Thursday, January 31, 2008
It's an apt metaphor. The genius of the conservative emergence during the 1970s was in the way it reached out to three large, deeply discontented tribes, and brought them all together under Lee Atwater's "big tent" -- which quickly turned into a red-striped big top full of the most bizarre acts anyone had ever seen. In its 20-year heyday, the whole dazzling circus was a blur of non-stop noise and glitter bouncing and glinting across three rings, three different shows -- and three sets of supporters each contributing something essential to the success of the Greatest Show in Politics.
The latest economic news is striking. The U.S. economy has come to a "virtual standstill." The bubble has burst and, with anxious global markets registering the shock, other bubble economies worldwide continue to shudder at the possibility that American consumers might be forced to rein in their decade-long buying spree of imported goods.
Though any reader of newspaper business pages has surely noticed that oil news, oil deals, and oil prices have been front and center, the role of oil in our new economic moment has been underemphasized of late. It's hard even to remember -- now that the price of a barrel of crude oil has hit the $100 mark and still hovers around $91 -- that, in the week after September 11, 2001, oil was still under $20 a barrel. Think of this as another modest accomplishment of the Bush administration, helped along by its rash war in Iraq, which actually took oil off the market. In a mere six years, we've gone from the era of cheap oil to the era of pricy petroleum or "tough oil", with a new spike at the gas pump expected as early as this spring. The results are now there for all to see -- in growing misery at home as well as stunning global financial and power shifts.
While thousands of Mississippians who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina remain in FEMA trailers, the federal government on Friday approved a state plan to spend $600 million in grants earmarked for housing on a major expansion of the state-owned port — a project that could eventually include casino and resort facilities.
The money in question is part of $5.5 billion in HUD Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) that Congress authorized for Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005. Administered by the Mississippi Development Authority, about $3.4 billion was allocated to replace and repair some of the nearly 170,000 owner-occupied homes destroyed or damaged by the storm. Another $600 million was set aside for programs to replace public housing, help small landlords fix their units and foster construction of new low- and moderate-income housing.
Sheekey was miserable during the first term, adrift without a real role, until Bloomberg put him in charge of the city’s end of the 2004 Republican convention. One fringe benefit was getting to know Mark McKinnon, the Democrat turned Republican political consultant who helped make George W. Bush president...
Now I realize that there are no delegates being awarded and maybe there won't be at the convention either. There are people talking about holding a new caucus later in the process so they do a mulligan in the state. And I also know that many people think Clinton is running some sort of scam and that she'll unfairly try to seat her delegates and that it's inappropriate for her to have a rally in Florida to celebrate "winning" etc, etc. Fine. That's all party politics and it's not what I'm talking about. It will be worked out one way or the other.
As legislators and federal officials prepared to leave town for the Christmas recess last month, Congress hurriedly passed a massive 3,400-page spending bill to keep the government running for the next fiscal year. Tucked inside the report language of the omnibus bill, and not technically bound by the force of law, were nearly 9,000 congressional earmarks worth an estimated $7.5 billion.
Whether they voted for Mukasey or not, Democrats widely want him to examine the interrogation tactic designed to make the subject think he is drowning, and answer definitively: Is it illegal torture?
"I do believe he will be a truly nonpolitical, nonpartisan attorney general; that he will make his views very clear; and that, once he has the opportunity to do the evaluation he believes he needs on waterboarding, he will be willing to come before the Judiciary Committee and express his views comprehensively and definitively," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, one of the six who voted with the majority for confirmation.
WASHINGTON — The House voted on Tuesday to approve a $146 billion fiscal stimulus package, hoping to seal a fast-paced deal with President Bush on tax rebates and business incentives intended to jolt the economy with new spending.
But the deal, which would be the most striking show of bipartisan cooperation since Democrats won control of Congress in 2006, was at risk as Senate Democrats forged ahead with their own, more expensive plan and jockeyed over what to include in it.
With President Bush, you always have to read the footnotes.
Just before Monday night’s State of the Union speech, in which Mr. Bush extolled bipartisanship, railed against government excesses and promised to bring the troops home as soon as it’s safe to withdraw, the White House undermined all of those sentiments with the latest of the president’s infamous signing statements.
The signing statements are documents that earlier presidents generally used to trumpet their pleasure at signing a law, or to explain how it would be enforced. More than any of his predecessors, the current chief executive has used the pronouncements in a passive-aggressive way to undermine the power of Congress.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
By Jon Boone in Khost
Published: January 29 2008 22:12 | Last updated: January 29 2008 22:12
The US military is funding the construction of Islamic schools, or madrassas, in the east of Afghanistan in an attempt to stem the tide of young people going to radical religious schools in Pakistan.
Such schools spawned the Taliban movement, which harboured Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader behind the September 11 terror attacks on the US, before it was swept from power in 2001.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008; 1:02 PM
It's about as basic as it gets: Congress has the power of the purse. And Section 1222 of the massive defense appropriation bill enacted this week asserts that power. It reads, in its entirety:
"No funds appropriated pursuant to an authorization of appropriations in this Act may be obligated or expended for a purpose as follows:
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Monday, Jan. 28, 2008, at 11:54 PM ET
The sad thing about President George W. Bush's final State of the Union address is that he seems to have learned so little about the crises in which he's immersed his nation so deeply.
His first words on foreign policy in tonight's address reprised the theme of previous addresses: "We trust that people, when given the chance, will choose a future of freedom and peace." He cited, as "stirring" examples of this principle, the "images" of citizens demanding independence in Ukraine and Lebanon, of Afghans emerging from the Taliban's tyranny, of "jubilant Iraqis holding up ink-stained fingers" to celebrate free elections.
By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 27, 2008; A03
A small but growing number of American families beset by major medical problems are learning the hard way that simply having health insurance is sometimes not enough.
Those who need organ transplants or who have hemophilia, Gaucher disease or other costly chronic illnesses can easily rack up medical bills that blow through the lifetime benefits cap of $1 million or more that is a standard part of many insurance policies.
Dave Roberts of Grist takes a look  at Newt Gingrich's innovative new environmental proposals which, unsurprisingly, looks like another fantastic opportunity for rich people to bleed the taxpayers:
[W]hat Gingrich recommends is, in Sean's phrasing , pro-business, not pro-market. He wants to ladle out public money to favored corporations while shielding them from any regulations....This is what passes for conservative in today's party of economic royalists, but it is not conservative in the original sense.
