Saturday, February 4

LIbby, Cheney and Bush knew Niger claim was false

New unredacted documents in the Libby-Plame investigation reveal that Bush, Cheney and others in the White House were well informed that the CIA did not believe that Iraq had attempted to buy Uranium from Niger in June 2003, over a year after Ambassador Joe Wilsons trip to the region to investigate the claim. From the National Journal.

Vice President Cheney and his then-Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were personally informed in June 2003 that the CIA no longer considered credible the allegations that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from the African nation of Niger, according to government records and interviews with current and former officials. The new CIA assessment came just as Libby and other senior administration officials were embarking on an effort to discredit an administration critic who had also been saying that the allegations were untrue.

The campaign against Joseph Wilson continued even after the CIA concluded that Iraq had not tried to buy uranium from the African nation of Niger.

CIA analysts wrote then-CIA Director George Tenet in a highly classified memo on June 17, 2003, "We no longer believe there is sufficient" credible information to "conclude that Iraq pursued uranium from abroad." The memo was titled: "In Response to Your Questions for Our Current Assessment and Additional Details on Iraq's Alleged Pursuits of Uranium From Abroad."

Despite the CIA's findings, Libby attempted to discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had been sent on a CIA-sponsored mission to Niger the previous year to investigate the claims, which he concluded were baseless.

The campaign against Wilson led to the outing of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as an undercover CIA officer -- less than a month after the CIA assessment was completed.

By this point in time the 16-words had already been uttered at the 2003 SOTU, despite George Tenet's repeated attempts to have them removed, the War had been in full swing for two months, and the final report from the Dulfer Report would not be completed for over another full year - the key factor here then is that faced with indications that imminent "Mushroom Clouds", one of the primary justificaions for starting the war without waiting for the inspectors to complete their job, the Bush administration decided to attack the messenger rather than accept the truth.

The new disclosures raise questions as to why Libby and other Bush administration officials continued their efforts to discredit Wilson -- even as they were told that claims about Iraq's having procured uranium from Niger were most likely a hoax.
Why indeed.
The answer may lie in part with the already well-known misgivings about the CIA by Cheney, Libby, and other senior Bush administration officials. At one point during that period -- the summer of 2003 -- Libby confronted a senior intelligence analyst briefing him and the vice president and accused the CIA of willfully misleading him and the administration on Niger. Libby was said to be upset that the CIA, in his view, had routinely minimized the extent to which Iraq was pursuing weapons of mass destruction and was now prematurely attempting to distance itself from the Niger allegations.

Libby had also complained about the CIA's Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control. WINPAC, as the center is known, scrutinizes unconventional-weapons threats to the United States, including the pursuit by both foreign nations and terrorist groups of nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological weapons.

Libby, according to people with knowledge of the events, said that he and Cheney had come to believe that WINPAC was presenting Saddam Hussein's pursuit of such weapons in a far more benign light than Iraq's intents and capabilities reflected. Libby cited CIA bureaucratic inertia and caution and his view that many of WINPAC's analysts were aligned with foreign-policy elites who did not support the war with Iraq.
Basically these guys thought the CIA was lying to them (when it turns out they were actually right on target) - and in retaliation they outed a CIA operative, who just happened to work at WINPAC? Is this the "Exact Same Intelligence" that everyone else received?

I think we can now see why the Phase II Investigation of Adminstration manipulation of Intelligence has been postponed for two years, and why White House Emails seem to be disappearing.


Factcheck: MIsstatement of the Union

The non-partisan site whom Dick Cheney quoted during the Vice Presidential debates to defend himself from a John Edwards attack has released it's analysis of the 2006 State of the Union.

(BTW Cheney not only got the site name wrong - calling it "" - he got the facts wrong, since actually proved Edwards correct) Next to, this is one of the best sites on the web to give you the straight scoop.

The President left out a few things when surveying the State of the Nation:
  • He proudly spoke of "writing a new chapter in the story of self-government" in Iraq and Afghanistan and said the number of democracies in the world is growing. He failed to mention that neither Iraq nor Afghanistan yet qualify as democracies according to the very group whose statistics he cited.
  • Bush called for Congress to pass a line-item veto, failing to mention that the Supreme Court struck down a line-item veto as unconstitutional in 1998. Bills now in Congress would propose a Constitutional amendment, but none have shown signs of life.
  • The President said the economy gained 4.6 million jobs in the past two-and-a-half years, failing to note that it had lost 2.6 million jobs in his first two-and-a-half years in office. The net gain since Bush took office is just a little more than 2 million.
  • He talked of cutting spending, but only "non-security discretionary spending." Actually, total federal spending has increased 42 percent since Bush took office.
  • He spoke of being "on track" to cut the federal deficit in half by 2009. But the deficit is increasing this year, and according to the Congressional Budget Office it will decline by considerably less than half even if Bush's tax cuts are allowed to lapse.
  • Bush spoke of a "goal" of cutting dependence on Middle Eastern oil, failing to mention that US dependence on imported oil and petroleum products increased substantially during his first five years in office, reaching 60 per cent of consumption last year.

So generally speaking we're talking about a total stinkbomb of speach, and that's not even counting all the distortions over Domestic Spying. Continued...

Democracy & Freedom

The President spoke of the growing number of nations in the world that live under democratic governments, and said "we're writing a new chapter in the story of self-government" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The President's numbers come from Freedom House, a nonprofit group that tracks levels of democracy and freedom around the globe.

It is true, just as the President said, that there were 122 democracies in the world in 2005, but Iraq and Afghanistan are not yet counted among them by Freedom House.

Also, Freedom House rates neither Iraq nor Afghanistan as "free." It rates Iraq as "not free," with scores on civil liberties and political freedom as low as those of Egypt. "Iraq gets points taken away for the chaos that is associated with the insurgency, among other things," Freedom House's Arch Puddington told Afghanistan is rated somewhat better but still only "partly free."

