Saturday, November 11, 2006


Science Saturday - Did Modern Humans Get a Brain Gene from Neandertals?

By Michael Balter
ScienceNOW Daily News
6 November 2006

For decades, human evolution researchers have debated whether Neandertals and modern humans interbred. Most scientists have come down on the side that any romances between these hominid cousins must have been fleeting at best. But a new study suggests that a few of these passing dalliances might have had a major impact on the evolution of the Homo sapiens brain. If so, Neandertals, although long extinct, may have left humanity a lasting genetic gift.

Some anthropologists have argued that a handful of hominid skeletons show features of both Neandertals and modern humans (Science, 11 February 2005, p. 841). But so far sequencing of Neandertal ancient DNA has turned up no signs of such interbreeding (Science, 11 July 1997, p. 176). As a result, most researchers have considered the two species genetically separate.

Now, University of Chicago geneticist Bruce Lahn and his colleagues report evidence that at least one gene might have bridged the evolutionary divide. Lahn's team analyzed the origins of the gene microcephalin, thought to be involved in regulating brain growth. Last year, the team reported in Science that a particular variant of the gene, now present in 70% of the world's population, arose about 37,000 years ago and quickly spread around the globe. Apparently the variant, known as haplogroup D, was favored by natural selection, although no one is sure of its function (Science, 9 September 2005, p. 1662).

In the new study, published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Lahn and coworkers analyzed microcephalin genes from 89 people from around the world. They found that haplogroup D differed in so many bases from other versions of microcephalin that it must have arisen very early, probably a little more than 1 million years ago, according to statistical tests. Yet it appeared in modern humans only 37,000 years ago.

The Lahn group concluded that the most likely scenario was interbreeding between prehistoric modern humans and a now extinct hominid that carried haplogroup D--most likely Neandertals. The haplogroup was probably beneficial enough to spread quickly in modern human populations, says Lahn. But he's not sure what advantage it offered. Because most researchers agree that Neandertals were not as cognitively advanced as modern humans, Lahn and his coauthors suggest that the haplogroup might have made Homo sapiens better able to adapt to the Eurasian environments that Neandertals had occupied long before modern newcomers arrived.

Ancient DNA pioneer Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, says that this new work is "the most compelling case to date for a genetic contribution of Neandertals to modern humans." Indeed, Pääbo says, he will now search for the haplogroup D variant of microcephalin in his own studies of the Neandertal genome.

Friday, November 10, 2006


American War Criminals: Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, George Tenet, to face lawsuit in Germany seeking Criminal Prosecution for War Crimes.

Friday, Nov. 10, 2006 TIME MAGAZINE
Exclusive: Charges Sought Against Rumsfeld Over Prison Abuse
A lawsuit in Germany will seek a criminal prosecution of the outgoing Defense Secretary and other U.S. officials for their alleged role in abuses at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo

Just days after his resignation, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is about to face more repercussions for his involvement in the troubled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany's top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The plaintiffs in the case include 11 Iraqis who were prisoners at Abu Ghraib, as well as Mohammad al-Qahtani, a Saudi held at Guantanamo, whom the U.S. has identified as the so-called "20th hijacker" and a would-be participant in the 9/11 hijackings. As TIME first reported in June 2005, Qahtani underwent a "special interrogation plan," personally approved by Rumsfeld, which the U.S. says produced valuable intelligence. But to obtain it, according to the log of his interrogation and government reports, Qahtani was subjected to forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, prolonged stress positions, sleep deprivation and other controversial interrogation techniques.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that one of the witnesses who will testify on their behalf is former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the one-time commander of all U.S. military prisons in Iraq. Karpinski — who the lawyers say will be in Germany next week to publicly address her accusations in the case — has issued a written statement to accompany the legal filing, which says, in part: "It was clear the knowledge and responsibility [for what happened at Abu Ghraib] goes all the way to the top of the chain of command to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ."

A spokesperson for the Pentagon told TIME there would be no comment since the case has not yet been filed.

Along with Rumsfeld, Gonzales and Tenet, the other defendants in the case are Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone; former assistant attorney general Jay Bybee; former deputy assisant attorney general John Yoo; General Counsel for the Department of Defense William James Haynes II; and David S. Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. Senior military officers named in the filing are General Ricardo Sanchez, the former top Army official in Iraq; Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of Guantanamo; senior Iraq commander, Major General Walter Wojdakowski; and Col. Thomas Pappas, the one-time head of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib.

