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Friday, April 22, 2005

Things Got Bad, and Things Got Worse

It is my hope that as some GOP leaders come out against John Bolton, that any chance he had in becoming the UN Ambassador will disappear. I was impressed that Senator Voinovich broke rank with the GOP and said ended up delaying the Senate Foreign Relations Committees vote to confirm Bolton, and I am equally impressed that former Secretary of State Colin Powell has been speaking with Republicans about his concerns over the nominee.

The report found in the New York Times indicates that Powell has been speaking with "at least two wavering Republicans" regarding his concerns with John Bolton. Powell's comments to other Republicans come on the heels of President Bush's claims that any opposition to Bolton is politically driven.

I think the opposition to Bolton has less to do with politics and more to do with conscience. Why would a man who has, on several occasions, become verbally abusive, as well as down right lied, even be considered to be an ambassador to the United Nations. The only group that John Bolton should be a part of is group therapy, the man should not be a key figure in foreign policy, he should be a daily attendant in anger management classes. Is it too much to ask that President Bush nominate people that are class acts with an established track record of working with people in order to get results?

Ryan Oddey

Article added at 12:03 PM EDT


By: Thomas McKelvey Cleaver

With the news that the Senate Judiciary Committee voted yesterday by identical 10-8 party-line votes to send the nomination of California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown to a seat on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia and that of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen to a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to the full Senate for confirmation, this coming week is fish-or-cut-bait time for Senate Majority Leader Bill "Kitten-Killer" Frist.

This Sunday he's set to appear on the "Justice Sunday" program set up by the sawdust-covered snake-handlers of the Rapture Right, to set the stage for implementing the "nuclear option" to end judicial filibusters by demonizing the Senate Democrats for running a campaign against "people of faith" nominated to judicial office. Senator Kitten-Killer has a Real Problem here: if he can't prove to the snake-handlers that he can do this, his would-be 2008 presidential campaign starts circling the toilet bowl.

At the same time, his willingness to join with the ultra-extremists has just made the likelihood of getting any sort of compromise from the Democrats on this issue absolutely impossible - even if he had the competence to do so, which he doesn't - not to mention it gives them every reason to cease cooperating with him on anything else. This ultimately makes his fellow corporate country-clubbers upset with him for making it more difficult to complete enactment of the No Corporation Left Behind Legal Reform Program.

This is put-up-or-shut-up time for Senator Kitten-Killer, and he's finally at the point where everyone can see him as the guy who managed to paint himself into a corner without realizing he was doing so over the past few months he spent huffing and puffing and threatening to blow the house down.

While I don't know that much about Priscilla Owen, Justice Brown is an African American jurist who has yet to meet a civil rights law or a civil rights legal decision - going back to Brown vs. Board of Education! - that she believes is constitutional. With these views, she easily appeals to such far right activists as Michael Schwartz - Chief of Staff of Oklahoma GOP Senator Tom Coburn - who was heard outside the recent "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith" conference held by the Far Right in Washington last month saying, "I don't want to impeach judges. I want to impale them!"

However loud the Schwartzes are in the halls of the Senate Office Building, the simple truth Senator Kitten-Killer can't admit is that a far larger number of Republican senators than those who have publicly stated either ambivalence or outright opposition to "going nuclear" don't want this insanity. To them, Bush has nominated 205 judges and gotten 195 approved - one of the highest rates of any president in the past 30 years - and ramming through ten nominees whose support is concentrated in a small number of hardcore Senate fire-breathers and a huge array of radical-right social-conservative interest groups (most of whom make these Senators privately nervous to be in the same room with) just isn't worth the potential of wrecking enactment of the Republican program while they can get away with it in the remainder of this year's session. This year is make-or-break time for them, too, since it will be much harder to get support for what's left on the list next year, as even the loonies in the House will start sniffing public opinion polls as the elections near.

Senator Kitten-Killer's presidential ego, working in tandem with his reliably-clumsy negotiating style, now has a lot of Republicans sitting in an unwelcome spot.

