Friday, April 6

O'Reilly V Geraldo : Proof of the Unbalanced?

The O'Reilly Geraldo dustup via Oliver Willis:

In the entire, dark, black history of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, this is probably the craziest clip ever. A young girl was tragically killed by a drunk driver. But this was not enough for O'Reilly. Instead, because the criminal was an illegal alien he added this incident to his ongoing crusade against the brown people. Luckily Geraldo was on the show and he - to his credit - called out O'Reilly's xenophobia for exactly what it was. This drove Bill O'Reilly insane. I was almost certain he was going to reach across the table and hit Geraldo.


This video on YouTube

This is the leading face of cable news, right wing media, of the conservative voice in the media, and he's a freaking psycho. The kicker, O'Reilly concludes his tirade by saying "this is reason". Well, I guess that's what passes for it in today's MSM.

Geraldo managed to get in some good lines during the middle of O'Reilly's flip out. Such as...

Geraldo: Don't obscure a tragedy to make a cheap political point.

Geraldo also pointed out that the drivers previous arrests and convictions were non-violent (being drunk in public twice, and one victimless DUI - in Chesapeake - and there was no evidence of "Moral Turpitude" in any of these cases, hence Ramos was not targeted for deportation) - he was able to make these statements with authority because he - unlike O'Reilly - is a lawyer and sometimes actually knows what he's talking about.

Also...

Geraldo: Illegal Immigrants commit crimes at a lower percentage than the general population

O'Relly's worst moment was when he completely jumped the shark in response to Geraldo pointing out that their were over 340 drunk driving deaths in that state - yet none of this was shown on the Factor, and that this was actually about Drunk Driving, not Illegal Immigration - by responding with the straw man argument...

Billo: You want Anarchy!! You want Anarchy with Open Borders!

What Geraldo didn't ask is the real $60,000 question, and it's not why people are coming to America, it's why they are not being allowed a legal path into the country when they are overwhelmingly able to find work when they arrive?

The answer of course is that by forcing these people to use illegal means to gain entry, they can easily replenish the underground economy of wage-slaves. The flaws and failures of our legal immigration system are about keeping prices down to rock bottom. If employers were required to provide at least minimum wage pay for all their workers, and to legally sponsor any foreign workforce additions with visas this "problem" would dwindle down to almost nothing.

Oh, there would still be immigrants entering from the south (as well as Europe and Asia) - but they would mostly be Legal and documented. A fence doesn't change that, nor would placing troops on the border as O'Reilly would like (despite the Posse Commitatas issues that would create.)

I usually DVR O'Reilly and actually watched this all the way through after being tipped off about the fight on Dkos, and the truly strange thing was that after both of them calmed down - they attempted to spin their spat into proof that Fux News is truly "Fair and Balanced" because it allows for both of them to have differing viewpoints.

But all it really allowed for was a cock fight, where O'Reilly attempted to shout his opponent do down, but Geraldo stood up to him. O'Reilly couldn't cut off his mic as he's recently done to his own radio co-host Liz Weihl, when she correctly pointed that he was mistaken about the White House offering for Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to testify "under oath" and with a 29-year army veteran and Geneva Conventions Instructor. What we se in that clip is what happens when you challenge a Bully and hold your ground (and he knows - You've got your own show to counter-trash him if you wanted!)

Crach Victims
and Driver
But the truth is that Geraldo is wrong too, this little spectacle isn't really about either Drunk Driving or Illegal Immigration, it's just another playing of the "Cute White Female Victim" Card. It's Anna Nicole Smith mania in teen form with a touch of Terri Schiavo, Lacy Peterson, Chandra Levy and Natalee Holloway - times two!

And then you add the foreign, slightly mean looking perpetrator into the mix and you've got Television GOLD! Cable TV will cover this story literally to death - including both Geraldo and O'Reilly even if they do put slightly different "balanced" spins on it. (Near Right and Far-Out Wacko Right!!)

Eugene Williams has written about this syndrom for the Washington Post.

Every few weeks, this stressed-out nation with more problems to worry about than hours in the day finds time to become obsessed with the saga -- it's always a "saga," never just a story -- of a damsel in distress. Natalee Holloway, the student who disappeared while on a class trip to the Caribbean island of Aruba, is the latest in what seems an endless series.


Schiavo

Holloway

Lynch
...The specifics of the story line vary from damsel to damsel. In some cases, the saga begins with the discovery of a corpse. In other cases, the damsel simply vanishes into thin air. Often, there is a suspect from the beginning -- an intruder, a husband, a father, a congressman, a stranger glimpsed lurking nearby.

Sometimes the tale ends well, or well enough, as in the cases of Smart and Lynch. Let's hope it ends well for Holloway. But more often, it ends badly. Once in a great while, a case like Runaway Bride comes along to provide comic relief. But of course the damsels have much in common besides being female. You probably have some idea of where I'm headed here.

A damsel must be white. This requirement is nonnegotiable. It helps if her frame is of dimensions that breathless cable television reporters can credibly describe as "petite," and it also helps if she's the kind of woman who wouldn't really mind being called "petite," a woman with a good deal of princess in her personality. She must be attractive -- also nonnegotiable. Her economic status should be middle class or higher, but an exception can be made in the case of wartime (see: [Jessica] Lynch).

Put all this together, and you get 24-7 coverage...

It's so bad, that it's even gotten under the considerably thick skin of Michelle Malkin.

