Saturday, August 18, 2007

Is Mother Nature on the rampage?

By Carol Gee

(NASA Images: Peru earthquake map;
AIRS Weather Snapshot: Hurricane Dean August 16, 2007)

Natural disasters that have already occurred or are in the making are making headlines around the globe today. Peru was hit by a devastating earthquake, hurricanes named Flossie and Dean popped up in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and there is major flooding in South Asia, China and North Korea. In every case we see the contrast between advanced space age technology vs. people's powerlessness in the face of their own environmental shortsightedness or poverty, combined with nature's ability to change the course of human events.

Peru quake leaves victims in areas without water - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration map shows the remote areas in Peru hit by the quake, but it cannot show the seismic event's devastation to a country with large impoverished areas void of modern infrastructure. Yahoo! News has full coverage of the Peru quake. The New York Times headlined, "Toll Climbs in Peru; Areas Lack Water and Power."

Today is the end of World Water Week, ironically. With our Texas city to the south, Houston, still soggy from recent tropical storm generated floods, there is definitely too much water to handle. Weather events around the world this week seem perfectly timed to make the points of concerned scientists meeting this week in Sweden. In this case it is not nature alone that impacts the weather. Global climate change has been caused in part by human action. The Raw Story headlined, "World Water Wee to focus on climate change, biofuels." To quote from the story about the big meeting,

. . . with 2,500 international experts expected to attend.

The theme of the annual event's 17th edition will be "Progress and Prospects on Water: Striving for Sustainability in a Changing World."

Organiser Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) noted that water was playing a key role in global warming.

Waters in the Gulf of Mexico may soon be disturbed by Hurricane Dean. Already the potentially dangerous hurricane has disturbed the course of NASA's current mission in space, about to come to a close. Today's NASA astronaut space walk is being shortened as a result of the threat posed by Hurricane Dean, according to Tariq Malik at To quote,

Two astronauts will step outside the International Space Station (ISS) Saturday on what will likely be a shortened spacewalk as NASA casts a wary eye toward Hurricane Dean.

. . . Endeavour's STS-118 crew is scheduled to return to Earth Wednesday, but the looming threat of Hurricane Dean to NASA's shuttle and ISS Mission Control centers at JSC prompted the agency to work towards a possible Tuesday landing. The space agency is hoping to preserve the option of landing Endeavour early in case the hurricane forces the evacuation of Mission Control, which would then require NASA to transfer shuttle operations to a backup site at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

A different series of seismic events have caused casualties and left miners trapped. This time in the northern hemisphere, the tremors probably came as a result of humans mining for coal under a now-shaky Utah mountain. According to the New York Times, "Utah Mine Rescuers Halt Search After 3 Deaths."

Mother Nature ironically joined the two stories into a potential coal mine tragedy at a flooded mine in China. Dubai's carried the headline,"Floods trap coal miners in China" (8/18/07). Quoting from the story,

More than 170 coal miners have been trapped underground in eastern China after heavy rains brought floods to the area.

The official Xinhua news agency said 584 miners were rescued after Friday's accident at Xintai in Shandong province, but attempts to reach the remaining 172 were being hampered by heavy rain.

. . . Poor safety standards make Chinese coal mines among the most dangerous in the world. About 1,800 coal miners died in accidents during the first half of 2007.

Very vulnerable people lost their lives in Peru and also in North Korea. The latter story is also about too much water. North Koreans are vulnerable to actual famine and starvation. Floods there have devastated the country's already limited food supplies. The flood waters may also derail what could have been a rare and very valuable summit meeting between North and South Korean leaders. has the story headline, "Floods postpone August Korea summit," from which I quote,

North Korea has asked that a planned summit with South Korea be delayed, citing recent floods that have devastated the country.

. . . South Korea has offered an emergency aid package of more than $7m to the North after days of flooding wrought havoc across large parts of the country, sparking fears that existing food shortages might worsen. The North says the floods have left at least 80 people dead, many more missing, and about 300,000 others homeless.

. . . An estimated 23 million people or 10 per cent of North Korea's population were killed in a famine in the second half of the 1990s, partly blamed on flood damage to farmland.

Natural disasters can produce breathtaking losses of human life and heart breaking instances of widespread human misery. A related story about the Korean floods from Russia's RIA Novosti today published other statistics,

In a sign of the magnitude of the disaster, the normally secretive North Korean regime has been uncharacteristically forthcoming in describing the extent of the damage.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that rains in some areas along the Taedong River were the heaviest in the country's history, and said that about 11 percent of its rice and corn fields had been destroyed at the height of the growing season.

KCNA said that about 200,000-300,000 people were now homeless, although international aid officials believe the number is probably far higher.

Statistics are often very hard to come by in natural disasters. In one such example the story is about widespread floods now occurring in India and neighboring nations. From a BBC story comes this South Asia flood statistic: "The number [estimate] of those killed varies widely from 500 to 3,000."

Disaster death toll statistics never put a human face with the numbers. In order to relate to just a few of the actual thousands of people caught up in the current disasters on the ground, I conclude with a link to this great article from the BBC News titled, "Aid worker diary: Indian floods" (August 10-16, 2007). To quote just a bit,

Devastating monsoon rains have submerged thousands of villages in northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
In India, as flood waters recede, aid agencies, non-governmental organisations and governments are stepping up their efforts to help the thousands who have lost homes, livestock and livelihoods.

Ian Bray, from Oxfam, has kept a diary of his experiences:

. . . Villagers surround us desperate to tell us their story. It's pandemonium as everybody wants to speak. A chair is brought from somewhere for me to sit down. The vast majority of this village are Dalit - so-called Untouchables. All are landless and all are without a job now. The floods have taken away their chance of working on the land - not their land, someone else's land - and the flood has come at the worse possible time for them.


(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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A further embellishment on the appropriately named CREEP

By J. Thomas Duffy

Boy, we all know what Nixon was, and the people around him ...

