Saturday, June 30, 2007

Thompson's non-presidential campaign showing signs of sputter in New Hampshire

I found this McClatchy story through Talking Points Memo. From McClatchy News:

BEDFORD, N.H. — When Fred Thompson made his debut on the presidential stage here this week, he left some Republicans thinking he needs more work before his nascent campaign matches the media hype it's gotten in advance.

The former Tennessee senator with the baritone drawl showed up Thursday in New Hampshire, the site of the first primary voting, and gave a speech that lasted only nine minutes, skipping over hot-button issues such as Iraq and immigration to invoke platitudes about freedom and strength.

He left more than a few Republicans disappointed.

The star of the TV series "Law and Order" had won cheers the day before in South Carolina, another early-primary state, in his first trip there since he'd signaled that he'll soon jump into the race for the Republican presidential nomination. But South Carolina and Tennessee are neighbors, while New Hampshire tests whether Thompson's got more than regional appeal. So far, the answer's quite unclear.

``I plan on seeing a whole lot more of you,'' Thompson told about 200 New Hampshire Republicans who paid $50 each to hear him — and to benefit state Republican legislators.

He'd better, because many present came away decidedly under-whelmed.

``It was short,'' said Richard Heitmiller of Nashua. ``He's got a nice voice. But there was nothing there. He's for apple pie and motherhood. He's going to have to say what he's for.''

Heitmiller said he hadn't made up his mind about whom to support — way too early — and had come to learn more about this man he'd heard about but never seen.

``People want to get to know him. He hasn't been here, and he gives a nine-minute speech,'' he said dismissively. As Thompson exited, people started making their way to the doors midway through a reception.

``I told my wife we'd get home by 8. We'll get home a lot earlier than that,'' Heitmiller said.

``He looks good onstage, but I don't know if he has the gravitas,'' said Kathleen Williamson, a conservative Roman Catholic from North Weare. ``It seems like he's trying to win over conservatives, but I'm still not sure he has the credentials. I'm worried he's trying to get by on his celebrity.''

This is going to be a growing problem for the Thompson non-campaign. At the moment, Republican and conservative voters are not thrilled with the current crop of GOP presidential candidates. When you look at the Republican presidential polls, the electorate is pretty much split with Rudy Giuliani taking 30 percent of the vote, John McCain taking around 20 percent, and Fred Thompson taking between 15-20 percent of the vote, while the rest of the vote is split among the rest of the candidates or the unsure. The Republican base is still looking for a GOP candidate, and much of the excitement surrounding Thompson has come from the media image of Thompson playing the "White Knight" in saving the Republican Party, and the conservative agenda, from the disaster of the Bush administration. And Thompson has been politically milking that "White Knight" image in making quasi-campaign appearances in New Hampshire, while at the same time playing coy with the media rumors and speculation as to whether Thompson will enter the 2008 presidential race. And so far, Thompson has done a pretty good job at manipulating the speculation, and keeping his name in the media coverage of the election.

The problem here is that you can only go so far in playing this dark-horse political game. Republican voters like Thompson because he doesn't have the negative political baggage that the rest of the GOP candidates have--McCain is too pandering, Giuliani is pro-life, Romney is a Mormon. The mainstream media loves Thompson because of the rampant speculation of scooping the story of if or when Thompson will announce his candidacy. The longer Thompson plays this dark-horse political game, the more the questions are going to shift as to what specifically Thompson's political views are on the current issues, and what policy programs will a Thompson administration introduce to America? Look again at what the New Hampshire residents said regarding Thompson's speech--It was short. He's got a nice voice. But there was nothing there. He's for apple pie and motherhood. He's going to have to say what he's for. People want to get to know him. He hasn't been here, and he gives a nine-minute speech. He looks good onstage, but I don't know if he has the gravitas. It seems like he's trying to win over conservatives, but I'm still not sure he has the credentials. I'm worried he's trying to get by on his celebrity. Looking at this McClatchy story, it appears that the Thompson speech in New Hampshire had no meat to it. Thompson provided no opinions as to where he stood on the issues, nor is he willing to provide his qualifications and experience to the New Hampshire voters for his presidential run. Thompson can only go so far in presenting fluffy campaign speeches--especially when he is charging $50 a person to attend those speeches. New Hampshire voters are going to want to know why they should vote for Fred Thompson, when Fred Thompson has not given them any reasons to vote for him--other than he is not one of the established candidates. Otherwise those same New Hampshire conservative voters are going to start ignoring Thompson because he has no gravitas.

I figure Thompson has another week, or two, that he can spend, presenting fluffy, saccharine-styled speeches to the voters. After that, Thompson is either going to have to announce his candidacy, or start presenting strong opinions and policy recommendations on the issues if Thompson wants to continue being a top-tier candidate. And next week is the Fourth of July week, presenting Thompson a great political opportunity to announce his "White Knight" presidential candidacy to save the conservative movement and bring back Morning in America.

Saturday Morning Cartoons--Bunker Hill Bunny

In celebration for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, it is only right to include a Fourth-of-July themed cartoon. And I've got a great one here--Bunker Hill Bunny! It is the Revolutionary War, and we're in the thick of the "Battle of Bagle Heights." Our patriotic hero, Minuteman Bugs Bunny, must defend his small wooden fort against the Hessian enemy Sam von Schmamm (Yosemite Sam) in his giant stone fortress. I'm sure you can guess the usual hijinks which occur as Bugs outsmarts Sam in every attempt to get that "ornery, fur-bearing rebel!" I certainly remember this cartoon being constantly aired during the various Bugs Bunny Shows that played on ABC during Saturday mornings.

So to start celebrating the Fourth of July, here is Bunker Hill Bunny. From YouTube:

Friday, June 29, 2007

Romney's "dog story" is picked up by the Associated Press

I first posted this story on June 27, 2007, after finding it on Shakespeare's Sister, and the Boston Globe. You know the story--Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was going on a 12-hour family trip from Boston to Ontario in 1983. Romney placed the family dog, Seamus, in a dog carrier which was attached to the station wagon's roof rack. Romney then fashioned a windshield at the front of the carrier. Now this dog story was published by the Globe to show the trait of an emotion-free crisis management that Romney has used in his political and business career. Well, the story got picked up by the blogosphere, Time Magazine, and now the Associated Press through The New York Times:

BOSTON (AP) -- An example of Mitt Romney's crisis management skills has turned into something of a political problem for the Republican presidential contender.

Romney placed his family dog, an Irish setter named Seamus, into a kennel lashed to the top of his station wagon for a 12-hour family trip from Boston to Ontario in 1983. Despite being shielded by a wind screen the former Massachusetts governor erected, Seamus expressed his discomfort with a diarrhea attack.

Now the story, recounted this week in a Boston Globe profile of Romney, has touched off howls of outrage from bloggers and animal rights activists even though it was presented in the story as an example of Romney's coolness under trying circumstances.

When Romney's eldest son, Tagg, and his four brothers complained about the brown runoff down the back windshield, their father quietly pulled the car over, borrowed a gas station hose and sprayed down both the dog and the kennel before returning to the road.

''Massachusetts animal cruelty laws specifically prohibit anyone from carrying an animal `in or upon a vehicle, or otherwise, in an unnecessarily cruel or inhuman manner or in a way and manner which might endanger the animal carried thereon,''' wrote Steve Benen in a post on the blog ''Crooks and Liars.''

Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told Time magazine's ''Swampland'' blog: ''If you wouldn't strap your child to the roof of your car, you have no business doing that to the family dog!''

Romney dismissed any outcry about the 24-year-old incident, saying the dog enjoyed his rooftop perch.

''He scrambled up there every time we went on trips,'' Romney said at a campaign stop in Pittsburgh Thursday. ''He got it all by himself and enjoyed it.''

