Friday, August 31, 2007

RNC pushing Craig to resign

This is certainly big. I found this story through TPM Election Central, which sources this CNN story:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Several well-placed GOP sources in Washington and Idaho have told CNN that embattled Republican Sen. Larry Craig is likely to resign soon, possibly as early as Friday.

GOP sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN's Dana Bash that the Republican National Committee was poised to take the extraordinary step of calling on Craig to resign but held off.

The RNC put the move on hold, the sources said, because top party leaders have received indications that Craig himself is preparing to step down.

Sources have confirmed that high-level meetings on the matter were being conducted in Idaho on Thursday.

Craig has been under pressure to quit since news surfaced this week that he was arrested in June at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and later pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge.


The RNC held off its call for Craig to resign after it got word from Idaho Republicans that such a move could backfire, said GOP sources.

"Any official group saying he would have to resign would have been explosive," a GOP source told CNN. "Craig can't easily go it if appears he's been dictated to by the White House, the RNC, or any other party structure. It has to be his decision."

"He needed a grace period, a day with no action," said the GOP source. "He's gotten some breathing room, and that's helped."

Despite indications of a resignation by Craig, the source also cautioned that the senator could wake up Friday morning and decide something different.

The Republican Party is in panic mode here. The last thing that the GOP wants is for Craig to stay on as senator, and to campaign for re-election in 2008. If Craig campaigns for re-election in 2008, he will become the latest poster boy for the Republican's "Culture of Corruption." The Republicans have been desperately trying to spin this as something that is not endemic of The Party--look at Tom DeLay's ranting on the Today Show that it is the Democrats and liberal media's fault for keeping this story in the headlines. The Republicans would force Craig to resign his senate position in order to avoid tarnishing the GOP's image in the 2008 elections, rather than have Craig run for re-election and have the Idaho voters determine his fate. It is all about CYA for the Republican Party here.

The Thompson un-campaign will officially announce on September 6

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program for this special news announcement.

FLASH--The unofficial Fred Thompson presidential campaign will now become official when former senator Fred Thompson officially announces his candidacy on September 6th. From The Politico:

Fred Thompson will formally announce his candidacy for president next Thursday September 6th, via a webcast, political director Randy Enwright just told supporters on a conference call. Thompson will then head out on a "grass-roots tour" of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. He'll then do a second round of stumping the following week in Florida before returning to his hometown of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, on the 15th. The Thompson campaign will file their papers with the FEC on the 6th, making his candidacy official and bringing an end to his "testing-the-waters" stage.

On the night of the 6th, Thompson's campaign will hold a "national home party" to rally supporters across the country, Enwright said. Having already announced his bid, the candidate will call in from the road to tell supporters how the first day has gone. Among his first stops that day will be to Des Moines, Iowa. The night before his cyber-debut, Thompson will tease his announcement one last time in an appearance on "The Tonight Show."

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program:

Friday Fun Stuff--If Larry Craig were gay....

I found this YouTube video through Shakesville, and it is just incredibly funny. It is probably one of the best social commentary that I've seen on this scandal. From YouTube:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Olbermann plays Senator Craig's arrest tape

Keith Olbermann is on fire. Here is the YouTube video of tonight's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, where Olbermann plays the arrest tape interview between Minneapolis Police Sgt. Dave Karsnia and Craig after Craig was arrested for soliciting sex from a Minneapolis airport men's restroom. From YouTube:

It is just embarrassing. Craig knew he got caught soliciting sex and tried to make excuses in his defense--he didn't realize his foot touched Karsnia's foot, he has a wide stance and puts his feet out, he picked up a piece of paper, he picked up a piece of toilet paper, he picked up a piece of toilet paper with his right hand (which doesn't have a wedding ring, while Karsnia observed a wedding ring in his left hand). The most telling quote here is by Karsnia, where he observes "Embarrassing. Embarrassing. No wonder why we're going down the tubes."

Daily Headliners--Public doesn't trust Iraq report, $9.00 per gallon gas prices, Olbermann's Dragnet on Craig, Tom DeLay on the Today Show

We've got some good Daily Headliners here....

Poll shows majority mistrustful of upcoming Iraq report: It's been a while since I've written on Iraq, and I've found this interesting CNN story on a revealing poll:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A majority of Americans don't trust the upcoming report by the Army's top commander in Iraq on the progress of the war and even if they did, it wouldn't change their mind, according to a new poll.

President Bush frequently has asked Congress -- and the American people -- to withhold judgment on his so-called troop surge in Iraq until Gen. David Petraeus, the commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, issue their progress report in September.

But according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Thursday, 53 percent of people polled said they suspect that the military assessment of the situation will try to make it sound better than it actually is. Forty-three percent said they do trust the report.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said he doesn't think the mistrust is directed at Petreaus as much as it is what he represents.

Holland said, "I suspect most people are hearing the words 'general' and 'Iraq' and that's what they're basing their opinion on."

He added, "It does seem to indicate that anyone associated with the Bush administration may be a less than credible messenger for the message that there is progress being made in Iraq."

Another interesting thing about the poll, Holland said, is that it indicates that about half of those surveyed -- 47 percent -- feel that the military is making progress in Iraq, although slightly more -- 49 percent -- do not.

It would appear to me that the American public may just be a little confused about the Iraq war now. They are seeing two polar opposite sides of this war--the news reports showing that Iraqi government has failed in stabilizing the security situation and failing to achieve the benchmarks for Bush's surge, while the second side is the Bush administration's fantasy PR-spin of keeping the war going, even as the situation is getting worst. That is probably why we have this split in the survey, where half of the public thinks that the military is making progress and the other half thinks not. Of course, this is good news for the Bush White House in using the public to convince Congress into continuing to fund the war until after President Bush leaves the White House in January, 2009. The bad news here for the administration is that the public doesn't trust the upcoming Petraeus report. The Petraeus report will be written by the Bush White House, with President Bush obviously cherry-picking details to support the continued war. The Bush administration tried to push Congress to accept a closed hearing for the release of the Petraeus report, even going as far as to say that Petraeus would brief Congress in a closed session, while Secretary of State Condi Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates would provide public testimony on the report. This type of PR-manipulation shows that the administration may have something to hide in this report. It is why the American public doesn't trust the release of this report.

Gas prices could rise to $9 a gallon: That is what Nevada GOP Rep. Jon Porter is saying in the;

WASHINGTON -- Gasoline prices could rise to about $9 per gallon if the United States withdraws troops from Iraq prematurely, Rep. Jon Porter said he was told on a trip to Iraq that ended this week.

The Nevada Republican, who returned Tuesday from his fourth trip to Iraq, met with U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Iraqi Deputy President Tariq al-Hashimi and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh.

"To a person, they said there would be genocide, gas prices in the U.S. would rise to eight or nine dollars a gallon, al-Qaida would continue its expansion, and Iran would take over that portion of the world if we leave," Porter said Wednesday in a phone interview from Las Vegas.

Porter did not elaborate on the assessment that gasoline prices could spike. His spokesman, Matt Leffingwell, said afterward that the scenario "makes sense if Iran moves into Iraq."

Porter "can't speculate directly on what is going to happen with gas prices, but the market prices for oil reflect the stability in that region," Leffingwell said.

I'm trying to understand Porter's reasoning here for his $9.00 per-gallon gas spike, but I'm stumped. Is Porter saying that if the U.S. pulls out of Iraq, then Iran will invade Iraq, causing this $9.00-a-gallon gas price increase? Or is it that if we pull out of Iraq, then Iraq will descend into civil war and ethnic genocide, thus causing the $9.00-a-gallon gas price increase? Or is it that if we pull out, then al Qaeda will take over Iraq and again will have the $9.00-a-gallon gas price increase? Sounds to me like Porter is trying to keep the U.S. in the Iraq war by spreading fear-mongering of a huge gas price spike. Which brings up this interesting question for Mr. Porter--If President Bush decides for the U.S. to attack Iran, will the resulting attack also increase the gas prices here to $9.00 per gallon?

