Independent Christian Voice

Monday

Thousands of evacuees face eviction

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — Two months after Hurricane Katrina displaced more than 1 million people, problems with federal housing aid threaten to spawn a new wave of homelessness.

In Texas, thousands of evacuees who found shelter in apartments face eviction threats because rents are going unpaid.

In Louisiana, some evacuees are beginning to show up in homeless shelters because they haven't received federal aid or don't know how to get it.

Advocates for the poor say the situation will worsen this winter.

> more

Now that the crisis is off our TV, the administration has no incentive to solve the plight of these repeatedly victimized people.

"Activist" judges: Who are they?

From an op-ed piece in the July 6, 2005 edition of The New York Times:

WHEN Democrats or Republicans seek to criticize judges or judicial nominees, they often resort to the same language. They say that the judge is "activist." But the word "activist" is rarely defined. Often it simply means that the judge makes decisions with which the critic disagrees.

In order to move beyond this labeling game, we've identified one reasonably objective and quantifiable measure of a judge's activism, and we've used it to assess the records of the justices on the current Supreme Court.

Here is the question we asked: How often has each justice voted to strike down a law passed by Congress?

We found that justices vary widely in their inclination to strike down Congressional laws. Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by President George H. W. Bush, was the most inclined, voting to invalidate 65.63 percent of those laws; Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Bill Clinton, was the least, voting to invalidate 28.13 percent. The tally for all the justices appears below.

  • Thomas 65.63 %
  • Kennedy 64.06 %
  • Scalia 56.25 %
  • Rehnquist 46.88 %
  • O’Connor 46.77 %
  • Souter 42.19 %
  • Stevens 39.34 %
  • Ginsburg 39.06 %
  • Breyer 28.13 %

One conclusion our data suggests is that those justices often considered more "liberal" - Justices Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens - vote least frequently to overturn Congressional statutes, while those often labeled "conservative" vote more frequently to do so. At least by this measure (others are possible, of course), the latter group is the most activist.

> Read the entire piece

Conservatives and the GOP throw around the phrase "activist judge" as the nudge-nudge, wink-wink code word to mean "bad, liberal" judge. "Activist" and "liberal" are synonymous in their eyes. And "liberal" is synonymous (to them) with "immoral," "anti-Christian" and "unpatriotic." But, as is usually the case, their minds are made up so don't confuse them with the facts. (Thanks to kos for pointing me to this piece.)

More troops, more deaths

From the Associated Press:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Capping the bloodiest month for American troops since January, the U.S. military reported Monday that seven more U.S. service members were killed — all victims of increasingly sophisticated bombs that have been become the deadliest weapon in the insurgents' arsenal. … the military has raised the number of American troops in Iraq to 157,000 — among the highest levels of the Iraq conflict. …The U.S. military death toll for October is now at least 92, the highest monthly total since January, when 106 American service members died — more than 30 of them in a helicopter crash that was ruled an accident. Only during two other months since the war began has the U.S. military seen a higher toll: in November 2004, when 137 Americans died, and in April 2004, when 135 died.

The latest deaths brought to 2,026 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003. The number includes five military civilians.

The ongoing violence has killed a far greater number of Iraqis.

> Read full article

Is this progress? More troops now in Iraq? Increasing casualties? Interestingly enough, the highest monthly death tolls have all been since "Mission Accomplished"? What mission was accomplished? And yet, the managers of this war are still managing this war even after their continued inept management. I guess that's what loyalty amongst friends is all about; sticking with people even in the midst of their miserable failures. That makes a good friend, but not a good national leader. Fire them all!

GOP hypocrisy when it comes to judicial philosophy

John in DC over at AMERICAblog makes an observation about the latest GOP rhetoric regarding the latest SCOTUS nominee:
Lindsey Graham must be feeling some heat because he's crawled back under his arch-conservative rock of late. His quote in today's NYT is cute, but absurdly hypocritical, considering the GOP just torpedoes Harriet Miers because she wasn't far-right conservative enough.
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, fired back Sunday, saying that if the Democrats staged a filibuster against Judge Alito or Judge Luttig because of their conservatism, "the filibuster will not stand."
You see, Republicans can shoot you down for being "liberal," and they can shoot you down for being conservative but not far-right extremist conservative. But if Democrats have concerns about which way you lean politically, well that's just uncalled for.
They are so blinded by their partisanship and/or pathological, delusional self-deception, they can't or refuse to see their own hypocrisy. I can't even believe I used to be a Republican. I'm truly ashamed.

A nation divided — again

In reading many online blogs on both the right and the left, it's clear that the "uniter, not a divider" president has done is once again polarize the country, energizing the activists on both wings. Both sides will be villified by the other. What is clear is that the president once again chose someone to appease his far right base at the expense of the rest of the country, both in the center and on the left. Bravo, Mr. President. We need another good fight — like we need another hurricane. Let the mud-slinging, misrepresentations, half-truths and distortions begin. Another bloody process begins. I am sick of it already and it's only 7 hours old.

Iraq: Can't finish what we started?

From The New York Times:

As the money runs out on the $30 billion American-financed reconstruction of Iraq, the officials in charge cannot say how many planned projects they will complete, and there is no clear source for hundreds of millions of dollars a year needed to operate the projects that have been finished, according to a report to Congress released yesterday.

The report, by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, describes some progress but also an array of projects that have gone awry, sometimes astonishingly, like electrical substations that were built at great cost but never connected to the country's electrical grid.

With more than 93 percent of the American money now committed to specific projects, it could become increasingly difficult to solve those problems.

Issues like those "should have been considered before," said Jim Mitchell, a spokesman for the inspector general's office. "It's very critical right now, with so little of the U.S. money left to be committed, that they're going to have to make these determinations very quickly."

> more

"Issues like those 'should have been considered before'…" Sounds to me like a recurring theme within this administration. The president and his cronies' unfettered optimism blinds them to the realities of the world. There seemed to have been little consideration of potential issues that could occur as a result of our invasion of Iraq. It's kind of like there was little consideration about issues surrounding the appointment of an unqualified Brown to a critical post — FEMA director; and there was little consideration about the ramifications of selecting an underqualified Miers as nominee to the Supreme Court. And there seems to have been little consideration to the long-term issues of out-of-control spending and record deficits to our country's future. In short, thinking seems to be a difficult exercise for Bush and his administration.

NBC's conflict of interest

From David Sirota:
Over at the Huffington Post, Dan Carol asks a great question: how can NBC's Pete Williams be allowed to cover the Scooter Libby story for the network, considering Williams was a longtime former staffer for Dick Cheney?

That's right – according to Williams' biography on NBC's website, Williams is "a native of Casper, Wyoming" – where Cheney is from. In 1986, Williams "joined the Washington, DC staff of then Congressman Dick Cheney as press secretary and a legislative assistant. In 1989, when Cheney was named Assistant Secretary of Defense, Williams was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs."

Now Williams is being allowed to report on the indictment of Cheney's chief of staff for NBC News, as if he was just a regular old nonpartisan objective journalist. And, as Carol points out, Williams seems to be using his position on TV in some pretty questionable ways when it comes to the case.

