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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By Brad Friedman on 6/15/2004 2:58pm PT  

Sadly, I was on appointments during the afternoon and evening of Reagan's funeral (the final one) back at the Library, and only caught pieces of it later in various recaps.

The clips I saw from Ron Reagan Jr's moving eulogy to his father, however, certainly jumped out at me, and I had intended to try and review the transcript in full before posting to make certain that what I thought I'd heard, I actually did hear.

And it seems I heard correctly. Ronny took a not-in-anyway veiled shot at the current "President" in this passage:

"Dad was also a deeply, unabashedly religious man, but he never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians - wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage. True, after he was shot and nearly killed early in his presidency he came to believe that God had spared him in order that he might do good. But he accepted that as a responsibility, not a mandate. And there is a profound difference."

Message received.

As the story on the controversy stirred by his remarks in today's NY Times points out, young Reagan has been much more pointed in the past, as he was when he referred to the boy Bush after a Reagan Tribute at the 2000 Republican Convention when he said: "What's his accomplishment? That he's no longer an obnoxious drunk?"

Ouch. And then again in a Salon.com interview a few years ago:

"The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he's in now. Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the 80's. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father's - these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people."

Reagan's daughter Patti was equally unequivocal about the mis-comparisons between Reagan and Bush Jr. when she opined to Newsweek:

"A messy, horrible war that has spun out of control could very well determine the next election," Ms. Davis wrote before her father's death. "So should the miracle of stem-cell research - a miracle the Bush White House thinks it can block."

None the less, it won't stop the Right from doing whatever they can to gain personal political benefit from the dead man they claim to admire, as Newt Gingrich made clear in the Times piece:

"Ronald Reagan has to be looking down from heaven and smiling at the way the current president, generally speaking, stands and the things he's doing, even though they might well disagree on some specifics."

There has been no explanation so far for Newt's ability to receive Divine Messages from his dead hero. None the less, let the piranhic scavenging press on...

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By Brad Friedman on 6/15/2004 1:38pm PT  

In the unlikely event that my earlier stories here and here didn't convince you of the fact that Ashcroft is not just a bad attorney general, but a disgraceful and failed one particularly in this time of "war", take a look at Fake Conservative's scourge, Paul Krugman's take on Ashcroft in todays NY Times.

It begins with: "No question: John Ashcroft is the worst attorney general in history." And goes on to make a compelling case from there. It's well worth reviewing!

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By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2004 3:05pm PT  

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Like...yourself, for example?
Don't blame ya one bit.
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2004 12:23pm PT  

After replacing their main page entirely for the last week with an All-Reagan Tribute Page instead, the Bush-Cheney campaign website has finally restored their site.

Amusingly enough, however, there is still not a single picture of George W. Bush on the main page. There are, however, 4 pictures of John Kerry.

Any clues there on what they may be running on this year?

Meanwhile, John Kerry's official campaign website also features 4 pictures of John Kerry and not a single George W. Bush picture.

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Abu Ghraib abuses not just 'a few bad apples'?
No!
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2004 11:57am PT  

"Interrogation abuses were 'approved at highest levels'" according to this story in the Telegraph.

Really? Whoda thunkit?! Never could have seen this one coming!

As the growing scandal threatens to undermine President Bush's re-election campaign, senior aides have acknowledged for the first time that the abuse of detainees can no longer be presented as the isolated acts of a handful of soldiers at the Abu Ghraib.

"It's now clear to everyone that there was a debate in the administration about how far interrogators could go," said a legal adviser to the Pentagon. "And the answer they came up with was 'pretty far'. Now that it's in the open, the administration is having to change that answer somewhat."

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Artist or Terrorist? Same thing! Lock 'em up, Ashcroft!
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2004 11:08am PT  

Due to various deadlines I've been working on, I've been a bit slow getting to this (and too many others). But now that it's made it's way to Drudge, I guess it's "official" enough.

In case you haven't heard, eight Artists in New York are now being subpoenaed towards the indictment of the artist who's exhibit / performance art at a gallery in Buffalo has been confiscated by the FBI via claims of "BioTerrorism" as allowed in the dangerous and mis-enacted "USA Patriot Act".

