Friday, February 29, 2008

Yeah..Where WERE the Doctors?

From Health Beat via :

Maggie Mahar The Cholesterol Con - Where Were the Doctors?
Parts I and II

Maggie Mahar's two-part series in Health Beat on "The Cholesterol Con" asks, "During the many years of the Cholesterol Con - where were the doctors? When everyone from the makers of Mazola Corn Oil to the Popes of Cardiology assured us that virtually anyone could ward off heart disease by lowering his cholesterol, why didn't more of our doctors raise an eyebrow and warn us, 'Actually, that's not what the research shows.'"

[Click link above to continue reading]


Utah...nuke garbage dump?

From Christian Science Monitor via :

Will US Become World's Nuclear-Waste Dump?

According to Mark Clayton of The Christian Science Monitor, "The federal government is weighing a Utah company's request to import large amounts of low-level radioactive waste from Italy - a step critics say could lead the United States to become a nuclear garbage dump for the world."

[Click link above to continue reading]


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Marine's 5th Iraq tour...& Nat'l Day of the Cowboy!!!

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

A Marine regiment is heading to Iraq for its fifth tour. Yesterday, the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment based at Twentynine Palms, California, reportedly became the first Marine Corps unit to be deployed a record five times. Sixty percent of the unit will be going to Iraq for the first time.

Bush administration officials tout private Medicare plans as having extra benefits and low costs. A new Government Accountability Office report, however, finds that these plans "often cost beneficiaries more than the traditional government-run Medicare program."

Speaking before the House Financial Services Committee yesterday, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke admitted that the U.S. economic situation "has become distinctly less favorable" since last summer. He still refused to say that the economy was heading toward a recession, but acknowledged his forecast may be overly optimistic.

This next year, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will serve as John McCain's point man on Capitol Hill. "There ain't going to be a lot of 'bringing us together' between now and November," Graham said. "There's going to be a lot of jockeying for political advantage. It's sad, but true."

If elected president, McCain would the first president born outside the 50 states to take the presidential oath of office. Having been born in the Panama Canal Zone, McCain's candidacy is "reviving a musty debate" about the meaning of the Constitution's "natural-born citizen" requirement for presidential eligibility.

Despite great strides made in the past four decades toward expanding a black middle class and producing black political leaders in the U.S., a new study released today concludes that African-Americans still lag behind whites "significantly in income, education and other measures of well-being."

House conservatives, long divided over a proposed earmark moratorium, are "conceding that they do not have support for the idea from their colleagues, even among most of the members of the 103-member Republican Study Committee." "The votes aren't there," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).

Iraq's presidential council rejected a plan for new provincial elections, sending the bill back to parliament for reworking -- "a major setback to U.S.-backed efforts to promote national reconciliation." The ruling came despite a reported last-minute telephone call by Vice President Cheney to the body.

And finally: Some bipartisan cooperation in Congress. Roll Call reports that both parties are "rallying to a common cause and introducing a bipartisan bill designating July 26, 2008, as 'National Day of the Cowboy.' The legislation, which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) introduced Feb. 13, honors the 'pioneering men and women, known as cowboys.'" Giffords's spokesman noted, "Who can disagree about the importance of cowboys?"


Good for this California Republican....

From Secrecy News:


"The disdain and uncooperative nature that this administration has shown toward Congress... is so egregious that I can no longer assume that it is simply bureaucratic incompetence or isolated mistakes. Rather, I have come to the sad conclusion that this administration has intentionally obstructed Congress' rightful and constitutional duties."

That rather damning criticism comes not from a liberal opponent of the Bush Administration, but from one of its most right-wing supporters in Congress, California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

"This administration is setting a terrible precedent. What people have to understand... is when there is a liberal Democrat in the White House, the President will have set [the precedent] that Members of Congress can simply be dismissed, and that when they are trying to do a congressional investigation need not be cooperated with, in fact, can be obstructed. Is that the type of President that we want? Is that acceptable? It shouldn't be acceptable to Democrats and it shouldn't be acceptable to Republicans," he said on the House floor on February 26.

Rep. Rohrabacher described a series of incidents in which the Bush Administration blocked congressional initiatives or failed to meet his expectations. Some of the offenses described, like the failure to administer a polygraph to former national security advisor Samuel R.Berger concerning his theft of documents from the National Archives, seem idiosyncratic or otherwise questionable. But the Congressman's outrage appears genuine enough.

"It is truly with a heavy heart, Madam Speaker, that I stand here reciting example after example of the maliciousness and condescending attitude exhibited by this administration. It is a problem that's flowing from the top."

"When I hear my friends on the other side of the aisle accusing this administration of stonewalling, of coverups, or thwarting investigations, I sadly must concur with them," Rep. Rohrabacher concluded.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Most unusual films and books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Rita winner and triple finalist Tamera Alexander's IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, the first in a series set during the Civil War about an impoverished woman who becomes an assistant to the owner of a plantation and the richest woman in America -- involving blockade running, runaway slaves, the art world, and a master gardener who teaches her where true beauty can be found, to Charlene Patterson at Bethany House, at auction, by Natasha Kern at Natasha Kern Literary Agency (World).


Greg van Eekhout's NORSE CODE, a contemporary fantasy incorporating Norse mythology in which the end of the world (Ragnarok) is approaching, prompting the ancient Norse gods to enter our world -- some to prevent, and some to hasten the ultimate destruction of the world of man, to Juliet Ulman at Bantam Dell, by Caitlin Blasdell at Liza Dawson Associates (world English).


Marisha Pessl's NIGHT FILM, a psychological thriller about obsession, family loyalty and ambition set in raw contemporary Manhattan, moving to Kate Medina at Random House, by her new agent Amanda Urban at ICM.Richard Grant's CAVE DWELLERS, a literary thriller set in World War II Berlin, to Gary Fisketjon at Knopf, in a nice deal, by Howard Morhaim at the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency (NA).

Author of DRIVING WITH DEAD PEOPLE COWBOY AND WILLS: A Love Story, Monica Holloway's adventurous, inspirational narrative about how the family's golden retriever, a gentle dog who ached from cancer, gave their son, a bright and loving spirit who struggles with autism, a life-affirming confidence and trust, to Tricia Boczkowski at Simon Spotlight Entertainment, by Laurie Fox at the Linda Chester Literary Agency.

D&J Book Packaging and Media's BACON: A LOVE STORY, a salty survey of everybody's favorite meat, written by proprietor of the blog "Bacon Unwrapped" Heather Lauer, to Anne Cole at Collins, at auction, by Dan Conaway at Writers House (NA).


Clare Morrall's NATURAL FLIGHTS OF THE HUMAN MIND, optioned to Mick Audsley of Scrimpo Productions, by Meg Davis at MBA Literary Agents.

Film rights to A Lee Martinez's novel IN THE COMPANY OF OGRES, about Never Dead Ned who discovers why he keeps returning from the dead, and suddenly realizes he must do everything he can to stay alive, optioned to Rough Draft Studios (The Simpsons Movie, Futurama), by Sarah Self at The Gersh Agency on behalf of Sally Harding at The Cooke Agency.

Valerie Block's NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, optioned to Marilyn Agrelo, director of MAD HOT BALLROOM, by Bill Contardi, on behalf of Gail Hochman at Brandt & Hochman.


Member of the Memphis Mafia and DJ George Klein's ELVIS: MY BEST MAN, an intimate portrait of Elvis Presley, who stood as best man at Klein's wedding, chronicling decades of friendship that began in the 8th grade, candidly sharing the many highs and lows, culminating in Presley's comeback album from American Studios in which Klein was instrumental, to Kristin Kiser at Crown, with Jed Donahue editing, by Scott Waxman at Waxman Literary Agency.


BET gospel icon Dr. Bobby Jones's collection of recipes from well-known African-American musicians, authors, and celebrities, taking traditional recipes in the African-American community and making them heart-healthy, to Sarah Sper at Center Street, by Kirby Kim at Vigliano Associates (NA).


Author of APOCALYPSE 2012: An Inquiry into the End of Civilization, journalist Lawrence Joseph's follow-up, 2012: The Aftermath, which will systematically assess the greatest threats to our daily life from the 2012 scenario of global upheaval, and suggest the best ways to prevent them and to control the damage, should the unthinkable come to pass, to Becky Cole at Broadway, by Andrew Stuart at The Stuart Agency (World).

Colorado Congresswoman and chief architect of stem cell legislation that President Bush has vetoed twice Diana DeGette's SEX, SCIENCE, AND STEM CELLS, an indictment of Republican positions on sex education, birth control, abortion and embryonic stem cell research, to Gene Brissie at Lyons Press, for publication in July 2008, by Mel Berger at the William Morris Agency.