Germany was chosen for the court filing because German law provides "universal jurisdiction" allowing for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world. Indeed, a similar, but narrower, legal action was brought in Germany in 2004, which also sought the prosecution of Rumsfeld. The case provoked an angry response from Pentagon, and Rumsfeld himself was reportedly upset. Rumsfeld's spokesman at the time, Lawrence DiRita, called the case a "a big, big problem." U.S. officials made clear the case could adversely impact U.S.-Germany relations, and Rumsfeld indicated he would not attend a major security conference in Munich, where he was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, unless Germany disposed of the case. The day before the conference, a German prosecutor announced he would not pursue the matter, saying there was no indication that U.S. authorities and courts would not deal with allegations in the complaint.

In bringing the new case, however, the plaintiffs argue that circumstances have changed in two important ways. Rumsfeld's resignation, they say, means that the former Defense Secretary will lose the legal immunity usually accorded high government officials. Moreover, the plaintiffs argue that the German prosecutor's reasoning for rejecting the previous case — that U.S. authorities were dealing with the issue — has been proven wrong.

"The utter and complete failure of U.S. authorities to take any action to investigate high-level involvement in the torture program could not be clearer," says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a U.S.-based non-profit helping to bring the legal action in Germany. He also notes that the Military Commissions Act, a law passed by Congress earlier this year, effectively blocks prosecution in the U.S. of those involved in detention and interrogation abuses of foreigners held abroad in American custody going to back to Sept. 11, 2001. As a result, Ratner contends, the legal arguments underlying the German prosecutor's previous inaction no longer hold up.

Whatever the legal merits of the case, it is the latest example of efforts in Western Europe by critics of U.S. tactics in the war on terror to call those involved to account in court. In Germany, investigations are under way in parliament concerning cooperation between the CIA and German intelligence on rendition — the kidnapping of suspected terrorists and their removal to third countries for interrogation. Other legal inquiries involving rendition are under way in both Italy and Spain.

U.S. officials have long feared that legal proceedings against "war criminals" could be used to settle political scores. In 1998, for example, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet — whose military coup was supported by the Nixon administration — was arrested in the U.K. and held for 16 months in an extradition battle led by a Spanish magistrate seeking to charge him with war crimes. He was ultimately released and returned to Chile. More recently, a Belgian court tried to bring charges against then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for alleged crimes against Palestinians.

For its part, the Bush Administration has rejected adherence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on grounds that it could be used to unjustly prosecute U.S. officials. The ICC is the first permanent tribunal established to prosecute war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity.


Your Vote Counts! Barbara Boxer Replaces James "Head Up His Ass" Inhofe as Head of Senate Environmental Public Works Committee! Hooray!

November 10th, 2006 5:47 am
Boxer pledges shift on global warming

By Samantha Young / Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Sen. Barbara Boxer on Thursday promised major policy shifts on global warming, air quality and toxic-waste cleanup as she prepares to lead the U.S. Senate's environmental committee.

"Time is running out, and we need to move forward on this," Boxer said of global warming during a conference call with reporters. "The states are beginning to take steps, and we need to take steps as well."

Boxer's elevation to chairwoman of the Senate Environmental Public Works Committee comes as Democrats return to power in the Senate. It also marks a dramatic shift in ideology for the panel.

The California Democrat is one of the Senate's most liberal members and replaces one of its most conservative, Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma. Inhofe had blocked bills seeking to cut the greenhouse gases contributing to global warming, calling the issue "the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people."

Environmentalists were overjoyed at the change.

"That's like a tsunami hit the committee," said Karen Steuer, who heads government affairs at the National Environmental Trust, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. "You can't find two members or people more ideologically different."

As chairman, Inhofe tried to overhaul the Endangered Species Act and supported the Bush administration's 2002 rules to roll back provisions in the Clean Air Act. He also promoted legislation that would have allowed the government to suspend air and water quality rules in response to Hurricane Katrina.

Boxer said she intends to introduce legislation to curb greenhouse gases, strengthen environmental laws regarding public health and hold oversight hearings on federal plans to clean up Superfund hazardous waste sites across the country.

