The debate spiraled toward a rather messy conclusion, with John Edwards (and Barack Obama playing Tubbs to John's Crocket) giving Hillary Clinton a colonic on the issue of drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. I think by then I was too tired to care, but Chris Matthews and company are gleefully dissecting that final moment for its potential to take Hillary down. They're already writing the GOP talking points. Finally, something Chris can get excited about.
What's sad, is that whatever happened tonight, the media already was poised to write a headline about Hillary being hit on character and "doubletalk." Now, they'll have this final bit to feed on for a news cycle.
Chris is in hog heaven.
Oh, and Dennis Kucinich says yep, he did see a UFO.
Clinton, rivals spar as Democrats debate By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated
PHILADELPHIA - Democrats Barack Obama and John Edwards sharply challenged Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's candor, consistency and judgment Tuesday in a televised debate that underscored her front-runner status two months before the first presidential primary votes.
Obama, the Illinois senator, began immediately, saying Clinton has changed her positions on the North American Free Trade Agreement, torture policies and the Iraq war. Leadership, he said, does not mean "changing positions whenever it's politically convenient."
Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, was even sharper at times, saying Clinton "defends a broken system that's corrupt in Washington, D.C." He stood by his earlier claim that she has engaged in "doubletalk."
Clinton, standing between the two men, largely shrugged off the remarks and defended her positions. She has been the focus of Republican candidates' "conversations and consternation," she said, because she is leading in the polls.
So far, the Democratic debate in Philly is three on one -- First Barack, then John Edwards, then Tim Russert going right at Hillary, on whether Barack plans to attack her (yawn), then on Social Security, on "double talk", and finally, on Iran.
So far, to no avail. She's a machine.
Now Russert is handing the hammer to Chris Dodd to give him a crack at Hillary on her Iran vote.
And now Biden is taking on the Iran vote, and he's doing the best job of arguing that Hillary's vote was "bad policy" that opens the door to Bush going to war. Best one liner so far: "actions have consequences; big nations can't bluff."
Now it's Barack's turn, and he's talking about talking to Iran and offering them "carrots." It's a bit boring, I have to say, but it's classic Barack.
Hillary's hit-back: "when you go to the negotiating table with a beligerent power like Iran, you need both carrots and sticks." She says she believes we should be engaged in active diplomacy with Iran now.
What's interesting is that Hillary seems to be running for the support of independents, and Democrats who want a tough president and who might be nervous about handing the reigns over to Democrats. Her strategy -- forget the boys in the room and run for the general. Smart strategy. She looks more and more centrist the more the others talk, and Kucinich and Gravel haven't even gotten started yet.
...and I thought this debate was going to be a snooze...
9:30 p.m. --
Barack just got off his best line so far, after Tim Russert asked a stupid question about whether the candidates will "pledge that Iran will not get nuclear weapons" on their watch. Said Barack: "we have been governed by fear for the last six years... " adding that the Republican candidates are continuing that process. He also said that, in moving away from the fearmongering of the right, "we have to stop acting like we're the weakest nation in the world, instead of the strongest nation in the world." Well done.
Biden just made a good point, that Pakistan has hundreds, even thousands of kilograms of enriched uranium, and that it makes no sense to go to war with Iran to stop them getting a few kilograms.
Bill Richardson is talking now, recounting his resume as a diplomat or something ... and ... well ... I'm not listening...
It's five minutes to ten, nearly a full hour into the debate, and Brian Williams has just asked the first question in this debate that wasn't an invitation to the other candidates to attack Hillary Clinton. Stunning. The question: "Senator Obama, what is your relevant experience to be president?" Barack is talking about his experience bringing people together. I have to tell you, I don't think that what the base is looking for is someone who can find common ground with Republicans. Just a thought.
Now, Bill Richardson is stepping up to the plate. He just said he's hearing this "holier than thou attitude towards Senator Clinton and its bothering be because its bordering on personal attacks that we don't need." He is pointing out that he has differences with Mrs. Clinton too, "but its important that we save the ammunition for the Republicans, if we continue I believe, harping on the past..." and on Clinton's electability ..." and not focusing on the future ... the reality on the electability issue is that the last senator to be elected president was John Kennedy, that's 40 years ago. " He added that the Dems need to stay positive, and that he "trust Senator Clinton, he just disagrees with her." Coming to Mrs. Clinton's defense makes him look quite chivalrous.
Now Dodd is stepping in, slapping down John Boy for condemning Hillary for taking defense industry money while he's forking it in from the trial lawyers. Meow! This thing is getting good!!! Hell, Chris Matthews was right -- attack politics is damned entertaining!!!
In the midst of the food fight over who is more of a take-money hypocrite, Joe Biden just got off THE line of the night. The set up is that Brian Williams quoted Rudy Giuliani pooh poohing Hillary's qualifications to be president -- that's what got the whole Richardson v. Edwards v. Dodd v. Clinton exchange rolling. Now, the payoff. Said Biden: "I'm not running against Hillary Clinton, I'm running to be the leader of the free world ... and the irony is Rudy Giuliani, probably the most underqualified man since George W. Bush to seek the presidency, is here talking about any of the people here. Rudy Giuliani -- I mean think about it -- there's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb and 9/11. ... there's nothing else. And I mean it sincerely, he is genuinely not qualified to be president. ..." This is why I love Biden. He really is the coolest mofo in the race. Hilarious!
And with that, Tim Russert went right back to setting up attacks on Hillary, this time, on Social Security.
Now they're talking high energy prices. Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and even John Edwards managed to get through the answer without back-slapping Hillary. Edwards says we should conserve. Why does he irritate me so much this time around...?
So far, it looks like the media got its self fulfilling prophecy on the food fight. A few liveblog choces:
The cable chat media, led by Chris Matthews of MSNBC (backed by his seconds, Chuck Todd and Howard Fineman), and their friends in the print press, have a message for the non-Clinton Democratic candidates: "Bring me the head of that Clinton woman!"
Matthews and company are desperately casting around, offering beligerent free advice to Barack Obama: ATTACK HILLARY NOW! Why are they so certain that Barack must quit to professorial schtick and lop off Hil's head? Becauase John Edwards, for all his shrillness, isn't getting the job done. And for the mainstream media hit squad that tried with all its might, but failed to take down President Bill Clinton over that phony scandal with a chubby, horny intern, the job must get done.
Matthews in particular seems bent on justifying his near decade of obsession with the Clintons' sex life, and his spittle-mouthed, high horsed jihad against the former president back in the bad old days of 1998, when the right wing Congress and their bounty hunter, Ken "show me the panties" Starr, sought to undo the results of two elections by hounding a sitting president out of office for doing what just about every president before him has done: cheat on his wife. (Just a guess, they probably all lied about it, too.)
And now that Hillary Clinton seems to be running away with the Democratic nomination for president, she... must ... be ... stopped. And if the media can't do it themselves (too obvious) then Barack had damned well better start the shelling.
If he doesn't, the media bete noires say, he's toast. He can't beat her if he doesn't beat her. The desperation to see a bar room brawl is so thick that yesterday on "Hardball," Pat Buchanan, who usually holds it together a lot better on "the race thing," at least on TV, actually mused that Obama "sure doesn't come off like a Black guy from the south side of Chicago." Huh? What's he supposed to do to Mrs. Clinton? Smack that ass and call her a "ho?"
Meanwhile, on the other side of the political aisle, there's no competing narrative demanding why Mitt Romney doesn't mount a real, full throated attack against Rudy Giuliani, the front runner for the GOP nod. The assumption is that there is so much to attack with Hillary, but with Rudy? Not so much. I mean, he's "America's mayor" after all -- what's there to attack? The media insists that the only thing worth attacking Rudy for is his apostasy on social values issues -- gay marriage and abortion. Beyond that, Matthews and Co. can't imagine anything, by golly by gosh, that Mitt or Huck or Fred could possibly want to bash Mr. 9/11 for...
Honestly, with the exception of David Shuster and of course, Keith Olbermann, it's almost as if the powdered men of the MSM have formed a Jim Jones-like cult whose ritual chant is an incantation to burn Hillary in the fires of hell. ... and her cheating but still getting love from his wife, still more popular than any of the TV talking heads, and more manly to boot hubby, too. (Haters.)
Anyhoo, the Dems will attempt to live up to the Mathews brawl-o-meter tonight, if Barack and his team are that easily hypnotized (earth to Barack, look how well nasty attacks have worked for John Edwards!) The debate will be moderated by the almost rhythmically bland Brian Williams and the Roger Ailes golf buddy posing as an objective journalist, Tim Russert.
Canadian prof Francois Furstenberg writes a brilliant op-ed on the origins of terrorism, and the Jacobins of the French Revolution -- the progenitors of today's modern-day Jacobins, the neoconservatives. A few highlights:
The Jacobins shared a defining ideological feature. They divided the world between pro- and anti-Revolutionaries — the defenders of liberty versus its enemies. The French Revolution, as they understood it, was the great event that would determine whether liberty was to prevail on the planet or whether the world would fall back into tyranny and despotism.
The stakes could not be higher, and on these matters there could be no nuance or hesitation. One was either for the Revolution or for tyranny. ...
... Confronted by a monarchical Europe united in opposition to revolutionary France — old Europe, they might have called it — the Jacobins rooted out domestic political dissent. It was the beginning of the period that would become infamous as the Terror. ...
...Among the Jacobins’ greatest triumphs was their ability to appropriate the rhetoric of patriotism — Le Patriote Français was the title of Brissot’s newspaper — and to promote their political program through a tightly coordinated network of newspapers, political hacks, pamphleteers and political clubs. ...
... Insisting that their partisan views were identical to the national will, believing that only they could save France from apocalyptic destruction, Jacobins could not conceive of legitimate dissent. Political opponents were treasonous, stabbing France and the Revolution in the back.
To defend the nation from its enemies, Jacobins expanded the government’s police powers at the expense of civil liberties, endowing the state with the power to detain, interrogate and imprison suspects without due process. Policies like the mass warrantless searches undertaken in 1792 — “domicilary visits,” they were called — were justified, according to Georges Danton, the Jacobin leader, “when the homeland is in danger.” ... If the French Terror had a slogan, it was that attributed to the great orator Louis de Saint-Just: “No liberty for the enemies of liberty.” Saint-Just’s pithy phrase (like President Bush’s variant, “We must not let foreign enemies use the forums of liberty to destroy liberty itself”) could serve as the very antithesis of the Western liberal tradition.
On this principle, the Terror demonized its political opponents, imprisoned suspected enemies without trial and eventually sent thousands to the guillotine. All of these actions emerged from the Jacobin worldview that the enemies of liberty deserved no rights.
Though it has been a topic of much attention in recent years, the origin of the term “terrorist” has gone largely unnoticed by politicians and pundits alike. The word was an invention of the French Revolution, and it referred not to those who hate freedom, nor to non-state actors, nor of course to “Islamofascism.”
A terroriste was, in its original meaning, a Jacobin leader who ruled France during la Terreur.
Brilliantly done. One could draw many of the same parallels between todays angry wngers and the authoritarian Bolsheviks who founded the Soviet Union. ... Anyway, read the entire article here.
Condoleezza Rice used to be a Democrat. She even aided Gary Hart back in the day, though you're unlikely to get her to admit it today... but with her current boss fading into the dustbin of history, and likely taking her reputation down the chute with him, Condi appears to be going for one final kick -- she's talking to former presidents Clinton and Carter, and to her friend, Madeleine Albright, whose lefty dad taught Condi in Denver, to try and scrounge up the deal for Palestinian statehood that eluded the former presidents, the hardline Israelis, and the late Yasser Arafat.
