Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How Public Opinion Has Been Made Irrelevant in America

Glen Greenwald ( writes:
One of the most striking aspects of our political discourse, particularly during election time, is how efficiently certain views that deviate from the elite consensus are banished from sight -- simply prohibited -- even when those views are held by the vast majority of citizens.
This discrepancy is a potent commentary on how our democracy functions....

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Firefighters Appalled at 9/11 Billboards

International Association of Firefighters press release:
“There’s a big difference between honoring and remembering the fallen – fire fighters and civilians – and shamelessly plastering the image of the burning Twin Towers on a purely political billboard with an offensive statement currying favor for or against a political party."

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11 Reasons America is the New Top Socialist Economy

How free market ideology backfired, sabotaging capitalistic democracy.

Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch, reports:
"Welcome to the conservative's worst nightmare: The law of unintended consequences. Why? Nobody wants to admit it, folks, but the conservatives' grand ideology is backfiring, actually turning the world's greatest capitalistic democracy into the world's newest socialist economy...."
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Joe Klein Appalled at McCain's Comments on Obama

From The Huffington Post:
"Appearing on Anderson Cooper 360 tonight on CNN, Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein said that John McCain's comments Tuesday that Barack Obama is willing to lose a war to win an election were the most scurrilous he had ever heard by a major party candidate.

On his blog on the Time Magazine website, Klein wrote that the comment 'smacks of desperation.'"

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Is There A Secret Presidential Succession Plan?

Does the Bush administration have a secret succession order that bypasses Congress?

Bruce Ackerman (Slate) asks: "Suppose the worst happens, and the next terrorist attack hits Washington hard, taking out the president and the vice president. What happens next?

New Yorker writer Jane Mayer's new book, The Dark Side, opens with a shocker.... "

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McCain: Not a Gaffe: A Fundamental Misunderstanding of Iraq

Ilan Goldenberg reports:
"John McCain made a mistake this evening, which as far as I'm concerned, disqualifies him from being president.� It is so appalling and so factually wrong that I'm actually sitting here wondering who McCain's advisers are.� This isn't some gaffe where he talks about the Iraq-Pakistan border.� It's a real misunderstanding of what has happened in Iraq over the past year.� It is even more disturbing because according to John McCain, Iraq is the central front in the 'war on terror.'� If we are going to have an Iraq-centric policy, he should at least understand what he is talking about.� But anyway, what happened...."

Continue reading.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dennis Kucinich: Thanks to You, Impeachment Will Be Heard

Bob Fertik reports:
Tell your Representatives to support impeachment by cosponsoring H. Res. 1345:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich has led the fight for impeachment since April 2007, when he defied Speaker Pelosi and courageously introduced 3 Articles of Impeachment (H.Res. 333/799) against Vice President Cheney. On June 10, Kucinich defied Speaker Pelosi again and introduced 35 Articles of Impeachment (H.Res. 1258) against President Bush.

When Pelosi refused to allow hearings on any of the 38 Articles of Impeachment, Kucinich returned to the floor of Congress to introduce one more Article of Impeachment against President Bush (H.Res. 1345).

Thanks to massive pressure from and our pro-impeachment allies, Speaker Pelosi finally allowed Chairman Conyers to hold a hearing this Friday. Kucinich will finally get a few minutes to argue for impeachment, along with Rep. Robert Wexler, former Rep. Liz Holtzman, and former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson. Kucinich made a video to thank us for our efforts.

H.Res. 1345 focuses on Bush's ultimate crime - invading Iraq on the basis of lies. The evidence is overwhelming that George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Karl Rove, Andy Card, and other top officials deliberately manufactured those lies to "sell" an invasion whose real purpose was to gain control of Iraq's oil and establish military bases in the heart of the Middle East.

This was the agenda of the Project for a New American Century that Bush adopted after stealing the 2000 election. And it's the reason Bush and John McCain are determined to stay in Iraq forever, even though Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki supports Barack Obama's plan to remove all our troops by 2010.