Olbermann's Dragnet on Senator Craig--Just the facts: This is just hilarious. Countdown's Keith Olbermann recreates Senator Larry Craig's bathroom crime, Dragnet-style, using the police report. From YouTube;

Tom DeLay talks about the Larry Craig scandal on the Today Show: Tom Delay appeared on the Today Show to talk to host Matt Lauer about the Larry Craig sex scandal. Delay is a disaster here. He blames the media for a double-standard on reporting Republican scandals, but not Democratic scandals--it's the liberal media and Democrat's fault! It is pretty disgusting when DeLay opens his mouth and fills the airways with his filth. Of course, I'll also say why did the Today Show even bring on DeLay to talk about this Larry Craig scandal, when DeLay himself is embroiled in his own corruption scandal and money laundering? From YouTube;

Of course, I love Melissa McEwen's unofficial transcript of Matt Lauer's interview with Tom DeLay;

LAUER: Blah blah Republican Scandal-a-thon 2007 blah blah.

DELAY: Democrats!!! SCREEEEEECH! The media!!! SQUAWWWWWK! Double-standard! BLARRRGGGHHH!

Perfectly sums it all up.

US gives consumers a day to discuss unsafe imports

I can't believe the hypocrisy of this Bush administration. Here is a short Reuters News story to read:

WASHINGTON, Aug 30 (Reuters) - The Bush administration will conduct a meeting this fall to hear Americans' advice on how to stem a wave of unsafe imports from China and other countries, officials said on Thursday.

The all-day meeting on Oct. 1 at the Agriculture Department in Washington is designed to gather suggestions about how the government and companies can better ensure the safety of imported food and other products.

U.S. consumers have been jarred in recent months by a spate of recalls of unsafe children's toys, chemical-laced toothpaste, and dangerous additives in pet food and seafood.

Most of the goods under scrutiny come from China. Beijing is taking steps to crack down on unscrupulous exporters, but it also is seeking to fend off some of the blame.

Bush's panel, headed by Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt and including officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the Food and Drug Administration, the Agriculture Department and other agencies, will present two reports this fall.

An Agriculture Department official said comments from October's meeting, made in person or teleconference, will contribute to the second report which will set out specific actions the government can take to safeguard against perilous products.

Comments can be submitted at or

We've got a national problem here--too many unsafe imports coming in from China! How do we resolve the problem? Obviously the Bush White House doesn't have a clue here, which is why they scheduling this special meeting between government officials and consumers on how to stem these unsafe products from entering the country. Sounds very serious, doesn't it?

Now let me point you to this July 27, 2007 CBS News story, titled Shrinking Consumer Agency Losing Ground:

(AP) The Consumer Product Safety Commission could soon shrink to the point where it can't effectively protect the public, veteran Commissioner Thomas Moore says.

Many employees at the agency responsible for overseeing the safety of many thousands of consumer products are looking for other jobs because "they have no confidence the agency will continue to exist — or will exist in any meaningful form," Moore said in a statement Thursday.

"The commission can either continue to decline in staff, resources and stature to the point where it is no longer an effective force in consumer protection," said Moore, "or with the support of Congress it can regain the important place in American society it was originally designed to have."

The number of full-time staffers has shrunk to about 400, less than half the size of the staff in 1980.


The agency also has been hampered by a vacancy on its three-member commission.

With only two of three commissioners, the agency had no quorum and has been unable to make rules about product standards, mandate recalls and assess civil penalties for the last six months.

Congress could soon restore those powers to the agency for a limited time despite the commission vacancy.

Bush's pick to head the safety commission, Michael Baroody, withdrew his nomination in May after strong opposition from some Senate Democrats because of his career as a manufacturers' lobbyist.

Do you see the contradiction here? The Bush administration is more than happy to strangle the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) so that the administration's corporate and manufacturing interests can sell cheap, unsafe products to American consumers for more profit. Look at who President Bush nominated to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission--a lobbyist for the manufacturing agency! Michael Baroody was a senior lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Baroody called for the weakening of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and President Bush was more than happy to install Baroody as head of the commission. Of course, it didn't help that Baroody was getting a $150,000 severance check from NAM for his services as a lobbyist, just before he had planned to take over as head of the CPSC. This scandal forced Baroody to withdrawal his nomination in May, 2007. And President Bush has yet to appoint a successor here. And why should he? If the Bush White House couldn't politicize the CPSC with the appointment of Baroody, then the next best alternative is to leave the agency hampered as it is. And manufacturers can continue flooding the U.S. market with unsafe products.

And it is not just the Consumer Product Safety Commission here. Consider what the Bush administration has done to the Food and Drug Administration. According to this Feb 26, 2007 ABC News story:

The federal agency that's been front and center in warning the public about tainted spinach and contaminated peanut butter is conducting just half the food safety inspections it did three years ago.

The cuts by the Food and Drug Administration come despite a barrage of high-profile food recalls.

"We have a food safety crisis on the horizon," said Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.

Between 2003 and 2006, FDA food safety inspections dropped 47 percent, according to a database analysis of federal records by The Associated Press.

That's not all that's dropping at the FDA in terms of food safety. The analysis also shows:

There are 12 percent fewer FDA employees in field offices who concentrate on food issues.

Safety tests for U.S.-produced food have dropped nearly 75 percent, from 9,748 in 2003 to 2,455 last year, according to the agency's own statistics.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the FDA, at the urging of Congress, increased the number of food inspectors and inspections amid fears that the nation's food system was vulnerable to terrorists. Inspectors and inspections spiked in 2003, but now both have fallen enough to erase the gains.

"The only difference is now it's worse, because there are more inspections to do more facilities and more food coming into America, which requires more inspections," said Tommy Thompson, who as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services pushed to increase the numbers. He's now part of a coalition lobbying to turn around several years of stagnant spending.

The Bush administration's budget request for 2008 includes an additional $10.6 million for food safety at the FDA; the lobbying group said 10 times that increase is needed. Even though the FDA increased its overall spending on food between 2003 and 2006, those increases failed to keep pace with rising personnel costs.

"It's not just outsiders like us who have been watching it for a while. People who worked in the Bush administration are coming out and saying the agency is not working at its current resource levels. It just can't manage the job," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group.


The United States last year imported about $10 billion more in food, feed and beverages than it exported, according to Census figures. Even as imports grow in volume and diversity, the number of FDA inspections is shrinking: agency inspectors physically examined just 1.3 percent of food imports last year, about three-quarters as much as in 2003.


A recent Government Accountability Office report noted that most of the $1.7 billion the federal government allocates to food safety goes to the Agriculture Department, which is responsible for regulating about 20 percent of the food supply. The FDA, responsible for most of the other 80 percent, gets about 24 percent of the total.

So while the U.S. is importing more food from abroad, the number of FDA inspectors have been shrinking. This is forcing the inspectors to inspect even less of the nation's food supply, causing a greater vulnerability to our food supply.

Let's also not forget who President Bush chose to serve as commissioner of the FDA:

President Bush nominated Andrew von Eschenbach to serve as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration yesterday, but a dispute over the “morning-after” pill all but ensures the nomination will go nowhere for months or even years.

A Bush family friend, von Eschenbach was appointed acting FDA commissioner in September when his predecessor abruptly resigned over financial disclosure problems.

Eschenbach also has some major connections with the Big Pharmaceutical companies, which brings up even more questions of whether Eschenback will protect the American public's health over that of the profits from Big Pharma.

