Saturday, March 31, 2007

Kickin' back with those internet writers...

There are some websites and blogs that I read just for pure enjoyment. Very sitting on a front porch when you're a kid and listening to the adults talk. Or very amusing, like hearing talk while walking on a city street. Here's a small selection:

Overheard In New York:

Guy #1: My relationship isn't working out.
Guy #2: What's wrong, dude?
Guy #1: Well, I woke up today and realized there was a vase sitting on the mantle.
Guy #2: What the hell does that have to do with it?
Guy #1: It has no purpose! It just sits there!
Guy #2: Um... I think that's what vases usually do.
Guy #1: Exactly! That's why I didn't have any. They don't do anything. They're useless. There's absolutely no reason to have one, and now all of a sudden, I do. [Desperately] What has happened to me?!
Burly man who pulled frat boy out of tracks: Dude, are you drunk?
Frat boy: Ah... Ah... I don't know. I guess I had something to drink.
Burly man: Dude, next time you get on a train make sure it's there first!*********************************
Teen #1: So this kid, Jason -- every time we go to a party, he takes a bunch of beers and hides them around whoever's house we're at.
Teen #2: You mean, where nobody could find them?
Teen #1: Yeah -- in a potted plant, an underwear drawer, the mailbox -- anywhere that will ensure him a beer later on.
Teen #2: Christ, he's like an alcoholic Easter Bunny.
Going back to Valerie Street

One of my abiding interests is in the places where I once lived. I'm drawn back to them to see how they've changed.
I've got a lot of mileage showing on my odometer and I've switched places of residence many times, so I'll never get back to all my former homes. I've crossed dozens of them off my list, though.
The other day I went back and rolled along the 4600 block of Valerie Street in Bellaire. (Bellaire, Texas, that is.) I bought a new house on that block in 1951, I think it was. 4631 Valerie. Three bedrooms, one bath, attached garage. Price, $11,500.
That house is no longer there. In the mid-50s Interstate Loop 610 came along and wiped it out. The feeder road of the West Loop now runs through where my living room was.
[cont. at link above]
Friday, March 30, 2007

A review of the US troop chow hall in Kuwait: Would Michelin give it three stars?I'm currently at an unnamed US airbase in Kuwait and getting ready to fly out to Baghdad tonight..
But first things first. I mean visiting combat zones is nice and all that but..did your mother teach you ANYTHING?
Nothing is more important than food! First let's talk about food.
My first impression upon walking into the airbase commissary tent was, "Wow!"
They handed me a plate and then served me one-fourth of a chicken, broccoli, mashed potatoes and green beans. High-end cafeteria food but tasty and lots of it. I heaped up on that.
Then I noticed the salad bar. Mama, I'm home! Vitamins. High fiber. Anti-oxidants. Fruit. Eat your vegetables, troops!
Then I discovered the salad bar. And the coffee bar. And the juice bar. And the soda bar and the cold bottled water.
"But Jane," I asked myself. "What about dessert?"Chocolate pudding and ice cream bars. Not Chez Panisse or nothing but good. And the ambiance was great.
For an Army canteen, it was like Better Homes and Gardens -- red table cloths and silken flowers tastefully arranged in ceramic vases.
Plus lots of really hot dudes dressed in khaki and camo walking around with automatic weapons slung over their shoulders.
[cont at link above]
Live! From Paradise! #100
March 28th, 2007
The Old Billionaire’s been thinking about buying property near our mountain, and a few days ago I went with him while he looked the place over.
And what a place. Four hundred acres, mostly rolling pasture, with a mile of river frontage. Stock ponds, a humongous horse barn and two relatively new houses thrown in for good measure.
The Old Billionaire and I stood in a light rain near the smaller of the houses and took it all in. My thoughts were sharp and clear: What a beautiful place.
His words were just as sharp and even more clear: “It’ll do.”
[cont at link above]


Meanwhile, in San Diego...

Over at

Representative Issa (R-CA) continues his futile effort to defend his steps against US Atty Carol Lam, and her subsequent resignation. All to no avail as far as the citizen commentors are concerned.

I suspect the idea is to give him enough rope to hang himself, since he's behaving more like a CEO-salesman than anything else. I'm finding it highly amusing in that he doesn't seem to realize there are intelligent and knowledgeable people in the San Diego area who aren't buying what he's selling.

Then, in the Letters section in the link above, regarding the on-going problems the SDPD are having trying to cope with crime with only half the number of police that are needed, there's a great debate going on as to whether one of the commentors, a guy from Mesa, AZ, is real or a plant. Hilarious, cause that very guy is a friend of mine...and he's very very legitimate. More, I totally agree with what he wrote. You'd think "Edgar" would have the good sense to just Google the guy's name!


Friday, March 30, 2007

BushCo about to get Iraq's oil...

From Information Clearing House:

George Bush's Land Mine:
George Bush has a land mine planted in the supplemental appropriation legislation working its way through Congress. - He threatens a veto, but he might well be bluffing.

Buried deep in the legislation and intentionally obscured is a near-guarantee of success for the Bush Administration's true objective of the war-capturing Iraq's oil-and George Bush will not casually forego that.

[cont reading by clicking link above]


Clinton & blogs...Bush & his Blackberry....

From American Progress:

Think Fast

President Bill Clinton said blogs can help promote a more even discussion of politics. Clinton added, "They can do research and get the facts and don't have to bad-mouth people. ...I think all these blog sites are creating a whole new opportunity for public debate that may revitalize our politics in an old fashioned way."

Former deputy to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Kyle Sampson revealed yesterday that former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was not added to the dismissal list until just before the 2006 midterm elections, after Sampson "heard complaints from Karl Rove" that Iglesias had not been aggressive enough in pursuing cases of voter fraud. "Previously, Rove had not been tied so directly to the removal of the prosecutors."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- who pushed for Guantanamo's closure -- is continuing to press "others in the Bush administration to move war crimes trials of suspected terrorists from the Gitmo detention center to courts inside the U.S. because the military tribunals may appear tainted in the eye of the international community."

Peter Wehner, the White House Director of Strategic Initiatives, will be the latest loyal Bushie to depart. "I've been here six years, and there was just the sense that it was time to go. We've been through a lot," Wehner said. "Other officials have left the legislative affairs, domestic policy, homeland security, staff secretary, public liaison, speechwriting and first lady's offices."

In a letter addressed to Karl Rove, the House Government and Oversight Committee demanded to know who prepared the presentation delivered to General Service Administration employees and whether Rove or his aide Scott Jennings "consulted with anyone about whether it might be in violation of the Hatch Act. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) "also asked whether Rove or any members of his staff have given the same or similar PowerPoint presentations to political appointees at other government agencies."

President Bush, "who has alienated many Republicans on Capitol Hill, invited the entire House GOP caucus to the White House for the first time in his presidency." At one point in the meeting, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) turned to his colleagues to ask if they would stay with Bush, and they gave him a standing ovation.

And finally: President George H.W. Bush is a Blackberry addict. Yesterday he told an audience that when he and Barabara "attend Houston Astros games and sit behind home plate, he e-mails to friends from around the country who see him on TV. 'I e-mail back and tell them, "Okay, I'm going to wave to you after the next strike." And so it's a fun thing and I wave,' he said."


Thursday, March 29, 2007

McCain, time for wives....

From :

March 29, 2007
Desperate GOP wives.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain, like the man he is trying to replace, is "losing it," according to people who work with the Arizona senator.

Like George W. Bush, not only is McCain in denial over the U.S. military disaster in Iraq but McCain's wife Cindy has reportedly increasingly been in the company of a close (and younger) male friend.

Laura Bush has also been relying on the personal support of a close male friend, a wealthy Texas businessman, according to our well-placed Washington social sources.


From Rove to Guliani's hair....

From the Progress Report:

Think Fast

The Justice Department apologized for a Feb. 23 letter stating that Karl Rove did not play a role in the attorney purge. The Department "released new documents showing that [Gonzales's ex-aide Kyle] Sampson was the primary author of the letter, which was approved by the White House counsel," which itself "raises new questions of whether the Justice Department and the White House worked together to mislead Congress."

