Saturday, September 30, 2006

Corker's 30 Room Mansion and Six SUV's (video)

The Fabulous Life of Bob Corker


"Harold Ford Jr.'s newest add spoofs "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" to highlight Republican Bob Corker's tremendous personal wealth. 'Bob Corker lives in a 30 room mansion, is worth over $200 million, and owns six SUVs,' says the announcer in an upbeat tone parodying 'Lifestyles' host Robin Leach. 'As Mayor, he took three pay increases, while freezing the pay of Chattanooga's police and firefighters...As Senator, who do you think he'll look out for?'"

Meanwhile, Huffington Post reports that it's 39 days before midterm elections and Corker has just fired his campaign manager and "hired a new media consultant who has previously worked for President Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California."

Also, Corker is opening a new Nashville office at this late date. As the DSCC says, it appears that the Corker campaign is "in disarray."

Update: Tennessee Progressive Report has more details about the Corker campaign shake-up -- via Kleinheider, who says in the comments at the TPR link: "..the Corker campaign did not fire the campaign manager..."

Jagshemash, Premier Bush


Borat and Bush
by Maureen Dowd

Borat Sagdiyev, the Kazakh television reporter with the bushy mustache and cheap gray suit, showed up at the White House this week with an invitation for the man he calls the “mighty U.S. warlord.”

He wanted to invite “Premier George Walker Bush,” along with “other American dignitaries” like Mel Gibson and O.J. Simpson, to a screening of his new documentary about his anti-Semitic, misogynistic, scatological trek across America, followed by a cocktail party/summit meeting, no doubt featuring Kazakh-mopolitans made with fermented horse urine.

“We’ll make discussion of cooperation between the two countries at Hooters,” Borat told a befuddled White House guard.

Borat, of course, is Sacha Baron Cohen, the successor to Peter Sellers, a wildly original and brainy Cambridge grad and observant Jew from a distinguished British family. His HBO characters, the rapper Ali G, the fashion reporter Bruno, and Borat, collide with reality, exposing prejudice and puncturing pomposity.

The real Kazakhstan dictator was honored by President Bush at a state dinner this week. Nursultan Nazarbayev may have a corrupt and authoritarian regime where political opponents have been known to die very, very suddenly, but, hey, he’s got oil and he’s an ally in the war on terror. Respec’, as Ali G would say.

So Mr. Cohen popped up as well, loping around D.C. to promote his new movie, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” The satirist held a news conference in front of the Kazakh Embassy — as real officials inside fumed — to proclaim that any protestations that Kazakhstan treats women equally or tolerates all religions are “disgusting fabrications” by “evil nitwits” in rival Uzbekistan.

Mr. Cohen is a genius at turning reality into farce, taking lowbrow humor to high places, but he has met his match in W.

With the publication of parts of the classified intelligence report showing that the Bush administration has expanded the terrorist threat, as well as the books “State of Denial” by Bob Woodward, “Hubris” by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, and “Fiasco” by Thomas Ricks, all detailing the bumbling and infighting of Bush officials on Iraq, it’s a tossup as to where we can find the most ludicrous, offensive and juvenile behavior — in the new Borat movie or the Bush White House. Let’s compare and contrast:

At a Southern society dinner, an etiquette coach teaches Borat how to excuse himself to go to the bathroom. But when he returns to the table with a toilet doggie bag, no one laughs.

W. and Karl Rove “shared an array of fart jokes,” Mr. Woodward writes. A White House aide put a toy that made a flatulence sound under Karl’s chair for the senior staff meeting on July 7. When they learned of the terror attacks in London, the prank was postponed. But several weeks later, “the device was placed under Rove’s chair and activated during the senior staff meeting. Everyone laughed.”

Borat likes to wrestle guys naked. Karl liked to show W. his battery-powered “Redneck Horn,” blasting obscenities and insults like “Hey, hogneck, who taught you how to drive?” in a Southern drawl.

Family values in Borat’s comic portrait of Kazakhstan are reflected by his sister, an incestuous hooker, the town rapist, a cow in the bedroom, and the annual Pamplona-like “Running of the Jew.”

Mr. Woodward writes about Bush family values, or the “Running of the WASP.” Even though Poppy Bush found his old G.O.P. nemesis Donald Rumsfeld “arrogant, self-important, too sure of himself and Machiavellian,” the author notes, W. chose Rummy as defense chief, feeling “it was a chance to prove his father wrong.”

Borat had a fantasy life in which he would bag — literally — Pamela Anderson and yoke her happily ever after to a plow on his farm. Dick Cheney had a fantasy life in which he would bag Saddam’s W.M.D. by occupying Iraq. In July 2003, Vice and Scooter Libby pored over fragments of intelligence intercepts, trying to figure out where on earth those elusive W.M.D. were. Mr. Woodward notes that Cheney staffers even called the chief weapon hunter with satellite coordinates for possible hidden caches.

Borat thinks Pamela is silly to object to animal torture, just as Vice thinks the press is silly to object to prisoner torture.

After much chaos, Borat gives up on Pamela and marries a prostitute. After much chaos, and even though Laura wants Rummy out, W. sticks with him at Vice’s insistence.

No doubt. For lowbrow antics and silly stunts, W. is the clear winner. Respec’.

Friday, September 29, 2006

It's My War and I’ll Stay If I Want To


"I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me." --George W. Bush

That's what the megalomaniac in the White House told "key Republicans" during a discussion of the War on Iraq, which took place in the White House -- according to Bob Woodward's new book.

In other words, in Bush's view, the U.S. Government is a one-man show. And it's his show.

Woodward Turns on Bush

Woodward is set to appear on Sunday's edition of 60 Minutes to talk about his new book, State of Denial: Bush at War III, which will hit bookstores on Monday.

The situation is getting much worse, says Woodward, despite what the White House and the Pentagon are saying in public. "The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon [saying], 'Oh, no, things are going to get better,'" he tells Wallace. "Now there’s public, and then there’s private. But what did they do with the private? They stamp it secret. No one is supposed to know," says Woodward.

"The insurgents know what they are doing. They know the level of violence and how effective they are. Who doesn't know? The American public," Woodward tells Wallace.

Today's New York Times scoops the 60 Minutes show, "The book describes a White House riven by dysfunction and division over the war."

George Allen -- A Racist and A Liar Too



"I heard to my left, the ‘n’ word, and I heard it again, and I looked around and heard it again," she said. “And there was this fellow sitting on the ground." She says that when she learned later that he was George Allen, the son of the Washington Redskins coach, she was "crestfallen."

