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March 16, 2006

From NYPopulist:

Besides the typical shortcomings that any Republican budget bill has, this one has a particularly alarming problem: ANWR is in it and because it's a budget bill, we can't filibuster.

We need to call the 41 anti-drilling Dems (and Jeffords) and tell them to vote it down because of ANWR.  Same goes for Chafee, Coleman, DeWine, McCain, Smith, Snowe, and Collins (gonna need some more convincing for McCain and Smith especially).

We need to call Burns, Ensign, and Coburn and tell them to vote it down because of the debt ceiling amendment and fiscal responsibility (as noted in the previous comment).

We need to call Akaka and tell him to vote down the budget because his amendment was not agreed to and subsequently, there isn't enough money for veterans in the bill.

Some others who are likely or may vote down the budget are Voinovich and Specter.

Etc, etc, etc.

In my opinion, the key votes will be: Landrieu, Akaka, Inouye, Specter, Snowe, Collins, McCain, Smith, Burns, Ensign, and Coburn.  Call these Senators and tell them to oppose this disastrous budget!

There's plenty in this bill to fight. Use this diary to coordinate.

Categories: Blogs

  • If the administration was pinning all its hopes on the Iraqi Parliament to provide some good news as a backdrop to today's massive air assault, they will be disappointed.
    The long-expected first session, which took place within days of the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion, lasted just over 30 minutes and was adjourned indefinitely because the legislature still has no speaker.

  • The GAO has completed an audit on government contracts for Katrina relief. Here's a surprise.
    WASHINGTON - The government wasted millions of dollars in its award of post-Katrina contracts, including at least $3 million for 4,000 beds that were never used, auditors said Thursday.

    The full report will be released later today.

  • NYPopulist reports that Cantwell and Kerry have decided not to offer their amendment to strip the Arctic drilling provision from the budget bill, instead hoping to focus the effort on defeating the entire bill. It might not be a bad move, as a number of Republicans are not happy with this budget bill as a whole, and at least one has gone on record as saying they'd oppose it if it included drilling in the Arctic.

    Already, four Republicans -- Mike DeWine and George Voinovich of Ohio, Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island -- have declared their opposition to it. Two more GOP defections would sink the budget, assuming every Democrat and Independent Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords vote against it. Specter said Tuesday he might vote "nay" even if his amendment boosting education and health research is adopted.

  • In case you were wondering how committed the wingnuts are to curtailing the rights of women, look no further than the Missouri House, which is refusing to fund family planning and certain women's health services. Here's the reasoning of one genious representative.
    "If you hand out contraception to single women, we're saying promiscuity is OK as a state, and I am not in support of that," Phillips, R-Kansas City, said in an interview.

  • The latest SUSA poll has Bush in positive approval ratings in just three states, Utah, Wyoming, and Alabama. with a net-positive approval in 7 states, but over 50 in just 3 -- Utah, Wyoming, and Alabama. (Sorry for the confusion on that.) He's just breaking even in Idaho (go Idaho -- I know you can do better!).

  • Lo and behold, some more improvements to the new comment system, particularly for users of Firefox on Macs.

Categories: Blogs
The New York Times this morning gleefully claimed that the censure move is rallying Bush's base (Read Digby's excellent take on it here).  From Soledad O'Brien to the NYT to the pundits on TV who snickered and sneered when Feingold made his announcement, the press has minimized the story.  During this morning's press conference, Senator Feingold put the press in its place:

FEINGOLD: It seems to me appropriate, when the spin machines are out there and people are using various language, to come out and reiterate my reasons for doing this.

I think that the press decided immediately that somehow this was a bad thing for Democrats and a good thing for  conservatives. The facts don't bear it out. You don't have the polls to prove it. The way my colleagues are responding to me suggests to me they're thinking about this, that they feel that there has to be some accountability.

So the instant decision about what the story is, actually, I think is going to backfire on those who made up the story. I don't get the feeling that I had on Monday about this -- yes, people were concerned -- I'm not getting that.

And if the right wing really believes in this country that -- Rush Limbaugh and others -- that they can somehow turn the president's reputation around by saying, "You're darn right he violated the law, and it's a good thing," I think they're just as confused as they are about their Iraq politics. People aren't buying it anymore.

