Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Jay Inslee ...Focus on the Future

February 27, 2006

Focus on the Future: Interview with Jay Inslee
from : http://www.evergreenpolitics.com/ep/2006/02/focus_on_the_fu.html

Congressman Jay Inslee
of Washington’s 1st CD, sees the future and it is all about the need for energy independence. This one large and critical issue impacts our ability to compete in the world, retain jobs for the middle-class, maintain a credible foreign policy and manage not to destroy the planet. It is that important and Inslee has been aware of it for a long time. Only now is it coming into vogue in the political world.

Jay and 14 other Members of Congress introduced a bill in Congress in June of last year. I didn’t even bother to ask if it had gone anywhere. How could it with the Republican dinosaurs in charge? Here’s a summary of the bill, called the New Apollo Initiative, from his website:

Inslee’s legislation will use new and innovative tax incentives and market-based assistance, along with energy performance standards to address three challenges to America: creating clean energy manufacturing jobs, decreasing dependence on foreign oil, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill’s key features are: 1) loan guarantees for construction of clean-energy generation facilities, 2) significant reductions in daily domestic oil consumption, 3) incentives for driving fuel-efficient vehicles and developing fuel efficient cars and planes, 4) capping emissions of greenhouse gases, 5) investing in federal research into advanced clean technologies, 6) requiring utilities to produce 10% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2021, 7) creating national standards that allow homeowners to feed surplus electricity back into the energy grid and reinstitute regulatory oversight of energy trading markets, and 8) closing abusive corporate tax shelters and loopholes.

Naturally nothing of substance can get done on freeing America from the grip of the oil companies until Democrats gain some dominance in Congress. Knowing that everything he knows needs to happen in this country is stymied until we can take over both houses of Congress, Inslee has been a generous and firm supporter of Darcy Burner in the 8th CD and untiring, although thus far unsuccessful, in his attempts to get good, viable Democratic challengers to run in Washington’s 4th and 5th Congressional Districts in eastern Washington.

I enjoyed sitting down to talk with Jay and hearing his thoughts on the subject he is most passionate about. I think you'll enjoy it too. The interview is after the fold.

Interview with Jay Inslee, Congressman

Q: What prompted your interest in energy independence?

JI: Energy and the environment have both been long-time interests of mine. I went to Stockholm for an international gabfest on the environment in 1972, which in some ways was the birth of the environmental movement. What was most amazing to me, though, was the way the Swedes were already recycling, using recycled materials, focusing on public transportation – all the things that we are doing just recently. It was already built into the society.

Now of course they are again way ahead of us.

In the last three years, I’ve taken that commitment and focused it on legislation. A constellation of things have made the need obvious – such as the decline in our economy, the loss of jobs to overseas companies, and incontrovertible and dangerous global warming.

The focus on energy independence is also a no-brainer for Washington State. We are the place where caring for quality of life, such as clear air and clean water, meets up with being a hotbed of innovation. We have Boeing, high-tech, a history of innovation. It is a perfect focus for this area and a slew of small start-ups here are again rising to take on this challenge. Also, with the passage of the excellent environmental legislation here, we are ahead of the nation on this issue and what we do here will go nationwide whenever the political conditions allow.

Q: How closely have you been involved at the state level with these issues?

JI: I’ve been involved with the Washington Energy Security initiative that we expect to get on the ballot here this fall. The initiative will guarantee that by 2020, 15% of the electricity from Washington’s largest utilities comes from plentiful and home-grown renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and will help homeowners and businesses save on energy bills by assuring that we get all the cost-saving energy efficiency available in this state.

Q: How much support do you have in Congress?

JI: The Bush Administration lives in a big castle with a moat around it. Good ideas get thrown up but bounce back off those high walls. There is no response. Just recently Bush is mouthing support for getting off oil and there is some good news in that. It may allow us to get some bills through in 2006 if control of Congress switches – bills about flex fuel, the use of biodiesel and increased research & development.

The UAW also came out a few weeks ago to say that looking at alternative fuel sources for automobiles is a good idea. They’ve seen that some manufacturers have moved forward. They’ve seen success in Brazil where 40% of what’s in the tanks of cars is now biofuels.

Manufacturers have been about to get huge efficiencies by going to less wasteful practices. BP committed itself to meeting the Kyoto targets themselves and they’ve done it with 2-3 years to spare and saved tons of money in the process. GE has made a commitment. Venture capitalists are dreaming of the technological companies they can back that will do well in the new businesses of fuel efficiency and alternative energy development.

The Democrats are united behind this. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are committed and if we get a Democratic majority in the House and Senate this year, we can probably move some of the agenda, not the whole new Apollo package because we’ll have to drag the White House along, but some of it.

Q: What’s the low-hanging fruit, the things we can do as a nation without a lot of difficulty?

JI: We can get half way to where we need to get with existing technology. Then means passing the Washington Energy Security initiative and then implementing it and spreading it to other states is a start; using a higher percentage of biofuels in our automobiles; implementing flex fuels in our cars, which costs only $100 and allows our cars to use different fuels depending on what is available; improving the CAFÉ fuel economy standards, which we certainly have the technology to do but which are hard to do politically; making tax credits for wind technology permanent; and improving building codes and standards for appliances.

Q: Where are the long-term gains, the policies we need to implement for the future?

JI: The large-scale gains will come from huge increases in the budget for research and development, which we did for the original Apollo project to reach the moon. This is critical. The fate of our entire planet is at stake.

The possibilities include using algae to produce biofuels, improving the efficiency of solar cells and advances in materials engineering such as using carbon fiber to make automobiles much lighter than they are today.

Wave power has some potential by capturing the energy of waves either through buoys or wave collective walls.

The thing is, there are no silver bullets. It makes no sense to look for one thing. It will be 1000 different ideas working together that resolves this issue.

Thank you.

Pillar again... Wake up call for the Press !!!

Pillar to press: Don't get fooled again

Original article and active links here:

February 27, 2006

Paul R. Pillar, the former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year, writes that the press was insufficiently questioning both in the run-up to war and in its coverage of the 9/11 Commission. He proposes questions reporters should ask -- retrospectively and prospectively -- about the use and abuse of intelligence by policymakers.

By Paul R. Pillar

Q. Why was more not done before 9/11 to counter the terrorist threat from Al Qaeda in response to the intelligence community's highlighting of that threat -- as reflected in DCI George Tenet's public statements?

Q. How exactly is the reorganization of the intelligence community under the legislation of December 2004 supposed to correct what the 9/11 Commission stated were problems in counterterrorism? What effect, if any, does the reorganization have on the problem of insufficient or improper use of intelligence by the policymaker?

Q. When was the decision to go to war in Iraq made, what beliefs and analysis led to that decision (as distinct from arguments used to muster support for the decision), and where did those beliefs and analysis come from?

Q. On any future matter major national security decision:

What beliefs and analysis underlie the decision?
Where do those beliefs and analysis come from?
How do those beliefs and analysis compare with public arguments used to justify the decision?
What questions about the issue have policymakers posed to the intelligence community?
Q. When an intelligence assessment becomes a matter of public knowledge: Who asked for the assessment, why was it requested, and what determined how the questions were framed?

Q. When intelligence officials speak or testify, to what extent are their statements constrained by policy preferences?

Much effort and expense have been devoted to inquiries that one might hope would shed light on deficiencies in the intelligence-policy relationship. But they have failed to do so, because of the agendas or political constraints that have afflicted the inquiring bodies themselves.

The 9/11 Commission established as its goal the generation of enough public support to enact a reorganization of the intelligence community. Pursuit of that goal led it to produce a selective and misleading account of strategic intelligence on terrorism, obscuring the actual reasons US counterterrorist policy took the course it did prior to 9/11. The press was remarkably acquiescent in this; as Judge Richard Posner noted in his critique of the commission's work, a combination of political circumstances paralyzed criticism of the commission and led its report to be accepted unquestioningly as "holy writ." The politics of the Congressional intelligence committees have led them to delay repeatedly any public appraisal of how the administration used intelligence on Iraq (in the case of the Senate committee) or not even to attempt to address the subject (in the case of its House counterpart). The commission investigating intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction produced an otherwise useful report, but its White House provenance constrained it from exploring all the ways in which policy preferences affected the intelligence.

