Sunday, September 30, 2007

Digby, 09/30/07

Who Are The Radicals Again?

It has long been my contention that Rudy was playing a strongly racist primary campaign to try to signal to the base that he was one of them even though he doesn't have social conservative credentials. In fact, I think the four front runners --- none of whom are pure --- have been skipping these debates with Hispanics and African Americans for that very reason. They have to signal their hatred a little bit more obviously than usual because they don't have the right conservative bona-fides(except Thompson, who has other problems)to send code to the racist conservative neanderthals and be believed. They need to be direct. Especially Rudy, who is the fron trunner only by dint of his sadistic, bloodthirsty rhetoric with its not-very-subtle appeal to racism.

Meet The Villagers

From the "you can't make this stuff up" files:
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, what about a World Series Yankees and Cubs?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, you know, I’ve worried about that because I think, given the Cubs’ record, which of course I, I hope it happens, but it could very well be a sign of the coming apocalypse were that to ever occur. It would be so out of history that you’d have the Cubs vs. the Yankees, then I’d be really in trouble. But I...
Brass On Board

The story of the day is surely Seymour Hersh's latest in which he says that the administration seems to have convinced the generals that it needs to attack Iran to protect the troops in Iraq:
The revised bombing plan for a possible attack, with its tightened focus on counterterrorism, is gathering support among generals and admirals in the Pentagon. The strategy calls for the use of sea-launched cruise missiles and more precisely targeted ground attacks and bombing strikes, including plans to destroy the most important Revolutionary Guard training camps, supply depots, and command and control facilities.

Frank Rich: Is Hillary Clinton the New Old Al Gore?

THE Democrats can't lose the White House in 2008, can they?

Some 13 months before Election Day, the race's dynamic seems immutable. Americans can't wait to evict the unpopular president and end his disastrous war. As the campaign's poll-tested phrasemaking constantly reminds us, voters crave change above all else. That means nearly any Democrat might do, even if the nominee isn't the first woman, black or Hispanic to lead a major party's ticket.

The Republican field of aging white guys, meanwhile, gets flakier by the day. The front-runner has taken to cooing to his third wife over a cellphone in the middle of campaign speeches. His hottest challenger, the new "new Reagan," may have learned his lines for "Law & Order," but clearly needs cue cards on the stump. In Florida, even the most rudimentary details of red-hot local issues (drilling in the Everglades, Terri Schiavo) eluded him. The party's fund-raising is anemic. Its snubs of Hispanic and African-American voters kissed off essential swing states in the Sun Belt and moderate swing voters farther north.

Glenn Greenwald: Fox News' attack on the honor and integrity of our war generals

As we learned from both our Senate and House last week, in the United States we must never "attack the honor and integrity . . . of members of the United States Armed Forces." All good patriots from both parties agree on this.

That is why I was so shocked and outraged -- and more than a little upset -- when I went to this morning and saw this:

The Great Inflation Fraud

Why does the government pretend prices aren't rising?

By Daniel Gross

Imagine that a cardiologist told you that aside from the irregular heartbeat, the stratospheric cholesterol count, and a little blockage in your aorta, your core heart functions are just fine. That's precisely what the government's cardiologist—Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve—has just done. The central bank is supposed to make sure the economy grows fast enough to create jobs and make everybody richer, but not so fast that it produces inflation, which makes everybody poorer. "Readings on core inflation have improved modestly this year," the Federal Open Market Committee said in justifying its 50-basis-point interest-rate cut last month, while conceding that "some inflation risks remain."

Catch that bit about "core inflation"? That's Fedspeak for: Inflation is under control, unless you look at the costs of things that are going up. The core rate excludes the prices of food and energy, which can be volatile from month to month. Factor them in, and inflation is about as moderate as Newt Gingrich. In the first eight months of 2007, the consumer price index—the main gauge of inflation—rose at a 3.7 percent annual rate. That's more than 50 percent higher than the mild 2.3 percent core rate. The prices of energy and food are soaring, at 12.7 percent and 5.6 percent annual rates, respectively, and have been doing so for years. As a result, the CPI—including food and energy—has risen 12.6 percent since July 2003, for a compound rate of about 3 percent.

The religious right's political power ebbs

Today, the Christian conservatives' nearly three-decade-long ascendance in the Republican Party is over. Their loyalties and priorities are in flux, the organizations that gave them political muscle are in disarray, and the high-profile preachers who led them to influence through the 1980s and 1990s are being replaced by a new generation.

Court starts term with half its cases chosen

Big business and foreign prisoners have high hopes for the Supreme Court term that starts Monday. Business wants protection from lawsuits. Prisoners want freedom. The court is in the middle, divided along lines that defy simple partisan calculations and led by a chief who's still finding his way.

Scientists: Owl recovery plan 'deeply flawed'

A group of independent scientists has concluded that a draft recovery plan for the northern spotted owl was "deeply flawed," fueling allegations that the proposal was manipulated by political appointees in Washington who were determined to boost logging in Northwest forests.

SATIRE: Dean Reassures Democrats: 'We Will Find a Way to Screw This Up'

Amid a growing belief that there is no way the Democrats can blow the 2008 presidential election, Democratic National Committee chief Howard Dean sought today to reassure the party faithful that the party was "doing everything in its power" to uphold its losing tradition.

At a top-level summit called "Defeat: 2008" being held in Boston, the former Vermont Governor gave a rousing speech to concerned Democrats, bringing his audience to his feet by vowing, "I can assure each and every one of you, we will find a way to screw this up."

How problem families learn self-respect

Interesting program from Britain--Dictynna

In the battle to tame 'neighbours from hell', one scheme is at the cutting edge of government strategy. Amelia Hill was granted unprecedented access to see how violence-prone families are helped and given hope

Sunday September 30, 2007
The Observer

'You know that little boy, Caleb, who beats up his mum? Guess what he's doing right now?' says John Wallace, manager of the Dundee Families Project, rushing in from the garden. 'He's tidying up the Wendy house outside. He's neatly lined up the Action Men and now he's starting on the trucks.'

Behind him, the nine-year-old shyly slides into the room. Almost mesmerised by the unaccustomed praise, he has a smile that stretches across his face.

Ozone shuts down early immune response in lungs and body

DURHAM, N.C. – As policy makers debate what levels of ozone in the air are safe for humans to breathe, studies in mice are revealing that the inhaled pollutant impairs the body’s first line of defense, making it more susceptible to subsequent foreign invaders, such as bacteria.

While it has long been known that exposure to ozone, a major component of urban air pollution, is associated with increased cardiovascular and pulmonary hospitalizations and deaths, the actual mechanisms involved remain unclear. New studies by Duke University Medical Center pulmonary researchers on the effects of ozone on the innate immune system, the body’s “tripwire” for foreign invaders, may provide part of the answer.

50 Years Later: Recovery far from over

SHIRANUI SEA, Japan (AP) -- The dawn is still only a faint glow beyond distant mountains, but fisherman Akinori Mori and his wife, Itsuko, are already hard at work on their boat, reeling in nets of squid, fish and crabs.

Nothing about this placid scene reveals that Japan's worst environmental disaster unfolded here.

Starting 50 years ago, whole neighborhoods were poisoned by mercury-contaminated fish from these waters. Thousands of people were crippled, and hundreds died agonizing deaths. Babies were born with horrifying deformities.

Iraq Wiretap Delay Not Quite as Presented

Lag Is Attributed to Internal Disputes and Time to Reach Gonzales, Not FISA Constraints

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 29, 2007; Page A08

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told Congress last week that a May wiretap that targeted Iraqi insurgents was delayed for 12 hours by attempts to comply with onerous surveillance laws, which slowed an effort to locate three U.S. soldiers who had been captured south of Baghdad.

But new details released this week portray a more complicated picture of the delay, which actually lasted about 9 1/2 hours and was caused primarily by legal wrangling between the Justice Department and intelligence officials over whether authorities had probable cause to begin the surveillance.

Big Coffers and a Rising Voice Lift Group on the Right

Freedom’s Watch, a deep-pocketed conservative group led by two former senior White House officials, made an audacious debut in late August when it began a $15 million advertising campaign designed to maintain Congressional support for President Bush’s troop increase in Iraq.

Founded this summer by a dozen wealthy conservatives, the nonprofit group is set apart from most advocacy groups by the immense wealth of its core group of benefactors, its intention to far outspend its rivals and its ambition to pursue a wide-ranging agenda. Its next target: Iran policy.

