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December 7, 2005

This is just incredible:

Israel told the United States it fears the outcome of regime change in Syria.

At a strategic-dialogue meeting this week among senior officials, Israel laid out for the United States three scenarios if Bashar Assad is toppled: chaos, an Islamist regime or another strongman from Assad's minority Alawite sect. Israel fears all those options, saying Assad provides a measure of stability.

U.S. officials told their Israeli counterparts that toppling Assad could be "transformative" and dismissed concerns about an Islamist regime taking his place.

Most people have forgotten, but none of Iraq's neighbors pushed for the US invasion of Iraq, and only Kuwait (which had 1991 hanging over its head) allowed the staging and overflight of US forces and airpower. While Bush and the neocons blathered about the danger Saddam posed to his neighbors, none of those neighbors seemed too concerned.

But it was irrelevant to the PNAC cabal. Our forces would be greeted as liberators, showered with rose petals, yadda, yadda. Of course, our forces have been showered with mortars, 7.62mm AK rounds, and IED shrapnel in what is an unwinnable war. But is the PNAC crew humbled and chastened? Fuck no. They now deign to tell the Israelis what is best for their interests. Perhaps the most security-minded nation in the world, with perhaps the most effective intelligence apparatus in the world, is being lectured by idiot neocon "intellectuals" about what will and won't be "transformative" in their own backyard.

Such hubris is breathtaking. The PNAC doctrine is no longer think tank theory. We've seen it in action and it is utterly discredited. Reality hasn't been kind fo their notions of "transformation" in the Middle East. Yet they persist as though that thing called "Iraq" hasn't happened.

I hope the Israelis kicked their asses out of the room. No need to be even civil to the Neocons. Given the blood on their hands, it's shocking they're so hungry for more.

Categories: Blogs
Conrad Burns seems to get dragged deeper into the Abramoff scandal day after day.

Sen. Conrad Burns and his staff met Jack Abramoff's lobbying team on at least eight occasions and collected $12,000 in donations around the time that the lawmaker took legislative action favorable to Abramoff's clients in the Northern Mariana Islands, records show.

The 2001 donations to Burns, a Montana Republican, included money directly from Abramoff and a key garment company executive in the Pacific islands who was part of the coalition paying Abramoff's firm to fend off stronger U.S. regulations on the islands [...]

In all, AP stories over the last few months have documented how more than four dozen lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, took actions favorable to Abramoff clients around the time that they received large donations from the lobbyist and his clients.

Burns, who is up for re-election to a fourth term in 2006, received about $150,000 in donations from Abramoff, his firm and his clients between 2001 and 2004.

Demcoratic Senate candidate Jon Tester responds.

Categories: Blogs
Shouldn't they be screaming about this on the Right?

The Bush administration is mounting an aggressive effort to counter an article that ran in Sunday's Inquirer that described Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. as a committed judicial conservative.

The administration's response, delivered separately yesterday by the White House and the Justice Department, reflects its determination to defend Alito and its sensitivity to the "conservative" label for him.

. . . Administration officials said the article unfairly cast the Supreme Court nominee as a conservative ideologue. "His 15-year record on the Third Circuit shows him to be a mainstream, fair, thorough judge," Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand said in a C-Span interview devoted to her critique of the article.

Brand, whose duties include shepherding judicial nominations through the Senate, rejected the conservative label for Alito. "The term conservative means different things to different people," she said. "A judge is supposed to apply the law, not make it."

True enough Ms. Brand. And for President Bush conservative means:

President Bush promised that he would nominate justices in the mold of Justices (Antonin) Scalia and (Clarence) Thomas. In choosing Judge Alito for the high court, President Bush has done just that," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel to the American Center.

Hey that's not Democrats Ms. Brand. That's your buddy Jay Sekulow.

So what do Scalia and Thomas stand for? Here's an example of their "strict constructionism":

[S]ome of their writings reveal that Justices Scalia and Thomas are far more loyal to right-wing ideology than to any judicial philosophy. For example, both Justices are said to be strict constructionists who do not look beyond the plain meaning of the words in the laws they interpret. The truth is that they often do not adhere to this philosophy. It would be fair to say that, for Scalia and Thomas, "strict constructionism" often has much more to do with construction than with strictness. For instance, in a 1992 case in which a parent challenged the constitutionality of a public school's policy imposing public prayer on all graduation attendees, Justices Scalia and Thomas (joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice White) dissented from the majority, ignoring much evidence on the clear meaning of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment - which forbids government endorsement of religion. (Lee v. Weisman)12 The text is quite clear on its face: "Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion." Yet instead of examining the actual text of the clause and the amendment process that produced it, Justices Scalia and Thomas reached far beyond to focus their opinion on what they characterized as an early American tradition of public prayer by government officials. Thus they argued that the state-imposed prayer was constitutional - but they did so only by ignoring the plain meaning and history of the words of the First Amendment.

