Independent Christian Voice

Wednesday

About that "liberal" media bias thing...

Right-wingers' favorite refrain is "liberal bias in the mainstream media." Raw Story reports on that "liberal" bias:

Chairman and chief executive of media juggernaut Time Warner Richard Parsons, who barred a conversation with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia from being on the record, cut a massive $25,000 check to the Republican National Committee in 2004, and according to Newsmeat.com has given $119,750 to Republican candidates and just $12,000 to Democrats.

Parsons tried to impose a "gag order" on a public interview of Scalia conducted by Norman Pearlstein, Time's editor in chief, Nov. 21. Time Magazine is the publication's flagship national newsweekly.

[more]

Proof positive that those in charge are biased... those damn liberals — wait a minute... he donated more to the Republicans? But that would mean that the bias is really toward... hmmmm.

O'Reilly's "Christmas" crusade — "Do as I say, not as I do"

This is just too precious. Media Matters points out that self-righteous crusader and preacher-in-chief O'Reilly isn't practicing what he preaches:

Although Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson have lambasted what they see as a "secular" "war on Christmas," Fox News' own online store advertises "Holiday" ornaments rather than "Christmas" ornaments, as apparently first noted on the weblog Daily Kos. The items are grouped under the category "Holiday Ideas."

O'Reilly, host of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, has recently waged a campaign against corporations that greet customers with "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." For his part, Gibson, the host of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson, has published a book titled The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought (Sentinel, October 2005).

Despite O'Reilly's specific criticism of those who use the term "holiday tree" instead of "Christmas tree," an O'Reilly Factor ornament for sale at the Fox News store features this tagline: "Put your holiday tree in 'The No Spin Zone' with this silver glass 'O'Reilly Factor' ornament."

No longer "Mission Accomplished"?

The quotes and picture says it all. From Think Progress:

Bush today:

Before our mission in Iraq is accomplished, there will be tough days ahead.

Bush, May 2003:

On Thursday, I visited the USS Abraham Lincoln, now headed home after the longest carrier deployment in recent history. I delivered good news to the men and women who fought in the cause of freedom: their mission is complete and major combat operations in Iraq have ended.

Talk about a picture and an event that comes back to bite you in the butt. This political stunt has to rank as the ultimate gaffe for this presidency. Iraq has done nothing but gone downhill since this event. More soldiers have died since "Mission Accomplished" than during the entire "mission." Just like the WMDs and the other purported reasons for pre-emptively invading Iraq, "Mission Accomplished" couldn't have been more wrong.

Malkin: "Who are you calling angry?"

Malice in Malkinland never ceases to amaze me. She is a walking poster child for PCKBS (Pot-Calling-Kettle-Black Syndrome); Christians also know it as the Matthew 7:1-5 Syndrome. In a post today, she says "you'll get a kick out of my latest, Unhinged-themed column" in which she (unsuccessfully) tries to put Janeane Garofalo in her place. I got a kick out of it alright — I get a kick out of how often her critiques of the lefties sound as appropriate or more appropriate indictments of Malkin herself. Here's an example:
Accessorized by a permanent scowl (hard to believe she was once considered a comedienne), Ms. Garofalo accused conservatives of having "an anger management problem. Without a trace of irony, the frowning Garofalo griped about "right-wing partisan hacks who are always on the verge of punching somebody or always behave as if they've just been cut off in traffic."
Malkin's picture accompanying this post is Exhibit #1 supporting the PCKBS diagnosis for Queen Malice herself. Other bloggers suffering from this ailment include Dr. Sanity and Lorie Byrd, and many, many others.

Malkinland: "It's okay if we do it, but not if you do it."

Malice in Malkinland uses a commercial by a single activist left-wing PAC to indict all people who are left of center and/or who oppose the war. It's a typical wingnut superfluous overgeneralization lacks any reasonable foundation and demonstrates their lack of credibility. Regardless, I tend to agree that Moveon.org tends to be hyperbolic in its language and imagery. I don't always agree with their message (as presented) or how they choose to present it. However, they bring a viewpoint to the discussion that's just as valid as any of their right-wing counterparts — i.e. Swiftboaters comes immediately to mind. What I find most fascinating is the uproar about the use of misleading imagery as well as doctored images. People are outraged about using deceptive imagery to advance a political ad. I seem to remember a certain incumbant president whose campaign utilized such practices in at least one of its campaign ads. Was Malkinland outraged then? "It's okay if we do it but not okay if you do it.

Has Arnold turned to the dark side (like Malkin thinks) or has he awakened from his GOP blind lunacy

Malkinland is all in a tizzy about California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointing a top aid to ousted Gov. Gray Davis to be his new chief of staff.

One unhappy GOP source in California e-mails: "What is the point of a recall if youre going to turn around and re-hire the key architect of so many Davis failures?!?!?!?!"

Good question.

Could it be that Schwarzenegger's failures are even greater than Davis'? Could it be that the California electorate is realizing that it may have made a mistake replacing one inept governor with an even crazier, more inept governor, reflected in Arnold's severe hemorrhaging (almost as bad as Bush's fall from "glory")? Is is possible that Arnold, in recognizing this declining public support, may actually be reaching across the aisle (something foreign to extreme wingers) to try to build a bipartisan consensus and support for a workable agenda for the state? I can understand why that's so difficult for Malice in Malkinland and her sheeple to comprehend.

Making the U.S. Death Toll in Iraq more palatable

From Washington Whispers on USNews.com:
In the Body Count War: U.S. Wins 25-1 Frustrated GOP lawmakers are desperate for President Bush to do more to show how troops are winning the war in Iraq, and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence has an idea: Tell how many insurgents the U.S. troops are killing, not just the American death toll. "This is football season," says the Republican, who takes time to mourn with constituents who lose family members in combat. "People want to know if we're winning or losing... what's the score." Fresh from a trip to Iraq, Pence says he knows the score: just over 2,000 Americans dead, compared with 50,000 to 60,000 enemy combatants.
James at The Left End of the Dial comments:
I'm going to take a guess that Rep. Pence (R-IN) defines "enemy combatant" as any Iraqi who has (or more appropriately, had) a pulse and who happened to be in the path of shrapnel from a depleted uranium tipped bomb, white phosphorous, NK77 (aka Napalm Lite - "wastes great, more killing"), or just run of the mill shells from automatic firearms. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that a fair number of those killed were moms, grandparents, kids, etc. who got iced just for being there. Something I'll keep in mind the next time I have the misfortune of seeing yet another round of photos of charred and mangled infants from this godforsaken excuse of a war.
James is absolutely right. If we narrow it down to a numbers game, we're killing more of them than they are of us. I wonder what the ratios would be comparing the number of Iraqi women and children non-combatants with the number of American women and children non-combatants would be. If we're going to play the numbers game, let's play the whole field, not just left field. Rather than face the reality of the situation in Iraq, the Republicans are looking for ways to spin it to make it more palatable and to make it appear to be a winning strategy. That's the M.O. of this party and this administration — let's put lipstick on the pig and hope we make it pretty enough to love.

The right complains about MSM's "liberal" bias; how about their own media's lunacy?

