Thursday, June 29, 2006

USA being turned into a police state...

From Information Clearing House:

The High Price of American Gullibility
By Paul Craig Roberts

In National Socialist Germany, by the time propaganda lost its grip, Germans were in the hands of a police state. It was too late to take corrective measures. Not even the military could correct the disastrous policies of the executive. In the end, Germany was destroyed. Does a similar fate await Americans?


Blissful ignorant parents try tossing teachers...

From the New York Times:

On EducationEvolution's Lonely Battle in a Georgia Classroom

OCCASIONALLY, an educational battle will dominate national headlines. More commonly, the battling goes on locally, behind closed doors, handled so discreetly that even a teacher working a few classrooms away might not know. This was the case for Pat New, 62, a respected, veteran middle school science teacher, who, a year ago, quietly stood up for her right to teach evolution in this rural northern Georgia community, and prevailed.

She would not discuss the conflict while still teaching, because Ms. New wouldn't let anything disrupt her classroom. But she has decided to retire, a year earlier than planned. "This evolution thing was a lot of stress," she said. And a few weeks ago, on the very last day of her 29-year career, at 3:15, when Lumpkin County Middle School had emptied for the summer, and she had taken down her longest poster from Room D11A � the 15-billion-year timeline ranging from the Big Bang to the evolution of man � she recounted one teacher's discreet battle.

She isn't sure how many questioned her teaching of evolution. ½ perhaps a dozen parents, teachers and administrators and several students in her seventh-grade life science class. They sent e-mail messages and letters, stopped her in the hall, called board members, demanded meetings, requested copies of the PBS videos that she showed in class.

One parent asked how money could be wasted on a subject like evolution: "As budget cuts continuously chip away at our children's future of a good, quality college-ready education," she wrote, "I would think there would be more educational, more worthwhile and certainly more factual learning that could be taught." She requested that her son be permitted to "bide his time elsewhere" when evolution was taught.

Ms. New explained that evolution is so central to biology, the boy would be biding elsewhere all year long. Practically every chapter in her Prentice Hall textbooks � "Bacteria to Plants," "Cells and Heredity," "Animals" ½ used evolution to trace the development of life starting with bacteria, green algae and gymnosperms.The books were purchased by her district, and she sent her supervisors copies, marking evolution references with dozens of Post-its, but it didn't seem to register.

On April 25, 2005, during a meeting about parent complaints with her principal, Rick Conner, she recalled: "He took a Bible off the bookshelf behind him and said, 'Patty I believe in everything in this book, do you?'

I told him, 'I really feel uncomfortable about your asking that question.' He wouldn't let it go.' "

The next day, she said, in the lunchroom, "he reached across the table, took my hand and said: 'I accept evolution in most things but if they ever say God wasn't involved I couldn't accept that. I want you to say that, Pat.' "

Asked to comment during an interview here, Mr. Conner would say only, "I don't want to talk about it."

Four days after her encounter with the principal, Ms. New was summoned to a meeting with the superintendent, Dewey Moye, as well as the principal and two parents upset about her teaching evolution. "We have to let parents ask questions," Mr. Moye told her. "It's a public school. In a democracy people can ask questions."

Ms. New said the parents, "badgered, got loud and sarcastic and there was no support from administrators."Babs Greene, another administrator, "asked if I was almost finished teaching evolution," Ms. New recalled. "I explained to her again that it is a unifying concept in life science. It is in every unit I teach. There was a big sigh."

"I thought I was going crazy," said Ms. New, who has won several outstanding teacher awards and is one of only two teachers at her school with national board certification. The other is her husband, Ward."It takes a lot to stand up and be willing to have people angry at you," she said.

But Ms. New did. She repeatedly urged her supervisors to read Georgia's science standards, particularly S7L5, which calls for teaching evolution.

On May 5, 2005, she filled out a complaint to initiate a grievance under state law, writing that she was being "threatened and harassed" though "I am following approved curriculum." She also wrote, "If we could get together within 24 hours and settle this and I feel I have support to teach the standards, then I would tear it up."

Suddenly the superintendent was focused on standards. Mr. Moye called the state department's middle school science supervisor and asked about evolution. "Obviously the State Department of Education supports evolution," Mr. Moye said in an interview.Obviously? So why call? "I wanted to be sure," he said. "Let's make sure what these standards are."

He added: "I feel strongly about the Georgia standards. I think it's very important. Obviously we'll teach standards; that's the law. We will do everything in accordance with the Department of Education."

And parents' rights? "I explained to parents that we're following the state standards," Mr. Moye said. "I said, 'You can believe what you want, but we have to teach the standards.' If they're upset, they can take it up on the state level."

The superintendent, principal and Ms. Greene all praised Ms. New's ability. "The lady's an excellent teacher," Mr. Moye said, adding, "Maybe she felt like the school system didn't support her. We certainly support her."

Ms. New said that from then on, including the entire 2005-06 school year, she had no problem teaching evolution. "What saved me, was I didn't have to argue evolution with these people. All I had to say was, 'I'm following state standards.' "

GERRY WHEELER, director of the National Science Teachers Association, said membership surveys indicated that a third of teachers were challenged on evolution, mainly by parents and students. A survey of state science standards by the Fordham Institute, a conservative policy research organization that supports teaching evolution, rated 20 states, including Georgia, with "sound" evolution standards in 2005, down from 24 states in 2000.

The Georgia standards that saved Ms. New almost did not happen. In January 2004, when they were about to be adopted, Kathy Cox, Georgia's education superintendent, announced that she would remove evolution from the standards because it was too divisive an issue. That set off a huge protest that included former President Jimmy Carter and Governor Sonny Perdue, a Republican. Within days, Ms. Cox reversed herself.

No one was more gratified than Dr. F. James Rutherford, who worked as a consultant developing the Georgia standards. In 1985, Dr. Rutherford, a Harvard-trained science educator, began a project for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, aimed at laying out what every student should know about science, grade by grade. That year Halley's Comet appeared and he called the effort Project 2061, with hopes that by the comet's next visit, in 2061, the children of 1985 would have had a lifetime shaped by superior science education.

It took longer than he thought, but Project 2061 became the foundation for the Georgia standards adopted in 2004, and by many other states. Dr. Rutherford, now 82, had not heard of Ms. New, but when told of her quiet victory, he said: "Wonderful. That was the idea."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company


Fitz vs Rove: This what happened?!!!

From Secrecy News. org:

June 29, 2006
"SEALED v. SEALED": How Courts Confront State Secrets

The government's increasing use of the "state secrets privilege" to resist civil litigation on national security matters has often been met by courts with uncritical, even abject deference to the executive agencies that invoke the privilege. But another, more assertive response is possible.

"The state secrets privilege is absolute," wrote Judge Royce C. Lamberth categorically in a newly disclosed decision (pdf) from July 2004.

In that case, former DEA agent Richard Horn alleged that his phone had been illegally wiretapped by the U.S. government when he served in Myanmar (Burma) in 1993. The government asserted the state secrets privilege and moved for dismissal.

Plaintiff Horn then proposed that the provisions of the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) be adapted to permit the secure adjudication of classified information in his lawsuit, as is done in certain criminal trials such as espionage cases.

But, Judge Lamberth reasoned, "If the Court adopted CIPA,... the [state secrets] privilege would not be absolute." So he simply dismissed the case.

Horn's lawsuit -- Horn v. Huddle, D.C. District Case No. 94-1756 -- is sealed. It does not appear in the public docket of the D.C. District Courthouse. Instead, it is tagged "SEALED v. SEALED" with the annotation "Case is not available to the public."

But a redacted copy of Judge Lamberth's July 28, 2004 order dismissing the case was obtained by Secrecy News.

A markedly different judicial response to a state secrets claim may be emerging in a current lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation alleging unlawful domestic surveillance.
Instead of simply granting "absolute" deference to the government whenever it asserts the state secrets privilege, the Court admitted that there are multiple interests at stake that must somehow be reconciled:

"How can the court minimize the conflict between plaintiffs' right to litigate this case and the government's duty to protect state secrets?" Judge Vaughan R. Walker asked the parties in a January 20 order (pdf).

"Allowing the executive branch to treat the privilege as an absolute bar to judicial review, as the Bush administration is attempting, would be profoundly unwise," argued constitutional scholar Louis Fisher in a new op-ed. "It would let self-serving assertions by one of the litigants usurp the judge's authority." See "State Your Secrets" (pdf) by Louis Fisher, Legal Times, June 26 (reprinted with permission).

A critical view of the Bush Administration's use of the state secrets privilege was presented in "The Bush Code of Secrecy" by Mark Follman, Salon, June 23.

Last March, the Central Intelligence Agency asserted (pdf) the state secrets privilege in a somewhat mysterious case called Jane Doe v. CIA, and moved for dismissal. Last week, Mark S. Zaid, the attorney for "Jane Doe," asked the Court not to dismiss the case.

"The privilege has been used in this administration more than any other administration," according to University of Texas-El Paso professor William Weaver.

"Depending on how you count it, it's been asserted ... between 19 and 21 times," he told National Public Radio on June 19.

Posted by Steven Aftergood at 01:10 PM


Actor Stu Siegal sets up Marine training..Whoa!!!