I realize that the Rightwing Attack Monkeys have time and again instructed us how "Liberals" decry the "Patriot Act" as being dangerous, but that --- in reality --- it hasn't proven to be dangerous at all. Think again, Attack Monkeys. It's your Federal Government that is now encroaching on citizens First Amendment rights with virtually no standards of proof whatsoever.

Such an outrage, of course, if carried out by a Democrat President (see: Waco) would be a crime worthy of Impeachment Petitions circulated by the Attack Monkeys, links to which would proudly be featured on Hannity's website, and splashed across days and weeks of coverage on Fox News.

As it's enacted by a Republican "President" on the other hand, the story has gone almost without notice. Isn't the "Liberal" media strange that way?

Read up on it for yourself. See the details and sign a letter of support for the artists on their Defense Fund website. And stop by the website of the artists...er...bio-terrorists in question.

Or sit around and do nothing because 9/11 is just so scary that you are willing to let your Federal Government, in the person of John Ashcroft, toss your US Constitution out the proverbial window and apply it to artists who's material challenges the political interests of the Bush Administration's bio-tech cronies and contributors.

(Thanks to Brenda V. for having brought this to my attention several days ago!)

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A vial of anthrax doesn't look all that bad compared to a nuclear bomb.
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2004 4:25pm PT  

Ann Coulter makes Bill O'Reilly appear - if only briefly - to not be a hideous person with an evil insidious agenda! Not all that easy to do. But if anyone can, it would be the insipid Ann Coulter.

This sample exchange, and it's "Editor's notes" come courtesy of "Left I..." as taken from the full O'Reilly Factor transcript from May 27, 2004:

O'REILLY: Why has Bush fallen in the polls?

COULTER: Well, I suppose the question is, why isn't he soaring in the polls? He's running against a nitwit, the war is going magnificently well, the economy is picking back up, why isn't he at like 80 percent?

O'REILLY: I've talked to all of our Fox News political analysts. These are not raving liberals, all right, Ann? None of them come close to telling me the war is going magnificently well. What do you know that all of the Fox News military analysts don't know?
...
COULTER: It's pretty darn safe over there.

O'REILLY: Our Fox correspondents in Baghdad won't go out of the hotel. That's not a good sign, Ann.
...
O'REILLY: The weapons of mass destruction fiasco when they couldn't find them.

COULTER: Wait. We have found weapons of mass destruction...

O'REILLY: No we didn't, not to any great extent. [Editor's note - no, not to any extent]

COULTER: That is an important point. We have found weapons of mass destruction. That is something the media is repeatedly lying about. We have not found stockpiles. We found the plants for manufacturing, we found the experiments, we found the room for human experimentation labs. We found lots of weapons of mass destruction. [Editor's note - aside from "plants" and "experiments" not being "weapons of mass destruction," no such "plants" or "experiments" have been found]

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A Sunday Non-Sequitor Double Feature!
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2004 2:29pm PT  

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Would that ours wasn't forced to crumble along with it!
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2004 2:14pm PT  

Leading today's LA Times, a story of the 20+ former Senior Military Officials and High-Level Diplomats, many of whom served under and/or were appointed by both Reagan and Bush Sr. who will be issuing an unusual public statement this week calling for the Removal of George W. Bush from office. The group, which includes, among many others, the Admiral who was Reagan's own Joint Chief of Staff, charge that Bush's Foreign Policy; years of cooperation with important allies tossed aside and the diversion of resources from the "War on Terror" to the War on Iraq, have made the United States less secure:

A group of 26 former senior diplomats and military officials, several appointed to key positions by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, plans to issue a joint statement this week arguing that President George W. Bush has damaged America's national security and should be defeated in November.

The group, which calls itself Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, will explicitly condemn Bush's foreign policy, according to several of those who signed the document.

"It is clear that the statement calls for the defeat of the administration," said William C. Harrop, the ambassador to Israel under President Bush's father and one of the group's principal organizers.

Nowhere to turn. But Rush...well, maybe Sean is now in a better place to make the case for George W. Bush. But it don't look good.

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By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2004 12:34pm PT  

Looks like Rush continues to support "the sanctity of traditional marriage" in this, Reagan's Country, by announcing that he will be now be enjoying his third divorce.

Perhaps, as suggested, his otherwise good and holy heterosexual marriage to the woman he met online was indeed ruined by homosexuals being allowed to wed in Massacheussets. Yes, that must be it!