When Kucinich testifies on Friday, he will naturally face hostile questions from rightwing Republicans who impeached President Clinton. But Kucinich will also face hostile questions from key Democrats who oppose impeachment.

Some of these Democrats supported the invasion of Iraq: Howard Berman (CA28), Rick Boucher (VA09), Adam Schiff (CA29), Brad Sherman (CA27), and Anthony Weiner (NY09).

But most of these Democrats oppose impeachment because they are cowering in fear of a counterattack from the White House and FOX News: John Conyers (MI14), Artur Davis (AL07), Bill Delahunt (MA10), Zoe Lofgren (CA16), Jerry Nadler (NY08), Linda Sanchez (CA39), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL20), Bobby Scott (VA03), Betty Sutton (OH13), and Mel Watt (NC12).

Only a few Judiciary Democrats understand that the Founding Fathers gave Congress the power of impeachment as the only way to stop a President from defying the Constitution and becoming a dictator, as Bush has done: Robert Wexler (FL19), Tammy Baldwin (WI02), Steve Cohen (TN09), Keith Ellison (MN05), Luis Gutierrez (IL04), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX18), Hank Johnson (GA04), and Maxine Waters (CA35).

If anti-impeachment Democrats get their way, Friday's 2-hour hearing will be the only "impeachment" hearing for this entire Congress - and then Bush will try to pardon himself and everyone else before leaving office next January, just as his father pardoned six Iran-contra criminals.

So it is crucial for all of us - now over 500,000! - to tell our Representatives today to support impeachment by cosponsoring Kucinich's H. Res. 1345:

And if you can do more, please make free calls to every Judiciary Democrat who opposes impeachment through CauseCaller:
Simply enter your phone number and click the "Start Calling" button. (Click "Call me back if I accidentally hang up" in case you hang up by mistake.) In a few seconds, your phone will "magically" ring and CauseCaller will say the name of the first Representative on the list. Listen carefully for the name of each Member so you can repeat the name to the receptionist - or just say "The Representative." Don't hang up between calls - let the receptionists hang up and CauseCaller will dial the next Representative.

If you want to do even more, call your favorite radio or TV talk shows and tell them how important Friday's hearings will be, and how strongly you support impeachment for whichever reasons are most important to you. Prepare your thoughts in advance so you sound informed and determined.

And if you're near Washington DC, join Veterans for Peace to lobby Congress on Thursday and hold a pro-impeachment rally on Friday:

Lots more details and actions here:

Thanks for all you do!

Update 1: The evidence of Bush's war crimes and other impeachable offenses grows daily. Investigative reporter Jane Mayer's new book The Dark Side provides more evidence that Bush authorized torture. The British Parliament accused Bush of torture.

Yet Attorney General Mukasey told Congress he won't prosecute anyone who followed Bush's illegal torture orders. Even worse, Bush's rightwing supporters have begun a propaganda campaign for blanket pardons of everyone in the Bush administration!