Even Senator Rick "Man-on-Dog" Santorum, who's been the leading fire-breather on the "nuclear option" since at least 2003, has woken up and sniffed the wind coming from the outhouse. No doubt the increasing lead in polls over him of his most probable Democratic challenger next year has had no small part in this growing awareness of how close he is to the cliff. Reports have him now privately arguing for a delay by Frist after reading adverse internal party polls showing that - while a majority of Americans oppose the filibuster - most also accept the Democratic message that Republicans are trying to destroy the tradition of debate in the Senate. The chickens released during the Schiavo Circus are coming home to roost.

Not only is the wind shifting so much that even Santorum can get a whiff, Senator Kitten-Killer's math isn't adding up. In addition to Senators McCain and Lugar who have already announced opposition to this, the Republicans are down to wondering if Senator Hagel will be the 51st vote in opposition. With what Hagel has been learning about the far right fringe of the party in the Bolton hearings this past week, and the fact that no one is certain where Senator Mike DeWine is since he refuses to take a public position, Frist is in the position of having to push the plunger without knowing if the bomb will actually explode.

If only the problems the Far Right Republicans are facing were limited to this, they might weather the coming crisis. Fortunately, their corrupt incompetence is in evidence not only in the Senate but also the House of Representatives and the White House.

This writer predicted that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay would not only not leave his office, but would make a political fight of things during which he would rip off the mask and reveal himself publicly as the Rapture Right Texas Lunatic he is - a figure that is very scary to the rest of the country. Every time he opens his mouth, I tell myself "he can't go further," and he continues to amaze me by going further and further. His assaults against the federal judiciary - and in particular his absolute looniness in going after Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy - are now so extreme that no less a dyed-in-the-wool conservative legal scholar than former Solicitor General and anti-Clinton activist Ted Olson has written in the New York Times that: "Calls to investigate judges who have made unpopular decisions are particularly misguided, and if actually pursued, would undermine the independence that is vital to the integrity of judicial systems... Federal judges are highly unlikely to submit to such a demeaning process and, if push came to shove, the public would undoubtedly support the judges."

Olson went on to specifically denounce "a prominent member of the leadership of the House of Representatives" who has "characterized another justice's approach to adjudication as 'incredibly outrageous,'" then went on to make this crucial point:

"[A]bsent lawlessness or corruption in the judiciary, which is astonishingly rare in this country, impeaching judges who render decisions we do not like is not the answer. Nor is the wholesale removal of jurisdiction from federal courts over such matters as prayer, abortion, or flag-burning. While Congress certainly has the constitutional power, indeed responsibility, to restrict the jurisdiction of the federal courts to ensure that judges decide only matters that are properly within their constitutional role and expertise, restricting the jurisdiction of courts in response to unpopular decisions is an overreaction that ill-serves the long-term interests of the nation. As much as we deplore incidents of bad judging, we are not necessarily better off with - and may dislike even more - adjudications made by presidents or this year's majority in Congress."

When actual for-real conservatives like Olson arrive at this point, the Far Radical Right's belief that a 2% electoral victory last November constitutes a "mandate" stands revealed for the fantasy it is.

For the White House, the recent economic numbers reveal that what has been at best an anemic economy under the program of No Billionaire Left Behind tax cuts is now an economy in real danger of heading into recession as Harry and Sally attempt to make ends meet with a 2 percent pay cut from inflation on top of only a 2.3 percent pay increase in the four years of Bush's presidency while they now face healthcare increases of 14 percent and a $75 tab to fill up the family SUV. The rubber band of the middle class is close to snapping. This week it became very likely that no less than General Motors is contemplating Chapter 11 bankruptcy. To top that off, in the face of economic conditions that have historically been dealt with by "forgiveness" through the bankruptcy laws, the middle class that will be forced into bankruptcy through loss of a job or catastrophic medical bills has now been thrown - by a bipartisan congressional majority - into a system where the legal loan sharks can turn them into indentured servants for the rest of their lives, rather than provide them the second chance they'll so desperately need.

As Balz and Weisman said in Thursday's Washington Post:

"Inflation and interest rates are rising, stock values have plunged, a tank of gas induces sticker shock, and for nearly a year, wages have failed to keep up with the cost of living."

