Saturday, March 17, 2007

Getting Your Protest On

As we are forced to recognize the fourth anniversary of this ridiculous occupation in Iraq, thousands went to protest in our nation's capitol. As the conflict rages on approximately 500 miles to my east, I sent my prayers to those that were in D.C. that they could do some good for the nation and help drive the country's conscience to move quickly to end the sacrifice of our troops once and for all.

From the Huffington Post:

Thousands crossed the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial to rally loudly but peacefully near the Pentagon. "We're here in the shadow of the war machine," said anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan. "It's like being in the shadow of the death star. They take their death and destruction and they export it around the world. We need to shut it down."

Smaller protests were held in other U.S. cities, stretching to Tuesday's four-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion. In Los Angeles, Vietnam veteran Ed Ellis, 59, hoped the demonstrations would be the "tipping point" against a war that has killed more than 3,200 U.S. troops and engulfed Iraq in a deadly cycle of violence.

"It's all moving in our direction, it's happening," he predicted at the Hollywood rally. "The administration, their get-out-of-jail-free card, they don't get one anymore."

Other protests _ and counter-demonstrations _ were held in San Francisco, San Diego and Hartford, Conn., where more than 1,000 rallied at the Old State House.

Overseas, tens of thousands marched in Madrid as Spaniards called not only for the U.S. to get out of Iraq but to close the prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Smaller protests were staged in Greece and Turkey.

As the anti-war crowd swells in numbers across the country, the world continues to look on in sadness while continuing their own protests. The leaders of the Democratic Congress are now more vested in this struggle with the recent takeover on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately after nearly three months, nothing concrete has formed to stop Bush's illegal war. Of course there are plenty of Democrats that want to see the occupation end, but plenty of Representatives on both sides of the aisle prevail in continuing the spilt blood of our soldiers.

It is a sad day when you have to mark another anniversary of a conflict that has far exceeded the length of our involvement in WWII. We must not allow a 5th year to go by while we sit on our hands as the situation continues to spiral out of control.

Bill Maher Rocks!

Bill's message is self-explanatory. He talks about sacrifice and what it really means to do so.

From Crooks and Liars:

Last night's episode of Real Time was one of the best in the show's five season history, making the decision about which clip to post a tough one. After much deliberation, I finally decided on this: Wrapping up his "New Rules" segment, Bill sardonically shattered the "liberal" notion that President Bush hasn't asked us to sacrifice anything for the GWOT.

video_wmv Download (5792) | Play (5835) video_mov Download (2078) | Play (3546)

McCain Is Clueless On AIDS Prevention

The stories out of the McCain camp are continuously accelerating the demise of what was a front-runner for the GOP nomination for the 2008 Presidential campaign. Despite the losing strategy of pandering to social conservatives without gaining their acceptance of the 'straight-talk express,' this locomotive is barreling down the tracks toward the cliff. The latest story concerns AIDS and if condoms can help prevent the spread of the disease.

The answer to that question is a no-brainer for those that reside in the reality-based community. Apparently McCain has long since left our town and is now in whacko-land. Not only does he waver on funding AIDS prevention in Africa, he is completely clueless when it comes to the disease itself.

From The Caucus:

Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”

Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”

Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”

Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”

This cut-out of the transcript shows McCain is an utter buffoon when it comes to sex education. He probably knows the truth in my opinion, yet can not give a coherent and honest answer because he feels that he might alienate part of the Republican base that only cares about abstinence. McCain has clearly lost any sense of principles when it comes to positions. One can only hope that he is a lost cause, not only for the Presidency but even for a shot at becoming the Republican nominee.

Bongs Divide Bush And The Religious Right

Normally the Bush Adminstration and the religious right are allies on a whole host of social issues. From gay marriage to abortion, the two are a powerful duo in today's activist government that protrudes into American's personal lives. However, there is a discrepancy now when it comes to free speech and religion.

Five years ago as the Olympic torch made its way to the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, a young man held up a sign in the crowd that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." The principal of the kid's school forced him to take the sign down and suspended him for 10 days. The young man who held the sign up, Joseph Frederick took the case to court and has won many court decisions so far. Now it has made its way to the Supreme Court. What was a prank is now a major political issue and plenty of politicos have taken sides. Even George Bush has gotten involved.

From The New York Times:

The Bush administration entered the case on the side of the principal and the Juneau School Board, which are both represented by Kenneth W. Starr, the former solicitor general and independent counsel. His law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, is handling the appeal without a fee. Mr. Starr and Edwin S. Kneedler, a deputy solicitor general who will present the government’s view, will share argument time on Monday. The National School Board Association, two school principals’ groups, and several antidrug organizations also filed briefs on the school board’s side.

While it is hardly surprising to find the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Coalition Against Censorship on Mr. Frederick’s side, it is the array of briefs from organizations that litigate and speak on behalf of the religious right that has lifted Morse v. Frederick out of the realm of the ordinary.

The groups include the American Center for Law and Justice, founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson; the Christian Legal Society; the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization based in Arizona that describes its mission as “defending the right to hear and speak the Truth”; the Rutherford Institute, which has participated in many religion cases before the court; and Liberty Legal Institute, a nonprofit law firm “dedicated to the preservation of First Amendment rights and religious freedom.”

