Think I've Got This Back To Normal Now
Remind me to never mess with comments again.
As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."
I want to thank the comment spammers out there who insinuate themselves into the Blogger comment tool. Also big ups to Blogger for not seeming to give a crap about the problem. And I appreciate how Blogger is having major problems publishing so I can't get Haloscan comments back online. Thanks all around!
Here's what I'm trying to figure out.
Q Let me ask you another question. Is it your view that a Vice President has the authority to declassify information?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: There is an executive order to that effect.
Q There is.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q Have you done it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I've certainly advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions. The executive order --
Q You ever done it unilaterally?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't want to get into that. There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously focuses first and foremost on the President, but also includes the Vice President.
Yesterday Jane Harman (the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said exactly what needs to be said:
"If the disclosure is true, it's breathtaking. The President is revealed as the Leaker-in-Chief.
"Leaking classified information to the press when you want to get your side out or silence your critics is not appropriate.
"The reason we classify things is to protect our sources - those who risk their lives to give us secrets. Who knows how many sources were burned by giving Libby this 'license to leak'?
"If I had leaked the information, I'd be in jail. Why should the President be above the law?
"The President has the legal authority to declassify information, but there are normal channels for doing so. Telling an aide to leak classified information to the New York Times is not a normal channel. A normal declassification procedure would involve going back to the originating agency, such as the CIA, and then putting out a public, declassified version of the document.
"I am stunned that the President won't tell the full the Intelligence Committee about the NSA program because he's allegedly concerned about leaks, when it turns out that he is the Leaker-in-Chief."
The notion that Democrats hold no power in the Congress is true in the sense of simple majorities. However by simply sticking together you can wield tremendous power. Witness the collapse of the Bush budget in the House:
House Republican efforts to forge a budget blueprint for the coming fiscal year collapsed last night amid acrimony and name-calling, as the fissures between GOP moderates and conservatives once again burst into the open.
The failure to secure a budget plan before the two-week spring recess was an embarrassment to a new Republican leadership eager to show it could hold its ranks without the party's chief discipline enforcer, Rep. Tom DeLay (Tex.). After he announced his resignation this week, DeLay took a swipe at his successors, labeling them splintered and "without an agreed agenda."
Moreover, it showed how difficult governance will be in an election year when endangered rank-and-file members are ready to go their own way to prove their independence from a party mired in weak approval ratings.
Boehner last night blamed the Democrats for standing united against the budget plan, but budgets have long been the responsibility of the majority party to pass. With the collapse, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said, it is time the Republican leadership realizes that the deep fiscal problems facing the nation will take bipartisan solutions.
"The decision by House Republican leaders to pull their budget resolution from further floor consideration this week clearly demonstrates that the party is deeply divided and on the political run," he said.
Last night I went to a benefit for a fellow stand-up comedian who is diabetic and needs emergency eye surgery to keep from going blind. She has no health insurance.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson said Thursday that Arkansas should examine new legislation in Massachusetts that expands health-care coverage for that state's uninsured.
Speaking to the West Little Rock chapter of AARP, Hutchinson said he wants Arkansans to have more options for their health care. And the Massachusetts bill that blends the ideas of universal health care with personal responsibility is one example, he said.
"We need to learn from their experience," Hutchinson said. "And we need to look in Arkansas at how we can lower the number of uninsured."
But Zac Wright, spokesman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Beebe, the state attorney general, said Massachusetts and Arkansas have distinctly different problems when it comes to health care. Arkansas has more small businesses that can't afford health insurance for their employees and more residents who don't have access to health insurance.
"What's good for Massachusetts may not be good for Arkansas," Wright said Thursday. "Before Beebe would endorse that kind of tax increase he'd have to exhaust all the proposals to expand access for Arkansans."
Amid rising health-care costs and growing legions of uninsured, Kansans and Missourians are looking to Massachusetts [...]
“I think it is phenomenal when a state takes an initiative as innovative as this one,” said Marcia Nielsen, assistant vice chancellor for health policy at the University of Kansas Medical Center. “In this case, everybody worked together to hammer out a deal.”
Health officials say 707,000 Missourians are uninsured, constituting 12.6 percent of the population. In Kansas, the figure is 297,000, or 11.1 percent.
So what’s the likelihood of Kansas or Missouri passing a Massachusetts-type law?
Not very high, observers said.
“We’re just nowhere near where Massachusetts is in terms of understanding the issues,” Nielsen said. “Health providers need to understand the concerns that businesses have about health-care costs. Businesses need to understand what the patient’s experience is when dealing with an illness. It’s a complicated process.”