> more

NBC News should know better. It's a clear conflict of interest. If a judge were in the same position, the media (including NBC News) would be crying foul. They need to hold themselves — the self-described objective observers/reporters of events and crusaders for truth — to the same standard. Tim Russert is a central figure in the leak investigation, former Cheney staffer Pete Williams is a reporter of the leak investigation... maybe NBC News is a little too close to this news story.

Sunday

Myths of New Orleans: Poor, Bad Blacks -- Who Got What They Deserved

An excellent, must-read essay by Arthur Silber at Once Upon A Time:
…The fable peddled after 9/11 addressed questions dealing with the entire world. The wake of Hurricane Katrina unmasked a corollary to this tale. This time, the storyline was contained within our own borders -- but it was no less ugly for that. In fact, the domestic fable that has taken hold in large parts of our media and among many so-called "respectable" intellectuals has confirmed that ancient hatreds have never left us. Those hatreds reveal the most virulent form of racism -- and they ought to give pause to all those who champion the kind of "civilization" they contend we are morally justified in exporting by means of missiles, bombs and bullets. What is most horrifying about the tenacity of these prejudices is the immense extent to which they are contradicted by the facts. But when people are ruled by fear and by the demands of a false belief in their own superiority, facts are easily dispensed with, if they are even considered in the first instance. We have no reason to be surprised by these recent revelations: in a culture where peddlers of racist propaganda like Charles Murray and Michelle Malkin are accorded numerous opportunities to spew their ignorance and blatant falsehoods to huge audiences, prejudice and unreasoning hatred are not merely a comparatively insignificant adjunct to the discussion: they are the staples of our diet. We ought to recognize the lethality of such a diet: if we do not seek to alter it and bring it into accord with the facts, it will finally kill us. > Read entire post
Outstanding piece! I wish everyone would take the time to read it.

Army dumped unused WMDs into the sea

From The Morning Call:
Millions of pounds of unused weapons of mass destruction were dumped in oceans before Congress banned the practice in 1972. The threat is still out there, and may be growing. A clam dredging operation off the coast of Atlantic City, N.J., in 2004 pulled up an old artillery shell. The long-submerged, World War I-era explosive was filled with a black, tar-like substance. Bomb disposal technicians from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware were brought in to dismantle it. Three of them were injured, one hospitalized with large, pus-filled blisters on his arm and hand. The shell was filled with mustard gas in solid form. What was long-feared by the few military officials in the know had come to pass: Chemical weapons that the Army dumped at sea decades ago had finally ended up on shore in the United States. While it has long been known that some chemical weapons went into the ocean, records obtained by the Daily Press of Newport News, Va., show that the previously classified weapons-dumping program was far more extensive than has ever been suspected. The Army now admits in reports never before released that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard gas agent into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste either tossed overboard or packed into the holds of scuttled vessels. > more
These are crimes against humanity. And yet, there will be no accountability. What else is our government doing that we don't know about that could come back to haunt us in the future. This is why we need an open and accountable government. This type of behavior is outrageous, unacceptable and criminal.

In light of OU Bombing coverage, columnist claims blog hysteria does real harm

From an op-ed piece in today's Boston Globe:

ON OCT. 1, a tragedy shocked the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman: 21-year-old engineering student Joel Henry Hinrichs III killed himself with a homemade bomb while sitting on a bench about 100 yards away from the university's football stadium, packed with 84,000 fans. Since then, this sad event has mushroomed into a story that touches on some important and controversial issues: vigilance and paranoia in the age of terrorism, and journalistic ethics in the age of the ''new media."

Within days of Hinrichs's death, a number of Internet websites were speculating that he had planned to blow himself up inside the stadium -- and that he was a radical Muslim terrorist. Blog headlines screamed, ''Jihad at the University of Oklahoma?" and ''The Oklahoma Suicide Bomber." Bloggers demanded to know why the mainstream media were ignoring the story, and some supplied a ready answer: The liberals in the media were afraid to ''offend the gods of political correctness" -- as syndicated columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin put it -- by calling attention to Islamic terrorism on US soil.

…This is not an issue of ''mainstream media good, blogs bad." I love blogs; I've had one myself for the past month. I think ''citizen journalists" can do a great job complementing the mainstream media, providing much needed outside fact-checking and analysis, and in some cases newsgathering as well. It's not a matter of credentials, either: One of the worst offenders in flogging the ''suicide bomber" story, Malkin, is a professional journalist.

…If the ''citizen journalists" want respect, they must hold themselves and one another to higher standards of accuracy.

> Read entire piece
As a former journalist, I'm all for maintain high standards of accuracy. However, most bloggers that I read were asking more questions than simply acting as reporters of fact. There were some who were perpetuating rumors as facts, but you get that with any form of communication. But it is the responsibility of media sources that claim to be journalists and news agencies to maintain these high standards of accuracy and journalistic integrity in their own communications. Given everything that has happened in the last five years in the field of journalism, it's a little disingenuous to be criticizing "citizen journalists" when there have been so many egregious lapses of standards amongst professional journalists in recent years. "Citizen journalists" are lay journalists, few of whom have studied journalism standards. These so-called "citizen journalists" will be judged by their accuracy by their readers, just like other commentators (including bloviating radio talk show and cable news network show hosts) are. People will determine if they believe what the see or hear and determine if the source is worth coming back to. It's the part of "free exchange of ideas" that gets tricky. With such a "free exchange" you'll get ideas with lots of merit and some with very little merit. It's up to the hearers of such ideas to judge it for themselves. We can' arbitrarily set standards as to what is acceptable ideas in such a "free exchange." I agree with the general premise that people should be careful with what they say, and that people like Malkin who claim to be professional journalists should hold themselves to a higher standard. However, holding the average "citizen journalist" blogger to that same standard is unrealistic and unreasonable.

2016

IN MEMORIAM: (Names released this week)
Michael T. Robertson, 28, Army Sergeant, Oct 25, 2005
Benjamin D. Hoeffner, 21, Army Reserve Corporal, Oct 25, 2005
Christopher T. Monroe, 19, Army Reserve Specialist, Oct 25, 2005
Ramon A. Acevedoaponte, 51, Army Sergeant 1st Class, Oct 26, 2005
Thomas A. Wallsmith, 38, Army Master Sergeant, Oct 26, 2005
Evan S. Parker, 25, Army Reserve Sergeant, Oct 26, 2005
James Witkowski, 32, Army Reserve Sergeant, Oct 26, 2005
Michael J. Mackinnon, 30, Army Captain, Oct 27, 2005
William Wood, 44, Army Lieutenant Colonel, Oct 27, 2005
Daniel R. Lightner Jr., 28, Army National Guard Staff Sergeant, Oct 27, 2005
Robert F. Eckfield Jr., 23, Marine Lance Corporal, Oct 27, 2005
Jared J. Kremm, 24, Marine Lance Corporal, Oct 27, 2005 U.S. Deaths Confirmed By The DoD: 2011 Reported U.S. Deaths Pending DoD Confirmation: 5 DoD Confirmation List Latest Coalition Fatality: Oct 29, 2005

LIGHTER SIDE: Useless personal trivia

Hat tip to Dustbury for this exercise for the useless information addicts.