Vigorous and illuminating treatment by the press of similar situations in the future will require it to dig below the public rhetoric and explore the actual bases for policy decisions, which may or may not match the rhetoric and may or may not come from intelligence. It also will require going beyond the issue of "flagrant fouls" in the intelligence-policy relationship and considering the more numerous and more subtle ways in which intelligence can be politicized, both publicly and privately.

Paul R. Pillar is on the faculty of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University. He capped a long career in the Central Intelligence Agency by serving as National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005.
E-mail: prp8@georgetown.edu

Bush at 34 percent, soldiers at 72 percent for getting out of Iraq !!!!

Things are looking up folks. Now the soldiers are traitors and defeatists just like Murtha and those dems speaking out.

Poll: Bush Ratings At All-Time Low
Original article and active links here : http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/02/27/opinion/polls/main1350874.shtml
NEW YORK, Feb. 27, 2006

(CBS) The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high.

Americans are also overwhelmingly opposed to the Bush-backed deal giving a Dubai-owned company operational control over six major U.S. ports. Seven in 10 Americans, including 58 percent of Republicans, say they're opposed to the agreement.

CBS News senior White House correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that now it turns out the Coast Guard had concerns about the ports deal, a disclosure that is no doubt troubling to a president who assured Americans there was no security risk from the deal.

The troubling results for the Bush administration come amid reminders about the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina and negative assessments of how the government and the president have handled it for six months.

In a separate poll, two out of three Americans said they do not think President Bush has responded adequately to the needs of Katrina victims. Only 32 percent approve of the way President Bush is responding to those needs, a drop of 12 points from last September’s poll, taken just two weeks after the storm made landfall.

Mr. Bush's overall job rating has fallen to 34 percent, down from 42 percent last month. Fifty-nine percent disapprove of the job the president is doing.

For the first time in this poll, most Americans say the president does not care much about people like themselves. Fifty-one percent now think he doesn't care, compared to 47 percent last fall.

Just 30 percent approve of how Mr. Bush is handling the Iraq war, another all-time low.

By two to one, the poll finds Americans think U.S. efforts to bring stability to Iraq are going badly – the worst assessment yet of progress in Iraq.

Even on fighting terrorism, which has long been a strong suit for Mr. Bush, his ratings dropped lower than ever. Half of Americans say they disapprove of how he's handling the war on terror, while 43 percent approve.

In a bright spot for the administration, most Americans appeared to have heard enough about Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident.

More then three in four said it was understandable that the accident had occurred and two-thirds said the media had spent too much time covering the story.

Still, the incident appears to have made the public's already negative view of Cheney a more so. Just 18 percent said they had a favorable view of the vice president, down from 23 percent in January.

Americans were evenly split on whether or not Cheney's explanation of why there was a delay in reporting the accident was satisfactory.

©MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 27, 2006

National Guard is Broken


Published: February 27, 2006
WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 — Governors of both parties said Sunday that Bush administration policies were stripping the National Guard of equipment and personnel needed to respond to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, forest fires and other emergencies.

"We should be increasing the number of National Guard combat brigades, not reducing it," Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said.

Tens of thousands of National Guard members have been sent to Iraq, along with much of the equipment needed to deal with natural disasters and terrorist threats in the United States, the governors said here at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

The National Guard, which traces its roots to the colonial militia, has a dual federal-state role. Governors normally command the Guard in their states, but Guard members deployed overseas in support of a federal mission are under the control of the president.

The governors said they would present their concerns to President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday. In a preview of their message, all 50 governors signed a letter to the president opposing any cuts in the size of the National Guard.

"Unfortunately," the letter said, "when our National Guard men and women return from being deployed in foreign theaters, much of their equipment remains behind." The governors said the White House must immediately re-equip Guard units "to carry out their homeland security and domestic disaster duties."

Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, a Republican and chairman of the governors association, said: "The National Guard plays an incredibly valuable role in the states. What we are concerned about, as governors, is that when our troops are deployed for long periods of time, and their equipment goes with them but does not come back, the troops are very strained, and they no longer have the equipment they were trained to use."

Nearly one-third of the American ground forces in Iraq are members of the Army National Guard.

This month the Pentagon backed away from a budget proposal to reduce the authorized strength of the National Guard to 330,000 soldiers, from 350,000.

"We have no intention of cutting the number of Guard or Reserve brigades, reducing the number of Guard or Reserve soldiers, or cutting the level of Guard or Reserve funding," said the Army chief of staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker.

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho, a Republican, said Sunday that he was still "very concerned." The administration may have set aside the proposal on authorized strength, but it has not restored money to the budget to pay for 350,000 Guard members, he said.

In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said that "extensive use of the Guard's equipment overseas has significantly reduced the amount of equipment available to governors for domestic needs."

Since 2003, the report said, the Army National Guard has left more than 64,000 pieces of equipment, valued at more than $1.2 billion, in Iraq. The Army has not kept track of most of this equipment and has no firm plans to replace it, the report said.

Governor Kempthorne said the National Guard was bearing "a totally disproportionate share" of proposed cuts in the growth of the Army's budget over the next five years, even as the Guard's responsibilities at home were increasing.

Governors of both parties said a Pentagon plan to reorganize the Army National Guard would significantly weaken its ability to save lives and property at home.

After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, more than 40,000 Guard members helped evacuate storm victims, distributed food and water, provided emergency medical care, repaired homes and restored power.

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana, a Democrat, said: "The Guard played an awesome role. We should be increasing the number of National Guard combat brigades, not reducing it."

Two other Democrats, Govs. Tom Vilsack of Iowa and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, said the strength and resources of Guard units in their states were being depleted.

"We are not only missing National Guard personnel," Ms. Sebelius said. "We are also missing a lot of the equipment that's used to deal with situations at home, day in and day out."

Despite assurances from top administration officials, Mr. Vilsack said, "many of us are very concerned about what we're hearing, that the Pentagon, the administration, might reduce the resources for the National Guard so they can redirect resources to pay for more boots on the ground, more full-time military."

David M. Walker, the comptroller general of the United States, who heads the Government Accountability Office, said the governors had some basis for their concerns.

"The Army cannot account for over half the equipment that Army National Guard units have left overseas," Mr. Walker said. "And it has not developed replacement plans for the equipment, as Defense Department policy requires."

Sunday, February 26, 2006


On Patriotism
Friday February 24th 2006, 1:14 am

Everything is debatable, but debate is ultimately incapable of settling anything; any belief, no matter how qualified it is or how well supported by evidence, is finally a leap of faith, or more precisely an exercise of the will. Like any form of real love, patriotism, the belief that one’s country is deserving of one’s loyalty sacrifices, cannot be a mere infatuation, which is the result of seduction or enchantment; it must take account not only of the charms and the virtues of a country, but of its faults and its sins as well. And the greater the power of the country under consideration, and the stronger the identification of the country’s mythology of itself with a certain set of political values, the more stirring will be its accomplishments and the more dismaying its failures.

There are many varieties of patriotism, and the phenomenon itself is strange. Even a small country–even a small city–is an imagined community, and the bonds between its citizens are not always as strong as the bonds between its citizens and certain foreigners. In a continental country comprising deserts and glaciers, farmlands and harbors, mountains and canyons, the diversity of landscapes is apt to be matched only by the diversity of the population; and such a diverse country is difficult to comprehend even if seen in its totality, which few ever do. (It is a source of constant amazement to me that in Illinois and Kentucky, two neighboring states that almost merge into the same community with the same beliefs and customs along the Ohio River, the commemoration of the Civil War is so different; Illinois is the Land of Lincoln, and much of downtown Springfield is a shrine to our country’s greatest leader, but Kentucky, which didn’t even secede, officially honors Jefferson Davis with a state park, not to mention Confederate flags on pickup trucks.)

In a small country, patriotism is apt to be defined in terms of certain landmarks, which may be unremarkable when compared to other landforms around the world but which, when invested with song and poetry and myth, become Everests of the imagination; in an old country with a famous civilization, the temptation to invest the ancients with even more significance than they fairly one is ever-present (as is the blind, perverse, and perennial rebellion against the dead hand of tradition). A nation-state which was born out of the twin imperatives of a centralizing state and a homogenizing population, the two trends reinforcing and catalyzing one another, will be subjected to a mixture of the small country’s emphasis on the particularistic (although it will be not landmarks, but artists, generals, and statesmen who will be honored for otherwise unremarkable deeds) and the ancient country’s obeisance to a largely imagined past (although its storytellers will emphasize not the outstanding deeds of a few great men but the age-old and wholly invented unity of the nation and its folkways). Each of these types of countries will nurture a different type of patriotism.

