Thursday, January 31, 2008

Spies arrested here....

From Secrecy News:


Espionage remains "a very real threat to U.S. national security," a House Judiciary Committee panel was told this week."Since the end of the Cold War, there have been 78 individuals arrested for espionage or espionage-related crimes and since the 21st century began, there have been 37 individuals arrested in the US as agents of foreign powers," according to David G. Major, a former senior FBI official who is now President of the private Counterintelligence Centre.

In his January 29 testimony, Mr. Major presented a convenient tabulation of "Agents of Foreign Powers Arrested in the United States in the 21st Century":

But his list erroneously includes Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), who are charged with unauthorized receipt and disclosure of classified information.They are not accused of espionage, nor does the U.S. Government argue that they are agents of a foreign power.

To the contrary, prosecutors acknowledged in a January 30, 2006 court filing that it is a "fact that the defendants were not agents of Israel, or any foreign nation.

"Recent espionage cases were also reviewed at the House Committee hearing by J. Patrick Rowan of the Department of Justice and Larry M. Wortzel of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Their prepared statements are here:


Books worth waiting for....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Russell Whitfield's action-packed Ancient Roman debut GLADIATRIX, to St. Martin's, by Myrmidon Books (NA).Author of the story collection Now You See It Bathsheba Monk's first novel, NUDE WALKER, about the entangled lives of a town's returning National Guard Unit, and centered around the murder of the unit's only Arab soldier and the female sergeant who's carrying his baby, again to Sarah Crichton at Sarah Crichton Books, by David Kuhn at Kuhn Projects (NA)

Daphne Uviller's SUPERGIRL, in which an overly-educated 27-year-old discovers that all the degrees in the world are no help when she becomes the superintendent of a Greenwich Village building whose former super was taken away in handcuffs, to Kate Miciak at Bantam Dell, with Molly Boyle editing, in a nice deal, for two books, by Tracy Brown at Tracy Brown Literary Agency (world)

Jason Buhrmester's BLACK DOGS, the story of four young Maryland hoodlums who pull off one of the greatest rock 'n' roll swindles -- taking over $200,000 in cash from the safe deposit box of the members of Led Zeppelin at the Drake Hotel as they finish their US tour, to Carrie Thornton at Three Rivers Press, in a nice deal, for publication in Spring 2009, by James Fitzgerald at the James Fitzgerald Agency (NA).


Mark Olsen's MAGI, THE MAGI CODEX, SOLO SANCTION, GATES OF HELL, GATES OF HEAVEN, starting with starting with a mystical and high octane retelling of the three Magi saga, to Amanda Bostic at Thomas Nelson, in a good deal, in a five-book deal, for publication starting in January 2009, by Lee Hough at Alive Communications (World).


Roger Alan Skipper's THE BAPTISM OF BILLY BEAN, which follows a recalcitrant man who, after witnessing what he thinks is the murder of a neighbor, must re-establish his credibility with the police, the town, and most of all his family, bringing about dangers and a chance for reconciliation that he long ago thought he'd never see again, to Richard Nash at Counterpoint, by Farley Chase at the Waxman Literary Agency (NA).


Jonathan Waxman's BARBUTO COOKBOOK, a compilation of 120 fun, spontaneous, earthy, rustic and authentic recipes that capture the Barbuto philosophy, to Sydny Miner at Simon & Schuster, by Jane Dystel at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (NA).

[Note: Dystel has excellent taste in reading material...]


Marine veteran, Parade columnist and NYT bestselling author James Brady's untitled biography of Marine legend John Basilone -- who received the Medal of Honor for his heroics on Guadalcanal and the Navy Cross posthumously for his bravery on Iwo Jima -- to be published at the same time as the airing of HBO's "The Pacific," the follow up to "Band of Brothers," which will also tell Basilone's story, to Stephen Power at Wiley, by Jack Scovil at Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency.NYT bestselling popular historian

Charles Cerami's MR. JEFFERSON GOES TO PARIS, relating how Thomas Jefferson's five glorious years in Paris shaped him and his presidency, to Hana Lane at Wiley, by Bob Silverstein at Quicksilver Books (World).


I Can Has Cheezburger's PROFESSOR HAPPY CAT'S GUIDE TO THE LOLCATS, featuring old and new images from their blog:, to Patrick Mulligan at Gotham, in a good deal, for publication in Fall 2008, by Kate McKean at the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency (NA)

THE DEVIOUS BOOK FOR CATS: A Parody By Fluffy & Bonkers, by the team who wrote THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR DOGS, a how-to for cats by cats with helpful information like "Getting Even When You're Declawed," "The Laws of Petting," "Undermining Allergy Sufferers," and "Famous Cats of the Funny Pages," again to Bruce Tracy for Villard, for publication in October 2008, by Victoria Skurnick at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency (NA).

Colors Insulting to Nature author Cintra Wilson's CALIGULA FOR PRESIDENT: Better American Living Through Tyranny, describing how America will finally be able to achieve the guilt-free looting of natural resources for the sake of immediate gratification; declare war on abstract concepts (drugs, terror, the ocean) for the sake of imperial expansion; and utilize propaganda, psychological operations, and other prisoner-of-war techniques to create a sense of learned helplessness in the populace to gain their utterly terrified trust and obedience -- and leave them begging for more, to Colin Dickerman at Bloomsbury, by Bill Clegg at William Morris Agency.


Front man and lead singer/songwriter of Alabama Randy Owen's MY HOME'S IN ALABAMA: A Spiritual Memoir, an inspirational story about how a poor country boy became a country music hero to millions of fans (with 42 No. 1 singles and more than 73 million records sold worldwide), promising new material about the Alabama story, Randy's close relationship with his father, his troubled teen years, and how his down-home country roots kept him grounded, to Roger Freet at Harper One, by Mel Berger at William Morris Agency.

2007 Whiting Writers' Award winner Paul Guest's ONE MORE THEORY ABOUT HAPPINESS, about the bicycle accident that left him paralyzed at age twelve -- and how the powerful call of poetry took hold of this young writer's soul and transformed him, to Dan Halpern and Emily Takoudes at Ecco, for publication in Winter 2010, plus a poetry collection, My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge, by Betsy Lerner at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner (NA).


TV Writer and columnist Bob Smiley's TAILING TIGER: 1,152 Holes Following the World's Greatest Athlete, to David Hirshey at Harper, at auction, by Shawn Coyne at Endeavor.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Repub's Legal Defense Fund...& Repub Shay's kiss...

From American Progress:

Think Fast....

"Rep. Don Young (R-AK), who is under FBI investigation and faces a tough reelection fight, opened a legal defense fund earlier this month, according to House filings. The House ethics committee approved the defense fund Jan. 9, but it has not reported taking any donations yet, and Young spokesman Mike Anderson would not say if anyone had written checks."

The FBI is investigating 14 companies related to the subprime mortgage crisis for "accounting fraud, securitization of loans and insider trading, among other areas." The agency "is looking into allegations of fraud in various stages of the mortgage process, from companies that bundled the loans into securities to the banks that ended up holding them."

"Economic and employment opportunities are much on the minds of black voters during this presidential campaign season." Ronald Walters, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, notes that "there is something of a permanent recession in the black community."

Nearly five years after the invasion of Iraq, allied countries have paid just 16 percent of "what they pledged to help rebuild the war-torn country," according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The biggest shortfalls in pledges are from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

"Weapons the U.S. provides to Iraqi security forces may still be ending up in the hands of terrorists, insurgents and criminals," Defense Department Inspector General Claude Kicklighter told Congress yesterday. A GAO report in July said the Pentagon could not account for 110,000 rifles and 80,000 pistols meant for Iraqi troops.

The U.S. military "is funding the construction of Islamic schools, or madrassas, in the east of Afghanistan in an attempt to stem the tide of young people going to radical religious schools in Pakistan."

According to a report from ret. Gen. James Jones and former U.N. ambassador Thomas Pickering, "Afghanistan risks sliding into a failed state and becoming the 'forgotten war' because of deteriorating international support and a growing violent insurgency."

And finally: Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) explains his kiss to the President. "Joe Lieberman got a kiss from the president, so I thought I'd give him one back," said Shays. He later added, "I said some words of encouragement to the president as he walked by and he pulled me close and whispered something very thoughtful and kind in return."


Assassins are different....