Pat Waring, 75, of Chesterton, Md., first brought her story to MSNBC when she contacted us in a direct phone call. We then conducted a series of interviews. Waring says that at a sports match in the late 1970's, Allen repeatedly use the ‘n’ word to describe blacks.

"I just didn't think in the late 70's people would be so ugly and so overt about it and so public," Waring said.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Colbert -- The Word: Opposition Party



"Because basic human rights are something we all need to compromise on."

"Let’s face it, habeas corpus is pre 9/11 thinking."

GOP 'Freaking Out' Over Ford vs. Corker Race


It begins to look like Tennessee will indeed send a Democrat to the Senate.

Kos observes: "CQ updates this race to no clear favorite. The GOP is freaking out about this one. They're so used to the "liberal, liberal, liberal" mantra, that they're at a loss about what to do given that it's not working against Ford (D). His lack of liberal-ness is going to drive us crazy when he is Senator. Right now, it's going to help get him elected."

Yeah, well, we are going to return the favor and drive Ford crazy about his illiberal bent when he's elected, or when 'all your Congress belongs to us,' as Bushie would say.

Harold Ford is not a leader, when we move the country to the left, Ford will follow.

The New York Times also observes that Tennessee's GOP senate candidate is not doing so well. Certainly not when you consider that this is a red state. Some blame Bush, but I think Terri Schiavo's doctor -- or the dull and charismatically challenged Bill Frist -- deserves a fair share of the credit.

Corker, himself, is far from blameless. The GOP candidate with precious little political experience is apparently petrified of the national media. Meet the Press has been after Corker for nine months now, but Corker still says no.

Like Harold Ford says, Bob Corker is "a wimp."

Speaking of freaking out, Bush was in Tennessee -- again , raising money for Corker.

Bush can raise money, but he sure can't raise poll numbers. Actually, The Decider's visits seem to spark Corker's falling poll numbers. So the GOP is sending in the only really popular Republican in the country - Laura Bush.

But just in case Laura's sweetness can't save Corker, "Karl Rove is working on the Corker campaign."

That means that any day now, we can expect our compliant redstate media to suddenly discover the shocking rovian truth -- Harold Ford is not only an ultra liberal, but he's a militant gay! And [gasp] he's Black too!

Update: See Corker Meltdown at dkos.

Thanks to Alice for the graphic -- seen at 10,000 Monkeys and a Camera.

Related TGW Post: Corker Hearts Bush

A Platform of Bigotry


Allen’s Bigotry
by Bob Herbert

George Allen, the clownish, Confederate-flag-loving senator from Virginia, has apparently been scurrying around for many years, spreading his racially offensive garbage like a dog that should be curbed. With harsh new allegations emerging daily, it’s fair to ask:

Where are the voices of reason in the Republican Party — the nonbigoted voices? Why haven’t we heard from them on this matter?

Mr. Allen has long been touted as one of the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. But this is a man who has displayed the quintessential symbol of American bigotry, the Confederate battle flag, on the wall of his living room; who put up a hangman’s noose as a decoration in his law office; who used an ethnic slur — macaca — in an attempt to publicly embarrass a 20-year-old American student of Indian descent; and who, according to the recollections of a number of his acquaintances, frequently referred to blacks as niggers.

The senator has denied the last allegation. But his accusers are low-keyed, straight-arrow professionals who have no obvious ax to grind. They, frankly, seem believable.

Dr. R. Kendall Shelton, a North Carolina radiologist who played football with Mr. Allen at the University of Virginia in the 1970’s, recalled a number of incidents, including one in which Mr. Allen said that blacks in Virginia knew their place. Dr. Shelton said in a television interview that he believed then, and still believes, that Mr. Allen was a racist.

Beyond the obvious problems with the senator’s comments and his behavior is the fact that he so neatly fits into the pattern of racial bigotry, insensitivity and exploitation that has characterized the G.O.P. since it adopted its Southern strategy some decades ago. Once it was the Democrats who provided a comfortable home for public officials with attitudes and policies that were hostile to blacks and other minorities. Now the deed to that safe house has been signed over to the G.O.P.

Ronald Reagan may be revered by Republicans, but I can never forget that he opposed both the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of the mid-1960’s, and that as a presidential candidate he kicked off his 1980 general election campaign in Philadelphia, Miss., which just happened to be where three civil rights workers — Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney — were savagely murdered in 1964.

During his appearance in Philadelphia, Reagan told a cheering crowd, “I believe in states’ rights.”

The lynching of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney (try to imagine the terror they felt throughout their ordeal) is the kind of activity symbolized by the noose that Senator Allen felt compelled to put up in his office.

One of the senator’s Republican colleagues, Conrad Burns, is up for re-election in Montana. He’s got an ugly racial history, too. Several years ago, while campaigning for a second term, Mr. Burns was approached by a rancher who wanted to know what life was like in Washington. The rancher said, “Conrad, how can you live back there with all those niggers?”

Senator Burns said he told the rancher it was “a hell of a challenge.”

The senator later apologized. But he has bounced from one racially insensitive moment to another over the years, including one occasion when he referred to Arabs as “ragheads.”

You don’t hear President Bush or the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, or any other prominent Republicans blowing the whistle on the likes of George Allen and Conrad Burns because Republicans across the board, so-called moderates as well as conservatives, have benefited tremendously from the party’s bigotry. Allen and Burns may have been more blatant and buffoonish than is acceptable, but they have all been singing from the same racially offensive hymnal.

From the Willie Horton campaign to the intimidation of black voters in Florida and elsewhere to the use of every racially charged symbol and code word imaginable — it’s all of a piece.

The late Lee Atwater, in a 1981 interview, explained the evolution of the Southern strategy:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger! By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

It’s been working beautifully for the G.O.P. for decades. Why would the president or anyone else curtail a winning strategy now?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Olbermann Gets Death Threat - NY Post Laughs



So Keith Olbermann gets a death threat - a fake anthrax letter - and treats it like it might be the real thing, cause he's not a fucking mindreader, and the New York Post laughs their fucking head off.

Did the Post laugh when Congressmen received their anthrax letters?

What is wrong with right wingers? Can we please give them a pill? For god's sake, somebody send these people to behavior modification camp.

