June 30, 2005
In the post Democrats: The Party of Losers, BopNews blogger AaronBurrFan is writing about the Joe Bidens who repeat right-wing talking points, and the effect this has on the public perception of Democrats. He says that a lot of the public supports Progressives, "but they do not consider Democrats a progressive party."
Indeed, what has been going on for the past six months is that progressives within the Democratic Party have been fighting tooth and nail, this has hurt Bush, and conservative empty Democrats have taken credit for the victories. And progressives - as seen in their support for Hillary Clinton and Bob Casey - are quite willing to let this happen. [. . .] As long insider Democrats insist on running on empty and mistake carping and whining for fighting, and as long as progressives seek to work with insiders instead of unseating them, the Democrats will not be in charge. Oh sure the Republicans will screw themselves over, but that won't redound to our benefit. It will just help a different group of Republicans. They are good at the endless outsider thing. Americans can smell unprincipled corruption in the Democratic Party, and will accept the principled corruption of a McCain instead.He also refers to a David Sirota post, Why the Public Believes Dems Stand for Nothing. Sirota writes,
- When you vote with Republicans for an energy bill that showers huge oil/gas companies with massive tax breaks at a time of record deficits, and that energy bill won't lower the cost of gasoline, Americans will believe you stand for nothing.I completely agree, BUT... (expanding on comments I left at the BopNews post...)
[. . .]
- When you say you are for economic fairness, and then your top leaders start negotiating the elimination of the Estate Tax that falls on the wealthiest 2 percent of citizens, Americans will believe you stand for nothing.
[. . .] If the party really wants America to believe it stands for something, then the party has to actually stand for something – not just talk about standing for something. Americans aren't stupid – they know the difference between lip service, and action.
I think that as we articulate the vision of the kind of country/society we want and argue for that vision, that more and more people will come to agree. Then people will elect candidates who share that vision, and will support Progressive issues.
This is a long-term project, and it requires a lot of work focusing and articulating that vision (think tanks, etc. and the MONEY to fund them). It also requires a lot of effort advocating that vision to the public-at-large (advocacy communications organizations and the MONEY to fund them).
This is how the Right has accomplished so much. They reached out to the general public to PERSUADE them. They spent decades articulating their vision and communicating it to the public. (That's the nice wording -- they also use threats and intimidation and trickery...) They have put literally billions of dollars into their movement-building efforts.
So I think it isn't JUST a matter of politics and electoral tactics - and of getting the Bidens and DLCers out. The public used to support Progressive ideals. The Right came along and spent decades persuading the public to instead support their side. I think the Bidens and DLCers are just acknowledging the "facts on the ground." So while we should pressure them to be more supportive of Progressive views, we have to also work to get the general public people BACK, so the Bidens and DLCers will feel that there is more widespread support for more Progressive views. To accomplish this we have to start making the BASIC CASE again that democracy and community are superior values. In marketing terms we need to talk about the BENEFITS of Progressive values, and reach the general public.
Let's examine why on the Right the elected officials all voice the RW talking points in unison and ours do not. Look at where the Right's people get their media training and those talking points from. That's how the RWers all know what Progressive ideas they aren't supposed to reinforce. They're educated, and that takes money and effort. They are provided with seminars on that very subject. Ours are not.
It is not that their candidates are so good. Jeeze, Bush better than Gore? I think that the Right's organizations out there "educating" the public-at-large on the Right's issues and ideology for decades paves the way for them to insert their clones into the election process. Their candidates just repeat the talking points. On the right it is the funded conservative movement that leads the way, not the party or the candidates.
Meanwhile, candidates on our side are largely on their own, and start from scratch at the start of election season. They have to "come up with issues for the campaign" and educate the public on those issues, from scratch, in a short campaign season. Their campaigns are largely independent of other Progressive campaigns, while the Right's are all coordinated.
The decades of the RW pounding away on their underlying ideology has a huge effect on the viability of candidates.
Here's what I am saying. The BopNews post (go read it) noted that X% of the public agrees that "The role of government should be to promote the principle of a strong community. America is most successful when we pull together to pursue policies that expand opportunity and create a rising prosperity for all, not just a few." But it used to be a much higher percent. In fact, it used to be a near-universal consensus. Where did that consensus GO? We're losing ground, and we're not really doing anything about it.
I think that much of the leadership of our side assumes there is still that consensus and is only now beginning to come to grips with the fact that so many of the public now believe "The role of government should be to promote the principle of self reliance. America is most successful when we have a limited government that keeps taxes low so that businesses and individuals can prosper." (That's also from the BopNews post.)
I think that part of the solution to this is to start reaching out to the broad public-at-large with a very basic underlying message that explains that democracy IS good, and community IS good, and explains why they are good, and explains the benefits of these. Marketing word: benefits.
I think that we really do have to go back to the basics, because the Right has spent decades and billions in their effort to break down that consensus. And they are succeeding.
It's like being college professors and realizing that we have to go back and start over and teach all of our students that 2 plus 2 really does equal four, and explaining why they should know that, and what they will get out of knowing that. We have been assuming that everyone knows that and we are wrong. Meanwhile the Right has been out there telling them 2 plus 2 really equals 5 and those pointy-headed professors are trying to trick them.
So the Joe Bidens, recognizing that the public thinks 2 + 2 = 5, and recognizing that they are rewarded for going along with that, go along with that. It's not just that we have to put pressure on them, it's that we ALSO have to get going on the long, hard slog of reaching the public-at-large and rebuilding that broad base of support for 2+2=4.
You may have noticed a change in the blog description on the left. It now reads: "A
weblog web magazine for Liberals who are FED UP with Bush and the Right!"
Oliver Willis says, "I Don’t Want To Ever Hear Again About The Bush Administration Not Being Guided By Polls."
"Fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here."
"Taking the war to the terrorists."
"He gased his own people."
"Social Security is going broke."
"The media is liberal."
"They dumped babies out of incubators."
"Environmentalists care more about trees than jobs."
"The science on global warming is inconclusive."
"Children trapped in failing public schools."
These are all phrases that have a "ring" to them. They all evoke in the mind an image that leads to certain conclusions. They all are (or were) repeated endlessly until everyone was repeating them in their sleep.
Phrases like these come out of focus groups. Focus groups probe people's feelings and beliefs. The way this kind of focus group works is you bring together small groups of people who belong to "target demographics," and run through several catchy groups of words and ideas, and asking "If you were told so-and-so, what would you then believe about such-and-such?"
In the 90's it was "If you learned that Bill Clinton had done so-and-so would it make you more likely to vote for a Republican for Congress (Senate, etc.)?" If the focus groups concluded that when the right people learned that Bill Clinton secretly dyed his pubic hair green then they would be more likely to vote Republican, the next day stories would start circulating that Clinton dyed his pubic hair green. Rush Limbaugh would pass it along. Columnists would hint at it. E-mails would be forwarded with a joke, a joke, a line about Clinton's green pubic hair, and a couple more jokes. Rock DJs would slip it in with a snicker between tunes. The story would be everywhere.
Think about the phrase, "Fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here." What is it supposed to mean? It sounds good, but does it really make any sense as a strategy for protecting the country?
The main premise is that there is this unspecified number of mysterious "they" who "want to attack us." Another premise is that the people fighting in Iraq are the same people as these people who attacked us on 9/11. Another is that these people are somehow swarming to Iraq instead of pursuing any plans they might have to launch attacks against us here.
Like I said, maybe it sounds good, maybe it tricks the mind into relaxing and not thinking this through, but it certainly is not a realistic plan for protecting the country. The phrase is meaningless, but you are hearing it repeated everywhere.
June 29, 2005
The Wingnutosphere is going all out to reinforce Bush's claim that Iraq was behind 9/11. Some examples:
It was good to hear the commander-in-chief remind people that this is still the war against terror. Specifically, against Islamo-fascists who slaughtered 3000 Americans on September 11, 2001. ... It is not the war for democratization. It is not the war for stability. Democratization and stability are not unimportant. ... That is why we are in Iraq. ... Saddam Hussein’s regime was a crucial part of that response because it was a safety net for al Qaeda. A place where terror attacks against the United States and the West were planned. A place where Saddam’s intelligence service aided and abetted al Qaeda terrorists planning operations.
The dominant theme today will be the complaints that Bush exploited 9/11 -- complaints that will once again reveal how critics can't remember what 9/11 actually meant.Right Wing News
...the Coalition is helping to avoid future 9/11's in America and Europe by bleeding Al-Qaeda dry in Iraq and we're encouraging a wave of freedom that will in time sweep across the Middle-East and help drain the swamp that radical Islam thrives in.Powerline,
Pelosi's claim that there is "no connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq" is mind-numbingly obtuse. Let's itemize just the huge, obvious connections: ...SoCalPundit,
It seems President Bush’s mentioning of Iraq in the same sentence as the attacks of 9/11 has set off a bit of a fire storm among the leftist elite in America. So often I hear even centrist individuals and media folk state that there is no evidence that Iraq was in any way involved in the attacks of 9/11 or any other terrorist activity for that matter. Nothing could be further from the truth.PoliPundit.com
The Iraq War was not retribution for 9/11/01, but the Iraq War has been very much about 9/11. It is about 9/11/2008 or 9/11/2012 or whatever the date, God forbid, the next large scale attack on America is scheduled to take place. It is about a U.S. President being responsible enough to act where he saw a threat so that he would not find himself waking up to another 9/11 and knowing that it happened because he had not connected the dots.
Go see the new webste of The Democratic Party.
[Let me quote just one key part of this statement:
The principal obstacle to peace, stability, and the reconstruction of Iraq is the occupation. The occupation is the problem, not the solution. Iraqi sovereignty and independence must be restored. The occupation must end in all its forms, including military bases and economic domination.
Here's the "simple" version of the message we need to be pounding away at the media with: The occupation is the problem, not the solution.
Make this your mantra.
Every time you're confronted with a "stay the course" or "you break it, you buy it" argument, repeat this back to them: The occupation is the problem, not the solution.
You have it from the horse's mouth. Iraqi labor activists at the grassroots. The occupation is the problem, not the solution.
Sisters and Brothers:
What follows is an historic document, a joint statement drafted by the leaders of three of Iraq’s main labor organizations and leaders of US Labor Against the War. The statement is the culmination of a sweeping tour of the US by the Iraqis who spoke eloquently in opposition to the occupation of their country. They spoke to their audiences of the threat and likely consequences of privatization of their national resources and industries and the importance of establishing free trade unions in Iraq.
The tour inspired thousands of trade unionists in the US to intensify the campaign against the war and occupation in Iraq. It brought hope and encouragement to the Iraqis who recognized that they had genuine support among the people of the occupying power. The statement, in English and Arabic, will be distributed throughout the US and Iraq as well as internationally and will be posted to the USLAW website. We hope that it will encourage unions everywhere to take a stand against the occupation and in support of the courageous Iraqi labor movement.
The English language version of the statement is posted at HERE (PDF).
The Arabic language version of the statement is posted at HERE (PDF).
We encourage you to distribute this widely throughout your unions and organizations, and put it in your organization’s newspaper and on your web pages.
FRAMESHOP has questions that we, as Americans, must face. The persecution of Christians must be addressed! Here are just a few, go read the rest:
Can anyone think of a day in our national calendar when Federal and State offices are closed because of a Christian Holiday?
Can anyone think of one President or Vice President, or any member of the President's cabinet who was a church-going Christian?
Can anyone name a Representative or Senator in Congress who has not been forced to resign once he or she became openly Christian?
Can anyone think of a state level representative who openly practices Christianity?
Can anyone think of a state or federal judge who has been appointed to the bench or elected despite being Christian?
Can anyone think of any U.S. diplomats who retained their jobs once it was discovered that they were raised Christian?
Can anyone think of any Christian symbols that are mounted and celebrated in our nation's capital on an annual basis?
Can anyone think of a single town in America where it is safe to attend a Christian church?
Can anyone think of a single place in America where Christian Churches have not been the subject of regular abuse from the public?
Can anyone think of a single U.S. University that does not have a quota system to guard against the hiring of too many Christian professors?
[. . .] And if there's any time left over, try changing the word "Christian" to the word "Muslim" in a few of the questions and see if the answers are any different.
As Chris notes, it's hard to reconcile the happy talk of the press releases with the reality they experience every day.Read Chris' entire post from Iraq.News flash: Iraq is a disaster. I've been back one day, and the airport road was the worst I've ever seen it. We had to go around a fire-fight between mujahideen and Americans while Iraqi forces sat in the shade of date palms on the side of the road, their rifles resting across their laps. My driver pointed to a group of men in a white pickup next to me. “They are mujahideen,” he said. “They are watching the Americans.” Indeed, they were, and so intently that they paid no attention to me in the car next to them. We detoured around two possible car bombs that had been cordoned off while Iraqis cautiously approached.The authorities say Iraq is doing great. So who should Chris believe, Rumsfeld or his own lying eyes?
Dark people. People who are over there, not here. Other people. People who write with funny characters. People who listen to music with lots of drums.
You know who I mean. Get them. Get them all. Turn them into glass. Make them glow.
I'm reading this Moonie Times story, Democrats reject link to attacks on America, and this line jumps out at me:
A bipartisan group of legislators is calling for the beginning of a pullout in October 2006...OCTOBER 2006? Just before the mid-term elections? So Republicans can campaign on the war being over?
If there really are any Democrats involved in this scam...
larre over at The Left Coaster provides a common sense retort to the conventional wisdom:
"Stay the course" in Iraq and the civil war we have ignited will go on as long as we are there. Pull out, and civil war will continue anyway. I see no third way. Not in a world where reality has a nasty habit of intruding on imperial fantasies.
Isn't it time to acknowledge that precisely because there are no good alternatives, the United States should simply quit Iraq? Now?
A blunt and accurate truth that no Democrat dares speak:
Here's another question about the common wisdom. Strictly from the standpoint of our own national interest, weren't we far better off with a strong-man like Hussein controlling the intractable factions of Iraq and providing a counter-weight to the greater threat of Iran -- as Bush's father implicitly acknowledged by refusing to go on to Baghdad when he brought to an end the Gulf War and opted for controlling from "no fly zones" two thirds of Iraq?
Bilmon focuses on how Bush's speech writers manipulate the truth with adjectives, Same Old Same Old:
But I do want to take a longer minute to point out a subtle, and at times bizarre, shift in the propaganda rhetoric -- one that, as predicted, appears to set the stage (or at least leaves the door open) for further negotiations with some of the bad guys. It starts with this line:Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. (emphasis added.)
Many of them?? So what murderous ideology do the rest of them follow? Utilitarianism? This use of an adjective that's at least several terrorists short of "all" or "every" is echoed in this line:Some of the violence you see in Iraq is being carried out by ruthless killers who are converging on Iraq to fight the advance of peace and freedom. (emphasis added)
Digby picks up the same theme as Bilmon with an acerbic touch Same Old Same Old. Apparently it's asking too much for Democrats to be as critical of Bush as David Gergen:
Is anybody watching Joe Biden saying that the president has leveled with the American people tonight (as opposed to Cheney and Rummy) and he hopes that it has bought him some time? Nice. Paula Zahn has been very skeptical of the speech, particularly all the 9/11 talk, but Joe very helpfully told her that Bush really did a pretty good job and that hopefully he'll now have the time to fix the problems in Iraq. He was actually more supportive than David Gergen who was personally "offended" by the evocation of 9/11 but made the political judgment that it would work.
Can't be too harsh about Fearless Leader. Wouldn't be prudent:
Democrats are so helpful to the president. They're still stinking traitors and all, but they are very nice people. They've managed to convince Blitzer and Zahn that their own reactions to the speech were too harsh.
Think Progress has the numbers and Gergen has the analysis. Bush linked 9/11 to Iraq five times. Gergen pointed out that as offensive as linking 9/11 and Iraq was, it will probably work and buy Bush six months to two more years to get Iraq right.
As long as Kerry, Biden, Bayh, Clinton and the rest of the "stay the course" Democrats keep playing pussyfoot with Bush, they will continue to be perceived as weak. Bush just played the same card Rove played. Democrats are unpatriotic, weak and their opposition kills American soldiers.
After three more years of Bush, Iraq won't be a quagmire anymore. It will be a cesspool. "Stay the course" means Bush and Karl Rove are right. Democrats need to go after Bush the same way they went after Karl Rove.
June 28, 2005
The Veterans Administration assumed it would have to take care of 23,553 patients who are veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but that number had been revised upward to 103,000, Nicholson told a House of Representatives panel.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - National Restaurant Association Chairman Craig Miller was among a select group to meet today with President George W. Bush to discuss Social Security reform and its impact on the restaurant industry.
... "The National Restaurant Association is playing an active role in the Social Security debate representing the restaurant industry, which has more employees than any other industry paying into the Social Security program," said Miller. "The restaurant industry is the nation's largest private-sector employer with 12.2 million employees whose average age is 26 years old, and who contribute more than $20 billion into the Social Security program each year. ... "
At the meeting ... Miller pledged to the President that the Association would continue to educate restaurateurs and their employees about the importance of fixing Social Security. The Association's priorities for reform include: no payroll tax increases; solvency for the program to provide a government safety net for all retirees; and, an opportunity for workers to invest a portion of their payroll taxes in voluntary individually-owned and directed personal retirement accounts that can be used to enhance benefits.
Miller was joined by 16 other chairmen or high-ranking members of boards of directors representing some of the largest and most influential trade groups in Washington, including: National Mining Association; American Chemistry Council; Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc.; American Bankers Association; Aluminum Association Board; Financial Services Forum; Securities Industry Association; Grocery Manufacturers of America; Business Roundtable; Bond Market Association; American Forest and Paper Association; Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Inc.; American Insurance Association; Edison Electric Institute; and National Retail Federation. For more information about the Association's position on Social Security reform or its other pro-employee/pro-employer public policy issues, visit www.restaurant.org. [emphasis added]It's dated today.
The National Restaurant Association is an example of the Right's takeover of the lobbying industry by the K-Street Project, converting these organizations into another arm of The Party. From Welcome to the Machine,
The corporate lobbyists who once ran the show, loyal only to the parochial interests of their employer, are being replaced by party activists who are loyal first and foremost to the GOP. Through them, Republican leaders can now marshal armies of lobbyists, lawyers, and public relations experts--not to mention enormous amounts of money--to meet the party's goals.Americans United says, "Compare that list of organizations to the list of the pro-privatizers in COMPASS" (note that this is a PDF document). Take a look at the organizations on this list, and you'll understand the power of the K-Street Project. It adds tens of millions of dollars a year to the Right's overall takeover efforts. Please take the time to read a few of the articles I point to with that K-Street Project link.
This signals that the assault on Social security is only entering a new phase.
My Compaq laptop is being repaired. The little round hole where you plug in the CD power cord - called a "DC Power Jack" - is loose and I had to fiddle with the thing to get it to charge. And every day it was a little harder to get it to connect... Anyway it was still under warranty for one more month so I sent it in. (Readers who remember the Democractic National Convention last year know about my getting a new laptop...) I get it back Friday.
I have a Mac at home, which I am using now. But it is a different system, I don't have anything set up the way I like it, the bookmarks are all different, and I have to configure all the blogging software. And it is not portable. So I don't know if I will be posting as much as usual.
June 26, 2005
I started this off as a comment to Dave's post, but I got rather long winded, so I decided to write a dueling banjo post.
My position is that the only way to provide any semblance of a stable Iraq is to demand immediate withdrawal. In place of the pottery barn rule I am invoking the Humpty Dumpty rule. If you run over a piece of pottery or an egg with a tank, you can't put it back together again. Just as withdrawal was the only path to peace in Vietnam, withdrawal from Iraq is the only path to peace in the Middle East. Even if we demand an immediate withdrawal, a realistic withdrawal plan will not happen unless Bush is impeached or a Democratic President is elected in 2008.
Nobody thinks the United States can withdraw in less than two years. Three or four years is probably a more realistic time frame. Since Bush and the Theocons have no intention of ever withdrawing, a Democratic President in 2008 will have to start from scratch and develop a withdrawal plan. That will take at least a year and maybe more. Unless Bush is impeached the minimum length of Bush's Iraq war is already pretty much locked in at eight or nine years.
The longer Bush and the Theocons are allowed to completely ignore the basic question of what their goal is, aside from building Democracy, the more likely Bush's Iraq war will extend into double digits. Rumsfield identified the problem that the Theocons intentionally established. How do you accomplish a goal that has no measureable metrics? Bush and the Theocons have not been failing to plan, they have been planning to fail. They never had any intention of leaving Iraq. Their unstated goal has always been a garrison state similar to South Korea.
