Newsbusters genuflects for Limbaugh’s Smears

The fanatical Right blog NewsBusters was supposed to be the Republican message machine’s answer to Media Matters. Purportedly NB’s mission is to expose what these fringe Right hooligans see as bias and misinformation. In this post (Show After Show MSNBC Smears Limbaugh with ‘Phony Soldiers’ Distortion, Photo of Brent Baker. By Brent Baker | September 28, 2007 – 22:56 ET) about Rush Limbaugh and his “phony soldiers” remark shows that wing-nut media watchdog is a contradiction in terms. Brent Baker writes,

All day Friday, even after Rush Limbaugh corrected the misinformation, MSNBC promoted a story fed to them by the far-left Media Matters about how Rush Limbaugh, on Thursday, had called military personnel who served in Iraq and oppose the war “phony soldiers.” Limbaugh opened his noon EDT radio show on Friday by explaining how he was referring not to any real soldier but a phony one, notably Jesse MacBeth, who became a hero to the left when he recounted how his Army unit murdered innocent Iraqis. In fact, he hadn’t even completed basic training.

Sure Baker buys the idea that this was all genuine clarification and not Limbaugh covering his ass after hearing the fallout. This is the transcript of what Limbaugh said, Limbaugh: Service members who support U.S. withdrawal are “phony soldiers”

CALLER 2: And, you know, I’m one of the few that joined the Army to serve my country, I’m proud to say, not for the money or anything like that. What I would like to retort to is that, if we pull — what these people don’t understand is if we pull out of Iraq right now, which is about impossible because of all the stuff that’s over there, it’d take us at least a year to pull everything back out of Iraq, then Iraq itself would collapse, and we’d have to go right back over there within a year or so. And —

LIMBAUGH: There’s a lot more than that that they don’t understand. They can’t even — if — the next guy that calls here, I’m gonna ask him: Why should we pull — what is the imperative for pulling out? What’s in it for the United States to pull out? They can’t — I don’t think they have an answer for that other than, “Well, we just gotta bring the troops home.”

CALLER 2: Yeah, and, you know what —

LIMBAUGH: “Save the — keep the troops safe” or whatever. I — it’s not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.

CALLER 2: No, it’s not, and what’s really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.

CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they’re willing to sacrifice for their country.

LIMBAUGH: They joined to be in Iraq. They joined —

CALLER 2: A lot of them — the new kids, yeah.

LIMBAUGH: Well, you know where you’re going these days, the last four years, if you signed up. The odds are you’re going there or Afghanistan or somewhere.

CALLER 2: Exactly, sir.

“The phony soldiers” says Limbaugh and his caller echoed the same sentiment, but now Newsbusters and Limbaugh and his caller only had one guy who clearly has some psychological problems as who they meant. Most of us would have said something like there was one soldier, can’t remember his name who was against the war and it turned out he was a phony. Limbaugh’s been on radio for a couple decades at least. With that kind of experience there is no excuse for conflating one person with over one hundred thousand soldiers. As  Media Matters notes there have been more then a few soldiers and Marines that think the occupation of Iraq is a waste and abuse of America’s military for goals that are always ill defined and always seem to need another Freidman Unit to succeed, The War as We Saw It Buddhika Jayamaha is an Army specialist. Wesley D. Smith is a sergeant. Jeremy Roebuck is a sergeant. Omar Mora is a sergeant. Edward Sandmeier is a sergeant. Yance T. Gray is a staff sergeant. Jeremy A. Murphy is a staff sergeant.

The phony soldier remark isn’t some small slip on Limbaugh’s part. Smearing and impuning the patriotism of anyone that disagrees with the unhnged Right’s faire tale version of Iraq is guaranteed to become a target for RushBoating, Before MoveOn’s “General Betray Us,” there was Limbaugh’s “Senator Betrayus”

On the September 11 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called the advertisement “contemptible” and “indecent.” However, months earlier, on his radio show, he told his audience that he had a new name for Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE): “Senator Betrayus.” On the January 25 broadcast (subscription required) of his radio show, Limbaugh broke from his commentary on an interview of Vice President Dick Cheney on the January 24 edition of CNN’s The Situation Room to say: “By the way, we had a caller call, couldn’t stay on the air, got a new name for Senator Hagel in Nebraska, we got General Petraeus and we got Senator Betrayus, new name for Senator Hagel.” A day earlier, Hagel had sided with Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in voting to approve a nonbinding resolution declaring that Bush’s escalation in Iraq was against “the national interest.”

It doesn’t take much to make it onto the RushBoat hit list. Senator Hagel’s voting record is resolutely to the Right. The bill that Limbaugh and his callers became irate over was a toothless non-binding resolution. More political theatre then anything else. But much like Stalin, Limbaugh and his callers and Newsbusters will not tolerate the slightest deviance from the fringe Right position. When ABC played a tape of what Limbaugh said about Senator Hagel, Limbaugh replied,

“But note he doesn’t comment specifically on what I say. ‘Well, you know, Rush has to be somewhere, he can say whatever he wants,’ but didn’t dispute the substance of my point.”