It leaves Gingrich with very little to offer beyond media-friendly rhetoric. Look at the answer he offers Sierra Magazine  (in a roundtable well worth reading) on what the next president and Congress should do first:
By Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON - Almost exactly five years after it reached its zenith with the invasion of Iraq, the influence of neo-conservatives has waned sharply in Washington, as their nemeses, the "realists" in the national security bureaucracy, have increasingly asserted control over US foreign policy.
While battered, however, neo-conservatives have not yet been forced from the field. And while their hopes that President George W Bush would "take out" Iran's nuclear program before leaving office appear to have diminished substantially, their hawkish voice is still heard loud and clear both in the White House - courtesy of Vice President Dick Cheney's office and Deputy National Security adviser Elliott Abrams - and in this year's Republican presidential race, where neo-conservative favorites include former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator John McCain, and, until earlier last week, Fred Thompson.
By Pam Martens, CounterPunch
Posted on January 27, 2008, Printed on January 29, 2008
The massive losses by big Wall Street firms, now topping those of the Great Depression in relative terms, have yet to be adequately explained. Wall Street power players are obfuscating and Congress is too embarrassed or frightened to ask, preferring to just throw money at the problem and hope it goes away. But as job losses and foreclosures mount and pensions and 401(k)s shrink, public policy measures to address the economic stresses require a full set of unembellished facts.The proof that Wall Street is giving mainstream media a stage-managed version of what went wrong begins with a strange revelation by Gary Crittenden, CFO of Citigroup, on the November 5, 2007 conference call where he discusses what have now become the largest losses in the firm's 196-year history. Mr. Crittenden is asked by an analyst why the firm didn't hedge its risk.
Monday, January 28, 2008
By Henry C K Liu
After months of denial to soothe a nervous market, the Federal Reserve, the US central bank, finally started to take increasingly desperate steps to try to inject more liquidity into distressed financial institutions to revive and stabilize credit markets that have been roiled by turmoil since August 2007 and to prevent the home mortgage credit crisis from infesting the whole economy.
Yet more liquidity appears to be a counterproductive response to a credit crisis that has been caused by years of excess liquidity. A liquidity crisis is merely a symptom of the current financial malaise. The real disease is mounting insolvency resulting from excessive debt for which adding liquidity can only postpone the day of reckoning towards a bigger problem but cannot cure. Further, the market is stalled by a liquidity crunch, but the economy is plagued with excess liquidity. What the Fed appears to be doing is to try to save the market at the expense of the economy by adding more liquidity.
Ex-New York mayor Rudy Giuliani took a further hit on Sunday, when a poll showed he dropped to fourth place ahead of Florida's Republican primary, which looked set to be a tight race between John McCain and Mitt Romney.
And, just days ahead of Tuesday's voting, McCain got a major boost with the endorsement of Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who enjoys popularity levels of around 70 percent in the state.
President Bush is now daring Congress to defy his demand for more unchecked power to spy on Americans without warrants, vowing to veto temporary surveillance legislation and politicize his last State of the Union address for an attack on Democrats.
By Elliot Cohen
Amid the controversy brewing in the Senate over Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reform, the Bush administration appears to have changed its strategy and is devising a bold new plan that would strip away FISA protections in favor of a system of wholesale government monitoring of every American’s Internet activities. Now the national director of intelligence is predicting a disastrous cyber-terrorist attack on the U.S. if this scheme isn’t instituted.
It is no secret that the Bush administration has already been spying on the e-mail, voice-over-IP, and other Internet exchanges between American citizens since as early as and possibly earlier than Sept. 11, 2001. The National Security Agency has set up shop in the hubs of major telecom corporations, notably AT&T, installing equipment that makes copies of the contents of all Internet traffic, routing it to a government database and then using natural language parsing technology to sift through and analyze the data using undisclosed search criteria. It has done this without judicial oversight and obviously without the consent of the millions of Americans under surveillance. Given any rational interpretation of the Fourth Amendment, its mass spying operation is illegal and unconstitutional.
It’s starting to feel a bit like 1992 again. A Bush is in the White House, the economy is a mess, and there’s a candidate who, in the view of a number of observers, is running on a message of hope, of moving past partisan differences, that resembles Bill Clinton’s campaign 16 years ago.
Now, I’m not sure that’s a fair characterization of the 1992 Clinton campaign, which had a strong streak of populism, beginning with a speech in which Mr. Clinton described the 1980s as a “gilded age of greed.” Still, to the extent that Barack Obama 2008 does sound like Bill Clinton 1992, here’s my question: Has everyone forgotten what happened after the 1992 election?
Let’s review the sad tale, starting with the politics.
By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | January 26, 2008
WASHINGTON - Three federal employees are being investigated for unlawful political activities after they allegedly sent an e-mail falsely accusing Barack Obama of being a "radical Muslim," the Globe has learned.
The US Office of Special Counsel - the independent federal agency responsible for enforcing a law banning civil service workers from engaging in political activism while performing their official duties - has launched investigations of two employees at one agency and one employee at another agency. All three are believed to have forwarded the erroneous chain e-mail about Obama from their government e-mail accounts.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Matt Stoller wrote about it in The Nation this week:
About twice as many Democrats voted in Iowa as Republicans. "We'd better be careful as a party," Mike Huckabee warned his fellow Republicans in the wake of the Iowa caucuses, "because if we don't give people something to be for, and only something to be against, we're going to lose that next election, and there are some fundamental issues that we lose with it." Mike Podhorzer, deputy political director of the AFL-CIO, puts it this way: "You have dead turnout on the Republican side and insane turnout on the Democratic side."
Sometime in mid-December, as the winter winds howled across the snow-dusted hills of Pakistan's inhospitable border regions, 40 men representing Taliban groups all across Pakistan's northwest frontier came together to unify under a single banner and to choose a leader.
The banner was Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan, or the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, with a fighting force estimated at up to 40,000. And the leader was Baitullah Mehsud, the man Pakistan accuses of assassinating former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
By Kathy Gannon, Associated Press | January 27, 2008
PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Sometime in mid-December, as the winter winds howled across the snow-dusted hills of Pakistan's inhospitable border regions, 40 men representing Taliban groups all across Pakistan's northwest frontier came together to unify under a single banner and to choose a leader.
The banner was Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan, or the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, with a fighting force estimated at up to 40,000. And the leader was Baitullah Mehsud, the man Pakistan accuses of assassinating former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Turn on the TV today, and you could be forgiven for thinking it’s 1999. Democrats and Republicans are bickering about where and how to intervene, whether to do it alone or with allies and what kind of world America should lead. Democrats believe they can hit a reset button, and Republicans believe muscular moralism is the way to go. It’s as if the first decade of the 21st century didn’t happen — and almost as if history itself doesn’t happen. But the distribution of power in the world has fundamentally altered over the two presidential terms of George W. Bush, both because of his policies and, more significant, despite them. Maybe the best way to understand how quickly history happens is to look just a bit ahead.
