Monthly archives: July, 2007

Looking Twice at John Edwards

I admit I didn’t really consider John Edwards much when he ran for President the first time.  I thought he was making his move too soon.  As John Kerry’s running mate, however, he impressed me far more than did Kerry.  Edwards may be well off, but he didn’t flaunt it during the campaign.  He actually appeared, and appears now, to be down to earth.

Enter Elizabeth Edwards.

Again, first time around, I didn’t notice her that much at all.  I was too preoccupied defending Kerry from the absurdly weird Swift Boat people.  But Elizabeth is someone I want to get to know more.

From our friends at

At the end of June she won the nation’s attention — and the gratitude of many — for confronting right-wing provocateur Ann Coulter live on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” after Coulter called John Edwards a “faggot” at a conservative conference in March, and joked in June about wishing he’d be assassinated. Since then she has been in San Francisco twice campaigning for gay rights, keynoting before the annual gay pride march in June and addressing the Human Rights Campaign’s awards dinner on July 14. And where her husband, like the other leading Democrats in the presidential race, supports civil unions but balks at gay marriage, Elizabeth Edwards has come out behind full marriage rights.

Wow.  And she understands her husband for only making it up to civil unions:

Well, I think it’s a struggle for him, having grown up in a Southern Baptist church where it was pounded into him. I was raised a Methodist in military churches. Poverty was talked about; I don’t remember homosexuality ever being mentioned. And I don’t think that Christians who aren’t engaged in a political campaign ever talk about it. They talk about poverty and other issues talked about in the Bible. But in churches, in political season, there’s plenty of ginning up this issue.

The rest of the interview is equally spectacular.  Asked if she expected criticism for working on John’s campaign in spite of her health, her answer is brilliant:

I had no idea I’d get that kind of criticism. But you know, people who’ve been in this situation haven’t criticized me. And the people who haven’t — I just hope they never go through it. And it got worse after [the] Coulter [incident]. Well, we were talking about home-schooling the kids anyway, before I got sick. John’s gone all the time, I’m gone a lot, and it was going to be the only way for us to be together as a family.

But you know, after all I’ve been through, I realize: You don’t know exactly what life lessons you taught your kids until much later. You don’t. And maybe the most important life lesson for them is for me to say, When bad things happen, you don’t let them take you down. If I hadn’t continued to campaign, I’d be sending the opposite message: When bad things happen, go hide. Do I know with absolute certainty we’re doing the right thing? I don’t. Having been through what I’ve been through, I hope people trust I wouldn’t risk my relationship with my children. I think this is the right choice.

Mrs. Edwards, if you come across this, my hat is off to you.  I’ll be paying more attention to John now.  Much more.

White House Cites Executive Privilege To Withhold Tillman Documents

U.S. Army Corporal Patrick Tillman

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairman of the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a statement Friday indicating the White House was asserting executive privilege once again to withhold documents pertaining to communications between the White House and the Defense Department regarding the death of U.S. Army Corporal Patrick Tillman by “friendly fire” in 2004:

Today Chairman Waxman and Ranking Minority Member Davis sent a letter to the White House objecting to the withholding of documents related to the death of U.S. Army Corporal Patrick Tillman, who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. As a result of deficient responses from both the White House and Defense Department, the Committee also announced an August 1 hearing to examine what senior Defense Department officials knew about Corporal Tillman’s death.

Following the Committee’s April 24, 2007, hearing on the Tillman fratricide, the Committee wrote to White House Counsel Fred Fielding seeking “all documents received or generated by any official in the Executive Office of the President” relating to Corporal Tillman’s death. The White House Counsel’s office responded that it would not provide the Committee with documents that “implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests” and produced only two communications with the officials in the Defense Department, one of which was a package of news clippings. The response of the Defense Department to the Committee’s inquiry was also deficient.