Here we have a case where the religious freedom of Joseph Frederick and many others that are yet to be determine hang in the balance. George Bush wants to limit this freedom because he apparently sees it as an affront to 'politically correct' (his politics of course) speech. Libertarians and progressives want to continue the nation's long standing ideals for freedom of religion no matter what the nuances of the particular case are. Despite the conservative make-up of the court, it is in the best interest of the country to find for Joseph Frederick, the Bill of Rights and somewhat surprisingly, the leaders of the religious right.

Who Says Prison Is A Lonely Place?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bruno The Communicator

Joe Bruno is a lot of things, but a 'communicator' he is not. To me he is a corrupt NY legislator that uses his office for political favors, enriching his own pocketbook and when it comes to serving his constituents, he only cares for those that can scratch his back in return. So when I read that Joe is frustrated over what the media reports, I laughed out loud.

From Politics on the Hudson:

Besides being a politician, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno said today that he considers himself “a communicator.’‘

And that, he said, is a frustrating business. “It’s not what I say, it’s what you hear,’’ Bruno told reporters, citing a book by GOP communications powerhouse Frank Luntz that claims that more often than not, an audience doesn’t hear what a speaker is trying to get across.

“It’s not what I say, it’s what you hear,’’ he said. “Seventy percent of what you communicate, people don’t hear it.’‘

The self proclaimed "calm, cool, collective guy" is furiously trying to spin his image while the world around him caves in. Being under federal investigation for all of his corruptive practices must be wearing on him and this could be one of his last attempts at trying to salvage his tainted public appearance. When you have to quote Frank Luntz, things must be really bad in Bruno-land.

Jerusalem Scene

One great thing about Jerusalem's traffic is that it vanishes on Friday night and Saturday. Finding my cousin's house was made much easier with hardly any cars barreling down the streets. Speaking of the streets and the city, here are some pics from my week here in the City of Gold.

Like New York and other metro areas, it is always good to know what's going on

Near the Old City on King David St.

And here we have the King David Hotel.

The clock tower of the YMCA building at night.

Green, Pink and Politics on Parade

St. Patrick's Day is huge in quite a few cities, Chicago, Boston, Philly and definitely here in New York. What comes to mind first off is a drunken mess that mostly merry until who knows what happens, ending with hangovers galore. Unfortunately when it comes to the big parade, politics rears it's ugly head.

From The Empire Zone:

This year’s main parade controversy involves the decision of the parade’s planning chairman, John Dunleavy, to move the firefighters to the middle of the parade — from their place of honor in the front — reportedly because they held up the parade last year, and because they showed up drunk. If he doesn’t relent, Mr. Dunleavy could very well be facing the jeers of a boo coalition organized by a city councilman.


Last year, Mr. Dunleavy wouldn’t let the speaker — a lesbian — wear a pink pin when she marched, so she’s taking 80-year-old father and her partner, Kim Catullo, to a more inclusive parade in Dublin. The Intelligencer asked the 100 percent Irish speaker what she’d be wearing:

I’ll wear pins with the crossed flags of the U.S. and Ireland, an apple to symbolize New York City, and the symbol of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization. I’m clearly going to be over-accessorized.

She adds that “the history of Ireland is a struggle for people to be who they are, and that I’m not going to march in a manner that denies who I am.”

Good for you Madame Speaker, never let anyone tell you what you are and what you can wear. Dunleavy might want to live in earlier, more restrictive times but this is 2007.

Art Imitating Life: Faux News Style

The cat is out of the bag on the Fox Noise Channel. When the Simpsons can make fun of something, you know your number is just about up. Memo to Fox, stop pretending you are a real news outlet, that crap just doesn't fly anymore.

It's Getting Hot In Here

As someone who likes to debate the news of the day there are few topics that I like to digress from. So when someone tells me that the issue of climate change is still in the air, it irks the hell out of me. Some people (Republicans mainly) just can't come to terms with the FACT that the planet is warming up and erratic weather is becoming more and more commonplace. Here in Jerusalem just yesterday, it snowed in the morning, became sunny, then it sleeted, became sunny again for a bit before a massive thunderstorm came upon us.

Of course one example from Israel does not prove anything. It is the overall weather patterns that are slowly but surely changing for the worse. NOAA reported today that the Northern Hemisphere recorded its warmest winter ever since records were kept in 1880. Despite a few chilly months where I am normally at in the Northeast, the weather has been very mild if not downright hot (Remember that day in January when it hit 70?).

Here are the facts:

A record warm January worldwide pushed average temperatures to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit (0.72 degrees Celsius) above normal for the 20th century, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

It was the highest average temperature for the December-February period since records began in 1880, the NOAA, said in a report released Thursday.

The report came less than a month after a UN panel said that global warming was almost certainly caused by human activity and several governments and international bodies have sounded the alarm over the need to cut carbon emissions.

Experts say that the El Nino phenomenon played only a small part in the record-breaking warmth. In fact, most of the conditions for El Nino dissipated in early January. The 'Inconvenient Truth' is that the heating of our planet is occurring at increasing levels and the need for change becomes more pressing by the day. Bush refused to ratify Kyoto when he took office and his proponents often whine that other countries didn't ratify it either. Whenever someone says that to me, I always respond with: "If your neighbor left a trashpile in his backyard, would that give you the excuse to do the same with yours?" The fact is, we need to take responsibility for our share of the damage being done to Earth. We claim to be a world-leading is time to lead by example.

