Saturday, January 21, 2006

Other Items

With the White House under increasing attack over the program, the administration also announced that President Bush, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the former head of the agency, will each give talks next week in support of the program.
The day's events showed the White House's increasingly forceful effort to build public support for the program, as it seeks to demonstrate that Mr. Bush acted within constitutional authority in ordering the agency to monitor international e-mail and phone calls linked to Al Qaeda without seeking warrants.

The above is from Eric Lichtblau and James Risen's "More Attacks and Meetings on a Program Under Fire" on the website of the New York Times this morning and in tomorrow's paper in some form. (Jonah noted it.) The Bully Boy and his cohorts will be pressing the claim that there was nothing wrong with spying on American citizens without warrants. (See "The Notwit and Nonwisdom of John Cornyn.") And there was nothing wrong with it except for it being illegal, unconstitutional and, I'd argue, unethical. So keep pressing Bully Boy.

Of the article, note that, unlike the Downing Street Memos hearings that John Conyers Jr. held, yesterday's hearings on the spying/snooping by the NSA, authorized by the Bully Boy, actually make it into the paper. Nine paragraphs (check my math). We'll note this:

While several witnesses brought reputations as liberal critics of the administration, one witness, Bruce Fein, had been a senior Justice Department official under President Ronald Reagan and was critical of the program's legal underpinnings.
Mr. Fein suggested that he would have resigned rather than acquiesce in such a program.

Should we assume that the paper included coverage of the Conyers hearings as trade off in their continued avoidance of any coverage the event going on in their own backyard? The Bush Commission's hearings are taking place. Will the Times cover the three day event in any form?
Probably not. A discussion as to the legalities of the Bully Boy's actions might seem like a natural topic for the paper, especially since it doesn't require any huge travel expense; however, an intellectual pursuit is hardly in keeping with the paper's continued dumbing down of America.
Though never on par with The New York Review of Books, the paper wasn't always opposed to intellectual pursuit. Possibly they, like Daniel Okrent, prefer their new attitude (what Keesha once dubbed "Grey Lady be letting her hair down" attitude) as opposed to the paper's past which did include coverage of the academic world that went far beyond the embarrassing coverage of public schools.

Question, which Times reporter, after penning an article on the Rod Paige, then Secretary of Education, controversy stated that he didn't care to look into whether or not Paige was paid in full by Houston for work he didn't complete when he left to become Secretary of Education? And note, this was after the myth of the "Houston miracle" exploded. Answer? In today's gina & krista round-robin. That's one of my contributions to today's round-robin and one more reason to open it even though it's a Saturday and you may think, "Well, I've done all I can until Monday on the Alito issue." There's still work to be done and Gina and Krista are publishing each day so be sure to read the round-robins. And please stay active this weekend.

(For more on the special round-robins, see Wally's "Evening Jot." And Three Cool Old Guys have a column in today's round-robin to give you another reason to open it when you see it in your inboxes.)

I noted a song by Maria McKee yesterday and Susan notes a favorite that ties in with Rebecca's call to shake the mountain, move the mountain and defeat the Alito confirmation.

I'm depending on you
To teach me all the things I forgot I eve knew
Baby you can lean on me
I may lean a little too
Whatever gets us through
And I feel a mountain movin' deep within
-- "Nobody's Child" written by Maria McKee and Robbie Robertson, appears on McKee's self-titled album

Since the Times won't tell you about the Bush Commission, let's go to Ruth:

The Bush Commission . . . will be holding a tribunal in New York City from January twentieth to the twenty-third. The first day of the hearing will take place at The Riverside Church on 123 Riverside Drive and will begin at 5:00 pm. The second day will take place at the same location and begin at 10:00 am. The final day, Sunday, the hearings will move to the Law School at Columbia University and will begin at 1:00 pm. More information can be found online at Bush Commission and also by calling (212) 941- 8086. Also at the Bush Commission website, you can find information on the October 2005 hearings including audio and videos you can watch online as well as text excerpts.

So today at the Riverside Church, beginning at 10:00 a.m., and tomorrow at the Law School at Columbia, beginning at 1:00 p.m.

In other news, Adam Nagourney tells readers the latest of still-under-investigation-for-outing-a-CIA-agent Karl Rove and his plan for selling Repubes as "national security" lust objects. Before the 'vangical voters get their psuedo morals up and dripping, Democrats might want to note that this is the man who had conversations with the press about an undercover CIA agent. This is the man who, though not yet charged, actively gave out information that led to a CIA agent's cover being blown. So possibly he's the last person to speak of national security? Possibly, the country might be safer if he were composing his talking points from a prison cell?

Or they might want to hit on the fact that (see last entry), Scooter Libby will go to trial shortly for his involvement in the outing of a CIA agent. That would be Cheney's right hand man. Scoots who had to resign when he was indicted. For, among other things, lying to FBI investigators.