I want to thank you for the support which you have given to my efforts to hold this administration accountable for taking us into a war based on lies and for the destruction of the rule of law and the destruction of cherished constitutional principles.Because of your support, this Friday in Washington, DC, I will make a presentation before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives at which time I will make the case that this president has violated his oath of office, violated United States law and international law, has separated our nation from our constitution, and has taken us on a course that has been so profoundly anti-democratic that it has threatened the core of our nation.Because of your support, I have been able to advance this series of matters right to the table of the Judiciary Committee.Because of your support, I have been able to create an opening so we’re finally getting a chance in Washington to discuss the abuses of power, to discuss a war based on lies, to discuss the whole architecture of constitutional principles that have been taken down.Every serious matter that faces the people of this country today can be linked to an administration which is not accountable.For example, the price of gasoline. You know that Vice President Cheney with the permission and blessing of President Bush held secret meetings with leaders of the oil industry where they laid out maps of Iraq far in advance of the attack on Iraq. You know and I know the war was about oil, and if we can force the vice president of the United States to have to testify, we can get the information that is necessary to be able to prove that not only has US law been violated, but that the public trust has been under a continuous assault by an alliance between the White House and the oil companies.You look at the sub-prime lending fiasco with millions of Americans having the dream of home ownership threatened, and you look at an administration that took the cops off the beat at the Securities and Exchange Commission that enabled the Fed to look the other way when they should have been disciplining the banks. The American people had a right to expect the government would protect their interests.When you look at the shakeout in the stock market and all these small investors who are losing their life savings, again the Bush administration and their alliance with interest groups, violating an oath of office, enabling these interest groups to steal from the American people, over and over and over again.For the first time we are going to have a chance to raise these issues in the Judiciary Committee in the context of a hearing at which I am going to present the Articles of Impeachment so that the Committee cannot say, well, they just didn’t know. We are going to force this issue because of you.We are in danger of losing our country to war based on lies, to destruction of our civil liberties, but it is your commitment and your willingness to stand up and speak out that has enabled me to take a stand and to say not only are we going to save what is right and save what is dear to us, but we are going to hold this administration accountable so that it never happens again.This is truly our moment. Friday is the beginning. Thank you for supporting this effort with signing petitions, with your emails and your letters and your phone calls.I pledge to you that I will continue my efforts to defend a way of life that the American people have a right to expect – to expect to have a government they can call their own – to expect to have a government that will tell them the truth – to expect to have a government that is worthy of the tradition of democracy.Thank you.
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Obama in Iraq

Juan Cole for Informed Comment writes about Barack Obama's visit to Iraq, as well as the recent attempt by the Bush administration to "muddy the waters this weekend regarding the interview of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with Der Spiegel, in which he expressed approval of Barack Obama's plan to get US troops out of Iraq within 16 months of next January." (Truthout)

Juan Cole, Informed Comment, reports:
"Der Spiegel proves al-Maliki story correct; series of bombings hit Baghdad.

"Despite all the talk about Iraq being "calm," I'd like to point out that the month just before the last visit Barack Obama made to Iraq (he went in January, 2006), there were 537 civilian and ISF [Iraqi Security Force] Iraqi casualties. In June of this year, 2008, there were 554, according to AP. These are official statistics gathered passively that probably only capture about 10 percent of the true toll.

That is, the Iraqi death toll is actually still worse now than the last time Obama was in Iraq! (See the bombings and shootings listed below for Sunday). The hype around last year's troop escalation obscures a simple fact: that Obama formed his views about the need for the US to leave Iraq at a time when its security situation was very similar to what it is now! Why a return to the bad situation in late 2005 and early 2006 should be greeted by the GOP as the veritable coming of the Messiah is beyond me. You have people like Joe Lieberman saying silly things like if it weren't for the troop escalation, Obama wouldn't be able to visit Iraq. Uh, he visited it before the troop escalation, just fine...."

Continue reading.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It’s the Economic Stupidity, Stupid

Frank Rich (NYTimes) writes:
"THE best thing to happen to John McCain was for the three network anchors to leave him in the dust this week while they chase Barack Obama on his global Lollapalooza tour. Were voters forced to actually focus on Mr. McCain’s response to our spiraling economic crisis at home, the prospect of his ascension to the Oval Office could set off a panic that would make the IndyMac Bank bust in Pasadena look as merry as the Rose Bowl...."

Continue reading.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

John McCain: "It's All In Your Head"

Courtesy of
We've been listening to John McCain and George Bush talk about the economy, and we've noticed a pattern: they keep saying the problems are all in our heads.

McCain's campaign co-chair Phil Gramm had to step down because of controversy over his comment that we were in the middle of a "mental recession." But the truth is, John McCain threw Phil Gramm under the bus for saying, less artfully, what he himself has said repeatedly. See it by clicking the video below. Once you've watched, pass it on!

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Real-Life ‘24’ of Summer 2008

This is a MUST READ:

Frank Rich ( reports:

WE know what a criminal White House looks like from “The Final Days,” Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s classic account of Richard Nixon’s unraveling. The cauldron of lies, paranoia and illegal surveillance boiled over, until it was finally every man for himself as desperate courtiers scrambled to save their reputations and, in a few patriotic instances, their country.