We asked Puddington why the highly publicized elections in Iraq and Afghanistan don't yet qualify those countries to be counted as democracies. "It's a flawed way of thinking to believe that elections alone guarantee democracy," Puddington said. "You have to have a reasonable rule of law, a reasonable amount of freedom of the press, personal security. You have to have a fair and consistent electoral process in place, and you have to have the people who are elected then effectively governing the society."

So "we're spreading democracy", except that it's not really Democracy, and most of the spreading actually took place prior to the Bush Administration if you really think about it - like when Soviet Union Collapsed, which led to chaos in the balkan states until President Clinton ended the Wars and ethnic cleansing Bosnia and Kosovo.

Anyways, how's that economy doing?


The President noted that the US has gained 4.6 million jobs in the past two-and-a-half years. That's true. However, most of that gain merely made up for the 2.6 million jobs that were lost during Bush's first two-and-a-half years.

The graph below shows the cumulative change in jobs starting in January 2001, when Bush first took office, and ending in December 2005, the most recent month for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has released figures for total nonfarm employment. (New figures for January are due to be announced Feb. 2.)

So as Bush crows about all the jobs he's "created", he does a great job of admitting that it took almost his entire first term just to recover from all the jobs he lost. Let's just hope we don't have a huge natural disaster or something that displaces hundreds of thousands of people or something and throws that economic recovery into a tailspin... Oops.

And speaking of costs...


The President, speaking of being "good stewards of tax dollars," focused on one small part of the budget and did not mention rapid growth in overall federal spending that has taken place under his tenure.

He said "we've reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending," which is true. However, that category accounts for only about 16 per cent of the whole federal budget, and it too has grown, though not as rapidly as other categories.

Bush said bills were passed last year that would actually cut this category, and that is correct. The decline is projected to be 0.5 per cent, according to figures from the Office of Management and Budget.

Overall federal spending is up 42 per cent under Bush, according to figures from the Congressional Budget Office. And CBO projects further upward pressure on spending, including rising interest rates pushing up the cost of servicing the swelling national debt, and rising medical costs and Bush's new prescription drug benefit pushing up the cost of Medicare. (Neither item is counted in the "discretionary" category). CBO projects interest costs will increase 18 per cent in the current fiscal year, and Medicare will go up 17 per cent.


Under President Clinton Federal Spending declined and the overrall size of Government was reduced by 15%. Good job Gorgie.


Friday, February 3

Downing Street II has arrived

The Guardian has released the story of a January 2003 meeting between Bush and Blair where the complete lack of WMD evidence in Iraq is discussed and Bush claims it doesn't matter. (Watch Video of Report from Channel 4)

Tony Blair and George Bush at a press conference in the White House on January 31 2003. Photograph: Shawn Thew/AFP
Tony Blair and George Bush at a press conference in the White House on January 31 2003. Photograph: Shawn Thew/AFP

Tony Blair told President George Bush that he was "solidly" behind US plans to invade Iraq before he sought advice about the invasion's legality and despite the absence of a second UN resolution, according to a new account of the build-up to the war published today.

A memo of a two-hour meeting between the two leaders at the White House on January 31 2003 - nearly two months before the invasion - reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme.

"The diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning", the president told Mr Blair. The prime minister is said to have raised no objection. He is quoted as saying he was "solidly with the president and ready to do whatever it took to disarm Saddam".

At this point in time, UN Resolution 1441 had been passed and weapons inspectors had returned to Iraq and found nothing. The minutes from this meeting indicate that Bush didn't care, and Blaire backed him up. So when in doubt of an actual crime, Bush decided to do just what a real American heros like John McClaine (Die Hard) or Wyle E. Coyote might do -- set a trap for the bastard.

· Mr Bush told Mr Blair that the US was so worried about the failure to find hard evidence against Saddam that it thought of "flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours". Mr Bush added: "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach [of UN resolutions]".

Unfortunately, Saddam didn't fall for the old "tunnel panted on the side of a moutain" trick.

· Mr Bush even expressed the hope that a defector would be extracted from Iraq and give a "public presentation about Saddam's WMD".

You mean a defector like "Curveball"? Who just happens to be batshit crazy?
He is also said to have referred Mr Blair to a "small possibility" that Saddam would be "assassinated".
Ok, never mind the tunnel painting, let's just go for the big rock on a rope and wait for Saddam to walk under it. [Never mind the fact that assasinations are illegal]

· Mr Blair told the US president that a second UN resolution would be an "insurance policy", providing "international cover, including with the Arabs" if anything went wrong with the military campaign, or if Saddam increased the stakes by burning oil wells, killing children, or fomenting internal divisions within Iraq.

When at first you don't succeed - try, try and forget about it. Ultimately the U.S. and British efforts at a second resolution failed miserably. Blocked by Russia, France, China and Germany - (and "Curveball" our one trusted source on Iraq WMD was being held by the Germans). Bush and Blair simply ignored them all and went to war anyway.

· Mr Bush told the prime minister that he "thought it unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups". Mr Blair did not demur, according to the book.

Yep, just another example of Bush not knowing what the hell he's talking about. This in a way, isn't really news. Bush has said that even if he'd known there were no WMD's he still would have gone to War to remove Saddam.

Wait - "If"? There is no "If" in this scenario, it's clear that Bush knew that the inspectors had found nothing, and just might continue to do so. He considered setting a trap for Saddam, not only considered assasinating him - he actually tried to kill him with all those "Decapitation Strikes" during the Shock and Awe phase of the campaign.