Now for my counter argument. The first step in rebutting any argument is examining the assumptions it is based on. Starting at the top and working down:
America leaving Iraq now means leaving the people and the oil there under the control of the Islamic Republic that arises after we leave.
As the recent election in Iran demonstrates, leaving in fifteen years may also mean leaving the people and the oil there under the control of the Islamic Republic that arises after we leave. Continuing an immoral and illegal war may very well make it more likely that Iraq reverts to an Islamic Republic. How does continuing the war make an Islamic Republic any less likely?
leaving Iraq now likely means ever-expanding terrorist war against us --
According to Peter Goss the Iraq war is a better training ground for terrorists than the Afghanistan war was. Since the Afghanistan war against Russia provided the training for Al Qaida, the logical conclusion is that staying in Iraq means an ever-expanding terrorist war against us.
If we leave, what happens to the people in Iraq? Think about what an Islamic Republic means for the women there. Then think about what that means to US. Leaving could mean that the people who are driving bombs into crowds are likely to end up running the country. We will leave behind millions of people who hate us (many hating us for leaving after starting what we started there), but who will then have the resources of an oil-rich nation at their disposal.
The only thing continuing Bush's Iraq war forestalls is a Sunni government. Recent reports indicate that a Shiite government is capable of being every bit as repressive as Saddam was. Millions of people already hate us enough to want to blow up every American in sight. Staying will only increase the resistance, multiply the number of terrorists and provide them a superior training ground in urban guerilla tactics. When they run out of Americans to practice their new skills on, either before we leave because we manage to harden the green zone or after we withdraw, they are likely to utilize their new skills on targets in Europe and America.
Unless we install a puppet government that does not have popular support, the Iraqi government is likely to join OPEC and sell their oil exactly the same way Saddam did. Whether Iraq sells their oil to China or to the United States, neither the total supply of oil or the price will be affected. The primary factors that affect the price of a barrel of oil are the total monthly supply that OPEC delivers and the total world wide demand for that oil. The price of oil gets indirect assistance from market manipulation by Big Oil of distribution channels and refinery capacity. Whether we leave now or in fifteen years is not likely to affect the equation and how the market will be affected is sheer speculation.
I suggest we take Bush out of our thoughts for a minute and think about where Iraq is today, and what needs to be done to bring real peace.
I have thought about it and concluded that nothing the United States can do will bring real peace to an area of the world that has not known real peace for centuries. How is a white Christian nation going to solve religious, tribal and cultural conflicts that preceed the Crusades?
I think that restoring order, if done right, would mean much LESS violence than we are seeing now. It means having enough people there to help a legitimate government start tracking down and jailing the people who are setting off bombs, which would enable Iraq to start building a real police and justice system.
The only way of restoring order in Iraq may very well be a Shiite tyrant just as bad as Saddam. Is there any evidence that in the next fifteen or twenty years we can resolve the deep seated differences that created Saddam in the first place? Iraq had a real police and justice system under Saddam. The next police and justice system is more likely than not going to be a mirror image of the one we dismantled.
We broke it, we HAVE TO fix it. Even if it means restoring a draft. It would certainly be nice if we could only draft the kids of people who voted FOR this war.
I recall someone saying "we have to deal with things as they are, not as we wish them to be." A draft is even more unpopular than Bush's Iraq war. The great thing about a voluntary military is that it makes it impossible to continue a war that the American people do not support. Hopefully, this will be a stark reminder to Congress and the President when some fool wants to invade another country thirty years from now, but I doubt it.
The most important false assumption that the war was based on is that the Iraqi people are less patriotic, less nationalistic and less religious than Americans. That has clearly proven false. The Iraqi people hate Americans for invading their country as much as we would hate Muslims for invading America. America has very shallow support from the factions that we are putting into power. For example, if we do not give the oil city of Kirkurk to the Kurds, they will prove to be very uncertain and troublesome allies. The inherent problem of conflict between Turkey and the Kurds has been ignored, but it will not go away. Until we start focusing on an exit strategy, the Kurdish problem will continue to be ignored.
That brings me back to the fundamental question of how America develops an exit strategy that leads to maximum social stability possible under current conditions. Without a demand for an immediate exit strategy Bush and the Theocons will continue their plan for Iraq to fail. It was never their intention to leave Iraq following a military victory. Only by focusing on the earliest possible exit strategy will anyone even begin to develop an exit strategy.
I believe that in Rumsfield's testimony to Congress he mentioned "six, eight or twelve years." Condi has mentioned a "generational war," which I presume means twenty or thirty years. Bush and the Theocons have no intention of implementing or even discussing an exit strategy. It is very clear that nothing and nobody can make them discuss an exit strategy.
Even after a U.S. exit strategy is agreed on, I don't think two years is a pragmatic time frame for complete withdrawal. it may not be realistically possible in less than three or four years even if Bush agreed to start planning for immediate withdrawal today. My prediction for the earliest possible date for final withdrawal of troops is 2012, which puts Bush's Iraq war at nine years minimum.
Demanding an immediate withdrawal is the only way to make sure that Bush's Iraq war does not exceed the fifteen years that America spent to absolutely no avail in Vietnam. Withdrawing from Vietnam resulted in devastating collateral consequences to the entire region of Southeast Asia. Ben Stein's analysis to the contrary, the actualy cause of those consequences was not American withdrawal, but the Vietnam war itself. The logic of Ben Stein's analysis is that the damage of a car wreck is caused by an out of control car finally coming to a halt.
Vietnam is better off than if we had continued bombing and killing North Vietnamese people. Iraq will be better off the sooner we stop killing Iraqi people and the sooner we stop training a whole new generation of terrorists.
From Parade Magazine's Personality Parade in today's Sunday paper. (Onine archive not yet ready.)
Paris Hilton's sister Nicky, is a blond by birth, but is now a brunette.
For Nicky, going dark was tricky, because the color often looks flat, as it did on Renee Zellweger. Nicky's colorist, Jeff John of Beverly Hills' B2V salon, does her hair with a two-step process, then seals the color with a shine-enhancing glaze also favored by Teri Hatcher.Also, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan,
...is on record as saying America's retirement system must be fixed to take into account the coming surge of retirees. He believes that benefit cuts in Social Security "will almost surely be at least part of the solution." He also approves of the creation of private accounts but says they have to be introduced in a cautious, gradual way.This is how it's done. This is how to reach America with a message.
(I swear that I was really only going to blog the first part of this, as a joke post. I was tying and glancing at the page when I saw the right-wing Social Security plant.)
America leaving Iraq now means leaving the people and the oil there under the control of the Islamic Republic that arises after we leave. (Think about what that means for the women, for example.) It probably means that much of the rest of the Middle East also becomes an Islamic Republic, and their oil (and the resources that oil control brings) will eventually be denied to the West, perhaps even used against the West. And because of the current situation there, leaving Iraq now likely means ever-expanding terrorist war against us -- against you and me.
Invading Iraq really, really did NOT make us safer. That is not just a political slogan. This would not have happened had we not invaded, but it will happen if we leave, having invaded. It was not you and me who brought this on, but it is you and me who will pay.
The Bush people like to talk about "facts on the ground." Well, regardless of how we feel about what Bush has done, the facts on the ground NOW are that he has initiated a sequence of events, and we have to deal with things as they are, not as we wish them to be.
And, yes, a lot of this IS about control of the oil now. Our way of life depends on oil. That includes the fertilizer that feeds billions of people. It includes the gas to transport food and everything else we all consume. This is just today's reality. We don't have alternative energy sources in place (compare the waste from nuclear to the consequences of just dumping carbon and other pollutants into the air). We don't have efficient public transportation. We don't have energy efficient buildings.
WAIT - before you say it, think about how much you might be part of the problem. Are you absolutely and completely energy efficient? Do you think about the energy consequences of everything you routinely do -- and encourage others to do the same? Do you own a hybrid, or take public transportation or ride a bike to work? Do you have passive solar heating installed? Do you keep your furnace off except for a few blast each day? Do you go around your house turning off every light? Do you take elevators instead of stairs? Do you have any electronics on "standby" - using energy even when turned off? Think it through before you say what you were about to say.
So I think we have to SOLVE the Iraq problem, not just leave. Advocating that we just up and leave Iraq is similar to using energy in the wasteful ways we have gotten used to: It puts off the resulting problems for a while, but ultimately makes them worse.
Update - Maybe I worded some of my thoughts better in a comment I left at this excellent post:
I wonder what you think "throw in the towel" means in this case? It sure would be nice and easy and clean if it meant we could just walk away and then everything would be all right.I think that restoring order, if done right, would mean much LESS violence than we are seeing now. It means having enough people there to help a legitimate government start tracking down and jailing the people who are setting off bombs, which would enable Iraq to start building a real police and justice system.
But it doesn't mean that. We started a WAR. We CAN'T just "throw in the towel" and make everything OK again. It is WAAAYYY too late for that.
If we leave, what happens to the people in Iraq? Think about what an Islamic Republic means for the women there. Then think about what that means to US. Leaving could mean that the people who are driving bombs into crowds are likely to end up running the country. We will leave behind millions of people who hate us (many hating us for leaving after starting what we started there), but who will then have the resources of an oil-rich nation at their disposal.
[. . .] When we all said "Not in our name!" it wasn't just a political slogan. It was REAL. Bush started a war in our name, and now they are at war with US - namely you and me. Just leaving abandons the Iraqi people to the mess WE (Bush, in our name) created, and in the longer term possibly brings it here. Perhaps Bush has f**ked us even more than we already think. I suggest we take Bush out of our thoughts for a minute and think about where Iraq is today, and what needs to be done to bring real peace.
We broke it, we HAVE TO fix it. Even if it means restoring a draft. It would certainly be nice if we could only draft the kids of people who voted FOR this war.
In Real Inflation Rate, Left Coaster explains something I have wondered about. How can inflation be "under control" when the price of a house is rising more than 20% a year? When health insurance is rising just as fast? When the eletric bill, cable TV bill, phone bill and food bill are going up, up up?
And Iraq hasn’t just turned into what bin Laden wanted Afghanistan to be, it’s turned into something which is a lot better. It’s more centrally located, it has oil, because it has oil the US can’t disengage from it without potentially catastrophic economic consequences. And, even better, it’s a different type of guerilla warfare – it’s an urban insurgency. Those skills are one that al-Q’aeda didn’t have a lot of. They came of age in a rural insurgency. So, as an organization, and as a movement of people who believe in the Caliphate, Iraq’s been a perfect training ground.
[. . .] The plan, now, is as it always has been. Iraq is to be turned into a failed state or a state friendly to the Mujahideen. From Iraq, the newly trained and militant jihadis will be able to destabilize other regions – by which I mean Saudi Arabia. It has always been the end goal, and with a base in Iraq it is much more achievable. And with some of that black gold, or the money from that black gold, in Iraq, in their hands – things will be looking good.Long after Bush has left the scene, the damage will still be increasing...
[. . .] Meanwhile, as always, the goal in Afghanistan is to turn Pakistan. Pakistan, the Muslim nation which has achieved a great thing – it has created nuclear weapons and the delivery systems. The northern part of Pakistan is so rebellious that they have fought Pakistani military forces regularly over the last few years and Musharraf is derided as an American lapdog. If the Coalition can be allowed to rile up the locals enough, aided by strategic assassinations and bombings, that the Taliban, who at least kept the peace, look good again then the question becomes how long Pakistan’s proud army, humbled by the Indians and Pakistan’s intelligence service – practically the founders and certainly the long time patrons of the Taliban, will remain quiescent. Already, for the first time in Pakistan’s history, officers refused orders and were court martialed for refusing to fight their own people. If the north rises in a nation humbled a striven by chaos, who knows who may wind up in charge?
June 25, 2005
I'm a little confused about who Karl Rove was talking about when he said "liberals" wanted to "offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."
On Hardball Dan Bartlett told Nora O'Donnell that Rove was only talking about extremist liberal groups like Move On, so he didn't understand why Democrats were complaining.
But a press release put out by Ken Mehlman listed statements by the following Democrats that were "concrete examples of liberals' failed responses to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001":
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Rep. Neil Abercrombi (D-HI), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Sen. Biden (D-DE), Sen. Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Howard Dean.
So which is it? Was Rove criticizing Democrats or "extremist liberals" or both?
I'm not going to write a rant about this because that's exactly the response the neocons want. The point of vulgar remarks like his is to be deliberately provocative, and as divisive as possible. So far this has worked very well for them. The result is that all dignity has been stripped from American discourse in favor of juvinile tricks like what's being done to the Fire Rove petition. What fun they're all having! This country has been reduced to an emotional level below that of the average three year old, turned loose and unsupervised.
The proper response is to uncover the agenda inspiring Rove's behavior and speak the truth about it. Coming to New York City and saying what he said is incredibly harmful. The aftermath of 9/11, the heroic response to it, thousands of Americans rushing to New York to help, without thought for danger or inconvenience, was one of the most noble moments in American history. To denigrate that and turn it into a cheap joke is obscene. This was, in the most profound sense, a sacred moment during which the country was utterly united.
Can't have that, can we? There's no political power to be gained from a united America, is there?
The truth that needs to be spoken about the White House and 9/11 is how well it illustrates that this administration doesn't give a damn about the welfare of the American people. If they had, they would not have lied to this city about air quality at the World Trade Center site and the workers there would have been able to protect themselves. But that might have cost some money, and delayed the opening of the Stock Market. The same is true about providing a proper cleanup of office and apartment buildings in the area. That would indeed have cost money, and it still hasn't been done properly. And as a final insult, the government has just taken back money earmarked to follow up with health studies of those damaged by their deceptions.
Also, too bad that going to war in Afghanistan was the wrong war for them. Capturing the mass murderer who killed so many Americans obviously wasn't as important as capturing Saddam, or it would have been accomplished by now. The hijacking of four planes happened under Bush's watch, and where was the air force response? Surely there was plenty of time to respond. And, where were Bush and Rove while this city's mayor nearly got killed because he rushed to the site so quickly? Circling aimlessly in a plane, then hiding in a bunker? True, Bush did eventually get here and give his cheerleader's speech, full of bravado and promises, some of which were eventually reluctantly kept.
June 24, 2005
[America no longer has a monopoly on the world's resources be it oil... or whiskey. Are we shifting from an age of abundance (at least from the perspective of Americans) to an age of scarcity? -Thomas]
On the rocks
Single-malt scotch shortage is double trouble for distillers, consumers
Another factor contributing to the shortage of single malts is their recent discovery by the under-40 crowd in China. Forget the fact that young Chinese might mix it with green tea; it is common for groups at karaoke bars to go through a bottle of scotch in an hour. Even though they may be sipping blends, it taps into the shrinking supply of single malts.
June 23, 2005
They just make up nasty shit and smear anyone that is in their way. Extremely nasty vitriolic smears that have no foundation. They do it so often that it's a wonder ANYONE even bothers with them - even themselves. But it works, and it has enabled them to take over the entire government and turn it into a Party apparatus, operating against the people.
They just keep doing it, the same way, over and over. They just lie and smear and say that absolute nastiest things they can think of. They spew hatred. And then their "noise machine" and the press pass it around, and pretty soon most people are saying "where there's smoke there must be fire."
Remember the stuff the Right said about Clinton and the Chinese?
Evidence abounds that Mr. Clinton, in acts of official perfidy that may be unparalleled in our nation’s history, accepted bribes from Red China in the form of illegal political contributions, and in exchange made policy decisions that undermined our national security to the benefit of that hostile foreign power.
Bill is Beijing's boy. He has been for a long time. He always will be. He couldn't have done more for the Chinese Communists if he were under party discipline. And, who knows? Maybe he is.
The Chinese connection exploded with the arrival of the Clinton administration. A younger crowd of American politicians had skipped the part about patriotism, about the pledge of allegiance, about loyalty not only to country but to much of anything other than themselves.
Republicans are keeping up the pressure on President Bill Clinton to explain questions about possible links between 1996 Democratic campaign contributions and decisions to share U.S. satellite technology with the Chinese government.
In the weekly GOP radio address Saturday, Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., said "the administration needs to provide Americans with direct and full answers to important questions about all of this."
Q) Senator [James Inhofe (R-OK)], during a speech you gave on the floor of the Senate on March 15th, you spoke out about China’s acquisition of our nation’s nuclear secrets and the Administration’s complicity in assisting the Chinese. You described your findings as "a story of espionage, conspiracy, deception, and cover-up with life and death implications for millions of Americans." You unambiguously implicated "a President and an Administration that deliberately chose to put national security at risk."
We used to respond to high treason in this country with a trial, a conviction and either a life sentence or a trip to the electric chair. … It is now becoming obvious, unless you are connected with the Clinton White House, that China is preparing for war.
When Bill Clinton and Al Gore came to power in January 1993, the United States was at the apex of its power. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) was then a minor player on the world’s stage, both militarily and diplomatically.
[Every argument about whether the war in Iraq is "worth" it, needs to be turned around to ask: "What else could we do/have done with the same resources?" (or less). If you want numbers, go to the Borgen Project's cost of ending poverty page. Just one example: estimates coming out of the World Food Summit were that hunger worldwide could be cut in half with an investment of just $23 billion a year. That's a radical improvement to at least a billion lives, if not more.
Or go to the ONE campaign's Why One Percent? page, and find out what 1% of the Federal National Budget ($25 billion dollars) could do.
Let's remember Eisenhower: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."]
Sign a Letter to President Bush
Ask for his support today at the upcoming G8 meeting for an unprecedented debt-aid-trade deal for the people in the poorest countries. Together as ONE, we can send President Bush to the G8 Summit carrying the compassion, justice and generosity of millions of Americans.
Watch Nelson Mandela's video (hosted by Sun Microsystems, yaay), wherein he calls on the world's leaders to act now to end AIDS and extreme poverty.
[When someone sends you one of those letters detailing all the "good works" being done in Iraq to improve the lives of the Iraqi people, your respond should be: we could have accomplished as much, or more, elsewhere, without the need to fight a war, and then do everything listed under the threat of insurgent attacks and suicide bombers.
The war and the occupation in Iraq are immoral, and this can be proven on a purely utilitarian basis: the money "invested" there could achieve a vastly greater amount of "good" elsewhere (both for the people being targeted by the spending, and the United States in terms of the good will created).
White House Chief of Staff comments on Karl Rove saying that the "motive" of liberals is they want American troops to die. Here
Andy Card just said this on CNN:Karl Rove and Andrew Card are not Republican Party officials, they are government officials. When they speak, they speak for the President and the government of the United States. This is the government of the United States telling people that liberals want American troops to die.
"Karl Rove's speech was a speech that I think reflected some of the rhetoric that a lot of people feel."
Remember the STF Rule: When right-wingers make accusations, you need to look at whether it is just a cover for something THEY are really doing. Here they are accusing Democrats of wanting to kill American troops. But who sent those troops to Iraq?
I'm devoting much of today's report to Karl Rove's vile comments denigrating half of the American public. My office overlooks Ground Zero, and I'm looking at the gaping footprint as I write this. My wife and I were in New York that day, on our way to the WTC for a morning meeting. A chance phone call dragged on a few minutes too long and most likely saved our lives. I lost friends in the towers, and when I walk past the site, as I do almost every evening, the pain is as real as it was on September 11th, 2001.Go read the roundup.
I spent my youth in Beirut during the height of Lebanon's civil war, and I fought the Syrian presence in Lebanon long before the "Cedar Revolution." I watched young boys give their lives and mothers cradle their dying children in blood-soaked arms. I've seen more bloodshed, war, and violence, and shot more guns than most of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists combined. I wouldn't presume to question the strength or dignity of a stranger, and I pity those who blithely push the right=strong, left=weak rhetoric. It says far more about their inadequacies than it does about the target of their scorn. Today, Karl Rove took that rhetoric to a new, filthy low.
The White House responded to Democratic outrage over Karl Rove's remarks that liberals in this country want our troops to die.
As you read the following remember that this is YOUR GOVERNMENT talking, paid for with YOUR taxes. The site this is from is the White House. The event was the daily press briefing. The discussion is over remarks by government employee, Deputy White House Chief of Staff and Senior White House Advisor, Karl Rove.
Q Last night Karl Rove, in a speech, accused the Democrats of trying to send the terrorists into therapy and not responding appropriately to 9/11, whereas the Republicans, he felt, responded appropriately. He's been called on to make an apology. Will Karl Rove will apologize, and is this elevating the discourse, the way you said the President will do?And then,
MR. McCLELLAN: Talking about different philosophies and different approaches? That's what Karl Rove was talking about. He was talking about the different philosophies and our different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism. And I don't know who is even making such a suggestion.
Q Harry Reid.
Q Nancy Pelosi.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I would think that they would want to be able to defend their philosophy and their approach. I mean, I know that the Democratic leadership at this point is offering no ideas and no vision for the American people, but Karl was simply pointing out the different philosophies and different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism.