It is 2016, and the Hillary Clinton or John McCain or Barack Obama administration is nearing the end of its second term. America has pulled out of Iraq but has about 20,000 troops in the independent state of Kurdistan, as well as warships anchored at Bahrain and an Air Force presence in Qatar. Afghanistan is stable; Iran is nuclear. China has absorbed Taiwan and is steadily increasing its naval presence around the Pacific Rim and, from the Pakistani port of Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea. The European Union has expanded to well over 30 members and has secure oil and gas flows from North Africa, Russia and the Caspian Sea, as well as substantial nuclear energy. America’s standing in the world remains in steady decline.
Sunday, 27 January 2008
Indonesia's former dictator Suharto, an army general who crushed Indonesia's communist movement and pushed aside the country's founding father to usher in 32 years of tough rule that saw up to a million political opponents killed, died today. He was 86.
"He has died," Dr Christian Johannes said that he died at 1.10pm local time.
Finally toppled by mass street protests in 1998, the US Cold War ally's departure opened the way for democracy in this predominantly Muslim nation of 235 million people and he withdrew from public life, rarely venturing from his comfortable villa on a leafy lane in the capital.
Warren P. Strobel | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: January 25, 2008 06:48:01 PM
WASHINGTON — President Bush gets what may be his final chance to steer the public debate Monday night in his last State of the Union address.
With his aides privately acknowledging that the moments when Bush can be relevant are dwindling fast, the president is expected to press for a shortened list of proposals. With his legacy in mind, he'll urge Congress to extend some key initiatives of his tenure: tax cuts, the No Child Left Behind law, the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Bush will be speaking under circumstances very different than before, however, with economic fears roiling the country and the war in Iraq and terrorism concerns in the background, at least temporarily.
WASHINGTON – A statement released on January 24 by the world’s largest scientific society of Earth and space scientists—the American Geophysical Union, or AGU—updates the organization’s position on climate change: the evidence for it, potential consequences from it, and how to respond to it.
The statement is the first revision since 2003 of the climate-change position of the AGU, which has a membership of 50,000 researchers, teachers, and students in 137 countries. The society adopted the statement at a meeting of AGU’s leadership body, the AGU Council, in San Francisco, California, on 14 December 2007. AGU position statements expire in four years, unless extended by the Council.
January 25, 2008
By Ben Zipperer and John SchmittFor the first time in the past quarter of a century, in 2007 U.S. unions increased their share of membership among workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) annual union membership report released today. Unions added about 310,000 members last year, raising the unionized share of the workforce to 12.1 percent from 12.0 percent in 2006.
The increase is small, and may well reflect statistical variation rather than an actual increase in the union membership share, but the uptick is striking because it is the first time since the BLS began collecting annual union membership rates in 1983 that the union share has increased.
IN the wake of George W. Bush, even a miracle might not be enough for the Republicans to hold on to the White House in 2008. But what about two miracles? The new year’s twin resurrections of Bill Clinton and John McCain, should they not evaporate, at last give the G.O.P. a highly plausible route to victory.
Amazingly, neither party seems to fully recognize the contours of the road map. In the Democrats’ case, the full-throttle emergence of Billary, the joint Clinton candidacy, is measured mainly within the narrow confines of the short-term horse race: Do Bill Clinton’s red-faced eruptions and fact-challenged rants enhance or diminish his wife as a woman and a candidate?
AN investigation into the illicit sale of American nuclear secrets was compromised by a senior official in the State Department, a former FBI employee has claimed.
The official is said to have tipped off a foreign contact about a bogus CIA company used to investigate the sale of nuclear secrets.
The firm, Brewster Jennings & Associates, was a front for Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent. Her public outing two years later in 2003 by White House officials became a cause célèbre.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
The Senate (reportedly still under Democratic control) seems determined to help President Bush violate Americans’ civil liberties and undermine the constitutional separation of powers. Majority Leader Harry Reid is supporting White House-backed legislation that would expand the administration’s ability to spy on Americans without court supervision and ensure that the country never learns the full extent of Mr. Bush’s illegal wiretapping program.
The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA — which Mr. Bush decided to ignore after 9/11 — requires a warrant to intercept telephone calls and e-mail messages between people in the United States and people abroad.
On January 30-31, 1968, the Tet holiday, the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front (NLF, known to Americans as "the Vietcong") struck at five of the country's six largest cities, 34 provincial capitals, 64 district capitals, and numerous military bases. NLF sappers even briefly captured part of the heavily fortified American embassy compound in the center of the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon.
Vietnamese government troops allied to the Americans were badly bloodied and American casualties were high. Fighting continued in parts of Saigon for three weeks and in Hue, the old imperial capital, for almost a month until, as with Fallujah in Iraq in November 2004, most of its buildings were destroyed. To retake major urban areas, air power was called in. In perhaps the most infamous phrase of the Vietnam War, an anonymous U.S. major said of the retaking of Ben Tre, "It became necessary to destroy the town to save it."
Remember Donald Rumsfeld? He seems like a bad dream. And yet here he is, popping up in Washington to talk about how the U.S. needs a Ministry of Propaganda. Here’s what he told Sharon Weinberger of Wired’s Danger Room:
Friday, January 25, 2008; 1:26 PM
Is the economic stimulus package announced yesterday really a bipartisan victory? Both sides are certainly calling it that. But it's also a testament to how far President Bush has skewed Washington's political climate to the right.
Democrats and Republicans agreed last week that this would be a good time for the government to give away vast sums of money.
By Robert Fisk, Independent UK
Posted on January 26, 2008, Printed on January 26, 2008
Twixt silken sheets - in a bedroom whose walls are also covered in silk - and in the very palace of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, President George Bush awakes this morning to confront a Middle East which bears no relation to the policies of his administration nor the warning which he has been relaying constantly to the kings and emirs and oligarchs of the Gulf: that Iran rather than Israel is their enemy.
The President sat chummily beside the all-too-friendly monarch yesterday, enthroned in what looked suspiciously like the kind of casual blue cardigan he might wear on his own Texan ranch; he had even received a jangling gold "Order of Merit" -- it looked a bit like the Lord Chancellor's chain, though it was not disclosed which particular merit earned Mr Bush this kingly reward. Could it be the hypocritical merit of supplying yet more billions worth of weapons to the Kingdom, to be used against the Saudi regime's imaginary enemies.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Here's one of their actions:
For seven years, President Bush's allies in Congress helped push forward his failed Conservative agenda.
