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April 21, 2006
From the diaries. This should give us plenty to talk about on a Friday night. Are you going to fire this leaker, Mr. President? --mcjoan
On the day that a courageous CIA whistleblower is fired for telling the truth about American gulags, a bombshell accusation: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaked national defense information to a pro-Israel lobbyist in the same manner that landed a lower-level Pentagon official a 12-year prison sentence, the lobbyist's lawyer said Friday.
Prosecutors disputed the claim.
The allegations against Rice came as a federal judge granted a defense request to issue subpoenas sought by the defense for Rice and three other government officials in the trial of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman. The two are former lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who are charged with receiving and disclosing national defense information.
Looks like Rice will have to testify under oath about her dealings with AIPAC, although I'm sure she'll fight this one to her last dying breath, and appeals will delay final resolution for quite some time. But it appears that we may have another blatant example of White House leaking hypocrisy on our hands (as if the whole Plame debacle wasn't enough).
This one won't go away -- but will be battled out in the courts. I'm getting popcorn.
Rep. Alan Mollohan is the ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee. Today, he temporarily stepped down from his post pending an investigation into ethics allegations.
The allegations are being made by the innocuous-sounding National Legal & Policy Center (NLPC), which labels itself (and is labeled in the media) as a government watchdog group which "promotes ethics in government through research, education and legal action." Try searching their site for "Tom Delay" and you get a whopping seven results, none of which deal with Delay's scandal-ridden career (indeed, the sole references to Delay's ethics problems are made in documents attacking Senator Kennedy and charging "liberal hypocrisy.") Type in "Abramoff" and you get a blank screen. Surprising? Not so much, considering that wilful blindness toward Republican corruption is part and parcel of being a "proud member of Townhall.com." For local background on the conservative agenda of the NLPC, click here.
The NLPC allegations were first reported in the Wall Street Journal. The hit group filed a complaint with the FBI, though no formal government investigation has been launched. The group claims that Mollohan fudged his books by omitting some 200 details, pointing to the fact that in 2000, Mollohan had assets worth between $170,012 to $562,000 and liabilities between $170,000 and $465,000. In his 2004 report, Mollohan indicated he had assets of $6.3 million to $24.9 million and liabilities of $3.66 million to $13.5 million.
Mollohan has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. He says he was unaware of any errors in his financial disclosures, if any do exist. And he'd like to address the details of the NLPC's complaint--except he hasn't received any information from the group.
Indeed, the NLPC refuses to publicly release the 500-page report. Mollohan has demanded it. Mollahan's Republican opponent has demanded it. The media has demanded it. And yet, the center won't release it. One local media outlet reports that the NLPC refuses to release its report because "some items it contains may not be accurate."
Were there errors in Mollohan's disclosures? If so, were they inadvertent or intentional? Eventually, we'll find out. In the meantime, by stepping down, Mollohan is stepping up and showing the GOP the proper way to react to ethics allegations.
You see, there this concept that Republican politicians don't understand--it's called the greater good. As the Washington Post noted, that the ranking member of the House Ethics Committee is even the subject of such allegations creates the appearance of impropriety which further erodes public confidence in the ethics process. Mollohan needed to step down--to make that temporary sacrifice--for the greater good of the Ethics Committee and Congress as a whole.
Republicans don't understand the greater good, the sense that politicians have an obligation to the institutions to which they are elected and the people that they serve. That's why the King of Corruption, Tom Delay, selfishly clung to his House seat even after he was indicted, resigning only when it was politically opportune for him to do so. That's why Republicans have stalled ethics reform. Because for the GOP, it's always party above principle.
Yet for Mollohan, and Democrats in general as Matt Stoller points out, it is about principle:
I know the press is going to report that a Democrat is under investigation, but that's not the real story. The real story is that faced with the perception of an ethics problem, Democrats chose to confront it directly and honorably even though they knew it would cost them politically.
We're not Republicans who turn a blind eye to ethics allegations. We're a party that values principle and honor, and Mollohan's temporarily resignation from the Ethics Committee was the right thing to do.
Shiite leaders selected Jawad al-Maliki, a hard-line and outspoken Shiite leader, to replace the outgoing prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari. The move could resolve a two-month-long political deadlock that has worsened Iraq's precarious security situation and contributed to an increase of sectarian killings across the nation.
