May 31, 2005
The civilian and military leadership of this country appears to be either in a state of utter denial, or worse, consciously and systematically attempting to persuade the American public to deny reality.
Dick Cheney claims the insurgency in Iraq is "in the last throes" and says "we're making major progress there. [...] They had elections, free elections, really for the first time in centuries in January of this year." [I'll resist asking exactly when, previously, Iraq had "free elections". :)]
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that "the trend lines [in Iraq] are up." ... and he's not referring to the number of American casualties (1,656) or the numbers below.
By their logic, the more casualties the insurgency inflicts, the more car bombs that go off, the more suicide bombers that blow themselves up in the midst of a crowd, the more desperate the insurgency is, and the closer to the end of the war we are.
I suppose this means that if we see Baghdad taken out by a suitcase nuke, we can expect to hear our leaders proclaiming a national day of celebration in honor of our final victory in Iraq. V.I. Day, anyone?
Iraqi military prepares largest offensive
- May recorded 140 car bombings, the highest number ever
According to a senior U.S. military intelligence official in Baghdad, more than 140 car bombings occurred in May, beating the old record of 135 in April. He also said the nearly 60 suicide bombings in May were down from 69 in April.
The official, who spoke at a press briefing on condition of anonymity, insisted the insurgency is not growing stronger, and Myers said on another talk show Sunday that it is failing.
"They attacked Iraqi security forces, trying to keep people from signing up to defend their country. ... We have more recruits than we can actually, than the Iraqis can handle," Myers said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
You can read the transcript (another softball interview) on the Face The Nation web site. Also of note, Myers implicitly endorses the view that the Geneva Convention is outdated, and even references the DOJ's attempts to provide a legal basis for that:
"How do you deal with these people in a legal regime that was set up a long time ago for a much different time? And that's what the debate ought to be about. And we've tried to work our way through that, and the Department of Justice has tried to do that and so forth."
No reaction whatsoever from the interviewer to the implications of this statement--in fact, he cut off the interview shortly thereafter... had to go on and talk about federal regulation of steroid use in professional sports. Bleah.
SCHIEFFER: Well, I think we must note that--What?--there have been 70 Americans killed just last month and more than 500 Iraqis killed since those elections.
Gen. MYERS: Right. It's been a violent month, and that's the fact. Also in this month, we have 35 operations ongoing, what we call major operations, 30 of them led by Iraqis and coalition working together, five of them led by the Iraqis themselves. So things are turning in terms of the Iraqi security forces. And in the end, obviously, they have to do this work.
The interviewer just lets this transparent evasion and spin slide right by, doesn't even try and get a real answer out of Myers. This is journalism?!?
Of course, when it comes to delusional statements, it is hard to beat the civilian members of the Bush Administration, especially Dick Cheney...
Here's the money quote:
"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time," Cheney said. "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."
Cheney denied American wrongdoing at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which Amnesty International compared to a "gulag."
"Guantanamo's been operated, I think, in a very sane and sound fashion by the U.S. military. ... I think these people have been well treated, treated humanely and decently," Cheney said. "Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment.
"But if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who has been inside and been released ... to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated."
The quotes originated from an interview on Larry King Live with Dick (and Lynne) Cheney Monday. No hard questions asked, of course. Cheney used the "released prisoners peddling lies" line a couple of times during the interview.
God forbid Larry King ask him how 70 American casualties, 140 car bombings and 60 suicide bombings equates to an insurgency on its last legs.
The American media is giving our national leadership a pass on the war in Iraq. Truly pathetic.
May 30, 2005
I am leaving in the morning to attend the Take Back America 2005 conference in Washington, DC. I will be traveling all day Tuesday. The conference is Wednesday - Friday. I hope I will be able to post some observations about the conference while I am there.
If you are attending this conference, drop me a line!
ProgressiveSecretary.org sends progressive email letters to Congress, the President, and other officials on peace, ecology, civil rights and other issues. Letters come to your IN box. If you like them, you hit REPLY. It goes out with your name. Simple. This is a FREE service. It is volunteer-run. Since I've joined, over 1,000 letters on a wide variety of issues have gone out in my name - many of which have clearly been read, judging by the responses I've gotten.
May 29, 2005
Well, at least in Portland, Maine, that appears to be the case, see this article about the impact Green Independent Party members elected to the local school board are having.
Sive Neilan, head of the Portland Democratic City Committee, said the Greens are making inroads in city politics because they run effective campaigns. "They really have that piece of the politic down."
She said voters who are frustrated with the lack of new ideas in the national Democratic Party tend to mistakenly view Democrats here in the same light.
Yet, she said, Portland Democrats have long led progressive causes. "They have fought the right causes for a very long time, but people new to politics equate us with the people in Washington, and that is simply not the case."
I'm on my way out for the day, going to the San Francisco Zoo. But I wanted to ask a question that has been on my mind.
The Iraq War is said to be part of the "War on Terror." But President Bush has said that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack and al-Queda. He has said that the Iraq War is about "freeing the people of Iraq from a terrible dictator."
I honor the sacrifice of our men and women in the Armed Forces. And freeing the people of Iraq is a noble cause, though I sure wish America had had the option of approving it or not on those terms. But I wonder why so many people this Memorial Day continue to talk about the men and women fighting in Iraq to protect OUR freedom, and fighting the War On Terror? Don't they believe President Bush when he says that is not what this war is about?
May 28, 2005
Robert Kuttner at American Prospect has written a key article on the state of Progressive politics. He picks the title up from the widely-discussed Death of Environmentalism essay.
It's late. I'll write about it soon.
Sean Paul at the Agonist wants to know. "What do you believe would be some of the real world effects of a US default on its debt?"
Go leave a comment, or leave one here.
From a Kos diary: If a Senate Minority Leader Gives a Speech,
... to the National Press Club, a major policy speech, and hardly anybody reports it, has he made a sound?
[. . .] CNN? Nothing.
Fox News? Nothing.
MsNBC? Nothing.Go read the rest.
New York Times? Nothing.
Washington Post? Nothing?
Sometimes, many of us are quick to criticize our Democratic leaders for not being aggressive enough, for not stating what their positive goals are for the country, instead of merely outlining their opposition to the Republican agenda.
But in truth doesn't the fault primarily lie with our illustrious media? The same media that accepted the propaganda that led us to the Iraq quagmire. That gave the Swift Boat Vets all the free PR they could ask for to slander and lie about John Kerry's military career. That time and time again has dropped the ball regarding, or simply ignored, stories of Bush's deceits and Republican scandals like Gannongate, Valerie Plame, The Medicaire Prescription Drug Boondoggle, the Downing Street Minutes, Tom Delay's ethics, ad infinitum.
Isn't our media as much or more to blame as our Democratic leadership for the spread of this profoundly undemocratic Repblican hegemony?
I wrote about this yesterday.
A lot of bloggers, readers here and commenters at other blogs complain that the Democrats don't speak out enough. I think what is going on is that they are speaking out, every day, and the media is not covering it.Bloggers, let's get on this. Our readers shouldn't be blaming the Democrats for this.
Kevin Drum went to the bookstore to find a good book on American history. He found one, but it was set in 9-point type and was too hard to read, so he put it back on the shelf. He guesses that the publisher was trying to save money on paper. He put it back on the shelf. I suspect that some marketing weenie (disclaimer, I'm allowed to say that) got a bonus for reducing the cost of goods. Short-term, money saved. Longer-term, sales dry up.
It reminds me of all the stores, airports, etc. that "save money" by buying really cheap, thin toilet (scratchy) paper. Sure, it costs less per roll. But why don't they "get it" that people have to use FOUR TIMES AS MUCH PAPER?! Buyng that stuff doesn't save money, it forces people to use so much more that your real costs probably goes up. Short-term, save some money. Longer-term, it costs more. Duh!
May 27, 2005
Mary makes a good catch at The Left Coaster in Bush on Propaganda.
Mary makes a good catch at The Left Coaster in Bush on Propaganda.
Mary makes a good catch at The Left Coaster in Bush on Propaganda.
A lot of bloggers, readers here and commenters at other blogs complain that the Democrats don't speak out enough. I think what is going on is that they are speaking out, every day, and the media is not covering it. Meanwhile the Right gets full-time media coverage of their crap. For example, John Conyers has been posting regularly at Daily Kos. (This and this, just today.) And Senator Reid said this today: Reid Lays Out Reform Agenda,
Time and again, the American people have seen George Bush and the Republican leadership choose between their partisan interests and the people's interest. And every time, they have chosen an ideological agenda over an American agenda.They ARE speaking out. Tell me, do you see any of this covered in the press?
[. . .]Six moths have passed since this Republican Congress began and here's their record:
They spent precious days trying to overturn constitutional principles.
They tried to overturn the decisions of courts and duly elected legislatures in order to insert themselves into one family's tragedy in Florida.
They all-but disbanded the House Ethics Committee in order to protect the Republican leader from scrutiny -- but then were forced to reverse themselves under public pressure.
But perhaps the greatest abuse of power is to have the ability to help but choose to do nothing.
(Through NDN Blog)
If the census bureau's statistics can be trusted, this is just more evidence that the count was off.
The official tabulation on November 2, was 122.3 million voters.
The census bureau predicted post-election that 125.7 million people (thought they) had voted.
Why when we have so much evidence that the count was off and could have been easily manipulated by the corporate computers of Diebold and ES&S, which counted 80% of the vote, including 30% with no paper trail whatsoever, why are not more people questioning the validity of this election?
From a comment in a previous post: Fired Ohio Election Board staffer defiant over "retribution".
Eaton made national news last December during Ohio's election recount when she swore in an affidavit that a Triad voting machine technician replaced the hard drive on Hocking County's central computer and tabulation machine.Go read.
May 26, 2005
Joe Trippi is launching a new organization, Change America, with a mission to "put the spotlight on the corporate and political assault on Americans’ retirement security."
The first and best example is United Airlines and the company's treatment of their employee pension plan. In a conference call today Joe said that Change America wants to "spread the word about the raid on United employee pensions, with alarm about how the cascading effect is going to affect all Americans," because the United pension loss is "just an opening salvo" with many other companies now looking at getting rid of their own pension obligations.
"There are a lot of corporate bad actors in America, but [because of the United pension loss] this is at a critical point. We need to get people to engage, get United to feel the heat, and there will be more points of action soon." "The connectivity of the net is a powerful force to go after bad actors."
I recommend a visit to the new site and be sure to sign the petition on the front page. The site the and organization are going to expand and have more to do. In fact, a donation from you would help this process along.
What Joe is talking about is for real. There are even whispers that corporate managers who provide pensions are "incompetent."
And it isn't just corporate pensions targeted. In California, Governor Schwarzenegger recently called for an initiative to
get rid of "reform" public-employee pensions because they are "too expensive." In support, the Right is talking about the runaway costs of public pensions.
From the California Republican Party,
public employee pensions are bankrupting local governments and voters don't want to pay more than they're already paying. Enough is enough.And some of their motivation can be found here:
This year's fight will be between those who want to reform California's runaway public pension system and those who want to protect organized labor unions.The same kind of rhetoric is showing up in New Jersey, Florida, Illinois and many other states.
[. . .] Reforming public pensions could severely restrict the ability of labor unions to influence policy decisions at CalPERS that directly benefit them.
Visit Change America.
Get rid of manufacturing in the US because the workers vote Democrat? Because the jobs are too secure, and security makes the workers too uppity? Is that wingnut enough for you? Or is it the current thinking in "conservative" circles? Take a look here.
I found this while researching for a piece I'll be posting in a bit.
May 25, 2005
One 200-person Wal-Mart store may result in a cost to federal taxpayers of $420,750 per year – about $2,103 per employee. Specifically, the low wages result in the following additional public costs being passed along to taxpayers PER STORE:NO WONDER their prices are so low -- WE'RE making up the difference through our taxes!! And THEY'RE pocketing the profits!
* $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches.
* $42,000 a year for Section 8 housing assistance.
* $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families.
* $100,000 a year for the additional Title I expenses.
* $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children's health insurance programs.
* $9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.
Go see the website.
Through American Street.
The latest edition of The Acamar Journal contains a revealing (perhaps frightening, even?) analysis of how, quite possibly, basic governmental statistics on growth and inflation have been deliberately over and understated to ensure the flow of foreign capital propping up the U.S. economy doesn't dry up (according to the author, the U.S. consumes 80% of world savings).
The author's analysis is based on, and highlights comments by Dr. Kurt Richebacher, a former Chief Economist at Dresdner Bank--Germany’s third largest bank, and Bill Gross, the Managing Director of PIMCO, the largest bond fund management company in the world.
Items that struck me as particularly interesting are the discussion of how the housing price component of the CPI is calculated (vastly understates increases in the actual cost of owner-occupied housing in today's market) and "hedonic pricing" (the Bureau of Statistics' method of accounting for quality improvements not reflected in price decreases).
Read on for some stunning quotes, or read the entire article at the link above.
In 1983 the Bureau of Labor Statistics abandoned the ‘asset price method’ which measured price changes in owner-occupied housing, replacing it with “owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence”. This is an arbitrary assessment of the rent an owner would pay for occupying his own home, rather than the increase in the value of the home itself! 28.4% of the CPI comes from the actual rent that tenants pay and from ‘assessed’ owner’s rent (owner occupied houses account for 82% of all properties). As national rental vacancy rates have climbed from 7.8% in 2000 to 10.2% in 2004, rental rates are low. Thus, the entire housing sector accounted for only a 2.2% contribution to CPI (even while prices for homes rose at an average of 11% in 2004). [my emphasis, --TL]
Is that a stunner, or what? But it gets better--read on to learn about how "hedonic pricing" (artificial price reductions based on perceived quality improvements) artificially inflates growth in the GDP.
Here's an example of how this works:
Used in the 1980s for computers, when massive gains in computing power were the norm, hedonic adjustments to business spending on computers (less than 1% of nominal GDP then) translated, at times, into accounting for up to 40% of real GDP growth! [my emphasis, --TL] Since 2000, business investment in computers has risen by 9.3%, but with hedonic adjustments, its contribution to GDP growth has been an increase of 113.4%.
... and of course, taking the BLS' methods into account, even if we've all "substituted" plastic lawn furniture for now price prohibitive quality hardwood furniture, and we're reduced to eating "mystery meat steak" instead of grade "AAA" beef (yes, even a vegetarian gets the difference), we're no worse off.
Note: The author's home page only includes links to the first ten editions, but the last twelve, including the one quoted above, are accessible by clicking on the link above, and then substitute 21, 20, 19, etc. for the 22 in the URL displayed. They're all well worth reading, very revealing. The author is a graduate of the London School of Economics and a Canadian Certified General Accountant. That said, in case it isn't obvious, read him critically - a "resource equity" specialist is going to have a more conservative/skeptical perspective than most.
May 24, 2005
The maverick Republican who denied President Bush's U.N. nominee a smooth sail through the GOP-led Senate asked colleagues Tuesday to vote against a "controversial and ineffective ambassador."Defying Bush, House votes to expand stem-cell research
Ignoring a White House veto threat, the House of Representatives voted Tuesday to allow federal research on stem cells taken from human embryos after an emotional debate over the meaning of life and the promise of science.But what it is ... (wait for it) ... is not exactly clear. Republicans defying the far right???????