From Stratfor:

The 'Lone Wolf' Disconnect
January 30, 2008 1546 GMT
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

The idea that a lone individual will appear seemingly out of nowhere to launch a horrific terrorist attack sends shivers down the spines of public security planners and law enforcement officers — not to mention average citizens. Because of their unique traits, “lone wolves” present very real challenges to the law enforcement and security professionals charged with guarding against such threats.

However, with the road from desire to actual destruction fraught with obstacles, the lone-wolf terrorist — one capable of causing mass casualties — is a rare individual indeed.

The flames of fear regarding lone wolves are fanned by the near-constant bantering about such operatives in radical circles, in movies and books and even in analyses pertaining to domestic and international terrorism. For many years now, domestic radicals such as neo-Nazi Tom Metzger and former Klansman Louis Beam have championed the “leaderless resistance” model of operation. Beam’s 1992 essay, “Leaderless Resistance,” has been widely embraced by many on the radical right as the definitive work on the subject and has been translated into many languages.

In his essay, Beam envisions a two-tiered approach to revolutionary struggle. One tier would be the above-ground “organs of information,” who would “distribute information using newspapers, leaflets, computers, etc.” The organs of information were not to conduct any illegal activities but rather to provide direction for lone wolves, as well as issue propaganda for recruitment purposes. The second tier would be made up of individual operators and small “phantom” cells that would conduct attacks. These people were to remain low-key and anonymous, with no connections to the above-ground activists. Of course, in 1992, Beam likely never imagined how the Internet would become an almost perfect medium for the organs of information to disseminate information to the detached, anonymous lone wolves.

In many ways, the radical Islamist world also has embraced this operational model and the Internet technology. Scores of Web sites dedicated to serving as jihadist organs of information aim to radicalize individual Muslims and then equip these radicalized individuals with information on how to conduct terrorist attacks. Al Qaeda franchises even have produced online magazines, such as Maaskar al-Battar (Al-Battar Training Camp), which was produced by al Qaeda’s Saudi node. These magazines are designed to further support radical ideology, teach individual radicals how to train for jihad and provide guidance on how to surveil and select targets — and even how to properly employ a number of weapons systems.

However, in spite of the fact that the concept of leaderless resistance has been publicly and widely embraced in both the domestic terrorism and jihadist realms, few terrorist attacks have been perpetrated by lone-wolf operatives. In fact, we have seen more mentally disturbed lone gunmen than politically motivated lone-wolf terrorists. A main reason for this lack of operatives in the political realm is the disconnect — the lack of translation from theory to action.

Definition of a Lone Wolf

It is important to define the term “lone wolf” because many people — both in the militant realm and in law enforcement and intelligence circles — misuse it or use it imprecisely. A lone wolf is a person who acts on his or her own without orders from — or even connections to — an organization. The theory is that this distance will prevent disclosure of attack planning to informants or technical surveillance and therefore provide superior operational security.

A lone wolf is distinct from a sleeper operative in that a sleeper is an operative who infiltrates the targeted society or organization and then remains dormant — sometimes for quite some time — until being activated, perhaps by a prearranged signal or a certain chain of events. A lone wolf is a standalone operative who by his very nature is embedded in the targeted society and is capable of self-activation at any time.

Most militant groups do not have the resources or patience to launch a true sleeper operation. While militant groups do frequently utilize covert operatives, such as the 9/11 attackers, we are unaware of any instance in which a militant group ran a true sleeper cell operation. (Most of the sleeper operations we know of involve attempts at international espionage.) Clearly, most covert militant operatives engage in some sort of operational activity and do not remain dormant. One cannot carry out operational activities and be a sleeper.

Also, it must be remembered that a sleeper — or other covert operative, for that matter — is trained and dispatched by an organization. The existence of this connection to an organization means that the operative cannot, by definition, be a true lone wolf.

Al Qaeda and its jihadist cousins and progeny across the globe have used a number of different operational models, some of them quite decentralized. However, even decentralized grassroots operatives, such as the London Underground attackers, have contact with an organization and so are not, by definition, lone wolves.

Some lone wolves are ideologically motivated, some are religiously inspired, some are mentally disturbed and still others are influenced by a combination of these factors. Our focus here is on politically or religiously motivated attackers, not on mentally ill individuals motivated for other reasons (such as Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho). Certainly such individuals create terror during their rampages, but they are not conducting politically motivated terrorist attacks. We distinguish between lone wolves and “lone nuts” because, although many politically motivated attackers do have some degree of mental illness, rational and irrational individuals operate differently. Mentally disturbed individuals are far more likely to self-radicalize in a vacuum and have less concern for their own safety than do most politically motivated attackers. This lack of concern for their own safety often helps them to overcome their lack of skill.

Easier Said Than Done

The rubber meets the road when potential attackers try to place lone-wolf theory into action. Like much political theory, or even business theory, it often is easier to design a system than it is to apply it to a real-world situation — one that involves fallible people.

One of the biggest problems for lone-wolf operators is acquiring the skills necessary to conduct a successful terrorist attack. Perhaps this is one reason suicide bombers rarely are lone wolves; there simply is too much involved in preparing for such an attack.

In his essay on leaderless resistance, Beam wrote, “It becomes the responsibility of the individual to acquire the necessary skills and information as to what is to be done.” This, of course, is an obvious condition of leaderless resistance — and it is easy enough to write. But acquiring these skills in the real world can pose quite a daunting challenge. (As a decorated Vietnam War veteran, Beam likely did not realize how difficult it might be for someone lacking his military and combat experience to pick up those skills.)

In fact, some of the most successful lone-wolf assailants, including Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph, had served in and been trained by the military. Some people consider Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh an example of a military-trained lone wolf, but his possible association with the Aryan Resistance Army, his connections to The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord group in Elohim City, Okla., and his connections to like-minded individuals — including Michael Fortier and Terry Nichols — suggest he was a grassroots operative and not a truly isolated lone wolf.

Military training is not a necessity for lone-wolf success. Joseph Paul Franklin carried out a series of killings (perhaps as many as 20 in several states), robberies and arsons from 1977 to 1980 in an attempt to ignite a race war in the United States. His attempts to assassinate high-profile targets Vernon Jordan and Larry Flynt failed, though he seriously wounded both of them and left Flynt paralyzed.

Even though many Web sites and military manuals provide instruction on such things as making bombs and marksmanship, there is no substitute for hands-on experience in the real world. Playing the neo-Nazi video game “Ethnic Cleansing” or similar games for hours will not automatically make a person an expert tactical shooter. Gaining such expertise requires practice. Intellectual prowess also is no substitute for experience. For example, even a genius like Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski had to do much experimentation in order to improve the design of his explosive devices. Of the 16 devices Kaczynski sent, several either did not explode or did not function as designed. In the end, Kaczynski’s 18-year bombing campaign killed only three people.

Because of the difficulty of successfully manufacturing (in Kaczynski’s case) or even stealing (in Rudolph’s case) effective explosives, many would-be lone wolves attempt to procure explosives or military weaponry. It is at this stage, when the lone wolf reaches out for assistance, that many of these individuals have come to the attention of law enforcement. One such case was Derrick Shareef, who was arrested in December 2006 while attempting to trade stereo speakers for hand grenades and a pistol he sought to use in an attack against the CherryVale shopping mall in Rockford, Ill. The person Shareef approached to help him obtain the weapons happened to be a police informant.

Immaturity and lack of common sense also are significant hurdles for some would-be lone-wolf attackers. For instance, a person who attempts to buy an illicit fully automatic weapon when he could easily — and legally — obtain a less expensive semiautomatic version of the same weapon clearly is influenced by Hollywood and does not understand the effectiveness of controlled, sustained fire versus the spray-and-pray shooting he sees in the movies or on TV. As Franklin and several mentally disturbed shooters have demonstrated, automatic weapons are not needed to inflict carnage.

Another consideration is that the process of radicalization — to the point that a person undertakes a terrorist attack — rarely occurs in a solitary setting. Many individuals require the feedback and encouragement of like-minded individuals to help them reach that point. And this group dynamic crosses ideological divides. It is seen in gangs of racist skinheads and radical Jews as much as it is in jihadists. In many cases that first appear to involve a lone wolf, further investigation shows that the person’s activities were motivated and facilitated by others. Only certain types of individuals can go through this process of radicalization and indoctrination and then motivate themselves to take violent action outside of a group dynamic. Franklin, Kaczynski and Rudolph, for example, tended to be loners even before they became radicalized.

