August 31, 2005
[Article sourced from Editor and Publisher, via Dave Farber's Interesting People list. I had this same thought myself - given that New Orleans actually survived the hurricane, and that the real disaster was the levee breakage afterwards... shouldn't the Bush Administration be held responsible for the (possibly unnecessary) total destruction of a major U.S. city, rendering 500,000 to 1,000,000 people homeless... should we now include a portion of the deaths in New Orleans in the fatality totals for the Iraq war? -Thomas]
Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.
The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back this spring with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history.
Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? 'Times-Picayune' Had
Repeatedly Raised Federal Spending Issues
By Will Bunch
Published: August 30, 2005 9:00 PM ET
PHILADELPHIA Even though Hurricane Katrina has moved well north of
the city, the waters may still keep rising in New Orleans late on
Tuesday. That's because Lake Pontchartrain continues to pour through
a two-block-long break in the main levee, near the city's 17th Street
Canal. With much of the Crescent City some 10 feet below sea level,
the rising tide may not stop until it's level with the massive lake.
New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a
direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been
working with state and local officials in the region since the late
1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from
a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress
authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.
Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with
carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and
building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at
least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane
activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees
surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.
Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a
trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending
pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming
at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the
strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and
2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of
hurricane- and flood-control dollars.
Newhouse News Service, in an article posted late Tuesday night at The
Times-Picayune web site, reported: "No one can say they didn't see it
coming....Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious
questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."
In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President
Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said
was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004,
article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.
On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for
Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: It appears
that the money has been moved in the presidents budget to handle
homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose thats the price
we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees cant be finished,
and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a
security issue for us.
Also that June, with the 2004 hurricane season starting, the Corps'
project manager Al Naomi went before a local agency, the East
Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for
urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for. From the June
18, 2004 Times-Picayune:
"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything
is sinking, and if we dont get the money fast enough to raise them,
then we cant stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem
that we have isnt that the levee is low, but that the federal funds
have dried up so that we cant raise them."
The panel authorized that money, and on July 1, 2004, it had to pony
up another $250,000 when it learned that stretches of the levee in
Metairie had sunk by four feet. The agency had to pay for the work
with higher property taxes. The levee board noted in October 2004
that the feds were also now not paying for a hoped-for $15 million
project to better shore up the banks of Lake Pontchartrain.
The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that,
the federal government came back this spring with the steepest
reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in
history. Because of the proposed cuts, the Corps office there imposed
a hiring freeze. Officials said that money targeted for the SELA
project -- $10.4 million, down from $36.5 million -- was not enough
to start any new jobs.
One project that a contractor had been racing to finish this summer:
a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal, site of the
main breach on Monday.
That was the sign on the door of the local independent gas station my wife and I regularly patronize (free soda or coffee with any fill up of $7.00 or more)... Beach City Gas (not to mention that the local owner pays his staff well for the job, and as a result the folks there are happy and friendly and personable).
Why did he close? Because gas prices just spiked by 37 cents a gallon, and the owner can't manage the risk associated with the volatility - he's shut the business down until prices stabilize or come back down.
Guess we can kiss $2.xx gas good bye for now (and maybe forever) - at least here in California (and a quick scan of Google shows that we're not alone, either).
Here's what theDepartment of Energy's measurements show: regular gas at $2.60/gallon (and rising), nationwide.
Here's where the betting is headed (Foresight Exchange)... note the recent price spike.
"Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem."
That is the key sentence in Ronald Reagan's first inaugural address, which was titled Putting America Back To Work. We can only hope that Hurricane Katrina demonstates once and for all that callous conservatism is not the solution. Callous conservatism is the problem.
A long line of callous conservatives have been accusing liberals of being soft hearted do gooders because they have genuine concern for the common welfare of the American people. On a long string of issues from Social Security to wetlands to mundane tasks like building levees, conservatives have been riding on Reagan's coat-tails to insist that government is not the solution to our problems.
It is time to drive a stake through the heart of that canard. If it takes a hurricane to wake up the American people, I will not be apologetic for pointing out the obvious. Red state voters have no one but themselves to blame for the excess hardship that will be caused by years of callous neglect from the Bush administration.
For all of the naysayers who wish to accuse me of playing politics with a natural disaster, I will simply point to how President Bush shamelessly politicized 9/11. If telling the truth is playing politics, then we need more of it, not less.
This is exactly the time to remind the American people about the preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Protecting the American people from natural disasters, the National Guard, ensuring adequate supplies of gasoline, energy refining capacity and natural gas, protecting our environment and our wetlands, Social Security and Medicare, bankruptcy, border patrol and public education are all necessary and vital programs and roles for the federal government that conservatives and President Bush have spent decades trying to destroy.
Enough is enough. It's time to take back America. It's time to take back the Constitution. It's time to take back Congress and the White House from America's conservative domestic enemies. I'll say it again and I'll say it now. The greatest threat to America and freedom is not Bin Laden. The greatest threat to America, freedom, our civil liberties and the general welfare of America is President Bush.
The President of the United States is America's greatest enemy.
August 30, 2005
From a series of diaries at MyDD:
Bush's Ignorance, by Scott Shields
Pass on your favorite links.
Photos Of President Bush's Compassion courtesy of Huges For America
Elevated from the comments: Hat tip to Lis Riba The economics of disaster from boingboing
Always a good read, Bilmon adds insightful perspective and context.
I'm taking a few days on a short trip with my wife. So I havent been and won't be posting much. Back soon.
Meanwhile, Seeing the Forest has other bloggers.
Go see the BuzzFlash editorial Either the Bush Kids Put Their Lives on the Line for George's "Noble War" or the Troops Come Home. Also sign their petition.
Like George did, the new generation of Bushes let other Americans do the dying for them.Much more, go read.
Bush has derided the mothers and fathers of our nation's war dead for not wanting any more young American men and women to die in Iraq. "We owe them [the already killed and wounded soldiers] something," he told veterans in Salt Lake City (even though his administration tried to shortchange the veterans agency by $1.5 billion, according to Maureen Dowd). "We will finish the task that they gave their lives for."
Yet, not one -- not one -- of any of Bush's children or his nieces and nephews have volunteered for service in any branch of the military or volunteered to serve in any capacity in Iraq. Not one of them has felt the cause was noble enough to put his or her life on the line.
August 29, 2005
There seems to be a consensus, especially among liberal hawks, that we shouldn’t play the blame game about Iraq, but instead should dedicate ourselves to efforts to solve the problem facing us.
My opinion is the opposite. The most important thing is to find and punish the guilty parties (including media people, conservative ideologues, and liberal hawks) by ending their political careers. We must have recriminations.
Outside politics, the “blame game” is called accountability. Achieving accountability will be extremely difficult in the present case, since the culprits include not only most Republicans, but also many Democratic leaders and almost all of the media. But unless a large number of careers end, there’s no hope for this country.
The demand for a solution to the Iraq problem is deluded. Nobody knows what to do next –- engineering the fait accompli has been Bush's game all along (“facts on the ground”), and he’s made sure that Humpty Dumpty will never be put together again. Despite the failure of Bush’s non-plan in Iraq, however, the Democrats actually are in a very tight spot. The American people (bless their optimistic little hearts) hate naysayers and truth-tellers, and the Bush team may very well parlay their failure in Iraq into permanent domination of American politics.
Within the media, special attention should be given to Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., and Donald Graham -- the unjustly-respected individuals who ruined the Times and the Post. Because of this planned media failure, ambient political opinion (the opinion of the semi-informed voter) is now reflexively anti-liberal, and this has led us one more time to a failure of democracy. Like Nixon and Reagan, Dubya was elected to a second term; only the efforts of prosecutors kept the first two somewhat under control, and right now we’re waiting for Fitzpatrick to save us from our stupidity again.
The politicians and opinion leaders who got us into this mess, including the liberal hawks, must be blamed, and their careers must be ended. The only other alternative is for them to destroy us, which is what they plan to do. The “stabbed in the back” smear is already on the table, and the movement conservatives haven’t lost any of their enthusiasm for the culture war. Terrorism has never been their primary enemy –- their primary enemy has always been liberals (us). They’ve been calling us traitors for over a decade, and for them 9/11 is just another stick to use to beat us with.
(Parenthetically, people should lay off the “chickenhawk” meme. It’s indeed a fact that most strategic planners and foreign policy spokesmen, for both parties, are non-veteran wonks, but the military is not on our side. Angry veterans coming back from Iraq right now might mostly be liberals or Democrats, but if the military as a whole turns against Bush -- and that might happen –- most of them will become rightwing ultranationalists and superhawks. Check out the post-WWI German Freikorps if you wonder what I’m talking about).
Since 1941 the United States has been in a permanent state of mobilization, and the interventionist war party has controlled both parties during that whole period. Within the Democratic Party, arguments about foreign policy are usually ended with the simple invocation of the words “McGovern” and “isolationist”. The Democratic Party foreign policy can be summed up with the words “You can’t be a dove”. This makes the intelligent proposal of alternatives impossible and makes it easy for the Republicans to win every time by outhawking us. A genuine demagogic militarist will defeat an opportunistic one every time.
The Bush plan is especially hard to argue against because no one really knows what it is. A big chunk of factually-misinformed voters supports Bush because they trust him personally as a good Christian gentleman, and another better-informed “insider” chunk supports Bush because they think that they know what his “real” plan is (as opposed to any of his various publicly expressed plans). The cult-of-personality and liberal-hatred aspects of Bush’s support far outstrip informed support for any intelligible program.
Do I really think that it will be possible for us to politically destroy Bush, Cheney, Rove, Norquist, DeLay, and the Revs. Moon and Robertson?
Not really, but I think that that’s what we need to do. If we don’t get them, they’ll get us. No matter what happens in Iraq, we can expect a savage counterattack. It’s them or us.
(If you're wondering why I quit blogging politics, this post helps explain things. I sound like a Chomskyite now, so of course no good Democrat is going to listen.)
August 26, 2005
The helicopter dipped lower and lower and started shining its lights on the crowd [...] I saw a guy dressed in camoflauge walking by, toting an assault rifle. [...] A few "troops" rushed the stage and cut the sound off and started yelling that everyone "get the fuck out of here or go to jail". [...] They had police dogs raiding the crowd of people and I saw a dog signal out a guy who obviously had some drugs on him. The soldiers attacked the guy (4 of them on 1), and kicked him a few times in the ribs and had their knees in his back and sides. As they were cuffing him, there was about 1000 kids trying to leave in the backdrop, peacefully. Next thing I know, A can of fucking TEAR GAS is launched into the crowd. People are running and screaming at this point. Girls are crying, guys are cussing... bad scene.Now, this is all I saw with my own eyes [...]
One of the promoters friends (a very small female) was attacked by one of the police dogs. As she struggled to get away from it, the police tackled her. 3 grown men proceeded to KICK HER IN THE STOMACH.- The police confiscated 3 video tapes in total. People were trying to document what was happening out there. The police saw one guy filming and ran after him, tackled him and his camera fell, and luckily.. his friend grabbed it and ran and got away. priceless footage.
This in person account of a SWAT team raid on a legally permitted rave in Utah just came across my inbox, via Dave Farber's Interesting People list. What happened is just flat out friggin' insane. Unfortunately, I can't honestly say "I can't believe this is happening", but I'm still outraged. If you don't like what you read, hear and see below, I've included information about how you can take action at the end of this posting.
Take a look at this two minute video (quicktime and wmv). I just downloaded it... you can hear the helicopter, hear the dogs barking, see the cops in full camo storming the stage, shouting threats, waving assault rifles around (not just holding them)... at least two people getting the crap beat out of them, video is abruptly cut off, not clear why (unless this is the individual referred to in the first quote).
According to the promoter's statement the event had full permits, and was widely advertised in advance, and every effort had been made to comply with the law. The email quote above also says they did not have a warrant (no independent verification of this).
"Dozens of Men in Full Camo, Kevlar Vests, Gas Masks MP5 Navy's AUG's and many other fire-arms. Attack Dogs, were barking somewhere ahead of me. Suddenly I saw the sight that disgusted me. A person whom I had met before was on the ground face first, 4 Reservists had their guns pointed to his head, and were handcuffing him. Their attack dog was mauling his: Shoulder, Neck and Torso areas. I was quickly shuffled along but was very disgusted. I had attempted to record the man on the ground with my Camera-Phone, but a soldier approached me and took my phone and said "move Along" I still have not recovered it." (source: discussion thread below)
More personal accounts of the mayhem, like the one above. One of the first ones discusses how the police went after anyone and everyone with a video camera (not to mention beating the crap out of people on the slightest of pretexts).
Here's a feature article on the raid from stopthedrugwar.org: PLUR Meets SWAT as Utah Cops Attack Electronic Dance Party.
Salt Lake City resident member Jonathan Meander, the Utah director of DanceSafe, a harm reduction group that works with the dance culture, was one of the hundreds who had arrived at the party before the big bust. "About 11:30, a helicopter circled the party and people started to scatter," he told DRCNet. "The cops started coming in with cammo gear and assault rifles and dogs and tear gas, and they were yelling and pushing and hassling people. If you tried to get your stuff, you got hit. I saw people get beaten to the ground. They were also trying to prevent people from filming them. The way we got the footage that has made its way to the Internet is that one guy was filming and a cop knocked the camera out of his hand, and one of his friends grabbed the camera and ran away," Meander said.
"I am disgusted. I saw a lot of stuff that just wasn't right," said Meander. "We wanted to go dancing in the desert, and they come with their assault rifles and beat us up."
From the promoter's statement:
To the people who were not in attendance
1. Be it local or international, it does not matter; WE NEED YOUR HELP! Not only to spread the truthful word about what happened, but to do whatever possible thing you can assist us with. People in the media, public relations, internet related business, people who can provide additional legal help, financial assistance, or people willing to help with leg work are of great necessity to us, please contact Loki801@comcast.net –or- Dimitri801@comcast.net All other music and event lovers keep talking! You have our never ending gratitude, you guys are so amazing!
Ultimately to prevent something like this ever happening again, it is up to ALL OF US. We must have teamwork and solidarity – having unity goes without saying. This fight is neither going to be short nor easy; we want to ensure that it is not you who needs our help someday. In order to have good teamwork, we need to be able to communicate so please visit the website, do what you can do, and please feel free to contact the people below as needed.
Brandon Fullmer Loki801@comcast.net
Phone; (801) 363-7955 Fax (801) 363-7943
For all matters related to needed legal statements contact-
Dimitri Mumulidisz Dimitri801@comcast.net
Phone: (801) 577-8281
For all internet related issues -
For all press related issues please contact-
Justin Kahn email@example.com
Phone: (801) 755-9300
It's just the headline. Fits so well with the Bush era...
August 25, 2005
In The Left Coaster: Exit Portal? Marie offers an interesting plan for Iraq. Buy peace. Carrots and sticks.
August 24, 2005
I agree. There are more differences than similarities. It's always a mistake to "fight the last war" and that includes looking for ways to end this one -- and things that might happen following the "end" of this one. Don't look at Iraq through a Vietnam filter.
In their ongoing effort to provide cover for Bush, NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, the Right is now excusing that Iraq is forming an Islamic State. See The Fourth Rail: Islam, Democracy and Iraq's Constitution:
One of the most controversial items from a western standpoint is the role Islam will play in the laws of Iraq. The common cry [paraphrased] is “did we sacrifice our soldiers to establish an Islamist state?” . . . The text of the constitution gives sound reason to believe Iraq is not being established as an Islamist state. . . . But to state an Islamist regime has been created based on the text of the constitution is unfounded.Follow the trackbacks and read the comments, too. Fascinating, that this whole "Islamic State" thing is a fabrication by the Liberal Media to make Bush look bad...
But Tapped has a good post on the realities of the situation:
When contemplating the extent to which Iraq's new constitution will implement Shiite theocracy in the country, it's worth keeping in mind that which words appear on a piece of paper isn't necessarily the most important thing.
[. . .] Indeed, the single most important political leader in the country is the country's chief Shiite cleric. There are various good things you can say about the Grand Ayatollah, but as you'll see here he clearly has retrograde views on a variety of key social issues. The political party of the prime minister (al-Dawa) is a socially conservative Islamist party. Its main coalition partner, SCIRI, is a more socially conservative, more Islamist party. The most powerful opposition movements in the country are a super-violent Islamism-inflected Sunni insurgency and the frankly anti-democratic, Khomeinist movement of Muqtada al-Sadr.
On top of that, aside from the insurgency and the U.S. military, real power outside of Kurdistan lies in the hands of violent Islamist militias with links to the less-pleasant elements of Iraq's most powerful political parties. The foreign nation with the most influence in Iraq is Iran, which, due to being located directly next to Iraq, isn't ever going to stop being involved in Iraqi affairs. Under the circumstances, the constitution can be as awesomely liberal as you like, and it won't make a whit of difference. [Visit original to follow its links]
It has been 775 days since Karl Rove violated his obligations under Standard Form 312 without the White House taking “corrective action.”
