Monthly Archives: June 2006

Tour de Who?

From Scout:

Well the next three weeks I’ll be glued to OLN watching the Tour de France. But it will be a much different Tour than what I was anticipating due to cycling’s biggest doping scandal to date I believe. This really is huge. The 2 top contenders were implicated in the doping scandal and are out of the Tour. Here are the riders booted out so far…Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) Ivan Basso (CSC) Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile), Francisco Mancebo (Ag2r) the entire Astana-Wurth team including Alexandre Vinokourov and Joseba Beloki. Those are some big names in the sport. Basso and Ullrich were the top favorites for this Tour.

I had been looking forward to this Tour because there would be no Lance thus more coming into the race hoping perhaps they could win…. which makes for a more exciting race. Last year’s Tour was a snore. So now there really are no favorites contending it will be an even more wide open race. This scandal is bad for the sport but nothing surprising. It is well “known” that cycling is a dirty sport. The only surprise to me is that they have apparently caught so many and they are booting them out of the Tour.

So it will be a very different race. I think it will be more interesting and exciting. Though I don’t really care about nationalities, this could end up being a big one for the Americans…. Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie and Bobby Julich.

UPDATE: The total numbers of racers implicated in the scandal is at least 37…. “Spanish media outlets printed a longer version that included 32 active riders and five retired riders.” Some of those were not to be in the Tour. Apparently 22 riders may end up being kicked out by the start tomorrow.

Holiday Weekend Open Thread

What’s going on?

I mean, other than the usual.

A.

Friday Ferretblogging: Nap Edition

Stripe would like to let you know he’s not getting out of bed for less than $10,000 a day.

A.

‘Retroactive Treason’

Molly Gordy:

I was doing an investigation on another topic in Washington Heights, a section of Manhattan primarily populated by immigrants from the Dominican Republic. I noticed that the largest money-wiring stores had closed. Residents said they’d been shut down by the feds and their owners arrested for laundering drug money. I called the joint federal-city task force that investigates money laundering. After trying to dissuade me (“It’s not a story” etc) they realized that a story in a major paper might help them get permanent funding for their experimental program tracking drug money moving overseas. They gave me the details of the arrests and the program but told me I needed approval from FINCEN, the federal agency for financial law enforcement, in order to print the story.

The FINCEN people greeted my appearance with apoplexy. Fortunately as I walked in their headquarters I noticed a portrait of the new U.S. Undersecretary of the Treasury for Law Enforcement, Raymond “Bulldog” Kelly. A short phone call to the Big Apple’s savvy once-and-future police commissioner did the job. Kelly’s initial reluctance dissolved as he realized that if one reporter had the story, others soon would too, so it was better to get in front of the news and use it to his advantage. My story ran on the front page two days later, where it was seen by 1 million Daily News readers and was picked up by local, national and cable news.

Instead of squawking, Treasury officials placed copies of the article on the desks of every member of Congress. Within a month, the program’s funding was doubled, and eventually it was made permanent.

Treasury Undersecretary Kelly actually sent me a thank-you note after the story ran, and the task force members actually chipped in for flowers — two events that have never otherwise occurred in my 30 years of reporting.

Strangely, the War on Drugs was not lost due to my little scoop. In fact, the program was even more successful once it was made public — so much so that in 2001 it was expanded for use in the War on Terrorism.

How times change. Lucky for me you can’t be charged with retroactive treason.

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again, though. The administration’s reaction to its critics says far more about the administration than it does about the critics.

A.

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Most of today’s gaggle was taken up with questions about the stunning loss the Bush Assministration suffered in the Supreme Court. Pony Blow’s line is that it’s not a stunning loss, just a minor change in direction, but no one is buying that.

First off, we now know why Chimpy was so completely uninformed during his little presser with the Japanese PM.

Q Can you describe for us — the President mentioned the drive-by briefing —

MR. SNOW: Yes. I conducted that. I helped conduct it.

Overreah, or Reacharound?

Q This administration has said that under the Constitution, at a time of war, the President has had very far-reaching power to protect the American people, and the Court seems to disagree and says the President overreached in that power.

MR. SNOW: You know, it’s — overreached is the headline, it’s not the way it’s been written by the Court. I mean, I’ve got the opinion here, and I’d defy anybody to come up with a very quick and simple analysis of the varied holdings in here. You’ve got people agreeing and disagreeing in part. So I think what the Court is saying is that it wants to make sure that there’s congressional authorization, and it also is concerned about comporting with the Geneva Conventions and also the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And those are matters that will be taken under advisement.

