Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
After Tiller's murder, fears of right wing extremism
Suddenly, this doesn't seem so funny anymore:

Not saying this woman was necessarily dangerous, but with the first Black president in office, right wing extremism on the rise, and armed, truly crazy people lurking out there, thank God the Secret Service takes no chances.

Original ReidBlog thread: the murder of Dr. George Tiller

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posted by JReid @ 11:48 PM  
Lindsey Graham: Sotomayor should apologize to white people
We have truly entered the Bizarro World of right wing politics. Senator Lindsey Graham, who represents South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union, and a former bastion of slavery and Jim Crow, has now officially demanded that Sonia Sotomayor... an Hispanic woman ... apologize to all white men for making them feel bad.

Yep. That's it. I've now heard it all.

BTW, I wonder if that nut-bag Tom Tancredo will now call Miss Lindsey a quasi member of the KKK for having addressed La Raza on the subject of immigration reform back in 2007...?

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posted by JReid @ 10:45 PM  
Doctor who performed abortions gunned down at church
(**Scroll to the bottom of the post for the latest updates.**)

Disturbing news out of Kansas:

WICHITA, Kansas -- Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas doctor whose clinic received national attention for performing late-term abortions, was shot to death as he entered his Wichita church on Sunday.

"Members of the congregation who were inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting were being kept inside the church by police," the Wichita Eagle reported, "and those arriving were being ushered into the parking lot."

Media reports said the suspected killer fled the scene in a blue Taurus. Police described him as a white male in his 50s or 60s.

***UPDATE***More awful details:

Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said Tiller, 67, was serving as an usher during morning services when he was shot in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church. Stolz said the gunman fired one shot at Tiller and threatened two other people who tried to stop him.

... Stolz said that Tiller apparently did not have a bodyguard with him in church, although the doctor was routinely accompanied by one. An attorney for Tiller, Dan Monnat, said the doctor's wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time of the shooting.

Monnat said that Tiller recently had asked federal prosecutors to step up investigations of vandalism and other threats against the clinic out of fear that the incidents were increasing and that Tiller's safety was in jeopardy. However, Stolz said authorities knew of no threats connected to the shooting.

Adam Watkins, a 20-year-old who said he has attended the church his entire life, said he was sitting in the middle of the congregation when he heard a small pop at the start of the service.

"We just thought a child had come in with a balloon and it had popped, had gone up and hit the ceiling and popped," Watkins said.

Another usher came in and told the congregation to remain seated, then escorted Tiller's wife out.

"When she got to the back doors, we heard her scream, and so we knew something bad had happened," Watkins said.

Tiller was among the few U.S. doctors to perform late-term abortions, he had been the target of numerous protests, and even a dubious prosecution that seemed to be brought on by pro-life forces. Wingers dubbed him "Tiller the Killer," and the notorious Operation Rescue had targeted him with a website called TillerWatch. Their statement on his murder:

“We are shocked at this morning’s disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down,” anti-abortion group Operation Rescue said in a statement on its Web site. “Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller’s family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ.”

Apparently, the FBI is involved in the case, and police are checking on a person whose car license plate is linked to the scene.

RedState comments RedStatily:

This is apparently not the first time George Tiller has been shot at. He was shot in both arms back in 1993. He also has a history of flouting sensible regulation and oversight on abortion, in a quest to perform as many late-term abortions as possible.

Because of that, combined with the fact that reports say there were steps taken to cut out security cameras, I find it highly likely that this was a politically-motivated shooting. It is entirely the wrong thing to do though, achieves nothing to save lives, and must be prosecuted vigorously.

Pro-Life Blogs tells it like it is.

The Christian Defense Coalition condemns.

But this RedStater sounds what is the more likely El Rushbo/Glenn Beck/Hannity crazy talk position:

I can’t help but to follow the logic. “Doctor” Tiller is committing late-term abortions, which by any sane person’s calculation is infanticide. This is murder. Through perversion of the law, this is permitted, despite it flying the face of the history of civilization. This has been tolerated for two decades, and nothing has happened to stop the killing. He would have continued to commit this crime.

I can’t escape the conclusion that killing Tiller was the right thing to do. I am uncomfortable with this conclusion because it’s dangerous. But nevertheless, it was the ethical thing to do. Tiller would have continued to take numerous lives. Nothing was going to stop him. So someone did stop him. And now fewer lives will be taken.

We celebrate the breaking the laws every time the media canonizes Rosa Parks. She broke the law. There is no question of that. The question is whether it was the ethical thing to do (it was.) We celebrate the Nazi resistance, we celebrate the Tiananmen Square uprising. I’m sure those were all illegal actions, yet were unquestionably the moral things to do. So how would killing a killer, when all options are exhausted, not also be the right thing to do?

You have to wonder if the reason why we have a legal system is in order to steal the oxygen from moral vigilantism. You have to wonder if the legal system breaks down whether vigilantism, when all other options fail, becomes a moral imperative.

So the killer is ... the right's Rosa Parks? I take it this person does know that Parks never killed anybody, and that the movement she sparked and was a part of was fundamentally about non-violence .... right, RedState???

UPDATE: The White House released the following statement:

"I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning,'' Obama said in a statement issued by the White House this evening.

"However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion,'' the president said, "they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.''

UPDATE 2: A suspect has apparently been arrested. He's 51 years old and was stopped outside of Johnson County Kansas, according to police. Meanwhile the National Right to Life Committee has also condemned the slaying. Kind of would be nice if these groups would eschew violence before their crazy afficionados utilize their Second Amendment rights in violation of someone else's right to life...

McClatchy is doing video updates.

UPDATE 3: Right wing bloggers are ID'ing someone they say is the suspect, a guy named Scott Roeder (they're getting it from AP,) who apparently had been leaving creepy comments on the Operation Rescue website, and at the site According to the Little Green Footballers:

Scott Roeder posted a creepy comment at the Operation Rescue website in 2007, in this topic about Dr. Tiller: Operation Rescue® » Pray in May to Stop Abortion, Wichita, KS, May 17-20, 2007:

Scott Roeder Says:
May 19th, 2007 at 4:34 pm

Bleass everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp.

Sometime soon, would it be feasible to organize as many people as possible to attend Tillers church (inside, not just outside) to have much more of a presence and possibly ask questions of the Pastor, Deacons, Elders and members while there? Doesn’t seem like it would hurt anything but bring more attention to Tiller.

And the FReepers add this, courtesy of the Anti-Defamation League:

Not the first arrest for Tiller's Killer?
ADL ^ | unk | unk

Posted on Sun May 31 19:34:48 2009 by aft_lizard

July 7, Kansas: Scott Roeder is sentenced to sixteen months in state prison for parole violations following a 1996 conviction for having bomb components in his car trunk. Roeder, a sovereign citizen and tax protester, violated his parole by not filing tax returns or providing his social security number to his employer.
So what is a "Sovereign Citizen?" With a hat tip to LGF, here's the Wiki:
The sovereign citizen movement is a network of American litigants who claim to be "sovereign citizens"; that is, people who claim to have certain rights under English common law and to be unaccountable to the federal government. The litigants advance this concept in opposition to "federal citizens" who, they believe, have unknowingly forfeited their rights by accepting some aspect of federal law.
This "sovereign citizen" concept originated in the Posse Comitatus movement as a teaching of Christian Identity minister William P. Gale. It has gone on to influence the tax protester movement, the Christian Patriot movement and the Redemption movement. Gale identified the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution as the act that converted sovereign citizens into federal citizens, but other commentators have identified other acts, including the Uniform Commercial Code, the Emergency Banking Act, the Zone Improvement Plan and the supposed suppression of the Titles of Nobility Amendment.
So he's part of Operation Rescue AND the "tea party movement." Brilliant! And per the ADL's Extremism Watch:
Origins: Çirca 1970; fully developed by early 1980s
Ideology: Anti-government, some white supremacist elements
Outreach: Vigilante courts, seminars, shortwave radio, the Internet, "schools of common law"
And this, which links our murder suspect to the same movement subscribed to by Terry Nichols:

In April 1992, an angry resident of Sanilac County, Michigan, wrote a letter to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources stating he was no longer a "citizen of the corrupt political corporate State of Michigan and the United States of America" and was answerable only to the "Common Laws." He therefore expressly revoked his signature on any hunting or fishing licenses, which he viewed as contracts that fraudulently bound him to the illegitimate government of Michigan.

That obscure Michigan hunter would, three years later, become known to the entire world. He was Terry Nichols, friend and accomplice of Oklahoma City Federal Building bomber Timothy McVeigh. Nichols subscribed to an unusual right-wing anti-government ideo-logy whose adherents have in recent years increasingly plagued public officials, law enforcement officers and private citizens with a variety of tactics designed to attack the government and other forms of authority. Its members call themselves, variously, consti-tutionalists, freemen, preamble citizens, common law citizens and non-foreign/non-resident aliens (Nichols used several of these), but most commonly refer to themselves as "sovereign citizens."

Members of the sovereign citizen movement engage in a variety of seemingly bizarre activities. Nichols, for instance, several times repudiated his allegiance to federal and state governments. He tried to pay a credit card debt with a fictitious financial instrument called a "certified fractional reserve check." Brought into court in Michigan in 1993, he refused to walk to the front of the courtroom and denied the court's jurisdiction over him. Even when he wrote addresses on letters, Nichols made sure to use the abbreviation "TDC" to indicate that he was using the federal zip code under "threat, duress and coercion." These exhibitions of behavior might seem odd or even humorous, but the same ideology that led to those activities also helped lead Terry Nichols to assist Timothy McVeigh in building a bomb that would kill 168 people and injure hundreds more. By then the sovereign citizen movement to which Nichols subscribed had embarked upon a nationwide resurgence that would last into the 21st century; its anti-government activities would cause problems in every region of the country.

Meanwhile, Donklephant muses:
His name is Scott Roeder and it looks like he’s involved with Operation Rescue in some way. Obviously that doesn’t mean they’re to blame, but if you convince your followers that somebody is a mass murderer and is doing it legally…you think something bad might happen?
Ya think??? So why are the winger blogs so proactive in going after Tiller's killer? Our FReeper friend aft_lizard explains:

All Pro-Lifers will raked over the coals for this lone nut case....

In other words: fear of guilt by association. Well isn't that ironic...

UPDATE 4: Randall Terry, whose group Operation Rescue the murder suspect is linked to, says he's more concerned about Barack Obama's reaction to the murder than about the killing itself. Per the HuffPo:

Randall Terry, the founder of anti-abortion group Operation Rescue who led protests against George Tiller's clinic in Wichita, Kansas in 1991, issued a statement about today's killing of the abortion doctor.

In his comments, Terry does not grieve for Tiller or denounce the murder but seems more concerned about President Obama's reaction and what it bodes for the pro-life movement.

"George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder.

Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches."

Terry did not return calls for comment.


And what say you now, Bill O'Reilly? From Salon's Gabriel Winant:

... there's no other person who bears as much responsibility for the characterization of Tiller as a savage on the loose, killing babies willy-nilly thanks to the collusion of would-be sophisticated cultural elites, a bought-and-paid-for governor and scofflaw secular journalists. Tiller's name first appeared on "The Factor" on Feb. 25, 2005. Since then, O'Reilly and his guest hosts have brought up the doctor on 28 more episodes, including as recently as April 27 of this year. Almost invariably, Tiller is described as "Tiller the Baby Killer."

Tiller, O'Reilly likes to say, "destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000." He's guilty of "Nazi stuff," said O'Reilly on June 8, 2005; a moral equivalent to NAMBLA and al-Qaida, he suggested on March 15, 2006. "This is the kind of stuff happened in Mao's China, Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union," said O'Reilly on Nov. 9, 2006.

O'Reilly has also frequently linked Tiller to his longtime obsession, child molestation and rape. Because a young teenager who received an abortion from Tiller could, by definition, have been a victim of statutory rape, O'Reilly frequently suggested that the clinic was covering up for child rapists (rather than teenage boyfriends) by refusing to release records on the abortions performed.

... While he never advocated anything violent or illegal, the Fox bully repeatedly portrayed the doctor as a murderer on the loose, allowed to do whatever he wanted by corrupt and decadent authorities.

UPDATE 5: Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered U.S. Marshalls to protect the country's women's clinics:

Holder issued the following statement:

The murder of Doctor George Tiller is an abhorrent act of violence, and his family is in our thoughts and prayers at this tragic moment. Federal law enforcement is coordinating with local law enforcement officials in Kansas on the investigation of this crime, and I have directed the United States Marshals Service to offer protection to other appropriate people and facilities around the nation. The Department of Justice will work to bring the perpetrator of this crime to justice. As a precautionary measure, we will also take appropriate steps to help prevent any related acts of violence from occurring.
Tiller's family is also out with a statement:
"Today we mourn the loss of our husband, father and grandfather. Today's event is an unspeakable tragedy for all of us and for George's friends and patients. This is particularly heart wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace.

We would like to express the family's thanks for the many messages of sympathy from our friends and from all across the nation. We also want to thank the law enforcement officers who are investigating this crime.

Our loss is also a loss for the City of Wichita and women across America. George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality heath care despite frequent threats and violence. We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere."

And this from Kansas right to life groups:
"Killing isn't part of saving lives," said Pat Turner, Kansas Right to Life. "We never encouraged anyone to do it."
Well, not directly, anyway. Meanwhile, a Kansas Planned Parenthood official calls it like it is:
"To use violence, to kill someone, is not ever okay," said Peter Brownlie, Planned Parenthood. ...

... Brownlie said he knew Tiller personally and knew of the threats he faced. He calls them acts of domestic terrorism.

"I'm sad that people who provide medical care to women have to live in fear," he said.

BTW, remember when the right started foaming at the mouth about a Homeland Security report about violent right wing extremist groups? Makes you wonder... One line from the report:
Gun-related violence: “Heightened interest in legislation for tighter firearms … may be invigorating rightwing extremist activity, specifically the white supremacist and militia movements.”
UPDATE 6: I haven't been able to corroborate the net chatter that Roeder's car had a post-it note in it with the phone number of Operation Rescue written on it. The links provided by LGF and other sites go to this story, where that info, if it was there before, isn't there now.

More on Tiller and Roeder:

Federal marshals protected Tiller during the 1991 Summer of Mercy protests, and he was protected again between 1994 and 1998 after another abortion provider was assassinated and federal authorities reported finding Tiller's name on an assassination list.

Someone named Scott Roeder, then 38, was charged in Topeka, Kan., in 1996 with criminal use of explosives for having bomb components in his car trunk and sentenced to 24 months of probation. However, his conviction was overturned on appeal the next year after a higher court said evidence against Roeder was seized by law enforcement officers during an illegal search of his car.

At the time, police said the FBI had identified Roeder as a member of the anti-government Freemen group, an organization that kept the FBI at bay in Jordan, Mont., for almost three months in 1995-96.

The article may be mistaking the "Freemen" or "Montana Freemen" with the Sovereign Citizen movement. The two are apparently related.

Also, Roeder's family has spoken to the media, specifically to KMBC-TV in Kansas City:
Roeder's uncle, Clarence Roeder, issued a statement Sunday evening."This is a tragedy for the Tiller family and we feel so badly about that, that Scott would murder the doctor in the Lutheran church. We are also Lutherans, and that adds a double touch of sadness and irony."

Family members told KMBC's Jim Flink that Scott Roeder had been in and out of trouble in the 1990s, and they had not seen him since 2000, when his father died.
I'll provide more updates as I find them.

UPDATE 7: Tiller murder spawns a bit of left vs. left in-fighting.

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posted by JReid @ 2:52 PM  
Judge Sotomayor? How NICE
Did you notice how nice, effusive and positive the elected Republicans were to Judge Sotomayor on the Sunday shows today? I think our children IS learning... Well, except for Mitch McConnell. I think he was just born mean...

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posted by JReid @ 2:40 PM  
In Florida Senate race, Democrats fall in line
You know that old saying (I think I first heard it from Bill Clinton,) that "Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line?" Well... Democrats are starting to fall like Republicans. I didn't make the Jefferson Jackson dinner last night (what can I say, my A/C broke, and in Florida, that takes priority, even over politics. BTW if you need a good air conditioning guy, call me!) but I did get the news, via a text message last night, that Dan Gelber, the favorite of liberals in the U.S. Senate race, is dropping out ... er ... "stepping back" ... from the Senate race. (Alex Sink can't be thrilled that what was supposed to be a love-fest for her gubernatorial run got upstaged by Camp Kendrick...)

I'm not surprised. I've heard rumors that Gelber would probably go for weeks, though I'm not sure if it's a matter of fundraising, or ... um ... pressure (he apparently was getting it, including from the DSCC.) And as a loyal Democrat, he probably wanted to do what the party wants, which is to clear the field so the party can focus on just one candidate. Besides, Gelber was in a no-win situation. He is even less well known statewide than his opponent, and he was up against two formidable and enmeshed political machines: the Meek machine on the local level and the Clinton machine, whose obvious star power and fundraising tentacles reach deep into the Sunshine state. Gelber was struggling to raise money, and Meek has the endorsement of major unions and other prime political sources of cash. the "Kendrick Meek for Florida" campaign raised about $1.5 million through March 31st, according to his federal campaign disclosures, while Gelber had taken in just $363,000. There is a third candidate in the race, North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns. Um ... good luck with that, dude. (He had raised about $17,000 bucks as of March 31st.) Whatever the reason, Gelber is out. Meek's camp has released this statement:
“Dan Gelber is the model public servant guided by a lifelong pursuit of truth. I’d wish Dan luck in any endeavor that he pursues, but he doesn’t need luck. Dan’s intellect, dedication to justice and sense of fairness will serve him and our state well no matter his pursuit. He is a friend who puts party first and his message to Florida Democrats that we must unify around a slate of candidates is a powerful statement that I wholeheartedly embrace. Dan is a natural leader who will continue to serve our state with distinction in any capacity he chooses and our party is better off because of him.“
... which mirrors Gelber's statement that he's tired of the Democratic "circular firing squad" that normally occurs during elections. Since he hasn't been "fired at" as yet, I for one, am wondering what exactly he means. And personally, I think the "circular firing squad" during a certain Democratic presidential primary made our current president a better general election candidate. BTW Gelber even got a tweet-out from former State Senate colleague Marco Rubio.

Welcome to the new Democratic World Order. BTW this comes during the same week when Ed Rendell essentially threatened Joe Sestak that he'd get "killed" (politically, I assume) if he runs against the establishment candidate, Republican ... I mean Democrat... Arlen Specter, in the PA primary. Democracy, you've gotta love it!

I hate to mirror the ravings of RedState, but these days, the Democratic Party feels an awful lot like the GOP, which generally prefers coronations to primaries. That said, clearing the way for politicians to run for office without actually having to RUN, is already the way things often work in Black politics from what I've seen in Florida (if you can find me a Black person within 100 miles of here who would dare to oppose a sitting Black politician in South Florida publicly, I'll give you, and them, $100. $200 if it's a preacher...) Congressman Meek has never had a serious opponent since he won his mother Carrie Meek's House seat in 2002, and he has benefited from the fact that people down here are loathe to oppose Carrie Meek, whom I would have to say is the single most influential Black person in South Florida, even in retirement from politics. So it's little wonder that the rest of the party would catch on.

On a practial level, Meek had about a hundred assets that Gelber didn't. He benefits from his friendship with former president Clinton, whose wife Meek supported in the Democratic primary, even as the vast majority of Black folks, including in his district, backed Barack Obama (he was far from alone in that regard.) The payback for that support is obvious: Bill Clinton is Kendrick's most prolific and high-profile, fundraiser. It's very hard, if not impossible, to beat that. Ironically, when pressed about sticking with Hillary as it became clear she would lose the Democratic nomination, Kendrick said this:
"There's a chorus of folks saying 'Oh well, saying let's end this right now... But we're Democrats, not Republicans. We believe in Democratic primaries playing themselves out."
So much for that. And while Gelber supported Barack Obama early on, he never found a way to capitalize on that fact, while Meek up and hired Obama's deputy campaign director Steve Hildebrand, to run his campaign. So Meek got the best of both worlds: Obama's turnout guru and Hillary's money people.

So far, the reaction to Gelber's exit within the Florida netroots has ranged from pragmatic to harsh, (this diary was apparently harsh too, before it was deleted...) and Gelber will likely be a candidate for attorney general (my guess is that he was told by -- fill in the blanks as you prefer -- that he would do better to withdraw, try for A.G., thereby receive the backing of the right money people, and give the party the time and space to fight the big fish: Charlie Crist, or to drive him out of the race, too... ahem ...) so progressives will still have him to kick around. That is sound political practice from the standpoint of winning elections, and to be honest, I don't relish the idea of Democrats shredding each other during a primary. But you'd think that in a democracy, we could come up with a way to have a spirited debate, and then let rank and file Democrats pick our nominee. Hell, it worked in 2007/2008, and while it got ugly -- mostly because the Clintons made it ugly -- we wound up winning the race with a tough, tested canddate. Just my two cents.