On global warming, Boxer said she would model federal legislation after a new California law that imposed the first statewide limit on greenhouse gases and seeks to cut California's emissions by 25 percent, dropping them to 1990 levels by 2020.

"Some of the practical solutions are in the California approach," Boxer said.

A top environmental aide at the White House signaled Thursday that the administration would work with her. George Banks, the associate director for international affairs at the Council for Environmental Quality, has requested a meeting to discuss global warming, Boxer said.

President Bush has opposed a federal mandate to limit greenhouse gas emissions from industry and automobiles, saying such steps should be voluntary.

"We look forward to working with Congress in bipartisanship on all issues," said Kristen Hellmer, a spokeswoman for the Council on Environmental Quality. She declined to discuss specifics related to the upcoming global warming discussion.

Some environmentalists said major changes in policy won't occur before 2008.

"On the issue of global warming in particular, we're going to need a new president before we see major progress," said Eric Antebi, spokesman for the San Francisco-based Sierra Club. "But this Congress can really lay the groundwork for that and make incremental changes."


Republicans = Scientologists

by Bill Maher

One of the tenets of Scientology is that anyone who criticizes the religion is fair game for any and all kinds of retribution. You can file lawsuits against them, you can harass them, you can spread lies about them, and it's OK because the critic is fundamentally evil.

This is the same reason Republicans have no problem running push polls, or handing out leaflets with false accusations, or calling Dems and telling them that their polling place has been changed... all this dishonest, sleazy stuff is OK because it's in the service of a greater good.

I'm not saying Dems don't indulge in vote shenanigans from time to time, but it's never on the same level. And when the Democrats do win, the impetus isn't to work with them, it's to destroy them - that was how Bill Clinton was received.

For a good chunk of the GOP base, the Democrats are literally in league with the Devil, so any means of keeping them out of power is legitimate.

In fact, this attitude is only a matter of degrees away from the belief radical Muslims have that any wrong perpetrated against the "infidels" is justified.

This also ties into the so-called father of neo-conservatism, the philosopher Leo Strauss, who argued that the only way to stop liberalism from ruining society was for the elites (a.k.a his neocon followers) to exploit myths (religion) or create new myths (the Islamic Menace) that will unite the hoi polloi in an orgy of nationalistic fervor. Sounds like fascism? Yup. But an interesting feature of Straussism is that the elites don't care if the myths they are exploiting are actually true; that's irrelevant as long as they're effective. Which is why we get Karl Rove talking about the Christian "nut-jobs," and the Kerry-hates-the-troops nonsense from last week. All those Republicans parroting the talking point re Kerry knew it was bullshit but they didn't care because it was an effective myth.

Bill Maher is the host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" which airs every Friday at 11PM.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Bush shows bipartisan spirit. By nominating Bolton again

by Kos

Didn't Bush blab on and on yesterday about how bipartisan he was going to be? He has a funny way of showing it.

The White House resubmitted Bolton's nomination to the Senate today in a last-ditch effort to get him confirmed before the new Congress takes power.

Don't worry. The nomination is still not going anywhere.

It was just another middle finger from our supposedly "bipartisan" president.


George "Macaca" Allen to Concede


Bush's "Accountability Moment" Should Also Include McCain, the Think Tanks, and the Corporate Media

by Joseph A Palermo

Two hundred and twenty years later and the system still works! Hooray! Rick Santorum, Don Rumsfeld -- Good Riddance! George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove tried to use the trauma of 9-11 along with their war of choice in Iraq to impose on our country a "unitary executive" branch dictatorship.

In 2002, the Bush Republicans used the deceitful run up to the Iraq war -- WMDs and "mushroom clouds" -- to spread fear, and then smeared the patriotism of their opponents, (such as Senator Max Cleland's war record). They succeeded. They repeated this game plan in 2004, spreading fear and smearing John Kerry's military service. They succeeded again. In 2006, they tried the fear and smear strategy, but this time they failed miserably.

We should not only hold Bush accountable for this mess, but his army of enablers. We need to hold the right-wing think tanks accountable too. They should be taken out of the law-writing business. The Heritage Foundation dominated the wrong-headed thinking of Bush's domestic and foreign policies. The American Enterprise Institute "fellows" were cheerleaders for going into Iraq. The Hudson Institute, Hoover Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, and all of the others should be held accountable for being the brains behind Bush's dismal and murderous failures. They have shoved down our throats privatizing Social Security, cutting functioning government agencies like FEMA, and kick-down-the-poor "trickle down" economics.