So not only do I not regret it, I felt an absolute obligation to do it.

Senator Feingold is correct. There are no polls to support the contention that censuring the President for his lawlessness would negatively affect Democrats. Indeed, in the first poll out on censure, 46% of Americans agree with the resolution, compared to 44% who do not.  There are 10% who are undecided.  From the way the media has portrayed censure, you would think we would see Dubai-like numbers with opposition at 80%.  But the American people want accountability.  

The discussion about the President's violation of the law is just beginning. As the truth unfolds, the American people will realize that this President broke the law, and possibly invaded their privacy on a grand scale.  Will the media report on those numbers? As Chris Bowers notes, "Let's see how many news outlets are willing to actually report on facts and scientific surveys of public opinion on this story, and how many are just willing to write stories filled with "truthiness" and anecdotes.""

Categories: Blogs
The fiscal irresponsibility of the GOP strikes again:

March 16 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Congress approved a $781 billion increase in the federal government's debt limit, the fourth time lawmakers have raised the cap since President George W. Bush took office.

The Senate voted 52-48 to increase the legal limit on federal borrowing to $8.97 trillion, up from $8.18 trillion. The House approved the measure last year, meaning the legislation now goes to the president for his signature.

52-48.  Every single Democrat voted against imposing this financial burden on working Americans. Every. Single. One.

While Democrats are united in reigning in the  out-of-control and reckless spending of this President, the Republican Party couldn't care less about our financial security.  The rubber-stamp Republicans have increased the government's debt four times since President Bush took office , adding an additional $2.23 trillion cushion.   The debt limit now stands at a record $8.965 trillion.  TRILLION. The number boggles the mind.  Even Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg confessed "It's hard to understand what a trillion is. I don't know what it is."  What isn't hard to understand is that if voters want a change, if they want adults controlling the nation's purse, the only party that can restore fiscal sanity is the Democratic Party.

Update: Only three Republicans voted with the Democrats. Burns (R-MT), Ensign (R-NV), and Coburn (R-OK). Hat tip to dannyinla for the link.

Categories: Blogs
From MSNBC we get the breaking news:
50 aircraft, 1,500 soldiers attack targets north of Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military said on Thursday it had launched its biggest air offensive in Iraq since the 2003 invasion of the country.

A military statement said the operation involving more than 50 aircraft and 1,500 Iraqi and U.S. troops as well as 200 tactical vehicles targeted suspected insurgents operating in Salah ad din, located 60 miles north of Baghdad.

How many hearts and minds will this win? An in-depth Knight Ridder from a few days ago casts grave doubts on this strategy:

Osama Jadaan al Dulaimi, a tribal leader in the western town of Karabilah, a town near the Syrian border that was hit with bombs or missiles on at least 17 days between October 2005 and February 2006, said the bombings had created enemies.

"The people of Karabilah hate the foreigners who crossed the border and entered their areas and got into a fight with the Americans," al Dulaimi said. "The residents now also hate the American occupiers who demolished their houses with bombs and killed their families ... and now the people of Karabilah want to join the resistance against the Americans for what they did."

The Knight Ridder article is worth a full read as we await news from Iraq.

Shock. Awe. Death. And the amazing destruction and intimidation of aerial weaponry.

Categories: Blogs
Slowly, Senators are publicly standing up against the President's blatant lawlessness:  Senators Feingold, Harkin, Boxer are confirmed to support censure. Senators Kerry and Menendez are possible supporters as well.  

As for the rest of the Senate Democrats, I can only imagine what has transpired in the last few days.  Meeting in locked rooms in huddled groups, whispering about how to deal with this "situation." The phone lines in D.C. are burning up as they contact their consultants, the Dan Gersteins of the world who advise them to delay, delay, distract, distract, and maybe the "situation" will go away.  "Distance yourself from the angry bloggers," I bet is a mantra repeated by those consultants. "You don't want to appear extreme," they probably claim.  Never mind that censure is one of the most reasonable and prudent steps a Senator can take in the face of the President's extraordinary crimes.  If you've wondered why the Democrats have been so silent, it is because they're consulting--with polls (though not the ones that say 52% support impeachment, or the ones that say 77% don't buy the unitary executive theory); with mealy-mouthed consultants; with other Democrats who are pissed off Feingold sprung this on them; with the D.C. establishment who with chuckles and an obliviousness to the gravity of the situation asks them "how are you going to get out of this one?"

