Sunday, January 30, 2005

Recommended Online Viewing

Via Green Cine Daily:
America's Biggest Dick takes Dick Cheney's 2004 convention speech and replaces the audio with lines from Scarface. The result is both funny and scary. Check it out.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

You're Welcome

Via President Boxer:
Senator Barbara Boxer (H.O.D.) thanks Daily Kos and the blogosphere as a whole for their help durinng the Rice nomination hearings.

I know there aren't many of you seeing this, if anyone, but I still like to think I helped.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Boxer/Rice SNL Sketch

Via President Boxer:

Crooks and Liars has a very funny clip of a Saturday Night Live sketch based on last week's hearings. I'm sorry I missed it, but I haven't watched SNL regularly in a long time.

Senate Dems Show Backbone

In two seperate votes, Senate Democrats showed they do have some backbone. Condoleeza Rice was confirmed 85-13. It was the most no votes for any Secretary of State nominee since 1825. Alberto Gonzales cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee 10-8, a straight party line vote. One clue that Democrats are starting to wake up is Dianne Feinstein. She voted to approve Rice in the Foreign Relations Committee, yet she voted against Gonzales. To my view, they're both equally abhorrent, so maybe she's starting to get it.

Since I named names before, I'll do it again. These are the Democrats who voted against Rice:

Akaka (D-HI)
Bayh (D-IN)
Boxer (D-CA) (H.O.D.)
Byrd (D-WV)
Dayton (D-MN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Harkin (D-IA)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Levin (D-MI)
Reed (D-RI)

The Judiciary Committee's web site isn't up to date so I can't find an accurate list of how they voted. Will update when I find out.

Coalition of the Willing, R.I.P.

Reuters reported Friday that the administration has scrapped the list of countries known as the "coalition of the willing", Bush's term for the countries who were providing varying levels of support for the war effort. No reason was given.

I suppose it wouldn't have any thing to do with the fact that countries are leaving the coalition in droves, would it?

Cartoon of the Day

Monday's Non Sequitur. Tuesday's and Wednesday's aren't bad either. :)

Democrats DO Speak Out

I'm a regular listener to Air America, and I don't know how many times I've heard people call in and ask, "Where are the Democrats?" The Democrats don't always stand up when they should but, the biggest part of the problem is that the media doesn't report it when they do speak out.

In that spirit, since it probably wasn't covered at all by the mainstream media, I'd thought I'd share a portion of Senator Robert Byrd's speech during the debate of Condoleeza Rice's confirmation yesterday. He spoke for an hour, but you can read or listen to a good portion of it here. This was his closing:

Mr. President, Dr. Rice's record in many ways is one to be greatly admired. She is a very intelligent lady, very knowledgeable about the subject matter, very warm and congenial, but the stakes for the United States are too high. I cannot endorse higher responsibilities for those who helped to set our great country down the path of increasing isolation, enmity in the world and a war that has no end. Oh, when will our boys come home? When will our men and women be able to sit down at the table with their families and their friends in their own communities again? For these reasons, I shall cast my vote in opposition to the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice to be the next Secretary of State.

Another Pundit Paid

When the Armstrong Williams scandal broke, he let it slip that he wasn't the only one getting paid. Today he was proved right when it was reported that columnist Maggie Gallagher was paid $21,500 by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the agency's marriage initiative.

In a weird way, I find this encouraging, because I know there can't really be that many people who actually buy the Administration's line of BS. The only reason why anyone would, because they were getting paid. It's just to bad that the accounting's probably too well hidden to show the connection between the White House and Fox News.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Dems Take Page from GOP Playbook (Gasp!)

Via The Carpetbagger Report:
Looks like Senate Democrats are copying the Contract With America by laying out their own legislative agenda known as "Keeping America's Promise". I think this is a good move, it will help to blunt GOP criticism that Democrats aren't for anything just against them. Here are the specifics:

Putting America's Security First

S.11: Standing With Our Troops. Democrats believe that putting America’s security first means standing up for our troops and their families. Democrats will work to increase our military end strength by up to 40,000 by 2007. We will create a Guard and Reserve Bill of Rights to protect and promote the interests of our dedicated citizen soldiers. Democrats will also fight for the families of those who serve our country. This includes providing income security and immediate access to affordable health care.

S. 12: Targeting the Terrorists More Effectively. Keeping America secure means stepping up the fight against the radical Islamic fundamentalism. Democrats will work to increase our Special Operations forces by 2,000 to attack the terrorists where they are and to protect our freedoms here at home. We will further enhance our efforts against enemies by targeting the institutions that spawn new terrorists. Democrats are also united to ensure that the world’s most dangerous weapons stay out of the hands of terrorists. We will expand the pace and scope of programs to eliminate and safeguard nuclear materials, enhance efforts to keep these and other deadly materials out of the hands of terrorists, and assist state and local governments in equipping and training those responsible for dealing with the effects of terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.

S. 13: Fulfilling Our Duty to America’s Veterans. A key component of keeping America secure is protecting the rights of our veterans. Since the time of Lincoln, Americans have made and kept a sacred commitment to those who served this nation in the defense of freedom. As a new generation of veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan, Democrats are united to fulfill that promise. We will ensure that all veterans get the health care they deserve while also expanding the availability and accessibility of mental health care. We will ensure that no veteran is forced to choose between a retirement and disability check. We will also make the same commitment to the soldiers of today that was made to past veterans with a 21st Century GI Bill.

