Saturday, April 14

The Unintended Consquences of Rutgers/Imus

This certainly has been an interesting week for college sports scandals, where we've had the defrocking of radio legend Don Imus as well as the complete punking of DA Nifong.

But exactly what have we learned from all this?

Has a serious message been sent that callous attacks for the purposes of bad humor won't be tolerated on the public airwaves, and that a prosecutor should have a credible witness actual evidence before making defamatory pronouncements of a defendants guilt?

Quite a few interesting comments have been made on this subject , even on Real Time with Bill Maher last night.

Dana Carvey: What he said was ridiculous.

Scott McClennan: Where was the joke there? There was no joke.

Maher: Imus broke two major rules of comendy. It wasn't true and he picked on not the powerful, but the weak. Everything I got in trouble for was true

We have to remember that Maher has been directly in Imus' shoes after ABC pulled his show "Politically Incorrect" off the air in the weeks following Sept 11th.

"I do not relinquish - nor should any of you - the right to criticize, even as we support, our government," Maher said. "This is still a democracy and they're still politicians, so we need to let our government know that we can't afford a lot of things that we used to be able to afford. Like a missile shield that will never work for an enemy that doesn't exist. We can't afford to be fighting wrong and silly wars. The cold war. The drug war. The culture war."

What Maher said later in the show, however, is what made headlines. Panelist Dinesh D'Souza mentioned that he didn't think the terrorists were "cowards," as George Bush had described them. Maher replied: "We have been the cowards. Lobbing cruise missiles from two thousand miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building. Say what you want about it. Not cowardly. You're right."

At that time both Limbaugh and O'Reily supported what Maher said, arguing that he wasn't insulting our troops, but was instead criticizing President Clinton.

Unfortunately the reality is that Clinton wasn't the one who was "cowardly", he had requested special forces be sent into Afghanistan after Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and it was the joint chief's who had cold feet as has been documented by Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies - Clinton told then Joint Chief's Chairman Gen Shelton...

"Hugh, what i think would scare the shit outof these al Qaeda guys more than any cruise missle... would be the sight of U.S. commandos, Ninja guys in black suits, jumping out of helicopters into their camps, spraying machine guns. Even if we don't get the big guys, it will have a good effect."

But Shelton wasn't down with that.

Shelton looked pained. He explained that the camps were a long way away from anywhere we could launch a helicopter raid. Nonetheless, America's top military oficer agreed to "look into it".

And "look into it" is all they ever did - until after 9/11. Since that time D'Souza has come forward to make the ridiculous claim that The Left was responsible for 9/11 - but where is the backlash to that?

Maher paid a severe price for his comments at the time, one which he has bounced back from well - as Imus will most certainly bounce back.

Why? Because Imus isn't a racist - he's a dumbass.

First Unintended Conseqeunce: True Racist and Sexists will be driven even further underground than they already are.

As Pericles points out in his recommended Dkos diary today, there is a generational difference in how older people, those who predate the Civil Rights movement, view what racism is and how it is expressed.

60 Years ago most of the teams in the Major Baseball League theatened to go on strike if they had to play with and/or against Jackie Robinson. Even after the strike failed, many of those players would attempt to slide into him during plays and injur him with thier cleets. That's the kind of racism that my mother faced while my grandmother struggled to raise six children and purchase a home in Northern Lousiana on $40 a week.

Talk is talk - but Doing is DOING!

To this day, I actually think that those of us who struggled against discrimination had a clear and obvious advantage over some those who have followed them - because back then Racism Was Blatant. It was IN. YOUR. FACE.

You didn't have to wonder where you stood or why something odd was going on. It was clear that the schools, drinking fountains, hotels and restaurants were segregated. You didn't have to wonder if someone had any hidden animous towards you - they would put it up on the wall in a big bright sign plain for everyone to see. Those who managed to scale the hard stone wall of Jim Crow should always be admired, be it Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, or the Tuskegee Airmen - but the challenge that faces those that follow them through the hidden minefield that the remnents of racism have become should be commended as well.

After Brown V Board of Education, and the passage of the Civil Rights, Voting Rights, and Public Accomodations Act - public displays of that kind of racism essentially became a crime. We didn't see it anymore, not neccesarily because the sentiment of those baseball players for 1947 and those restaurant owners from 1957, and Bull Conner from 1963 had completely and utterly vanished as Dinesh D'souza would argue - although some of it had - some of it had simply gone underground.