But man, it is a little jarring, thanks to some old, archived film, to realize just how much of the cream of the scum they had ...

Joan Walsh of Salon has a doozy ...

Young Karl Rove

And to see the full report, from the CBS Evening News of January 18th, 1972, you can check out Karl Rove, GOP College Director of the Republican National Committee, third pillar of the Nixon Campaign tripod (the other two being the White House and the Campaign for Re-Election of the President).


To twist an old adage, the apple, with the razor blades in it, doesn't fall far from the tree

Or, as Joan writes;

"Yes, it reminded me why (many readers are too young to remember) the Committee to Re-elect the President was routinely referred to as "CREEP."

Bonus Links

The Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP)

The Watergate Story

Watergate Plumber Chief Passes Away; E. Howard Hunt, Watergate Figure, Dead At 88; Nixon's Chief of Dirty Tricks Was Ex-CIA; Hand In Everything From Guatemala To Bay of Pigs

What lessons do you think the Young Karl Rove learned while working for Nixon's CREEP? How to turn out the vote, or how to run a scandal?

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Please remember this...

By Libby Spencer

It's not even worth reading Michael Gerson's latest pap. It's the sort of piece one would expect from George Bush's chief speechwriter. A mere piece of fluff in praise of Karl Rove. But the opening paragraph struck me.

When I asked Karl Rove this week to summarize his approach to politics, he quoted from memory a 167-year-old letter by Abraham Lincoln to his Whig campaign committee: "Keep a constant watch on the doubtful voters, and from time to time have them talked to by those in whom they have the most confidence."

Rather odd isn't it that Karl can't remember what he did with his emails, or who he met with in the last six years or any number of other details that interest the Congress, but he can quote a 167 year old letter by heart. I guess his amnesia only occurs within the White House walls.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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Top Ten Cloves: Things about breaking the speed of light

By J. Thomas Duffy

News Item: 'We have broken speed of light'

10. Dick Cheney finally right about something... Predicted that "Speed of Light was in its' final throes"

9. Investigators looking into if light was abused at all, and if Michael Vick was involved

8. Rudy Guiliani angry; "You leave my Speed of Light alone, just like I'll leave your Speed of Light alone"

7. Colin Powell says you break it, you own it

6. Like his call for an Energy Initiative back in his 2006 SOTU address, Bush will ask Congress to enact the "No Speed of Light Left Behind" legislation

5. NASA likes it ... The consequences of an "astronaut moving faster than it would theoretically arrive at a destination before leaving" would help cut down on their drinking

4. Bill O'Reilly upset, believes it's a breakdown in traditional values; Launches war to "Save Our Speed of Light"

3. Next goal is to break speed of which Bush Administration breaks laws

2. CIA did an immediate check of their Secret Prison logs, to see if they had anyone named "Speed" or "Light" being tortured

1. Scientists who broke the theory are looking forward to hearing "Hey Nimitz" or "Hey Stahlhofen" used, instead "Hey Einstein" as a derogatory remark when someone does something stupid

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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Faster than a speeding bullet

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Two German physicists, according to The Telegraph, "claim to have broken the speed of light -- an achievement that would undermine our entire understanding of space and time". (They didn't break the speed of light themselves, literally, but, if they're right, microwave photons did.)

Interesting, and potentially revolutionary.

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The shame of prostitution in Iraq

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Read this: "Iraqi women: Prostituting ourselves to feed our children."

Oh, what a lovely war. Is this what you had in mind, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and the rest of you trigger-happy lunatics?

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Lede of the Day: The Ashcroft-Gonzales confrontation

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From WaPo:

Then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft was "feeble," "barely articulate" and "stressed" moments after a hospital room confrontation in March 2004 with Alberto R. Gonzales, who wanted Ashcroft to approve a warrantless wiretapping program over Justice Department objections, according to notes from FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III that were released yesterday.

Awesome, eh?

Make sure to read the whole article. This certainly seems to be how business is done in the Bush White House, pushing an illegal program on a sick man and basically not giving a shit about the consequences.

(The only suitable title for the definitive historical account of the Bush presidency is Fucking America. What do you think, Michael Beschloss?)

For more, see The Carpetbagger Report and The Anonymous Liberal.


Update: "Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday asked the Justice Department’s Inspector General to investigate potentially false or misleading testimony given by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during his appearances before various congressional committees."


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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Padilla guilty, Bush and cronies still at large

By Michael J.W. Stickings

A Florida jury has found Jose Padilla guilty, as CNN puts it, of "conspiracy to support Islamic terrorism overseas," a charge suitably vague to ensure conviction. Two co-defendents were also found guilty. But here's the kicker. Padilla has been in custody since 2002. And yet:

Padilla was originally arrested on accusations that he planned to set off radioactive "dirty bombs" in the United States. Thursday's convictions are not related to those accusations, and prosecutors did not present the "dirty bomb" plot to the jury.

Just as prosecutors did not present the dirty bomb plot to the jury, neither were jurors told that Padilla was held in a Navy brig for 3½ years without charges before his indictment in the Miami case.

Is Padilla a great guy? No, maybe not. Did he deserve all this? No, certainly not. This trial, but even more his treatment as an "enemy combatant," was a sham, and a despicable one at that.


The mouth-frothing haters of habeas corpus over on the far right are loving this, of course. Check out Malkin, for example, if you must.

There will be a lot of reaction to this story throughout the day. You can find some right now over at Memeorandum, but keep checking back there for more. And allow me to recommend a response by my friend Shaun Mullen over at Kiko's House.

This is truly America's shame.


Update: See all the latest at Memeorandum. A lot of good posts, but here are four I want to single out: "Michelle Malkin Hates Our Freedoms" by Barbara O'Brien (best line: "Malkin is having an orgasm of celebratory righteousness"); "Padilla reactions" by Mark Gisleson; "Padilla Round-Up" by John Cole; and "The menticide of Jose Padilla" (great title) by Lindsay Beyerstein.