It's simply unbelievable. Right-wing "news" website Newsmax has become much more brazen about simply making stuff up and disseminating outright falsehoods. We have two blatant examples in just the last 24 hours. A column yesterday on Newsmax tries to convince us that John McCain has contradicted his own campaign against torture because he once admitted that he had reached his breaking point after being tortured:

Sen. John McCain is leading the charge against so-called "torture" techniques allegedly used by U.S. interrogators, insisting that practices like sleep deprivation and withholding medical attention are not only brutal - they simply don't work to persuade terrorist suspects to give accurate information. Nearly forty years ago, however - when McCain was held captive in a North Vietnamese prison camp - some of the same techniques were used on him. And - as McCain has publicly admitted at least twice - the torture worked! [...] That McCain broke under torture doesn't make him any less of an American hero. But it does prove he's wrong to claim that harsh interrogation techniques simply don't work.

John Cole at Balloon Juice has an appropriate response:
Excellent. In other words, according to the rocket scientist who wrote this, we need to authorize torture so we can beat people relentlessly for four days until they confess to ‘war crimes,’ or other such useful and ‘accurate’ information. People like the author of this piece, Carl Limbacher, should be put in a small room and beaten with a cane and waterboarded until they confess to being unmitigated assholes. This isn’t a defense of torture for use in extreme cases (the ‘ticking time bomb’ scenario)- this is a call for legalized sadism and brutality. What kind of moral cretins are these Newsmax folks?
AMERICAblog writes about more Newsmax disinformation:
According to the Newsmax email (apparently it's on behalf of Human Events, another Republican rag, and they're pushing some new book that exposes the media's bias - uh huh), we learn that we've discovered in Iraq:
1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium 1,500 gallons of chemical weapons agents Chemical warheads containing cyclosarin (a nerve agent five times more deadly than sarin gas) Over 1,000 radioactive materials in powdered form meant for dispersal over populated areas This is only a PARTIAL LIST of the horrific weapons verified to have been recovered in Iraq to date. Yet, Americans overwhelmingly believe U.S. and coalition forces found NO weapons of mass destruction. The question is... WHY do they believe this lie?
So why is that Americans don't know about this amazing truth? Two guesses. More from Newsmax:
Have you heard that Osama bin Laden is on kidney dialysis? I'll bet you have. Much of the Western media report bin Laden's presumed affliction as a matter of fact -- and most Americans believe it. But... ...it's just not true. Now, you may well be thinking: "Why would the news media want to make me believe that Osama bin Laden is a very sick and perhaps dying man?" Well, here's why... The news media are -- overwhelmingly -- against the Iraq War.
Wow, pretty amazing stuff. Only problem is, the story about Bin Laden on dialysis didn't come form the media, it came from, among others, George Bush's number one ally in the war on terror, Pakistani President Musharraf:
"I think now, frankly, he is dead for the reason he is a ... kidney patient," Gen. Pervez Musharraf said on Friday in an interview with CNN. Musharraf said Pakistan knew bin Laden took two dialysis machines into Afghanistan. "One was specifically for his own personal use," he said.
Holy crap in my pants, Batman. But there's more. The "lie" about bin Laden and dialysis also came from a senior official in the Bush administration. From the same CNN piece:
"A senior Bush administration official said.... U.S. intelligence is that bin Laden needs dialysis every three days and "it is fairly obvious that that could be an issue when you are running from place to place, and facing the idea of needing to generate electricity in a mountain hideout."
Doh! But I'm confused. Newsmax and Human Events and the far-right Republicans running the GOP wouldn't lie to us, would they?
Is there any wonder why right-wingers believe what they believe, no matter how divorced from reality and facts it may be?

CARTOON CONSCIENCE: "Will work for..."

by Jeff Parker, Florida Today

Tuesday

Desperately searching for Islamic ties to American suicide bomber

Wingnut bloggers are desperately digging for some shred of evidence that would tie the OU suicide bomber to a larger Islamic terrorist plot. Malice in Malkinland is one of the national bloggers leading the conspiracy charge:
I obtained the nearly 350 pages of unsealed court documents just before Thanksgiving last week and reviewed them over the weekend (a big thank you to Cheryl in Judge Couch's office and TaraLeigh Teupker of Business Courier Service of Oklahoma City for their prompt responses and assistance). It would have been nice if an MSM outlet with boundless time, resources, and manpower--say, CBS News--had made the unsealed documents available to the public. [...] Beyond this, unfortunately, there's not much more of interest in the documents. None of the hundreds of e-mails in Hinrichs' Yahoo.com account accessed by the FBI/JTTF are included in the release. Nor are the names or URLs of any of the websites he visited from his home computer or any of the nine campus computers searched by the FBI/JTTF. The last line of Hinrichs' suicide message is reported, but not the rest of the text document. So, was he simply a troubled soul, a freelance Islamist bent on mass murder at the OU football stadium, or something else? The unsealed papers neither prove nor disprove any of these theories.
So... she couldn't find any hard evidence that would support one of the blogosphere theories that Hinrich was operating with a terrorist cell. "Case not closed," she says. I'm sure. There is history to be rewritten and "facts" to manufacture... the wingnuts are hard at work. Here's my one and only comment on this whole matter: why do wingnuts think that this government is hiding something? This is the one administration that would use such an incident to advance their agenda of promoting fear to gain support for the global War on Terror. No, if there was something there, we would have heard about it by now — from the very top of this administration. We would be at Code Orange or higher, with endless scenarios spelled out before us (dirty bombs walking our neighborhoods) to help keep us sufficiently afraid to have to trust the government for our "security." Oklahoma blogger Dustbury says:
I have serious doubts about "freelance Islamist," but I suspect "troubled soul" doesn't fully explain it either.
Now that's a reasonable conclusion from a more sane voice in the blogosphere.