(These first three are basically Kerry campaign promises)

Expanding Opportunity To All Americans:

S. 14: Expanding Economic Opportunity. Democrats understand that the most effective means of increasing opportunity for our families is a high quality, good paying job. Democrats will fight to restore overtime protection to 6 million workers and increase the minimum wage for 7.4 million workers. We must do more to create good jobs today and in the future and the Democratic bill does so by eliminating tax incentives for companies that take jobs overseas, creating new jobs through an expansion of infrastructure programs to repair America’s backbone, and encouraging innovation in the American economy. We are also determined to pursue a trade policy that protects American workers and addresses our record trade deficit. Democrats will work to strengthen enforcement of our trade agreements while assisting those workers who have been unduly burdened by unfair trading practices of other nations.

S. 15: Quality Education for All. Democrats are committed to providing a quality education to all Americans because we recognize that education has always been the cornerstone of equal opportunity. Democrats will keep our promise to our children by increasing support for pre-school education, fully funding No Child Left Behind and improving its implementation. We are committed to providing safe and reliable transportation for our rural school children and meeting the Federal commitment to children with disabilities. Democrats will also address the shortfall of math, science and special education teachers by creating tuition incentives for college students to major in those fields. We will help expand educational opportunities for college by providing relief from skyrocketing college tuition, increasing the size and access to Pell Grants and supporting proven programs that encourage more young people to attend and succeed in college.

S. 16: Making Health Care More Affordable. Spiraling health care costs are putting the opportunity of America at risk, making it harder for families to buy health insurance and placing a difficult burden on small businesses and manufacturers. Democrats will address these concerns by making prescription drugs more affordable through the legalization of prescription drug reimportation and more safe by ensuring drugs are monitored after they are approved for use. Democrats will ensure that all children and pregnant women will have health care and protect Medicaid. We will reduce the growing cost of health care to small businesses by offering tax credits while also modernizing health care to cut costs for patients and businesses.

S. 17: Democracy Begins at Home. Equal opportunity in this country is based upon equal representation and fair voting. Democrats are determined to reforming the voting system in this country to create Federal standards for our elections. The bill adds verification, accountability and accuracy to the system. It increases access to the polls with Election Day registration, shorter lines and early voting. The bill also aims to modernize our election equipment and increase impartiality and provides the resources to our states to implement the bill.

Meeting Our Responsibility To The Future And The Past:

S. 18: Meeting Our Responsibility to Medicare Beneficiaries. Democrats will take the special interests out of the Medicare law by repealing the provision that prevents Medicare from negotiating better prices for seniors and eliminating the slush fund for HMOs. We will also improve the prescription drug benefit by phasing out the current doughnut hole where seniors pay a premium but get no benefit. We will buy down the Part B premium so premium increases are not too steep. We will address incentives that encourage employers to drop retiree benefits and we will ensure that no seniors are forced into HMOs while helping seniors in their transition to the new benefit.

S. 19: Fiscal Responsibility for a Sound Future. Democrats know that fiscal mismanagement today only leads to greater problems for our children. It is our responsibility to address the fiscal irresponsibility of the current Administration by imposing discipline today and Democrats are united to strengthen budgeting rules that require the government to live within its means.

S. 20: Putting Prevention First. Democrats are committed to reducing unintended pregnancies by increasing access to family planning services and improving contraceptive coverage. We will increase funding for family planning and empower states to enable more women to take responsibility for their health. We will also improve contraceptive coverage by assuring equity in prescription drug insurance.

Bush by the Numbers

Via The Carpetbagger Report:
Numeralist lays out the numbers on Bush's "achievements" during his first four years in office.

Poverty Rate
2000: 11.3% or 31.6 million Americans
2003: 12.5% or 35.9 million Americans

Stock market
Dow Jones Industrial Average
1/19/01: 10,587.59
1/19/05: 10,539.97

1/19/01: 2,770.38
1/19/05: 2,073.59

S&P 500
1/19/01: 1,342.54
1/19/05: 1,184.63

Value of the Dollar
1/19/01: 1 Dollar = 1.06 Euros
1/19/05: 1 Dollar = 0.77 Euros

2000 budget surplus $236.4 billion
2004 budget deficit $412.6 billion
That's a shift of $649 billion and doesn't include the cost of the Iraq war.

Cost of the war in Iraq
$150.8 billion

American Casualties in Iraq
Deaths: 1,369
Wounded: 10,252

The Debt
End of 2000: $5.7 trillion
Today: $7.6 trillion
That's a 4 year increase of 33%.

What the Networks Aren't Showing You

Democracy Now! had great coverage of Inauguration protests on their Friday and Monday shows. Actual reports from the people who carried them out. You won't see this on the networks, although I understand that C-SPAN covered the protests live on the day.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Just for Laughs

Via Boing Boing:

German police are are on the hunt for pranksters who are placing miniature American flgs in piles of dog poop in public parks. The German police are baffled:

"We have sent out extra patrols to try to catch whoever is doing this in the act," said police spokesman Reiner Kuechler.

"But frankly, we don't know what we would do if we caught them red handed."

George W Bush: Inspiring the world since 2001.

