Saturday, January 21, 2006

Blog Round Up Saturday January 21, 2006

Michael Moore swings back at Chris Matthews:

Seeing The Forest on another MSNBC anchor:
Press Ignored Murder Mystery

The Heretik summarizes the Maryland Moment:
Small World

Twisty Faster with another Patriarchy Smackdown:
A Cult Is A Cult Is A Cult

That's it for today, I'm heading out to enjoy another global-warmed 50 degree January day in New England. Headed to the Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston, where yesterday I spotted a pair of bluebirds. When was the last time you saw a bluebird? Was it in January?

All Together Now

Beatles - All Together Now Lyrics

One, two, three, four
Can I have a little more?
five, six, seven eight nine ten I love you.

A, B, C, D
Can I bring my friend to tea?
E, F, G H I J I love you.

Sail the ship, Jump the tree
Skip the rope, Look at me

All together now....

Black, white, green, red
Can I take my friend to bed?
Pink, brown, yellow orange blue I love you

All together now....

Sail the ship, Jump the tree
Skip the rope, Look at me

All together now....

The Deborah Howell "Maryland Moment" just continues to grow and draw other WaPo reporters and editors down into the soup. Yesterday Presstitute Jim VandeHei wandered in, in a Post Daily Politics online chat when he answered this straightforward question with a typical "it's a bipartisan scandal" answer:

Arlington, Va.: It's a shame that The Post had to shut down it's Abramoff blog due to the obscene comments. But this all got kicked off because of Deborah Howell's lie in her Sunday ombudsman column, accusing the Democrats of taking money from Jack Abramoff. And in the last election cycle, Democrats got less money from Indian tribes then in the past, so even Howell saying that Abramoff "directed" the tribes to give money to Democrats is false. When will The Post issue a retraction of the Sunday column by Howell?

Jim VandeHei: I anticipate a lot of traffic on this issue, so I will address it at the top. As a bit of background, Deborah Howell, our ombudsman, wrote that Democrats got Abramoff money, too. It was a somewhat inartful way of making the point that Abramoff's clients, at his direction, gave money to members of both parties, but more to Republicans than Democrats. Abramoff himself gave exclusively to Republicans. It is a fact Abramoff is a Republican who did more for Republicans than Democrats. It is also a fact he directed money to Democrats, sought help from Democrats and worked with some Democrats on behalf of his clients.

There's no evidence of that, but no bother from our Jim.

Ok, so Jim is a pathetic excuse for a reporter, so we expect this of him, no?

So now enter stage right Post Executive Editor Jim Brady. A high mucky-muck in Postdom, from his title. He's the guy who shut down comments on the on Thursday, because of all the "personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech." (or because of all the criticism; who knows?)

So yesterday, when Jim Brady went looking for an outlet to vent his frustration with the criticism of the Post, where did he go? He is interviewed by Hugh Hewitt, an interview posted here on Radioblogger. Hugh Hewitt? A right-winger from day one.

And Brady and Hewitt say a bunch of crap, better catalogued than I could ever do it, here, by Atrios, firedoglake, steve gilliard, armando at dailykos, and others. Basically he repeats the lie that this is a bipartisan scandal. And rips those of us for ripping Howell, the WaPo, and him.

To which I say to Mr. Brady, Meet Eugene Robinson. Introduce him to Deborah Howell. There is an objective truth to be told here. You just don't get it. Yet.

But that's not the object of this post. Everyone who criticized Brady for doing this interview caterwauled on Hugh Hewitt. And I thought, who is this guy? I really don't know anything about him. On to google, where I find the following astonishing fact, in Michael Hiltzik's LATimes blog about the press:

Of course, Hewitt is the guy who as director of the Nixon Library in 1990 proposed to subject researchers to ideological and partisan screening before allowing them access. Shows how committed he is to open discourse and fair debate, doesn’t it? Provides a clue to his character, doesn't it? Also shows how threadbare is the condition of press criticism out there on the loony right, doesn't it?

And apparently Hewitt was pissed that Hiltzik wrote this,and challenged him to the online equivalent of a duel, so Hiltzik compiled the contemporaneous newspaper accounts of Hewitt's 1990 statement, which included this:

LAT (original article)
8 July 1990

And in a sharp departure from the practice at the eight presidential libraries that are run by the National Archives, scholars and researchers will be evaluated before they are admitted to-or turned away from-the library portion of the facility. Hewitt told The Times that researchers will "obviously, certainly" be screened on the basis of the content and slant of their contemplated work.

"I don't think we'd ever open the doors to Bob Woodward. He's not a responsible journalist," Hewitt said, referring to the Washington Post reporter who teamed with colleague Carl Bernstein to produce Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Watergate scandal. Hewitt said his judgment was based solely on the 1976 book, "The Final Days," in which Woodward and Bernstein wrote of the last months of Nixon's Administration. Hewitt said the book was "unsourced gossip."

This is the guy Washington Post Executive Editor Jim Brady goes to discuss the Maryland Moment? This is the responsible media outlet he turns to? I wonder how Bob Woodward feels about it. Not that I'm defending Bob Woodward's current incarnation (you could have told us you talked to Libby about Plame, Bob), but still. He's still at the WaPo, isn't he? Isn't this like going to your enemies for aid and comfort?

So, in summary, yesterday, Jim Brady, Executive Editor of the Washington Post, was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt, a man who once tried to ban the Washington Post's Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter Bob Woodward from the Nixon Library for, among other things, accusations of writing unsourced gossip, and they discussed liberal criticism of the Washington Post for publishing actually unsourced "facts" which turn out to be: false.

All together now! The past is forgiven. Let us all join in the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Journalism is dead. Long live the corporate media.

Friday, January 20, 2006

There Are Pictures

Of Bush and Abramoff, according to The Washingtonian:

Bush and Abramoff—Say Cheese?

If the White House can’t find the photos, prosecutors already know where to look. The Washingtonian has seen five photos of the President with Abramoff or his family. One photo shows the President and Abramoff shaking hands at a meeting in the Old Executive Office Building, where a bearded-Abramoff introduced Bush to several of the lobbyist’s native-American clients.

Abramoff was named a “pioneer” in the Bush presidential campaign, collecting more than $100,000, in $2,000 maximum increments, for his campaign in 2004. Bush has returned $6,000 of Abramoff’s contributions, the part that would represent the legal limit for Abramoff; his wife, Pam; and a client.

Sources say the photographs are being kept safe. Abramoff would tell prosecutors, if asked, that not only did he know the President, but the President knew the names of Abramoff’s children and asked about them during their meetings. At one such photo session, Bush discussed the fact that both he and Abramoff were fathers of twins.