Put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig

One of the Washington Post's columnists might be a great candidate to replace current White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan — he can polish a turd as well as anyone. Well, you can polish a turd all you want, but it's still shit. In a column yesterday, Sebastian Mallaby is trying to delude us into believing that Wal-Mart is a progressive company that does more for poverty relief in America than many federal programs:
…Wal-Mart's "every day low prices" make the biggest difference to the poor, since they spend a higher proportion of income on food and other basics. As a force for poverty relief, Wal-Mart's $200 billion-plus assistance to consumers may rival many federal programs. Those programs are better targeted at the needy, but they are dramatically smaller. Food stamps were worth $33 billion in 2005, and the earned-income tax credit was worth $40 billion. [...] Companies like Wal-Mart are not run by saints. They can treat workers and competitors roughly. They may be poor stewards of the environment. When they break the law they must be punished. Wal-Mart is at the center of the globalized, technology-driven economy that's radically increased American inequality, so it's not surprising that it has critics. But globalization and business innovation are nonetheless the engines of progress; and if that sounds too abstract, think of the $200 billion-plus that Wal-Mart consumers gain annually. If critics prevent the firm from opening new branches, they will prevent ordinary families from sharing in those gains. Poor Americans will be chief among the casualties.
Typical of many Corporate America apologists, this guy ignores the facts and generally all semblance of reality. He has done a masterful job of spinning the numbers to imply something that's completely opposite of Wal-Mart's true impact on America's poor, working families and many local businesses — the heart of the American dream. Let's look at some real facts:
Impact to the local economy:
  • Industry analyst, Retail Forward, predicted that for every new Supercenter that Wal-Mart opens, two local supermarkets will close. —Business Week, “Is Wal-Mart Too Powerful?,” 10/06/03
  • Wal-Mart has received more than $1 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies from state and local communities. — Good Jobs First, “Shopping for Subsidies,” May ‘04, www.goodjobsfirst.org
  • One study found that local businesses spend 53% of their revenues within the local and state economies; whereas big box stores, like Wal-Mart, spend just 14% within the local economy. — Inst. for Local Self-Reliance, 9/03
  • A study of the impact of Wal-Mart’s growth found that over ten years 7,326 Iowa businesses closed, including: 555 grocery stores, 298 hardware stores, 293 building suppliers, 161 variety shops, 158 women’s stores, and 116 pharmacies. — Dr. Kenneth Stone, Iowa State University, “Competing with Discount Mass Merchandisers,” 1995
  • A study of Wal-Mart’s expansion in Iowa found that 84 percent of all sales at the new Wal-Mart stores came at the expense of existing businesses within the same county. — National Trust For Historic Preservation, “What Happened When Wal-Mart Came to Town?,” 1996
Impact on workers' rights:
  • In California, Wal-Mart is facing a lawsuit filed on behalf of 115,919 current and former employees who were systematically and illegally denied meal breaks while working for the company. — Bloomberg News, 9/19/05; Associated Press, 9/19/05
  • In 2000, Wal-Mart closed its company-wide meat-cutting division after ten butchers in Texas voted to unionize their shop. Wal-Mart closed a profitable Canadian store in 2004 after employees chose union representation. — Associated Press, 3/3/00; 2/09/05
  • Wal-Mart [reportedly] paid $50 million to settle a lawsuit that involved 69,000 workers in Colorado who had allegedly been forced to work off the clock. In recent years, Wal-Mart has faced legal actions in over thirty states for overtime violations. — New York Times, 11/19/04
  • Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott took home $17.5 million in 2004, which equals $8,434 an hour. An average Wal-Mart associate earns just $9.68 an hour. — Institute for Policy Studies
  • The average pay for a Wal-Mart sales associate is $14,000 a year $1,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. — New York Review of Books, 12/16/04
  • On average, Costco pays its workers 65% more than Wal-Mart, yet earns more profits per employee. — New York Times, 5/3/05; Business Week, 4/12/04
Healthcare:
  • Just 47 percent of Wal-Mart employees are covered by the Wal- Mart health plan; while nationally 68 percent of workers in large firms receive their health benefits from their employer. Many of Wal-Mart’s uncovered employees are forced to rely on public health assistance, adding to the cost of the bloated Wal-Mart tax. — Kaiser Family Foundation; www.walmartfacts.com
  • As momentum grows, lawmakers in 16 states have revealed troubling statistics. Wal-Mart employees top Medicaid and CHIP rolls; many are forced to rely on public assistance for their health coverage. — Wal-Mart Watch; walmartwatch.com/healthcare
  • Wal-Mart’s health plan has deductibles as high as $1,000 in addition to many hidden fees. For example: a $100 deductible for ER visits, a $100 deductible for ambulance services and a $25 weekly “spousal” surcharge for health coverage. — Phil. Inquirer, 5/16/05; Wal-Mart 2005 Associate Guide
  • Full-time Wal-Mart employees must wait six months to be eligible for their health care plan, while part-time employees must wait two years to become eligible. — Phil. Inquirer, 5/16/05; Wal-Mart 2005 Associate Guide
Cost to taxpayers:
  • The estimated total amount of federal assistance for which Wal-Mart employees were eligible in 2004 was $2.5 billion. — “Harper’s Index,” Harper’s Magazine, Vol. 310, No. 1858, 3/2005
  • One 200-employee Wal-Mart store may cost federal taxpayers $420,750 per year. This cost comes from the following, on average:
    • $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
    • $42,000 a year for low-income housing assistance.
    • $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families.
    • $100,000 a year for the additional expenses for programs for students.
    • $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children's health insurance programs (S-CHIP)
    • $9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.
    — “The Hidden Price We All Pay For Wal-Mart, A Report By The Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce,” 2/16/04
Given the above facts, how can a sane person call Wal-Mart progressive? The answer: a sane person couldn't.

Military historian: Iraq "the most foolish war of last 2,014 years"

Guardian Unlimited has a piece today about (what it calls) "a remarkable article" about Bush and the Iraq War:
There is a remarkable article in the latest issue of the American Jewish weekly, Forward. It calls for President Bush to be impeached and put on trial "for misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 BC sent his legions into Germany and lost them". To describe Iraq as the most foolish war of the last 2,014 years is a sweeping statement, but the writer is well qualified to know. He is Martin van Creveld, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the world's foremost military historians. Several of his books have influenced modern military theory and he is the only non-American author on the US Army's list of required reading for officers. [more]
Guardian writer Brian Whitaker ends his article this way:
The inescapable fact is that the processes Mr Bush unleashed on March 20 2003 (and imagined he had ended with his "mission accomplished" speech six weeks later) will take a decade or more to run their course and there is little that anyone, even the US, can do now to halt them. In his eagerness for regime change in Iraq, Mr Bush blundered into a trap from which in the short term there is no way out: the Americans will be damned if they stay and damned if they leave.
I'm sure in Bushworld, there's a "victory" to be found somewhere... even if they have to repeatedly redefine what that word means. In my mind, based on what he said from the outset of the conflict, pulling out of Iraq while leaving behind anything less than a successful democracy (as promised) has to be considered "cut-and-run". Swallow that, Mr. President.

Wingnuts gloating over fall of liberals... in CANADA!

Right-wing bloggers, like Malice in Malkinland and The Radio Equalizer, seem to be relishing in the collapse of the Canadian Liberal government after a no-confidence vote by their parliament. This is somehow supposed to be an all-encompassing indictment of liberalism everywhere, especially of the left in America. My response would simply be this: Are you freakin' kidding me?!? The wingnuts are so numbed by their own party's corruption in this country that they have to look to another country to demonstrate the "failures" of liberals. If the charges against the Canada's Liberal Party are true, and I have no reason to doubt that they are, then that government deserves to be voted out. Unlike Republicans and conservatives, I believe that there should be accountability and integrity in government no matter who's in power. Interestingly enough, I do think that the Liberal Party corruption sounds remarkably similar to the situation with American Republicans/conservatives. I think that these wingers should spend more time minding their own backyard than looking for corruption in other countries.

"Unhinged" pot calling the kettle black

Malice in Malkinland says that Berkeley hates diversity of thought. This is the same author of a book entitled, Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild (reviewed in detail by David Neiwert). Ms. Malkin would be better served looking in the mirror, paying attention to the plank in her own eye and less attention to the speck in others' eyes.

The incongruence between American values and our government's actions

Douglas A. Johnson, the executive director of the Center for Victims of Torture based in Minneapolis, explains in a column for the Star Tribune why torture doesn't work and how it's contrary to what America stands for.

The accumulation of evidence about our own government's descent into torture and ill treatment paints a stark picture: a global network of secret detention cells, torture and deaths of detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo, and worldwide networks to support a policy known as rendition, where the United States sends detainees to countries that torture.

Despite this bleak reality, I believe Americans share a common vision that the U.S. stands for human dignity, fairness and the rule of law. But the incongruence between our values and our government's actions is great, and clearly exemplified by the president's declaration that the U.S. does not torture while at the same time the vice president aggressively lobbies Congress to oppose legislation that would prevent torture. [...]

