Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Al Franken vs Coleman...

From Star Tribune:

Last update: January 31, 2007 – 8:24 PM
Franken saying he'll run for Senate
The liberal radio show host and comedian began telephoning Democrats with his decision on Wednesday.
By Rob Hotakainen, Star Tribune

WASHINGTON - Comedian and radio talk show host Al Franken has begun calling Democratic members of Congress and prominent DFLers to tell them he will definitely challenge Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008, the Star Tribune learned Wednesday.

On Monday, Franken announced that he is quitting his radio show on Feb. 14, and he told his audience that they'd be the first to know of his decision. But Franken has been working the phones, telling his political friends he's ready to declare his candidacy.

Franken made calls to at least two members of the Minnesota congressional delegation in Washington and one member of the Legislature to break the news. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity, not wanting to be identified as pre-empting Franken's announcement.
"From his voice to my ears, he's running," said one House member, who relayed the remark via his press secretary.

"I can tell you we got one of those calls," said a top-ranked aide for another House member.
A long-time DFL state House member said she was happy to receive a call from Franken. "He said he's in and he just wanted to let me know."

Franken declined to be interviewed.

"He's not going to comment on his private conversations," said Andy Barr, his spokesman. But he added that Franken has "made no secret" of his interest in Coleman's seat.
No other big-name Democrats have announced plans to challenge Coleman, who's expected to be among the most vulnerable GOP incumbents next year.

Franken, who grew up in St. Louis Park, achieved fame in New York as a comedy writer for NBC-TV's "Saturday Night Live" and went on to become a best-selling author. He moved his radio show to Minneapolis last year and has become increasingly active in Minnesota and national politics.

His Midwest Values political action committee raised more than $1.1 million and he distributed checks of $10,000 each last year to Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Claire McCaskill of Missouri and to Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn.; he gave smaller amounts to dozens of other national and state candidates.

After seeing an account of Franken's calls on the Star Tribune website, Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Ron Carey issued a statement criticizing Franken's "anger and slash-and-burn partisanship."

Coleman himself has had little to say about Franken, but in an interview last year he said he expected him to be "a very strong voice for the far left" and a strong fundraiser. Republicans will try to exploit Franken's ties to Hollywood: Contributors to his political action committee have included Barbra Streisand, Phil Donahue, Larry Hagman and Norman Lear from the entertainment industry, as well as former Minnesota Gov. Wendell Anderson and Minneapolis attorney Sam Kaplan.

Franken expects his years in New York to be an issue in the campaign but has had a ready line as he promotes himself to Minnesota audiences: "If I do run against Norm Coleman in '08, I'll be the only New York Jew in the race who actually grew up in Minnesota."
Coleman grew up in New York and moved to Minnesota as an adult.

Rob Hotakainen is a correspondent in the Star Tribune Washington Bureau: 202-383-0009
Rob Hotakainen •
©2007 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.


10 Senators...sorry s.o.b.s should be shunned....

From American Progress:


After repeated delays by conservatives, the Senate voted 87-10 yesterday to end debate on legislation that will raise the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, from $5.15 to $7.25. The bill is expected to move to a full vote in the next several days.

Ten conservative senators stuck together and voted to further delay raising the minimum wage.

As ThinkProgress detailed in a report last year, at least two of those 10 senators -- Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) -- are multimillionaires with a combined fortune of up to $35.5 million. In financial statements, Gregg shows holdings of between $3,402,000 and $10,055,000, including between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000 in Fleet Bank stock, while Isakson shows holdings of between $7,631,000 and $25,515,000, including millions in Georgia real estate.

Despite their enormous personal wealth, they refuse to grant even a small raise to the nearly 8 million Americans who live on $5.15 an hour.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Why is criminal Bush not in jail?

From the NY Times:

Op-Ed Contributor
Bush Is Not Above the Law

Published: January 31, 2007

LAST August, a federal judge found that the president of the United States broke the law, committed a serious felony and violated the Constitution. Had the president been an ordinary citizen — someone charged with bank robbery or income tax evasion — the wheels of justice would have immediately begun to turn. The F.B.I. would have conducted an investigation, a United States attorney’s office would have impaneled a grand jury and charges would have been brought.

But under the Bush Justice Department, no F.B.I. agents were ever dispatched to padlock White House files or knock on doors and no federal prosecutors ever opened a case.

The ruling was the result of a suit, in which I am one of the plaintiffs, brought against the National Security Agency by the American Civil Liberties Union. It was a response to revelations by this newspaper in December 2005 that the agency had been monitoring the phone calls and e-mail messages of Americans for more than four years without first obtaining warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

In the past, even presidents were not above the law. When the F.B.I. turned up evidence during Watergate that Richard Nixon had obstructed justice by trying to cover up his involvement, a special prosecutor was named and a House committee recommended that the president be impeached.

And when an independent counsel found evidence that President Bill Clinton had committed perjury in the Monica Lewinsky case, the impeachment machinery again cranked into gear, with the spectacle of a Senate trial (which ended in acquittal).

Laws are broken, the federal government investigates, and the individuals involved — even if they’re presidents — are tried and, if found guilty, punished. That is the way it is supposed to work under our system of government. But not this time.

Last Aug. 17, Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit issued her ruling in the A.C.L.U. case. The president, she wrote, had “undisputedly violated” not only the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, but also statutory law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Enacted by a bipartisan Congress in 1978, the FISA statute was a response to revelations that the National Security Agency had conducted warrantless eavesdropping on Americans. To deter future administrations from similar actions, the law made a violation a felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and five years in prison.

Yet despite this ruling, the Bush Justice Department never opened an F.B.I. investigation, no special prosecutor was named, and there was no talk of impeachment in the Republican-controlled Congress.

[click link to continue reading]


The Iran Fantasy...

From Information Clearing House:

Iran, Israel, The Big Lie and The Real Threat
By Frank Scott

"Attempting to portray Iran as a nuclear menace to Israel and the world, in that order, even though it has no nuclear weapons and Israel has hundreds, is not merely a sign of dementia. It is indication of near idiocy in a society that can be repeatedly manipulated into believing such totally crackpot notions that have no foundation in the material world but exist only in a world of superstitious psycho-fantasy.



The Sick! Stinks to high heaven...

From American Progress:


Over the weekend, conservative columnist Robert Novak reported that, a new right-wing advocacy group, has hired Jerome Corsi as a senior political strategist. Vanguard describes itself as an "online community of Americans who believe in conservative values," and Novak claims it is a "right-wing version of the leftist MoveOn.Org."

By hiring Corsi, Vanguard has made it clear that it intends to hit below the belt and be more than just an "online community." Corsi coordinated the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth attacks against Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and plans to use Vanguard to "similarly undermine Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton" for her progressive policy stances.

Media Matters documented Corsi's posts on the right-wing Free Republic site, such as calling Islam "a worthless, dangerous Satanic religion." On Catholicism, Corsi wrote, "Boy buggering in both Islam and Catholicism is okay with the Pope as long as it isn't reported by the liberal press," and called Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) a "fat hog" and asked, "Anybody ask why HELLary couldn't keep BJ Bill satisfied? Not lesbo or anything, is she?"


Monday, January 29, 2007

Bush firing US Attys to put in his handpicked GOPers...

From American Progress:


Since last March, nine U.S. attorneys have been pushed out of their jobs and replaced by conservative loyalists handpicked by the Bush administration.

Several of these ousted prosecutors were working on high-profile cases, such as Carol Lam, who ran the investigation into the corruption of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA). The San Diego Union-Tribune noted that Lam appeared to be the "victim of strong-arm political pressure from Washington, where officials apparently wanted to hand her job to a partisan operative."

While some of the newly appointed U.S. attorneys have strong legal credentials, many have had little experience as prosecutors and "most of them have few, if any, ties to the communities they've been appointed to serve."

For example, Tim Griffin, the U.S. attorney in Arkansas, was a protege of Karl Rove and an official at the Republican National Committee.

Jeff Taylor, U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., was an aide to Sen. Orrin Hatch(R-UT) and served as counselor to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

U.S. Attorney in Kansas City John Wood is married to Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Julie Myers, whose father is former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Richard B. Myers.

