A Mega Dose of Reality From a Surprising Source

From the media:
On issue after issue, says Richard Wolffe of Newsweek, Dennis Kucinich's views have gone from fringe to mainstream. That pattern became apparent again at NPR's Democratic presidential debate yesterday, Wolffe says.

Kucinich notions that once seemed crazy to the Democratic Party ended up front and center Tuesday, Wolffe says, and NPR's debate format gave the Ohio congressman a chance to shine. Kucinich is generally considered among the darkest of dark horses in the race. Yesterday, he spoke out about his opposition to liberalized trade with China and to the war in Iraq.

"We're borrowing money from China to finance the war in Iraq," Kucinich argued.

Wolffe says the idea of a Kucinich administration makes no sense to him, but he can't help noticing a new vogue for Kucinich's opinions.

"Think what you like about Kucinich and UFOs, but this Democratic field has essentially moved to the Kucinich position on trade, on Iraq, on a whole range of things where people thought he was a real outlier," he says. "They're all pretty much in agreement now, when it comes to some of these big issues like trade, like diplomacy and war. And they are where Dennis Kucinich is."
Some candidates have slowly moved over his way on their own, others have been dragged there reluctantly by activists, and there are still a few others that are incompetent and refuse to wake up to reality. But Dennis Kucinich has always been where he is, leading the way.

CODEPINK Activists Arrested in Pakistan

Medea Benjamin and Tighe Barry get to witness firsthand the terrorist tactics of the bush approved and funded Pakistani government:
On December 4th, our own Medea Benjamin and Tighe Barry were arrested at gun point in Pakistan during their visit to support pro-democracy activists. Upon leaving a student rally at the Lahore Press Club with a group of journalists, their car was pulled off the road. Armed policemen lept out of cars and off motorcycles and surrounded their car, guns drawn. They forced the driver and journalists out, beat passers-by looking at the scene, hijacked the car with Medea and Tighe inside, and raced recklessly through the crowded streets of Lahore to the police station.

Medea and Tighe were never charged with anything but they were forced to leave the country on the next flight. Their brutal arrest and deportation was just a glimpse at what activists in Pakistan go through as they struggle to bring democracy to their country.

Medea wrote: "In our ten-day visit, we met lawyers who had been brutally beaten and thrown into prisons with rats and murderers. We met judges who had dedicated their lives to the rule of law, only to find themselves unceremoniously thrown off the bench and even physically evicted from their homes. We met students who had been beaten with batons and face expulsion for participating in pro-democracy rallies. We met journalists whose programs had been yanked off the air and tossed from their jobs for criticizing the government. But despite the repression, the lawyers, students and journalists are back out on the streets every day. We left Pakistan shaken by our treatment but in awe of the heroism and courage our Pakistani friends."
Bush and his neconservative cabal could put an end to this if they wanted to.

Why Some Democrats Refuse to Investigate for Impeachment

Because some of the investigations would inevitably lead right back to some of their own members having been complicit in criminal actions:
It seems as if the "four" congressional leaders Harman refers to as knowing about the tapes were the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence committees: Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL), and Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA). Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) took Goss' spot as chairman of the House intelligence committee that year when Goss became CIA director. Hoekstra told the AP that he didn't know a thing about either the tapes or their destruction. I'm calling Harman to ask her for her letter to the CIA about the tapes, and will bring it to you if and when I have it.

But the bottom line here is that at least some Congressional leaders knew something about the tapes and something about their destruction, and didn't say anything about either. Harman's silence is especially stunning: she co-chaired a joint Congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks in 2002 that didn't receive that very pertinent information. Why did she remain quiet about potentially criminal behavior? Marty Lederman has some thoughts here:
Jay Rockefeller is constantly learning of legally dubious (at best) CIA intelligence activities, and then saying nothing about them publicly until they are leaked to the press, at which point he expresses outrage and incredulity -- but reveals nothing. Really, isn't it about time the Democrats select an effective Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one who will treat this scandal with the seriousness it deserves, and who will shed much-needed light on the CIA program of torture, cruel treatment and obstruction of evidence? ...