And twins!

Tip o' the cap to Talking Points Memo

Time Magazine has seen the photos, too, and describes them thusly:

In one shot that TIME saw, Bush appears with Abramoff, several unidentified people and Raul Garza Sr., a Texan Abramoff represented who was then chairman of the Kickapoo Indians, which owned a casino in southern Texas. Garza, who is wearing jeans and a bolo tie in the picture, told TIME that Bush greeted him as "Jefe," or "chief" in Spanish. Another photo shows Bush shaking hands with Abramoff in front of a window and a blue drape. The shot bears Bush's signature, perhaps made by a machine. Three other photos are of Bush, Abramoff and, in each view, one of the lobbyist's sons (three of his five children are boys). A sixth picture shows several Abramoff children with Bush and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who is now pushing to tighten lobbying laws after declining to do so last year when the scandal was in its early stages.

Whale Sighting!

Whale spotted in central London
A seven-tonne whale has made its way up the Thames to central London, where it is being watched by riverside crowds

The 16-18ft (5m) northern bottle-nosed whale, which is usually found in deep sea waters, has been seen as far upstream as Chelsea.

Update 1/22/06: The whale died. Lost whale dies after rescue bid

You Did a Heckuva Job, Brownie

You too, Bushie.

More than 3,200 still listed as missing after Katrina

A Little Good News

$87,000 was raised for Dick & Rick Hoyt:

A boost for uplifting pair

HOPKINTON -- Dick and Rick Hoyt, the father-and-son Boston Marathon running team who had fallen on hard times, enjoyed a reversal of fortune last night.

About 150 friends and supporters presented the pair with a check for $87,000. Some of the money will go toward a specially equipped van for Rick Hoyt, 43, who is quadriplegic and needs the van to transport his equipment. The rest will go into a trust fund that will pay for his future care. The Hopkinton Athletic Association coordinated the fund raising and last night’s reception at Hopkinton High School.

"We will never forget this evening," said Dick Hoyt, his eyes wet with tears. Rick, who is unable to speak, used a computer-simulated voice to tell his friends, "Thanks to you, I have the nicest van that I have ever had."

The Hoyts, with Dick pushing Rick in a wheelchair, will run the Marathon for the 25th time in April. The pair have participated in more than 1,000 athletic events, including grueling triathlons.

A story in the Daily News last month told of the Hoyt’s recent misfortunes. Rick’s van failed, and a fallen tree damaged Dick Hoyt’s home in Holland.The elder Hoyt, who has always been his son’s lifeline, has begun to worry about Rick’s welfare once he is gone.

Once the story ran, it spread to concerned friends across the country. Contributions poured in from individuals and businesses in New England, Florida, the Carolinas, California and other states.

According to Tim Kilduff of the HAA, about 400 people and companies made donations, including one Boston executive who donated $50,000.

Previous post: Charity Begins at Home

Presstitute of the Day: Audry Lewis

Apparently, for Richard Scrushy, former CEO of HealthSouth Corp., she was the best journalist his dirty money could buy. Scrushy played this case like a Mastercard commercial: Down payment on Lewis's work, $11,000; Sympathetic media coverage and other public relations work, $150,000; Acquittal on federal accounting fraud charges, priceless.

Writer Claims HealthSouth CEO Scrushy Bought Favorable Press Coverage During Fraud Trial

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Throughout the six-month trial that led to Richard Scrushy's acquittal in the $2.7 billion fraud at HealthSouth Corp., a small, influential newspaper consistently printed articles sympathetic to the defense of the
fired CEO.

Audry Lewis, the author of those stories in The Birmingham Times, the city's oldest black-owned paper, now says she was secretly working on behalf of Scrushy, who she says paid her $11,000 through a public relations firm and typically read her articles before publication.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show The Lewis Group wrote a $5,000 check to Audry Lewis on April 29, 2005 -- the day Scrushy hired the company. The head of the company, Times founder Jesse J. Lewis Sr., is not related to Audry Lewis.

The firm wrote another $5,000 check that day to the Rev. Herman Henderson, who employs Audry Lewis at his Believers Temple Church and was among the black preachers supporting Scrushy who were present in the courtroom throughout.

Audry Lewis and Henderson now say Scrushy owes them $150,000 for the newspaper stories and other public relations work, including getting black pastors to attend the trial in a bid to sway the mostly black jury.

The payments raise questions about the legitimacy of the ostensibly grass roots support for Scrushy seen throughout his trial.

Here's another article, with a picture of Lewis: Scrushy Said to Pay for Positive Articles

This article contains this funny quote from an "expert" on "journalism" and "ethics" (all of those are in quotations deliberately: read on)

Kelly McBride, who directs ethics programs of the Poynter Institute, which trains professional journalists, said the payments described by Audry Lewis are "a complete aberration" in American journalism.

McBride said it is so unusual for a reporter to be paid by a news source to write favorable stories that the allegations "are going to be on a lot of people's radar" and will be used as fresh ammunition by critics of the media.

McBride says this is "so unusual" and "a complete aberration" despite the torrent of "pay for play" stories in the papers in the last year. Ah, Kelly McBride, have you ever heard of

Armstrong Williams: Education Dept. paid commentator to promote law

Maggie Gallagher: Writer Backing Bush Plan Had Gotten Federal Contract

Michael McManus: Third columnist caught with hand in the Bush till (; must watch ad to access site)

Mike Vasilinda: Hey, There Is Money to be Made in This Business!

Charles D. Chieppo: It's Pay Day, Pay Day, Pay Day!

And just last month, conservative columnists Doug Bandow and Peter Ferrara: How many conservative columnists did Jack Abramoff rent for his clients?

Guess not.

Audry Lewis, our latest Presstitute of the Day.

Deborah Howell, Meet Eugene Robinson

Eugene Robinson in today's WaPo:

Want Fries With That?
Don't Bet on the GOP Supersizing Lobbying Reform

Don't be fooled by the chorus shouting "The Democrats did it, too!" -- from Tom DeLay's multiple troubles to Duke Cunningham's antique commode to Abramoff's spider web of tainted links, this is a Republican scandal, period. For the record, there's no indication that Abramoff, who had a habit of making lavish campaign contributions, gave any of his own money to Democrats -- he seems to have written checks to Republicans only. His clients, at least some of them presumably acting on his advice, gave most of their contributions to the GOP and relatively little to Democrats.

Yesterday's Presstititute of the Day, Deborah Howell could take a few lessons in fact-checking from Mr. Robinson. That's all I'm saying.