Whatever the reasons these missing pretty white girl cases get flogged, I find the whole Missing Pretty Girl Sndrome disturbing (and that's coming from someone who works for FNC). I think we should be paying a hell of a lot more attention to Lodi and Tampa and Denver than Aruba.

The cause of this phenomenon could be racial, it could be sexism (why aren't missing boys hightlighted as often?) and it could even be simply about "attractiveness" - Conformity to the thin white-girl paradigm - or even all the above. The Web and Newspapers are overrun with stories about 5'2", 100lbs blonde Jessica Lynch - but does anyone even remember that she wasn't alone when she was captured and wounded in the early days of the Iraq War? There were four men and another woman - Spc Shoshana Johnson- who were our first P.O.W.s of the 21st Century.

Jessica was on the cover of Newsweek, People, Parade and Time (not to mention articles in Good Housekeeping, Vanity Fair and Glamour as "Woman of the Year") - her story turned into a movie of the week, but what attention did Shoshanna and the others get? Not much.

Ok, how about this - it appears that the drunk driver who killed director Bob Clark ("A Christmas Story") and his 22-year-old son this week was also an illegal immigrant!

(AP) LOS ANGELES Federal authorities have placed an immigration hold on a 24-year-old Mexican national arrested on suspicion of driving drunk and causing the crash that killed film director Bob Clark and his son.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice says a hold was placed Wednesday on Hector Velazquez-Nava, an illegal immigrant living in Los Angeles.

Velazquez-Nava was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence of alcohol and gross vehicular manslaughter.

Stange that I don't see Bob Clark's picture plastered all over Cable news and I don't see either Geraldo or O'Reilly pounding the table and ready to force the mayor of Pacific Palisades out of officer over his or his sons death now do you?

Coincidence? I think not.

To their credit the Virginia Beach parents have asked for the arguing to stop:

Tessa Tranchant and Allison Kuhnhardt's parents want the arguing to stop. They said this national debate over illegal immigration is out of hand and they desperately want this time to grieve.

And they are absolutely correct, we should allow for family and friends to grieve with respect, we should also allow law enforcement to attempt to do their jobs as best they can without creating a show trial (Jazz Hands Everybody!)

But the chance that the blood thirsty and posturing media will take a step back and show all those involved an equal measure of respect is somewhere between slim and nil.

Not when there's still ratings gold out there in them hills with victims this "young, pretty and sympathetic"...

Someone is probably already working on the 2nd draft for the next movie of week - the "the Virginia Beach Story."

Vyan

Thursday, April 5

The Brutality of Rudy Giuliani

Today former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is often painted as "America's Mayor" after his decisive response to the attacks on September 11, 2001.

What is often forgotten and ignored is the well worn streak of brutality and totalitarianism that runs like a river through both his public and private actions. Let us look back to before the 9/11, to 1999 and Giuliani's dramatic reforming of the NYPD for both the better and the worst.

From Human Rights Watch.

New York is enjoying a dramatic drop in violent crime, with some attributing it to the police department's emphasis on more minor, "quality of life," crimes, such as graffiti, squeegee windshield washing, and subway turnstile-jumping, pursued as a way to demonstrate control of the streets and to apprehend individuals who may have outstanding arrest warrants against them.

...

Police abuse experts have wondered why, if the police leadership is eager to stop crime by aggressively pursuing minor criminals and crimes, it is failing to demonstrate the same aggressiveness in dealing with officers before they commit more serious offenses.


In 1997 the Giuliani dichotomy of being tough on civilians who commit minor offense and light on police who abuse their authority gradually began to be exposed and led to several tragic incidents.

First there was the wrongful arrest, torture and sexual abuse of Abner Louima by NYPD officers who mistakenly thought he had insulted one of them outside of a night club.

A federal court jury in Brooklyn convicted three New York City cops March 6 of conspiring to cover up the 1997 station house torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.

Thomas Weise and Thomas Bruder each face five years in prison on the charge of conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation into the savage assault on Louima. The third cop, Charles Schwarz, was convicted in a previous trial as an accomplice with Justin Volpe in torturing the immigrant worker inside the bathroom of the 70th Precinct in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.

Volpe, convicted of sodomizing Louima with a broken piece of a broomstick, tearing a one-inch hole in his rectum and bladder, was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Schwarz, who was found guilty of holding Louima down during the attack, faces up to a life sentence.

The three cops greeted the verdict with disbelief and rage. "They're f—-ing liars; this is f—-ing bullshit," exclaimed Schwarz, who turned his wrath on his lawyer. As he was taken back into custody he slammed the wall and shouted out other obscenities.

Let me point out again that Louima wasn't even the guy they were looking for in the first place! This kind of brutality doesn't just happen, there has to be a permissive attitude in play at the department in order for anyone - let alone several officers - to believe that kidnapping and assaulting someone this way, not to mention intimidating witness and the victim to "keep quiet" could possibly work.

And how did Rudy react at the time? (From Human Rights Watch)

In August 1997, after the alleged torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima by police officers made national headlines and outraged city residents, the anti-crime record of the mayor and police department was tarnished. In uncharacteristic fashion, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir condemned the officers implicated in the incident as well as those who reportedly did nothing to stop it or report it.2 These were welcome condemnations, but conflicted with the mayor's persistent and seemingly automatic defense of officers accused of abusive treatment - even when he lacked a factual basis to do so - in his first term.

So did Rudy then take decisive steps to correct the problem? Not really.

Even when the mayor himself asked a task force to review police-community issues following the alleged beating and torture of Abner Louima, he immediately criticized the task force's majority report: "Some of the things [recommended] we've already done. Some of the things I've opposed in the past, I'll continue to oppose them. And some of the things are unrealistic and make very little sense."