Talk about getting doggy-doo on your face here. This just might haunt the Romney campaign here.

First, I understand that this incident took place 24-years ago, and that Mitt Romney probably didn't have any common sense when he embarked on this Clark Griswoldesque "Vacation." But what really angers me here is Romney's response to the incident--He scrambled up there every time we went on trips. He got it all by himself and enjoyed it. Romney doesn't admit that putting the dog in a cage, and strapping the cage up on the station wagon was a mistake, nor does he apologize for his actions here. In fact, he dismisses the story a joke--the dog loved it! Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! What is even worst is that the Boston Globe used the dog story as a positive highlight to Romney's crisis management skills, even though it was Romney who created the entire crisis himself when he stuck the dog up on the roof in the first place. And the Romney campaign had no objections to the Globe's printing that particular story. This was a stupid mistake--we all make our own share of stupid mistakes. But what is especially cold here is that Mitt Romney refuses to admit that he made a stupid mistake here with the dog. And if Romney refuses to admit that he made a stupid mistake here, how many other, more serious, mistakes will he refuse to admit to if he becomes president--especially if those mistakes will cost American lives?

On a final note, I propose that the Romney campaign adopt "Holiday Road" as their official song. From YouTube:

Friday Fun Stuff--My Little Apocalypse Pony

This is just wicked. I saw this on Robot Chicken last night, and I'll admit it is one of the funniest and sarcastic skits I've seen from them. One of the reasons I love this skit is that my five-year-old niece collects the My Little Pony toys. I'll admit that they are fun, and she loves them, but even I will admit that Hasbro is milking this entire toy line. I so want acquire the Apocalypse Ponies for my own collection.

So here is Robot Chicken's My Little Apocalypse Pony. From YouTube:

U.K. police thwart car bomb threat

This is off MSNBC News:

LONDON - Police in London’s bustling nightclub and theater district on Friday defused a bomb that could have killed hundreds, after an ambulance crew spotted smoke coming from a Mercedes filled with a lethal mix of gasoline, propane and nails, authorities said.

The bomb near Piccadilly Circus was powerful enough to have caused “significant injury or loss of life” — possibly killing hundreds, British anti-terror police chief Peter Clarke said.

Authorities believe the bombers had intended to set the bomb off remotely, by cell phone, Sky News television reported, citing sources.

Britain’s new home secretary, Jacqui Smith, called an emergency meeting of top officials and later called the attempted attack “international terrorism.”

Hours later, police closed a major road, Park Lane, on the edge of Hyde Park after reports of a suspicious vehicle.

Sky News reported that the second vehicle was connected to the car bomb found earlier. But, prior to the television report, a police spokesperson said there was nothing to immediately suggest it was linked to the earlier incident.

All I can say here is that this is what a real terrorist threat is suppose to look like, unlike the multiple Department of Homeland Security's fantasy terrorist threats we've been exposed to by the Bush administration. The U.K. police did their job here.

Shall we take a trip and see all the fantasy terror warnings that were issued by the Bush administration? Here's a little two part reminder by Keith Olbermann:

The Nexus of Politics and Terror, Part One;

The Nexus of Politics and Terror, Part Two;

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Oh Well: A Commentary is rated NC-17!

I usually don't post the various internet tests that I find on other blogs, but this one was a surprise for me. I found this latest internet test which provides a film rating on your blog, through Blue Girl in a Red State. So why not try it and see what Oh Well: A Commentary would get? I received an NC-17 movie rating for my blog! Apparently this NC-17 rating was "determined based on the presence of the following words: dead (8x), pissed (4x), bitch (3x), ass (2x), and suck (1x). I didn't know I have such a foul mouth here, especially considering how I avoid using the seven dirty words you can't say on television. Now I can understand the word dead being recorded in this rating. I did a Technorati search on how many times I've used the word "dead" in my blog, and Technorati reports 9 instances of my using the word dead--I would imagine there are a lot more uses, considering all the posts I've written about dead young American soldiers coming home from Iraq, and the George W. Bush Administration's continued failure of the Iraq war. And even though Technorati does not show any results for my using the word "pissed," I know I've used that word a number of times in my posting to express anger. But I certainly don't remember using the words "bitch," "ass," and "suck," and Technorati didn't show any results for those words. Time to go to another search engine--Google! A Google search shows that I have 791 instances of using the word "bitch," 519 instances of using the word "ass," and only 6 instances of using the word "suck." And if you're curious, the Google search reported 849 instances of using the word "dead," and 795 instances of using the word "pissed." I guess I am a regular potty-mouth here!

So I shall place this honored NC-17 rating on my blog:

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Maybe I should start using the seven dirty words as well?

Americans don't know when the 9/11 attacks took place

I found this video through MoxieGrrrl, and I'm just amazed by it. I don't know whether the American people are that stupid, ignorant...or...what? According to the comments in MoxiGrrrl, this informal survey was done for an Australian satire television program Chaser's War on Everything. The video can also be found here on YouTube:

Fox News poll--which is the better political party for fighting against Muslim terrorists?

I found this Fox News poll through Talking Points Memo, and TPM Cafe. It is just incredible. So let's go to the Fox News poll:

If there is an all-out war between the United States and various radical Muslim groups worldwide, who would you rather have in charge -- Democrats or Republicans?

Democrats...........41 percent
Republicans.........38 percent
Both the Same........9 percent
Don't Know..........12 percent

Here is a screen capture of this poll question, showing a breakdown on the details of this question;

According to the Fox News poll, the sample size was 900 registered voters nationwide, with a sampling error of plus-minus three percent. Because of the three percent sampling error, the result is essentially a tie between the Democrats and Republicans on fighting against Muslim terrorism. Eric Kleefeld at TPM Cafe perfectly sums up this Fox News poll result in his own posting:

The question of which party the people would trust more to lead World War III against a global coalition of Islamofascists should have been a gimme for the Republicans. But they couldn't even manage to get a plurality. Pathetic.

Daily Headliners--Supreme Court, Bush rejects subpoenas, Immigration reform bill dead, Fred Thompson campaigning, Grand Obstructionist Party,

It appears that today is a busy news day with a number of big stories coming out. Let's start the Daily Headliners:

Court Limits Use of Race to Achieve Diversity in Schools: This WaPost story reports that the Supreme Court "threw out school desegregation plans from Seattle and Louisville, but without a majority holding that race can never be considered as school districts try to ensure racially diverse populations." Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion, saying that the desegregation plans, "which categorize students on the basis of race and use that in making school assignments, violate the constitution's promise of equal protection, even if the goal is integration of the schools." According to Roberts;

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," Roberts wrote.

Talk about an inside-out, illogical train of thought here. In order to stop the discrimination of race in schools, the school districts cannot implement desegregation plans to reduce racial discrimination because because such desegregation plans discriminate on the basis of race. The Roberts Court pretty much shot down Brown verses the Board of Education here.

In a sense, I'm not surprised by this decision. President Bush was given the incredible opportunity of replacing a moderate conservative Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Conner, with a hard-lined conservative ideologue, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. you are going to see even more of these types of decisions. What is scary here is that this latest Supreme Court decision again shows that Court's make-up will be a central issue in the 2008 elections. If a Republican president is elected in 2008, you can expect that Republican president to be able to select at least two Supreme Court justices over two presidential terms. And that Republican president--be it John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, or even Fred Thompson--will be pressured by the hard-lined Religious Right to select hard-lined ideologues to the Court.

Bush Won't Supply Subpoenaed Documents: Another Washington Post story that I'm not really surprised about. According to the Washington Post;

The White House said today it would not comply with congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony relating to the firings of federal prosecutors last year, setting up a potential constitutional confrontation over its claim of executive privilege.

