Saturday, May 31, 2008

MIR: McClellan, Minister of Misinformation

Friday, May 30, 2008

Back Talk: Billy Bragg
by Christine Smallwood

British punk rocker and activist Billy Bragg talks about his new album and the politics and economics of free online music.

Of course the White House couldn't see the revealing "What Happened" coming. It was McClellan's job as press secretary to conceal himself.
By Louis Bayard

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Where is the outrage?
By Robert Scheer
Are we Americans truly savages or merely tone-deaf in matters of morality, and therefore more guilty of terminal indifference than venality? It’s a question demanding an answer in response to the publication of the detailed 370-page report on U.S. complicity in torture, issued last week by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Arab-Americans are concentrated in swing states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. And the early signs are not good for McCain.
By Juan Cole

McClellan says in new book that White House used propaganda to sell war

By Michael D. Shear

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Dylan hits ... 67!

Masters Of War

Masters of War

Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
While the death count gets higher
Then you hide in your mansion
While the young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

Friday, May 23, 2008

By Joe Conason —

Perhaps the senator hasn’t been paying attention for the past few decades, for he somehow seems to have surrounded himself with exactly the kind of Washington hustlers he professes to despise.

Faced with this explosive subject, HBO could have played it safe and approved a mealy-mouthed "both sides made mistakes" film, the sort TV networks usually churn out on the rare occasions when they dare to tackle controversial current events. To its credit, it set the bar higher. "Recount" reveals what actually happened in Florida. And that's an audacious feat.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

War at the Gas Pump
by Robert Scheer:

How have the Saudis thanked George W. Bush for protecting their sorry oil well of a country? Just check the price of gas.

What is it, and is it invading our country?

Webb: Bush Would Be First President In History To Veto Benefits For Vets»

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) discussed his 21st Century GI Bill, which would dramatically expand educational benefits for returning veterans. President Bush, however, has vowed to veto the bill. Webb blasted Bush for this unprecedented action:

No president in history has vetoed a benefits bill for those who served. … The Republican party is on the block here, to clearly demonstrate that they value military service or suffer the consequences of losing the support of people who’ve served. … The president has a choice here to show how much he values military service.

Watch it:

The Pentagon has suggested that Webb’s bill is too generous in conferring benefits to soldiers after “only” two years of service. However, as Webb pointed out, soldiers would still have to finish their enlistment term. What’s more, as a recent CBO report showed, any loss in reenlistment rates is entirely made up for by increased military recruits.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and his allies have introduced their own version of the bill, which would reserve the most generous benefits for those who have served at least 12 years. Webb pointed out that it would exclude the vast majority of service members:

Seventy to 75 percent of the ground troops in the Army and the Marine Corps have left the service by the end of their first enlistment. And those are the people who are not being taken care of. … They are not getting an opportunity for the first-class education they deserve.

As Webb pointed out, conservatives need to match their rhetoric on supporting the troops with their actions.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Last Roundup

Is the government compiling a secret list of citizens to detain under martial law?

By Christopher Ketcham

Sunday, May 18, 2008

McCain Can Run, but Bush Won’t Hide
For all the Republican self-flagellation, it’s still not clear that the party understands the dimensions of its latest defeat and its full implications for John McCain in November.
"Regardless of who the president is come November, we have a big mess, a big, big mess to be cleaned up, and I don't know whether it can be cleaned up. The toxicity of the spill may be so great that there's nothing we can do about it. If that's the case, where are we now as America and as Americans?"

"Our biggest enemy that we should have been afraid of during these last eight years was perhaps an internal one, and I don't mean ourselves," Moore said. "I mean people that were up to absolutely no good when it came to what was best for this country and best for the world.

"It's my sincere hope that next Jan. 20, it's not just a transition taking place at the White House, where the U-Haul pulls up to take his stuff to Crawford (Texas). I think there should be a perp-walk coming out of the West Wing. The crimes that these people have committed go far beyond _ and I'm not saying it on any kind of an emotional level or what my feelings are about Bush or whatever. I think there are very specific things that need to be looked at in terms of what they've done." -Michael Moore

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Don't Talk to your Enemies; Just Feed Them.

U.S. to Send N. Korea 500,000 Tons of Food Aid
State Department Denies Revival of Program Is Tied to Progress in Nuclear Talks

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 17, 2008; A14

The Bush administration said yesterday it will restart food aid to North Korea and provide it with more than 500,000 tons of food -- the largest one-year amount since 1999.

U.S. officials said aid will begin to flow for the first time since 2005 because they reached a breakthrough with Pyongyang on oversight of how the food would be distributed, including random inspections and allowing Korean-speaking aid workers into the country.

Officials said the deal was unrelated to a separate effort to implement North Korea's promise to give up its nuclear weapons, but both the nuclear deal and the food agreement were reached after sustained diplomacy by U.S. officials. Talks on the food aid began last October at the administration's request, about the same time the United States and its negotiating partners achieved a breakthrough on the nuclear disarmament talks. Officials at the U.S. Agency for International Development made three trips to Pyongyang in the last eight months to achieve the deal.

