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  • (1)

    Hot on the heels of the Republicans' child-predator cover-up come new revelations that Senator George Allen, already famous for his "macaca" outburst and alleged racist bigotry revealed in unguarded moments in the past, George Allen of Virginia had secret financial dealings:

    RICHMOND, Va. - For the past five years, Sen. George Allen has failed to tell Congress about stock options he got for his work as a director of a high-tech company. The Virginia Republican also asked the Army to help another business that gave him similar options.

    Unfortunately, at this point, I'm not at all surprised.

    An Associated Press review of Allen's financial dealings from that era found that the senator:

    _Did not have to look far to find corporate suitors, joining three Virginia high-tech companies he assisted as governor. Allen served on boards of directors for Xybernaut and Commonwealth Biotechnologies and advised a third company called Com-Net Ericsson, all government contractors.

    _Twice failed to promptly alert the Securities and Exchange Commission of insider stock transactions as a Xybernaut and Commonwealth director. The SEC requires timely notification and can fine those who file late.

    _Kept stock options provided to him for serving as a director of Xybernaut and Commonwealth, but steered other compensation from his board service to his law firm.

    So what does the good Senator have to say?

    Allen himself said he could not recall helping, and only met former company associates socially. "Whether I see a former — whatever the question is — personally at some social event or political event over the years, so what?" Allen asked.

    Xybernaut declined comment.

    Apparently, this is all in keeping with his history as governor, too.

    As Virginia's governor, Allen took representatives of Xybernaut and Ericsson on trade missions. He helped steer $4 million in tax-exempt bonds to Commonwealth for new headquarters and announced an $800,000 state grant to help Lynchburg, Va., prepare a site for an Ericsson expansion.

    Then he went to work for those companies.

    How convenient -- though that's what most politicians do, especially today when the GOP has made their K Street Project into an unprecedentedly humungous political corruption er, influence -- um -- lobbying enterprise. What's remarkable about these latest disclosures about Allen is just how unremarkable they are.

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    Yes, hes's "determined" alright:

    "Our goal in Iraq is clear and unchanging. Our goal is victory," said Bush, speaking at a rally Thursday for embattled Republican congressman Don Sherwood in the town of La Plume, Pennsylvania.

    "We are a nation at war, and we must do everything in our power to win that war," he said.

    "We will not pull out our troops from Iraq before the terrorists are defeated. We will not pull out before Iraq can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself," he said.

    The problem with this logic is that the "terrorists" are Iraqis, and the war is a civil war.

    We cannot have a "victory" in an Iraqi civil war, not unless we choose sides. Sunnis? Shiites? Kurds? Whose victory in this civil war should we sanction?

    Do they even want our help?

    Yet the Bush Administration seems completely out of touch with reality:

    Snow said it would be "absolutely catastrophic" for Iraq to become a launching pad for Islamic militants.

    It already is. Islamic militants are running the country. The Iraqi "government" hiding behind American troops in a fortress within Baghdad can't even rule Baghdad.

    "So there is no option here, and therefore, we will entertain no option other than to succeed and finish the job," he said.

    In an interview with Time Magazine, Vice President Dick Cheney sounded a similar theme when asked whether the president would be looking for an exit strategy after the election.

    "I know what the president thinks. I know what I think. And we're not looking for an exit strategy. We're looking for victory," he said.

    This is what happens when chickenhawks take us into war. They leave it for others to clean up ... and others to die.

  • (1)

    Vice President Dick Cheney must turn over his visitor logs:

    A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to release information about who visited Vice President Dick Cheney's office and personal residence, an order that could spark a late election-season debate over lobbyists' White House access.

    While researching the access lobbyists and others had on the White House, The Washington Post asked in June for two years of White House visitor logs. The Secret Service refused to process the request, which government attorneys called "a fishing expedition into the most sensitive details of the vice presidency."

    U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina said Wednesday that, by the end of next week, the Secret Service must produce the records or at least identity them and justify why they are being withheld.

    The Secret Service can still try to withhold the records but, in a written ruling Thursday, Urbina questioned the agency's primary argument — that the logs are protected by Cheney's right to executive privilege.