Bush's failures are also the failures of Fox News and the right-wing echo chamber. Fox and the rest of the corporate media enthusiastically endorsed every one of Bush's power grabs. The over-paid and lazy elite Pentagon and White House correspondents, when they weren't yucking it up with Bush at expensive dinners, were lobbing softballs, and repeating his deceptions free of fact checking or any questioning of the frame Bush's PR machine imposed on the issues. The Pentagon press corps adored Donald Rumsfeld the entire time he was sentencing thousands of our young men and women to premature deaths. They never called Rumsfeld on his startling incompetence and hubris.

We should also remember that the Republicans' probable standard bearer for 2008, Senator John McCain, helped Bush and Rove all the way. McCain strongly supported going into Iraq. During the 2004 campaign, he had been joined at the hip with Bush the whole time Rove was shamelessly "Swift Boating" John Kerry's military record. McCain, the "maverick," sometimes put up symbolic criticisms only to fall into line every time when it really mattered. He would then appear on TV shilling for Bush's latest power grab, including the odious Military Commissions Act, passed in the election season of 2006 to frame the debate as one on "security," and to smear the Democrats as "cut and runners."

In 2006, John McCain campaigned vigorously around the country to maintain one-party rule. McCain supported John Bolton for the United Nations, and backed Donald Rumsfeld until the bitter end. He advocates privatizing Social Security. He has no problem with the pharmaceutical companies reaping windfall profits from the 2003 Medicare bill, and he failed to demand any real ethics reforms even after the Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, and Jack Abramoff scandals. Now McCain will try to reposition himself as Bush critic when he is anything but. We must ask the question: Where was John McCain when the Bush Administration was digging a deep hole in Iraq that has cost us $380 billion and 3,000 American lives?


Jon Stewart To Howard Dean: "Is There Some Sort Of Noise That You Could Think Of...That Would Convey Your Excitement Over Your Victory"...

From Comedy Central

DNC Chairman Howard Dean appeared on The Daily Show last night to discuss the Democrats' overwhelming victory in Tuesday's midterm elections. In a satellite "Seat Of Heat," Stewart asked Howard Dean, "Is there some sort of noise that you could think of, a vocalization perhaps, that would convey your excitement over your victory." Stewart was referencing Dean's infamous scream following the 2004 Iowa caucuses, a "vocalization" that many believe cost him the Democratic nomination. Dean offered Stewart a "booyah" in response.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


The Great Victory - crushing the developing myths

by Glenn Greenwald

The outcome of this election -- even with the not-yet-fully-finalized Senate victories in Virginia and Montana -- is as resounding and clear as it gets. For exactly that reason, all sorts of devastated Bush followers and confused and desperate media mavens are busy spawning myths about what happened -- often, in the case of the mindless pundits, unwittingly, even unconsciously. Most Americans know exactly what happened here, but it is nonetheless vital that these myths be smashed from the start and the clear lessons of this election be safeguarded:

(1) This is a shattering and humiliating defeat for the Republican Party. The excuse that it is just run-of-the-mill, standard sixth-presidential-year impatience is pure nonsense. In the sixth year of President Clinton's presidency, Democrats in the midterm elections gained seats in the House and there was no change in the Senate.

When a President and his political party are liked and their positions are in line with what Americans want, they win, even in the allegedly cursed "sixth presidential year." By contrast, when a President is deeply unpopular and his party perceived to be rife with radicalism and corruption, they lose. And when that perception is particularly strong and widespread, they lose badly. That is what happened here, and there is nothing mundane about. These results are extraordinary, and every Bush follower knows it.

(2) This was a resounding and emphatic rejection of the core, defining premises of the so-called "conservative" movement and what has morphed into the grotesque Republican Party. Nobody doubts that Americans vigorously rejected George Bush and his signature policy -- the invasion of Iraq. But it wasn't only Bush and Iraq.