[. . .] The 238-194 vote was a rare defeat for President Bush in the Republican-controlled House and may lead to the first veto of his presidency. Fifty Republicans voted for expanded stem-cell research, while 14 Democrats opposed the bill.
Just so there is no misunderstanding, everything I have been saying approving last night's compromise on the filibuster does not mean that any Democrats should "compromise" on Social Security. There is nothing that needs "reforming."
Democrats have an alternative plan. It's called Social Security.
From the in-box:
City boy, Kenny, moved to the country and bought a donkey from an old farmer for $100.00. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day.
The next day the farmer drove up and said, "Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died."
Kenny replied, "Well then, just give me my money back."
The farmer said, "Can't do that. I went and spent it already."
Kenny said, "OK then, just unload the donkey."Enron. How soon we all forget. And what about Harken?
The farmer asked, "What ya gonna do with him?"
Kenny, "I'm going to raffle him off."
Farmer, "You can't raffle off a dead donkey!"
Kenny, "Sure I can. Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he is dead."
A month later the farmer met up with Kenny and asked, "What happened
with that dead donkey?"
Kenny, "I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $898.00."
Farmer, "Didn't anyone complain?"
Kenny, "Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back."
Kenny grew up and eventually became the chairman of Enron.
The judges are trees. The filibuster battle was so much bigger than the judges. Don't get so caught up in the minutia that you don't see the bigger picture of what was going on. See the forest. The forest is that the "nuclear option" fight was about The Party solidifying absolute control over the levers of power, and for now they lost that. (Regular readers know that "The Party" is my term for the "conservative movement" that now controls the Republican Party, along with all of its tentacles of propaganda and control: think tanks, Fox News, Limbaugh, etc. I use it the way we used to talk about the Soviet Communist Party.)
The Right had been working toward this for a long time. Rush Limbaugh talked about this on his radio show today:
"This is about what we've all been fighting for since the 1960s, or maybe in some cases the fifties: To get to the point here where we've done what we're supposed to do. We've worked hard and we've won elections, and we've won elections by persuading people to agree with us, and we've campaigned on specific things, and said, "This is what we believe in." We've defined ourselves as conservatives and we've won and we've won big, and now we've won the Senate and the House and the White House -- and now all that's being undermined ... It is maddeningly frustrated, and to put this all in perspective, you know, a lot of people have been interested in this stuff for two years, five years, ten, 15, 20. Others have been toiling away in the basement for 40.This wasn't just about a few judges, this was about something far more important and dangerous. These people are dead serious, and they were grabbing for absolute power. This compromise blocks that power grab - at least for now.
[. . .] Folks, let me make a point. ... I've said it on previous occasions in different ways but I've gotta say this. And one of the reasons, aside from just, you know, the battles in 40, 50 years, and working hard to get where we are and winning elections. There were reasons behind that. There are reasons everybody has been working hard. There are reasons why we've tried to get the power necessary to appoint judges and so forth ... You get to do that and the rights of the minority go by the wayside in those circumstances." [emphasis added]
If you are a Seeing the Forest regular, you know that I think these people are taking this country in a very, very dangerous direction. I mean, what other directions are there after launching aggressive warfare, justified by lies and authorized through trickery, lies and intimidation, against countries that were not threats to us? When facing this kind of threat you do anything to turn back that tide. The way I feel, this was like the vote in Germany in the 30's that gave the Nazis absolute power, except last night we bought some time.
Something I wrote in February keeps coming back to me. It was titled, Inches and Rope to Right-Wingers?
[a commenter] said what I was going to say far better and in many fewer words:More recently I wrote about the Right's attempt to establish a theocracy. Please take a look at They mean it. (There are links in the original.)Ernst Thalmann thought the same thing.Take these people seriously, and fight them at every opportunity. Don't give them an inch. Don't "give them enough rope." I really don't like to think about right-wingers with ropes -- because more likely than not they will hang YOU.
He died in Buchenwald.
Watch your backs.
These people mean it. America is an experiment. Democracy is an experiment. American democracy has not been around very long, and we have never been so perilously close to losing it. All the checks and balances have been removed by allies of these people. They mean it. The leader of the Senate is saying that Democrats hate "people of faith." They mean it. Time magazine puts on their cover a person who calls for murdering us. They mean it. A Supreme Court Justice declares that rulers should be chosen by God, not the people. They mean it. The Vice President is the keynote speaker at a conference where other speakers called for "a new McCarthyism" to bring "terror" to intellectuals, saying "let's oppress them [liberals]," and that "the entire Harvard faculty" are "traitors." They mean it. They mean it.Indeed.
Watch your backs. I mean it.
Just go read everything here. Terrifying.
That's a headline at the Washington Times.
Seven Senate Republicans bolted from their leaders last night and dropped their support for the "nuclear option" in exchange for seven Democrats' abandoning filibusters against three of President Bush's judicial nominees.The right is playing this as a significant defeat. And this isn't the usual victimization whining, this is an announcement to the base, "We lost."
"This is really good news for every American tonight," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said moments after the deal was announced last night on live television. "This is a significant victory."
AND this agreement is aimed directly at Bush and Rove, saying these Senators are tired of being told to act as an extension of Bush's executive branch:
The two-page agreement specifically admonished President Bush, saying that the word "advice" in the Senate's constitutional responsibility should not be taken lightly.Note the use of the words, "prior to."
"We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration," the senators wrote in the memorandum of understanding signed by the 14 negotiators.
Here is something very important about this. These Republican Senators have "burned" themselves with the far-right base of The Party. There is no going back for them. The Right does not forgive. Can you imagine the abusive phone calls and mail they will be getting from the wingnuts from now on? (Will it be as bad as liberal bloggers get?) Will they still feel obligated to vote for those judges that were sent to the floor by this deal? Will they still feel compelled to support other elements of the far-right's agenda?
A couple weeks ago:
Wife, "They keep adding more work that I have to do."
Me, "Are you getting a raise, too?"
Roommate, "It sounds like my workload is going to get a lot heavier."
ME, "Are they gonna pay you more?"
May 23, 2005
It looks to me like the Democrats agreed to kill the filibuster to save the filibuster.
Am I missing something? Didn't the Democrats agree not to filibuster to preserve their right to filibuster? Going in all Bush wanted was a judge as radical as Scalia or Thomas. Now Bush can nominate a judge as radical as Owens or Brown and the Democrats have already agreed not to filibuster them.
If Bush nominates two or three judges as radical as Owens or Brown, won't that make Scalia and Thomas the new centrist middle of the Supreme Court?
Statement of Democratic Leader Harry Reid There is good news for every American in this agreement. The so-called ³nuclear option² is off the table. This is a significant victory for our country, for democracy, and for all Americans. Checks and balances in our government have been preserved.Look, I know you might think "we" didn't get enough from this, but it is a huge loss for the Religious Right. HUGE. And it means you and me can worry a bit less about the Right forcing us to pray (their way) and things like that.
The integrity of future Supreme Courts has been protected from the undueinfluences of a vocal, radical faction of the right that is completely out of step with mainstream America. That was the intent of the Republican ³nuclear option² from the beginning. Tonight, the Senate has worked its will on behalf of reason, responsibility and the greater good.
We have sent President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the radical arm of the Republican base an undeniable message: Abuse of power will not be tolerated, and attempts to trample the Constitution and grab absolute control are over. We are a separate and equal branch of government. That is our founding fathers¹ vision, and one we hold dear.
I offered Senator Frist several options similar to this compromise, and while he was not able to agree, I am pleased that some responsible Republicans and my colleagues were able to put aside there differences and work from the center. I do not support several of the judges that have been agreed to because their views and records display judicial activism that jeopardize individual rights and freedoms. But other troublesome nominees have been turned down. And, most importantly, the U.S. Senate retains the checks and balances to ensure all voices are heard in our democracy and the
Supreme Court make-up cannot be decided by a simple majority.
I am grateful to my colleagues who brokered this deal. Now, we can move beyond this time-consuming process that has deteriorated the comity of this great institution. I am hopeful that we can quickly turn to work on the people¹s business. We need to ensure our troops have the resources they need to fight in Iraq and that Americans are free from terrorism. We need to protect retiree¹s pensions and long-term security. We need to expand health care opportunities for all families. We need to address rising gasoline prices and energy independence. And we need to restore fiscal responsibility and rebuild our economy so that it lifts all American workers. That is our reform agenda, the people¹s reform agenda. Together, we can get the job done.
The country just dodged a bullet.
Update - Crooks and Liars documents how unhappy the Right is about this.
Update II - My feeling is that this presents an opportunity to parade Judge Owen's record in front of a public that will nowbe paying more attention. Her record makes the Repubicans look really, really bad. I'm still on my way home from a late business meeting and will try to post more on this tomorrow. Until then, see TalkLeft, Body and Soul and a Kos post for some of her record.
Update III - Home at last (10:30pm...) Scanning comments earlier and now, and listening to the radio talk shows while I drove, I think there is something that people are missing. I think the Republican "nuclear option" is gone now -- off the table. After this it doesn't have the credibility to re-enter the picture and they can't try this again. What would be the point, knowing there are enough senators willing to find a way not to do it? It was a months-long buildup and in the end it failed. For the far-right it was never about these judges. It was about getting rid of the last check and balance in our system so they could get even more of their judges and Supreme Court nominees in place, and then getting rid of the filibuster altogeher (find me an argument they used here that doesn't apply to the filibuster generally), and they failed. Any individual Senator can still filibuster any judicial nomination.
Steve Soto says The Center Finally Held,
"Not only did they [Senate moderates] emerge, but the elder statesmen from both parties (Warner and Byrd) stepped in and took the car keys away from Frist and to a degree, from Cheney.
[. . .] The moderate center finally got tired tonight of what they were being force-fed from the White House and the American Taliban, and took back control.
[. . .] the vast majority of the public only really cares about judges when a Supreme Court nomination is pending that will change the ideological balance on the court. Reid preserved the beachhead on that tonight."
SENATOR REID TO ADDRESS THE NATION ON EVE OF HISTORIC VOTE
Reid to Discuss Importance of Checks and Balances
WASHINGTON, DC -- On the eve of the historic vote in the United States Senate, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid will address the nation about the importance of the critical check in our democracy's system of checks and balances – a Senator's right to filibuster.
The majority of Americans agree that our Constitutional checks and balances must be preserved, and the independence of our judiciary must be protected. Senators Democrats have worked hard to reach out to their Republican colleagues and to look for compromise to protect the Senate from this abuse of power. With a little more than 24 hours until the historic vote, Senator Reid will discuss the real consequences of this historic vote to the strength of this country and to the daily lives of all Americans. The Alliance for Justice is sponsoring this important address to the nation.
WHO: Democratic Leader Harry Reid
WHAT: Address to the Nation, 90-Seconds
WHEN: Monday May 23, 2005
WHERE: WRC 7:58 P.M. EST
WJLA 7:57 P.M. EST
WTTG 7:57 P.M. EST
CNN 8:00 P.M. EST
CNNHN 8:00 P.M. EST
FoxNews 7:50-7:55 P.M. EST
Controversial article in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday, Leaving the left / I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity.
But look at the links on the guy's blog. Federalist Society, Claremont Institute, National Review, Pacific Legal Foundation, Powerline. Far, far right stuff. This guy is a hard-core "movement conservative." I think the Chronicle got taken for a ride.
Update Someone else noticed...
May 22, 2005
wherever Crooks and Liars is based. They seem to have lots of stuff up today. It sure ain't raining here in the SF Bay Area, so I'm OUTside -- not much coming out of here.
This is San Francisco from Mount Tamalpias yesterday (click for larger):
Update - Different large pic.
The STF Rule, when they accuse, it usually means...
May 21, 2005
May 17, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BREACHES OF CIVIL CONTRACTS SHOULD BE FEDERAL CRIMES, PROSECUTOR ARGUES
Judge calls proposal "Pandora's Box"; defense calls for dismissal
Today in Buffalo, Judge Kenneth Schroeder heard motions to dismiss a
federal criminal case against artist Steven Kurtz. Professor Kurtz was
charged with mail and wire fraud last summer after prosecutors found
nothing to support their original allegations of bioterrorism. (Please
see http://www.caedefensefund.org/faq.html for an overview of the case.)
In today's hearing, defense attorney Paul Cambria argued that a
dangerous precedent would be set by "exalting" into a federal criminal
case of wire and mail fraud what is at best a minor, civil contract
issue--the purchase of the bacterium Serratia marcescens by scientist
Robert Ferrell for use by Kurtz in his artwork.
Judge Schroeder seemed to agree, asking Federal Assistant District
Attorney William Hochul whether an underaged youth who uses the
internet to purchase alcohol across state lines, for example, should be
subject to federal wire fraud charges. "Yes," Hochul answered after
some hedging, and Schroeder chuckled. "Wow, that really opens up a
Pandora's Box, wouldn't you say?" he asked Hochul.
Schroeder also asked Hochul whether there is any federal regulation at
all (OSHA, EPA, or other) concerning Serratia. Hochul admitted there
wasn't. (The alleged danger of Serratia forms the basis of the
government's argument for making this a criminal case, rather than
simply allowing the bacterium's provider to pursue civil remedies if it
feels it was wronged.)
Cambria further argued that the FBI intentionally misled a judge into
issuing the original search warrant. That judge was never told of
Kurtz's lengthy, credible and complete explanation of what the seized
bacterial substances were being used for, nor of the fact that Kurtz
tasted Serratia in front of an officer to prove it was harmless. Also,
the judge was told of Kurtz's possession of a photograph of an exploded
car with Arabic writing beside it, but not of the photograph's context:
an invitation to an important museum art show. The photograph, by
artists the Atlas Group, was one of several exhibited pieces pictured
on the invitation.
Because of the photo, the judge issued a warrant calling for the
seizure of anything with Arabic writing. "Would that have included the
Koran?" Judge Schroeder asked Hochul at today's hearing. "Nothing in
Arabic was in fact seized," Hochul replied. Schroeder repeated the
question, and Hochul admitted that the Koran would have been seized,
"if the officers hadn't recognized what it was."
Today's apparent courtroom victory for Cambria does not mean that Judge
Schroeder will grant any of the defense motions. And if he does, it is
certain that the prosecution will appeal the decision--"all the way to
the Supreme Court if they can," according to Cambria.
Whatever the outcome of today's hearing, it will not come quickly:
rulings in such hearings typically take two or three months. The
defense has so far cost $60,000 for Kurtz alone; as for the taxpayer
bill, it is well into the millions.
For more information on the case, or to make a donation to the CAE
Defense Fund, please visit http://www.caedefensefund.org/
May 20, 2005
I just want to tell my readers that I think THE DAOU REPORT does a great job of seeking out and condensing what is happening on any given day in the left and right blogosphere. It's a great site to check daily.
The STF Rule: when right-wingers accuse others, it usually means they are doing it themselves. Here we have a right-wing blog accusing "liberals" of not "supporting the troops." And the evidence? One comment at Democratic Underground, something from Scaife's NewsMax, and media reporting on torture and humiliation of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, or otherwise criticizing Bush's policies and conduct of the war.
Well, no, the "liberal" position is that supporting the troops means not prosecuting only those at the bottom for doing what they are told or encouraged or at the very least were not stopped from doing. The "liberal" position is holding the chain of command and the policies from the top responsible as well. AND the liberal position demands that Bush change his offensive policies of torture and humiliation and "rendition" that are enraging the entire Muslim and non-Muslim world! Criticizing Bush's policies and conduct of the war is not criticism of "the troops." By ignoring the responsibility of the chain of command this right-wing blog - and the right-wing line it follows - lays all responsibility for what is going on squarely on the troops. In other words, the right-wing blog - and conservatives generally - are blaming the troops.