In light of the anniversary of Roe, you'll be excited to know that William Saletan has an exciting idea for advancing the abortion debate. The solution is: everyone should just concede that William Saletan is right about everything!
To pro-choicers: Talk about abortion the way you've been talking about teen sex, embracing an ideal number of zero. To pro-lifers: Accept that the best way to advance toward zero is through voluntary prevention.On the latter point, I suppose it would be nice if American "pro-lifers" were more concerned about protecting fetal life than regulating female sexuality, but alas you go to war with the reactionaries you have.
Mark Crispin Miller is a professor of culture and communications at New York University. He’s also a man on a mission: to make the case for electoral reform. Miller climbs into the minutiae of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections-voter caging in Florida, ballot stickers in Ohio, and lots of unseemly details in between. The core of his argument unfolded in “None Dare Call It Stolen: Ohio, the Election, and America’s Servile Press” which appeared in the August 2005 issue of Harper’s. It evolved into Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform in 2005. And in the end, he tells us that notwithstanding the reassurances of the mainstream media, we have no reason to be confident in the formally reported results of those two elections. The paperback edition came out earlier this year, with an extensive afterward and much updated material. No Comment puts six questions to Harper’s contributor, author and media critic, Mark Crispin Miller, about his book, the mainstream media, and the art of political persecution in America today.
1. One of the most striking things I saw in your book was on the fly page, where you very cleverly juxtapose quotations from Tom Paine, T.W. Adorno and Tom DeLay–all of them are on the topic of truth and power, it seems to me. But the Adorno quote is particularly fascinating, it’s taken from an essay he wrote at the end of World War II, in which he’s drawing a very important lesson: that the totalitarian states the Allies were battling had mastered the technique of using power to generate their own truth, and to make anything inconsistent with it seem a lie. And this is precisely the same point that George Orwell and Victor Klemperer made, both writing the same year. Of course, as I read your book, your point is not that America has become a totalitarian state, but rather that political forces within the country are making rather more subtle use of the same techniques. Am I reading this correctly?
Well, yes and no. On the one hand, Bush & Co.’s vast inversions of the truth–distortions infinitely larger than mere lying–are the product of a conscious and deliberate “technique,” as you put it. And yet, they’re also, at the same time, a ferociously sincere expression of the way these mad authoritarians perceive reality. In other words, when Bush and Cheney and their cohorts say that up is down and black is white, they are not just dispassionately following a certain set of rules for doing propaganda. Such fierce untruthfulness comes to them naturally, because their world-view is completely paranoid.
By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | January 25, 2008
WASHINGTON - President Bush's plan to forge a long-term agreement with the Iraqi government that could commit the US military to defending Iraq's security would be the first time such a sweeping mutual defense compact has been enacted without congressional approval, according to legal specialists.
After World War II, for example - when the United States gave security commitments to Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and NATO members - Presidents Truman and Eisenhower designated the agreements as treaties requiring Senate ratification. In 1985, when President Ronald Reagan guaranteed that the US military would defend the Marshall Islands and Micronesia if they were attacked, the compacts were put to a vote by both chambers of Congress.
Friday, January 25, 2008; A17
For three years, the Bush administration has drawn fire from civil liberties groups over its use of national security letters, a kind of administrative subpoena that compels private businesses such as telecommunications companies to turn over information to the government. After the 2001 USA Patriot Act loosened the guidelines, the FBI issued tens of thousands of such requests, something critics say amounts to warrantless spying on Americans who have not been charged with crimes.
Cambridge scientists are advocating additional research into the little understood links between environmental pollution and type 2 diabetes.
In the most recent edition of the Lancet, Drs. Oliver Jones and Julian Griffin highlight the need to research the possible link between persistent organic pollutants (POPs, a group which includes many pesticides) and insulin resistance, which can lead to adult onset diabetes.
House Democrats and the White House have reached an agreement on an economic stimulus plan. Unfortunately, the plan — which essentially consists of nothing but tax cuts and gives most of those tax cuts to people in fairly good financial shape — looks like a lemon.
Specifically, the Democrats appear to have buckled in the face of the Bush administration’s ideological rigidity, dropping demands for provisions that would have helped those most in need. And those happen to be the same provisions that might actually have made the stimulus plan effective.
Those are harsh words, so let me explain what’s going on.
Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro
Friday January 25, 2008
In a world of climate change and general environmental degradation, it was one ecological disaster that had apparently been averted.
After decades of steady obliteration, the tide appeared to have turned against the illegal deforestation that has disfigured the world's largest tropical rainforest. Brazil's president, Lula da Silva, went on the radio in August to trumpet the breakthrough. His environment minister, Marina Silva, hailed "a great achievement for Brazilian society".
Thursday, January 24, 2008
-- by Dave
Some of you may recall that when Jonah Goldberg first noticed my review of Liberal Fascism in TAP Online, he dismissed it (without having read it) as "shallow, cliche ridden, attack-the-messenger stuff," and then, upon having actually read it, confirmed in a broader response his view that it was "shallow, cliche ridden, attack-the-messenger stuff."
Well, irony of ironies, after I'd fully responded and eventually called him out for failing to honestly engage my arguments, he finally came forward with a response that (beyond being shallow and cliche-ridden, not to mention breathtakingly dishonest) is nothing if not a textbook attack on the messenger -- a theme that continues in his follow-up post. Ad, meet hominem.
It's a little bit rusty, hasn't been out for a spin since 2004, and needs a few springs and belts replaced. But the old machine looks like it's up and running.
The Muck is featuring this lovely story today about Roger Stone, one of the original Dick Nixon dirty tricksters, and his latest project:
So what's Stone up to? Fortunately, he laid the whole scheme out to The Weekly Standard.It's this simple: it's all about the group's acronym, which, used in conjunction with Hillary Clinton, is supposed to be irresistibly humorous.
In Before the Storm, the 2001 history that made his reputation, Rick Perlstein put his readers inside the skin of a pimply college freshman cast adrift on a sprawling concrete campus in the 1960s. “Wearied from his first soul-crushing run-in with Big Bureaucracy,” the imagined student is buying his required texts in the campus bookstore when he happens on a slim book with big type. He flips it open and “standing, reads fourteen short pages inviting him to join an idealistic struggle to defend the individual against the encroachments of the mass.”
1 hour, 40 minutes ago
Sales of existing single-family homes plunged in 2007 by the largest amount in 25 years, closing out an awful year that saw median prices fall for the first time in at least four decades.
The National Association of Realtors reported Thursday that sales of single-family homes fell by 13 percent last year, the biggest decline since a 17.7 percent drop in 1982. The median price of a single-family home fell to $217,800 in 2007, down 1.8 percent from 2006.