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The sins of the father

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Rudy Giuliani's family doesn't like him very much -- not least a daughter backing Obama and an ex-wife, Donna Hanover, publicly spat/shat upon by the ex-mayor.

And yet, he just wants people to leave his family alone.

A fine sentiment, I would argue. Why drag family into the mosh pit of political competition? If only his motivation were that noble.

Consider: Why might Rudy want people to leave his family alone?

Well, he certainly doesn't want voters, and especially the socially conservative Republican primary voters he is trying to court, to focus too much on why his family doesn't like him very much, and on what he did that led to his family not liking him very much. Sure, all families are dysfunctional in some way. As Rudy himself put it, "there are complexities in every family in America". But the complexities of the Giuliani family are, well, quite complex, and public, and hardly what Giuliani would want to sell to the American people. Bill and Hillary have at least made some sort of peace. And some families, like the Edwards family, genuinely seems to be full of love. But ask Donna Hanover if she things her ex-husband should be president.

Just he doesn't want voters focusing on his sordid past, neither does he want the press focusing on troubles past and present. I wouldn't want the press focusing on my troubles either, but, then, I'm not running for president. Such investigation, from the public and press alike, comes with the territory. If you're in the Oval Office, and you're making decisions that affect the personal lives of Americans -- and, indeed, the personal lives of everyone around the world, in some way or another -- perhaps you should be at least some model of dignity and decency yourself.

Rudy is a model of neither. And his family hates him.

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All Apologies

By Creature

TR: Bush administration sorry about Iraq thing, pigs fly

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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The toll just gets worse

By Edward Copeland

The latest reports on the deadly bombing against the Yazidi sect in northern Iraq has the death toll soaring past 400 as they continue to dig through the rubble of Tuesday's attack.

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Progress and deception

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Many of you may have seen the story already -- it appeared in yesterday's L.A. Times. It seems that Gen. David Petraeus, the golden boy who may yet become one in a long line of scapegoats, may recommend in his much-ballyhooed September report on the "progress" of the Surge that U.S. forces be withdrawn from parts of Iraq "where commanders believe [note the use of this word, and others like it, even in the media -- this is all about faith, not fact] security has improved," such as Anbar. This does not mean that the number of troops on the ground in Iraq would go down, let alone that withdrawal (or redeployment) is on the table. All it means is that credit will be taken, justified or not, responsibility will be transferred to the Iraqis, who may or may not be in a position to assume it, and the war will go on.

There's your progress. It's not so much in the eye of the beholder as in the mind of the spinner.

And that's been true of this entire disaster of a war. Deception has been the name of the game.

And, again, that is true here. The spin all along has been that Petraeus is a different sort of general, an independent one who would do his best and report the truth, good or bad. But with what will we be presented next month? Here's the key passage in the Times story:

Administration and military officials acknowledge that the September report will not show any significant progress on the political benchmarks laid out by Congress. How to deal in the report with the lack of national reconciliation between Iraq's warring sects has created some tension within the White House.

Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.

And there you go. Petraeus and Crocker will testify before Congress, but "progress" will be defined by the White House, the report will be written by the White House, and further analysis and planning in response to the report will be conducted by the White House. That is, by Bush, the guy who has fingerprints all over this disaster of a war. It's like allowing the defendent in a criminal case to determine what evidence may be used against him. Bush will pick and choose, just as he has done all along -- and that will be that. This is Bush's war, and he is not about to see it for what it is, let alone to admit that it has gone horribly wrong.

The war will continue. The deception will continue. There is not the one without the other.

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How's that surge going, Part 2

By Edward Copeland

As the date nears for Gen. Petraeus' progress report to Congress on the surge, it looks as if it will be pointless (as if we didn't see that coming) as the report will likely come from administration hacks instead of the general himself.

Senior congressional aides said yesterday that the White House has proposed limiting the much-anticipated appearance on Capitol Hill next month of Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker to a private congressional briefing, suggesting instead that the Bush administration's progress report on the Iraq war should be delivered to Congress by the secretaries of state and defense.

Sens. Joseph Biden and Carl Levin are already raising objections, especially after reports yesterday indicated that no only does Dubyaland seek to shield the general from the public spotlight of the much-ballyhooed September report but that David Petraeus won't even author the progress report but it will instead be written by the White House, who of course only listen to the generals on the ground except of course when they don't want to.

Meanwhile, another report shows the alarming number of suicides in the Army during Dubya's debacle of a war has reached the highest rate in 26 years, with 99 suicides reported in 2006 alone.

The suicide rate for the Army has fluctuated over the past 26 years, from last year's high of 17.3 per 100,000 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001.

Last year, "Iraq was the most common deployment location for both (suicides) and attempts," the report said.

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New horizons for a new era: Hugo Chavez and the abolition of democracy

By Michael J.W. Stickings

What more can be said about Hugo Chavez and his tyranny? It's something, then something else, then something else again, and it just keeps coming and coming, more and more, this and that, so on and so forth. (I've blogged a lot on this already -- see here.) Why isn't there more outrage? It's clear what he's doing. He may not be leading mobs of brownshirts through the streets, but the incrementalist nature of his seizure of power, and ever more power, amounts to much the same thing. It just isn't quite as dramatic. Let's review:

Get the point?

Well, now it seems that Chavez intends to tyrannize for as long as possible, that is, for as long as he wants, and he will change the constitution to allow him to do just that:

President Hugo Chavez has announced plans to change to Venezuela's constitution, allowing him to remain in power indefinitely.

Under the current rules, Mr Chavez would have to step down at the end of his term in 2012.

His plans would also increase presidential control over Venezuela's municipalities and states.

Mr Chavez has rejected criticism of the proposals, saying they would bring "new horizons for the new era".

