Thursday, February 09, 2006

Other Items

Scott Shane and Eric Lichtblau take up space with the wanna-be heartwarming tale of "Full House Committee Gets Briefing on Eavesdropping" which could be subtitled: "Can't we all just get along." If there's any facts to the story, the spin escapes them. But then the paper lost interest in the NSA story some time ago. So we learn that now the White House is being more forthcoming behind closed doors. (It's like a Charlie Rich country hit. "Coz when Bully Boy gets behind closed doors . . . he makes Shane and Lichtblau glad to be a lapdog . . .")

Not too surprisingly, the article contains nothing like this:

Report: Rove Threatens GOP Senate Judiciary Members Over Spy Program
Meanwhile, the conservative publication Insight on the News is reporting White House deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is threatening any Republican Senate Judiciary members who challenge the White House on the domestic surveillance program. According to Insight, "Sources said the blacklist would mean a halt in any White House political or financial support of senators running for re-election in November." A senior Republican aide told the publication: "It's hardball all the way."

Democracy Now! noted that yesterday. The paper may note [it] in an anniversary issue forty years from now on how we got rid of that "pesky" Constitution. Arlen Specter, we're told, is hard at work on legislation to protect Americans from unwarranted spying. If there's no crime, who needs the protection? The whole thing's being whitewashed by the Bully Boy and, unlike Tom and Huck, Shane and Lichtblau are happy to grab the paint brushes and do their part to make Bully Boy's picket fence look "nice."

We have to note the Associated Press article that Brady e-mailed about, "DeLay Rejoins House Appropriations Committee:"

Representative Tom DeLay, forced to step down as the No. 2 Republican in the House after being indicted in Texas on campaign fund-raising charges, was rewarded by party leaders Wednesday with a seat on the Appropriations Committee.
Mr. DeLay, who was a member of the powerful committee until becoming majority leader in 2003, was able to rejoin the panel because of a vacancy created after the resignation of Representative Randy Cunningham, Republican of California. Mr. Cunningham pleaded guilty in November to charges relating to accepting $2.4 million in bribes for government business and other favors.

And the seasons, they go round and round, and the huckster and the crooks go up and down, as Joni Mitchell might sing in an updated version of "The Circle Game."

Right about now (funk soul brothers and sisters) we could use some reality and Lyle's provided two highlights.

First, Matthew Rothschild's "Feingold Tells It Like It Is" (This Just In, The Progressive):

The newspapers are full of stories about the Democrats not being able to find their voice.
But there is at least one Democrat who doesn't have laryngitis.
And that’s Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.
During the Gonzales hearing on February 6, Feingold grilled the Attorney General for misleading the Senate during his confirmation hearings in January 2005.
But he didn’t stop there.
On the Senate floor on February 7, he went after Gonzales's boss.
Feingold said: The NSA "program is breaking the law, and this President is breaking the law. Not only that, he is misleading the American people in his efforts to justify his program."
And he took this accusation to its logical conclusion, or at least partly there: "When someone breaks the law, when someone misleads the public in an attempt to justify his actions, he needs to be held accountable. The President of the United States has broken the law. The President of the United States is trying to mislead the American people. And he needs to be held accountable."

Second, Matthew Rothschild's "VA Nurse Investigated for 'Sedition' for Criticizing Bush" (McCarthyism Watch, The Progressive):

Laura Berg is a clinical nurse specialist at the VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, where she has worked for 15 years.
Shortly after Katrina, she wrote a letter to the editor of the weekly paper the Alibi criticizing the Bush Administration.
After the paper published the letter in its September 15-21 issue, VA administrators seized her computer, alleged that she had written the letter on that computer, and accused her of "sedition."
Here’s what her letter said.
"I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government," it began. "The Katrina tragedy in the U.S. shows that the emperor has no clothes!" She mentioned that she was "a VA nurse" working with returning vets. "The public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder," she wrote, and she worried about the hundreds of thousands of additional cases that might result from Katrina and the Iraq War.
"Bush, Cheney, Chertoff, Brown, and Rice should be tried for criminal negligence," she wrote. "This country needs to get out of Iraq now and return to our original vision and priorities of caring for land and people and resources rather than killing for oil. . . . We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.
Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times."
After her computer was seized, Berg wrote a memo to her bosses seeking information and an explanation.
Mel Hooker, chief of the human resources management service at the Albuquerque VA, wrote Berg back on November 9 and acknowledged that "your personal computer files did not contain the editorial letter written to the editor of the weekly Alibi."
But rather than apologize, he leveled the sedition charge: "The Agency is bound by law to investigate and pursue any act which potentially represents sedition," he said. "In your letter . . . you declared yourself 'as a VA nurse' and publicly declared the Government which employs you to have 'tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence' and advocated, 'act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.' "

Berg, who is not talking to the press, is "scared for her job" and "pretty emotionally distressed," says Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico.

While the Times minimizes and whitewashes, there's a lot of reality elsewhere. For more reality, listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today.

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