There could not be a more critical time when American voices are needed. The Senate demonstrated that torture is not a partisan issue. All of us must contact our representatives and urge them to support the McCain amendment. In addition, we must tell our president we do not need to use torture or any form of cruelty to protect our security. We do need him to protect our values. If we do not, then we must accept responsibility for our government's shameful actions.

[Read entire column]

An editorial in the same paper sums it up best:

Discussions of torture invariably deal both with questions of morality and effectiveness. In truth, torture fails both tests, as Douglas Johnson writes on Page AA1. But while our leaders state flatly that it doesn't work and that the United States does not torture, thereby seeming to agree that torture is immoral, they have acted otherwise. They have redefined what torture is, they have allowed U.S. personnel to engage in abusive "enhanced techniques" of interrogation and they have "renditioned" detainees to nations known to torture under any definition.

(Hat tip to Once Upon A Time)

U.S.-trained Iraqi forces accused of executing Sunnis

What democratic values have we instilled in the "new" Iraq? The New York Times reports on recent accounts of kidnappings and slayings at the hands of Iraqi military:
As the American military pushes the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods.

Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation.

Some Sunni men have been found dead in ditches and fields, with bullet holes in their temples, acid burns on their skin, and holes in their bodies apparently made by electric drills. Many have simply vanished.

Some of the young men have turned up alive in prison. In a secret bunker discovered earlier this month in an Interior Ministry building in Baghdad, American and Iraqi officials acknowledged that some of the mostly Sunni inmates appeared to have been tortured.

[more]

Tell me again, how have things improved since our invasion? A Romanian blogger offers a comparison:

Saddam Removed From Power - Well at first this seemed like a success. Old Saddam was a'hidin' in his spidey hole and the blessed American military smoked him out. Not only that, but most of his top aides and deviant war criminal government were arrested and are now sitting in the dock. The people of Iraq are now free of his dictatorship! The only problem is that the new Iraqi government doesn't seem to be one whit better. Not one whit. I can't find a shred of evidence that the new guys are any better than the old. If you look at everything bad ever said about Saddam, from the fact he rigged elections, tortured people, had a vile secret police, repressed free speech, used violence against political opponents and had a network of brutal cronies in positions of power, well gosh that's pretty much what's going on in Iraq today. Maybe it's time for a chart:

Iraq Under SaddamIraq Today
Torture?YesYes
Illegal detentions?YesYes
Ba'athist thugs in power?YesYes
Rigged elections?YesYes
Censorship of media?YesYes
Use of chemical weapons against civilians?YesNo*
Functioning economy?YesNo
Religious fundamentalism including sha'ria law?NoYes
Repression of women's rights?NoYes
Functioning basic services like water, electricity?YesNo
Exporting oil to earn revenue?YesSomewhat
Engaged in war with neighboring states?YesNo
Home base for terrorism and Al-Qaeda?NoYes
Children dying of malnutrition and dehydration?YesYes
Americans and British being killed?NoYes
Well it looks like except for engaging in a war with its neighbors, the new Iraqi government is actually worse than under Saddam Hussein. Who ever wanted that to happen? I put an asterisk next to "NO" for the current government using chemical weapons against civilians. As far as I know only the American military has done that in Iraq.

Hat tip to The Left End of the Dial.

More Pentagon gross incompetence or unabashed corruption

There is so much, I'm running out of words to comment on all these stories of incompetence, mismanagement and corruption surrounding Iraq. From this morning's Washington Post:

The Air Force, under pressure from the Pentagon, committed a "gross error" last year when it rushed to sign a no-bid contract for advisers to help plan and implement Iraq's national elections and draft its constitution, the Government Accountability Office has ruled. [...]

"This obvious error constituted lack of advance planning, which compromised the agency's ability to obtain any meaningful competition and directly resulted in the sole-source award," the decision said. The Air Force should hold a competition for the second contract, which is ongoing, or justify why it should not, the report said. The Air Force did not respond to requests for comments. [...] "GAO has put its foot down: The [Pentagon] can't take shortcuts in competition that violate the law, even in a time of war," said Christopher R. Yukins, associate professor of government contract law at George Washington University.
Any guesses on whether or not this company has made significant contributions to the GOP?

Swiftboating the Wal-Mart Movie

Jim Gilliam writes in today's edition of The Huffington Post about the Wal-Mart attack machine, staffed by expert mudslingers, throwing the full weight of the discount giant against independent filmmaker Robert Greenwald and his new exposé about the company.

From the moment Wal-Mart saw the trailer they went into full attack mode complete with a war room, political operatives and spin doctors. They may have an unlimited bank account (well, actually they OWN the bank), but this film will not be swift-boated.

The Wal-Mart war room is run by Edelman PR, the famed DC PR firm known for its 50-year defense of the tobacco industry, and is staffed with people adept at feeding this echo chamber.

From Mike Deaver, Ronald Reagan's chief of staff and image guru to Mike Krempasky, a right-wing political blogger/operative with ties to key Republican dirty-tricksters such as Morton Blackwell, Roger Stone, and Richard Viguerie.

Before the film was even released, they came up with 10 pages and a video power point presentation attacking not only the trailer, but also every other film Robert Greenwald has ever made with 3 pages of bad reviews dating back to 1980.

So follow it along, this is classic right-wing echo in action. [...continued]

I think Wal-Mart using a PR strategy like that used in the defense of the tobacco industry is quite appopriate: both are killing America in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

CARTOON CONSCIENCE: "...doesn't ultimately hurt the troops"

by Mike Lester, Rome News-Tribune

Monday

Chris Matthews must be drinking the Kool-Aid

Atrios picks up on another WTF comment by Mr. "Hardball":
"Everybody sorta likes the president except the real whack jobs on the left."
Then, Atrios is kind enough to provide us with the facts:
Favorability ratings: Favorable/unfavorable (this is favorability, not job approval)
  • Hotline: 41/56
  • NBC/WSJ: 38/50
  • Zogby: 47/50
  • CBS: 33/51
  • FOX: 45/49
  • PEW: 46/51
Someone needs to play Hardball with Mr. "Hardball" and help him face the facts.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "...an honorable man of high integrity"

“Duke Cunningham is a hero. He is an honorable man of high integrity.” — Tom Delay, June 15, 2005 (as reported by The Hill). Today comes this news:
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, an eight-term congressman and hotshot Vietnam War fighter jock, pleaded guilty to graft and tearfully resigned Monday, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes mostly from defense contractors in exchange for government business and other favors.
Crooks & Liars sums it up best: "I guess there is honor among thieves."

Conservatives don't believe in equal time

"Liberal" media? What "liberal" media? Scarborough Country caved to a right-wing media critic who objected to an opposing viewpoint being put on the show. The wingnut talking head? Media Research Center's Brent Bozell. The opposing view? Larry Johnson, former counterterrorism expert for the CIA and State Dept. and frequent contributor for several networks, including Fox News. Here's what Larry had to say on Booman Tribune about the whole incident:
I was contacted by an MSNBC booker late today (Monday, 28 November) who asked if I would appear tonight on the Joe Scarborough Show to discuss whether or not the media are hypocrites when it comes to covering the leak to the Washington Post about the CIA secret prisons. The booker told me that Brent Bozell, head of the Media Research Center, was accusing the media of focusing too much on the leak of Valerie Plame and not enough on the leak about the prisons. [...]