(And, if you want to feel really bad about where Bush has taken the country and the military, read the comments.)
And this at Hullabaloo.
May 19, 2005
On the same day that the FBI warned a Congressional committee about the danger of "domestic terrorism," the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Wednesday accused the FBI of using terrorism as a pretext to spy on activists who "oppose the war in Iraq, the USA Patriot Act, and other government policies."(Through Drudge Retort)
[. . .] Meanwhile, the ACLUissued a statement that said "the FBI and local police are engaging in intimidation based on political association and are improperly investigating law-abiding human rights and advocacy groups." The statement was based on information gathered from numerous Freedom of Information Act requests. The ACLU said it was filing a lawsuit in federal court to force the FBI to turn over "thousands of pages" of extra information that had been withheld.
A Senator said that today. So, do you think this is serious YET?
Digby found something that makes me say "of course."
Preface: what's the STF Rule? When The Party is accusing you should look to see if it's what they're doing. And they're accusing Newsweek of causing riots. Well guess what? The Washington Times recently printed a cartoon showing a US soldier patting a dog on the head, and on the dog was written "Pakistan." Which is what caused the riots. Oh, go read at Hullabaloo.
But that's not all. What ELSE has the Right been accusing others of?
And, of course, guess what. Tongsun Park. Are you old enough to remember that name? Brought to you by the Moonies. Yes, the Washington Times, major right-wing funding, vowed-to-destroy-Christianity Moonies...
MoveOn has a great new ad and needs money to get it on the air. They're also asking for people to hand out flyers at movie theaters this weekend.
I can't stress how important this fight over the filibuster is, so anything you do helps! Click to see the ad and donate: MoveOn PAC: Save the Republic
Remember when MoveOn had a contest to make an ad, and some guy made one comparing Bush's actions to Hitler's? Remember the firestorm? You couldn't turn on the TV or read a newspaper or listen to the radio without hearing about how TERRIBLE MoveOn is. (Even though it was just some guy...)
Well I'm going to really surprise you. It's OK if you are a Republican (IOKIYAR). Go read GOP senator compares Democrats to Hitler,
...AND THE AUDACITY OF SOME MEMBERS TO STAND UP AND SAY, HOW DARE YOU BREAK THIS RULE. IT'S THE EQUIVALENT OF ADOLF HITLER IN 1942 "I'M IN PARIS. HOW DARE YOU INVADE ME. HOW DARE YOU BOMB MY CITY? IT'S MINE." THIS IS NO MORE THE RULE OF THE SENATE THAN IT WAS THE RULE OF THE SENATE BEFORE NOT TO FILIBUSTER. IT WAS AN UNDERSTANDING AND AGREEMENT, AND IT HAS BEEN ABUSED. IN A SENSE, WHAT WE SEE HERE ON THE FLOOR OF THE UNITED STATES.Start calling radio stations, newspapers... Jeeze, I don't know what to start doing. Do something.
Update - Also on this: ArchPundit, Swing State Project, The Agonist, Supreme Irony, Blogenlust, Talking Points Memo, Oliver Willis, Balloon Juice, Tapped, MyDD, Carpetbagger Report, Crooks and Liars, Think Progress, Dave Sirota and here, Spin Dry, Rooftop Report, DC Media Girl (gives Santorum's office number, asks readers to call), Daily Kos, TalkLeft, 2 political junkies, Left in the West (and here, noting the silence from the Righties who condemned MoveOn), Random Ravings, Damn Liberals, Laughing at the Pieces, Political Strategy, Yudel Line, Charging Rino, Stakeholder, Political Dogfight, BOPNews, Steve Gilliard (a must-read).
So that has what the United States has become. We have become a banana Republic. We are packing the courts and letting the courts pick Presidents and letting the legislature bend over backwards to suit the Presidency instead of acting as a separate representative body of government. We are producing an executive that holds secret military tribunals in extraterritorial areas to evade judicial oversight and violating legislatively ratified international treaties. We have a legislature that has proven itself incapable of restraining the executive's ability to make war, not once now but consistently over a period of many years. That we can manage to do so and manage to go against the popular will at the same time is a deep sign of the corruption and decay of the Republic.But the question is, how do we explain this to mainstream Americans in ways they will understand and care?
What does this mean to regular people's daily lives? If it means we're going to invade more countries to take their oil, or that we're going to borrow ever more money to make the economy appear prosperous, or even persecute more minorities, I fear that the ones getting the oil and appearing to be prosperous, and doing the persecuting aren't really going to care that much, and might even enjoy it. As long as they don't think it harms them.
So, comments please. How will the end of democracy and representative government -- and that is exactly what is happening here, make no mistake about it, these people believe that democracy is an affront to rule by God's wishes -- be bad for the majority of Americans? How does it harm their interests in ways they can feel?
Update - After posting that I was driving to the office (that pesky day job thing) and a woman calls into Rush, and is CRYING about how "unfair" it is that the Democrats are obstructing this poor woman from becoming a judge! Yesterday, on the Senate floor, Senator Hutchinson was CRYING about how "unfair" it is that the Democrats are obstructing this poor woman from becoming a judge.
In other words, the Right has tested "unfair," and they know it makes an emotional connection with their target demographic. They aren't arguing details and facts and technicalities, they are making an emotional connection with the people they are targeting. Let me repeat that. They aren't arguing details and facts and technicalities, they are making an emotional connection with the people they are targeting.
They are making their audience care about this.
How do we phrase all of this in ways that connect with those parts of the public we need to reach? Comments, please.
Just a blog observation. The other day, in the post US Finances Emulate Argentina's, Hale Stewart wrote,
God how I wish it economics was sexy. Then, politicians from both parties would have the courage to actually deal with the budget problems.Today, in The Shape of the Bush Boom, Stirling Newberry takes up the challenge, writing,
He does not have very much room right now, the graphic is the "yield curve" of treasury bonds. Looking a the yield curve is like being a pimp: it is all about getting more spread. The "spread" in bond terms is the difference between the interest rate paid, or the "yield", on two different kinds of bonds. Thus if a commentator says that there is a high "spread" between treasuries and corporate bonds, it means that corporate bonds are paying more than treasuries, and that this difference is higher than it is usually. The "spread" on the yield curve is the difference between the short durations "Treasury Bills", which run 13 weeks, and the "long bond" at the top of the yield curve.My wife says I need to get out (of the computer) more. That I noticed that suggests she is right. That I blogged about it...? Maybe wwwaaaayyyyy too late.
How many of you know about how the Rwanda killings were triggered?
Environmental and animal-rights activists who have turned to arson and explosives are the nation's top domestic terrorism threat, an FBI official told a Senate committee on Wednesday.Not the Oklahoma City bombers, white supremecists, murderers of abortion doctors and bombers of clinics, KKK violence against blacks and Jews. Nope, the top domestic terror threat is environmentalists.
Also in the news today, Plan Would Broaden F.B.I.'s Terror Role,
The Bush administration and Senate Republican leaders are pushing a plan that would significantly expand the F.B.I.'s power to demand business records in terror investigations without obtaining approval from a judge, officials said on Wednesday.Inch by inch, accelerating.
[. . .] The proposal, part of a broader plan to extend antiterrorism powers under the law known as the USA Patriot Act, was concluded in recent days by Republican leaders on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in consultation with the Bush administration, Congressional officials said.
May 18, 2005
[I don't normally do this (repost emailed notices), but Bill Moyers is someone whom I admire and respect tremendously. This is an important speech and an important call to action. -Thomas]
Dear Media Reformer:
In an historic speech on Sunday, legendary television journalist Bill
Moyers blasted Kenneth Tomlinson of the Corporation of Public
Broadcasting (CPB) for launching a partisan witch hunt at PBS and
called for a series of town hall meetings across the country.
"I simply never imagined that any CPB chairman, Democrat or
Republican, would cross the line from resisting White House pressure
to carrying it out for the White House," Moyers told a packed room at
the National Conference for Media Reform. "And that's what Kenneth
Tomlinson has been doing."
You can now watch or listen to Moyers' entire speech on the Free
Press Web site:
An audio recording can be downloaded at: www.freepress.net/conference/audio05/moyers.mp3
Or you can watch the video at:
Transcript online at www.freepress.net/conference.
In his first public statement since the controversy at PBS emerged,
Moyers endorsed a call by media reform groups for a series of town
hall meetings nationwide so that Americans can speak directly to
station managers and policymakers about what they want and expect
from public broadcasting.
More than 50,000 Americans have already signed the Free Press
petition calling on Kenneth Tomlinson to resign and demanding that
the public be put back into PBS.
Please add your name to the petition by clicking
"That great mob that is democracy is rarely heard, and that's not
just the fault of the current residents of the White House and
Capitol," Moyers said. "There is a great chasm between those of us in
the business and those who depend on TV and radio as their window to
the world. We treat them too much like audiences and not enough like
citizens. They are invited to look through the window, but too
infrequently to participate and make public broadcasting public."
Please support Bill Moyers, public broadcasting, quality journalism
and democracy by signing the petition and passing along this message
to everyone you know.
Robert W. McChesney
P.S. The conference was a rousing success. Visit
www.freepress.net/conference for audio and video recordings of the sessions, new
episodes of "Media Minutes" and news reports. New content is being
In the May 23rd issue of Newsweek, Mark Whitaker has an editorial wherein he explains, in great detail, the basis upon which the magazine made its original report regarding desecration of the Qur'an at Gitmo. The magazine also devotes a feature length article to a detailed account of what "went wrong".
Here's an excerpt from the article, explaining what happened:
"On Saturday, Isikoff spoke to his original source, the senior government official, who said that he clearly recalled reading investigative reports about mishandling the Qur'an, including a toilet incident [emphasis mine]. But the official, still speaking anonymously, could no longer be sure that these concerns had surfaced in the SouthCom report."
The editorial states that Newsweek ran the article past two other Defense Department officials, one of which declined to comment, the other of which did not challenge the specific allegation in question.
This is "aggressive" reporting - the magazine took a risk (limited number of sources, limited amount of background investigation) and got burned when their source failed to completely back up his or her original statement. The original report was made, based on the facts as they were known at the time - "facts" that turned out to be not so "factual", at a later point. The original decision to publish was probably less than wise, given the nature of the allegations and the current political environment, but not terribly unusual or irresponsible.
To be sure, there is a substantial difference, from a REPORTING perspective, between an anonymous government official saying they've seen unspecified reports documenting a problem, and the same official saying that he or she has seen the problem reported on in a specific document... these are two different stories; the former would be reported in a completely different fashion, with significant disclaimers as to the credibility of the report in question, than the latter (in fact, it might not even be reported at all, without a specific document to attach the allegation to).
But from our perspective as citizens in a democracy (and that of followers of Islam), the specific report in which this information is embedded matters little - much more important is the fact that reports are circulating within our government which state that the problem (desecration of the Qur'an by government personell) is real. Newsweek, and the anonymous official in question, have not retracted the claim that such reports exist.
There is a value in "aggressive" reporting like this, reporting that takes risks - often, it is the only way to get important information into the hands of the public that would otherwise never be heard.
Here's a personal story for you, illustrating just that point, out of the days of my youth (this was about 1989, give or take a year):
I was taking the bus home from an event, and never having taken the route in question before, wound up getting off quite a bit sooner than I should have. Miles and miles away from home, in fact. So there I am, standing at a bus stop in West Los Angeles in the late afternoon, when this guy in a sports car pulls up to me and says, "Hey! Do you need a ride?"
Being young, male, and naive, I said, "Sure." The guy in question started talking my ear off as soon as I got in the car... said he'd just closed a major deal, and had been celebrating with a couple of Long Island Iced Teas (it took me quite a while to realize that said drinks were alcoholic, and that the guy was drunk).
Somehow or other, the discussion turned to his experience as a Green Beret, piloting helicopters in Honduras. First he told me about the refugee camps in Honduras (whether the people in them came from Guatemala or Nicaragua, I'm not sure), about how they would crowd up against the fence whenever he and his buddies came near, and about how they felt sorry for the folks, so they'd toss them rations and other food items from their vehicles... which often resulted in fights as desperate individuals scrambled for the items in question. I was naive, so it surprised me that the U.S. was somehow overseeing refugee camps in Honduras.
Then he dropped a bomb on me, something that totally outraged me and blew my mind, something that clearly troubled this guy as well:
He'd spent most of his tour of duty flying helicopters in and out of El Salvador... carrying sealed orders that could not be opened until they were ten minutes over the border... sealed orders that directed the Green Berets he dropped off, inside El Salvador, to assassinate public officials in small villiages and towns that were thought to be sympathetic to the FSLN.
I was stunned, to say the least. This blew away anything else I'd ever heard about our activities in Central America, and I was familiar enough with the issues in question to realize that any such missions were highly highly illegal. If true, this was page one, top of the fold news. After I figured out the guy was drunk, I talked him into dropping me off at a convenience store somewhat closer to home, and wound up catching a bus the rest of the way.
The next day, I picked up the phone and called the Los Angeles Times, asking to be connected to whoever was responsible for covering events in Central America. The reporter I spoke to, and I remember his words almost exactly, said, "We've heard allegations of this sort from far more credible sources than a drunken Green Beret. But no one is willing to go on the record, so we can't publish them."
This blew my mind even further... they knew, already, but hadn't published anything... what other stories were circulating among those in the know, I wondered (and still wonder), that we knew nothing about, and would never see the light of day, simply because they didn't rise to the standard of journalism required by a major newspaper (or other media organization)?
Is the story my drunken Green Beret told me true? Seems likely (at least to me, based on what I heard). Will the public ever know for sure? Probably not.
Where do we draw the line, as a democracy, between "aggressive" and "irresponsible" reporting? How far back is the line being redrawn in the minds of reporters and editors as a result of the condemnation heaped upon CBS and Newsweek? What stories are we not going to hear about as a result?
Back to the story at hand, which raises the following questions in my mind:
a) did someone in the administration get to the source in question?
b) what DOES the SouthCom report actually say... has anyone in the media (or Congress) seen a draft (one composed and printed prior to these events)?
c) what OTHER reports might the individual in question have seen that raise these concerns? are we ever going to see them (in whatever form they existed prior to the controversy)?
in the entire history of the United States, has a president ever publicly uttered a moral equivalency more abhorrent than what Bush did in his Latvia speech?I had the same question.
As I wrote earlier, this is an extremely important week in our country's history. Senate Minority Leader Reid reached out to moderate Republicans today. Read his words at Daily Kos :: Reid on the Courage Good Republicans Must Find.
I just got off a blogger conference call with Senator Schumer of New York, talking about the "nuclear option" in which the Republicans are trying to remove the right of the Senate Minority party to filibsuster. I want to write at length about this later, but right now I have a pesky "day job" situation that I should be attending to so I'll be brief.
First, from my notes, Sen. Schumer says that we are on the "eve of a precipice – one of the major Constitutional crisis of last 100 years." He says that in return for the far right keeping the public pressure down - they were publicly critical of Dole and Bush's father, for example, which harmed them in their runs for the Presidency - Bush would hand judicial appointments over to the Right. He says that "Bush has turned over mechanism of picking judges to the federalist society."