Q He said the Democrats wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers. That's not injecting politics into the tragedy of September 11th?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think it's talking about the different philosophies for winning the war on terrorism. The President recognizes that the way to win the war on terrorism is to take the fight to the enemy, to stay on the offensive, and to work to spread freedom and democracy to defend the ideology of hatred that they espouse, and the ideology of tyranny and oppression.
Q So will the President ask Karl Rove to apologize?
MR. McCLELLAN: Of course not, Jessica. This is simply talking about different philosophies and different approaches. And I think you have to look at it in that context. If people want to try to engage in personal attacks instead of defending their philosophy, that's their business. But it's important to point out the different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism. And that's all he was doing.
Q So you're suggesting that Rove's approach to discussing the philosophy that Democrats -- is to say that they want to prepare indictments and seek counseling. That's their philosophy, is that what you were saying?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the comments were saying -- the conservative approach and the liberal approach is what he was talking about.
Q He was saying that that's the comparison in their philosophies?
MR. McCLELLAN: He was speaking to a political organization. There are many who have looked at the war on terrorism and said it is a law enforcement matter, that we should prosecute people. The President recognizes that it is a war and that we must stay on the offensive, we must take the fight to the enemy. The best way to defeat the enemy is to fight them abroad and bring them to justice before they can carry out their attacks here at home.
Q And the therapy? What about the therapy?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that's what he's -- and I think that's what he's talking about.
Q Scott, going back to Jessica's question. So are you saying that it's completely appropriate the way Karl Rove invoked 9/11? And what would you say to those who say that the comments were simply partisan and hurtful?And finally,
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that Karl was simply pointing out the different philosophies when it comes to winning the war on terrorism. That's what he was doing. The President of the United States -- you bring up something that's very important -- has worked to elevate the discourse in this town and reach out to get things done, and that's what he's done. Now, Karl was simply pointing out the differences that exist in how we approach the war on terrorism and how different people view it in a different way.
Q Well, what's the philosophy he's --
MR. McCLELLAN: So what -- Jessica, I'm sorry, I'm going to keep going to others. You've had your opportunity.
Q What is the -- I mean, the understanding of the Democrat's philosophy, then?
MR. McCLELLAN: Was that simply pointing -- well, let me point out, was that simply talking about differences in how you approach the war on terrorism?
Q It was talking about suggesting that Democrats simply want to offer therapy and understanding to those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.
MR. McCLELLAN: And view it as essentially a law enforcement matter.
Q Well, they feel as though there is, in fact, an ugly partisan and hurtful tone to those remarks --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think that it's --
Q -- that don't elevate the discourse.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- some Democratic leaders that chose to attack for those comments instead of defend their philosophy.
Q Scott, just again on Karl's remarks last night, when he talked about the indictments, was he simply reflecting the sentiments of the President, who, as we know, in many, many speeches, perhaps in jest, talked about referring to the terrorists as saying maybe they thought after 9/11, we would just file a lawsuit?
MR. McCLELLAN: The war on terrorism brought us, to our shores -- let me back up, because the President -- this was talked about at length over the course of the last four years, Ed. We had a pre-9/11 mind set prior to the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon here in Washington. Those attacks showed us that we were vulnerable here at home to the threats of terrorism.
And for too long, people looked at these terrorist attacks and thought they could be dealt with in a certain way. Maybe there would be ways to negotiate with terrorists or maybe there would be ways to simply prosecute people for carrying out terrorist activity around the world. And the Middle East, during all that time, was becoming a breeding ground for this kind of terrorism. It was becoming a breeding ground for an ideology that is based on hatred and oppression and violence. And we were looking the other way.
That's why the President said this is a comprehensive war, this is a war, that's what it is. It's a comprehensive war on terrorism, it's a comprehensive war on an ideology, this is a long struggle that we are in. And the President outlined a comprehensive strategy for winning this war and defeating the ideology of hatred and oppression. And I think all Karl was talking about last night was the different approaches to how you go about winning the war on terrorism. So, you know, some can try to make more out of it than they should, but he was simply talking about the different approaches.
Q So when the President many times in the past actually has evoked laughter from his audiences when he talked about they thought we'd just filing a lawsuit, was he saying that in jest or not?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, Ed. In fact, he was saying it with all seriousness, because if you look back to how things were dealt with prior to 9/11, people knew exactly what he was talking about. When we were attacked previously on our own shores, people were prosecuted. That's what he was talking about. But we didn't recognize that -- the threat that we were facing from abroad. The President saw very clearly on September 11th that this was a struggle of ideologies and this was a war on terrorism, a war that we must win to build a free and peaceful future for people across the world, and to ensure our long-term security. I think you all know that in this room. And, you know, if people want to engage in partisan bickering, that's their business. We're going to talk about what the differences are when it comes to how we move forward.
Q Continuing on with this then, Scott, are you suggesting that it was not Karl's intention to belittle that philosophy, merely to illustrate it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, you have his remarks, you can go back and look at his remarks for yourself.
Q Scott, you ask us oftentimes for specifics -- does Karl have in mind a particular Democratic leader who suggested therapy for the folks who attacked on 9/11?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you can look at his remarks, Mark.
Q He didn't mention any names, and I'm asking you if you know.
MR. McCLELLAN: I know, so you should go look at your remarks.
Q So in other words, there are no --
MR. McCLELLAN: Clearly, there are people who have taken a different approach, and I don't think we need to get into names.
Q But someone who specifically has suggested therapy?
MR. McCLELLAN: Mark, if you want to make more than it was, then you're welcome to, but I think you should go back and look at his remarks. I didn't see his remarks.
Q He didn't name any names, which is why I'm asking you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and you can go back and look at his remarks and see for yourself what it says.
Q Was Karl Rove speaking last night as a Deputy White House Chief of Staff?That was your government, speaking to you and for you. Insulting you. Mocking you.
MR. McCLELLAN: He is the Deputy White House Chief and Senior White House Advisor, and I would encourage you to go look at his remarks and what he said.
Q Especially given the venue, being in New York, where there is, obviously, a very strong personal connection for many people to what happened on 9/11 and the immediate bipartisan support the President enjoyed right after those events, does the President think the tone of what Mr. Rove was saying is fair and appropriate?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you bring up a very good point. It was in New York, it was to the New York Conservative Party. So he was talking about the different philosophy between conservatives and liberals and different philosophy for approaching the war on terrorism. That is a very important priority for all Americans and it's very important that the American people know what we are doing to win that war on terrorism. And that's why he was talking about it and telling it like it is when it comes to the different approaches for winning the war on terrorism.
Q But similarly, liberals in New York, New Jersey area also feel very personally affected. And so the tone of those remarks, by some, would be judged as going too far.
MR. McCLELLAN: He was speaking to the New York Conservative Party and talking about different philosophies -- a conservative philosophy and a liberal philosophy -- when it comes to winning the war on terrorism. I disagree with such a characterization.
Q You think that was perfectly appropriate?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I just said that he was talking about the different philosophies. The President has talked about the different philosophies when it comes to winning the war on terrorism. And he was speaking to a specific audience about those philosophies and talking about the philosophy that we stand for and the approach that we stand for.
Now if others don't want to defend their approach, that's their business. But to talk about the issues, particularly a priority that's this important, is, I think, something that people expect us to focus on. This is talking about important issues that do have a direct impact on the American people and do have a direct impact on our peace and security.
Q But others don't think the characterization of how liberals approach --
MR. McCLELLAN: Who are the others?
Q Well, you've got Nancy Pelosi today, Harry Reid were talking about the fact that the use of the words was not appropriate for the way, especially in the New York area --
MR. McCLELLAN: Do you disagree that he was simply talking about the different philosophies and different approaches?
Q What I'm talking about is word choice.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that they are just trying to engage in partisan attacks. Karl was simply talking about different philosophies, and we should be talking about what we stand for and how we want to move forward. We should be talking about what the different visions are and what the different ideas are, and that's what he was doing.
The President has spoken to conservative audiences, as well, and he's talked about the different philosophies when it comes to how we govern and how we address the important priorities for the American people. That's what Karl was doing in this setting. I think the American people want to know how we are going about governing, and how -- and the philosophy that is behind that, and how we are approaching these important priorities, because this matters to the American people.
Now, I know -- I appreciate you all in this room. You want to get caught up in all the process and the back and forth bickering that goes on in this city. We're going to focus on the issues and that's what we will continue to do.
Q Can I ask it in this way, Scott? Then if this is an issue, is this an expression in some manner that the White House is concerned that with the popularity of the war diminishing, the anti-war liberalism is beginning to take hold so the President and Karl are confronting it directly?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he was speaking to the New York Conservative Party, and he was talking about different philosophies -- the conservative philosophy and the liberal philosophy and how we're approaching different priorities for the American people. That's all it is.
The President's Senior Advisor, Carl Rove said that "liberals" responded weakly to 9/11 and are placing American troops in danger.
Karl Rove came to the heart of Manhattan last night to rhapsodize about the decline of liberalism in politics, saying Democrats responded weakly to Sept. 11 and had placed American troops in greater danger by criticizing their actions.There is no person who more speaks for the President than Karl Rove. These remarks advance the Right's narrative about Liberals and Democrats as weak and treasonous. Compare the reaction to these remarks with the reaction to remarks by Howard Dean, advancing a narrative that Republicans are a white, Christian party that only helps the rich. Democrats attacked Dean for his remarks. You already know that Republicans will praise Rove for his.
"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.
Citing calls by progressive groups to respond carefully to the attacks, Mr. Rove said to the applause of several hundred audience members, "I don't know about you, but moderation and restraint is not what I felt when I watched the twin towers crumble to the ground, a side of the Pentagon destroyed, and almost 3,000 of our fellow citizens perish in flames and rubble."
[. . .] Mr. Rove also said American armed forces overseas were in more jeopardy as a result of remarks last week by Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who compared American mistreatment of detainees to the acts of "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others."
"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?" Mr. Rove asked. "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."
This insults half of Americans, calling them treasonous, saying they don't have the interests of the country at heart. It is time to ask Bush the question, "Are you capable of being more than President of the Republican Party?"
That any Democratic politician or pundit in 2005 does not understand how the right wing media machine operates is beyond me, but it happens over and over.In fact, let me repeat that:
That any Democratic politician or pundit in 2005 does not understand how the right wing media machine operates is beyond me, but it happens over and over.That post links to David Sirota, Democratic idiots & the parroting of right-wing lies
You see, the GOP feeds off of people who purport to represent progressives and Democrats, yet who carry the right-wing's most shameful lies/stereotypes. Conservatives have an entire infrastructure to get the criticism as far and wide as possible.
... This is exactly how it's supposed to work for the GOP: they grab someone who calls themselves "liberal" or "progressive". ... Then they get that idiot to validate dishonest right-wing lies in the media. Finally, they then cite that self-proclaimed "liberal"/"progressive" as proof that the GOP's dishonest stereotypes are actually true, no matter how factually inaccurate. It's a brilliant machine, actually - but it is pathetic that so many people in the insulated Washington, D.C. Democratic Establishment play along.
Learn, you people! LEARN!
Referred by Atrios, in Learn Damnit Learn
Edgar Ray Killen, recently convicted for arranging the 1964 murders of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, is an ordained Baptist minister, and another Baptist preacher testified for him at the trial. (Killen actually conducted the funeral of the parents of the judge who will sentence him.) One juror refused to vote for conviction because she could not vote to convict a man of God.
And yes, Killen was a big supporter of Judge Moore, the Ten Commandments guy down there. He had his Ten Commandments yard sign up.
People are always telling us liberal unbelievers that we have to respect the beliefs of others. Well, I don't respect Killen's beliefs, or the beliefs of the people whom he preached to, or the beliefs of those who sympathized with him. (This local forum shows some open support for Killen, a lot of sympathy, and a fair amount of veiled racist talk about Michael Jackson, welfare mothers, etc.) For forty years Killen walked free, a respected member of the community, even though everyone knew what he had done.
The South has made enormous progress, and these prosecutions are a good thing. But most of the killers in this case got off scot free. The prosecutor still had to bargain murder down to manslaughter in order to convict Killen, and they had trouble getting anyone to testify against him. One report which I can't link said that local blacks are being very cautious about commenting on the case. What does all that tell you?
On the internet I'm always being told that the only racists are the Democrats (e.g., Jesse Jackson and Senator Byrd of West Virginia). And Lord knows that the God-fearing people of the South are not a bit shy about saying what they think of Godless heathens like me.
What bullshit! The Christian Right needs to look at the log in its own eye. There are a lot of evil Christians out there, and someone needs to remind them that Christians will be judged too.
To make sure that my Senators were not confused about how I expected them to vote, I emailed Senator Boxer and Senator Feinstein that on September 24th I would be burning an American flag as a symbolic statement of my opposition to Bush's Iraq war. I do not know if I will be burning an American flag at a peace rallly in L.A. or D.C. What I am absolutely certain of is that I will be burning an American flag for peace on September 24th.
America is my country. I am an American patriot. Burning the American flag is a patriotic act. The American flag is my flag and the warmongers can't have it. On September 24th I will be taking my country back and I will be taking my flag back by burning an American flag for peace.
For some unknown reason, no matter how I tried to post this as a comment to Dave's blog, it wouldn't post. So I'm posting it separately because I think this is important:
When I was growing up I was taught in civics class that the flag should not be flown at night or in the rain. EVERY flag was taken down at sunset and put up again in the morning. The military, police, etc. did this with great ceremony. This was really very nice, but I guess everyone just got too busy to keep it up. I still consider it complete disrespect when I see the flag flying at night, or bedraggled from always being left out in storms and winter weather -- and still not taken down, of course. I still think that if you're going to display the flag you should do it right and show it some respect, not just use it as an ostentatious display of political viewpoints.
During the 60s and early 70s kids were hauled off to jail, or at least to the police station, with charges of disorderly conduct if they dared wear the flag as part of their clothing. There was an attempt then to pass an amendment about burning the flag, so this is nothing new.
Now I notice that it's the Republicans who proudly drape themselves in flag clothing, as though to display what good, patriotic God fearing neocons they are. I think it's even more disrespectful of the flag to use it for this purpose than it is to use it to protest the way the administration is debasing it and us through its un-American policies. The Republicans did not own the flag then, and they don't own it now.
June 22, 2005
The House on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment that would give Congress the power to ban desecration of the American flag...Let's take a practical look at what this is going to mean. Just using the example of clothing, people wearing flag clothing for July 4 celebrations or at Republican Party rallies will not be bothered by this. But Republican accusations that Democrats are traitors means that people at Democratic Party rallies who stray even slightly from flag handling guidelines will be subjected to the Right's smear machine.
If you think this through, it will be used as another tool to smear Demcorats, and the only people who will be arrested will be protesting against the policies of Republicans in power.
And the wording itself: "Desecration," "blasphemous behavior; the act of depriving something of its sacred character; 'desecration of the Holy Sabbath' " and here, "An act of disrespect or impiety toward something regarded as sacred". Great, an amendment establishing the John Birch Society as the official religion of the United States. And how many Democrats voted for it? How many in the Senate will? Watch your backs.
Durbin caved. By apologizing he confirmed everything the public has been hearing about his comments. Whatever words he used, the country again hears that Democrats are the problem and a Democratic Senator has admitted it.
How does the public hear these things, framed the way the Right wants them framed? Just to demonstrate one "channel" through which the Right's propaganda is spread, let's look at the pattern on the Internet. Monday I wrote that there were already 17,600 hits on Google for websites with the words "Durbin" and "treason". Today there are 21,400. (And 28,700 for "Durbin" and "traitor.") This channel is in addition to talk radio, letters to the editor, newspaper columnists and TV pundits. And then over time there will be the e-mail chain letters, magazine articles, etc. all referring to Durbin's confession as proof that Democrats are traitors, etc.
What did the apology buy him? (And us?) Here are a few examples of responses to Durbin's apology:
He says he's sorry that his ill-advised words comparing U.S. military interrogators to the most tyrannical regimes of the 20th century have been twisted to make it sound as if he doesn't support our troops, which he really, really does.
[. . .] Hey, we're sorry, too.
We're sorry that anything else Mr. Durbin might say about allegations of torture at Guantánamo Bay simply cannot be believed, thanks to his way-over-the-top screed.
We're sorry that in his haste to score political points against the Bush administration, he chose to squander his credibility by linking U.S. troops to despots who killed millions of innocent people.
We're sorry that at this key moment in the war on terror, when democracy demands a full and open debate on all U.S. policies and tactics, he so devalued his own voice and potential contributions.
We're sorry that Mr. Durbin woke up this morning still the Senate's assistant minority leader – the second-ranked Democrat – and that it apparently hasn't occurred to fellow Democrats that he should step down from the leadership.
Durbin's sorry, all right. Sorry he got a tender portion of his political anatomy caught in the wringer. Not sorry because he thought the unthinkable, spoke the unspeakable. [. . .] This is the sleazy way politicians have of issuing non-apology apologies. And Dick Durbin is as sleazy as they get. Whenever parents in Illinois – or anywhere across this blessed land – wish to hold a public official up as a role model for a child, Durbin's not their man.Glendale News
The nasty piece of verbal invective you hurled at honorable US Military personnel won't ever come back. Such wantonly emotional rantings, just part and parcel of the invective shown by democrat US Senators during the Bush Administration, don't come back...Way to go Durbin. We're all in a little bit more danger today than we were Monday.
... The "Gentleman" from Illinois has yet to make a real apology for the nastiness that flowed from his mouth on the floor of the United States Senate, the supposed model of courteous debate for democracies around the world.
... In fact, democrat US Senators have turned the United States Senate into a mean-spirited institution that is filled with vile acrimony. This is now an institution that provides juicy tidbit quotations for use by the enemies of our noble country and fills terrorist publications with vindication for their wanton murder of innocents and their brutal repression of everything associated with the very ideal of democracy.
Update - See also Steve Gilliard:
It is that kind of continued gutllessness in the face of rank GOP corruption which enrages many Democrats. We are tired of leaders who will not fight, especially when 15 or so of your collegues can take a pro-lynching stand and have nothing to pay for.Kos:
[. . .] We both know the defense of torture at Guantanamo is reprehenshible, the report you read from came from an FBI agent. Yet because you lost your nerve, you became the issue and not the report. We know most service members are not torturers. But there are those that are and who shame this country and we need to acknowledge that.
People were ready to stand up for you, it's a shame you wouldn't stand up for yourself.
Torture isn't a partisan issue. And by apologizing, Durbin caved to those who worked their best to turn it into one. And the right-wing partisans rejoice -- content in their ability to trivialize what is one of the most serious issues facing us morally, as a nation, and practically, on the battleground.And a must-read by eRobin at American Street:
Now, with Sen. Durbin broken by the mob, the Right Wing Noise Machine has claimed another victim - plus the hundreds or maybe thousands of victims of torture whose voices are silenced along with his - plus the millions of Americans who continue to have torture perpetrated in our names.
Robert Parry at Consortiumnews.com has posted his ideas about media strategy -- basically, he says that we need to build new media instead of wishing that the old media would improve. I agree with every word he says, so just go there.
When I started at STF, my message was that the Democrats should just fight harder. Since then, between Dave Johnson, Parry, Caro at Makethemaccountable.com, and the people at Cursor.org and Media Transparency, I've been convinced that the Democrats won't be able to do much without new media.
The ambient political opinion in this country -- what people get passively from free media and scuttlebutt -- ranges from hard right wing to wishy-washy centrism (which is called "liberal"). Until there's really a liberal media out there, the Democrats will continue to have massive problems.
Oil is at $60 per barrel, predicted to go to $70. At $60 someone is getting $40 more per barrel than they were at $20. At $70 someone will be getting $10 more per barrel than now.
Suppose we today imposed a $10 per barrel tax on imported oil? Then WE would be getting that $10. Suppose we used the money to invest in alternative energy? (Or to secure our ports? Sort of the opposite of what some of that $10 WILL be used for...)
Suppose WE had imposed a tax on imported oil back when it was at $20 and invested in energy efficiency - things like retrofitting buildings and fuel economy - or investment in alternative energy sources?
Republicans prefer eating the seed corn.
But the administration, then planning for the Iraq invasion, "spurned engagement with North Korea," said Gregg and Oberdorfer.They also were pulling resources out of Afghanistan - the country hosting the people who attacked us...
June 21, 2005
What happens during The Education of Shelby Knox illustrates exactly why the religious right and BushCo want to kill off public broadcasting (PBS and NPR). In fact, the entire sequence of events can be seen as a reason why they would very much like to do away with the entire "public sector".