From :

Marines Turn To Hollywood For Combat Training
Realistic Sets, Actors Used In Exercises
POSTED: 6:30 pm PDT June 28, 2006
UPDATED: 8:31 am PDT June 29, 2006

SAN DIEGO -- An urban setting that looks and feels like Iraq is actually a patch of land east of Interstate 15.

The hyper-real setting has been created by the movie studio Stu Seigal, which employs actors who speak Arabic for training exercises.

"That's about as real as it gets," said Marines reservist Geoff Gainer. "I mean, it's stressful in there, and you know it's not real."

Marines are taught to deal with the blast from a roadside bomb. A mock-up of a building in Kearney Mesa prepares Marines for entering Iraqi homes. Marines can change the way the set looks to mimic the changing environment they might encounter in Iraq.

"They continue to practice techniques of going through these buildings, and they gain more confidence in themselves as they continue to go through," said Cpl. Matthew Strecker.

In the past two years, 23,000 Marines have gone through the Hollywood training.

Copyright 2006 by


Horrid different States...UGH!

From InTheseTimes :

Views > June 29, 2006 > Web Only
Two Faces of GOP Hate
By Hans Johnson

On the surface, Shawn Stuart and Ralph Reed have little in common, other than their quest for public office this year as Republicans. But, Stuart, a bona fide Nazi running for state representative in Montana, and Reed, who has repeatedly appealed to antigay and racist bias as Georgia GOP chair and hopes to become lieutenant governor, share an intimate bond. They both have bigotry at the core of their campaigns.

Playing on prejudice is a dance they perform with differing degrees of grace. Reed, a slick and polished consultant, looks to win his August primary, while Stuart, a clumsy first-time candidate, is a longshot for the legislature. Reed, more than Stuart, disguises gay-bashing and scapegoating of immigrants in rhetoric of faith, family, and America’s security. But even fellow Republicans are having a hard time identifying what, in substance, distinguishes the wacko from the White House confidante.

Recently home from service in Iraq, Stuart is the lone GOP candidate in state House district 76, based in heavily Democratic Butte. He told the Missoula Independent that he conveyed to local Republicans his strong anti-immigrant and anti-gay views. Montana state party spokesperson Chuck Butler agreed that the 24-year-old Stuart seemed a normal, even an admirable, GOP standard-bearer. “He made a nice appearance and got himself on the ballot and then he happened to say, ‘Oh, I represent some other interest.’”

“Like anybody else, you can be part of one organization and part of another,” Stuart told the Missoula Independent, when his affiliation with the National Socialist Movement came to light. He added, to the Billings Gazette, that he holds “nothing against any other race. We have our right to exist in the world. They have their right to exist in the world.”
Reed, also a first-time candidate, puts his appeals to prejudice down in black and white. You might not guess it from their wooden headings. His two main policy statements are called “Strengthen Georgia Families, Communities, and Values” and “A Safer and More Secure Georgia.”

The first obsesses over same-sex marriage and calls for a special session of the legislature to attack it. (Yes, you read that right.) It also backs another round of gay-bashing via statewide ballot measure, like the one already approved in 2004.

The second endorses an anti-immigrant crackdown and heaps praise on Georgia Senate Bill 529, one of the harshest laws in the nation. It grants local police officers the authority to arrest and indiscriminately round up those they suspect lack proper documentation. A broad spectrum of religious leaders, including the U.S. Catholic Conference, denounced the law. Reed, however, sees it as just a “first step.”

The longtime head of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, Reed has been tarred by his involvement in the Jack Abramoff GOP corruption investigation. But like his former boss, Reed has played on prejudice to sway voters and raise his reputation.

In 2002, he used mail and radio appeals denouncing abortion and praising the Confederate flag to help Saxby Chambliss defeat then-Sen. Max Cleland. In 2004, as southeast regional rep for Bush’s reelection, he unleashed a mailing suggesting that Democrats would ban the Bible and aggressively promote gay couples.

The current debate about immigration reform, while dividing Republicans nationally, sets a welcome stage for some GOP candidates eager to tap into fear and hatred. It allows them to sidestep any concrete solution or measurable results by instead lashing out at what Reed calls “law-breaking” and what Stuart calls the mingling of “pelicans” and “crows.”
Reed and Stuart aren’t alone in playing on prejudice to woo Republican voters, or in blurring the lines between marginal and mainstream GOP candidacies.

• Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King has trivialized the torture of detained Iraqis as “hazing” and sought to cancel sections of the federal Voting Rights Act that help non-English-speaking citizens cast ballots. Like fellow GOP antagonist Tom Tancredo of Colorado, he takes a vicious line against immigrants and has called for a razor-wire wall on the Mexican border. He’s also revived the tactics of Joe McCarthy by branding a California city official a “communist” and then blocking the dedication of a post office after the 94-year-old human-rights activist.

• Illinois state senator Chris Lauzen has emerged as another ringleader of attacks on gays and immigrants. In opposing a landmark state civil rights bill in 2005, he invoked the quack claims of discredited researcher Paul Cameron to argue that gays live shorter lives. And he fought a bid to allow qualified immigrants who seek a license to drive legally in the state, saying it was the same as having “privileges handed to you.”

• Oklahoma state representative Kevin Calvey also rails against gays and immigrants. He has sponsored a bill like that Reed pushed through in Georgia, which would force local and state government workers to tell on suspected illegals. He also demanded, and won, the repeal of a state school board provision barring bias against gay people. Calvey trumpeted the change as insulating the state against “homosexual rights organizations.”

• In Tennessee, in March, the executive committee of the state GOP bounced James Hart from the party’s slot on the August 3 primary ballot. Hart was the party’s candidate in 2004, taking 82 percent in the primary and 26 percent in the general election. He attacks immigrants and gays while also advocating eugenics and limits on immigration or reproduction by what he told the Associated Press are “less favored races.”

Republicans can pay a price for being tagged as extremist. A March poll of Georgia Republicans by the polling company InsiderAdvantage shows that Reed, if he won his primary and appeared on the fall ballot with incumbent Gov. Sonny Perdue, would drag down all Republicans. For every 2 people who said his presence was an incentive, 3 others said he would be a hex.

Still, no other GOP leader goes as far as Butler, in Montana, who says Stuart is a disgrace to the Party of Lincoln: He and other local leaders have endorsed the Democrat in the fall showdown.
In the early ’90s, longtime conservative direct-mail consultant Marvin Liebman criticized the Republican Party for increasingly relying on intolerance in its appeals to voters. He saw the GOP becoming just “an agglomeration of bigotries.” For Liebman, who gave Reed one of his first jobs in politics and came out as a gay man after decades as an anti-communist mouthpiece, the pronouncement was all the more painful since it served as a mea culpa.

In politics, defeat is often a wakeup call to conscience. Democrats have regrouped from losses in ‘04 to move for immigrant rights at the federal level and make anti-gay discrimination illegal in three states. For Republicans, one potential by-product of rejection on Nov. 7 is that the practitioners of scapegoating might finally take a look in the mirror.

Hans Johnson, a contributing editor of In These Times, is president of Progressive Victory, based in Washington, D.C., and writes on labor, religion and the mechanics of political campaigns.

More information about Hans Johnson


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Gonzales is an idiot. FBI guy slips it to him... :)))

From Information Clearing House :

Must watch 4 minute video

Jon Stewart takes a look at the case known to many as "The Miami Seven." He examines the careful and decisive evidence told to us by Alberto Gonzales.

Click here to view


Oh, oh...Now they've done it....

From NY Times:

Putin Puts Out 'Kill' Order on Iraqi Kidnappers
The order reflected the deep shock and anger that has unfolded since the killing of five Russians in Iraq


No laws for Bush..International or ours...

From Privacy International. org:

PI launches campaign to suspend unlawful activities of finance giant

Privacy International launched a campaign today against the illegal actions of SWIFT in its transfer of financial transactional data to the U.S. Government.

The privacy watchdog organisation Privacy International has today filed simultaneous complaints with Data Protection and Privacy regulators in 33 countries concerning recent revelations of secret disclosures of millions of records from the banking giant SWIFT to U.S. intelligence agencies.

This disclosure of data has been undertaken on the grounds of counter-terrorism. The disclosures involve the mass transfer of data from the SWIFT centre in Belgium to the United States, and possibly direct access by US authorities both to data held within Belgium and data residing in SWIFT centres worldwide.

The complaints allege that the activity was undertaken without regard to legal process under Data Protection law, and that the disclosures were made without any legal basis or authority whatever. The scale of the operation, involving millions of records, places this disclosure in the realm of a fishing exercise rather than legally authorised investigation.

The issue was first brought to light on Friday June 23rd 2006, when the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times published details of the private arrangement between SWIFT and the United States Government that involved the covert disclosure to the U.S. of financial data on customers' transactions. Neither the U.S. Government nor SWIFT was prepared to provide details of the extent of the disclosures. However the office of the Belgium Prime Minister confirmed that: "the cooperative (SWIFT) had received broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records".

The complaints also expressed concern that this data could be used by U.S. authorities for a range of unrelated activities, even espionage.

