Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Teaching Democracy Through Fake News

The LATimes broke this story today, that the U.S. military has gone all Armstrong Williams on the poor, unsuspecting Iraqis, that is to say, PAYING newspapers to print fake "news" about how well everything's going for the U.S. against the insurgency. (Thanks to Carl for the link.)

It's a good lesson in American "freedom and democracy," no doubt. Truth is what you can pay for.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"I Broke the Law & Disgraced My Office"

The guilty plea of Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham yesterday is just another collapsing domino in a long line.

For the record, Cunningham pled guilty to one count of tax evasion and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, tax evasion, wire fraud, and mail fraud. None of the bribes he received was reported to the Internal Revenue Service or on the congressman's financial disclosure forms.

Still pending:

1. Senator Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee and the majority leader, is under scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission for the timing of his trades in the stock of his family's health care company.

2. Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas and the majority leader, was forced to step down as majority leader after he was indicted on conspiracy and money laundering charges.

3. Michael Scanlon, a former spokesman for Mr. DeLay, pleaded guilty last week to bribery. Prosecutors said Mr. Scanlon was part of a conspiracy to defraud Indian tribes and win legislative favors from lawmakers in return for campaign donations, meals, entertainment and other benefits. A former White House aide has also been indicted in that investigation, which is centered on Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist and an ally of Mr. DeLay who worked with Mr. Scanlon. As part of his plea, Mr. Scanlon agreed to cooperate in the investigation. Several members of Congress are said to be under investigation for accepting bribes from Scanlon on behalf of Abramoff.

4. I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was indicted last month on charges of perjury and false statements in the investigation of the leaking of the name of a C.I.A. operative. Other White House officials, including the senior political adviser Karl Rove, remain under investigation in that case.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Waaay Too Divinely Inspired

Seymour Hersh, reporting in The New Yorker:

"Bush's closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush's first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President's religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that 'God put me here' to deal with the war on terror. The President's belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that 'he's the man,' the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reelection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose."

Where's my Bible? Ah. "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18.

Hersh again: "The President is more determined than ever to stay the course," [a] former defense official said. "He doesn't feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage 'People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.' " He said that the President had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney. "They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway," the former defense official said.

We're being led by a man so self-deluded he feels no pain.

"Whom God would destroy, he first makes mad."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

President Oxymoron

President George W. Bush "is volatile but passive, firm but malleable, presiding but absent."

That brilliant series of contradictory truths is Sidney Blumenthal's summation of El Presidente's strange character traits ... by way of explaining how come Vice President Dick Cheney is REALLY in charge of this administration. (Salon requires you to watch an ad before reading its articles.)

Blumenthal, who knows a thing or two about the backstairs at the White House, follows Cheney's whole history in government, which goes back to Nixon and Gerald Ford. A key paragraph:

"The making of the Iraq war, torture policy and an industry-friendly energy plan has required secrecy, deception and subordination of government as it previously existed. But these, too, are means to an end. Even projecting a 'war on terror' as total war, trying to envelop the whole American society within its fog, is a device to invest absolute power in the executive [the office of the president]."

As threats to our Constitution go, this is nothing to sneeze at.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What Republican Power-Brokers Really Think of Christians

"We plan to use three forms of communications to mobilize and win these battles .... Our mission is to get specifically selected groups of individuals to the polls to speak out AGAINST something. To that end, your money is best spent finding them and communicating with them on using the modes that they are most likely to respond to. Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them. The wackos get their information form [sic] the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet, and telephone trees."

--Michael Scanlon, former aide to Sen. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), strategizing on how to get conservative Christians to protect existing gambling interests by getting them to oppose competition from riverboat gambling. Scanlon plead guilty this week to conspiring to bribe a congressman and other public officials. Source here.

North Carolina ... On the Torture Trail?

International attention on the U.S. torture policy of smuggling suspects into friendly countries ("rendition") that routinely practice what El Presidente says we DON'T practice has come to center on the Johnston County Airport in Smithfield, N.C. See this article in the Toronto Star.

Curiouser and curiouser. An enterprising reporter for the Lexington Dispatch has looked into the plane's owner, Devon Holding & Leasing. The N.C. Secretary of State's office lists the principal business offices of Devon Holding & Leasing at an address in Lexington, N.C., and its registered agent is Davidson County Superior Court Judge Mark E. Klass.

What's a sitting superior court judge in Davidson County doing as chief agent for a company strongly rumored to be doing dirty work for the C.I.A.?

Another of Devon Holding and Leasing's planes, bearing the registration number N168D, passed through Danish airspace on October 3 on route from Iceland to Budapest. See this article about an investigation by the Swedish government, and note that Devon Holding and Leasing "reportedly regularly leases planes to the CIA."

Google the company name for yourself, and see all the attention it's attracted recently.

ADDENDUM: Okay, okay, we admit it! We were just plain out to lunch on this whole story, which (turns out) has been known for quite some time. Check out Chris Kromm on Facing South. Hell, there's already been a protest at the Johnston County airport!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What's That Smell?

A new Elon University Poll that "Bush's troubles are trickling down to other members of his party." That is to say, "While 46 percent of those polled said they had voted for Bush in the 2004 election, only 26 percent said they would back Republicans in next year's congressional election."

Madame Virginia Foxx might want to think about giving back that Tom DeLay money about now.

Jack Abramoff's lobbying partner Michael Scanlon, a former press secretary to DeLay, has signed a plea agreement wherein he promises to provide additional information about "any matter" the federal prosecutors decide to pursue.

Gosh. Wonder what else Scanlon might know about?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Virginia Foxx, Playing With Fire

On Wednesday, November 9th, N.C. congresswoman Sue Myrick introduced legislation (HR 4280) that would deny $870 million in federal highway dollars to North Carolina. Why? Because of our state's easy access to driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. Virginia Foxx and several other North Carolina congressmen signed on as co-sponsors.

