October 31, 2005
What criteria are the right-wing blogs using to determine of Alito is a good pick for the Court? They like the choice because it divides the country. If the Americans who they perceive to be on the "other side" don't like this choice, that's good enough for them.
Blogs for Bush:
Need more proof that Alito was a good pick? MoveOn.org just sent out the following email to its members..Right Wing News:
Samuel Alito: A Judge Not Recommended By Harry Reid
Cry Me a River . . .RedState:
As if any more confirmation were needed that Alito is a fabulous pick, this piece reports that — predictably — the Democrats are unhappy about it.
Of course, it is clear that a fight will be waged over this nomination. This fight should be welcomed.PoliPundit likes the nomination because it will cause a Constitutional crisis:
This is such sweet music:They enjoy being nasty. They want a fight.Republicans said that any attempt to deny Alito a yes-or-no vote would return the Senate to the brink of a showdown that was avoided last spring only when seven lawmakers from each party brokered a compromise. This time, they said they would crush Democratic opposition.You hear that, Barbara Boxer? CRUSH!
General: “Conan, what is best in life?”
Conan: “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of the women!”
Chris Bowers has already put together a terrific round-up of Alito Sucks links: (click through for links)
People for the American Way Preliminary Report
Alliance for Justice Preliminary Report (PDF)
American Constitution Society introduction
NARAL prelim report
National Women's Law Center statement
Think Progress Supreme Court Page
Progressive Law Blogs wire
Left Wing Blogs
Jeralyn at Talk Left: Alito: The Career Prosecutor:
A disaster appointment for those who care about the constitutional rights of the accused. I don't want a career prosecutor like Alito on the Supreme Court. I fear he will be a major proponent of the war on drugs, the death penalty and the war against immigrants, while he will rule to restrict habeas rights and Miranda.
Kos: The showdown finally arrives:
But this is the best possible scenario for Democrats as well. We now have a vehicle upon which to showcase the differences between us and Republicans, between liberalism and conservatism. This is a golden opportunity, and one wisely denied by Bush and Rove with the Robers and Miers nominations.
Ed Kilgore discusses Jeffrey Rosen's theory on the court:
As some of you may recall, George Washington University professor Jeffrey Rosen penned an article right after the presidential election analyzing possible Bush SCOTUS picks, and separating them into two camps: "Conservative Activists" (bad), and "Principled Conservatives" (not so bad), with the key dividing line being the jurist's willingness to defer to legislative decisions and to respect precedents. John Roberts was listed as a "Principled Conservative." Samuel Alito headed the list of "Conservative Activists."
Liberal Oasis writes What's Samuel Alito's trademark? Hostility to equality.
Rude Pundit writes:
By the way, what is it about the Bush adminstration's Supreme Court nominees' savage anger towards pre-teen girls? We had John Roberts saying that it was jim-fuckin-dandy to treat a 12-year old girl eatin' french fries on the subway in DC like she was Aileen Wuornos giggling over the gutted corpse of a dead john. And now we have Alito allowing cops to, without cause, molest a child.
Eirc Mueller has the White Hosue talking points on Atilo.
Angry Bear writes:
The opinion of Bush's newest nomination to the Supreme Court, Samuel Alito, regarding the abortion issue will undoubtedly receive a flood of attention in coming weeks. But Alito's opinion regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), signed into law in 1993 by Bill Clinton, also seems deserving of close scrutiny - particularly since it highlights one of my greatest frustrations regarding political stereotypes: the notion that conservatives are better defenders of family values than liberals are.
Alito ruled that female public-schoool students who were physically and sexually abused by fellow students in class could not sue the state, because the state has no special duty in caring for them. (D.R. v. Middle Bucks Area Vocational Tech. School) Alito also participated in a panel holding that the Violence Against Women Act allows a court to order HIV/AIDS testing of a sexual assault defendant. (United States v. Ward)
f course Alito should be opposed vigorously, but let's not forget the oldest trick in the political book: When you're unpopular at home, start a war! Since Treasongate isn't going away, the Republicans have effectively opened a two-front war--a move that stinks of desperation.
By contrast, Alito is for Bush as Oxycontin is for Limbaugh. Alito is intended to ease the pain of Fitzgerald's indictments and continuing investigation by changing the subject. Bush, Cheney and Rove expect us to play along on their timetable, which requires that the country get distracted quickly from the brief glimpse Fitzgerald provided everyone, even Kristof, of the enormously fetid swamp of crimes and traitorous behavior behind the sealed gates of the Bush White House. No one, except Bush's base, can be anything but disgusted at what was revealed on Friday.
And Bush's base will rally around Alito no matter what. They have their carefully honed defenses of Alito ready to roll out. But they are not planning on having the country stay focused on Traitorgate. And that is why I'm saying we must.
I'm NOT saying ignore Alito. What I'm saying is DON'T LET BUSH CHANGE THE SUBJECT.
Is there any law that requires a man to notify his wife before undergoing a vasectomy? Would such a law violate the Constitution?
One of the reporters at the center of the investigation into the leak of the identity of an undercover CIA officer, says he first learned the agent's name from President Bush's top political advisor, Karl Rove.Why is Rove still in the White House? WHy does he have a security clearance?
Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper also said today in an interview with "Good Morning America," that the vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, confirmed to him that Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA operative.
[. . .] "There is no question. I first learned about Valerie Plame working at the CIA from Karl Rove," Cooper said.
Howard Kurtz's recent slops out pretty much every Republican talking point on the Libby indictments.
Nothing shames those people, and they'll never quit.
This is a gift to Democrats. Katrina, massive budget deficits, and continued economic hardship have proven that Republicans can't govern. Iraq, Plame, and Osama Bin Laden have proven that Republicans can't run an effective foreign policy or protect our nation. Now Scalito, along with Bush's social security debacle, will prove to the American people that conservative ideology doesn't have their best interests at heart.I agree, but we need to do it right. I left the following as a comment:
Let the debate begin.
One of the effective arguments about the Katrina disaster was that people tied it to something deeper. By tying the Katrina mess to underlying ideological ideas we were able to point out that Bush and the Right have failed the country in a more fundamental way.
Yes, Bush appointed cronies. Yes, Bush's administration wasn't ready, etc. But -- and here is the important thing -- people added the word BECAUSE, and tied it all to something more fundamental. And this was effective. Bush wasn't ready to respond to Katrina BECAUSE Republicans don't believe in government. Bush appointed cronies BECAUSE Republicans don't believe in government. People suffered and died after Katrina BECAUSE we need government and that is the primary thing government DOES.
See what I mean? When we are criticizing Republicans on narrow issues we should always tie our criticisms to make a point about how Progressive values are better than conservative values. We should learn to always drive the deeper point home. We should always be arguing that Progressive values are better for people than conservative values.
That's what the conservatives do, and it works.
Discuss. (See also Frameshop)
TalkLeft says: Time For Cheney to Come Clean.
From Time Magazine this week, Joe Klein: The Perils of the Permanent Campaign,
Last week there was more of the same, according to a prominent Republican, who told me that the White House had sent out talking points about how to attack Brent Scowcroft after Bush the Elder's National Security Adviser went public with his opposition to the war in the New Yorker magazine. "I was so disgusted that I deleted the damn e-mail before I read it," the Republican said. "But that's all this White House has now: the politics of personal destruction."On the nomination of Alitio to the Supreme Court, People For the American Way President Ralph Neas,
He has chosen to divide Americans with a nominee guaranteed to cause a bitter fight."Rovism": Destroy people, and set people against each other for political gain. Karl Rove is still in the White House, and Rovism continues.
Rove and the Republicans are going to pursue a scorched-earth policy now. The country is divided down the middle and they are going to do everything they can to aggravate that and fracture society -- because they believes that "their side" will come out on top. Quoting TPM:
It all reminds me of a line from a famous, or rather infamous, memo Pat Buchanan, then a White House staffer, wrote for Richard Nixon in, I believe, 1972 when their idea of the moment was what they called 'positive polarization'.Prosecutor Fitzpatrick, your country needs you now. If you have something on Rove use it soon.
At the end of this confidential strategy memo laying out various ideas about how to create social unrest over racial issues and confrontations with the judiciary, Buchanan wrote (and you can find this passage on p. 185 of Jonathan Schell's wonderful Time of Illusion): "In conclusion, this is a potential throw of the dice that could bring the media on our heads, and cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half."
And there you have it. Tear the country apart. And once it's broken, our chunk will be bigger.
October 30, 2005
Best blogging line of the week. Maybe month. Pundit Overload,
Having Ann Coulter on your network debating the "meaning" of the Fitzgerald investigation isn't relevant. It isn't useful. It's like watching a dog crap to music.Beautiful. Poetry. Does the author rate a coveted Seeing the Forest Blog Hero award? Discuss.
Conservative activists crippled Harriet Miers's Supreme Court nomination largely by challenging her judicial philosophy, debating the importance of her religious beliefs, demanding to see White House documents and derailing her before she reached a Senate vote. Those tactics may make it harder for them to defend President Bush's next pick, expected by many to be a solid conservative, according to a number of Democrats, independent analysts and even some conservative commentators.
They are struck by differences between the Miers nomination process and that of John G. Roberts Jr., who was confirmed as chief justice a month ago. When liberals mentioned a possible filibuster of Roberts, Republicans insisted on an "up-or-down vote," which Miers never received. Virtually all GOP senators defended the White House's refusal to surrender documents concerning Roberts, but some of them demanded comparable documents regarding Miers.
Bullshit. It's what they do. What they said an hour ago is not relevant - it's what they needed to say then, and that was then. When they need to do something else they willl. They'll just make stuff up, lie and smear people. They'll ask focus groups if they would be against Democrats if they learned that Democrats eat dog toenails on Yugoslavian yogurt at tea time, and if the focus groups said that would turn them against Democrats, we would start hearing that Democrats eat dog toenails on Yugoslavian yogurt at teatime, and we'll hear it on the radio, and in newspapers (incuding the one that published the story referred to above), and on TV and in magazines and in anonymous e-mails, and from friends, and soon "everyone knows" that Democrats do that. And it will work. It's what they do.
I do give the press credit for noticing that "Conservatives" said one thing about Roberts and another about Meirs. After three decades they actually noticed. They didn't notice that EVERYTHNG they said about Clinton was "inoperative" the minute they tool office, but at least they noticed this. Maybe it's a start. Sheesh.
I just received the following e-mail. In the message I received the words "click here" is a link. But I noticed that the link is to an FTP site, and not a web page. It was going to download an ".exe" file. That means a program.
You have received a postcard !If you receive something like this DO NOT CLICK! It will run a program on your computer.
Hello friend !
You have just received a postcard from someone who cares about you!
This is a part of the message:
"Hy there! It has been a long time since I haven´t heared about you!
I´ve just found out about this service from Claire, a friend of mine who also told me that..."
If you´d like to see the rest of the message click here to receive your animated postcard!
Our earnings are indeed at a record high, driven largely by the price of the commodities we sell. But if you compare profits per dollar of revenue across a wide range of U.S. companies,” a true "apples to apples" evaluation, you see that oil earnings are not out of step with other major industries.
As the chart shows, oil and gas industry earnings averaged 7.7 cents per dollar of revenue during the second quarter compared with the overall U.S. industry average of 7.9 cents. ExxonMobil earned 8.6 cents for every dollar of revenue.
Exxon-Mobile wouldn't lie. Would they?
Banking and Pharmaceuticals top the chart at 19.6% and 18.6% quarterly profits, which begs the question of whether it is remotely possible that American voters are getting massively ripped off by those industrial sectors. The Insurance sector, which has been referred to as America's Invisible Bankers comes in at 9.6% quarterly profits.