According to this, a majority of Americans:

  • Eats peanut butter at least once a week
  • Prefers smooth peanut butter over chunky
  • Can name all Three Stooges (plus Shemp)
  • Lives within a 20-minute drive of a Wal-Mart
  • Eats at McDonald's at least once a year (on average, at least once each month)
  • Takes a shower for approximately 10.4 minutes a day (usually more than five and less than 10)
  • Never sings in the shower
  • Lives in a house, not an apartment or condominium
  • Has a home valued between $100,000 and $300,000
  • Has fired a gun
  • Is between 5 feet and 6 feet tall
  • Weighs 135 to 205 pounds
  • Is between the ages of 18 and 53
  • Believes gambling is an acceptable entertainment option (entertainment, yes; financial planning, no)
  • Grew up within 50 miles of current home
I guess I'm less than average — but I already knew that.

Changing of the guard? Could Bush administration look different next year?

Time magazine says there's a possibility there could be a shake-up in the cards:
You have to wonder sometimes why Presidents even run for re-election, given how things usually turn out. Second terms have a way of veering into wild and menacing terrain, spiked with indictments and scandals and betrayal and grief. Some friends become less friendly because they know you are on your way to retirement while they are on their way to the next campaign. Your team gets tired, the ideas stale, and the fumes of power more toxic. It was through those badlands that President George W. Bush trudged last week, and for once he was walking alone. "The problem is that the President doesn't want to make changes," says a White House adviser who is not looking for a West Wing job, "but he's lost some of his confidence in the three people he listens to the most." Those three are his Vice President, Dick Cheney, whose top aide, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, has been charged with brazenly obstructing the investigation into who leaked the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame; Bush senior adviser Karl Rove, who while not indicted has still emerged as a player in the scandal; and chief of staff Andrew Card, who gets some of the blame for bungling the response to Hurricane Katrina and even more for the botched Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers. … What no one can know but everyone can spin is whether this week marked a point of no return or a turning point. Top advisers have all but written off the rest of the year as a loss. The aim is to relaunch Bush's presidency in January with a new agenda rolled out in his State of the Union address, now that Social Security reform lies crumpled in a ditch. But to do that, he would need to adapt the style and system that served him well for four years but has now demonstrably failed; add new blood to a team that functions as a palace guard but not as an early-warning system or idea factory; and summon the charisma from his days as a candidate to reconnect with Americans in what has become his last campaign. > Read full article
If the president wants to salvage the remainder of his presidency — and his legacy — and try to bring a fresh new vision for our country, the following key people need to go:
  • Vice President Dick Cheney
  • Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove
  • Chief of Staff Andrew Card
  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
  • Secretary of Treasury John Snow
  • White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan
  • UN Ambassador John Bolton
And he needs to re-read his original campaign speeches and promises. Perhaps if he actually tried to live up to those, he might turn out to be a respectable president: "uniter, not a divider"... "compassionate conservative" … "a higher standard" … etc., etc.

Americans question Bush ethics; approval drops to new low

From The Washington Post:
The poll, conducted Friday night and yesterday, found that 55 percent of the public believes the Libby case indicates wider problems "with ethical wrongdoing" in the White House, while 41 percent believes it was an "isolated incident." And by a 3 to 1 ratio, 46 percent to 15 percent, Americans say the level of honesty and ethics in the government has declined rather than risen under Bush. In the aftermath of the latest crisis to confront the White House, Bush's overall job approval rating has fallen to 39 percent, the lowest of his presidency in Post-ABC polls. Barely a third of Americans -- 34 percent -- think Bush is doing a good job ensuring high ethics in government, which is slightly lower than President Bill Clinton's standing on this issue when he left office. > Read full article
Keep in mind, as noted previously here on this blog, this president came into office promising a higher standard. In 2001, he said:
First, we must always maintain the highest ethical standards. We must always ask ourselves not only what is legal, but what is right. There is no goal of government worth accomplishing if it cannot be accomplished with integrity.
Instead, arrogance of power has led to even greater lapses of ethics as this administration has lived by the standard of "the end justify the means." Truth has been the biggest casualty with transparency and accountability following close behind. As Maureen Dowd noted, the grand schemes of this administration end up having the opposite results. The president's grand scheme of bringing a higher standard of ethics and integrity to our federal government has resulted in the polar opposite. His own administration is beseiged by incompetence, corruption, deceit, unaccountability, bitter partisanship and vindictive, strong-armed politics; meanwhile, his own party's leadership in Congress faces its own ethical challenges with their own "hammer" under indictment and their leader in the Senate under investigation. This president wanted to leave a legacy greater than Reagan's, his idol. He will indeed leave a more profound legacy, but it will be a "greater" legacy of shame — more than Clinton and more than Nixon. History will not be kind to this president, and it's been his own (un)doing.

Schemes always end up with opposite results

Crooks and Liars shares with us some of interesting thoughts by Maureen Dowd:
".... This administration's grand schemes always end up as the opposite. Officials say they're promoting national security when they're hurting it; they say they're squelching terrorists when they're breeding them; they say they're bringing stability to Iraq when the country's imploding. (The U.S. announced five more military deaths yesterday.) And the most dangerous opposite of all: W. was listening to a surrogate father he shouldn't have been listening to, and not listening to his real father, who deserved to be listened to."
Indeed. The "uniter" (as he campaigned he would be) has actually proven to be a great divider ("you're either with us or you're with our enemies"), ushering in some of the most bitter and polarizing partisanship I've ever seen anywhere. We are truly a country divided — and bitterly divided at that. The president who railed against nation-building in his first campaign has burdened our nation with one of the most difficult nation-building efforts ever. The president who promised to give Americans more control over their financial future with tax breaks and social security privatization has actually saddled us and our children with crushing national debt, continuing to balloon at a record pace. And the president who promised a higher standard in government conduct has overseen one of the most unethical, arrogant and unaccountable administration's in my lifetime (Nixon, Reagan and Clinton administrations included). And this president with the grand scheme of leaving a legacy of greatness will end up with the opposite results.

President's home state leads nation in household hunger

From the Associated Press (via washingtonpost.com):
AUSTIN, Texas -- A higher percentage of Texas households were at risk of going hungry over the past three years than in any other state, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Agriculture Department. …Between 2002 and 2004, more than 16 percent of Texas households at some point had trouble providing enough food for all their family members, the USDA report said. The latest national figures were higher than in the previous three-year period. > Read full article
This is a noteworthy distinction for the president. Not only does his home state top the list of household hunger, but under his watch it's gotten worse. Texas must be proud — everything really is bigger, including the social problems.

CARTOON CONSCIENCE: Red-faced

by M.e. Cohen

Saturday

CARTOON CONSCIENCE: Just the tip of the iceberg

by John Sherffius

Friday

Suicide mistaken for halloween decoration

From the Associated Press:
FREDERICA, Del. (AP) -- The apparent suicide of a woman found hanging from a tree went unreported for hours because passers-by thought the body was a Halloween decoration, authorities said.