And you know what? As much of a disappointment as Dr. Rice has been for this country -- her stewardship as National Security Advisor was abysmal, and she has been a lackluster secretary of state -- not to mention her failure to give her boss, the president, good, forceful advice on how to deal with Russia, about which she is supposedly and expert ... despite all of that, I'm rooting for her. Not for her sake, and defnitely not for the Bushies ... but for the people of Palestine and Israel alike, their respective governments notwithstanding.
Let's hope that for once, Condi gets one right.
Related: here's a good backgrounder on the conflict, including a discussion of the little known real roadblock to peace between the Palestinians and Israelis: water.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House scolded the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Friday for staging a phony news conference about assistance to victims of wildfires in southern California. The agency—much maligned for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina over two years ago—arranged to have FEMA employees play the part of independent reporters Tuesday and ask questions of Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the agency's deputy director.
The questions were predictably soft and gratuitous.
"I'm very happy with FEMA's response," Johnson said in reply to one query from an agency employee.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said it was not appropriate that the questions were posed by agency staffers instead of reporters. FEMA was responsible for the "error in judgment," she said, adding that the White House did not know about it beforehand and did not condone it. ...
"FEMA has issued an apology, saying that they had an error in judgment when they were attempting to get out a lot of information to reporters, who were asking for answers to a variety of questions in regard to the wildfires in California," Perino said. "It's not something I would have condoned. And they—I'm sure—will not do it again."
She said the agency was just trying to provide information to the public, through the press, because there were so many questions.
"I don't think that there was any mal-intent," Perino said "It was just a bad way to handle it, and they know that."
What do they have to pay this girl to get up in front of cameras and reporters every day looking as dim witted and in denial as Mrs. Larry Craig...? You're dying inside, a little bit every day, aren't you, Dana...?
FEMA gave real reporters only 15 minutes notice about Tuesday's news conference . But because there was so little advance notice, the agency made available an 800 number so reporters could call in. And many did, although it was a listen-only arrangement.
On Tuesday, FEMA employees had played the part of reporters. Johnson issued a statement Friday, saying that FEMA's goal was "to get information out as soon as possible, and in trying to do so we made an error in judgment."
"Our intent was to provide useful information and be responsive to the many questions we have received," he said. "We can and must do better."
Officials at the Homeland Security Department, which includes FEMA, expressed their concern.
"This is simply inexcusable and offensive to the secretary that such a mistake could be made," Homeland Security spokeswoman Laura Keehner said Friday, referring to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. "Stunts such as this will not be tolerated or repeated."
Keehner said senior leadership is considering whether a punishment is necessary.
IF punishment is necessary????
These clods are looking more and more like the old Soviet government every day -- the decrepit, dying one that tipped over, apparently at the mere behest of Ronald Reagan...
Is Karl Rove gone yet???
Cue Mary Landrieu of Louisiana (hellloooooo, Katrina!) who is now demanding an investigation, in her role as chairman of the Senate's Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery.
The Georgia teen sentenced to a decade behind bars for a consensual sex act with a girl two years younger, is finally freed after the Georgia Supreme Court on Friday ruled that his sentence was grossly unfair, constituting cruel and unusual punishment. Thank God. This case was an embarrassment to the State of Georgia, and to the country. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
case, which sparked protest marches and demonstrations in Douglasville, where Wilson was prosecuted. Douglas County prosecutors, meanwhile, have vehemently denied race played a role, noting all the defendants and victims in the case are black.
The case stems from a drug- and alcohol-fueled New Year's Eve party Wilson attended at a Douglasville hotel in 2003. Wilson was charged with raping a 17-year-old girl at the party, but was acquitted. He was ultimately found guilty of felony aggravated child molestation for receiving oral sex from the 15-year-old girl, a crime that carried a minimum 10-year prison sentence under state law at the time.
Four other male youths at the party pleaded guilty to child molestation of the 15-year-old and sexual battery of the 17-year-old. A fifth pleaded guilty to false imprisonment. Their party was captured on a profanity-laden and sexually graphic video filmed by one of the male youths.
Since Wilson's conviction, the former Republican state lawmaker who authored the state Child Protection Act in 1995 has repeatedly insisted it was never his intent to lock up teenagers involved in consensual sex acts. Last year, the Legislature changed the law to make similar acts a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in prison.
The Supreme Court noted that legal change in the 48-page opinion it issued in Wilson's case Friday morning: "For the law to punish Wilson as it would an adult, with the extraordinarily harsh punishment of ten years in prison without the possibility of probation or parole, appears to be grossly disproportionate to his crime," wrote Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, who sided with the majority in the court's 4-3 decision in favor of freeing Wilson.
In ruling Friday, the Supreme Court upheld the June 11 decision of Monroe County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson, who ordered Wilson freed from prison. Judge Wilson, no relation to Genarlow Wilson, also ordered his felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. But the Supreme Court said the judge erred in resentencing Wilson "for a misdemeanor crime that didn't exist when the conduct in question occurred." The court said Judge Wilson should instead set aside Wilson's sentence altogether. Judge Wilson did not respond to a message left at his office Friday.
Veda Cannon, the mother of the 15-year-old girl in Wilson's case, declined to comment. But in an interview in June, Cannon said Wilson should never have been criminally charged and imprisoned for receiving oral sex from her daughter. Cannon said the sex between her daughter, Wilson and the four other teens was consensual and regrets she didn't ask prosecutors not to charge them. Critics have pointed out, however, that the age of consent in Georgia is 16.
Good news for Genarlow and his family, but as the AJC points out in an article today, the Georgia legislature still has some work to do:
because he felt that he'd never be free if he were on the sex offender registry. "I just don't feel I'm a sexual predator," he said.
Those sweeping limits have stranded other young offenders with virtually no place to go. Also convicted at age 17 of having oral sex with a 15 -year-old, Jeffery York, 23, of Polk County has resorted to sleeping in a camper van in the woods to comply with the registry. When she was 17, Wendy Whitaker, 28, of Harlem had oral sex with a teen about to turn 16; her sodomy conviction landed her on the registry and forced her and her husband to move twice already.
Now that the Supreme Court has issued a common-sense ruling that sex between teens is not the equivalent of adults preying on children, it's the Legislature's turn to act on reason. Lawmakers must amend the sex offender registry law so that it distinguishes between two immature high school kids hooking up at a party to a pedophile molesting the toddler next door.
Teens convicted of consensual sex acts are not a risk to society, a fact that the General Assembly conceded when it changed the law under which Wilson went to prison. In February 2005, a Douglas County jury convicted Wilson of aggravated child molestation for having oral sex with a classmate about two years younger than him. The conviction hinged on one fact: the two-year age gap.
The gap allowed prosecutors to charge Wilson with aggravated child molestation, which, by a strange twist in Georgia law, carried a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence that could not be commuted by the parole board or the governor.
A year after Wilson's conviction, the Legislature admitted the unfairness of criminalizing sexual behavior between two consenting high school students and rewrote the law so that similar behavior is now a misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 12 months in jail. Yet, the Legislature did nothing to help the teens tripped up by the old law.
In the largest call-up of U.S. diplomats since the Vietnam War, the State Department is planning to order some of its personnel to serve at the American Embassy in Iraq because of a lack of volunteers. Those designated "prime candidates" - from 200 to 300 diplomats - will be notified Monday that they have been selected for one-year postings to fill the 40 to 50 vacancies expected next year.
A spokesman for the union that represents U.S. diplomats told The Associated Press on Saturday that "assigning unarmed civilians into a combat zone should be done on a voluntary basis."
They will have 10 days to accept or reject the position. If not enough say yes, some will be ordered to go to Iraq and face dismissal if they refuse, said Harry Thomas, director general of the Foreign Service.
Starting Nov. 12, "our assignments panel will assign people to Iraq," Thomas told reporters in a conference call Friday. "Under our system, we have all taken an oath to serve our country, we have all signed (up for) worldwide availability.
"If someone decides ... they do not want to go, we will then consider appropriate action," he said. "We have many options, including dismissal from the Foreign Service."
Only those with compelling reasons, such as a medical condition or extreme personal hardship, will be exempt from disciplinary action, Thomas said. He said the process of deciding who will go to Iraq should be complete by Thanksgiving.
Diplomats who are forced into service in Iraq will receive the same extra hardship pay, vacation time and choice of future assignments as those who have volunteered since Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this past summer ordered Baghdad positions to be filled before all others around the world.
About 200 Foreign Service officers work in Iraq.
It is certain to be unpopular due to serious security concerns in Iraq and uncertainty over the status of the private contractors who protect U.S. diplomats there, particularly after a deadly Sept. 16 shooting in which guards from Blackwater USA protecting an embassy convoy were accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians.
So why wouldn't our diplomats want to go to the neocon paradise we've created in Baghdad?
Iraq is an extremely dangerous hardship post with near daily insurgent mortar attacks on the fortified Green Zone where the embassy is located.
When you get to be a certain age, sometimes its best to leave the commentary to your memoirs. Memoirs, you can edit.
James Watson, who headed the U.S. part of the Human Genome Project, and who is credited with discovering the DNA double-helix, has retired.
Dr. Watson, who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for describing the double-helix structure of DNA, and later headed the American government’s part in the international Human Genome Project, was quoted in The Times of London last week as suggesting that, overall, people of African descent are not as intelligent as people of European descent. In the ensuing uproar, he issued a statement apologizing “unreservedly” for the comments, adding “there is no scientific basis for such a belief.”
But Dr. Watson, who has a reputation for making sometimes incendiary off-the-cuff remarks, did not say he had been misquoted.
Editing, old fellow ... editing... Watson's statement upon his retirement. His flight from Britain is documented here.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some Democratic lawmakers questioned on Wednesday whether a new Bush administration request for $88 million to fit "bunker-busting" bombs to B-2 stealth bombers was part of preparations for an attack on Iran.
The proposal was included as part of a nearly $200 billion request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that the Bush administration sent to Capitol Hill on Monday.
The request included $87.8 million for further development of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, a conventional bomb designed to destroy hardened or deeply buried targets.
Many of Iran's nuclear development facilities are believed to be underground. The United States accuses Iran of trying to develop a nuclear bomb while Tehran insists its nuclear program is only for power generation.
A Bush administration summary said the request was needed for "development of a Massive Ordnance Penetrator for the B-2 aircraft in response to an urgent operational need from theater commanders," but gave no details.
"My assumption is that it is Iran, because you wouldn't use them in Iraq, and I don't know where you would use them in Afghanistan, it doesn't have any weapons facilities underground that we know of," said Rep. Jim Moran, a Virginia Democrat who is on the House defense spending committee and intends to argue against the request.
"I suppose you could try to bomb out a cave (in Afghanistan), but that seems like taking a sledgehammer to a tack. A little excessive," Moran said in a phone interview.
Another Democrat, Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington, said the bunker-buster request worried him because of the rising tide of criticism of Iran coming from the Bush administration. Last week, Bush warned that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to World War Three.
"The drumbeats of war are beating again, this time against Iran and we have to step in while there is still time," McDermott said through a spokesman.
