Friday, March 30, 2007

Pentagon memo shows general tried to warn Bush on Tillman's death

There are days when even I'll have to admit that political CYA really stinks. And that is what we have here with this MSNBC story--a major political CYA between the Pentagon and the Bush White House over the death of an Army Ranger. From MSNBC News:

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Just seven days after Pat Tillman's death, a top general warned there were strong indications that the NFL star-turned-soldier did not die in an ambush in Afghanistan, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. But it was not until a month afterward that the Pentagon told the public and grieving family members the truth — that Tillman was mistakenly killed in Afghanistan by his comrades.

The memo reinforces suspicions that the Pentagon was more concerned with sparing officials from embarrassment than with leveling with Tillman's family.

In a memo sent to a four-star general a week after Tillman's April 22, 2004, death, then-Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that it was "highly possible" the Army Ranger was killed by friendly fire. McChrystal made it clear his warning should be conveyed to President Bush.

"I felt that it was essential that you received this information as soon as we detected it in order to preclude any unknowing statements by our country's leaders which might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Cpl. Tillman's death become public," McChrystal wrote on April 29, 2004, to Gen. John Abizaid, head of Central Command.

White House spokesman Blain Rethmeier said Friday that a review of records turned up no indication that the president had received McChrystal's warning. Bush made no reference to the way Tillman died in a speech delivered two days after the memo was written. But Rethmeier emphasized that the president often pays tribute to fallen soldiers without mentioning the exact circumstances of their deaths.

The family was not told until May 29, 2004, what really happened. In the intervening weeks, the military continued to say Tillman died under enemy fire, and even awarded him the Silver Star, which is given for heroic battlefield action.

The Tillman family has charged that the military and the Bush administration deliberately deceived his relatives and the nation to avoid turning public opinion against the war.

Tillman's mother, Mary, had no immediate comment Friday on the newly disclosed memo.

Pat Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004. It doesn't bother me that both the Pentagon and the Bush White House used Tillman's death for the political purpose of selling their war in Iraq to the American people, or even to try to stifle criticism of that war. Politicians will use their own military service records, or even other military heroes to advance their political goals. What bothers me here is that the Pentagon believed that the cause of Tillman's death was a potential political liability to the Bush White House, to the point of where this Major General McChrystal sent this memo to General Abizaid, warning Abizaid that the Bush administration could become embarrassed in presenting misleading statements regarding Tillman's death. What are they going to say--that Tillman was the ultimate "Rambo" hero, standing tall with his M60 machine gun, blasting those evil terrorists away, sacrificing his own life to save his fellow Army Rangers, and protecting the good old US of A? It bothers me that the Pentagon was more concerned about President Bush making an embarrassing remark, than about actually telling the truth about the events surrounding Tillman's death. McChrystal pretty much knew a week after Tillman's death that Tillman was killed by friendly fire. And yet, the Pentagon waited for a month before telling Tillman's family the truth of Tillman's death. The Pentagon should have just told the truth right away, rather than playing CYA politics. Because with the release of this memo, we've got a whole new scandal, where top Pentagon officials seemed more concern about protecting their own asses, rather than doing their jobs. Who else knew of this memo? Who else read this memo? And are we to accept the Bush administration's claims that the president never received McChrystal's memo and the warning, considering the constant lies this administration has told the American public regarding faulty Iraqi intelligence, the Valerie Plame scandal, the attorney purge scandal, or even all the delusional talk of how the U.S. is still winning in Iraq?

Another scandal....

Friday Fun Stuff Part Deux--Extreme Escalator Skiing

I saw this on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and I'll admit that it is rather funny. It is certainly more funny than watching Karl Rove rapping at the White House Correspondents Dinner. What surprises me here is that the story is making headlines in the mainstream news media now. It was featured on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. It has also been posted on CNN, Yahoo News, Raw Story, and Reuters. What is so ironic is that this video has been on YouTube for about two months. The original video of this guy skiiing down the escalator probably came from YouTube user XTremeVideo. On XTremeVideo's YouTube page, the escalator skiing video has been viewed 873,000 times. It is such an audacious and crazy news story, it is no wonder that this story and video has become a hit.

So here it is--Man Skiing Down Escalator! From YouTube:

Friday Fun Stuff--A Rappin' Rove?

White House Senior Advisor Karl Rove performs a rap dance with comedians during the entertainment section of the annual Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner at a hotel in Washington March 28, 2007. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Some things are just so funny, and then there are some things that are just so bad that it is beyond embarrassing. The White House Correspondent's Dinner took place on March 28, 2008. From MSNBC:

Presidential top aide Karl Rove stole the show at the annual Radio and TV Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington DC Wednesday. The black-tie dinner was the group's 63rd annual gathering of journalists, politicians and their guests, features political and topical humor. The dinner allowed members of the media to have a good laugh at the president's expense -- and also a pat on the back or two.

Comics from the TV show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" persuaded Rove to participate in an improvised rap song.

The comic told Rove to add his rap name -- MC Rove -- to the performance. Rove obliged, chiming in when prompted with his part, "I'm MC Rove" throughout the rap.

NBC White House correspondent David Gregory joined Rove on the stage as a dancer for the performance.

And Yahoo News has even more details regarding "MC Rove's" background:

The balding, bespectacled Rove was given a standing ovation at an annual broadcast journalists' awards dinner on Wednesday night when he danced and posed with his Blackberry during an improvised rap skit.

As boss
President George W. Bush looked on, Rove gamely flapped about the stage as comedian Brad Sherwood described his favourite pastimes: "Listen up suckas, don't get the jitters, but MC Rove tears the heads off of critters."

Rove had told Sherwood that he liked to hunt, collect stamps and "tear the heads off of small animals."

But I know you readers out there are just anxious to see MC Rove's captivating performance, and I've got it right here on YouTube:

It is certainly disturbing to think that this is what the Washington establishment considers as "humorous."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Some Woodstock memories--Country Joe and the Fish

I found this little gem of a song called I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die, by Country Joe and the Fish. Now Country Joe and the Fish was a small folk band, playing with Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, and Iron Butterfly. The band became famous for playing I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixing-to-Die at Woodstock. They performed the song on Friday August 15, 1969. The song has become the classic anti-war song during the Vietnam War.

So I figured it is time to resurrect this great song from Country Joe and the Fish. From YouTube:

And here are the lyrics:

Gimme an F!
Gimme an I!
Gimme an S!
Gimme an H!
What's that spell ?
What's that spell ?
What's that spell ?

Yeah, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He's got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We're gonna have a whole lotta fun.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Well, come on generals, let's move fast;
Your big chance has come at last.
Gotta go out and get those reds —
The only good commie is the one who's dead
And you know that peace can only be won
When we've blown 'em all to kingdom come.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.


Well, come on Wall Street, don't move slow,
Why man, this is war au-go-go.
There's plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of the trade,
Just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Well, come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, don't hesitate,
Send 'em off before it's too late.
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

And it's one, two, three
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Nancy Pelosi responds to Bush's veto threat on Iraq timetable

This is just priceless! Here is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's response to President Bush's veto threat of the Iraq war funding bill with the withdrawal timetable. From YouTube:

Pelosi: Calm down with the threats! There is a new Congress in town! Pelosi offers Bush a means of compromise on this bill, but it is not the type of GOP rubber-stamp congressional compromise that the Bush White House has been used to. Pelosi tells Bush that there will be accountability for this war. There will be deadlines and benchmarks in order to determine whether U.S. and Iraqi forces are succeeding in stabilizing the country. There will be penalties levied against the Maliki government for failing to keep the country together. The U.S. war in Iraq is no longer an open-ended commitment. The Democrats are not going to back down against the Bush White House. They are not going to play rubber-stamp. What is more, I would say that a Bush veto against the Iraq war funding bill will cause more political damage against the Bush White House and the Republicans, rather than the Democrats. Consider this March 14, 2006 CNN Poll:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Growing dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq has driven President Bush's approval rating to a new low of 36 percent, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

Only 38 percent said they believe the nearly 3-year-old war was going well for the United States, down from 46 percent in January, while 60 percent said they believed the war was going poorly.