Other changes include:

  • Removing term limits for the presidency, and extending the term of office from six years to seven
  • Bringing in a maximum six-hour working day
  • Strengthening state economic powers, allowing the government to control assets of private companies
    before a court grants an expropriation order.
Venezuelan democracy has been a sham under Chavez, but now there won't really be any democracy at all. The six-hour work day sounds nice, but everything else would only serve to enhance Chavez's tyranny -- in fact, to entrench it, to make it largely permanent.

For it isn't just a one-year extension of his term that we desires. He has said that "[i]t will be the people who make the final decision about how long [he] stay[s]" in office. But what does that mean? Will there ever be an open and fair vote (as there was, more or less, in Chile, when voters booted Pinochet from office)? Just as Chevez will ensure victory for himself in the planned referendum on his constitutonal changes -- and he claims, fervently and almost humorously trying to downplay his acquisition of power and suppression of liberty and democracy, that the changes would only affect 10 percent of the constitution, as if that should somehow make them all quite acceptable, nothing to worry about -- so would he ensure his preservation in some future plebiscite on his rule.

No term limits? Then it's Chavez for life.

New horizons for a new era? Sure. But have we learned nothing from the tyrannies of the past? This -- the tyranny of Hugo Chavez, the acquisition of absolute power and the rhetoric of historical destiny -- is yet more of the same.

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Rootin' tootin' Putin

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Here -- from the Globe -- is Vladimir Putin fishing in the Khemchik River in Siberia's Tuva region. Considering how very much I disliked Casino Royale, as well as Daniel Craig's flat turn in the lead role, I wonder if Putin should be the next Bond. Either that, or he could play an older Jason Bourne if there's a fourth movie. He has the KGB experience, after all, and it looks like he could do even the toughest stunts himself.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Secrets and activism

By Carol Gee

Secrets in the world of politics and government are a mixed bag. Voters want their ballots to be secret and verifiable to them. Our current president (OCP) wants domestic spying to be secret, as well as most everything else about his adminstration's record. Candidates sometimes expose their opponents' secrets in order to hurt them. Though I am an Internet activist, I keep my real name a secret from the blogosphere, unlike the courageous bloggers who take a more open journalistic approach.

But one cannot be secretive and be an activist/ protestor/ community worker/ etc. And it takes courage. They are "out there" for everyone to see and to admire, or to punish like Josh Wolf. Some organize or join marches, some write letters and sign their names, some circulate petitions, and some come to Washington or other seats of government to try to change that to which they have strong objection. My current "strong objection" is to the current FISA law as recently amended by Congress. I write about it often.*

Secret government domestic spying programs with no oversight began early in this century. Today the history of the Bush administration's assault on the constitution's Fourth Amendment is a disgraceful one. Congress has abandoned its responsibility for providing a "check" on the administration's efforts to spy on its own citizens without any warrants. And so we are left again and again to the mercy of the Judicial branch to provide the balance and protections of our constitution.

Shhh! It's a secret - Today a three-judge panel will hear a big domestic spying case (8/15/07) in San Francisco, according to David Kravets at Threat Level- Wired Blogs. (Hat Tip to Citizens for Legitimate Government for the link). OCP and his lawyers are telling the court that they cannot hear the case because it is a secret. To quote Kravets,

The Bush administration is facing serious judicial headwinds Wednesday when it urges a three-judge federal appeals court panel to dismiss lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the president's warrantless, domestic eavesdropping program.

In December, 2005, Bush . . . confirmed a warrantless, domestic surveillance program by which the National Security Agency eavesdropped on electronic communications in the United States if one person connected to the communication was outside of the United States and thought to be associated with terrorism. Among other allegations, the lawsuits charge that AT&T unlawfully gave the NSA virtually carte blanche access to the telecom's network, allowing the government to siphon communications from millions of Americans without a warrant.

The administration will urge the appeals court on Wednesday to dismiss the cases. The administration's key claim is that the lawsuits threaten to expose government secrets, and therefore Supreme Court precedent dictates the lawsuits must be thrown out -- an assertion that often prevails in court. Two lower court judges, however, balked. The administration appealed to the 9th Circuit.

This is no secret. Many people in the United States are upset about the latest turns of events regarding FISA. We were upset to learn about the program when it first became public. ANd we have gotten increasingly incensed as each new chapter unfolds. Stay tuned.

Out in the open - Each Wednesday South by Southwest highlights activism.

  • United for Peace and Justice -a very big movement that is pointing currently towards Oct. 27, 2007: National Mobilization to End the War in Iraq. 10 Massive Demonstrations for Peace Across the U.S. Also has listings of protests, etc. happening in your state or area

  • General Strike 9/11 - Michael Collins of The Smirking Chimp headlined (8/13/07), "GENERAL STRIKE IN USA on Sept. 11, 2007 – 9/11." Here is the simple recipe. To quote, “No School * No Work * No Shopping. Hit the Streets”

  • - Protests - "The Aggressive Progressives," rich with all kinds of references to opportunities for action

*Previous S/SW Posts on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act:

Saturday, December 31, 2005: Civil liberties have staying power in the long run

Friday, January 20, 2006: Executive vs. Judiciary vs. Legislative
Saturday, August 19, 2006: Journalists, Scholars & Lawyers vs. OCP
Friday, September 22, 2006: Domestic Intelligence or Domestic Spying?

Saturday, August 04, 2007: Senate "caves" - what else is there to say?
Sunday, August 05, 2007: A Sad Day for the Fourth Amendment
Tuesday, August 07, 2007: A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Primer
Wednesday, August 08, 2007: Dems get mixed reviews
Thursday, August 09, 2007: FISA Vote - Correction
Friday, August 10, 2007: A bit of credit is due
Sunday, August 12, 2007: What is important about freedom?