President Reagan would pack the Civil Rights division with those who didn't believe in the mission it was performing, effectively making it a non-entity. He appointed Clarence Thomas to the Equal Oppurtunity Employment Commision - the organization responsible for implementing and managing remedial actions against employement discrimination - when Clarence didn't even believe that such discrimination even existed.

That's what I would call - taking discriminatory actions, not just using the "N-word."

Meanwhile others, somewhat like Imus, who may not have ever actually done anything negative towards any particular ethnic group have taken advantage of the creeping feeling of being stiffled by greater and greater ethnic and gender sensitivity - Like walking through a field of egg-shells with jack boots on.

The voices of incivility have grown sharp, even shrill - railing against "political correctness". These people have muddied the waters, they may or may not be bigots based on their actions - but their words make this problematic.

However, real racists know that openly revealing negative racial comments just might get them into serious trouble because it would betray the otherwise hidden bias of their actions. Trying to combat these people is much more difficult than Bull Conner because like the insurgents in Iraq, or the Al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan - Stealth is their primary tool.

This is why the importance of the Maccaca Moment by former Senator George Allen shouldn't be ignored.

  • He knew damn well that he was on camera.
  • He knew that the person filming him, was a member of the Jim Webb campaign and they'd use it against him.
  • He thought he was too cool for school by using an obscure racial slur from North Africa.

This is a guy who kept a noose and a confederate flag in his office and still managed to get away with it. He was sure he'd get away with this too- but he didn't.

Next time, he'll say something even more obscure - but he'll still feel the same way and mean the same damn thing.

We might not hear Ann Coulter railing at John Edwards for being a "Faggot" or the Jersey Girls for being "Harpies" on national TV again anytime soon. But I'm pretty sure they she and her flock a followers still feel the exact same way, and will continue to support policies based on their bigotted views.

Second Unintended Consequence: Those who try to increase efforts to catch these people in the act of bigotry are more likely to be attacked as "Race Baiters".

Hypersensitivity to this issue can cause innocent people to be accused of having attitudes they may not actually possess, or of perpetrating acts bigotry they didn't commit. Just as we've seen in the Duke Rape case, going off half-cocked when your accuser actually is a "Ho", with psychological problems no less, can actually add more fuel to people like Rush Limbaugh and MIchael Savage.

Duke has been like the Tawana Brawley case all over again.

(Be that as it may, I'm glad that DA Nifong did at least look at the allegations seriously although he jumped the gun and should have used a grand jury to investigate the issue in secret to allow all the possible defendants the best benefit of the doubt.)

Another example of this was shown by Lindsey Graham as he asked Sam Alito:

GRAHAM: ...Are you really a closet bigot?

ALITO: I'm not any kind of a bigot, I'm not.

...

GRAHAM: Let me tell you this: Guilt by association is going to drive good men and women away from wanting to sit where you're sitting.

You see, it's the fault of all those people who noticed that Alito was a card-carrying member of a racist and sexist organization at Princeton, it had not nothing do to with the fact that the organization openly attempted to continue the legacy of segregation against blacks and women right into the mid-80's.

They're going to blame Jessie Jackson, and Al Sharpton for all this. They're going to blame Media Matter's for correctly pointing out that It's Not Just Imus!

Exhibit A) Glenn Beck:

On the March 21 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, The Glenn Beck Program, Beck called Rosie O'Donnell, co-host of ABC's The View, a "fat witch," claimed that O'Donnell has "blubber ... just pouring out of her eyes," and asked, "Do you know how many oil lamps we could keep burning just on Rosie O'Donnell fat?" On the March 23 edition of his radio show, Beck said, "I'm a little ashamed" for calling O'Donnell "a fat witch" -- then added, "But she's so fat."

---

On the May 17, 2005, broadcast of The Glenn Beck Program, Beck said he was "thinking about killing [filmmaker] Michael Moore" and pondered whether "I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it," before concluding: "No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out -- is this wrong?"

Exhibit B) Rush Limbaugh

On the February 1 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh responded to a Reuters report on a University of Chicago study that found that "a majority of young blacks feel alienated form today's government" by asserting: "Why would that be? The government's been taking care of them their whole lives."

