Imus Fired by MSNBC

Obama called for Imus to be fired. Edwards would give him a second chance. Giuliani and McCain would forgive and support him.

Just like with Iraq, it looks like Obama made the right call, and Edwards, Giuliani, and McCain got it wrong.  MSNBC has pulled the plug on the simulcast of his radio show.

Bush White House Admits Violating Law on Maintaining Emails

Washington Wire reports that the White House has admitted that it has destroyed email from top staffers in violation of the law:

The White House acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that some top staffers’ emails sent through outside accounts were routinely destroyed, despite a law requiring preservation of presidential records.

Outside email accounts have been created throughout the Bush administration for a select group of top White House officials, mostly those with political jobs that have brought them in frequent contact with the president’s own campaigns or the Republican National Committee. The RNC now maintains the accounts.

Democrats in Congress have been demanding access to the emails as an offshoot of their investigation into the firings of 8 U.S. attorneys. At least one White House official, Scott Jennings, took part in email discussions of the firings using his outside account.

An internal review showed that emails generated by the officials had been routinely erased prior to 2004, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said. Even after the routine erasures stopped in 2004, staffers sometimes deleted their own emails. The deletions have now stopped, he said.

The 1978 Presidential Records Act – adopted in the wake of President Nixon’s attempt to claim ownership of his own White House records – requires that every administration take steps to assure that there are adequate records of its deliberations, and that the records be preserved for history. White House officials said they created the outside email accounts in order to comply with another federal law, the Hatch Act, which broadly forbids use of government resources for political activity.

Democrats are skeptical of that claim, and suspect that White House officials were deliberately trying to avoid creating a record of their activities. Democrats say at least some of the outside emails clearly related to official actions, such as the firings of the U.S. attorneys. Unfortunately for administration critics, the Presidential Records Act lacks teeth, and a federal appeals court has held that its implementation usually can’t even be reviewed by a judge.

This interpretation, which admits that the White House broke the law but says that not much can be done comes from a pro-Republican sourse, The Wall Street Journal. While legal remedies through the courts are limited, they forget that Congress can also investigate. While by itself this wouldn’t be sufficient for impeachement, even if it is more significant than an extramarital affair, it is part of a wider pattern of abuse of powers and excessive government secrecy.

Update: More from AP and The Washington Post, including columnist Dan Froomkin

Richardson Gets Respect in the Blogosphere on Foreign Policy

Bill Richardson is ignored in much of the blogosphere, just as with the mainstream media. Fortunately there are forums where all the candidates can speak and be compared. Chris Bowers of MyDD sounds quite impressed with Bill Richardson while listening to the entire forum on Iraq. Bowers does not seem to have an agenda to push Richardson. Like much of the blogosphere, for reasons which escape me, MyDD is heavily pro-Edwards and Richardson was a distant third in their recent straw poll. Not having the time to listen to the forum, I’ll trust the comments from Chris Bowers, and note the background on Richardson presented:

I am currently listening to the entire forum on Iraq. Right now, I am about halfway through Clinton’s segment. So far, in the entire forum, no line struck me more than Bill Richardson’s “I would have no residual force whatsoever” in his opening statement (which he repeated in his response to question #1). With perfect clarity, that is exactly the line I have been looking for from Democratic candidates for President. It is a profound, substantive difference than what we have heard from, for example, Hillary Clinton, when she states that if she is President there will be a “remaining military as well as political mission” in Iraq. This is, in the final analysis, a difference between ending the war in Iraq, and simply decreasing the size of the war Iraq.

What really makes me happy about this statement is that it came from Bill Richardson. This is a man who, earlier today, brokered a deal with North Korea to allow weapons inspectors back into the country, and who, three months ago, brokered cease-fire deal in Darfur. To use the favorite term of neoliberal hawks, no one alive today is more “serious’ about foreign policy than Bill Richardson. And yet, here he is, running for President of the Unites States, and stating that the United States should have no residual force in Iraq whatsoever. Doesn’t he know that “serious” people aren’t supposed to say things like this?