In response to the deficiencies in the White House and Defense Department productions, Chairman Waxman and Ranking Member Davis today sent letters to White House Counsel Fred Fielding and Defense Secretary Robert Gates requesting complete document production by July 25, 2007. Chairman Waxman also wrote the Republican National Committee to request communications about Corporal Tillman’s death by White House officials using e-mail accounts controlled by the RNC.

In addition, the Oversight Committee announced that a hearing will be held on Wednesday, August 1, 2007, to investigate what senior officials at the Defense Department knew about Corporal Tillman’s death.

Questions surfaced after Tillman’s death when the public learned the Army withheld the truth:

The first Army investigator who looked into the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman in Afghanistan last year found within days that he was killed by his fellow Rangers in an act of “gross negligence,” but Army officials decided not to inform Tillman’s family or the public until weeks after a nationally televised memorial service.

We Love You As Long As You Are Christian

Harry Reid finally went too far. Watch this video. Truly unbelievable.At least that’s what the great granfalloon, the Religious Right, is saying.Imagine disrupting a chaplain leading an assembly in prayer.That’s exactly what happened Thursday in the United States Senate. CNN has the report:

Three people were arrested in the Senate visitor’s gallery Thursday for disrupting the chamber’s morning prayer, led for the first time by a Hindu clergyman.

As Rajan Zed, director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple in Nevada, began to lead the brief prayer, two women and one man shouted, “This is an abomination,” according to the Associated Press.

Capitol Police Sergeant Kimberly Schneider tells CNN that the three were arrested in the Senate visitors’ gallery for “disruption of Congress.”

The Great Granfalloon, the American Family Association, actually issued an Action Alert when they found out about the possibility of a Hindu leading prayer for the Senate:

Send an email to your senator now, expressing your disappointment in the Senate decision to invite a Hindu to open the session with prayer.

On Thursday, a Hindu chaplain from Reno, Nevada, by the name of Rajan Zed is scheduled to deliver the opening prayer in the U.S. Senate. Zed tells the Las Vegas Sun that in his prayer he will likely include references to ancient Hindu scriptures, including Rig Veda, Upanishards, and Bhagavard-Gita. Historians believe it will be the first Hindu prayer ever read at the Senate since it was formed in 1789.

WallBuilders president David Barton is questioning why the U.S. government is seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god. Barton points out that since Hindus worship multiple gods, the prayer will be completely outside the American paradigm, flying in the face of the American motto “One Nation Under God.”

Here’s the great theological statement you were advised to pass along to your United States Senator:

“In Hindu, you have not one God, but many, many, many, many, many gods,” the Christian historian explains. “And certainly that was never in the minds of those who did the Constitution, did the Declaration [of Independence] when they talked about Creator — that’s not one that fits here because we don’t know which creator we’re talking about within the Hindu religion.”

There are many things wrong with this statement — not the least of which is that the Declaration of Independence is not the United States Constitution! Have these people even read the Declaration of Independence? It’s not about God at all. A Creator is mentioned in the beginning, and a Supreme Judge near the end. That’s it. Other than that, it’s one of the most inspiring pieces of literature any country has ever produced. Among the great crimes King George was accused of:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

Ouch. Depriving us of the benefits of Trial by Jury. Sound familiar to anyone on the Right?

I’m with Vonnegut. I would like to see these clowns on the Right once, just once, quote the Sermon on the Mount. Why are they stuck on obscure passages from the Hebrew Scriptures, and they never quote the Christ they claim to love?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Why don’t we ever hear any of that?

Get with it on the Right: Jesus is a Liberal.

Bush and the CIA: Strangers In The Night

Does the President of the United States listen to anyone in the Intelligence Community? I know he doesn’t read newspapers. He doesn’t “get” news, prefers to know things his own way. But how can he be so far removed from knowing what the CIA knows?

Bob Woodward writes in a July 12 article for The Washington Post:

Early on the morning of Nov. 13, 2006, members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group gathered around a dark wooden conference table in the windowless Roosevelt Room of the White House.

For more than an hour, they listened to President Bush give what one panel member called a “Churchillian” vision of “victory” in Iraq and defend the country’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. “A constitutional order is emerging,” he said.

