The ACLU has a petition up here. Speak out against the Bush administration’s belief that it’s above the law.

Speak out against preemptive pardons and help restore the American values of justice and due process. Send a message to President Bush telling him you oppose preemptive pardons for these people and any others who may have been involved in torture. (ACLU)

From the text of the petition:

These pardons would effectively preclude criminal investigations that are clearly appropriate based on the facts in the public domain, and block any U.S. criminal prosecutions for torture or abuse. Preemptive pardons for torture crimes would violate one of the most core American values: that no one — no matter how powerful — is above the law.

The gods are conspiring against John McCain this year. There was bad weather when he was trying to visit an oil platform in the Gulf, all those crazy zealots prayed for rain at the DNC but instead got Ike at the RNC, and then came the economy. On the day of one of the biggest economic crises in modern history, McCain made the mistake of claiming that the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

And now this. Paul Krugman of the NY Times points out an unfortunately timed piece by McCain in the current September/October 2008 issue of Contingencies magazine, in which he suggests deregulating the health care market just like the banking industry.

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

Oops.

Of course this view is nothing new in the McCain camp, just bad timing. A few weeks back, the architect of McCain’s health care plan insisted that Americans shouldn’t use the word ‘uninsured’ because we all have ER access. Did you know they also want to wipe out your employer-provided health care plan? And then tax you on the benefits you receive. Really. It’s the tax increase no one is talking about.

And just imagine the world of hurt our seniors would be in today if McCain and Bush had succeeded in privatizing Social Security. Though he has contradicted himself several times about whether or not he supports privatization. One thing is clear, he’s not clear on what Social Security is or how it works. Yet he still wants to gamble away our retirement security.

There are probably more than 3, but James Fallows’ piece at The Atlantic really rang true for me. He discusses three traits that Bush brings to decision-making that have been disastrous for our country.

The truly toxic combination of traits GW Bush brought to decision making was:

1) Ignorance
2) Lack of curiosity
3) “Decisiveness”

That is, he was not broadly informed to begin with (point 1). He did not seek out new information (#2); but he nonetheless prided himself (#3) on making broad, bold decisions quickly, and then sticking to them to show resoluteness.

We don’t know for sure about #2 for Palin yet — she could be a sponge-like absorber of information. But we know about #1 and we can guess, from her demeanor about #3.   Most of all we know something about the person who put her in this untenable role.

Her claim that she didn’t blink when McCain asked her to be VP scares many people. It’s admirable to be smart enough to know when you’re in over your head on something.

John Dickerson at Slate has a similar observation:

Finally, like Bush, Palin does not appear to let her unfamiliarity with the material hold her back. She was at pains throughout the interview to demonstrate her decisiveness. This makes political sense: What better way to reassure people about her ability as a leader than to look decisive?

But by repeatedly asserting that she will “not blink,” Palin was eerily Bush-like. She offered a black-and-white worldview of bold decisions made quickly and changed reluctantly for fear of showing weakness. Sound familiar?

Bush would never admit he was wrong about anything. He was so quick to jump to conclusions. What’s wrong with Palin saying that she consulted with friends and family, did some research, and then came to the conclusion she was up for the job? Her false sense of confidence despite her increasingly obvious ignorance is exactly like Bush.

Not to mention the secrecy (private email account for government business), warmongering (Russia?!), fear of science (no stem cell research, but lots of creationism), disdain for the constitution (refusing to cooperate with investigations, subpoenas), etc.

*   *   *

Dear McCain-Palin supporters,

Do you really want 4 more years of George Bush’s policies? Please help me to understand your reasoning. Are you happy with war, greed, and ignorance?

Sincerely,

Noticed

*   *   *

UPDATE: Oh, and then there’s that whole executive branch connection to Cheney. (ThinkProgress)

Shortly after McCain announced Palin as his running mate he began to tout her experience as the commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard. But then it seemed that several people in Alaska were insisting that she didn’t actually have any authority or responsibility when it came to the Guard.