This changes the debate on Iraq. For months, progressives have tried to make a big deal out of Clinton’s refusal to apologize for her Iraq war vote. At the same time, many candidates, not just Clinton, have claimed they are in favor of ending the war in Iraq, while simultaneously maintaining an American military presence in the country. This has been extremely problematic, since as long as the Iraq debate in the Democratic primary is still framed about the AUMF in 2002, and as long as “ending the war” in the Democratic primary means continuing it, there is ultimately no way to articulate a meaningful difference between the Democratic candidates on the future of American involvement in Iraq. Now, however, there is a clear difference, and it is one we must press.

Richardson is obviously a long shot, but if anyone has a chance of breaking out to surprise the pundits in 2008, as Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter did in the past, the one who can do that is Bill Richardson. People make a great deal out of the fact that Clinton and Carter were both southern governors. In 2008 the south will most likely belong to the Republicans, and the west will be the battleground which will determine whether Republicans are limited to support in the south. A western governor with Richardson’s background is in an ideal position for a dark horse candidate.

Lee Iacocca Blasts George Bush As Clueless Bozo Who Was Paralyzed After 9/11 Attack

The Carpetbagger Report quotes from Lee Iacocca’s upcoming book to note that Iacocca’s views on George Bush have really changed since he supported him in 2000. Before getting into that, we should remember that by 2004 Iacocca had realized the faults in George Bush and endorsed John Kerry:

Iacocca backs Kerry

By Jody Wilgoren
New York Times News Service

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Pitching his plans for the new economy, Sen. John Kerry was embraced on Thursday by an icon of the old, Lee A. Iacocca, the former chairman of the Chrysler Corp.

Iacocca, an outspoken supporter of President Bush’s in the 2000 election, said he was endorsing Kerry this year because “the bottom line is simple: We need a new CEO and a new president.”

“All of my best friends are Republicans,” Iacocca said as he introduced Kerry, the presumed Democratic nominee, for a speech on technology at San Jose State University, “and they ask me, ‘Are you crazy or something? Why are you doing this?’ I tell them the world is changing, our country is changing, and we need a leader who will understand that change taking place.”

Iacocca appeared in campaign commercials and on the stump for Bush in 2000 in Michigan, a state the Democrats ended up winning by 5 percent. Noting that his first ballot was cast for Harry S. Truman and that he had been “friendly with every president since Lyndon Johnson,” Iacocca, 79, said his decision to endorse Kerry was made “not as a partisan but as an unabashed patriot.”

He plans to campaign actively this fall in Michigan, Ohio and his native Pennsylvania.

Kerry, for his part, praised Iacocca as “a man of common sense” and said that “the Chrysler minivan has been the vehicle of success in winning my elections.”

Nowadays, of course, the company Iacocca built is the German-owned DaimlerChrysler. And Kerry is ferried to and fro in black Chevrolet Suburbans driven by Secret Service agents.

This makes the views Iacocca expresses in his upcoming book, Where Have All The Leaders Gone, less surprising. Iacocca writes that, “We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car.”

Iacocca complains that we voted for people who say to “stay the course” but also says what we didn’t vote for. “We didn’t agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn’t agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that’s a dictatorship, not a democracy.”

Iacocca blasts Bush for failing to show key characteristics of a leader, starting with curiosity:

A leader has to show CURIOSITY. He has to listen to people outside of the “Yes, sir” crowd in his inner circle. He has to read voraciously, because the world is a big, complicated place. George W. Bush brags about never reading a newspaper. “I just scan the headlines,” he says. Am I hearing this right? He’s the President of the United States and he never reads a newspaper? Thomas Jefferson once said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.”

Iaccoc continues this “C List” with a look at creativity, ability to communicate, character, courage, conviction, charisma, competence, and common sense, finding Bush failing . Discussing conviction, he writes, “Bush has set the all-time record for number of vacation days taken by a U.S. President—four hundred and counting. He’d rather clear brush on his ranch than immerse himself in the business of governing. He even told an interviewer that the high point of his presidency so far was catching a seven-and-a-half-pound perch in his hand-stocked lake.” Then Iacocca looks at his ability to handle a crisis after the 9/11 attacks:

That was George Bush’s moment of truth, and he was paralyzed. And what did he do when he’d regained his composure? He led us down the road to Iraq—a road his own father had considered disastrous when he was President. But Bush didn’t listen to Daddy. He listened to a higher father. He prides himself on being faith based, not reality based. If that doesn’t scare the crap out of you, I don’t know what will.