Presto! False Associated Press Reporting Makes Limbaugh's Bogus Pushback Sound Perfectly Reasonable

September 29, 2007 -- 1:10 PM EST // //

This is just sad.

The Associated Press has now covered the controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh's now-infamous assertion that soldiers favoring withdrawal from Iraq are "phony soldiers." Unfortunately, the AP's reporting on Rush's pushback on the controversy is outright false -- so bad, in fact, that it goes much farther than even Rush himself did in falsifying the actual meaning of his original remarks.

As Steve Benen notes over at TPM, Limbaugh is now trying to explain away the "phony soldiers" comment by saying that he wasn't referring in general to pro-withdrawal troops, but to specific phony soldiers whom the left is using for propaganda purposes. Limbaugh has posted a transcript of the controversial radio episode, and in it, he refers to these specific "fake soldiers" later in the broadcast.

Thomas Friedman: 9/11 Is Over

Next: Hell freezes over!--Dictynna

Not long ago, the satirical newspaper The Onion ran a fake news story that began like this:

“At a well-attended rally in front of his new ground zero headquarters Monday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani officially announced his plan to run for president of 9/11. ‘My fellow citizens of 9/11, today I will make you a promise,’ said Giuliani during his 18-minute announcement speech in front of a charred and torn American flag. ‘As president of 9/11, I will usher in a bold new 9/11 for all.’ If elected, Giuliani would inherit the duties of current 9/11 President George W. Bush, including making grim facial expressions, seeing the world’s conflicts in terms of good and evil, and carrying a bullhorn at all state functions.”

Like all good satire, the story made me both laugh and cry, because it reflected something so true — how much, since 9/11, we’ve become “The United States of Fighting Terrorism.” Times columnists are not allowed to endorse candidates, but there’s no rule against saying who will not get my vote: I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.

Study suggests DDT, breast cancer link

Exposure in childhood is key, quintupling the risk among women with high levels of the pesticide, researchers say.
By Marla Cone, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 30, 2007
Women heavily exposed to the pesticide DDT during childhood are five times as likely to develop breast cancer, a new scientific study suggests.

For decades, scientists have tried to determine whether there is a connection between breast cancer and DDT, the most widely used insecticide in history. The UC Berkeley research, based on a small number of Bay Area women, tested a theory that the person's age during exposure was critical, and provided the first evidence of a substantial effect on breast cancer.

Petraeus admits to rise in Iraq violence

The top U.S. commander, back from his trip to Washington, says Sunni Arab militants have carried out a 'Ramadan surge.' But he notes that the level of attacks remains lower than a year ago.

By Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
9:57 AM PDT, September 29, 2007
BAGHDAD -- Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, acknowledged today that violence had increased since Sunni Arab militants declared an offensive during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"Certainly Al Qaeda has had its Ramadan surge," Petraeus said in his first comments to reporters since he returned from Washington to give lawmakers a status report on the war in Iraq. But he said the level of attacks was "substantially lower" than during the same period last year.

Stop Saying Iraq Is Another Vietnam; It's Another Enron

By Bill Maher,
Posted on September 29, 2007, Printed on September 30, 2007

Iraq is Enron, and President Bush is Ken Lay. He's fighting a war with phony accounting tricks. The Bush administration fudged the numbers to get us into Iraq, and cooked the books to keep us there. "The surge" is simply another in a long series of inflated stock quotes.

This past weekend Marcel Marceau passed away at age 84. Doctors say he went quietly. Thus proving that evil thrives when good men stay silent. And just like with Enron, the good men and women who are blowing the whistle on Iraq contractor fraud are being vilified, fired, demoted, and those are the lucky ones.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Best Wars of Their Lives


[from the October 15, 2007 issue]

Conservatism's cherished fantasy of American omnipotence has died once again, this time in the sands of Iraq, and the grieving process has begun. But conservatives mourn differently from you and me. They begin with denial, anger and bargaining, just like everyone else. And that's where they stay--forever paralyzed by a petulant refusal to acknowledge their fantasy's passing, a simple inability to process reality.

The denial: Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative godfather and Rudy Giuliani adviser, confidently posits that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction all along--but somehow surreptitiously shipped them to Syria. The bargaining: The White House's fervent remonstrations that if we squint at the problem in just the right way--counting "sectarian violence" but not car bombs, say--civilian killings are actually declining in Iraq. The anger: How dare the liberals refuse to understand that under our new commanding general, with his brand-new "strategy" that magically wipes the slate clean of everything else that's happened during the past four years, we're actually on our way to victory?

The Best Wars of Their Lives


[from the October 15, 2007 issue]

Conservatism's cherished fantasy of American omnipotence has died once again, this time in the sands of Iraq, and the grieving process has begun. But conservatives mourn differently from you and me. They begin with denial, anger and bargaining, just like everyone else. And that's where they stay--forever paralyzed by a petulant refusal to acknowledge their fantasy's passing, a simple inability to process reality.

The denial: Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative godfather and Rudy Giuliani adviser, confidently posits that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction all along--but somehow surreptitiously shipped them to Syria. The bargaining: The White House's fervent remonstrations that if we squint at the problem in just the right way--counting "sectarian violence" but not car bombs, say--civilian killings are actually declining in Iraq. The anger: How dare the liberals refuse to understand that under our new commanding general, with his brand-new "strategy" that magically wipes the slate clean of everything else that's happened during the past four years, we're actually on our way to victory?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Doolittle, five staffers subpoenaed in Abramoff probe

David Whitney | McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: September 27, 2007 08:34:22 PM

WASHINGTON — California Rep. John Doolittle said Thursday that the Justice Department has issued subpoenas to him and five of his staff members seeking office records going back 11 years in connection to the congressman's relationship with jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Doolittle's attorney indicated that he might fight having to comply.

Doolittle, a Republican, declined further comment about the subpoenas. But his criminal defense attorney, David Barger, said in a prepared statement that the subpoenas "raise serious constitutional issues going to the very core" of the separation of powers between the Congress and the executive branch.

Recovery from acid rain 'much slower than expected'

Cardiff University research shows environment still affected by '80s pollution

Acid rain was one of the world’s worst pollution problems of the 1970s and 1980s, affecting large areas of upland Britain, as well as Europe and North America.

In Wales, more than 12,000 km of streams and rivers have been acidified, harming fish, stream insects and river birds such as the dipper.

GOP electoral initiative dealt major blows

Two key consultants for an effort to change California's winner-take-all system quit over money and disclosure woes.
By Dan Morain, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 28, 2007
SACRAMENTO -- A proposed California initiative campaign that could have helped Republicans hold on to the White House in 2008 was a shambles Thursday night, as two of its key consultants quit.

Unable to raise sufficient money and angered over a lack of disclosure by its one large donor, veteran political law attorney Thomas Hiltachk, who drafted the measure, said he was resigning from the committee.

'Combat Outpost Shocker:' The base that could spark Iran conflict

09/28/2007 @ 8:47 am
Filed by David Edwards and Muriel Kane

The US military is building a base in Iraq just five miles from the border with Iran to prevent cross-border arms smuggling. The base, called "Combat Outpost Shocker," will be manned by 200 soldiers, along with agents from the US Border Patrol, and will monitor truck traffic and cellphone conversations among Shi'ite pilgrims.

"Obviously, [the Iranians] probably won't be very happy about it," Col. Mark Mueller, the commander of the border transition team, told ABC News.

Paul Krugman: Hired Gun Fetish

Sometimes it seems that the only way to make sense of the Bush administration is to imagine that it’s a vast experiment concocted by mad political scientists who want to see what happens if a nation systematically ignores everything we’ve learned over the past few centuries about how to make a modern government work.

Thus, the administration has abandoned the principle of a professional, nonpolitical civil service, stuffing agencies from FEMA to the Justice Department with unqualified cronies. Tax farming — giving individuals the right to collect taxes, in return for a share of the take — went out with the French Revolution; now the tax farmers are back.

Greenspan and the Myth of the True Believer

Lookout by Naomi Klein

[from the October 15, 2007 issue]

The tall graduate student, visiting the United States from Sweden, would not be satisfied with a quip. He wanted answers.

"They cannot only be driven by greed and power. They must be driven by something higher. What?"

Don't knock power and greed, I tried to suggest--they have built empires. But he wanted more.

"What about a belief that they are building a better world?"