BTW don't get too geeked up out there about the idea of Corinne Brown supposedly exploring her own run for Senate. I seriously doubt the seriousness. She and Kendrick swim in the same Black establishment political waters, and I suspect she will be swiftly talked down from that particular exploration. Besides, what would be her point of difference with Kendrick? She supported Hillary Clinton, too, so she wouldn't have that issue to use against him with Black voters. The only difference would be regional, and from what I hear, Rep. Meek has already sown up the key endorsements and money people in Rep. Brown's neck of the woods.

Meanwhile, as things get easier for Kendrick, they're getting tougher for Charlie. (On Michael Putney's show this morning, Meek mused that Charlie Crist might not even be his opponent in 2010. Not likely, but not impossible either. One can only imagine what the Clinton oppo research veterans have in store for Mr. Crist. Meek's best scenario would be to face what he has faced in the past -- a non-opponent. And I'm assuming his camp believes that non-opponent to be Marco Rubio.

UPDATE: Watch Gelber's "Stepping Back" speech, courtesy of Larry Thorsen:

UPDATE 2: The Orlando Sentinel's Jane Healy speaks my mind, though in her case, about the governor's race:
This may be good from a political fundraising perspective, saving all the money for the 2010 general election. But it hurts the voters. Without a challenge from someone within their own party, candidates get away with taking fewer stands on important issues. Voters ought to rebel and insist that the candidates answer some tough questions.

... This could be where the lack of a primary hurts most. It will be hard to tell whether the candidates have any backbone since they will automatically get money from the traditional interest groups. For Democrats, the unions and the trial lawyers are those key constituencies. For Republicans, it's the business community. At least Crist had to run in a hotly contested primary before being elected, exposing his real differences with the conservative wing of the party.

And with no real primaries, you can forget about debates for a long time. The candidates will probably be able to escape them until after Labor Day 2010, when the general-election season kicks in. Oh, well.

Oh well, indeed.

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posted by JReid @ 12:17 PM  
Friday, May 29, 2009
Is Team Obama getting tough with Israel?
Signs point to yes, at least on the issue of settlements... and this time, Bibi Netanyahu and his Likudniks are getting considerably less cover from Congress.

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posted by JReid @ 6:32 PM  
Limbaugh attacks Cornyn, calls Native Americans 'clowns'
And this is the guy worried about a "racist" getting onto the Supreme Court? Rush Limbaugh, famous for his positive attitude toward ethnic minorities, has done it again. His attack on John Cornyn, whose conservative credentials he questioned today, was expected. After all, Cornyn made the seminal mistake of disagreeing with Boss Limbaugh for likening Judge Sonia Sotomayor to David Duke. But then, El Rushbo up and swallowed the "golden microphone":
Rush got the final hour started with "one more thing" about Sonia Sotomayor -- a mental exercise: "She said that because she is a Latina, because she is a Hispanic woman, that she'd -- because of the richness of that experience, she'd be a better judge than a white guy. What if she had said because of her rich experiences as a Latina, as a Hispanic woman, that she'd be a better judge than a black guy? What do you think the reaction to that might have been?"
Go on ...
"If we want to talk about richness of experience, there's a group of people that were here before we got here, gang: the Indians, the Native Americans, the chiefs, the redskins. I don't see any of them being put up on the courts. Talk about a richness of experience -- hell, these clowns beat Custer. They have cred. You don't see them being put up, do you?"
Oh, that's not good.

Meanwhile, how long before the White House knuckles under to the wussified Old School Democrats and force Judge Sotomayor to issue a meek and full throated apology to white people everywhere, even as they're winning this debate??? The media, from Politico to the New York Times to the loathsome New Republic, is already doing its part to cow the would-be Justice on the "wise Latina" issue, and so far, Robert Gibbs is playing along.

UPDATE: So is Barack.

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posted by JReid @ 6:01 PM  
Remainders: Tom Tancredo's bad company, and the increasingly crazy right
Apparently Tom Tancredo, who Migra Matters accuses of having been too mentally unstable to serve during Vietnam (ouch!) and who apparently lives in fear of a "Latino KKK," gets flagged by of all people, Little Green Footballs, for continuing to employ (jointly with our good friend Pat Buchanan) a racist nut who attacked a black woman on the streets of D.C. (Apparently, the LGF crowd doesn't much like "paleocons," especially Buchanan -- they think they're fascists.) The LGF crew even helpfully linked to the assailant, Marcus Epstein's rap sheet. So who is Epstein? He's a Vdare contributor (and why not?) and apparently, is vying for Michelle Malkin to become the "world's darkest white supremacist." According to LGF, he "uses his Jewish-Korean background" as a cover for white supremacist activity. ... and he's a drinker... Way to go, Tancredo!

Staying with the crazy race card, did you hear the one about the dummy who took out an Obama assassination classified ad? Cue the Secret Service. (Hat tip to Salon's war room.)

What's amazing, and scary, is how quickly the Obama election has brought out the crazy, previously sublimated elements of the racist underbelly in this country, even in what used to be thought of as the mainstream right. We saw it at Palin rallies during the campaign, when people felt liberated to voice assassination fantasies in public, or shrieked that if Obama were to win, "blacks would take over," and we see it in the wingnuts who even now, desperately cling to the idea that Barack Obama is some foreigner masquerading as an American and hiding his real birth certificate, and in the occasional spasms of violent extremism with an Obama theme. But I suppose compounding the Black president with a Latina Supreme Court nominee was enough to pop the crazy cork completely out of the bottle. God, what will they do if he nominates a Black woman Justice next time?

Meanwhile, how long before John Cornyn has to apologize to Rush for saying he disagrees with his attacks on Sotomayor? And can elected Republicans walk back the lunacy before it's too late?


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posted by JReid @ 4:50 PM  
Dick Cheney: lonely, paranoid, frightened, 'reptilian'
Damn, that's gotta sting.

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posted by JReid @ 4:29 PM  
Countering the oppression of the white man
The right's self-sabotage just won't end. Also from Salon:
RedState's editor, Erick Erickson, felt compelled to stand up for white men on Wednesday. "I dunno, Sotomayor," he wrote on Twitter. "Considering white males engineered Western Civ, you'd think they'd have a handle on things to be able to make decisions."

Not surprisingly, the idea of trying to block a Latina judge from the Supreme Court by stirring up resentment over affirmative action doesn't strike many observers as the best way to appeal to Latino voters. "If Sonia Sotomayor's name were John Smith, she'd be just as qualified, and no one would be charging affirmative action or reverse racism," said Mark McKinnon, a Republican strategist who left John McCain's presidential campaign last year because he didn't want to help it go negative against Obama. "To suggest as much is itself racist. And I think most Americans see right through the smoke screen."

The White House -- which wouldn't comment for this story -- isn't exactly trying to avoid reminding people of Sotomayor's Puerto Rican heritage, preferably with a soft-focus lens that plays up the historic nature of her nomination. If conservatives overreach in opposing her, the administration won't complain. "Latino voters are responding with a tremendous sense of pride and appreciation," said Fernand Amandi, executive vice president of Bendixen & Associates, a Democratic polling firm that surveyed Latino voters for Obama's campaign last year. "The Hispanic community -- especially after the immigration issue -- is very sensitive to dog-whistle attack politics. During the immigration debate, Hispanics were never directly attacked or called out, but the message they received was they were not wanted here." The dog-whistle line may have already been crossed; it's not exactly a hidden message to call someone a race hustler.

Republicans who actually have to win elections don't seem interested in engaging in the backlash politics. "The approach that many of the senators and leadership is taking is, well, you know, let's give her a fair hearing and see what she has to say," said GOP pollster Glen Bolger. "It's really hard to stop this kind of nomination [with only 40 Senate seats], and then there's the political Hispanic angle." A Republican consultant who advises GOP candidates on winning Latino votes, Lionel Sosa, said he expected most senators to ask plenty of questions about Sotomayor, then support her. "For Republicans to mount a filibuster is foolhardy," he said. "If a Republican doesn't care about getting reelected, and a Republican doesn't care about the image of the Republican Party, they may vote against her, but I think in the end, we'll see who the smart ones are and who the not so smart ones are by how they cast their votes."
Dog ... whistle...

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posted by JReid @ 12:57 PM  
Whither the Republican Senators on Sotomayor?
Here's a brief look at the Republican 40-40 club (with 2010 election info courtesy of and demographic data from Specifically, take a look at where the "hope to be re-elected" stand, so far, on Judge Sotomayor. Those running for re-election or other office in 2010 are starred. The Hispanic population rank -HPR- for the states where a Senator is up for re-election are in red.)

The up-shot, while the wingers outside the Beltway are busy fitting themselves for white hoods and straight jackets (and placing the few black and brown members of the GOP into one hell of a stress position), Republicans who actually have to get elected (or re-elected) to office are (mostly) keeping their powder dry. Here's where they stand so far:
  1. Lamar Alexander (TN) - He says he won't pre-judge.

  2. John Barrasso (WY) - Barrasso is as doctrinaire a right winger as there ever was, but so far he has released no official statements on Sotomayor. Maybe she could win him over by toting a firearm into the hearings?

  3. *Robert Bennett (UT) / HPR: 23 - Up for re-election. Safe seat. Both he and Orrin Hatch voted for Judge Sotomayor in 1998, though Hatch accused her of being a dastardly liberal. This time, Bennett is facing a primary challenge from his right flank, and he and Hatch may vote no on general political principle. So far, Hatch has been doing all the talking out of Utah, with Bennett releasing only the mildest of one-sentence statements.

  4. Kit Bond (MO) - Retiring from Senate. Abstained from vote in '98. Reacting with "caution" this time.

  5. Sam Brownback (KS) - Retiring from Senate. (He voted no on Sotomayor in '98 and remains "troubled" by her...)

  6. *Jim Bunning (KY) / HPR: 38 - Up for what could be the wierdest re-election campaigns of 2010, Crazy Jim Bunning has no statements up on his website concerning Sotomayor, and so far has refused to comment altogether.

  7. *Richard Burr (NC) / HPR: 10 - One term Senator up for re-election in cursed seat (it's changed hands more times than Angelina Jolie...) in a state with the 10th largest Hispanic population in the U.S. Gulp...

  8. Saxby Chamblis (GA) - See Johnny Isaakson, below.

  9. *Tom Coburn (OK) / HPR: 28 - Up for re-election. (His statement on Sotomayor. Cheat sheet: expresses doubts, but says give her a "fair and dignified hearing.")

  10. Thad Cochran (MS) - Voted yes on Sotomayor in '98.

  11. Susan Collins (ME) - Voted yes on Sotomayor in '98. Hard to believe she wouldn't do so again.

  12. Bob Corker (TN) - Non-committal so far. Says he'll examine her record.

  13. John Cornyn (TX) - Still facing a backlash from the right over his quick endorsement of Charlie Crist, you could imagine him opposing Sotomayor just to appease the RedState crowd.

  14. *Mike Crapo (ID) / HPR: 30 - Up for what should be an easy re-election. He and his fellow Idahoan are thinking the Sotomayor nomination over.

  15. *Jim DeMint (SC) / HPR: 35 - Up for re-election in a safe seat. Has said Sotomayor's writings raise "serious questions," but that he'll withhold judgement until the hearings.

  16. John Ensign (NV) - Says he'll work through the process, to make sure the former Yale law review editor and Princeton Summa Cum Laude has the "right intellect" to be a Supreme Court justice. Riiiight.... Someone must have pointed out how odd that sounds, because the official statement on his website is a lot more clipped.

  17. Michael Enzi (WY) - Enzi was a "no" vote in '98. And he's from Wyoming...

  18. Lindsey Graham (SC) - Miss Lindsey issued a sunny statement about how much he looks forward to "meeting" and questioning Judge Sotomayor. He wasn't there in '98, and his best buddy John McCain was a "no" back then, so it's hard to know which way he'll go (no pun intended.)

  19. *Chuck Grassley (IA) / HPR: 31 - Up for re-election to a safe seat. He issued a perfunctory statement about applying the law, not politics, and then went on to predict that Sotomayor will be confirmed.

  20. Judd Gregg (NH) - Quit on Obama in 2009, quitting on the Senate in 2010. He voted yes on Sotomayor in '98.

  21. Orrin Hatch (UT) - Voted yes on Sotomayor in '98.

  22. *Kay Bailey Hutchinson (TX) / HPR: 2 - Running for Gov. of Texas ... the state with the second largest Hispanic population in the U.S., and against one of the dimmest political bulbs on earth. On Sotomayor, says she looks forward to a "fair and open confirmation process" and little more.)

  23. James Inhofe (OK) - Not up for re-election until 2012. However, on Sotomayor, says her story is inspiring, wants a closer look at her record.

  24. *Johnny Isaakson (GA) / HPR: 11 - Up for re-election, but hell, it's Georgia. Still, the state has the 11th largest Hispanic population in the U.S., and why make it an issue? Isaakson issued a guarded, content-free statement on the Sotomayor nom. His fellow Georgia Senator, Saxby "Trash the Veteran" Chambliss, has left the door open to voting for her, too.

  25. Mike Johanns (NE) - Also non-committal so far.

  26. John Kyl (AZ) - He voted no on Sotomayor in '98, because he said he couldn't be sure she wouldn't decide cases based on "preconceived ideas." Plus, every time I see him on television, he comes across as kind of a jerk (he's already floated the idea of mounting a filibuster against Sotomayor's nomination.) I'm putting him down as a "no."

  27. Richard Lugar (IN) - Another yes vote for Sotomayor back in '98, and someone who has been singled out as an ally by President Obama. It would be hard to imagine him voting down her nomination.

  28. Mel Martinez (FL) - Melly Mel is retiring from the Senate, but if he ever wants to show his face in this state again, he'll vote "aye."

  29. *John McCain (AZ) / HPR: 5 - Re-election try will give him new opportunities to suspend his campaign. Arizona has the fifth largest Hispanic population in the U.S., however, which may be why he was a bit cagey with Hannity on the subject of Sotomayor the other day. That said, he and John Kyl both voted against her nomination to the Court of Appeals in '98.)

  30. Mitch McConnell (KY) - He was a "no" vote in '98, and if he thinks as much of Judge Sotomayor as he does of U.S. auto workers, he's probably a "no" again this time.

  31. *Lisa Murkowski (AK) / HPR: 42 - Up for re-election after being appointed by her dad. She's a smart pol, though, and on Sotomayor, probably the most open minded of the GOP Senators, especially given the fact that there's not a significant Hispanic population in her state. She firmly opposes any attempt to filibuster the nomination.

  32. James Risch (ID) - Who is james Risch? No, sorry, he and Crapo say they'll think it over.

  33. Pat Roberts (KS) - Another "no" vote from '98. He's already on record saying he will do so again, and he's not scared of her, even if she IS Hispanic!!! Why wait for the hearings when you can decide on a talk radio show?

  34. Jeff Sessions (AL) - The top Republican on Judiciary will lead the opposition case against Sotomayor. He was tough on her during the confirmation hearings in '97, and voted against her elevation to the 2nd Circuit in '98. No reason to believe he won't repeat both this time. Hopefully our old Confederate friend will be able to resist calling her "girl."

  35. Richard Shelby (AL) - Up for re-election but considered safe. He voted no on Sotomayor in '98 but has been pretty non-committal so far this time. Let's hope he can restrain himself from demanding Sotomayor's birth certificate...

  36. Olympia Snowe (ME) - Voted "yes" in '98. Will probably vote as Collins does, and that's probably a yes.

  37. *John Thune (SD) / HPR: 47 - Up for re-election (he's the guy who beat Tom Daschle, and don't think Democrats don't want revenge...) He issued a boilerplate conservative statement about not legislating from the bench, but hasn't exactly said he'd oppose Sotomayor, either.

  38. *David Vitter (LA) / HPR: 33 - Up for re-election in 2010. His state ranks #33 in Hispanic population and he's running against a former porn star. Still, Mr. Magic Pants would be a prime Democratic target, if only the D's could find someone to run who isn't related to Mary Landrieu. On Sotomayor, our saucy friend praises the historic nomination, and says he looks forward to giving her a "thorough review." You know ... that wouldn't sound gross coming from was someone else...

  39. George Voinovich (OH) - Retiring after two terms. Non-committal, but so far not negative on Sotomayor.

  40. Roger Wicker (MS) - Just got elected last year after being appointed by Haley Barbour in 2007, so not up for re-election until 2014. Still, on Sotomayor, says "treat her fairly."
For more analysis on how the Senate GOPers might vote in a futile attempt to stop Sotomayor, click here and here.

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posted by JReid @ 12:46 PM  
Judge Sonia: She's no Clarence Thomas
Joe Conasan takes the lash to the Sotomayor opposition over at Salon, describing the right's unpleasant experience with choosing a Justice simply because of the color of his skin, rather than the content of his intellect:

... why do some of Sotomayor's nastiest adversaries imagine that the public will accept these false characterizations of her intelligence and credentials? Perhaps that instinct follows from the right's own sad experiences with Republican affirmative action -- most notably in the matter of Justice Thomas, who embodied all of the problems that conservatives perceived in the pursuit of ethnic diversity. When the wingnuts attack Sotomayor with inaccurate stereotypes, they're projecting onto her the shortcomings of their own beloved Clarence.

Eighteen years ago, the Senate confirmation of Thomas earned historic notoriety for its bizarre descent into conflicting recollections of sexual harassment and pornographic banter. But the lingering question about the man selected to replace the legendary Justice Thurgood Marshall was whether he fulfilled the White House description of him as "the most qualified [candidate] at this time." As Thomas confessed in his memoir a few years ago, "Even I had my doubts about so extravagant a claim."

So extravagant was Bush's assertion as to verge on comical. Far from being the "most qualified," Thomas was a nominee with no experience on the bench beyond the 18 months he had served on the U.S. District Court of Appeals. He had never written a significant legal brief or article. He had achieved no distinction in private practice or law enforcement. He had never even argued a case in federal court, let alone at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Conasan's damning conclusion about Thomas:

... Flash forward now to the discussions within the first Bush administration over how to replace Marshall, the liberal lion whose departure provided conservatives with a chance to spin the direction of the court. Every account of those deliberations indicates that Bush and his aides went through a list of potential African-American nominees to the high court -- and rejected politically moderate judges with better qualifications than Thomas, such as Amalya Kearse. They picked him because they had to fill a "black seat" on the court, and because he was prepared to enforce their ideology on the court -- a function he has reliably performed in lockstep with Justice Antonin Scalia.

In other words, Thomas was chosen from a Bush White House shortlist that excluded white males – supposedly a profound sin when committed by the Obama White House in selecting Sotomayor.

Yet the right can never bring its corrosive racial skepticism to bear on Thomas, a man who had proven his willingness to parrot reactionary bromides. He is the single most prominent beneficiary of the quest for diversity in American history, but he is their diversity candidate -- and thus deserved elevation, if not as a distinguished jurist, then because he had suffered discrimination as a conservative.

Meanwhile, Rich Lowry takes a shot at becoming the winger voice of reason:

My advice, which tracks with that of others today, is: 1) Don't call her names, and yes, "stupid" and "racist" are names; 2) Don't whine about the double standard when a) it's just a fact that a white male can't say the kind of things she did in her "Latina lecture" and survive (if you don't understand why, you haven't paid attention to American history) and b) liberal Democrats can get away with viciously opposing a Latino nominee like Miguel Estrada without paying a real political price because Latinos aren't primed to believe that liberal Democrats are hostile to them and their interests (plus, the public doesn't really pay attention to appeals-court nominees); 3) Do treat her personally with an extra measure of respect because old-fashioned people — and thank goodness, there are still a lot of them out there — will expect a woman to get more deference than a man.

Good luck with that, man. And his pal Mark "Change Her Name to Suddamyah" Krikorian (and how DO you pronounce "Krikorian" in American, anyway...? ... tries to become the winger
sidekick of reason:
I think Krauthammer's right in his column today: "Use the upcoming hearings not to deny her the seat, but to illuminate her views. . . . The argument should be elevated, respectful, and entirely about judicial philosophy." (My own observations about her name had nothing to do with her as such.) Gingrich, Limbaugh, and Tancredo crying "racist" isn't going to help at all. I know that's unfair, because any kind of Republican nominee, even a Hispanic woman judge, would already have been crucified based on the comments Judge Sotomayor has made, and any on the Left who deny that are simply lying. But that's the reality of the battlespace we're in.
Well what DID your name change thing have to do with, then, Krikorian? An inability to pronounce compound words??? Dude, your name is KRIKORIAN...!

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posted by JReid @ 12:15 PM  
Cutié vs. the Catholics: a tale of twho churches
Cutié and his girlfriend, Ruhama Buni Canellis, plan to marry.

Father Alberto Cutié has left the Catholic Church, and plans to marry, prompting a mini-cat fight between the Catholic and Episcopalian leaders in Miami. Per the Herald:
The Rev. Alberto Cutié, the celebrity priest photographed nuzzling a woman on a Florida beach, has left the Catholic Church to join the Episcopal Church and marry his girlfriend -- a move that attracted a strong rebuff from Roman Catholic leaders.