Limbaugh calls the Senator a “Betrayus” and then that the Senator’s response replies that the Senator, a decorated veteran agrees. Maybe its all those drugs that Limbaugh took, his mental bubble and Newsbusters seem impenetrable to anything that resembles the truth. Limbaugh has more then his share of issues about his manliness and lack of military service, all things military brings out his insecurities still haunted by the anal cyst he used as an excuse not to serve in Vietnam. It really takes a lot of courage to sit in a little booth flinging insults on those who didn’t conjure up phony incapacities to avoid service, Audio: Limbaugh Calls Iraq Vet “Staff Puke,” Claims He Volunteered For War “To Pad [His] Resume”

Paul Hackett served in the 1st Marine Division in Ramadi and Fallujah during 2004 and 2005. When he returned home, Hackett was a vocal war critic and ended up running for Congress in a special election against Republican Jean Schmidt.

The Huffington Post obtained audio of Limbaugh smearing Hackett on his radio show in 2005. Limbaugh calls Hackett a “staff puke,” claims he went to Iraq “to pad [his] resume,” and attacks him as “a liberal hiding behind a military uniform.”

( the Right consistently considers America’s military as an extension of its ideology not as the nations protection against foreign threat)

Further proof that the fringe Righties like Limbaugh and Newsbusters don’t support the troops they support Bush disastrous counter productive policies and with a very few exceptions are too cowardly to actually have ever done any fighting themselves. How ironic that the toughest battles Limbaugh had to fight was staying out of Nam, avoiding prosecution of doctor shopping for oxycontin and keeping the alimony low from his three divorces.

Even with all the blogs and right-wing watch sites its near impossible to keep up with all the right-wing fables, half truths and distortions that are spewed forth every single day. Recently David Shuster at MSNBC spoiled Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) litany of mindless right-wing talking points about Iraq when low and behold she didn’t know the name of the last soldier killed in her district. The right-wingers decided that Shuster/MSNBC should be punished so they lied for Rep. Blackburn by spreading the rumor that the soldier mentioned wasn’t from her district ( think about it, if she would have known she could have corrected Shuster at the time, but she didn’t because why would a gung-ho bench warrior Republican want to be bothered with facts like that). based on the false information regurgitated without question from one end of the Winguttery to the other Shuster was forced to apologize. Odd sense Shuster was right in the first place. Republican Rules

Of course, as is usually the case with stuff like this, the conservative bloggers who objected to the question were wrong. It turns out the soldier was from Blackburn’s district.

Now will Rep. Blackburn and those pathological fabricators on the Right have the courage and character to issue corrections and apologize. Don’t hold your breath.

Gandhi in Burma

The protests in Burma are not getting enough support from the blogosphere. We tend to ignore black-and-white issues where there’s nothing clever to say. So let’s be boring: the junta are pigs, the protesting monks are right, and Aung San Suu Kyi is a hero.


“We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq”

I didn’t have time to post about this story from TPM earlier, Scoop for Spanish Daily: Transcript of Private 2003 Bush Talk Promising Iraq Invasion . I think Talking Points Memo ( Spain Opens the Books on Bush? ) scooped E&P – Transcript of Private 2003 Bush Talk Promising Iraq Invasion

Saddam Hussein is not being disarmed. We must take to him right now. We have shown an incredible degree of patience until now. They are left two weeks. In two weeks we will be militarily ready. I believe that we will obtain the second resolution…. We will be in Bagdad at the end of March. A 15% of possibilities that exist then Saddam Hussein is dead or has gone away…

So along with the British Bush was telling allies that the inspections were just part of a wave of propaganda, the Downing Street memo –

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

It is known that Bush was determined to start a war as far back as 1999. Bushed talked war in 1999

And, as a last resort, we must be willing to use military force. We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force. – From Bush speech, For Immediate Release,Office of the Press Secretary, March 8, 2003

To me non-binding means Bush will ignore it faster then he can put on his two thousand dollar cowboy boots, From NBC’s Ken Strickland

In a strong rebuff to the Bush Administration on Iraq, the Senate overwhelming approved a plan by Biden that essentially calls for breaking Iraq into three sections: Kurd, Sunni, and Shia. While the amendment is nonbinding, it’s the first measure to pass, (vote was 75-23,) that goes against the administration’s war strategy.

Symbolic acts can have a big impact in the world of politics. The Right excels at symbolism as much as it fails on substance. Most of the public will see this as just another little dance done to quell the worries of the fence sitters – that five percent of the population that wavers back and forth between supporting Bush’s cycle of failure in Iraq. A failure not do so much to great ideas poorly executed, but bad ideas that had no real chance of success to begin with. A cycle that most Republicans continue to support. Its understandable that non-binding is the only kind of resolution that righties like Brownback will sign up for, but I can’t think of an excuse for Democrats.

Kyl-Lieberman AMENDED Before Passage Though it passed with several changes including this new paragraph,

“Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated on September 16, 2007 that “I think that the administration believes at this point that continuing to try and deal with the Iranian threat, the Iranian challenge, through diplomatic and economic means is by the preferable approach. That is the one we are using. We always say all options are on the table, but clearly, the diplomatic and economic approach is the one that we are pursuing.”

