Guest Blogger

Newspapers Join Forces Against the War

This post, written by Max Follmer, originally appeared on The Huffington Post

A growing number of newspapers across the country are calling for the Bush Administration to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

Among them are newspapers from red states, including several (such as the Roanoke Times in Virginia and The Olympian in Washington state) that circulate in areas with large concentrations of military families.

Perhaps the most surprising paper to join the chorus calling for a troop withdrawal is the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, owned by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. In a July 15 editorial, the Tribune-Review labeled the Bush Administration's plans to stay the course in Iraq "a prescription for American suicide."

Other papers, such as the Dallas Morning News, have stopped short of calling for a complete withdrawal, instead advocating a redeployment of troops to within 100 miles of Iraq' borders. The Morning News also suggested reducing troop levels to 60,000 to 80,000 personnel.

Is Al Franken the Ultimate Movement Candidate?

This post, written by Chris Bowers, originally appeared on Open Left

Yesterday, just before the site went down, a new Survey USA poll came out showing Republican incumbent Norm Coleman highly vulnerable in Minnesota.

7/26-7/29, 628 RVs, (February results in parenthesis)
Coleman (R): 49 (57) Franken (DFL): 42 (35)

Coleman (R): 48 (57) Ciresi (DFL): 42 (34)

That is remarkable movement against Coleman, with much more possible, since his approval rating has sunk to negative territory, 43%--48%, for the first time ever. By way of comparison, populist Democrat Amy Klobuchar's approval rating is 61-31%.

Even Larry King Thinks Cheney Is a Liar

This post, written by Jane Hamsher, originally appeared on FireDogLake

Shooter is having a gingko moment of his own:
On Sunday, Josh Marshall pointed out that the New York Times editorial on the potential need to impeach Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that "Vice President Dick Cheney sent Mr. Gonzales and another official to Mr. Ashcroft's hospital room to get him to approve the wiretapping." As Marshall noted, before the editorial, Cheney's involvement in the incident had never been established.
Today on CNN, in a preview of his interview with the Vice President tonight, Larry King said he asked Cheney about the allegation. "I asked the Vice President about that and the story that he was the one that asked him to go," said King. "And he said he had no recollection."
"He did not want to deal with specifics, which tells me, they're looking at trouble," King added. "If you don't want to deal with specifics...I think you're looking at trouble and you're looking the other way if you're denying it."
Unless they're all banding together in a grand "I am Spartacus" gesture -- and I don't think they're that clever -- I think we probably don't risk much by assuming that means "yes."

Wall Street Journal Gone Wild

This post, written by John Nichols, originally appeared on The Nation

There will be plenty of formal responses to the news that The Wall Street Journal will soon join the "stable" of Rupert Murdoch's "media properties.

But few will top that of Civic Action, the grassroots activism wing of the popular internet forum.

MoveOn will dispatch newsboys and newsgirls to the streets of New York City today to hand out Murdoched versions of The Wall Street Journal in front of the venerable financial newspaper's Manhattan headquarters.

The parody papers will feature actual headlines from Murdoch's Fox News network -- and, with them, the suggestion that the Journal will soon be the latest reflection of Murdoch's one-size-fits-all approach to media.

That approach, it should be noted, is resolutely neo-liberal when it comes to economics -- all for free trade, privatization, deregulation -- and neo-conservative when it comes to superpower politics. It is wholly deferent to the presidents and prime ministers with whom Murdoch willingly and willfully allies himself. And it has a tendency to reduce serious matters to the sort of tabloid takes favored by Murdoch's New York Post newspaper.

What If the Duke Lacrosse Players Were Black?

This post, written by Victor Goode, originally appeared on Race Wire

The ghosts of the Duke University rape case continue to haunt the press and Mike Nifong, the ex-county prosecutor who charged three white lacrosse players with raping a Black exotic dancer last year.

In his aggressive attempt to jail those "hooligans hiding behind a wall of silence," Nifong withheld key evidence from the defense. Last week, a judge began hearing arguments to decide if Nifong is in criminal violation. Thursday, Nifong issued a public apology in court for falsely accusing the men.

Could it be, though, that Nifong's real offense is not misconduct, but rather treating three middle class white defendants as if they were poor and Black?

Prosecutors wield the substantial power of the state, often with a great deal of discretion, so the Constitution rightfully imposes on them the burden of presenting a case that will likely meet the standard of reasonable doubt.

Regardless of how one might feel about the tawdry events of last year's party, with all its racial and misogynous overtones, the prosecutor simply did not have the facts to support an indictment for rape. But like so many before him, Nifong pressed on.

After all the charges were dismissed, the young men appeared on "60 Minutes" to talk about how their lives had been irrevocably changed by the stigma of even being charged with a crime. Nifong quickly became the target of their blame.

Bloomberg Thinks You Should Pay to Photograph New York

This post, written by Lindsay Beyerstein, originally appeared on Majikthise

The Bloomberg administration is quietly pushing new regulations that would ban certain kinds of photography in New York City without a permit and $1 million in liability insurance:
The new rules, which were proposed by the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a public place for more than 30 minutes to get a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance. The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment. The permits would be free.
City officials said they would decide after next Friday whether to adopt the rules as they are, amend them or draft new rules and reopen the public review process. [NYT]
Ironically, Bloomberg is just fine with unlicensed cameras when they are trained on citizens in the name of security and fighting petty crime.

