Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare's Sister has joined Pandagon blogger Amanda Marcotte in resigning from the John Edwards presidential campaign. McEwan, in her announcement, makes it clear that she was not forced out by the candidate, the campaign staff, right-wing bloggers, or even the media, but by the vicious and threatening behavior of individuals who opposed her opinions.

How nasty and threatening do people have to be before they force someone out of a campaign? McEwan said she felt increasingly uncomfortable for herself and her family. Visit at your own risk, but here is a small collection of some of the things that were said to Amanda Marcotte, and Marcotte names names.

Naturally, since Marcotte is female, many of the attacks are sexual in nature, and all of them are unspeakably vile.

Fact-Checking Made Easy

Here's an interesting tidbit from "News War," the new Frontline documentary that begins tonight on PBS (read our review here). How can you tell if a government leak is true? Simple -- see if the FBI starts a leak investigation.

Below, Frontline's Lowell Bergman interviews former FBI counterintelligence director David Szady:

BERGMAN: How do you conduct [FBI leak investigations]...?

SZADY: Well, first of all, you have a victim agency, the owner of the information, those who classified it. What they have to do is file a report, which consists of 11 questions, and those questions go from was the material properly classified, was the information that was leaked accurate compared to what the actual classified information is?

BERGMAN: The information has to be accurate?


BERGMAN: So when the government announces a leak investigation and it comes to your office, it's confirming that the report in the newspaper, for example, or on television, was true.

SZADY: Yes. Indirectly, yes.

BERGMAN: That's one way to fact-check. [LAUGHTER]

When Mitt Romney entered politics in 1994 with a losing bid to unseat Sen. Ted Kennedy, he packaged himself as a moderate. He promised the Log Cabin Republicans that he would be a stronger advocate for gay rights than Kennedy. He also said that regardless of his personal beliefs, abortion should be safe and legal.

Let's be honest: You can't win in Massachusetts if you say you hate gays and value fetuses more than women.

When he announced his presidential aspirations earlier today, Romney presented himself as a veritable values warrior. He called for smaller government. Apparently, taxes are still too high...on the wealthy.

He also wrapped anti-abortion and anti-gay views into a frighteningly tight little package. (Perhaps he would support gag legislation recently introduced by the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance, limiting marriage to those who can and will have children?)

"America can't continue to lead the family of nations if we fail the families at home," he said, adding that values and morals are "under constant attack" and promoting families where a mother and a father are in each child's life.

Where to begin? Romney's rhetoric is so two decades ago and contradicts positions he's taken in the meantime. And to say values are under attack is downright frightening. I challenge Mr. Mitt to find me one instance of one person of any credibility saying that values and morals are bad: End laws against stealing! Make perjury mandatory! Murder? No problem!

The only way his statement makes any sense is as an assault on the separation of church and state, which is just downright bizarre because Romney isn't protestant, he's Mormon and would join gays and abortionists on the heretics list.

That's the crazy-boring package. Oh, yeah, he also supports continued involvement in Iraq.

In just another example of banks targeting high-risk groups, those with bad or no credit, Bank of America is discreetly offering credit cards to people without Social Security numbers, reports the Wall Street Journal today. Now, before my knee-jerk reaction, that this is a really dirty and exploitative moneymaking scheme, gets away from me, I think it's important to consider the positives.

Undocumented immigrants, the obvious target of the new offer (the majority of people in the U.S. who don't have a SS number are illegal immigrants), deserve options for credit as well. It is harder to buy a house, car and really, anything big without credit, and as the WSJ points out, illegal immigrants have "typically relied on loan sharks and neighborhood finance shops for credit." So potentially, this could be a good advancement. Unfortunately, Bank of America's lending scheme appears to be just another example of high-risk groups being taken advantage of.

Illegal immigrants have to pay an upfront fee to obtain Bank of America's Visa card and the interest rate on the card, surprise, surprise, is "unquestionably high," according to a researcher for the Nilson report, a group that puts out newsletters on consumer payment systems. Salon blogger Andrew Leonard, notes, sarcastically, that anti-immigration activists should be shouting from the rooftops, because immigrants' money will no longer be flowing across the border in the form of remittances, but rather staying right here in the U.S. of A.

It's a tough time for banks. Historically they have raked in profits by simply buying other banks, but consolidation regulations are tightening and banks are forced to look for other lucrative avenues. It's really no wonder Bank of America would look to give credit to an untapped population whose financial stability is not guaranteed, one that probably has no idea that the average household that makes less than $35,000 has credit card debt of $4,000.

