Sunday, 31 May 2009

Embattled abortion doctor is shot and killed -- at church

All through the winter and the spring, we heard the rightwing loons screeching, screaming, bellowing their hate, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.

And went out to launch we-hate-Obama tea parties.

And screamed for armed revolution.

And screamed for secession from the federal government, by violence if necessary.

And screamed that all the right-thinking white folks need to buy more guns because Big Bad Obama is going to confiscate them all.

And through it all, their Republican apologists kept saying – “hey, it’s free speech, we can’t control it, and they’re harmless anyway….” Not only did the Republicans refuse to show some responsible leadership and rein in their own extremists – in some cases they egged them on. Their most extreme leaders – Newt, Cheney, Rush – cranked it up even higher, spewing their vomit on the radio and on television. It became an entire industry of bile and venom.

Fear and hate, fear and hate, fear and hate.

Sure, it’s harmless, just folks blowing off steam, right?

Abortion provider George Tiller shot to death at Wichita church

The Wichita Eagle

WICHITA - George Tiller, the Wichita doctor who became a national lightning rod in the debate over abortion, was shot to death this morning as he walked into church services.

Tiller, 67, was shot just after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th, where he was a member of the congregation. Witnesses and a police source confirmed Tiller was the victim.

No information has been released about whether a suspect is in custody. Police said they are looking for white male who was driving a 1990s powder blue Ford Taurus with Kansas license plate 225 BAB.

Homicide detectives and Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston arrived at the church after the shooting.

Members of the congregation who were inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting were being kept inside the church by police, and those arriving were being ushered into the parking lot. Witnesses are being transported downtown for interviews and other members of the congregation are slowly being released from inside the sanctuary.

Tiller has long been a focal point of protest by abortion opponents because his clinic, Women's Health Care Services at 5701 E. Kellogg, is one of the few in the country where late-term abortions are performed.

"We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down," anti-abortion group Operation Rescue said in a statement on its Web site. "Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ."

Protesters blockaded Tiller's clinic during Operation Rescue's "Summer of Mercy" protests during the summer of 1991, and Tiller was shot by Rachelle Shannon at his clinic in 1993. Tiller was wounded in both arms, and Shannon remains in prison for the shooting.

Tiller's clinic was severely vandalized earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, his lawyer said wires to security cameras and outdoor lights were cut and that the vandals also cut through the roof and plugged the buildings' downspouts. Rain poured through the roof and caused thousands of dollars of damage in the clinic. Tiller reportedly asked the FBI to investigate the incident.

Sgt. Bart Brunscheen of the Wichita Police Department said there has been no activitiy today at Tiller's clinic, although security crews were being brought in to make sure the building was secure. Officials also were going to check the clinic's security cameras to see whether there was any activity over night.

Tiller and his clinic have faced continuous threats and lawsuits. A Wichita jury ruled in March that he was not guilty of illegal abortion on 19 criminal charges he faced for allegedly violating a state law requiring an "independent" second physician's concurring opinion before performing later term abortions. Immediately following the ruling in this criminal case, the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts made public a similar complaint against Tiller that was originally filed in December 2008.

**UPDATE* -- And in no time the head of Operation Rescue swoops in to exploit the murder for his own purposes:

George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder. Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches.

In other words, he wants more of his psychotic acolytes to go to church and confront abortion providers....just like the guy did today. He put a bounty on their heads.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Guess who got La Raza awards? Boehner and Lindsey Graham

I guess they must be racists too.

Friday, 29 May 2009

The all-powerful GOP "base"

Obama’s mission these days is pretty complicated. Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Middle East, health care, banks, carmakers, pirates, Guantanamo, the works.

The GOP’s mission has nothing to do with policy. Health care? They admitted they have no ideas. Budget? Hand in an empty folder and pretend a budget is in it. And so on. And if anyone else like Obama wants to mess around in that nasty policy stuff, obstruct him at all costs.

And the GOP mission has nothing to do with finding and grooming a leader. According to the polls, the party’s current prospects – Palin, Jindal et al – are heading for a crushing defeat if they run in 2012. Which begs the obvious question: why aren’t they looking for someone who can actually win and lead? Or at least walk and chew gum at the same time? But, no, that’s not what they’re about right now. Leadership is just not their thing.

No, the party’s entire mission is….to stir up the base. Laboring 25 hours a day to spew lies and smears, to stir up the base. Fearmonger tactics, to stir up the base. Conspiracy theories and incredible whoppers. almost daily, to inflame the base. It's an entire industry.

And it’s only for the base, no one else. The party is making no effort to excite moderates and independents – in fact they’re chasing them away, with every Nuremberg-like pronouncement from Cheney or Rush or Newt. Likewise they’re chasing away women and minorities. No effort to lay the groundwork with young voters. They’re even throwing brickbats at Bush, Lindsey Graham, McCain and McCain’s 200-year-old mom for insufficient loyalty to the rightwing cause.

It’s all about stirring up the base. Throw more lies at them, and listen to the base scream and yell and pound their feet. And throw tea parties.

It is only because the party’s one target audience is the loony base, that they would ever contemplate a message such as “Torture is good! Empathy is evil!”

Is it that the grownups have all left the party, leaving a bunch of demented kids who just like throwing matches at the dog, to watch him jump and bark? “What will we goad him with tomorrow – another mythical House bill giving citizenship to all illegals? Hahahahaha – he’ll jump right out of his skin!”

Or are the party leaders afraid of the base? This Frankenstein monster they created? Does that explain behaviour which otherwise would be characterized as suicidal? Is the party leadership like a bunch of terrified campers feeding all their food to an angry bear, because they know that as soon as the sandwiches and Smores stop coming, the bear will eat the campers?

“The base” is the end to every Republican conversation.

“Hey, let’s reach out to potential members!”
“Nah, the base hates them.”
“Hey, let’s take a second look at changing our policies – the national clearly hates them and they’re twenty years out of date.”
“Nah, the base likes those policies.”
“Let’s groom a leader who could win, like Crist.”
“Nah, the base would never stand for it.”

The base. Upon what meat does this our Caesar feed, that he is grown so great?

How is it that control of half of our country has fallen into the hands of the stupidest among us, the mouth-breathers, the knuckle-draggers, the trailer trash, short-sighted, small-minded, mean-spirited, easy to frighten, easy to anger?

Is it just a total lack of leadership within the party itself? Do they simply lack the brains, the balls, the leadership ability to slap these ill-bred children upside the head and send them to their rooms?

The party leaders want to rule the world and they can’t even rein in the worst excesses of their worst offspring.

With no sign that the death spiral can be stopped.

And in the hands of these Hee Haw refugees, the august Republican brand, the Grand Old Party, has deteriorated from the incomparable leadership and glorious poetry of Abraham Lincoln -- with malice toward none, with charity for all, the better angels of our nature – to psychotic convict G. Gordon Liddy giggling about Sonia Sotomayor menstruating.

So how is this not the second-to-last thing before the party collapses and dies?

I'm still trying to figure these people out....

Who is stupider, Limbaugh or Liddy?

Limbaugh comparing Sotomayor to a Klan leader?

"Not only does she lack the often discussed appropriate judicial temperament, it's worse than that. She brings a form of bigotry and racism to the court. I don't care, we're not supposed to say it, we're supposed to pretend it didn't happen, we're supposed to look at other things but it's the elephant in the room. The real question here that needs to be asked and nobody on our side from a columnist to a TV commentator to anybody in our party has the guts to ask, how can a president nominate such a candidate? And how can a party get behind such a candidate? That's what would be asked if somebody were foolish enough to nominate David Duke or pick somebody even less offensive. It is asked."

Or Liddy?

"Let's hope that the key conferences aren't when [Sotomayor]'s menstruating or something, or just before she's going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then."

The faces of the "new" GOP!

RedState: Rush is like Jesus, we must never question him!

Peter, under pressure and fear, denied Christ not just once, but three times. Peter, though, feared death. The strain on Peter was great. The rest of us, though, typically fear the opinions of others.

