Thursday, August 30, 2007

Iraqi WMD finally located; President Bush "vindicaterated"

Saddam's poisons found "right under our noses"

A Guide to Media Manipulation, Republican Style
by Paul Waldman
In recent years the GOP has turned the technique of making hay from their opponents' words into a reliable formula for success.
A Legacy of Torture
Alberto Gonzales leaves an enduring mark on government and our way of life: torture and a tainted judiciary, Robert Scheer writes.
GAO: Little progress on Iraq goals
Report on political, military benchmarks comes ahead of Sept. 15 deadline.
The Associated Press

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Amy Goodman:Abu Ghraib: One of Al’s Claims to Fame

Bush's Poison Pill for America's Kids

by Gov. Eliot Spitzer

Just when you thought things at the White House couldn't get any stranger, the president has decided it is good public policy to increase the number of uninsured children in our country.

Idaho Senator Larry Craig Violates Public Bathroom Protocol With Suspect Behavior

This is for the men out there. What would you do if you’re in a bathroom stall and the guy in the stall next to you moves his foot under the stall so that it’s touching yours? The only correct answer involves a WTF. For the more aggressive the pants come up, the stall door is kicked open and the beating begins.

On the other hand some men might take a game of footsies for a sign that they’re open to some homosexual fun and games. Your stall or mine?

On June 11th Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig was involved in just this kind of situation.

The action went down in a Minneapolis-St.Paul airport bathroom being investigated for complaints of sexual activity. A few arrests had been made weeks earlier. Sgt. Dave Karsnia was there to continue surveillance.

As relayed by Roll Call a DC newspaper..

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.”

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 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 moved 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.”

“Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times..”

and Karsnia noted in his report “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.”

He was detained for 45 minutes, during questioning he reportedly offered his business card as identification and asked the officer, “What do you think about that?”

Suggesting..He’s that guy. Let’s just make this go away.

To make it go away on August 8th Larry Craig pled guilty to lewd conduct charges.

The story wasn’t widely known until yesterday. Now that it’s out there Larry Craig says he never should have pled guilty, that he made a mistake not consulting a lawyer. His explanation for the footsie action was that he has a wide stance when sitting on the bowl.

It should be noted that Larry Craig is married and has taken anti-gay positions in Congress.

What kind of person pleads guilty to making homosexual advances? Like even the implication of it?

The kind that thinks a quickly paid fine would bury the story.

I can’t get over the footsies.

It’s so.. um, gay.

A Scandal Scarred G.O.P. Asks, What's Next?

The war against Iraq's Prime Minister

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin are calling for Nouri al-Maliki's ouster as a way of attacking Bush's Iraq policy. But do they understand the consequences?

By Juan Cole

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why did Gonzales resign?
by Sidney Blumenthal

Without Karl Rove around to give him his orders, and with the investigations closing in, "Fredo" had nowhere to turn.

The dismal legacy of Bush's top yes man
By David Cole
by Aziz Huq

Monday, August 27, 2007

This is For Your Own Good... Yeah, Right!

By Christopher Platt

There’s a popular category of humor, exemplified by comedian Jeff Foxworthy, called “Redneck Humor” that goes like this: “You know you’re a redneck if …” (“… you've ever lost a loved one to kudzu,” for example.). Today, I am creating a new category, especially for us folks who often find ourselves somewhere Left-of-Center. Let’s call it Cynic Humor. Here, you try it: “You know you’re a cynic if you hear, ‘The surge is working,’ and you respond, ‘Yeah, Right!” Or, “You know you’re a cynic if you hear ‘The levees will hold,’ and you shout, ‘Yeah, Right!” Or, “You know you’re a cynic if you hear ‘Alberto Gonzales is a man of great integrity,’ and you shriek, ‘Yeah, Right!” You get the idea. Try it yourself, sometime. It’s good. Makes you feel less like you’re Jeff Foxworthy, more like you’re Lewis Black. Yeah, right!

This all started last week, when I read an Associated Press news release. “Medicare will stop paying the costs of treating infections, falls, objects left in surgical patients and other things that happen in hospitals that could have been prevented. The rule change announced this month is among several initiatives that the administration says are intended to improve the accuracy of Medicare's payment for hospital patients who receive acute care and to encourage hospitals to improve the quality of their services.”