The 42-year-old woman used rope to hang herself across the street from some homes on a moderately busy road late Tuesday or early Wednesday, state police said.

> more

Sorry, no pictures available.

Big rise in profit places oil giants on the defensive

From The New York Times:

A sudden interruption in oil supplies sent prices and profits skyrocketing, prompting Exxon's chief executive to call a news conference right after his company announced that it had chalked up record earnings.

"I am not embarrassed," he said. "This is no windfall."

That was January 1974, a few months after Arab oil producers cut back on supplies and imposed their short-lived embargo on exports to the United States. Oil executives, including J. K. Jamieson, Exxon's chief executive at the time, were put on the defensive, forced to justify their soaring profits while the nation was facing its first energy crisis.

Three decades later, their successors are again facing contentions that oil companies are making too much money and have failed to expand production.

> more

These record profits are not reflective of a free market, in my non-expert opinion. Oil companies enjoy a captive consumer base. They know that they hold us all by the proverbial balls. What incentive do they have to increase their production capacity? They make more money now on each drop of oil with the demand high and the supply low. And since oil and gas consumption is not something quickly or easily remedied, they can enjoy record profits and there's little we can do about it in a "free market" system. In Oklahoma City, we're spread out. You can't get very far without a car. Car companies have done little to improve fuel efficiency; there's little incentive for them to spend the R&D dollars to make any real innovative breakthrough. And let's face it, we consumers have done little to give them incentive. That's where government should help look out for our long-term welfare as a country; that includes reducing our dependence on dwindling resources and looking for real solutions. We've not held our political leaders accountable. We're as much to blame. I don't claim to be an economist and there may be flaws in my supply-demand arguments. But as a layman, it seems that the laws of supply and demand can be manipulated or misapplied in certain instances. When consumers have no other viable alternative, the demand seems somewhat forced; supply can then be manipulated. This creates an unfair imbalance which reaps a windfall of obscene profits for one side and hardship for the other.

This is the "liberal" media?

Media Matters sheds some light on example of the mainstream "liberal" media:
In recent days, NBC's Today has featured a number of conservative guests commenting on the investigation into the alleged leak of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, but very few progressives. Since October 16, when reporter Judith Miller recounted her grand jury testimony in The New York Times, seven conservative guests have appeared on Today and have been asked to comment on the investigation, several of whom have made false statements about the case in other news outlets. By contrast, during this time, the show featured one journalist and only two progressives or Democrats -- Democratic political strategist James Carville and Air America Radio host Al Franken. Moreover, Franken was asked only one question about the leak investigation, and Carville was paired with a conservative. The other conservative guests appeared on their own. > more
FAIR offers another example to consider:
MSNBC host Keith Olbermann recently revealed that network bosses were upset when he had two liberal guests too close together on his show in September 2003. Speaking on October 25 to comedian and talk show host Al Franken, Olbermann said the following:
You were good enough to come on this newscast with me late in the summer of 2003. It was August or September. And by coincidence, either the next day or the day before, Janeane Garofalo had been a guest on the newscast. And I got called into a vice president‘s office here and told, "Hey, we don't mind you interviewing these guys, but should you really have put liberals on, on consecutive nights?"
Olbermann added, "Al, can you believe that the country was actually at that point that recently?" Later he would answer his own question, saying, "Thank goodness we have steered out of that time." Franken was interviewed on September 2, and Garofalo on September 4. Apparently having them both on over three days--a period of time in which Olbermann's show interviewed a total of 9 guests--was grounds for being called on the carpet at MSNBC. > more
It really doesn't take much watching of the three cable news networks and the network morning shows to see the imbalance. Of course, in my opinion, the balance was tipped the other way during the height of the Clinton years. Why? Because these shows want to reflect the apparent political mood of the country to attract more viewers. Those who cry "liberal" MSM simply aren't paying attention. Of course the same people who throw that label around are the same people who think Fox News is "fair and balanced." Independent, objective research and analysis prove otherwise. But let's not let facts get in the way of ignorant perceptions — "My mind is made up so don't confuse me with the facts."

Forbes magazine tells companies to "dig up dirt" on bloggers

AMERICAblog comments on the cover story in this week's Forbes:
Forbes has a cover story this week on the "Attack of the Bloggers," and it is probably the worst article ever, in terms of getting the story wrong and hyperbole. (You have to subscribe to their site for free to read the article - it's really not worth it.) … Forbes provides a "Fighting Back" special section that tells companies who are criticized by blogs how to fight back. Among Forbes' suggestions, these are my favorites:
BASH BACK. If you get attacked, dig up dirt on your assailant and feed it to sympathetic bloggers. Discredit him.
Yes, that actually came from Forbes. That has to be the most idiotic suggestion I have ever heard. Can you imagine if Microsoft had decided to start digging up dirt on me? Oh imagine the fun we'd have had then. (To Microsoft's credit, it did not.) Then another great suggestion from Forbes:
ATTACK THE HOST. Find some copyrighted text that a blogger has lifted from your Web site and threaten to sue his Internet service provider under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That may prompt the ISP to shut him down. Or threaten to drag the host into a defamation suit against the blogger. The host isn't liable but may skip the hassle and cut off the blogger's access anyway. Also: Subpoena the host company, demanding the blogger's name or Internet address. > Read AMERICAblog's full post > Read Forbe's cover story (registration required)

CARTOON CONSCIENCE: Which 'demoralized base'...

by Matt Davies, The Journal News

Thursday

Cheney, Libby blocked papers to Senate Intelligence Panel

From National Journal:
Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources. Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources. The new information that Cheney and Libby blocked information to the Senate Intelligence Committee further underscores the central role played by the vice president's office in trying to blunt criticism that the Bush administration exaggerated intelligence data to make the case to go to war. > Read full story
I begin to wonder if Cheney comprehends that he's supposed to be a public servant, serving the people and accountable to the people. Yet he operates as an authoritarian ruler with heavy-handed power exercised in secrecy and with accountability to no one. It lends credence to recent comments by former staffers describing a Cheney-led cabal.

Another indicted Republican

From The Toledo Blade:
A federal grand jury has indicted Tom Noe, the former Maumee coin dealer suspected of laundering money into President Bush’s reelection campaign, Mr. Noe’s attorney told The Blade today. … Gregory A. White, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, will hold a news conference in Toledo to announce “a major public corruption indictment.” The U.S. Attorney’s office announced in April that it was investigating Mr. Noe for possible violations of federal campaign finance laws. Sources have told The Blade that authorities believe Mr. Noe gave money to several people who then contributed to the Bush-Cheney campaign. …Mr. Noe, who was tagged a Bush “Pioneer” for helping to raise at least $100,000 for Bush campaign, sponsored a table at the event, and invited a number of people to attend. > Read full article
Here's a verse that the GOP ("God's Own Party") might be well served in taking to heart:
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." — 1 Timothy 6:10

Poll: Support for Bush policies falling

A Harris Interactive survey for The Wall Street Journal shows diminishing public support for President Bush's domestic agenda in addition to ebbing support for the Iraq War, according AFP. Here are the numbers in a nutshell:
  • 43% support making Bush's tax cuts permanent (down from 52% in August)
  • 50% disapprove of Bush's position on homeland security (43% approve)
  • 53% disagree with Bush's environmental policies (34 percent agree)
  • 53% disapprove of his handling of hurricane relief (43% approve)
  • 49% disapprove of his appointments to the Supreme Court (41% approve)

Caving to special interests

Kos offers an interesting perspective of the recent debacle over Miers:
Quotes to remember as Bush and the Republicans deal with the fallout from their cave to the craziest of their issue groups. This is exactly the sort of thing they accused Democrats of doing on the Roberts nomination, even though Democrats handily confirmed Roberts. … And here I was thinking that every nominee deserved an "up or down vote". > Read whole post
It's another case of Republicans highly partisan rhetoric coming back to bite them in the butt (similar to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's comments about perjury last Sunday on Meet The Press as well as many other examples). Different standards for others than for themselves.