It marked the first annual price decline on records that the Realtors have going back to 1968. Lawrence Yun, the Realtor's chief economist, said it was likely the country has not experienced a decline in home prices for an entire year since the Great Depression.
by BARBARA EHRENREICH
[posted online on January 22, 2008]
With all the talk about how to stimulate it, you'd think that the economy is a giant clitoris. Ben Bernanke may not employ this imagery, but the immediate challenge--and the issue bound to replace Iraq and immigration in the presidential race--is how best to get the economy engorged and throbbing again.
It would be irresponsible to say much about Bush's stimulus plan, the mere mention of which could be enough to send the Nikkei, the DAX and the curiously named FTSE and Sensex tumbling into the crash zone again. In a typically regressive gesture, Bush proposed to hand out cash tax rebates--except to families earning less than $40,000 a year. This may qualify as an example of what Naomi Klein calls "disaster capitalism," in which any misfortune can be re-jiggered to the advantage of the affluent.
January 22nd, 2008 - 12:50pm ET
Brad DeLong once said that "'Nobody could have foreseen ______' is the Bush administration's version of 'The dog ate my homework.'" It does seem to be their handy-dandy Swiss Army Knife, all-purpose explanation for the various disasters that have happened on their watch.
We first heard this excuse all the way back in May 2002, when Condoleezza Rice blithely dismissed Congressional queries about 9/11 by saying, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon; that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."
Icann made the plea in a lengthy report sent to the US Department of Commerce.
The report will be the focus of a meeting to consider Icann's progress on objectives the US government set it in preparation for independence.
By Jill Filipovic, AlterNet
Posted on January 22, 2008, Printed on January 24, 2008
35 years after Roe v. Wade solidified American womens' right to abortion, reproductive rights remain in limbo. And while abortion rights are crucial to women's health and autonomy, they are hardly the end-all be-all to reproductive justice -- even if the constant attacks on those rights (and on the people who provide women with them) have forced the pro-choice movement to remain on the defensive about abortion in particular.
Roe at 35 is in bad shape. But there are plenty of forward-looking, positive steps to be taken. It's worth raising a glass to Roe today -- but even more importantly, it's time to get out and fight. Here are a few reasons why:
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
DURHAM, N.H. - After enduring months on the coldest, driest, and windiest continent on Earth, researchers today closed out the inaugural season on an unprecedented, multi-year effort to retrieve the most detailed record of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere over the last 100,000 years.
Working as part of the National Science Foundation’s West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS Divide) Ice Core Project, a team of scientists, engineers, technicians, and students from multiple U.S. institutions have recovered a 580-meter (1,900-foot) ice core – the first section of what is hoped to be a 3,465-meter (11,360-foot) column of ice detailing 100,000 years of Earth’s climate history, including a precise year-by-year record of the last 40,000 years.
Legendary whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg has written an Op-Ed shaming the American media for failing to report the shocking story of Sibel Edmonds. A former FBI translator who was recruited after 9/11, Edmonds has accused the agency of covering up evidence of a complex web of foreign governments, U.S. officials and nuclear secrets.
Ellsberg in a Brad Blog commentary:
And this is the time for those who have so far creditably leaked to the Times of London to come forward, accepting personal risks, to offer their testimony --- and new documents --- both to the Congress and to the American press. I would say to them: Don’t do what I did and waste months of precious time trying to get Congressional committees to act as they should in the absence of journalistic pressure. Do your best to inform the American public directly, first, through the major American media.
But perhaps today the alternative media and the international press are a necessary precursor even to that. It shouldn’t be true, but if it is, it’s a measure of how far the New York Times and Washington Post have fallen from their responsibilities to the public, to their profession and to American democracy, since I gave them the Pentagon Papers in 1971. They printed them then. Would they today?
Posted on Jan 22, 2008By Robert Scheer
It was smart of the top Democrats to cut presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich out of that South Carolina debate, where they lamely attempted to deal with the dire consequences of the banking meltdown without confronting the banks. They made all the proper concerned noises about millions of folks losing their retirement savings and homes, but none was willing to say what Kucinich would have said: Bankers are crooks who will steal from the public unless the government holds them accountable.
How do I know Kucinich would have said that? Because I interviewed him for the Los Angeles Times back when he was mayor of Cleveland and the banks foreclosed on his city after he refused to sell the public power plant. Others can talk a populist line, but Kucinich lived it. He was forced out of office that time, but voters realized 10 years later that Kucinich had been right. Thanks to the public power alternative that Kucinich refused to sacrifice, Cleveland had cheap power, and he was elected to the Ohio Legislature and then to Congress as his reward.
By TOM PAULSON
The planet is getting skinned.
While many worry about the potential consequences of atmospheric warming, a few experts are trying to call attention to another global crisis quietly taking place under our feet.
By Janine Zacharia
Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- The Saudi monarchy once depended on the U.S. to protect its reign and its oil from foes like Saddam Hussein. These days, President George W. Bush needs the world's biggest exporter of crude more than it needs him.
With oil at about $90 a barrel, the U.S. economy at risk of sliding into recession and American banks trying to raise cash to ride out the subprime-mortgage crisis, Bush has become a supplicant for Saudi financial help. He also needs the kingdom to get behind his Palestinian peace push, to keep Iran at bay and to support political stability in Iraq.
Within the next month, the Pentagon will submit its 2009 budget to Congress and it's a fair bet that it will be even larger than the staggering 2008 one. Like the Army and the Marines, the Pentagon itself is overstretched and under strain -- and like the two services, which are expected to add 92,000 new troops over the next five years (at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion per 10,000), the Pentagon's response is never to cut back, but always to expand, always to demand more.
After all, there are those disastrous Afghan and Iraqi wars still eating taxpayer dollars as if there were no tomorrow. Then there's what enthusiasts like to call "the next war" to think about, which means all those big-ticket weapons, all those jets, ships, and armored vehicles for the future. And don't forget the still-popular, Rumsfeld-style "netcentric warfare" systems (robots, drones, communications satellites, and the like), not to speak of the killer space toys being developed; and then there's all that ruined equipment out of Iraq and Afghanistan to be massively replaced -- and all those ruined human beings to take care of.
Wed Jan 23, 1:46 PM ET
The deficit for the current budget year will jump to about $250 billion under Congressional Budget Office figures released Wednesday, as a weaker economy and lower corporate profits weigh on the government's fiscal ledger.
And that figure does not reflect more than $100 billion in red ink from an economic stimulus measure in the works.