Yeah, right!

The item continues, “Medicare payments for inpatient services will be more accurate and better reflect the severity of the patient's condition.”

Yeah, right! But wait! There’s more. A-P said, “The rule identifies eight conditions - including three serious types of preventable incidents sometimes called ‘never events’ - that Medicare no longer will pay for. Those conditions are: objects left in a patient during surgery; blood incompatibility; air embolism; falls; mediastinitis, which is an infection after heart surgery; urinary tract infections from using catheters; pressure ulcers, or bed sores; and vascular infections from using catheters.

The idea is that hospitals, not Medicare, will be expected to pick up the cost of any additional treatment needed for a preventable condition acquired in the hospital. “The hospital cannot bill the beneficiary for any charges associated with the hospital-acquired complication,” the final rules say.” Yeah, right! You can call me a cynic if you like, but I find this line of reasoning especially untenable. And, not just because it’s our famously truthful government (Yeah, right!) saying it. Many consumer organizations have hopped aboard this natural-organic-fertilizer-filled bandwagon, saying that this is a good thing, because “it will force hospitals to adhere to best practices.” Yeah, right!

My guess is that something quite different will happen. Hospitals are businesses, and, like most other businesses, are saddled with certain costs they cannot control. So, if they want to be profit-making enterprises, they work very hard at holding down the costs they can control. When other industries do this, it becomes a matter of risk/benefit analysis. When an automaker, for example, discovers that a flaw in, say, its gas tank design, or defective seat belt attachments, could cause fatalities in certain accidents, it weighs the cost of fixing that problem versus the cost of paying out any claims were such accidents to happen, and the company found to be liable because of that fixable flaw. Now, I’m not making this up. Both of these cases actually happened, with the respective car companies figuring that the cost of calling in a couple of million vehicles to replace a $2.68 (not necessarily the real cost, but representative) part would cost them more than paying off an actuarially determined number of claims resulting from the defect.

“But hospitals will be different,” you say, “They’re in business to care for people!” Yeah, right! I’m guessing that if they have an operating-room screw-up and leave a pair of pliers inside some poor bastard, many hospitals will NOT rush to call back the surgeon who messed up, and pay him or her to go back in, with the whole surgical team, to take those pliers out. No, first they’ll x-ray the crap out of the thing to be sure it’s not impinging on a vital organ, or is otherwise deemed not to be an imminent danger to the patient. Then, they’ll compute how much it would cost to remove it, versus how much they’ll be sued for if the patient ever does have a problem with that handy tool. I can tell you from personal experience that, when it comes to jury-tried medical malpractice cases, the victim usually loses. So, businesswise, it’s a good bet for the hospital to just Shut the Hell Up, wheel the patient out the front door, and hope he never passes through a metal detector.

It’s not about better care, or accountability. It’s about the money. Last year, Medicare brass said the government could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year if they stopped paying for medical errors such as operations on the wrong body part or mismatched blood transfusions. Sadly, these errors happen in abundance. The Fourth Annual HealthGrades Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study, released in April, found 1.16 million total patient safety incidents (PSIs) occurred in more than 40 million hospitalizations in the Medicare population, which is almost a three-percent incident rate. These incidents were associated with $8.6 billion of excess cost during 2003 through 2005. Ten out of 16 of the patient safety incident rates studied worsened from 2003 to 2005, on average, by more than 11.5 per cent. Now, here’s a scary number: Of the 284,798 deaths that occurred among patients who developed one or more patient safety incidents, 247,662 -- that’s an appalling 87 per cent -- were potentially preventable. Medicare beneficiaries who developed one or more patient safety incidents had a one-in-four chance of dying during the hospitalization during 2003 to 2005.

So, with this track record, when I hear that an offending institution will have to pay to fix its errors, and will thereby become less-likely to cause those errors, I’m thinking, “Yeah, right!” Medicare covers about 43 million elderly and disabled people. The program's expenses in 2006 totaled about $408 billion. Sounds like a lot, but do the math. Averaged out, this is only about $9,400 per recipient. Not a lot when you know what hospital care costs these days, but apparently too much to bear for a benefits system that has billed itself as the primary healthcare safety net for this vulnerable group.