Each complaint was addressed to a specific privacy commissioner and official raising issues specific to that country. The general complaint text can be seen by clicking here.

Related:Pulling a Swift one? Bank transfer information sent to U.S. authorities


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

You think you're torqued now? Check this....

From Greg Palast:

By Greg Palast
June 28, 2006

The Right Wing has gone hog-ass wild over the New York Times' "shocking" report that the Bush Administration is actually tracking terrorists' money transfers. Oh my!The fruitcakes are in flames! "Stand them in front of a firing squad or put them in prison for the rest of their lives," says one pinhead on Fox TV.

For what? The stunning news that the government is hunting the source of al-Qaeda's cash? "Osama! You must stop using your ATM card! Condi Rice is reading our bank statements!"Somehow, I suspect bin Laden already assumes his checkbook is getting perused.

It is worth noting that the fanatic screeching for a "firing squad" is a guy who claims to be a former CIA agent. No one can confirm his claim of course, but this character, Wayne Simmons, has made his career blabbering away juicy intelligence secrets to sell himself as an "expert," stuff far racier than the Times' weak report. Well, hypocrisy never stood in the way of the Foxes in the news house.

You want to talk "treason"? OK, let's talk treason.

How about Dick Cheney telling his creepy little hitman 'Scooter' Libby to reveal information that led to the naming of a CIA agent? Mr. Simmons, do you have room in your firing squad schedule for the Vice-President?And no one on Fox complained when the Times, under the by-line of Judith Miller, revealed the secret "intelligence" information that Saddam was building a bomb.

Yes, let's talk treason. How about this: Before the 9/11 attack, George Bush's intelligence chieftains BLOCKED the CIA's investigation of the funding of al-Qaeda and terror.

The "Back-Off" Directive

On November 9, 2001, BBC Television Centre in London received a call from a phone booth just outside Washington. The call to our Newsnight team was part of a complex pre-arranged dance coordinated with the National Security News Service, a conduit for unhappy spooks at the CIA and FBI to unburden themselves of disturbing information and documents.

The top-level U.S. intelligence agent on the line had much to be unhappy and disturbed about: what he called a "back-off" directive. This call to BBC came two months after the attack on the Pentagon and World Trade Towers. His fellow agents, he said, were now released to hunt bad guys. That was good news. The bad news was that, before September 11, in those weeks just after George W. Bush took office, CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) personnel were told to "back off" certain targets of investigations begun by Bill Clinton.

The agent said, "There were particular investigations that were effectively killed."

Which ones? His reply was none too comforting: Khan Labs.On February 11, 2004, President Bush, at an emergency press briefing, expressed his shock -- shock! -- at having learned that Dr. A. Q. Khan of Pakistan was running a flea market in fissionable material. But, we knew that from the agent's call -- nearly three years earlier. As the intelligence insider told us, the Khan investigation died because the CIA was not allowed to follow down the money trail ... to Saudi Arabia.

Apparently, the Saudis, after Saddam Hussein attacked Kuwait in 1991, switched their funding for an "Islamic bomb" from Iraq to Pakistan. Dr. Khan used the Saudi loot to build and test his bomb -- then sell off the blueprints and bomb-fixings to North Korea and Libya. This was, one might say, a somewhat dangerous situation. But Bush's spymasters made it a policy to "See No Saudi Evil" -- so the investigation died.

What You "Ought Not to Know."

Closing the agencies eyes to the Khan bomb was not the only spike. That same week in November 2001, unhappy FBI agents "accidentally" left an astonishing dozen-page fax on the desks of our NSNS colleagues. It was marked, "199-I -- WF" and "SECRET."

The code "199-I" means "national security matter" in FBI-speak. It was about what the FBI deemed "a suspected terrorist organization." What made the document special -- and earned the anger of the two agents who "lost" it for us -- is that it indicates that the "suspected terrorist" activities were not investigated until September 13, 2001, despite a desire by agents to investigate these characters years earlier.

Who was exempt from investigation? That was on page 2 of the 199-I document. The FBI was hunting in Falls Church, Virginia, for "ABL," Abdullah bin Laden, nephew of Osama. They were also seeking another relative, Omar bin Laden (or "Binladden" in the alternative translation of the Arabic name). But by September 13, when the restrictions on agents were removed, the bin Ladens were gone.

Why did buildings have to fall before the FBI could question the bin Ladens? Because, frustrated agents noted, the "suspected terrorist organization" was funded directly by the Saudi Royal family.The suspect group, the World Association of Muslim Youth, operated soccer clubs -- and a whole lot more. For example, there was its shuttle operation for jihadi warriors to Bosnia and, foreign intelligence agencies told us at BBC, alleged involvement of WAMY members in bombings.

In the face of these accusations, the Saudi supreme dictator, King Abdullah, praised WAMY, saying, "There is no extremism in the defending of the faith." That's his opinion.

Abdullah bin Laden brought WAMY to the USA where, in a summer camp in Florida, little kids were given instruction in baseball and in the glories of hostage-taking (no kidding). But the FBI's investigation of the bin Ladens and their group was out of the question so long as the Bush Administration kept intelligence agencies from following the funds transfers of the House of Saud.

That November night in 2001, when we were about to televise the 199-I memo, my BBC producer, Meirion Jones, sought out the FBI's comment, assuming we'd get the usual, "It's baloney, a fake, you misunderstand, it ain't true."But we didn't get the usual response.

Rather, FBI headquarters in Washington told us: "There are lots of things the intelligence community knows and other people ought not to know."

"Ought not to know"?!?

We ran the story of the Bush Administration's impeding investigations of the funding of terror. BBC ran it at the top of the nightly news in Britain and worldwide. It hit the front pages of newspapers around the globe -- except in the USA. In America, the New York Times and our other news outlets were still accepting the Bush Administration's diktat that intelligence "information" -- that is, news of disastrous intelligence failures -- was something the Times' readers, "ought not to know."

So I'm tempted to say that, Yes, the New York Times has committed treason -- not by reporting on what Bush's spies are doing, but on failing to report on what Bush's spies did not do: a deadly failure to follow the money before September 11 because the House of Bush chose to protect the House of Saud.

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.


A bunch of good books on the way...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Paul Schmidtberger's DESIGN FLAWS OF THE HUMAN CONDITION, a humorous look at two strangers railroaded into an anger management class and examines our flawed capacity to love and to be loved while we bungle everything up along the way, to Andrew Corbin of Broadway, in a pre-empt, by Marly Rusoff (NA).

Journalist and writing teacher Susan Breen's THE FICTION CLASS, about a writer's relationship with her ailing mother and the offbeat members of the creative writing workshop she leads, to Emily Haynes at Plume, in a pre-empt, by Alex Glass at Trident Media Group (NA).


Cora Harrison's MY LADY JUDGE, to Charles Spicer at St. Martin's, for publication in Spring 2007, in a three-book deal, by Pan Macmillan (US).Rights: Chantal Noel at Macmillan
Two South-African born professors writing as Michael Stanley's DETECTIVE KUBU AND A CARRION DEATH, introducing an overweight opera loving Botswana detective who unravels the mystery of a dead body found in the bush, and in doing so, uncovers a chain of murders linked to the most powerful people in the country, juxtaposing the "old" Africa of superstition, traditional tribal culture, and colonialism, with the "new" Africa of rationality, big business, and nationality, to Claire Wachtel at Harper, for two books, by Marly Rusoff & Associates (world English)

Colin Cotterill's untitled novel about the septuagenarian chief medical examiner of Laos and protagonist of THE CORONER'S LUNCH, in his fifth appearance, to Laura Hruska of Soho Press, by Richard Curtis of Richard Curtis Associates.Foreign:


Zachary Lazar's SWAY, about the dark side of the Sixties, featuring Charles Manson and the Rolling Stones and culminating in the catastrophic concert at Altamont, to Pat Strachan at Little, Brown, by Bill Clegg at William Morris Agency (world).
NYT bestselling author of GARDEN OF LIES and IMMEDIATE FAMILY Eileen Goudge's WOMAN IN RED, about the struggles of a woman finding her way after years in prison for attempted murder, who discovers unexpected romance and faces the unraveling of a family mystery from decades ago, to Roger Cooper at CDS Books, by Susan Ginsburg at Writers House (NA)

Capt. Hook: Adventures of a Notorious Youth author J.V. Hart's CAPT. HOOK: The Adventure Continues, in which King Jas encounters sword fights, star-crossed love, and dastardly villains on his mission to find Neverland, to Laura Geringer at Laura Geringer Books, in a very nice deal, by Sterling Lord at Sterling Lord Literistic (World)

NYT bestselling author of the Echo Falls Mystery series Peter Abrahams's TROPHY KID, asking How far will an overachieving teenager go to solve the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend?, to Laura Geringer at Laura Geringer Books, in a four-book deal, by Molly Friedrich at The Friedrich Agency (World)

Mary Tyler Moore's MY LIFE WITH DIABETES, an account of overcoming a lifetime of obstacles caused by the Type-1 diabetes she has lived with for 40 years (she also serves as international chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), and a useful guide to anyone directly and indirectly affected by diabetes, with author Kalia Doner assisting with research, to Phil Revzin at St. Martin's, in a profit-sharing co-publication deal, by Wayne Kabak at the William Morris Agency (NA)


