Wednesday, October 25, 2006


You know why republicans claim that the economy is gang-busters these days? Because if you make $250,000+ a year, it is. When a company posts it's fiscal profits for a year or quarter the indication that employee wage costs have gone down causes their stocks to go up. Swear to dog. And now, ask yourself why the minimum wage hasn't been raised in almost a decade. Feed the rich, who feed politicians, who feed the rich. The middle- and lower-classes bear the burden.

The estate tax (also called the "death tax" and "Paris Hilton tax") that the republicans did away with? It affected less than one-tenth of one percent of all Americans, and only taxed inheritance AFTER the amount of $8 million. How many people would that really have pissed off? Less than one-thenth of one percent.

So make no mistake about whose interests these braying dickfaces have in mind. Remember the phrase "public campaign financing." It may be a panacea.

Today's Phillip non sequitur: when you get a phone call and an automated voice tells you, "please hold for a very important message," the message is never important, nor should you hold. I need to pursue a career writing sooths for cookies. Then I'd get all the chicks.

Currently Listening to:
The Kooks

Inside In/Inside Out

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Beginning of the end of America

Beginning of the end of America
by Keith Olbermann

We have lived as if in a trance.

We have lived as people in fear.

And now—our rights and our freedoms in peril—we slowly awaken to learn that we have been afraid of the wrong thing.

Therefore, tonight have we truly become the inheritors of our American legacy.

For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:

A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

We have been here before—and we have been here before, led here by men better and wiser and nobler than George W. Bush.

We have been here when President John Adams insisted that the Alien and Sedition Acts were necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use those acts to jail newspaper editors.

American newspaper editors, in American jails, for things they wrote about America.

We have been here when President Woodrow Wilson insisted that the Espionage Act was necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use that Act to prosecute 2,000 Americans, especially those he disparaged as “Hyphenated Americans,” most of whom were guilty only of advocating peace in a time of war.

American public speakers, in American jails, for things they said about America.

And we have been here when President Franklin D. Roosevelt insisted that Executive Order 9066 was necessary to save American lives, only to watch him use that order to imprison and pauperize 110,000 Americans while his man in charge, General DeWitt, told Congress: “It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen—he is still a Japanese.”

American citizens, in American camps, for something they neither wrote nor said nor did, but for the choices they or their ancestors had made about coming to America.

Each of these actions was undertaken for the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And each was a betrayal of that for which the president who advocated them claimed to be fighting.

Adams and his party were swept from office, and the Alien and Sedition Acts erased.

Many of the very people Wilson silenced survived him, and one of them even ran to succeed him, and got 900,000 votes, though his presidential campaign was conducted entirely from his jail cell.

And Roosevelt’s internment of the Japanese was not merely the worst blight on his record, but it would necessitate a formal apology from the government of the United States to the citizens of the United States whose lives it ruined.

The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

In times of fright, we have been only human.

We have let Roosevelt’s “fear of fear itself” overtake us.

We have listened to the little voice inside that has said, “the wolf is at the door; this will be temporary; this will be precise; this too shall pass.”

We have accepted that the only way to stop the terrorists is to let the government become just a little bit like the terrorists.

Just the way we once accepted that the only way to stop the Soviets was to let the government become just a little bit like the Soviets.

Or substitute the Japanese.

Or the Germans.

Or the Socialists.

Or the Anarchists.

Or the Immigrants.

Or the British.

Or the Aliens.

The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And, always, always wrong.

“With the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?”

Wise words.

And ironic ones, Mr. Bush.

Your own, of course, yesterday, in signing the Military Commissions Act.

You spoke so much more than you know, Sir.

Sadly—of course—the distance of history will recognize that the threat this generation of Americans needed to take seriously was you.

We have a long and painful history of ignoring the prophecy attributed to Benjamin Franklin that “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

But even within this history we have not before codified the poisoning of habeas corpus, that wellspring of protection from which all essential liberties flow.

You, sir, have now befouled that spring.

You, sir, have now given us chaos and called it order.

You, sir, have now imposed subjugation and called it freedom.

For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And — again, Mr. Bush — all of them, wrong.

We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who has said it is unacceptable to compare anything this country has ever done to anything the terrorists have ever done.

We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who has insisted again that “the United States does not torture. It’s against our laws and it’s against our values” and who has said it with a straight face while the pictures from Abu Ghraib Prison and the stories of Waterboarding figuratively fade in and out, around him.