Powell Resigns

Michael Powell announced Friday that he was stepping down as chair of the FCC. The countdown now begins as to which big media corporation hires him as a reward for being so favorable to them during his term.

Naming Names

Here's how the Democrats othe Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on Condoleeza Rice's confirmation.

Joe Biden
Paul Sarbanes
Chris Dodd
Russ Feingold
Bill Nelson
Barack Obama (I'm SO disappointed!)

Who are these guys trying to impress? It's not going to help them with the Republicans, because they aren't going to deal with the Democrats anyway. By voting in favor of Rice, all they do is piss off regular Democrats like me, who tend to remember such things, come election and fundraising time. If they really want us to believe that they're fighting for us, they can't roll over on the first chance they get.

John Kerry (It's about time he showed some backbone)
Barbara Boxer (H.O.D.)

Recommended Reading

Salon has a brilliant interview with Senator Barbara Boxer (H.O.D.) If every Democratic Senator was like she is, the country would be a lot better off. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the interview.

The questions were asked, but at the end of the day, most of your Democratic colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cast their votes for Rice.
Many of my colleagues have different rules when it comes to voting on Cabinet members. I set a bar that's very high because I think these positions are very powerful, and others set them lower because they think the most important thing is that the president gets who he wants. I take "advice and consent" very seriously, perhaps more seriously than others. That's their choice.

Biden lambasted Rice for "parroting" false statements from the Pentagon, but then he voted in favor of her confirmation anyway. With so many Democrats choosing that kind of path, what's the value in the confrontational approach you've taken?

America cares. They're watching, and it's an opportunity to lay out the issues, to send a message that you're going to be watching, and I think that was achieved. At the end of the day, we achieved that. Here's the thing, a lot of the people in the media -- and I'm talking about the more conventional media -- all they care about is the score. They don't care about the process. But the beauty of our country is that there is this process called democracy, and it's just as important as the end result.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Boxer Asks the Tough Questiions

Senator Barbara Boxer (H.O.D.) is quickly becoming my favorite Senator. During the confirmation hearings for Condoleeza Rice, Senator Boxer was the only one whohad the guts to ask Rice the tough questions. She confronts Rice with the contradictions in her own statements and Rice couldn't weasel out of it. Only Senator Lugar's call of recess saved her.

Here's the transcript of the exchange between Rice and Boxer via The San Francisco Chronicle

SEN. BOXER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Dr. Rice, for agreeing to stay as long as it takes, because some of us do have a lot of questions.

And, Senator Lugar, you are a very fair chairman, and I wanted to say to the new members also welcome -- and you'll enjoy this committee, because we have such a great chairman and such a terrific ranking member, and we really do a lot of things in a bipartisan way, unlike other committees. And I think you're going to enjoy your time here.

Dr. Rice, before I get to my formal remarks, you no doubt will be confirmed -- that's at least what we think. And if you're going to become the voice of diplomacy -- this is just a helpful point -- when Senator Voinovich mentioned the issue of tsunami relief, you said -- your first words were, "The tsunami was a wonderful opportunity for us." Now, the tsunami was one of the worst tragedies of our lifetime -- one of the worst -- and it's going to have a 10-year impact on rebuilding that area. I was very disappointed in your statement. I think you blew the opportunity. You mention it as part of one sentence. And I would hope to work with you on this, because children are suffering, we're worried they're going to get in the sex trade. This thing is a disaster, a true natural disaster and a human disaster of great proportions, and I hope that the State Department will take a huge lead under your leadership in helping those folks in the long range.

Well, Mr. Chairman, again I thank you. I am -- Dr. Rice, I was glad you mentioned Martin Luther King -- it was very appropriate, given everything. And he also said, Martin Luther King, quote, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." And one of the things that matters most to my people in California and the people in America is this war in Iraq.

Now, it took you to page three of your testimony to mention the word "Iraq." You said very little really about it, and only in the questioning have we been able to get into some areas. Perhaps you agree with President Bush, who said all that's been resolved. I'm quoting today's Post: "Bush said in an interview last week with the Washington Post that the '04 election was a moment of accountability for the decisions he made in Iraq." But today's Washington Post/ABC poll found that 58 percent disapprove of his handling of the situation, to 40 percent who approve -- and only 44 percent said the war was worth fighting.

So in your statement it takes you to page three to mention the word "Iraq." Then you mention it in the context of elections -- which is fine -- but you never even mention indirectly the 1,366 American troops that have died, or the 10,372 who have been wounded -- many mentally, as a report that I read over the weekend that maybe a third will come home and need help because of what they saw -- it's been so traumatic to them. And 25 percent of those dead are from my home state. And this from a war that was based on what everyone now says, including your own administration, were falsehoods about WMDs, weapons of mass destruction. And I've had tens of thousands of people from all over the country say that they disagree -- although they respect the president -- they disagree that this administration and the people in it shouldn't be held accountable. I don't know if you saw the movie, "The Fog of War" -- war is a nightmare, you know that. Colin Powell I think was the most eloquent I've heard on it, because he's seen it himself -- he's been there and done it. And I don't want to have you in a circumstance where you're writing something years later about the fog of war. And I'm fearful if we don't see some changes here we're going to have trouble.