Two years after Louima, another high profile police misconduct case landed on Rudy's lap - the murder of Amadou Diallo.

In February 1999, four New York City policemen searching for a rape suspect knocked on Amadou Diallo's door to question him. When he came to the door he reached inside his jacket, at which point the officers shot at him 41 times, hitting him with 19 bullets. The object Diallo was reaching for turned out to be his wallet.

Many New Yorkers were incensed and began to raise cries of W.W.B. - "Walking While Black!"

In New York City under Rudy Giuliani, we have seen the terrible resurgence of officially condoned police racism. Not long ago, a black cast member of a Broadway play was arrested and held overnight, missing his performance. Like Diallo, his only "crime" was that of being a black man in his own building at a time when it came under police attention. Ask any young black man in New York City, neatly dressed teenager or even a computer consultant wearing a suit, how many times he has been stopped and harassed by the police.

...

Giuliani's first Mayoral campaign began in a police riot, which no-one today remembers. The cops were demonstrating in front of City Hall, then inhabited by a black mayor, David Dinkins. Giuliani stood on the steps and delivered a speech so incendiary that the cops, many of them already drunk, began beating journalists and blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. It is heavily ironic that Giuliani no longer permits demonstrations on the steps of City Hall.

After Diallo, there was also the case of shooting of Patrick Dorismond:

On March 16, 2000, an undercover New York City narcotics officer approached Haitian-American Patrick Dorismond to solicit marijuana. Dorismond reportedly grew upset at officer's request, and scuffled with Detective Anthony Vasquez, who fatally shot Dorismond. Dorismond was later found to not have any drugs or weapons on him.

As he had done before, Giuliani blamed the victim.

Before Patrick Dorismond's body was cold, the Giuliani administration launched an obscene campaign to vilify the dead security guard and all but portray him as someone who had a police bullet coming to him. Having little to work with, Giuliani ordered Police Commissioner Safir to unseal a juvenile record on the man, disclosing that he had been arrested for robbery and assault in 1987, when he was 13.

The charge, reportedly stemming from a childhood fist fight over a quarter, was dropped and his record sealed because he was a child. But Giuliani's legal advisers took the position that once he was dead, Dorismond's right not to have police records from his childhood publicized by the mayor died with him. It allowed Giuliani to declare that Dorismond was no "altar boy" and that his previous brush with the police "may justify, more closely, what the police officer did."

As for the cop who shot the security guard, Giuliani praised him for his "distinguished" career as an undercover officer, declaring that in going out and shooting an innocent, unarmed man to death in the street he "put his life on the line in the middle of the night to protect the safety and security of this city."

But then 9/11 happened washed all this away from our collective memories, remaking Rudy into a brand new golden boy for the G.O.P.

He became a key speaker at the G.O.P's 2004 Presidential Convention even while NYPD officers continued their suppression tactics and even engaged in political espionage. Milking the situation for every ounce of juice Rudy wrote to the Republican faithful in an RNC mass-mailing on the eve of the 2004 elections repeating what he'd stated on the Convention floor.

On September 11, our nation faced the worst attack in our history.

On that day, we had to confront reality. Our people were brave in their response.

At the time, we believed we would be attacked many more times that day and in the days that followed. Spontaneously, I grabbed the arm of then Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and said to Bernie, "Thank God George Bush is our President." I've been saying that every day since.

We needed George Bush then; we need him now; and we need him for four more years!

That conversation has since been shown to have been a complete fabrication, while Bernard Kerik who Giuliani had been pushing as the new head of Homeland Security has since been unceremoniously tossed off the bus in the wake of ethics issues and alleged ties to organized crime.

Skip forward to the here and now.

I have recounted all the above in such detail in order to provide context for what may be some of the most chilling aspects of Rudy Giuliani radical authoritarianism to be yet revealed : His belief in absolute Presidential Authority.

From Glenn Greenwald.

Rudy was asked about the Iraq supplemental. He said he finds it "irresponsible and dangerous." Then he began to muse about, after a veto, "would the president have the constitutional authority to support them [the troops], anyway?" He said he's a lawyer so he wouldn't offer an opinion "off the top of his head," then he proceeded to do just that.

He seemed to suggest that Bush could fund the Iraq war without Congress providing funding, but it was confusing. In an interview with a New Hampshire TV reporter after his remarks, he seemed more categorical and said, since the war had been authorized by Congress, the president has "the inherent authority to support the troops." But he added, "You have to ask a constitutional lawyer."



Glenn Greenwald is a Constitutional Lawyer, and he's not down with this.

Not only does Rudy believe that the President has some magic ability to fund a War on his own (ala Iran/Contra) but he also believes that the President has the authority to imprison American Citizens without charges, justification or review.

This view flies totally in the fact of Hamdi v Rumsfeld which clearly called for Judicial Review in such cases:

It would turn our system of checks and balances on its head to suggest that a citizen could not make his way to court with a challenge to the factual basis for his detention by his government, simply because the Executive opposes making available such a challenge. Absent suspension of the writ by Congress, a citizen detained as an enemy combatant is entitled to this process.

Following Hamdi the 109th Congress via the MCA effectively suspended the writ for foreign combatants - but it did not suspended for U.S. Citizens and the President certainly does not have that power independent of Congressional authority.

Giuliani may simply be confused on this point - but I doubt it since also think the President has the inherent power to defy the will of Congress.

