Who Do You Endorse?

And why?

Blue Gal over at C&L gives a shortlist on Democratic endorsements:
There is absolutely nothing worth looking at over on the Republican side, as it is a foregone conclusion that they are picking a candidate to try and lose gracefully with. If they really wanted to win, and if they really wanted to bring the change that is demanded by the people, all of their candidates would be slamming George W. Bush for being the worst president ever in the history of the USA, and they would be running from his legacy, not trying to sweep it under the carpet by ignoring the last seven years as if bush didn't exist and they didn't support him. If they really wanted to win, Republicans would all sound like Ron Paul on the key issues of our time.

As it is, Republicans seem to be content to hand the reigns over to the Democratic party. And they seem more interested in trying to influence the Democratic party's choice of candidates through their media spin cycles.

All I know is that the happier the media is with a candidate, the more I know that candidate is a piece of junk. The media would be happy if they could turn the trick of getting the people to vote for another conservative Democratic candidate that would continue the Corporate successes, and people's failures, of the last few decades.

None of these candidates would give the media and their right wing corporate masters the full satisfaction they crave:
And so they will continue to be maligned by the media and the right wing lunatics on the fringe side of the internet. And make no mistake about this, the left Blogosphere is the truest representative of mainstream and populist ideals in America today.

We are are all about protecting your rights under the Constitution, and the GOP and conservatives in general are all against you and your rights. The GOP has led this country into the abyss of Corporatism:
In the recently released annual survey of worldwide privacy rights by Privacy International and EPIC, the United States has been downgraded from “Extensive Surveillance Society” to “Endemic Surveillance Society.” As Glenn Greenwald notes, this is “the worst possible category there is for privacy protections, the category also occupied by countries such as China, Russia, Singapore and Malaysia.” In general, “the 2007 rankings indicate an overall worsening of privacy protection across the world, reflecting an increase in surveillance and a declining performance of privacy safeguards.”
And the media, what used to be the Fourth Estate in the balance of power, has silently sat by and watched this happen.

The USA is now a Corporatist country with no more freedoms than some of the worst Communist offenders.

This is another of the very real end results of the "Great Republican Experiment" and you can thank the GOP and their partners in crime, the media and their punditocracy echo chamber of non news right wing ignorance, for the current downfall of the USA.

This is an unusually large excerpt from C&L's Barbara O'Brien from about a year ago:
A (Pretty) Short History of Wingnutism:
"By now you probably see where we’re going. “American Way” conservatism was the dominant political philosophy in the 1920s, and the nation was governed by its principles through the Harding and Coolidge administrations, from 1921 to 1929. Some historians call this decade “the Republican Era.” The vigorous progressivism of 1900-1916 was vanquished, and the labor union movement lost ground. In fact, the longer one looks at America in the 1920s, the more familiar it gets — corporate profits rising faster than worker earnings; a crackdown on immigration; culture wars led by an aggressive Christian fundamentalist movement; and tax cuts galore. If they’d had iPods back then, you’d hardly know the difference.

Of course, it would come to pass that the Republican who won the 1928 presidential election by a landslide, Herbert Hoover, was probably sorry he won. The stock market crashed in October 1929, which marked the beginning of the Great Depression. The Depression was caused by a number of interacting factors, and since it was a worldwide phenomenon you can’t blame the Republicans for all of it. But in the United States many of those factors were created, directly or indirectly, by “American Way” conservative policies. Among these factors were a wildly overheated stock market (security regulation was socialism, after all) and the maldistribution of wealth that resulted from laissez-faire business policies. Since President Herbert Hoover was a tried-and-true “American Way” conservative, he mostly was at a loss to solve the nation’s economic problems, even though he had almost all of his four-year term to do so. In 1932 the nation turned to a liberal Democrat, Franklin Roosevelt, to make things right.

Righties are quick to point out that the New Deal had a limited impact on the Depression, and that the nation’s economy didn’t really pull out of the slump until the industrialization of World War II — over which FDR also presided. (This is just one of many examples of righties taunting lefties for not cleaning up rightie messes they couldn’t clean up themselves; Iraq is another.) But New Deal programs had a longer-term success in fostering economic stability. Federal deposit insurance, unemployment insurance, Social Security, increased government oversight of securities, and other New Deal innovations made Americans’ economic lives more secure and created a buffer against many of the factors that cause economic depressions.

And considering that rightie counter-arguments to the New Deal usually advocate returning to the same governing philosophy that allowed the Depression to happen, you’ll forgive me if I don’t take them seriously.

Anyway, after the FDR landslide in 1932 it was clear the right wing had fallen from grace. Righties spent the rest of the 1930s seething with resentment and planning a comeback. And just when they had a shot at re-taking the White House — bam, World War II happened. And this made the American Right look doubly stupid, because for the most part righties in the 1930s were isolationists who had not only pooh-poohed the threat of the Third Reich but had actually admired Mussolini.

After World War II righties rebounded with a fury. They did this in large part by taking the issue of national security away from the Democrats. It’s important to understand that the Right managed this not because of anything they actually accomplished, but through a “compilation of hysterical charges and bald-faced lies,” to quote Kevin Baker in this Harper’s article, “Stabbed in the Back,” which I vigorously urge you to read.