There are two additional types of countries, or rather one which breeds two subspecies. These are the countries that are undeniably recent, and being new lack not only an ancient civilization to revere but an ethnicity to share. Such novel creatures are, in fact, largely the result of Western colonialism and imperialism; although nationalism is not only an artifact of the successive sins of Europe, the specific borders and characteristics of most countries that fall into this category are, in fact, a result of the actions of the crowned heads, and later the enfranchised peoples, of the great nations of Europe. I have in mind here the historical earthquake which shook the Americas, at once redrawing the territories of existing polities for administrative convenience, causing historical amnesia by denuding the landscape of its narrative significance, and decapitating and emaciating the indigenous cultures while imposing a wholly alien tradition on two continents. What was left in many places was only a sense of ethnic identity reinforced by strictly enforced class and racial boundaries, a process that is still ongoing.

Yet in other postcolonial countries, such as the United States, or countries marked by colonial threats but never dominated by them, such as Japan, the effect has been subtler because historical continuity was never snapped. The United States, of course, has become as much a mythological country as an actual one; its history is invested with a significance rather unlike that of a European country (save perhaps France since the Revolution). If America is embarked on an historical experiment in democratic self-governance, and one which seeks not only to prove that a republic can survive but that it can be virtuous, then every epoch is an interim report on that experiment, every setback a blow to the hypothesis, every advance an indication that the theory is plausible after all. Few other countries are so endowed with an ideological significance; tellingly, the most important other country to so publicly and deeply stake its legitimacy and its identity on an ideological proposition survived not even until its seventy-fifth anniversary, despite its still-impressive power. And even today, there are many throughout the former Soviet Union (although these principally Russians) who believe in the ideology that motivated that short-lived colossus, so attractive–to them, anyway–was the idea of Communism, so strong their will-to-believe.

The United States, of course, is in some respects a normal country. Our rivers, mountains, and plains are celebrated even when they are somewhat dull; the Founding Fathers are venerated almost to the point of idolatry, the misunderstandings and worship of their every deed a suffocating force for a whole class of Americans; and there yet remain many who believe that an “American” is an ethnic, not merely a cultural and a political, marker (viz., that an “American” is, essentially, a white Protestant). It should be obvious that certain of these traits have been accepted by the public to varying degrees over the years; the ethnic identitification, in particular, has been waning for at least the better part of a half-century. But it should be equally clear that what I say next must be understood in the context of these competing roots of American patriotism–that many who share the somewhat esoteric ideas I am about to lay out may also love simply the “normal” attributes of America, in a way that would be familiar to an English or a German patriot.

If there is an idealized America–not merely a “purer” version of the United States that exists only in our imaginations like a Norman Rockwell painting, but a concept of the United States in a purely ideational sense–than patriotism for an American must mean loyalty to this idea above all. The leftist slogan “Dissent is Patriotic” expresses one of the implications of this idea, because in certain situations dissent from the policies of an American government will deviate from one’s ideal America; the obverse is that often it is loyalty which is patriotic, an understanding that the bold scribblers of the left (or the right when it is in opposition) are unlikely to champion when it is inexpedient.

Yet because this country is idealized, feelings for this America are more difficult to share than a patriotism based on a common affection for, say, the Avoca Valley or a common respect for the teachings of Confucius. Without our constant engagement in a public sphere, my idealized America and yours will forever remain unreconciled, and we will indeed be likely to conclude that the other really, deep down, hates the country we both profess to love. As the quotation in the post below demonstrates, or as Orwell describes in 1984, there is another way to create such a shared concept of a country, but such coercion, violent or simply propagandistic, is antithetical to any version of the United States I choose to admire.

But having divided the United States in the manner of an ancient philosopher into its ethereal and its corporeal substances, what is the fate of the would-be patriot who loves only one of the substances? Such a man must be sentenced to walk his native land as an expatriate, an exile abroad at home, a sentence from which there is no hope of reprieve. This is a situation which cannot affect someone who is disenchanted with a country of the other types described earlier; he will have the option of simply leaving his country or choosing to disdain it. The latter will be unpleasant but it is surely less so than the predicament of our frustrated American patriot. The frustrated American may take to activism, which is arduous and even more frustrating, but which is an option that will not even occur to, for example, a Greek who can’t stand Platonic philosophy; you can’t argue against the past any more than you can argue against the landscape.

To some degree, all Americans are tormented by such discrepancies between the country they make devotions to and the country they physically inhabit. It is this peculiar trait, one characteristic of a permanent revolution that is so thoroughgoing that even a Mao would be in awe of it, that explains the moral urgency of American politics, the vigor of public debate, and the importance of what would in other countries be purely procedural questions (the veneration of the Constitution, for example, is incomprehensible even to citizens of other democracies). This contest of wills is, however, not a drawback of American politics; it is the very essence of it, and that trait I find most admirable.

Friday, February 24, 2006

South Dakota: Where Rapists Live Forever!

by Bob Cesca www.huffingtonpost.com
READ MORE: New York Times, 2006

The great state of South Dakota. The home of Mount Rushmore, Deadwood, and... Mount Rushmore! And now, after the passage of new legislation this week, South Dakota can add something even more special to its license plates: The Home of Rapist Bastard Children!

That's right, rapists. If you want your twisted, evil chromosomes to live forever, South Dakota welcomes you with open arms.

lawmakers in Pierre passed a law which prevents your victims from aborting your rapist children, even if your rapist child is just a clump of a dozen rapist cells.

Break out the celebratory cigars, Rapist Dad, because now you can sleep at night, comforted with the knowledge that any woman you assault and violate -- perhaps torture -- won't be allowed to abort the fruit of all your planning, stalking, and raping.

Whether your victim is a young girl or a pre-menopausal older woman, they're stuck with you. So while you relax in your rubber pants gazing up at the wall filled with the clandestinely attained photographs of your past and present victims, you'll be satisfied to know that there's a good chance several of them will be the Mommy to your bastard rapist baby.

Maybe the rapist child will have your eyes, or your embarrassingly sweaty palms. Maybe your child will have the gene that eventually triggered your decision to become a rapist. Then one day, should the stars align, you and your rapist offspring will reunite -- perhaps walking hand-in-hand down to the playground after dark to rape someone together as father and son. But don't expect greeting cards from your rapist children. South Dakota isn't quite ready for "Happy Father's Day... To My Dad Who Is A Rapist!" cards. Yet.

Even if you're arrested and convicted, or if you're crafty enough to get away with it, you can rest assured knowing that your victim will have a daily reminder of you for the rest of her life. It's like a walking, talking, breathing post card of your time together -- a cherubic face in the back seat saying to her on the way to therapy, "Hey Victim! Me again. Your rapist. I brutally raped you, thus ruining your life and now you get to sacrifice your remaining years raising my rapist child! A child who looks almost exactly like me -- the dude who raped you!"

So if you have a penchant for homespun frontier living; a natural urge to procreate; and are a rapist, then South Dakota could be your next home or vacation destination.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Have a look !!!!


Dolly Prophet

Parton Makes a Plea for Gay Tolerance

By Peter Cooper, USA TODAY

NASHVILLE (Feb. 23) — Dolly Parton has no trouble relating to outsiders. "I've always been a weird, out-there freak myself," she says. Growing up in the mountains of East Tennessee, she was used to not being accepted. "My grandfather was a Pentecostal preacher. It was a sin to even pluck your eyebrows, and they thought it was a sin for me to be there looking like Jezebel."

Her ability to identify with outcasts helped her to an Oscar nomination for Travelin' Thru, a song she wrote for the movie Transamerica. The main character is a pre-operative transsexual (played by Felicity Huffman) traveling the country with his son.

"Some things are strange to me, and some things are odd," says Parton, 60. "But I don't condemn. If you can accept me, I can accept you."

The ceremony March 5 won't be Parton's first Oscar experience; her 9 to 5 was nominated in 1980. But this time, she gets to perform.

She'll walk the red carpet in a Robert Behar-designed dress with Duncan Tucker, Transamerica's producer and director. (Of her husband of 40 years, Carl Dean, she says, "I can't even get him to go for a Big Mac, much less the Oscars.")

Tucker was instrumental in offering Parton direction for the song. "He wanted the song to be about redemption and about people's feelings," Parton says.

She struggled until one morning on her tour bus she had the idea for a spiritual theme and a gospel feel. She wrote: "God made me for a reason, and nothing is in vain/Redemption comes in many shapes with many kinds of pain." She finished in a day.