The point here is that all of this completely contradicts the President Public Statements at the time. January 31 Press Conference with Tony Blair

Q Thank you, sir. Mr. President, is Secretary Powell going to provide the undeniable proof of Iraq's guilt that so many critics are calling for?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, all due in modesty, I thought I did a pretty good job myself of making it clear that he's not disarming and why he should disarm. Secretary Powell will make a strong case about the danger of an armed Saddam Hussein. He will make it clear that Saddam Hussein is fooling the world, or trying to fool the world. He will make it clear that Saddam is a menace to peace in his own neighborhood. He will also talk about al Qaeda links, links that really do portend a danger for America and for Great Britain, anybody else who loves freedom.

Think Progress has the wrap up which shows that long after Bush had decided to go to war, he repeated lied to the American public about.

I’ve not made up our mind about military action. Hopefully, this can be done peacefully. [3/6/03]

We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force. [3/8/03]

Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war, and every measure will be taken to win it. [3/17/03]

Three years later it's seem perfecly obvious that the person fooling the world, wasn't Saddam - it was Bush and Blair. On March 19th, 2003 - the Iraq War began.


Thursday, February 2

Even Wingnuts think Bush broke the law

Remember Grover Norquist? He's the guy who said that he wanted Government small enough that he could "drown it in the bathtub". He also said - "I've been a 'winger' from way back," he says. "I was an anti-Communist first, and then I became an economic conservative. I think I've gotten more radical as I've gotten older."

Well it appears his wingerness has finally found something even too radical for him, Bush's Domestic Spying Program.

Grover Norquist: Bush Broke The Law

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan wants to make the controversy about Bush’s warrantless domestic surveillance program a partisan issue. Last week, McClellan issued this statement:
The NSA’s terrorist surveillance program is targeted at al Qaeda communications coming into or going out of the United States…Senate Democrats continue to engage in misleading and outlandish charges about this vital tool... It defies common sense for Democrats to now claim the administration is acting outside its authority...
It’s not true. Some of the most conservative members of the Senate have said they think Bush broke the law. Now Grover Norquist, one of the most important leaders of the conservative movement, declared the program illegal:
Referring to what some see as a conflict between fighting vicious terrorists and upholding all civil liberties, Norquist said: “It’s not either/or. If the president thinks he needs different tools, pass a law to get them. Don’t break the existing laws.“
Next week Attorney General Gonzales will be speaking to Congress to "explain" this program, Sen Feingold has already pointed out that Gonzales was previously asked about programs of this type during his confirmation, and he lied. I've called Sen. Lindsey Graham's office and they told me that the Senator has made any formal statement, but his feeling is that the program isn't legal.

That's some pretty squishy support the President is getting from even his own people, next week should be very interesting.


Wednesday, February 1

The State of Dis-Union and other High Comedy

Well, that was entertaining because I just love a good fairy-tale, don't you? I think he should get George Lucas to produce the movie version, or maybe it needs the Bruckheimer touch? A little Black Hawk Down mixed with Places in the Heart? A great Action Hero, Down Home Family movie for all ages where the bad guys are real bad evildoers and the good guys make sure that the mothers of our fallen soldiers are quickly whisked away before the opening credit less their quiet sobs in the back of the room spoil everyone's mood. Or worse - they wear a T-Shirt with a little too much truthiness to it. (Never mind the clear illegality of such an action)

Maybe we'll let them stay, as long as they allow themselves to be used for cheap jingoism?

Purple Fingers Good - T-Shirts Bad!

Still the best parts, were all in the audience participation segments - because as we all know, it's all about the "Hokey Pokey"! (Aka The Official Dance of the Congress Critters as they jump up and down from their seats on cue like trained seals!) Arr! Arr! Clap! Clap!

Except, of course, for those telling moments when they didn't.

The first thirty minutes were pretty dull. We got your basic empty platitudes about bipartisanship....

In a system of two parties, two chambers, and two elected branches, there will always be differences and debate. But even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger. To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of goodwill and respect for one another -- and I will do my part.
Yeah, right - sure. When was the last time the President consulted with the minority party on anything? No Child Left Behind? Harriet Miers? In Congress, Democratic bills are ignored - conference committees occur between Republicans and their Lobbyists behind closed doors. Democrats don't even get the chance to offer amendments.

How about Dick Cheney to Pat Leahy on the floor of the Sennate- "Go Fuck Yourself".
Civil? This a complete sham of "bipartisanship", but if Boy King George likes to pretends it's not, who am I to throw cold water on his fever dream?

After that we had a series of easy gimmes...

  • The only way to protect our people, the only way to secure the peace, the only way to control our destiny is by our leadership -- so the United States of America will continue to lead.

  • Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer -- so we will act boldly in freedom's cause.

  • At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half -- in places like Syria and Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran -- because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom, as well.

  • When they murder children at a school in Beslan, or blow up commuters in London, or behead a bound captive, the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.

  • But our enemies and our friends can be certain: The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil.

  • I am confident in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning.
  • During most of these sections, you had both side of the aisle rise in enthusiastic support. And these are pretty cool things to say -- "Freedom's on the March" and all that. (Yeah, I know he didn't say that until later). The first obvious break came when he said this...

    The road of victory is the road that will take our troops home. As we make progress on the ground, and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop levels -- but those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C.

    The Democrats stood down on this one - quiet as church mice, while Republicans cheered. Besides the fact that Mr. Bi-Partisan just too a cheap shot at Rep John Murtha, the content of what he's saying is very interesting. You had General Shinseki advising that we needed far more troops, as well as studies from the Rand Corporation and similar advice from political leaders on the ground in Iraq like Paul Bremer. But did political appointees like Rumsfeld listen? Noooooo.

    The reasons Senators Biden, McCain, Lugar and Hagel have said we needed more troops, is because that's what the troops told them, because Rummy ain't hearing it.

    Biden on CNN last July.