    Cheney has insisted that while he is working in the public's White House, taking taxpayer money, he can do pretty much what he wants in total secrecy, including have secret meetings with his corporate ruling class colleagues without having to even reveal who they are.

    In other words, he wants to be like Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong Il -- the autarch who shall not be scrutinized.

    This is something to watch. The Republican Culture of Corruption keeps bubbling to the top, and this bubble is big and mysterious and has been festering since 2001, and could reveal much not only about secret deals with oil companies but also why we invaded Iraq in the first place.

  • (1)
    Arrested by the Taliban in Afghanistan in January 2000, Rahim says al-Qaida leaders burned him with cigarettes, smashed his right hand, deprived him of sleep, nearly drowned him and hanged him from the ceiling until he "confessed" to spying for the United States.

    U.S. forces took the young Kurd from Syria into custody in January 2002 after the Taliban fled his prison. Accusing him of being an al-Qaida terrorist, U.S. interrogators deprived him of sleep, threatened him with police dogs and kept him in stress positions for hours, he says. He's been held ever since as an enemy combatant.

    Rahim's story is one of several emerging from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay as defense lawyers make bids to free their clients while the Bush administration tries to use a new law to lock them out of federal courts.

    Now it's quite possible that Rahim's story is not true, but how would we know? He's being held without charges, without trial, in the black hole that George W. Bush and the Republican Congress have created in American justice.

    Once upon a time, the American justice system was hailed as an example of fairness. It's not perfect by any stretch, especially for the lower classes, but with the Constitutional rights established very clearly in the United States Constitution, the accused could expect a speedy trial with a fair and impartial jury, a right to confront the evidence, a right to cross-examine witnesses -- and (duh) a right to actually know the charges being filed and challenge their validity. The system is run by people, and therefore is fallible. Injustice has happened all too often.

    However, the Bush Administration has managed to take away even those rights, on an arbitrary basis. And now we have prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay and secret torture interrogation bases in foreign countries, following in the footsteps of the French Bastille and the Soviet Gulags. Is this the road to follow? As more and more Guantanamo prisoners are released, can we truly believe the claim that these people are guilty until proven innocent until the Bush Administration decides otherwise?

  • (1)

    Sometimes this guy out-does even himself:

    To Rush Limbaugh on Monday, Michael J. Fox looked like a faker. The actor, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, has done a series of political ads supporting candidates who favor stem cell research, including Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin, who is running against Republican Michael Steele for the Senate seat being vacated by Paul Sarbanes.

    "He is exaggerating the effects of the disease," Limbaugh told listeners. "He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act. . . . This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."

    So says Doctor Limbaugh, whose "expertise" in medicine gave him above-the-law license to illegally medicate himself. (Why isn't he in prison anyway? Didn't he preach "no tolerance" for drug addicts?)

    "Now people are telling me they have seen Michael J. Fox in interviews and he does appear the same way in the interviews as he does in this commercial," Limbaugh said, according to a transcript on his Web site. "All right then, I stand corrected. . . . So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act."

    Then Limbaugh pivoted to a different critique: "Michael J. Fox is allowing his illness to be exploited and in the process is shilling for a Democratic politician."

    More like Limbaugh is taking Michael J. Fox's political views as an indication that he's somehow not entitled to any sort of humane treatment or consideration or decency. Such is the hate-filled heart of your wingnut media luminaries.

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    Since Rush Limbaugh's spazz-out mockery of Michael J. Fox and attacks on Fox's integrity and honesty, making armchair medical diagnoses that would make even Republican Bill "Terri Schiavo will recover" Frist blush, the right-wing reactionary reaction has been remarkable only in its vehemence.

    On BlogHer, new Contributing Editor Dana Tuszke offers a socially conservative perspective:

    Michael J. Fox and Ben Cardin are misleading the public by playing on the hopes and fears of millions of Americans who are suffering from debilitating diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimers and Dimentia, as well as Parkinson’s Disease. The ad campaign is repulsive because it’s dishonest in promising cures to these diseases, cures that are uncertain and yet to be discovered.

