News Updates



GREEN HUNTERS ORGANIZE: Christina Larson writes at that critics of the NRA have founded the American Hunters and Shooters Association to take a more common-sense approach to protecting gun rights and promoting hunting. The new group is "pro-gun, pro-conservation, pro-safety," as executive director Robert Ricker explains. Ricker, a former NRA counsel and gun-industry advocate for two decades, became a whistleblower in 2003 when he gave testimony linking negligent industry behavior and gun sales to criminals.

The organization kicks off Sunday with its first press conference in Lake Charles, Louisiana, at the annual conference of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

Prominent hunting columnist Pat Wray recently blasted the organization for "hoodwinking hunters into thinking they are working on our behalf, while they use our money on politicians and legislative efforts which will degrade hunting, now and in the future."

On the AHSA website, Wray acknowledges that the NRA has protected gun rights for 100 years, but noted, "where issues of real hunting importance are being decided, such as the protection of wildlife habitat and land on which our future hunting opportunities depend, the NRA sells out regularly to politicians who care nothing about the land or wildlife, but who will deliver votes against gun control."

The NRA has between 3 and 4 million members. But there are between 77 and 90 million total gun-owners in the United States, according to varying industry estimates.

Of that total, 30 percent of gun-owners said they would support an alternative organization -- if there was a viable group that would advocate gun rights and do more to support conservation and improved relations with law enforcement, according to a detailed poll of gun owners conducted in 2005 by KRC Research.


See samples of our new issues, to the right.

HECK OF A JOB, DUBYA: As Eric Alterman notes, "They hate us. They really hate us."

From the Pew Global Attitudes Report:


“America's global image has again slipped and support for the war on terrorism has declined even among close U.S. allies like Japan. The war in Iraq is a continuing drag on opinions of the United States, not only in predominantly Muslim countries but in Europe and Asia as well.  And despite growing concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions, the U.S. presence in Iraq is cited at least as often as Iran - and in many countries much more often - as a danger to world peace.

A year ago, anti-Americanism had shown some signs of abating, in part because of the positive feelings generated by U.S. aid for tsunami victims in Indonesia and elsewhere. But favorable opinions of the United States have fallen in most of the 15 countries surveyed." 

We still can claim majority support in Britain (56%), Nigeria (62%), Japan (63%) and India (56%). Among Moslem countries, Egypt and Indonesia are our "best friends," kinda, with 30% support. Turkey is at the bottom of the list at 12%.


IT'S GREAT THAT THEY GOT ZARQAWI. But, as Eric Alterman notes


Too bad they didn’t try harder before the invasion, when they lied about his membership in al-Qaeda to create their phony link between bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.  Remember, in arguing for war, Bush referred to a "very senior al-Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year."  [He was referring to Zarqawi.] But the administration has given no indication that Abu Musab Zarqawi collaborated with senior Iraqi officials.  ...

NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski  broke the story back then “that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself -- but never pulled the trigger.  The reason?  'People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,' according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.”

So there you have it.  Bush didn’t go after Zarqawi because he was useful in developing an argument for war -- even though that argument was based on lies.  Tens of thousands have died, trillions of dollars have been wasted and who knows how many terrorists have been created as a result of his all-but-criminal negligence. 

Zarqawi's links to al Qaeda also are questionable, but to call him a "very senior al-Qaeda leader," as Bush did, was unsupported by known facts. "Al Qaeda wannabe" was probably closer to the truth.

Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank noted in June 2004 in the Washington Post that Zarqawi wrote a January 2003 letter to bin Laden's lieutenants, intercepted at the Iraqi border, saying that if al Qaeda adopted his approach in Iraq, he would swear "fealty to you [bin Laden] publicly and in the news media."

In a March 2004 statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, former CIA chief George Tenet described Zarqawi's network as among groups having "links" to al Qaeda but with its own "autonomous leadership . . . own targets [and] they plan their own attacks."

The Post reported, "Although Zarqawi may have cooperated with al Qaeda in the past, officials said it is increasingly clear that he has been operating independently of bin Laden's group and has his own network of operatives."

