How low will he go..?

Huffington Post

AP Poll: Bush Public Approval at New Low

Public approval of President Bush has dipped to a new low in the Associated Press-Ipsos poll, driven by dissatisfaction with his handling of the economy.

A survey released Thursday showed 28 percent approve of the overall job Bush is doing. That was statistically tied with his previous low in the poll of 30 percent last month and in February.

Read on..

Worst. President. Ever.

Yoo who?

National Lawyers Guild Calls on Boalt Hall to Dismiss Law Professor John Yoo, Whose Torture Memos Led to Commission of War Crimes

New York. In a memorandum written the same month George W. Bush invaded Iraq, Boalt Hall law professor John Yoo said the Department of Justice would construe US criminal laws not to apply to the President’s detention and interrogation of enemy combatants. According to Yoo, the federal statutes against torture, assault, maiming and stalking do not apply to the military in the conduct of the war.

The federal maiming statute, for example, makes it a crime for someone “with the intent to torture, maim, or disfigure” to “cut, bite, or slit the nose, ear or lip, or cut out or disable the tongue, or put out or destroy an eye, or cut off or disable a limb or any member of another person.” It further prohibits individuals from “throwing or pouring upon another person any scalding water, corrosive acid, or caustic substance” with like intent.

Continue reading

Bush halts Iraq troop cuts but shortens tours

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Shell game anyone..?


President George W. Bush said on Thursday he would suspend U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq this summer but cut the length of tours of duty, as he defended his war policy that will leave any resolution of the conflict to his successor.

Bush endorsed a recommendation by his commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, to complete a limited withdrawal of combat forces by July but then impose a 45-day freeze on the total number of troops at about 140,000 to assess the security situation before considering more cuts.

“I’ve told him he’ll have all the time he needs,” Bush said.

Hmmm… Apparently Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki disagrees..

Huffington Post

A U.S. airstrike targeted a building in Baghdad’s Sadr City on Thursday, hours after American soldiers clashed with Shiite militants in fighting that left 15 people dead, police and the U.S. military said.

The renewed violence coincided with the Congressional testimony of the Bush administration’s top two officials in Iraq _ Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Petraeus recommended a pause in drawing down U.S. troops in Iraq while the security situation remains unstable and President Bush is expected to follow his recommendation.

But Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki disagreed with Petraeus’ proposal to delay further U.S. troop withdrawals, citing the growing capabilities of Iraq’s own security forces.

Petraeus wants the U.S. to complete by the end of July the withdrawal of the 20,000 troops that were sent to Iraq last year, leaving about 140,000 in the country. Beyond that, the general proposed a 45-day evaluation period to be followed by an indefinite period of assessment before any further pullouts.

Al-Maliki, however, has said he disagrees with that decision.

Read on…

Randi Rhodes leaves Air America


Update: Rhodes leaves station after suspension over comments

Air America Radio host Randi Rhodes has left the network after it suspended her over comments she made at a station fundraiser last week.

A statement from the station’s chairman, Charlie Kireker, and president, Mark Green, to be released Thursday says the popular progressive host decided to leave after the station suspended her over the off-air comments.

Read entire article…

I am really upset to hear this. I don’t like the terms she chose to use in her comments, only because its not language I normally use, but she has been a very strong voice for Progressives and Liberals, and she never shied away from speaking truth to power. She was a strong voice for change and accountability. She’ll definitely be sorely missed.

Here is one of the most memorable Randi-moments I can think of.

UPDATE: From Huffington Post

Apparently Rhodes quit rather than apologize. And apparently, she won’t be missed by everyone..

The Huffington Post has learned that Randi Rhodes quit Air America after being asked by the network to apologize for her inflammatory remarks against Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro.

A source at Air America, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “Many people screw up and then apologize and move on. Like Imus. Like David Shuster. Like Jay Rockefeller on McCain. Like Obama on Rezko. Like Hillary on Bosnia. Randi Rhodes refused to apologize for her obscene comments and has chosen instead to terminate her relationship with Air America.”

The source also said that there is no love lost between Rhodes and her colleagues at the network. “No one is upset. She made the move but there’s relief and joy.”

UPDATE 2: Rhodes signs on with Nova M Radio Network (RawStory)

On Thursday, April 10, Nova M Radio Network announced that it has added The Randi Rhodes Show to its syndication lineup effective Monday, April 14. It is scheduled to air 3pm-6pm Eastern, Monday through Friday.

“I just can’t stop smiling,” says Nova M CEO John Manzo. “Randi is simply the biggest and the best. Randi Rhodes and Mike Malloy under one roof – talk about TALENT!”

Lecture of a lifetime..

We discussed this final lecture of Professor Randy Pausch (Carnegie Mellon) months ago. Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and gave this lecture to say goodbye.