    Instead of arguing the facts and admitting the truth behind Limbaugh’s statements, Democrats attack the radio host calling him cruel and hateful and continue to distort his words and statements he makes on his radio show.

    The Passion of the Christ star Jim Caviezal, along with actress Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Cardinal’s pitcher Jeff Suppan, have appeared in advertisements countering the claims of Michael J. Fox. In the ad Caviezal, Heaton and Suppan tell Missouri voters the facts about embryonic stem cell research and then state “Don’t be tricked”, “Don’t be deceived”, and “Don’t be fooled.”

    Michael J. Fox came into my living room through my television a few nights ago. He showed me how badly his Parkinson’s disease causes him to tremor, so that maybe I’d feel sorry for him and vote Democrat, or maybe I’d feel guilty if I responded to his exploitation of his condition.

    She claims that there is no hope for any results from stem-cell research, and says everyone who says otherwise is trying to "trick the intelligence of their voters." And this is the soft-spoken attack on Fox, though in the comments she gets more strident and plain-spoken. There's quite a discussion thread there worth reading.

    In case you missed it, Michael J. Fox fired back at the attacks:

    It's funny because, what I'm talking about is about hope. It's about promise. It's about moving forward. It's a forward-looking attitude about what this country is capable of and what we can accomplish for our citizens.

    And so if we get sidetracked into a dialogue about whether sick people have a right to display their symptoms in public, you know, that reaction. I think it was more disappointing, from the point of view of— The campaigns, like the [Republican Senate candidate Michael] Steele campaign, their spokesman said, "It was in poor taste," which really— I mean, I'm out here and I expect that. Being in the lead, I'll take some hits. And that's fine. I'm a big boy. Well, not height-wise.

    BlogHer Contributing Editor Melinda Casino offers a run-down of other reactions.

    For a little background and insight, another BlogHer Contributing Editor Marianne Richmond writes:

    Surprising because Dana sees it as exploitation and I see it as someone who cares about stem cell research for the most personal of reasons; and that his appearance with his symtoms painfully obvious puts us as close as we can get to experiencing what this disease looks and feels like.

    The way that the issue of stem cell research has been painted to be about other various moral hot buttons, cloning, right to life, is exploitive.

    My son told me that some of the St. Louis Cardinals were in ads advocating "Vote No" on the stem cell amendenment. The New York Times coverage of this called it "Pitching and Politics."
    This I see as an example of celebrities contributing to the exploitation of an issue.

    Also interesting is the BlogHer forum thread, "Does GOD really care about stem cell research?"

  • (1)

    You didn't want to eat them, did you?

    WASHINGTON (AFP) - The world's fish and seafood could disappear by 2048 as overfishing and pollution destroy ocean ecosystems at an accelerating pace, US and Canadian researchers reported.

    If current global trends continue, the loss of fish and seafood will threaten humans' food supplies and the environment, according to the most exhaustive study to date on the subject, published in the November 3 issue of the US journal Science.

    "Our analyzes suggest that business as usual would foreshadow serious threats to global food security, coastal water quality, and ecosystem stability, affecting current and future generations," the international team of ecologists and economists wrote in "Impact of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services."

    Of course, we don't want to do anything about it, do we? After all, we don't want government regulation of free enterprise, do we?

    Or should Republican pollyanna sloganeering be set aside, once and for all?

    "Whether we looked at tide pools or studies over the entire world's ocean, we saw the same picture emerging," Worm said in a statement. "In losing species we lose the productivity and stability of entire ecosystems. I was shocked and disturbed by how consistent these trends are -- beyond anything we suspected."

    When ocean species collapse, it makes the ocean itself weaker and less able to recover from shocks like global climate change, Worm said.

    The decline in marine biodiversity is largely due to over-fishing and destruction of habitat, Worm said in a telephone interview from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

    Oh, but global warming is a hoax! Dick Cheney and George W. Bush said so! We don't want to be premature in our judgment, do we? Better to let the fish all die and the ice caps melt before we do anything about it — just so we're certain!

    Right?

  • (1)

    In this the new and improved socially conservative Republican version of "I did not inhale"?

