Hadley.

(Vandehei came back this morning and said that he misspoke, so throw out the Hadley told Rove and go back the known Libby told Rove. - Sorry, I was just citing what he said. Mike)

Picture of the Day - Australian Riots

A man is attacked outside his home in Cronulla in the Australian riots. That's one brave cop. Taking on that situation with only a can of pepperspray. Hats off to you, sir.

Monday, December 12, 2005

What's a few thousand Iraqis - "more or less"

I finally got a chance to read the Bush speech today, and unbelievably, he did answer questions as several commenters pointed out. But what jumped out at me was the point that Cephas made in the comments on an earlier post. Brian Williams(NBC news) had a "day with the president" where he followed Bush around and asked him questions. The strongest response was by far from a question related to Katrina where Bush replied, "You can call me whatever you want, but don't call me a racist."

Then, a few hours later, after his speech, he got a question from the audience to which he answered,

THE PRESIDENT: How many Iraqi citizens have died in this war? I would say 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis. We've lost about 2,140 of our own troops in Iraq.

Does anybody else see a problem here? I also find it pretty telling that Bush values Iraqi lives "more or less." What're the lives of a thousand Iraqis "more or less." Gotta break some eggs, right?

That's why Presidents should answer questions, so we know what they really think, not what their message is.

The "cut and run" President

I'm not putting too much stock in this. With the Iraqi elections days away, this could just be an effort to influence the outcome, but it's big enough, I thought I ought to put it up. The Times of London.

BRITAIN and America are planning a phased withdrawal of their forces from Iraq as soon as a permanent government is installed in Baghdad after this week’s elections. ....

A senior Western diplomat in Baghdad said yesterday: “One of the first things we will talk about (with the new Iraqi government) is the phased transfer of security, particularly in cities and provinces. It will happen progressively over the next year.”

As the plan sounds a little familiar, I would ask that you please send my check to Medicins Sans Frontiers. Not the most efficient in the charity ratings, but they operate in the hottest of hotspots where no one else will go.

Plame Gossip - Big Indications?

For those of you who want Rove to go down, I have a little support. On Hardball tonight, after watching Matthews slobber all over Mitt Romney, they had a segment on Plame. It opened with a taped segment from David Schuster in which he said that Fitzgerald talked to V. Novak a month ago about the Novak/Luskin conversation, then went back recently telling her, "I need it under oath." (paraphrase - transcript isn't out til tomorrow.)

If he saw her evidence as exculpatory, there would be no reason to bring her in to repeat it on the record under oath, unless her testimony conflicted with someone else's, and he saw this conflict as something he might have to present in a grand jury or in court. I find it difficult to believe that he would need it under oath if he wasn't intending to indict.

Then there's that little matter of Fitzgerald apparently reading evidence into the grand jury last Thursday. Do you do that if you don't intend to idict someone? (maybe not Rove, maybe Woodward's source?)

Also, in the coming soon category, Vandehei repeated that a source had said that this Luskin Novak conversation was the last thing Fitzgerald had to look at before making a decision on an indictment. (again paraphrase.) So with the testimony in, is there much left to do?

Bottom line, the more we know about this eleventh hour hail mary by Luskin, the less likely it looks to keep Rove from being indicted. If it's gonna be before Christmas, it'll have to be this week or early next, so keep tuned in.

And a question to comment on if you like, I've pretty much had my head down watching the twists and turns of this long running Plame saga, and for some reason, last night, I looked up and thought, "what would a Rove indictment really mean for Bush, the administration, the Republicans, the country?" I have no real answer at this point, but if you've got one, feel free to drop it in the comments. Thanks - Mike

Picture of the Day - 2

War in Iraq?

What were we thinking?

Quickies on a quiet newsday

The Washington Post has a great graphic showing Abramoff's money flows.

Our Texas redistricting case is going to the Supeme Court. For those of you outside Texas, overturning Delay's redistricting plan could mean 5 or 6 house seats most likely switching from Repub to Dem.

(Oh, I almost forgot, the president gave a speech today, I just watched CNN for thirty minutes and they barely mentioned it. Did anybody watch? Did he actually say anything? Was a four speeches too many?)

Picture of the Day - Freight.

Alot has been made of the decision to ship home American casualties as freight on commercial airliners. To some degree, I'm kind of glad that the numbers aren't (yet?) high enough for specialized planes like those that came back from Viet Nam, but still.