Much of the Red Scare and McCarthyist hysteria of the late 1940s and 1950s were as much about slapping down liberals and Democrats as it was about national security. See the Kevin Baker article for details. See also Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (Vintage/Random House, 1962), in particular pp. 41-42 (emphasis added):

The inquisitors were trying to give satisfaction against liberals, New Dealers, reformers, internationalists, intellectuals, and finally even against a Republican administration that failed to reserve liberal policies. What was involved, above all, was a set of political hostilities in which the New Deal was linked to the welfare state, the welfare state to socialism, and socialism to Communism. In this crusade Communism was not the target but the weapon, and it is for this reason that so many of the most ardent hunters of impotent domestic Communists were altogether indifferent to efforts to meet the power of International Communism where it really mattered — in the area of world politics."
Go read it. See if you can easily pick out the parallels to many of the problems of today, and maybe begin to realize that not only has "The Great Republican Experiment" failed miserably, but that now is not the first time it has failed miserably.

Which candidates truly represent a change in course from the decades of Conservative failure?
None of them are perfect candidates, but none of them exhibit the grossest of failures that the media presents as the top tier candidates on either side of "the conservative candidates list."

Each of them have voiced support for AND/OR led in the recent battles for the little guys.

And the media and their right wing corporate masters hate them, malign them, marginalize them, trivialize them and belittle them for that.

And there is your clue as to why, IMHO, they are the best candidates to lead this country out of the ashes of The Failed Republican Experiment.


Norad Santa Tracker

The jolly gent, Santa Clause, has already hit Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia and parts of China. You can follow him all day long and late into the night at the Norad tracking site, which is updated every five minutes! Just be sure the kids are in bed before he hits your town.

To speak to a NORAD Santa Tracker in person:

Call toll free: 1 (877) Hi NORAD or 1 (877) 446-6723

Local, overseas: 1 (719) 556-5211 (cost incurred overseas)

Hearing Impaired: Contact your current relay service

If you have Google Earth you can follow him there in 3D:

Google Earth

  • See Santa and his reindeer in 3D
  • See more of Santa's stops around the world

New to Google Earth?
Download Google Earth

Download Santa Tracker

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

From Connecticut Man1
Drinking Liberally in new Milford


There Is A Storm Brewing In NOLA

Some of you may not have noticed, as you do your last minute Christmas shopping, but there is a class war going on in this country... And the powers that be don't give a fuck if they have to use violence to stifle the voices of those that are willing to stand up against their brutal economic rape of the downtrodden in New Orleans.
Pepper Sprayed, Tasered and Determined in New Orleans

There was a tornado warning on Thursday, December 20th, with a cool front marching down south. The tornado that touched down though, was the incredible spirit, will and determination of those fighting for public, and affordable housing in this city, and taking on the NOPD and New Orleans City Council in the process.

We were prepared, Thursday, to challenge what we already knew would go down: the vote in the affirmative by the New Orleans City Council to demolish over 4000 units of critical, public and affordable housing in New Orleans. Our intent was to keep the meeting from happening, to prevent the vote, by peaceful, but loud, raucous protest. There was no intent to commit violence. Many of us were quite willing to be arrested. One of the principles decided on by public housing residents in this struggle is that it will be a non-violent struggle.

There were not now, nor have there ever been, plans to commit violence by any of our people. However, when people are physically attacked by police, sometimes you fight back. You can call it instinct, survival, or foolhardy, call it what you will, but human nature being what it is, sometimes people fight back. The first punch was thrown by the NOPD however, which you can observe by watching the above video.

I was one of those locked out that day. I brought my camera, fully intending to document even though locked out. We were behind and to the side of council chambers, locked out by virtue of a pair of handcuffs on the gate that encloses a covered driveway behind the chambers.

Police lined that covered driveway, and we knew there were significant numbers in the chambers. We received phone reports that our colleagues had prevented the meeting from beginning, by chanting and shouting and demanding that those locked out be allowed in.

Suddenly, from the outside, we saw at least 10 police officers rush into the building. We knew it was going down inside. We all began to scream and some of us shook the gate violently. We wanted in to help defend our sisters and brothers.

Duranta has a lot more on this. While Common Dreams has this up from Naomi Klein:

The Shock Doctrine in Action in New Orleans
by Naomi Klein

Readers of The Shock Doctrine know that one of the most shameless examples of disaster capitalism has been the attempt to exploit the disastrous flooding of New Orleans to close down that city’s public housing projects, some of the only affordable units in the city. Most of the buildings sustained minimal flood damage, but they happen to occupy valuable land that make for perfect condo developments and hotels.

The final showdown over New Orleans public housing is playing out in dramatic fashion right now. The conflict is a classic example of the “triple shock” formula at the core of the doctrine.

  • First came the shock of the original disaster: the flood and the traumatic evacuation.
  • Next came the “economic shock therapy”: using the window of opportunity opened up by the first shock to push through a rapid-fire attack on the city’s public services and spaces, most notably it’s homes, schools and hospitals.
  • Now we see that as residents of New Orleans try to resist these attacks, they are being met with a third shock: the shock of the police baton and the Taser gun, used on the bodies of protestors outside New Orleans City Hall yesterday.

Democracy Now! has been covering this fight all week, with amazing reports from filmmakers Jacquie Soohen and Rick Rowley (Rick was arrested in the crackdown). Watch residents react to the bulldozing of their homes here.

And footage from yesterday’s police crackdown and Tasering of protestors inside and outside city hall here.

That last segment contains a terrific interview with Kali Akuno, executive director of the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund. Akuno puts the demolitions in the big picture, telling Amy Goodman:

This is just one particular piece of this whole program. Public hospitals are also being shut down and set to be demolished and destroyed in New Orleans. And they’ve systematically dismantled the public education system and beginning demolition on many of the schools in New Orleans–that’s on the agenda right now–and trying to totally turn that system over to a charter and a voucher system, to privatize and just really go forward with a major experiment, which was initially laid out by the Heritage Foundation and other neoconservative think tanks shortly after the storm. So this is just really the fulfillment of this program.