"We don't see any connection," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "We're doing this because America is a compassionate nation and the United States and the American people are people who reach out to those in need."

North Korea's 23 million citizens face a devastating crisis of food shortages and famine, and "the prospect of hunger-related deaths occurring in the next several months is approaching certainty," according to analysis released this month by the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

Marcus Noland, one of the authors and an expert on the North Korean economy, scoffed at the notion that there is no connection between the food agreement and nuclear diplomacy.

"The United States government absolutely has maintained a separation between humanitarian assistance and diplomatic goals," Noland said. "In practice, we and others link the provision of food aid" to diplomacy. He said that he has previously documented 12 instances in which North Korean food aid has been tied to U.S. diplomatic actions, such as one major delivery that a senior Clinton administration official admitted was linked to a North Korean moratorium on launching missiles.

At this time, "the State Department is looking for every policy lever it can find" to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear programs, Noland said.

Beginning in June, the U.N. World Food Program will distribute 400,000 tons of the new food aid, while U.S. nongovernmental organizations will distribute the rest.

U.S. food aid to North Korea reached a peak in 1999 of about 685,000 tons, worth $222 million, when the Clinton administration was seeking its own agreements with North Korea, according to the Congressional Research Service. U.S. food aid then fell dramatically during the Bush administration before ending entirely in 2005 over a dispute about monitoring.

There have been numerous reports of the North Korean military and senior officials diverting as much as 30 percent of aid for their own use, including reselling donated commodities at steep markups. But the United States and the World Food Program appeared to have little leverage to negotiate new terms because China and South Korea at the time shipped huge amounts of aid with few or no conditions attached.

When the U.S. aid program was shut down three years ago, the World Food Program had 50 monitors and five sub-offices around the country. But the North Korean government did not allow any Korean speakers on the teams and would not allow inspections without six- to 10-day notice. In addition, monitors had no access to the food once it arrived in the country.

Under the new agreement, Korean-speaking aid workers will be permitted, random monitoring inspections will be allowed and officials will have access to commodities in warehouses and other facilities, according to a USAID official involved in the negotiations. Officials expect to employ 65 monitors and have five sub-offices.

Friday, May 16, 2008

by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - In separate speeches delivered an ocean apart, the two standard bearers of the Republican Party Thursday offered rosy visions of a future designed to gladden the hearts of Israel-centred neo-conservatives without offering any details about how their dreams will be achieved.
Bateman: "The Bush officials ordered the torture"
Open Thread
by openthread

Matthews tears this clown's throat out. Words can't do it justice, you just have to see it. The fun begins at about four minutes in:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lying bastards...

Hypocrisy on Hamas
McCain Was for Talking Before He Was Against It

By James P. Rubin
Friday, May 16, 2008; A19

If the recent exchanges between President Bush, Barack Obama and John McCain on Hamas and terrorism are a preview of the general election, we are in for an ugly six months. Despite his reputation in the media as a charming maverick, McCain has showed that he is also happy to use Nixon-style dirty campaign tactics. By charging recently that Hamas is rooting for an Obama victory, McCain tried to use guilt by association to suggest that Obama is weak on national security and won't stand up to terrorist organizations, or that, as Richard Nixon might have put it, Obama is soft on Israel.

President Bush picked up this theme yesterday. Without naming Obama during his speech last night to Israel's Knesset, Bush suggested that Democrats want to "negotiate with terrorists" while Republicans want to fight terrorists.

The Obama campaign was right to criticize the president for his remarks and for engaging in partisan politics while overseas. Many presidents have said things abroad that could be construed as violating this unwritten rule of American politics. But it is hard to remember any president abusing the prestige of his office in as crude a way as Bush did yesterday. Charging your opponents with appeasement and likening them to Neville Chamberlain in the Knesset is a brutal blow. It is bad enough that Republicans use the politics of personal destruction here at home, but to deploy that kind of political weapon at an occasion as solemn as an American president addressing the parliament of a friendly government marks a new low.

McCain, meanwhile, is guilty of hypocrisy. I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton and believe that she was right to say, about McCain's statement on Hamas, "I don't think that anybody should take that seriously." Unfortunately, the Republicans know that some people will. That's why they say such things.

But given his own position on Hamas, McCain is the last politician who should be attacking Obama. Two years ago, just after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections, I interviewed McCain for the British network Sky News's "World News Tonight" program. Here is the crucial part of our exchange:

I asked: "Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?"

McCain answered: "They're the government, sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that."

For some Europeans in Davos, Switzerland, where the interview took place, that's a perfectly reasonable answer. But it is an unusual if not unique response for an American politician from either party. And it is most certainly not how the newly conservative presumptive Republican nominee would reply today.