Or there's Lawrence Franklin who just pled guilty for passing on national security secrets which ended up in the hands of a foreign government. (Again, see previous entry.) Outing a CIA agent, passing national security information onto a foreign government, it's a bit hard for the Repubes to fall back on their usual plan of Blame Clinton For Everything.

Hillary Clinton might want to grab an old speech (one she gave, if I'm remembering correctly, to the ABA, prior to Bill Clinton being elected president in 1992) and rework it so that it captures the feel of "The last thing American voters need is to hear Republicans talk about a national security they never honored or lived up to."

Need more to refute the talking point of "national security Republicans"? Zach notes Robert Parry's "The Imperium's Quarter Century" (Consortium News):

If there is a birth date for today's American Imperium, it would be Jan. 20, 1981, exactly a quarter century ago, when Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President and Iran released 52 American hostages under circumstances that remain a mystery to this day.
The freedom of the hostages, ending a 444-day crisis, brought forth an outpouring of patriotism that bathed the new President in an aura of heroism as a leader so feared by America's enemies that they scrambled to avoid angering him. It was viewed as a case study of how U.S. toughness could restore the proper international order.
That night, as fireworks lit the skies of Washington, the celebration was not only for a new President and for the freed hostages, but for a new era in which American power would no longer be mocked. That momentum continues today in George W. Bush's "preemptive" wars and the imperial boasts about a "New American Century."
However, the reality of that day 25 years ago now appears to have been quite different than was understood at the time, much as George W. Bush's cowboy rhetoric of smoking Osama bin Laden out and getting him dead or alive has proved more bluster than reality.
What's now known about the Iranian hostage crisis suggests that the "coincidence" of the Reagan Inauguration and the Hostage Release was not a case of frightened Iranians cowering before a U.S. President who might just nuke Tehran.
The preponderance of evidence suggests that it was a prearranged deal between the Republicans and the Iranians. The Republicans got the hostages and the political bounce; Iran's Islamic fundamentalists got a secret supply of weapons and various other payoffs.
State Secret
Though the full history remains a state secret -- in part because of an executive order signed by George W. Bush on his first day in office in 2001 -- it appears Republicans did contact Iran's mullahs during the 1980 campaign; agreements were reached; and a clandestine flow of U.S. weapons followed the hostage release.

Ah, those "national security Republicans." The article notes "For more on the October Surprise mystery and supporting documents, see's "The October Surprise X-Files" or Parry's Secrecy & Privilege." Secrecy & Privilege is a great book but I'd also add to that Fooling America: How Washington Insiders Twist the Truth and Manufacture the Conventional Wisdom. And, if I didn't, members would. The latter book was discussed at The Third Estate Sunday Review recently and on this end (I haven't had time to ask Ty and Dona what the response has been at, members have been very interested in that book. Need another reason to hunt down the book? Parry's Rebecca's favorite book author of nonfiction.

Cindy pointed out that Trina's gotten very little build up compared to other members who've started sites. Cindy's right and my apologies to Trina. She had the misfortune of starting her site, Trina's Kitchen, when the hearings had just concluded and I was wiped out. This week has been about Alito as well. Trina's Kitchen is a Saturday site -- that means she intends to post only on Saturdays because that's the only time she has to spare. Ideally, it's a weekly site; however, I'm not sure she'll be posting today. She's worked really hard contributing to the round-robins this week. It's a great site and one that I should have given more attention to.
My apologies to Trina. (And if you need another reason to check out Trina's Kitchen, remember that Mike is Trina's son.)

And she may be posting today. I know Isaiah's trying to think up a new The World Today Just Nuts due to the fact that he's created original comics all week for the round-robin. He e-mailed that he's going to try to think of something but he's not sure he has a daily comic in him. I understand completely. I've e-mailed West and if Isaiah's not able to think up yet another comic in a week where he's already given so much, we'll highlight a previous one that West selects.

Everyone has given a great deal to the round-robins this week (most of all Gina and Krista so please let them know that you appreciate their hard work). I believe Kayla has a contribution today (if it's not today, it will run Sunday) as does Travis.

Brandon e-mailed wondering if there would be a new edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow and if Ava and I would have a TV thing in it? Yes, the plan is for a new edition. As for a TV piece, Ava and I have two ideas. If we can create or find time, we may have two pieces. I'm booked solid today and Ava and Jess are meeting with at least two student groups to talk about the need to stop the confirmation of Alito so I can't promise that we'll find the time or, that if we do find the time, we won't be so tired we have nothing to say. But, fingers crossed, there will be at least one piece by us and possibly two.

Dallas is hunting down links for Ruth's latest which will go up shortly and Kat will be doing the entry on RadioNation with Laura Flanders and, remember, Flanders is in Utah at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend. (Thank you to Dallas and Kat for their help and then some.) (And thank you to Ruth, too. I know she's exhausted.)

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