And I think the way we should start is by trying to set the record straight on some of the things you said going into this war. Now, since 9/11 we've been engaged in a just fight against terror. And I, like Senator Feingold and everyone here who was in the Senate at the time, voted to go after Osama bin Laden and to go after the Taliban, and to defeat al Qaeda. And you say they have left territory -- that's not true. Your own documents show that al Qaeda has expanded from 45 countries in '01 to more than 60 countries today.

Well, with you in the lead role, Dr. Rice, we went into Iraq. I want to read you a paragraph that best expresses my views, and ask my staff if they would hold this up -- and I believe the views of millions of Californians and Americans. It was written by one of the world's experts on terrorism, Peter Bergen, five months ago. He wrote: "What we have done in Iraq is what bin Laden could not have hoped for in his wildest dreams: We invaded an oil-rich Muslim nation in the heart of the Middle East, the very type of imperial adventure bin Laden has long predicted was the U.S.'s long-term goal in the region. We deposed the secular socialist Saddam, whom bin Laden has long despised, ignited Sunni and Shi'a fundamentalist fervor in Iraq, and have now provoked a defensive jihad that has galvanized jihad- minded Muslims around the world. It's hard to imagine a set of policies better designed to sabotage the war on terror." This conclusion was reiterated last Thursday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank, which released a report saying that Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of professionalized terrorists.

That's your own administration's CIA. NIC chairman Robert Hutchings said Iraq is, quote, "a magnet for international terrorist activity."

And this was not the case in '01. And I have great proof of it, including a State Department document that lists every country -- could you hold that up? -- in which al Qaeda operated prior to 9/11. And you can see the countries; no mention of Iraq. And this booklet was signed off on by the president of the United States, George W. Bush. It was put out by George Bush's State Department, and he signed it. There was no al Qaeda activity there -- no cells.

Now, the war was sold to the American people, as Chief of Staff to President Bush Andy Card said, like a "new product." Those were his words. Remember, he said, "You don't roll out a new product in the summer." Now, you rolled out the idea and then you had to convince the people, as you made your case with the president.

And I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth. And I don't say it lightly, and I'm going to go into the documents that show your statements and the facts at the time.

Now, I don't want the families of those 1,366 troops that were killed or the 10,372 that were wounded to believe for a minute that their lives and their bodies were given in vain, because when your commander-in-chief asks you to sacrifice yourself for your country, it is the most noble thing you can do to answer that call.

I am giving their families, as we all are here, all the support they want and need. But I also will not shrink from questioning a war that was not built on the truth.

Now, perhaps the most well-known statement you've made was the one about Saddam Hussein launching a nuclear weapon on America with the image of, quote, quoting you, "a mushroom cloud." That image had to frighten every American into believing that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of annihilating them if he was not stopped. And I will be placing into the record a number of such statements you made which have not been consistent with the facts.

As the nominee for secretary of State, you must answer to the American people, and you are doing that now through this confirmation process. And I continue to stand in awe of our founders, who understood that ultimately those of us in the highest positions of our government must be held accountable to the people we serve.

So I want to show you some statements that you made regarding the nuclear threat and the ability of Saddam to attack us. Now, September 5th -- let me get to the right package here. On July 30th, 2003, you were asked by PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill if you continued to stand by the claims you made about Saddam's nuclear program in the days and months leading up to the war.

In what appears to be an effort to downplay the nuclear-weapons scare tactics you used before the war, your answer was, and I quote, "It was a case that said he was trying to reconstitute. He's trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Nobody ever said that it was going to be the next year." So that's what you said to the American people on television -- "Nobody ever said it was going to be the next year."

Well, that wasn't true, because nine months before you said this to the American people, what had George Bush said, President Bush, at his speech at the Cincinnati Museum Center? "If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy or steal an amount of highly-enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year."

So the president tells the people there could be a weapon. Nine months later you said no one ever said he could have a weapon in a year, when in fact the president said it.

And here's the real kicker. On October 10th, '04, on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, three months ago, you were asked about CIA Director Tenet's remark that prior to the war he had, quote, "made it clear to the White House that he thought the nuclear-weapons program was much weaker than the program to develop other WMDs. Your response was this: "The intelligence assessment was that he was reconstituting his nuclear program; that, left unchecked, he would have a nuclear weapon by the end of the year."

So here you are, first contradicting the president and then contradicting yourself. So it's hard to even ask you a question about this, because you are on the record basically taking two sides of an issue. And this does not serve the American people.

If it served your purpose to downplay the threat of nuclear weapons, you said, "No one said he's going to have it in a year." But then later, when you thought that perhaps you were on more solid ground with the American people because at the time the war was probably popular, or more popular, you'd say, "We thought he was going to have a weapon within a year."

And this is -- the question is, this is a pattern here of what I see from you on this issue, on the issue of the aluminum tubes, on the issue of whether al Qaeda was actually involved in Iraq, which you've said many times. And in my rounds -- I don't have any questions on this round, because I'm just laying this out; I do have questions on further rounds about similar contradictions. It's very troubling.

You know, if you were rolling out a new product like a can opener, who would care about what we said? But this product is a war, and people are dead and dying, and people are now saying they're not going to go back because of what they experienced there. And it's very serious.

And as much as I want to look ahead -- and we will work together on a myriad of issues -- it's hard for me to let go of this war, because people are still dying. And you have not laid out an exit strategy. You've not set up a timetable.