Given that exchange, the new John McCain might say that Hamas should be rooting for the old John McCain to win the presidential election. The old John McCain, it appears, was ready to do business with a Hamas-led government, while both Clinton and Obama have said that Hamas must change its policies toward Israel and terrorism before it can have diplomatic relations with the United States.

Even if McCain had not favored doing business with Hamas two years ago, he had no business smearing Barack Obama. But given his stated position then, it is either the height of hypocrisy or a case of political amnesia for McCain to inject Hamas into the American election.

The writer, an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International Affairs, was an assistant secretary of state and the State Department's chief spokesman during the Clinton administration.
Countdown: Special Comment "Bush Shut The Hell Up" Pt.01

Countdown: Special Comment "Bush Shut The Hell Up" Pt.02

Tom Friedman's latest declaration of war

The nation's leading foreign policy pundit finds the new Soviet Union.

by Glenn Greenwald
Bateman: George W. Bush gives up his game

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Tortured Law on Torture
by Robert Scheer: Those confessions elicited from Gitmo detainees are proving legally worthless--and an enduring indictment of the moral bankruptcy of George W. Bush.

Show Us Your 1040, Mrs. McCain
Double standards are endemic in American journalism. But Cindy McCain, wife of the Republican presidential candidate, displayed poor taste in flaunting her family’s special immunity from press scrutiny.
by Joe Conason
McCain's lack of candor on reproductive rights
On issues like abortion and sex education, the candidate is neither as moderate nor as principled as some might think.
By Joe Conason

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The GOP's '08 Election Anxiety
by Terence Samuel
The race Democrats should be watching Tuesday is a special election in Mississippi. The reddest of congressional districts is poised to elect a Democrat, sending yet another signal that Republicans are in serious trouble come November.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

McCain embraces Bush's radical view's of executive power
The GOP nominee actually complains that it is judicial power that is excessive and is unduly limiting the powers of the president.
by Glenn Greenwald
They're making it too easy on us
by kos

I hope Republicans stay this stupid all year:

House Republicans will hold a rally with President Bush on Wednesday morning, with all 199 members invited to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to show solidarity with the president, according to GOP sources.

I hope there are lots of pictures taken with Mr. 28%. People may not be able to vote against the nation's Worst President Ever, but they sure as heck can punish those who continue to prop up his regressive agenda.

Unfortunately, I think Tim F. over at Balloon-Juice has it right:

I have to assume that this little pep rally will be about as well attended as Alberto ‘abu’ Gonzales’s farewell party at the DoJ. Still, if this is the political genius coordinating 2008 Congressional races you can sort of understand why Republican partisans outside of government have gotten so frantic.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Increasingly opposed to the Vietnam War, Robert F. Kennedy struggled over whether he should challenge his party’s incumbent president, Lyndon Johnson, in 1968. His younger brother, Teddy, was against it. His wife, Ethel, urged him on. Many feared he would be assassinated, like the older brother he mourned.

by Thurston Clarke

Sunday, May 04, 2008

BORED by those endless replays of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright? If so, go directly to YouTube, search for “John Hagee Roman Church Hitler,” and be recharged by a fresh jolt of clerical jive.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

What if Abortion Became Illegal?
By The NYT Editorial Board

A lot of elected officials say they want to see Roe v. Wade repealed, clearing the way for abortion to be made illegal. But few of them go the extra step and say what they would like to see done to women who have abortions. Throw a scared 17-year-old woman in jail? For how long?

Since a couple more Supreme Court nominations could doom Roe, the National Institute for Reproductive Health, an offshoot of Naral Pro-Choice New York, is trying to inject this question into the presidential campaign. They’re doing it in a TV commercial aimed at John McCain, who –unlike Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — is strongly anti-choice.

The ad aims to focus voter attention on the harsh real-world consequences if Roe were overturned and abortion became a criminal act.

Here’s the ad:

Fox News Porn - Watch more free videos
McCain is lying about the Democrats' health care proposals, regrettably
by smintheus

The NYT highlights yet more lies emanating from the mendacious 71 year old John McCain, this time about the health care reform proposals of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. McCain often states or implies that Obama and Clinton are advocating for a single-payer system or a nationalized health care system such as are common in Europe. Regrettably, they are doing no such thing. Read more

Friday, May 02, 2008

Church, State and Campaign ‘08
By Bill Boyarsky —
We are letting religious fanaticism dominate the presidential campaign. The candidates have brought it on themselves with tedious references to their churchgoing piety. Now we’re all paying for it. Who cares what their preachers say?

The Nonsense Gap
By E.J. Dionne —
Do white right-wing preachers have it easier than black left-wing preachers? Is there a double standard?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

By Robert Scheer —

Would President John McCain forget who made that 3 a.m. call to the special White House phone? I suspect that his aides would not just let him nod off back to sleep, even if they were intimidated by the prospect of one of his alleged intemperate outbursts, but might our septuagenarian president be less than fully focused?

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