Gilens and Page analyze
1,779 policy outcomes over a period of more than 20 years. They conclude that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
Average citizens have “little or no independent influence” on the policy-making process? This must be an overstatement of Gilens’s and Page’s findings, no?
Controversial artist George W. Bush, whose paintings of dogs, cats, and portions of his own nude body
and swept the Twitterverse by storm, has opened a new one-man show of paintings, consisting of portraits of world leaders,
in a library in Texas. Though political content has not usually been a part of his work in previous years, his interest in the subject matter may stem from his brief stint in public service
a few years back.
A Rob Ford video has been found by Toronto cops.
Toronto police chief Bill Blair says the video cannot be released or described, and will be placed before the courts because some unnamed person will be charged with extortion. While he never mentions the word "crack", he does say that the video is congruent with what has been described in the media and does not appear to have been doctored. [more inside]
Getting Away with Torture.
"Overwhelming evidence of torture by the Bush administration obliges President Barack Obama to order a criminal investigation into allegations of detainee abuse authorized by former President George W. Bush and other senior officials, Human Rights Watch said
in a report
released today. The Obama administration has failed to meet US obligations under the Convention against Torture to investigate acts of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees." [more inside]
The diagnosis was only the first shock. The second came a few weeks later, in an Aug. 5 letter from Pat's health-insurance company. For six years — since losing the last job he had that provided medical coverage — Pat had been faithfully paying premiums to Assurant Health, buying a series of six-month medical policies, one after the other, always hoping he would soon find a job that would include health coverage. Until that happened, "unexpected illnesses and accidents happen every day, and the resulting medical bills can be disastrous," Assurant's website warned. "Safeguard your financial future with Short Term Medical temporary insurance. It provides the peace of mind and health care access you need at a price you can afford."
[But] diagnosing and treating an illness may not fall neatly into six-month increments. While Pat had been continuously covered since 2002 by the same company, Assurant Health, each successive policy treated him as a brand-new customer. In looking back over Pat's medical records, the company noticed test results from December, eight months earlier. Though Pat's doctors didn't determine the precise cause of the problem until the following July, his kidney disease was nonetheless judged a "pre-existing condition" — meaning his insurance wouldn't cover it, since he was now under a different six-month policy from the one he had when he got those first tests..... I tried to talk to Assurant for this story. Its only response was a written statement from Scott Krienke, senior vice president for product lines: "Due to privacy regulations, we cannot discuss the specifics of any of our customers' coverage."
Maybe outsourcing is
the answer. Canadian importers detected the salmonella tainted peanut products, and, prior to eight Americans dying from it, informed the US FDA.
"The FDA failing to follow up after this incident, does that mean that products that are not good enough for a foreign country are still good enough for the USA? That's a double standard that has deadly consequences for our citizens." [more inside]
Leaving office, President Bush claimed "that he took 'a deliberate and comprehensive approach' to preventing terrorism that combined military action overseas with strong defensive measures at home."
[As early as 2002] "We knew that the mortgage-brokerage industry was corrupt... Where we would have gotten a sense of what was really going on was the point where the mortgage was sold knowing that it was a piece of dung and it would be turned into a security. But the agents with the expertise had been diverted to counterterrorism."
[. . . . FBI Director Robert] "Mueller actually circumvented the Justice Department and the OMB to get resources. But he was shut down" by the [Bush A]dministration. [. . . . Testifying in October 2004, ] Chris Swecker, then assistant director of the criminal investigation division said ... "The potential impact of mortgage fraud on financial institutions in the stock market is clear. If fraudulent practices become systemic within the mortgage industry and mortgage fraud is allowed to become unrestrained, it will ultimately place financial institutions at risk and have adverse effects on the stock market."
You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it “simulates” the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning—or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure.
Christopher Hitchens, Iraq War supporter, militant atheist, and now volunteer subject of waterboarding.
"How do you deal with fear
? Is it safer for them if I act or stay quiet? I don't want to get
on a list
The Great Iraq Swindle: How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury
Comey made frantic calls to his own chief of staff and to Robert Mueller, then FBI director, while he raced to the hospital, sirens blasting. He sprinted up the stairs of the hospital to get to Ashcroft's room before Gonzales and Card did.
. . .
"I couldn't stay if the White House was engaging in conduct that had no legal basis."