I got the funny feeling that Exxon-Mobile's ad was foreshadowing Scooter Libby's defense, where his lawyers point to Al Capone as proof that what Scooter did wasn't really all that bad. (See Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, The $800 Million Pill and The Big Fix: How the Pharmaceutical Industry Rips Off American Consumers.)
I was also impressed by this claim:
Last year alone, our new capital investments approached $15 billion, primarily in new exploration and production, but also in refining capacity and new energy-saving and environmental technologies.
I couldn't help but wonder why new refining capacity and investment in energy-saving and environmental technologies was lumped in together with new exploration and production. I'm sure there is a very logical explanation.
Following the Insurance sector is Telecommunication Services at 9.4% (does that include the cable company that rips me off every month?) and then the Food, Beverage and Tobacco at 8.9%. I have to admit I was a little curious why Business Week and Oil Daily, the industry magazine that is the source for Exxon-Mobile's chart, decided to group the Food, Beverage and Tobacco sectors all into one category at 8.9% profits. Is Food, Beverage and Tobacco a normal industry sector? I guess that must be a perfectly natural busness sector for a chart like the one in Exxon-Mobile's ad.
The only serious question I had about Exxon-Mobile's ad is how much time the editors at the L.A. Times spent deciding whether to run it on the editorial page or the funny page. I will also bet a dime to a dollar that Exxon-Mobile's ad will be running as straight news on the Faux News network and Reich Wing talk radio circuit next week.
October 29, 2005
A new poll is out, on honesty and ethics in government. It shows how well the public understands what has been going on for the last five years (not). (Yes, the same public that thinks Iraq was behind 9/11.) See White House Ethics, Honesty Questioned. Some items from the article:
...nearly half say the overall level of honesty and ethics in the federal government has fallen since President Bush took officeWhich means that more than half don't think the level of honesty and ethics have fallen under Bush.
55 percent of the public believes the Libby case indicates wider problems "with ethical wrongdoing" in the White House, while 41 percent believes it was an "isolated incident." And by a 3 to 1 ratio, 46 percent to 15 percent, Americans say the level of honesty and ethics in the government has declined rather than risen under Bush.
. . . A majority -- 55 percent -- said the decision of Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald to bring charges against Libby was based on the facts of the case, while 30 percent said he was motivated by partisan politics.The effect of the manipulation of our information sources is clear. The pubic is confused, doesn't know who to believe, and many take an "everyone does it" view, which is intentionally reinforced by those who benefit.
. . . While a large majority of Democrats (76 percent) said the case is a sign of broader ethical problems in the administration, an equally large majority of Republicans (69 percent) said it was an isolated matter. Most Republicans continued to give Bush high marks for his handling of ethics in government, while Democrats overwhelmingly graded him poorly. [emphasis added]
I remember back in Clinton's first year, when Newsweek conducted a poll that found that most of the public thought his budget raised taxes on lower and middle incomes but nowhere in that or any following issue explained that the budget did not. Newsweek, supposedly in the business of informing the public, reported that the pubic was misinformed, yet did nothing to correct the misinformation. And so here we are...
Never forget that the massive government budget deficits were intentional. When the Clinton surplus started to shrink, Bush called it "incredibly positive news."
President Bush said today that there was a benefit to the government's fast-dwindling surplus, declaring that it will create ''a fiscal straitjacket for Congress.'' He said that was ''incredibly positive news'' because it would halt the growth of the federal government.And then the Republicans, controlling Congress, started spending like there was no tomorrow. See The Republican Spending Explosion, from the far-right-wing Cato Institute,
Total federal outlays will rise 29 percent between fiscal years 2001 and 2005 according to the president's fiscal year 2005 budget released in February. Real discretionary spending increases in fiscal years 2002, 2003, and 2004 are three of the five biggest annual increases in the last 40 years.Massive tax cuts for the rich, massive spending increases on "pork" and military. Massive borrowing from China and Japan...
. . . Congress has failed to contain the administration's overspending and has added new spending of its own. Republicans have clearly forfeited any claim of being the fiscally responsible party in Washington.
Bush has never vetoed a spending bill - or any other bill, for that matter. And as far as I know he has never fired anyone. No oversight, no accountability, no standards, no restraint.
Steve at The Left Coaster:
It's Time For The Democrats To Start The "Enough, Already" CampaignYou have to go there to read the rest.
Regardless of how you feel about yesterday’s developments, may I suggest that if the Democrats were waiting for an opportune time to finally take the stage and make a claim for power, now is that time?
[. . .] the Democrats have their opening to begin the “Enough, Already” campaign for next year. Here are some possible lines of attack for such a campaign:
Seeing the Forest got shut down overnight for exceeding our bandwith allotment. It's all fixed now, and I am upgrading the plan.
October 28, 2005
Remember that we KNOW that "Bush's Brain" Karl Rove talked to a reporter and disclosed that Valerie Wilson was a CIA agent. He was not indicted (today) because under the legal statutes that apply the charge is "hard to prove."
We KNOW he blew the cover of an agent and we also know that he is still in the White House, still has a security clearance, and is still capable of blowing the covers of other agents. Great.
Prosecutor Fitzgerald made it pretty clear that he isn't prosecuting for the leak itself because he can't, and that is the source of the Obstruction of Justice charge. He was obstructed from getting to the truth. From the Patrick Fitzgerald Press Conference Transcript (you'll love where this is posted):
And what we have when someone charges obstruction of justice, the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He's trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked their view. As you sit here now, if you're asking me what his motives were, I can't tell you; we haven't charged it. So what you were saying is the harm in an obstruction investigation is it prevents us from making the fine judgments we want to make.And later in the press conference,
What I'm simply saying is one of the harms in obstruction is that you don't have a clear view of what should be done.
Girl #1: I'd offer to set you up with him, but you're already occupied.
Girl #2: I am not occupied.
Girl #1: Please! You're so occupied, you're the Gaza Strip.
Girl #2: Don't you watch the news?
--111th & Broadway
I wrote this on the 18th, and just found it still in "Draft" form. So here it is ten days late. I'll be posting more about this group soon.
The New Progressive Coalition is up and running.
From the article, Venturing into political donations:
Today [Deborah] Rappaport, 47, is launching the New Progressive Coalition, a fundraising initiative to support progressive political groups using venture capital methods. Donors are called "investors.'' Political activists are running "start-ups.'' The goal is to get the money to the brightest ideas. And, just like eBay and its well-honed feedback system, the members will rate ideas and organizations on the coalition's Web site. Top rating: five stars.
[. . .] NPC is trying to hook up progressive political groups with donors of small to mid-sized amounts "who aren't sure where to go,'' Rappaport said. Similar efforts have been tried in the valley in the non-profit arena, to link newly rich executives with charities. Often the executives get involved in the operations.
[. . .] Like a good VC shop, NPC plans to give seminars and provide advisers for donors evaluating who is worth funding. It hopes to foster relationships among activists seeking to build efficient organizations around a cause, providing consultants and advisers.
[ . . .] Republicans, who have backed grass-roots groups for years, say Rappaport is an idealist whose progressive notions are out of step with mainstream America.
"Supporting the grass roots is a very romantic notion and sometimes an effective idea,'' said Dan Schnur, a Republican consultant who has worked in Silicon Valley. ``But every dollar that people spend empowering the progressive Democrats is one more vote for Republicans. They are dragging their party to the left.''
I was watching the announcement of Scooter Libby's indictment on CNN and right wingnut CNN commentator Terry Dornon laid out the strategy of the RWNM - Blame Joe Wilson. Wolf Blitzer pointed out that Joe Wilson had not been indicted and Paul Begala flagged Dornon's argument as a diversionary tactic that was not going to work, but that won't stop them from trying.
Facts don't matter to the Right Wing Slime Machine so expect to hear variations on this theme in the months to come. Over at The Left Coaster eriposte has a detailed and comprehensive analysis titled Treasongate: The Dates Were Wrong . . . that completely debunks right wingnut accusations against Joe Wilson. Click through and arm yourself with the facts so we can beat back the RWSM.
eriposte also has another extensive article, Treasongate: Uranium from Africa and the Robb-Silberman report. This is the first I've heard of a Robb-Silberman report, but just one interesting revelation is that "Senate and House Intelligence Committees knew that uranium from Africa claim was baseless, before Joseph Wilson's op-ed in 2003." This is the conclusion eriposte draws:
This is the only significant new finding for me in this report and it means that any Senate or House Intelligence Committee member who kept claiming, after June 19, 2003, that there was still evidence supporting the claim that Saddam Hussein was seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa was simply a brazen liar.
This is apparently the first part of at least two parts. Read the whole article.
Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement.
“These are very serious charges. They suggest that a senior White House aide put politics ahead of our national security and the rule of law.
“This case is bigger than the leak of highly classified information. It is about how the Bush White House manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to challenge the president.
“It's now time for President Bush to lead and answer the very serious questions raised by this investigation. The American people have already paid too steep a price as a result of misconduct at the White House, and they deserve better.”
Go here and start hitting refresh... Update - It's there now, with a press release.
Update - Nothing on the site yet, but TV says Libby indicted on 2 counts of perjury, 2 counts of making false statements and 1 count of Obstruction of Justice. It says Libby "Endagnered National Security."
Significant - Libby did not resign in advance, which means a senior member of the Bush Administration has been indicted. This is a major historical event.
Still no resignation... Still not fired.
Update - Libby has resigned. Question - did he wait to resign because he wanted to make history by being a senior White House official indicted? Did he do this to embarrass Bush and Cheney?
October 27, 2005
You gotta admire the ruthlessness of the cons. Just take Miers outside, explain to her how its gonna go down, and bang! Over. Now watch for the crazy they appoint in order to appease the far right (constitution in exile, anyone?)
So, here we are, waiting to see if there are indictments of White House officials. What will Bush and the "conservative movement" do if the PlameGate, Abramoff, DeLay, Reed and/or other crime/corruption investigations finally threaten to bring down the Bush Presidency -- along with Republican control of the House and Senate?
Let's look back at what happened when Nixon was being forced out.
But first, here's what got me thinking about this. I came across the following, Military's Advice to Reporters: 2,000 Dead in Iraq 'Not a Milestone',
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the force's combined press center, wrote in an e-mail to reporters, "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."And this, The Party's nominee for chief Pentagon Spokesman, claiming the America media are in "partnership" with al Queda,
"Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Al Qaeda have a partner in Al Jazeera and, by extension, most networks in the U.S.," Mr. Smith wrote. "This partnership is a powerful tool for the terrorists in the war in Iraq."Our media "in partnership" with al Queda...
The first was from a Lt. Col., the second from a political appointee, both in the Pentagon. When I hear official military spokesmen echoing Rush Limbaugh and saying that the press is "in partnership" with terrorists, or insinuating that I am somehow anti-American it makes me nervous. That's because I remember Nixon.