Ford cracks down on restroom breaks

From The Detroit News:

You know things are tense at work when management starts timing rest room breaks. But beleaguered Ford Motor Co. is doing just that.

In a memo that was distributed Tuesday to workers at Ford's Michigan Truck plant in Wayne, plant managers said too many of the factory's 3,500 hourly workers are spending more than the 48 minutes allotted per shift to use the bathroom. The extra-long breaks are slowing production of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles that are built there, the company said.

"In today's competitive environment, it is important that Michigan Truck plant immediately address this concern to avoid the risks associated with safety, quality, delivery, cost and morale," the memo said.

The length of bathroom breaks may seem minor, but Ford's attention to it reflects the intense pressure on U.S. automakers and parts suppliers to improve factory performance and cut costs amid fierce competition from more-efficient foreign rivals.

Ford supervisors will begin collecting weekly data on the amount of time workers spend on bathroom breaks and "respond appropriately," the memo said.

> more

Cross your legs!

PROFITEERS: Exxon Mobile posts 75% surge in quarterly profit

From Reuters:
Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, on Thursday said quarterly profit surged 75 percent to nearly $10 billion, raking in a bonanza from record oil prices. The profit was the highest in the company's history, surpassing the record it set in the 2004 fourth quarter. Revenue jumped 32 percent to just over $100 billion. Two powerful hurricanes ripped through the Gulf of Mexico in the third quarter, disrupting energy operations in the region and sending oil prices and refining margins sharply higher. Exxon Mobil said net income rose to $9.9 billion, or $1.58 a share, in the third quarter from $5.68 billion, or 88 cents a share, a year earlier. > more
So, how to divert attention from all this profiteering news? The Washington Post explains:
To deflect the damage, the energy industry is relying on an ad campaign that was escalating even before hurricanes Katrina and Rita blitzed Gulf Coast petroleum refineries. The print and television ads are designed to educate consumers and lawmakers with a "we're all in this together" tone.
We're all in this together? Only if "we" means oil executives, their political minions (i.e. the GOP) and oil company shareholders. They are lining their pockets while the average American is scaping their pockets to pay for rising energy costs. Our country has faced catastrophic disaster after disaster, and in their wake some companies are racking up massive profits. Aren't their laws against profiteering? Those laws don't apply when it involves all the president's friends.

Rove plea?

From the New York Daily News:
WASHINGTON - Jittery Bush aides gnawed their nails yesterday as a special prosecutor zeroed in on White House political guru Karl Rove's role in blowing a CIA agent's cover.

In the closing hours of the grand jury probe, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald paid a visit yesterday to Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, prompting speculation that a plea bargain could be in the works for the deputy White House chief of staff.

It was the latest of several one-on-one meetings between Fitzgerald and Luskin, the Daily News has learned.

Investigators also turned up at the White House for yet another round of questions for Rove's subordinates.

> more

If there is indeed a plea, what will Bush do? Will he dismiss Rove (since it would be an admission of some wrongdoing in this investigation) or will he find some "technicality" in his recent remarks that gives him a way to weasel out?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: '...divisive for the country.'

Courtesy Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:
"I think that the Republican Party fairly recently has been taken over by the Christian conservatives, by the Christian right. I don't think that this is a permanent condition, but I think this has happened, and that it's divisive for the country."
-- Former Sen. John Danforth (R-MO), himself an Episcopal priest, in an AP interview.

Tomorrow's Rove

Jesus' General writes to the next Karl Rove:
It takes a lot of balls for an officer of the College Republican National Committee to attack a soldier heading off to war. When you did so, you opened yourself up to being assailed as a cowardly yellow elephant and a souless, political hack who selfishly places his partisan ambitions above all that is right and decent. Thank God you didn't let that stop you. … I was particularly impressed by your claim that this young Marine opposed his country by opposing the president. It demonstrates that you are capable of doing whatever it takes to destroy your political opponents. Just as such former College Republican greats as Scooter Libby and Karl Rove betrayed the identity of a CIA agent for political purposes, you accuse an Iraq-bound Marine of treason simply because he protests Our Leader's policies. Obviously, you have the right stuff to go far in today's Republican Party. > Read full letter

If Fox News had been around throughout history

> more

CARTOON CONSCIENCE — SPECIAL: Why?

Wishful (and delusional) thinking

From Redstate.org:
BREAKING: GOOD NEWS IN PLAME CASE!!! By: DC Insider · Section: Diaries My sources are relaying to me information that may be very good news re: the Plame Case.

Although I cannot substantiate this info 100%, I am receiving this from sources very close to the investigation and grand jury:

  1. No indictments for Rove, Libby or any member of the administration.

  2. Pobable indictments for Vallerie Plame, Joseph Wilson and one as yet unknown high ranking Congressional Democrat.

  3. No wrong doing or misuse of intelligence on the part of the administration.

  4. Possible criminal conduct in an attempt to smear the White House on the part of Congressional Democrats, Plame and Wilson.

(Again, take this with a grain of salt but this is what I am hearing from my sources and the D.C. grape vine)
People who don't like the truth start making up their own "truth." Whatever helps these people sleep at night.

Woman sees husband off to war, gets fired

From Associated Press:

A woman who took an unpaid leave of absence from work to see her husband off to war has been fired after failing to show up for her part-time receptionist job the day following his departure.

"It was a shock," said Suzette Boler, a 40-year-old mother of three and grandmother of three. "I was hurt. I felt abandoned by people I thought cared for me. I sat down on the floor and cried for probably two hours."

Officials at her former workplace, Benefit Management Administrators Inc., confirmed that Boler was dismissed when she didn't report to work the day after she said goodbye to her husband of 22 years.

"We gave her sufficient time to get back to work," Clark Galloway, vice president of operations for Benefit Management, told The Grand Rapids Press for a story published Wednesday.

> more

Can you blame Mr. Galloway? His company "sacrificed" by allowing her "sufficient time to get back to work." We should not ask him or his company to carry such a tremendous "burden."