In fact, it may well be this very long and clearly defined authoritarian streak of Giuliani's that is making him the darling of the Neo-Con Sect, causing them to brush aside his pro-abortion, pro-gay stances even among the deepest, darkest hearted of the red-staters. Especially among them.

For you see, they love nothing so much as a whip-cracking, brutal authoritarian in those parts. Just listen to what Katie O'Beirn and Rich Lowry have said about how Giuliani "women issues" have actually helped him. Lowry via Greenwald...

Have been talking to some smart people today about Giuliani. Two of them said independently that the appeal of Giuliani is he'd be "a tough SOB -- for you," and that he'd be "a d*head -- for you." Another said . . . that a Giuliani supporter he knows considers the nasty divorce a kind of asset because it speaks to his toughness. . . .

I think it's clear he'd be a "tough dickhead son of a bitch" for somebody - but there's no guarantee that it's going to you.

Greenwald on O'Beirn:

O'Beirne passed along an email from a friend which stated: "Contrary to popular speculation, the apparently brutal public dumping of Donna Hanover can only bolster the popularity of the man with conservatives." O'Beirne also suggested that an old Giuliani campaign ad showcasing his lovely family could be revised to say: "Don't worry. I dumped them all because I am that tough guy."

The Past is Prologue.

If you look back, the signs are all there. With a Giuliani Presidency we can not expect to see an actual moderate Republicanism, we will not see "Compassionate Conservative" finally realized, instead we can expect to see an even more extreme version of the Unitary Executive Theory than we have from John Yoo, more corruption and cronyism (Kerik), and even more excuses and justifications of racial profiling (against Muslims, Blacks and probably Latinos), illegal detainment of suspects and possibly even torture than we've seen so far from President Bush.

And that's saying something.

Even back in 1998 in response to Louima and Diallo - some New Yorkers saw it all clearly. He is George Bush Redux.

The kind of mayor I want for my city would be deeply agitated by the killing of Amadou Diallo and would ask why he had such poorly trained, highly strung "heroes" patrolling in plainclothes. Giuliani, on television, merely seemed pained, as he always does. Undoubtedly he wishes it had not happened, but only because it is a nuisance to deal with and (had it gotten out of control,

Yes, exactly how George Bush looked pained by the aftermath of Katrina - not because he was sorry that it had happened to all those who lost their lives and homes, but that it had happened to deeply embarrass him.

More from 1999:

Rudy Giuliani is a dictator in waiting. He is self righteous, absolute, has no sense of humor, and will go to any lengths to punish his enemies. He is temperamentally completely unsuited to be senator [As he was vying at the time], as it is a job requiring negotiation, collegiality, and charm. I believe he is interested in the job for one reason only: as a stepping stone to the Presidency. If so, he would be the most dangerous president since Richard Nixon. In fact, I think he would be more dangerous: Nixon doubted himself and sometimes hesitated at the opportune moment; Giuliani feels no doubt and will not hesitate.

He feels no doubt and would not hesitate, as Bush continues to "feel no doubt" about his decision to attack, invade and occupy an unarmed Arab nation?

This "lack of doubt", his self-righteous and authoritarian nature is exactly why he continues to be the rights true darling, and why should he succeed in claiming the Republican nomination he should be opposed by all who abhor neo-con fascists at all costs.

Vyan

The Worst Thing about the Prosecutor Purge

is the likelyhood that current and future prosecutions will be tainted with the stench of partisanship either rightly or wrongly by defense attorneys.

In fact, it's already begun.

A lawyer for former Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes told a judge yesterday "there is no way" his client will plead guilty to charges stemming from the Randy "Duke" Cunningham bribery scandal.

The lawyer, Mark Geragos, also said he planned to seek dismissal of the case because he has reason to believe former U.S. Attorney Carol Lam may have leaked secret grand jury documents to the media.

Geragos contended that Lam wanted the indictments to happen before she was forced from office by the Bush administration.


Geragos, an alumni of defending Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson, is clearly making an argument that Lam was forced to break the rules (and the law) because of the unjustified prosecutor purge and politic in Washington intended to shield high-profile Republicans under investigation.

Lam was meeting resistance from bosses in the Justice Department, who had rejected drafts of indictments against Wilkes and former CIA official Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, saying they needed revisions.

Lam, Geragos theorized, wanted to force reluctant officials to go along with her plans by leaking details of the indictments before they were officially released.

"These indictments as to my client were returned hours before Ms. Lam was to exit. . . . If it did come back to Carol Lam, it would strike me as the most compelling reason for dismissal," Geragos told the court.

And exactly how does Geragos know that Lam was meeting resistance? The doco and email dumps that have been coming out for the last few weeks of Gonzo-Gate.

Geragos did not specify, either inside or outside of court, what caused him to believe that the Department of Justice had rejected drafts of the indictments. In court he referred to e-mails – unearthed as part of the congressional investigation of the controversial firings of Lam and seven other U.S. attorneys – that supposedly bolster his position. After court, he would not elaborate.

Whether this argument by Geragos is factual or simply yet another one of his famous dramatic ploys currently remains to be seen. Either way it sets a very ugly precedent for the ability of the remaining 93 Federal prosecutors - particularly the 8 replacements - to conduct their duties without suspicion of their motives and tactics.

Exactly how many legitimate cases will be put in jeopardy, and how many bogus ones will be pressed forward without cause - is anyones guess.

How exactly are impartial and fair justice to be implemented with the hobgoblins of paranoia and doubt reining unchecked through our court system?

Vyan

Tuesday, April 3

Dowd Defection only the first crack in the Dam?