Gonzales' Days Are Numbered

It is hard to tell exactly when we will hear the words of resignation and Bush's dismay at his boy leaving the Attorney General's post, but it now seems like fate. When the netroots clamors for his impeachment, we know that his actions warrant punishment. When the media talks about it, politicians ears' perk up and begin strategizing. And when Republicans call for one of their own to step down, major action is imminent.

With the prosecutor purge scandal staying in broad daylight for many days now Gonzales is starting to sweat bullets. He already changed his story from trying to dismiss the matter as being overblown to 'taking responsibility.' Now that Republicans are echoing Democratic calls for his resignation (I'd rather hear about impeachment) Bush is going to have to find a replacement for Alberto.

From the Huffington Post:

Two more Republican congressmen called for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's replacement on Thursday. Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) "suggested that it would be helpful to have an attorney general that Congress could have more confidence in," his spokesman said. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said, "Even for Republicans this is a warning sign ... saying there needs to be a change. Maybe the president should have an attorney general who is less a personal friend and more professional in his approach."

Senator John Sununu called for President Bush to fire Gonzales on Wednesday.

Read the entire Smith article here.

Read the entire Rohrabacher article here.

While the list of Gonzales' critics grow, he may not stay alone inside the ring of fire. There are growing reports that Karl Rove is more involved in this debacle than the White House lets on. Fortunately there are plenty of people that are willing to sing the tunes of justice that makes George Bush and his Adminstration cringe.

Brazilian Commentary On Bush


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Chiquita Banana Lady Is A Terrorist

The dancing woman with the fruit on her head isn't as innocent as you think. It turns out that Chiquita is a terrorist supporter, to the tune of $1.7 million dollars. Ok so it isn't her but the company has been found to have paid off U.S.-identified terror groups. The money went to the AUC in Colombia, a group that has committed terrible atrocities in the highly unstable region.

From the Huffington Post:

In court documents filed Wednesday, federal prosecutors said the Cincinnati-based company and several unnamed high-ranking corporate officers paid about $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known as AUC for its Spanish initials.

The AUC has been responsible for some of the worst massacres in Colombia's civil conflict and for a sizable percentage of the country's cocaine exports. The U.S. government designated the right-wing militia a terrorist organization in September 2001.

Prosecutors said the company made the payments in exchange for protection for its workers. In addition to paying the AUC, prosecutors said, Chiquita made payments to the National Liberation Army, or ELN, and the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, as control of the company's banana-growing area shifted.

In a violent area like the banana-growing region of Colombia, paramilitary groups are constantly at war and corporate money is a sizeable income in order to pay for weapons. The protection money ended up costing the company a lot more than they thought. Their settlement with the Justice Department wound up at $25 million dollars. The company's attorneys advised corporate executives not to make those payments, yet they did so anyway according to court documents. Chiquita thought their problems had ended when they sold their Columbia division three years ago, but now it has come back to bite them and the taste does not come close to a ripe banana.

The iRack

Kudos to MadTV for this skit, featuring 'Steve Jobs' newest creation, the iRack:

Leahy To Go After Gonzales

Finally the day has come where the checks and balances in our government are being put back into place. After Gonzales denied and testified under oath to Congress that there was no politics involved when the DoJ fired 8 attorneys, it seems there will be payback. That payback will be in the form of Congressional oversight and subpoenas from the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

From Senator Leahy:

“The White House and the Attorney General have dodged Congress’s questions and ducked accountability as if they still were dealing with a rubberstamp Congress. They are discovering that those days are gone.

“I am outraged that the Attorney General was less than forthcoming with the Senate while under oath before the Judiciary Committee. It is deeply disturbing that this plan appears to have originated from high-ranking officials at the White House and executed in secret with a complicit Department of Justice.

“This is not how justice is served, nor is it how our system of checks and balances is designed to work. It is an abuse of power committed in secret to steer certain outcomes in our justice system, and then to dust over the tracks. The President of the United States and the Attorney General are responsible for setting the moral standard for this Administration. Apparently this matter does not bother them but it does bother me, and we will summon whoever we need in our hearings to get to the bottom of this.”

That is exactly what we need to hear from the Democratic majority. You know that Arlen Specter would have never acted in such a diligent matter and it is only because the Democrats are back in charge that we are seeing the possibility of justice being served on Gonzales and the Department of Justice.

Time For Drudge To Bury Himself In The Muck

The Drudge Report, in all fairness has broken some credible stories in it's day. Now however that day has passed us by long ago. His latest article claiming that Bush's surge has dramatically cut U.S. troop fatalities is hogwash at best. When you glance at the all-powerful link where Matt Drudge found his 'fact' concerning the numbers, it is easy to dismiss it as garbage.

From Attytood:

"Any legitimate news that U.S. troop deaths are sharply down, in a way that is statistically significant, would be welcomed with open arms by all," says Will Bunch, a senior Philadelphia Daily News writer, at his blog Attytood.