August 23, 2005
Chickenhawk excuses. (Be sure to read the comments.)
Any minute now:
U.S. housing sector shows signs of slowing ahead
The boom may be cooling
Is The Housing Market About to Bubble Over?
Wall St. Waits to See What Will Be Repaid
Homebuilders' Shares Hit by Home-Sales Drop
Housing bubble ready to burst
Economist Predicts Housing Bubble Bust
Housing bubble within popping distance
What if housing bubble bursts?
Preparing For A Housing Bubble Burst
"She doesn't represent the view of a lot of the families I have met with," Bush said.He won't meet with people who disagree with him because they don't represent the views of people he meets with.
That's like that old Star Trek episode where they blew up the computer by sending it into an infinite loop.
Over at Left I on the News. Go read. Discuss.
Everybody has to go read Wal*merica.
Haunt the bastard wherever he goes. Don't give him a minutes rest. Poison all his attempts to generate positive publicity with pull quotes from angry grieving mothers and fathers. Make the power elites in the country fear for it's stability with pictures of angry mobs pushing to break through police lines, waving pictures of dead sons and daughters.
"Hey, hey, LBJ... how many kids have you killed today?" was the right strategy in 1968. It is the right strategy today, in 2005.
STF readers will be very familiar with many of the concepts, principles and players mentioned in the article below.
The "intelligent design" controversy, especially as it manifests in the "teach the controversy" approach, is a classic example of long-term right-wing thinking that eventually winds up inserting a formerly "fringe" idea into the mainstream of discussion, and of turning an issue on it's head: now, the issue is promoting "academic freedom" so that people can make "legitimate criticisms of Darwin", not teaching "Creationism" and replacing science with religion.
... and the Discovery Institute (an offshoot of the Hudson Institute) is an example par excellence what the right wing funds, and how the resulting organizations operate.
Caught this article the other day, discussing a new study released by the Public Policy Institute of California, entitled: California's Newest Homeowners: Affording the Unaffordable.
News article pull quote: "Californians are increasingly affording the unaffordable by sinking more than half their incomes into mortgage payments, taking on enormous debt, forgoing downpayments and signing interest-only or adjustable-rate mortgages".
Executive summary pull quote: "The share of income spent on housing is higher for homeowners in California than in any other state."
Let's not forget that there's another war going on, and American soldiers are dying on a regular basis there too: "13 have been killed in August alone". Not to mention quite a few Afghan policemen and soldiers (and civilians, as in Iraq).
Other excerpts: "... Al Qaeda was paying renewed attention to the country this year."
As if we needed more evidence of how wrongheaded the "we're pinning them down in Iraq" argument is.
August 22, 2005
"Personally, I think "US out now" as a simple mantra neglects to consider the full range of possible disasters that could ensue. For one thing, there would be an Iraq civil war. Iraq wasn't having a civil war in 2002. And although you could argue that what is going on now is a subterranean, unconventional civil war, it is not characterized by set piece battles and hundreds of people killed in a single battle, as was true in Lebanon in 1975-76, e.g. People often allege that the US military isn't doing any good in Iraq and there is already a civil war. These people have never actually seen a civil war and do not appreciate the lid the US military is keeping on what could be a volcano.
All it would take would be for Sunni Arab guerrillas to assassinate Grand Ayatollah Sistani. And, boom. If there is a civil war now that kills a million people, with ethnic cleansing and millions of displaced persons, it will be our fault, or at least the fault of the 75% of Americans who supported the war. (Such a scenario is entirely plausible. Look at Afghanistan. It was a similar-sized country with similar ethnic and ideological divisions. One million died 1979-1992, and five million were displaced. Moreover, all this helped get New York and the Pentagon blown up.)Go read the plan.
[. . .] On the other hand, the gradual radicalization of the entire Sunni Arab heartland of Iraq stands as testimony to the miserable failure of US military counter-insurgency tactics. It seems to me indisputable that US tactics have progressively made things worse in that part of Iraq, contributing to the destabilization of the country.
So those who want the troops out also do have a point.
So here is what I would suggest as a responsible stance toward Iraq."
Of course, Bush would never go along with any of it. For example,
9) Congress must rewrite the laws governing US reconstruction aid to Iraq so as to take out provisions that Iraqis must where possible use US companies or materiel. All of the reconstruction money should go directly to Iraqi firms, so as to help jump-start the economy.
Robertson called for the assassination of Venezuela's president. Because those people are on our oil.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid had a mini-stroke Friday. The right's reaction? See The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: You've Got it the Wrong Way Around:
... Harry "Slandering Sleazebucket" Reid ... that sack of bovine byproducts ... sick, lying gasbag ... Harry "the Hatchet" Reid ...Be sure to go see their "GIVE-A-FUCK-O-METER".The bad news: About one-third of the people who experience a TIA will later suffer a stroke.That's the Bad News?
Just so you know what we're dealing with here.
August 21, 2005
What we all want is for the war to end. I'm not at all sure that just pulling our forces out now accomplishes that. It might even widen the war and bring it here.
What we should be talking about it how to END the war.
Update - The bully down the street starts a fire in the 12-story building next to your house. If the fire burns it could topple onto your house. Do you let the building burn because the bully is an asshole who shouldn't have started the fire?
(In no way do I advocate "staying the course." I think we should be advocating bringing the UN in rather than just "get out", and prosecute Bush. And what Republican Sen. and war veteran Hagel said, sit down and negotiate with Iran about ending this.)
From the pages of the O.C. Weekly, Justice Takes a Beating: OC court greenlights torture in local Jails
Sheriff Mike Corona's deputies could teach Gen. Geoffrey "Gitmo" Miller a thing or two about torture.
Last month, on the other side of the planet from Abu Ghraib prison and 3,200 miles from Guantanamo Bay, right here in Orange County, *five jail deputies handcuffed, hooded, beat and tortured a 38-year-old San Clemente businessman*, according to a claim filed this week.
Still in pain three weeks after the July 17 incident, Greg W. Hall told OC Weekly about a Sunday evening that began auspiciously: enjoying a beer early in the afternoon and later several coffees, contemplating surfing and walking his dog at the beach. As Hall backed his SUV out of a parking space, his dog jumped in front of a side-view mirror and distracted him. He sideswiped another vehicle, causing minor damage.
Just in case you were wondering, Hall is a white man.
Just another day at the beach:
When police arrived, they gave Hall a field-sobriety check and two Breathalyzer tests. Crime lab records show his blood alcohol level was 0.00. Nevertheless, deputies believed Hall acted oddly. Currently on probation for an illegal prescription case in 2003, Hall told the officer at the scene about the beer and admitted that he used Paxil, an antidepressant medication. The deputy arrested him on suspicion of DUI and transported him to the Orange County Jail for a drug test. After a nurse took his blood, the arresting officer told Hall, “You’ll probably be out of here in about an hour,” and left.
But a 16-hour “hellish nightmare” awaited Hall, who attended Newport Harbor High School, graduated in 1991 from UC San Diego with a degree in economics, and says he has operated several small companies. When he complained about the tightness of his handcuffs, five deputies swarmed him, yelled obscenities and attacked without legitimate provocation, Hall claims. Handcuffed and overwhelmed, his body was treated like a piñata.
Those good old boys at the OC jail know how to have a good time:
According to documents filed Aug. 11 with county officials, the deputies dragged Hall down a corridor, shoved his face into a cell door frame, threw him to the floor, punched him, kicked his ribs, stomped on his back and legs, bent and twisted his arms and wrists, and repeatedly slammed his face into the concrete. Hall says one deputy tried to break his right foot with his bare hands. He remembers an unrelenting, “two- or three-minute attack” that ended only when a superior officer ordered the deputies to stop.
“I thought they were going to kill me,” said Hall, bandaged and wearing a wrist cast. “They had no right to torture me. I was in handcuffs. I was cooperating.”
At press time, the results of Hall’s drug test were not available. But medical records show that during his visit to the jail he suffered a concussion, broken ribs, a gash in his leg, an eye contusion, broken veins in his feet, a shattered front tooth, lacerations and bruises over his body, contusions to a knee, neck pain, a fractured right wrist and nerve damage to his left hand. The handcuffs were locked so tightly that the steel sliced his hands and caused dangerous swelling. An imprint of a deputy’s boot could be seen on the back of his leg for days.
The beating was so severe that Hall defecated in his pants. Deputies laughed and called him a “shit monkey.” When they returned to his cell later, they cursed at him again—*and tied a black mesh hood over his head*.
The "Psycho Crew":
But law enforcement sources, defense lawyers and former inmates tell the Weekly that a minority of officers in the Orange County Jail are, as a sheriff’s department official familiar with excessive force cases described them, “pure and simple thugs who don’t have the mental or emotional makeup to wear a badge.”
“Outsiders might think the department wouldn’t tolerate these bad apples,” said the official. “But they’re definitely there. They’re an embarrassment to the department. They’ve even had names, including ‘The Psycho Crew.’”
Unimaginable brutality has been publicly reported:
Brown, now with a Tennessee newspaper, found evidence in 2000 that jail deputies entertained themselves by encouraging fights between inmates. In 2001, Brown and Register reporter John McDonald disclosed that four deputies had taken a 20-year-old inmate to an isolated area of the jail in December 1999 and *crushed his testicles*. Prosecutors agreed that the man had been tortured but said a code of silence among jail personnel prevented the filing of charges. Deputies claimed their Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination when they were brought before the grand jury
The California Court of Appeals condones torture:
But the Court of Appeal comprises well-connected individuals. And for those with further political ambitions, it’s unwise to take sides against law enforcement or to dig too deeply into local institutions like the jail. So it’s not surprising that Sills’ panel routinely ignores the screams of beaten suspects and inmates.
What’s alarming, however, is how far that panel will go to make life more miserable for inmates, many of whom are still—nominally, at least—innocent. Just before Hall’s alleged July 17 beating, the appeals panel gave tacit support for jailhouse torture. On June 29, Justices William Rylaarsdam, Richard D. Fybel and Eileen C. Moore overturned a jury’s decision to award $177,000 in damages to Robert N. Carter, an inmate who suffered numerous injuries while in custody for possession of drug paraphernalia. Forty years old and overweight, Carter claimed that deputies refused to give him medicine for a critical heart condition, kicked him in the groin repeatedly, pepper sprayed his face, beat his ribs, broke his jaw and hog-tied him. He said he was forced to use his cell’s toilet water to rinse the pepper spray from his eyes.
The Court of Appeals has repeatedly condoned brutal beatings:
But the most troubling ruling from the court came on June 8, when Justices Moore and Fybel joined William Bedsworth. The case was simple: Santa Ana police took Hong Cuc Truong, who’d been arrested for shoplifting in 2002, to the Orange County Jail. There, Truong—a Vietnamese immigrant diagnosed with schizophrenia—initially refused a deputy’s command to undress and take a shower before she was to be issued a jail jump suit. Truong began undressing about 10 minutes later, after another inmate convinced her it was safe to disrobe. As she pulled her sweater over her head, however, four deputies pounced, beating and kicking her and painfully twisting her arms behind her back. In the process, Truong suffered a severe arm fracture, according to records reviewed by the Weekly. Tossed in a cell, she said she was denied medical attention for hours.
The appeals court ruled there had been no excessive force. Never mind that the woman was in the process of complying when the attack occurred, wrote Justice Moore: “Truong’s refusal to obey the lawful order and the events that led to her injuries are part of an unbreakable chain of events.” It was “temporal hair-splitting” to consider that the woman had “changed her mind and started to remove her sweater.”
But lost in Moore’s justification was a missing explanation: Why did it take four trained deputies—using considerable violence—to handle Truong, who, at the time of the incident, was 54 years old, an inch over 5 feet tall and barely 100 pounds?
Cross posted at MyDD
Hat tip to goplies at MyDD, Spread The Word. War protesters and Cindy Sheehan activists need to start bringing cameras and lawyers to their demonstrations.
Today in Oakland in front of the Army Recruiting Center on Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh Police and University of Pittsburgh Police fought with protestors on the sidewalk. At least six people were arrested; police fired tasers and other weapons at the crowd, including restrained arrestees and bystanders.
During the rally at the station, a freelance Fox News cameraman who was aggressively filming demonstrators' faces was told to leave and started a minor confrontation with protestors. He returned with police officers, claiming that either he was punched or that his camera was broken (although he continued to use his camera the rest of the day). Witnesses confirm that neither of these things happened. On this pretense, police began chasing any masked protestors they could find, arresting several and firing weapons at the crowd. Several people have confirmed that they were hit with tasers and chemical weapons. Video cameras captured tasers being fired at people who had already been subdued and restrained by police officers.
Later, police dogs were used to chase away protestors on the sidewalk, and one woman was bitten from behind by a police dog. Some time later, after telling police she wanted to file a complaint, she was told the police would "take her information," but instead she was arrested and placed in the back of a police van.
Photos and a video of police using a taser on a woman lying on her stomach with her hands restrained behind her back.Counter-Recruitment demonstrators shot with Tasers, bitten by dogs
From the DNC:
Dean Echoes Hagel, Says Troops Deserve Clear Plan for Success in IraqWhen we withdraw - and we will have to - let the public understand that it is because Bush and the Republicans fucked things up, and not let them be told it's because the treasonous Democrats sided with the terrorists and made us lose.
WASHINGTON - Today, DNC Chairman Howard Dean, echoing the concerns of Democrats and Republicans across the country, called on President Bush to lay out - and stick to - a clear military plan for success in Iraq that includes heeding the advice of military commanders. During his appearance on ABC's "This Week", Republican Senator Chuck Hagel warned President Bush against ignoring the advice of his military officials when putting together a military plan for Iraq, citing the Bush administration's dismissal of the prediction by former Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, that several hundred thousand American troops would be needed to stabilize Iraq after the American invasion.
Yesterday, Army General Peter Schoomaker signaled that the Army had already begun logistical planning to keep 100,000 American troops in Iraq.
"This President has failed our nation and our troops by ignoring the advice of high-ranking military officials and failing to commit to a clear plan for success in Iraq," said DNC Chairman Howard Dean. "The President can't make up for the mistakes he made in taking the US to war in Iraq, but he can do the right thing going forward. When President Bush speaks later this week to members of the military and veterans, he should lay out a clear plan for future success in Iraq based on the informed advice of his military command. It's long-past time for the President to show some leadership, for the sake of our troops, their families and America's security."
Digby analyzes Kevin Drum's challenge to robust liberal hawks, Put Up Or Shut Up
Kevin Drum challenges "failure is not an option" Democrats to put up or shut up:...if you do believe we can win in Iraq, let's hear what you mean by "win" and how you think we can do it, and let's hear it in clear and compelling declarative sentences. "Stay the course" isn't enough. What Bush is doing now obviously isn't working, so what would you do that's significantly different?
Conversely, if you don't believe we can win in Iraq, and you're only suggesting we stay there because you can't stand the thought of "looking weak," then your moral compass needs some serious adjustment."
How can we win a war where we are the problem?
I can't imagine any realistic "winning" scenario at this point in which Americans are involved. Indeed, it was lost from the the minute we defied the world and decided to go it alone. It's the "american-ness" of the occupation that is its most immediate problem. So we should go, if only to relieve that pressure.
There is a very slight chance that if we leave the Iraqis themselves will create a stable, democratic system but I'm extremely pessimistic. The country was an artificial construct to be begin with and the fact that the majority were repressed by the minority for decades, and that vast amounts of money is at stake in certain areas and there is a rise of extreme religious fundamentalism in the region means that this is almost certainly destined for disaster. It was foreseen by many that we could actually make things worse for the Iraqi people and we have.
Cogitator is more blunt. It's time to pull out, because the war is already over and we lost:
The war IS over. The war, as it exists today, CANNOT be won.
We invaded Iraq because the Bush administration argued that Saddam Hussein possessed biological and chemical weapons. We were told that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear bomb and that we could not wait for the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud. We were told that Saddam Hussein wished to annihilate the entire United States. Remember the endless threats which all turned out to be lies? Don't forget the lies that led us to where we are now. WATCH THIS AND REMEMBER.
Bilmon examines a Wa Po article that informs us things are much worse in both Afghanistan and Iraq than anybody has admitted, Of Kurds And Crips:
Tony Shadid and his colleague Steve Fainaru -- last seen at this blog cruising the Sunni Triangle with a bunch of Saddam-loving Iraqi Army recruits -- have a long story in today's Washington Post that reviews the transformation of Iraq into the new, juiced-up Lebanon:Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country's divide along ethnic and sectarian lines . . .Iraq's second-largest city, has witnessed dozens of assassinations, claiming members of the former ruling Baath Party, Sunni political leaders and officials of competing Shiite parties. Many have been carried out by uniformed men in police vehicles, according to political leaders and families of the victims, with some of the bullet-riddled bodies dumped at night in a trash-strewn parcel known as The Lot.