The Mega-Lie Called the "War on Terror": A Masterpiece of Propaganda

By Richard W. Behan, AlterNet
Posted on September 27, 2007, Printed on September 28, 2007

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the state can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie ... The truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the state." --Joseph Goebbels, minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany, 1933-1945

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the administration of George W. Bush has told and repeated a lie that is "big enough" to confirm Joseph Goebbels' testimony. It is a mega-lie, and the American people have come to believe it. It is the "War on Terror."

Debunking the Neocons' Iran War Measure

By Gareth Porter,
Posted on September 27, 2007, Printed on September 28, 2007

The Lieberman-Kyle amendment has just passed the Senate overwhelmingly after two sections were removed to satisfy Democrats that it will not serve as a backdoor authorization for war against Iran, using U.S. forces operating in Iran. Even after that compromise, it remains a poison chalice, because it endorses a set of "findings" that are fundamentally false and which are being used by the administration to lay the groundwork for a more aggressive policy toward Iran.

The amendment is based on the Bush administration's proxy war narrative which has been filling the news media for the past nine months. It cites General Petraeus's classic statement of the proxy war argument of September 12: "[I]t is increasingly apparent…that Iran through the use of the Iranian Republican [sic] Guard Corps Quds Force, seeks to turn the Sh'ia militia extremists into a Hezbollah-like force to serve its interests and fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Galloway commentary: The evil that men do

Joseph L. Galloway | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: September 26, 2007 05:31:23 PM

Once again, the Bush administration is flimflamming the hapless Democratic majority in Congress into rushing an important piece of legislation into law without serious thought or debate about the implications.

Although Congress passed a temporary extension of the FISA law in August that carries it through to February, the administration is already back demanding the immediate passage of a permanent law that permits the government to snoop on all private communications.

Greenspan sees threat of '70s-style inflation

Kevin G. Hall and Robert A. Rankin | McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: September 26, 2007 07:16:26 PM

WASHINGTON —An important point in Alan Greenspan's much-hyped memoir has gone largely unnoticed: He acknowledges that global economic forces, more than Federal Reserve policy, kept inflation low and manageable for two decades.

By global forces he means free trade, the rise of emerging, cheap-labor economies led by China and India and the benefits from information technology and the Internet.

Big Oil's Big Stall On Ethanol

Even as it pockets billions in subsidies, it's trying to keep E85 out of drivers' tanks

For some industries, the prospect of $3.5 billion in federal subsidies now, and double that in three years, might be a powerful incentive. But not, apparently, for the oil industry, which is seeing crude oil prices soar to record highs. Despite collecting billions for blending small amounts of ethanol with gas, oil companies seem determined to fight the spread of E85, a fuel that is 85% ethanol and 15% gas. Congress has set a target of displacing 15% of projected annual gasoline use with alternative fuels by 2017. Right now, wider availability of E85 is the likeliest way to get there.

Verizon Blocks Messages of Abortion Rights Group

Saying it had the right to block “controversial or unsavory” text messages, Verizon Wireless has rejected a request from Naral Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights group, to make Verizon’s mobile network available for a text-message program.

The other leading wireless carriers have accepted the program, which allows people to sign up for text messages from Naral by sending a message to a five-digit number known as a short code.

Mixing the oceans proposed to reduce global warming

Could nutrients from the deep help remove carbon dioxide from the air?

Quirin Schiermeier

Could mighty pumps be installed in the ocean to mix up the waters and cool the planet? At least some scientists and businessmen believe so — but the idea is controversial.

In a letter to the editor published in Nature this week1, James Lovelock and Chris Rapley suggest that this deus ex machina could be an "emergency treatment for the pathology of global warming". Large vertical pipes could, they say, be used to mix nutrient-rich waters from hundreds of metres down with the more barren waters at the surface. This could cause algal blooms at the surface, which would consume carbon dioxide (CO2) through photosynthesis. When the algae die, some of this carbon could sink into deep waters. The algae may also produce chemicals that spur cloud formation, further cooling the planet.

'A Coup Has Occurred'

Editor’s Note: Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department analyst who leaked the secret Pentagon Papers history of the Vietnam War, offered insights into the looming war with Iran and the loss of liberty in the United States at an American University symposium on Sept. 20.

Below is an edited transcript of Ellsberg’s remarkable speech

A small-town lawyer is tied to funding for electoral-vote change

By Shane Goldmacher - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDT Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A4

The name of the donor behind a controversial initiative to change how California apportions its vote for president in 2008 was revealed in campaign filings late Monday.

But Democrats opposed to a measure they decry as a "Republican power grab" are no closer to actually identifying the mysterious financial backers of the campaign.

The proposed ballot measure, written by prominent Sacramento GOP attorney Tom Hiltachk, would shift California's Electoral College votes from a winner-take-all system -- in which Democrats have won all the state's presidential electors since 1992 -- and instead award one electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district. Two electoral votes would go to the state winner.

Multinationals Fuel Graft In Poor States: Watchdog

Filed at 10:11 a.m. ET

BERLIN (Reuters) - Multinational companies and financial institutions that use bribery and tolerate illicitly gained wealth are helping fuel corruption in the world's poorest countries, a global corruption watchdog said on Wednesday.

Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) said in its latest corruption perceptions report that while poorer countries should tackle their own graft problems, richer states are also responsible, and often to blame.

New-Home Sales Tumble to 7-Year Low

Thursday September 27, 6:33 pm ET
By Jeannine Aversa, AP Economics Writer

New-Homes Sales Drop 8.3 Percent in August From July, Lowest Level in 7 Years WASHINGTON (AP) -- New-homes sales tumbled in August to the lowest level in seven years, a stark sign that the credit crunch is aggravating an already painful housing slump.

Sales of new homes dropped 8.3 percent in August from July, the Commerce Department reported Thursday, driving down sales to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 795,000. That was the lowest level since June 2000.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Impact of Arctic heat wave stuns climate change researchers

Unprecedented warm temperatures in the High Arctic this past summer were so extreme that researchers with a Queen's-led climate change project have begun revising their forecasts.

Can Anyone Stop It?

By Bill McKibben
During the last year, momentum has finally begun to build for taking action against global warming by putting limits on carbon emissions and then reducing them. Driven by ever-more-dire scientific reports, Congress has, for the first time, begun debating ambitious targets for carbon reduction. Al Gore, in his recent Live Earth concerts, announced that he will work to see an international treaty signed by the end of 2009. Even President Bush has recently reversed his previous opposition and summoned the leaders of all the top carbon-emitting countries to a series of conferences designed to yield some form of limits on CO2.

Discovery supports theory of Alzheimer's disease as form of diabetes

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Insulin, it turns out, may be as important for the mind as it is for the body. Research in the last few years has raised the possibility that Alzheimer’s memory loss could be due to a novel third form of diabetes.

Now scientists at Northwestern University have discovered why brain insulin signaling -- crucial for memory formation -- would stop working in Alzheimer’s disease. They have shown that a toxic protein found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s removes insulin receptors from nerve cells, rendering those neurons insulin resistant. (The protein, known to attack memory-forming synapses, is called an ADDL for “amyloid ß-derived diffusible ligand.”)

Bed Wetter Nation

Here's a big question that I want to start addressing in upcoming posts: what is conservative rule doing to our nation's soul? How is it rewiring our hearts and minds? What kind of damage are they doing to the American character? And can we ever recover?

So: what is the American character? Hard to say, of course. But I daresay we know it when we see it. Let me put before you an illustrative example: one week in September of 1959, when, much like one week in September of 2007, American soil supported a visit by what many, if not most Americans agreed was the most evil and dangerous man on the planet.

Digby: No Way, Baby

This week is the 50th anniversary of a seminal American event --- the desegregation of Central High in Little Rock Arkansas. It's a different world. But not different enough.

David Margolis has written a heart-rending profile in this months Vanity Fair about one member of the Little Rock 9, the brave African-American teenagers who faced the hostile white crowds and even the Arkansas National Guard, to attend high school with the white students of their small city. Here's how Margolis describes that first day when Elizabeth Eckford tried to walk to school:

Elizabeth's knees started to shake. She walked toward Central's main entrance and tried a third time; again, the soldiers blocked her way, but this time told her to cross the street. Now the crowd fell in behind her, shouting: "Lynch her! Lynch her!" "No nigger bitch is going to get in our school! Get out of here!" "Go back to where you came from!" Looking for a friendly face, she turned to an old woman, who spat on her. Before long, some 250 whites were at her heels. She knew she couldn't go back the way she'd come. But if she could only get to the bus stop a block ahead, she thought, she would be safe. She wanted to run, but thought she might fall down. Recording it all was 26-year-old Will Counts of the Arkansas Democrat. He felt sorry for Elizabeth, but he had a job to do; he just hoped he had enough film. "Lynch her!" someone shouted. "Send that nigger back to the jungle!"