But will the Dems step in before Bush uses their prior votes -- Hillary's included -- as an excuse to pull the trigger? Signs point to no. The Dems clearly lack the political will to confront the administration, even in its weakened state, and they have proved to be woefully inadequate at countering the political gamesmanship (and Stepford-like loyalty to the president) of their Republican counterparts. The neocons and their robotic operatives on Capitol Hill are still carrying the day, and beating the Dems at every punch. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid should be ashamed of the way they have conducted themselves thus far.
The optimist in me (which at this stage is a very junior operative) still holds out hopd for some show of sanity -- perhaps from within the military itself, or maybe even from Bob Gates -- to stop this train before it leaves the station, and a president with nothing left to lose decides to lose one more for his dwindling, war-crazed, paronoid delusional base.
And then there's this: the noises out of Russia are nearly as bellicose as those coming out of Dick Cheney's pharyngeal motor cortex. From the Asia Times:
... The barely reported highlight of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Tehran for the Caspian Sea summit last week was a key face-to-face meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
A high-level diplomatic source in Tehran tells Asia Times Online that essentially Putin and the Supreme Leader have agreed on a plan to nullify the George W Bush administration's relentless drive towards launching a preemptive attack, perhaps a tactical nuclear strike, against Iran. An American attack on Iran will be viewed by Moscow as an attack on Russia. ...
There's also news in that same report that Putin may be working on a plan to temporarily have Tehran halt its nuclear program in exchange for a Russian push to kill U.N. sanctions, eventually allowing Iran's program to resume. That would be good news. But my sinking feeling is that Washington is hurtling toward war, because Cheney and his neocons fear that the next president cannot be trusted to do it (unless they can guarantee a Giuliani win, in which case the same neocons will continue to be in charge.) If that happens, Russia is in something of a "heads we win, tails you lose" position. An attack would drive up oil prices, as Uri Kasparov explained on "60 Minutes," enriching oil-soaked Russia. And an attack would dirve Iran deeper into the embrace of the KGB-led Russian government, strengthening Putin's hand in the now Iran-centric Middle East.
If on the other hand, Russia is able to forestall an attack, Iran's debt to Moscow grows deep, and Putin's influence grows anyway. Either way, it's unlikely that the Bushies have much of a clue as to what they will unleash with even an air attack on Iran.
After all, foreward planning isn't their strong suit. Their strong suit is bombing Muslims.
Back to the planning. TIME reports that the real target of the new U.S. sanctions against Iran might be the European businesses and governments that continue to have deep economic ties with Tehran, and that:
the new measures may actually signal a splintering of the international consensus pressuring Tehran to curb its nuclear program.
The teeth in the new measures derives from the fact that they target anyone who is doing business with those Iranian institutions and individuals. And that means doing business with Iran at all, because as Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson put it, the IRGC "is so deeply entrenched in Iran's economy and commercial enterprises, it is increasingly likely that if you are doing business with Iran, you are doing business with [the Guard]." Administration officials told the New York Times that a key purpose of the new measures was "to persuade foreign governments and financial institutions to cut ties with Iranian businesses and individuals."
The move comes amid U.S. frustration at its failure to elicit sufficient support for new U.N. Security Council sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, and at the slow progress of efforts to persuade European countries and institutions that do business with Iran to voluntarily desist. Some of Iran's biggest European trading partners, such as Italy and Germany, oppose unilateral sanctions, warning that if their companies were to withdraw from Iran, they would simply be replaced by competitors from Russia and China. But to the extent that the latest U.S. moves are used to pressure third-country governments, banks and corporations doing business with Iran, they will be perceived as Washington using its muscle in the international financial system to impose its own Iran policy on others. And resentment may not be the only consequence. China, for example, would be unlikely to accept any U.S. effort to stop any of its corporations from doing important business with Iran, and could threaten economic countermeasures to deter such action. ...
Again, failure to foresee the consequences.
While the U.S. call to ratchet up economic pressure on Iran is strongly backed by Britain and France, Russia and China have both warned against taking unilateral measures outside of the U.N. Italy and Germany, Iran's largest European trading partners, have also opposed moves to pressure Iran outside of the U.N. Security Council. The move suggests the U.S. may be reverting to a "coalition of the willing" model for dealing with Iran. Yet the case Washington makes for escalating sanctions — the claim that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, and that shutting down its uranium-enrichment program is a matter of urgency to prevent it attaining the know-how to build a bomb — is not the international consensus. Russia's President Vladimir Putin last week visited Tehran, and made clear that Russia sees no evidence that Iran is actually pursuing nuclear weapons — contradicting the U.S. charge that the civilian nuclear technologies Iran seeks will give it the means eventually to build such weapons.
Meanwhile, Bush is pressing forward knowing that Congress doesn't have the cojones to stand in his way, should he and his neocons choose war to grab the resources ... I mean "alter the behavior" of Iran.
Earth to 27 percent of Republicans: Rudy Giuliani is lying to you. And I mean, like, daily...
He wants you to believe that he was the REAL hero of 9/11 ... single-handedly doing what no other mayor could: talking to the press! Walking around with a mask on! Brushing dust off his suit shoulders, and uniting a city ... and a nation... ! Cue the angelic choir...!!!
Aside from a belabored p.r. strategy, and continual boasts about his supposed sage foreknowledge of 9/11 (knowledge he apparently didn't feel compelled to share with anyone who could have done anything about it, including the Clinton administration with whom he was working so closely (and exchanging mushy-gushy letters) on things like the assault weapons ban and the COPS program ...) boasts that are at this stage, even more irritating than John Edwards' "son of a millworker" schtick, what is Rudy Giuliani, really? Who is he, to those of us who know him best -- namely, New Yorkers?
He's not the crime-fighting super sleuth whom the Gotti boys targeted for a rub-out. That's only interesting to Rudy's high-fiving, snarky little press aides. For the rest of us, it's "talk to me when you get something more interesting than Rudy nearly getting whacked. Hell, Curtis Sliwa got shot in the butt by a made guy. Want him to be your president, too?"
He's not the beloved mayor of Gotham City. New Yorkers hate his guts (and not just the firefighters. We civilians despise him, too.) Remember when he floated the idea of staying on past his lawful mayoral term in the wake of 9/11 to ... um ... keep the leadership coming ... possibly in a Hugo Chavez-like version of forever? Not! He got shot down like ... well ... Curtis Sliwa's butt... Ouch!
He's not the only man with the foresight to see 9/11 coming, as he likes to tell Republican voter-bots during his incipid "love me, I'm 9/11" speeches. In fact, sealed testimony to the 9/11 Commission -- an entity Rudy quit after just a few months because attending the meetings was cutting into his 9/11 profiteering time -- which wasn't supposed to see the light of day until after the 2008 election, but obtained by the Village Voice's Wayne Barrett reveals the following:
A 15-page "memorandum for the record," prepared by a commission counsel and dated April 20, 2004, quotes Giuliani conceding that it wasn't until "after 9/11" that "we brought in people to brief us on al Qaeda." According to the memorandum, Giuliani told two commission members and five staffers: "But we had nothing like this pre 9/11, which was a mistake, because if experts share a lot of info," there would be a "better chance of someone making heads and tails" of the "situation." (Such memoranda are not verbatim transcripts of the confidential commission interviews, but are described on the cover page as "100 percent accurate" notes taken by staffers, stamped "commission sensitive/unclassified" on the top of each page.)
Asked about the “flow of information about al Qaeda threats from 1998-2001,” Giuliani said: “At the time, I wasn’t told it was al Qaeda, but now that I look back at it, I think it was al Qaeda.” He also said that as part of one of his post-9/11 briefings, “we had in Bodansky, who had written a book on bin Laden.” Giuliani was referring to Yossef Bodanksy, the author of Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America, which was published in 1999 and predicted “spectacular terrorist strikes in Washington and/or New York.” Giuliani wrote in his own book, Leadership, that Judi Nathan got him a copy of Bodansky’s prophetic work “shortly after 9/11,” and that he covered it in “highlighter and notes,” citing his study of it as an example of how he “mastered a subject.” Apparently, he also invited Bodansky to address key members of his staff.
Giuliani attributed his pre-9/11 shortcomings in part to the FBI, which was run by his close friend (and current endorser) Louis Freeh, and to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, an FBI-directed partnership with the NYPD. "We already had JTTF, and got flow information no one else got," he explained. "But did we get the flow of information we wanted? No. We would be told about a threat, but not about the underlying nature of the threat. I wanted all the same information the FBI had, and we didn't get that until after 9/11. Immediately after 9/11, we were made a complete partner." He added: "Without 9/11, I never would have been able to send an adviser to FBI briefings."
Oh, and did I mention that he's a foreign policy novice under the sway of a claque of neoconservative advisors who are itching to go to war in the Middle East near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers? Sound familiar, guys? Huh???
In fact, the only good thing about Rudy is his original position on gun control, which is amply documented here. Of course, the new, flip-flopping Rudy is totally, and I mean totally, against gun control ... sort of ... depending on who he's talking to ... Bo-Sox, Yankees, my God, so much to decide...!
Anyhoo, I guess the bottom line is that Rudy Giuliani is whoever he thinks he has to be that day, in order to get to be your president. Here's hoping he's doing all that huffing and puffing in vain. At least some conservatives are finally growing suspicious of the slippery character who changes positions faster than he changes wives ... and dresses.
Wake up, the rest of you Rudyphiles. The last thing you want in the White House is somebody about whom the one true thing you can say, is that you're certain that you really don't know who he is. When that happens, you have two choices: lift up his skirt and see if there are any jumblies under there, or ask those of us who do.
I think I liked you better when you were being a jerk
I liked California Rep. Pete Stark for about a day and a half ... He got on my good side when he issued this nasty little bromide, directed at the 'publicans and their president:
Well, then, in typical Democrat fashion, Stark not only caved (after the leadership of his own party tisk tisked him like a bunch of fairy godmothers, and then helped him out by killing a vote on yet another stupid, bitchy "sense of the GOP and their shaky legged, lacky Democrat followers" reprimand on the House floor) ... he promptly, and tearfully, apologized...
What a wussie. I'll bet if you were a member of the GOP you wouldn't apologize, Starky. You'd make like Glenn Beck and justify that nasty wildfire comment about victims who've been burned out of their homes hating America, or act like El Rushbo and deny that what you said on tape which is recorded and disseminated online was what you said at all, and then blame the "drive by media" for misquoting you. It's all about definitiveness, Stark. And snarky delivery.
Someday, my pitifully well-behaved (and thus thoroughly ineffective) Democrats will learn to play the game.
This must have sounded so much better in speech rehearsals...
ROCHESTER, N.H. -- Republican presidential candidate John McCain told workers of small weapons factory that he not only wants to catch Osama Bin Laden if elected, but said he "will shoot him with your products".
"I will follow Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell and I will shoot him with your products," McCain said.
Jeez, John, good thing you weren't speaking at a condom factory ...
And then ... he made it worse...
McCain told reporters afterward he was joking when he made the comment at Thompson Center Arms in Rochester.
"I certainly didn't mean I would actually shoot him. I am certainly angry at him, but I was only speaking in a way that was trying to emphasize my point," McCain said. "I would not shoot him myself."
Nearly one million Californians -- the largest movement of Americans inside the United States since the civil war -- have fled the massive fires raging across southern California. This is no joke, Glenn Beck, you idiot, it's a national disaster and tragedy -- a "super Katrina" (thank God the officials running Qualcomm Stadium and several other refuges have their act together).
Unless the shrieking Santa Ana winds subside, and that’s not expected for at least another day, fire crews say they can do little more than try to wait it out and react — tamping out spot fires and chasing ribbons of airborne embers to keep new fires from flaring.