This man was interviewed by Diane Sawyer last night on ABC. Below is the interview, and below that is the “Last Lecture” in its entirety.

If you have never heard of this man, or you haven’t listened to this lecture yet, do yourself a favor and take the time to watch. Nothing has ever affected me more, or filled me with such hope and inspiration. If only we could all aspire to what he speaks..

Randy Pausch Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams (entire lecture)

Long-overdue GI Bill

Like many of his generation, my father owes his education and, indeed his entire career to the GI Bill offered to returning veterans after WWII. He came from working class immigrant stock and would never have been able to afford college during the 40s without the sort of assistance provided by the bill. As it was, he was able to attend a small (tiny, really) private college in Ohio, go on to graduate school at Cornell and eventually to a successful career in Food Technology with General Foods. He and my mother, a librarian, provided my sister and I with a comfortable middle-class life and solid educational opportunities in our time. The result of the WWII GI Bill wasn’t just that people like my dad got a college education, but that education and those of his fellow veterans fueled the economic and social boom years of the 50s and 60s, for the entire country.

As Wesley Clark and Jon Soltz write in today’s LA Times:

The original GI Bill transformed American history, providing education for returning soldiers. The GI Bill not only recognized our nation’s moral duty for the enormous sacrifices of our World War II veterans, but it helped create America’s middle class and spurred decades of economic growth for our country. Economists estimate that the original bill returned anywhere between $5 and $13 for every dollar we spent on it.

And as noted in a NPR Morning Edition article today:

Those days are long gone. The current version of the GI Bill picks up 70 percent of the tab at a public college and about 30 percent of the costs at most private colleges. That means that while veterans of WWII could attend Harvard University courtesy of the government, veterans of the Iraq war have to cover nearly three years of tuition at such a school themselves.

The NPR story relates the experience of Todd Bowers, now director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association (IAVA). He had managed to finish one semester at prestigious George Washington University prior to being called up for a second tour in Iraq, where he narrowly survived a sniper’s bullet.

After Bowers came home, he says, he was determined to finish his studies at George Washington, with the GI Bill’s help. But, “I started to fall into a tremendous amount of debt. I was taking out incredible student loans trying to keep up with the tuition costs, and the GI Bill wasn’t picking up much more than a few of my books.”

Senator Jim Webb’s proposed bill, which currently has 52 supporters in the Senate, would offer a reasonable and modest update to the GI Bill. It wouldn’t offer veterans a free ride to private colleges like my father got, but it would pay for them to attend the best State colleges and offer incentives to private schools. It would also honor returning veterans for their service and sacrifice in a meaningful and tangible fashion.

The bill would also decrease the disparity between benefits offered to active duty soldiers and those offered to members of the National Guard.

“If I serve 12 months, one single tour in Iraq, I will get 12 months worth of benefits of what the active duty receives,” Bowers explains. “If I serve three tours of 12 months for a total of 36 months, I still only receive 12 months of benefits.”

52 votes is not a veto-proof margin in the Senate but why would anyone veto such a wonderful bill? Or why would someone like John McCain, who has made himself out to be the great defender and supporter of our military, fail to adamantly support and battle for this bill? Kudos to NPR for at least mentioning McCain’s pusilanimous reluctance to step up:

His office did not respond to calls for this report. Several weeks ago, while on the road, McCain said, “It seems to me that it’s a good thing to do, but I haven’t examined the bill with the care … that it needs. … But we obviously need to do something along those lines.”

Like, oh, maybe later. After he gets elected. Maybe.

It turns out that the White House and the Pentagon are opposed to the GI Bill. Why? The answer is not only creepy beyond belief, but it’s incredibly insulting to the very military that Republicans are always claiming to support:

The Pentagon, however, says it is concerned that it will damage retention — that the extensive benefits would encourage people to leave the military to go to college.

Sen. Webb disagrees.

“If you have a meaningful GI Bill, you’re going to expand the potential pool of people who will come into the military. … We want all elements of our society to be involved in the military when we have situations like Iraq,” he says. “And it’s only when the mothers of Harvard wake up and worry about their son or daughter that we are going to have a hedge against adventurism.”

Clark and Soltz agree:

First, it is morally reprehensible to fix the system so that civilian life is unappealing to service members, in an attempt to force them to re-up. Education assistance is not a handout, it is a sacred promise that we have made for generations in return for service.

Second, falling military recruitment numbers are just as serious as retention problems. To send the message that this nation will not help you make the most of your life will dissuade a large number of our best and brightest from choosing military service over other career options.

Obama and Clinton are both supporters of the bill. I hope they both take time off from slapping one another and demand accountability from John McCain. No more weaseling. No more “I haven’t had time to look at the bill”. That’s why you have a staff, McCain. If you’re too busy trying to convince us that you support the troops at the same time you refuse to support such a reasonable and far-reaching opportunity, you’re just a fraud.