Finally, I want to include this May 23, 2004 Denver Post article showing what happens when the Bush administration chooses industry lobbyists to become regulators:

WASHINGTON -- In a New York City ballroom days before Christmas, a powerful Bush administration lawyer made an unprecedented offer to drug companies, one likely to protect their profits and potentially hurt consumers.

Daniel E. Troy, lead counsel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, extended the government's help in torpedoing certain lawsuits. Among Troy's targets: claims that medications caused devastating and unexpected side effects.

Pitch us lawsuits that we might get involved in, Troy told several hundred pharmaceutical attorneys, some of them old friends and acquaintances from his previous role representing major U.S. pharmaceutical firms.

The offer by the FDA's top attorney, made Dec. 15 at the Plaza Hotel, took the agency responsible for food and drug safety into new territory.

"The FDA is now in the business of helping lawsuit defendants, specifically the pharmaceutical companies," said James O'Reilly, University of Cincinnati law professor and author of a book on the history of the FDA. "It's a dramatic change in what the FDA has done in the past."

Troy's switch from industry advocate to industry regulator overseeing his former clients is a hallmark of President Bush's administration.

Troy is one of more than 100 high-level officials under Bush who helped govern industries they once represented as lobbyists, lawyers or company advocates, a Denver Post analysis shows.

In at least 20 cases, those former industry advocates have helped their agencies write, shape or push for policy shifts that benefit their former industries. They knew which changes to make because they had pushed for them as industry advocates.

The president's political appointees are making or overseeing profound changes affecting drug laws, food policies, land use, clean-air regulations and other key issues.

Government watchdogs call it a disturbing trend, not adequately restrained by existing ethics laws.

Among the advocates-turned-regulators are a former meat-industry lobbyist who helps decide how meat is labeled; a former drug-company lobbyist who influences prescription-drug policies; a former energy lobbyist who, while still accepting payments for bringing clients into his old lobbying firm, helps determine how much of the West those former clients can use for oil and gas drilling.

"When you go to work in lobbying, it is clearly understood and accepted that your job is to advocate for the interests of those who hired you," said Terry L. Cooper, a University of Southern California ethics and government professor. "When you go to work in government, you are supposed to be responsible for upholding and maintaining whatever you can identify as the public interest."

The bottom line here is that the Bush administration was responsible for creating this entire mess of unsafe food and products getting into our market. The Bush White House is interested in only one thing--protecting their corporate and business masters, while providing them with a greater ability to rake in excessive profits at the expense, the health, and safety of the American public. The administration doesn't need to conduct this meeting with American consumers to decide how to improve the safety of imported products--just get rid of the industry lobbyists and corporate executives who are mis-regulating our government agencies, and start increasing the budgets of those agencies that protect us from unsafe food and product imports. And if the Bush White House balks at increasing the budget for these regulatory agencies...well...we can always take the $50 billion that President Bush wants to waste in the Iraq war, and use it to protect us from unsafe imported products.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Daily Headliners--The Larry Craig sex scandal all the time

For today's Daily Headliners, I'm going through a number of stories and postings on the Larry Craig sex scandal.

Men's room arrest reopens questions about Sen. Larry Craig: This is a major Idaho Statesman article a comprehensive investigation into allegations of homosexual behavior by Senator Larry Craig. According to the Statesman:

In an interview on May 14, Craig told the Idaho Statesman he'd never engaged in sex with a man or solicited sex with a man. The Craig interview was the culmination of a Statesman investigation that began after a blogger accused Craig of homosexual sex in October. Over five months, the Statesman examined rumors about Craig dating to his college days and his 1982 pre-emptive denial that he had sex with underage congressional pages.

The most serious finding by the Statesman was the report by a professional man with close ties to Republican officials. The 40-year-old man reported having oral sex with Craig at Washington's Union Station, probably in 2004. The Statesman also spoke with a man who said Craig made a sexual advance toward him at the University of Idaho in 1967 and a man who said Craig "cruised" him for sex in 1994 at the REI store in Boise. The Statesman also explored dozens of allegations that proved untrue, unclear or unverifiable.

There is a lot more here within the article.

3 GOP lawmakers call for Craig to resign: This MSNBC story is reporting that top Republican congressmen are calling for Senator Craig to resign. These three top Republicans are Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, Senator John McCain of Arizona, and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The Bush administration is being rather quiet on the entire issue. According to MSNBC:

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said, “We are disappointed in the matter,” without specifying exactly what was causing the discomfort.

It would appear that the GOP would love nothing more than to get rid of these scandals, so that they will not become another issue to drag the Republican Party down in the 2008 elections. If Craig refuses to resign, and stays in office through 2008, his police mug shot becomes the next poster child for the Republican Party's Culture of Corruption. And that is the last thing that the GOP wants in a 2008 presidential election, where their own party base is demoralized by the Bush administration scandals and the disaster in Iraq. What do you expect when "None of the Above" ends up leading the GOP nomination race for the White House?

GOP asks "What Next" in scandals: This New York Times story goes through listing the scandals that have plagued the Republican Party. But what is really incredible is this little quote by a Republican strategist on the latest Larry Craig sex scandal, and the previous scandals:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 — Scott Reed, a Republican strategist, was at a dinner in Philadelphia on Monday night when his cellphone and Internet pager began beeping like crazy. Only later did he learn why. His party was buzzing with news of a sex scandal involving a Republican United States senator — again.

Just when Republicans thought things could not get any worse, Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho confirmed that he had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct after an undercover police officer accused him of soliciting sex in June in a Minneapolis airport restroom. On Tuesday, Mr. Craig, 62, held a news conference to defend himself, calling the guilty plea “a mistake” and declaring, “I am not gay” — even as the Senate Republican leadership asked for an Ethics Committee review.

It was a bizarre spectacle, and only the latest in a string of accusations of sexual foibles and financial misdeeds that have landed Republicans in the political equivalent of purgatory, the realm of late-night comic television.

Forget Mark Foley of Florida, who quit the House last year after exchanging sexually explicit e-mail messages with under-age male pages, or Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist whose dealings with the old Republican Congress landed him in prison. They are old news, replaced by a fresh crop of scandal-plagued Republicans, men like Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, whose phone number turned up on the list of the so-called D.C. Madam, or Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska and Representative Rick Renzi of Arizona, both caught up in F.B.I. corruption investigations.

It is enough to make a self-respecting Republican want to tear his hair out in frustration, especially as the party is trying to defend an unpopular war, contain the power of the new Democratic majority on Capitol Hill and generate some enthusiasm among voters heading toward the presidential election in 2008.

“The real question for Republicans in Washington is how low can you go, because we are approaching a level of ridiculousness,” said Mr. Reed, sounding exasperated in an interview on Tuesday morning. “You can’t make this stuff up. And the impact this is having on the grass-roots around the country is devastating. Republicans think the governing class in Washington are a bunch of buffoons who have total disregard for the principles of the party, the law of the land and the future of the country.”

When a Republican strategist is attacking the Republican Party's political leaders as "buffoons," you know that the GOP is in real trouble here.

Craig quits Romney campaign post, removed from site: This little CNN Political Ticker story shows how GOP presidential Mitt Romney is treating Senator Craig as radioactive. On Monday, Craig resigned from his role as a co-Senate Liaison for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. But it turns out, that there is more here than a simple resignation from the Romney campaign. You see, the Romney campaign has pulled a video of Senator Craig from its YouTube website. In this video, Craig praised Romney for his "strong family values." The Romney campaign didn't like that, now when Craig was busted for soliciting gay sex in an airport men's room. The campaign changed the video to a "private" video on its site. A senior Romney campaign aid told CNN, "Once there was information about his resignation being imminent, there was no reason to have his prior testimonial still present on the site. Our communications shop removed it. We add and edit content all day long on our sites." Of course, there is just one problem for the Romney campaign--The Craig endorsement video still survives. From YouTube;

Americablog has more details on this story, including web snapshots of the YouTube site showing the Romney campaign removing this video.