“If it’s this big and blowing with as much wind as it’s got, it’ll go all the way to the ocean before it stops,” said San Diego Fire Capt. Kirk Humphries. “We can save some stuff but we can’t stop it.”
Meanwhile, the opening headline of this story says it all, when it comes to George W. Bush:
Sharply criticised for his slow response to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster, President George Bush moved on Wednesday to assert a leading role in efforts to combat wildfires in California.
So much for being competitive in New York... Rudy's gambit, of course, is to pander to BoSox fans in nearby New Hampshire, ahead of a certain primary election. But any true Yankee fan (and I am one, baby) knows that the Red Sox are the Evil Empire, the uber enemy, and you cannot be with them, and also with the Yanks.
...unless of course you're a shape-shifting, gone with the wind, spineless pol, like Rudy... expect him to be dressing in drag again soon, too.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 — President Bush asked Congress on Monday to approve $196 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other national security programs, setting the stage for a new confrontation with Democrats over the administration’s handling of Iraq.
Mr. Bush’s request increased the amount of the proposed spending by $46 billion over the $150 billion already requested this year. Much of the added spending would pay for new armored vehicles designed to withstand attacks by mines and roadside bombs, and a rise in operational costs because of the increase in the force in Iraq, now at more than 160,000 troops.
The spending request — declared an emergency under spending rules, even though the need for the money was never in question — comes in the middle of the White House’s fight with Congress over a series of spending bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. None of those bills has been completed so far.
Democrats on Capitol Hill, having failed last week to override Mr. Bush’s veto of an expansion of a children’s health insurance program costing $35 billion, reacted with dismay and anger that reflected a broader frustration over the war in Iraq. They also said they believed that Mr. Bush delayed his formal request to avoid unfavorable comparisons between his veto and the spending on the war.
House and Senate leaders have warned they would not take up the president’s request until they resolve differences in the spending bills that Mr. Bush has vowed to veto. Those differences amount to $22 billion, a fraction of the spending for Iraq and Afghanistan.
They'll weep and gnash their teeth and quietly fume over "more money for war and nothing for the poor..."
...and then they'll cave.
Unfortunately, that's what Democrats do.
Meanwhile, Turkey may pull a GWBush and invade Iraq. This time, the cassus belli is the same one Turkey has threatened to react to before -- to stop the Kurdish militant group, the PKK, from conducting terror activity in northern Iraq and Turkey. Turkey is now putting the pressure on Washington (and the Maliki government in Iraq) to clamp down on the supposedly placid Kurdish territories. Look for Washington to comply.
That, after all, is what the Bushies have to do at this stage.
Radio One has gotten out of the talk business, and so our station, WTPS, has come to the end of the road. We're in the middle of our final program on "Wake Up South Florida" right now. Sad ending to an experiment that really didn't get enough time to germinate. I still think the talk format can work in the urban context, given enough time, attention and consistency. It had its flaws, but it was needed, especially in this market here in South Florida.
We'll let you know where Andre and I, as well as Eddie Frederick, EWF, A.C., Ricky Norris Sports Guru and the rest of the gang are going next. Andre can be found at talktoandre.com. You can also keep up with us at jebapresents.com.
Unless of course, she wasn't assaulted by the right...
Now, Randi Rhodes' attorney says she wasn't mugged by the right, though he's not saying what did happen on that Park Avenue sidewalk...
A police source said Rhodes never filed a report and never claimed to be the victim of a mugging. Cops from Manhattan's 17th Precinct called her attorney, who told them Rhodes was not a victim of a crime, the source said.
Rhodes' lawyer told the Daily News she was injured in a fall while walking her dog. He said she's not sure what happened, and only knows that she fell down and is in a lot of pain. The lawyer said Rhodes expects to be back on the air Thursday. He stressed there is no indication she was targeted or that she was the victim of a "hate crime."
Rhodes started with the Air America when it launched in 2004. Her show airs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.
The network released a statement that said Rhodes "experienced an unfortunate incident."
"The reports of a presumed hate crime are unfounded," the statement read by a receptionist at the network's New York offices said. "Ms. Rhodes is looking forward to being back on the air on Thursday."
The situation gets even murkier from there, as the Miami Herald reports:
In a phone interview Tuesday afternoon, her attorney, Robert V. Gaulin, said that Rhodes ``was disoriented after she hit the ground and sustained facial injuries...We have no reason to believe she was a target...She's at the doctor.''
He wouldn't elaborate on her injuries but said she was in pain. He said that onlookers helped.
``She was assisted and went on her way. She did not at the time file a police report.''
Gaulin noted that ''some people get hit from behind. She did not walk into anything,'' but he wouldn't say if Rhodes believes she was hit from behind.
Simon the Yorkshire terrier, he said, ``was not involved.''
He called the situation ''a mess,'' adding that Elliott ``didn't talk to us and didn't get any information from us.''
Late Tuesday Elliott issued a statement saying, ``I shouldn't have speculated based on hearsay that Randi Rhodes had been mugged and that it may have been an attack from a right-wing hate machine. I apologize for jumping to conclusions based on an emotional reaction.
``I wish Randi nothing but the best and look forward to a speedy recovery.''
DU is jumping with the news, so far unreported on the MSM, that Air America's Randi Rhodes was mugged and assaulted outside her Park Avenue apartment:
Randi Rhodes was mugged on Sunday night on 39th Street and Park Ave, nearby her Manhattan apartment, while she was walking her dog Simon.
According to Air America Radio late night host Jon Elliott, Rhodes was beaten up pretty badly, losing several teeth and will probably be off the air for at least the rest of the week. At of late Monday night we have not able to locate any press accounts of the attack and nothing has been posted on the AAR website.
Elliott was extremely agitated when he reported on the incident. He opened his show by saying "it is with sadness that tonight I inform you that my Air America colleague Randi Rhodes was assaulted last night while walking her dog near her New York City home." Pointing out that Rhodes was wearing a jogging suit and displayed no purse or jewelry, Elliott speculated that "this does not appear to me to be a standard grab the money and run mugging."
"Is this an attempt by the right wing hate machine to silence one of our own," he asked. "Are we threatening them. Are they afraid that we're winning. Are they trying to silence intimidate us." Some of blog posters also expressed concerns that the attack on Rhodes was hate crime. Other posters warned that we need more facts before any judgements are made.
More on the attack -- which seems especially suspicious -- from Talking Radio:
Attacks on liberal talk radio stations and their hosts are not a new thing. About a month ago a gunman fired a shot through a window at the studios of KPFT, Houston’s, Pacifica station narrowly missing a DJ who was hosting music show at the time. There is currently a $10,000 reward offered to anyone who identifies the shooter.
This is not the first politically motivated attack on KPFT. More than 35 years ago, the Ku Klux Klan blew up the station's transmitters twice within the Houston station's first year on the air.
Also, according to a blogger on Democratic Underground, Thom Hartmann said on his Friday show that his auto repairman, after replacing his windshield, pointed out to him that he had three bullet holes in his car.
What is wrong with this picture? Kat Williams is a complete moron. What possessed the BET comedian to put a noose around his neck and pose with it?
But he wasn't the only one making an ass of himself on the red carpet at the BET Hip-Hop Awards. Two members of the Jena Six -- who remain defendants in a criminal case -- showed up, blinged out, and throwing what looked for all the world like play gang signs. These guys appear to be trading on their ill-gotten fame, and they are clearly being exploited by BET, which has contributed absolutely nothing to the serious dialog we need to have about the criminal justice system.
Scroll down and check out the pictures of the brothas who showed up at the awards show. Look at what they value. Bling. Jewels. Fake gang signs and pretensions of being "thugs" -- and simultaneously, millionaires.
It's fitting that this occurred at an event put on by BET. It's also fitting that the man who was supposed to host the awards, rapper T.I., was arrested just hours before the show on weapons charges:
Tobacco special agent, said one of Harris's bodyguards cooperated with authorities in the arrest. The bodyguard, whose name has not been disclosed, told agents he illegally purchased nine firearms for Harris since he began working for him in July. In these "straw" purchases, Harris fronted his bodyguard thousands of dollars for the weapons, the ATF agent's affidavit said.
Harris was convicted of drug distribution in June 1998 in Cobb County and has additional arrests and a probation violation for unlawfully possessing firearms.
On four different occasions, the affidavit said, he gave his bodyguard cash to buy firarms.The bodyguard said that in September he delivered a 9-mm pistol to Harris, who invited the bodyguard into his bedroom, the affidavit said. Inside, there was a walk-in closet with a safe tall enough for a person to enter with a fingerprint-reading scanner as a lock, the affidavit said. The safe contained multiple short rifles, including an assault rifle inside a black bag, according to the affidavit.
On Saturday, wearing a hidden wire and cooperating with federal agents, the bodyguard met Harris at a pre-arranged meeting place in Midtown and handed over the three machine guns and two silencers, the affidavit said. When Harris was told about one of the silencers, he said, "no flash, no bang," and later asked for the "change leftover" from the $12,000 he had given the bodyguard for the weapons, the affidavit said.
Harris was then arrested without incident.
At a press conference an hour after Monday's court hearing, federal agents displayed nine weapons they said were found in Harris's car and in the closet of his home. Among the weapons on display across a long conference table at the ATF office were an AK-47, a 9-mm handgun. Moments later they introduced three machine guns and the two silencers.
"Machine guns and silencers pose serious dangers to our community," U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said. "The last place the machine guns and silencers should be are in the hands of a convicted felon." ...
Brandishing the weapons that are killing our community is an act of sabotage. BET, T.I., the record labels and radio stations that promote this garbage are on a campaign of cultural genocide.
And it's no wonder kids like Bryant Purvis and Carwin Jones think nothing of showing up at the BET Awards looking like ... well ... like T.I.
If you're interested, contact BET at the number below:
1235 W Street, NE Washington, D.C. 20018-1211 202-608-2000
If federal funds were required [they] could die for all I care. Let the parents get second jobs, let their state foot the bill or let them seek help from private charities. […]
I would hire a team of PIs and find out exactly how much their parents made and where they spent every nickel. Then I’d do everything possible to destroy their lives with that info.
Rather than distancing themselves from the smear campaign, the White House today decided to embrace RedState and reward the blog with an official White House posting. In a post entitled “Democrats’ SCHIP Budget Gimmick,” Nicholas Thompson, a staffer in the White House’s Office of Strategic Intiatives, rallied the conservative troops around Bush’s hard-line stance, reminding them that “we are less than one week” from Congress’ veto override vote.
All in all, the Graeme Frost case is a perfect illustration of the modern right-wing political machine at work, and in particular its routine reliance on character assassination in place of honest debate. […] Leading conservative politicians, far from trying to distance themselves from these smears, rush to embrace them.
So is RedState embarrassed by their nasty little poster? Signs point to "no."
By the way, our fair poster, Mbecker, also sought to elucidate "the real question":
do we have anybody holding elective office who's man enough to beat these people to death with this info or not? And can we please get an IRS audit of this family. I really want to know how they paid $40k in tuition, over $15k in mortgage payments, payments on their commercial property, bought food and clothes on a combined income of $45k!
Hang 'em. Publically. Let 'em twist in the wind and be eaten by ravens. Then maybe the bunch of socialist patsies will think twice.
Aren't conservatives wonderful?
The argument is often made that conservatism is the politics of the heartless, while liberalism is the politics of the unrealistic. RedState is proving the former point, mightily.