Photography is an established form of free speech. We shouldn't have to get permission or take out a million-dollar insurance policy in order to exercise our First Amendment rights.

It seems clear that this measure is designed discourage small-time filmmakers from shooting in the city. Cynics would speculate that the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater, and Television wants to create a monopoly for the big commercial filmmakers who generate revenue for the city.

The rules apply to still photographers as well. There are no exceptions for amateurs. It's not clear whether this ban will apply to journalists as well--nothing I've read suggests otherwise. Are they really saying that every camera crew in the city has to get a permit before it shows up to cover a story?

The New York Civil Liberties Association has pledged to sue the city if these unconstitutional restrictions become law.

Picture New York is a newly-formed advocacy group fighting the proposed restrictions. You can sign their e-petition here.

John Roberts and the Lightning Stroke

This post, written by Phoenix Woman, originally appeared on FireDogLake

By this time, I'm sure everyone knows by now that John Roberts is in the hospital for what was originally just stated to be a simple fall but is now reported to be a seizure similar to one he suffered in 1993. He's in the hospital for overnight observation; they think he's going to be OK, but...


Up near my parents' home in the boonies, there was, until last Saturday, a 20-room mansion. It had seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, and a grand piano, as well as several precious works of art. It burned to the ground this weekend, and nobody knows why just yet, but it doesn't look like arson. There was a boom like a lightning stroke as the propane tank blew up. It was a sizable tank, so the boom could be heard all the way into town.

Gonzales Impeachment Bill to be Introduced

This post, written by Howie Klien, originally appeared Down WithTyranny!

This weekend we had a good laugh over reactionary Democrat Ellen Tauscher's idiotic response to the calls for the impeachment of serial perjurer Alberto Gonzales. Tauscher must still be getting her talking points from Karl Rove's office. Washington Congressman Jay Inslee, on the other hand, is neither a reactionary nor an ignoramus. He also, unlike Tauscher, values the rule of law. Today he'll be introducing a bill to impeach Gonzales. The text:

Directing the Committee on the Judiciary to investigate whether Alberto R. Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States, should be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary shall investigate fully whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to impeach Alberto R. Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Simple enough-- even for an Ellen O. Tauscher.


According to CBS the most hated man in American contemporary politics just loves little Alberto. Cheney may be the only Republican in elective office to support Gonzales but he told CBS he's a "big fan" or Gonzales (and of Scooter Libby's). Since "None of the Above" continues to be the overwhelming favorite in every Republican primary poll, I don't understand why there hasn't been a Draft Cheney Movement. No one represents the heart and soul large intestines of the GOP the way Cheney does.


This weekend the editorial boards were busy. You already saw what the NY Times had to say. But papers from every part of the country were calling on Congress to impeach or on Gonzales to resign:

Bush Enabled Steroid Use in Texas

This post, written by Faiz Shakir, originally appeared on Think Progress

With 754 career home runs, San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds is one shy of tying the revered home run record set by Hall of Famer Hank Aaron. Bonds' record will be "tainted by allegations he used steroids."

In an interview with ESPN's Karl Ravech earlier this month, President Bush was asked for his take on the Bonds situation. "You know, it's hard for me to tell," Bush said. Echoing a line he uttered in the early stages of the CIA leak scandal, Bush said he was waiting for the facts. "I know there's a lot of implications, my advice is for people just to wait and see what the facts are," he said.

An avid baseball fanwho watches games in the Oval Office to relax, Bush refused to say whether he would watch Bonds' record-setting homerun if he were the baseball commissioner. "You know, I don't know, I have my mind elsewhere these days," he said.

Sports columnist Skip Bayless -- who was previously a sports journalist in Dallas -- said on ESPN that the Bonds situation is difficult for Bush to discuss because he looked the other way on steroids use as manager of the Rangers:
I was there in Texas during those years, and I knew the President when he was owner of the Rangers. And I heard all the whispers around the locker room and the clubhouse. ... I think he looked the other way. I'm sure George heard them also and looked the other way. ... I think they [baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Bush] believe that Barry Bonds used steroids.
Watch a compilation:

President Bush was managing general partner of the Texas Rangers from 1989 until he was elected Texas governor in 1994. Several former Rangers -- Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmiero, and Jose Canseco -- are all alleged to have used, or have admitted to using, steroids while playing for Bush.

The Film That Could End the War

This post, written by Katrina vanden Heuvel, originally appeared on The Nation

In 2005, Norman Solomon released his book, War Made Easy, which exposes the manner in which US presidents manage to sell war, like clockwork, through the same fallacious arguments, largely with the help of a compliant media.

Two years later the Media Education Foundation's Loretta Alper and Jeremy Earp have adapted Solomon's book into a documentary film. The movie features footage of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and our current president making frighteningly similar arguments about the motives for wars. All claim that violence is a means to peace and that war is the last resort. "We still seek no wider war," said Johnson. "The United States does not start fights," said Reagan. "America does not seek conflict," argued George H.W. Bush "I don't like to use military force," said Bill Clinton. "Out nation enters this conflict reluctantly," says George W. Bush.