In Basra in the south, dominated by the Shiites, and Mosul in the north, ruled by the Kurds, as well as cities and villages around them, many residents say they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein.
The picture they paint is chaotic, thuggish and utterly detached from the political bickering now under way in the Green Zone -- which might just as well be happening on another planet. The militias have already adopted their own constitution, which is loosely modeled on the one developed for the streets of South Central Los Angeles by the Crips and the Bloods:
It's over. The only question is how many more American soldiers and innocent Iraqis will be killed before the Democratic warmongers wake up and smell the napalm. Contribute to Russ Feingold.
August 20, 2005
This is outrageous: The Canadian Police have arrested marajuana legalization activist Marc Emery (a Canadian citizen, and founder/head of the British Columbia Marajuana Party) and two employees of his marajuana seed distribution company. This was done at the request of the U.S. Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (which obviously has nothing better to do, like taking out meth labs and breaking up crack distribution networks). They are attempting to have him extradited to the US, where if convicted, he faces prison time (up to ten years), and is even theoretically subject to life in prison or the death penalty, as a "drug kingpin" (ala Pablo Escobar). Why? Well, the quote below tells you: a transparent attempt to suppress a political point of view. Facism, pure and simple.
a column by Joel Connelly in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer this morning quotes a statement by DEA chief Karen Tandy suggesting political motivations: " Today's arrest of Mark (sic) Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and the founder of a marijuana legalization group, is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the US and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement... Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery's illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on."
Here's the full article, from stopthedrugwar.org: Marc Emery Busted -- Canada's Leading Marijuana Activist Facing Life in American Prison Over Seed Sales
Here's the full column quoted above: Pursuit of drug case all smoke, no fire
Take action: encourage the Canadian government to refuse extradition for actions that are either not crimes under Canadian law, or for which the penalties in the U.S. are vastly greater than in Canada.
Send a message to Canada's Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler at
or fax 613-954-0811
The Honourable Irwin Cotler
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8
Jesse at Pandagon comments on a Dear Abby letter complaining about a neighbor with a Gay Pride flag and doesn't want children "to be subjected to that kind of thing."
Because gays are uncommonly obsessed with sex and children (I heard it from James Dobson, so it must be true), the merest exposure to homosexuality is enough to send your child on a downward spiral into drugs, debauchery and death. But what if we took common symbols of homosexuality - pride flags, Margaret Cho, short fingernails on women - and instead made homosexuals think of specifically targeted messages? A pride flag instantaneously communicates hedonistic perversion, but what if that gay man and every gay or lesbian he knew congregated around that flag, and instead thought of United States presidents? Basketball statistics? Basic math?Go read.
President George W. Bush said on Saturday U.S. troops in Iraq were fighting to protect Americans at home from more attacks like those of September 11, 2001...So much for "freeing the Iraqi people" and "bringing democracy to the Iraqis." This month the reason for invading Iraq is back to Iraq was going to attack us. And of course the mysterious "they" that we are fighting:
"Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to protect their fellow Americans from a savage enemy," Bush said in his weekly radio address.
"They know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets, and they know that the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war, and they know we will prevail," he said.
"We're fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world, striking them in foreign lands before they can attack us here at home," Bush said."Foreign lands." Has a ring to it, no?
Since Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and had no plans nor had the means to attack us, I guess he's saying that brown people attacked us on 9/11, so we have to fight brown people somewhere? I guess that would fit with the language about "savages."
Also - Focus group phrase alert!
"In a few weeks, our country will mark the four-year anniversary of the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. On that day, we learned that vast oceans and friendly neighbors no longer protect us from those who wish to harm our people,"This must have have good results from focus groups in "the heartland" who somehow forgot about decades of fear of nuclear missiles and long-range bombers.
One of the Right's favorite accusations is that liberals side with the terrorists. What's the STF rule?
U.S. diplomats have conceded ground to Islamists on the role of religion in Iraq, negotiators said on Saturday...Bush invades secular Iraq to set up an Islamic state. Jeeze. Could things be going better for bin Laden, the Taliban and Iran? How soon will women here be forced to wear burkas and stay at home?
"We understand the Americans have sided with the Shi'ites," he said. "It's shocking. It doesn't fit American values. They have spent so much blood and money here, only to back the creation of an Islamist state ... I can't believe that's what the Americans really want or what the American people want."
[. . .] An official of one of the main Shi'ite Islamist parties in the interim government confirmed the deal on law and Islam.
August 19, 2005
We started a war. If we "withdraw" that does not end it. I know this comes as a surprise to many in America, but I am going to deliver some bad news.
America has become an audience nation. We act like everything is a TV show. We are accustomed to watching and changing the channel when the show gets boring. And we extend this attitude into our expectations about reality. We pretend that we can cut taxes but spend on programs (especially the military) and borrow the money to do this and this will never catch up to us. We pretend that we can buy on credit from China and send them all our manufacturing jobs and this will never catch up to us.
We pretend that we can ignore our infrastructure - our roads and our bridges and our rail and our schools and our justice system - and they will keep functioning. Perhaps we'll be able to change the channel again and not see the deterioration.
We start wars that others must fight, and pretend it is a show for us to watch. But Americans are disovering that we can't change the channel on the war we started. It's starting to sink in, just how bad a mess Bush has created. Dead troops don't come home and bombs keep exploding. The channel isn't changing. So Americans are getting cranky.
War is the worst thing in the world. And we have started a war. We went over there and killed maybe as many as 100,000 fathers, brothers, sisters and mothers. They aren't just going to forget that - and we shouldn't either. A year and a half ago I wrote,
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.And here we are. We click and click and the channel doesn't change. So now our easy solution is to just "withdraw," as if that's all we have to do. There's an interesting psychological parallel in the term, no? Just "withdraw."
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...
But is it really such an easy answer? Aside from all the consequences for Iraqis there will be long-term ongoing consequences here. I'm talking about serious national security concerns. While we had no reason to invade Iraq in the first place WE HAVE CREATED THE THREAT. Saying "we are less safe now" is not a political slogan. WE ARE LESS SAFE NOW. If we leave, we are leaving behind an Afghanistan, with a Taliban, infrastrucutre destroyed (by us) but with all the resources of an oil-rich nation-state, and not very concerned that we will be coming back any time soon.
Withdrawal is changing the channel. But anyone who really thinks that "withdrawal" ends this hasn't thought past those painful events of today that are making them want to "withdraw." As if "getting out" means we'd be out. No, it means never being safe again. We started a war. Do you understand? You don't just end a war by wishing it to end.
No, leaving means we're STARTING, not ending, the problems. Why on earth do you think that what we did to THEIR cities can't be done to OUR cities?
If you think the weapons that will be used against us in coming years are going to discriminate and not target the people who wanted to "withdraw," you are kidding yourselves. You are in the "denial" phase, as the consequences of what the American chickenhawk leadship has done are beginning to come home to roost. 1800 dead soldiers is NOTHING. We STARTED A WAR. Now we are AT WAR. We can't just "withdraw" and think that war ends because we want it to.
Go look at pictures of Berlin and Tokyo and see how the war they started ended for them. There was supposed to be a lesson for the world from that: THAT'S WHY YOU SHOULDN'T START WARS.
And it's why we hang people who do.
CathiefromCanada has good pics from this week's Cindy Sheehan support vigil.
Continuing my "what I'd do" about Iraq if I was King rant, and recognizing that anything we advocate is irrelevant. Like the Social Security debate, anything we put forward leaves us open to criticism and blame - but not to credit. One commenter wrote, "you know the President does not listen to anyone with a different opinion, giving him one enables him to shift the blame."
I'm saying that the RIGHT solution is not to mess everything up and just "withdraw," but to FIX IT. We should advocate that Bush either fix things or turn Iraq over to the UN and finance bringing in sufficient forces to restore stability, establish a government and justice system, AND finance the reconstruction. Not like this is what is going to happen.
Bush and the war-planners should be tried for war crimes. The Rule of Law demands this. They committed the crime of aggressive war, and the world needs to know that this is not tolerated.
Everyone in the chain of command of Guantanamo and Abu Grahib should be prosecuted for allowing the pattern of abuse of prisoners to occur.
And, finally, we need to change our country's political, election and information systems so that a far-right coup can not happen again.
Oh yeah, one more thing. Everyone who voted for Bush should be sent to Iraq to keep the peace until the UN takes over. And THEY should be taxed to pay for fixing things.
Update - For new Seeing the Forest readers: Don't misread my position as support for this war. I was completely, totally against invading Iraq from the moment it was first mentioned. I wrote from the start that it was clearly an illegal, immoral scam -- lies intended to manipulate the public. It is from this position - that it was wrong to do what we did - that I believe we now have a responsibility to the people there, and to the world, to do what we can to fix things there. As I said, you don't mess things up and then think "withdrawal" makes it right again. Unfortunately it was done "in our name" so it is us, you and me, who are responsible for the consequences. Just like the huge bill that's coming for Bush's tax cuts, trade deficit, housing bubble, etc. We're the ones on the hook for it. And one thing we can do to help set things right is put the perpetrators in jail.
August 18, 2005
1. A chickenhawk supports the war and could volunteer to fight.Go see where it is going.
2. Moreover he* recommends the war enthusiastically, and tries to convince other people that the war is worthwhile. He may have exhorted us to invade Iraq in the first place. Maybe he even attacks critics of the war for being "weak" or "unpatriotic."
3. He knows that there aren't currently enough troops to fight the war properly.
4. He understands that if the war is not fought properly, we will lose. He can't advocate the status quo, because that would be hypocritical. After all, he says he supports the war. He also claims to support our troops, and he wouldn't want any unnecessary deaths for lack of reinforcements.
Comments (edited to make me look better) I left to the Left Coaster post Jeopardy – the Iraq edition:
I think just leaving is actually the worst of all solutions for a number of reasons. The first is legal - we broke it we fix it - occupying powers are responsible for security so it would be illegal for us to just leave. When we say "they" don't want us there, who do we mean? Iraq is not a "they" it is millions of individuals with different interests and concerns. (Most Americans mean brown people when they think of any "they" anywhere...)
The second is thinking about what happens if we do leave. Civil war will kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. So would chaos. An Islamic Republic would enslave the women. The most likely result is Iran takes over the Shiite terrirories - and the oil.
And, frankly, we must not leave behind a determined enemy with all the resources of an oil-rich nation-state. When we invaded it was not that, but it could be that now.Discuss.
And out of that chaos will come a national security nightmare that we can not now even imagine.
And if the US does cut and run with those results "the left" will be blamed for decades.
My "position" on Iraq is that we should send as many troops as is needed to restore order, allow them to develop a stable government and rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq. That is my position.
This would require a draft, and taxes sufficient to pay for the effort (incuding reconstructing Iraq.) If we instead ask the UN to take over, we should be the ones who pay for their forces and the reconstruction.
I know it will never happen, but this is the legal, moral and responsible thing to do. WE - Bush in our name - invaded the country, destroyed its stability (maybe now people understand why Iraq had such a tyrannical regime) and destroyed its infrastructure.
I do not advocate any other position. If we are going to cut and run and allow Iraq and the region to descend into murderous chaos, let that be on the head of Bush and the Right who brought this on.
Advocating cutting and running is advocating letting the Republicans off the hook and offering to shoulder the blame in their place.
Brief comment from a friend involved in public health:
Substantial chance of worldwide spread. Worse for developing world than developed world, for multiple reasons. Don't know when a form that is readily transmitted between humans will evolve, but this H5N1 virus has shown that it is capable of that on a limited basis. We also don't know whether a human-to-human form will have as high a mortality rate. US woefully unprepared, due to years of underfunding our public health infrastructure. Pharma industry not able to pick up the ball in terms of rapid development and mass production of vaccine. US & other govts should subsidize vaccine development, because market incentives are inadequate and liability incentives discourage private industry from this field.And I just had to elevate the comments our troll left at the previous avian flu post. They so well illustrate the Republican mindset:
Mass hysteria promoted by people who would be the beneficiaries of government funds to fight said viral plague.The right is so anti-community (not to mention anti-science...) that they even oppose public health programs. But pandemics (epidemics over a wide area) aren't Libertarians - they don't just kill the poor.
[. . .] Anyhow, my suspicion is that this is being used by the left to expand the governments already massive control of the finances of Health care. The virologists and MDs who are arguing for this out of an (unconscious) drive to expand funding I can understand; it is myopic, but understandable. The left using this to force this country to their vision of utopian socialized medicine because of their socialist theology I think is repugnant.
Old Dead Kennedys song time:
Efficiency and progress is ours once more
Now that we have the Neutron bomb
It's nice and quick and clean and gets things done
Away with excess enemy
But no less value to property
No sense in war but perfect sense at home:
The sun beams down on a brand new day
No more welfare tax to pay
Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light
Jobless millions whisked away
At last we have more room to play
All systems go to kill the poor tonight
Kill kill kill kill Kill the poor:Tonight
Behold the sparkle of champagne
The crime rate's gone
Feel free again
O' life's a dream with you, Miss Lily White
Jane Fonda on the screen today
Convinced the liberals it's okay
So let's get dressed and dance away the night
Kill kill kill kill Kill the poor:Tonight
August 17, 2005
The new U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt told the Associated Press in early August that an influenza pandemic was now an "absolute certainty," echoing repeated warnings from the World Health Organization that it was "inevitable." Likewise Science magazine observed that expert opinion held the odds of a global outbreak as "100 percent."
In the same grim spirit, the British press revealed that officials were scouring the country for suitable sites for mass mortuaries, based on official fears that avian flu could kill as many as 700,000 Britons. The Blair government is already conducting emergency simulations of a pandemic outbreak ("Operation Arctic Sea") and is reported to have readied "Cobra" -- a cabinet-level working group that coordinates government responses to national emergencies like the recent London bombings from a secret war room in Whitehall -- to deal with an avian flu crisis.
Little of this Churchillian resolve is apparent in Washington. Although a sense of extreme urgency is evident in the National Institutes of Health where the czar for pandemic planning, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warns of "the mother of all emerging infections," the White House has seemed even less perturbed by migrating plagues than by wanton carnage in Iraq.
No it wasn't Bush. Of course it wasn't Bush. What were you thinking? That would be taking responsibility and showing leadership. Give me a break. Bush? Has Bush EVER said anything remotely like this?
This NY Times story, State Dept. Says It Warned About bin Laden in 1996 ends with this:
"The thinking was that he was in Afghanistan, and he was dangerous, but because he was there, we had a better chance to kill him," Mr. Scheuer said. "But at the end of the day, we settled for the worst possibility - he was there and we didn't do anything."It accidently forgot to include this:
Clinton strikes terrorist basesMore here,
THE United States launched cruise missile strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan yesterday against centres allegedly linked with the terrorist bombings of two American embassies.
With about 75 missiles timed to explode simultaneously in unsuspecting countries on two continents, the operation was the most formidable U.S. military assault ever against a private sponsor of terrorism.Oops, the Times accidentally left that part out...
... Clinton and his national security team linked both sites to Osama bin Laden, the exiled Saudi millionaire tied by U.S. intelligence to the twin bombings on Aug. 7 in Kenya and Tanzania. The bombings killed 12 Americans and nearly 300 Africans.
... The president made no apologies for ordering the strikes without permission from Afghanistan or the Sudan, saying, "Countries that persistently host terrorists have no right to be safe havens."
... Clinton presented several reasons for the decision to act swiftly and forcefully, rather than to punish bin Laden through the means of diplomacy and law. Repeatedly he said bin Laden presented an imminent threat, quoting his pledge this week to wage a war in which Americans were "all targets."
Talking Points Memo has been writing about defense contract scandals involving Congressman "Duke" Cunningham apparently receiving big-money-equivalent favors in exchange for no-bid big-money defense contracts. TPM writes,
"This isn't just a Duke Cunningham scandal. It's a serious defense contracting scandal."Perhaps Bush's appoinment of L. Jean Lewis as chief of staff in the traditionally nonpartisan Defense Department’s inspector general office has something to do with this. Yep, a "conservative movement" operative in charge of oversight of defense contracts.
And here we are with defense contract corruption everywhere you look.
Larry Mattlage, who was just practicing hunting when he fired his shotgun, and some of the "laid back friendly people" of Crawford, think Cindy and the anti-war protesters have worn out their welcome:
"It's like company," Mattlage later told reporters. "If you had your brother-in-law in your house for five days, wouldn't it start stinking up the place?"
Mattlage said most of his neighbors were upset by the presence of the protesters, and he was just the first to speak up.
"I don't want nobody to get hurt," Mattlage said.
"I just want them to pack their damn tents and go where they came from."
Millions of Iraqis feel exactly the same way about American troops.