We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who may now, if he so decides, declare not merely any non-American citizens “unlawful enemy combatants” and ship them somewhere—anywhere -- but may now, if he so decides, declare you an “unlawful enemy combatant” and ship you somewhere - anywhere.

And if you think this hyperbole or hysteria, ask the newspaper editors when John Adams was president or the pacifists when Woodrow Wilson was president or the Japanese at Manzanar when Franklin Roosevelt was president.

And if you somehow think habeas corpus has not been suspended for American citizens but only for everybody else, ask yourself this: If you are pulled off the street tomorrow, and they call you an alien or an undocumented immigrant or an “unlawful enemy combatant”—exactly how are you going to convince them to give you a court hearing to prove you are not? Do you think this attorney general is going to help you?

This President now has his blank check.

He lied to get it.

He lied as he received it.

Is there any reason to even hope he has not lied about how he intends to use it nor who he intends to use it against?

“These military commissions will provide a fair trial,” you told us yesterday, Mr. Bush, “in which the accused are presumed innocent, have access to an attorney and can hear all the evidence against them.”

"Presumed innocent," Mr. Bush?

The very piece of paper you signed as you said that, allows for the detainees to be abused up to the point just before they sustain “serious mental and physical trauma” in the hope of getting them to incriminate themselves, and may no longer even invoke The Geneva Conventions in their own defense.

"Access to an attorney," Mr. Bush?

Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift said on this program, Sir, and to the Supreme Court, that he was only granted access to his detainee defendant on the promise that the detainee would plead guilty.

"Hearing all the evidence," Mr. Bush?

The Military Commissions Act specifically permits the introduction of classified evidence not made available to the defense.

Your words are lies, Sir.

They are lies that imperil us all.

“One of the terrorists believed to have planned the 9/11 attacks,” you told us yesterday, “said he hoped the attacks would be the beginning of the end of America.”

That terrorist, sir, could only hope.

Not his actions, nor the actions of a ceaseless line of terrorists (real or imagined), could measure up to what you have wrought.

Habeas corpus? Gone.

The Geneva Conventions? Optional.

The moral force we shined outwards to the world as an eternal beacon, and inwards at ourselves as an eternal protection? Snuffed out.

These things you have done, Mr. Bush, they would be “the beginning of the end of America.”

And did it even occur to you once, sir — somewhere in amidst those eight separate, gruesome, intentional, terroristic invocations of the horrors of 9/11 -- that with only a little further shift in this world we now know—just a touch more repudiation of all of that for which our patriots died --- did it ever occur to you once that in just 27 months and two days from now when you leave office, some irresponsible future president and a “competent tribunal” of lackeys would be entitled, by the actions of your own hand, to declare the status of “unlawful enemy combatant” for -- and convene a Military Commission to try -- not John Walker Lindh, but George Walker Bush?

For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And doubtless, Sir, all of them—as always—wrong.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Olbermann Commentary

From now on I'm going to start posting Keith Olbermann's special commentaries. He's the Edward R. Murrow of our generation, and ostensibly the only rational voice that exists in the mainstream media.

This story from the Washington Post pertains to his most recent rant concerning the President's assertion that Democrats, not terrorists, are the real threat to the country.

I tried to embed the video clip here but had difficulties. You can see it here, as well on MSNBC's site and YouTube.

Olbermann's Special Comments

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Friday, October 6, 2006; 11:56 AM

The traditional media has been slow to come to grips with the American public's distrust and dislike of President Bush -- sentiments clearly reflected in opinion polls dating back well over a year.

Almost alone among the network newscasters, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann is channeling that sensibility. Channeling it -- and amplifying it.

In fact, the increasingly shrill Olbermann is fast becoming the Howard Beale of the anti-Bush era: He's mad as hell, and he's not going to take it anymore.

His newscast-ending "special comment" yesterday was a doozy. Here's the text ; here's the video , from the Crooks and Liars blog.

At issue: The sorts of rhetorical excesses in Bush's campaign speeches recently handled (with kid gloves) by such mainstream journalists as McClatchy's Ron Hutcheson and The Washington Post's Peter Baker -- and on which I've been harping for ages, most recently in my Bush's Imaginary Foes column.

What apparently set off Olbermann in particular was when Bush recently described a vote against his warrantless wiretapping plan as being the same as saying "we don't think we ought to be listening to the conversations of terrorists" -- and when Bush said of the Democratic leadership: "It sounds like they think the best way to protect the American people is -- wait until we're attacked again."

Here's Olbermann yesterday: "The president doesn't just hear what he wants. He hears things that only he can hear.