Apparently, Mr. Bozell is a coward. He told MSNBC he would not appear if I was on the show, even if they scheduled me before or after him. He couldn't handle a man-to-man debate. Typical conservative coward. I think the term is "Girly Man". Tough talker when he is alone but unable to handle an informed debate. What is really sad is the MSNBC is caving into Bozell, rather than insisting that its audience hear both sides of an issue.

I'm sure Michelle Malkin will find some sort of "liberal" bias conspiracy at work.

Why does Laura Bush hate Christmas?

Last week, Jerry Falwell made it clear that when it comes to celebrating Christmas, "you're either with us, or you're against us," as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:
Falwell has put the power of his 24,000-member congregation behind the "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," an effort led by the conservative legal organization Liberty Counsel. The group promises to file suit against anyone who spreads what it sees as misinformation about how Christmas can be celebrated in schools and public spaces. An additional 800 attorneys from another conservative legal group, the Alliance Defense Fund, are standing by as part of a similar effort, the Christmas Project. Its slogan: "Merry Christmas. It's OK to say it."
Other far-right Christian groups are joining the crusade:
Fanning the Yule log of discontent against what the Liberty Counsel calls "grinches" like the American Civil Liberties Union are evangelical-led organizations including the 150,000-member American Family Association. It has called for a boycott of Target stores next weekend. The chain's crime, according to the group, is a ban on the use of "Merry Christmas" in stores, an accusation the chain denies. On his show last week, Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly offered a list of other retailers that he says refuse to use "Merry Christmas" in their store advertising.
Now enter the First Lady:
MRS. BUSH: Well, all things bright and beautiful is the theme this year. I think it will be really bright and beautiful with this fabulous tree. But thank you all very much. Happy holidays. I know this is the real start of the season, the Monday after Thanksgiving, and so I want to wish everybody happy holidays. And we'll see you later this week with the White House decorations.
"Happy holidays"? Why not "Merry Christmas"? Will Falwell and company boycott the White House? Will Bill O'Reilly condemn this blatant attack on Christianity? Why does Laura Bush hate Christmas? (Hat tip to Crooks & Liars)

Hastert smears Murtha, then cries foul when smear used against him

From today's New York Times:
Representative J. Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, is taking issue with a political appeal sent out by Senator John Kerry, saying the senator falsely accused him of labeling Representative John P. Murtha a coward.

"Senator Kerry's comments used for campaign fund-raising purposes are simply over the top, extremely inappropriate and factually incorrect," said Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for Mr. Hastert, referring to a Nov. 18 e-mail message sent out to supporters of Mr. Kerry by his political committee.

But an adviser to Mr. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said he was comfortable with his characterization of the speaker's reaction to a call by Mr. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The adviser, Jenny Backus, said Republicans were trying to regroup after early criticism of Mr. Murtha, a decorated Marine veteran, backfired. [...]

In the e-mail message to supporters the day after Mr. Murtha's announcement and a subsequent barrage of hostile Republican reaction, Mr. Kerry referred to his own experience. "You and I have to make it absolutely clear that we won't stand for Republican 'Swift Boat' style attacks on Jack Murtha," he said.

"Dennis Hastert - the speaker of the House who never served - accused Jack Murtha of being a coward," Mr. Kerry said as he listed Republican attacks on Mr. Murtha.

Here are the speaker's own words (as posted on his own blog):

“I am saddened by the comments made today by Rep. Murtha. It is clear that as Nancy Pelosi’s top lieutenant on armed services, Rep. Murtha and Democratic leaders have adopted a policy of cut and run. They would prefer that the United States surrender to the terrorists who would harm innocent Americans. To add insult to injury, this is done while the President is on foreign soil. [...]

“But now, Rep. Murtha and other Democrats want us to retreat. They want us to wave the white flag of surrender to the terrorists of the world. [...]

We must not cower like European nations who are now fighting terrorists on their soil. [...]

“This is the highest insult to the brave men and women serving overseas."

No, he did not use the words, "Rep. Murtha is a coward." But no one doubted what he was implying. Only now, after the backlash against the smear campaign against Murtha, have all these Republicans so "outraged" at Murtha are now so defensive about their comments and are backtracking from their rhetoric in the immediate aftermath of the furor.

There no "undo" option with the death penalty

In the wake of the apparent wrongful execution of a Texas man, conservative blogger Clayton Cramer examines the perils of today's current application of the death penalty. One of the chief reasons he opposed the death penalty is "there is no Undo button," which poses a profound problem when someone's guilt is subsequently placed in doubt. If the conviction is proven to be wrongful, you can't "undo" the death penalty if it has already been carried out. Cramer goes on to raise a very important point:
At one time, a number of states required two eyewitnesses to a murder before the state could impose the death penalty. Why? Because America was a Bible-believing nation at the time of the Revolution, and reformed many of its criminal statutes in that era to conform to the Bible. Numbers 35:30 says:
Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.
Even though I disapprove of the death penalty, using the Bible's standard on this would certainly have prevented the execution of Ruben Cantu for a crime that he apparently did not commit. Liberals, unfortunately, would never tolerate writing a law with Biblical input today.
The last comment was superfluous; I, for one, would welcome Biblical input in this process — in fact, I wish Republicans and conservatives would allow more Biblical input, but include the whole Bible, not just the snippets they want to lord over others... but that's for another post. Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast also likes the idea, yet challenges Cramer on why it will be tough to enact:
That's a terrific idea, and I think Cramer might be surprised at what liberals can tolerate. The reason a two-witness rule would have difficulty being enacted isn't because "liberals" oppose it, but because prosecutors and police unions would throw the loudest hissy fit you've ever heard. Trust me on this one -- I know from experience. After the scandals arose surrounding the Tulia drug stings, the ACLU, NAACP, and LULAC teamed up with ministers and victims families from the group Tulia Friends of Justice to help pass a bill requiring corroboration for undercover testimony in drug cases. (The original bill would have required corroboration for any undercover testimony, but the final, passed legislation required it only for confidential informants or "snitches," not police officers.) Still, it has had a big impact. The biblical requirement for corroboration was very much a part of the debate surrounding the Tulia legislation, a message carried door to door at the Texas Legislature in 2001 by Reverends Charles Kiker and Alan Bean from Tulia Friends of Justice. (I've still got a copy of the flyer they distributed with a headline reading, "The Bible and the ACLU Agree: Require Corroboration for Drug Sting Testimony.") In fact, as Rev. Kiker would be quick to point out, the corroboration requirement in Mosaic law is more extensive than what Cramer cites. In Leviticus 19:15 we're told that all accusations of crime must be corroborated: "One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." Jesus (Matthew 18:16) and the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 13: 1 and 1 Timothy 5:19) both affirmed this tradition for New Testament believers. [...] Corroboration for eyewitness testimony would be an appropriate, initial reform in the wake of Ruben Cantu's wrongful killing by the state of Texas -- but it's needed not just in murder cases but for all eyewitness testimony, which is notoriously unreliable. Cantu and the Tulia cases are the tip of the iceberg -- across the country prosecutors routinely secure convictions based on uncorroborated testimony for all kinds of cases. I don't know if Cramer's suggestion (or Moses', I suppose, depending on how you look at it) is "liberal" or "conservative," but who cares? It would be a great first step toward preventing more wrongful convictions and executions in the future.
This would, of course, require our society to get past its bloodthirsty need for harsh vengeance to make sure that the justice system has convicted the person actually guilty for the crime, not the one that seems most guilty-looking. We need to honestly examine our current justice system and open our eyes to the gross disparities that plague it. If we are going to maintain a death penalty, we need to make for damn sure that we get it right. Even just one wrongful conviction is one too many.