If you were wondering why I continue to call him ScAlito, I suggest you ask Jay Sekulow.

Categories: Blogs

Branding the party.  No, their party...

Larry Beinhart at Huffington Post has some intriguing suggestions for positioning the Republicans, using that pesky thing called "their record":

President Loser: Let us count the things that were lost on Bush's watch, then let us hang them around his neck, like big French medals.  He immediately lost the budget surplus.  Then he lost the World Trade Center.  Damn near lost the Pentagon too.  Then he lost America's moral standing in the world.  He lost an entire American city---New Orleans.  Nobody's ever lost a whole American city before.  Then, he lost the War in Iraq.

Loot and Pollute defines all their policies.  Loot Iraq, and leave a disaster behind.  Loot the treasury and leave deficits behind.  Pollute the air, pollute the water, just so that this month's Enron can get their loot.

The National Incompetence Party. They can't run a war.  They can't run an economy.  They can't reinforce the levees when the hurricanes are coming.  They can't reconstruct an American city.  They can't reconstruct a foreign country they bombed to bits.  They can't negotiate an international coalition.  They can't create jobs.  They can't balance a budget.  They can't even avoid being indicted.

Read the rest here.  It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Cheers and Jeers starts in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!]  RIGHTNOW!  [Gong!!]

Categories: Blogs

We'll be trying something the next few weeks that hasn't been tried before. Authors on the Right have a whole machine that ensures their books make the best seller list and get the boost that entails. They have two book clubs (we have none). They have organizations that buy books in bulk orders, getting hundreds and even thousands at a time. We don't. It makes it much harder for progressive books to make that best seller list.

Furthermore, Jerome and I gave up the chance to sign with a major publisher in order to stay independent. We signed with Chelsea Green (the same guys who published Lakoff's Elephant book). Not only did it feel better to keep away from Murdoch's News Corp and their ilk, but we wanted an environmentally responsible company in what is a hugely wasteful industry.

It felt good to go with them, even if we surrendered the big advance, but they're a small operation, without the major budget to fund a serious marketing campaign. So what to do?

Selling books early was an obvious solution, and that's what we're doing. But we took it one step further. We decided to make this as much an all-progressive effort as possible. In addition to us, the green printing press, and Chelsea Green, fulfillment will be handled by the great folks at Working Assets.

The regular edition of the book will be in book stores in March. But we are printing a Progressive Partners Special Edition for the pre-sale period. We have 10,000 copies of this edition, which will ship three weeks before the book appears in book stores.

So what do you get for pre-ordering three months in advance?

  1. You get the book early
  2. You help debut the book on Bestseller list
  3. You help fund the book's marketing efforts
  4. You help support independent progressive media and institutions
  5. You get the limited special edition version of the book

So what's the book about? Over the next couple of days I'll be sharing more of that. For starters, the Table of Contents is in the extended entry. This thing is pretty darn good, if I may say so.

So pre-order your copy today for just $25 (shipping included). Buy it as a gift for your favorite people. Gift card available for download after purchase.

Categories: Blogs
The final results:

Campbell (R) 44.7
Young (D) 28
Gilchrist (I) 25.1
Tirilli (G) 1.3
Cohen (L) 0.9

Good job by Young people to compete in this tough district against tough odds. The GOP spent a lot of money to hold a seat that should've been theirs by birthright.

Gilchrist's results will get a ton of attention. He's a xenophobe, anti-brown-immigrants type. He had the Republicans spooked, and 25 percent is a solid showing. Expect this to add pressure on the GOP to get even more draconian on immigration issues.

Categories: Blogs
(From the diaries -- kos)

For me, the most touching moment of the Virginia election was Mark Warner declaring that Creigh Deeds would be our next Attorney General on election night and, to emphasize his point, leaving his podium to find Creigh in the crowd, grab his hand, grab Kaine's in the other, and lift them both in solidarity.

It was an important moment. Heretofore, the mutterings had been that while Creigh was close enough to request a recount, winning it was another matter. But, at that moment, Warner said it is not over, and he's right about everything else, so, by God, let's do this thing.

At the time, Deeds was down by I guess something like 1,200 votes (gets fuzzy as I was drinking). On November 28th, when the results were certified, Creigh was down by 323 votes out of 1.9 million cast. The recount is scheduled for December 20th.