Medicare Part D(isaster)

Like the feminists say, the personal is the political:

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings: Medicare Part D And Me

One of the main reasons for choosing one of the plans it offers over others is that that plan covers all the medications you're actually taking; yet while the insurers who offer those plans can change which medications they cover every month, seniors are locked into those plans for a whole year. And, my favorite detail of all, the government is forbidden to either compete against private companies by offering its own plan, or to bargain for lower prices on drugs.

Mac at Pesky' Apostrophe: Save my grandma

My grandmother recently received a letter about the new Bush Medicare initiative, Medicare Part D. The letter informed her that she was eligible and that she had to enroll. This is not my grandmother reading something into it - my mother saw the letter and that’s what it said.

My grandmother has private insurance through my grandfather’s former employer. Before he died a few years ago, he made sure my grandmother understood that the private insurance was better and he wanted her to have it and keep it. Being confused about the Medicare Part D enrollment, my grandmother called her insurance company. No one had any clue about Medicare Part D and, being prone to panic, my grandmother sent in her enrollment form.

Thus begins the nightmare.

By enrolling in Medicare Part D, my grandmother’s private insurance was cancelled. Part D is only the prescription drug part of Medicare, so my grandmother doesn’t have medical insurance at the moment. My grandmother...who is 76 years old...does not have medical insurance. My grandmother is in a total panic. My mother is livid. She called me up a few days ago and said, “I’d like to shove this new Medicare thing right up someone’s ass. Like up President Bush’s ass, where it belongs.”

From the Baxter, Arkansas Bulletin: Medicare Part D a mess, local pharmacist says

"It's like Hurricane Katrina — they knew it was coming, but no one did anything to get ready for it," Ponder said.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Issue a Terror Alert -- But Who'll Tell George?

Why bother? Those stupid terror alerts were all election year political theatre anyway.

They didn't even tell King George La La La I Can't Hear You Bush about the Bin Laden tape today, until after he was finished with his folksy bullshit speech. Because there is no real threat. Because George Bush can't do anything about it anyway. Look at Katrina. Look at Medicare. All he would do is appoint some incompetent flunky and after the disaster hits, say, "You're doin' a heckuva job, incompetent flunky."

Threats, humor and timing

STERLING, Va. - President Bush had not been informed of the new audiotape of Osama bin Laden issuing a new threat of attack against the United States on Thursday morning until after he finished a 74-minute public appearance here to tout successes in the economy -– a theater-in-the-round-like event in which Bush parried and joked with his audience in the freewheeling manner of a seasoned television talk-show host.

"The president was informed about the audiotape shortly after his remarks in Sterling, Virginia, earlier this morning," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said later in Washington. "The intelligence community is continuing to analyze the tape to determine its authenticity and if there is any actionable intelligence. If there is any actionable intelligence, we will act on it."

That could help explain Bush's ebullience and the playful spirit in which he fielded questions from a friendly audience on the floor of a warehouse at JK Moving and Storage. Anyone holding a BlackBerry would have learned just a minute before that event that Al Jazeerah was airing the tape of bin Laden's threat. The email alert from ABC News arrived at 10:15 am EST. Bush started speaking at 10:16 am.

Toward the end of his upbeat and light-hearted exchange with his audience, the president was asked a pointed question – its point enhanced by what the president learned after his appearance here -- by an educator from Marymount University: "Most people in this room today are leaders of some type… And my question to you is how do you remain upbeat when you're surrounded by the burdens of leadership?"

"My faith and my family and my friends, for starters. I like going home to be with my family," Bush said.

"I'm proud to tell you that my friends that I knew before I became in public office are still my friends," Bush added. "One of the coolest things to do in my presidential work, one of the – (with an aside to reporters watching from above, eliciting laughter from the audience) – seeing if you're paying attention up there – things I like to do, is to welcome my buddies, and Laura feels the same way, people we grew up with -- we both grew up in Midland, Texas. I remember having some of my friends that I went to 1st grade with, a guy I grew up across the street with, Michael Proctor, they came up to have dinner at the White House.

"You know, and they kind of walk in there," the president explained. "You can imagine what it's like. It's a great honor, pretty awe-inspiring deal. They walk in there and, kind of, 'What are you doing here, Bush?'"

What are you doing here, Bush?

Political Dictionary

I got this in an email today:

Political Dictionary


compassionate conservatism n. Poignant concern for the very wealthy.

faith n. The stubborn belief that God approves of Republican moral values despite the preponderance of textual evidence to the contrary.

free markets
n. Haliburton no-bid contracts at taxpayer expense.

habeas corpus
n. Archaic. (Lat.) Legal term no longer in use. (See Patriot Act)

Patriot Act n. 1. The pre-emptive strike on American freedoms to prevent the terrorists from destroying them first. 2. The elimination of one of the reasons why they hate us.

pro-life adj. Valuing human life up until birth.


abstinence-only sex education n. Ignorance-only sex education.

alternative energy sources n. New locations to drill for gas and oil.

bankruptcy n. A punishable crime when committed by poor people but not corporations.

"burning bush" n. A biblical allusion to the response of the President of the United States when asked a question by a journalist who has not been paid to inquire.

Cheney, Dick n. The greater of two evils.

China n. See Wal-Mart.

class warfare n. Any attempt to raise the minimum wage.

climate change
n. The blessed day when the blue states are swallowed by the oceans.

DeLay, Tom n. 1. Past tense of De Lie. 2. Patronage saint.

democracy n. A product so extensively exported that the domestic supply is depleted.

dittohead n. An Oxy(contin)moron.

energy independence n. The caribou witness relocation program.

extraordinary rendition n. Outsourcing torture.

girly men n. Males who do not grope women inappropriately.

God n. Senior presidential adviser.

growth n. 1. The justification for tax cuts for the rich. 2. What happens to the national debt when Republicans cut taxes on the rich.

healthy forest n. No tree left behind.

homelandism n. A neologism for love of the Homeland Security State, as in "My Homeland, 'tis of thee, sweet security state of liberty..."

honesty n. Lies told in simple declarative sentences--e.g., "Freedom is on the march."

House of Representatives
n. Exclusive club; entry fee $1 million to $5 million. (See Senate)

laziness n. When the poor are not working.

leisure time n. When the wealthy are not working.

liberal(s) n. Followers of the Antichrist.

neoconservatives n. Nerds with Napoleonic complexes.

9/11 n. Tragedy used to justify any administrative policy, especially if unrelated. (See Deficit, Iraq War)

No Child Left Behind riff. 1. v. There are always jobs in the military. 2. n. The rapture.

ownership society n. A civilization where 1 percent of the population controls 90 percent of the wealth.