The assistant D.A.'s who tried the Martin Anderson murder case were clearly outgunned, outmanned, and outmaneuvered, from the start, by the defense, but also, by Bay County itself. As reported in the Tallahassee Democrat:
By several accounts, the state's case began to fall apart with jury selection. Defense attorneys knocked off most of the potential black jurors and prosecutors bumped off two from a pool that started with 1,400 potential jurors.
''Jury selection is a critical part,'' said Tallahassee criminal defense attorney, Robert Augustus Harper Jr. ''It's the whole case.''
An all-white jury found the defendants not guilty of felony aggravated manslaughter of a child Friday. The verdict in the racially charged case sparked student protests at the Capitol and demands that federal investigators file civil rights charges.
Three assistant state attorneys - Pam Bondi, Scott Harmon and Michael Sinacore - tried the case against eight Panama City criminal defense attorneys.
The trial took three weeks. The verdict: 90 minutes.
The prosecution also failed to request a change of venue.
''I see no reason to take the case out of Bay County,'' Ober said last year when the charges were announced. Ober was appointed to investigate the case by former Gov. Jeb Bush after the local state attorney recused himself.
Some attorneys said having the trial in conservative Bay County was bad for the prosecution.
''The defense had local witnesses as opposed to outside witnesses, and local experts as opposed to outside experts and a local jury,'' said Tallahassee trial lawyer Henry Hunter. ''They would've done better with a change of venue. The defense had an advantage with the venue.''
The prosecution made the wrong decision to put on two experts who did not completely agree on how Anderson died, some attorneys said, allowing defense attorneys to magnify the difference.
Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Dr. Vernard Adams testified Anderson died from suffocation when the drill instructors gave him ammonia and clamped his mouth shut. A second state witness, Dr. Thomas Andrew, medical examiner for the state of New Hampshire, said Anderson died from a lack of oxygen.
''They were prepared and the defense climbed all over it,'' said Pumphrey, who added that state prosecutors were, ''tactically out maneuvered.''
Meanwhile, he acquittal of those seven guards and world's most insensitive nurse Kristin Schmidt is ratcheting up the tension in Panama City.
The boy's mother, Gina Jones, stormed out of the courtroom. "I cannot see my son no more. Everybody see their family members. It's wrong," she said.
Anderson's family repeatedly sat through the painful video as it played during testimony. They had long sought a trial, claiming local officials tried to cover up the case. The conservative Florida Panhandle county is surrounded by military bases and residents are known for their respect for law and order.
"You kill a dog, you go to jail," said Gina Jones' lawyer, Benjamin Crump, outside court. "You kill a little black boy and nothing happens."
The guards, who are white, black and Asian, stood quietly as the judge read the verdicts. The all-white jury was escorted away from the courthouse and did not comment.
Special prosecutor Mark Ober said in a statement he was "extremely disappointed."
"In spite of these verdicts, Martin Lee Anderson did not die in vain," the statement read. "This case brought needed attention and reform to our juvenile justice system."
The state NAACP and other organizations, along with local policiticians including State Sen. Fredrica Wilson and U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings are now pushing for the Justice Department to act.
The latest outrage in the sorry saga of Martin Lee Anderson's brief life and tragic death involves rumors, innuendo, and a quick tempered judge...
PANAMA CITY -- The judge kicked the victim's father out of the courtroom. The mother ran out, too upset to listen to testimony. And one defendant had to be hospitalized for stress.
Much of the drama that unfolded Wednesday in the boot camp case happened outside Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet's courtroom.
By the end of the day, neither of Martin Lee Anderson's parents was in court, and neither was defendant Joseph Walsh II.
The dead teen's mother, Gina Jones, broke down during testimony by one of the accused guards. Jones usually leaves the courtroom whenever the grainy boot camp videotape is aired. Wednesday morning she remained in her seat.
But as accused guard Charles Enfinger described physically restraining the boy -- with the boot camp video playing for jurors -- Jones ran from the room. She cried: "I can't do this!"
About two hours later, just before lunch, the judge removed the teen's father from court after accusing Robert Anderson of "making noises."
Just before lunch, defense attorney Waylon Graham complained to the judge that Anderson and several others sitting in the second row behind the prosecutors were using profanity and commenting on the evidence. It has been a pattern since the accused guards began to testify Tuesday, he said.
"We have complained and complained about it," Graham said.
This time, an investigator for the prosecutors heard it, backing up the defense attorneys' complaints, Graham said.
With the jury outside the courtroom, the judge ordered several people to stand and leave. He told them not to return to court.
Whether Mr. Anderson was talking or not is a matter of dispute:
Reporters sitting in the back of the courtroom didn't hear anything, and neither did Bettye Rouse, a courtroom spectator who was sitting right behind Anderson. She said the family had been quiet.
"I was sitting in the row behind them," she said. "I did not hear a thing."
Crump said he heard that a text message had been sent from someone in the courtroom to Graham, a message accusing Anderson of misbehaving. That's when Graham interrupted the proceedings, Crump said. ...
And Mr. Graham has an interesting take on Anderson's future:
He said the father might be able to get back into the courtroom to hear closing arguments and the verdict if he would "beg forgiveness."
"If they were in federal court, they would all be in a holding cell right now," Graham said.
And then, there's the high drama surrounding one of the defendants:
All seemed quiet until the afternoon break, when two ambulances rolled up to the back of the courthouse. Emergency crews then slipped into the courtroom and carried out Walsh on a stretcher. He wasn't moving. His eyes were closed.
His parents, who have attended much of the trial, were at his side.
Walsh, 37, was taken to Bay Medical Center, the same local hospital where Martin Lee Anderson went after he left the boot camp yard.
Walsh's father, also named Joseph Walsh, said his son was under tremendous pressure.
"Stress does this to him," said Walsh, 62, adding that his son suffers from Gulf War syndrome.
By the end of the day, there were no updates on Walsh's condition. He did not return.
...and last but not least, the obligatory O.J. connection:
All things lead to O.J. Simpson, including the boot camp trial. Absent in the glare of Court TV cameras is the wife of Bay County Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet. She made the cover of Playboy magazine in October 1994. Call her a model. Call her an actress. Simpson called her an alibi after the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Overstreet's wife? Paula Barbieri, Simpson's ex-girlfriend.
Yesterday was the five-year anniversary of the House vote to authorize lethal force against the government of Iraq. So how did the House Judiciary Committee celebrate? By trying to undo the wiretapping frenzy known as the Protect America Act. President Bush had demanded that the Congress send him a bill protecting telecom companies from lawsuits arising from their participation in wiretapping you, but the Judiciary Committee declined.
How do keep an officer in the U.S. Army when it's bogged down in a quagmire in Iraq? Cold ... hard ... cash ...
Albertcito lawyers up. He might want to explain the growing evidence of a White House led conspiracy to use the Justice Department to promulgate political prosecutions of Democrats.
Carter fresgebs yo his critique of the Bushies, and calls Dick Cheney a disaster walking ... and in subtext, a coward.
The House has passed a bill making war profiteering a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison plus a fine "of $1 million or twice the gross profits of the contract, whichever is greater." Well it's about time... here's hoping Joe Lieberman doesn't pull a procedural trick to kill it in the Senate. ... that is if he can be bothered to care about war profiteering...
Sure, he wants to eliminate Social Security and Medicare, but Congressman Ron Paul knows his Constitution! In fact, he appears to be the only Republican candidate for president who's ever read it...
Meanwhile, the righties are circling Romney like sharks for his "call the lawyers, not the battleships" answer on whether the president needs Congress' approval to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran. Said Romney last night:
MATTHEWS: Governor Romney, that raises the question, if you were president of the United States, would you need to go to Congress to get authorization to take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities?
ROMNEY: You sit down with your attorneys and tell you want you have to do, but obviously the president of the United States has to do what's in the best interest of the United States to protect us against a potential threat. The president did that as he was planning on moving into Iraq and received the authorization of Congress...
Of course, he really didn't mean the White House lawyers would make the final determination, though he neglected to put consultation with the Constitution ahead of a chat with the suits, as Ron Paul correctly pointed out, nor did he admit that only Congress has the power to declare war ...
Still, here come the sharks (and the snarks ... best headline on the Romney contretemps so far: Mitt Romney Goes All Alberto Gonzales on the Constitution (via The Nation)
Team Rudy didn't wait long to pounce... and of course, he took his 9/11 show on the road to Fox News where his campaign advisor Roger Ailes arranged a timely sit down with the editorial board... (otherwise known as a strategy session)...
ABC News uncovers audio of Richard Nixon describing a then young Senate counsel during the Watergate investigation, by the name of Fred Thompson (the video is available on Raw's website):
At one point in the tapes, which ABC News spent months examining at the National Archives, Nixon is told that Thompson has been appointed by Tennessee Senator Howard Baker to head the Republican end of the Senate investigation into Watergate.
"Baker has appointed Fred Thompson as minority counsel," says then Nixon aide HR Haledman.
"Oh shit, that kid," the dismayed president responds.
Later in the tapes, Nixon fretted that Thompson would be outwitted by his opposition in the Senate investigation, Democratic counsel Sam Dash.
"Dash is too smart for that kid," Nixon can be heard to say.
But the former president's most damning words for Fred Thompson came during a May 1973 conversation with then chief of staff Alexander Haig about concerns that the future senator wouldn't stand up strongly enough to Democrats.
"Oh shit, he's dumb as hell," Nixon says at the mention of Thompson's name. "Who's -- Who is he? He won't say anything."
The tapes also reveal an apparently close association between Thompson and the White House.
"[Thompson] is willing to work with us, he is also now willing to work with us on shifting some focus to the Democrats," White House counsel Fred Buzhardt told the president. "He's finally made up his mind he's got to start looking at some of their stuff."
What Nixon and Buzhardt were talking about in that last bit was Thompson's willingness to help the White House to undercut then WH counsel John Dean, who was by then cooperating with the Watergate probe. More from ABC News :
"They've finally got [Dean] under oath," Buzhardt says on a tape from June 11. "Uh, Thompson will work with us. So, good."
"Does he realize that Dean has some problems?" Nixon asks.
"Oh, yes sir," Buhardt responds. "Quite a few...He is willing to work with us; he is also now willing to work with us on shifting some focus to the Democrats. He's finally made up his mind; he's got to start looking at some of their stuff."
Later in the tape, Buzhardt says, "[Thompson is] willing to go, you know, pretty much the distance now. And he said he realized his responsibility was going to have to be as a Republican increasingly."
In his memoir of the Watergate era, Thompson admits to secretly alerting the White House to key evidence as it was discovered by congressional investigators.
Former Watergate committee investigator Scott Armstrong told ABC News that Thompson's cooperation with the White House undermined the investigation.
"It was the equivalent of two prosecutors knowing about something and one of them going behind the scenes and telling the person being accused what the witnesses were saying about him," Armstrong said.
Two months after Buzhardt's comments, Nixon resigned. Thompson would later take credit for helping to reveal the secret White House taping system that led to Nixon's downfall.
Almost like an episode of "Law and Order," only considerably less heroic at the end...
The other Man from Hope says his fellow GOP presidential candidates might need a Prozac ... or an ambulance:
LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee joked Tuesday that other candidates might be considering suicide because their level of support doesn't match their fundraising. The former Arkansas governor, exaggerating, said other GOP presidential hopefuls were raising $100 for every nickel he had raised. "If I were some of these guys, I'd have to be sitting in a warm tub of water with razor blades," Huckabee said on MSNBC-TV.