While the Catholic Church requires priests to hew to a vow of celibacy, the Episcopalians, who broke from Rome in the 16th century, have no such rules. Cutié was formally welcomed into the Episcopal Church in a small, private ceremony early Thursday afternoon at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, the church's South Florida headquarters in downtown Miami.

''I am continuing the call to spread God's love,'' Cutié said after the ceremony, adding that he has gone through a ``spiritual and deep ideological struggle.''

In attendance at Trinity was Cutié's girlfriend, Ruhama Buni Canellis, 35, a divorced mother living in Miami Beach. It was the first public sighting of the couple since compromising photos appeared in a Mexican magazine early this month that led the telegenic cleric to take leave from his South Beach parish.

Cutié sat smiling beside Canellis during the half-hour ceremony. Deacons and former Catholic priests now in the Episcopal Church were by his side -- many notably accompanied by their wives.

Bishop Leo Frade, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, officiated as Cutié and Canellis knelt in front of him to be received into the church.

The switch led to a sharp rebuke from the Catholic Archbishop of Miami, John Favolora. A rebuke of Frade...

At a news conference a few hours later, Archdiocese of Miami officials expressed disappointment in Cutié and had strong words for the Episcopal Church, especially Bishop Frade.

''This truly is a serious setback for ecumenical relations and cooperation between us,'' Archbishop John C. Favalora said.

Favalora said he had not communicated with Frade about the transition and had not spoken with Cutié since May 5, adding that Cutié never told the archbishop he desired marriage.

And then, it got personal:

''Father Cutié is removing himself from full communion with the Catholic Church and thereby forfeiting his rights as a cleric,'' Favalora said, later adding that Cutié is still ``still bound by his promise to live a celibate life, which he freely embraced at ordination. Only the Holy Father can release him from that obligation.''

Not so, Frade said Thursday afternoon. ''That promise is not recognized by our church. If you can find it in the Bible that priests should be celibate, that will be corrected,'' he said. ``The only thing we can say is that we pray for ecumenical relations. . . . I am sorry they are sorry, and we love them.''


Cutié, who gained media fame across the Spanish-speaking world doling out relationship advice on TV and radio and in print, had telegraphed his intentions for weeks in interviews, during which he spoke about his wish to marry and start a family.

And he'll bring that celebrity status to the relatively small, but obviously savvy, Episcopal Church, while the Catholics will continue to be mad, and to struggle. In the same Herald issue today, there's this:

South Florida Catholics may learn of struggling churches' fates Sunday, when pastors are expected to announce the closure of 14 churches in the Archdiocese of Miami.

Not saying the two are related, but I'm guessing that Father Cutié won't necessarily be leaving the Mother Church alone. Most Miami Catholics believe it's time to retire the celibacy vow, and I'd guess most Catholics everywhere wouldn't object to priests enjoying healthy marriages, as opposed to unhealthy sexual activity on the down low. Episcopalians have their own struggles (my Godmother's church in New York? Don't even get me started...) not least of which is the struggle between their conservative and liberal members. But here, it's hard to argue that the more liberal church didn't win this one hands down.

More Cutié stories on ReidBlog.

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posted by JReid @ 11:31 AM  
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Father Cutié quits the Catholics, will marry his girl
Drop that collar! Cutié is changing religions.

Rick Sanchez just broke the story about his pal on CNN. The lovey-dovey priest is now an Episcopalian, and he will marry his SoBe sweetheart. Score one for the religion that doesn't force men to do the impossible.
... Bishop Leo Frade of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida announced in a news conference on Thursday.

Frade also said that he welcomed Cutié and his fiancée Ruhama Canellis into the church. Canellis stood at Cutié's side when the announcement was made.

"I want to continue sharing the word of God," Cutié said in Spanish. "I've seen how many married men serve God. Those who know me know that I would be unable to hurt anyone especially my family and the faithful community. My personal struggle should not interfere with the work of other priests. Today, I have officially joined a new spiritual family. I ask that everyone respect my privacy. In the last few days, there have been rumors and respectfully, I ask you to stop. That's enough. May God bless you all."
It will take about a year for Cutié to complete the process of becoming and Episcopal priest. And now for something that will probably have to change:
He will deliver his first sermon as a deacon for the Episcopalian church on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Church of the Resurrection at 11173 Griffing Blvd. in Biscayne Park. The church seats 250 people, and church officials said on Thursday that they don't have any plans to add any additional seating
Something tells me they're gonna need more seats...

BTW how long before Ruhama Canellis becomes the most hated woman in Catholicdom?

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posted by JReid @ 3:12 PM  
Tony Scalia: the courts ARE where the law is made...
An Uh-oh from the Huffpo...
... das it turns out, Sotomayor needn't worry about talking about how policy is made at the appeals level on videotape. Why, some justices on the Supreme Court have said the same thing and baked it into their judicial decisions. Like, say, noted leftist jurist Antonin Scalia, who, in the majority opinion of 2002 case Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, wrote:
This complete separation of the judiciary from the enterprise of "representative government" might have some truth in those countries where judges neither make law themselves nor set aside the laws enacted by the legislature. It is not a true picture of the American system. Not only do state-court judges possess the power to "make" common law, but they have the immense power to shape the States' constitutions as well. See, e.g., Baker v. State, 170 Vt. 194, 744 A. 2d 864 (1999). Which is precisely why the election of state judges became popular.

In footnote 12, Scalia elaborated (emphasis added):

Although Justice [John Paul] Stevens at times appears to agree with Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg's premise that the judiciary is completely separated from the enterprise of representative government, post, at 3 ("[E]very good judge is fully aware of the distinction between the law and a personal point of view"), he eventually appears to concede that the separation does not hold true for many judges who sit on courts of last resort, post, at 3 ("If he is not a judge on the highest court in the State, he has an obligation to follow the precedent of that court, not his personal views or public opinion polls"); post, at 3, n. 2. Even if the policy making capacity of judges were limited to courts of last resort, that would only prove that the announce clause fails strict scrutiny. "[I]f announcing one's views in the context of a campaign for the State Supreme Court might be" protected speech, post, at 3, n. 2, then-even if announcing one's views in the context of a campaign for a lower court were not protected speech, ibid.-the announce clause would not be narrowly tailored, since it applies to high- and low-court candidates alike. In fact, however, the judges of inferior courts often "make law," since the precedent of the highest court does not cover every situation, and not every case is reviewed. Justice Stevens has repeatedly expressed the view that a settled course of lower court opinions binds the highest court. See, e.g., Reves v. Ernst & Young, 494 U.S. 56, 74 (1990) (concurring opinion); McNally v. United States, 483 U.S. 350, 376--377 (1987) (dissenting opinion).

This all comes courtesy of HuffPost reader Doug Schafer, who is of the opinion that journalists ought to avail themselves of this citation from Scalia whenever the "judges don't make law" canard arises. I agree!

Next, we'll find out Scalia's decision-making is influenced by his Italian heritage ... like Sam Alito...

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posted by JReid @ 2:41 PM  
CNN 'shook' by Olbermann: reading full Sotomayor statement now
Keith Olbermann stung CNN last night for parroting, out of context, the right wing's out of context lies about Judge Sotomayor for her statement during a speech that she would hope that, in a given situation:
"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
CNN anchor Don Lemon is reading the full text of Sotomayor's speech now. In context, the relevant passage, which was part of a talk on the importance of having more ethnic diversity on the bench, reads this way:
In our private conversations, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination cases have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant but I also choose to emphasize that the people who argued those cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape ultimately were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Connie Baker Motley, the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, and others of the NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the Court that equality of work required equality in terms and conditions of employment.

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.

Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.

However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.
In other words, she wasn't saying that a Latina judge would reach better conclusions generally, in all things, but that in matters where race and gender are material to the case, she would hope that a woman judge of color would bring life experiences to the table that would enable her to make a more "wise" decision than her colleague who "hadn't lived that life." There is nothing even remotely controversial about that. I would think that a white male former firefighter who became a judge would bring a different sensibility and understanding to the Ricci case, enabling that judge to inform his colleagues who had never run into a burning building.

Greg Sargent at The Plumline, Glenn Greenwald and others have well documented the right's demented attacks on Sotomayor, including the new trope, that she's Che Guevara in a judge's robe (or more pruriently online, the "La Raza" judge.) And they've documented the dishonesty of neocon faux liberals like Jeffrey Rosen at The New Republic, for spreading baseless gossip in order to get the right wing fires going.

Meanwhile, the Tapped blog at the American Prospect says it about as well as can be said, in answering the "affirmative action" smears against Judge Sonia, which are a think veneer over what has become a rather embarassing fit of white male self-victimization:

In short, everyone agrees that Sotomayor is an idiot, based on an anonymous quote solicited by Rosen, who admits that he hasn't "read enough of Sonia Sotomayor’s opinions to have a confident sense of them," and that he hasn't "talked to enough of Sonia Sotomayor’s detractors and supporters to get a fully balanced picture of her strengths."

This is exactly what affirmative action is meant to correct: People coming to the arbitrary conclusion that someone is "an idiot" despite all evidence to the contrary, except if you consider not being a white man evidence. Sotomayor's detractors see themselves as Frank Riccis, white men whose greatness isn't recognized because we're too busy giving brown people who can't tie their shoes certificates of achievement. But the truth is that in life and in employment, discrimination rarely manifests itself the way it did against Ricci, as something as easy to quantify as an unfair test. It's far more insidious -- a rumor, a feeling, a notion that the person standing in front of you who doesn't look like you is just "dumb and obnoxious." So you throw their resume in the "no" pile because you don't like their name, you seat them in the back of the class, you promote another person. You just can't really explain why. It's... just a feeling.

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posted by JReid @ 1:04 PM  
In case you missed it: Bill Clinton rolls somewhat merrily along
The New York Times Magazine's Peter Baker takes a fascinating, in-depth look at the post-presidential life of Bill Clinton.

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posted by JReid @ 1:57 AM  
Wait for it: the media take-down of Susan Boyle
It has already started, with the Rupert Murdoch tabloid The Sun calling her out for apparent public tirades under the header "Subo goes loco." It simply won't do for this poor woman to sail gently into fame and fortune. She'll have to be taken down a few pegs first. From the Sun:

There were fears last night that the pressure was getting to the show favourite.

Cops intervened at 5pm yesterday after Susan, 48, went berserk in the lobby of the Wembley Plaza Hotel in North London when two strangers set out to "wind her up".

The Scottish singer was heard to roar: "How f***ing dare you! You can't f***ing talk to me like that."

One of two cops stationed at the hotel went up and asked: "Is there a problem?"

Susan, dubbed SuBo, roared: "Of course there's a f***ing problem."

Tears flowing, she turned on her heel and marched out the exit followed by her family, production staff and the cops.

The Sun story doesn't mention what was done to "SuBo" to set her off, but then again, it is a Murdoch tabbie.

And then, there is that adorable 12-year-old boy, Shaheen Jafargholi, who's got cute on Susan, and pipes, too. How long before the Murdocharazzi nab him, too...? (BTW, get a load of what they're competing against.)

Meanwhile, earlier this month, the Daily Mirror got hold of some video of a young, attractive Susan Boyle singing at a local competition back in the day ... the day being 1985:

According to the Mirror:

The tape was unearthed by Gerry McGuinness, 61, who was in the audience that night at Motherwell FC’s social club.

He recalled: “She was so shy but she was also very attractive back then – she turned a few heads when she came in. She didn’t win the contest, though.”

Check out the video here.

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posted by JReid @ 12:39 AM  
Obama's Cuban-American Vatican rep: a small thing, but maybe an important one
Tucked into the Huffpo story today about President Obama's new ambassador hires is this one:

The White House also announced it plans to nominate Miguel H. Diaz, an associate professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minn., for the top job at the Vatican.

A Roman Catholic theologian, the Cuban-American advised Barack Obama's presidential campaign. He also was among 26 Catholics who signed a statement supporting the nomination of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic whose support for abortion rights was criticized by conservative Catholics.

Obama built up a small but solid base of Cuban-American support in Florida last year by announcing he'd ease travel restrictions to Havana, which helped him win this state; and the latest Bendixen poll suggests he enjoys a 67 percent approval rating among Cuban-Americans. Don't think the SoFla community won't notice that a Cuban-American has been picked to represent the U.S. in Rome.

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posted by JReid @ 12:14 AM  
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
War Heroes 3 4, Draft Dodgers 0
It's been a tough competition, but so far, the Draft Dodgers are batting 0 for 3.

First, Boss Limbaugh, he of the butt boil that enabled him to get out of Vietnam service, tried to ice four-star Gen. Gollin Powell, accusing him of only supporting Barack Obama because both are black, and then snidely passing a phony baton of Republican leadership over to him. Powell's answer was to smack Limbaugh down, hard, while also taking a swipe at Republicans who insist on "laying prostrate on the floor" when Limbaugh snarls in their general direction. Point: War Heroes.

Next, Powell was attacked by Draft Dodgin' Dick Cheney, the benighted one, who got out of his Vietnam service by makin' babies! Cheney attempted to usher Powell out of the GOP, for the above-mentioned offense of supporting Barack Obama. And he sided with his teammate, Rush, over Powell (if he had to choose.) Well, Powell hit back at him, too, and now, it looks like Dick has decided to walk it back:
In an interview with CNBC's Larry Kudlow, Cheney said Powell is welcome back into the party and that Republicans would be "happy to have him."
KUDLOW: ... You kind of took a shot at General Colin Powell the other day, said you didn't know he was still a member of the Republican Party. He responded to you by saying that you were mistaken. He is a member of the Republican Party, and he regards himself a, quote, "Jack Kemp Republican," end quote. Could you react to what Mr. Powell is saying?

Mr. CHENEY: Well, we're happy to have General Powell in the Republican Party. I was asked a question about a dispute he was having, I think, with Rush Limbaugh, and I expressed the consent, the notion I had that he had already left since he endorsed Barack Obama for president. But I meant no offense to my former colleague. I wasn't seeking to rearrange his political identity.

KUDLOW: So you welcome him back into the party.

Mr. CHENEY: We're in the mode where we welcome everybody to the party. What I don't want to do, in the course of trying to expand the overall size of the Republican Party and expand our base, is to take away from basic fundamental principles. I think it's very important that we remind people out around the country what it is that we stand for, that we do believe in a strong national defense, in low taxes and limited government; and giving up on those principles, in order to try to appeal to people who are otherwise going to vote Democratic, seems to me is a--would be a fundamental defeat for those of us who are essentially conservative, who've been long-time supporters of the Republican Party.

If of course, by limited government you mean an extensive domestic surveillance network, sneak and peak searches, opening of all mail and email, tapping everyone's phone and secretly detaining American citizens ... (ahem) ... Point: War heroes.
Now, the third blow. Gen. David Petraeus, who enjoys near Jack Bauer levels of worship from the right, has sided with none other than President Barack Obama (plus Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mullen and SecDef Bob Gates and many, many other military men) on the subjects of ending the Cheney torture program and closing Gitmo:

Petraeus was asked if the recent moves by Obama help or hurt the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan. He replied, “I think, on balance, that those moves help it. In fact, I have long been on record as having testified and also in helping write doctrine for interrogation techniques that are completely in line with the Geneva Convention. And as a division commander in Iraq in the early days, we put out guidance very early on to make sure that our soldiers, in fact, knew that we needed to stay within those guidelines.”

On the issue of Gitmo, he said, “With respect to Guantanamo, I think that the closure in a responsible manner, obviously one that is certainly being worked out now by the Department of Justice -- I talked to the attorney general the other day [and] they have a very intensive effort ongoing to determine, indeed, what to do with the detainees who are left, how to deal with them in a legal way, and if continued incarceration is necessary -- again, how to take that forward. But doing that in a responsible manner, I think, sends an important message to the world, as does the commitment of the United States to observe the Geneva Convention when it comes to the treatment of detainees.”

Can a vicious Limbaugh attack on Petraeus as a "phony soldier" be far behind? I think Petraeus can take him. Point: War Heroes.

UPDATE: Score another one for the war heroes. Barack Obama's national security adviser, a retired Marine general, smacks Cheney too:

President Barack Obama's national security adviser laid out a sweeping rebuttal Wednesday to former Vice President Dick Cheney's charge that America is less safe under the new administration.

Pointing to increases in defense spending, efforts to get out of Iraq and revamp the strategy for Afghanistan, and a broad campaign to repair the U.S. reputation abroad, retired Marine Gen. James Jones said the nation is safer today than it has been. But, he added, no administration is perfect.

"I think that the former vice president knows full well that perfection is an impossible standard," said Jones, adding that the U.S. can only do everything it can "to keep threats at bay and as far away from our shores as possible."

The score is now 4-0.

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posted by JReid @ 11:26 PM  
Looks like Sestak's in
And good for him. Now if we can just find someone to "primary" Ben Nelson in 2012 ...

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posted by JReid @ 11:04 PM  
Alito, Thomas and the dreaded flashback
The right ought to be careful which ethnic Supreme Court nominees it skewers. There will always be others, like Sam Alito, whose ethnic peculiarities it once loved. Not to mention Clarence Thomas, who should be the two word answer to anyone cynical enough to question Sonia Sotomayor's qualifications to sit on the Supreme Court. Thomas was as unqualified as Sotomayor is overqualified (Alan Dershowitz once called him "the most incompetent, unqualified justice who ever served in [my] lifetime..." adding: "He doesn't read newspapers. He gets his news from Rush Limbaugh..."); as intellectually shallow as she is second in her class at Princeton sharp, and as whiney and self indulgent a "token" hire as you're ever going to get. And yet, Black winger Thomas Sowell was once moved to say this about him:
His outstanding academic record in college, his graduation from one of the top law schools in the country, his experience as an attorney both in government and in the corporate world, his years of heading a federal agency, and his service as a judge on the most influential federal circuit court in the country count for nothing, as far as the left is concerned.

Many, if not most, Supreme Court justices have not had as good a record of qualifications. But Clarence Thomas is considered “unqualified” because the Left cannot accept his qualifications without a major shock to their whole vision of the world — and of themselves.
Substitute "her" for "him" and "right" for "left" in the above passage, and Sowell could be Glenn Greenwald writing about Sonia Sotomayor. Go figure. And former president Poppy Bush once expounded on another characteristic of Clarence's that we now know to be subversive: namely, empathy...
"I have followed this man's career for some time," said President George H.W. Bush of Clarence Thomas in July 1991. "He is a delightful and warm, intelligent person who has great empathy and a wonderful sense of humor."
And he'd keep on showing that empathy, if only Nino Scalia would let him talk...

My vote is: let's have the Senate quickly seat Sonia Sotomayor on the Court, and then President Obama can get to work finding a Black justice to further diversify the court... (ahem)

Meanwhile, TPM D.C. finds that Clarence Thomas was once "empathetic" too...

And look who's attacking Judge Sotomayor now: none other than future war crimes defendant John Yoo! His worry ... and this is rich ... she'll be too "results-oriented." Oh, you mean like this results oriented Supreme Court ruling? ... or those "results oriented" torture memos, eh Mr. War Criminal?

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posted by JReid @ 10:18 PM  
Oh, for Chrissakes, let it GO, Idol watchers!
Now that they've busted AT&T employees for helping the wholesome guy beat the gay guy on America's most wholesome freaking show, can we please, PLEASE, get on with our lives? I'm quite sure both Chris and Adam are...

UPDATE: Adam says, let it go, people. And ABC runs down the top 10 post-Idol earners. Missing from the list: the "velvet teadybear" Ruben Studdard, who won Season 2 back in 2003 and hasn't been heard from much since (he's touring in the musical "Ain't Misbeheavin'" with some fellow Idol alums,) and Season 3 winner Fantasia Barrino, who apparently has a new reality show coming up on VH1. And of course you can't miss the various AI alum who work the TV Guide channel...


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posted by JReid @ 6:01 PM  
It's official: Sonia Sotomayor has driven the wingers insane
Aye, dios mio! Could this be the most dangerous meal in America?

It hasn't even been 24 hours, and Republicans have already begun hurling themselves off the crazy cliff over Sonia Sotomayor...

They're calling her a brown lady racist...

They're deploying Tweety Gingrich...

And generally losing their (less intellectually capable, yet) natural winger minds!

UPDATE: Tom Tancredo thinks Miami is a third world country because we have too many Hispanics living here ... AND Sonia Sotomayor "appears to be a racist." Boom, goes the dynamite!

UPDATE 2: Karl Rove re-ignites the Permanent Republican Majority by calling Judge Sotomayor a "schoolmarm!" That'll really attract the ladies to the GOP!

Pat Buchanan pours some out for his white, male homies...

More GOP crazy: Mark Kirkorian of the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies says the way to Stop.That.Judge is to mispronounce her name ... on purpose!!! You know, just the way we won the Iraq war by calling that country "Eye-RAAAK" instead of "Ih-Rahk," the way the Eye-RAAAK-ees do.

Yeah. That'll teach her to be so damned ... Hispanic!