As the movie points out, the mainsteam media only turn against war when it is too late. "News media, down the road, will point out that there were lies about the Gulf of Tonkin or about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," notes Solomon in the film. "But that doesn't bring back any of the people who have died ... when it comes to life and death, the truth comes out too late."

It is a chilling and persuasive movie. Solomon hopes it can serve as an organizing tool --and a call to action. "In my 40 years as a journalist and activist I have learned that it is important to see grassroots activity as central and not as peripheral" he says.

Judge Orders Lesbian Mom to Marry A Man Or Lose Her Kids

This post, written by Jessica Valenti, originally appeared on Feministing

A judge in Spain has ordered a lesbian mother to give custody of her two daughters to their father because, apparently, homosexuality is harmful and would increase the chance that the girls would become lesbians. Uh huh.
Judge Fernando Ferrin Calamita, who heard the case at a court in the eastern region of Murcia, also said the woman could keep custody of the children if she found another male partner.
According to Ferrin, being raised by homosexual would not allow the children the right to the proper environment to which they were entitled.
"It is understood that (a parent's) drug addiction, child abuse, prostitution, belonging to a satanic sect or heterosexual affair would negatively affect the children and serve as a reason for a change of custody," he said. "Well, it's the same with homosexuality."

The David Vitter Diaper Diaries

This post, written by Pam Spaulding, originally appeared on Pam's House Blend

Hat tip to Blogenfreude at Agitprop, who hasn't let go of the tasty nugget of schadenfreude called the "Senator David Vitter (R-Pampers)" scandal. A photo of Vitter's alleged call girl in New Orleans, Wendy Cortez, is juxtaposed with one of his wife Wendy.

Blogenfreude: I think the senator has a bigger problem than his diaper fetish.

Not to be outdone, Louisiana family values senator really doesn't get it.
Speaking at a policy lunch on Tuesday, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who recently admitted to frequenting a prostitution service run by the "DC Madam," told his colleagues that Senate conservatives should "rebrand" themselves "by reclaiming the fiscal conservative mantle." According to The Hill, "This time, his colleagues held the applause."

FBI Director Confirms That Gonzales Is a Liar

This post, written by Steve Benen, originally appeared on The Carpetbagger Report

When it comes to Alberto Gonzales' precarious future, it's important to remember that we're not just dealing with one lie, we're dealing with several. He lied about DoJ divisions over domestic surveillance. He lied about coaching witnesses before congressional testimony. He lied about violations of the Patriot Act.

In each instance, he lied in sworn testimony, in public, before congressional committees, which is exactly why several lawmakers are now asking that he be investigated for perjury.

But just when it seemed things couldn't get worse for Gonzales, the evidence against him gets a little worse.
FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress on Thursday that the confrontation in 2004 between then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in Ashcroft's hospital room was over the controversial warrantless surveillance program -- in apparent contradiction of Gonzales' Senate testimony on Tuesday.
Mueller said he spoke with Ashcroft shortly after Gonzales left the hospital, and he was told the meeting dealt with "an NSA (National Security Agency) program that has been much discussed, yes."
Mueller made the comment as he testified before the House Judiciary Committee.
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Gonzales insisted he had visited the ailing Ashcroft in the hospital to discuss "other intelligence activities," not the surveillance program.
That, of course, wasn't ... what's the word ... true.

Indeed, Mueller's testimony was a sharp rebuke of the line Gonzales has taken for quite some time. While the AG argued that there were no Justice Department reservations about warrantless domestic searches, the FBI director testified today that the agency was deeply divided.
Mueller also testified Thursday that he had serious reservations about the warrantless surveillance program at the time of the dramatic internal administration showdown and threats of top-level resignations.
Mueller did not confirm he had threatened to resign, but he twice said he supports the testimony of former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who had testified that Gonzales and former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card tried to pressure Ashcroft to reauthorize a surveillance program against terror suspects.
Mueller for the first time publicly confirmed he did dispatch -- as Comey had testified -- an FBI security detail to the hospital room to ensure that Comey was not removed from the room when Gonzales was there.
It's worth remembering that, as a matter of governmental hierarchy, Gonzales is Mueller's boss. But as of now, that doesn't seem to matter much.

How many more of these revelations will it take before the White House has seen enough? How much more will craven congressional Republicans tolerate?

Who Murdered Pat Tillman?

This post, written by TRex, originally appeared on FireDogLake

"This war is so fucking illegal." (Patrick Tillman)

From the AP:
Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
"The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.
The doctors - whose names were blacked out - said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.
In other words, Pat Tillman was most likely murdered in the field. In cold blood. By other US soldiers.

This must be what the Bush Administration was trying so desperately to hide behind their all purpose "Executive Privilege" shield.

Also from the AP article:
Among other information contained in the documents:
_ In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop "sniveling."
_ Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.
_ The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman's death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn't recall details of his actions.
_ No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene - no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.
The Pentagon and the Bush administration have been criticized in recent months for lying about the circumstances of Tillman's death. The military initially told the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by enemy fire. Only weeks later did the Pentagon acknowledge he was gunned down by fellow Rangers.
I wonder how long it will take the John Derbyshires and Michelle Malkins of the Rabid Right to insist that Tillman was to blame for his own murder. Start the countdown. Let's synchronize our watches...