The ratio is closer to $10 for every $1 raised by Huckabee.
A poll released Sunday by The Des Moines Register showed Huckabee and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani fighting for third place in Iowa, behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson. Romney and Giuliani lead GOP candidates in fundraising.
All jokes aside, watching Mike Huckabee tonight, I have to say that he is perhaps the most dangerous of the Republican candidate. Even though I disagree with his views, his folksly delivery, affable demeanor, and incredibly un-scary delivery makes him someone American voters could get comfortable with. He's not bug-eyed crazy like Rudy, or used care salesman-y like the Mittster. And he's not an all-out nut like Tancredo ... hell, why am I mentioning him? Other than Ron Paul, who is the only one of these vanilla beans whose policy positions I actually find coherent, I'm now starting to think that Huckabee is the best that the GOP has got. Oh, and he doesn't put me to sleep, like Fred Thomps...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....
Well you don't have Dan Bartlett to kick around anymore. In fact, he'll do the kicking now, thank you. Barlett dispensed some wisdom recently, and to be honest, some of it was pretty good:
One of President Bush's closest advisers has a brutally candid analysis of the Republican nomination battle: Fred Thompson is the campaign's "biggest dud," Mitt Romney has "a real problem in the South" because people will not vote for a Mormon, Mike Huckabee's last name is too hick and John McCain could end up repeating 2000 by winning New Hampshire but losing the nomination.
Dan Bartlett, who stepped down as White House counselor in July after working nearly his entire adult life for Bush, gave those frank assessments of the Republican presidential candidates during a recent appearance before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that went unnoticed outside the room. Never before has Bartlett opened up in a public setting with such an unvarnished analysis of the race. And while he no longer formally speaks for the president, Bartlett spent 14 years channeling Bush and remains virtually his alter ego, so his views could be seen as a revealing look into the thinking within the president's inner circle.
Bartlett was harshest in his judgment of Thompson, the former Tennessee senator who jumped into the contest a month ago and faces his first televised debate today. Thompson, Bartlett said, was the "biggest dud" because he peaked last spring when he first started talking about running and since then has yet to articulate a compelling vision for why he is running. "The biggest liability was whether he had the fire in the belly to run for office in the first place and be president," Bartlett said. "So what does he do? He waits four months, fires a bunch of staff, has a big staff turnover, has a lot of backbiting, comes out with his big campaign launch and gives a very incoherent and not very concise stump speech for why he's running for president."
Bartlett held out little hope that Thompson could win the nomination. "Unless they really find a way to crystallize his message for why he's different than the other candidates, why people should take a second look now, I don't feel very good that Fred Thompson's going to be the candidate for my party," he said.
His judgment of Romney was only somewhat less negative. While crediting the former Massachusetts governor with the "best strategy and organization" born out of his "business acumen," Bartlett said "the flip-flopping on positions" stemmed from a miscalculation that the primary field would be more conservative than it proved to be. "They were trying to solidify his conservative credentials." Bartlett added: "He's getting a narrative in the national media as somebody that is too much trying to position himself, trying to hedge himself, almost too mechanical about the issues. Authenticity is going to be a very important principle in this campaign. And right now that's their biggest danger."
The flip-flopping issue, Bartlett added, provides an outlet for another big reason why Republican voters will not back Romney -- his religion. "The Mormon issue is a real problem in the South, it's a real problem in other parts of the country," he said. "But people are not going to say it. People are not going to step out and say, 'I have a problem with Romney because he's Mormon.' What they're going to say is he's a flip-flopper. ... It's a fact, it's reality. I don't know if it's one that will keep him from becoming the nominee for the party but it's something they clearly understand they've got to deal with."
Bartlett was more sympathetic to McCain, calling him the "biggest wild card," but he clearly felt the Arizona senator who lost the nomination to Bush in 2000 still faces enormous hurdles. "He is now where he does his best," Bartlett said. "He's lean, he's mean, he's out there, he's fighting in New Hampshire. The problem's going to be it always comes down to money, money, money. He doesn't have it. The irony could be he could see this thing play out the exact same way it did in 2000. He could win in New Hampshire and not have any infrastructure or funding to maximize it in a national campaign."
As it happens, the Bush adviser was most enthusiastic about a contender who seems to have even less chance. He called Huckabee the "best candidate," one who seems to most mirror Bush's own vision of compassionate conservatism. "He is the most articulate, visionary candidate of anybody in the field," Bartlett said. Initially, he admitted, he was perplexed that the former Arkansas governor was running. "But the more I watch him, the more impressed I become." When it comes to advocating conservative positions on social issues, "he does it in a very positive, optimistic way."
But Huckabee probably cannot win, Bartlett added. "He's got the obvious problems -- being from Hope, Ark., and, quite frankly, having the last name 'Huckabee,'" he said. "I hate to be so light about it, but it is, it's an issue. Politics can be fickle like that. I mean, you're trying to get somebody's attention for the first time. ... 'Huckabee? You've got to be kidding me! Hope, Arkansas? Here we go again.'"
The only top-tier candidate Bartlett did not criticize was Rudy Giuliani, whom he credited with the "best message," particularly because the former New York mayor has kept his focus on attacking Democrats, not fellow Republicans, which serves as an effective distraction from his own liberal positions on guns, gays and abortion. "He's doing it particularly with Hillary," Bartlett said. "There's headlines the other day. He wants to engage in this debate. And there's a very practical aspect of it because if he's engaged with the Democrats, he's not engaged on ... his own positions, whatever those that would not be very receptive in a typical Republican primary." ...
For the record, I didn't think that Don Imus should have been fired for his "nappy headed hos" comment. Calling some girls he's never met, and who would never have heard his comments but for the media, "nappy headed hos" may be an un-funny insult playing on the Black vernacular. But calling a woman a "f---ing bitch" and "ho" TO HER FACE IN THE WORKPLACE, where she is supposed to expect professionalism out of her colleagues, is quite another matter. Isaiah Thomas should be fired, yesterday.
Moreover, he exhibits the kind of duplicity that unfortunately has become routine in the Black community. From his testimony during his losing battle against a sex harassment suit:
Asked if he was bothered by a black man calling a black female “bitch,” Thomas said: “Not as much. I’m sorry to say, I do make a distinction.” A white male calling a black female a bitch is highly offensive,” Thomas said. “That would have violated my code of conduct.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t go there. … A white male calling a black female, that is wrong with me. I’m not taking that. I’m not accepting that. … That’s a problem for me.”
Black people: if you don't want white people to say "nigga" -- YOU stop saying nigga. Stop writing in the lyrics of your songs, unless you feel comfortable hearing white people sing along.
Get real, folks. Imus did what he did the way a comedian or a musician does -- out loud and in public. What he did was offensive to some, but not worth marching in the streets for. Isaiah Thomas disrespected a co-worker, humiliated her, debased himself and the Knicks organization.
An attorney for the defense says the paramilitary atmosphere surrounding the beating of Martin Anderson at a Bay County, Florida boot camp last January was "just another day at the office." Said defense attorney Walter Smith:
The guards saw Anderson not as a 14-year-old child, but as ''a six-foot, 168-pound adult felon,'' Smith said. He had been sent to the camp for a probation violation after trespassing at a school and stealing his grandmother's car from a church parking lot.
Smith, who represents guard Charles Enfinger, said Anderson's file had been marked with a red dot -- the highest of three levels of offenders -- indicating the he had the potential for violence.
''These are not rogue officers who are trying to punish a kid,'' he said. ``Nobody is going to say that those hammer strikes or knee strikes were unlawful, they were strictly according to procedure.''
Defense attorneys maintain that Anderson's death was unavoidable because he had undiagnosed sickle cell trait, a genetic blood disorder. The usually benign disorder can cause blood cells to shrivel into a sickle shape and limit their ability to carry oxygen under physical stress.
Earlier Monday, prosecutors rested their case after the chief medical director for Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice testified that nurse Kristin Schmidt, who stood by during the altercation, did not tell her supervisors that the teen was struck and forced to inhale ammonia.
Smith said later that camp employees did not consider ammonia tablets as a use of force against the offenders, so they did not find it necessary to put that in their reports.
The trial is pretty much going according to rote -- the use of force was "justified" because of Anderson's size (he had no criminal record and had only been there one day, so i'm not sure how they determined that he was a threat), the tape magnifies the horror but it's "misleading", it was sickle cell trait that killed Anderosn, not the brutal half-hour beating by seven adult men, and the conflicting autopsies constitute reasonable doubt. Throw in an all-white jury in Jena-esque Bay County and you've got a recipe for acquittal.
...assuming you celebrate it. From a text I found last night (sorry, I forget where):
The first recorded celebration honoring the discovery of America by Europeans took place on October 12, 1792 in New York City. The event, which celebrated the 300th anniversary of Columbus' landing in the New World, was organized by The Society of St. Tammany (also known as the Columbian Order).
San Francisco's Italian community held their first Columbus Day celebration in 1869. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison urged citizens to participate in the the 400th anniversary celebration of Columbus' first voyage. It was during this event that the Pledge of Allegiance, written by Francis Bellamy, was recited publically for the first time.
Colorado was the first state to observe the holiday in 1905.
In 1937, President Roosevelt proclaimed October 12 as "Columbus Day" and in 1971, President Nixon declared the second Monday of October a national holiday.The first recorded celebration honoring the discovery of America by Europeans took place on October 12, 1792 in New York City.
Now it's common knowledge at this point that Christopher Columbus didn't discover "America" per se, but rather, on contract for King Ferdinand of Spain, sought a quicker route from Europe to Asia, and wound up finding Hispaniola, San Salvador, Cuba and the Bahamas. Upon landing, and seeing the peaceful Arawak natives, Columbus is said to have written in his diaries:
"It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion. ... I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased."
He also is credited with kicking off the Atlantic slave trade, something he tried to accomplish by shipping the natives he found back to Europe. Unfortunately, the "Indian" slaves died.
Amerigo Vespucci in 1502-1504 published a series of travel journals that convinced European scholars that what Columbus "discovered" was not Cathay, or India, as Columbus believed, but actually a "new" continent. The continent was named "America" after Vespucci, because Vespucci's maps were the first to cartographically represent this new continent to the people of Europe.
So is Columbus due a holiday? Probably not, based on his actual accomplishments. In terms of the history of naval exploration, his contract with Spain accomplished something, if only to convince Europe that the journey from West to East could be made in a single voyage without resupplying. But for that, a holiday?
That could be the headline for the Democrats' election narrative this year and next, after the GOP president and his pesky little minions in Congress swatted down health coverage for millions of U.S. children last week. Bush's veto of the SCHIP expansion means that smokers won't have to worry about paying $0.61 more per pack for their carcinogens, but some 3.8 million kids between now and 2012 will have to go without health insurance. Funny that. Jon Stewart explains:
Here in Florida, the hunt for 15 Republican votes in the House to override Bush's veto is on and popping.
Healthcare veto could haunt GOP BY LESLEY CLARK President Bush's veto of a bill to expand a popular children's health program already is a focus for Democrats in Florida looking to score gains in the 2008 congressional election. Bush vetoed the measure this week, saying it wouldn't help the poorest kids and that it was a step toward nationalized healthcare.
But with Democrats, children's groups, unions and liberal advocates vowing to push for a veto override -- and vowing to run ads against Republicans who resist it -- the battle is likely to echo at the polls next November.
