Friday, June 30, 2006

Al Gore 3.0

The man who won the presidency in 2000 is looser and more outspoken than ever. Is his global-warming movie a warm-up for a third run at the White House?

It is probably not fair to say that global warming excites Al Gore, but get him going on the subject and he becomes possessed by the spirit of a Holy Rolling preacher, swelling and quaking in his chair, hitting high notes, speaking in tongues. We are meeting in a cramped waiting room outside two TV studios in midtown Manhattan. Gore is spending the afternoon here, knocking off a dozen or so interviews with broadcast outlets across the country, one after the other, intimations of the apocalypse sandwiched between the local-anchor happy talk and car-dealership ads in markets like Houston and Kansas City.

Gore is in the middle of an exhaustive campaign to promote An Inconvenient Truth, a surprise hit that transposes to film a lecture about global warming that he has given more than a thousand times in the past six years. (An accompanying book of the same title is climbing the best-seller lists.) But while Gore's message may be grim -- in a nutshell, a warming climate threatens civilization, and if the human race wants to survive, we've got about ten years to start turning things around -- Gore himself seems funnier, warmer and more relaxed than he ever did during his political years. You used to think: I wouldn't mind taking a class from this guy. Nowadays, you wouldn't mind having a beer with him. His recent appearance on Saturday Night Live, when he addressed the nation as president and boasted that gas prices were so low that the government had to bail out the big oil companies, was the single funniest moment on the show all season.

Gore's renewed visibility has only fueled speculation that this is all part of a carefully orchestrated plan to launch his third bid for the presidency. Although Gore refuses to rule it out, he suggests that he's having too much fun, and is too engaged in his various business interests, to subject himself to the endless slog of political life.

It's not unreasonable to hope that Gore runs, but the dream of a Gore candidacy also underscores the pathetic core of today's Democratic Party: It has become so unusual to hear a mainstream Democratic politician speak from a sense of conviction that when one does, people practically start begging him to run.


A President Rebuked

The only surviving World War II veteran on the Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens, appointed three decades ago by a President as Republican as W., delivered the plain and airtight message: President Bush violated every standard of the military code, the US Constitution and international law with its order for military tribunals at Guantánamo. In its implications if not always its direct findings, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld is to Bush what the Pentagon Papers case was to Richard Nixon: a devastating rebuke to a President who thought he had a blank check; a clear reaffirmation of the rule of law even--or especially--in times of national crisis.

The Court's Hamdan ruling emphatically does not shut Guantánamo down. Indeed, the Court majority took pains to assert that the attacks of September 11 ignited the President's war powers and they do not challenge "the Government's power to detain [Salim Ahmed Hamdan] for the duration of active hostilities."

The ruling unambiguously declares that the President may not simply invent trials that conform to no known standard of law, which are not necessitated by urgent battlefield conditions, and deny defense lawyers access to evidence. It also dismantles every element of the Administration's case, from the conspiracy-to-commit-war crimes charges against the Yemeni national who was Osama bin Laden's driver in Afganistan to the necessity of an improvised process governed by no act of Congress. "Any urgent utterly belied by the record," Justice Stevens writes. "Hamdan was arrested in November 2001 and he was not charged until mid-2004. These simply are not the circumstances in which, by any stretch of the historical evidence or this Court's precedents" justify a drumhead military commission.


A Loss for Competitive Elections

NY Times Editorial 6/29/06

The Supreme Court, in a badly fractured decision yesterday, largely upheld Tom DeLay's gerrymandering of the Texas Congressional districts. Instead of standing up for a fair electoral landscape, the court produced a ruling that did little to ensure the vibrancy of American democracy, and that itself had an unfortunate whiff of partisanship.

Given the strong negative feelings that voters have about Congress — in a recent Times poll, just 23 percent of those surveyed approved of the job lawmakers were doing — it is startling how few races are expected to be competitive this fall. This is largely because of increasingly sophisticated partisan gerrymandering that uses high-powered computers to draw lines that in many cases make voters all but irrelevant.

Texas' 2003 redistricting was an extreme case. Mr. DeLay, who was then the House majority leader, led a fierce and successful campaign to capture Texas' Legislature for the Republicans. (He is facing criminal charges of using illegal corporate campaign contributions to do it.) Then, even though Texas had already redistricted after the 2000 census, the Legislature took the rare step of redistricting again. The new lines were drawn in such a partisan way that Republicans ended up with nearly two-thirds of the state's Congressional delegation.

The Supreme Court has indicated in the past that gerrymandering can be so egregious that it violates the Constitution's equal protection clause. But the court has never set out a test to determine what constitutes such a violation, and it failed to do so again yesterday. The court has proved itself capable of thinking up elaborate tests when it wants to — it has made up standards virtually out of whole cloth, for example, to decide when Congress has infringed on states' rights. It is disappointing that the court is not as resourceful when it comes to protecting voters' rights. The court rightly struck down one Congressional district yesterday, citing the Voting Rights Act, but that did not begin to address the serious problems with the 2003 redistricting.

In this post-Bush-vs.-Gore era, the court's critics will note that it again split on partisan lines, with the most conservative justices most approving of the Texas lines. That was also true in a 2004 case in which it upheld, by a 5-to-4 vote, a pro-Republican redistricting in Pennsylvania. But that same year the court, disturbingly, affirmed a lower court's ruling striking down a pro-Democratic redistricting in Georgia as unconstitutional. It is disappointing that it could not have come up with a decision yesterday that had a greater appearance of fairness.

It seems to me there is a direct connection between the Republicans' inability to run anything governmental ("Heckuva job, Brownie") and the fact that they don't believe in government.

-Molly Ivans

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Keith Olberman reminds us that the supposedly secret terrorist finance tracking program was never really a secret.