"It defies belief that this president and his administration could continue to find new unexplored political gutters into which they could wallow. Yet they do.

"It is startling enough that such things could be said out loud by any president of this nation. Rhetorically, it is about an inch short of Mr. Bush accusing Democratic leaders, Democrats, the majority of Americans who disagree with his policies, of treason. . . .

"No Democrat, sir, has ever said anything approaching the suggestion that the best means of self-defense is to 'wait until we're attacked again.'

"No critic, no commentator, no reluctant Republican in the Senate has ever said anything that any responsible person could even have exaggerated into the slander you spoke in Nevada on Monday night, nor the slander you spoke in California on Tuesday, nor the slander you spoke in Arizona on Wednesday . . . nor whatever is next. . . .

"But tonight the stark question we must face is -- why?

Why has the ferocity of your venom against the Democrats now exceeded the ferocity of your venom against the terrorists?

"Why have you chosen to go down in history as the president who made things up?"

Defending the Comma

AFP reports: "The White House defended U.S. President George W. Bush's description of the 10 months of bloody violence in Iraq since December 2005 elections as 'just a comma.'

"'He is not talking about the war as a comma,' spokesman Tony Snow told reporters after critics pounced on Bush's repeated use of the expression as a sign of callous disregard for the war's death toll.

"'What the president's making the point is, when you look at a history book, the 10-month period is a comma,' he said. 'What he means is that, in the grand sweep of history, 10 months is not an epic.'

"Snow fired back at unnamed critics he accused of trying to 'wrench a statement out of context' to use it as ammunition against Bush 'who is deeply aware of the human costs of war.'

"'Some people have tried to say, 'How dare the president refer to this as a comma? He's being glib about the deaths of Americans.' That's outrageous. And the people who say that know it,' said the spokesman."

Here's the transcript of the briefing.

"Q: The president's statement was open to misinterpretation, let's say. Why did he use it a couple more times after he first did and people reacted --

"MR. SNOW: Because he didn't think he had --

"Q: Why wouldn't he want to avoid any misunderstanding on something so obviously --

"MR. SNOW: Maybe he didn't think that people were going to be -- were going to spend so much time trying to twist it out of context. But I'm pleased to have been able to place it in context."

Terence Hunt writes for the Associated Press: "A week into a sex scandal involving teenage House pages, President Bush called House Speaker Dennis Hastert on Thursday to thank the embattled Republican leader for how he has handled the situation.

"In a phone call lasting several minutes, Bush expressed support for Hastert, under fire from conservatives unhappy with what he did and didn't do about former Rep. Mark Foley's sexually suggestive messages to teens.

"'The president thanked him for going out and making a clear public statement that said the House leadership takes responsibility and is accountable,' White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said.

"'He said he appreciated that when they got the information, they swiftly took action making clear that Rep. Foley should step down and promptly requested a Department of Justice investigation. And he expressed his support for the speaker,' Perino said."

Tim Russert said on NBC's "Today Show" this morning that White House officials "are very much involved in trying to construct damage control. . . . They are deeply concerned, because if Congress flips to the Democrats, they expect full-throttle hearings on Iraq and other issues."
Jim VandeHei and Michael Abramowitz write in The Washington Post: "The White House and top House Republicans remain deeply nervous that the scandal will hurt them politically, and that additional information will come out contradicting statements by Hastert and others that they were unaware of Foley's sexual messages to underage boys, the lawmakers and officials said.

"For now, they said, it would be politically disastrous for Republicans to oust Hastert because it would be viewed as akin to a public admission of guilt in the scandal, as well as a pre-election victory that would buoy Democrats and help their turnout efforts."

VandeHei and Abramowitz note that Bush's call of support yesterday "comes as a sharp contrast to the administration's handling of the controversy in 2002 over Sen. Trent Lott's comments about then-Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) -- which cost Lott (Miss.) his post as Senate GOP leader. In Lott's case, Bush was quick to nudge him out of power. The president, however, feels deeply indebted to Hastert, who has pushed through his agenda and has quietly provided advice on how to deal with a restive Republican Congress."

Tom Raum writes for the Associated Press: "The final two years of President Bush's term could be bleak for Republicans if the congressional-page scandal roiling Washington ends up costing them control of the House or Senate or even both."
Here's the ever-helpful Tony Snow on the issue at the briefing yesterday, before Bush's call:

"Q: Tony, has the president talked to Speaker Hastert since this whole thing started?

"MR. SNOW: No.

"Q: Has he asked to talk with him?