That process of appeasement and slipping away into the shadows is the root of our minority status.  Democrats, there is one consultation to be had on this issue: a consultation with your conscience. Lock yourself alone in a room, take the phone off the hook, and pull out a copy of the Constitution.  Hold that fiber of our democracy in your hands.  Feel how such a light piece of paper has managed to carry the weight of national chaos, year after year,war after war for over 200 years.  Hold it in your hands, and ask yourself: am I prepared to rip this into pieces? Are your trembling hands willing to shred it and let the tattered remains of our democracy fall silently to your feet?

Consult your conscience.  The censure resolution will fail in the full Congress, but the success to be had is that the Democratic Party, in unison and in unwaivering voice, declares that the rule of law still means something in the United States of America.  That our party is not willing to unravel the Constitution thread by thread to weave the Emperor's clothes.  

The "angry bloggers" that your consultants warn you about are "angry" because we're not ready to toss the Constitution into the fire.  We're the ones who you will ask to vote for you in upcoming elections. We're the ones you will send fundraising emails too. We're the ones you rely on to get out the vote. And we're the ones urging you to consult your conscience--and nothing more--on this critical issue.

And we'll keep urging you, day after day, to side with the rule of law and not the lawbreaker. So come on, citizens, let's remind the Senators of their oath, and let's get more than five Senators to save our Constitution.


Update: To clarify, the above is speculation on my part about what may be going on behind the scenes. It's not to imply that Senators aren't consulting their conscience. I'm sure they are. But it's possible that in the days and weeks to come, they'll also be bombarding with such advice, as has happened in the past. I would hope that the decision is based on what feels right, rather than what they're told is right. As for actually making that decision, it will take some time. Don't get frustrated by the undecideds. This is going to be a prolonged discussion, and a discussion our country needs to have.

Categories: Blogs

Been a little intense around here lately.  Anyone in the mood for some late-night snark? Okay then...

"Everybody excited about March Madness...the big NCAA tournament?  Here's how it works: It starts at 65, then 64, then 32, then 16.  It's just like Bush's approval rating."
---David Letterman:


"The Sopranos are a lot like the Bush administration. There are wiretaps, people going to jail, and the second-in-command accidentally shoots his best friend."
---Jay Leno


"Pentagon records show that at least 8,000 members of the all-volunteer U.S. military have deserted since the Iraq war began.  Hey, at least somebody has an exit strategy."
---Tina Fey


"More people, particularly Republicans, disapprove of President Bush's performance. They're questioning his character now and they no longer consider him a strong leader on terrorism. Apparently there's a little more to this whole presidency thing than just not getting blown."
 ---Bill Maher


"The other day new-age musician Yanni was arrested for fighting with his girlfriend.  Not to be outdone, John Tesh and Kenny G have gone on a killing spree."
---Conan O'Brien

And now take a deeeep breath.  And hold it.  Hold it.  Hold it.  Keep holding.  Cheers and Jeers starts in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!]  RIGHTNOW!  [Gong!!]

Categories: Blogs
Via Atrios:

All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent.--Cal Thomas [Conservative elitist blowhard]

In Cal's tradition, let's do just that:

[Link] "Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints." (Fox News Channel's Tony Snow, 4/27/03)
"The only people who think this wasn't a victory are Upper Westside liberals, and a few people here in Washington." (Charles Krauthammer, Inside Washington, WUSA-TV, 4/19/03)
"We're all neo-cons now."  (MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)
"I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week. Are you willing to take that wager?" (Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 1/29/03)

Here's a winner:

"I'm waiting to hear the words 'I was wrong' from some of the world's most elite journalists, politicians and Hollywood types.... I just wonder, who's going to be the first elitist to show the character to say: 'Hey, America, guess what? I was wrong'? (MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 4/10/03)

Good point Joe, let us know when you and your fellow elitists are going to admit you were wrong. But don't stop with saying it to 'America'. How about all you media cheerleaders say you were wrong during your routine ratings whore visits to Walter Reed, to the faces of each and every injured man and woman, and to each Gold Star Family member? Compared to the price paid by almost twenty-thousand US Service People, that's not asking for too much character, is it? For more anniversary memories, see this superb post by Meteorblades.