Today's Details

-The Bush administration has been unable to muster even half of the 2,500 National Guardsmen it planned to have on the Mexican border by the end of June. DETAILS

-An Interior Department official who has acknowledged receiving meals and tickets to sporting events from former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has been charged with filing a false financial disclosure report. DETAILS

-A political consultant whose company was behind a television ad accusing the Clinton-Gore administration of giving away nuclear technology was convicted of child molestation charges. (More lawlessness from the party endorsed by JC.) DETAILS

The government has recovered the stolen laptop computer and hard drive containing sensitive data for up to 26.5 million veterans and military personnel, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson said Thursday. Nicholson said law enforcement officials were still investigating to determine whether data from the equipment, which included names, birth dates and Social Security numbers, had been duplicated or utilized in any way. DETAILS

Supreme Court Rejects Guantanamo Trials

NY Times

The Supreme Court on Thursday repudiated the Bush administration's plan to put Guantánamo detainees on trial before military commissions, ruling broadly that the commissions were unauthorized by federal statute and violated international law.

"The executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction," Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the 5-to-3 majority, said at the end of a 73-page opinion that in sober tones shredded each of the administration's arguments, including the assertion that Congress had stripped the court of jurisdiction to decide the case. A principal but by no means the only flaw the court found in the commissions was that the president had established them without Congressional authorization.

The decision was such a sweeping and categorical defeat for the Bush administration that it left human rights lawyers who have pressed this and other cases on behalf of Guantanamo detainees almost speechless with surprise and delight, using words like "fantastic," "amazing," "remarkable." Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a public interest law firm in New York that represents hundreds of detainees, said, "It doesn't get any better."

President Bush said he planned to work with Congress to "find a way forward," and there were signs of bipartisan interest on Capitol Hill in crafting legislation that would authorize new, revamped commissions intended to withstand judicial scrutiny.


Vultures, Death, Taxes & More Falsehoods

The Free Enterprise Fund continues a campaign of misinformation against the estate tax.


The conservative Free Enterprise Fund (FEF) continues to push for permanent repeal of the federal estate tax with one of the most blatantly false advertising campaigns we've seen this year.

One recent TV ad repeats an utterly untrue claim that the estate tax can "rip away 55 per cent of what you save for loved ones." In fact, the tax takes zero per cent from all but a very few. Even multimillionaires pay an average effective tax rate estimated currently at less than 22 per cent of their estates.

The ads are particularly nasty in their tone as well. One portrays Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington as a carrion bird, saying "she voted with the vultures" to oppose consideration of estate-tax repeal. Another attacks Democratic Sen. David Pryor of Arkansas for supposedly going back on a promise to support repeal, saying "Pryor is a liar." Actually, Pryor is on record opposing total repeal, though a statement on his website can easily be read to imply the opposite.


For months the Free Enterprise Fund has been running what it says is a $4.1 million campaign to kill the federal estate tax for good. So far this year the FEF says it has run ads nationally on Fox News and in seven states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, Rhode Island, North Dakota, South Dakota and Washington. We've noted some of their distortions before . They're still putting out false information.


Stop the War on Women

From an email I received:

While working as a rape crisis counsellor I became aware of how difficult the fear of pregnancy was for many, along with the horrible experience of being raped. Personally, I think all hospitals should dispense the pill, as an option for the survivors of rape and not force them to go to a doctor and get another invasive exam. But, what good is it, if they go through the exam and them possibly have to go to another doctor only to walk into a drug store and not get the prescription based on the "religious or moral beliefs" of the store owner or salesperson.

The victims of rape need to feel they have some control in their lives and if they can't even get a prescription filled to help prevent a pregnancy, we are being abusive to them.

People who are anti-abortion often have no heart for rape victims. They are so tied to their belief system that they are very narrow minded. They should not have this opportunity to hurt a woman and her ego and implant fear on their psyche. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is serious...and is often the result of such a situation.

Please, if you can, take the time to sign the petition.

===========Please forward to friends=============

Dear Friends,

I have just read and signed the petition: "Stop the War on Women: Don't
Let Pharmacists Deny Contraceptive Prescriptions"

Please take a moment to read about this important issue, and join me in
signing the petition. It takes just 30 seconds, but can truly make a
difference. We are trying to reach 20,000 signatures - please sign here:

Once you have signed, you can help even more by asking your friends and
family to sign as well.

Thank you!

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2544/296

Most recent casualties:

June 29, 2006

Army Spc. Kyle R. Miller, 19, of Willmar, Minn.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Army Sgt. James P. Muldoon, 23, of Bells, Texas
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Army Spc. Christopher D. Rose, 21, of San Francisco
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Sgt. Bryan C. Luckey, 25, of Tampa, Fla.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Sgt. Terry M. Lisk, 26, of Fox Lake, Ill.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Staff Sgt. Joseph F. Fuerst, III, 26 of Tampa Fla.
-Operation Enduring Freedom

Complete Casualty List

If sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago.
- Sir George Porter, quoted in The Observer, 26 August 1973

Today's Details

-An Indian tribe that was a client of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff has released a photograph of tribal leaders meeting with Rep. Bob Ney, who had told investigators he wasn't familiar with the tribe. DETAILS

-House Republicans intend to hold votes this summer and fall touching on abortion, guns, religion and other priority issues for social conservatives, part of an attempt to improve the party's prospects in the midterm elections. The "American Values Agenda" also includes a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage — which already has failed in the Senate — a prohibition on human cloning and possibly votes on several popular tax cuts. DETAILS

-The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld most of the Republican-boosting Texas congressional map engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay but threw out part, saying some of the new boundaries failed to protect minority voting rights. DETAILS

-Sen. Barack Obama chastised fellow Democrats on Wednesday for failing to "acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people," and said the party must compete for the support of evangelicals and other churchgoing Americans. DETAILS

One of the most memorable scene in Michael Moore's controversial documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11," featured two Marine recruiters desperately trying to enlist recruits outside a shopping mall. Now one of them has died in Iraq. Marine Staff Sgt. Raymond J. Plouhar, 30, died Monday of wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, the Pentagon has announced. DETAILS