A longer excerpt from his book is under the fold.

Medicare, The French, and Freedom of Choice in Health Care

If there’s two things conservatives hate it is “socialized medicine” and anything French. I used to hate the idea of socialized medicine until I experienced corporate medicine. I had to abandon my old ideas after finding that Medicare, a government program, is both less restrictive than many private plans, and is also more efficiently run. Of course I’ve already pointed out that “socialized medicine” is really a poor description of such plans where government is the payer since health care is provided by privately owned practices.

The Plank looks at European health care systems and finds that the French have attitudes similar to Americans in wanting freedom of choice in health care. They compare the French system to Medicare:

One reason I consistently tout France is that, believe or not, French consumers seem to have very similar attitudes to American consumers when it comes to medical care. Having free choice of doctors and hospitals is really important to them — and they don’t like waiting in lines. They also seem to like their high-end medical care (though they have a thing for drugs rather than technology). So they’ve created and maintained a system that provides all of that. It’s the kind of system in which Americans would feel perfectly comfortable — even conservative ones. See, for example, this dispatch from an American conservative in Paris, which begins thusly: “What’s the old joke? A conservative is a liberal who has just been mugged? Well, I am a conservative who has just been ‘mugged’ by the socialized French health system, and, to my astonishment, I’m a believer.”

If that kind of system sounds familiar, that’s because it is: French universal health insurance works an awful lot like Medicare does in this country. And that’s the great irony of how screwy the debate over health care has become in this country. Conservatives always talk about expanding choice, yet when it comes to the choices Americans prize most — choice of doctor and hospital — government-run health care actually delivers that choice better than private health insurance.

It’s already a tough sell to convince conservatives that everything they think they know about government health care programs is wrong. Also telling them that this idea comes from France will hardly impress them, but if they really want to preserve choice in health care they better consider this before we are saddled with a more restrictive plan such as  HillaryCare.

More Subversive Ideas At Disney: Bill Nye the Evolution Huckster

The previous post on the reaction of fundamentalists to gay weddings at Disney parks was cross posted as a diary at Daily Kos. During the discussion at Kos someone noted the fundamentalist objections to the support for evolution seen at Disney. I replied that I’ve always considered the Universe of Energy Pavilion at Epcot to be one of the more “subversive” exhibits. Ellen DeGeneres (a lesbian) stars in a film which promotes evolution, and also teaches that the earth is older than the age stated in the bible. I decided to run a Google search, and actually did find that the religious right has noticed this:

Disney Showcases Evolution Propaganda Masterpiece 11/27/2000
On the Scene Report Opened a couple of years ago, Universe of Energy is one of several attractions at Epcot that portray molecules-to-man evolution as fact, with high-tech special effects, Star Wars quality surround sound, audio animatronics, simulation seats and fast-moving, humorous scripting. The attraction propels 500 impressionable youngsters and adults through the dazzling displays every 17 minutes, as it illustrates everything from the Big Bang to dinosaurs to the ultimate future, where the correct answer for the Double Jeopardy question What is the only energy source that will never run out? is: brain power.

Even atheistic scientists should be ashamed at some of the shallow science presented in these attractions, such as picturing the Big Bang from the outside (there is no outside to a universe that encompasses everything), or that brain power would survive the heat death of the universe. To be fair, Epcot in this holiday season does have a nice manger scene, Christian Christmas carols playing over the intercoms, good patriotic programs and other clean fun, but in the scientific programs, never is God mentioned any time, nor even a hint that anybody, anywhere believes anything else than that evolution is fact. The host of “Universe of Energy,” Bill Nye the Science Guy, could better be named Bill Nye the Evolution Huckster. And won’t parents just be thrilled to find out that the star of the show, who outwits Albert Einstein and exits to thunderous applause is none other than openly-homosexual actress Ellen DeGeneres.

Recommended Reading: Chuck Colson has an excellent treatment of Epcot’s evolution propaganda and the harm it can cause to Christian families in his millennium magnum opus, How Now Shall We Live?