Related Special Topic Pages
Surveillance and Countersurveillance
Terrorist Attack Cycle

Furthermore, even if someone can cross the hurdle of self-radicalization to the point that he is willing to conduct an attack, and even if he can build effective explosive devices or shoot a gun, he still must have other subtler abilities — street skills — that are difficult to master without practice and actual training. Perhaps the most significant of these street skills is surveillance tradecraft.

Although radical Web sites and online training magazines provide written instruction in surveillance, mastering the complex and subtle set of skills required to be a good surveillance operative takes a great deal of training and practical experience. It is not impossible for someone to develop and hone these skills on his own, but it is extremely difficult. Even Rudolph, a lone wolf who practiced excellent operational security and had good bombmaking and wilderness-survival skills, ultimately was captured because he lacked street skills. It was his suspicious behavior while on a street that caused a citizen to follow him back to his truck and report the vehicle’s license tag to the police.

While the fictional and theoretical versions of lone-wolf operatives can be terrifying, real-life examples demonstrate that not only are such attackers fairly rare, but the constraints their isolation imposes on them (in acquiring weapons and training) usually limits the amount of damage they can do. Moreover, a lone wolf who reaches out for external assistance or training eventually finds himself interacting with other militants — and then he no longer is considered a lone wolf.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Nanotechnology: A major threat...

From In These Times:

Views > January 24, 2008
Nanotech: Tiny Particles, Big Risks
By Terry J. Allen

Nanotechnology, one of the fastest growing industries in history, is a major threat to human health and the environment. Or not. The fact is, when it comes to nanotech, we don’t have any idea what the facts are.

Nonetheless, manufacturers are rushing ahead to add inadequately tested particles, one nanometer to 100 nanometers in size, to a wide and growing array of consumer products. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, or the length of a fingernail as it grows in a second.

Manipulated at the level of atoms and molecules, these radical particles have fundamentally different physical, chemical and biological properties from the matter from which they were created. Benign materials may become toxic, while their nano-scale allows them to penetrate cells, even breaching the blood-brain barrier.

Currently, nanoparticles of carbon, silver, titanium, zinc and other materials are routinely incorporated into sun screens and cosmetics, sporting goods, washing machines, refrigerators, baby products, stain- and wrinkle-resistant fabrics, food, food packaging and odor-destroying products, including air fresheners and shoe liners.

In addition to “New!” and “Improved!” the technology promises enormous social good. Nanoparticles have the potential to increase the efficiency of solar panels or act as molecular sponges, absorbing toxins and reducing air pollution by, say, capturing mercury from stack emissions. Medical possibilities include precise delivery of cancer drugs and coatings that keep surgical theaters bacteria-free. Nanotech could also revolutionize materials in electronics, optics and quantum computing.

But it could also be dangerous.

[Use link above to continue reading]


A "slip of the tongue" & A lust for power....


Just been furious all day. Was listening to the news on San Diego's NPR or KPBS, one, about 9 this morning.

So the newscaster, talking about which group of people had voted for either Clinton or Obama in S. Carolina broke them down this way: Blacks, Latinos, and Americans.

I damned near had a fit on the spot. Still seriously torqued about that. If they voted, they're ALL Americans. Sheesh!!!

So the writers gathered tonight, and with one lawyer exception, tried to convince me that it was simply a "slip of his tongue". I'm not buying that for one minute. Far as I'm concerned, that newscaster silently divides up people that way in the back of his mind or else he'd never, ever
would have said something so outrageous as that.

I do wonder if anyone at the station called him on that. They'd better have.


And then there's the matter of Hillary Clinton "winning" in both Michigan and Florida. I do not like the underhanded way she managed to campaign without actually campaigning. The woman is way too hungry for power, and it's showing more and more. That kind of behavior does not bode well for her reputation. It's dishonest. It's devious.

We already have a president who is dishonest and devious. The country certainly does not need another one to continue down his disgraceful path.

Would I now trust her to dismantle the imperial presidency Bush/Cheney have set up? Not on your life.

Enough said.

Pro-Life...really means....


Kelpie Wilson
Abortion and the Earth

Truthout's Environment Editor Kelpie Wilson writes: "The moral arguments about abortion rarely consider the physical limits of the planet, but if they did, and if abortion were put into the context of the long history of human attempts to avoid starvation by regulating population growth, we might come to a different conclusion about what 'pro-life' really means."

[Use link above to continue reading]

Wrap... 1 Dem hiss at SOTU....

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte said the United States used waterboarding in terrorism interrogations but no longer does. In prepared remarks for Congress that he will deliver today, Attorney General Michael Mukasey avoids addressing the issue of waterboarding.

In January, there were "twice as many combat casualties" in Iraq "than there were in all of December 2007," according to analysis from Cybercast News Service. There have been 28 deaths through Jan. 28 in comparison with 14 in December.

The Bush administration's use of the state secrets privilege to avoid disclosure of classified information in civil lawsuits in increasing, prompting legislation that would provide more congressional oversight of the practice. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) will hold a hearing on the issue today.

After failing to force the passage of a White House bill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) relented yesterday "and said he would offer a short-term extension of an anti-terror surveillance law, set to expire this week." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has sought such an extension, but President Bush issued a veto threat.

Some 9/11 responders were on-hand last night to listen to Bush's State of the Union. "I'm fed up with how we're treated," said Queens paramedic Marvin Bethea. Ground Zero volunteer John Feal added, "You got $3 billion a month to kill people, you got $3 billion a year for health care."

A new report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction found that eight of 11 rebuilding projects assigned to embattled American contracting company Parsons "were terminated by the United States before they were completed."

Democrats were "elated" last night to listen to President Bush's final State of the Union speech. "I think everybody is ready to turn the page," said Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO). "Next year we'll have a different president, which I look forward to," added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) "unveiled a rival plan to stimulate the economy, offering a $500 check to virtually every American — including low-income seniors and rich financiers — in a direct challenge to the bipartisan deal reached last week by President Bush and House leaders."

And finally: In their "by the numbers" breakdown of the State of the Union, Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin note that there were 71 rounds of applause last night. Among the highlights: two Democratic claps against Bush, 3 rounds of laughter with Bush, 1 Democratic chuckle at Bush, and 1 Democratic hiss.


How much "protection" is enough?

From Secrecy News:


At a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing today, witnesses discussed the feasibility and advisability of legislating reforms to the state secrets privilege.

The state secrets privilege has been used by the executive branch to block discovery in civil litigation when the government believes that there is an unacceptable risk of disclosure of sensitive national security secrets.

But on several occasions, the mere assertion of the privilege has led to termination of the lawsuit. It has effectively short-circuited the adjudication of claims against the government involving domestic surveillance, unlawful detention, and torture.

"I do believe thoughtful legislation is needed to insure that maximum and uniform efforts are made to strike the right balance between national security needs and fair judicial proceedings," said the Hon.Patricia M. Wald, the retired chief judge of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in testimony today.

Legislative intervention was also endorsed by H. Thomas Wells, Jr., the president-elect of the American Bar Association, and by Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, whose lawsuit on warrantless domestic surveillance has prompted state secrets claims by the government.

Patrick Philbin, a former deputy attorney general, argued that any legislative proposal to permit judges to overrule the executive branch regarding the sensitivity of particular information "would be a mistake."

The prepared statements from today's hearing are posted here:

Last week, Senators Kennedy, Specter and Leahy introduced "The State Secrets Protection Act."

The text of that legislation is now available here:


Monday, January 28, 2008

McCain: More Wars...Bachman squats for Bush...

From American Progress:

Think Fast....

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told a crowd of supporters on Sunday, "It's a tough war we're in. It's not going to be over right away. There's going to be other wars."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will make a historic trip to Iraq sometime before March 19 -- the first such visit ever by an Iranian leader. "Iraqi officials said Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd who has close relations with Iran's ruling clergy, invited Ahmadinejad to visit."

The former CEO of Countrywide Financial, Angelo Mozilo, is giving up $37.5 million of severance pay "in the face of pressure from politicians who have berated him for continuing to collect large sums from the mortgage lender even as millions of Americans face the threat of foreclosure."

"Automakers and their allies have stepped up lobbying to convince states that a proposal by California to cut tailpipe emissions sharply to fight global warming could further depress the struggling U.S. industry." The Bush administration recently blocked the initiative, but California and 15 other states are suing the EPA to have the ruling overturned.