Jean Paul Bradshaw, former U.S. attorney under President George H.W. Bush, criticized this administration's political maneuvering: "Under Reagan and the first Bush administration, we worked very hard to push the power out to the locals."


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Conyers tells it like it is...

Here is an event much desired...

From Information Clearing House:

Rep. John Conyers: "Congress Can Fire Bush!":

In a shot over President George W. Bush's bow, Conyers said that Bush likes to fire military advisors, who tell him he can't win the war, but "he can't fire you [the people]. He can't fire us [the Congress], but 'we can fire him.'"

With that line a roar went up in the audience. The loud chant began: "Impeach Bush!"


So what IS Iran doing?

From Information Clearing House:

'Iran is installing 3,000 centrifuges:

Three inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency who arrived in Iran on Saturday are scheduled to visit the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, Iranian state-television reported.

Iran denies MP's centrifuge claims :

An Iranian nuclear official has rejected a statement by a Tehran MP who said Iran had begun installing 3,000 new atomic centrifuges for uranium enrichment

Burns warns Iran against pursing additional centrifuges : A top State Department official has said it would be a "major miscalculation" by Iranian authorities if they go ahead with a reported plan to begin installing 3,000 centrifuges at its Natanz underground facility.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

First came Eric Clapton, now the Gun Nose guy...

From North County Times:

Escondido artist-songwriter gets the 'Neo-Conservative Blues'
By: JOEL D. AMOS - For the North County Times

The "blues" found its way to Tom Carroll on Election Day 2006. The Escondido computer gaming wizard witnessed the Democratic Party take control of Congress and was moved to capture the sorrow of those who lost power."The conservative movement and the far right were extremely unhappy. I felt for them so much I had to be satirical and write a song about how bad they were feeling," Carroll said. The "Neo-Conservative Blues" came to him as voting returns scrolled across his TV screen. "I just had it with my government's public policies and the November elections were in a lot of ways a turning point. I was possessed to write that quirky little song."

Carroll's history in San Diego runs deep. Carroll Canyon is named for his great-grandfather. But it was his time at Claremont McKenna University in Los Angeles that sent Carroll's creative ball rolling.

"They gave me a broad education that has stood me well as I do a lot of different things," Carroll said. Currently, as a 3-D environment artist with Rock Star San Diego software company, Carroll creates games and interactive programming titles. He believes each of his vocational steps has sharpened his focus."I've had some completely different professions, but they are all related in that you have to pick a subject very quickly, decipher it and be able to spew it back in numerous forms. The mental gymnastics behind that is pretty amazing," he said.

Mutual friends introduced Carroll to Mark DeCerbo, curious to see what might arise artistically between the two. "It's funny," DeCerbo said. "We came together because of music and art. We are not on the same page politically."

The singer-songwriter, whose band Rockola has played around San Diego for years, felt the sentiment of the song and was also moved by history unfolding and by Carroll's tribute.

"It doesn't really matter what end of the political spectrum the creativity comes from, we have a mutual respect for what each of us can do," DeCerbo said. "I'm more conservative than he is and I can appreciate the message and I get a kick out of the lyrics."

The pair's first collaboration is "Neo-Conservative Blues" and its accompanying graphic ---- the character Gun Nose. After watching the in-flight TV news on a trip to Scotland, Carroll found himself doodling."I noticed the perception of the U.S., particularly in Europe, and it wasn't really very good," he said. "These things upset me and it translated out into this one sketch. With a gun for a nose, a bomb for a chin, he is a real lethal character."

After attaching Carroll's Gun Nose character to the song, DeCerbo uploaded their work on, an animation-driven site, and the "blues" began to beat.

"It immediately became something that people were gravitating toward," Carroll said. "A viral thing, it just kind of grew."Twenty-four hours after the initial posting, they had received 1,000 visitors. Onto something, DeCerbo uploaded the song to singer Neil Young's Web site "Living With War," which includes a Top 1,200 protest-centric songs.

Carroll checked in a few days later. "I couldn't believe it, we made the list. It popped up at No. 1,110, and I e-mailed Mark right away," Carroll said.

In the last three weeks, the song has shot as high as No. 67 and currently sits at No. 81. "I am so completely excited about it," Carroll said.

In Young's countdown of war-themed songs, Carroll and DeCerbo share space with Bob Dylan; Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale; and Crosby, Stills and Nash ---- and the local duo's song currently ranks higher."Just being on the list is great for me," Carroll said. "For two people who had little or no expectations, this is a gas."

The protest songs that permeated FM radio in the 1960s have found a home in 2007. "With the Internet, there is a reaction a lot more quickly than FM radio ever could," Carroll said. "Look at the power ---- look at Gun Nose ---- you can't sit on the fence. You either like him or you don't. I thought he was a very appropriate symbol. In the first stanza of 'Neo-Conservative Blues,' it says, 'I got a gun for a nose.' That's putting the card right out there."

On the Net:
to access "Neo Conservative Blues."


Is Patriot Act unconstitutional? Not to Gonzales...

From :

Gonzales Taps Bush Supporters to Fill US Attorney Vacancies

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is transforming the ranks of the nation's top federal prosecutors by firing some and appointing conservative loyalists from the Bush administration's inner circle who critics say are unlikely to buck Washington.

The nine recent appointees identified by McClatchy Newspapers held high-level White House or Justice Department jobs, and most of them were handpicked by Gonzales under a little-noticed provision of the Patriot Act that became law in March.

[click link above to continue reading]


Thursday, January 25, 2007

US Attorneys firing unconstitutional...

From LA Times via :

Appointment called unconstitutional
A lawyer alleges recent U.S. attorney selection violates appointments clause.
By Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer
January 25, 2007

A veteran Little Rock, Ark., attorney has lodged the first constitutional challenge to the Bush administration's attempt to appoint a U.S. attorney without seeking Senate approval.

John Wesley Hall alleged in a brief filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Little Rock that Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales' Dec. 20 appointment of Tim Griffin as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas violated the presidential appointments clause of the Constitution.

Griffin, who used to work for Bush political advisor Karl Rove, replaced Bud Cummins, a Bush appointee and one of seven U.S. attorneys around the country whom the administration has ousted since late December. The top federal prosecutors in San Diego and San Francisco were among those dismissed.

[cont at ]


Election fraud...Ohio staff convicted...


Election Staff Convicted in Recount Rig

Two election workers, Jacqueline Maiden, elections coordinator of the Cuyahoga County Elections Board, and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer, were convicted Wednesday of rigging a recount of the 2004 presidential election to avoid a more thorough review in Ohio's most populous county. Ohio gave President Bush the electoral votes he needed to defeat Democratic senator John Kerry in 2004.

[about time..]


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ah, these wonderful books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Laurie Viera Rigler's CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT, a literary homage, comedy, and exploration of identity, destiny, and the nature of time, that tells the story of a contemporary thirty-something LA woman and Jane Austen fan who wakes up inside the body of an Englishwoman in Austen's time, to Trena Keating at Dutton, at auction, for two books, by Marly Rusoff of Marly Rusoff & Associates (NA).


Founder of the web site Backspace Karen Dionne's FREEZING POINT - already endorsed by Lee Child, David Morrell, Douglas Preston, Gayle Lynds, John Case and John Lescroart - in which extremists plot to stop an energy company from melting icebergs into drinking water - neither realizing that the water is contaminated with an unknown, deadly disease, to Natalee Rosenstein of Berkley, by Jeff Kleinman at Folio Literary Management.


Eleven Days of Hell: My True Story of Kidnapping, Terror, Torture and Historic FBI and KGB Rescue author Yvonne Bornstein and David Hagberg's BURNED, based on the author's true kidnapping story, to Tor/Forge, for publication in 2007, by Gleason Literary Agency and Kevin Cleary at Content House.


Taxonomist Sally Hinchcliffe's first novel THE YEAR LIST, a psychological thriller set in the world of obsessive bird-watching and pitched with the question, "imagine if you spent your whole time watching, only to find out that you were being watched yourself," to Maria Rejt at Picador, at auction, by Jake Smith-Bosanquet at Conville & Walsh (world English).Dutch rights to Querido, at auction, in a nice


Paul Quarrington's THE RAVINE, the story of three friends who are haunted by an incident from their youth and search for reconciliation at the mid-point of their lives, to Anne Collins at Random House Canada, for publication in spring 2008, by Don Sedgwick at Transatlantic Literary Agency.