In a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees, President Bush's counsel, Fred F. Fielding, said the White House refuses to turn over documents that were subpoenaed by the two committees on June 13. The deadline for handing over most of them was today.

"I write at the direction of the President to advise and inform you that the President has decided to assert executive privilege and therefore the White House will not be making any production in response to these subpoenas for documents," Fielding wrote in the letter to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Now this response was for the subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary Committee for documents relating to the U.S. attorney scandal, and testimony of President Bush's former counsel Harriet Miers, and Sara M. Taylor, who was the former deputy assistant to President Bush and is currently the White House director of political affairs. The Bush White House is allowing current and former officials "to speak to the committee only under strict limitations. Specifically, Bush has insisted that the officials not be compelled to testify under oath, that their testimony not be recorded or transcribed and they speak to a limited number of lawmakers in private."

President Bush is forcing another political confrontation against the congressional Democrats. And just as the Bush White House has rejected the subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary Committee, it is also only a matter of time before they reject the subpoenas issued by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the warrantless spying program. I would say that there is a sense of defiant hubris within the Bush White House. The Bush administration was able to stare down the Democratic Congress on the Iraq troop funding bill and withdrawal timetables. And it is not just the troop funding bill here. President Bush vetoed another stem cell bill on June 20, 2007--despite a bipartisan appeal to the bill and an overwhelming American public that supported the measure. There is this sense of hubris within the Bush White House, where President Bush is going to do whatever he damn well wants to do, and Congress and the American people can go to Hell if they don't like it.

This is a dangerous situation here. Not only is this Bush White House being besieged with problems and scandals of their own creation, but it also shows just how out-of-touch with reality, and volatile this administration has become. This administration has been caught trying to politicize the U.S. Attorney's office, and then lying about the firings to both Congress and the American people. Now that Congress is trying to investigate into the administration's role in the scandal, the Bush White House has embarked on their own confrontational stance of rejecting the congressional subpoenas, stonewalling the investigation, and still lying about the White House roll in the attorney firings. I will say that this latest White House rejection of the subpoenas is an attempt to run out the clock on President Bush's term before Congress can fully realize the extent of this administration's wrongdoings. And here I wonder if President Bush does have an advantage in this attorney scandal. There is no doubt that the Bush administration will use the courts in avoiding to comply with handing over the documents and having Bush officials testify before Congress. This constitutional challenge will end up in the Supreme Court. The big question here is how will the Roberts Court decide on this constitutional question--specifically with Chief Justice John Roberts, and associate justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas? Will they base their decision on the rule of law, or their political ideology and possibly their allegiance to the Bush administration--especially Roberts and Scalia. I can't answer that question.

Senate Blocks Effort to Revive Immigration Overhaul: There is really not much to say on this, except that the Bush administration's desire for an immigration reform bill is completely dead. President Bush was hoping for an immigration reform bill to prop up his own failing legacy, and tout some type of second-term success. Immigration reform will not happen--at least not on George Bush's watch. From The New York Times;

WASHINGTON, June 28 —The Senate voted today to effectively block efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, meaning that the issue is most likely dead until after the 2008 elections.

Needing 60 votes to bring debate on the contentious bill to an end — a step called cloture — and move it toward passage, proponents of the bill could only muster 46 votes in favor today, with 53 opposed.

In the debate leading up to the vote, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said, “If we do not invoke cloture, the bill is dead.”

Today’s vote reverses the Senate’s action on Tuesday, when, with a lot of encouragement from President Bush, the Senate voted, 64-35, to keep working on the bill, which would establish a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants now in the country.

MSNBC News has President Bush's response to the Senate vote;

Responding to a stinging political setback, President Bush sounded resigned to defeat.

"Legal immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people, and Congress' failure to act on it is a disappointment," Bush said after an appearance in Newport, R.I. "The American people understand the status quo is unacceptable when it comes to our immigration laws. A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn't find common ground. It didn't work."

Here is President Bush's remarks on the immigration bill on YouTube;

Day of Campaigning for a G.O.P. Noncandidate: This is a small New York Times story reporting how former Senator Fred Thompson is campaigning in South Carolina as a non-candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. On June 26, 2007, Thompson was in Nashville, Tennessee, campaigning as a non-candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. Fred Thompson is playing the "White Knight" for a GOP electorate that is disgusted with the current crop of Republican candidates. Thompson will hold off announcing his candidacy for as long as possible, as he continues to campaign as a non-candidate, and raise money for his campaign. I'm still guessing that Thompson will announce his candidacy sometime during the Fourth of July week. It is a perfect week to play up the GOP "White Knight" theme to save the Republicans from the disaster of the Bush administration. But even if Thompson doesn't announce his candidacy during the Fourth of July week, it is only a matter of time. Fred Thompson is in the presidential race.

Grand Obstructionist Party: The Carpetbagger Report has an interesting post showing how the Republican Party has obstructed congressional legislation while at the same time labeled the Democrats as "obstructionists." According to Carpetbagger;

I knew it was bad; I didn’t know it was this bad.

* Senate Republicans have obstructed almost every bill in the Senate — even ones with wide bipartisan support.

* So far, in the first half of the first session of the 110th Congress, there have been THIRTEEN cloture votes on motions to proceed — each one wasting days of Senate time. (110th Congress, Roll Call Votes #44, 51, 53, 74, 129, 132, 133, 162, 173, 207, 208, 227, and 228)

* In comparison, in the first sessions of the 108th and 109th Congresses combined, there were a total of FOUR cloture votes on motions to proceed.

For literally years, Republicans, with a 55-seat majority, cried like young children if Dems even considered a procedural hurdle. They said voters would punish obstructionists. They said it was borderline unconstitutional. They said to stand in the way of majority rule was to undermine a basic principle of our democratic system.

And wouldn’t you know it; the shameless hypocrites didn’t mean a word of it.

Why hasn’t the Democratic Congress had greater success passing legislation in its first six months? Because 239 separate pieces of legislation have passed the House, only to find Senate Republicans “objecting to just about every major piece of legislation” that Harry Reid has tried to bring to the floor.

It’s not only shameless, it’s cynical. Republicans expect to get away with this nonsense because they assume most Americans don’t even know what a filibuster is. They figure, the more they obstruct, the worse Congress looks — and with a Democratic majority, that means the GOP will blame Dems for the Republicans’ delay tactics.

Indeed, it’s quite a vicious cycle. Dems bring up a bill … Republicans block the bill … Dems tell voters to be patient … Republicans blame Dems for failing to deliver on their policy agenda. And if Americans aren’t paying attention, they fall for the con.


The GOP is awful at governing, but they’re great at whining.

The GOP is awful at governing, but they're great at whining. Can't say it any better than that.

Bush sending top NSC aid to quell GOP revolt on Iraq

I found this story on Yahoo News. I'm posting the entire story here:

WASHINGTON - President Bush is sending his top aide on national security affairs to Capitol Hill on Thursday to confront what has become a tough crowd on the Iraq war.

A majority of senators believe troops should start coming home within the next few months. A new House investigation concluded this week that the Iraqis have little control over an ailing security force. And House Republicans are calling to revive the independent Iraq Study Group to give the nation options.

While the White House thought they had until September to deal with political fallout on the unpopular war, officials may have forgotten another critical date: the upcoming 2008 elections.

"This is an important moment if we are still to have a bipartisan policy to deal with Iraq," Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said in an interview Wednesday.

If Congress and the White House wait until September to change course in Iraq, Lugar said "It'll be further advanced in the election cycle. It makes it more difficult for people to cooperate. ... If you ask if I have some anxiety about 2008, I do."

Lugar, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, plans to meet Thursday privately with Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley. Hadley requested the meeting after Lugar delivered a lengthy floor speech contending the president's war strategy won't have time to work and that U.S. troops should start leaving.