There are those who like it when we feel guilty for associating with someone. More troubling, in the conservative movement and in the greater right-of-center coalition, there are many, many fellow traveler who would rather spend their time throwing their own under the bus than fighting the left....

....The incidents of late with Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Dick Cheney, and others is why I raise this. Putting it bluntly, were these guys on the left, their fellow leftists would at best be cheering them on and at worst silently nodding along. There wouldn’t be any on that side rushing to the nearest microphone to condemn them.... Peter denied Christ three times. Our goal should be to not deny Christ and also to not deny the valuable members of our own movement. Embracing them does not mean we embrace every word and every deed. But it should likewise mean we don’t race to the nearest microphone to condemn our own when they do something [indiscreet]. The people we should shun are the ones who are quick to throw the rest of us out for daring to stand up for our friends.

Hat tip to Crooks And Liars, and Politico.

Sotomayor persuades GOP judge to side with police

So much for the empathic bleeding-heart liberal meme.

The GOP smear campaign regarding car dealers

I've had to use 538's text to debunk this lie so many times in the last few days, that I'm sticking it up here so that I and anyone else can use it to slap the loons down yet again. Remember to correctly attribute 538.

A meme that is currently picking up traction in the conservative blogosphere is that the list of dealerships to be shuttered as a result of Chrysler's bankruptcy contains a disproportionate number donors to Republican candidates. There have been furious efforts to prove this contention by looking up campaign contributor lists at the Huffington Post, Open Secrets, and other places.

There is just one problem with this theory. Nobody has bothered to look up data for the control group: the list of dealerships which aren't being closed. It turns out that all car dealers are, in fact, overwhelmingly more likely to donate to Republicans than to Democrats -- not just those who are having their doors closed.

It shouldn't be any surprise, by the way, that car dealers tend to vote -- and donate -- Republican. They are usually male, they are usually older (you don't own an auto dealership in your 20s), and they have obvious reasons to be pro-business, pro-tax cut, anti-green energy and anti-labor. Car dealerships need quite a bit of space and will tend to be located in suburban or rural areas. I can't think of too many other occupations that are more natural fits for the Republican Party.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

The GOP war on Hispanics, and the impact on 2012

Bookmark all this stuff for 2012: the GOP's effort to characterize Latinos as illegal immigrants, their holy war against Sotomayor, and their characterization of La Raza as the Latin KKK...

...And we'll see how much Hispanic support for the GOP drops in 2012. Currently it's around 30 percent. How long is it going to stay that high, when the GOP seems hell-bent on conveying the same image of Hispanics that they do for terrorists -- litle brown Klan-style extremists infiltrating our country!! AACCKK!

Fellas, you can't spin up your base by demonizing Hispanics, and then turn around and ask Hispanics for their votes. The loons in your base really are that stupid, but the Mexicans aren't. They know caca de toro when someone tries to sell them a sackful of it (as you can see I am not bilingual).

Hispanics made up almost 10 percent of the vote in 2008. So if the Hispanic GOP vote drops from 30 to 20 percent in 2012, that means the GOP loses a point nationally. And if that one percent is in the wrong places, it could hurt the GOP badly.

Could this GOP convulsion over Sotomayor impel Obama to take a serious look at contesting Texas in 2012? He didn't even bother in 2008 and he still got solid support from Hispanics there, and blacks, and women, and moderates. Even if Obama doesn't win Texas, he scares the hell out of the Republicans particularly on the fundraising side, and he lays the groundwork for other, whiter Democrats to launch further assaults on southern states after Obama retires. Campaigning in Texas is expensive, but in 2008 Obama proved he could raise tons of money and bury the opposition with it.

Without Texas, there is no big state the GOP can rely on, in the Electoral College. And that's how landslides begin.

The GOP message: torture is good, empathy is evil

Let's put that on a bumper sticker!

Clearly Lord Voldemort really is their party philosopher.

And they wonder why their party is about as popular as earaches and bad Scotch.

So you guys even realize how fucking stupid you sound?

Republican admits -- we have no plan on health care

Rob Portman, a Republican Senate candidate in Ohio, has now admitted in an interview that the GOP doesn’t have a position on health care. Worse, he says he came to that conclusion after multiple discussions with GOP Congressional leaders about the issue.

Check out this nugget buried in a National Journal article (subscription only) about Portman:

Republicans have also taken some heat nationally for not focusing on health care in their campaigns in recent years, but Portman already has been speaking on the issue frequently.

“We have to have an alternative. … I will tell you, I don’t think there is a Republican alternative at this point,” he said. He said he reached that conclusion after talking to Senate leaders and lawmakers about the GOP’s position. “There isn’t one,” he said. “There’s a task force, and I applaud them for that.”

Congressional Republicans have enlisted all manner of political consultant, such as Frank Luntz, to tell them how to attack the health care ideas being floated by Dems. Portman’s candor isn’t exactly going to bolster their claim that they have any constructive alternatives in mind.

Hat tip to Kos.

Good news on health care from Baucus and Nelson

Baucus is now on the record as ready to fight for the public option, and Nelson is at least willing to discuss it. Previously he tried to organize a posse to fight the public option, but failed to round up much of a posse.


Not only do state-court judges possess the power to "make" common law, but they have the immense power to shape the States' constitutions as well.

The judges of inferior courts often "make law," since the precedent of the highest court does not cover every situation, and not every case is reviewed.

When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.

OH. MY. GOD!!!

...Fooled ya! The quotes are from Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, heroes of the loony right.

Hat tip to HuffPo.

Rape as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy

More details on the censored torture photos:

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

For starters, it means that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld could easily be indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit rape. For years we thought Nixon was the most vile president in U.S. history, but compared to Bush, Nixon is Mahatma Fucking Gandhi.

And characteristically, the gutless GOP leadership will evade all responsibility for their actions and blame it all on a few "bad apple" buck privates who allegedly did it all on their own initiative. These American soldiers just woke up one day and said "ya know, it's time we took a flashlight and jammed it up that girl's ass."

**UPDATE** -- And since a Bush holdover at the Pentagon is denying everything, here's some substantiation, from two Republicans, a general and the Red Cross. Way back in May 2004, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham not only knew about the really bad photos with the rapes, but demanded they be publicized. "The American public needs to understand, we're talking about rape and murder here”. Rumsfeld said there were more photographs which were more damaging. The Red Cross was warning U.S. officials about systematic prisoner abuse way back in 2003, and a U.S. general disclosed that military intelligence agents and contractor-interrogators told U.S. soldiers to abuse prisoners.

So Palin, Steele, Jindal weren't affirmative action picks?

For months now GOP leaders have been hyperventilating about the need to appeal to women and minorities, in part by putting forward laughably unqualified airheads like Palin and Steele forward as the next generation of leaders.

But then Obama finds a completely qualified Latina, and that's affirmative action run amuck, right?

And that's just the last few months -- keep going back and you'll read the touching life stories of Clarence Thomas, Harriet Miers, Alberto Gonzalez, all of whom were appallingly unfit for the posts for which they were nominated....

The few times Republicans do hire competent women and minorities, they ignore and humiliate them -- Christine Whitman, Condi Rice, Colin Powell...Too uppity.

Jesus had two dads

Quote of the day from a friend in Baltimore.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Palin wears miniskirt to event honoring war dead

Just another class broad.

Which justices are activist? The Republicans

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 -- 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.

And keep in mind that the "marking period" here was 1994-2005, so they were overturning laws written by Republicans.

So let's cut through the bull. The Republicans actually like activist judges -- when they're Republican. When they screech "activist", run it through your Bullcrap-To-English dictionary and they really mean "Democrat".