Q And those are things that this White House has basically said it did not have to do, that executive has the authority to pursue this war without dealing with those other institutions.

MR. SNOW: The Court disagreed with that.

[snip]

Q Then as far as the congressional oversight, could you just flesh out for me —

MR. SNOW: It’s not oversight, it’s authorization.

Q Authorization. Could you flesh out for me what that does —

MR. SNOW: I wish I could. I think what it means is that they want to make sure that Congress authorizes, pursuant to Congress’ obligations when it comes to declaring war and laying conditions for a war, it wants Congress to authorize the way to proceed forward in terms of bringing to justice those who have been brought in from the battlefield.

Q So doesn’t that, by definition, mean the administration overreached in setting up its initial approach?

MR. SNOW: I think it would say that the administration — the Supreme Court has disagreed with the approach we’ve taken. You may — I don’t know how you’d say “overreached.” Apply whatever adjective or whatever verb you want, the Supreme Court has said that it disagrees with the way in which the commissions were convened, and has laid down some guidelines for proceeding.

Obsession continues, Read More…

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Civil War

From Holden:

Oh, it’s on, baby. It is on. And US forces are stuck in the middle.

Intense clashes erupted today between Shiite and Sunni Arab fighters in a village north of Baghdad, highlighting the sectarian violence that is fracturing Iraq. American soldiers also took part in the battles, but it was unclear exactly what role they played.

One local resident, Abdul Hadi al-Dulaimi, said that the village, which is mostly Sunni Arab, was being raided by Shiite policemen working with militiamen to take revenge for a recent suicide bombing. American troops were siding with the Shiites and had deployed aircraft and ground troops, Mr. Dulaimi said. The fighting raged into the night.

An American military spokesman in Baghdad, Maj. William Willhoite, said in the evening that “there is something going on up there,” but had few further details.

Right Not Popular

From Holden:

I suppose because they are ugly and everyone hates them.

An odd thing seems to have happened to mighty right-wing talking head media juggernaut. They are still talking, but fewer people seem to be listening — at least on the Internet.

[snip]

During the past three months, for instance, http://rushlimbaugh.com traffic ranking has declined 18 percent. He still huffs and puffs away daily on radio, but advertisers might want to double check the size of his audience. If the bottom has dropped out on him online, it likely has had a similar trend line with his radio show.

Even Fox News, that gold standard of right-wing media, is down 13 percent.

[snip]

Ann Coulter is coining money by attacking widows and orphans — a new game for her since she’s run out of Democrats, living and dead, to defame and verbally pillage. You would think with all of the attention the promotion of her new book has given her would raise visitor numbers at her Web site, http://anncoulter.com. Nope. Traffic there is down 10 percent.

The audience chart reversal seems to be common across the entire right-wing side of the Internet viewing board. Billoreilly.com — http://billoreilly.com — has dropped 40 percent in the past three months. Townhall.com — http://townhall.com — that once popular center for right-wing news and commentary, has fallen by 24 percent. The Washington Times Web site is down by 27 percent. And Matt Drudge, once the hottest right-wing name in Internet sites? Alexa.com says http://drudgereport.com is down 21 percent.

Could it be that Internet users are getting tired of political sites in general? Maybe so. But http://moveon.org is up 13 percent in the same period.

War Crimes, Bitch!

From Holden:

Marty Lederman at SCOTUSblog says the Hamdan Decision is “HUGE”:

The Court appears to have held that Common Article 3 of Geneva aplies to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today’s ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons “shall in all circumstances be treated humanely,” and that “[t]o this end,” certain specified acts “are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever”—including “cruel treatment and torture,” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” This standard, not limited to the restrictions of the due process clause, is much more restrictive than even the McCain Amendment.

[snip]

This almost certainly means that the CIA’s interrogation regime is unlawful, and indeed, that many techniques the Administation has been using, such as waterboarding and hypothermia (and others) violate the War Crimes Act (because violations of Common Article 3 are deemed war crimes).

Read Marty’s entire post for the details.

UPDATE: Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld decision is here (PDF).

In Support of Freedom of the Press…Nixon on the NYT

From Scout:

“Hell I wouldn’t prosecute the Times. My view is to prosecute the Goddamn pricks that gave it to ’em.”

–Richard Nixon (Nixon Tapes)

As much as the press has brought this upon themselves for not standing up to this administration I do feel compellled to offer support to the New York Times. The hate being spewed at the Times is irrational, undemocratic and unforgivable.