When Nixon was in his last days in office, drunk, paranoid and raving, the Secretary of Defense instructed the Joint Chiefs to ignore any orders given by Nixon, in case he attempted a coup. From The Modern History Project:
Then in October, came the rumor that Nixon may be considering a military coup to stay in office. Gen. Alexander Haig told the Congress during his confirmation hearings for the position of Secretary of State on January, 1981, that some people in Washington were "flirting with solutions which would have been extra-Constitutional". Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski warned the grand jury that if they decided to indict Nixon he might use force to remain in office. In June, 1982, Harold Evans, Watergate grand juror, appearing on a segment of the ABC-TV news show "20/20." said that Jaworski told them that if they indicted Nixon he might "surround the White House with armed forces."More graphically, from a review of the book "THE ARROGANCE OF POWER, The Secret World of Richard Nixon",
On October 26, 1973, in a Washington Star article called "Has President Nixon Gone Crazy?" syndicated columnist Carl Rowan wrote: "...in the face of a vote to impeach he might try, as 'commander-in-chief' to use military forces to keep himself in power." In another article called "The Pardon," in the August, 1983 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, by Seymour Hersh, one of Nixon's Joint Chiefs of Staff, recalled that in a December 22, 1973 meeting:"He kept on referring to the fact that he may be the last hope, (that) the Eastern elite was out to get him. He kept saying, 'This is our last and best hope. The last chance to resist the fascists'. His words brought me straight up out of my chair. I felt the President, without the words having been said, was trying to sound us out to see if we would support him in some extra-constitutional action ...He felt it would be led by General Robert Cushman, the Marine Representative on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had been loyal to Nixon ever since he had been his military aide while he was the Vice President under Eisenhower. Schlesinger, in July, 1974, believing the Washington contingent of Marines to be the probable force used in a coup attempt began developing a strategy to bring in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
(Secretary of Defense James) Schlesinger began to investigate what forces could be assembled at his order as a counterweight to the Marines, if Nixon -- in a crisis -- chose to subvert the Constitution. The notion that Nixon could at any time resort to extraordinary steps to preserve his presidency was far more widespread in the government than the public perceived..."
On August 2, 1974, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger admitted that General Haig had informed him that Nixon was considering the idea of surrounding the White House with troops. In an August 27, 1974 article in the Washington Post titled "Military Coup Fears Denied," the fact was revealed that:"Defense Secretary James Schlesinger requested a tight watch in the military chain of command to ensure that no extraordinary orders went out from the White House during the period of uncertainty (and) that no commanders of any forces should carry out orders which came from the White House, or elsewhere, outside the normal military channels."
Tantamount to a military coup, and contrary to the Constitution, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a secret communiqué to all Commanders of the U.S. military forces around the world: "Upon receipt of this message you will no longer carry out any orders from the White House. Acknowledge receipt."
The inescapable conclusion, well bodyguarded by meticulous research and footnotes, is that in the Nixon era the United States was, in essence, a ''rogue state.'' It had a ruthless, paranoid and unstable leader who did not hesitate to break the laws of his own country in order to violate the neutrality, menace the territorial integrity or destabilize the internal affairs of other nations. At the close of this man's reign, in an episode more typical of a banana republic or a ''peoples' democracy,'' his own secretary of defense, James Schlesinger, had to instruct the Joint Chiefs of Staff to disregard any military order originating in the White House.Well I'm old enough to remember Nixon. And I have to tell you that this Bush crowd just picks up where Nixon left off. It's not even a comparison. This crowd is much more corrupt and ideologically crazed and cynical and dangerous that Nixon.
Schlesinger had excellent grounds for circumspection. Not only had he learned that Nixon had asked the Joint Chiefs ''whether in a crunch there was support to keep him in power,'' but he had also been told the following by Joseph Laitin, public affairs spokesman of the Office of Management and Budget. On his way to the West Wing in the spring of 1974, Laitin recalls:
''I'd reached the basement, near the Situation Room. And just as I was about to ascend the stairway, a guy came running down the stairs two steps at a time. He had a frantic look on his face, wild-eyed, like a madman. And he bowled me over, so I kind of lost my balance. And before I could pick myself up, six athletic-looking young men leapt over me, pursuing him. I suddenly realized that they were Secret Service agents, that I'd been knocked over by the president of the United States.''
So here's the thing. Times have changed since the days of Nixon. The far-right is far more powerful and entrenched, far more self-righteous, have an extreme persecution complex and have become very insular and cult-like. Their ideology has spun itself so far that regular people have a difficult time even understanding the language and references they use in their "home" discussions at discussion centers like Free Republic.
As I said, times have changed. The Right has made great inroads infiltrating and indoctrinating the institutions of society -- the churches, business, media and the courts. They have been purging the agencies of the government and installing Party hacks. And they have largely purged the reasonable people and the moderate and civil voices from their ranks. Who is there in place today to defy the Dobsons and Norquists? Here we are amazed at Patrick Fitzgerald because we no longer expect to see even ONE person who is willing and able to go against the Right's machine.
So it comes down to whether they're willing to pull the trigger or not if backed up against the wall. How does Bush stack up against Nixon when pressed? (I keep thinking about the 1991 coup attempt against Gorbechev, tanks surrounding the Soviet Parliament building.) Under Nixon we came close, but our traditions of democracy and moderation saved us. It was Nixon's Secretary of Defense who ordered the Joint Chiefs to check before following Nixon's commands. In the Gorbechev coup enough of the military refused to go along. But infiltration and indoctrination have been the hallmarks of the Right for the past thirty years and the military has been a natural target for such activity.
If Bush decides to pull the trigger, will the military follow The Party or the Constitution?
Question - if Rove or Libby are about to be indicted, or are pleading to lesser charges, why aren't they resigning?
Do the colors work, or should I go back to the green?
Update - OK, how about the left side still green but the right side changed?
Update - OK, how about with the right-side color on the left as well?
Update - OK, now with the same on both sides, but a lighter shade. I might like this one.
Update - OK How about the pink?
Update - OK back to green on the sides. Maybe if I change the pic so the colors match?
Thus the time has come for the Democrats to stop with the mommy meme, stop with the 135,294,312 point plans to fix the country - and focus on the recreation of the Democratic Party in a different image.
The Republicans are more and more blatant with their voter-suppression tactics. Now they're working to ban federal funds to any non-profits that engage in voter-registration activities. See House ... denies voter registration groups ,
The restriction would prohibit nonprofit community groups from getting such money if they have used their own funds for nonpartisan voter registration or get-out-the-vote drives, or, in some cases, lobbying in the last year.Meanwhile "faith-based" and other Republican-supporting organizations are getting more and more Federal funding.
Democrats contended the restriction would deny the poor the right to vote. They also portrayed the plan as part of an effort by conservatives that eventually could mean that such groups might not be able to get any dollars from any federal program in the future.
Supporting the Democrats’ position were civil rights organizations, unions and faith-based groups, including the NAACP, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the American Jewish Committee.
October 26, 2005
There have been several reports that the Special Prosecutor's office has been asking Valerie Plame's neighbors whether they knew she was a CIA agent.
A series of interviews by F.B.I. agents on Monday revived the possibility that Mr. Fitzgerald might be considering such a charge. Several neighbors of Ms. Wilson and her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador, were asked whether they knew that Ms. Wilson, also known by her unmarried name, Valerie Plame, had covert status.Maybe they are looking into the man who said this:
Several neighbors, some who have known her for years, said they did not know before Mr. Novak's column that she worked for the C.I.A.
A former CIA covert agent who supervised Mrs. Plame early in her career yesterday took issue with her identification as an "undercover agent," saying that she worked for more than five years at the agency's headquarters in Langley and that most of her neighbors and friends knew that she was a CIA employee.Bringing out someone like Rustmann would fit the pattern. (Think Swift Boaters.) This was in the Washington Times. I heard it on Limbaugh. And of course it was repeated on Fox. Remember the people who said things about the Clintons, and we found out later they were paid?
"She made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee and her husband was a diplomat," Fred Rustmann, a covert agent from 1966 to 1990, told The Washington Times.
Washington Note: Fitzgerald has rented more office space.
Just got off the phone with a source who has appeared before Fitzgerald's grand jury who thinks that the Special Counsel is going to "go wide" with indictments -- i.e., a lot of people are going to get nailed.Think Progress: [Time reporter] ALLEN: “A Likely Scenario For What Happened Today Is Patrick Fitzgerald Got Some Indictments”
No Quarter: Aides To Be Indicted, Probe to Continue
Even as Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald wrapped up his case, the legal team of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has been engaged in a furious effort to convince the prosecutor that Rove did not commit perjury during the course of the investigation, according to people close to the aide. The sources, who indicated that the effort intensified in recent weeks, said Rove still did not know last night whether he would be indicted.CNN:
Asked about anxiety levels at the White House, press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday, "There's a lot of speculation going around, and I think there are a lot facts that simply are not known at this point. It remains an ongoing investigation, and we'll let the special prosecutor continue to do his work."
He added, "This White House is focused on the priorities of the American people."
Peter Ross Range has apparently decided to help Beinart pimp a forthcoming book. This month's issue of Blueprint Magazine features a Beinart article titled Tough Liberalism. A more accurate title would be Bonehead Liberalism: How To Lose In 2006 Without Really Trying.
Beinart begins his ill begotten excuse for military and foreign policy analysis with a nostalgic jaunt down the memory hole of the forties:
When John Kerry lost in 2004, I started in my despair reading about the late 1940s, the first years of the Cold War. That was the last time America entered a new era in national security. It started very fast in 1945 and 1946. And it was the last period where the country trusted liberals and Democrats to defend it.
Beinart introduces his article with a worry wart tendentious assumption that ignores President John F. Kennedy at the very least. Linking John Kerry's loss to the Cold War Worriers of WWII is an imaginative leap of faith. Anyone that thinks Beinart could not possibly stoop any lower in historical revisionism does not know Peter Beinart.
Try this one on for size:
The issue was fundamentally about whether liberal Democrats would define liberalism only in opposition to the right wing or whether anti-communism would be placed at the heart of what it meant to be a liberal.
Beinart revisits that historical canard a little later in his article. There are two implied parentheticals to this argument, as well as Beinart's entire thesis. The first one is that domestic social policy was irrelevant to defining liberalism in the 40's and it is irrelevant today. The second is that the threat of terrorism is equivalent to the perceived threat posed by communism in the 40's, which even ignores the extent to which communism was a hyped up threat both domestically and internationally in the 40's and 50's. In the meantime, Beinart attempts to solve the quandry of how Democrats should approach foreign policy, in light of the unpopularity of Bush's Iraq war, by presenting the reader with a false dilemma:
As Will Marshall has pointed out, if you look at all presidential elections since the Vietnam War, the disturbing reality is the Democratic Party has only won in those moments when the country turned inward. Carter won in 1976, when the country turned inward after Vietnam. It was the first election since 1948 when national security was not the issue that people told pollsters they were most concerned about. Then Clinton won in 1992, in the aftermath of the Cold War.
If Beinart's reliance on a foreign policy analysis by a feckless neo-con like Will Marshall were not alarming enough, a discerning reader can only be horrified by Beinart's superficial analysis of Presidential politics, Beinart glosses over Watergate as a factor in Jimmy Carter's election and ignores the Presidency of Bush 41 to credit Bill Clinton's victory to the end of the Cold War. The absence of foreign policy as an issue in the electoral victories of Carter and Clinton are a very thin reed on which to hang prospects for Democratic success in either 2006 or 2008.
Beinart's next paragraph echoes Rush Limbaugh's early days as a burgeoning force on talk radio, when he constantly informed his listeners "that's the truth" every twenty seconds:
The truth is this: Unless the Democratic Party can change its image on national security, its only realistic hope of winning the White House is the hope that the war on terrorism is a passing phenomenon that will be over in a few years. Unfortunately, most Americans don't believe that. Most experts don't believe that. Most people see this as a generational struggle. And yet, you have to go back pre-Vietnam to find a precedent for how the Democratic Party can respond in a way that will win the country's trust. (emphasis added)
A discerning reader can only admire Beinart for his segue from shallow historical revisionism to a false dilemma. Is hoping that terrorism is a passing phenomenon really the only hope of the Democratic Party? With Bush's ratings in the high thirties, flagrant and pervasive corruption dogging the Republican Party, pending indictments of key Republicans in and out of the Bush administration, the nose-diving popularity of Bush's Iraq war and domestic policies as well, the Democrats don't have any other option? One can only wonder at this stage if Beinart's article is intended as spoof.
