July 31, 2007
Manu Raju, The Hill, July 31, 2007
Ever since Connecticut Democrats refused to back him for a fourth term in Congress, Joe Lieberman has been burnishing his independent credentials in the narrowly divided Senate while becoming increasingly critical of the Democratic Party on the war in Iraq.
Lieberman, the Democrats’ 2000 vice presidential nominee, insists he is not actively considering joining the Republican Party. But he is keeping that possibility wide open as his disenchantment grows with Democratic leaders. The main sticking points are their attempts to end the war in Iraq and their hesitation to take a harder line against Iran.
“I think either [Democrats] are, in my opinion, respectfully, naïve in thinking we can somehow defeat this enemy with talk, or they’re simply hesitant to use American power, including military power,” Lieberman said in a wide-ranging interview with The Hill.
“There is a very strong group within the party that I think doesn’t take the threat of Islamist terrorism seriously enough.”
Lieberman says he is annoyed by the mudslinging on Capitol Hill and Democrats’ unwillingness to work with President Bush. But his critics say he has contributed to that polarization by his rhetoric and refusal to compel Bush to find a new way forward in Iraq.
As Lieberman sees it, however, the Democratic Party has slipped away from its “most important and successful times” of the middle of last century, where it was tough on Communism and progressive on domestic policy.
Lindsay Fortado, Bloomberg News, July 31, 2007
Lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis, the law firm that’s home to Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr and Bush administration official Jay Lefkowitz, have given more to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign than to all of the top Republican candidates combined.
Kirkland, based in Chicago, is one of several corporate law firms that traditionally backed Republicans where lawyers are turning to Democratic candidates. Lawyers say the change is largely due to disenchantment with the Republican Party’s social policies and the war in Iraq.
“The Iraq war has a very significant pull on people, but it’s not just limited to that,” said Kirk Radke, a New York partner at Kirkland who is fundraising for Clinton. “There’s the need for a better posture within the international community.”
Large U.S. firms such as Jones Day and Sidley Austin, which donated more to President George W. Bush in 2000 than to Democratic candidate Al Gore, are giving thousands more to Democratic hopefuls than Republicans. Top Wall Street investment banks and hedge funds are also giving more to Democrats.
Clinton, a New York senator, and Barack Obama, an Illinois senator, are benefiting the most from the largest law firms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, a nonprofit organization that tracks political contributions. Five of Clinton’s 10 largest donor groups are from law firms.
Michelle Malkin, July 31, 2007
I said it a few weeks ago: Republicans can’t tell the Dems to clean their House, if they won’t come clean about the GOP’s own dirtbags. Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is one of the biggest and dirtiest. Now, the feds have raided one of his homes. Via the Anchorage Daily News:
Federal law enforcement agents raided U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens’ Alaska home in Girdwood on Monday, hauling off undisclosed items from inside and taking extensive pictures and video. Officials wouldn’t say what they were looking for or what they found.
“All I can say is that agents from the FBI and IRS are currently conducting a search at that residence,” Dave Heller, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Anchorage office, said Monday.
Neighbors said agents showed up between 11 a.m. and noon, and a commercial locksmith was called to open the front door. The agents were still there at 8:30 p.m. Stevens, 83, has long been the most powerful political figure in Alaska, and a major force in Congress. A swarm of federal agents serving a search warrant at his home is unprecedented in Alaska politics, and represents the latest chapter in the corruption investigation that burst into view last August when agents raided the offices of state legislators, the oil field services company Veco and others.
The FBI and IRS are apparently trying to determine whether Stevens has received a hidden benefit stemming from his position in Congress:
Gary Kamiya, Salon, July 31, 2007
In the last few weeks, as the dreadful consequences of George W. Bush’s “war on terror” continue to unfold in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine, a disturbing thought is rising to the surface: There may be no way to clean up the mess he has made.
Ironically, this is the very argument that Bush and his supporters are now using to justify keeping U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely — or at least onto the next president’s watch. They insist that disaster looms, and that only the blood of American troops, infused into a slow-drip I.V., can keep Iraq and the entire region from dying. Bush understands that there only two things that can save his legacy: either victory, or a worst-case scenario in which all of his threats about the all-powerful Islamo-fascist menace come true. The frightening thing is that for Bush, there’s no difference between the two outcomes. For this president is at once a true believer who sees himself leading a great war against evil, and a shrewd politician who wants to escape the blame for his Iraq disaster. Hence his refusal to cut America’s losses — and the very real possibility that he might roll the war dice yet again, this time in Iran. If the world blows up as a result, that will just prove that he was right about the evil jihadists.