Democratic candidates won -- in every part of the country and regardless of their ideology -- by committing themselves to one basic platform. They vigorously opposed what have become the defining attributes of the Republican Party and they pledged to put a stop to them: unchecked Presidential power, mindless warmongering, a refusal to accept or acknowledge realities (both in Iraq and generally), and the deep-seated, fundamental corruption fueling the Bush movement and sustaining their power.

Virtually every Democratic winner, from the most conservative to the most liberal, in the reddest and bluest states, have that in common. They all ran on a platform of putting a stop to the radicalism, deceit and corruption that drives the so-called "conservative" political movement.

Yes, it is true that some of the Democratic winning candidates are pro-life and/or opposed to gay marriage. None of that is new (Democrats are led in the Senate by a pro-life politician and most of them are on record opposing gay marriage). Their doing so prevented the Rovian Republicans from creating sideshows designed to obscure and distract from the vast damage which these Republicans have done to the country. But abortion and gay marriage aren't the issues that determined, or even meaningfully influenced, the outcome of this election, and everyone knows that.

Democrats didn't win by pretending to be anything. Democrats won because they emphatically and unapologetically vowed to oppose what the Republican Party has become and to put an end to its deeply corrupt and destructive one-party rule -- and that is what Americans, more than anything else, wanted.

(3) Republicans lost in every region and were defeated in critical races even in the reddest of states, such as Kansas, Indiana and Arkansas. The Republicans are rapidly collapsing into a regional party -- the Party of the South -- and even there, they lost incumbents and vast amounts of their support. They have pandered to such a small and deranged band of extremists for so long, and they are now finally paying the price in the form of a disintegrating movement and continuously shrinking band of followers.

(4) The notion that this is a victory for some sort of mealy-mouthed, Bush-lite, glorified centrism is absurd on its face. Democrats won by aggressively attacking the Bush movement, not by trying to be a slightly modified and duller version of it. The accommodationist tack is what they attempted in 2002 and 2004 when they were crushed. They won in this election by making their opposition clear and assertive.

Many of the Democrats who won were exactly those candidates who were supported most enthusiastically by the most liberal blogs. Atrios, for instance, raised money for only a handful of challengers and many of them won -- against Republican incumbents in previously red districts: Jon Tester, Patrick Murphy, Joe Sestak, Nick Lampson, Chris Carney. The same is true for the FDL/C&L list of candidates (Amy Klobuchar, Ben Cardin, Sherood Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand) and the Daily Kos/MyDD list (Jim Webb, Tim Walz).

Liberal blogs tend to support underdog Democratic candidates who are challenging Republican incumbents or open seats, i.e., the races that are most difficult to win. And yet a huge bulk of the winning Democratic candidates who won in those races were the ones supported by liberal blogs. And many blog-favored Democrats who lost were ones running in very red districts against GOP incumbents -- such as Angie Paccione (against the heinous Marilyn Musgrave) and Victoria Wulslin (against the equally horrible Jean Schmidt) -- and they came very close to winning.

Given those facts, the idea that this was some great repudiation of the blog-wing of the Democratic Party or that it was an endorsement of Broder-like, plodding centrism is purely wishful thinking on the part of those who wish it were so. The Democrats who won have one thing in common -- aggressive and unapologetic opposition to what the Republicans have become.

(5) The basic mechanics of American democracy, imperfect and defective though they may be, still function. Chronic defeatists and conspiracy theorists -- well-intentioned though they may be -- need to re-evaluate their defeatism and conspiracy theories in light of this rather compelling evidence which undermines them (a refusal to re-evaluate one's beliefs in light of conflicting evidence is a defining attribute of the Bush movement that shouldn't be replicated).

Karl Rove isn't all-powerful; today, he is a rejected loser. Republicans don't possess the power to dictate the outcome of elections with secret Diebold software. They can't magically produce Osama bin Laden the day before the election. They don't have the power to snap their fingers and hypnotize zombified Americans by exploiting a New Jersey court ruling on civil unions, or a John Kerry comment, or moronic buzzphrases and slogans designed to hide the truth (Americans heard all about how Democrats would bring their "San Francisco values" and their love of The Terrorists to Washington, and that moved nobody).

All of the hurdles and problems that are unquestionably present and serious -- a dysfunctional and corrupt national media, apathy on the part of Americans, the potent use of propaganda by the Bush administration, voter suppression tactics, gerrymandering and fundraising games -- can all be overcome. They just were.