This is the heart of the story. President Bush needs to continue this war in Iraq until after January 20, 2009--the day Bush leaves office and drops the entire Iraq mess on his successor. By doing so, George Bush can then make his own claim that he did everything he could in fighting the Great War on Terrorism in Iraq. Any U.S. pullout from Iraq in 2009 will be regarded as a U.S. loss, and can be blamed on Bush's successor. That is the Bush administration's current strategy on Iraq.

The problem with this strategy is that it is a CYA for President Bush's failure for going to war in Iraq which will be paid for at the expense of the Republican congressmen, who are pressured by this administration to continue supporting the war in the face of overwhelming American opposition to the war. The Bush administration is looking at this strategy as to how it can salvage Bush's legacy--they want to continue the war until after George Bush leaves office, and are looking at the 2008 elections from a presidential perspective. What the Bush White House is failing to see is that the 2008 elections are also about Congress, and specifically Republican congressmen. The longer the Republican congressmen continue to support the Bush administration's war in Iraq, the greater the problem that these congressmen will have in explaining their pro-war positions to American voters, as both the elections get closer, and the Iraq war continues to deteriorate in more ethnic violence, and more American deaths. The Bush administration is forcing GOP congressmen to risk their own political careers in order to salvage George Bush's failed presidential legacy. That is the fracture which is currently taking place between the Bush White House and the Republican congressmen. And that is the reason why National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley paid a visit to Senator Richard Lugar--to keep this fracture from breaking wide open, and continue having the Republican congressmen goose-stepping to the Bush administration's failed war strategy. It was a Bush PR-damage-control-spin with the Republican congressmen. Continuing with the rest of the Yahoo news story:

National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Hadley's message Thursday on Capitol Hill will be "where we see things currently in Iraq and that we need to see what the commanders on the ground and the ambassador have to say in September."

White House spokesman Tony Snow said he sees little space between Lugar and the president, who Snow said sees troop withdrawals "over the horizon."

"We think it's important to allow the Baghdad security plan to work," Snow told reporters. "But if you take a look at what Sen. Lugar's trying to figure out, it's what configuration is going to be conducive in the long run to success and also building greater bipartisan support."

Indeed, the senator says he still opposes Democratic proposals setting an end date on the war. Lugar also warns against withdrawing forces too quickly and putting troops in harms' way.

But Lugar's contention that the military begin now a "sizable" drawdown of U.S. forces aligns Lugar more with Democrats than Bush and poses a serious challenge to the administration's insistence that it manage the war on its own timetable. As a prominent voice in the GOP caucus, Lugar says he would consider legislative measures this summer if the White House is unresponsive to his position.

Other GOP senators have aligned themselves with a similar position, including Sen. George Voinovich. On Tuesday, the Ohio Republican sent Bush a letter calling for "responsible military disengagement" from Iraq.

Republican Sens. Norm Coleman of Minnesota and John Sununu of New Hampshire also say they want to see troops departing Iraq by early 2008. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Wednesday she is working with Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., on a new bipartisan policy for Iraq.

In another challenge to Bush's Iraq policy, House Republicans urged the White House on Wednesday to revive the Iraq Study Group. A blue-ribbon panel chaired by Republican James Baker and Democrat Lee Hamilton, the group concluded last December that U.S. troops could leave by March 2008 if certain steps were taken.

Last week, the House voted 355-69 to appropriate a $1 million budget for another study, though the bill is unlikely to become law for a few weeks. Reps. Chris Shays, R-Conn., and Frank Wolf, R-Va., said they hope the administration will move ahead on its own to reconvene the group.

"If you had a health care problem, you'd want to get a second opinion quickly," Wolf told reporters.

The Republican push comes as a new bipartisan investigation found that Iraqi ministries are incapable of "accounting for, supporting or fully controlling their forces in the field." The report also confirmed that the U.S. is shifting its focus from trying to transfer control to Iraqi troops — because they are not ready — to trying to secure neighborhoods.

The findings, detailed in a 205-page report, cast doubt on how soon U.S. troops could leave Iraq under Bush's plan to "stand down" coalition forces as Iraqi troops "stand up."

"Basically, the department can tell us how many people they've trained and how many weapons they're given, but they can't tell us enough about how well they can perform their missions or even plan them," said Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., the outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services oversight and investigations subcommittee.

The Bush administration is trying to run the clock out on President Bush's final days in office, while continuing the Iraq war. Congressional Republicans are worried that their own political careers are at risk if they continue following President Bush's game plan on Iraq. At the same time, they don't want to anger their hard-core conservative base, which is numbering around 36 percent, if these GOP congressmen decide to support the Democratic legislation on withdrawal timetables. But in continuing to follow the Bush administration's game plan in Iraq, these same congressional Republicans face a potential wrath of American voters who want the war to be resolved. And if this war continues, without a resolution, until election day, you could see a number of these Republican congressmen unemployed. It is this fear that is causing the House Republicans to urge the Bush White House to revive the Iraq Study Group recommendations. I would say that by the end of this year, Congress will approve some type of withdrawal legislation which will have enough Republican support to override President Bush's veto. I'm guessing that this legislation will be some type of compromise legislation, including both the Iraq Study Group recommendations and a Democratic withdrawal timetable. If there is any type of withdrawal legislation to be passed with a two-thirds majority, it is going to have to take place by the end of this year. Once 2008 rolls around, we will be in an election year period where Congressional legislation essentially shuts down, to be replaced by election year politics. I doubt that any type congressional legislation on Iraq can even pass in 2008. I will also guess that any type of congressional legislation that will pass with the two-thirds majority, will probably take place near the end of this year--say November or December. Congressional Republicans are paralyzed by this lousy set of choices they are currently facing. They are going to wait until after September, when the Bush administration is supposed to report on progress of the troop surge in Iraq. Irregardless of the Bush administration's "Happy Happy Joy Joy" troop surge report on Iraq, the Republican congressmen will have around a two-and-a-half month window to really decide if they want to continue their pro-war stance with the Bush administration, at the expense of the American publics' opposition to the war, or whether they want to support some type of bipartisan legislation with the Democratic leadership in resolving the Iraq war over the President's veto. After 2008, it is all about election year politics, and Iraq will be the central issue in the election.

20 beheaded bodies found on Iraqi river bank

Iraqi women look at the site of a blast at a bus station in the Baiyaa neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday. Hadi Mizban / AP

This is how we win the war in Iraq. From MSNBC News:

BAGHDAD - Twenty beheaded bodies were discovered Thursday on the banks of the Tigris River southeast of Baghdad, while a parked car bomb killed another 20 people in one of the capital’s busy outdoor bus stations, police said.

The beheaded remains were found in the Sunni Muslim village of Um al-Abeed, near the city of Salman Pak, which lies 14 miles southeast of Baghdad.

The bodies — all men aged 20 to 40 years old — had their hands and legs bound, and some of the heads were found next to the bodies, two officers said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

Meanwhile, a parked car bomb ripped through a crowded transport hub in southwest Baghdad’s Baiyaa neighborhood at morning rush hour, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 50, another officer said on the same condition.

Many of the victims had been lining up for buses, awaiting a ride to work. Some 40 minibuses were incinerated in the explosion, police said.

Associated Press Television News video showed an open square strewn with smoldering car parts and charred bodies with clothes in tatters. Bystanders, some weeping, gingerly loaded human remains into ambulances.

A pickup truck rumbled slowly away from the scene, with two pairs of legs — the dead bodies of victims — dangling out of the back.

Of course, I found this little MSNBC story, reporting that Iraqi security forces are still not capable of maintaining security of their own territory:

BAGHDAD - American military commanders now seriously doubt that Iraqi security forces will be able to hold the ground that U.S. troops are fighting to clear — gloomy predictions that strike at the heart of Washington's key strategy to turn the tide in Iraq.