In the next three paragraphs Beinart boils down the period from 1946 to 1949 into three succinct and superficial paragraphs of highly questionable, if not deceitful, analysis. Beinart completes his faux historical analysis with a monumental inferential leap from the early 50's to the elections of 2002 and 2004 and the Swiftboating of John Kerry.
Beinart demonstrates he is a student of Donald Rumsfield, if not history, by answering his own question:
What can we learn from that today? It seems to me there has been a kind of silent, hidden divide on the left in the Democratic Party since 9/11. It is akin to the divide that existed in the late 1940s. The fundamental question is again whether the proper prism through which to view this new world is anti-totalitarianism based on the idea that we face another totalitarian foe. Osama bin Laden has said that the Taliban comes closest to the vision of a society that al Qaeda would like -- a fundamentally, even classically totalitarian, vision
Sub-silentio Beinart has introduced the classic paradigm of the incipient Democratic neo-con movement of Scoop Jackson and Jeanne Kilpatrick: Totalitarianism - bad. Authoritarianism - good. Left wing totalitarian dictators America opposes - bad. Right wing totalitarian dictators America supports - good. By this point there is no longer any question that Beinart is also perpetuating the myth of Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations. Beinart is in full fledged neo-con mode and insisting that the Democratic Part must follow the reactionary and dangerous path of never ending Neo-con war to win elections. The only lesson Beinart would have us learn from history is that we don't learn any lessons from history.
I'll dispense with boring our Seeing the Forest readers with additional extended analysis of Beinart's tedious article and briefly debunk his four big points.
What would liberal anti-totalitarianism mean today?
The first thing it means is a comfort with military power.
Beinart's first point is the self evident tripe of all political bromides.
The second point is that American power is far more than military power.
See Joseph Dye's Soft Power
The third point is that you can't fight a global war against totalitarian ideology if you're weak at home.
More self evident and meaningless tripe.
My fourth point has to do with how you talk about democracy and freedom -- essentially the idea that democracy begins at home
If Beinart wants the Democratic Party to rely on platitudes, allow me to add, "Home is where the heart is" and "The first journey begins with a single step." Now we're all set for a Democratic victory in 2006 and 2008. All I can add is Send In The Clowns. We can't have a Presidential election without clowns now, can we?
The completely unanswered question in Beinart's article is how "fighting liberals" are any different from full fledged reactionary neo-cons. Is there any difference between Beinart's position and Samuel Huntington or David Horowitz? As far as I can tell, it is a distinction without a difference. Is there anything that separates Beinart from the neo-con wonks at The Weekly Standard? We can only hope that the Democratic DLC leadership isn't as naive and historically ignorant as Peter Beinart, whose analysis is nothing short of a road map of how to go to political hell in a handbasket
Cross-posted at MyDD
Just on CNN - There will be no announcement today from the Plamegate grand jury.
October 25, 2005
Two new sites:
Spittle & Ink: The Weblog of Mark Spittle - good stuff, check out Judy Miller's "notes". :)
Schwarzenegger Street - an "alternative" to Sesame Street starting Arnie (instead of Earnie), and populated by creatures like Cheney the Constitution (eating) Monster, Bill O'Reilly the Grouch, etc., courtesy of Phil Angelides' campaign. I'd rate it three giggles out of five... just doesn't fully "gell" for me, although it produced a few snorts.
This is where the indictments (if any) will appear online: US Department of Justice, Office of Special Counsel
U.K. Green Party release: Greens shocked by selective logging revelation
The Green Party today expressed shock and concern as satellite pictures revealed that the destruction of the Amazon rainforest has been underestimated by as much as 60%.
"...selective logging is destroying areas at a rate comparable to conventional logging, we are losing the rainforest at twice the rate we previously thought..."
October 24, 2005
Six teenage "lesbians", aged 12!!!! to 17 have been sentenced to 90!!!!!!!! lashes of the cane, each, for a "shameful and abominable act" of "lesbianism".
These are children! I have a daughter who is almost twelve. This is horrific. ... and getting almost no media attention, anywhere (blogosphere or M$M).
I had a brief conversation with Ambassador Joe Wilson tonite at Stanford, where he was about to give a talk. I was with eRiposte of The Left Coaster, who I am sure will also be writing about this. (Early morning update - here it is.) Amb. Wilson said that he had read eRiposte's latest Treasongate post just this morning. (He is also familiar with Seeing the Forest.) eRiposte had the great honor of giving Amb. Wilson the news that the NY Times had just reported that it was Vice President Cheney who had told "Scooter" Libby that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent. (I suggested that he verify that because he heard it from a blogger... Very soon after that someone arrived with a printout.) I regret that I did not write down his reaction. Perhaps eRiposte will recall. (It's quite late now after a long day. I'm sorry that I don't have time to refine this post.)
Myself with Ambassador Wilson. Pic by eRiposte from my cell phone
I asked Amb. Wilson if he had any information about any CIA damage assessment looking into whether there was additional harm done from this leak. Wilson replied that he had no idea. He said information like that is strictly compartmentalized. They wouldn't make it public, they wouldn't tell him, and they wouldn't even have told his wife. He didn't even know if they had done such an assessment. He did say that they would generally assume that when an agent's cover is blown anything related to that agent - contacts, sources, etc. - is also blown.
He went on to say that he only has sadness over this whole thing. He wishes it had never happened. He said Chris Mathews said the other day that if there are indictments, that he (Wilson) would be doing cartwheels down Pennsylvania Avenue and that is just wrong, that this is a terrible thing that has happened, a terrible abuse of power that has harmed the country.
I agree. I wrote the other day, "We're talking about a government that has caused possible loss of life, damage to our country and our safety, not about some political "us vs them" game."
As I said, it's late. I'll write about Wilson's talk tomorrow. It was very good. Wilson is a remarkable and dedicated patriot who spent years in service to the country. He was George HW Bush's point-man in Baghdad during the first Gulf War. I commented to eRiposte that this is exactly the kind of dedicated career professional that the current Bush Administration is so intent on driving out of the government.
(Note - I'm not using quotes because I don't use shorthand, was taking notes as fast as I could, and though I have the clear sense and most of the words used I'm not sure I have it exactly.)
P.S. I have also touched on this story from a very different direction. During the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston I witnessed Natasha of Pacific Views chasing down Robert Novak to ask him about his notorious leak of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Wilson. Novak actually turned into a giant bat and flew away.
Brad DeLong and Bob Somerby regularly critique bad reporting in the American media, but they normally focus on individual reporters rather than on management and ownership, even though the latter ultimately must be held responsible.
Bob Parry has a piece up at Consortium News detailing the suppression of good reporting (leading to the development of a servile news media) during the last 20 or 30 years. Based on what he says, we can expect the same media people who pooh-poohed Walsh's Iran-Contra investigation to do everything they can to sabotage Fitzgerald's Plame investigation.
When the business Democrats succeeded in marginalizing Ralph Nader within the party, one outcome is that the Democrats failed to percieve the dangers of media consolidation, which one of Nader's big issues. This has come back to bite them in a big way. They portrayed themselves as hard-headed realists and caricatured Nader as a quixotic do-gooder, but in the long run they crippled the Democratic Party. Unless that was their goal, we can only regard them as the silliest of suckers and chumps.
Sample from Parry:
Where I worked at the Associated Press, general manager Keith Fuller – the company's top executive – was considered a staunch supporter of Reagan’s foreign policy and a fierce critic of recent social change. In 1982, Fuller gave a speech condemning the 1960s and praising Reagan’s election.
“As we look back on the turbulent Sixties, we shudder with the memory of a time that seemed to tear at the very sinews of this country,” Fuller said during a speech in Worcester, Mass., adding that Reagan’s election a year earlier had represented a nation “crying, ‘Enough.’ …
“We don’t believe that the union of Adam and Bruce is really the same as Adam and Eve in the eyes of Creation. We don’t believe that people should cash welfare checks and spend them on booze and narcotics. We don’t really believe that a simple prayer or a pledge of allegiance is against the national interest in the classroom. We’re sick of your social engineering. We’re fed up with your tolerance of crime, drugs and pornography. But most of all, we’re sick of your self-perpetuating, burdening bureaucracy weighing ever more heavily on our backs.”
October 23, 2005
October 23, 2005
Kevin Drum has a good post on everyone's favorite subject: "What Democrats Stand For." He points to one source who learned from focus groups that the public perceives,
The purpose of the Democratic party is to help the poor and the disadvantaged. [. . .] if the purpose of the Democratic party is to help the disadvantaged, what can the party possibly offer to the overwhelming majority of Americans who see themeslves as middle class?He offers that the
gnawing stress and uncertainty that has always afflicted the daily life of the poor is increasingly afflicting the working and middle classes as well: stagnant wages, booms and busts in income from year to year, disappearing pensions, predatory lending, unreliable healthcare, and the constant, everpresent background fear of being laid off and falling into a hole you can never dig yourself out of.Let me sum that up as I see it: The Democrats are the political party that created the middle class (working hand-in-hand with organized labor), and are now fighting to keep the middle class from falling back again. It's the party of the people, not of the rich and corporations. Now that the country has had a good, long taste of the Republican agenda and its effects, they might be ready to hear that.
This growing instability affects a huge swath of workers in the United States, and it's something the Democratic Party should dedicate itself to addressing.
There's a bunch of great stuff over at The Stakeholder today.
October 22, 2005
... apparently, quite a lot.
None Dare Call It Stolen
Ohio, the election, and America 's servile press
By Mark Crispin Miller.
Harper's Magazine, August, 2005
Veteran readers of this publication will recall my suggestion for the formation of a "West Coast Republic" (California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia - perhaps modeled on Canada's loosely coupled federal system), shortly after the fall 2004 election results were revealed. It appears that some folks in Vermont are seriously considering seceding from the Union. They're not the only folks discussing this, either (as a quick search for secede on Google will reveal).
As I've pointed out before, according to what I've read, California sends $40 billion more to D.C. than we get back... money which would go a huge way towards addressing our state and local budget issues. Not to mention allowing us to pursue domestic and foreign policies more in alignment with the values of California citizens, and a government at least marginally more accountable to the average citizen than the current one.
Full text of release:
For Immediate Release.
Monday, October 15, 2005
To register for this free event, please contact Jane Dwinell at
For press inquiries, please contact Dr. Rob Williams at
THE VERMONT INDEPENDENCE CONVENTION
An Impossible Dream or a Vision of the Future?
October 28, 2005
James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, will be the keynote speaker at The Vermont Convention on Independence to be held in the House Chamber of the State House in Montpelier on Friday October 28th. Sponsored by the Second Vermont Republic, the convention, which will begin at 9:00 a.m. and conclude at 5:00 p.m., is open to the public and free of charge.
This historic event will be the first statewide convention on secession in the United States since North Carolina voted to secede from the Union on May 20, 1861.
Other speakers will include Professor Frank Bryan, UVM; Kirkpatrick Sale, author of Human Scale, J. Kevin Graffagnino, Executive Director, Vermont Historical Society; Professor Eric Davis, Middlebury College; Shay Totten, editor, Vermont Guardian; Antoine Robitaille, journalist Le Devoir (Quebec City); G. Roderick Lawrence, CEO, Stevenson Kellogg(Canada); (Rev.) Ben T. Matchstick; and General Ethan Allen (aka Jim Hogue). General Allen is expected to travel by horse to the State House.
The objectives of the convention are! twofold. First, to raise the level of awareness of Vermonters of the feasibility of independence as a viable alternative to a nation which has lost its moral authority and is unsustainable. Second, to provide an example and a process for other states and nations which may be seriously considering separatism, secession, independence, and similar devolutionary strategies.