I have a better idea. Hospitals that do screw up, botch an operation, switch a blood bag, drop a patient off a gurney, or leave a foreign object inside a patient, must NOT be allowed to bill anybody for that, as they do now. I still get bills from hospitals for medical procedures that killed off one or the other of my relatives years ago, and I think that’s despicable. Instead, let Medicare mandate, “No more bills for screw-ups and botched operations,” – and let our Medicare officials decide how to define “botched.” This would better serve the purpose of holding hospitals accountable and encouraging better care, instead of simply not reimbursing hospitals that honestly try to correct their errors. Pay them only for doing things right. A novel suggestion, surely, and one you could easily apply across our culture. Because you and I know that nobody would want to take money for doing their jobs so badly that they actually kill someone. All together now: Yeah, right!

# # #

Republican hypocrisy, again.

The New York Times
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August 28, 2007
Senator Pleads Guilty After Arrest at Airport

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 — Senator Larry E. Craig, Republican of Idaho, pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge earlier this month after his arrest in June by an undercover police officer in a men’s bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

A second charge of interference with privacy against the 62-year-old senator was dismissed. Mr. Craig was fined more than $500 at the Aug. 8 proceedings and was placed on unsupervised probation for one year. His 10-day jail sentence was suspended, according to a copy of a court document in the case.

According to a police report obtained by Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper that disclosed the episode and guilty plea today, a plainclothes police officer investigating complaints of sexual activity in the bathroom arrested the senator on June 11 after what the officer described as sexual advances made by Mr. Craig from an adjoining stall.

Roll Call reported that the officer said Mr. Craig tapped his foot as a signal to engage in lewd conduct, brushed his foot against the investigator’s and waved his hand under the stall divider several times before the officer showed him his badge. After his arrest, the senator denied any sexual intent and in a statement issued this afternoon he attributed the matter to a misunderstanding.

“At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions,” Mr. Craig said in a statement. “I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct.

“I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously.”

Mr. Craig, whose seat is up for election next year, is the second Republican senator in recent weeks to find his personal behavior under scrutiny. Senator David Vitter of Louisiana was implicated in a separate case in the Washington area when his phone number turned up in the records of an escort service. He made a public apology for what he described as “a very serious sin in my past,” but he has not been charged with any crime.

In the Senate, Mr. Craig, who is married and has three children, is known for his advocacy for the rights of gun owners and has a close association with the National Rifle Association. When Republicans controlled the Senate in the last Congress, Mr. Craig was chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee. He is a former member of the party’s Senate leadership. He represented Idaho in the House before first winning election to an open Senate seat in 1990 and he was easily re-elected in 1996 and 2002.

In 2006, Mr. Craig publicly rejected allegations by a gay rights advocate that he had engaged in a homosexual behavior, calling them “completely ridiculous.”
No More Gonzos
by Trapper John

I'm not going to enumerate Alberto Gonzales's many sins right now, as there are other people who can and will do a far better job of that in this space. Suffice it to say that Gonzales brought unprecedented shame on the Justice Department, an agency staffed by some of the brightest, hardest-working public servants in America. George W. Bush, a President with no regard for the sanctity of the Constitution, placed his chief enabler -- the legal equivalent of Elvis's RX-dispensing drug doctor -- in charge of the department that we rely on to protect and enforce that Constitution. The result was over two years of sneering contempt for the rule of law and those who believe in it. The Gonzales Justice Department was really the Bush Administration writ small -- a claque of incompentent cronies, bonded by dumb loyalty to their chief rather than the public interest, with no agenda other than pursuit of their narrow, selfish interests.

And that's why we need to draw a very simple line before any names are floated for the AG vacancy: the Senate should not consider any nominee who has served in any capacity in the Bush Administration.

A Democratic-led Senate cannot allow this Administration to once again graft the cancer of cronyism to the head of the Justice Department. And while it's possible that there are a few honest, qualified public servants toiling somewhere in the bowels of the Administration, Harry Reid isn't Diogenes, and shouldn't waste the Senate's time in determining whether such a creature really exists. The hallmark of Bush Administration personnel recruitment has been its commitment to one, and only one, qualification for employment -- unswerving loyalty to Bush and Cheney. Therefore, it should be assumed that anyone who has served in an appointed capacity in this Administration is loyal to Bush, not the Constitution. And that's enough to disqualify any AG nominee.