And you don't seem to be willing to, A, admit a mistake, or give any indication of what you're going to do to forcefully involve others. As a matter of fact, you've said more misstatements; that the territory of the terrorists has been shrinking when your own administration says it's now expanded to 60 countries. So I am deeply troubled.

MS. RICE: Senator, may I respond?

SEN. LUGAR: Yes, let me just say that I appreciate the importance of Senator Boxer's statement. That's why we allowed the statement to continue for several more minutes of time.

SEN. BOXER: I'm sorry, I lost track of time.

SEN. LUGAR: But clearly you ought to have the right to respond. Then, at that point, we're going to have a recess. But will you please give your response?

MS. RICE: Yes. Senator, I am more than aware of the stakes that we face in Iraq, and I was more than aware of the stakes of going to war in Iraq. I mourn and honor -- I mourn the dead and honor their service, because we have asked American men and women in uniform to do the hardest thing, which is to go and defend freedom and give others an opportunity to build a free society, which will make us safer.

Senator, I have to say that I have never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. It is not my nature. It is not my character. And I would hope that we can have this conversation and discuss what happened before and what went on before and what I said without impugning my credibility or my integrity.

The fact is that we did face a very difficult intelligence challenge in trying to understand what Saddam Hussein had in terms of weapons of mass destruction. We knew something about him. We knew that he had -- we had gone to war with him twice in the past, in 1991 and in 1998.

We knew that he continued to shoot at American aircraft in the no-fly zone as we tried to enforce the resolutions of U.N. Security -- that the U.N. Security Council had passed. We knew that he continued to threaten his neighbors. We knew that he was an implacable enemy of the United States who did cavort with terrorists.

We knew that he was the world's most dangerous man in the world's most dangerous region. And we knew that in terms of weapons of mass destruction, he had sought them before, tried to build them before, that he had an undetected biological weapons program that we didn't learn of until 1995, that he was closer to a nuclear weapon in 1991 than anybody thought. And we knew, most importantly, that he had used weapons of mass destruction.

That was the context that frankly made us awfully suspicious when he refused to account for his weapons-of-mass-destruction programs despite repeated Security Council resolutions and despite the fact that he was given one last chance to comply with Resolution 1441.

Now, there were lots of data points about his weapons-of-mass- destruction progra MS. Some were right and some were not. But what was right was that there was an unbreakable link between Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction. That is something that Charlie Duelfer, in his report of the Iraq survey group, has made very clear, that Saddam Hussein intended to continue his weapons-of-mass- destruction activities, that he had laboratories that were run by his security services. I could go on and on.

But Senator Boxer, we went to war not because of aluminum tubes. We went to war because this was the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a man against whom we had gone to war before, who threatened his neighbors, who threatened our interests, who was one of the world's most brutal dictators. And it was high time to get rid of him, and I'm glad that we're rid of him.

Now, as to the statement about territory and the terrorist groups, I was referring to the fact that the al Qaeda organization of Osama bin Laden, which once trained openly in Afghanistan, which once ran with impunity in places like Pakistan, can no longer count on hospitable territory from which to carry out their activities.

In the places where they are, they're being sought and run down and arrested and pursued in ways that they never were before. So we can have a semantic discussion about what it means to take or lose territory, but I don't think it's a matter of misstatement to say that the loss of Afghanistan, the loss of the northwest frontier of Pakistan, the loss of running with impunity in places like Saudi Arabia, the fact that now intelligence networks and law enforcement networks pursue them worldwide, means that they have lost territory where they can operate with impunity.

SEN. BOXER: Mr. Chairman, I'm going to take 30 seconds, with your permission. First of all, Charles Duelfer said, and I quote -- here it is; I ask unanimous consent to place in the record Charlie Duelfer's report --

SEN. LUGAR: It will be placed in the record.

SEN. BOXER: -- in which he says, "Although Saddam clearly assigned a high value to the nuclear progress and talent that had been developed up to '91, the program ended and the intellectual capital decayed in the succeeding years."

Here's the point. You and I could sit here and go back and forth and present our arguments, and maybe somebody watching a debate would pick one or the other, depending on their own views. But I'm not interested in that. I'm interested in the facts. So when I ask you these questions, I'm going to show you your words, not my words.

And, if I might say, again you said you're aware of the stakes in Iraq; we sent our beautiful people -- and thank you, thank you so much for your comments about them -- to defend freedom. You sent them in there because of weapons of mass destruction. Later, the mission changed when there were none. I have your quotes on it. I have the president's quotes on it.

And everybody admits it but you that that was the reason for the war. And then, once we're in there, now it moves to a different mission, which is great. We all want to give democracy and freedom everywhere we can possibly do it. But let's not rewrite history. It's too soon to do that.

MS. RICE: Senator Boxer, I would refer you to the president's speech before the American Enterprise Institute in February, prior to the war, in which he talked about the fact that, yes, there was the threat of weapons of mass destruction, but he also talked to the strategic threat that Saddam Hussein was to the region.

Saddam Hussein was a threat, yes, because he was trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction. And, yes, we thought that he had stockpiles which he did not have. We had problems with the intelligence. We are all, as a collective polity of the United States, trying to deal with ways to get better intelligence.

But it wasn't just weapons of mass destruction. He was also a place -- his territory was a place where terrorists were welcomed, where he paid suicide bombers to bomb Israel, where he had used Scuds against Israel in the past.