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Phil Rizzuto... Great as he was, the Scooter didn't always have his wheels on the ground

By J. Thomas Duffy

Though he was before my time, and, growing up in Boston, I wasn't an audience to his long broadcasting career, but there was a twinge of sadness on hearing the news that former New York Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto passed away.

He won an MVP award (1950), played on the powerhouse Yankee teams that won 10 American League pennants and nine World Series championships, including five consecutive WS titles.

He also had his number retired by the Yankees and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

And, when the TV show What's My Line premiered on February 2, 1950, Phil Rizzuto was the very first "mystery guest."

But perhaps, his bigger legacy came in the broadcast booth, shooting into the lexicon, the excited "Holy Cow!", and being diehard pinstripes.

And in his long broadcasting career, Rizzuto was also know for his penchant for gaffes, or not getting the facts correct, or, as the NYT put it "Over four decades in the Yankee announcing booth, Rizzuto transformed himself from a conventional announcer with a distinctly New York voice into an often comic presence."

One such occasion I was witness to.

I was living in Connecticut and could pick up the Yankee games.

It was a hot Saturday, around 1992 or 1993, and I can't remember who the Yankees were playing ...It was an away game, and, at one point, around the third-or-fourth-inning, a Yankee player hit a long fly ball to left field, that the leftfielder caught right in front of, but not quite against the wall, for the third out.

Rizzuto, all excited, called it a homerun ... Then quickly fell silent, and befuddled, as the opposing team was trotting off the field ... Rizzuto was aghast, wondering, on air, why they were leaving the field ... His broadcast partner (who I can't remember) broke the news to him that the ball was caught ...

Rizzuto vehemently disagreed, claiming the ball "was outta here" ...

They went to commercial break with Rizzuto arguing with this partner that it was a homerun

Upon returning from the commercial break, Rizzuto was still not totally convinced, saying "I coulda sworn that ball was outta here ..."

Way to go Scooter ... Say hello to the Mick for us ...

Bonus Links

Phil Rizzuto

Phil Rizzuto for The Money Store

Phil Rizzuto Quotes

(Cross Posted at The Garlic.)

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How's that surge going?

By Edward Copeland

***UPDATE*** (this post has been bumped up from yesterday)

The latest version of The Washington Post story has the death toll climbing above 250 and details more specifically how the attacks were carried out:

The nearly simultaneous explosions, in three Yazidi communities near the town of Sinjar, added up to the deadliest attack in Iraq this year and one of the most lethal since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Hundreds of wounded people were flown or driven to hospitals, overwhelming every emergency room in the region, according to George Shlimon, vice mayor of the nearby city of Dahuk.

According to The Washington Post, the Yazidis are "an ancient group whose faith combines elements of many historical religions of the region. They worship a peacock archangel and are considered Satanists by some Muslims and Christians in Iraq, a characterization they reject."

However, just because the Iraqis are once again busy killing one another, it doesn't mean it was a breathe-easy days for the American military stuck in the middle of the mess:

In Baghdad, the U.S. military reported the deaths of nine American military personnel in three incidents, including the crash of a twin-rotor Chinook helicopter. ... In Anbar province Tuesday, five Americans died when the Chinook helicopter went down during a training flight, the military said. The cause of the crash is under investigation. Three other U.S. soldiers were killed Monday by a roadside bomb in the province of Nineveh, in northwestern Iraq, officials said, while one was killed in combat in western Baghdad.

Meanwhile, in Ritalin-deprived Dubyaland, they can't stop thinking about Iran, moving to designate Tehran's Revolutionary Guard, "a specially designated global terrorist":

The Bush administration has chosen to move against the Revolutionary Guard Corps because of what U.S. officials have described as its growing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as its support for extremists throughout the Middle East, the sources said. The decision follows congressional pressure on the administration to toughen its stance against Tehran, as well as U.S. frustration with the ineffectiveness of U.N. resolutions against Iran's nuclear program, officials said.

The designation of the Revolutionary Guard will be made under Executive Order 13224, which President Bush signed two weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to obstruct terrorist funding. It authorizes the United States to identify individuals, businesses, charities and extremist groups engaged in terrorist activities. The Revolutionary Guard would be the first national military branch included on the list, U.S. officials said -- a highly unusual move because it is part of a government, rather than a typical non-state terrorist organization.

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The Giuliani Generation

By Michael J.W. Stickings

For some excellent commentary on Giuliani's ridiculous "We are all members of the 9/11 generation" piece in Foreign Affairs, which I urge you to read, if only for insight into the disturbed mind of a possible president, see the Anonymous Liberal.

"The article only reinforces my belief that it is imperative that this man never be allowed anywhere near the White House," says A.L.

And I agree. Completely.

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Fred Barnes and the Republican glory hole

By Michael J.W. Stickings

For any good and loyal Republican, Fred Barnes kneels in wait on the other side of that hole in the wall. This is especially true for Karl Rove, among the goodest and loyalest of all, who in resignation from a disgraceful, failure-ridden, and quite likely law-breaking tenure as Bush's puppeteer, finds himself stroked once more by The Weekly Standard's resident man-whore. See this piece of fellating punditry, which includes this memorable -- and, even by Barnes's standards, shockingly stupid -- remark:

Rove is the greatest political mind of his generation and probably of any generation. He not only is a breathtakingly smart strategist but also a clever tactician. He knows history, understands the moods of the public, and is a visionary on matters of public policy.

The greatest, huh? A breathtaking visionary, huh?

One imagines that if Machiavelli were alive today he would recommend that Barnes be placed in the town square in two pieces as a warning to other pundits not to write such ignorant and foolish things.

I can't be bothered to comment on the rest of Barnes's piece. Suffice it to say that, for Barnes, Rove is beyond criticism. He did nothing wrong.

In response, I'll direct you to Andrew Sullivan and, in direct response to Barnes, Jonathan Chait, who notes that the "greatest ever" line has reduced even Barnes's fellow right-wingers to incredulity.