Congresswoman Myrick, not coincidentally, wants to be governor. She thinks she's found the issue, and she's finding her crowd. A supporter crowed on, "You go, Sue! It is about time someone in government starts doing something to control illegal immigration that is draining their states and us all. Punishment and legislation is the only way to start to get a handle on this -- 300,000 illegals in one state is way too many" (Posted by: Born American on November 10, 2005, 12:53 PM).

Myrick's "Punish North Carolina By Crippling the Roads Act" also attracted as co-sponsors, in addition to Foxx, Patrick McHenry of the 10th District, Charlie Taylor of the 11th, and Walter Jones of the 3rd. So far no legislator of any of the other states affected by Myrick's bill -- West Virginia, Illinois, Utah, New Mexico, and Kentucky -- have stepped onto this particular bandwagon to deprive their own states of highway maintenance and development money.

It's a drastic move. Especially considering that the N.C. Senate has already passed a bill reforming DMV procedures, a bill that the NC House will take up come May and which Gov. Easley has promised to sign. That's not fast enough for Myrick, Foxx, McHenry, Taylor, and Jones, and after all, there's a gubernatorial campaign starting in February 2006, and a conservative base to rile up quick. State polls suggest that illegal immigration is as hot a topic among voters as gay marriage ... and for precisely the same reasons.

Classic "populism," as practiced in the Old South and even by New South Republicans like Myrick and Foxx, is pro-nationalist and often racist. We conveniently happen to have a war on against "evil Islamic radicalism, militant Jihadism, or Islamo-fascism" -- let's get the language right, please. But when you get real jumpy like that about a brown-skinned enemy, you're already deep into profiling territory, profiling as government policy (overt or covert), and the actions that logically follow profiling ... along with all the other sweet blossoms on the tree of a greening racism. Remember the "white hands" TV spot Jesse Helms ran against Harvey Gantt in 1990? Not for nothing did Congresswoman Myrick sit at Jesse Helms's table, where she sumptuously supped. Stir up alarm and anger about those others coming in here. Stir it up, and ride to victory on a rural/suburban backlash. Classic wedge strategy.

But you've got to be awfully careful playing these politics, as Myrick and Foxx certainly know. So after introducing her bill, Myrick held a press conference in the Capitol with Virginia Foxx (of Banner Elk and The Bronx) and wet-behind-the-ears Patrick McHenry of Cherryville standing there with her, delivering the "Transportation Revenue Ultimatum Enforcement ID Act of 2005," demanding that North Carolina stem a brown tide, and covering the essential ugliness of that by claiming national security as the sole motive.

So Myrick said, "This is a critical issue today. I mean, they just arrested, down on the border -- what? a couple of weeks ago? -- three Al Qaida members who came across from Mexico into the United States. That's a given fact. They were holding them in the jail down there."

Congressman McHenry added, "In fact, some of the 9-11 terrorists had North Carolina driver's licenses."

Both Myrick and McHenry were making it up.

According to Tim Funk, of the Charlotte Observer Washington bureau, there were no Al Qaida members arrested down in Mexico a la Myrick. Not one. Myrick's "given fact" turns out to be an unproven fiction taken under torture from a captured Al Qaida operative. (He supposedly said that Al Qaida had considered getting agents into this country via Mexico.) Myrick turned that hint into three Al Qaida -- count 'em! -- arrested on the border and held in an American jail. "That's a given fact," she said, even if we have to invent it for the occasion. McHenry's claim of 9-11 terrorists carrying North Carolina driver's licenses also turns out to be bogus. McHenry embroidered that piece of whole cloth out of something he heard about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who earned an engineering degree in North Carolina in the 1980s and who may have possessed a state driver's license at that time but who was in any event attending college here on a student visa and was therefore not an illegal immigrant.

So what's the score so far on "national security" as the pretext for launching a crack-down on Mexicans in North Carolina?

There's only one reason under God's bright sun to stretch the truth like that, past its natural tensile strength. Despite how much Myrick and McHenry later claimed their prejudicial fictions were honest mistakes of memory, they fabricated those little horrors to stampede the voters past the normal threshold of skepticism about "stories" told by politicians. The menacing presence of "them," whoever they are, has always been sufficient in the South to jog us past the Christian admonition to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Morality gets mugged by racist fear.

But if you're going to make stuff up, it's better not to get caught at it.

At Myrick's press conference, Foxx didn't say much of anything. At least she isn't reported making up any additional "facts" about the threat of terrorism coming out of Mexico. But it's not as though Foxx doesn't already have a deep history of anti-immigration initiatives, first in the North Carolina Senate, and just since last January when she first took her seat in Washington, she's listed as a co-sponsor or supporter of a long list of new anti-immigration legislation ... like H.R. 3938, which would eliminate provisions for a random drawing of 55,000 visas annually (the "visa lottery") and end the alloting of 65,000 other visas to the siblings of adult U.S. citizens; H.R. 698, the Citizenship Reform Act of 2005, legislation that would end the process of granting automatic citizenship to the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens; H.J. Res 41, a proposal that would amend the Constitution of the United States so that no person born in the United States would be a United States citizen unless a parent is a United States citizen, is lawfully in the United States, or has a lawful immigration status at the time of the birth. Etc.

Foxx wants a Constitutional Amendment, no less, to keep certain people from achieving citizenship in this country.

Not so many years ago, Virginia Foxx was known as something of a Republican moderate. She subtly sent the message to mountain "progressives" that she welcomed the candidacy of Harvey Gantt against Jesse Helms in 1990, and she complained privately about the overt racism of her fellow Watauga legislator Gene Wilson. Foxx was president of a small mountain community college at the time and had supported "liberal" causes like the Equal Rights Amendment and adoption by gay couples. That's why a pro-choice group, 100 Women of Watauga County, endorsed Foxx for State Senate in 1994 and gave her money, because she told the Endorsement Committee that she was pro-choice and anti-racist.