Bush has less than a year and a half left in his term. Democrats control both houses of Congress. Given an opportunity to mitigate the historic damge to our Constitution, the Senate cannot allow Bush to have his way with the Justice Department one more time by installing yet another loyalist. It's time for a fresh start. The Senate needs to make Bush appoint someone from outside of the Administration to fill the office once held by Bobby Kennedy. It's that simple.

Bedtime For Gonzo

Marty Kaplan: Bye Bye 'Berto

WANTED: Total toady. Not a cut-and-runner. Must love torture. Contempt for Constitution a plus. Amnesia essential. Benefits include media boredom the day your mission is accomplished, plus a tenured position at the George W. Bush Library and Institute.

The Democrats' responsibility in the wake of Gonzales' resignation
by Glenn Greenwald

Sunday, August 26, 2007

By David Van Biema

Her secret letters show that she spent almost 50 years without sensing the presence of God in her life. What does her experience teach us about the value of doubt?

by Arianna Huffington

Rove may be on his way out the door, but the destructive legacy of his politicization of the federal government will be with us for many years to come.
Bush's Vietnam Blunder
by Jim Hoagland

Desperate presidents resort to desperate rhetoric -- which then calls new attention to their desperation.

Who Lost Iraq?
by James Dobbins

Saturday, August 25, 2007

by Joe Conason

As Karl Rove exits stage right with his ruined dreams of rightist hegemony, all the political signs and portents tell us that America is turning the other way.

Juan Cole outlines the parallels between Bush's disastrous war with Iraq and Napoleon's doomed invasion of Egypt.

by Larry Beinhart

Friday, August 24, 2007

The undisclosed lobbying efforts to depose Prime Minister Maliki by influential Bush associates shine light on how filthy the Beltway is.

By Glenn Greenwald

by Tom Shanker

Bush and defenders of the current war and Vietnam ignore crucial aspects of history, however. Vietnam by 1975 had been wracked by a brutal fratricidal war . . .

Freedom's Watch, the former press secretary's new pro-Iraq war group, has little to do with veterans and everything to do with politics.

By Joe Conason

Thursday, August 23, 2007

America to the Rescue

Fox Attacks: Iran

by Sen. Bernie Sanders

We need to be very, very careful that we don't follow another loud and determined campaign into another disastrous war.

Stephen Schlesinger: Giuliani: Worse Than Bush

The Republican presidential frontrunner, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, has written his foreign policy credo for Foreign Affairs magazine. It is a truly unnerving pronouncement -- even worse than Bush-ism. Not unexpectedly, Mr. Giuliani backs all of the most brazen features of the Bush administration's global agenda. But he tosses in several deeply scary initiatives of his own that George W. never touched.

Time Mag Expose: Giuliani's Real Terrorism Record

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

By Scott Ritter

Although Karl Rove is stepping down, the real menace in the White House is staying on. Dick Cheney, Ritter argues, more than Kim Jung Il or Osama bin Laden, is the greatest threat to American and international security in the world today.

Bush Rewrites History of Vietnam War

By Matthew Rothschild

You can tell Bush is really getting desperate because now he himself is bringing up the Vietnam War. But instead of recognizing it for what it was—a reckless imperial overreach, just like his own Iraq War—Bush twists the history of the Vietnam War to try to buttress the one he’s got us in now.

Karl Rove calls himself Moby Dick. One speechwriter sees himself as St. Francis. Another sees him as Iago. All regard Bush as Abraham Lincoln. In Washington, reality is a myth.

By Sidney Blumenthal

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Real Lesson of the Padilla Conviction

If it had followed the rule of law from the outset, argues David Cole, the Bush Administration could have brought many terrorists to justice by now.

Bush to American Children: Drop Dead!

Monday, August 20, 2007

So this is why they needed six months?

Pushing back against reports that the White House would prevent Gen. David Petraeus from testifying in public about his report on the success of the "surge," Bush administration spokesman Gordon Johndroe said last week that Petraeus will, in fact, testify before Congress, both in public and in private, "prior to . . . Sept. 15."

Anyone want to guess the actual date?