House Republican leaders are expected to introduce a resolution today condemning The New York Times for publishing a story last week that exposed government monitoring of banking records.The resolution is expected to condemn the leak and publication of classified documents, said one Republican aide with knowledge of the impending legislation. (Another day, another campaign stunt in Washington. This feigned outrage is nothing more than pure politics. Has nothing at all to do with national security and everything to do with a very calculated attempt to dumb down the media as we go into the campaign/election cycle - you remember - just like before the Iraq invasion when to question this president was unpatriotic! These theatrics are also an attempt to portray the press as the enemy. Neither the president or vice president used the word 'disgraceful' when talking about the leak of a CIA operative during wartime - nor did Congress call for resolutions or congressional hearings or express much concern over it. If the Congress wishes to be outraged about something - here's my short list of things for them to be outraged about [and please add your own suggestions]: the minimim wage, 45 million American's who are without health insurance, domestic wiretapping without oversight, signing statements, torture at the hands of the U.S. Government, the incompetent way the Iraq war has been waged, voting irregularities, gasoline prices, banking laws which make the consumer a slave to debt. There are hundreds of issues which impact American families that they could be outraged about - but this is what they choose to spend their time and attention on. They don't care about families. They care about campaign stunts. ) DETAILS

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Helen Thomas on The Daily Show

On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart interviewed famous White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who has been attending White House press conferences ever since 1961 -- that's nine presidents in total! The two discussed Bush's foreign policy doctrine, the lack of reporting after 9/11, and her recent confrontation with Tony Snow

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2543/295

Most Recent Casualties:

June 28, 2006

Army Cpl. Aaron M. Griner, 24, of Tampa, Fla.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Marine Pfc. Rex A. Page, 21, of Kirksville, Mo.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

"Freedom of the press, freedom of association, the inviolability of domicile, and all the rest of the rights of man are respected so long as no one tries to use them against the privileged class. On the day they are launched against the privileged they are overthrown."
-Prince Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921) Russian prince, author, called "The Anarchist Prince"

Today's Details

-The Senate today fell one vote short of approving a constitutional amendment that would have enabled Congress to ban desecration of the American flag. The vote was 66 to 34. To pass, the measure needed 67 votes. The excruciatingly close vote was a disappointing blow to supporters who have fought since 1989 to create a constitutional amendment. But it was the closest they have come to achieving their goal in three attempts in the Senate. (I know that I've been sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for this vote. Flag burning has such an adverse impact on our society and way of life and must be stopped! The flag is just a symbol of something much greater than the cloth it is made from and 66 senator's do not get that. Burning the flag isn't a threat to our democracy. Voter irregularities are a threat to our democracy. Putting a lid on the press is a threat to our democracy. Using CIA agents as political fodder is a threat to our democracy. One party rule is a threat to our democracy. Unchecked presidential power is a threat to our democracy. But flag burning? Not a threat to our democracy.) DETAILS

Israeli troops entered southern Gaza and planes attacked two bridges and a power station, knocking out electricity in most of the coastal strip early Wednesday and stepping up the pressure on Palestinian militants holding captive a 19-year-old Israeli soldier. Meanwhile, a Palestinian militant group on Wednesday threatened to kill an abducted Jewish settler if Israel doesn't stop its raid on the Gaza Strip. DETAILS

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Senate Holds Hearings on Bush's Use of Signing Statements

The White House on Tuesday defended President Bush's frequent use of special statements that claim authority to limit the effects of bills he signs, saying the statements help him uphold the Constitution and defend national security.

Senators weren't so sure.

''It's a challenge to the plain language of the Constitution,'' said Arlen Specter, a Republican whose Senate Judiciary Committee opened hearings on the issue. ''There is a sense that the president has taken signing statements far beyond the customary purview.''

At the White House, Press Secretary Tony Snow said, ''There's this notion that the president is committing acts of civil disobedience, and he's not. It's important for the president at least to express reservations about the constitutionality of certain provisions.''


Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2544/290

Most Recent Casualties:

June 27. 2006

Cpl. Jeremy S. Jones, 25, of Omaha, Neb.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Army Sgt. 1st Class Terry O.P. Wallace, 33, of Winnsboro, La.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Marine Cpl. Jason W. Morrow, 27, of Riverside, Calif.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

"...There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. ... Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing."
-- Daniel Webster, June 1, 1837

BREAKING: Limbaugh Detained at Airport

Sources have confirmed to CBS4 News that conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been detained at Palm Beach International Airport for the possible possession of illegal prescription drugs Monday evening.

Limbaugh was returning on a flight from the Dominican Republic when officials found the drugs, among them Viagra.

Limbaugh entered a plea deal back in April in a previous case where his charge of fraud to conceal information to obtain prescriptions was dropped under the condition he continue undergoing treatment for addiction.

Limbaugh had admitted to being addicted to pain killers on his radio program and had entered a rehabilitation program prior to that arrest.

Today's Details

-President Bush on Monday sharply condemned the disclosure of a program to secretly monitor the financial transactions of suspected terrorists. "The disclosure of this program is disgraceful," he said. (Apparently neither the president or the vice president are familiar with the document they took an oath to uphold.) DETAILS

-Flooding from a weekend of heavy rain shut down the Justice Department and other major federal buildings Monday, and created a nightmare for commuters with washed-out roads, mud blocking the Capital Beltway and delays on the area's rail lines. The Internal Revenue Service headquarters, the Commerce Department and the National Archives also were closed Monday morning because of flooding, and the National Gallery of Art was closed because of weather-related problems with its steam system. District of Columbia officials urged everyone to avoid the downtown area. DETAILS

-New Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito broke a tie Monday in a ruling that affirmed a state death penalty law and also revealed the court's deep divisions over capital punishment. Justices split 5-4 in the term's oldest case, which was argued in December before Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement. A new argument session was held in April so that Alito could break a deadlock. DETAILS

-Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes is on the warpath following his network’s recent ratings slump, and he won’t hesitate to clean house to turn things around. So far during the second quarter, the No. 1 cable news channel’s primetime schedule has dropped 22% in its core 25-54 demo and 8% in total viewers. The first quarter was even worse. (I have a cutting edge idea for Fox News to help them improve their ratings and get back in the 'news business' game....TRY REPORTING THE NEWS INSTEAD OF MAKING IT UP!!!!!!!!!!!) DETAILS

Monday, June 26, 2006

Democracy in Chains

By Greg Palast

Don't kid yourself: the Republican party's decision yesterday to "delay" the renewal of the Voting Rights Act has not a darn thing to do with objections of the Republican's white sheets caucus.
Complaints by a couple of good ol' boys to legislation have never stopped the GOP leadership from rolling over dissenters.