Akuno is referring to the Heritage Foundation’s infamous post-Katrina meeting with the Republican Study Group in which participants laid out their plans to turn New Orleans into a Petri dish for every policy they can’t ram through without a disaster. Read the minutes on my website.

Read the rest of Naomi Klein's piece here.


Power To The People

Give Peace A Chance!

Not the greatest musical talent... But he sure gets the message right!
The Mike Gravel Rap:
Power to the People - Give Peace a Chance

Think. Think. Think!

Everybody talkin about politicians. Politicians. Politicians. Politicians. Politicians.
Nepotism. Patriotism.
Jingoism. Jingoism!
Phony patriotism is Jingoism!

Why won't you let me say what I want to say
Power to the people
Give peace a chance

Everybody talkin about Fascism. Fascism.
Militarism. Fanaticism. Terrorism. Terrorism!
Despotism. Despotism.
Fear. Fear. Fear!
Islamofascism. American Imperialism. American Imperialism. Harms way. Harms way.

Why won't you let me say what I want to say
Power to the people
Give peace a chance

Everybody talkin about pollution. Solution.
Revolution. Evolution. Evolution. Revolution.
Freedom of speech.
Freedom to be who you are.
The Constitution.

Why won't you let me say what I want to say
Power to the people
Give peace a chance

Power to the people
Give peace a chance

Everybody talkin about corporate censorship. Corporate censorship. Party censorship. Parties in censorship. Why? Why?
Are they afraid of the truth?
Ripped off. Ripped off.

Why won't you let me say what I want to say
Power to the people
Give peace a chance

Power to the people!
Power to the people
Give peace a chance

Why won't you let me say what I want to say
Power to the people
Give peace a chance

Power to the people!
Power to the people
Give peace a chance

Rove Gets Wingnut Welfare

Unless Rove plans on telling the truth about the lies and treason he helped orchestrate for the criminal bush administration and the GOP, Rove's book deal will be viewed as nothing more than far-right-wingnut spin:
After a three-week bidding period, Karl Rove has signed a deal with conservative Mary Matalin’s publishing imprint, Threshold Editions, to publish his memoirs. The bidding reached at least $1.5 million, but Threshhold would not disclose Rove’s final payment. When bidding began on Dec. 6, industry experts predicted Rove would get offered $3 million, though a publisher at Alfred K. Knopf said Rove “doesn’t have the personality” to land a major deal for his memoirs.

Given the fact that Rove has done nothing but spin since Newsweek offered him a spot to manufacture more bush lies, Rove's book deal is obviously nothing more than wingnut welfare.


Joe "Uncle Ernie" Lieberman

Or so Branny Boy thinks...
Is Joe Lieberman An Alcoholic Pedophile?

That's what the eccentric uncle in my family turned out to be. Of course, the internal dynamics of the "family" known as the Democratic Party are no doubt subtly different from those of my own, so perhaps not.

Still, Joe's recent remarks . . .

As he told reporters: "There's no question that at times I think some of the Democrats look at me sort of like the ... eccentric uncle, perhaps even the odd uncle at the family gatherings: 'We like him, but every now and then he says things that make us wonder.'"

. . . have got me thinking.

Fiddle about! Fiddle about!

I'm your wicked Uncle Ernie
I'm glad you won't see or hear me
As I fiddle about!
Fiddle about!
Fiddle about!

Freedom is on the march

Freedom of Information, that is:
Congress Eases Access to Gov't Records

Congress on Tuesday struck back at the Bush administration's trend toward secrecy since the 2001 terrorist attacks, passing legislation to toughen the Freedom of Information Act and increasing penalties on agencies that don't comply.

The White House would not say whether President Bush will sign the legislation, which unanimously passed the House by voice vote Tuesday a few days after it sailed through the Senate. Without Bush's signature, the bill would become law during the congressional recess that begins next week.

It would be the first makeover of the FOIA in a decade, among other things bringing nonproprietary information held by government contractors under the law. The legislation also is aimed at reversing an order by former Attorney General John Ashcroft in the wake of the attacks, in which he instructed agencies to lean against releasing information when there was uncertainty about how doing so would affect national security.

Hopefully this will make it harder for the dirtbags in the White House to continue to obstruct the many investigations into Bush administration and GOP crimes and scandals. CREW ought to be exceptionally happy about this news. BUT...

Expect another pResidential signing statement with this one, if he bothers to sign it at all? Likely, he will sign it. Just so he can try to falsely claim his right to ignore it.

Think Progress Complains About Progress

Apparently a study on C-Span coverage of think tanks says Think Progress' mother ship, CAP, is center-left:
A new study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research “finds that right-wing think tanks got 51 percent of C-SPAN’s total coverage in 2006, while left-of-center think tanks only got 18 percent of their coverage (a mere 5 percent of which were ‘progressive’ think tanks). The other 31 percent of coverage went to centrist groups.” As TAPPED’s Kate Sheppard points out, this is at odds with C-SPAN’s stated aspiration of “a balanced presentation of points of view.”

Oddly, the study incorrectly lists the Center for American Progress as “center-left” rather than “progressive".
Yes, the imbalance tilted towards wacko right wingnuts' views on C-Span sucks. No big shocker there...

And no offense to the fine work Think Progress does, but IMHO you are center-left. And I mean that in a good way. The Overton Window has been so far to the right for so long and the right wing would love to continue to label you as pinko-lefty-liberal-socialist-commies.

While I find it interesting that many left and right leaning centrists choose to identify with the progressive label more these days, and most liberals just stick to the term liberal. Neither is a bad moniker, and both tend to deal with the reality of today’s politics as opposed to the frames of the right wing echoed in the media.