Officials with rival political blocs said tonight that despite earlier misgivings about Mr. Maliki they intended to support him when the Iraqi Parliament convenes on Saturday afternoon.
. . . Just one day ago, Sunni Arab leaders and Kurdish officials had expressed a preference for the other Shiite politician who had been considered a strong candidate for nomination as prime minister, Ali al-Adeeb. They had described Mr. Maliki as too sectarian and inflexible to win wide support among other political groups.
. . . Expressing hope that the nation can finally move forward with forming a new government, rival political leaders said they intended to support Mr. Maliki. "We don't have many options, and we would like to push the political process forward," said Tareq al-Hashemi, leader of the Iraqi Consensus Front, the largest Sunni Arab political coalition.
Nice words. Wonder what the insurgents think.
'Crackdown' to take place on companies employing illegal immigrants
The Bush administration announced today a new strategy to 'crack down' on companies employing illegal immigrants. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that law enforcement officials will use all the tools they have, "whether it be criminal enforcement or immigration laws to break the back" of businesses that exploit undocumented immigrants. "We're looking at them in the same way we look at criminal organizations," he added.
23 candidates to compete in New Orleans mayoral race
Residents of New Orleans will vote Saturday in one of the "oddest mayoral elections in US history." The election will be "a contest to pick the person who will oversee the Crescent City's comeback fight." Incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin has drawn 22 challengers in his bid for re-election, which has been postponed nearly three months in order to give election officials more time to prepare.
Federal Civil Rights case to begin
The US Justice Department will join federal investigators who are looking into the beating of a biracial man. Yesterday, a jury acquitted three white former police officers of most state charges. US Attorney Steven Biskupic in Miwaukee, WI said that his office is looking into possible federal charges in the case, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that the Justice Department's civil rights division and Buskupic's office will jointly decide whether or not to file charges.
Source: Democracy for America
By David Swanson Congresswomen Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee will host a hearing on the Iraq War next Thursday, April 27, in 2325 Rayburn House Office Building (with an overflow room planned for anyone wanting to attend who can’t fit in). The two Co-Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are continuing to do what the “leadership” [...]
Source: Prog. Dems of America
Yesterday, Planned Parenthood sent an e-mail alert about "crisis pregnancy centers," headed by dangerous anti-choice zealots, that pose as official medical centers in order to lure inside women considering abortions.
Such fake clinics generally have neutral-sounding names and run ads that falsely promise the full range of reproductive health services, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said. Instead, they dispense anti-choice propaganda and use intimidation tactics and rhetoric to pressure women to see through their pregnancies, no matter the cost.
An example of such rhetoric ran in a New York Times article published in January about fake women's health clinics. Danielle, an 18-year old woman turned to one of such clinics, hoping they would be able to guide her through an incredibly difficult decision. She was pregnant, and both her boyfriend and her mother were in favor of her terminating the pregnancy. She was on the fence, but felt that her boyfriend's insistence might lead her to give in."How would you feel toward him if you did abort?" asked Hollie Colwick, a registered diagnostic medical sonographer, showing Danielle an ultrasound image of her uterus on a television screen, and playing the fetal heartbeat on an audio speaker. "Would you feel you killed your baby because of him?" Such an elaborate display could only come from zealots with a radical, religious agenda, not the professionals that Planned Parenthood offers. It's disturbing that a licensed medical professional like Colwick would be willing to use her expertise to force her peronal and religious beliefs on patients.
Besides intimidation rhetoric, these fake clinics also offer fake medical information. A national network of "crisis pregnancy centers" share marketing strategies, legal advice, and literature that emphasizes the "harmful effects" of abortion. These so-called harmful effects include an increased risk of breast cancer and a psychological condition called "postabortion syndrome." Not surprisingly, neither are scientifically supported by the National Cancer Institute or the American Psychological Association.
Frighteningly, the New York Times reported that there are more of these fake clinics in the US than there are actual abortion providers. This means that a woman's chances of ending up at a "crisis pregnancy center" by mistake are dangerously high. (And it's happened before.)
One "crisis pregnancy center" in Indiana even poses as a Planned Parenthood clinic, having set-up shop next door to the actual Planned Parenthood clinic. Their buildings even share a parking lot. This set-up proved disastrous when an Indiana mother accompanying her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend to Planned Parenthood ended up at the "crisis pregnancy center" across the way. What the fake clinic's staff did to this poor girl was disturbing.The group took down the girl's confidential personal information and told her to come back for her appointment, which they said would be in their "other office" (the real Planned Parenthood office nearby). When she arrived for her appointment, not only did the Planned Parenthood staff have no record of her, but the police were there -- the "crisis pregnancy center" had called them, claiming that a minor was being forced to have an abortion against her will.