Okay. That really sounds great. A new world order is on the horizon. Soon, and very soon, it will all be over. Peace is but a heartbeat away.

And then the CIA reported to the Iraq Study Group, in the same room, the same day, just a short time later:

Two hours later, around the same conference table, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden painted a starkly different picture for members of the study group. Hayden said “the inability of the government to govern seems irreversible,” adding that he could not “point to any milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around,” according to written records of his briefing and the recollections of six participants.

“The government is unable to govern,” Hayden concluded. “We have spent a lot of energy and treasure creating a government that is balanced, and it cannot function.”

Okay. So, that really sounds bad. And who was the skinny guy sitting in the same room just a few hours before, and what Magic 8 Ball was he using to divine the future? Did Director Hayden ever talk to him? Because, gee, his story sounded a heck of a lot nicer. The CIA is always being so, well, realistic.

And Condoleeza Rice played along too:

Asked by former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a member of the study group, if she was aware of the CIA’s grim evaluation of Iraq, Rice replied, “We are aware of the dark assessment,” but quickly added: “It is not without hope.”

No, because, like, losing hope would be bad, and we can’t do that. But the spin has already begun. You see, Hayden didn’t really say all that. The Iraq Study Group just misunderestimated what Hayden said.


But O’Connor heard the scary man say the bad things too:

O’Connor, a Republican, also confirmed Hayden’s assessment. She said she didn’t agree with his conclusion that it was irreversible, but she said she was pessimistic.

“It is a dire situation,” she said. “I don’t think it has gotten any better. It just breaks your heart. . . . Iraqi people are dying, American soldiers are dying. So far it does not seem we have achieved any kind of security there.”

Yes, it breaks your heart.  And it should. How many different ways can we spin disaster?

Progress in Iraq, Sort of

The New York Times reports in a July 12 article President Bush will declare progress in Iraq on some benchmarks:

The Bush administration will assert in the next few days that progress of the Iraq security plan has been satisfactory on nearly half of the 18 benchmarks set by Congress, according to several administration officials.

But it will qualify some verdicts by saying that even when the political performance of the Iraqi government has been unsatisfactory, it is too early to make final judgments, they said.

The administration’s decision to qualify many of the political benchmarks will enable it to present a more optimistic assessment than if it had provided the pass-fail judgment sought by Congress.

If anyone can figure out exactly how the President is able to declare progress, please let me know.  This article is making my head spin.

Is There A Doctor In the White House?

Many times have I read The Bad Astronomer rant about the anti-science forces in the current administration. We’ve heard complaints from officials at NASA, we read about the “alternative explanations” for the formation of the Grand Canyon, on sale at Grand Canyon National Park book stores. And now we hear from former United States Surgeons General:

Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.

The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.

Dr. Carmona spoke at length with Judy Woodruff on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer. Attempts to stifle science for political ends are not new:

JUDY WOODRUFF: At this hearing today, it was not only you, but it was your Democratic and your predecessors of both Democratic and Republican administrations who spoke of conflicts with the administration. But you said your experience was worse under this administration. What did you mean?

DR. RICHARD CARMONA: Well, let me put it in context. It really wasn’t me. It was my predecessors who, after I was in office a few months, went to them for counsel, for mentoring, and mentioned to them the struggle I was having. And they recounted to me all the struggles that they had and said that is the way the surgeon general position has been for some time, but what we see is that you have it worse than any of us. And this is coming from several surgeon generals who preceded me.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what were they basing that on? What was happening to you?

DR. RICHARD CARMONA: Their observations that the surgeon general was not allowed to speak out on health issues when needed, based on the best science, to deliver the best science, that often policy or spokespersons in government would be talking about given issues without appropriate scientific due diligence. And they were very concerned about that and had called me a number of times when I was in office.

But Carmona’s predecessors agree that this suppression is worst ever under King George the Puerile:

JUDY WOODRUFF: And was it worse under this administration or not?