Insurgent attacks on Baghdad's fortified Green Zone have increased recently, with attacks "on six of the past seven days, once with deadly consequences." One State Department official also noted, "There are increasing attacks on the [U.S.] embassy."

Meanwhile, two hours after two truck bombs killed at least 85 people in Tal Afar yesterday, "a group of gunmen, including Shiite policemen, began going door-to-door and assassinated 70 Sunnis." The wave of revenge killings has continued this morning.

"Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans -- those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 -- receiving their largest share of national income since 1928. … The top 10 percent, roughly those earning more than $100,000, also reached a level of income share not seen since before the Depression."

The White House has undertaken a "bold, behind-the-scenes drive to advance a key domestic goal: immigration reform. ... The intense effort -- conceived by the president's chief political strategist, Karl Rove -- is intended to ensure that Bush will achieve at least one crucial policy victory in the last two years of his presidency."

Air Force Gen. Lance Smith yesterday said that if President Bush's escalation extends beyond the summer, "there is a 'high probability' that some Army units would have less than a year at home between combat rotations, further compressing the limited time to train and reconnect with families."

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is "holding up a popular bipartisan bill to crack down on cockfighting that was expected to pass easily in the Senate yesterday." House bill co-sponsor Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said that Coburn's hold "testifies to the powers of these shadowy forces that allow this illegal and barbaric scandal to continue."

And finally: We all know 2008 may see the first female or African-American president, but "few have focused on the related question": are we ready for our first bald president in modern times? With potential nominees Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, we may soon "hail a follically challenged chief executive." And thankfully, Giuliani's long-time "unpardonable comb-over" has been "transformed...into a more accepting and natural-looking sweep-back."


And away grandma Iraq!

From :

Blogger, 64, bound for Iraq
Berkeley woman hopes to embed with a U.S. unit
Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jane Stillwater is a 64-year-old Berkeley woman who left for Kuwait on Wednesday, hoping to embed with the U.S. military there and in Iraq as a blogger. And if she is refused? She's got a sleeping bag and plans to sleep on the beach in Kuwait until her return flight in three weeks.

Protection? A Berkeley city councilman tried in vain to get her some body armor; she's accepting online donations through PayPal so she can buy some in Kuwait.

Credentials? The military said the prolific blogger needs to be sponsored by a media outlet. No problem: The Lone Star Iconoclast, a 900-circulation liberal weekly in President Bush's vacation getaway of Crawford, Texas, is sponsoring her. Not that they're paying her. Then again, nearly all of the dozens of online columns Stillwater has produced over the past seven years for various publications have been labors of love.

Money for Arabic translators? Unnecessary. "I've been all over the world," she said, "and you always find people who speak English."

Stillwater's is the tale of one citizen journalist's quest for the truth in the Middle East. No matter what happens, it is bound to become a story. Conversations with Stillwater are punctuated every 45 seconds or so with the phrase, "That reminds me of a story." About selling 60,000 Girl Scout cookies with her daughter over the years. About meeting a blind imam in Afghanistan last year. About being asked if she wanted to appear on "Judge Judy" regarding a neighbor dispute.

Stillwater said she's going to Iraq to write about the war for "real people." She's tired of getting news from TV journalists who throw on a khaki vest for a few photo ops before flying home first-class. She has lived in Section 8 housing in Berkeley for 27 years, and she saved for her $1,072 airline ticket the same way she has saved for other exploits.

"All I eat are peanut butter sandwiches," she said. She bikes everywhere, keeps her 17-year-old Toyota Tercel chugging along and wears clothes she finds discarded on the street -- like the green jeans and soccer jersey she wears now. "This sweater I bought at Goodwill, though. Maybe 2 bucks. These socks? I think my kids outgrew them."

"I don't go to movies, I don't do anything," she said. "You can save a lot of money that way."
So why did she book a ticket without getting the Defense Department to bless her coverage? She couldn't pass up a ticket at that price. Karma will take care of the rest.

A slight 120 pounds with silvery hair pulled back into a ponytail and round, brushed-metal-framed glasses, Stillwater calls herself a "responsible flake," someone who can be flaky and "take care of business when I have to." She proudly cops to being very "Berkeley" -- but old-school Berkeley.

"I'm more Berkeley in the way it used to be -- before the yuppies moved in and started buying $600,000 houses," she said. She got a master's degree in city planning from UC Berkeley in 1966, a time she called "the best time of my life, bar none," and worked as a legal secretary for years. She's never been married, but she had children with four different men. Each was a story.
Stillwater described herself as more of an "old hippie" than a grandma. In fact, she said she regularly communicates with three of her four adult children but has little contact with her grandchild. "One of my greatest accomplishments were my kids, and one of my greatest failures were with my kids," she said with a note of regret.

But other children are a part of her life. She's an emergency foster care parent, providing temporary housing for kids. She's a substitute teacher in a juvenile hall. And she befriended Berkeley High School students when she lobbied to get a crosswalk painted near their school; she was upset they kept getting tickets for jaywalking.

"She talks about tiny issues and big, serious subjects, but she always mixes her brand of humor in with it," said Berkeley City Council member Kris Worthington, who tried in vain to obtain body armor for Stillwater.

Her farewell party for the Middle East on Tuesday night was subdued. Her 27-year-old son, Joe, and his girlfriend stopped by with the intention of taking her out to dinner. Afterward, they planned to do laundry at her place. Instead, they just chatted for a while before Stillwater shooed them away so she could finish packing.

The next morning, she took BART to the airport by herself. Cheaper that way.

Joe Stillwater said, "My mom may seem like a flaky Berkeley lady." But through a combination of luck, common sense and, he said, good karma, she always seems to come out OK. Which may explain why her friends aren't worried that among Stillwater's travel reading is the Lonely Planet guide to Kuwait, which she borrowed from the library a few days ago.

"We never had a lot of money growing up, but we were always going on these wild trips and adventures," Joe Stillwater said. To Mexico. To a Buddhist retreat in Oregon. On a Caribbean cruise as a reward for selling all those Girl Scout cookies. The adventures are remembered in photographs taped across the walls of her two-story townhouse. A sign that reads, "Welcome to the Stillwater Museum," hangs on the front door.

If it's called a museum, Stillwater said, "then I don't have to keep it all tidy. I can just curate it."
Last year she went to Afghanistan on a Global Exchange tour. To help pay for a ticket, she held a sign soliciting money at various liberal activist events and demonstrations.

This is the first time she's gone overseas solo. Stillwater isn't scared, though. She may walk stiffly up a flight of stairs, the by-product, she said, of doing 100 jumping jacks every day of her life. But she can still run and is confident she'll be able to shoulder the 30 pounds of equipment she's lugging.

Her pack doesn't include a laptop. She plans to transmit stories from Internet cafes. If she finds them.

Her editor awaits the results.

"I would like a source that doesn't necessarily adhere to the company line about what the soldiers are facing over there," said W. Leon Smith, publisher of the Lone Star Iconoclast. He'd be disappointed if she doesn't get an embedded spot. "I'm really hoping she gets some interviews with people there."

As Stillwater waited for her plane at the airport Wednesday, the Army was still trying to find a unit in which to embed her.

"Oh, yeah, her application looks fine," said Army Spc. J. Wyatt Harper, a media embedding coordinator for Iraq. "We're just trying to find a unit anywhere that will take her. There's a lot of people out there now."

Even City Council member Worthington worries about how she'll be able to leap the language barrier without being able to afford an interpreter.

"But by the power of her personality and uniqueness, she might find some stories that other reporters might just overlook," he said. "And people tend to open up to you when you're a peace activist."

Stillwater's sense of mission goes back to the day in 1976, when she asked a hypnotist to look into her future. The hypnotist said that she didn't predict futures. Oh, come on and try, Stillwater said.
So the hypnotist offered two scenarios. In one, Stillwater was told that she wouldn't die until she's 88 as long as she kept seeking the light of truth. In the alternative scenario, she dies while laying on a couch, inflated by a life of gorging on junk food.

"So everything I've done in my life since then goes back to that scenario," she said. "How do I want to live my life? Sitting on the couch or seeking the light."