UPDATE: We can now look forward to the strongest, most decisive argument sure to be leveled against Sotomayor at her confirmation hearings: the "patitas de cerdo con garbanzo" (y much arroz) challenge:
Sotomayor also claimed: “For me, a very special part of my being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir — rice, beans and pork — that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events.”

This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo — pigs’ feet with chickpeas — would somehow, in some small way influence her verdicts from the bench.
Thank you. Thank you, GOP.


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posted by JReid @ 5:51 PM  
Oh here we go ...
Republicans have already begun hurling themselves off that cliff ... BTW why is it that so many white winger men seem to get so much enjoyment out of calling people racist? It's almost as if calling non-white people racist, as the wingers are now gleefully doing with Judge Sotomayor, is the pretty colored drink in the fancy bottles in mom and dad's cabinet, that they're just dying to open, taste, and refill with water so mom and dad don't find out... A sample:

Ooooohh... The brown lady's racist... (eyes rolling) Really? Really guys? I mean Rush Limbaugh is the guy who launched "Barack the Magic Negro" and once told a Black caller to "take the bone out of her nose" and call him back. Glenn Beck, Mr. "I'm afraid to have black friends," who I once heard on his show say that he'd be upset if his daughter brought home a black man, is calling OTHER PEOPLE racist? Interesting... Me thinks the wingers doth protest too much...

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posted by JReid @ 3:21 PM  
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The limits of Powell's rethinking
Colin Powell is probably the most articulate current voice of the small, sane wing of the Republican Party. And he has successfully put distance between himself and the Bush administration in terms of the public's esteem, even managing to maintain the respect of those of us who deeply disagreed with him on Iraq. But there are some things he just can't seem to do. Involving himself in the question of torture for war is apparently one of them. From journalist Sam Husseini:

Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, recently wrote:

“What I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002 — well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion — its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa’ida.

But Powell isn't ready to go there:

Sam Husseini: General, can you talk about the al-Libi case and the link between torture and the production of tortured evidence for war?

Colin Powell: I don’t have any details on the al-Libi case.

SH: Can you tell us when you learned that some of the evidence that you used in front of the UN was based on torture? When did you learn that?

CP: I don’t know that. I don’t know what information you’re referring to. So I can’t answer.

SH: Your chief of staff, Wilkerson, has written about this.

CP: So what? [inaudible]

SH: So you’d think you’d know about it.

CP: The information I presented to the UN was vetted by the CIA. Every word came from the CIA and they stood behind all that information. I don’t know that any of them believe that torture was involved. I don’t know that in fact. A lot of speculation, particularly by people who never attended any of these meetings, but I’m not aware of it.

Powell seems to be somehow at odds with himself over his involvement in the former administration's policies: sorry he made the case for war at the U.N. without better facts, but somewhat defensive on the idea that he tried to make sure the facts were good before he made it. Perhaps the old soldier in him just can't go where Wilkerson is able to. Maybe he really does believe that the Iraq war was the right thing to do. Or maybe he's learning, along with the rest of us, the lengths his former colleague Dick Cheney and his band of neocons were willing to go to (including expending Powell's reputation for their cause) in order to have their war. Either that, or he's in deep denial.


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posted by JReid @ 11:03 AM  
At last, RedState finds something about Obama to love
Spoiler alert: it involves the Confederacy.

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posted by JReid @ 10:39 AM  
The GOP needs a conservative Hispanic: STAT
He's young, he's handsome, and by God, he's Hispanic! And so, the righties, tired of being branded a bunch of old white guys, have latched on to Marco Rubio, who has officially replaced Jeb Bush's son George P. as The Future of the Republican Party:
Suddenly, to the conservative hardcore, the instant endorsements that Crist received from ranking Senate Republicans after his announcement earlier this month is outrageous not just because it suggests a willingness to bend party orthodoxy but because in doing so, the party kneecaps a young, dashing, eloquent personality with potential to add star power -- a quantity it needs desperately as younger demographics slip from its reach.

In a column in Human Events, a website for the "conservative underground," John Gizzi describes how Sen. John Cornyn, chair of the National Senatorial Campaign Committee, attended a luncheon last week "in which many national conservatives voiced anger over the NRSC's blessing of moderate Gov. Charlie Crist for the Senate in Florida." Gizzi himself put Cornyn on the defensive: "I asked Cornyn why his committee would make a move like that when Crist had a primary race against conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio."
And the right wing's Rubio embrace has apparently shaken Mr. Cornyn:
One of the most powerful GOP members on Capitol Hill, Cornyn has apparently been so unnerved by the backlash that followed his committee's endorsement of Crist that he has refused to answer more questions about it, especially as bloggers call for his resignation or at least for his withdrawal of that endorsement.
Meanwhile, RedState and other winger groups are raising cash for Rubio.

Double meanwhile, George P. fights back, not content to let Marco take his spot. He's also ripping Miss Charlie and dropping major hints that he wants to be Marco Rubio, too:
I want to obtain success in my own right. I want people to look at a record of accomplishment that I’ve put together in my own right and not based on family name,” Bush said. “I haven’t achieved my personal goals. Definitely down the road I’d love to reassess but as of right now it’s not for me.”
The plot thickens...

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posted by JReid @ 10:30 AM  
Republicans would be crazy to attack Judge Sotomayor ... but they'll probably do it anyway
Would the Republican Party, already shrinking away to nothingness under the weight of a demographic tsunami, dare to oppose what would be the first Hispanic and only the third woman to serve on the Supreme Court? Would they risk alienating the multiple interest groups who will be galvanized by the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, including not only Latinos and women, but also Catholics (not to mention New Yorkers and Yankees fans...?) The short answer is no, they wouldn't, unless of course they are collectively insane. And yet, the arguments against Judge Sonia Sotomayor are already gathering, and none of them is helpful ... to the GOPI:

1. She's "temperamental." Not that anyone knows what that means, but Media Matters caught the neocons at TNR attacking Sotomayor without even pretending to do anything more journalistically rigorous than quoting random people who clearly aren't fond of her. Unfortunately for the right, attacking Judge Sotomayor's "temperament" will ring awfully familiar, and not in a good way, in the ears of women, who are used to hearing their strength conviction read by some old school dudes as a tendancy toward tantrums.

2. She doesn't like white people. Righties have already begun dissecting Sotomayor's membership in Hispanic organizations at Princeton and her general empathy for fellow Latinos as somehow disqualifying. John Perazzo wrote ominously in Front Page Magazine about one of those membership organizations:
The other group to which Sotomayor belonged, Princeton’s Third World Center (TWC), was established in 1971 “to provide a social, cultural and political environment that reflects the needs and concerns of students of color at the University.” A 1978 Princeton publication explained that the TWC had arisen chiefly to address the fact that “the University’s cultural and social organizations have largely been shaped by students from families nurtured in the Anglo-American and European traditions,” and that consequently “it has not always been easy for students from different backgrounds to enter the mainstream of campus life.”
Oooh ... sounds subversive ... The other knock on Sotomayor in the race case is the case of Ricci v. DeStefano, the now infamous New Haven firefighter case that raises the specter of affirmative action, "reverse discrimination," and more bluntly, black guys taking white guys' job opportunities away (or in this case, the government doing it.) Sotomayor, who ruled against the white firefighters who filed a discrimination suit after a test they passed was thrown out because from the City of New Haven's perspective, not enough minorities passed, was featured in a Willie Horton style web ad claiming she "didn't give a fair shake to firefighters not promoted on the basis of race." Personally, I think that the city of New Haven was wrong to throw out that test because they didn't like the demographics of the passing scores. But going after Sotomayor on the basis of this racially charged case will only make Republicans look hostile in the eyes of Black and Brown people, something they need no more of at this stage.

3. She's a token. Apparently, Justice Antonin Scalia has been heard to opine that “the next nominee to the Court will be a female Protestant Hispanic”. Funny stuff, Nino. And expect more wingers to complain that Sotomayor is not a white guy, and was selected by the other non-white guy wingers loathe (Barack Obama) on that basis. But again, conservatives do themselves no favors by attacking the fastest growing ethnic and voter group in the nation, in order to placate the dwindling number of Angry White Men, all of whom already vote Republican.

4. She's an "activist judge," (which is code for, she's a liberal.) For this one, the righties say they have videotaped evidence, namely a talk Sotomayor gave at Duke University in which she dared to say this:
“All of the Legal Defense Funds out there — they’re looking for people with Court of Appeals experience. Because it is — Court of Appeals is where policy is made. And I know, and I know, that this is on tape, and I should never say that. Because we don’t “make law,” I know. [audience laughter] Okay, I know. I know. I’m not promoting it, and I’m not advocating it. I’m, you know. [audience laughter]”
To this I'd have to say, so what? The judge properly asserted that the courts don't make law. But she was guilty of a bit of "truthiness," in that in many ways, our courts do set policy. From Brown v. Board, which undid racial separation in schools, to Roe v. Wade, which clearly altered national policy on abortion. Like it or not, courts, by interpreting the laws made by legislators, do in effect, make policy. Today, for instance, the California Supreme Court will decide if voters in that state had the right to decide that state's marriage laws. As inartful as Sotomayor's statement about the power of our court system was, it was in essence, true, and hardly disqualifying. Besides, since the right has already charicterized Barack Obama as a Marxist, I'm not sure there's room to place Sotomayor much to his left.

Most importantly, Judge Sotomayor is bringing a heavyweight resume to the table: 17 years on the federal bench, educated at Princeton and Yale, editor of the Yale Law Review (President Harvard Law Review had to love that), not to mention her incredible life story, rising from the projects in the South Bronx to potentially, the highest court in the land. Given her qualifications, and her back story, the right bears a hell of a lot at risk in potentially attacking this nominee. Whether they do it anyway will tell you a lot about the mental state of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

Meanwhile, the GOP has tried to stop Sotomayor's ascent before, namely, back in 1998:
Senate Republican staff aides said Trent Lott of Mississippi, the majority leader, has agreed to hold up a vote on the nomination as part of an elaborate political calculus; if she were easily confirmed to the appeals court, they said, that would put her in a position to be named to the Supreme Court. And Senate Republicans think that they would then have a difficult time opposing a Hispanic woman who had just been confirmed by the full Senate.

''Basically, we think that putting her on the appeals court puts her in the batter's box to be nominated to the Supreme Court,'' said one senior Republican staff aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity. ''If Clinton nominated her it would put several of our senators in a real difficult position.''
At that time, Pat Leahy described Republican opposition to her this way:
'Their reasons are stupid at best and cowardly at worst,'' he said.

''What they are saying is that they have a brilliant judge who also happens to be a woman and Hispanic, and they haven't the guts to stand up and argue publicly against her on the floor,'' Senator Leahy said. ''They just want to hide in their cloakrooms and do her in quietly.''
Let's see who's hiding in the cloakrooms this time.

Cross-posted at Open Salon.

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posted by JReid @ 9:07 AM  
Sotomayor is the SUPCO pick
No surprises from No Drama Obama. Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who hails from the Bronx, and whose educational credentials include Princeton and Yale, will be his SupCo pick. Latino vote in 2012: check. Women? Check. Catholics? Check. Good pick? Definitely. Judge Sotomayor is more than qualified, and she is an historic nominee with a down to earth background. Per the ABA journal:

A political centrist, the Bronx-born Sotomayor has been re­garded as a potential high court nominee by several presidents, both Republican and Democrat. Reared by her widowed mother after the death of her father, a tool-and-die worker, she has an attractive life narrative and an even more attractive resumé.

She was an editor of the Yale Law Review, did heavy lifting as a prosecutor under legendary New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, and worked in private practice as an intellectual property litigator.

She was first appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush, then to the appeals court by President Clinton. In 1995, she won the gratitude of baseball fans by issuing an injunction against team owners, setting the stage for the end of the eight-month strike that led to the cancellation of the 1994 World Series.

Interestingly enough, all of the final four on the short list were women, according to the NY Times:

If confirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, Judge Sotomayor, 54, would replace Justice David H. Souter to become the second woman on the court and only the third female justice in the history of the Supreme Court. She also would be the first Hispanic justice to serve on the Supreme Court.

The president reached his decision over the long Memorial Day weekend, aides said, but it was not disclosed until Tuesday morning when he informed his advisers of his choice less than three hours before the announcement was scheduled to take place.

The president narrowed his list to four, according to people close to the selection process, including Federal Appeals Judge Diane P. Wood of Chicago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Solicitor General Elena Kagan.
BTW, did you notice how quickly Joe Scarborough warmed up to Judge Sotomayor when he was reminded, I suppose by his producers, that she was originally put on the federal bench by Poppy Bush?

More on the judge:

A Puerto Rican woman with 16 years of court experience who currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, Sotomayor is a graduate of Yale Law and an editor of the Yale Law Review. She shares a biographical footnote with Souter: they both were appointed by George H. W. Bush -- Sotomayor to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1992. Sotomayor was elevated to the appeals court by President Clinton.

Sotomayor spent five years as a prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney before going into private practice as a commercial litigator. During that time she also served on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the New York City Campaign Finance Board, and State of New York Mortgage Agency, where she helped provide mortgage insurance coverage to low-income housing and AIDS hospices.

She left for the U.S. District Court in 1992. At the time, Sotomayor told the New York Times that she was inspired to become a judge by an episode of "Perry Mason."

BTW, how wrong could Ben Smith possibly be? He has obliterated the post as of today, but not long ago, Hispanic Business Magazine busted him writing this:

"There's some basically vacuous, but plausible, conventional wisdom saying that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a likely pick," he wrote. "I'd suspect, though, that Obama will be tempted to pick one of the prominent legal minds whom he knows personally, and whose philosophy he likes, given his own engagement with legal theory."

Oops! Meanwhile, Media Matters has cataloged the right's prefab attacks on her.

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posted by JReid @ 8:46 AM  
Monday, May 25, 2009
On Memorial Day: Honoring the dead
Burying the dead at Arlington Cemetery

No matter what a clever ad campaign tells you, today is not just a day for partying and shopping. To date, the U.S. has lost 4,300 troops in Iraq, and 687 in Afghanistan. More than 30,000 have been wounded in both wars. The distribution of U.S. casualties by state can be found here.

U.S. casualties in all of this country's wars can be found here. The remarkable difference is that modern medicine has made many once unsurvivable wounds survivable. But that means that we have an even greater responsibility to care for those who return to us alive. So on this Memorial Day, God bless the dead, and the living, who have done what the rest of us wouldn't have the courage to do.

To see President Obama's ceremony honoring the troops on Memorial Day, go here.

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posted by JReid @ 1:50 PM  
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Colin Powell: last man standing
Generalissimo Rush Limbaugh is right. Colin Powell should be the new head of the Republican Party, if for no other reason than the fact that he's just about the only Republican left who's man enough to stand up to Rush Limbaugh. Here's the "Face the Nation" interview in full.

Part one:

Part two:

By the way, isn't it ironic that the GOP's so-called "moderates" are reasonable, intelligent men, who also have served their country in war (both Powell and Tom Ridge served in Vietnam) while their haters, namely Cheney and Limbaugh, were among the quizzling cowards who ducked the draft when it was their time to serve? Coincidence?

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posted by JReid @ 7:06 PM  
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Queen wants Lambert (I told you so)
No, I really did tell you Adam Lambert could be the new Freddie Mercury. (BTW it's raining in Miami on the Saturday before Memorial Day, which is why I'm here fooling around instead of at the beach. We head to the movies in 15 minutes... Just saying I'm not THAT big a blog nerd...)


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posted by JReid @ 5:44 PM  
Mancow takes his waterboarding like a man, and concludes it IS torture
Are you listening, Miss Hannity?

Of course, if he were really being waterboarded, Mancow wouldn't have been given so many calm instructions or opportunities to stop the torture. It would have been considerably more unpleasant, and accompanied by serial sleep deprivation, beatings, constant terror of being taken from your cell over and over again, and more torture. Still, Mancow gets major props for stepping up to the plate, unlike Lady Sean, he went through with it. And Keith will give the $10,000 to charity on his behalf. He'll now have to endure the hatred of his fellow wingers (scroll down), and will probably be kicked out of the Republican Party by El Rushbo (who like the other soon-to-be winger Mancow haters, wouldn't have even lasted 6 seconds,) but at least there's one honest winger in talk radio today.

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posted by JReid @ 3:01 PM  
Bloody hilarious! Adam Lambert duets with Susan Boyle
It's a bird ... it's a plain (lady) ... it's Super News! Enjoy...

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posted by JReid @ 2:51 PM  
Okay, so who was the RNC genius who came up with this one:
She’s the 69-year-old speaker of the House of Representatives
, second in the line of succession and the most powerful woman in U.S. history. But when you see Nancy Pelosi, the Republican National Committee wants you to think “Pussy Galore.”

At least that’s the takeaway from a video released by the committee this week – a video that puts Pelosi side-by-side with the aforementioned villainess from the 1964 James Bond film “Goldfinger.” The RNC video, which begins with the speaker’s head in the iconic spy-series gun sight, implies that Pelosi has used her feminine wiles to dodge the truth about whether or not she was briefed by the CIA on the use of waterboarding in 2002. While the P-word is never mentioned directly, in one section the speaker appears in a split screen alongside the Bond nemesis – and the video’s tagline is “Democrats Galore.”

The wisdom of equating the first woman speaker of the House with a character whose first name also happens to be among the most vulgar terms for a part of the female anatomy might be debated – if the RNC were willing to do so, which it was not. An RNC spokesperson refused repeated requests by POLITICO to explain the point of the video, or the intended connection between Pelosi and Galore.

Supah ... genius... here's the video:

So far, the hit count is pretty low, but I'm sure the POlitico story will help Mike Steele and his merry band of fools out.

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posted by JReid @ 12:24 PM  
Friday, May 22, 2009
John Landay's Cheney smackdown. Look for the media to ignore it.
McClatchy News' national security reporter Jonathan Landay breaks down the Dick Cheney torture jeremiad, and finds it wanting...
Former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense Thursday of the Bush administration's policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements.

In his address to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy organization in Washington, Cheney said that the techniques the Bush administration approved, including waterboarding — simulated drowning that's considered a form of torture — forced nakedness and sleep deprivation, were "legal" and produced information that "prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people."

He quoted the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, as saying that the information gave U.S. officials a "deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country."

In a statement April 21, however, Blair said the information "was valuable in some instances" but that "there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

A top-secret 2004 CIA inspector general's investigation found no conclusive proof that information gained from aggressive interrogations helped thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to one of four top-secret Bush-era memos that the Justice Department released last month.

FBI Director Robert Mueller told Vanity Fair magazine in December that he didn't think that the techniques disrupted any attacks.

There's much more, but don't expect the rest of the media to rally to Landay's factual cause. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out earlier this week, the mainstream media has long since moved the center to the right, and adopted the Cheney version of reality when it comes to war and national security, and relegated all other versions to the fringe:

What is, in my view, most noteworthy about all of this is how it gives the lie to the collective national claim that we learned our lesson and are now regretful about the Bush/Cheney approach to Terrorism. Republicans are right about the fact that while it was Bush officials who led the way in implementing these radical and lawless policies, most of the country's institutions -- particularly the Democratic Party leadership and the media -- acquiesced to it, endorsed it, and enabled it. And they still do.

Nothing has produced as much media praise for Obama as his embrace of what Goldsmith calls the "essential elements" of "the Bush approach to counterterrorism policy." That's because -- contrary to the ceremonial displays of regret and denouncements of Bush -- the dominant media view is this: the Bush/Cheney approach to Terrorism was right; those policies are "centrist"; Obama is acting commendably by embracing them; most of the country wants those policies; and only the Far Left opposes the Bush/Cheney approach.

Anyone who doubts that should consider this most extraordinary paragraph from Associated Press' Liz Sidoti:

Increasingly, President Barack Obama and Democrats who run Congress are being pulled between the competing interests of party liberals and the rest of the country on Bush-era wartime matters of torture, detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists.

When it comes to torture and Bush's Terrorism policies, it's the Far Left (which opposes those things) versus "the rest of the country" (which favors them). And she described Obama's embrace of Bush's policies as "governing from the center." Apparently, Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies are Centrist. Who knew?
BTW, if you caught MSNBC's "Morning Joe" this morning, you see Greenwald's point. The show, which increasingly is obsessed with rehabilitating the George W. Bush presidency, with Joe and Mika pulling the wagons and only Donny Deutsch and Lawrence O'Donnell running interference for the reality based community, has now become the new, unofficial home of that nasty piece of right wing work: Liz Cheney. Today, they gave her a full hour to bond with Mika and kvetch about Barack Obama not appreciating her dad.

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posted by JReid @ 10:34 AM  
ReidBlog: The "Counterspin" interview
Here's the interview I did this week with FAIR's radio show, "Counterspin."

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posted by JReid @ 10:31 AM  
How I survived the hack attack
What an awful 24 hours. Yesterday, I discovered that the ReidBlog had been hacked by malware, which is really horrible because I don't really even know what that is ... in any event, the hack attack led to a cascade of horrors, up to and including being banned by Twitter, blacklisted by Google, and deleted from various progressive blog feeds (which of course, was what they had to do...)