"After three years of declining budget deficits, a slowing economy this year will contribute to an increase in the deficit," the CBO report said.
Wed Jan 23, 6:43 AM ET
A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."
The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Day of Reckoning
Conservatives still don't get Martin Luther King.
When Martin Luther King was buried in Atlanta, the live television coverage lasted seven and a half hours. President Johnson announced a national day of mourning: "Together, a nation united and a nation caring and a nation concerned and a nation that thinks more of the nation's interests than we do of any individual self-interest or political interest--that nation can and shall and will overcome." Richard Nixon called King "a great leader--a man determined that the American Negro should win his rightful place alongside all others in our nation." Even one of King's most beastly political enemies, Mississippi Representative William Colmer, chairman of the House rules committee, honored the president's call to unity by terming the murder "a dastardly act."
Prominent Democrats are upset with the aggressive role that Bill Clinton is playing in the 2008 campaign, a role they believe is inappropriate for a former president and the titular head of the Democratic Party. In recent weeks, Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, both currently neutral in the Democratic contest, have told their old friend heatedly on the phone that he needs to change his tone and stop attacking Sen. Barack Obama, according to two sources familiar with the conversations who asked for anonymity because of their sensitive nature. Clinton, Kennedy and Emanuel all declined to comment.I know, it's great fun to think about Rahm and Teddy telling Bill to STFU.
Global stock markets extended their shakeout into a second day Tuesday, plunging amid worries that a possible U.S. recession will cause a worldwide economic slowdown.
The dramatic declines in Asia and Europe were expected to spread to Wall Street, where stock index futures were already down sharply hours before the trading day began.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index, the benchmark for Asia's biggest bourse, was down 5.1 percent in afternoon trading after dropping 3.9 percent Monday.
By Brendan I. Koerner
Posted Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2008, at 11:16 AM ET
Every week, you blather on and on about carbon dioxide and methane. Yet you never mention a single word about the most important greenhouse gas of all, water vapor, which accounts for 98 percent of the greenhouse effect. Doesn't this inconvenient truth wholly discredit your little global-warming charade?
Variations on this question appear in the Lantern's inbox every few days, occasionally accompanied by family-unfriendly slurs. For folks who doubt that human activity is causing global warming, citing water vapor's role in the greenhouse effect is a common retort. Though such enviroskeptics are technically correct to some extent, the water-vapor argument by no means proves that anthropogenic (i.e. man-made) global warming is a fiction.
by GARETH PORTER
[posted online on January 18, 2008]
Research for this article was supported by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute.
Although nukes and Iraq have been the main focus of the Bush Administration's pressure campaign against Iran, US officials also seek to tar Iran as the world's leading sponsor of terrorism. And Team Bush's latest tactic is to play up a thirteen-year-old accusation that Iran was responsible for the notorious Buenos Aires bombing that destroyed the city's Jewish Community Center, known as AMIA, killing eighty-six and injuring 300, in 1994. Unnamed senior Administration officials told the Wall Street Journal January 15 that the bombing in Argentina "serves as a model for how Tehran has used its overseas embassies and relationship with foreign militant groups, in particular Hezbollah, to strike at its enemies."
This propaganda campaign depends heavily on a decision last November by the General Assembly of Interpol, which voted to put five former Iranian officials and a Hezbollah leader on the international police organization's "red list" for allegedly having planned the July 1994 bombing. But the Wall Street Journal reports that it was pressure from the Bush Administration, along with Israeli and Argentine diplomats, that secured the Interpol vote. In fact, the Bush Administration's manipulation of the Argentine bombing case is perfectly in line with its long practice of using distorting and manufactured evidence to build a case against its geopolitical enemies.
Mon Jan 21, 10:47 PM ET
The Nation -- In the edgiest debate of the Democratic presidential race, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton repeatedly engaged on Monday night in bitter and at times personal exchanges with one another.
And John Edwards effectively pointed to the heated squabbling between the two frontrunners in anticipation of Saturday's South Carolina Democratic primary as a deviation from the issues that matter.
Clinton accused Obama of doing legal work for a Chicago slumlord and charged that her opponent "did the bidding of the insurance companies" when health care was debated in the Illinois legislature.
Obama told Clinton he was fighting to help workers in Chicago when "you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board of Wal-Mart."
By John P. Geyman, Tikkun
Posted on January 22, 2008, Printed on January 22, 2008
As we face the 2008 presidential campaigns, the stakes have never been higher for health care reform. Health care is pricing itself beyond the reach of lower-income and middle-class Americans with no cost containment yet on the horizon. Seniors with Medicare are paying much more out-of-pocket for their medical care now than when Medicare was enacted in 1965.
We already have a perfect storm as the U.S. health care "system" falls apart, and many public polls put access to affordable health care at the top of our domestic agenda.
By Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive
Posted on January 22, 2008, Printed on January 22, 2008
Even Bush has finally figured out that the economy is facing "some challenges," as he so delicately put it.
As a solution, he is sure to propose making permanent the tax breaks for the rich that he's already put in place.
But there are two problems with this: one ethical, the other economic.
By Sarah Posner, PoliPoint Press
Posted on January 22, 2008, Printed on January 22, 2008
The following is excerpted from Sarah Posner's new book, God's Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters It is reprinted here courtesy of PoliPoint Press. Photo credit for front page image associated with this article: Nina Berman. See more at Ninaberman.com.
Inside the Trinity Christian Church in Irving, Texas, a crowd starts gathering in the afternoon for a Victory Healing and Miracle Service that is to begin at 7 p.m. that evening. People have traveled from as far away as Ohio and Arkansas and Georgia to participate. Most are waiting in the perimeter lobby of the church, camping out with pillows and Bibles, ordering pizza, and waiting for an event that has been hyped on Christian television for months. I approach one woman, an African American member of televangelist Rod Parsley's World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio. Judging from her clothes, the woman could scarcely afford the plane ticket she bought to see a performance of the preaching phenomenon whose services she can attend three times a week at home in Columbus. She's almost in a trance, barely able to focus on me or what I am asking her, and she brushes me aside as I inquire about her journey. People are waiting to see healings and miracles; Parsley claims a quarter of a million people have mailed in prayer cloths (and money) so that he could put his "anointing" on them. Once returned to the donor, the prayer cloths can be used to heal anything in a broken life, from depression to cancer to joblessness to debt.
By Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer
The reduction in the federal funds rate from 4.25 percent down to 3.5 percent marked the biggest reduction in this target rate for overnight loans on records going back to 1990. It marked the first time that the Fed has changed the funds rate between meetings since 2001, when the central bank was battling the combined impacts of a recession and the terrorist attacks.