Already, activists have held rallies outside the Miami congressional offices of Republican Reps. Lincoln Díaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, criticizing the two for supporting Bush. Former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez, a Democrat who has been considering a run against Díaz-Balart, assailed the administration Friday on Spanish-language radio in Miami.
And a coalition of advocacy groups Friday announced plans for an advertising campaign they said will rival a 2005 effort that helped derail Bush's efforts to revamp Social Security. The coalition wants to persuade moderate House Republicans to support an override of Bush's veto.
''The theme is don't hitch your wagon to George Bush, hitch your wagon to the kids of America,'' said Alan Charney, program director of USAction, whose group is planning vigils and protests at congressional offices that will include children and little red wagons. ``We're going to create such a firestorm of passion and anger that these Republicans will have no choice but to switch.''
The efforts have done little, however, to persuade Díaz-Balart or Ros-Lehtinen, who said they support extending the popular program -- but not the current legislation.
''There's an overwhelming consensus in support of the children's health program in Congress, but we don't need these massive tax increases,'' Díaz-Balart said.
The override vote is scheduled for October 18. More on the Florida showdown to come:
The bill would have boosted funding by $35 billion over five years, to $60 billion, through steep tax increases on cigarettes and other tobacco products, including cigars.
It cleared the Senate with a veto-proof majority, but Democrats need 15 or 20 more votes in the House to override the veto. Eight House Democrats, including Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, voted against the measure, and advocates say they're working behind the scenes to persuade them to switch sides.
Castor, who represents an area with cigar manufacturers, said she thinks the legislation relies too heavily on tobacco taxes.
Díaz-Balart said the bill also does not provide insurance for the children of legal immigrants. Advocates on a conference call Friday said House leaders have suggested the issue will be revisited.
Said Raul Martinez: ``That's not an excuse when you have in Dade County more than 50,000 kids who would benefit. The president has made a mistake, and now the House members can correct the mistake.''
Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, a Republican who has been criticized by editorial boards at some Florida newspapers for voting against the legislation, is championing his own proposal that would extend coverage by providing a tax credit to some families. Martinez is scheduled to host a healthcare forum Wednesday at Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale.
Should be a nice little get-together...
Oh, and here's the new ad produced by Families USA.
...that it took a white folk rock artist to pen the protest song that captures the indignity and shame of the Jena 6 situation. With proper big ups to Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Life Jennings, Bun B and other true hip-hop artists who definitely made some noise, and Ice Cube, who showed up at the protests in Setember, here is the first real protest song about Jena, Louisiana, by John Mellencamp:
Meanwhile, the mayor of Jena takes offense:
"The town of Jena has for months been mischaracterized in the media and portrayed as the epicenter of hatred, racism and a place where justice is denied," Jena Mayor Murphy R. McMillin wrote in a statement on town letterhead faxed on Friday to The Associated Press.
He said he had previously stayed quiet, hoping that the town's courtesy to people who have visited over the past year would speak for itself. "However, the Mellencamp video is so inflammatory, so defamatory, that a line has been crossed and enough is enough."
No, Mr. Mayor, it's not quite enough. Your town, deservedly, will enter the history books alongside Money, Mississippi and Birmingham, Alabama, not for actual lynchings and violence, but for the same scandalous racism and segregationist attitudes that made those prior horrors possible. One can easily imagine the white townsfolk of Jena standing around a tree at an old fashioned "picnic," watching the strange fruit swinging from the tree. Hyperbole? Maybe. But recall that it was ordinary people -- presumably "good, churchgoing" people, who perpetrated the horrors of America's past. They didn't think they were particularly remarkable, or the nooses particularly offensive.
The big difference is, they would have lynched the Jena 6 outright, rather than charging them with murder. And the white students who hung nooses, broke bottles over the heads of a young Black man and pulled a gun on him, wouldn't have been hidden from public view, they would have been celebrated in Jena.
Hopefully sometime soon, we'll have some hip-hop and R&B protest music to immortalize you further.
Medical experts testified yesterday about Matin Lee Anderson's medical condition, and what relationship his sickle cell trait may have had to his death. Most salient point:
Chief medical examiner for the state of New Hampshire, Dr. Thomas Andrew, a prosecution witness, said Anderson was not suffocated, but died from a combination of a lack of oxygen due to the sickle-cell trait he had, the ''inappropriate'' use of ammonia capsules and the blows and strikes he took from drill instructors. All of those led to a ''lethal chain of events.''
He said the lack of oxygen ''is the tipping point in all these events.'' By the time the paramedics came, Anderson had brain damage but was still breathing.
Anderson's cause of death is complex, Andrew said, and when asked by Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon if Anderson would have died without the actions of the guards, he said, ''no.''...
Chris Matthews confuses me. Sometimes he's a Democrat, sometimes he's a Bushie. ... Or is he? The same guy who praised the magnificence of Bush's inauguration and how it represented the beauty of America's system of peaceful transfer of power, who gushed over Bush's appearances at Ground Zero (several days late and a dollar short) and that aircraft carrier stunt when we supposedly won the war, now calls the Bush administration a bunch of criminals and Soviet style free speech squashers. I know he hates the Iraq war (now) and that he fears that the neocons will drag us into another war with Iran, but given his past Huh?
Maybe he was drunk.
Chris Matthews had barely finished praising his colleagues at the 10th anniversary party for his “Hardball” show Thursday night in Washington, D.C. when his remarks turned political and pointed, even suggesting that the Bush administration had "finally been caught in their criminality."
In front of an audience that included such notables as Alan Greenspan, Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Sen. Ted Kennedy, Matthews began his remarks by declaring that he wanted to "make some news" and he certainly didn't disappoint. After praising the drafters of the First Amendment for allowing him to make a living, he outlined what he said was the fundamental difference between the Bush and Clinton administrations.
The Clinton camp, he said, never put pressure on his bosses to silence him.
“Not so this crowd,” he added, explaining that Bush White House officials -- especially those from Vice President Cheney's office -- called MSNBC brass to complain about the content of his show and attempted to influence its editorial content. "They will not silence me!" Matthews declared.
"They've finally been caught in their criminality," Matthews continued, although he did not specify the exact criminal behavior to which he referred. He then drew an obvious Bush-Nixon parallel by saying, “Spiro Agnew was not an American hero."
Matthews left the throng of Washington A-listers with a parting shot at Cheney: “God help us if we had Cheney during the Cuban missile crisis. We’d all be under a parking lot.”
During an interview with Radio Iowa, actor Fred Thompson, auditioning for the role of POTUS, had this to say about that pesky little spoke of the Axis of Evil called Iran:
They want to take over Iraq. They’re doing everything they can to try to drive us out of there. We’re seeing some success with some minor economic sanctions right now. I think the best way to describe it as probably aggravating the Iranians more than anything. It’s not really hurting them.I’m afraid that the Soviet Union & China are not ever going to do anything that’s going to hurt them that badly but we need to ratchet those up if at all possible.
Rush Limbaugh spent yet another show talking about himself today (check out the orgy of self-pity taking shape on his website), and whining about his critics' attacks on his "phony soldiers" comment. He also tried to deny that he compared a VoteVets.com soldier to a suicide bomber (by insisting that he never actually used the words "suicide bomber..." OK ... riiiiight... Does this guy not know that people are recording his show? Meanwhile, Elizabeth Edwards finally uses her catty powers for good, saying on Air America today:
My classmates went to Vietnam, he did not. He was 4F. He had a medical disability, the same medical disability that probably should have stopped him from spending a lifetime in a radio announcer’s chair; but it is true, isn’t it? If he has an inoperable position that allows him not to serve, presumably it should not allow him to sit for long periods of time the way he does. I think this is a serious enough offense for the people who fund him, who buy ads and allow him to be on the air, need to be asked if this is what they really stand for, do they think it is all right for someone who has never served to denigrate the men and women who have simply because they are expressing an opinion. Frankly, I thought that is what we are fighting for.
She's referring to the boil on his butt ... polynoidal cist, if you're nasty. ... You GO girl (by girl, I mean Elizabeth, not Rush...)
Never mind that a judge has ruled that he cannot withdraw his guilty plea in a Minnesoty airport bathroom sex solicitation snaffu, Larry Craig refuses to go gently into that good night. What say you, Brother Craig?
Not gay, you say? Well that clears that up. (Big ups to Avenue Q on the clip tip.)
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 — When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.
But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.
Mr. Gonzales approved the legal memorandum on “combined effects” over the objections of James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general, who was leaving his job after bruising clashes with the White House. Disagreeing with what he viewed as the opinion’s overreaching legal reasoning, Mr. Comey told colleagues at the department that they would all be “ashamed” when the world eventually learned of it.
Later that year, as Congress moved toward outlawing “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, the Justice Department issued another secret opinion, one most lawmakers did not know existed, current and former officials said. The Justice Department document declared that none of the C.I.A. interrogation methods violated that standard.
The classified opinions, never previously disclosed, are a hidden legacy of President Bush’s second term and Mr. Gonzales’s tenure at the Justice Department, where he moved quickly to align it with the White House after a 2004 rebellion by staff lawyers that had thrown policies on surveillance and detention into turmoil.
And the Times delves even deeper into the corruption of the office of the attorney general:
When he stepped down as attorney general in September after widespread criticism of the firing of federal prosecutors and withering attacks on his credibility, Mr. Gonzales talked proudly in a farewell speech of how his department was “a place of inspiration” that had balanced the necessary flexibility to conduct the war on terrorism with the need to uphold the law.
Associates at the Justice Department said Mr. Gonzales seldom resisted pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney and David S. Addington, Mr. Cheney’s counsel, to endorse policies that they saw as effective in safeguarding Americans, even though the practices brought the condemnation of other governments, human rights groups and Democrats in Congress. Critics say Mr. Gonzales turned his agency into an arm of the Bush White House, undermining the department’s independence.
The interrogation opinions were signed by Steven G. Bradbury, who since 2005 has headed the elite Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department. He has become a frequent public defender of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program and detention policies at Congressional hearings and press briefings, a role that some legal scholars say is at odds with the office’s tradition of avoiding political advocacy.
Mr. Bradbury defended the work of his office as the government’s most authoritative interpreter of the law. “In my experience, the White House has not told me how an opinion should come out,” he said in an interview. “The White House has accepted and respected our opinions, even when they didn’t like the advice being given.”
The debate over how terrorist suspects should be held and questioned began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the Bush administration adopted secret detention and coercive interrogation, both practices the United States had previously denounced when used by other countries. It adopted the new measures without public debate or Congressional vote, choosing to rely instead on the confidential legal advice of a handful of appointees.
The policies set off bruising internal battles, pitting administration moderates against hard-liners, military lawyers against Pentagon chiefs and, most surprising, a handful of conservative lawyers at the Justice Department against the White House in the stunning mutiny of 2004. But under Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Bradbury, the Justice Department was wrenched back into line with the White House.
After the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the Geneva Conventions applied to prisoners who belonged to Al Qaeda, President Bush for the first time acknowledged the C.I.A.’s secret jails and ordered their inmates moved to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The C.I.A. halted its use of waterboarding, or pouring water over a bound prisoner’s cloth-covered face to induce fear of suffocation.
But in July, after a monthlong debate inside the administration, President Bush signed a new executive order authorizing the use of what the administration calls “enhanced” interrogation techniques — the details remain secret — and officials say the C.I.A. again is holding prisoners in “black sites” overseas. The executive order was reviewed and approved by Mr. Bradbury and the Office of Legal Counsel.