What a difference a few years make, not to mention a few Republican primaries involving higher office. Vernon Robinson beat up on Foxx unmercifully last year as some sort of closet flamer for lesbian sex. Ironically, considering Foxx's own similar stands, illegal immigration furnished one of Robinson's cudgels. Robinson ran a radio spot in 2004 which opened with the theme music from "The Twilight Zone." An announcer said, darkly, "The aliens are here, but they didn't come in a spaceship. They've filled our criminal courtrooms and clogged our schools .... They sponge off the American taxpayer ... they've even taken over the DMV. These aliens commit heinous crimes ... You walk into a McDonald's restaurant to order a Big Mac, and find to your horror that the employees don't speak English." Robinson even put a nasty spin on the required "paid for by" tagline. It was said in Spanish: "Yo, gringo. Robinson por congreso."

Foxx would never have associated herself with that language -- she was the Un-Robinson of 2004 -- but now she's very pleased to associate herself with resentment against sponging aliens. The net outcome remains the same: "These people all have homes. We need to help them go home." It didn't ultimately matter whether we got Robinson or Foxx. It's the same old racism, a sell-out of Christian values, and it's done with a sterling-silver cynicism that has become Congresswoman Foxx's hallmark.

Rob Christensen recently wrote with historical perspective in the Raleigh News & Observer, "it seems clear as I travel around the state that some North Carolinians find the new wave of immigrants -- with their different language and culture -- a bit unsettling. And some politicians are trying to tap into that unease. Unlike many other states, North Carolina is not used to large-scale immigration. When it industrialized, it filled its factories with white sharecroppers from the mountains and countryside, not Polish, Italian or Irish immigrants. For much of its history, North Carolina exported people -- whites in the 19th century westward and blacks in the 20th century to the Northern cities. Even so, nativist politics occasionally surfaced in criticism of Catholics, Jews and immigrants."

And so it goes now, for Mexicans specifically and Hispanics generally.

It's an ugly populism that grows more obtuse and prouder of itself every day. Recently, a student columnist at the Daily Tar Heel in Chapel Hill felt free to publish the following opening sentence to an editorial in the student newspaper: "I want all Arabs to be stripped naked and cavity-searched if they get within 100 yards of an airport." The uproar that followed caused her firing off the paper, and she became a one-day sensation on talk radio as the victim -- mind you -- of liberal intolerance. She thought she was being funny, she said, even cute, and it was other people who caused the problem. (The Weld County, Colorado, commission recently introduced a resolution calling for the forced removal of all illegal immigrants from the county. BYO pitchforks and torches. Examples multiply like mushrooms in horse manure.)

These are the pilot fish who swim with the big sharks in North Carolina, just waiting to thrash the water over the chunks of easy prey. Virginia Foxx has obviously carefully considered who she's swimming with.

But she's also trying to serve another master not so hot to end illegal immigration. While Foxx is bluffing North Carolina about losing one-quarter of its highway budget, she's also taking money from the same big business interests who actually depend on illegal immigrants to swell their laboring ranks at the lowest pay. They're the ones who've convinced President Bush, too, to go slow on closing the borders. Very powerful business interests need "guest workers" in the worst way: the construction industry, the hospitality industry (lodging and restaurants), big agriculture including Christmas trees.

It's the essence of her hypocrisy on the illegal immigrant issue. She stirs up incipient racism against illegals and simultaneously gives aid and comfort to big business that depends on those workers on a daily basis.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"Ouch" Is Right

Rep. John Murtha, former Marine, decorated Vietnam veteran and influential Democratic hawk, to Cheney: "I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

By way of the Daou Report.

They're Revolting in the House

About 2:15 this afternoon, the Democrats in the U.S. House held together (amazing in itself) and with 22 Republican "moderates" defeated the attempt by Republican conservatives to slash social services. It was an appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (and related agencies), and it went down 224 to 209. According to Think Progress, the 15-minute vote was held open for 30 minutes, but the Republican strong arms could not make 22 members of the Republican caucus vote "right." Not one Democrat -- not one! -- voted for the Republican bill.

How's that for togetherness?

And how's that for the fracturing of the Republican monolith?

Needless to say, Virginia Foxx voted with her leadership. She just hates the sponging poor.

Squatter's Rights

Carter Wrenn, the man who helped Jesse Helms box and sell his particular brand of Southern skunkwater, is miffed that Democrats are now beginning to use religion to get elected (or re-elected, depending). No, really. Go see for yourself.

Bev Perdue Does the Back-Stroke

Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue was positively dog-paddling through the cash -- $130,000 -- last night at a private fundraiser at the Charlotte home of Patty and Tommy Norman. (Details here, scroll down.) Tommy Norman is the head of a Charlotte development company. There were so many big heads in the room that they were said to run out of oxygen twice.

Rep. Tom Davis Has a Clue

Republican members of Congress should perhaps listen to fellow Republican Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia. Davis said in a breakfast meeting yesterday with the staff of the Christian Science Monitor that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, there'll be SUCH political bashlash in the suburbs that previously "safe" Republican seats will be up for grabs. He said some other interesting stuff too, which you can go read for yourself.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Quote of the Week. Maybe the Month

"The Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them.... To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic."

--Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), responding to El Presidente's suggestion earlier this week that critics of the war in Iraq are "sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Targeting Women's Choices

A battle has erupted between Target stores and Planned Parenthood over the retailer's decision not to dispense emergency contraception pills ("Plan B") if such birth control is contrary to the store pharmacist's religion. Planned Parenthood has up a special website dedicated to generating e-mails to Target and other retailers who are allowing pharmacists to pull rank via their religion. For the record, you can write your opinions on this matter to

Here are some intercepted e-mails that have flown back and forth, starting with Target's boilerplate form letter sent to everyone who complains:


Dear Target Guest ["Guest"?]

In our ongoing effort to provide great service to our guests, Target consistently ensures that prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also requires us to accommodate our team members' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In the rare event that a pharmacist's beliefs conflict with filling a guest's prescription for the emergency contraceptive Plan B, our policy requires our pharmacists to take responsibility for ensuring that the guest's prescription is filled in a timely and respectful manner, either by another Target pharmacist or a different pharmacy.