Jane Harman also knew of the intention to destroy the tapes, and she at least "urged" the CIA in writing not to do it. (Where were her colleagues?) But when she found out the CIA had destroyed the tapes, where was Harman's press conference? Where were the congressional hearings?

You are either with bush OR you are against him. If you enable the bush administration to cover up their crimes, you become part of the criminal conspiracy.


Tancredo Trying to Out-Mitt Romney

You all remember watching that GOP melt down the other night, dripping with the hatred behind the entire GOP campaign for 2008:
Tom Tancredo, the immigration-crazed congressman from Colorado, is never going to be the Republican nominee for president. But Wednesday’s night’s CNN/YouTube debate confirmed that he has prevailed in the contest of ideas — if raw xenophobia can be called an idea.

For much of the first stretch of what should have been a critical debate for candidates who are racing toward Iowa caucuses that are now just six weeks away, the Republicans who would be president stumbled over one another to out-Tancredo Tancredo. And, while they did not quite rival the congressman’s rabid rhetoric, the other contenders made it clear that they can be just as crudely aggressive as the Coloradan when it comes to rejecting the Biblical injunction to welcome the stranger.


The most explicitly anti-immigrant candidate for the presidency since the demise of the Know-Nothing Party observed that the other — supposedly more credible — Republican contenders were attempting to “out-Tancredo” him.

And the freakin' xenophobe was right. They were all "trying to out-Tancredo Tancredo." It was almost embarrassing just to watch them, watching them dig the hate-hole deeper and deeper.

That's alright. Life seems to have a funny way of snake-bitin' ya on the ass when all you do is spew venom:
When Republican Representative Tom Tancredo isn’t railing against the “scourge” of illegal immigration on the presidential campaign trail, he relaxes in the 1053 square foot basement recreation room of his Littleton, Colorado McMansion. There, he and his family can rack up a game of billiards on their tournament size pool table, play pinball, or enjoy their favorite movies in the terraced seating area of a home theater system. Tancredo, who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War by producing evidence that he suffered from mentally illnesses, especially likes entertaining his buddies with classic war movies.

“We have friends over and I have now shown Pearl Harbor about six times,” Tancredo boasted to the Rocky Mountain News about his 102-inch television. “But I mainly just show the attack scene because the sound is so good.”

When Tancredo hired a construction crew to transform his drab basement into a high-tech pleasure den in October 2001, however, he did not express concern that only two of its members spoke English. Nor did he bother to check the workers’ documentation to see if they were legal residents of the United States. Had Tancredo done so, he would have learned that most of the crew consisted of undocumented immigrants, or “criminal aliens” as he likes to call them. Instead, Tancredo paid the crew $60,000 for its labor and waited innocently for the completion of his elaborate entertainment complex.
H/T to the Liberal Journal for that second story.


In the Healthcare Battle

The enemy is a bi-partisan opportunistic healthcare industry for profit. I am just going to leave you with this little excerpt from nyceve's diary to think about:

I'm not the only one concerned.

CAPITOL REPORT: Politics, Business As Usual In Health Proposals?

Those who hope the 2008 presidential election will finally bring about drastic health-care reform may well end up finding it's a case of politics and business as usual, experts say.

It's still early in the race to the White House, but right now there doesn't appear to be much in the way of strong shifts on the horizon for what many consider the nation's highest domestic priority if current proposals from the handful of presidential hopefuls are not altered.

"None [of the plans] revolutionize the system," said Roger Feldman, a professor at the University of Minnesota who specializes in health insurance. " They've kept all [of the plans] from [enacting] system redesign for the most part."


Sadly, I think we're taking a huge leap of faith to think that bold healthcare reform can be accomplished without vigorous and robust insurance industry regulation. Do you think the insurance industry which intends to buy just about all the seats at the healthcare reform negotiating table, is going to agree to tight new regulations.

This is what we're up against.

Whether or not it wants true reform, the health-care industry is giving to presidential candidates in record numbers, particularly Democrats, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Health care has poured in $41.4 million to all 2008 campaigns by the end of this year's third quarter. Among the various subcategories, contributions from health services and HMOs are up 53% while and pharmaceuticals and health products are up 47%. Health professionals and insurers' contributions are up 23% .