PETER JENNINGS: An Oral Biography, with an introduction by Lynn Sherr, including contributions from a wide array of influential public figures, to Kate Darnton at Public Affairs, for publication in fall 2007, by Esther Newberg at ICM (world).

Nigel Hamilton's BILL CLINTON: Mastering the Presidency, based on new interviews with key players inside and outside the Clinton administration, a study of the latest published literature and the benefit of historical perspective, to Lindsay Jones and Peter Osnos at Public Affairs, by the William Morris Agency (world).

Lisa Rogak's BARACK OBAMA IN HIS OWN WORDS, his views on 75 topics ranging from US politics, family, religion, war in Iraq, Affirmative Action etc., to Anita Diggs at Carroll & Graf, in a nice deal, by Scott Mendel at Mendel Media Group (NA)


Drew Rosenhaus and Jason Rosenhaus's book of anecdotal business and negotiating advice, told in the context of a full NFL season by a top agent, to Natalee Rosenstein at Berkley, by Ian Kleinert at The Literary Group.


Michael Ross's THE VOLUNTEER: A Secret Life in the Mossad, the memoir of a converted Jew who served as a senior officer in Israel's legendary intelligence service, describing operations never before been revealed to the public, to Mark Weinstein at Skyhorse, in a nice deal, for fall 2007 publication, by Marilyn Biderman at McClelland & Stewart (US).


Former WorldCom internal auditor Cynthia Cooper's WHISTLEBLOWER BLUES: How Faith & Ethics Prevailed Over Corporate Greed at WorldCom, about the massive accounting fraud at WorldCom, ethics, faith and what happens when an ordinary person is hurled into the public view, to Sheck Cho at Wiley, by Lloyd Jassin (world)


Neil Peart's ROADSHOW: Landscape With Drums, A Concert Tour by Motorcycle, a dual memoir of Rush's celebratory 30th Anniversary World Tour, 2004, and Peart's 19,000 global miles by motorcycle between concerts, and ROADSHOW: The Illustrated Companion, to John Virant at Rounder Books, by Paul McCarthy at McCarthy Creative Services (NA).paul


Sunday, January 21, 2007

We need THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE back now!!!

From Raw :

Rep. believes Democratic media reform bill may prevent possible 'fascist'
takeover of US media
Miriam Raftery
Published: Sunday January 21, 2007

Concerns about monopolies and fears of a possible "fascist" takeover of the US media have prompted a Democratic congressman to push to restore the Fairness Doctrine, RAW STORY has learned.

"Media reform is the most important issue confronting our democratic republic and the people of our country," Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) said at the Free Press National Media Reform Conference held in Memphis, Tennessee last weekend. "This is a critical moment in history that may determine the future of our country…maybe forever."

Hinchey told RAW STORY he plans to reintroduce the Media Ownership Reform Act (MORA) that would break up media monopolies and restore the Fairness Doctrine, which was eliminated by the Federal Communications Commission under the Reagan administration.

“If Rush shoots his mouth off, he must give equal access to our side,” Hinchey said. “The American public will begin to get both sides or all sides of an issue. That is basic – fundamental to a democracy.”

Last year, Hinchey introduced H.R. 3302 (MORA), but Republicans blocked the measure in committee. He also founded the Future of American Media Caucus in Congress in 2005. With Democrats now in control of Congress, a new media reform measure is expected to be assigned to the House Energy and Commerce Committee within the next couple of weeks, Hinchey’s staff confirmed.

We’ll be trying hard to get the subcommittee and the full committee chairs to bring this to the House floor,” Hinchey pledged. A companion bill will be introduced on the Senate side by Bernie Sanders (D-VT), he added.

MORA would restore the Fairness Doctrine, reinstate a national cap on ownership of radio stations, lower the number of radio stations that one company can own in a local market, and reinstate the 25 percent national cap on television ownership, among other restrictions. The bill’s no-grandfathering provision would compel media conglomerates to divest to comply with new ownership limitations.

MORA would also require public interest reports from broadcasters and require more independently produced programming on TV. In addition, it establishes new public interest obligations to assure that broadcasters meet the needs of local communities and requires increased, sustained public input and outreach to give the people a voice in programming.

Media 'con job'

Hinchey faults the mainstream media for failing to tell Americans the truth about “an administration in Washington that has falsified information to people about weapons of mass destruction in order to justify an illegal and unjustified attack perpetrated on Iraq. How was it that Congress voted to give the President that authority? And how was it that so many people just bought into it when Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center and whatever weapons they had were given to them by the Reagan administration?”

Talk radio has become dominated by shows that are “right wing, even neo-fascist,” he said, adding that even the best newspapers gave readers a “con job” by reporting false information fed by the administration.

“This should make every single citizen in America deeply concerned,” he told conference attendees. “What lies will they tell in the future to jeopardize this democratic republic or even end this democratic republic? That is the objective of many of those involved.”

[continue at:


Gov Bill Richardson...the accomplished man...

Tell you what...I REALLY like this guy. While the rest have been talking, he's been doing. Take a look at his announcement video at:


Saturday, January 20, 2007

We're eating WHAT?!!!

From Information Clearing House:

The Future of Food :

Video: The Future of Food offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled grocery store shelves for the past decade


Friday, January 19, 2007

Krugman on US Attys Gen firings...


Paul Krugman Surging and Purging

Paul Krugman writes: "There's something happening here, and what it is seems completely clear: the Bush administration is trying to protect itself by purging independent-minded prosecutors. Since the day it took power, this administration has shown nothing but contempt for the normal principles of good government. For six years, ethical problems and conflicts of interest have been the rule, not the exception."


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Selecting Films and Books....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Daniel Serrano's GUNMETAL BLACK, following a recently paroled gangster who returns to the mean streets of his Chicago neighborhood, determined to save his best friend from a life of crime and find the man responsible for murdering his father when he was a boy, to Karen Thomas at Warner, in a two-book deal, for publication in Spring 2008, by Jennifer Cayea at Avenue A

Governor General's Award non-fiction finalist Jack Todd's SUN GOING DOWN, following four generations of the author's family in the American West, from the Civil War to the Great Depression, inspired by old family diaries and letters that tell the story of an itinerate merchant and gold hunter who fathers twin boys whose adventures as horse thieves lead them to become some of the largest landowners in the west, to Trish Todd at Touchstone Fireside (they're both from Nashville, and are trying to find out if their families are related somehow), by Hilary McMahon at Westwood Creative Artists (US).


Leif Enger's second novel SO BRAVE, YOUNG AND HANDSOME, a tale of passion and adventure in early 20th century America, about an aging train robber, pursued again after years of obscurity, seeking to reconcile the claims of love and judgment on his life, to Elisabeth Schmitz and Morgan Entrekin at Grove/Atlantic, for publication in early 2008, by Paul Cirone at Friedrich Agency.


Sadie Jones' THE OUTCAST, to Diane Martin at Knopf Canada, by Anne McDermid, on behalf of Caroline Wood at the Felicity Bryan Agency.Winner of the Prix Femina Nancy Huston's BIRTH MARK, to Kim McArthur at McArthur & Company, by Rosalie Siegel.Thomas Wharton's THE PERILOUS REALM, in which an angry teen stumbles into the land where stories come from and while trying to get back home, he is drawn into a tale of wonders and terrible danger, to Lara Hinchberger at Doubleday Canada, in a very nice deal, by Lynn Bennett at Transatlantic Literary

Marisha Pessl's SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS, optioned to Miramax and producer Scott Rudin, by Susan Golomb at Susan Golomb Agency.