It seems to be the Right’s view that Webb and company have crippled the Commander Guys ability to respond to terrorists. On the other hand many liberals seem to think he gives Bush enough rhetorical room to parse a semi-blessing on any military adventures that he sees fit to conduct in or against Iran. Bush pushed the original AUMF against those that attacked us on 9-11 as authority to do everything from torture to ignoring habeas corpus so there is no reason to believe that this resolution really made much of a difference one way or the other. Bush swears he was honest about Iraq and only started the occupation as a last resort. While a few of his supporters are honest enough to admit that Bush hedged the truth he was justified in doing so for the sake of the survival of western civilization no less. This resolution was just more hand shadow puppets and once again too many Democrats bought tickets to the show. So much for the old adage burn me once….

What Is Iraq Costing You?

The War in Iraq has cost about $453,000,000,000 (four hundred and fifty-three billion dollars) to date.

I live in Ulster County, New York. Our share of that is $372,000,000 (three hundred and seventy-two million dollars).

If you live in Los Angeles, your bill is $4,823,000,000 (four billion, eight hundred twenty-three million). Savannah, Georgia, $144,000,000. Little Rock, Arkansas, $339,000,000. That’s how much you’re putting in so far. It keeps ticking away at two billion dollars a week. If you live somewhere else and want to know how much it’s costing your city or county, go to

Before Bush’s deeply wise decision to make Iraq a U.S. territory for the next hundred years the population of Iraq was about 25 million. We could have just made an offer to the Iraqi people. Overthrow Saddam and start a peaceful government that is the ballpark of being a liberal democracy and we’ll give every citizen a hundred thousand dollars a years for the next five years. We would have come out a head financially and three thousand plus American soldiers and marines would still be alive.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent

I’m not going to wasre too much space for the brouhaha over Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad Gets Laughed At

He’s not being feared. He’s being laughed at. Imagine how the Iranian people feel seeing these clips (and they’re seeing them). Imagine how the rest of the Iranian government feels being made to look so foolish — and all for this jester’s dreams of personal aggrandizement. (video at link)

One commenter on Ezra’s post suggests that the speech might have worked for Ahmadinejad just the same way that Bush’s peculiar brand of dopish nationalism has worked for him. Of course there is always that possibility. Political leaders say things and their followers tend to put it through their mental filters. It explains why Bush has the full unquestioning support of that remaining 29%. Short of being caught on video tape kicking a puppy Bush can do no wrong as far as those dead end supporters are concerned. They are blind to Bush faults just as much as some Iranians are blind to their leaders faults. I caught Ahmadinejad’s appearance on C-Span and he is an assclown, the midle-east version of a neoconservative.

I am wondering why there haven’t been any protests outside Fox News for wanting to give Ahmadinejad a forum to express his views, Bill O’Reilly Invited Ahmadinejad To Appear On The Factor

Bill O’Reilly harshly criticized Columbia University for inviting Ahmadinejad to speak during his TPM last night, 9/24, calling Columbia and Lee Bollinger “hypocritical beyond belief”. He also called yesterday’s event a ” dog and pony show” and “revolting”. It turns out that the real hypocrite is Bill O’Reilly who admitted he invited Ahmadinejad to appear on The Factor.

No surprise here. It is the usual case of one set of rules for fringe conservatives and another for the rest of us. At least part of O’Reilly’s motives would be purely monetary. One can imagine the boost for O’Reilly who’s ratings have never really recovered from the falafel fantasies fiasco.

 Another Lieberman Amendment to Push Us Towards War with Iran?

The Kyl-Lieberman amendment would put the Senate on the record supporting the “use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq,” including military force, to “combat, contain, and roll back” Iran’s influence in Iraq. Such provocative language would be construed as support for war with Iran. It would also be construed as support for provocative actions that could act as a trigger for war.

By approving this dangerous amendment, the Senate would also be endorsing the aggressive step of designating part of Iran’s military a “terrorist organization.” The Washington Post reported in January that skeptics in the intelligence community, State Department and Defense Department worry this step “could push the growing conflict between Tehran and Washington into the center of a chaotic Iraq war.” The text of the Kyl-Lieberman amendment is here:

The Bush administration and its allies have kept up a steady drumbeat of unproven allegations that Iran is arming insurgents in Iraq. The sponsors of this amendment recite those allegations as if they were fact, ignoring the fact that they haven’t been substantiated, in order to establish them as “true by repetition.” But by stating that the goal is to combat Iran’s “influence” in Iraq, the sponsors of this amendment show what it’s really all about. Lieberman, like Bush, wants to put American lives at risk for the goal of constraining Iranian political influence in Iraq, a goal in which the overwhelming majority of Americans have no stake, certainly not a stake worth a single American life.

There are at least two obvious things wrong with the current round of Republican pundits beating the Iran war drums. One is why after being in Iraq for over four years the Iraq/Iran border hasn’t been sealed by American forces – after all wasn’t the “surge” about doing whatever it took to bring about more order and less violence. Then let’s say there are appreciable numbers of Iranian instigators in Iraq. We know from the recent National Intelligence Estimate that the largest number of foreign fighters are from Saudi Arabia ( Osama Bin Laden’s home country). Why is the Bush administration then holding the Iranian government accountable for the actions of a few of its citizens while ignoring same from Saudi Arabia. Its the roll out of the Iraq occupation all over again. The administration, the war bloggers and pundits emphasizing  their talking points while ignoring inconvenient mitigating facts.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Perfectly Still Autumn wallpaper

 Perfectly Still Autumn wallpaper

In the last episode of As Republican Values Turn Like a Worm the dashing hero Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) was soliciting services from prostitutes. So in an apparent attempt to get back into the good graces of his chrisianists supporters he’s earmarked $100,000 for a little group that is on a crusade against science and rationalism, Vitter earmarked federal money for creationist group

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties.