Bush Treats Bob Woodruff Like Crap

This post, written by Richard Blair, originally appeared on The All Spin Zone

George Bush is a contemptuous, spoiled little prick. Even when he's receiving the recommendations of a committee he set up to investigate poor veteran's health care at Walter Reed hospital, he just has to show how much of a smarmy little man he really is by upstaging a guy who had half his head blown off.

You know how it is when you hear something on the radio that perks up your ears, but you just can't be sure exactly what was said? This one is kind of hard to believe, but completely in keeping with the character of George W. Bush.

Yesterday, Bush held a quick news conference after accepting the Walter Reed Commission report, and ABC newsie Bob Woodruff was in the press gallery. In prepared remarks, Bush recognized Woodruff's personal journey back from near-fatal injuries that he suffered in Iraq:
I also want to recognize Bob Woodruff here. He is a -- he himself was wounded, severely wounded, and went through the system, to a certain extent. And we welcome you back, and we're glad you're with us. And we would hope that any wounded soldier, any person in uniform would receive the kind of care and the ability to return to work, just like you have done. And so we're glad you're with us, Bob. Congratulations on the will to recover...
Nice, huh? Compassionate, huh? But wait a moment. There's more to the story. Here's what the prepared remarks didn't capture. After the brief remarks, Woodruff asked Bush a question. CNN paraphrased the question thusly (an exact transcript of the exchange isn't yet available):

White Men Fear Losing the Presidency

This post, written by Sara Rosell, originally appeared on Race Wire

Does Race Matter? has recently posted a response to the latest cover of Esquire Magazine, which boldly asks, "can a white man still be elected president?"

On the cover towers Sen. John Edwards, positioned in a superman stance (as one person commented on Racialicious) and looking ahead in all of his white glory.

Let's not forget the icing on the cake. Above John Edwards lies a half-naked woman accompanied by the headline, "sexiest woman alive." This cover says enough. We are being told that women and people of color are rising above a history of injustices, yet the reality is that the injustices persist today. Even if we do elect a white female or Black male president, people like the editors at Esquire, will continue to forget what racism and sexism looks like, especially as they make 'white man' synonymous with man and leader.

Ultimately, Esquire can't see how Sen. Hillary Clinton does not represent all women, and Sen. Barack Obama all people of color. Which is why Esquire conveys the message of the dawning of an age of "minorities"--a dystopia for the white man, as Wendi Muse reports.

However, women and people of color are far from beating 'the white man' in other, non presidential races. Our television remains dominated by ideas of white masculinity, our celebrities, our news, our schools and other institutions remain Eurocentric. The current way in which our world is dominated by the white man will not be overcome by mere change of the American president.

Democrats Call for Special Counsel to Investigate Gonzales

This post, written by Faiz Shakir, originally appeared on Think Progress

The AP reports that a four-page memo sent by then-National Intelligence Director John Negroponte in May 2006 confirms that a March 2004 White House intelligence briefing for top congressional leaders was on "the Terrorist Surveillance Program."

Click for larger version
(click for larger version)

The revelation is significant because just yesterday Alberto Gonzales testified that the White house briefing was about "other intelligence activities."
"The dissent related to other intelligence activities," Gonzales testified at Tuesday's hearing. "The dissent was not about the terrorist surveillance program."
"Not the TSP?" responded Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. "Come on. If you say it's about other, that implies not. Now say it or not."
"It was not," Gonzales answered. "It was about other intelligence activities."
ThinkProgress obtained the document, which confirms the accounts of Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) and Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV), who claimed the briefings they received were about the administration's NSA domestic surveillance program. Negroponte lists all the lawmakers who attended "briefings on the Terrorist Surveillance Program," including the eight lawmakers who attended the March 10, 2004 meeting.

Gonzales' misleading response appears to be an effort to resolve discrepancies with his earlier statements. In Feb. 2006, Gonzales testified that "there has not been any serious disagreement" about the warrantless spying program conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA). Testimony by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey proved there were indeed serious disagreements when the administration tried to seek legal approval for the spying program in 2004.

Are All Republican Politicians Perverts or Rapists?

This post, written by Howie Klein, originally appeared on Down With Tyranny!

The last couple of weeks might not have been remarkable in terms of Republican mental illness manifesting itself in sexual aggression and perversion-- but more of it was exposed than normally comes to light.

Louisiana Senator David Vitters (Giuliani's man in the South) it turns out, was preaching hatred towards Democrats for not being as committed to "Family Values" as much as he was while he was carrying on with a plethora of prostitutes for at least a decade and seems to be addicted to a diaper fetish. While Florida Rep. (and McCain election co-chair) Bob Allen was proposing a draconian Sexual Predator Elimination Act-- which would send sexual predators to prison for life-- he was prowling public toilets and asking men if he could pay them to perform fellatio on them. North Carolina Rep. David Almond sexually assaulted a legislative aide in the state Capitol and was forced to resign by his fellow Republicans when the cover-up didn't work. And one of NYC's only elected Republicans, Queens City Councilman Dennis Gallagher, was accused by a woman he picked up in a bar of raping her.