In response to a potential loss on the "nuclear option" Democrats are "not going to slow down the Senate, nor bring it to a grinding halt. They will use every senate rule they can to wrest the agenda from the majority. In the past it is comity that ..." and here he was called to the Senate floor, but he was going to say that as part of the traditional comity of the Senate the Minority party allows the Majority to set the Senate's agenda, and that will cease and the Democrats will start introducing their own agenda items, such as raising the Minimum Wage, and force the Republicans to a public vote on such bills as the Democrats have written them. What this means is that any talk you hear from The Party (my term for the Republican Party and all of its tentacles of propaganda and control: think tanks, Fox News, Limbaugh, etc.) about "obstruction" is just another lie. (Yes, Virginia, they lie.)
My quote of the day came when I asked if the Republicans lose, what will they try next in their unceasing drive to achieve absolute power? "Who would ever have thought that the Vice President could rule from the chair – it's like a banana republic." I don't have the exact quote for what he said next but he went on to say the Republicans appear to think they can just say the Constitution means this or that and there's nothing we can do about it…
So, here we are. This could well be a week that is talked about in history classes for 100 years or more. If it turns out that the Republicans are able to seize the last check and balance that is in place there will be nothing to stop them from implementing their entire agenda. And I think the key to helping the public understand the consequences of this is our own understanding and talking about what this means to people's lives rather than talking about it in technical terms of things they will implement, or issues, or "taking us back 100 years." I think we need to talk about the Right's agenda in terms of pensions disappearing, and birth control being made illegal again, and companies like AOL being able to charge your credit card long after you tried to cancel their service... and your dying mother being forced to live on a breathing machine no matter what she wanted.
More later. Watch your backs.
Update - Other bloggers writing about the call. I'll update this:
TalkLeft: Conference Call With Sen. Schumer
Swing State Project: Nuclear Option
Daily Kos: Schumer Talk Before His Floor Speech
BOPNews: Negotiating the Nuclear Option
May 17, 2005
A few days ago somewhere between 169 (the official figure) and 700+ demonstrators were killed in Uzbekistan. The Uzbek government claims that everyone killed was a terrorist, and that the media are biased, but eyewitness reports do not support these claims. The Uzbek dictator, Islam Karimov, has a history of atrocities (boiling dissidents in oil, etc.) and can hardly be regarded as credible.
Uzbekistan is a key American military ally. Here is President Bush's first response (via his Press Secretary, Scott McClellan):
"We have had concerns about human rights in Uzbekistan, but we are concerned about the outbreak of violence, particularly by some members of a terrorist organization that were freed from prison. And we urge both the government and the demonstrators to exercise restraint at this time. The people of Uzbekistan want to see a more representative and democratic government, but that should come through peaceful means, not through violence. And that's what our message is."
In other words, the people getting killed were the ones causing the problem. Most reports say that many of them were women and children.
At this point we can't be sure what the whole story is, but it doesn't look good for Karimov (though that doesn't necessarily mean that there will be any real consequences for him). As we watch the story develop, let's also watch American reactions and use the story as a litmus test.
We can expect the Republican hacks of the "Powerline" type to blame the press, minimize the killings, and wait for the story to go away. Most of them are probably too smart to give real support to Karimov, but everything they do will be Bush damage-control. This pretty much destroys their plausibility as advocates for Middle Eastern democracy -- but if you've switched rationales four times already, one more switch isn't going to bother you much.
The other people to watch are the tweeners -- moderate Republicans, "rational conservatives", "independents", and apoliticals. It would seem that the Uzbek story might work as a wakeup call for them. But at this point, I've been waiting for the tweeners to wake up for God knows how long, and by now I really doubt that they ever will.
Our once-great nation has apparently been jellified, and I suspect that Bush and Karimov will end up getting a free ride, and that at the end of the story McClellan's answer above will still be operative.
(5-18: Slightly edited and rewritten. And I've been informed that Karimov boils dissidents in water, not oil. Wait till Powerline hears about that boo-boo. Probably it's killing American GI's already.)
Disputed casualty figures
I checked Rush Limbaugh's radio show today to see what The Party is putting out there. Rush says that the entire story about interrogators flushing Korans down toilets was an intentional lie. He says Newsweek "didn't make a mistake," but that it was "attempt to undermine the effort" that Bush is making in the Middle East. From this morning's show, "When's the last time you saw the media in support of the war on terror or the war in Iraq, Dottie?"
He says Newsweek put this story out there because they (and by extension liberals and Democrats) are on the side of terrorists against America, and that all of the press just lies and should never be listened to. "You're under the false impression the media's is on our side. [. . .] you go back to World War II, and you'll find -- even Cronkite ... they were all pro-America in World War II, on our side. You have to go back to World War II to find it, but things changed with Vietnam." He went on to say,
"They have an adversarial relationship with America when a Republican president is conducting a war, and whether they know it or not they end up siding with the bad guys."
"It's a different world after 9/11. Since then, Newsweek and TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, New York Times, Washington Post, had not said as you just did that Bush was duped, they said Bush lied. John Kerry said Bush lied. Michael Moore said Bush lied. They all say Bush is no good, Rumsfeld lied, he's no good, Rice lied, she's no good, Richard Clarke was saying they're incompetent, they're no good, they lied. The left was saying Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction, Bush knew there weren't any. He lied. And all these people dead, all these people injured, it was not necessary. Now here comes Newsweek.And Rush accuses Newsweek of trying to rile people up?
[. . .] The attempt to destroy the man, George W. Bush, and members of his administration, from John Ashcroft to Alberto Gonzales to the judges. I mean, to these people nobody is any good, nobody is any good, they all suck, they're all rotten people, Christians, real threat to America, bammo, here comes Newsweek. ... They are admitting they hire reporters that make up quotes, make up sources, basically lie, write bogus stories. ... But George Bush is saving American lives, promoting democracy and freedom in parts of the world that have never seen it before. Newsweek is trying to rile up the people who don't wish that to happen. I mean, I don't see what's so hard to understand here."
So... when can we expect the leaders of The Party to condemn these remarks?
Rush's example is pretty much the way this whole thing is being portrayed at most right-wing news outlets and blogs, which means this is pretty much how most of America is hearing the story. They either state or imply Newsweek admitted that no one ever put a Koran in a toilet, which proves that reports of torture, etc. are all part of a media plot to harm the American government.
A media watchdog group . . . compared Newsweek's journalistic integrity to that of CBS News during the National Guard controversy.here,
Kincaid said Newsweek's correction will never catch up with the original false report and that countless Americans may die as a result.here,
Like Dan Rather and CBS News, Newsweek put politics and craving a scoop ahead of truth, not to mention ahead of America's security.here,
"The charge here is that an erroneous report led to death. If that's what actually happened and can be causally established, then there is no more serious charge you can make against a news organization, and no more bizarre explanation from one," media analyst and "FOX News Watch" host Eric Burns said.here,
Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee, said Monday that "Newsweek's behavior is not merely unfortunate, it is criminal."
In its Koran story, Newsweek itself bought into shady assumptions, partly because of the media's dire view of the U.S. military.here,
Disturbingly often what you find instead is liberal-tilting American reporters covering American war efforts with the same critical "detachment" Al Jazeera might bring to the task.here,
Anybody with a little knowledge could have told them it was likely that people would die as a result of the article.here,
This is not irresponsible reporting. This is manslaughter.here,
The mainstream media is ideologically liberal and instinctually hostile to George W. Bush, U.S. foreign policy, and the American military.And this is just barely getting started. There is so much like this out there...
Meanwhile Columbia Journalism Review' CJR Daily writes,
What exactly has the magazine retracted? Most reporters, particularly on television, are reporting that Newsweek has retracted the allegation that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay. But that's wrong: The magazine has said only that it no longer stands by its claim that allegations of Koran desecration appear in a forthcoming report from U.S. Southern Command. That's a very different point. There have been numerous other reports -- mostly from detainees -- suggesting that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo did abuse the Koran.
I want to repeat this so everyone sees it. Angry Bear: 1,346 Days. Thursday is an important day.
This coming Thursday, May 19, 2005, will be the 1,346th day since the attacks of 9/11. That is the same length of time from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the end of WWII on V-J Day. (Dec 7, 1941 to Aug 24, 1945)Think about that. Let it sink in. The same length of time as the entire US involvement in the Second World War.
Also visit and support BuzzFlash, AlterNet, Common Dreams, Cursor, Raw Story, Drudge Retort (read the name carefully before you complain), Information Clearing House, Smirking Chimp, TruthOut, and What REALLY Happened.
And you can lisen to Air America Radio online.
Who'd I miss?
Update - Working for Change.
Remarks by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Republican abuse of power:
"The Majority Leader has stated that the Senate will turn to the subject of judicial nominations this week. Democrats are ready for this fight. We stand united against an outrageous abuse of power that would pack the courts with out-of-the-mainstream judges.
The time has come for Republican Senators to decide where they stand. Will they will abide by the rules of the Senate, or break those rules for the first time in 217 years of American history? Will they support the checks and balances established by the founding fathers, or vote to give the president unaccountable power to pick lifetime judges? While Democrats are ready to debate this issue, I am deeply pained that we need to do so. The Senate in which I have spent the last 20 years of my life is a body in which the rules are sacrosanct. We may choose to amend the rules by two-thirds vote. We may enter into unanimous consent to waive the rules. But never before in the history of the Senate has a partisan majority sought to break the rules in order to achieve momentary political advantage. If this happens, it will be a short term win for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, but a long term loss for the Senate and for the American people. In an effort to avoid this confrontation and preserve constitutional checks and balances, I have made every effort to be reasonable. Last Monday I offered to have an up-down vote on Thomas Griffith, a controversial nominee to the D.C. Circuit. Last Thursday I offered to have an up-down vote on three nominees to the 6th Circuit, two of whom were filibustered last year. These are not judges Democrats would choose. But we know the difference between opposing bad nominees and blocking unacceptable ones. In making these good faith offers, I asked the majority: Do you want to confirm judges or do you want to provoke a fight? Regrettably, my proposals were rejected. Separate from these offers, I wrote to the Majority Leader last week and suggested two ways to end the impasse: n First, I made clear that my previous offer to allow an up-down vote on one of the four most controversial nominees remains on the table.
n Second, I suggested that we consider changing the rules in accordance with the rules – if the Majority Leader were to put his proposal in the form of a Senate resolution and allow it to be referred to the Rules Committee, Democrats would take his proposal seriously and expedite its consideration.
Neither of these good faith suggestions has been accepted, and it’s clear why. Republicans in the Senate demand to have it all. A 95% confirmation rate isn’t good enough. Votes on some of the most controversial nominees isn’t good enough. They are prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve total victory.
Meanwhile, the White House appears to be pulling the strings.
Several weeks ago the President assured me that he would play no role in this debate. Shortly after that, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove was quoted as discouraging any middle ground. Then Vice President Cheney gave a speech in which he encouraged the nuclear option. On Friday the Washington Times said that White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan “flatly rejected any talk of a compromise that would confirm only some of the president’s seven blocked nominees.”
It’s disturbing that the White House is playing an aggressive role to discourage compromise. Every high school student in America learns about checks and balances. The Senate’s Advice and Consent role is one of the most important checks on executive power. The White House should not be lobbying to change Senate rules in a way that would hand dangerous new powers to the President over two separate branches – the Congress and the Judiciary.
Of course the President would like the power to name anyone he wants to lifetime seats on the Supreme Court and other federal courts. But that’s not how America works. The Constitution doesn’t give him that power, and we should not cede that power to the Executive Branch.
As the Majority Leader admitted during his debate with Senator Byrd last week, there is no constitutional right to an up-down vote on judicial nominees. If there were, more than 60 of President Clinton's nominees had their rights violated.
In fact, the Senate has rejected hundreds of judicial nominations over the years, some by up-down votes, some by filibuster, and some by simple inaction. In each case, the Senate was acting within its authority under the Advice and Consent Clause of the Constitution.
Senator Frist says he wants a Fairness Rule, but a rule allowing the President to ram extreme judges through the Senate is unfair to the American people.
Meanwhile, we need to get back to the people’s business, and put the people over partisanship. We were sent here to govern, and right now we’re not doing that. Gas prices are up, families have lost health insurance, pension plans are unstable, and the situation in Iraq is grave. The Senate is fiddling, while Rome is burning.
I will continue talking to the Majority Leader, and I know other efforts at compromise are under consideration. But unless cooler heads prevail, this confrontation will be upon us later this week. And if it comes to a vote, Democrats and responsible Republicans will vote to preserve checks and balances, and preserve the principle that the Senate rules must not be broken.
The eyes of the Nation are upon the Senate. There have been few moments of truth like this one. The American people will see whether the Senate passes this historic test."
May 16, 2005
...a White House trying to decapitate another news organization.AND, I might add, The Party will use Newsweek's retraction to deflect any, repeat, ANY charges concerning an atmosphere and policy of torture. Just watch. It will be like the "Dan Rather memo" incident -- which The Party used to convince the public that the "liberal" media made up the entire story of Bush shirking his National Guard duty. The actual story of Bush and the National Guard hasn't been mentioned anywhere since.
CBS was harshly, harshly criticized for trying to maintain that the essence of their story was true even if the origins of one memo were questionable. CBS didn't get that The Party was out to destroy them no matter what they did. They rolled over and appointed a Republican operative to run an "investigation" that didn't even consider the accuracy of the story. The result was that CBS is effectively destroyed. Damned because they did.
So Newsweek, thinking it was learning a lesson from CBS' holding out didn't try, rolled right over and retracted the story, even though the essence of the story was accurate. Now the entire Party propaganda apparatus is working to destroy Newsweek. Damned because they didn't.
Yesterday I blogged about a "Mallard Fillmore" comic in my local newspaper that tells readers not to trust or read newspapers. The paper continues to carry the strip - and lose readers. Maybe that's what "getting it" means in this new environment of Party ideological intimidation.
ABC is one media outlet that clearly "gets it." They refused to run United Church of Christ advertisements welcoming everyone into their church. But last week they allowed far-right Focus on the Family to run ads on their network. That is what The Party wants from the media, and that is what it will get.
Update - For press people who think they can somehow gain favor with The Party, here is an example of the Right's sentiments about the press:
The desire to promote their agendas at the expense of the truth or our safety provides a measure of comfort to our enemy, who hopes to divide us from within.Providing "comfort to our enemy?" Let that serve as a warning about what The Party has in mind for you. Watch your backs.
Welcome to the Beef and Possum.
This arrived in my mailbox yesterday... think it apropos on the messaging/framing front.
From the Sunday Portland Oregonian:
"Other than telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children and, now, die, I think the Republicans have done a fine job of getting government out of our personal lives."
The bubble is having another effect. Many people are finding their property taxes astronically high.
May 15, 2005
Bush's Troubling FDR 'Apology' at Consortium News,
But Bush’s V-E Day speech on May 7 contained a dangerous and deceitful subtext that nearly everyone in the ever-clueless U.S. news media missed as they fell over themselves to praise the president’s performance on his European trip.
[. . .] during the Cold War, U.S. administrations worked to overthrow democratically elected governments in a number of countries, including Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), the Congo (1961) and Chile (1973). Sometimes elected leaders were killed, like Patrice Lumumba in the Congo and Salvador Allende in Chile.Really -- go read.