Feltman said she had concerns about affordability and the employer mandates of the Massachusetts law.
“I’m concerned that it’s trying to hold together a fragmented, collapsing system, rather than looking at options for totally reforming our health-care delivery system,” Feltman said. “We keep knitting together these pieces that are unfair to patients, unfair to employers and unfair to providers.”
The reason they're called undocumented immigrants is because they don't have any documents. They don't stamp a date and time of entry on the passport of someone crossing illegally over the border. That's why this silly compromise ended up going down to defeat today. Senators tried to make bargains that have no possibility of being useful in the real world. You either support earned legalization or you don't, if you pass something saying "only if you've been in the country five years" can you gain legal status every illegal immigrant in the country is going to say they've been here five years. All you would be doing is opening up a document forgery racket on things like electric bills (which could prove somewhat that an illegal was here for a certain number of years.
It took me all of two days to get completely annoyed by Blogger's comment system. Part of it is my fault of assuming "moderate" meant something more like "monitor," that I could view comments without having to go back to the site over and over. I see that comments have been left but I'm unable to read them.
Digby makes some important points (but since when is that any different?). Essentially what we can't take away from this suggestion by Scooter Libby that Bush authorized him to leak classified information is that the White House, and more to the point this President, will use information for political purposes. They will use it to discredit their detractors and bolster their policy goals. Their is no ethical filter for when and where and how they will use information. The ends justify the means.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today left open the possibility that President Bush could order warrantless wiretaps on telephone calls occurring solely within the United States, dramatically expanding the potential reach of the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance program.
In response to a question from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales said the government would have to determine if a conversation was related to al-Qaeda and crucial to fighting terrorism before deciding whether to listen in without court supervision.
"I'm not going to rule it out," Gonzales said, referring to the possibility of monitoring purely domestic communications.
I think this post by Larry Johnson, a former Fox News analyst (among other things), could be as important a post as I've read all year. When you scroll down story after story of executions, bombings, mortar attacks, kidnappings, oil pipeline attacks, you get a very real sense of how desperate the situation is over there. We're talking about hundreds and hundreds of deaths every single week. There's no way to disassociate the situation in Iraq from the violence. Talking about "the good news" to the exclusion of this is simply absurd.
I mean, I really resent the fact that people say that we're not reflecting the true picture here. That's totally unfair and it's really unfounded.
...Our own editors back in New York are asking us the same things. They read the same comments. You know, are there positive stories? Can't you find them? You don't think that I haven't been to the U.S. military and the State Department and the embassy and asked them over and over again, let's see the good stories, show us some of the good things that are going on? Oh, sorry, we can't take to you that school project, because if you put that on TV, they're going to be attacked about, the teachers are going to be killed, the children might be victims of attack.
Oh, sorry, we can't show this reconstruction project because then that's going to expose it to sabotage. And the last time we had journalists down here, the plant was attacked. I mean, security dominates every single thing that happens in this country….So how it is that security issues should not then dominate the media coverage coming out of here?
"There's just too many leaks, and if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is." [George W. Bush, 9/30/03]
President Bush, told by a critic he should be ashamed of his policies, defended the government's secret eavesdropping program Thursday and said he would not apologize for listening in on the phone and e-mail conversations of Americans talking to people with suspected al-Qaida links.
A man who identified himself as Harry Taylor rose at a forum here to tell Bush that he's never felt more ashamed of the leadership of his country. He said Bush has asserted his right to tap phone calls without a warrant, to arrest people and hold them without charges and to revoke a woman's right to an abortion, among other things.
He was booed by the audience, but Bush interrupted and urged the audience to let Taylor finish.
"I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administraiton," Taylor said, standing in a balcony seat and looking down at Bush on stage. "And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and grace to be ashamed of yourself."
Afterward, Taylor was approached by Barry Richards, a 42-year-old town manager from nearby Cabarrus County. Richards shook Taylor's hand and told him how glad he was that Taylor had spoken. Then came the punchline. "I 100 percent disagree with everything you said, but I'm glad you said it," Richards said [...] Bush ought to be able to handle a little criticism, Richards said. "I know he probably likes the warm, fuzzy campaign appearances, but it's OK to get a cold prickly too."