And so we knew what his intentions were in the region; where he had attacked his neighbors before and, in fact, tried to annex Kuwait; where we had gone to war against him twice in the past. It was the total picture, Senator, not just weapons of mass destruction, that caused us to decide that, post-September 11th, it was finally time to deal with Saddam Hussein.

SEN. BOXER: Well, you should read what we voted on when we voted to support the war, which I did not, but most of my colleagues did. It was WMD, period. That was the reason and the causation for that, you know, particular vote.

But, again, I just feel you quote President Bush when it suits you but you contradicted him when he said, "Yes, Saddam could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year." You go on television nine months later and said, "Nobody ever said it was" --

MS. RICE: Senator, that was just a question of pointing out to people that there was an uncertainty. No one was saying that he would have to have a weapon within a year for it to be worth it to go to war.

SEN. BOXER: Well, if you can't admit to this mistake, I hope that you'll --

MS. RICE: Senator, we can have this discussion in any way that you would like. But I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity. Thank you very much.

SEN. BOXER: I'm not. I'm just quoting what you said. You contradicted the president and you contradicted yourself.

MS. RICE: Senator, I'm happy to continue the discussion, but I really hope that you will not imply that I take the truth lightly.

SEN. LUGAR: Let me intervene at this point. Now we've had four hours of good hearing, and we thank all members for their constancy. We're going to recess, and I'm going to suggest we come back at 2:30. Is that convenient for you, Dr. Rice?

MS. RICE: Perfect.

SEN. LUGAR: Very well. We recess until 2:30

Monday, January 17, 2005

I've Been to the Mountaintop

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered this speech in support of the striking sanitation workers at Mason Temple in Memphis, TN on April 3, 1968 — the day before he was assassinated

Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy in his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It's always good to have your closest friend and associate say something good about you. And Ralph is the best friend that I have in the world.

I'm delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow. Something is happening in Memphis, something is happening in our world.

As you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of general and panoramic view of the whole human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, "Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?" — I would take my mental flight by Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn't stop there. I would move on by Greece, and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality.

But I wouldn't stop there. I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and esthetic life of man. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even go by the way that the man for whom I'm named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church in Wittenberg.

But I wouldn't stop there. I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating president by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

But I wouldn't stop there. Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, "If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy." Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a away that men, in some strange way, are responding — something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same — "We want to be free."

And another reason that I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we're going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demand didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence.

That is where we are today. And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn't done, and in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I'm just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period, to see what is unfolding. And I'm happy that He's allowed me to be in Memphis.

I can remember, I can remember when Negroes were just going around as Ralph has said, so often, scratching where they didn't itch, and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God's world.

And that's all this whole thing is about. We aren't engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying that we are God's children. And that we don't have to live like we are forced to live.

Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we've got to stay together. We've got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the salves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that's the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.

Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we've got to keep attention on that. That's always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers were on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn't get around to that.

Now we're going to march again, and we've got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be. And force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God's children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That's the issue. And we've got to say to the nation: we know it's coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.

We aren't going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces; they don't know what to do, I've seen them so often. I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Church day after day; by the hundreds we would move out. And Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth and they did come; but we just went before the dogs singing, "Ain't gonna let nobody turn me round." Bull Connor next would say, "Turn the fire hoses on." And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn't know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn't relate to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. And we went before the fire hoses; we had known water. If we were Baptist or some other denomination, we had been immersed. If we were Methodist, and some others, we had been sprinkled, but we knew water.

That couldn't stop us. And we just went on before the dogs and we would look at them; and we'd go on before the water hoses and we would look at it, and we'd just go on singing "Over my head I see freedom in the air." And then we would be thrown in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can. And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, "Take them off," and they did; and we would just go in the paddy wagon singing, "We Shall Overcome." And every now and then we'd get in the jail, and we'd see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers, and being moved by our words and our songs. And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn't adjust to; and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we won our struggle in Birmingham.

Now we've got to go on to Memphis just like that. I call upon you to be with us Monday. Now about injunctions: We have an injunction and we're going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is, "Be true to what you said on paper." If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn't committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.

We need all of you. And you know what's beautiful tome, is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It's a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and say, "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Somehow, the preacher must say with Jesus, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor."

And I want to commend the preachers, under the leadership of these noble men: James Lawson, one who has been in this struggle for many years; he's been to jail for struggling; but he's still going on, fighting for the rights of his people. Rev. Ralph Jackson, Billy Kiles; I could just go right on down the list, but time will not permit. But I want to thank them all. And I want you to thank them, because so often, preachers aren't concerned about anything but themselves. And I'm always happy to see a relevant ministry.

It's all right to talk about "long white robes over yonder," in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It's all right to talk about "streets flowing with milk and honey," but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day. It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preachers must talk about the New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.

Now the other thing we'll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people, individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively, that means all of us together, collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that? After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That's power right there, if we know how to pool it.

We don't have to argue with anybody. We don't have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don't need any bricks and bottles, we don't need any Molotov cocktails, we just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, "God sent us by here, to say to you that you're not treating his children right. And we've come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God's children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you."

And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy—what is the other bread?—Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart's bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying, they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.

But not only that, we've got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank—we want a "bank-in" movement in Memphis. So go by the savings and loan association. I'm not asking you something we don't do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We're just telling you to follow what we're doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies in Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an "insurance-in."