From hysterically homophobic Idaho Senator Larry Craig haunting the men's stall in Union Station's public restrooms to child predator Florida Congressman Mark Foley, there seems to be a definite connection between aggressively and angrily waving the flag of family values and attacking ones opponents for not being "pro-family" enough and being a deranged pervert. There are allegations of rank hypocrisy against anti-sex stalwarts/closet cases like Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Lindsey Graham, Congressman Patrick McHenry, Ohio GOP political boss Alex Arshinkoff, etc.

And now it looks like the GOP is training their legions of sex criminals earlier than anyone feared. This morning's Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the former head of the Michigan Federation of Young Republicans raped a college student at the national Young Republicans convention in Cleveland's Warehouse District. With role models like Vitter, Arshinkoff, McConnell, Allen, et al, what can you expect. Michael Flory wanted to be a Republican player. So he played like the big shot respected, admired Republicans.

Didn't know any better? He's an attorney. He did manage to plea bargain his rape down to "sexual battery" though.
The teary-eyed college student he overpowered in a downtown hotel room gasped and dabbed her eyes as Flory replied to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Peter Corrigan's question, "Are you indeed guilty?"
"Sure - yeah," Flory said.

What Are Progressive Blogs Lacking?

This post, written by Mike Lux, originally appeared on Open Left

There is a great deal of conversation in the blogosphere about why Democratic and progressive donors don't do more to support this movement. Bloggers are justifiably proud of the incredible added value they've brought to Democratic/progressive politics in the form of breaking important news stories that the media has ignored, shaping the debate on major issues that nobody else has done, identifying candidates early on that the Democratic establishment was ignoring and helping them go on to victory, recruiting tens of thousands of new volunteers for Democratic candidates and raising millions of dollars for the Democratic Party and progressive candidates. Bloggers have revitalized the Democratic Party and progressive politics, and yet for the most part, they are ignored by its major donors.

I wanted to share my perspective on this, as someone who knows and has worked for many years with people in the donor community. I believe that bringing these donors into a mutually beneficial relationship with the progressive blogosphere will happen, but that it will take a different kind of strategy and some patience before things change. I am optimistic over the long term, because for all their differences, the big donor community and the blogger community have one big thing in common: candidates and groups all too often look at them as ATM machines, rather than valuing their ideas and strategic thinking.

Here are the barriers I see to the relationship:

First, I think it is important to understand the frame of references donors are living in: anybody who gives a lot of money to good causes has a huge target on their back. I was once, about 10 years ago, visiting one of my dearest friends in the donor world, a legendary force of nature named Bernard "B" Rapoport. B has given away millions of dollars a year, for many decades now, to Democratic causes, progressive think tanks and advocacy groups and to educational institutions to help poor kids. I got to his hometown of Waco, Texas late in the afternoon, and went to his office to hang out with him before going to dinner with he and his wife, Audre. In the hour I was with him in the office, he had eight phone calls. One was related to his business, the other seven were from people asking for money. Among that seven were six from politicians, including Tom Daschle, Dick Gephardt, Tom Harkin and Ted Kennedy. The one that wasn't a politician was from another major donor friend, whom B had just gotten to give a big check to a favorite cause of his own, who was calling to ask B to return the favor.

This is the life of a big donor. They get hit up constantly by just about everybody they know, including big name politicians, other donors, celebrities and heads of well-known organizations on a very regular basis. All of the folks asking make their strongest possible pitch as to why their campaign, or other candidates they are supporting, or their organization is the best thing since sliced bread.

Anti-War Iraq Vets Reach Out to Progressives

This post, written by John Stauber, originally appeared on PR Watch

The Center for Media and Democracy is sponsoring a "Breakfast with the Troops" in Chicago on Sunday, August 5, 9 a.m. at the Yearly Kos extravaganza in the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place.

Join Sheldon Rampton and me for coffee, pastries and a moderated discussion of how online activists can better support our troops in their own resistance to the war in Iraq. We'll be discussing the war with Garett Reppenhagen, Aaron Hughes and other soldiers who are the backbone of Iraq Veterans Against the War, IVAW.

I've never attended a Yearly Kos. I'm looking forward to this annual gathering of the Netroots crowd, the online movement that has become a powerful force in Democratic Party politics and fundraising, liberal and left activism, and the news media. The Netroots emerged in 2003 from a convergence of on-line opposition to the Iraq war and the presidential campaign of Howard Dean, the current Democratic Party chairman.

August 5th's "Breakfast with the Troops" is an opportunity for Yearly Kos attendees to converse with a constituency crucial to stopping the war, anti-war soldiers themselves. Coincidentally the 40th anniversary conference of Vietnam Veterans Against the War is also being held in Chicago the same weekend as Yearly Kos, and Iraq Vets Against the War will be attending. Appreciation continues to grow for the work and leadership of pro-peace Vietnam soldiers in stopping that war. The 2006 documentary Sir, No Sir! illuminates the activism of thousands of soldiers who demonstrated in the streets, organized war crimes tribunals, and often went to the brig for peace.