That's what we have here, an off-the-record, not-meant-for-human-consumption exchange between Chris Matthews and Tom DeLay before their interview on Hardball on Tuesday. It makes you sick to your stomach hearing the "I owe you one," the "nothing worse than a know-it-all woman" from DeLay regarding Hillary Clinton, and the general clubby atmosphere between this disgraced politician and the alleged journalist whose job it is to cover him. The entire tenor of the exchange could be used in court for why the traditional media is so very very broken. The groveling for access is not only abhorrent to behold, it's pointless. In the current 24-hour cycle, having the story two minutes before the next guy doesn't mean anything. Especially a story like that one, where DeLay's going to announce his resignation to somebody sooner or later.
WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide told prosecutors President Bush authorized the leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, according to court papers filed by prosecutors in the CIA leak case.
Before his indictment, I. Lewis Libby testified to the grand jury investigating the CIA leak that Cheney told him to pass on information and that it was Bush who authorized the disclosure, the court papers say. According to the documents, the authorization led to the July 8, 2003, conversation between Libby and New York Times reporter Judith Miller.
There was no indication in the filing that either Bush or Cheney authorized Libby to disclose Valerie Plame's CIA identity.
But the disclosure in documents filed Wednesday means that the president and the vice president put Libby in play as a secret provider of information to reporters about prewar intelligence on Iraq.
If Cynthia McKinney is somehow indicative of how "Democrats respect security personnel," as Denny Hastert put it today, then this guy is indicative of how DHS employees are all pedophiles. OK? Is that how you want to play it?
Last night I was fortunate to be at the West Coast premiere of a new documentary by acclaimed director/cinematographer Haskell Wexler called "Who Needs Sleep?" The movie grew out of Wexler's decade-long effort to get saner work hours in the entertainment industry. But the movie branches out and looks at sleep deprivation, government regulation of industry, and the cost of long hours on the job to family life, health and personal safety. This was a remarkable film.
Cynthia McKinney is kind of a reactionary, she didn't have her Congressional lapel pin on her (although, THAT'S the line of defense preventing people from entering the Capitol? A lapel pin? Can't that be faked kind of easily?), she can't expect every Capitol policeman to know all 535 members of Congress by facial recognition, and she was a dope for hitting the guy, if she did hit the guy. An apology would be in order, from the policeman if he grabbed her inappropriately, and from McKinney if she hit him.
Haloscan was kind of screwing up, and this makes it easier for me to moderate, so there you are. Old comments are somewhere in that Internet ether. I could probably find them again, but I don't know if it'd matter to anyone.
The John Kerry of "How do you ask someone to be the last man to die for a mistake" returned today, two years late, with a sensible call for deadlines in Iraq. He's right, it's the only thing Iraqis have responded to thus far.
So far, Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines — a deadline to transfer authority to a provisional government, and a deadline to hold three elections.
Now we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet.
Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave.
If Iraq's leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year's end. Doing so will empower the new Iraqi leadership, put Iraqis in the position of running their own country and undermine support for the insurgency, which is fueled in large measure by the majority of Iraqis who want us to leave their country. Only troops essential to finishing the job of training Iraqi forces should remain.
If the inside the Beltway crowd is to be believed, Virginia Senator George Allen has the inside track to the Republican nomination in 2008. Via MyDD, here's an early indicator of how foreign policy would be run under an Allen Administration. Apparently, we'd give the crazy crusader guy a full command:
A Senate Republican wants an Army general who drew criticism for church speeches casting the war on terrorism in religious terms to lead the U.S. special operations command.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Sen. George Allen, R-Va., recommended Lt. Gen. William G. (Jerry) Boykin, currently the Pentagon's deputy undersecretary for intelligence, for the post at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.
The current commander, Army Gen. Bryan "Doug" Brown, is retiring, and the Pentagon has not filled the job.
"I am told, and I believe it to be true, that no special operations officer currently on active duty is more highly respected or admired by his superiors, peers or subordinates alike, than Jerry Boykin," Allen wrote in the letter dated March 31 and obtained by The Associated Press.
...Boykin is the subject of an investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general over comments he made at several church presentations, in which he referred to the United States as a "Christian nation" joined in "spiritual battle" against Satan. On at least two occasions, he talked of seeing demonic forces in black marks on a photograph he took from a helicopter over Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993. And, in discussing a Somali Muslim militia leader, Boykin said, "I knew that my God was bigger than his."
This is pretty disturbing. I don't know what's worse, the fact that the kid did this, or that his famous father is trying to get him out of serving jail time:
The son of state Senate President Ken Bennett admitted in court Monday to assaulting middle school boys with a broomstick in their rectal areas, but a judge allowed charges against him to be reduced from 18 to one, and he may avoid jail.