Film rights to Alan Cowell's SASHA'S STORY: The Life and Death of a Russian Spy, to Warner Bros., with Johnny Depp's Infinitum Nihil producing, by Michael Carlisle at Inkwell Management.NON-FICTION/BIOGRAPHY:

Ignacio Ramonet's CASTRO: MY LIFE, interviews with Fidel Castro that portray his life from the early 1950s to the present day while discussing his views on a number of controversial questions, from human rights and freedom of the press to the repression of homosexuality and the survival of the death penalty, to Colin Robinson at Scribner, in a very nice deal, by Sarah Hunt Cooke at Penguin UK (US).


Alex Goldfarb and Marina Litvinenko's DEATH OF A DISSIDENT: Alexander Litvinenko and the Death of Russian Democracy, the story of the murdered former KGB agent from his widow and a friend, to Bruce Nichols at Free Press and Andrew Gordon at Simon & Schuster UK, for publication in May 2007, by Ed Victor at Ed Victor (world).Film rights to Columbia Pictures and director Michael Mann, with Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher at Red Wagon producing, in a major deal, for $500,000 against $1.5 million, by Ed Victor at Ed Victor.

Medieval historian Nancy Goldstone's THE ORNAMENT OF ITALY, the story of the thirty-year reign of Joanna I, queen of Naples, who was accused of the grisly murder of her husband after she took the throne and forced to stand trial at age 20 for her life in front of the pope -- and went on to prevail over her enemies, weathering war, murder, treason, and plague before finally retrieving her rightful inheritance, to George Gibson at Walker, by Michael Carlisle at Inkwell Management (US; German).


Steve Martin's first nonfiction book BORN STANDING UP, a memoir of his early years as a stand-up comedian and a portrait of an era, to Nan Graham at Scribner, by Esther Newberg of ICM (world)


National Book Award winner Tim Egan's THE BIG BURN, about the largest forest fire in American history, a blaze that killed 86 people and charred three million acres in Montana and Idaho in the summer of 1910 -- and ultimately changed American conservation, prompting a reluctant Congress to give the Forest Service the power to oversee the forests of the West, to Anton Mueller at Houghton Mifflin, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2009, by Carol Mann at the Carol Mann Agency (world)


Heather Pringle's IN THE PRIZE: The Battle to Save the World's Ancient Shipwrecks, examining how commercial treasure hunters are turning to the oceans as the last great frontier of archeological discovery, and the threats to science and history arising from this unregulated exploitation, to Chris Bucci of McClelland & Stewart, for publication in September 2009, by Anne McDermid.

Kevin Patterson and Jane Warren, ed.'s OUTSIDE THE WIRE, an anthology of first-person narrative writing about the war in Afghanistan by and about Canadian soldiers serving there, with a foreword by Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire (Ret), to Anne Collins at Random House Canada, for publication in fall 2007, by Anne McDermid Associates.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

US Atty, Carol Lamm, San Diego, has resigned...

Here's the video...


Torture doesn't work...Bush shouts...

From American Progress Report:

Think Fast

"There is almost no scientific evidence to back up the U.S. intelligence community's use of controversial interrogation techniques in the fight against terrorism, and experts believe some painful and coercive approaches could hinder the ability to get good information, according to a new report from an intelligence advisory group."

"The U.S. military has sold forbidden equipment at least a half-dozen times to middlemen for countries -- including Iran and China -- who exploited security flaws in the Defense Department's surplus auctions," the AP reports.

"Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said in an interview that Taliban attacks surged by 200 percent in December, and a U.S. military intelligence officer said that since the peace deal went into effect Sept. 5 the number of attacks in the border area has grown by 300 percent."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "conveniently ignored Egypt's internal problems during her visit, which include charges of corruption and torture, to name a few. Rice basically thanked Egypt for its cooperation in the region making it clear that, for the United States, 'stability, not democracy' is the priority."

34,452: Number of Iraqi civilians killed in 2006, according to the United Nations. More than 36,000 Iraqi civilians were wounded last year.

Rebellion is brewing among conservatives over President's Bush's attempt to "impose" Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) as "general chairman" of his political party due to Martinez's support for "amnesty" for illegal aliens.

Under an ethics reform proposal the House is likely to take up and pass this week, "lawmakers who commit crimes in office may no longer be able to rely on a federal pension to pad their fall from grace."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and others argue the Bush administration is "using a little-noticed clause in the Patriot Act to circumvent Senate confirmation" of federal U.S. attorneys. Senators are working to overturn the provision, which "for the first time gave the attorney general, rather than local federal courts, authority to appoint interim U.S. attorneys."

And finally: The Decider still really likes making decisions. In his interview with 60 minutes, President Bush said "decision" twenty-four times in nine minutes. The chart here "shows how often he said the word during each of the interview's nine minutes, including two times when he practically shouted it."


Monday, January 15, 2007

All the world's a stage...

From Information Clearing House:

Bush the Empire Slayer
By Bernard Chazelle

Yeats bemoaned an era when the best lacked all conviction, while the worst were full of passionate intensity. Today, Kristol blusters and hectors, Cheney scolds and forebodes, Bush struts and smirks.

Meanwhile, the giant, timid chorus listens politely to the deafening silence of the outraged-and the mad march of war goes on.


Libby trial begins Tues with Juror picks...

From Agence France-Press:

Monday January 15, 4:56 AM

Ex-White House aide's trial full of political intrigue

Former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby goes on trial on Tuesday on charges of perjury in a case that has all the elements of a political thriller.

The tale involves a spy's blown cover, the US administration's preparations for war in Iraq and elaborate intrigue among Washington's power brokers.

The trial's origins date back to July 2003, when a former US ambassador, Joseph Wilson, accused President George W. Bush's administration of exaggerating the threat posed by Iraq to justify an invasion.

Soon after, a newspaper columnist revealed that Wilson's spouse, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative.

Exposing the identity of a CIA agent is a federal crime and special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald launched an investigation into the leak.

As Fitzgerald called witnesses to testify before a grand jury, speculation raged about who in the White House may have plotted retaliation against Wilson for his criticism.

Journalists were summoned before the grand jury, and one from the New York Times, Judith Miller, went to jail for close to three months for refusing to cooperate.

But the suspense ended with a bit of anti-climax in September, when former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage -- not at all considered a hawk on the Iraq war -- admitted with embarrassment that he inadvertently outed Plame.

Libby, 56, former chief of staff for US Vice President Dick Cheney, is not being charged with leaking Plame's name, even though that was the impetus for the federal probe. Instead he is accused of lying under oath to the grand jury about several conversations with reporters in July 2003.

Indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice, Libby has pleaded not guilty and if convicted, faces a possible prison sentence of up to 30 years.

In his book "Plan of Attack" -- an account of preparations for the Iraq invasion -- Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward described Libby as part of the White House inner circle that played a role in virtually every major decision.

"He might be considered part of a small category of Washington officials -- the Unobtrusive Man, ever-present during the scene," Woodward wrote.

The US left, meanwhile, paints a darker portrait of Libby as a neoconservative schemer who has had a possible hand in scandals ranging from the intelligence leading up to the Iraq war to the awarding of lucrative contracts to Halliburton for the reconstruction of Iraq.

The trial opens Tuesday with the selection of jurors and opening arguments are scheduled for January 22. The trial is expected to last four to six weeks, said court spokesman Sheldon Snook.
During preliminary hearings, defense lawyers have said their client simply could not recall every detail of his conversations because of his intense work load, and that he had more important subjects to concern him than the American diplomat's remarks.

The lawyers plan to call Libby's former boss, Cheney, as a witness. The vice president's office has yet to confirm whether Cheney has been summoned but says it is cooperating fully with the authorities.
In an interview with the Fox network Sunday, Cheney refused to comment on the case but did acknowledge that he might be called to testify.

"I am likely to be a witness in this trial. It would be inappropriate for me, at this point, shortly before the trial begins, to enter into a public dialogue with you about my views on this issue," he said.

He did, however, state his strong support for Libby, calling him "one of the finest individuals I've ever known."

Judge Reggie Walton has made clear he will strictly limit arguments to pertinent facts in the case and not allow the proceedings to turn into a political spectacle.

During one preliminary hearing, Walton said that the murder trial of OJ Simpson in 1995 that lasted eight months could have been finished in a mere three weeks.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

What does this tell you?