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Petraeus and Crocker: Déjà Vu All Over Again

via: Huffington Post

by Rep. John Conyers

This week, General David Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker testified before the House and Senate about the Iraq war. As we might have guessed, their testimony has amounted to simply announcing the administration’s plans to continue on its current path — to maintain at least 140,000 troops in Iraq indefinitely.

It’s déjà vu all over again. Echoing their testimony from last September, Petraeus and Crocker claim that certain indicators in Iraq are positive, that they need more time to build on these marginal successes. But while they ask us for more time, more blood, more treasure, they still cannot provide any sort of strategy for success in Iraq.

Indeed, the definition of success has changed so many times in this war it probably would be impossible to design a strategy to achieve it. Going after the 9/11 attackers, finding weapons of mass destruction, getting rid of Saddam — these initial goals were proved unnecessary or false, or have already been accomplished. So now, we have a new set of goals: creating a model democracy for the Middle East, wiping out al-Qaeda, limiting the influence of Iran — problems this war has done more to exacerbate than to resolve.

After five years of chaos and destruction, we are told, once again, to trust them. To stay the course. To sign another blank check.

Continue reading…

He ends with this:

Clearly, we are faced with a question of priorities. We can pour money down a destructive suction tube, for a war that is creating more enemies than it can destroy, in pursuit of impossible goals. Or we can invest in our priorities here at home, while showing a new face to the world, one characterized by respect for human rights, diplomacy, and the rule of law. To me, the choice could not possibly be any clearer.

Rep. Conyers, if you truly believe this, if you mean the words that you are saying, and you are not just throwing out more ‘words’.. then you have options that would make a HUGE difference in changing the direction this country is currently headed. Its called IMPEACHMENT and its within your power to put it BACK on the table! Please! I would gladly get down on my knees and beg you. There is still time to do what is right – what is NECESSARY to save this country.

The Clintons’ $800,000 Colombian Windfall

via: Brent Budowsky (The Hill)

We now know that, not content with $108 million of wealth, the Clintons decided to go for the gold when Bill Clinton took $800,000 from a Colombian source, loyal to the Colombian government, advocating pro-Colombian trade policies.

How ironic. The Clintons send out the B-Team to make trite accusations about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, long after voters have made their decision on the subject. Hillary launches the ridiculous claim that Obama would not move America out of Iraq, because of an innocuous comment by a staff person.

Normally, distasteful as it is, I would not focus on the Clintons’ $800,000 windfall from Colombia — but as Bill Clinton said, before the latest trite featherpunches against Obama, if the Clintons saddle up, so will I.

Think about it. This is not a difference between a husband and wife, or a difference between a senator running for president and a former president who believes in free trade. This is a huge, gigantic, nearly million-dollar windfall that directly violates one of the core principles of the Clinton campaign — and that was paid by a foreign source with the intent of influencing foreign trade and investment policy.

Hillary Clinton does not take a hint. Her attacks have only increased her negative ratings, her problem being perceived as untrustworthy, her problem being perceived as divisive, her problem being perceived as not credible.

I think $800,000 from a foreign source, with foreign interests, advocating trade policies supported by that foreign source and foreign nation, is fair game.

I suspect that workingmen and -women in Pennsylvania and elsewhere will agree.

Hillary Clinton should stop her lowball negative attacks and divisiveness within the Democratic Party, and unless and until she does, fair game is fair game.

It would have been much better for all if Bill Clinton had stopped at $108 million, and let somebody else make the $800,000, which should be donated to wounded troops or foreclosed homeowners.

I sure like this guy…

TDS: American Greetings (5 years ago)

President Bush’s Iraqi television appearance bridges the gap between nations and proves condescension knows no borders.

Here’s a look back. I somehow missed that yesterday was the 5 year anniversary of the fall of Saddam..

Anyway, here’s a video from The Daily Show including footage of Bush addressing the Iraqis on their own state run Iraqi TV 5 years ago today.

The line that jumped out at me was:

“You are a good and gifted people. The heirs to a great and gifted civilization that contributes to all humanity. You deserve better than tyranny, corruption, and torture chambers..”

Interesting.. Seems their ‘contribution to all humanity’ was their oil. Little did they know what else they had to look forward to… What a relief to get rid of the tyranny, the corruption, and all those torture chambers…

TPM has The Timeline Behind Yoo’s (Torture) Memo.

from posted with vodpod

April 10th

Today is the birthday of Claude Bolling (born April 10, 1930). He is a renowned French jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and occasional actor..

His work “Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano” has always been one of my favorite pieces to play as a flutist. Here are two of the seven movements of that work performed by Claude Bolling and featuring Jean-Pierre Rampal on his golden flute.
I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Rampal before he died.