News Updates


Sound and fury signifying nothing;
Conservative judge blasts 'Terri's law'

Terri Schiavo has passed on and instead of hoping that she finally is allowed to rest in peace, House GOP strongman Tom DeLay lashes out with recriminations at those who thwarted his efforts to prolong her ordeal. Eric Boehlert of notes that the "news" media wildly overplayed the Schiavo protesters, ignored facts and gave Bush a free ride. DailyKos notes an opinion issued 3/30/05 by Judge Stanley Birch of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Birch wrote a concurrence when his court denied the Schindlers' last-gasp appeal. Birch writes:


In resolving the Schiavo controversy it is my judgment that, despite sincere and altruistic motivation, the legislative and executive branches of our government have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people - our Constitution. Since I have sworn, as have they, to uphold and defend that Covenant, I must respectfully concur in the denial of the request for rehearing en banc.

I conclude that ["Terri's Law"] is unconstitutional and, therefore, this court and the district court are without jurisdiction in this case under that special Act and should refuse to exercise any jurisdiction that we may otherwise have in this case. ...

The separation of powers implicit in our constitutional design was created "to assure, as nearly as possible, that each branch of government would confine itself to its assigned responsibility." But when the fervor of political passions moves the Executive and the Legislative branches to act in ways inimical to basic constitutional principles, it is the duty of the judiciary to intervene. If sacrifices to the independence of the judiciary are permitted today, precedent is established for the constitutional transgressions of tomorrow.

DavidNYC writes for DailyKos:


Birch goes on to say that Congress could have passed a constitutional law -- in other words, one which would not have tried to improperly dictate a specific legal result -- but of course, the always over-reaching GOP just couldn't restrain itself.

Now that Theresa Schiao has passed away, I doubt that any of her so-called "supporters" are even going to waste much time bashing Judge Birch. But even if they try, they'll gain no traction. Birch is a very conservative appointee of Bush I - this is one of his best-known recent opinions. When a man like him takes the time to lay on some heavy criticism on this topic, you know it's serious.

But with this story now riding off into the sunset, the most important thing here is simply that Judge Birch put pen to paper and ensured that his opinion would become part of official caselaw for all time. The next time that Congress blatantly over-steps its constitutional authority as it did here, we'll have a powerful new arrow in our quiver, thanks to Judge Birch.


Ex-diplomats slam Bolton

Christian Science Monitor reports:


When US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's March 7 announcement that the blunt-spoken and controversial John Bolton would be the Bush administration's nominee for US ambassador to the UN, some supported the idea as a much-needed means of shaking up the status quo.

But far more have come out against the move.

Now, 59 former US diplomats have added their voices to the din by sending a letter urging the Senate to reject Mr. Bolton's nomination. The letter to Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, states that Bolton "is the wrong man for this position." It also chides Bolton for his "insistence that the UN is valuable only when it directly serves the United States."

The Foreign Relations Committee must consider the nomination before it goes to the full Senate for confirmation. Lugar has scheduled hearings for April 7.

Comedy lives ... on gabfests

C-span and PBS aside, there's not much straight news on TV anymore ... but unintentional comedy still lives. Here's some hilariously bad TV journalism from Fox's Joe Scarborough. His exchange with neurologist Ronald Cranford could almost qualify as a Monty Python sketch if it wasn't another sad product of the Schiavo debacle.

Cue the apologists, part 2

As memos are declassified, blame for torture techniques is slowly ascending the chain of command. Let's hope it bubbles all the way to the top. Tom Tomorrow points to Mark Kraft's catch on March 29.


W: 'Don't trust T-bills'

Unload your 'worthless' gov't notes here.

George W. Bush tells so many lies about Social Security that the press hardly bothers to point them out any more. Blogger Atrios noted that during one of Bush's choreographed townhall meetings in Alabama March 10, one of those people selected to speak with Bush was Sarah Garrison Webster. As a federal employee, she is eligible for the federal Thrift Savings Plan, which lets federal employees put some of their retirement money into stocks. When asked about the Thrift Savings Plan, she said, "I chose the safe plan, government bonds." Bush replied, "That's all right. Well, not so safe, unless we fix the deficit." noted, "Except that he's doing nothing to fix the deficit, so has he just said that government bonds aren't safe bets anymore, because of the irresponsible deficits his government has run?"