DR. RICHARD CARMONA: Well, again, my reference point is solely this administration. It is my colleagues who came to me, several surgeon generals, Loop, Satcher, Novello, Julius Richmond, going back to the ’70s, who all said, “We had to fight battles, but nobody has had it as bad in this partisan environment as Surgeon General Carmona.”

Is there a doctor in the White House – anywhere?

“God Forgave Me, So Piss Off…”

Vittner Gay Flag

Well, that’s what I heard in Senator David Vitter’s statement.

Did you catch Sen. David Vittner’s profound apology? Did you feel his remorse at getting caught? He jumped right to the chase. Amazing! Ted Haggard took a few days, went away for a miracle cure for his indiscretions. But Vitter informs us he talked to the Big Guy a long time ago. It’s over. CNN reports:

“This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible,” Vitter said in a statement given to reporters Monday night. “Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and from my wife in confession and marriage counseling.”

So, let’s take a step back. Some restraint is in order here. It’s so easy to just mock these guys when they are exposed for who they really are — when they tell us outright who they really are, and have been, for a long, long time. Let’s just stick to the facts. That’s all we really need here. The Moral Majority, that great granfalloon on the right, defender of The Ten Commandments, God’s voice on earth, has lost yet another apostle.

You told us who you are, Senator. You told us who you have been for a long, long time. You allegedly took calls from alleged D.C. madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey, according to news reports. All the while you were fighting the Left.

I didn’t hear remorse, Senator. I would have heard remorse if you had spent the past several years as champion to the poor, showing some understanding for the rest of humanity. But you didn’t.

I heard arrogance. I heard you telling all of us to piss off. “I got caught. Already settled with God. Go away. Piss off.”

How does it feel to be brought down by Hustler?

Here we go: “The Haves” Want to Have More


Do you remember him quipping about, “The Have Mores?” It was in a Michael Moore film.

By now we’ve all read the headlines: Bush Denies Congress Access to Former Aides. The Democrats are in an uproar — and I hope they’re joined by more Republicans. “Truth buried will at some point rise,” we wrote the other day. The Wasington Post reports:

President Bush’s move yesterday to block congressional testimony by two former aides provoked immediate condemnations from Democratic lawmakers and escalated a confrontation between the White House and Capitol Hill over the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys.

White House counsel Fred F. Fielding informed lawmakers in a letter yesterday that Bush was asserting executive privilege for the second time in two weeks regarding requested testimony by former counsel Harriet E. Miers and former political director Sara M. Taylor about the prosecutor firings.

Executive privilege. Well, the president is just wrong:

Mark J. Rozell, a George Mason University political scientist and author of “Executive Privilege,” said the Bush administration’s claim in this case “goes way beyond the proper scope of executive privilege” because it is not limited to specific discussions and amounts to “a blanket prohibition on former aides discussing anything at all.”

Rozell and other legal experts also noted that the White House has little real power to prohibit Miers or Taylor from testifying.

There’s too much smoke here. There must be a fire, somewhere, burning hot. We have a right to know.

New Poll: Majority of Americans Say Impeach Cheney

Downward graph

A new poll released yesterday from American Research Group, Inc. shows 54% of all Americans favor the impeachment of Vice President Cheney, and only 40% oppose such a measure. Not surprisingly, 76% of all Democrats favor such action, while only 17% of those who identify themselves as Republican are in support.

The numbers are statistically even for the number of Americans who favor impeachment of the President, with 45% in favor and 46% opposed.

The numbers were more similar between party lines regarding a full pardon of Mr. Libby: 7% of Democrats favor a pardon, and 23% Republicans are in favor. 82% Democrats oppose a pardon, and a full 70% of Republicans oppose a presidential pardon. Republicans were split on Bush commuting Libby’s sentence: 50% supportive, 47% opposed.

The last poll measuring the president’s overall job approval rating showed only 27% approve of the job the president is doing, and 67% oppose.

Olbermann: Bush, Cheney should resign

Olbermann at his best.

Watch it. Now.