CARTOON CONSCIENCE: Who really care about the CIA leaks controversy

by Bruce Plante, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Wednesday

Vice President 'an open advocate of torture'

An editorial in today's Washington Post:
VICE PRESIDENT Cheney is aggressively pursuing an initiative that may be unprecedented for an elected official of the executive branch: He is proposing that Congress legally authorize human rights abuses by Americans. "Cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of prisoners is banned by an international treaty negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the United States. The State Department annually issues a report criticizing other governments for violating it. Now Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit such abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad. In other words, this vice president has become an open advocate of torture. > more
Now let's juxtapose that against Bush's words from 2001:

First, we must always maintain the highest ethical standards. We must always ask ourselves not only what is legal, but what is right. There is no goal of government worth accomplishing if it cannot be accomplished with integrity.As you work for the federal government there is no excuse for arrogance, and there’s never a reason to show disrespect for others.
Perhaps Cheney didn't get the message. Or perhaps he doesn't care. Or perhaps it's just talk and not the real agenda.

ConocoPhillips quarterly profit up 89 percent

From Reuters:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips, the No. 3 U.S. oil company, on Wednesday reported quarterly profit surged 89 percent, surpassing Wall Street forecasts, driven by record oil prices and sharply higher refining margins. ConocoPhillips, like other major oil companies, has reaped a windfall from soaring crude oil prices -- which touched a record $70 a barrel in the quarter -- and better refining margins, as powerful hurricanes blew through the Gulf of Mexico, severely disrupting energy operations.

The Houston company's net profit in the third quarter rose to $3.8 billion, or $2.68 a share, compared with $2.01 billion, or $1.43 a share, a year earlier.

> more

This is an industry that seeks incentives and subsidies from our government (like help in the repair of offshore platforms in the wake of the hurricanes). Yet, the entire industry is posting record profits. This is an industry that profits at the peril of its consumers (squeezing the budgets of the working families to the breaking point). And yet, this administration and Congress continues to look for ways to funnel more taxdollars to them (like the most recent energy bill); at the same time, these same leaders tell us that programs to help the poor in our country have to be scaled back to cover the costs of recent disasters. It's nothing short of disgusting.

Bush should listen to... himself

Think Progress points out that in 2001, Bush talked of a higher ethical standard:

Let me say a few words about important values we must demonstrate while all of us serve in government. First, we must always maintain the highest ethical standards. We must always ask ourselves not only what is legal, but what is right. There is no goal of government worth accomplishing if it cannot be accomplished with integrity.

Second, I want us to set an example of humility. As you work for the federal government there is no excuse for arrogance, and there’s never a reason to show disrespect for others. A new tone in Washington must begin with decency and fairness. I want everyone who represents our government to be known for these values.

> Watch the video > Read the full transcript
Not practicing what you preach has a way of coming back to bite you in the butt. If someone takes the time to go back and read/watch all the statements the president and his spokespersons have made since this whole mess started two years ago, it's amazing to watch how they have evolved and how their own words seem to come back to haunt them. Arrogance often blinds good judgment. And anything less than the truth can trap you ("what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive"). That's why truth and integrity are always the best course of action. If he had just listened to himself...

Prosecutor in leak case seeks indictments against Rove and Libby, sources say

From Raw Story:
Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked the grand jury investigating the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to indict Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers close to the investigation tell RAW STORY. Fitzgerald has also asked the jury to indict Libby on a second charge: knowingly outing a covert operative, the lawyers said. They said the prosecutor believes that Libby violated a 1982 law that made it illegal to unmask an undercover CIA agent. > more

More than a number

Okiedoke makes a fine point about the marking of the 2000th death in Iraq.

Marking the death of the 2,000th American killed in the Iraqi occupation strikes me as callous.

Washington marked the 2,000th American fatality of the Iraq war with a moment of silence in the Senate, the reading of the names of the fallen from the House floor
Last Sunday I watched the list of Americans killed during the previous week scroll down the TV screen. The vast majority were very young people, with the age of 20 appearing most often. The 1,994th was just as saddening to me as the 2,000th. I think waiting for every thousand Americans to die in Iraq before stopping to reflect is not enough. Yet, I realize that if we paused to honor each soldier’s ultimate sacrifice, the nation’s productivity would nose-dive and we’d end up missing some of our favorite television shows and sporting events. So I propose a compromise: The entire nation stop for a moment of silence every Monday at, say, 10 AM, to honor our fellow Americans who won’t be able to laugh, hug, play, or even work, ever again, so that we might.
He is absolutely right. One would be well served by reading the names of the soldiers called and even seeing their faces (see washingtonpost.com's Faces of the Fallen). To help with that, take a moment and read through this list (1,999 names listed as of the time of this post) from icasualties.org of those killed in Iraq as well as this list of just some of the wounded in Iraq. With each name, there's a life story. There's a grieving mother, father, brother or sister. There are grieving friends, former classmates and communities. For many it's unimaginable pain and sorrow. A hole has been left in the lives of countless more than just "2000." Each number represents the ultimate sacrifice — a life abruptly ended. Perhaps if we were more aware of the totality of the cost, it would give us more pause to carefully weigh the full price of our nation's actions.

'Real change, not spare change'

Thanks to Dustbury for pointing me to this information about a new program by the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance to provide a better way for the altruistic to help those less fortunate.

How can you help the less fortunate among us while ensuring your gift does not contribute to unhealthy behaviors? The Homeless Alliance offers “Real Change” vouchers you can buy at cost to give to individuals who are panhandling for money on the street. Each voucher includes information on Oklahoma City’s three general homeless shelters and a bus ticket to get there. Once at a shelter, the person will get hot meals and a place to sleep and will have access to a variety of other services.

Research shows that across the country, approximately 80% of panhandlers are not homeless. Moreover, studies have found that most of the time cash given to a panhandler will go to support a drug or alcohol habit—not to help the person access services he or she needs. Real Change vouchers allow you to truly help genuinely needy individuals while discouraging panhandlers who do not want real help. …

Each voucher book includes five Real Change vouchers, including five bus tickets, and costs $5.00.

Click here for a Real Change order form. You can print the form, complete it, and mail it to the Homeless Alliance at 312 W Commerce Oklahoma City, OK 73109 Please make checks payable to the Homeless Alliance.

As Dustbury points out, this will not be popular among the panhandlers, but that will expose their true motivations. Most don't want help, they just want handouts.