A self-described "good Southern Baptist girl," 15-year-old Shelby Knox of Lubbock, Texas has pledged abstinence until marriage. But she becomes an unlikely advocate for comprehensive sex ed when she finds that Lubbock, where high schools teach abstinence as the only safe sex, has some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and STDs in the state.
She also decides to ally herself "with a group of gay students who have been denied the right to form a gay-straight alliance in school". Her activities wind up "profoundly changing her political and spiritual views".
Certainly, this isn't a story that is likely to be dealt with in much depth (if at all) by the M$M.
This is exactly what the religious right is afraid of... and exactly what public education is supposed to do: provide people with the opportunity to transcend their upbringing and become informed citizens capable of making their own decisions.
"I think that God wants you to question," Shelby says, "to do more than just blindly be a follower, because he can't use blind followers. He can use people like me who realize there's more in the world that can be done."
DFA has a snazzy little Flash presentation illustrating what the Downing Street Memo is all about, designed to be forwarded to friends and family who are not familiar with what all the fuss is about. It's attached to a petition they are encouraging folks to sign, demanding that Congress get the message.
The U.S. Department of Justice is trying to let Big Tobacco off the hook to the tune of $120 billion. At the very last minute in its tobacco lawsuit, the Justice Department suddenly slashed how much it wants the industry to pay for programs to help the nation's 45 million smokers quit. Profits and politics came before public health.Take Action!
Wouldn't it be interesting if it turned out that one of the major players in convincing America to tie its military up in Iraq, was at the same time providing North Korea with technology to improve its missiles? (Not to mention providing NK with submarines.)
Wouldn't it be interesting if it turned out that one of the major players in convincing America to take sides in the Middle East conflict turned out to be an espionage front for that side? (See also here.)
Remember the STF rule. When Republicans accuse...
Dear Red States,
We're ticked off at the way you've treated California, and we've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.
In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington,
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.
To sum up briefly:
You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.
We get stem cell research and the best beaches.
We get Elliot Spitzer.
You get Ken Lay.
We get the Statue of Liberty.
You get OpryLand.
We get Intel and Microsoft.
You get WorldCom.
We get Harvard.
You get Ole' Miss.
We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs.
You get Alabama.
We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.
Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families.
You get a bunch of single moms.
Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti- war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.
We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.
With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.
With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.
We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.
Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was
actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals than we lefties.
By the way, we're taking the good pot, too.
You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.
Author Unknown in New California.
[O.K., I admit, there's a lot of stuff in here that's problematic when you look at the stuff in detail, but at the same time, its a pretty honest expression of what a lot of people here think ("damn right wing redneck yahoos can all go to hell for all that i care").
As a counter-balance, I'll also point out that we get "Neverland" and they get "Graceland". :)
Personally, I think the idea of succession is worth talking about... California sends $40 billion a year to the Federal Gov't that it never gets back. Would go a lot of the way towards solving our budget balancing problems and improving our state's crumbling physical and educational infrastructure. Not to mention having a government htat is vastly more responsive (via initiative, referendum, recall and general electoral policy) and accountable... and representative. -Thomas]
I'm not sure what to make of this story from Aljazerra, The US war with Iran has already begun
by Scott Ritter.
I posted this story a few minutes ago at MyDD hoping for some feedback.
There are details included in this story that certainly make it sound credible.
Did Scott Ritter turn to Al Jazerra because nobody in the M$M was willing to print his story? I tend to believe that Bush and the Theocons are doing everything they can to provoke a declared war with Iran, just exactly the way they did with Iraq. Maybe we are already at war with Iran and Bush just hasn't decided to tell Congress or the American people yet.
President Bush, in his Saturday President's Radio Address four days ago:
As we work to deliver opportunity at home, we're also keeping you safe from threats from abroad. We went to war because we were attacked, and we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens. Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror. ... Our troops are fighting these terrorists in Iraq so you will not have to face them here at home.This was just this last Saturday, and he's still saying that Iraq attacked the United States.
The L.A. Times linked to an interesting site Sunday. I've read DQ News on occasion, but never noticed their Zip Code Housing Charts on the left side of the page. The Times carried the May Sales for Los Angeles County.
I've taken out the Sales Count and Condo Prices. These are the median prices, percentage increase from May 2004 and price per square foot of the top and bottom of the L.A. Housing Market:
Beverly Hills 90210 $2,550 30.8% $744
Beverly Hills 90211 $1,450 35.5% $852
Beverly Hills 90212 $2,000 83.3% $943
Pacific Palisades 90272 $1,757 33.6% $825
Compton 90220 $310 41.6% $263
Compton 90221 $327 48.6% $299
Compton 90222 $290 41.1% $280
And why some people in L.A. Commute 3-4 hours in each direction to and from work:
Lancaster 93534 $246 31.6% $184
Lancaster 93535 $265 40.7% $181
Lancaster 93536 $320 22.1% $186
Mark Hitlzak had an interesting article Giving In to Bubble Pressure: To paraphrase Mark Twain, everybody talks about the housing bubble, but nobody does anything about it. Well, Mark A.R. Kleiman did something about it. Read about a UCLA professor who cashed out and moved to the sidelines.
Kleiman was looking at the dilemma facing a lot of folks. How do you cope with the housing bubble and where do you find a safe investment for the lurking economic disaster? He didn't have the problem facing many readers of Seeing the Forest, who are married to women with irrational emotional attachments to their home, children and husbands.
It's worth noting that Kleiman has more flexibility to convert his home into liquid capital than many Southland families. He's unmarried and childless, so he didn't have to replace his Mulholland home with one of commensurate size in a suitable school district.
That said, he knows he's making a sacrifice. "I love this house. I went through a lot of heartache getting it redone." He'll miss the quiet, and his new apartment won't have the space for his extensive collection of African art and sculpture.
Before deciding to sell, he investigated a few conventional hedging possibilities, including HedgeStreet, a website that allows individuals to speculate on economic events, and another venture that has brought together Yale University economist Robert Shiller and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to develop derivatives in housing and other asset classes. But the trading market at HedgeStreet is still thin, and the CME project hasn't yet gotten off the ground.
Last, and certainly not least, the cover story from the Economist, After The Fall: Soaring house prices have given a huge boost to the world economy. What happens when they drop?
Excellent related articles and a reminder that this is a global economic problem:
This boom is unprecedented in terms of both the number of countries involved and the record size of house-price gains. Measured by the increase in asset values over the past five years, the global housing boom is the biggest financial bubble in history (see article). The bigger the boom, the bigger the eventual bust.
Throughout history, financial bubbles—whether in houses, equities or tulip bulbs—have continued to inflate for longer than rational folk believed possible. In many countries around the globe, house prices are already at record levels in relation to rents and incomes. But, as demonstrated by dotcom shares at the end of the 1990s, some prices could yet rise even higher. It is impossible to predict when prices will turn. Yet turn they will. Prices are already sliding in Australia and Britain. America's housing market may be a year or so behind.
The "poo flags" article below tipped me off to this story: "Clear Channel cedes responsibility for ‘Bush: Our leader’ billboard to local market" (source: "The Blue Lemur"). We can thank "our" media for this being a "story", because:
The Orlando Associated Press bureau said they had seen at least one sign but didn’t plan a story. They suggested that the signs would only become a story were there a public response to the billboards, and that the county in which they were situated would probably meet the signs with “a warm response.”
How nice. So, if I pay for a giant billboard in Santa Cruz with a picture of Dubya, saying, "Commander in Thief" (or something equally pithy), it isn't newsworthy, because the people in Santa Cruz county would probably meet the signs with a "warm response"?
[The comments are pretty entertaining as well. -Thomas]
Police in Germany are hunting pranksters who have been sticking miniature flag portraits of US President George W. Bush into piles of dog poo in public parks. Josef Oettl, parks administrator for Bayreuth, said: "This has been going on for about a year now, and there must be 2,000 to 3,000 piles of excrement that have been claimed during that time."
[... continued at link above ...]
June 20, 2005
All of us have wondered why "Democrats have no spine" or are "cowardly" or "won't stand up for what they believe." Well, it has occurred to me that we haven't really paid attention to the price people pay when they DO. If you look at what has happened in the past, very few Democratic leaders have been supported when the Right attacks them. How many stood behind Carter? Dukakis? Clinton?
In response to Dick Durbin's courageous and honest remarks criticizing the Bush administration's policy of torturing prisoners, the right is making it very clear what happens to those who speak out. Remember, Senator Durbin's "crime" was to read an FBI account of torture at Guantanamo, and ask if we didn't already know it was our own what government who we would imagine was responsible.
Google already has 17,600 hits for websites with "Durbin" and "treason". If you want to swim in the slime, go look at some of them. Don't forget that "treason" is a crime punishable by death.
Sites with names like "Republican Voices" write things like,
Worse, it flirts on the level of treason, as Durbin’s remarks have gotten much airplay in the Arab world, giving much aid and comfort to our enemies.
The right-wing press is whipping them up as best they can:
WorldNetDaily: Democrat senator: U.S. troops 'Nazis'
Chicago Sun-Times: Durbin slanders his own country
Washington Times: "Durbin calls Gitmo Death Camp", which they changed to Gitmo called death camp
So what's the point? Where are they trying to take their "base' with this? How do they want people to respond to those who commit "treason?" Orcinus caught this one from a host on Seattle's KVI:
This man is simply a piece of excrement, a piece of waste that needs to be scraped off the sidewalk and eliminated."Eliminated." The talk-show host tells his listeners that a U.S. Senator should be "eliminated."
I've said that when you want to know what message the Right is putting out, take a look at the message their audience is receiving. Listen to the callers on right-wing radio and read some of the comments they are leaving at blogs and forums. Like this:
I polled a small group of people today and ask what should happen to "Turbin Durbin". Eight of the ten said to hang him and do it quick. The remainder had a funny look on their faces. When ask what was wrong, they replied 'don't you know that most of the rope available today is made in China and is or such poor quality it would probably break' Their idea was to shoot him with ammo made in Il. Somehow i have to agree with the firing squad, and hope some are poor shots and it takes a long time to die.Watch your backs.
Email your local media and ask them to give time to Representative Hostettler's offensive comments about Democrats and Christianity equal to what they gave to Howard Dean's comments about Republicans and white Christians.At MyDD there are links to help you do just that.
At Altercation: Soldiers write home
The Sideshow writes about Nazi comparisons. You've got to go read the whole thing. Here's a small bit:
The horror of Nazi Germany isn't that they killed six million Jews. It's not the numbers and it's not who the victims were, except for one thing: that a nation singled-out specified groups of their own people and declared them bereft of their citizenship and their rights. It would not matter if they had only killed a couple thousands Jews and a handful of gays and political objectors. The point is that these were German citizens who suddenly found themselves without the protections of German law, the personhood that had previously been presumed - and thus, it became acceptable to do things to them that no civilized society subjects people to. And that the threat of this happening to you, to me, to us, is always there, because it always has been; no one is safe, immune.If the comparison fits -- watch your backs.
In the right column, down a ways, you'll see a new "Operation Yellow Elephant" icon. Click it. (And take note of all the other things in the right column.)
Who are you supporting for president?
Right now I think Wesley Clark would make the best President.
What about the Republicans? Who do you think is running? Do any of them give you a feeling that they care about the country more than The Party? (Of course, The Party won't let anyone like that past the primaries.)
There has been an explosion of media coverage. CSPAN covered John Conyers' hearing where Ray McGovern and John Bonifaz both made the case for Impeachment. Video highlights at Crooks and Liars.
The really big story is from The Independent which reveals that the US has used napalm-type firebombs during the Iraq War and lied about it to the British government. Global Security.org covered the use of napalm like weapons in August of 2003.
The actual bombs used are known as MK-77s, and they are napalm canister munitions. They evolved from the napalm bombs which we associate with the Korean and Vietnam wars. The Heretik does a terrific job with the napalm story and Freiheit und Wissen chimes in on napalm with a depleted uranium kicker and brings up the phrase "crimes against humanity."
Pam's Houseblend has a good round-up post.
Visit Kevin Drum for Downing Street Delusions from the wingnuts. In a nutshell, they are calling DSM Rathergate II.
I think the wingnuts were too slow out of the gate with this propaganda effort. As Editor & Publisher pointed out last week:
The Sunday Times observed: “The complaints of media self-censorship have been backed up by the ombudsmen of The Washington Post, The New York Times and National Public Radio, who have questioned the lack of attention the minutes have received from their organizations."
This story is just going to pick up steam. Of course it would help if Senate Democrats weren't so intent on being robust liberal warmongers.
Ari Melber of the miserable Kerry campaign has published an op-ed in the right-wing New York Post saying that the Democrats can win only by becoming more hawkish and defying their dovish wing with a "Sister Souljah" moment. Sample line:
"Democrats must come together and proudly view their party as the party of national security — before anyone else will."
The piece is bad enough to make you wonder whether Melber is deliberately trying to wreck the party. He knows perfectly well that much of the Democratic Party rank and file is dovish, but he is asking for a candidate who will insult them.
Here's my (slightly edited) response:
It will be a cold day in Hell before I pay attention to anyone who had anything to do with the Kerry campaign. You guys were worthless. The response to the SBV's was wretched.
The Democrats can't run against their base. The problem with the Democrats is that they're so dominated by Ivy League policy wonks such as yourself that they are completely incapable of communicating to the American people.
Your silly plan would almost certainly split the Democrats, and even so, I seriously doubt that the Dems will ever be able to out-hawk the Commander in Chief's party -- even when the CinC is fucking up as bad as Bush is.
The Democrats learned nothing from the 2000 election, and you've made it your job to make sure that they'll learn the wrong things from the 2004 election. Go to hell.
Most sincerely yours,
June 19, 2005
What began as a question on DailyKos, migrated to a thread on Ruth's Group and is now a piece of draft legislation at mansworldnot. It is a Rovian attack designed to split the Republican Alliance, strengthen Democratic supporters, block attempts to ban abortion, and in general demoralize the rapture right.
It's time for Dems to co-opt the culture of life and drive a wedge between the rapture right and republican corporations. How? Consider: the only value question dems and reps agee on in polls is the dishonesty of corporate executives. We can take advantage of this by reframing the question of abortion thus:
- the cause of abortion is unwanted pregnancy
- programs that increase unwanted pregnancies must be banned and programs that reduce unwanted pregnancies must be funded
- the best source of funds are repeal of tax cuts for corporations and the impostion of surtaxes on runaway corporations
This reframes the debate and forces Member of Congress to choose between their faithful who want to do anything that will reduce abortions, and their corporate paymasters who want to do anything to not pay their fair share of taxes. Read the bill and send it on
Nice! Go see.
YOU can Change Wal-Mart!
A Bush-watcher website identified as TBRNews.org is reporting under the byline of "domestic intelligence reporter" Brian Harring that the Department of Defense is using a cynical tactic to mislead the public regarding the true death toll for American military personnel in Iraq. Harring claims he has an internal pdf. file from the D.O.D. which establishes that nearly 9000 Americans have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but that the official number has been held to 1713 by designating as Iraq deaths only those who perish on Iraqi soil. The remainder, he says, are military personnel who have died en route to Germany or in German hospitals-- casualties of the war, but not listed in the official death toll.Update - More here. Click through to debunking.)
Update - More debunking here.
June 18, 2005
Sometimes you have an opportunity to study a lie. The Right's current smear-lie about Senator Durbin is an example. (Also here and here). We can look at what he said, and we can look at what the Right is SAYING he said, and compare them. What they are saying he said is a lie. Washington Times, Gitmo called death camp
The hysteria and historical illiteracy, not to mention irrational moral equivalency, continued on the floor of the Senate yesterday as Dick Durbin equated American military personnel at Gitmo to Nazis, Stalinist thugs, and the genocidal Pol Pot...and Boston Herald,
The second highest ranking Democrat in the Senate has compared American servicemen and women to Nazis on the floor of that body.But it is more than just a lie, it is a strategic lie. It is a lie designed to trick Americans into believing something that is strategically convenient to the Right. This lie is being used to reinforce an ongoing strategic narrative that Democrats "hate America" and "hate the military."
Let me illustrate by looking back at another strategic lie. Do you remember the lie that Clinton had once written that he "loathed the military?" You have to follow the Right to understand how extensively that lie was circulated. Read just the first few of 26,700 summaries of websites with the words "Clinton," "loath" and "military" that a Google search turns up. (Summaries are exactly as they appear)
Clinton and his crew, however, are the exact opposite. They do not care a fig about their country and they loath the military.The next one, from Heritage, isn't about that story, but look how it uses the same words and reinforces the narrative:
President Clinton's plan to murder our U. S military which he statecl "I loath" is doing well.
Bill Clinton, the man who wrote, "I loath the military." is successfully "murdering" our soldiers through his defense cuts. He really hates this country.
... are loath to challenge, and make promises he eventually failed to keep. ... It is bad enough that President Clinton is letting US military power atrophy
The next one actually has the truth:
People think Clinton said he "loathed the military." He didn't. ... "fine people that include Bill Clinton" and "fine people who loath the military" do not ...But then the trashing continues...
Clinton to Withdraw Claim of Armed Military Service, May 27, 1996 ... lives while wearing the uniform of the American military you once professed to "loath. ...Reading these gives you just a hint of how widely this was circulated, and the kind of vitriol that is used by the Right.
... we military mostly think that you feel the same way about us that Bill Clinton did. You loath us." I will point out that the military downsizing that ...
True conservatives understood what Bill "I loath the military" Clinton was doing. He was trying to destroy the character, morale and integrity of the US ...
This is from those who found no problem with Bill Clinton’s “I did not have ... or his lies under oath, or his statement that he did “loath the military. ...
Come To Loathe the Military,' a phrase taken from a letter that 23-year-old ... Clinton had used that expression in a letter to the head of the ROTC in the ...
There is a moral pit and Clinton and his media supporters are wallowing ... traditional values, especially patriotism, and loath the military. It ...
Nothing, but a Clinton era “perfumed prince” as Colonel Hackworth would call them. ... The Left has no problem demeaning the military and siding with our ...
Do you have any idea how many military personel Clinton put out of work? ... Clinton screwed the military up so bad that I saw tons of people leave...just ...
This is what is happening now with the story about Senator Durbin. It is important to see the role that the "mainstream" players on the Right - Heritage, Fox, Limbaugh, Washington Times, Murdoch's papers, etc. - are playing in this effort to advance the narrative.
And, finally, remember that all of this is done in defense of the use of torture.
Update - In response to something in the comments, here are Durbin's words: "If I read this to you, and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis,..."
Here is what Scaife's NewsMax used as a headline: "Sen. Durbin: Gitmo GIs Behaved Like 'Nazis'", and then in IDENTICAL words to every single other right-wing outlet, "Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin compared U.S. troops to Hitler's concentration camp guards..."
Update - More on Gitmo.
Update - David Neiwert
"I think they would have been very happy to be allowed to defecate on themselves."And I heard this on Limbaugh yesterday: (Through DailyKos.)
The Club G'itmo T-Shirt - What Happens in G'itmo Stays in G'itmoOn the air Limbaugh was laughing about it, making big funny about the whining liberals complaining about how the prisoners are treated. As is the comic strip Mallard Fillmore. Yep, torture is a big joke. Launching aggressive war, torture, napalm... big funny.
Watch your backs.
"No election, whether fair or fraudulent, can legitimize criminal wars on foreign countries, torture, the wholesale violation of human rights, and the end of science and reason."
Visit Not In Our Name and read the original NION pledge. Listen to Ossie Davis read the original pledge.
Sign the New NION pledge.
My favorite is the Pledge Of Resistance:
We believe that as people living in the United States it is our responsibility to resist the injustices done by our government, in our names
Not in our name
will you wage endless war
there can be no more deaths
no more transfusions
of blood for oil
Not in our name
will you invade countries
bomb civilians, kill more children
letting history take its course
over the graves of the nameless
Not in our name
will you erode the very freedoms
you have claimed to fight for
Not by our hands
will we supply weapons and funding
for the annihilation of families
on foreign soil
Not by our mouths
will we let fear silence us
Not by our hearts
will we allow whole peoples
or countries to be deemed evil
Not by our will
and Not in our name
We pledge resistance
We pledge alliance with those
who have come under attack
for voicing opposition to the war
or for their religion or ethnicity
We pledge to make common cause
with the people of the world
to bring about justice,
freedom and peace
Another world is possible
and we pledge to make it real.
I blogged the Military Voices Against Endless War teach in that was held in Los Angeles. I reproduced their program guide with activist links to Iraq war resistance. They filmed and are coming out with a DVD of the event that will be available soon at Justice Vision for $3. I tried to pre-order 20 copies, but I'm not sure how to pay for the darn things.