Today, the Washington Post is launching The Root, "an online magazine primarily for a black audience, with news and commentary on politics and culture, and tools for readers to research their family histories." The magazine will be edited by Harvard University professor and writer Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Haaretz finds that "the annual global report on anti-Semitism...presented to the cabinet Sunday morning points to a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Germany, Australia, the United States and Ukraine together with an overall decrease in Western Europe."

Reflecting "growing recognition that the United States risks further setbacks, if not deepening conflict or even defeat, in Afghanistan," the Bush administration is seeking to "re-energize its terrorism-fighting war efforts" in the country while also "refocusing on Pakistan, where a regenerating al-Qaida is posing fresh threats."

Private security contractors operating in Iraq are recruiting heavily from the needy in Latin America. For Latin American recruits, the pay is the major lure. "It's a hard-to-match deal for ex-soldiers and cops with little education. Some returnees even describe the postings nostalgically as a kind of dream job."

And finally: Watch out for the State of the Union (SOTU) squatters. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a regular squatter, will be arriving at the House chamber more than five hours before tonight's SOTU address in order to score an aisle seat "so her constituents, friends and family can see her whisper into the president's ear before he addresses the nation." Ros-Lehtinen plans to bring a "mountain of paperwork" to pass the time waiting. Other famous squatters include Reps. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) and Michelle Bachmann (R-MN).


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Again? Clinton only Dem on the ballot? Like Michigan?

From AP via NY Times:

Clinton to Campaign in Florida
Published: January 27, 2008
Filed at 5:12 p.m. ET

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) -- Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday she was going to Florida to assure Democrats that ''their voices are heard'' and to underscore her commitment to seeing the state's delegation seated at the national convention.

Though the Democratic presidential candidates largely have heeded the national party's request that they not campaign publicly in Florida, Clinton said it's time to pay attention to voters there who are showing heavy interest in Tuesday's primary. Early voting is under way and drawing strong interest, she said.

[Use link above to continue reading]


If Bush/Cheney step foot here...Arrest them!

From the Rutland Herald via Raw :

Brattleboro to vote on arresting Bush, CheneyJanuary 26, 2008
By Susan Smallheer Herald Staff

BRATTLEBORO — Brattleboro residents will vote at town meeting on whether President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should be indicted and arrested for war crimes, perjury or obstruction of justice if they ever step foot in Vermont.

The Brattleboro Select Board voted 3-2 Friday to put the controversial item on the Town Meeting Day warning.

According to Town Clerk Annette Cappy, organizers of the Bush-Cheney issue gathered enough signatures, and it was up to the Select Board whether Brattleboro voters would consider the issue in March. Cappy said residents will get to vote on the matter by paper balloting March 4.

Kurt Daims, 54, of Brattleboro, the organizer of the petition drive, said Friday the debate to get the issue on the ballot was a good one. Opposition to the vote focused on whether the town had any power to endorse the matter."It is an advisory thing," said Daims, a retired prototype machinist and stay-at-home dad of three daughters.

So far, Vermont is the only state Bush hasn't visited since he became president in 2001.

Daims said the most grievous crime committed by Bush and Cheney was perjury — lying to Congress and U.S. citizens about the basis of a war in Iraq. He said the latest count showed a total of 600,000 people have died in the war. Daims also said he believed Bush and Cheney were also guilty of espionage for spying on American people and obstruction of justice, for the politically generated firings of U.S. attorneys.

Voting to put the matter on the town ballot were Chairwoman Audrey Garfield and board members Richard Garrant and Dora Boubalis. Voting against the idea were board members Richard DeGray and Stephen Steidle.

Daims said the names submitted to the town clerk's office were the second wave of signatures the petition drive had to collect, because he had to rewrite the wording of the petition. He said he gathered nearly 500 signatures in about three weeks, and he said most people he encountered were eager to sign it. He started the petition drive about three months ago."Everybody I talked to wanted Bush to go," he said, noting that even members of the local police department supported the drive.

"This is exactly what the charter envisioned as a citizen initiative," Daims said. "People want to express themselves and they want to say how they feel." He said the idea is spreading: Activists in Louisville, Ky., are spearheading a similar drive, and he said activists were also working in Montague, Mass., a Berkshires town.

The article asked the town attorney to "draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution and publish said indictments for consideration by other authorities. "The article goes on to say the indictments would be the "law of the town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro police ... arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro, if they are not duly impeached ..."

Daims said people in Brattleboro were willing to "think outside the box" and consider the issue. Daims had no compunction in comparing Bush and Cheney with one of the most notorious people in history. "If Hitler were still alive and walked through Brattleboro, I think the local police would arrest him for war crimes," Daims said.

Contact Susan Smallheer at


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Everybody satisfied now?

From Agence France Presse via

Immigration Law Threatens State's Economy

Scott Seckel, writing for Agence France Presse, reports: "One month after Arizona introduced a law cracking down on businesses which employ illegal immigrants, Latino workers are fleeing the state and companies are laying off employees in droves, officials and activists say."


Friday, January 25, 2008

From "shaky" finances to Reid talking louder....

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

79 percent: Americans who believe that a recession is likely within the next year, according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll. Ninety-two percent of people earning more than $100,000 a year "feel safe" financially, "while more than half of those bringing in less than $40,000 a year describe their finances as 'shaky.'"

In testimony yesterday, Pentagon official Jack Bell said that the Defense Department was "not adequately prepared to address" the "unprecedented scale of" the military's "dependence on" private contractors. As of September, there were "over 196,000 contractor personnel working for the Defense Department in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Economists of "nearly every ideological stripe" have found "substantial fault" with the new economic stimulus plan: "liberals, because it does not expand unemployment benefits or food stamps; conservatives, because it fails to lock in President Bush's tax cuts beyond their planned expiration in 2010."

Yesterday, a federal judge "gave the Justice Department three weeks to report in writing whether the destruction of C.I.A. videotapes" violated an order to preserve evidence he issued four months prior to the destruction. The judge's order "is the first to require the Bush administration to provide information related to the videotapes' destruction."

"With Senate Republicans blocking Democratic attempts to amend the FISA reauthorization bill, the Senate has set a cloture vote from early Monday afternoon, just hours before President Bush gives his final State of the Union address."

After initially promising to stop charging for access to the Wall Street Journal's website, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch has backtracked, stating that the "really special things" on the website will probably be "more expensive."

House Republicans begin a three-day retreat at the Greenbrier resort, "diving into what's likely to be a tumultuous conversation about the future of earmarks." They are seeking to find consensus on a proposal to instate a one-year moratorium on earmark requests.

The Wall Street Journal writes that lobbyists have smoothed the way for a spate of foreign deals. With the help of "shrewd lobbying," foreign governments have snatched up billions of stakes in Wall Street. "The investments have been carefully designed to avoid triggering close U.S. government oversight."

And finally: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "has been a reporter's nightmare" because he is so "soft-spoken." Reporters have been forced to stick their digital recorders "really close to him to pick up everything." But at yesterday's briefing, Reid announced to reporters his New Year's resolution: "I'm going to try to talk louder." The Washington Post's Al Kamen reports that the "press corps broke into loud applause."


Thursday, January 24, 2008

BushCo failures....& Striking Writers in Congress...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Americans United for Change plans to spend $8.5 million in an effort to "make sure President Bush's public approval doesn't improve as his days in the White House come to an end." The bulk of the money will be spent on advertising that keeps the focus on the Bush administration's failures.

A new Harris Poll finds that Americans are unhappy with the current state of the union, a few days before President Bush gives his own State of the Union address on Monday. Eighty-one percent of Americans believe "the current state of the country is fair or poor" and 66 percent say the Iraq war is "going poorly."

A group of nearly 200 "climate experts, scientists, and mayors" will deliver a "State of Climate" assessment today, ahead of President Bush's State of the Union speech. "[T]oday our nation stands virtually alone in the world community in refusing to accept the need for decisive action," they report. "We regret to report that the state of the nation's climate policy is poor."

"I am a Republican, and at times I'm embarrassed by the lack of cooperation that this president and his appointees have had with the legislative branch," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) in a hearing yesterday. "There is a seething resentment by members of Congress who are Republicans by the fact that this administration has not even cooperated with us."

American-backed Sunni militias "are being hit with a wave of assassinations and bomb attacks, threatening a fragile linchpin of the military's strategy to pacify the nation." American officials warn that the "recent onslaught is jeopardizing" security gains that have been made.

After meeting with military officials, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO) opened an Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday stating, "We currently risk a strategic failure in Afghanistan."