From Information Clearing House:

Iranian Jews Reject Outside Calls To Leave :

In recent months, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Israeli officials and some American Jewish communal leaders have urged Iranian Jews to leave. But so far, despite generally being allowed to travel to Israel and emigrate abroad, Iranian Jews have stayed put.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Ft Benning military did not want Bush's speech...

From American Progress:


A day after President Bush announced an escalation plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq, he spoke to 300 soldiers in a "teary-eyed" address at Fort Benning, GA. The Washington Post notes that the White House chose Ft. Benning hoping for "an unreservedly enthusiastic reception" to the President's speech, since military bases have usually been "reliable backdrop[s] for the White House."

But instead, soldiers gave him only a "quiet response." The Los Angeles Times added that he "received a less enthusiastic reception than has been the case on his past visits to military bases to promote his Iraq policy" and the New York Times observed that the soldiers "clapped politely but showed little of the wild enthusiasm that they ordinarily shower on the commander in chief."

Additionally, reporters were prohibited from talking to the soldiers -- many of whom will be deploying to Iraq soon -- after the speech, to "ensure that there would be no discordant notes."

Wall Street Journal reporter Yochi Dreazen wrote that "reporters were shooed out of the dining hall by White House aides and public-affairs personnel from the military base, who said that soldiers were now off-limits to the media." Only hours later, after "an angry confrontation with both White House and Fort Benning media-affairs personnel," did the base offer to make a "small number" of selected soldiers available.

Reporters, however, had to skip the opportunity because the press plane back to Washington was leaving in less than an hour.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Saving Iraq from the Iraqis....BushCo style...

From Greg Palast:

by Greg Palast
Thursday, January 11, 2007

George W. Bush has an urge to surge. Like every junkie, he asks for just one more fix: let him inject just 21,000 more troops and that will win the war.Been there. Done that.

In 1965, Tom Paxton sang,

Lyndon Johnson told the nation
Have no fear of escalation.
I am trying everyone to please.
Though it isn't really war,
We're sending 50,000 more
To help save Vietnam from the Vietnamese.

Four decades later, Bush is asking us to save Iraq from the Iraqis. There's always a problem with giving a junkie another fix. It can only make things worse. Our maximum leader says that unless he gets to mainline another 21,000 troops, "Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons," and terrorists "would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people." Excuse me, but didn't we hear that same promise in 2003?

Nearly four years ago, on the eve of invasion, this same George Bush promised, "The terrorist threat to America and the world will be diminished the moment that Saddam Hussein is disarmed."

Instead of diminishing the threat from terrorists, Bush now admits, "Al Qaeda has a home base in Anbar province" -- something inconceivable under Saddam's rule.Four years ago, Bush promised us, "When the dictator has departed, [Iraq] can set an example to all the Middle East of a vital and peaceful and self-governing nation."

Just send in the 82d Airborne and, lickety-split, we'd have, "A new Iraq that is prosperous and free."Well, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Here's my question: Who asked the waiter to deliver this dish? Who asked for the 21,000 soldiers?

We know the US military didn't ask for the 21,000 troops. (Outgoing commander General George Casey called for a troop reduction.)We know the Iraqi government didn't ask for the 21,000 troops. (Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is reportedly unhappy about a visible increase in foreign occupiers).So who wants the occupation to continue?

The answer is in Riyadh. When the King of Saudi Arabia hauled Dick Cheney before his throne on Thanksgiving weekend, the keeper of America's oil laid down the law to Veep: the US will not withdraw from Iraq. According to Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi who signals to the US government the commands and diktats of the House of Saud, the Saudis are concerned that a US pull-out will leave their Sunni brothers in Iraq to be slaughtered by Shia militias. More important, the Saudis will not tolerate a Shia-majority government in Iraq controlled by the Shia mullahs of Iran. A Shia combine would threaten Saudi Arabia's hegemony in the OPEC oil cartel.In other words, it's about the oil.

So what's the solution? What's my plan? How do we get out of Iraq?

Answer: the same way we got out of 'Nam. In ships.But can we just watch from the ship rail as Shia slaughter Sunnis in Baghdad, Sunnis murder Shia in Anbar, Kurds "cleanse" Kirkuk of Turkmen and so on in a sickening daisy-chain of ethnic atrocities?No.

There's a real alternative. And it isn't more troops, George. Let's imagine that somehow we could rip away the strings that allow Cheney and Rove and Abdullah to control our puppet president and he somehow, like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, suddenly grew a brain. His speech last night would have sounded like this:"My fellow Americans. Iraq is going to hell in a handbag. So the whole shebang doesn't collapse into mayhem and madness, we need to send in 21,000 more troops. So I've just wired King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and told him to send them.

"My missive to the monarch reads: Dear Abdullah. It's time your 16,000 princelings got out of their Rolls Royces and formed the core of an Islamic Peacekeeping Force to prevent mass murder in Iraq. The American people are tired of you using the 82d Airborne as your private mercenary army. It seems like the Saudi military's marching song is, 'Onward Christian Soldiers.'"Well, King Ab, we're out of here. We're folding tents and loading the wagons. For four years now, Saudis have been secretly funding the berserkers in the Iraqi 'insurgency' while the Iranians are backing the crazies in the militias. Well, we're telling you and the Persians: you're going to have to stop using your checkbooks to fund a proxy war and instead start keeping the peace. It's time you put your own tushies in the line of fire for a change."

"If the African Union nations, poor as they are, can maintain a peacekeeping force to stop killings in Sudan and Senegal, you Saudis, with all the military toys we've sold you, can certainly join with your Muslim brothers in Jordan, Iran and Turkey to take responsibility for your region's peace."And when you get to Fallujah, don't forget to drop us a postcard."

Well, that's my fantasy. But instead, War Junkie George will get his fix of another 21,000 American soldiers.It reminds me far too chillingly of a Pete Seeger tune written when LBJ was saving Vietnam from Vietnamese. It was based on the true story of a US platoon in training, wading into the rising Mississippi, whose commander order them to keep going, deeper and deeper -- until they drowned.

We're waste deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, "Armed Madhouse." His reports on Iraq and oil for BBC-TV and Harper's Magazine can be viewed at


Just in case: Bush's Plan B for Iraq...It's a secret...

From American Progress:

"Senior House Democrats said yesterday that they will attempt to derail funding for President Bush's proposal to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq, setting up what could become the most significant confrontation between the White House and Congress over military policy since the Vietnam War."

Former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) was named the ranking member of the House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee yesterday. "The Democrats in the Senate have signaled they're going to make climate change a big issue," said Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. "We need to have our guys locked and cocked over here."

Aides to President Bush "hinted that the administration had already come up with a 'Plan B' in case the latest strategy failed, with one saying 'there are other ways to achieve our objective.' But he would not describe that strategy."

J. Steven Griles, the former No. 2 official in the Interior Department, has been notified by federal prosecutors that he will most likely be indicted for lying about his relationship with the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff. With the prospect of his indictment, Sue Ellen Wooldridge, the assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources who has been reportedly dating Griles, tendered her resignation this week.

"There were 744,000 homeless people in the United States in 2005, according to the first national estimate in a decade." A majority of the homeless were single adults, but about 41 percent were in families.

One of the caucus' most influential centrists, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), expressed interest in Sen. Edward Kennedy's (D-MA) legislation to seek congressional approval for Bush's proposed escalation policy. "I'm very interested in it," Baucus said of the Kennedy proposal.

Tony Blair will soon announce that "almost 3,000 [UK] troops are to be cut from the current total of 7,200, allowing the military to recover from four years of battle that have left it severely overstretched."

And finally: What President Bush could learn from Apple’s Steve Jobs about announcing new proposals. "Bush speeches tend to take on a funereal air, what with the dark suits and somber tone. A nice mock turtleneck and snug-fitting jeans could lighten the mood."


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Strange and wonderful books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Patricia Wood's LOTTERY, the story of a 32 year-old, mentally challenged man, whose life is forever changed when he wins 12 million dollars in the lottery, discovering who his true friends are and the deep reserve of his own abilities, to Peternelle Van Arsdale at Putnam, at auction, by Dorian Karchmar at William Morris Agency (NA).Rights sold previously to Jason Arthur and Susan Sandon at Heinemann in the UK; Arena in Holland; Keter in Israel; and Sonzogno in Italy, in pre-empts.


