Friday, December 30, 2005

Abramoff pleads: Bob Ney and other Congressional sleazeballs should be very, very afraid. Lobbyist, Prosecutors Said Close to Deal - Yahoo! News

Friday, December 23, 2005

Will this spy scandal fade away without penalty for Bush? Peter Daou shows why. Salon.com - Daou Report
Here's the highlights of his look at the Bush scandal cycle:
1. POTUS [President Bush] circumvents the law - an impeachable offense.

2. The story breaks (in this case after having been concealed by a news organization until well after Election 2004).

3. The Bush crew floats a number of pushback strategies, settling on one that becomes the mantra of virtually every Republican surrogate. These Republicans face down poorly prepped Dem surrogates and shred them on cable news shows.

4. Rightwing attack dogs on talk radio, blogs, cable nets, and conservative editorial pages maul Bush's critics as traitors for questioning the CIC [Commander in Chief].

5. The Republican leadership plays defense for Bush, no matter how flagrant the Bush over-reach, no matter how damaging the administration's actions to America's reputation and to the Constitution. A few 'mavericks' like Hagel or Specter risk the inevitable rightwing backlash and meekly suggest that the president should obey the law. John McCain, always the Bush apologist when it really comes down to it, minimizes the scandal.

6. Left-leaning bloggers and online activists go ballistic, expressing their all-too-familiar combination of outrage at Bush and frustration that nothing ever seems to happen with these scandals. Several newspaper editorials echo these sentiments but quickly move on to other issues.

7. A few reliable Dems, Conyers, Boxer, et al, take a stand on principle, giving momentary hope to the progressive grassroots/netroots community. The rest of the Dem leadership is temporarily outraged (adding to that hope), but is chronically incapable of maintaining the sense of high indignation and focus required to reach critical mass and create a wholesale shift in public opinion. For example, just as this mother of all scandals hits Washington, Democrats are still putting out press releases on Iraq, ANWR and a range of other topics, diluting the story and signaling that they have little intention of following through. This allows Bush to use his three favorite weapons: time, America's political apathy, and make-believe 'journalists' who yuck it up with him and ask fluff questions at his frat-boy pressers.

8. Reporters and media outlets obfuscate and equivocate, pretending to ask tough questions but essentially pushing the same narratives they've developed and perfected over the past five years, namely, some variation of "Bush firm, Dems soft." A range of Bush-protecting tactics are put into play, one being to ask ridiculously misleading questions such as "Should Bush have the right to protect Americans or should he cave in to Democratic political pressure?" All the while, the right assaults the "liberal" media for daring to tell anything resembling the truth.

9. Polls will emerge with 'proof' that half the public agrees that Bush should have the right to "protect Americans against terrorists." Again, the issue will be framed to mask the true nature of the malfeasance. The media will use these polls to create a self-fulfilling loop and convince the public that it isn't that bad after all. The president breaks the law. Life goes on.

10. The story starts blending into a long string of administration scandals, and through skillful use of scandal fatigue, Bush weathers the storm and moves on, further demoralizing his opponents and cementing the press narrative about his 'resolve' and toughness. Congressional hearings might revive the issue momentarily, and bloggers will hammer away at it, but the initial hype is all the Democratic leadership and the media can muster, and anyway, it's never as juicy the second time around...

Rinse and repeat.

It's a battle of attrition that Bush and his team have mastered. Short of a major Dem initiative to alter the cycle, to throw a wrench into the system, to go after the media institutionally, this cycle will continue for the foreseeable future.

Called overseas in the last 4 years? You were an NSA target, probably. Wiretaps said to sift all overseas contacts - The Boston Globe

Check here daily to learn the latest on Bush's illegal power grabs and spying. Patriot Daily :: "Orwellian" Democracy

How to get a human being on the line at any major business, government agency, bank, online store or other service.IVR Cheat Sheet(tm) by Paul English

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Schneier on Security

Bruce Schneier is the security expert who gives us the most complete picture of Bush's violations of law and presidential tradition. Contrast it to the idiocies of Ann Coulter, below.Schneier on Security

Here's what America's crypto-fascists really think: Ann Coulter on the spy and torture scandals. This is her version of "wit," I guess:

Which brings me to this week's scandal about No Such Agency spying on "Americans." I have difficulty ginning up much interest in this story inasmuch as I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East, and sending liberals to Guantanamo.