Then, in his 3/16/05 press conference, Bush said there was no such thing as a Social Security trust fund. "A lot of people in America think there is a trust: Your money goes in, the government holds it, and then the government gives your money back when you retire. That's just not the way it works. And it's important for the American citizens to understand. It's a pay-as-you-go system. And right now, we're paying for a lot of programs other than Social Security with the payroll tax coming in, thereby leaving a pile of IOUs. And part of why I think a personal account is an attractive option for a younger worker is that there will be real assets in the system at this point in time."

Bush knows very well that in 1983 Congress adopted the recommendations of a commission headed up by Alan Greenspan to increase revenues in anticipation of the retirement of Baby Boomers. The Social Security Administration notes that the Social Security Trust Funds earn interest and, by law, the assets of the Social Security program must be invested in securities guaranteed as to both principal and interest. The Trust Funds hold a mix of short-term and long-term government bonds. Martin Walk noted in January that SSA holds more than $1.6 trillion in assets.

Those IOUs are what people in the investment community know as "Treasury Bills" or "T Bills." For those innocents who believe that the government will default on paying off those Treasury notes, as Bush and some Republican Congress members have suggested in their continuing scare campaign, Al Franken has offered on his AirAmerica radio show to buy T bills, at 10 cents for every dollar of their face value. He said on the show today that he has been making this offer for a week, and nobody has taken him up on it so far.

We'll back Franken's play. If you have US Treasury bills that you are concerned the government will not honor, we'll also redeem them at 10 cents on the dollar. Better yet, if some well-heeled blowhard repeats Bush's Social Security canards, ask them if they have any T bills in their investment portfolio. If they do, let them know that we'll take that "worthless paper" off their hands.

Bush aide defends opposition to MLK

David Sirota notes:


This Washington Post profile of President Bush's top domestic policy adviser, Claude A. Allen, is illustrative of the kind of hard-right outlook that comes from the White House. According to the piece, Allen was a top spokesman for U.S. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), the man who became infamous for his racist views. When asked about whether, as an African-American, Allen had trouble working for Helms, the Post reports that "Allen counts the controversial Helms as a mentor, calling him a man of integrity and principle."

When pushed about how he felt about Helms high-profile opposition to things like Martin Luther King Day, "Allen said he differed with his boss on that one but" - GET THIS - "he added that Helms's stated objections - that King was linked to communists, that the holiday cost too much and that individuals should not be granted national holidays - were legitimate."

This is really disgusting, but remember, it shouldn't be surprising. President Bush, who grew up a rich blueblood son of priviledge, has show a total disdain for African Americans during his term. He was the first President in the modern era not to address the NAACP, and in 2004 he actually used Martin Luther King Day as a cheap excuse to force taxpayers to pay for his trip to Atlanta, where he visited King's grave for all of a few minutes, and then spent the rest of the holiday holding lavish fundraisers for himself with his big donors.

Many Layers of Terri Schiavo Controversy

Ralph Nader takes a more reasoned look at the argument for keeping Terri Schiavo.

Also at, Mark Polit, a disability rights advocate, makes the argument that the left should not accept being pigeonholed as favoring the death of Terri Schiavo. He concludes: "Progressives need to be consistent and recognize the sanctity of life is more than a political ploy of the fascists in power. Life is fundamental to the progressive position. And Terri Schiavo was a life, with an inherent dignity and an incalculable worth."

Josie Byzek also writes on the Schiavo case from a disability-rights perspective. She concludes, "there will be agitation for changes and overhauls to the guardianship laws in our nation and in our states. I ask any of you who follow this kind of thing to set aside all framework of prolife/prochoice and instead help us stamp these laws with the progressive value of self-determination. Help ensure these laws reflect the disability community's perspective. Otherwise I shudder to think what may happen."

Iowans rake Social Security 'fix'


Even temperatures nearing 70 degrees Monday didn't stop more than 80 people from gathering at the Iowa City Public Library to oppose Social Security reform proposals.

Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, hosted a community meeting for about two hours, with discussion primarily focused on fixing Social Security, although there were also questions about the Iraq war and the growing federal deficit. ...

"There is so little reality about the bill," said Ann Bovbjerg of Iowa City. "The most insulting is saying, 'you'll be OK (seniors), it's the younger generation who won't be.' Who are these younger people? They are your kids and my kids."

No one in attendance voiced support for the proposals that have been introduced by the president.

Bush backers bounce critics

TPM's Josh Marshall, who has been covering President Bush's Social Security "Bamboozlepalooza" tour, also notes that three people were removed from Bush's town hall meeting on Social Security in Denver last week after being singled out because of a bumper sticker on their car.