So in the interests of helping my fellow man (and avoiding an escalation in blogger alcohol consumption...) permit me to offer a few tips to those of you still brave enough to read this blog:

1) If you have digg code installed on your posts, take it off. I had digg code on some posts dating back to last fall. I have since quit using it, but the old codes were apparently creating a vulnerability to hackeration.

2) If you use stat counter code, beware! My web host stopped offering direct stat service more than a year ago, leading your intrepid blogger to use an outside service, Apparently, they had a big malware hode in them, too.

3) If way back in the day when you started your site, you enabled Frontpage settings, disable them. I can't tell you why, but that is a tip given to me by a kindly helpdesk type poster at Google Webmaster tools.

4) If you are hacked, you will have to put in a shitload of time, frustration and effort to fix it and undo the damage. Which leads to ...

5. So if you're thinking about adding that new bit of cool sounding code to your site, think long and hard about it. In most cases, the slower load time and security vulnerabilities simply aren't worth it.

Happy blogging, and be careful out there...

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posted by JReid @ 9:39 AM  
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Glenn Beck: hold me back, Stu! Hold me back!
After quizzling like a girl and nearly wetting his pants on "The View" yesterday when he was called a lying sack of dog mess for making up an Amtrak fable about Whoopi and Barbara ... and once he had repaired to the safety of his radio studio and was no longer actually in the room with them, our once-again feisty friend Harold Hill Glenn got all feisty and tore into those women like only a real man would ... when the women aren't there (ahem.)


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posted by JReid @ 3:42 PM  
What Dick Cheney didn't say
When Dick Cheney mounted his full-throated defense of the previous administration's national security state at the curiously named American Enterprise Institute this afternoon, he made his core argument (that the Bush-Cheney torture and surveillance programs should be praised by a grateful nation, not shunned and despised by phony moralists who don't seem to mind when Jack Bauer does it...) based on a set of facts that are no longer operative. [Illustration at left by Rex Lameray]

Cheney continued to make the case that he ... I mean President Bush ... did what had to be done after 9/11 in order to thwart another -- imminent -- attack on America. They had to waterboard the bad guys you see -- and make no mistake, these weren't balerinas they were near-drowning -- because no one at the time knew when or where the next attack was coming. And it was coming. It's always coming... a few hundred turns on the waterboard and a mock burial or two later, the attack never came. See how well that worked?

The problem is: we now have at least a strong circumstantial case suggesting that the administration escalated the waterboarding in 2002 and 2003, long after the imminence of 9/11 had passed them by, but conveniently, right around the time they were building the case for invading Iraq. They waterboarded Abu Zubaydah 83 times in 30 days in August of 2002, the same month Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, formed White House Iraq Group to try and "market" the war. They waterboarded Khalid Sheik Muhammad 183 times in March 2003, the same month we invaded Iraq. And we learned on May 13 from former NBC News investigative producer Bob Windrem (who gave the bombshell story to The Daily Beast since I'm presuming the New York Times and Washington Post couldn't be bothered...) that they even tried to get the Iraq Survey Group to waterboard an Iraqi general in April 2003 -- not to thwart an "imminent" attack, but in order to produce false confessions to justify the invasion of Iraq.

But Dick Cheney didn't mention that today, nor did he bother to defend it. He didn't have to. The media has so thoroughly set aside the stunning revelations in the previous paragraph, that Cheney doesn't even feel the need to bring it up. He is free to continue arguing his case on pre-May 13 thinking, and he knows he'll get away with it. After all, who's going to stop him ... the "media?" The vast majority of the Washington press corps has long since lost interest in the subject of how, and why, we got into Iraq. And as NBC's Mark Murray all-but admitted today, the mainstream press spends more time helping the GOP out with their media strategy than rethinking their credulous assent on the Iraq war. ... The Obama administration? They're all about "moving forward." ... Congress? Don't make me laugh. They're too scared of the vanishing right's mysterious power to cow them on national security issues even to vote for the money to close Guantanamo, and they can't even build up the spinal fluid to move forward on a truth commission. The American people??? I'm sure Dick, who was too scared to fight in Vietnam but is clearly not afraid of YOU, would simply say, "good luck with that."

Related: The media's collective yawn over torture for war

Cross-posted at Open Salon.

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posted by JReid @ 2:47 PM  
Shameless self-promotion: Joy on "Counterspin"
Just completed the interview with Fairness and Accuracy in Media's "Counterspin," regarding my CommonDreams article on the media's ho-hum attitude toward the Bush administration's "torture for war" program. You can catch the podcast of the show, hosted by Steve Rendall and Janine Jackson here.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the interview.


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posted by JReid @ 1:30 PM  
Dick Cheney gave an entire speech, and forgot to apologize for outing a CIA agent
So...the Obama v. Cheney distant family feud / national security showdown is over, and Dick Cheney, who was engaged in a protracted struggle with the CIA every day of his shadow presidency, up to and including inducing his chief of staff to out a clandestine CIA officer, is the lone voice defending the brave operatives at Langley from the evil liberals who don't appreciate their service? Yes, well....

Cheney's speech to the American Enterprise Institute (any wonder the two outlets to get advanced copies of Cheney's durge were Fox News and the Weekly Standard...?) contained nothing unexpected, unless you count Cheney's sudden love for the CIA as unexpected.

As for President Obama's speech, you definitely get the feeling that it's starting to bug him that so many of us out here in Americanland want him to "re-litigate" the torture policies of the past. But Obama's main points were well taken: he is not a continuation of George W. Bush, and sorry Dick, but the previous administration did clearly subvert American values. But Obama's strongest point may have been this: that the previous administration's response to the 9/11 attacks was haphazard at best.

By the way, Cheney's obsession with the CIA-torture nexus isn't new. You probably won't recall this, because the media has had no interest in it, but according to investigative reporter Jane Mayer and others, as recounted by Jason Leopold:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney intervened in CIA Inspector General John Helgerson investigation into the agency’s use of torture against alleged “high-value” detainees, but the watchdog was still able to prepare a report that concluded the interrogation program violated some provisions of the International Convention Against Torture.

The report, which the Obama administration may soon declassify, was completed in May 2004 and implicated CIA interrogators in at least three detainee deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq and referred eight criminal cases of alleged homicide, abuse and misconduct to the Justice Department for further investigation, reporter Jane Mayer reported in her book, The Dark Side, and an investigative report published in The New Yorker in November 2005.

In The Dark Side, Mayer described the report as being “as thick as two Manhattan phone books” and contained information, according to an unnamed source, “that was simply sickening.”

“The behavior it described, another knowledgeable source said, raised concerns not just about the detainees but also about the Americans who had inflicted the abuse, one of whom seemed to have become frighteningly dehumanized,” Mayer wrote. “The source said, ‘You couldn't read the documents without wondering, 'Why didn't someone say, "Stop!'""

Mayer added that Cheney routinely “summoned” Inspector General Helgerson to meet with him privately about his investigation, launched in 2003, and soon thereafter the probe “was stopped in its tracks.” Mayer characterized Cheney’s interaction with Helgerson as highly unusual.

Cheney’s “reaction to this first, carefully documented in-house study concluding that the CIA’s secret program was most likely criminal was to summon the Inspector General to his office for a private chat,” Mayer wrote. “The Inspector General is supposed to function as an independent overseer, free from political pressure, but Cheney summoned the CIA Inspector General more than once to his office.

“Cheney loomed over everything,” the former CIA officer told Mayer. “The whole IG’s office was completely politicized. They were working hand in glove with the White House.”

But Mayer said Cheney's intervention in Helgerson's probe proved that as early as 2004 “the Vice President's office was fully aware that there were allegations of serious wrongdoing in the [torture] Program." Helgerson has denied that he was pressured by Cheney.
Go figure...

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posted by JReid @ 12:06 PM  
Twitterbanned in the U.S.A.
So how does one get suspended from Twitter, anyway? Apparently, it's more common than you'd think, or at least it has happened to a number of people, for indeterminate reasons. It has now happened to me, although I still don't know why ... and I have to admit, I don't use it much, so I'm not 100 percent sure I care. Still, I do feel somehow victimized ... somehow...

I've emailed Twitter support. We'll see what happens next...

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posted by JReid @ 11:54 AM  
Adam Lambert: the new Freddie Mercury?
Okay, so I didn't watch "American Idol" this season -- or last -- okay I'm totally bored with it. But I just watched several performances on the show's website, and um ... you mean this guy didn't win???

I'm talking THIS guy...

Seems to me that both of the top two guys were good, and both will be successful (and the winner, Kris Allen, plays guitar and piano, and is clearly teen idol material.) Just sayin' this guy Adam has one hell of a voice. So now starts the season of media naval gazing over his sexuality, or what people presume it to be, and whether it may have cost him in what apparently was a stunning upset by the churchy over the flamboyant. Yep, I'm officially bored again.

BTW, it appears Lambert has already cut a studio recording of "Mad World," his big star turn on the show. It's a good look! Check it out here.

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posted by JReid @ 9:28 AM  
Newt Gingrich: sublimely ridiculous
Not only is Newt Gingrich a rank hypocrite -- imagine, the disgraced former speaker of the House, who was fined $300,000 and sanctioned by his own party for ethics violations back in the days before he himself had to resign as speaker (for having a sexual affair with an aide at the same time he was pushing for the impeachment of President Clinton ... for having a sexual affair with an intern ...) he is also a man of shallow principle. Newt, who claims that Nancy Pelosi has "disqualified herself" as speaker, and thus, should make like a Newt and resign, got caught with his proverbial pants down by Diane Sawyer this week, abba-abba-abba'ing over the various Republicans, including some of Pelosi's accusers, who've also called the CIA a bunch of liars.

The fact is that Newt, in the end, is not all that significant (except to the credulous press corps, which insists on giving him air time.) What is significant is the fact that he, and his attacks on Nancy Pelosi, and those of his party, are not actually serous. They don't represent some genuine outrage over something Pelosi has done (after all, they're accusing her of not opposing torture -- a sentiment they share.) What this is about, is the GOP persuing a strategy dating back to January, of using any opportunity to brand and attack members of the Democratic leadership, as a proxy for attacking the way too popular President Obama.

Let's travel back in time, to January, in the weeks after the inauguration, when Republicans were trying to figure out how to respond to the popular president's economic stimulus plan. ABC News noted on January 29:

Two weeks ago, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., hired GOP pollster John McLaughlin to conduct a poll on the stimulus plan to define the most effective ways to frame Republican concerns.

ABC obtained a copy of a PowerPoint presentation prepared based on that poll, available HERE.

The GOP poll showed that Obama is popular (71 percent approval) and that an overwhelming majority (64 percent) approve of “Barack Obama's economic recovery plan.”

But it showed that Pelosi, D-Calif., (34 percent favorable) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., (20 percent) are far less popular. And when asked about the specifics of the stimulus plan without Obama's name attached, the plan loses its appeal.

The result: Congressional Republicans held together and voted unaminously "no." And the GOP has carried that strategy forward ever since. It's "Operation: Get Nancy," mostly because Harry Reid is so dull (and besides, El Rushbo usually takes care of him.) What is incredible, is not that the GOP is deploying a months-old strategy to satiate their base and in their minds, take down the Democratic Party by attacking the leadership -- while, they hope, unnerving Democrats out of really investigating torture or the other abuses of the Bush administration in the process. What is stunning is how willing the Washington press corps has been to go along with the program.

As John Nichols of The Nation pointed out recently:

I.F. Stone used to joke that what passed for investigative journalism in Washington was actually just the restating of what was already in the public record at the appropriate time.

Indeed, and it turns out that Nichols was among the reporters who "exposed" the fact that Pelosi was briefed on torture. Only he did it in 2007. In other words: the fact that senior Democrats were compliant with the Bush administration when it came, not just to torture, but also to Iraq and overall national security policy is no new revelation. And the media has, almost to a man (or woman) failed to ask a single, quite relevant question: let's just say that Nancy Pelosi IS lying, and she WAS fully briefed about the fact that we were torturing people. What does that mean? The answer is, it would mean that Pelosi was aware of the commission of war crimes (though she claims that because her knowledge was classified, she couldn't have done anything about it) and it would mean that, ipso facto, war crimes were committed at the behest of the previous administration, with the quizzling assent of Democrats. Again, nothing new. Besides, if Pelosi's involvement is a 5 on the war crimes scale, then Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush and the CIA are at about a 12, right?

So ... does that mean Republicans, and the media, at long last, are ready to see those crimes investigated? Here's the funniest part of all: Democrats outside the Beltway are ready. And so is Nancy Pelosi.

Related: TDB - GOP's Pelosi tricks backfire.

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posted by JReid @ 8:05 AM  
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Glenn Beck has no convictions
Yeah, the Barbara-Whoopi vs. Glenn "lying sack of dog mess" smackdown was satisfying, but what's up with Glenn Beck not being able to answer the question, "what are your convictions?" Watch, and cringe:

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posted by JReid @ 4:29 PM  
Bill McCollum: the age of access and inclusion is upon us
Now this is ironic. One of the former Clinton impeachment harpies, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who has run and lost for Senate more times than anyone this side of George H.W. Bush, now says that if he is elected the next governor of Florida, his administration will be all about ... inclusion ... (ahem). From McClatchy:
"The hallmark of a McCollum administration will be access and inclusion," he said. "This administration will be one that doesn't look at partisan labels."
Access and inclusion ...

McCollum was the sole cabinet member to vote against allowing people who have served their prison sentences to regain their right to vote, a relic of Florida's post Civil War past and the infamous "Black codes." Can we file that under "inverse access?"

He'd like to decrease the waiting time to get your hands on a gun to 24 hours (the better to spray the block or add to the stockpile in ma's basement, I'm sure...) Here, I'm going with access.

He'd like to make it harder for those on death row to file federal appeals. Can we file that under "inclusion of more prisoners among the rolls of the deceased?"

He wants to amend the Constitution to add school prayer. Ah! Inclusion of God in your reading, writing and arithmatic. I'm sure The Almighty will be well pleased.

He opposes all affirmative action. Uh-oh, inverse access again!

But he's all for spending taxpayer money on self-serving PSA's touting his fight against Internet predators (and here you thought it was that Chris Hansen fellow doing all the work...) Including himself in the media budget, and paying out millions in tax money to a former campaign consultant for his failed 2000 and 2004 campaigns in no-bid contracts to do it? File it under inclusion AND access!

Oh, and he's really, really friendly with the banks:
He generally was regarded as a lap dog for the banking industry during his congressional years. In 1989, Public Campaign (an open government group) gave McCollum its "Golden Leash'' award for accepting $373,857 in campaign cash from the banking and financial service industries while using his position on the Banking and Financial Services Committee and the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee to promote anti-consumer credit card legislation. Here is a link on the award.
Yeah, sounds like a winner.

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posted by JReid @ 11:36 AM  
Cheney, torture, and the very bored mainstream media
Just realized today that Commondreams ran my piece: "The media's collective yawn over torture for war" on Saturday. It starts off as follows:

Faced with what could be the biggest foreign policy bombshell since the Gulf of Tonkin lies cleared the way for Vietnam, the Washington-New York media establishment has chosen to do nothing. Much as D.C. reporters decided several years ago that they were no longer interested covering the Bush administration's duplicity in the run-up to the Iraq war (nor are the David Gregory's of the world interested in revisiting their profession's complicity with the former administration in that regard,) "the press," it seems, has decided to take a pass. And what they're passing on is truly stunning.

In short, evidence is quickly piling up suggesting that the torture of terrorism suspects, and even the alleged request from no less than the office of the vice president of the United States, to waterboard an Iraqi official, had less to do with protecting Americans from further attack after 9/11, than it had to do with bolstering a phony case for invading Iraq. Polls show a plurality of Americans will accept even torture - as sickening as that fact is to anyone who cares about civil liberties - if it's done to save innocent (read American) lives. But how would the American people square the idea of torturing people, not to save lives, but to produce false confessions in order to give a small group of ideologues - the neoconservatives - the war they desired. Most Americans have long since accepted that the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq was flawed, if not totally false. What we didn't know until recently, was that to sell that case, members of the Bush administration, possibly including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld - maybe even the president of the United States, were willing to do things we're accustomed to ascribing to the North Koreans or Maoist Chinese: using torture not to get good information, but to produce false confessions, to justify an unnecessary war.

Read the whole thing here.

I'll be on FAIR's radio show "CounterSpin" tomorrow to discuss it. ... of course, we don't get CounterSpin here in South Florida, where pretty much the only things on the radio are right wing talk, sports talk, party music, and black comedians on FM talking to angry baby mamas. So you'll have to listen online. The interview is at 1:15 p.m. Not sure what time it will air.

Meanwhile, Larry Wilkerson on CNN this morning defrocked Michael Gerson's pro-CIA column in today's WAPO, saying Gerson isn't qualified to talk about what the CIA does or doesn't do. Ouch! And the Bush defenders on the Internets try a two-front approach: keeping up the relentless attacks on Nancy Pelosi, which MoDo correctly describes as "chutzpah" today, and trying furiously to debunk Wilkerson.

UPDATE: Media Matters is keeping track of the media yawn here.

And with a hat tip to Mike Corbell, an interesting piece on just what torture may have had to do with the authorization ... or not ... to invade Iraq.

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posted by JReid @ 11:20 AM  
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Michael Steele: Last, best hope of the Republican Party...
... or, total and complete boob. Tooootally up to you. Steele today resumed his Herculean effort to revive the GOP, first by threatening to quit if they take his RNC budget authority away, and then, by declaring that the era of Republican apology is OVER ... unless of course you count the mandatory apologias to Rush Limbaugh whenever he feels slighted. Watch, and learn...

Fo shizzle!

For more bone headery, check out the ReidBlog Michael Steele page, son!

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posted by JReid @ 10:28 PM  
For the prosecution: Don Rumsfeld and the Bush Bible briefings
More news from the Dr. Strangelove era in American politics. GQ nails the Pentagon's Jesus briefers, and paints Don Rumsfeld as perhaps the worst Defense Secretary EVER.

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posted by JReid @ 12:46 PM  
Liz Cheney: one nasty piece of work...
Did you catch Liz Cheney's act on Stephanopoulos on Sunday? Sorry to be slow on the uptake, but my Tivo failed and I just caught it last night. Watch if for yourself here and here. Spoiler alert: the Cheney apple didn't fall from the gnarled, twisted tree... If you don't feel like clicking, here's a small portion of the roundtable, in which Liz continues the family tradition of shoving the CIA out front as a human shield:

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posted by JReid @ 12:33 PM  
Saturday, May 16, 2009
The real reason for Operation Get Nancy
The goal of the GOP attacks on Nancy Pelosi, which have succeeded in leading the credulous media down a pointless path, is clear: to kill any real investigation into Bush-Cheney-era torture, because such an investigation would inevitably lead to the conclusion that torture was not employed to save Americans from a "ticking time bomb," but rather, to produce false confessions tying Iraq to al-Qaida, to back fill a justification for the war. Watch Fox News work the plan:

Meanwhile, did torture salesman Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who transferred torture from Gitmo to Abu Ghraib, also try to foist it onto the Iraq Survey Group?

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posted by JReid @ 6:40 PM  
Straight from the AIPAC's mouth
More proof that AIPAC is one effective lobby.

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posted by JReid @ 6:27 PM  
Postcards from the mortgage crisis
If you read one article about the collapse of the mortgage and credit markets today, make it this one. It's so chilling because it's so familiar, and real.

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posted by JReid @ 6:25 PM  
Friday, May 15, 2009
A media rarity: questioning torture for war
There are exactly FOUR TV/cable reporters covering the torture for war bombshell, and all four of them are on MSNBC: Here's one of them: David Shuster:

The others are Chris Matthews, who is interviewing former NBC investigative producer David Windrem tonight, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. The rest of the collective Washington-New York media are fixated -- obsessed even -- over the Republican distraction story about Nancy Pelosi. Human events and others are now even embracing the fact that what was done was torture, so long as they can tie it to Pelosi.

What a media we've got.

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posted by JReid @ 5:01 PM  
The next time Dick Cheney does an interview...
I hope someone will ask him about the emerging evidence that despite his increasingly desperate attempts to shape history, the Bush-Cheney torture program was not about protecting Americans from an imminent "ticking time bomb" attack -- but rather was a sadistic attempt to falsify, and then shore up the falsified, case for invading Iraq. The evidence is everywhere. Plain as day.

We tortured Khalid Sheikh Muhammad to try and get him to confess to a link...

Dick Cheney's office -- or maybe he himself -- suggested the torture of an Iraqi intelligence agent -- meaning of someone NOT implicated in the "war on terror" -- in order to get him to confess to a link...

We tortured Abu Zubaydah 83 times in one month to try to get him to falsely confess a link, and this after he had been cooperating with FBI interrogators...