Award-winning documentary filmmaker Brian Biegel and author Peter Thomas Fornatale's MIRACLE BALL: My Hunt for the Shot Heard Around the World, the story of Biegel's search for the lost Bobby Thomson 1951 home-run ball and how the discoveries he made along the way would change his life forever, to Jed Donahue at Crown, at auction, for publication in conjunction with a documentary about the search, by Scott Waxman at Waxman Literary Agency.


Pete Dunne's CUMBERLAND SUMMER, the natural history of summer, revealed by a close look at the plants, animals, and people of one rural New Jersey county, to Lisa White at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for publication in 2010, by Russell Galen at Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency (NA).


Eminem's THE WAY I AM, a collection of photographs, art, sketches for lyrics, notes from journals, and at least a little actual writing, to Ian Preece at Orion, by Marc Gerald at The Agency Group and Luca Scalisi (UK/Commonwealth).


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In bad shape: The guards at Gitmo....

From The Guardian UK via

Guantanamo Guards Suffer Psychological Trauma

James Randerson for The Guardian UK reports that "The guards at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp are the 'overlooked victims' of America's controversial detention facility in Cuba, according to a psychiatrist who has treated some of them."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Gitmo...where the prisoners came from....

From Alternet via

Shocking Stories About the Forgotten War in Afghanistan

Joshua Holland, reporting for AlterNet, interviews Andy Worthington. He writes: "In his book, 'The Guantanamo Files,' historian and journalist Andy Worthington offers a much-needed corrective to the draft of the Afghanistan conflict that most Americans saw on their nightly newscasts.

Worthington is the first to detail the histories of all 774 prisoners who have passed through the Bush administration's 'legal black hole' at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But his history starts in Afghanistan, and makes it abundantly clear that the road to Guantanamo - not to mention Abu Ghraib - began in places like Kandahar."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Monday, February 25, 2008

Disney at Walter Reed Hosp...& Mitt has "best smile"...

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

"A year after a scandal erupted over the long-term treatment of soldiers at the hospital, the Army has turned to Disney for help. 'Service, Disney Style' is newly required for all military and other government employees at Walter Reed."

More and more economists foresee the country falling into a recession, according to the latest survey by the National Association for Business Economics. "The group said in a report being released Monday that 45 percent of the economists on its forecasting panel expect a recession this year."

Yesterday, a suicide bomber attacked a large group of Shiite pilgrims heading to the southern Iraqi city of Karbala to commemorate the death of one of the religion's major figures, Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. At least 56 pilgrims died in that attack, while two other roadside bombs targeting pilgrims went off in eastern Baghdad wounding four.

The Bush administration announced on Saturday that "wiretaps will resume under the current law 'at least for now,'" as "telecommunications companies have agreed to cooperate 'for the time being' with spy agencies' wiretaps."

Last week, Talking Points Memo was awarded a George Polk Award for its coverage of the firing of eight United States attorneys. The New York Times writes that the award signified for many that "anyone can assume the mantle of reporting on the pressing issues affecting the nation and the world, with the imprimatur of a mainstream media outlet or not."

The number of troops and their families "seeking help from a Pentagon employee-assistance hotline -- often linked to war deployments -- has grown 40% every year since 2004." The calls, which provide "confidential sessions with a licensed therapist," underscore concerns "that more and longer combat tours strain troops and their families."

Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard public policy lecturer Linda Bilmes write, "We have attempted to identify how much we have been spending -- and how much we will, in the end, likely have to spend” for the Iraq war. They conclude: "The figure we arrive at is more than $3 trillion."

"Will any candidate be ready to lead on Day One?" asks the USA Today. "You need to both be able to chart a course that emphasizes your priorities but (also) be able to handle and manage things that you never even thought of that are coming at you from left field," Center for American Progress President and former White House chief of staff John Podesta said. "Stuff just happens."

Women's lives in Afghanistan are "worse than ever." A new report finds that violent attacks against women "are at epidemic proportions with 87 per cent of females complaining of such abuse -- half of it sexual. More than 60 per cent of marriages are forced."

And finally: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney may not have won the GOP nomination for president, but he did win a Chicago Dental Society poll for "best smile." Forty-five percent of dentists thought preferred Romney's pearly whites over all the other presidential candidates. On the Democratic side, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and former senator John Edwards "were neck and neck at 38 percent and 36 percent of the vote." Coming in last? Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), with just six percent of the vote.


HRC staffer does disgusting thing....

From Levine Breaking News:


With a week to go until the Texas and Ohio primaries, stressed Clinton staffers circulated a photo over the weekend of a "dressed" Barack Obama. The photo, taken in 2006, shows the Democrat frontrunner fitted as a Somali Elder, during his visit to Wajir, a rural area in northeastern Kenya. The senator was on a five-country tour of Africa.

"Wouldn't we be seeing this on the cover of every magazine if it were HRC?" questioned one campaign staffer, in an email obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT.

In December, the campaign asked one of its volunteer county coordinators in Iowa to step down after the person forwarded an e-mail falsely stating that Barack Obama is a Muslim. Obama campaign manager David Plouffe quickly accused the Clinton campaign Monday of 'shameful offensive fear-mongering' for circulating the snap.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Other leaders have worn local costumes.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cuba's next president....

From Reuters via New York Times:

[an excerpt]

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba's rubber-stamp National Assembly will name Fidel Castro's successor on Sunday, ending the 49-year rule of the bearded revolutionary who turned Cuba into a communist state on America's doorstep.

His brother Raul Castro, who has been running Cuba since the 81-year-old leader was sidelined by illness 19 months ago, is widely expected to become the next president.

The 614-member legislature meets at 10 a.m. EST. An announcement on composition of the Council of State, the island's highest executive body, is expected in the afternoon.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Taxes under Clinton & Bush...What's wrong here?

From Tax Foundation:

Taxes under Clinton vs. Bush

Consider these stats before VOTING !!!!

Interesting... This needs to be forwarded to those living in "DENIAL"Check your tax bill. Double check using the tax table provided. This is like the movie The Sting with Paul Newman; you scam somebody out of some money and they don't even know what happened.

Based on using the actual tax tables (see link below), here are some examples on what the taxes were/are on various amounts of income for both singles and married couples. Check out this link!

Taxes under Clinton 1999 Taxes under Bush 2008

Single making 30K - tax $8,400 Single making 30K - tax $4,500

Single making 50K - tax $14,000 Single making 50K - tax $12,500

Single making 75K - tax $23,250 Single making 75K - tax $18,750

Married making 60K - tax $16,800 Married making 60K- tax $9,000

Married making 75K - tax $21,000 Married making 75K - tax $18,750

Married making 125K - tax $38,750 Married making 125K - tax $31,250

If you want to know just how effective the mainstream media is, it is amazing how many people that fall into the categories above think Bush is screwing them and Bill Clinton was the greatest President ever. If any democrat is elected, A LL of them say they will repeal the Bush tax cuts and a good portion of the people that fall into the categories above can't wait for it to happen.

Remember the old cliche: "Welfare votes for Welfare" The Liberals never, ever, mention the dreaded question of: Where and Who does the money come from?


Making money from war...

From The Chicago Tribune via :

Inside the World of War Profiteers

David Jackson and Jason Grotto, reporting for The Chicago Tribune from Rock Island, IL, write, "Inside the stout federal courthouse of this Mississippi River town, the dirty secrets of Iraq war profiteering keep pouring out."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Checking Clinton's "35 years of experience" out...

From CQ Politics:

CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS Feb. 21, 2008 – 12:48 a.m.
Adding Up Clinton’s 35-Year Claim
By Bill Adair, editor, PolitiFact, CQ Staff

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton often boasts that she has a long resume — 35 years long, to be precise.

“I have 35 years’ experience making change,” she said in a TV ad.

“I’ve gotten up for 35 years every day and tried to figure out what I could do to help somebody else,” she said in a TV interview.

Asked about the difference between her and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama , she replied, “Well, about 35 years of experience.”

She has used the phrase “35 years” in at least 55 speeches, debates and interviews since 2004, according to our search of a public statements database maintained by Project Vote Smart. So it’s no surprise that a Google search of “Hillary Clinton” and “35 years” yields 515,000 hits.

Several PolitiFact readers asked us to explore the 35-year claim, which Clinton uses to distinguish herself from Obama, her younger (and less experienced) rival. To examine the claim, we interviewed two authors of Clinton books, Sally Bedell Smith and Suzanne Goldenberg, and we examined bios from Clinton’s campaign Web site, her Senate office, the White House and the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

In simple terms, any experience counts as experience, but it’s clear from the context of Clinton’s remarks that she’s speaking about public policy experience, so that’s how we have focused our examination. We’ll start with the math.