Nearly half of those polled said they believe Democrats would do a better job of managing the war -- even though only a quarter of them said the opposition party has a clear plan for resolving the situation. (Watch what the poll might mean at election time -- 1:49)

Pollsters quizzed 1,001 adults Friday through Sunday for the poll; most questions had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Fifty-seven percent said they believe the March 2003 invasion of Iraq was a mistake, near September's record high of 59 percent. That question had a sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 points. (Interactive: Poll results)

Bush's approval rating of 36 percent is the lowest mark of his presidency in a Gallup poll, falling a percentage point below the 37 percent approval he scored in November. The previous CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted February 28-March 1, put his job approval at 38 percent. (View Bush's second term approval ratings)

Sixty percent of those surveyed in the latest poll said they disapproved of his performance in office, the same figure as in the last poll. (Read full results document -- PDF)


With congressional elections approaching, public discontent with the war appeared to be taking a toll on Bush's fellow Republicans.

Only 32 percent polled over the weekend said they thought Bush had a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq, while 67 percent said he did not.

Only 25 percent said Democrats had a clear plan -- but 48 percent said Democrats would do a better job managing the issue, while 40 percent favored Republicans.

That is the key here--the American public has concluded that the Bush administration has no plan for resolving this U.S. war in Iraq. While they may also not believe that the Democrats do not have a clear plan for getting out of Iraq, the American public is still giving the benefit of the doubt to the Democrats in coming up with a plan. A withdrawal plan has now passed the Democratic Congress with the war funding bill. This only improves the Democrats standing here. If President Bush vetoes the war funding/withdrawal timetable bill, then Bush is telling the American people that he doesn't want to pull the U.S. out of the Iraq war. In other words, President Bush is forcing the Republican Party to take a pro-war stance on Iraq, when the American public is becoming increasingly anti-Iraq-war. This is the problem that the Bush White House faces here on this veto threat. President Bush is trying to force the Republicans to accept a pro-war stance, just one year before the 2008 elections where Iraq will become the major issue, with an American public that is turning against the war. No amount of White House spin, trying to blame the Democrats, can stop this political and electoral disaster that is facing the Republicans.

High Noon--Bush White House verses Congressional Democrats on Iraq withdrawal timetable

Well, it is official. The Senate has voted to approve the Iraq war spending bill with the withdrawal timeline. From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, March 29 — Issuing a stinging challenge to President Bush, the Senate approved a spending measure today that provides more than $96 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but calls for troop withdrawals from Iraq to begin within 120 days and sets a goal of removing most armed forces within a year.

Democrats, preparing for a bruising veto fight, immediately sought to paint the president as obstinate in the face of broad public sentiment against the Iraq war and said he would be the one abandoning American forces should he reject a final bill that lawmakers expect to produce in a few weeks.

"If the president vetoes this bill, it is an asterisk in history," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, following the 51-to-47 vote. "He sets the record for undermining the troops more than any president we have ever had."

But Mr. Bush was not wavering as he stood on the North Portico of the White House, flanked by Republican House leaders, and delivered his veto threat one more time.

"We stand united in saying loud and clear that when we've got a troop in harm's way, we expect that troop to be fully funded," he said. "And we've got commanders making tough decisions on the ground, we expect there to be no strings on our commanders; and that we expect the Congress to be wise about how they spend the people's money."

Two Republicans, Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, joined 49 Democrats in backing the measure, which totaled $123 billion when additional money for Gulf Coast hurricane relief, agricultural assistance and other domestic projects was added in.

Mr. Reid promised that negotiators would quickly begin to reconcile the new Senate measure with a version narrowly passed by the House last week. A key difference is that the Senate bill sets a nonbinding goal for withdrawing troops from Iraq by March 31, 2008, while the House version demands that they be out by September 2008.

The Democrats are aiming to have a bill ready to be approved and sent to the president soon after the House returns from its spring break on April 16.

There is really not much here that I can analyze, that I haven't already analyzed and talked about in my previous posts on Iraq. The Iraq war is a complete disaster--in fact is has been a disaster from the beginning with the occupation and reconstruction failure by the U.S. Iraq is now in a state of ethnic civil war between the Shiites and Sunnis. Both the 2006 midterm, and now the 2008 presidential elections are about the U.S. war in Iraq. The American people want out of Iraq. The Democrats in Congress have been trying to find a way to get the U.S. out of Iraq. President Bush wants to continue the war until after the 2008 elections so that Bush can salvage his presidential legacy, and dump the entire Iraq mess on his successor. The Republicans are meekly following the Bush White House down the cliff. It is High Noon.

I thought it would be fun to include this little YouTube video. It is Bonnie Tyler's song Holding Out for a Hero, played to Looney Tune's classic cartoon Drip-Along Daffy:

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fred Thompson considers a White House run, but James Dobson thinks Thompson is not a Christian

Could this be the next Republican presidential candidate? Former U.S. Senator and "Law and Order" actor Fred Thompson.

I found two interesting stories here that really show a contradiction within the Republican Party. Let's start with this first Washington Post story, titled A 'Law & Order' Presidential Candidate?

"Law & Order" star and former U.S. senator Fred Dalton Thompson is considering a bid for the White House that would test whether Hollywood can once again launch a Republican to the world's premier political stage.

His interest, confirmed in a brief interview this week, is generating buzz in Washington. He was third among Republican-leaning voters in a recent Gallup-USA Today survey, behind Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

The onetime senator from Tennessee is known to many Americans for playing New York District Attorney Arthur Branch on "Law & Order" and an admiral in the film "The Hunt for Red October." But his real-life record as a no-nonsense lawmaker who also served as the minority counsel to the Senate Watergate committee is appealing to party activists dissatisfied with the current crop of Republican hopefuls.

"He has a conservative bearing and a conservative presence, but he's independent in his thinking and his voting record," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who added that Thompson is "seriously considering" a presidential campaign at the urging of many friends. "He has a commanding television presence that makes every other politician in America jealous."

Alexander, a friend of 40 years and twice a presidential candidate himself, said Thompson is likely to take his time deciding and could wait to enter the contest until around Labor Day. Recalling a well-attended Washington cocktail gathering held Sunday, Alexander said: "Fred Thompson was the talk of the party."

So Fred Thompson is generating a lot of buzz as to whether he is going to run for president. And I would say that he's seriously considering it--even with the competition of McCain, Giuliani, and Romney. But not everyone seems to be happy for a Thompson presidential candidacy. I found this little story off Americablog, where the original source was U.S. News and World Report:

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson appeared to throw cold water on a possible presidential bid by former Sen. Fred Thompson while praising former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also weighing a presidential run, in a phone interview Tuesday.

"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Thompson, took issue with Dobson's characterization of the former Tennessee senator. "Thompson is indeed a Christian," he said. "He was baptized into the Church of Christ."

In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson's claim. He said that, while Dobson didn't believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith."

"We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians," Schneeberger added. "Dr. Dobson wasn't expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to 'read the tea leaves' about such a possibility."

Thompson has said he is leaving the door open for a presidential run and has won plaudits from conservatives who are unenthusiastic about the Republican front-runners. A Gallup-USA Today poll, released Tuesday, showed Thompson in third place among Republican and Republican-leaning voters, behind former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain.