The "crisis pregnancy center" staff then proceeded to wage a campaign of intimidation and harassment over the following days, showing up at the girl's home and calling her father's workplace. Our clinic director reports that she was "scared to death to leave her house." They even went to her school and urged classmates to pressure her not to have an abortion.
I fully support Planned Parenthood and everything they do. I have volunteered for them in the past, and I take action on all of their issues. I deeply admire and respect the women and men who work there. As much as the above story points out the cruelty among those religious zealots who harassed this young woman to the point that she felt "afraid to leave her house," it skips over a major oversight on behalf of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Indiana.
Why didn't the Planned Parenthood clinic distinguish themselves from the "crisis pregnancy center" they share a parking lot with? I understand that the "crisis pregnancy center" staff would probably have torn down or destroyed any signs Planned Parenthood might have erected. But, if churches can depend on their parishioners to harass Planned Parenthood's patients on-site, then shouldn't Planned Parenthood be able to depend on its network of activists to guide patients safely into the clinic they meant to visit?
However, the responsibility to distinguish themselves from such groups should not fall entirely on Planned Parenthood's shoulders. Cecile Richards said that the Bush administration has used $60 million of taxpayer's money to fund these fake clinics, staffed by dangerous and cruel zealots that could care less about providing sound medical advice.
A bill has just been introduced in Congress to stop the dangerous, fraudulent practices of fake clinics, Richards said. The bill would make it illegal for any entity to advertise abortion services without the intention to provide them. The bill desperately needs our support, so I strongly urge you to contact your representative.
Source: Democracy for America
These, however, are from this week's issue of the well-respected Science magazine. Their editorial points out:
THE STARTLING SPREAD OF H5N1 ACROSS MUCH OF THE GLOBE HIGHLIGHTS OUR vulnerability to the emergence of novel subtypes of influenza virus. Yet despite our fears of pandemic human disease, H5N1 is primarily a disease of birds. Olsen and colleagues (p. 384) outline the unseen network of influenza among migratory birds that spans Earth. H5N1 has engendered alarm not only because it is unusually virulent, laying waste to poultry and causing severe economic losses for farmers, but also because it can, with some difficulty, infect humans and other mammals. So far, the virus has killed more than half of the nearly 200 people known to have been infected.
It's interesting that ANY discussion of bird flu engenders a reflex "fear/hype" response amongst some posters, (and the usual media culprits) as if the very existence of the discussion (and the provision of neutral information) is an affront to propriety. For example, here's a simulation from the Los Alamos National Laboratory on Avian Flu infection dynamics should 10 people be found positive in a major America City like Los Angeles. The low probability, high impact nature of the Quicktime movie simulation speaks for itself. But as the Science editorial goes on to say:
An energetic response to H5N1 does not have to be alarmist. [emphasis mine] We can marshal existing concern about this particular strain of avian influenza to build a long-lasting international infrastructure to monitor and thwart threats from such emerging infections.
And Americans are concerned. They're a little concerned about bird flu (or the pandemic flu version) and very concerned about the government's abitilty to deal. This AP-Ipsos poll points out that Only half of Americans are confident their government will deal effectively with the bird flu if it reaches the U.S., and they want strong steps including human quarantine and closed schools if there's an outbreak in the population, according to a poll.
The AP-Ipsos survey, out Friday, found widespread expectation that birds will become infected in this country in the next year, as the government predicts. One third worry someone in their family will get it.
The Economist has a good piece on whether Democrats can pull it together and win in 2006. (You can read the whole piece by watching their ad.)
The Republicans are so unpopular that any semi-competent opposition party should be sauntering to victory in the mid-term elections in November. Only 36% of Americans think George Bush is doing a good job as president. Even Republican states are lukewarm: his approval rating is above 50% only in Idaho, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming. And Americans like the Republican-led Congress even less: a paltry 23% of them approve of its performance.