Senate n. Exclusive club; entry fee $10 million to $30 million.

simplify v. To cut the taxes of Republican donors.

staying the course interj. Slang. Saying and doing the same stupid thing over and over, regardless of the result.

stuff happens interj. Slang. Donald Rumsfeld as master historian.

voter fraud n. A significant minority turnout.

Wal-Mart n. The nation-state, future tense.

water n. Arsenic storage device.

woman n. 1. Person who can be trusted to bear a child but can't be >\trusted to decide whether or not she wishes to have the child. 2. Person who must have all decisions regarding her reproductive functions made by men with whom she wouldn't want to have sex in the first place.

Farewell to Wicked Pickett

Q: Who was the greatest "soul screamer" of all time?

A: Wilson Pickett.

Soul Singer Wilson Pickett Dies at 64

Still some of my favorite music. Owwww!

Hub Fans Welcome Kid Back

Best news of a depressing off-season by far:

Epstein to rejoin Red Sox

BOSTON --Theo Epstein is rejoining the Boston Red Sox, 2 1/2 months after he turned down a three-year, $4.5 million offer to remain as general manager.

Epstein and Red Sox management issued a joint statement Thursday saying he will return to the organization full-time, but they did not say in what capacity Epstein would rejoin the team. His return had been rumored almost since the day he slipped out of Fenway Park wearing a borrowed gorilla costume to avoid the media.

"As you know, we have spoken frequently during the last 10 weeks. We have engaged in healthy, spirited debates about what it will take over the long-term for the Red Sox to remain a great organization and, in fact, become a more effective organization in philosophy, approaches and ideals," the statement said.

"Ironically, Theo's departure has brought us closer together in many respects, and, thanks to these conversations, we now enjoy the bonds of a shared vision for the organizations future that did not exist on October 31. With this vision in place, Theo will return to the Red Sox in a full-time baseball operations capacity, details of which will be announced next week."

The statement came from Epstein, principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, president Larry Lucchino and Epstein.

Presstitute of the Day: Deborah Howell

Pissy, pissy, pissy little Deborah Howell.

Howell, you will remember, is the new ombudsperson at the Washington Post. (I'm a feminist. I refuse to call a woman an ombudsman, as the Post does. So sue me.) Howell's been wrong a few times now -- saying the answer to Bob Woodward not telling his editor about his involvement in the Plame case is for Woodward to get an editor, for example.

But her lowest moment (until today) was Sunday, when she published this statement of "fact":

a number of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), have gotten Abramoff campaign money.

As though it were fact. However, it is not. As it is not a true fact, it is, in fact, a lie. A very big lie, as this is the Republican Talking Point of the moment, intended to confuse the public.

For the Abramoff scandal is a Republican scandal. Abramoff gave all his campaign money -- $172,933 -- exclusively to Republicans. His clients, the Indian tribes, continued to give political contributions to Democrats, as they always had, but in lower amounts than before they hired Abramoff. Those same tribes, however, suddenly more than tripled their contributions to Republicans, at Abramoff's urging.

So it is a lie to say that Democrats have gotten Abramoff campaign money. They didn't get one thin dime. And it is a pernicious lie, as it is intended to mislead the public into thinking the Abramoff scandal is bipartisan. It is not. It is about Republicans cheating, stealing, and pigging out at the trough of political corruption. No Democrats participated in the K Street Project.

Well, blogtopia (yes! skippy coined the term!) was not happy to see a lie masquerading as the truth in the Washington Post. Bloggers, egged on by Jane Hamsher at firedoglake, began bombarding the Post's new blog,, with comments. (The comments were placed on the most recent post, entitled "New Blog: Maryland Moment", so the uprising of the readers on this issue will ever be known as The Maryland Moment.) Most of the comments were quite civil, pointed out the error, and asked for a retraction and a correction.

The Post's reaction was instructive. No correction has ever been made. Comments were deleted, first just a few, then en masse. (While the Post later blamed the disappearing of the comments on their blogvendor, Typepad, I have my doubts.) After an outcry, comments were reinstated. A Post reporter, Derek Willis, posted a comment in essence defending Howell's lie as truth. That reporter's comment was bombarded with angry denunciations. Then, Presstitute Howie Kurtz got in on the action, declaring Howell's statement had been "inartfully worded", and pushing the lie that
Abramoff was an equal opportunity giver if you looked at the contributions of the tribes. More derisive comments followed.

Still, as of this morning, no correction, no retraction.

Finally at 11:30 a.m. this morning, more than five days after the offending lie appeared in her column, Deborah Howell posted this on the post blog:

Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 01/19/2006
Deborah Howell Responds

I've heard from lots of angry readers about the remark in my column Sunday that lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to both parties. A better way to have said it would be that Abramoff "directed" contributions to both parties.

Lobbyists, seeking influence in Congress, often advise clients on campaign contributions. While Abramoff, a Republican, gave personal contributions only to Republicans, he directed his Indian tribal clients to make millions of dollars in campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties.

Records from the Federal Elections Commission and the Center for Public Integrity show that AbramoffÂ’s Indian clients contributed between 1999 and 2004 to 195 Republicans and 88 Democrats. The Post has copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff with specific directions on what members of Congress were to receive specific amounts.

One of those lists can be viewed in this online graphic, while a graphical summary of giving by Abramoff, his tribal clients and associated lobbyists can be viewed here. The latest developments in the Abramoff investigation are available in this Special Report.

-- Deborah Howell, Washington Post Ombudsman

So, she has (1) refused to admit that her original statement of "fact" was, indeed, a lie; and (2) offered yet another version of "everybody does it". But she's wrong. One of firedoglake's commenters deconstructs her statement and the skewed evidence she uses. In essence, she used an Abramoff document that doesn't match up with actual amounts contributed by the tribes. Nothing like a little misleading on a lovely Thursday morning.

This afternoon the Washington Post shut down its Comments. Indefinitely, they say. Forever, I predict.

So, for lying in print, refusing to correct that lie, replacing the lie with another lie, then shutting down the public's access to their spokeswoman, I award today's Presstitute of the Day award to Deborah Howell.

I have a feeling she'll win more than one of these.

The Incompetence, The Corruption, and The Cronyism, January 19, 2006

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for. As for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
H.L. Mencken

The Incompetence:

The defining fiasco of the Bush Administration may prove to be the utterly disastrous Medicare prescription drug benefit, formally known as Medicare Part D. Already the newspapers are filled with stories about Medicare-Medicaid patients, the poorest of the poor, being denied prescriptions by the thousands because the government, with only two full years to prepare, didn't have its computer systems tested, up, and running when the program launched January 1. The pain is just beginning.