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

GOP lies -- what Sotomayor really said

Here is what Sotomayor actually said about making policy -- she advocates a position exactly opposite to what the GOP has said:

The saw is that if you're going into academia, you're going to teach, or as Judge Lucero just said, public interest law, all of the legal defense funds out there, they're looking for people with court of appeals experience, because it is -- court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know -- and I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don't make law, I know. OK, I know. I'm not promoting it, and I'm not advocating it, I'm -- you know. OK. Having said that, the court of appeals is where, before the Supreme Court makes the final decision, the law is percolating -- its interpretation, its application. And Judge Lucero is right. I often explain to people, when you're on the district court, you're looking to do justice in the individual case. So you are looking much more to the facts of the case than you are to the application of the law because the application of the law is non-precedential, so the facts control. On the court of appeals, you are looking to how the law is developing, so that it will then be applied to a broad class of cases. And so you're always thinking about the ramifications of this ruling on the next step in the development of the law. You can make a choice and say, "I don't care about the next step," and sometimes we do. Or sometimes we say, "We'll worry about that when we get to it" -- look at what the Supreme Court just did. But the point is that that's the differences -- the practical differences in the two experiences are the district court is controlled chaos and not so controlled most of the time.

And here is her statement on Latin women and white men; the GOP doesn't want you to know that she was referring to discrimination cases, in which a Latina obviously would have more insight.

In our private conversations, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination cases have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant but I also choose to emphasize that the people who argued those cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape ultimately were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Connie Baker Motley, the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, and others of the NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the Court that equality of work required equality in terms and conditions of employment.

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.

Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.

However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see.

Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.

And a hat tip to 538 for debunking the "she had 60 percent of her rulings overruled" crap:

There are two fairly obvious problems with this. Firstly, only five of Sotomayor's opinions have been ruled upon by the Supreme Court. That's hardly enough to reach a statistically sound conclusion. Moreover, as a matter of semantics, most people don't begin quoting percentages until the number of instances is significantly higher than five. If you came into the office on a Monday morning, and I asked you whether you'd gotten out over the weekend, you probably wouldn't say: "Yes, I got out 66.67% of the time!" -- you'd just tell me that you went out on Friday and Saturday and then sat around and watched basketball on Sunday.

But secondly, a 60 percent reversal rate is actually below average based on the Washington Times' criteria. According to, the Supreme Court typically reverses about 75 percent of circuit court decisions that it chooses to rule upon.

The reason that the reversal rate is so high, of course, is that the Supreme Court has a lot of discretion about which cases it chooses to review and rule upon, and is generally not going to be inclined to overturn law dictated by a lower court unless the legal reasoning is substantially questionable and has a strong chance of reversal. The better metric would probably be the number of decisions that the Supreme Court overturned out of all of Sotomayor's majority opinions -- whether the Court elected to review them in detail or not. According to the terrific SCOTUSBLOG, "Since joining the Second Circuit in 1998, Sotomayor has authored over 150 opinions, addressing a wide range of issues, in civil cases". Even if we do not count the opinions she has authored in criminal, rather than civil, cases, that means the Supreme Court's reversal rate is not 60 percent, but at most 2 percent -- 3 cases out of 150. I have no idea whether that figure is above average, below average, or somewhere in between, but three reversals in more than a decade's worth of jurisprudence strikes this layman as being an extremely solid track record.

GOP yuckapuck has campaign disaster

DAYTON — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rob Portman stopped at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Sunday, May 24, to “meet and greet” veterans at the Patriot Freedom Festival, but was quickly informed by VA officials that campaigning on federal property is illegal.

Portman, who was accompanied by his teenage son, Will, as well as his campaign manager, said he wasn’t seeking votes at the VA, but was simply there to talk to veterans about their needs and concerns.

“I will be a champion for this facility if I’m elected,” Portman told a reporter as he left the VA grounds.

Several veterans told Portman that they were concerned about cuts to the VA budget during the Bush administration when Portman was head of the White House Office of Management and Budget. The OMB has broad financial management power as well as the responsibility of preparing the executive budget.

Jim Crane, a former national officer for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, told Portman that during the last four years, veterans have seen the processing time for veterans to qualify for VA health care benefits increase from 70 days to more than 300 days. He also said the VA mental health clinic is no longer staffed on weekends because of a lack of funding.

Obama appointed a new VA national administrator earlier this year, Eric K. Shinseki, and has proposed a VA budget of $113 billion for 2010, a $15 billion increase from the 2009 budget. The request calls for $52.5 billion in funding for VA medical care, an increase of $4.9 billion over 2009 funding levels, or 10.3 percent, according to, a Web site devoted to military and veterans benefits.

GOP Senators who voted to put Sotomayor on the bench the last time

Bennett of Utah

Eleven years ago, these Senators voted to put her on the bench; she was originally a Bush appointee.

If any of them flipflop now, then clearly we throw the Hypocrisy flag. Particularly Snowe, who publicly put pressure on Obama to nominate a woman.

PS Those are the GOP Senators still in the Senate who voted for her. Know who else?

Jesse Helms. Noted admirer of liberals, women and Hispanics. The guy who won a Senate election with the "white hands" ad aimed at the black candidate. That Jesse Helms.

What does it take to unseat an incumbent president?

The Republicans face an uphill battle in tossing Obama out of the White House; the polls show Obama is likely to win by double digits next time.

So how hard is it to pick off a sitting president?

Historically, there are three ways to do it.

First -- running for reelection right after a close, controversial election: John Adams and Jefferson fought two hard-fought races and won one each, with Jefferson unseating Adams in 1800; the same happened with Adams' son and Jackson, and then Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland much later. Almost all these races were very tight. Ford wasn't even elected, and then Carter beat him in a squeaker before being unseated by Reagan (and the Ayatollah). This scenario does not apply to Obama -- he crushed McCain.

Second, a party split: the GOP split in 1912, and as a result Taft not only lost, but came in third. The same thing almost happened to Truman -- the Democrats split three ways in 1948. Notwithstanding the efforts of some Blue Dogs like Ben Nelson to get in Obama's face, the Democratic party isn't going to split in 2012.

Third, economic disaster: Martin Van Buren was wiped out by a financial crash; the same happened to Hoover a century later. Bush 41 lost largely because of a recession. This is the issue Obama needs to keep an eye on: polls show that the American people blame the Republicans for the economic crisis and are willing to give Obama some time to clean it up, perhaps even as long as four years, but Obama would be much more comfortable running for reelection during a recovery.

So judging by history, it really is the economy, stupid.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Poll smackdown: Powell beats Cheney two to one

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Monday, suggests that 70 percent have a favorable opinion of Powell. Only 30 percent of those polled have a favorable view of Limbaugh. 37 percent say they have a favorable opinion of Dick Cheney.

Quote of the day

"Incidentally, it's odd that wingnuts are making a big (misogynistic) deal out of the speaker's apparent Botox treatments when, in fact, the House minority leader spends more time on tanning beds than a teenage girl. "

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Cheney's rants -- driven by failure to win book deal?

When Bill Clinton left office he got a $15 million advance for his book. Cheney is seeking only $2 million for his book, and so far he has failed to get even that, in part because publishers apparently know he's a hated scumbag whose memoirs won't exactly be flying off the shelves.

This would explain why Cheney's going on TV every week, saying as many outrageous things as he can -- to keep the cameras pointed him, and prevent his sad, pathetic slide into the oblivion he has richly earned. Ann Coulter does the same thing -- since everyone knows she's a scumbag, the only gig she has left is to be as entertaining and outrageous a scumbag as possible.

Cheney even has his daughter out there flacking for him. It's almost as contemptible as the way Sarah Palin exploited her daughter for political purposes.

How sad. A solid 9 on the Schadenfreude scale.

GOP has 3% more support than...Perot in 1992

Quote of the week from Clay Rehmus.

The Republicans, after having won presidential elections time and again over more than a century, and declaring themselves the permanent ruling national majority only a decade ago, now have about as much support as the 1992 Reform party, a "party" that was essentially an instant-brewed cult of personality led by Ross Perot, who had already revealed himself to be dangerously insane. Imagine the Bull Moose party as though it were led by David Koresh -- that was the Perot movement. And the GOP is polling at roughly the same level.