Michael Eric Dyson's DEBATING RACE, a collection of his conversations about race with prominent political and intellectual voices, for publication in February 2007, followed by an in-depth look at and commentary on the role of the Black church in America today, for publication in February 2008, plus two other books, to David Steinberger and Amy Scheibe at Basic Civitas (world)

Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies at Columbia University Sudhir Venkatesh's GANG LEADER FOR A DAY, thought-provoking research on crime, urban poverty, and immigration from the sociologist who collaborated with Freakonomics economist Steven Levitt in trying to answer the question "why do drug dealers still live with their moms?," to Ann Godoff at Penguin Press, at auction, by Suzanne Gluck at William Morris Agency.
Rights already sold to Penguin in the UK, Econ in Germany, Sperling e Kupfer in Italy, Campus in Brazil, and Gimm-Young in

Political blogger and author of How Would a Patriot Act? Glenn Greenwald's BUSH AGONISTES, examining the character of George W. Bush and legacy of his administration, focusing his analysis on the President's flaws, to Sean Desmond at Crown, for publication in summer 2007 (world)

EINSTEIN, PICASSO and EMPIRE OF THE STARS author Arthur I. Miller's DECIPHERING 137: Jung, Pauli, and the Quest for the Primal Number, based on original archival research and newly available personal correspondence, an account of the scientist Wolfgang Pauli and his relationship with Carl Jung, who helped him unearth the roots of his obsession about 137, a number that reflects deep symmetries of nature and hints at the origins of the universe itself, to Angela von der Lippe at Norton, in a very nice deal, by Peter Tallack at Conville & Walsh (World English)


Don Mattingly and Jim Rosenthal's MATTINGLY ON HITTING: The Ultimate Guide to Batting .300, a professional guide to hitting a baseball by one of the Yankee greats -- now the premiere Yankee batting coach -- which covers stance, proper balance, and coverage of the strike zone to the mechanics of a fluid swing, to Michael Homler at Griffin, in a nice deal (World)


Director of design research at Yahoo John Boyd and Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo's THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE, on how your perceptions on time influence every facet of your life and the power of time in our modern world, to Leslie Meredith at Free Press, at auction, by Gillian MacKenzie at the Gillian MacKenzie Agency (NA)


Craig Seymour's LUTHER: The Life and Longing of Luther Vandross, to Prophet King and Brilliant Pictures, by Caron Knauer of Caron K Literary Enterprises.


You be the jury...

From Information Clearing House:

Senate Hearing on Pre-War Iraq Intelligence, Points Finger at Vice-President: Watch the testimony. Then judge for yourself whether this administration's machinations descended to the utterly condemnable.


The church WILL take over the states...

From :

Here's an excerpt:

"And, according to Michael Harris, in the spring semester of 2004, Patrick Henry College had more interns in the White House than any other college in the nation.

2 It can happen here because of a religious right-wing militancy.It can happen here because by 2004 The Christian Coalition gave 42 out of 100 United States senators a rating of 100%. More than half of the senators received ratings of 83% by the militant Christian Coalition.

It can happen here because sincere religious ideologues are rampant in our country, and they mean business....I want to repeat it, slowly, so that it will sink in:


The survey did not end there, however. It contained more surprises. More shocking still, only one-half of the students surveyed said that a newspaper should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories....

NOTE: continue reading this post at URL above.


Bush violates his oath time after time...How long are we going to stand for it?

From Progressive via :

Bush Goes After the New York Times
By Matthew Rothschild
The Progressive
Monday 26 June 2006

Back during the 1790s under the Alien and Sedition Acts, then during the Civil War and again during World War I, the government prosecuted editors.

It's not a practice that thrills me, as an editor.

Nor should it thrill you, for that matter, because it's about as blatant a violation of the First Amendment as there is.

But that didn't stop Representative Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, from wanting to get the cuffs out on the editors of The New York Times.

"We're at war," he said, "and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous."

King said he would ask Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to "begin an investigation and prosecution of The New York Times - the reporters, the editors, and the publisher."

Dick Cheney also dumped on the Times, saying that "some of the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs." This most offensive Vice President said, "That offends me."

Taking his cue from Cheney, as usual, Bush on Monday said, "For people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America." The revelation, he added, "makes it harder to win the war on terror."

And Gonzales himself, who is supposed to be the leading law enforcement officer of the United States and is sworn to uphold the Constitution, has also been warning ominously about prosecuting journalists.

What King, Cheney, Bush, Gonzales, and many rightwing pundits don't seem to appreciate is that we, the American people, need to have a free press to check the excesses of government.

Such a free press has never been needed more so than today, when the Bush Administration has taken excess to the nth degree.

To my eyes, The New York Times has not been aggressive enough. It held the NSA spying story for more than a year, and it let Judith Miller cozy up to the Iraq War cheerleaders and placed some of their propaganda on the front page.

"Our biggest failures have generally been when we failed to dig deep enough or to report fully enough," Bill Keller, editor of the Times, acknowledged in a letter to readers on June 25.

He also revealed just how solicitous the Times has become of the Administration's views.

"Our decision to publish the story of the Administration's penetration of the international banking system followed weeks of discussion between Administration officials and The Times, not only the reporter who wrote the story but senior editors, including me," Keller wrote. "We listened patiently and attentively. . . . We weighed most heavily the Administration's concern that describing this program would endanger it."

But the President doesn't deserve a seat at the editorial meetings of The New York Times - or any other newspaper. That is not his place. He is commander in chief, not editor in chief.

It is up to reporters, and editors, and publishers to decide what is news - not the branch of government they are supposed to be covering.

Once the President takes over that job, the fourth estate has lost its function.

So before Gonzales, Cheney, Bush, and King throw Bill Keller and Arthur Sulzberger Jr in the hoosegow, they might want to consult a copy the Constitution, if they can still find one lying around.


Lincoln: Bad government? Overthrow them....

From Capitol Hill Blue :

The Rant: The coup to overthrow the Constitution
I fear, sadly, the United States of America moves closer and closer each day to a dictatorship, ruled by a megalomaniacal despot determined to destroy the Constitution, our basic freedoms and the checks and balances that have kept our government under control for more than two centuries...

OK...Go read that Rant and for sure, read the comments that follow. Personally, I approve of the guy with the shovel...


Monday, June 26, 2006

Senate did good..House will kill what Senate did...

From Washington Post via :

Senate Committee Acts to Restore Protection for Whistle-Blowers
By Stephen Barr
The Washington Post
Monday 26 June 2006

In a breakthrough for advocates of whistle-blower rights, the Senate has approved an amendment that would tighten up protections for federal employees who expose waste, fraud, abuse and threats to public safety.

A bipartisan group of senators, led by Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), won unanimous consent last week to include the amendment in the fiscal 2007 defense authorization bill. The amendment was based on a whistle-blower bill introduced by Akaka last year.

Federal employees "who put their country before their personal well-being should not be restrained because of fear of retaliation for doing what's right," Akaka said in a statement.

Numerous federal whistle-blowers have complained in recent years that agencies fail to handle their cases in a confidential manner and to ensure they do not suffer reprisals from their superiors.

The Akaka amendment would permit federal employees to claim whistle-blower protection for "any" disclosure they make of wrongdoing. According to Akaka, the amendment would restore and clarify congressional intent as to what type of whistle-blowing is protected and where it may take place.

The 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act sought to protect federal employees from reprisals and retribution for speaking out on waste, fraud and abuse inside the government.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled that federal employees have no protection for disclosures made to immediate supervisors or co-workers, for statements made in connection with their normal employment duties, or for statements of publicly known facts.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that public employees cannot seek First Amendment protection in sounding an alarm but must rely on federal and state laws to protect them from reprisals.

Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the amendment "reverses the steady erosion of whistle-blower protections caused by employment practices that circumvent current protections and adverse court decisions."

Akaka and Collins were joined by Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) in sponsoring the amendment. Akaka praised Collins for helping "forge the consensus needed" to pass the amendment.

"The need to act now was heightened because of last month's Supreme Court decision that limits whistle-blower protection under the First Amendment. It's unacceptable for the courts to add another deterrence to federal whistle-blowing," Akaka said.

The House version of the defense bill does not address whistle-blower rights, which means that the Akaka amendment will be taken up by House-Senate negotiators who will write a final defense bill. But whistle-blower groups called the Senate action a milestone event in what has become a six-year campaign to strengthen employee protections.

"We're elated," said Tom Devine , legal director for the Government Accountability Project.


CIA doing its best to kill book publications...

From Publishers Weekly:

NOTE: Same as they've done to former CIA agent, TJ Waters' book, "Class 11", the CIA tried to kill another former CIA agent's book. Here's the story on that one:

Book by High-Ranking Agent In Conflict with Tenet Resurfaces at Carroll & Graf

Former CIA European operations chief Tyler Drumheller and former CIA director George Tenet have clashed in their respective accounts of when agency leaders and senior Administration officials became aware of the unreliability of intelligence provided by the Iraqi defector known as Curveball, as first outlined in a presidential commission's report last year. Over the weekend the Washington Post added a front page story drawing on interviews with Drumheller that "add new detail about the CIA's embrace of a source whose credibility was already unraveling" (and he was featured on 60 Minutes in late April as well, talking in part about assertions by Iraq's foreign minister-turned-double agent Naji Sabri that the country did not have active WMD programs).