Roughly 54% of the current total health-care slice, or $22.5 million, has gone to Democrats. That represents the first time the majority of health-care money has gone to Democrats since 1992.

Clinton is the top fundraiser in a combination of contributions from health care and accident insurers - which includes major health carriers - taking in a combined $1.81 million through the third quarter. Clinton, though, is far ahead of rivals in overall fundraising with $91 million and ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to the ratio of industry contribution to overall total.

Obama is second in overall health care/insurance money with $1.45 million, the center's data shows. Clinton's cut of all health-care/insurer dollars among the candidates is 23.2%, while Obama's is 18.7%.

Among other major candidates, Romney took in $1.09 million while Giuliani got $1.08 million. John McCain garnered $613,230 and Edwards got $438,726. Fred Thompson took in $177,975 from the industry.


Whether you're for or against mandates, mandates without regulation will simply throw millions into a thoroughly corrupt and broken system .

The experience of Americans with insurance in Orange County California is typical of what we all experience at the hands of the for-profit insurance industry. The insurance industry business model is to force us to run a gauntlet.

Can you really blame a beleaguered doctor who decides to throw in the towel and refuse another round of Three card Monte with a corrupt insurance company?

Doctors seek cash when insurance doesn't pay

A small but growing number of Orange County doctors has stopped accepting private insurance, saying they are fed up with low reimbursements that can take months to receive, lost claims and denials of necessary medical care.

This fall, Women's Medical Group of Irvine dropped roughly 20 preferred provider organizations after more and more staff time went to insurance paperwork rather than patients.

"We were spending inordinate amounts of time and resources on things that have nothing to do with the quality of patient care," said gynecologist Felice Gersh, medical director of the four-doctor practice. "I would be more than happy to be a member of all the health plans if they paid me reasonably and quickly."

For instance, Gersh received a letter in August from Nationwide Health Plans over a $110 charge for an office visit. The insurer refused to process the claim unless Gersh sent five years' worth of patient records including chart notes, pharmacy records and lab/X-ray results.


This morning, The Wall Street Journal is wondering which Democratic plan covers the most people. This is certainly an important question. But an equally important piece of the puzzle is insurance industry fraud and abuse. Ask any American with insurance to describe a typical medical encounter, they will present you with a chilling list of egregious insurance industry malfeasance. Routine malfeasance which has become institutionalized.

Take a hard look at the proposals put forward by any of the candidates that the media has dubbed as top tier and you will find that all of their healthcare reforms are sadly lacking on many fronts. And it is highly doubtful that this will change as long as the healthcare industry is funding any of these candidates.


Heckuva Job Condi!

The accolades flood into the State Department for their oversight of Blackwater:
According to internal State Department cables obtained by TPMmuckraker, the State Department has slated two Diplomatic Security officials who oversee private-security contractors guarding U.S. diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan for salary bonuses. The optional bonuses, called Senior Foreign Service Performance Pay Awards, come months after administrative investigations have raised questions about the propriety of State's relationship with security contractors like Blackwater.

You can be sure their very own bush league medals are on the way...

Richard Perle Calls Iraq Invasion Illegal

Hat Tip Buzzflash and WTF?
International lawyers and anti-war campaigners reacted with astonishment yesterday after the influential Pentagon hawk Richard Perle conceded that the invasion of Iraq had been illegal.


But Mr Perle, a key member of the defence policy board, which advises the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said that "international law ... would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone", and this would have been morally unacceptable.

Morally unacceptable to whom? The criminals in the White House and GOP, of course. Fucking neocon wah-babies.

Appearing on BBC’s Hardtalk with Stephen Sackur this weekend, Iraq war architect Richard Perle attempted, on the one hand, to distance himself from the failures of the Iraq war, and on the other hand, to claim it was a fantastic success.