New GOP ad: Pelosi = Pussy Galore

GOP is targeting Pelosi because of her gender -- they ran an add allegedly attacking her leadership skills, and portraying her as James Bond babe Pussy Galore. And then it shows her being shot.

Friday, 22 May 2009

The big picture on torture, Guantanamo, Cheney, Pelosi

In the last few weeks, I have posted some two dozen items on the tangled mess of issues related to Guantanamo, waterboarding, etc. So I decided to sweep the whole thing into one pile, and see if the big picture makes any sense.

Here are the facts that we have in fact been able to establish.

Waterboarding is illegal, it causes more problems than it solves, it actually makes the intelligence-gathering effort harder rather than easier, and is a dumbass idea.

Cheney is a bottomless fountain of lies, fallacies, and fearmonger tactics; in particular, the notion that the Bush crime family made us more safe and Obama makes us less safe is demonstrable nonsense, and the notion that closing Guantanamo puts us in danger is also poppycock. And virtually all his bullcrap can be shot down using Republican sources.

The GOP jihad against Pelosi is also loaded with proveable lies and fallacies.

Now, the details.


Waterboarding is torture, and illegal. For that we rely on Title 18 of the U.S. Code, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Geneva Convention, and some other rules you don’t get to break. A rightwing radio host who had insisted that waterboarding isn’t torture agreed to be waterboarded – and changed his mind in exactly six seconds. McCain also refuted Cheney’s screeching on the waterboarding issue. Bob Barr, the arch-conservative who led the effort to impeach Clinton, says torture is illegal. Even Reagan jailed cops who waterboarded prisoners.

The danger of using torture and other such nonsense in a system with virtually no adult supervision is made vivid by the fact that a hundred of our detainees have already died in custody, and a third of them are already confirmed or suspected homicides; meanwhile one interrogator who hated the notion of torturing people committed suicide; details of the incident were covered up by the Pentagon. Meanwhile the Senate Armed Services Committee shot down Cheney’s claim that the abuse at Abu Ghuraib was the work of rogue guards not sanctioned by any higher authority.

**UPDATE** -- Here is a professional interrogator, neatly destroying theGOP arguments about torture. He makes clear the danger of sending untrained interrogators to torture people with no actual rules of engagement; one of the interrogators killed herself rather than torture prisoners. He notes that torture can actually interfere with effective interrogation techniques -- once you start using both methods, it's impossible to separate the good intelligence from the bad, which compromises all the intel, good and bad.

[ **UPDATE** -- And again -- the senior interrogator who found Zarqawi also blew apart Cheney’s assertions from last week. He points out that it was when the world found out about the abuses of our detainees, that angry foreign fighters streamed into Iraq to kill our soldiers – the abuse was in fact the top recruiting tool for the terrorists, and it helped get our soldiers killed. He notes that we convicted a Japanese soldier after WWII for waterboarding prisoners. He also notes that torture, unsurprisingly, makes detainees less cooperative in interrogations, and that virtually all we accomplished in the interrogations came through legal interrogation techniques, not torture; we might have had a chance to locate Usama bin Laden if we hadn’t switched from legal methods to torture with Zubayda and KSM. ]

[ And now Carl Levin, debunking Cheney, using the documents which Cheney claimed would back his story. For example:

"Mr. Cheney has also claimed that the release of classified documents would prove his view that the techniques worked. But those classified documents say nothing about numbers of lives saved, nor do the documents connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of the abusive techniques. I hope that the documents are declassified so that people can judge for themselves what is fact and what is fiction." ]


Cheney has been spouting rather a lot of lies and logical fallacies, in addition to the big ones on waterboarding, Guantanamo etc. Bush’s own Pentagon people shot down Cheney’s claim that Saddam was linked to Al-Qa’ida and other terrorists; the one big-name terrorist who managed to get to Baghdad…was killed by Saddam. Cheney claimed that the Bush gang moved decisively against al-Qa'ida and the Taleban, ignoring the fact that the leaders of both groups are thriving because the Bush administration was too obsessive about Iraq. Cheney implied that Obama was at fault for blocking the release of key documents...It was actually an executive order by Bush. A number of Republicans have said they want Cheney to shut up.


Cheney falsely claimed that the Director of National Intelligence backed him up in claiming that torture yielded valuable intelligence we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. A CIA investigation showed no evidence that the torture yielded anything valuable. Bush’s FBI Director also rejected the idea that we got valuable intelligence. The claim that torture yielded information which prevented an attack in LA – also a lie, already debunked. Torture actually hurts the intelligence effort: two detainees admitted that they gave inaccurate intelligence just to avoid being tortured – the false intelligence pertained to the mythical Iraq-terror link which Bush and Cheney wanted so badly to establish.

Also, Cheney stressed the importance of getting good intelligence while omitting the fact the Bush gang regularly ignored or fudged the intelligence they did get.

Stopping the torture program doesn’t make us less safe. If it did, the Bush gang wouldn’t have stopped it five years ago, would they? Their own actions belie their words. Likewise Bush’s Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge, refuted Cheney’s claim that Obama made us less safe, and Bush’s Director of National Intelligence shot down Cheney’s claim that releasing torture-related memos made us less safe. Bush’s generals refuted the notion that stopping the torture, or even talking about the torture issue, means we’re not supporting our troops – the generals said the torture itself is fostering terrorism and endangering our troops. And lying about it and concealing it isn’t helping our tattered credibility either.

**UPDATE** -- And now the National Security Adviser has debunked Cheney, pointing out that America is safer under Obama.


The Guantanamo detainees are not, as Cheney claims, the worst of the worst. The Bush gang stupidly offered a cash reward in the streets of Afghanistan for terrorists, no proof needed, so any local Afghan with a gun could run out and grab anybody even remotely Arab-looking, kidnap him, and collect the money. An overwhelming majority of the guys we grabbed are innocent of anything, and even the CIA admitted it way back in 2002. The New York Times reported that the released detainees were rejoining the jihad, but it was an invalid report and they had to backtrack.

If there were evidence against these guys, Bush would have taken them to court. Instead Bush was caught hiding evidence that proved the innocence of some detainees. A court spanked the Bush gang for that – it’s illegal. Privately, the Bush administration admitted to the Germans that some of the detainees were innocent – but resisted saying the same thing to the American people.

The claim that Obama is endangering us by closing Guantanamo is ridiculous. Even assuming these guys are real terrorists, which in most cases they’re not – you know how many people we have in American prisons who are genuinely dangerous? Proven to be dangerous with actual evidence?

Cheney has selective amnesia on this issue. He slammed Obama for the effort to ship detainees to other countries...a process begun by Bush and Cheney. Bush and Robert Gates, both Republicans, refuted Cheney on Guantanamo; Bush, Rice and Gates were working to shut down Guantanamo before Obama ever got to the White House.

Funny how Bush and Obama proposed exactly the same thing -- shutting down Gitmo -- and Bush gets a free pass while Obama is accused of putting a terrorist on every street corner. And the media plays along.

[**UPDATE** from AFP: Gates said in an interview that opponents of Obama's decision to close the "war on terror" prison at Guantanamo were engaging in "fear-mongering," a reference to Cheney's stance on the issue. ]

[**UPDATE** -- Also, Colin Powell ridiculed the notion that our prisons can’t handle the Guantanamo detainees; he said Gitmo has damaged our image; he pointed out that both Bush and Powell himself had called for Gitmo to be closed. ]

[**UPDATE** -- And now the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has called for the closure of Guantanamo, on the grounds that the prison is a superb recruiting tool for terrorists. He has been calling for its closure for some time. ]

[ **UPDATE** -- And now the hero of the right, Petraeus, endorses Obama both for ending the torture and for closing Guantanamo. ]


Two things which have been established firmly, are that the CIA has lied repeatedly to Congress, and that Pelosi did not know about the waterboarding as early as the Republicans claim. Kerry, Obey, Graham, Rockefeller, Specter, Fox News, House Republican leader Boehner, leading Republican Hoekstra pointed out the CIA’s lies to Congress. In fact the CIA is being investigated now, for lying to Congress. It has been established that the CIA lied about the briefings on the interrogations, and four of the above Congress members already have specifically refuted the claim that Pelosi was briefed about the waterboarding. Both the current CIA boss and Bush’s former CIA boss Porter Goss were pressed to back up the GOP accusations against Pelosi; even Goss, a rabid arch-conservative who hates everything Pelosi stands for and would love to see her destroyed, backpedaled rather than accuse her on this point. One GOP investigator not only admitted that Pelosi didn’t know about the torture, but also faulted her for not asking more questions – can’t have it both ways, guys! A logical fallacy.