Warren Ellis's second novel LISTENER, a near-future sci-fi tale about a British journalist who has been embedded with audio implants, turning him into an objective "listening post," sent to investigate the last outpost of life in the US after it has been decimated by a military biological weapon, to Jeremy Cesarec at William Morrow, by Lydia Wills at Paradigm (NA).Film: Angela Cheng Caplan


Author of The Music Lesson and Triangle Katharine Weber's TEMPER, a multi-generational novel about a family's candy business and the struggle, between father and son, over succession, and a memoir, SYMPTOMS OF FICTION, featuring her grandmother composer Kay Swift, grandfather lyicist James P. Warburg, her father ("a crackpot filmmaker with an 800-page FBI file") and more, following John Glusman to Harmony, by Gloria Loomis at Watkins Loomis (world).

Elif Shafak's THE BASTARD OF ISTANBUL, the tale of two families, an exiled Armenian family living in San Francisco and the Kazancis of Istanbul, to Kate Barker at Penguin UK, by Anna Jarota Chodakowska of AJA Agency; and to Nova Fronteira in Brazil; Livanis in Greece; and Polirom in Romania, by Michael Radulescu at Marly Rusoff & Associates.


Historian and author of the THE GREAT DELUGE Douglas Brinkley's untitled biography of Walter Cronkite, examining the revered media icon and some of the biggest issues of the 20th century, to Claire Wachtel at Harper, by Lisa Bankoff at ICM (world).Washington Bureau Chief for the San Francisco Chronicle Marc Sandalow's MADAME SPEAKER, examining the life, career and new role of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the House, to Leigh Haber at Rodale, at auction, for publication in early 2008, by Amy Rennert of the Amy Rennert Agency (NA)


Slate editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg's examination of the Bush presidency and its political, personal and ideological roots, to Susan Mercandetti at Random House, in a pre-empt, for publication in 2008, by Andrew Wylie of The Wylie Agency (NA).Former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Alex Rossmiller's STILL BROKEN, drawn from experiences in the Pentagon and Iraq, an inside look at the wasteful, lethargic, and politicized state of front-line American intelligence five years after 9/11 from a young man recruited to revitalize an aging organization, to Ron Doering at Presidio, by Eric Lupfer at William Morris

Agency.ctisne@randomhouse.comCambridge medieval historian John Hatcher's untitled book on the Black Death, recreating the lives of ordinary people from a small Suffolk village during the tumultuous years of 1345-51 as they experienced the horrors of the plague, and tried to understand and cope with its devastation, to Robert Pigeon at Da Capo, for publication in spring 2008, by Andrew Lownie (world).

Blogger and journalist Sarah Posner's FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM: The GOP's Unholy Alliance with America's Most Corrupt Televangelists, exposing the emerging alliance between a new generation of corrupt and influential mega-church evangelists and the GOP, which is courting the movement's "values" voters, to Peter Richardson at PoliPoint Press, for publication in spring 2008, by Liz Trupin-Pulli at JET Literary Associates (world)


Journalist Lisa Sweetingham's CHEMICAL COWBOYS, the story of a series of undercover DEA operations that led to the capture of the world's most notorious ecstasy kingpin and his lieutenants, while delving into secret agency investigations that began in US nightclubs quickly spread across continents with the help of government agencies in six countries, to Will Murphy for Ballantine, by David Halpern at The Robbins Office (NA).


"Jack Falcone's" INSIDE MAN, the first person account of an FBI agent's two and a half years as undercover Mafioso in the Gambino crime family, resulting in the arrest and conviction of more than 30 top-ranking Mafiosi and the crippling of the Gambino organization, to Ben Sevier in his first acquisition at Touchstone Fireside, in a good deal, by Paul Fedorko at Trident Media Group (world).


Bits and pieces of news....

From American Progress:

Think Fast

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow admitted yesterday that Congress had funding control over the Iraq war but said "the president could ultimately do what he wants." Snow told reporters, "The President has the ability to exercise his own authority if he thinks Congress has voted the wrong way."

"Last year was the warmest in the continental United States in the past 112 years -- capping a nine-year warming streak 'unprecedented in the historical record' that was driven in part by the burning of fossil fuels, the government reported yesterday."

"Democratic leaders said Tuesday that they intended to hold symbolic votes in the House and Senate on President Bush's plan to send more troops to Baghdad," the New York Times reports, "forcing Republicans to take a stand on the proposal and seeking to isolate the president politically over his handling of the war."

Faculty members at Southern Methodist University, the "likely site" of Bush’s presidential library, "are raising sharp questions about the school’s identification with his presidency." Yesterday, 150 faculty members voiced "a range of concerns, particularly on whether the school’s academic freedom and political independence might appear compromised by an association with not only the Bush library but also a museum that would accompany it."

"Federal prosecutors have notified a former deputy secretary of the interior, J. Steven Griles, that he is a target in the public corruption investigation of Jack Abramoff's lobbying activities."

"Pentagon insiders say members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have long opposed the increase in troops and are only grudgingly going along with the plan because they have been promised that the military escalation will be matched by renewed political and economic efforts in Iraq."

"An Army private charged with the slaughter of an Iraqi family was diagnosed as a homicidal threat by a military mental health team three months before the attack." The private was given medication and ordered to "get some sleep," then returned to duty the next day "in the particularly violent stretch of desert in the southern Baghdad suburbs known as the 'Triangle of Death.'"

Former senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) is now a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he "directs a program called 'America's Enemies,'" which will "focus on identifying, studying, and heightening awareness of the threats posed to America and the West."
National taxpayer advocate Nina Olson told Congress yesterday to "repeal the authority it gave the Internal Revenue Service to use private debt collectors," calling the program "inefficient, uneconomical and prone to abuse."

And finally: Despite his "thin and slightly reedy" real voice, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) can "steal the show" when he "really sings, deepening his voice and slowing the tempo to a working-in-the-fields, sharecropper cadence." On Monday, Kucinich sang (and spoke) to an audience at Jesse Jackson's 10th annual Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Wall Street Project Conference.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ally sick of BushCo...

From :

Rattled America will find it can't spin itself out of this one
Bob Ellis
January 5, 2007

GEORGE Bush will be hard put persuading three, four or five thousand American soldiers, marines and reservists who have already been there to go back to Iraq this year, to face 4 million Sunnis displeased by the Saddam hanging. Hard put too to persuade Nuri al-Maliki to stay in office, and stay alive, till they get there.

In the meantime the spinning of the killing of Saddam continues. The US had nothing to do with it; we merely guarded him for three years, then took him to the house of death and flew his coffined body to Tikrit. We tried to stop it happening so soon. We would have "handled it differently".

What's all this fuss? The last 60 seconds of a tyrant's life matter less than the first 60 years. We've killed his two sons and his 14-year-old grandson and we'll kill his half-brother tomorrow, so the "process of national healing" can begin. Has any "process of national healing" been so mismanaged in world history? Has any filmed event won fewer hearts and minds? JFK's killing perhaps, though it pleased a good few Southern schoolboys, who cheered at the news.

If we only look at the politics of lynching a warrior-hero, abusing him on the gallows, keeping him awake the night before by banging on his cell door and flaunting before his bleary eyes the hangman's rope, we can see just how dim the whole plan was. What Sunni will pose beside Maliki now? What Arab leader, Sunni or Shiite, will praise his political skill?

And who will trust the Americans now, after this and Abu Ghraib and hurricane Katrina, to get any process right in any country including their own? Not the British soldiers on the ground in Helmland Province, Afghanistan. Not the Australian "security guards" in downtown Baghdad. Not the Iraqi dentists, doctors, nurses, restaurateurs and university lecturers daily fleeing the country. Not the children with toothache. Not the pregnant women with nowhere to go to give birth. Not the grandmothers of dead babies in humidicribs whose electricity gave out. Not the middle-class parents afraid to put their children on school buses lest they never see them again.