The Ten Reasons Bush Refuses to End the War

This post, written by Daniel DiRito, originally appeared on All Spin Zone

As I read yesterday's New York Times article on the most recent Bush administration plan for a do-over in Iraq, I found myself wondering if I could think of other events in history that had an equivalent "You've got to be kidding me" factor. According to the report, high level officials are working on a plan that envisions a strong U.S. presence in Iraq until at least 2009.

This new strategy focuses upon securing Baghdad in order to provide Iraq's shaky government the "breathing space they need to try political reconciliation" idea that I'm still attempting to comprehend. Does this mean that Iraq's politicians are afraid to meet with each other because the streets of Baghdad are too threatening? The Times explains the plan as follows:
The plan envisions two phases. The "near-term" goal is to achieve "localized security" in Baghdad and other areas no later than June 2008. It envisions encouraging political accommodations at the local level, including with former insurgents, while pressing Iraq's leaders to make headway on their program of national reconciliation.
The "intermediate" goal is to stitch together such local arrangements to establish a broader sense of security on a nationwide basis no later than June 2009.
"The coalition, in partnership with the government of Iraq, employs integrated political, security, economic and diplomatic means, to help the people of Iraq achieve sustainable security by the summer of 2009," a summary of the campaign plan states.
I have to hand it to those crafting this new plan...they have mastered the art of doublespeak, nuance, and innuendo...such that it is virtually impossible to understand the actual actions to be executed.

Perhaps the Bush administration has concluded that numbers and catchy names for the latest assault or the next surge have done little more than lead to overwhelming skepticism. I guess if you can devise a plan that defies description or understanding, you cannot be held accountable since it would be impossible to measure its effectiveness.

With that in mind, I decided absurdity was the order of the day. The following is my own list of the top ten reasons George Bush is determined to stay in Iraq.

Will Cheney Run for President?

This post, written by Faiz Shakir, originally appeared on Think Progress

In April, the New York Sun published an editorial entitled "Cheney's Chance," encouraging the Vice President to jump into the presidential race. The Sun argued that having a "defender on the campaign trail" would boost Bush's approval ratings.

In a review of Stephen Hayes' new biography of Cheney, Ira Stoll -- the editor of the Sun -- recycles his plea. Stoll writes that he believes the Hayes book is part of an effort by Cheney to drum up support for a potential campaign run:
The book quotes Senator McCain as saying, "Dick doesn't like campaigning." Nothing in the Hayes book suggests that Mr. Cheney is about to do it -- except for that the vice president spent nearly 30 hours cooperating with the author and apparently gave the okay for many of his friends and colleagues to grant similar access. The Richard Cheney described in this book isn't vain enough to do that simply for his reputation in history. My own guess -- okay, hope -- is that Mr. Cheney has taken a look at the Republican presidential field and sees an opening. If Iowa and New Hampshire Republicans start receiving copies of "Cheney" in their mailboxes, Mr. Cheney's popularity may yet begin to climb.

Live at the Gonzo Hearings

This post, written by Christy Hardin Smith, originally appeared on FireDogLake

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is set to testify today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Testimony will begin at 9:30 am ET -- and will be covered live on C-Span3. I'll try to liveblog to the best of my ability this morning as the hearing moves forward -- but that requires a little cooperation from all of you. The more you fill up the comments with one-liners and/or irrelevent, off-topic comments, the faster I have to change threads. Which means I have to pause my Tivo...and that puts the liveblogging behind.

So, keep the comments sparse, and I'll liveblog as quickly and accurately as I can, and we'll all be happier. Thanks gang. Happy birthday to dratty this morning. Now, onto the Texas Toast...


9:32 am ET

SEN. LEAHY gavels the hearing into session.

SEN. LEAHY OPENING: Three months ago when AG Goznales last appeared before thsi committee, I said that the DOJ was experiencing a crisis of leadership perhaps unrivaled in its history. That crisis continues. The AG has lost confidence of the American public -- the DOJ must be restoreed to be worthy of tis name. It should not be reduced to being a political arm of the WH -- it was never intended tobe that. With the department shrouded in scandal, the DAG has announced his resignation, others have asked that their names be withdrawn rather than face a confirmation hearing. The DOJ's chief of staff, WH liaison and others have resigned. I joke that the last one out should turn out the lights. This WH values loyalty over judgment, secrecy over openness and ideology over competence. Political considerations factored into the firing of at least nine USAttys. The list was compiled by high ranks within the WH -- whether federal prosecutors were doing enough to file partisan voter fraud cases in strategic locations. The question remaining is who made the decision to fire these prosecutors. We know from testimony that the President was not involved. The evidence we have been able to collect points to Karl Rove and political operatives in the WH -- the stonewalling continues to our desire to get to the truth. What is the WH so desperate to hide? This WH has ordered former officials not to appear, including Harriet Miers -- the WH is asserting its claims of privilege -- further than have ever been asserted in our nation's history -- and that neither Congress nor the courts can review it. Again, this WH puts itself above the law.

Discussing the Todd Graves refusal to bring a case which would have stripped a number of African American voters from the voter rolls. When Graves was fired, Schlozman was brought in -- and did what the WH wanted, including filing a case on the eve of an election contrary to DOJ internal regulations. This is what happens when a responsible prosecutor is replaced by one who is politically motivated. [CHS notes: AG Gonzales is using an old lawyer trick this morning -- keep yourself busy taking notes as someone is speaking so that you don't show emotion. When he is looking upward at Leahy, it is all he can do to suppress a massive stink-eye look. Leahy's opening is quite good thus far.]