The emergency contraceptive Plan B is the only medication for which this policy applies. Under no circumstances can the pharmacist prevent the prescription from being filled, make discourteous or judgmental remarks, or discuss his or her religious beliefs with the guest.

Target abides by all state and local laws and, in the event that other laws conflict with our policy, we follow the law.

We're surprised and disappointed by Planned Parenthood's negative campaign. We've been talking with Planned Parenthood to clarify our policy and reinforce our commitment to ensuring that our guests' prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. Our policy is similar to that of many other retailers and follows the recommendations of the American Pharmacists Association. That's why it's unclear why Target is being singled out.

We're committed to meeting the needs of our female guests and will continue to deliver upon that commitment.

Jennifer Hanson
Target Executive Offices


Ms. Hanson's form-letter elicited this response from a Raleigh resident:


Ms. Hanson,

There are several contradictions contained in your response to my email, though I do appreciate your courtesy in responding.

The most glaring of these contradictions is contained in your last sentence, when you indicate that you are committed to meeting the needs of your female "guests"; this is obviously false, since a significant number of women at some time in their lives find themselves in the dire circumstances of having a condom break, or of being raped, or of being lost in the moment and not using adequate protection during intercourse. Your policy seeks to minimize their access to a safe, legal method of preventing an unwanted pregnancy. It is, quite simply, unconscionable, and Target should be ashamed to have such a policy.

Why make things so complicated? It is very simple. I have a prescription. Your pharmacist fills the prescription. It is none of the pharmacist's business why I am filling the prescription. They are not in a position to judge my actions. And why is it that Plan B is the only prescription which falls under your bogus claim of calling Title VII of the CRA into action? Do you allow your Catholic employees to not fill prescriptions for other types of birth control, or for Viagra? How about antabuse for your alcoholic customers, or HIV medications for your homosexual clientele? Really, you have begun your slide down a very sinister slippery slope.

I know something about providing care to medical clients. I've been a registered nurse for 25 years, and there were plenty of times that I provided care to patients who may have made different decisions than I would have made, or who did not hold the same religious beliefs as I do. There have been times when I did not agree with the care I was being asked to provide. But I have NEVER denied care, and I have NEVER stood in judgment of a client's decision when what I was asked to do was legal and within the realm of standard care. I have always been there for the patient, not for myself and for what necessarily made me feel comfortable. And I would never have turfed my work to someone else. It was never about me. It's always been about the client and their needs. If I had not been able to think of the client first, then I would have had to leave nursing. Perhaps your pharmacists with such deeply held religious beliefs should give that option some thought.

Ironically, I have just come upstairs from discussing our family's boycott of Target for this issue with my husband. It is that important to me, though it will create a hardship. I have pulled my prescriptions from Target, and we have decided not to shop at your stores until you change your policy with regard to Plan B. My husband will no longer make his bimonthly run for bodywash, contact solution, and the like. My kids won't buy their playstation games or clothes there any longer. There are many more like me.

With all due respect, please don't whine about why Target is being "singled out." You're being "targeted" because you hold a policy which tolerates withholding safe, legally prescribed birth control to women based on someone else's religious beliefs. If that doesn't scare the hell out of you, then you're not paying attention.

Shame on Target.



And this message sent by a Boone resident:


Dear Target,

Because you have now established a policy that your pharmacists will no longer be required to fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptive Plan B, today our family established a new policy of no longer patronizing your stores. We have torn up our Target cards and have decided to let you know personally via email every time we spend elsewhere money that would have previously gone to your stores.

Please also consider this email a formal request to remove us from all mail solicitation.

We would also appreciate your responses to the following questions:

1. If one of your sales team members is an evangelical, are you now allowing them to refuse to sell Halloween costumes such as witches and devils?
2. Are your Baptist team members now excluded from having to sell rock and roll music?
3. Are your Jewish team members required to sell Christmas items?
4. Are your Lutheran team members now precluded from selling ornate religious icons?
5. Are your Unitarian team members allowed to refuse to sell "Left Behind" books?
6. Are your Jehovah Witness team members required to stock flashy clothes?

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Name Withheld
Boone, North Carolina

Rip a Tongue Out For Jesus

El Presidente got the ball rolling last week in a Veteran's Day speech: Criticize me and my war, you're unAmerican:

He said that anyone accusing his administration of having "manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people" was giving aid and comfort to the enemy. "These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them."

This is only the beginning of what will become a mounting campaign to intimidate the 57 percent of Americans who now believe El Presidente lied us into war. And there will be many willing foot soldiers in this dirty campaign, like Andrew Koeppel, Chairman of the Republican Party for the NC 7th Congressional District and a member of both the North Carolina Republican State Executive Committee and the North Carolina Republican Central Committee. Koeppel's opinions about treason were contained in e-mails that have been published on The Political Junkies site here. Highlights:

"It is time for people, especially the Republican leadership in Congress, to determine when remarks of the opposition to the war no longer represent legitimate political dissent. When do these remarks not only give 'aid and comfort to our enemies', but also cross the line that constitutes treasonous behavior? ... opponents of our war effort .... need to be warned that they have reached the limit. If they do not immediately cease and desist, they will be forced to face the consequences."

And we're fighting for whose freedom?

Monday, November 14, 2005

It's Not the Heat. It's the Timidity

Part of the pleasure of watching the other side lose elections ... the recriminations that follow. The losing Republican gubernatorial candidate in New Jersey, for example, Douglas R. Forrester, said yesterday in New Jersey's largest newspaper that his loss was all El Presidente's fault (coverage about, in the NYTimes).

Friday, November 11, 2005

Robinson Rules Out Running Against Foxx in a Primary

Ousted Republican city councilman Vernon Robinson of Winston-Salem has ruled out challenging Virginia Foxx again next year for her Fifth District seat in Congress. From yesterday's Scott Sexton column in the Winston-Salem Journal:

"Though Robinson wouldn't (and couldn't) predict his next move yesterday, he did emphatically rule out the Foxx option. 'Vernon Robinson is not going to run against Virginia,' he said. 'And unless they plan on losing, no one else -- Ted Kaplan or Al Joines -- should, either. The GOP might lose 60 seats in Congress next year, but the 5th District won't be one of them.' "

Ted Kaplan and Allen Joines are both Winston-Salem Democrats, and both have talked publicly about challenging Virginia next year.