But if we must engage in a national debate on half-measures: After 9/11, any president who was not spying on people calling phone numbers associated with terrorists should be impeached for being an inept commander in chief.

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE - Conservative News, Views & Books

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Here's the best, most lucid summary of how the President's eavesdropping got out of control -- and why it matters. Schneier on Security: NSA and Bush's Illegal Eavesdropping

FBI priority: vegans over terrorists. Bookmark this prize-winning site while you're at it. firedoglake

Here's a feast of one-stop shopping progressive news and commentary about the President's illegal domestic spying. Is it an impeachable offense? Patriot Daily :: "Orwellian" Democracy

Monday, December 19, 2005

"Christmastime for the Jews" -- Saturday Night Live had a very funny animated parody about Jews enjoying Christmas day, even if an anti-Semitic line was edited out before airtime but showed on the closed-captioning. (Jews wrote the script, so we're allowed to make the jokes about ourselves.) If you've got a quick-time player software, you can see it for yourself. Comedian - A Never Too Funny Comedian's Blog

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Here's when domestic spying is allowed under law -- and the Republican lies about that law. Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: Purposely misquoting FISA to defend the Bush Administration

Update: The foreign intelligence surveilance law lets you ask for a warrant 72 hours AFTER you start surveillance. So the president's arguments that timely action was necessary to act against terrorist threats is completely bogus.

Even conservative legal scholars concede: the President broke the law. At the right-leaning Volokh conspiracy, Orin Kerr offers the most detailed analysis of the various statutes and constitutional sections that might justify warrantless wiretaps, and concludes:

"My answer is pretty tentative, but here it goes: Although it hinges somewhat on technical details we don't know, it seems that the program was probably constitutional but probably violated the federal law known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. My answer is extra-cautious for two reasons. First, there is some wiggle room in FISA, depending on technical details we don't know of how the surveillance was done. Second, there is at least a colorable argument — if, I think in the end, an unpersuasive one — that the surveillance was authorized by the Authorization to Use Miltary Force as construed in the Hamdi opinion."

Saturday, December 17, 2005

All the laws President Bush broke by approving the spying on civillians without warrants.The Washington Monthly As the Washington Monthly points out,
"This is against the law. I have put references to the relevant statute below the fold; the brief version is: the law forbids warrantless surveillance of US citizens, and it provides procedures to be followed in emergencies that do not leave enough time for federal agents to get a warrant. If the NY Times report is correct, the government did not follow these procedures. It therefore acted illegally.

"Bush's order is arguably unconstitutional as well: it seems to violate the fourth amendment, and it certainly violates the requirement (Article II, sec. 3) that the President "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."

But the right-wing spin machine has an answer for it in Michelle Malkin's popular blog:

"The real headline news is not that President Bush took extraordinary measures to protect Americans in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but that the blabbermouths at the Times chose to disclose classified information in a pathetically obvious bid to move the Iraqi elections off the front pages. And to help sabotage the Patriot Act reauthorization, which went down in the Senate this afternoon.

[Update: And to grease the wheels for Times reporter James Risen's new book.]"

Earth to Malkin: By similar reasoning, the Washington Post threatened national security when they revealed President Nixon's Watergate and anti-bugging operations. And since Woodward and Bernstein planned to write a book, all their reporting on Watergate should be considered compromised.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Listen to the best albums of the year on NPR.org this week.NPR : Live Call In: The Year's Best Music, Friday, 1 p.m.

Why we're losing New Orleans: The President wants to make the public forget his Katrina failures. The New York Times wrote an eloquent editorial last week about the indifference to New Orleans after Bush's unfulfilled promises -- and the immediate need for effective levee repair, at least.