We tortured the now very dead Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi to force him to confess to a link -- and he did. Per Andrew Sullivan:
...Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi was first captured by the US and tortured by CIA surrogates in an Egyptian cell. Apparently, they beat him and put him in a coffin for 17 hours as a mock-burial. To end the severe mental and physical suffering, he confessed that Saddam had trained al Qaeda terrorists in deploying WMDs. This evidence was then cited by Colin Powell as part of the rationale for going to war in Iraq.
Powell used that tortured testimony in his phonied up United Nations speech, no less. No wonder he now has such regret...

Two pieces of video that tell the story well, from last night's episodes of "Countdown" and "Rachel Maddow."

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posted by JReid @ 12:18 PM  
The passion of the Crist
The Republican Party is in a sure-fire pickle. They can't stand moderates -- really they can't -- but the available evidence for the last two election cycles suggests they can't get their preferred candidates (namely, anti-taxation, pro-corporate, illegal immigrant hunters who think Barack Obama is a foreign Muslim and who stockpile guns in their mother's basements) elected.

In fact, most of the successes the party has had in winning elections in recent years have been with candidates who at least tried to appear moderate (former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman in New Jersey, former Gov. Pataki in New York, the ousted John Sununu in New Hampshire, Senators Snowe and Collins in Maine, and even the Bushes: Jeb, who dropped the "probably nothing" approach to ethnic politics, sucked up to black and Hispanic voters and moderated his way to victory in 1998, and George W, who ran as a "compassionate conservative" for president in 2000...) Here in Dixie, where the Republican Party is now almost exclusively based, and where Saxby Chambliss (one of the many veteran-smearing GOPers to slime their way into office in recent years) still has a job, it's looking dicey for the GOP when they try to go the Club for Growth route, rather than the Bush (pre governing) route.

Enter Marco Rubio ... the young, Cuban-American Republican of the Future. He's good looking ... he can rip into Democrats in Spanish, just like Jebbie, and he's running on those vaunted "conservative principles," like refusing to take federal aide that could help salve a yawning, $6 billion statewide deficit run up by Republicans -- that wingers cherish (at least now that George W. Bush is out of office.) And yet, he can't catch a break. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, let by Texan John Cornyn, took less than 15 minutes to shove him aside and endorse yet another squishy "moderate," Barack Obama's fave GOP governor, Charlie Crist, for Melly Mel Martinez's Senate seat -- without even checking in with El Rushbo first -- and causing much head scratching and consternation among the qaida ("the base," for those of you not caught up on the lingo) who are rightly wondering whether a party leadership that has utterly failed to advance the winger cause for so many years, and which so thoroughly screwed up the country for the last eight, should get to pick Florida's GOP Senate candidate. For shame! And now, the Florida GOPers, who, like Dick "pick the stranger's car over his, kid" Cheney, would take El Rushbo over Colin Powell, are in mini-revolt:

Anti-Crist 'backlash' brewing

So national Republican party leaders have blessed Gov. Charlie Crist's campaign for the U.S. Senate and the chairman of Republican Party of Florida is ready to do the same. Case closed?

Not so fast. Sharon Day, the party's national committeewoman, is refusing to sign off on a statement that would allow the state party to start providing Crist with support even though he's running in a contested primary against former House Speaker Marco Rubio and other lesser-known candidates.

The Hillsborough and Brevard local parties have passed resolutions protesting the state party's efforts to close ranks, and Palm Beach Republicans are considering the same.

Throw in the RedStaters, who are pledging to starve the NRSC of cash as payback for not towing the Club for Growth line, all because of their love and support for Hispanics (stop that laughing!) and you've got yourself a veritable teabag party of right wing fury! OMG, wait till Cornyn finds out the guy is gay! God, I love politics!


With all the media excitement over Charlie Crist apparently becoming the next Senator from Florida before a single primary vote has been cast ... ahem ... and despite all the attention Marco Rubio is getting for getting the shaft from the NRSC, Charlie and Marco aren't the only candidates in the race. Dr. Marion Thorpe, an African-American physician who frankly, has been running for the Republican Senate nod before either of the other two guys, issued this statement today (for which he helpfully tagged me on Facebook...)
The Protocol and Fairness of the 2010 Race

Dr. Marion D. Thorpe, Jr., candidate for U.S Senate in the state of Florida remains 100% committed to all laws and notions affording open and fair election processes in our Nation. In response to the growing disagreement between the state-wide Republican Party of Florida and Florida's County Republican chapters and grassroots activists, Dr. Thorpe has issued the following statement:

I support efforts of party activists to pass resolutions throughout the state of Florida in support of an open and fair Primary Election process.

While I welcome the Governor into the race, I do so with the hopes of having a spirited debate about who can be the best standard-bearer for the Republican Party, the state of Florida and the Nation as a whole.

In a free republic we have elections, not coronations.

I do so hope that Governor Crist and Speaker Rubio will join me in support of these resolutions.


Marion D. Thorpe, Jr. MD MPH

Chief Medical Officer (Former)
Agency for Health Care Administration
State of Florida
Thorpe is also a conservative, who last time around ran against Alcee Hastings for Congress. We'll see if the media -- or the qaida -- gives him any love.


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posted by JReid @ 11:29 AM  
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Carrie Prejean to guest host "Fox and Friends"
I told you so ... here's the story.
Miss California, Carrie Prejean, tossed around in the battle over gay marriage, will be a one-day guest host for Fox News Channel's popular morning show Fox & Friends, Whispers learns. She will host the 6 a.m.-to-7 a.m. slot on May 27, filling in for Gretchen Carlson—the 1989 Miss America—who will be off that day.
Don't say I didn't warn you. You're going to be seeing a lot more of Ms. Prejean, and I'm not just talking in dirty pictures...


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posted by JReid @ 10:31 PM  
The RedState crazy train finally makes a stop in Florida
So... the guys over at RedState (when they're not desperately Googling for proof that Barack Obama is not really an American citizen, or stockpiling guns inside their moms' garages...) have launched a war ... against Republicans. Specifically, they're going to war against the Republican Senate Campaign Committee for the offense of supporting Miss Charlie for Senate. Cue the circular firing squad, in which the RedStaters attempt to ... (sorry, I started laughing and nearly choked myself...) stand up for DIVERSITY!

I’m reminded of a quote from the media a couple of months ago that conservatives could not support Charlie Crist in Florida because of his support for diversity initiatives. The reporter failed to them point out that these white Christian conservatives were supporting the Latino candidate.

What reminded me was this quote

Tom Slade, a former chairman of the Florida GOP, said popularity always trumps ideology, and he predicted Crist easily would win the Republican nomination.

That, he added, that might be good for the party as a whole.

“There are not enough blue-eyed, white, blond guys and girls who go to church three times on Sunday and once on Wednesday to make up a majority for the Republican Party almost anywhere,” Slade said. “If we don’t broaden the party, there won’t be much of a party left.”

Yes, so let’s broaden the party by electing a white guy instead of a Latino.

So... is where you go to be in solidarity with Latinos? ... Ooh, and they have a Facebook page, too! These Republicans are so tech savvy! ... Except that the purpose of the Facebook page is to bankrupt the entity whose job it is to get Republicans elected to the Senate ... where currently there are only 40 Republicans ... um ...

At some point, I'm going to start thinking that wingers don't actually want to win elections. Which brings me to a great quote from Larry Wilkerson in that chilling TWN post:

... fewer Americans identify as Republicans than at any time since WWII. We're at 21% and falling--right in line with the number of cranks, reprobates, and loonies in the country.
RedState, I see you!

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posted by JReid @ 10:17 PM  
Dick Cheney's torture for war program
The most damning paragraphs from former Colin Powell deputy Lawrence Wilkerson's exclusive post on TWN:

My investigations have revealed to me--vividly and clearly--that once the Abu Ghraib photographs were made public in the Spring of 2004, the CIA, its contractors, and everyone else involved in administering "the Cheney methods of interrogation", simply shut down. Nada. Nothing. No torture or harsh techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator. Period. People were too frightened by what might happen to them if they continued.

What I am saying is that no torture or harsh interrogation techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator for the entire second term of Cheney-Bush, 2005-2009. So, if we are to believe the protestations of Dick Cheney, that Obama's having shut down the "Cheney interrogation methods" will endanger the nation, what are we to say to Dick Cheney for having endangered the nation for the last four years of his vice presidency?

Likewise, what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002--well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion--its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida.

So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney's office that their detainee "was compliant" (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP's office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa'ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, "revealed" such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop.

There in fact were no such contacts. (Incidentally, al-Libi just "committed suicide" in Libya. Interestingly, several U.S. lawyers working with tortured detainees were attempting to get the Libyan government to allow them to interview al-Libi....)

The plot continues to thicken...

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posted by JReid @ 10:11 PM  
Obama keeps it classy in Arizona
This is how you handle an uncomfortable controversy. President Obama delivers an inspiring commencement speech, and shrugs off the school's snub snafu. Watch:

Part two and three.

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posted by JReid @ 3:33 PM  
Time to throw out the 9/11 report?
Robert Windrem's TDB report not only throws a bright light on Dick Cheney's role in pushing for the waterboarding of detainees in order to make them confess to a fantasy link between Iraq and al-Qaida ... which is bad enough. But page two of the piece contains information that might be just as damning, this time, of the 9/11 Commission...

An extensive analysis I conducted as a reporter for NBC News of the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report and its monograph on terrorist travel showed that much of what was reported about the planning and execution of the terror attacks on New York and Washington was based on the CIA's interrogations of high-ranking al Qaeda operatives who had been subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques."

More than one-quarter of all footnotes in the 9/11 Report refer to CIA interrogations of al Qaeda operatives subjected to the now-controversial interrogation techniques. In fact, information derived from the interrogations was central to the 9/11 Report’s most critical chapters, those on the planning and execution of the attacks.

The NBC analysis also showed—and agency and commission staffers concur—there was a separate, second round of interrogations in early 2004, specifically conducted to answer new questions from the 9/11 Commission after its lawyers had been left unsatisfied by the agency’s internal interrogation reports.

Human-rights advocates, including Karen Greenberg of New York University Law School’s Center for Law and Security and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, have said that, at the least, the 9/11 Commission should have been more suspect of the information derived under such pressure.

Philip Zelikow, who led the 9/11 commission as its executive director, is the same guy who authored the "anti-torture memo" that was buried by the Bushies, and who is now calling for an independent investigation into Bush-era torture. He now says:
"We were not aware, but we guessed, that things like that were going on. We were wary…we tried to find different sources to enhance our credibility."
Credibility? What credibility? The fact is, that now even the timeline and explanation of events surrounding 9/11 is tainted by torture. If we cannot trust the commission's reconstruction of events, and the means of getting that reconstruction included the same techniques Dick Cheney wanted used to justify a phony case for war with Iraq, what other conclusion can you come to other than that the fruits of that poisoned tree are ALL bad, and we really don't know what happened on 9/11, or who indeed, was ultimately responsible...?

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posted by JReid @ 2:01 PM  
As Bush stays silent, the evidence against Dick Cheney mounts
I've often wondered, is George W. Bush really as dumb as he seems, or could he, behind the scenes, have figured out -- eventually -- that his vice president had hijacked his presidency. Assuming for the moment that he did figure out, maybe around mid-to-late 2003, by which time the case for the Iraq war had completely fallen apart, and during the summer of which, Robert Novak had completed the leak of a CIA officer's name, something that originated inside the vice president's office, too. There is some evidence to suggest that not only did Dubya figure out what was up, but he also took steps to correct it:
  • Bush fought fiercely for a second term, deploying Karl Rove (who by the way has now admitted that the Bush administration conducted torture...) to do anything to win.

  • After he won (or stole Ohio, whichever historic read you prefer) he ejected the entire neocon fraternity from his administration -- including, eventually, Don Rumsfeld.
The one person he couldn't get rid of, or didn't try to, was Dick Cheney, who had gone to war with the CIA over Iraq (an agency Bush's father once held,) and authorized the Plame leak, something that went against Bush Sr.'s strongest admonitions when it came to undercover personnel. So could Bush, in his second term, have been seeking to repair the presidency he had allowed his vice president to destroy? Maybe. And then there's this: Bush and Cheney are no longer on speaking terms, according to news reports, and Bush does indeed blame Cheney for what went wrong with his reign (he should blame himself more -- Katrina wasn't Cheney's fault, and the economi catastrophe was a shared responsibility...) Bush also refused to pardon Scooter "the CIA agent outer" Libby, despite Cheney's strenuous insistance. And now, Cheney is out there on his own, defending the Bush administration's torture program as if it was ... well, the Cheney administration torture program. Which brings me to a post in today's Daily Beast:

Robert Windrem, who covered terrorism for NBC, reports exclusively in The Daily Beast that:

*Two U.S. intelligence officers confirm that Vice President Cheney’s office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner, a former intelligence official for Saddam Hussein, who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.

*The former chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, in charge of interrogations, tells The Daily Beast that he considered the request reprehensible.

*Much of the information in the report of the 9/11 Commission was provided through more than 30 sessions of torture of detainees.

At the end of April 2003, not long after the fall of Baghdad, U.S. forces captured an Iraqi who Bush White House officials suspected might provide information of a relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime. Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi was the head of the M-14 section of Mukhabarat, one of Saddam’s secret police organizations. His responsibilities included chemical weapons and contacts with terrorist groups.

Two senior U.S. intelligence officials at the time tell The Daily Beast that the suggestion to waterboard an Iraqi prisoner came from the Office of Vice President Cheney.

“To those who wanted or suspected a relationship, he would have been a guy who would know, so [White House officials] had particular interest,” Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraqi Survey Group and the man in charge of interrogations of Iraqi officials, told me. So much so that the officials, according to Duelfer, inquired how the interrogation was proceeding.

Could GWB be keeping so very quiet, because he knows that if prosecutions for torture do occur, Cheney will be on the hook more than he? Perhaps that's why this past weekend, Cheney tried to tie Bush to the torture program, claiming Bush "signed off on it..."

Meanwhile, the CIA today turned down Cheney's request to selectively declassify documents he insists will clear him ... or, he never asked. Either way he's not getting any memos. (BTW, which guy do you think would get more CIA cover if bad things went down in the A.G.'s office, former son of a CIA director Bush, or Dick "Deferrments" Cheney?" Just asking. BTW, the American Conservative's Philip Geraldi makes a very good point about those still classified memos, about which he was briefed by someone who has seen them; he writes this:

... The memos were drafted for the White House to demonstrate the success of the enhanced interrogation program and were not intended to look at the downside of the procedure, which means they provide only a very selective and uncritical overview. They were written by the CIA staff tasked with carrying out the interrogations which inevitably had a vested interest in making the program appear to be both effective and legal. Other Agency components, including its Inspector General’s office, opposed the program for various reasons, including its failure to produce any genuine intelligence, so there was hardly any consensus even inside the CIA on the procedure and effectiveness.

The memos cite several leads developed from the interrogations which may or may not have led to the thwarting of terrorist plots, but they make no attempt to critique the interrogation process itself to determine if the information might have been obtained more conventionally. None of the interrogations of “high value suspects” related to a “smoking gun scenario” where a detainee knew details of an imminent terrorist attack, meaning that the waterboarding was carried out even when there was no pressing need to use that technique. The memos also did not address the issue of the numerous false leads and bogus information derived from confessions under torture that made the entire process questionable. [emphasis added]

And the credulous Washington press corps continues to buy into the GOP's Operation Get Nancy distraction technique, to a degree that is shameful, even for this Republican-coddling crowd.

TIME Magazine also wondered why the once-reclusive Dick is so chatty these days, and concluded as follows:

Cheney is "trying to rewrite history," says a Republican consultant who has experience in intelligence matters. "He knows that as time goes by, he will look worse. And so he's trying to put his stroke on it."

And you know what? I'll bet George W. Bush knows that, too.

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posted by JReid @ 1:29 PM  
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Five of the Liberty City Seven convicted
The end of the Bush era is proceeding slowly, and painfully. Five members of the "Liberty City Seven" -- seven strange black guys who practiced karate outdoors wearing black ski masks and believed in an offbeat religious philosophy, were put on trial not once, but three times (six of them were, anyway. One was acquitted outright during the last trial, and then promptly deported to Haiti by the Bush administration, while the jury hung on the others.) Now, a second member has been acquitted. His friends? Not so much. They're facing up to 30 years in prison for a made-up plot so silly, and so clearly dreamed up by the FBI informant who infiltrated their group, that it seemed assured that an intelligent jury would laugh the case out of court.

Well? That didn't happen.

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posted by JReid @ 5:16 PM  
Cutié takes it to the crazy
Okay, this has got to be the best excuse for getting busted ... ever...

In an interview taped Friday and aired Tuesday night on Univisión's Aqui y Ahora, Cutié intimated it may have been Cuban spies who followed him and taped him getting frisky with his lover on a beach in Miami. ''I knew that during some time I was being followed,'' Cutié said. 'I think that being Cuban American, we have that paranoia that perhaps it could be someone from another government, from another place. . . . I had experiences at Radio Paz of seeing strange cars when I would leave work late or arrive early. I would see things and I would say, `I wonder who would be following me?' ''

But that didn't stop him from his moment of fun in the sun with his girlfriend of more than two years, whom Cutié still has not named directly but who has been identified in media reports as Ruhama Buni Canellis, 35, a divorced mother living in South Beach.

Cutié said it was his companion on the sand who first noticed they were being taped.

''I look and I see the camera,'' Cutié said. 'My first reaction was, `What can I do? It's already happened.' My first reaction was to stay calm.''

He says the videographer, a heavyset woman who was trying to hide the camera, left the minute she realized Cutié spotted her. He says he has no idea who she is and that he learned of the spread in TVNotas the day the Mexican magazine hit the streets.

So ... the problem here is not celibacy, or a horny priest ... it's Fidel? Huh???


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posted by JReid @ 3:45 PM  
The Florida political free-for-all begins
By the time we get to November 2010, there could be a dozen people running for the seat Rep. Kendrick Meek is vacating to run for Senate, locally, there will be a whole new Miami Gardens city council plus a new mayor (all but one, including Mayor Shirley Gibson, term out...) and candidates spilling into races ranging from Miami-Dade School Board (Solomon Stinson appears to finally be heading into his dotage,) the state legislature (who will fill State Sen. Fredrica Wilson's seat once she vacates it to run for Congress?) and on and on. The same is true at the state level, where the agriculture commissioner, attorney general and insurance commissioner -- in other words, the whole cabinet -- looks to be vacating their seats in order to run for some other seat.

Alex Sink, who declined to run against her friend Charlie Crist for Senate, will run for governor instead, possibly against the sitting attorney general, Bill McCollum (who Sideshow Mel Martinez once famously (and slimily) called "the new darling of homosexual extremists" when he ran against him for the Senate...) Agricultural Commissioner Charles Bronson, whom I always picture toting a big gun and taking out drug dealers on a dark, misty dock someplace, could jump into that race, too ... and we all know Miss Charlie is running for Senate ...

It's kind of exhausting, actually.

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posted by JReid @ 3:05 PM  
Monday, May 11, 2009
Heeeere's Charlie!
Tomorrow, barring a direct hit lightning strike or some other unforseen event, Charlie Crist will call a press conference and announce that he's running for Senate. That's no big surprise, since polls show he would be the instant favorite in a race that currently features not a single statewide name brand. What will be interesting will be to see if the popular politician with the permanent tan is ready for what comes next: the brutal beating he's going to take from both Marco Rubio on the right (for supporting Barack Obama on the stimulus package) and from the Democratic contenders, who are already slamming him as akin to a father abandoning his family during a hurricane, for quitting his job to run to Washington "when the going gets tough."

Crist has positioned himself perfectly for the win: he's still a popular figure, known statewide by his first name, and he's been ideologically malleable enough that he hasn't generated animosity where it counts: in the middle. I can tell you that among my black Democratic friends, I know several who say they will support Crist, give him money, and vote for him. None of them are Republicans, and ALL of them gave money to, supported, and voted for, Barack Obama. Crist is pals with the state NAACP president, Adora Obi Nwezi, he retains good will among black voters for supporting the right of two wrongfully convicted men, Pitts and Lee, to be compensated for their suffering, and there's that lovefest with President Obama when he thanked the governor lavishly for supporting the stim.

But that won't stop the s---storm that's coming Charlie's way. Including the fact that he's about to be outed, yet again... (wife notwithstanding, and by the way every source I have who works in Tallahassee says he's gay, too...) with the full assent of the political right, putting them, ironically, in the same tent with the Perez Hilton wing of the gay rights movement, which is going to pour money, time and energy into defeating him as payback for his opposition to gay marriage and adoption (which they see as hypocritical...) Throw in Florida resident Rush Limbaugh, who hates Charlie's kind of moderate Republican, Marco Rubio and his band of Elianeers who will torch him on Spanish-language radio to cut into his South Florida numbers, plus the right wing of the GOP, the Club for Growth wierdos and probably Jeb Bush and his "devious planning," and you begin to get the picture.

Charlie's in for a rough ride.