In nearly all these cases, the putchists followed their coups with brutal dictatorial regimes that kept the population in line through torture, imprisonment and murder. During these depredations, the U.S. government helped the dictators or looked the other way.
[. . .] If George W. Bush truly wanted to make democracy more than a rhetorical device, he would have given a very different speech at the V-E Day anniversary in the Netherlands. He would have twinned his call for Moscow’s apologies with admissions of Washington’s anti-democratic excesses of the Cold War.
Bush would have apologized to the people of Iran for the CIA’s sponsorship of the 1953 coup; he would have begged forgiveness from Guatemala’s population for a quarter-century of repression that included genocide against Mayan tribes in the highlands; he would have expressed remorse over the tens of thousands of murdered, tortured and disappeared in Central America, South America and Africa; he would have voiced regret for the millions who perished in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
[. . .] In dozens of cases over the past five years, when Bush could have stood up for democratic principles inside the United States, he didn’t. Instead, he has approached all political issues with scorched-earth strategies that enlist angry supporters who never grow tired of acting the part of the victim while shouting down weaker political opponents.
People hold all kinds of irrational religious beliefs. Here is one of the "Questions to Ponder" in Scott Adams' book, The Religion War:
(6.) The dictionary defines "faith" as belief without evidence. It defines "stupidity" as unreasoned thinking. Is belief without evidence a form of unreasoned thinking?
The answer does not become a problem until radical Christians insist on turning their unreasoned thinking into legal mandates. Today I will address why God is Pro-Choice.
Unless otherwise identified, all of my quotes are borrowed freely from Truth In Religion, by Mortimer Adler.
There are two kinds of truth. The first kind of truth is logical, scientific or descriptive truth which "corresponds to the way things really are." The second kind of truth is the poetic truth of literature and faith, which while not exactly and precisely true, nevertheless may convey profound moral truths. While "the truths of faith or religious belief are beyond proof by any empirical or rational means." It is also a given that "[m]eaning or significance is not dependent on the logical truth of what is being said or thought.
Scriptural proscriptions against a variety of immoral acts are addressed in Leviticus 20 The Penalties for Acts of Immorality. The contention that Christian faith requires a believer to be anti-abortion is indelibly linked, through Catholicism, to the proposition that contraception is immoral. I selected two representative examples of the Christian and/or Catholic argument against abortion. Birth Control and Genesis38 by Matt 1618 and Contraception.
I won't bother with a point by point refutation, because it isn't worth the bother. Both of these sites are not only missing a couple of branches on ye old logic tree, they resemble barren logic telephone poles completely lacking any logical coherence. Matt 1618 does make one frank concession:
Most Christian opponents of the Catholic teaching on birth control say that the Bible nowhere condemns birth control. It is true, birth control is not explicitly mentioned as being condemned in the Bible, in the sense of 'Thou shalt not practice birth control' (though we have seen its clear implications in Genesis 38) . A full reading of Scripture itself likewise does not have an explicit condemnation of abortion itself. In fact, I have seen some use Numbers 5:12-22 as God actually authorizing abortion. There is nothing in the Bible that condemns abortion anywhere approaching the condemnation of birth control that we see in Genesis 38:9
The condemnation of birth control in Genesis 38:9 is the infamous parable of Onan's wasted seed:
And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.
If masturbation and contraception are immoral, God could easily have let us know in clearer language. Why did God force us to make the inferential leap from "spilling seed" to masturbation and/or contraception? The prohibition against abortion requires a second inferential leap from contraception to abortion.
Let's grant that the Bible is divinely inspired. God is perfectly capable of itemizing specific immoral acts, not the least of which is Leviticus 11:12, which states that "everything in the waters that has not fins and scales is an abomination to you." That puts eating shrimp, lobster, clams and oysters on the same moral par as homosexuality and adultery. Nowhere does God specifically identify contraception or abortion as immoral acts. Not once. Why didn't God simply list abortion as an abomination? Did abortion slip his mind?
St. Augustine's religious and spiritual evolution is instructive in identifying the fatal flaw of the pinched reading of scripture that compels the flawed conclusion that abortion is morally wrong. When he was first forced to read the Bible by his mother he dismissed it as "not for mature minds exercising their literal meaning." Only after he heard a sermon by St. Ambrose on the text "the letter killeth, the spirit giveth life," did St. Augustine revisit the Bible. It was only after he read the Bible for its deeper poetic truth that went "beyond the literal meanings of the words to the moral, allegorical, anagogical, and spiritual meanings to be found in the things literally signified by words of the text" that St. Augistine converted to Christianity.
It is not from the deeper poetic reading of scripture that radical Christians discover a moral condemnation of contraception and abortion. The biblical ban on contraception and abortion is a pious fiction invented out of whole cloth and transmuted into Catholic dogma over the centuries. Self appointed contemporary Protestant Mini-Popes have adopted the abortion fiction that was not traditionally shared by Protestants. The Protestant Mini-Popes are close to adopting the Catholic ban on contraception, which has traditionallly been a Catholic dogma rejected by most Protestant faiths. The simple fact is that the Bible does not mention either contraception or abortion. If repeating a lie for hundreds of years made it true, the Sun would still revolve around the Earth.
It would be bad enough if it was the pinched literal reading of scripture rejected by St. Augustine that radical Christians were trying to impose on America by force of law. They have taken it a step further. They are trying to impose moral prohibitions that are not in any way supported by scripture.
There is a fundamental rule of legislative interpretation that also works as a general rule for biblical interpretation of scripture. Whatever is not prohibited, is permitted. Since contraception and abortion are not prohibited, they are permitted. Every woman is permitted by scripture to make the private medical decision, informed by her personal religious beliefs and conscience, about whether or not to have an abortion. God is Pro-Life.
Florida Rep. Robert Wexler is going to break the Democratic coalition that has been holding the line against the Republicans' attempt to get rid of Social Security. The story, Democrat to Offer Social Security Plan quotes him saying, "My allegiance to seniors is greater than my allegiance to the Democratic Party."
Minority Leader Pelosi tried to stop him. From the story,
Wexler said he had twice spoken with Pelosi about his plan. While he would not reveal her reaction, he said, "It would be wrong to assume it was a receptive conversation."Good for her!
Thanks to There Is No Crisis, where they write,
If you care about saving Social Security from privatization, call up the disgraced congressman and tell him to pull his head out of his pompous ass:
Washington, D.C. Office
213 Cannon House Office Building • Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3001 • (202) 225-5974 FAX
Palm Beach County Office
2500 North Military Trail • Suite 100 • Boca Raton, FL 33431
(561) 988-6302 • (561) 988-6423 FAX
Broward County Office
Margate City Hall • 5790 Margate Blvd • Margate, FL 33063
(954) 972-6454 • (954) 974-3191 FAX
I was searching for something I wrote a few years back, because someone referred to it in a comment on another blog. While searching I came acros an old post, Stimulate This. Excerpt,
The resulting reduction in government revenue forces spending cuts -- which means laying people off or cutting back what is spent on goods which results in laying people off. And the tax cuts cause government borrowing, which increases our debt, which means we all must pay higher taxes to cover the interest on that debt forever or pay extra taxes to pay down that debt. And THAT spending does NOT increase jobs in any way. Worse, what we're doing is borrowing money to give money to rich people, who use the money to buy government bonds -- loaning the money back to the government! Think about the circular logic of this. We're borrowing money from rich people to GIVE THE MONEY WE BORROW FROM THE RICH BACK TO THE RICH! And forever after paying them interest on the money we borrowed from them! It's like giving your house to someone, then borrowing the money from them to pay for the house you gave them! Since Reagan this tax cut process has shifted our economy to an economy where most of us work harder and harder just to pay taxes that go out as interest payments to the rich! (And don't forget that the money we're giving to the rich is OUR SOCIAL SECURITY MONEY! Jeeze, don't even get me started on that!)Jeeze.
Frank Rich asks Just How Gay Is the Right?
I'll say it a little clearer: The rabidly anti-homosexual wingnuts are obviously gay and ashamed of it.
Why else would they be insisting that the presence of gay people risks "luring" straight people to become homosexual? This wouldn't even occur to a person who is not fighting such urges.
Why else would they be insisting that being gay is a "lifestyle choice?" These are people who think they can act straight, and are fighting their impulses every minute of their lives.
It's obvious. And it's why so any of them DO turn out to be gay and living double lives.
Update - From the comments, this, with my favorite line,
This time they bring out a beautiful porterhouse and a freshly roadkilled possum. Do you see the difference? Only someone who was truly fond of possum AND beef would see it as a choice."Beef and Possum" -- sounds like a great name for a gay bar.
Update - A great name for a blog: "Beef and Possum." What do you think?
Update II - Take the poll!
I just sent this letter to the San Jose Mercury News:
The Mallard Fillmore comic strip tells your readers not to trust (and therefore not to read) your newspaper. I'm curious how this furthers your business model.
May 14, 2005
This post strikes me as a great example of what is so wonderful about blogs. The ongoing conversation. Especialy the comments and the blog posts that are linked in the post and comments (in paticular Billmon's but read the great "Death Bet" post as well).
I wanted to put in my two cents, having grown up Jewish in a very Christian neighborhood.Go read more.
I don't know what religions Matt and Kevin and Ezra practice or grew up with, but I'll bet they're majority ones. Mine wasn't.
[. . .] When I was a kid I faced a hell of a lot of anti-Semitism, from having stones and eggs thrown at our house when we dared to put up Chanukah decorations, to being chased home by mobs or surrounded by kids on bikes and pinned to a tree until the tree-bugs started crawling all over me and... Sorry, the memories are still pretty painful, even 40 years later.
Put a Tiger In Your Think Tank shows ExxonMobile's donations to the Right's netword of think tanks and advocacy communications organizations from 2000 to 2003.
Look at the amounts contributed by just one company!
Each of these organizations exists to communicate to the general public in various forms, always about how right-wing ideology and the Republican Party benefit them. That's all they do.
How many Progressive organizations can you think of that exist to communicate to the general public how Progressive ideas and values benefit them?
THIS is why Republicans win.
(Thanks to this Kos story.)
Give them money so they can get this going.
I just learned about The BRAD SHOW On the Air! Via RAW RADIO!
They have a very interesting lineup for tonite, so click through to listen online. Scroll down their page to "CLICK HERE TO LISTEN LIVE!"
Here are some great blogs I somehow missed from my bloggroll. Until now.
Let me know of others that I have missed.
Several of the nation's most prominent environmentalists have gone public with the message that nuclear power, long taboo among environmental advocates, should be reconsidered as a remedy for global warming.Like I've been saying, we're currently dumping the "spent fuel" from burning fossil fuels straight into the atmosphere. It's killing a lot of people and warming the planet.
Except we can't trust this corrupt government to properly regulate the construction and operation of nuclear plants.
Grocery Store Wars | Join the Organic Rebellion (Flash animation)
This Pew Center report is the best dissection of American political demographics that I've ever seen. It draws the lines in the right places. (I can't critique the methodology, but it rings true to me).
The two groups of interest are the older, unsuccessful, uninformed, cynical "Disaffecteds" (9% of adults: Bush 42%, Kerry 21%, nonvoters 23%) and the younger unsuccessful, uninformed, cynical "Bystanders" (10% of the adults).
96% of the "Bystanders" didn't vote in 2004.
The anti-populist bias of the Democrats means that they refuse to appeal to these voters. Anti-populists point to the cynicism and resentment of this particular 19% of the electorate and ask, "So you want us to play to their cynicism and resentment?"
No, we should be figuring out how to reach them with a hopeful message.
If we had something to offer them, we might get their votes. As it is, the 19% break down approximately 4% Bush, 2% Kerry, 12% nonvoters, and 1% uncertain.
The anti-populists present themselves as tough-minded political realists, but since they've been losing elections for us all along, maybe we should ditch them. They never really were all that realistic -- there's something else going on with those guys.
May 13, 2005
I want to let everybody know about the danger of using AOL: You can't start an account without giving them a credit card number, it is nearly impossible to cancel, and if you cancel they continue to charge your account anyway and won't refund your money.
I had the misfortune of trying a trial account in November for reasons I don't want to get into. I didn't like it, and tried to cancel. You can't cancel online. I called, did the whole half-hour's worth of nonsense they put me through, and finally cancelled. That was in November. Guess what?
I noticed today that they are still charging my account $25 per month. (Remember I just moved, so I hadn't been checking the charges on my account for the last couple months. The charges started in March.) I called. Several times I was told to call different numbers or was transferred to incorrect departments. I encountered severely hostile people. I encountered people who reminded me of timeshare-condo sales in Mexico, trying to talk me out of cancelling.
In the end I (think I) was able to cancel again and got a promise that SOME of the charges will be reversed - in 3 to 5 days - but then they told me that I have to write to a special address to get the rest of my money back! Is this fraud, or what?
AOL is the most fraudulent company I have encountered, next to MCI. MCI used to regularly somehow switch my long distance away from the carrier I had signed up with over to them, and in the process would charge me more than triple what the other service had been charging. They were just as hostile on the phone and difficult to get my money back. Three times. Let's see how many times I have to repeat this cancellation process with AOL.
I'm writing this because I am pissed off and because I bet AOL didn't think about how blogs can get the word out to lots of people.
Do you remember the controversy about the Air Force Academy enforcing right-wing Christianity on the cadets? In the post Who Got the Pink Slip? Think Progress follows up.
The whistle blower has been fired.
Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, the person said to be responsible for the harassment of non-Christians, is being given a promotion by the Pentagon. (The investigation is not concluded.)
This is what is known as "sending a message."
These people are not fooling around, and the message is that they have already taken control. Watch your backs.
Expanding on the ealier President NotThere post, another thought occurred to me. What was President Bush doing riding his bike in a park at 11:00am on a Wednesday morning? As his employers, I think we should all be asking, WHY WASN'T HE AT WORK?
This is another call to action.
Step 1: Visit this new website: The Downing Steet Memo :: What is it?
Step 2: Click their Take Action button.
Step 3: DO SOMETHING with the options you see there.
So let's review. Washington's airspace was being invaded. Jets were being scrambled and defense grid was lit up. Laura and Nancy were rushed to the WH Bunker and, Dick Cheney split town in a motorcade that looked like it was headed to the Baghdad airport. and the city was placed in Full OMFG mode.
While all this is going on GW is less than five minutes away even by bike from the absolute Nerve center of America's entire secure communications and electronic intelligence network. And nobody even bothers to tell him what's going onOK, so they were considering shooting down the plane, AND no one had told the President. So WHO was considering shooting down the plane, then?
There's really no reasonable explanation for this except that his handlers made a deliberate decision to keep him away from the reins of power while the grown-ups handled the crisis. And this isn't the first time its happened
The sheer magnitude and uniqueness of 9/11 obscured the fact that that's exactly what happened on that day too. Dick Cheney, not the president, was the Man in the Situation Room that day, the one who almost had to order a pilot to shoot down an aircraft full of people.
What did George do? Well, we've never really been told, except that he was cooling his heels at an obscure air force base in BFE Nebraska. We've never seen any information that W made a single descision there except to put Cheney in charge.