“I’m not happy about the way events have unfolded in Iraq,” Perle began. But when asked whether he felt a “sense of personal responsibility” for what has happened in the aftermath of the invasion, Perle said “I certainly don’t consider myself responsible” for the disastrous post-war occupation of Iraq.

Asked whether he was wrong on Iraq, Perle gave this response:

Well, I don’t believe I was wrong. Let me be very clear about that. What I think happened is that a successful invasion was turned into an unsuccessful occupation. I didn’t favor the occupation strategy. I think the occupation was a mistake.

Perle also defended his pre-war claim that regime change in Iraq would bring about “dancing in the streets.”
The epitome of criminality and taking absolutely no blame for his own advocacy of illegal actions towards Iraq...
Pre-2003 invasion

Like many in the neoconservative movement, Perle had long been an advocate of regime change in Iraq. He was a signatory of the 26 January 1998 PNAC Letter sent to US President Bill Clinton that called for the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. He also linked Saddam to Osama Bin Laden just a few days after 9/11, proclaiming in an interview on CNN on Sept 16, 2001: "Even if we cannot prove to the standards that we enjoy in our own civil society that they were involved, we do know, for example, that Saddam Hussein has ties to Osama Bin Laden..." [2]

Perle argued that what he referred to as terrorist Abu Nidal's "sanctuary" in Saddam Hussein's Iraq was justification for the U.S. military invasion of Iraq. Perle states this in the recent PBS documentary series "America At A Crossroads", and refers to President Bush's 9/11 speech in which Bush stated: "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."

Perle came into further prominence due to his role in backing the 2003 invasion, and continues to support the military presence there.

In an interview for "Saddam's Ultimate Solution", the 11 July 2002 episode of the PBS series Wide Angle, he said:

"Saddam is much weaker than we think he is. He's weaker militarily. We know he's got about a third of what he had in 1991. But it's a house of cards. He rules by fear because he knows there is no underlying support. Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder. Now, it isn't going to be over in 24 hours, but it isn't going to be months either."

The US-led coalition defeated the Iraqi military within less than a month of the invasion [3] and the Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded the military and removed Ba'ath party members from authority positions, essentially dissolving the government, as well. Critical government positions were appointed by the CPA[4].

In the leadup to the war, Perle also complained that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials were so hostile to defectors brought out of Iraq by the Iraqi National Congress that they refused to interview them and even tried to discredit them. The defectors and the head of the INC, Ahmed Chalabi were discredited not only by the CIA, but by the State Department at the time that Perle was supporting them. Later, the US military raided INC offices and stopped funding to the organization. [5]

Perle advocated invading Iraq with only 40,000 troops, and complained about the calls by then Gen. Eric Shinseki to use 660,000 troops. He preferred a strategy similar to that used in the Afghan war, in which the U.S. would insert SOF (Special Operations Forces), along with some two divisions, to assist native Kurdish and Shi'ite rebels, much as the United States had done with the Northern Alliance against the Taliban. [6] Nevertheless, in an interview he gave Vanity Fair that was excerpted in an article appearing in the 4 November 2006 Los Angeles Times, he denied having a role in the planning of the war. He is reported to have told Vanity Fair, "I'm getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. This is not congruent with his signing of the PNAC letter in 1998. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, 'Go design the campaign to do that.' I had no responsibility for that." The same Los Angeles Times article reports that Perle now believes that his advocacy of the Iraq war was wrong.

Perle was the subject of extensive study in the April 2007 PBS miniseries America at a Crossroads, in which he made a retrospective defense of the Bush administration's decisions concerning the invasion of Iraq.

In April 2007, Perle was featured on VPRO's Tegenlicht miniseries The Israel Lobby. Perle denied that the Israel Lobby particularly AIPAC was involved in the case to go to war with Iraq. However, he did suggest that AIPAC is heavily influential in United States elections. Further hinting at if any sponsored legislation is challenged in the US Congress the likelihood of re-election is minimal.