    The Rev. Ted Haggard said Friday he bought methamphetamine and received a massage from a male prostitute. But the influential Christian evangelist insisted he threw the drugs away and never had sex with the man.

    Puh-leez!

    Is this credible?

    Haggard, a vocal opponent of gay marriage, resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals on Thursday after being accused by a male escort of having had a sexual relationship with him and using meth.

    "I did call him. I called him to buy some meth. But I threw it away. I was buying it for me but I never used it," Haggard, who looked uneasy as he sat in a car with his wife, said in an interview with KUSA TV in Colorado broadcast on CNN.

    Asked if he had sex with his accuser, he replied tersely, "No I did not." He said he had sought the man out at a Denver hotel for a "massage."

    This is just one leader among many who demand laws and Constitutional Amendments to keep them from being gay.

    Imagine what Ted Haggard might have done had he been allowed to marry the man! No wonder there oughta be a law!

  • (1)

    Because if you don't vote, you don't matter to the people making the laws.

    Because you will negate the vote of a voter who disagrees with everything you believe in.

    Because you double the vote of a voter who agrees with you.

    Because elections reflect the will of the people only if the people vote.

    If you don't vote, don't bitch about the consequences. If you're too apathetic to vote, why should anyone care what you think?

    Vote today!

    ...and help define our political future.

    "Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves — and the only way they could do this is by not voting." — Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • (1)

    Some very interesting, if distressing, articles in the New York Review of Books over the past three weeks offer some context for the mess we find ourselves in.

    In the December 21, 2006 issue, Mark Danner's review, "The War of the Imagination," looks at just how we got into Iraq in the first place. What were they thinking, anyway?

    Inherent in the War of Imagination were certain rather obvious contradictions: Donald Rumsfeld's dream of a "demonstration model" war of quick, overwhelming victory did not foresee an extended occupation—on the contrary, the defense secretary abjured, publicly and vociferously, any notion that his troops would be used for "nation-building." Rumsfeld's war envisioned rapid victory and rapid departure. Wolfowitz and the other Pentagon neoconservatives, on the other hand, imagined a "democratic transformation," a thoroughgoing social revolution that would take a Baathist Party–run autocracy, complete with a Baathist-led army and vast domestic spying and security services, and transform it into a functioning democratic polity—without the participation of former Baathist officials.

    How to resolve this contradiction? The answer, for the Pentagon, seems to have amounted to one word: Chalabi.Apparently, Chalabi was the plan. Put him into power, and he would do the nation building. There was one flaw in that plan: President Bush refused to put him into power. That caused a problem, because the brilliant minds behind this war did not have a plan B.

    So there would be no President Chalabi. Unfortunately, the President, who thought of himself, Woodward says, "as the calcium in the backbone" of the US government, having banned Chalabi's ascension, neither offered an alternative plan nor forced the government he led to agree on one. Nor did Secretary Rumsfeld, who knew only that he wanted a quick victory and a quick departure.So what now?

    Nearly four years into the Iraq war, as we enter the Time of Proposed Solutions, the consequences of those early decisions define the bloody landscape. By dismissing and humiliating the soldiers and officers of the Iraqi army our leaders, in effect, did much to recruit the insurgency. By bringing far too few troops to secure Saddam's enormous arms depots they armed it. By bringing too few to keep order they presided over the looting and overwhelming violence and social disintegration that provided the insurgency such fertile soil. By blithely purging tens of thousands of the country's Baathist elite, whatever their deeds, and by establishing a muscle-bound and inept American occupation without an "Iraqi face," they created an increasing resentment among Iraqis that fostered the insurgency and encouraged people to shelter it. And by providing too few troops to secure Iraq's borders they helped supply its forces with an unending number of Sunni Islamic extremists from neighboring states. It was the foreign Islamists' strategy above all to promote their jihadist cause by provoking a sectarian civil war in Iraq; by failing to prevent their attacks and to protect the Shia who became their targets, the US leaders have allowed them to succeed.Danner's review, which addresses State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III by Bob Woodward (Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., $30.00), The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 by Ron Suskind (Simon and Schuster, 367 pp., $27.00) and State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, by James Risen (Free Press, 240 pp., $26.00), is well worth the read.