The man in that casket died serving our country. You can tell the men in the depot are trying their best to instill some dignity in it,

But this is not how heroes should come home.

UPDATE: Just a couple of quick notes after recieving good comments. The freight leg is the last leg of the journey. Most of the deceased are brought back to Dover and accorder full honor guard. It is only on the final leg to their hometown where this was taking place. Also, I did not mean to accuse anyone directly involved in the handling of the bodies of doing so disrespectfully. As is often the case, this is bad policy that is being enacted in the best way possible by the "people on the ground." Lastly, here is the Stars and Stripes article articulating the army's defense.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I Support the Troops - A Response

I got a rather nonsensical comment here a couple of days ago telling me that I didn't support the troops and I probably wanted them to die to advance my agenda.

(That is my cleaned up version of what was posted; in line with my unwritten policy, criticism and disagreement are encouraged, I do change my mind when faced with a better argument, but obscenity laced ravings are deleted at my discretion.)

I've thought about that alot, and I think I want to respond.

My criticism regarding this war is intended to be aimed solely at people at the policy making level. I think I'm pretty good about that. I personally believe that this war was wrong on many fronts, which I'm not going to list here. I also believe the convolution of the criticism between the war itself and the war effort is an intentional propaganda ploy being enacted by the White House to get people like you, Quint, to blindly follow bad policy.

But you see, it is because of the poor provenance of this war that I respect our troops all the more.

I mean, what level of devotion to duty, what level of belief in this country must it take from these guys to go out on patrol, day after day, on the same roads, and on the same routes, where they were attacked yesterday and most likely will be attacked again tomorrow. For or against the war, bad news from home, shit duty, these guys are willing to put all of it aside every time they go out and risk their lives.

I respect the hell out of that, Quint. I don't know your history. I don't know who the hell you are, but don't you dare come into my house and tell me that I want soldiers to die.

I had the balls to write up a first draft on what I thought was a reasonable plan to get us out of Iraq, to stop US soldiers from dying. What have you done? Clapping louder doesn't keep soldiers from dying, asshole.

Wilkes a front for GOP embezzlement?

That's not exactly it, but if you're willing to wade through this allegation more than fact post over at Kos, you might come to the conclusion that Brent Wilkes was running front companies who received big defense contracts for very little work and then channeled a significant portion of that money back into Republican political organizations. I'm not endorsing this, I don't know enough about it, but it's an interesting avenue of investigation.

Graham says no to torture immunity

As many of you know, I have been keeping a close watch on the negotiations on the "torture amendment." The reason I'm so interested, better described here, is that in the negotiations, the Cheney/Whitehouse side are trying to negotiate, in effect, immunity for themselves for previously committed acts, and the McCain/Graham side aren't budging. Again, I'm not exaggerating, please look here for the details.

So, anyway, here's today's update with quotes from today's talk shows. Start with Frist scaremongering. (on Foxnews unsurprisingly.)

"I think there will be clarification of what we mean, how aggressive can one be to get information?" said Frist, who did not specify what would be banned.

"What does degrading mean? Do you not want to degrade a terrorist, not hurt them, but degrade them, if they are going to take out your family, if they are going to assassinate you? That's the question that is being worked out," he said.

Then, McCain ally, Lindsey Graham, who I'm slowly growing to like, on Meet The Press:

Sen. Lindsey Graham said the Bush administration and amendment supporters were still negotiating. "We're not close to a deal," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"There is a breakdown along how to best protect the troops. There is a philosophical difference here I don't want to divulge," the South Carolina Republican said, when asked if the White House was seeking immunity for possible past torture.

"The vice president is not the vice president of torture," he said. "He is trying to create exemptions, in my opinion, to protect our people who go too far."

Did Lindsey Graham just call Cheney the "vice president of torture" on Meet the Press? Snap. I'll bet that Republican "Holiday party" is gonna be a little awkward.

(Later) This little gem from the Guardian.

Binyam Mohammed, 27, says he spent nearly three years in the CIA's network of 'black sites'. In Morocco he claims he underwent the strappado torture of being hung for hours from his wrists, and scalpel cuts to his chest and penis and that a CIA officer was a regular interrogator.......

A senior US intelligence official told The Observer that the CIA is now in 'deep crisis' following last week's international political storm over the agency's practice of 'extraordinary rendition' - transporting suspects to countries where they face torture. 'The smarter people in the Directorate of Operations [the CIA's clandestine operational arm] know that one day, if they do this stuff, they are going to face indictment,' he said. 'They are simply refusing to participate in these operations, and if they don't have big mortgage or tuition fees to pay they're thinking about trying to resign altogether.'