Iraq policy regret and Bush criticism

In a Vanity Fair article that was first published online in November 2006, Perle expressed regret of his support of the invasion and faulted the "dysfunction" in the Bush administration for the troubled occupation. "I think now I probably would have said, 'Let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists'. The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly. At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible."
All of these shitbag neoconservative warmongers are desperately running around trying to salvage some sense of credibility by blaming everyone else for their illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. They deserve nothing less than life in prison as punishment for the death and destruction they knowingly planned to unleash upon the world.

Even if all Perle ever advocated for was bombing Iraq, it is still a war crime by his own admission.

Right Wing Moonbats Desperately Spin NIE

Inability to get a grip on the realities coming at them in liberal doses has never stopped the meak-minded right wing moonbats from trying to continue to spin bush lies:
After insisting that Iran was “only a small step away from producing nuclear weapons,” and after pushing for military strikes against Iran for months, Podhoretz is apparently determined not to let facts get in the way of his prayers for an Iran war.

Podhoretz isn’t the only conservative desperately spinning the NIE to buttress his hawkish positions. Some other examples from conservative blogs:

Strata-Strata: “This smells like another leak by forces in our intel community trying to — once again — influence our national elections.”

Powerline: “But the report offers no reason to be less concerned about the likelihood that Iran will possess nuclear weapons in the near future, and no reason to doubt that our own willingness to take military action is one of the factors that will influence decision-making in Tehran.”

Michelle Malkin: “What’s not making headlines (the certainty that Iran indeed had a nuke program) is as telling as what is making news (the halting of the program in 2003).”

Seth Liebelson at the Corner: If Iran shut its program down in the fall of 2003 MIGHT, MIGHT, MIGHT it have anything to do with it noticing that the US militarily took out its neighbor (another enemy of the U.S.) earlier that year for, among other things, having a concealed WMD program?

Michael Rubin at the Corner: “If Iran was working on a nuclear weapons program until 2003, what does this say about U.S. policy in the late Clinton period and European engagement?”

News Hoggers and SadlyNo have more.
Turn on the bright light of truth and the right wing moonbats - blinded by their rage, hate, incompetence and lies - start flying into the wall of reality.

[update] And as the liars on the right wing fly into that wall:
Bush had two meetings with Olmert — one on Monday, Nov. 26, and one on Wednesday, Nov. 28. But as Hersh makes clear, Bush discussed the NIE with Olmert at the first meeting before the conference, on Nov. 26 — two days before Hadley alleged that Bush first was briefed on the report. This revelation provides evidence that the Bush administration is misleading about when it first learned that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program.
Oh, oh... Now they'll have to start spinning about how they can't get their lies straight. Childish juice box republicans. You could feel sorry for these idiot GOP talking point Bloggers given what the criminal bush administration gives them to work with on a daily basis... You could, but you won't. They chose to support their own little GOP brand of lunacy.

[update deux] If Sy Hersh knew about this a year ago... Then so did the lying bushies:

Bali Hai, Bali Beau?

In denial on more than just his sexuality, Larry Craig is off to Bali for a conference on climate change:
Currently the subject of an ongoing ethics investigation, continued allegations of being gay, and stripped of his leadership positions on the Veterans’ Affairs and Appropriations Committees, Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) is seeking temporary solace in the tropical resort island of Bali.

Craig is traveling to Bali this week for the U.N.-led climate change conference as the “Republican representative from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee,” which is led by chief global warming denier Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).

Prior to his travels, Craig attacked EPW Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) for creating “all-pain, no-gain” climate change legislation that would call for caps on greenhouse gas emissions. It “demonstrates nothing more than her intent to revert the United States to a developing country,” he asserted:

I’ve been to three of the last six “COP” conferences, so I’d expect the COP-13 crowd will be singing a familiar tune. Sen. Boxer will be welcomed as the liberator, and Al Gore will probably receive another award, but in the end, the only impact the conference will have will be the pollution and consumption they all create in traveling to Bali in the first place…we can avoid suffering for symbolism, and continue to keep things cool in our own backyard, even if there’s nothing but hot air in Bali.

Notably, Boxer is also the Chairwoman of the Senate Ethics Committee, which is investigating “allegations of sexual misconduct” by Craig and is currently “continu[ing] to conduct its preliminary inquiry into the matter.”