Collegiate chickenhawk troubled by opponent's honoring duty to fight

From The Times Record:
On Dec. 1, Alex Cornell du Houx, a 21-year-old Bowdoin College senior from Solon will head to Iraq for approximately 10 months as part of the Alpha 1st Company Battalion of the Marines. Instead of staying up late to finish off college papers and cram for finals, Cornell du Houx will use his training and experience as a 0351 Assault Man to shoot rockets, deal with demolitions and work the Javelin Missile System. "I am not nervous whatsoever. We are well trained and we're ready to go," Cornell du Houx said about the news of his unit's impending deployment to Iraq. His mother and family are supportive of his plans as well. "I feel for every mom who has a son or daughter who has been deployed, for the innocent Iraqi families that have lost their loved ones, and for the families of 1,966 soldiers who never came home," said Ramona du Houx, Alex's mother. "But the overwhelming reality of how unjust this war is only truly hits home when it is your son or daughter who is going into harm's way." The senior is most well known on the Bowdoin College campus in his role as development director for the College Democrats of America and as co-president of the Maine College Democrats. Under his leadership, the organization in Maine has grown from two chapters to 23. While Cornell du Houx has actively rallied against many of President Bush's policies, he feels that his involvement in the Marines is not a conflict of interest. "Regardless of my opinions regarding the war in Iraq, it is my duty as a U.S. Marine to serve and I am ready and willing to do my job to its fullest extent," he said. Others on campus, particularly his political opponents in the Bowdoin College Republicans, feel differently about his service. Daniel Schuberth, a leader of the Bowdoin College Republicans and College Republican national secretary, said, "I applaud Mr. Houx for his service, just as I applaud any other soldier who is brave enough to take up arms in defense of his country. I find it troubling, however, that one of the most vocal opponents of our president, our country and our mission in Iraq has chosen to fight for a cause he claims is wrong. Mr. Houx's rhetoric against the war on terror places him in agreement with the most radical fringes of the Democratic Party, and I am left to question his logic and motivation. … Paul Franco, one of Cornell du Houx's government and legal studies professors, disagrees. "He exemplifies democratic citizenship at its best," Franco said of Cornell du Houx. "Though he opposes Bush's war policies, he still feels obligated to fulfill his duty. ... This is the exact opposite of what is done by those supporters of the war who would never dream of fighting in it themselves or sending their own children to fight in it." > more
The professor couldn't have said it better. The chickenhawk College Republican leader apparently does not understand the principles of duty, honor and patriotic dissent. Another example of politics over principles.

On the lighter side: the Chinese Backstreet Boys

Here's a video clip making the internet rounds. It was highlighted on yesterday's Good Morning America. Students in a southern Chinese province demonstrate that the younger generation shares more in common with their American counterparts than their government might realize (or want). For some — like my girls — it's side-splitting funny; for others, it should at least draw a smile. Enjoy! > WMV download

Plamegate: A cheat sheet to keep track of all the lies

Arianna Huffington provides this quick cheat sheet to help us track all the lives we've been told. She also offers this commentary:

To borrow a phrase from that era, let me make myself perfectly clear: I'm not saying that Plamegate is the same as Watergate. I'm saying it's worse. Much, much worse. No one died as a result of Watergate, but 2,000 American soldiers have now been killed and thousands more wounded to rid the world of an imminent threat that wasn't.

Could there be anything bigger?

Check it out.

A little too late — Brown had planned to resign before Katrina

From The Washington Post:
Michael D. Brown was days away from announcing plans to resign as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency when Hurricane Katrina hit Aug. 29, according to e-mails released by separate House and Senate investigations into the government's flawed response to the disaster. …

The e-mails also suggest that the administration knew Brown was on the verge of departing when he was recalled as head of the sluggish rescue and relief efforts for the New Orleans area.

Brown resigned on Sept. 12, but the Department of Homeland Security then contracted with him at his full $148,000-a-year salary to serve as a consultant on a review of the response to Hurricane Katrina. The consulting arrangement, initially set to end Oct. 10, has been extended by four weeks, department spokesman Russ Knocke said.

[Sen. Susan] Collins was "surprised to learn" that Brown's consulting deal has been extended, she said, because Michael P. Jackson, deputy secretary of homeland security, told her it would last 30 days.

Knocke said Brown "is transitioning out of a job he held for three years, transferring relevant documents and data and his experiences at the agency."

Unfortunately for the victims of Katrina, Brown waited too long to quit. And now, we've paid him another $24,000-plus to stick around to share his "experiences" at the agency? All we need to know is that he was incompetent and there's nothing we can learn from him other than what kind of person NOT to appoint next time.

Wal-Mart to cut benefit costs by 'discouraging unhealthy people from working at Wal-Mart'

From The New York Times:

An internal memo sent to Wal-Mart's board of directors proposes numerous ways to hold down spending on health care and other benefits while seeking to minimize damage to the retailer's reputation. Among the recommendations are hiring more part-time workers and discouraging unhealthy people from working at Wal-Mart.

In the memorandum, M. Susan Chambers, Wal-Mart's executive vice president for benefits, also recommends reducing 401(k) contributions and wooing younger, and presumably healthier, workers by offering education benefits. The memo voices concern that workers with seven years' seniority earn more than workers with one year's seniority, but are no more productive.

To discourage unhealthy job applicants, Ms. Chambers suggests that Wal-Mart arrange for "all jobs to include some physical activity (e.g., all cashiers do some cart-gathering)."

The memo acknowledged that Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, had to walk a fine line in restraining benefit costs because critics had attacked it for being stingy on wages and health coverage. Ms. Chambers acknowledged that 46 percent of the children of Wal-Mart's 1.33 million United States employees were uninsured or on Medicaid.

> more

Always the lowest wages and benefits. Always. Bruce over at This is Class Warfare offers some of his own thoughts about the matter. Read it here.

Indictments confirmed

From the Financial Times:
Indictments in the CIA leak investigation case are expected to be handed down by a grand jury on Wednesday, bringing to a head a criminal inquiry that threatens to disrupt seriously President George W. Bush's second term.

On Tuesday night, news reports, supported by a source close to the lawyers involved in the case, said that target letters to those facing indictment were being issued, with sealed indictments to be filed on Wednesday and released by the end of the week.

Those in legal jeopardy may include Lewis “Scooter” Libby, vice-president Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and Karl Rove, Mr Bush's chief political strategist.

Mr Cheney himself has also been linked to the inquiry into the leaking of the name of an undercover CIA operative, according to a story in Tuesday's New York Times.

With that in mind, get ready for the smear campaign against Fitzgerald to ratchet up to Category 5 status.

Mr Bush has praised Mr Fitzgerald's deft handling of the inquiry, which could deflate any later attempts to paint him as a partisan prosecutor over-reaching his mandate.

However, Frank Luntz, Republican pollster and strategist. said: “If [Fitzgerald] indicts, they [the White House] will have no choice but to attempt to demonise him. I think that is going to be really, really tough.”

We expect nothing less from the smearmaster himself, Karl Rove.

Tuesday

White House's Black Tuesday

The Washington Note is reporting that indictments are coming tomorrow and that the targets received letters today:

An uber-insider source has just reported the following to TWN:

1. 1-5 indictments are being issued. The source feels that it will be towards the higher end.

2. The targets of indictment have already received their letters.

3. The indictments will be sealed indictments and "filed" tomorrow.

4. A press conference is being scheduled for Thursday.

The shoe is dropping.

Meanwhile, Taegan Goddard's Political Wire has been told by "a former high level Bush administration official … that 'people are turning on each other' at the White House. Lawrence Wilkerson is likely just the first to come out publicly against the administration."