And who in the US will trust the American Army, the State Department and the current American rulers of Baghdad either? Not the 30,000 boys and girls wounded, nor their families. Not the 13,000 or 15,000 parents and siblings bereaved. Not the mayors of the towns the 3000 dead kids came from. Not the Democrat local members Bush is now asking for more soldiers, more weapons, more money, more patience, more time in a Long War as long, perhaps, as the Cold War.

The US is facing outright defeat — and worldwide contempt as never before — because of the Saddam gallows Grand Guignol and the secular Golgotha his jeering, black-hooded captors turned it into. And none of this need have happened. All the cluey US spin-men had to do, after consulting a few legal experts, was yield him up to lengthy trial by the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague; let him give big speeches the media would soon tire of; and let him grow very old and sad in jail.

But they didn't, and the consequences are dire and daily mounting. Soon they'll have Tariq Aziz to deal with. He's a Christian, a friend of Pope John Paul, and literate, well-spoken, Anglicised evidence of how broad-based a secular government Saddam ran, and how much 4 million university graduates, civil servants, medical professionals, lawyers, judges, soldiers, police and schoolteachers miss him now, in a world of veils and checkpoints and daylight kidnappings and suicide bombings and 10,000 policemen killed in two years.

Will Tariq Aziz hang? Will his breaking neck and open eyes and slowly swinging corpse be telerecorded too? Will he be allowed his beloved P. G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie paperbacks in his cell on death row? Will he get a final press conference? Will he be allowed to wear a suit and tie? What questions will he be allowed to answer?

In freedom's name we have helped the US start this barbarous process. In freedom's name we too are called barbarians now, by fairly civilised peoples who may have a point.

And we Australians are in the thick of it. Staying on, to "finish the job". The job may not be all that's finished by the time we're done.

Bob Ellis is an author and commentator.


Corps own media...Media feeds pablum...

From Information Clearing House:

Video - Orwell Rolls in His Grave

"Could a media system, controlled by a few global corporations with the ability to overwhelm all competing voices, be able to turn lies into truth?..."

This chilling documentary film examines the relationship between the media, corporate America, and government. In a country where the "top 1% control 90% of the wealth", the film argues that the media system is nothing but a "subsidiary of corporate America.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Authors and Special Forces...desert or jungle...

Went over to Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore this afternoon. Author Carol O'Connell has a new mystery novel, "Find Me", just out and was there to answer questions and sign copies. In case anyone is curious, she does look exactly like her author photo on the cover. Many writers don't because the photo is not a good one or they're using an earlier one.

O'Connell is an author who doesn't make speeches or give talks. She answers questions. Another author who refuses to make speeches is Joe Wambaugh. Like O'Connell, he answers questions. Both are generous with those answers. The result is more like having a conversation. Problem is, unless you're familar with their work, the questions leave a lot to be desired. Which is why, I suspect, they give extensive answers. Gives the audience something to work with. I should have tried that when my co-author and I did book signings.

Quite a contrast with Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. That woman can not only give a speech, she makes damned clear exactly what she's saying and, as importantly, what she is NOT saying, as she did on one of the Sunday morning talk shows today. This is definitely good. There's no guessing about what she means. She means precisely what she's said. She's gonna drive talk show hosts nuts because her words are gonna be very hard to twist around and spin.

I've been cleaning out my books. Giving away those I know I'll never read again. Not signed copies. Those stay here. For instance, I have a friend who was in the Special Forces and loves to read. Passed on a bag of military novels to him yesterday morning. Interesting guy. He likes to go out target shooting on weekends...very early in the morning. Has a place out in the desert, not far from the Mexican border where he's set up a 500 yard range.

So he's talking with another guy and says he hates the desert, but loves the jungle because one can hide in the jungle. I prefer the desert because you can see what's next to you. He counters with the fact that the enemy can see you as easily as you can see them in the desert. Same thing in reverse, I think, in the jungle. Both cases depend on who spots who and who knows who's going to be there and can set up ahead of time. In the end, neither argument is winnable.

Rain in the jungle. Sandstorms in the desert. And snow in Colorado. I'm not going anywhere near that snow. And the Special Forces guy says he's not traveling outside the US again. He's seen all of the world he cares to see. I'm in full agreement there.


Defense-Industrial Complex explained....

Reading Morialekafa's blog, I also read the comment from Rosecolored Glasses... It's worth reading, so here it is:

RoseCovered Glasses said...

There are good points in your article. I would like to supplement them with some information: I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armaments”

The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex establishment, budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Administrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the new Sec. Def.Mr. Gates, understand such complexity, particularly if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?Answer- he can’t. Therefore he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results. This situation is unfortunate but it is absolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen until it hits a brick wall at high speed. We will then have to run a Volkswagen instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.


The discernable future: Bloody...

From Tom Dispatch:

Tomgram: Nick Turse, Pentagon to Global Cities -- Drop Dead

In our world, the Pentagon and the national security bureaucracy have largely taken possession of the future. In an exchange in 2002, journalist Ron Suskind reported a senior adviser to President Bush telling him:

"that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. ‘We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality… We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"

Slowly, step by step, the present White House has found itself forced back into at least the vicinity of the reality-based community. This week we may, in fact, get to hear one of the last of this President's great Iraqi fictions.

The same cannot be said of the Pentagon and the Intelligence Community (IC). They have settled into the future and taken it in hand in a business-like, if somewhat lurid, way. It's the Pentagon that, in 2004, was already producing futuristic studies about a globally warmed world from Hell; it's the Pentagon's blue-skies research agency, DARPA, that regularly lets scientists and other thinkers loose to dream wildly about future possibilities (and then, of course, to create war-fighting weaponry and other equipment from those dreams). It's the National Nuclear Security Administration that is hard at work dreaming up the nature of our nuclear arsenal in 2030.

Typical is the National Intelligence Council, a "center of strategic thinking within the U.S. Government, reporting to the Director of Central Intelligence." In 2005, it was already expending much effort to create fictional scenarios for 2010, 2015, and 2020. Someone I know recently attended workshops the Council's long-range assessment unit organized, trying to look at the "threats after next" -- and this time they were deep into the 2020s.

The future -- whether imagined as utopian or dystopian -- was, not so long ago, the province of dreamers, or actual writers of fiction, or madmen and cranks, or reformers and journalists, or even wanna-be war-fighters, but not so regularly of actual war-fighters, or secretaries of defense, or presidents. In our time, the Pentagon and the IC have quite literally become the fantasy-based community. And yet, strangely enough, the urge of our top policy-makers (and allied academics and scientists) to spend their time in relatively distant futures has been little explored or considered by others.

A couple of things can be said about this near compulsion. First, it's largely confined to the arts of war. There is no equivalent in our government when it comes to health care or education, retirement or housing. No well-funded government think-tanks and lousy-with-loot research organizations are ready to let anyone loose dreaming about our planet's endangered environment, for instance. The future -- the only one our government seems truly to care about -- is most distinctly not good for you. It's a totally weaponized, grimly dystopian health hazard for the planet.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Keep in mind: an impeachable offense...

From Information Clearing House:

"Surge" Without Congressional Approval Is Impeachable Offense
By Francis Boyle
Professor of international law at the University of Illinois

Failure to obtain additional authorization from Congress for this substantial enlargement of U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq would constitute an impeachable offense under the terms of the United States Constitution for violating the Constitution's War Powers Clause and Congress's own War Powers Resolution."


Friday, January 05, 2007

Politics, pot roast, and boats...

Was driving along Mission Bay Drive today when one of the talk show guys was interviewing US House Rep Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and immediately fell into a state of delight. That woman doesn't mince her words. Back in Dec 2006, she fired off a letter to Bush:

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to seek clarification of the processes and policies employed by your Administration in determining whether materials contain classified information and when to withhold information from the public.

According to an article published in the Washington Post today, Flynt Leverett, a former National Security Council Advisory, who left the Administration in 2003, suggested that the White House had redacted substantial passages of an opinion article on Iran. According to Mr. Leverett, this article was "only a summary of a longer paper" he had written a few weeks earlier which the CIA had cleared as "containing no classified information."