Stillwater makes little effort to hide her progressive politics, and has drawn scorn from conservative bloggers for her commentary and activist stunts. On July 4, 2002, she traveled to Washington, D.C., to serve an eviction notice -- "Three-day Notice to Perform or Quit" -- on President Bush "based on multiple violations of their lease, The United States Constitution."

In her last blog post ( before she left for Kuwait, Stillwater confronted what could happen next with her usual mix of self-deprecating humor and biting commentary.

She told readers that she was headed to "Baghdad to write fabulous stories for YOU all about how our brave troops are doing a bang-up job over there despite the fact that their bosses in the White House are sadistic bastards, terribly inefficient crooks and totally nuts -- or I will spend three weeks wandering the streets of Kuwait City waiting for my flight home, searching for internet cafes and trying to sell bootleg Girl Scout cookies."


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Some excellent agents representing excellent books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Julia Stuart's THE MATCHMAKER OF PERIGORD, in which a barber turned matchmaker sets out to bring love to a village of eccentrics, to Alison Callahan at Harper, in a nice deal, by Grainne Fox at Ed Victor Ltd. (NA).UK rights to Transworld, for publication in 2007. Rights sold previously to Random House in Spain, De Kern in Holland, and Goldmann in

Germany.Journalist Tatiana Boncompagni's first novel, GILDING LILY, a humorous roman a clef set amid Manhattan's high society play dates, loaner gowns and jewels, and socialite PR specialists, drawing on the author's own experience reporting on the socialite scene for the NYT and life as daughter to an Italian Princess and wife to Max Hoover, heir to the vacuum cleaning fortune, to Lucia Macro at William Morrow, in a pre-empt, by Diane Bartoli at Artists Literary Group (NA).


From the author of VISIGOTH, Gary Amdahl's THE INTIMIDATOR STILL LIVES IN OUR HEARTS, a collection of short fiction in which a mob boss hires a ghost writer to pen his autobiography, a bookseller finds himself in Nascar country, and the vagaries of office politics are considered, to Ben Barnhart at Milkweed, by Elise Proulx at Frederick Hill Bonnie Nadell Agency (world English)

Jim Knipfel's NOOGIE'S TIME TO SHINE, in which an ATM thief pulls off a great caper and hits the road with his Siamese cat and 350 pounds of $20 bills, to Ken Siman at Virgin, in a nice deal, by Melanie Jackson Agency (NA).


Susan Hill's THE BATTLE FOR GULLYWITH, based on chapters posted for comment on her blog, to Sarah Odedina at Bloomsbury Children's, for publication in 2008 by Vivien Green at Sheil Land Associates (UK).


28-year-old screenwriter Tom Rob Smith's debut novel CHILD 44, pitched as in the tradition of Robert Harris and Martin Cruz Smith, set in the Soviet Union on the eve of Stalin's death, and based in part on real events, to Suzanne Baboneau at Simon & Schuster UK, at auction, for publication in spring 2008, by James Gill at PFD. US rights are with Jim Rutman at Sterling Lord.Rutman@sll.comTranslation:


Film rights to Lauren St. John's debut children's novel THE WHITE GIRAFFE, to Walden Media, by Rebecca Watson at Valerie Hoskins Associates, on behalf of Catherine Clarke at the Felicity Bryan


Cindy Lu's THE FOUR MAN PLAN, which began as a one-woman show, about the author's struggles to find love and the dating plan, using mathematical equations and graphs, she invented along the way to happily ever after, to Ann Campbell at Broadway, at auction, by Kirsten Neuhaus and David Vigliano at Vigliano Associates (NA).


Timothy Leary and Bill Graham Presents author Robert Greenfield's AHMET ERTEGUN AND THE RAISE AND FALL OF ROCK 'N' ROLL, a biography of the Atlantic Records founder who recorded Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Bobby Darin, Sonny and Cher, the Coasters, Crosby Still Nash & Young, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Yes, the Bee Gees, Bette Midler, Bonnie Raitt, Phil Collins, Tori Amos, Kid Rock, and dozens more of the biggest names in popular music, to Bob Bender at Simon & Schuster, by Paul Bresnick at Paul Bresnick Agency (world English).


James Hornfischer's NEPTUNE'S INFERNO, a character-focused narrative portrait of our Navy's bloodiest and most pivotal campaign of World War II, the epic three-month struggle in late 1942 to win the vital seaways off Guadalcanal, America's first offensive of the Pacific war, to Tracy Devine at Bantam Dell, by Frank Weimann at The Literary Group (world).

Pulitzer-winning historian Taylor Branch's WRESTLING HISTORY: The Bill Clinton Tapes, drawing on 2,600 pages of notes from nearly 80 interview sessions while Clinton was president, though Clinton kept the actual tapes ("I'm not calling this a biography of Clinton or a history of the administration. It is what it was like to live through it that way, sitting alone with him, talking about the presidency as he saw it, right in the moment."), called "a log of fresh experience, anguish, and reflection" by the publisher, to Alice Mayhew at Simon & Schuster, for publication in late 2008, by Liz Darhansoff of Darhansoff, Verrill & Feldman.


NYT bestselling author of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter Bruce Cameron's 8 SIMPLE RULES FOR MARRYING MY DAUGHTER, tracking another transition, from grown daughter to bride-to-be, and explains to fathers (and mothers) mysteries like why the wedding has to be in colors you've never heard of and why the wedding cake costs as much as a compact car, to Trish Todd at Touchstone Fireside, by Scott Miller at Trident Media Group (NA).


Craig Mullaney's THE UNFORGIVING MINUTE, about a West Point grad/former Rhodes Scholar/Army captain who fought in Afghanistan, reflecting on his own struggle to study, practice, and teach war, analyzing the education of a warrior and the true definition of courage, to Jane Fleming at Penguin Press, by E.J. McCarthy at EJ McCarthy Agency (World).

Jon Provost and Laurie Jacobson's TIMMY'S IN THE WELL, the author's Hollywood career, including 7 years as Timmy on "Lassie," and its effect on his family, to Ron Pitkin at Cumberland House, in a nice deal, by Anne McDermott at Anne McDermott Management.


Czech philosopher and Catholic priest Tomas Halik's CONFESSOR'S NIGHT, a first book in English translation, offering philosophical observations on what it is like to view the events of the daily news through the eyes of a confessor, to Bill Barry and Trace Murphy in Doubleday, in a very nice deal, in a two-book deal, by Marly Rusoff at Marly Rusoff & Associates (world English).


Oh yeah...I remember you. You're one of the good guys!

From Information Clearing House:

The American Ghosts of Abu Ghraib
By Sam Provance

For those of you who have not heard of me, I am Sam Provance. My career as an Army sergeant came to a premature end at age 32 after eight years of decorated service, because I refused to remain silent about Abu Ghraib, where I served for five months in 2004 at the height of the abuses.

[click the link above to continue reading]


FBI Agent told to keep quiet after objecting to US Atty Lam's dismissal...

From Reuters via :

FBI Agent Told to Keep Quiet Over Attorney Firings
By Thomas Ferraro
Tuesday 27 March 2007

An FBI agent was warned to keep quiet about the dismissal of a U.S. attorney after he told a newspaper her firing would hurt the agency's ongoing investigations and speculated politics was involved, a U.S. Senate panel heard on Tuesday.

FBI Director Robert Mueller defended the handling of the incident, saying: "I do not believe it's appropriate for our special agents in charge to comment to the media on personnel decisions that are made by the Department of Justice."

"I profoundly disagree," replied Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, who told the panel of the warning to the agent. "He (the agent) was simply saying that it would affect cases that were ongoing. And I think he's entitled to his opinion."

The exchange came as Mueller's testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is ramping up its investigation into the firing last year of eight of the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys.

The Bush administration contends the firings were justified. The mostly Democratic critics of the dismissals question whether the prosecutors were fired for political motives.

The furor has prompted calls for President George W. Bush to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who heads the Justice Department. Bush has rejected such calls, saying he retains confidence in the chief U.S. law enforcement officer.

At a wide-ranging hearing on the FBI, Mueller said he was unaware that any ongoing investigation had been damaged by the dismissals. FBI agents help investigate cases brought by federal prosecutors.

"Politics Involved?"