On a conference call with reporters today, Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he's been told that Petraeus will appear on Sept. 11.
McCain suggested that it's just about the calendar. "We're off Sept. 13 and 14 for Rosh Hoshannah," he said. "The Senate debate will begin September 18th."

-- Tim Grieve

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The World According to Rove
Atlantic senior editor Joshua Green discusses Karl Rove's political fantasies and fatal mistakes.

by Frank Rich

by John Sweeney

We've got six coal miners trapped beneath more than 1,500 feet of coal, three brave men who tried to rescue them are dead and six are injured. It's not because of an act of God; it's because of the acts of man.

Another one who can't admit he fucked things up.

August 19, 2007
Spurning Criticism, Rove Blames Democrats

WACO, Tex., Aug. 18 — During the last eight years, Karl Rove has been lionized and vilified, heralded as making the unlikely election victories of President Bush possible and impugned as reaching too high from an unusually powerful White House perch.

In the eyes of his many detractors, he has helped to send the Bush presidency off track in the process.

But in an interview at an IHOP restaurant here, days after he announced his resignation as Mr. Bush’s top political adviser, Mr. Rove defiantly dismissed the rash of fresh critiques that have come his way in the last several days, blaming the Democrats for the divisive tone that has dominated Mr. Bush’s tenure and for which he has frequently taken the blame.

He said he had no regrets over what some even some allies have called his greatest missteps, like his trying and failing to pass a sweeping overhaul of the Social Security system at the start of Mr. Bush’s second term, and the degree to which he seemed to meld partisan politics and official White House policy in his dual duties as a deputy chief of staff and Mr. Bush’s top political strategist.

He strenuously argued with the dominant characterization of him as the Oz — or, with Vice President Dick Cheney, the co-Oz — behind the curtain of Mr. Bush’s White House and presidency, declaring, “I’m the facilitator,” who has merely helped Mr. Bush as he has sought to shape his own views.

Mr. Rove at the same time described himself as an aggressive and studious inside player at the White House who is still one of the four or five officials forming Mr. Bush’s tight-knit, inner circle, but has had to work hard for the position. He dismissed what he called “the idea that I am somehow this all-powerful figure inside the White House.”

“What I’ve learned is that if I want my voice to be heard around the table,” Mr. Rove said, “it can’t simply be, ‘Well, he’s the long-term associate of Bush from Texas’ — I’ve got to dig in.”

And even as he prepares to leave his job, Mr. Rove showed that he is still very much the political maestro trying to corral his party, taking a call from Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, the general chairman of the Republican National Committee, while waiting for a table. He noted afterward that Mr. Martinez had recently been quoted criticizing fellow Republicans on immigration — questioning the approaches of the Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Mr. Rove said he reminded Mr. Martinez that the blame should be focused on a Democrat, namely Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, for what Mr. Rove characterized as failing to shepherd a comprehensive immigration plan the president supported. (Mr. Reid has placed the blame on the White House, saying it failed to forge the political consensus needed to pass the plan.)

There was one stark sign that Mr. Rove was truly leaving. He expressed what no White House aide would express publicly, though many very senior officials have shared the sentiment privately: that is, distaste for the president’s beloved Scottish terrier, Barney, who is seen by some as aloof and entitled. “Barney’s a lump,” he joked. Mr. Rove granted the interview as part of a farewell media tour as his detractors — including many Democrats but also some conservatives — stepped forward to dispute his legacy.

He was alternately emotional and nostalgic, clinical and unbowed, but rarely introspective, saying, “There will be time for regrets; there will be things that I didn’t do as well as I should have, there will be things that I’ve left undone.”

He only described one regret in particular: “I remember having a conversation with a colleague — I want to say not only a colleague, but a very close friend — and responding out of frustration at the end of a seemingly long, continuing dialogue that turned into an argument, and saying something unkind, and it was the worst I ever felt at the White House. I later apologized to him for it.”

Asked why some of his former colleagues, specifically his former deputy Matthew Dowd, have left Mr. Bush’s inner circle in bitterness, Mr. Rove said sadly, “I don’t know.”

In an interview with The New York Times earlier this year, Mr. Dowd, who is no longer on speaking terms with Mr. Rove, had lamented that Mr. Bush’s White House had not followed the style of Mr. Bush’s Texas statehouse in reaching out to Democrats. And Democrats are currently investigating whether Mr. Rove inappropriately pushed for the dismissal last year of several United States attorneys for political purposes. (“Everything was handled appropriately,” Mr. Rove said.)