While making it clear he was not endorsing any Republican presidential candidate, Dobson, who is considered the most politically powerful evangelical figure in the country, also said that Gingrich was the "brightest guy out there" and "the most articulate politician on the scene today."

Talk about a GOP self-destruction here! Focus on the Family founder, and all-around Religious Right, bat-guano-crazy James Dobson makes a wild accusation that Thompson is not a Christian. When Thompson spokesman Corallo responds by saying that Thompson is a member of the Church of Christ and Latter Day Saints, Dobson backpedals, saying that the only true "Christians" are Evangelical Christians. I would guess that means that Catholics are not Christians. Lutherans are not Christians. For all I know, Baptists are also not Christians--that's what James Dobson is saying.

In James Dobson's view, the only credible presidential candidate to succeed George W. Bush is another evangelical. Dobson appears to support former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Gingrich is a Southern Baptist. Now I know that the fundamentalist movement has been taking over the Southern Baptist church, forcing the denomination to turn to a staunch conservativism. But gee, Mr. Dobson--if you're so insistent that an evangelical Christian can only occupy the White House, then Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton certainly fits into your definition of an "evangelical" Christian, since Mrs. Clinton is a member of the United Methodist Church, which has its own roots in the evangelical movement when the Methodist Church joined with the Evangelical United Brethren back in 1968. Religious affiliation should not make a difference regarding one's qualifications for running for a public office--even that of the presidency. James Dobson doesn't understand that. He wants a George W. Bush-like successor to succeed President George W. Bush. For some reason, he believes that Newt Gingrich is that successor--and the rest of the candidates can go to heck!

Bush blames Congress for his veto on troop funding bill

President Bush walks away from the podium afters addressing the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Wednesday, March 28, 2007, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Okay, this is just totally crazy here! Let's start with this Washington Post story on the Senate passing of a troop withdrawal timetable on a war funding bill:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate on Tuesday endorsed a March 31, 2008, target date for withdrawing American combat troops from Iraq, prompting the White House to threaten a veto and moving Congress a step closer to a showdown with President George W. Bush over the war.

By a vote of 50-48, the Senate defeated an amendment that would have stricken the withdrawal language from a $121.6 billion bill that mostly would fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


The Senate troop withdrawal vote came four days after the House passed its version of a war-spending bill setting a mandatory September 1, 2008, deadline for getting all U.S. combat troops out of Iraq.

Under the Senate bill, which is still being debated, the United States would begin a phased withdrawal of troops this year with the goal, not the requirement, that it be completed by March 31, 2008.

Tuesday's vote in the Senate marked progress for Democrats in that chamber, who failed recently to pass a similar, nonbinding resolution calling for a troop withdrawal.

Now let's get President Bush's response to both the Senate and House bills--yes, he's going to veto it. From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, March 28 — With both houses of Congress now firmly on record in favor of withdrawing from Iraq, President Bush vowed Wednesday not to negotiate a timetable with Democrats, and a confrontation appeared inevitable as each side prepared to blame the other for delays in providing money for the war.

“Now, some of them believe that by delaying funding for our troops, they can force me to accept restrictions on our commanders that I believe would make withdrawal and defeat more likely,” Mr. Bush told an audience of cattlemen and ranchers. “That’s not going to happen. If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible.”


The House approved its version of the spending bill last week, and the Senate was expected to approve its version on Thursday. Democrats said they were ready to begin House-Senate negotiations quickly to produce a final version to send to the president.

The two war funding bills haven't even gotten through the House-Senate negotiations, and Bush is already planning on vetoing it. And what is even more insane is that Bush is blaming the Democrats in Congress for his veto. Because this Democratic Congress would not give President Bush the war funding that he desired without any restrictions. Because this Democratic Congress isn't playing the GOP rubber-stamp that President Bush relied on for the past six years. President Bush considers compromise as a sign of weakness and defeat. Therefore, Bush is ready for an old-fashioned, Texas showdown on Pennsylvania Avenue at high noon. The Democrats in Congress have obliged in providing Bush his showdown.

At high noon....

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Olbermann's Special Comment--DeLay's Delusions

Keith Olbermann gave a small Special Comment on yesterday's Countdown program, regarding Tom DeLay's books No Retreat, No Surrender. Let's start with the Special Comment from YouTube:

And here is the transcript:

The quote, with the context sucked out from around it, is astonishing.

In a new book, former Republican leader of the House Tom DeLay writes, “Liberals have finally joined the ranks of scoundrels like Hitler.”

But, restore the context, as with anything else, and you change the meaning of any quote.

In this case, you make it worse.

Mr. DeLay is comparing how he’s been treated to how the world was treated by Hitler and the Nazis.

The book is called “No Retreat, No Surrender: One American’s Fight.”

It has been officially out for nearly two weeks, and it has not cracked The New York Times top 30.

So the fact of this one quotation, first noted only last week by The Jewish Daily Forward, could have easily slipped through the cracks.

But even though nobody seems to be reading his book, Mr. DeLay is nonetheless referring to what he calls a lie — the accusation that he violated campaign-finance laws in Texas, for which he was indicted.

And on page 156 he writes:

I believe it was Adolf Hitler who first acknowledged that the big lie ...

Look, stop right there, Mr. DeLay.

If you’re going to throw around Hitler’s name, research the reference, huh?

As suggested on The Huffington Post, we have many useful Internet search engines now.

If you type in “Big Lie, Hitler” into the one called “Google,” you get 1,320,000 results.

I believe it was Adolf Hitler who first acknowledged that the big lie is more effective than the little lie, because the big lie is so audacious, such an astonishing immorality, that people have a hard time believing anyone would say it if it wasn’t true.

You know, the big lie — like the Holocaust never happened or dark-skinned people are less intelligent than light-skinned people. Well, by charging this big lie about money laundering, liberals have finally joined the ranks of scoundrels like Hitler.

OK, where do we start here?

Let’s try the gentlest interpretation.

Mr. DeLay believes that the accusation that he violated Texas campaign finance laws is on some kind of par with claims that light-skinned people are more intelligent than dark-skinned people.

Now that’s the gentlest one.

The somewhat less kind interpretation?

He’s equating anybody, charging him — just him — with anything, even if it were a lie, with the Nazis.

Just by going after Tom DeLay, you are like that old “scoundrel” Hitler.

So Tom DeLay is as important as — what? — democracy in 1930s Germany?

Poland in 1939?

The Jewish people?

So Mr. DeLay, go back to your Google and type in the name “Tom DeLay” and the phrase “Delusions of Grandeur.”

And you get 11,500 results.

I find it amazing the Tom DeLay has the audacity of comparing liberals to Hitler. But it is not surprising. DeLay is pandering his book to a minority here--the hard-lined, right-wing conservative wackos and Religious Right extremists who will support him, regardless of anything Tom DeLay ever does. To think that DeLay's money-laundering indictment is a liberal lie that is akin to any "big lie" that Adolf Hitler ever told is outrageous. It is delusional.

But then again, Tom DeLay has shown himself to be a liar with this very book that he is comparing liberals to Hitler. Let's not forget this little hypocritical lie that DeLay told Hardball's Chris Matthews back on March 22, 2006:

Tom DeLay....Delusional.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Monday Schoolhouse Rocks--The Preamble

This is probably THE only way to memorize The Preamble of the Constitution. From YouTube:

I guess George W. Bush slept through this social studies lesson....