'Bring them home' say more than half of Americans

From Rasmussen Reports:
Fifty-three percent (53%) of Americans now say that getting U.S. soldiers home as soon as possible is more important than making sure "Iraq becomes a peaceful nation enjoying freedom and democracy." This is the first time that a majority of Americans have held that view. The Rasmussen Reports survey also shows that just 38% insuring a peaceful and free Iraq is the top priority. A month ago, 47% said getting the troops home was more important while 43% focused on finishing the mission. The six percentage point increase in the number wanting to bring home the troops comes despite the fact that 54% of Americans believe that withdrawing U.S. troops will make things worse in Iraq. That figure is unchanged from last month. Thirty percent (30%) of Americans believe the recent vote on an Iraqi constitution will lead to increased violence. Only 17% believe it will reduce violence, while 35% say it will have no impact.

What did Cheney know? And when?

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire provides some context to the Cheney/Libby/Wilson/Plame/Leak affair:
Two years ago on Meet the Press, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed he didn't know Valerie Plame's husband. Said Cheney: "I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson.... And Joe Wilson -- I don’t know who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back. Yet three months earlier, Scooter Libby documented a conversation he had with Cheney about Wilson and his wife. This now seems to be the key question in the CIA leak investigation and possible obstruction of justice charges. However, the AP reports the White House is refusing to answer. Josh Marshall has the lame Q&A with White House press secretary Scott McLellan. The Plank has a few more questions: "Who gave Fitzgerald the notes from Cheney and Libby's conversation? Did the notes come from Cheney? And if they did, does that mean that Cheney is throwing his chief of staff under the bus?" Bloomberg concludes Cheney and Libby "may be at odds" now in the investigation.
Now, I wonder why would the stories be different? Who, I wonder, has a documented history of inaccurate (or deceitful) comments?

2,000 dead

A solemn and tragic milestone — 2,000 American soldiers killed in Iraq. From AFP:
The US death toll in Iraq reportedly hit 2,000 amid a sharp spike in violence that killed 14 Iraqis as the nation awaited results of a key vote on a charter aimed at curbing sectarian violence.

The US network CNN, quoting Pentagon sources, reported Tuesday that the number of soldiers killed since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq had reached 2,000 with the deaths of two more soldiers, a toll likely to add pressure on the US administration over its role in the violence-wracked country.

2,000 dead. Tens of thousands maimed and injured. The Iraqi deaths and injuries are more than ten-fold of that of Americans. Was it worth it? This war was originally about the imminent threat of WMDs. That was proven unfounded. Then this war was about the link between Sadaam and 9/11. That was proven unfounded. Then this war was about the War on Terrorism. That may be true, but we are losing that battle. Former National Security Advisor (under H.W. Bush) Brent Scowcroft puts it this way, "This was said to be a part of the war on terror, but Iraq feeds terrorism." Was it worth it?

Cheney "in the middle of an effort" to learn about Plame

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 - I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.

Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said.

The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration's handling of intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program to justify the war.

Lawyers involved in the case, who described the notes to The New York Times, said they showed that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.

Mr. Libby's notes indicate that Mr. Cheney had gotten his information about Ms. Wilson from George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, in response to questions from the vice president about Mr. Wilson. But they contain no suggestion that either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby knew at the time of Ms. Wilson's undercover status or that her identity was classified. Disclosing a covert agent's identity can be a crime, but only if the person who discloses it knows the agent's undercover status.

It would not be illegal for either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby, both of whom are presumably cleared to know the government's deepest secrets, to discuss a C.I.A. officer or her link to a critic of the administration. But any effort by Mr. Libby to steer investigators away from his conversation with Mr. Cheney could be considered by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the case, to be an illegal effort to impede the inquiry.

> more
Dick "Corleone" Cheney is the Godfather with "buffer" minions to do his dirty work and take the fall (with the likely promise of a presidential pardon after it all shakes out).

Conservative defends Fitzgerald's integrity

Conservative writer Andy McCarthy challenges fellow conservatives' "preemptive suggestions that my friend Pat Fitzgerald may not be as apolitical as his press clippings indicate. In particular, I am being pointed to favorable comments made by Senator Schumer about Pat’s competence and integrity."
Let me just say this. Pat is at least as apolitical as his press clippings suggest. And just because Senator Schumer says something doesn’t make it wrong. Pat Fitzgerald is the best prosecutor I have ever seen. By a mile. He is also the straightest shooter I have ever seen – by at least that much. And most importantly, he is a good man. This investigation has gone on for 22 months. Most of the evidence was collected before autumn 2004 – the last year of delay has mainly been caused by reporters challenging subpoenas in the federal courts. If Pat were political – or, worse, if he somehow had it in for the Bush administration – it was fully within his power to return indictments in the weeks before the November elections, which would almost certainly have cinched things for Senator Kerry. It is something, I am quite certain, it would never even have occurred to him to do. The only thing the guy I know would do is bring charges or close the case without charges when the facts of the investigation warranted doing so.

Rosa Parks: One person CAN make a difference

One simple act of nonviolent, civil disobedience became a catalyst that changed a nation. Rosa Parks was the proverbial David standing up against Goliath. A black woman, prescribed by the predominantly white society as a second-class citizen, by a simple act of refusal, chose to no longer be treated as an inferior. "I felt I had a right to be treated as any other passenger," she said in 1992. "We had endured that kind of treatment for too long." The Associated Press writes, "Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organized by a then little-known Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who later earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. "Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organized by a then little-known Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who later earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his work." (more about Parks' life) Rosa Parks is a heroic example that one person can make a difference. And it all began with one simple — but quite courageous — act. She even said that she never expected the result. "At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this," Mrs. Parks said 30 years later. "It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in." One person taking a stand (even if it was the act of sitting) changed a nation. She serves an example to us all that sometimes you have to take a stand against injustice. It may not lead to a grand movement, but you never know when your one act of courage in standing against injustice serves as a catalyst for change. Rosa Parks, an American hero. Rest in peace.

CARTOON CONSCIENCE: Hutchison on perjury

by M.e. Cohen

Monday

W pals bushwhack CIA leak prosecutor

From New York Daily News:
WASHINGTON - As the White House and Republicans brace for possible indictments in the CIA leak probe, defenders have launched a not-so-subtle campaign against the prosecutor handling the case. "He's a vile, detestable, moralistic person with no heart and no conscience who believes he's been tapped by God to do very important things," one White House ally said, referring to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. … But now friends of the White House have started whispering that the Brooklyn-raised prosecutor is overzealous after it became clear that Bush political mastermind Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, are in Fitzgerald's cross hairs. Such hints surfaced publicly for the first time yesterday when Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), armed with comments that sources said were "shaped" by the White House, suggested Fitzgerald might nail someone on a "technicality" because they forgot something or misspoke.
That's certainly to be expected. When you don't like the message, impugn and assassinate the messenger. They are doing it to Delay's prosecutor in Texas. They are doing it to the Plame leak investigation special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who happened to be a Bush appointee to the Northern District of Illinois and who was appointed by Bush's Justice Department to be the special prosecutor. And, interestingly enough, they had nothing but praise for the special prosecutor Ken Starr, who was a Republican investigating a Democrat. But that's politics. Our side never does wrong and the other side never does right, and anyone who challenges our side must be wrong. In the ironic quote of the day...
"He's a vile, detestable, moralistic person with no heart and no conscience who believes he's been tapped by God to do very important things," one White House ally said, referring to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.
I think that ally must have had Fitzgerald confused with his own boss, W.