Exhibit C) Bill O'Reilly

While discussing the rape and murder of 18-year-old Jennifer Moore during the August 2, 2006, edition of his radio show, O'Reilly appeared to suggest that the clothing she was wearing at the time helped incite her killer. O'Reilly discussed several factors that contributed to the "moronic" girl's rape and murder, including that she was drunk and wandering the streets of New York City alone late at night. But in addition to those factors, O'Reilly added: "She was 5-foot-2, 105 pounds, wearing a miniskirt and a halter top with a bare midriff. Now, again, there you go. So every predator in the world is gonna pick that up at 2 in the morning."

Exhibit D) Michael Savage:

On the March 30 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, The Savage Nation, Michael Savage stated that he "agree[d] 100 percent" with a caller who said: "I'm very concerned that the Jews are now accepting gays as rabbis. And as a Catholic, I can tell you it almost destroyed our church when we accepted gays as priests." The caller added, "[T]hey were raping teenage boys, and if you allow them to come into your churches, I'm sorry, your synagogues, I have no reason to believe they're not going to do the same thing." Savage responded: "The idea of a gay rabbi is an oxymoron. Think about it: 'Rabbi' means teacher. You cannot have a homosexual teacher teaching boys how to be a Jew," adding, "I'm not going to mince words for fear of offending homosexuals. They're everywhere, anyway, trying to tell me what to say and what not to say and what to think. I know what's right and what's wrong. And that's all there is to it."

I for one wouldn't cry if the corporate backlash continued and eventually blew all four of these nitwits off the air, but you see - they aren't the real problem. The real problem IMO is all the other dimbulbs and closeted bigots who not only believe what these guys say and feel legitimized for their own bigoted beliefs when they hear them echoed this way - it's the fact that they're going to become deeply aggrieved if they lose their heroes, just like the cowards that sent death threats to the Rutger's ball players.

People have to remember that the real shock jock that started most of this prior to Imus or Stern or O'Reilly was Alan Berg in Colorado. A Liberal curmudgeon who sturred up so much dust he was eventually murdered in 1984 by neo-Nazi Skinheads from Idaho who called themselves "The Order", echoing some of the so-called heroes from the hyper right-wing novel "The Turner Diaries" - a book which also inspired Timothy McVeigh to bomb the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

At a certain point empty words and rhetoric may turn into not so empty actions.

I'm not endorsing anything these guys have said, or excuse the action of murderous racists, in fact I recommended in my last Dkos diary that the FCC begin to fine these guys for profane and defamatory hate speech, but simply the fact that they have been caught on the record allows us to protect ourselves from them better than if we were still wondering where they stood or who they are.

One of the good things about this entire situation is that a frank and honest discussion of all these issues is being had - very few people seem to completely agree. The worst thing that can happen is for that discussion to be shutdown and taken out of the light, back into the darkness where it can fester.

Vyan

Thursday, April 12

Not Another Imus Story - almost.

First of all, this is not another Imus Diary - but I do want to point out something that seems to be completely missing in this entire Imus Kerfuffle.

It's not about race.

It's not about gender.

It's not about free speach.

It's not about political correctness.

No, the issue I want to raise that has been completely overlooked so far, is the issue of Defamation! and the indencency of what has been occuring on our airwaves for quite some time.

Why hasn't the FCC come down on Imus' (and others) for their profane and hurtful comments, because it can't possibly be argued that what he did to the Rutger's B-ball players was decent can it?

Ever since Justin Timberlake revealed Janet Jackson's tit during the Superbowl -- (yeah, that's right the guy whose hosting this years Kid Awards is the one who did the dirty deed, not Janet) -- the FCC has been running around fining people hog-wild for their on-air statements. In this particular case CBS was fined $550,000.

April 2004 - Howard Stern fined $495,000 and Clear Channel for an indencent comedy routine performed during his show. Clear Channel then proceeded to dump Stern based on his violation of their "zero-tolerance decency standards".

Oct 2004 - Fox TV was fined a record $1.2M for showing scenes of bachelor and bachelorette parties during it's reality show - "Married By America".

Just under a year ago even with these record fines already on the books, Congress voted to increase the fines by ten times.

November 2006 - Viacom settled a series of fines to the tune of $3.5 million.

Last month the FCC threatened to fine Amp'd mobile $100,000 for failing to protect their customers phone records. (Why they haven't gone after AT&T yet for sharing their phone records illegally with the NSA and FBI remains a mystery)

These changes have even created a chilling effect on PBS. "Masterpiece Theater" added at least a dozen bleeps to the broadcast of "Every Child Is a Poet: The Life & Work of Piri Thomas" - in order to Sanitize it for PBS's protection.