"Matt Drudge is running what purports to be just such a story on the top left of his incredibly influentual Web site right now as I write this," Bunch continues. "The headline reads: 'Baghdad security crackdown seriously curbs killings of US soldiers...'"

He invites readers to check the source of Drudge's link. "The article is not from a credible, independent media outlet," he continues, "but from the Kuwait News Agency (or KUNA). Kuwait is still America's biggest ally in the Gulf (for obvious reasons) and so the source of the story is a huge tell here."

The statistics are not even close to being credible. KUNA is obviously an extension of our own government's propraganda and as Will Bunch said, ""If Matt Drudge really rules their world it's time for a revolution."

More Snow

I thought it was over early this morning, but around 11am this morning (local time) it started again:

President Hillary Would Continue The War

This woman is truly unbelievable. Her positions maybe be principled but they have nothing to do with my principles and the majority of this country. Recently she said she wouldn't have voted for the war if 'she knew now what she didn't know then' but did not apologize for her vote. Personally I find it hard to believe that such a smart person could not have used common sense when the initial vote came up and saw through Bush's lies, but that's just me.

Now the facts are on the table for all to see and most Americans want out of Iraq ASAP. Unfortunately, Hillary wants to keep troops there not just this year, not just next year, but into 2009 and possibly beyond on a more limited basis.

From the NY Times:

Mrs. Clinton’s plans carry some political risk. Although she has been extremely critical of the Bush administration’s handling of the war, some liberal Democrats are deeply suspicious of her intentions on Iraq, given that she voted in 2002 to authorize the use of force there and, unlike some of her rivals for the Democratic nomination, has not apologized for having done so.

Senator Clinton’s proposal is also likely to stir up debate among military specialists. Some counterinsurgency experts say the plan is unrealistic because Iraqis are unlikely to provide useful tips about Al Qaeda if American troops end their efforts to protect Iraqi neighborhoods.

But a former Pentagon official argued that such an approach would minimize American casualties and thus make it easier politically to sustain a long-term military presence that might prevent the fighting from spreading throughout the region.

I don't know about you, but a long-term military presence in Iraq is the exact opposite of what American foreign policy in the Middle East should look like. We need to get out of there and stop acting like everyone's big brother or schoolyard bully. It would be a smart move to look inward and fix the problems at home before we stay on the road that has weakened our military and our worldwide image. Bush has done enough damage, the next President (hopefully a Democrat) should start repairing it.

Yerushalim Snow!

Boker Tov everyone, I woke up this morning, having left a relatively mild New York to come to the city of Gold, but found a whole lot of white!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Colbert Justifies The Prosecutor Purge

According to Colbert, the reason there were more Democrats under review by federal prosecutors by more than 4 to 1 was because its the party on the left that is more corrupt. Forget the criminals like Abramoff, Ney, Foley and Cunningham. Those were mere abnormalities. Dr. Donald Shields is a guest on the show to add a dose of reality to the show:

Another New Orleans Atrocity

Can you be shocked yet not surprised at the same time? Well test your brain on this story. The government hurried to try and restore the flood pumps in New Orleans before the commencement of the 2006 hurricane season. In the rush, the Army Corp of Engineers installed defective pumps around New Orleans that were predicted to fail based on internal tests. Thankfully the season did not produce any storms that caused any damage or even did a real-life test for the pumps. Nevertheless, why would the pumps be installed in the first place?

Maybe it has something to do with the politically connected MWI:

MWI is owned by J. David Eller and his sons. Eller was once a business partner of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a venture called Bush-El that marketed MWI pumps. And Eller has donated about $128,000 to politicians, the vast majority of it to the Republican Party, since 1996, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

MWI has run into trouble before. The U.S. Justice Department sued the company in 2002, accusing it of fraudulently helping Nigeria obtain $74 million in taxpayer-backed loans for overpriced and unnecessary water-pump equipment. The case has yet to be resolved. [Details here]

Partnered with Jeb Bush while being investigated by the government...that must be a coincidence, right? Of course for us with common sense, it is easy to see that this is one more tragedy piled on top of the rest where money and power come before people and fairness.

Bill Maher Discusses Scooter's Verdict

Following a definitive week that produced a convicted felon from high a top the Bush Adminstration pyramid, Bill Maher and friends weighed in on the verdict.

More Dishonesty From The NY Statehouse: IRS Steps In

NY State Legislators are notorious for dipping their hands in the taxpayers cookie jar. Usually it works by writing favors into law and giving government contracts to their friends favorite donors. Now it seems that our representatives up in Albany are trying to short the state by taking inappropriate tax deductions on their income.

Apparently a $79,500 base salary is not enough for them while they work a few months out of the year. Technically they can take deductions for business expenses for up to 122 days, in reality deductions are being taken for well over 200 days.

From the NY Post:

ALBANY - State lawmakers could be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars each in back taxes for wrongly claiming deductions related to their job, sources said.

In a letter that has sent shivers through the entire Legislature, the IRS recently formally alerted lawmakers of the problem.

Lawmakers were given 45 days to review their 2004 and 2005 returns and repay any amounts owed without penalty.

Under federal law, legislators are able to take a deduction for "ordinary and necessary business expenses" each day while away from home for the legislative session.

Technically, the Legislature gavels into session each day whether lawmakers convene or not.