"Bipartisan unity" on the House investigation into the destruction of the CIA's torture tapes has been "shredded" by "squabbling and dissension." House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) "are at odds over witness lists, cooperating with the Senate and the very direction of the investigation itself."

Writing in the Wall Street Journal today, former President Bill Clinton and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) advocate "helping the 'unbanked' enter the financial mainstream by opening checking and savings accounts." Americans spend $8 billion annually "at check-cashing outlets, payday lenders and pawnshops on basic financial services" that most can get from checking accounts.

A McKinsey report finds, "at an oil price of $70 a barrel, the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council would earn a cumulative $6.2 trillion by 2020, or more than triple the amount they earned from 1993 through 2006. Decisions by Gulf leaders on how to use this wealth will have global repercussions for decades"

And finally: Striking writers yesterday performed a mock debate on Capitol Hill for members of Congress and the media. The forum was moderated by former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers. Representing the Writers Guild of America cause were writers from The Daily Show, and on the network executive side were Colbert Report writers. While lawmakers raised "serious issues," "they also couldn't resist doing a little stand-up."


State Secrets Privilage use has gone way too far....

From Secrecy News:


A rising tide of criticism of the use of the state secrets privilege to derail litigation against the government has yielded new legislation introduced in the Senate to define the privilege and to limit its use.

The state secrets privilege has been invoked with growing frequency to deflect claims of unlawful domestic surveillance, detention, and torture as well as other more mundane complaints, on grounds that adjudicating them would cause unacceptable damage to national security.

But a new bill sponsored by Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) would provide a mechanism for protecting legitimate secrets while also permitting litigation to proceed.

"The [proposed] Act ensures that the litigation process will not reveal state secrets, using many of the same safeguards that have proven effective in criminal cases and in litigation under the Freedom of Information Act," according to a description issued by Senator Kennedy's office. "For example, a court may limit a party's access to hearings, court filings, and affidavits, or require counsel to have appropriate security clearances."

And crucially, "The Act clarifies that the courts, not the executive branch, must review the evidence and determine whether information is covered by the state secrets privilege.

"Senator Kennedy introduced the State Secrets Protection Act (S. 2533)on January 22.

The personal story behind the controversial 1953 Supreme Court ruling that established the state secrets privilege is featured, along with other aspects of government secrecy, in the new film "Secrecy" by Peter Galison and Robb Moss.

The film premiered this past week at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was reportedly well-received. "The question of how much we should rely on methods inconsistent with our values is intelligently and elegantly handled," wrote Los Angeles Times film reviewer KennethTuran.


Meanwhile, in San Diego...The Mayor & the Charter..

From San Diego City Beat:

Campaign watch
Exploring the link between city candidates and ballot measures
By David Rolland

At the Jan. 14 San Diego City Council meeting, Councilmember Tony Young, perturbed about a petition drive to make several changes to the City Charter—a municipal version of a constitution—muttered something about a “running mate” for Mayor Jerry Sanders on the June 3 ballot.

A running mate? Will there be a vice mayor in 2009?

Nope. Young was referring to the petition being circulated by a well-funded group called San Diegans for City Hall Reform, made up largely of real-estate, tourism and other business interests. Among the changes the group wants voters to approve is a proposal to require the City Council to muster six votes out of eight in order to override a mayoral veto—an extraordinarily high three-quarters threshold that would significantly increase the mayor’s power. On Jan. 14, the council declined to place that proposal on the ballot, although it agreed with several other of the group’s ideas.

Because Sanders supports the veto proposal, Young and others envision at least the appearance of a coordinated effort between the campaigns to reelect the mayor and to strengthen the mayoral veto. Both Sanders and San Diegans for City Hall Reform (SDCHR) have ties to campaign consultant Tom Shepard. Shepard is running Sanders’ reelection campaign, and SDCHR employed Shepard when the group successfully got Measures B and C passed in 2006. Those initiatives gave Sanders increased authority to outsource city jobs. Moreover, several members of the SDCHR steering committee were appointed by Sanders to a Charter Reform Committee that recommended a six-vote veto override.

Time will tell how SDCHR will finesse the campaign. For now, it’s still unclear whether the group can even qualify for the ballot. The city clerk must submit all ballot measures to the county registrar by March 7. Denise Jenkins, an elections analyst for the City Clerk’s office, said the group would need to submit 80,929 signatures by roughly Feb. 1 to ensure enough time for City Council approval and signature validation.

There are rules governing how candidate campaigns and ballot-measure committees interact. For example, SDCHR might be able to get away with campaign mailers that say something like “Help Mayor Jerry Sanders reform City Hall—vote yes on Measure X.”

“It depends very much on precisely what it said, and the standard in the law is whether the campaign advertisement, taken in whole and in context, unambiguously urges you to vote for Jerry for reelection,” said Stacey Fulhorst, executive director of the San Diego Ethics Commission.

“If you said, ‘Help Jerry Sanders reform City Hall,’ ultimately, the ethics commissioners I work for would be the ones to make a decision about whether that urged a result in a city candidate election,” Fulhorst said. “Certainly, if an advertisement said, ‘Give Jerry four more years to reform City Hall, you’d be getting a little warmer.”

Janette Littler, a SDCHR consultant and spokesperson, said SDCHR has no plans to invoke Sanders’ name in its campaign. “That’s something that we have not discussed and have no intent at this time to do,” she said. But if polling shows a high approval rating for Sanders, the temptation to ride his coattails might be too much to resist.

The reason for the rule against unambiguously urging a vote for a candidate is to prohibit large campaign contributions for the candidate being laundered through a ballot-measure committee. Under city election law, candidates for mayor may receive contributions of up to $320 from individuals (up from $300 during the last election). There are no contribution limits for ballot-measure committees.

State and city law do allow candidates for office to control ballot-measure campaigns, as long as the relationship is officially declared on publicly accessible campaign disclosure documents.
Fulhorst noted that the state Fair Political Practices Commission recently attempted to impose contribution limits for ballot-measure committees controlled by candidates, but the new rule couldn’t withstand a legal challenge. So, if Sanders were to take the reins of SDCHR’s campaign, he could, in a way, benefit from unlimited contributions.

All that might turn out to be moot, however. “You’re talking about hypotheticals that don’t apply here. That’s not our intent,” Littler said. “While the mayor’s office is aware of our efforts, we have not consulted with them in formulating our initiative. We are an independent group.”

Sanders campaign spokesperson Kevin Klein said Sanders will have no part to play in SDCHR’s charter-reform effort.

For his part, businessman Steve Francis, who’s running against Sanders, will be monitoring links between the campaigns, including one named Tom Shepard. “If there’s a suggestion that somehow there’s no linkage, and then some of the same consultants are showing up on that [SDCHR] committee that are also doing work for an elected official, there’s a linkage,” said Francis campaign manager Charles Gallagher.


A whole lot of books coming our way...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Samantha Harvey's THE WILDERNESS, about a sixty year old man's struggle to uncover the source of guilt he suffers for events that, due to the onset of Alzheimer's, he can no longer fully recall, to Lorna Owen at Nan A. Talese, in a pre-empt, by Anna Webber at United Agents (NA).

Nancy Spiller's ENTERTAINING DISASTERS, in which a Southern California food writer who has long been serving up fictional dinner parties as fact faces her first real dinner party in a decade while all hell breaks loose in her personal life, to Jack Shoemaker at Counterpoint, in an exclusive submission by the author (World). She is now represented by Betsy Amster at Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises.


Author of The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst's THE NOBODIES ALBUM, about a former bestselling novelist who has re-written the endings to all of her novels and in doing so, has removed clues about her personal life that had been hidden within -- and when her estranged, rock star son is accused of murder, she endeavors to find out the truth: about the murder, and about the secrets of their shared past, moving to Alison Callahan at Doubleday, for two books, for publication in spring 2010, by Douglas Stewart at Sterling Lord Literistic.

Martin Walker's first two books in his BRUNO, CHIEF OF POLICE series, in which the sole member of the village police in a tiny French town must protect his proud, ancient town from anything -- whether overbearing national officials or violent intruder -- that threatens the peace, to Jonathan Segal at Knopf, in a pre-empt, by Stephanie Cabot at The Gernert Company, on behalf of Caroline Wood at Felicity Bryan Associates (US).