Now these are some practical things we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here.

Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we've got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point, in Memphis. We've got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus; and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters in life. At points, he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew, and through this, throw him off base. Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn't stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But with him, administering first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the "I" into the "thou," and to be concerned about his brother. Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn't stop. At times we say they were busy going to church meetings—an ecclesiastical gathering—and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn't be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that "One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony." And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem, or down to Jericho, rather to organize a "Jericho Road Improvement Association." That's a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effort.

But I'm going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It's possible that these men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, "I can see why Jesus used this as a setting for his parable." It's a winding, meandering road. It's really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles, or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you're about 2200 feet below sea level. That's a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the "Bloody Pass." And you know, it's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?" The question is not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?" "If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?" That's the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.

You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, "Are you Martin Luther King?"

And I was looking down writing, and I said yes. And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that's punctured, you drown in your own blood—that's the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states, and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I've forgotten what those telegrams said. I'd received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I've forgotten what the letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I'll never forget it. It said simply, "Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School." She said, "While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze."

And I want to say tonight, I want to say that I am happy that I didn't sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream. And taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been down in Selma, Alabama, been in Memphis to see the community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering. I'm so happy that I didn't sneeze.

And they were telling me, now it doesn't matter now. It really doesn't matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us, the pilot said over the public address system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we've had the plane protected and guarded all night."

And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Man in the Hood Speaks

In the current issue of Vanity Fair (February 2005, Star Wars cover) there's a story about the man who may be the subject of the most infamous Abu Ghraib torture photos, as well as some of the other innocent Iraqis detained by US forces. It's not online, but there's an exchange from his interrogation session I want to share. I'm not sure if it's interesting, funny or just sad.
Free Image Hosting at

"Where is Osama bin Laden?"
"Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan," he replied.
"How do you know?"
"I heard it on the news."
"What is your plan? What are your plans to resist the Americans coming to occupy you?"
"I thought the Americans came to liberate us."
"Are you anti-Semitic? Do you hate Christians? Do you hate Christianity? Do you hate Jesus Christ?"
"No. Why would I hate them?"

What are we doing there?

The Simpsons Gets Subversive

Rupert Murdoch must not watch his own network, otherwise he might see that one of its flagship shows, The Simpsons, is is espousing (gasp) liberal viewpoints. On this week's show:

“Midnight Rx”

After Burns cancels the employee drug program, Grampa and Homer goes to Canada for cheaper prescriptions and get caught smuggling.

Matt Groening better watch out.

Fallujah Footage

Via GreenCine Daily:

Amazing footage shot by an Iraqi doctor upon his return to the city. You're not going to see this on Fox.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Iraq Imitates U.S.?

It's been widely reported that the Bush Administration paid commentator Armstrong Williams to promote No Child Left Behind. In Iraq, it's easier for reporters to make an extra buck, all they have to do is show up.

Ayad Allawi, the Iraqi prime minister, yesterday admitted that officials from his political alliance had paid journalists for attending press conferences.

At a meeting in Baghdad on Monday hosted by a cleric who is an ally of the prime minister, several Iraqi and Arab journalists were given sealed envelopes containing $100 notes (£53) simply for turning up.
This is similar to Saddam Hussein's policy of rewarding loyal journalists with gifts.

Now did the Iraqis learn this from us or did we learn it from them?

CBS Meeting Leads to Firings?

Call me a a conspiracy theorist, but I think it's awfully interesting that the firings at CBS come just a few days after CBS News executives met with White House communications director Dan Bartlett.

Supposedly, the meeting was to "repair chilly relations with the Bush administration". If I were a suspicious person, I might think that the White House asked for the firings in exchange for improved access for CBS.

But why would I be suspicious of the Bush Administration?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Read it for Yourself

I happened across these and I thought I'd share them with you.

Alberto Gonzales' torture memo (PDF)

Colin Powell's rebuttal (PDF)

Read them for yourself and make up your own mind.

On a lighter note, Lynne Cheney's lesbian romance novel Sisters. (PDF)

Saturday, January 08, 2005

More on Blackwell Letter

An update to Thursday's item about Ken Blackwell. The AP has a story that the letter illegally requested corporate contributions. Blackwell claims it was "an oversight"

Regarding his Bush campaign work:

Blackwell has rejected the criticism. As a Republican election official, he said he is permitted to campaign for Bush and that Ohio's election system has checks and balances to ensure fair elections.

"I have an obligation to follow the law," Blackwell said.

If this guy gets one red cent from the RNC, there should be indictments.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm

Maybe there's something here, maybe there's not, but I think it's terribly interesting that just four days after Halliburton settles its asbestos lawsuit, Bush campaigns against... asbestos lawsuits.

Make of this what you will.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Take a Moment to Thank Senator Boxer

True Majority has made it easy to send a thank you note to Senator Barbara Boxer (H.O.D.). Click on this link and fill in your information and/or a personal message and you're done. It only takes a second and maybe it will help others to stand up when it counts.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Blackwell Shows True Colors

Democracy Now! reported this morning that Ohio Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell, sent out a fundraising letter on official stationery boasting of how he "delivered" Ohio for Bush, before the votes were counted. (Emphasis mine)

Were Democrats just supposed to accept that Bush won Ohio, when there's stuff like this going on?