There are many of us working our asses off to drag the Overton Window back to a place where places like Think Progress will be counted as “center-left." Please don’t undo all of that hard work and smile and take that label. We’ll know the country is back on track to recover from the failed “Great Republican Experiment” when they call you center-right or moderate conservatives… Until then, STFU and take the center-left label for the cause, Damnit! :) lol


Dodd on FISA Victory

We won this battle but the GOP war against The Constitution and The Bill of Rights is still on. Meanwhile, Dodd sends a message to the hundreds of thousands of people that supported his efforts:

There is only one other Presidential candidate that has taken these Constitutional battles as seriously as Dodd by actually walking the walk. That is Dennis Kucinich, with Kucinich leading the charge on the Impeachment front and a myriad of other liberal/progressive issues. Other candidates merely pay lip service to these issues, or fall in line after the real leaders break ground on these issues.

Matt over at Dodd's Blog points out the obvious:

One of my recently discovered favorite blogs is Lead or Get Out of the Way. It's authors write under pseudonyms pulled from Revolutionary era patriots - their goal is to help promote more and better Democrats. One of the coolest features of their site is that they use two tag clouds to sort out who is leading the most and who most needs to get out of the way.

Take one guess who they see as leading the most?

Chris Dodd.

Remember that we must step up the pressure on Congress critters if we are ever going to effect real change. Send a message of thanks to Dodd here and/or fiscally REWARD outstanding behavior here...

As a side note: Here is some coverage of the other liberal New England Senator, Ted Kennedy, that was caught doing something good on this issue as well. And here is another Senator's personal take on the battle, as Russ Feingold Blogs over at TPM Cafe.


Spy VS Spy

OR spy agency vs spy agency... Via Talking Points Memo:
The Washington Post gets a retired FBI agent on the record who contradicts much of what former CIA agent John Kiriakou had to say last week about the capture and torture of Abu Zubaydah. Who to believe?
Via TPM Muckraker:

Abu Zubaydah was:

A) A high-ranking Al Qaeda operative who largely confounded U.S. interrogators with his literary and tactical genius until they submitted him to waterboarding and other forms of torture. After that, he provided key information that likely preempted future attacks.

B) A low-ranking and mentally ill Al Qaeda operative who provided valuable information under gentle questioning, but whose confessions made under torture were useless. Much of the threat information he provided was "crap."

A is the CIA's version (and the President's). B is the FBI's. And in today's Washington Post, Dan Eggen and Walter Pincus walk through the competing profiles. Zubaydah, remember, was one of the two detainees whose interrogations appeared on the destroyed CIA tapes.

It's clear off the bat that the version of events provided by John Kiriakou, the former CIA agent who launched something like a PR blitz last week, is not quite right. In his telling, Zubaydah held out until waterboarded; after only 35 seconds of that, he gave in and "from that day on, he answered every question."

By contrast, both CIA and FBI agents tell the Post that he provided valuable information before he was waterboarded. And there wasn't just one session: "Instead, [other former and current officials] said, harsh tactics used on him at a secret detention facility in Thailand went on for weeks or, depending on the account, even months."

And then you get to the real discrepancies.

Meanwhile, the destruction of the CIA torture tapes that sparked this inter-agency battle likely violated a court order concerning evidence of torture:

A federal judge has ordered a hearing on whether the Bush administration violated a court order by destroying CIA interrogation videos of suspected terrorists.

U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy rejected calls from the Justice Department to stay out of the matter. He ordered lawyers to appear before him Friday morning.

In June 2005, Kennedy ordered the administration to safeguard “all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.”


Take Gavel From Childish Joe Neocon Lieberman

Via TPM:

Marc Ambinder and Mike Allen are both reporting this afternoon that Joe Lieberman will appear in New Hampshire to endorse John McCain's presidential campaign.

A source familiar with the endorsement said that the two will appear of NBC's Today Show tomorrow morning and at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire.

The endorsement could help McCain with independents in the state.... The move will heighten speculation that McCain might ask Lieberman to join his ticket.

A few thoughts. First, this news hardly comes as a surprise. As far back as January, Lieberman said he would consider backing the Republican nominee in '08. Obviously, given that McCain and Lieberman have been joined at the hip in support of Bush's Iraq policy for five years, I would have been more surprised if he didn't endorse McCain.


This is the natural evolution of an embarrassing senator who lost his way quite a while ago. It's unlikely, in a 51-49 Senate, that the Democratic leadership will punish Lieberman for this (by, say, reevaluating the decision to give him a committee chairman's gavel he never uses), but it's hardly an unreasonable move given the circumstances.
Previously brewed in New Milford:

Help Wanted: Prestigious Senate Career Opportunity

A prestigious opportunity for career advancement in the Senate:

The Democratic party is in search of a new Chairman (or chairwoman/chairperson) for the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Moderate Senators need only apply.(1)

The Chairman's responsibilities and Jurisdictions will include real oversight concerning failures of the Bush administration in providing security to our nation during times of war, illegal invasions, ongoing occupations, and natural disasters, as well as overseeing the bloated budget and operations of the largest branch of government ever to be created in the US governments' history through legislation authored under the Republican controlled Senate and House, and signed by the Republican pResident of the time.

Your main and immediate responsibilities will include holding the needed hearings, directing sub-commitees and legislation needed to avoid repeating the previous disasters, corrupt practices, and failures that will be found with the proper direction and oversight of a NON-PARTISAN and ETHICAL Senate leader.

Send all applications to Senator Harry Reid(2)

(1)Minorities such as moderate Republicans having no ties to far-right-wing radical organizations like the Neoconservative movement, the American Enterprise Institute, The Heritage Foundation, Energy Corporations, or the Bush administrations most recent policy proposals that are doomed to failure, are encouraged to apply to Senator Harry Reid for any consideration concerning this soon to be available position.