It was a very ugly day. The kids were turned back. When they managed to get into Central High a few days later, the angry mob threatened to storm the school. Several days after that, a reluctant President Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne division and the Little Rock 9 were allowed into the school.

Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, It's the Oil, Stupid

Before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, discussion of Iraqi oil was largely taboo in the American mainstream, while the "No Blood for Oil" signs that dotted antiwar demonstrations were generally derisively dismissed as too simpleminded for serious debate. American officials rarely even mentioned the word "oil" in the same sentence with "Iraq." When President Bush referred to Iraqi oil, he spoke only of preserving that country's "patrimony" for its people, a sentiment he and Great Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair emphasized in a statement they issued that lacked either the words "oil" or "energy" just as Baghdad fell: "We reaffirm our commitment to protect Iraq's natural resources, as the patrimony of the people of Iraq, which should be used only for their benefit."

That May, not long after the President declared "major combat" at an end in Iraq, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz did point out the obvious -- that Iraq was a country that "floats on a sea of oil." He also told a Congressional panel: "The oil revenue of that country could bring between 50 and 100 billion dollars over the course of the next two or three years. We're dealing with a country that could really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."

Waxman: State Department blocking congressional probe

Warren P. Strobel | McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: September 25, 2007 07:46:15 PM

WASHINGTON — Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Cal., charged Tuesday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her aides are trying to impede congressional probes into corruption in Iraq and the activities of controversial private military contractor Blackwater USA.

Waxman, chairman of the House oversight committee, complained in a letter to Rice that the State Department this week barred its officials from talking to Congress about corruption in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's government unless those discussions are kept secret.

Inspector Finds Broad Failures in Oil Program

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 — The Interior Department’s program to collect billions of dollars annually from oil and gas companies that drill on federal lands is troubled by mismanagement, ethical lapses and fears of retaliation against whistle-blowers, the department’s chief independent investigator has concluded.

The report, a result of a yearlong investigation, grew out of complaints by four auditors at the agency, who said that senior administration officials had blocked them from recovering money from oil companies that underpaid the government.

Wings of Justice Honoree: Richard F. Daines

Dr. Richard F. Daines is the New York State Health Commissioner -- and unlike the ideological quacks in the Bush Administration, he is willing to take a stand on behalf of effective public health policies, untainted by the blindness of religious zealotry.

In short, Dr. Daines refused to accept $3.5 million a year for Bush Administration "abstinence only" programs in the Empire State.

In the Fever Swamp of the Radical Wingnuts

By Gavin McNett, AlterNet
Posted on September 26, 2007, Printed on September 26, 2007

The next time you find yourself inhabiting a quiet moment, listen closely and you'll be able to hear a clattery drone off in the distance. That's our right-wing opinion media, hammering and sawing away at another of those weird Trojan-animal contraptions they're always building -- another giant rickety thing with off-square corners and oval wheels, emblazoned with some slogan like "supporting our troops" or "defending marriage." They're planning to wheel it innocently up the hill, whereupon America will open the gates and let it in -- and you know how the story always goes from there.

It's always something new with those people. To switch metaphors abruptly, I cover what you might call the waterfront -- the dank and fishy between-realm that divides life as we know it from the vast sea of unexamined prejudices, of blind enthusiasms and angry yawpings that make up the right-wing urge in America. I write mostly about conservative pundits and bloggers, and mostly about the danker, fishier ones at medium-traffic blogs and at conservative news sites such as Townhall, WorldNetDaily, and Newsmax.

World's Water Supply at Risk

By Kevin Danaher and Shannon Biggs and Jason Mark, PoliPoint Press
Posted on September 26, 2007, Printed on September 26, 2007

The following conversation is an excerpt from the new book Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grassroots (PoliPointPress, 2007) by Kevin Danaher, Shannon Biggs, and Jason Mark. You can read more about the book here.

Maude Barlow is possibly the world's leading expert on water struggles. She is the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, that country's largest citizen's advocacy group, with members and chapters across Canada. She is a director with the International Forum on Globalization, a San Francisco research and education institution opposed to corporate globalization. In 2005, she received the prestigious "Right Livelihood Award," given by the Swedish Parliament and widely referred to as "The Alternative Nobel." She has received honorary doctorates from six universities and has authored or co-authored 15 books, including Too Close For Comfort: Canada's Future Within Fortress North America; and Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop Corporate Theft of the World's Water (with Tony Clarke). Her most recent book is Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Fight for the Right to Water.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Glenn Greenwald: David Brooks and the deceitful tactics of the Beltway pundit

As I've noted many times before, virtually every column David Brooks writes is grounded in one of two highly misleading tactics and, on special occasions, like today, are grounded in both. That's all there is to him. He just re-cycles these same two themes over and over in different forms.

The first tactic is merely the most commonplace conceit of the standard Beltway pundit: Brooks takes whatever opinions he happens to hold on a topic, and then -- without citing a single piece of evidence -- repeatedly asserts that "most Americans" hold this view, and then bases his entire "argument" on this premise. Thus, the only way for Democrats to have any hope of winning elections is to repudiate their radical, rabid Leftist base and instead follow Brooks' beliefs, because that is "centrism." This is actually a defining belief of the Beltway pundit, and it is as intellectually corrupt as an argument gets.

Americablog: Law firm of Bush's AG pick represents Iranian group "suspected" of being a "'front' for Iranian espionage and anti-American activities"

by Joe Sudbay (DC) · 9/25/2007 05:48:00 PM ET

Well, well, well. The GOPers have been apoplectic about Iran this week. It's not quite a state secret that Cheney wants to start a war with Iran. Today, Senators Kyl and Lieberman are pushing a dangerous Senate resolution that could move the U.S. closer to a war with that country. Giuliani, McCain and Romney have been in a frenzy about Iranian's president speech at Columbia. Duncan Hunter, who is easily one of the biggest buffoons in Congress (no small feat), wants to cut all federal funding for Columbia.

Now comes word from ABC's "The Blotter" that Bush's pick to be our nation's chief law enforcment officer has represented an alleged Iranian "front" group:

Frog deformities linked to farm pollution

11:31 25 September 2007 news service
Catherine Brahic

Fertiliser run-off could be causing an increase in frog deformities in North American lakes, according to a new study.

Frogs with extra or malformed legs have been a focus of attention in North America since 1995, when schoolchildren in Minnesota studying wetlands found a high number of frogs with missing or extra legs.

Treasury Rekindles Social Security Debate

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 25, 2007; Page D01

The Bush administration stepped up its attempt to build support for restructuring Social Security yesterday, saying in a Treasury Department report what it has said elsewhere: that the popular program will require either tax increases or cuts in benefits to remain viable in its current form.

For much of the past year, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. has been meeting with members of Congress from both parties in hopes of provoking action to put Social Security on secure financial footing. While those discussions have yielded no solutions, Paulson said, they have revealed that members of Congress share the administration's concern about severity of the problem.

Dan Froomkin: What Has Bush Done to the Government?

Special to
Monday, September 24, 2007; 1:30 PM

The last two times the Pew Research Center asked people to describe President Bush in a single word, chief among the overwhelmingly negative responses was the word "incompetent."

What makes that particularly fascinating is that it's a realization that the public has reached pretty much on its own.

Naomi Wolf's Call to Patriots


Democracies take nurturing. They're easy to pull down. The Founders understood that. It's a very dangerous time.

-- Naomi Wolf, Author, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot

* * *

We owe a great debt to Naomi Wolf, who cut her teeth in writing about a new generation of Feminist thinking, for writing this wake up call to America.

In interviewing Wolf, we could hear one of her children in the background. And in many ways, young people were on her mind when she penned "The End of America," because she is profoundly concerned that they may lose the gift of democracy and live under a dictatorship.