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Interior Department official pleads guilty in Abramoff case

Looks like we've got another exciting episode of The Jack Abramoff Show! This is off The Washington Post:

The former No. 2 official in the Interior Department yesterday admitted lying to the Senate about his relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who gained the official's intervention at the agency for his Indian tribal clients.

J. Steven Griles pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a felony for making false statements in testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in November 2005 and in an earlier interview with panel investigators. He is the 10th person -- and the second high-level Bush administration official -- to face criminal charges in the continuing Justice Department investigation into Abramoff's lobbying activities.

Griles, 59, a gregarious former mining lobbyist, drew the wrath of environmentalists and his department's inspector general during a stormy four-year tenure at Interior. Standing before U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle, Griles said little beyond admitting guilt, though in a written statement distributed by his lawyer he apologized for his actions.

"I fully accept the responsibility for my conduct and the consequences it may have," he said in the statement. "When a Senate committee asks questions, they must be answered fully and completely and it is not my place to decide whether those questions are relevant or too personal."

Griles could receive up to five years in prison for obstructing the Senate investigation, but prosecutors agreed to ask for a sentence of 10 months in exchange for the guilty plea -- five months in jail and five months in a halfway house or in home detention. Huvelle set sentencing for June 26 and said she is not bound by the prosecution's recommendation.

Griles told the Senate panel and its investigators that his relationship with Abramoff was no different from that with any lobbyist. Griles's then-girlfriend, however, had introduced him to the lobbyist and then acted as a go-between. The woman, Italia Federici -- identified as "Person A" in court papers -- ran an advocacy group to which Abramoff and his clients donated $500,000.

"Abramoff occasionally sought and received -- both directly and through Person A -- defendant James Steven Griles' advice and intervention on issues within DOI that directly affected Abramoff and his clients," said the government's charging document. Griles was not accused of accepting anything of value in exchange.

The Abramoff corruption case continues on. While the WaPost story reports that the plea deal does not require Griles to cooperate with the Justice Department in the Abramoff investigation, I wouldn't be too surprised if the Justice Department lawyers offer a little time off of Griles' prison sentence in return for his cooperation. Griles' cooperation could help reveal details of the relationship between Abramoff and then-Secretary of Interior Gail Norton:

Griles was a controversial political appointee from the start of his tenure at Interior under then-Secretary Gale A. Norton. Environmentalists and the department's inspector general faulted him for keeping ties to energy and mining companies that were once his lobbying clients.

The guilty plea stems from his testimony on Nov. 2, 2005, before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee that "there was no special relationship for Mr. Abramoff in my office. It never did exist." He has now admitted that he had frequent contact with Abramoff through Federici, the founder of a conservative environmental group with close ties to Norton. Federici had served as an official on one of Norton's political campaigns in Colorado.

Abramoff and his lobbying team focused on the Interior Department because its actions affected their most lucrative clients: Indian tribes with casinos. Abramoff directed tribal clients to contribute to Federici's group, the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy.

E-mails released as part of the Senate panel's Abramoff investigation detailed contact Griles had had with Abramoff or Federici.

Griles told the panel then that he had little to do with Indian affairs and never tried to help Abramoff's clients. But a former Interior Department lawyer testified that Griles inserted himself in tribal issues, including one that would determine whether a small Louisiana tribe, the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, would be able to build a casino.

The Washington Post outlined in a March 2005 article how Abramoff enlisted the aid of numerous members of Congress and anti-gambling groups to crush the Jena effort because it could draw away casino business from his clients. Just as it appeared the department would grant the Jena's land claim anyway, Griles turned up with a binder full of congressional letters opposing the deal -- a binder prepared by Abramoff -- and pressed it on department officials.


Griles was criticized in a 2004 report from Earl E. Devaney, Interior's inspector general. Devaney found that Griles had used his official position in dealings with clients of his former firm even as he continued to receive payments from the firm amounting to more than $1 million.

Devaney's report did not draw conclusions about whether Griles broke laws or ethics rules, in part due to guidance from the Office of Government Ethics, which said that, with two possible exceptions, Griles did not violate ethics rules.

During the investigation, Norton's deputy chief of staff, Sue Ellen Wooldridge, provided ethics advice to Griles and advised Norton on the inspector general's allegations. She also sent a memo to the Office of Government Ethics about the case. Investigators learned after their report was issued that Griles and Wooldridge had been dating since February 2003, people familiar with the investigation said.

Wooldridge eventually became assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources. She resigned in January.

Devaney, in testimony last fall before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said his Griles probe faced what he called an "assault" from Norton and the Office of Government Ethics. He testified he was astonished at the ethics office's response and that Norton took no disciplinary action against Griles, declaring him "cleared."

What is interesting about this story here is that Norton was willing to protect Griles, even as Griles was helping Abramoff in opposing the Jena tribe's casino deal. There is a sense of cronyism taking place within the Norton Interior department, where Griles is helping Abramoff, Norton is protecting Griles, and both Griles and Norton are connected to Abramoff through Federici. The corruption here is either permitted, or overlooked, between these individuals because of their past personal, and political, relationships with each other.

Two big stories on attorney purge

The attorney purge scandal has just gotten bigger. Two big stories came out on McClatcy. Let's start with the first story, titled Documents highlight Gonzales' role in the firings:

WASHINGTON - Internal Bush administration e-mails suggest that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales may have played a bigger role than he has acknowledged in the plan to fire several U.S. attorneys.

The e-mails, delivered to Congress Friday night, show that Gonzales attended an hourlong meeting on the firings on Nov. 27, 2006 - 10 days before seven U.S. attorneys were told to resign. The attorney general's participation in the session calls into question his assertion that he was essentially in the dark about the firings.

At a news conference last week, Gonzales said that he was aware that his aides were working on a plan to fire several U.S. attorneys but that he left the details to Kyle Sampson, his then-chief of staff, and other aides. Sampson agreed on Friday to testify about his role in the firings at a Senate hearing next week.

"We never had a discussion about where things stood," Gonzales said on March 13. "What I knew was that there was an ongoing effort that was led by Mr. Sampson ... to ascertain where we could make improvements in U.S. attorney performances around the country."

The Nov. 27 meeting in Gonzales' conference room came as Sampson was still trying to decide which federal prosecutors would be asked to step down. His final list targeted seven U.S. attorneys, who were told on Dec. 7 that they were being ousted. Another prosecutor had been asked to step down months earlier.

Alberto Gonzales lied. He was far more involved in the attorney purge than he has claimed to be. He attended an hour-long meeting regarding the firings ten days before they occurred? And he didn't know anything about it until that meeting? If that is so, then Gonzales is incompetent for not knowing what his chief of staff has been doing for that past year on the attorney firings--especially since Sampson was talking to the White House on those firings. What is more, this latest revelation of Gonzales knowing more about the attorney purge also suggests a greater involvement of the Bush White House in this scandal. According to McClatchy:

The latest documents also raise new questions about how involved White House political operatives were in the decision to fire the prosecutors.

In a Dec. 3, 2006, e-mail released Friday night, Scott Jennings, one of presidential adviser Karl Rove's aides, asked Sampson if he had a list of "all vacant, or about-to-be vacant, US Attorney slots." Jennings' request came on a Sunday, so Sampson offered to send it to him the next day.

Jennings, a political operative, had earlier passed along complaints from Republican Party activists about U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, who was fired from his job in New Mexico. Some Republicans were angry that Iglesias hadn't been more aggressive in investigating Democrats.

The e-mails also show that administration officials struggled to find a way to justify the firings and considered citing immigration enforcement simply because three of the fired prosecutors were stationed near the border with Mexico. While the e-mails don't provide evidence of partisan motives for the firings, they seem to undercut the administration's explanation that the prosecutors were dismissed for poor performance.