(2)Note to applicants: Please mark the subject of the Email as "Homeland Security" and refer to this x-posted Blog diary in the opening paragragh of the application. You will be contacted shortly before I post an "I told you so!" diary covering the flawed positions, election statement lies, and propaganda of the far-right-wing radical Neoconservative Joe Lieberman.

ReReBlogged Since this position
has yet
to be filled by a qualified,
ethical or sane candidate.


Conyers asks YOU to support Dodd on FISA

Support Dodd's Filibuster:
Dear Friend:

The Senate will soon consider legislation addressing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). I emailed you about this issue recently responding to inaccuracies in the press about Democratic efforts to improve protection of civil liberties. I am writing you today to update you on the current state of the bill and to ask for your help.

One critical question being considered in the Senate's FISA bill is whether to offer telecom companies retroactive immunity for any actions they undertook in the wireless surveillance program. The Bush Administration has claimed that this is necessary for national security reasons, but I am skeptical.

If the Administration was serious about arguing for this immunity, I suspect they would take steps to demonstrate to Congress the extent of this surveillance program and what role the phone companies played. Yet they have refused to share even this information with the House. Clearly, it is a bit much to ask for immunity from prosecution without explaining why it is necessary.

Because of these reservations, the House-passed FISA bill did not include the immunity the president sought. In the Senate, however, it is becoming clear that a tough battle will now ensue over this provision. Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut has been a vocal opponent of telecom immunity and has promised to filibuster any FISA legislation that includes this provision.

Senator Dodd needs your help right now. Please visit his site and lend your support to the filibuster now. Your help can make a difference at this important juncture.

Thank you again for your continued support for a better democracy.

Your Friend,
John Conyers, Jr.


Media Refuses to Print Congress Members Op-Ed

Hijacked in its entirety from Stephen D's diaries at the Booman Tribune:
Three members of Congress, all Democrats, all members of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote an op-ed and submitted it to various major national newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. Everyone turned them down, despite the fact that the issue which their op-ed addresses is one currently before the Judiciary Committee and is of great interest to millions of Americans. Why? Perhaps it had something to do with the subject matter: Impeachment Hearings.

The authors of the op-ed are Robert Wexler (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Rather than give up on seeing their argument for proceeding with impeachment hearings meet the same fate as a tree falling in a forest when no one is there to witness its demise, they have decided to publish the op-ed online and seek netroots support in the form of a petition to Congress. Go to this link hosted by Rep. Wexler's website to sign their petition.

Now, in it's entirety, here is the op-ed The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others, didn't think worthy of publishing, thus depriving their readers of the opportunity to hear from the major Congressional proponents for impeachment hearings against Vice President Cheney:


By Representatives and Members of the Judiciary Committee:

Robert Wexler (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

On November 7, the House of Representatives voted to send a resolution of impeachment of Vice President Cheney to the Judiciary Committee. As Members of the House Judiciary Committee, we strongly believe these important hearings should begin.

The issues at hand are too serious to ignore, including credible allegations of abuse of power that if proven may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under our constitution. The charges against Vice President Cheney relate to his deceptive actions leading up to the Iraq war, the revelation of the identity of a covert agent for political retaliation, and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens.

Now that former White House press secretary Scott McClellan has indicated that the Vice President and his staff purposefully gave him false information about the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson as a covert agent to report to the American people, it is even more important for Congress to investigate what may have been an intentional obstruction of justice. Congress should call Mr. McClellan to testify about what he described as being asked to “unknowingly [pass] along false information.” In addition, recent revelations have shown that the Administration including Vice President Cheney may have again manipulated and exaggerated evidence about weapons of mass destruction -- this time about Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Some of us were in Congress during the impeachment hearings of President Clinton. We spent a year and a half listening to testimony about President Clinton’s personal relations. This must not be the model for impeachment inquires. A Democratic Congress can show that it takes its constitutional authority seriously and hold a sober investigation, which will stand in stark contrast to the kangaroo court convened by Republicans for President Clinton. In fact, the worst legacy of the Clinton impeachment – where the GOP pursued trumped up and insignificant allegations - would be that it discourages future Congresses from examining credible and significant allegations of a constitutional nature when they arise.

The charges against Vice President Cheney are not personal. They go to the core of the actions of this Administration, and deserve consideration in a way the Clinton scandal never did. The American people understand this, and a majority support hearings according to a November 13 poll by the American Research Group. In fact, 70% of voters say that Vice President Cheney has abused his powers and 43% say that he should be removed from office right now. The American people understand the magnitude of what has been done and what is at stake if we fail to act. It is time for Congress to catch up.

Some people argue that the Judiciary Committee can not proceed with impeachment hearings because it would distract Congress from passing important legislative initiatives. We disagree. First, hearings need not tie up Congress for a year and shut down the nation. Second, hearings will not prevent Congress from completing its other business. These hearings involve the possible impeachment of the Vice President – not our commander in chief – and the resulting impact on the nation’s business and attention would be significantly less than the Clinton Presidential impeachment hearings. Also, despite the fact that President Bush has thwarted moderate Democratic policies that are supported by a vast majority of Americans -- including children’s health care, stem cell research, and bringing our troops home from Iraq -- the Democratic Congress has already managed to deliver a minimum wage hike, an energy bill to address the climate crisis and bring us closer to energy independence, assistance for college tuition, and other legislative successes. We can continue to deliver on more of our agenda in the coming year while simultaneously fulfilling our constitutional duty by investigating and publicly revealing whether or not Vice President Cheney has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.