Several senior American officers have warned in recent days that Iraqi soldiers and police are still incapable of maintaining security on their own in the most crucial areas, including Baghdad and the recently reclaimed districts around Baqouba to the north.

Iraqi units are supposed to be moving into position to take the baton from the Pentagon. This was the backbone of the plan President Bush announced in January when he ordered five more U.S. brigades, or about 30,000 soldiers, to Iraq. The goal is to reduce the violence to a level where the Iraqis can cope so that Americans can begin to go home.

But that outcome is looking ever more elusive. The fear is that U.S. troops will pay for territory with their lives — only to have Iraqi forces lose control once the Americans move on.

Unless Iraqis can step up, the United States will face tough choices in months ahead as pressure mounts in the Democratic-controlled Congress to draw down the nearly 160,000-strong U.S. force.

And of course, the Bush White House is continuing their stale, PR-story of staying the course:

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Tony Snow struck a different tone: appealing for patience as support dwindles for an open-ended commitment in Iraq. He urged lawmakers to "give the Baghdad security plan a chance to unfold."

The Bush war in Iraq is a complete disaster. It is a war that the United States has lost--the question now is how much more blood and treasure are we going to shed before we finally admit defeat? We are now starting to see some key Republicans turning against the Bush administration's war. Senator Richard Lugar's speech criticizing the Bush administration's war was a powerful sign to the administration that the support of congressional Republicans are starting to fracture on the war. As I've said before, congressional Republicans are facing two lousy choices here as the Iraq war continues to deteriorate. Their first choice is to continue marching in lock-step with the Bush administration's stay-the-course-surge strategy, even as the polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans want the U.S. to pull out of Iraq. The longer the Republicans continue to support the Bush war, the greater the danger of American voters throwing out the Republicans as Iraq becomes the primary election issue in November 2008. By supporting the Bush war in Iraq, Republican congressmen risk their own political careers by facing the wrath of American voters. The second choice is to start supporting some type of congressional legislation to resolve the Iraq war. Of course, this choice will anger an increasingly isolated, and besieged, Bush White House, which is hoping to continue this war until after President Bush leaves office in January 2009. So far, the Republicans are continuing to support the Bush war in Iraq. But what Lugar's speech shows here is that Republicans are not happy with the contradictions between the Bush administration's continued insistence on supporting the war, and the troop surge plan, verses the daily news reports showing the continued failure of this Bush surge plan in the Iraq war.

It is all going downhill.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mitt Romney's "Vacation" with the family dog

I found this story through Shakespeare's Sister, and even I'm rather surprised by it. I really don't know what to say, except to post this as is. The original source of the story is from The Boston Globe:

The white Chevy station wagon with the wood paneling was overstuffed with suitcases, supplies, and sons when Mitt Romney climbed behind the wheel to begin the annual 12-hour family trek from Boston to Ontario.

As with most ventures in his life, he had left little to chance, mapping out the route and planning each stop. The destination for this journey in the summer of 1983 was his parents' cottage on the Canadian shores of Lake Huron. Romney would be returning to the place of his most cherished childhood memories.


Before beginning the drive, Mitt Romney put Seamus, the family's hulking Irish setter, in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon's roof rack. He'd built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog.

Then Romney put his boys on notice: He would be making predetermined stops for gas, and that was it.

The ride was largely what you'd expect with five brothers, ages 13 and under, packed into a wagon they called the ''white whale.''
As the oldest son, Tagg Romney commandeered the way-back of the wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ''Dad!'' he yelled. ''Gross!'' A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who'd been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.
As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway. It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.

And it offered his sons a rare unplanned stop.

I'm starting to wonder if Mitt Romney has this secret desire to be like Clark Griswold:

Of course, this brings up the question of whether Romney's dog wet on the picnic basket.

Cheney’s office, White House subpoenaed

This is off MSNBC News:

WASHINGTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney’s office Wednesday for documents relating to President Bush’s controversial eavesdropping program that operated warrant-free for five years.

Also named in subpoenas signed by committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., were the Justice Department and the National Security Council. The four parties have until July 18 to comply, according to a statement by Leahy’s office.

The committee wants documents that might shed light on internal disputes within the administration over the legality of the program, which Bush put under court review earlier this year.

“Our attempts to obtain information through testimony of administration witnesses have been met with a consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection,” Leahy said in his cover letters for the subpoenas. “There is no legitimate argument for withholding the requested materials from this committee.”

Echoing its response to previous congressional subpoenas to former administration officials Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor, the White House gave no indication that it would comply.

“We’re aware of the committee’s action and will respond appropriately,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. “It’s unfortunate that congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation.”

We've got another confrontation here. The Bush administration has been stalling every which way they can to avoid providing information on their illegal warrantless spying program for the past six years. And it doesn't surprise me that the Bush White House is blaming the congressional Democrats for their own confrontational approach to the congressional oversight into the Bush White House. If anything, this story really shows the contempt that the Bush administration, and especially Vice President Dick Cheney, have for both the rule of law and the system of oversight. This Bush White House will ignore this subpoena, inviting an even greater constitutional confrontation within the courts between the legislative and executive branches. President Bush probably believes this latest stare-down with the Democrats in Congress.

We'll find out on July 18th.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Paris Hilton is out of jail

Paris Hilton, escorted by Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies, reacts as she walks out of the Angeles County Sheriff Department's Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, Calif., with her lawyer lawyer, Richard Hutton, second left, Tuesday June 26, 2007. Paris Hilton has been released from jail after serving about three weeks for an alcohol-related reckless driving case. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Well, the big news story for today is going to be Paris Hilton. Yes, she is now out of jail. According to MSNBC News:

LYNWOOD, Calif. - A smiling Paris Hilton walked out of a Los Angeles County jail early Tuesday, officially ending a bizarre, three-week stay that ignited furious debate over celebrity treatment in the jail system.

The 26-year-old celebutante was greeted by an enormous gathering of cameras and reporters upon leaving the all-women’s facility in Lynwood about 15 minutes past midnight. She had checked into the Century Regional Detention Facility late June 3, largely avoiding the spotlight, after a surprise appearance at the MTV Movie Awards.

Hilton smiled and waved as she filed past deputies and the media, her blond hair pulled back in a braided ponytail. Her parents, Kathy and Rick, waited in a black SUV. Hilton hurried to the vehicle, where she hugged her mom through the window.

Hilton, who was wearing a sage jacket with white trim over a white shirt and skinny jeans, did not respond to reporters’ questions.

“She fulfilled her debt. She was obviously in good spirits. She thanked people as she left,” said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.

And the media frenzy over Paris' freedom has gone completely overboard. I saw the "Breaking News" stories of Paris Hilton's release from jail on the main cable news channels MSNBC, Fox News and CNN last night. Just look at the pic below here:

Members of the media swarm the car of Paris Hilton as she leaves the Los Angeles County Correctional Facility in Lynwood, California June 26, 2007. Hotel heiress Hilton, who commanded as much attention behind bars as on the Hollywood party scene, regained her freedom on Tuesday after serving three weeks in jail for violating probation in a drunk-driving case. REUTERS/Max Morse (UNITED STATES)

Continuing with the MSNBC story:

Photographers sprinted after Hilton’s vehicle as she left. When the SUV hit a red light during the ride, photographers jumped out of their cars and swarmed it.

Hilton appeared to have gone to a family home in a ritzy Los Angeles canyon north of Sunset Blvd.

I would guess that Paris Hilton will have a big party celebrating her release from jail tonight. And that is fine with me--she served her time. What is rather ironic is how the media is also playing up this little detail of the costs of Paris Hilton's jail time. According to MSNBC News:

Hilton’s stay there cost taxpayers $1,109.78 a day, more than 10 times the cost of housing inmates in the general population.