Categories: Blogs
Interesting that Lieberman, who today told us we weren't allowed to criticize President Bush, had no problems whatsover attacking a different president: Bill Clinton.

But of course, lying to drag a nation into war is nowhere near as bad as lying about a blowjob. Or something like that.

Categories: Blogs
Some words of wisdom, for the next crop of guest bloggers -- and some things to think about when nominating guest bloggers. And, as well, a few thoughts about the site in general; where we are, where we've been successful, and where we haven't yet done as well as I hope we someday could.

These are contemplations from a year of "frontpage" blogging on the single biggest political blog on the Internet, in the hopes that they prove useful to others.

Categories: Blogs
Yeah, our commenting system went on the fritz locking people out. It's been fixed. Sorry about the inconvenience. Lots of crazy things happening in the wake of the server move this weekend. We'll have to squash the problems one by one. And by "we", I mean "Jeremy".

Categories: Blogs
Tonight's installment of the Fighting Dems features Eric Massa, running in the New York 29th Congressional District. The Fighting Dems series is meant to highlight men and women who worn the uniform and have chosen to run on the Democratic ticket. There's tons more on our side than theirs.

(Massa is the guy in the middle)

The 29th got a great deal of attention in 2004 as Samara Barend made a valiant fight against Randy "shotgun" Kuhl (Kuhl endded with 51 percent of the vote, and the Conservative Party candidate getting another 6 percent). Kuhl's divorce papers were leaked to the press, and the contents weren't pretty. In addition to your run-of-the-mill divorce stuff, Kuhl had taken out a shotgun and threatened to shoot his wife in front of dinner guests. Lovely man, that one. And while that may be in the past, the present doesn't show a congressman too interested in his district. I mean, besides voting for CAFTA, supporting social security privatization, and eliminating bankruptcy protections, he must work on his golf game:

Perhaps John R. "Randy" Kuhl is just too busy improving his golf game to worry about such a mundane thing as the 2006 mid-term Congressional elections.  The first term Republican Congressman who recently tied former House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) and Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) as the 66th best golfer on Golf Digest's Washington's Top 200 list told the Corning Leader last week that he's not sure he's running for reelection next year.

"I haven't decided whether I'm going to run or not at this point, quite frankly," Kuhl told the Leader.  "I'm enjoying this experience.  It's a tremendous task.  It's a lot of work."  Kuhl represents the 29th District of New York, a largely rural, working class area in the western part of the state.

Interestingly enough, Massa was actually a top aide to Gen. Wesley Clark.

One deployment saw us for many months off the coast of Beirut in direct support of our Marines ashore.  During another cruise to the Middle East we were on station during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and throughout the opening of Desert Storm.   My capstone military assignment was Special Assistant to General Wes Clark, both in Panama and then when he became Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces.  I served with Wes in Washington DC, Panama, and in the European Theater of Operations.

The segment will run at around 9:20 p.m. ET, though your local Air America affiliates may have it at different times. Here's Massa's official campaign site.

Previous Fighting Dems:

Dave Harris (TX-06)
Andrew Duck (MD-06)
Patrick Murphy (PA-08)
Paul Hackett (OH-Sen)
Bryan Lentz (PA-07)
David Ashe (VA-02)

You can get streams of these segments on Air America's Fighting Dems site.

Update: There's a Fighting Dem ActBlue page, so show your support if you can.

Categories: Blogs
Fox News Democrat Joe Lieberman is at it again.

Lieberman, whom the Bush administration has praised repeatedly for his war stance, defended the president. "It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge he'll be commander-in-chief for three more years," the senator said. "We undermine the president's credibility at our nation's peril."

Funny thing is that he thinks he's helping Israel out by supporting this "transformation" in the Middle East, when all this war did was replace a secular dictator with an Iran-style Islamic regime and Iranian ally.

Update: I didn't realize that saying someone had Israel's best intersts at heart was controversial. There's nothing wrong with that. I think most rational people wish the Israeli people the best -- peace and prosperity. Same for the Palestinians. None of them deserve the conflict in which they are myred.

You can have a perfectly reasonable hope to help out an ally like Israel, and still support policies that is screwing them. That's Joe's problem. Not that he wishes the best for Israel, but that his policies are hurting that country.

Categories: Blogs
Okay, go to billoreilly.com. Mouse over the "About Bill" menu tab. What do we see pop up?

Recommended Holiday Gifts

Et tu, Bill?

Categories: Blogs

December 3, 2005

Examples of honest and dishonest conservatives on ScAlito and his 1985 memo on overturning Roe. First, the honest conservative, Bruce Fein:

Conservative lawyer Bruce Fein, who was a Justice Department official in the Reagan administration, said he is baffled that Alito is pulling back from his well-argued 1985 memos. "I think the administration is misreading the Senate and the public, because you end up losing more if your credibility is strained and people think you're playing them for dupes," Fein said.