Carol Lam, who helped win the 2005 political corruption conviction of then-U.S. Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California, was among seven prosecutors fired on December 7.

On January 13, the San Diego Union-Tribune quoted Dan Dzwilewski, head of FBI's San Diego office, as saying Lam was crucial to ongoing investigations. "I guarantee politics is involved," he was quoted saying.

Feinstein said her chief counsel had called the FBI's San Diego office to verify the accuracy of the story. She said the office confirmed it was true "but they also said they'd been warned to say no more."

Mueller said he had heard about the article and followed up.

"Well, my understanding is that our chief out there believes he was misquoted (and) ... that our investigations were continuing, without any diminishment," he said.

Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record), a New York Democrat, noted that among the shifting reasons given for firing prosecutors was failure to energetically pursue voter-fraud investigations.

Schumer asked Mueller if he was aware of any FBI voter-fraud probe that should have resulted in an indictment but did not.

"Not to my knowledge," the FBI director replied.


Out of Iraq! Quick!

From :

General McCaffrey Says US Military in "Strategic Peril"

An influential retired Army general released a dire assessment of the situation in Iraq, based on a recent round of meetings there with Gen. David H. Petraeus, and 16 other senior US commanders.

"The population is in despair," retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey wrote in an eight-page document compiled in his capacity as a professor at West Point. "Life in many of the urban areas is now desperate." McCaffrey says that the US military is in "strategic peril."


From Army moral to dental flossing...

From American Progress:

Think Fast

"The Army's new acting surgeon general said Tuesday she is concerned about long-term morale because the military lacks money to hire enough nurses and mental health specialists to treat thousands of troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan."

"The House on Tuesday approved a two-year extension [through 2010] of a program offering tax credits for construction of low-income housing in areas hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005."

After environmental groups leaked the Interior Department's secret plan to "gut" the Endangered Species Act yesterday, senators vowed to block the proposed changes through appropriations legislation.

"Hundreds of Iraqis detained in the current security crackdown have been crammed into two prisons run by the Defense Ministry that were designed to hold only dozens of people."

"Federal and state lawmakers have launched a new drive to pass the Equal Rights Amendment," which "would subject legal claims of gender discrimination to the same strict scrutiny given by courts to allegations of racial discrimination." The constitutional amendment was three states short of passage in 1982.

$100 million. The amount of the penalty the leading manufacturer of night vision gear will pay for sending classified materials overseas.

Shiite police and militants, "enraged by massive truck bombings," went on a "revenge spree against Sunni residents" in the town of Tal-Afar, killing as many as 60 people.

And finally: Angelina Jolie's father, actor Jon Voight, was yesterday spotted "putting in a good word for meticulous oral hygiene." Waiting for a meeting in the Hart Senate office building, Voight engaged in a "five-minute dental-flossing session." "He was really digging in there," one witness noted. "Like some people pace and talk on their cell phones, he was pacing and flossing."


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

On the sale of the LA Times...

From Editor and Publisher:

Bloomberg Report: Tribune to Accept Zell Bid By End of Week
By E&P Staff
Published: March 27, 2007 9:00 PM ET

NEW YORK Bloomberg News reports tonight that Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times and other papers and TV stations, "will probably accept real estate billionaire Sam Zell's $8 billion takeover offer by the end of the week, according to people familiar with the matter.

"This is not yet confirmed by others. "

An agreement is likely by Tribune's self-imposed deadline of March 31, said the people, who declined to be named because no decision has been made," Bloomberg continues. Zell's offer of $33 a share is 6.8 percent above yesterday's close. Zell spokeswoman Terry Holt didn't immediately return a call from Bloomberg seeking comment. Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman declined to comment.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Privacy? Privacy no longer exists...

From Wayne Madsen Report:

March 26, 2007

WMR has been reporting for some time on the massive theft of personal data by a covert U.S. intelligence “black bag” program to populate a renewed secret Total Information Awareness System series of databases. Since being cut off from funding by Congress in 2003, the TIA has continued secretly under the aegis of the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency. WMR’s sources in the Intelligence Community have told us on background that many of the so-called data thefts are being carried out by U.S. intelligence black bag teams operating outside of legal authority.

TIA’s former program director, Iran-contra felon Admiral John Poindexter, ....

[continued at: ]


Repubs want to use Bill Clinton to divert attention from BushCo crimes...

From the Drudge Report:

Former President Clinton requested to testify before House Committee Mon Mar 26 2007 17:22:23 ET Washington, D.C.

Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-TX) today asked Former President Bill Clinton if he would be available to testify at the Democrats' Thursday hearing on presidential pardon authority. "Former President Clinton is no stranger to controversial pardons, most notably the pardon of Marc Rich on his last day in office," stated Ranking Member Smith. "I can think of no better person to address this issue."

At Thursday's hearing of the Judiciary's Crime Subcommittee entitled, "The Appropriate Use of the Presidential Pardoning Power," Democrats are expected to explore what is and is not the appropriate use of pardons, despite a president's plenary power to issue pardons. President Clinton granted pardons or commuted the sentences of nearly 500 people, including fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose wife donated $450 thousand to the Clinton Library. Other pardons included a person accused of cocaine trafficking and a former Democratic committee chairman indicted on political corruption charges.

The Constitution gives the President the absolute authority to grant clemency, commutation, and remission of fines for offenses. Despite this absolute authority, presidents are not immune from criticism and even congressional attempts to restrict pardon authority."Mr. Clinton's exercise of his pardon authority would be of real interest to Members of the Subcommittee," concluded Smith. "I hope he will lend his expertise


From Novak to Santorum...

From American Progress:

Think Fast

Bob Novak writes, “With nearly two years remaining in his presidency, George W. Bush is alone.
In half a century, I have not seen a president so isolated from his own party in Congress. … The saving grace that some Republicans find in the dispute over U.S. attorneys is that, at least temporarily, it draws attention away from debate over an unpopular war.”

Despite President Bush’s recent change in rhetoric, top White House economic officials stilll don’t consider today’s income inequality “an inherently bad thing. … The administration hasn’t yet offered any sweeping proposals to resist the market forces producing inequality — and probably won’t.”

Five U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday in roadside bombings, four of them in the Diyala province east of the capital — a religiously-mixed area where insurgents fleeing the Baghdad crackdown are believed to have sought refuge. Diyala has seen “fierce fighting in recent months.”

Lawyers for New York City are rejecting calls to release police records of spying activities conducted on progressive activist groups in the lead-up to the 2004 Republican National Convention. The lawyers say “the documents should remain secret because the news media will ‘fixate upon and sensationalize them.’”

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) said last night during an interview on 60 Minutes, “There’s not a single person in America that should vote for me because Elizabeth has cancer… Do not vote for us because you feel some sympathy or compassion for us. That would be an enormous mistake.”

“Is CNN building bridges to the longtime Fox News-friendly Bush administration? That’s the message one could take from CNN’s guests at the Radio and TV Correspondents Dinner at the Washington Hilton this Wednesday. CNN is hosting top Bush adviser Karl Rove, as well as Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

The LA Times writes, “[N]early all the major 2008 presidential candidates — both announced and presumed — are wrestling with the technology that has made such successes of MySpace, Facebook, MeetUp and other social networking sites.” To see which tools the candidates are using and how they stack up to one another, check out NetTrends ‘08.

“The senior American envoy in Iraq, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, held talks last year with men he believed represented major insurgent groups in a drive to bring militant Sunni Arabs into politics,” the New York Times repots. “He is the first American official to publicly acknowledge holding such talks.”

And finally: Get your tickets early. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) “is getting into the documentary filmmaking business and he’s out to tell "the other side of the story." Santorum said last week “that he is planning two film projects in part to counter what he characterized as the stream of left-wing documentaries coming from Hollywood and independent filmmakers.”


No more burying streams due to mining....Good!!!

From AP via :

Judge Blocks Mountaintop Mine Permits
The Associated Press
Monday 26 March 2007
Miners would have been able to fill valleys with mined ore.

Charleston, West Virginia - A federal judge ruled Friday that the Army Corps of Engineers illegally issued permits for four mountaintop removal mines without adequately determining whether the environment would be harmed.