Three of the 18 victims, all boys between the ages of 11 and 15, are from Tucson, and the families are angry that 18-year-old Clifton Bennett and co-defendant Kyle Wheeler, 19, were not charged with sexual assault.
Also, the families said Bennett is being treated favorably by the court system because of his father's position in the Legislature. Bennett's plea would allow the court to classify the aggravated-assault conviction as a misdemeanor, which means he could go on to become a teacher or counselor and would never have to disclose the so-called "brooming" incident.
"I think he got a sweetheart deal," said the father of one of the three Tucson victims, a 12-year-old boy who attends a local Catholic school. "I'd like him to get a year in prison. The victims should have been heard from before the plea was agreed to. If this was 18 girls who were victims, it would have been sexual assault."
Funny email from Democracy for America, and entirely true:
Tom DeLay announced he's quitting Congress today because he's afraid of losing his seat to a Democrat.
Democracy for America has dogged DeLay for years. With TV commercials and billboards, at rallies and online, DFA has been on the front lines of the battle to clean up Congress. But we didn't think DeLay would "cut and run" like he did.
If he did nothing wrong -- as he claims -- then Tom DeLay shouldn't be afraid of a re-election campaign in a district he drew for himself. But he is quitting by mid-June.
Let's help send Tom DeLay the rubber chicken award he so richly deserves:
For every $50 Democracy for America raises today, we'll send Tom DeLay an authentic rubber chicken for his mantle. It'll be our goodbye present.
The conventional wisdom is that the departure of Tom DeLay from the national stage will undercut the Democratic argument about the culture of corruption in GOP-controlled Washington. Certainly I think that's what DeLay believes, although he's thinking locally here, expecting a Republican to win his seat and defeat Nick Lampson, though he would probably not be able to do so. But the culture of corruption is just that, a culture, and one man's exit from the stage will not be able to change that. Indeed the departure of DeLay while under this ethical cloud does nothing but bolster this argument. And Josh Marshall will be quick to point out all of the Republicans in Congress who voted for the "DeLay Rule," which would have allowed him to keep the Majority Leader post while indicted, and all of those who gave or received money from DeLay's campaign funds and various PACs.
Maryland Senate officials prepared yesterday for a legal showdown with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. over 15 bills that they rushed to pass by a key deadline but were prevented from delivering to the governor because his aides had locked an office door.
Senate clerks said that when they found the door to the governor's legislative office locked Friday afternoon, they slid the receipts - and, in some cases the bills themselves - underneath and tried Saturday to deliver the remaining bills in person.
The difference in timing has major implications for the fate of the legislation, which includes a measure to limit pollutants emitted by power plants and another designating polling locations to be opened early, both of which are opposed by the governor.
Because it is an election year, the General Assembly cannot override any Ehrlich vetoes after legislators adjourn Monday at midnight unless they return for a special session.
The governor must decide whether to sign or veto bills that reach him within six working days of the end of the session. Aware of the deadline - which was Saturday evening - legislators scrambled to pass bills that they thought the governor might reject in time for override votes.
It's too bad, I think. DeLay was an effective leader, albeit too liberal in recent years.
Just learned that Tom DeLay's going to resign. Well, the guy didn't get to where he was without being a tactician. I think he genuinely believes in his innocence, so I don't buy the argument that he's leaving the political arena to focus on keeping his ass out of jail. But even if he were, the way he managed to do this was brilliant, and amoral, just like the rest of his career.
CNN is reporting that the changes in the White House staff will not stop with Andrew Card. Rumored to be on their way out are Scott McClellan (no, not my favorite whipping boy Scotty!) and Treasury Secretary John Snow:
The possible departure of both men could be among "several senior-level staff" announcements to come within the next couple of weeks, said former White House staff members, GOP strategists and administration officials.
"You're going to have more change than you expect," one GOP insider said [...]
In his new role as chief of staff, (Josh) Bolten is focusing on improving White House communications and legislative affairs to regenerate the administration's message and performance, said sources familiar with his thinking.
"There are two positions he is anxious to turn -- Scott's position and legislative affairs," said a source with close ties to the White House.
"It's not about who but what is broken. He does not view it ... in terms of personalities, that's the way Josh thinks," another source said. "Josh keeps his counsel fairly close. He's very logical, and the logical place to start looking is communications."
The left is not doing much on legislative issues. In that role we are stuck in a purely defensive role. But, it is increasingly clear that the left is holding its own, and even winning some key battles, in the court of public opinion.