Holding hearings would put the evidence on the table, and the evidence – not politics – should determine the outcome. Even if the hearings do not lead to removal from office, putting these grievous abuses on the record is important for the sake of history. For an Administration that has consistently skirted the constitution and asserted that it is above the law, it is imperative for Congress to make clear that we do not accept this dangerous precedent. Our Founding Fathers provided Congress the power of impeachment for just this reason, and we must now at least consider using it.

Here is the video Rep. Wexler posted at his website and on YouTube regarding impeachment:

[update] As of 10:43 AM today (Sunday) Wexler has amassed more than the 50,000 signatures he was looking for:

Go on over and add your name, if you haven't already?


What will 32 Million buy you in Iraq?

Absolutely nothing:
The U.S. military paid a Florida company nearly $32 million to build barracks and offices for Iraqi army units even though nothing was ever built, Pentagon investigators reported.

The project had to be abandoned because the Iraqi Defense Ministry couldn't obtain rights to the land where the headquarters were to be built, according to a report released this month by the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General. Contracting records show the buildings would have housed one brigade and three battalions of the Iraqi military in Ramadi, a hotbed of the Sunni Muslim insurgency and capital of Anbar province.

Still, the Air Force agency overseeing the project paid contractor Ellis Environmental Group $31.9 million of the $34.2 million obligated for the project, the report said.

How many kids could have been added to SCHIP with that kind of money?

And does John Ellis Bush (JEB) have any ties to the contractor in question?

Anyway... That company has done a lot of business with the military over the years:
Companies with federal contracts located in this zip code (NEWBERRY, FL):

* ELLIS ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP, LC (414 SW 140TH TERRACE; small business): $122,166,659 in 581 contracts from 1999 to 2006

Contracts for Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Family Housing Facilities, Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Other Administrative Facilities and Service Buildings, Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Maintenance Buildings, Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Office Buildings, and more by Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - civil program financing only, Air Force, Navy, and others Signed by year: 2000: $9,835,797; 2001: $13,662,347; 2002: $19,509,481; 2003: $15,617,861; 2004: $33,553,061; 2005: $28,096,520; 2006: $1,298,719.

Biggest contracts:
$6,000,000 with Army for Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Family Housing Facilities. Signed on 2004-11-06. Completion date: 2005-04-29.
$6,000,000 with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - civil program financing only for Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Family Housing Facilities. Signed on 2004-11-06. Completion date: 2005-04-29. $3,613,450 with Air Force for Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Other Administrative Facilities and Service Buildings. Taking place in AL. Signed on 2005-09-27. Completion date: 2007-05-10. $3,500,000 with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - civil program financing only for Maintenance, Repair or Alteration of Real Property -- Family Housing Facilities. Signed on 2004-10-20. Completion date: 2005-04-29.

For a company with all of that money from these contracts it is mighty odd that their web site is a blank now...

But the wayback machine gives us some info on the real Billions in contracts:

APRIL 13, 2006
Ellis Environmental Group, LC (EEG) based in Jonesville, Florida announced today they have been awarded a new Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract called HERC (Heavy Engineering Repair and Construction). This is a worldwide contract with the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence (AFCEE). The contract was awarded to 20 firms, and can be worth up to $15 billion over an 8 year ordering period. This contract is the largest won by EEG and eclipses the $4 billion contract awarded to the firm by the United States Air Force two years ago. The company plans to administer the contract from its corporate headquarters in Jonesville. “This contract will most certainly create more jobs for our community” stated Dena D. Marriott, EEG’s public relations manager and human resources director. The company was founded in 1995 and is owned by Rusi B. Charna, Jeffrey P. Bleke (formerly with Environmental Science and Engineering), and James E. Bleke. For further information, EEG can be contacted at 352.332.3888.
Rusi B. Charna, CEO
Jeffrey P. Bleke, President
James E. Bleke, Executive Vice President
Dena D. Marriott, Company Spokesperson

As for who really owns the company?

Top 500 Diversity Owned Businesses in the U.S. -- 2001

Ellis Environmetnal Group, LC
Newberry, FL www.ellisenv.com
Subcontinent Asian American

Your guess is as good as mine...

Soldiers in 1-26 stage a ‘mutiny’

Via the Army Times, a platoon gets about as minimum a punishment as you can get for mutiny:
‘Not us. We’re not going.’
Soldiers in 2nd Platoon, Charlie 1-26 stage a ‘mutiny’ that pulls the unit apart.

For all his dark humor, the “Hero of Burger King,” as fellow soldiers teasingly called him, was deeply rattled by the carnage of the explosion at the fast-food court. At Apache, he expected trouble. But not at Burger King.

“That affected me,” he said. For the next few days, he said, he slept in the open-ended concrete bunkers positioned between the housing units.

It was just another bad day to add to many — and DeNardi’s platoon had already faced misery that seemed unbearable. When five soldiers with 2nd Platoon were trapped June 21 after a deep-buried roadside bomb flipped their Bradley upside-down, several men rushed to save the gunner, Spc. Daniel Agami, pinned beneath the 30-ton vehicle. But they could only watch — and listen to him scream — as he burned alive. The Bradley was far too heavy to lift, and the flames were too high to even get close. The four others died inside the vehicle. Second Platoon already had lost four of its 45 men since deploying to Adhamiya 11 months before. June 21 shattered them.

Though their commanders moved them from the combat outpost to safer quarters, members of 2nd Platoon would stage a revolt they viewed as a life-or-death act of defiance. With all they had done and all they had seen, they now were consumed with an anger that ate at the memory of the good men they were when they arrived in Iraq.


“A scheduled patrol is a direct order from me,” Strickland said.

“‘They’re not coming,’” Strickland said he was told. “So I called the platoon sergeant and talked to him. ‘Remind your guys: These are some of the things that could happen if they refuse to go out.’ I was irritated they were thumbing their noses. I was determined to get them down there.”