"POWDER PUFF SPOOKS KEITH"

September 27, 2006 -- MSNBC loudmouth Keith Olbermann flipped out when he opened his home mail yesterday. The acerbic host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" was terrified when he opened a suspicious-looking letter with a California postmark and a batch of white powder poured out. A note inside warned Olbermann, who's a frequent critic of President Bush's policies, that it was payback for some of his on-air shtick. The caustic commentator panicked and frantically called 911 at about 12:30 a.m., sources told The Post's Philip Messing. An NYPD HazMat unit rushed to Olbermann's pad on Central Park South, but preliminary tests indicated the substance was harmless soap powder. However, that wasn't enough to satisfy Olbermann, who insisted on a checkup. He asked to be taken to St. Luke's Hospital, where doctors looked him over and sent him home. Whether they gave him a lollipop on the way out isn't known. Olbermann had no comment.

Don't forget that the tawdry New York Post is the very same tabloid that Condi Rice chose to honor with an exclusive interview after Bill Clinton expressed outrage at the smear tactics of Fox News.

The paper of choice of the Secretary of State.

I'm sure the mafia prefers the Post as well.

Here's the email for the person responsible, via Crooks and Liars -- "Paula Froelich" . . . Here’s a public email if you want to send Paula your thoughts paula.froelich@nypost.com (please show more class than Paula)"

Via Shakespeare's Sister

Update!!! Via Past Deadline -- "At 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on MSNBC's "Countdown" show tonight, not only will Olbermann be addressing the powder incident; he will also take time to point out how the NY Post (via Page Six) may have interfered with an FBI investigation of terroristic threats with its mocking item."

TN Hate Amendment Campaign Yearning for Yard Signs


Nashville is crowded with pro marriage equality Vote No On 1 yard signs. I see them everywhere I go.

Here it is just a little more than a month until election day -- when Tennesseans get to vote on the alleged christian inspired question of writing discrimination into the state constitution -- and the Hate Amendment campaigners still don't have their yard signs!

Every two weeks or so, the alleged christian leaders of the Hate Amendment campaign tell their supporters to stand by, the hate yard signs are coming. But they're still not here. What's the delay? Did they have trouble finding a homophobic printer?

What will the Hate Amendment signs look like? The suspense is killing me. Since my neighborhood has a dire shortage of bigots, I fear that I may never get to see the long awaited Vote Yes on the Hate Amendment signs.

Thankfully, a local activist has provided me with a good idea of what the long awaited pro Hate Amendment signs are going to look like:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Click on the sign to visit the Hate Amendment crew over at the alleged RealMarriage.org. - which is headed up by State Senator David Fowler. Senator Fowler is the President of the Focus on the Family affiliate, the Family Action Council of Tennessee.

Talk about a conflict of interest. Here's a state senator taking money from tax-payers for the job of representing them, while taking money from bigots for the job of depriving tax-payers of civil rights. Why is this legal? Or is it?

Fowler is not running for re-election. Senator Fowler is supposed to be retiring from the job of taking funds from tax-payers while discriminating against tax-payers, but we are still waiting.

You can pick up your Vote No On 1 yard sign at the campaign headquarters: 1709 Church Street, Nashville, TN 37203. Or, if you aren't in Nashville, you can order them online and/or make an online donation. If you are in Nashville, the Vote No On 1 campaign can use some volunteers.

And you don't want to miss the upcoming demonstration outside the James Dobson get-the-hate-vote-out event here in Nashville.

Media Watch: The Tennessean Sounds Like Lou Dobbs


The Tennessean, Nashville's major daily newspaper, has a well-documented record of being insensitive to minorities. In other words, the paper routinely uses the language of the radical right.

It's a damn shame, because the paper was once a shining advocate for the civil rights of minorities. But those days are long gone.

It's a schizoid paper. After it was bought by Gannett, it began to try to please every potential advertiser, or everybody. But it couldn't forget that it had a history of being a liberal paper.

The change became stark after Bush was selected in 2000.

The editorials try to be liberal, but the news stories, the letters to the editor, and the majority of the columns aim to please right wingers.

But if the presidential election were held tomorrow, and Tennessee helped vote in a Democratic president, the paper would begin to move oh so gently to the left.

In other words, The Tennessean is like the majority of Tennessee's elected officials. It is a conformist. It is a follower, not a leader. There was a time when being a follower meant embracing Jim Crow. The Tennessean was a much better paper in the 1960's. In those days it was a leader.

Right wingers and other insensitive folks like to demonize people who are not like them. Lou Dobbs routinely refers to undocumented immigrants as "illegals." By failing to add the word "immigrant," Dobbs effectively reduces individuals with complex stories to villains. The term "illegals" dehumanizes and demonizes all kinds of people, including the grandparents and siblings of legal immigrants, or people whose biggest crime is the desire to be with their families.

Here's The Tennessean, a.k.a. The Southern Baptist Times --- and Harold Ford, Jr. --- sounding like Lou Dobbs:

N.C. torn on system to deport illegals.

His Republican opponent, Jim Bryson, wants to use the Highway Patrol to chase illegals.

Tapping federal database could flag illegals, aid in deportation.

Hiring, lodging illegals could bring trouble.

"If I had a record like Bob Corker of hiring and being cited, then trying to dodge responsibility for hiring illegals, one can understand his approach … of trying to lie on his opponent," Ford said ..."

Candidates from both parties are willing to talk about border control and sanctions on employers who hire illegals.

The George 'Macaca' Allen Withdrawal Watch


Virginia Centrist is providing continuous converage of the George Allen meltdown. Yesterday, right after the Salon story broke, the blogger announced the beginning of the George Allen Withdrawal Watch.

In response to the Salon story -- charging that Senator 'Macaca' Allen was guilty of some seriously racist behavior during his college days, including using the "N" word -- Allen staged a photo-op, complete with Black pastors, and, like a good Republican, denied everything.

The seriously racist behavior included:

"Allen said he came to Virginia because he wanted to play football in a place where 'blacks knew their place.'"

"He used the N-word on a regular basis back then," said Shelton, who was in Salon.com.

During a hunting outing with Allen and another teammate, Shelton says Allen drove the three to a black neighborhood and "he proceeded to take the doe's head and stuff it into a mailbox."

Shortly after Allen denied ever using the "N" word, Virginia's most famous and esteemed political scientist, Larry Sabato said on Hardball:

"The fact is that he did use the 'n' word, whether he's denying it or not. He did use it."

But, hey, if you're still not convinced that Senator George Allen is not fit to be in the senate, maybe you haven't heard that the racist Virginia cowboy from California has also been known to spit at people.

The George Allen Withdrawal Watch is not to be confused with the George Allen Resignation Watch over at Not Larry Sabato.

Senator George 'Macaca' Allen's African-American Heritage?

Meanwhile, Marc Fisher at the Washington Post has a suggestion that could liven this race up.