Clinton is 60, so if we assume that her 35 years were consecutive, they would have begun in 1973 when she graduated from Yale Law School at age 25. That year she joined the Children’s Defense Fund, an advocacy group for children.

But her math was way off when she claimed the difference with Obama is “35 years of experience.” By our count, Obama, who is 14 years younger than Clinton, has three years of experience as a community organizer, four years as a full-time attorney handling voting rights, employment and housing cases, and 11 years in the Illinois Senate and U.S. Senate. That’s a total of 18 years. So the difference between Clinton and Obama is really 17 years. We rate her claim False.

Has Clinton really awakened every morning for 35 years and “tried to figure out what I could do to help somebody else,” as she claims? We can’t read the senator’s mind, so this one’s not verifiable. If she’s like us, our first thought every morning is about coffee, not helping mankind.
But the broader question of whether Clinton has “35 years of experience” relevant to her quest to become president can be verified.

Her career can be divided into four parts: her first years after law school, her work at the Rose Law Firm and as first lady of Arkansas, her time as first lady in the White House and her seven years in the U.S. Senate. There’s little question that her time in the Senate can be considered political experience, so we’ll focus on the other three.

After law school, Clinton worked briefly for the Children’s Defense Fund and then joined the House Judiciary Committee to work on the impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon. She then taught law in Arkansas for three years (while running a legal aid clinic) before she joined the Rose Law Firm, a prominent corporate firm in Little Rock.

Although she has not always drawn a paycheck for her political work, it’s clear from her resume that public service, particularly involving the welfare of children, has been a major focus for her career and outside activities.

As first lady of Arkansas, she was active in several groups involving education, child welfare and poverty. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the board of directors for the Legal Services Corp., a federal agency that provided legal aid to the poor. She was co-founder of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and she served as president and a member of the group’s board of directors until 1984. She also chaired an advisory committee on rural health, served on a task force on infant mortality and chaired an Arkansas education task force. She chaired the Children’s Defense Fund board from 1986 through 1992.

This work occurred while she was practicing corporate law at the Rose Law Firm.
Goldenberg, author of “Madam President: Is America Ready to Send Hillary Clinton to the White House?”, said Clinton couldn’t work full-time in politics or on children’s issues because she needed a well-paying job to compensate for her husband’s modest salary as governor. (Arkansas ranks near the bottom of the states for gubernatorial pay.)

“Hillary Clinton was the breadwinner — and that was an important role,” said Goldenberg.
Sally Bedell Smith, author of “For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years,” said Clinton has sometimes exaggerated her involvement with political causes, especially for her Arkansas years. “I think she certainly has, over time, been involved in children’s issues at various intervals. But the fact is she was not employed in the nonprofit sector. She was a corporate lawyer.”

Clinton also had parental responsibilities. Her daughter, Chelsea, was born in 1980, after Clinton had been at the law firm for four years.

“Like many women, her life was a juggling act,” Goldenberg said. “She had her family, her full-time job and she had these other activities that really were on the side.”

Her legal work gave her entree into the corporate world: She served on the boards of Wal-Mart, the frozen yogurt chain TCBY and the French building materials company Lafarge.

After her husband was elected president in 1992, Clinton left the Rose Law Firm and became first lady. By most accounts, she was one of the more active first ladies in U.S. history. In contrast to some predecessors (Mamie Eisenhower once described her duties as “Ike runs the country. I turn the pork chops,”) Clinton became especially involved in public policy.

She chaired the White House task force that made an unsuccessful proposal to provide universal health care and she played a key role in creating a children’s health care program. Soon after the legislation passed, the New York Times reported, “Participants in the campaign for the health bill both on and off Capitol Hill said the first lady had played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in lining up White House support.”

As first lady, she advised her husband on Cabinet appointments and senior White House staff positions, Smith said. Clinton also was active on welfare reform and foreign policy issues.

“Her activism was quite unprecedented,” said Smith.

Smith said if she’d been given a title that matched her role, it would have been special counsel to the president.

And so we find Clinton’s resume and accomplishments generally support her claims of 35 years of political experience.

There are a few periods during her Arkansas years when she had less time for public service because she was busy with corporate law and her duties as a new mother. But an examination of her resume and interviews with her biographers show she had a wide range of political and public service roles over those 35 years.

Her claim to be “an agent of change” for that time is a flourish of campaign rhetoric (she was trying to match Obama’s claim to the word change), but we find it’s reasonable because advocating for any group or cause often means to seek change. We find her claim to be Mostly True.

For more truth-o-meter ratings, visit Politifact.


#1 problem in DC....for election...

From Nick Nyhart via email:

Democracy Corner: Mr. Schneider Comes to Washington

Jon Schneider was tired of the role of money in the political process and wanted to do something about it. So he quit his job as a producer in Hollywood and set out to make a documentary. A few years later, his film, Mr. Schneider Goes to Washington, takes on special interests and highlights how money really does rule in Washington, DC.

“I’ve been frustrated with what goes on in Washington for a while. I’ve talked about getting more involved -- I just never got involved,” he said. “It was time to stop talking and start doing.”
Jon is currently putting together a campus tour of the film and is looking for other venues for spreading the word on his issue. See some clips from the movie and sign up to be his friend on MySpace.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Who, in DC, wants war with Iraq?

From Information Clearing House:

What Would It Take to Launch a War With Iran?

By Bruce Ramsey

"A struggle is under way in Washington, D.C. Those opposed to an attack include Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Those wanting an attack, he says, are the deputy national-security adviser for global democracy strategy, Elliott Abrams; Vice President Dick Cheney, "and the hard-line Israel lobby."

[Use link above to continue reading]


From McCain's loan to $60,000 for 1 year's golfing..

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

In a letter to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) this week, Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason says the presidential candidate "can't drop out of the primary election's public financing system until he answers questions about a loan he obtained to kickstart his once faltering presidential campaign."

Federal agents are investigating whether former Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) "knowingly played a role in an alleged conspiracy in 2006 to influence a Mississippi judge presiding over a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against" his brother-in-law, "famed plaintiff attorney Richard 'Dickie' Scruggs." In November 2007, Scruggs was indicted for bribing the judge.

Despite recent interest rate cuts, "the Federal Reserve on Wednesday lowered its projection for economic growth this year, citing damage from the double blows of a housing slump and credit crunch. ... It said it also expects higher unemployment and inflation."

In a statement to Parliament, British foreign secretary David Miliband "has admitted two US 'extraordinary rendition' flights landed on UK territory in 2002." Miliband said he was "very sorry" for previous denials from top British officials, who said in 2005, 2006 and 2007 that "there was no evidence that rendition flights had stopped on UK territory."

An Urban Institute study found that "the average number of Americans who lost their insurance each year increased faster during the economic recovery of 2004-2006 than the recession years of 2000-2004." The study concludes that this spike resulted because the number of Americans receiving coverage from their jobs declined, while wage increases failed to match growing insurance premiums.

A new study concludes that the "supposed 'global cooling' consensus among scientists in the 1970s -- frequently offered by global-warming skeptics as proof that climatologists can't make up their minds -- is a myth." An examination of "dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles from 1965 to 1979" found that "only seven supported global cooling, while 44 predicted warming."

"The Army has shut down public access to the largest online collection of its doctrinal publications," a site "popular with researchers for its wealth of field and technical manuals and documents on military operations, education, training and technology." Open government advocates call it "unnecessary secrecy by a runaway bureaucracy."

The Pentagon's disbursement of "roughly $1 billion a year for the past six years" to Pakistan is facing allegations of "disputed expenses and suspicions about overbilling." Congress has asked the Bush administration "to provide receipts for every Pakistani expense over $1 million," but has not yet received a response.

And finally: It's no secret that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) enjoys golfing. Harper's, however, reports that in 2007, Boehner "used money from his political funds to pay for food or lodging at least 16 resorts or country clubs. His combined spending between 2005 and 2007 at the Wetherington Golf & Country Club alone came to nearly $60,000," roughly "equivalent to the median family income (for a three-person family) in Boehner's home state of Ohio."


Cheney & DOJ office agree....

From Secrecy News:


The Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility has declined to open an investigation into allegations that Justice Department attorneys improperly refused to respond to the Information Security Oversight Office when it challenged the Office of the Vice President's failure to cooperate with ISOO's oversight of the classification system.