Following the dramatic defection of Matthew Dowd from the Koolaid Kamp of closest Bush supporters which I diaried about yesterday, U.S. News and World Report has a story that this just might be the beginning of a far more extensive mass exodus of the Bush faithful among Congressional Republicans.
Dowd's defection is causing Republican insiders to wonder whether this is the start of a larger rebellion against Bush by his former supporters. GOP insiders say this could easily happen among GOP members of Congress on the most important issue of the day: Iraq. If Bush's current buildup of combat troops fails to demonstrate strong progress by late summer, it's very possible that Republicans in the Senate and House will give up on the war effort and join Democrats in voting for a timetable for withdrawal.

Is this just wishful thinking and what does it mean for Bush's Veto threats?

Dowd's rebuke of the President's Iraq policy was certainly harsh.
He criticized the president as failing to call the nation to a shared sense of sacrifice at a time of war, failing to reach across the political divide to build consensus and ignoring the will of the people on Iraq. He said he believed the president had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush still approached governing with a “my way or the highway” mentality reinforced by a shrinking circle of trusted aides.
These are claims that have been echoed by Paul O'Neill, Bush's first term Treasury Secretary and others as Ron Suskind reported back in 2004.
"Just in the past few months," [Bruce Bartlett ormer policy advisor for Ronald Reagan] said, "I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do."

...

The disdainful smirks and grimaces that many viewers were surprised to see in the first presidential debate are familiar expressions to those in the administration or in Congress who have simply asked the president to explain his positions. Since 9/11, those requests have grown scarce; Bush's intolerance of doubters has, if anything, increased, and few dare to question him now. A writ of infallibility - a premise beneath the powerful Bushian certainty that has, in many ways, moved mountains - is not just for public consumption: it has guided the inner life of the White House.

This tracks quite well with what has been stated by Dowd.
“I really like him, which is probably why I’m so disappointed in things,” he said. He added, “I think he’s become more, in my view, secluded and bubbled in.
Those who know Bush, I mean know Bush well have clearly seen his intractable side up close. Thus far, many of them have simply been engaging in an elaborate self-delusion about just how out of touch and clueless this President has been to the actual needs of the country and more importantly the needs of the troops.

He's so blind to this he's even ordered that wounded soldiers back into the fight. From Crooks and Liars.

The flag-waving chickenhawks can dish out all the propaganda they want, but let's face it - George Bush is gutting our military, hurting our soldiers and putting our country at risk. This is some scary stuff, folks. Our military is stretched so thin they're forced to send wounded soldiers back into battle, extend their tours of duty and have no choice but to once again cut short their leave time.
Today the President again renewed his threats to Veto the emergency defense appropriations bill passed recently by House and Senate which includes timelines and a pull-out plan for the bulk of U.S. troops claiming that...
This morning at his Rose Garden press conference, President Bush highlighted this new gambit, saying it has been 57 days since he sent Congress his funding request. If Congress fails to act soon, Bush said, “the price of that failure will be paid by our troops and their loved ones.
This despite the fact that previous supplemental defense bills have taken 86 Days in 2005 and 105 days in 2006 to be approved by Congress. Meanwhile Congressional Republicans have pledged to support the president's Veto.
“In a letter sent to the White House on Monday, House GOP members assured President Bush that they would support his decision to veto the emergency supplemental spending bill. ‘We are greatly concerned about the extraneous and excessive non-security related funds contained within the Global War on Terror supplemental spending bill currently under consideration in the Congress,’ the letter read. ‘If you choose to veto this measure over this spending, we will sustain your veto.’
The argument that the bill is filled with "Pork" is a spurious one as Kargo X has pointed out.
* 6.7 billion in to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. That includes aid for housing, public infrastructure funding, and aid to Gulf Coast commercial fishermen.
* 4.2 billion in disaster aid for farmers wiped out or hurt by drought and flood. This includes aid to dairy farmers, spinach producers, and peanut growers.
* 2 billion for port, airline, rail, and mass transit security.
* 750 million for the health insurance of American children living in poverty.
So basically Bush and the Republicans are threatening to veto a bill that provides our troops with adequate armor and rest while they remain in harms way, pushes the Iraqis to take serious steps to seek a political solution to resolve the lingering violence, leaves a sufficient force in place to fight al Qaeda, provides for much needed Homeland Security issues such as improving protection of our ports, airlines and railways - and finally begins to address the massive problems left behind by Bush's massive failure to respond during Hurricane Katrina.

Bush's veto threatens all of this, and to hear him state it would place the troops currently in Iraq and Afghanistan in a dangerous, untenable position.

This might be why Sens. Feingold and Reid have responded to Bush's threats by upping the ante with an even more aggressive pull-out bill.
“The bill requires the President to begin safely redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq 120 days from enactment, as required by the emergency supplemental spending bill the Senate passed last week. The bill ends funding for the war, with three narrow exceptions, effective March 31, 2008.” Reid states, “If the President vetoes the supplemental appropriations bill and continues to resist changing course in Iraq, I will work to ensure this legislation receives a vote in the Senate in the next work period.”
In the midst of all this high-stakes brinksmanship, will Dowd's defection begin a gradual tide of more and more Congres-rats running from the ship?

If this is any indication, the exodus may have already begun via Crooks.
Today's rat jumping off the sinking ship is Vic Gold, a personal pal of Lynne Cheney's who spills the beans to the Washington Post. Actually all the beans are coming in his soon-to-be-published (this month) book, Invasion of the Party Snatchers: How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP.