Most Americans now believe that Bush’s decision to invade Iraq was a terrible mistake. They see that it has turned out badly, and think that it has made us less safe. But there is another, less discussed reason why the war was an act of madness: War always has unforeseen consequences. Making war is like playing dice with God — using His dice. This is why war should always be a last resort. What’s stunning about the Iraq war is that its architects not only ignored this obvious truth, but also ignored the consequences that could have been, and were, foreseeable. To start an unprovoked war on false pretenses and pie-in-the-sky promises of a vast regional transformation, besides being unethical, is an act of almost cosmic folly. To put it in Christian terms, it is the cardinal sin — the sin of pride.
The Bush administration treated war as if it were a surgical instrument, which it could wield with precision and whose results could be charted in advance. Bush and his neocon brain trust were sure that they knew exactly what would happen after the invasion. They drew it up like a blueprint: Grateful Iraqis would place flowers in the barrels of U.S. guns. A strong central government would take power, and democracy would flourish. The people of Iraq’s neighboring states, Iran and Syria, would observe the vibrant new state and force their sclerotic regimes to reform, or they would rise up against them. The “culture of terrorism” would be ended, cut off at the source. The entire Arab-Muslim world, including Pakistan, would be transformed. The Palestinians would be beaten into submission. And there would be cheap oil for America.
July 30, 2007
Paul Krugman, The New York Times, July 30, 2007
When a child is enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (Schip), the positive results can be dramatic. For example, after asthmatic children are enrolled in Schip, the frequency of their attacks declines on average by 60 percent, and their likelihood of being hospitalized for the condition declines more than 70 percent.
Regular care, in other words, makes a big difference. That’s why Congressional Democrats, with support from many Republicans, are trying to expand Schip, which already provides essential medical care to millions of children, to cover millions of additional children who would otherwise lack health insurance.
But President Bush says that access to care is no problem — “After all, you just go to an emergency room” — and, with the support of the Republican Congressional leadership, he’s declared that he’ll veto any Schip expansion on “philosophical” grounds.
It must be about philosophy, because it surely isn’t about cost. One of the plans Mr. Bush opposes, the one approved by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate Finance Committee, would cost less over the next five years than we’ll spend in Iraq in the next four months. And it would be fully paid for by an increase in tobacco taxes.
Once a force in Democratic national politics, the Democratic Leadership Council is now struggling for relevance. At its annual conference over the weekend none of the eight Democrats vying for the White House attended. What is particularly striking to me about that is the fact that the DLC was Bill Clinton’s strategic jumping off point in becoming president and his candidate wife, Hillary Clinton, did not attend. Bill was there of course trying to keep the ideas of the DLC alive. However with an ever growing lefty base, the Democrats are no longer interested in being middle of the road. Still there were over 315 other politicians there from various levels of government to hear talks etc. by the likes of former president Bill Clinton. Still you can’t help but see that the DLC’s time has past. With both parties moving more to their extremes, the middle of both parties are becoming more and more marginalized. It will take some time to see if this is a bad thing, but for now Clinton, Obama and the rest have decided that for them, the DLC is dead as a strategic group in national politics.
In Today’s Tequila Treehouse…
|Al Qaeda’s Publicist|
|Bribing the poor|
|GOP Chutzpah Watch|
|Vet suicides to climb|
|U.S. stock rally fizzles|
|Sicko spurs action|
|Whore CNN – Again|
|Meeting Jessica Alba|
Maia Szalavitz, The Huffington Post, July 30, 2007
Watching the media cover marijuana is fascinating, offering deep insight into conventional wisdom, bias and failure to properly place science in context. The coverage of a new study claiming that marijuana increases the risk of later psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia by 40% displays many of these flaws.
What are the key questions reporters writing about such a study needs to ask? First, can the research prove causality? Most of the reporting here, to its credit, establishes at some point that it cannot, though you have to read pretty far down in some of it to understand this.