From the Republican Party 2000 Platform:
Over a five year period, as surpluses continue to grow, we will return half a trillion dollars to the taxpayers who really own it, without touching the Social Security surplus. That’s what we mean by our Lock-Box: The Social Security surplus is off-limits, off budget, and will not be touched. We will not stop there, for we are also determined to protect Medicare and to pay down the national debt. Reducing that debt is both a sound policy goal and a moral imperative. Our families and most states are required to balance their budgets; it is reasonable to assume the federal government should do the same. Therefore, we reaffirm our support for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget.Skip forward to 2005, Bush: Social Security Trust Fund "just IOUs",
Using a government filing cabinet as a prop, President Bush yesterday played to fears that the Social Security Trust Fund is little more than a stack of worthless IOUs.T.H.E.Y. J.U.S.T. L.I.E! They say what they need to say at the time to get enough people to let them do what they want, and then they move on with their own agenda. It is just cover stories, sell jobs, smokescreens. See the forest: What they SAY has nothing to do with what they DO.
[. . .] "There is no trust fund, just IOUs that I saw firsthand, that future generations will pay," Bush said after inspecting the storage site. "Imagine — the retirement security for future generations is sitting in a filing cabinet."
Chris at MyDD has a post up, The Goals of the Republican Party. Please read it. Please consider printing copies and going door-ro-door in your neighborhood leaving copies in mailboxes and under doormats. Please consider passing it out at churches. Please consider leaving stacks of printouts at coffee houses. Please consider e-mailing this post to friends and asking them to do also all of these things.
A Coveted Seeing the Forest Blog Hero award goes to Attaturk, blogging at Eschaton for this line in his post "An age when taking care of employees has gone out of style."
Workers are now described as an impediment to corporations and a burden to their own government.Come by and pick up your award.
May 12, 2005
"Nuclear Option" Mass Immediate ResponseMyself, I say OUT INTO THE STREETS!
Please take a moment to fill out the short form below to sign up for our "Nuclear Option" Mass Immediate Response. By giving us your cell phone number, we will text message you as soon as Senate Republicans trigger the "nuclear option." Embedded in that text message will be a link to the Senate switchboard. With the push of a couple buttons, your call – along with thousands of others – goes right through to the corridors of power demanding preservation of the filibuster.
This is a brand new technology, and this is the first time it is being used on a large scale. (Don’t worry: we will NEVER send you spam or disclose your number to anyone else; in fact, we won’t even send you any more text messages without first sending you an e-mail like this one, asking you to opt in.)
The Democrats is not a they, it is a US. No change is going to happen if you think it's something that someone else is going to do for you. Think about what YOU are DOING to make the change.
A few years ago I wrote about how I felt foolish the first time setting up a Register to Vote table at a local supermarket.
It can feel embarrassing, because we are so primed to think of activists as "whacko liberals," or "aging hippies," or so many other negative, ridiculing images. I had this problem when I started registering voters earlier this year. I had a card table and a chair and a sign, and I set up in a public place, and I felt ridiculous. But after I sat down at that table and started talking to people I got over it and I felt GREAT about what I was doing because I knew how important it was and because so many people were telling me they were very glad to see "someone" out there doing this important work! ( It hadn't occurred to them to be out there doing this important work. No one seems to see themselves as someone who can get things done.)So go out an talk to people. Be a pest. Make an effort. Make it a change in your life. It's important.
If you are reading this, then you are probably concerned about the things going on with the government. I think they are too important to just sit back and quietly let them continue. I think it is time to speak up, even if you risk feeling foolish. You should be talking to people, e-mailing them, and asking them to get active as well.
For the record, there were coveted Seeing the Forest Blog Hero Awards at the previous location of this blog.
Here's a difference between national Democrats and the Republican "machine," (The Party and the network of funded organizations, think tanks, etc. that are the foundation of The Party.) Take a look at the picture at Daily Kos :: SD Dems in action. It shows a billboard put up by local grassroots Democrats. This is the kind of thing the Republican machine does across the country in hundreds of different ways. They provide pamphlets to hand out at churches, speakers for local and campus events, radio guests and hosts, TV pundits, columnists -- all professionally trained, all well-paid.
But this billboard shows our advantage: we're in the right. We aren't trying to convince some blue-collar worker to give up his or her pension so some rich fuck can get a bigger jet.
John Cole talks about the resulting blogfight.
Stirling Newberry writes about the issue with lots of background at The Oil For Food Witch Hunt.
May 11, 2005
Pat Buchanan, in Was World War II worth it?, defends Bush's speech claiming Yalta was FDR's betrayal to Communism and taking the discussion in the direction they want it to go. Communism was worse than the Nazis, etc.
So, Pat and George, which side should we have fought on? Your true colors (and loyalties) are becoming clear.
Update - ">In a talk about his column,
He suggested that because Germans voted Hitler in, they did not need to be liberated, and that Britain and France drew Germany into the wider conflict.C'mon, Pat and George, tell us which side you think we should have fought on.
A letter I received:
There was a story in the LATimes this am that has gotten no blog coverage at all and IMHO it needs some as I feel it is very important - the headline is "Court Lets Cheney Keep Talks Secret".Yep, that is exactly what the battle over judges is about.
The key paragraph (to me) is down near the end -"During the Clinton administration, the same appeals court gave the 1972 law a broader scope, saying it applied to the health policy task force led by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Then, the court said outside participants in a White House advisory group were "de facto members" of the group, and therefore the public had a right to know about the meetings."What I read from this is that IOKIYAR is now OFFICIAL POLICY. Laws will OFFICIALY be interpreted one way for dems & another way for rethugs. If you read this the same way I implore you to please comment!!!!
BTW, although the article doesn't specify the court I am certain it is the one with Silberman on it. Anyway, RIGHT HERE are the ACTIVIST JUDGES taking a dump on the US Constitution and on "EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW". Please do something with it (or tell me I'm mistaken)
Previously at Seeing the Forest, The Right Will Fight Dirty,
A few years later, after the Iran/Contra arms scandal investigation began, Lawrence Walsh wrote about the nature of The Party apparatus that had infiltrated the government and obstructed his efforts to find out for us what had happened. The following is from The Impeachment Conspiracy by Robert Parry:Unimaginable“The North case reached the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1990 and the Poindexter case followed in 1991. Iran-contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, a Republican himself, encountered what he termed "a powerful band of Republican appointees [who] waited like the strategic reserves of an embattled army."
Walsh recognized that many of the appeals judges held a "continuing political allegiance" to the conservative Federalist Society, an organization dedicated to purging liberalism from the federal courts.
"It reminded me of the communist front groups of the 1940s and 1950s, whose members were committed to the communist cause and subject to communist direction but were not card-carrying members of the Communist Party," Walsh wrote. [For details, see Walsh's Firewall.]
A leader of this partisan faction was Judge Laurence H. Silberman, a bombastic character known for his decidedly injudicious temperament. Silberman had served as a foreign policy advisor to Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign and had joined in a controversial contact with an emissary from Iran behind President Carter's back. [See Robert Parry's Trick or Treason.]” [emphasis added]
Law itself is under attack. That's what is behind the push to confirm their Federalist Society judges. And to get that done they are working on getting rid of the right to filibuster in the Senate.Bush Appoints Silberman,
He first shows up as one of the people from the Reagan campaign who met with the Iranians in the Iran Hostage Crisis:A Two-Track Justice System
[. . .] Then he's one of the judges who let Ollie North off the hook on a technicality.
Later he shows up as one of the main behind-the-scenes Clinton-haters: ...
... Got that? The people investigated in Iran-Contra - which yielded many convictions, including Ollie North, and many last-minute pardons that avoided sure conviction - are said to be investigated unfairly and reimbursed for their expenses, while those investigated in Whitewater - in which all the charges were found to be completely without merit - are not.Also see Court Denies Clintons' Request for Legal Reimbursement.
Not to mention that this panel of judges has assigned far-right investigators to every case since Iran Contra. These investigators have found no wrongdoing by any Republicans but hounded Democrats.
There is no more law. There is no more justice. There is only Republican corruption. W.A.T.C.H. Y.O.U.R. B.A.C.K.S!
An unexpected retreat in the United States' demand for imports trimmed the trade deficit in March to a six-month low, the government reported today, creating a far brighter picture of the economy than previous data suggested.A big drop in demand is a GOOD thing? OK, what am I missing?
May 10, 2005
What he says. Every word.
Bigger players are picking this up. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo today
In making this argument the president joins a rich tradition of maniacs who believe that at the end of World War II we should have joined with the defeated remainder of the German army and fought our way through Eastern Europe to the border of Russia and, in all likelihood, on to Moscow to overthrow the Soviet Union itself -- certainly not a difficult proposition considering what an insubstantial land Army the Soviet Union had at the time.
If that seems like an over-dramatic alternative scenario, then you just aren't familiar with the history of the period.
[. . .] The president also makes common cause, though whether he's familiar with the history he's wading into I don't know, with those who argued before the war and after that the US and the UK made their fundamental error in the war itself, by allying with the Soviets against Nazism rather than with Nazism against the Soviets. [emphasis added]
Last year, George W. Bush endorsed a revanchist view of the Vietnam War: that our political leaders undermined our military and denied us victory. Now, on his Baltic tour, he has endorsed a similar view of the Yalta accords, that great bugaboo of the old right.As I wrote the other day (and Josh also gets), Bush is lining up with those who say we fought on the wrong side in WWII, and wrote earlier today, We need to understand just how far to the right Bush's statement was. This is back to McCarthyism. And where will it go from here? Watch your backs. Obviously I'm a strong believer in repetition. Every blog should be on this -- it's waaaayyyy beyond just the usual Bush stuff that everyone ignores. This is so extreme that America should be told -- and warned.
[. . .] Bush's cavalier invocations of history for political purposes are not surprising. But for an American president to dredge up ugly old canards about Yalta stretches the boundaries of decency and should draw reprimands...
[. . .] Along with the myth of FDR's treachery in leading America into war, the "stab in the back" interpretation of Yalta became a cudgel with which the old right and their McCarthyite heirs tried to discredit a president they had long despised.
Update - Kevin Drum has more.
This is huge. Judge Approves End of United Pension Plans,
The ruling, which carries broad implications for U.S. airlines and their workers, shifts responsibility for United's four defined-benefit plans to the government's pension agency.United's workers lose much of their pensions, AND United gets to shift the pension payments to the government (us) from their stockholders (the rich).
Because United does this, all the other airlines have to try the same, to stay competitive.
Tuesday's ruling, following a step taken successfully by US Airways Group Inc. in February, clears the way for similar actions elsewhere.And, next come other corporations, probably starting with GM,
United's biggest competitors would be under the most pressure to follow suit. American Airlines, the largest U.S. carrier and a unit of AMR Corp., has said it will keep its pension plans but is concerned about No. 2 United gaining a financial advantage with the elimination of its pensions.
What designs might Mr. Kerkorian have on those [GM's] retirement plans?This is an old trick, shifting a company's pension obligations to the government (us) to the benefit of the shareholders (the rich),
Occasionally, an investor finds a way to separate an ailing company's pension plan from its business operations and send the obligations to the federal government. The government insures pensions, and by taking over a failing pension plan, it greatly reduces the sponsoring company's overall liabilities. That can turn a sick company into a winning investment. The pension insurance program bears the loss.
The most visible example of this is Wilbur L. Ross Jr., who made a $260 million profit by taking over bankrupt steel companies just after they sent their pension plans to the government, at a cost of $6.4 billion. Mr. Ross acquired the assets of five steel companies from 2002 to 2004, free from their pension obligations to about 190,000 steel workers. Mr. Ross sold the steel assets to the Mittal Steel Company last month.And it will add billions and billions to the government's (our) debt.
The claim that Roosevelt betrayed Eastern Europe at Yalta, and that he set the stage for 40 years of Soviet domination, is an old right-wing canard. By repeating it, and by publicly charging that the Yalta agreement was in the "unjust tradition" of Hitler's deal with Stalin, Bush was simply engaging in cheap historical revisionism. His glib comments belong to the Ann Coulter school of history.We need to understand just how far to the right Bush's statement was. This is back to McCarthyism. And where will it go from here? Watch your backs.
[. . .] One element of the right-wing mythology developed in those years was that Alger Hiss, who served during the war as an assistant to Secretary of State Edward Stettinius Jr. — and who was charged in the years that followed with being a Soviet spy and was convicted of perjury — was instrumental in getting Roosevelt to collude with Stalin against Churchill. It was none other than Joseph McCarthy who declared in February 1950 that "if time permitted, it might be well to go into detail about the fact that Hiss was Roosevelt's chief advisor at Yalta when Roosevelt was admittedly in ill health and tired physically and mentally." In later decades, conservatives such as Ronald Reagan would denounce any negotiations with the Soviet Union as portending a new "Yalta."
A group of economists are walking to the faculty meeting, they see a 20 dollar bill lying on the sidewalk in the quad.Go read the rest.
The efficient market economist says "there can't be a 20 dollar bill there, otherwise it would have been picked up."
The monetarist says "Don't pick up that 20 dollar bill, if you do, that increases the velocity of money, which is inflationary."
The Keynesian economist says "Don't pick it up, someone who really needs it will."
Me, I be pickin up the money. Screw economists. By the way, how come the price of gas and housing has more than doubled in the last few years, but economists say "inflation is under control?"
May 9, 2005
skippy the bush kangaroo found us a cartoon!
"Personal expenditures in the past 15 months have been largely financed by borrowing," said Wynne Godley, a Cambridge University economist who is affiliated with the Levy Institute at Bard College. "And even a reduction in the pace of debt creation will force people to start spending less, on a big scale."The government is borrowing massive amounts. The public is borrowing massive amounts. At this point we are so dependent on debt that even a reduction in the rate of new borrowing will smash the economy, but how long can the borrowing go on?
Update - Way more here.
Jerry Brown's blog is quite interesting. Take a look.
May 8, 2005
If you believe in free will, God is pro-choice. There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that suggests anything to the contrary. If you accept the concept of free will, then allowing individual choice is a requirement for allowing people to choose between Satan or God. Free will is at the crux of the abortion debate.
Martin Luthur broke from the Catholic Church over the issue of free will in his essay, Concerning Christian Liberty. The Catholic Church rejected the idea that God's grace removes freedom from the human will at The Council of Trent.
I'm not enough of a theologian to explain how right wing Evangelists and doctrinaire Catholics both start from completely different points and arrive at the same conclusion, in spite of the total silence of the Bible on the topic of abortion. That's probably also why I'm a wayward Presbyterian. I think they are both nuts.
From everything Christ said about Atonement, I think it is clear that all men and women have free will and if they want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, they are obliged to follow Christ's words as well as his path. Nobody has defined good works better than Rabbi Hillel:
Rabbi Hillel, the older contemporary of Jesus, taught the Golden Rule in a particularly emphatic way. One day a heathen asked him to sum up the whole of Jewish teaching while standing on one leg. Hillel stood on one leg and replied, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the Torah. The rest is commentary. Go and learn it.”
By emphasizing God's grace over free will, right wing Evangelicals also grant themselves permission to dictate what everyone else's moral decisions should be. It also allows them to grant themselves permission to use immoral means to accomplish their ends and bear false witness against those who disagree with them. Since God's grace does not depend on good works, being born again gives them the freedom to impose theocracy through duplicitous, deceitful and sinful actions.
There is no contradiction in the dichotomy that their religious freedom depends on depriving everyone who disagrees with them of their religious freedom, because God's law supercedes the Constitution.
Of course, I'm a hopeless case, because I think Scott Adams captures the essence of Genuine Belief in his book God's Debris. There is no room for compromise between the Christian fundamentalist definition of religious freedom and the Constitution. One or the other is going to have to lose. Since Christian Fascism Has the Power, it is entirely likely that the Constitution is going to lose.