Max offers congratulations and advice to the president: "You got Zarqawi and beheaded Al Queda in Iraq. Your mission has been accomplished. You can now declare victory, withdraw our troops, and leave the Iraqis to run their own country. Thank you."

Farhad Manjoo at Salon notes that the war will go on. He wonders how many Zarqawis "we" created by invading Iraq.


In a long, timely profile of Zarqawi in the current issue of the Atlantic, one Arab jihadist says young men across the Middle East now dream of fighting the Americans as Zarqawi had. He tells the story of one boy: "He was from Saudi Arabia and had just turned thirteen. I noticed him in the crowd at a recruiting center near the Syrian-Iraqi frontier ... The recruiters refused to take him because he was so young, and he started to cry. I went back later in the day, and this same small guy had sneaked aboard the bus. When they discovered him, he started to shout Allahu Akhbar! -- 'God is most great!' They carried him off. He had $12,000 in his pocket -- expense money his family had given him before he set off. 'Take it all,' he pleaded. 'Please, just let me do jihad.'"

See Juan Cole for more background.


BUSH VS. TRUMAN: Bill in Portland, Maine, notes at DailyKos that President Bush fancies himself a leader in the mold of Harry Truman. "Ha! Let the Bush-Truman debate begin ..."


Bush: I glance at the headlines, just to get kind of a flavor. I rarely read the stories.
Truman: A president either is constantly on top of events or, if he hesitates, events will soon be on top of him.

Bush:  Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.
Truman: In the circumstances, alarm is justified. The man who isn't alarmed simply doesn't understand the situation -- or he is crazy. But alarm is one thing, and hysteria is another. Hysteria impels people to destroy the very thing they are struggling to preserve.

Bush: We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories...for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them.  ...  [T]here's theories as to where the weapons went. They could have been destroyed during the war. Saddam and his henchmen could have destroyed them as we entered into Iraq. They could be hidden. They could have been transported to another country, and we'll find out.
Truman: He's one of the few in the history of this country to run for high office talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time and lying out of both sides.

Bush: The FISA law was written in 1978. We're having this discussion in 2006. It's a different world. And FISA is still an important tool. It's an important tool. And we still use that tool. But also -- and we -- look, I said, look, is it possible to conduct this program under the old law? And people said, it doesn't work in order to be able to do the job we expect us to do.
Truman: It's plain hokum. If you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em. It's an old political trick. But this time it won't work.

Bush: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled.
Truman: Why, this fellow don't know any more about politics than a pig knows about Sunday.

Bush:  There are some who feel like that if they attack us that we may decide to leave prematurely. They don't understand what they are talking about if that's the case. Let me finish. There are some who feel like that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring `em on.
Truman: Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes and perhaps a supporter below.

Score:  Bush 0   Truman 6


BUSH, CONGRESS IGNORE US PRIORITIES: DailyKos notes that the issues that Americans believe are the top priorities for the president and Congress to deal with are the war in Iraq (42%), fuel prices and the energy crisis (29%), immigration (23%), the economy (14%) and health care (12%), according to a Gallup Poll. Tied for 18th was the catchall "ethics/moral/religious/family decline," named by only 1% of respondents. (Moral issues ranked with poverty, natural disaster relief, the trade deficit and inflation among voter worries.)

Gallup allowed respondents to offer two top concerns.

Another poll by the Center for American Progress, reported by, found that only 3% of Americans say homosexuality is the nation's "most serious moral crisis." Among that poll's highlights:


• Asked to name the most serious moral crisis in America today, 28% of Americans cite “kids not raised with the right values”; followed by 22% saying “corruption in government/business”; 17% saying “greed and materialism” or “people too focused on themselves”; and only 3% citing “abortion and homosexuality.”

• On addressing poverty: 68% of voters strongly agree that “government should uphold the basic decency and dignity of all and take greater steps to help the poor and disadvantaged in America” (89% total agree).

• On religious freedom: 67% of voters believe that religious freedom is a “critical” part of their image of America compared to less than three in 10 who believe Judeo-Christian faith specifically is critical to this image.

IF REPUBLICANS REALLY WANT TO PROTECT MARRIAGE ... they should promote a constitutional amendment to prohibit divorce. Call your Republican senators' offices and ask them how long the GOP will tolerate state-sanctioned adultery.