This is a strategic stall that is meant to decriminalise the Republican party's new game of challenging voters of colour by the hundreds of thousands.

In the 2004 presidential race, the GOP ran a massive, multi-state, multimillion-dollar operation to challenge the legitimacy of black, Hispanic and Native American voters. The methods used breached the Voting Rights Act, and while the Bush administration's civil rights division grinned and looked the other way, civil rights lawyers began circling, preparing to sue to stop the violations of the act before the 2008 race.

So Republicans have promised to no longer break the law - not by going legit but by eliminating the law.


Resistance in the US Military to the War on Iraq

By Ann Wright


Resistance to the war on Iraq within the US military community is growing. Over eight thousand American soldiers are absent without leave (AWOL), most living underground in the United States. Many now refer to AWOL as "Against War of Lies" instead of Absent Without Leave. Individual non-public resistance in the military generally results in an administrative discharge without publicity. Thousands have turned themselves in to military authorities and have been administratively discharged from the military. US military bases discharge dozens of war resisters each week.

Public resistance by military personnel to the war on Iraq results in court-martial to make an example of the resister. Some military personnel have applied for conscience objector (CO) status. Most have been denied CO status and ten have been court-martialed and imprisoned for publicly refusing to obey orders to deploy to Iraq to commit criminal acts there, including murder by bombing innocent civilians, shooting innocent civilians, and torture. Those who refuse to deploy to Iraq and kill for the Bush administration generally receive more punishment than those who commit criminal acts of murder and torture.

Four women who had served in the military were honored last week at the annual War Resisters meeting in New York City. Three had applied for CO status and had been refused by the military. One is now imprisoned at Fort Lewis, Washington, for refusing weapons training and deployment. One completed her assignment in Iraq and returned to become a co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW).

Hundreds of US military have chosen to resist the war by living in Canada, most under the radar of the now-conservative Canadian government. Twenty-four US military have publicly moved to Canada and are seeking political refugee status. They are supported by an incredible network of Canadians citizens and American war resisters from the Vietnam era who are now Canadian citizens, who assist the next generation of US military who resist illegal wars of aggression.
style="font-size:100%;">FULL STORY

Margin Opposing Withdrawal of Troops is Dwindling

With military commanders weighing possible troop reductions in Iraq, Americans are sharply divided along partisan lines over whether to set a deadline for withdrawing all U.S. forces there, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

About half (51 percent) oppose a deadline for getting out of Iraq, but the margin has dwindled as the bloody insurgency has continued to claim U.S. casualties. The poll found that 47 percent now favor some kind of deadline, up eight percentage points since December. Two thirds of Democrats favor setting a deadline, more than double the proportion of Republicans who embrace a timetable for withdrawal. Among independents, 44 percent support a deadline.

President Bush's approval rating rebounded from its low point a month ago and now stands at 38 percent. That is still weak enough to cause Republicans to worry about their electoral fortunes in November, but five percentage points higher than it was in May. (Can you say BOUNCE? I'd bet my next paycheck they were hoping for a bigger bounce than that after killing Zarqawi and the president going to Iraq. NOW they gotta be really worried. Which means WE should be worried. )

Democrats continue to hold an advantage on the November ballot, with a majority (52 percent) of registered voters saying that, if the election were held today, they would vote for the Democratic candidate for the House to 39 percent who said they would favor the Republican candidate. Democrats have maintained a double-digit throughout the year on this indicator of electoral intentions.


Look Who's Talking: President Bush or Senator Lieberman?

From the Lamont Camp:

We are going on the air with a brand new commercial, and we need your help to keep it on the air. While Senator Lieberman distorts facts and outright lies about Ned's record, we are going to hit back with the truth. For too long Senator Lieberman has parroted Republican talking points, giving "Democratic" cover to the president's failed policies. If it talks like George W. Bush and acts like George W. Bush, it's certainly not a Connecticut Democrat. Watch the commercial and help keep us on the air.

Biden Dismisses Cheney

FROM Atrios at Eschaton:

Biden on Blitzer:

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The worst possible thing we could do is what the Democrats are suggesting, and no matter how you carve it, you can call it anything you want, but basically, it is packing it in, going home, persuading and convincing and validating the theory that the Americans don't have the stomach for this fight.

BLITZER: All right. You want to respond to the vice president, Senator Biden?

BIDEN: No, I don't want to respond to him. He's at 20 percent in the polls. No one listens to him. He has no credibility. It's ridiculous.

That's a good response from Biden, and it's the same response Democrats should be making not just for anything that comes out of Dick Cheney's mouth but anything which comes out of George Bush's mouth. Dems seem to generally lack the understanding of how effective general dismissive disdain and contempt can be.


Democrats Cite Report On Troop Cuts in Iraq

Senate Democrats reacted angrily yesterday to a report that the U.S. commander in Iraq had privately presented a plan for significant troop reductions in the same week they came under attack by Republicans for trying to set a timetable for withdrawal.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said that the plan attributed to Gen. George W. Casey resembles the thinking of many Democrats who voted for a nonbinding resolution to begin a troop drawdown in December. That resolution was defeated Thursday on a largely party-line vote in the Senate.

"That means the only people who have fought us and fought us against the timetable, the only ones still saying there shouldn't be a timetable really are the Republicans in the United States Senate and in the Congress," Boxer said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "Now it turns out we're in sync with General Casey."

Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.), one of the two sponsors of the nonbinding resolution, which offered no pace or completion date for a withdrawal, said the report is another sign of what he termed one of the "worst-kept secrets in town" -- that the administration intends to pull out troops before the midterm elections in November.

"It shouldn't be a political decision, but it is going to be with this administration," Levin said on "Fox News Sunday." "It's as clear as your face, which is mighty clear, that before this election, this November, there's going to be troop reductions in Iraq, and the president will then claim some kind of progress or victory."


Greenland's Ice Sheet Is Slip-Sliding Away


The Greenland ice sheet — two miles thick and broad enough to blanket an area the size of Mexico — shapes the world's weather, matched in influence by only Antarctica in the Southern Hemisphere.