You can see the actual letter here.

This should be Exhibit A in the case for electoral reform. The people who supervise our elections should be non-partisan, as they are in other democracies around the world.


To Senator Barbara Boxer and Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first recipients of the award I just created, the Hero of Democracy, for challenging the Ohio electors and forcing Congress to debate the many problems voters had on Election Day. It took great courage to do what they did, knowing that it wouldn't change the results. I can only hope that it will lead to electoral reform.

Read the text of Tubbs Jones' speech here.

On the other hand, a great big raspberry for John Kerry, for not having the cojones to stand up for himself and the voters, while asking supporters to make sure every vote gets counted. I don't know how Kerry expects us to back him again, if he can't stick his neck out when it counts.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

CNN Cancels Crossfire

According to Political Wire, CNN is planning on dropping its long running show Crossfire.

If I were Jon Stewart, I'd be pretty pleased with myself right about now.

NPR Gets the Real Story

It's been widely reported that Republican House members voted Monday to reverse the "DeLay rule" that would have allowed the House Majority Leader to keep his leadership if (when?) he's indicted. The GOP didn't suddenly get a conscience or bow to publlic pressure as has been suggested.

According to this NPR report they were responding to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's plan to force Republicans to record a vote on the rule.

Props to Leader Pelosi for forcing the GOP to react and props to NPR on getting the real story.

Monday, January 03, 2005

I've Still Got Gmail

I still have Gmail invitations for anyone who wants them. No strings attached. Just send me an email using the link on the right.

Top Movies of 2004

Here are my picks for the top movies I saw in a theater during 2004.

1. Farenheit 9/11
2. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
3. Kill Bill Vol 2
4. House of Sand and Fog
5. Twilight Samurai
6. Touching the Void
7. Spider-Man 2
8. Spanglish
9. Shaun of the Dead
10. The Incredibles

Real close:

The Bourne Supremacy
The Fog of War

What are your picks?

Tutu Speaks Out

Via The Carpetbagger Report:

There's a brilliant interview with Bishop Desmond Tutu in the current issue of Newsweek in which he shares his views on religion and the elections. Recommended reading, but here are my favorite parts.

You said George Bush should admit that he made a mistake. Were you surprised at his re-election?
[Laughs] I still can't believe that it really could have happened. Just look at the facts on the table: He’d gone into a war having misled people—whether deliberately or not—about why he went to war. You would think that would have knocked him out [of the race.] It didn’t. Look at the number of American soldiers who have died since he claimed that the war had ended. And yet it seems this doesn't make most Americans worry too much. I was teaching in Jacksonville, Fla., [during the election campaign] and I was shocked, because I had naively believed all these many years that Americans genuinely believed in freedom of speech. [But I] discovered there that when you made an utterance that was remotely contrary to what the White House was saying, then they attacked you. For a South African the déjà vu was frightening. They behaved exactly the same way that used to happen here [during apartheid]—vilifying those who are putting forward a slightly different view.

Do you see any other parallels with white-ruled South Africa?
Look at the [detentions in] Guantanamo Bay. You say, why do you detain people without trial in the fashion that you have done? And when they give the answer security, you say no, no, no, this can't be America. This is what we used to hear in South Africa. It's unbelievable that a country that many of us have looked to as the bastion of true freedom could now have eroded so many of the liberties we believed were upheld almost religiously. [But] feeling as devastated in many ways as I am, it is wonderful to find that there are [also] Americans who have felt very strongly [about administration policies]—the people who turned out for rallies against the war. One always has to be very careful not to do what we used to do here, where you generalize very facilely, and one has to remember that there are very many Americans who are feeling deeply distressed about what has taken place in their country. We take our hats off to them.

Talking about religion, much has been said about the role it played in the White House race. What do you say to those who believe that Bush was chosen by God?
[Laughs] I keep having to remind people that religion in and of itself is morally neutral. Religion is like a knife. When you use a knife for cutting up bread to prepare sandwiches, a knife is good. If you use the same knife to stick into somebody’s guts, a knife is bad. Religion in and of itself is not good or bad—it is what it makes you do… Frequently, fundamentalists will say this person is the anointed of God if the particular person is supporting their own positions on for instance, homosexuality, or abortion. [I] feel so deeply saddened [about it]. Do you really believe that the Jesus who was depicted in the Scriptures as being on the side of those who were vilified, those who were marginalized, that this Jesus would actually be supporting groups that clobber a group that is already persecuted? That’s a Christ I would not worship. I'm glad that I believe very fervently that Jesus would not be on the side of gay bashers. To think that people say, as they used to say, that AIDS was God’s punishment for homosexuality. Abominable. Abominable.

When will the right-wingers wake up and realize they're being sold a bill of goods that only they're buying. Too bad none of them will take what Tutu says to heart because he's a foreigner.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

When Will They Learn?

According to news reports, the Bush Administration is mulling lifetime detentions for terror suspects that they don't have enough evidence on to try in a military tribunal.

Do they even have a copy of the Constitution in the White House?

How many times does the Supreme Court (even this one) have to smack them down before they realize they can't get away with this kind of stuff?

Either try them or release them, that's what the Sixth Amendment is about.

Satire or News?

This is a few weeks old, but this item from the Onion makes me think how unsurprised I would be to see this as a real headline.

Happy New Year!

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