Monday, January 21, 2008
In 1939, Time magazine named Dorothy Thompson the second most influential woman in America after Eleanor Roosevelt. The first American journalist expelled from Nazi Germany -- and still then the wife of Sinclair Lewis -- she was one of the country's leading voices against fascism. She'd seen it up close in Europe, and was furiously outspoken about its creeping influence in America.
In the August 1941 issue of Harper's, Thompson wrote a short piece, based on her long European experience, outlining which Americans at any given dinner party might be expected to "go Nazi." It's still in Harper's archives, and it's as insightful and prescient now as it was on the eve of America's entry into World War II:
It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times–in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis.
Dave and I refer often to James Loewen's research on "sundown towns" -- American towns that once had small African-American communities -- which, at some point, simply up and vanished.
The historical fact is that if you're a middle-class white American living in the north or west of the country, the odds are overwhelmingly good that the town you live in, right now, is a sundown town -- or was one at some point in the not-so-distant past.
Over the past week or two, several events have occurred that show just how radically the range of acceptable political and media discourse has changed in the past eight years.
First, the New Republic finally got the Minneapolis Historical Society to cut loose its store of old Ron Paul Reports, put them online, and thus verified -- once and for all -- our repeated contention that Ron Paul's benign good-doctor pose was hiding a noxiously hateful and racist past.
Obama's Age Gap: Is It Race?
CBS's Dick Meyer Says Older Americans Have So Far Proven Unwilling To Vote For Barack ObamaHow about young voters have so far proven unwilling to vote for an older person? Is it ageism? Really, this is ridiculous.
The big problem with attempts to provide temporary economic stimulus is how to ensure that the money gets spent. As Milton Friedman pointed out 50 years ago, consumers tend to base their spending on “permanent income” — the income they expect to have over the long run — rather than their income in any given year. So an $800 check from the Treasury tends, other things equal, to be mostly saved rather than spent.
How does one get around this?
Posted on Mon, Jan. 21, 2008Businesses want a say in global-warming bill
Renee Schoof | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: January 17, 2008 08:16:29 PM
WASHINGTON — U.S. businesses are betting that the federal government soon will put mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and they're making sure they have a say in shaping a vast new regulatory system.
Some of the country's biggest businesses support a cap and trade system, the approach that Congress is considering. Under cap and trade, the government gives or sells companies allowances to emit certain amounts of greenhouse gases, and companies may sell unused allowances to other companies.
While it may sound simple, the details would be complex and the plan would affect the entire economy and require monitoring for decades.
Filed by Nick Juliano
New report shows archives gone on several key days in Plame investigation
Among the sixteen days for which email are missing from Vice President Cheney's office is Sept. 30, 2003, the same day the day the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced they were investigating who outed former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson.
That morning, then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales ordered the president and the vice president's staff to "preserve all materials that might be relevant" to an inchoate Justice Department probe.
Historical narratives matter. That’s why conservatives are still writing books denouncing F.D.R. and the New Deal; they understand that the way Americans perceive bygone eras, even eras from the seemingly distant past, affects politics today.
And it’s also why the furor over Barack Obama’s praise for Ronald Reagan is not, as some think, overblown. The fact is that how we talk about the Reagan era still matters immensely for American politics.
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
Posted on January 21, 2008, Printed on January 21, 2008
Amy Goodman: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston has been closely tracking the nation's income gap in the pages of the New York Times. David Cay has just published a new book. It's called Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill). Explain the wealth transfer.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
THE FBI has been accused of covering up a key case file detailing evidence against corrupt government officials and their dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets.The assertion follows allegations made in The Sunday Times two weeks ago by Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistleblower, who worked on the agency’s investigation of the network.
Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency’s Washington field office.
CONTEMPLATING the Clinton-Obama racial war, some Republicans were so excited you’d have thought Ronald Reagan had risen from the dead to slap around a welfare deadbeat.
Never mind that the G.O.P. is running on empty, with no ideas beyond the incessant repetition of Reagan’s name. A battle over race-and-gender identity politics among the Democrats, with its acrid scent from the 1960s, might be just the spark for a Republican comeback. (As long as the G.O.P.’s own identity politics, over religion, don’t flare up.)
Alas, these hopes faded on Tuesday night. First, the debating Democrats declared a truce, however fragile, in their racial brawl. Then Republicans in Michigan reconstituted their party’s election-year chaos by temporarily revivifying yet another candidate, Mitt Romney, who had been left for dead.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
By Larry Beinhart, AlterNet
Posted on January 19, 2008, Printed on January 19, 2008
The New York Times made it official. The Economy is a problem!
So, now, at last we can discuss it.
Not just discuss it, in rapid order "recession" became the word of the day, from White House, Congress, the Fed and the media.
It's blamed, mostly, on the subprime crisis.
But that's not the problem. It's a symptom. It is the logical, and probably one of the necessary results, of Bushenomics.
The big fat immigration bill that died last year in Congress was, for all its flaws, an anchor that kept debate tethered firmly to reality. Like it or not, it contained specific remedies for the border and the workplace. It had a plan for clearing backlogs in legal immigration and managing its future flow. Perhaps most critical, it dealt with the 12 million illegal immigrants already here, through a tough path to earned citizenship.
Unmoored from a comprehensive federal bill, the debate was pushed into the states and is now floating in the La-La Land of the presidential campaign. The Republicans have been battling over the sincerity of their sound bites and trying to make their fixation on one dimension of the problem — tough border and workplace enforcement — sound like the solution.
Mexico. Brazil. Argentina. Mexico, again. Thailand. Indonesia. Argentina, again.
And now, the United States.
The story has played itself out time and time again over the past 30 years. Global investors, disappointed with the returns they’re getting, search for alternatives. They think they’ve found what they’re looking for in some country or other, and money rushes in.
But eventually it becomes clear that the investment opportunity wasn’t all it seemed to be, and the money rushes out again, with nasty consequences for the former financial favorite. That’s the story of multiple financial crises in Latin America and Asia. And it’s also the story of the U.S. combined housing and credit bubble. These days, we’re playing the role usually assigned to third-world economies.
The trucking firm, Office Movers, is owned by the family-run Kane Company, whose CEO and president is John M. Kane, chairman of the Republican Party in Maryland from 2002 until December 2006 and pictured at right with President Bush. Last November, Kane joined the steering committee for Republican presidential nominee candidate Mitt Romney, who won Tuesday's primary in Michigan.