On a side-note, and a serious one, I understand well that this is likely going to be an enormously painful time for Rush. That makes me none too happy, despite my smart-alecky comments above (which are well deserved by he of the evil and dangerous forked tongue) and the joy he has displayed in the marital problems of others over the years. That said, no matter my feelings about him as one of the most dangerous things to happen to our country since Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, I truly do hope he is smart and disciplined enough to weather this difficult time without falling back on his unfortunate and sad drug addiction - as hypocritical as that was as well.

Having now alerted you both to Rush's most recent hyopcrisy (divorce, in light of his hateful statements about marriage) and a previous one (drug addiction and apparent felonies committed in support of it), I wish you all a lovely weekend and hope that it will be better than his.

Oh...and don't forget to sign this petition, so this danger to America might also see an end to his solo gig as the only talk radio show on America's Armed Forces radio.

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(and still not buried!)
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2004 10:51am PT  

Best line from last night's Daily Show was from Stephen Colbert:

In tribute to the great President, John, "The Ronald Reagan Federal Building" in Washington D.C. has now officially been renamed "The Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan Federal Building."

Second best, also Colbert's:

Tune in this weekend for my special tribute, "Reagan: Farewell to Coverage - A Look Back Remembered..." I'm sure my memories of the future coverage will have been poignant.
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Super Duper 'Morphing in America' Edition!
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2004 10:37am PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2004 11:40pm PT  

Do you think that Rush Limbaugh should be the only political talk show carried on Armed Forces Radio for the servicement in Iraq? I don't. I hope you don't either.

So sign this petition that David Brock, the one time Anita Hill basher turned Rightwing Media lie exposer, is sending to Donald Rumsfeld.

It really would be nice if the boys out there had a real idea of what they were being asked to do --- and why --- instead of the bullshit Rush puts into their ears as they head out to die. Hasn't Rush done enough damage in this country?

20,000+ have signed so far as of the time I signed it. Keep it going. Dittos, bitch.

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Bush Administratin Stuns All! Revealed as Having Lied!
Again!
By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2004 11:28pm PT  

You've likely heard from O'Reilly and the rest of the dutiful DittoHeads how Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 has already been debunked as pure fiction. Before any of them have even seen it, of course.

The most frequent charge that I've heard is how ridiculous Moore is to suggest that the US Government helped hustle members of the Bin Laden family and other Saudi nationals out of the country on a few airplanes during the days following 9/11 when all US air traffic had --- otherwise --- been grounded.

Even the always believable, and close personal friend of the Bush's, Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar played along on Meet the Press:

But it is not true that [Saudis] were flying when Americans were not flying, Tim. Americans were flying and restrictions were lifted, but there were --- I mean, the stoppage was lifted but there were restrictions. But think about it logically. Do you think --- where are we, in a Banana Republic?

Yes, your highness, I believe we are in a Banana Republic. And of course, Michael Moore has been trying to tell us that for years now (see best-sellers "Stupid White Men" and "Dude, Where's my Country?")

The St. Petersberg Times reported yesterday that Tampa International Airport now confirms that the rumors are true:

Two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, with most of the nation's air traffic still grounded, a small jet landed at Tampa International Airport, picked up three young Saudi men and left.

The men, one of them thought to be a member of the Saudi royal family, were accompanied by a former FBI agent and a former Tampa police officer on the flight to Lexington, Ky.

The Saudis then took another flight out of the country. The two ex-officers returned to TIA a few hours later on the same plane.

For nearly three years, White House, aviation and law enforcement officials have insisted the flight never took place and have denied published reports and widespread Internet speculation about its purpose.

But now, at the request of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, TIA officials have confirmed that the flight did take place and have supplied details.

Busted.

Here's what the former Tampa Police Department official, Dan Grossi, who was asked to escort the flight had to say about it:

"I'm over it," he said in a telephone interview. "The White House, the FAA and the FBI all said the flight didn't happen. Those are three agencies that are way over my head, and that's why I'm done talking about it."

Stunning. Welcome to your Banana Republic.

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By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2004 10:49pm PT  

Here's more that you likely missed while the "Liberal" media was spending 7 days of expensive air time --- during a time of war, mind you --- to televise the one flag-draped coffin we've been allowed to photograph for the last year.

The insidious John Aschcroft was layed out by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday for, amongst other things, refusing to turn over a 100 page memo, uncovered by The Wall Street Journal describing how the US could justify the torture of prisoners and somehow work around both US laws and Geneva Convention rules against such behavior. They could do this, according to the memo, "since authority to set aside the laws is inherent in the president."

Yikes. There goes the few bad apples theory if it wasn't already long gone.

Anyway, Aschroft refused to either turn over the memo or answer any questions about it --- or most of the other things the Senators, (who are Constitutionally mandated to oversee the Justice Department, ya know, Rule of Law and all) wanted him to explain.

All the while, Ashcroft arrogantly and outrageously insisted he just wasn't talkin'! And, he also wasn't invoking the 5th or Executive Privilege. He just didn't wanna talk, cuz...well...he didn't want to.

Senator Joe Biden, didn't much care for that...

BIDEN: Well, General, that means you may be in contempt of Congress then. You got to have a reason not to answer our questions, as you know from you sitting up here. There may be a rationale for executive privilege that misses the point, but, you know, you have to have a reason. You are not allowed, under our Constitution, not to answer our questions, and that ain't constitutional.

...

Now, one of the questions I have --- and if you don't have an answer, I understand. If you could just let me know. So seldom we get to see it. You know, I mean, when you were on the committee, Janet Reno was up 12, 13 times, 22 times in her tenure. You've been up three times. We miss you, John. We'd like to see you more.

It got pretty hot in there as Biden concluded with a useful reminder for both the Attorney General, and all of the jackasses out there in Bushland and Rushville who'd like to minimize what went on at Abu Ghraib:

I'll conclude by saying --- there's a reason why we sign these treaties: to protect my son in the military. That's why we have these treaties. So when Americans are captured, they are not tortured. That's the reason, in case anybody forgets it. That's the reason.

But it was was ranking minority member, Patrick Leahy who put into perspective just how this Administration has failed the people of the United States of America by failing in their fight against terror. Here's the full brutal and spot-on indictment:

Mr. Attorney General, welcome. It's been, I believe, about 15 months to pass since your last very brief appearance in March last year. Your testimony here comes today about 1,000 days after the September 11th attacks, and the subsequent launch of your efforts against terrorism.

As National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice acknowledged in her testimony before the 9/11 commission, the terrorist threat to our nation did not begin in September 2001. But the preliminary findings of the 9/11 commission suggest that counterterrorism simply was not a priority of your Justice Department prior to September 11th.

Problems ranged in your department from an understaffed foreign translation program, woefully inadequate information systems, cultural attitudes that frustrated information sharing across agencies. Just one day before the attacks, on September 10th, you rejected the FBIs request to include more money for counterterrorism in your budget proposal.

And while you have recently been critical of the so-called wall between criminal investigators and intelligence agencies, you did nothing to lower it during your first seven full months in office.

In fact, you put up exactly the same wall in your administration.

The president is fond of saying that September 11th changed everything, as if to wipe out all missteps and misplaced priorities of the first year of this administration. After the attacks, you promised a stunned nation that its government would expend every effort and devote all necessary resources to bring the people responsible for these crimes to justice. Certainly the American people would expect no less.

So a thousand days later and it is time to ask for the fulfillment of the promise you made.

Mr. Attorney General, your statement lists accomplishments of the Department of Justice since 9/11, but you leave out a number of things.

For example, of course the obvious, Osama bin Laden remains at large.

At least three senior Al Qaida operatives who helped plan the 9/11 attacks are in U.S. custody, but there has been no attempt to bring them to justice.

The Moussaoui prosecution has bogged down before any trial.

A German court acquitted two 9/11 co-conspirators, in part because the U.S. government and Justice Department and others refused to provide evidence to them.

Three defendants who you said had knowledge of the 9/11 attacks did not have such knowledge. The department retracted your statement and then you had to apologize to the court because you violated a gag order in the case.

The man you claimed was about to explode a dirty bomb in the U.S. had no such intention or capability, and because he's been held for two years without access to counsel, any crimes he did commit might never be prosecuted.

Terrorist attacks on Capitol Hill and elsewhere involving the deadly bioterror agent anthrax have yet to be solved, and the department is defending itself in a civil rights action brought by a man who you probably identified as a person of interest in the anthrax investigation.

U.S. citizens with no connection to terrorism have been in prison as material witnesses for chunks of time, and then, "Oops, I'm sorry," when what the Justice Department announced was a 100 percent positive fingerprint match turned out to be 100 percent wrong.

Non-citizens with no connection to terrorism have been rounded up seemingly on the basis of their religion or ethnicity, held for months without charges, and in some cases physically abused.

Interrogation techniques approved by the Department of Justice have led to abuses that have tarnished our nation's reputation and driven hundreds, if not thousands, of new recruits to our enemies to terrorism.

Your department turned a Canadian citizen over to Syria to be tortured. And then your department deported another individual to Syria over the objection of experienced prosecutors and agents who thought he was a terrorist and wanted to prosecute him.

And one of the most amazing things, your department, under your direction, has worked to deny compensation to American victims of terrorism, including former POWs tortured by Saddam Hussein's regime. You have tried to stop former POWs tortured by Saddam Hussein --- Americans --- you tried to stop them from getting compensation.

And documents have been classified, unclassified, reclassified, to score political points rather than for legitimate national security reasons.

Statistics have been manipulated to exaggerate the department's success in fighting terrorism. The threat of another attack on U.S. soil remains high, although how high depends primarily on who within the administration is talking.

Mr. Attorney General, you spent much of the past two years increasing secrecy, lessening accountability and touting the government's intelligence-gathering powers.

The threshold issue, of course, is --- and I believe you would agree with me on this --- what good is having intelligence if we can't use it intelligently. Identifying suspected terrorist is only a first step. To be safer we have to follow through.

Instead of declining tough prosecutions, we need to bring the people who are seeking to harm us to justice. That's how our system works. Instead, your practices seem to be built on secret detentions and overblown press releases.

Our country is made no safer through the self-congratulatory press conferences when we're facing serious security threats.

The government agency that bears the name of justice has yet to deliver the justice for the victims of the worst mass murder in this nation's history.

The 9/11 commission is working hard to answer important questions about the attacks and how the vulnerabilities in our system that allowed them to occur, but it can't mete out justice to those involved. Neither the 9/11 commission nor this committee can do the work of your Department of Justice.

Mr. Attorney General, since September 11th, you blamed former administration officials for intelligence failures that happened on your watch. You've used a tar brush to attack the patriotism of the Americans who dared to express legitimate concerns about constitutional freedoms. You refused to acknowledge serious problems, even after the Justice Department's own inspector general exposed widespread violations of the civil liberties of immigrants caught up in your post-September 11th dragnets.

Secretary Rumsfeld recently went before the Armed Services Committee to say that he, he Secretary Rumsfeld, should be held responsible for the abuses of Iraqi prisoners on his watch.

Director Tenet is resigning from the Central Intelligence Agency. Richard Clark went before the 9/11 commission and began with his admission of the failure that this administration bears for the tragedy that consumed us on 9/11.

And I'm reminded this week, as we mourn the passing of President Reagan, that one of the acts for which he will be remembered is that he conceded, that while his heart told him that the weapons for hostages and unlawful funding of insurgent forces in Nicaragua should not have been acts of his administration, his head convinced him that they were, and he took personal responsibility.

We need checks and balances. As much as gone wrong that you stubbornly refuse to admit. For this democratic republic to work, we need openness and accountability.

Now, Mr. Attorney General, your style is often to come to attack. You came before this committee shortly after 9/11 to question our patriotism when we sought to conduct a congressional oversight and ask questions.

You went before the 9/11 commission to attack a commissioner by brandishing a conveniently declassified memo and so unfairly slanted a presentation that President Bush himself disavowed your actions.

So I challenge you today to abandon any such plans for the session. Begin it instead by doing that which you have yet to do: talk plainly with us and with the American people, about not only what's going right in the war on terrorism --- and there are those things that are going right --- but also about the growing list of things that are going wrong, so we can work together to fix them.

Let's get about the business of working together to do our job, a better job of protecting the American people and making sure that the wrongdoers are brought to justice, are brought to trial and are given the justice that this country can mete out.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Hopeful signs that I someday may be able to support the Democratic Party again.

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