[  ]…The group’s tax-exempt status prohibits the Louisiana Family Forum from political activity, but Vitter has close ties to the group. Dan Richey, the group’s grass-roots coordinator, was paid $17,250 as a consultant in Vitter’s 2004 Senate race. Records also show that Vitter’s campaign employed Beryl Amedee, the education resource council chairwoman for the Louisiana Family Forum.

Mark Steyn uses misogyny, rumors, and xenophobia to smear Senator Clinton

Foaming at the mouth wing-nut Mark Steyn heads his newest column Bend over for Nurse Hillary (Saturday, September 22, 2007 syndicated to the Orange County Register) and includes this bit of irony in referring to Senator Clinton’s health-care proposal, “That’s a major surrender of freedom from the citizen to the state.” Steyn doesn’t offer a rebuttal to Clinton’s plan as much as take off on a flight of misogynistic rage. The title of the article itself is some unhinged venom meant to conjure up a mental image in right-wing readers that exploits their fear of intellectually gifted women , homosexuals and the any kind of social safety net. There are a multitudes of hypocrisies in Steyn’s screed. One, he glosses over the elephant in the room, the gargantuan government that Bush and conservatives built over the last six years. Taking freedom from the people and giving them to a authoritarian state? One supposes that Mark only remembers habeas corpus as some quaint old constitutional bedrock that had outlived its usefulness. Or Bush turning Medicare into a welfare program for drug companies. Or maybe Steyn didn’t hear about the House of Bush using the Department of Justice as part of a vote caging scheme for the RNC. Then there were those presidential signing statements with Bush acting on the bizarre premise that the executive branch is not bound by laws passed by Congress.
Who does Steyn identify as the uninsured?

Where are we now? 27 million? So who are they? Bud and Mabel and a vast mountain of emaciated husks of twisted limbs and shriveled skin covered in boils and pustules? No, it’s a rotating population: People who had health insurance but changed jobs, people who are between jobs, young guys who feel they’re fit and healthy and at this stage of their lives would rather put a monthly health-insurance tab towards buying a home or starting a business or blowing it on booze ‘n’ chicks.
That last category is the one to watch: Americans 18-34 account for 18 million of the army of the “uninsured.” Look, there’s a 22-year-old, and he doesn’t have health insurance! Oh, the horror and the shame! What an indictment of America!
Well, he doesn’t have life insurance, either, or homeowner’s insurance. He lives a life blessedly free of the tedious bet-hedging paperwork of middle age. He’s 22, and he thinks he’s immortal – and any day now Hillary will propose garnishing his wages for her new affordable mandatory life-insurance plan. ( Note: Steyn gives us a clue about his depth of research when he states Well, he doesn’t have life insurance, either, or home owner’s insurance – it is somewhere between difficult and impossible to get a mortgage without homeowners insurance. If you don’t buy it on your own your lender will force place insurance on your home, create an escrow account and make you pay for it with your monthly payments. Oh and they have to do that because of those dreaded government regulations)

Give Steyn and most right-wingers some statistics and its like giving a baby a steak to chew on. It’s not that complicated, Mark could have downloaded them himself and spared us the misogynist attacks against the Senator from New York and the straw man that would rather blow his money on booze ‘n’ chicks then have health insurance. From the Kaiser Family Foundation (pdf at link),

How Many are Uninsured? Depending on the reference period respondents are asked to recall, national survey estimates of the uninsured have ranged as widely as 20 to 80 million. At one end, different surveys report 20 and 35 million being uninsured over the course of a full year, while as many as 80 to 85 million have been uninsured for at least part of a two year period. However, when comparisons are drawn using the same reference period in the NHIS, MEPS, and CPS (assuming it is a point-in-time estimate), the differences in the number of the uninsured are relatively small. For example, in 2003 the total number of nonelderly uninsured at any “point-in-time” in the year ranged from 41.1 million to 46.0 million, depending on which of these three surveys is used. The percent of all the nonelderly who were uninsured ranged from 16.3% to 18.3% (Figure 1).

Across all three surveys, more than half of the nonelderly uninsured come from low-income families, ranging from 52% to 59% of the uninsured across the surveys (Figure 3). Those with low incomes (less than 200% of the poverty level; or $37,620 for a family of four in 2003) are less likely to have jobs that offer employer-sponsored coverage and are also less likely to be able to afford their share of the premium. Roughly a third of the nonelderly population comes from low-income families, but they are disproportionately represented among the uninsured because their chances of being uninsured are over three times greater than those with higher incomes.