According to AP, the three said they had obtained tickets through the office of Rep. Bob Beauprez, R-Colo., had passed through security and were preparing to take their seats when they were approached by what they thought was a Secret Service agent who asked them to leave.

Marshall notes: "Reports like this have become commonplace on the Bamboozlepalooza Tour. And, remember, despite the obvious political campaign content, this roadshow is paid for entirely with taxpayer dollars . That fact must make these sorts of ideological litmus tests a no-no."

See more on the Denver bouncing at


Moon: US should "discard" democracy

From The Washington Times owner's most recent of many consistent entreaties to toss democracy on the scrap-heap along with Communism:


The United States is proud of its democratic system, which carries the idea of brotherhood. She has to adopt the ideas of Parents and Godism. We have to discard relationships that resulted from the Fall.

It is time to have a new organization in a new era; then we can start with a strong mind. All of us have to have positive, active minds. As was done in Korea, you have to provide Divine Principle education to senators, congressmen, high national officials and those on the local level.

Atrios notes: The owner of the flagship conservative daily newspaper says it's time to end American democracy.

Some day I'll understand how some idiot on the left that no one's ever heard of can be turned into a national symbol when he says something stupid, and the billionaire owner of the premier propaganda outlet of the right is completely ignored.



Some truths in Schiavo case

Reasonable people can disagree on the question of whether Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die. The trouble is, we seldom see reasonable people on the TV news, particularly cable news. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann offers an exception.

Christian soldier

Billmon is back at the Whiskey Bar with a curious coincidence.

Atrios has more on Bill Tierney

By the way, Billmon explains why he returned to blogging after detoxing.

Senators switch on usury

David Sirota notes:


In 1991, 18 senators who still serve today voted for a bill by Sen. Al D’Amato (R-NY) to limit the interest rate credit card companies can charge to 14 percent (the measure was consequently stripped out of the final bill). Those same 18 Senators voted a few weeks ago against a bill by Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN) to limit the interest rate credit card companies can charge to 30 percent.

Why would 18 senators, including co-sponsors of the original measure, vote for a tougher pro-consumer measure in 1991, and then vote against a weaker measure in 2005? Could it be that the more than $2 million these Senators took from the credit card/banking industry in the interim made them change their mind? Or, was there another reason? I’d say the public deserves an answer.

Senators who voted for D'Amato's 14% interet-rate cap but who voted against Dayton's 30% interest-rate cap that was rejected 24-74 as an amendment to the bankruptcy peonage bill:

Baucus, D-Mont.
Biden, D-Del.
Burns, R-Mont.
Cochran, R-Miss.
Craig, R-Idaho
Domenici, R-N.M. (spoke in favor of D'Amato amendment on the floor)
Grassley, R-Iowa
Kerry, D-Mass.
Kohl, D-Wis.
Leahy, D-Vt.
Lott, R-Miss.
McCain, R-Ariz.
Reid, D-Nev.
Sarbanes, D-Md.
Shelby, R-Ala.
Specter, R-Pa. (a co-sponsor of the D'Amato amendment)
Stevens, R-Alaska (a co-sponsor of the D'Amato amendment)
Warner, R-Va.

Shame on 12 other Dems who voted against the Dayton amendment:

Bingaman (D-NM)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carper (D-DE)
Durbin (D-IL)
Johnson (D-SD)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Obama (D-IL)
Reed (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

No Republicans voted for the usury amendment to the bankruptcy peonage bill.

If you live in any of those states, you might let them know you noticed and ask them what changed -- or whether they think there ought to be a limit to credit card usury.

Junk lawsuits or justice?

Dwight Mereditch notes: It turns out that some of the loudest voices for restricting lawsuits have filed lawsuits their own selves. For example, then-Gov. George W. Bush sued Enterprise car rental to recover property damage to a car driven by his daughter, because the other driver did not have a valid driver’s license and, therefore, that Enterprise should not have rented him a car.

Sen. Rick Santorum once noted: "We have a much too costly legal system. It is one that makes us uncompetitive and inefficient, and one that is not fair to society as a whole. While we may have people, individuals, who hit the jackpot and win the lottery in some cases, that is not exactly what our legal system should be designed to do."