So it cost the taxpayers around $25,000 for Paris Hilton's three-week stay in jail. In one sense, it was probably worth it. There are times that celebrities will go overboard in their outrageous behavior, knowing that they can get away with it. Paris Hilton is a prime example of such outrageous behavior. She was originally arrested on September 7 after police "saw her weaving down a street in her car on what she said was a late-night run to a hamburger stand." Hilton failed a sobriety test, and then "pleaded no contest to reckless driving and was sentenced to 36 months’ probation, alcohol education and $1,500 in fines." That should have been the end of the story, but it wasn't. Hilton was stopped twice by officers for driving with a suspended license. Paris Hilton flouted the law here. And because of that, Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer slammed Hilton with a 45-day sentence to jail. Case closed. All Paris Hilton has to do now is follow the conditions of her probation here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Daily Headliners--Emanuel to cut Cheney office funding, Thompson, Clinton lead in Nevada poll, Bush at 26 percent

There are a few Daily Headliner stories to look into. Shall we begin?

Cheney may meet his match in Democratic Rep. Emanuel: This is a great little news story from McClatchy;

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, on Wednesday will propose cutting all appropriations for Cheney's office from the bill that's needed to finance the executive branch.

It's a response to Cheney's assertion that he isn't bound by a presidential order on secrecy because he isn't really part of the executive branch. Cheney says the Constitution makes him unique in government: one foot in the executive branch as next in line to the presidency and the other foot in the legislative branch as presiding officer of the Senate.

The White House says the constitutional argument from Cheney is interesting, but moot. The president's order requires executive agencies to report data about their use of classified documents to the National Archives. Spokeswoman Dana Perino says Bush never meant to include Cheney in the order covering other executive department agencies and that the president is the "sole enforcer'' of his own orders.

But Emanuel is using the argument to ridicule and bludgeon Cheney.

First, Emanuel released a chart showing four branches of government: the executive, the legislative, the judicial and the Cheney.

Then he went to work picking apart Cheney's argument.

``If the vice president truly believes he is not a part of the executive branch, he should return the salary the American taxpayers have been paying him since January 2001, and move out of the home for which they are footing the bill,'' Emanuel said.

Emanuel's proposed amendment would withhold the $4.4 million for Cheney's office until the vice president admits he's in the executive branch or the Government Accountability Office determines which branch Cheney serves in.

It appears that Cheney has got himself tongue-tied here. By claiming that his office is neither a part of the executive branch, or the legislative branch, Cheney completely opened himself up to the congressional Democrats ridicule that Cheney should not receive American taxpayer funding for his office because Cheney claims he is not a part of any branch of the government. Cheney has only himself to blame here, since he is trying to circumvent the law in keeping his office completely secret from any form of oversight into the vice president's activities here.

Thompson, Clinton take leads in Nevada poll: This is also from a McClatchy story showing the Nevada poll results for the presidential contenders. According to this McClatchy story;

The poll showed Thompson with 25 percent support among Republicans who are considered likely to attend a nominating caucus, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 20 percent, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani with 17 percent, Sen. John McCain of Arizona with 8 percent and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 3 percent. The other Republicans had 1 percent support or less.

On the Democratic side, Clinton led with 39 percent, followed by Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois with 17 percent, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina with 12 percent, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson with 7 percent and Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware with 2 percent. The other Democrats had 1 percent or less.


In contrast, Thompson has done nothing publicly to prepare for the nominating caucuses, which require significant organization to guarantee a good turnout at the time-consuming meetings.

"That shows that Republicans are really looking for a candidate. Nobody is, in a sense, grabbing the hearts of the Republicans," said Eric Herzik, chairman of the political science department at the University of Nevada, Reno. "It's really bad news for McCain. He's a Westerner. He's certainly not making any forward progress."

The independent polling firm interviewed 800 likely caucus goers - 400 from each party - on June 20-22. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 5 percent.

What I find especially interesting about this story is the fact that Thompson hasn't done any type of campaigning at all--and he's in the lead for the Republican candidates. It really does show that the Republicans are looking for a candidate to win the hearts and minds of the GOP base, especially considering how the GOP is saddled with a sinking Bush presidency. It is fascinating how the GOP is searching for their "white knight" presidential candidate, while rejecting the current crop of candidates--McCain was too much of a presidential whore, Romney was a Mormon, Giuliani was pro-choice, and the rest of the GOP candidates just don't have the national exposure to improve their standing. Thompson has got his own presidential exploratory website up, so it is just a matter of what day on the Fourth of July weekend he is going to announce his candidacy.

How Low Can He Go? Bush job approval poll by Newsweek: This is just a big WOW! Newsweek is reporting that "President Bush’s approval rating has reached a record low;

In the new poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday nights, President Bush’s approval rating has reached a record low. Only 26 percent of Americans, just over one in four, approve of the job the 43rd president is doing; while, a record 65 percent disapprove, including nearly a third of Republicans.

The new numbers—a 2 point drop from the last NEWSWEEK Poll at the beginning of May—are statistically unchanged, given the poll’s 4 point margin of error. But the 26 percent rating puts Bush lower than Jimmy Carter, who sunk to his nadir of 28 percent in a Gallup poll in June 1979. In fact, the only president in the last 35 years to score lower than Bush is Richard Nixon. Nixon’s approval rating tumbled to 23 percent in January 1974, seven months before his resignation over the botched Watergate break-in.

Newsweek also reports that President Bush has scored record lows on just about every issue--the economy (34 percent approve, 60 percent disapprove), health care (28 percent approve, 61 percent disapprove), and immigration (23 percent approve, 63 percent disapprove). In addition, a 50-percent majority of Americans disapprove of Bush's handling on terrorism and homeland security, while only 43 percent approve. The only good news for this administration is the Democrats in Congress are polling even lower, at a 25 percent approval rating. We're talking only a 1 percent difference here in the job approval ratings between President Bush and the congressional Democrats. If the situation continues to sour in Iraq, more scandals continue to be revealed with the U.S. attorneys, torture of prisoners, Gitmo, immigration, GOP voting fraud, and whatever else comes up, I'm starting to wonder if Bush will end up dropping below President Nixon's approval ratings--or even into the teens. We still have a year and a half of this Bush presidency to go.

Monday Schoolhouse Rocks--Naughty Number Nine

This is a fun Schoolhouse Rock song with a great jazzy appeal. We're talking Naughty Number Nine here. The music and lyrics are by Bob Dorough, while the song is performed by Grady Tate. Of course, the poor little mouse gets the last laugh at the end of the song.

So here is Naughty Number Nine. From YouTube:

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Saturday Morning Cartoons--Saturday Evening Puss

My apologies if blogging has been a little light this week. I purchased an HP photo scanner, and I've been hunting through my negatives to determine what I want to scan into digital files. I don't have a digital camera, and if I were to equip myself with a digital camera, it would probably cost me around $10,000 to get a Canon or Nikon SLR with the lenses, and flash equipment that I would love to acquire. Anyways, I should be able to post some digital files of photos that I've taken over the years. And I'll be going back to posting more on the political stories.