"Yet in Washington, the political class has been consumed with the death of a brain-damaged woman in Florida, the ethics of the House majority leader, and the fate of the Senate filibuster."

"The disconnect between pocketbook concerns of ordinary Americans and the preoccupations of their politicians has helped send President Bush's approval ratings on the economy down, while breeding discontent with Congress. The problem has yet to grow into a political wave that could sweep significant numbers of lawmakers from power next year, but both parties face risks if they fail to pivot their attention to economic issues."

Not to mention that every report out of Iraq puts the lie to the optimism of the Pentagon's "Five O'Clock Follies" in claiming the tide has turned and the swamp is now draining. Not only do Harry and Sally have to worry about their daily lives, there's the possibility Harry could be called up, or their kid will be going on his or her third tour to the war. No wonder 60% of the public now think the war wasn't worth the effort and that the Bush administration actively lied to get us into it.

Every poll of the American public on these issues has shown overwhelming public disapproval of Republican extremism. Americans may be conservative, but they have never been supportive of full-bore far right "conservatism," and the extremist over-reaching since the ?landslide of 2004" has more and more of them asking themselves "what did we do?"

There's a certain amount of satisfaction to be had, watching the Republicans put their foot on the accelerator as they speed toward the cliff. The sad thing is, they're going to take a lot of people with them in the process - not all of whom are deserving of the punishment (though watching the lower classes of the Christian Far Right get their economic clocks cleaned will be proof to me that there is indeed justice in the universe).

But the fact remains - that great big Chevy Suburban with the yellow "Support The Troops" sticker and all the bells and whistles is kicking dirt as the tires squeal and the dust flies. And that really is a cliff out there ahead.

Cleaning up the mess in the bottom of the canyon afterwards is going to take a strong stomach. One hopes the Democrats will jump out of the speeding Suburban in time to participate in that task.


According to a report in the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader "Dr." Bill "Kitten-Killer" Frist has made a Command Decision about the business of the Senate next week:

There were signs, though, that Dr. Frist was planning to postpone the confrontation for at least another two weeks, when the Senate returns from apring recess.

Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, said Dr. Frist had told him he would up a transportation measure next week, an indication that he did not expect a filibuster fight before the Congressional recess.

Evidently, even the most famous Kitten-Killer to sit in the Senate can read the polls that show collaborating with the Theocras of the Rapture Right is not the way to "win friends and influence people."
Another recent article in the Los Angeles Times quotes "Dr." James C. Dobbs (who is not a minister, but rather a "Doctor" of psychiatry who is generally considered a fraud and charlatan by his professional peers) as saying that Republicans have only an 18-month "window of opportunity" before Bush becomes a "lame duck." Dobson went on to say, "If we let that 18 months get away from us and then maybe we get Hillary to dealwith or who knows what, we absolutely will not recover from that."

We can only hope. Defeating the Rapture Right, who want to impose a
theological dictatorship on America worse than that the Taliban inflicted on Afghanistan, isas important as was the defeat of their traitor ancestors 140 years ago. The eighteen months between now and the elections of 2006 are as crucial as any in the history of the Republic.

Article added at 1:16 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, April 22, 2005 3:13 PM EDT
Thursday, April 21, 2005


Senator Rick "Yip Yip" Santorum has been one of the leading voices for the "nuclear option" since the GOP began talking about. Apparently all of that has changed according to a news report that says internal GOP polls indicate Americans do not favor the "nuclear option."

According to The Hill, Santorum, who will be facing a tough election in 2006, has conceded that the public does not want to see the elimination of the minority filibuster, but in true GOP fashion Santorum has blamed the publics reaction on the Democrats for misconstruing the facts.

Anyone who thinks that Santorum is not still in favor if the "nuclear option" is naive, as Santorum is simply changing gears in public because he knows if he doesn't it may cost him his spot in the Senate. Hopefully the people of Pennsylvania look past his smoke screen and give this guy the pink slip.