Steyn does loves the unsupported assertion, the unhinged tirade. It is his assertion that people are walking around without health insurance because they want to. Is that information that was beamed into his head from the mother ship. We don’t know. He doesn’t supply any data to back up that claim. “So who are they? Bud and Mabel and a vast mountain of emaciated husks of twisted limbs and shriveled skin covered in boils and pustules?” writes Steyn. In the real world the way it works is on Tuesday you’re not an “emaciated husks of twisted limbs and shriveled skin covered in boils and pustules”, you feel pretty good, but on Wednesday you have severe chest pains and since you don’t have health insurance you go to the emergency room. They take an x-ray and find a cyst on your heart or a tumor on your lung. Here on planet earth that’s what insurance is for. If you don’t have insurance you tend not to go to the doctor and things like tumors are not caught early. Gaps in Health Insurance: An All-American Problem

while lack of insurance continues to be highest among families with incomes under $20,000, uninsured rates for moderate- and middle-income earners and their families are rising, putting their health and financial security at risk. The survey finds that most of these individuals reside in working families: Of the estimated 48 million American adults who spent any time uninsured in the past year, 67 percent were in families where at least one person was working full time.

[ ]…Most people who are uninsured are in working families. Of the estimated 48 million American adults who had any time uninsured in the past year, 67 percent were in families where at least one person was working full time.

[ ]… One-fifth (21%) of working-age adults, both insured and uninsured, currently have medical debt they are paying off over time and more than two of five (44%) of these individuals are carrying $2,000 or more in debt.
More than one-third (34%) of adults ages 19 to 64 either had medical bill problems in the past year or were paying off accrued medical debt. Problems include not being able to pay bills, being contacted by a collection agency about unpaid medical bills, or having to change way of life to pay bills.
Three of five (62%) of all adults with medical bills or debt problems said they or their family member were insured at the time the debt was incurred.
More than half (51%) of uninsured adults reported medical debt or bill problems. Of those, nearly half (49%) used up all their savings to pay their bills. Two of five were unable to pay for basic necessities like food, heat, or rent because of medical bills.

One of Steyn’s basic premises fails to hold up under even the most cursory examination. The uninsured in America are not lazy scofflaws, the perennially unemployed, or irresponsible scoundrels longing to drain the nation’s coffers. They’re your friends and neighbors, the working class – the people that clean your floors, serve your food, pour the concrete for your new side walk and ring up your purchase at the check-out.

Steyn never explains how if Clinton’s health-care proposals are such an affront to the capitalistic health-care industry why she is getting so much backing from health-care professionals. Many Americans companies are feeling the strain of providing health care insurance. In some cases it makes them less competitive then companies or U.S. owned facilities in other countries. For example large American companies like GM and Ford have been a little two faced about their health-care position. Seeking more government/private sector cooperation in providing health benefits in America while simultaneously backing single payer insurance in Canada. GMs Healthcare Double Standard

What a difference a border makes. General Motors executives say soaring health costs in their U.S. plants are forcing them to seek health benefits give-backs from unionized workers, yet they insist national healthcare is not an appropriate solution for America. As company spokeswoman Sherri Woodruff puts it, “GM thinks there has to be closer cooperation between the government and the private sector, but we don’t advocate a single-payer system for the U.S.”

Yet just across the Detroit River in Ontario, the company’s subsidiary—like the subsidiaries of Ford, DaimlerChrysler and other U.S. firms————strongly endorses Canada’s national health system.

“The Canadian plan has been a significant advantage for investing in Canada,” says GM Canada spokesman David Patterson…

Then there is Steyn’s exploitation of xenophobia – “It’s perfectly fine to employ legions of the undocumented from Mexico, but if you employ a fit 26-year-old American with no health insurance either you or he or both of you will be breaking the law?.” Illegal aliens would be getting free health-care at taxpayer expense? There is no proof that the Senator’s plan would have any such effect, but that doesn’t stop him from implying that it would. This is a little hot issue button that he pushes for the sake of the paranoid xenophobes that constitute his worshiping admirers. Steyn wouldn’t want to deal with that as a separate issue, that would be intellectually honest and honest arguments are something that Steyn avoids at all costs.

Some other rumor busting, NY Post claimed Thompson said Clinton health-care plan “would require Americans to provide proof of insurance in order to get a job”

The following day, as Media Matters also noted, a New York Post article contradicted itself on the issue of Clinton’s health-care plan. The September 19 article bore the headline “Hill Care-ried Away: Employees Must Prove Insurance” and reported that Clinton said “everyone eventually would have to prove they have health insurance when they apply for a job.” But in the next sentence, Post correspondent Geoff Earle quoted Clinton saying that “she could envision a day when ‘you have to show proof to your employer that you’re insured as a part of the job interview,’ ” [emphasis added], not that workers will “have to prove they have health insurance.”

Steyn also echoes the same erroneous mime in his screed, “And, if you don’t, it will be illegal for you to hold a job.”

updated 9-25-07

Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth

Charge: Desperate To Curry Favor With Bush, CBS Execs Tried Not To Run Abu Ghraib Story

The lawsuit adds elsewhere that CBS chief Sumner Redstone “considered it to be in his corporate interest to curry favor with the Bush administration.”

Again, some stuff about CBS’ foot-dragging has been known for years, but the details here are really key. If true, it’s pretty surprising that CBS, in apparent response to government pressure, allegedly tried to downplay its own scoop by airing it only once and not precede it with on-air promotion.