Should all of the ice sheet ever thaw, the meltwater could raise sea level 21 feet and swamp the world's coastal cities, home to a billion people. It would cause higher tides, generate more powerful storm surges and, by altering ocean currents, drastically disrupt the global climate.

Climate experts have started to worry that the ice cap is disappearing in ways that computer models had not predicted.

By all accounts, the glaciers of Greenland are melting twice as fast as they were five years ago, even as the ice sheets of Antarctica — the world's largest reservoir of fresh water — also are shrinking, researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Kansas reported in February.


Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2543/288

Most Recent Casualties:
June 26, 2006

Army Pfc. Michael J. Potocki, 21, of Baltimore, Md.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Marine Staff Sgt. Raymond J. Plouhar, 30, of Lake Orion, Mich.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

"Such as it is, the press has become the greatest power within the Western World, more powerful than the legislature, the executive and judiciary. One would like to ask: by whom has it been elected, and to whom is it responsible?"
-Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Kansas Republican Party Chairman Runs As Democrat, Japan Begins Withdrawing Troops From Iraq & 50,000 Iraqis Dead Since Invasion in Todays Details

-At least 50,000 Iraqis have died violently since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, according to statistics from the Baghdad morgue, the Iraqi Health Ministry and other agencies — a toll 20,000 higher than previously acknowledged by the Bush administration. DETAILS

-Japan has begun withdrawing its forces from Iraq five days after deciding to end its first overseas military deployment since World War II in a country where hostilities are under way. DETAILS

-A former driver for Osama bin Laden may help decide the fate of dozens of Guantanamo Bay detainees, and perhaps all of them, as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on his legal challenge to the first U.S. war crimes trials since World War II. The court, which is expected to rule as early as Monday, is considering a range of issues in Salim Ahmed Hamdan's case, including whether President Bush had the authority to order military trials for men captured in the war on terror and sent to the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. DETAILS

-The White House is nearing an agreement with Congress on legislation that would write President Bush's warrantless surveillance program into law, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said Sunday. Bush and senior officials in his administration have said they did not think changes were needed to empower the National Security Agency to eavesdrop — without court approval — on communications between people in the U.S. and overseas when terrorism is suspected. DETAILS

-A federal judge temporarily has barred the government from publicizing its free credit monitoring offer to veterans whose personal data was stolen and wants to see if they might get a better federal offer. Lawyers who have filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the 26.5 million veterans and active-duty troops affected contend that accepting the government's offer could jeopardize their chance of winning more money in the privacy suit. DETAILS

-The squat, bunker-like building in a south Topeka suburb does not look like a place to turn American politics on its head. Nor does Mark Parkinson, a tall, affable man, look too much like a revolutionary. But here, deep in the American heartland, are the warning signs of a political earthquake. The two-storey office block is Parkinson's campaign headquarters as he runs as Democrat candidate for deputy governor. So far, so normal. Except that only a few weeks ago Parkinson was a Republican. In fact, he was Kansas Republican party chairman. DETAILS

Bruce Springsteen & The Seeger Sessions Band Bring 'em Home 23 June 2006

White House, GOP Leaders Plan All-Out Assault on Federal Protections

Apparently rushing to lock in a long-sought goal before the fall elections, GOP congressional leaders may bring to a vote within weeks a proposal that could literally wipe out any federal program that protects public health or the environment--or for that matter civil rights, poverty programs, auto safety, education, affordable housing, Head Start, workplace safety or any other activity targeted by anti-regulatory forces.

With strong support from the Bush White House and the Republican Study Committee, the proposal would create a "sunset commission"--an unelected body with the power to recommend whether a program lives or dies, and then move its recommendations through Congress on a fast-track basis with limited debate and no amendments.

Three leading proposals have been introduced and are being winnowed into a final version. They would give the White House some--or total--authority to nominate members to the commission. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has confirmed that his office is coordinating development of a final version for prompt floor action.

Sunset commissions have been proposed, and defeated, before. But public interest veterans say the current situation is unlike any in the past, because the House Republican Study Committee, which includes some of the most anti-regulatory members of Congress, has secured guaranteed floor consideration of a sunset bill.


U.S. General in Iraq Outlines Timetable for Troop Withdraw

The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.

According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007

Under the plan, the first reductions would involve two combat brigades that would rotate out of Iraq in September without being replaced. Combat brigades, which generally have about 3,500 troops, do not make up the bulk of the 127,000-member American force in Iraq.

American officials emphasized that any withdrawals would depend on continued progress, including the development of competent Iraqi security forces, a reduction in Sunni Arab hostility toward the new Iraqi government and the assumption that the insurgency will not expand beyond Iraq's six central provinces. Even so, the projected troop withdrawals in 2007 are more significant than many experts had expected.

(Funny how just a few days ago when the Dems proposed a timetable for troop withdraw, they were called cowards and cut and runners. A timetable helps the terrorists - we were told. Now we learn there's a timetable for troop withdraw being advanced by the military. The first part of the plan to start shortly before the midterm elections - the REST of the plan of course would be dependent upon conditions on the ground. Since NOTHING has gone the way they said it would why would we expect conditions to be improved enough for the more significant withdraws AFTER the midterms? Why does General Casey want to help the terrorists? Why does General Casey want to cut and run? Hmmmmm? )


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2543/288

Most Recent Casualties:

June 25, 2006

Marine Cpl. Paul N. King, 23, of Tyngsboro, Mass
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Army Pfc. Justin R. Davis
, 19, of Gaithersburg, Md.
-Operation Enduring Freedom

Complete Casualty List

Open Letter From Mother of Lt. Ehren Watada, Resister of Illegal War

I am the mother of Lt. Ehren Watada, an officer stationed at Ft. Lewis. He is part of a Stryker brigade unit that deployed today to Iraq. Despite an unflinching commitment to his men and to democratic ideals, he chose not to accompany his men. His decision came through much soul-searching and through research and consultation with experts across disciplines, inside and outside of the military and the government.

After weighing the evidence, he came to the conclusion that he could no longer be silent while atrocities were committed in the name of democracy. He could no longer be a tool of an administration that used deception and lies to make the case for pre-emptive war.