Naomi Klein Debates Alan Greenspan

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
Posted on September 25, 2007, Printed on September 25, 2007

AMY GOODMAN: As the credit crisis continues to grow and the US dollar hits a new low, we turn today to the former Chair of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan. Alan Greenspan headed the central bank in the United States for almost two decades. He was first appointed to this position in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan. Greenspan retired in January 2006, after deciding the fate of national interest rates under four different presidents. Dubbed "the Maestro," he was widely regarded as one of the world's most influential economic policymakers. He has just written a new 500-page memoir; it's called The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World.

Modern Humans Retain Caveman's Survival Instincts

Jeanna Bryner
LiveScience Staff Writer

Tue Sep 25, 9:20 AM ET

Like hunter-gatherers in the jungle, modern humans are still experts at spotting predators and prey, despite the developed world's safe suburbs and indoor lifestyle, a new study suggests.

The research, published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that humans today are hard-wired to pay attention to other people and animals much more so than non-living things, even if inanimate objects are the primary hazards for modern, urbanized folks.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Booman Tribune: The Big Neo-Con

by BooMan
Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 04:38:00 PM EST

Even though I pegged the 'Syria has North Korean nuclear weapons' story as horsecrap from the get-go, it's nice to get some confirmation. Nonetheless, the surfeit of stories that were seeded throughout the British and neo-con press shows that something is afoot. Perhaps Seymour Hersh put it best in a recent interview with Jewish Journal:

JJ: You turned 70 this year. Why keep working so hard?

SH: I don't work that hard. I write four or five pieces a year. Secondly, what do you want me to do? Play professional golf? I can't do that. You do what you can do. And I'm in a funny spot because I have an ability to communicate with people I have known for a number of years. They trust me, and I trust them, so I keep on doing these little marginal stories.

JJ: That's all they are? Marginal?

TPM Cafe: Simple Error My Ass

Well, if you buy the nonsense reported in the Washington Post, I have a bridge to sell you. According to Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus, the snafu involving missing nukes was just a bad mistake. They write:

A simple error in a missile storage room led to missteps at every turn, as ground crews failed to notice the warheads, and as security teams and flight crew members failed to provide adequate oversight and check the cargo thoroughly. An elaborate nuclear safeguard system, nurtured during the Cold War and infused with rigorous accounting and command procedures, was utterly debased, the investigation’s early results show.

Sorry boys and girls, but that is nonsense. You do not walk into an ammo/weapons bunker and sort thru a bunch a cruise missiles like a college freshman searching their laundry basket in the dark for a pair of matching socks.

An American Prius?

Japanese automakers have crushed the Big Three with their hybrids. Here's how U.S. carmakers could catch up.

When it comes to hybrids, the heavyweight tussle between American and Japanese automakers appears to be a hopeless mismatch. Toyota introduced its gas-electric hybrids in 1997 (when regular was $1.18 per gallon), and in June announced its 1 millionth hybrid sale. In the first eight months of this year, Toyota sold 189,945 hybrids in the United States, with Honda notching a respectable 24,000. As for the Americans? Don't ask. Ford doesn't break out sales of Escape and Mercury Mariner hybrids. At General Motors, hybrids—like long-promised market-share gains—are mostly concepts.

New study discovers why few people are devoid of racial bias

Why are some individuals not prejudiced? That is the question posed by a provocative new study appearing in the September issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The authors investigate how some individuals are able to avoid prejudicial biases despite the pervasive human tendency to favor one’s own group.

Robert Livingston of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Brian Drwecki of the University of Wisconsin conducted studies that examined white college students who harbored either some or no racial biases. What is remarkable about the findings is that only seven percent did not show any racial bias (as measured by implicit and explicit psychological tests), and that nonbiased individuals differed from biased individuals in a psychologically fundamental way -- they were less likely to form negative affective associations in general.

Researchers Find Eye Movement Can Affect Problem-solving, Cognition

By Steve McGaughey, Beckman Institute Writer

A pair of Beckman Institute researchers has discovered that by directing the eye movements of test subjects they were able to affect the participants’ ability to solve a problem, demonstrating that eye movement is not just a function of cognition but can actually affect our cognitive processes.

Previous research (Grant and Spivey, 2003) has shown a relationship between eye movements and problem-solving but Psychology Professor Alejandro Lleras, a member of the Human Perception and Performance group, and Ph.D. candidate Laura Thomas have taken that work in a groundbreaking direction.

Neocon Catholic leaders nurtured by GOP and Conservative Philanthropy on their heels

Catholic voters migrated back to the Democrats in the 2006 midterm elections. Was it a temporary move or are they heading home for the long term?

In the 2004 presidential election cycle, Catholics, whose vote was considered open to both parties, were carefully courted by the Republicans. GOP organizers -- accompanied by their neoconservative Catholic brethren -- brought the "traditional family values" mantra to the table, highlighting supposed agreement between Catholics and conservative evangelical Christians on two major issues -- abortion and same-sex marriage.

Generals opposing Iraq war break with military tradition

September 23, 2007

The generals acted independently, coming in their own ways to the agonizing decision to defy military tradition and publicly criticize the Bush administration over its conduct of the war in Iraq.

What might be called The Revolt of the Generals has rarely happened in the nation's history.

Paul Krugman: Politics in Black and White

Last Thursday there was a huge march in Jena, La., to protest the harsh and unequal treatment of six black students arrested in the beating of a white classmate. Students who hung nooses to warn blacks not to sit under a “white” tree were suspended for three days; on the other hand, the students accused in the beating were initially charged with second-degree attempted murder.

And one of the Jena Six remains in jail, even though appeals courts have voided his conviction on the grounds that he was improperly tried as an adult.

Tipping the Scales of Justice in Jena

By Amy Goodman, King Features Syndicate
Posted on September 19, 2007, Printed on September 24, 2007

The tree at Jena High School has been cut down, but the furor around it has only grown.

"What did the tree do wrong?" asked Katrina Wallace, a stepsister of one of the Jena Six, when I interviewed her at the Burger Barn in Jena, La. "I planted it 14 years ago as a tree of knowledge."

Fred Thompson: Desperate Republicans Cheer for a Reagan Wannabe

By Matt Taibbi,
Posted on September 24, 2007, Printed on September 24, 2007

I can say exactly when I first knew that Fred Dalton Thompson is dangerous. It is 12:07 p.m. on Sunday, September 9th, in Manchester, New Hampshire, just outside a restaurant called Chez Vachon. Thompson has just served up another mumbling, noncommittal tour through a packed diner of breakfasting locals, sitting glumly through the requisite this-sure-is-great-coffee shot. Then, once the needed photos are banked, the lumbering B-list character actor -- who plays a video called "The Hunt for Red November" at every campaign stop and sells buttons that, in an unsettlingly McLuhanian twist, pimp him as the "Law and Order candidate" -- tries to make a quick beeline back to his bus. But a cheeky local TV reporter shouts at him before he can reach the door.

"Senator!" the reporter calls out. "What's harder, playing the president or being the president?"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Albion's Seed, Part II: The Cavaliers 1642-1675

-- by Sara

Part I

The wave of Puritan migration from England to America slowed dramatically after 1641. Through the English Civil War and Cromwell's Protectorate, the Puritans found themselves politically and economically ascendant in England -- which greatly diminished their interest in leaving it. But the Puritan victory came at the expense of another English subculture, whose flight from Cromwell propelled the second wave of English migration to America.

These were the Cavaliers -- loyal Royalists, many of them nobles and courtiers, who sought refuge from the chaos in Virginia. David Hackett Fischer notes that Southern historians have long debated the actual extent and effects of the Cavaliers' influence on the region's culture; but 210 pages of Albion's Seed are given over to studying their specific folkways and cultural values as they existed on the estates of southern England, and as they later expressed themselves in the Chesapeake region. The detailed analysis is convincing: like the Puritans, the Cavaliers brought the culture they knew, and transplanted it firmly and deeply in the soil of tidewater Virginia. In the process, they added a second enduring English voice to America's conversation about rights, freedom, and power.

A Light on Slaves' Lives

Model Cabin at Mount Vernon Fulfills a Curiosity About the Toiling Hundreds

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 20, 2007; Page B01

Joann Bagnerise couldn't bring herself to visit George Washington's home at Mount Vernon, driving by without stopping, thinking too much about the hundreds of slaves who had labored in the mansion and fields beyond the brick walls.

Even yesterday, as the Dumfries resident sat in the warm sun near the estate's new model of a slave cabin, she said she was filled with conflicting emotions.