Ryan Oddey

Article added at 11:00 AM EDT


By: Thomas Mckelvey Cleaver

For all those who were scandalized yesterday by my comments about Pope Ratsy's cowardice during the Second World War:

From Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Catholic newspaper, The Tablet:

This was a European, after all, who was both steeped in Bavarian piety, and as a child had grown up in Hitler's shadow.

After, reflecting on the war and on Nazism, he had rejected the lesson drawn by other German theologians, who perceived that its central lesson was the dangers of blind obedience. Instead, he decided that only a faith based on a Church with sound doctrinal values, and a strong central authority could withstand a hostile culture.

Article added at 10:44 AM EDT
Wednesday, April 20, 2005


By: Thomas McKelvey Cleaver

So, the first Pope of the Inquisition takes office. Yes, he headed "The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith." That's today's name for The Inquisition. Pope Ratsy was The Enforcer who spent the past 25 years of his life silencing or driving out of the church anyone who actually believed that the ministry of Jesus Christ had anything to do with ameliorating the lives of the poor, the people who spend their lives dealing with the crimes of those who support this moral scumbag whose ministry will be devoted to comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted, in which he will join all the other fundamentalists of all religions in their war against human progress.

Poor boy, young Ratsy was "forced" to join the Hitler Youth at age 14. Never mind that at the same time he was "rendering unto Caesar" because he could do no else, that the young German Catholics of the White Rose were actively and publicly refusing to collaborate with the anti-Christian Nazi scum, at risk of their lives, which they willingly gave up to the guillotine as the price of opposition to Hitler and his out-of-the-gutter murdering scum. No, even in a village where other boys found ways not to participate in the Hitler Youth, young Ratsy knew that "I was only following orders" would define his life. Never mind that at the same time he was collaborating with the devil, a young man only six years older - Karol Wojtylik - was committing what was defined by the collaborator government of Poland as an act of treason: committing himself to become a Catholic priest.

So much for the moral underpinning of Pope Ratsy.

This pig spent his entire career as a priest attacking those who wanted the Church to take its place beside the "wretched of the earth" to whom Christ first preached, or defending those perverts who used their positions of authority to defile and destroy the faith of those who they were supposed to protect and defend.

Once again, the Catholic Church reveals itself as the single worst institution in existence. Pope Ratsy stands tall in the tradition of demagogues like Clement of Alexandria - later raised to Pope for the crime of destroying the Library of Alexandria and plunging Western Civilization into a thousand-year dark age. Pope Ratsy would have voted to execute Galileo for the crime of believing what the evidence of his study revealed - that the earth revolves around the sun. Indeed, for the past 25 years, Pope Ratsy ha demanded of the faithful that when the knowledge of the experience of their lives conflicts with the teachings of his church, the knowledge of reality is to be thrown aside.

This scumball says that people like me who believe in Buddhism are "the new Communists," to be rooted out and destroyed. Allow me to express a very non-Buddhist hope: may you receive the "justice" your predecessor missed in 1981, you Nazi-collaborating pig. Once again, the Catholic Church is at war with modernity, as surely as they were when they prosecuted Galileo.

No wonder George Bush, son of a Nazi collaborator who financed Hitler's rise to power and only avoided prosecution and imprisonment under the Trading With The Enemy Act by getting himself elected Senator, finds this Nazi collaborator and fellow enemy of modernism a "spiritual leader." Scum of a feather flock together.

Article added at 10:29 AM EDT


Thomas McKelvey Cleaver

Five U.S. Army troops returning from an anti-terrorist/anti-drug assignment in Colombia were busted on Tuesday for bringing back 35 pounds of cocaine.

Colombia has asked for their extradition to stand trial for smuggling, under the bi-lateral extradition treaty we have with them. In the ten years since
the Colombian government re-instituted an extradition treaty with us, 200 Colombians have been extradited to the United States under this treaty for
drug-related crimes.

The American ambassador told the Colombian government that our soldiers were immune to prosecution under the terms of this treaty.

I'm sure the Army will "prosecute its own" here. Let's see: killing an Iraqi and committing a war crime gets the usual trooper who does it (according to the latest "court-martial") a sentence of "time served" and a discharge from the Army. So what will smuggling 35 pounds of cocaine without killing anyone
be worth? Aweekend in the stockade? Partying with the guards?