So far as Robinson's prediction that Virginia can't be beat, well, he's entitled to his opinion, but we're not prepared to take political advice from the man who called Foxx a flaming liberal feminist last year when he ran against her.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Intercepted Correspondence

Dear Representative Foxx,

I am writing to ask you to support Senator John McCain's proposed legislation against the abusive treatment of terror suspects.

As you undoubtedly already know, McCain's measure calls for the prohibition of the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" on any suspect in United States custody. McCain's provision has been decisively passed by the Senate (most recently on November 4, by a unanimous voice vote), and is due for a vote in the House of Representatives. Two problems, however, have arisen.

First, it appears that some House Republicans (particularly Speaker Dennis Hastert) are using delaying tactics to stop McCain's measure from coming up to a vote. These delays prompted McCain to deliver the following speech from the Senate floor:

"I would hope that no one seeks procedural maneuvers to thwart overwhelming majorities in both chambers. A bicameral, bipartisan majority in support of this
amendment will prevail. Even if the will of the majority is thwarted this month, if it is thwarted next month, it will not be denied indefinitely. If necessary, and I sincerely hope it is not, I and the co-sponsors of this amendment will seek to add it to every piece of important legislation voted on in the Senate until the will of a substantial bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress prevails."

Representative Foxx, I implore you to help John McCain bring his important measure to a quick vote.

Second, the White House has promised to veto the measure if it passes through Congress. President Bush claims that McCain's language will hamper his ability to fight the War on Terror, and Vice-President Cheney has lobbied to exempt the CIA from McCain's provision. This is immoral. Recall that the Taguba Report, an
internal Army investigation of the abuses at Abu Ghraib, indicated that American soldiers punched, kicked and slapped detainees; photographed and videotaped naked prisoners in sexually humiliating positions; placed wires on a detainee's finger, toes and penis "to simulate electric torture"; and took pictures of dead Iraqi prisoners.

Acts like these severely undermine our attempt to bring democracy to Iraq and the Middle East. We need McCain's legislation to ensure that atrocities like these are never committed again.

House Republicans who agree with McCain's provision as written include Michael N. Castle of Delaware; Christopher Shays, Nancy L. Johnson and Rob Simmons of
Connecticut; James T. Walsh, Sherwood Boehlert and John R. Kuhl Jr. of New York; Joe Schwartz and Vernon J. Ehlers of Michigan; Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania; Wayne T. Gilchrest of Maryland; Tom Petri of Wisconsin; Ron Paul of Texas; Jim Leach of Iowa; and Jeb Bradley of New Hampshire.

Virginia Foxx of North Carolina belongs on that list. Please vote in favor of McCain's measure.

Representative Foxx, I would like to meet with you personally to discuss this issue. It's one I feel very passionate about, and I need your direct and personal
assurance that you will support McCain's measure. I will call your Boone office in the next couple of days to schedule an appointment with you.

Thanks in advance for your time, and I look forward to meeting you soon.


[signed by a Watauga County resident]

If you'd like to join this good citizen in contacting Madame Virginia Foxx on this issue, you can access e-mail direct to the representative at

We'll try to update readers of this site about that direct face-to-face meeting the letter-writer asked for (we trust he ain't holding his breath!).

May They Burn in Hell

Not sufficiently mad at Big Oil? Read this column by Dana Milbank in the WashPost, and you will be.

Strategy Notes

Still sorting through what happened on Tuesday. Not surprisingly, everyone has an opinion, but some are more interesting than others. Here are a few extracted from this article in today's WashPost:

In Virginia, Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore ran against Tim Kaine as though he were Ted Kennedy. We saw those TV spots: "liberalliberalliberal!" Said Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin, "It's not just that they [the GOP] lost these elections, but that none of their old tricks worked that they've relied on to give them the edge in close contests."

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) added that the GOP's reliance on cultural issues, popular with rural voters, "are just blowing up" in suburban and exurban communities. "You play to your rural base, you pay a price," he said.

Gay-bashing ain't all that popular with swing voters. In fact, negative campaigning in general gains you nothing much with swing voters. Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) said, "...if you run in most of the swing states, for every progressive voter there are probably two swing voters. You've got to appeal to the moderate voters. Swing voters do not respond well to partisanship and to negative campaigning. What they're really looking for are people with integrity and people trying to solve their problems."

What El Presidente seems to have achieved by his election-eve campaign visit to Virginia on behalf of Kilgore is ... political leprosy. Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) told radio show host Don Imus yesterday that he does not want the president's help: "No, not at this time." Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), facing a tough reelection race next year, will not appear at a Bush event in Pennsylvania tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

How We Loved Tuesday's Massacre!

Instead of getting to be on-line all day today, to savor the news from last night, we've had to be on the road most of the day, so I'm just now pulling up a padded chair to the howling internet. No doubt you already know the high spots:

1. Nut-job Vernon Robinson, who gave Madame Virginia Foxx such right-wing fits in last year's Republican primaries, got booted off the Winston-Salem City Council.

2. Eight -- count 'em! -- Republican members of the Dover, Pa., school board, the bunch that smuggled creationism back into the school curriculum under the guise of "intelligent design," were relieved of duty en masse by eight Democrats who explicitly supported the teaching of evolution.

3. Oh, yeah, and that business about the two guvs of Virginia and New Jersey.

4. All of Governor Terminator's ballot initiatives in California went down to defeat -- every last one.

5. A whole host of other bright spots, from big-city mayors, to more Dems in the Virginia House of Delegates, but we haven't had the proper time yet to fully landscape that garden.