Second — and this is where virtually all of the coverage falls flat — if marijuana produces what seems like such a large jump in risk for schizophrenia, have schizophrenia rates increased in line with marijuana use rates? A quick search of Medline shows that this is not the case — in fact, as I noted here earlier, some experts think they may actually have fallen. Around the world, roughly 1% of the population has schizophrenia (and another 2% or so have other psychotic disorders), and this proportion doesn’t seem to change much. It is not correlated with population use rates of marijuana.
Since marijuana use rates have skyrocketed since the 1940′s and 50′s, going from single digit percentages of the population trying it to a peak of some 60% of high school seniors trying it in 1979 (stabilizing thereafter at roughly 50% of each high school class), we would expect to see this trend have some visible effect on the prevalence of schizophrenia and other psychoses.
When cigarette smoking barreled through the population, lung cancer rose in parallel; when smoking rates fell, lung cancer rates fell. This is not the case with marijuana and psychotic disorders; if it were, we’d be seeing an epidemic of psychosis.
But readers of the AP, Bloomberg, The Washington Post, and Reuters were not presented with this information. While CBS/WebMD mentioned the absence of a surge in schizophrenia, it did so by quoting an advocate of marijuana policy reform, rather than citing a study or quoting a doctor. This slants the story by pitting an advocate with an agenda against a presumably neutral medical authority.
Christopher Hitchens, Slate Magazine, July 30, 2007
During the greater part of last week, Slate’s sister site On Faith (it is jointly produced by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, both owned by the Washington Post Co., which also owns Slate) gave itself over to a discussion about the religion of Islam. As usual in such cases, the search for “moderate” versions of this faith was under way before the true argument had even begun. If I were a Muslim myself, I think that this search would be the most “offensive” part of the business. Why must I prove that my deepest belief is compatible with moderation?
Unless I am wrong, a sincere Muslim need only affirm that there is one god, and only one, and that the Prophet Mohammed was his messenger, bringing thereby the final words of God to humanity. Certain practices are supposed to follow this affirmation, including a commitment to pray five times a day, a promise to pay a visit to Mecca if such a trip should be possible, fasting during Ramadan, and a pious vow to give alms to the needy. The existence of djinns, or devils, is hard to disavow because it was affirmed by the prophet. An obligation of jihad is sometimes mentioned, and some quite intelligent people argue about whether “holy war” is meant to mean a personal struggle or a political one. No real Islamic authority exists to decide this question, and those for whom the personal is highly political have recently become rather notorious.
Thus, Islamic belief, however simply or modestly it may be stated, is an extreme position to begin with. No human being can possibly claim to know that there is a God at all, or that there are, or were, any other gods to be repudiated. And when these ontological claims have collided, as they must, with their logical limits, it is even further beyond the cognitive capacity of any person to claim without embarrassment that the lord of creation spoke his ultimate words to an unlettered merchant in seventh-century Arabia. Those who utter such fantastic braggings, however many times a day they do so, can by definition have no idea what they are talking about. (I hasten to add that those who boast of knowing about Moses parting the Red Sea, or about a virgin with a huge tummy, are in exactly the same position.) Finally, it turns out to be impossible to determine whether jihad means more alms-giving or yet more zealous massacre of, say, Shiite Muslims.
Why, then, should we be commanded to “respect” those who insist that they alone know something that is both unknowable and unfalsifiable? Something, furthermore, that can turn in an instant into a license for murder and rape? As one who has occasionally challenged Islamic propaganda in public and been told that I have thereby “insulted 1.5 billion Muslims,” I can say what I suspect—which is that there is an unmistakable note of menace behind that claim. No, I do not think for a moment that Mohammed took a “night journey” to Jerusalem on a winged horse. And I do not care if 10 billion people intone the contrary. Nor should I have to. But the plain fact is that the believable threat of violence undergirds the Muslim demand for “respect.”
Robert “Prince of Darkness” Novak, The Washington Post, July 30, 2007
The morass in Iraq and deepening difficulties in Afghanistan have not deterred the Bush administration from taking on a dangerous and questionable new secret operation. High-level U.S. officials are working with their Turkish counterparts on a joint military operation to suppress Kurdish guerrillas and capture their leaders. Through covert activity, their goal is to forestall Turkey from invading Iraq.