To paraphrase a well-known line from the movies, "I love the smell of right wing hypocrisy in the morning. It smells like....Bullshit."

Article added at 10:21 AM EDT
Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Some Surprising News out of DC as the John Bolton confirmation suffered a setback today. The GOP must have been a bit surprised when George Voinovich and Chuck Hagel broke rank and sided with the Democrats in a move that will delay the vote on John Bolton.

As I said earlier, and as we have been reporting all along here at TAFM, Bolton does not belong in the United Nations. Recent allegations , if they are true, will clearly indicate a pattern of abuse by Bolton. I applaud Senators Hagel and Voinovich for listening to their conscience in a move that will hopefully result in Bolton's failure to represent America in the United Nations.

Its a small victory for the Dems and for America, and the battle isn't over, but this is a step in the right direction.

Ryan Oddey

Article added at 7:30 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 7:32 PM EDT


As the Senate Foreign Relations Vote on John Bolton approaches, new allegations regarding his past conduct have surfaced. This new information only furthers the point that John Bolton should not represent anyone, at anywhere, at anytime, especially when it comes to representing the United States in the United Nations.

Courtesy of The Washington Note, evidence that "John Bolton was actually voted down by senior partners of Bolton's law firm, Covington and Burling, where he worked before serving in the Department of Justice, because of concerns over his abusive behavior. An individual who would only speak anonymously shared the content of the super-secret partner's meeting with me yesterday.

In addition, after Bolton left the first Bush administration in 1993, he served on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom and engaged in not only abusive behavior inside that government agency but also worked hard to have two people with whom he disagreed fired. The victims -- who now work at other institutions in Washington -- are reticent about making public claims because of Bolton's continued ability to cause negative consequences for them and their fear that he will seek retribution."

Somehow I do not think that the playground bully approach that Bolton seems to have used for years would ever really be effective in the United Nations. Furthermore, this "bully" policy will do nothing but weaken our ties with the international community.

Fortunately, more Republicans are beginning to speak out against Bolton. Colin Powell's Chief of Staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, gave an interview to the New York Times in which he said ""Under Secretary Bolton was never the formidable power that people are insinuating he was in terms of foreign policy, or blocking the policies that Secretary Powell wished to pursue," Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Mr. Powell's chief of staff, said in a telephone interview.

"But do I think John Bolton would make a good ambassador to the United Nations? Absolutely not," Mr. Wilkerson said. "He is incapable of listening to people and taking into account their views. He would be an abysmal ambassador."

Lets hope that those who get to vote on Bolton's confirmation do some real research and realize that Bolton would be nothing but a cancer in the United Nations.

Ryan Oddey

Article added at 10:20 AM EDT
Monday, April 18, 2005

Crazy, Crazy for feeling......

Have you ever heard an idea that was so insane, that in the back of your head Patsy Cline's song "Crazy" started playing. Maybe I am the only one who does that, but this classic country tune certainly could have been applied to an idea that was proposed by Rep. Steve King.

Courtesy of The Carpetbagger Report, King is on record as saying "Congress can't lower judges' salaries or fire them ? provisions tucked into the Constitution by the Framers, who watched judges serve at the whim of King George III. But lawmakers can eliminate their positions altogether.

"We could reduce the size of the Supreme Court,? says Rep. Steve King. "It doesn't take nine judges, it only takes one. It would just be Chief Justice William Rehnquist with his card table."

Unfortunately, King has said this type of garbage before.

"[Courts] have defied federal law. And this confrontation now is the confrontation between the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, the will of the people and the judicial branch of government," said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican. "Constitutional authority will either be imposed upon the judicial branch of government, or we might as well board up the Capitol and turn this country over to the whims of the judges."

Mr. King said he is planning a legislative strategy that will involve offering amendments to appropriations bills designed to "put the courts back in their appropriate constitutional place," but said it is too early to say exactly what he will pursue.

Is he crazy? Seriously?