Until then we'll just have to be satisfied with what Gold, a close associate of Bush's father and a true believer from the Barry Goldwater days of conservatism, had to say to the Post:
"For all the Rove-built facade of his being a 'strong' chief executive, George W. Bush has been, by comparison to even hapless Jimmy Carter, the weakest, most out of touch president in modern times," Gold writes. "Think Dan Quayle in cowboy boots."

Gold is even more withering in his observations of Cheney. "A vice president in control is bad enough. Worse yet is a vice president out of control."

For Gold, Cheney brings to mind the adage of Swiss writer Madame de Stael, who wrote, "Men do not change, they unmask themselves." Cheney has a deep streak of paranoia and megalomania, Gold suggests — but he says he did not see it at first.

He was hiding who he really was," Gold says. "He was waiting for an opportunity."
Eventually the drip of inner-circle defectors may turn into a virtual torrent as the very next one appears as if the next one is going to be George "Slam Dunk" Tenet himself.
We're just a month away from what could be the biggest storm yet over who knew what before 9/11 and about those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as former CIA Director George Tenet finally tells of those troubled days. We hear vaguely that in At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, out April 30, Tenet takes responsibility for intelligence shortcomings but also isn't shy about naming officials in the Bush and Clinton administrations who share in the blame.

As many have in the past, Tenet is sure to hit the talk show circuit including stints on Meet the Press, Daily Show, Colbert and possibly even O'Reilly to promote his book - and if the revelations are a stunning as promised All Hell Just Might Bust Loose for the Bush Administration.

Vyan

Monday, April 2

Matt Dowd: Another former Rat-fucker jumps ship

Rat-fucking:

A term most notably used by David Brock in his book "Blinded By the Right" to describe the Richard Mellon-Scaif funded Arkansas Project, a massive finanical legal and journalist effort devoted to the destruction of Bill Clinton - as well as high profile Democ-Rats in general.

Besides Karl Rove, it would hard to find a more instrumental and effective rat-fucker in the Bush administration than his former chief campaign strategist in 2004, Matthew Dowd.

The chief strategist for President George W. Bush's 2004 reelection campaign wrote an editorial that said Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry was right in calling for a withdrawal from Iraq -- "Kerry Was Right" -- but never submitted it, according to an article to be published in Sunday's New York Times.

From the NYT.

In a wide-ranging interview here, Mr. Dowd called for a withdrawal from Iraq and expressed his disappointment in Mr. Bush’s leadership.

He criticized the president as failing to call the nation to a shared sense of sacrifice at a time of war, failing to reach across the political divide to build consensus and ignoring the will of the people on Iraq. He said he believed the president had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush still approached governing with a "my way or the highway" mentality reinforced by a shrinking circle of trusted aides.

"I really like him, which is probably why I’m so disappointed in things," he said. He added, "I think he’s become more, in my view, secluded and bubbled in."

In speaking out, Mr. Dowd became the first member of Mr. Bush’s inner circle to break so publicly with him.

For someone whose worked so closely with the President, going all the way back to Texas in 1999 - Dowd's rebuke of the Bush administration is stunning even in the wake of inner-circle revelations made by David Kuo that the Bush Administration had used it's Faith initiatives to further political ends.

Rove: "Just get me a Fucking Faith-Based thing. Got it?"

And especially since Dowd was a principle "architect" of the flip-flopper meme which helped sink John kerry's presidential aspirations.

Mr. Dowd, a crucial part of a team that cast Senator John Kerry as a flip-flopper who could not be trusted with national security during wartime, said he had even written but never submitted an op-ed article titled "Kerry Was Right," arguing that Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and 2004 presidential candidate, was correct in calling last year for a withdrawal from Iraq.

"I’m a big believer that in part what we’re called to do — to me, by God; other people call it karma — is to restore balance when things didn’t turn out the way they should have," Mr. Dowd said. "Just being quiet is not an option when I was so publicly advocating an election."

As most of us here realize, Kerry was clearly sandbagged. The claim that he had "Voted for the Troops before he voted against them" was clearly bogus. Simply put: There were two different versions of the bill - one included a way to pay for the funding of the war and the other (the one he voted against) did not.

Needless to say, the White House couldn't let Dowd remarks go unchallenged. From Face the Nation this Sunday via Thinkprogress.

The New York Times noted Dowd’s distancing from Bush came at the same time one of his "premature twin daughters died, he was divorced, and he watched his oldest son prepare for deployment to Iraq." Bartlett latched onto these difficulties in Dowd’s personal life in an effort to undermine his substantive concerns about Bush’s Iraq policy.

Bartlett said Dowd has been on a "long personal journey...in his private life" and that he had become too emotional over the war. CBS host Bob Schieffer interrupted to ask: "Are you suggesting he’s having some kind of personal problems and this is just what has resulted?" Bartlett denied that’s what he was doing, but then returned to his talking point, suggesting Dowd’s views should be evaluated in light of the fact the he was going through "personal turmoil."

Thinkprogress goes on to note...

What is even more disturbing than the treatment of those who criticize the Bush White House is the fact that those who have been criticized most harshly — people like Gen. Eric Shinseki, Richard Clarke, and Paul O’Neill — have in fact been proven to be more right than wrong. Dowd’s case is no different.

With Sens Feingold and Reid responding to Bush's Veto threats with an even more agressive Iraq pull-out bill than the one which has already passed the House and Senate, it's seems that the clock has finaly run out for those in the Bush Administration and it's enablers who have been consistently and repeatedly wrong about this War, from WMDs through the Insurgency, the ability of Paris Hilton to ride through Baghdad on a bicycle in a bikini despite the rapidly escalating Civil War.