The Second Vermont Republic is a peaceful, democratic, grassroots, libertarian populist movement committed to the return of Vermont to its status as an independent republic as it once was between 1777 and 1791.
For additional information, contact Thomas H. Naylor at 802-425-4133 or Jane Dwinell at 802-229-4008, email@example.com
I've loved Jerry Brown since his 1992 campaign for President. During that campaign he proposed boosting the economy and helping the energy/pollution/Middle East problem with a national program to hire unemployed people to retrofit buildings to be energy efficient. Imagine if we had done that! So now 13 years later we have the Apollo Alliance but Jerry doesn't seem to get much credit for being so far ahead on this.
Go see his blog. He's running for Attorney General of California and could use a few bucks for the campaign. Think west-coast Eliot Spitzer prosecuting polluters. Meanwhile as Mayor of Oakland he has brought the crime rate down.
As previously discussed at Seeing the Forest, a Kos diary today, TreasonGate: The little-discussed ace in the hole asks if a CIA agent was killed as a result of the White House leak of the identity of an undercover CIA agent,
Wayne Madsen, a reporter and former NSA employee, has claimed, "CIA sources report that at least one anonymous star placed on the CIA's Wall of Honor at its Langley, Virginia headquarters is a clandestine agent who was executed in a hostile foreign nation as a direct result of the White House leak."I think the title of this Kos diary is unfortunate, and some of the tone. We're talking about a government that has caused possible loss of life, damage to our country and our safety, not about some political "us vs them" game. But it is possible that one reason the prosecutor is taking this so seriously is that the leak very well could have led to loss of life.
It's a good question for the daily White House briefing, "Were any agents or sources killed as a result of the leak?"
That blogroll over on the left is just chock full of great places to visit. Click on two or three that you have never visited. You never know what you'll learn next.
I try to add every Progressive-leaning blog I come across to the list. (It's set up now to bring up the list in random order.) Leave a comment here if you know of a blog that should be added, or if you find an outdated link or a blog that isn't being used anymore. (I don't have time to visit all of the blogs regularly anymore.)
And I'd appreciate it if blogs I link to added Seeing the Forest to their own blogroll, please.
October 21, 2005
Beyond Clueless: Michael Brown's Dinner Arrangements A High Priority During Unfolding Katrina Disaster
Lauren Weinstein has just posted a link to some of the emails circulating within FEMA during the Katrina crisis, apparently there are a number of stunners there, including an email from Sharon Worthy, Brown's press secretary, on the topic of ensuring that enough time was arranged for Michael Brown to have a nice leisurely dinner at a Baton Rouge area restaurant - a priority less than appreciated by other FEMA workers busy eating MREs, crapping in the hallways of the Superdome, and attempting to sleep on concrete floors. Not to mention trying to help people dying in the streets.
Bush style "crisis" leadership. I thank the deity every day that our worst "enemy" is a rag tag band of terrorists hiding out in the mountains of Pakistan, who feel more threatened by the Pakistani Army than the entire might of our "Global War On Terrorism" (c.f. the recent letter from Ayman al-Zawahri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi).
Go see TV Ad: "Laundromat" at Clean Up Congress.
Give them money to run the ad.
Oddly, this is at the far-right wingnut site WorldNetDaily: Miers panel to hear 'explosive testimony'? Gag order lifted for ex-lottery boss claiming Miers kept 'lid' on Bush Guard controversy,
As WorldNetDaily has reported, Littwin allegedly was fired by Miers because he wanted to investigate improper political influence-buying by lobbyists for GTECH, the firm contracted to run the lottery.What's this doing at WorldNetDaily?? My guess is someone on the right is sending a shot across the bow of someone in the White House.
Corsi believes that Littwin, according to an examination of hundreds of contemporary Texas newspaper accounts, will be able to establish under oath that the GTECH contract was preserved on a no-bid basis by then-chairwoman of the Lottery Commission Miers in order to "keep the lid on" the National Guard controversy involving then-Gov. Bush.
The lobbyists included Ben Barnes, the former Texas lieutenant governor who claims he pulled strings to get Bush into the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.
GTECH agreed to release Littwin from his gag order under pressure from Senate Judiciary Committee attorneys, Corsi said.
Littwin, who was hired by Miers in June 1997 and fired just five months later, wanted to reopen the GTECH contract for competitive bid, according to Corsi.
. . . When Littwin sued GTECH over losing his job, Barnes gave a five-hour deposition. But GTECH settled with Littwin for $300,000, under the condition that he destroy all documents pertaining to the litigation, including the Barnes deposition.
Until now, Corsi reports, Littwin has been under a gag order as part of his "negotiated settlement" with GTECH, under which he would suffer a $50,000 penalty if he discussed openly any details of his Texas Lottery employment.
Corsi says insiders following the Texas Lottery Commission scandals believe Littwin's testimony is "potentially explosive."
It seems to me Secretary Rice was sent to her position to weed out and clean house on these hangers on. We have a bunch on left over bureaucrats from a leftist administration looking to keep some power and a paycheck.He's talking about a 31-year military veteran and former director of the Marine Corps War College, Colin Powell's Chief of Staff, the the "leftist" adminstration he is referring to is Bush's father.Blogs for Bush
Delay's Judge donated to John Kerry...and MoveOn!NewsMax: Michael Reagan: It Wasn't Racism in Toledo; It Was a Thugfest,
If true, the judge should be removed from office just on that point alone - MoveOn being a terrorist-apologist organization engaged in a treasonous attempt to engineer American defeat in the War on Terrorism.
This incident, which grew out of a planned march by 14 neo-Nazi members of the absurd National Socialist Movement of Roanoke, Va., played right into the hands of a liberal national media intent on exacerbating the whole race issue whenever an opportunity to do so arises.Not the Nazis' fault, it's the fault of the nature of black people. I won't forget his dad laying a wreath on SS graves at Bitburg, after telling the European Parliment that the Lincoln Brigades "fought on the wrong side." (They were fighting against Nazis.)
. . . When the neo-Nazis left without marching, why did some blacks pillage their own part of town? If it was a matter of race hatred, why didn't they invade a totally white neighborhood to vent their so-called anger?
Gregg, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, was one of 47 Powerball lottery winners Wednesday to match five of the numbers, though not the Powerball number. His reward: $853,492 before taxes.(Wizbang)
He said he was leaving the gas station when a clerk ran after him to tell him he’d left one of the tickets behind.
I've been reading bloggers who are already writing a post-mortem on Bush and even conservatism. Sheesh. Right-wingers control the House, the Senate, the White House, the Courts, the FBI, the CIA and the military. Bush can pardon anyone he wants to. Federalist Society judges can block anything they want to. The rest of the government can refuse to investigate Republicans if they want to.
Serving to remind us all of these facts, this happened YESTERDAY:Congress OKs Gun Industry Lawsuit Shield,
Congress gave the gun lobby its top legislative priority Thursday, passing a bill protecting the firearms industry from massive crime-victim lawsuits.Nothing has changed. In fact, indictments and bad news could force the Right to play its hand, and free itself from the few remaining burdensome restrictions of operating as if we were still a democracy. These are not people who like to allow mere technicalities like that to get in their way. Up to now the appearance of democracy has been convenient. But perhaps it is becoming inconvenient. And there are trillions of dollars and decades in prison at stake.
President Bush said he will sign it. [. . .] Under the measure, a half-dozen pending lawsuits by local governments against the industry would be dismissed. Anti-gun groups say some lawsuits filed by individuals could be thrown out, too.
The Senate passed the bill in July. ... The bill's passage was the NRA's top legislative priority and would give Bush and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill a rare victory at a time when some top GOP leaders are under indictment or investigation.
I've read two different pieces not that take the roots of the Valerie Plame leak all the way back to the 1970's exposures of CIA wrongdoing, and the right-wing reaction.
For some background take a look at this CIA write-up about the Pike Report
Apparently, the right wing is organizing to replace the current result for miserable failure with M1cha3l M00re (geez, they sure take his criticism of the "miserable failure" pretty personally, don't they?) - whose eponymous web site is now the second highest ranking result whenever you search for "failure" or "miserable failure". Time to for some counter-measures, folks.
If there were any doubt that the current resident of the White House is a miserable failure, recent polls (showing him with among the lowest approval ratings ever) and the wholesale abandonment of much of his second term agenda should eliminate them. George W. Bush is a miserable failure of a President, and no organized right wing conspiracy is going to change that.
October 20, 2005
Apologies to everyone receiving Seeing the Forest by Bloglet e-mail subscription. I don't know what happened but Bloglet stopped sending out your e-mails a few days ago. It's fixed now.
Subscribers receive a daily summary of STF posts. To subscribe just type your e-mail address into the space in the right-hand column, where it says "Subscribe" - just under the ads. You can also subscribe with Feedster or Bloglines by clicking on their buttons.
ALSO Did you know you can e-mail any STF post to friends (or even not friends...)? If you click on Link to This or Comments under any post, there is a place uder the coment-entry box for sending that post.
GeoHive is a web site that aggregates and charts geopolitical data and statistics (primarily population and economic factors). I used the information there to construct this spreadsheet (Excel format), that attempts to model what the world would look like if the standard of living of China and India's populations were equalized with those of the industrialized world in a semi-reasonable fashion (modeled as the former's per capita GDP set to 50% of that of the latter's, and the latter's halved - note: the result requires a 20% increase in world GDP) - and adjusted to recognize that we are already overshooting a sustainable level of resource extraction (I use GDP as a proxy for resource consumption).
The results match what my intuition has told me all along:
a) more or less, the standard of living for the folks in China and India is at or near a sustainable level already (with China's possibly even exceeding it, worst case scenario) - when I mentioned that the $3/hr Chinese Delphi employee is never going to earn $27/hr., I wasn't kidding. He or she will be lucky to earn twice what they are now
b) our standard of living is going to have to drop - depending on whether you think a sustainable level of resource extraction approximates 60% of today's resource consumption, or 40%, you're looking at Americans and Canadians living on 1/5th or 1/8th of what we do today (a per capita income of ~$7100 or ~$4700, vs ~$40,000 today) - so today's $27/hr Delphi workers can look forward to having thair $10-12/hr wages slashed in half (or close to it)
Pretty frightening, eh? And we're talking less than a generation before this happens. Yet, this is totally off the radar of today's political discussion (outside of the Green Party, that is). Our children are going to confront a radically changed world (and so are we), and we are doing nothing as a society to prepare them for this. The result is going to be tragic, if we don't wake up and collectively smell the coffee ASAP.
Note: China and India (in terms of population and economic growth potential) and the world's industrialized nations (in terms of economic output) more or less render the rest of the world statistically irrelevant, which is why I limit the numbers this way.
Another note: the resulting figures are using today's population numbers, not 2030's (which anticipate 200 million more Chinese and 400 million more Indians and 60 million more Americans).
Caveats: yes, economics is not a zero sum game, GDP is only a very gross approximation of resource consumption, substitution effects are real, the economy is shifting so that non-resource intensive elements of the economy are more prominent, etc. Nevertheless, as China's current resource demands demonstrate: it still takes tangible raw materials to drive an economy.
Folks - let me be blunt: this is NOT "gloom and doom", this is inescapable reality - the world's resources are finite - while economics and growth are not a zero-sum game, resource constraints are. There is only so much arable land, so many pounds of fish that can be taken out of the ocean, so many tons of ore that can be extracted, so much oil that can be drilled, etc. The 2.5 billion Chinese and Indians entering the world economy are not going to willingly forgo the benefits of economic growth - nor can we prevent them from doing so. When Billy Joe Chinese person goes to buy a car, he's competing against Billy Joe European and Billy Joe American and Billy Joe Indian - the resources used to construct that car are going to go to the highest bidder (whether that be in cash, or in willingness to work for wages).