In a January 2, 2008 complaint, the Federation of American Scientists had argued that, under the terms of the President's executive order, the Justice Department was obliged to render an opinion on the executive order's applicability to the Office of the Vice President when ISOO asked for it. Yet Justice attorneys at the Office of Legal Counsel refused to do so. (Secrecy News, Jan. 3).

The Office of Professional Responsibility was not persuaded."We have concluded that the facts do not raise an issue of attorney misconduct that requires an investigation by this office," wrote H.Marshall Jarrett, OPR Counsel. "This matter does not involve an allegation of affirmative malfeasance, but rather, the alleged improper failure to perform an act," he wrote.

Furthermore, the Justice Department's handling of the matter appeared to be consistent with the support of the Vice President's position against oversight that was expressed by the White House counsel, Mr. Jarrett said.

Finally, he suggested, if there are still questions of interpretation of the executive order that remain unresolved, "the ISOO may request an opinion from the Department clarifying the matter."

The Department's prior refusal to render such an opinion was the basis of the original complaint.

See the February 14, 2008 letter from H. Marshall Jarrett, Office ofProfessional Responsibility, Department of Justice, here:

The FAS complaint to which Mr. Jarrett responded may be found here:


Bloggers thwart US Court order...

From The Guardian UK via

Leaked Documents Spring Up Across Web After Court Order

Elana Schor reports for The Guardian UK, "The US court order shutting down the website Wikileaks today appeared to backfire on the Swiss bank that sought the legal action, as bloggers and other fans of the site gave new life to leaked documents the bank was working to suppress."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Upcoming film and books on the way...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Grant Ginder's THIS IS HOW IT STARTS, following one post-collegiate idealist on his quest to fit in with - and then separate himself from - D.C.'s political and social elite, to Colin Fox at Simon & Schuster, by Richard Pine and Libby O'Neill at Inkwell Management (NA).

Peter Neofotis's CONCORD, VIRGINIA, a Southern gothic novella concerning the residents of a fictional town in the Shenandoah Vally and the sometimes dark goings on there, brought to life through the author's downtown New York one-man show, to Michael Flamini at St. Martin's, in a nice deal, by Michael Murphy at Max & Company (world).


Jaye Wells' RED-HEADED STEPCHILD, the story of a half-mage/half-vampire assassin with divided loyalties, to Devi Pillai at Orbit, for three books, for publication in Summer 2009, by Jonathan Lyons at Lyons Literary (world English).


Vince Flynn's next four novels, again to Emily Bestler at Atria, for publication beginning in 2010, by Sloan Harris at ICM (world).Film rights to his eight novels featuring "postmodern franchise action thriller hero" CIA operative Mitch Rapp to CBS Films, with Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Nick Wechsler negotiating to produce, by Ron Bernstein at ICM.


Author of The Book of Air and Shadows, New York Times bestseller Michael Gruber's untitled novel about a kidnapped Jungian psychologist and expert in the Islamic mystical traditions who uses all her therapeutic skills and knowledge to engage her captor while her son, who works for the National Security Agency, tries to rescue her, to Marjorie Braman at William Morrow, by Simon Lipskar at Writers House (NA).

NYT bestselling author Stephen Cannell's AT FIRST SIGHT, to Roger Cooper at Vanguard Press, by Robert Gottlieb at Trident Media Group (NA).

O.J. Simpson's long-time sports agent Michael Gilbert HOW I HELPED O.J. GET AWAY WITH MURDER, promising to "detail O.J.'s late-night confession" and provide "shocking new proof that O.J. Simpson did indeed murder Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman" along with information on Gilbert's crucial role in obtaining the not guilty verdict and why he stayed silent for so long, to Regnery, with a portion of his royalties pledged to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.


One of the first graduates in Andrew Weil's Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona and medical director of Beth Israel Hospital's Continuum Center for Health and Healing, Roberta Lee, M.D.'s book presenting a paradigm-shifting approach to stress and the extensive health problems it can cause, with tools to stop and reverse it, to Caroline Sutton at Random House, in a pre-empt, by Richard Pine at Inkwell Management (NA).


Reporter from Pakistan for Slate, The Washington Post, The New Republic, and elsewhere, Nicholas Schmidle's TO LIVE OR TO PERISH FOREVER, about the last two years in Pakistan, where he was expelled by the Pakistani government after his article Next-Gen Taliban ran in The New York Times Magazine, to David Patterson at Holt, by Rafe Sagalyn of The Sagalyn Agency (world).


Boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya's AMERICAN SON, a "frank and touching" memoir about his pursuit and achievement of the American Dream, to Rene Alegria at Harper Entertainment, in a pre-empt, for publication in May 2008, by Luke Janklow of Janklow & Nesbit (world).


23 feet long and they'll swallow you whole...

From :


Giant pythons are slowly slithering from Florida toward the Bay Area.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Michelle Obama clears things up...

From The New York Times/Caucus:

February 20, 2008, 5:49 pm
More from Michelle Obama on ‘Pride’
By Sarah Wheaton

Michelle Obama sought today to clarify her “pride” in her country after two days of criticism, most notably from her potential Republican counterpart.

In Milwaukee on Monday, the wife of Senator Barack Obama said, “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change.”

Asked today to clarify the remark by a local news station in Rhode Island, which holds its primary during the next round, on March 4, she said, “What I was clearly talking about was that I’m proud in how Americans are engaging in the political process,” according to the Associated Press. “For the first time in my lifetime, I’m seeing people rolling up their sleeves in a way that I haven’t seen and really trying to figure this out — and that’s the source of pride that I was talking about.”She added that she has “absolutely” always felt proud of her country and that she and her husband owed where they are today to America’s possibilities.

Some saw her original comments as ungrateful, and on Tuesday, Cindy McCain, wife of Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, told a Brookfield, Wis., audience, “I’m proud of my country. I don’t know about you – if you heard those words earlier – I’m very proud of my country.’’ It was widely seen as a swipe at Mrs. Obama.


Navy did the job on the satellite....

From Levine Breaking News:


A missile launched from a Navy ship struck a dying U.S. spy satellite passing 130 miles over the Pacific on Wednesday, the Pentagon said. It was not clear whether the operation succeeded in its main goal of destroying a tank aboard the satellite that carried a toxic fuel that U.S. officials said could pose a hazard to humans if it landed in a populated area.

"Confirmation that the fuel tank has been fragmented should be available within 24 hours," the Pentagon said in a written statement.

The USS Lake Erie, armed with an SM-3 missile designed to knock down incoming missiles -- not orbiting satellites -- launched the attack at 10:26 p.m. EST, according to the Pentagon. It hit the satellite as the spacecraft traveled at more than 17,000 mph.

Because the satellite was orbiting at a relatively low altitude at the time it was hit by the missile, debris will begin to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere immediately, the Pentagon statement said.

"Nearly all of the debris will burn up on re-entry within 24-48 hours and the remaining debris should re-enter within 40 days," it reported.


Between Dem Prez and Congress....

From David Sirota via email:

FYI...this article is out in the February edition of In These Times.It looks at which presidential candidate would most empower progressives in Congress. - D

It's Also the Congress, Stupid By David Sirota
In These Times

During one of the mind-numbing arguments between the candidates, Sen.Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was fighting off the claim that his universal healthcare proposal might not cover up to 15 million Americans. As an academic issue, it was an important exchange. But I suddenly realized: In real-world terms, the back-and-forth didn't much matter.

In this epic race for the Democratic nomination, the most minute policy differences are extrapolated into bombastic TV ads, direct mail pieces and debate one-liners. Amid the noise, few remember that what candidates say or propose can bear little resemblance to what ends up happening once they are in the Oval Office.

As proof, look no further than candidate Bill Clinton who said, "I'd be for, but only if it lifted their wage rates and their labor standards and they cleaned up their environment so we could both go up together instead of being dragged down." And yet, he subsequently steamrolled NAFTA through Congress.

Of course, every presidential election is, in that way, a leap of faith. But we can make an educated guess about what the different candidates' relationship to Congress will likely be, and that relationship dictates the possibilities for progress far more than any campaign promises. For example, in 2000 and 2004, a vote for Bush was a vote to centralize more government power in the hands of the White House, and, just as importantly, to create a rubber stamp for an extremist Republican Congress.

With Bush vetoing the fewest bills of any president since the Civil War, movement conservatives were emboldened by the Bush administration to wield as much raw legislative power as the president himself.

For voters trying to distinguish between Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Obama, the question should be who is more apt to empower a Democratic Congress whose seniority and power rests in the hands of committed progressives.

**Seniority and ideology**

A look across the committee structure on Capitol Hill highlights a unique opportunity for exponential change under a Democratic president. In the House, progressives are concentrated in two clusters: New members swept in by the recent wave of anti-Bush sentiment, and senior lawmakers elected in the more progressive, pre-Reagan era.