In Europe yesterday Bush spouted old-fashioned far-right nonsense and shit all over FDR and Churchill and all the soldiers who died fighting the Nazis. Bush: Yalta led to repression that still must be addressed,
Second-guessing Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Bush said Saturday the United States played a role in Europe's painful division after World War II - a decision that helped cause "one of the greatest wrongs of history" when the Soviet Union imposed its harsh rule across Central and Eastern Europe.Someone else noticed. (Update - Max Blumenthal noticed, too. But also see this. My point is the similarity of theme.) (Update 2 - paperwight at BOPNews also is on this now, wth a different twist.) (Update 3 - Steve Gilliard is on this brilliantly.) (4 And Lawyers Guns & Money and Brad DeLong.) (5 Digby now.) I thought maybe it was only me. You have to be old enough to understand just how far, far, far right this stuff is. From the story,
"Certainly it goes further than any president has gone," historian Alan Brinkley said. "This has been a very common view of the far right for many years - that Yalta was a betrayal of freedom, that Roosevelt betrayed the hopes of generations."
For some understanding of the right-wing roots of Bush's speech read this National Review piece, Under Yalta’s Shadow, (while keeping in mind that the agreement was for free elections in Europe and the Soviets helping defeat Japan and the alternative was war with the Soviets.) Here is Pat Buchanan in The Betrayal of Poland 1939-1945:
With Poland's membership in NATO at issue, a question has arisen as to whether America owes a debt to the Polish people for Franklin D. Roosevelt's having "betrayed" the Polish nation to Joseph Stalin at Yalta.But the Right's beef goes back even further. Before WWII there was an "America First" movement, championed by Charles Lindbergh, that among other things tried to stop America from supplying Britain with shipping convoys. Lindbergh complained that "the defense of England" really meant "defeat of Germany." In a September 11, 1941 speech in Iowa Lindbergh "blamed the British, the Roosevelt administration, and the Jews for drawing America into the war, proclaiming that they were all agitators."
[. . .] But, in truth, Yalta was only the final betrayal of Poland, and not only FDR but Winston Churchill bears moral responsibility for a half-century of communist enslavement of the Polish people.
To this day the Right blames FDR for "getting us into" World War II, even saying he conspired to start the war. And they say that the Yalta agreement that Bush spoke out against was part of a "Communist plot" by FDR to help the Soviets take over the world. Here is a recent example. Here is Patrick Buchanan in an article defending America First and accusing FDR:
And there were secret agents and dupes. Only they were not Nazis. They were communist traitors and Stalinist spies honeycombed through FDR's regime: Alger Hiss, Laurence Duggan and Noel Field at State, Harry Dexter White at Treasury, Lauchlin Currie in FDR's White House, Judith Coplin at Justice, Rep. Sam Dickstein, Julius Rosenberg and David Greenglass in the atom bomb project, etc., etc.So what Bush is saying contradicts accepted history and follows the far-Right line that America made a mistake by allying with the Soviets, justifying this with the example of what the Soviets did following the war.
This has been an ongoing theme in Republican/European discourse, that Germany was fighting the Soviets, and we should have been on their side. Remember when Reagan laid a wreath on SS graves at Bittburg, and when in a speech he said the Lincoln Brigade fought on the "wrong side?" (The Lincoln Brigade fought against the fascists in Spain.) Remember also Pat Buchanan defending Demjanjuk by saying "he was fighting communism." (Update This was from memory, not a source. I'm looking for a source but may have confused Buchanan's support for Demjanjuk and separate Buchanan statements about the Nazis fighting Communism.) And remember that Bush's grandfather helped finance the Nazis.
Yes, the roots of Bush's speech denouncing FDR and Yalta go way back.
May 7, 2005
Today David Sirota at Sirotablog catches how the thin line is now between the government and The Party and the corporations. In Sirotablog: CAFTA: White House Caught Peddling Corporate Invitations he writes,
Specifically, the White House is using taxpayer resources to urge people to attend events being put on by Fedex, Citigroup, and Western Union to promote this corporate-written free trade deal (you can see the official invitation being blasted out by the White House here in Word format - notice the corporate logos). Most brazenly, the White House asks that invitees RSVP directly to the White House - as if there is now no distinction between these corporations (who have given more than $2 million to Republicans in the last election cycle alone) and the White House.Party and government and corporation have merged.
Watch your backs.
From Robert Novak's column:
DEAN'S DEBACLEThrow some money to the Dems!
Democratic National Committee (DNC) fund raising under the chairmanship of Howard Dean shows a disappointing $16.7 million raised in the first quarter of 2005, compared with $34 million reported by the Republicans.
That tends to confirm dire predictions by old-line Democratic fund-raisers of a fall-off in money if Dean became chairman. He had promised to bring in heavy individual contributions, as he did in his 2004 campaign for president. But the DNC in the first quarter received only $13 million from individuals, compared to $31 million for the Republican National Committee (RNC).
Sean Paul doesn't like the term "MSM".
May 6, 2005
After a week of almost no web surfing, I checked in with Matt Yglesias and what do I see but this:
Roughly speaking, I wonder whether there are enough left-populists left inside the Democratic Party for this to be a viable politics. It may be that too many of left-populism's possible constituents have already moved into the Republican sphere or into apathy for this to work.
Matt was talking about whether a populist could win in the Democratic primaries, but along the way he seems to admit that there are actually a lot of populist voters out there, but that they're not Democrats any more.
He doesn't suggest that if the Democrats learned to speak to these alienated (or Republican) populist voters, they might actually win an election now and then. Like a significant (controlling) fraction of the Democratic Party, Matt would rather lose with a neoliberal than win with a populist.
The commenters on the thread were as bad as Matt (with a few exceptions, including Camille Roy who sometimes posts here.)
Back to retirement I go.
You've been hearing about The secret Downing Street memo -- if you read blogs, that is.
Or, on the other hand, if you follow American news, you probably haven't heard about this.
It's real. It's a "smoking gun." It's proof. There's no more doubt about it. The Bush administration intended to go to war, and altered intelligence to trick the public into believing that Iraq was involved in 9/11. It WAS all a lie. AND they timed all of this to influence the 2002 elections.
But who is going to do anything about it? The American news media won't even report it. The Justice Department is going to help cover this up, not investigate it. The Republicans in Congress certainly aren't going to do anything, and they won't allow the Democrats to do anything.
Is the leadership of the military so infiltrated with right-wing loyalists that they'll put up with this?
Hat tip to Salon for an article, Band banned from performing 'Louie Louie' that describes why "Benton Harbor Superintendent Paula Dawning cited the song's allegedly raunchy lyrics in ordering the McCord Middle School band not to perform it in Saturday's Grand Floral Parade, held as part of the Blossomtime Festival."
Am I the only one who was not aware that a "pop culture controversy" has been simmering for decades over the lyrics to Louie, Louie ? Fortunately, an alert parent notified Supt. Paula Dawning of their concern and Dawning answered the clarion call to protect our children:
In a letter sent home with McCord students, Dawning said "Louie Louie" was not appropriate for Benton Harbor students to play while representing the district -- even though the marching band wasn't going to sing it.
Fortunately for us all, the FBI has been on the job:
The best-known, most notorious version was a hit in 1963 for the Kingsmen; the FBI spent two years investigating the lyrics before declaring they not only were not obscene but also were "unintelligible at any speed."
Two years? The FBI spent two years investigating the lyrics of a song? We can only hope President Bush awards the agents a Medal of Freedom.
May 5, 2005
Left I on the News says Capitalism kills. Example: Uninsured people with colon or breast cancer face a 50% higher risk of death.
I have referred to President Carter's "Malaise" speech, but now that I have a blogging system with "extended entries" I figure, why not just put the whole thing up here.
Much of the speech is about America's energy use, and its implications. He says, "The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them." He followed up with a number of programs for developing alternative energy and reducing our energy use. When you read the speech, think about where we (and the world) would be if the country had followed his plan. And think about how Reagan - elected with oil company money - symbolically removed Carter's solar panels from the roof of the White House, dismantled his alternative energy programs and killed programs for mass transit and energy efficiency.
But the first part of the speech is about something else - the mistrust of government and each other that had started taking hold. As you read it, keep in mind that the Right's "noise machine" (partly funded by oil companies) had already been operating behind the scenes for several years, already spending tens of millions a year on the effort. Back then nothing like that had been encountered before - the smear machine, the propaganda, the mass repetition of carefully crafted anti-government and in-it-for-yourself messaging, etc. - so people were just blindsided by it. But it was clear something was happening, and Carter called it a a "fundamental threat to American democracy". He said,
Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy.He saw it happening, and he said it. The Right responded with the tactic of mockery, and it worked.
Reading the speech knowing what we know now...
This is a special night for me. Exactly 3 years ago, on July 15, 1976, I accepted the nomination of my party to run for President of the United States. I promised you a President who is not isolated from the people, who feels your pain, and who shares your dreams and who draws his strength and his wisdom from you.
During the past 3 years I've spoken to you on many occasions about national concerns, the energy crisis, reorganizing the Government, our Nation's economy, and issues of war and especially peace. But over those years the subjects of the speeches, the talks, and the press conferences have become increasingly narrow, focused more and more on what the isolated world of Washington thinks is important. Gradually, you've heard more and more about what the Government thinks or what the Government should be doing and less and less about our Nation's hopes, our dreams, and our vision of the future.
Ten days ago I had planned to speak to you again about a very important subject -- energy. For the fifth time I would have described the urgency of the problem and laid out a series of legislative recommendations to the Congress. But as I was preparing to speak, I began to ask myself the same question that I now know has been troubling many of you. Why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy problem?
It's clear that the true problems of our Nation are much deeper -- deeper than gasoline lines of energy shortages, deeper even than inflation or recession. And I realize more than ever that as President I need your help. So, I decided to reach out and listen to the voices of America.
I invited to Camp David people from almost every segment of our society business and labor, teachers and preachers, Governors, mayors, and private citizens. And then I left Camp David to listen to other Americans, men and women like you. It has been an extraordinary 10 days, and I want to share with you what I've heard. First of all, I got a lot of personal advice. Let me quote a few of the typical comments that I wrote down.
This from a southern Governor: "Mr. President, you are not leading this Nation -- you're just managing the Government."
"You don't see the people enough any more."
"Some of your Cabinet members don't seem loyal. There is not enough discipline among your disciples."
"Don't talk to us about politics or the mechanics of government, but about an understanding of our common good."
"Mr. President, we're in trouble. Talk to us about blood and sweat and tears."
"If you lead, Mr. President, we will follow."
Many people talked about themselves and about the condition of our Nation. This from a young woman in Pennsylvania: "I feel so far from government. I feel like ordinary people are excluded from political power."
And this from a young Chicano: "Some of us have suffered from recession all our lives."
"Some people have wasted energy, but others haven't had anything to waste."
And this from a religious leader: "No material shortage can touch the important things like God's love for us or our love for one another."
And I like this one particularly from a black woman who happens to be the mayor of a small Mississippi town: "The big-shots are not the only ones who are important. Remember, you can't sell anything on Wall Street unless someone digs it up somewhere else first."
This kind of summarized a lot of other statements: "Mr. President, we are confronted with a moral and a spiritual crisis."
Several of our discussions were on energy, and I have a notebook full of comments and advice. I'll read just a few.
"We can't go on consuming 40 percent more energy than we produce. When we import oil we are also importing inflation plus unemployment."
"We've got to use what we have. The Middle East has only 5 percent of the world's energy, but the United States has 24 percent."
And this is one of the most vivid statements: "Our neck is stretched over the fence and OPEC has a knife."
"There will be other cartels and other shortages. American wisdom and courage right now can set a path to follow in the future."
This was a good one: "Be bold, Mr. President. We may make mistakes, but we are ready to experiment."
And this one from a labor leader got to the heart of it: "The real issue is freedom. We must deal with the energy problem on a war footing."
And the last that I'll read: "When we enter the moral equivalent of war, Mr. President, don't issue us BB guns."
These 10 days confirmed my belief in the decency and the strength and the wisdom of the American people, but it also bore out some of my longstanding concerns about our Nation's underlying problems.
I know, of course, being President, that government actions and legislation can be very important. That's why I've worked hard to put my campaign promises into law -- and I have to admit, with just mixed success. But after listening to the American people I have been reminded again that all the legislation in the world can't fix what's wrong with America. So, I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.
I do not mean our political and civil liberties. They will endure. And I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might.
The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation.
The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.
The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July. It is the idea which founded our Nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else -- public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We've always believed in something called progress. We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.
Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, even the world. We always believed that we were part of a great movement of humanity itself called democracy, involved in the search for freedom, and that belief has always strengthened us in our purpose. But just as we are losing our confidence in the future, we are also beginning to close the door on our past.
In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.
The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next 5 years will be worse than the past 5 years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.
As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.
These changes did not happen overnight. They've come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy.
We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the Presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Water gate.
We remember when the phrase "sound as a dollar" was an expression of absolute dependability, until 10 years of inflation began to shrink our dollar and our savings. We believed that our Nation's re sources were limitless until 1973, when we had to face a growing dependence on foreign oil.
These wounds are still very deep. They have never been healed.
Looking for a way out of this crisis, our people have turned to the Federal Government and found it isolated from the mainstream of our Nation's life. Washington, D.C., has become an island. The gap between our citizens and our Government has never been so wide. The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual.
What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.
Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift. You don't like, and neither do I. What can we do?
First of all, we must face the truth, and then we can change our course. We simply must have faith in each other, faith in our ability to govern ourselves, and faith in the future of this Nation. Restoring that faith and that confidence to America is now the most important task we face. It is a true challenge of this generation of Americans.
One of the visitors to Camp David last week put it this way: "We've got to stop crying and start sweating, stop talking and start walking, stop cursing and start praying. The strength we need will not come from the White House, but from every house in America."
We know the strength of America. We are strong. We can regain our unity. We can regain our confidence. We are the heirs of generations who survived threats much more powerful and awesome than those that challenge us now. Our fathers and mothers were strong men and women who shaped a new society during the Great Depression, who fought world wars, and who carved out a new charter of peace for the world.
We ourselves and the same Americans who just 10 years ago put a man on the Moon. We are the generation that dedicated our society to the pursuit of human rights and equality. And we are the generation that will win the war on the energy problem and in that process rebuild the unity and confidence of America.
We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.
All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our Nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem.
Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this Nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our Nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.
In little more than two decades we've gone from a position of energy independence to one in which almost half the oil we use comes from foreign countries, at prices that are going through the roof. Our excessive dependence on OPEC has already taken a tremendous tool on our economy and our people. This is the direct cause of the long lines which have made millions of you spend aggravating hours waiting for gasoline. It's a cause of the increased inflation and unemployment that we now face. This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our Nation.
The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.
What I have to say to you now about energy is simple and vitally important.
Point one: I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, this Nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 -- never. From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation. The generation-long growth in our dependence on foreign oil will be stopped dead in its tracks right now and then reversed as we move through the 1980's, for I am tonight setting the further goal of cutting our dependence on foreign oil by one-half by the end of the next decade -- a saving of over 4 1/2 million barrels of imported oil per day.