This isn't just an issue for the industrialized world, either - 2.5 billion Chinese and Indians are in for a major disappointment when their expectations for an increased standard of living wind up not being met.
Here's the positive side: if we act now, the adjustments don't have to be so wrenching. Modern industrial society is incredibly wasteful (bad economic design that doesn't properly take into account externalities or depletion of natural capital). Look at your trash can: can you visualize over 80% not being there? If so, you're on your way towards adjusting to tomorrow's reality.
As a recent article in the UK Independent, China Crisis: Threat to the Global Environment, points out, the demands that China's economic growth can be anticipated to put on world markets, less than a generation from now, exceed the entire world's current and anticipated production capacity. There is simply literally no possible way that they can be fulfilled. Hell, we know that, right now, TODAY, if everything froze, the world's current levels of resource consumption are simply not sustainable.
China "has now overtaken the United States as the world's leading consumer of four out of the five basic food, energy and industrial commodities - grain, meat, oil, coal and steel. China now lags behind the US only in consumption of oil - and it is rapidly catching up."
What does this mean? Simple: we are living on borrowed time. I've been searching for a polite way to say this, but there really isn't one... the blunt and awful truth is this: if you are reading this, the odds are quite strong that, twenty years from now, you will be significantly less well off, in terms of the material resources (energy, food, raw materials) available to sustain your standard of living, than you are now. We are talking RADICAL lifestyle adjustments, folks - Americans and Europenas are going to have to learn how to "share", in a MAJOR fashion - right now, there are roughly 1 billion of us consuming at an unsustainable rate - and 2.5 billion Chinese and Indians working feverishly to catch up.
The catching up process is, necessarily, going to involve us moving backwards even faster than they move forwards... the Delphi workers whose $27/hr. wages are unsustainable in the face of $3/hr Chinese workers, are only the most obvious example. Crank down their wages to $10-12/hr., and suddenly the gap between the two isn't that big... in fact, Ii'd say that, a generation from now, your typical Chinese manufacturing worker is going to be making roughly equivalent to what the U.S. worker makes. There will be no labor cost advantage to manufacturing in China.
Here's an obvious collary: the CHINESE WORKER is NEVER going to make $27/hr. In fact, he's never going to make even $15/hr. The $10-12/hr the post-bankruptcy Delphi workers are going to get pretty clearly puts a cap on what the Chinese worker can expect to earn in the future.
Here's the tough part, for those of us who are parents: we are going to have to watch our children grow up, and walk out into the world on their own in the middle of this. More specifically, we are going to have to watch as our children see the implicit promises being made to them today, by our wildly materialistic and conspicuous consumption happy media culture, broken, hell, not just broken, but shattered,.
October 19, 2005
Yikes! This report would lead one to think that Rove has turned, and is pointing the finger at "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's Chief of Staff: Rove Told Jury Libby May Have Been His Source In Leak Case,
White House adviser Karl Rove told the grand jury in the CIA leak case that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, may have told him that CIA operative Valerie Plame worked for the intelligence agency before her identity was revealed, a source familiar with Rove's account said yesterday.More at The News Blog.
Hurricane Wilma became the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record on Wednesday as it churned toward western Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula on a track toward Florida, having already killed 10 people in Haiti.Before this Rita was the strongest ever measured.
The season's record-tying 21st storm, fueled by the warm waters of the northwest Caribbean Sea, strengthened alarmingly into a Category 5 hurricane, the top rank on the five-step scale of hurricane intensity.
A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane measured maximum sustained winds of 175 mph, with higher gusts, the U.S.
National Hurricane Center said.
The plane also recorded a minimum pressure of 882 millibars, the lowest value ever observed in the Atlantic basin. That meant Wilma was stronger than any storm on record, including Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in late August, and Rita, which hit the Texas-Louisiana coast in September.
Hey, do you think something might be going on with the weather?
October 18, 2005
Strengthening the accusation that "conservative movement" think tanks are really nothing more than Republican Party "front" operations, the National Center for Policy Analysis has fired Senior Fellow Bruce Bartlett for criticizing President Bush. From In Sign of Conservative Split, a Commentator Is Dismissed,
In the latest sign of the deepening split among conservatives over how far to go in challenging President Bush, Bruce Bartlett, a Republican commentator who has been increasingly critical of the White House, was dismissed on Monday as a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative research group based in Dallas.Described on their website as "a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization," I first came across NCPA as part of the "tort reform" movement. (Updated funding chart here.)
This is about regular flu, not avian flu. This is extremely important, as I'll explain after the excerpt. Flu Vaccine Maker Lowers Supply Expectations Again,
The Chiron Corporation said Monday that it would supply less flu vaccine than it had expected this year, increasing the chances that supplies would be tight this winter.
[. . .] Last year Chiron had expected to provide about 50 million flu shots, half the nation's anticipated supply. But it ended up supplying no shots because British regulators shut down the company's factory in Liverpool, England, citing sanitary problems.
[. . .] Mr. Pien said the company would not be able to produce as much as it expected because the installation of new equipment and procedures and worker training detracted from production.
As nations begin to stockpile the drug in anticipation of a flu pandemic, calls are mounting for countries to sidestep patents on the drug -- as Brazil first did for AIDS medications -- and make their own generic versions.Bird flu is on the horizon, and could kill as many as 1/4 of all people. We don't have the means in place to make enough regular flu vaccine, and the company that owns the patent on the flu drug won't allow licensing so the world can make more. They see the potential for huge profits, selling at premium prices to the richest few.
But Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche, which acquired rights to the drug from Gilead Sciences Inc. of Foster City in 1996, said Wednesday it had no intention of letting others make it.
"Roche ... fully intends to remain the sole manufacturer of Tamiflu,'' said company spokesman Terry Hurley.
At what point do we break out of "market" thinking and just start building vaccine and Tamiflu production facilities? If you have children you love and want to protect you need to be asking yourself this question now. Not after bird flu starts to spread and kill. Now.
October 17, 2005
Progressive talk-radio host Ed Schultz was supposed to be broadcast over the Armed Forces Radio Network beginning today. This is important because until now only Rush Limbaugh has been allowed for military ears. I was listening to his show today, only to learn that the Bush Administration yanked Schultz off the air at the last minute. So the military will stilll only be allowed to hear the opinions of Rush Limbaugh.
If a senior White House staffer had intentionally outed an American spy during World War II, he'd have been shot.
[. . .] If a senior aide to the president had intentionally outed an American undercover agent during World War II, an agent whose work was central to our mission of defeating the Germans, that aide would very likely be put to death. While no one is yet arguing that Karl Rove be executed, it is the height of hypocrisy and hubris for the Republican party to attempt to minimize a crime that not only puts our troops at risk, but risks the lives of every American man, woman and child.
October 16, 2005
Learn how Republican "government" works. From today's How a Lobbyist Stacked the Deck:
The eLottery money went first to ["Conservative Movement" leader Grover] Norquist's foundation, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), and then through a second group in Virginia Beach called the Faith and Family Alliance, before it reached [Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph] Reed's company, Century Strategies. Norquist's group retained a share of the money as it passed through.
"I have 3 checks from elot: (1) 2 checks for $80K payable to ATR and (2) 1 check to TVC for $25K," [Republican lobbyist & Tom DeLay associate Jack] Abramoff's assistant Susan Ralston e-mailed him on June 22, 2000. "Let me know exactly what to do next. Send to Grover? Send to Rev. Lou?" [Lou Sheldon, head of the anti-Gay Traditional Values Coalition]
Minutes later Abramoff responded, saying that the check for Sheldon's group should be sent directly to Sheldon, but that the checks for Norquist required special instructions: "Call Grover, tell him I am in Michigan and that I have two checks for him totaling 160 and need a check back for Faith and Family for $150K."Susan Ralston is currently Karl Rove's chief assistant. (A side note - Calls that come in to the White House for Rove must be cleared by Ralston through Norquist.) Faith and Family Alliance is a front-group, an empty shell run by a [since-convicted] child molester. A share of the money sticks to Norquist, who in his day job coordinates Republican messaging and decides how to channel money to "conservative movement" organizations.
According to the e-mails, Reed provided the name and address where Norquist was supposed to send the money: to Robin Vanderwall at a location in Virginia Beach.
Vanderwall was director of the Faith and Family Alliance, a political advocacy group that was founded by two of Reed's colleagues and then turned over to Vanderwall, Vanderwall said and records show.
Vanderwall, a former Regent University Law School student and Republican operative, was later convicted of soliciting sex with minors via the Internet and is serving a seven-year term in Virginia state prison.
In a telephone interview, Vanderwall said that in July 2000 he was called by Reed's firm, Century Strategies, alerting him that he would be receiving a package. When it came, it contained a check payable to Vanderwall's group for $150,000 from Americans for Tax Reform, signed by Norquist. Vanderwall said he followed the instructions from Reed's firm -- depositing the money and then writing a check to Reed's firm for an identical amount.
This article traces only a tiny fraction of the hundred of millions of dollars that flows into the Republican machine each year. Read the entire article to see how this fraction was used. Lots of other familiar names show up in the article.
Post-New Orleans the codewords continue, this time in support of actual Nazis. From The Politial Teen,
Earlier this afternoon, a neo-Nazi group had planned a march to protest the recent black on white violence in Toledo. However this protest was quickly broken up by many unhappy African-Americans and whites. This “counter-protest” quickly turned into a group of violent people who set fires and looted homes and business.And, for those in the Republican coalition who prefer their racism overt rather than code-worded, another site says that the counter-protesters are confirming racist stereotypes: Note to Gangsters: When You're Protesting Racists' Stereotypes, Be Sure Not to CONFIRM THEM,
...and in other news, another group of racists marched in Washington without the objects of their protest rioting, attacking or looting in response.Yep, them darkies and their rioting and looting...
October 15, 2005
Judy Miller talks about what she told the grand jury investigating the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame, covert CIA agent: My Four Hours Testifying in the Federal Grand Jury Room - New York Times. (See also The Miller Case: A Notebook, a Cause, a Jail Cell and a Deal).
She is clearly describing (herself) obstructing justice, but in a way that will be hard to prove. Where there are notes that show she discussed the agent with Libby, she gives other reasons those notes might be there or "can't recall" why they are there. Where there are no notes it's "can't recall" and no useful information.
My notes indicate that well before Mr. Wilson published his critique, Mr. Libby told me that Mr. Wilson's wife may have worked on unconventional weapons at the C.I.A.
Note the use of the word "may." He "may" have told me is not useful in trial testimony.
My notes do not show that Mr. Libby identified Mr. Wilson's wife by name. Nor do they show that he described Valerie Wilson as a covert agent or "operative," as the conservative columnist Robert D. Novak first described her...But elsewhere she says,
On one page of my interview notes, for example, I wrote the name "Valerie Flame." Yet, as I told Mr. Fitzgerald, I simply could not recall where that came from, when I wrote it or why the name was misspelled.Could not recall. Right. Later,
Mr. Fitzgerald asked me about another entry in my notebook, where I had written the words "Valerie Flame," clearly a reference to Ms. Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald wanted to know whether the entry was based on my conversations with Mr. Libby. I said I didn't think so. I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall.Could not recall. And again,
Mr. Fitzgerald asked if I could recall discussing the Wilson-Plame connection with other sources. I said I had, though I could not recall any by name or when those conversations occurred.Could not recall. And another example of covering for Libby here:
Mr. Fitzgerald asked if I had discussed classified information with Mr. Libby. I said I believed so, but could not be sure.In other words, in case another witness said so, better say something vague but not provable. Nothing, however, that could be used as trial testimony.