No, what we MOST wanted to read were the pundits of what our bartender at the Whiskey Bar calls "Right Blogostan," to see how they would spin these losses (but really we just wanted to watch 'em bleed). Here's a quick and highly arbitrary tour (click the boldfaced names below to get the links):

Tammy Bruce: "I'm sad to see Arnold's propositions have gone down .... I'm particularly sad because it's not good for any of us to have Arnold lose one; this cuts down on his political capital, and I had hoped that he might help lead the entire Republican party in the right direction (i.e., sensible fiscal policies and tolerant but non-kooky social policies). If Arnold can"t show Republicans the way, then who will?"

GOP Bloggers: "What happened in California yesterday was just sad .... To make things worse, they also rejected parental notification for minors seeking abortions ... Which is perhaps what disturbs me most about how Californians voted."

Kevin McCullough: "So where was the one lone bright spot for values based voters? Texas voters by 76% rejected changing the definition of marriage to include homosexual unions. Like so many other states the laws in Texas did not previously allow such unions to be called marriage, but this action was taken so as to prevent activist judges from overreaching and redefining something against the expressed will of the voters. And voters spoke loudly at a 3 to 1 ratio making it clear what the intent of the people is!"

Outside the Beltway: "Most of the political analysis leading up to and now reporting on yesterday's numerous state and local races focused on what message it would send about national politics. A win by Republicans would help President Bush while a win by Democrats would signal that the country is tired of Republican leadership, an ominous harbinger for the 2006 Congressional elections and the 2008 presidential race. Such analysis is, in a word, nonsense."

Michelle Malkin: "The Dems may have claimed victory in NJ and Va., but I think it's still too early to proclaim this the 'Night of The Democrats,' as the Drudge Report headline is calling it. The Soros-backed election 'reform' measures in Ohio look like they're going down in flames. And the night is still young in California... Still, the Virginia loss should trouble the GOP greatly. Turnout didn't happen, and party leaders have some 'splainin' to do."

Alexander McClure: "The bright side, if there is one, is that the Republicans won both the Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General races [in Virginia]. That means the Democrats do not have any heavyweight contender for the nomination in 2009. But I won't predict the GOP picks up Virginia in 2009. Knowing the Republican Party, it will have a brutal and vicious primary. Nice job GOP. Nice job George Allen. I hope Republicans across America don't allow you anywhere near the podium on the final night of the 2008 Republican Convention."

Curious ... no right-wing bloggers that I can find (admittedly on the fly) are wrapping themselves in the reelection of Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC. Could it be because he's L-I-B-E-R-A-L?

It's a sad commentary indeed -- poor Kevin McCullough! -- to be forced to find solace in the fact that Texans really really really hate gay people (every last one of them ... except the organists in First Baptist Churches all over the Lone Star State).

And, yes, the winner of the election in Virginia may really be Mark Warner, the soon to be ex-governor and future candidate for president. But I'm actually more impressed that yesterday also curiously helps John McCain tremendously, and Chuck Hagel, a couple of Republican renegades who might now be positioned to come riding in on steeds of moderation (is that a contradiction in terms?) to take a defeated and decimated Republican Party back to the center after the elections of 2006.

Foxx Wants To Cut Off N.C.'s Federal Highway Money

Her president sinks to historic lows in job-approval ratings, what does a freshman Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives do?

Her party suffers humiliating defeats just yesterday in state and local elections, what's a freshman Republican U.S. representative to do?

Why, change the subject.

So Madame Virginia Foxx is teaming up with five of N.C.'s seven Republican House members to demand that her home state stop issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, or else! Else what? Else she'll work to cut off North Carolina's share of federal highway dollars. Cool!

They've got a corrupt administration with the blood of thousands on their hands, no moral compass in the way federal money gets spent, and they want to punish their own state while trumping up a little down-home race bias against immigrants' getting driver's licenses.

This is called manufacturing an issue which is guaranteed in an Old South state to have a built-in constituency. What's next? Repeal of the anti-lynching laws?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Madame Foxx to Poor Constiuents: Eat Wallpaper!

Virginia Foxx has been busy as a member-in-good-standing of the Republican Study Committee, working to pass a budget reduction bill that would require longer work hours to qualify for welfare, allow states to impose new costs on Medicaid beneficiaries, cut assistance for child support enforcement, trim student loan spending, cut back agriculture supports, and curb eligibility for food stamps ... all to pay for yet another tax cut for the rich.

At the moment, according to the WashPost (linked above), House Republican leaders acknowledge they don't have the votes to pass this monstrosity.

Goin' Down to Cripple Creek, Goin' in a Run

Anent El Presidente's 11th hour venture into the Virginia gubernatorial race last night in Richmond, on behalf of Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore:

"I think [Bush] will regret it, and I think the only reason he went is because not going was a threat to his manhood," Democratic political consultant Mark Mellman said. "It's a very big risk .... There's not much gain for him there. I don't think anybody is going to say Bush's popularity helped Kilgore. But people will say Bush's unpopularity really hurt Kilgore." (Quoted in the WashPost here.)

Isn't EVERYTHING a threat to this guy's manhood?

Monday, November 07, 2005

IRS Targeting a Liberal Church

With every Southern Baptist congregation in the known universe becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, who does the IRS chose to target with a threatening letter? Why a large Episcopal church in Pasadena, Calif., because of an anti-war sermon preached there just prior to the 2004 election.

This is certainly the sort of fairness we've come to expect from this administration.

The Puppet and the Puppet-Master

"We do not torture."
--President George W. Bush, in Panama, yesterday.

"In recent months, [Vice President Dick] Cheney has been the force against adding safeguards to the Defense Department's rules on treatment of military prisoners."
--Washington Post, "Cheney Fights for Detainee Policy: As Pressure Mounts to Limit Handling Of Terror Suspects, He Holds Hard Line," 7 Nov. 2005.

Do these two guys even talk any more? Or has Master Cheney perfected his ventriloquism to long-distance control of El Presidente's moving parts?

"We do not torture." We can say that because we've got Rumanians and Poles from the old Gulag system doing it for us. Or God knows who else.