“The Final Days” was published in 1976, two years after Nixon abdicated in disgrace. With the Bush presidency, no journalist (or turncoat White House memoirist) is waiting for the corpse to be carted away. The latest and perhaps most chilling example arrives this week from Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, long a relentless journalist on the war-on-terror torture beat. Her book “The Dark Side” connects the dots of her own past reporting and that of her top-tier colleagues (including James Risen and Scott Shane of The New York Times) to portray a White House that, like its prototype, savaged its enemies within almost as ferociously as it did the Constitution.

Some of “The Dark Side” seems right out of “The Final Days,” minus Nixon’s operatic boozing and weeping. We learn, for instance, that in 2004 two conservative Republican Justice Department officials had become “so paranoid” that “they actually thought they might be in physical danger.” The fear of being wiretapped by their own peers drove them to speak in code.

The men were John Ashcroft’s deputy attorney general, James Comey, and an assistant attorney general, Jack Goldsmith. Their sin was to challenge the White House’s don, Dick Cheney, and his consigliere, his chief of staff David Addington, when they circumvented the Geneva Conventions to make torture the covert law of the land. Mr. Comey and Mr. Goldsmith failed to stop the “torture memos” and are long gone from the White House. But Vice President Cheney and Mr. Addington remain enabled by a president, attorney general (Michael Mukasey) and C.I.A. director (Michael Hayden) who won’t shut the door firmly on torture even now.

Nixon parallels take us only so far, however. “The Dark Side” is scarier than “The Final Days” because these final days aren’t over yet and because the stakes are much higher. Watergate was all about a paranoid president’s narcissistic determination to cling to power at any cost. In Ms. Mayer’s portrayal of the Bush White House, the president is a secondary, even passive, figure, and the motives invoked by Mr. Cheney to restore Nixon-style executive powers are theoretically selfless. Possessed by the ticking-bomb scenarios of television’s “24,” all they want to do is protect America from further terrorist strikes.

So what if they cut corners, the administration’s last defenders argue. While prissy lawyers insist on habeas corpus and court-issued wiretap warrants, the rest of us are being kept safe by the Cheney posse.

But are we safe? As Al Qaeda and the Taliban surge this summer, that single question is even more urgent than the moral and legal issues attending torture.

On those larger issues, the evidence is in, merely awaiting adjudication. Mr. Bush’s 2005 proclamation that “we do not torture” was long ago revealed as a lie. Antonio Taguba, the retired major general who investigated detainee abuse for the Army, concluded that “there is no longer any doubt” that “war crimes were committed.” Ms. Mayer uncovered another damning verdict: Red Cross investigators flatly told the C.I.A. last year that America was practicing torture and vulnerable to war-crimes charges.

Top Bush hands are starting to get sweaty about where they left their fingerprints. Scapegoating the rotten apples at the bottom of the military’s barrel may not be a slam-dunk escape route from accountability anymore.

No wonder the former Rumsfeld capo, Douglas Feith, is trying to discredit a damaging interview he gave to the British lawyer Philippe Sands for another recent and essential book on what happened, “Torture Team.” After Mr. Sands previewed his findings in the May issue of Vanity Fair, Mr. Feith protested he had been misquoted — apparently forgetting that Mr. Sands had taped the interview. Mr. Feith and Mr. Sands are scheduled to square off in a House hearing this Tuesday.

So hot is the speculation that war-crimes trials will eventually follow in foreign or international courts that Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, has publicly advised Mr. Feith, Mr. Addington and Alberto Gonzales, among others, to “never travel outside the U.S., except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel.” But while we wait for the wheels of justice to grind slowly, there are immediate fears to tend. Ms. Mayer’s book helps cement the case that America’s use of torture has betrayed not just American values but our national security, right to the present day.