But, he said, he didn’t know the whole platoon, except for Ybay, had taken sleeping medications prescribed by mental health that day, according to Ybay.

Strickland didn’t know mental health leaders had talked to 2nd Platoon about “doing the right thing.”

He didn’t know 2nd Platoon had gathered for a meeting and determined they could no longer function professionally in Adhamiya — that several platoon members were afraid their anger could set loose a massacre.

“We said, ‘No.’ If you make us go there, we’re going to light up everything,” DeNardi said. “There’s a thousand platoons. Not us. We’re not going.”

They decided as a platoon that they were done, DeNardi and Cardenas said, as did several other members of 2nd Platoon. At mental health, guys had told the therapist, “I’m going to murder someone.” And the therapist said, “There comes a time when you have to stand up,” 2nd Platoon members remembered. For the sake of not going to jail, the platoon decided they had to be “unplugged.”

Ybay had gone to battalion to speak up for his guys and ask for more time. But when he came back, it was with orders to report to Old Mod.

Ybay said he tried to persuade his men to go out, but he could see they were not ready.

“It was like a scab that wouldn’t heal up,” Ybay said. “I couldn’t force them to go out. Listening to them in the mental health session, I could hear they’re not ready.”

At 2 a.m, Ybay said, he’d found his men sitting outside smoking cigarettes. They could not sleep. Some of them were taking as many as 10 sleeping pills and still could not rest. The images of their dead friends haunted them. The need for revenge ravaged them.

They are alive because they refused their orders. Other soldiers that pulled the patrol are dead. A First Sargent in another company says he can't take it anymore and blows his head off in front of some of his soldiers.

I hope your having fun shopping for your government sanctioned Christmas... With everything else going on in this country and around the world, that is what is really important, right?


Christian War on Chanukah

Eight men and two women are charged with assault, menacing and other mean 'n nasty things... In their unholy war on Chanukah, they may even have the charges upped to hate crimes:
The altercation erupted when Adler and his friends said "Happy Chanukah" to a group yelling "Merry Christmas" on the Brooklyn-bound train.

The 20-year-old Askari said he tried to fight off the 10 attackers, giving Adler a chance to summon police by pulling an emergency brake.


"That a random Muslim kid helped some Jewish kids, that's what's positive about New York," said Adler, 23, who suffered a broken nose and a lip wound.

Some Christians can be the most hateful and despicable people on the face of the earth. Well? At least the fake ones that dishonestly claim America should be some kind of theocratic/fascist bastion of hypocrisy, going against the true meanings of the documents drawn up by The Founding Fathers.

Walter Adler called Hassan Askari a hero for stepping up. I say that he is a true Patriot AND a hero. The New York Post has more on this:
Walter Adler was touched that Hassan Askari jumped to his aid while a group of thugs allegedly pummeled and taunted him and his three friends. So Adler has invited his new friend over to celebrate the Festival of Lights.

The two new pals - Adler, 23, with a broken nose and a fat lip, and Askari, 20, with two black eyes - broke bread together and laughed off the bruises the night after the fisticuffs.

"A random Muslim guy jumped in and helped a Jewish guy on Hanukkah - that's a miracle," said Adler, an honors student at Hunter College.

"He's basically a hero. Hassan jumped in to help us."

The New York Post also has some video up on this story.


Hate Crimes in Connecticut?

As Connecticut's left, and particularly ctbblogger at HatCityBlog, celebrates the downfall of one idiotic bigot known as the Big Turd, there is a possibility of hate crime charges being not too far off on the horizon against members of a group known as “K Nation” in Plainfield, Connecticut:
Phyllisha Williams of Moosup crys Wednesday, November 14, 2007 while recounting the alleged racial slurs and beating of her son, Nashawn Williams, a sophomore at Plainfield High School during a press conference at the Plainfield Police station. Behind her is Scot X. Esdaile, Connecticut State Comference of NAACP Branches president.
In a prepared statement, Plainfield Police Chief Robert J. Hoffman said his department is conducting the alleged assault investigation properly, and rejected any assertion the department acted unprofessionally.

"At no time has the victim's family, or anyone representing the victim, contacted the police department to complain of inadequate service," Hoffman wrote. "Had the department been made aware of Williams' concerns, the matter would have been investigated despite the lack of a written complaint."

Hoffman said the department is close to finishing final interviews associated with the alleged assault. In addition to assault, he said suspects could be charged with hate-related crimes.

It has been almost a month since that November 15th Norwich Bulletin report on the group of white men that allegedly beat up Nashawn Williams, a 10th grader, while he was waiting for his school bus. This followed on the heels of events where Williams had been taunted with racial slurs at school, of which the Superintendent at Nashawn's school confirmed in the report, and threats of violence to their family at their home.

Undercurrents has more on the situation and some things to do about this:
Connecticut legislators, Attorney General, Governor, State Police and on and on are SAYING NOTHING about the blatant racist attack against Nashawn Williams in Plainfield. The Plainfield police are simply dismissing the racist attack on Nashawn as a prank. Instead over the last week it has become glaringly clear that the victim and the family are becoming the targets of a Racist system of InJustice in Plainfield and Connecticut! I wonder if they were rich white folks in Plainfield if the deafening police and government silence would be the same? Don’t let Jena come to Plainfield! The System refuses to take a stand against Racism and so it is the PEOPLE’s VOICE THAT MUST BE HEARD. It is imperative that you add your voice and join us this Saturday, December 15th at the Plainfield Town Hall at 12:30 PM to stand behind Nashawn and his Family saying that we will not tolerate Racism in Connecticut.

Correction there, Chief Hoffman. If you have already said that there may be charges of hate crimes, then there are likely a few VIOLENT idiotic BIGOTS running around... And almost two months later they are still running around.