Take no offence, please, if glory holes are your thing. Just hope Fred Barnes isn't on the other side.

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"Mem'ries, may be beautiful and yet / What's too painful to remember / We simply choose to forget"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Don Imus -- STUPID BIGOT -- has settled with CBS and may return to the air on ABC. (So reports WaPo.)

Remember when the Imus thing was the biggest story of all time? And when there was such righteous outrage at what he said about the Rutgers women's basketball team?

Yeah, well, you know, short memories and all.

"I can't remember what happened eight minutes ago," Bart Simpson once said. "No, really, it's a serious problem."

Yes it is, Bart, yes it is.


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Headline of the Day

By Michael J.W. Stickings


Seriously. This is what Rudy said: "I promise you, we can end illegal immigration."

In a related commitment, the former mayor of New York -- by the way, did you know he was mayor on 9/11? you think he'd make more of this on the campaign trail, no? -- promised to end premarital sex.

Seriously, again. Romney jabbed Giuliani on illegal immigration last week, that is, for being soft on it, and Giuliani, a suck-up-to-the-base flip-flopper who puts even Romney to shame, and who is evidently a man without principle, beyond self-glorification, struck back with this stupid promise.

But here, given Giuliani's penchant for fascism, is one way he could actually realize that promise: Turn the entire county into an extension of Gitmo, that is, into one big prison for detainees without civil rights. Then, ipso friggin' facto, anyone who entered the country illegally would be a detainee, not an immigrant.

And you thought Bush was bad...

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Texan coming home -- occasionally

By Carol Gee

Lemon or lemonade? Depending on where you are along the political spectrum, this is either good news or bad news: political junkies woke up yesterday morning and learned that Presidential Political Adviser Karl Rove will be gone from the White house soon. Life handed us Democrats a lemon, and now we can make lemonade. As a Texas Democrat I have bad memories of the Texan Rove. I would just as soon he stay where he is living now.

Karl Rove is resigning at the end of August. Texans are relieved to learn he will not be coming back here to live full time. Since following the body who holds his brain to Washington in 2000, "Bush's Brain" has acquired two more homes. According to "citizendc" at DailyKos (5/2/06), Rove has become a wealthy man. To quote,

Have you ever wondered how a man who owns a $1,500,000 house in DC, a $1,000,000+ house in Florida and a $48,000 cottage in Texas manages to survive on $161,000 a year federal salary? It's odd.

The news of Rove's resignation produced some wonderful headlines. I have chosen a couple, along with some good story lines, for today's Rove Digest:
  • "Analysis: Rove bows out despised and deified" - Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen at Politico. At first glance I thought this said "defied." Then I caught myself, remembering that few people ever defied Karl Rove, even his boss. Those who deified him are not in my circle. Quoting Politico,

    Rove will soon be gone -- but it will be a long time before he is forgotten. One can not overstate how much Democrats loathe Rove, and desperately want him dragged into numerous congressional investigations of the Bush White House.

    . . . For now, according to friends, Rove will split his time among Washington, where he and his wife Darby are keeping their house; Florida, where they have a resort place that they have put a lot of effort into decorating; and Texas, where their son is in college and they maintain a country house.

  • "Satan to return to Hell" - Edward Copeland at The Reaction. My co-blogger at Stickings' website gets right to it with his judgement. A quote,

    In a surprise move, the dark prince Karl Rove has announced that he will resign his position as Dubya's senior political adviser and return to Texas by the end of the month.

    However, give the devil his due: On the way out, he predicts Hillary Nothing-But-Ambition Clinton would take the Democratic nomination, despite being a "fatally flawed candidate."

Karl Quits, By maha on The Mahablog. This deserves a banner headline (maha's links) – "maha" postulates that Rove was "in over his head," which is a different view that that of many. She maked a very persuasive point. To quote further from her post,

. . . Rove’s biggest blind spot — his failure to understand the substance of governing. Rove built his reputation as a political genius because of his ability as a campaign manager to knock off Democratic incumbents in southern states by means of the dirty and dishonest campaigning. But seems to me Rove’s “genius” was less smarts than it was ruthlessness. Rove knows neither boundaries nor scruples. He won campaigns because he was willing to ignore moral and ethical lines and fight dirtier than other (non-sociopathic) campaign managers could imagine.

"Morning Cuppa Benign Neglect" by "scarecrow" at Firedoglake gave us this clever tongue-in-cheek thought on next steps. To quote,

It appears TNH has figured out how to get rid of the Bush/Cheney regime: just ignore them. . . Marcy just stopped giving him so much attention. . . We should ask Marcy to ignore Cheney and Bush for 30 days and test this new approach. It has promise.

"My Guesses on Why Rove Resigned" - was the headline by Marcy Wheeler at The Next Hurrah. This post garnered many links yesterday morning, so it must be good. And it is; the narratives beneath each of her "reasons" are right on. Here's her list,

So here's my treatment of possible reasons why he's leaving, in reverse order of their likelihood: Time with the Family, . . Republicans Think He's a Loser, . . Republicans Think He's a Loser, . . Nativist Edition, . . The Sheriff Is Coming, . . The Abramoff Investigation, . . The OSC Investigation, . . The Iglesias Investigation.

"Karl Rove to Resign" - - "georgia 10" at DailyKos announced the news to Kossacks with this simple headline and a few of key quotes from the WSJ article. This was about the only editorial comment,

And, of course, Karl Rove couldn't help being, well, Karl Rove until the very end: [WSJ blockquote]

What do I think? It will be interesting to see who moves into the vacated office. In some ways OCP (our current president) has made better choices the second time around. Robert Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Josh Bolton is probably a better chief of staff than his predecessor. Stephen Hadley is probably better at his job, than was Condoleezza Rice. etc., etc. It would be a very good thing if the same thing happened in this case, but I am not holding my breath.

Reference: Texas Kaos - Progressive politics and news - Texas style!

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Heads up!