Liberal Reps. David Obey (D-Wis.) and Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) chair the two most powerful panels in Congress: the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees federal spending, and the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees taxes. Another liberal, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), heads the Education and Workforce Committee that will be charged with reforming No Child Left Behind and strengthening labor laws. And progressive stalwart Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) heads the Judiciary Committee that could reform or scrap the Patriot Act.

In the Senate, the situation is much the same. Though many mid-level members of the Democratic caucus are rooted in the mealy-mouthed politics of mid-'90s Clintonism, progressive backbone is found among freshman populists like Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and, more importantly, among committee chairs like Sens. Barbara Boxer(D-Calif.), Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Pat Leahy (D-Vt.). These three, respectively, run the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee overseeing climate change legislation; the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee involved in most domestic policies; and the Judiciary Committee impacting both civil liberties and nominations to the federal bench.

The less these progressives are inhibited by the executive branch and the threat of presidential vetoes, the more progressive change will come from Washington. In other words, the more Ted Kennedy is allowed to be Ted Kennedy, the better.

**Clinton: "hands-on"**

Clinton has promised to be a "hands-on" president and criticized Obama for being vague about his policy prescriptions, a sure fire sign that her administration would mean heavy executive branch influence over Congress. As political theorist James David Barber might say, Clinton would be an "active" archetype, involved in the most granular details of the legislative process.

In and of itself, this is not a negative. Passing some of American history's most important legislation has required such presidential engagement, from the New Deal program of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the landmark bills of the '60s shepherded through Congress by Lyndon Johnson.

A domineering executive branch under Clinton, however, poses a potential problem, best summed up by one word: triangulation. The first Clinton administration would position itself against Democrats in Congress when it believed doing so was politically opportune. In a Republican Congress, such triangulation meant the Clinton White House worked with the right to pass initiatives like NAFTA and welfare reform, to name just two.

In a Democratic Congress today, triangulation could mean stopping the passage of progressive legislation, with a President Hillary Clinton vetoing bills as a way to burnish her so-called "centrist" credentials. Couple Clintonism's ideological affinity for triangulation with Hillary Clinton's public defense of corporate lobbyists, and the perils come into full relief. It would be no stretch to imagine a Democratic Congress passing some form of single-payer universal healthcare measure, only to have it crushed by a triangulating Clinton veto (or veto threat). The plaudits for such "toughness" would come from both the faux "centrists" in the Washington press corps and the health industry that has given more money to Clinton than to any other candidate.

**Obama: Alinsky and lawmaking**

The Nation's Chris Hayes recently wrote that Obama's overarching diagnosis of what 's wrong with politics is the way it is conducted rather than for whom. Put another way, it's not the what but the how. Fix how politics is waged, build a "working majority," as Obama says, and solutions to big problems will come. This is a theme of famed activist Saul Alinsky, whose community organizations Obama worked with as a young man in Chicago. As Alinsky wrote in Rules for Radicals, the best organizers possess a belief that if people have the power to act in the long run, they will, most of the time, reach the right decisions. A President Obama would probably apply such a principle to Congress.

Thanks to Obama's nonconfrontational message of hope and unity, he would be elected less with a mandate to enact anything specific than a mandate to get things done. almost irrespective of what those things are.

n James David Barber's terms, Obama would be a more "passive" president, like the one he credited with political acumen: Ronald Reagan. The Gipper spent his political capital outlining overarching themes, and he avoided Capitol Hill brawls. A Democrat in that Reagan mold working with an assertive Democratic Congress clearly has more potential upsides than downsides.

Certainly, Obama has, on occasion, rhetorically triangulated against fellow Democrats. He once appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" to publicly lambaste proposals to withdraw troops from Iraq. However, his concrete legislative actions (votes, bill sponsorships, etc.) have been solidly progressive, suggesting his general aversion to conflict-charged vetoes would be most pronounced when dealing with progressive legislation. To again cite the healthcare hypothetical, it is easy to imagine a President Obama calling for universal healthcare with certain broad parameters, letting Democratic congressional leaders wage the trench warfare needed to pass it, and then signing a final bill, even if it ended up being more progressive than what he had in mind.

Admittedly, predicting future presidential behavior is all conjecture, and the known qualities of the candidates could produce far different results. Clinton's hands on style could result in a string of legislative victories for progressives that would have been impossible without that leadership style. Likewise, Obama's potential aversion to the veto pen might halt him from obstructing progressive bills, but it may also prevent him from stopping conservative ones that should be blocked. Though the media's obsessive focus on presidential politics may lead us to believe the White House is all-powerful, Congress has been central to most of history's great reforms. That means this race is not just about which candidate appears more progressive, but also about which candidate will allow progressives in Congress to be strongest.


From Pervez to Colbert's down on April Fool's Day!

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Despite the defeat of President Pervez Musharraf's party in the Pakistani parliamentary elections, the Bush administration is still trying to "construct a coalition that will keep Mr. Musharraf in power as president." Officials admit that Musharraf "remains the administration's preferred Pakistani leader."

"The Federal Emergency Management Agency misspent millions of dollars it received from selling used travel trailers," according to a draft report by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security. "Instead of buying more trailers," FEMA paid for "sport utility vehicles, travel expenses and purchase card accounts."

Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has threatened to lift a six-month cease-fire widely credited with helping reduce violence in Iraq. The cease fire was declared in August and is due to expire at this month's end.

Oil closed "above $100 a barrel Tuesday for the first time in history -- a surprise price surge that leaves experts and motorists wondering if there's no limit." U.S. gas prices could average "$3.75 a gallon by Memorial Day -- more than 50 cents higher than the record $3.227 set on May 24."

In "a radical change to its financial aid program," Stanford University will announce today that it will no longer charge tuition to students whose families earn less than $100,000 a year.

Yesterday, about 1,000 students from Prairie View A&M University in Texas marched more than seven miles from campus to the Waller County courthouse on the first day of early voting to bring attention to county voting problems. "The students organized the Tuesday rally to convince lawmakers to allow early voting on campus, since other county voting centers are long distances away from the Prairie View."

Brent Wilkes, "a California defense contractor and prominent GOP campaign contributor," was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison yesterday for lavishing former Rep. Duke Cunningham (D-CA) with money and other bribes "in exchange for nearly $90 million in work from the Pentagon."

And finally: Stephen Colbert's "portrait" has been hanging over the restrooms in the National Portrait Gallery for more than a month now. Some of the feedback: "He's an amazing person." "Colbert is essential to our existence." The Gallery has decided to extend the display life of Colbert's portrait until April Fool's Day.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Soldier: It's time to bring us home...

From Information Clearing House:

Fort Hood soliders breaking the silence in war in Iraq:

"The honest truth is that if the American people knew what was going on over there everyday, they would be raising their voices too. They would be saying, 'Hey, bring those guys home," Sgt. Selena Coppa said.

[Use link above to continue reading]


From Castro quits to Costly Clemmons' autograph in DC

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Due to "ailing" health, Cuban President Fidel Castro is stepping down, "ending one of the longest tenures as one of the most all-powerful communist heads of state in the world." "The United States will help the people of Cuba realize the blessings of liberty," President Bush said in response.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has scheduled pro forma sessions for Tuesday and Thursday "so that Bush cannot call Congress back into special session to take up the now-expired Protect America Act." The Senate will take similar action.

Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano penned an op-ed in yesterday's Los Angeles Times arguing that the Protect America Act is unconstitutional. "The government should be required, as it was until FISA, to obtain a 4th Amendment warrant to conduct surveillance of anyone, American or not, in the U.S. or not," he wrote.

A McClatchy analysis finds that "jobless Americans are spending more time looking for work and that those who can't find work now make up a greater share of the unemployed." As of January, "almost one in five unemployed workers" had been jobless for six months or more.

Next week, the Senate is planning to vote on a cloture motion on Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-WI) bill "to set a timeline for withdrawing combat troops." They are also planning to take up a second Feingold bill, "which would require the Bush administration to develop strategies to limit repeated deployments of troops and defeat al-Qaida."

Nine of 10 current and former military officers say the war had stretched the military "dangerously thin," according to a survey conducted by Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for a New American Security. Sixty percent of the 3,400 officers said the military is weaker today than five years ago.

Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr "is expected to announce his decision in the next few days about whether to maintain the ceasefire he ordered six months ago. There has been pressure from the rank-and-file members of his militia to call off the truce."