But Santorum refuses to explain why his wife sued a chiropractor for half a million dollars alleging back injuries from a badly done spinal manipulation. A Virginia jury awarded her $350,000 in 1999. Santorum said it is a private matter.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay also is a leading tort reformer, who seems particularly concerned with the effect of law suits on businesses. According to the L.A. Times, DeLay wants to rein in trial lawyers to protect American businesses from what he calls “frivolous, parasitic lawsuits” that raise insurance premiums and “kill jobs."…

Last September, he expressed less than warm sentiment for attorneys when he took the floor of the House to condemn trial lawyers who, he said, "get fat off the pain" of plaintiffs and off "the hard work" of defendants.

But when his own father, Charles DeLay, was critically injured in a 1988 accident, DeLay was quick to have his own family “get fat… off the hard work of defendants.”


Charles and his brother, Jerry DeLay, two avid tinkerers, had just finished work on a new backyard tram — an elevator-like device that would carry family and friends down a 200-foot slope to the blue-green waters of Canyon Lake.

The two men called for their wives to hop aboard. Charles pushed the button and the maiden run began. Within seconds, a horrific screeching noise echoed across the still lake — "a sickening sound," said a neighbor. The tram was in trouble.

Maxine, seated up front in the four-passenger trolley, said her husband repeatedly tried to engage the emergency brake, but the rail car kept picking up speed. Halfway down the bank, it was free-wheeling, according to accident investigators.

Moments later, it jumped the track and slammed into a tree, scattering passengers and debris in all directions.

How did DeLay react to the accident that killed his father?


In 1990, the DeLays filed suit against Midcap Bearing Corp. of San Antonio and Lovejoy Inc. of Illinois, the distributor and maker of a coupling that the family said had failed and caused the tram to hurtle out of control.

The family's wrongful death lawsuit accused the companies of negligence and sought actual and punitive damages.

Tom DeLay was a named plaintiff in that suit. The case settled for something in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million dollars. Three years after his mother received the settlement, DeLay cosponsored a bill specifically designed to override state laws on product liability such as the one cited in his family's lawsuit. The legislation provided sweeping exemptions for product sellers.

DeLay OK'd dad's death

In the same story that reported DeLay's flip-flop on suing businesses with deep pockets, the Los Angeles Times notes that DeLay also has flip-flopped on the right of next-of-kin to take their critically-ill loved one off life support. DeLay has championed political intervention to keep alive Terry Schiavo, who doctors say has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years. That's quite a turnabout from 1988, when he quietly joined his family's consensus to let his father die.


"There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old widowed mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way [Charles] wanted to live like that. Tom knew — we all knew — his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way."

Doctors advised that he would "basically be a vegetable," said the congressman's aunt, JoAnne DeLay.

When his father's kidneys failed, the DeLay family decided against connecting him to a dialysis machine. "Extraordinary measures to prolong life were not initiated," said his medical report, citing "agreement with the family's wishes." His bedside chart carried the instruction: "Do not resuscitate."

On Dec. 14, 1988, the DeLay patriarch "expired with his family in attendance."

"The situation faced by the congressman's family was entirely different than Terri Schiavo's," said a spokesman for the majority leader, who declined requests for an interview.

This is the same guy, remember, who questioned the motives of Terri Schiavo's husband, Michael, in a series of outrageous defamations. "No care for 15 years. No therapy. No nothing," DeLay said, his voice awash in scorn, according to the St Petersburg Times. "What kind of man is that?"

The Center for American Progress noted that DeLay leveled some of the most extreme and inappropriate charges regarding the Schiavo case.


He described the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube as an "act of medical terrorism," demagogued Schiavo's husband Michael on the floor of the House of Representatives, and said to a group of Christian conservatives that " God has brought [Terri Schiavo] to us … to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America," referring to "attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others." Yet, for all his bombastic rhetoric, it appears DeLay's involvement in the case was tied to politics, not principle. The Texas native apparently had little to do with the Schiavo controversy prior to the past few weeks. According to a search of LexisNexis, the first article mentioning both DeLay and Schiavo appeared on 3/11/05, while the first documents mentioning Schiavo on DeLay's website were published March 18. And now, "in the face of the legal setbacks and of polls that show overwhelming disapproval of Congressional intervention, as well as a perception among the public that lawmakers trying it were motivated by politics," DeLay has once again "slipped out of the spotlight."

What kind of of a man is Tom DeLay?