See Americablog for reports on responses from Republican senators, here, here, here and here. The best response was from an aide to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), when asked if Martinez would introduce an amendment to outlaw divorce: "The Senator is not interested in protecting marriage but in protecting the definition of marriage."

You can call members of Congress, House and Senate, via the Congressional Switchboard: 1-888-355-3588 (then ask for the specific Senate Office). Or find direct phone numbers or email addresses for the Senators listed below.

Senators who support the amendment banning gay marriage (but are ambivalent on adultery), according to Americablog, include:


Alexander, Lamar (R-TN)
Allard, Wayne (R-CO)
Allen, George (R-VA) - Divorced
Bennett, Robert F. (R-UT)
Bond, Christopher S. (R-MO) - Divorced
Brownback, Sam (R-KS)
Bunning, Jim (R-KY)
Burns, Conrad (R-MT)
Burr, Richard (R-NC)
Chambliss, Saxby (R-GA)
Coburn, Thomas (R-OK
Cochran, Thad (R-MS)
Cornyn, John (R-TX)
Craig, Larry E. (R-ID)
Crapo, Mike (R-ID)
DeMint, Jim (R-SC)
DeWine, Mike (R-OH)
Dole, Elizabeth (R-NC) - Barren
Domenici, Pete V. (R-NM)
Ensign, John (R-NV)
Enzi, Mike (R-WY)
Frist, William H. (R-TN)
Graham, Lindsay (R-S) - Unmarried... celibate?
Grassley, Charles E. (R-IA)
Hatch, Orrin G. (R-UT)
Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R-TX) - Divorced
Inhofe, James M. (R-OK)
Isakson, Johnny (R-GA)
Kyl, John (R-AZ)
Lott, Trent (R-MS)
Lugar, Richard G. (R-IN)
Martinez, Mel (R-FL)
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) - Divorced
Murkowski, Lisa (R-AK)
Nelson, Ben (D-NE)
Roberts, Pat (R-KS)
Santorum, Rick (R-PA)
Sessions, Jeff (R-AL)
Shelby, Richard C. (R-AL)
Smith, Gordon (R-OR)
Stevens, Ted (R-AK)
Talent, James M. (R-MO)
Thomas, Craig (R-WY)
Thune, John (R-SD)
Vitter, David (R-LA)
Voinovich, George (R-OH)

Unclear on the Amendment
Coleman, Norm (R-MN)
Gregg, Judd (R-NH)
Warner, John W. (R-VA)

For more action you can take, including a list of House members who support the ban on gay marriage, see here.

CALL FOR MEDICARE EXPANSION: Healthcare-NOW is trying to galvanize people to action on Wednesday, June 7, to call for a national single payer healthcare system. The date, 6/7/6, corresponds with the bill number of the United States National Health Insurance Act, HR 676, introduced by Reps. John Conyers, Dennis Kucinich, Jim McDermott and Donna Christensen. HR 676 would expand the Medicare program to cover all residents of the US and its territories. For a list of activities, information and materials you can use to participate, see Health-NOW's June 7th page.




Here is Bill Moyers defending public television against the charge that it's no longer needed because commercial TV provides us with everything we need:


One reason we get such pale and unquestioning journalism in America is that skepticism and irreverence toward the prerogatives of power and privilege are exactly what corporate media moguls don't want from the journalists who work for them. If they did, there wouldn't have been such gullible groupthink from the press when America went to war in Iraq on the basis of false information, faulty intelligence, fallacious propaganda, and flagrant secrecy. It's what happens when the news media becomes a complacent conduit for the government and multimedia corporations, failing to challenge authority, and passing information spun carefully by special interests both in and out of government.

....I believe in "fair and balanced."

I say let's be more fair than anyone else. Let's be as fair to Main Street as we are to Wall Street — to the working men and women of America as we are to the big corporations, big government, and big investors.

....Let's be as fair to the skeptic of official policy as we are to its spokesman, as fair to the commoner as to the celebrity, and as fair to the lived experience of ordinary people as we are to the calculated opinion of think tank experts.

I'm for balance.

Let's balance the spin with the evidence, the rhetoric with the record, and opinion with reporting.