Malkin MSM conspiracy delusion of the day

Malice in Malkinland is always looking for the alleged "liberal" bias in the mainstream media, even when none yet exists. This morning on her blog, she has a seemingly pro-U.S. photo from Iraq that she says "you probably won't see on your newspaper's front page or on the network news." What she won't tell you is that there are any number of photos that are unflattering to the U.S. occupation that these same newspapers don't run on their front pages or that don't appear on the network news. Even more interesting is that the photo is readily accessible online at Yahoo! News and was distributed by the Associated Press, another frequent target of Malkin's malice. When you live in right-wing world, you see things that just aren't there. I think what they are seeing is the planks in their own eyes while they're complaining about the speck in their brother's eyes (Matthew 7:3-5).

U.S. Border Patrol uniforms "Made in Mexico"

You just can't make this stuff up. The Associated Press (via News 8 Austin) reports:

The labels inside U.S. Border Patrol uniforms have been making many federal agents feel uneasy.

It's not the fit or feel of the olive-green shirts and pants, but what their labels read: "Made in Mexico.'' [...continued]

CARTOON CONSCIENCE: "Why are so many American jobs going overseas?"

by Rob Rogers, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Sunday

"Frankenfluff" critique more fluff than critique

Brian Maloney-Baloney-Malarkey at The Radio Equalizer (an ironic name since he's anything but an equalizer) comes up short again at his attempt to put liberal radio and its hosts into their "proper" place. This time he takes on front man Al Franken. The Radio "Equalizer" willfully confuses sarcasm and humor with threats — the kind Bill O'Reilly actually makes, which doesn't seem to bother Mr. Maloney-Baloney-Malarkey. He makes mountains out of molehills in some of Franken's statements and seems to find some hidden meaning that no other reasonable person would see. It's a hack job of a post that has more fluff than real hard-hitting critiques. But, like his idol, Malice in Malkinland, that's typical for this wingnut bloviator — all hate based on hysterical nothingness.

Outrageous Ann Coulter: Dems "long to see U.S. troops shot, humiliated, and driven from the field of battle"

Ann Coulter is unapologetically repugnant, rhetorically dishonest and ironicly unpatriotic. Riddled with factual inaccuracies and blatant untruths, Ann Coulter assails a decorated war veteran in her latest unhinged, vitriolic rant against Democrats and war critics. This "woman" who has never served a day in the military herself impugns the character of a distinguished member of Congress who served with distinction in the Marines, accusing him of aiding the enemy and outright stating that Murtha and fellow Democrats want to see harm come to U.S. soldiers.
It is simply a fact that Democrats like Murtha are encouraging the Iraqi insurgents when they say the war is going badly and it's time to bring the troops home. Whether or not there is any merit to the idea, calling for a troop withdrawal – or "redeployment," as liberals pointlessly distinguish – will delay our inevitable victory and cost more American lives. [...]

The Democrats are giving aid and comfort to the enemy for no purpose other than giving aid and comfort to the enemy. There is no plausible explanation for the Democrats' behavior other than that they long to see U.S. troops shot, humiliated, and driven from the field of battle.

They fill the airwaves with treason, but when called to vote on withdrawing troops, disavow their own public statements. These people are not only traitors, they are gutless traitors.

[Read the entire outrageous rant]

Coulter's comments are beyond contemptible. They are, in and of themselves, unpatriotic and treasonous because it goes against everything this country was founded upon — the right of reasonable dissent. Some quotes for Coulter (and her many blind disciples) to ponder:
  • Edward R. Murrow: We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.
  • George Orwell: In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
  • Harry S Truman: Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.
  • John F. Kennedy: Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed -- and no republic can survive

Rewriting history to defend a lie

The GOP Talking Points Network, d.b.a. Fox News Channel, is hard at work trying to discredit critics who correctly point out the many examples of how the administration misrepresented the facts. FNC anchors and reporters work hard at trying to come up with some shreds of "evidence" to support their talking points only to have the facts (when allowed to be presented) come back to bite them in the ass. I feel sorry for them really; they are in an impossible situation. It's really tough to re-invent the wheel — i.e. the truth. Think Progress has the latest example of FNC revisionism.

IN MEMORIAM: 2,108 Fallen Heros

BLUE represents casualties in the last 7 days. (Names released this week)
  • Luis R. Reyes, 26, Army National Guard Sergeant, Nov 18, 2005
  • Christopher M. Alcozer, 21, Army Private, Nov 19, 2005
  • Jonathan F. Blair, 21, Army Corporal, Nov 19, 2005
  • Dominic Joseph Hinton, 24, Army Specialist, Nov 19, 2005
  • Michael J. Idanan, 21, Army Specialist, Nov 19, 2005
  • Edward Karolasz, 25, Army Staff Sergeant, Nov 19, 2005
  • Anthony R. C. Yost, 39, Army Master Sergeant, Nov 19, 2005
  • Dennis W. Zilinski, 23, Army 1st Lieutenant, Nov 19, 2005
  • Miguel Terrazas, 20, Marine Lance Corporal, Nov 19, 2005
  • Tyler J. Troyer, 21, Marine Lance Corporal, Nov 19, 2005
  • Dominic J. Sacco, 32, Army Sergeant, Nov 20, 2005
  • John Wilson "J.W." Dearing, 21, Army National Guard Private 1st Class, Nov 21, 2005
  • Denis J. Gallardo, 22, Army Sergeant, Nov 22, 2005
  • Aram Bass, 25, Army Staff Sergeant, Nov 23, 2005
  • Allen J. Knop, 22, Army Specialist, Nov 23, 2005
  • Marc A. Delgado, 21, Army Private 1st Class, Nov 24, 2005
  • Eric Pearrow, 40, Army Sergeant 1st Class, Nov 24, 2005
  • Steven C. Reynolds, 32, Army Staff Sergeant, Nov 24, 2005
  • Javier A. Villanueva, 25, Army Specialist, Nov 24, 2005
U.S. Deaths Confirmed By The DoD: 2,101 Reported U.S. Deaths Pending DoD Confirmation: 7 DoD Confirmation List Latest Coalition Fatality: November 26, 2005

Allawi: Abuse now as bad (or worse) as under Saddam

Would the administration (or all the Bush sheeple) classify this as progress?
Reuters — Abuse of human rights in Iraq is as bad now as it was under Saddam Hussein, if not worse, former prime minister Iyad Allawi said in an interview published on Sunday. "People are doing the same as (in) Saddam Hussein's time and worse. It is an appropriate comparison," Allawi told British newspaper The Observer. "People are remembering the days of Saddam," said Allawi, a secular Shi'ite and former Baathist who is standing in elections scheduled for Dec. 15. "These are the precise reasons why we fought Saddam Hussein and now we are seeing the same things. "We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated," said Allawi in an apparent reference to the discovery of a bunker at the Shi'ite-run Interior Ministry where 170 men were held prisoner, beaten, half-starved and in some cases tortured. "A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations." [Read more]
Okay, tell me again: why did we invade Iraq?