Promise Not to Tell author Jennifer McMahon's DISMANTLED, in which a terrible crime returns to haunt old college friends who once formed a group of Compassionate Dismantlers, believing that things (and perhaps, people) must be taken literally apart to truly understand them, again to Jeanette Perez at Harper, in a two-book deal, by Daniel Lazar at Writers House (NA).

Sarah Blake's THE POSTMISTRESS, weaving between the Blitz in London and the fates of a small town through radio broadcasts exploring simultaneously the lives both at war and those who stay behind, writing about how those who carry the truth sometimes must bear a terrible weight, to Amy Einhorn at Amy Einhorn Books, in a pre-empt, by Stephanie Cabot at The Gernert Company (World).


NYT bestselling biographer of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Dale Earnhardt, Leigh Montville's biography of Evel Knievel, exploring the cultural icon and the man behind it, examining how a boy from a dusty western town became a legend who embodied Americana in the 1970s and beyond, to Jason Kaufman at Doubleday, by Esther Newberg at ICM (world).

Author of SADDAM Con Coughlin's KHOMEINI'S GHOST, a biography showing how an impoverished student from a remote area of Iran became a religious extremist who led one of the most dramatic revolutions of our time, to Emily Takoudes at Ecco, for publication in winter 2010, by Melanie Jackson at Melanie Jackson Agency, acting with Gill Coleridge at Rogers, Coleridge and White (NA).


Founder of NetApp David Hitz's HOW TO CASTRATE A BULL: Everything is Broken, Your Customers Are Liars, Everyone Wants to Kill You, and Other Fun Problems, which parallels the victory of the author's company -- a leader in data storage, management, and security that is rated one of the best places to work by Fortune magazine -- with his personal narrative and uses insightful humor and colorful illustrations to demonstrate how to increase one's business skills, co-written by Pat Walsh, to Rebecca Browning at Jossey-Bass, in a very nice deal, for publication in early 2009, by Amy Rennert at theAmy Rennert Agency.


Independent, embedded journalist Ed Darack's VICTORY POINT: THE UNTOLD STORY OF OPERATIONS RED WINGS AND WHALERS, which chronicles two Marine Corps missions that represent not just a series of fierce battles, but a small war won by a battalion of Marines -- the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment (2/3), to Natalee Rosenstein at Berkley, at auction, by Scott Miller at Trident Media Group.

Maxine Rosaler and Phillip Margulies's THE DEVIL ON TRIAL, five famous trials that put the American system of justice in jeopardy, featuring courtroom dramas of feared defendants, from the Salem witches to 9-11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, to Ann Rider at Houghton Mifflin, by Ginger Knowlton at Curtis Brown (NA).

THE JESUIT AND THE SKULL and RIDDLE OF THE COMPASS author's Amir Aczel's THE CAVE, about the world of the Cro Magnon peoples of Southern Europe, whose beautiful renderings of animals and their mysterious symbols represent Man's first attempt at written language, to Stephen Power at Wiley, by John Taylor "Ike" Williams at Kneerim & Williams (World).


Founder of Vidlit Liz Dubelman and Yiddish with Dick and Jane co-author Barbara Davilman's WHAT WAS I THINKING?, fifty-six humorous bad boyfriend stories from smart women writing about the moment they knew they had -- once again -- picked the wrong guy, to Elizabeth Beier at St. Martin's, by Patty Brown at Downtown Bookworks.


Roger Moore's memoir, MY WORD IS MY BOND, sharing his recollections of playing some of his most famous roles, his fears of serious illness, including his own bout with prostate cancer (which he beat), and how his neighbor Audrey Hepburn got him involved in UNICEF, with anecdotes about such stars as Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Angie Dickinson, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart, and Gregory Peck, to Bruce Nichols at Collins, by Dan Strone at Trident Media Group, in association with Lesley Pollinger of Pollinger Limited (US).UK/Commonwealth rights to Michael O'Mara, for publication in October 2008.

Tori Murden McClure's THERE BY SEA MONSTERS, her story of being the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic ocean, to Caroline Sutton at Ballantine, by Jillian Manus at Manus & Associates (world).Rights:


Pop star George Michael's "no-holds barred" account of his personal and professional life, which he intends to write himself, to Belinda Budge at Harper UK and Jonathan Burnham at Harper, with Rakesh Satyal editing in the US, in what they claim is "one of the biggest book deals ever concluded in UK publishing," for publication in fall 2009, by manager Andy Stephens (world).


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

From Americans in poverty to Rep Simpson's hair...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

"Many of the poorest people in the United States are still struggling to recover from the effects of a recession that ended six years ago, making them very vulnerable as the country stands on the brink of a new downturn." In 2006, "12.3 percent of Americans were living in poverty, compared with 11.7 percent in 2001, the year of the last recession."

The House has postponed votes on "criminal contempt citations against White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers" in order to foster "bipartisan unity" while working on an economic stimulus package.

Planned Parenthood "expects to raise at least $10 million over the next 10 months to recruit patients, as well as their friends and families, to lobby legislators and vote for candidates who support Planned Parenthood's agenda." The campaign "will be the group's most ambitious and expensive effort ever."

"House Democrats have scheduled a vote Wednesday to override President Bush's December veto of the $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program."

The Writers Guild of America "will begin informal talks with studios" tomorrow "after agreeing to drop proposals to unionize reality and animation shows that had contributed to a negotiations impasse." The talks "will be aimed at a resumption of full negotiations, both sides said in statements."

And finally: Rep. Mike Simpson's (R-ID) hair is "threatening to cascade past his shoulders in waves," and colleagues are unhappy. Last week, a colleague "whisked past Simpson" in the Speaker's Lobby and said, "Call Joe Q," referring to the House barber. Simpson said that he also recently grew a beard after a trip to the Middle East, but he shaved it off after his wife "told him he looked like a terrorist."


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pull their tax exempt status immediately....

via email:

Archbishop Rips Rick Majerus for Support of Abortion Rights, Stem Cell Research
Posted Jan 22nd 2008 1:31PM
by Michael David Smith

Filed under: NCAA Basketball Coaches, NCAA Basketball Gossip

Saint Louis University basketball coach Rick Majerus is supporting Hillary Clinton for president, and he made an appearance for her campaign on Saturday. Now Majerus could be in hot water with his employer. Saint Louis is a Catholic school, and Majerus said he is pro-choice on abortion and that he supports stem cell research. St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke says Majerus should be disciplined -- and maybe even fired:

During an interview with the Post-Dispatch today in Washington, where Burke is attending the March for Life, he said the coach should be disciplined."It's not possible to be a Catholic and hold those positions," Burke said. "When you take a position in a Catholic university, you don't have to embrace everythign the Catholic church teaches. But you can't make statements which call into question the identity and mission of the Catholic church."

The archbishop declined to offer specifics of what discipline Majerus should face. "I'm confident it (the university) will deal with the question of a public representative making declarations that are inconsistent with the Catholic faith."

Burke has a long history of using his position in the Catholic church to criticize Democrats and Catholics who support Democrats, and Majerus is just the latest person to feel his wrath.


Preachers making major $$$$$$$.....

From Poll Point Press via :

Sarah Posner
Fraud and the GOP Crusade for Values Voters

Sarah Posner, writing for PoliPoint Press, takes a look into the shady finances and manipulative politics of America's leading televangelists.


Bush economy a flop...Obama checks Bill out...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

President Bush's attempt to revive the world's biggest economy "was greeted with heavy skepticism on Tuesday as markets tumbled across the globe." Markets in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Sydney all fell farther in late trading Tuesday than they had all day on Monday.

"The Federal Reserve, confronted with a global stock sell-off fanned by increased fears of a recession, cut a key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point on Tuesday."

Bloomberg writes that President Bush has become a "supplicant" to the Saudis for assistance to overcome a recession. "The Saudi monarchy once depended on the U.S. to protect its reign and its oil from foes like Saddam Hussein. These days, President George W. Bush needs the world's biggest exporter of crude more than it needs him."

"The percent of Army recruits with a high school diploma dropped last year, continuing a trend that has worsened since the start of the Iraq war," according to a new report by the National Priorities Project released Tuesday. In 2007, "nearly 71 percent of Army recruits graduated from high school," falling short of the Army's goal of 90 percent.

"Undocumented immigrants are driving up the number of people without health insurance." The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 59 percent of the nation's undocumented immigrants are uninsured, and they represent about 15% of the nation's 47 million uninsured people.