August 16, 2005
boingboing.net just put up an article entitled, "The Profits of Fear", by Charles Platt (a former senior writer for Wired Magazine, back when it was worth reading). It is the story of Sam Cohen, the man who invented the Neutron Bomb, and his attempts to sell it in Washington, DC... and his encounters with our government's civilian and military leadership, who appear to be driven by lunatic medacity, pathological incompetence, and insatiable greed.
Why, as an STF reader, should you read this piece? Well, aside from the fact that it is a flat out fascinating read, the type of thoughtful, quirky journalism that expands the mind... to quote the author: "For those who wonder how neo-conservative think tanks managed to incite empire-building conceits that fomented a renewed war in Iraq, Cohen's experiences fifty years ago turn out to be unexpectedly relevant."
The article analyzes parallels between the nature and scope of the influence on policy that RAND (the original think tank) had in the early 1950's, and that modern incarnations like the "Project for a New American Century" have today.
I always thought that the nuetron bomb was a bad idea, because it would make war "too easy", by limiting the scope of the damage to property and life, etc. but I see that this was naive: our leaders, and our military could give a damn about the damage caused by war (this is evidenced, by, among other things, the fact that when a version of the nuetron bomb was finally built, it functioned like any other bomb: destroying everything in it's path).
Platt's theory is that our political process self-selects for pathological power-driven egotists, and that war provides these individuals with an excuse for self-importance (not to mention feeding the war machine) - and that the Cold War, and now, obviously, the "War on (some) Terror" serves this purpose ideally.
P.S. The reaction of Platt's editor at Wired to the idea of doing a profile of this sort, "The guy sounds wacky." explains why Wired became "tired" as the millenium arrives and lost it's relevance. The early Wired would have embraced the idea of a piece like this.
The day after burying their son, parents of a fallen Marine urged President Bush to either send more reinforcements to Iraq or withdraw U.S. troops altogether.Thanks to Crooks and Liars.
[. . .] 'Our comments are not just those of grieving parents,'' Paul Schroeder said in front of the couple's home. ''They are based on anger, Mr. President, not grief. Anger is an honest emotion when someone's family has been violated.''
Palmer accused the president of refusing to make changes in a war gone bad. ''Whether he leads them out by putting more troops on the ground or pulling them out -- he can't just let it continue,'' she said.
[. . .] The couple applauded Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier who has camped out in protest near Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, for bringing the war to the public's attention.
''We consider her the Rosa Parks of the new movement opposing the Iraq war,'' Palmer said.
This is old, but I just came across it. George W. Bush's Journey: A Philosophy With Roots in Conservative Texas Soil quotes a childhood friend of George W Bush:
"We were terrible to animals," recalled Mr. Throckmorton, laughing. A dip behind the Bush home turned into a small lake after a good rain, and thousands of frogs would come out.
"Everybody would get BB guns and shoot them," Mr. Throckmorton said. "Or we'd put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up."
August 15, 2005
Through The Left Coaster: The Left Coaster: Great Timing - Newsweek Says That Bush Really Cries And Cares About Dead Soldiers.
Newsweek has an article about how Bush cries over the dead soldiers. Hold your stomaches, this is major emotional praise-Dear-Leader-propaganda:
President Bush was wearing "a huge smile," but his eyes were red and he looked drained by the time he got to the last widow, Crystal Owen, a third-grade schoolteacher who had lost her husband in Iraq. "Tell me about Mike," he said immediately. "I don't want my husband's death to be in vain," she told him. The president apologized repeatedly for her husband's death. When Owen began to cry, Bush grabbed her hands. "Don't worry, don't worry," he said, though his choking voice suggested that he had worries of his own. The president and the widow hugged. "It felt like he could have been my dad," Owen recalled to NEWSWEEK. "It was like we were old friends. It almost makes me sad. In a way, I wish he weren't the president, just so I could talk to him all the time."This is Newsweek providing cover for Bush over the Cindy Sheehan fiasco. There just is no other way to see this. Expect to see more of this, everywhere -- that's how they work.
[. . .] As he spoke, Ascione could see the grief rising through the president's body. His shoulder slumped and his face turned ashen. He began to cry and his voice choked. He paused, tried to regain his composure and looked around the room. "I am sorry, I'm so sorry," he said.
Steve at Left Coaster writes,
Well, it’s clear to see what the White House got for beating the stuffing out of Newsweek earlier this year over the Koran desecration stories.
As soon as Cindy Sheehan started doing some damage to Bush’s image as a wartime leader, we could expect to see this: a story from the mainstream media telling us that Bush really does care and that he cries in private when he visits with the families of the fallen at military bases.
Ships come into the port loaded with goods that we buy from China. But China doesn't buy very much from us. So we have to send ships back loaded with empty containers. (Well almost empty, they're actually filled with dollars, and jobs, and the future.)
Real estate investors are just walking away from residential property and lenders are getting stuck. Some lenders do not want to take title to the worthless property and the city has started a campaign called the "shaming sign" - placing signs on abandoned property with the names of the lenders' executives. This has induced some lenders to take title and either fix up or demolish the abandoned homes.It's starting, folks. And I predict it will be worse this time than it has been in the past.
This is a story from the Great Depression ... except it is happening right now in Dayton, Ohio.
Suppose you borrowed $500,000 with no down payment, and pay only interest, and your payments are higher than you can really afford, and you see that prices are not going up and maybe even starting down, what reason do you have to stay in that house? Why not just walk away, give the keys to the bank, and move somewhere you can afford? You really have very little to lose.
But the bank, that's another story. The bank now has a house instead of a %500,000 loan on their books. So they have to turn that house into cash. They understand that they aren't going to get $500,000 for the house and they're going to put it on the market and take what they can get. So prices are now $450,000 in your neighborhood.
Meanwhile your neighbors have a $500,000 mortgage with no down payment and the monthly payment is more they they can afford. Some walk away and give the house to the bank, others just sell. Soon one of every five houses is for sale, but the buyers see prices going down so they're holding out.
There is another element here -- the speculators. People who purchased houses or condos intending to "flip" them for a higher price in a short time. They're really on the spot here and really have to "unload" fast. And they keep a close eye on the market. So they'll "dump" and soon. Now even more properties are on the market.
Desperate sellers lower prices. They need that money, and they are afraid prices will go even lower in a hurry. So they'll make deals to sell their property. Others will see that the ones holding out for any decent price are losing their shirts, and lower their prices even faster.
Do you see where this goes? It's called a "panic."
Prices will get down to where they should be, probably in a hurry. Borrowers and lenders will be hurting. And most of the jobs created in the country in the last few years depended on mortgage lending and home construction. Do you see where this goes?
Start reading about the Savings and Loan Crisis. The amounts involved (and the corruption) will be much greater this time.
You and I will pay for it.
Kos writes that Corruption isn't a partisan issue,
The moral imperative behind a "clean government" crusade is self-evident. But there's also a practical reason to oppose corruption even amongst Democrats -- it's a sure-fire way to lose elections. Rampant Democratic corruption cost us Congress in 1994, and we've yet to recover. And continued Democratic corruption has made House Dems wary of charging ahead with the "corruption" theme to hard, lest some of the current members get snared in the web.Well, we currently have one of the most corrupt Congresses in our history, and it is not costing them much with the electorate. But that's because the power brings them the power to cover up.
I have a modest proposal that might help in the future, helping expose Congressional corruption but especially with administration corruption: give subpoena power to the minority party a well as the majority party. Currently Democrats in the House and Senate have no power to do anything about the obvious, blatant corruption that is draining our treasury and our pockets. The Republican majority not only refuses to do anything about the corruption, the block all efforts by the Democrats to do something about it. With the power to compel witnesses to testify they could provide a degree of oversight.
Of course there need to be limits to prevent witch-hunts like we saw in the Clinton years, using subpoena power to harrass and destroy people.
Several of the federal investigators were also deeply concerned that then attorney general John Ashcroft was personally briefed regarding the details of at least one FBI interview with Rove, despite Ashcroft's own longstanding personal and political ties to RoveThis led to career Justice Department investigators demanding that Ashcroft step aside from the investigation, finally allowing a Deputy Attorney General to appoint a Special Prosecutor.
August 14, 2005
My wife has a job that requires her to work in Sam's Warehouse & today she came in contact with Sen. Jim DeMint, and one thing she asked him was his opinion on the "lady down in Texas" as I think she recounted it.Tis Senator is talking about the mother of a US soldier who was killed in Iraq!
His answer: "those people are the enemy".
Cindy Sheehan and Randi Rhodes
Nick Doe at TPM Cafe writes: What? You're saying the war, the cherry picking of intel, and the incompetant mismanagement of the occupation is Joe Biden and Hillary Clintons fault? That's just nuts.....I'm getting pretty tired of a few people insisting on blaming the wrong people for the war.
My response, slightly edited:
That was a tricky way of getting Hillary and Joe off the hook! Obviously Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden were not in an executive position at the beginning of the war, but they did play a role, and they still do.
"Competence" was Dukakis's selling point, and Kerry's too, and it didn't work. And from the vantage of today, I'm not sure that anyone COULD "do the same thing, but do it right". We're in a Humpty Dumpty situation, and someone will have to bite the bullet and tell the American people what happened.
Liberal hawks always are talking about how the foreign / military policy they propose is realistic and sophisticated, but if you make "You can't be too dovish!" your main principle, you diminish your chances of making any contribution at all.
All the Republicans have to do is be more hawkish than the Democratic Party, and then a whole zone of liberal hawks will shelve off and support the Republicans. Even if the Republicans hadn't already wanted to start a war, the political payoff for doing so (splitting and crippling the Democrats) would have required them to do so.
August 13, 2005
In a very interesting post, The Stakeholder asks,
Does Tom DeLay believe Abramoff was involved in the murder [of SunCruz casino-boat founder Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis]?
[Interesting op-ed piece in the San Jose Mercury News. Small start ups are the growth engine of the economy... what happens when most of the money flowing through them is routed overseas, instead of being used to buy locally manufactured goods or hire people here in Silicon Valley?
The other end of this is, as he commented, outsourcing isn't the only factor... technological improvements and the growth of the Internet as a marketing vehicle enable customer acquisition and rapid growth without large technical or sales/support staffing.
This is a good thing, from the standpoint of efficiency... however, if you have a persistent surplus of labor, the result is a rapid depreciation in wages... maybe even with effectively no bottom.
Classic economics doesn't permit this, supply and demand must always revert to an equilibrium - but it doesn't account for non-market factors and human behavior. I can point you to many areas around the planet with umemployment rates at or above 40-50-60%.
Posted on Sun, Aug. 07, 2005
THE NEW NEW ECONOMY
There is an abundance of ideas in the valley.
BLAME START-UPS: THEY'RE NOT SPREADING WEALTH OR JOBS -- AND THEY MAY NEVER AGAIN
By Miguel Helft
August 12, 2005
[If you're not outraged, and scared witless, you're not paying attention. -Thomas]
Siberia's rapid thaw causes alarm, BBC News, August 11, 2005
The world's largest frozen peat bog is melting, which could speed the rate of global warming, New Scientist reports.
The huge expanse of western Siberia is thawing for the first time since its formation, 11,000 years ago.
The area, which is the size of France and Germany combined, could release billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
This could potentially act as a tipping point, causing global warming to snowball, scientists fear.
[... continued at URL above ...]
Yesterday, in Reassigning the Meaning of Words I wrote about Tucker Carlson prasing French terrorism that killed one person by blowing up a Greenpeace ship.
It's time to think about going to Crawford, Texas, if you can.
From a Daily Kos diary, They WERE Chanting WE DON'T CARE!
There are 50-60 counter-protesters set up on the other side of the road, the police have been joined by Secret Service who have their vehicles parked in between the two groups in the triangular area that was made off limits.From Peace In Pink Shoes, which is blogging from Crawford, Counter Protesters have arrived
Tracy says they are chanting WE DON'T CARE!!
"We have counter protesters showing up a little at a time, carrying little American flags and attempting to agitate the peaceful protesters. We have 5 law enforcement vehicles including county, city, state & SS. The media is on site. People are still being shuttled back and forth to the CPH. Ward & Andrea are heading back to CPH because they are sick like Annie was yesterday.Here are some of the comments from the Right about Cindy Sheehan:
At the top of the triangle where the counter protesters are getting out of the car, is the same location where the vets & military families are. It's almost as if they are deliberately picking that location to cause agitation."
Cindy Sheehan is a fool.LGF:
The California liberal connection, which includes the network-news divisions of CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, and of course CBS, have found a symbol for their hatred of George Bush--it is the bitch, Sheehan, who lives in California.
Cindy Sheehan’s puppet masters include the Crawford Peace House, a virulently antisemitic group that features a photo on their home page of a map of the mythical country of “Palestine” being replaced by the state of Israel.GOPUSA:
Sadly, Ms. Sheehan appears to be becoming unhinged by her grief and a too close association with anti-American wingnuts.Cindy Sheehan, I Loathe:
She and the Left are still dhimmis, and knowingly or unknowingly are willing to sacrifice the lives and future of all Americans in order to satisfy their uninformed agenda. And in the process, Cindy Sheehan continues to virtually spit upon her son's sacrifice, his good name, and the nation for which he sacrificed his life.
National talk-show host Neal Boortz:
Yesterday, President Bush came out and acknowledged Cindy Sheehan and said that he wasn't going to pull the troops out of Iraq. Sadly, this will not stop avowed media whore Mrs. Sheehan from maintaining her vigil outside Bush's Crawford ranch. [. . .] Looks like what's really going on here is that Cindy Sheehan has a few screws loose and her family knows it. Perhaps that would explain the complete 180 she did from last year, when she was praising President Bush, to this year, when she was bashing him.
"So now we can see exactly 'How Far Is Down' for any particular rental property. In this case I should expect to see my current rental house drop in value from $550,000 to $220,000 based on historical mean reversion characteristics."
"The real problem lies not in the fact that the rental house I live in will only be valued at $220,000 but rather how fast it falls and what happens when the landlord decides to sell."
It gets interesting if you follow the links in these posts.
I report, you decide. (Heh.)
Another way of saying Bob Somerby cannot see the forest for the trees.
eriposte has it exactly right. Are we done Howling yet?
All we can do is bow our heads as we join hands and pray for Bob's speedy recovery.:
I fear that Bob's constant exposure to Bush and Rove has driven him unshrill, an unholy condition worse than the fate of the undead. I ask Seeing the Forest and MyDD readers to bow their heads and join hands in shrillness to offer a prayer from the Krugmanomicon for Bob's speedy recovery:
Hige Sceal þe Heardra, Heorte þe Cenre, Mod Sceal þe Mare þe Ure Maegen Lytlað!
Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Keith Olbermann R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii!!! Yog-Sothoth! Shrub-Niggurath!! The Black Goat with a Thousand Young Who Hates America Is Here!!!!!!!
aaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Eric Umansky R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii!!! Yog-Sothoth! Yog-Sothoth!! YOG-SOTHOTH IS HERE!!!!!!!
Illegal war? Bah! Why talk about that now? Look, a bird! Aaaaiiii! Aaaaiiii! N'ppeakkeeth hynd c'rtainnn! Powell sssh'rt timm'rr! Aaaaiiiiii!!!!
Amen and peace be with you.
August 11, 2005
In July 2002, at the first Senate hearing on Iraq, then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Joe Biden pledged his allegiance to Bush's war. Ever since, the blunt-spoken Biden has seized every opportunity to dismiss antiwar critics within his own party, vocally denouncing Bush's handling of the war while doggedly supporting the war effort itself. Biden carried this message into the Kerry campaign as the candidate's closest foreign policy confidant, and a few days after announcing his own intention to run for the presidency in 2008, he gave a major speech at the Brookings Institution in which he criticized rising calls for withdrawal as a "gigantic mistake."
The Democrats' speculative front-runner for '08, Hillary Clinton, has offered similarly hawkish rhetoric. "If we were to artificially set a deadline of some sort, that would be like a green light to the terrorists, and we can't afford to do that," Clinton told CBS in February. Instead, she recently proposed enlarging the Army by 80,000 troops "to respond to threats wherever danger lies." Clinton, a member of the Armed Services Committee, appears more comfortable accommodating the President's Iraq policy than opposing it, and her early and sustained support for the war (and frequent photo-ops with the troops) supposedly reinforces her national security credentials.
This is an amazing article that explains why the presumptive leaders of the Democratic party continue to get it wrong on Iraq in spite of overwhelming opposition to Bush's war in the Democratic Party and 60% opposition in the general public.
The continued high standing of the hawks has been made possible by their enablers in the strategic class--the foreign policy advisers, think-tank specialists and pundits. Their presumed expertise gives the strategic class a unique license to speak for the party on national security issues. This group has always been quietly influential, but since 9/11 it has risen in prominence, egging on and underpinning elected officials, crowding out dissenters within its own ranks and becoming increasingly ideologically monolithic. So far its members remain unchallenged. It's more than a little ironic that the people who got Iraq so wrong continue to tell the Democrats how to get it right.