This was prior to the Downing Street Memo blogswarm, but they were talking about taking this on a nation wide tour. Keep an eye on Not In Our Name and join their email list to see if they bring it to a city near you. It's a powerful presentation.
Order and read War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges.
June 17, 2005
I started to post a comment to Dave's argument that we have a legal and moral responsibility to Iraq. It became too longwinded, so I am turning it into a separate argument. My title applies equally to both sides of the conversation we need to have on the left.
Moral and legal responsibility are nice words, but how do you apply them to an immoral war and an impossible situation? Unfortunately, we may not be able to prevent an Iraqi civil war. If the presence of American troops exacerbates religious and nationalist fervor, the best solution may be immediate withdrawal, even if it leads to civil war in Iraq.
Until we have a serious conversation in America about various exit strategies, we will never know if a "successful resolution" of the Iraq war is possible. The problem with all current analysis is that the assumption of the pottery barn rule locks in a continued American military presence until an undefineable "success" is achieved. The Middle East has never known peace or respite from intense religious warfare. The Middle East may never know peace or respite from intense religious warfare. Does the presence of American troops encourage or restrain religious warfare in Iraq?
Of course conservative warmongers will blame Democrats. With all due respect, that argument sounds like a variation of the contention that Howard Dean should avoid speaking the truth about Republicans because Rush Limbaugh will lie about what he said. To this day conservatives blame Democrats and the M$M for Pol Pot and genocide in Cambodia. It doesn't matter that the Vietnam war itself, forcing Vietnamese troops into a once tranquil country and illegal bombing caused the destruction of traditional social and political life in Cambodia.
The quagmire in Iraq requires rational thought and analysis absent any consideration for conservative reaction or demagoguery. Our moral and legal responsibility to Iraq should not and cannot be tinged with fear of political demagoguery from the WSJ editorial page and The Weekly Standard. Moral and legal responsibility, caged in by fear of conservative criticism, diminishes the moral principles that need to be unleashed and examined.
We need to begin a private dialogue on the left of what our options are for meeting genuine moral and legal responsibilities. The sad truth may be that our choice is a disastrous withdrawal in fifteen years or a disastrous withdrawal in two years.
The dialogue about our moral and legal responsibility needs to include the serious points raised by Robert Kuttner in his American Prospect article The Universe Next Door. I would even expand the universe Kuttner describes of domestic objectives that we could be achieving instead of wasting precious American lives and our national treasure in Iraq. For example, a rational foreign policy could theoretically be positively engaged in addressing genocide in Darfur. A rational foreign policy could easily be more seriously engaged in tsunami relief.
I'm all in favor of a rational dialogue about what our moral and legal responsibilities in Iraq. I suggest we have the conversation without consideration for the inevitable conservative diatribe. Let the conversation continue . . .
This is what I'm afraid could happen again. Democrats will push for withdrawal, eventually they'll get their way, and the country will blame them for the resulting chaos and defeat. Dems will argue that it would have happened anyway, but the public won't buy it. The Republican party, which should get the blame, will get off scot free.We just can't accept a solution that means Iraq falls into civil war. We have a moral and legal responsibility not to let that happen. Any resulting blame will rightly fall on our own shoulders if we do.
Regardless of one's political or religious beliefs, before we all take off for La La Land never to return, we need to become aware of what's going on with conspiracy theory thinking and learn to spot and avoid it. Conspiracy theories always seem to be hyper-logical and are always heavily documented. There's always a grain of truth in them. That's why this is so dangerous.
Every adult should read "A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America," by Michael Barkun, U. of California Press, 2003. He's a professor of political science at Syracuse University and this is essentially a text book. Even so, it's a good read. I got it from Barnes and Noble.
What he does is catagorize the types of conspiracy theories, explain how they originate and the elements that go into them, and analyze the more important current theories, tracing them back to their roots. For example, the New World Order theory actually began to develop before the French Revolution, picking up new aspects as it grew over time. That's why it can be so heavily documented now; plenty of authors have speculated about this through the centuries. It casts suspicion on everyone and everything. The former League of Nations, the UN, former President Bush, who used the term 'New World Order' in a speech and was associated with some of the organizatons included in the theory, Skull and Bones and the CIA. It includes the Masons, FEMA, suspected of setting up concentratin camps, well, read this book and find out. On a more sinister level, it includes the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' and is heavily anti-Semetic. Pat Robertson's book on the New World Order (he believes in it) includes the "Protocols' although he insists he's not anti-Semetic. Since anything can be twisted any way one wants, and things are never what they seem to be, even a hoax like the Protocols can be given hidden meanings. Super theories can take up to six pages just to document the people and organizations assumed to be involved, and some even include evil estraterrestrials at the very top with whom the government has a pact. And people, including people in our government, take all this very, very seriously.
That's only one example. I'm sure we've all heard of many of the various elements included in the various theories and fallen for at least some of them, including me. Us reality-based people have an obligation to become aware of this mode ot thinking and learn to recognize and avoid it. Get this book!
From Yahoo News, 20 minutes ago, U.S. Launches Major Operation in West Iraq . At the end of the story, just prior to "Elsewhere":
Separately, U.S. Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez, of Troy, N.Y., was charged with murder Wednesday in the deaths last week of two Army officers at a base north of Baghdad, the military said Thursday.
The military initially attributed the June 7 killings of the officers — Capt. Phillip T. Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis E. Allen — to an insurgent mortar attack near Tikrit but said further investigation showed the blast pattern was inconsistent with such an attack.
Martinez, 37, a supply specialist with the 42nd Infantry Division, a New York-based National Guard unit, is facing two counts of premeditated murder, according to a military statement.
He was being held at a military jail in Kuwait and has been assigned a military attorney and has the option of hiring a civilian lawyer, the statement said.
June 16, 2005
From The Huffington Post, ABC Bosses Tell ABC News Kill The Interviews With Robert Kennedy Jr. . . .
ABC corporate executives at the network's highest levels ordered three interviews with Robert Kennedy Jr. pulled from ABC News programming.
The interviews all centered around Mr. Kennedy's investigation of thimerosal, a mercury based preservative, used in vaccines given to children and believed to be responsible for increasing cases of neurological diseases including autism.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has received $873,000 from pharmaceutical companies, tacked on the "Eli Lilly Protection Act" as a rider to a 2002 homeland security bill. The protection act was later repealed by Congress after a public outcry. Senator Frist is making another attempt to harbor big pharmaceuticals from families with infected children. He is appropriating the war on terror again by attaching a provision to the "Protecting America in the War On Terror" bill introduced to Congress this past January.
A 2001 Emory University Study watched ABC, CBS, and NBC in the Atlanta area for one week and found 907 advertisements for over-the-counter drugs and 428 advertisements for prescription drugs.
Today's question: How many different reasons do people give for why we are in Iraq? Everyone has a theory, but no one can really tell you why we went to war. And if different people cite different reasons, isn't that proof that no one knows THE reason? (The Bush Administration will give you a number of reasons, depending on the day of the week.)
Barney Frank just made the point that it's pretty impossible to end something when you didn't have a good reason to start it in the first place. It's hard to have an exit strategy when you don't know why you're there and what you hope to accomplish. [. . .] We've had multiple and shifting justifications from the players, but justifcations were just excuses and marketing pitches, not reasons.Bill at Liberal Oasis asks What Is "Victory" In Iraq?
Digby asks, Why oh Y,
I understand that many of us as individuals believe that we know why the administration took us to war. I have my pet theories. But the fact that these answers differ proves my point. The official rationale is clearly false and there is no consensus on the real rationale. This is absurd. We live in tyhe United States of America, not the Soviet Union circa 1956 or Nazi Germany circa 1938. It is, are I say it, unamerican for the "greatest country in the worlod" to invade and occupy another country for reasons that are not crystal clear.Matthew Yglesias asks,
But what was the White House after? Why did they do it? We have plenty of evidence that not only were the specific claims the administration made about WMD false (often knowingly so), but also that all of this was basically irrelevant to their actual thinking about why we should go to war.
But what were they thinking? Lowballing the likely costs of war to build public support makes sense in a cynical-scumbag kind of way, but how is it that these lowballs seem to have become the actual basis for real-world policy? Nobody knows.
So ... why are we in Iraq? Why are Americans dying in Iraq? Does another soldier die tomorrow so the Shiites have an extra seat in the Iraqi Parliament? is that what they signed up for? Is that "defending America?"
I mean, sure, we are there now because we can't get out. Bush won't allow the UN to take over because that would upset the funders of the think tanks, and won't put enough forces in to bring security because that would cause The Party to lose votes... But why did we start this?
Before the war I wrote,
Here is what I want to say today: Everyone understands that we are going to war for other reasons than those stated by the Bush administration. Everyone!A year later, in War is the Worst Thing, I wrote,
[. . .] Those supporting this war also understand that there is another, hidden agenda. But like so much of the right-wing agenda, they understand that the public face must be separated from the real agenda. They understand and agree that the public must be deceived. They wink and nod, and it is understood by all.
One thing I want to comment on. I talked to a lot of people. Everyone has a theory about why we are in Iraq. Some talk about Bush being swayed by neo-cons who control what he hears. Some talk about oil. Others about religious agendas like trying to start the apocalypse because the Evangelicals want to ascend to Heaven as the rest of us perish in a total war. Etc.Why are we there?
My comment is that WE DO NOT KNOW why we are in Iraq, and the reasons put forth by the Republicans are obviously bogus. They laid down a smokescreen, told a bunch of lies, whipped us up into a frenzy of fear and loathing, and got their war on. But no one accepts their reasons for war, and no one understands why we REALLY went to war. So we are left with rumors, conspiracy theories, people trying to piece together logic out of whispers of supposed information from possibly trusted sources... My point being that in a Democracy WE were supposed to decide after digesting all available information, with our government serving us by making that information available so we can be informed in our decision process, and the Congress was supposed to "declare war" only in response to the gravest of emergencies. But this time we were led to war, tricked into it, lied to, and manipulated by people who are masters of marketing but apparently void of basic humanity. But why? All we have to go on is rumor and speculation.
WAR. WAR. My God, we started a WAR! WAR IS THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD and we are at war, and we started it. Yes WE. You and me, our country, we started a war, and now we are starting to see it grow. We are seeing images of soldiers urinating on prisoners with hoods over their heads. We are seeing images of children burned to death, arms missing, mosques exploding, bombs ending lives, coffins returning home...
And worse, we did this while we were already occupied with Afghanistan, with finding the people who attacked us on 9/11, and eliminating their ability to attack us again. We took away from that effort to make this other war.
And NO ONE can really tell us why. THIS is what we have become.
This is about the few remaining old-growth redwoods, absolute corporate corruption and the Republicans who encourage it.
Pacific Lumber was a family company that went through a hostile takeover in the mid-80's by Maxxam Corp., a Texas firm controlled by S&L looter Charles Hurwitz. The money to buy Pacific Lumber came from illegally looting (with "Junk Bond King" Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky) United Savings Association of Texas, "the largest S&L failure in Texas and the fifth largest in the country." Maxxam immediately looted Pacific Lumber's pension fund, and to this day continues to loot the company. (For even more about the kind of people I'm talking about, see MAXXAM's Kaiser Aluminum cancels pensions & benefits.)
The Bush administration let Maxxam off the hook for that, in a deal allowing Hurwitz to then sue the government for millions.
In October 2002, after seven years of litigation brought by two arms of the U.S. Treasury Dept, Hurwitz settled separate lawsuits alleging misconduct and fraudulent activities. The Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation initially filed $820 million in claims against Hurwitz, Maxxam, and other corporate executives, over the 1988 collapse and subsequent $1.6 billion taxpayer bail out of United Savings Assoc. of Texas. Maxxam acquired the Texas S&L through junk bond financing. The agencies charged Hurwitz and Maxxam with reckless disregard for the law, self-enrichment, making false and misleading statements, and making unsafe investments. In a major travesty of justice (aka, rip off of the American taxpayers) Hurwitz was fined a mere $206,000 in restitution.Of course Tom Delay is involved in this.
After taking over Pacific Lumber Maxxam massively accelerated the cutting of old-growth redwoods. For example:
From 1974 to 1987, the company logged an average of seventy-two acres per year of the 14,000-acre North Fork Elk River watershed, located a few miles southeast of the town of Eureka, the seat of Humboldt County. Over the next ten years, from 1987 to 1997, the rate of logging jumped sevenfold—to 504 acres per year.Some more background on Pacific Lumber's activities since the takeover is available here.
In an effort to save some of the few remaining old-growth redwoods the government negotiated a $400 million purchase of the Headwaters grove. (Slide show here.) But, having collected the money, the company immediately began to violate the terms of the deal, logging the redwoods anyway and doing it in a way that caused landslides.
The ruling is the latest chapter in a dispute that has lasted for more than a decade over how much logging Pacific Lumber is entitled to do on its own land, thousands of acres of north coast forest that hold many of the last ancient redwood trees still in private hands.Adding insult to injury,
[. . .] The lawsuit accused the company of lying to state regulators during the historic 1999 deal that created the Headwaters Forest Preserve. As part of the more than $400-million transaction, Pacific Lumber transferred 7,000 acres of virgin timber to the federal and state governments and agreed to logging restrictions on its remaining 200,000 acres to protect wildlife habitat.
The suit contended that Pacific gave state agencies false information and data understating the landslide risks of its future logging plans — then delayed the submission of correct information. The alleged fraud, the lawsuit said, resulted in extensive logging of many thousands of trees on unstable slopes, with damage to streams and watersheds.
[. . .] Freeborn [the judge] sided with its contention that, even if it had made misrepresentations to get logging plan approvals, the firm was protected from civil liability.
The judge ... declared that the company's lobbying of state regulators [the lies] to be free speech protected by the 1st Amendment. [emphasis added]
Freeborn invited the company to submit a judgment for him to sign and said the county would be compelled to pay the company's legal costs. [. . .] The company has threatened to lay off employees and file for bankruptcy if it does not get permission to log the watersheds, which residents say have filled with silt from logging operations.I usually issue a call-to-action, offering something to do about things like this. But today I am in despair, and all I can say is watch your backs.
We just this minute had the 777,777th visitor to Seeing the Forest. Just thought that was worth a mention.
Deadly Immunity by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
When a study revealed that mercury in childhood vaccines may have caused autism in thousands of kids, the government rushed to conceal the data -- and to prevent parents from suing drug companies for their role in the epidemic.
"Something very, very wrong is happening to our children"
"You couldn't even construct a study that shows thimerosal is safe," says Haley, who heads the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky. "It's just too darn toxic. If you inject thimerosal into an animal, its brain will sicken. If you apply it to living tissue, the cells die. If you put it in a petri dish, the culture dies. Knowing these things, it would be shocking if one could inject it into an infant without causing damage."
Watch a 30 second commercial and get your day pass to Salon to read this article and two supporting articles about thimerosol that are a result of a joint Salon/Rolling Stone Investigation.
In addition to Kennedy's article there is a powerful personal story and A thimerosal resource guide: Salon's syllabus of source documents, related articles and links to advocacy organizations. Compiled by Brendan DeMelle and Page Rockwell.
Until today, you only thought you despised the Bush administration.
June 15, 2005
Iraqi and American forces spotted a form huddled beneath a blanket when they raided a home in a dangerous Sunni neighborhood Wednesday. The residents insisted it was their ailing father - but the unfazed troops knew they'd found their man: Australian hostage Douglas Wood.But there's a special aspect to this rescue:
In a statement read by Warner, Wood, a longtime resident of Alamo, Calif., said: "I'm extremely happy and relieved to be free again and deeply grateful to all those who worked to bring about my release ... It is a sign for the future of Iraq that Iraqi soldiers played a role in my release."Iraqis are now hearing that their own troops rescued this man and can claim a victory over the thugs who are attacking civilians in their efforts to keep the country from stabilizing.
The only ways out of the Iraq mess are:
- At least double the American forces in Iraq, to increase security and allow the country to persue a path of stabilization. This won't happen because it means the Bush administration has to admit a mistake as well as impose a draft, which will be politically unpopular.
- Bring in the UN and let them solve it. This won't happen because it means the Bush administration has to admit a mistake, and go against the John Birch Society's anti-UN campaign.
- Iraqis take over security functions, enabling the US to leave.
The third is why today's rescue is such good news. The Iraqis are getting the credit and the thanks, and Iraqis need to hear this. Maybe it will give them some hope and inspiration. There is no other realistic solution that I can see.
Challenging earlier findings, two studies from the Heritage Foundation reported yesterday that young people who took virginity pledges had lower rates of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases and engaged in fewer risky sexual behaviors.Well, of COURSE they did! That's what studies from the Heritage Foundation DO! They say whatEVER the Christian-right funders TELL them to say! Jeeze.
Independent experts called the new findings provocative, but criticized the Heritage team's analysis as flawed and lacking the statistical evidence to back its conclusions. The new findings have not been submitted to a journal for publication, an author said. The independent experts who reviewed the study said the findings were unlikely to be published in their present form.So why did you put it in the New York Times, then? Oh, wait ... I think I know.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which helped pay for the study, declined through a spokeswoman to comment on the new study.Got that? The CDC used your tax dollars to pay Heritage Foundaton for this study. Remember the story about all the young interns being trained to be right-wing operatives at ... the Heritage Foundaton? Tax dollars going to the Hertage Foundation for research that backs up Christian-right ideology. And, no doubt, also happens to finance their efforts on behalf of The Party.
Right-wing takeover is almost complete. Watch your backs!
A former Bush team member during his first administration is now voicing serious doubts about the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9-11.From Drudge, no less!
[. . .] also served as director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas and is now professor emeritus at Texas A&M University said, "If demolition destroyed three steel skyscrapers at the World Trade Center on 9/11, then the case for an 'inside job' and a government attack on America would be compelling. ... Only professional demolition appears to account for the full range of facts associated with the collapse of the three buildings."
Update - To be clear, I'm not endorsing this, my "Wow" is because it is a former Bush admin official saying it. (Who is it that excuses everything they put out by saying. "We report, you decide"?)
The Reto Power ad on the right goes to a cute animation.
How'd you like to be in basic training, two weeks from now?
Don't think that your flat feet or beer belly are going to get you an exemption:
You'll have to take a physical exam, but anyone "practicing their profession in the private sector" will be automatically "considered able to do the same in a military environment, notwithstanding physical conditions which would cause rejection as a regular registrant."
Or your gender:
Congress could decide not to include women in the medical draft. But it will be hard to get enough nurses and other professionals in some of the desired specialities without drafting women. A health care workers draft will most likely include women.
Ain't that just dandy? Found this website from a pamphlet tucked into the literature rack at my local library.
See below for more "interesting" info... such as the fact that the same rationale that makes medical professionals eligible could easily be extended to other professions where expertise is scarce and the need is critical - including "computer specialists".
The "Health Care Personnel Delivery System" and the Medical Draft
If you think the draft is just for young men, think again. The first people to be drafted will probably be health care workers. If you're a doctor, nurse, technician, therapist, or other medical professional -- man or woman, age 20 through 44 -- and if Congress authorizes a draft, you could be in boot camp less than two weeks from today.
This leaflet explains how a medical draft is likely to work, what you can do now if you don't want to be drafted, and why we hope you'll join us in draft resistance.
[... continued at URL above ...]
Here's a comment worthy of noting, embedded in the page above:
According to one military doctor, writing in a 2004 medical journal article explaining Selective Service plans:
A physician draft is the most likely conscription into the military in the near future.... Currently, this ["special skills"] mission is only for health care personnel, but in the future it is foreseeable it may include linguists, environmental engineers, computer specialists, and other professions.
More handy dandy info:
Selective Service says it is prepared to draft people "professionally qualified" in more than 60 medical specialties [see the list on the last page of the proposed regulations], including physicians, dentists, psychologists, therapists, dietitians, technicians, nurses, veterinarians, pharmacists, opticians, "other medical care and treatment personnel", and "miscellaneous allied specialists".
There's a list of newsarticles and other relevant links at the bottom of the page... here's a sampling (demonstrates that this isn't rhetorical paranoia):
# Health Care Personnel Delivery System: Another Doctor Draft?
(Wisconsin Medical Journal, 2004; by the state surgeon of the Wisconsin Army National Guard)
# U.S. Has Contingency Plans for a Draft of Medical Workers
(The New York Times, 19 October 2004)
# Possibility Of A Military Draft Of Doctors Worries The AMA
(Wall Street Journal, 8 December 2004)
A PDF of the flyer that caught my attention, along with other printable information for our offline friends (or for distribution at mass meetings, etc.) is available here.
June 14, 2005
Help! Any ideas, comments welcome.My answer? Sell now, take the $85,000 loss, before things get worse. (Update - Oops, they're out the $85,000 PLUS the closing costs from buying PLUS the costs of selling, which can be quite high -- realtor commissions, appraisals, inspections, repairs, etc.)