With America mired in Iraq and the Republicans mired in scandal, the Democrats have plenty of large, slow-moving targets to aim at. When they accuse Mr Bush of valuing loyalty above competence, he obligingly refuses to sack Donald Rumsfeld, the bungler-in-chief in Iraq. When they decry the ruling party's "culture of corruption", people think of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a bribe-trousering ex-congressman whose marble-topped commode was among many ill-gotten items the FBI auctioned last month.
Yet Pat Oliphant, the cartoonist who drew the muddled mice, is not the only one to doubt the potency of the Democrats. "For the Americans in the middle, who have no strong partisan allegiances, we have failed to articulate a real plan or vision," say Markos Moulitsas Zúniga and Jerome Armstrong, two of the most popular Democratic bloggers. "It's not that people know what we stand for and disagree; it's that they have no idea what we stand for," say James Carville and Paul Begala, two of the architects of Bill Clinton's winning presidential campaign in 1992. The junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, one of the Democrats' most admired politicians, has tried to make a joke of it. "You hear this constant refrain from our critics that Democrats don't stand for anything," he remarked the other day. "That's really unfair. We do stand for anything."
Democrats in DC think that keeping their mouths shut and letting the country see the GOP debacle in all its glory will earn them dramatic gains. The corrosive consultants whisper in their ears that taking a strong stance will only earn them enemies, galvanize partisan Democrats to turn out. So they remain in relative silence. Heck, even admonishing Dems like Russ Feingold who have the temerity to speak out against the disaster in DC.
But silence doesn't motivate. People ARE seeing that Republicans can't govern. There's no way around that. What they AREN'T seeing is how Democrats will be any different. How they offer change.
The GOP WILL motivate its voters come November. They'll rail on abortion and gays and scary brown people crossing the southern border and how Democrats want to take their Bibles away. And their core supporters will turn out. And Democrats, unless they realize that they need to inspire, will find those huge gains will fail to materialize.
You cannot have leadership without offending someone. Someone once said you could measure Bobby Kennedy's greatness by the number of enemies he had. George Bush and Karl Rove know this, and they don't care who they offend as they seek to inspire and motivate their core supporters.
DC Democrats are afraid to lead. They're afraid to inspire. They're afraid to offend. They're afraid to clearly state their core principles. They're simply afraid.
And that better change soon.
(Click here to view cartoon full size.)
TalkLeft's Jeralyn wrote about my visit to Denver at one of her blogging outposts, 5,280 (a magazine about Denver). Wednesday night, at an event sponsored by Drinking Liberally, it seemed half of the Denver activist community was on hand, with just about every congressional challenger.
All three of the CO-07 Dems (facing off in a primary) were there -- Ed Perlmutter, Her Rubenstein, and Peggy Lamm. And it was nice to see that all three seemed to like each other. Angie Paccione, running against the hateful Marylin Musgrave in CO-04, and Bill Winter, running against the hateful Tom Tancredo in CO-06, were also there. And of course, as I mentioned earlier, I met Jay Fawcett in Boulder on Tuesday.
I also met state Rep. Morgan Carroll, who proudly recounted how she won her Republican-leaning district by being unapologetic about the values that fueled her progressive political outlook. As she recounted, people who were ready to shut the door on her because she was pro-choice ended up sporting lawn signs in her support once they got to know her. She is now at the top of the Colorado GOP hit list for this fall's elections, so it'll be interesting to see whether her strong progressiveness continues to sell in that conservative district.
Given national trends and the growing blueness of Colorado (in huge part due to the great work by the state's activist community like Progress Now, and its forward-thinking issue groups), we could very well see us taking two of those three seats and seeing the state's congressional delegation go from 4-3 Republican, to 5-2 Democratic. Colorado really is a kick-ass place, both from a natural beauty standpoint, and from a political standpoint. They are truly pointing the way forward
Jerome has now joined me in Los Angeles where we'll be making our way up the cost through the weekend. Tonight, we have two public events:
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The Club 310 event is with the California Clean Money Campaign, which is seeking to bring Arizona- and Maine-style public financing to California elections.
On Saturday we'll be in Santa Barbara, on Sunday we'll be in Pacific Grove, and on Monday in Menlo Park. Jerome may squeeze in an event in San Jose Sunday night though I won't be available for that. Jerome then heads home while I continue on alone to Salt Lake City on Tuesday and Nashville on Thursday before some much-needed down-time.
For events and more book tour events, check out the Crashing the Gate website.