By Capt. Fogg

The popular press has been teasing us since the 1940's about cars that will convert to airplanes in a few minutes and allow us to fly over the traffic to work. Somehow the Gee Whiz journalists never seemed to factor into the equation the basic inability of the average person to master the piloting of an automobile even after decades of experience or to visualize the air above our head filled with drunks, text messaging teens, cell phone yakking soccer moms and winged versions of all the road vermin that infest our highways.

They're still at it, in fact. The NASA-funded first annual PAV challenge just wrapped up in Santa Rosa this weekend. PAV or Personal Air Vehicle is a pointless and euphemistic coinage that sounds like it was minted by the same industry bullslingers who gave us SUV, but that's only a small clue as to the silliness of this entire enterprise. According to ZDNet,

"with the right technology, small auto-piloted planes could one day alleviate traffic gridlock by shuttling people around on midrange trips (jaunts of between 100 and 500 miles) with much more speed, economy and efficiency than a car. "Planes for plain folk" is one motto."

God help us all is my version. The idea of producing an intelligent airplane in which Gerry and Mrs. Atricks or their backwards-hatted hardware-faced grandchildren can safely travel a few hundred miles at 150 MPH may appeal to technophiles, but those of us who daily witness the full spectrum of human idiocy on our roads might just prefer to stay in a bunker if this idea takes off. No technology can overcome the massed powers of stupidity, ineptitude, inability to focus or to judge speed and distance.

The dreamers envision an airplane - excuse me, a PAV - so advanced that it can, along with thousands of other PAV's, be trusted to behave like a flock of migratory birds with scant human intervention; miraculously arriving at some pre-programmed destination in all kinds of weather. I can't help but envision a hailstorm of hot metal and burning plastic raining down on our heads along with the cigarette butts and beer cans and McDonald's packaging one finds on every roadside.

Besides, the American public will not buy two seat, sporty vehicles and the manufacturers will quite soon be turning out versions of military heavy transport planes (SUAVs?) so that every wimp, twit and one-eyed psycho can feel powerful flying to work with all 4 engines roaring and 14 Kilowatt "sound system" booming. Spinning hubcaps sold separately.

(Cross-posted at Human Voices.)

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The end of the Rove?

By J. Kingston Pierce

Salon political reporter Tim Grieve offers some interesting speculation about the timing of yesterday’s news that Republican’t hit man Karl Rove--the onetime kingmaker who promoted an obscure, weak Texas governor into the office of the president of the United States--will resign at the end of this month as White House deputy chief of staff. Grieve suggests that the sudden announcement of Rove’s departure was made in order to deny GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney “the post-Iowa day in the sun that he would be enjoying today if only Rove hadn’t knocked him out of the news cycle.” (Supposedly leading GOP candidates Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and too-coy Fred Thompson didn’t even campaign in this poll, leaving Romney to basically buy himself a symbolic win.)

“Maybe we’ve been doing this too long,” Grieve says, before asking the obvious question: “[W]ould Rove--or any Republican, for that matter--be happy if the subject of the day weren’t what happened this weekend in Iowa?” His answer is yes, based on an editorial column in the New York Sun, written by Ryan Sager, author of The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican Party. In that piece, Sager makes clear that he thinks this last weekend’s political hoedown in Ames, Iowa, can only hurt the GOP’s already slim chances of holding onto the White House past January 20, 2009:

The face of the Republican Party in Iowa is the face of a losing party, full of hatred toward immigrants, lust for government subsidies, and the demand that any Republican seeking the office of the presidency acknowledge that he’s little more than Jesus Christ’s running mate. The pandering from the stage told the story. Mr. Romney promised not a chicken in every pot, but “a button on every computer” for parents to block obscene material. Anti-immigrant ranter Tom Tancredo nearly brought the house down decrying the fact that Americans sometimes have to “Press 1” for English. [Former Arkansas Governor Mike] Huckabee earned his second-place finish in part by making the specious claim that farm subsidies safeguard America’s food independence. (You think it’s bad depending on foreign oil, Mr. Huckabee asked? “Wait until our country messes up and has to depend on foreign food.”) Senator [Sam] Brownback of Kansas, the third-place finisher, declared as he often does in his stump speech: “All for Jesus. All for Jesus. All for Jesus. All for Jesus.”

This all may fly in Ames. But it won’t in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the interior West, all of which will be battlegrounds in this presidential election and for many elections to come. Republicans need to broaden their appeal in this tough environment, and the first step is to turn their sights away from Ames and toward the rest of the nation. Otherwise, come November 2008, it’s the voters who won’t show up.

I don’t know. As devious, dishonest, and divisive as Rove has
proved himself to be over the last six years, it’s hard to imagine that he could be trying to torpedo the former Massachusetts governor’s Oval Office aspirations. Especially since, as has been reported, “first brother” and ex-Florida Guv Jeb Bush has “privately [been] talking up the candidacy of Mitt Romney and steering some of his closest advisers to the campaign.” Would Rove, suspecting that the robotic Romney would make a pale opponent against, say, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, deliberately try to deep-six the Republican’t’s chances by stealing the limelight from him? And if so, would he have asked his boss for permission to do so? We already know that George W. Bush doesn’t seek advice from his former prez father; would he also contrive to undermine his supposedly smarter brother’s favorite presidential candidate? If so, that’s going to make future Bush family get-togethers rather awkward …

On the other hand, if Rove really doesn’t like Romney for the 2008 race, it might explain one thing: why, after plenty of talk about George W. appointing the Massachusetts governor as a “hurricane-relief czar” in the wake of the Bush administration’s incredible incompetence around Katrina’s clobbering of New Orleans, the White House quietly dropped the idea of an outside point man, and instead put Rove in charge of post-hurricane reconstruction. If this was the doing of “Bush’s Brain,” as Rove has become known, it might well have been because he didn’t want Romney to gain national stature that other potential GOP presidential aspirants wouldn’t have going into the ’08 contest.