Ari Berman provides the outline of the Strategic Class Pyramid with familiar names and institutions and then points out the fundamental flaw of parroting the theocon talking points:
Central to the liberal hawks' mission is a challenge to other Democrats that they too must become "national security Democrats," to borrow a phrase coined by Holbrooke. To talk about national security a Democrat must be a national security Democrat, and to be a national security Democrat, a Democrat must enthusiastically support a militarized "war on terror," protracted occupation in Iraq, "muscular" democratization and ever-larger defense budgets. The liberal hawks caricature other Democrats just as Republicans long stereotyped them. The pundits magnify the perception that Democrats are soft on national security, and they influence how consultants view public opinion and develop the message for candidates. In that sense, the bottom of the pyramid is always interacting with the top. It matters little that people like Beinart have no national security experience--as long as the hawks identify themselves as national security Democrats, they're free to play the game.
That's exactly the script played out a couple of weeks ago by Al From, Blueprint editor Peter Ross Range and Will Marshall at the Progressive Policy Institute.
The few rational foreign policy voices in the Democratic Party get drowned out:
"There's an approach which says, 'Let's raise the stakes and call,'" says former Senator Gary Hart, a rare voice of principled opposition in the party today. "That if Republicans want a ten-division Army, let's be for a twelve-division Army. I think that's just nonsense, frankly. It's stupid policy. Trying to get on the other side of the Republicans is folly, both politically and substantively."
If Hart is correct, then why does so much of the Democratic strategic class march in lockstep? There's no simple answer. The insularity of Washington, pressures of careerism, fear of appearing soft and the absence of institutional alternatives all contribute to a limiting of the debate. Bill Clinton's misguided political dictum that the public "would rather have somebody who's strong and wrong than somebody who's weak and right" applies equally to the strategic class.
It looks like the Democratic Party is destined to follow BillandHillary over the Iraq war cliff unless someone or something can wake them up:
A few courageous elected officials are attempting to drum up Congressional support for withdrawal. Thus far, the hawks have drowned them out. Unless and until the strategic class transforms or declines in stature, the Democrats beholden to them will be doomed to repeat their Iraq mistakes.
Focus-group phrase alert! "Cindy Sheehan has a political agenda." Heard everywhere on RW radio today, with obvious RW shills calling in and repeating it on the Ed Shultz show. (Schultz is great. Really great.)
Also, up now at Drudge, the latest deflection smear. It's obviously crafted by professional propagandists - "political motivations" - "promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety" - "The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect." (you'll see it EVERYWHERE soon):
See the update - it's a fabrication!
From Drudge (and read on Limbaugh today):
FAMILY OF FALLEN SOLDIER PLEADS: PLEASE STOP, CINDY!Silently, that's the ticket.
Thu Aug 11 2005 12:56:21 ET
The family of American soldier Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004, has broken its silence and spoken out against his mother Cindy Sheehan's anti-war vigil against George Bush held outside the president's Crawford, Texas ranch.
The following email was received by the DRUDGE REPORT from Casey's aunt and godmother:
Our family has been so distressed by the recent activities of Cindy we are breaking our silence and we have collectively written a statement for release. Feel free to distribute it as you wish. Thanks Ð Cherie
In response to questions regarding the Cindy Sheehan/Crawford Texas issue: Sheehan Family Statement:
The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the the expense of her son's good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect.
Casey Sheehan's grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins.
Update - What family, you might ask? See Does Cherie Quartarolo speak for Casey Sheehan?
... a woman named Cherie Quartarolo has confirmed the details of her statement. We've done some research., and there is a 53-year-old woman with that name living in Kelseyville, Calif. We know of nothing that disproves her claim that she's related to Casey Sheehan.Oh just go there and read the rest. It's just another lie. (Through Atrios)
On the other hand, the powerful search engine we used to confirm her identity also tracks possible relatives, and Casey's parents, Cindy and Pat Sheehan, didn't come up, nor did any other known relatives of Casey Sheehan.
Also, to this date, despite all the extensive press coverage of Casey Sheehan's death and Cindy Sheehan's activism, there is nothing that mentions Quartarolo. ...
But remember, silently is the word.
In Briefing Book Baloney George Will tries to deflect the truth about his role in the 1980 election, blaming Jimmy Carter.
In 1980 the Reagan campaign had an agent in the White House, who stole the breifing book that Carter's staff had prepared to help him prepare for his debate with Ronald Reagan. (Since then I have wanted to write a novel about foreign spies using ideological Republicans to infiltrate the White House, making them think they were doing it for "the cause" but it looks like Iran beat me to it.)
George Will used the book in his role as Carter's stand-in for Reagan's debate preparations. Imagine, a supposed "journalist" who doesn't report what would have been one of the bigest stories of the decade - a campaign infiltrating the White House and stealing documents! Imagine the conflict-of-interest as Will appeared on TV commenting that Reagan won the debate without disclosing his role in the debate preparation! And imagine the ethics of this person ever working again in journalism!
So what does Will write now? That the accusation is that "Reagan had it because this columnist gave it to him." But that was never anyone's accusation! Based on knocking down that he was the thief, he calls the story "a fable." After what he did, he has the audacity to write a column attacking Jimmy Carter!
And the Washington Post lowers the bar even further by printing this.
I want to draw your attention to the BuzzFlash entry on the right, entitled:
"If you are completely perplexed or disinterested by the title of this documentary by Hollywood director Jonathan Demme, reserve your judgment a second. Why? Because this is one of the most fascinating, engaging documentaries about an individual's passion for democracy that we have seen."
What they're talking about is a film entitled, "The Agronomist", a documentary about the late Haitian radio owner and journalist, Jean Dominique, which has now come out on DVD. I saw it on film a while back, and it was one of the most powerful, inspiring, and enraging films I've ever seen. The Newsday quote below sums it up. You MUST see this movie, you will be the better for it.
"A film guaranteed to promote righteous indignation, sadness and guilt -- as it makes the case that the intertwined history of the United States and Haiti is one of almost unutterable shame."-- Newsday
In the Vandalism post, he links to AMERICABlog, which discusses how MSNBC's Tucker Carlson praises France for blowing up a Greenpeace boat, killing one person on board. Apparently blowing up a boat and killing the occupant is not "terrorism."
In the Meanwhile... post, he points out that the FBI says bringing a bomb on a plane is "not a terrorist activity":
Officials have found no apparent connection between Charles Alfred Dreyling Jr. and any terrorist group or activity, said Agent Gary Johnson, an FBI spokesman.Meanwhile, the Bush administration labels animal rights and environmental activists as "terrorists".
A comment by Ian Welsh at this post: Run Everywhere, Build Everywhere:
Stirling once formulated that insiders understand pressures and the outsiders understand consequences. I've found the same thing at work during periods when I've worked closely with management - you understand how they see the world and the constraints and pressures they work under, the inside politics of the corporation and you come to understand why the things that should be done "can't" be done.
And if you get sucked in too far you start to think that the pressures are all that matters and that how something will actually work doesn't matter. Because if you please the right people it doesn't really matter whether what you did is "good" by some sort of independent metric, because there is no independent metric other than what your superiors think.
But if you actually want a well run company, or a well run party, or a well run country or to be winners as a team, then the consequences matter. Of course, you may go to the floor and lose to the internal enemies (and I have done so).
The good guys don't often win, the entrenched interests do. And people who want a political career have to understand that to get paid they need to make sure the right people like them. But that sort of cognitive dissonance is painful, so over time they come to believe the people with power are right.
I participated in a DCCC blogger conference call last night with DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel. DCCC is an important component if we are going to take back the Congress and it is good that the DCCC is active with the blogging community.
In the call Rahm repeated that they feel they have limited resources and must choose carefully which candidates to support. To them this means it is not a good use of resources supporting candidates in districts that have often voted largely Republican in the past. (Also it isn't easy recruiting candidates to run in such districts.) So they are saying that it is just a fact that you won't win the election in such districts so put the resources where you can win.
I understand this concern, but I think it's a strategy that eats the seed corn. It's looking for short-term results but with a long-term cost. As a result of this approach the numbers for next election will be even worse, and so on after that.
I have experienced this before. At the Democratic Party "Campaign Academy" I attended traditional Democratic strategists taught campaign planning as analyzing precincts according to how many "base" voters there are, and figuring out the costs of finding them and getting them to the polls. You add up your available resources and calculate how many calls and door-stops you can make with those resources (there are specific formulas for this) and plan your campaign around that. You ignore precincts that don't have a high enough base turnout, and ignore anyone who is not a regular base voter.
This turnout strategy is based on assuming that there is a Democratic majority in place, and you will win if you can just get enough of them to show up. It was a good strategy because that used to be true, so it worked. (And I think it's the only way to run a localized campaign.)
This is a pragmatic strategy that says you have to accept the "facts on the ground" and work with them. To Washington professionals those facts include a "conventional wisdom" belief that "the public" has "moved to the right" so you have to move to the center, and a bunch of stuff like that. It does NOT take into account HOW the public was moved. And it certainly does not address how to bring the public back.
It's not true anymore that there is a Democratic majority in place, and I think maye the traditionalists don't realize that - or don't know any other way to operate. To my mind this is similar to the AFL-CIO split, where the AFL-CIO wants to keep working to get a shrinking membership to the polls, and do lobbying, while SEIU and others want to put the resources into growing the membership again.
That's where I'm at on this. To me this is about accepting the facts on the ground vs changing the facts on the ground. Getting out the base vs growing the base. If you put resources into districts that you might not win, you are growing the base. You are informing the local electorate. You are changing minds. You are laying the groundwork for winning that district the next time, or the time after that.
I agree with everything Bob Brigham writes at Swing State Project about the call:
Here's what was missing. Had the DCCC had a call with bloggers two years ago, the exact same conversation would have occurred. "The same, just better" is not a valid slogan.
I'm holding out hope for Emanuel. I'm waiting to be inspired. But nothing leads me to believe that the DCCC realizes the importance of investing early and running full campaigns. Everything still seems based on the last two weeks and 30 second ads.
But that isn't what Democrats need as a Party, especially in congressional races. We need to talk to everyone. Voters deserve a choice. Let's involve all of America when we reform the Culture of Corruption. Technology has circumvented geographic distance, people have free cell phone evenings and IM and email. People talk and we need them talking about the Culture of Corruption – everywhere.
Corrupt Congressmen have been known to live outside of swing districts. Let's put everyone on notice, it is time to do the possible instead of just better than before.
Howard Dean's 50/435 strategy is a longer-term strategy of working everywhere to educate and change people's minds. It might take more election cycles, but it is a strategy for growth. It understands and leverages the concept of an involved netroots.
Update - DCCC thinks I got it wrong, and Jesse e-mailed "Rahm definitely did not say that this meant leaving traditionally Republican seats out of the equation." My grammar was bad, I did not mean it to sound like that was a quote.
The M$M has been kicking around the self congratulatory idea that journalism has improved over the last 100 years. Even ignoring the White House press corps, which no one has any respect for, especially the White House, signs of progress are are largely illusory.
The clarion call of Yellow Journalism is Remember the Maine!:
As one of the few sources of public information, newspapers had reached unprecedented influence and importance. Journalistic giants, such as Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer of the World, viciously competed for the reader's attention. They were determined to reach a daily circulation of a million people, and they didn't mind fabricating stories in order to reach their goal.
A contemporary expression in journalism is Don't get it right, just get it written. Deadlines have always been more important than accuracy. The only improvements in journalism have been technological. The M$M can now lie far more effectively and spread their yellow journalism far more widely.
How is Judy Miller's WMD reporting for the N.Y. Times any different from the Hearst newspaper's manufactured story of The Maine? Is there any difference between Rupert Murdoch and William Randolph Hearst? As far as I can tell, judging by the huge sums paid to journalism "stars", the only difference might be that the M$M has an even more inflated opinion of itself that it did 100 years ago.
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. She is camping out outside of Bush's vacation ranch in Crawford, Texas, asking to talk to him, to explain why we are in Iraq. People from around the country are spontaneously joining her.
Shakespeare's Sister has a roundup of blogs writing about Cindy Sheehan here. Go take a look.
There was a blogger conference call with Cindy Sheehan yesterday, and you can listen to a recording of it here.
Please visit these websites -- and tell others. If you can join Cindy in Crawford that would be a tremendous statement.
Update - At 10:30 CDT today there was a press conference with seven other mothers of fallen soldiers who have joined Cindy in Crawford "to pressure President Bush to meet with them and explain his justification for the war." From the press release,
Today in Crawford, TX, more military families joined Cindy Sheehan, mother of a soldier who died in Iraq, to demand President Bush meet with them and explain why their sons died. All the families have sons, daughters or husbands who have died in the war or are on scheduled duty. Two principal architects of the war, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, also arrived in Crawford today to meet with the President.
“All I want is for President Bush to take one hour out of his vacation and meet with me before another mother’s son dies in Iraq,” Cindy Sheehan, mother of the late Private Casey Sheehan who has been holding a vigil outside the President’s ranch in Crawford for five days. “You don’t use our country’s precious sons and daughters unless it’s absolutely necessary to defend America. Mr. President, it is time to level with the American people: why did we go to war, why have so many died, and when are they coming home?”
While Cindy’s vigil began alone, more families are arriving every day to demand answers. The expanding group currently includes thirteen mothers, seven of whom had sons killed in Iraq.
“The President says our loved ones died for a noble cause but that’s not good enough,” said Jean Prewitt of Birmingham, AL, who lost her son, Private Kelly Prewitt, in the first weeks of the war. “America is less safe now than before we attacked Iraq. President Bush has only fueled the hatred of extremists,” she continued.
Celeste Zappala, of Pennsylvania, who lost her son in Iraq also recently arrived in Crawford and said “When we buried my son, I vowed to him I would tell the truth, this war is a betrayal of our military and of the democracy they seek to protect. I am here to uphold the honor and memory of my son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker and insist that we find accountability for this conflict and bring the troops home now.
“We made the ultimate sacrifice. All we want is a meeting with him,” said Sheehan.
August 10, 2005
Fundamentalist Christians Abuse "Bible As Literature" Curricula to Propagandize Public School Students
[I found out about this, because the Nixa R-2 school district (which is near my mother's home town) is considering adopting the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) "curriculum".
You can read the Texas Freedom Network's report, or an executive summary, on their Bible Curriculum page. The site has a link to a petition/endorsement form for academic religious scholars - if you know someone in this field, encourage them to read the report and sign on.
The NCBCPS Board of Directors includes the Chief Counsel for the American Family Association Center for Law and Policy, and an attorney from the Alliance Defense Fund (both ultra-conservative "Christian" legal foundations). There are some familiar (and scary) names on their advisory board, too: Dr. D. James Kennedy, "head of Coral Ridge Ministries and the Dominionists", and Howard Phillips (the Constitution Party candidate for President in 1992/1996/2000), and Dr. Marshall Foster head of the Mayflower Institute (see below).
The mission of the Mayflower Institute is to proclaim the untold story of America's history, to prepare individuals and families to defend their Judeo-Christian heritage in all spheres of culture, and to inspire a new generation to rise up and restore America to "One Nation Under God".
According to the NCBCPS web site, the "curriculum" these culture war fanatics are pushing is being taught in 312 school districts across the nation (including in California?!? where?!?), and "175,000 students have already taken our course."
TFN and Clergy Call on Education Officials to Warn Parents, Public Schools about Inappropriate Bible Curriculum
August 1, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUSTIN – The Texas Freedom Network and an interfaith group of clergy today called on education officials to alert parents and public schools about an error-filled, sectarian Bible curriculum being aggressively marketed across the country.
“This curriculum is simply an attempt to use public schools to interfere with the freedom of families to practice their own faiths and pass on their own religious values to their children,” said TFN President Kathy Miller. “The curriculum’s supporters are demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of what religious freedom really means.”
Miller announced the release of The Bible and Public Schools: Report on the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, a report that examines the Bible study class. Authored for the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund by Dr. Mark Chancey of Southern Methodist University, the report can be found at www.tfn.org (or by clicking here). TFN also released copies of letters to the U.S. secretary of education and the Texas education commissioner about the Bible curriculum and report. TFN is also sending letters about the curriculum to every school district in Texas.
Dr. Chancey, a professor of biblical studies in the Department of Religious Studies at SMU, said the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) course is inappropriate for use in any public school classroom.
“This curriculum on the whole is a sectarian document,” Dr. Chancey said. “It attempts to persuade students to adopt views that are held primarily within certain conservative Protestant circles but not among most Roman Catholics, other Christians, and Jews, and certainly not within the scholarly community.”
The North Carolina-based NCBCPS claims that 1,000 high schools in 37 states – including 52 school districts in Texas – use its curriculum, The Bible in History and Literature. The group has not released a list of those schools, but school districts in Odessa (West Texas) and Grand Prairie (North Texas) have recently considered the curriculum.