Another logical fallacy by the GOP: Bush's crimes are not extenuated by anybody he claims he told about it. Telling somebody you’re committing a crime doesn’t make it legal: it makes it a criminal conspiracy.
Another fallacy: that Pelosi should have stopped the torture. Setting aside the fact that she didn’t know it was going on, she wasn’t even Speaker when all this happened – in fact she was in the minority party, during a time in which the minority party was barely allowed to eat in the cafeteria and use the toilets in the House chamber, let alone demand an investigation or legislation. Furthermore the Bush gang made clear time after time that they intended to ignore any Congressional input with respect to any issue which, in their view, infringed upon the national security prerogatives of the executive.
Another fallacy: how can the Republicans simultaneously insist that there is no scandal, and that Pelosi is implicated in…the non-existent scandal? “Pelosi should have stopped us even though we did nothing wrong!”?

Newt screeched a stream of insults at Pelosi and demanded she resign. Other Republicans demanded she apologize, or be impeached, etc etc. A new GOP ad shows Pelosi being shot. Classy bunch.

**UPDATE** -- Yet another official -- this one from the CIA -- casting doubt on the accusations against Pelosi.

...and another source indicating that Cheney and Rumsfeld were urging the CIA to lie to Congress as far back as the 1970s.


So here’s the part I don’t understand yet.

The facts are easy to establish on these issues: the GOP knows that if they push this, it will turn into a year-long probe into Bush’s crimes and follies, a total disaster for the GOP, and in the meantime they can’t gain any traction on the issues they could actually win on, like spending. An even bigger hazard: a number of former Bush administration officials have admitted that the aim of the torture was to force detainees to falsely accuse Saddam of links to terrorism in time for the 2002 elections – a full exploration of that issue could actually kill the party dead, dead, dead. So why are they doing this?

Perhaps they know their other issues are weak, as evinced by the way the attack on Obama’s spending devolved into the pathetic tea-party fiasco which had no effect whatsoever on the popularity of Obama or his policies.

Perhaps they’re worried about the coming health care battle, and want to use a side issue like this to soften him up first.

Perhaps the Pelosi thing is driven by the fact that this bunch of reactionary dead white males like beating up on girls, particularly Democrats: not long ago a Bush administration official admitted that they handled Katrina the way they did because their main aim was to make Kathleen Blanco look bad and beat her up a little. That, not managing the crisis response, was their main focus. But directing their fire at Pelosi now is silly: she and Obama are the two Democrats who are completely secure in their positions (contrary to the precarious position of Reid), and attacking Pelosi gets them nothing – not even a chance to alter the balance in the power in the House

**UPDATE** -- The fact that the GOP is targeting Pelosi because of her gender, was driven home forcefully when they ran the ad allegedly attacking her leadership skills -- and portraying her as James Bond babe Pussy Galore. And then shooting her.

Perhaps they just want to fire up the GOP base, to show that at least the Gestapo wing of the party, with all their sledgehammer political tactics, is still alive and kicking. The only things which can be relied upon to spin up the base are fear and hate, so going that route may just be force of habit for the gauleiters of today’s GOP. But that also alienates the all-important moderates and independents, two groups which the Republicans have inexplicably showed no interest in wooing this spring.

Perhaps they interpreted Obama’s expressed intent to avoid a partisan fight on these issues as a sign of weakness: “If he says he won’t fight on this, let’s just keep punching him in the teeth until he changes his mind. Bloody him up a little.” That strategy would be pretty ludicrous because if the repeated Republican harassment impelled Obama to pursue these issues he could destroy the Republicans, but as long as he continues the arm’s-length stance, they can keep taking pokes at him, and at Pelosi.

Perhaps they have no coherent party strategy at all, reflective of the continuing civil war within the GOP – some Republicans want Cheney to fight on, others want him to shut up, some want an investigation into all this, others dread it. Steele wants a probe into all these issues, but he’s an idiot: Boehner was out there insisting that Pelosi apologize, but when he was asked whether he wanted an investigation, he backpedaled. Some Republicans threatened Eric Holder (perhaps they think blacks are weak like women…?); they told him that if there is an investigation, they will fight tooth and nail to smear any Democrat they can, the way they’re doing to Pelosi. How they would make such nonsense work is debateable: perhaps they would go to the old standby – blame Clinton for everything.

So the Republicans are gambling on a laughably fallacious campaign to try to exploit an issue which could very easily blow back and kill their party, and no one can figure out why. As Herman Wouk would say, giggling idiots juggling dynamite.

It is a puzzlement.

Actually, we do know one reason why Cheney went insane and screeched a bunch of desperate nonsense in that speech, even though a lot of Republicans want him to shut up and go away. As his daughter admitted to Fox, Cheney did it because he fears prosecutions are coming.

Rightwing Pundit changes mind after being waterboarded for 6 seconds

Rick Perry uses $11 mil in stimulus money to fix up his mansion$11-mil-from-stimulus-to-repair-Perrys-mansion

This is the guy who declared a holy war on stimulus money, right? Too wasteful...?

Kennedy leads 28 Senators in demanding public option for health care

28 down, 22 to go, and Obama has a legislative win that will ensure his reelection.

NY Times backtracks on claim that released detainees join the jihad

Another GOP talking point goes down in flames.

Poll: Obama would crush any opponent in 2012

The big names in the GOP were matched up against Obama in a poll, and they got whupped by 13 to 19 points. Huckabee came closest.

The one guy who might have come within single digits of Obama is...the guy Obama just sent to China.

New GOP ad shows Pelosi being shot


Lies and omissions in Cheney's speech

Cheney's claims that the torture was legal and stopped attacks, and that Obama was wrong to release the torture memos, and that there was no link between Guantanamo and Abu Ghuraib, and that the Guantanamo detainees were the worst of the worst, and that Saddam had links to the terrorists...were refuted by the FBI, the CIA, the Director of National Intelligence, the Senate Armed Services Committee, the media, everybody.

He claimed that the Bush gang moved decisively against al-Qa'ida and the Taleban, ignoring the fact that the leaders of both groups are thriving because the Bush administration was too obsessive about Iraq. He stressed the importance of getting good intelligence while omitting the fact the Bush gang regularly ignored or fudged the intelligence they did get. He implied that Obama was at fault for blocking the release of key documents...It was actually an executive order by Bush. He slammed Obama for the effort to ship detainees to other countries...a process begun by Bush and Cheney.

A master class in lies and logical fallacies.

**UPDATE* -- also debunking Cheney's claims is...Bush's Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge.

**UPDATE** -- Also smacking down Cheney: John McCain.

Three other points:

Bush also disagrees with Cheney -- he promised to close Guantanamo.

Also, Robert Gates backs Obama and refutes Cheney, his former boss, on Guantanamo.

Also, I checked the straight-up news reporting in the mainstream media -- ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, the Times and the Post -- looking for any reporter willing to step forward and point out the obvious lies in Cheney's speech. No such luck. So much for the alleged liberal bias of the media.

Another lawmaker busts the CIA for lying to Congress

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) knows a little something about that. During the late 1980s, he led a two-and-a-half year investigation into the CIA, the Nicaraguan Contras and cocaine trafficking, and the senator was on the receiving end of CIA deception.

So, would the CIA ever lie?