    "I was there Memorial Day -- not one single general, not one single major, not one single colonel I spoke to you -- and I spoke to, I think, all of them, all of the major players -- not one of them said they had enough troops. Not one. And you've been reporting that. Your folks have been going out to Iraq. Your folks in Iraq have been interviewing the military guys on the ground. I don't know who's talking to the president."

    Oooh, Snap!

    The Preznit continued... speaking on Iran becoming a free democratic state (Before or after we turn it into a shinny glass bowl with bunker-busting nukes, I wonder?) Fighting Global Aids (What he hell has he done on that lately?) and of course supporting homeland security.

    Fortunately, this nation has superb professionals in law enforcement, intelligence, the military, and homeland security. These men and women are dedicating their lives, protecting us all, and they deserve our support and our thanks.

    Sure, everyone is all for that. But then in the very next sentence...

    They also deserve the same tools they already use to fight drug trafficking and organized crime -- so I ask you to reauthorize the Patriot Act.

    Republicans - Yay! Democrats - crickets. Oh, by the way - the Patriot Act has officially expired. Funniest - Shit - EVER!

    Since he was already in deep, like up to his knees with this Patriot Act stuff - why not go for the full dunk with the NSA Spying? Sure. Let's do it. Grab your scooba gear.

    It is said that prior to the attacks of September the 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al Qaeda operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late.

    As has been noted, there were numerous warnings which went unheeded. An FBI informant was living with this men. They'd already been identified as possible terrorist by the CIA, wanted by the FBI and were already on the State Dept TIPOFF list. We didn't need to have the NSA listen in on their phone calls. The Left Hand (CIA, State) just need to let the Right Hand (FBI Headquaters) know what the heck was going on. FBI agents in the field, were already on the case.

    So to prevent another attack -- based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute -- I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America.

    Ok, if were only listening to "al Qaeda operatives and affiliates" why is the FBI being buried under a mountain of bogus NSA leads? Why are they targeting Greenpeace and Peta? And why did that spying begin before 9/11?

    Previous Presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have,

    Some have tried, those who did it in secret (Wilson, Roosevelt) were never challenged in court. Those who were challenged (Lincoln, Truman) both lost - and Clinton did something entirely different. No sale.

    and federal courts have approved the use of that authority.

    No, they haven't. The Court found in both Youngstown and Hamdi that judicial review was clearly required when the President's Article II Powers intersect with the 4th Amendment.

    Appropriate members of Congress have been kept informed.

    But according to the Congressional Research Service - the limited nature of those briefings may have been illegal.

    The terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks.

    That remains highly doubtful at this point. But even if true, it's highly likely that anyone captured as a result of warrantless FISA wiretaps would have an excellent "Fruits of the poison tree" claim. So the way to protect America is to break the law and make sure that terrorists can't be brought to justice?

    It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al Qaeda, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.

    Of course we won't. But it would be nice, if we insisted that those who strive to protect us would do their jobs in accordance with the law rather than look for cheap (and wasteful) shortcuts. It seems that numerous attorneys at DOJ such as James Comey as well as professionals at NSA such as Russell Tice (most of whom are Republican) seem to feel the same way.

    And lets not forget the deep irony of the President saying, "Tonight we are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta Scott King" - and point out that the U.S. Government illegally wiretapped her husband, so long ago.

    I think that these comments here by the President are his new "16 Words". He's stepped into it big time, and it's going to cost him. And I think the Democrats knew it - because as I watched the playback, I swear I could see them -- Laughing! Hillary Clinton was quite obvious cracking up, as the President did his spiel on the NSA.

    They did more than just remain in their seats - they mocked him. And that friends is truly a good sign.

    After this you had the typical lopsided reaction to the Presidents "Tax Plan".

    Because America needs more than a temporary expansion, we need more than temporary tax relief. I urge the Congress to act responsibly, and make the tax cuts permanent.

    Other great moments in comedy. On this next one, John McCain looked like he was about to burst a blood vessel trying to do an immitation of one of those little toy monkey's with the cymbals:

    I am pleased that members of Congress are working on earmark reform, because the federal budget has too many special interest projects. (Applause.)

    Sadly, it looked like he was the only person clapping. If one lone reformer claps in an empty chamber, does anyone hear?

    It's interesting to note that although Bush did manage to mention Bill Clinton (saying that he and Bill were two of his father's favorite people - a comment that prompted an icy grin from Bill's Wife Hillary), he manage to get through the entire speech without mentioning Osama Bin Laden.

    And just where is Osama as well as Al-Zawahiri, anyway? Apparently he's on CNN.

    And we can tackle this problem together, if you pass the line-item veto. (Applause.)

    SPIT-TAKE! The wha?? Didn't that get already passed during Clinton's term and shot down by the Supreme Cou.... uh, oh. Here we go again folks. A "Golden Oldie" from the Contract on America has just come back from the grave, courtesy of spanking new Justices Roberts and Alito. Anyone wanna take bets on how long the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments are going to last?

    And then of course you had the absolutely funniest moment of the entire night, a moment which caught the President in mid whine about the sad and lingering death of his entire agenda...

    Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security -- (applause) --

    Actually, it wasn't just applause -- it was a War Whoop - "YEEEE-hAaaaahhh" - coming from the Democrats celebrating Bush's utter and complete failure to radically change the Social Security program.

    That my friends was a vital moment. (I think I rewound and watched it again about fives times) We have to remember that we beat them on that point. Even as weak and ineffectual as the Democratic Party has been - we won on that battleground.

    And we can win again. We will win again. And again. And again.

    "YEEEEE-haaaaaahhh!!!". (rewind)


    Tuesday, January 31

    Coretta Scott King Dies on the same day as her late husands Dream

    Crossposted on Dailykos

    Corretta Scott King has just died, on the same day that Samael Alito was confirmed to the Supreme Court.

    This is the moment that the right-wing has been striving to achieve for the past 25 years.