Bush Cares About Latin America

Jeers to Bush's critics that he doesn't care about our Latin American neighbors. Isn't a trip of about a week or so enough to show that Bush really loves all our friends in the Americas. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach and Bush's stomach is clamoring for some good old latin cooking all over the place.

From the Huffington Post:

It began with Bush's first event in his first country, when he and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva celebrated a new ethanol alliance.

"I appreciate the fact that you're about to buy me lunch," Bush told Silva. "I'm kind of hungry. Looking forward to eating some of that good Brazilian food."

In Uruguay, at a news conference with President Tabare Vazquez, Bush said he couldn't wait to dig into some Uruguayan beef _ something the tiny nation wants to sell more of to the United States.

"You've told me all along how good it is, and after we answer a few questions, we're about to find out," Bush told his host, later praising the country's abundant blueberries, too.

In Colombia, part of Bush's agenda included time with locals growing crops as alternatives to the illegal coca from which cocaine is made. The vendors' stalls were filled with honey, chocolate and coffee.

Next came Guatemala, where Bush hauled some lettuce onto a truck _ something he later called "one of the great experiences of my presidency."

"I'm looking forward to the dinner that you're hosting for Laura and me," Bush told Guatemalan President Oscar Berger in another news conference. "I'm not going to talk too long because I might get too hungry."

Later, Bush's stomach was either really growling _ or it was a ruse to end the questioning. He signaled an end to the joint appearance by asking Berger what was on tap for dinner.

"We have tortillas with guacamole and beans," Berger assured him.

Others didn't care for his visit, like Gerardo Fernandez of the Mexican DRP. He brought Bush a bag of toy soldiers so that the Decider could play war. Unfortunately he wasn't allowed into the festivities in Merida, so he just threw the toys over a security fence while Bush dined on guacamole and beans.

So much food, so little time. Perhaps the President will take doggie bags back with him to the White House. When it comes to crafting policies like CAFTA, it takes a full stomach to screw over all the people you claim to care about.

Proof Of Fox Being 'Fair and Balanced'

Damn those liberals who try and call out Fox News as being propraganda for the right. It, it, it just isn't true. If Roger Ailes says that I can decide after he reports, it must be true. Right? Just look at all the proof below:

fox-caption4.jpg fox-caption5.jpg
fox-caption1.jpg fox-caption3.jpg

fox-caption2.jpg fox-caption6.jpg
fox-caption8.jpg fox-caption9.jpg
fox-caption10.jpg fox-caption7.jpg
What? You want more?

Evangelicals Declare War On The War On Terror

The group that has touted and supported Bush for so long have finally started to turn their back on his failed policies, including the war on terror. The National Association of Evangelicals represents nearly half of the approximate 60 million Americans that consider themselves Evangelicals. Their decision to go against the war is a signal that they will not stand idly by as Bush trampels on their principils of non-violence after only paying mock tribute to their socially conservative stands on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

From Reuters:

"United States law and military doctrine has banned the resort to torture or cruel and degrading treatment. Tragically, documented cases of torture and inhumane and cruel behavior have occurred at various sites in the war on terror," the National Association of Evangelicals said in a statement.

"Current law opens procedural loopholes for more to continue," said the statement endorsed by the association's board of directors at its annual meeting in Eden, Minnesota, over the weekend. It was the first big NAE meeting since its former president Ted Haggard stepped down in November over a gay-sex scandal.

Evangelical Christians have been among the staunchest supporters of the U.S. war in Iraq and the broader war on terror and many rankle at criticism of the American military which they see as unpatriotic and even un-Christian.

Now the internal fight will further the schisms in the religious right and conservatism as a whole. For a while the divide began between fiscal and religious conservatives, now the cracks are opening up in brand new areas. The increase in ad hominem attacks is predicted to reach record heights as the ad hominem masters turn in on themselves. This battle should be entertaining to say the least as feelings get hurt and the anger of the 'pious' right shows its ugliness inward.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Even Less Accountability For Halliburton

Over the last few years Halliburton has grown increasingly wealthy from billions in Iraq war contracts. They have been paying taxes on this revenue as a Houston-based company, but that is soon to change. Evidently it is much cheaper to do business out of Dubai where the company can be much closer to all the 'action' that it helps create.

DOJ Sues NYC For Those That Do Not Paint Bridges

Painting the city's bridges is a huge job. Several sites around the five burroughs constantly need to be painted due to the constant battering from the elements. Unbeknowist to many, none of these bridges have ever been worked on by women and now the Department of Justice is suing the city because of it. Why would the city exclude women from such an interesting job? Well its because the exams required to become one of the exclusive set of painters hasn't been held in years.

From the Gothamist:

The Department of Justice is suing the city's Department of Transportation, but not over traffic or accidents. The lawsuit claims the DOT has never ever hired a female bridge painter. Apparently the DOT has not given a civil service exam for bridge painting since 1992 and the DOJ claims the city has "evaded" the process by hiring temporary painters. From the city's Civil Service website:
The City fills many of its positions through the Civil Service Process -- a process guided by the New York State Civil Service Law. The law is in place to help ensure that the hiring process is competitive and fair. Generally, the City uses examinations to measure a potential candidate's "merit" and "fitness" for the particular position. Taking an examination is the start of the hiring process that may lead to you getting a job with the City.