As a member of the armed forces, sworn to uphold the US Constitution, he refuses to blindly participate in a war of aggression, an illegal war that undermines who we are as a nation and violates international law. Implicit in his oath as an officer is the duty to disobey all unlawful orders, for to carry out these orders renders him an accomplice to a criminal act. Furthermore, to order his men to participate in a war of aggression multiplies his guilt a thousandfold. His conscience will not permit him to do so. He believes that he can best serve them by taking a stand against the war. In so doing, he demonstrates that one does not relinquish the freedom to choose what is right, even in the military, and that the freedom to choose what is right transcends the allegiance to man and institutions.

As a mother, I have evolved from fearing for his safety and for his future to the realization that there is a higher purpose to all that has transpired. My son no longer stands at the crossroads. He has chosen "the road less traveled." Come what may, he is committed to staying the course.

I invite you to affirm your support of Lt. Ehren Watada on June 27th, National Day of Action. On this day, groups across the country will participate in peaceful demonstrations, prayer services, candlelight vigils, parades, leafleting, visitations to recruitment stations to provide counsel to prospective recruits, etc. Please contact your local organization for details.

For updates on news and actions regarding Lt. Watada, please check out: or My deepest thanks,
Carolyn Ho, Ehren's Mom

War would end if the dead could return.
- Stanley Baldwin

VP is Offended by a Free Press, The Terminator Says NO to Bush and Baghdad on Lock Down in Today's Detals

-Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday vigorously defended a secret program that examines banking records of Americans and others in a vast international database, and harshly criticized the news media for disclosing an operation he said was legal and "absolutely essential" to fighting terrorism. "What I find most disturbing about these stories is the fact that some of the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks against the American people," Mr. Cheney said, in impromptu remarks at a fund-raising luncheon for a Republican Congressional candidate in Chicago. "That offends me." (He's offended because the press informed the public? The man whose office outed an undercover CIA operative out of spite is offended? A free press and free & open government is what seems to be offensive to the VP. I wonder what it was he thought he was swearing to when he swore to uphold the constitution? This is the United States. We are not supposed to have a government running secret and clandestine operations under the guise of 'security'. I wonder when the MAJORITY of citizens will put their fear aside and get their heads out of their collective asses and realize that and decide all of this is unacceptable?) DETAILS

-Violence flared in the capital and beyond Friday despite a security crackdown now in its second week, causing the government to clear Baghdad's restive streets for three afternoon hours in an attempt to rein in the clashes. The restrictive measure followed morning firefights -- involving a Shiite Muslim militia, Sunni Muslim insurgents, and U.S. and Iraqi security forces -- in the Haifa Street neighborhood, a Sunni enclave that abuts the fortified Green Zone. (Yet more evidence of the insurgency being in its last throes and that in spite of the media, things are getting better in Iraq.) DETAILS

- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week rejected a request from the Bush administration to send an additional 1,500 National Guard troops to the Mexican border, the governor's office confirmed Friday. The National Guard Bureau, an arm of the Pentagon, asked for the troops to help with the border-patrol mission in New Mexico and Arizona, but Schwarzenegger said the request would stretch the California Guard too thin in case of an emergency or natural disaster. DETAILS

- A Republican gubernatorial candidate's call for creation of a forced labor camp for illegal immigrants drew rebukes Friday from two GOP lawmakers, who labeled it a low point in the immigration debate. Don Goldwater, nephew of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, caused an international stir this week when EFE, a national news agency of Spain, quoted him as saying he wanted to hold undocumented immigrants in camps to use them "as labor in the construction of a wall and to clean the areas of the Arizona desert that they're polluting." DETAILS

-As if beating a five-term congressman wasn't hard enough, John Jacob said he has another foe working against him: the devil. "There's another force that wants to keep us from going to Washington, D.C.," Jacob said. "It's the devil is what it is. I don't want you to print that, but it feels like that's what it is." DETAILS

A U.S. district judge in Baltimore yesterday heard arguments over the validity of Maryland's controversial law requiring large companies -- namely Wal-Mart -- to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on health benefits. At issue was whether the state legislation is preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which sets minimum standards for private companies' voluntary pension and health plans. The state law was enacted earlier this year despite a veto attempt by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. DETAILS

Saturday, June 24, 2006

White House orchestrates effort to scare the pants off you!

The White House is making political hay out of what many experts are calling a weak indictment. The top progressive talker applauds law enforcement officials but says the White House is wrong for trying to scare the pants off every American. If homegrown terror is such a threat why did they cut the homeland security funding to New York and Washington by 40% asks the fiery red head sitting lakeside on a Friday.

Maliki's Master Reconciliation Plan For Iraq

A timetable for withdrawal of occupation troops from Iraq. Amnesty for all insurgents who attacked U.S. and Iraqi military targets. Release of all security detainees from U.S. and Iraqi prisons. Compensation for victims of coalition military operations.

Those sound like the demands of some of the insurgents themselves, and in fact they are. But they're also key clauses of a national reconciliation plan drafted by new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who will unveil it Sunday. The provisions will spark sharp debate in Iraq—but the fiercest opposition is likely to come from Washington, which has opposed any talk of timetables, or of amnesty for insurgents who have attacked American soldiers.

But in Iraq, even a senior military official in the U.S.-led coalition said Friday that the coalition might consider a timetable under certain circumstances. And the official was careful to point out that a distinction needs to be made between terrorists and the resistance.

NEWSWEEK has obtained a draft copy of the national reconciliation plan, and verified its contents with two Iraqi officials involved in the reconciliation process who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the plan's contents. Prime Minister Maliki will present the document to the National Assembly when it convenes on Sunday, and it's expected to be debated over the coming week. Maliki has made reconciliation and control of party militias the main emphasis of his new government. This plan follows a series of secret negotiations over the past two months between seven insurgent groups, President Jalal Talabani and officials of the U.S. embassy. The insurgent groups involved are Sunnis but do not include foreign jihadis like al Qaeda and other terrorist factions who deliberately target civilians; those groups have always denounced any negotiations.


Five More U.S. Service Members Killed in Iraq

The U.S. military reported the deaths of five service members in recent days. Two soldiers were killed Friday morning in a roadside bomb attack on their vehicle southeast of Baghdad. Two Marines were killed in insurgent attacks in the western province of Anbar, one Wednesday and one Thursday. And a soldier in the Baghdad area died Wednesday in a "non-combat-related incident" that is under investigation, the military said. No further details were provided.