Fifty-five percent of Idaho voters want Craig to resign: That is what Think Progress is reporting. ThinkProgress got their information through Survey USA. Thirty-four percent of Idaho voters say that Craig should remain in office.

Tucker Carlson says he assaulted man who made pass at him in restroom: I found this incredible story through Americablog. The source story is through Media Matters. On the August 28 edition of MSNBC Live, Tucker Carlson told host MSNBC general manager Dan Abrams he was solicited by another man for sex in a men's room in Washington D.C., and he returned with a friend to attack to attack that individual. Here is the transcript through Media Matters;

ABRAMS: But Tucker, your position has long been on these kinds of stories that their personal lives are not our business. Does this case qualify for that, in your mind, as well?

CARLSON: Let me be clear, Dan. I am not gay. I have never been gay. I overreacted and made a poor decision.

SCARBOROUGH: And you love your -- you love your wife, Tucker. Let me just say for the record, I am not gay, either.

CARLSON: Let me -- let me put it this way. Whether he's gay or not actually is not our business, and I do think it's indefensible that the newspaper in Idaho spent a year interviewing 300 people to answer the question, Is he gay? That's none of your business. Having sex in a public men's room is outrageous. It's also really common. I've been bothered in men's rooms. I think people who do -


CARLSON: Yeah, I have. You know what, Let me just say.

SCARBOROUGH: Wait, hold on a second. Dan, hold on a second. I don't mean to take over, but have you been bothered in public restrooms, Dan? Because I know I haven't.

CARLSON: I have. I've been bothered in Georgetown Park. When I was in high school.

ABRAMS: Really?



SCARBOROUGH: Was he the guy in Georgetown, Tucker?

CARLSON: No, actually. I got that -- my point is -- let me just say --

ABRAMS: Tucker, what did you do, by the way? What did you do when he did that? We got to know.

CARLSON: I went back with someone I knew and grabbed the guy by the -- you know, and grabbed him, and -- and --

ABRAMS: And did what?

CARLSON: Hit him against the stall with his head, actually!


CARLSON: And then the cops came and arrested him. But let me say that I'm the least anti-gay right-winger you'll ever meet --

You can watch the YouTube video of the entire exchange here:

Media Matters received the following statement from Tucker Carlson:

Let me be clear about an incident I referred to on MSNBC last night: In the mid-1980s, while I was a high school student, a man physically grabbed me in a men's room in Washington, DC. I yelled, pulled away from him and ran out of the room. Twenty-five minutes later, a friend of mine and I returned to the men's room. The man was still there, presumably waiting to do to someone else what he had done to me. My friend and I seized the man and held him until a security guard arrived.

Several bloggers have characterized this is a sort of gay bashing. That's absurd, and an insult to anybody who has fought back against an unsolicited sexual attack. I wasn't angry with the man because he was gay. I was angry because he assaulted me.

Excuse me, Tucker Carlson, but YOU ARE ONE STUPID, FRICKIN' IDIOT! Now I can understand that you had a right to defend yourself from this man, if he did physically grab you in the men's room in Washington D.C. You got away from that guy in the men's room. In fact, I can somewhat understand how you wanted to go back with a friend to find that guy--he assaulted your manlihood here! You were a dumb high school kid who didn't realize that you could have just left the entire incident afterwards, or perhaps called the police to report it, or even find a security guard to take to the restroom to arrest that individual. I'm not saying that what you did was right--you committed an assault against that individual. But I can somewhat understand your reasons for going back. You were young. You didn't know any better.

But what I do not understand is how you gleefully boast about this juvenile attack, while at the same time connect the entire gay society with this particular individual. Have you not learned any morals? You laugh and think it is so funny at how you and your friend ganged up to beat the crap out of this guy. You had a right to defend yourself for that first time when that individual supposedly grabbed you. You had no right to go back to assault that man--no matter how much of a slime he was. I would have expected you to realize that now as an adult. But apparently you have not learned anything here. You didn't recite this story in a subdued tone of a rational man who may have reflected on the incident and realized that you were wrong going back after that individual. You laughed at it. You have shown yourself to be a complete slimeball in your own chortle when you recited that story on television. Even worst, you have shown yourself to be a complete ass in your constant linking of the gay society with this incident--almost like all gay men solicit sex in the toilet! And as you descend into the gutter to sling this trash against the gay society, Mr. Carlson, you still have the hypocritical gall to state that you are not gay bashing. Mr. Carlson, you are the worst piece of hypocritical trash that is now on MSNBC.

Go back to the toilet!

Craig: I am not gay!

OH MY GOD! I just can't imagine the hypocrisy coming from Senator Larry Craig's mouth on this latest sex scandal. Craig gave a press conference Tuesday, which you can see here through YouTube:

Here is the press statement through Larry Craig's website:

"First, please let me apologize to my family, friends, staff, and fellow Idahoans for the cloud placed over Idaho. I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport. I regret my decision to plead guilty and the sadness that decision has brought to my wife, family, friends, staff, and fellow Idahoans. For that I apologize.

"In June, I overreacted and made a poor decision. While I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct at the Minneapolis airport or anywhere else, I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in the hope of making it go away. I did not seek any counsel, either from an attorney, staff, friends, or family. That was a mistake, and I deeply regret it. Because of that, I have now retained counsel and I am asking my counsel to review this matter and to advise me on how to proceed.

Excuse me Senator, why did you plead guilty to the charges of disorderly conduct? To make them go away??? It doesn't make sense--especially since you are a United States Senator, and that you should at least know the law. What were you thinking of--making it go away? Your excuse doesn't make any sense--unless you actually were trying to proposition an undercover police officer for sex, and got caught! The last thing you would want would be your image of a Republican "Family Values" crusader being destroyed by the revelations of your closet homosexuality. And you were trying to keep this conviction quiet.

Senator, I could care less if you had gay sex in public restroom, a gay bar, or even a hotel room in an orgy with multiple partners. The issue isn't whether you are gay or not. The issue here is the hypocrisy you present in attacking gay rights issues, while at the same time happily soliciting for gay sex in the airport men's room. It is this double-standard that has brought Republican congressmen down. As TPM Muckraker's Paul Kiel explains:

So what's the tally this year so far? Well, there is, of course, 1) Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) and 2) Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) with their sex scandals (the attempted restroom tryst and numerous successful hotel room trysts, respectively).

But then there's the much greater toll of just plain ol' corruption. 3) Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and 4) Rep. Don Young (R-AK) are under investigation for their ties to the oil company Veco (though that's just the tip of the iceberg for Young). 5) Reps. Tom Feeney (R-FL) and 6) John Doolittle (R-CA) have found themselves the focus of a reinvigorated Abramoff investigation (though Abramoff is in prison, he's still busily cooperating). 7) Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ) had his house raided. 8) The FBI is investigating Rep. Gary Miller's (R-CA) land deals.

And then there's 9) Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) whose land deal with a businessman and campaign contributor became such a scandal that she finally just sold back the plot of land.

(Update: Thanks to a TPM Reader for pointing out that I omitted 12) Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and 13) Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) in my original round-up. Both are facing ethics committee investigations for their calls last October to former U.S. attorney David Iglesias about his office's investigation of a state Democrat.)

It is a whole range of GOP scandals and corruption that probably goes back to when the Republicans took control of both houses of Congress in 1992, with Newt Gingrich's Contract with America. The corruption of this long-term Republican rule (yes, even with the Jim Jefford's political party switch in 2001) is now being revealed--especially the period when the Republicans had control of both Congress and the White House. And what we're seeing now from the GOP are denials and spin of this hypocrisy and double-standard from their members--just as Senator Larry Craig presented in his press conference.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Daily Headliners--Young voters hate GOP, Thompson campaign loses staffer

There are a couple of Daily Headliner stories to write about here, even with all the talk of Alberto Gonzales. So let's get started....