    I vow on my immortal soul, that this will also be the first moment in their impending and permenent fall. I pledge in the memory of Dr King, that I will do all I can - financial, emotional, physicially - to help bring about a truly more perfect union. A more Perfect World.

    I rise to remind you why we are Democrats...

    I heard Sam Seder on AAR yesterday in response to a right-wing phone troll who snidely asked "Where is the right to an Abortion in the Constitution"? Sam pointed out that the Constitution isn't simply a catalogue of person rights, it's a catalogue of governmental limits and responsibilities.

    Under the 10th Amendment -"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

    This concept is at the very core of "Power to the People". The people (who dare) are the ones who determine our fate. We are the People, WE ARE THE POWER - if we dare to use it and focus it, as Dr. King did. We can amend the Federal and State Constitutions, we can shape our nation, change fate. That's exactly what we did in the 60's and 70's. It's exactly what Dr. King inspired us to do - with Audacious Hope. We can do it again.

    It was the 60's Peace movement, the Civil Rights movement, the 70's environmentalist movement, the Women's Rights movement that inspired people like Samuel Alito. These are the "irresponsible kids" he's still railing against.

    We've already cedded too much ground. We have to fight back.

    Yes, they have a 20 plus year head-start. We thought we'd won when were able to convince Nixon - Nixon to implement the EPA. It was Nixon who first began to implement Affirmative Action. Ever since Reagan, they've been fighting back.

    Yesterday's battle shows that you can't try and wait until the Fourth Quarter to get in the game. We have to realize that the opposition is well entrenched, and yes - some of the opposition is us. We're gonna take some lumps people. We're gonna lose some fights - but every inch of ground we gain (like Swinging 20 Democratic Votes against Cloture in just a few days) is well worth it. We now have a core of 25 Senators with true backbone - that's a Foothold. All we have to do now is continue to work actively to expand that foothold, inch by inch, state by state.

    We certainly can not let the pain, suffering and effort of those who came before us go wasted and unprotected. We can't let Dr. King's dream slip away permenently. We can't forget JFK. We can't forget Bobby. We can't forget Malcolm. We have to honor them, honor them all.

    Are you with me? If so, give me an "Aye" in the comments. Enough to make the heavens shake from an Audicious Hope, forged from our pain and frustration of the last two days - the last 20 years - into a better and brighter tomorrow.

    Are you with me?

    Monday, January 30

    The War Isn't Over

    Today we accomplished something incredible. The Netroots, a lose coalition including the Young Turks, Air America, Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz, Raw Story, DKos, Democratic Underground, Huffpost and Firedoglake managed to swing 20 or so votes in the Senate from sitting on the sidelines to supporting a Filibuster of Judge Samuel Alito. We did it with blood, sweat, tears and passion. The worst thing we can do is let that passion go to waste in frustration and despair.

    This was merely a test of our potential. Most of these sites and resources barely existed a year ago, none of them were hear two years ago. From nothing - we shifted 1/5 of the Senate.

    That is HUGE!

    I was impressed by what we accomplished, and was proud to be a part of it.

    The last thing we can do is stop now. We should consider this is excellent dry run. There will be many other issues that need to be addressed in the future, the full investigation of Katrina and it's aftermath, accountability for $Billions that have been wasted lost and squandered in Iraq, the elusive Phase II inquiry, what really happened in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, the Secret Detention Centers and of course, the NSA Domestic Spying program.

    Most importantly, our "leaders" came to us for help. Both John Kerry and Ted Kennedy recognized our potential -- we need to remember how pivotal that shift from beltway insider wisedom to Netroots empowerment really is.

    Tonight and Tomorrow, we need to keep up the calls, faxes and emails. Tell every Democratic Senator who supported the filibuster that we appreacate them, tell Dems who didn't to watch their backs because now, were watching them - and hammer each and every Moderate Republican (Snowe, Voinovich, Hagel) with the *FACT* that Alito and his support of the Unitary Executive is so great a danger to the delicate balance of power in our Republic, that we just might tumble into neo-facism.

    We've just barely begun to let ourselves be heard. We have just begun to build phone, email and fax contacts lists. Just begun to assemble boiler-plate counter spin talking points. The right wing has had 20 years head start and practice at this, but we can catch up. We can beat them.

    Just watch us.


    By 72 - 25 Freedom slips a little further away

    The Alito Cloture Vote (72 -25) has now completed clearing the way for the full Confirmation Vote Tomorrow at 11am. I will agree that I'm disappointed, but also energized. In just a few days the efforst of the Netroots came together an managed to flip a Majority of the Democrats (As I predicted). Not enough to block Alito, but enough to show the true colors of our Senatorial representatives.
    A bloc of Democrats, led by Massachusetts Sens. Edward Kennedy and
    John Kerry, unsuccessfully tried over the weekend and Monday to persuade other senators to use a vote-delaying filibuster to stop Alito, a 15-year veteran of the U.S. Appeals Court and a former lawyer for the Reagan administration.

    "It is the only way we can stop a confirmation that we feel certain will cause irreversible damage to our country," said Kerry, the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee.

    If confirmed, Alito would replace O'Connor, who has been a swing vote on abortion rights, affirmative action, the death penalty and other issues.

    19 Democrats refused to show some backbone. As soon as I have the info I plan to put up a set of Wanted Posters for their Spines. If they can't stand up against a nominee like this, who represents a major threat to the balance of power in our government - what will they stand up for?

    As I've said, this was a critical vote - and although it wasn't won the war isn't over. This showed that the Netroots had the power to significantly shift the end result of a vote. Two days ago the cloture results would have been more like 95-5. We have to make sure that those who with us, Kerry, Kennedy, Biden, Clinton and others know that we appreciate their courage. Hats off to them for showing that there is still a Democratic Wing within the Democratic Party.