My partner and I are in a mess with a brand new house in Las Vegas. Here are the details.
1. AUG 2004, we paid $445,000 for a Pulte model in the community of Aliante, North Las Vegas.
2. 100% financed and still owe roughly the same.
2. Payment is $3000/month.
3. Currently could only sell for about $360,000.
4. Finally found tenants to lease out for $1100/month in APR to reduce neg cash flow to $1900/month.
We are running out of cash quickly. We desperately need some ideas on how to get out of this house immediately.
Kevin knocks it down, which you should read. His knockdown refers back to something he wrote a while ago,
The answer, of course, is that Reagan didn't grow his way out of the deficits caused by his 1981 tax cut. As the chart on the right shows (adapted from this Treasury report), he raised taxes twice in 1982, and then raised them again in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1987.Angry Bear points out that the Republicans know these things, too, yet they continue to claim that tax revenue "doubled after Reagan's tax cuts." (Limbaugh must say it once or twce a week.) What's it called when you know something is not true, but you say it anyway, over and over?
I want to add a point to this. In July 2002, I wrote that,
...In 1981 the on-budget (not from Social Security) tax receipts were $469 billion which was a 16% increase over the prior year. Then the Reagan tax cuts started. 1982 tax receipts were $474.3 billion, 1.1% over 1981, and the on-budget deficit shot up to $120 billion, an increase of 62% in a single year!. 1983 receipts were $453.2 billion, a DROP of 4.4% ...The increase in the Social Security tax went back out to the rich. And now they say the government doesn't have the money to pay back what was borrowed from Social Security!
... the 1984 Deficit Reduction Act, the largest tax increase in our history. Tax receipts climbed to $500.3 billion, a 10.4% increase, and the deficit shrank almost 11% to $185.6 billion.
In 1985 Congress passed the Gramm-Rudmann-Hollings Anti-Deficit Act. In 1985 tax receipts were $548 billion, a 9.5% increase. But now the huge military spending increases AND the debt interest were kicking in and the deficit rose to $221 billion, an increase of 19%.
[. . .] Also during this time Congress passed the huge Social Security tax increase, dramatically increasing a tax ONLY paid by poor and middle class working people. This is the largest tax item in most people's paychecks and is not counted when we're told that the rich pay a large share of taxes. In 1984 and 1985 Social Security tax receipts jumped 12%!, and continued to increase through the 80’s, generating huge surpluses which were used to make the huge deficits look lower. This money collected from the poor and middle class workers went out to pay for Reagans's tax cuts for the rich. (And now it is being used to pay for Bush's huge tax cuts for the rich.) [emphasisadded today]
I say we should get the money FROM where the money WENT!
(See also GOP Senators May Make 69 Retirement Age)
June 13, 2005
Impeaching President Bush before a new Constitutional consensus has been reached in this nation would cause a terrible split and schism and lead almost inevitably to Civil War. That may indeed happen, but it would be short sighted. While I hate the guy, it is far better to let him linger and tar him with the deeds of his own hands' fashioning, until he and the Republicans become noxious to every single non-fanatic American. The better route is to let the stench of mendacity and fanaticism rise to high heaven while the apologists and defenders of such a creed look ever more creepy and ever more deluded.Read the whole thing. He makes some good points. On the other hand, a lot of the trouble we're in now is because they let Reagan's crew get away with Iran Contra.
Expose Republican corruption.
Iraq Deserves a Truman Commission
... During World War II, Harry Truman established what became known as the Truman Commission. The Commission consisted of a group of dedicated public servants who were committed to examining all financial and military transactions related to the war effort. Their work served to expose and eliminate any waste, mismanagement, or corruption which could have detracted from the effectiveness of Allied troops. The accountability and efficiency which they helped to create and defend was pivotal to winning the war.Sign the petition for a commission to find out where the money went.
[. . .] In 2004, the American public became aware that Halliburton - the company with perhaps more ties to the White House than any other and a recipient of billions of dollars worth of reconstruction contracts - had been overcharging the Army for gasoline, inflating its profits at the expense of our troops. Then, earlier this year, the Special Inspector General for the Iraqi Reconstruction released a study stating that nothing less than $9 billion dollars in reconstruction money - nearly 5 percent of the total amount of money spent on the War - could not be accounted for. And just last week, new reports revealed that approximately $100 million theoretically spent on small yet vital building projects between 2003 and 2004 has simply disappeared, most likely into a black hole of unchecked fraud and incompetence.
Go see MyDD :: Downing Street Blogswarm Update by someone named Gary Boatwright.
The "Downing Street Memo" is a document leaked from the British government, summarizing a Prime and Cabinet Minister-level briefing covering a July 23, 2002 meeting with the top people in the Bush Administration about Iraq. The memo says that the decision had been made to invade, that secret military action had already started in hope of provoking Iraq to do something that could justify an invasion, and the intelligence was being "fixed around the policy." This memo is as close as you can get to proof that the Bush Administration lied to the public and the Congress. We all knew that, of course, but this is proof - the kind of evidence that will stand up in a trial, if you get my drift.
On the other hand, many of the people who are losing their jobs voted for someone's job to get thrown of the island.
How did they do this? By voting for a lower tax, lower capital growth America, by voting, and continuing to vote, for rent, rather than labor or capital, being the favored sector of the economy. Simple test: until you are willing to repeal the massive deductions for buying or selling a home, don't bitch about your job going to India. You are voting for rent, and have to expect that employers will seek to use convenience (trade) to avoid paying for ground rent (the wages needed to buy said expensive home).
The collision course is this: if people want a society where there can be lucky big winners - that is people who bought in the right place at the right time - then they have to accept there will be unlucky big losers. That's what the egalitarian question means: if you want the right to screw someone else over and be lots richer than they are, then you have to give that right to others. Statisically speaking, you're gonna get screwed.
Over at Media Transparency: 15 Years in, Milwaukee's Voucher experiment lacks accountability, excels in religious education,
The amount of taxpayer money going to pay for religious education in Milwaukee has no parallel in the last century of American life. About 70% of the students in the program attend religious schools.Also good today, The Resurrection of Charles Colson.
Did I mention that their parent organization Cursor is having a fundraiser?
June 12, 2005
Why wasn't Biden smart enough to also say that we are going to need a draft because of the "Republican war?"
The word "draft" should NEVER be spoken unless it is accompanied by the words "Republican war."
Othwise what the public will hear is "The DEMOCRATS are calling for a draft!"
With the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in serious trouble, a prominent business leader recently laid it on the line: Business groups are prepared to cut off campaign contributions to House members who oppose the pact.It is a crime to offer campaign contributions linked directly to specific legislation on a quid pro quo basis. It is against the law. This person should be put in jail and made an example of.
"If you [lawmakers] are going to vote against it, it's going to cost you," Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, warned recently during a meeting on Capitol Hill of leaders of a 500-plus business-trade association coalition with more than 500 members.
I'm serious. During the Medicare "reform" vote Rep. Nick Smith of Michigan was told that campaign funds for his son's campaign would be withheld if he did not support the bill. This was a crime and was investigated as a crime. From the Slate story:
United States Code, Title 18, Section 201, "Bribery of public officials and witnesses," states that under federal law, a person commits bribery if he(b) directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official or person who has been selected to be a public official, or offers or promises any public official or any person who has been selected to be a public official to give anything of value to any other person or entity, with intent—
(A) to influence any official act;
Mother Jones interviewed Lou Dobbs about outsourcing in a February issue, Exporting America:
MJ.com: What type of protections can the U.S. include in future trade agreements to place the American worker at less of a disadvantage?
LD: To make the American worker more competitive, what we should really be talking about is preserving the American way of life. Environmental protection. Protection for our working men and women. That has built up over 100 years in this country, and we are simply at risk of losing all of those protections. As we should have with NAFTA, we should sign only agreements with protections on the environment and on labor. Either we have that with every trading partner, or we will be at a disadvantage.
The ultimate extension of the free-trade policies that are being pursued is that not only will there be a race to the bottom for wages for working men and women, but we're also going to have to eradicate the "inconvenient" and uncompetitive environmental protections that allow us to drink clean water and breathe clean air. And, by the way, those nasty child-labor laws could be an encumbrance to competitiveness; maybe we should get rid of those as well. How far are we going to roll back the progress of the past century?
Gee. Is Lou Dobbs part of the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy? Or is he an evolutionary throwback to honest journalism? It would be nice if someone in the Beltway Democratic Elite had read Lou's book. On the other hand, maybe they have and prefer the economic theories of CATO and The Heritage Foundation. Maybe they like exporting American jobs as much as Joe Biden likes MBNA. Maybe they just like being chummy with corporate lobbyists.
When American manufacturing jobs headed overseas in the 1990s, supporters of tariff-free trade argued that newly unemployed workers could simply find jobs in the growing high-tech sector. Yet multinational corporations soon outsourced white-collar and service-industry jobs as well, with overseas labor fielding support questions from computer users, programming software, and even examining X-rays and MRI scans for American consumers.
Outsourcing has found a fierce opponent in journalist Lou Dobbs. Since 2003, his CNN news show Lou Dobbs Tonight has featured a recurring segment in which Dobbs and his team report on corporations sending jobs overseas. He has compiled an online list of outsourcers, and recently wrote a book on the practice entitled Exporting America: Why Corporate Greed Is Shipping American Jobs Overseas. Dobbs recently spoke with MotherJones.com about outsourcing and its effects, current and potential, on the American economy.
There's no point in retraining if American companies are shipping all of their jobs overseas:
MJ.com: When asked about outsourcing during the presidential debates, George Bush talked about workers needing more education and more skills. But where will the jobs come from for them to use those skills?
LD: That's a question I've been asking for two years. This faith-based economics that seems to be the hallmark of this administration is leading us into a no man's land of inexplicable possibilities. This administration -- and frankly, it's both parties, Democrats and Republicans as well as the administration -- seems indifferent to the impact of a trade deficit that now amounts to $4 trillion in external debt. We have to borrow nearly $3 billion a day to support it. The dollar has plummeted. And yet everyone keeps saying, "Free trade is good for you." I cannot find anyone for whom free trade is good.
As we go deeper in debt, we continue to lose jobs and diminish our manufacturing base. Many people want to talk about our dependency on foreign oil, and it's a legitimate and real concern. But so is our dependency on the rest of the world for our clothing, our food, our computers and our consumer electronics. Our dependency isn't just on foreign oil; we can't even clothe ourselves. Free-trade economists will tell you we're a technology economy, but we don't even produce the technological components that are the foundation of a technology economy.
This is interesting. China is responsible for more direct foreign investment in America than the federal government? Or American companies? Or both?
MJ.com: Proponents of outsourcing also point to what they call "insourcing," with overseas companies opening factories here. Does that provide any hope?
LD: It's an interesting semantic game that has been played in the free-trade debate. The Bush administration has created this expression of "insourcing" to counter arguments and concerns about outsourcing of American jobs to cheaper labor markets. When they talk about insourcing, they're really referring to foreign direct investment in this country. We can't even keep up with the Chinese government on foreign direct investment in this country; China has for the first time surpassed the United States in that regard.
The Japanese car plants are here because Ronald Reagan -- who many of the so-called free traders hold up as a paragon of free trade -- demanded that those plants be created here if they were going to participate in our economy and enjoy the benefits of the world's largest consumer economy. That wasn't free trade; it was rational, balanced, reciprocal trade -- which is the course we should be pursuing right now, and which all of our trade partners are pursuing. We're the only nation in the world that just mindlessly opens our markets irrespective of the constraints on our own goods and services.
Who knew that Ronald Reagan was a fair trade socialist who hated America? Wouln't it be nice if the Democratic Party was supporting the American workers as forcefully as Ronald Reagan did? How did the Democratic Party get to the right of Ronald Reagan on global trade? Oh, that's right. They started chasing corporate compaign contributions instead of protecting labor unions and worker's rights.
There is much, much more. If you want to understand how intellectually bankrkupt the free market economic utopians really are, read the rest of the interview, then order Lou's book.
Three of my favorite books on economics are:
Unsustainable: How Economic Dogma Is Destroying American Prosperity by Eamonn Fingleton
June 11, 2005
I like Brad DeLong's blog a lot. When he runs one of his frequent "We Need a Better Press Corps" pieces, it's almost always good. Except that he seems to think that it's a competency problem. It isn't.
It's a management problem. The people who own and run the media want dishonest political journalism. That's the whole story.
Even Bob Somerby, our sharpest media critic, does not talk much about the management level. But that's where the problem is.
The Party has taken over The State and will soon control The Media.
None of it is accidental. These things are happening because the people in charge want them to happen. And they're going to keep on happening for the same reason.
And if someone whines "conspiracy theory" -- what's the problem with the idea that management controls labor?
We're dealing with a regime of deliberate misinformation. No more rhetorical questions, please, Brad. It's like you're playing dumb.
I don't know if any of you are fans of my old Zizka site, but as early as June 17 this site will go off the air. If anyone wants to steal the Zizka stuff, it's fine with me.
I'm in traffic school today, which is basically all-day detention for adults. I ran a stop sign because I wasn't paying attention -- while looking for a place to live a couple months ago. Everyone else here was being picked on by cops who had quotas to meet.
They just showed two hours of 20-year-old videos. One was about personal safety, and I didn't know that you must always, ALWAYS look under your car before getting into it, because someone might be waiting to grab your ankles.
June 10, 2005
The news that top Ohio Republicans turned over the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation fund to Republican Party donors shouldn't be a surprise. There are accusations that both George and Jeb Bush did the same thing in their own states.
In Texas, Governor George Bush was accused of turning over $9 billion of University of Texas assets to campaign donors. Paul Krugman wrote about this in George W. Bush's steps to wealth,
The University of Texas, though a state institution, has a large endowment. As governor, Mr. Bush changed the rules governing that endowment, eliminating the requirements to disclose "all details concerning the investments made and income realized," and to have "a well-recognized performance measurement service" assess investment results. That is, government officials no longer had to tell the public what they were doing with public money, or allow an independent performance assessment. Then Mr. Bush "privatized" (his term) $9 billion in university assets, transferring them to a nonprofit corporation known as UTIMCO that could make investment decisions behind closed doors.More on this from Joe Conason and here.
In effect, the money was put under the control of Utimco's chairman: Tom Hicks. Under his direction, at least $450 million was invested in private funds managed by Mr. Hicks's business associates and major Republican Party donors. The managers of such funds earn big fees. Due to Mr. Bush's change in the rules, these investments were hidden from public view; an employee of Utimco who alerted university auditors was summarily fired. Even now, it's hard to find out how these investments turned out, though they seem to have done quite badly.
In Florida the accusation is that Governor Jeb Bush tried to shore up Enron's plummeting stock with millions from the state's pension system. See AFSCME Investigation Reveals Mismanagement by Florida Trustees Led to State Pension System's $335 Million Loss on Enron, Florida's Last-Minute Enron Stock Buys Probed and Public Citizen -- Letter to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. More here.
If you live in a state where Republicans run things, this might be a good time to see if the money is still there.
E. J. Dionne today, in Kerried Away,
That raises the larger question. The Republicans and their allies spent millions taking Kerry apart. They would have done the same to John Edwards, Wesley Clark or Dean. Would those three have handled the attacks better? Who knows? Would they have looked a lot worse for the wear? You bet.Same for criticizing Dean.
[...] Were John Kerry to quit politics and spend the rest of his life windsurfing off Nantucket, Democrats would still have to figure out how to deal with national security, social issues and economic stress. That's hard work. Making fun of Kerry is easy, fashionable and, ultimately, useless.
Where do we go from here? Over the last few years I have written about the Republican Party's "infrastructure." This is the network of organizations that comes up with The Party's ideas, develops and spreads the message, recruits and trains the troops and candidates, and everything else needed to make The Party dominant in American politics. The actual Republican Party organization itself is a small part of - and not in control of - this operation.
So now people are "getting it" and starting to talk about developing "Progressive Infrastructure." At the recent Take Back America conference lots of people were talking about this, but it seemed to me that the focus was largely on development of political infrastructure - the tactical field operations for getting out the vote. This is, of course, necessary. But that effort is one of trying to get to the polls a larger and larger share of a shrinking base.
I think another part of the Republican machine needs to be understood and countered. This is the "idea development" part of the infrastructure. I'm talking about longer-term intellectual policy and strategy development. These are the ideological advocacy organizations that persuade people to become conservatives. IN ADDITION to a comprehensive tactical infrastructure we need to build several think tanks focused entirely on articulating the Progressive vision, and on explaining to Americans why Progressive values and ideas are better for them than conservative values and ideas. Over time this will result in more Progressive voters, and greater support for Progressive programs and candidates. I haven't heard this talked about much, and I'm not sure that enough people really understand that the success of the Republican machine comes out of these organizations, not the other way around.
David Sirota recently wrote,
The right understands that creating and fostering a conservative conviction/ideology naturally leads to political support for the Republican Party - and that political support is far stronger and more fervent than a blind ideologically-deprived loyalty to a partisan label. That investment in "conviction infrastructure" (aka. ideological/issue organizations) as opposed to investment exclusively in a partisan infrastructure (aka. the RNC, the Young Republicans, etc.) is one of the reasons why Republican politicians always seem to know where they stand - even on bills/issues they don't know much about. It is because they have an ideology (however disgusting) that reflexively guides them. It's unfortunately also why Democrats - who have too often invested in partisan and not conviction infrastructure - regularly fracture off into disunity.It costs money. It should be an underlying Progressive value to take care of each other -- to donate at least $100 per year to Progressive organizations -- this is in addition to donations to candidates.
It strikes me that the "free traders" are describing some kind of idealized system THAT DOESN'T EXIST! They're like the Ayn Randians - brains malfunctioning, fixated on a simplified utopian description.
Is is the words used? "Free" sounds so nice.
Science is supposed to DEscribe. Ideology is "if only people would do so-and-so". I suggest that even the use of the words "free trade" is a drift into ideology.
Is it "free" trade when China pegs its currency? Is it "free" trade when other countries MURDER people who try to form unions? Is it "free" trade when workers live in barracks surrounded by barbed wire, paid not even enough to have a place to live? Is it "free" trade when costs are externalized by dumping chemicals in the water and the air?
I say we require "market development" tarrifs on imported goods. The tarrif would reflect the wages paid by the exporting country: the more they pay, the lower the tarrif. This DEVELOPS A MARKET for our own goods, instead of just sending our jobs away with nothing in return.
June 9, 2005
Bush lied. And lied. And lied. And continues to lie.
America's sons and daughters died. And died. And died. And they continue to die.
I keep hearing people say that Howard Dean should be more careful not to say things that the Republicans can twist around and make into something that sounds bad. They say that Dean is "just giving them ammunition." I call this the "being afraid that Rush Limbaugh is going to say something bad about them" syndrome.
I have some news. Sit down. Prepare yourself. Take a breath. Here it comes:
Rush Limbaugh is going to say something bad about you. Republicans are going to twist whatever you say. It doesn't matter what it is that you actually say. They lie. They distort. They manipulate. Get it into your head.
As much as Howard Dean is able to advance a narrative that the Republican Party is a party of white male Christians, it forces Hispanics, women, blacks and Jews to return to the Democrats.
As much as Howard Dean is able to advance a narrative that Republicans only work for the interests of the rich that brings blue collar and middle class people back to the Democrats.
I mean, why do you THINK the Republicans are trying to get him to stop saying that?
Sen. Obama: Dean Using 'Religion to Divide'And the Washington Times is happy today, Democrats decry Dean's rhetoric,
Dean Riles Both Sides of the Aisle
Dean Defends Slurs Against GOP
Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut -- who like Mr. Dean sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 -- said he doesn't think he will be the only one to recommend an apology when the chairman meets for lunch today with Senate Democrats.Too many Democrats, like Lieberman, are criticizing Dean! How does that help us? Do you hear Republicans criticizing each other in public? Bill at Liberal Oasis says,
"I thought the comment that he made about the Republican Party being a white, Christian party was just way over the top," Mr. Lieberman said. "It was divisive and wrong, and I hope he apologizes for it."
They all have done nothing but feed the GOP narrative that our party leader has contempt for voters.Question, when was the last time you heard Lieberman calling for an apology from a Republican for remarks about Democrats or Liberals? The Agonist says,
[. . .] Instead, they could have stood with Dean, put Dean’s words in proper context, and amplified the message Dean was trying to send, not the message the GOP is trying to send.