The story that the Post misses, however, as Lunch has learned, is that Drumheller's book--originally entitled ON THE BRINK: How the White House Has Compromised American Intelligence, written with Elaine Monahan and at one time scheduled for publication earlier this year--was dropped recently, shortly before publication, by publisher William Morrow.

Drumheller's agent Carmen La Via at the Fifi Oscard Agency says Morrow cancelled the book a few months ago--following completion of the mandated review by the CIA, and not long after the acquisition of George Tenet's book in January by the Harper imprint. La Via says that the publisher "blamed it on the CIA, because the agency took out some specific names of people and names of countries--all of which are very obvious," like the source of a "10 Downing Street memo" and the name Turkey. La Via says the HarperCollins "legal department said [the cancellation] had nothing to do with" a sister division acquiring Tenet's book, but "the attorneys that got involved feel it is because they bought the Tenet."

Tenet's attorney Robert Barnett tells Lunch, "It's the first I have heard that Mr. Drumheller even had a book. Certainly our deal with Harper had nothing to do with whatever befell his book." HarperMorrow publisher Michael Morrison had no comment, and acquiring editor Mauro di Preta did not return our call.

Regardless of the rationale for Morrow's decision, La Via was disappointed that following the CIA's review of the manuscript, "they didn't go to bat for the author," citing as contrast Crown's efforts in support of former CIA agent and author of JAWBREAKER Gary Berntsen, even after considerable required redactions by the agency.

Drumheller's manuscript--in the form cleared by the CIA--was resubmitted to a small number of houses and acquired in principal shortly after BEA by Carroll & Graf editor-in-chief Philip Turner, who presented it in a pre-sales meeting last week, following the recent execution of cancellation paperwork by HarperCollins. Turner says "I don't think we'll announce a first printing of less than 100,000 copies." Tentatively scheduled for publication in early 2007 (when Tenet's book is also due out), Turner notes that it's possible the book will be moved up.

Drumheller's April 60 Minutes appearance reportedly came about as a result of initial publicity efforts for the Morrow version of the book, and Turner says that "TV newsmagazines have shown interest in another piece, so we are going to play by their schedule to a degree.

"Washington PostMorrow edition as listed on


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Helen Thomas gets impatient with Dems....


Friday, June 23, 2006
Democrats need a new script

WASHINGTON -- When are the Democrats going to get their act together?

Surely, they are not going to let President Bush's political guru, Karl Rove, snooker them in the mid-term November election campaign as he did in the past two presidential elections.What is he going to pull out of the hat? Soft on terrorism? Gay marriage? Flag burning? 9/11?

Are the Democrats going to be such easy prey again, neutralized by phony wedge issues and neglectful of the real issue, which is the administration's flagrant use of falsehoods to justify a war of choice? It could happen again. The leaderless Democrats, speaking in a cacophony, are being outgunned by the conservatives and members of their own party representing the Democratic Leadership Council who are at heart "Republican lite."

There are a handful, including Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a Vietnam veteran who is calling for a speedy U.S. pullout from Iraq. He also took a swipe at Rove on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday for pushing the war while "sitting in his big air-conditioned office on his big, fat backside, saying 'Stay the course.' "He was responding to Rove's speech in New Hampshire last week in which Rove attacked Democrats for what he called "that party's old pattern of cutting and running."

Rove -- who prides himself on being a history buff -- obviously did not remember when President Ford ordered U.S. troops out of Vietnam in April 1975. They departed -- some clinging by their fingertips to helicopters -- as North Vietnamese forces advanced on Saigon. At that time Ford said at Tulane University: "We, of course, are saddened indeed by the events in Indochina."But these events, tragic as they are, portend neither the end of the world nor of America's leadership in the world."

Summing up, he added: "The fate of responsible men and women everywhere, (meaning the South Vietnamese) rests in their own hands, not in ours."Amen.

Polls show that the American people -- including many Republicans -- are beginning to turn against the war. In addition to an endless war for no known U.S. objective, there are a host of other issues that Democrats should embrace to hit home to every American.

They could shout from the rooftops against the chipping away at the Bill of Rights and expansion of presidential power. Bush has asserted the right to wiretap and eavesdrop on any American without a warrant in the name of fighting terrorism. He has asserted presidential power beyond stated constitutional rights and there is no Republican gutsy enough to call his hand.

The administration also has detained hundreds of suspected terrorists in limbo without charges or trials.And then there are the shameful alleged secret prisons abroad where prisoners may be subjected to torture under interrogation.

The fact that millions of Americans lack health insurance is a theme Democrats should campaign on. The Democrats should support universal health care. When the administration lays down the law in the prescription drug program that drug prices are not negotiable, who is it working for?

Another rich target for Democrats: Bush and the Republican Congress cut taxes for the richest people in the country while fighting to keep the 10-year-old minimum wage at $5.15.Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., said last week that the "divide between rich and poor in this country has reached outrageous proportions." He urged passage of Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy's bill to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour in three stages.

And how about the cuts in homeland security funding for vulnerable New York and Washington?

The Democrats also could hit upon our diminished image around the world and loss of credibility. As Bush prepared to visit Europe this week, Die Zeit, a German weekly, declared that Americans have "lost their moral credibility in Iraq."The newspaper also said "America's entire Iraq policy is out of control."That's what the Democrats should be saying.

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers.
Copyright 2006 Hearst Newspapers


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Bush: Something to strut about...

From a writer:


1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20520


I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving record has been "lost" and is not available.


I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam.


I graduated from Yale University with a low C average. I was a cheerleader.


I ran for U.S. Congress and lost. I began my career in the oil business in Midland, Texas, in 1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock. I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. With the help of my father and our friends in the oil industry, including Enron CEO Ken Lay, I was elected governor of Texas.


I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America. I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money. I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history. With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after losing by over 500,000 votes.


I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record. I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week. I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury. I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history. I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period. I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period. I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.
In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.

I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleezza Rice, had a Chevron oil tanker named after her. I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President. I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations. My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron.

My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision. I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip- offs in history.

I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed. I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history. I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts. I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S. history. I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States' government.

I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history. I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission. I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law. I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention. I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election). I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television. I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period. After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history. I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protests against any person in the history of mankind.

I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community. I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families-in-wartime. In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on our British friends. I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security. I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster," a WMD.

I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden [sic] to justice.


All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view. All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view. All records regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.

I am a member of the Republican Party.



Repubs/BushCo plan to kill Federal Protections....

From via :

White House, GOP Leaders Plan All-Out Assault on Federal Protections
Friday 23 June 2006

Apparently rushing to lock in a long-sought goal before the fall elections, GOP congressional leaders may bring to a vote within weeks a proposal that could literally wipe out any federal program that protects public health or the environment - or for that matter civil rights, poverty programs, auto safety, education, affordable housing, Head Start, workplace safety or any other activity targeted by anti-regulatory forces.

With strong support from the Bush White House and the Republican Study Committee, the proposal would create a "sunset commission" - an unelected body with the power to recommend whether a program lives or dies, and then move its recommendations through Congress on a fast-track basis with limited debate and no amendments.

Three leading proposals have been introduced and are being winnowed into a final version. They would give the White House some - or total - authority to nominate members to the commission. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has confirmed that his office is coordinating development of a final version for prompt floor action.

Sunset commissions have been proposed, and defeated, before. But public interest veterans say the current situation is unlike any in the past, because the House Republican Study Committee, which includes some of the most anti-regulatory members of Congress, has secured guaranteed floor consideration of a sunset bill.

If such a bill should become law, the sunset commission could be packed with industry lobbyists and representatives from industry-funded think tanks, and could conduct its business in secrecy. Two of the sunset proposals under consideration would mandate that programs die after they are reviewed, unless Congress takes action to save them.

Several environmental programs have been targeted during past sunset attempts. Experts predict those would be among the first a sunset commission would review. Among them: the Energy Star Program; federal support for mass transit; the State Energy Program, which supports numerous state and local energy renewable efficiency programs; the Clean School Bus Program; the Land and Water Conservation Fund; federal grants for Wastewater infrastructure; a national children's health study that examines factors leading to such problems as premature birth, autism, obesity, asthma, and exposures to pesticides, mercury and other toxic chemicals.

A coalition of public interest groups is fighting to block enactment of a sunset commission. Information is available through the Sunset Commission Action Center at OMB Watch.


Friday, June 23, 2006

US reporters had better get on this...NOW...

From The Guardian via Greg Palast:

Behind the “Delay” in Renewing Law is Scheme for Theft of ‘08White Sheets Changed for Spreadsheets
by Greg Palast
For The Guardian
June 23, 2006 [New York]

Don’t kid yourself. The Republican Party’s decision yesterday to “delay” the renewal of the Voting Rights Act has not a darn thing to do with objections of the Republican’s White Sheets Caucus. Complaints by a couple of Good Ol' Boys to legislation has never stopped the GOP leadership from rolling over dissenters. This is a strategic stall — meant to de-criminalize the Republican Party's new game of challenging voters of color by the hundreds of thousands.