That said, my party would be crazy to believe he can't still win that seat. For one thing, Barack Obama won't be on the ballot this time, though he'll probably be called on to campaign for the Democratic nominee. For another, about four in ten Floridians are unafiliated with any political party, and Charlie has positioned himself as something of an Indie. The wingers may own this state by virtue of the headcount in the legislature, but Florida ain't Alabama... well much of it isn't, anyway... so the fight for the center will be fierce. ... and by fierce, I cast no aspersions on Miss Charlie or her peoples.

Meanwhile, there could be another consequence of Charlie vacating his governor's chair: open seats ... everywhere ... (which is great news for Democrats.)

Read more:

The ReidBlog Charlie Crist page

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posted by JReid @ 1:03 PM  
Father Cutié's confession
He talks about falling in love, celibacy (he says it's a good thing, but should probably be optional) and getting caught by paparazzi on "The Early Show." Here's the link. I had to take out the embed because CBS hasn't figured out that it's probably better to start their videos out on pause... less annoying that way...

Meanwhile, a weekend poll shows most of the priest's parishioners oppose the idea of priests having to be celibate:
Nearly 80 percent of those polled had a favorable view of Cutié, with 10 percent saying they looked at him unfavorably.

A majority also thought the Church acted prudently when it suspended Cutié from his duties at his parish -- St. Francis de Sales on Miami Beach. Cutié has said he asked for time off for meditation.

Of those polled, 57 percent thought the Archdiocese did the right thing, while 33 percent thought it made the wrong decision.

Cutié, in an interview Monday on CBS' The Early Show, said he's still deciding whether he'll remain in the church.

Among the poll's findings:

A substantial majority -- 74 percent -- of those surveyed, including Hispanics and non-Hispanics, oppose the Roman Catholic Church's prohibition of priests marrying or having any type of sexual relations. Only 22 percent said they supported the prohibition, while 4 percent said they were unsure or gave no answer.

That majority was even larger -- 81 percent -- when those polled were asked whether they thought priests and nuns should be able to marry because the ``celibacy requirement for Catholic clergy is antiquated and no longer viable.''

''In rejecting one of the cardinal tenets of church dogma, Roman Catholics in Miami-Dade now believe that church policies on celibacy from the 12th century no longer make sense for the 21st century,'' said Fernand R. Amandi, executive vice president of Bendixen & Associates, which conducted the poll for The Miami Herald.

It's unclear whether the polling reflects real attitudes about celibacy, or simply support for Cutié ... okay, is it just coincidental that he's like, a rock star in the Catholic world and his name without the accent is "cutie?" Just sayin...


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posted by JReid @ 10:52 AM  
The pope's plea for Palestine
Pope Benedict makes news in Tel Aviv:
Pope Benedict XVI called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian homeland immediately after he arrived in Israel on Monday, a stance that could put him at odds with his hosts on a trip aimed at easing strains between the Vatican and Jews.

The pope also took on the delicate issue of the Holocaust, pledging to "honor the memory" of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide at the start of his five-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Benedict urged Israelis and Palestinians to "explore every possible avenue" to resolve their differences in remarks at the airport after he landed.

Wow. At the airport, no less. Read the text of the pope's remarks here.

Also in the region: Iran releases an Iranian-American journalist who had been sentenced to eight years in prison for alleged spying.

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posted by JReid @ 10:39 AM  
As Feherty rethinks...
So... Feherty's sorry he maligned U.S. troops by calling them homicidal maniacs who'd shoot the House and Senate leaders if they got into an elevator with them. This after his network, CBS, said this about his idiotic D Magazine column:
"We want to be clear that this column for a Dallas magazine is an unacceptable attempt at humor and is not in any way condoned, endorsed or approved by CBS Sports."
... and the PGA Tour said this:
"David Feherty is an insightful and sometimes humorous commentator for CBS Sports' golf coverage," the PGA Tour said in a statement. "However, his attempt at humor in this instance went over the line, and his comments were clearly inappropriate. We hope he will use better judgment in the future."
Sometimes humorous? Ooooh snap! To the apology! The now contrite self-reflective job jeopardized golf analysts said this yesterday:
"This passage was a metaphor meant to describe how American troops felt about our 43rd president," Feherty said in a statement. "In retrospect, it was inappropriate and unacceptable, and has clearly insulted Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid, and for that, I apologize. As for our troops, they know I will continue to do as much as I can for them both at home and abroad."
Ah. Well, that makes it all better... (eyes rolling) Apparently, Feherty, who hails from Northern Ireland, has spent the odd Thanksgiving in Iraq, and from that, gleaned that all 160,000 odd troops there both adore former President Bush, and harbor homicidal attitudes toward Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, which even out-weigh their dislike for Osama bin Laden. With that kind of insight, shouldn't he be president of CBS Sports by now? And since Al Franken has been to Iraq with the USO probably more than Feherty, can we glean that he has special insight into how many troops think Rush Limbaugh is a big, fat idiot?

To the firing, CBS, and quick! CBS Radio had no problem firing the "sometimes humorous" Don Imus for calling a group of lady basketball players Ho's, and CBS News jettisoned Dan Rather for getting hosed on some memos while reporting on the still not unproven tale of Dubya's sweet Texas Air National Guard deal. Given their track record on employee vocal discipline, I don't see how they get away with keeping Feherty on the payroll.

Meanwhile, in one of the saddest ironies possible, an actual soldier, suffering from the stresses of the actual war, opened fire yesterday and killed four of his fellow troops in Iraq. Our prayers are with all of the families of the dead, including the family of the shooter, who took his own life.


Will CBS fire Feherty?

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posted by JReid @ 10:12 AM  
Shocker! Cheney takes Rush over Colin Powell
It's no secret that there hasn't been much love lost over the years between Colin Powell and Dick Cheney. When it comes to the moderate military man, the chickenhawk cabal who hijacked George W. Bush's presidency and crashed it into the ground (sorry, couldn't resist the 20th hijacker reference...) no likey. In fact Cheney, who opted out of Vietnam himself, doesn't seem to have much use for people who actually serve. But fellow Vietnam service dodgers like Rush Limbaugh? Them, he likes:

And if you look at the latest Gallup Poll, it appears the Republican Party will soon be made up only of draft dodgers, pill heads and wacked out talk show hosts (and Michael "Fo Sheezy" Steele.) Wow.

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posted by JReid @ 9:57 AM  
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Wanda, Obama, bring the funny at WH correspondents dinner
In case you missed it, the funny bits from the WHCD. Cue the winger backlash over Wanda Sykes hilarious digs at Limbaugh (now to be known as the strung out 20th hijacker) and Dick Cheney. Watch:

1. Wanda part 1

2. Wanda, part 2 (you go girl!)

3. But was she funnier than President Obama? Judge for yourself (and don't mind the C-SPAN lip sync problem...)

UPDATE: The reviews are in:

EW says both Obama and Wanda killed

The Politico writer wasn't listening. ... too busy gawking at all the celebrities... yeah, I understand. Eight years of nothing but Kelsey Grammer, an aging Bo Derek and Dennis "not even kind of funny" Miller had to be one hell of a bummer...

Newsbusters whinges that Sykes only attacked conservatives and white people... waaaaa... but they helpfully transcribe all of Wanda's best zingers, which I'll be helpful in providing below:

* I know Governor Palin, she's not here tonight. She pulled out at the last minute. You know, somebody should tell her that's not really how you practice abstinence.
* And I have to say to the First Lady, kudos to you for unveiling the bust of the Sojourner of Truth in the White House. That's, yes. And, but, could you do me a favor and please make sure it's nailed down real well since, 'cause you know when the next white guy comes in they gonna move it to the kitchen.
* Rush Limbaugh, one of your big critics, boy, Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails. So, you're saying "I hope America fails," it's like, I don't care about people losing their homes, or their jobs, our soldiers in Iraq. He just wants the country to fail. To me, that's treason. He's not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying. You know, you might want to look into this, Sir, because I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he was just so strung out on oxycontin he missed his flight.
* Rush Limbaugh, I hope the country fails, I hope his kidneys fail, how 'bout that? Needs a little waterboarding, that's what he needs.
* Sean Hannity, Sean Hannity said he's going to get waterboarded for charity, for our armed forces. He hasn't done it yet, I see. You know, talking about how he can take a waterboarding. Please. Okay, he can take a waterboarding by someone you know and trust, but let somebody from Pakistan waterboard, or Keith Olbermann. Let Keith Olbermann waterboard him. He can't take a waterboarding. I can break Sean Hannity just by giving him a middle seat in coach.
* Dick Cheney, oh my God, he's a scary man, scares me to death. I tell my kids, I says, "Look, if two cars pull up, and one has a stranger, and the other car has Dick Cheney, you get in the car with the stranger."
* And finally, Sir, they even gave you grief about the dog, about Bo. You know, the animal rights people on you, "Why didn't he get a rescue dog? Why didn't he get a rescue dog?" Look, the man has to rescue a country that's been abused by its previous owner. Let him have a fresh start with a dog.

God, those never get old... Not to be outdone, here are Obama's best lines:
"I strongly believe my next 100 days will be so successful I will finish them in 72 days," Obama said. "And on the 73rd day I will rest."

"Michael Steele is in the house tonight – or as he would say, ‘in the heezee,’ he said, pausing for laughter before adding, "Whas’ up?" [Needless to say, the self-obsessed Steele lapped up the attention.]'

“That brings me to another thing that’s changed – my relationship with Hillary. We may have been rivals during the campaign, but these days we couldn’t be closer. In fact, the second she got back from Mexico she greeted me with a big hug and a kiss – told me I really oughta get down there myself.


"In the next hundred days, our bipartisan outreach will be so successful that even John Boehner will consider becoming a Democrat. After all, we have a lot in common. He is a person of color. Although not a color that appears in the natural world. …

Love it!

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posted by JReid @ 11:52 AM  
Mother's Day self-promotion: Dick Cheney sings to mama
posted by JReid @ 10:33 AM  
To all the moms out there!


posted by JReid @ 9:13 AM  
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Will CBS fire Feherty?
As Keith Olbermann pointed out last night, the guy who wrote this idiotic piece in D Magazine (a magazine which hosts a slathering, groupie-ish George W. Bush love letters page, works for CBS Sports, which is to say he works for CBS News. Per Politico's Glenn Thrush:

Even if this was off the cuff, it's not going to go over well with the sports bosses at CBS.

The network's golf analyst, David Feherty, writing a column in D Magazine about the George and Laura Bush moving to the Dallas area, says U.S. soldiers would shoot Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid:

"From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this, though: despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there’s a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death."

By the way, how can it be "off the cuff" when a guy took the time to write it, spell check it, presumably read it over, and send it to an editor, who presumably read it, approved it, and posted it on the magazine's website? Come on, Glenn... In any case, the unbelievable piece of right wing scholarship was caught by Media Matters, which is bad news since Media Matters rarely just reports and then leaves stuff alone. They follow up. Just ask Don Imus. In short, the commentary has very likely put Mr. Feherty's future at CBS in doubt.

Feherty is the same genius who last week thought it would be a hoot to ask Tiger Woods if he "felt like a loser." Not exactly the way to get ahead at CBS, I'm thinking. ABC, maybe...

Watch Keith's take in "Worst Persons" here:

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posted by JReid @ 8:35 AM  
Friday, May 08, 2009
Jeff Sessions: Man of the Old South
The GOP's pick for ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee has a rather colorful history when it comes to race... the recollections of a former Sessions subordinate, a Black man named Thomas Figures, are particularly interesting:

Figures recalled one occasion in which the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division sent them instructions to investigate a case that Sessions had tried to close: "We had a very spirited discussion regarding how the Hodge case should then be handled; in the course of that argument, Mr. Sessions threw the file on a table, and remarked, 'I wish I could decline on all of them.'"

All of them, according to Figures, meant civil rights cases generally. As he explained at one point: "[T]he statement, the manner in which it was delivered, the impression on his face, the manner in which his face blushed, I believe it represented a hostility to investigating and pursuing those types of matters."

Figures said that Sessions had called him "boy" on a number of occasions, and had cautioned him to be careful what he said to "white folks. "Mr. Sessions admonished me to 'be careful what you say to white folks,'" Figures testified. "Had Mr. Sessions merely urged me to be careful what I said to 'folks,' that admonition would have been quite reasonable. But that was not the language that he used."

In response to these allegations, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) asked him if he'd ever objected to this behavior. Senator "Did you ever say anything to them? Did you ever say, knock it off, or quit it?"

Figures admitted he hadn't: "Senator, I felt that if I had said anything or reacted in a manner in which I thought appropriate, I would be fired. I always felt that my position was very tentative around Mr. Sessions."

Yep. The GOP has had it.

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posted by JReid @ 2:05 PM  
When you've lost Joe the Plumber...
A TIME Magazine article states the unthinkable... (and since when doe Joe favor Social Security being "forced on him?" Remember this?

Now, Plumber says he hates GOP spending, but don't touch his old age pension. Huh??? And how long before El Rushbo declares Joe to be a socialist who should be run out of the party?

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posted by JReid @ 2:01 PM  
Shameless self-promotion: my new column up at SFT
A requiem for the dying GOP...

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posted by JReid @ 1:44 PM  
Operation: Get Pelosi
Is it just me who is disturbed by "intelligence officials" who may or may not be partisan Republicans, or persons otherwise interested in forestalling a full investigation of torture during the Bush administration, leaking memos that are intended to implicate Nancy Pelosi (who has some say in the matter of investigations, but who was disallowed by law from even discussing the classified briefings, let alone objecting to their content...) in foreknowledge of torture?

Pelosi has continued to deny she knew that torture had occurred, and sorry, but this strikes me as blackmail, especially considering Dick Cheney's sinister observation that he left a "stay behind" (or two or more?) inside the federal government...

Most importantly, we have not seen the contents of the leaked memo, so we really don't know what it says:
In a letter accompanying the new documents, CIA Director Leon Panetta explains that it is possible that the CIA’s description of the briefing is inaccurate. Panetta explains that its report is based on the “best recollections” of those in attendance and states that the Senate Intelligence Committee, to whom they sent the report, “will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened
Something around here stinks...

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posted by JReid @ 12:35 PM  
Why are priests still celibate, anyway?
The drama surrounding a handsome, popular Miami priest has stirred up the age-old question of celibacy in the Catholic Church. And while you've got to wonder if there would be this many protests and sympathy on behalf of Rev. Alberto Cutié', who was caught by tabloid photographers, snuggling on a Miami beach with a woman (the photos were bought by a Mexican tabloid, TV Notas), if the snugglee had been a guy. Just sayin' ...

Anyway, you'd think that in 2009, the Catholic Church, given the myriad sexual scandals and lawsuits and abuse cases it's weathered, would rethink the idea of barring healthy, marriageable men from the Profession. And this is the same church, after all, who protected priests who cuddled -- and worse -- with children.

Pedro Alberto has apologized, and he has already lost his parish, his radio gig, and possibly his future as a priest.

Which leads to the more salient point: just why ARE Catholic priests celibate? For one thing (as a former Catholic) you can be assured that it's not because it's in the Bible, whatever believers might say, and although it has been decreed by various popes. Celibacy for priests is considered, not a dogma, but a rule. The church could change it any time they wanted to. For the first 12 centuries of the Christian church (which at one time was all Catholic,) priests did marry, and popes were not infrequently the sons of prior popes. That passing on of papal power and wealth proved threatening to the Roman Empire, and that brings us to the real origins of celibacy, which date back to the 12th century, and those are, power, money and real estate:
... the early church was legalized and made the official religion of the roman empire in AD 313 by Emperor Constantine. The small persecuted catacomb church of Yashua suddenly hit the world stage as the official religion of a world power.

Bishops were given privileges and civil authority over areas and the hierarchy and power that we see today in the Roman Empire Church was born. The Roman Empire Church became extremely powerful and wealthy. The problem was that the priests were often given property by nobleman and women grateful for there service. These married priests had children and this wealth was being handed down to the children and out of the hands of the church.

“During this time, the wealth of the church was also increasing, a development not lost on Rome. Many priests were leaving church lands to their heirs, and others handed down land of their own through primogeniture. The Holy See saw that a return to the celibacy rule would result in a real-estate bonanza, and in about 1018 Pope Benedict VIII put teeth in the Elvira decree by forbidding descendents of priests to inherit property.

Later, in the 11th century, Pope Gregory VII, who had assumed vast power by declaring himself the supreme authority over all souls, went even further by proscribing married priests from saying mass; he also forbid parishioners from attending masses said by them. Scholars believe that the first written law forbidding the clergy to marry was finally handed down at the Second Lateran Council in 1139.”
Whatever the origins, is it time for the Catholic Church to rethink its rules and allow priests to marry? I'm not a Catholic anymore, so my opinion doesn't count, but from the outside looking in, it sounds like it might be a good idea.

Meanwhile, Cutié's love interest has been ID'd:

A Spanish-language television station in Miami on Thursday reported the identity of the woman at the center of the romantic scandal involving the Rev. Alberto Cutié, saying she lives in Miami Beach.

The woman, Ruhama Buni Canellis, of the 300 block of 20th Street, slammed the door when a reporter from América TV (Canal 41) approached her apartment seeking an interview.

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posted by JReid @ 10:11 AM  
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Bristol vs. Levi: abstinence is realistic/unrealistic
Okay, I officially feel really, really sorry for Bristol Palin. How much do you want to bet her mama bear (and her political ambitions) are what's behind Bristol's incredibly awkward campaign for abstinence?

Meanwhile, her baby's daddy, Levi, declares the campaign "unrealistic." (And is he moving to Seattle?)

Watch CBS Videos Online

And as it looks like the modeling thing might not be working out, I'm thinking reality show for this kid. Hey, maybe he should hook up with Octomom's agent?

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posted by JReid @ 1:12 PM  
No love for Charlie: Marco socks the gov en los cojones
It's Tan vs. Pretty in the Florida Republican race for U.S. Senate.
Starting for the Tan team: Charlie "Tooootally Straight Guy" Crist.
For Pretty: genetically blessed, bilingual right winger Marco Rubio.

Charlie Crist is the front runner in the race for Sideshow Mel's Senate seat according to all the polls, and he isn't even in the race yet. But that hasn't stopped both the Democrats, and the Club for Growth wing of the Republican Party from kicking him in the can.

First the DSCC launched a TV ad against the guvnah, accusing him of abandoning the state in its time of need by ... not ... declaring that he's running for Senate... an ad clearly meant to send Crist a message in advance, that the Democratic Party is willing to go to war against even an Obama-friendly GOP governor, who has supported the president when it counted, in order to get that seat.

Next, Marco Rubio jumped into the race (this week), and he apparently will lead the right wing of the party in opposition to Charlie, as payback for that Obama help-out on the stim. (The Florida Republican Party apparently learned the wrong lesson from the Arlen Specter switch. I'll bet they think Pat Toomey is going to be the next Senator from Pennsylvania, too...)

Charlie (center) and Marco (left) in happier looking times

Now, a pair of Democratic strategists have outed Rubio for doing the old Spanish-language double take -- saying one thing about Charlie in English and another en Espanol (hey, don't we often accuse terror-luvin' Arabs of doing that?) Generation Miami reports:
Two Marco Rubios announced their intention to run for Senate today. One Marco Rubio spoke in English and said his campaign will be “based on ideas” and isn’t “against anyone or anything.” The other was a Spanish-speaking Marco Rubio that accused President Obama on Univision of wanting to implement “American socialism here in the United States.” This wouldn’t be the first time you see this linguistic dichotomy. In May of last year, Rubio told former Herald reporter, Rui Ferreira, that Obama was a socialist.
And now for the juciest bit of all: the possibility that Jeb Bush, the miserable, but astonishingly, still sought after former governor (who has no love for Charlie,) could jump into the race on the side of the current GOP underdog, Rubio. Question: if Jeb jumps in and puts his money, name and rep on the line for Marco and Charlie still wins, does that mean that there IS still a moderate wing of the Republican Party, but it, like the crazy right wing part, is located only in the South...? Or does it just mean that the GOP really is dead as a doornail?

According to The Hill, step one for Marco is to Obamatize Crist:
Rubio has already begun trying to bring Crist’s numbers down, and he’s getting a big assist from Democrats wary of Crist’s bipartisan appeal in the general election.

For his part, Rubio has been indirectly hitting Crist for not offering an alternative to the Democrats — a nod to the stimulus — and repeatedly referring to him as “famous” — a line of attack similar to a Democratic tactic that has portrayed Crist as a golden boy lacking substance or results.
Um... doesn't his bipartisan appeal make him MORE electable, rather than less? Purity over electability strikes again...

And now for a blind item: behind the scenes, could someone or other be trying to talk Charlie into abandoning a Senate run, re-upping for governor, and reaping his blessings when Bill Nelson retires? (If I'm Charlie, I read the polls and I don't take that deal, but that's just me...) The cross-partisan plot thickens...

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posted by JReid @ 12:01 PM  
Rush vs. the recession
Here in South Florida (officially the Worst Talk Radio Market in the World...) Clear Channel has blown away three stations, converting the former Love 94 (a terrific smooth jazz station) to a computer-programmed party music station with no deejays, and the "progressive talk" station to an all-syndicated sports station (the market's fifth.) The third blow came last week, when dozens more employees were let go, as the company's FM hip-hop/R&B station was handed over to the New York computers, too. Clear Channel has layed off who knows how many people, maybe more than 100, including sales and programming staff, in South Florida. Across the country, the job loss has been in the thousands.