"...when was the last time you saw an orgy of recriminations in Republican ranks about what Tom DeLay said? He is certainly a lot more powerful than Dean."Atrios has a good solution,
"So if you're a wee bit unhappy with the way the spoiled brat Dem insiders are behaving, go give Howard Dean a few bucks."And raised more than a little bit. (Update - more here.) But Stirling Newberry at BOPNews goes after Atrios for it.
What do I think? It happens that I was there in the room when Dean said,
"you know, the idea that you have to wait on line for eight hours to cast your ballot in Florida -- there's something the matter with that. You think people can work all day and then pick up their kids at child care or wherever, and get home and then have a -- still manage to sandwich in an eight-hour vote? Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that, because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives."It was clear what he MEANT. It was a great line. You have to parse that pretty closely to dig out the line people are complaining about. But Republicans talk about "Democrats" and "liberals' all the time. THEY never specify "Democratic party leaders."
I thought the things Dean said were quite good, and are exactly the kind of things the country needs to be hearing. It's called a strategic narrative, a "story" that leaves an impression. The Republicans have a narrative about Democrats being treasonous, weak America-haters and they say it all the time. They say terrible things about ALL Democrats and liberals because it advances the narrative. Well, Dean is advancing a narrative about Repubicans, and it is a good one and it is the right one and it is true. Good for him!
But beyond that, Democrats should not be aiding the Right's efforts to divide us. The "Dean's mouth" story is a right-wing narrative. It is driven by Drudge and the rest of them. Don't fall for it. If you want to attack someone, attack someone who is on the other side.
Update - What he says.
June 8, 2005
Courtesy of Pam's House Blend, Southern Poverty Law Center goes after the AmTaliban :
“Our bailiwick is extremism,” he said. “We’ve avoided the Christian Right in the past, and we don’t feel we’ve expanded to include the Christian Right — we feel very strongly they have entered our world [of extremism].
-- Mark Potok, editor of SPLC's Intelligent Report.
The Southern Voice reports that the Southern Poverty Law Center is going after our little hot-to-trot friends in the AmTaliban. In the article "Holy War: The Religious Right's Crusade Against Gays Heats Up," SPLC's magazine, The Intelligence Report.the SoVo article, which features quotes from pro-gay minister (and former 'ex-gay' -- he got out of the self-loathing cycle) Mel White and Melissa Fryrear "gender issues analyst for Focus on the Family and a self-described former lesbian."
There's also a great round-up with thumbnail sketches of the players. If you're a regular House Blender, you'll see that these names come up frequently because of their completely unhinged homophobic statements.
She accidentally left a 5 1/2" butter knife with a rounded tip and serrated edge buried in a deep pocket of her carry on cooler. Now she's on the terrorist "watch list", and has been fined $500. How this helps make America more secure is beyond me.
A scary quote:
"I said what about my constitutional rights? And they said 'not at this point ... you don't have any'."
A great quote (maybe Martin Niemoller's lament won't be repeated):
"This is not the way my country should be treating me," she said. My concern is that if that's the way they're treating American citizens I would hate to think how they're treating other people. It's crazy."
Here's the article:
DES MOINES - Cecilia Beaman is a 57-year-old grandmother, a principal at Pacific Middle School in Des Moines, and as of Sunday is also a suspected terrorist.
UPDATE: A perceptive commentator noticed that the Des Moines referred to in the article is in the state of Washington, not Iowa.
George Bush on Climate Change: "I believe that not only can we solve a greenhouse gas, I believe we will."
Here's George Bush's response to recent lobbying efforts by Tony Blair on climate change, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
"GEORGE BUSH: See there's a lot of things we're doing* in America, and I believe that not only can we solve a greenhouse gas, I believe we will. And I appreciate the Prime Minister bringing this issue up and I look forward to sharing that which we know here in America with not only the G8 members, but equally importantly, with developing countries."
I had to read it through several times before I was able to convince myself that this wasn't a parody.
* the transcript says "going", but I listened to the audio (accompanying the article), and he clearly says "doing"... the rest of the quote is accurate.
The Environment News Service reports that the ultimate "reality-based community" (the global scientific community) has made an emphatic and unified statement on global warming.
The quote below is an excerpt from a joint statement by the national academies of science of the G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) and Brazil, China and India (the three largest developing nations).
"The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. ... Failure to implement significant reductions in net greenhouse gas emissions now, will make the job much harder in the future."
The joint statement is particularly significant, because this is the first time the United States' National Academy of Science has signed on to a joint statement and made specific policy recommendations - this further undermines the Bush Administration's contention that "significant and fundamental" uncertainities (link points to NY Times article re: edits made to government reports on climate change by former oil industry lobbyist working for Bush Administration), along with a lack of consensus among the scientific community, still remain.
Opening text and link to full statement enclosed below.
WASHINGTON, DC, June 7, 2005 (ENS) - The national academies of Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States issued this joint statement today. They include all the G8 countries plus Brazil, China and India, the three largest developing nations.
Climate change is real
There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring1. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities (IPCC 2001)2. This warming has already led to changes in the Earth's climate.
[... continued at URL above ...]
... according to The Guardian (UK):
One source close to the negotiations called the support of the US National Academy of Sciences "unprecedented".
In 2001 the US academy declined to sign a similar joint statement because it was preparing its own report on the issue for the Bush administration.
In a separate 1992 report it concluded: "Despite the great uncertainties, greenhouse warming is a potential threat sufficient to justify action now," but until now it has stopped short of making specific policy recommendations.
... the inclusion of the National Academy of Science (U.S.) in this statement is significant, because it removes the last wisp of scientific credibility from the Bush Administration's claim that no consensus exists that climate change is real.
Of course, this only applies to those of us living in the "reality-based community", but still - this is a significant event. People are persuaded by the weight of evidence and opinion, and this statement is a powerful tool that can be used to batter down the last bastions of resistance and denial in the corporate world and the global political establishment (read "the Republican Party").
Remember the Microsoft trial? The government won, and was looking for a remedy to Microsoft's crimes. But then the new Bush administration just said "never mind" and let Microsoft off the hook to continue what they had been doing.
Remember the tobacco company crimes? Well here we go again: Tobacco Escapes Huge Penalty,
After eight months of courtroom argument, Justice Department lawyers abruptly upset a landmark civil racketeering case against the tobacco industry yesterday by asking for less than 8 percent of the expected penalty.This money was not just a penalty, it was supposed to fund anti-smoking campaigns. So the Republicans let them off the hook and let them continue to receive revenue from the addicted customers.
[. . .] Sources and government officials close to the case said the trial lawyers wanted to request $130 billion for smoking-cessation programs but were pressured by leaders in the attorney general's office ... to make the cut.
[. . .] Facing those same internal documents in another suit,the tobacco industry in 1998 agreed to pay $246 billion to settle a lawsuit filed by states to recover their costs for the medical treatment of smokers.
Maybe a call to your member of Congress or the Senate might help you vent.
(Through The Left Coaster)
As usual, Bilmon has a sensible analysis for the Democratic Party on the whole Howard Dean brouhaha.
Or, as the baseball legend reportedly said while managing the New York Mets through their disastrous first season: "Can't anybody here play this game?" If the Democratic Party were a baseball team, I've no doubt Stengel would be swearing at them from the dugout steps right now. To my mind, the latest flap over Howard Dean's, um, creative mouth highlights everything that's tactically wrong with the party. (I'd say strategically wrong, too, but that would be criticizing something that doesn't exist.)
Criticizing the Democratic strategy is like criticizing zero for not adding up. The Democratic leadership is meekly dodging the Downing Street Memo, dodging demanding an exit strategy from Iraq and dodging any overall strategy for 2006 or 2008.
What really bothers the fossils in the Democratic party is that Howard Dean is taking a stand for Democratic values and making them look pale by comparison. Since they can't compete with him on the issues, they are trying to tear him down to their low level of issue avoidance.
The Democratic Dinos should be criticizing and attacking the RNC Chair instead of the DNC Chair:
But, as witless as Dean's crack was, his immediate repudiation by the mushy moderates -- in this case, John "Opie" Edwards and Joe "Badger" -- was in some ways worse.
Edwards and Biden may have thought they were immunizing themselves by pushing the media knife a little deeper into Dean's back, but all they did was ensure another couple of days of coverage for the "story" and give the GOP spinmeisters some fresh ammo to fire back at Dean -- who, whether they like it or not, is the chairman of the entire Democratic Party, not just the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.
The DLC and the Corporate Democrats did everything they could to stop the grassroots movement to stop Howard Dean. They lost. The grassroots won. Howard Dean is not going to shut up, and I applaud him for that. His critics are splitting the party, not his criticism of the Republican party.
But Dean, or at least his political style, represents the future of the Democratic Party (assuming, of course, that it has a future.) Edwards and Biden, on the other hand, are products of an era in which accommodation to the conservative tide was the smartest survival strategy for most ambitious Democratic pols.
I don't necessarily hold that against them -- there's a lot to be said for survival -- but for the party as a whole their strategy is an evolutionary dead end. The task for the Democratic wing of the Democratic party, it seems to me, is to attack the GOP machine at its weak points whenever and wherever possible, in the most aggressive way possible, while at the same time putting forward a economic and social agenda that is solidly progressive (as liberals understand the term) but also has common-sense, populist appeal.
Absolutely nothing Howard Dean is doing or saying is preventing any of the Democratic Presidential wannabees from putting forward an economic and social agenda. The only thing standing in their way is their own timidity and failure to take a stand on the issues.
Democrats need to get over their minority mentality. Howard Dean is demonstrating exactly how to break out of the battered wife syndome that Kerry and the DLC are locked in to. You fight back against the aggressor.
But I do know that parties with a minority mentality (i.e. that try to blur differences instead of sharpening them) tend to stay in the minority. And one of the classic symptoms of the minority mentality is cowardice -- being ready at the drop of a hat to turn on your own leaders because they've made a gaffe or heated up the debate beyond your own personal comfort zone.
So exactly what is the issue that Richardson or any other Democrat disagrees with? Do they want to conceed that the Republican party is the party of inclusion and racial tolerance?
If Edwards and Biden had disagreed with Dean over a matter of policy I'd probably feel differently about their public criticism: Marching in partisan lockstep obviously can be as unhealthy and destructive as forming the firing squads in a circle. But this was purely an exercise in duck and cover -- even though Dean was dead right on the actual issue at hand and they knew it.
Howard Dean is exactly right again. The Republican party is the party of racism and Christian white guys. The only way to pull their cover is . . . (drumroll) . . . to pull their cover. The Democratic party cannot allow the Republican party to pretend to be the party of racial inclusiveness when they are not.
I am looking forward to Rep. John Connyers reaction to Howard Dean. I am looking forward to the reaction of Jesse Jackson, Barak Obama and yeah, you heard me right, Rev. Al Sharpton.
It's time for the second stringers to get sent down to the farm team and for the real hardball players to take the field. Howard Dean is a real hardball player.
Which, to switch back to my original baseball metaphor, only shows how far the Dems have to go even to get up to the level of play of the '62 Mets -- much less the "Miracle Mets" of 1969. But then, the Mets didn't make it to the World Series with the same players (or manager) they fielded in that dismal first season. It took a whole new team. And I suspect the same will be true of the Democrats.
Biden and Kerry are both has beens and milquetoast wannabees. Edwards and Richardson have been shown a whole new kind of Democrat that they can't compete with. A fiery, no holds barred Democrat who knows how to oppose political tyranny.
June 7, 2005
If you are ever going to appear on TV, or know anyone who does, or will be speaking where the press will question you, read Daily Kos :: Interview Skills 101--Surviving the Fox Hunt. This is exactly the kind of media training people on the right receive. Read it and then you'll recognize some of the tricks they use.
I believe we can teach ourselves to use aggressively simple communication tactics in support of the truth more effectively than Rs can use those same tactics to deceive and destroy. But first we must accept the fact that this strategy works and study it until we can thoroughly understand and adapt it.
Chris Bowers at MyDD: Liberal Blogosphere Surpasses Cable News:
By comparison [to cable news audience numbers], last week the Liberal Blog Advertising Network received 5.915 million page views, and that was the worst week in a while, because of Memorial Day. Typically, the Network generates over eight million page views per week. Further, roughly 70% of those page views came from the 25-54 demographic. In other words, these fifty-seven liberal blogs combined have already equaled, if not surpassed, the three cable news networks combined as a source of news among Americans under 55. Without any doubt, the blogosphere in general now far surpasses the three cable news networks as a source for news among Americans under 55.If you know anyone trying to sell a product, send them to the Liberal Blog Advertising Network. It costs a LOT less than advertising on TV! And it reaches more people.
It occurs to me that risky loans make other loans more risky. Here's what I mean. When a bank gives a loan to someone who is on the borderline of making the payments, they take the risk of ending up with a default. And right now, at least around here, housing loans are no-down-payment, interest-only, adjustable-rate mortgages made to 21-year-olds who have been employed for three months on their first job. So there is a very, very high risk of defaults. Very.
Foreclosures often sell for a lower price. And housing prices are determined by the price of neighboring houses. Because so MANY mortgages are this kind of loan now, the lower price on the foreclosed house likely as not means that the house next door is now "underwater" -- worth less than the amount still owed on the loan that bought it.
At some point, seeing what's coming, that homeowner puts the house up for sale and takes what they can get. Now the whole neighborhood is panicking and prices are cascading down. ALL the houses are underwater. So ALL the risky loans are even riskier.
This is what I mean by risky loans making other loans even riskier. They almost guarantee a certain number of foreclosures, which means distress sales, which puts the other risky loans underwater. So these banks making these loans are blowing it for all the other lenders. This is a situation crying out for the government to do something, and soon.
It is just so sad
when good loans go bad.
I've been taking my own advice and looking at lots of blogs I haven't visited for a while. Best blog graphic: A Little Pollyanna.
I'm not sure I want a Daily Aneurysm
I've got a cold, probably form being on an airplane. And I have to catch up on all the pesky "day job" stuff. So I haven't been blogging much. I will be writing about last week's Take Back America conference and other things soon.
In the meantime, pick two or three random blogs from the blogroll on the left -- blogs you have never visited before -- and go have a look. It's always a good idea to visit a new blog once in a while. There are a lot of very smart people out there blogging away and saying some very important things.
I have described blogging as a near-perfect marketplace of ideas, and here's how it works: Most blogs have at least one reader. Some have two or three, and one of those might also have a blog. When someone writes something that another blogger decides is important or interesting, that blogger links to it. And another blogger might see it and also think it is interesting or important. If it really is something interesting or important, pretty soon you have ten or twenty bloggers linking to it, and it gains attention.
But this process only works if you are looking at lots of blogs, and not just a few crowded ones. So it is your civic duty to read lots of blogs, even blogs you have never visited before. Go do your duty.
There is a "controversy" going on over Howard Dean's comment that Republicans aren't affected by the short voting hours because they "have never made an honest living in their lives." Well, I was there when he said it, and everyone knew what he meant. It was obvious he was talking about Repubican leaders and funders. Duh.
John Edwards is reported to have "criticized" the remarks and "distanced" himself from Dean. "The chairman of the DNC is not the spokesman for the party," Edwards reportedly said at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Tennessee. Well, Edwards clarifies this today at his blog:
"What a flap has arisen over a disagreement about the way something is said! I was in Nashville over the weekend, thanking the good people of Tennessee who supported the Democratic presidential ticket this year, when I was asked whether I thought that it was fair to say that people who were Republican hadn’t done a good day’s work. Of course, I didn’t think so, and I said that. I don’t think our DNC chair, Howard Dean, would put it that way again if asked either.Biden's remarks are another story.
[. . .] Howard and I have been saying the same thing about this for years. Hear that? The same thing. For years. Have I ever put it some way that Howard wouldn't agree with? Probably. And he put it in a way, once, just the other day, that I can’t agree with, since I come from a place where hard-working people, who are better served by the agenda and passion of the Democrats, somehow still vote Republican.
[. . .] The safety net is eroding. The ladder has been pulled up. This is not new. For more than two decades, the Republican Party has talked about an agenda that addresses concerns of working people while they have passed an agenda that serves the goals of the wealthiest among us. Howard and I know that these are the wrong choices for America. We won’t always use the same words. But we will always fight the same fight: for the dignity, the respect, and the rights of those who built this country, the working people in America."
A few other blogs and articles on this:
eRiposte at Left Coaster, "But Dean's remarks sounded so strong that that was perhaps not the best approach."
Salon, Much Ado About Dean.
Stirling Newberry at BOPNews, "The Left Coaster has his take and other people have theirs. Let me give you FDRs take. Don't criticize the Republican Party, or Republicans. Criticize the "Republican Leadership". It isn't hard, it is an old rule, and it worked for FDR."
Several Kos diaries that have scrolled away...
June 5, 2005
Part 1 of the N.Y. Review of Books article covers the basics of the Downing Street Memo. Part 2 provides some fascinating background and analysis.
Saddam Hussein threw a monkey wrench in Bush's plans to invade and occupy Iraq when he admitted the inspectors:
Vice President Cheney could have expected no worse. Having decided to travel down "the UN route," the Americans and British would now need a second resolution to gain the necessary approval to attack Iraq. Worse, Saddam frustrated British and American hopes, as articulated by Blair in the July 23 meeting, that he would simply refuse to admit the inspectors and thereby offer the allies an immediate casus belli. Instead, hundreds of inspectors entered Iraq, began to search, and found...nothing. January, which Defence Secretary Hoon had suggested was the "most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin," came and went, and the inspectors went on searching.
The whole sorry build up to war was a marketing and propaganda campaign:
Indeed, the inspectors' failure to find any evidence of weapons came in the wake of a very large effort launched by the administration to put before the world evidence of Saddam's arsenal, an effort spearheaded by George W. Bush's speech in Cincinnati on October 7, and followed by a series of increasingly lurid disclosures to the press that reached a crescendo with Colin Powell's multimedia presentation to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003. Throughout the fall and winter, the administration had "rolled out the product," in Card's phrase, with great skill, making use of television, radio, and all the print press to get its message out about the imminent threat of Saddam's arsenal. ("Think of the press," advised Josef Goebbels, "as a great keyboard on which the government can play.")
Ray McGovern has bluntly stated that the intelligence was not misinterpreted, it was misrepresented.
In the United States, on the other hand, the Downing Street memorandum has attracted little attention. As I write, no American newspaper has published it and few writers have bothered to comment on it. The war continues, and Americans have grown weary of it; few seem much interested now in discussing how it began, an why their country came to fight a war in the cause of destroying weapons that turne out not to exist. For those who want answers, the Bush administration has followed simple and heretofore largely successful policy: blame the intelligence agencies. Since "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" as early as July 200 (as "C," the head of British intelligence, reported upon his return from Washington), it seems a matter of remarkable hubris, even for this administration, that its officials not explain their misjudgments in going to war by blaming them on "intelligence failures"—that is, on the intelligence that they themselves politicized.
Fortunately for Bush, Congress has not been any more inquisitive about the path to war than the media:
Still, for the most part Congress has cooperated. Though the Senate Intelligence Committee investigated the failures of the CIA and other agencies before the war, a promised second report tha was to take up the administration's political use of intelligence—which is, after all, the critical issue—was postponed until after the 2004 elections, then quietly abandoned
An old and familiar observation by a White House "senior advisor" resurfaces:
In the end, the Downing Street memo, and Americans' lack of interest in what it shows, has to do with a certain attitude about facts, or rather about where the line should be drawn between facts and political opinion. It calls to mind an interesting observation that an unnamed "senior advisor" to President Bush made to a New York Times Magazine reporter last fall:The aide said that guys like me [i.e., reporters and commentators] were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
I just skimmed the surface. There are more gems and more analysis in the originial story.
Or alternatively: if your car died, would you still be able to get to work (somehow - by foot, bicycle, bus, etc.)?
Dave sent me a link to a Stirling Newberry essay on BOP News. Very interesting structural analysis of the nature of the conflict we're immersed in.
His comments on the need to placate and ensure the financial security of a important "conservative" segment of society (homeowners) in order to recruit them to the progressive side in the fight against the forces of monopoly/incumbent rent and to overturn the status quo prompted this train of thought:
We all know that the whole "red state"/"blue state" dichotomy is a gross, gross, gross oversimplification which obscures how the country is actually split along the lines of ideology and geopraphy... when you break down the electoral result in a more finely granulated fashion (feel free to suggest a better source of graphs - I just picked the first one I could find), you see that the split is really more of an urban vs. suburban/rural one... the less urbanized a county is, the more "red" it is, and vice versa. Gore and Kerry won many urban areas by overwhelming majorities (and Bush many rural areas by similar margins).