U.S. District Judge Chuck Chambers rescinded the permits, which allow four mines operated by Massey Energy Co. to fill nearby valleys with dirt, rocks and other material removed to expose coal seams.

The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and two other environmental groups had sued to force the corps to perform more extensive environmental reviews before granting valley fill permits for the mines.

The corps had maintained that more extensive reviews weren't necessary for the permits.

Chambers remanded the permits to the corps for further consideration.

Messages left after hours for the corps and for Richmond, Va.-based Massey were not immediately returned.

The issue of mountaintop removal and valley fills has been argued in state and federal courts in the region for nearly a decade. Coal operators claim the practice is an efficient way to expose seams in mountainous coalfields.

Environmentalists call the technique destructive and point to a 2005 study that said mountaintop removal and valley fills had buried 1,200 miles of headwater streams in Appalachia.

The corps had argued that mitigation techniques, including restoring streams, would offset any harmful effects. Chambers, however, said the agency failed to assess the full impact of destroying headwater streams within a watershed.

"The evidence to date shows that the Corps has no scientific basis - no real evidence of any kind - upon which it bases its decisions to permit this permanent destruction to streams and headwaters," said Steve Roady, a lawyer with Washington-based Earthjustice, which represented the environmental groups.

Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said he had not read the ruling and had no immediate comment. The association had intervened in the lawsuit.


Hidden war dead...This is NOT RIGHT!!!

From Chicago Tribune via :

America's Hidden War Dead
By Howard Witt
The Chicago Tribune
Monday 26 March 2007

More than 770 civilians working for US firms have lost their lives supporting the military in Iraq, and some families are now speaking out.

Houston - Like thousands of other Americans who have served in Iraq since the U.S. intervention began four years ago, Walter Zbryski came home in a coffin. Only his coffin was not draped in an American flag or accompanied by a military honor guard.

Instead, the mangled body of the 56-year-old retired firefighter from New York City was shipped back to his family in June 2004 in the bloodied clothes in which he died, with half of his head blown away, according to Zbryski's brother Richard.

"I viewed the body," Richard Zbryski said. "What really upset me was that he was laying there floating in at least 6 inches of his own body fluids. They didn't even clean him up for us."

Zbryski's death was not counted among the official tally of more than 3,200 American military personnel who have been killed in Iraq, nor was it noted by the Defense Department in a news release. That's because Zbryski was not a soldier-he was a truck driver working in the private army of hundreds of thousands of contractors hired by the Pentagon to support the logistical side of the massive American war effort in Iraq.

[continue at: ]


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hagel warning Bush on impeachment...

From Information Clearing House:

Some see impeachment as option:

President Bush is flouting Congress and the public, so angering lawmakers that some consider impeachment an option over his war policy, a senator from Bush's own party said Sunday.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Rules or Laws for the Stars and Stripes....

From Ed in answer to Barb's question:

No, those "rules" are not laws. All the rules surrounding the handling of our flag, and others
are meant to insure respect for the flag, but they do not have the force of law.. That is why you see the American flag in whole or in part, put on vehicles, clothes, etc.--and even used to sell products
(which is disgusting, but lawful).

Years ago a teenage girl (read hippie) was arrested on the phony charge of disturbing the peace for wearing an American flag stitched to the seat of her pants (she was acquitted). We don't need laws to try to force people to treat the flag with respect--laws never can do that and never will teach that.

People learn respect for the flag from the way people act and conduct themselves who do respect and revere the flag and who do have some appreciation for such symbols of our national heritage and character. If people don't learn it from watching the way veterans in general, and disabled veterans in particular, revere the flag, they will never learn it. It's that simple. To try to force any view of "patriotism" onto people under threat of law, is to invite the eventual institutionalizing of the fascist and authoritarian mind into our culture.

Every time you turn around some idiot is trying to pass laws to make any misuse of the flag a crime--which is a path we never want to go down. What symbol will we "protect" next when we start that kind of stuff?


Friday, March 23, 2007

On the matter of recalled pet food...

We've all read about 60 million cans/packages of pet food having to be recalled because there was rat poison in it. That's all well and good that pets won't be eating any more of that stuff.

However, we've probably all read or heard tales of very poor, aged people who have had to resort to eating pet food to survive. How many of those folks, I wonder, have perished because of this rat poison contamination? Has anyone, anywhere, had any concern about that? Has anyone, anywhere thought to investigate? To check with any hospitals? Done anything?


Thursday, March 22, 2007

From Genius to Sen Harry Reid...good books!

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Ron Leshem's BEAUFORT, written as the diary of Erez Liberti, the head of a commando team stationed at Beaufort during the last winter of Israeli occupation, a look at the triviality of war and death, and the courage it takes to put an end to it, to Philip Rappaport at Bantam Dell, at auction, by Rebecca Friedman at Sterling Lord Literistic, on behalf of Deborah Harris at the Deborah Harris Agency.Foreign rights to Harvill Secker in the UK, in a pre-empt, by Caspian Denis at Abner Stein; to Rowohlt in Germany, by Liepman Agency; to Editions du Seuil in France, by La Nouvelle Agence.Foreign: Deborah Harris

Twenty-seven-year old Ross Raisin's debut OUT BACKWARD, told in the voice the 18-year-old son of a Yorkshire farmer, to Harper, in a pre-empt, and to Mary Mount at Viking UK, for publication in spring 2008, by Peter Straus at Rogers, Coleridge & White.


Sarah Graves writing as Mary Squibb's HOME REPAIR IS HOMICIDE mystery series titles 11 and 12, to Kate Miciak at Bantam Dell, by Al Zuckerman at Writers House (NA).


Assistant District Attorney and then chief of Boston's gang unit Raffi Yessayan's EIGHT IN THE BOX, featuring a well-drawn ensemble cast of prosecutors and cops working to bring to justice a killer with a gruesome MO, to Mark Tavani at Ballantine, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Simon Green of POM (world).Rights:


Author of May 2007 Booksense pick THE MOTEL LIFE and frontman for Richmond Fontaine, Willy Vlautin's NORTHLINE and a second novel, again to Jennifer Pooley at Harper Perennial, for publication as a trade paperback originals, by Jason Cooper at Faber and Faber (US)

Senate majority leader Harry Reid's book intertwining his own story, including his early life of abject poverty in Searchlight, Nevada, with a cautionary tale of contemporary Washington, D.C. ("If I can no nothing greater in this book than explain those two places to each other, then I will have done something important"), written with Esquire executive editor Mark Warren, to Neil Nyren at Putnam, at auction, for publication in spring 2008, by Heather Schroder at ICM.


George Stephanopoulos and Todd Brewster's THE PERFECT PRESIDENT, examining the often surprising characteristics that have contributed to presidential greatness over the course of American history, to Bob Miller at Hyperion, with Gretchen Young editing, for publication in spring 2008, by Esther Newberg at ICM.

Clash of the Fundamentalisms author Tariq Ali's THE DUEL: PAKISTAN IN THE FLIGHTPATH OF AMERICAN POWER, taking stock of America's alignment with the precariously balanced military government on the frontline of the war against terror, to Colin Robinson at Scribner, by Andrew Nurnberg at Andrew Nurnberg Associates.


Winner of the 2005 Governor-General's Award for fiction David Gilmour's THE FILM CLUB, about his decision to let his 15-year-old son drop out of high school if the boy agrees to watch three films a week with him, and how the film club changed their lives, too, Jonathan Karp at Twelve, by Sam Hiyate at The Rights Factory.UK/Commonwealth rights to Ebury and Canadian rights to Thomas Allen & Sons. Foreign submissions are underway now.sam@therightsfactory.comForeign:


The Forgetting and The Immortal Game author and blogger David Shenk's THE GENIUS IN ALL OF US, showing how cutting edge cognitive science is unveiling a new understanding of talent, "giftedness," and brilliance -- and its practical applications to our own lives, to Bill Thomas at Doubleday, by Sloan Harris at ICM (world).


No sharing unless he gives permission...Secrecy!!!

From Secrecy News...


In what is being characterized by subordinates as an act of"managerial dementia," the Director of the Congressional Research Service this week prohibited all public distribution of CRS products without prior approval from senior agency officials.