Dr. Chancey’s in-depth analysis of the NCBCPS curriculum documents numerous errors, examples of shoddy research and inappropriate use of outside sources throughout the course materials. For example, about a third of the curriculum’s pages appear to be material copied directly from sources with minimal or no rewording.
“It would be unreasonable to expect teachers without advanced training in biblical studies to recognize all of these flaws, but it’s not unreasonable to expect a good curriculum to be free of them,” Dr. Chancey said. “This curriculum fails that test miserably.”
Clergy from various faiths also expressed concerns about the curriculum.
“I’m all for teaching kids about the Bible. We do it in our church every Sunday,” said Rev. Ragan Courtney of The Sanctuary, a Baptist congregation in Austin. “But this curriculum is disrespectful to families who do not share a specific brand of Christian faith. No public school student should have to have a particular religious belief forced upon them.”
Here's a couple of bullet points from the TFN fact sheet on NCBCPS (available on their site):
* The NCBCPS Board of Directors and the group’s Advisory Board include many prominent religious-right figures, including Mr. Steven Crampton, chief counsel for American Family Association’s Center for Law and Policy; Mr. Mike Johnson, an attorney for Alliance Defense Fund; Dr. D. James Kennedy, head of Coral Ridge Ministries and the Dominionists; David Barton, head of WallBuilders and a Republican operative on the 2004 Bush/Cheney reelection team; and Mr. Howard Phillips of the Conservative Caucus.
* The NCBCPS has been endorsed by such religious-right organizations as the Christian Coalition, American Family Association Center For Law and Policy, American Center For Law and Justice, Liberty Counsel, Center For Reclaiming America, N.C. Family Policy Council, Louisiana Family Forum, Southern Baptist Convention, Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America, National Association of Christian Educators/Citizens for Excellence in Education, Family Research Council and Liberty Legal Institute.
The NCBCPS dismisses this as an attack by a "radical humanist" organization, "a small group of far left, anti-religion extremists" with a "radical agenda", and says, "bring it on" with the lawsuits. I hope someone takes them up on that offer.
Iraqi Unions Defy Assassinations and Occupation - David Bacon - truthout | perspective
There are a lot of reasons why workers and unions might hate the occupation. Iraqi unemployment, according to the economics faculty of Baghdad University, has been at 70 percent since the occupation started. Among US occupation czar Paul Bremer's neoliberal orders was number 30, issued in September of 2003 and still in force. It lowered the base wage in public enterprises, where most Iraqis work, to $35/month, and ended subsidies for food and housing. Most of all, workers hate Law 150, issued by Saddam Hussein in 1987, which prohibited unions and collective bargaining in the public sector. Bremer chose to continue enforcing this measure, and bound the transitional government of Allawi to do the same. Bremer backed it up by issuing Public Order 1, banning even advocacy leading to civil disorder, and arrested IFTU leaders, expelling them from their Baghdad offices.
... a full blown overview of the state of the labor movement in Iraq. Lots of interesting stuff, including this tidbit: "a higher percentage of factories in Iraq have worker-based organizing committees and fledgling unions than do factories in the US".
Chris Bowers posted a leading edge study of the political blogospher that includes a comparison of the conservative and progressive blogs in terms of site visits, tactics and advantages.
Check it out. The Emergence of the Progressive Blogosphere
The press is actually starting to report the news.
Regular readers know that "The Party" is my term for the "conservative movement" that now controls the Republican Party, and its tentacles of propaganda and control: its network of PR think tanks, Fox News, Limbaugh and most of talk-radio; growing control of the judicial system through secretive societies like the Federalist Society; the infiltration of churches, etc.
I use it the way we used to talk about the old Soviet Communist Party and how it controlled the government and every aspect of life and thought in the old Soviet Union.
The post below, Right-Wing Think Tanks Really Adjuncts to the Republican Party, refers to a newspaper story that quotes Rob Levine of Cursor.org.
Cursor runs a research and information site, Cursor's Media Transparency, the money behind the conservative media. Media Transparency is one of the most valuable resources available to those of us who track the "conservative movement's" operations. They do the research to track who is funding the network of PR organizations that operates as an adjunct of The Party, and that cranks out the incessant propaganda promoting The Party and its candidates and issues.
Media Transparency is a key resource for learning what is happening to us and to our country. You should visit the site often. You should learn to use their search engine to look up organizations and individuals to see fi they are funded operatives of The Party.
What I am getting at here is that Cursor and Media Transparency deserve your support. Here is where you can contribute to their effort. Help keep them going.
In Minnesota think tank goes to college the Minneapolis Star Tribune takes a look at a local right-wing "think tank," the Center of the American Experiment (CAE). According to the article CAE is launching an attack on academia, saying it is "leftist."
One of the subjects of the story is the CAE's close ties to the Republican Party, even though the think tank is a "501(c)(3)" organization which means donations are tax-deductible and the organization must be strictly non-partisan.
Like many of the center's leaders and writers in recent years, Meeks is steeped in Republican politics. Her husband, Jack, was until recently the state's representative on the Republican National Committee. The center's new management team recently hired as its communications director Randy Wanke, a savvy operative who did the same job for the Minnesota Republican Party.According to the law, any affiliation with The Party is illegal. But who would prosecute? Who would deny them their tax-deductible status? The Republican Justice Department? Republican-operative judges?
Almost all its directors and advisers are Republicans, and three of the last four state GOP chairmen have been deeply involved in the center.
In reality - just like the Heritage Foundation and the rest of the Right's network of PR organizations - the Center of the American Experiment illegally operates as an adjunct to The Party. There is no line between The Party and these organizations.
Cross-posted from MyDD, Cindy's Louisiana Lawyers Head West! by goplies. There wasn't a peep about Cindy in the L.A. Times this morning. Here's what's going on:
Well, we will be heading out tomorrow afternoon on the twelve hour drive to Crawford, Texas to support our friend and client, Cindy Sheehan, and the other American patriots at Camp Casey. Jim Herrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project has assumed the role of lead counsel. We hope to help him if needed and to try to stay the hell out of his way if we're not.
We've been very busy...loading camping equipment into the car, burning CDs for the drive, cooking food to take to the troops, packing in bottled water, tarps, folding chairs, peace flags, protest banners, 911 signs, video cameras, computers, digital cameras, office supplies, cell phones, cat food, Support Cindy Sheehan buttons, PEACE TRAIN t-shirts, more water, pocket copies of the US Constitution (to give to the police), back packs, ice chests, sleeping bags, umbrellas, lawyer clothes, extra eye glasses, LAN bumper stickers, PEACE TRAIN flyers, more water, sun screen, bug juice, flashlights, candles, and some more water.
We are traveling with Andrea Garland of Get Your Act On! and Ward Reilly of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Riding shotgun will be our seven year old daughter and her new kitten, "Smudge". Please join us in Crawford if you can.
If you can't, keep the pressure on the media and organize solidarity events in your home town.
Annie & Buddy Spell
The revolution is being blogged.
The revolution will not be televised, but it will be blogged. In a follow up to his Hotline article on progressive bloggers, Ron Brownstein covers some of the same turf in his L.A. Times column, Campaign Battlefield May Grow: Liberals activists want Democrats to storm congressional races, even on GOP's turf.
Last year, Lois Herr, a former corporate executive, entered the race against Pitts just before the filing deadline. She drew one-third of the vote.
But this year, Herr is seeking a rematch, and her uphill bid against Pitts could mark a crucial test for liberal activists pressuring Democrats to radically revise their strategy for recapturing the House of Representatives.
An array of liberal Internet activists is urging Democrats to vastly expand the 2006 congressional battlefield by recruiting and funding challengers in dozens of districts that have been virtually conceded to the GOP, like the one represented by Pitts.
Imagine that! Bloggers actually want the Democratic Party to take Howard Dean's 50 state strategy seriously.
Brownstein is actually covering the blogosphere:
Those calls are drawing new energy from Democrat Paul Hackett's narrow defeat this month in a special election in an Ohio district where Republicans usually romp. Hackett's showing "proved that you could build the party if you pay attention to every race," said Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of the popular liberal website the Daily Kos.
The DCCC braintrust is not quite as ossified as the DLC, but it's close:
Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has responded to the pressure from liberal activists by saying he intends next year to fund Democratic challengers for 50 Republican-held seats, about double the number the campaign committee backed in 2004.
But the committee, and many leading Democratic strategists, say that funding a wider circle of challengers in heavily Republican areas would divert money better spent on districts more closely balanced between the parties.
Mark Gersh, a longtime strategist for Democrats, said the liberal websites and blogs were right that the party needed to expand the battlefield for House seats.
"But to expand it into districts where [Democrats] have no chance of winning is absolutely crazy," he said.
The DCCC doesn't get it. What's crazy is giving hundreds of millions of dollars to good buddies of Bob Schrum and Al From for expensive campaign commercials. I'm still suspicious of The New Democrat Network, if for no other reason than the fact that the DLC still has a link to them on their website, but Simon Rosenberg gets it:
The dispute, complete with incendiary attacks on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from some liberal websites, marks the latest disagreement between the Democratic political hierarchy and a left-leaning Internet activist base demanding a more aggressive strategy to regain power.
"The challenge the bloggers are laying on the table is to not concede and not accept becoming a minority party," said Simon Rosenberg, president of NDN, a centrist Democratic group that has befriended Internet activists. "Their argument is correct. If we really want to win in 2006 and 2008, we have to expand the playing field."
Of course, everybody except the DCCC and the DLC is crazy:
In an article last week, Jerome Armstrong, co-founder of the popular liberal website MyDD.com, called on Democrats to run "Hackett-like operations" against every Republican House member.
But Gersh argued that it would be a mistake to build a strategy around the Ohio example, because special elections often produced surprising results that didn't necessarily offer clues about the general election to follow.
Diverting money to long-shot contests is "what the Republicans would want to see," Gersh said. "This kind of craziness would exactly play into Republican hands."
Here's a round-up of some relevant articles:
DCCC: Leave No District Behind, by Tim Tagaris at Swing State Project.
DCCC: How Slow Can You Go?, by Bob Brigham at Swing State Project.
More Hackett Jobs, by Jerome Armstrong at Tom Paine.
DCCC & challenging all 435 seats in 2006, by Jerome Armstrong at MyDD.
An introductory effort at two way communication with the blogosphere from the DCCC The DCCC, the Blogosphere, and Progressive Movements: A Sincere Thanks and Challenge, posted by John Lapp at MyDD.
A Model for Contesting them All - Blue 7th PAC, by Nathan at MyDD.
Those are just some of the highlights in an important dialogue between the Democratic Party and the blogosphere. Let the conversation continue . . .
August 9, 2005
Bob Brigham, at Swing State Project: Charlie Cook Waits by his TV for The Revolution,
Democrats need to stop judging success on Election Day. We need to start judging success each and every day. This simple mindset change is critical in a post-broadcast environment. Out west, one question you hear in HQ is, "We winning?" Democrats need some West Coast Offense because the right investments now can catapult a tidal cycle. We need to stop The Fear from influencing decision making and start focusing on winning every single day in every district in every state. If we can make this simple mindset change before it is forced upon us, then we will win more elections. Stop compromising, play hard and start winning.
[. . .] When the DCCC tells new candidates to go raise $100K if they want to talk, they are breeding fundraisers, not political leaders.
[. . .] If you are the Democratic nominee for the United States Congress, you deserve to have a campaign. It isn't about buying TV in every race, it is about leaving no district behind.
[. . .] If we focus on winning every day, then we will never have to worry about coming in late. If we stop worrying about the 30 second ad, we can build scalable models that will result in more ads. If we build a nationwide, post-broadcast congressional communications network, then we can do more than talk at people on TV, we could connect.
I'll keep saying it. To understand what is happening to the country you have to listen to Rush Limbaugh, and visit sites like Free Republic and the right-wing blogs. This stuff is the mainstream of The Party now. Limbaugh is so mainstream that his show features things like interviews with the Vice President of the United States.
Those who have never listened to Limbaugh might be surprised at just how repugnant his comments are. But will any reporter ask Cheney whether he agrees with the things Limbaugh says, or whether he believes it is appropriate for the vice president to associate with a character who trafficks in such hateful rhetoric?What is happening to us is not "the pendulum" swinging. These people are intentionally dividing the country. The only historical precendent is the period leading up to the Civil War.
Chances are the answer is no.
August 8, 2005
Kevin Drum wrote something interesting today:
...the Republican leadership often tries to actively minimize the number of Democratic votes their bills get. It's more than simply not caring about Democratic votes. If a bill is in danger of getting bipartisan support, they'll often lard it up with superfluous junk — random union bashing is a favorite — specifically designed to force Democrats to vote against it. Why? Because it promotes Republican solidarity, solidifies Democrats' reputation as obstructionists, keeps votes close so that their supporters remain in a constant checkbook-ready state of panic, and convinces business interests that Democrats hate them. Cases in point include the Homeland Security bill, the Medicare bill, and CAFTA.Intentional dividing the country.
Marginal Revolution points out that,
Your chance of dying from avian flu is much greater than your chance of dying from terrorism. Yet the Bush Administration is still doing virtually nothing.Actualy, so far there is a 50% death rate in people who catch this from handling birds. If this virus mutates an ability to pass from human to human it is estimated that 50% of the planet will be infected within a year. You do the math.
The post links to the blog Avian Flu - What we need to know.
(Link from Daou Report.)
Note the new "Sneak Peek" ad on the right.
From Sunday's Washington Post: Rich Liberals Vow to Fund Think Tanks - Aim Is to Compete With Conservatives,
At least 80 wealthy liberals have pledged to contribute $1 million or more apiece to fund a network of think tanks and advocacy groups to compete with the potent conservative infrastructure built up over the past three decades.
[. . .] The goal of the alliance, according to organizers, is to foster the growth of liberal or left-leaning institutions equipped to take on prominent think tanks on the right, including the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute, as well as such training centers as the Leadership Institute and the Young America's Foundation.
[. . .] Liberal groups have been disproportionately dependent on one-year foundation grants for specific projects, Stein said, while the money flowing to conservative groups has often involved donors' long-term commitments with no strings attached. Stein noted that of 200 major conservative donors, about half sit on the boards of the think tanks they give to, increasing the strength of their commitment.
The Right spends between $400-500 million every year in just the think thank, training, and legal advocacy groups in its machine. That number doesn't even include their network of media outlets.Suburban Guerrilla:
$200 million over four years doesn't seem like a lot comparatively, and it technically isn't. But their machine was built for 20th century politics. Ours doesn't have to be as big and expensive as theirs. And we can craft ours to better suit the digital political warscape we face in the years ahead.
I wonder if any of this money trickles down to bloggers – after all, we provide a lot of bang for the buck.Democratic Veteran:
On a more positive note, it looks like some Democrats are finally going to get off their checkbooks and begin to fund some progressive advoacacy organizations. Gee, the New American Fascists have had a pretty exclusive playing field for quite a number of years funded by the Scaifes, Olins and others...it's nice to see that the money is going to be forthcoming for some non-lying advocacy...'bout time.John at AMERICAblog writes:
Now the "advocacy" groups just need to remember that the objective is not to save the spotted owl, but to retake the reins of government to help protect all the owls in the forest, sensibly and with a "plan". I think that any efforts need to start with drilling home the lying, cheating and shredding of the Constitution that the 1600 Crew and their allies has been doing and how that's about as un-American as you can get (especially the Shredding the Constitution part), and still retain citizenship in the US of A.
Good.Avedon at Sideshow:
Communication strategies, yes indeed, but "new ideas"? What new ideas could they mean?Lean Left:
And where's Liberal TV? (And no, it's not Al Gore's new thing, which is something else.) I think people need to see what an actual liberal media would really look like.
That is not much compared to the Right’s yearly expenditures, but it is a move in the right direction. The fact that the commitments extend for five years are also a good sign. it suggest the people involved understand the magnitude of the task. The right wing has a message machine the likes of which the Left cannot even approach, and countering that is not the work of a few lazy summer afternoons. These people seem to understand that.
Chris Bowers at MyDD:
I like this. I like this a lot. I feel like we are finally starting to get it. While the right will still massively out-fund us even when this gets off the ground, the truth and 21st century strategies will allow us to do more with less.Blogenlust:
The idea that Democrats could expect to win by throwing a lot of money into an election without an underlying infrastructure and strategy was probably a little naive. Afterall, it took the Right a generation to get to where they are today, and whether it will take the Left that long to get back on track, I'm not sure. I'm sure, though, that this is the type of long-term strategic thinking and planning that can only help the party and its policies.
[. . .] However, it's important to note that we can't afford to wait for a generation of progressive talking heads and strategists to grow up within the infrastructure and then be ready to contribute to this strategy. Ideally, we would need something in place that could be effective by 2008, which means that media strategy and training needs to be a primary focus of the Democracy Alliance and its future offspring. Fortunately, from what I'm reading, this seems to be understood.