Is John Conyers Flushing His Legacy Down the Toilet?

This post, written by David Swanson, originally appeared on After Downing Street

About 47 of us spent 8 or 9 hours yesterday in jail for protesting a man who, at least when he woke up yesterday morning, only thought of himself as on the side of those who protest power.

While hundreds of us lined the hallways outside Chairman John Conyers' office, one of his staffers approached the door to his office but was unable to enter. The place was wall-to-wall media inside, with Cindy Sheehan, Ray McGovern, and Rev. Lennox Yearwood giving a press conference in Conyers' office in his absence. They'd gone in to speak with Conyers, but it would take him quite a while to show up.

The staffer was annoyed and complained to his colleague "It's bad enough they shut the office down with phone calls." Another staffer, this one rather pleased about it (the police, too, were on our side and three of them quietly accepted Impeach Bush and Cheney shirts), told me they were getting a pro-impeachment phone call every 30 seconds. They were also flooded with Emails and with thousands of faxes yesterday. But the message was not getting through to the Congressman.

He and several staffers met with Sheehan, McGovern, and Yearwood. It was a heated discussion. Conyers began by proposing to discuss impeachment sometime in August at a town hall meeting. We've been doing those for years. We held a huge one in Detroit in May that Conyers agreed to speak at. He showed up and left before it started. Yearwood, Sheehan, and McGovern told Conyers his time was up.

What was Conyers' objection to moving forward on impeachment now? Well, he said, if he were to do that Fox News would go after him and accuse him of being partisan. I kid you not. The Democratic Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is basing his decisions on whether a Republican cable TV station would approve. As Cindy Sheehan told me outside the jail last night: "If I based my decisions on Fox, I would never do anything."

As long as Conyers is working for Fox, maybe our next sit-in needs to be in their studios.

But Conyers expressed another concern as well. He's concerned about his legacy. I wish there were a kind way to tell him that he is about to flush it down the toilet. Conyers' judiciary committee staffers, who were in the meeting yesterday, including Ted Kalo, Perry Appelbaum, and Jonathan Godfrey, produced a year and a half ago one of the best reports summarizing and documenting the crimes of Bush and Cheney. Conyers is aware that Bush and Cheney are killing people every day that he refrains from fulfilling his oath of office. He knows that nearly a million Iraqis and 4,000 U.S. troops lie dead already. He knows that this president and vice president kidnap, torture, and murder human beings. But when pressed to act with the urgency appropriate to saving lives, Conyers replied that our nation has always killed people and that he wasn't "going to play politics."

At other times, Conyers told our delegation that they needed to wise up and move from working on justice to doing politics. But politics has become a bad word because of the way Conyers uses it. He places elections highest in the order of priorities and refuses to do his job in between elections because that would be "politics."

We elected Democrats in 2006 so that Conyers would have the committee chairmanship and move on impeachment. If he fails to act, he will quickly discover that yesterday was just a warm-up.

YouTube Debate Lives Up to Its Hype

This post, written by Ari Melber, originally appeared on The Nation

The YouTube presidential debate actually lived up to its hype. For about two hours last night, American political discourse was more genuine, diverse and - just as the Internet visionaries promised - more authentic than most days on the campaign trail.

CNN presented compelling homemade videos on a wide range of topics. Volunteers called for intervention in Darfur, as they stood amidst children in a refuge camp. One Michigan resident asked for the candidates' views on gun control while brandishing a huge assault riffle, which prompted Joe Biden to note that the guy "needs help." Stephen Sorta, a middle aged Californian, pressed the candidates with an idea that sparked one of the most revealing exchanges of the evening. He asked the candidates to commit, during their first year in the White House, to unconditional meetings with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to "bridge the gap that divides our countries." Obama seized the idea, committing to the meetings and aggressive diplomatic engagement, while also blasting the Bush administration's "ridiculous" notion that "not talking to countries is punishment." It was a fine answer for Democratic voters fed up with Bush's cowboy foreign policy. But then Clinton and Edwards both offered much deeper responses, worth quoting in full:

Washington Post Is Shocked to Learn Hillary Clinton Has Breasts

This post, written by Katha Pollitt, originally appeared on The Nation

Of all the silly, breathless, overthinky pieces about Hillary Clinton's appearance, I mean campaign, this labored bit of style-section psychobabble by Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan has to be the most inane. It seems that on Wednesday Senator Clinton was shown on C-Span giving a speech on the Senate floor about oh, whatever, and under her rose-colored jacket she wore a black top that's a millimeter lower than the ones she usually wears. OMIGOD! The Senator has breasts! Two of them! "The cleavage registered after only a quick glance," Givhan, um, reports. "No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn't an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable."