Lieberman Faces Serious Test From Lamont

From Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:

National Democratic insiders aren’t pulling many punches when it comes to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (D-CT) primary in Connecticut against businessman Ned Lamont. They are saying that Lieberman could lose. The senator is having considerable problems with older white men, and his allies are counting on strong support in the minority community and from women to squeeze out a victory over the anti-war challenger.

But Republicans did Lieberman no favor this week with recent floor votes on Iraq, and the senator stayed true to his principles by voting against both Democratic resolutions. That undoubtedly gave Lamont and the anti-Lieberman crowd more ammunition to make their "he’s out of touch with us" argument.

Lieberman’s refusal to say that he will abide by the results of the primary and rule out an Independent bid is also giving Lamont’s folks just what they want -- evidence that Lieberman isn’t a "real" Democrat.


Don't Mess With "The Boss"

In a recent interview, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien asked Bruce Springsteen (aka “The Boss”) about criticism he has received for taking a stand on political issues.

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2543/288

Most Recent Casualties:

June 24, 2006

Army Staff Sgt. Virrueta A. Sanchez
, 33, of Houston
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Master Sgt. Thomas D. Maholic, 38, of Bradford, Pa.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Sgt. Benjamin J. Laymon, 22, of Mount Vernon, Ohio
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Sgt. Justin D. Norton, 21, of Rainier, Wash.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

[I]n such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners.
-Albert Camus

State of Emergency Declared in Iraq, 7 People Arrested in Domestic Terrorist Plot & Ralph Reed Collects Big Bucks in God's Behalf in Today's Details

-Social Security numbers and other personal data for 28,000 sailors and members of their families have been found on a civilian Web site, triggering a criminal investigation. The Navy said Friday the information was in five documents and included people's names, birth dates and Social Security numbers. Navy spokesman Lt. Justin Cole would not identify the Web site or its owner, but said the information had been removed. He would not provide any details about how the information ended up on the site. DETAILS

-A bipartisan Senate report released on Thursday documented more than $5.3 million in payments to Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition and a leading Republican Party strategist, from an influence-peddling operation run by the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff on behalf of Indian tribe casinos. The report by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee portrayed Mr. Reed, now a candidate for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in his home state of Georgia, as a central figure in Mr. Abramoff's lobbying operation, the focus of a criminal investigation by the Justice Department. (God sure does require a lot of cash to be on the side of Republicans.) DETAILS

-The Iraqi government declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew Friday after insurgents set up roadblocks in central Baghdad and fired on U.S. and Iraqi troops outside the heavily fortified Green Zone. (Because the insurgency is in its last throes - blah, blah, blah.....) DETAILS

-Seven people were arrested Thursday in connection with the early stages of a plot to attack Chicago's Sears Tower and other buildings in the U.S., a federal law enforcement official said. (Sadly, I don't trust my governments take on this. This story makes me think of the 2004 election cycle and the use of 'terror alerts'. I suspect this is the same thing - except NOW it also involves the presidents illegal wiretapping policy. Designed to make it palatable to the public in the WEEKS before the election. Im not a conspiracy theorist - I just don't trust them - and neither should you.) DETAILS

-Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, the only Democrat in President Bush's Cabinet, will step down next month. DETAILS

-Republican Senator, Rick Santorum, down 18 percent in the polls in his own re-election bid... "joined" by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Pete Hoekstra of Michigan... in pimping part of a two-month old military intelligence report describing the existence of old munitions shells with chemical weapons that are degraded, unusable, and non-threatening....see our friends at CrookandLiars for the rest of the DETAILS

-Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials. DETAILS

-Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) further inflamed his party's liberal base yesterday by opposing two Senate measures seeking to limit the scope of the war in Iraq. In doing so, Lieberman may have further jeopardized his chances of defeating businessman Ned Lamont in the state's Aug. 8 primary. Lamont, a political unknown until a few months ago, has drawn national attention and rising poll numbers at home in recent weeks -- especially after he drew support from a third of the delegates at a recent state party convention. DETAILS

Friday, June 23, 2006

Not Just A Number

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow was asked if President Bush had any reaction to the death toll for U.S. troops in Iraq reaching 2,500. Snow responded: "It's a number." Over 2,500 families have lost U.S. troops to this war. How dare they say those lives lost are just a number!

Gonzales to be Grilled on Ignoring Laws

750 'signing statements' signal possible bypass of spying and torture rules.

The Bush administration will have to explain why it thinks it can ignore or overrule laws passed by Congress in a hearing next week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said Wednesday.

Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said he hoped to force the Bush administration to reduce its use of "signing statements" -- memos that reserve the right to ignore laws if the president thinks they impinge on his authority.

"Our legislation doesn't amount to anything if the president can say, 'My constitutional authority supersedes the statute.' And I think we've got to lay down the gauntlet and challenge him on it," Specter said in a telephone interview.


Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2515/286

Most Recent Casualties:

June 5, 2006

Petty Officer 1st Class Gary T. Rovinski, 44, of Roseville, Ill.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Army Cpl. Derek A. Stanley, 20, of Tulsa, Okla
-Operation Enduring Freedom

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jaime S. Jaenke, 29, of Bay City, Wis
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Army Spc. Issac S. Lawson
, 35, of Sacramento, Calif
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2543/288

Most Recent Casualties:
June 23, 2006

Army Pfc. Paul A. Beyer, 21, of Jamestown, N.D.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Army Cpl Ryan J. Buckley
, 21, of Nokomis, Ill.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Staff Sgt. Mario J. Bievre
, 34, of Glendale Heights, Ill.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Pfc. Devon J. Gibbons, 19, of Port Orchard, Wash
-Operation Iraqi Freedom
Army Spc. Channing G. Singletary, 30, of Sylvester, Ga.
-Operation Iraqi Freedom

Complete Casualty List

These latest deaths in Iraq give the lie to President Bush's claim that by fighting the insurgents in Iraq we avoid fighting them at home. The war is coming home, in the form of 2,500 American casualties.
-Ruth Conniff