Parton is considering putting the song on a gospel album and doing a dance club version.

"Having a big gay following, I get hate mail and threats," she says. "Some people are blind or ignorant, and you can't be that prejudiced and hateful and go through this world and still be happy. One thing about this movie is that I think art can change minds. It's all right to be who you are."

King George, a moron....

by Marty Kaplan
W: "My Government"

Here's how W is defending the Dubai decision: "The more people learn about the transaction that has been scrutinized and approved by my government, the more they'll be comforted..."

For a moment, set aside the "trust-me" part of this, and focus instead on the "my government" bit.

If he'd said "my administration," I wouldn't have blinked.

"My cabinet" would also have raised no hackles. If he really wanted to use the word "government," then how about these pronouns as antecedents for "people": "their government" or "our government."

But no, he said "my government." I don't think that's just a garden variety Bushism, a trivial malapropism. I think it goes right to his understanding of who he is, and who we are. It's not a Freudian slip; it's an Orwellian siren, an anti-democratic red alert.

The founding documents of our nation talk about the government, our government, a government, any government. If my is used, it's said on behalf of the citizens, not their rulers.

But W really believes that it's his government. He doesn't see himself as a steward, a trustee, a caretaker, someone who temporarily gets to steer the ship of state because of the momentary consent of the governed and an enduring set of rules. No, he believes it's his ship, his state, his rules -- his and his ideological fellow-travelers.

The heads of some countries with parliamentary systems, like India, sometimes say "my government"; when they do, it means 'my Cabinet," "my temporary ruling colition," "my majority" -- which could fall in an instant, if there were a no-confidence vote.

But in the US, we don't have governments that get made and dissolved year-round; we have Administrations, that get formed every four years.

In the American context, unless it's an ordinary citizen like you or me speaking, let's recognize the expression "my government" as what it really is: a deeply troubling oxymoron, the inappropriate yoking together of a democratic institution and -- well, a moron.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Connect the Dots !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lets Play connect the dots...........................................................

CSX.............. JOHN SNOW................ US TREASURY...................... SHIPPING CONTAINERS ................ PORT MANAGEMENT ............ DUBAI PORT.................... UNITED ARAB EMERITES .................OSAMA BIN LADEN ............"TERRORISM" ............. BUSH CRIME FAMILY .................. CARLYLE GROUP .................... TAX BREAKS FOR THE RICH............. MUCHO DINERO.

...That nice link to a $10 million plus tax break for the CSX Corporation in a bill signed by Pataki in January 2003. The tax break was ostensibly to encourage CSX to build a high speed rail between Buffalo and Albany. CSX, however, has never indicated any interest in the project before or after the bill was signed.

At the same time, in December 2002, the Carlyle Group announced its purchase of CSX's container business. Tens of millions of tax dollars being spent in Staten Island by NYS on the Howland Hook Marine Terminal and the restoration of a rail link that will benefit CSX and the Carlyle Group.

So is there a problem with Libby Pataki investing in Florida real estate while serving as first lady of NYS? Should Dana Rohrabacher disclose donors to his nanny fund?

Also, Bush nominated John Snow, chairman of CSX, to be Treasury Secretary in December 2003, the same month that Carlyle bought the majority stake in CSX's constiner business.

So the price for CSX's container business paid by the Carlyle Group was $240 million in cash, $60 million in securities (what securities, I don't know), $10 milllion plus in NYS tax breaks and the treasury position for Snow. New York taxpayers would have been better of buying the farm for the Patakis.

How do I account for the several million dollars paid by Florida taxpayers for the property owned by Libby Pataki and Richard Hayden? Hayden, btw, also pays $285K anually to Mrs. Pataki for "consulting" work.

What no one ever seems to bring up is that Jeb and George Bush will be among the heirs of the estate of George H. W. and Barbara Bush. The elder Bushes are just that - elderly and there's a reasonable chance that they will die within the next decade. As such, Jeb and George W. have a financial interest in the Carlyle Group and other Bush investments.

Now on to Dubai....
-Osama bin Laden's alleged financial manager, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi, received a Dubai bank transfer of US$15,000 two days before the Sept. 11 attacks and then left the Emirates for Pakistan, where he was arrested in 2003.

-Marwan Al-Shehhi, an Emirates citizen and one of the hijackers, received US$100,000 via the United Arab Emirates. Another hijacker, Fayez Banihammad, also was from the Emirates.

-About half of the US$250,000 spent on the attacks was wired to al-Qaida terrorists

THEY CAME THROUGH THE AIR AND THEY USED THE DUBAI AIRPORTS TO TRANSFER FROM SAUDI ARABIA AND THE DUBAI BANKS TO FUNNEL THEIR MONEY INTO THE U.S. And considering how deaf dumb and blind to their impending arrival George Bush proved to be, why wouldn't he be so this time?

I'm not concerned about the American longshoremen or who is signing the checks - I'm concerned about al qaeda infiltrating Dubai Ports World the way they've infiltrated the police and the courts and the army in southern Iraq. And by the way, DPW WILL be responsible for certain security arrangements. The administration is lying about that.

As for the right wing in general lockstepping with Bush on this, left to them we'd still be dunking witches to find out if they drown or float.

Al qaeda managed to get back here after a so-so try at the WTC. If you think they can't take advantage of an opening like this by getting one of their guys inside DPW, you should sit down and watch the footage of the WTC falling 100 times. Twice, they got there twice.

And the insult to the families of those victims, is, of course, meaningless to you.


UAE banking insiders have revealed that accounts used to fund the Taliban and Al Qaeda involved members of the Dubai royal family.
Banking insiders in Dubai report that in March 2002, U.S. Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill visited Dubai and asked for documents on a $109,500 money transfer from Dubai to a joint account held by hijackers Mohammed Atta and Marwan al Shehhi at Sun Trust Bank in Florida. O'Neill also asked UAE authorities to close down accounts used by Al Qaeda and affiliated partners like Victor Bout. The UAE complained about O'Neill's demands to the Bush administration. O'Neill's pressure on the UAE and Saudis contributed to Bush firing him as Treasury Secretary in December 2002.

Sean Assclown Hannity..,

Sean Hannity on academe, this week on Hannity and Colmes:

Kids are indoctrinated. They’re a captive audience. What can be done to remove these professors with these radical ideas from campus?

My reply (not that I was on Hannity and Colmes at the time):

That’s a great question, Sean. Let’s break it down into two parts.

Kids are indoctrinated. They’re a captive audience.

The process all starts with the captivity, really. As you know, Sean, in America, students are assigned to their universities by the Federal Education and Re-education Committee. Once they arrive on campus, they are subjected to a rigorous system of mandatory coursework. We like to call it “basic training,” and let me tell you, the foreign language requirements are especially punitive. Now, the FERC records tell of a student who tried, in 1988, to “choose” an “elective” course at a Big Ten university. That student was sentenced to twenty years in the Nevada silver mines, where she works today. And I don’t think I have to tell you what happens to undergraduates who violate curfew!


Now, you mentioned indoctrination. Let me dilate on that for a bit.

Once they get into my course (required for graduation), Advanced America-Blaming and Applied Appeasement of Terrorists, they are graded primarily on attendance and recitation. They are also required to turn in two essays, one in which they blame America first, the other in which they propose a strategy for appeasing a terrorist enemy. I am very strict about these essays. I demand that their essays conform to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Sixth Edition, and that they spell America with a k. (Extra credit for three k’s!)

The results are quite dramatic. Many of my students come from conservative backgrounds, but by the tenth week of class, they can chant “all power to the Supreme Soviet” with the best of them. Basically, we party like it’s 1929. At the end of the semester, they leave my classroom and plaster the campus with posters reading “Meat is Murder” and “Bush is Hitler.” Two years ago, one enterprising student came up with a “Meat is Hitler” poster. I have recommended that student to some of the nation’s top graduate schools.

My thinking is that if we can’t get them in college, we inevitably get them in graduate school. Look at young Ben Shapiro. When he got out of UCLA he was still an ultraconservative firebrand in the D’Souza/ Coulter tradition. He even wrote a book called Brainwashed, even though he himself had not been brainwashed. But after just two years at Harvard, he’s dropped out of law school to join the national touring company of The Vagina Monologues.

As to the second part of your question:

What can be done to remove these professors with these radical ideas from campus?

That’s actually quite easy, Sean. I think a simple auto da fé should do the trick. But let me answer you in a song.