The Black Commentator www.blackcommentator.com April 20, 2006 - Issue 180 ‘New Orleans is our Gettysburg’ A Generation’s Defining Event by BC Publishers Glen Ford and Peter Gamble This Saturday’s elections in New Orleans represent yet another element of the vast crime committed against Black America. With as many as 300,000 residents, overwhelmingly African American, strewn about the country in government-engineered exile, [...]
Source: Prog. Dems of America
Jerome a Paris points us to this "interesting" piece.
In it, Daniel Henninger, Deputy Editor of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page, wrote:
At the risk of enabling, does the Internet mean that all the rest of us are being made unwitting participants in the personal and political life of, um, crazy people?
I wondered whether the insane dominated political discourse LONG BEFORE the advent of the Internet. For example, this story, that was legitimized by the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page, made me wonder for the sanity of those who took it seriously:
Among the allegations spread by Citizens for Honest Government's paid "expert witnesses" was that Bill Clinton, as governor of Arkansas, provided protection for the cocaine trade.
. . . [W]hat ultimately legitimized the allegations was a series of editorials and articles on the subject that appeared in 1994 on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. Rep. Jim Leach, (R-Iowa), chairman of the House Banking Committee, acknowledged in an interview in the fall of l996 that he had directed his committee staff to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the Mena allegations after first reading about them in the Wall Street Journal.
(Emphasis supplied.) And of course, for 8 long years, the insanity of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Pages was so pervasive AND contagious that our political life was "unwittingly" made captive to their insanity. When Clinton left office in January 2001, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page had a head explosion, calling for Clinton's indictment:
In an extraordinary editorial published January 5,  the Wall Street Journal has demanded that Independent Counsel Robert Ray indict President Clinton on criminal charges as soon as he leaves the White House. The page-length diatribe in the leading US right-wing newspaper is headlined "Yes, Indict Clinton."
(Emphasis supplied.) So Henninger makes a good point - we must be careful not to allow THAT type of insanity to dominate our political discourse again.
(Bumped because these numbers are nothing short of dramatic, from our top Republican targets, to Bush's favorite Democrat himself -- kos.)
This month's SUSA Senate polling features some fun facts. For instance, did you know who has the highest ratings among the U.S. Senate? That would be Ben Nelson, at 73% approval. Actually, this is something that should strike a tiny bit of terror in the hearts of Republicans everywhere. Seven out of the 10 most popular Senators are Democrats. What's more, the other three are Collins, Snowe, and Jeffords. Out of the top 20 most popular Senators, 13 are Democrats.
Among those races of particular interest to us, seven GOP Senators running for reelection this year are below 50%: Kyl (45%), Burns (39%), Santorum (39%), Talent (48%), DeWine (48%), and Ensign at 49%. And only two Senators have disapproval ratings over 50% - Conrad Burns and Rick Santorum. Both Burns and Santorum have net negative approval ratings in the double digits. Santorum's net approval rating fell nine points to negative 14, the highest net disapproval rating of all 100 senators. In the last month, Kyl's disapproval rating jumped from 36% to 42%. Talent's net approval rating fell from 13 to just 5 points, with 43% of Missourians expressing their disappointment with their Senator.
On our side, ctblogger looks closely at Lieberman's numbers, comparing them to last month's:
(3/13/06) 49% approve, 41% disapprove, 10% undecided
(3/13/06) 56% approve, 35% disapprove, 8% undecided
Is it the Lamont campaign making a dent? Lieberman's willingness to jump the Democratic ship to keep his seat? Or his undying love for a president who has a 27% approval rating in Connecticut? Either way, Lieberman has to be pretty worried.
Update [2006-4-21 1:17:13 by mcjoan]: Stealing from DavidNYC over at Swing State: Look again at Lieberman's performance among indies. Notice anything? It stands at 53-41 - a point worse than his approval among Dems! And Joe didn't just "take a hit" (as I say above) with independents - he utterly cratered in the last month. He was at 63-29, a 34-point spread. Since then, he dropped a whopping 22 points to just +12 - his fall with Dems was only from +21 to +13. I'm not sure what bearing this might have on the primary, but the numbers are pretty stunning in my mind.
Help Needy Monterey Families and Children
Children's Services International is a unique and wonderful local non-profit that serves homeless and low-income families and children throughout Monterey County. csichildcare.org
Call to participate 3-6pm PT:
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