Frank Rich: Pardon Poor Larry Craig

"I DID nothing wrong," said Larry Craig at the start of his long national nightmare as America's favorite running, or perhaps sitting, gag. That's the truth. Justice lovers of all sexual persuasions must rally to save the Idaho senator before he is forced to prematurely evacuate his seat.

Time's running out. The final reckoning may arrive this week. On Wednesday, a Minnesota court will hear Mr. Craig's argument to throw out the guilty plea he submitted by mail after being caught in a June sex sting in the Minneapolis airport. If he succeeds, there's a chance he might rescind his decision to resign from the Senate on Sept. 30. Either way, he should hold tight.

Missteps in the Bunker

Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, September 23, 2007; Page A01

Just after 9 a.m. on Aug. 29, a group of U.S. airmen entered a sod-covered bunker on North Dakota's Minot Air Force Base with orders to collect a set of unarmed cruise missiles bound for a weapons graveyard. They quickly pulled out a dozen cylinders, all of which appeared identical from a cursory glance, and hauled them along Bomber Boulevard to a waiting B-52 bomber.

The airmen attached the gray missiles to the plane's wings, six on each side. After eyeballing the missiles on the right side, a flight officer signed a manifest that listed a dozen unarmed AGM-129 missiles. The officer did not notice that the six on the left contained nuclear warheads, each with the destructive power of up to 10 Hiroshima bombs.

Glenn Greenwald: The art of neoconservative innuendo

Writing in National Review a couple of days ago, Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute blatantly violated the New Rule in America which prohibits questioning the credibility of a four-star General in a Time of War, when Ledeen (during a Time of War) attacked recently retired Four-Star General John Abizaid for explaining why a nuclear-armed Iran is less dangerous than a U.S. war with Iran. Said Ledeen in attacking the General:

Abizaid Speaks! Oh Dear... [Michael Ledeen]

General Abizaid has unburdened himself on the subject of nuclear Iran. He thinks Iran is kinda like the Soviet Union, it's deterrable, and while he'd rather Iran not have nukes, all in all we could live with it. . . .

I'm grateful for this bit of enlightenment from the former commander of Central Command, whose failed strategy in Iraq led us to fight more effectively, especially against the Iranians' depredations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It was under Abizaid that the copious evidence of Iranian activity was suppressed, and we, let's say, took it easy on the thousands of Revolutionary Guards killers running all over the country. He now wants to extend that policy to Iran itself. He's got plenty of company in Foggy Bottom, Langley, and the White House.

So Gen. Abizaid, who "failed" in his mission, also "suppressed" the "copious evidence" of Iranian involvement in Iraq. That sounds like Ledeen is accusing General Abizaid of being less than honest -- how else can one characterize someone who "suppresses" evidence? -- and that, as we learned this week, is not allowed. The Commander-in-Chief just explained this morning that such attacks are "disgusting" and constitute attacks on The Troops Themselves.

Tracking Political Prosecutions

In the last two weeks, two sources, one of them inside of the Justice Department, have told me that a scheme was hatched in the upper echelons of the Bush Administration shortly after it took office in 2001 or early in 2002. The project identified John Edwards and Hillary Clinton as likely Democratic challengers to President Bush, and identified prominent trial lawyers around the United States as the likely financial vehicle for Edward’s rise. It directed that their campaign finance records be fly-specked, and that offenses not be treated as administrative matters but rather as serious criminal offenses.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

TPM: Coming around on gay marriage

Good words from Talking Points Memo--Dictynna

I think there's a pattern here for conservatives and their social attitudes. They don't mind restrictions on free speech, until they have something provocative to say. They want to restrict reproductive rights, until someone close to them has an unwanted pregnancy. They want to break down the church-state wall, until they feel like their faith is in the minority. They want to treat embryos as people, until they suffer from an ailment that could benefit from stem-cell research.

And they balk at the idea of equal rights for gay people, until it's their daughter who is looking for equality.

The key to social change in this country seems fairly straightforward: wait for conservatives to have more life experience.--Steve Benen

Exclusive: Petraeus' Sectarian Death Count Methodology Revealed

In the debate over the surge, there have been a number of questions raised within the government about an important metric for understanding whether the U.S. military's strategy is succeeding -- how Multinational Force-Iraq calculates sectarian violence.

Earlier this month, David Walker of the Government Accountability Office testified that he could not "get comfortable" with General David Petraeus' methodology for determining sectarianism, considering it too inferential to be reliable. His report, echoing objections from senior intelligence officials, instead tabulated the pace of attacks on civilians and found the surge didn't appear to have a significant effect on civilian-targeted violence. However, relying on data interpreted through the MNF-I methodology, Petraeus testified that sectarian violence had fallen in Iraq to mid-2006 levels.

Glenn Greenwald: Giuliani's proposal for endless Middle East wars

In London this week, Rudy Giuliani proposed what is probably the single most extremist policy of any major presidential candidate, certainly this year and perhaps in many years:

Rudy Giuliani talked tough on Iran yesterday, proposing to expand NATO to include Israel and warning that if Iran's leaders go ahead with their goal to be a nuclear power "we will prevent it, or we will set them back five or 10 years." . . . .

While Giuliani did not explicitly address the implications for Iran of adding Israel to NATO in his speech, his aides later highlighted a 2006 Heritage Foundation paper by Nile Gardiner, a former Thatcher aide who was announced as a new Giuliani adviser yesterday.

Paul Krugman: Health Care Hopes

All the evidence suggests that it has finally become politically possible to give Americans what citizens of every other advanced nation already have: guaranteed health insurance. The economics of universal health care are sound, and polls show strong public support for guaranteed care. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of that around.

PM Carpenter: My conservative epiphany

September 22, 2007

Kimberley Strassel, a Wall Street Journal editorial fiction writer, yesterday produced a fine piece of outrage that managed, in a mere 1000 words, to encapsulate modern conservatism's fundamentalist fiscal philosophy: "Trillions for defense, but not a sixpence for homefolks."

Ms. Strassel's precise target was, of course, the horrifying State Children's Health Insurance Program bill -- bipartisan legislation that recognizes that lower middle-class children without healthcare nevertheless shall remain healthcare-less despite their demographic status, unless something is done. Imagine that.

Blackwater's 'Drug War' Bonanza

While Blackwater's mercenaries beg for mercy for killing a baby and 19 other people in Baghdad on Sunday, they're already working on another lucrative government contract on yet another foreign adventure: the "war on drugs."

In a major new outsourcing deal reported by only a few outlets, including the Army Times, Blackwater will divvy up a $15 billion pot of government gold, along with four huge defense contractors: Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Arinc.

Blackwater, Oil and the Colonial Enterprise

John Nichols
Fri Sep 21, 2:49 PM ET

The Nation -- Blackwater USA's mercenary mission in Iraq is very much in the news this week, and rightly so. The private military contractor's war-for-profit program, which has been so brilliantly exposed by Jeremy Scahill, may finally get a measure of the official scrutiny it merits as the corporation scrambles to undo the revocation by the Iraqi government of its license to operate in that country. There will be official inquiries in Baghdad, and in Washington. The U.S. Congress might actually provide some of the oversight that is its responsibility. Perhaps, and this is a big "perhaps," Blackwater's "troops" could come home before the U.S. soldiers who have been forced to fight, and die, in defense of these international rent-a-cops.

Feds Target Blackwater in Weapons Probe

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors are investigating whether employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA illegally smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, officials said Friday.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh, N.C., is handling the investigation with help from Pentagon and State Department auditors, who have concluded there is enough evidence to file charges, the officials told The Associated Press. Blackwater is based in Moyock, N.C.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Katha Pollitt: Don't Like Noam Chomsky? Try Alan Greenspan

Remember Michael Ignatieff's "Getting Iraq Wrong," the New York Times Sunday Magazine essay in which he explained that he supported the war in Iraq because he was a sensitive academic prone to big dreams? Ignatieff managed to admit that he had been wrong while attacking the people who'd been right all along: "Many of those who correctly anticipated catastrophe did so not by exercising judgment but by indulging in ideology," he wrote. "They opposed the invasion because they believed the President was only after the oil or because they believed America is always and in every situation wrong." Not very gracious, that.

Columbia U. to let Iran president speak

By AMY WESTFELDT, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 25 minutes ago

Columbia University planned Friday to go forward with a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while the city mobilized security to protect him from protests during his New York visit.