Stirling's analysis has many elements, but the one I want to zero in on is his point that the biggest asset that most Americans have is the equity in their house, and that the value of that equity is very much dependent on the fact that cheap oil makes long distance single occupancy vehicle commutes and the infrastructure that supports them economically viable. His theory is that somehow, despite the progressive community's distaste for urban sprawl, we need to develop some alternative mechanism that maintains it's economic viability, in order to win these forces over to our side.
O.K. There's the set up... now here's the punch line, the thought that was inspired by the Newberry article:
Perhaps the real conflict here isn't between "red state" and "blue state" voters, or even "urban" vs. "suburban/rural" voters (these being co-related factors), but between those with a stake in the status quo, whose livelihood and equity is dependent on cheap oil vs. those who don't. "Sprawlites" ("oilers?") vs. "sustainables" (need a catchier name for our side).
Thus the question in the subject line: where do you live, relative to your place of work?
I'll start off by saying that the office that my wife and I maintain for our small business is within walking distance of our home, and even closer (midway between) to the two schools (elementary and middle) that our daughters attend, and is also located directly across from a super-market and drug store (most of our shopping is done on foot).
This is not to say that we don't have two cars (we do), or that having only one car functioning (as is the case at the moment) is not inconvenient, or that having no car is a realistic option (boy would I love to cut that expense out of our budget)... while there are reasons other than economic for our dependency on ownership of an automobile, it would unquestionably be difficult to operate our business and earn a living without a car. The public transit system in this county is very limited (due to the general lack of population density) and difficult to use for general transportation purposes. Nevertheless, if somehow we had to abandon the use of automobiles, I believe it could be managed.
It should also be said that, at the moment, we are renters, so we have no equity stake in our home, and aren't tied down by a mortgage.
Perhaps not coincidentally, my wife and I fit the theory outlined above (we both could be termed radical progressives). I'm curious as to how many readers of this blog do so as well (or don't).
If you haven't seen the work of SF Chronicle on-line cartoonist Mark Fiore yet, you've been missing some great stuff. He's brilliant, and viciously sardonic - he eats hypocrisy and right wing nutball ideology for lunch.
Check out his latest, "Democracy Lite". No registration required.
June 4, 2005
"The ousted president has suffered a collapse in his morale because he understands the extent of the charges against him and because he's certain that he will stand trial before an impartial court," Juhi was quoted as saying.OK, this "judge" says the reason Saddam Hussein is depressed is because Saddam knows the "judge" is "impartial." In other words, the judge says Hussein knows he will be found guilty. The JUDGE says that! Before the trial. Before the evidence.
Defendent is dpressed "because he's certain that he will stand trial before an impartial court"! This "judge" has been taking language lessons from the Republican Party.
(Through Daily Kos)
The www.AfterDowningStreet.org website has become extremely popular, and now receives a little over 1 million hits per day. Alfredo Lopez, whose www.people-link.org hosts the AfterDowningStreet.org site said, "I'm elated. This is what we're on Earth to do, but we've never had a site get a million hits in a day before."
I wrote a diary at MyDD with links to the After Downing Street blogswarm sites that I think have been the most informative After Downing Street - Day 34 of M$M Censorship
The Big Brass Alliance was formed in May 2005 as a collective of progressive bloggers who support After Downing Street, a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups formed to urge that the U.S. Congress launch a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. The campaign focuses on evidence that recently emerged in a British memo containing minutes of a secret July 2002 meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top national security officials.
A tip of the hat to annatopia for finding the ultimate anti-war bumper sticker.
Magnetic bumper stickers, bike sticker and fridge magnets also available.
Did everybody see the most recent proof from The Nation that Bush was waging war in Iraq several months before Congress granted its approval? The Other Bomb Drops.
If that is a subscription only article, you can also find the story at Yahoo News.
Steve Gilliard savages Matthew Yglesias for his fence sitting arm chair pontificating on the "Democrats' Dilemma", The Problem With The Chairbound Set and Mahblog piles on, What's The Matter With The Democrats.
I've run across Iraq exit strategies over at Mercury Rising and at The Left Coaster.
I'm sure it's not perfect, but Mercury Rising has a sensible Iraq exit strategy peculiarly titled The Kerry Plan for Iraq:
There is a better way, but it would require a better US government. The key steps are these.
Trust is broken. It can only be re-established by making it clear that the US presence in Iraq is temporary. Base construction and the looting of the Iraqi oil industry should cease. Oil revenues should be nationalized until a genuine Iraqi government is in place.
The "Salvador option", of supporting death squads and other repressive secret police must cease immediately. People like John Negroponte need to be removed from authority (and ideally sent to replace a declining population in Guantanamo).
US troops should be replaced by Arab/Muslim troops for all police functions. My guess is that there are enough former Egyptian, Jordanian, and Indonesian policemen-- or troops who could be trained for police duties-- to fill the gap within a few months. Then there could be genuine training of an Iraqi police force.
Basic services need to be restored immediately. That means turning over control of the electric grid and water pumping to Iraqi engineers and those engineers need to be provided strong security. Sanitation needs to be restored promptly. US and European medical personnel should temporarily replace Iraqi medical personnel, who the resistance is driving out of the country.
Finally, the puppet government has no credibility. There should be real elections. These should begin at the local level, with all local autonomy being immediately ceded. The US should temporarily handle national control. A preliminary constitution should treat Iraq as a confederacy, in which each region retains veto power over any national constitution.
The US should commit to pay $60B of reparations to rebuild infrastructure and train a new generation of professionals.
US forces are needed to guard Iraq's borders against external rivals such as Iran, to prevent importation of weapons to continue the conflict, and to allow Iraq to gain control over its own commerce, notably oil. There is absolutely no reason for US forces to be searching houses or performing basic police functions.
I think this is what the Kerry plan was. I don't know, of course. But he is intelligent enough to have seen these issues.
If that's Sen. Kerry's exit strategy I wish he'd step forward and say so. What Matt Yglesias calls the Democrats' dilemma is based on a crass political calculus. The leading contenders for the Democratic nomination are all on record supporting the Iraq War and their criticism of Bush's policy has been muted and infrequent.
Biden, Kerry, Hillary and Bayh are all followers of Peter Beinart's "robust liberal militarism" school of thought. They all show every intention of running as military hawks. Bill Clinton and Howard Dean have both recently spouted the official Democratic party line: "Now that we're there, we're there and we can't get out.... I hope the President is incredibly successful with his policy now." The only Democrat that I'm aware of who is taking them to task is Dennis Kucinich, An Open Letter to Howard Dean.
The leading Democratic foreign policy spokespeople can't take a clear stand on Iraq because their conventional political wisdom clashes with the anti-war sentiment in the Democratic party grass/netroots. They are all following the safe and craven advice that what you don't say can't hurt you.
The fundamental problem with their political strategy is that it also prevents them from making a harsh criticism of Bush's abject failure in Iraq. How can you criticize a policy that you want to adopt "with improvements"?
It looks to me like the party leadership has put out the word that debating Iraq is off the table. The leadership is more interested in promoting the veneer of party unity than confronting a politically difficult and emotional problem. The Democratic party leadership has decided that they are not going to make Iraq an issue in the 2006 election.
The political calculus and the non-position position of the Democratic party are both wrong. We need an anti-war Democrat to start beating the drum for an immediate pull-out from Iraq. The anti-war parade has already left the barn and the Democrats are still working on decorating their float. That brings me to CA Pol Junkie at The Left Coaster, The Democrats' Solution to Iraq:
Yglesias' approach doesn't work on either level: it passes off the policy buck to the GOP, who have thus far failed miserably, but it gives voters no reason to put us in power, since we are proposing no leadership. Gilliard's policy may turn out to be as good as any other, but the politics are horrible: we would be running in 2006 saying America is a loser.
So what's the answer? Elect us in 2006 and we'll be out of Iraq within two years. Given control of either the Senate or the House, we could force Bush's hand by denying him funds to continue the war.
Sitting on the fence is not going to be a viable strategy in 2006. How can someone with pretensions of leading America be silent on the most critical issue facing America? Iraq is a military as welll as a moral disaster. It's time for the Democratic leadership to start saying so loudly and forcefully. Now back to CA Pol Junkie:
It is that simple. This approach offers several advantages:
- it tells the Iraqis America will not want a permanent presence there, something Bush won't say (for obvious reasons)
- it gives Iraq a firm timeline within which they must take responsibility for security in their own country
- gradually removing our troops will remove a source of conflict in Iraq
- it gives us a strategic goal in the war
- it lets us offer a tough love victory scenario to the voters
- it gives voters a chance to get rid of the headache they get every time they watch the nightly news
The one thing the Democratic party absolutely cannot do is remain silent. If they wait two years to develope an Iraq exit strategy, it will be two years too late. Let the conversation continue.
You can see a video or read a transcript of Bill Moyers' speech, the one I wrote about yesterday, by going to this page and clicking the appropriate links: Take Back America 2005: The Conference for America's Future.
While you are there, Arianna Huffington's speech was very, very good. John Edwards' was great, and if you can find a video of Thomas Franks' talk it was also great. The "more" link gets you to Howard Dean's speech and others.
This contribution from Digby demonstrates why calling the Bush Administration Know Nothings gives them too much credit. What's Good For The Goose Is Only Good For The Goose.
It is interesting that the ACLU got a ruling requiring that all the Abu Ghraib pictures be released to the public. What is really interesting is that the government argued that releasing them would be contrary to the Geneva Conventions. (Via Talk Left):
"It is indeed ironic that the government invoked the Geneva Conventions as a basis for withholding these photographs," said Amrit Singh, a staff attorney at the ACLU. "Had the government genuinely adhered to its obligations under these Conventions, it could have prevented the widespread abuse of detainees held in its custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay."
Just when you thought they couldn't possibly get any more bizarre. Click through for Digby's analysis and comments.
Please don't be alarmed at the number of posts I put up at Seeing the Forest this weekend. I'll be one of or perhaps your only guest blogger over the weekend.
Dave has asked me to pick up the slack for him over the weekend while he is at the Take Back America conference. I've blogged events like the California State Convention and the Western DNC Chair Conference for MyDD, so I know how demanding it can be. I'll do my best to provide Seeing the Forest regulars with items of interest when you check in for Dave's updates from the main event.
I think it's time to start calling the Bush administration the Know Nothings. From King of Zembla Why Rumsfeld Can't Read: If he did, he might be expected to answer a question every once in a blue moon. The wit and wisdom of our modern-day Sergeant Schultz, culled from "Rummy Rules," a highly amusing TomDispatch by Nick Turse
* I have not read the report, and I think I'll leave it there. And I have been quite busy this morning, and I wasn't able to see any of the testimony.
* My problem is that number one, it's not something I've read, it's not something I've been briefed on… I'm afraid I've responded as fully as I'm currently capable of doing.
* Well, I haven't seen the poll. I've seen polls that say very much the opposite of that.
* I have no idea. I've never heard anything like that and it wouldn't be the Department of Defense that would be involved anyway.
* I know nothing about the front-page Washington Post article.
* [Y]es, of what you're saying, I'm not in a position to comment on because I just have no knowledge of it.
* I have no idea. I don't know about the protest. I have seen -- there are various --
* Well, I don't -- I don't think I have, but I don't know. I'd have to check. And I don't know that I'd answer it if I did find out that we had. But I don't believe we have.
* [H]ad there been anything like that, I would have heard something of it, and I've never heard of anything like that.
* I don't think I have, but I don't know. I'd have to check.
* I didn't read the article.
* I have not followed what's been -- I've not read these articles.
* You don't believe everything you read in the newspaper, do you?
Does anybody know if Donald Rumsfield has ever given a straight answer to a staight question?
I'd also like to plug a recent post by King of Zembla. If you haven't read Joe Bageant's "How to Stop Losing," treat yourself to One Last Kick at Liberal Dogs --Just to Hear Them Bark
June 3, 2005
Turning to global matters, Bush repeatedly defended his approach to sticky problems:
_Bush denied any increase of strength in the Iraqi insurgency, whose deadly attacks have been on the rise since a new government was announced April 28. He said the Iraqi government would be "plenty capable of dealing with them" with the help of American training. "I'm pleased with the progress," Bush said.
Compare this with the content of recent news articles...
Iraq's security services have suffered their deadliest month since the fall of Saddam Hussein, illustrating the rise in violence in the country.
Officials reported that at least 220 police officers and soldiers were killed in May, mainly by suicide bombings. The figure does not include potential recruits killed while queuing up to join the forces, a favoured target.
"This figure does not even include those killed in the last two or three days," a senior police officer said.
March was the previous deadliest month, with 200 security personnel killed.
Suicide bombings have surged to become the Iraqi insurgency's weapon of choice, with a staggering 90 attacks accounting for most of last month's 750 deaths at the militants' hands.
Suicide attacks outpaced car bombings almost 2-to-1 in May, according to figures compiled by the U.S. military, The Times and other media outlets. In April, there were 69 suicide attacks, more than in the entire year preceding the June 28, 2004, hand-over of sovereignty.
U.S. officials and Iraqi analysts say the insurgents' resources are increasing on several fronts: money to buy vehicles and explosives, expertise in wiring car and human bombs and intelligence leaks that help them target U.S. and Iraqi forces.
"At this time, there is nothing to indicate that the availability of volunteers is on the decline," [said Navy Cmdr. Fred Gaghan, in charge of the Combined Explosive Exploitation Cell in Iraq that studies bomb scenes for clues to insurgent tactics], noting the media coverage and videos of suicide bombings posted on the Internet that are said to fuel extremist recruitment.
Why aren't members of the media asking the President questions like this:
Mr. President! Mr. President... March, April, and May of this year have seen record levels of violence in Iraq, including a record number of car bombings, a record number of suicide bombings, and a record number of casualities among Iraqi police and military forces.
In May, coalition forces suffered another 88 fatalities at a rate exceeding that of all but two months since April of 2003. 250 more American soldiers were wounded badly enough to not be able to return to duty within 72 hours.
Despite these facts, you claim that the insurgency is not increasing in strength, and that you're pleased with the progress being made.
Mr. President, how many more American soldiers, Iraqi soldiers and police, Iraqi civilians, how many more of them have to die before you become unhappy with the level of progress in Iraq? How many more records need to be set for fatalities, car and suicide bombings before you agree that the insurgency is gaining in strength? Are there any circumstances under which you would express concern with the state of affairs in Iraq and the rate of progress against the insurgency being made there?
It seems likely that Greg Palast has the answer:
...a disease epidemic in US journalism. The illness is called, "access." In return for a supposedly "inside" connection to the powers that be, the journalists in fact become conduits for disinformation sewerage.
And woe to any journalist who annoys the politicians and loses "access." Career-wise, they're DOA.
I have to agree with how he ends his article: "...that sucks."
The trouble with crap like this is that the "moneyed interests" make sure that you hear it everywhere, without hearing the other side.
French voters are trying to preserve a 35-hour work week in a world where Indian engineers are ready to work a 35-hour day. Good luck.OK, here is a strategy for coping: America has a very large market and the world wants to sell things to us. I say that's a good thing. And it gives us power. Suppose we (government, we, you and me) said to importers that the people who MAKE what they import HAVE TO BE PAID ENOUGH TO BUY THE THINGS WE MAKE HERE!!!!! And if they don't agree, we slap a big fat tax on those imports so they cost the same as goods made by workers here, which removes the incentive to export jobs.
Voters in "old Europe" - France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy - seem to be saying to their leaders: stop the world, we want to get off; while voters in India have been telling their leaders: stop the world and build us a stepstool, we want to get on. I feel sorry for Western European blue collar workers. A world of benefits they have known for 50 years is coming apart, and their governments don't seem to have a strategy for coping.
Choice to corporations: either you make it here and pay American workers, or you pay enough THERE to DEVELOP MARKETS for the things our workers make.
It's the same argument as the minimum wage. Henry Ford famously said he wanted to pay his workers enough to be able to buy cars from his company. That develops a market. Requiring importers to pay the workers there enough to buy American-made goods is just plain common sense. Especially compared to the alternative -- laying people off here so they can't buy things made here, and not paying people there enough to buy them either.
I just saw Bill Moyers' speech to the Take Back America conference. I'm sure it will be repeated on C-Span later. Please watch this speech. Stay up as late as you have to tonite just in case C-Span has it on again. It will probably be posted on the conference website soon. Please watch this speech. It was one of the great speeches. I was moved to tears. People were shouting. The audience stood and applauded for a very, very long time at the end.
During the Democratic Convention last summer I wrote about a great speech by Michael Moore, and later posted a transcript, then linked to an online site where you could watch it. Today's speech by Bill Moyers' is the next speech I will recommend as highly.
Rather than write about it - one favorite line was about Tom Delay as the right-wing reincarnation of St. Francis of Assisi - I'm sure you'll be reading about it all over the web today and for a while (maybe a long while) - I'll just say please watch this speech.
June 1, 2005
Actually, one thing I do want to say before I try to sleep. I'm spending some of the time here hanging around with other bloggers at this conference, and one subject keeps coming up: money. Moolah. I was talking with Oliver Willis this morning (a really great guy -- read his blog) and one of the things that we discussed was the big problem with Progressives being the lack of funds. At about the same time Atrios linked to John Arivosis' post on the subject of money. Then I ran into both of them. And just now I came across this postat The Blogging of the President that reminded me of all this so here I am.
This is a big, big problem. The Right has money that is used effectively, and Progressives do not. You can generally assume that everyone on the Right is funded. This gives them time and space to think and formulate. The Right has money to train thousands of new operatives every year. And it is not just because of corporations and wealthy funders. Question: how much money have you donated to Progressive organizations, not candidates this year? (Or to bloggers?) Many on the Right give a lot of money, and the religious tithe 10% of their gross income. (I mention this because I think plenty of that is finding its way into right-wing politics.) Can you say that the person-on-the-street Progressive can match their dedication? How many Progressives are putting their money where their hearts are? (The "conservative movement" is funded to the tune of about $400 million per year, not counting commercial outfits like Fox, or election-related spending.)
This is a big subject among bloggers, worth discussing out there in the real world. But like I said before, it's late and I have to be up early.
I'm at the big conference, and will write about it when I can. But it has been a long day with an early breakfast (5am California time) tomorrow so I'm going to bed.
Is it just me? Is it an east-coast thing? I received a TON more spam than usual today.
(Yes, I know it doesn't make any difference which coast I'm on, I was being funny.)
Eric Janszen, has a great (and scary) post on the housing bubble.
Dancing, Booze, and Overpriced Houses
The housing bubble is reaching absurd, bacchanalian heights, which can only mean one thing: it's getting ready to collapse.
There are times when I write this column that I feel like a Bible-thumping Evangelist of Doom, tromping back and forth across the blogosphere with an "End Is Near" placard strapped to my virtual ass. Never thought I'd see the day that I'd preach the evils of alcohol, dancing, and music to round out the role, but in the current instance, parties for condo sales are getting my attention. They signal that something is ready to happen, and it's not the Second Coming. Seven years of bubble-watching and research suggest that boozy condo celebrations mark the beginning of the end of the housing bubble.
Go look at the graphs he posts... he says (and I can't help but agree with him) "If you're not feeling at least a little queasy after looking at these pictures, then maybe you're numb from the booze and the dancing." The numbers are moving in a hugely anomalous way compared to historical trends -- scary stuff. Makes me glad I'm a renter (although that won't help me when the economy is taken out along with the housing market).
Matt Miller, Beyond Viagra Politics, blasts "social" Democrats.
Truth-telling Democrats would come clean on their own charades. Imagine a Democrat declaring that the party must stop pretending that mandates on business (for health coverage, say) are "free" ways to get social results Democrats like - when such mandates impose costs ultimately borne by workers or consumers.Well, no, Matt. If you mandate universal health care coverage, the cost of health care GOES WAY DOWN. There are lots of reasons for this including preventative care, people don't have to go to the E.R.... And no, Matt, costs (and taxes) on businesses are not necessarily borne by workers and consumers. That's a right-wing talking point. It might force marginal businesses to raise prices but businesses want to stay competitive so they will not raise their prices past their competitors. Maybe they'll pay the CEO $100 million less that year to cover the costs.
And imagine if Democrats said it was time to stop scaring seniors about the G.O.P.'s nefarious plans for Medicare. Truly "new" Democrats would instead teach party activists something different: that the enemy of liberal causes a decade from now will not be the evil heirs of Newt Gingrich, but Medicare itself.
And no, Matt, health care for our elderly isn't the budget enemy, military spending is. Democrats are not "scaring seniors" they are warning them that the Right wants to do away with the program.
Matt, you work for a supposedly "Progressive' think tank and ought to know better than to repeat right-wing talking points. There are plenty of well-paid right-wingers for that.
There is a new (really new -- pre-launch) version of Media Transparency: The money behind conservative media. This is a pre-launch version. Please take a look, and let them know how you like it. Also, leave a comment here.