I find much of this rather odd.

It's odd that the FCC hasn't gone after CBS for Imus' comments in this case or in the previous occasions where he's been forced to apologize for comedy routines that have gone horribly off kilter.

March 16th - "the whole nation is talking about" reports of a "[b]that young colored fellah pretty much deckin' the old bag from New York[/b] and takin' away some of her money." [Imus Producer Bernard] McGuirk Who continued : "I'm speaking, of course, about [Sens.] Barack Obama [D-IL] and Hillary Clinton [D-NY]."

March 6th - McGuirk : "[Clinton] will have cornrows and gold teeth before this fight with [Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL] is over."

February 8th - Both Imus & McGuirk : "Besa mi culo ... Gordo" said to Governor Bill Richardson, who mother is mexican. Translation : "kiss my ass, fat one"

February 6th - Imus on why he supports Giuliani: "if we're gonna be fighting these terrorists through the lives of [8-year-old son] Wyatt Imus' children," then "it might be good to start with somebody who is willing to take three big ones and drop one on Mecca, one on Jeddah, and one on Saudi -- one on Riyadh,"

February 2nd - McGuirk : Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has "a Jew-hating name."

December 8th - McGuirk : "Even if you wear a beanie, how can you not love the Blind Boys?" Imus continued, "I said, 'They're handicapped, they're black, and they're blind. How do we lose here?' And then a light bulb just went off over [the jewish managers of CBS radio] scummy little heads."

Last night in response to their own internal integrity concerns, MSNBC has dropped the Imus simulcast and as I type this I can hear Nora O'Donnel report that when Imus comes back from vacation some CBS stations will not be continuing his broadcast.

I also see as I watch that Al Sharpton has begun to make arguments in the same direction as this post - (ie "Where's the FCC in all this?")

My basic point however probably isn't what you might expect. I don't neccesarily appload the actions taken against Imus. I don't think he should be black-listed or banned from the air. However, MSNBC has a right to decide what they want to broadcast and what they don't.

I feel that MSNBC made their decision on the best basis possible, they as an organization simply didn't want to be associated with those kinds of sentiments. There's little evidence they did it in response to advertiser or public pressure - but they may have. There is even less evidence that they implemented "self-censorship" pre-emptively to avoid the kinds of fines that I note above - because the likelyhood that they would have been on the receiving end of such fines are non-existent.

Imus may ultimately have to follow Stern into alternative radio, and I'm ok with that - but in his case, it certainly won't be because the FCC forced him to. Not hardly.

We haven't seen the FCC stand up against Ann Coulter when she called the Jersey Girl's "Harpies" on national TV did we?

We didn't see any action taken against Rush Limbaugh for accusing Michael J. Fox of exaggerating his disease in order to gain more sympathy for the stem-cell cause.

We didn't see anything done to Dennis Prager for saying that Rep. Keith Ellison was "imperiling America" because he choose to do a photo-op with the Quran after being sworn in to the Congress, or Rep. Virgil Goode who stated ..."If American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Quran" and also that opposing the surge would "aid and assist the Islamic jihadists who want the crescent and star to wave over the Capitol of the United States and over the White House of this country.”

And we didn't see the FCC jump to the task when Neal Boortz called Rep Cynthia McKinney a "ghetto slut", and "welfare drag-queen" who'll "show her ass again".

The common issue here is that all of these cases are acts of defamation.

Generally speaking, defamation is the issuance of a false statement about another person, which causes that person to suffer harm. Slander involves the making of defamatory statements by a transitory (non-fixed) representation, usually an oral (spoken) representation. Libel involves the making of defamatory statements in a printed or fixed medium, such as a magazine or newspaper.

Typically, the elements of a cause of action for defamation include:

1. A false and defamatory statement concerning another;
2. The unprivileged publication of the statement to a third party (that is, somebody other than the person defamed by the statement);
3. If the defamatory matter is of public concern, fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher; and
4. Damage to the plaintiff.

Most jurisdictions also recognize "per se" defamation, where the allegations are presumed to cause damage to the plaintiff. Typically, the following may consititute defamation per se:

* Attacks on a person's professional character or standing;
* Allegations that an unmarried person is unchaste;
* Allegations that a person is infected with a sexually transmitted disease;
* Allegations that the person has committed a crime of moral turpitude;

We have to realize that ALL OF THIS IS HATE SPEECH!