Hey Sean Hannity, whaddya say?
I just got back from the auto da fé
Auto da fé? What’s an auto da fé?
It’s what ya oughtn’t to do, but ya do anyway

Sean Hannity:

Great tune, Michael! Let me join in!

Auto da fé? What’s an auto da fé?
It’s what ya oughtn’t to do, but ya do anyway

Fox News Channel, what a show.
Fox News Channel, here we go.
We know you’re wishin’ that we’d go away!
So all you professors better get a clue
We got big news for all of you:
You’d better change your point of view . . . today!
‘Cause Sean Hannity’s here and he’s here to stay!

UPDATE: Don’t forget the First Rule of Satire, kids! The wingnuts are always worse than you can possibly imagine. Right now, in fact, in the sunny state of Arizona, they’re promoting a bill that would protect undergraduates from . . . novels by Rick Moody! Here’s State Senator Thayer Verschoor on The Ice Storm: “There’s no defense of this book. I can’t believe that anyone would come up here and try to defend that kind of material.” Someone get this guy a copy of Gravity’s Rainbow!

Posted by Michael on 02/17 at 12:55 AM

Civil War ?

Blast Destroys Shrine in Iraq, Setting Off Sectarian Fury

Published: February 22, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 22 — A powerful explosion shattered the golden dome of one of Iraq's most revered Shiite shrines this morning, setting off a day of almost unparalleled sectarian fury in cities and towns across Iraq as protesting mobs took to the streets to chant for revenge and set fire to dozens of Sunni mosques.
Attack Destroys Golden Dome

The bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, left its famous golden dome in ruins but injured no one, and only a handful of people appear to have been killed in the widespread street protests and violence that ensued.

But the shrine has enormous significance for Shiites, and its destruction — coming after two days of bloody attacks that left dozens of Shiite civilians dead — ignited a nationwide outpouring of rage and panic that sharply underscored Iraq's sectarian divide.

Shiite militia members flooded the streets of Baghdad, firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at Sunni mosques as Iraqi Army soldiers — called out to stop the violence — stood helpless nearby. By the day's end, mobs had struck 27 Sunni mosques in the capital, killing three imams and kidnapping a fourth, Interior Ministry officials said.

In the southern Shiite city of Basra, Shiite militia members destroyed at least two Sunni mosques, killing an imam, and launched an attack on the headquarters of Iraq's best-known Sunni Arab political party. In Samarra, thousands of people crowded the courtyard of the Golden Mosque, some weeping and kissing the stones, others angrily chanting "Our blood and souls we sacrifice for you imams!"

President Bush issued a statement today extending his sympathy to Iraqis for the bombing.

"The United States condemns this cowardly act in the strongest possible terms," Mr. Bush said in Washington. "I ask all Iraqis to exercise restraint in the wake of this tragedy, and to pursue justice in accordance with the laws and constitution of Iraq."

All of Iraq's major political and religious leaders issued their own urgent appeals for restraint, and Prime Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari called for a three-day mourning period in a televised appearance. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most senior Shiite cleric, released a statement in which he said, "If the government's security forces cannot provide the necessary protection, the believers will do it."

The shrine bombing came after days of mounting violence aimed mostly at Shiite civilians, as Iraq's political leaders are struggling — with little success — to agree on the principles of a new national unity government. Insurgents have often struck during moments of political transition in the past, in apparent efforts to foment further conflict between Iraq's Shiite, Kurdish, and Sunni Arab political factions.

Most Iraqi leaders attributed the attack to terrorists bent on exploiting sectarian rifts. But in a striking break from the past, the leader of Iraq's main Shiite political alliance said he thought Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador to Iraq, was partly to blame for the bombing of the shrine.

The Shiite leader, Abdul Aziz al Hakim, said he thought Mr. Khalilzad's public comments on Monday, in which he drew attention to apparent death squads operating within Iraq's Shiite-led Interior Ministry, were a provocation to the bombing. He did not explain how.

"This declaration gave a green light for these groups to do their operation, so he is responsible for a part of that," Mr. Hakim said of the ambassador, at a news conference called to condemn the shrine bombing.

The renegade Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr, whose Mahdi Army militia led many of the violent protests today, also placed some blame on what he called the "occupation forces" for the bombing, in comments to Al Jazeera Television. Mr. Sadr told the network he was cutting short a trip to Lebanon because of the shrine attack, and called on the new Iraqi Parliament, which includes 32 of his followers, to meet and vote on a request for coalition forces to leave Iraq.

The attack in Samarra began at 7 a.m., when a group of a dozen men dressed in paramilitary uniforms entered the shrine and handcuffed four guards who were sleeping in a back room, said a spokesman for the provincial governor's office. The attackers then placed a bomb in the dome and detonated it, collapsing most of the dome and heavily damaging an adjoining wall.

The shrine is one of four major Shiite shrines in Iraq, and two of the 12 imams revered by mainstream Shiites are buried in it: Ali al-Hadi, who died in 868 A.D., and his son, the 11th imam, Hassan al-Askari. According to legend, the 12th Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, went into hiding near the shrine, and Shiites believe he will return before the Day of Judgment to bring justice to a fallen world.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but some Iraqi officials quickly pointed a finger at Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the jihadist group that is believed to be responsible for many of the attacks on Shiite civilians and mosques in the past two years.

Samarra's population is mostly Sunni Arab, and it was a haven for insurgents until 2004, when American and Iraqi troops carried out a major operation to retake the city (and the Golden Mosque) from guerrilla fighters. But the insurgents have filtered back since then, and American troops in and around the city are now regularly attacked.

Reporting for this article was contributed by Sabrina Tavernise, Mona Mahmoud, Khalid al Ansary, Omar al Neami, and Qais Mizher in Baghdad, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times in Basra, Kirkuk, Najaf, and Karbala.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It is shaping up to be a very bad year for the GOP

See article and active links here:

Posted by simon at February 19, 2006 01:54 PM

So, the President starts dropping just a few weeks after an ineffective State of the Union. In some polls he dips below 40 percent, truly dangerous territory. It seems like their years of bad governance has finally caught up with them. That the American people are focusing more on deeds, not words. But can the ruthless pols running the GOP these days turn this thing around and snatch a victory from what could be a near-certain defeat?

Looking at how the year is likely to unfold, it is very hard to see how they turn this thing around.

Let’s drill down a little.

Their strong and resolute leader gets no bounce from his State of the Union, and has now dropped below levels no one thought possible. News in recent days show that the many parallel criminal investigations into GOP leaders are gaining additional momentum, and will likely become a very big problem later this year. Their domestic policy advisor, the quarterback for any major new domestic initiative, resigns suddenly a few days after the State of the Union indicating deeper troubles inside the White House than is commonly understood. Bush's budget is declared dead on arrival by even Republican analysts.

The Medicare prescription drug rollout has been a disaster, with millions of seniors not getting their medicines. Millions who do have the benefit will be hitting the infamous "doughnut hole" for the first time in the months right before the election. Energy costs are more likely to rise than fall this year. Health care costs will continue to rise, further squeezing workers and corporations. The Republicans are deeply divided on the volatile immigration issue, and so far have allowed loony demagogues to define their position. Corporate pension troubles will mount. Economic forecasts predict that national economy will slow later this year.

Bad you say, but what about their ability to exploit their advantages on security issues to help turn the table on Democrats? But what can they point to here? The 9/11 Commission giving their efforts on homeland security Ds and Fs? The rise of terrorism across the world? The incredible failures of the Department of Homeland Security on Katrina? The rise of anti-Americanism throughout Latin America?

Iraq? Just in recent days the Administration lost another one in Iraq, with our candidate for Prime Minister losing to a more religious candidate. The CIA analyst in charge of the intelligence leading up to the War says the Administration went too far, essentially manufacturing their case for war. More photos from Abu Grahib surface and get worldwide coverage. In the Plame affair, Libby fingers Cheney as having ordered the leaks, raising the possibility that both Rove and Cheney could be indicted. Even if Bush pulls out troops this year it is hard to see how Iraq possibly becomes an asset for them this year.

A safer Middle East? Religious zealots dedicated to the destruction of Israel have now gained power in Iran and Palestine. Al Qaeda operatives convicted for the bombing an American warship in Yemen "escape" from prison, and now on the loose. Things seem to be getting much worse there, not better.