Point two: To ensure that we meet these targets, I will use my Presidential authority to set import quotas. I'm announcing tonight that for 1979 and 1980, I will forbid the entry into this country of one drop of foreign oil more than these goals allow. These quotas will ensure a reduction in imports even below the ambitious levels we set at the recent Tokyo summit.
Point three: To give us energy security, I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our Nation's history to develop America's own alternative sources of fuel -- from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the Sun.
I propose the creation of an energy security corporation to lead this effort to replace 2 1/2 million barrels of imported oil per day by 1990. The corporation will issue up to $5 billion in energy bonds, and I especially want them to be in small denominations so that average Americans can invest directly in America's energy security.
Just as a similar synthetic rubber corporation helped us win World War II, so will we mobilize American determination and ability to win the energy war. Moreover, I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of this Nation's first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.
These efforts will cost money, a lot of money, and that is why Congress must enact the windfall profits tax without delay. It will be money well spent. Unlike the billions of dollars that we ship to foreign countries to pay for foreign oil, these funds will be paid by Americans to Americans. These funds will go to fight, not to increase, inflation and unemployment.
Point four: I'm asking Congress to mandate, to require as a matter of law, that our Nation's utility companies cut their massive use of oil by 50 percent within the next decade and switch to other fuels, especially coal, our most abundant energy source.
Point five: To make absolutely certain that nothing stands in the way of achieving these goals, I will urge Congress to create an energy mobilization board which, like the War Production Board in World War II, will have the responsibility and authority to cut through the redtape, the delays, and the endless roadblocks to completing key energy projects.
We will protect our environment. But when this Nation critically needs a refinery or a pipeline, we will build it.
Point six: I'm proposing a bold conservation program to involve every State, county, and city and every average American in our energy battle. This effort will permit you to build conservation into your homes and your lives at a cost you can afford.
I ask Congress to give me authority for mandatory conservation and for standby gasoline rationing. To further conserve energy, I'm proposing tonight an extra $10 billion over the next decade to strengthen our public transportation systems. And I'm asking you for your good and for your Nation's security to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit, and to set your thermostats to save fuel. Every act of energy conservation like this is more than just common sense -- I tell you it is an act of patriotism.
Our Nation must be fair to the poorest among us, so we will increase aid to needy Americans to cope with rising energy prices. We often think of conservation only in terms of sacrifice. In fact, it is the most painless and immediate way of rebuilding our Nation's strength. Every gallon of oil each one of us saves is a new form of production. It gives us more freedom, more confidence, that much more control over our own lives.
So, the solution of our energy crisis can also help us to conquer the crisis of the spirit in our country. It can rekindle our sense of unity, our confidence in the future, and give our Nation and all of us individually a new sense of purpose.
You know we can do it. We have the natural resources. We have more oil in our shale alone than several Saudi Arabias. We have more coal than any nation on Earth. We have the world's highest level of technology. We have the most skilled work force, with innovative genius, and I firmly believe that we have the national will to win this war.
I do not promise you that this struggle for freedom will be easy. I do not promise a quick way out of our Nation's problems, when the truth is that the only way out is an all-out effort. What I do promise you is that I will lead our fight, and I will enforce fairness in our struggle, and I will ensure honesty. And above all, I will act.
We can manage the short-term shortages more effectively and we will, but there are no short-term solutions to our long-range problems. There is simply no way to avoid sacrifice.
Twelve hours from now I will speak again in Kansas City, to expand and to explain further our energy program. Just as the search for solutions to our energy shortages has now led us to a new awareness of our Nation's deeper problems, so our willingness to work for those solutions in energy can strengthen us to attack those deeper problems.
I will continue to travel this country, to hear the people of America. You can help me to develop a national agenda for the 1980's. I will listen and I will act. We will act together. These were the promises I made 3 years ago, and I intend to keep them.
Little by little we can and we must rebuild our confidence. We can spend until we empty our treasuries, and we may summon all the wonders of science. But we can succeed only if we tap our greatest resources -- America's people, America's values, and America's confidence.
I have seen the strength of America in the inexhaustible resources of our people. In the days to come, let us renew that strength in the struggle for an energy-secure nation.
In closing, let me say this: I will do my best, but I will not do it alone. Let your voice be heard. Whenever you have a chance, say something good about our country. With God's help and for the sake of our Nation, it is time for us to join hands in America. Let us commit ourselves together to a rebirth of the American spirit. Working together with our common faith we cannot fail.
Thank you and good night.
(Thanks to Right Wing News)
May 4, 2005
Update - For those concerned... "Off with his head!" is from, I think, Alice and Wonderland. It is a reference to the days of kings and absolute power. It means throw him out. I am not recommending that anyone actually behead Bush.
So all day it has been in my head. Especially relevant is:
Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn't talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony.
Just look. What else is there to say? (And it's right near Santa Cruz, too...) (P.S. the specifics translate to no power, no water, no sewer...)
Thanks to The Housing Bubble blog.
In a recent post I slyly referred to something that I assumed my readers already knew about. That was a mistake, and the subject deserves much wider attention. Bloggers may have heard about it, but the general public certainly has not - and they should.
At the White House Correspondent's Dinner Laura Bush said the following:
Taking listeners inside the private White House residence, Bush described her typical evening with the President.Then she said:
"Nine o'clock. Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep and I'm watching 'Desperate Housewives' - with Lynne Cheney. Ladies and gentlemen, I am a desperate housewife," Bush deadpanned with perfect comic timing.
Or as Laura Bush noted on Saturday night about her husband and the ranch in Texas: "George didn't know much about ranches when we bought the place. ... But I'm proud of George. He's learned a lot about ranching since that first year when he tried to milk the horse. What's worse, it was a male horse."Meanwhile, the Republicans are outlawing cheerleading in Texas,
The first lady got even more laughs when she talked about how she went out one night with Cheney's wife, Lynne, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Bush confidante Karen Hughes to Chippendales, a club where women tuck cash in male dancers' skimpy drawers.
"I wouldn't even mention it, except (Supreme Court Justices) Ruth Ginsberg and Sandra Day O'Connor saw us there," Bush deadpanned. "I won't tell you what happened, but Lynne's Secret Service code name is now 'Dollar Bill.' "
By a 65-56 vote, the House gave preliminary approval to a bill sponsored by Rep. Al Edwards, D-Houston, curbing "sexually suggestive" routines by cheerleaders, drill teams or other public school performance groups.
I was JUST sitting down to write a post about how I have realized I just don't watch cable TV news anymore, when I saw this at DailyKos: Extending the debate. The post talks about Steve Gilliard's post News is news. Steve writes,
If CNN basically covers this story all Saturday, it's news. It's not a debate. It is news, and malaria isn't. Instead of wishing it wasn't news, we need to subvert it. We need to discuss it in wider terms, class, race, sex. We need to bring depth to the debate. I mean this story gets weirder by the day. But if you don't engage it, bring different perspectives to it, the media gets away clean again. When people say "you don't cover this story" people think "liberal whiner". If they want to talk about runaway brides, let's talk about runaway brides, but intelligently, questioning the sex roles of men and women and the economic cost and pressure in a large wedding. There is fertile ground for smart people, but they have to seize the target and change the debate.Good for Steve! The Right's strategy has been to talk about everything in terms of their underlying ideology. Everything comes back to market solutions, etc. And that is what we need to do, too. We need to explain everything in terms of democracy and community.
One of the great tricks of conservative pundits was to talk about ANY topic. No matter what it was, they had an opinion, got face time and then book deals. They saw this as fertile ground to extend the debate. We have to engage these issues and bring new perspectives on them.
Bush announced his plan to turn Social Security into a welfare program for the poor only. And the Right has already started saying we need to get rid of the program, complaining that everyone else has to "subsidize' the poor... Pardon My English: Progressive Indexing of Social Security: Bend Over Middle Class:
The idea that those earning $25,000 annually or even twice that much, or three or four times that much for that matter, should be subsidizing seniors who apparently haven’t had enough ambition to drag their asses down to the Wal Mart and get a job as a greeter is ludicrous.Nasty...
(P.S. How many lies can you spot in the piece? For example, Clinton never said people earning $30,000 were "rich." He did ask for an income tax on Social Security recipients with incomes above $30,000. But these are RETIRED people wo are not working -- think about how much you have to have in the bank to get $30,000... Why SHOULDN'T they pay income taxes?)
Thanks to The Daou Report.
President Talks to God left me with this in my head... (Really, read it all...STILL so relevant... and take the poll.)
Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child's balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying.
Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool's gold mouthpiece
The hollow horn plays wasted words
Proves to warn
That he not busy being born
Is busy dying.
Temptation's page flies out the door You follow, find yourself at war Watch waterfalls of pity roar You feel to moan but unlike before You discover That you'd just be One more person crying.
So don't fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It's alright, Ma, I'm only sighing.
As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don't hate nothing at all
Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Made everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It's easy to see without looking too far
That not much
Is really sacred.
While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have
To stand naked.
An' though the rules of the road have been lodged
It's only people's games that you got to dodge
And it's alright, Ma, I can make it.
Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.
You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks
They really found you.
A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy
Insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not fergit
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to.
Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to.
For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something
They invest in.
While some on principles baptized
To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him.
While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in.
But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it's alright, Ma, if I can't please him.
Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn't talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony.
While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer's pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death's honesty
Won't fall upon them naturally
Must get lonely.
My eyes collide head-on with stuffed graveyards
False gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough
What else can you show me?
And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They'd probably put my head in a guillotine
But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only.
Chris Bowers is asking his readers to Pull The Plug on PBS
'How your vote can get you fired' looks at different state laws. Of course, that assumes laws are sill being enforced...
Everybody! Must See! When The President Talks To God
Thanks to Pitviper Kos Diary where the first comment posted is "For a second there it was almost like I was in America or something."
Update - Downoad the song for free through this BOPNews post.
May 3, 2005
And when the dollar bubble finally bursts . . oh man. If you’ve ever heard the joke about the pig, the monkey and the cork, you have some idea what to expect. Which is why hopeful talk about a “soft landing” or a “smooth adjustment” makes me laugh. By now it should be obvious: We’re not going to stop until somebody or something makes us stop – just as a jumbo jet in vertical descent doesn’t stop until the ground makes it stop.Oh, the joke? Well, it's the kind of joke Laura Bush might tell at a correspondent's dinner, but certainly not appropriate for Seeing the Forest.
I was thinking about global warming and nuclear energy again today.
One of the problems with nuclear energy is disposal of the fuel after it is used because it's radioactive. But think about this: when we burn carbon-based fuels we are just dumping the by-products into the air. That is the reason we have global warming, as well as I-don't-know-how-many deaths from resulting respiratory and other illnesses. So the problem of disposing of used fuel rods really should be placed in the context of what we are already doing and the disastrous results.
I think we have to do whatever we can to stop putting carbon into the air. Replacing the emissions from cars and coal-or-oil-burning power plants with the fear that used fuel rods might somehow escape their containers 10,000 years from now seems like a fair trade-off. We can spend that time finding out where to put the fuel rods instead of putting carbon and pollutants into the air. And a lot of people would literally breathe a whole lot easier if we stopped dumping car and power plant exhaust into the air as well. And there's that whole war and terrorism problem that comes form the need for oil and the things people do to get it...
Also, I don't think there is a risk of meltdown or other escaping contamination anymore, because of new reactor designs.
That said, I don't believe that it is possible to safely build and operate nuclear power plants in the U.S. under the supervision and policies of the current government. I don't think it can be safely done as a for-profit private-sector enterprise and we know that this administration would cut corners on safety and regulations even if it wasn't for-profit.
Update - A reader sent a few links to bloggers and articles on this:
Matt Yglesias and Mark Kleiman's thoughts on nuclear energy
Stewart Brand and other environmentalists give nuclear a second look
Grist and its readers debate nuclear energy
I was listening to a radio talk show today and someone called in and said, "I used to be a democrat", but...
Now come on! How any times have I heard that call? How many times have I seen that letter to the editor? It's the oldest trick in the book. A basic principle of influence is "the actions of similar others," where people tend to do things because others do. (This is so strong in people that suicides can even work this way.)
Searching for examples of this I came across a post by the great Oliver Willis, in which he writes,
"Ya sort of remind me of the individuals who call programs like C-span's Wall Street Journal or talk shows and begin their assault on the Democrats with, "I used to be a Democrat...but" ... then go on to prove that they have never been a Democrat and are very likely a Republican seminar caller, or a shill for the establishment."When you hear someone saying this, you might be encountering a pro. Or at least a trained volunteer.
Thom Hartmann calls Bush out on yet another lie here.
Update at Paperwight's Fair Shot.
May 2, 2005
Angry Bear compares the pensions given in different countries. In Luxembourg workers get 102% of their average pay. In Austria, Hungary, Spain and Turkey you get 75%.
We get 36-38%.
In parts of Europe the workweek is 35 hours. ("In 2001, France’s national planning agency found “indisputable” evidence that work-time reduction was creating vast numbers of new jobs, helping to bring unemployment down from 12.5 percent in 1997 to an eighteen-year low of 8.6 percent.")
And what about vacations?
Many Americans, who have no legally-mandated right to paid vacations, suffer from “vacation deficit disorder.” A typical U.S. worker earns only 13.8 vacation days per year, while 22.5 million private sector workers have no paid vacation at all.Now figure in free health care for everyone, paid parental leave, better working conditions and America's increasing concentration of wealth and you just have to ask, Who is our economy FOR, anyway?
Across the Atlantic, the European Union (EU) Working Time Directive requires a minimum of four weeks paid leave each year for all employees, and several EU countries have five weeks (25 working days) of vacation by law. Dutch, German, and Italian workers have gained roughly 30 vacation days, on average, through collective bargaining.
In 1998, a national strike shut down Denmark over the demand for a sixth week of vacation, later phased-in through five additional paid leave days.
No wonder Republicans hate Europe. Europe is setting an example. All we have to do is see it.
May 1, 2005
Andy Stephenson, an activist investigating voting machine fraud in Florida and Ohio, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Like a lot of folks on our side, he has no money and thus, of course, no health insurance. Someone from Democratic Underground managed to get him checked into John Hopkins (one of the few hospitals equipped to handle his case), but he needs $50,000 in cash to pay for his treatment. Not a good position to be in.
Send contributions to Andy Stephenson, P. O. Box 25624, Seattle, WA 98165-1124, or visit Paypal and contribute to email address Andy_Stephenson@comcast.net.
But certainly a whole lot better one than, say, just a few years back. Why? The power of the Internet to connect activists at the grassroots. Nothing could demonstrative the transformative nature of this better than the "campaign" to save Andy's life. In less than three full days, via a posting on D.U. and postings to email lists and blogs, his friends have managed to raise $20,000 to pay for his surgery.
That's right. $20,000. Most of it, as far as I could tell by scanning through the 1000 post thread on DU, in small donations. This is without any exposure in conventional media, and (as far as I can tell) without having many of the "big guns" in the blogosphere weigh in (this also shows the power of the blogosphere's long tail - your story doesn't have to be on the top line of the leading blogs to make an impact and reach a large audience).
We are not alone. Take heart, activists. There is hope - if life comes along and knocks you down, there's going to be someone there to pick you up. Probably a lot of someones.
... and the mainstream media still haven't picked up on this. Possibly one of the best "human interest" stories to come along in quite a while, one that ties into some of the hippest trends imaginable, and three days later... nothing. Hey, you there, mr. and ms. "journalist" person, want a scoop? Cover this story!