    Here's what Kerry had to say.
    “This was a fight over principle. Trying everything in our power to stop an ideological coup on the Supreme Court was the right thing to do. Everything in Judge Alito’s record shows that he will actively work to erode civil rights, discrimination and privacy protections. The time to fight was now, before the irreversible decision of confirming a new Supreme Court Justice was written in stone.

    “We knew we faced steep odds, but we also knew that once Judge Alito becomes Justice Alito, there’s no turning back the Senate confirmation vote. It wouldn’t matter if we spoke up after the Supreme Court has granted the executive the right to use torture, or to eavesdrop without warrants. It wouldn’t matter if we spoke up only after a woman’s right to privacy was taken away and only after the courthouse door was slammed in the faces of women, minorities, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. This was a debate worth having, and a debate we had no choice but to have today.”
    And to the others -

    Akaka, Daniel K.- (D - HI)

    (202) 224-6361 Fax: (202) 224-2126

    Baucus, Max- (D - MT)

    (202) 224-2651 Fax: (202) 224-0515
    Web Form:

    Bingaman, Jeff- (D - NM)

    (202) 224-5521 Fax: (202) 224-2852

    Byrd, Robert C.- (D - WV)

    (202) 224-3954 Fax: (202) 228-0002
    Web Form:

    Cantwell, Maria- (D - WA)

    (202) 224-3441 Fax: (202) 228-0514
    Web Form:

    Carper, Thomas R.- (D - DE)

    (202) 224-2441 Fax: (202) 228-2190
    Web Form:

    Dorgan, Byron L.- (D - ND)

    (202) 224-2551 Fax: (202) 224-1193

    Inouye, Daniel K.- (D - HI)

    (202) 224-3934 Fax: (202) 224-6747
    Web Form:

    Johnson, Tim- (D - SD)

    (202) 224-5842 Fax: (202) 228-5765
    Web Form:

    Kohl, Herb- (D - WI)

    (202) 224-5653 Fax: (202) 224-9787
    Web Form:

    Landrieu, Mary L.- (D - LA)

    (202) 224-5824 Fax: (202) 224-9735
    Web Form:

    Lieberman, Joseph I.- (D - CT)

    (202) 224-4041 Fax: (202) 224-9750
    Web Form:

    Lincoln, Blanche L.- (D - AR)

    (202) 224-4843 Fax: (202) 228-1371
    Web Form:

    Nelson, E. Benjamin- (D - NE)

    (202) 224-6551 Fax: (202) 228-0012
    Web Form:

    Pryor, Mark L.- (D - AR)

    (202) 224-2353 Fax: (202) 228-0908
    Web Form:

    Rockefeller, John D., IV- (D - WV)

    (202) 224-6472 Fax: (202) 224-7665
    Web Form:

    Salazar, Ken- (D - CO)

    (202) 224-5852 Fax: (202) 228-5036
    Web Form:

    We have top make sure they know their days as our representatives are clearly numbered, particular the ones in bold as they are all up for election in Nov of 2006. Let them know that you will support any credible primary challenger to their re-election. But that's not enough, we need to pick up some seats.

    Particularly Byrd, Johnson and Nelson - who've all stated they plan to vote "Yes" for Alito's confirmation - need to feel the heat.

    Kos has the game plan...
    We need more Dems, and we need more good Dems. Tester's headline on his campaign website states that he'd vote "no" on Alito. Let's replace Conrad Burns (R-MT) with him. In Vermont, Bernie Sanders would be an easy "no" and a much more reliable progressive vote than Jeffords (I) ever was. Both Matt Brown and Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhode Island would be reliable "no" votes, and much more likely to filibuster than Lincoln Chafee (R).

    In Ohio, both (Iraq War Veteran) Paul Hackett and Sherrod Brown would be guaranteed votes against Alito [Compared to Mark Dwine(R)]. While Missouri's Claire McCaskill said she wouldn't filibuster Alito, she would vote against him [vs James Talent (R)]

    With these top-tier pickup opportunities alone (not including PA, where Bob Casey is suddenly running to the Right of Attila the Hun, and TN, where Harold Ford might not always vote with us), Dems would suddenly be at 49. And that's what we call a "margin of error". Able to lose 9 senators and still uphold a filibuster, we could protect our Red state Dems and still hold the line against reactionary ideologues like Alito.

    And, we work our asses off, we can put states like Arizona (Jim Pederson vs John Kyl) and Nevada (Jack Carter and John Ensign(R)) in play.

    That would be a majority people, this issue just how valuable a thing that is to have.


    Raw Story: Filibuster Ranks now in 30s

    Recent reports are that Sen Mark Dayton will support the filibuster, Sen Mark Pryor (R) will abstain, and the Sen Ensign (R) has been in a car accident and will be unable to vote. Raw Story now reports that Sen Lincoln Chaffee (R) now opposes Alito and the whip-count for a Filibuster is rapidly approaching the magic number 41.
    Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R-RI) announced this morning in Providence that he will vote against the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court.

    In a statement this morning, the Rhode Island senator said he was "greatly concerned" about some of Alito's philosophies, according to the Providence Journal. Chafee is the first Republican to announce a vote against Alito.

    The Journal did not say whether the senator would back a filibuster. Liberal Democrats Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) are mounting an eleventh-hour bid to block the nominee.

    The current unofficial count has reportedly "broken 30". Only a few more to go.


    Key Senate Targets for Filibuster

    Time is running out, but the battles isn't over yet. According to John Kerry's Office the following are key Senators to contact in support of the Alito Filibuster.