I wasn’t sure what to think of Mr Rather’s lawsuit. I’m still not sure. There was some evidence all along that suggests that the substance of the Killian documents was true. Now that it appears CBS and the corporate powers behind Rather’s railroading might be in the hot seat. Things could get interesting.

Recently we had this story where Congressman Moran simply questioned AIPAC’s influence in Washington and the knee jerk response from Republicans was that he was antisemitic. There is always a certain irony in Republican moaning about any kind of bias because ultimately they still carry an awful lot of baggage in the antisemetism department, International Jew Conspiracy. That would be courtesy Investor Business Daily and a right-wing blogger named Captain’s Quarters that tries to sell himself a moderate temperate conservative. And prime rib is the same thing as baloney.

There are many ways to kill something. One is to talk it to death, That MoveOn Ad

The whole fracas of Petraeus, Crocker, MoveOn, etc. has had, to a good first approximation, no impact whatsoever on anything of any significance. Bush continues to be stubborn. Republicans continue to back Bush. The war continues to go poorly and continues to be unpopular. There was nothing else that ever could have happened. A bunch of editors and politicians talked themselves into believing that this September showdown was crucially significant, but they were all wrong and their theory never made any sense.

Any one mad at MoveOn or Democrats for the ad is just using up some energy that could be constructively used on another issue. Did those who are so upset on the Democratic side think that ad made the slightest bit of difference in what Petraeus would say or his level of honesty. Bush and Republicans using fear, the troops and some perversion of patriotism for political cover is SOP. Glued to Our Seats in the Theater of WarTall Tales from the Annals of the Bush Administration

Part of the answer is revealed in the most astounding polling figure of recent weeks. A New York Times poll asked, “Who do you trust the most with successfully resolving the war in Iraq?” In response, only 5% of those polled gave the nod to the Bush administration, just 21% to Congress, but fully 68% — more than two out of three — plunked for “the military.”

Once again, the top-rated show of the season is evidently that all-time favorite, “The Military Saves the Day,” a sequel to the smash hit of the past several seasons, “Support Our Troops.” No wonder the White House brought its hero and surge commander, General David Petraeus, on stage for the final scene in this act of a seemingly unending drama. No wonder Bush used the general as cover, not only for continuing the war, but for making his own shadowy compromises in his September 13 address to the nation (which, by the way, drew a far smaller audience than his last major speech introducing his surge plan, or “new way forward,” on Jan. 10). “General Petraeus recommends that in December, we begin transitioning to the next phase of our strategy,” the President said. “Our troops will focus on a more limited set of tasks.” It was as if, all of a sudden, the newly four-starred general, and not the President, were now the commander-in-chief.

This actually isn’t the first time Bush has put on a little sock puppet show using a military face. Remember Colin Powell’s slide show for Congress that lead up to the occupation of Iraq. Like many people I respected General Powell enough to listen even if we were on different political sides. The same is true of many Americans and General Patraeus. The American people know they have an arrogant inept frat boy in the Whitehouse, even most Republicans realize that even if they don’t admit it publicly. That’s what makes Patraeus’s recent performance all the more disappointing. The American people were looking for someone to find them a dignified way out of the Iraq. The polls haven’t changed, everybody still thinks we’re stuck in Iraq without a real plan and even a great plan at this point can’t bring back all the people that have died for Republican lies..

Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth. ~ Lillian Hellman

World Map wallpaper circa 1690

World map circa 1690 wallpaper. Done by cartographer Vincenzo Coronelli (August 16, 1650 – December 9, 1718)

Subverting Majority Rule

The Republican obstruction campaign continues. Yesterday, the Republican minority in the Senate filibustered and blocked two measures that had majority support in the House, and bipartisan majority support in the Senate. Republicans continue to filibuster at a pace three times anything ever seen before, in a systematic effort to block popular reforms.

Fifty-six Senators, including six Republicans, supported the resolution offered by Sen. James Webb, D-Va., and Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to guarantee the soldiers fighting in Iraq adequate home rotations. This sensible bill – vital to the mental health and readiness of the soldiers on the front line – was blocked because the remaining Republican senators lined up with their leadership to filibuster it.

Similarly, 56 Senators, including six Republicans, supported the legislation introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Arlen Spector, R-Pa., to restore the fundamental right of court review for those detained under suspicion of terrorism. Once more the will of the bipartisan majority was subverted by the filibuster strategy of a partisan minority.

Republicans are filibustering so many bills that the press has begun to cover this extreme tactic as business as usual.

Remember Republicans whining just a couple years ago that the filibuster was terrible, an obstructionist dirty tactic that only those underhanded Democrats would use to deny the will of the majority and they would use the now infamous “nuclear option” to end Democratic filibusters.

Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS): “[Filibustering] is wrong. It’s not supportable under the Constitution. And if they insist on persisting with these filibusters, I’m perfectly prepared to blow the place up.”

In recent weeks, Frist has been relentlessly preaching about the evils of judicial filibusters. Speaking to the Federalist Society on November 12, Frist said filibustering judicial nominees is “radical. It is dangerous and it must be overcome.” [1] Frist called judicial filibusters “nothing less than a formula for tyranny by the minority.” When Bill Clinton was President, however, Frist engaged in the same behavior he is now condemning.