And finally: Last week, "scores of Hill staffers" -- and a couple of senators -- snagged "all-star baseball pitcher Roger Clemens' coveted John Hancock last week." Yet none of these staffers or lawmakers is now confessing to receiving an autograph after reports that it may "be a violation of the Senate and House rules that ban gifts worth more than $50." A Clemens signature reportedly goes for about $75, and "a signed baseball can garner upwards of $450."


Friday, February 15, 2008

Ken Kuhlken writes great mystery books....

A few sentences from Ken Kuhlken's blog:

I sent a manuscript to a Christian agent, and got the following reply. “I’d be happy to represent you and I would try to sell this book, but I don’t think I can. It’s too Christian for the secular market and has too much sex for the Christian market.”

I said, “Huh? There’s no sex in it.”

He said, “The character thinks about sex.”

I said, “But what he thinks isn’t very graphic, and besides, Christians I know think about sex a lot.”

He said, “Not in Christian books, they don’t.”

His blog:

His website:


Repub endorses Obama...

From AP via

Former GOP Senator Endorses Obama

Michelle R. Smith reports for The Associated Press: "Former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee endorsed Democratic Sen. Barack Obama on Thursday, saying he is the best presidential candidate to restore the nation's credibility."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Bush wants Supreme Court to review...

From The NY Times via

Bush Appeals to Justices to Limit Disclosure of Detainee Data

Linda Greenhouse, of The New York Times, reports: "The Bush administration asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to review an appeals court decision that it said had created a 'serious threat to national security' by requiring the government to supply extensive evidence supporting the classification of more than 180 Guantanamo detainees as enemy combatants."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Lynn Cheney lays down the law....

From Facing South:

Bills target "left-wing indoctrination" at Southern universities

Today's issue of Stateside Dispatch, a publication of the Progressive States Network, takes a critical look at conservative efforts to squelch dissent on college campuses. In the right's latest attempt to discourage viewpoints it deems politically unpalatable, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni -- an organization founded in 1995 by Dick Cheney's wife, Lynne -- is promoting what it calls "Intellectual Diversity" legislation.

Based on the concern that academics are overwhelmingly left-leaning, the legislation mandates that professors remain ideologically neutral in the classroom and creates state councils to monitor views being presented.

According to PSN, such bills have been introduced this year in 10 states, with half of those in the South: Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, West Virginia and Louisiana. The version introduced in Virginia -- which was scaled back somewhat from the model legislation and passed the state House unanimously -- requires schools to report to the state council on higher education and the legislature on efforts to promote the free exchange of ideas.

Interestingly, at least one state that's looked into whether there are problems with the free exchange of ideas in the academy due to left-wing bias have found none. Several years ago, Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled state House created a special legislative committee to investigate whether students who hold unpopular views need protection. In November 2006, the committee issued a report that said it found no evidence of widespread problems.

The "Intellectual Diversity" legislation is based on the controversial ideas of left-wing radical-turned-right-wing radical David Horowitz, author of The Professors: The 100 Most Dangerous Academics in America, which targets professors from Southern schools including Baylor, Duke, Emory, North Carolina State, Texas A&M, University of Kentucky, University of South Florida, and the University of Texas. One of the academics Horowitz has singled out, UT-Austin Communication Studies Professor Dana Cloud, has written of the hate mail, physical threats and other harassment she's experienced as a result of being targeted by Horowitz, whose tactics she's likened to McCarthyism. She also reports how students in the Horowitz-founded Students for Academic Freedom keep a watch list and encourage the reporting of professors who exhibit "bias":

... which could mean anything from telling a Bush joke to encouraging students to think critically about gender; but NEVER means talking about capitalism in the business school or celebrating corporate culture in the advertising department ...


Establishment wants a Prez Bloomberg...


The Permanent Will
By David Sirota
February 15th, 2008 - 9:09am ET

Our media love to tell us just how much Americans are pining for an independent presidential candidacy, and specifically, just how much potential support there is for a Mike Bloomberg for President campaign. But as I show in my new nationally syndicated newspaper column out today, both assertions are fiction. That begs a simple question - one that ties into my upcoming book: Why is the Establishment so adamant about jamming a candidacy down our throat that we so clearly do not want? Why is the political elite so insistent on crushing what has become a full-fledged uprising in 2008?

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that Bloomberg is extremely unpopular on the national stage. Gallup reports that "the American public does not appear to believe it is important or necessary for an independent candidate outside of the traditional two major parties to step into the race in order to save the nation." And America clearly isn't interested in an independent candidacy who, as Glenn Greenwald notes, holds extremist views on major issues like Iraq (sidenote: As part of my ongoing efforts to use the column to promote fellow progressives, Glenn is featured in the column).

And yet the Bloomberg bandwagon in the media continues to grow ever larger. Barely a day goes by without some fawning story speculating about Bloomberg's potential run for president - implying that he has some sort of huge mass constituency and political monopoly on so-called "competence" and "bipartisanship."

The disconnect between what Americans actually want and what the Establishment wants America to want reflects just how petrified the elite are right now. They look at both parties' potential nominees and realize that they each potentially represent some form of fundamental change - and that scares them. And so they are desperate for someone - anyone! - to suppress what Alexander Hamilton called the "popular passions" and champion the status quo's "permanent will."

To be sure, Bloomberg's egomania is driving him ever closer to jumping into the race. The Associated Press reports this week on his potential plans to get on 15 state ballots in the coming weeks. But as the media speculation around this billionaire increases, remember that the most important dynamic at play here is not the machinations of one prima donna, but the desperation of the Establishment. It is a powerful force.

[Use link above to continue reading]


Kristol: War in Iraq will be good....


Jonathan Schwarz
The Lost Kristol Tapes: What the New York Times Bought

Political commentator Jonathan Schwarz, talking about William Kristol, says: "You loved it when Bill said invading Iraq was going to have 'terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East'? You have the original recording of him explaining the war would make us 'respected around the world' and his classic statement that there's 'almost no evidence' of Iraq experiencing Sunni-Shia conflict? Well, I've got something that will blow your mind!"

[Use link above to continue reading]


Thursday, February 14, 2008

From The Washington Post via :

Eliot Spitzer Predatory Lenders' Partner in Crime

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, writing in The Washington Post, says: "Even though predatory lending was becoming a national problem, the Bush administration looked the other way and did nothing to protect American homeowners.

In fact, the government chose instead to align itself with the banks that were victimizing consumers."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Blackwater to Eli Manning...books on the way....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Tanya Egan Gibson's A BOOK FOR CARLEY, pitched as sharing the playful wit and precocity of SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS, the story of a young girl living in the insular community of Long Island's North Shore, as she struggles between her unrequited love for her best friend and burgeoning young alcoholic and her parents' decision to buy her A Love of Reading by commissioning a desperate novelist to write a book especially for Carley's 16th birthday, to Trena Keating at Dutton, by Susan Golomb at the Susan Golomb Agency (NA).

Michener graduate Brendan Short's DREAM CITY, set in Depression-era Chicago, about a young boy's obsession with comic book heroes and his life long attempt to both recapture and escape his childhood, to Kate Nitze at MacAdam/Cage, by Kim Witherspoon at Inkwell Management (NA).


Robert V S Redick's debut trilogy, chronicling the last voyage of a ship on its way to make peace with a foreign empire, and the conspiracy discovered aboard, starting with THE RED WOLF CONSPIRACY, to Betsy Mitchell at Del Rey, at auction, in a three-book deal, by Gollancz/Orion.


Pierre Davis's SIRIUS RISING, following a Gulf War veteran and former city cop employed as the lone detective in the public safety department at a massive medical campus, in his search for a missing dog that's no ordinary lab animal, landing him at the heart of a corrupt and ambitious scheme that literally circles the globe, to Kate Miciak at Bantam Dell, by Richard Pine at Inkwell Management (NA).

Simon Lewis's BAD TRAFFIC, dubbed "an eastern Western," featuring a Chinese cop who arrives on English shores searching for his daughter -- without knowing a word of the language -- and who winds up completely dependent on a Chinese migrant worker to help him bring down a ruthless smuggling ring, to Anna deVries at Scribner, in a two-book deal, by George Lucas at Inkwell Management on behalf of Sort Of Books (NA).


Singer/songwriter and #1 NYT bestselling author Jimmy Buffett's SWINE NOT?, a colorful novel about a Southern family determined to hide their pet pig in a four-star hotel in New York City while a meat-loving chef is sharpening his carving knife downstairs, with illustrations by Helen Bransford, to Michael Pietsch at Little, Brown, by Amy Rennert at the Amy Rennert Agency.