And finally: During yesterday's CNN Democratic presidential candidate debate, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) was asked about "novelist Toni Morrison's salute to Bill Clinton as 'the first black President.'" Obama replied: "I would have to investigate more Bill's dancing abilities and some of this other stuff before I accurately judged whether he was, in fact, a brother."


Can CIA put anything in print?

From Secrecy News:


"The CIA requires all current and former Agency employees and contractors, and others who are obligated by CIA secrecy agreement, to submit for prepublication review to the CIA's Publications Review Board (PRB) all intelligence-related materials intended for publication or public dissemination," according to a 2007 regulation on the subject.

The scope of the requirement, according to CIA, is expansive. It "includes, but is not limited to, works of fiction; books; newspaper columns; academic journal articles; magazine articles;... letters to the editor;... scripts; screenplays; internet blogs, emails, or other writings;" and so forth.

A redacted version of the latest version of the CIA regulation was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the James Madison Project, a non-profit advocacy organization. TheProject's director, attorney Mark S. Zaid, frequently litigates pre-publication review disputes against the CIA.

The text of the regulation, "Agency Prepublication Review of Certain Material Prepared for Public Dissemination," 30 May 2007, is here:

Related background on CIA prepublication review policy, including a (redacted) handbook for agency reviewers, can be found on this page:


Be careful who you vote for...You might get that wish...

From David Sirota via email:

The Politics of Hopelessness
By David Sirota
Credo Action, 1/22/08

"You were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart." -Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton, 1/22/08

That exchange from the presidential debate last night lasted about 3 seconds - if you flipped the channel for a moment, you might have missed it. That was the amount of time the two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for president spent talking about the corporate takeover of our government - the issue that almost singularly drives American politics and that is at the core of our country's most fundamental problems.

Clinton, of course, declined to address this part of her past - the part where she helped direct Wal-Mart, arguably the most efficiently rapacious, environmentally destructive, and anti-worker creation in all of human history. She cynically parried by mentioning a campaign contributor of Obama's who has been in some legal trouble - as if we are expected to forget the name Norman Hsu, much less Clinton's status as the top recipient of health industry cash in the entire Congress - Republican or Democrat.

And thanks to moderator Wolf Blitzer, the debate was quickly shifted to topics less uncomfortable for the corporate media like, say, how Barack Obama voted "present"in one half of one percent of his votes as a state legislator in Illinois. The horror.

Later in the debate, when John Edwards gave perhaps the most eloquent answer of all on a question about poverty, Clinton tried to one-up everyone by saying "when I graduated from law school, I didn't go to work for a law firm. I went to work for Marian Wright Edelman at the Children's Defense Fund."

Yes, folks - forget about her time at Arkansas most powerful corporate law firm. Forget that she ignored potential conflicts-of-interest to serve at that corporate law firm even as her husband was governor of the state.

Forget her role helping build Wal-Mart into the monster it is today. Forget even her sitting by and cheering as her husband's administration - which she now overtly asks voters to re-embrace with her candidacy - rammed NAFTA and welfare reform through Congress, throwing millions of people into poverty.

Yes, just remember that for a few moments right out of college, she worked at a non-profit.

This is truly the politics of hopelessness - a politics mastered by a Clinton machine deft in all the dark arts of corruption and demagoguery. It is a machine fueled by tens of millions of dollars of corporate cash from moneyed interests looking for the kind of candidate who appears on the cover of Fortune magazine and laughs at workers who were crushed by Clinton administration policies.

It is a machine that is all too happy to champion a former president who, according to today's Wall Street Journal, is happy to personally pocket $20 million windfall from a well-connected crony. It is a machine headed by a candidate who pushed the country into war, yet a candidate happy to attack an opponent for not opposing the same war more strenuously. It is a machine only too thrilled to use innuendo to play the race card. It is a machine, in short, that is ready to once again prioritize the ugliest impulses of two dynasty-seeking egomaniacs using vapid soundbites ("I'm a hand's on leader") and intelligence-insulting slogans ("Delivering Real Change") to run "over the dead bodies" of Americans hoping for something different.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Swapping good health care for the almighty dollar...

From In These Times via :

Selling Out Grandma

Emily Udell, reporting for In These Times, writes: "In late 2007, the investment firm The Carlyle Group purchased one of the country's largest nursing home chains despite the concerns of regulators, lawmakers and workers' groups that the acquisition would lead to staffing cuts and cause a decline in quality of care for residents."


Enough already! Pelosi has to go...and that's that.

From Reuters:

Pelosi greeted with “Impeach” Bush and Cheney buttons
January 18th, 2008
filed by Thomas Ferraro

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’s drawing heat from fellow Democratic lawmakers as well as people across the nation for refusing to move to impeach President George W. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney.

“I go through airports, and people have buttons as if they knew I was coming,” Pelosi said with a smile, mimicking a protester pointing to an “Impeach” button on their chest.

But the California Democrat said she is sticking to her position that trying to remove Bush or Cheney would be divisive, and she added, most likely unsuccessful. If the House voted to impeach Bush and Cheney, a two-thirds vote would be needed in the closely divided Senate to oust them.

Many Democrats and civil liberties groups have accused the Bush administration of misleading the United States into the Iraq war and violating the rights of U.S. citizens with its warrantless surveillance program. The White House denies the charges.

In helping Democrats win back control of Congress in 2006 from Republicans, Pelosi said she would not push for impeachment despite a number of calls to do so.

Speaking with reporters, she recalled that she wanted to focus on unifying the nation, passing the Democrats’ legislative agenda — not picking an impeachment fight with the White House.
“It was my belief that an impeachment of the Vice President or the President … would be very divisive in our country, and that is what I believed then,” Pelosi said. “It should have come to no surprise when I became Speaker I said it again, and I continue to hold that view.”


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Examining the "Major Media's" Prez campaigns...

From TomDispatch:

Tomgram: Jay Rosen, Mindlessness in the Media, Campaign 2008

Let's see. They were wrong on Hillary Clinton, essentially nominating her for the presidency months before a primary was held. In Iowa, they were wrong on Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama, John Edwards and Clinton (again). In New Hampshire, wrong on Obama, Clinton (yet again), and -- at least earlier in the campaign season -- John McCain. In Michigan, wrong on McCain (again) and Mitt Romney. Just remind me, in this strange presidential nomination season in which each obscure primary is treated as if it were the night of the presidential election, when have they been right?

You know just who I'm talking about. Before we're done -- as with some losing sports team on a record-setting roll -- the season's entertainment may consist of rooting for them never to be right, straight through November 4, 2008. They could be the Buffalo Bills, who lost four Super Bowls in four consecutive years, or, more humbly, this year's Miami Dolphins, who went 0-13, and became a national news phenomenon, before winning their first game.

These days, when you read anything about the next stop on the presidential primary local, as in this passage, even from a sharp observer like Michael Tomasky, you should run for the hills or head for the nearest bookie to plunk your money on a Giuliani loss: "It's also suddenly plausible that Rudy Giuliani, who I still think may be the party's strongest candidate for November, could elbow his way back into this thing. He's counting on a win in Florida, which votes on January 29."
Investigative journalist for the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh caught this spirit in a recent interview when he said: "If I knew this, I mean, who would win [the presidential race], I'd be at the race track everyday. Not reporting… No one knows. Listen, this is politics, and I'm just a guy who writes, who writes stories about the war."

And don't think sports is the worst analogy to use here either. After all they love it. They talk about "handicapping" each primary and, as if it were indeed a crucial bowl game, endless "high-stakes moments." So think of the collective media (not leaving out their good right arm, the prolific pollsters) as the Miami Dolphins of this political season, already nearing 0-13 and surging toward a record -- and we're barely out of the first quarter in the slog to the presidency.

At a time when TV's fiction writers are MIA and much of TV life is deep in reruns and reality-show hell, political pundits, reporters, and talking heads, writer-less as they may be, can do no wrong by doing primary-season wrong. The political ratings are already smashing. As CNN/USA Today President Jon! athan Klein puts it, without a sitting president or vice president in the race, these primaries are "like 'The Apprentice.' Except that you're the ones that get to say 'You're Fired.' "

So I'm ready to handicap this one. The little media nag that couldn't probably can't. It isn't coming up from the rear; it won't win, place, or show, but when it gets one right, as when Miami won, that will be national news.

In the meantime, consider just why this beast has no brain, as explained by one of the canniest media critics around, Jay Rosen, whose Pressthink blog is a must-read in any season. In his twentieth year of "horse-race criticism," he's long been involved in the attempt to provide alternative forms of coverage.