A new synonym for situational ethics – Republican.

Often far away there I thought of these two, guarding the door of Darkness, knitting black wool

From an interview that Matt Stoller did with General Wesley Clark Wes Clark Interview, Part One: The Petraeus Ad

Wes Clark: He’s had to hide behind Petraeus. Petraeus is being taken advantage of. In the military you have to be loyal to the chain of command. You have to. And Petraeus knows that if Congress pulls the forces out it will be by his definition a defeat in Iraq and so naturally he’s trying to tell you why he needs those forces and why those forces should be there and that’s no more than what’s to be expected by someone in that position. He’s like the quarterback on the football team, you don’t like the plays that are being called go to the playcaller.

Anyone that has a boss and the time arises as it surely will that you disagree with your boss can relate this this problem, but Clark leaves out an important aspect of Petraeus’s testimony. He came to that testimony with an agenda, How much credence should Gen. Petraeus’ reports be given?

In general, military commanders do not typically pronounce their own strategies to have failed; quite the opposite. The need for skepticism here is particularly acute given that there are plenty of Generals with equally impressive military pedigrees who disagree vigorously with Petraeus. War supporters — who are attempting now to make criticisms of Petraeus off-limits — long disputed the claims and views of Generals Casey and Abaziad, often quite vigorously, even insultingly. The statements about war from military commanders ought to be subjected to every bit as much scrutiny and skepticism as anyone else’s.

Glenn also quotes extensively from an interview G.P. did with war cheerleader Hugh Hewitt. Why did the General do the interview with Hewitt instead of Bill Moyers or Walter Pincus. Because G.P. knew that his views would go unchallenged. Glenn also notes the nice slide presentation that Petraeus did at the St. Regis Hotel which showed the audience a carefully filtered view of what life was like in Baghdad. Here is where General Clark gets it exactly right,

Wes Clark: Moveon’s an organization, and when it does that it distracts from the dialogue that the Senator’s trying to have. Frankly, I think the better course of action is to bring out all the statistics and challenge Petraeus directly to explain how he can say that in the face of all these statistics. Did we do that? Did Moveon do that? Did they lay out the statistics and say ‘Petraeus says this, here’s the other fact he doesn’t tell you, General Petraeus come back to us and explain to us.

Matt Stoller: Absolutely they did that. That’s what the ad was, was there anything in the ad that was factually inaccurate?

Wes Clark: What instead came out was the play on his name, and that’s all that came out. And that was the mistake. If it was a serious ad, did it ask those serious questions, no one could have objected to it.

In that sense the MoveOn ad was self defeating because as General Clark said all that everyone is talking about is not the substance of the ad, the facts in the ad or the facts that Democrats pointed out in Petraeus’s testimony, but the word play with the General’s name. Iraq is still in the middle of a low level civil war; our troops are dying, Iraqis are dying or becoming refugees, yet the U.S. is taking time to have silly votes over this ad. Craven Republicans across the country are giving themselves a big pat on the back for distracting attention away the the substance of the issue – along with corrption, ineptitude something they excel at. Why wasn’t this discussed on the floor of the U.S. Senate today, New Military Numbers Contradict Petraeus on Surge’s Progress

According to the MNC-I data there has been no improvement since either December (The numbers Petraeus and the Administration often cite) or February (when the surge actually began). Why wasn’t Congress shown these numbers in the presentation by General Petraeus? Why only the good news numbers? Why the lack of clarity on Petraeus’s sourcing? Especially since he himself acknowledged that the best numbers come from the MNC-I database.

In terms of actual anomalies

Anomaly A: Somehow in December, the month that is always cited by the Pentagon and the Administration, Petraeus’s Iraqi dead is actually greater than the MNC-I Iraqi Dead + Wounded. That makes absolutely no sense. You can’t have more dead than dead and wounded combined.

Anomaly B: In the months after the surge begins Petraeus’s Iraqi dead numbers are significantly lower than the dead + wounded numbers in the Pentagon report. This is inconsistent with the entire history of the previous year, where the numbers track closely. The only explanation would be a dramatic increase in the wounded to dead ratio. Perhaps there were more car bombings that injured people but didn’t kill them, as opposed to close range executions where victims do not survive. Or maybe there is another explanation. Still it seems inconsistent to see this major split just as the surge begins.

Direct links for anyone that wants to comb through the numbers themselves (pdf format), Pentagon’s civilian-casualty numbers  versus General David Petraeus numbers
Again most people can understand an employee (General Petraeus) putting some spin on his boss’s (Bush) agenda, but Petraeus went beyond that. By way of his making the rounds of various media venues and his report to Congress he sold a picture of Iraq that was and remains severely and dangerously distorted. The Age of Irresponsibility

Even today, despite the crucial role of Blackwater and other private security firms—who employ up to 30,000 operatives in keeping the civilian side of the U.S. occupation going—Iraqis can do nothing if they are abused or killed by them. While many Blackwater operatives are brave and honorable—the company has lost some 30 of its employees in Iraq—many of these paramilitaries have long been known to be cowboys who act as if they are free to commit homicide as they please. And according to numerous Iraqi witnesses, they sometimes do.