    Robert Byrd (WV)
    (202) 224-3954
    Web Form:
    FAX: (202) 228-0002

    Mary Landrieu (LA)
    (202) 224-5824
    Web Form:
    FAX: (202) 224-9735

    K. Salazar (CO)
    (202) 224-5852
    Web Form:
    FAX: (202) 228-5036

    Johnson, Tim- (D - SD) Class II
    (202) 224-5842
    Web Form:

    Also, worth a shot:

    Susan Collins (ME)
    461 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
    Phone: (202) 224-2523
    FAX: (202) 224-2693

    Olympia Snowe (ME)
    154 Russell Senate Office Bldg., Washington DC 20510
    Phone: (202) 224-1946
    FAX: (202) 224-1946
    CNN has reported that the Gang-of-14 is planning to meet this afternoon, but it's unclear if there meeting will be in opposition to the Alito Filibuster or use of the Nuclear Option.

    Today a NYTimes article by David D. Kirkpatrick points out how the Federalist Society has been planning to take over control of the Supreme Court for the last 25 years - and Alito confirmation is the crowning achievement toward that goal.

    Stay Tuned.


    Sunday, January 29

    Young Turks perform TV Filibuster

    The (broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio) have been broadcasting a mock Filibuster of their own for the past 76 hours in support of the efforts to block Samuel Alit.


    Must have the latest Windows Media Player

    (Version 10) (Version 9) (Mac Users)

    You can also live-chat with the Hosts on the Thom Hartmann Page.

    The Palace Revolt at DOJ

    Newsweek has the Scoop on the Palace Revolt at the DOJ - Dedicated, Career Justice Attorney's who've been speaking out about the excesses of the Bush Administration.

    Feb. 6, 2006 issue - James Comey, a lanky, 6-foot-8 former prosecutor who looks a little like Jimmy Stewart, resigned as deputy attorney general in the summer of 2005. The press and public hardly noticed. Comey's farewell speech, delivered in the Great Hall of the Justice Department, contained all the predictable, if heartfelt, appreciations. But mixed in among the platitudes was an unusual passage. Comey thanked "people who came to my office, or my home, or called my cell phone late at night, to quietly tell me when I was about to make a mistake; they were the people committed to getting it right—and to doing the right thing—whatever the price. These people," said Comey, "know who they are. Some of them did pay a price for their commitment to right, but they wouldn't have it any other way."

    One of those people—a former assistant attorney general named Jack Goldsmith—was absent from the festivities and did not, for many months, hear Comey's grateful praise. In the summer of 2004, Goldsmith, 43, had left his post in George W. Bush's Washington to become a professor at Harvard Law School. Stocky, rumpled, genial, though possessing an enormous intellect, Goldsmith is known for his lack of pretense; he rarely talks about his time in government. In liberal Cambridge, Mass., he was at first snubbed in the community and mocked as an atrocity-abetting war criminal by his more knee-jerk colleagues. ICY WELCOME FOR NEW LAW PROF, headlined The Harvard Crimson.

    They had no idea. Goldsmith was actually the opposite of what his detractors imagined. For nine months, from October 2003 to June 2004, he had been the central figure in a secret but intense rebellion of a small coterie of Bush administration lawyers. Their insurrection, described to NEWSWEEK by current and former administration officials who did not wish to be identified discussing confidential deliberations, is one of the most significant and intriguing untold stories of the war on terror.

    These Justice Department lawyers, backed by their intrepid boss Comey, had stood up to the hard-liners, centered in the office of the vice president, who wanted to give the president virtually unlimited powers in the war on terror. Demanding that the White House stop using what they saw as farfetched rationales for riding rough-shod over the law and the Constitution, Goldsmith and the others fought to bring government spying and interrogation methods within the law. They did so at their peril; ostracized, some were denied promotions, while others left for more comfortable climes in private law firms and academia. Some went so far as to line up private lawyers in 2004, anticipating that the president's eavesdropping program would draw scrutiny from Congress, if not prosecutors. These government attorneys did not always succeed, but their efforts went a long way toward vindicating the principle of a nation of laws and not men.


    NSA Talking Points from Wingnutsville

    It's only been a few days since the President started his pro-Domestic Spying promotional campaign and already the talking points are swirling about the web in support of the program. The basic argument -- It's Always Been This Way.

    I stumbled onto this via a blog called Obviously Right and a post called Leftist Ignorance Strikes Again!, prompted quite bizarrely by statements made on Fox News Watch in support of the today's New York Times Editoral on the NSA and Bush Administration Lies.
    During the Revolutionary War, Ben Franklin, under orders from General Washington, monitored every piece of mail from the colonies. Every piece.
    Ok, it's it beyond obvious that the revolutionary war took place before the Constitution even existed and that the arguement that the President now has powers based on what happened then makes little sense when there was no such thing as an American President at the time? You might as well make an arguement based on spying commited by Napoleon, it would be just about as relevant.
    In the Civil War, President Lincoln wiretapped telegraph communications, imprisoned a U.S. Congressman without bail or trial, closed hundreds of anti-War newspapers and summarily executed- without trial- hundreds of Confederate spies.
    To go step further, President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. The problem which was well pointed out by Josh Marshall is that the Article I exception which allows for temporary suspension is a power which is granted to the Congress, not the President. And further, this Presidential suspension was eventually found to be illegal and unconstitutional.

    Justice Taney concluded:
    The clause of the constitution, which authorizes the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, is in the 9th section of the first article. This article is devoted to the legislative department of the United States, and has not the slightest reference to the executive department.
    So yes, President Lincoln did attempt to utilize broad executive powers, but that doesn't mean that his attempts were in fact, lawful. They weren't.
    In WWI, President Wilson had all cable communications with Europe intercepted.