I doubt that congress would ever reduce the size of the Supreme Court, but that does not excuse King from making comments like this. The unfortunate part, is that although it is unlikely that the GOP would try and reduce the number of justices on the Supreme Court, it is not out of the question. The GOP obviously has no respect for the balance of power, as they try and eliminate minority filibusters as well as try and order Federal Judges what to do, most recently in the Schaivo case. Still think that the "Radical Right" doesn't exist?

Ryan Oddey

Article added at 12:17 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, April 18, 2005 12:18 PM EDT


I know that Senator Rick Santorum has been called the mad dog, why I do not know, but after reading his Op-Ed Piece in the Washington Post yesterday I am starting to think a new nickname may be in order. Idiot comes to mind, or maybe "race card player", although I doubt Santorum would go for either suggestions. Still, when you consider what he wrote, it is apparent that Santorum has no problem dropping the race card.

In his piece, Santorum compared two judicial nominees who had not yet been approved by congress. Now, just like in those "Highlights" Magazines from when I was a kid, lets compare the paragraphs written about the nominees and find the differences. The first nominee mentioned, is Texas Supreme Court Judge Priscilla Owen. Santorum writes: "It has been almost four years since President Bush nominated Texas Supreme Court Judge Priscilla Owen to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Since then the Senate has held two hearings, conducted many days of floor debate, analyzed Owen's judicial opinions down to the last comma and attempted four times to invoke cloture so that debate could finally be concluded and the Senate could take an up-or-down vote on her nomination.

Not only has Owen withstood this intensive examination, she has shown time and again that the American Bar Association got it right when it unanimously awarded her its highest possible rating. She was also reelected with 84 percent of the vote in 2000 and had the endorsement of every newspaper in Texas. Owen has earned the support of a clear majority of senators."

Alright, that seems fine, now lets look at how Santorum referred to another nominee, Justice Janice Rogers Brown.

"This July will mark almost two years since the president nominated Justice Janice Rogers Brown to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Brown started life as the daughter of a sharecropper in the segregated South and through hard work and determination became the first African American woman to serve on California's highest court. In 2002 she was called upon by her colleagues to write the majority opinion more often than any other member of the California Supreme Court. She was retained with 76 percent of the vote in her last election. In short, Brown has shown herself to be unquestionably trustworthy, highly intelligent and well within the mainstream, and she has earned the enthusiastic support of a majority of the U.S. Senate."

Now, can you spot the difference? If you said that Santorum's bit about Owen seemed to make her case based on her credentials alone, but his piece on Owen played the race card, then you win. Of course, you probably do not feel like much of a winner as you probably feel some level of disgust towards Santorum. That is a common reaction when dealing with the "Mad Dog".

The Bush Administration has nominated numerous minorities to different positions, including Alberto Gonzales and Condoleezza Rice, however I think a persons gender or skin color is far less important than their political record. Opposition towards Alberto Gonzales did not come about because he was , rather it came about because he played a key roll in when it came to the torturing of "enemy combatants."

The Gadflyer notes that on several occasions in which a minority was nominated by the Bush White House, other GOP leaders have made public comments which the candidates. Senator Trent Lott said that Migue Estrada's nomination was held up "because he's ".

Senator Orrin Hatch said in regards to Judge Owen that the nomination was being opposed "because she is a woman in public life who is to have personal views that some maintain should be unacceptable for a woman in public life to have." Hatch added that this sexism "represents a new glad ceiling for woman jurists, and they have come too far to duffer now having their feet bound up just as they approach the tables of our high courts." ? Graceful Senator Hatch, very graceful.

The is that the GOP knows that the people they have put forward would never be approved by the Democrats, and rather then go head to head with the Donkey on the issues, they would rather place the race card, or gender card, in the hopes of gaining sympathy for their nominations. However, when you read comments such as the ones made by Senators Hatch, Lott, or Santorum, you come to realize that the only time they care about race or gender is when it would help their party. The GOP is more concerned with their Right Wing Policy and Conservative Agenda than they will ever care about equality.

Ryan Oddey

Article added at 10:08 AM EDT

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