The way things are today, the individual(s) who has been defamed as the result of such hateful comments have the responsibility to take legal action themselves. We do not currently have a Criminal Libel Law as some countries do.

But what happens when an entire group of people are defamed? Who should stand-up when women are debased? Blacks? Jews? Or how about the most defamed group in America right now - Liberals?

The next time Bill O'Reilly says something about "Far-Left Bomb-Thrower Smear-Sites" should we at Kos go to the FCC Complaint Page and explain in detail just how offensive, profane and defamatory his comments are to us?

Would they even listen? Well first we need to see what is "Obscene, what is Indecent and what is Profane" at least according to FCC guidelines.

Indecent Broadcast Restrictions

The FCC has defined broadcast indecency as
language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.” Indecent
programming contains patently offensive sexual or excretory material that does not rise to the level of obscenity.

So basically we're talking here about the Seven Deadly Words: Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cock-sucker, Mother-Fucker and Tits!
Apparently "Bitch, Crap and Ho" aren't currently on the No-No list even though the difference between Crap and Shit or Bitch and Cunt are pretty much negligible.

But again, these are "contemporary community" standards - so if you're community argues that calling a woman a "Whore" is offensive, you just might have an argument. But then again, it doesn't have to be sexual or about excrement to be "profane."

Profane Broadcast Restrictions

The FCC has defined profanity as “including
language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.

Obscenity as defined, is not protected by the First Amendment and is banned from FCC regulated air at all times. However Indecent and Profane speech has been restricted to the hours between 10pm and 6am by the FCC. This wouldn't require that someone who wishes to push the envelope like Imus would be taken off the air, rather they would simply be moved to night shift, rather than spewing all this stuff during the morning or the middle of the day.

In Ann Coulter's case she may not be obscene or indecent, but she's certainly profane because I'm fairly sure I'm not the only one that considers her a right bloody nuisance. Particularly since many of her comments are blatantly defamatory. An FCC crack-down on profane hate speech wouldn't cause her to be banned, she could still say whatever she wanted to on TV, it just couldn't be with Matt Lauer at 7am or CBS would feel the heat where it counts - in the pocket book.

Even after-hours, under the law, John Edwards has every right to sue Ann Coulter for her "faggot" comments.

Except that he won't.

There is the issue that those who fight back this way are sometimes characterized as "cry-babies", just like when Fred Barnes argued that the Rutger's Girls "acted like victims" and should "Flicked Imus off their shoulder like a moskito".

Barnes also echoed the lame Imus defense that "nappy headed Ho's orginated in the black community". Frankly speaking that isn't true - the Word "Whore" is of English/German extraction.

[Middle English hore, from Old English hōre; see kā- in Indo-European roots.]

Whore: Derivatives of Indo-European roots have often acquired starkly contrasting meanings. A prime example is the case of the root kā-, "to like, desire." From it was derived a stem kāro-, from which came the prehistoric Common Germanic word hōraz with the underlying meaning "one who desires" and the effective meaning "adulterer." The feminine of this, hōrōn-, became hōre in Old English, the ancestor of Modern English whore.

Also the word "Nap" as in "Nappy" derives from:

[Origin: 1400–50; late ME (Middle English) noppe, OE -hnoppa (as in wullknoppa, mistake for *wullhnoppa tuft of wool), c. MD, MLG noppe; akin to OE hnoppian to pluck]

Unfortunately Niger Innis and other promenent Black spokesmen (I'm black and they Don't speak for me) have been echoing this ridiculous Imus defense by claiming that it's somehow the fault of Black Rappers that this type of terminology is being used while ignoring the long history these English based verbal slurs being used against black people in America through-out their history.

Why is being "nappy-headed" even an issue? Because it's NOT LIKE WHITE HAIR! And who would've thought to take a word from the 1400's and make it an insult in the first place, hmm? Trust me, it wasn't black people.

Snoop Dogg has responded saying that the "Ho's" their talking about aren't young women like these college students. They're actually real life Whores! They do exist, y'know. Rapper's don't use the words to describe everyone they meet, just certain one who actually fit the description.

Sometimes you really do have to "call a spade - a spade." Or a "Ho" (groan), as the case may be. Defamation? Not exactly.

Also I want to point out that the FCC restrictions I'm talking about here already apply to these rappers. Their records are already stickered and restricted. Instead of addressing the issue of why some women are whores, and why some young men are assholes - and whether or not the characterization is, at times, accurate we are instead seeing people use this situation to put forth their own politically correct agenda to restrict discussion of some serious issues.