....And let's balance programs written by the National Mining Association and Boeing with programs underwritten by the United Mine Workers, Consumer's Union, and Citizens for a Fair Economy. If they can't afford the underwriting, let's at least give them a hearing.

You will be unsurprised to learn that Moyers is also appalled at the idea of setting up "digital tollbooths" on the internet that will transform it into "a system of corporate-controlled pipes." Read the whole thing for more. It's a manifesto for what journalism ought to be.

MALPRACTICE NON-CRISIS: Kevin Drum again, this time citing a Harvard study of 1,452 closed cases, which amount to about 80% of all malpractice suits, which found:


• Administration and litigation costs in our system are indeed very high, but the vast majority of the claims in the study were properly decided: the patients who suffered injury due to medical errors were compensated and those who weren't, weren't.

• About 150 of the cases involved patients who received compensation even though there was apparently no medical error.

• 236 of the cases involved patients who received no compensation even though they suffered injury due to medical error.

That's some out-of-control malpractice system, isn't it? I think we all agree that it would be nice to increase the accuracy of these cases, but if we did, the cost of malpractice payouts would go up, not down.

More detail here, including the fact that nearly all cases are settled out of court, and of the ones that do go to court, patients lose 80% of them. This study, by the way, follows a long line of earlier studies that show the same thing: malpractice claims are actually pretty rare; compensation is generally fair; a more accurate system would pay out more, not less; and malpractice payouts have not been rising any faster than the overall rate of medical inflation. The malpractice "crisis" is mostly just hype.

Yet people tolerate the closing of civil courts to lawsuits for personal injuries, in the name of "tort reform."


Memorial Day

DarkSyde writes at DailyKos:


Tomorrow is the day we honor the fallen American heroes of so many wars. To avoid staining our national day of mourning, I felt it more appropriate to dedicate this post at this time to a very different kind of American. They may be clueless neocons, erroneous White House talking heads, or smear artists and their self-appointed town criers. But what they all have in common is that each one bravely ducked when called and later took part directly or indirectly in assaulting the reputation of those who stood in harm's way. They are known, affectionately, as Chicken-hawks:


• President George W. Bush - served four years of a six years Nat'l Guard commitment, some say after daddy's friends pulled some strings to keep him out of Vietnam. The circumstances of his early separation from state-side service are still controversial (details)
• Karl Rove, occasional Deputy Chief of Staff and alleged full time smear artist, escaped the draft and did not serve
• VP Dick Cheney - several deferments, by marriage and timely fatherhood  
• Former VP Chief of Staff I. Lewis Scooter Libby - did not serve
• Secretary of State and former NSA Condaleeza Rice - did not serve
• Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist - did not serve.
• Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert - did not serve.
• Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay - did not serve
• House Majority Whip Roy Blunt - did not serve
• Majority Whip Mitch McConnell - did not serve
• Rick Santorum, third ranking Republican in the Senate - did not serve.
• Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott - did not serve

Recently while stammering out a convoluted apology for avoiding service, one budding Yellow Elephant mentioned in part that he 'can support the Yankees without wearing their uniform.' Not too far off: Your average Chicken-hawk does not play for the Yankees because they lack the physical skill required to walk out on that field and compete; likewise, maybe they do not serve in Iraq because they lack the simple courage required to walk into a recruiting office and sign up. But how about his role models?


• Rush Limbaugh - did not serve
• Sean Hannity - did not serve
• Pat Buchanan - did not serve
• Ann Coulter - did not serve
• Ralph Reed - did not serve
• Bill O'Reilly - did not serve
• Michael Savage - did not serve
• Bill Kristol - did not serve

The 101st Fighting Chicken-s*it Keyboardists and assorted neocon shills may be conspicuously absent when their country is in need, but they're always at the ready to order other people's sons and daughters into the meat grinder. ...

Meanwhile, a genuine decorated war hero whose war record was smeared by Republican operatives, and whose war wounds were mocked by the Republican establishment, is still trying to clear his good name:


Three decades after the Vietnam War and nearly two years after [John] Kerry's failed presidential bid, most Americans have probably forgotten why it ever mattered whether he went to Cambodia or that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth accused him of making it all up, saying he was dishonest and lacked patriotism.