There was the pressing interview by Campbell Brown in which McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds couldn’t name any actual national security experience Palin had.

As VetVoice reports:

Sunday 31 August 2008: Major General Craig Campbell, Adjutant General of the Alaska National Guard, tells the AP that:

he and Palin play no role in national defense activities, even when they involve the Alaska National Guard. The entire operation is under federal control, and the governor is not briefed on situations.

The quote is used against Palin throughout the media for several days.

Wednesday 3 September 2008: Major General Craig Campbell does significantly more damage to Palin’s credibility in this piece in the Boston Globe:

And while the Alaska National Guard operates a launch site for a US anti-missile system at Fort Greely, about 100 miles south of Fairbanks, the Alaskan governor is not in the site’s chain of command and has no authority over its operations, according to Maj. Gen. Craig E. Campbell, the adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard who commands the roughly 3,800 state militia members.

Then all of a sudden, just 2 days after the statement above, Maj. Gen Campbell flip-flops. He goes on Fox to talk about how well Sarah Palin commands the National Guard:

National Guards are state military forces run by governors, and Sarah Palin does it great.”

Hmm…I wonder what made Campbell change his mind?

Could it be the promotion he received 2 days after his positive comments?

Lt. Gen. ( Alaska ) Craig E. Campbell, the adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard and commissioner of the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, received his third star, signifying Governor Sarah Palin’s support of the Guard and her commitment to reinforcing the cooperation between federal and state military assets.

Palin took the opportunity to promote Campbell ahead of any pending emergency that may occur with the upcoming fall storm season. This allows Alaska to have more of a say in times of state disasters.

“This is about Alaskans serving Alaskans.  The promotion is a statement that the Alaska National Guard is the state military force responsible for responding to state issues, at the direction of the Governor,” Governor Palin said.  “The decision to promote the Adjutant General to Lieutenant General is based on a fundamental states’-rights stance, for which Alaska has a strong historical position.”

Silencing dissent. Promoting loyalists. Remind you of anyone…?

Something John McCain said a month or two ago got me thinking that he has something up his sleeve when it comes to Osama bin Laden. I’m not a huge conspiracy theorist, but I refuse to ignore several facts pointing me in the same direction. We’ve all heard him say he’ll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell, but is there something more to it than empty campaign promises?

There’s “McCain’s Secret Plan to Capture bin Laden” from the Washington Post.

McCain’s recent claims that:

“(Democratic) President (Bill) Clinton had opportunities to get Osama bin Laden. President Bush had opportunities to get Osama bin Laden. I know how to do it. And I’ll do it,” McCain shot back to ABC television on Wednesday. (AFP)

And just today Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward hinted that the capture or death of Osama bin Laden could be the September or October surprise.  Watch it.  (ThinkProgress)

I can hardly imagine Bush letting McCain take credit for bin Laden’s capture if they do indeed already have him. However, it is in Bush’s legal interests for the next President to be a Republican if he’s worried about facing possible criminal charges. Maybe that’s the deal: pardoning Bush for bin Laden?

Check out Paul Krugman’s op-ed in the New York Times about how the GOP has morphed from being the “party of ideas” to the party of…

stupid.

He said it. It’s not that Republicans are dumb…

What I mean, instead, is that know-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: “Real men don’t think things through.”

How else can we explain John McCain shouting “drill here, drill now” from the stage of a bikers and bikinis festival, after offering his wife up to a topless beauty pageant? The scary part about all this is that it’s working.

Sad to say, the current drill-and-burn campaign is getting some political traction. According to one recent poll, 69 percent of Americans now favor expanded offshore drilling — and 51 percent of them believe that removing restrictions on drilling would reduce gas prices within a year.

Question the lack of logic in the “drill here, drill now” policy, or even dare to counter it with facts, and they’ll call you names.

What about the experts at the Department of Energy who say that it would take years before offshore drilling would yield any oil at all, and that even then the effect on prices at the pump would be “insignificant”? Presumably they’re just a bunch of wimps, probably Democrats.