After each exam, the City establishes an "eligible to hire" list. This list consists of all candidates who pass the exam by rank order and is available to each City agency with open positions in the corresponding title. Candidates are contacted for interviews as the needs of these agencies require. New York State Civil Service Law requires agencies to review the top three scorers remaining on the list for appointment to a vacant position, a procedure known as the One-in-Three rule. Usually a list is active for four years.

This is definitely an open and shut case. The city must comply with the DOJ and administer the tests that can allow diversity for this very distinct public job.

Nobody's Talking

One of the biggest underlying problems in Iraq when it comes to the occupation is that we can not communicate with Iraqis. They do not understand our troops because no one is talking to them in their own language. Fear of the other side continues to jump to all time highs and nothing is being done about it. Dustin Langan was one of those linguists sent to Iraq, but he left because of the army's failure to implent an effective policy in opening up a dialogue on the streets. He told Radar Online that nothing got done over there because the people hired to do the jobs had nothing to do.

From Radar Online:

The lack of Arabic translators in Iraq appears to stem from a Bush Administration decision to outsource translation services to private contractors. Called "linguistic support," these companies, two of the largest of which are Titan Corporation and DynCorp International, have received billions of dollars to provide language interpreters to the Iraq reconstruction effort. But many of the supposed "translators" sent to Iraq were untrained, had poor language skills, or couldn't speak Arabic at all. In many cases the contractors appear to have conducted no screenings or interviews with prospective translators. And Titan Corporation interpreters are accused of involvement in two cases of prisoner abuse in Iraq and one case of espionage at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

For an inside look at the U.S.'s failure to communicate, Radar spoke with Dustin Langan, who worked as a translator in Iraq for defense contractor MZM Incorporated for 11 months between 2003 and 2004. Later, MZM's CEO at the time, Mitchell Wade, pleaded guilty to bribing then-Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) in exchange for access to no-bid contracts with the Pentagon. Langan, for his part, worked as an interpreter for U.S. and coalition officials in Iraq at mass gravesites, in interview rooms of the doomed "de-Baathification" process, and throughout the city of Baghdad. He left Iraq in 2004, wrote a satirical novel based on his experience, and now works as a linguistics consultant in Barcelona, Spain.

Read the rest of the article for the entire interview. It provides good insight into the failures that linguists faced and the absurdity of hiring Iraqis off the street. Hundreds of Iraqis were hired simply for knowing some english. Langan said that knowing the two languages is hardly enough to act as a translator between to different worlds that were smashed into each other by Bush's decision to occupy Iraq.

Andrea Mitchell: Absolutely Clueless

Members of the traditional media generally make blunders when it comes to reporting the straight truth. NBC's Andrea Mitchell is certainly no exception. Her news report descended into a speculative tale about the future pardoning of Libby. Her most outrageous statement however, had to be this one:

"They're going to try to really tamp this down and appeal to the polling which indicates that most people think, in fact, that he should be pardoned. Scooter Libby should be pardoned."

I'm not sure what poll she is reading, but according to CNN only 18 percent of the country wants to see that convicted felon get himself a Presidential pardon. Last time I checked 'most people' usually connotates a percentage that is at least above 60 percent, if not more. Perhaps if you poll the DC cocktail party circuit your investigations may prove otherwise but really, who cares about the Joe Klein's of the world anymore. These pundits are losing their power by the day.

Catch the video at C & L here.

Reality Shows Meet The Oval Office

From YouTube poster 'Current', this Super News production spins 'reality shows' into the life and times of Bush and his sycophants:

Shalom, Salaam, Peace

I am currently in the land that offers all three languages. If the words are not about peace at the moment, at least they are all posted on the highways here in Israel. I just flew in from Newark and am dead tired. My first stop here in the land of milk and honey is Jerusalem. I've got a cousin's wedding to go to on Thursday which should be fun and exciting. For the next week after that I will be blogging occasionally from my stops here in Jerusalem, Eilat and Tel Aviv. I will try to add some political flavor to the local posts and brush up on my hebrew (ivrit) as well.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Giuliani On Abortion: Circa 1989

According to Newsweek, most Republicans do not know how Rudy stands on abortion. Here is their breakdown:

How will all those social conservatives feel about this video from a few years back?

Yes that is correct, Rudy was running as a Republican-Liberal. I thought 'Liberal' was a dirty word when it comes to protecting the sanctity of life and all that jazz.

Port Chester Shuns Justice Dept

The New York suburb of Port Chester is making news and not in a good light these days. The town is a mixed town of affluent residents in the north and immigrants in the south. Despite a burgeoning hispanic population, the town's board has no representation from the south side. The Justice Dept told them to re-write their election laws after a resident filed a complaint, but the town government is refusing to acknowledge the federal involvement into the matter.

From Reuters:

Although they make up 46 percent of Port Chester's population, no Hispanic has been elected to the board governing the town of 28,000 people. The Justice Department sued Port Chester in December, after a complaint by Cesar Ruiz, a Hispanic who made an unsuccessful bid to be a trustee in 2001.