David Allan Cates's FREEMAN WALKER, pitched as calling to mind Gould's Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan; the story of one man with an indomitable spirit, spanning the Civil War and the exploration of America's West, using the lens of one life to examine the lines between us, between us and nature, between civilization and barbarity, and the way it feels to dare to live beyond lines, to Greg Michalson at Unbridled Books, for publication in Fall 2008, by Emilie Stewart at Emilie Stewart Literary Agency (NA).


Reclusive CEO of Blackwater Worldwide Erik Prince's WE ARE BLACKWATER, an insider's account of the controversial company that has supplied bodyguards and support-and-rescue personnel to hot spots around the world, including the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, promising to "refute criticisms of the company, and take the reader on thrilling missions into hostile territory," to Regnery.


Physicians Stephanie McClellan, M.D. and Beth Hamilton, M.D.'s SO STRESSED, with Diane Reverand, revealing the science behind stress's effects on women's health, the problems stress causes in every system, and their tested, breakthrough methods for stress relief, to Leslie Meredith at Free Press, in a pre-empt, by David Vigliano and Kirsten Neuhaus at Vigliano Associates (world).

[Note: Vigliano is a good agent.]


Pulitzer winner for Washington's Crossing, David Hackett Fischer's CHAMPLAIN'S DREAM, about Samuel de Champlain's exploration and settlement of Quebec, to Bob Bender at Simon & Schuster, at auction, for publication in October 2008, by Scott Moyers at The Wylie Agency (US).Knopf Canada also has rights.


Writer Elvis Mitchell and photographer Timothy Greenfield Sanders's THE BLACK LIST, a book of portraits and interviews, in which twenty-five prominent African Americans of various professions, disciplines and backgrounds, including Toni Morrison, Chris Rock, Slash and Zane, offer their own stories and insights on the struggles, triumphs and joys of black life in this country and manage to re-define "blacklist" for a new century, to be released with the film from HBO in fall 2008, to Peter Borland at Atria, at auction, by Scott Waxman at Waxman Literary Agency.


Columbia-Presbyterian anesthesiologist and The Underwear Drawer blogger Michelle Au's SCUTMONKEY, a meditation on life as a medical resident, wife and mother, to Emily Griffin at Grand Central, by Sharon Bowers at The Miller Agency (World).


New York Daily News reporter Ralph Vacchiano's THE MAKING OF A QUARTERBACK: The Turbulent Triumph of Eli Manning and the New York Giants, to Mark Weinstein at Skyhorse, for publication in Fall 2008, by Shari Wenk at SLW Literary Agency.


Counting California's ballots...and counting and counting...

From the Sacramento Bee via email:

1 million votes still untallied in California
By Dorothy Korber -
Last Updated 6:07 am PST Thursday, February 14, 2008
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A22

Leticia Valdez, 19, processes mailed-in ballots for counting Wednesday at the Sacramento County elections office. One of 100 temporary workers brought in for the count, Valdez said she was surprised at how rigorous the process is. "I didn't know there were so many steps," she said. "I figured we marked a ballot, it went through a machine, and that was it."

Super Tuesday seems long gone as the nation turns its hungry eyes to the next round of presidential primaries – but for nearly a million Californians, the votes they cast in the presidential primary are yet to be counted.

This mountain of absentee and provisional ballots – 960,000 of them by one estimate – equals the total number of Democratic votes cast in Virginia this week and far exceeds Maryland and the District of Columbia.

"In California, we're sitting on almost a million votes still to be tallied – and meanwhile the pundits are going on and on about states that don't have a million votes, total," said Steve Weir, who keeps a running tally of "unprocessed ballots" in his role as president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials.

California's slow count is the product of a couple of factors: the state's growing love affair with absentee ballots paired with a high-voltage primary that drew inexperienced voters who were enthusiastic but sometimes careless.

In Sacramento County, 90,000 ballots remain unprocessed, while 277,000 had been counted as of Wednesday afternoon.

Los Angeles County has 200,000 unprocessed ballots – and that's not counting the 50,000 presidential votes it discarded because a quarter of the decline-to-state voters improperly marked the county's ballots.

Statewide, Weir said, most of the uncounted votes – about 600,000 – are absentee ballots turned in on election day. Still to be vetted, he reckons, are 400,000 provisional ballots, which typically are valid about 85 percent of the time.

He estimates 10,000 more uncounted ballots are damaged: shredded in the mail, mutilated in vote-counting machines, or gummed up by sloppy voters who dribbled coffee or ketchup on their absentee ballots. Election workers must pry them open, try to figure out the voter's intention, and then create a fresh ballot to feed into the machine.

No matter the obstacle, they're looking at a deadline of March 4 to have the results of the more than 7.1 million ballots cast in the state's presidential primary to California's secretary of state.
A question almost as big as the pile of ballots is what difference they might make in the national presidential race.

"It's not over till all the votes are counted," said Robert Stern, head of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies based in Los Angeles. "To have a million votes not counted a week after the election is extraordinary, especially in an election when people wanted so much for their vote to count."

Stern has been keeping a sharp eye on the evolving situation in California. In the great hunt for Democratic Party delegates, he figures, all those uncounted California ballots probably will translate into a mere handful of the state's 370 delegates that are pledged to primary results – seven at most, in districts that were close to begin with (none of them in the Sacramento region).

But, with Hillary Rodham Clinton (who garnered 2.3 million votes in California) and Barack Obama (with 1.9 million votes) still battling for their party's nomination, every delegate is hard-fought. On Wednesday, the Associated Press calculated that Obama's delegate total stands at 1,275 to Clinton's 1,220.

Stern believes the uncounted votes won't change results for state propositions. Nor will they affect Republican primary results in California, since Mitt Romney's decision to drop out made John McCain the clear winner.

The national political scene is fluid and exciting, but down in the trenches, California election workers are slogging through a herculean task.
At Sacramento County election headquarters Wednesday, dozens of workers diligently dealt with the details: checking and double-checking signatures on absentee envelopes, validating write-in candidates (few were valid), deciphering mutilated ballots and carefully substituting clean ones.

Every ballot sent to a precinct must be accounted for. Even the empty absentee ballot envelopes – more than 80,000 of them – are documented, filed and saved for at least 22 months.

Nineteen-year-old Leticia Valdez sat at a big table, patiently checking mailed-in ballots to make sure precinct numbers were recorded correctly. She sorted out damaged ballots, including those with stray pen marks. She put write-ins in a separate pile, to be checked by teams of other workers.

Valdez, one of 100 temporary workers brought in for the count, said she was surprised to learn how rigorous this process is.

"I didn't know there were so many steps," she said. "I figured we marked a ballot, it went through a machine, and that was it."


Clinton...losing to Obama...

From AP via Political Wire:

The Associated Press reports that "top Democrats, including some inside Hillary Clinton's campaign, say many party leaders -- the so-called superdelegates -- won't hesitate to ditch the former New York senator for Barack Obama if her political problems persist. Their loyalty to the first couple is built on shaky ground."

"The fear inside the Clinton camp is that Obama will win Hawaii and Wisconsin next week and head into the March 4 contests for Ohio and Texas with a 10-race winning streak. Her poll numbers will drop in Texas and Ohio, Clinton aides fear, and party leaders will start hankering for an end to the fight."

Possible last ditch strategy: "Two senior Clinton advisers, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the race candidly, said the campaign feels the New York senator needs to quickly change the dynamic by forcing Obama into a poor debate performance, going negative or encouraging the media to attack Obama.

They're grasping at straws, but the advisers said they can't see any other way that her campaign will be sustainable after losing 10 in a row."


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

So now produce a fair trial....

From The Washington Post via

Rules for Lawyers of Detainees Are Called Onerous

Josh White, Walter Pincus and Julie Tate report for The Washington Post:

"The cadre of civilian lawyers representing terrorism suspects held by the military at Guantanamo Bay are not allowed to meet their clients in private, without video surveillance.

All their mail and notes must be turned over to the military.

Classified information cannot be shared with their clients.

They are not entitled to everything the government knows about their clients."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Don't mess up your website....

From Jim Hance Graphic Communications:

By Jim Hance, Graphic Designer

Choosing a color is one of the first things I consider when designing a logo, or any kind of graphic communication. The psychological effect colors have on people has been studied and documented, and it has been found that people commonly respond to colors in certain ways.

With thousands of color tints and hues to choose from, the
"exceptions to the rule" dominate. But just for fun, here are the primary colors and what authorities say they mean to people.

Yellow. Bright yellow produces feelings of warmth, energy, light, and the sun. The eye is drawn to yellow first. It is lively, cheery, and stimulating. It increases energy.

Red. Bright red is hot, passionate, bold and begs for attention. It has been shown to boost the body's metabolism and raise blood pressure. Red is empowering, motivating, energetic and dramatic. It's also best as an accent color as too much of it can be agitating.