Bush opponents haven't been losing because the deck is hopelessly stacked against them. They were losing because they hadn't figured out a way to convey to their fellow citizens just how radical and dangerous this political movement has become. Now they did, and as a result, Americans see this movement for what it is and have begun the process of smashing it.

(6) This is only one small step towards the restoration of our country and its defining values, not a magic bullet. There is much work to be done, accountability to be imposed, facts to be uncovered, radicalism to be reversed, damage to be undone, and the rule of law to be re-established. And none of that will be easy.

Even Democratic control of both the House and Senate is no guarantee that the abuses will end. Quite the contrary. It is worth recalling that the central premise of this President is the Irrelevance of Congress and of everything else other than his will and his power. Takeover of the houses of Congress and the end of one-party rule is but one weapon to be used in the ongoing fight. It is not the end of the fight. Far, far from it.

But if nothing else, yesterday's results should galvanize everyone who recognizes the danger this country has been placed in by the radical, hate-mongering, deeply corrupt authoritarians who have been controlling (and destroying) it. That movement has been severely wounded, but not yet killed.

UPDATE: I have posts up at C&L here and here. The latter post, which is basically a summary of point (5) above, has generated substantial controversy and anger in the comment section, which was not unexpected. But it is a point that I think really needs to be emphasized, particularly while the emotions from last night are still vibrant.


The Miraculous Appearance Of An Agenda

by Georgia10

Notice anything about the media's post-election coverage?

The Republican battle cry echoed by the press prior to the election was that Democrats have no plan. That Democrats are short on ideas. That Democrats were basically passive mutes. That Democratic candidates were basically blank-eyed dolts that dutifully kept their mouths shut as the GOP imploded.

In reporting on GOP talking points that "Democrats will raise your taxes," the press did not temper their parroting of these talking points with fact check (hey voters, remember, the President has the last word on taxes via his veto power). In reporting on outrageous ads, they failed to mention the lies contained therein, choosing instead to salivate on the shallow and gush over graphics.

The Democrats' 100-hour-plan was barely a blip on the radar screen. Hours of so-called "analysis" was focused on what those subpoena-hungry liberals would do to "embarrass" the president. Republican talking point after Republican talking point was fed into the noise machine and irresponsible members of the Xerox media spat the distortions out without analysis. They did not balance lies with truth as a responsible press should have done; rather, they chose to air the Republican hysteria without rebuttal.

Only now, after most races have been called and it's clear that the Democrats will take power, only now do they report on that which they had suppressed throughout the campaign. Now we get articles detailing the Democrat's tax plan. Now we get articles on the minimum wage and the effect of a Democratic house on industry. Now we get articles about how Democrats stand for a balanced budget. Now the talking heads report breathlessly on the 100 hour agenda, on how Democrats will affect the middle class, and how Democrats will try to fix healthcare.

Now the press chooses to report on the Democrats' agenda. Now they're laying out the difference for voters, only after they've cast their ballots. Only now have members of the press suddenly seen the Democratic plan materialize before them like some Lady of Lourdes in all her glory. Only after the votes are counted do they report that Democrat control means that D.C. will be bathed in the light of change.

But, as we know, throughout the campaign, the plan was always there. The ideas were always apparent. The difference between the parties was always crystal clear.

The Democrats didn't win because of the press. They won in spite of it, in spite of a press that gave wall-to-wall coverage of Kerry's blunder and call-me ads, in spite of a press that chose feigned scandal over true substance. In the face of such a hostile media environment, the Democrats still won. And that, my friends, is a true miracle.


Rummy to Resign

holy crap!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Yarmuth Beats Northup

Way to go, Louisville!


Republicans - Spreading Democracy Abroad - Suppressing Democracy at Home

As FireDogLake has been reporting, right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham today urged her listeners to obstruct efforts to protect voting rights by jamming a free voter protection hotline.

After playing a recording of DNC Chairman Howard Dean promoting the line to voters, Ingraham suggested her listeners call en masse:

Tell me if you think I’m crazy. This is what I’m thinking. I think we all need
to call 1 888 DEM VOTE all at the same time.


The DNC has released audio recordings of some of the prank calls to the hotline. Listen to one call HERE.