Categories: Blogs

March 15, 2006

  • The battle over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge continues as the Senate takes up the budget bill Thursday. Republicans shoehorned the drilling provision into the budget resolution because budget bills can't be filibustered. Senators Kerry and Cantwell will introduce legislation to strip the provision from the bill.

  • Speaking of the budget bill, it could "increase the national debt by an additional $781 billion, to $9 trillion."
    The debt limit bill is the fourth such measure required since Bush took office five years ago. If approved, the latest version would mean that the debt had grown over that span from about $6 trillion to $9 trillion -- about $30,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

  • Taylor Marsh, guest posting at Crooks & Liars, has come up with a great contest: "EDWARD R. MURROW for a MINUTE". Come up with your best "Murrowism" on a current issue and compete to win a DVD copy of "Good Night and Good Luck."

  • Even Jessica Simpson is smart enough to distance herself from Bush, "a snub that left Republicans dismayed." That's just so sad.

  • Maybe Simpson has been watching the polls. As Olbermann pointed out tonight (you DID watch, didn't you?) Bush is at 37% in the just-released NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. What's more, "26 percent of respondents surveyed said they believe the nation is headed in the right direction, a tie from the previous Bush administration low."

  • The Culture of Corruption has even hit Idaho. Like Republicans need to be corrupt to get elected there. Crapo has taken in more campaign money from residents of the Virgin Islands, $39,000 by the end of the 2005-06 election cycle, than Idahoans--under $20,000. And the story that has my dad (kossack Old Timer) really excited, details $43,500 received by Craig from contributors connected with Cunningham. The Idaho Statesman has done a good job of tying donations to legislation sponsored by Craig. Unfortunately, they haven't put that information online. Once this was all found out, Craig donated the money to charity. Not that it helps right now, neither being up this cycle, but we can always look ahead.

Categories: Blogs
Today, Condoleezza Rice called Iran "the central banker of terrorism." Tomorrow, Stephen Hadley will give a speech and release a revised 49-page National Security Strategy, reaffirming the doctrine of preemptive war.

Hadley will give his speech - I kid you not - at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

From the Washington Post (tomorrow's edition):

In his revised version, Bush offers no second thoughts about the preemption policy, saying it "remains the same" and defending it as necessary for a country in the "early years of a long struggle" akin to the Cold War. In a nod to critics in Europe, the document places a greater emphasis on working with allies and declares diplomacy to be "our strong preference" in tackling the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

Ah, back to the good old days of the Cold War. McCarthyism. Bogeymen. Black lists.

Security experts interviewed by the Post are none too thrilled.

"Preemption is and always will be a potentially useful tool, but it's not something you want to trot out and throw in everybody's face," said Harlan Ullman, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "To have a strategy on preemption and make it central is a huge error."

But where would the Bush administration be without trotting threats out and throwing it in everybody's face? Hasn't that been the grand design of diplomacy for the past few years?

Just to clear up any confusion about what country or countries we're getting in the world's face about, the National Security Strategy report makes it clear:

Without saying what action would be taken against them, the strategy singles out seven nations as prime examples of "despotic systems" -- North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe. Iran and North Korea receive special attention because of their nuclear programs, and the strategy vows in both cases "to take all necessary measures" to protect the United States against them.
"We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran," the document says, echoing a statement made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week. It recommits to efforts with European allies to pressure Tehran to give up any aspirations of nuclear weapons, then adds ominously: "This diplomatic effort must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided."

We have all been here before .... We have all been here before .... Come to think of it, Bush has shown a partiality for spring invasions ....

Categories: Blogs
HR 1606 was pulled after the Rules committee failed to come to a compromise on how to address the bill.