But among those who were on the front lines of the 2004 campaign, the battle over Mr. Kerry's wartime service continues, out of the limelight but in some ways more heatedly — because unlike then, Mr. Kerry has fully engaged in the fight. Only those on Mr. Kerry's side, however, have gathered new evidence to support their case.

The Swift boat group continues to spend money on Washington consultants, according to public records, and last fall it gave $100,000 to a group that promptly sued Mr. Kerry, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, for allegedly interfering with the release of a film that was critical of him.

Naval records and accounts from other sailors contradicted almost every claim the Swift Boat Republicans made, and some members of the group who had earlier praised Mr. Kerry's heroism contradicted themselves for partisan purposes.

Kerry told the Times he was caught off guard; he had been prepared to defend his antiwar activism, but he did not believe that anyone would challenge the facts behind his military awards. "We should have put more money behind it," Mr. Kerry says now. "I take responsibility for it; it was my mistake. They spent something like $30 million, and we didn't. That's just a terrible imbalance when somebody's lying about you."

And the smears continue. In February 2005, Kerry's supporters formed the Patriot Project, to defend veterans who take unpopular positions, particularly against the Iraq war. One of their first tasks was to visit newspaper editorial boards in defense of Representative John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat and veteran whose military record has been attacked by Republicans and conservative blogs since he called for pulling the troops out of Iraq.


The Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club has made its first-ever endorsement in a statewide primary race, calling on its 6,000 members to support state Rep. Ed Fallon in the four-way race for the Democratic nomination for governor. Fallon, a Des Moines grassroots organizer who also has been a contributing writer to The Progressive Populist, has been an outspoken supporter of environmental protection, conservation and renewable energy, as well as campaign reform and public financing of campaigns. He has served in the Iowa Legislature 14 years.


See samples from the June 15 issue, to the right ...


RNC lies about GOP criminalizing immigrants

Josh Marshall notes:


The RNC is running Spanish-language ads against Harry Reid arguing that Democrats were behind the bill the House passed to treat illegal aliens as felons.

That of course is the GOP-backed bill Republicans are now running away from in droves.

Figure the ad will get taken off the air? Will the cable nets feature the bamboozlement?

The argument is really pretty egregious even by GOP standards. House Republicans put up a bill to make being an illegal alien a felony. An amendment was proposed that would have made it a misdemeanor. As the AP reports, "Democrats, including members of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, voted against the amendment, arguing they did not support criminal penalties. Nevada Republicans Jon Porter and Jim Gibbons also voted against the amendment, which failed. The felony provision remained in the bill, H.R. 4437, and it passed the House on a largely party line vote."

So Republicans claim that Democrats supported felony charges for illegal immigrants because they voted against misdemeanor charges for illegal immigrants.

Later, Josh recaps and notes to RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman: "If you run the ads in Spanish, it's still a lie."


Terror Watch List delays marine's homecoming

St. Paul Pioneer Press:


Marine Staff Sgt. Daniel Brown has just spent the past eight months serving his country in Iraq, only to return to the United States and find out his country had placed him on a watch list as a possible terrorist.

A ceremony was waiting Tuesday at home in the Twin Cities for Brown and 26 other Marine military police reservists returning from the war. There were eager families and bagpipes.

But Northwest Airlines wouldn't let him on the plane in Los Angeles. His name had been flagged on the federal list.

As he worked with airport staff to gain permission to fly, the other 26 Marines arrived back in Minnesota on schedule. But rather than meet up with their families located just minutes from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, they opted to wait on a bus.

"We don't leave anybody behind," said Marine 1st Sgt. Drew Benson. "We start together, and we finish together."

Brown arrived more than an hour later. ...

Another case of Bush administration incompetence. Turns out Brown had been stopped when he tried to get on a plane last June to go to Iraq, because inspectors found traces of gunpowder on his boots, probably from a previous tour of Iraq. (He and his fellow marines, who occasionally are in proximity with gunpowder, were in uniform in both cases.) Babies, US Sen. Edward Kennedy and David Nelson of "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet'' have been stopped at airports because their names match those on the list and local Transportation Security Administration personnel have no discretion to use common sense. The TSA refuses to say how many names are on the watch list, how names get added to the list, and how you get your name off the list.