“The dividers, over the last six years,” he said, “have been the Democrats, who have routinely said he was not elected, he’s illegitimate, he’s a liar, he deliberately misled the country.”

Mr. Rove was asked whether harsh Republican attacks on the national security credentials of various Democrats in 2002, orchestrated by him, had added to the climate. Among the advertisements that year was one from the Georgia Senate race in which the Republican, Saxby Chambliss, called the Democratic incumbent, Max Cleland, a triple-amputee Vietnam veteran soft on defense and flashed the menacing image of Osama Bin Laden.

“President Bush and the White House don’t write the ads for Senate candidates,” Mr. Rove said, calling himself “a convenient scapegoat,” and blaming Democrats for their losses.

Democrats and even some Republicans have criticized Mr. Rove this week for what they have described as a single-minded pursuit of his goal of a “durable” Republican majority, with policies aimed at stealing away traditional Democratic constituencies like Latinos or weakening Democratic power bases like unions.

Voicing indignation at such critiques, he said, “With all due respect, don’t you think they would like to have a durable Democratic majority and put us as an un-durable minority?”

He said, however, that he was pursuing the president’s policy wishes and not his own grand political aims; he described a process whereby Mr. Bush laid out his policy goals early on, and Mr. Rove helped flesh them out by putting him together with top intellectuals.

Members of both parties believe Mr. Rove miscalculated in pursuing the privatization of Social Security, when Mr. Bush was at a high point in the polls following his reelection but when there was little political will to get it done — a failure that some believe badly hurt the president’s standing.

Mr. Rove said that Mr. Bush had been committed to it for so long he had to pursue it, and he had succeeded in putting it on the national agenda for the future.

As Mr. Rove left the IHOP for his hotel here in Waco — some 20 miles from the president’s vacation ranch — it was evident the degree to which he had become a public figure. He was twice stopped by well-wishers who said they admired him.

Later, Mr. Rove sent a note: “I didn’t plant the guy at the IHOP or the woman at the hotel but it would be the subtle personal touch that the Evil Genius would do to throw you off the scent, don’t you think?”

Friday, August 17, 2007

Iraq Timeline: The Broken Record

War Supporters on "the Next Few Months"Check out an interactive timeline showing how it's perpetually a "critical time" in Iraq with progress always just a "few months" away.

Bill Moyers:The Rove Legacy
One-Trick Elephant
By Marie Cocco —
The corpse has a pulse. Or at least the Bush White House and congressional Republicans are counting on the predictable thump, thump, thump about taxes to resuscitate themselves.

A Master of Division
By Joe Conason —
Not long after Americans stood united against terrorism, they had solidified into camps that spewed invective at each other. One of the main reasons for that change was Karl Rove.
Giuliani's Dangerous Bluster

by Joe Conason
Great Recall of China

Whose Report Is It, Anyway?

The "Petraeus Report" -- the supposedly trustworthy mid-September reckoning of military and political progress in Iraq by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker -- is instead looking more like a White House con job in the making.

Keith Olbermann Turns Spotlight on Richard Stickler's Mining Safety Record

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Challenging the Candidates to "Take the Plunge"

Challenging the Candidates to “Take the Plunge”
By Christopher Platt

We Americans are mighty sick of many things -- the war, the administration, soaring healthcare costs, a do-nothing Congress -- essentially, all the things you read about on this website. But one item stands out: We are sick to death of all these contrived, and frankly, premature, political debates. Watching the Presidential hopefuls go through this made-for-TV exercise overandoverandoverandoverandover isn’t just not constructive, helpful or informative. It has proven to be a crashing bore. It will be interesting to see whether we feel the same about debates held a year from now.

Consider this essay as a challenge, or an open invitation, if you will, to all the Presidential candidates—not just the handful of Democrats or Republicans whose names we already know, but the dozens of others who have expressed interest in the job (look at to see how big the list really is), to try something different.