In her telling, a major incentive for Mr. Cheney’s descent into the dark side was to cover up for the Bush White House’s failure to heed the Qaeda threat in 2001. Jack Cloonan, a special agent for the F.B.I.’s Osama bin Laden unit until 2002, told Ms. Mayer that Sept. 11 was “all preventable.” By March 2000, according to the C.I.A.’s inspector general, “50 or 60 individuals” in the agency knew that two Al Qaeda suspects — soon to be hijackers — were in America. But there was no urgency at the top. Thomas Pickard, the acting F.B.I. director that summer, told Ms. Mayer that when he expressed his fears about the Qaeda threat to Mr. Ashcroft, the attorney general snapped, “I don’t want to hear about that anymore!”

After 9/11, our government emphasized “interrogation over due process,” Ms. Mayer writes, “to pre-empt future attacks before they materialized.” But in reality torture may well be enabling future attacks. This is not just because Abu Ghraib snapshots have been used as recruitment tools by jihadists. No less destructive are the false confessions inevitably elicited from tortured detainees. The avalanche of misinformation since 9/11 has compromised prosecutions, allowed other culprits to escape and sent the American military on wild-goose chases. The coerced “confession” to the murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to take one horrific example, may have been invented to protect the real murderer.

The biggest torture-fueled wild-goose chase, of course, is the war in Iraq. Exhibit A, revisited in “The Dark Side,” is Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an accused Qaeda commander whose torture was outsourced by the C.I.A. to Egypt. His fabricated tales of Saddam’s biological and chemical W.M.D. — and of nonexistent links between Iraq and Al Qaeda — were cited by President Bush in his fateful Oct. 7, 2002, Cincinnati speech ginning up the war and by Mr. Powell in his subsequent United Nations presentation on Iraqi weaponry. Two F.B.I. officials told Ms. Mayer that Mr. al-Libi later explained his lies by saying: “They were killing me. I had to tell them something.”

That “something” was crucial in sending us into the quagmire that, five years later, has empowered Iran and compromised our ability to counter the very terrorists that torture was supposed to thwart. As The Times reported two weeks ago, Iraq has monopolized our military and intelligence resources to the point where we don’t have enough predator drones or expert C.I.A. field agents to survey the tribal areas where terrorists are amassing in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the threat to America from Al Qaeda is “comparable to what it faced on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Seth Jones, a RAND Corporation terrorism expert and Pentagon consultant. The difference between now and then is simply that the base of operations has moved, “roughly the difference from New York to Philadelphia.”

Yet once again terrorism has fallen off America’s map, landing at or near the bottom of voters’ concerns in recent polls. There were major attacks in rapid succession last week in Pakistan, Afghanistan (the deadliest in Kabul since we “defeated” the Taliban in 2001) and at the American consulate in Turkey. Who listened to this ticking time bomb? It’s reminiscent of July 2001, when few noticed that the Algerian convicted of trying to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on the eve of the millennium testified that he had been trained in bin Laden’s Afghanistan camps as part of a larger plot against America.

In last Sunday’s Washington Post, the national security expert Daniel Benjamin sounded an alarm about the “chronic” indecisiveness and poor execution of Bush national security policy as well as the continuing inadequacies of the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Benjamin must feel a sinking sense of déjà vu. Exactly seven years ago in the same newspaper, just two months before 9/11, he co-wrote an article headlined “Defusing a Time Bomb” imploring the Bush administration in vain to pay attention to Afghanistan because that country’s terrorists “continue to pose the most dangerous threat to American lives.”

And so we’re back where we started in the summer of 2001, with even shark attacks and Chandra Levy’s murder (courtesy of a new Washington Post investigation) returning to the news. We are once again distracted and unprepared while the Taliban and bin Laden’s minions multiply in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This, no less than the defiling of the Constitution, is the legacy of an administration that not merely rationalized the immorality of torture but shackled our national security to the absurdity that torture could easily fix the terrorist threat.

That’s why the Bush White House’s corruption in the end surpasses Nixon’s. We can no longer take cold comfort in the Watergate maxim that the cover-up was worse than the crime. This time the crime is worse than the cover-up, and the punishment could rain down on us all.