But what's equally troubling is why the Bush Administration doesn't care anymore about Katrina: it wants to keep it off the nation's "radar screen," apparently so memories of Katrina don't drag down his poll numbers any more. A reporter with strong insider White House sources, Time's Mike Allen, on last week's Meet the Press, pointed out, "Tim, I'm going to tell you something that's going to amaze you because it amazed me when I looked it up yesterday and I lost a bet on this. The last time the president was in the hurricane region was October 11th, two months ago. The president stood in New Orleans and said it was going to be one of the largest reconstruction efforts in the history of the world. You go to the White House home page, there's Barney-Cam, there's Social Security, there's renewing Iraq. Where's renewing New Orleans? A presidential adviser told me that that issue has fallen so far off the radar screen, you can't even find it.

"Now, the White House told me that a lot of administration officials are going down there. More than 110 of them have made trips down there. They say they're still assessing how much they're going to spend. They're soon going to announce an initiative about communication during disasters and then there's an internal debate about how many mistakes to admit when they do that, but the other thing that was in the president's speech that's not mentioned there is remember how we thought that we had learned a lesson about race and poverty from what happened in New Orleans? One of the most memorable oratorical passages of this presidency, the White House put out, you know, bound books of that speech, talking about what he was going to do in that area. I go to speeches every day, we don't hear that.

"MR. RUSSERT: The American attention span, of--Katrina victims are still there, suffering."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Who were this year's biggest liars and spin artists? Take the survey. 'Tis the Season to be Falsie

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Will this smear work? Republican ad targets "white flag" anti-war Democrats. DRUDGE REPORT FLASH 2005� Cheney's sliming of Democrats, amazingly enough, did work, adding to the public's belief that Democratic criticisms of the administration's conduct of the war undermined our troops, according to Washington Post polling.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tabloid writer tells all -- and how the Bush-loving media followed in his wake. The Blog | Tom D'Antoni: How to Make Up Stories for the Tabloids, Fox News, etc. | The Huffington Post Tom (a longtime friend) has also been written up in USA Today for his book Rabid Nun Infects Entire Convent about his stint as a tabloid writer for The Sun.

Ten pro-war fallacies. Peter Daou summarizes all the logical flaws and errors behind pro-war Republican arguments. Here's a sample of his counter-arguments:

To borrow Samuel Johnson's immortal words, this argument, like (false) patriotism, is the "last refuge of scoundrels." Implying that opposing views are treasonous is the surest way to stifle dissent.

And it's a cheap way to avoid confronting hard questions. Such as: Does anyone seriously believe that Bush's course of action in Iraq has intimidated or deterred the enemy? Doesn't the fact that the insurgency is as strong as ever "embolden" the enemy?

The sobering truth is that there are dozens of recent events and actions that 'embolden the enemy' far more than advocating a disciplined, phased redeployment. Torture of detainees, the use of white phosphorus as an offensive weapon, the curtailing of civil liberties at home, the shameful abandonment of American citizens in the aftermath of Katrina, the cynical outing of CIA agents, the smearing of war critics as traitors, these are far more encouraging to America's enemies. If we are truly engaged in a clash of civilizations, an epic battle against "Islamofascism," then our enemies are far more interested in the destruction of those things that are quintessentially American and that give us the moral high ground (freedom of speech, adherence to international law, upholding ethical norms and standards, respect for human rights, etc.) than strategic redeployment in Iraq.

Salon.com - Daou Report

Friday, December 02, 2005

The latest Bush lie: Iraqi forces led the fight in city of Tal Afar. Think Progress � Embedded TIME Reporter: Bush Lied In Speech Yesterday About Iraqi Security Forces

A case history: the con-man's lies the Bush Administration sold us. As itturns out, every single thing the Administartion ever told us about the Iraq war was a falsehood, as Franch Rich points out, including "and" and "the," to paraphrase Mary McCarthy.How U.S. Fell Under the Spell of 'Curveball' - Los Angeles Times

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