7 Arrested in Sears Tower Plot, Santorum Debunked on WMD Claim & Army Raising Enlistment Age in Today's Details

-The Earth is the hottest it has been in at least 400 years, probably even longer. The National Academy of Sciences, reaching that conclusion in a broad review of scientific work requested by Congress, reported Thursday that the "recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia." DETAILS

-Seven people were arrested Thursday in connection with the early stages of a plot to attack Chicago's Sears Tower and other buildings in the U.S., a federal law enforcement official said. (Sadly, I don't trust my governments take on this. This story makes me think of the 2004 election cycle and the use of 'terror alerts'. I suspect this is the same thing - except NOW it also involves the presidents illegal wiretapping policy. Designed to make it palatable to the public in the WEEKS before the election. Im not a conspiracy theorist - I just don't trust them - and neither should you.) DETAILS

- The government agency charged with fighting identity theft said Thursday it had lost two government laptops containing sensitive personal data, the latest in a series of breaches encompassing millions of people. DETAILS

-The U.S. Army, aiming to make its recruiting goals amid the Iraq war, raised its maximum enlistment age by another two years on Wednesday, while the Army Reserve predicted it will miss its recruiting target for a second straight year. DETAILS

-Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials. DETAILS

-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) are hyping a document that describes degraded, pre-1991 munitions that were already acknowledged by the White House’s Iraq Survey Group and dismissed. The Defense Department has already knocked the story down. But on Fox this is big news, proving that Saddam Hussein had WMD, just as the administration claimed. DETAILS

-The GOP-controlled Senate on Thursday rejected Democratic calls to start withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq by year's end, as the two parties sought to define their election-year positions on a war that has grown increasingly unpopular. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada portrayed Republican leaders as blindly following President Bush's "failed" stay-the-course strategy. "It is long past time to change course in Iraq and start to end the president's open-ended commitment," he said. DETAILS

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Real Maverick - Russ Feingold is mad as hell!

A brief recap: He was the only U.S. senator to vote against the Patriot Act. The only one with the guts to raise the notion of impeachment. One of the very few to have a consistent record against the war in Iraq. The only senator, it seems, who has truly earned his maverick status. On a glorious May day in Washington, the 53-year-old junior senator (and Rhodes Scholar) from Wisconsin took some time to talk about Tiger Woods, the war on terror, illegal wiretapping, bachelorhood, and Hillary’s sense of humor.


Anderson Cooper on The Daily Show

The Impenetrable Fog of Bill O'Reilly

By Don Wycliff

If intellectual dishonesty could be said to have a face, I saw it Tuesday evening as I watched Bill O'Reilly's program on Fox News.

I watched without the benefit of sound--if any was coming from the television it couldn't be heard over the din in the bar where I was in Mishawaka, Ind. But Fox conveniently runs a stripped-down text next to O'Reilly's image as he delivers his opening commentary. And there was, in addition, captioning beneath the picture for hearing-impaired viewers--or people who happen to be in noisy bars.

O'Reilly was burned up about the mutilation and murders of those two American soldiers--Pfc. Thomas Tucker and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca--who were captured in Iraq by insurgents last week and whose bodies were retrieved Tuesday.

What civilized person would not have been? The military didn't give a detailed public description of the conditions of the soldier's bodies, but decapitation seems to have been the least of the savageries inflicted on them--and may have been a grisly coup de grace.

O'Reilly wasn't just mad about what had happened to these two young Americans; he wanted something done about it. We've got to get tougher and more aggressive, he opined. Outfits like the American Civil Liberties Union and Air America need to be "exposed," and all those who inadvertently help the enemy--like ministers who sign petitions against torture--should mind their p's and q's. And the Iraqi government ought to declare martial law in some parts of Iraq that O'Reilly considers in particular need of iron-fist treatment.

After O'Reilly finished his rant, he brought on two retired generals who apparently serve as regular expert commentators on Fox. For several minutes Wild Bill and this posse took out after the murderous barbarians in Iraq, as well as the "liberals" and dupes here in the U.S. who insist on hobbling the war effort by exercising their rights to think and speak freely.

There was much fuming about "taking the handcuffs off" and "taking the gloves off" and people cowing the Bush administration and forcing it to fight the war "defensively," which after all was exactly how the war in Vietnam had been wrongly fought. And they all arrived at the same conclusion: The U.S. must fight this war to "win" or bring our troops home.

Bill. Bill. Bill. Bill. Bill. You ignorant sl ... How do you face yourself in the mirror each morning?

Less than two years ago, George W. Bush won a second term in office with the biggest popular vote in American history. His party controls both houses of Congress. The ACLU is preoccupied with controlling the speech of its board of directors. The New York Times, which also came in for some of Bill's dishonorable mention, has not endorsed the winner in the last two presidential elections.

And yet you, Bill, are peddling the notion that Bush is hamstrung in fighting the Iraq war because of domestic doubt and opposition from the left.

And then there's your call for the Iraqi government to declare "martial law."

Bill, that is so-o-o-o Saddam of you. Don't you understand that to declare martial law, you have to have a functioning military? And that the reason Menchaca and Tucker and 130,000 or so of our neighbors and family members are in Iraq is precisely because it doesn't have a functioning military? And that the reason it doesn't have a functioning military is because we smashed it because Saddam Hussein ... Well, let's not go there.

Bill, does the name Eric Shinseki mean anything to you? On the assumption that it doesn't, let me explain that he was the Army chief of staff who was shown the door by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld after Shinseki had the audacity to tell members of Congress that we would need "several hundred thousand soldiers" to control Iraq after an invasion.

Bill, it wasn't the press or the Democrats or the ACLU or Air America that sent our soldiers to Iraq in numbers that evidently are too small to control the place. It was Don Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz who did that, because they had some notions about smaller, lighter, quicker forces that ... Well, let's not go there.

Bill, I understand your dilemma. You want to blame somebody for outrages like the murders of Menchaca and Tucker, but if you put the blame where it really belongs, you have to say bad things about some people for whom you have been a cheerleader.

It's OK , Bill. Nobody who cares about the truth takes you seriously anyway.


Don Wycliff is associate vice president for news and information at the University of Notre Dame and teaches media criticism ther