Fisher says, "I would inquire whether [Allen's mother's] land of origin [North Africa] makes the senator an African American, but I fear the ensuing uproar would force elections officials to just cancel the whole campaign."

Heh. I want to see the speech in which George "Macaca" Allen embraces his African-American heritage.

Update: Check out the George Allen Insult Generator - there's an insult for you.

Graphic via the Virginia Centrist

Another Clinton Seduction


Clinton's Charms
By MAUREEN DOWD

At least Jerry Falwell didn’t say Hillary smelled of sulfur.

But he did say that if she runs for president, she will bedevil evangelicals and fire them up to vote Republican with a dark force exceeding even Lucifer.

I suppose, since Senator Clinton’s shrill right-wing critics usually portray her as a witch, being promoted to devil can count as a feminist triumph. And she’s in good bipartisan company with the president, who was also cast as the devil by a world-class nutbar.

Hillary is morphing from workhorse back to show horse, paving the way for her historic presidential race with a series of big policy speeches. And she is taking on the other dynasty more energetically.

“I’m certain that if my husband and his security team had been shown a classified report entitled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States,’ he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team,” she crisply told reporters on Capitol Hill yesterday.

Forty years after feminism brashly burst forth, female leaders are still struggling to figure out how to blend sexuality and strength in way that will not backfire. Consider Hewlett-Packard, the progressive Silicon Valley company. Carly Fiorina was fired as chairman and chief executive after a stereotypically alpha male reign, while Patricia Dunn lost her job as chairman after she used what some critics called a stereotypical “Mean Girls” subterfuge to spy on male board members rather than confronting them directly over leaks.

Hillary is also trying different methods, searching for the key that would allow her to break into the ultimate mahogany-paneled men’s club at 1600 Penn. She will try to get back to the West Wing based not on what she has done in the Senate, but on how she has done it.

She has been like a silent-film star, lacking a voice in this chilling time when the Bush administration has Photoshopped the Constitution, portrayed critics as traitors, and spurred terrorism with a misconceived and mismanaged war in Iraq.

Explaining why she had not taken any unpopular stances and championed no big ideas, Hillary answered Joshua Green more like diva than devil in the upcoming cover story for The Atlantic Monthly: “Everything I do carries political risk because nobody gets the scrutiny that I get. It’s not like I have any margin for error whatsoever.”

She has transformed her method from bulldozing alpha in the White House — high-handed, unilateral and insensitive on health care — to coalition-building gamma in Congress. Now the woman who hated being called first lady charms with the most handkerchief-dropping feminine wiles and stratagems, from fetching coffee for senior male Senate colleagues to stepping to the background so that preening male peacocks can hog the live shot.

As one of her male aides bragged to Mr. Green, it’s so effective because the men who tried to impeach her husband don’t expect the former first lady of the United States “to ask if you want two lumps of sugar.”

“Fetching coffee, I think, is too much,” said Michael Morris of the Columbia Business School. “But any good politician is a good flirt. Bill Clinton seduced every woman and every man he met.”

One Hillary aide recently crowed to me about the surprising number of her male colleagues who have crushes on her. And the Rev. Falwell may have missed her bonding with conservative lawmakers at Hill prayer breakfasts. As Mr. Green writes, Hillary and Sam Brownback worked together on legislation after the Kansas conservative gave testimony at a prayer breakfast that he realized it was a sin to have trashed her.

It may not be turning the other cheek for Hillary, so much as triangulating the other cheek. “The Warrior,” as her staff calls her, has not forgotten what she learned from her consort. The Clintons once polled on where to go on vacation when they were in the White House (Dick Morris advised that a camping trip would play well with swing voters), and now Mr. Green reports that the Clintons moved to Chappaqua at least partly in response to polling data.

He also writes that in 2003, the pollster Mark Penn created a 007-secret team to determine whether Hillary could break her pledge to serve a full Senate term and still have enough political clout to wage a presidential run — an assertion that Mr. Penn neither confirmed nor denied.

It may not smell of sulfur, but it smacks of truth.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Young Virginians Kick George 'Macaca' Allen's Ass (video)



This kick-ass ad was designed for the web by Young Virginians for Racial Equality. It ought to be on TV.

'Rice Boils' Over Clinton in Exclusive Interview with Tabloid



How fitting that Condi Rice goes running to the yellow smear tabloid, the New York Post, to whine about Bill Clinton's charge that the Bush Administration did next to nothing about Osama bin Laden before 9/11 and precious little about bin Laden after 9/11.

The title of the U.S. Secretary of State's exclusive interview?


RICE BOILS OVER AT BUBBA


There's one thing the Bush Adminstration will never ever be accused of, and that's -- class.

Think Progress demolishes Boiling Rice's tabloid lies.

Update: Raw Story has the document that refutes Rice's claim/lie: "We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda."

Olbermann Praises Clinton, Buries Bush


If you missed Keith Olbermann latest great commentary -- in which he praises Bill Clinton's smackdown of Bush mouthpiece Fox News, and blasts the ceaseless neocon effort to blame Clinton for 9/11 -- the video is here.

Keith points out that Bush -- "our worst presiden[t] since James Buchanan" -- was actually the pResident on September 11, 2001, and for the 'nearly eight' do-nothing months 'that preceded it.'

"To hear [Bush] bleat and whine and bully at nearly every opportunity, one would think someone else had been president on September 11th, 2001 -- or the nearly eight months that preceded it."

Like Bill Clinton's righteous rebuttal to the sniveling and cowardly Bush Administration, Keith Olbermann provides a model of how an opposition party is supposed to behave.

Let's hope the Democrats are paying attention.

It is not important that the current President’s portable public chorus has described his predecessor’s tone as “crazed.”

Our tone should be crazed. The nation’s freedoms are under assault by an administration whose policies can do us as much damage as al Qaida; the nation’s marketplace of ideas is being poisoned by a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would’ve quit.

Nonetheless. The headline is this:

Bill Clinton did what almost none of us have done in five years.

He has spoken the truth about 9/11, and the current presidential administration.

"At least I tried," he said of his own efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. "That’s the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They had eight months to try; they did not try. I tried."

Thus in his supposed emeritus years has Mr. Clinton taken forceful and triumphant action for honesty, and for us; action as vital and as courageous as any of his presidency; action as startling and as liberating, as any, by any one, in these last five long years.

The Bush Administration did not try to get Osama bin Laden before 9/11.

The Bush Administration ignored all the evidence gathered by its predecessors.

The Bush Administration did not understand the Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S."

The Bush Administration did not try.