So I offer this 2 minute video which includes Richard Nixon speaking in 1973 about secrecy and leaking to the newspapers. (the NYT which printed the Pentagon Papers) It shows how far down we’ve gone when there is a small bit of perspective to be gained from the man who had an enemy’s list for the press. And if Nixon would have had the mouth breathing wingnuts at his back it may have been different. Despite the differences involved in this case much is still the same….. Nothing’s riding on this except the, uh, first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country (sound familiar)

UPDATE: Nixon is discussing short term secrecy in conducting foreign policy talks. That was far different than his secrecy to cover up illegal activity, permanently. There is a huge difference.

Music: Bob Dylan…Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright

Kerik To Plead Guilty

From Holden:

The man George Bush chose to oversee the reconstruction of Iraqi police forces and to succeed Tom Ridge as head of Fatherland Security is set to plead guilty to corruption charges.

Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, is close to reaching an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to having accepted improper gifts totaling tens of thousands of dollars while he was a city official in the late 1990’s, two people with information on the plea negotiations said yesterday.

Under the proposed agreement, Mr. Kerik would plead guilty to failing to report accepting roughly $200,000 in renovations to his Bronx apartment — a violation of the city’s administrative code. The work, officials have said, was paid for by a New Jersey construction company that the city had long accused of having ties to organized crime.

Mr. Kerik, 50, who accepted the gift when he served as correction commissioner under Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, will not face jail time, but is expected to pay a substantial fine, those with information about the case said. He is also expected to admit having failed to report receiving a loan.

[snip]

The builder who did the work, Tim Woods of Woods Restoration Services, testified that Interstate paid for roughly $200,000 in renovations to the apartment, in Riverdale, his lawyer said. Through his lawyer, Mr. Kerik previously has said that he paid all the bills he received from the builder, which he has said amounted to roughly $30,000.

The New Jersey gambling officials, who have been investigating Interstate for nearly 10 years, contended in the court papers last year that Mr. Kerik had sought to help a subsidiary of the company obtain a New York City license to operate a construction debris transfer station. But the license was ultimately denied by city regulators.

They said in the court papers that Mr. Kerik, on Interstate’s behalf, had met with the city’s chief trade waste regulator, Raymond V. Casey, from whom the company was seeking the license. Mr. Kerik also made his office at the Correction Department available for Interstate’s meetings with Mr. Casey’s investigators, according to the court papers.

Mr. Kerik also gave advice about Interstate’s pending regulatory issues, the officials said, and the company’s license applications were faxed to his office.

Hat-tip to QuentinCompson.

A Coalition Weaker than Limbaugh’s Dick

From Holden:

When Eastern European states eager for enhanced trade relations with the US start pulling out of Iraq you know the game is over.

Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said Thursday he had ordered the defense minister to withdraw Romania’s 890 troops from Iraq because of high casualty levels and the cost of the operation.

“The death and serious injury of Romanian soldiers is becoming a concern,” said Tariceanu. He said he had informed President Traian Basescu of his decision and would also inform U.S. authorities.

Defense Minister Teodor Atanasiu said the operation would save Romania $980 million. “The financial side should not be ignored,” Tariceanu said.

[snip]

Last week a Romanian soldier was killed in Afghanistan, the fourth Romanian soldier to die since 2003. Romania has about 700 peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan, and 890 in Iraq. One Romanian soldier has died in Iraq.

Terrorist State

From Holden:

Juan Cole clearly describes the harm done to American interests by the actions of our Israeli allies:

I am upset about the renewed crisis in Palestine because it is an emotional issue and will spill over into Sunni Arab Iraq. It is likely that pro-Palestinian Sunni guerrillas will kill some US troops specifically to avenge the people of Gaza. This is one reason I am complaining about the massively disproportional character of the Israeli response. It has the potential of further endangering American lives in the region.

Personally, I don’t see how knocking out power to half the population of Gaza will lead to the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier. Collective punishment is a war crime that neither the US nor the UN should ignore.

Short Odds

From Holden:

The folks at online gambling site BetUS.com have posted the following odds related to the further adventures of Limpy Limbaugh:

Which drug/medication will [Limbaugh] be caught with next?

Marijuana: 2/1

LSD: 8/1

Cocaine: 4/1

Heroin: 6/1

Morphine: 1/1

Viagra: 4/1

Extasy: 12/1

Mushrooms: 10/1

Will he serve jail time because of drugs?

Yes: 6/5

No: 5/8

I’d put my money on Morphine and No.

Do You Get It Now?

Link.

“What we’re talking about is people who are leaking classified information. It’s not news. It’s classified information our government is using to fight terrorists,” said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, of Illinois.