Dragging them into this is nothing more than a red-herring, a ruse by those who wish to continue spewing baseless attacks against large swaths of the public whom they dislike and disagree with.

Countering this by arguing that it is Profane Speech and forcing the FCC to get involved is a two-edge sword. Just as statements against minorites could induce fines, so could statements against "white-haired fat-cats on wall street".

I might suggest that we push for a Criminal Libel Law so that the victim of such slurs doesn't have to shoulder the burden of repairing their reputation alone (where you get all the Justice you can Pay For!), but I'm not entirely that's a wise path considering how Federal Prosecutors can be politicized leaving open the door for selective and malicious prosecution of such charges.

The best we could hope for is that our public discourse over gender, racial, ethnic and political issues begins to regain some of it's civility and rationality.

What we don't want is for no one to be able to speak freely and honestly.

Vyan

Tuesday, April 10

Showdown at the White House over Iraq

Today President Bush has decided to invite Congressional leaders to the White House for a little chat about the war. Except that it seems he plans to do nearly all the talking, especially the ultimatums.

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Tuesday invited Democrats to discuss their standoff over a war-spending bill, but he made clear he would not change his position opposing troop withdrawals. The White House bluntly said the meeting would not be a negotiation.

...

"At this meeting, the leaders in Congress can report on progress on getting an emergency spending bill to my desk," Bush said. "We can discuss the way forward on a bill that is a clean bill, a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal and without handcuffing our generals on the ground. I'm hopeful we'll see some results soon from the Congress."

That's right, Bush is going to jump up and down until he gets his blank check and try to stare the Democrats nose-to-nose until they finally blink.

But before they take their trip to Bush's would-be wood shed, Harry Reid has a few things to say.

"Iraqi leaders are not willing to take the political risk of governing their own country. That must change," Reid said. "That's what Congress is demanding. That is what the American people, by a large majority, demand. And the president should be leading us in that direction, not threatening to veto funding for our troops unless we rubber stamp his flawed plan."

Nora O'Donnel on MSNBC spoke to Tom Delay in response to Senator Reid asking Who should Blink?

(Not an exact transcript)

Delay: I hope the Democrats do. They're starving the troops, causing them to extend thier tours, not getting them the equipment they need. The American people won't support that.

In point of fact the American People overwhelmingly support a change in direction for the Iraq Conflict.

AP/IPSOS April 2-4:

  • 64% of those polled say they "Disapprove" of how George Bush has handled the War in Iraq.
  • 59% feel that going to War with Iraq was "A Mistake"
  • 50% say the War is "Hopeless"

Newsweek Poll March 28:

  • 57% support the Senate's call for a troop withdrawl by March 2008

CBS Poll March 26-27:

  • 59% feel that the U.S. should pull all troops out by Sept 2008.

Delay also stated that the President is more popular than Congress now, a point which Nora - rather uncharacteristically - argued with stating that Congress has a 40% approval rating while the President is still in the 30% range. Delay countered that the USA Today poll had the President at 38% and the Congress at 32%.

Delay: You have your poll and I have mine...

In point of fact USA Today/Gallup does have the President at 38% and the Congress at 33% while the AP Poll from the same day has the President at 35% and Congress at 40%. Exactly why there's a 7 point swing in the Congressional approval ratings is not clear.

[Update: It should be noted that either stat is a significant uptick from where the 109th finished it's tenure according to NBC/Wall Street (16%) and Gallup (23$) last October]

Regardless of who's more popular right now, it's clear that Delay obvious got his latest talking points fax and that Bush is refusing to back down.

"We're at war," Bush said. "It is irresponsible for the Democratic leadership in Congress to delay for months on end while our troops in combat are waiting for the funds they need to succeed."

As Thinkprogress has pointed out it was only been 57 days since Bush requested the latest supplemental funding bill and Democratic Congress passed it. By comparison previous requests took the Republican Congress 119 days in 2006 and 86 days in 2005.

In fact according to reports from Congressional Research Service, our Troops have plenty of funds for the next few months and are far from "starving".

In a memo to the Senate Budget Committee dated Wednesday, the congressional analysts said the Army has enough money in its existing budget to fund operations and maintenance through the end of May — about $52.6 billion. If additional transfer authority is tapped, subject to Congress approving a reprogramming request, the Army would have enough funds to make it through nearly two additional months, or toward the end of July. Using all of its transfer authority, the Army could have as much as $60.1 billion available.