Moreover, for the last five years one month and two weeks, the current administration, and in particular the President, has been given the greatest “pass” for incompetence and malfeasance in American history!

Read the whole magnificent thing..

Lewis Black on America's Superiority Complex



Meanwhile, the United States has fallen to sixth place in the global competitiveness rankings of the World Economic Forum.

"In a report released on Tuesday, the World Economic Forum said Washington's huge defense and homeland security spending commitments, plans to lower taxes further, and long-term potential costs from health care and pensions were creating worrisome fiscal strains.

Switzerland was deemed the most competitive economy in 2006, followed by Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Singapore. After the United States, which had topped the 2005 index, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain rounded out the top 10."

Monday, September 25, 2006

U.S. Media: Keeping the People Clueless


From Rising Hegemon comes this picture perfect illustration of what's wrong with the media here inside the Empire.

Here's the cover of Newsweek from across the world, and look who's special.

While the rest of the world gets to read about Losing Afghanistan, here in the U.S., we get to look at a celebrity photographer's life in pictures. Sheesh.

And we wonder why the American people are so often clueless -- or completely out of step with the rest of the world.

via Matthew Gross

Teammates: George 'Macaca' Allen Used "N-word" in College



Let's face it folks, it appears that being a bigot is a qualification for belonging to the Republican Party.

Blacks, gays, jews, women, poor people, immigrants .... exactly who on this friggin' planet does the Republican Party like?

Michael Scherer at Salon has an explosive piece about the extent of Senator George "Macaca" Allen's bigotted past.

And it reads just like a narrative from the Jim Crow era.

Salon:

"Allen said he came to Virginia because he wanted to play football in a place where 'blacks knew their place,'" said Dr. Ken Shelton, a white radiologist in North Carolina who played tight end for the University of Virginia football team when Allen was quarterback. "He used the N-word on a regular basis back then."

A second white teammate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retribution from the Allen campaign, separately claimed that Allen used the word "nigger" to describe blacks. "It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used," the teammate said.

A third white teammate contacted separately, who also spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of being attacked by the Virginia senator, said he too remembers Allen using the word "nigger," though he said he could not recall a specific conversation in which Allen used the term. "My impression of him was that he was a racist," the third teammate said. . . .

Chris LaCivita, a consultant to the Allen campaign, hung up when a Salon reporter reached him mid-afternoon Sunday. Additional attempts to contact the campaign were unsuccessful. . . .

Shelton said he feels a personal responsibility to tell what he knows about Allen's past, especially now that Allen has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate. "I got to know Allen a little too well," Shelton said, adding that he does not believe Allen should hold elective office. "He had prejudices that were deep-seated."
-------


A cover story in the Weekly Standard -- written before the above story broke -- notes: "Having just stepped out upon the national stage, George Allen now finds himself in danger of being shuffled off of it."

Well, yeah. And if there is any justice in this world, we can look forward to the same fate for the Republican Party!

'Bringing back the old values' graphic via Jesus General -- who also has the 'Republican traditional values' film.

Bill Clinton Smacks Down Fox News



God, an articulate president, and with courage too.

What century is this?

It seems like it's been at least a couple of centuries since we've had a president who can articulate complex thoughts.

It's good to have Clinton come out fighting, and it's also long overdue. As Arianna observes, Bill Clinton has been playing at being bipartisan for far too long, and it has only helped the Dark Side.

"Chris Wallace said that he was stunned when Bill Clinton accused him of a 'conservative hit job.'" Clueless Wallace and Fox News should be stunned more often.

Speaking of the Inarticulate One, in a recent CNN interview, Bush summarized the Iraq War thusly: "I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma . ."

Gee, do you think tax-payers paid someone to write that brilliant assessment for the pResident?

Herbert: Due Process, Bulldozed


No Due Process
By Bob Herbert

Until five months ago, Bilal Hussein was part of a team of Associated Press photographers that had won a Pulitzer Prize for photos documenting the fighting and carnage in Iraq.

Now he’s a prisoner, having been seized by the U.S. government.

You might ask: What’s he been charged with?

The answer: Nothing.

There was a flurry of interest last week in the case of Maher Arar, a terror suspect who was shipped to Syria and tortured before it was learned that, alas, he was not a terrorist. Mr. Hussein got a little news coverage last week, as well. People who still think there is a place in this world for fairness, justice and due process are calling on the authorities to either charge him with a crime or release him.

Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi hired by The A.P., was taken into custody by U.S. forces in Ramadi last April 12. As in many similar cases, U.S. officials have been saying — without disclosing evidence to back up their comments — that he had improper ties to the insurgents.

But neither the Americans nor the Iraqis have officially charged Mr. Hussein with anything.

Scott Horton, a prominent New York lawyer called in by The A.P. to work on the case, said: “The administration always starts with a broad-brush tarring of these individuals. You’ll have officials saying: ‘Oh, they’re bad dudes. They’re evil. We have evidence we can’t show you that would demonstrate just how terrible these people are.’

“Well, sometimes they do. But very frequently, alarmingly frequently, they don’t.”

Mr. Hussein’s case closely resembles that of Abdul Ameer Hussein, a cameraman hired by CBS News who was wounded while covering an attack on an American convoy in Mosul on April 5, 2005. He was shot by a U.S. soldier, a sniper who was more than 200 yards away.

Mr. Hussein was taken to a hospital. His camera and videotapes were seized. And despite his CBS press credentials, which were checked out and found to be legitimate, he was arrested by U.S. authorities and imprisoned. Much of his time over the course of the next year was spent in solitary confinement at the Abu Ghraib prison, where he was subjected to coercive interrogation and other indignities.

For what?

American officials were telling reporters, without offering any evidence, that Mr. Hussein had been collaborating with insurgents. He hadn’t been. It turned out he was completely innocent. In fact, he was a kind of timid guy who was less than thrilled about having a job that required him to shoot combat footage.

This is a spooky time in history. It’s one thing for tyrannical regimes like the old Soviet Union and Communist China to bulldoze the very idea of human rights and human decency by engaging in such atrocities as detention without trial, torture and other forms of state terror. It’s something else completely when the United States, the greatest symbol of liberty that the world has ever known, begins to head down that hellish road.

Abdul Ameer Hussein ultimately was able to escape the clutches of the authorities because of the persistent legal effort pushed by CBS News on his behalf. Scott Horton was part of that effort. A year after he was taken into custody, Mr. Hussein, manacled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, was walked into a Baghdad courtroom for a trial. It was quickly determined that the case against him was ludicrous.