Unlike the turbulent 1950s and 1960s, there are no water cannons or dogs unleashed on protesters, no federal troops. The judge who halted the March 20 election called his action an "extraordinary remedy" that "should not be routinely granted."


U.S. District Judge Stephen Robinson then suspended the March 20 election for two trustee spots, pending a trial on the merits of the Justice Department's recommendation.

Robinson found the government was likely to win at trial, but the board still declined to settle.

"We've never had a problem with our elections or anything else. Now all of a sudden we have the federal government coming here, dictating to us they want us to have districts," said Port Chester Mayor Gerald Logan.

"There's such greater issues that the federal government could be working on, like what we are doing with our borders," he said, a reference the influx of immigrants -- many of them Spanish speakers from Latin America -- into the United States.

The defiance of the town's government is extraordinary. Instead of worrying about fair representation in the town, the fear of immigrants (btw we are a nation of immigrants) has led to ethnocentric policies that hurt nearly half of the town's residents. If the judge in the case went to extreme of halting the election, you know that Port Chester is in need of some serious help. The issue at hand may not be as serious as the turbulent times of the 1950s and 60s, but the matter is still important and must be remedied. If the current trustees continue to defy the federal government, they will find themselves in a heap of trouble.

Condi Willfully Ignored The Truth About Niger

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) ripped into Condoleeza Rice this morning, demanding she respond to Congressional inquiries about the run-up to the war, warning Dr. Rice 'that a failure to respond to his committee's inquiries undermined Constitutional governance'.

Condi has let 16 requests for information fall off her desk and into the proverbial wastebasket, clearly not interested in respecting the checks and balances of our consitution. Now times are changing and the Democratic party has subpoena power, one of the perks of having majority status. Mr. Waxman should and probably will use these powers to hold Condi and the White House accountable for the false information that was distributed to justify the war in Iraq.

From RawStory:

"Refusing to allow officials to testify before Congress...or ignoring congressional requests for information, as you apparently ignored my inquiries, are not consistent with our constitutional system of government," said the Committee's Chairman in a letter released today.

Waxman's letter stated that he was seeking to learn more about a variety of issues from the Secretary of State, including her "role in the President's false assertion that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger."

The California Democrat also explained that he had sent Dr. Rice 16 inquiries since 2003. But only 5 of the letters that were also signed by committee Republicans had received responses because "Under the Bush Administration, several agencies followed a policy of not responding to minority party requests," he stated.

Waxman was particularly concerned with the false claim made by President George W. Bush in the 2003 State of the Union address concerning Iraq's efforts to acquire uranium from Africa, as well as other supporting statements by administration officials.

Dr. Rice can try and throw out these requests from Congress but she will be doggedly followed by the Congressman from California. Much like how a credit card company tracks down deliquent bill-payers, she will be held accountable for her actions that have led to the tremendous financial and human debt that her and the Adminstration has caused.

So Many Roads....

My hat is forever off to the great Jerry Garcia:

The Surge Keeps On Surging

Whatever you may call it, Bush's escalating surge in Iraq is nothing but trouble. First he said an additional 21,500 troops would be sent to Iraq, now it might be somewhere in the ballpark of 30,000 due to the need of support staff (including Afghanistan operations). Sounds like another case of Bush's fuzzy math. Unfortunately it isn't as simple as sending fresh soldiers. The process involves sending less people home to rest and more to go over and fight.

From the Huffington Post:

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — President Bush asked Congress on Saturday for $3.2 billion to pay for 8,200 more U.S. troops needed in Afghanistan and Iraq on top of the 21,500-troop buildup he announced in January.

Bush wants Congress to fund 3,500 new U.S. troops to expand training of local police and army units in Afghanistan. The money also would pay for the estimated 3,500 existing U.S. troops he already announced would be staying longer in the region to counter an anticipated Taliban offensive in Afghanistan this spring.

In Iraq, most of the additional troops would help with the latest Baghdad security plan, which is getting under way in the capital. The money would pay for 2,400 combat support troops, 2,200 military police forces and 129 troops for reconstruction teams.

Bush took a direct swipe at the Democratic Congress, basically taunting them to cower to his devastating will. The expression on his face shows this whole thing to be a game where he can be the bully and make Democrats do what he says. Unfortunately many Democrats have been divided over what to do and are mainly acquiescing to the Decider's every wish. In some cases they want to spend more money than the Adminstration wants in order to attach 'strings'. These strings do nothing to rein in Bush's wild plans and Bush merely scoffs at them.

What happened to the Democratic backbone? Don't the donkeys understand what the midterm elections meant? The people want a change in Iraq and it is past time to give America what it deserves for her troops serving for a misbegotten war and not being home with their families.

Hagel Talks Impeachment

Hearing the "I" word mentioned in left-leaning circles is hardly uncommon these days, but from a red-state Republican it is a rare event. What makes it more odd is that the talk is from a Senator who just might be running for the GOP Presidential nomination next year. Chuck Hagel has been a vocal opponent of George Bush and his policy in Iraq for quite some time, but the upcoming edition of Esquire featuring the Senator from Nebraska takes the discourse to a whole new level.