"I have concluded that prior approval should now be required at the division or office level before products are distributed to members of the public," wrote CRS Director Daniel P. Mullohan in a memo to all CRS staff. "This policy is effective immediately. "While CRS has long refused (with Congressional concurrence) to make its electronic database of reports available to the public online, it has still been possible for members of the press, other researchers, and other government officials to request specific reports from the congressional support agency.But now, "to avoid inconsistencies and to increase accountability, CRS policy requires prior approval at the division level before products can be disseminated to non-congressionals," Director Mullohan wrote.

The new policy demonstrates that "this is an organization in freefall," according to one CRS analyst. "We are now indeed working for Captain Queeg.""We're all sort of shaking," another CRS staffer told Secrecy News. "I can't do my work." "There's not a day that goes by that I don't talk to someone in another agency, another organization, or someone else outside of Congress and we share information," the staffer said. "Now I can't do that?"

A copy of the March 20 memorandum from Director Mullohan, entitled "Distribution of CRS Products to Non-Congressionals,"was obtained by Secrecy News and is available here:

It was also reported by Elizabeth Williamson in the Washington Post today. None of the CRS personnel contacted by Secrecy News was able to explain exactly what propmpted CRS Director Mulhollan to issue the policy memorandum this week. While other parts of government strive to eliminate unnecessary obstacles to information sharing, the new CRS policy may be seen as an experiment in what happens when barriers to information sharing are arbitrarily increased. It probably won't be good.

With some frequency, CRS analysts contact FAS with requests for information or documents. (A recent CRS report on Chinese naval modernization reprinted a large excerpt of an analysis of Chinese submarine patrols by FAS analyst Hans Kristensen.) We haven't been shy about requesting information or documents in return. And both sides seem to have benefitted.

"More important, Congress has benefitted," a staffer said. But now such working relationships may be jeopardized.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Diplomacy: You meet them, we don't meet with you!

From Information Clearing House:

U.S. ends Palestinian boycott:
The United States made its first contact with the new Hamas-Fatah coalition Tuesday, ending a yearlong diplomatic boycott of the Palestinian government.

Israel to snub foreign politicians who meet Hamas ministers:
The Israeli government put into force an earlier decision to snub foreign statesmen who meet with Hamas ministers, serving in the cabinet of the Palestinian unity government, local daily Haaretz reported Wednesday.


Sooner Josh Marshall's guy is in DC, the better...

From the Washington Post:

Bloggers Storm the Senatorial Gates

In the latest sign of the growing strength of the liberal "net roots" community, Senate Democrats have invited a trio of prominent bloggers into one of their formal, inside-the-Capitol luncheons for the first time.

On Thursday, John Aravosis of AMERICAblog, David Waldman, a contributing editor at Daily Kos, and Duncan Black of Eschaton are slated to brief the Senate Democratic Policy Committee luncheon.

That's a weekly gathering of the Democratic caucus, led by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), and held inside the stately Lyndon Baines Johnson room just off the Senate floor. This particular meeting is always a bit less formal than the Tuesday caucus luncheons, where group policy decisions are hashed out. Instead, the Dorgan meetings are meant to stir discussion and long-term thinking about issues.

In an interview with Capitol Briefing today, Dorgan acknowledged this was a big step for the group, actually inviting the progressive supporters (and sometimes agitators) into their meetings. "It's a new world out there," Dorgan said. "The Internet is changing everything."
Dorgan declined to elaborate on what he expected from Aravosis, Waldman and Black, whether they would be specifically asked to stick to talking about technology or whether they would also be advising the caucus on tactics. But he said he's particularly interested in learning more about what the Internet has done to transform public discourse on issues and politics.

"How are these [technological] changes affecting the public dialogue?" he asked.Normal attendees to Dorgan's luncheon are establishment liberal-to-moderate activists, authors and former officials. In recent years that's included figures such as New York Times columnist and author Thomas Friedman, Democratic strategists James Carville and Paul Begala, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. A few years back, when Dorgan really wanted to stir the pot, he invited Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp. and the head of FOX News, into the Democratic lion's den.

Senate Democrats have grown closer to the net roots crowd in the last two years, including moves by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), to hire a staffer more than two years ago whose sole job was to work with progressive bloggers.

But the blogosphere has never before been invited into the Capitol to address the Democratic caucus, according to Dorgan. The closest it has come was two years ago at an informal policy retreat the caucus held across the street in a meeting room of the Library of Congress.

Considering the distinguished tenures and ages of some members of the caucus -- Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.), 89; Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), 75, just to name two -- how much will they be able to follow along with the high-tech dialogue on Thursday?

"Every member of our caucus is sharp as a tack, up to date and Internet savvy," Dorgan said, pausing for effect. "That's our position and we're sticking to it."

By Paul Kane March 20, 2007; 4:55 PM ET


Executive Privilage? Not hardly...

From American Progress:


Yesterday, President Bush announced that he would offer "key members" of his staff, including Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, to be "interviewed" by "relevant members" of congressional committees about events surrounding the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. These interviews would be conducted off the record "with no transcript, with no oath." The Senate rejected his offer.

The prohibition of testimony from White House aides and the promised opposition to any congressional subpoenas is, according to Bush, an attempt to protect his executive privilege to receive "candid" and confidential advice from White House staffers.

But as Salon's Glen Greenwald notes, the protections from subpoenas granted by executive privilege have been ruled by the Supreme Court (in U.S. v. Nixon - 1974) to be relevant only when there exists a need "to protect military, diplomatic, or sensitive national security secrets." Similar reasoning was used by "District Court Judge Norma Holloway Johnson in her decision denying Clinton's attempt to rely on this privilege to resist Ken Starr's subpoenas."

The Congressional Research Service has identified 31 individuals from the Clinton administration who testified -- under oath -- on Capitol Hill.

Nevertheless, yesterday, White House Press Secretary Snow told the National Review's Byron York that "we feel pretty comfortable with the constitutional argument" of executive privilege.

But in a March 1998 op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Snow attacked President Clinton for trying to "to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House. ... Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up."


Feinstein, helicoptors and Hot Tub DeLay...

From American Progress:

Think Fast

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is pressing the Justice Department on the departure of the former U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, Debra Yang, who resigned last October. "Was she asked to resign, and if so, why? We have to ferret that out," said Feinstein.

The Wounded Warrior Assistance Act of 2007, a bill aimed at "making immediate improvements in the treatment...of wounded combat veterans passed the House Armed Services Committee by a 59-0 vote Tuesday."

The Justice Department's Inspector General yesterday told the House "that the FBI may have violated the law or government policies as many as 3,000 times since 2003 as agents secretly collected the telephone, bank and credit card records of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals residing here."

The U.N. refugee agency says "there has been an 'abject denial' around the world of the humanitarian impact of invading Iraq." The agency estimates that the "number of Iraqis living beyond the country's borders as refugees stands at two million and a further 1.7 million live within the borders as displaced people."

Senators yesterday pressed the Bush administration to more "aggressively prosecute contracting fraud in Iraq, saying the dozen criminal cases filed aren't enough of a deterrent."
"An ambitious effort to bulldoze more than 9,000 rotting houses still standing [in New Orleans] after Hurricane Katrina has slowed sharply this year, prolonging the city's attempts to rebuild blighted neighborhoods, city and federal records show."

At least seven helicopters were downed by insurgents in Iraq between Jan. 20 and Feb. 21. The military has responded "by limiting the airspace where U.S. pilots can fly" and enlarging "several 'no-fly zones' north of Baghdad."

And finally: Tom DeLay's new book: TMI? DeLay reveals that he "lived in group houses dubbed the 'Macho Manor' and 'Hot Tub Haven' with other members of the Texas state Legislature, back when he earned the moniker 'Hot Tub Tom.' DeLay admits to philandering."


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

From McCain to DeLay...UGH...

From American Progress:

Think Fast

McCain backslides on immigration. Despite previously favoring legislation that would allow most illegal immigrants to become citizens without leaving the country, he now says he is "open to legislation that would require people who came to the U.S. illegally to return home before applying for citizenship."