The public at large is much slower to absorb our message than we would like. This is especially true because the public still relies on the networks, cable news, and mainstream newspapers and magazines to get the bulk of their news. And those sources are still too concerned with the war effort and the so-called immanent threat of devastating acts of terrorism, to present the news in a straightforward and honest way. But the truth is seeping in to the public's consciousness.
Because my voice is far too small, but now that Crooks and Liars has posted the video of Bush flying the Mexican flag, and Kos points to a Jeb! campaign ad that includes all sorts of flags, and they make absolutely the right points about them, I would say that my instincts were dead-on about this. Precious silence so far from the Malkins of the world, but soon their anger at seeing an AMERICAN President with a MEXICAN flag will bubble over, IMO. This might even ruin Take the American Flag to Work Day.
Send the lawyers to Iraq to prosecute companies like this who don't fulfill their contractual obligations:
A reconstruction contract for the building of 142 primary health centers across Iraq is running out of money, after two years and roughly $200 million, with no more than 20 clinics now expected to be completed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says.
The contract, awarded to U.S. construction giant Parsons Inc. in the flush, early days of reconstruction in Iraq, was expected to lay the foundation of a modern health care system for the country, putting quality medical care within reach of all Iraqis.
Parsons, according to the Corps, will walk away from more than 120 clinics that on average are two-thirds finished. Auditors say the project serves as a warning for other U.S. reconstruction efforts due to be completed this year.
By the end of 2006, the $18.4 billion that Washington has allocated for Iraq's reconstruction runs out. All remaining projects in the U.S. reconstruction program, including electricity, water, sewer, health care and the justice system, are due for completion. As a result, the next nine months are crunchtime for the easy-term contracts that were awarded to American contractors early on, before surging violence drove up security costs and idled workers.
Stuart Bowen, the top U.S. auditor for reconstruction, warned in a telephone interview from Washington that other reconstruction efforts may fall short like that of Parsons. "I've been consumed for a year with the fear we would run out of money to finish projects," said Bowen, the inspector general for reconstruction in Iraq.
Iraq has long been awash in guns. But after the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra in late February, sectarian tensions exploded, and more Iraqis than ever have been buying, carrying and stockpiling weapons, adding an unnerving level of firepower to Baghdad's streets.
The average price for a Russian-made Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, which is perfectly legal here, has jumped to $290 from $112 in the past month, according to several gun dealers. Bullets have climbed to 33 cents each from 24 cents.
Hand grenades, which are not legal but are easy to get, run $95. Pre-Samarra, they were about half that. The swiftly rising prices are one clear sign that weapon sales are hot.
I would have been happy enough just reading Future President Feingold's takedown of Chris Wallace's attempts to denigrate his attempt as pushing a resolution for censure. That interview was inspiration enough. But it has come to my attention that I actually know one of this cycle's Fighting Dems.
Dear Rep. Katherine Harris:
The Administration captured Jose Padilla, an American citizen, on terrorism suspicions, and held him as an enemy combatant for three years without being charged and without access to a lawyer. Once they saw that their legal arguments were not going to hold up in court, they abruptly charged him and moved him from Guantanamo to a federal jail. That set up today's rejection of Padilla's appeal by the US Supreme Court.
Padilla was moved in January to Miami to face criminal charges, and the government argued that the appeal over his indefinite detention was now pointless.
Three justices said the court should have agreed to take up the case anyway: Justices David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.
And three other court members, including Chief Justice John Roberts, said that they would be watching to ensure Padilla receives the protections "guaranteed to all federal criminal defendants."
An appeals court panel had all but called for the high court to deal with the case, saying it was troubled by the Bush administration's change in legal strategy — it brought criminal charges only after it looked like the Supreme Court was going to step in.
I personally could care less, but someone might want to forward Lou "I don't think we should have St. Patrick's Day" Dobbs this LA Times article about the President's views on immigration, which features this interesting nugget:
During the 2000 election, Bush previewed a campaign video from ad-maker Lionel Sosa that used emotion-laden themes to woo Latinos.
As he watched, Sosa recalled, Bush's face lighted up. "How much do you need for this?" Bush asked as the two men sat with Rove in the governor's mansion in Texas, Sosa said.
Sosa replied that it would take $3 million. According to the ad-maker, Bush then turned to Rove, saying: "Give him five."
Four years later, Sosa produced a variation of that video for the 2004 campaign that was mailed to Latino voters across the country.
The video includes images that would probably rile those who today are calling for the most restrictive immigration laws. At one point, Bush is shown waving a Mexican flag. The footage was shot, Sosa said, during a Mexican Independence Day parade in San Antonio in 1998, when Bush was running for reelection as governor.