The energy bill contained a repeal of the Public Utility Holding Act. The prices you pay for energy is now controlled by Enron wannabees and there is nothing you can do about it. From the L.A. Times, Repeal of Utility Law Opens Door for Mergers: Supporters expect more money to flood the industry. Critics fear regulatory uncertainty.
When Enron Corp. was collapsing in 2001, it sucked in every dollar it could find from its subsidiaries to fend off its creditors. One of its pipeline companies borrowed $1 billion, using its pipes as collateral.
But one subsidiary escaped: Portland General Electric, Oregon's biggest public utility, which Enron had bought in 1997.
State regulators insisted that the utility's revenue remain in Oregon. In U.S. Bankruptcy Court, they made sure that creditors did not lay claim to the company and sell it. Earlier this year, they repelled an attempt by Texas buyout specialists to purchase the utility with borrowed money, saying the sale could cause rate increases.
What enabled the regulators to shield Portland General Electric from the Enron debacle was the Public Utility Holding Company Act, a New Deal-era federal law requiring companies that owned electric utilities either to incorporate in the state where they sell power or to accept tight regulation by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. The law also forced almost every company that owned an electric utility to sell off its unrelated subsidiaries — keeping oil companies, for example, out of the utility business.
But after more than 20 years of agitation from industry financiers and free-market advocates, the 1935 law will be repealed when President Bush signs the energy bill, which he is expected to do Monday at a ceremony in Albuquerque.
State regulators will soon be at the mercy of corporate robber barrons. They will be manipulating the energy market and ripping off the citizens of every state for billions of dollars. Enron and the California energy crisis was just a dry run. The final obstacle has been removed.
Wall Street is running rampant. Of course they claim that corporate consolidation of the energy market is good for the consumer:
Wall Street analysts and energy industry observers expect the repeal to accelerate the industry's consolidation, with more utilities being bought by national — and even foreign — electricity companies and by oil, construction and service companies.
Indeed, three industry deals that are already underway, involving the exchange of more than $30 billion in cash and stock, were triggered by the anticipated elimination of the holding company act, according to stock analysts.
Duke Energy Corp. is buying Cinergy Corp. and Exelon Corp. is acquiring Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., in both cases creating power companies that serve customers far from the corporate headquarters.
In addition, Warren E. Buffett's MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. has offered $5.1 billion in cash for PacifiCorp, an Oregon company that provides electricity to the very northern reaches of California along with parts of five other Western states. Jonathan Weisgall, vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs at MidAmerican, said the change would allow his company to bring billions of dollars of investment capital to PacifiCorp.
Deals like these, and the possibility of many more, are one reason that utility company stocks have rocketed this year, adding to their sharp gains in 2003 and 2004.
The Dow Jones utility stock index, which tracks 15 major issues, is up 18.2% year to date, and last week hit its highest level since 2000.
The State PUCs and FERC will be just as outgunned and outmanned as they were during the California energy crisis:
The full value of utilities now available to be bought and sold is estimated at about $1 trillion — and as takeovers and mergers create larger companies, the change in the law will diminish federal oversight. The SEC will no longer regulate utilities, and its most powerful rules will be lifted.
It's for our own good, don't you know:
Supporters of repeal say the change will bring new money into the industry, enabling it to build cleaner generating plants and additional power lines to stabilize the power grid.
Not everybody is convinced:
Bob Finkelstein, executive director of the Utility Reform Project, a San Francisco advocacy group, is unimpressed by such claims.
"The promises of life being better under the new regime are exactly the promises we got under deregulation" of California's energy industry, Finkelstein said.
He and other consumer advocates warn that the end of the holding company act could turn utilities into speculative investments, as they were before 1935. They fear that an oil company or a manufacturer of nuclear turbines, for example, that buys a utility would have an incentive to sell its type of energy to captive consumers, regardless of cost.
Sue Kelly, chief counsel for the American Public Power Assn., a trade association for more than 2,000 community-owned nonprofit electric utilities, has another worry.
"I am concerned about a Carl Icahn-type person coming in and stripping a company and flipping it," Kelly said, referring to the corporate raider who came to prominence in the 1980s.
"The potential is there for all types of financial transactions, if not shenanigans, that we have not seen for 70 years," she said.
We are so screwed:
Under the utility company act, the SEC had broad powers over publicly traded utilities and could turn down mergers. Under the new law, several different entities — state public utilities commissions, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and, for utilities that own nuclear generators, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — will take over regulatory duties, and they will have much less authority than the SEC.
Consumer advocates say state regulators in particular aren't necessarily prepared for the legal changes ahead. For the first time, state public utilities commissions will have to regulate utility mergers and track internal cash flows in what promise to be interstate corporations.
Bend over and grab your ankles. There's not a damn thing anyone can do about it anymore.
August 7, 2005
It apppears that the L.A. Times has put together an informative blog. The general discussion on their blog is incredibly lame, but they have a running series of daily round-ups of opinions from newspapers and bloggers.
Jonathan Turley wrote an editorial, The Faith of John Roberts highlighting and questioning Roberts' statement that he would have to recuse himself if a case came up that violated the teachings of the Catholic Church:
Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself.
It was the first unscripted answer in the most carefully scripted nomination in history. It was also the wrong answer. In taking office, a justice takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States. A judge's personal religious views should have no role in the interpretation of the laws. (To his credit, Roberts did not say that his faith would control in such a case).
I've got a real problem having four Catholics on the Supreme Court. I hope Democratic Senators have the moral courage to raise this question, but I doubt it.
The L.A. Times has an interesting webpage up with a whole series of comments by notable law professors from last week. It took quite a while for my first post to clear their approval process, but the forum appears to be pretty wide open. It looks to me like the L.A. Times had some pretty naive ideas about how easy it would be to attract comments to their blog.
Stop by A Moot Point and let them know how stupid their opinions are.
I swear this is for real. The wingnuts are blaming the Clintons for the leak of a CIA agent's identity. THE PLAMEGATE HOAX - What Did Hillary Know and When Did She Know It?. (Don't forget to read the comments!)
OF COURSE! (Don't forget that the lack of any evidence whatsoever of Clinton wrongdoing was absolute proof of a massive cover-up.)
(Through Daou Report's Rove Scandal page.)
A U.S. grand jury in Guam opened an investigation of controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff more than two years ago, but President Bush removed the supervising federal prosecutor and the inquiry ended soon after.
The previously undisclosed Guam inquiry is separate from a federal grand jury in Washington that is investigating allegations that Abramoff bilked Indian tribes out of millions of dollars.
August 6, 2005
Here's the deal. "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff is refusing to give jailed NY Times reporter Judy Miller a personal waiver to disclose conversations she had with him. And President Bush is refusing to direct Libby to do so.
So it (of course) comes down to Bush blocking the probe.
Every blogger and blog reader should be on the streets demanding that Bush stop blocking this probe. Someone leaked the identity of a CIA operative who was working to keep terrorists from getting their hands on nukes. The leak rolled up her operation, endangered her life, risked the lives of every contact she had, and exposed her cover company, rolling up every agent and operation taking place under that company's cover.
This leak could yet mean an American city goes up in smoke.
And Bush is blocking the probe. If you're not just fucking hopping mad angry shouting about this ... you should be.
Update - Digby is on it, too:
This is bullshit. The white house cannot get away with saying they are cooperating with the prosecutor by not talking --- and then not require the staff to fully cooperate with the prosecutor.
U.S (217) & "Coalition" (39) Military Folk Killed in Afghanistan, 511 Wounded In Action (source: CNN/Pentagon)
U.S (1,825) & "Coalition" (192) Military Folk Killed in Iraq, 13,769 Wounded In Action (source: CNN/Pentagon)
... just passed up another "magic figure", folks. ... and how about that last number, 14,000+ wounded? Is anyone going to blink when the counter ticks over to 20,000? 30,000? 50,000? At least the latest news indicates that we're on the way to persuading NATO to take over in Afghanistan (although we'll still be there in force, and probably still be spending a couple $ billion a month).
August 5, 2005
[Life is short, you can't respond to everything, but the story below is so utterly horrific (there's a picture of her right after she was rescued that will make you violently ill) and what this woman has had to go through so manifestly unjust (it took a hunger strike to get a trial date set), that I simply had to respond.
If you want an antidote to news coverage of "all pretty white women, all the time", you could hardly pick a better counter-story: and here, they know who the bastard is - they just won't prosecute him! The blogosphere could make a huge difference in this case -- however, a Google search on "Demand Justice For Linda" (and a similar search dropping "Demand" and adding "venezuela") reveal that less than a dozen blogs (mostly those of women/feminists) have picked up on this story. This needs to change!
If you're a blogger, and you care about justice for women, link to their site, and Demand justice for Linda, and for all victims of violence against women. -Thomas]
Four years ago when Venezuelan police rescued 18-year-old Linda from her kidnapper's apartment, she was bruised and cut inside and out and severely malnourished. One nipple had been cut off, her earlobe destroyed, her lip cut off, her skull fractured, and her entire body was covered with cigarette burns.
Despite the fact that Linda's attacker, Luis Carrera Almoina had kept her prisoner for four months while he repeatedly raped and brutally tortured her, Linda's case was passed over by the Venezuelan judicial system 29 times and a total of 59 judges declined to prosecute on her behalf!
When she finally got to coury (after three years of struggle, and a hunger strike on the courthouse steps):
...the judge let the man who'd raped and tortured Linda off scot-free, citing a "lack of evidence." Worse yet, the judge had the gall to order an investigation into Linda on the alleged grounds that she had been part of a prostitution ring.
The appeals court has annulled the verdict (thankfully), but she's still waiting for a new trial date. If you're not moved, and disgusted, and enraged by what has happened to this woman, I gotta wonder if you're human.
Click here to demand justice for Linda, and for all victims of violence against women. It is the absolute least any of us can do.
It appears that this is getting a lot more play in blogs over the last couple of days -- probably as a result of the IPPA/WHR mailing I saw. So, my guess is that I was premature in thinking the blogosphere had totally missed the boat.
I can't post comments, I get "precondition evaluated to false", so something's borked. Therefore, this update, to satisfy folks wondering whether this is a psychops plant:
Here's where the sponsoring org stands: they oppose CAFTA, they oppose the "Gag Rule", they oppose the Bush Administration's interference in HIV/AIDS prevention efforts (this is probably how I got on their email list - the Bush Administration's anti-science ideological idiocy is undermining HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in Brazil and elsewhere by forcing funding recipients to condemn sex workers [thus alienating prostitutes, who are a major target of these outreach programs] - see letter to the editor by them on the subject in USA Today: http://www.mrss.com/clients/USA-Today-June-17-2005-Prostitution-OpEd.pdf).
"The International Planned Parenthood Federation, Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) and its 46 member associations throughout the Americas are committed to promoting the right of women and men to decide freely the number and spacing of their children and the right to the highest possible level of sexual and reproductive health."
This isn't some lameass faked out pseudo front group organized by the CIA.
Or go look at the "indigenous" reporting: EVERYONE in the country is pissed off (especially the women, who are up in arms about this -- and it is the women bloggers in the U.S. who have picked up on this most emphatically)... this isn't an attempt to smear Chavez, this is the equivalent of that [bleeped] up case in Italy where the judge said the woman couldn't be raped because her jeans were too tight (only far more horrific)... only worse, it appears, because everyone seriously believes that the judge was bribed and pressured into the ruling, by the attacker's wealthy/influential father.
As soon as the incredible decision was known, a chain of reactions occurred in several sectors of the Venezuelan society. Women, through their organizations, demanded from the Supreme Court of Justice, the dismissal of judge Rosa Cadiz, coincident with a similar petition by the Attorney General, the Venezuelan Association of Women Lawyers, political parties and the last one, really unheard of, on October 26, for the first time in almost five years, there was an unanimous vote of government and opposition in the National Assembly, to condemn the sentence and ask for the investigation of the judge. (source: Venezuelan newspaper)
The guy who specializes in blogging about Venezuela for Salon, "The Devil's Excrement", has written about this for a while, and specifically references this campaign as linking back to him:
and he's a Chavista sympathizer.
He says, in the comments to his original post on the subject last October:
"I must say the Government has also reacted with outrage, from the People's Ombudsman to Maduro, to the Prosecutors that are asking the judge be fired."
Finally: look through Technorati - all the older posts are in Spanish. Would the Bush Administration push a PR smear that never reaches the American press?!?
Is this enough background checking folks? This is a real case, with a real victim, who is supported by the entire society (Chavista and otherwise) - outside of the corrupt pool of monied elites Chavez is trying to wrest control of the country from.
Suggest that before folks go all paranoid and think something like this is a psyops manuever, that they do background research themselves... the blogosphere is self-correcting, and so far, I haven't seen any "corrections".
[This release makes an excellent point about the impact of the war at home, and how this is as much a local issue as a national one... $26 billion would have done quite a bit to solve California's budget problems over the past few years, eh? Might've enabled our local school district to keep my kid's elementary school open, for one thing. -Thomas
P.S. The California Democratic Party is pretty good on the war issue as well, calling for immediate withdrawl and pointing out lies, etc.: IRAQ]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
Greens mourn loss of Marine lives in Iraq,
urge cities, counties to also consider loss
of funds that could save lives at home
SACRAMENTO (August 3, 2005) – The Green Party of California today mourned
the loss of another 14 Americans Wednesday, and at least 21 since Tuesday
in the war in Iraq – and said that the cost of war not only takes human
lives in the war zone, but here in California.
Citing statistics that indicate more than $26 billion could have been spent
on human needs in California – many of them life-saving – the GPCA urged
local governments to send a clear message to Congress and the Bush
Administration that the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Iraq.
According to National Priorities.Org – which monitors the cost of the war
using government statistics – California could have used the money spent on
the war to provide healthcare to nearly 11 million Californians, or 16.5
million children, hired 409,000 elementary school teachers or built 153,000
affordable housing units.
In Sacramento Wednesday, a coalition of organizations, including Greens,
veterans and minority representatives, previewed a resolution asking the
City Council to call upon Pres. Bush and Congress to leave Iraq
immediately, end military recruitment on high school and college campuses,
ensure veterans are cared for and reallocate the war expenditures to
provide health care, education and affordable housing for Sacramentans.
Similar resolutions have been introduced and approved, including one in San
Francisco. Other resolutions, including one on the ballot in San Francisco,
also call for an immediate end to military recruiting in high schools,
colleges and universities.
"This war in Iraq has truly become a quagmire, as many predicted. The human
cost of this illegal war touches not only the troops on the ground in Iraq
but all of us here at home," said Pat Driscoll, a GPCA spokesperson and
former congressional candidate.
"When we think of the lives we could save in California by providing health
care and other human services instead of spending it on this ill-conceived
war, then it behooves us to pressure not only Congress, but our local
elected representatives to stand up and say ‘enough is enough,'" Driscoll
Hey folks... registering with TypeKey is not that hard - I did it. As a writer, speaking into a vacuum is kind of discouraging - feedback lets you know that people are reading your work, and reacting to it. Please - register with TypeKey today, and comment on the posts here at STF. If you have any issues with Typekey, or need help registering, feel free to drop me a line about them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Operation Truth. Go visit.
"Operation Truth is America's first and largest nonprofit, non-partisan advocacy organization for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars."Visit their Blogs from the Troops.
And, of course, do your duty and donate.
August 4, 2005
Go help. Go on, do it.
It just keeps getting better and better. From Salon (day pass for 30 second commercial), For Judy Miller, a prison jumpsuit but no award:
As Editor & Publisher reports, the society's First Amendment committee voted narrowly to give Miller the prize to honor her for going to jail to protect her source in the Valerie Plame case. But in an e-mail message this week, ASJA president Jack El-Hai said that the ASJA board has voted unanimously to reject the committee's recommendation. El-Hai cited opposition from the society's membership, "*a feeling that Miller's career, taken as a whole, did not make her the best candidate for the award*" and "divided opinions on the board over whether her recent actions merit the award."A feeling? How about an objective analysis of her recent escapades as a Bush WMD sockpuppet? How was that any different than what Jason Blair did?
I'm not sure what to make of emptywheel's article at The Last Hurrah, but it sure sounds like Judy Miller was perhaps a little too embedded with the leader of the unit she was reporting on when she wrote all of her misleading stories for the NY Times about WMD.
And no fewer than four sources have either e-mailed, called, or, in one case, run up to me on the street to tell me that what I termed Miller's "especially close relationship" with Chief Warrant Officer Richard Gonzales, the leader of the WMD-hunting unit Miller was embedded with during the war, might have been, well, very close indeed.
There is much more to emptywheel's story than meets the eye. I am definitely looking forward to Part II: Next Installment: Judy's sources get weird.
August 3, 2005
Some people aren't happy that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) only contributed about $300,000 to help Democrat Paul Hackett in yesterday's Ohio special Congressional election.
Also, read their blog.