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald "was ranked among prosecutors who had 'not distinguished themselves' on a Justice Department chart sent to the White House in March 2005, when he was in the midst of leading the CIA leak investigation." The chart "was the first step in an effort to identify U.S. attorneys who should be removed."

1,525: Number of roadside bomb attacks in Afghanistan last year. Suicide "attacks rose by six times -- from 25 two years ago to 150 in 2006."

Large crowds are expected at Al Gore's testimony today before the House and Senate environment committees. Last night, The Drudge Report posted questions that "are circulating behind-the-scenes" that would supposedly leave "Gore scrambling for answers." Climate Progress's Joseph Romm takes the Drudge challenge and makes quick work of the questions.
At a hearing on the Bush administration's suppression of global warming science, congressional Democrats revealed a paper trail illustrating "how officials with no scientific training shaped the administration's climate change message and edited global warming reports." Defending the administration, Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) explained, "Free speech is not a simple thing and is subject to and directed by policy."

Because of a "computer glitch," the Department of Education has "overcharged millions of Americans with student loans during the past decade despite repeated warnings that it was breaking the law, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday."

"Pentagon officials worry that among the just over 20 Army brigades left in the United States or at Army bases in Europe and Asia, none has enough equipment and manpower to be sent quickly into combat, except for an armored unit stationed permanently in South Korea."

The world"s major rivers are reaching a "crisis point because of dams, shipping, pollution and climate change," according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). "The world is facing a massive freshwater crisis, which has the potential to be every bit as devastating as climate change," said WWF's Dr. David Tickner.

Defense spending has reached the highest levels since World War II. "Even with past spending adjusted upward for inflation, the $630 billion provided for the military this year exceeds the highest annual amounts during the Reagan-era defense buildup, the Vietnam War and the Korean War."

And finally: Tom DeLay still refuses to admit any impropriety in his dealings with fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff. "So yes, I took a trip to Scotland. Yes, I played golf. Yes, it was privately funded. And yes, it was both legal and informative. If I had the opportunity, I would do it again."


Obama did NOT make Hillary ad...

From Chicago Sun Times:

[an excerpt]

Is popular YouTube ad big trouble for Hillary?(,CST-NWS-sweet20.article)
March 20, 2007
BY LYNN SWEET Sun-Times Columnist

The riveting "Big Sister" YouTube ad attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton -- produced by an anonymous creator to benefit Barack Obama -- launches a new chapter in presidential campaigning.

"This will be the political phenomena of 2008," said Democratic consultant Steve Jarding.
Jarding is not working for any of the Democratic White House hopefuls -- but witnessed the first demonstration of YouTube political power last November while advising Jim Webb in his come-from-behind win to claim a Senate seat. Webb landed a giant break when his rival, now former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), was caught on tape -- uploaded to YouTube -- calling a Webb staffer a "macaca."

The Hillary spot is a produced piece -- a takeoff on George Orwell's "Big Brother" 1984 theme used in an Apple ad -- complete with zombies rescued by a woman running in a tank top with the Obama logo who smashes a screen where Hillary is droning on. The graphic at the end directs traffic to Obama's presidential campaign Web address.

Obama said on CNN's "Larry King Live" that "people generate all kinds of stuff" on the Internet. "In some ways, it's the democratization of the campaign process, but it's not something that we had anything to do with or were aware of, and that frankly, given what it looks like, we don't have the technical capacity to create something like this."


Monday, March 19, 2007

Powerful is as powerful spades...

From David Sirota:

The Unspoken Legacy of the Plame Affair

In watching more of PBS Frontline's fantastic "News War" series - and specifically the section about the Valerie Plame affair - it struck me that the most troubling aspect of the entire case was the original decision by reporters to grant government sources anonymity.

As I and everyone else learns in journalism school, anonymity is supposed to be granted not on the basis of partisanship, sensational potential or anything else - it is supposed to be granted on the basis of the power relationship in question, and specifically, to the non-powerful figure versus the powerful figure.

The reason for this is because non-powerful figures (such as a corporate or government whistleblowers) need the anonymity in order to protect themselves from very real retribution from the powerful figures while the powerful figures (such as corporate CEOs or government officials) desire anonymity only to protect themselves from public scrutiny or law enforcement.

In the Plame affair, that basic paradigm was entirely reversed out of subservience to Establishment power - and both American journalism and democracy will pay dearly for it.

For the full post, go to:


From Iraq to the Simpsons!

From American Progress:

Think Fast

18: The percentage of Iraqis that have confidence in U.S.-led coalition troops as the war enters its fifth year today. Six in 10 Iraqis say their lives are going badly, and only one-third expect things to improve in the next year. Nearly 90 percent “say they live in fear that the violence ravaging their country will strike themselves and the people with whom they live.”

Almost two years before the FBI publicly admitted this month that “it had ignored its own rules when demanding telephone and financial records about private citizens, a top official in that program warned the bureau about widespread lapses.”

Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, who was fired “after Republican complaints that he neglected to prosecute voter fraud,” had been “heralded for his expertise in that area by the Justice Department, which twice selected him to train other federal prosecutors to pursue election crimes.”

Last week, the White House pressured the Office of Management and Budget to withhold earmark data from the public. OMB Director Rob Portman said privately last week: “My hands are tied” due to directives from the White House. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) remarked, “I think the American people should be very disappointed.”

A new twist on the “illegal immigration hunts” sponsored by right-wing college groups: A Boise State University student group is “promoting a speech about immigration with a ‘food stamp drawing’ that requires climbing through a hole in a fence and offering fake identification for a shot at winning dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.”

“Censorship issues return front and center to Congress today” when the House oversight committee resumes its inquiry into reported Bush administration interference in federal climate science,” featuring testimony by infamous Bush official turned Exxon lobbyist Philip Cooney.

The White House has declared its opposition to a bill that would give Washington, DC its first full seat in the House of Representatives, “saying it is unconstitutional, and a key Senate supporter said such concerns could kill the measure.”

And finally: The long-awaited Simpsons movie debut this summer will reveal what state the family’s fictitious Springfield residence is a part of. But Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) already knows. “I think they live just down the street from me, actually,” he said. “I live in Springfield.”


Sunday, March 18, 2007

USA...from a Republic to a Dictatorship with just a few words...

From Information Clearing House:

The Late, Great American Nation

“It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties.” —James Madison

Click here to watch a corresponding video commentary with John Whitehead

By John W. Whitehead
"Rutherford Institute"

We live in a fundamentally different country since 9/11. Not only do many Americans view their government with suspicion, but how their government views them has drastically changed. A perfect example of this took place last fall.

Prior to the elections that transformed the makeup of Congress, the Bush Administration pushed for the inclusion of two stealth provisions into a mammoth defense budget bill. The additions made it easier for the government to declare martial law and establish a dictatorship.

Since the days of our Founding Fathers, when King George III used his armies to terrorize and tyrannize the colonies, the American people have understandably distrusted the use of a national military force to intervene in civilian affairs, except in instances of extreme emergency and limited duration. Hence, as a sign of the Founders’ concern that the people not be under the power of a military government, control of the military was vested in a civilian government, with a civilian commander-in-chief.

And the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 furthered those safeguards against military law, making it a crime for the government to use the military to carry out arrests, searches, seizure of evidence and other activities normally handled by a civilian police force.

However, with the inclusion of a seemingly insignificant rider into the massive defense bill (the martial law section of the 591-page Defense Appropriations Act takes up just a few paragraphs), the Bush Administration has managed to weaken what the New York Times refers to as “two obscure but important bulwarks of liberty.”

One is posse comitatus. The other is the Insurrection Act of 1807, which limits a president’s domestic use of the military to putting down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion where a state is violating federal law or depriving the people of their constitutional rights.

Under these new provisions, the president can now use the military as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, disease outbreak, terrorist attack or to any “other condition.”

According to the new law, Bush doesn’t even have to notify Congress of his intent to use military force against the American people—he just has to notify them once he has done so. The defense budget provision’s vague language leaves the doors wide open for rampant abuse. As writer Jane Smiley noted, “the introduction of these changes amounts, not to an attack on the Congress and the balance of power, but to a particular and concerted attack on the citizens of the nation.
Bush is laying the legal groundwork to repeal even the appearance of democracy.”