So you'll forgive me if I consider Clear Channel employee Rush Hudson Limbaugh III a total cretin -- if an unsurprising one -- when he, a resident of real estate-devastated Florida, and Madoff-hit Palm Beach no less, belittles the recession as the little people's problem, as ThinkP reports:

Last night, Rush Limbaugh came to Washington, D.C. to address the President’s Club Dinner, a meeting of wealthy donors and supporters of the Heritage Foundation. The audience included Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), as well as various millionaire trustees of the Heritage Foundation, like Thomas Saunders.

After more or less reprising his radio show routine, Limbaugh went on to brag about his $400 million contract with Clear Channel Communications. As he continued to gloat about his show’s success, Limbaugh mocked the idea that Americans are suffering, noting, “I’ve never had financially a down year” despite the “supposed” recession:

LIMBAUGH: But during all this growth I haven’t lost any audience. I’ve never had financially a down year. There’s supposedly a recession, but we’ve got - what is this May? Back in February we already had 102% of 2008 overbooked for 2009. [applause] So I always believed that if we’re going to have a recession, just don’t participate. [laughter]

(ThinkP also has the audio.) Which leads me to a question. Just what do the Dittoheads need to hear before they figure out that they're storming the Bastille on behalf of Marie Antoinette, and that the Queen is laughing her ass off at how stupid they are?

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posted by JReid @ 12:01 AM  
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
The war on Carrie Prejean
I will admit right here and now that I often can't stand hardcore activists, on either side of the political spectrum. They tend to attempt to persuade by tantrum, rather than by reason the way Dr. King or Ghandi did (think the truly psychotic Glenn Beck on the right, and the nasty Perez Hilton on the left...) So I'm going to go out on a limb here and say ENOUGH. Enough already with the war on Carrie Prejean. She's a freaking pageant contestant, for chrissakes. Can we stop trying to take her down like a roped mule? I mean, it's not like the woman stormed onto the Miss USA stage, grabbed the mike and made an empassioned speech opposing gay marriage. She was asked a question, and she answered it, in her own, Sarah Palin-y form of English (which is what bothered me more than her answer) but with her own, hardly unique opinion nonetheless. She didn't call for gay people to be burned at the stake as witches, or deported. And even if she had, who CARES??? SHE'S A PAGEANT CONTESTANT!!! Why do you need her approval so very badly? Can gay people no longer enjoy pageants anymore because of her? Does this woman have some secret power to nullify gay marriages in Vermont or Iowa that I don't know about???

Earth to lefties: the culture wars are over and our side won. Put down the bayonets and walk away slowly! Or at least tell me this: what could Ms. Prejean have done differently? As far as I'm concerned, there are only three alternatives:

1) Lie. She could have told Perez what he wanted to hear, and pretended to favor gay marriage (assuming she even knew who Perez Hilton was) or given a muddy non-answer that didn't indicate how she felt one way or another but which was more politically correct. The problem, of course, is that such an answer wouldn't have been good enough, and she still would have been attacked as an intolerant wench, and pummeled until she dropped to her knees and vowed to campaign for gay marriage in every state in the union...

2) Refuse to answer the question (on the grounds it might case The Dirty to release semi-nude pictures of her -- possibly as a minor -- and the entire Progressive Movement to declare her Public Implant Enemy Number One.) Problem: same as above.

3) Storm off the stage in tears (thus engendering the kind of sympathy that wins crowns.) Problem: wouldn't that have disqualified her?

If none of these is the answer, than the answer must be that despite her apparently silly assumptions, Ms. Prejean actually doesn't have the right to her own opinion if that opinion is politically incorrect. Right? So I guess by that standards, the left AGREED with ABC's decision to fire Bill Maher for speaking politically incorretly after 9/11? At that time, his opinion about the hijackers was in the distinct minority, and went against the grain of the country. Should he have been ostracized the way he was? Educate me, people. I'm stumped. This lady might not be the most progressive or articulate banana in the bunch, but the attempts to utterly destroy her, including by the Miss USA pageant itself, have, I think, crossed the line.

Meanwhile: Miss Cali vows to fight back. Good luck with that. That crown's as good as gone, lady.


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posted by JReid @ 11:26 PM  
Chris Matthews takes down another one
Chris Matthews gets Mike Pence to burble an admission that the fact of evolution is above his pay grade. Watch and learn:

Sometimes Chris is just that good.

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posted by JReid @ 11:21 PM  
The Savage-free nation
Great Britain bans the Weiner. And the Weiner threatens to make like a liberal and sue, but only after calling the U.K. minister who "named and shamed" him and 15 other undesriables, a "witch." Specifically, Savage said:
"Well, I don't know who this pork eater is, but I have a question for her. I hear she is the Home Secretary of the former England. When has this witch heard my show, since it's not syndicated in England? When has this witch listened to my program in England? And which show or shows is she referring to?"
Yep. That'll get you back onto the tarmac at Heathrow. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Savage told The Chronicle in an exclusive interview this morning that he was shocked to learn the news that he was included in the British government's first-ever list of nearly two dozen people from across the globe who are banned from entering the nation for allegedly fostering extremism or hatred.

... The list of high-profile banned visitors was released by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who published 16 of the 22 names of people banned from the country since October. They include Muslim extremists, jailed Russian gang members and an Israeli settler.

Smith cited "public interest" reasons for not disclosing the other six names, but said that the country wanted to establish what kind of standards it would set in allowing in foreign visitors.

"I think it's important that people understand the sorts of values and sorts of standards that we have here, the fact that it's a privilege to come and the sort of things that mean you won't be welcome in this country," Smith told Britain's GMTV.

... His companions on the British list include Stephen "Don" Black, who founded a white supremacist Web site in Florida, and preacher Fred Phelps, who leads an anti-gay church in Topeka, Kan., and who has been to San Francisco numerous times to mount anti-gay protests.

Others on the list: Yunis Al-Astal, a Hamas lawmaker in Gaza, Egyptian cleric Safwat Hijazi, Israeli settler Mike Guzovsky, who has been accused by British authorities of being linked to military training camps.

Two leaders of a Russian gang, Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, were also barred; they served more than a decade in Russian prisons for racially based murders of 19 people, according to the Associated Press.

Savage told The Chronicle that being included in such a crowd is no laughing matter -- and he is now preparing legal action against Smith, he said.

"This lunatic ... is linking me up with Nazi skinheads who are killing people in Russia, she's putting me in a league with Hamas murderers who kill Jews on busses," he said. "I have never advocated violence ... I've been on the air 15 years. My views may be inflammatory, but they're not violent in any way."

as the right declares free speech to be dead. Do they know that our Constitution doesn't apply in the mother country? Meanwhile, on his radio show today, Lou Dobbs declared that he actually likes the "coming to this country is a privilege" bit. I see a new take on illegal immigration coming!

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posted by JReid @ 11:07 PM  
Unwinding torture, II
In case you missed it, the New York Times describes the unraveling of the Bush administration's torture program:

WASHINGTON — The proclamation that President George W. Bush issued on June 26, 2003, to mark the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture seemed innocuous, one of dozens of high-minded statements published and duly ignored each year.

The United States is “committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example,” Mr. Bush declared, vowing to prosecute torture and to prevent “other cruel and unusual punishment.”

But inside the Central Intelligence Agency, the statement set off alarms. The agency’s top lawyer, Scott W. Muller, called the White House to complain. The statement by the president could unnerve the C.I.A. interrogators Mr. Bush had authorized to use brutal tactics on members of Al Qaeda, Mr. Muller said, raising fears that political winds could change and make them scapegoats.

White House officials reaffirmed their support for the C.I.A. methods. But the exchange was a harbinger of the conflict between the coercive interrogations and the United States’ historical stance against torture that would deeply divide the Bush administration and ultimately undo the program.

Meanwhile, the excuses for not prosecuting Bush administration officials for war crimes grow thinner and thinner. In fact, at this point, there are none.

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posted by JReid @ 12:23 AM  
Monday, May 04, 2009
Are you smarter than a fourth grader?
Condi Rice does battle with a grade schooler over torture, and declares that fear and terror inside the Bush administration led to the now infamous creation of an American torture program:

More on what the child REALLY wanted to ask Condi here.

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posted by JReid @ 10:37 PM  
Democrats for sale
The "dirty dozen" Democrats who blocked Dick Durbin's bankruptcy "cramdown" legislation will, no doubt, rear their ugly heads again when healthcare reform comes up for debate in the Senate. Chief among the bad guys, besides Benedict Arlen Specter, who let's face it, can't be counted on by either party, is Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, who not only has no use for homeowners when he can get so much money from big banks, he also has no interest in reforming healthcare if it involves the option of a public plan. Per ThinkProgress:
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), whose biggest campaign donor is the insurance industry, said he’s not interested in a public option. HuffPost reports why:

Nelson’s problem, he told CQ, is that the public plan would be too attractive and would hurt the private insurance plans. “At the end of the day, the public plan wins the game,” Nelson said. Including a public option in a health plan, he said, was a “deal breaker.”

Why so hard hearted, Ben? Could it be that your biggest contributors include insurance companies? Per, we find that over the years, Nelson's campaign kitty has been significantly fattened by the industries he's protecting now:

Sen. Ben Nelson:
Berkshire Hathaway$65,800$57,800$8,000
Level 3 Communications$56,000$47,000$9,000
Nelnet Inc$49,100$34,100$15,000
Omaha Steaks$36,100$36,100$0
Blue Cross/Blue Shield$31,400$16,400$15,000
Lawyers/Law Firms$515,785$366,518$149,267
Securities & Investment$278,799$187,199$91,600
Health Professionals$233,426$78,326$155,100

Nelson, who was first elected in 2000, raised more money for his 2006 re-election campaign than he ever has, before or since, and he out-fundraised the average Senate member two-to-one:

When you buy Ben Nelson, apparently you get what you pay for. Other potential Democratic opponents to real healthcare reform have similar fundraising profiles. Max Baucus of Montana is also heavy on insurance and financial services companies, and his top five industry contributors include insurance, financial services, health professionals and pharmaceutical companies. Not surprisingly, he too opposes a public plan that would compete with private insurers. And whither Evan Bayh, for whom insurers are only number five on his Big Industries list...

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posted by JReid @ 12:22 PM  
Under penalty of death
As a country that imposes the death penalty ourselves, including, at times, to the innocent and the mentally retarded, and as a country that now is part of the family of torturing nations, it might seem a bit ... um ... awkward ... to lecture another country about putting someone to death. But in this case, America should take the chance:

Samantha Orobator "is facing death by firing squad for drug trafficking," said Clare Algar, executive director of Reprieve, a London-based human rights group.

Orobator, 20, was arrested on August 5, said Khenthong Nuanthasing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman.

She was alleged to have been carrying just over half a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of heroin, Reprieve lawyer Anna Morris told CNN by phone from Vientiane, the Laotian capital. "For that amount of heroin the sentence is normally the death penalty," she said.

Orobator's mother Jane found out in January her daughter was pregnant -- more than four months after she was arrested, her mother said.

Jane Orobator heard the news from the British Foreign Office, which has been monitoring the case, the mother told CNN by phone from Dublin, where she lives.

To contact the group Reprieve, which is organizing the effort to save Ms. Orobator, click here.

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posted by JReid @ 9:38 AM  
R.I.P. Jack Kemp

A reasonable man, and a Republican. They don't make many like Jack Kemp anymore. I'm guessing that because he played professional sports, Kemp had a broader view of things like race relations, and while he was a notorious supply-sider, he had tremendous humanity in dealing with things like housing, race, and affirmative action, calling himself "the original bleeding heart conservative." I just remembers seeing him on the Sunday shows, and knowing he was a former Buffalo Bill, which as a kid who was really into football, was cool with me. If the GOP had more like Jack Kemp (and they didn't run them out of the party,) they'd be far better off.

Rest in peace, Mr. Kemp.

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posted by JReid @ 12:10 AM  
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Pew survey finds Christians back lions in torture debate
The Pew survey so many people are talking and blogging about, which found that the more a person goes to church in America, the more likely they are to support the use of torture. Jack Cafferty dealt with it in his CNN segment last week:

The survey has produced mass consternation, mostly from people outside the world of evangelical Christianity. Actual Christians, have mostly reacted with sort of sad disbelief, or by deflecting the issue, when they've reacted at all. I suppose many Christians worry that the survey will provide yet another excuse to bash their faith as witless and primitive. Of course, it will, and many on the left, including atheists, will take their shots. But as a Christian myself, if a fairly tortured one (no pun intended,) I do wonder why frequent church-goers would favor the tactics of Caesar over the teachings of Jesus... I can think of three reasons right off the bat:

1) Partisanship. White, evangelical Christians are both the majority of torture proponents, and the most likely to be cultural conservatives who vote Republican, and to have supported George W. Bush. Had a Democratic president used torture, I suspect the poll would have shown fewer evangelicals supporting it.

2) Fundamentalism. All religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam -- all have their fundamentalist elements, and the further you go along that trajectory, the more violent the tendencies become. Think Jewish settlers on the West Bank, Islamist jihadis and Christian extremists like the Ku Klux Klan, violent anti-abortion activists like Randall Terry, and the like. What they all have in common is a belief that everyone other than them is going to hell. When you believe that, sympathy for the devil-bound is probably hard to come by.

3) Religious xenophobia. The Pew survey specifically asks about the use of torture against "suspected terrorists," who probably everyone taking the survey presumed to be Muslims, given the times we live in. And many Christians of the right wing variety have a strong, shall we say, intolerance, for alternative faiths, and probably consider practitioners of Islam (who they likely presume are the people being subjected to torture) to be inherently evil -- "the enemy" -- and whatever might be done to them to "protect America and our way of life" is justified.

There is a fourth: and it is the possibility that while they love to "call on his name," many Christians, like the Calvinists before them, think Jesus is fine to revere, but they don't really buy into his "new age" philosophy. They prefer the hardness and certainty of the Old Testament to the lovestruck view of the New. There is an element of fundamentalism that won't even accept change when it happened 2000 years ago, and that in a sick way, is drawn to violence as a way to achieve religious "victory" over the evils of modernity, something that's true of extremist Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. There is a certain violence inherent in all fundamentalism, and I suspect that's why so many evangelicals were drawn to "The Passion of the Christ," with al its violent imagery. [Still from the movie shown at left]

Ironically, Jesus wouldn't have fit in with the crowd that claims him most passionately in America. Compared to them, he would have seemed an absolute hippie, with all that "blessed are the meek" stuff. (Indeed, in Jesus' time, he was rejected by his own people because he wasn't violent enough against the Romans...)

That said, I think evangelicals need to take a good hard look at themselves, and ask whether one can be both "pro life," and, as many other commenters have said, pro gun, pro torture and pro death penalty, or whether perhaps some Christians have a little too much in common with the Pharisees. In the end, the bargain of "torture for (alleged) safety" is no bargain at all. As this very smart guy says:
A nation that turns its bravest and best into torturers instead of warriors has dishonored itself. There are worse things than losing a war and that is one of them.

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posted by JReid @ 11:07 PM  
As Arlen Specter makes the case for his own defeat
in the Democratic primary. Today, on "Meet the Press," a feisty Benedict Arlen stated his case firmly: he is not now, nor has he ever been, a loyal Democrat. Oh, and he absolutely, positively will NOT support a public/single payer health care plan, or, as we already know, the Employee Free Choice Act. Watch:

All I can say is, "Go Sestak!" And as for Harry Reid: you've been suckered again. And your constituents, both at home in Nevada and in the Democratic caucus, deserve to know: just what did you get in exchange for Specter's disloyalty, other than the humiliation of already having promised him a gavel?


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posted by JReid @ 10:36 PM  
Friday, May 01, 2009
Friday reading: Justice David Souter
A quick bio of the retiring Justice here. (He's a Harvard man and Rhodes Scholar, former A.G. of New Hampshire, lifelong bachelor, nominated by George Bush I, and disappointing the wingers ever since...) More here. Souter is hardly a liberal, and his decisions have veered from those that please the left (on vouchers) to those that please big corporations and developers (on downloading and "takings"):
Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002): Wrote a fierce dissent arguing that school voucher programs violate the First Amendment's establishment clause.

MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster (2005): Wrote a unanimous 9-0 ruling stating that peer-to-peer Internet file databases that profit from distribution of copyrighted materials can be sued for copyright infringement.

Kelo v. City of New London (2005): Joined a 5-4 majority ruling which stated that cities may condemn privately-owned real estate as part of a redevelopment plan under eminent domain, with "just compensation" given under the Fifth Amendment. Although Justice Stevens wrote the unpopular ruling, Souter was targeted in a special way by officials in his hometown of Weare, New Hampshire, who attempted to claim his family home under eminent domain and turn it into a "Lost Liberty Hotel." The proposal, which in any case clearly exceeded the boundaries set under Kelo and never would have passed constitutional muster, was defeated by a 3-to-1 margin in a March 2006 ballot initiative.
More Souter decisions can be found here.

Replacing him will likely involve all-out war for the wingers, who are already sizing up and attempting to knock down, potential nominees. This morning, Glenn Beck had a guy on from National Review who even named Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick, a close friend of the president's and fellow Harvard man, on the basis of his "racial extremism." The guy stumbled around when asked for examples... The other potential front-runners are all women:
At the top of the most-mentioned lists are federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor of New York, who is both female and Hispanic; Elena Kagan, Obama's solicitor general, who may not have been in the job long enough to go to the Court, and Diane Wood, a judge on the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit who worked in the Justice Department under both Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Also mentioned: Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D).
And the wingers hate them all ... More on the potential picks, including Gov. Patrick, at the WaPo.

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posted by JReid @ 12:00 PM  
Condi/Nixon: if the president authorizes it, it's not torture
Condi Rice was confronted by a Stanford student about U.S. policies on torture and indefinite detention, and got a little sassy with him while pulling a Nixon, saying that essentially, if the president authorizes it (torture) it's not illegal. (I rented "Frost, Nixon" for this weekend, and am now guessing it's going to seem very familiar...) Keith Olbermann breaks it down, and talks to John Dean, who says Rice may have just admitted to her part in a criminal conspiracy to commit war crimes. Watch the entire exchange, as recorded by the poster, who lives in the dorm where it took place. Condi's big admission comes at about 5:26.

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posted by JReid @ 11:40 AM  
The GOP makes it official: they ARE the party of torture
Top GOP leaders put out a new ad embracing the Bush torture era, Gitmo, and all the other ways their former, failed president, disgraced this country. Watch:

What's shocking is that elected Republicans have now gone on the record as favoring torture, something that up until now, only their radio talking heads, bloggers and neocon "think tankers" have done out loud. Now we can officially call the Republican Party the Party of Torture. Meanwhile, a Republican lawyer makes the latest pro-torture case: waterboarding isn't torture because ... wait for it ... the detainee knows in advance that the interrogators aren't going to kill him (are you listening, Sean Hannity???) Seriously... Writes Daphne Eviatar in the Washington Monthly:

... in a recent conversation I had with Republican lawyer David Rivkin, a former Reagan and first Bush administration official and an outspoken supporter of the second Bush administration’s legal justifications for its interrogation tactics, Rivkin explained the sort of reasoning that former OLC lawyers Bybee, John Yoo and Steven Bradbury were employing.

Rivkin said the authorized “techniques” really didn’t rise to the level of torture or “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” as outlawed by the Convention Against Torture and the U.S. law implementing it, because none of the methods inflicted “severe physical or mental pain or suffering,” as the statute defines torture. One of the statute’s definitions of severe mental suffering, however, is the threat of imminent death. (As Spencer wrote here, Bybee himself wrote that waterboarding involves the threat of imminent death, although he still somehow concluded that it wasn’t torture.)

Well, Rivkin argued, waterboarding and those other techniques couldn’t have been torture, because despite the apparent threat, the detainees knew they weren’t going to get killed.

And how did they know that?

“Assuming even an average level of intelligence, you would have to be an idiot to think that they’re going to kill you,” Rivkin said. “So the fact that you’d be killed deliberately is not a plausible scenario.”

In other words, it's okay to torture someone, as long as they're smart enough to figure out that you're not actually going to kill them. ... huh??? Rivkin's evidence supporting his theory comes from a place you've actually got to read to believe: Soviet gulags. Seriously:

“I’ve read lots of memoirs of people languishing in gulags … One thing that emerges very clearly is actually how, despite their horribly grim circumstances, the prisoners actually welcomed interrogations. As a way to break the oppressive monotony of the cell or working conditions. So they always welcome even the most sadistic and unpleasant interrogators. And to the extent that you’re worried about being shot eventually, during interrogations you’re not worried about that. We’re all fairly rational beings, isn’t that a rational point?”

Wow. This guy hasn't been disbarred yet, huh...?

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posted by JReid @ 11:22 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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