Another point, where notes of a conversation with Libby identify Wilson's wife:
I told Mr. Fitzgerald that I was not sure whether Mr. Libby had used this name or whether I just made a mistake in writing it on my own. Another possibility, I said, is that I gave Mr. Libby the wrong name on purpose to see whether he would correct me and confirm her identity.This is a person being evasive to a grand jury, and providing cover stories for a person she obviously knows committed a crime. She is committing the crime of obstructing justice, but has been carefully coached on how to avoid indictment herself.
I also told the grand jury I thought it was odd that I had written "Wilson" because my memory is that I had heard her referred to only as Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald asked whether this suggested that Mr. Libby had given me the name Wilson. I told him I didn't know and didn't want to guess.
Does Judith Miller have too many convenient lapses of memory for us to believe her, even though Fitzgerald is giving her a pass? For anyone who still thinks she is going to be indicted, please understand that her lawyers would have carefully vetted this article before they allowed her to send it in to the Times. If Miller was in jeopardy from Fitzgerald, there would have been no article.Firedoglake will have more later. Arianna on "can't recall",
This is as believable as Woodward and Bernstein not recalling who Deep Throat was…Political Animal, AMERICAblog,
So President Bush ordered the White House staff to cooperate fully, tell everything they knew, and waive any reporter privileges they had. Scooter Libby turned around and behind the President's back told Judy Miller, ignore the president and don't accept my waiver.BuzzFlash:
Bill Keller's "Ace Reporter," Judith Miller, Claims She Can't Remember Who Told Her the Name of a CIA Operative. That's Some "Ace Reporter."Brad DeLong,
If Cheney and Bush had been taking care that the laws be faithfully executed, they would have told Libby to turn himself in more than two years ago. They didn't.James Wolcott,
The Publisher and Editor of the New York Times: Guilty of negligence.Think Progress,
For two pieces that comprise over 8700 words, there isn’t much useful information conveyed.The Moderate Voice,
It is certainly QUITE unusual for a journalist to forget who gave them a KEY part of info in a major story — let alone one that has legal implications.The Next Hurrah,
Okay, having read through everything a few times, I see nothing that makes me trust the NY Times, Keller, Abramson or Miller more now than a few hours ago before this went on-line. What am I missing? Does the coverage of this entire story suddenly get substantially better? Prove it.Buzzmachine,
She blames her sources for getting WMDs wrong, Libby for going to jail, and her editors — who stood by her at cost to them — for her unheroic welcome. In a phrase: what a case she is.All Spin Zone connects dots.
Later - Now Firedoglake has,
Come on! You had 85 days to sit on your butt and do nothing but think about this case, and you can't remember who first told you the name of the CIA NOC at the center of this mess? You have to be kidding me if you think any of us are buying that, let alone Patrick Fitzgerald.
I mean, honestly, there are memory lapses. And then there is just plain idiocy and obstruction. I'm voting for the latter.
Though I know that evenin's empire has returned into sand,
Vanished from my hand,
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping.
My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet,
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.
Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship,
My senses have been stripped, my hands can't feel to grip,
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels
To be wanderin'.
I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way,
I promise to go under it.
Though you might hear laughin', spinnin', swingin' madly across the sun,
It's not aimed at anyone, it's just escapin' on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facin'.
And if you hear vague traces of skippin' reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time, it's just a ragged clown behind,
I wouldn't pay it any mind, it's just a shadow you're
Seein' that he's chasing.
Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind,
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach,
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.
Tom DeLay and his allies are trying to discredit Ronnie Earle, the prosecutor who indicted him. (Details here, here, and here.) This is an obvious attempt to go directly to the jury pool in order to influence the eventual verdict.
Two can play that game. It shouldn't be too hard or too expensive to send the registered voters in that area a fact-sheet listing DeLay's ethical lapses: his links to Abramoff, his recent warning from the toothless House Ethics Committee, the actual facts of the case for which Earle is prosecuting him, and anything else that's vivid enough to make a potential juror stop and think for a few seconds.
This seems like a no-brainer to me, but I don't have two dimes to rub together, and the Democrats who do have money always seem to have their own ideas about how it should be spent: "We don't want to sink to their level."
But maybe a maverick will jump out of the bushes and do what needs to be done. It shouldn't even cost much.
October 14, 2005
The latest wingnut campaign of hate: Groups Threaten to Boycott American Girl,
American Girl, manufacturer of a highly popular line of dolls and children's books, has become the target of conservative activists threatening a boycott unless the toy maker cuts off contributions to a youth organization that supports abortion rights and acceptance of lesbians.Will the hate-mongers get away with another campaign of intimidation?
The protest is directed at an ongoing American Girl campaign in which proceeds from sales of a special "I Can" wristband help support educational and empowerment programs of Girls Inc., a national nonprofit organization which describes its mission as "inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold."
[ . . . ] The Mississippi-based American Family Association, in a campaign launched Wednesday, is urging its members to demand that American Girl halt support for Girls Inc., which it called "a pro-abortion, pro-lesbian advocacy group."
[ . . . ] "Parents need to know that this effort to promote self-esteem among girls is not as innocent as it seems," Scheidler said. "While Girls Inc. has some good programs, they also support abortion, oppose abstinence-only education for girls, and condone lesbianism."
American Girl, a subsidiary of Mattel Inc., said the "I Can" initiative supports three specific Girls Inc. programs — building girls' skills in science and math, developing leadership skills, and encouraging athletic skills and team spirit.
"All of these aims are appropriate to our 7- to 12-year-old American Girl fans," the company said. "The American Girl brand exemplifies the values of wholesomeness and responsibility that we would expect any organization to commend."
We need more candidates for congress, we need more candidates for state legislatures, we need more candidates for local offices and school boards. Think about the people you know and respect, the people who would make you proud and get them to run.
With the serious threat from Bird Flu on the horizon and in light of the Bush administration's very public lack of preparedness for responding to hurricane Katrina (not to mention lack of a plan for occupying Iraq) I think it's time to revisit Bush's pre-9/11failures. The public might be ready to accept that Bush let us down back then just as much as with Kartina, took his eye off the ball, cared more about politics than protecting the public, listened to political hacks instead of career professionals, and allowed his vacation to interfere with understanding what "bin Laden determined to strike in US" meant.
Katrina == 9/11.
(Long sentence, short sentence thing...)
If you sell something and want thousands of people to know about it, place an ad at Seeng the Forest. For $40 for a week or $70 for two weeks you could have your product or service in front of thousands of Seeing the Forest readers. Compare this to $3500 for an ad in a small magazine or thousands for a TV or radio ad.
If you want to go further, and reach a serious number - over 1 MILLION page views each day - of LIKE-MINDED people for a fraction of what it would cost to place a magazine, TV or radio ad, use the Advertise Liberally network.
Update and this.
We are just the "starter culture." We're here to stir things up, and get the conversation started. Only, it isn't a conversation unless you add your 2 cents, too.
October 13, 2005
TruthOut just posted an article by Stephen Pizzo, entitled: 10 Pledges to Demand from Democrats. In it, he outlines what he thinks we need to hold the Democratic Party accountable to doing if it takes control of Congress and the White House. Read the article, and then come back here and tell me whether you think this represents a real vision for
"A Progressive Contract with America".
Here's my reaction: LAME. If this is the best we can do, we as a country are doomed (and so human civilization and most of the living beings we share this planet with). I was going to deconstruct the posting in detail, but I'll leave it with this question: what's missing? (I'll provide my own answer as a commnnt).
[Imperial Rome had nothing on America under Bush. -Thomas]
TCNs frequently sleep in crowded trailers and wait outside in line in 100 degree plus heat to eat "slop." Many are said to lack adequate medical care and put in hard labor seven days a week, 10 hours or more a day, for little or no overtime pay. Few receive proper workplace safety equipment or adequate protection from incoming mortars and rockets.
Blood, Sweat & Tears:
Asia's Poor Build U.S. Bases in Iraq
by David Phinney, Special to CorpWatch
October 3rd, 2005
Called "third country nationals" (TCN) in contractor's parlance, they hail
largely from impoverished Asian countries such as the Philippines, India,
Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan, as well as from Turkey and
countries in the Middle East. Once in Iraq, TCNs earn monthly salaries
between $200 to $1,000 as truck drivers, construction workers, carpenters,
warehousemen, laundry workers, cooks, accountants, beauticians, and similar
Invisible Army of Cheap Labor
Tens of thousands of such TNC laborers have helped set new records for the
largest civilian workforce ever hired in support of a U.S. war. They are
employed through complex layers of companies working in Iraq. At the top of
the pyramid-shaped system is the U.S. government which assigned over $24
billion in contracts over the last two years. Just below that layer are the
prime contractors like Halliburton and Bechtel. Below them are dozens of
smaller subcontracting companies-- largely based in the Middle
East --including PPI, First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting and Alargan
Trading of Kuwait, Gulf Catering, Saudi Trading & Construction Company of
Saudi Arabia. Such companies, which recruit and employ the bulk of the
foreign workers in Iraq, have experienced explosive growth since the
invasion of Iraq by providing labor and services to the more high-profile
This layered system not only cuts costs for the prime contractors, but also
creates an untraceable trail of contracts that clouds the liability of
companies and hinders comprehensive oversight by U.S. contract auditors. In
April, the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of the
U.S. Congress concluded that it is impossible to accurately estimate the
total number of U.S. or foreign nationals working in Iraq.
[read more at the link above]
[Bush's vision for America: Blackwater mercenaries patrolling the streets, no-bid contracts to favored corporations, the military running everything under Karl Rove's supervision, etc. etc. etc. -Thomas]
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green Party leaders urged Congress and all Americans to reject the White House's intention to turn New Orleans and all disaster areas into zones of military control, weakened human rights protections and oversight of federal agencies, and corporate profiteering similar to occupied Iraq.
"The treatment of New Orleans' poorest, especially African Americans, has already been widely reported and is now a national shame, as is the ineptitude of Mayor Nagin's office, FEMA, and other government bodies whose poor preparation and delayed response helped turn the city into a ruin," said Romi Elnagar, Acting Secretary of the Green Part of Louisiana. "But we've also witnessed a new pattern, of policies and actions that have turned New Orleans into a war zone all too similar to occupied Iraq."
A Texas prosecutor subpoenaed records for the home telephone of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and the phone of his political campaign Thursday.
Also subpoenaed by prosecutor Ronnie Earle were records for two numbers for DeLay's daughter, Danielle DeLay Ferro.
Is the Bush government any more ready for Avian Flu than they were for hurricane Katrina? Of course not: Michael Brown Clone Will Oversee U.S. Response to Avian Flu Pandemic.
According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the Bush Administration is now requiring Party political approval of all job candidates for civil service government jobs. (Which is illegal, by the way, but who's going to prosecute?)
How far are we from Party loyalty oaths for all jobs, even in the private sector?
John Fund, right-wing hack, understands how it works. In How She Slipped Through he writes,
Back home, the Liberty Legal Institute, the only conservative legal foundation in Texas, has declined to endorse her. Several large GOP donors in Texas have met to discuss spending large sums to run ads calling on Ms. Miers to withdraw. ... This even though the White House has ominously put out the word in Texas: "If you oppose this nomination, you oppose the president." Everyone knows what the political ramifications of that can mean in the world of George W. Bush and Karl Rove.Everyone knows what happens to you if you go against Rove. That's what has been holding this whole right-wng syndicate together: raw fear. If you step out of line the right-wing machine will crush you. Pure and simple, right out there for everyone to see and understand.