Dunning our troops

Daily Kos notes: "Fresh off their great Scrooge-like work on the bankruptcy bill, the credit companies are back at it again -- now they are illegally dunning our soldiers." The New York Times reports that "Americans heading off to war are sometimes facing distracting and demoralizing demands from financial companies trying to collect on obligations that, by law, they cannot enforce."


Some cases involve nationally prominent companies like Wells Fargo and Citigroup, though both say they are committed to strict compliance with the law.

The problem, most military law specialists say, is that too many lenders, debt collectors, landlords, lawyers and judges are unaware of the federal statute or do not fully understand it. ...

One reason they are surfacing in unlikely places is the Pentagon's increased reliance on Reserve and National Guard units that do not hail from traditional military towns, said Lt. Col. Barry Bernstein, the judge advocate general for the South Carolina National Guard. When these units are called up, he said, their members find themselves facing creditors and courts that may never have dealt with the relief act.

Police Academy Baghdad

Village Voice exposes the Bush administration's padding of both enemy body counts and the number of Iraqi policemen. The Voice suggests that the number of Iraqi police has declined by 33% from last year even as we are told that the Iraqis are poised to take over from US troops.

How are we different from a 'police state' again?

Eric Alterman writes: "The United States of America , under the leadership of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, is operating a police state at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere in military and secret prisons throughout the world, where innocent people are being jailed, tortured and sometimes murdered without concern for their guilt or innocence.  This is not empty, anti-American rhetoric, it is verifiable truth, and aside from the moral revulsion it causes in anyone who claims to be interested in such matters, it also undermines any claims we might have to the moral leadership of the world community.  Do I exaggerate?  I think not.  Does anyone care?  You can bet the rest of the world does.  See below:"

“Murder Is Us ”


Despite recommendations by Army investigators, commanders have decided not to prosecute 17 American soldiers implicated in the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, according to a new accounting released Friday by the Army.

Jail the innocent; ignore the evidence, cover up the crime


In recently declassified portions of a January ruling, a federal judge criticized the military panel for ignoring the exculpatory information that dominates Kurnaz's file and for relying instead on a brief, unsupported memo filed shortly before Kurnaz's hearing by an unidentified government official.

Kurnaz has been detained at Guantanamo Bay since at least January 2002.

According to the Defense Department, 558 tribunal reviews have been held.  In the 539 decisions made so far, 506 detainees have been found to be enemy combatants and have been kept in prison. Thirty-three have been found not to be enemy combatants.  Of those, four have been released.


(3/23/05) ...

Right wingers repel conservatives

Kos notes that conservative blogger John Cole (not Juan Cole) gives the official RIP to the Goldwater conservative movement, as he sees his party completely hijacked by the "radical" "Big Government, Morality Police".

Sellout Dems upset at exposé

John Podesta, president of the progressive Center for American Progress (CAP), faced pointed questions from angry Democratic Congress members at last Thursday’s New Democrat Coalition (NDC) meeting about an email his organization sent to liberal activists and bloggers, The Hill reported.


In a March 9 email, David Sirota, a fellow at CAP, accused 16 pro-business Democrats of supporting bankruptcy-reform legislation because they received political contributions from the commercial banks and credit-card companies that stand to benefit if the legislation becomes law.

The email coursed through the blogosphere and generated angry phone calls from liberal activists to the offices of the 16 centrist Democrats. Sirota, a former minority spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, criticized 16 of the 20 Democrats who wrote Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) March 7 urging him to bring bankruptcy reform to the House floor.

Sirota noted that the 16 Democrats had received substantial contributions from banks and credit-card companies.


Nearly every lawmaker who arrived at Thursday’s meeting with Podesta, former President Clinton’s last chief of staff, voiced concern about the Sirota broadside, calling it overtly personal and unhelpful to the two organizations’ shared goal of helping the Democratic Party grow.

But it sounds like Podesta didn't knuckle under.


Some participants said they were looking for more contrition than they received from Podesta and wanted assurances that his organization would abstain from attacking centrist Democrats for their pro-business stances. ...