"In the case of one person who was tried and convicted, they lied. He overtly lied and was prosecuted for it by the government of the United States," said Kerry just off the Senate floor. "He was the director of operations for the region."

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Former CIA boss won't confirm CIA attack on Pelosi

He was the CIA chief, he was in the room when the briefings took place, and as a rabid rightwing Republican he would have every motive to bellow "YES, SHE KNEW EVERYTHING FROM THE BEGINNING"...if it were true.

Also, a Time magazine investigation confirms this is a lot of GOP hooey.

Michael Steele: Obama will ban Limbaugh and guns



PS Steele also said -- “Like a bad diet, liberalism will kill you. It’s a drug we don’t need to be hooked on."

This guy is just not getting enough oxygen to his pilot light.

Even Fox admits CIA attack on Pelosi is unravelling

New Errors Surface About Accuracy of CIA Document on Interrogation Methods....

New questions surfaced Wednesday about the accuracy of a CIA document meant to settle who in Congress knew about severe interrogation methods approved by the Bush administration.
Three new errors appeared to emerge in the CIA's matrix of 40 congressional briefings on so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. The CIA acknowledged one of the errors but continued to stand by its version of events in the other two cases.

CIA Director Leon Panetta acknowledged in a May 6 letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, that the CIA's list may not be completely accurate. "In the end, you and the committee will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened," Panetta wrote.

Specter: "CIA Has A Very Bad Record When It Comes To ... Honesty"

Arlen Specter: "The CIA has a very bad record when it comes to -- I was about to say candid, that's too mild -- to honesty." Specter referred to misleading information about the CIA's involvement in mining harbors in Nicaragua, and the Iran-Contra affair. "Director Panetta says the agency does not make it a habit to misinform Congress. I believe that is true. It is not the policy of the Central Intelligence Agency to misinform Congress," Specter said. "But that doesn't mean that they're all giving out the information."

**UPDATE** -- Now even Boehner questions the honesty of the CIA....

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

CIA tapdancing on records of briefings on interrogations

Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) wrote to CIA Director Leon Panetta yesterday to claim an inaccuracy in the CIA’s list of briefings held for members of Congress on the so-called “enhanced interrogation” program. Specifically, Obey said that a House Appropriations Committee aide named Paul Juola never attended a Sept. 19, 2006 briefing that the CIA briefing chart listed him as attending. And while a CIA official didn’t back away from the claim, he appeared to concede that the agency’s briefing account is far from an authoritative summary of what Congress knew about torture and when it knew it. Here’s a statement to me from CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano:

“While CIA’s information has Mr. Juola attending briefings on September 19, 2006 and October 11, 2007, there are different recollections of these events, which Mr. Obey’s letter describes. As the agency has pointed out more than once, its list — compiled in response to congressional requests — reflects the records it has. These are notes, memos, and recollections, not transcripts and recordings.”

That would appear to dovetail with Panetta’s repeated insistence that “it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.” The agency isn’t claiming that its account is a full one. Nor is it attempting to adjudicate disputes over its briefing chart.

In another report, the CIA, challenged again to back up the Republican claim that Pelosi lied, waffled completely.

Also, one of the Republicans who is screeching the loudest about Pelosi's allegedly outrageous assertions that the CIA has it all wrong....has in the past said that the CIA has it all wrong.

...And the CIA is already being investigated for fudging its statements on another issue.

The TPM guys are all over this stuff -- make sure to check in with them.

Again, this shows how incredibly stupid Republicans are. They double-dog-dared the Democrats to spend the next year investigating the manifold crimes of the Bush gang on the torture issue, and that's exactly what they're going to get. Imagine if it was 1972, and Bob Haldeman had walked into Nixon's office and said -- "Why don't we go out and claim that Senator McGovern lied in his public statements about Watergate, and demand a full Congressional investigation of Watergate!! That'll show 'em!" Nixon would smack him upside the head and shout "did you forget that we're actually, ya know, guilty?? STFU and start bribing the burglars to clam up!"

More proof that the rightwing loons still run the GOP

NEW YORK ( - The Senate on Tuesday voted 90-5 to approve a bill that will make it tougher for credit card issuers to raise fees and interest rates starting early next year.
The bill includes an unrelated measure that would allow people to carry concealed weapons into national parks.


PS Guess what's on the list of national parks? The White House.

GOP lies about the VP's "secret location"

"For what it's worth, the secret bunker Cheney used after 9/11 was located near Camp David at Raven Rock Mountain in Pennsylvania. How do we know this? The following Knight-Ridder report about James Bamford's book A Pretext for War: "Known familiarly to government insiders as the "underground Pentagon," this is where Vice President Dick Cheney set up shop in the aftermath of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and where he sometimes is when his office is being secretive about Cheney's whereabouts. The location is a highly secure complex of buildings inside Raven Rock Mountain near Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., close to the Maryland-Pennsylvania state line and about seven miles north of Camp David."...

The year this article was published? 2004.

New report: Pelosi didn't know, and CIA was fudging its story

Almost every briefing described in the document -- including the September 2002 Pelosi briefing that's directly at issue -- refers to "EITs," or enhanced interrogation techniques, as a subject that was discussed. But according to a former intelligence professional who has participated in such briefings, that term wasn't used until at least 2006.

That's not just an issue of semantics. The former intel professional said that by using the term in the recently compiled document, the CIA was being "disingenuous," trying to make it appear that the use of such techniques was part of a "formal and mechanical program." In fact, said the former intel pro, it wasn't until 2006 that -- amid growing concerns about the program among some in the Bush administration -- the EIT program was formalized, and the "enhanced interrogation techniques" were properly defined and given a name.

The former intel professional, no partisan defender of Democrats, faulted Nancy Pelosi for not pressing harder in the briefing to determine exactly which techniques had and hadn't been used. "The extent to which members ask questions should drive what's going on," said the former intel pro. "It's your job to ask."

Yet another lawmaker shoots down CIA version of intel briefings

"The letter makes Obey the fourth Democrat to allege that the CIA's record of which members of Congress were briefed on the Bush administration's enhanced interrogation techniques contained factual errors. Former Sen. Bob Graham, in an interview with the Huffington Post, noted that the agency's records initially had him being briefed four times in 2002 about the interrogation techniques. Upon contacting officials with the CIA, it was determined that he had only attended one such briefing. Similarly, Sen. Jay Rockefeller has said that the records kept by the agency and made public on May 7 contained errors in regards to his briefings. All told, the testimonies of these three Democratic officials bolster the case made by Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the agency's own account of those now-controversial briefings is misleading. Pelosi -- like Graham -- has insisted that members of Congress were kept in the dark in the fall of 2002 about the Bush administration's use of waterboarding on terrorist suspects."

Systematic violence against women in the Congo

A must-read from founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls.

"Nothing I have heard or seen compares with what is going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where corporate greed, fueled by capitalist consumption, and the rape of women have merged into a single nightmare. Femicide, the systematic and planned destruction of the female population, is being used as a tactic of war to clear villages, pillage mines and destroy the fabric of Congolese society.

"In 12 years, there have been 6 million dead men and women in Congo and 1.4 million people displaced. Hundreds and thousands of women and girls have been raped and tortured. Babies as young as 6 months, women as old as 80, their insides torn apart. What I witnessed in Congo has shattered and changed me forever. I will never be the same. None of us should ever be the same.

"I think of Beatrice, shot in her vagina, who now has tubes instead of organs. Honorata, raped by gangs as she was tied upside down to a wheel. Noella, who is my heart -- an 8-year-old girl who was held for 2 weeks as groups of grown men raped her over and over. Now she has a fistula, causing her to urinate and defecate on herself. Now she lives in humiliation.

"I was in Bosnia during the war in 1994 when it was discovered there were rape camps where white women were being raped. Within two years there was adequate intervention. Yet, in Congo, femicide has continued for 12 years. Why? Is it that coltan, the mineral that keeps our cell phones and computers in play, is more important than Congolese girls?

"Is it flat-out racism, the world's utter indifference and disregard for black people and black women in particular? Is it simply that the UN and most governments are run by men who have never known what it feels like to be raped?"