The Death of Reaganomics

E. J. Dionne reports (Truthdig):
"The biggest political story of 2008 is getting little coverage. It involves the collapse of assumptions that have dominated our economic debate for three decades.

Since the Reagan years, free-market clichés have passed for sophisticated economic analysis. But in the current crisis, these ideas are falling, one by one, as even conservatives recognize that capitalism is ailing...."

Continue Reading.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stalling on Impeachment

Veterans For Peace in a dramatic confrontation with Chairman Conyers over his indecision on impeachment
"Since June 9, when Rep. Kucinich's introduced 35 articles of impeachment, the articles have remained shelved in the House Judiciary Committee. Chairman Conyers has the ability to bring the articles to a vote in the committee, but he is undecided on a course of action. In a June meeting with Veterans For Peace, Rep. Conyers promised to present his decision on impeachment in early July. However, Conyers failed to present such as decision during a meeting held with Veterans For Peace (VFP) on Wednesday, July 9. Members of VFP believe that Conyers is deploying stall tactics and that he has no intention of moving forward with impeachment. Conyers, once again, has promised to present his decision in a meeting planned for July 25."

The Real News Network - Story

Stop Big Media: Veto the FCC New Rules

After receiving thousands of your phone calls and more than 250,000 letters, the Senate rejected the FCC's plan to let the biggest media companies get even bigger. Tell the House of Representative to take a stand and veto the FCC.

Take Action: Tell the House to Veto the FCC | digg story

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

"Get FISA Right" response to Senator Obama on myBO

The following letter was written by members of Get FISA Right, a group of Obama supporters committed to protecting Americans from unwarranted surveillance:

Dear Senator Obama,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to us with your post "My Position On FISA" dated July 3rd, 2008. In your response, you pledged to "listen to [our] concerns, take them seriously, and seek to earn [our] ongoing support," and in that spirit, we would like to continue this conversation. We ask that you help transfer our passion and political activism into getting the FISA bill right -- now....
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Monday, July 07, 2008



Firedoglake � FISA: Dialing For The Rule Of Law:
"Tomorrow is the vote on the FISA bill. �What say we welcome back Senators and their staffs from the 4th of July holiday with a rousing �bit of patriotic support for the rule of law?.... �" For info on action you can take now (including links to call tools to help you get in touch with your Senators, continue reading.
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Friday, July 04, 2008

House Judiciary Committee: Rove Must Testify

Think Progress (via AlterNet) reports:
"Former Bush adviser must tell Congress what he knows about U.S. Attorney purge, Don Siegelman prosecution...."
Photo Credit: AlterNet

The Secret War in Iran: Part 3

The Real News Network reports:
"Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military intelligence and congressional sources. In his recent article "Preparing the Battlefield," Seymour Hersh, investigative journalist and famed author for The New Yorker, says that the leadership of the Democratic Party has authorized spending over $400 million in support of a presidential finding that greatly expands the use of secret operations inside Iran, including perhaps the use of lethal force. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program. "This president has read it this way: anything that has to do with the military, even if it's intelligence collection by the military, is part of warfare, preparing the battlefield," Hersh tells The Real News Network. "And they don't have to tell Congress anything." In this three-part interview with Paul Jay, Hersh says that a Gallup poll suggests that most Americans would rather the nation talk to Iran rather than go to war, in light of the current conditions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The problem lies in getting more public support. "So one of the things the special operations troops are doing is trying to escalate the amount of incidents inside Iran, trying to get more stuff going, more terrorism, more bombings, more internal disturbances, and hopes, maybe, in the fantasy football world in the vice president's office, in hopes that the Iranian government would crack down on the minorities big time" which would not only mean bad press for them, but give America a vehicle for going in."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Give 'em Hell, Russ!

Russ Feingold Responds to FISA Bill:
"I teased some of my colleagues and said we can celebrate the Constitution on July 4th and maybe when we come back you'll decide not to tear it up."

-Russ Feingold on FISA