The "reformers" and their allies in Congress want a floor vote on the CDT bill (HR 4900).

HR 1606 went through hearings and much debate. But when it was brought up in Congress under suspension rules, opponents wailed that this was a gross violation of House etiquette (as Pelosi's office told me). It was merely a procedural disagreement, I was told.

Now, after HR 1606 has gone through the whole process, those hypocritical opponents are now pushing the CDT bill as an alternative, even though it hasn't gone through committee hearings and it hasn't been properly debated. And it looks like Pelosi is right there with them.

What we are asking is not unreasonable --

  1. Pass HR 1606 to preserve the status quo and preempt potentially crippling FEC regulations (which they are under court order to produce).

  2. Run the CDT bill through the normal legislative process. None of us are reflexively opposed to it. It's just that NO ONE has had the time to properly vet it.

That's it. Seems simple enough, right?

Yet the "reformer" groups, the same people who have overtly vowed to destroy this site, are suddenly running to the CDT bill. Why do so if it supposedly doesn't affect the very site they've set out to destroy? This has nothing to do with CDT, whose intentions I don't doubt. It's the Fred Wertheimers and Carol Darrs who I don't trust.

And despite Adam's call for them to guarantee they wouldn't use the CDT bill to attack Daily Kos, the only response has been silence.

I will not stand for attacks on a medium based on fantasies, when reality clearly shows that those problems do not (currently) exist. I have a responsibility and duty to this medium, and I will fight to protect all of us who operate in this space.

Given time and proper study, we may find that the CDT bill is actually not cause for concern and I'll drop my opposition. But we need that time for proper study. Rushing it into the floor of the House, bypassing the committee process and avoiding substantive debate and testimony is NOT the way to do it.

Update: Congress is in recess next week, so unless the FEC does another delay (and it should), we'll be seeing regulations next week.

Update II: Adam gives a great rundown of what happened today in the comments.

This much, we know: Congress has had since September 18, 2004 to tell the FEC and the courts that it never intended for political activity on the Internet to be regulated, or that they prefered that it be regulated in a certain way. The FEC, in turn, has afforded Congress every opportunity to speak on these issues and stalled as long as it could to allow the legislature to act first. Congress has abdicated this responsibility. They failed to speak. They punted.

It could make one wonder: was anyone serious in Congress about this? Did those supporting HR 1606 really want it to pass, or did they just want to look good in front of netroots on the right and left? Did the "reformers" really support a CDT proposal which would have granted some significant boosts to blogger freedoms, or did they only care about scuttling HR 1606?

Do not listen to what they say; watch what they do. For all their talk about caring about bloggers, the members of Congress has failed to protect bloggers from FEC regulation or guide the regulatory process in any way. Next Thursday, the FEC will now fill their silence with rules and regulations, and it will be up to Congress again to decide whether it cares to do anything about it.

Categories: Blogs
No link yet, but here's what she says. "I'm staying. I'm in this race. I'm going to win." She's going to put all of her own money ($10 mill?) into the race.

This is the best news I've heard all day. And now I can turn off Fox News.

Update [2006-3-15 21:42:36 by mcjoan]: What are they saying in Florida? Republicans can't be too thrilled must be crying in their pina coladas with this. Here's a story from the Palm Beach Post today: J. M. "Mac" Stipanovich, a Republican lobbyist and political consultant, said he thinks Harris will stay in the race.

"I have not talked to her or anyone in her campaign. I'm just sifting the tea leaves like everyone else," he said, adding that it would not make sense for Harris to go to New York to announce she was getting out. . . .

Rumors also are flying that Harris will resign from her congressional seat and pump $5 million to $10 million of her own cash into the campaign....

Stipanovich said if Harris stays in the race she will still have trouble defeating incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson because her campaign "is fundamentally flawed, and putting more money into is not going to fix that."

Categories: Blogs
Markos did a great job on Countdown.  I'm sure there will be clips circulating soon.  Here's another open thread for you guys. Enjoy.

Update [2006-3-15 21:16:35 by mcjoan]: CanOFun has the video. Thanks cof!