"The one common link here is that three of them are along the southern border so you could make the connection that DOJ is unhappy with the immigration prosecution numbers in those districts," Tasia Scolinos, a senior public affairs specialist at the Justice Department, told Catherine Martin, a White House communications adviser, in an e-mail.

"Which ones are they?" Martin replied.

Scolinos was clearly unprepared for the furor that resulted from the dismissals.

"I think most of them will resign quietly - they don't get anything out of making it public," she told Martin. "I don't see it as being a national story - especially if it phases in over a few months."

Their e-mail exchange on Nov. 17, 2006, offered little hint of the firestorm that's now fueling talk of Gonzales' resignation and threatens a legal showdown between Congress and the White House.

We have Scott Jennings, an aid to Karl Rove, talking to Kyle Sampson, chief of staff for Alberto Gonzales, where Jennings is asking Sampson to provide a list of all vacant U.S. attorney slots. Jennings requests this list on December 3, 2006--just four days before the seven attorneys were fired on December 7, 2006. There is something strange about this request. Why is a political aid to Karl Rove asking for a list of the vacant U.S. attorney slots? Why does Karl Rove want this list? And an even bigger question to ask here is exactly when did Rove's office know about these attorney firings, considering that they are asking for this list just four days before the actual firings? What concerns me here is that Karl Rove would start selecting Bush political loyalists to fill these attorney slots--just as Rove aid Timothy Griffin was selected as a U.S. attorney for Arkansas.

And there is more. There is the emails showing how the Bush administration officials are struggling to find a way to justify these firings. Just look at what Scolinos tells Martin in the one email regarding using immigration as an excuse for the firings: "The one common link here is that three of them are along the southern border so you could make the connection that DOJ is unhappy with the immigration prosecution numbers in those districts...." The Bush administration didn't have any reason for these attorney firings, so they were trying to make up some reasons along the way. Three attorneys were on the southern border? Let's use immigration as an excuse. Now while McClatchy says that there were no partisan motives for these firings, you still have to ask the question of why did these firings take place when there was no justified reason to fire these attorneys in the first place? Five of these attorneys had positive performance reviews, so poor performance wasn't the reason. This latest email shows that immigration was being used as an excuse. What I find especially ironic here is how Scolinos thought that the attorney purge would no be such a big deal--Scolinos believes that the attorneys would resign quietly, and not complain about it. And since the fired attorneys would not complain publicly about it, then the firings wouldn't become a national story and phase over in a few months. The Bush administration blew it, big time here. This is hubris--pure and simple. The Bush administration thought that they could get away with this firing, and not have it come out as a huge scandal. They were wrong. The attorneys felt that they were wrongly fired, and took their story to the public. The liberal blogs, and the press, started investigating this story. And now we've got a huge scandal, with the Bush White House sitting right in the middle of this mess.

Now let's go to the second McClatchy story, titled New U.S. attorneys seem to have partisan records:

WASHINGTON - Under President Bush, the Justice Department has backed laws that narrow minority voting rights and pressed U.S. attorneys to investigate voter fraud - policies that critics say have been intended to suppress Democratic votes.

Bush, his deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, and other Republican political advisers have highlighted voting rights issues and what Rove has called the "growing problem" of election fraud by Democrats since Bush took power in the tumultuous election of 2000, a race ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since 2005, McClatchy Newspapers has found, Bush has appointed at least three U.S. attorneys who had worked in the Justice Department's civil rights division when it was rolling back longstanding voting-rights policies aimed at protecting predominantly poor, minority voters.

Another newly installed U.S. attorney, Tim Griffin in Little Rock, Ark., was accused of participating in efforts to suppress Democratic votes in Florida during the 2004 presidential election while he was a research director for the Republican National Committee. He's denied any wrongdoing.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the four U.S. attorneys weren't chosen only because of their backgrounds in election issues, but "we would expect any U.S. attorney to prosecute voting fraud."

Taken together, critics say, the replacement of the U.S. attorneys, the voter-fraud campaign and the changes in Justice Department voting rights policies suggest that the Bush administration may have been using its law enforcement powers for partisan political purposes.

I had to read this story about three times here. The Bush administration was hiring attorneys who could help roll back civil rights and voting registration policies that protected minorities, and poor people, from voting fraud. These minority, and poor, voters were more likely to vote for Democratic candidates. In other words, the Bush administration was using the Justice Department to disenfranchise potential Democratic voters in future elections, thus cementing a Republican lock in future elections. President Bush's top adviser, Karl Rove, was apparently obsessed with a "'growing problem' of election fraud by Democrats." Now I'm not sure how much election fraud is committed by the Democratic Party, as opposed to election fraud committed by the Republican Party. That is a topic for another posting. What is important to understand is that Rove was obsessed with this issue of election fraud. That is a motive for appointing political loyalists into U.S. attorney positions, who can then help benefit both the Bush administration and the Republican Party. And that is what we see here with the McClatchy story:

Last April, while the Justice Department and the White House were planning the firings, Rove gave a speech in Washington to the Republican National Lawyers Association. He ticked off 11 states that he said could be pivotal in the 2008 elections. Bush has appointed new U.S. attorneys in nine of them since 2005: Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico. U.S. attorneys in the latter four were among those fired.

Rove thanked the audience for "all that you are doing in those hot spots around the country to ensure that the integrity of the ballot is protected." He added, "A lot in American politics is up for grabs."

The department's civil rights division, for example, supported a Georgia voter identification law that a court later said discriminated against poor, minority voters. It also declined to oppose an unusual Texas redistricting plan that helped expand the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. That plan was partially reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Frank DiMarino, a former federal prosecutor who served six U.S. attorneys in Florida and Georgia during an 18-year Justice Department career, said that too much emphasis on voter fraud investigations "smacks of trying to use prosecutorial power to investigate and potentially indict political enemies."

Several former voting rights lawyers, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of antagonizing the administration, said the division's political appointees reversed the recommendations of career lawyers in key cases and transferred or drove out most of the unit's veteran attorneys.

Bradley Schlozman, who was the civil rights division's deputy chief, agreed in 2005 to reverse the career staff's recommendations to challenge a Georgia law that would have required voters to pay $20 for photo IDs and in some cases travel as far as 30 miles to obtain the ID card.

A federal judge threw out the Georgia law, calling it an unconstitutional, Jim Crow-era poll tax.

In an interview, Schlozman, who was named interim U.S. attorney in Kansas City in November 2005, said he merely affirmed a subordinate's decision to overturn the career staff's recommendations.

He said it was "absolutely not true" that he drove out career lawyers. "What I tried to do was to depoliticize the hiring process," Schlozman said. "We hired people across the political spectrum."

Former voting rights section chief Joseph Rich, however, said longtime career lawyers whose views differed from those of political appointees were routinely "reassigned or stripped of major responsibilities."

In testimony to a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing this week, Rich said that 20 of the 35 attorneys in the voting rights section have been transferred to other jobs or have left their jobs since April 2005 and a staff of 26 civil rights analysts who reviewed state laws for discrimination has been slashed to 10.

He said he has yet to see evidence of voter fraud on a scale that warrants voter ID laws, which he said are "without exception ... supported and pushed by Republicans and objected to by Democrats. I believe it is clear that this kind of law tends to suppress the vote of lower-income and minority voters."

Other former voting-rights section lawyers said that during the tenure of Alex Acosta, who served as the division chief from the fall of 2003 until he was named interim U.S. attorney in Miami in the summer of 2005, the department didn't file a single suit alleging that local or state laws or election rules diluted the votes of African-Americans. In a similar time period, the Clinton administration filed six such cases.