In the 2004 Presidential race, the GOP ran a massive multi-state, multi-million-dollar operation to challenge the legitimacy of Black, Hispanic and Native-American voters. The methods used broke the law -- the Voting Rights Act. And while the Bush Administration's Civil Rights Division grinned and looked the other way, civil rights lawyers are circling, preparing to sue to stop the violations of the Act before the 2008 race.

Therefore, Republicans have promised to no longer break the law -- not by going legit … but by eliminating the law.

The Act was passed in 1965 after the Ku Klux Klan and other upright citizens found they could use procedural tricks -- "literacy tests," poll taxes and more -- to block citizens of color from casting ballots.

De-criminalizing the "caging" lists

Here's what happened in '04 -- and what's in store for '08. In the 2004 election, over THREE MILLION voters were challenged at the polls. No one had seen anything like it since the era of Jim Crow and burning crosses.

In 2004, voters were told their registrations had been purged or that their addresses were "suspect." Denied the right to the regular voting booths, these challenged voters were given "provisional" ballots. Over a million of these provisional ballots (1,090,729 of them) were tossed in the electoral dumpster uncounted. Funny thing about those ballots. About 88% were cast by minority voters. This isn't a number dropped on me from a black helicopter. They come from the raw data of the US Election Assistance Commission in Washington, DC.

At the heart of the GOP's mass challenge of voters were what the party's top brass called, "caging lists" -- secret files of hundreds of thousands of voters, almost every one from a Black-majority voting precinct. When our investigations team, working for BBC TV, got our hands on these confidential files in October 2004, the Republicans told us the voters listed were their potential "donors." Really?

The sheets included pages of men from homeless shelters in Florida. Donor lists, my ass. Every expert told us, these were "challenge lists," meant to stop these Black voters from casting ballots. When these "caged" voters arrived at the polls in November 2004, they found their registrations missing, their right to vote blocked or their absentee ballots rejected because their addresses were supposedly "fraudulent."

Why didn't the GOP honchos 'fess up to challenging these allegedly illegal voters? Because targeting voters of color is AGAINST THE LAW. The law in question is the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Act says you can't go after groups of voters if you choose your targets based on race. Given that almost all the voters on the GOP hit list are Black, the illegal racial profiling is beyond even Karl Rove's ability to come up with an alibi. The Republicans target Black folk not because they don't like the color of their skin. They don't like the color of their vote: Democrat.

For that reason, the GOP included on its hit list Jewish retirement homes in Florida. Apparently, the GOP was also gunning for the Elderly of Zion.

These so-called "fraudulent" voters, in fact, were not fraudulent at all. Page after page, as we've previously reported, are Black soldiers sent overseas. The Bush campaign used their absence from their US homes to accuse them of voting from false addresses. Now that the GOP has been caught breaking the Voting Rights law, they have found a way to keep using their expensively obtained "caging" lists: let the law expire next year.

If the Voting Rights Act dies in 2007, the 2008 race will be open season on dark-skinned voters. Only the renewal of the Voting Rights Act can prevent the planned racial wrecking of democracy. "

Pre-clearance" and the Great Blackout of 2000

Before the 2000 presidential balloting, then Jeb Bush's Secretary of State purged thousands of Black citizens' registrations on the grounds that they were "felons" not entitled to vote. Our review of the files determined that the crimes of most on the list was nothing more than VWB -- Voting While Black. That "felon scrub," as the state called it, had to be "pre-cleared" under the Voting Rights Act. That is, "scrubs" and other changes in procedures must first be approved by the US Justice Department. The Florida felon scrub slipped through this "pre-clearance" provision because Katherine Harris' assistant assured the government the scrub was just a clerical matter. Civil rights lawyers are now on the alert for such mendacity.

The Burning Cross Caucus of the Republican Party is bitching that "pre-clearance" of voting changes applies only to Southern states. I have to agree that singling out the Old Confederacy is a bit unfair. But the solution is not to smother the Voting Rights law but to spread its safeguards to all fifty of these United States.

White Sheets to Spread Sheets

Republicans argue that the racial voting games and the threats of the white-hooded Klansmen that kept African-Americans from the ballot box before the 1965 passage of the Voting Rights Act no longer threaten Black voters. That's true. When I look over the "caging lists" and the "scrub sheets," it's clear to me that the GOP has traded in white sheets for spreadsheets.

Greg Palast is the author of Armed Madhouse: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War. Order it here.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cheney: One sick, slimy s.o.b...and EVIL...

From the Village Voice:

Liberty Beat
Congress and Judges Gagged
Arlen Specter and a CIA torture victim know: Only the Oval Office decides what the law is
by Nat Hentoff
June 19th, 2006 6:05 AM
Arlen Specter, a Republican and an unusually independent chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been publicly and insistently charging that the president violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by authorizing the National Security Agency's secret, warrantless eavesdropping on our phone calls and e-mails. The administration's answer, however, was underlined on May 8 by John Negroponte, chief of all the intelligence agencies:

This government, he said, is "absolutely not" engaging in warrantless monitoring of domestic calls. Negroponte ignored, as does the president, the further revelation that AT&T and Verizon are collaborating with the NSA to collect millions, actually, trillions, of our phone records (the numbers we call and those who call us)—which are then also linked to FBI, CIA, and other agencies' databases.

Despite the concerted opposition of Dick Cheney (who is in charge of the administration's "dark arts," as he calls them), Chairman Specter wants to subpoena AT&T and Verizon to find out who in the administration told them that their complicity—absent any judicial supervision—with the lawless NSA is legal.

Even if Specter issues those subpoenas, he appears resigned to the blank wall he'll find, since he says the telephone companies will refer to the "state secrets" privilege and refuse to answer any of his questions that have to do with the NSA. And Dick Cheney has ordered them not to testify.
So, once again, as USA Today noted in a May 18 editorial, "Congress may as well be deaf and blind." Arlen Specter has been the only congressional chairman who keeps trying to investigate these felonies committed by the president and NSA. Now he has been blocked by the administration's escape from accountability through "state secrets." (In most of these dismissals, the lawyers for the plaintiffs are not even told what "the secrets" are.)

But what of the independent judiciary in our constitutional separation of powers? On May 12, Federal District Judge T.S. Ellis III in Virginia killed a suit by Khaled el-Masri—Khaled el-Masri v. George Tenet, et. al—whose kidnapping and "rendition" by the CIA to be tortured has been repeatedly reported—in detail—in this country and around the world, including the Voice.
A broken man because of his ordeal, el-Masri seeks a mere $75,000 in compensation from our government for five months of torture, beginning in December 2003. Moreover, this German citizen was kidnapped by mistake. The agent in charge of the Al Qaeda division of the Counterterrorist Center screwed up because el-Masri has the same name as a person suspected of links to terrorism.

"The government is moving to dismiss this case at the outset on the basis of a fiction that discussion in this courtroom of the very same facts being discussed throughout the world will harm [this] nation." If the ruling is upheld on appeal—and it very likely will be, given the two justices Bush has placed on the Supreme Court—the total disappearance of Khaled el-Masri v. Tenet will, as the ACLU's Ben Wizner says, "give a broad immunity to the government to shield even the most egregious activities."

Judge Ellis's 17-page ruling is dramatically unusual in showing his discomfort at being shackled by the precedent of previous judges allowing the government to whisper to them, "state secrets" and usurp their roles as judges of the facts and the law.

As if to expiate his surrendering of his independence to the administration, Ellis gives a lot of space to el-Masri's claims. He calls them allegations, but they strike me as weighing on his conscience.

For example, says Judge Ellis, a "blindfolded" El-Masri—after first having been snatched to Macedonia—"was led to a building where he was beaten, stripped of his clothing, and sodomized with a foreign object [and] dragged naked to a corner of the room [where] he claims he saw seven or eight men dressed in black and wearing black ski masks.

"[El-Masri] contends that these men were members of a CIA 'black renditions' team, operating pursuant to unlawful CIA policies at the direction of defendant [then CIA director George] Tenet."

The judge continues: "After being dressed in a diaper . . . shackled and dragged to an airplane . . . his captors injected him with a sedative," and he wound up in the notorious CIA interrogation facility, the "Salt Pit," an abandoned brick factory in Afghanistan. For the next four months, "in a small, cold cell," he was repeatedly (and forcibly) interrogated. His hunger strike was broken—like those of the prisoners in Guantánamo—by force-feeding. (This brutal practice, as I have written in previous columns, locks the prisoner in a metal chair where, while being "fed" through a tube, he urinates and defecates on himself.)

At last, the CIA, knowing it had the wrong man, flew el-Masri, blindfolded, to Albania where he was dumped on the side of an abandoned road. Albanian authorities got him back to Germany where he found his wife and four children had gone to Lebanon because his wife thought he had abandoned them.

Says Judge Ellis: "El-Masri asserts he remains deeply traumatized." He hasn't been able to work. One of his children is frightened if his father goes out alone.