Next up, Harris on whether she's staying in. I'm actually watching Fox to see this. And I know Drudge has reported she's still in. I'm not posting it 'til I hear it out of her own grotesquely overly lip-sticked mouth.

Categories: Blogs
I'm headed out to a studio in Hartford to do Keith Olbermann's show tonight, via satellite.

And I've been away from my computer for long stretches of time, so I've lost track of how well the comments transition has gone. So take the poll.

Categories: Blogs
Continuing lickety-split down the road of militarization of civilian life - and turning what used to be considered straightforward law enforcement policies into gung-ho, army-oriented problem solving - CBC News brings us the latest:

For the first time since 1817, U.S. Coast Guard vessels on the Great Lakes are being outfitted with weapons - machine-guns capable of firing 600 bullets a minute.
The Rush-Bagot Treaty of 1817 allowed each country to station four vessels, each equipped with an 18-pound cannon, to safeguard the Great Lakes. The antiquated treaty has recently been reinterpreted because of U.S. concerns about customs violations, human smuggling and international terrorism.
Each vessel is now equipped with a 7.62-mm machine-gun, a light military gun that is the same calibre as a deer rifle but capable of shooting 600 bullets per minute.
Under the reinterpretation, which both sides say honours the spirit of the original treaty, vessels may be outfitted with machine-guns of sizes up to .50-calibre. That would be big enough to bring down a helicopter and shoot through a light-armoured vehicle.

Funny how the Bush administration, chock full of people who declined to serve in the operating theater of a war when they had the chance, seem so enamored with finding military-style solutions to various domestic policing problems.

Feel safer yet?

Update: Many wise commenters here have made me re-think this news article and view it as not a bad thing. I think what so alarmed me when first reading the article was the last sentence in the blockquote ... that weapons are authorized under this treaty that would bring down helicopters or shoot through an armed vehicle.

However, the combined knowledge and great discussion has changed my view of this. The Coast Guard is a superbly trained force (and as one wise commenter pointed out, one of the few agencies involved in Katrina that seemed to know what it was doing).

Thanks for opening up my eyes and mind, particuliarly: chemsmith, TheCrank, snookybeh, JeffSCinNY, Mike S, dannyinla, bosdcla14, Roosevelt Democrat, BoyWonder, Chris Andersen, The Baculum King, bohdi777, catleigh, marksb, philgoblue, lesliet and sterno.

You all are why I love this place.

Categories: Blogs

March 13, 2006

Still searching for rock bottom.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released on Monday put President George W. Bush's approval rating at 36 percent, a new low for that poll but similar to his rating in other recent surveys.

The poll, taken Friday through Saturday, showed Bush's approval rating dropped from 38 percent in late February-early March, while his disapproval rating remained steady at 60 percent.

Categories: Blogs
One of the potential benefits to the Feingold Censure Resolution, besides standing up for the Constitution, the rule of law, and our system of government  (like anyone in the DC establishment [sorry for the offense to DC citizens] actually cares about that), is an unintentional one -- it will expose the hypocrites and phonies in the DC establishment.

"The Rule of Law! The Rule of Law!" How many time have we heard politicians, DC pundits, and partisans pontificating on the "Rule of Law" and restoring "Honor and Dignity to the White House"? We know from too many of their actions that they are mendacious hypocrites and sanctimonious suck-ups. And the biggest one of all? Media hero John McCain. What do you think McCain will say about Feingold's resolution? It probably won't sound anything like this:

Mr. Chief Justice, I intend to vote to convict the President of the United States on both articles of impeachment. To say I do so with regret will sound trite to some, but I mean it sincerely. I deeply regret that this day has come to pass.

I bear no animosity for the President. I take no partisan satisfaction from this matter. I don't lightly dismiss the public's clear opposition to conviction. And I am genuinely concerned that the institution of the Presidency not be harmed, either by the President's conduct, or by Congress' reaction to his conduct.

Indeed, I take no satisfaction at all from this vote, with one exception--and an important exception it is--that by voting to convict I have been spared reproach by my conscience for shirking my duty.