Good hands

Max Sawicky notes:


The White House Chief of Staff has been replaced with a leading architect of our budget and economic policy. What else is there to say. I guess Michael Brown was busy.


Interesting times with the computer have kept us from posting much lately, but the new issue is up! (glance to the right)


We're back!

Computer problems kept us offline for a few days, but we've patched it together enough to post the most recent issue (see right). Happy Mardi Gras!


Bush hands US ports to Dubai management

Despite bipartisan opposition, the Bush administration is going ahead with approval of a Dubai corporation’s takeover of the company that operates six of the biggest ports on the East Coast. Bush threatened to veto any legislation to block Dubai Ports World (DP World), which proposes to pay $6.8 bln to buy Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation, a British company that operates the ports in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

Democrats and Republicans have proposed legislation to block foreign companies from owning port facilities, but shipping officials note that the shipping business went global more than a decade ago and foreign-based companies already control more than 30% of US port terminals.

While the Coast Guard and other Homeland Security agencies are responsible for port security, there is concern that the Bush administration has failed to fund it. The president of the American Association of Port Authorities in February complained that the $708 million allotted for maritime security over the past four years amounted to only one-fifth of what the port authorities had identified as needed to properly secure the ports, the Christian Science Monitor reported 2/22.

The chairman of DP World is a sultan who works for the crown prince of Dubai, one of seven sheikdoms that form the United Arab Emirates. The UAE was one of the few governments that formally recognized the Taliban. Freewheeling Dubai, commercial hub of the UAE, was a major transit and money transfer center for al-Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks and al Qaeda operatives are still believed to use Dubai as a logistical base, even as the UAE has made high-profile arrests, passed an anti-money laundering law, and imposed monitoring procedures on charity organizations within its borders.

"This sale will create an unacceptable risk to the security of our ports," Sen. Hilary R. Clinton, joined by Sens Frank Lautenberg, Robert Menendez and Barbara Boxer said in a letter 2/21. Republican governors of New York and Maryland raised the threat of legal action to void contracts at ports in New York City and Baltimore.

The guys Bush thinks are OK to run our ports

March 25, 2004:


The Central Intelligence Agency did not target al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden once as he had the royal family of the United Arab Emirates with him in Afghanistan, the agency's director, George Tenet, told the 9/11 Commission.

Had the CIA targeted bin Laden, half the royal family would have been wiped out as well, he said.

David Corn has more on the 9/11 Commission testimony. According to Richard Clarke, Tenet decided not to recommend a cruise missile strike at a hunting camp in Afghanistan where bin Laden might have been in 1998 because several members of royalty of the United Arab Emirates, supposedly one of Washington's best Arab allies in counterterrorism, were possibly present at the time.

Then there are the reports that two months before 9/11 Osama bin Laden flew to Dubai for 10 days for treatment at the American hospital, where he was visited by the local CIA agent.

According to French intelligence sources, bin Laden was reported to have arrived in Dubai on July 4, 2001, from Quetta in Pakistan with his own personal doctor, nurse and four bodyguards, to be treated in the urology department. While there he was visited by several members of his family and Saudi personalities, and the CIA.


Why we fight?

Because Cheney says so. Tom Lasseter of Knight Ridder reports on the scene on the ground in Samarra, Iraq.


Reckless behavior

You can find plenty of other commentary elsewhere on Dick Cheney shooting his hunting buddy, but this is my takeaway thought: This is a perfect illustration of the incompetence and corruption of the chickenspit Bush-Cheney administration. The vice president shoots a man at a canned hunt on a South Texas ranch, then withholds word on the shooting for 20 hours, giving his buddies time to get their stories straight. Local law enforcement authorities are not allowed to question Cheney until the following day. When word finally leaks out, Cheney's spokeswoman blames the victim and says Cheney did nothing wrong.

I am not a hunter (I get my meat at the grocery store) but I have handled guns (certified by the state of Texas to carry a concealed weapon before it became popular) and I remember that the first two rules of gun handling as well as hunting are: If you pick up a gun, 1) you are responsible if it goes off, and 2) if it goes off, you are responsible for everything and everybody in the line of fire.