From the Sioux City Journal:

In an interview appearing in April editions of Esquire magazine -- set to hit stands next week -- Hagel suggests that President Bush could be subject to calls for impeachment as the Iraq war drags on. "The president says, 'I don't care.' He's not accountable anymore," Hagel said in the article. "Before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don't know. It depends on how this goes." Hagel has long been an outspoken critic of the administration's foreign policy and its handling of Iraq, but for a conservative Republican from a firmly rooted red state to mention the "I" word in the same breath with a sitting party president is still shocking. "That's pretty strong," Bykerk said. "It's hard for me to judge whether that sets him up as the anti-war candidate or some kind of superconscience for the Bush supporters of the Republican Party. "He just tells you what he thinks."

What he thinks is highly out of the ordinary of most lock-step Republicans. The party's success is drawn from the effectiveness of the VRWC and how fast the message from on top is delivered to elected officials, right-wing pundits, talkradio hosts and bloggers like those of RedState and Little Green Footballs among others. Hagel has gotten his fame of late from opposing Bush on numerous fronts.

Running for President as a Republican requires the support of the religious right and fiscal conservatives. Although Hagel is definitely a conservative when it comes to his voting record, straying from the Republican meme could have serious implications. In fact a recent AP poll showed that only 37 percent of Nebraskans think he would make a good President. Of course his announcement tomorrow may just be about running for re-election and nothing about Presidential politics, so we will just have to wait and see.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

David Obey, You're On Candid Camera!

This ugly exchange took place in the halls of Congress when some anti-war protesters confronted Rep. David Obey(D-WI) on his non-binding resolution to criticize the war. Of course the legislation lacks the teeth to effect any real change, yet when confronted on the issue, Mr. Obey takes serious offense to a real debate on the bill.

Waters Throws Right-wing Talking Points In Chris Wallace's Face

Maxine Waters is an incredible lady and a Congresswoman who is dedicated to the principles that she believes in. Having attended numerous rallies and functions against the war, she knows how to counter the right-wingers who hurl their misleading talking points at Democrats, trying to make them look weak.

Well Maxine wasn't having any of it. She took Fox News' Chris Wallace to task and handed his heaping plate of BS right back with a nice side of truth (not to be confused with 'truthiness'). She discussed her proposal on how to deal with Iraq and sparred quite nicely on the Fox Noise Channel.

From Crooks and Liars:

video_wmv Download (922) | Play (883) video_mov Download (482) | Play (564)

"Well, I think cut and run is a kind of language that has been used by this administration and others to intimidate those of us who are responding to the American people's desire to get our soldiers out of Iraq. Our soldiers are dying every day. Civilians are dying by the thousands - uh, in Iraq. I just don't want to wake up one morning to find that they have bombed one of our compounds and hundreds of our soldiers have been killed."

The Funnies From Sunday

Here's your comedic wrap-up from the week. Colbert and Letterman cover the Libby's trial and his old writing style and Dick Cheney's coming car chase:

Rove Took Care Of The 'Problem'

In an interview with the McClatchy Newspapers, Allen Weh, the party chairman of the New Mexico GOP had asked Karl Rove to dispose of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias because he was not prosecuting Democrats over a possible voter fraud incident. This poses a big problem to the White House and the Justice Department because so far they have claimed no involvement in the purge other than selecting the new attorneys.

From McClatchy:

In an interview Saturday with McClatchy Newspapers, Allen Weh, the party chairman, said he complained in 2005 about then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to a White House liaison who worked for Rove and asked that he be removed. Weh said he followed up with Rove personally in late 2006 during a visit to the White House.

"Is anything ever going to happen to that guy?" Weh said he asked Rove at a White House holiday event that month.

"He's gone," Rove said, according to Weh.

"I probably said something close to 'Hallelujah,'" said Weh.

Weh's account calls into question the Justice Department's stance that the recent decision to fire Iglesias and seven U.S. attorneys in other states was a personnel matter - made without White House intervention. Justice Department officials have said the White House's involvement was limited to approving a list of the U.S. attorneys after the Justice Department made the decision to fire them.

Now we have more damning evidence that the White House was personally involved and that Gonzales, having known the full story of the matter, did in fact lie to Congress when he said that the firings were not political. On top of this confession, we also have Rep. Heather Wilson and Sen. Pete Dominici admitting to talking to Iglesias about prosecuting certain political cases last year right before the midterm elections. As the pieces of the puzzles continue to fall in place, it is becoming crystal clear that there was serious foul play involved, from the White House on down to the state party apparatus.

Time For Gonzales To Step Down

Much like last year when elected officials finally listened to the will of the people over Rumsfeld and called for his resignation, now they are doing it for the Attorney General. AG Alberto Gonzales has failed at his job to provide justice in a fair fashion and now it is time for him to go. Today on Face the Nation, Sen. Chuck Schumer called on Gonzales to resign.

His reasoning mirrors that of the rest of us that have known for far too long that Gonzales is no good. Schumer cited the abusive nature of the FBI under the auspices of the Patriot Act and the brewing Prosectur Purge scandal. He lied to Congress under oath by saying that firing the eight U.S. Attorneys was not politically motivated yet the prosecutors themselves said under oath that they were fired to make way for Bush's favored people. When it comes to lying under oath, I'll believe the prosecutors over Bush's loyal man Alberto anyday.

Watch the clip of Schumer and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) here.