The Corpse on the GurneyThe "Success" Mantra in Iraq
By Tom Engelhardt
The other day, as we reached the first anniversary of the President's announcement of his "surge" strategy, his "new way forward" in Iraq, I found myself thinking about the earliest paid book-editing work I ever did. An editor at a San Francisco textbook publisher hired me to "doctor" god-awful texts designed for audiences of captive kids. Each of these "books" was not only in a woeful state of disrepair, but essentially D.O.A. I was nonetheless supposed to do a lively rewrite of the mess and add seductive "sidebars"; another technician then simplified the language to "grade level" and a designer provided a flashy layout and look. Zap! Pow! Kebang!
During the years that I freelanced for that company in the early 1970s, an image of what I was doing formed in my mind -- and it suddenly came back to me this week. I used to describe it this way:
By Roberto Lovato, AlterNet
Posted on January 18, 2008, Printed on January 19, 2008
As he concluded a closed-door congressional hearing into the CIA torture tape scandal, Committee Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, on Wednesday opened the country to a historic possibility: that the fate of the investigation into the destruction of the tapes will be decided by Latino government officials. Current and former Latino officials may even determine whether the investigation reaches the White House.
Reyes, the powerful chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is charged with overseeing an investigation into the latest controversy. Reyes' fellow Tejano, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who was one of four Bush administration officials briefed on the tapes before they were destroyed, may be asked to testify in the investigation. And at the heart of the whole affair is Jose Rodriguez, the Puerto Rican native who was the CIA's former director of clandestine operations. According to the CIA officials, Rodriguez ordered the destruction of the interrogation tapes in 2005.
By Kelly Stewart, AlterNetSometimes my shower head drips -- I can hear the steady beat as I try to fall asleep at night. And sometimes, instead of tinkering with the temperamental shower knobs, I'll close the bathroom door to block out the noise.
Posted on January 18, 2008, Printed on January 19, 2008
Entering the new exhibition, Water: H20 = Life, at the Museum of Natural History in New York City, I was struck by a similar scene. One drop at a time, water falls from the ceiling, splashing into the others that have fallen before it. It's a hypnotic reminder that every drop is worth contemplating.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
last updated: January 16, 2008 07:34:57 PM
WASHINGTON — New data from the Labor Department confirm what most middle-class Americans already know: Inflation is squeezing them.
As consumer prices rose by 4.1 percent last year, the highest rate since 1990, the prices of basic essentials such as food, gasoline and health insurance climbed far more steeply, explaining why so many Americans are telling pollsters that the economy is their chief concern.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday that the price of food and beverages rose 4.8 percent. At the same time, real weekly earnings failed to keep pace, rising 0.9 percent for the year. In the simplest of terms, a dollar earned bought less.
This partly explains why the economy so frustrates Americans.
BALTIMORE — At Vixxen Hair Salon, the main topic of conversation has always been money. But since last August, Anjanette Booker, the owner, has noticed a new focus. “Now it’s money and foreclosures,” Miss Booker said.
The Vixxen salon, along with the nearby salon Hair Vysions, is one of the informal social centers for the Belair-Edison neighborhood, a community of brick row houses that have in recent years been bought largely by single black women with children.
For each of the last four years, more than half of the foreclosures in this neighborhood have been homes owned primarily by women, according to an analysis of public records by the Reinvestment Fund, a nonprofit community development organization.
Goldberg's Liberal Fascism argument panned: 'Like saying mustaches are fascist,' Stewart tells author
01/17/2008 @ 11:23 amFiled by David Edwards and Nick Juliano
You write a book whose title and symbology implicitly ties liberals to Nazis, and you should expect to get a little bit of heat.
Jonah Goldberg, says the Hitler-mustachioed smiley face and title, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, are based on ideas espoused by others. He bristles at critics -- most recently The Daily Show's Jon Stewart -- who call him out, accusing them of not having read his latest tome.
Most people fear death. It’s something they’d prefer to skip, if possible, or at least put off to a later date. President George W. Bush entertains a more laid-back, come-what-may attitude toward the big D, and not, I suspect, because he’s assured of a pre-boarding pass to heaven. It’s because death provides the most unassailable of alibis, the perfect getaway. It lets him off the hook, providing an escape hatch for personal accountability while history deliberates on the lasting achievements and ruinous legacies of his presidency. No matter how lousy his approval ratings, how low America’s esteem sinks in the world, how hacktacular his political appointments, Bush takes comfort in the knowledge that posterity takes a long time to deliver its final draft (“There’s no such thing as short-term history as far as I’m concerned,” he told NBC’s Brian Williams on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina), and by then he’ll be compost. It’s difficult to think of any modern inhabitant of the Oval Office who has contemplated his own mortality aloud more often than Bush, or drawn more consolation from its graveyard perspective. On the last page of Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack (2004), Bush, asked how history would judge the war in Iraq, verbally shrugs: “History. We don’t know. We’ll all be dead.” And on the first page of Robert Draper’s Dead Certain (2007), Bush cautions, “You can’t possibly figure out the history of the Bush presidency—until I’m dead,” then inserts a piece of cheese into his mouth. This exit clause isn’t something he invokes only to reporters. In Bill Sammon’s The Evangelical President (2007), an aide confirms to the susceptible author that Bush doesn’t brood about the petty setbacks that bedevil less serene souls: “His attitude is a very healthy one. He says, ‘Look, history will get it right and we’ll both be dead. Who cares?’ ” If only the estimated 1.5 million Iraqis displaced by the war and driven into Syrian exile could adopt such a healthy outlook, maybe they too would learn how not to sweat the small stuff.
last updated: January 15, 2008 07:25:22 PM
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — President Bush wraps up a weeklong tour of the Middle East Wednesday, leaving many Mideast political observers mystified as to the purpose of the visit and doubtful that the president made inroads on his twin campaigns for Arab-Israeli peace and isolation for Iran.
Bush is heading back to Washington mostly empty-handed, said several analysts and politicians throughout the region. Arab critics deemed Bush's peace efforts unrealistic, his anti-Iran tirades dangerous, his praise of authoritarian governments disappointing and his defense of civil liberties ironic.
By Reed V. Landberg and Paul George
``I'm very pessimistic,'' Stiglitz said in an interview in London today. ``Alan Greenspan really made a mess of all this. He pushed out too much liquidity at the wrong time. He supported the tax cut in 2001, which is the beginning of these problems. He encouraged people to take out variable-rate mortgages.''
For the past five years, the Bush administration has refused to fire these cronies.
Meet the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act.According to Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., House Resolution 1955, otherwise known as the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, is a much-needed piece of national security legislation subject to unnecessary paranoia and fear. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the resolution, which Harman sponsored, is one step too close to an Orwellian nightmare, especially for the Democrats who concocted it.
The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between. But first, let's back up and check the facts.