Blue. Blue is viewed as calming, strong, intelligent, and relaxing in most cultures throughout the world. It produces feelings of tranquility and peacefulness. It is thought to connotate trust, and is regarded as therapeutic.

Violet (Purple). Purple is thought of as mysterious, royal, individual, sexy and sophisticated. It is comforting. Purple is often a favorite of artists and people considered to be less conventional. On the down side, it is the color of mourning in six Asian countries and isn't recommended in large doses for that market.

Orange. Orange is a combination of sunny yellow and bold red. It cheers and commands. It's a color enjoyed by the young and is commonly used to show affordability to the consumer. It is enthusiastic, good natured and joyous. It has been shown to stimulate the appetite.

Green. Green can be both fresh and clean or it can represent nature, environment and ecology. Green balances, refreshes and normalizes. It is one of the colors favored by the trend-setter market. Yellow-green is favored by youth but not adults.

Note: Jim Hance is one of San Diego's best graphic designers. To see his website, go to:


That is a war crime says DOD...

From Secrecy News:


The Department of Defense has released the final version of its controversial doctrine on "detainee operations," which defines the class of unlawful enemy combatants and prescribes their treatment."

US forces must be prepared to properly control, maintain, protect, and account for all categories of detainees in accordance with applicable domestic law, international law, and policy," the new publication explains.

Among the categories of detainees are those designated as "unlawful enemy combatants" who, the DoD states, do not enjoy the ordinary protections of lawful combatants. "Unlawful ECs are persons not entitled to combatant immunity, who engage in acts against the United States or its coalition partners in violation of the laws and customs of war during an armed conflict or who support such acts.

For purposes of the war on terrorism, the term unlawful EC is defined to include, but is not limited to, an individual who is or was part of or supporting Taliban or al Qaeda forces or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners. "At the same time, however, even unlawful enemy combatants must be treated humanely, the document says, and to do otherwise is a war crime."

Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, as construed and applied by US law, establishes minimum standards for the humane treatment of all persons detained by the United States and coalition and allied forces. It is a war crime to undercut or violate these standards.

Common Article 3 prohibits at any time and in any place: 'violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; taking of hostages; outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples'."

See "Detainee Operations," Joint Publication JP 3-63, February 6, 2008:


No justice here....

From The New York Times via

The New York Times
Unnecessary Harm

The New York Times's editorial team comments: "The Bush administration's decision to put six detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on trial before military tribunals and to seek the death penalty is both a betrayal of American ideals and simply bad strategy.

Instead of being what they could and should be - a model of justice dispensed impartially, surely and dispassionately - the trials will proceed under deeply flawed procedures that violate this country's basic fairness. The intense negative attention they will receive will do enormous damage to what is left of America's standing in world opinion."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Obama: Angry about NAFTA .....

From David Sirota via email:

Smart Move: Obama Goes Populist In the Home Stretch
By David Sirota
Credo Action, 2/13/08

In my nationally syndicated newspaper column last week entitled "TheDemocrats' Class War," I outlined some of the difficult terrain Barack Obama has in trying to both court working-class voters and avoid the media's racist characterization of power-challenging African-American leaders as race-centric radicals. This is a very,very difficult thing to do, and I sympathize with Obama in moving carefully up to this point.

But with the next round of states over representing for the constituencies Obama has done most poorly among - working-classwhites and Latinos - he knows he has to try to thread the needle. He has to try to offer up more full-throated, class-based populism. And indeed, that's what he's doing.

In his victory speech last night, Obama hammered the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), previewing a major economic speech today. Here are some excerpts of that speech:

"It's a Washington where decades of trade deals like NAFTA and China have been signed with plenty of protections for corporations and their profits, but none for our environment or our workers who've seen factories shut their doors and millions of jobs disappear; workers whose right to organize and unionize has been under assault for the last eight years...So today, I'm laying out a comprehensive agenda to reclaim our dream and restore our prosperity. It's an agenda that focuses on three broad economic challenges that the next President must address - the current housing crisis; the cost crisis facing the middle-class and those struggling to join it; and the need to create millions of good jobs right here in America- jobs that can't be outsourced and won't disappear. For our economy, our safety, and our workers, we have to rebuild America.

I'm proposing a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank that will invest $60 billion over ten years. This investment will multiply into almost half a trillion dollars of additional infrastructure spending and generate nearly two million new jobs -many of them in the construction industry that's been hard hit by this housing crisis. The repairs will be determined not by politics, but by what will maximize our safety and homeland security; what will keep our environment clean and our economy strong. And we'll fund this bank by ending this war in Iraq.

It's time to stop spending billions of dollars a week trying to put Iraq back together and start spending the money on putting America back together instead...It's also time to look to the future and figure out how to make trade work for American workers. I won't stand here and tell you that we can- or should - stop free trade. We can't stop every job from going overseas. But I also won't stand here and accept an America where we do nothing to help American workers who have lost jobs and opportunities because of these trade agreements. And that's a position of mine that doesn't change based on who I'm talking to or the election I'm running in.

You know, in the years after her husband signed NAFTA, Senator Clinton would go around talking about how great it was and how many benefits it would bring. Now that she's running for President, she says we need a time-out on trade. No one knows when this time-out will end. Maybe after the election. I don't know about a time-out, but I do know this - when I am President, I will not sign another trade agreement unless it has protections for our environment and protections for American workers. And I'll pass the Patriot Employer Act that I've been fighting forever since I ran for the Senate - we will end the tax breaks for companies who ship our jobs overseas, and we will give those breaks to companies who create good jobs with decent wages right here in America."

This is really terrific stuff, and I say that as someone who has been critical of Obama in the past for his timidity on issues like trade -issues that make the Establishment particularly uncomfortable. Politically, the benefits to Obama of voicing a populist message on trade are obvious. Recent polls in the Wall Street Journal and Fortune Magazine show that Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to America's current lobbyist-written trade policy. While this trade policy may be popular on K Street, it ain't popular on Main Street.

And as it relates to Obama's message of reconfiguring the political map and attracting Republican voters, a populist line on trade is perhaps the single most powerful tool to do just that. A post-2006 election poll for the Democracy Corps and Campaign for America's Future showed that among Republican voters who considered voting Democratic that year, the GOP's support for unfair trade deals was the top reason they considered switching. While Clinton is now on record saying many "red states" Obama won are unimportant because they supposedly can't be won by a Democrat on election day, these numbers suggest a populist message on trade against a "free" trader like John McCain (R) could profoundly change the map.

Substantively, though Obama certainly hasn't been as aggressive as many would like on trade, it's fair to say he understands the real-world impact of this issue. This is a person who represents Illinois and who talks about working in the shadows of shuttered steel mills.

With the departure of John Edwards, Obama is a candidate whose top economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, is the only remaining top presidential economic guru who acknowledges that our current trade deals are horrifying - rather than wonderful. And though we've seen people like Bill Clinton promise as candidates to get tough on trade and then as president do exactly the opposite, this is a different candidate in a different era - with a much more angry public.

Sure, there's some opportunism here. Obama is likely trying to walk down the path John Edwards first courageously blazed in this race. He is looking out at the next cluster of primary states and knows that these are the ones that have been hit hard by NAFTA and other rigged trade deals. He looks at Ohio and sees Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) - a man who was elected in 2006 based largely on his opposition to our current trade policy. He also sees the New York Times report that former President Bill Clinton is going to be campaigning in Ohio - and knows that the best way to make that boomerang against his opponent is to remind Ohio voters that it was Bill and Hillary Clinton who jammed NAFTA down the Buckeye State's throat.

But opportunism isn't bad. If Obama sees his opportunity in voicing a progressive, populist message on trade, then that's a good thing. That means that we have a leading presidential candidate who sees being a populist and a progressive as a major opportunity. For the progressive movement, that's what success looks like. Obama is sure to be berated by national pundits for going populist -it's precisely the kind of message that drives well-heeled Establishment propagandists across the partisan spectrum crazy.

From Joe Klein to David Broder to David Brooks, questioning the economic elite is seen as the ultimate blasphemy. As Sherrod Brown told the Nation this week, when he ran in 2006, "I got one newspaper endorsement in the state of the big nine papers." Most opposed him because he dared to challenge the economic orthodoxy that says we must have trade deals that encourage corporations to eliminate jobs, destroy the environment and exploit workers, while legislating protectionism for patents, intellectual property, copyrights and other corporate profit shields. But Brown didn't cater to elite opinion - he was talking directly to voters. If Obama can withstand the inevitable onslaught of scorn from the Punditburo, his new populism may deliver him the presidency.