Between now and the 2008 elections, those of you running for national office will be traveling thousands of miles, at the mercy of the weather, eating all kinds of bizarre foods, kissing uncounted babies, shaking innumerable hands, and sleeping away from home in unfamiliar surroundings for weeks on-end. Much of this activity is essentially meaningless, but is deemed necessary if you are to succeed in your quest. Everybody knows that. But, here’s a campaign activity that is, in fact, full of meaning and significance. And, minus the kissing babies and shaking hands, you might even say it’s not a lot different from what you are doing already. Let me explain …

A couple of months ago, the mayoral candidates in Nashville, Tennessee, made history. After participating in a Homelessness and Housing Mayoral Candidate Forum, organized by the Nashville Homeless Power Project, all six agreed to “take the plunge.” In this case, that meant The Urban Plunge, a program devised by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) more than 20 years ago, to give economically privileged people the chance to dress down, do without showers or baths for a few days, empty their wallets, and try their hand at living on the streets overnight. Although many thousands of people from nearly all walks of life have participated in Urban Plunges since the 1980s, politicians running for office had not been among them. Not until Nashville.

In Nashville, the purpose was to provide all the candidates with a firsthand experience of homelessness, so they could more-fully understand the impact of public policy decisions on those who live in the streets. They all committed to spending ten hours on the streets of Nashville. That’s not the 48 hours The Plunge normally entails. But, it’s a start.
In their short stints as faceless indigents, the candidates had a few simple goals, including …
• Find a legal place to sleep outdoors
• Sleep on a bench in a public place for 20 minutes or more
• Enter a restaurant and ask if they could sweep the sidewalk or do some other menial work in exchange for food
• Find a place to eat breakfast
• Ask for money (“panhandle”) in a place where they would be least-likely to be recognized
• Find a place where they can go to the bathroom when necessary…

One of NCH’s supporters was so impressed by the Nashville experiment that he suggested inviting -- or challenging -- all the candidates running for national or even statewide office in 2008, to take the same bold step as the mayoral hopefuls in Nashville. The letters that organization is now sending out say, in part, “Take this chance to show your commitment to a population that really needs your commitment. Take the opportunity to show your supporters -- or even your opponents -- that you really care about the downtrodden and want to help. Take the time to learn what life is like when the safety net of friends, family and community that most of us take for granted, has holes big enough to walk through.”

The Urban Plunge is an experience you don’t soon forget. And, unlike those who are living there already, The Plunge is completely safe. Participants are accompanied at all times by an experienced homeless person, serving as their guide, whom NCH (or its local affiliate) provides for their stint on the streets. The organization has collected the stories of hundreds of people whose lives have been enriched and ennobled by seeing what life is like without money, food, showers, or shelter. Yours will be too. And think of the power that will flow from your post-Plunge press conference.

I hope that all the candidates -- and NCH is writing to them all -- will take advantage of this opportunity. Even if you aren’t a candidate, this is a meaningful learning experience for anyone. If you contact NCH, at 2201 P St NW, Washington, DC 20037, Phone: 202.462.4822, Email:, or its counterpart in your home town, you can get more details and information on the program, and reserve a place for yourself at a Plunge location in your home state, or in Washington, DC.

Homelessness in the land of plenty is nothing new. But the first national discussion of the problem, as far as I can recall, didn’t happen until after one memorable TV broadcast in late 1987. Sunday Morning, hosted by Charles Kuralt, told the story of “The Grate People of Foggy Bottom,” that is, the homeless Americans who could be found warming themselves over the sidewalk steam grates near the State Department. Then, as now, a booming economy, coupled with a tightfisted (at least for social programs) Republican administration, had put a critical number of Americans out on the street. Then, as now, private organizations, church- and synagogue-run shelters, and the forerunners of NCH, tried to pick up the slack, while trying to spread the “There but for the grace of God… ” message. That’s when the Urban Plunge began.

Sadly, history has repeated itself – with a vengeance. This is the issue that’s always here, even as those of us in urban America try to step delicately over or around it, and close our eyes and our hearts to the tragedy unfolding on our streets. Whoever ends up winning the White House next time will have a chance to do something substantive about homelessness. How much easier it will be for a President-elect to lead us to a remedy, after gaining the firsthand knowledge of the problem by simply “taking the plunge.”

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Max Roach, a Founder of Modern Jazz, Dies at 83


Max Roach rewrote the rules of drumming in the 1940’s and spent the rest of his career breaking musical barriers.

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