Picture of the Day - 3

Marine One in front of the Washington Monument.

Plame Gossip - V. Novak sends Rove to jail

Looks like the V. Novak testimony won't keep Rove out of the clink.

Months before Karl Rove corrected his statements in the Valerie Plame investigation, his lawyer was told that the presidential aide might have disclosed Plame's CIA status to Time reporter Matt Cooper, the magazine reported Sunday.

Rove says he had forgotten the conversation with Cooper. But in the first half of 2004, as President Bush's re-election campaign was heating up, Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, got the word about a possible Rove-Cooper conversation from Time reporter Viveca Novak. (I like the reminder on the election in this article. - mike) .....

It wasn't until October 2004 — sometime between five months and nine months after Novak's conversation with Luskin — that Rove disclosed his conversation with Cooper to the prosecutor.

And that last sentence is why Rove will go down. This V. Novak story was a desperate hail mary by Luskin. It confused us all, but as the detail comes out, it becomes more and more clear that it's not going to work. (more later)

(Later) Here's the Time story V. Novak wrote about her meeting with Luskin. I still don't see how it helps Rove.

Picture of the Day - 2 - Iraq

30,000 national security letters is not enough for the FBI

While the Patriot Act renewal is in House Senate negotiation, the NYTimes comes out with this.

But the newly disclosed e-mail messages offer a competing view, showing that, privately, some F.B.I. agents have felt hamstrung by their inability to get approval for using new powers under the Patriot Act, which was passed weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

One internal F.B.I. message, sent in October 2003, criticized the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review at the Justice Department, which reviews and approves terrorist warrants, as regularly blocking requests from the F.B.I. to use a section of the antiterrorism law that gave the bureau broader authority to demand records from institutions like banks, Internet providers and libraries.

Remember this article from the WaPo on Nov. 6?

The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.

So, 30,000 a year isn't enough? I hope the leak the FBI gave the NYTimes was worth them printing this crap.

How do you get fired from FoxNews?

Bill O'Reilly, on his radio show already blamed the "war on christmas" on a secular conspiracy headed by Jewish American success story George Soros.

Another Fox News commentator, John Gibson, penned a book titled "The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought."

"The wagers of this war on Christmas are a cabal of secularists, so-called humanists, trial lawyers, cultural relativists, and liberal, guilt-wracked Christians - not just Jewish people," Gibson said.

The implication being that to some degree it is Jewish people. This can't be passed off as an accidental misstatement, it's in his book. Now, I'm not Jewish, or an immigrant, or gay, but this scares the hell out of me.

This isn't just some funny thing the right are going on about. This is part of a continuing effort to extend the role of heterosexual white Christians as the model and center of our society. And that has a scary history whether you're talking about Nazis, McCarthyism, or the Klan.

Have I made the enemies list yet, Mr. O'Reilly?

(And, by the way, if you're rich and Crazy Christian, the WaPo recommends pro-gun, anti-gay, anti-evolution Cobb County, Georgia as a place where you can practice your bigotry with support.)

Planted story in the US press?

I have no evidence that this is a fake/planted story, but notice the sourcing on this. One named source who doesn't seem to be have any great position in the insurgency, a "resident" who is a "former army officer,"and a "Baathist insurgent leader" who is not willing to give his name.

And from these sources, I am to gather that the whole insurgency aims to lay down its weapons and vote?

Saddam Hussein loyalists who violently opposed January elections have made an about-face as Thursday's polls near, urging fellow Sunni Arabs to vote and warning al Qaeda militants not to attack.

In a move unthinkable in the bloody run-up to the last election, guerrillas in the western insurgent heartland of Anbar province say they are even prepared to protect voting stations from fighters loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.

So the guerillas are going to protect the voting stations? Maybe I'm just too cynical after finding out that the US military is planting psyops stories. Whattya think?

And, just coincidentally, the NYTimes has a giant piece on the US military's "information war" today as well.

Picture of the Day - Hemel explosion

-- HEMEL HEMPSTEAD (Reuters) - Explosions tore through a fuel depot north of London before dawn on Sunday, creating a huge tower of smoke and flame and seriously injuring two people in what police said appeared to be an accident.

Being from America's Petrochem center, my best wishes to all the families affected.