I have been meaning to write something about the Supreme Court's "property rights" decision, Kelo v. New London, in which the court ruled that local governments can seize private property for use in private development. I agree with the basis of the decision, that the needs of communities are important considerations, and sometimes those needs override individual rights. But I think the way it will be applied under our current corrupt system opens the door to serious abuse. In some ways it's the ultimate demonstration of the Right's real agenda: total corporate domination of the people.
But that's not what I wanted to write about. All over the right-wing radio and blogosphere conservatives are up in arms over this decision. They say this is about "big government liberals" taking property away from hard-working homeowners. For a typical example, look at the first comment to this Kevin Drum post on the subject:
Kelo is the ultimate Democrat decision. It allows the government to steal individual's property in order to increase the governments own wealth. It has transformed the vestiges of American Democracy into what the liberals have always wanted: a communist state.Heh.
I want to remind everyone just who the most famous abuser of property seizures happens to be.
From Bush and the Texas Land Grab by Nicholas Kristof, July 16, 2002:
"A copy of the secret agreement among Mr. Bush and the other Rangers owners shows that they intended to make money not just by running a baseball club but also by land speculation.From Notes On A Native Son, Joe Conason, Harpers, Feb., 2002 (oh please, read the whole thing):
For example, one owner found a nice chunk of land and sent a memo suggesting that it "sounds like another condemnation candidate if you want to work the site into your master plan," according to the court documents. Another of the owners' internal memos casts a proprietary gaze on a property and declares: "We plan to condemn this land."
For a group of financiers to go around town admiring properties and deciding which to seize through the government power of condemnation so that they can acquire free land and speculate on it is appalling."
Never before had a municipal authority in Texas been given license to seize the property of a private citizen for the benefit of other private citizens. That is exactly what happened to a recalcitrant Arlington family that refused to sell a 13-acre parcel near the stadium site for half its appraised value. Their land was condemned and handed over to the Rangers.Yes, that's right. Bush got rich through a corrupt arrangement with a city government to seize property and hand it over to the the baseball team he owned - the Texas Rangers.
So when you hear a right-winger complain about Kelo, and government seizures of property, let them know who the worst offender is, and point them to this info.
"This story is still very much alive."
Atrios' site averages 134,000 unique IPs a day (note that several people can be reading from one IP), so we know that 0.697% of these donated through Atrios' page. The entire liberal blogosphere averages much, much higher readership, (DailyKOS alone averages 544,000 unique IPs per day, peaking to over 750,000 on busy days,) but let's pretend that 9,682 total donors amounts to 1%.
That means that 99% of us supposedly informed, active blog readers sat this one out.
Yes, the campaign did receive plenty of money, but I still have a question: Are the 99% of us who sat on the sidelines that much different from the right-wing "chickenhawks" who advocate war but refuse to sign up themselves? One thing those on the right at least DO is contribute money to their cause. Big money. And their businesses also support their movement. They believe it is a duty, a moral obligation to support their beliefs - at least financially.
Many religious people "tithe" 10% of pre-tax income to their churches. That is seriously putting their money where their beliefs are. (And how much of this is finding its way into the "conservative movement" machine?)
I have some ideas on what to do about the problem of Progressives failing to support Progressive organizations, and hope to be writing about it. In the meantime, think about what this means. Think about how it relates to the problems we all face. 59 million people voted for Kerry in 2004. How many of us are ready to donate 10% of our pre-tax income to Progressive organizations, and what would be the effect on our country and the world if we did that?
So, Paul Hackett turned a 75%/25% Red/Blue district into a 52%/48% one, despite somewhat late intervention by the blogosphere, etc. Pretty impressive. Bodes well for 2006.
Here's a thought: maybe having Bush re-elected in 2004 was a GOOD thing. Wait. No. Hold on. Hear me out. Yeesh.
Here's the pitch: while the Presidency is important, in many ways, it is essentially a reactive position, dependent on the Congress for policy implementation. You can replace a President every four years, and control of the office shifts fairly often.
Control of Congress does NOT shift very often. If Hackett's level of success is indicative (setting aside any exceptional aspects), then the six-year itch factor is very much in play, and Republican control of the House (at least), and maybe even the Senate could be threatened. That, folks, would be huge: even potentially enough to compensate for the re-election of Bush. Or not? Comments welcome.
August 2, 2005
I always advise readers to go see or go listen for themselves what's going on on the right. This post and its comments for example.
At Informed Comment.
This is it. So far the only votes reported appear to be write in votes. Chris Bowers is keeping tabs Ohio OH-2.
Jerome put up a diary earlier about OH-02 Expectations.
Stop by and enjoy the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.
Jerome says "Yea, 45% in Hamilton is a good sign for Hackett, by my calculations (admittedly, back of the envelope), Schmidt could expect a 68-32 64-36 margin in the parts of Hamilton Country that are in the Ohio 2nd. So Hackett has a 9% swing. Once again, putting him right in the margin within 5%."
These are some messy results sites. It doesn't seem like anyone is reporting quickly.
Hackett pulling away in Brown County--1,480 (58.45) to 1,048 for Schimdt (41.39). Yesss!!!!
Schimdt strong early in Clermont County. Schimdt 1158-750 (60.60-39.25). Could be a wild night.
Don't ask me why Tom Noe's wife is referred to as Ms. Noe, but apparently Rep. Conyers is going to ask the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel today.
"The facts that have come out indicate a culture of corruption in the Ohio Republican Party," Conyers in a statement to RAW STORY. "An investigation such as this, which is rife with conflicts of interest, begs for the appointment of an independent prosecutor who would be immune from the partisan gamesmanship we have seen so far."
Apparently Ms. Noe has been knee deep in Republican corruption in Ohio right along with Tom "Coingate" Noe:
Bernadette Noe, who served dual roles as chairman for the Lucas County Republican Party and the Lucas County Board of Elections, sent twelve “partisans” into a warehouse on Election Day, according a memo authored by Ohio’s Director of Campaign Finance Richard Weghorst who was present at the time.
The assertion is part of a comprehensive investigation prepared for Ohio Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell regarding reports of irregularities in Lucas County. The report found gross failures on the part of Ms. Noe’s board in preparation for and administration of November’s election.
Isn't that interesting. A Republican investigation turned up voting irregularities. Is it too early to start talking about the Ohio Republican Crime Family?
But perhaps the most striking event directly linked to Ms. Noe was what Weghorst described as “a note-worthy incident relating to security” on the evening of the election.
Weghorst, who was present at a local warehouse where ballots were being tabulated, says in his report that “two groups of partisan volunteers totaling approximately twelve people" arrived, whose "purpose for being there was not immediately known nor requested."
When the volunteers refused to leave the premises, Weghorst called the police, who then escorted the group away from the warehouse. It later emerged they had come at Ms. Noe's request.
A Diebold employee, Robert Diekmann, was also present at the warehouse that night.
There are additional details of Ms. Noe's role in a no-bid contract for Diebold and other shenanigans. On top of everything else, Ms. Noe is quite accomplished a skimming a little vigorish from the Republican party coffers:
In April, the Toledo Blade reported Ms. Noe acted improperly as chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party in accepting $65,000 in loans for the party from her husband. She is also involved in a scandal surrounding an aide to Ohio governor Bob Taft (R) staying for a reduced rate at her vacation home.
The family values party sure is fond of criminal enterprises. Of course with the Bush Crime Family in the White House, they are just following the example being set by the leader of their party.
I have a question.
President Bush has repeatedly insisted that our invasion of Iraq was not in response to the 9/11 attack. Here are a couple of examples:
“We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th.” September 17, 2003He HAS said that we invaded Iraq because they were preparing to attack us, and members of his administration went so far as to say Iraq was preparing to attack us with nuclear weapons. (He has also said that we attacked Iraq "to bring freedom to the Iraqi people.")
“This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda.” June 17, 2004
My question: Why does the right-wing blogosphere and much of the media continue to repeat that we are in Iraq "because we were attacked" and link the invasion to 9/11 even though the President insists that is not the reason? Why are so many supposedly loyal right-wingers going against the President on that?
What I am getting at is, shouldn't we take advantage of opportunities to remind them (comments at RW blogs, letters to editors, talk-show call-ins, etc.) that the President has insisted that the invastion was not because of 9/11?
Update - Doesn't matter, they're brown. That's the whole point. Fighting "them" there so we don't have to fight "them" over here means brown. Iraq? Iran? Doesn't matter. Brown matters.
Nathan Newman says that "CAFTA is more about imposing US copyright on Central America than free trade." Go see why.
A second reason to get a day pass from Salon, another article by Timothy Grieve about Another Valerie Plame:
The former CIA officer has filed a lawsuit based on retaliation for reporting "that Iraq had abandoned its uranium enrichment program."
While the officer didn't find himself outed in Robert Novak's column, he says he has suffered other forms of retribution from those above him. As the Times reports, he says in his lawsuit that he became the subject of a counterintelligence investigation and was accused of having sex with a female contact and keeping for himself money that was supposed to have been used to pay informants. He denies those allegations, the Times says.
The Benedict Arnolds in the Bush Crime Family care only about personal power. Love of country is not even a factor in their crass political calculus.
[Update: link to Salon article fixed thanks to granny insanity. Since you already have a Salon day pass, stop back to The War Room for their updates on how Novak brought Jeff Gannon back into the picture.]
From Tim Grieve at Salon, A Fraud On The American People (watch 30 second ad for day pass):
Just last month, John G. Roberts joined two other federal appellate judges in a decision that cleared the way for the Bush administration to use military tribunals to try detainees at Guantánamo Bay. Here's a question an enterprising senator might pose to Roberts in his upcoming Supreme Court confirmation hearings: If he knew then what we're learning today, would he still have subjected the detainees to the military tribunal process?
What do we know today?
As the Wall Street Journal is reporting today, two Air Force lawyers quit their jobs on the Guantánamo prosecution team last year in protest over trials before military tribunals that they believe were rigged against the detainees. Read that last bit again: The lawyers quit their jobs on the prosecution team. These weren't defense lawyers, from whom one would expect to hear -- and, in fact, from whom one has heard -- complaints that the military tribunal process is unfair. Maj. John Carr and Maj. Robert Preston were Air Force prosecutors, and they quit their jobs on the prosecution team because even they thought that the tribunal process amounted to a kangaroo court.
The Bush Crime Family has been making a very big deal of their allegation that the only complaints about Guantanamo have been coming from former detainees and defense lawyers.
In e-mail messages provided to the Journal and to the New York Times, Carr and Preston accused their superiors of rigging the tribunals against the detainees and charged their fellow prosecutors with ignoring allegations of torture, failing to protect evidence that could have exonerated some detainees and withholding information from their superiors.
In one March 2004 e-mail message, Carr said that Col. Frederick L. Borch, then the chief Guantánamo prosecutor, had "repeatedly" told the prosecutors who worked for him "that the military panel will be handpicked and will not acquit these detainees and we only needed to worry about building a record for the review panel" and academicians who would study the cases later. Preston said in another e-mail message that moving forward with the tribunals would be "a severe threat to the reputation of the military justice system and even a fraud on the American people." Preston wrote: "I lie awake worrying about this every night ... writing a motion saying that the process will be full and fair when you don't really believe it will be is kind of hard -- particularly when you want to call yourself an officer and a lawyer."
Now we know exactly what the JAG lawyers were complaining about last year to the New York Bar Association. Maj. Preston has personal ethical and moral standards for his conduct as an officer and a lawyer that he refuses to violate.
We all know how horrible it would be to expect a judicial nominee to answer a prospective question about how they might rule on a particular case or controversy. I am not aware of any prohibition against asking an appellate judge to comment on past decisions they have made. Does Judge Roberts have any ethical or moral standards that America's conduct in Guantanamo has violated?
August 1, 2005
eRiposte' Summary and Conclusions of his Uranium from Africa and the Senate (SSCI) Report is up now. It's an important read.
Hat tip to KPFK and Pacifica Radio for interviewing former NSC staffer Roger Morris. The jist of the Morris interview is that there is a high degree of probability that The Source Beyond Rove is none other than Condelizza Rice:
"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
Rice's demagogic scare tactic was also very much part of the tangled history of alleged Iraqi purchases of uranium from Niger, the fabrication leading to ex-Ambassador Joseph Wilson's now famous exposé of the fraud, the administration's immediate retaliatory "outing" of Wilson's wife Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, and now the revelation that the President's supreme political strategist Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby were involved in that potentially criminal leak-altogether the most serious political crisis Bush has faced. In fact, though her pivotal role has been missed entirely or deliberately ignored-in both the media feeding frenzy and the rising political clamor, Condoleezza Rice was also deeply embroiled in the Niger uranium-Plame scandal, arguably as much as or more so than either Rove or Libby.
Well isn't that interesting.
The evidence of Rice's complicity is increasingly damning as it gathers over a six-year twisting chronology of the Nigerien uranium-Wilson-Plame affair, particularly when set beside what we also know very well about the inside operations of the NSC and Rice's unique closeness to Bush, her tight grip on her staff, and the power and reach that went with it all. What follows isn't simple. These machinations in government never are, especially in foreign policy. But follow the bouncing ball of Rice's deceptions, folly, fraud and culpability. Slowly, relentlessly, despite the evidence, the hoax of the Iraq-Niger uranium emerges as a central thread in the fabricated justification for war, and thus in the President's, Rice's, and the regime's inseparable credibility. The discrediting of Wilson, in which the outing his CIA wife is irresistible, becomes as imperative for Rice as for Rove and Libby, Bush and Cheney. And when that moment comes, she has the unique authority, and is in a position, to do the deed. Motive, means, opportunity-in the classic terms of prosecution, Rice had them all.
What follows is an incredibly detailed time line of the whole sorry Iraq debacle. What Morris made very clear during his KPFK interview and in the article is that Condi is an intellectual, foreign policy and political lightweight that failed her duty as NSC Director to protect the office of the Presidency as well as the President from being manipulated for political purposes.
Morris highlighted this item in his KPFK interview. The memo that was handed to Powell as he boarded the airplane was the first known reference to Valerie by her maiden name. Previous documented references had referred to her as Valerie Wilson.
Later in the day, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage calls INR Assistant Secretary Carl W. Ford at home, and asks him to send a briefing memo to Powell about the Niger uranium issue. Ford simply pulls out the previous June 10 memo with its reference to Wilson's wife (her name now corrected from Wilson to Plame), addresses it to Powell, and forwards the memo to Rice to be passed on to Powell, who is due to leave the next day with the Presidential party on a trip to Africa.
Up to this point in time any and all WH administration officials who could have been the source of the leak would have referred to Joe Wilson's wife as Valerie Wilson. Unless we are to assume that Novak and Judy Miller had more accurate sources than the folks that prepared the memo handed to Powell, they would also have identified her as Valerie Wilson.
This is interesting. I don't recall reading about this littel tidbit and off the top of my head the only involved reporters I can name are are Novak, Miller and Cooper. Does anyone know the other three?
September 2003: An unidentified "White House official" tells the Washington Post that "at least six reporters" had been told about Plame before Novak's column appeared. The disclosures, the source says, were "purely and simply out of revenge."
Morris covers a whole lot of ground, but I'll close with his credentials:
(This article owes a primary debt to the ground-breaking research of Professor Gary Leupp of Tufts University in his "Faith-Based Intelligence," CounterPunch.org, July 26, 2003.)
Roger Morris was Senior Staff on the National Security Council under both Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, until resigning over the invasion of Cambodia. Morris is the author of Partners in Power: the Clintons and Their America and with Sally Denton The Money and the Power: the Making of Las Vegas. He is completing Shadows of the Eagle, a history of US policy and covert interventions in the Middle East and South Asia over the past half-century, forthcoming from Alfred Knopf.
Here's the situation, the Paul Hackett campaign decided to shoot the moon. Ohio's second congressional district favors Republicans by 30 pts. Running a safe campaign would result in failure.
Paul Hackett is a Fighting Democrat and he's gambling, pushing, pull out all of the stops and running like his life depends upon it (if he loses, he'll probably be sent back in Iraq).
To Get Out the Vote, we need to raise $30,000 today. Here's why.If everyone reading this at liberal blogs gave $1, Hackett would receive ... well over $1 million, actually.
Last week, the netroots stepped up and delivered around $40K a day. The campaign gambled and put all of that on TV (the ads are great and a Democrat is leading the Republicans in gross points in every market in every medium!!!).
It worked, and now Independents are breaking rapidly our way. And Democrats in the district are so fired up that the far more than expected are signing up for GOTV.
This has drastically increased the cost of the GOTV mobilization. The enthusiasm over the weekend was more than expected and more was spend during the huge door-to-door effort. Now the campaign needs money for tomorrow to finish the job.
The cost breaks down to around $50 a precinct with 600 precincts. The netroots best friend, Matt from ActBlue, is flying in right now to coordinate moving the money.
But we need enough to finish the job.
Your investments have made Hackett a contender. Please give one more time so we can win this in the field.