Take the case of the Blackwater guard who got drunk at a Green Zone party last Christmas Eve and reportedly boasted to his friends that he was going to kill someone. According to both Iraqi and U.S. officials, he stumbled out and headed provocatively over to the “Little Venice” section, a lovely area of canals where Iraqi officials live. He had an argument with an Iraqi guard, then shot him once in the chest and three times in the back.

MoveOn should have gone for a little irony and labeled their ad Visit General Patraeus’s Fantasy Vacation Paradise, Sunny Iraq.

The Godfather of Alaska is apparently incapable of getting a clue, FBI taped Sen. Stevens’ calls in corruption probe

The Associated Press is reporting that the FBI secret recorded telephone calls between Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens(R) and a wealthy oil contractor as part of a public corruption sting that has nabbed several lawmakers. The AP attributes that to “two people close to the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way.”

AP writes that the contractor, Bill Allen, who is Stevens’ political patron, agreed to the taping last year after authorities confronted him with evidence he had bribed Alaska lawmakers. He pleaded guilty to bribery and is a key witness against Alaska legislators. He also has told prosecutors he paid his employees to renovate the senator’s house.

Ted is an optimist, he gets up every morning seeing each and every day as another opportunity for him and his conservative cronies to make up easy money as they ride the back of taxpayers. Like many Republicans he is most certainly a self made man, an island of meritocracy.

“Often far away there I thought of these two, guarding the door of Darkness, knitting black wool as for a warm pall, one introducing, introducing continuously to the unknown, the other scrutinizing the cheery and foolish faces with unconcerned old eyes. Ave! Old knitter of black wool. Morituri te salutant. Not many of those she looked at ever saw her again–not half, by a long way.” from The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Spy Glass and Compass wallpaper

Spy Glass and Compass wallpaper

Are Democrats Planning Still Worse FISA Capitulations?

Buried within an article in the New York Times this morning from James Risen is this passage, strongly suggesting that Congressional Democrats are ready, as always, to do what they are told:

Mr. McConnell argued on Tuesday that the expanded surveillance powers granted under the temporary measure should be made permanent. He also pushed for a provision that would grant legal immunity to the telecommunications companies that secretly cooperated with the N.S.A. on the warrantless program. Those companies, now facing lawsuits, have never been officially identified.

Democratic Congressional aides say they believe that a deal is likely to provide protection for the companies.

Granting retroactive immunity to telecom companies for past lawbreaking is so plainly unjustifiable, even dangerous, that it ought to require no real debate. That Congressional Democrats are even considering submitting to this demand, let alone that they are likely to do so, dispels any doubt about what they really are. First, retroactive immunity turns the “rule of law” into an even greater mockery than it has been for the last six years. The central premise in granting immunity is that telecom companies did nothing wrong — even if they violated the law — because they cooperated with warrantless spying at the behest of the President.

Another reason why Congress has as low a disapproval rating as President Bunnypants. It is not that Democrats have not accomplished anything, it is that they keep pandering to Bush on these fundamental issues of the rule of law. Glenn’s predictions are especially frustrating in that Democrats have finally started listening to voters on Iraq, Republicans decide to punish the troops for their failures

“In blocking this bipartisan bill, Republicans have once again demonstrated that they are more committed to protecting the President than protecting our troops. They have shown they will allow President Bush’s flawed war strategy to continue to strain our military rather than allow the availability of troops to dictate our operations. And they believe it is in our national security interest to push our brave troops and their families beyond their breaking point.

“Democrats disagree. We care deeply about rebuilding our badly overextended military and ensuring our troops have the time to properly train, prepare for and recover from battle. And Democrats remain committed to repaying in some small measure the sacrifices our brave troops are making every day.”

That was Senator Reid’s(D) comment on today’s defeat of the Webb bill to allow greater time between troop rotations to Iraq. It was right along party lines. With Senator Warner(R) from Virginia deciding to withdraw his support at the last minute. Bush wants to continue the Bush legacy of failure, the only thing he for which the alcoholic draft dodger has excelled his entire life. If it was a personal matter no one would care, but he seems to want to beat up the troops for his failures. Before he became president daddy served as Dubya’s cushion against suffering any of the consequences for Junior’s decisions, now its the U.S. military. This is another example of Murphy’s law, the tougher the guy talks almost always the more cowardly he is. Bluster is never a substitute for substance and courage. Republicans just had a lesson in that this past January, they’re about to have another lesson in 2008.

Getting Blackwater banned from Iraq is all part of a plot by Iran. We know that must be true because Matt Sludge said so and he linked to self-styled right-wing journalist Richard Miniter, More proof “the surge is working”: Right-wingers claim even the CIA is afraid to go outside without trigger-happy Blackwater . I try not to be too judgmental about personal matters, but this right-wing circle jerk is growing larger and more intense by the day, I’m afraid someone is going to go blind.

New Military Report Acknowledges Signs of Police State in Baghdad or how to spread Bush-style democracy.

Virtually ignored in last week’s national debate on the US military surge was a report by military experts recommending that the Iraqi police service be scrapped because of its brutal sectarian character. The scathing report stopped short of acknowledging that continuing US support for the Iraqi Security Forces is in violation of the 1997 Leahy Amendment barring assistance to known human rights violators.