Now the do anything to win, embrace dishonesty conservative, Janet LaRue:

Janet M. LaRue of the conservative group Concerned Women for America said she is not bothered that Alito is putting space between himself and his 20-year-old memos. "I would have been surprised if he had said anything else," she said. All her group wants, she said, is a judge "to make an objective ruling based on the law and the facts. It's a joke for the left to pretend that none of their favorite judges have deeply held beliefs."

Notice the straw man, another dishonest conservative favorite - "It's a joke for the left to pretend that none of their favorite judges have deeply held beliefs." Er, Ms. Liar-ue, we don't pretend it. Unlike you, our favorite judges don't have to lie to hide their extreme judicial philosophies:

Judge Alito is suggesting now that he may not vote to overturn Roe out of respect for precedent. But the Supreme Court reverses its own precedents with some frequency.

Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at his confirmation hearings about his respect for precedent. On the court he has opposed not only Roe, but also the 1965 case recognizing married people's constitutional right to buy birth control.

Been there, done that, Ms. LaRue. We know what you and ScAlito are about. "Say anything" is the motto of the dishonest extremists that run the Republican Party.

Categories: Blogs
Update [2005-12-3 1:11:4 by Armando]: Crooks and Liars also on the case.

Booman Tribune is reporting:

Booman Tribune has now obtained a copy of a memo that implicates employees of a second private security company, Triple Canopy, Inc., an American firm operating in Iraq, in the possible homicide of two Iraqi civilians on the road from Ramadi to Amman near the Jordanian border in December, 2004.

The memo appears to have been sent in January, 2005 from a Director of Intelligence Services for SEC Associates to one of SEC's employees based in Baghdad, regarding the need to investigate a possible double homicide by a PSD ("Personal Security Detail") working for Triple Canopy.

    052300Z JAN 2005

    IR 00 8 004 0105 1500 05
    DOI: (C/PR) [050105] SOURCE: (C/PR) /MAKIDJ



Go to Booman for the whole story.

Categories: Blogs
Update [2005-12-3 1:5:20 by Armando]: firedoglake. is that everybody?

Update [2005-12-3 0:27:20 by Armando]: Jeralyn's take.

Update [2005-12-2 23:49:42 by Armando]: emptywheel's take

Update [2005-12-2 22:42:47 by Armando]: Fitz's filing. After you read it, you'll see that the Times has written a totally bogus story. Frankly, it is inaccurate. Very bad show.

Update [2005-12-2 22:7:45 by Armando]: Sam Loomis has more info.

This is intriguing:

There are eight blank pages in the public version of a decision the federal appeals court in Washington issued in February. The decision ordered two reporters to be jailed unless they agreed to testify before a grand jury investigating the disclosure of the identity of a C.I.A. operative, Valerie Wilson. What is in those pages is one of the enduring mysteries in the investigation.

In a filing yesterday, the special prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, told the court that he had no objection to the unsealing of parts of those pages, and he gave hints about what they say.

. . . Mr. Fitzgerald told the court yesterday that he did not object to the unsealing of the parts of Judge Tatel's analysis concerning Mr. Libby because most of the facts in it had become public through the indictment and statements from grand jury witnesses.

The Times reporter, Adam Liptak, and the Times' and Judith Miller's attorney Floyd Abrams, do some rather ridiculous spinning:

The pages, in a concurring opinion by Judge David S. Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, analyze secret submissions by Mr. Fitzgerald. Judge Tatel suggested, in a terse and cryptic public summary of what he wrote in the withheld pages, that testimony from the reporters, Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, was needed to determine whether a government official committed a crime in identifying Ms. Wilson.

. . . Yesterday's filing, in response to a motion by Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, seemed at odds with Judge Tatel's summary. It made clear that the case against at least Mr. Libby had for some time concerned obstruction of justice rather than the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity.

. . . Floyd Abrams, who represented Ms. Miller and Mr. Cooper before the appeals court, said Mr. Fitzgerald's filing was significant for the light it shed on the inquiry's progress.

"The revelation," Mr. Abrams said, "that Mr. Fitzgerald advised the court as early as the spring and fall of 2004 that his focus on Mr. Libby related not to potential threats to national security but to possible violations of perjury and related laws raises anew the question of whether the need for the testimony of Judy Miller and Matt Cooper was at all as critical as had been suggested."