Poll: Young voters disenchanted with Republican party; I found this story through The Daily Kos, and in a sense I'm not surprised by it. From;

A Democracy Corps poll from the Washington firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner suggests voters ages 18 to 29 have undergone a striking political evolution in recent years.

Young Americans have become so profoundly alienated from Republican ideals on issues including the war in Iraq, global warming, same-sex marriage and illegal immigration that their defections suggest a political setback that could haunt Republicans "for many generations to come," the poll said.

The startling collapse of GOP support among young voters is reflected in the poll's findings that show two-thirds of young voters surveyed believe Democrats do a better job than Republicans of representing their views - even on issues Republicans once owned, such as terrorism and taxes.


Catherine Brinkman, 28, of Foster City, who heads the California Young Republicans, said she hears from many of her Republican friends who say, " 'Look at our (presidential) candidates compared to the Democrats: They have Hillary, everyone knows her ... and you have this phenomenal (senator) out of Chicago, who is African American and energized.' "

The perception is that "we're still selling the same old white guys," Brinkman said.

If there is anything that sums up the problems of the Republican Party, it is that the GOP is selling itself to old white guys. This GOP has sold itself to neocons dreaming of American imperialism, Corporations and rich elites dreaming of more economic power and money, and Christian evangelicals salivating at their wish of turning the U.S. into a Religious Right theocracy. There really is no place for anyone else in the Republican Party. And with the Bush administration pushing for the endless war in Iraq, it is no wonder that young people are deserting the Republican Party. I doubt that young people are going to the Democratic Party. I'd say that they are declaring themselves as independents, or are declining to state their party affiliation. We actually have three political parties here--Democrats, Republicans, and a potentially growing group of voters who belong to neither big party. The Republican Party is going to need to shed its "old white guy" image, otherwise there won't be anyone left in the GOP except old white guys.

More Staff Trouble in Thompson Campaign: This little Washington Post blog entry from The Fix reports more staffing problems for the Fred Thompson campaign:

Linda Rozett, the communications director for former Sen. Fred Thompson's (R-Tenn.) presidential bid, has left the campaign, according to an internal e-mail obtained by The Fix.

"It is my duty to let you know that Linda Rozett is no longer with our committee," wrote campaign manager Bill Lacy. "I will have to make a lot of tough decisions to make our venture successful, and this was one of them. Linda is a talented, professional and gracious lady who will be missed."

He added: "But in the limited amount of time we have I feel it critical to have a communications point person with significant campaign experience."

Rozett's departure follows that of press secretary Burson Snyder last week.

I seriously wonder if Fred Thompson's wife, Jeri Thompson, had something to do with Rozett's resignation Was there a catfight between Linda Rozett and Jeri Thompson?

GOP senator Larry Craig arrested for "lewd conduct" in airport men's room

This is just crazy! We've got another Republican embroiled in a sex scandal. I found this story on Americablog, Carpetbagger Report, and TPM Election Central. The original source of this story is from Roll Call:

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call Monday afternoon.

Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.

A spokesman for Craig described the incident as a “he said/he said misunderstanding,” and said the office would release a fuller statement later Monday afternoon.

After he was arrested, Craig, who is married, was taken to the Airport Police Operations Center to be interviewed about the lewd conduct incident, according to the police report. At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?” the report states.

Craig was detained for approximately 45 minutes, interviewed, photographed, fingerprinted and released, and police prepared a formal complaint for interference with privacy and disorderly conduct.

The details of Craig's "lewd conduct" are even more incredible. According to Roll Call:

According to the incident report, Sgt. Dave Karsnia was working as a plainclothes officer on June 11 investigating civilian complaints regarding sexual activity in the men’s public restroom in which Craig was arrested.

Airport police previously had made numerous arrests in the men’s restroom of the Northstar Crossing in the Lindbergh Terminal in connection with sexual activity.

Karsnia entered the bathroom at noon that day and about 13 minutes after taking a seat in a stall, he stated he could see “an older white male with grey hair standing outside my stall.”

The man, who lingered in front of the stall for two minutes, was later identified as Craig.

“I could see Craig look through the crack in the door from his position. Craig would look down at his hands, ‘fidget’ with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig would repeat this cycle for about two minutes,” the report states.

Craig then entered the stall next to Karsnia’s and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door.

“My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall,” Karsnia stated in his report. “From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me.”

Craig was wearing dress pants with black dress shoes.

“At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area,” the report states.

Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times, and Karsnia noted in his report that “I could ... see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider.”

Karsnia then held his police identification down by the floor so that Craig could see it.

“With my left hand near the floor, I pointed towards the exit. Craig responded, ‘No!’ I again pointed towards the exit. Craig exited the stall with his roller bags without flushing the toilet. ... Craig said he would not go. I told Craig that he was under arrest, he had to go, and that I didn’t want to make a scene. Craig then left the restroom.”

In a recorded interview after his arrest, Craig “either disagreed with me or ‘didn’t recall’ the events as they happened,” the report states.

Craig stated “that he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine,” the report states. Craig also told the arresting officer that he reached down with his right hand to pick up a piece of paper that was on the floor.

“It should be noted that there was not a piece of paper on the bathroom floor, nor did Craig pick up a piece of paper,” the arresting officer said in the report.

The Roll Call story reports that on August 8, Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in a Minnesota court. In October 2006, Craig's office denied allegations that Craig was a homosexual made on the gay web site TPM Election Central reports that Craig voted in favor of both an Idaho Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and last year's Federal Marriage Amendment.

Got to love them Republican Family Values here....

Update: CNN News' Situation Room is reporting that The Idaho Statesman will soon publish an investigative report on Senator Craig and these allegations of sexual misconduct.

Good Riddance

This is what The Washington Post's Andrew Cohen had to say about Alberto Gonzales' resignation:

When historians look back upon the disastrous tenure of Alberto R. Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States they will ask not only why he merited the job in the first place but why he lasted in it as long as he did. By any reasonable standard, the Gonzales Era at the Justice Department is void of almost all redemptive qualities. He brought shame and disgrace to the Department because of his lack of independent judgment on some of the most vital legal issues of our time. And he brought chaos and confusion to the department because of his lack of respectable leadership over a cabinet-level department among the most important in the nation.

He neither served the longstanding role as "the people's attorney" nor fully met and tamed his duties and responsibilities to the Constitution. He was a man who got the job not because he was supremely qualified or notably well-respected among the leading legal lights of our time, but because he had faithfully and with blind obedience served President George W. Bush for years in Texas (where he botched clemency memos in death penalty cases) and then as White House counsel (where he botched the nation's legal policy on torture).

For an administration known for its cronyism, and alas for an alarmingly incompetent group of cronies, Gonzales was the granddaddy of them all. He lacked the integrity, the intellect and the independence to perform his duties in a manner befitting the job for which he was chosen. And when he and his colleagues got caught in the act, his rationales and explanations for the purge of the U.S. Attorneys were so empty and shallow and incoherent that even the staunchest Republicans could not turn them into steeled spin. Devoid of any credibility, Gonzales in the end was a sad joke when he came to Capitol Hill.

Read the whole article--it is that incredible.

Video of Gonzales' resignation and President Bush's response

Here is the video of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' resignation on YouTube:

And here is President Bush's statement on Gonzales' resignation. From YouTube:

The Carpetbagger Report has an interesting take on President Bush's statement:

At one point, however, Bush’s tone and message became bitter, and he lashed out at those who subjected his dear friend to “months of unfair treatment.” The president added:

"It’s sad that we live in a time when a talented, honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons."