Domestic warrantless spying? The President has spent perhaps more days this year on this issue than any other. And for what? Is something they really believe will be a big winner this fall? Their Congressional leaders have it made it clear that this program cannot continue without judicial oversight. The White House belief that this is a winner just shows how little they have to work with.

And finally, Cheney. Always a public opinion anchor, he has become an ever bigger liability for the President.

So, how do they turn it around this year?

Don't really see how they do it.

I've been skeptical about the fall elections becoming a 1994-like "change election." But given that in Mid-February the President has dropped below 40 percent, their weak agenda has nowhere to go, foreign policy and security issues are as likely to be as damaging to them as helpful, and the criminal cases against their leadership will spread and deepen, I think even the skeptics have to now acknowledge that 2006 is likely to become an historically bad year for the governing party.

Santorum Exposed AGAIN ...

How Santorum paid for his Va. house...and his Starbucks coffee
See original article, picture of the house and active links...http://www.pnionline.com/dnblog/attytood/archives/002807.html

Last spring, I wrote a post that was highly critical of a New York Times Magazine profile of Sen. Rick Santorum. We thought the piece overplayed his "spiritual" side, and overlooked some inconvenient facts about both his agenda and his ethics that didn't fit the narrative.

A few months later, two great journalists -- Mike Tomasky and Joe Conason of American Prospect magazine -- contacted me and offered an opportunity to take a broader look at Pennsylvania's junior senator. The result is a 6,000 word package that is now finally online.

UPDATE: Please read the entire Prospect article -- it is here! (And here is the sidebar about Santorum's charity.)

UPDATE: You can also see the cover here.

And when the magazine hits the newsstands later this month, you should go to Barnes and Nobles or Borders and buy it, to support more investigative reporting like this. Meanwhile, if you live in Philadelphia you should buy tomorrow's Daily News, which will carry an abridged version.

Here are the highlights, as they will appear in the DN version:

1. Santorum and his wife received a $500,000, five-year mortgage for their Leesburg, Va., home (pictured at top) from a small Philadelphia private bank run by a major campaign donor — even though its stated policy is to make loans only to its “affluent” investors, which the senator is not.

Good-government experts said the mortgage from Philadelphia Trust Co. raises serious questions about Santorum’s conduct at a time when he is the Senate GOP’s point man on ethics reform. They explained it would be a violation of the Senate’s current ethics rules if Santorum received something a regular citizen could not get.

2. A political action committee chaired by Santorum, America’s Foundation, spends less money on direct aid to GOP candidates — its stated purpose — and more on expenditures than similar PACs. And its expenditure reports are littered with scores of unorthodox expenses for a political committee, with charges at coffee and ice cream shops and fast-food joints as well as supermarkets and a home-hardware store.

For example, America’s Foundation made some 66 charges at Starbucks Coffee, almost all in the senator’s hometown of Leesburg, and 94 charges at another D.C.-area vendor, HMS Host. Virginia Davis, the campaign spokeswoman, defended all the charges as campaign related, noting that the senator prefers to meet political aides in coffee shops rather than on Senate property.

3. A little publicized charity founded by Santorum in 2001, called the Operation Good Neighbor Foundation, is not registered here in Pennsylvania, even though the majority of its fundraising and spending takes place here. What’s more, three years of public tax returns show the charity spending just 35.9 percent of the nearly $1 million it raised during that time on charity grants, well below the 75 percent threshold recommended by experts.

Those are the highlights -- there's more on the mortgage after the jump. The whole story will be online tomorrow, and I will direct you there as soon as I can.

Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who now heads Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, said that “anytime he gets something that a regular person couldn’t get, that’s an improper gift” — regardless of any fees or the interest rate.

Officials with Philadelphia Trust have been generous supporters of Santorum’s campaign since the private bank first opened its doors in late 1998. Federal records show the company’s executives, directors and their spouses have donated $24,000 either to the senator’s campaign or to the America’s Foundation PAC. Some $13,000 of that came from the man who signed the mortgage papers — Philadelphia Trust CEO Michael Crofton — and his wife.

Crofton also has been chairman of the board of advisors for Operation Good Neighbor, and records show the bank has donated at least $10,000 to the senator’s charity.

Philadelphia Trust advertises itself as an independent private bank for “affluent investors” — who have liquid assets of at least $250,000 — and for institutions. On its Web site, it states that its “\[b\]anking services are available only to investment advisory clients whose portfolios we manage, oversee or administer.” A call to the bank confirmed that mortgages are only for investors and not the general public
According to a review of the annual financial disclosure forms that Santorum files, he has never held an investment portfolio with Philadelphia Trust. And in 2002, the year he obtained the mortgage, the value range he gave for his small number of investments could not have exceeded $140,000.

The Pennsylvania senator had bought the Virginia home, some 43 miles from Capitol Hill, a year earlier for $643,361, and — according to Loudoun County property records — had received a $405,000 mortgage from a traditional lender. The 2002 refinancing with Philadelphia Trust exceeded the initial loan by $95,000.

The chairman of Philadelphia Trust — George Marlin, a onetime Conservative Party candidate for mayor of New York — said discussing any customer’s transaction would violate bank privacy laws, and Crofton did not return phone calls. A bank director, Karen Iacovelli, also would not answer questions in detail, but when pressed on whether the bank does loan business with non-investment customers, she said “Yes and no — it’s a judgment call.”

Court Sanctioned Torture now ?

Judge dismisses Canadian deportation suit



NEW YORK -- A federal judge has tossed out a civil rights lawsuit filed by a Syrian-born Canadian man who claimed U.S. counterterrorism officials deported him so he could be tortured in Syria.

Maher Arar had sued the officials in 2004 in what was believed to be the first case challenging extraordinary rendition - the policy of transferring foreign terror suspects to third countries without court approval.

U.S. District Judge David G. Trager rejected arguments that Arar was protected by the Torture Victim Prevention Act, which allows U.S. courts to assess damages for human rights abuses committed abroad.

Trager said that as a non-citizen, Arar couldn't demonstrate that he has a viable cause of action under that statute.

Citing "the national security and foreign policy considerations at stake," the judge said Arar had no grounds in a U.S. court to claim his constitutional right to due process was violated.

Arar, 35, holds dual Syrian-Canadian citizenship and was traveling on a Canadian passport when he was stopped in New York during a layover while returning to Canada from Tunisia. He was held for 12 days before being sent to Syria on suspicion of being a member of al-Qaida, an allegation he denies.

Arar maintains that once imprisoned in Damascus, he was tortured into making false confessions of terrorist activity. Arar said he was held for more than a year in a dark, damp cell, then was released without ever being charged.

The U.S. Justice Department has insisted that it had information linking Arar to al-Qaida, that Syria promised he would be treated humanely and that shipping him there was "in the best interest of the security of the United States." Syria has denied he was tortured.

Justice Department officials were pleased with the judge's ruling, spokesman Charles Miller said.

Attorneys for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which filed the lawsuit on Arar's behalf, said the ruling set a disturbing precedent.

"To allow the Bush administration to evade accountability and continue to hide behind a smoke screen of 'national security' is to do grave and irreparable damage to the Constitution and the guarantee of human rights that people in this country could once be proud of," attorney Maria LaHood said.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Paul Pillar's Foreign Affairs article...

From: www.firedoglake.blogspot.com
See active links at this blog. Take the time to read Paul Pillar's article;

I spent my spare time this weekend reading through Paul Pillar's Foreign Affairs article (http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060301faessay85202/paul-r-pillar/intelligence-policy-and-the-war-in-iraq.html , and I have to say, it was worth every moment that I spent on it and them some. Pillar's assessment of the mistakes leading up to the Iraq War and the Administration's subsequent missteps in post-war planning and operations -- including to today -- are essential reading for those of us who have been trying to make sense of the mess we see in the headlines.
The Bush administration's use of intelligence on Iraq did not just blur this distinction; it turned the entire model upside down. The administration used intelligence not to inform decision-making, but to justify a decision already made. It went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq. (The military made extensive use of intelligence in its war planning, although much of it was of a more tactical nature.) Congress, not the administration, asked for the now-infamous October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's unconventional weapons programs, although few members of Congress actually read it. (According to several congressional aides responsible for safeguarding the classified material, no more than six senators and only a handful of House members got beyond the five-page executive summary.) As the national intelligence officer for the Middle East, I was in charge of coordinating all of the intelligence community's assessments regarding Iraq; the first request I received from any administration policymaker for any such assessment was not until a year into the war. (emphasis mine)
I highlight this specific passage because it is a theme that we have seen time and again with the Bush Administration. From Paul O'Neill to Richard Clark to Lawrence Wilkerson and now to Pillar: the Administration had a desired outcome -- war with Saddam Hussein -- and was willing to bend whatever rules, information, and planning that was necessary to achieve that outcome. Ends justifies the means.