While detailed operational plans are necessarily concealed, the broad outlines have been presented to select members of Congress as required by law. U.S. Special Forces are to work with the Turkish army to suppress the Kurds’ guerrilla campaign. The Bush administration is trying to prevent another front from opening in Iraq, which would have disastrous consequences. But this gamble risks major exposure and failure.
The Turkish initiative reflects the temperament and personality of George W. Bush. Even faithful congressional supporters of his Iraq policy have been stunned by the president’s upbeat mood, which makes him appear oblivious to the loss of his political base. Despite the failing effort to impose a military solution in Iraq, he is willing to try imposing arms — though clandestinely — on Turkey’s ancient problems with its Kurdish minority, who comprise one-fifth of the country’s population.
The development of an autonomous Kurdish entity inside Iraq, resulting from the decline and fall of Saddam Hussein, has alarmed the Turkish government. That led to Ankara’s refusal to allow U.S. combat troops to enter Iraq through Turkey, an eleventh-hour complication for the 2003 invasion. As the Kurds’ political power grew inside Iraq, the Turkish government became steadily more uneasy about the centuries-old project of a Kurdistan spreading across international boundaries — and chewing up big pieces of Turkey.
Recently I was in our nation’s capital on vacation. At the FDR Memorial I was struck by the quotes of a man who really did lead during a time of war and global chaos.
It was interesting to see the quote above. In no way whatsoever could one conceive the possibility that W could think he is in “The People’s” house. He’s in his own divinely ordained place.
When will congress bring W back to reality? Or will they allow him to continue to crush our Constitution and Union?
July 29, 2007
This is excellent news. Grimgold.
The IRS is evil and above the law. it needs to be flushed and replaced with the FairTax.
Please read the article below:
Posted: July 26, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
The Internal Revenue Service has lost a lawyer’s challenge in front of a jury to prove a constitutional foundation for the nation’s income tax, and the victorious attorney now is setting his sights higher.
“I think now people are beginning to realize that this has got to be the largest fraud, backed up by intimidation and extortion and by the sheer force of taking peoples property and hard-earned money without any lawful authorization whatsoever,” lawyer Tom Cryer told WND just days after a jury in Louisiana acquitted him of two criminal tax counts.
And before you consign him to the legions of “tin foil hat brigades” who argue against paying taxes, and then want payment to explain how to do that, he addresses the issue up front.
The storms that rained down on Boston yesterday may have stopped by show time but the Police kept the tempest raging with a great set at Fenway Park. Visiting Boston for the first time since they played Foxboro Stadium on the Synchronicity Tour in 1984, the band wasted no time cranking up the tunes and getting the party started.
The band opened with a double shot of “Message in a Bottle” and “Synchronicity II,” both crisp and jittery. Bassist Sting, guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Steward Copeland filled the venerable ball park with a joyous noise that had fans dancing and singing along.
The Police seemed out to prove that after a 23 year layoff they are still relevant. Songs like “Walking in Your Footsteps” morphed from icy electronics to double-time blues, and “Wrapped Around Your Finger” included a Middle Eastern flavor thanks to Copeland’s occasional trips to his well-stocked percussion set, which included a giant gong and exotic chimes.
Unfortunately “Roxanne,” one of the bands most well known songs, stretched into a languid and all too long jam and at times other songs seemed to veer into the jazzy rock that Sting has recorded as a solo artist. For example, the genius of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” was in the uneasy mix of the sinister and the innocent, but last night smooth curves replaced the ominous edges of that song.
At the start of last night’s show the Police were like watching three separate energies skillfully bouncing off of each other but never really acknowledging each other. After the first hour of the show the band members started to play with each other rather than separately. The band played many of its classics including “Don’t Stand So Close To Me,” “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” “Invisible Sun,” “King of Pain,” “So Lonely,” and “Every Breath You Take.”
Last nights show was certainly full of energy even if it wasn’t the Police in their prime. I was fortunate enough to see the band on the Ghost In the Machine tour and a couple of times on the Synchronicity tour and last night’s shows brought that old Police magic back. The band play again tonight at Fenway Park as they continue their massively successful world tour.