Higher standards, huh?

The California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights feels your pain. You've been upset about eminent domain abuse—when cities take land from the little guys and pass it to developers of chain stores, car dealerships, and golf courses—haven't you? It's so un-American. Well, the Alliance sympathizes, and it wants to channel your feelings into… opening up nature preserves and greenbelts to developers.

Up close, the "Alliance" doesn't look like much an alliance. It looks more like a public relations firm. The man running the show, Marko Mlikotin, might be on Wal-Mart's payroll. He was spotted recently drumming up community support for two Wal-Mart supercenters in Chico, Calif. But public relations is a tough job, and he's having a rough go at it. Reporter Tom Gascoyne writes, "When I asked him questions, he would say, 'I'm not sure,' or 'Don't quote me.'"

Anyway, "Marko the Mysterious" just sent out a press release trumpeting a recent survey. The pollster is the Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican firm which says, "As our roots are in political campaign management, our research is focused on producing information…." Doesn't sound so objective.

You can guess the poll results: People don't like eminent domain abuse. They would support a law to protect homeowners. But the survey didn't differentiate between the private property rights of homeowners and those of Wal-Mart. And what people weren't asked about is how much they value open space and greenbelts and nature preserves. People don't want a law like Prop 90, which citizens smartly defeated in November, because it would have crippled environmental regulation and cost the states billions of dollars. A "pay-or-waive scheme," Prop 90 would have required the government to compensate landowners for new regulations that devalue their property, or waive the regulations altogether. (In Oregon, which has pay-or-waive, property owners in three months last summer filed more than $5 billion in claims).

As far as I can tell, no news agencies have picked up the survey, which means folks are onto Marko and his "alliance." But the point is, they're back. Special interests behind this "alliance" are drumming up support for another Prop 90. Get ready.

Representative Charlie Norwood has died at his home in Georgia, a victim of lung disease and cancer. Norwood, a Republican, was a citizen-politician, serving as a dentist before coming to Congress in 1994. Rest in peace.

The New York Times reported last week that a bipartisan federal commission has found that the Bush administration, "in its zeal to secure the nation's borders and stem the tide of illegal immigrants, may be leaving asylum seekers vulnerable to deportation and harsh treatment."

This comes after a 2005 report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom which found that immigration officials are far from welcoming when it comes to refugees fleeing persecution. The study found that asylum seekers have been incarcerated in prisonlike facilities while they wait to have their claims heard (if they haven't been already expedited), essentially being treated as criminals.

The study also documents inhumane treatment: in one Illinois county jail, the staff used "handcuffs, bellychains, and leg shackles...when detainees leave the facility." In addition, the study found that "the use of segregation, isolation, or solitary confinement for disciplinary reasons was widespread among the detention facilities that we sampled."

Did you get that? You might be fleeing from torture, persecution and violence in your own country. Then you seek refuge in America- "the land of the free" - and guess what you find? More inhumane treatment!

—Neha Inamdar

Want to draw your attention to this article from, via Alternet, because it does a great job of teasing out and articulating the emotions being felt by those who opposed the war from the beginning and who now have to accommodate buffoons like Joe Klein in their anti-war space.

But mainly because I have a man-crush on Matt Taibbi.

Update: Whoops. That article is almost a week old. Well, whatever. It's not time-sensitive anyway. Take it for what it's worth.

We've been following the Bush Administration's purge of politically troublesome U.S. Attorneys across the country. New details from McClatchy today, and they just add to body of evidence that makes this look like a nefarious and coordinated effort by the Bushies to rid the country of independent muckraking DOJ officials and replace them with cronies.

McClatchy reports that of the six attorneys who were fired for "performance-related issues," five "received positive job evaluations before they were ordered to step down." (For the record, most of the fired U.S. Attorneys were given no justification for their dismissals.) This fits with the finding from about a week ago that DOJ no longer has control over hirings and firings and has ceded the subject to political players in the White House. From the WaPo:

One administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in discussing personnel issues, said the spate of firings was the result of "pressure from people who make personnel decisions outside of Justice who wanted to make some things happen in these places."