“There was absolutely no evidence against this guy,” said Mr. Horton. “Even the attorney general of Iraq said there was no basis for proceeding against him.”

The case was dismissed.

Several Iraqi journalists working for international news organizations have been held without charge by American and Iraqi forces. The absence of concrete evidence in so many of the cases is disturbing, to say the least.

“I am absolutely convinced,” said Mr. Horton, “that the ton of bricks fell on these two guys — Bilal Hussein and Abdul Ameer Hussein — because they were working as professional journalists. They were the eyes of the world, covering things that the Pentagon doesn’t want people in America to see.”

A legitimate news organization can’t help but experience a shudder at hearing that one of its employees may have been collaborating with the enemy. It’s a chilling, devastating allegation. To make that charge recklessly is reprehensible.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Tricky-Dick Scheme to Pardon Bush for Torture Crimes


Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman writes in the Chicago Sun Times about the Torture Chief's urgent tricky-dick scheme to grant a preemptive pardon to himself before the Democrats have a chance to take control of Congress and charge the Torture Chief with violating the War Crimes Act.

And all with the aid of the torture-enabling Republican Congress.

Snippets follow or you can read the full op-ed via the link.

Bush seeks immunity for violating War Crimes Act

Thirty-two years ago, President Gerald Ford created a political firestorm by pardoning former President Richard Nixon of all crimes he may have committed in Watergate -- and lost his election as a result. Now, President Bush, to avoid a similar public outcry, is quietly trying to pardon himself of any crimes connected with the torture and mistreatment of U.S. detainees.

The ''pardon'' is buried in Bush's proposed legislation to create a new kind of military tribunal for cases involving top al-Qaida operatives. The ''pardon'' provision has nothing to do with the tribunals. Instead, it guts the War Crimes Act of 1996, a federal law that makes it a crime, in some cases punishable by death, to mistreat detainees in violation of the Geneva Conventions and makes the new, weaker terms of the War Crimes Act retroactive to 9/11. . . .

The administration has apparently decided to secure immunity from prosecution through legislation. Under cover of the controversy involving the military tribunals and whether they could use hearsay or coerced evidence, the administration is trying to pardon itself, hoping that no one will notice. The urgent timetable has to do more than anything with the possibility that the next Congress may be controlled by Democrats, who will not permit such a provision to be adopted.

Creating immunity retroactively for violating the law sets a terrible precedent. The president takes an oath of office to uphold the Constitution; that document requires him to obey the laws, not violate them. A president who knowingly and deliberately violates U.S. criminal laws should not be able to use stealth tactics to immunize himself from liability, and Congress should not go along.

Elizabeth Holtzman, a former New York congresswoman, is co-author with Cynthia L. Cooper of The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens.

Read the whole thing

via Josh Marshall

Related post: Freedom To Torture Is On the March

Bush Has Made Terrorism Worse


According to George W. Bush's own intelligence agencies pResident Bush has made "the terrorism problem worse."

"[T]he American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks."



Stuff Happens Again in Baghdad




Looting of Iraq
by Frank Rich

IT’S not just about torture. Even if there had never been an Abu Ghraib, a Guantánamo or an American president determined to rewrite the Geneva Conventions, America would still be losing the war for hearts and minds in the Arab world. Our first major defeat in that war happened at the dawn of the Iraq occupation, before “detainee abuse” entered our language: the “Stuff happens!” moment at the National Museum in Baghdad.

Three and a half years later, have we learned anything? You have to wonder. As the looting of the museum was the first clear warning of disasters soon to come, so the stuff that’s happening at the museum today is a grim indicator of where we’re headed in Iraq: America is empowering the very Islamic radicals this war was supposed to smite. But even now we seem to be averting our eyes from reality on the ground in Baghdad.

Our blindness back in April 2003 seems ludicrous in retrospect. As the looting flared, an oblivious President Bush told the Iraqi people in a televised address that they were “the heirs of a great civilization that contributes to all humanity.” Our actions — or, more accurately, our inaction as the artifacts of that great civilization were carted away — spoke louder than those pretty words. As Fred Ikle, the Reagan administration Pentagon policy chief, puts it in Thomas Ricks’s “Fiasco,” “America lost most of its prestige and respect in that episode.”

That disaster might have been mitigated if our leaders had not dismissed the whole episode as a triviality. But Donald Rumsfeld likened the chaos to the aftermath of a soccer game and joked that television was exaggerating the story by recycling video of a single looter with a vase. Gen. Richard Myers defended our failure to intervene as “a matter of priorities” (we had protected the oil ministry). Lt. Gen. William Wallace, countering a wildly inflated early claim by a former museum employee that 170,000 artifacts had been destroyed, put the number of objects still unaccounted for at “as few as 17.” (The actual number was closer to 14,000.)

The war’s many cheerleaders in the press fell into line. In keeping with the mood of the time, administration enforcers like Charles Krauthammer and Andrew Sullivan damned Mr. Rumsfeld’s critics as fatuous aesthetes exploiting a passing incident to denigrate the liberation of Iraq. In a column in Salon titled “Idiocy of the Week” (that idiot would be me), Mr. Sullivan asked rhetorically who was right about “the alleged ransacking” of the museum, Mr. Rumsfeld or his critics? “Rummy, of course. He almost always is.”

Of course, dear old Rummy’s what-me-worry take on the museum was the tip-off to how he would be wrong about everything that would follow: he reacted with exactly the same disdain and indifference to the insurgency happening under his own nose and to Abu Ghraib. There would be a hasty corrective to the looting, at least: a heroic Marine Reserve colonel, Matthew Bogdanos, commanded a team that ultimately tracked down a bit more than a third of the vanished objects. (It was too late to rescue tens of thousands of additional treasures in Iraq’s National Library and National Archives, both also looted and torched.) But Mr. Rumsfeld’s “Stuff happens!” proved indelible because it so resonantly set forth an enduring theme of the occupation: that the Americans in charge of Iraq were contemptuous of the local populace to whom they were so grandly bequeathing democracy and other fruits of civilization.

The cavalier American reaction to the museum looting was mimicked in the $22 billion reconstruction effort, an orgy of corruption and waste that still hasn’t brought Iraqis reliable electricity. In a new account of the civilian nation-builders in the Green Zone, “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” Rajiv Chandrasekaran of The Washington Post details how L. Paul Bremer III and his underlings enlisted cronies and apparatchiks rather than those who might actually know anything about the country’s people or their needs. Thus we saddled Iraq with Bernie Kerik, G.O.P. fund-raisers and politically connected young ideologues chosen over more qualified job applicants who knew Arabic. They saw Iraq as a guinea pig for irrelevant (and doomed) experiments, including an antismoking campaign and an elaborate American-style stock exchange. Mr. Chandrasekaran’s book, while nonfiction, is as chilling an indictment of America’s tragic cultural myopia as Graham Greene’s prescient 1955 novel of the American debacle in Indochina, “The Quiet American.”