Even if Rove had his own agenda in announcing his departure yesterday, though, it may not matter in the long run. Romney is the ideal Republican’t candidate: willing--nay, anxious--to flip-flop and distance himself from his past statements, whenever necessary; happy to kowtow to the religious-right extremists who hold the reins of today’s GOP; attentive to the shallow trappings of Republican’t candidacy (a smiling family, a National Rifle Association membership card); and appealing in a blandly handsome way (thanks, in part, to expensive applications of makeup.) None of his rivals for his party’s presidential nomination next year can beat Romney when it comes to being an empty plastic vessel in need of filling with voter expectations. So, as Giuliani fades over concerns that he’s not rabid enough about preventing same-sex marriages and abortions; as the once-straight-talking (more or less) John McCain hemorrhages backers upset with his assiduous sucking-up to the warmongering Bush; and as not-yet-candidate Thompson (that would be Fred, rather than the newly liberated Tommy) fails to prove himself as a not-so-bad-as-the-other-guys alternative, Romney is likely to benefit. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he winds up as the Republican’t nominee in 2008.

His running mate? Jeb Bush. Why else do you think the ex-Florida governor was so pleased to send his Tallahassee troops in to help Mormon Mitt?

READ MORE:Sudden Timing of Karl Rove’s Departure Surprises and Intrigues Most,” by Joe Gandleman (The Moderate Voice); “Rove Leaves More Second-Term Blues for White House,” by John Whitesides (AP); “The Collapse of Karl Rove,” by Lou Dubose (Salon); “We’ll Go No More a-Rove-ing,” by Sidney Blumenthal (Salon); “Please, Not Another M.B.A. President,” by Matthew Cooper (Condé Nast Portfolio); “The Architect and the War,” by Michael Isikoff (Newsweek); “The Rove Legacy,” by Adam Nagourney (The New York Times); “The Man Who Sold the War,” by Joan Walsh (Salon).

(Cross-posted at Limbo.)

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Sully on Turd Blossom

By Michael J.W. Stickings


The man's legacy is a conservative movement largely discredited and disunited, a president with lower consistent approval ratings than any in modern history, a generational shift to the Democrats, a resurgent al Qaeda, an endless catastrophe in Iraq, a long hard struggle in Afghanistan, a fiscal legacy that means bankrupting America within a decade, and the poisoning of American religion with politics and vice-versa. For this, he got two terms of power -- which the GOP used mainly to enrich themselves, their clients and to expand government's reach and and drain on the productive sector. In the re-election, the president with a relatively strong economy, and a war in progress, managed to eke out 51 percent. Why? Because Rove preferred to divide the country and get his 51 percent, than unite it and get America's 60. In a time of grave danger and war, Rove picked party over country. Such a choice was and remains despicable.

Rove is one of the worst political strategists in recent times. He took a chance to realign the country and to unite it in a war -- and threw it away in a binge of hate-filled niche campaigning, polarization and short-term expediency. His divisive politics and elevation of corrupt mediocrities to every branch of government has turned an entire generation off the conservative label. And rightly so. It will take another generation to recover from the toxins he has injected, with the president's eager approval, into the political culture and into the conservative soul.

Not that I wish good health to the conservative soul, but Andrew's right. Rove won two presidential elections (rather: won one, stole one -- you know what happened) with a malleable child-candidate over weak opponents (yes, that includes Gore) and, the second time, during a time of war and by generating widespread fear through propaganda and lies, but, such electoral success notwithstanding, he has been an abject failure.

Bush and Rove deserved each other -- and history will pummel both of them. The problem is that America, and the world, didn't deserve either one. (America maybe, or much of it, but not the rest of us.)

(Via Digby.)

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Lula and the Amazon

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I don't think too much should be read into this, for such reading would be premature, and excessively optimistic, but there seems to be some encouraging news coming out of Brazil with respect to the state of the Amazonian rainforest:

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has welcomed new figures showing that the destruction of the Amazon rainforest has decreased by 25%.

President Lula said this had prevented the release of millions of tonnes of CO2 gas into the atmosphere.

The government says environmental policies, including measures against illegal logging, have had an effect.

Environmentalists welcomed the figures, but said falling commodity prices and economic conditions were also a factor.

Is Lula -- who seems, and may well be, sincere -- right that "it's possible to have growth while preserving the environment," that "the challenge we have overcome is knowing how to use the jungle and how to preserve the environment while allowing people's lives to be improved"? Well, it's certainly possible to balance economic growth and environmental preservation -- anything is possible, Sir Humphrey would agree -- but it hardly seems likely, and indeed is almost certainly impossible, that that immense challenge has been overcome once and for all.

Besides, although the decrease seems, and may well be, impressive, it must be mentioned that the rainforest is still being destroyed, just not quite as rapidly as in recent years -- it's all relative, no? There has been a 25% decrease, but from what? What does such a statistic even mean? Less CO2 emission, which is good, but still a lot of CO2 emission, which is bad. The goal should not be to slow down the destruction but to put an end to the destruction and to replenish the rainforest, to build it back up again.

Is that too much to ask? Yes, perhaps so, even with Lula running the show.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Sis boom blah

By Creature

You know, I'm not all rah rah over Rove's departure. The earth has been scorched, the death toll is astronomical, and Rove gets to go home, spin in novel form, and collect his riches. I want to cheer, but I just don't have it in me.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Movin' on down the road

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Olbermann on Rove -- watch it here.


There was much applause just now when Jon Stewart announced that Rove had resigned.

Deserved? Yeah, sure. I'm happy he's gone. But I'd be much happier if he were actually held to account for the damage he's done as Bush's chief puppeteer. Perhaps some Republicans, at least, are holding him to account for the damage he's done to their party.


Edward has more here.


Read Isikoff on Rove and Iraq at Newsweek.

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