So, I hate to sound like an elitist or a wimp, but I’ll risk it in the face of chest-thumping, name-calling stupidity. There is nothing weak about thinking things through. Listening to a wide variety of opinions before taking action on an issue does not make someone less macho or more feminine. If we continue to paint measured, intelligent choices as pathetic options which are below us, we will be stuck with immature, increasingly misogynist, policies and leaders.

UPDATE: For a comical look on how the punditry is setting the bar increasingly low, check out this link.

In a policy statement today, the White House said that if the Equal Pay Act is submitted to the President, his senior advisers are recommending that he veto it.

In the statement, the administration claims to support anti-discrimination laws and equal pay for equal work. They claim that this bill would “invite a surge of litigation.”

How dare women think that they have the right to sue when faced with wage discrimination? Especially if it takes them more than a few months to realize it’s happening. Like we can go around asking our male colleagues how much they’re making during our first few months on the job.

Ever heard of Lilly Ledbetter? Bush and Co. refuse justice for women in her situation, placing the blame on them rather than the employers. Pssst…if we were being paid fairly in the first place, you wouldn’t have to worry about this “surge of litigation.” Don’t put this on us.

PS. John McCain is against Equal Pay for women. He, like Bush, thinks we should shoulder the blame.

Check out this amazing graphic over at Slate representing the crimes of the current administration and its allies, with details about how each person is involved in each scandal.

The best way to make sense of this legal tangle is to mouse over the title of an individual scandal, which will highlight everyone implicated. For example, the wiretapping bubble ensnares George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, David Addington, John Ashcroft, John Yoo, and Alberto Gonzales. At the same time, Ashcroft and Gonzales fall into the overlapping circle for monkey business related to DoJ hiring. Mouse over a person’s name for information on how each person is involved. Mouse over the title of each circle for specifics about the particular scandal.

Happy hovering!

Senators Patty Murray and Hillary Clinton are speaking out against Bush’s proposed attack on women’s reproductive rights. They are calling on the secretary of Health and Human Services to block Bush’s plan to put ideology over science.

The text of their letter reads:

Secretary Michael O. Leavitt
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Mr. Secretary:

It has come to our attention that the Department of Health and Human Services may be preparing draft regulations that would create new obstacles for women seeking contraceptive services.
One of the most troubling aspects of the proposed rules is the overly-broad definition of “abortion.” This definition would allow health-care corporations or individuals to classify many common forms of contraception – including the birth control pill, emergency contraception and IUDs – “abortions” and therefore to refuse to provide contraception to women who need it.

As a consequence, these draft regulations could disrupt state laws securing women’s access to birth control. They could jeopardize federal programs like Medicaid and Title X that provide family-planning services to millions of women. They could even undermine state laws that ensure survivors of sexual assault and rape receive emergency contraception in hospital emergency rooms.

We strongly urge you to reconsider these regulations before they are released. We are extremely concerned by this proposal’s potential to affect millions of women’s reproductive health.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely yours,
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi added her voice to the charge:

If the Administration goes through with this draft proposal, it will launch a dangerous assault on women’s health.

The majority of Americans oppose this out of touch position that redefines contraception as abortion and represents a sustained pattern of the Bush Administration to reject medical and sound science in favor of a misguided ideology that has no place in our government.

I urge the President to reject this policy and join with Democrats to focus on preventing unintended pregnancies and reducing the need for abortion through increasing access to family planning services and access to affordable birth control.

Bush should make up his mind whether or not he thinks individuals are smart enough to make our own decisions or not. Just last week he said that he wasn’t urging Americans to conserve fuel because we’re smart enough to make our own decisions. Right. Unless you’re a woman and your reproductive health is involved. Then he has no problem interfering.

UPDATE: Hillary Clinton has a guest blog piece up at RH Reality Check.

Please click this link to urge your members of Congress to oppose Bush’s attack on birth control.

For more information, check out RH Reality Check.

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