Full transcript:

DEAN (recorded): We have a hotline — 1 888 DEM VOTE — anybody can call that. If they feel like there are voting irregularities, we’ll send some folks over to the polling place in a matter of minutes.

(Phone ringing) OPERATOR: Leave a message with your question or press pound to be transferred at no extra charge to your local election protection team or the state Democratic Party. (Dialing) Your call cannot be completed at this time. Please try your call again later.

INGRAHAM: Wait a second! So — (Laughter) you call 1 888 DEM VOTE — otherwise ‘Dim Bulb Vote’ or ‘Dumb Vote’ — and all you do is get tranferred to muzak, then they cut you off. This is what I’m thinking. Tell me if you think I’m crazy. This is what I’m thinking. I think we all need to call 1 888 DEM VOTE all at the same time. And, by the way, when you call, when you call the number — and remember, it’s ‘Dem Vote’ not ‘Dumb Vote’ — when you call the number, as we did, and we got transferred, transferred, then we just got hung up upon. You know, we’re supposed to have these election teams within a matter of minutes, they’re supposed to be coming to the polls. Can you imagine what those people look like? Halloween all over again. So if you have trouble with the poll, you’re supposed to call, via 1 888 ‘Dumb Vote,’ and this is what you get.

OPERATOR: Thank you for calling 1 888 DEM VOTE. To continue in English, press 1. Para continuar in Espanol, oprima el dos.

INGRAHAM: Oh, and if you’re Saddam Hussein, no problem. Vote absentee, in Maryland or Ohio.



Go Vote Today.

Monday, November 06, 2006


In June, Hoekstra And Santorum Insisted ‘We Found WMD In Iraq,’ Hoekstra Now Says ‘I Don’t Know’

In June, Hoekstra unequivocally claimed that WMD had been found in Iraq. From a press conference with Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), 6/21/06:

Congressman Hoekstra and I are here today to say that we have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons.

Hoekstra and Santorum went on a media blitz, telling anyone who would listen that WMD’s had been found. (The pair seized on a report describing abandoned, degraded pre-1991 munitions that were already acknowledged by the White House’s Iraq Survey Group and dismissed.) Yesterday, Hoekstra reversed course, saying it he didn’t know whether there was WMD or not. CNN, 11/5/06:

HOEKSTRA: Well, you know, there’s 48,000 boxes of documents that we’ve acquired. I think it’s important to declassify as much of the information. I don’t know whether there was WMD or not. But what we should do is make sure that we go through the process and fully explore what Saddam was capable of doing.

It was Hoekstra’s insistence on declassifying documents found in Iraq that lead to the publication of a document describing how to build a nuclear weapon on a government website.

The truth is that there has been an exhaustive search for WMD in Iraq. None were found. Nevertheless, “Hoekstra is still pressing U.S. intelligence agencies to look for possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq–even though intelligence officials say further work is unlikely to reveal anything new about Saddam’s WMD programs.”

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Roasting Chestnuts

by Bill Maher

New Rule
: Now that we've sent "stay the course" down the memory hole, where Big Brother erases things, we've also got to retire: "The world is safer with Saddam Hussein out of power." "Don't you want America to win?" and "Wouldn't you torture someone if they knew where to find an atomic time bomb? "

One: The world isn't safer with Saddam out of power. The only people who are safer are the dead. A number which has, admittedly, increased. Saddam didn't have weapons, that he wouldn't give to Al-Qaeda, whose guts he hated. He might have changed his mind, built weapons he didn't have, and given them to people he hated, but then, so could Dairy Queen.

Two: Don't I want America to win? Are we talking about a war between Sunnis and Shiites, or the Winter Olympics? I thought we wanted democracy to win. 103 Americans died in Iraq last month. Was that winning? Would 1000 be a blow out? Also, didn't we already win? I remember reading about it on an aircraft carrier.

Three: The atomic time bomb that justifies torture. The Constitution specifically says you can't torture people, and we can assume they meant: Even if you really, really want to. Because you wouldn't make a rule against something people didn't want to do. The Eighth Amendment protects terrorists. The same way the First Amendment protects Dixie Chicks. The Framers thought protecting people from the government was more important than anything - even than protecting them from a mythical bomb. You can disagree, but that's not what our Constitution says.