You don't blame the shell for not telling you it's in the chamber any more than you'd blame the guy who's picking up the quail he just shot for not warning you to look out before you squeeze the trigger.

But accidents can happen and we hope Harry Whittington, who reportedly has suffered a "minor" heart attack from birdshot that made it to his heart, has a full recovery. Rich Republican lawyers don't deserve to be killed by Cheney's mistakes any more than Iraqi kids deserve to be killed by them. But Cheney, like his putative "boss," appears to be congenitally unable to admit to mistakes. So they'll keep on happening. Maybe not to rich Republican lawyers, but we'll see who's invited to Dick's next hunting rip.

See also the thoughts of Paul Begala, who is a hunter, on how lucky Cheney is that most in the Washington press corps are not hunters; Scott Denham, a North Carolina hunter writing in the Charlotte Observer on the safe hunting procedures Cheney ignored; and Mike Leggett, outdoors writer of the Austin American-Statesman, on how Cheney should take responsibility and own up to the fact that he shot a man.

Also, as the White House apparently has decided that the best way to deal with the shooting is to joke about it, check out James Wolcott on "Birdshot and Birdshit."


Journamalism in Our Nation's Capital

As Atrios notes, "From what I gather the Think Progress people don't quite agree with Kim Eisler's characterization of the events that led them to publish the Abramoff emails. But, let's take them at face value and contemplate what that means for Washington journalism.


Senate Dems mull Clean Elections

The American Prospect reports that Senate Minority Leader Harry Resid expressed interest in getting behind a proposal for public financing of federal elections.

The Hill reported yesterday that Sens. Dick Durbin and Chris Dodd are both putting out feelers to gauge the level of caucus support for some kind of public financing proposal.

Time to send your senators a message: Get lobbyist money out of polical campaigns. Support "Clean Money" public financing for congressional elections.

Unfortunately, Republicans appear to be united against any attempt to wean Congress members from lobbyist life support. The GOP’s leading advocate for campaign-finance reform, Sen. John McCain, who has been moving increasingly to the right as he prepares to run for the White House in 2008, dismissed the public financing proposal yesterday with a flat “no,” The Hill reported. Instead, McCain proposes to plug holes in the law that allows so-called 527 groups to raise unlimited contributions for advocacy.


Three questions Gonzales must answer

On Monday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee about President Bush’s warrantless domestic surveillance programs. ThinkProgress has some critical questions he must address.


Daily Show's Stewart tees off on Chavez

For a fake news show, 'The Daily Show' with Jon Stewart does a pretty good job sorting out facts from propaganda. But we fear it missed the mark Thursday night when Jon Stewart used the arrest of Cindy Sheehan at the Capitol on Tuesday on a t-shirt rap to launch into a criticism of the war protester's trip to Venezuela.

Chavez is "well-known for his strong anti-US rhetoric, suppression of political opposition and support for communist dictator Fidel Castro," Stewart said. Of a shot of Sheehan together with Chavez, Stewart concluded, "Great. So now Hugo Chavez has his Christmas card this year. I guess he can send it to every one currently serving the four-year prison term you get in Venezuela for criticizing Chavez in the press."

Only problem is that while Chavez -- who by the way, was elected president by a substantial margin and survived an attempted recall in elections that were more transparent than our last two presidential elections, and also survived an attempted coup that was backed by the Bush administration -- has not put any journalist in prison for criticizing him, according to Reporters Without Borders, which keeps track of such things.

Note that the criminal codes that the Venezuela National Assembly adopted at Chavez's urging are a threat to press freedom. They just aren't that unusual. Even in the United States, 17 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, have criminal libel statutes. And Reporters Without Borders criticized the United States for, among other things:

• fining and jailing reporters who refused to reveal their sources;
• deporting foreign journalists who come to the US without getting US government permits to practice journalism;
• refusing to conduct serious investigations of US forces' involvement in the deaths of five journalists and media assistants in Iraq;
• continuing to hold Sami al-Haj, a reporter for al-Jazeera TV who was captured in Afghanistan in December 2001 and remains imprisoned without charge by US forces in Guantanamo.

We're betting Sami al-Haj didn't get a Christmas card from Dubya, either.




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