On their face, Bush’s comments are transparently dumb. Gonzales wasn’t “honorable”; he was a disgrace to himself and his office. Gonzales wasn’t “talented”; by his own admission, a variety of important Justice Department decisions were made with Gonzales barely aware of what was going on around him. His name wasn’t dragged through the mud “for political reasons”; it was dragged through the mud for legitimate reasons.

But there’s another, perhaps more subtle angle to the president’s comments this morning. Bush has said for months that he simply didn’t care whether Democrats, Republicans, the electorate, career DoJ officials, scholars, pundits, or anyone else supported Gonzales. He had one boss, who approved of his work. Nothing else mattered.

Today, however, by whining about “unfair treatment,” Bush was effectively conceding that Gonzales was hounded from office by scandal.

Carpetbagger contrasts President Bush's statement on Gonzales' resignation with Bush's statement on Karl Rove's retirement:

THE PRESIDENT: Karl Rove is moving on down the road. I've been talking to Karl for a while about his desire to spend more time with Darby and Andrew. This is a family that has made enormous sacrifices not only for our beloved state of Texas, but for a country we both love.

We've been friends for a long time, and we're still going to be friends. I would call Karl Rove a dear friend. We've known each other as youngsters interested in serving our state. We worked together so we could be in a position to serve this country. And so I thank my friend. I'll be on the road behind you here in a little bit. I thank Darby and I thank Karl for making a tremendous sacrifice, and I wish you all the very best.

It is a rather interesting contrast that Carpetbagger makes here. With Rove's retirement, President Bush was standing right next to Rove, supporting his retirement all the way. There was no bitterness with President Bush in that Karl Rove was leaving--Karl Rove was retiring. Karl Rove was leaving on his own terms. There was no mention of Rove's involvement in the various scandals of the attorney firings, voter fraud, missing emails, and such. Carpetbagger continues:

Contrast that with this morning. Bush was angry and annoyed. The president could have just as easily appeared alongside Gonzales this morning, and read the exact same comments from Rove’s resignation event, and the message and tone would have been positive.

But instead the president made a tacit admission: Gonzales’ scandals were too much to bear. He no longer had any credibility, and could no longer function in his job. Everything Bush had said about Gonzales not needing anyone else’s support turned out to be wrong.

The president and his team could have tried to spin it the other way — I’m genuinely surprised they didn’t give it a shot — but instead they did something unusual: they admitted defeat.

There may be more here than a simple Bush White House admission of defeat. This is an administration that has been fighting a delaying action against the scandals, the congressional investigations, and subpoenas, in order to run the clock down on Bush's term. As a result of this continued delaying fight by the administration, we've been seeing a number of experienced Bush officials leaving this past year. These are the veterans that have kept this Bush White House "staying the course" through all the scandals and problems this administration has created. These are the people who have been charged with protecting President Bush's failed "legacy" until after Bush leaves office in January 2009. And now we're seeing these veterans leaving now, 16 months before Bush can leave office. Carpetbagger is right, there is an element of this administration admitting defeat here. But there is also an element of lashing anger, like the leader of a childhood gang getting caught terrorizing others and then crying about how life is unfair when his own supporters abandon him to his punishment. Are we starting to see the emergence of this lashing, childish anger coming from President Bush as key staff members leave him to the fate of his own deteriorating presidency?

Monday Schoolhouse Rocks--The Shot Heard Around the World!

I'm thinking that in the light of the Gonzales' resignation, it is a good time to present a little Schoolhouse Rock revolution--The Shot Heard Around the World! We probably need a little revolt here in the country to throw out King George the Deciderer and his corrupt, GOP cronies. Music and lyrics are by Bob Dorough. From YouTube:

And the shot heard 'round the world
Was the start of the Revolution.
The Minute Men were ready, on the move.
Take your powder, and take your gun.
Report to General Washington.
Hurry men, there's not an hour to lose!

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigns

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigns. Here is the New York Times story on Gonzales' resignation:

WACO, Tex., Aug. 27 — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, announced his resignation in Washington today, declaring that he had “lived the American dream” by being able to lead the Justice Department.

Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation for months, submitted it to President Bush by telephone on Friday, a senior administration official said. There had been rumblings over the weekend that Mr. Gonzales’s departure was imminent, although the White House sought to quell the rumors.

Mr. Gonzales appeared cheerful and composed when he announced that he was stepping down effective Sept. 17. His very worst days on the job were “better than my father’s best days,” he said, alluding to his family’s hardscrabble past.

“Thank you, and God bless America,” Mr. Gonzales said, exiting without responding to questions.

Mr. Bush has not yet chosen a replacement but will not leave the position open long, the official said early this morning. Among those being mentioned as a possible successor were Christopher Cox, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and a former congressman; Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security who is a former federal judge; and Larry Thompson, a former deputy attorney general.


The official who disclosed the resignation in advance today said that the turmoil over Mr. Gonzales had made it difficult for him to continue as attorney general. “The unfair treatment that he’s been on the receiving end of has been a distraction for the department,” the official said.

A senior administration official said today that Mr. Gonzales, who was in Washington, had called the president in Crawford, Tex., on Friday to offer his resignation. The president rebuffed the offer, but said the two should talk face to face on Sunday.

A couple of comments on this story. The first would be that I love how the unnamed White House official is trying to blame the Democrats for the "unfair treatment" they gave to Gonzales, particularly with the U.S. attorney firings. In reality, it was Gonzales' incompetence and constant lying about the attorney firings in his testimony before Congress that caused his downfall. But what do you expect with a Bush White House that trumps politics and PR-spin above everything else?

And now for the Gonzales resignation. I think Gonzales realized it was time to leave. His constant lying to Congress in order to protect the Bush administration had destroyed his reputation, and his ability to work as the attorney general. In fact, I would say that it was just a matter of time before Congress would have started impeachment proceedings against Gonzales, as a result of all the lies Gonzales made before Congress. So Gonzales presented his resignation to President Bush on Friday. This probably threw the White House into a loop, since they were never expecting Gonzales to leave--President Bush had no intention of firing Gonzales. So what took place over the weekend was a lot of Bush White House scrambling to figure out who would be replacing Gonzales. Thus, the trial balloons suggesting Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff replacing Gonzales as attorney general. Of course, the congressional Democrats would never confirm Chertoff as attorney general, not when you consider Chertoff's own incompetence in this administration. But there is an interesting argument as to why Bush should either nominate, or recess appoint, Chertoff as attorney general. According to Matthew Yglesias:

Alberto Gonzales, the president's unloved Attorney-General, seems to have resigned. Conventional wisdom started to congeal over the weekend that for a replacement Bush was going to try to find a relatively uncontroversial figure who'd have an easy time getting confirmed.

That might happen, but my best guess is that Bush will go out of his way to pick somebody fairly controversial -- someone whose confirmation liberals will find outrageous -- and then start loudly and immediately declaring that each hour's delay in confirming his nominee is putting thousands of lives at risk. The hope would be to generate one of these situations where all the Republicans plus maybe a dozen Democrats vote to confirm, and then progressives spend the next month arguing with themselves over it, and even the Democrats who reliable agree to surrender on anything terror-related get criticized in fall '08 for being soft on terror.

Chertoff would be an excellent controversial figure for President Bush to select, and to generate another fight against the congressional Democrats. And Bush could use the White House PR-machine to complain that the Democrats are killing Americans by not selecting Chertoff as attorney general in order to fight against the terrorists. If there is one thing we've seen with this Bush administration, it is that they will never back down--never compromise on anything. Compromise, according to the Bush White House, makes you look weak. So a Chertoff nomination could be in the cards.