Ahmadinejad, who is to arrive in New York on Sunday to address the United Nations General Assembly, is scheduled to speak at a Columbia question-and-answer forum on Monday. His request to lay a wreath at the World Trade Center site was denied and condemned by Sept. 11 family members and politicians.

Teen girls report abusive boyfriends try to get them pregnant

UC-Davis researcher urges healthcare providers to look for signs of intimate partner violence

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Seven years ago, Elizabeth Miller was a volunteer physician in a community-based clinic in Boston, Mass., which offered confidential services to teens. She is still haunted by the memory of a 15-year old girl who asked her for a pregnancy test. It was negative, but two weeks later the girl was treated for a severe head injury in a nearby emergency room. The girl’s boyfriend had pushed her down a flight of stairs.

“I assumed all she needed was to be educated about her contraceptive options,” Miller recalled. “Later, I wondered what I had missed. Could I have asked a question that would have identified that she was in an abusive relationship"”

Arctic sea ice minimum shatters all-time record low

Scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center said today that the extent of Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its minimum for 2007 on Sept. 16, shattering all previous lows since satellite record-keeping began nearly 30 years ago.

The Arctic sea ice extent on Sept. 16 stood at 1.59 million square miles, or 4.13 million square kilometers, as calculated using a five-day running average, according to the team. Compared to the long-term minimum average from 1979 to 2000, the new minimum extent was lower by about 1 million square miles -- an area about the size of Alaska and Texas combined, or 10 United Kingdoms, they reported.

Stop Blaming The Baby Boomers

Guest blogger Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Over the last two decades, there has been an effort by the enemies of Social Security and Medicare to demonize the baby boomers as a threat to country’s prosperity and the well-being of our children and grandchildren.

They have repeatedly warned of the enormous projected cost of Social Security and Medicare and called on the current or future elderly to sacrifice their benefits under these programs for the common good. We heard endless tales of $70 trillion dollar-plus deficits and how our children and grandchildren would face crushing tax burdens unless the greedy soon to be geezers accepted large cuts in their Social Security and Medicare benefits.

We Have Seen the Enemy — And Surrendered

Bow your heads and raise the white flags. After facing down the Third Reich, the Japanese Empire, the U.S.S.R., Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein, the United States has met an enemy it dares not confront – the American private health insurance industry.

With the courageous exception of Dennis Kucinich, the Democratic candidates have all rolled out health “reform” plans that represent total, Chamberlain-like, appeasement. Edwards and Obama propose universal health insurance plans that would in no way ease the death grip of Aetna, Unicare, MetLife, and the rest of the evil-doers. Clinton – why are we not surprised? – has gone even further, borrowing the Republican idea of actually feeding the private insurers by making it mandatory to buy their product. Will I be arrested if I resist paying $10,000 a year for a private policy laden with killer co-pays and deductibles?

Attytood: More proof "the surge is working"

There's been a lot going on this week -- so much that I haven't been able to comment on maybe the biggest story of all, and that is the uproar surrounding the U.S. security firm Blackwater USA and its alleged shooting up of civilians in Baghdad. It's the biggest story because Iraqis are so angry over this, it may be the final tipping point in their relationship with their self-proclaimed liberators.

Tonight I see that Matt Drudge -- the man who "rules our world" in the DC politico-journalism complex -- has decreed that the right-wing version of what went down with Blackwater in Baghdad is the storyline that needs to get out there. And so he's done something he only does in a pinch and linked not to a mainstream news org but to the conservative Pajamas Media, and its correspondent Richard Miniter.

U.S. ramps up pressure on Iran

Warren P. Strobel | McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: September 18, 2007 07:42:20 PM

WASHINGTON — One year after the United States launched an intensified global economic campaign against Iran with the stated aim of halting Tehran’s nuclear work, the Bush administration is counting its successes — and calling for still more pressure.

In recent months, once-reluctant European countries have joined the effort, which some are calling a financial war, with more vigor.

Dan Froomkin: What's Bush's Big Secret?

Special to
Friday, September 21, 2007; 1:56 PM

President Bush knows lots more nimble ways to dodge a question than snapping "no comment." So what was so hush-hush about Israel's recent bombing raid that he couldn't come up with anything to say about it -- or even find an elegant way to explain his silence?

Do Not Call Listings Aren't Forever

Associated Press Writer
2:32 PM CDT, September 21, 2007


The cherished dinner hour void of telemarketers could vanish next year for millions of people when phone numbers begin dropping off the national Do Not Call list.

The Federal Trade Commission, which oversees the list, says there is a simple fix. But some lawmakers think it is a hassle to expect people to re-register their phone numbers every five years.

Self-Declared Liberals Have Nothing to Be Afraid of

By Greg Colvin, AlterNet
Posted on September 21, 2007, Printed on September 21, 2007

I often think it's comical -- Fal, lal, la!
How Nature always does contrive -- Fal, lal, la!
That every boy and every gal
That's born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative!
Fal, lal, la!
—Iolanthe, Gilbert and Sullivan, 1882
Hillary Clinton: "... So I consider myself a proud modern American progressive, and I think that's the kind of philosophy and practice that we need to bring back to American politics." Anderson Cooper: "So you wouldn't use the word liberal, you'd say progressive?" Hillary Clinton: [nods] --CNN-YouTube presidential primary debate, July 23, 2007

It is time for a fresh look at how we label political viewpoints in America.

These days, the terms left and right, liberal and conservative, are most often applied to ideas, groups, and individuals by those aiming to discredit them. Not a very reliable way of understanding what the words mean.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jesus' General: A true family values candidate enters the race.

This is satire, for those who are new to the General.--Dictynna

Alan Keyes
GOP Presidential Candidate

Dear Mr. Keyes,

Like many god-fearing Americans, I answer the Values Voters Debate organizer's call to fast in order "to let God know we're serious about restoring righteous leadership to our land. Pray He uses the V2 Debate to reveal His choice." I see today's news that you've entered the presidential race as God's response to the many bags of Cheetos and cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon I've forgone this week.

Until now, I haven't seen a presidential candidate I can fully support. Sure, they're all good on values issues like finding new, more painful ways to torture people, but by God, as far as I know not a single one of them have blamed 911 on abortion or spoken out against the abomination of allowing people to elect their senators. You're the only one.

And by God, no candidate, not even Sam Brownback or Mike Huckabee, has stood up for family values by disowning one of their own children for being a homosexual. I thank you for it. A candidate can't get any more family values than that.

Paul Krugman's New Blog: The Conscience of a Liberal

“I was born in 1953. Like the rest of my generation, I took the America I grew up in for granted – in fact, like many in my generation I railed against the very real injustices of our society, marched against the bombing of Cambodia, went door to door for liberal candidates. It’s only in retrospect that the political and economic environment of my youth stands revealed as a paradise lost, an exceptional episode in our nation’s history.”

That’s the opening paragraph of my new book, The Conscience of a Liberal. It’s a book about what has happened to the America I grew up in and why, a story that I argue revolves around the politics and economics of inequality.

I’ve given this New York Times blog the same name, because the politics and economics of inequality will, I expect, be central to many of the blog posts – although I also expect to be posting on a lot of other issues, from health care to high-speed Internet access, from productivity to poll analysis. Many of the posts will be supplements to my regular columns; I’ll be using this space to present the kind of information I can’t provide on the printed page – especially charts and tables, which are crucial to the way I think about most of the issues I write about.

Secondhand smoke increases teen test failure

Teens exposed to secondhand smoke at home are at increased risk of test failure in school, suggests a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“Our retrospective study suggests that in adolescents, secondhand smoke exposure could interfere with academic test performance,” said lead author Bradley Collins, Ph.D., assistant professor of public health and director of the Health Behavior Research Clinic at Temple University.

Are Democrats planning still worse FISA capitulations?

The enactment in August by the Democratic Congress of new eavesdropping powers for the President was one of the worst, if not the single worst, acts of capitulation to the Bush White House. The only comparable disgrace was the Democrats' complete failure even to attempt a filibuster of the Military Commissions Act, largely due to their decision to allow John McCain, John Warner and Lindsey Graham to speak for them so that they did not have to participate in the debate. Once those three GOP Senators predictably blessed the MCA, Democrats had no strategy and thus actively enabled the abolition of habeas corpus along with the other abuses that Act legalized.