Those kinds of cases, Rich said, are "the guts of the Voting Rights Act."

There has been a lot of questions regarding the motive of why the Bush administration fired these eight U.S. attorneys. And there have been a number of reasons brought up on this issue--to stifle U.S. attorney Carol Lam's investigation into the Duke Cunningham corruption case, to punish David Iglesias' for not indicting a Democratic legislator before the 2006 elections, or even to appoint Rove aid Griffin into Bud Cummins' position, in Arkansas, in order to dig up dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's past for the 2008 elections. But what is important for this Bush administration is power--the ability to take control of power, to use such power for its own political purposes, and to maintain their power over the long term. If there ever is a prime Bush White House motive for the firing of these eight U.S. attorneys, this is it. Appoint Bush loyalists in the top U.S. attorney positions, who can then use the Justice Department to maintain GOP political power and dominance through stifling Democratic votes in future elections. If President Bush and Karl Rove were able to push this attorney purge through quietly, I seriously wonder how the 2008 presidential elections would have turned out--especially if the replacement attorneys also started concentrating their attention in supposed voter fraud cases that helped benefit the Republican Party?

Friday, March 23, 2007

President Bush is promising a veto on House withdrawal bill

This isn't too surprising. From MSNBC.Com:

WASHINGTON - A sharply divided House voted Friday to order President Bush to bring combat troops home from Iraq next year, but the president reiterated his vow to veto the bill, saying the House had “abdicated its responsibility.”

Bush appeared at the White House alongside veterans and family members of troops to accuse Democrats of staging nothing more than "political theater" that delays the delivery of resources to soldiers fighting in Iraq. If the spending bill is not approved and signed into law by April 15, Bush said troops and their families “will face significant disruptions.”

“A narrow majority in the House of Representatives abdicated its responsibility by passing a war spending bill that has no chance of becoming law and brings us no closer to getting the troops the resources they need to do their job,” the president said.

“These Democrats believe that the longer they can delay funding for our troops, the more likely they are to force me to accept restrictions on our commanders, an artificial timetable for withdrawal and their pet spending projects,” he said. “This is not going to happen.”

The victory for Democrats is part of an epic war-powers struggle, and Congress’ boldest challenge yet to the administration’s policy.

Well isn't this just too much fun! President Bush is blaming the Democratic Congress for denying the troops the funds because the Democrats wanted to add a withdrawal timetable. The president is demanding that the Democratic Congress pass a clean war funding bill that he can sign--otherwise he'll veto whatever war funding bill the Democrats pass. In other words, Bush is demanding that the Democrats in Congress play "rubber-stamp." Here is President Bush's response on YouTube:

Gee Mr. President, there is another option here. You could accept the House withdrawal timetable and get the money to support the troops. But then again, that would require you to compromise here--something that you will refuse to do. So Mr. President, you are S.O.L here.

House backs a withdrawal timetable

This is off The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, March 23 — The House of Representatives voted today, by the narrowest possible margin and after an unusually emotional debate, to set a timetable for bringing American troops home from Iraq.

The bill received 218 votes in favor, the minimum needed for passage in the 435-seat chamber. There were 212 votes opposed. The Democratic leadership held the voting open for two additional minutes past the originally scheduled 15 to lock up the majority. Vote-counters had predicted beforehand that the outcome would be very close.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the legislation, which took the form of an emergency spending bill, “a giant step to end the war and responsibly redeploy our troops out of Iraq” and concentrate on Afghanistan, “where the war on terrorism is.”

A few hours before the vote, Ms. Pelosi summoned Democrats to a closed-door meeting in the Capitol basement, hoping to impress them one more time with the importance of the proposed legislation, the Democrats’ boldest step yet to try to end the war.

“It’s historic,” Ms. Pelosi said in a brief interview, “for our party and our country.”

No, Republicans countered on the House floor. Several said the measure would amount to micromanaging the war, to the detriment of military commanders and front-line troops. “Its prevailing tone is one of defeat,” Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the minority whip, said of the legislation.

The debate was highly emotional, with lawmakers applauding loudly at several points. There were occasional outbursts from the House gallery, which was packed with spectators.


The withdrawal timetable provision, which calls for most American troops to be out of Iraq by Sept. 1, 2008, is part of a bill to provide about $100 billion to finance the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill would also impose a series of performance benchmarks, for Baghdad and for Washington, to show progress in the new Iraq. Withdrawal would be required even sooner if progress on those benchmarks could not be demonstrated.

Passage of the legislation by no means signals that it will emerge from the full Congress, since the Democrats’ majority in the House (there are 233 Democrats, to 201 Republicans) is too small to overcome a veto by President Bush, which the White House says would be certain if it ever reached the President’s desk. Besides, the Senate is about to debate its own Iraq-pullout measure, which differs in substantial ways.

The House has done it--they passed a bill specifying a withdrawal timetable, complete with benchmarks and penalties. Of course, this withdrawal timetable was placed into a $100 billion appropriations bill to finance the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the bill narrowly passed the House. It will certainly never get over President Bush's veto.

The important point about this bill is that it lays even more groundwork in the coming 2008 election debate on Iraq between the Democrats and Republicans. When you look at the polls here, you will find that Americans both oppose the Bush troop surge plan, and they are favoring a Democratic Congress withdrawal timetable. The Republicans, who consistently support the Bush war in Iraq, are going to have to face those American voters in 2008. They are going to have to explain their votes against the non-binding resolutions and withdrawal timetables that have taken place over the past three months. This is where the debate is heading for 2008. And at the moment, the GOP is still goose-stepping to the Bush administration's orders.

Now we'll see what happens to the Senate debate and vote on the withdrawal timetable.

Friday Fun Stuff--Kids, don't try this at home!

I found this off YouTube. Some kid thought it would be fun to toss a can of WD-40 into a fire, and then hit that can with a stick. Gee--what do you think would happen when you hit a burning can of WD-40 with a stick? Let's find out. From YouTube:

I wonder if the kid burned a few brain cells after performing that stunt.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Your Thursday Evening Smackdown--James Inhofe verses Nancy Pelosi

What a week of congressional smackdowns. I found this little smackdown between Rep. James Inhofe (R-OK) verses House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during former Vice President Al Gore's testimony in Congress on global warming. From YouTube:

Pelosi smacks down Inhofe--Elections have consequences!

One final note--the smile on Gore's face as Pelosi smacks down Inhofe is priceless.

Your Thursday Afternoon Smackdown--Arlen Specter verses Pat Leahy

I found this off Talking Points Memo, and it is incredibly wicked. It is a little exchange between Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) regarding the Senate Judiciary Committee's issuing of subpoenas in the attorney scandal. From YouTube:

Leahy smacks down Specter--What we're told we can get is nothing, nothing, nothing!

Senate Judiciary Committee approves White House subpoenas

Now the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the issuing of subpoenas on the Bush White House aids. This is from MSNBC:

WASHINGTON - A Senate panel, following the House's lead, authorized subpoenas Thursday for White House political adviser Karl Rove and other top aides involved in the firing of federal prosecutors.

The Senate Judiciary Committee decided by voice vote to approve the subpoenas as Republicans and Democrats sparred over whether to press a showdown with President Bush over the ousters of eight U.S. attorneys.

Democrats angrily rejected Bush's offer to grant a limited number of lawmakers private interviews with the aides with no transcript and without swearing them in. Republicans counseled restraint, but at least one, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, backed the action.

WASHINGTON - A Senate panel, following the House's lead, authorized subpoenas Thursday for White House political adviser Karl Rove and other top aides involved in the firing of federal prosecutors.

The Senate Judiciary Committee decided by voice vote to approve the subpoenas as Republicans and Democrats sparred over whether to press a showdown with President Bush over the ousters of eight U.S. attorneys.

Democrats angrily rejected Bush's offer to grant a limited number of lawmakers private interviews with the aides with no transcript and without swearing them in. Republicans counseled restraint, but at least one, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, backed the action.

It is not surprising that the Senate approved the issuing of subpoenas against the top Bush aids. Both sides are gearing up for a major fight over this attorney scandal. As I've said in my previous post on the House issuing of subpoenas, the Bush administration was offering a crappy deal to the Democratic Congress in allowing Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to be interviewed behind closed doors, without being sworn in, and with no transcripts. It was the perfect Bush White House situation where both Rove and Miers could continue to get away with lying to the Congress on the attorney purge. The Bush administration thought that this was a fair and reasonable deal. In reality, it was pure crap. We've heard the House's response to this deal, and now we've got the Senate's response.

Ironically, the Bush White House continues to spin that their deal is still fair and reasonable. According to the MSNBC story:

Even as Democrats derided the White House's offer, Bush spokesman Tony Snow maintained that lawmakers will realize it is fair and reasonable once they reflect on it.

"We're not trying to hide things. We're not trying to run from things," he said. "We want them to know what happened."

Democrats, however, called Bush's position untenable.

"What we're told we can get is nothing, nothing, nothing," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the Judiciary chairman. "I know he's the decider for the White House -- he's not the decider for the United States Senate."


The Senate panel voted to approve subpoenas for Rove, former White House counsel Harriet Miers and her former deputy, William Kelley. The House subcommittee Tuesday authorized subpoenas for Rove, Miers and their deputies.

More to come.

Explosion rattles U.N. Secretary General in Baghdad

I guess the U.S. war in Iraq is going very well. This is from MSNBC:

BAGHDAD - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was left shaken but unhurt on Thursday on his first visit to Baghdad after a Katyusha rocket landed just yards from a building where he was giving a news conference.

Moments after telling journalists he might boost the United Nations’ presence in Iraq because of improved security, a thunderous blast sent shock waves through the conference venue, startling Ban and sending him ducking for cover behind a podium.

Security guards grabbed hold of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki who was standing next to Ban at the time and was dusted by small bits of debris that fell from the ceiling.

Without commenting on the explosion, which sent a large column of smoke into the air, Ban recovered his composure and took one further question before leaving the conference room.

Interior Minister Jawad Bolani played down the incident afterwards, telling Reuters: “This was not a security breach. Things like this happen in Baghdad once or twice a week.”

A Reuters reporter at the scene said the rocket landed on a small building about 50 yards from the news conference site, a guesthouse in the prime minister’s compound. The Interior Ministry said it landed in a field outside the compound.

Earlier, Ban praised Maliki’s “strong leadership” and said: ”As we see the improved situation on the ground, I am considering to increase the presence of the United Nations.”

So Ban praised Maliki's strong leadership and the improved situation with the ground war in Iraq--and then BOOM! The timing of Ban's statement and the explosion is just perfect--should Ban...maybe...revise his statement here?

MSNBC has the video of Ban's speech during the explosion.

Update: The video is now up on YouTube:

You can also find a YouTube video here of a BBC TV station's breaking news, but the quality isn't as good.

DeLay can't seem to remember--or even read--what he wrote in his own book

This story is just coming out all over the blogosphere--we're talking Ryeland on DKos, Kos, Crooks and Liars, Carpetbagger Report, and Shakespeare's Sister. Yes, we're looking at another incredible episode of The Tom DeLay Comedy Hour!

It appears that our hero, The Bug Exterminator himself, Tom DeLay, had decided to appear on Chris Matthews Hardball to promote his new book, No Retreat, No Surrender. In that lovely conversation with Matthews, a small detail comes up about how DeLay wrote that former GOP representative Dick Armey was "drunk with ambition." DeLay corrects Matthews in saying Armey was blinded by ambition. So let's go to YouTube to witness this political tit-for-tat:

I just have to laugh at how The Bug Exterminator himself, got caught not even knowing what he wrote in his own book. And when Chris Matthews even showed DeLay the passage written in the pages of his own book, DeLay couldn't read it because he didn't have his glasses with him. Is there a difference between the two cliches "drunk with ambition," and "blinded by ambition?" I don't know, and I really don't care. But this whole farce of DeLay still claiming that he wrote, or meant, that Armey was "blinded by ambition," rather than was printed on the very pages of his own book really shows a sense of hypocrisy in DeLay--he still refuses to admit when he is wrong about anything! Even to something as simple as a cliche in his own book--a really bad cliche at that! And when Matthews shows the actual passage in his book, DeLay claims he still can't read the passage, and admit the mistake, because he doesn't have his glasses with him.


You can read the entire transcript of the show here. MSNBC has the entire video of the show here.

Elizabeth Edwards cancer has returned

Democratic Presidential hopeful John Edwards talks about his wife Elizabeth's recurrence of cancer as she listens during a news conference in Chapel Hill, N.C., Thursday, March 22, 2007. Edwards will continue his campaign for the presidency. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

This is all over the news here--ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, and The Washington Post:

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) today announced he would stay in the 2008 presidential race today even though his wife Elizabeth's breast cancer has recurred and will require further treatment.

"The campaign goes on," he said.

The couple made the announcement at a joint press conference that was hastily arranged after they visited Elizabeth Edwards' doctor yesterday for a follow-up exam.

Speaking from his home state of North Carolina, Edwards said he would not put his presidential aspirations on hold while his wife undergoes treatment for the disease.

Medical tests yesterday confirmed that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer had returned, the couple announced.

"The biopsy showed the cancer had returned and it was malignant," John Edwards said. "We are very optimistic about this."

The cancer, he said, is "treatable."

The appearance in Chapel Hill came on the heels of a last-minute decision by Edwards this week to cancel an event in Iowa to accompany his wife to a doctor's appointment yesterday. Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of her husband's unsuccessful 2004 campaign as the Democratic vice presidential nominee. She subsequently underwent extensive treatment.

A couple of things here. First, I would certainly hope for the best for Elizabeth Edwards in her cancer treatment. It is certainly not good when a cancer you thought you had treated, suddenly returns.

Now the Edwards campaign. This is a big shock for the Edwards campaign--especially after John Edwards canceled the political campaign event in Iowa to be with his wife. There were some rumors and speculation that Edwards was suspending the campaign. At the press conference, Edwards said, "The campaign goes on." According to The Polling Report, Edwards is running in third place behind Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But we're still ten months away from the Iowa caucus. The re-emergence of Elizabeth Edwards cancer is a serious cloud over the Edwards campaign. She may be healthy and fine at this moment, as the doctors perform a new series of tests and treatment for her. But who is to say when or where the cancer will spread within her? Who is to say what the situation will be like for Elizabeth Edwards on this same day next year? That's the problem.

But it is a problem that the Edwards campaign will have to face if, or when, it occurs. I would have to guess that John Edwards seriously considered suspending his presidential campaign, considering the Politico story. And that it may have been at Elizabeth's insistence that John Edwards continue the campaign. I can't really say yet. This is a strong couple. They have made their decision together. And the Edwards campaign shall continue on.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The crying girl on American Idol

I do not watch the Fox TV show American Idol. I will admit that. But I do recognize that American Idol has become something of an over-hyped, slicked-up version of The Gong Show. It is a TV version of a talent show--the only difference here is that the Fox executives took out the gong for American Idol.

They probably should have added the gong for American Idol.