What's instructive about this project is that it provides a concrete illustration of what Social Security would have looked like after a Bush privatization job: A program that should be designed to serve citizens turned instead into a plaything for lobbyists and business interests. Had Social Security privatization gone through, it's plain, the financial services industry would have had the green light to inundate citizens with flagrantly misleading brochures promising benefits that they couldn't deliver. There are many words for this in the thesaurus, but the first one that comes to mind is "disgusting."

Golden State Column: Bush's Catastrophic Drug Benefit (Part One) by Michael Hitzik.

See, also, Americablog: It's Medicare Part D for Disaster

The Corruption:

The K Street Project was a giant money laundering enterprise. Many of the beneficiaries were non-profits: either religious or charitable organizations. One was organized by the hateful Grover Norquist, of 'drown the federal government in a bathtub' fame. If Jack Abramoff directed monies to Norquist organizations in exchange for meetings with President Bush or other favors, that's tax fraud. I wonder who gets to investigate this: the prosecutor after Abramoff, or the IRS?

Stuart Levine:

Grover Norquist and the Tax Code

Did Grover Norquist Commit Tax Fraud?

The Cronyism:

The most incompetent White House spokesman since Ron Ziegler, Scott McClellan, has a brother, Mark McClellan. Guess what government fiasco Mark McClellan runs? The clue here is "incompetent". As in Medicare Part D.
And are you asking yourself, "What about the other McClellan brother?" You'll recall that Medicare Plan D isn't working well? And that seniors and pharmacists and medical professionals who are trying to make sense out of the entire mess can't get a straight answer from the 1-800 hotline, even after waiting forever on hold to get to a person who is supposed to help them? Guess who is in charge of coordinating this non-helpful service (via The Plank):

I have an article about what's going on with the Medicare drug benefit--and why--coming out in this week's edition of the magazine. But one tidbit I came across in my research seems worth sharing now. It's a Government Accounting Office report, issued in December, warning that the Bush administration hadn't done enough to make sure the most medically and financially vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries could actually get their drugs.

If you do get around to reading it, make sure to check out the part where Mark McClellan, director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says the GAO has it all wrong--the part where he insists that "CMS has established effective contingency plans to ensure that dual-eligible beneficiaries will be able to obtain comprehensive coverage and obtain necessary drugs beginning January 1, 2006."

Well, maybe not entirely effective.

Firedoglake: Profiles in Cronyhood: The McClellan Brothers

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Big Day for Dr. Seuss

Another Seussical take-off. I like the Joe Biden verse the best.

Sam-I-Am and the neo-con-scam

Judge Samuel Alito's opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee:
I Am Sam, Sam I Am!
I may like this, I didn't do that,
I Am Sam, Sam I Am!"


Senator Joe Biden:
First of all I'd like to say I love you, and I really mean that. I also love this country and all of the people in the Delaware valley who do or do not attend Princeton Universityn even if my grandfather will never forgive me. This includes all Americans and our allies that love freedom, democracy and safety. Even if safety comes with a second or third mortgage on freedom and democracy because interest rates at an all time low. I am concerned and confused, as many are, by your obvious lack of support for the hair club and civil liberties. I look forward to your help in clarifying any issues I may stumble across as I continue to ramble towards some point that I am trying to make. You need to ask yourself, are you ready to face the gag factor of the neo-con scam or give up your car and way of life? I think most Americans would choose freedom at any cost. With this overwhelming public support behind me I ask you: "Would you? Could you for car? Tell me! Tell me! who you are?"

I do not like the neo-con scam,
I would not could not for a car,
I do not like them in a box,
I do not like them even on FOX,
I do not like them in a house,
I would not, could not, with a mouse,
I do not like them here or there,
I do not like them anywhere,
I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

'Meanwhile, the World Disappears'

From dailykos:

Meanwhile, the World Disappears

One by one, species are going extinct at an ever-accelerating pace, currently estimated at 1000 times the normal rate. ("Normal" meaning before human civilization.) The following random articles are all from the last six weeks. Keep in mind that these few examples are from well documented areas, accessible to scientists:

Click on the link to see photos of all the creatures close to extinction:

Presstitute of the Day: Howie Kurtz

For relentlessly flogging the Republican effort to Swiftboat Jack Murtha. His Media Notes Online article is front paged on the WaPo website today, giving life to a story that a real journalist would have ignored and let die its own pathetic death. But Howie is a presstitute through and through.

A Swift-Moving Story

Howie whines in response to Murray Waas's criticism of his original article:

I would welcome a deeper examination, as I had three hours to write the story on deadline. But I provided the needed context about Cybercast -- which was formerly called Conservative News Service -- and I'd note that the military, after all, decides when to hand out the medals.

Howie: If you didn't have time to research the story adequately, you shouldn't have submitted it for publication. Why were you in such a rush, anyway? Was Mrs. Kurtz, Sheri Annis, Republican operative, on your case? Maybe I should buy your cell phone records to find out.

The real story on Murtha is on the op-ed pages of the New York Times today, by "James Webb, a secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, [] a Marine platoon and company commander in Vietnam."

Purple Heartbreakers

The accusations against Mr. Murtha were very old news, principally coming from defeated political rivals. Aligned against their charges are an official letter from Marine Corps Headquarters written nearly 40 years ago affirming Mr. Murtha's eligibility for his Purple Hearts - "you are entitled to the Purple Heart and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Purple Heart for wounds received in action" - and the strict tradition of the Marine Corps regarding awards. While in other services lower-level commanders have frequently had authority to issue prestigious awards, in the Marines Mr. Murtha's Vietnam Bronze Star would have required the approval of four different awards boards.

I Do Not Like Jack Abramoff

Tom DeLay Denies All Charges (As Told by Dr. Suess)

That Abramoff!
That Abramoff!
I do not like that Abramoff!

"Would you like to play some golf?"

I do not want to play some golf.
I do not want to, Abramoff.

"We could fly you there for free.
Off to Scotland, by the sea."

I do not want to fly for free.
I don't like Scotland by the sea.
I do not want to play some golf.
I do not want to, Abramoff.

"Would you, could you, take this bribe?
Could you, would you, for the tribe?"............

Read the whole thing: It's priceless. Tip o' the cap to Micah Sifry on the Huffington Post: Green Cash and Scam

Operation Photo Op, Medicare Part D edition, 1.0

HHS Works to Fix Drug Plan Woes
Widespread Difficulties With New Medicare Benefit Reported

President Bush's top health advisers will fan out across the country this week to quell rising discontent with a new Medicare prescription drug benefit that has tens of thousands of elderly and disabled Americans, their pharmacists, and governors struggling to resolve myriad start-up problems.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, who will visit Oregon and California, said yesterday that 24 million Medicare beneficiaries now have prescription coverage, compared with the 20.4 million who had been receiving drug benefits last year through state- or employer-sponsored plans. That means the new program, expected to cost $700 billion in the first 10 years, is providing drug coverage to 3.6 million new retirees.