“Loose lips kill American people,” he added.

The nonbinding resolution, released later in the day, said the House “expects the cooperation of all news media organizations in protecting the lives of Americans and the capability of the government to identify, disrupt and capture terrorists by not disclosing classified intelligence programs such as the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program.”

You know, wasn’t too long ago Daniel Okrent was wanking away at the Times, incredibly upset that people would be so freaked out and pissed off at the state of the world to actually flip out at one of his reporters.

Do you get it now, Danny boy? Do you get how wacked out and paranoid the world has become? Do you understand what the rest of us saw coming a few mile markers back, New York Times? Do you get what you’re dealing with, Mr. Journalism Professor? Do you understand now, why I listened to all your talk about high-mindedness and civility, all your talk about working together with the powers that be, all your talk about a “cease-fire” with the administration, and was torn between laughter and head-pounding rage?

Do you get it?

THEY HATE YOU.

No, that’s not me being hysterical. That’s not me being unhinged. That’s me taking a look at the day’s news and saying well, if this isn’t the logical conclusion to six years of Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, I don’t know what is. If this isn’t the ultimate expression of the attitude of Assrocket talking about the “Pulitzer Prize for felony murder” and his shit-shack being named Time’s Blog of the Year, I don’t know what is.

This is what happens when you ignore the warning signs. This is what happens when you hold yourself above the fight and pretend it’s all too much for your tiny brains to handle. This is what happens when you don’t dignify things with answers. This is what happens. You get called killers on the floor of the House.

And it doesn’t matter that it’s ridiculous, it doesn’t matter that you know and I know what you’re for and why you did what you did. It doesn’t matter that everybody and their fucking brother knew that the Bush administration’s main thrust of terrorism prosecutions came from following organizational and personal money trails, and that we knew that because they told us so. What does matter? Is that this is what you get when you don’t fight back. They called you whores and you shrugged, so now they call you killers.

Loose lips kill Americans, quoth Fat Denny Hastert, who grows more and more extreme as his re-election bid nears. You hear that? The Speaker of the House just called you murderers. Maybe you can rise above it. Maybe you can take the high road, just one more time, as people write in to the paper demanding, quite literally, your heads. Maybe if you just stay quiet, just stay still, they won’t hit you anymore.

Maybe, maybe, maybe, and the sun goes down and comes up again. What will they call you tomorrow, if they call you killers today? When do you start speaking up? When do you start fighting back? When do you realize that Cassandra may have been noisy and rude but that she was, unlike your homegrown oracle, actually proved fucking right? When, if not on the day the people who propelled us into this war accuse you of being the true merchants of death, your offices an abbatoir of newsprint and ink?

Is this what they have to say, to get your attention?

Do you get it? Do you get it now?

A.

Cafferty

From Scout:

Lynn Elber of AP has a profile of CNN’s Jack Cafferty at SFgate.com. (via mediabistro)

Here are some quotes from Jack…

–“I think that’s what viewers pick up,” he said. “I’m not some hair-sprayed, programmed anchorette who’s wound up for an hour, wheeled into the desk and sat there and the computer turns me on and off and the script comes out like it’s supposed to.”

–“I thought (anchor) Wolf Blitzer was going to eat his script when I asked if Tom DeLay had been indicted yet, because he hadn’t been,” Cafferty recalled, adding: “If he hadn’t been indicted he probably should have and I hope he goes to prison and sits there for the rest of his life. He’s a jerk.”

–“I tend to be independent. I went from cheering George Bush on to thinking he’s one of the great failures to ever occupy the White House,” Cafferty said.

–“It doesn’t matter whether I like the labels or not. People have their opinions and that’s fine. … I’m not working on an image.”

Jack’s the best part of the Situation Room

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Finally! Pony Blow had some Good News! on Iraq for us in today’s gaggle:

MR. SNOW: Meanwhile, the U.S. military says that, in fact, it will meet its training goal for Iraqi security forces by the end of the year.

But upon further examination, the news is not that good after all.

Q Tony, I was at the briefing at the Pentagon yesterday by General Dempsey, and it was actually a very sobering briefing, because when he talked about the Iraqi troops, he talked about their lack of equipment, the problems with attrition, and in response to my question, the biggest problem, leadership, not being able to find good leaders to lead the Iraqi troops that we train. And when he talked about them being equipped and ready for the end of the year, wasn’t ready to do anything independently — he said independent is not a word that applies now or anytime soon to these Iraqi forces.

MR. SNOW: That is correct.

Q Is the President concerned about the lack of progress, even more than three years into this?