"We do not torture."

We and the rest of the world don't believe you, Mr. President.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

What's This? Kilgore To Be Seen With Bush!

What possibly could have happened to make Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore all giddy like a school girl ... that El Presidente Himself will come to the Old Dominion on Monday -- election eve -- and personally campaign for Kilgore's election. What possibly could have happened to turn Kilgore around, who just last week didn't want to be seen anywhere in Bush's general vicinity?

A poll showing Democrat Tim Kaine with a 3-point lead ... that's what.

Even at this distance we can see flop-sweat breaking out all over the Virginia GOP, which by rights and by all logical odds ought to be sweeping to victory in Virginia. Instead, the soft-on-capital-punishment, "liberalliberalliberal" Tim Kaine is LEADING.

Granted, it ain't much of a lead, and double-granted, the election may put Kaine's dick in the dirt (as they say in Nelson County), but gosh we're enjoying the spectacle of the formerly snubbed Chief Executive of the United States of America suddenly Jerry Kilgore's bosom-buddy. They obviously need each other. And richly deserve each other.

Friday, November 04, 2005

ASU to Watauga County: We Don't Need No Stinking Artifacts!

The mistreatment of the Appalachian Cultural Museum by ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock is a blunder that has the potential of becoming a fiasco on its way to a scandal. Wednesday's Watauga Democrat opined in an editorial ("Keep our mountain heritage in good health"), "The university should invest as much money, time and space in this cultural icon as they will with the new nursing school." (Watauga Democrat editorials aren't posted on-line, apparently.)

Money seems to be the issue. Ironically, the Appalachian Cultural Museum costs the university virtually NOTHING. It's annual operating budget (exclusive of salaries) is a measly $10,000 (and, yes, you read that correctly). It's apparently as easy to throw away something you don't value highly as it is to cut out hugely expensive white elephants.

In his hot pursuit of a new nursing program, Chancellor Peacock apparently hatched a plan to seize the Cultural Museum's space up to 14 months ago but never bothered to involve the museum staff in that decision or in any planning. Now they are told suddenly to vacate the premises. Lorin Baumhover, the chancellor's numero uno hatchet man, stated on Oct. 13th that the nursing program is a higher priority than the museum's relocation (yes, we get that!), and on Oct. 21st Baumhover blandly told the museum staff, along with a committee of town and county leaders, that there was no money available to fund the relocation of the museum. Nevertheless, the museum must be moved out by New Year's. That's their story, and they're sticking to it.

Nice vise-grip you've got there, Mr. Hatchet Man. So what's the museum to do? Throw the stuff out into the parking lot? Hold a yard sale? "Frankly, my dear, we don't give a damn," Mr. Baumhover appears to be saying (on behalf of his boss). Baumhover hinted Oct. 21st that the museum may just have to close, but, he cheerily hastened to add, none of the personnel would lose their jobs. That's a huge whopping plate of consolation! You may not have a museum to manage, but we'll give you a nice desk somewhere with infinite paperwork to shuffle.

(It's as clear as the nose on a certain someone's face that the ASU administration just wanted the museum to go away as quietly as possible. But there's something of an unanticipated spotlight shining on it. The editorial in the Watauga Democrat on Wednesday helped, and we hear there's to be a resolution introduced in the Faculty Senate scolding Peacock for doing crummy things in the name of progress.)

The committee that formed of town and county leaders (the "Museum Building Committee") is shouldering what should be by rights the university's responsibility. If anything bad happens to one artifact, it's the university's fault.

The ASU administration passes the buck to a group of private citizens, offers them no money whatsoever to support a museum relocation, and impatiently pats its foot while pointing to the calendar: "You've got to be out by January 1st. Why haven't you started moving?"

Chancellor Peacock is apparently fond of handing out copies of his favorite corporate advice book, "Good to Great" by Jim Collins, who evidently offers a justification for putting someone with no leadership skills into a leadership position. Maybe Peacock ought to be passing out copies of Kafka instead.

We pray that the clouds break, that the sun shines through this abysm, that some private angel steps forward to offer the museum a place to go and money to get there. When and if that happens, Chancellor Peacock and his hatchet man should get the sort of recognition they have so fulsomely merited.


Is Appalachian State University broke? To wit:

1. There's no money to relocate the Cultural Museum (got it!).

2. There's a rumor afoot that bright brains in the administration intended to use free convict labor to move the departments of history & political science to new quarters ... because they don't have any money to hire it done. That plan has been scrubbed (someone with a lick of sense apparently considered the negative PR. Sample headline: "Peacock Gets Penal Implants").

3. The third floor of the brand new library cannot be utilized (furnished and occupied) because ... THERE'S NO MONEY FOR IT!

So what's up? Mis-management?

Clearly, we're going "from good to great" at quite a clip!

The Republican Dirt on N.C. Democrats

Democrats will have supplied the Republican talking points against them in North Carolina's 2006 General Assembly elections ... by passing the lottery bill. Here's a preview from Republican uber-operative Carter Wrenn of those talking points. Senator Tony Rand has richly earned his defensive position, and we're interested to see Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue make an appearance her for her role. But ... what! no Jim Black?

Studies Find Wal-Mart's Impact on Economy Not So Good

The trouble with academics (other than the fact that they don't appear always tethered to the planet Earth) ... they're cussedly independent.

Wal-Mart, in its current campaign to burnish its bad image among the general public, commissioned a bunch of academics to do studies of the corporation's impact on the U.S. economy ... assuming, we feel sure, that the reports would come back all glowing and laudatory.

The resulting academic conference going forward today in Washington, D.C., "An In-Depth Look at Wal-Mart and Society," features several papers that prove that Wal-Mart's critics have been right all along, that Wal-Mart's pay practices depress wages beyond the retail sector. And that states have to spend on average $898 in Medicaid expenses for each Wal-Mart worker.