The Senate faces an awful choice, to be sure. But, to my mind, it is a clear choice. I am persuaded that the President has violated his oath of office by committing perjury and by obstructing justice, and that by so doing he has forfeited his office.

You all remember, of course, what that was about. THE RULE OF LAW! THE RULE OF LAW!

McCain really is the biggest phony of them all. Oh, and when he starts the inevitable "time of war," "helping the enemy" nonsense, let's remind him about what was going on in Kosovo when he voted to remove Clinton:

  • 16 January 1999: 45 ethnic Albanian civilians are massacred at Racak in Kosovo, amid an upsurge in violence in the province.
  • 30 January 1999: The Contact Group demands that all parties agree on a political settlement for Kosovo by 20 February 1999. The NAC agrees that NATO's Secretary General may authorise air strikes against targets on FRY territory.
  • 1 February 1999: NATO's Secretary General reaffirms that, if no agreement is reached by the deadline set by the Contact Group, NATO is ready to take whatever measures are necessary to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.
  • 6 February 1999: Negotiations on the future of Kosovo are opened at Rambouillet, France, involving the warring parties and the Contact Group.
  • 12 February 1999: The United Kingdom sends an Armoured Battle Group to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to enable UK readiness to participate in a peacekeeping mission.
  • 12 February 1999 : Republican Senators, led by "Maverick" John McCain vote to remove the Commander in Chief  from office on the eve of war, thereby aiding and comforting the enemy. [/snark]
  • 20 February 1999: The Contact Group extends negotiations until 1400 GMT on 23 February 1999.
  • 23 February 1999: With partial agreement having been reached on a future political settlement for Kosovo, to be policed by a NATO peacekeeping force deployed in the province, negotiations are adjourned until 15 March.
  • 15 March 1999: Negotiations resume in Paris.
  • 19 March 1999: The Paris peace talks break down following Yugoslav refusal to accept the Rambouillet Accords.
  • 22 March 1999: The NAC authorises the Secretary General to decide, subject to further consultations, on a broader range of air operations if necessary.
  • 24 March 1999: Operation Allied Force begins at 1900 hours GMT

Update [2006-3-13 17:26:24 by mcjoan]:: Hahahaha!!! Lieberman doesn't scold Presidents!! Well, maybe just Democratic presidents. In a significant break with his president, Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman took to the Senate floor Thursday to condemn President Bill Clinton's marital infidelity as immoral, disgraceful and damaging to the country.

Lieberman of Connecticut said he was angered and disappointed in Clinton's behavior, and what he called Clinton's "premeditated" deception.

Lieberman said Clinton "apparently had extramarital relations with an employee half his age and did so in the workplace in the vicinity of the Oval Office. Such behavior is not just inappropriate. It is immoral."

Categories: Blogs
  • CT-SEN: Lamont makes it official, saying "I'm the guy who is going to stand up to the Bush administration."

  • Britain is reducing its Iraq force by 10 percent, about 800 troops, by May. Wishful thinking, denial, or getting out while the getting is relatively less bad?
    "This is a significant reduction which is based largely on the ability of the Iraqis themselves to participate and defend themselves against terrorism, but there is a long, long way to go," he said.

  • Violence in Iraq today has killed five more, including a U.S. soldier, and injured 31. This included vigilante slayings:
    Shiite vigilantes seized four men suspected of terrorist attacks, interrogated them, beat them, executed them and left their bodies hanging from lampposts in a Shiite slum today, according to witnesses and government officials.
    Meanwhile, Bush is launching a PR initiative on Iraq, marking the third anniversary this week of the invasion. He must not have read been briefed on the news out of Iraq over the last week.
    "The Iraqi people made their choice. They looked into the abyss and did not like what they saw," he said. "By their response over the last two weeks, Iraqis have shown the world they want a future of freedom and peace and they will oppose a violent minority."

  • Coincidentally, this is Sunshine Week, an open government iniative. Turns out that the American public "equates open government with effective democracy and is concerned about the rise in official secrecy at the national, state and local levels."