There is a problem for this Bush White House here--they need to have a loyal Bushie as attorney general. A loyal Bushie as attorney general can delay any calls, by the Democrats, for any Justice Department investigations into the Bush administration's involvement in the attorney firings or other scandals that have plagued this administration. A loyal Bushie as attorney general can delay the appointment of a special prosecutor in the U.S. attorney firings. The game here is for President Bush to run out the clock before any investigations take place on his administration's corruption. It is why Gonzales was a valuable ally for President Bush--Gonzales pledged loyalty to his master George W. Bush first. As long as Gonzales stayed on as attorney general, Bush could maintain political control of the Justice Department. But now that Gonzales has resigned, President Bush could find it hard to select any loyal Bushie that could be confirmed by the Democrats. Of course, President Bush could try a recess appointment for the attorney general spot, thus bypassing congressional confirmation, but I would suspect that such an act would create a huge outcry in Congress--perhaps by both Democrats and Republicans. Other than a lot of angry talk, I'm not sure how Congress would react to a brash, White House move.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday Morning Cartoons--Fractured Fairy Tales Puss In Boots

For today's Saturday Morning Cartoons, I found a real classic--Fractured Fairy Tales Puss In Boots. Fractured Fairy Tales was an animated short cartoon series that was shown in the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. At first each of the Fractured Fairy Tales was based on an original children's fairy tale, but I would imagine that the writers started making their own tales up soon afterwards. In all, 91 episodes of these tales were created. Each tale was narrated by Edward Everett Horton. And so here is one fun Fractured Fairy Tale, Puss In Boots. From YouTube:

I might have to put in a Rocky and Bullwinkle serial on here soon....

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Fun Stuff--The Hamster Dance verses The Spinning Hamsters

I've been browsing through YouTube here, and found an interesting little video reinventing the famous Hamster Dance. You should remember The Hamster Dance. It was a simple web page, created by Canadian art student Deidre LaCarte, showing four types of animated hamsters, repeating themselves in rows and rows, dancing to the Disney tune Whistle Stop. This simple webpage has become an incredible web fad.

Well, the Dancing Hamsters have never really gone away. I found this YouTube video of a Dancing Hamster Remix that is quite funny:

And not to be outdone, I've got a YouTube video of real hamsters showing their own incredibly spinning moves that almost places their animated counterparts to shame. Call them The Spinning Hamsters. Also from YouTube:

Which hamsters do you like?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bush White House manual instructs the art of "deterring potential protestors"

This was in the August 22, 2007 Washington Post:

A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of "deterring potential protestors" from President Bush's public appearances around the country.

Among other things, any event must be open only to those with tickets tightly controlled by organizers. Those entering must be screened in case they are hiding secret signs. Any anti-Bush demonstrators who manage to get in anyway should be shouted down by "rally squads" stationed in strategic locations. And if that does not work, they should be thrown out.

But that does not mean the White House is against dissent -- just so long as the president does not see it. In fact, the manual outlines a specific system for those who disagree with the president to voice their views. It directs the White House advance staff to ask local police "to designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed, preferably not in the view of the event site or motorcade route."

The "Presidential Advance Manual," dated October 2002 with the stamp "Sensitive -- Do Not Copy," was released under subpoena to the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of two people arrested for refusing to cover their anti-Bush T-shirts at a Fourth of July speech at the West Virginia State Capitol in 2004. The techniques described have become familiar over the 6 1/2 years of Bush's presidency, but the manual makes it clear how organized the anti-protest policy really is.

If there is one job that the Bush White House can do well, it is encapsulating the president into his own bubble. The key factor here is that the president does not see any dissent. What this says is that there is an incredible level of paranoia within the Bush administration staff to control not just every aspect of PR-spin and propaganda, but also control an audience of cheering supporters every time that President Bush makes an appearance--even though the poll numbers are showing the president in 29 percent job approval rating. Continuing with the WaPost story, there are some very interesting details on how the Bush staffers are to counter the dissenters:

The manual offers advance staffers and volunteers who help set up presidential events guidelines for assembling crowds. Those invited into a VIP section on or near the stage, for instance, must be " extremely supportive of the Administration," it says. While the Secret Service screens audiences only for possible threats, the manual says, volunteers should examine people before they reach security checkpoints and look out for signs. Make sure to look for "folded cloth signs," it advises.

To counter any demonstrators who do get in, advance teams are told to create "rally squads" of volunteers with large hand-held signs, placards or banners with "favorable messages." Squads should be placed in strategic locations and "at least one squad should be 'roaming' throughout the perimeter of the event to look for potential problems," the manual says.

"These squads should be instructed always to look for demonstrators," it says. "The rally squad's task is to use their signs and banners as shields between the demonstrators and the main press platform. If the demonstrators are yelling, rally squads can begin and lead supportive chants to drown out the protestors (USA!, USA!, USA!). As a last resort, security should remove the demonstrators from the event site."

Advance teams are advised not to worry if protesters are not visible to the president or cameras: "If it is determined that the media will not see or hear them and that they pose no potential disruption to the event, they can be ignored. On the other hand, if the group is carrying signs, trying to shout down the President, or has the potential to cause some greater disruption to the event, action needs to be taken immediately to minimize the demonstrator's effect."

The manual adds in bold type: "Remember -- avoid physical contact with demonstrators! Most often, the demonstrators want a physical confrontation. Do not fall into their trap!" And it suggests that advance staff should "decide if the solution would cause more negative publicity than if the demonstrators were simply left alone."

Something tells me we're going to see pages of this Bush manual showing up in the Romney and Giuliani campaign playbooks.

NHTSA places gag order on its entire agency

I found this on both Carpetbagger, and The Washington Monthly. The original source story is through The New York Times, and it is just bizarre:

If you want to know something as simple as who heads the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, don’t bother to ask the safety agency’s communications office. Without special permission, officials there are no longer allowed to provide information to reporters except on a background basis, which means it cannot be attributed to a spokesman.

Without such attribution, there are few circumstances under which most reporters will report such information. This makes for interesting dealings with the office charged with providing information about the nation’s top automotive safety agency.

So, I will end the suspense about the boss’s identity. The administrator is Nicole R. Nason, who took over on May 31, 2006, after she was appointed to the post by President Bush.

And it is she who put the big hush on one of the government’s most important safety agencies. I found this out recently when I asked to talk to an N.H.T.S.A. researcher about some technical safety issues in which he had a great deal of expertise. Agency officials told me I could talk to the expert on a background basis, but if I wanted to use any information or quotes from him, that would have to be worked out later with a N.H.T.S.A. official. The arrangement struck me as manipulative, and I declined to agree to it.

It seems that Ms. Nason has adopted a policy that has blocked virtually all of her staff — including the communications office — from providing any information to reporters on the record, which means that it can be attributed.

Nicole R. Nason took over as N.H.T.S.A. chief in 2006. (Photograph by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

As an alternative I was told I could interview Ms. Nason on the record (instead of the expert on the subject of my article). I declined, failing to see how her appointment as administrator — she was trained as a lawyer — made her a expert in that subject.

When I said I would like to talk to Ms. Nason on the record about her no-attribution policy, she was not available.

The agency’s new policy effectively means that some of the world’s top safety researchers are no longer allowed to talk to reporters or to be freely quoted about automotive safety issues that affect pretty much everybody.

“My God,” said Joan Claybrook, who was N.H.T.S.A. administrator from 1977 to 1981 and is now president of Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group. Given that N.H.T.S.A. is the leading source of automotive safety information in the United States, its researchers are public officials and people are entitled to “know what information they have, whether it is on paper or in their heads,” Ms. Claybrook said.

The policy of allowing information to be attributed only to political appointees is intermittently enforced around other parts of the Department of Transportation, including the Federal Railroad Administration. But it is a radical change from the way N.H.T.S.A has operated for at least 20 years. In the past, reporters could talk to its experts and the agency was proud to discuss its research and accomplishments.