But for now, let's get into some Saturday Morning Cartoons. I found this Tom and Jerry cartoon Saturday Evening Puss, in which there are actually two versions. The original version has a middle-aged black woman named Mammy Two-Shoes, who goes out for a night on the town. The original 1950 cartoon was edited by Chuck Jones to replace Mammy Two Shoes with a thin white lady. I found both versions on YouTube. Here is the original 1950s version with Mammy:

And here is the re-edited version:

It is interesting to see just how these cartoons can be changed, over time, to make them more "politically correct." That is not to say that I either approve or disapprove of what MGM did to these cartoons. There was a lot of racism within these cartoons during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. And it is not just MGM--all the studios were involved in making racist cartoons. I just find this very interesting from a historical, and cultural perspective.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday Schoolhouse Rocks--Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here

This Schoolhouse Rock song is just an instant classic. It is a rather complicated song, considering that it is trying to simplify to complex nature of an adverb. But the song does it so well. Music and lyrics are by Bob Dorough. So Lolly, come get your adverbs here! From YouTube:

At your service!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Saturday Night Music--Real Gone by Sheryl Crow

Finished watching the Disney movie Cars with my five-year-old niece. The music for the opening credits of cars is Sheryl Crow's Real Gone. It is such a great song for the movie. So for a little Saturday night music, I found this YouTube music video created by Jtrait. Call it an unauthorized music video from the movie Cars:

Slow down, you're gonna crash,
Baby you're a-screaming it's a blast, blast, blast
Look out, you've got your blinders on
Everybody's looking for a way to get real gone
Real gone.

Reporters arrested for giving hard questions to Giuliani campaign after CNN Republican debate

I originally saw this story on Shakesville, and the Daily Kos, but I wanted to hold off writing about it until this weekend, where I could try to gather more information on the story. According to Raw Story:

A reporter advancing 9/11 conspiracy theories in a heated exchange with advisers to Rudy Giuliani was arrested following Tuesday night's Republican debate.

Police in Goffstown, N.H., confirmed to RAW STORY that freelance reporter Matt Lepacek was arrested for trespassing following the debate at St. Anselm College in Goffstown. Lepacek was asking a Giuliani adviser about comments the former mayor made on ABC News on Sept. 11 that some say show he had foreknowledge that the World Trade Center would collapse.

Police refused to release more information about Lepacek's case prior to his first scheduled court appearance July 3.

Lepacek was reporting for, which advances theories about the government knowing in advance about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Lepacek claimed to have press credentials issued by CNN, which sponsored Tuesday's debate. A CNN representative in charge of issuing credentials did not immediately return a phone call or e-mail from RAW STORY seeking comment.

Reports on Lepacek's arrest first appeared on and the Jones Report.

Witnesses said Lepacek and another reporter were physically assaulted by police and their camera equipment was damaged, according to those reports, which also included video of Lepacek's confrontation with Giuliani staffers.

"If this were 10 years ago, they'd be throwing pies in our face," the Giuliani staffer says to other assembled reporters after Lepacek is dragged away.

There is certainly some more information that has come out on this story. According to the Jones Report:

Jason Bermas, reporting for America: Freedom to Fascism, confirmed Lepacek had official CNN press credentials for the Republican debate. However, his camera was seized by staff members who shut off the camera, according to Luke Rudkowski, also a freelance Infowars reporter on the scene. He said police physically assaulted both reporters after Rudkowski objected that they were official members of the press and that nothing illegal had taken place. Police reportedly damaged the Infowars-owned camera in the process.


Though CNN staff members tried to persuade police not to arrest the accredited reporter-- in violation of the First Amendment, Lepacek was taken to jail. The police station told that Lepacek is being charged with felony criminal trespass.

Lepacek did receive one phone call in jail which he used to contact reporter Luke Rudkowski. According to Rudkowski, Lepacek was scared because he had been told he may be transferred to a secret detention facility because state police were also considering charges of espionage against him-- due to a webcam Lepacek was using to broadcast live at the event. State police considered it to be a hidden camera, which led to discussion of "espionage."

Wearing a webcam at a press event is not an act of espionage. Alex Jones, who was watching the live feed, witnessed Lepacek announce that he was wearing a camera connected to a laptop that was transmitting the press conference live at approximately 9:20 EST. When Lepacek announced that he was broadcasting live, Giuliani staff members responded by getting upset at his questions and ordering his arrest.

Freedom to Fascism reporter Samuel Ettaro was also dragged out after asking a question on Giuliani's ties with Cintra and Macquerie, two foreign contractors involved with the contentious Trans-Texas Corridor under development in Texas.

Here is the video of Matt Lepacek being arrested by police. From YouTube:

The Student Scholars for 9/11 Truth also recorded the arrest and posted it through YouTube:

I also want to bring in two more comments from bloggers who attended the event. The first comment is from Gather blogger Peg C:

Last night, after the debate, while I was still in the Spin Room, I watched as a NH State Trooper and what I believe was a local Police Officer escorting two fellows out of the gymnasium.

Overheard buzz included speculation that one of these two had sprayed water or something on a campaign staffer, while the other videotaped it. That sounded absolutely absurd to me, but I didn't see the altercation. On the heels of Eric Alterman's arrest for alleged 'Criminal Tresspass', my first thought was that what I was witnessing was an awfully swift movement to remove another reporter from the spin room.

My second thought was that if this were some sort of protest action, if the spraying of a campaigner was a fact, then the location chosen for such an act was inappropriate, and removal would be warranted. That was quickly followed by a reigning in of my stream of consciousness, because really, I hadn't the first clue of what happened.


This morning, I watched this video, showing exactly what happened, leading up to what I witnessed last night.


Now that you've watched it, is your head exploding? Mine is. Matt Lepacek did nothing wrong. He wasn't physically intimidating any one. He was doing what any reporter would do, ask questions on a topic that is of serious interest to himself and his readers. He is a freelance journalist. As of publishing this article, I've seen no update on his status, as far as I know, the man is still under arrest. According to one article I read, found via, Alex Jones' website, which Lepacek was representing, there is even concern that he is being held on charges of espionage.

Whoa. Now, the only place that this has been noted is on the website I reference above, and on other blogs and websites referencing this.


A search of CNN, NBC, CBS, FoxNews all come up with nothing. NOTHING.

[cue the chirping crickets]

The second blogger who attended the event was fellow Gather blogger Chris Caesar, and had this say:

Infowars reporter Matt Lepacek was led out of the spin room by Goffstown PD last night, at the behest of a Giuliani staffer who didn't like the question he and his crew were asking of a spokesman.

When he tried to return to the room (he had legitimate press credentials) he was arrested by the police and charged with "criminal trespassing," a charge that the police decided to press post-arrest. This, despite a plea from CNN staffers not to arrest him.

I was just on Alex Jones's radio show -- the man behind -- to offer my take on the brazenly illegal and undemocratic measures taken by Goffstown police last Tuesday. I can offer, from my personal experience, that the press at this event couldn't have any more contempt for citizen reporters and other protestors; thus, I felt obligated to follow Mr. Lepacek and the arresting officers with my audiotape and take pictures.

Now this is all the news and information that I could find regarding this story. And this story disturbs me on a number of levels. First, it disturbs me that a Giuliani staff member could have a credentialed freelance reporter arrested for asking tough questions regarding Giuliani's comments on the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now I looked at Infowars homepage, and the site does seem to be a little more conspiracy minded than the rest of the mainstream media. But Lepacek was given a credentialed press pass by CNN, and had every right to ask his own tough questions to the Giuliani campaign regarding September 11th. The Giuliani campaign staff member, pollster Ed Goeas, badly handled the entire situation here. He could have simply dismissed Lepacek's questions, and then moved on to another reporter's question. Instead Goeas decided to confront Lepacek, even going to the point of telling Lepacek to "Back off!" Then Goeas ordered the police to arrest Lepacek. Even more crazy is that after Lepacek is led off by the police, Goeas laughs, and then asks, "Would the real press like to ask some questions?" There is this attitude within the Giuliani campaign that anyone who is not a part of the corporate media establishment, doesn't really deserve the constitutional freedom of the press to ask questions on the issues. It is a problem here because Goeas, or even the Giuliani campaign, really understands the rapid evolution of the news industry. We are now in the time of the "citizen journalist," where anyone can create their own news stories through blogs and web links. The American public is no longer limited to being spoon-fed their news through the big corporate news outlets. There are also hundreds of thousands of blogs that generate their own news and editorial content regarding the day's issues, including Infowars. Goeas and the Giuliani campaign cannot deal with these smaller outlets, the questions that they will ask, or even the news content they provide for their readership.