There has been a substantial amount of discussion in the last week regarding this Administration's lack of support for candor -- and the President and his staff's repudiation of criticism, even from within their circle of supporters. (The most recent article on the subject was raised by none other than GOP mouthpiece Bob Novak, highlighted here last night.) Without some mechanism for internal criticism, some check and balance on the inside of the process wherein important decisions are made, how is it that mistaken decisions are to be refined or poor judgments to be called for what they are?

Glenn Greenwald has a couple of superb posts up regarding the Administration's illegal NSA domestic spying and foreign policy concerns that deserve a read and some thought on the Democratic end of things.

If I have any quibble with Glenn it is this: on the NSA domestic spying issue, the reason that Republicans keep bringing up having a new law when there is a perfecvtly good one on the books is that, logically, if they admit that FISA is workable as it is, then they must admit that the Administration has been breaking the law all along. The thought that a new law is necessary to fix things is the red herring that the Administration apologists in Congress must keep bringing up -- otherwise, they must admit, both to themselves and publicly, that the President has repeatedly broken the law. Which brings up an entire mess of legal and impeachment issues that none of them want to touch -- it's the third rail for them -- and thus the straw man of a need for a new law to fix the non-broken system.

What I want to emphasize, though, is the importance of continuing pressure on your members in both the House and Senate on this issue. Laura Rozen caught an interesting piece in Pat Roberts' hometown newspaper that may explain, more than anything else, his shifting public statements about oversight or not from the Senate Intelligence Committee. And Olympia Snowe's and Chuck Hegel's and a whole mess of other shifting perspectives over the weekend.

Republican politicos have perfected the art of base mobilization on message in hometown newspapers and on small town talk radio. Progressives need to use this more and more -- to point out that not only is there a counter-argument, but that these sentiments are alive and well in every home town in America. Why not take the apparatus they've set up and use it against them?

That feeling of community that each of us gets from coming to this blog or to other progressive blogs, that feeling that "you are not alone" is a temporary fix -- but the fact of the matter is that you are NOT alone, that there are more of us out there than the media ever lets on, and that if we all stood up and spoke our minds, there would be a sea change in the local opinion pages and on the talk radio shows in all our towns.

Just imagine it. And contemplate the pressure we could all, individually and collectively, bring to bear on issues like:

-- Pat Roberts' doing the President's dirty work by once again blocking any investigation of illegal activity by the Administration. (NYTimes)

-- White House effectively bribing members of COngress not to investigate their illegal domestic spying programs. (WaPo)

-- White House hasn't bothered to staff the commission established to safeguard inidividual rights and liberties because they don't acre enough about them to even make the effort. (LATimes)

-- Senior military officials warned that Administration policies would lead to torture and worse, and the Pentagon and WH ignored their assessments. (WaPo and NYTimes)

And those are only a few examples in the foreign policy arena. Imagine how effective this could be on a whole host of economic, domestic and other issues across the broad spectrum of Adminsitration incompetence and lies and Orwellian spin? If everyone who reads here every day was responsible for one letter every couple of weeks -- that is reaching a whole host of people in a whole lot of towns all across America.

Most people I know here in my town don't read the major national newspapers. They read our local paper. And every day in that paper, some wingnut writes in a nonsensical rant. Isn't it about time we start pushing back? One letter, one phone call, one day at a time. Talking about things from our own perspective, how poor decisions from this Administration have badly impacted our own lives, in our own towns. Hitting people where they live, with facts and information they can understand...and discuss around the watercooler or in the break room.

They wanted a war -- well, let's give them one.

Jihad....the new Conservative buzzword ?

Matalin Trots Out The J-Word All Too Easily

If you watched Meet the Press Sunday morning, you got to see a prime example of how this administration’s defenders manage to equate criticism and dissent with terrorism. David Gregory from NBC News, as well as Maureen Dowd of the NYT were on the panel, along with Mrs. James Carville, Mary Matalin. Gregory was commenting on Shooter’s problems last week and the way his staff did what they damn well pleased in responding, when Matalin lapsed into that pathetic “you criticize us, you are a terrorist” mindset all too easily.

And remember, this is coming from someone involved in outing a CIA agent.

David: there was disagreement and Mary well knows within the White House how this was handled--There were some WH officials who told me this week, it made the President look bad-it raised questions about who is running the rodeo in the White House.

Dowd: This allowed us to see how his behavior and judgment operated in real time-It covered all the problems of the Bush/Cheney administration-secrecy and stonewalling- then blowing off the rules that are at the heart of our democracy-then using a filter to try and put the truth out in a way that would most suit their political needs and then bad political judgment in bungling a crisis.
Matalin: It strikes you as odd (Gregory) because you live in a parallel universe--
Gregory: If the vice president did everything right by disclosing it the way he did-then why did you do a big national interview this week?
Mary: Because you went on a jihad, David-four day jihad-
David: That's an unfortunate use of that word by the way..
Mary: Oh, OK...were you saving up for that line?
Dowd: Mary, it isn't only the press people. He blows off the FISA courts, he blows off the Geneva conventions, he blows off the UN to go to Iraq, he wants to blow off everything. He's got a fever about presidential erosion just the way he had a fever about going into Iraq.

So Matalin thinks that the media holding Cheney accountable for his inactions amounts to a “jihad?” And who was saving up for what line? It was Matalin who said something stupid.

You can write Timmeh here ( mtp@nbc.com) and ask him why he allows Matalin to equate a free press with Islamic terrorism, and you can write Jimmy Carville ( james@carville.info) and ask him if he shares her views.

It also goes without saying that by adopting Matalin's patriotism test, every damn thing she and the right wing said against Clinton would similarly fall into a "jihad", would it not?

R.I.P. Laurel Hester...you did good

Lieutenant Who Won Pension Rights for Her Domestic Partner Dies at 49

Published: February 20, 2006
A New Jersey police lieutenant who last month won a long campaign to pass on pension benefits to her domestic partner died on Saturday.

The lieutenant, Laurel Hester, 49, had lung cancer, and her battle with the disease lent her cause a profound urgency as the Ocean County freeholders repeatedly refused to consider a resolution allowing county law enforcement employees to designate someone other than a spouse as a pension beneficiary.

The freeholders reversed their position on Jan. 25 after negotiations led to a statewide change in the rules, allowing police and fire department employees to name anyone, not just a spouse, as a beneficiary.

Lieutenant Hester died in the house in Point Pleasant that she owned with her partner, Stacie Andree. "I can't help but feel relieved that she's not in pain anymore and she's going to be taken care of," Ms. Andree said yesterday. "She's done a lot of good."

Lieutenant Hester began her career with the Ocean County prosecutor's office in 1982, said Dane Wells, who worked as her partner in the prosecutor's office. She was placed on sick leave in the fall of 2004, Mr. Wells said, and officially retired last month.

Ms. Andree, 30, said she met Lieutenant Hester six years ago, and they registered as domestic partners on Oct. 28, 2004. But under pension rules, police and fire employees could name domestic partners as beneficiaries only with the approval of county officials.

On Jan. 18, Lieutenant Hester appeared on a videotape during a freeholders meeting asking for "a change for good."

The pension would allow Ms. Andree, a mechanic, to keep their house, she said that day.

When, the following week, the freeholders met to approve the change in benefits, Lieutenant Hester appeared in a wheelchair and removed an oxygen tube to thank the freeholders.

"You have made yourselves an example of what democracy is all about," she said.

Her condition rapidly declined after the meeting, Ms. Andree said.

U.S. Church Alliance Denounces Iraq War

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil -- A coalition of American churches sharply denounced the U.S.-led war in Iraq on Saturday, accusing Washington of "raining down terror" and apologizing to other nations for "the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown."

The statement, issued at the largest gathering of Christian churches in nearly a decade, also warned the United States was pushing the world toward environmental catastrophe with a "culture of consumption" and its refusal to back international accords seeking to battle global warming.

"We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights," said the statement from representatives of the 34 U.S. members of World Council of Churches. "We mourn all who have died or been injured in this war. We acknowledge with shame abuses carried out in our name."