Good for Sirota and Podesta and shame on the spineless "New Dems." For the record, these are the Democrats whom Sirota ID'd as taking the money and signing the letter:

Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher, $20,500 from commercial banks;
Rep. Adam Smith, $18,000 from commercial banks;
Rep. Ron Kind, $24,300 from commercial banks;
Rep. Artur Davis, $68,999 from commercial banks;
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, $24,200 from commercial banks, $17,500 from finance/credit card companies;
Rep. Dennis Moore, $62,500 from commercial banks, $33,000 from finance/credit card companies;
Rep. Mike McIntyre, $18,500 from commercial banks;
Rep. Joe Crowley, $63,700 from commercial banks, $34,500 from finance/credit card companies;
Rep. Steve Israel, $44,229 from commercial banks;
Rep. David Wu, $46,050 from commercial banks;
Rep. Darlene Hooley, $54,500 from commercial banks, $27,750 from finance/credit card companies;
Rep. Melissa Bean, $21,500 from commercial banks;
Rep. Jim Davis, $17,250 from commercial banks;
Rep. Harold E. Ford, Jr., $87,130 from commercial banks, $30,000 from finance/credit card companies;
Rep. Ed Case, $12,650 from commercial banks;
Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, $26,250 from commercial banks. Source: Center for Responsive Politics,

Credit card/banking industry contributions were not among the top contributors to four other Congress members, Inslee, Berley, Larson and Herseth, though they also signed the letter.

If the poor dears don't want to be criticized for whoring out their vote to the bankers and credit card execs, they shouldn't sell out their constituents. As the old saying goes at the Texas Legislature: "If you can't take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women and vote against 'em anyway, you don't belong in the Legislature."

Respect Life

This Modern World weighs in on the Terri Schiavo debate as President Bush talks about the benefits of erring "on the side of life." Tom Tomorrow produces the most chilling and (depending on your sense of humor) darkly funny legal quote of the year. A Texas court dismissed a complaint against a lawyer who slept through a death penalty case with the comment that the courts aren't "obligated to either constantly monitor trial counsel's wakefulness or endeavor to wake counsel should he fall asleep."


Tough being a NeoCon

Russell Jacoby responds in The Nation to Republican bellyaching that conservatives are under-represented on college campuses and that students espousing conservative views are marginalized.

The American Propect’s Matthew Yglesias points out that the March 17 vote to “save Medicaid from proposed cuts” is yet another indication that the "conservative Conservative" is a rare and elusive breed these days. Read his thoughts on the absence of small government proponents.

Two good articles in the Christian Science Monitor:
The first deals with the “Restoration of Freedom of Information Act,” a bill aimed at reclaiming some of the rights we threw away in post-9/11 security hysteria.
The bill was introduced Tuesday, March 15, by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

The second has to do with scientists who, accepting global warming as inevitable, are trying to figure out how best to deal with it. Invest in swim trunks and read the piece.


Arctic Refuge Plan B

The Senate approved drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 51-49. But the fight isn't over.

Lorax writes at DailyKos: "It is not time to give up. This battle can still be won. We must take the following steps immediately."


Focus on defeating the entire Senate budget. This is a distinct possibility, if we can cobble together a coalition of Arctic Wildlife Refuge drilling opponents and enough fiscally conservative Republicans to oppose this bloated, deficit-expanding budget. It is very common for budgets to go unapproved. Dems can offer to support the budget if Arctic Wildlife Refuge drilling is removed.

The House budget does not include a provision for Arctic drilling. This is somewhat of an anomaly, as the House has been much more enthusiastic in the past about drilling the Arctic Wildlife Refuge than has the Senate. The budgets will have to undergo a reconciliation process, and maybe we can use this as another bottleneck to protect our national treasure.

Worst-case scenario--the budget passes both houses with a provision to open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge for drilling. Then we take it to the corporations. BP and ConocoPhillips, while not model corporate citizens, have renounced their desire to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. We can support them by only buying gas from them and their subsidiaries, while boycotting ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco, the satan-spawn corporations behind this administration and drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. We can hit them where it hurts. A majority of Americans oppose drilling the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and we can get many of them to boycott the soulless Houston motherfuckers who are behind this bullshit.

Boycott update : Call these two corporations and tell them you refuse to buy their gas until they promise not to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

ExxonMobil : (972) 444-1000

ChevronTexaco : (925) 842-1000

Call these two corporations and thank them for refusing to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Inform them that they will benefit from your boycott of ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco.

BP : (281) 366-5174 and (202) 457-6603

ConocoPhillips : (303) 649-4065

The death of credibility

Why spin the news when you can produce it? The New York Times examines the Bush administration's fake news machine, and the stations that air the ready-made propaganda.