Read the whole thing

Saturday, September 23, 2006

U.S. Vs. John Lennon Trailer


"Lennon represented life and Mr. Nixon and Mr. Bush represent death...."

"The U.S. government saw Lennon as such a serious threat that President Nixon attempted to have him deported in 1972. In addition the FBI closely monitored his actions and amassed a file on Lennon of over 400 pages."

U.S. Vs. John Lennon Reviews and more

via Crooks and Liars

Liberal Oasis Blogger Publishes New Book



Bill Scher, the blogger at Liberal Oasis has a new book - Wait! Don't Move to Canada: 10 Steps to a Liberal America .

With a foreword by Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder, the book offers a plan for fighting for sanity, or a plan for fighting for a liberal America.

In a section called, A Quick History of the L-Word, I found this definition of what it means to be a liberal:

"[I]f by a liberal they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a liberal, then I'm proud to say I'm a liberal." (emphasis added) -- John F. Kennedy, 9/14/1960

And for those of you who do intend to move to Canada, check out L-girl's blog, We Move to Canada -- which has lots of great resources for those of us who really must move to Canada.

Dowd: Axis of Sketchy Allies



By MAUREEN DOWD

It helps to plug your book at the White House.

After Pervez Musharraf coyly sidestepped a question at a news conference with President Bush about his claim on “60 Minutes” that Richard Armitage threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age if it did not cooperate in routing the Taliban in Afghanistan, noting that he had to save such juicy tidbits for his book’s publication next week, he shot up over 1,000 spots on Amazon.com.

General Musharraf told Steve Kroft he found the Stone Age crack “very rude,’’ and Mr. Armitage was on the defensive yesterday, explaining that he had been tough with Pakistan just after 9/11 but had not made any Flintstones threats.

The former deputy to Colin Powell needn’t apologize. That was the last time our foreign policy was on track, when we were pursuing the real enemy. It’s all been downhill from there.

The Pakistan president is a smooth operator, a military dictator cruising around the capital with his elegant wife and enormous security contingent, talking about how much he likes democracy, which he won’t yet allow.

He may have more respect for checks and balances than Dick Cheney, but that’s not saying much.

On the subject of Osama, he’s so slippery you want to lock him in a room with the muscle-bound Mr. Armitage. General ... General, as W. called him in that famous campaign pop quiz, tried to persuade Mr. Bush that the shabby truce he recently made with tribal leaders, agreeing that the Pakistani Army would stay out of the wild border area next to Afghanistan — where Osama and other Al Qaeda and Taliban members are believed to be hiding — was really “against” the militants.

The Pakistan government has, in effect, simply turned over the North Waziristan area to the militants. ABC News quoted Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan Khan of Pakistan as saying that the deal was an implicit amnesty, and that Osama “would not be taken into custody” as long as he was “being like a peaceful citizen.”

American officials are dubious about Mr. Musharraf’s commitment to destroying Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But at the press conference, W., who no doubt thinks he has seen into General ... General’s soul, acted as though he were willing to believe the Pakistani president when he says he is “on the hunt” for Osama and the Taliban at the same time he’s setting up a safe haven for them — and getting huffy at the idea that American forces have the right to go into Pakistan to track Osama.

“Americans who are concerned about a recurrence of 9/11 are worried about the Axis of Evil when the real problem is the Axis of Allies — Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Britain,’’ the British historian Niall Ferguson says. “The terrorists are funded in Saudi Arabia, they’re trained in Pakistan, and they organize their plots quite easily in London.’’

Mr. Ferguson, who analyzes evildoers and despots in his new book, “The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West,’’ observes that Mr. Musharraf could not survive if he truly tried to break up the cozy relationship between militants, tribal leaders and some in his Army and intelligence service.

The Paks, as W. and Vice like to call them, are at the heart of the Faustian deal the Bush administration has made. The justification for invading Iraq was that they couldn’t allow a dictator who might be harboring terrorists to stay in power. But their great ally in the war on terror is General Musharraf, a dictator who appears to be harboring terrorists, including the one we want most.

Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, who is coming to the White House next week to dine with W. and General ... General, expressed a sly skepticism about his neighbor’s protestations that he is strategizing against militants. As David Sanger reported, the Afghan leader told Times editors and reporters at a meeting Thursday that he had tried to get Pakistan’s help in repelling the resurgent Taliban by giving the Pakistanis “information on training ground, on operation, people, their phone numbers, their G.P.S. locations.’’

“Our friends come back to us and say this information is old,’’ Mr. Karzai continued. “Maybe. But it means they were there.”

Asked where Osama was, he smiled and replied: “If I said he was in Pakistan, President Musharraf would be mad at me. And if I said he was in Afghanistan, it would not be true.”

We may not have Osama, but at least W. helped General ...General with his Amazon ranking. “Buy the book,” the president recommended as the two allies wrapped up.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Freedom To Torture Is On the March


George W. Bush is living up to the title bestowed upon him by Hugo Chavez.

Just like a "World Dictator," he reserves for himself the right to violate the Geneva Conventions. Much like restrictions on weapons of mass destruction, the Geneva Conventions are for all those little insignificant countries, aka, the rest of world. Cause The Empire is special and if you don't like it, we'll torture you. Or maybe we'll bomb you back into the stone age.

The Torture 'Compromise' permits George W. Bush to legalize torture.

Or, in Josh Marshall's words: "The senate, in this dance, becomes the United States 'rendering' prisoners to the executive for illicit torture much as the US renders folks to Syria and Egypt we when really want them to get the treatment."

Why did the three "moderate" Republican senators give up the fight against torture? Perhaps the senators who made such a show of standing up against torture were tortured into submission.

The Torture 'Compromise' permits "the U.S. to be first nation to authorize violations" of the Geneva Conventions.

The editorial boards of both the New York Times and the Washington Post have harsh words to say about this most recent failure of Congress to stand up to the Pro Torture pResident.

If the newspaper editorial boards change their minds tomorrow, I guess we'll know why.

New York Times: A Bad Bargain

Here is a way to measure how seriously President Bush was willing to compromise on the military tribunals bill: Less than an hour after an agreement was announced yesterday with three leading Republican senators, the White House was already laying a path to wiggle out of its one real concession.