As Bill Maher has suggested, Democrats have finally learn to Raise The Bet!.

Let just see if Bush has learned when to hold 'em or finally fold 'em.

Vyan

Sunday, April 1

The War on Reality

Yesterday the esteemed Jerome A Paris wrote a seering diary on how the Reality War ™ was a lost cause.

It's no use being "reality-based". It no longer works.

I've been spending the past couple hours struggling with an increasing number of articles that distort reality blatantly, or even include outright lies to make the same points over and over (globalization is inevitable and wages must go down, the French economy is fucked up and needs a dose of Thatcherism, Democrats are terrorist enablers and should not confront Bush in such a partisan way, etc...). I have graphs ready (from unimpeachable sources i.e. business newspapers) that demonstrate the exact opposite of what is stated as obvious truths in these articles. I have the facts on my side, I have widely read tribunes on DailyKos or European Tribune, and I could post (yet another) deconstruction of the propaganda that now passes for journalism, and have a good chance of seeing it be well received.

But today, I'm struggling with hopelessness as I read yet more articles...

Today I respond to his heartfelt frustration with a hearty battle cry and a new plan of attack.

Today I respond to his heartfelt frustration with a hearty battle cry and a new plan of attack.

You see, the first problem is Jerome's approach, one I'm sure shared by many of us Reality Warriors, is in our attempts to use the Fact Swarm Blitzkrieg to overwhelm our opposition. We attempt to gain the high ground, position our Fact Battalions on our opponents left flank, time our attack to be in sync with a massive carpet bombing raid of Hardened Depleted Uranium Tipped Facts from the MSM Air Wing of the New York Times or Washington Post, this we coincide with a bombardment of Youtube Vids from Battleship Olbermann parked just off shore firing volkswagen Jetta sized shells of searing and pointed Special Comment Rants.

We plan thoroughly, we marshal our forces with care.

Yet when the smoke clears the Koolaid Kommando's are still in place, holding their ground, visibly unaffected.

I'll admit it's more than a little annoying.

Their Fact Resistance Shield © is quite strong, if not nigh impenetrable, as well it should be - they've spent the entirety of western civilization, if not human existence helping to construct and refurbish it.

Thus rather than attempt to overwhelm the shields capacity from the outside, we must change our plan of attack to focus on de-constructing that rather impressive obstacle from it's very foundations. In order to that we need to strive to truly grasp the nature of this resistance, and after a least of couple decades of consideration - I've come to the conclusion that this shield is actually a part of how the human mind functions on a biochemical level.

You see, our minds are limited in their capacity - at this stage in our development and existence we don't yet have the ability to simultaneously see every single aspect of our reality at the same time.

Let me give you a couple examples.

When I was first studying psychology at Cal State Long Beach they described to us many of the leading theories of personality construction. They described Freud, Rogers and Skinner (who was a disciple of Pavlov) and told us that each of these man had developed their own rules, terms and structure for how the mind works. Each were valuable and had led to many effective treatment techniques for various patients - yet each was mutual exclusive and contradicted the others. To me, this was a conundrum. It's as if Freud argued with his Id, Ego and Superego that our minds were the equivalent of a Diesel engine, while Rogers said it was coal fired and Skinner a gas powered turbine. The only thing they had in common was that each was certain of their own rightness and the wrongness of the others.

But the fact is, our mind and brain are all made of the same basic component parts. Freud, Rogers and Skinner are all simultaneously correct, which is possible only because each is only seeing a portion of the larger issue at a time. The truth, the reality is too large for us to completely grasp - yet (or at least until I finally publish my Unified Personality Theory, it's only been 20 years in the works - I still got time...) Anyway - they (and us) are like the three blind men and the elephant, one thinks it's a rope, the other a stone wall while the last thinks it's a snake.

The Facts are on all of their sides - they all have a piece of the truth, yet their final and complete understanding of the True Reality of Things remains incorrect and incomplete. No matter how high you climb or fly, there's always a horizon beyond which you can not see, and can only imagine.

This applies to religion as well. IMO those who chose to see reality through the lens of Budda, Krishna, Vishnu, Jehovah, Yahweh, Muhammad, Abraham, Jesus, Santa and of course The All Mighty and Powerful Easter Bunny - are only seeing pieces of a vast multidimensional puzzle. They all might be right, at least partially - but unfortunately they are all also wrong to reject all the other pieces simply because they haven't yet discovered how they "Fit".

Also biochemically, even if we could "see everything" we really wouldn't know what to do with it all. We don't have the capacity to store everything we might learn, see or experience (except for those annoy people with total memory recall like that rat-bastard David Duchovny). Our brains triage information, discarding the trivial and keeping the vital. That which is more comfortable and familiar is easily recalled, that which is in conflict with what we believe - is forgotten and ignored.

Still the true problem is that the uncertainty unknowing is so frightening.

Terrifying.

In order to comfort ourselves against the reality of our un-knowledge we seek to construct among the threads and fragments of the fact-lets our limitations allow us to grasp a ragged facsimile of the world around us. From the time we are toddlers on were are hard at work weaving our Afghan Fact Rugs of protect us from the cold hard reality filled world.

Thus, we have the origins of The Shield which by adulthood has often grown hard and crusted.