At the end of his decision, Judge Ellis, somewhat traumatized himself, writes: "Putting aside all the legal issues, if el-Masri's allegations are true or essentially true, then all fair-minded people, including those who believe . . . that this lawsuit cannot proceed [because it involves "state secrets"] must also agree that El-Masri has suffered injuries as a result of our country's mistake and deserves a remedy." (Emphasis added.)

The judge continued: "Yet . . . the only sources of that remedy must be the Executive Branch or the Legislative Branch, not the Judicial Branch."

But the executive branch, brandishing "state secrets," has forced this judge to dismiss the case! And the legislative branch has repeatedly refused to conduct an investigation into these "renditions" that kidnap suspects to be tortured—as has been verified in meticulously documented reports by Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, Amnesty International, and NYU's Center on Law and Security.

So there is no remedy for Khaled el-Masri in this country which holds its "values" and rule of law as a model to the world.


Talk about EMBARASSING!!!

Emailed from a writer friend :

The Dam

This is an actual letter sent to a man named Ryan DeVries by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality, State of Pennsylvania. This guy's response is hilarious, but read the State's letter before you get to the response letter.

(State's letter):
SUBJECT: DEQ File No.97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Lycoming County

Dear Mr. DeVries:

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity:

Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.

A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity.

A review of the Department's files shows that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated.

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2006.

Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff.

Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action..

We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.

David L. Price
District Representative and Water Management Division.

Here is the actual response sent back by Mr. DeVries:

Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Lycoming County

Dear Mr. Price,

Your certified letter dated 12/17/02 has been handed to me to respond to. I am the legal landowner but not the Contractor at 2088 Dagget Lane, Trout Run, Pennsylvania.

A couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood "debris" dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond. While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of natures building materials "debris." I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose.

I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.

As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity.

My first dam question to you is:
(1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers,
(2) do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to
said dam request?

If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated.

I have several concerns. My first concern is, aren't the beavers entitled to legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation -- so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer. The Department's dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event, causing flooding, is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling their dam names.

If you want the stream "restored" to a dam free-flow condition please contact the beavers -- but if you are going to arrest them, they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being unable to read English.

In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam rights than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers' Dams).

So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until 1/31/2006? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.

In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real environmental quality, health, problem in the area. It is the bears! Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone.

If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! The bears are not careful where they dump!

Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office. Bureaucracy!!



Bush's "Do it it now" half-cocked stupidity...

From LA Times via :

For N. Korean Missile, US Defense Is Hit or Miss
By Peter Spiegel
The Los Angeles Times
Thursday 22 June 2006

Washington - The Bush administration has spent nearly $43 billion over the last five years on missile defense systems, but with North Korea poised to launch its most advanced missile yet, U.S. government assessments and investigative reports indicate little confidence in the centerpiece portion of the program.

Eleven ground-based interceptors in Alaska and at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California, the cornerstone of the administration's new system, have not undergone a successful test in nearly four years and have been beset by glitches that investigators blame, at least in part, on President Bush's order in 2002 to make the program operational even before it had been fully tested.

In all, the interceptors hit dummy missiles in five out of 10 tests, but these were under controlled conditions that critics say do not reflect the challenges of an actual missile launch.

A little-noticed study by the Government Accountability Office issued in March found that program officials were so concerned with potential flaws in the first nine interceptors now in operation that they considered taking them out of their silos and returning them to the manufacturer for "disassembly and remanufacture."

"Quality control procedures may not have been rigorous enough to ensure that unreliable parts, or parts that were inappropriate for space applications, would be removed from the manufacturing process," the report says.

Since Bush took office in 2001, the ballistic missile defense system has been one of the administration's most controversial military priorities, advancing an array of programs designed to down enemy missiles in various stages of flight.

In recent days, Pentagon officials have remained coy about the capabilities and alert status of the system, leading to speculation that they may be preparing to try to shoot down the North Korean missile, believed to be the first trial of a long-range Taepodong 2. The missile is thought to be capable of reaching U.S. bases in Japan, the U.S. territory of Guam and possibly Alaska or Hawaii.

The problems in the ground-based system, as well as the ongoing expense of the war in Iraq, have not damped the administration's enthusiasm for the program. The Pentagon has requested $10.4 billion for missile defense in next year's budget, which would be its largest annual grant to date. And according to the GAO, the Pentagon plans to spend $58 billion, or 14% of its research budget, on missile defense over the next six years.

The vast majority of funding has gone to the ground-based interceptor system, designed to take out long-range missiles as they arc toward a target. Interceptors are rockets that have missile-seeking devices to destroy incoming weapons.

In addition to the interceptors, nine at Ft. Greely in Alaska and the other two in California, the system includes a series of complex radar upgrades and a sophisticated command system that enables all the components to interact.

The ground-based system has received most of the attention and funding. But missile defense systems based on Navy ships equipped with sophisticated Aegis radars, which have proved more successful in testing, have been winning a growing share of the funding, at least in part because of the ground-based devices' failures.

The U.S. military's most high-profile involvement in any North Korean launch is likely to come from the Aegis-equipped destroyers that patrol the coastal waters off the Korean peninsula. But the purpose of the radars is to track enemy missiles rather than to shoot them down.

The U.S. first sent a destroyer with Aegis radars upgraded for tracking ballistic missile launches into international waters near North Korea in October 2004, when the guided missile destroyer Curtis Wilbur was deployed as part of the Navy's first missile defense mission.

None of the destroyers are equipped with rockets that can shoot down enemy missiles, said Dave Kier, who oversees the Aegis missile defense system for prime contractor Lockheed Martin. Instead, they are used to feed real-time data on missile launches to the U.S. Strategic Command, the Pentagon division responsible for all missile defense systems.

Three larger Navy cruisers - the Shiloh, Lake Erie, and Port Royal - are equipped with antimissile rockets, but they are not expected to be directly involved in any response to North Korea's possible launch.

These rockets are being developed to combat shorter-range rockets rather than intercontinental ballistic missiles such as the Taepodong 2.

For its part, the Shiloh is scheduled to undergo a test to shoot down a decoy missile launched from Hawaii today. Unlike the ground-based system, cruisers have hit their targets in six of seven previous tests.

Pentagon officials said today's test had been scheduled for months and was not related to the current standoff with North Korea.

Because of the repeated misses by the ground-based system - including back-to-back attempts just over a year ago in which the interceptors failed to launch - Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, suspended all ground-based tests early last year.

He ordered two separate teams - one internal and one run by three outside experts - to investigate the glitches. In December, an interceptor missile was launched without problem, but it was not aimed at a dummy missile.

In spring, Obering signed off on a new test schedule for the ground-based system. The first test was planned for summer, and a spokesman said the move was a sign that Obering now believed the interceptors were back on track.

During testimony on Capitol Hill last month, Obering said that although the system was not yet on alert, "if we had to use the system in an emergency, I fully believe that it would work."

But the Government Accountability Office study and a similar study issued in February by the Pentagon's internal Operational Test and Evaluation office, a department created to take independent looks at the military's biggest weapons programs, paint a far less optimistic picture.

The annual Pentagon report says "there is insufficient evidence to support a confident assessment" of the latest components installed in the system. The report does, however, praise Obering for overhauling the program.

The GAO is even more skeptical in its assessment, saying that even though individual technologies involved in knocking a long-range missile out of the sky have been tested, the agency has yet to prove that the full system works.

Much of the trouble, both the GAO and Operational Test and Evaluation Office reports argue, can be tied to the administration's decision to push the system into operation even as it was being developed. In December 2002, Bush ordered the Missile Defense Agency to develop a limited capability in Alaska by 2004, a process that authorized the Pentagon to field components before they were fully tested.

Both the Missile Defense Agency and the GAO have laid some of the blame on Boeing, the ground-based program's lead contractor. Obering docked Boeing $107 million in bonuses last year for the failures, though both the company and the Defense Agency say relations have improved since the move in February. A Boeing statement said the company had revamped and improved its oversight processes, but the GAO was still projecting significant cost overruns.

The most troubling failure appears to be potential glitches in the interceptors. The Government Accountability Office said officials involved in the ground-based system recommended that the Missile Defense Agency remove the first nine interceptors entirely, after concerns that the rockets may contain parts that are not "adequately reliable" or "appropriate for use in space."

The agency has agreed to take them out of their silos to check the parts, but not before the missiles go through scheduled upgrades next year. That would mean that the first test since the hiatus, which will be the first at Vandenberg, will involve a suspect interceptor missile.

"It's not a perfect system; it never will be," said one person familiar with the issues involved, speaking on condition of anonymity while discussing internal deliberations. Officials are debating whether the system now is good enough to provide "a high probability" of success, he said.

"They're some who think that it is, and some think it isn't."


Forget the facts: Just frame it so you win...

From :

Why are the media depicting GOP support for unpopular war as a political winner?

Summary: As Senate Democrats debate two proposals regarding U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, news outlets have gone out of their way to frame the Democratic differences over how soon to redeploy forces as politically favorable for the Republicans while not reporting that the Democrats' position is shared by a majority of Americans, that the war supported by Republicans is deeply unpopular with the American public, and that the GOP's alternative plan appears to involve remaining in Iraq indefinitely.