"Stay the course" means refusal to acknowledge mistakes

A story in today's New York Daily News offers some insight into the inner thinkings of the West Wing.
Even as his poll numbers tank, however, Bush is described by aides as still determined to stay the course. He resists advice from Republicans who fear disaster in next year's congressional elections, and rejects criticism from a media establishment he disdains. "The President has always been willing to make changes," the senior aide said, "but not because someone in this town tells him to - NEVER!" For the moment, Bush has dismissed discreetly offered advice from friends and loyalists to fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and bring back longtime confidant Karen Hughes from the State Department to shore up his personal White House staff. "He thinks that would be an admission he's screwed up, and he can't bring himself to do that," a former senior staffer lamented.
And that's the fundamental problem with this president. Pride keeps him from doing the right thing and our country is suffering for it. And now for a glimpse at his Nixonian paranoia:
Two sources said Bush has not only lost some confidence in his top aides, as the Daily News has previously reported, but is furious with a stream of leaks about the mood within the West Wing. "He's asking [friends] for opinions on who he can trust and who he can't," one knowledgeable source said.
Read the entire article.

What the president says vs. what the president does: post-Katrina recovery at a standstill

Here's what the president said in an address to the nation from New Orleans on Sept. 15, 2005:
"...Our first commitment is to meet the immediate needs of those who had to flee their homes and leave all their possessions behind. For these Americans, every night brings uncertainty, every day requires new courage, and in the months to come will bring more than their fair share of struggles. "...Our second commitment is to help the citizens of the Gulf Coast to overcome this disaster, put their lives back together, and rebuild their communities... And the federal government will undertake a close partnership with the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, the city of New Orleans, and other Gulf Coast cities, so they can rebuild in a sensible, well-planned way. Federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone, from roads and bridges to schools and water systems. Our goal is to get the work done quickly. "...Our third commitment is this: When communities are rebuilt, they must be even better and stronger than before the storm."
That was then. This is now. In an article in today's Washington Post, writer Michael Powell reports that not much has changed since the president's speech.
Three months ago, Katrina all but scoured this old beach town of 8,000 off the face of the Earth. To walk its streets today is to see acres of wreckage almost as untouched as the day the hurricane passed.

No new houses are framed out. No lots cleared. There is just devastation and a lingering stench and a tent city in which hundreds of residents huddle against the first chill of winter and wonder where they'll find the money to rebuild their lives.

Billy McDonald, the white-haired mayor whose house was reduced to a concrete slab by 55-foot-high waves, works out of a trailer. He doesn't expect the word "recovery" to roll off his lips for many months.

"Lots of folks don't have flood insurance; lots of folks don't have jobs; lots of folks don't have hope," McDonald said. "We're a hurting place."

This is the other land laid low by Katrina's fury. Like New Orleans to the west, hundreds of square miles of Mississippi coastland look little better than they did in early September, and many people here harbor anger that the federal government has fallen short and that the nation's attention has turned away. At least 200,000 Mississippians remain displaced, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is short at least 13,000 trailers to house them.

This is typical of this administration: pie-in-the-sky promises that are never delivered. It's the same type of delusional optimism that projected the Iraq conflict would be six months at most (Rumsfeld) — 33 months later we're still fighting — and that Iraqi oil sales would pay for the war and that the conflict would not be a burden on taxpayers (Wolfowitz) — taxpayer tab is now at $222.5 billion and counting. A reasonable person can only draw the following conclusions based on the track record of this administration from the beginning with all the major issues facing our country: they are either incompetent or they are dishonest. They don't like being called liars, so maybe they are admitting to being incompetent. In either case, they are definitely pathetic.

"Deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans"

Another step in the slippery slope of a police state: the Washington Post is reporting this morning that Pentagon is expanding its domestic surveillance activity:

The Pentagon has pushed legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies, as long as the data is deemed to be related to foreign intelligence. Backers say the measure is needed to strengthen investigations into terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.

The proposals, and other Pentagon steps aimed at improving its ability to analyze counterterrorism intelligence collected inside the United States, have drawn complaints from civil liberties advocates and a few members of Congress, who say the Defense Department's push into domestic collection is proceeding with little scrutiny by the Congress or the public.

"We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a recent interview.

[Read entire article]

You don't have to a sociopath to be Republican, but it helps

Even when I was a Reagan-worshipping, liberal-loathing, Limbaugh-zealot Republican, I always felt that I didn't quite fit all the way in. Thanks to Newshog, I now understand that I just didn't have the right personality/psychological traits that help make for a good Republican.
Republicans exhibit many of the behavioral characteristics of a sociopath or socialized psychopath-- such as an outstanding ability to charm and seduce followers. Since they appear apparently normal, they are not easily recognizable as deviant or disturbed. Although only a trained professional can make a diagnosis, it is important to be able to recognize the personality type in order to avoid further abuse. [Read more]
Hat tip to The Left End of the Dial.

Saturday

The bloodthirsty say "no mercy" for "Tookie"

Malice in Malkinland and her sheeple are crying about the "bleeding hearts" who are speaking out for clemency for Crips founder and convicted murderer Stanley "Tookie" Williams. You would think that the man is about to go free if the "bleeding hearts" are victorious. They miss or willfully ignore this interesting point: clemency does not mean pardon. The man will still die in prison. In contrast, Malice and her ilk can't be satisfied without the shedding of blood. Life-long punishment behind bars is just not good enough. We must kill this man. That explains why they war isn't a last resort for them.

JUST FOR FUN: "Have you ever....?"

Dustbury shared his answers, so I'll share mine. Have you ever... ... smoked a cigarette or tried it? Yes, when I worked during high school and a little in college. ... crashed a friend's car? No. ... stolen a car? No. ... been dumped? Yes... fortunately, only twice ... shoplifted? Yes (as a child) ... been fired/laid off? No, but only because I quit before they could. ... been in a fist fight? Yes, but not by choice and only in my youth. ... snuck out of your parent's house? No. ... been arrested? No. ... gone on a blind date? Too chicken to. ... lied to a friend? Yes, unfortunately — but not maliciously (if that counts). ... skipped school? Yes, especially in college. ... seen someone die? Not in the person's immediate presence. ... been to Canada? Not yet. ... been to Mexico? Yes — Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. ... eaten Sushi? No. Too chicken to. ... met someone in person from the internet? A few. ... taken pain-killers? Just about every day. ... had a tea party? With my daughters, yes. ... cheated while playing a game? Occasionally. But I'm doing much better now. ... fallen asleep at work? Yes, while working graveyard shift. ... used a fake ID? No. ... felt an earthquake? Not that I remember. ... touched a snake? Yes. ... been robbed? As a child, robbed by peer at knifepoint. ... petted a reindeer/goat? Goat, yes. Reindeer, no. ... won a contest? Yes, a few times. ... been suspended from school? No. ... been in a car accident? A few; fortunately none of them my fault. ... had braces? No. ... eaten a whole pint of ice cream in one night? No. ... witnessed a crime? Yes — assault, DUI. ... swam in the ocean? Yes; love it and miss it. ... sung karaoke? Not publicly. ... paid for a meal with only coins? I don't think so. ... laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose? Many times. ... been kissed under mistletoe? A couple of times, but why wait for a weed? ... crashed a party? Not intentionally. ... worn pearls? My wife doesn't think I look good in them. ... jumped off a bridge? No. ... ate dog/cat food? To my mother's horror, yes (as a toddler). ... kissed a mirror? I plead the fifth. ... glued your hand to something? Yes... more than once... (I hate Superglue) ... done a one-handed cartwheel? Hardly. ... talked on the phone for more than 6 hours? Never; I don't think I've ever talked more than 2 hours. ... didn't take a shower for a week? Not since I started taking showers; I can't go more than a day without a shower. ... pick and ate an apple right off the tree? Not a good apple. ... been told by a complete stranger that you're hot? Yes, but she was drunking and laughing at me in the process... I'm not sure that counts.