Bad bad day for the GOP leadership

The latest Gallup poll shows the Republicans are losing ground in 25 out of 26 demographic groups. The 26th was people who go to church every week – and even there they only managed to hold their 52 percent support.

“Compared to 2001, when George W. Bush first took office as president, GOP self-identification has fallen by ten points among college graduates, nine points among those 18-29 years of age, nine points in the Midwest , six in the East, five in the West, and even four points in the South. Married people identifying as Republicans have decreased by five points, and the difference is eight points among the unmarried. The list goes on and on. In 2001, voters were 33% Democratic, 32% Republican, and 34% independent, with a Republican edge of 47%-46% after leaners were pushed. But now, it's 36% Democrats, 27% Republicans and 37% independents, with a huge Democratic advantage of 52%-37% with leaners.”

Even among the base that the GOP hopes to use as their core for rebuilding their party – blue-collar, under-educated, under-skilled white males – the GOP is heading for serious whupping, because as Reuters reports, the recession is hitting them the hardest.

Here is Michael Steele dropping trou again, this time by trying to make the eight years of Bush's crime and follies disappear with a wave of his magic wand:

"The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over," Steele will say in a speech to the RNC's 2009 State Chairmen's Meeting, according to excerpts obtained by CNN. "It is done.. We have turned the page, we have turned the corner. No more looking in the review mirror. From this point forward, we will focus all of our energies on winning the future."

So, kapoof! None of it ever happened!


"Former Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, who is now the president of the centrist organization Republican Main Street Partnership, told CNN he thought Specter "was pushed" out of the party, and warned that other centrist GOP lawmakers might also leave if they no longer feel welcomed."

How many more warnings to these rodeo clowns need that the big bad bull is bearing down on them?

As PoliticalBase and others had reported, a lot of Democrats had been worried about Utah Governor Jon Huntsman running for President in 2012. The moderate Republican was close to announcing his candidacy, but he also warned about the continued domination of the GOP by the far-right “Doctor No” wing of the party [actually it may have been Huntsman's strategist]. Obama asked him to be our ambassador to China, and Huntsman, possibly fed up with his own party, agreed. Apparently he is now out of the running for 2012, a huge loss for the GOP.

Rick Perry is now backpedalling on the Texas secession issue. D'oh!

**UPDATE** -- As it turns out, Steele's speech at the RNC meeting was a complete joke. Not only did he launch the novel notion of magically erasing all the crimes of the Bush era, but he had almost no substance on any actual issues. Practically nothing on terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan, Social Security; the few times he even touched upon the banks or health care, it was only as a pretext to attack Obama, whom he slammed over and over (total mentions of Obama: 32). The speech was so content-free that even some Republicans scratched their heads -- former Congressman Chris Shays complained that he "didn't hear any new ideas....But, but, that's the point. I mean, we need to be talking about ideas."

GOP official admits the truth about the torture

Another GOP official admits that the interrogations and the torture were not conducted with the aim of stopping an imminent “24”-style attack: it was to compel detainees to falsely accuse Saddam of having links to terrorism.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Let's buy the Republicans a calendar

Newt and Boehner and Cheney and the gang have been screeching for days that Pelosi should apologize, or resign, or be investigated, on the torture issue.

When did the torture program stop? 2004.

When did the Democrats regain control of the House and put Pelosi in the Speaker's chair? 2007.

So even setting aside the fact that no Speaker could have stopped Bush's torture program since Bush insisted on the right to ignore Congress on national security issues, and that Bush's guilt in launching the illegal torture program is not mitigated in any way by whom he claims he told about it, or the fact that both the CIA and other lawmakers have shown that the accusations against Pelosi are without substance, or the fact that the Republicans are trying to taint Pelosi with a torture scandal which they insist doesn't even exist....they don't even have the timeline right.

In 2004, if any Democratic member of Congress had challenged Bush's actions on that or any other issue, Bush wold have told him or her to go fuck themselves, and he would have been backed up by the Speaker at the time -- Dennis Hastert. Pelosi couldn't even bring an issue like that to the House floor without it being ripped apart by Hastert and the boys.

So screeching that Pelosi could have stopped the waterboarding is silly. Particularly since she didn't even know about it.

This whole Pelosi canard is a silly evasion -- an attempt to get Pelosi to back off on any investigating. But it backfired: she wants the fight. And Michael Steele walked right into her trap -- now he likes the idea of an investigation of the torture issue, which will hurt his own party far more than it could ever hurt Pelosi.

So this is going to be investigated now. A lot of Republicans are going to have their careers ruined. And the Republicans will waste an entire year harping on an issue which is bound to kill them, when they could have been campaigning on an issue they could actually win, like spending or something. Even the tea party nonsense is going to get shoved aside.

In the immortal words of Bill Cosby -- "BRAIN DAMAGE".

Hardliners attack GOP Senator Graham for being too liberal!

(CNN) – A combative Lindsey Graham got into a sharp back-and-forth with some audience members at the South Carolina GOP convention on Saturday as he made the case for an open-tent Republican party.
According to The State newspaper and video posted on YouTube, the South Carolina senator told the convention he wants to build a party that can compete in Pennsylvania and Connecticut as well as in his home state.
“You’re a hypocrite!,” one man in the audience yelled.
“I’m a winner, pal,” Graham retorted. Moments later, after saying he wants to the party to reach out to independent voters, he said: “Winning matters to me. If it doesn’t matter to you, there’s the exit sign.”

This guy led the effort to impeach Clinton. Now the GOP base thinks that even he is suspect.

McConnell flipflops on filibustering Court nominees... that we have a Democratic president appointing the nominees.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Guess how many GOP efforts to block the climate change bill there are?


Four hundred fifty.

Obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct...

More GOP lies and hysteria

Despite the fact that the CIA and a number of lawmakers have debunked the GOP accusations against Pelosi, Newt is screaming that she must be censured (savor the irony) and Rush is demanding she resign.

But the funniest attempt at GOP hysteria came, unsurprisingly, from Steele, who was caught trying to teach strategy to Republicans -- "let's scare people by telling them gay marriage will cost tax money!!"

This is what passes for leadership in the GOP.

**UPDATE** -- Oops, missed another one. Now Steele is screaming that Obama will take all our guns and put terrorists on our streets, both of which are bullcrap.

**UPDATE** -- and now Boehner is demanding that Pelosi apologize. But the funny part of the story was when Boehner was cornered on whether they should be an investigation -- an investigation which would, in the end, confirm all of the crimes committed by the Bush administration. So naturally Boehner waffled.

**UPDATE** -- ...and Steele is calling for the investigation that so many Republicans dread. Oops!

**UPDATE* -- ...and now the Republicans want her to apologize, but don't want the investigation. Nice try!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Bush's SEC lawyers weren't monitoring Wall Street -- too busy insider trading!

CBS News has learned that two attorneys at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are under "active" criminal investigation by the FBI for trading stocks based on inside information. Accusations against the two lawyers are detailed in a report by the SEC inspector general obtained exclusively by CBS News. The report, based on a review and analysis of "more than two years of e-mail and brokerage records," puts increased pressure on a commission that has come under fire lately for failing to detect the $60 billion Bernard L. Madoff Ponzi scheme, and turning a blind eye to the Wall Street financial crisis.

Gingrich pulls a nutty on the Pelosi issue

From Newt, courtesy of ABC:

Pelosi is engaging in a "despicable, dishonest and vicious political effort" to hide what she knew. She "lied to the House....I think that the House has an absolute obligation to open an inquiry, and I hope there will be a resolution to investigate her. And I think this is a big deal. I don't think the Speaker of the House can lie to the country on national security matters....She is a trivial politician, viciously using partisanship for the narrowest of purposes, and she dishonors the Congress by her behavior....Pelosi's the big loser, because she either comes across as incompetent, or dishonest. Those are the only two defenses....The fact is, she either didn't do her job, or she did do her job and she's now afraid to tell the truth."