I am concerned that your Administration is employing inconsistent policies when classifying information. If, indeed, redacting the information from the op-ed was necessary for national security purposes, then the CIA's failure to deem the information in the previously published version of the article as classified may have put our security at risk. If classifying information in the previously published version of the article was not necessary, then I am left to believe that your Administration redacted information for political purposes.

I would also appreciate an explanation behind your Administration's decision to redact substantial passages from Mr. Leverett's op-ed, even though reportedly the CIA had already cleared the information based on which Mr. Leverett had drafted those passages

Given the questions this incident raises about your Administration's consistency in applying policies and processes to reviewing classified information and your willingness to allow criticism by the national security and intelligence communities that disagree with your policies, I ask that you clarify and explain policies pertaining to how and when information is deemed classified and also your decision to intervene in the publication of the article written by Mr. Leverett.

Thank you for reviewing my request, and I await your response.


Louise M. Slaughter
Member of Congress

Hah! She is one tough female...and she's also the Chairwoman of the Rules Committee. No sooner did the Dems win Congress and get sworn in, than she came down like a ton of lead on lobbyists' gifts, trips, meals, etc that they showered folks like DeLay and Cunningham with, and forbade any more of that corrupting behavior. Gawd, think of the perks those people aren't going to get any longer to buy a vote.

Had a late lunch today or an early supper, whatever, at Marie Callendar's Restaurant this afternoon. They have the tenderest, most delicious pot roast I've ever encountered. Went there yesterday and had it, and just could not resist having it again today. Consider that I haven't eaten beef for a long time. No particular reason. Just hadn't. Until I saw the photo of that pot roast. Man, it's to kill for, it's so damned good. Don't know how long it will be on their special menu, so get it while it's available!

Ended up having breakfast on the wind tunnel sidewalk patio this morn. The other writer and I damned near froze to death with that icy wind that traveled in after the rain last night, even with the portable heater going full blast. Tomorrow the wind is gonna be heading off shore...a Santa Ana coming straight in off the desert. And it will be blazing sunny, but with that damned wind, it's not gonna be warm.

Meanwhile, the Boat Show is up and running at the Convention Center. Cheapest one is $85,000. Whoa! Which reminds me...they rescued that guy sailing by himself around the tip of South America. Very very lucky man.


Fast moves in the 110th Congress...Clinton too!

From American Progress:

Think Fast

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE) said yesterday that he believes top officials in the Bush administration -- "maybe even including the vice president" -- have "privately concluded they have lost Iraq and are simply trying to postpone disaster so the next president will 'be the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof,' in a chaotic withdrawal reminiscent of Vietnam."

The expected replacement of Gen. John Abizaid with Navy Admiral William Fallon to oversee the Iraq war "reflects a greater emphasis on countering Iranian power, a mission that relies heavily on naval forces and combat airpower to project American influence in the Persian Gulf," the New York Times report.

In its first legislative act, the 110th Congress voted 430-1 yesterday to approve "the broadest ethics and lobbying revision since the Watergate era." Today, the House will vote on a package to end anonymous sponsorship of earmarks.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman "fired the head of the department's nuclear weapons program on Thursday, citing a series of security failures at national laboratories, including the discovery of a computer device containing thousands of classified documents in the home of a former worker during a drug raid by the police."

Yesterday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) not only introduced himself to Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), but also asked him out for coffee. "By reaching out to Congressman Goode I'm not trying to be accepted, I'm trying to build bridges. In this world there are too many misunderstandings. I want to put a human face on things," explained Ellison.

With Zalmay Khalilzad headed to the United Nations, President Bush plans to appoint career diplomat Ryan Crocker to be U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. Crocker is currently U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan and is "among the State Department's most respected voices in the Middle East," the New York Times reports.

"New Orleans repeats mistakes as it rebuilds. ... [W]hile new federal guidelines call for raising houses to reduce the damage of future floods, most returning homeowners do not have to comply or are finding ways around the costly requirement, according to city officials."

And finally: Yesterday, Sen. Harry Reid's (D-NV) ascension to Majority Leader was almost overshadowed by former President Bill Clinton's quest for a bathroom. Minutes before Reid was to be sworn in, Clinton "sauntered into the Senate press gallery in search of a urinal. Reporters swarmed, some abandoning their seats in the chamber. ... 'They told me the closest restroom was in the press gallery,' Clinton explained."


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Writers, the 110th Congress and broken parts...

We've just had a short rain shower. That should be it for the night. Tomorrow is supposed to be cool and windy. No matter...we'll breakfast at the Acapulco "wind tunnel" patio in the morn, regardless. Unless there is rain. Since the other writer comes from a different part of town...and we have 9 microclimates in San Diego...there's no telling whether we wind up in the "wind tunnel" or the "concrete shoebox". The one sure thing is that we WILL have breakfast on one or the other patio.

So the writers have all agreed to give Rancho Corona a shot next Tues eve. This is good. But, as I said, they're gonna flat hate those chairs. I expect we'll all live through it. Think I spotted a small parking lot behind the place this morn. And there's a ramp. One of the writers is in a wheelchair, so the ramp is not only good, but necessary. Read a review online with a comment that the food at Rancho Corona is excellent. That alone could make the writers put up with the chairs. Come Tues, we'll find out.

We have an egroup email. Pretty quiet today. Think everyone was watching the 110th Congress get sworn in and gather. Really cheesy that Hastert didn't turn the gavel over to Pelosi as is customary, but simply sat in the back of the chamber like a toad, looking sullen. Faked applause too. Now that's low class.

Meanwhile devious Bush replaces two Generals with one General and an Admiral because he's "making adjustments" in handling the Iraq occupation. Obviously, he simply got rid of two Generals who didn't agree that "surging" the troops was a good idea, with a General and an Admiral who did. Or at least said they did.

And Condi will have a real diplomat in the State Dept now with Negroponte departing as Nat Intel Director. Negroponte can do dirty deeds with the rest of he did during Iran-Contra. Wonder who will take his place.

Was surprised that Bush Sr had hip replacement this morn. He had the other hip done awhile back. I wish him a speedy recovery...and yes, Arnold too. Arnold is not gonna be able to make two of his inaugration events even with rods and pins in his thigh after breaking his leg skiing. Just barely out of the hospital, I'm not surprised that he cannot immediately go back on full power.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Writers, a patio, and Sean Chercover's mystery...

Just got news that Sean Chercover's novel, "Big City, Bad Blood" hits bookstore shelves on January 9th. It's getting rave reviews and he's put them all on his site at . I learn also that he's a member of The Outfit which is a collection of Chicago crime writers...many of whom are well known and well loved by mystery fans. Nothing like a book coming out to get a writer all excited.

Speaking of writers, our Tuesday eve gathering of same are having a fit. We've been meeting for about seven years, happily eating, drinking and talking away, in the middle section of a restaurant patio in Old Town. And it pained the owner something fierce to have to tell us, a week ago this past Tuesday, that some guy had complained to the health Nazis that we were smoking there. Even though the side open to the parking lot was OPEN, it didn't help because of the plastic curtain that rolls down when it's cold or raining.

So last night, we moved to the front section of the patio. And it was about as uncomfortable as could be. Only round umbrella tables, permantly implanted in the floor, so we couldn't move them together or away from the tree branches on the side. We crowded around the table, but there were too many of us. Wretched situation.

Which caused me to stop on the way home to check out Rancho Corona a few blocks away. We'll be trying their patio out next Tuesday eve with fingers crossed. I do know already that they have the hardest damned chairs I've ever sat on. Had them made in Tijuana. Seats are square pieces of wood and the back of the chairs are completely vertical. Ain't no such thing as leaning back. We're gonna sit straight up, I kid you not. One of the writers said they'd damned well bring their own pillow to sit on.

So we talked away last night about the universe, string theory, having to change restaurants, and politics. All agreed it's past time to bring our people home from Iraq and get over to Afghanistan and delete bin Laden. It was he, after all, who hit us on 9/11, and we're not the forgiving kind when someone does something like that. Nor when an administration lies us into a war with a country that did not attack us and causes 3003 of our people to die and who knows how many wounded, plus the massive number of Iraqi deaths and the destruction of their country. Bush has a head like a block of cement. Cheney is worse, but he's not the prez. At least not openly.