Comey testifies that there was something of a line to resign that day: Mueller; then Comey's chief of staff; and then Ashcroft's chief of staff—who asked only that Comey wait until "Ashcroft was well enough to resign with me."
Tuesday Morning Massacre narrowly averted by an illness and the Madrid Train Bombings? Is it a High Crime and Misdemeanor if "the president was quite willing to forge ahead with an illegal program"? Absoluelty riveting, it reads like a tale out of paperback thriller
: in a darkened hospital room, a White House consigliere barges past the sick man's wife, and demands the disoriented Attorney General official sign a paper. "First, they tried to coerce a man in intensive care -- a man so sick he had transferred the reins of power to Mr. Comey -- to grant them legal approval. Having failed, they were willing to defy the conclusions of the nation's chief law enforcement officer and pursue the surveillance without Justice's authorization."
I'm waiting for the movie, but you can watch the video now.
Conservatives on why the GOP should lose in 2006.
Let's quit while we're behind by Christopher Buckley • Bring on Pelosi by Bruce Bartlett • And we thought Clinton had no self-control by Joe Scarborough • Give divided government a chance by William A. Niskanen • Restrain this White House by Bruce Fein • Idéologie has taken over by Jeffrey Hart • The show must not go on by Richard A. Viguerie
ABC News: Osama bin Laden offered sanctuary in Pakistan:
If he is in Pakistan, bin Laden "would not be taken into custody," Major General Shaukat Sultan Khan told ABC News in a telephone interview, "as long as one is being like a peaceful citizen." Offer comes as truce is concluded between Pakistan and Al Queada:
The Pakistani military will no longer operate in the area where Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda operatives are believed to be hiding, according to terms of what the Pakistan government calls a "peace deal," signed today with militant tribal groups allied to the Taliban and al Qaeda. San Jose Mercury News reports Bush Administration approved truce, will offer millions in aid:
The Pakistani military is striking truces with Islamic separatists along the country's border with Afghanistan, freeing Pakistani militants and al-Qaida fighters to join Taliban insurgents battling U.S.-led troops and government forces in Afghanistan..... when the military failed to crush the separatists, the Bush administration agreed to support Pakistan's truce-making efforts and pledged millions of dollars in additional aid.
U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has ruled that warrantless wiretapping by the Bush Administration's National Security Agency is unconstitutional,
saying it violates rights to free speech and privacy.
Judge Taylor, a veteran of the civil rights movement and the first black female federal district judge in the U.S. 6th Circuit,
was appointed to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan by President Carter. Legal experts expect the decision to be overturned by the 6th Circuit sitting en banc
. Background on the case by Glenn Greenwald:
"The theory of the lawsuit -- [is that warrantless wiretapping's] mere existence deters citizens from freely exercising their free speech rights".
"The rationale for a free and democratic Iraq is as compelling today as it was three years ago....
Consider that if we retreat now, there is every reason to believe Saddamists and terrorists will fill the vacuum -- and the free world might not have the will to face them again. Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis
More wisdom from the man who said in 2002 "I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won't last any longer than that."
Shut yo' mouth!
The US government, will soon spider the entire
web analyzing all
pages -- including your
blog -- for evidence of "terrorism". It greatly extends prior government watching of the web
for "terrorists" like the ACLU
. But not for political speech
, of course
. Never that.
So shut your mouth and shut down your blog if you don't want to end up on a list of people to be "neutralized" -- like Mario Savio, hounded for ten years despite never breaking a law
The feeding pipe was thick, thicker than my nostril, and would not go in. Blood came gushing out of my nose and tears down my cheeks, but they kept pushing until the cartilages cracked. I guess I would have screamed if I could, but I could not with the pipe in my throat.
. . . .
When torture is condoned, these rare talented people leave the service, having been outstripped by less gifted colleagues with their quick-fix methods, and the service itself degenerates into a playground for sadists. Thus, in its heyday, Joseph Stalin's notorious NKVD (the Soviet secret police) became nothing more than an army of butchers terrorizing the whole country but incapable of solving the simplest of crimes.
Vladimir Bukovsky, "who spent nearly 12 years in Soviet prisons, labor camps and psychiatric hospitals for nonviolent human rights activities," explains
how America's use of torture "will destroy your nation's important strategy to develop democracy in the Middle East."