Let's take a deep breath for a moment, and grasp the enormity of Newt Freakin' Gingrich giving us lessons on the moral standards for Speaker of the House, and on vicious behavior from the Speaker's chair.

But only a moment, before we drag Newt by the ear back to the original issue: that several sources have refuted the notion that Pelosi was told what was going on, and more importantly, that Bush flagrantly violated the law, regardless of who he claims he told about it.

The Ghost of Fala

The folks at Kos are reporting on the GOP's effort to attack Obama's dog.

Let's look at what happened the last time the GOP tried this -- on FDR:

These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. [laughter] Well, of course, I don't resent attacks, and my family doesn't resent attacks — but Fala does resent them. [laughter] You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I'd left him behind on an Aleutian island and had sent a destroyer back to find him — at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or 20 million dollars — his Scotch soul was furious. [laughter] He has not been the same dog since. [laughter] I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself — such as that old, worm-eaten chestnut that I have represented myself as indispensable. But I think I have a right to resent, to object, to libelous statements about my dog [laughter].

Watch for yourself:

Roosevelt went on to crush Tom Dewey in the 1944 election, with 432 electoral votes.

Just reinforcing the fact that the Republicans are so stupid that they Never. Fucking. Learn.


insurers already breaking their promise to cut costs

Even Republicans admit Cheney's pro-torture jihad is hurting them

My work and my studies with organized crime have made one thing pretty clear: nobody knows the law better than crooks. The crooks know exactly what the rules are, and when they have broken them.

By the same token, Republican know well that Bush ran an entirely illegal torture program, with the aim of forcing people to lie about a non-existent Iraq-terror link, so they could win elections.

They know they are dead wrong on this issue, and they know they can't win on this issue.

And now Republicans have spoken explicitly on the issue: by a huge margin, they say Cheney is wrong and he needs to shut up.

Some quotes:

"He seems determined to vindicate his decisions and policies even if it damages the GOP's recovery. And it has."
"Anything that reminds the public of the Bush administration harms the party's ability to turn the page. If he'd had any concern for his public image when he was in office, he wouldn't have to worry as much about defending his reputation now."
"There is nothing Dick Cheney can say or do to help the Republican Party today. The best thing he can do is disappear for the next 10 years."
"Let's face it: The guy doesn't know anything about winning elections outside of Wyoming."
"Not even a close call. With Cheney out there, Obama doesn't even need to remind the American people about the mess that was the Bush years."
"He's advocating for what's left of the party. We need to expand the party."
"Cheney represents the grumpy intolerance that has come to characterize the GOP. Get off the stage!"

And they wouldn't be saying it, if there was any validity to Cheney's appalling pro-torture argument.

For dessert, here's Boehner admitting that we can't trust the intelligence community:

GOP lies on detention and far

Let's count up all the Republican lies about detentions and torture.

We didn’t waterboard anybody. Wrong.
Waterboarding isn’t torture. Wrong.
We didn’t break the law. Wrong. Title 18 of the U.S. Code, the UCMJ, the Geneva Convention….Even Reagan threw cops in jail for waterboarding prisoners.
The purpose of the torture was to prevent terror attacks. Nope. Several sources have established that the purpose was to prove a link between Iraq and terrorism in time for the 2002 elections.
The torture program actually did stop attacks, including a plot against LA. Already debunked.
Stopping the torture program puts us at risk. Wrong. Why did the Bush gang stop it in 2004, then?
Pelosi knew about the whole thing. Nope. That was already shot down by the CIA and by other lawmakers who were also briefed. Also, the CIA itself lied about the briefings on the interrogations. Also, Bush's crimes are not extenuated by anybody he claims he told about it.
Pelosi could have stopped the torture program. Wrong: the Bush gang made clear time after time that they intended to ignore any Congressional input with respect to any issue which, in their view, impinged on national security. And she didn’t know anyway.
The torture program is justified under the doctrine of protecting sources and methods. Even Bob Barr shot that one down.
Cheney’s effort to defend torture is on the same moral level as Gore’s effort to combat global warming. Um, yeah.
Stopping the torture means we’re not supporting our troops. Nope. Actually the torture program itself is endangering our troops, as our generals confirmed.
Talking about this torture program makes America look bad and fosters terrorism. No, lying and concealing makes us look bad.
The torture proved the Iraq-terror link. Nope. The guys who stated that, under torture, later admitted they lied – just before one mysteriously died in prison.
Those Guantanamo prisoners are the worst of the worst. Um, no. Most were grabbed off the street by bounty hunters who had no idea who they were grabbing – if there were evidence against them, Bush would have taken them to court.
There isn’t any exculpatory evidence against these guys. Wrong – Bush illegally hid it.
The Gitmo prisoners must stay there because bringing them into the U.S. is too dangerous. Nope. You know how many really dangerous prisoners we already have?

And most of these lies, by Republicans who worked for the Bush Administration, were debunked by…. Republicans who worked for the Bush Administration.

And this is just what we've caught them at, since the grownups took over in January.

When a group of people tells you one proven lie on a topic, you start to disbelieve them just a bit. But sixteen, and counting?

Thursday, 14 May 2009

GOP official rips part Cheney's torture argument

Among other things, he points out what we already knew, that the aim of the torture was purely political -- to prove a Saddam-terrorism link in time for the U.S. elections. And he points out that it's idiotic to argue that stopping the torture will put us at risk, when the Bush people themselves stopped the program four years ago. By that time, of course, Bush was heading back to the White House for his second term. No further torture was needed.

And here are more Bush administration sources substantiating the link between the torture program and the need to prove the Iraq-terror link.

Hat tip to Kos.

Another lawmaker confirms CIA lied about briefings on interrogation

McCain's Mom gives Rush a whuppin'

John McCain's 97-year-old mother just took a two-by-four to Rush Limbaugh's head.

Mrs McCain: [Limbaugh] "does not represent the Republican Party that I belong to....I belong to the Republican Party....What he represents of the Republican Party has nothing to do with my side of it. I don't know what the man means, I don't know what he's talking about. I think [Steele] was exactly right when he defined this man as an entertainer. To my horror, the Republican Party made him back up on it.....I, myself, can't figure out that type of person who really more or less gets joy out of denigrating people. I'm just not that type of person, I don't have friends like that, and thank God I am not around people like him."

In response, is running attacks against Mrs. McCain, trying to expel her from the residents board of her senior center, and is backing an election challenge from an arch-conservative, 102-year-old Floyd R. Turbo, because he "shares our values".

Okay, I made that last part up.

**UPDATE** -- Limbaugh actually hit back at McCain's Mom!

"The Republican Party she belongs to gets shellacked election after election after election."

New GOP leaders just as crazy as the old ones

Thanks to CNN for this one:

The new chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia is sounding a little bit like the old one. Pat Mullins was elected to lead the party earlier this month by the state GOP central committee after the former chairman, Jeff Frederick, was ousted after a series of embarrassing missteps. Frederick garnered national attention during last year's presidential race for drawing a comparison between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden. Mullins, the new party head, said something similar while speaking to the Virginia Beach city committee meeting on Monday. "I'm particularly excited I'm not a Democrat," Mullins told the audience. "Since I'm not a Democrat, I don't have to defend a president who goes overseas and bows to dictators that would like to destroy this country. I'm delighted I don't have to defend him." Mullins was referring to video shot during April's G-20 Summit in London that showed Obama lowering his head while greeting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The White House said that Obama was not bowing, and that he shook hands with the King, who is shorter than Obama.

He called Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who earned a Navy Cross and two purple hearts in Vietnam, an "embarrassment to everybody in this commonwealth." A spokesman for the state Democratic Party said Mullins "ought to apologize to Virginians for personal attacks on the commander-in-chief and a decorated war hero."

The Republican Party of Virginia did not return phone calls seeking comment.

PS -- I'll point out the obvious: Saudi Arabia, last time I checked, has no plans to destroy America. And would have no luck trying it if they did.