What balderdash! The testimony clearly involved elements of the potential crimes that implicated national security interests. That Fitzgerald has not yet charged those crimes does not mean that the testimony does not implicate those crimes. In the case of Judy Miller especially, it clearly does. In the case of Matt Cooper, Karl Rove is still under investigation.

And thus the very intriguing part that makes complete mincemeat of the silliness from Adam Liptak, the Times reporter, and Abrams:

Mr. Fitzgerald said he did object to unsealing other parts of the analysis. Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer for Dow Jones, said, "We are hopeful we can persuade the court to release the rest."

Well, good luck with that Mr. Boutrous. Obviously those portions of the opinion deal with Rove and others. Fitz has really got his eyes on Rove. And I imagine this motion is, in some ways, a shot across the bow at Robert Luskin, Rove's lawyer, who has been very talkative lately, anonymously of course.

Categories: Blogs
On Tuesday, California will hold another special election - this time, to fill the vacant House seat in CA's 48th CD. Our candidate is Steve Young. Here's how you can help him for the final weekend push:

  • Virtual phone banking. This can be done by anyone, anywhere. The campaign sends you a list of names and numbers of district residents, and you call them to help get out the vote. Fun and easy, and if you have a cell phone with free nights and weekends, it only costs you your time. To join in this effort, send an e-mail to [email protected].

  • Volunteer. If you leave in or near the district, contact the campaign and help pound the pavement. You can sign up on this page, but your best bet at this point is to call the campaign directly at (949) 640-4400. You can also send an e-mail to [email protected] with your availability. The district is in Orange County - the HQ is in Irvine. In other words, not too far for those of you in LA or San Diego to come up for a day. The weekend weather looks quite pleasant.

  • E-mail your California friends. Tell them about this race. Even if you aren't sure if they live in CA-48, they probably know someone who does. Word of mouth is key.

  • Keep an eye on BigDog04's diaries. He's our source for info straight from the campaign.

Let's do this thing!

UPDATE: House race guru Superribbie details why he thinks we might have a shot in this district.

P.S. Response to this call to action has been very strong, so if you've e-mailed the campaign and have yet to hear back, please be patient. They are working very hard to get back to you as soon as possible. Also, if you want to volunteer in person, you should try phoning rather than e-mailing.

Categories: Blogs
Continuing a tradition as old as Christmas itself, O'Reilly lays the blame for the "War on Christmas" directly where he thinks it belongs. After puttering around with the coded notion of the "secular progressive" attack, he is pressed for names, and gives one. He says the attack on Christmas is, behind the scenes, being financed by a secular Jewish "moneyman".

O'REILLY: This is insulting to Christian America. It's insulting. This is driven by secular progressives --

CAVUTO: The Jews and Muslims say it's insulting to keep the Christmas.

O'REILLY: I say that Muslims are less than 1 percent of the population, and Jews are less than 3 percent of the population. They're entitled to their opinion, they're entitled to their opinion and they are entitled not to shop in places that say "Merry Christmas," just as I'm entitled not to shop in places that don't. That's what I say. But the bottom line on this is this: Secular progressives which are driving this movement, OK, don't want Christmas. They don't want it as a federal holiday, they don't want any message of spirituality or Judeo-Christian tradition because that stands in the way of gay marriage, legalized drugs, euthanasia, all of the greatest hits on the secular progressive play card. If they can succeed in getting religion out of the public arena --

CAVUTO: Who's "they?"

O'REILLY: George Soros. He's the moneyman behind it. It's a philosophy. Go on the websites and look at it. It's there. It's a secular, progressive --

CAVUTO: It has come to this --

O'REILLY: They're afraid. They've been intimidated, but I say, fight back.

In honor of the increasingly repugnant O'Reilly, we shall repeat below a post on the subject from last year, featuring great moments from Henry Ford, David Duke, and other voices who similarly explain the origins of the so-called War on Christmas. As well as a few hits from Bill O'Reilly himself, last year.

Categories: Blogs
Please tell me in comments what you think that phrase means.

After you've done that, read Kevin Drum.

Update [2005-12-2 14:32:17 by Armando]: My answer is more about what jumped into my head than what it means - The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

Categories: Blogs
ScAlito Met With Specter today:

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, who expressed strong opposition to abortion rights two decades ago, pledged Friday that his personal views on the subject "would not be a factor" in his rulings, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said Alito had told him in a private meeting that "with respect to his personal views on a woman's right to choose ... that is not a matter to be considered in the deliberation on a constitutional issue of a woman's right to choose. The judicial role is entirely different."

The problem is ScAlito has a memory like Rove ("forgot" he talked with Matt Cooper about Valerie Plame). Who's to say he won't "forget" this too?

More on the flip.
Categories: Blogs