And as a matter of fact, Bush has already begun to tap into his reserves - even though he doesn't really need to yet.

Bush said the Defense Department will soon send Congress a request to transfer $1.6 billion from other military accounts to cover funding for troops — a move needed, he said, because lawmakers have delayed his emergency spending request. He warned that continued delays would undermine troop training, slow the repair of equipment and force soldiers to serve longer tours of duty.

Even though he is clearly trying to put increased pressure on the Democrats, the clear question is whether the Republican caucus will hold. Inspite of Congressional Republicans who have vowed to support a Presidential Veto, Harry Reid has already put forward an even more aggressive bill.

The final decision on exactly what direction we'll take in Iraq may be decided quite soon - will it follow the path that the vast majority of the American public want and prove that "Elections Have Consequences" - or will the President stamp his foot and have his way?

Reid: The President now has to deal with A Congress, he hasn't had that before. [The Republicans] would just rubber-stamp anything he wanted.

That time is over.

Just the fact that we are no long even discussing the "escalation" but are instead arguing the over the timeline for withdrawal and what we truly need - A Force Transition Plan to hand-over responsibility to the Iraqis - is already a step in the right direction.

It won't be long now.

Vyan

Monday, April 9

Quick Truths

From Thinkprogress:

On the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad and the toppling of Saddam’s statue, up to one million Iraqi Shias summoned by Moqtada al-Sadr “have gathered in the holy city of Najaf for a mass demonstration calling for US-led troops to leave Iraq.”

The Washington Post interviews a man who helped sledgehammer Saddam’s statue: “We got rid of a tyrant and tyranny. But we were surprised that after one thief had left, another 40 replaced him. Now, we regret that Saddam Hussein is gone, no matter how much we hated him.”

President Bush heads to the Arizona border today for a speech debuting his new, more hard-line conservative approach to immigration “devised after weeks of closed-door meetings with Republican senators.”

Salon.com has uncovered further evidence that the military, in a desperate effort to fill its ranks for President Bush’s escalation, “sent soldiers with acute post-traumatic stress disorder, severe back injuries and other serious war wounds back to Iraq.”

“After weeks of arguing over when the military will run out of money, House and Senate Republicans hope to up the rhetorical ante this week by formally calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to bring the House back from a two-week spring recess to finish drafting the controversial $120 billion-plus Iraq War spending bill.”

From Randi Rhodes:
On top of Bush’s BS surge, we now learn that an additional 12,000 National Guard troops will be shipped off to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Why did the Ft. Irwin troops give Chimpy such an icy reception on Wednesday? Maybe they are sick of badly injured troops being denied rehab and getting sent to their base to falsely bolster manpower readiness stats. Criminal.

AUDIO: Cheney keeps lying about Iraq/al-Qaeda links then never existed. On Limbaugh yesterday, Cheney used Zarqawi as his proof.

FACT: Saddam and Osama hated each other, and Hussein tried to get Zarqawi himself but Zarqawi was protected inside the US controlled no-fly zone.

FACT: There were zero credible links between Iraq and al-Qaeda and the White House knew that BEFORE the war.

FACT: What did the bin Laden’s and Hussein (and Bush’s) actually have in common? Their bank.

Meanwhile, chlorine gas shows up again as a suicide car bomber kills at least 27 in Iraq.

From hometown hero to being happy to be tucked away in a state psych ward, Bush’s throw away soldiers find themselves lost and suicidal once they get home.

Even the new Army uniforms are all f’d up.

On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney tap dances over lying about being a lifelong hunter. He’s hunted twice in life…once at age 15, once last year, when he first joined the NRA.

John Edwards takes some heat over soliciting donations from those who sent well wishes to Elizabeth via their campaign’s website.

Minnesota’s aborting pigpens in the name of the RNC.

Giuliani vs Rapture Right…can a pro-choice Republican make it through a presidential primary nowadays?

And a Purge of the Prosecutors update: People are demoting themselves in protest of the Bible quoting, 33 year old US Attorney in Minneapolis. Moreover, Rachel Paulose is best friends with Monica “5th Amendment” Goodling.

Karl Rove crony Tim Griffin claimed to have prosecuted 40 cases. In fact, he only served as an assistant on 3 cases, all settled in plea bargains.