Richard Cohen has an op-ed in the Washington Post today about the growing issue of whether or not Hillary Clinton will say plainly "I'm sorry" or "It was a mistake" about her vote for the Iraq War authorization. Currently, at campaign events in which voters literally beg her to say "I'm sorry," Clinton refuses and says that the mistakes were all George Bush's. She stubbornly sticks with the position even when voters amend their plea by saying they cannot vote for her until she admits guilt. Meet the Press had a really good synopsis of this whole affair on Sunday. It's long, but worth a read.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to Hillary Clinton. She was in New Hampshire yesterday. Her first appearance there in 10 years. And it was quite striking how many times she was asked about her position on the war. Here she is being asked in Berlin, New Hampshire, by a voter, a very serious question. Let's watch that exchange.
Unidentified Man: And I want to know if right here, right now, once and for all, without nuance, you can say that that war authorization vote was a mistake. And the reason I want to ask is because a lot of other senators have already done so, including some Republicans and including one of your competitors, Senator Edwards. And the reason I ask personally is because I, and I think a lot of other Democratic primary voters, until we hear you say that, we're not going to hear all these other great things you're saying.
SEN: HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): Well, I have said, and I will repeat it, that, knowing what I know now, I would never have voted for it. But I also—and, I mean, obviously you have to weigh everything as you make your decision. I have taken responsibility for my vote. The mistakes were made by this president, who misled this country and this Congress into a war that should not have been waged.
(End videotape)

That's the crux of the issue. Hillary will say everything she needs to say except "I'm sorry." She will even say that she has "taken responsibility for my vote," which sounds a lot like she accepts a share of the guilt that is spread all over Washington because of the Iraq disaster, but she will not utter the words that people are dying to hear. The man asking the question was begging for a straightforward, maybe even one-word, response. Analysis from Meet the Press:

MR. RUSSERT: Roger Simon, it's interesting. Reporters have been asking Hillary Clinton, "Was the war a mistake? Was the war a mistake?" because all the other Democratic candidates, major ones, have said that. Now, a voter, several voters have stepped forward. Is this simply "Gotcha" or is this something that's dead serious in the voters' minds?
MR. SIMON: It's dead serious. The questions come because she refuses to make Iraq part of her stump speech. And I think, and many disagree with me, that her current position not to apologize, not to say it was a mistake, is an untenable position for her. I think she will be pushed to say, before we get to the Iowa caucuses, "I was wrong," for two reasons. One, I think that's where the Democratic voters are in Iowa and New Hampshire; and two, it feeds the image that the critics have of her that she's a divisive figure. If this keeps going on week after week, people are going to say, "Why doesn't she just say she was wrong? Why does she keep this controversy growing—going on?" She doesn't want that, and I don't think she's going to be able to stick to that.

A moment later Howard Kurtz added, "this seems like a cautious answer... it also feeds the image that the many journalists have of Senator Clinton as being a kind of a cold and calculating and triangulating politician." I would add that it feeds the image that many voters have of her as a [insert any adjective here] politician. The adjective, you see, is immaterial: this response makes Hillary look like a politician, plain and simple, someone who slices and dices an issue of fundamental importance to avoid any blame and in the process disrespects the seriousness of the thing and loses connection with the everyday person who simply wants to hear straight talk and see genuine emotion.

Newsweek has a new article on John Edwards' authenticity, and the article makes it clear: the beginning of that story, that angle, that part of Edwards' public persona begins in the fall of 2005 when Edwards sat down and wrote on a piece of paper: "I was wrong." His consultants urged him to adopt the position that Clinton uses now: that he regretted his vote but that it was President Bush that was truly "wrong." Edwards rejected the position over and over -- either because his vote for the war was tearing at his soul and this was the most direct way to best his inner demons, or because he knew that apologizing would becoming the only politically savvy position to hold as the war got worse and the public turned further against it.

So do it, Hillary. Apologize. Be willing to admit a mistake. Be willing to let down the guard of strength. Because the fancy footwork is simply not sustainable. Maybe make a big splash with your change of heart; save your "I'm Sorry" moment for the first debate. But however you want to handle it, remember that a growing number of people feel like Cohen. "I don't want to know how Bush failed her," he writes. "I want to know how she failed her country."

Update: Roger Simon, writing at The Politico, says Clinton should "fess up instead of dodging." His elaboration: "Hillary Clinton can be open, charming, funny and warm on the stump. When she talks about her Iraq vote, however, she sounds closed, guarded, calculating and defensive."