"MR. SNOW: No. No.

"Q: Why not?

"MR. SNOW: Just hasn't."

And then later:

"Q: Is this a separation of powers issue, Tony, or is this a determined effort to insulate the White House from this whole thing?

MR. SNOW: No, I don't think -- look, this is an issue that everybody cares about, but it's also an issue that -- the House has to figure out what happened; the House is the proper place for investigating the behavior of its members, although the Justice Department does now have an investigation ongoing. But let me also clarify, in case anybody wondered, this is not a White House that orders up investigations, and so we have nothing to do formally or informally with that investigation."

Not a White House that orders up investigations? One reporter came back to that later on:

"Q: You said earlier that this is not a White House that calls for investigations. Can I just ask you to reconsider that in light of the president's comments after the terrorist surveillance program was disclosed, and then after the prison program was disclosed. Didn't the president make it clear that he believes that it's necessary to get to the bottom of these leaks?

"MR. SNOW: Did we make a formal call for an investigation?

"Q: Did the president say from the podium --

"MR. SNOW: Yes, okay. Yes. What I'm saying -- what I'm saying is, that when you deal with an ongoing criminal matter like -- okay, got me. You're right. I revise and extend my remarks. (Laughter.)"

In the latest major polls, Bush's job-approval rating is solidly under 40 percent: At 36, 37 and 38, to be exact.

Pew Research Center : "President Bush's job approval rating stands at 37%, which is unchanged since early September and August. . . .

"Iraq has become the central issue of the midterm elections. There is more dismay about how the U.S. military effort in Iraq is going than at any point since the war began more than three years ago. . . .

"Nearly half of the American public (46%) now believes the war in Iraq has hurt the war on terrorism, which approaches the highest percentage since Pew began asking this question in 2002 (47% in July 2005). By comparison, just 39% say it has helped the war on terrorism."

AP-Ipsos finds Bush's approval rating at 38 percent, with 59 percent disapproving; 42 percent disapproving strongly.

Tony Karon writes for Time: "President Bush's overall approval rating, according to Time's poll, now stands at just 36%, down from 38% in August. . . .

"Only 38% of respondents in the Time poll now support President Bush's decision to invade Iraq, down from 42% three months ago. . . . Almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents disapprove of President Bush's handling of the war, while 54% believe he 'deliberately misled' Americans in making his case for war -- a figure that has increased by 6 points over the past year."

Signing Statement Watch

The Associated Press joins the Boston Globe in covering this important issue, exploring the signing statement Bush issued Wednesday night after most reporters had already filed their stories on the Homeland Security appropriations bill in question.
Leslie Miller writes for the AP: "President Bush, again defying Congress, says he has the power to edit the Homeland Security Department's reports about whether it obeys privacy rules while handling background checks, ID cards and watchlists.

"In the law Bush signed Wednesday, Congress stated no one but the privacy officer could alter, delay or prohibit the mandatory annual report on Homeland Security department activities that affect privacy, including complaints.
"But Bush, in a signing statement attached to the agency's 2007 spending bill, said he will interpret that section 'in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch.'"

Why is this a big deal?

As Miller writes: "Privacy advocate Marc Rotenberg said Bush is trying to subvert lawmakers' ability to accurately monitor activities of the executive branch of government.

"'The Homeland Security Department has been setting up watch lists to determine who gets on planes, who gets government jobs, who gets employed,' said Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

"He said the Homeland Security Department has the most significant impact on citizens' privacy of any agency in the federal government."

(Case in point, 60 Minutes is reporting this weekend on a secret list used to screen airline passengers for terrorists, which "includes names of people not likely to cause terror, including the president of Bolivia, people who are dead and names so common, they are shared by thousands of innocent fliers.")

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Won't someone PLEASE think of the children?

I've decided to get on the wagon for a while (on the wagon or off? Whichever one means not drinking). I'm starting to develop a beer gut on top of the fried stuff/cheese/po-boys gut I already had. Plus the initial layer of baby fat.

If you were in Helena, Montana, and you bought a handbasket you would have a Helena handbasket. I hate myself.

A republican congressman, Mark Foley, has been having cybersex and sending lewd e-mails to male pages under the age of 16. Yes, sweet sweet pedophilia!

No child left behind? No child's behind left...

The worse part is that the republican congressional leadership knew about it and did nothing for fear of political rammifications. Politics over pedophilia. Dog bless the USA.

I bet he knows what the sound of one hand typing is.

Currently Listening to:
Greg Laswell

Through Toledo (2006)