But there is more. What really concerned me here is how Lepacek's camera was seized by Giuliani campaign staff members. I can't say when Lepacek's camera was seized by Giuliani's campaign staff, or even if the camera was actually seized by the Giuliani staff. The YouTube video of Lepacek's arrest does not show the camera being seized. If Lepacek's camera was seized by a Giuliani campaign staff member, then this is a dangerous precedent. This is a journalist's equipment, just as any notebook is. A camera contains video information, and source citation covering an event or an issue. It is like having a politician, or campaign staff member taking a reporter's notebook. If that campaign staff member seizes a journalist's video camera, then the campaign can review the video on that camera, and possibly delete the video information which may embarrass the campaign. And if the Giuliani campaign can get away with taking or destroying a journalist's equipment, then how long do you think it will be before the other campaigns decide that they too, can get away with arresting, seizing, and destroying journalists' equipment?

This whole incident stinks. It scares me that the Giuliani campaign has contempt for the First Amendment rights to freedom of the press, arresting a freelance reporter for asking questions regarding 9/11. It scares me that instead of handling such questions with a little more tactfulness, the Giuliani campaign decided to confront the reporter, and then have that reporter arrested. This incident makes me wonder just how far a Giuliani administration will go in destroying our constitutional rights and our rights to a free press.

Update: YouTube user Thodal2000 has uploaded 9 videos showing Lepacek's arrest. Some of the video footage includes the live webcast of Lepacek's questioning of Goeas. Check it out.

Daily Headliners--NY Times demands subpoenas for Rove, Senate to vote Monday of "no confidence" in Gonzales, More GOP corruption, Bush hires lawyers

With all the news media frenzy over Paris Hilton, and General Pace's resignation, it is probably a good time to look over the Daily Headliners.

It’s Subpoena Time: The New York Times published this scathing editorial, demanding that the Senate Judiciary Committee issue subpoenas to White House political adviser Karl Rove, and former White House counsel Harriet Miers to "testify in public and under oath" on their roles in the U.S attorney scandal. According to the Times:

Congress has now heard from everyone in the Justice Department who appears to have played a significant role in the firings of the prosecutors. They have all insisted that the actual decisions about whom to fire came from somewhere else. It is increasingly clear that the somewhere else was the White House. If Congress is going to get to the bottom of the scandal, it has to get the testimony of Mr. Rove, his aides Scott Jennings and Sara Taylor, Ms. Miers and her deputy, William Kelley.

The White House has offered to make them available only if they do not take an oath and there is no transcript. Those conditions are a formula for condoning perjury, and they are unacceptable. As for documents, the White House has released piles of useless e-mail messages. But it has reported that key e-mails to and from Mr. Rove were inexplicably destroyed. At the same time, it has argued that e-mails of Mr. Rove’s that were kept on a Republican Party computer system, which may contain critical information, should not be released.

The big question now is when will the Senate issue those subpoenas?

On Monday, the Senate will take a vote of no confidence in Alberto Gonzales: I found this little news item through Americablog. This story can also be found on Think Progress, Roll Call, CNN Political Ticker, and ABC News The title really says it all--the Senate plans to take a vote of no confidence for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Monday. In fact, ABC News reports:

The U.S. Senate has never held a no-confidence vote before. Or at least not one they could find at the Senate Historian's office. At the moment, the Democrats aren't entirely sure what to make of the historical precedent.

"A lot of things have happened in 200 plus years of congressional history," said Senate historian Richard Baker. At Baker's office in the U.S. Capitol, they search through old newspapers online and internal records to try to find another instance of a no-confidence vote. But so far, they are stumped.

No-confidence votes, after all, are a European convention -- in countries on the Continent and in the United Kingdom, governments are usually controlled by the political party (or coalition of parties) and headed by the prime minister. In those states, a no-confidence vote is used by the out-of-power party to demand a new election. A successful no-confidence vote means it's time for a new prime minister.

But here in the United Sates, where those clever framers separated power between the generally elected executive and the locally elected legislature, there hasn't been a need for no-confidence votes. The Senate already has the power to assert itself over the executive branch because it has the discretion to appropriate the funds that the president uses to run the government and it also has the power to OK (or not) the president's nominations (Gonzales was confirmed by a Senate vote of 60-36 in 2005).

So, Baker said a no-confidence vote is "completely irrelevant to the operation of the American governmental system. But having said that, it is well within the Senate's right to have the Senate express its opinion on any subject," Baker said.

President Bush has already called the Senate's no confidence vote on Gonzales "pure political theater" in this May 21, 2007 CNN story. It is going to be interesting to see how this vote plays out--especially if a number of Republicans break away from the Bush administration and vote for this no confidence in Gonzales. Think Progress is reporting that conservative senators are being quiet as to whether they would vote for a no confidence in Gonzales, even though a number of these conservative senators have called for Gonzales to resign.

More GOP "Culture of Corruption: This is a wicked NY Times story which exposes how Representative Don Young of Alaska steered a $10 million earmark, in a 2006 transportation bill, towards building a road near Fort Myers, Florida. This is the saga of Coconut Road. According to the NY Times:

Mr. Young, who last year steered more than $200 million to a so-called bridge to nowhere reaching 80 people on Gravina Island, Alaska, has no constituents in Florida.

The Republican congressman whose district does include Coconut Road says he did not seek the money. County authorities have twice voted not to use it, until Mr. Young and the district congressman wrote letters warning that a refusal could jeopardize future federal money for the county.

The Coconut Road money is a boon, however, to Daniel J. Aronoff, a real estate developer who helped raise $40,000 for Mr. Young at the nearby Hyatt Coconut Point hotel days before he introduced the measure.

Mr. Aronoff owns as much as 4,000 acres along Coconut Road. The $10 million in federal money would pay for the first steps to connect the road to Interstate 75, multiplying the value of Mr. Aronoff’s land.

He did not return phone calls seeking comment. A consultant who helped push for the project spelled out why its supporters held the fund-raiser.

I will say it is interesting how Rep. Don Young seems so intent on building roads and bridges to nowhere.

Bush hires lawyers to fight legal battles with Congress: This McClatchy story shows just how besieged and embattled this Bush administration has become:

Faced with a flurry of document requests and expanding congressional investigations, the White House announced Friday that Bush had hired nine lawyers, including five who'll fill new jobs in the president's legal office. The recruits have solid experience in white-collar crime, government investigations and constitutional law.

Legal experts said the hires indicated that Bush was gearing up to fight congressional inquiries that he considered an encroachment on presidential power. The president has accused Democrats of seeking to score political points by delving into White House deliberations on a host of issues.

"This indicates a war-on-all-fronts legal strategy against congressional oversight," said Washington lawyer Bruce Fein, who served as the deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration.

Bush, who's tested the limits of presidential authority on issues ranging from electronic eavesdropping to the control of presidential papers, has made no secret of his frustration with congressional investigations.

After six years with a compliant Republican-led Congress, the White House is facing a host of congressional investigations and demands for top presidential advisers to testify. The White House and Congress could be headed for a showdown if Democrats follow through on threats to subpoena White House adviser Karl Rove and former White House counsel Harriet Miers for an investigation into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys.

"The White House is laying in its stone wall," said John Flannery, a former federal prosecutor and a Democratic activist. "They are preparing to deflect the subpoenas for Rove and Miers from the beaches of Capitol Hill to the heights of the Supreme Court if necessary."

President Bush gathering more lawyers to battle the congressional inquiries into the scandals and corruption that this administration has committed over the past six years. They don't want accountability.