The FISA capitulation, though, was probably even worse. It occurred when they supposedly control the Congress. They enlarged the President's powers under the very law that he has been violating for years. They gave the Bush White House what it demanded even though the White House continues to provide them with no meaningful information about what was done during all those years when they eavesdropped on Americans in secret. And Democrats passed the law in a frenzy, under the crassest and most transparent exploitation of the Terrorist Threat ("a Terrorist attack is about to happen in DC and the blood will be on your hands unless you pass the bill we dictate").

Fears of dollar collapse as Saudis take fright

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor
Last Updated: 8:39am BST 20/09/2007

Saudi Arabia has refused to cut interest rates in lockstep with the US Federal Reserve for the first time, signalling that the oil-rich Gulf kingdom is preparing to break the dollar currency peg in a move that risks setting off a stampede out of the dollar across the Middle East.

Alan Greenspan: The Fraud

By William Greider,
Posted on September 20, 2007, Printed on September 20, 2007

Alan Greenspan has come back from the tomb of history to correct the record. He did not make any mistakes in his eighteen-year tenure as Federal Reserve chairman. He did not endorse the regressive Bush tax cuts of 2001 that pumped up the federal deficits and aggravated inequalities. He did not cause the housing bubble that is now in collapse. He did not ignore the stock market bubble that subsequently melted away and cost investors $6 trillion. He did not say the Iraq War is "largely about oil."

Check the record. These are all lies.

Top Military Recruitment Lies

By Aimee Allison and David Solnit, Seven Stories Press
Posted on September 20, 2007, Printed on September 20, 2007

Editor's Note: The following is excerpted from Army of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War and Build a Better World published by Seven Stories Press, August 2007. Reprinted here by permission of publisher. Copyright © 2007 Aimee Allison and David Solnit

Top military recruitment facts

1. Recruiters lie. According the New York Times, nearly one of five United States Army recruiters was under investigation in 2004 for offenses varying from "threats and coercion to false promises that applicants would not be sent to Iraq." One veteran recruiter told a reporter for the Albany Times Union, "I've been recruiting for years, and I don't know one recruiter who wasn't dishonest about it. I did it myself."

2. The military contract guarantees nothing. The Department of Defense's own enlistment/re-enlistment document states, "Laws and regulations that govern military personnel may change without notice to me. Such changes may affect my status, pay allowances, benefits and responsibilities as a member of the Armed Forces REGARDLESS of the provisions of this enlistment/re-enlistment document" (DD Form4/1, 1998, Sec.9.5b).

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Glenn Greenwald: Limitless wrongness

Here is a review of what we learned last week from the right-wing noise machine and their enabling media puppets: Americans trust Gen. Petraeus and do not want his credibility questioned. The week was a big win for President Bush and his Iraq policy. The MoveOn newspaper ad, like 9/11, was Going to Change Everything -- it was a devastating event for Democrats, a transformative moment that would embolden Republicans and revitalize support for the war.

A new CBS poll, comparing the views of Americans Before Petraues (B.P.) and After Petraeus (A.P.), demonstrates that all of that was completely wrong:

Most Americans continue to want troops to start coming home from Iraq, and most say the plan President Bush announced last week for troop reductions doesn't go far enough, according to a CBS News poll released Monday. . . .

Racism's cognitive toll: Subtle discrimination is more taxing on the brain

While certain expressions of racism are absent from our world today, you do not have to look very hard to know that more subtle forms of racism persist, in schools and workplaces and elsewhere. How do victims experience these more ambiguous racist messages" Are they less damaging than overt hostility" And what are the mental and emotional pathways by which these newer forms of discrimination actually cause personal harm"

Psychologists have some theories about how the experience of racism plays out in the brain—and what that means today compared to before. All human beings are driven by a few core needs, including the need to understand the world around us. When people do things to us, we must know why, and if we are uncertain we will spend whatever cognitive power we have available to diagnose the situation.

Webb's Righteous Amendment

The best thing about the grey eminence John Warner finally leaving the Senate is that he will no longer be around to play Lucy pulling the football away from the Democrats at the last minute any more. For some reason, the political establishment persists in seeing him as some sort of independent player when he has actually been one of the more destructive forces in the Congress, using his status as elder statesman to give cover over and over again to the worst excesses of the GOP.

Last fall the Democratic leaders in the Senate allowed Sens. Warner, Lindsay Graham and John McCain to negotiate the Destroy Habeas Corpus Act (also known as the Military Commissions Act) with the White House. High-fives were exchanged all around at what a brilliant idea it was to have the great and good Warner, the torture victim McCain and the always reasonable Graham stand up to the White House and force an internecine battle to save the Constitution on behalf of decent people everywhere. Except, as any sentient person could have predicted (and did!) Warner, McCain and Graham "caved." And the result was one of the lowest points in modern congressional history. (Senators Dodd and Leahy are going to try to get it restored this week.)

Interest rates slashed to help economy

Fed's dramatic action lowers target on key short-term rate for the first time in 4 years - to 4.75% - and signals more cuts could be coming.
By Paul R. La Monica, editor at large

NEW YORK ( -- The Federal Reserve cut the target on a key short-term interest rate by half of a percentage point Tuesday to 4.75% in a bold acknowledgement that the central bank is concerned the mortgage meltdown plaguing Wall Street and Main Street could hurt the economy.

The Fed also indicated that more rate cuts could be on the way, news that investors cheered.

Military Sued Over Religious Freedom

(09-18) 16:35 PDT FORT RILEY, Kan. (AP) --

A soldier whose superior prevented him from holding a meeting for atheists and other non-Christians is suing the Defense Department, claiming it violated his right to religious freedom.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., alleges a pattern of practices that discriminate against non-Christians in the military. It was filed Monday to coincide with the 220th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.

NYT Editorial: Considering Mr. Mukasey

Michael Mukasey, President Bush’s nominee to be attorney general, is being promoted as a “consensus choice,” which is meant to signal the Senate that it should be grateful and confirm him without delay. Mr. Mukasey is clearly better than some of the “loyal Bushies” whose names had been floated, but that should not decide the matter. The Senate needs to question him closely about troubling aspects of his record, and make sure he is willing to take the tough steps necessary to repair a very damaged Justice Department.

Mr. Mukasey has attributes that could make him a good attorney general. He has been a lawyer and federal district court judge in New York, where he enjoys a good reputation. Although he is not divorced from politics (he is on an advisory committee to Rudolph Giuliani’s campaign), it is unlikely that he would run the Justice Department as an adjunct of the White House, or a booster of the Republican Party, as Alberto Gonzales did.

Pentagon, State Department Debunk Bush Fabrications on Iran

By Gareth Porter, IPS News
Posted on September 19, 2007, Printed on September 19, 2007

In his prepared statement to the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees last week, General David Petraeus claimed that Iran is using the Quds Force to turn Shi'ite militias into a "Hezbollah-like force" to "fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq."

But Petraeus then shattered that carefully constructed argument by volunteering in answering a question that the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, had in essence left Iraq. "The Quds Force itself, we believe, by and large those individuals have been pulled out of the country, as have the Lebanese Hezbollah trainers that were being used to augment that activity."

Why Iraqi Farmers Might Prefer Death to Paul Bremer's Order 81

By Nancy Scola, AlterNet
Posted on September 19, 2007, Printed on September 19, 2007

Anyone hearing about central India's ongoing epidemic of farmer suicides, where growers are killing themselves at a terrifying clip, has to be horrified. But among the more disturbed must be the once-grand poobah of post-invasion Iraq, U.S. diplomat L. Paul Bremer.

Why Bremer? Because Indian farmers are choosing death after finding themselves caught in a loop of crop failure and debt rooted in genetically modified and patented agriculture -- the same farming model that Bremer introduced to Iraq during his tenure as administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the American body that ruled the "new Iraq" in its chaotic early days.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Digby: General Heretic

Let's see if the right maintains its reverence for the every utterance of Iraq war commanders when they get a load of this:
Every effort should be made to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, but failing that, the world could live with a nuclear-armed regime in Tehran, a recently retired commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East said Monday.

John Abizaid, the retired Army general who headed Central Command for nearly four years, said he was confident that if Iran gained nuclear arms, the United States could deter it from using them.

A Surge, and Then a Stab

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Friday 14 September 2007

To understand what's really happening in Iraq, follow the oil money, which already knows that the surge has failed.

Back in January, announcing his plan to send more troops to Iraq, President Bush declared that "America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced."

Near the top of his list was the promise that "to give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis."