Monday, April 30, 2007

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

ThinkProgress reports Deputy Secretary of State Randall Tobias (pictured at his nomination with President Bush) required anti-prostitution loyalty oaths from any group wanting federal help:

"Former U.S. AID director Randall Tobias, who resigned yesterday upon admitting that he frequented a Washington escort service, oversaw a controversial policy advocated by the religious right that required any US-based group receiving anti-AIDS funds to take an anti-prostitution 'loyalty oath.'"
It cost Brazil $40 million in aid for what was until the Tobias policy a successful AIDS prevention programs. (ThinkProgress)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Was 7/7 "Mastermind" Captured Twice?

Did the US catch and release the mastermind of the 7/7 train and bus bombings in London?

A post at shows some confusion over the matter and suggests it may have happened.

A link above the headline at the Drudge Report this morning takes readers to this TimesOnline article about the capture of Abd al-Hadi al Iraqi.
"The al-Qaeda leader who is thought to have devised the plan for the July 7 suicide bombings in London and an array of terrorist plots against Britain has been captured by the Americans."
But shows that an al Qaeda operative and trainer with the same name was captured in January 2002 (pictured above):
"[A]nother man with the same name and similar background was reported captured in April 2007 and sent to Guantanamo Bay. Whether they are the same person remains unclear."
The London bombings happened on July 7, 2005, three years after the first capture of an Abd al-Hadi al Iraqi.

The TimesOnline article shows the man captured in 2007 was an officer in Saddam's Iraqi army. But shows he left Iraq before the Gulf War, to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. (TimesOnline/

Thursday, April 26, 2007

War Withdrawal Ads Running

Americans United is out with a new ad urging President Bush to sign the Democratic backed plan tying Iraq War funding to a withdrawal of US troops.
"The will of one nation against the stubborness of one man." -- Americans United ad

Corruption Windfall

The "culture of corruption" is a welcome windfall for a well known DC cottage industry -- lawyers. As politicians lawyer-up -- lawyers are flush with cash.

The Republican National Committee alone ran up a cool half million dollar tab in three months. And that was with just one firm: Covington & Burling. But the RNC won't say what all that lawyering was for.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee reports only a $50,466 retainer. Nice contract if you can get it.

The Washington Post checked into what politicians have been paying for lawyers in the first quarter of the year -- thanks to those handy-dandy financial disclosure forms. Some of what they found:
  • $9,949 -- Sen Mel Martinez's (R-FL) paid and unpaid legal bills this year -- he's fighting an $800,000 fine from the FEC
  • $90,000 -- Rep Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) paid and unpaid legal bills carried over from last year
  • $200,000 -- Former Rep Mark Foley (R-FL), legal fees partly from those pesky IMs and e-mails to underage pages
  • $75,000 -- Rep John Conyers (D-MI) -- though his staff isn't sure what they're for
  • $120,000 -- Former Sen Conrad Burns (R-MT) -- he was cozy with Jack Abramoff
  • $13,516 -- Rep John Doolittle (R-CA) who just had his home raided by FBI agents on the Abramoff trial. He's asking the ethics committee to let him fire up a legal defense fund
  • $132,025 -- Former Rep Curt Weldon (R-PA) who's under investigation for plum contracts directed toward his daughter
Looks like a lot of lawyers can move into bigger houses -- trying to keep Congress members out of the "big house." (WaPo)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Buffalo Brothel & Homeland Security

When the feds raided Buffalo massage parlors, they were curious about the Homeland Security officers' uniform and gun they found.

David Wolkiewicz owned the gun and uniform. He's also admitted in court papers to working at a parlor where prostitution took place. The Homeland Security officer even helped get the massage parlor it's own Sam's Club card. Don't know what they were buying in bulk -- not really sure I want to know.

Officer Wolkiewicz is free on bail and has pleaded not guilty. We'll have to wait and see if this story has a...happy ending. (The Buffalo News)

Maybe Not so Rock Solid 9% After All

Dick Cheney is the Rodney Dangerfield of Vice Presidents. No respect at all.

The Washington Post reports passersby booed the Veep on his way to the doctor:

Vice President Cheney exiting his motorcade in Foggy Bottom to scattered boos from pedestrians as he went to visit his doctor at George Washington University. A spokeswoman later said doctors were checking on that blood clot in his lower left leg -- seems to be improving, they say.
At least Sen Harry Reid (D-NV) will still talk to him. Oh, wait. (WaPo)

A Rock Solid 9%

“I’m not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody who has a 9 percent approval rating.” -- Sen Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) responding to Vice President Dick Cheney's criticism of the war funding bill from Congress.
Actually, the most recent CBS News/New York Times Poll (conducted between March 7-11 of this year) pegs Mr Cheney's approval rating at 18%. That's the lowest. But his highest recent numbers top out in the low 30s -- so there's not much to brag about anywhere on the list. (NYT/

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tillman called "Worm Dirt"

When NFL player Pat Tillman gave up a $3 million NFL contract to enlist after 9/11 -- he was hailed as a genuine American hero. Now that his family is fed up with multiple -- conflicting -- stories on how he died in a friendly fire incident, critics of the family have referred to him as "worm dirt."

Wow. Back in Vietnam, jerks only spit on uniforms. Of living soldiers. has the clip from C-SPAN.

From ESPN:
According to the Army officer who directed the first official inquiry, the Army might have more of a clue about the shooter's identity than it has let on. Asked whether ballistics work was done to identify who fired the fatal shots, Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich told"When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don't believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt." ESPN
Pat Tillman's brother Kevin enlisted with him. They served together in Afghanistan. And Kevin was in a convoy behind his brother's when Pat was killed. Kevin Tillman upset Republicans in the 2006 election campaign with an open letter on the occasion of his brother's birthday -- which happened to fall right before the 2006 election. In it, Kevin Tillman was critical of the Bush administration. He said in part:
Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.
Critics may feel safe attacking Pat Tillman after his death. They should remember another Ranger in the Tillman family is still willing to fight.

Friday, April 20, 2007

He's Here to Pimp...You Up

Hummer driving California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) will appear on MTV's "Pimp my Ride."

It's part of the Governor's Earth Day campaign to "boost the street cred of low-emission cars" -- as the Contra Costa Times puts it.

"Biofuel is not like some wimpy, feminine car, like a hybrid." -- Gov Schwarzenegger, Quoted in NewsWeek.
The show will highlight car shop, and $150,000 contributors to the Governor's campaigns, Galpin Auto Sports of Van Nuys. (Contra Coasta Times)

Having Solved All Other Problems...

State lawmakers around the country have taken up issues like supplying toilet paper for restaurant customers and to declaring watermelons a vegetable.

Just some of the stranger things collected from watching state legislatures. Some examples:
  • A Florida bill would require restaurants to keep all restrooms supplied with toilet paper at all times
  • Oklahoma declared watermelons the state vegetable
  • Wisconsin voted to let grocery stores hand out free 6 oz samples of beer
In my home state, the legislature met for 60 days every two years. There was a lot of support to change it to meeting two days every 60 years. (

Blowback from "Bomb Iran"

Left leaning isn't laughing at Sen John McCain's (R-AZ) "Bomb Iran" joke. Asked about Iran earlier this week, the Senator made a joke about the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann" -- substituting "Bomb Iran."

MoveOn is launching an ad -- already on YouTube -- critical of the joke. (AP)

Alberto's Alzheimers

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had a hard time remembering things when he testified on Capitol Hill Thursday. From
His performance clearly exasperated the committee members, who were angered as he invoked a faulty memory more than 50 times.
NPR reports Sen Charles Schumer (D-NY) kept count and came in with a higher number:

Schumer said he counted close to 100 "I don't knows" or "I don't recalls" in Gonzales' answers.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post puts it somewhere in between:

Explaining his role in the botched firing of federal prosecutors, Gonzales uttered the phrase "I don't recall" and its variants ("I have no recollection," "I have no memory") 64 times. Along the way, his answer became so routine that a Marine in the crowd put down his poster protesting the Iraq war and replaced it with a running "I don't recall" tally (see picture at right from the Washington Post).
Any way you count it, ain't you glad you didn't make it a drinking game? Well, unless you were alread on a liver transplant list? (

Need More? Here's The Daily Show's take on it:

The Bank

The guy who cooked up that "Hillary 1984" video that was everywhere a few weeks ago takes on Paul Wolfowitz. He's cast the World Bank President in the Steve Carell character in NBC's "The Office."

Another Congressman Raided

Less than a week after raiding Rep John Doolittle's (R-CA) northern Virginia Home, FBI agents have raided a business tied to Rep Rick Renzi's (R-AZ) familiy. That's Rep Renzi in the picture -- you can't keep up with the Congressional corruption without a program.

Financial disclosure firms indicate the business raided belongs to his wife, Roberta, and is valued at up to $5 million.
Roll Call reports Mr Renzi has stepped down from the House Intelligence Committee in light of the investigation. (Roll Call via

Wonkette reminds us of Rep Renzi's finest 15 minutes of fame. The C-SPAN video of floor debate -- where Mr Renzi and former Rep Katherine Harris (R-FL) are canoodling in the background.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran

Sen John McCain (R-AZ) does his own version of the Beach Boys' Barbara Ann:

Doolittle Raid Marked by Raid on Doolilttle

FBI agents have raided Rep John Doolittle's (R-CA) home in northern Virginia. No word on what they were looking for -- but the Congressman has been under investigation for ties to Jack Abramoff -- the lobbyist now serving time in prison on corruption charges.

Interesting historical fact: This "Doolittle Raid" happened on Friday, April13th. But the story broke Thursday -- 65 years to the day after THE Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, April 18, 1942. (Roll Call via

UPDATE: AP reports Rep Doolittle has given up his seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee because of the investigation. (AP)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Green Acres

Billions of dollars in farm aid have gone instead to urban areas since 2001.

The Washington Post reports on a laundry list of urban projects that got farm loans and aid including:
  • $1.95 million for a high speed ferry dock on Cape Cod (see picture)
  • $3 million to renovate a histoic sea captain's house and add museum art gallery space
  • $4.5 million for the Black Dog Tavern on Martha's Vinyard
The Post reports Washington has handed out more than $70 billion in grants and loans in the last six years under the Rural Development program. More than half has gone to urban areas. (WaPo)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

With our Apologies

FARK-TV goes to the Georgia state capitol with a card to help the state apologize for slavery.

Behind the Bushes

C-SPAN caught this odd video clip of Vice President Dick Cheney lurking behind the bushes at a Bush news conference this week.

The power behind the throne - or at least behind the Bush? (C-SPAN via YouTube)

Congress Ends the "War on Terrorism"

The House Armed Services Committee is putting an end to the term "global war on terrorism." A memo says communications should be more specific about military operations. Military Times reports:

Committee staff members are told in the memo to use specific references to specific operations instead of the Bush administration’s catch phrases. The memo, written by Staff Director Erin Conaton, provides examples of acceptable phrases, such as “the war in Iraq,” the “war in Afghanistan, “operations in the Horn of Africa” or "ongoing military operations throughout the world.”

The term "long war" is also banned from Committee communications.

President Bush coined the term "global war on terror" in the aftermath of 9/11.

Folks in the intelligence community say the catchall phrases don't really apply in situations like Iraq, where the vast majority of violence is from sectarian fighting -- and not the work of terrorist groups. (Military Times)

Iraqi Pork

Congress may be divided over the Iraq War -- and Democrats may be at loggerheads with the President over it -- but bipartisanship continues when it comes to packing Iraq spending bills with Pork.
"These war supplemental bills have always had wasteful domestic spending added. The difference is only in magnitude." -- Brian M. Riedl, a budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation quoted in the Washington Post

President Bush criticizes it now. But the Washington Post reports, he and his party were big fans of tacking on pork in past war spending bills:
"But such spending has been part of Iraq funding bills since the war began, sometimes inserted by the president himself, sometimes added by lawmakers with bipartisan aplomb. A few of the items may have weighed on the votes for spending bills that have now topped half a trillion dollars, but, in almost all cases over the past four years, special-interest funding provisions have been the fruits of Congressional opportunism by well-placed senators or House members grabbing what they could for their constituents on the one bill that had to be passed quickly."

Last year, the President himself stuck in:
  • $20 billion for hurricane recovery
  • $2.3 billion for bird flu preps
  • $2 billion for his immigration plan
Last year, Republicans in Congress added:

  • $500 million for farm subsidies
  • $118 million for the Gulf Coast fishing industry
  • $700 million for a railroad in Mississippi

That's all pretty much the same story as this year:

  • $120 million for Gulf fishermen
  • $74 million for peanut storage in Georgia
  • $25 million for California spinach farmers

The Post has more domestic spending items tacked on Iraq War bills going back even further. And it quotes Brian Riedl, a budget analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation as saying the pork is nothing new. (WaPo)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Onion Takes on Iraq

The Onion News Network reports that the Bush administration is so strapped for troops in Iraq -- it's calling up Civil War re-enactors.

As one panelist points out -- they won't leave significant others behind.

In The Know: Our Troops In Iraq

President Pot Addresses the Congressional Kettle

"The Democrats in Congress … have left Washington for spring recess without finishing the work.... They need to come off their vacation, get a bill to my desk." -- President Bush, shortly before hopping a flight to his Crawford, Texas Ranch. Mr Bush has spent more than one full year at the ranch in his six years in office (see video below). (ABC)

Big Brother is Still Watching You

George Orwell warned us it'd be this way.

In his novel 1984, Mr Orwell wrote about a future where people's every move was watched by two-way "telescreens" in their houses and cameras everywhere else.

Great Britain has 4.2 million closed circuit TV cameras around the country -- all connected to let the authorities keep a watch on potential crimes.

Some might call that a perfect example of Big Brother watching the people.

So just for grins, drew a 200 yard circle around Mr Orwell's old house in London. They found 32 cameras within it. (thisislondon)

Monday, April 02, 2007

What We Call The News

The folks at JibJab take on the media. It's a futuristic dystopia where Walter Cronkite is "replaced by blondes with big boobs" in What We Call the News:

Who's Running the Asylum?

Prescription drug prices in the US are the highest in the world. Same drugs sold in other countries are far cheaper -- but it's illegal to buy them overseas.

60 Minutes explores how an army of pharmaceutical company lobbyists, armed with $100 million a year, got a bill through Congress to keep prescription drug prices high in this country.

Part of the strategy -- lobbyists, not Congress members, wrote the bill. Congress just rubber-stamped the 1,000 page plan -- during a 3:00 am vote. Like anyone would be watching C-SPAN then. (CBS)

Your Department of Homeland Insecurity at Work

KUSA in Denver reports undercover agents were able to sneak liquid explosives and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) past security screeners and onto airplanes at Denver International Airport.
"In one test, sources told 9NEWS an agent taped an IED to her leg and told the screener it was a bandage from surgery. Even though alarms sounded on the walk-through metal detector, the agent was able to bluff her way past the screener."

The TV station also found a woman who claims she's carried her personal Taser onto at least six flights in the past year or so. (KUSA)

Atomic Secrets Missing -- Again

For the 13th time in four years, the Energy Department has lost track of computers used to make nuclear weapons. From the New York Times:

"The office in charge of protecting American technical secrets about nuclear weapons from foreign spies is missing 20 desktop computers, at least 14 of which have been used for classified information, the Energy Department inspector general reported on Friday. "

The Energy Department released a statement from Secretary Sam Bodman saying they recognize "we need to manage this place better."

The IG notes, though, the Secretary and his Department have yet to release any plan of action or timeline for making fixes. (NYT)

Bush Balks at First Pitch

President Bush has decided to skip the tradition of throwing out the first pitch on opening day of baseball season. William Howard Taft started the tradition of the President tossing out the first ball at the Washington DC home opener back in 1910. President Bush resumed the tradition when baseball returned to DC in 2005 (see photo). But he joins an elite club in skipping two season openers in a row. From the Washington Post:

"Except for when the world was at war, only two other presidents, Woodrow Wilson and Richard M. Nixon, missed opening Day ceremonies two years in a row. And Wilson had suffered a stroke."
Mr Bush is the picture of health, but his poll numbers are on life support. DC is also among the blue-est of the Blue States. Many fans wear the Nationals' batting caps with the letters "DC" -- because they balk at the idea of wearing the "W" of the game caps.

Could be the President didn't want to strike out on camera with fans booing him?

That happened last year when Vice President Cheney went in as the President's relief pitcher (see video below). (WaPo)

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