Why Some Democrats Refuse to Investigate for Impeachment - Part Deux

Just a rehash on the torture enabling situation. The other day I posted one of the main reasons why Dems continue to refuse to investigate and act on 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.
Glen Greenwald offers some further observations into this reality:
I continue to be amazed and disturbed by the number of people willing to defend the actions of Rockefeller and his comrades by claiming that these poor, victimized Congressional members just have no ability to do anything when they learn about outright lawbreaking by the administration. As I asked yesterday, why would they even bother to attend briefings if they believed that they were "powerless" to act even upon learning of serious illegalities? Here is the central purpose of the Select Committee on Intelligence -- the primary reason it exists, as stated by the resolution which created the Committee:
It is further the purpose of this resolution to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.
The Intelligence Committees were created as a response to the discovery in the 1970s of illegal conduct by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The core function is to monitor what the intelligence community does and to "assure that such activities" are legal. It is a complete travesty for the senior Democrats on those Committees (and their apologists) to claim that they are powerless to act when learning of lawbreaking. Anyone who thinks that way should not be on the Committee. The idea that they can't do anything once learning of lawbreaking is the very opposite of the Committee's core purpose. But, of course, they were not and are not powerless to act. They simply chose not to act.

In addition to the other mechanisms for action identified here and elsewhere thus far that are available to Senators who learn of patently illegal behavior in a classified setting, key members of the Intelligence Committee could also refuse to cooperate in the enactment of legislation, block nominees, and otherwise thwart the administration's needs until there is some resolution. Such Senators could hold closed door hearings or announce publicly that they have learned of serious lawbreaking by the CIA (without specifying what the lawbreaking is) and demand that the administration agree to a classified setting to resolve those concerns (such as appointing a special counsel with security clearances or empowering a court able to investigate and adjudicate highly classified matters).

But they did none of that. They did the opposite: they continued to cooperate meekly with the administration, pass all of their demanded legislation, and keep quiet. Even for those who say that it's terribly unfair to expect our political leaders to subject themselves to any risk whatsoever in order to put a stop to such gross abuses, they could have acted in ways far short of some sort of melodramatic civil disobedience which would have risked imprisonment (i.e, they would not have had to go as far as actual leaders and patriots who did take risks in order to expose serious governmental wrongdoing).

If someone wants to defend these Democrats' complicit behavior (on the craven ground that what they did was understandable because it was politically wise), then they should make that argument. But nobody should pretend that these Senators and Representatives were "helpless" and had no options for putting a stop to Bush's torture programs and other lawbreaking if they were actually interested in doing so.

Needless to say, if anyone tries to argue that it is politically wise to ignore these crimes... They are no better than the neoconservatives and their GOPeeons that committed the actual crimes.

If there are Democratic party members that feel they are unable to do their jobs according to the responsibilities defined by their positions of power and the oaths they took to uphold The Constitution, up to and including putting impeachment back on the table, then I suggest they find a new line of work. Or, perhaps, prepare for a long visit to a prison with the other criminals they have enabled.

Gang Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR?

Is this brutal violence the kind of example the US is setting in Iraq?
A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.


Jones told ABCNews.com that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped "both vaginally and anally," but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.


Legal experts say Jones' alleged assailants will likely never face a judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law.

Hey... If she had been an Iraqi victim of something like this, likely, they would have just killed her and tossed in an alley somewhere afterwards instead of locking her up in a shipping container. Such are the ethics of contractors mercenaries in Iraq. And two years later we can clearly see how they remain unaccountable by the State Department and other government authorities under the criminal bush administration.

It isn't exactly like contractors mercenaries have a great track record in spreading bush's "Freedumb!"

And it is not like the military has been setting a great example for the contractors mercenaries, either:

As the anniversary of the Iraq invasion approaches, another milestone has quietly passed, leaving a window into the protracted and unimaginable human costs of this war in Iraq and here at home. A year ago, 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Al-Janabi was stalked, gang-raped, shot in the head and her corpse burned in her own home in Mahmoudiya, Iraq. Four U.S. soldiers and one former soldier are charged with the crimes.

The soldiers were so confident of their abilities to achieve their intended crimes that they rounded up the Al-Janabi family from their daily chores in broad daylight. Pfc. Stephen Green allegedly shot Abeer's parents and 5-year-old sister to death in the room next to where she was being raped by Sgt. Paul Cortez. His buddy, Pfc. James Barker held the struggling, crying teenager down while two other soldiers, Pfc. Jesse Spielman and Pfc. Bryan Howard, reportedly stood watch.

All this in the middle of the day under the hot afternoon sun, March 12, 2006.

Such are the unpleasantries of invasion, war and occupation. The medical journal Lancet estimated in 2004 that at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed, more than half of them women and children. Today, in the absence of accurate figures, that number likely has been far surpassed. To Americans, far from Iraq, these are presented as the sanitized statistics of collateral damage. But the Al-Janabi rape and murders were too well documented to ignore, just as the souvenir photos taken by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison forced Americans to see the torture being committed by their own troops.

[update] Just a minor clarification after re-reading this. I hope that no one took this in any way shape or form as belittling Jones’ situation: These guys that did this should have the book thrown at them if they are guilty. We will never know about that as long as they cover this up. But if Jones had been an Iraqi citizen? No doubt in my mind, she would be dead right now.

Right Wing Moonbat Heads Explode

In the comment threads after watching this:

"In addition to France, Canada, and the UK, Michael Moore also went to Norway. What he found, was unbelievable."

Who would've thought a little trip to Norway could have the therapeutic effect of exposing the hysterical hypocrisy of the GOP talking pointy exploding-heads?


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.