Categories: Blogs
Now here's a twist. Sure, I post weekly updates on where we're at with bird flu. And I'm very interested in the fact that ABC News will be presenting bird flu coverage all week (they've put together a helpful summary):
Avian flu has the potential to be a major crisis, and top government and public health officials are planning for the worst. However, almost without exception, they all say the worst-case scenario -- easy transmission from human to human -- is unlikely, but still possible.

Here are two key facts to help put the virus in context:

Right now, this is a virus that primarily affects birds. More than 200 million birds have died or been killed, while 97 humans have died worldwide. Each year in just the United States alone, 36,000 people die from seasonal flu.

In China, the disease is widespread among birds. The World Health Organization has confirmed just 15 infections and 10 deaths among humans in a population of 1.3 billion people -- a rate of one case per 86 million people and one death per 130 million.

But there's an interesting political story brewing. In order to make sense of it, let me quote two recent articles from some excellent reporters. From Nicholas Zamiska, WSJ:
Scientists around the world, racing to discover how avian influenza is spreading and whether it is evolving toward a pandemic strain, face a dilemma: Should they share their interim findings widely, show them only to a select set of peers, or keep them to themselves until they can publish papers, often critical to their careers?

Even as the World Health Organization presses China and other countries to share bird-flu data for the public good, the WHO itself runs a database limited to a select group of scientists and containing a massive trove of data - some 2,300 genetic sequences of the virus, around a third of the world's known sequences, according to two people familiar with the database's contents. Any one of those sequences could hold clues to an effective human vaccine or drugs that could kill the virus, or help scientists determine how great a threat it poses.

Now, a lone Italian researcher has cast a harsh spotlight on the WHO's system, suggesting that it places academic pride over public health - and snubbing it by posting prized bird-flu data in plain view.
Helen Branswell writes:
A leading scientist in the field of genetic sequencing is calling on publicly funded U.S. researchers and research organizations to throw open their collections of H5N1 avian flu viruses to allow others to work toward lessening the pandemic threat the virus poses.

Steven Salzberg wants the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as well as researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health to place their virus sequence data in open-access databanks on an as-processed basis. He hopes such a move would entice scientists elsewhere, as well as governments in H5N1-afflicted countries, to end a pattern of virus hoarding many believe is undermining the world's ability to battle H5N1.

"I think what ought to happen is that the U.S., starting with people funded by NIH and the CDC itself ought to start releasing all of their data and all of their samples -- and lead by example," says Salzberg, director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Maryland.

"Because one complaint I've heard from other scientists in other countries is: `Hey, the CDC in the U.S. doesn't release all their data. So why should we?' And that's a very legitimate complaint."

We need your help to make sure scientists in the US and abroad working on this issue have access to all the data they need. The next effective vaccine may require sequences from Indonesia, China, or who knows where. And George W Bush's NIH and CDC may be part of the problem.

Categories: Blogs
CNN's Soledad O'Brien's interview with Russ Feingold today would have made Kyra Philips proud.  In a magnificent feat of bimbotude, O'Brien goes from claiming censure is a "kind of a slap on the wrist" to "something quite serious" in one minute flat. "The jury's not back" on the program, she claimed, to which Feingold replied "the jury's been dismantled".  Feingold brilliantly called her on her ignorance, telling her the RNC intimidated her, because that's the only way someone would think there is a serious debate about the legality of the program (almost all legal scholars have declared that the program is blatantly illegal).

O'Brien's performance demonstrates what Armando touched on here, which is how the acceptance of an argument as reasonable rests largely on how many times it gets repeated.  Like I said, almost EVERY SINGLE legal scholar agrees with Feingold that the legal issue here is already resolved: the President broke the law, and  you don't need an investigation to prove that. He admitted it. Yet notice how O'Brien and other media puppets claim there is a "serious debate" about the legality of the program. Why? Because those who seek to excuse the President's crimes have dominated the discussion thus far. Their lies and disingenuous legal positions have taken hold because we haven't been shouting the truth from the rooftops: the law is clear, and the President broke it.

Add your voice to the chorus and let's drown out the lies.  Contact your Senator and ask them to sign on to Feingold's censure resolution.

Update: PDF of the censure resolution here. Senator Feingold will be addressing it at 4 PM ET on the Senate floor.

Categories: Blogs