It's why Copernicus was shunned and held under house arrest by the church for daring to state the Fact that the Earth was not the Center of the Universe. Those who dare to challenge one thread of our well constructed Shield must be dealt with swiftly and harshly or else - it just might completely unravel.

And we can't have not now can we?

Oh yes, we can - and we will.

What I've described here for those who see through my almost clever little analogies is The Paradigm Effect. Or more specifically Paradigm Paralysis.

What is paradigm paralysis? Or more basically, what is a paradigm?

As you probably know, a paradigm is a model or a pattern. It's a shared set of assumptions that have to do with how we perceive the world. Paradigms are very helpful because they allow us to develop expectations about what will probably occur based on these assumptions. But when data falls outside our paradigm, we find it hard to see and accept. This is called the PARADIGM EFFECT. And when the paradigm effect is so strong that we are prevented from actually seeing what is under our very noses, we are said to be suffering from paradigm paralysis.

Here we have the definition for the syndrome that we as Reality Warriors frequently confront. We are well armed with our lethal facts and figures - yet the opposition is virtually immune to all of them. They are in Paradigm Paralysis, unable and unwilling to grasp any new information which may contradict with that which they have already come to accept and have woven into their belief system. They're immune and impervious to fact and reason. That one little crucial factoid that we'd love hurl like a spitball at the back of the teacher's head is doomed to bounce off her bouffant like pebbles on a deflector grid array.

Weapons have no effect Captain, they're shields are too strong!

So the next obvious question is how do we pull a U.S.S. Defiant and get them to voluntarily drop shields?

Well, you see - there's a weakness in them, a flaw - it's call the Paradigm Shift. The Reality Shield created by Paradigm Paralysis may seem impervious, but it is not. Eventually, under the weight of undeniable fact, it cracks and shifts to accommodate and absorb the newly found information into it's Reality Template. Reality (or rather our limited perception of it) is elastic and can bend to accept new information, each time growing one step closer to completing the puzzle and one step closer to that distant horizon of understanding.

But this only occurs, when one has the courage to allow it to take place.

It's not something that one persons can force onto another, just as you can't force an addict to quit snorting paint chips. Although they can be guided down the right path, they essentially have to come to make the change on their own.

Bringing this macro level argument back down to the micro issues of Conservative/Traditionalist vs Liberal/Progressive on the Reality War Front - we have to realize that the war isn't really between these two archetypes. The war is within ourselves, and we have to be just as willing to accept reasonable portions of their template into our matrix as we expect from them.

Generally speaking though, the nature of a Conservative is indeed to embrace Paradigm Paralysis. It's at the core of what and who they are. They wish - even if they don't all realize it - that things to return back to the pre-Copernicus era. A Flat Earth at the Center of the Universe where everything made sense (to them).

No Joke.

the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the most powerful committee in the House , distributed to legislators a memo pitching crazed wingers who believe the earth stands still -- doesn't spin on its axis or revolve around the Sun -- that Copernicus was part of a Jewish conspiracy to undermine the Old Testament. That would be the same Old Testament that was written by the folks Chisum's friends say are conspiring to undermine it.

They wish to return us to a feudal society, one controlled by Corporate Multi-National Overlords of immense power, wealth and influence who have the ability to completely manipulate and control the lives of their workers and customers wage-slaves and serfs - through their enablers and sycophants in the media, the halls of Congress and the White House. U.S. Steel, United Fruit and the William Randalf Hearst Empire of half-truths have all been resurrected by the new 21st Century Robber-Barons. That is the truth they have yet to fully face because they believe they might one day become an Overlord themselves. The concerns of the little people crushed along the super-speedway of their self-gratification are therefore irrelevant, and probably their own fault since they obviously failed to do the logical thing and get out of way by jumping on the neo-conartist Capitalism is the One True GOD bandwagon.

Thus we have Iraq, Katrina, Walter Reed and quite possibly Iran.

Science is their enemy, as is Reality (with all it's Liberal Biases and all it's Inconvenient Truths) which require them to adopt and absorb radical, painful paradigm shifts.

We must understand that both their fuel and primary tool is Fear.

They use it well and they use it often. They've used it in the War on Of Terror ™. They use it in our Churches and our Schools. For decades they have worked in tandem to erect the Conservative Fact Shield to protect their interests and their goals from all threats. Especially Us. The best tactic then to help prosecute this Reality War - one which is the True War of Civilizations IMO - as well as help Koolaid Kids and Komandos who oppose us into their next inevitable paradigm shift, is to confront those fears with Courage.

Some, possibly the 23%-ers who rank above 90 on The Inhofe Scale are well beyond all hope of recovery from their compulsive addiction to bullshit, but many others may be open to reason if they are not necessarily attacked with a fact swarm but rather engaged and challenged to have the courage to consider a new approach and a new viewpoint. They may not completely come to accept the new information, not right away, but simply getting them to consider the possibilities is always an improvement.

The goal has to be to implement incremental changes and slowly move the Overton Window just a smidge at a time.

It can be painful, it can be frustrating - but it's well worth it.

And that goes not just for the Neo-Cons, Proto-Cons and Zeta-Cons, it goes for we Progressives as well, because the entire point of being a progressive in my view, is being willing and able to make the next Paradigm Shift in our own Reality Template.

And the next.

And the next.

Vyan


P.S. Speaking of Paradigm Shifts. Someone seriously needs to tell Bully O'Leilly that "They Drank the Koolaid" is a complete misnomer since the hundreds of people who died in Jonestown in the 70's did not voluantarily commit suicide - they were mass murdered, forced to drink poison at gunpoint. Just another thought nugget for ya.