The World Council of Churches includes more than 350 mainstream Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox churches; the Roman Catholic Church is not a member. The U.S. groups in the WCC include the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, several Orthodox churches and Baptist denominations, among others.

The statement is part of widening religious pressure on the Bush administration, which still counts on the support of evangelical churches and other conservative denominations but is widely unpopular with liberal-minded Protestant congregations.

The Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, the moderator for the U.S. group of WCC members, said the letter was backed by the leaders of the churches but was not cleared by lower-level bodies. He predicted friction within congregations about the tone of the message.

"There is much internal anguish and there is division," said Kishkovsky, ecumenical officer of the Orthodox Church of America. "I believe church leaders and communities are wrestling with the moral questions that this letter is addressing."

On Friday, the U.S. National Council of Churches - which includes many WCC members - released a letter appealing to Washington to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and saying reports of alleged torture violated "the fundamental Christian belief in the dignity of the human person."

The two-page statement from the WCC group came at the midpoint of a 10-day meeting of more than 4,000 religious leaders, scholars and activists discussing trends and goals for major Christian denominations for the coming decades. The WCC's last global assembly was in 1998 in Zimbabwe - just four months after al-Qaida staged twin bombings at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

"Our country responded (to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks) by seeking to reclaim a privileged and secure place in the world, raining down terror on the truly vulnerable among our global neighbors ... entering into imperial projects that seek to dominate and control for the sake of national interests," said the statement. "Nations have been demonized and God has been enlisted in national agendas that are nothing short of idolatrous."

The Rev. Sharon Watkins, president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), worried that some may interpret the statement as undermining U.S. troops in Iraq.

"We honor their courage and sense of duty, but ... we, as people of faith, have to say to our brothers and sisters, `We are so profoundly sorry,'" Watkins said.

The message also accused U.S. officials of ignoring warnings about climate change and treating the world's "finite resources as if they are private possessions." It went on to criticize U.S. domestic policies for refusing to confront racism and poverty.

"Hurricane Katrina revealed to the world those left behind in our own nation by the rupture of our social contract," said the statement.

The churches said they had "grown heavy with guilt" for not doing enough to speak out against the Iraq war and other issues. The statement asked forgiveness for a world that's "grown weary from the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown."


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bush is unpopular across the country...

Active links at: www.crooksandliars.com

Bush is unpopular across the entire country

One of the most under-discussed and under-appreciated political facts is the depth and intensity of George Bush's unpopularity in this country. It isn't just that his approval ratings have fallen into the 30's again, although that is significant. More significant still is the fact that Americans disapprove of his performance in every region in the country, and in almost every state.

This 50-state polling chart compiled by USA Survey is quite telling. Bush's approval rating is above 50% in only 6 states in the entire country, and Texas is not one of them. In 40 out of 50 states -- 80% of the country -- more people disapprove of Bush than approve of him.

Most revealing is Bush's intense and pervasive unpopularity in Ohio, the state which swung the election in his favor. People in Ohio disapprove of Bush's performance by an amazingly lopsided margin of 37-60%. Apparently, they're not happy that they have no jobs, their kids have no health insurance, their neighbors have been stuck and are being killed in an increasingly unpopular, endless and senseless war in Iraq, and the President is surrounded by cronyism and corruption and thinks he has the power to break the law. But at least gay couples can't get married, so that's good.

While large numbers of Ohioans became convinced in 2004 that the all-consuming, paramount gay marriage issue compensated for all of the corruption and ineptitude of the Administration, it looks like they -- along with the rest of the country -- have changed their minds and have realized that this Presidency is a disaster for our country in every way that matters.

---posted by Glenn Greenwald

I Just Love This !!!!!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Humans are the virus

Greenland is melting
by Joe in DC - 2/16/2006 10:15:00 PM

Every week, it seems there is more evidence of the impact of global warming. And, there seems to be an increased intensity with the new information. The Washington Post see here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/16/AR2006021601292.html has another article on a dire environmental report -- this one on Greenland's melting glaciers:
Greenland's glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed, the result of a warming trend that renders obsolete predictions of how quickly the Earth's oceans will rise over the next century, scientists said yesterday.

The new data come from satellite imagery and give fresh urgency to worries about the role of human activity in global warming. The Greenland data is mirrored by findings from Bolivia to the Himalayas, scientists said, noting that rising sea levels threaten widespread flooding and severe storm damage in low-lying areas worldwide.
Meanwhile, the Bush Administration ignores reality and science. Bush is creating quite a legacy for himself.

We slaughter horses too. To help stop this horror go to www.hsus.org and sign the petition. I don't recommend you watch the video unless you have a strong stomach. This is barbaric and horrific - a derby winner has even suffered this.

Canada is just as guilty and it should be stopped there as well. http://www.humanesociety.com/

Friday, February 17, 2006

Outsourcing our Security now.....

Lawmakers Urge Greater Review of UAE Firm's Deal to Run Six U.S. Ports
Friday, February 17, 2006
By Sharon Kehnemui Liss

WASHINGTON — Questioning the United Arab Emirates' track record in the War on Terror, seven U.S. lawmakers said Thursday they want a committee led by Treasury Secretary John Snow to thoroughly review a deal that would let a UAE-based firm run six major U.S. ports.
"We're calling for the full six-week investigation. It's a serious investigation and the reason why this is critical is while maybe there's nothing wrong with this company, how do we know they're not infiltrated?" asked Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "The United Arab Emirates has had people involved in terrorism. In fact, some of its financial institutions laundered the money for the (Sept, 11) terrorists. And to just blithely go ahead and treat this as another economic transaction is all wrong."
Currently, London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., the fourth largest port operator in the world, runs the six ports. But the $6.8 million sale of P&O to UAE-owned Dubai Ports World (DPW) would effectively turn over North American operations to the government-owned company in Dubai.
If the approval is unchallenged, Dubai Ports World would run the ports of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.
On Monday, the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), chaired by Snow, approved the P&O sale. The committee conducted a 30-day review, according to lawmakers

Thursday, February 16, 2006

John Cleese's Letter to America

To the citizens of the United States of America:

In light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. Her Sovereign Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories (excepting Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new prime minister, Tony Blair, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium," and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour', 'favour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix "ize" will be replaced by the suffix "ise."

You will learn that the suffix 'burgh' is pronounced 'burra'; you may elect to respell Pittsburgh as 'Pittsberg' if you find you simply can't cope with correct pronunciation.

Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels (look up "vocabulary"). Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.

2. There is no such thing as "US English." We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of "-ize."

3. You will relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen", but only after fully carrying out Task #1 (see above).

4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but to be celebrated only in England. It will be called "Come-Uppance Day."

5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

7. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric immediately and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

8. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling "gasoline") -roughly $6/US gallon. Get used to it.

9. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called "crisps." Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with ketchup but with vinegar.

10. Waiters and waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

11. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as "beer," and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as "Lager." American brands will be referred to as "Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine," so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

12. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in "Four Weddings and a Funeral" was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

13. You will cease playing American "football." There is only one kind of proper football; you call it "soccer." Those of you brave enough will, in time, will be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American "football", but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the "World Series" for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable.

14. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

15. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due backdated to 1776.

Thank you for your co-operation.

John Cleese

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Scalia Calls Philosophical Foes 'Idiots'

Conservative Justice Dismisses Proponents of 'Living Constitution'


PONCE, Puerto Rico (Feb. 14) - People who believe the Constitution would break if it didn't change with society are "idiots," U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says.

In a speech Monday sponsored by the conservative Federalist Society, Scalia defended his long-held belief in sticking to the plain text of the Constitution "as it was originally written and intended."

"Scalia does have a philosophy, it's called originalism," he said. "That's what prevents him from doing the things he would like to do," he told more than 100 politicians and lawyers from this U.S. island territory.

According to his judicial philosophy, he said, there can be no room for personal, political or religious beliefs.

Scalia criticized those who believe in what he called the "living Constitution."

"That's the argument of flexibility and it goes something like this: The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break."

"But you would have to be an idiot to believe that," Scalia said. "The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."

Proponents of the living constitution want matters to be decided "not by the people, but by the justices of the Supreme Court."

"They are not looking for legal flexibility, they are looking for rigidity, whether it's the right to abortion or the right to homosexual activity, they want that right to be embedded from coast to coast and to be unchangeable," he said.

Scalia was invited to Puerto Rico by the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. The organization was founded in 1982 as a debating society by students who believed professors at the top law schools were too liberal. Conservatives and libertarians mainly make up the 35,000 members.