Beyond the fact that it's, like, "illegal," the next problem with the pro-torture argument is that no one - in human history -- has ever been seconds away from defusing an atomic time bomb. You're not thinking of life on earth. You're thinking of "Goldfinger."

You can't make a reasoned argument against a law based on the most outlandish possible hypothetical counter-example you just pulled out of your ass. This is called the Fallacy of Accident. A twist on the old dicto simpliciter ad dictum secundum quid. Like I have to tell you.


Haggard admits to "sexual immorality"

by Joe in DC - 11/05/2006 02:14:00 PM

The Haggard scandal gives more insight into why the right wing theocrats -- and their Republican friends -- are so obsessed with gay sex:
In a letter that was read to the congregation of the New Life Church by another clergyman, Haggard apologized for his acts and requested forgiveness.

"I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment for all of you," he said, adding that he had confused the situation by giving inconsistent remarks to reporters denying the scandal.

"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life," he said.
There's a reason they're so obsessed with homos. Think about that next time you hear a politician or religious leader obsessing about gays.


Nuclear Lab Breach Could Be 'Devastating'

CBS News Exclusive: Data Found In Drug Raid Contains Weapons-Design Secrets

(CBS) The recent security breach at Los Alamos National Laboratory was very serious, with sensitive materials being taken out of the facility — possibly including information on how to deactivate locks on nuclear weapons, officials tell CBS News.

Officials say there is no evidence the information taken from Los Alamos was sold or transferred to anybody else, but there is no way to be sure right now.

As CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson was the first to report, secret documents apparently taken from the lab were found during a drug raid at a Los Alamos-area home last month. The FBI was called in to investigate.

Multiple sources now tell CBS News that the material includes sensitive weapons-design data.

A federal official who has been briefed on the issue said at least three USB thumb-drives were involved. Those small storage drives contained 408 separate classified documents ranging in importance from Secret National Security Information (pertaining to intelligence) to Secret Restricted Data (pertaining to nuclear weapons).

All of the information came from the classified document video media vault inside the Lab. Federal officials also found 228 pages — printed front and back — of classified documents in the drug trailer during their investigation.

Los Alamos claims to have done a careful and comprehensive analysis of the materials that it believes have been compromised as part of this matter, and has determined that "the majority of the material was classified at the lowest levels and was twenty to thirty years old."

"None of the documents in question were classified Top Secret," read a statement released by the lab. "None of the materials included any of the most sensitive nuclear weapons information."

But one federal official recently briefed on the issue says "It's devastating." If a nuclear weapon were stolen, the information "would tell the terrorists everything they need to do to get a weapon to fire."

Sources say she also had something called Sigma-15 clearance allowing her to access to documents explaining how to deactivate locks on a nuclear weapon.

The woman believed to have taken the information — Jessica Quintana, 22, who owned the trailer — worked in three classified vault rooms across Los Alamos:

  • Safeguards and Security (relating to strategic nuclear material control and accountability)
  • X-Division (top secret)
  • Physics P-Division.

    She also had top secret "Q-clearance" with access to all the U.S. underground nuclear test data. Quintana has not been arrested or charged. Her attorney says she took the material home to work and then forgot about it.

    For example, if a terrorist steals an American nuclear weapon, he could not detonate it due to the special access controls. This woman is authorized to read the reports that tell how to get around those safety controls.

    Only the FBI will be able to tell for sure what's on the thumb drives, but British security officials are worried that design plans for Trident nuclear weapons are among the stolen documents. They are making inquiries of U.S. officials. Britain used to test its nuclear weapons in the United States, and data on those tests may have been held at Los Alamos.

    Los Alamos has a history of high-profile security problems in the past decade, with the most notable the case of nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee. After years of accusations, Lee pleaded guilty in a plea bargain to one count of mishandling nuclear secrets at the lab.

    In 2004, the lab was essentially shut down after an inventory showed that two computer disks containing nuclear secrets were missing. A year later the lab concluded that it was just a mistake and the disks never existed.

    But the incident highlighted sloppy inventory control and security failures at the nuclear weapons lab. The Energy Department then began moving toward a five-year program to create a so-called diskless environment at Los Alamos to prevent any classified material being carried outside the lab.

    "We are currently taking decisive actions to further enhance our existing security measures that protect classified information employing both administrative and engineering controls," the lab said in a statement.

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