And one of the excuses offered for the purge of David Iglesias was his attendance record. Turns out he’s a Navy Reserve officer. Whoops.

Sunday, April 8

TPM: Is This Monica Goodling!

On Friday Josh Marshall released a video blog that investigates whether former Justice Dept Official Monica Goodling had been part of the Bush Opposition Research Team during the 2000 debates based on video and documents from that time.


Click to View Video

I think to most people with decent eyesight, the answer to that question just might be "Hell, Yes!"

Based on a year 2000 dcumentary on oppo-research head Tim Griffin (who was selected as one of the recent replacement U.S. Attorney's) TPM breaks down the scene frame-by-frame then compares the image of a blonde woman to various pictures of Monica Goodling with are still available from Pat Robertson's Regent University.

Tim can even be heard saying "Hey, Monica..."

Documentatation of Monica's employement during that period can be confirmed via Law.com

After graduating in 1999, Goodling landed a job at the D.C. headquarters of the Republican National Committee just as the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign was ramping up. Goodling's position put her inside the newly created war room for political opposition research. There, she worked alongside a crew of party faithful who would later shepherd her through the ranks at Justice.

Among Goodling's close associates were Barbara Comstock, head of opposition research for the RNC and later the chief spokeswoman for Ashcroft; Griffin, Comstock's deputy, whom Goodling would later help to win the interim appointment to replace one of the eight ousted U.S. Attorneys in Arkansas; and Mark Corallo, who in 2003 took the helm of the Justice Department's Public Affairs Office after Comstock.

Following Comstock into John Ashcroft's Justice Deptartment, Monica rose through the ranks quickly due to her hard work, and tendency to even toil through the night on issues such as the Patriot Act, ultimately becoming the primary point person on judicial nominees.

Later in 2005 after rotating through a stint of prosecutorial training she became the DOJ White House Liason, a senior member of Alberto Gonzales staff who performed...

as the gatekeeper for the White House for all 400-some political appointees in the Justice Department, from U.S. Attorneys and marshals to secretaries.

So what we have here is a hard-core card-carring Christo-Fascist Fundie (like her good friend Rachel "The Wicked Witch of the East" Paulose) , educated by Pat Robertson's Law school which has always been intended to produce hard-right wing Madison Society styled prosecutors and judges for eventually appointment to the Supreme Court and the destruction of Wade, becoming a high end RNC political operative and then moving on to become the point person on all political appointees in the Justice Department.

Gee, I don't know what ever might stink to high heaven in that situation.

All snark aside, If there's still a skeleton hiding in the closet of the prosecutor purge that hasn't already been revealed in the previous doco dumps of DOJ emails - in which Monica is featured prominently, even as an attendee of November 27th meeting with AG Gonzales just ten days before the firings - Monica knows where it's buried.

After announcing that she would plead the 5th Amendment to Congress, and on the same day as Josh's report was released, Monica resigned from the Justice Dept, without giving a full explaination.

I am hereby submitting my resignation to the Office of the Attorney General, effective April 7, 2007. It has been an honor to have served at the Department of Justice for the past five years. May God bless you richly as you continue your service to America.

But it's clear to me, particular after listening to Josh, that her resignation was most likely pre-emptive to avoid being fired if she refused to participate in the DOJ's own internal probe into possible Hatch Act Violations.

Updated

The Hatch Act restricts the political activity of executive branch employees of the federal government, District of Columbia government and some state and local employees who work in connection with federally funded programs. In 1993, Congress passed legislation that significantly amended the Hatch Act as it applies to federal and D.C. employees (5 U.S.C. §§ 7321-7326). (These amendments did not change the provisions that apply to state and local employees. 5 U.S.C. §§ 1501- 1508.) Under the amendments most federal and D.C. employees are now permitted to take an active part in political management and political campaigns. A small group of federal employees are subject to greater restrictions and continue to be prohibited from engaging in partisan political management and partisan political campaigns.

Those employees subject to increased restrictions on political activities include those working at:

  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Criminal Division (Department of Justice)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Federal Election Commission
  • Office of Special Counsel
  • National Security Agency
  • National Security Council

The situation has become so bad, that even Newt Gingrich has stated that Alberto Gonzales has to go.

"The public would be much better served to have another attorney general," said Newt Gingrich. "I cannot imagine how he’s going to be effective for the rest of his administration. They’re going to be involved in endless hearings."

Vyan