Craig has long history of climate change denial. Some highlights:

— Denied that global warming was at all responsible for the California wildfires. [LINK]

– In 1998, said Kyoto Protocol was “unnecessary response to an exaggerated threat the vice president himself [Al Gore] is caught up in making.” [LINK]

– Claims “scientists are not certain how much man contributes to climate variability compared to nature.” [LINK]

Isolated from his own party and now “a wisp of his former self in the Senate,” Craig will have to rely on the support of fringe, discredited global warming deniers.

I am trying to think of a good reason for someone like Larry Craig, in denial of climate change, to take off to Bali for this conference other than just trying to get away from the scrutiny of the local press during his recent scandals...
A week in sun-drenched Bali can be very seductive for anyone. Despite the bombings in '02 and '05, Bali continues to be a place of calm repose, swaying palms, restful beaches, green forests, friendly faces and master wood carvers. Bali is also home to a small resident lesbigay community that lives calmly among the easy-going populace. Quite distinct from these locals are the international LBGT tourists who land in Bali for a short intense dose of beaches, beer and boys. In recent years some of these tourists have bypassed Bali out of fear--there were bombings in 2002 and 2004--but the resident community. straight and gay, continues to go about life as usual in this beautiful corner of the world.
Should we be wondering about Sen. James Inhofe's real reasons for going to Bali, given that he is a noted and ardent denier of climate change and gay rights, as well?
"Bali Hai they call you, When the sky and the sea, And I don't know how much what they're saying, But come to me. Come to me."


Fox News Won't Televise It...

So, it must be true:

Via emptywheel, over at her new firedoglake home:

CCR is one of the organizations that will go before the Supreme Court on Wednesday in hopes of restoring Habeas Corpus. At the same time, they're trying to raise awareness of Bush's attacks on our rights with ads like this and a cool campaign to send Bush a copy of the Constitution (what do you get the President who has everything??). But when they went to Fox to buy time for this ad, Fox asked for proof that Bush had shredded the Constitution.

Perhaps it's time to launch a campaign to inundate Fox with your favorite proof that Bush trashed the Constitution. Copies of the Risen-Lichtblau scoop on warrantless wiretapping, pictures of the "free speech zones" at Bush appearances, a copy of the report proving NYC spied on citizens and detained many illegally leading up to the Republican convention in 2004. Anyone else have some good ideas?

DeLuca's Mob Inspired Vacancy Official

"Her Excellency" Granny Paranoia sets a Januray 15th Date to replace her GOP mobster, DeLuca:
The resignation of state Sen. Louis C. DeLuca, R-Woodbury, took effect Friday, allowing Gov. M. Jodi Rell to issue a writ setting a special election for Jan. 15 to fill the vacancy in the 32nd Senate District.

DeLuca announced his resignation Nov. 13 as a Senate disciplinary committee was examining his dealings with an indicted trash hauler, James Galante. By delaying the effective date, DeLuca allowed Rell to schedule the election after the holidays.

Nice of DeLuca to ALLOW Rell to schedule this at his criminal convenience...

Help Support the Troops!

Ilona Meagher needs some help before she testifies to Congress on suicide prevention and the dire homelessness situation for Veterans.

This is an important call to everyone in the community.

I need your help -- everyone's.

For those who've been around for the past 2+ years, you've been right there with me as I started advocating for our returning troops and military families coping with reintegration problems and PTSD. We've done an enormous amount of work, and now we're taking it to the next level.

I've been asked to testify on December 12, 2007, before Congress at a hearing on Stopping Suicide and Ending Homelessness: Mental Health Challenges Within the Department of Veterans Affairs by the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. My work on the ePluribus Media PTSD Timeline is partly the reason for the invite, a project that sprung from a September 2005 Daily Kos diary of mine.

Since being asked to write Moving a Nation to Care by my publisher, I've been sidetracked from adding new incidents I've continued to collect; this info is now needed more than ever as I'd like to add it to the Congressional Record with my testimony but don't have time to complete it alone.

There is a long list of things you can do to help her prepare for this testimony. Why not go over and see if you can help?