MR. SNOW: Well, you are defining it as a lack of progress. I think what you’re talking about is basic training levels. But the President is perfectly aware of the need for developing leadership cadres. As you know, we have embedded teams working with training mid-level officers to, in fact, become capable of serving as unit commanders in Iraq.

Q How quickly is a case of progress —

MR. SNOW: Well, you do it as quickly as you can. And there is certainly no foot-dragging on the part of our guys, or I think of the Iraqis. And, again, I think you get an interesting new dynamic with the new government, because it becomes something more tangible also for Iraqi forces. They know that they’ve got a Minister of Defense to whom they answer. They know that they have a civilian chain of command that ends up with the Prime Minister. All those — who knows what kind of impact they’re going to have. The answer is, we are still determined to do everything as quickly, but as thoroughly and effectively as possible to enable Iraqi military forces to take full control of securing Iraq. This also includes the police forces, as you know, and that’s also been part of the ongoing dialogue. But we are certainly —

Q So the President is satisfied with the current pace?

MR. SNOW: The President — satisfied or dissatisfied, they’re moving as quickly as they can. So the most important thing is our forces are doing everything they can to help Iraq get trained up as quickly as possible, period.

The Pony Blow Show continues, Read More…

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Taking the Pulse of America’s Wang

From Holden:

There’s a new Strategic Vision poll of 1200 likely voters in Florida out today. As I recall Strategic Visions largely does polls for Republicans.

Do you approve or disapprove of President Bush’s overall job performance?

Approve 38%

Disapprove 53%

Undecided 9%

Do you view President Bush as a conservative in the mode of Ronald Reagan? (Republicans Only)

Yes 15%

No 60%

Undecided 25%

If Condoleeza Rice were to run for President in 2008, whom would you support for the Republican nomination in 2008? (Republicans only)

Rudy Giuliani 33%

John McCain 21%

Condoleeza Rice 14%

George Allen 6%

Mitt Romney 4%

Newt Gingrich 4%

Bill Frist 2%

George Pataki 1%

Rick Santorum 1%

Chuck Hagel 1%

Undecided 13%

Would you like to see the United States Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade?

Yes 36%

No 56%

Undecided 8%

Are you satisfied with the Republican Senate candidates for the United States Senate? (Republicans Only)

Satisfied 15%

Dissatisfied 71%

Undecided 14%

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Katherine Harris?

Favorable 20%

Unfavorable 58%

Undecided 22%

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Bill Nelson?

Favorable 48%

Unfavorable 14%

Undecided 38%

If the election were held today for United States Senate, whom would you support, Bill Nelson, the Democrat or Katherine Harris, the Republican?

Bill Nelson 61%

Katherine Harris 26%

Undecided 13%

Doctor Shopping

From Holden:

Just can’t help himself.

Prosecutors in late April charged [Rush Limpbaugh] with the crime of “doctor shopping” — deceiving two or more doctors to write simultaneous scripts for pain pills — but agreed to drop the charge after 18 months if Limbaugh completed substance-abuse treatment.

[snip]

Limbaugh’s attorney, Roy Black, has said the two doctors prescribed the Viagra under their names to protect his privacy.

Why would anyone need two prescriptions for Viagra?

Wake me when Congress goes back to work on the people’s business

From Scout:

Go read a good post on bad dreams from Oyster….

The other night I dozed off and suffered through a terrible dream.

I was in Hawaii, watching a perverse marital ceremony.

There were two men dressed in American flags, and they were exchanging vows on the top of an active volcano. Somehow, I “knew” that one of the grooms was an illegal immigrant. I also “knew” that the other groom had arranged his affairs so that the ‘death tax’ would absolutely ravage his large estate. Don’t ask me how. But despite all this knowledge, I was utterly paralyzed in horror. I could neither voice an objection, nor could I turn away from the degenerate scene.

READ the Rest

And poor Oyster will be dreaming of Pimps decked out in 1040A forms tonight…

WASHINGTON (AP) – Pimps and sex traffickers could soon find themselves being chased by tax collectors, not just the vice squad.

Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, wants the Internal Revenue Service to chase after pimps and sex traffickers with the same fervor it stalked gangster Al Capone for tax evasion.

Supremes Invalidate Republican District

From Holden:

The New York Times says that the Supreme Court threw out the map for District 23, currently occupied by Republican Congressman Henry Bonilla. Let’s see how this plays out, it would be nice to see a new map combine with the backlash against Republican immigrant-baching and put this seat in Democratic hands, although it’s a long shot as Bonilla is a strong incumbent.