Frank Rich on Iraq: "What was not a lie?"

Raw Story offers a preview of the column Frank Rich has written for tomorrow's New York Times. Excerpts from Rich's Sunday column:

Each day brings slam-dunk evidence that the doomsday threats marshaled by the administration to sell the war weren't, in Cheney-speak, just dishonest and reprehensible but also corrupt and shameless. The more the president and vice president tell us that their mistakes were merely innocent byproducts of the same bad intelligence seen by everyone else in the world, the more we learn that this was not so. The web of half-truths and falsehoods used to sell the war did not happen by accident; it was woven by design and then foisted on the public by a PR operation built expressly for that purpose in the White House. The real point of the Bush-Cheney verbal fisticuffs this month, like the earlier campaign to take down Joseph Wilson, is less to smite Democrats than to cover up wrongdoing in the executive branch between 9/11 and shock and awe.

....

What these revelations also tell us is that Bush was wrong when he said in his Veterans Day speech that more than 100 congressional Democrats who voted for the Iraqi war resolution "had access to the same intelligence" he did. They didn't have access to the President's Daily Brief that Waas uncovered. They didn't have access to the information that German intelligence officials spoke about to The Los Angeles Times. Nor did they have access to material from a Defense Intelligence Agency report, released by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan this month, which as early as February 2002 demolished the reliability of another major source that the administration had persistently used for its false claims about Iraqi-Qaida collaboration.

The more we learn about the road to Iraq, the more we realize that it's a losing game to ask what lies the White House told along the way. A simpler question might be: What was not a lie?

Censorship at Daily Kos

It seems that some "liberals" are guilty of what they accuse their political opponents of. Power corrupts... and that includes the power that comes with publishing such a popular blog... it corrupts the very values they purport to believe in. James at The Left End of the Dial points us to a post that apparently has been censored by the "liberal" blogging bastion Daily Kos:
Apparently this diary was just too controversial for the 401k liberal crowd, and was deleted without the author's knowledge. Some kind soul was able to recover its contents along with the 500+ comments. Worth a look as much for the state of mind of a number of the commenters as anything else.
That is unfortunate because it's a post worth reading. What is even more unfortunate is that I don't think it's an isolated incident (the censorship by Kos, that is).

Administration "saying in effect that any criticism of the president is essentially treason"

Michael Kinsley writes a great piece about the administration's phony war against the critics.

"One might also argue," Vice President Cheney said in a speech on Monday, "that untruthful charges against the commander in chief have an insidious effect on the war effort." That would certainly be an ugly and demagogic argument, were one to make it. After all, if untruthful charges against the president hurt the war effort (by undermining public support and soldiers' morale), then those charges will hurt the war effort even more if they happen to be true. So one would be saying in effect that any criticism of the president is essentially treason.

Lest one fear that he might be saying that, Cheney immediately added, "I'm unwilling to say that" -- "that" being what he had just said. He generously granted critics the right to criticize (as did the president this week). Then he resumed hurling adjectives like an ape hurling coconuts at unwanted visitors. "Dishonest." "Reprehensible." "Corrupt." "Shameless." President Bush and others joined in, all morally outraged that anyone would accuse the administration of misleading us into war by faking a belief that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear and/or chemical and biological weapons.

Interestingly, the administration no longer claims that Hussein actually had such weapons at the time Bush led the country into war in order to eliminate them. "The flaws in the intelligence are plain enough in hindsight," Cheney said on Monday. So-called WMD (weapons of mass destruction) were not the only argument for the war, but the administration thought they were a crucial argument at the time. So the administration now concedes that the country went to war on a false premise. Doesn't that mean that the war was a mistake no matter where the false premise came from?

[...continued]

CARTOON CONSCIENCE: Iraq - old vs. new

by Clay Bennett, The Christian Science Monitor

Friday

One measure of the "progress" in Iraq

Washington Post staff writer Robin Wright writes about how things have changed in Iraq from his visits to Baghdad in 2003, 2004 and 2005. > Read the article

CARTOON CONSCIENCE: Solving illegal immigration

by R.J. Matson, The New York Observer and Roll Call

Thursday

Robert Jensen: No Thanks to Thanksgiving

NOTE: Below is a snippet from a sure-to-be-controversial article. While I may not necessarily agree with everything the writer says, his piece is worthy of reading and thoughtful examination.
No thanks to Thanksgiving by Robert Jensen

One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.

In fact, indigenous people have offered such a model; since 1970 they have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a spiritual/political ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas.

Not only is the thought of such a change in this white-supremacist holiday impossible to imagine, but the very mention of the idea sends most Americans into apoplectic fits -- which speaks volumes about our historical hypocrisy and its relation to the contemporary politics of empire in the United States.

[...continued]

I think a National Day of Atonement is worthy of serious consideration. However, I do not agree that it should replace the Thanksgiving holiday. While the heritage of the holiday (or the nation that observing it) may not be as pure as we hoped and thought it was, the idea of a Thanksgiving holiday is. At least one day each year, we should reflect on our many blessings and express our deepest gratitude to the people around us and to our Creator.

A day of atonement (marked by fasting and reflection on the sins of our past) followed by a day of thanksgiving (marked by a feast and celebration of the blessings in our lives) would be a powerful pair of holidays, perhaps separated by a week, like Christmas and New Year's. I could support that.

Franklin: Thanksgiving Fast (not Feast)

Benjamin Franklin tells "The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving," one of the topics covered in The Compleated Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin: The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving By Benjamin Franklin (1785) “There is a tradition that in the planting of New England, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships, as is generally the case when a civiliz’d people attempt to establish themselves in a wilderness country. Being so piously dispos’d, they sought relief from heaven by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented, and like the children of Israel there were many dispos’d to return to the Egypt which persecution had induc’d them to abandon. “At length, when it was proposed in the Assembly to proclaim another fast, a farmer of plain sense rose and remark’d that the inconveniences they suffer’d, and concerning which they had so often weary’d heaven with their complaints, were not so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony strengthen’d; that the earth began to reward their labour and furnish liberally for their subsistence; that their seas and rivers were full of fish, the air sweet, the climate healthy, and above all, they were in the full enjoyment of liberty, civil and religious. “He therefore thought that reflecting and conversing on these subjects would be more comfortable and lead more to make them contented with their situation; and that it would be more becoming the gratitude they ow’d to the divine being, if instead of a fast they should proclaim a thanksgiving. His advice was taken, and from that day to this, they have in every year observ’d circumstances of public felicity sufficient to furnish employment for a Thanksgiving Day, which is therefore constantly ordered and religiously observed.” Source: Human Events Online