    In WWII, FDR spied on every single bit of electronic communications from the U.S. to other countries Every one.
    FDR apparently did far more than that.
    As political scientist Allen Weinstein pointed out in a refreshing article in the Washington Post, the recently discovered fact that Roosevelt secretly bugged the Oval Office and discussed with aides the possibility of using "dirty tricks" on Wendell Willkie in the 1940 campaign should be seen in a wider context: the use of secret agents and wiretapping to keep track of and harass his political opponents. Roosevelt, for instance, had a wiretap as well as an informer planted in the offices of the great anti-interventionist paper, the Washington Times-Herald. Other critics of Roosevelt’s war policy were similarly bugged; and J. Edgar Hoover was given instructions to monitor the affair going on between young John F. Kennedy and Inga Arvad, a young reporter on the Times-Herald. In short, many of the excesses we associate with the subsequent baddies in the Oval Office have their real origin in the "great" FDR.
    These events may have occured as asserted by AG Gonzales, but that doesn't neccesarily mean that they were legal or would have reasonably withstood a challenge in court. (The rampant and clearly politically motivated surveillance projects by Hoover was a key impetous to the creation of the FISA law) By keeping these program secret, these Administrations were able to avoid such a challenge - which is precisely why the use of this kind of power under the cloak of secrecy is so dangerous.

    Subsequent to these events President Truman attempted to exert similar power during the Korean War and seize control of the nations steel mills in order to prevent a shortage of vital materials. His action was found completely unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the 1952 Youngstown v Sawyer decision. Logic dictates that this results of this decision supercede the Constitutionality of the secret actions of prior Administrations.
    President Clinton broke into people's houses without a warrant, to investigate a spy ring.
    This has already been heavily discussed, but the point is that the 1978 FISA law did not cover physical searches at the time and following this event the Clinton Administration took steps to change to change the law so that these searches would be included within FISA. At any rate, electronic and telephonic searches - which is the subject at hand - are absolute included within FISA and that law is current the exclusive controlling authority on the issue.

    The Bush Administration can make claims that this President or that President has previous done the same thing (some have and some haven't) -- but so far, they haven't shown that any of them have been able to succesfully survive a true Constitutional Challenge on the issue. Trying to use one illegal act by one President to justify another illegal by another President simply doesn't fly.

    Lastly in the most recent test of Article II powers, President Bush was defeated on the issue of whether those powers could be executed without Judicial Review in Hamdi v Rumsfeld. The Supremes found in Hamdi that.

    We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation ’s citizens. Youngstown Sheet &Tube ,343 U.S.,at 587. Whatever power the United States Constitution envisions for the Executive in its exchanges with other nations or with enemy organizations in times of conflict,it most assuredly envisions a role for all three branches when individual liberties are at stake. Mistretta v.United States, 488 U.S.361,380 (1989)(it was “the central judgment of the Framers of the Constitution that,within our political scheme,the separation of governmental powers into three coordinate Branches is essential to the preservation of liberty ”);Home Building &Loan Assn.v.Blaisdell,290 U.S.398,426 (1934)(The war power “is a power to wage war successfully,and thus it permits the harnessing of the entire energies of the people in a supreme cooperative effort to preserve the nation.But even the war power does not remove constitutional limitations safeguarding essential liberties ”).Likewise,we have made clear that,unless Congress acts to suspend it,the Great Writ of habeas corpus allows the Judicial Branch to play a necessary role in maintaining this delicate balance of governance,serving as an important judicial check on the Executive ’s discretion in the realm of detentions.

    Transferring the rules established by Hamdi to the NSA situation would clearly indicate that probable cause, judicial review. and a warrant are still required before subjecting American citizens to the same treatment as foreign terrorist targets.

    Sorry guys, you lose this round.


    Hopeless Causes and other Windmills of Conviction

    We stand at a crossroads. A pivotal moment in history where we will either see the true beginnings of an strong and committed opposition party - or continued aquiencense to the Boy King George.

    Both the State of the Union and the critical vote either confirming or filibustering Judge Sam Alito to the Supreme Court will take place in two days. It's clear that Bush will continue to play the "Fear the Osama" card and argue that he is "protecting Americans" from losing their life and liberties, by taking away their liberties. What is less clear is whether he will attempt to put forward yet another bold far-reaching policy objective like say -- Reforming Social Security, or possibly confronting those "Evildoers" in Iran who continue to persue Nuclear (power) ambitions.

    Many moderate Democrats and pundits have argued that a filibuster of Alito is "Pointless and doomed to fail". But maybe the point is that worthy battles need to be fought, simply because the battle itself is worthy.

    Today on Meet the Press (Video from Crooks and Liars), in the midst of stammering and dodging his way through questions about Iraq, his support of the Domestic Spying Program despite it's clear illegality, his flat-out-wrong arm-chair diagnosis of Terry Schiavo, and allegations of insider stock trading Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist claimed that Democrats "don't have very much in the way of Principles and Ideas - they want to raise your taxes".

    Well, no actually - they want to reverse the Bush tax cuts for the top %1 of earners. That change alone would pay for the War, properly armor and protect our troops, as well as properly fund the rebuilding of Katrini and restore $28 billion that's been cut to Student Aid - but it wouldn't would raise your taxes, or my taxes, it would raise Bill Frist's (and his family which happens to own one of the largest chains of for-profit Hospitals in the nations) taxes.

    Democrats certainly do have principles, convictions and ideas.
    Apparently the Republicans who control both Congress and the Whitehouse think there's nothing wrong with any of the above. That this is an acceptable way to run a country. We don't.

    On Tuesday a majority of Senate Democrats are going to stand up for their principles, ideas and convictions by asking for a filibuster of Sam Alito. At this point in time we don't know whether that filibuster will be succesful or not, we don't know if it will trigger the pulling of the "nuclear trigger" or not -- but we will certainly know what it means to be called...

    A Democrat.

    Sometimes what you truly believe in becomes clear - what truly defines you - is what you're willing to stand up and oppose. Especially when all the odds are against you, because that is the very definition of "Principle", is it not? I think standing up against this type of malfeasance, incompetent and blatant power-whore facism - is what it mean to be, an American.

    You never know, there might still be a few Republican and/or Conservatives who remember what that used to be like...