Oh, this will fix everything. Go around the country and say how well the program is working. Incompetent photo-opping boobs.

If The Rainforest Dries Up, Will We Notice?

David Ignatious's column in today's Washington Post on climate change says scientists are reporting that the Amazon rain forest is drying up:

Is It Warm in Here?
We Could Be Ignoring the Biggest Story in Our History

What got me thinking about the recondite life rhythms of the planet, and not the 24-hour news cycle, was a recent conversation with a scientist named Thomas E. Lovejoy, who heads the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment. When I first met Lovejoy nearly 20 years ago, he was trying to get journalists like me to pay attention to the changes in the climate and biological diversity of the Amazon. He is still trying, but he's beginning to wonder if it's too late.

Lovejoy fears that changes in the Amazon's ecosystem may be irreversible. Scientists reported last month that there is an Amazonian drought apparently caused by new patterns in Atlantic currents that, in turn, are similar to projected climate change. With less rainfall, the tropical forests are beginning to dry out. They burn more easily, and, in the continuous feedback loops of their ecosystem, these drier forests return less moisture to the atmosphere, which means even less rain. When the forest trees are deprived of rain, their mortality can increase by a factor of six, and similar devastation affects other species, too.


So many of the things that pass for news don't matter in any ultimate sense. But if people such as Lovejoy and Kolbert are right, we are all but ignoring the biggest story in the history of humankind. Kolbert concluded her series last year with this shattering thought: "It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing." She's right. The failure of the United States to get serious about climate change is unforgivable, a human folly beyond imagining.

I didn't realize Lovejoy worked for one of the foundations controlled by Theresa Heinz Kerry.

Earlier post on Lovejoy: The Sky Is Falling

USSF's World Cup Ticketing Nightmare

I applied for World Cup tickets through the US Soccer Federation in December. There are all kinds of arcane rules about applying. You couldn't apply both to FIFA and to USSF. If you applied through both entities, both applications would be ignored and you would not get any tickets, ever.

I chose to go through our federation because I really want to see the US play, and I figured there would be less competition than going up against the world for tickets.

Wrong, moose breath.

USSF emailed me a password on December 12th, along with a PDF file application. I could apply by either fax or overnight mail, but not email. I don't have a real fax machine at home (where I was doing my application) but I thought, I better fax this application or I'll get shut out. (This was correct.) So I went to a printing press in my little town & paid to fax my application. This was at 2:30. The guy said, I can fax it for you, but you won't get a confirmation printout. This is a new machine, and they don't do that. I should have turned around and driven to Boston, but here I made my fatal mistake. He said, the machine will just keep redialing the number until it gets through. Well, USSF had said they were prepared to accept the influx of faxes, so I said OK, send it.

I didn't get a confirmation number from US Soccer the next day, so I over-nighted my application. I knew I was in trouble when my confirmation number came back two days later: 30xxx.

Then, I waited. We were supposed to be notified by January 6th about ticket allocations. January 6th came and went. I went to bigsoccer daily and read speculation about what was going on. January 12th ussoccer finally sent out a mass email saying they would absolutely, positively inform everyone by January 14th whether we got tickets, so if you didn't, you could get into the last round of the FIFA lottery, for which applications had to be filed by 6:00 p.m. January 15th. Whew.

But January 14th, there was no email. I left my email program on & hit refresh every 15 minutes or so as the Patriots went down in defeat to the Broncos. No email from ussoccer. Finally, I went to bed, resigned that I would have to file a FIFA application by 6:00 p.m. tomorrow without knowing if I had received tix.

When I got up on the 15th, I found a ussoccer email, sent to me at 1:49 a.m. on Sunday. I got shut out of the group round. No tickets for US-Italy, US-Czech republic, US-Ghana. But, oh, lucky me, I got awarded tickets to the later rounds (for which the US is unlikely to qualify, let's be honest here) and get to carry the charges on my credit card until then:

The following tickets will be issued to you.

Quarter Finals
4 -Category II

Semi Finals
4 -Category III

4 -Category III

So, I submitted my application to the FIFA lottery on Sunday. Very few tickets are left, but a girl can dream, can't she?

Maybe I should get a job at Home Depot. Supposedly the sponsors of the US Soccer got all the Category I tickets, as very few were allocated to the humble fans.

This was a poorly designed process. It's impossible to have "first come, first served" when (a) you have different methods of applying, as here, fax and mail; and (b) you do not have the technology adequate to receive the applications. I wonder how many faxed applications USSF actually received that first day. I wonder how many people were, like me, unable to get through?

This would have been easily solved if USSF had simply accepted applications by email. Since everyone who applied needed to be able to receive the password by email, everyone who applied had to have access to a computer.

I got screwed because I couldn't get through via my ancient fax machine. So I fedexed & got no tickets. No, worse than that, I have been charged through the nose for conditional tickets to the later rounds, which realistically the US is unlikely to reach.

I wonder how many tickets the USSF hierarchy allocated to themselves? I'm sure we'll see the whole group at the games. Bastards.

I'm not the only one who feels used and abused by the USSF process:

From We Call It Soccer, two posts: The USSF is Turning Our Hair Gray and Giving Us Tumors. And Tickets.

The USSF Ticket Debacle, For the Record and in Perspective

And two more from My Soccer Blog: The ticket sale that just will not end

More on US World Cup Tickets

And in the end, I find myself paraphrasing Don Rumsfield, of all people: You go to the World Cup with the Federation you have.

It could be worse. I could be from Trinidad and Tobago. The country's entire allocation of tickets was sold to a Vice President of FIFA, also the President of CONCACAF, Jack Warner, who coincidentally owns a travel agency. The entire allocation. So if you want a $200 ticket to the T&T game v. England, you have to buy a $4000 travel package from Mr. Warner, who stands to make millions from this major scam.

Blog Round-Up, January 17, 2006

Art Pottery, Politics and Food posts Scotty's hilarious sparring with the gaggle over Abramoff's visits to the White House, with a must-see picture: Jack-Jack Attack

RJ Eskow, Huffington Post, says it's a Clinton [George} thing: The Etymology of Nagin's "Chocolate City"

A compendium of this month's GWB lies, from Bottle of Blog: Just One Month

Glenn Greenwald gives us the background on how the Bush Administration waded into the Oregon assisted suicide case -- in the weeks after 9/11: Assisted suicide case shows the Administration's true colors


SJC says life support can end for alleged beating victim, 11

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled yesterday that life-support systems for an 11-year-old Westfield girl can be removed, saying that the child, who has been in a vegetative state since an alleged beating by her adoptive mother and stepfather, should be able to ''pass away with dignity."