The next battle: Judicial nominees and the New York Times editorial board discuss the next round in Bush v USA as the Senate prepares for a major showdown over the Democrats' use of the filibuster to block a handful of President Bush's judicial nominees, such as:

William Myers III, one of the seven filibustered nominees, has built a career as an anti-environmental extremist. He was a longtime lobbyist for the mining and cattle industries. Then, as the Interior Department's top lawyer, he put those industries' interests ahead of the public interest. In one
controversial legal opinion, he overturned a decision
that would have protected American Indian sacred
sites, clearing the way for a company to do extensive
mining in the area. Mr. Myers has been nominated to a
seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the
Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco. That court
plays a major role in determining the environmental
law that applies to the Western states.

Terrence Boyle, who has been nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, is also a troubling choice. He has an extraordinarily high reversal rate for a district
court judge. Many of the decisions that have been
criticized by higher courts wrongly rejected claims
involving civil rights, sex discrimination and
disability rights. Mr. Boyle's record is particularly
troubling because the court reversing him, the Fourth
Circuit, is perhaps the most hostile to civil rights
in the federal appellate system, and even it has
regularly found his rulings objectionable.

Thomas Griffith, who has been nominated to the
powerful Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has the unfortunate distinction of having practiced law in two jurisdictions without the
required licenses. While practicing law in Washington,
D.C., he failed to renew his license for three years.
Mr. Griffith blamed his law firm's staff for that omission, but the responsibility was his. When he
later practiced law in Utah as general counsel at
Brigham Young University, he never bothered to get a
Utah license.

The Bush administration is trying to wear down the Democrats with fights on every front.


Fight bankruptcy deform bill

As soon as Tuesday, notes, the Senate may vote on a "Republican bill that would deny traditional bankruptcy protection to America's Middle Class, and force those who get sick or lose a job into permanent debt slavery to credit card companies. The bill is a Republican payback to MBNA, America's largest credit card company - and the single largest contributor to the Republican Party. Even though credit card companies are making record profits through outrageous late fees and interest rate hikes, there is simply no limit to their greed." The bankruptcy deform bill will remove many of the long-standing protections for middle-class families who are forced into bankruptcy by ruinous health care costs or other unavoidable financial disasters, while allowing wealthy Americans to shield their assets during bankruptcy proceedings. has a form that will automatically send your message to your senators.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall, who has done a signal job bird-dogging the George W. Bush's GOP Social Security Privatization Bamboozlepalooza at, has set up a Special Bankruptcy Bill Edition with the assistance of Professor Elizabeth Warren of Harvard Law School and law students Michael Negron, Ryan Spear and Jason Spitalnick.

Draft Feingold blog

Join the groundswell for the Wisconsin progressive senator at


FEC plans blog crackdown

[3/6/05 UPDATE: From this report in the New York Times, it appears that, Commissioner Smith's spin notwithstanding, the Republican commissioners are pushing the blog regulations. See DailyKos and MyDD.]

The Federal Election Commission is beginning the process of extending campaign finance restrictions to the Internet.

Commissioner Bradley Smith warns thatbloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

In 2002, the FEC exempted the Internet from the McCain-Feingold law by a 4-2 vote, but US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last fall overturned that decision. "The commission's exclusion of Internet communications from the coordinated communications regulation severely undermines" the campaign finance law's purposes, Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

In an interview with CNet, Smith said he and the other two Republican commissioners wanted to appeal the Internet-related sections. But because they couldn't get the three Democrats to go along with them, what Smith describes as a "bizarre" regulatory process now is under way.

Our view: Attempts to regulate political speech on the Internet would be an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment. But someone would have to go to the time and expense of fighting it through the courts.

Democrats should not be pushing the regulation of the Internet. With Big Business/Republican control of the broadcast media, the Internet is the best hope for generating grassroots activism and bypassing the mainstream media.

See more here.

This guy calls Brad Smith a liar who is just trying to cause trouble for the Democratic commissioners. Perhaps, but the Dems might want to clarify their position in favor of free speech, just to make sure.


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War is a racket

The Smedley Butler Society is dedicated to the memory of former Marine Corps Gen. Smedley Butler who declared in a 1933 speech that "War is a racket ... conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses ...


If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket ...

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

The Smedley Butler Society is promoting a Freedom from War amendment to the Constitution, based upon one Butler proposed 70 years ago. It would prohibit the removal of army, navy, air force, marine corps or coast guard units from the United States or its territories for any cause other than a direct attack or imminent threat on the United States by a foreign entity, or a United Nations-approved operation.


See our weblog archives:
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