The Beast Without a Brain

Click here to read more of this dispatch.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Duncan Hunter's replacement in Congress..Navy SEAL...

1/15/08 ... Retired Navy SEAL Commander Mike Lumpkin opens Headquarters
Press Release Click here for original article
San Diego, CA-

Retired Navy SEAL Commander, Mike Lumpkin announced the Grand Opening of his Congressional Campaign Headquarters today.

The SEAL Commander was selected for promotion, but instead chose to retire last September and run for Congress. “It was an honor defending our nation as a SEAL for the last twenty-one years, but I believe there is a more pressing need to defend my country in Congress right now,” said Lumpkin.

Commander Lumpkin admits that Navy SEALs have a reputation as independent thinkers, yet share a common bond. “Everyday, on every mission, we experience how vital it is to stand together to fight America’s battles. This is the spirit and conviction I will bring to Washington to get our country back on track. More importantly, this is the independent, patriotic spirit of East County,” Lumpkin stated.

Commander Lumpkin is a decorated combat veteran and was the Deputy Commander of all Special Operations forces in Iraq. He was the Officer in Charge of training and readiness of all West Coast SEAL Teams and a SEAL Team Commander. During his service, Lumpkin managed thousands of people and multi million dollar budgets. His team building skills include driving consensus in the United States Congress as the Special Operations liaison and he is recognized by the Department of Defense as a national security expert.

“Our nation is at war, our border is not secure and we are on the verge of a serious recession. The people of the 52nd District deserve representation from someone with military, national security and fiscal expertise. I see the need, I have the qualifications and I am answering the call,” said the retired Commander.

Who: Navy SEAL Commander (Ret.), Mike Lumpkin

What: Open House Grand Opening of 52nd District Congressional Campaign Offices

Where: 10769 Woodside Avenue, Suite 208, Santee

When: Saturday, January 19, 2008 from noon to 8pm

His website:

NOTE: It's worth reading...


New way to introduce a book....

From David Bishop:

GREAT NEWS! I am a semifinalist in's Breakthrough Novel Award competition. I entered some weeks ago by submitting the required first 5,000 words of a completed novel. Mine was The Third Coincidence.

Anyway, two days ago I got an email saying I was one of approximately 200 semifinalists (out of over 5,000 entrants). The final winner will be published by Penguin Books and Amazon will provide marketing space on their site. The next step in the competition is to become a finalist.

That judging will be done by Amazon in conjunction with Penguin Books. One of their considerations will be the reviews written by Amazon customers who have first read the excerpt on the Amazon site. Will you help me? To help you will need to follow these steps.

1. Go to

2. Scroll down the left margin and click on Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

3. Next: go to the end of the paragraph and click on mysteries/thrillers/suspense

4. Next: there will be a page of simulated book covers in brown. Scroll down to the fourth row where you will find my entry. The Third Coincidence. Click on that title

5. Next: This will get you to the page showing the title and my name as author. In the center of this page is a synopsis of the novel, much like what you might read on a book jacket. In the upper right corner of this page will be a blue bar that will allow you to download a free copy of the excerpt from my novel. Click on "Free Download."

NOTE: If you are not currently an Amazon account holder they will likely prompt you to enter your email and a password you choose. No other information is needed. If you are a current Amazon account holder this prompt will not appear.

6. The next page will then allow you to choose between: 1) view excerpt on screen for reading, 2) download to your computer, or 3) email it to yourself. Click on the choice you prefer.

7. This will get you the first 5,000 words of my novel, The Third Coincidence.

8. After you read it, please repeat the first few steps above until you find a prompt that will allow you to prepare a "review" of the excerpt. There are other reviews there that you can read if you would like to first get a feel for the what and how of a reader review.

IMPORTANT: It is the review itself, not the downloading and reading, that will help as those reviews will be considered by Amazon and Penguin in making their selections of the finalists. Every finalist will be considered for publication. So, this is the biggest opportunity I've had to get my fiction writing noticed. Thank you for your help.

Please let me know when you have read it. I'd love for you to email me your comments. As for your review itself, I take a look at and read the ones posted from time to time so I'll see yours after you post it.

Thanks again for helping with something that is so important to me,




After the Nevada caucus....

I am not a happy camper. Seems to me the major media has entirely too much influence on picking the people they've decided we're going to have the choice to vote for. Especially on the Dem side.

Very little serious attention to John Edwards and literally jerking Dennis Kucinich off the ballots. Add that to Kucinich being denied the right to debate with other candidates. Mike Gravel pretty much did himself in. And it's a shame that both Dodd and Biden dropped out so soon.

And now I'm reading that N. Carolina's voting machines aren't worth the dust they're sitting on.

At least I've escaped the fate of having to use a machine to vote. There's nothing more convenient that my CA mail-in ballot. Have already used it to vote for Edwards. And yes, I sure did mail it in.

Stacy Taylor, talk show host on 1700-AM here in San Diego--he was formerly on KLSD-AM until KLSD-AM dumped all the progressive talk shows on their station--mentioned a couple of days ago that he was getting many calls in John Edwards' favor. I do hope they translate into votes come Feb 5th, or get mailed in early.

So let the chips fall come the 5th, and we'll all go from there.


Friday, January 18, 2008

How convenient for GOP....

From Wired Magazine via

GOP Figure Contracted to Deliver E-Voting Machines in Maryland

Kim Zetter, Wired Magazine, "A family-owned trucking firm that has a contract to deliver Diebold electronic voting machines to 14 voting districts in Maryland is headed by the former chairman of Maryland's Republican Party, Wired News has learned."


FEMA generosity....


FEMA Refunds Trailers

MSNBC — After issuing formaldehyde laden trailers to Katrina victims, FEMA is offering refunds to those who bought their trailers...


WH emails...just and oversight...Wrong guy, wrong job...

From American Progress:

Think Fast....

The House Oversight Committee announced yesterday that it will hold hearings on missing White House e-mails. Responding to White House claims that there is "no evidence" of missing emails, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) released "an internal White House study" identifying "473 separate days in which no electronic messages were stored" by White House offices.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee defended South Carolina's right to display the confederate flag on public grounds. "You don't like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag," he said. "If somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell them what to do with the pole; that's what we'd do."

The Washington Post reveals the coal industry's multi-million dollar campaign "in primary and caucus states to rally public support for coal-fired electricity and to fuel opposition to legislation that Congress is crafting to slow climate change." Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, a coal front group, has already spent $1.3 million on ads in Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina.

CNN reported yesterday that "lobbyists are working overdrive in Washington trying to make sure that their cash cows are not affected by any economic stimulus plan."

"About 75% of Baghdad's neighborhoods are now secure, a dramatic increase from 8% a year ago when President Bush ordered more troops to the capital, U.S. military figures show."

Approximately "10% to 20% of Marines and soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq may have suffered" traumatic brain injury. Yet according to an Army task force study released yesterday, there are "major gaps" in identifying and treating the injury that "were created by a lack of coordination and policy-driven approaches."

"Because of an unprecedented surge in immigration applications last summer, legal immigrants will have to wait much longer during the next two years to receive visas or naturalization papers." The average wait time is now 18 months, "up from 7 months or less last year."

The House Select Committee on Global Warming called on the Interior Department yesterday "to hold off auctioning oil and gas leases in northwest Alaska's Chuckchi Sea until the department decides whether to list polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act." "Every time there is a choice between extinction and extraction in this administration, extraction wins," Chairman Edward Markey (D-MA) said.

"The CIA has concluded that members of al-Qaeda and allies of Pakistani tribal leader Baitullah Mehsud were responsible for last month's assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto," according to CIA director Michael Hayden. He also said the groups were "behind a new wave of violence threatening that country's stability."

The Washington Post reports that FEMA has reversed course again on what to do with its Katrina trailers. After originally purchasing 145,000 trailers and then selling them at steep discounts because communities refused them, FEMA is now seeking to repurchase them at the original price "because of concerns that the trailers are tainted with formaldehyde."

And finally: Yesterday, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) "launched into a lengthy question to Ben Bernanke during the Fed chairman's House testimony." "Seeing as how you were the former CEO Of Goldman Sachs," Kaptur began before being "quickly stopped by Mr. Bernanke and the laughter in the room." "I've got the wrong firm?" she asked, before being corrected that she was thinking of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Said Mr. Bernanke: "I was the CEO of the Princeton Economics Department." (Watch the video here.)