About the only thing that Senators John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham had to show for their defiance was Mr. Bush’s agreement to drop his insistence on allowing prosecutors of suspected terrorists to introduce classified evidence kept secret from the defendant...

.....The Democrats have largely stood silent and allowed the trio of Republicans to do the lifting. It’s time for them to either try to fix this bill or delay it until after the election. The American people expect their leaders to clean up this mess without endangering U.S. troops, eviscerating American standards of justice, or further harming the nation’s severely damaged reputation.

Washington Post: The Abuse Can Continue
Senators won't authorize torture, but they won't prevent it, either.

But the senators who have fought to rein in the administration's excesses — led by Sens. McCain, Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.) — failed to break Mr. Bush's commitment to "alternative" methods that virtually every senior officer of the U.S. military regards as unreliable, counterproductive and dangerous for Americans who may be captured by hostile governments.

Mr. Bush wanted Congress to formally approve these practices and to declare them consistent with the Geneva Conventions. It will not. But it will not stop him either, if the legislation is passed in the form agreed on yesterday. Mr. Bush will go down in history for his embrace of torture and bear responsibility for the enormous damage that has caused.

Unless there is a huge public outcry:

"When our children, God, our poor children, write essays in praise of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, they will be writing in praise of torture."

Surely, the American public will not stand for this. Please click on the Torture ad by AmnestyUSA (scroll up) over in the sidebar, and send an urgent plea for sanity to Congress! Frankly, I'm not all that hopeful that it will do any good. But I did it. I haven't given up, yet.

Rep. Cooper: Coming Fiscal Storm Can Wipe Out Social Security and Medicare


Rep. Cooper (D-TN) says a category 5 fiscal storm is approaching, and the Bush Administration is "cruel" enough to let the storm it created devastate our Social Security and Medicare benefits.

And everyone laughed at Al Gore's lockbox for Social Security.

Snippets from the article by the Tennessee Democrat, Rep. Jim Cooper, are pasted below.

"The biggest absurdity in American politics is the fact that virtually every federal lawmaker promises Social Security and Medicare benefits that are, somehow, omitted from the budget. If the federal government were run like a business, its budget would include those promises. But it is not.

If you look closely at the annual letter you receive from the Social Security Administration, you will see that the benefits you’ve been buying with your payroll taxes are only “scheduled.” That’s a fancy word for maybe. The federal government can revoke them at will, according to the 1960 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Fleming v. Nestor. Wait a minute! Most people, including most politicians, think that America has at least a moral obligation to pay every nickel of those benefits.

Some budget experts object to making Social Security and Medicare benefits “contractual” like private-sector pensions so that seniors could have a legally-enforceable right to them. Preserving congressional flexibility is not two-faced in their eyes, but necessary to cope with an uncertain future.

I disagree. I think that you must count Social Security and Medicare promises as if they were genuine; otherwise, you have no chance of making them so. They don’t have to be contractual in order to count them as such. Refusing to count the promises at all is tantamount to lying.

A little-known government committee, the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, or FASAB, voted this summer to require Congress to account for these entitlement program expenses, as if politicians meant what they say. That may seem like common sense, but the vote was only 6-4. The private-sector members of the board favored sincerity but, sadly, the bureaucrats preferred duplicity.

For America to admit to itself and the world that it is $46 trillion in debt would be alarming, but it would be honest. The consequences will be worse if we fail to admit the truth. In that case, generations of Americans would not only be exposed to cruel cuts, but a government that was so cruel that it did nothing to prevent them."

Hugo Chavez Gets Standing Ovation


Speaking at a New York College, Hugo Chavez was greeted with a standing ovation after he accused George Bush of "committing genocide in Iraq."

Chavez also received an ovation at the U.N. after referring to Bush as 'the devil.' (Bush is 'the devil' video)

If memory serves, George W. Bush received a standing ovation at the SOTU address when he first referred to world leaders as an "axis of evil."

Is it okay if the world talks back to The Empire?

Or is there a double standard?

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said earlier that Chavez's remarks in the United Nations were "not becoming for a head of state."

"I am not going to dignify a comment by the Venezuelan president to the president of the United States," Rice told reporters. The main U.S. seat in the United Nations was empty as Chavez spoke, though U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said a "junior note-taker" was present as is customary "when governments like that speak."

Is it "becoming for a head of state" to refer to a world leader as "a pygmy"?

Governments "like that" are governments that are critical of The Empire. The Empire doesn't listen to, or talk to, governments - or people - "like that." But what happens when virtually the entire world is "like that"?

The audience at Cooper Union Hall included professors and union organizers.

Accusing Bush of neglecting the poor, Chavez started a program last winter for Venezuela's U.S.-based oil company Citgo to sell discounted heating oil to poor American families. It distributed more than 40 million gallons of oil last winter to low-income Americans, and Chavez announced a doubling of that this winter.

He said he hopes Americans choose an "intelligent president" in the future.

Singer and activist Harry Belafonte introduced Chavez at the event, while former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark also attended, among supporters who waved Venezuelan flags and chanted Chavez's name. The Venezuelan leader signed autographs as a crowd rushed to him after the speech.

He also referred to his past threats that he could cut off oil exports to the U.S. if it tries to oust him.

"Believe me, if I were to decide tomorrow to stop sending oil to the United States ... the price would go up to US$150, US$200 (euro120, euro160) a barrel. But we don't want to do it, and we aren't going to do it," Chavez said. "We ask only for respect."

Chavez lambasted the U.S. government for trying to block Venezuela's campaign for a seat in the U.N. Security Council. He said if chosen over U.S.-favorite Guatemala in a secret-ballot U.N. vote next month, Venezuela would be "the voice of the Third World." The U.S. argues that Venezuela -- closely allied with Iran, Syria and Cuba --would be a disruptive force.

He also said the U.N. in its current system "doesn't work" and is "antidemocratic." He called for the world body to be overhauled, saying the U.S. government's "immoral veto" had allowed recent Israeli bombings of Lebanon to continue unabated for more than a month.

Chavez also charged that the U.S. planned and financed "a failed 2002 coup against him." The Empire denies the charge, but scholars such as Noam Chomsky insist that it is true.

In a story in the New York Times, Chomsky refers to Chavez's immense popularity as the President of Venezuela. Chomsky notes that Chavez "has gone through six closely supervised elections."

Since Chavez plugged Noam Chomsky's book, Hegemony and Survival, it has moved to Amazon.com's top ten list.

Update: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez visited a Harlem church Thursday and promised to more than double the amount of discounted heating oil his country ships to needy Americans.