Anyway, there is a huge scandal exploding on American Idol regarding yesterday's British Invasion Night. One of the American Idol performers, Sanjaya Malakar, sang the British tune You Really Got Me, written by Ron Davies and originally performed by The Kinks. This is Sanjaya Malakar's version of You Really Got Me, performed on American Idol:

I know you're asking the big question here--who's the girl crying as Sanjaya is singing? Well, The Los Angeles Times has your answer:

First things first: Who was the crying girl? After the show, I chatted with Idol’s newest superstar, the crying girl, Ashley Ferl, aged 13, from Riverside. For some long minutes after the show, Ashley remained in a state of inconsolable sobbing, unable to choke out a single word. However, through an interpreter (her mother) we were eventually able to learn some facts about the young superstar.

The family, I was told, obtained tickets on a website to attend a taping of “Smarter Than a 5th Grader” a day passage that included not just the taping of the show itself, but also the dress rehearsal of either “Grader” or “Idol.” The fates were kind, and the mother and daughter found their way to the “Idol” rehearsal, where Ashley’s waterworks began. Her prowess was quickly brought to the attention of “Idol” producers who summoned the clan to a ringside seat of honor at the final taping.

Her powers of speech slowly returning, Ashley revealed that while she was on stage she had been thinking that “this was the coolest thing ever.” Asked whom she was supporting in the competition she named “Sanjaya, Melinda, Gina and Jordin” as her picks, refusing to narrow her vote down to a single choice. All my journalistic powers of persuasion, cajoling, bullying and insistence that on her vote might turn the entire competition, that “Listen to reason, young Ferl, there can’t be four American Idols,” would not convince her to name a single favorite. To my every argument, she would only repeat her mantra, “All Four: Sanjaya, Melinda, Gina and Jordin.” And so the race begins in earnest, with tears at every step of the way.

So if I'm getting this straight, 13-year-old Ashley Ferl and her family gets tickets to attend the taping of the game show "Smarter Than a 5th Grader." In addition to the tickets, Ashley also gets to attend a dress rehearsal of American Idol, for which she is so excitedly happy, that she turns on the waterworks. I have no criticism against Ashley Ferl--it is obvious that she is an American Idol fan. And by a lucky coincidence, she was able to see a rehearsal of one of her favorite shows. What I am amazed at is how quickly the Idol producers took an interest in her by providing the ringside seats for Ashley and her family, thus ensuring that little Ashley Ferl would be the perfect hyped-up, little teenage girl to scream and cry over these latest "British Invasion" pop stars--I mean we're talking a perfectly staged TV drama here!

And it is one of the problems that American Idol has--scandals after scandals after scandals. Just about every season the show has been on, there have been scandals associated with the series. Consider this list:

American Idol has come under fire for maintaining what some claim to be total control of the careers of the winners of the contest. Former co-host Brian Dunkleman referred to the show as "owning" the winning contestants, noting that winners sign contracts to only record with companies owned by the show's producers and to allow related agencies to manage their careers.

Former contestant Corey Clark told reporters in April 2005 that he and Idol judge Paula Abdul had a "secret affair" prompting an investigation by external counsel hired by Fox, FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment. The 600-hour investigation spanning three months cleared Abdul of all charges levied by Clark.

During season three, controversy arose at the poor showing during the semi-finals of three highly praised African-American contestants, Jennifer Hudson, LaToya London and Fantasia Barrino - collectively known during that season as the 'Three Divas'. After the surprise elimination of Hudson, Sir Elton John, who was a guest judge for that season criticized the vote as 'incredibly racist' in a press conference. The elimination of both Hudson and London relatively early in the competition has been pointed out as a classic demonstration of vote-splitting in the American idol vote. Barrino would eventually go on to win the competition.

Since the 2004 season, American Idol producers have battled online community services such as the weblogs,, and DialIdol predicts the winner of each week's contest based on how often an automatic dialer encounters a busy signal for each contestant; Worldsentiment uses very large samplings and algorithms to predict the outcome of the vote-off; and VotefortheWorst exhorts viewers to vote for what the site deems to be the worst contestant, rather than the best. Some in the media have implied that Las Vegas odds makers exert behind-the-scenes influence in protecting the services.

A series of provocative photos surfaced on the Internet of Season 6 Top 24 Contestant Antonella Barba.

And there are even more controversies and scandals that can be found here in a separate Wikipedia entry just on the American Idol controversies--everything from voting problems, to contestants having criminal records, to even a contestant having an affair with judge Paula Abdul.

What is even more crazy is that the show continues to attract viewers. The premier episode of Season Six attracted 37.3 million viewers--which was up over last year's 35.5 million viewers. And this is with all the controversies American Idol has generated. It is just incredible.

I think I would stick with The Gong Show:


George Orwell's spinning in his grave--Is Big Brother really Hillary or Obama?

What is it with the Democrats, and the Apple Macintosh Computer "1984" commercial? First a parody of the "1984" commercial, showing Hillary Clinton as Big Brother (or is that Big Mother?), was uploaded on YouTube on around March 5, 2006. It certainly created a stir within the blogosphere, as everyone wondered who created this ad? Was it the work of the Obama campaign staff--the Obama campaign said no.

Well, The Mystery Has Been Solved! The Huffington Post reports that the Hillary Clinton "1984" ad was created by Philip de Vellis, who was the Internet communications director for Sherrod Brown's 2006 Senate campaign, and who worked at Blue State Digital which provides internet consulting and communications to progressive Democratic candidates and institutions. De Vellis wrote an email to TechPresident.Com explaining his reasoning for creating this commercial:

The idea was simple and so was the execution. Make a bold statement about the Democratic primary race by culture jacking a famous commercial and replacing as few images as possible. For some people it doesn't register, but for people familiar with the ad and the race it has obviously struck a chord.

A friend suggested the idea after reading a New York Times article about the Clinton's campaign bullying of donors and political operatives after the Geffen dustup.

When The Huffington Post found out that De Vellis was the creator of the ad, they offered De Vellis to write a post on the issue:

Hi. I'm Phil. I did it. And I'm proud of it.

I made the "Vote Different" ad because I wanted to express my feelings about the Democratic primary, and because I wanted to show that an individual citizen can affect the process. There are thousands of other people who could have made this ad, and I guarantee that more ads like it--by people of all political persuasions--will follow.

This shows that the future of American politics rests in the hands of ordinary citizens.

The campaigns had no idea who made it--not the Obama campaign, not the Clinton campaign, nor any other campaign. I made the ad on a Sunday afternoon in my apartment using my personal equipment (a Mac and some software), uploaded it to YouTube, and sent links around to blogs.

The specific point of the ad was that Obama represents a new kind of politics, and that Senator Clinton's "conversation" is disingenuous. And the underlying point was that the old political machine no longer holds all the power.

Let me be clear: I am a proud Democrat, and I always have been. I support Senator Obama. I hope he wins the primary. (I recognize that this ad is not his style of politics.) I also believe that Senator Clinton is a great public servant, and if she should win the nomination, I would support her and wish her all the best.

I've resigned from my employer, Blue State Digital, an internet company that provides technology to several presidential campaigns, including Richardson's, Vilsack's, and -- full disclosure -- Obama's. The company had no idea that I'd created the ad, and neither did any of our clients. But I've decided to resign anyway so as not to harm them, even by implication.

This ad was not the first citizen ad, and it will not be the last. The game has changed.

The mystery has been solved. It was De Vellis who created the Hillary 1984 ad:

But wait--the game has certainly changed. For now we have a Barack Obama "1984" ad, asking Americans to vote for Hillary! Check it out on YouTube:

I wonder which other presidential candidates will be added to these Apple Macintosh 1984 commercial parodies?