Cue mini-essay about the semiotic significance of various ballgowns worn by the Senator as First Lady, her subsequent move as Senator into a "desexualized uniform" of black pantsuits, and more gasping OMIGOD! about Wednesday's venture into something a bit less staid. "It's tempting to say that the cleavage stirs the same kind of discomfort that might be churned up after spotting Rudy Giuliani with his shirt unbuttoned just a smidge too far. No one wants to see that. But really, it was more like catching a man with his fly unzipped. Just look away!" Tops like the one Clinton wore offer a "teasing display," they're "unnerving," a "provocation." Why? "To show cleavage requires that a woman be utterly at ease in her skin, coolly confident about her appearance, unflinching about her sense of style. Any hint of ambivalence makes everyone uncomfortable. And in matters of style, Clinton is as noncommittal as ever."

The Senator's blouse is like an unzipped fly? That's the sort of brutal vulgarity I'd expect from Don Imus and other misogynistic Hillary-haters. I don't have Givhan's mind-reading abilities, so I can't say whether Clinton felt ambivalent or noncomittal about her neckline or how that would reveal itself ("Um, Dianne, Barbara, do you think this blouse is too, um, you know?"). But I spent some moments in "scrunch-faced scrutiny" of the C-Span video (thoughtfully provided by the Post) and I just don't get what Givhan is so worked up about. Granted I'm using dialup and the picture is kind of blurry, but I don't even see anything I would call cleavage.

Tom DeLay Wants to Put Fetuses to Work

This post, written by Ann Friedman, originally appeared on Feministing

Disgraced former CongressmanTom DeLay tells college Republicans that it's not NAFTA, not economic inequality, not years of failing policies that have brought us to our current immigration crisis. Nope, it's abortion rights. (Forward to the 3:45 minute-mark on this video to watch DeLay say this with a straight face.)
If you believe abortion, if you believe that doesn't affect you... I contend it affects you in immigration. If we had those 40 million children that were killed over the last 40 years, we wouldn't need the illegal immigrants to fill the jobs that they are doing today. Think about it.
Right! If all those white women hadn't had abortions, we'd have plenty of good, upstanding white folks to fill the jobs the scary brown people do now!

Seems like a crazy, fringe perspective, no? All sorts of places are linking to DeLay's comments as if this is news. But this has been a relatively popular talking point of the radical conservative, forced-pregnancy movement for quite awhile.

Is Censure Enough?

This post, written by Katrina vandel Heuvel, originally appeared on The Nation

On Meet the Press Sunday, Senator Russ Feingold announced that he will be introducing two censure resolutions in the next few days, aimed at holding President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and other administration officials responsible for the damage done to our country--weakening our security by misleading us into the disastrous war in Iraq and shredding our Constitution.

When Meet the Press host Tim Russert asked, "Isn't this futile?" (sounding every bit like the arbiter of inside-the-beltway realism that he is), Feingold spoke eloquently of the need to set the historical record straight. What message does it send, he asked, if elected representatives do not hold accountable a President and Vice-President who have used mistruths, spin, manipulated intelligence reports and fear to drag this country into a war that is the most colossal foreign policy mistake in our history? What message does it send if we do not hold them accountable for weakening our security through relentless assaults on the rule of law on which our country was founded?

History must therefore record, Feingold argued, that when faced with an administration which doesn't recognize or respect the separation of powers, which perpetually acts as if the executive branch is above the laws of our nation, the people and their elected officials stood up and demanded accountability.

Romney Has His Macaca Moment

This post, written by Pam Spaulding, originally appeared on Pam's House Blend

Mitt made a big macaca moment for himself while in South Carolina.

How does he explain this endorsement of equating Obama with the terrorist responsible for 9/11? TMZ caught this coup -- Mitt's holding up the spelling challenged Palmetto State supporter's sign for crying out loud:

Click for larger version
(click for larger version)

More here. It didn't take long for the parodies to come out, with this as inspiration:

Click for larger version
(click for larger version)

resulting in this:

Click for larger version
(click for larger version)

and this.

and this.

and this.

FEMA Administrator Forced to Appear Before Congress

This is a guest post from Josh Dorner of the Sierra Club.

Yesterday just wasn't your lucky day if you happened to be David Paulison, the Administrator of FEMA.  He was called -- under oath -- before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for an ol' fashioned tongue-lashing, Henry Waxman-style.  Paulison was made to answer for the toxic tin cans in which FEMA has housed thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina and other disasters.  Despite the brow-beating he took today, Paulison is still of course much luckier than the 120,000 residents of the Gulf Coast who actually still live in the toxic trailers -- suffering from severe respiratory and other health problems every day, even risking cancer due to long-term exposure to toxic, carcinogenic formaldehyde.

Residents of the toxic trailers came to Capitol Hill to testify about the horrors they have endured while living in the toxic tins cans.  Lindsay Huckabee, a mother of three, recalled tearfully how her children's health problems were so extensive and frequent that she has become desensitized to seeing her daughter covered in blood from her daily nosebleeds.  She also testified that every baby born to residents of her FEMA trailer park since Katrina has become asthmatic.  Paul Stewart testified that FEMA "treated him like a criminal" and attempted to replace his toxic trailer with a used, dirty trailer replete with a bed full of bugs.  Following this incident, he was forced to sleep in his truck over the weekend because FEMA could only deal with him come Monday.  Eventually he spent $50,000 of his own money to buy a formaldehyde-free trailer.

Keep reading...Show less
@2022 - AlterNet Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. - "Poynter" fonts provided by