Remember when Wal-Mart sent a platoon of lawyers into Boone's Board of Adjustment less than two years ago to demand the right to expand our local store into a Supercenter, and the Boone Board of Adjustment said no thanks? Prescient decision, that! "One study concluded that Wal-Mart's giant grocery and general merchandise Supercenters brought little net gain for local communities in property taxes, sales taxes and employment; instead, the stores merely siphoned sales from existing businesses in the area." (Quote from LATimes story. Thanks to Stumpy for link.)

Bush Partisan Out at PBS

Recall that El Presidente installed as chairman of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting a partisan hack to "bring balance" to PBS ... Mr. Kenneth Y. Tomlinson. His two-year term as chairman expired two months ago, though he remained a board member. Last night, following the completion of a confidential report by the corporation's inspector general, who was investigating Mr. Tomlinson's use of corporate money to promote partisan Republican policies, Tomlinson decided to resign from the board. (NYTimes coverage here.)

One more Bush hatchet man bites the dust.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Narrative: How We Got Spun Into War

Chris Matthews reminds me of a yapping Pomeranian. I never come as close to canceling my cable service than when he's in full can't-shut-my-yammering-mouth mode on "Hard Ball." So it's understandable that I've actually missed what Arianna Huffington says is his HUGE contribution during the last week to "popularizing" an explanation for what exactly Scooter Libby was up to in all that leaking to Judy Miller, and the management of the MSM by this administration. It's highly recommended reading, despite how you feel about Matthews.

Madame Foxx Working to Cut Food Stamps

The U.S. House conservative Republicans are stirring up a witch's brew of cuts to social services which will disproportionately impact the poor -- to the tune of $50 billion -- while simultaneously planning to cut another $70 billion in taxes for the rich. Madame Virginia Foxx is simply giddy with anticipation.

The food stamp cuts alone in the proposed House legislation would knock nearly 300,000 people off nutritional assistance programs, including 70,000 legal immigrants, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Legal immigrants. (WashPost coverage here.) North Carolina, which Madame Foxx supposedly represents a part of, would be disproportionately affected by those cuts.

House Republican conservatives (Foxx & Friends) claim they're cutting $50 billion to make up for the Katrina spending, but they're giving it all away in another planned tax cut to rich constiuents, the fifth tax cut in five years. The $50 billion cut from food stamps, student loans, foster parent support, etc., plus another $20 billion, shoveled out to the rich.

The Pa. "Intelligent Design" Trial

We've been following on a daily basis the progress of Kitzmiller et al v. Dover Area School District up in Pennsylvania, where a group of parents had the temerity to sue the school board for introducing "creationism" into the science curriculum under the new guise of "intelligent design." You too can follow the progress of all that at this Pa. ACLU site (the links to Mike Argento's several columns are well worth the trip). The trial has not been going well for "intelligent design," with a judge actually appointed to the bench by George W. Bush himself. This commentary on Day 18 ... we found useful in describing the perjuries and money laundering that small-town elected officials waded into in their zeal to get religion into their public schools. (Thanks to Irmaly for the link.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wal-Mart Movie at ASU

A showing of the new documentary that has Wal-Mart all upset, "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," will take place on the ASU campus on Monday, November 21st at the odd hour of 12:30 p.m. The showing is being done for Watauga College students at the Living-Learning Center, Rm 205, during their lunch hour. (Thanks to Bob for the heads-up.)

Great Steaming Piles

Most states have to wait years -- or at least months -- to achieve this sort of scandal and evident corruption around a state lottery. North Carolina officials have achieved odoriferous malefaction in a matter of minutes! Thanks to all our Democratic leaders, from The Guv in the mansion to Jim Black in the N.C. House and Tony Rand in the N.C. Senate, for leading us so astutely down that primrose path.

Anti-Vagrancy Law Doesn't Apply in Congress?

The indicted Majority Leader Tom DeLay is a vagrant in Congress. Even though he was forced to resign his leadership office, he continues to try to run things. His staff is still scheduling House operations and sending out niggling memos to the troops. DeLay wedged himself into a meeting on budget cuts with key House committee members, some of whom said they were "dumbfounded, confused, and even angry" that DeLay would assume he was welcome.

"My issue is having an indicted former leader hanging around the leadership offices," an anonymous House Republican is quoted in the WashPost. "This guy did so much good work getting us into the majority. Why does he want to stick around? He's not helping us."

"Tom DeLay should not be in a position of authority," said Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), who called for DeLay's resignation from the House leadership even before he was indicted. "He should not be calling the shots or driving the agenda, and if he is, that would be unfortunate .... Ethics is everything. If you don't have a strong moral standing, if you don't have an ethical foundation, you just crumble."

Much of this discontent is expected to culminate this a.m. in a half-day Republican "retreat" (ahem) at the Library of Congress, where moderates are expected to air their discontent.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Alito's Freak-Out in Planned Parenthood v. Casey

Billmon, one of the best writers anywhere on the web, has an analysis of Samuel Alito's very weird dissent in one of the landmark abortion rights cases. Read it and weep.

Wal-Mart Gets a War Room

Today, in about two dozen theaters nationwide, a new documentary film is set to premiere, "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price." Made on a shoestring budget of $1.8 million and put out in such limited release, why is this film rattling Wal-Mart executives in Bentonville, Arkansas? Because it holds the possibility of becoming a runaway underground hit, sort of like Michael Moore's "Roger & Me" did in 1989, and it might do for Wal-Mart what "Roger & Me" did for General Motors -- expose the corporation to widespread ridicule.

So spooked has Wal-Mart become at this and other attacks on its corporate image that it's hired the late President Reagan's "image man" Michael K. Deaver and set up its own campaign-style "war room" to handle rapid response to criticism. (The company also hired one of Bill Clinton's media consultants. And other politicos.)

Ah, the high cost of those low prices!

ADDENDUM: Yesterday the Labor Department's inspector general strongly criticized department officials for "serious breakdowns" in procedures involving an agreement promising Wal-Mart Stores 15 days' notice before labor investigators would inspect its stores for child labor violations. (NYTimes coverage here.)