Ms. Nason felt it was necessary for N.H.T.S.A. to have a “central spokesperson” and “we were finding a lot of stuff did not need to be on the record,” David Kelly, her chief of staff, told me. He also insisted, after our telephone conversation, that he did not want to be quoted and had intended to speak only on background. (My notes show no such request.)

What we have here is a Ministry of Truth within the N.H.T.S.A that is being run by a Bush political apointee, Nicole R. Nason. Any attributed information to reporters has to go through Nason, who would then determine whether the release of such attributed information will politically benefit the Bush administration. This is beyond any type of Bush PR-campaign here. This is a program of spoon-feeding reporters Bush administration talking points, and hoping that the reporters would regurgitate them in their media. Even more, I'm guessing that Nason imposed this gag order on N.H.T.S.A officials just after the Minneapolis bridge collapse, and the subsequent media reports revealing that 77,000 bridges that are rated by the federal government as "structurally deficient." This is the type of information that the Bush administration certainly doesn't want published in the media, not when you consider how the Bush White House has wasted over $1 trillion dollars in its disastrous war in Iraq--money that could have been used to repair this nation's bridges and infrastructure. I'm also wondering if this gag rule has been imposed to keep more information on this Minneapolis bridge disaster secret out of the fear of lawsuits initiated by the families who have suffered from this disaster. Either way, we can now rename The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to the Ministry of Truth.

Alabama Sex Toy Law - No Vibrators Allowed

I saw this through Shakesville, and I just can't believe it. Let's see if you can spot the absurdity in this story. From Yours

In Alabama, you can sell guns on any street corner but you can't sell sex toys.

That's right. Alabama is a vibrator-free state!

Well, technically you can go across state lines and buy sex toys in Georgia and Tennessee and carry them home. But the Alabama Legislature, in its infinite wisdom and in the spirit of protecting citizens from moral turpitude, a while back banned the sale of sex toys (or "marital aids" as some lawmakers coyly call them).

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court has shown a gleam of interest in this controversial state law, which has been challenged in Alabama courts by adult toy retailer Sherri Williams. She has been fighting the law for nearly 10 years.

Williams has been in district court three times on this issue and has won twice. But both times her victories were struck down by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. She filed a petition to the Supremes and has hired well-known First Amendment rights attorney Paul Cambria. Also joining in the appeal petition with Williams are the Free Speech Coalition and the First Amendment Lawyers Association.

(At the very least, this case seems to be a restraint-of-trade case as much as anything else, since the devices are sold in all the neighboring states. You'd think she would win on that, alone.)

Anyway, the Supremes have informed the state of Alabama that it must file an answering brief with the High Court, which is an indication that the case might be taken up in the next session.

It seems them Alabama boys can shoot their guns off anytime they want, but when it comes to the point where an Alabama woman wants to have a little fun with her vibrator--That's a NO! NO!

I wonder if the Supreme Court will allow the sale of Clarence Thomas patented vibrators in Alabama--Coke cans with pubic hairs on top?

Fundi Christians sending religious "freedom packages" to Iraq

This was in The Los Angeles Times:

Maybe what the war in Iraq needs is not more troops but more religion. At least that's the message the Department of Defense seems to be sending.

Last week, after an investigation spurred by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Pentagon abruptly announced that it would not be delivering "freedom packages" to our soldiers in Iraq, as it had originally intended.

What were the packages to contain? Not body armor or home-baked cookies. Rather, they held Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic and the apocalyptic computer game "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which "soldiers for Christ" hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers.

The packages were put together by a fundamentalist Christian ministry called Operation Straight Up, or OSU. Headed by former kickboxer Jonathan Spinks, OSU is an official member of the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program. The group has staged a number of Christian-themed shows at military bases, featuring athletes, strongmen and actor-turned-evangelist Stephen Baldwin. But thanks in part to the support of the Pentagon, Operation Straight Up has now begun focusing on Iraq, where, according to its website (on pages taken down last week), it planned an entertainment tour called the "Military Crusade."

Apparently the wonks at the Pentagon forgot that Muslims tend to bristle at the word "crusade" and thought that what the Iraq war lacked was a dose of end-times theology.

In the end, the Defense Department realized the folly of participating in any Operation Straight Up crusade. But the episode is just another example of increasingly disturbing, and indeed unconstitutional, relationships being forged between the U.S. military and private evangelical groups.

The LA Times article continues on, showing several more examples of this disturbing relationship between the Pentagon and these Christian fundamentalist groups. But there is an underlying danger here. This Bush administration has incorporated Christian fundamentalism within government policy, to the point of where the fundamentalists are shaping policy according to their religious views. We can see this type of religious extremism is imposed on such policies as abortion, gay rights, welfare, evolution, science, and now the military. It is almost like President Bush wants to have a civilizational clash with the Muslim world. And militant Islamics, such as Osama bin Laden are happy to oblige.

McConnell says FISA debate will kill Americans

I saw this through Carpetbagger, and I'm just amazed at the audacity of this Bush administration. This is a transcript of a question and answer session with National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, regarding the changes in the FISA law. The original source is through The El Paso Times:

Q: Even if it's perception, how do you deal with that? You have to do public relations, I assume.

A: Well, one of the things you do is you talk to reporters. And you give them the facts the best you can. Now part of this is a classified world. The fact we're doing it this way means that some Americans are going to die, because we do this mission unknown to the bad guys because they're using a process that we can exploit and the more we talk about it, the more they will go with an alternative means and when they go to an alternative means, remember what I said, a significant portion of what we do, this is not just threats against the United States, this is war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Q. So you're saying that the reporting and the debate in Congress means that some Americans are going to die?

A. That's what I mean. Because we have made it so public. We used to do these things very differently, but for whatever reason, you know, it's a democratic process and sunshine's a good thing. We need to have the debate. The reason that the FISA law was passed in 1978 was an arrangement was worked out between the Congress and the administration, we did not want to allow this community to conduct surveillance, electronic surveillance, of Americans for foreign intelligence unless you had a warrant, so that was required. So there was no warrant required for a foreign target in a foreign land. And so we are trying to get back to what was the intention of '78. Now because of the claim, counterclaim, mistrust, suspicion, the only way you could make any progress was to have this debate in an open way.

This is just WOW! What McConnell has just said is that ANY sort of debate within Congress on the FISA law, and perhaps the entire Bush domestic spying program on Americans, will cause Americans to die at the hands of the terrorists. Let me repeat that again--A debate in Congress on the changes in the FISA law will cause Americans to die in terrorist attacks. How much more insanely crazed and stupid can this statement be--especially when it is said by the National Intelligence Director? So congressional oversight into this Bush administration's entire secret domestic spying program on American citizens will kill American citizens because then the terrorists will know that the Bush administration is secretly spying on them.

I'm getting a headache here.

What is so insane here, and Carpetbagger noted this as well, is that if I am a reasonably intelligent al Qaeda terrorist, I would expect to know that the U.S. is listening in on cell phone conversations, tapping phone lines, conducting data mining operations, and even looking at bank and financial transactions. But McConnell is assuming that the al Qaeda terrorists are stupid in that they don't know that the Bush administration is conducting this massive intelligence gathering operation, and that if we reveal the details of the domestic spying programs to the American public, then the terrorists will know and they will resort to "alternative means," of communication--however you define "alternative means." Or what is worst is that McConnell is assuming that the American public are so stupid into believing the al Qaeda boogyman is about to strike at any time, so the Bush administration needs to take away Americans' rights to privacy and illegal searches and seizures in order to protect them from the evil terrorists. And in order to keep this domestic spying program in place, the Bush White House is again using fear--in this case, the fear of a congressional debate on FISA will kill Americans. This is not about fighting terrorists, or gathering intelligence on al Qaeda operations. It is about the Bush administration keeping their extreme police powers, and eroding American civil and constitutional rights to the state. This is just another example of the Bush PR-spin of fear on the American public.