Douglas W. Kmiec, who headed that office under President Ronald Reagan and the first President George Bush and wrote a book about it, said he believed the intense pressures of the campaign against terrorism have warped the office’s proper role.
“The office was designed to insulate against any need to be an advocate,” said Mr. Kmiec, now a conservative scholar at Pepperdine University law school. But at times in recent years, Mr. Kmiec said, the office, headed by William H. Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia before they served on the Supreme Court, “lost its ability to say no.”
“The approach changed dramatically with opinions on the war on terror,” Mr. Kmiec said. “The office became an advocate for the president’s policies.”
The trial for the seven guards and the useless nurse who watched those guards beat, kick, stomp and elbow for 30 minutes at a Bay County boot camp last January began yesterday on charges of aggravated manslaughter. The eight are being tried before an all-white jury, in a town where Martin's family had to go underground during the nearly year-long ordeal before indictments were handed down, due to racist taunts and death threats. Ain't that a kick in the head.
On trial and charged with felony aggravated manslaughter of a child are former drill instructors Henry Dickens, Charles Enfinger, Patrick Garrett, Raymond Hauck, Charles Helms Jr., Henry McFadden Jr., Joseph Walsh II and camp nurse, Kristin Schmidt. They face up to 30 years in prison, if convicted. Overstreet said he will allow the jury to consider a lesser non-homicidal verdict also.
Two of the defendants are black, one Asian and five are white. Defense attorneys have said some of the former drill instructors will testify.
Here we go.
By the way, we talked this morning about the Emmett Till case. The town where his killers were acquitted back in 1955 is now planning to issue an apology, in hopes of bringing tourists to their dying municipality. Fascinating backgrounder on the players in the Till tragedy here.
For some reason, the two cases resonated in parallel fashion for me this morning.
Hillary Clinton is kicking ass in the latest Washington Post poll. In every conceivable way... Even her husband is polling out of control (two thirds of Americans are bullish on his presidency, including a third of Republicans.) Witness:
Former President Bill Clinton has emerged as a clear asset in his wife's campaign for the White House, with Americans offering high ratings to his eight years in office and a solid majority saying they would be comfortable with him as first spouse, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
But Americans said they would not regard the election of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as simply the resumption of her husband's presidency. Instead, two-thirds said she would take her presidency in a different direction and half of all Americans said they believed that would be a good development. And about half of those who said it would be a resumption described that as positive.
Now tot he meat of the matter. Hillary is beating Rudy Giuliani, the likely Republican nominee, 51 to 43 in this poll, taking 88 percent of Dems, 48 percent of Independents (Rudy gets 44) and even 10 percent of Republicans (more than Bushie got of Dems in 2000). But is she polarizing (I argue who cares, but let's pretend that it matters):
Many Republicans have said they are eager to run a general election campaign against Hillary Clinton, describing her as a highly polarizing candidate who would unite and energize the opposition. But as of now Clinton appears to to be no more polarizing than other leading Democratic candidates. Nor is there a potential Republican nominee who appears significantly less polarizing.
Forty-one percent of those surveyed said they definitely would not vote for Clinton in the general election if she were the Democratic nominee, one of the lowest "reject rates" of any of the leading candidates in either of the two major parties. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama registers the lowest definite opposition, at 39 percent.
...in the South, Edwards's home turf, the three leading Democrats all have been ruled out by nearly identical percentages; Edwards by 47 percent, Clinton by 46 percent and Obama by 45 percent.
Americans currently view the top four Republican candidates in equally or even more negative terms. Forty-four percent said they definitely would not vote for former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, while 45 percent said the same of Arizona Sen. John McCain. More than half of all Americans said they definitely would not vote for former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson (54 percent) or former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (57 percent).
On the other side of the ledger, more Americans, three in 10, said they definitely would support Clinton than any other of the leading candidates of either party. In contrast, just 17 percent said they definitely would support Giuliani.
So who's polarizing, again? Chris Matthews, present yourself!
Two more items from the poll:
First, the word from those who are paying attention...
...among those following the election very closely at this point, Clinton enjoys a sizeable lead -- 58 percent to 40 percent.
And next, Hillary's real mojo factor: women...
A Clinton-Giuliani race could produce a big gender gap. Men now split about evenly between the two, but the New York senator's potentially groundbreaking candidacy draws heavily among women, 57 percent to 39 percent.
Note again, that Hil is not losing men -- she's polling equally with Rudy there.
Camp Clinton managed to rake in $22 million for the Democratic primary battle and another $5 million for the general election. Obama, the Illinois senator, raised $19 million for the primary, plus a bit over $1 million for the later contest.
Clinton's $22 million primary haul marked her best fundraising quarter yet.
"Wow. It's like they're always holding the trump card - they are good, and that's why they pulled out the stops this quarter," said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio of the Clinton money machine.
Clinton's cranking ATM helped narrow the gap with Obama, giving her about $73 million to fight for the nomination to his $75 million.
When general election numbers are added in, the pair are neck and neck in buck-raking, at about $80 million each since January. Clinton started off with a $10 million advantage, funneling leftover campaign cash from her successful Senate bid into her presidential account. Observers say the money is important and the timing of the announcement helps Clinton because she can trumpet momentum while Obama has flatlined - at the polls and on the fundraising circuit.
I listened to as much as I could stand of Rush Limbaugh (talent on loan from the Devil) this afternoon, and I have to admit, it was pretty funny. Limbaugh launched into about a 15 minute tirade against Harry Reid, Tom Harkin (who speculated hilariously about El Rushbo's possible return to drug use yesterday) and other Congressional Democrats who have condemned his September 26 slur against American troops who oppose the president's Iraq policy. Rush said last week that any troops who speak out against the Iraq war as being fought under the direction of Mr. Bush are "phony soldiers." Since then, Democrats have been excoriating him, taking full advantage of the rank hypocrisy on display by a man who has never served his country, took draft deferrments during Vietnam, and who lambasted Moveon.org for coining the Blackfive blog phrase "Betray-us" in an ad criticizing the P.R. flacking of Gen. David Petraeus, Bush's man in Iraq.
So today, Rush desperately tried to turn the tables on the Dems, accusing them of trying to reverse their irrelevancy by attacking him, and even comparing Harry Reid to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and a soldier who stars in a new Internet ad denouncing Rush's comments on behalf of VoteVets.org to a suicide bomber ... says Rush:
"This is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said and then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media and a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into. This man will always be a hero to this country with everyone. Whoever pumped him full of these lies about what I said and embarrassed him with this ad has betrayed him, they aren't hurting me they are betraying this soldier," Limbaugh said.
lord have mercy...
Rush is desperate, I'd wager because at long last, he has waded into a controversy from which he cannot wriggle out, cannot stop the curtain from falling back, cannot retreat before being fully exposed for the rank hypocrite he is. Finally, it has been made plain for all to see that Rush -- who once had sole ownership of the airwaves our troops are fed, Armed Forces Radio -- really doesn't give a rat's ass about the troops. In fact, he has use for them, only in so far as they serve as willing props for his masters in the White House and the GOP. In short, Rush is a White House stooge and Party hack, and the soldiers he claims to be the champion of are nothing more than political cannon fodder. It's when they start thinking things through that they become the enemy, just like the Democrats, just like the "drive by media" and just like anyone who dares to criticize George W. Bush.
Rush, who is every bit a coward and chickenhawk, ought to just apologize, rather than doctoring the podcasts (seriously...) to try and cover up his statement, and rather than attacking others who are raising legitimate criticisms of him.
But he won't. He can't. He has too much to lose.
Rush skated on the whole drugs and foreign sex trips vibe, but if his die-hards ever start to doubt him on matters of patriotism of military might, well, they just might start asking some uncomfortable questions about their lovable, lisping windbag of an airwaves leader... ahem...
Meanwhile, the Dems send a letter of condemnation to Mark Mays, who runs Clear Channel, which incidentally, owns Jeff Christie's ... er ... Rush's show -- (hm ... no wonder he's on so many stations ... his bosses OWN the stations ... kind of changes the context of his primacy in radio... on his own merits, I wonder how prolific El Rushbo would be...)
Christian conservatives led by Reagan pal and movement conservative forefather Richard Viguerie may lead a walk-out on the GOP if Rudy is the nominee. Read on.
More than 40 Christian conservatives attended a meeting Saturday in Salt Lake City to discuss the possibility, and planned more gatherings on how they should move forward, according to Richard A. Viguerie, the direct-mail expert and longtime conservative activist.
Other participants in the meeting included James Dobson, founder of the Focus on the Family evangelical ministry in Colorado Springs, Colo., and, according to Viguerie, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, a conservative policy group in Washington.
However, Dobson spoke out against the idea of a third party even if "both Democratic and Republican nominees are known to be entirely unsupportive of the sanctity of human life, the institution of marriage and other aspects of the pro-moral agenda," according to Gary Schneeberger, a spokesman for Focus on the Family Action.
A spokesman for Perkins did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
Viguerie would not give specifics of the proposal or reveal additional names of participants, but said President Bush "would not have been elected in '04 without the people in that room."
"There is such a jaundiced feelings about any promises or commitments from any Republican leaders," he said in a phone interview. "You could almost cut the anger and the frustration with a knife in that room it's so strong. Because they don't know what else to do, they're talking third party."
Viguerie was on Ed Schultz's show today exlaining that conservatives, religous and fiscal, are fed up with the broken promises of the GOP that if a candidate like Rudy Giuliani is nominated, it will be "the end of the Republican Party." Viguerie is author of "Conservatives Betrayed," and yknow what? He's not feeling Fred Thompson either, calling him an actor playing the part of a conservative on TV.
"Giuliani is beyond the pale, it's just not going to happen," he said.
"There's no way conservative leaders are going to support a pro-abortion candidate."
Mr Viguerie says if the conservative Christians decide to support a third party bid, it will not be a one-off occurrence.
"It will be that we have determined that the Republican Party is beyond salvation, they have lied and betrayed the conservative voters one time too many, and that this will be a major effort that will go far beyond the '08 election," he said.
Tony Perkins is another powerful conservative leader from the Family Research Council. He too was at the weekend meeting and says social conservatism is important for the Republican candidate.
"To the degree that the party moves away from those principal issues, social conservatives, evangelicals will move away from the party," he said.
"These are black and white issues. These are issues that there's just no room for negotiation [on]."
But Mr Giuliani's trump card is that he has the best chance of beating the front-running Democrat.
"Every poll shows that I would be by far the strongest candidate against Hillary Clinton," he said.
Jerry Mayer, a professor of politics at George Mason University in Washington, says the conservative Christians' plan threatens to split the Republican vote.
"You nominate a pro-choice Republican as liberal on gay issues, as liberal on sexuality as Giuliani is, I'm telling you some right-wing Republican maverick, like Alan Keyes or some other minor figure, will run as a third party candidate, will run as a pro-life candidate of the party of God, and that will hurt," he said.
"Indeed, it will make it impossible for the Republicans to win."
The revolt by Christian leaders could be a damaging blow to Mr Giuliani's campaign, because white evangelical Protestants make up a large share of Republican voters.
Sy Hersh reports that the Bush administration may have shifted their game plan, from bombing the hell out of Iran's nuclear facilities, as the neocons dream he shall ... to bombing the hell out of the Iranian Revlutionary Guard, who Joe Lieberman just had his friends in the Senate label a terrorist group. How convenient...
Meanwhile, Debra Cagan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coalition Affairs to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, hates all Iranians ... no, really, she hates them ALL... (maybe they're the ones who messed up her face...)