The state's highest court unanimously rejected an appeal by the stepfather of Haleigh Poutre to keep the girl alive, saying it was ''unthinkable" to give him a voice in her care, because of his alleged role in her beating and the potential murder charges he faces if she dies.

The decision, written by Justice John M. Greaney, chronicled how the girl's many bruises and burns over the last few years were reported more than a dozen times to child-protection officials, who often misidentified the injuries as self-inflicted or common childhood mishaps.

In language that showed their belief that Haleigh's life is already over, the court referred to a larger message that can be taken from her brief life.

It's not hard to decide that an alleged murderer has no right to keep the victim alive to avoid murder charges. However, since we have a very progressive court in Massachusetts (almost all appointed by our Republican governors, Weld and Cellucci) it is likely that any right-to-die case would have a similar outcome. We're big on those old-time American values here, freedom and liberty.

The Globe also provides a comparison of Haleigh Poutre's case with the Schiavo case:

Two cases put spotlight on end-of-life decisions

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Right to Die With Dignity Upheld

The Supreme Court today upheld Oregon's assisted suicide law by a 6-3 vote.

Justices Uphold Oregon Assisted-Suicide Law
In a Blow to Administration, Ruling Paves Way for Other States to Follow Suit

Text of Court Ruling

It was a 6-3 decision, with new Chief Justice John Roberts, Scalia and Thomas in dissent. No surprise that Roberts joined the two most conservative members of the court in opposing assisted suicide. You wonder what Rehnquist would have done. Normally he was a reliable conservative vote. But after suffering for over a year during his thyroid cancer treatment, and after watching his wife's long battle with ovarian cancer (she died in 1991), I wonder if he might have ended up with the majority on this one.

I've represented people with cancer for years. Often they are in horrible, intractable pain from either the disease or the treatment. Pain that leaves them drawn, exhausted, barely able to think. They fight bravely but eventually come to that point where the pain is more than they can bear. I believe strongly that the individual should be able to make the decision to end the suffering. It's true freedom, the freedom to make decisions about your own body, about when you are ready to go.

I tell my friends, help me when I need it. Don't leave me to suffer in a hospital bed tied up with tubes. Make sure I have some good meds & let me go happy.

This was the right decision by the Court.

Some Things Never Change

Good catch from Echidne of the Snakes:

Madam President

And a tiny speck of feminism: My eagle's eye caught something about the way these new female presidents were introduced. At least a few sources do it this way:

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been sworn in as Liberia's new president, becoming Africa's first elected female head of state and vowing to lead the country away from its turbulent past.

Sirleaf took the oath of office Monday at an inauguration ceremony in the capital of Monrovia attended by dignitaries and leaders from around the world.

The 67-year-old grandmother, who was elected in a run-off vote in November, has promised to unite Liberia by ending political corruption and rebuilding her country after civil war between 1989 and 2003 left some 200,000 dead.

The Chilean President-elect, Michelle Bachelet, has pledged to name a cabinet with an equal number of men and women.

The mother-of-three also told a news conference on Monday that she would strive to root out Chile's embedded social divide.

Bolds are mine. Have you ever read George Bush described as the father-of-two?


Gary Bauer's organization, Our American Values, has a poll running on illegal spying by the government. Here are the results so far:

How do you feel about the Bush Administration using wiretaps to gain information about potential terrorist plots?

No problem
127 votes. 38%

It is intrusion on privacy
205 votes. 62%

Not my issue
1 votes. 0%

Weekly Poll

Why don't you go vote? I did. Upper left hand corner of the page.

I've Been Deleted From the Washington Post -- Twice!!

The Washington Post is ticked off about the comments they've been receiving about Ombudsperson Deborah Howell's lies about Jack Abramoff. So ticked off, they've deleted over 600 comments from their readers from their blog.

I'm here to claim my two deleted comments.

The first I left Sunday night after I read the article. It was a joke, OK?

"Deborah, you're doin' a heckuva job." signed, George W. Bush.

This was deleted when I logged onto the blog the next morning. I thought, OK, they're deleting jokes. So I left another comment, to this effect:

The evidence shows that Deborah Howell's statement that Democrats received money from Jack Abramoff is not true. Despite this, the Post has issued neither a correction or a retraction.

Where is the truth?

Signed, truth.

Today, this comment has been deleted, along with 600 others.

Not exactly incendiary stuff.

So, my odd history with the Washington Post continues. They've reprinted my work, with nary an email beforehand, and now they've deleted me. Twice.

Time for another panel on blogger ethics, I guess.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Scalito Skating Onto SCOTUS

I keep meaning to mention this. Why don't the Senators on the Judiciary Committee use their staff to ask questions?

None of them could cross examine themselves out of a paper bag. They're lucky to get a question or two in during their long, bloviating soliloquies.

Now, you don't have to be a brain surgeon to examine a witness. But there are certain, simple rules.

Like, don't start out by saying "Just a few questions", when you're going to be up there for an hour.

Or don't trivialize your questions before you ask them by making only-funny-to-you self-deprecating statements (like this: BIDEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I understand, Judge, I'm the only one standing between you and lunch, so I'll try to make this painless.)

This applies to all the Senators, not just Joe Biden (D-MBNA). But Biden was certainly the worst offender. Here's another little Biden gem:

[] But again, this is just by way of why some of us are puzzled. Because if I was aware of it, and I didn't even like Princeton...


I mean, I really didn't like Princeton. I was an Irish Catholic kid who thought it had not changed like you concluded it had.

I admit, one of my real dilemmas is I have two kids who went to Ivy League schools. I'm not sure my Grandfather Finnegan will ever forgive me for allowing that to happen.

But all kidding aside, I wasn't a big Princeton fan. And so maybe that is why I focused on it and no one else did. But I remember it at the time.

If you want your audience to take you seriously, be serious. Don't make stupid jokes. Is this a serious proceeding or not? Does a doctor make jokes in the middle of informing you about the medical condition of a loved one? Of course not. That would be inappropriate to the occasion. Biden's inability to stay on topic was incredibly annoying.

Also incredibly annoying, his/their habit of stating glowing conclusions about Alito's opinions and motives BEFORE asking questions in those very areas. Like this:

BIDEN: I don't think anybody thinks you are a man lacking in integrity. I don't think anybody thinks that you are a person who's not independent.