As Senate Democrats debate two proposals regarding U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, news outlets have gone out of their way to frame the Democratic differences over how soon to redeploy forces as politically favorable for the Republicans. For instance,'s The Note declared on June 21 that Democrats are purportedly "on the precipice of making Iraq a 2006 political winner for the Republican Party." But if the media are right that Republicans stand to gain politically from this debate, it is only because the media have already pronounced them the winners, thereby helping to bring about the result that they are predicting. If rather, the media discussed below were to simply report relevant information -- that the backers of the two Democratic proposals are united in their belief that the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq, that this position is shared by a majority of Americans, that the war supported by Republicans is deeply unpopular with the American public, and that the GOP's alternative plan appears to involve remaining in Iraq indefinitely, but no less than three years -- then their assessment of the political winners and losers in this debate would necessarily be very different.

CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash's report from the Senate on the June 21 edition of CNN Live Today provided a case study in how the media are reinforcing the baseless narrative that the Republicans are winning the rhetorical battle over Iraq. In characterizing the debate, Bash emphasized that despite Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's recent efforts "to find consensus," the two Democratic camps have arrived at "very different views" about how to move forward in Iraq. She further reported that they have decided to debate "the one thing that actually does divide Democrats, which is whether or not U.S. troops should come home." But the disagreement between the two proposals being debated by Senate Democrats is not whether U.S. forces should be redeployed out of Iraq, as Bash reported, but rather how soon. The nonbinding amendment sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) calls for "the beginning of a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of the year" and urges the administration to "submit to Congress its plan for continued redeployment beyond 2006." The measure put forth by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), meanwhile, sets a deadline of July 1, 2007, for the full redeployment of U.S. troops. By mischaracterizing the focus of the Democratic debate in this manner, Bash exaggerated the degree to which the party is actually divided and lent support to the Republicans' repeated claim that the Democrats are in disarray over the issue.
Not only did Bash mischaracterize the Democrats' debate, she also falsely suggested that it is the Democrats -- and not the party voting to continue indefinitely a costly, unpopular war -- that stand to lose politically. In fact, the position articulated by the backers of the two proposals in favor of troop redeployment is in line with public opinion -- a fact ignored by numerous other news outlets. A poll by CNN -- Bash's network -- conducted June 14-15 showed that 53 percent of respondents favored a timetable for withdrawal, while 41 percent opposed such a measure. Similarly, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted June 9-12 found that 57 percent of respondents supported reducing troop levels now, compared with 35 percent who favored maintaining the current deployment.

In light of these facts, it is unclear how exactly the Democrats' current emphasis on the need for withdrawal is politically perilous. Nonetheless, Bash went on to uncritically report that Republicans "are having nothing short of a field day with what they see going on with the Democratic Party and ... they believe that this fundamentally plays into their plans for this election year." Bash noted that some Democrats "are a little bit worried that Democrats are playing into Republicans' hands." Further, she reported that the Republicans intend to emphasize that "the Democrats want nothing more than to cut and run from Iraq" -- a phrase repeatedly highlighted at the bottom the screen throughout her report.

Just as Bash ignored the fact that a majority of Americans agree with the Democrats' position on Iraq, she failed to note that the war faithfully backed by so many congressional Republicans is deeply unpopular with the public. The CNN poll noted above showed that only 38 percent of respondents supported the war, while 54 percent opposed it. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll similarly found that only 40 percent of those surveyed believed the war was worth "worth the number of U.S. military casualties and the financial cost."

Also absent from Bash's reporting was any mention of the Republicans' plan regarding the war, which apparently consists of keeping significant levels of U.S. troops in Iraq through the end of Bush's presidency. Indeed, during a March 21 press conference, Bush said the complete pullout of troops from Iraq "will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq." Further, The New York Times reported on June 11 that "the administration has begun to look at the costs of maintaining a force of roughly 50,000 troops there for years to come." On June 20, blogger Joshua Micah Marshall summed up the GOP plan -- or lack thereof -- in the context of the current Senate debate:

In terms of domestic politics, this isn't that complicated. President Bush wants to stay in Iraq for at least three more years. Members of his party in Congress agree with him. They don't have a plan. That's where to make this argument because very few people in this country think we should keep our troops there for another three years with our current policy.
Moreover, getting suckered into a debate about deadlines for leaving Iraq is foolish, especially when President Bush has said on the record repeatedly that he plans to keep our troops in Iraq for the remainder of his presidency. He wants them there for at least three more years. What happens after that he'll leave to future presidents. This isn't what Democrats claim. This is what he says. He doesn't say he's willing to keep them there to achieve this or that aim. He's committed to keeping them there.

He doesn't have a plan for what to do in Iraq so he wants to keep troops there for the rest of his presidency. That's his plan: stay long enough that it becomes someone else's problem.
In contrast with Bash's reporting on the Senate debate, contributing editor Chuck Todd wrote in a June 21 column that it is "a bit early to assume that this perceived Republican comeback (there's more swagger right now than polling evidence) is going to hold up." While faulting the Democrats for "let[ting] the GOP and the media dictate the rules of the Iraq debate," he noted that the Democrats "should have taken heart" in a finding in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, which "showed a majority of voters -- including self-described independents (i.e. 'casual' voters) -- say they are more likely to support a congressional candidate who advocates getting out of Iraq in a year."

From the June 21 edition of CNN Live Today:

DARYN KAGAN (host): Well, pushing for a pullout from Iraq, Senate Democrats set the stage for a fiery debate on Capitol Hill today. But even Democrats are divided. Two resolutions are up for debate. One is calling for phased redeployment of U.S. troops in Iraq beginning this year; the other calls for full withdrawal by July of 2007. More on the debate now from congressional correspondent Dana Bash. Dana, good morning.

BASH: Good morning, Daryn. And, you know, the Democratic leader Harry Reid tried very hard over the last several weeks, in a series of meetings, to try to find consensus, to try to rally around one particular measure when it comes to what the Democrats' plan is on Iraq. But the bottom line is there are just very different views. And you just have really laid out the two reasons why: the two plans that we are going to see come forward today.

Bottom line is that Senator John Kerry and also along with [Sen.] Russ Feingold [D-WI] and Senator Barbara Boxer [D-CA], they believe that the only way to go about this is to set a hard and fast deadline of July 1st, 2007. That's their plan right now, to have all U.S. troops come out of Iraq. But if you have any question about where the Democratic leader stands on this, you can just look at the debate -- the schedule for the debate today. He made it so that John Kerry's amendment won't come up until very, very late in the day.

So Senator Kerry's camp sent us some excerpts of the argument that he will make on the Senate floor when he gets there later today. "Setting a deadline," he will say, "to redeploy U.S. troops from Iraq is necessary for success in Iraq and victory in the war on terror. Iraqi politicians have proven they only respond to deadlines, a deadline to transfer authority, deadlines to hold two elections and a referendum, and a deadline to form a government." He will go on to say, "That's why we must change course now, because we need another deadline to get Iraq up to its own two feet and get American troops home."

Now, Kerry's camp -- aides to Kerry -- say that they are gaining support. But at this point, it looks like they might not have many more than about 10 Democratic senators voting for that, ultimately, probably tomorrow morning.

Most of the Democrats will likely vote for an alternative, something sponsored by Senator Carl Levin, the ranking senator on the Armed Services Committee, that doesn't have a hard-and-fast deadline, but simply says that the U.S. should begin a phased withdrawal starting this year.

LEVIN [video clip]: We don't set the end date for it, we set the beginning date. We don't set that beginning date immediately. That would be precipitous. But we say that the open-ended commitment has got to end, and we've got to find a way to leave Iraq in better shape than we found it. But our presence there is contributing as much to instability now as it is to security.

BASH: Now, so far, Daryn, Republicans here in the Senate, over at the White House, are having nothing short of a field day with what they see going on with the Democratic Party and what they will see on the -- play out on the Senate floor this week, as they believe that this fundamentally plays into their plans for this election year, that they want to make Democrats look weak on national defense. And they hope that this will help. And also, we've heard it over and over again, and we'll hear it many times today, the term "cut and run." They will say the Democrats want nothing more than to cut and run from Iraq.

And I can tell you, Daryn, in talking to some Democrats, they are a little bit worried that Democrats are playing into Republicans' hands and that perhaps they made a mistake by making these two issues, these two amendments, about the one thing that actually does divide Democrats, which is whether or not U.S. troops should come home and when, as opposed to a lot of things that they actually agree on, which primarily is the fact that they believe the Bush Iraq war has seen many blunders and that they need to be held to account, and Republicans here in Congress aren't doing that.

From the June 21 edition of The Note, written by the ABC News political unit:
Democrats can deny it all they want (and not all do ...), but they are on the precipice of self-immolating over the issue that has most crippled the Bush presidency and of making facts on the ground virtually meaningless. In other words, they are on the precipice of making Iraq a 2006 political winner for the Republican Party.

If the Democrats can't make cable TV bookers and Washington assignment editors feel there is a dime's worth of difference between something called "Levin" and something called "Kerry," our guess is that the American people won't see much of a difference between those options when they pull their levers (or punch their chads, or whatever) come November. Remember our rule from yesterday, which we paraphrase here: if you have to deny your non-binding resolution amounts to "cut and run," you are losing the battle (and the war -- but not that war).