The main reason we do not want the military patrolling our streets is that under martial law, the Bill of Rights becomes null and void. A standing army—something that propelled the early colonists into revolution—strips the American people of any vestige of freedom. Thus, if we were subject to martial law, there would be no rules, no protections, no judicial oversight and no elections. And unless these provisions are repealed, the president’s new power will be set in stone for future administrations to use—and abuse.

[continue reading at link above]


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Believe? Not a chance...

From Information Clearing House:

True Confessions? The Amazing Tale of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
By Anthony D'Amato

The sweeping Guantanamo "confessions" of al Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed rival the scope of those made in the Stalinist purge trials of the 1930s, and should equally prompt us to question the legal process in which they were made...

[click above link to continue reading]


Gen. Petraeus..."Reevaluate yourself"...

From Information Clearing House:

Gen. Petraeus and a High-Profile Suicide in Iraq :

Col. Ted Westhusing, a West Point scholar, put a bullet in his head in Iraq after reporting widespread corruption.

His suicide note -- complaining about human rights abuses and other crimes -- was addressed to his two commanders, including Gen. David Petraeus, now leader of the U.S. "surge" effort in Iraq.

It urged them to "Reevaluate yourselves....You are not what you think you are and I know it."

[click link above to cont reading]


Friday, March 16, 2007

General Petreaus: SEND EVEN MORE TROOPS!!!

From American Progress:


Gen. David Petraeus "has requested another Army brigade, in addition to five already on the way, as part of the controversial 'surge' of American troops designed to clamp down on sectarian violence and insurgent groups," the Boston Globe reports.

The appeal -- "not yet made public" -- "would involve between 2,500 and 3,000 more soldiers and dozens of transport helicopters and powerful gunships," bringing the "planned expansion of U.S. forces to close to 30,000 troops."

The Globe also reports that "military spokesmen in Baghdad have already reported that the number of sectarian killings and insurgent attacks have dropped significantly in the four weeks since US and Iraqi troops began to move into neighborhoods plagued by militias and gangs."

But as the Washington Post reported, "Sectarian attacks in Baghdad are down at the moment, but the deaths of Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops have increased outside the capital."

Moreover, analysts say that if violence is down in Baghdad, "it is likely because the Shiite militias operating there are waiting out the buildup in U.S. troops, nearly all of whom are being deployed in the capital. At the same time, Sunni insurgents have escalated their operations elsewhere."

The Post also reported that many of President Bush's recent rosy claims about the escalation have been skewed or flatly false.


BushCo faithful will desecrate The Wall in DC....

From :

The Wall That Now Divides Us
By Charlie Anderson
tr u t h o u t Guest Contributor
Friday 16 March 2007

Most Walls are meant to divide us and separate me from you, But God bless the wall that brings us together and reminds us Of what we've been through.- James W. Herrick, Touch a Name on the Wall

The night air was cool and damp with spring rain as I walked down the dimly lit path in front of the Vietnam Memorial Wall for the first time. I was only nine years old and too young to fully grasp the meaning of the seemingly endless sea of names etched on black onyx tablets in front of me. I was also far too young to understand the impact of the Vietnam War on our country or the impact it had on the generation of young Americans that fought it. But, even as a young child, I could tell that The Wall was sacred space.

There was an overwhelming air of sorrow that permeated the air around the shrine; people spoke only in hushed tones, many stared at a single name for long periods of time, and even a young child like me could easily be moved to tears.

The Vietnam War tore the nation apart. Nearly 60,000 Americans gave their lives in the struggle, over 300,000 more were wounded, and countless more are still suffering with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and Agent Orange. The nation itself was polarized into camps of "pro-war" and "anti-war," casting aside similarities, such as love of country, in favor of political differences.

The result was a nation that to this day has not reconciled the societal cost of the war. Worse, the concentration of public opinion also forced the war's veterans into polarized camps of "pro-war" and "anti-war" regardless of their shared suffering and shared experience. The chasm created by this unfortunate polarization has prevented many veterans from finding peace with the war.

The Vietnam Memorial Wall was built to deliberately cast aside these controversies and create hallowed ground where the nation could grieve the loss of a generation of its youth, away from the political distractions and away from the turmoil surrounding the war. Though many vehemently opposed The Wall as inappropriate or simply an "ugly black gash in the ground" before its construction, the nation has come to treasure the memorial as a shrine to 58,253 unfinished lives.

Twenty years after my first visit, I visited The Wall as a combat veteran. The Wall took on an entirely new significance to me during that visit. The Iraq War is in many ways similar to the Vietnam War. Both wars were controversial at home, causing the veterans to feel betrayed or abandoned by government or the population at large.

In both wars, the mission was often unclear to "the grunts on the ground." Much-needed equipment and material goods were denied to the forces in the field by Washington bureaucrats, and in both wars, the care of veterans has not been a true priority. The treatment of veterans has led many veterans of both wars to feel cut off from the nation they love and honorably served.

On that and subsequent visits, The Wall felt like a sanctuary from the political storm that has surrounded "my war." The memorial is a place where I can mourn the dead not only of the Vietnam War, but of all wars, including mine. As a warrior, I carry the loss of life and the loss of innocence tightly within my heart. On every visit to The Wall since returning from Iraq, I have met people who disagree with me about the Iraq War. Yet, there is no politics around the wall; we mourn in silence or share our grief aloud not as liberals or conservatives, not as hawks or doves, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as human beings united by our suffering.

I was saddened to learn recently that for the first time since the beginning of the Iraq War, the sanctity of The Wall will be challenged by protest. On March 17, a coalition of citizens concerned about the war gathers for a protest march originating at Constitution Park across the street from The Wall. A group of counter-demonstrators, calling themselves The Gathering of Eagles, will gather around and presumably in the memorial while spreading their pro-war, pro-Bush/Cheney message.

The "eagles" claim that their intention is to "defend" The Wall from attack by the anti-war demonstrators. Yet, through four years of anti-war protest, there have been few incidents of vandalism and no war memorial has been damaged in the past. Further, hundreds of veterans and military families, including those who have had loved ones die in this war, are at the forefront of today's anti-movement. None of us who have sacrificed in this war would tolerate, much less condone, such behavior.

While the mission statement of the "eagles" states, "... we are adamantly opposed to the use of violence, vandalism, physical or verbal assaults on our veterans, and the destruction or desecration of our memorials ... we defend and honor those whose blood gave all of us the right to speak as freely as our minds think."

Yet, a cursory look at the comments section at the bottom of the page tells a different story. One commentator said, "I hope one of these Muslim commies cross the line so we can teach them a valuable lesson. I will be there with my brothers and will be victorious over these Dimicrat scum. This will teach them not to look at us with seditious eyes."

Another expressed similar sentiments: "We need to show these anti-war turkeys we are all business that the sacrifice and honor of the men and women of this Memorial will not be defaced by the likes of them."

Organizers for the veterans' contingent of the anti-war march have also received death threats from "eagle" supporters. It seems that the real intent of the Gathering of Eagles is to intimidate those who do not agree with their position on the war. They purport to believe in free speech and to forever honor America's men and women in uniform until the men and women in uniform disagree with them.

At the point at which we veterans who feel a duty not to remain silent and advocate that our brothers and sisters in arms be brought home alive and cared for both now and when they get here, the "eagles" call us "commies," "traitors" or "dimicrat scum."

I took an oath to defend the Constitution and honorably served ten years in uniform. I still hold my oath no less sacred than the "eagles" claim to. One of the ways to honor that oath is speak freely and from the heart. I sacrificed everything I had and everything I was when I went to Iraq. I lost my marriage, a job I loved, and the very way I viewed the world. It is a shame these "eagles" who claim to love and support me so much not only want to silence my voice, but they have chosen to put a wall between me and the one place in America I where I can truly let my guard down and grieve.
Charles E. Anderson served in Iraq with the Marine Corps' Second Tank Battalion during the invasion of Iraq. During his nine-year career, he served in infantry, armor, and medical units. He lives in Hampton, Virginia, where he is a World Studies student at Thomas Nelson Community College. He can be contacted through his website at