So again, I'm not questioning your commitment to civil rights. What I do wonder about is, whether or not -- it's presumptuous of me to say this -- whether you fully appreciate how discrimination does work today.

Why bother questioning someone about their opinions on discrimination when you preface it like this:

I know you want to eliminate discrimination.
Explain to me how that test is distinguishable from just plain old discrimination.

Well, why are we bothering to have these hearings if we "know" Scalito wants to eliminate discrimination? Isn't the reason we're here is that most of us Democrats believe, since he almost always rules against discrimination victims, that he's against the very concept of anti-discrimination law? As an employment lawyer, that's one of the reasons I don't want this jamoke on the Court. He's got his finger on the scale on the side of the employer.

Bring back the questioning by staff. Where is our Sam Dash, our Arthur Liman?

Tomorrow I'm calling my Senators and asking them to filibuster. Call yours.

Notorious House of Presstitution

This week's Notorious House of Presstitution Award goes to ..... drum roll, please ..... The Washington Post!

The Post triumphs over the rest of the fawning corporate media by having two blatant falsehoods trumpeted in its pages.

Article No. 1: On Saturday, Republican House Organ Howie Kurtz and Shailagh Murray published this little gem:

Web Site Attacks Critic of War
Opponents Question Murtha's Medals

Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), the former Marine who is an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, has become the latest Democrat to have his Vietnam War decorations questioned.

In a tactic reminiscent of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth assault on Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) during the 2004 presidential campaign, a conservative Web site yesterday quoted Murtha opponents as questioning the circumstances surrounding the awarding of his two Purple Hearts.

David Thibault, editor in chief of the Cybercast News Service, said the issue of Murtha's medals from 1967 is relevant now "because the congressman has really put himself in the forefront of the antiwar movement." Thibault said: "He has been placed by the Democratic Party and antiwar activists as a spokesman against the war above reproach."

Here, Republican operative Sheri Annis' husband "reports" the hysterical allegations of a right-wing propaganda machine whose most prominent client is GOPUSA, the group that owned Talon News and pimped Jeff Gannon/Jimmy Guckert into a coveted seat in the White House pressroom.

Yes, Virginia, in this article the Washington Post cites Cybercast News Service (CNS). A Republican website that works for GOPUSA.

And then the Post runs a quote from Harry Fox from 1996.

The article included a 1996 quote from Harry Fox, who worked for former representative John Saylor (R-Pa.), telling a local newspaper that Murtha was "pretending to be a big war hero." Fox, who lost a 1974 election to Murtha, said the 38-year Marine veteran had asked Saylor for assistance in obtaining the Purple Hearts but was turned down because the office believed he lacked adequate evidence of his wounds.

However, the Post leaves out the very salient fact (which was in the original CNS article) that Mr. Fox is now 81 years old and because of health reasons can no longer communicate whether or not this quote is accurate.

The Post article also leaves out the extremely salient fact that Saylor, who the now incommunicative Fox is trying to quote, has been DEAD since 1973.

Murray Waas deconstructs this steaming pile of horsepucky.

And that's not all, folks, because on Sunday the Washington Post's ombudsperson, Deborah Howell, continued the Post's Republican talking points journey.

Getting the Story on Jack Abramoff

Several stories, including one on June 3 by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, a Post business reporter, have mentioned that a number of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), have gotten Abramoff campaign money.

This is a stupid and demonstrably false statement by Howell. No Democrat received money from Jack Abramoff. They did receive money from Abramoff's clients: The Indian tribes who were ripped off by Abramoff. There is no evidence that the tribes were attempting to bribe the Democrats. There is ample evidence that Abramoff was stealing from the Indians to bribe the Republican officials to funnel the money back into the coffers of Republican-owned businesses by passing legislation to do just so. That's why Abramoff just took a plea, you idiot.

Firedoglake did the best send-up of Howell: The Naked Lies of Deborah Howell

So, for these two shining examples of naked presstitution, we give the Washington Post the coveted Notorious House of Presstitution award. For this week, at least.

The Sky Is Falling

For real. Scientist James Lovelock says that over the next 96 years, global warming cannot be stopped, and will kill billions of people and send the few remaining survivors to the Arctic to live.

Environment in crisis: 'We are past the point of no return'

Thirty years ago, the scientist James Lovelock worked out that the Earth possessed a planetary-scale control system which kept the environment fit for life. He called it Gaia, and the theory has become widely accepted. Now, he believes mankind's abuse of the environment is making that mechanism work against us. His astonishing conclusion - that climate change is already insoluble, and life on Earth will never be the same again.


The world and human society face disaster to a worse extent, and on a faster timescale, than almost anybody realises, he believes. He writes: " Before this century is over, billions of us will die, and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable."


Professor Lovelock draws attention to one aspect of the warming threat in particular, which is that the expected temperature rise is currently being held back artificially by a global aerosol - a layer of dust in the atmosphere right around the planet's northern hemisphere - which is the product of the world's industry.

This shields us from some of the sun's radiation in a phenomenon which is known as "global dimming" and is thought to be holding the global temperature down by several degrees. But with a severe industrial downturn, the aerosol could fall out of the atmosphere in a very short time, and the global temperature could take a sudden enormous leap upwards.

Lovelock's prediction:

Over the coming decades soaring temperatures will mean agriculture may become unviable over huge areas of the world where people are already poor and hungry; water supplies for millions or even billions may fail. Rising sea levels will destroy substantial coastal areas in low-lying countries such as Bangladesh, at the very moment when their populations are mushrooming. Numberless environmental refugees will overwhelm the capacity of any agency, or indeed any country, to cope, while modern urban infrastructure will face devastation from powerful extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Katrina which hit New Orleans last summer.

The international community accepts the reality of global warming, supported by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In its last report, in 2001, the IPCC said global average temperatures were likely to rise by up to 5.8C by 2100. In high latitudes, such as Britain, the rise is likely to be much higher, perhaps 8C. The warming seems to be proceeding faster than anticipated and in the IPCC's next report, 2007, the timescale may be shortened. Yet there still remains an assumption that climate change is controllable, if CO2 emissions can be curbed. Lovelock is warning: think again.

President Gore Speaks

Just listened to Gore's speech on C-Span. Couldn't stop thinking, remember when our leaders were smart? Could string thoughts together? Didn't just parrot pet phrases over and over?

Last week during the Scalito hearings I was irritated to hear all the senators praising Sandra Day O'Connor to the skies. She's the bitch who gave us President Bush by stopping the counting of legitimate votes in Florida. I spit on her.