That's why the whole "conservative movement" thing appears to be starting to fall apart. The prosecutor looking into the leak of the identity of CIA agent Valeria Plame has been keeping Rove distracted, and some people are starting to believe that Rove could actually be indicted. With Rove distracted or indicted the fear level goes down. The same thing is happening with the Abramoff investigation. Grover Norquist, the other half of the Rove smear machine, is linked to Abramoff's crimes -- his machine is where a lot of the money was channeled. So Norquist is similarly distracted. And, finally, there is Tom "The Hammer" DeLay, indicted and distracted.
There's a simple idea that will help prevent Bird Flu from mutating into a contagious form easily passed between humans. The idea is to give regular flu vaccinations everyone who might come into contact with infected birds. This way the Bird Flu virus won't get a chance to mix with regular contagious flu.
The way that viruses mutate is by mixing with other viruses. They exchange genetic material. So if a deadly but not-easily-passed virus like Bird Flu mixes with the more common easily-passed but not-as-deadly versions of the flu, the result could be a deadly easily-passed version.
"The idea is simple," said Dr. Daniel Perez, a flu virus expert at the University of Maryland. If a poultry worker is unlucky enough to catch both conventional and avian flu, Dr. Perez said, the fear is that the human and bird viruses will mix in a process called reassortment. The mixing might create a virus that would spread easily from human to human, leading to a global pandemic of avian flu.So why is this not likely to happen?
But if the workers are vaccinated against human influenza, he said, "they can't catch it, so you won't get reassortment.
[. . .]One reason is cost. "If the health care budget of Vietnam is about $7 a person, that would be enough for one flu shot," said Dr. Earl G. Brown, a virologist at the University of Ottawa. (In the United States, the wholesale price of a flu shot is about $10. Doctors typically charge $25 or more.)A worst-case Bird Flu scenario could kill 1/4 of all people and leave the rest of us in poverty for years.
For that reason, the money for flu shots would have to come from the West. "
Where DOES our money go? It mostly goes to our military budget and to tax cuts for the rich. The military budget is officially about $425 billion, but this figure does not include intelligence, nuclear weapons, or veterans' benefits and health care. It also doesn't include the cost of the Iraq war.
October 12, 2005
[I didn't want to bring children into a world where the future of the human race and, indeed, life on earth is less than certain... then I fell in love with someone who already had two young children, and abstaining from the future was no longer an option.
I'm a bit older now, and another point now hits home: twenty years (the span of a generation) is the blink of an eye, and that any disaster my children "inherit", I'm likely to be trapped right in the middle of myself. Reading the article below, it appears more likely than ever that my children and myself will be in the same boat.
If there is anyone around to write a history of this era, I have no doubts that it will be a savage indictment of our indifference to the world around us, and our unrelenting and avaricious consumption and profligate waste. -Thomas]
The Heat Death of American Dreams
By Ed Merta
Wednesday 12 October 2005
Overshadowed by last month's hurricanes was the news that global warming is likely to accelerate much faster than feared, and it's already begun.
A number of news reports and commentary on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have linked the disasters to global warming. Almost nobody noticed a crucial scientific finding, two weeks earlier, that foreshadows disasters on a far greater scale in the decades to come.
According to August 11 articles in the magazine New Scientist and the British newspaper the Guardian, a pair of scientists, one Russian and one British, report that global warming is melting the permafrost in the West Siberian tundra. The news made a little blip in the international media and the blogosphere, and then it disappeared.
Why should anyone care? Because melting of the Siberian permafrost will, over the next few decades, release hundreds of millions of tons of methane from formerly frozen peat bogs into the atmosphere. Methane from those bogs is at least twenty times more potent as a greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide that currently drives global warming. Dumping such a huge quantity of methane on top of already soaring CO2 levels will drive global temperatures to the upper range of increases forecast for the remainder of this century.
See AlterNet: Blogs: The Mix: Right-wing propaganda marches in Parade Magazine for a good example of the Right sneaking a propaganda point out to the mainstream public. The drumbeat for war against Venezuela is ramping up.
[Readers will recall my previous articles on the topic. Looks like the 'net roots has been successful at raising the funds to hire professional pollsters, and the results are beginning to come in. Rove is above to lose his ability to spin media coverage of public opinion unchallenged. -Thomas]
For Immediate Release: October 11, 2005
By a margin of 50% to 44%, Americans want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush if he lied about the war in Iraq, according to a new poll commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org, a grassroots coalition that supports a Congressional investigation of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
The poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, the highly-regarded non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,001 U.S. adults on October 6-9.
The poll found that 50% agreed with the statement:
"If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable by impeaching him."
44% disagreed, and 6% said they didn't know or declined to answer. The poll has a +/- 3.1% margin of error.
Among those who felt strongly either way, 39% strongly agreed, while 30% strongly disagreed.
[click on the link above for more infomation]
I finally went vegetarian several months ago, and one of my main reasons was the environmental impact of meat production. The other day, however, a friend pointed out that soy foods take a great deal of energy to produce too. So is there really that big of an environmental difference between TVP [textured vegetable protein] and free-range beef? And how does dairy compare? Should I just try to stick to nuts and beans?Go see the answer at: On soy vs. meat .
There is an Important Act Blue Poll to determine where to put resources:
Three weeks ago, Ben Rahn from Act Blue posted a diary on MyDD telling people that Act Blue was expanding so that people could donate to candidates at the state level, rather than just the federal level. While Act Blue has already made this possible for candidates in Virginia, and while the eventual goal is to expand to all fifty states before the 2006 elections, Act Blue decided to look to the netroots to determine which four states it should expand into next. From that diary, a lively discussion of nominations ensued, both here and at other blogs. Now, it is the moment of truth. The list of nominations has been narrowed to twenty states, and an Instant Runoff poll has been created to determine which four states Act Blue will move into next. Here can find the poll here:
Please take this poll very seriously. Rank all twenty states. Do not just choose your home state. Since Act Blue will eventually move into all fifty states, select those states that you feel are of the most pressing concern to Democrats nationwide. If you have a blog, please a post a link to this poll on that blog. The voting will Friday at midnight.
Again, I urge you to participate in this poll. This is an important project, and you get to decide where it will expand into first.
October 11, 2005
But other soldiers, supporting the Republican war against our Constitution's guarantee of a free press, are allowed to continue. See Firepower Forward: Are Journalism and Patriotism Mutually Exclusive?
They [Newsweek] have taken to dropping the "Al" and referring to the ultra-extremist terror sponsoring organization as just "Queda". Kind of a nick name between buddies. But then why wouldn't these two organizations be on the best of terms? After all, it was Newsweek that spawned the rioting in Afghanistan which killed 19 people over the stories of Koran desecration at Guantanemo Bay which were exaggerated at best.So the press is "buddies" with al Queda and helps kill American soldiers... Do posts like this encourage the ongoing killing of journalists in Iraq?
[. . .] It's clear that Newsweek's intent with this article is to sow doubt and malcontent about our progress in Afghanistan. This is precisely the intent of the Taliban's information campaign. ... The Schismatics in Dante's "Inferno", those who sowed discord during their lifetime, were punished throughout eternity in the 7th circle of hell by being cleaved nearly in two then allowed to heal before the process is repeated. I would like to think that I am not a vindicative person, but someone will have to explain to me why I should not wish this punishment on the likes of Newsweek.
Also see Targeting Journalists below.
October 10, 2005
The Right seems oddly obsessive about MoveOn. For example, today's Moveon.org Embraces Nazi Defender by Joel Mowbray, just one of a constant stream of similar smear attacks.
Here's the reason. It is a strategy. One thing the Right does well is think ahead and strategize. MoveOn is a major force in Progressive politics. The Right knows that MoveOn can raise lots of money and motivate lots of people to support candidates and issues. So the Right is working now, in advance of the next election, to "discredit" and "marginalize" MoveOn. It is one step in a plan. They are laying groundwork, preparing the public now for later attacks and smears on Progressive candidates. By spending time now when they are relatively unopposed and MoveOn is relatively undefended they are working to "raise MoveOn's negatives" and form a bad feeling about MoveOn in people's minds. Then they can later "demand" that candidates repudiate the marginalized MoveOn and try to make them refuse to accept their money and support. Get it? At the very least it will cause candidates to be distracted and on the defense.
Nor is it just the White House that is contaminated by it: when senior Republican leaders in Congress, who have presided over an orgy of public spending and pork-barrel, claimed that there was no fat left to cut in federal spending and that “after 11 years of Republican majority we’ve pared it down pretty good”, it was clear that the inmates had indeed taken over the asylum.
There is now a distinctive fin de regime stink about Republican Washington. Karl Rove, the President’s eminence grise, has been called to testify before a grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA officer’s name. The cronyism of Ms Miers’ nomination to the Supreme Court is now the rule in DC, not the exception: for example, Julie Myers, another inexperienced Bush lawyer, has been nominated to run the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. She has no convincing qualifications for this post, a vital one in an age of terror; but she is the niece of retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers and the wife of the Department of Homeland Security secretary’s chief of staff.
This guy is right: Bush's form of "conservatism" bears no resemblance to the term as conventionally defined... and this is likely to come back to bite him in 2006/2008.
To compete with stingy auto suppliers overseas, Delphi needs to pay its hourly workers less.More at the link.
To compete with corporations at home, Michigan's fourth-largest company needs to pay its top managers more.
Got it? It's all about competition.
That's why Delphi wants its hourly workers to absorb a 63% pay cut, and why it filed for bankruptcy when they refused to swallow wage concessions on the company's tight schedule.
And that's why, on the eve of its bankruptcy filing, Delphi sweetened severance packages for 21 top executives, who'll now get 18 months' salary, plus part of their regular bonuses, if their jobs are eliminated.
[. . .] I think we in Michigan are about to find out exactly how angry workers can get.
... But I believe we are very near the point where the frustration of the working poor and newly unemployed may erupt in acts of violence the likes of which haven't been seen in this country since the earliest days of the labor movement.
And the way things are going, it's only a matter of time before top executives at Michigan's largest public companies are unable to walk through their factories or walk their dogs beyond the perimeters policed by their invisible security fences without protection.
Another company pension going away. Thousands more families losing health insurance and jobs. Another community devestated. Another batch of executives getting rich off of it.
In Journalists and the Military a right-wing blog puts voice to what the Right means with their "liberal media" accusations.
At some point, you have to pick sides. Not choosing a side is choosing not to be on our side.In other words, anything other than the right-wing viewpoint will not be tolerated. And it links to posts calling the press "anti-America" and advocating press blackouts when the press won't report what Republican governments want them to report.
This is especially chilling because the context of the post is "terrorists." Think about where these people are taking the country.
(Through The Daou Report)
Update Here is my point about the BlackFive post. It mixes up the interests of "conservative movement" Republicans with the interests of the military. This supposedly "military" site is all about "the Right," from the "Buy the Right" banner to the "ACLU - Enemy of the State Conservative t-shirts" and "annoy a liberal" ads to the "Blogs for Bush" banner to the Ann Coulter book, to the WorldNetDaily links. It is solidly embedded in the "conservative movement." (Is it funded? Many are.)
It's just like how the Republican Party has skillfully done the same thing with Christianity. Intermingled in people's minds the interests of the Party with the interests of Christians, making Christians think they have a religious duty to support The Party, but it's all really just to get votes for tax cuts and no-bid contracts for friends and donors.
Yet another sad story of Republican cruelty to Americans: Yellow Dog Blog: Another Cruel Vote By Senate Republicans,
I wrote on Thursday about an under-the-radar Senate vote that happened the previous week, in which Republicans voted to gut the Community Services Block Grant program, which provides money to help low-income people with essential living expenses such as housing, food and heating costs.Go to Yellow Dog Blog to follow links and read more.
But there were the Republicans last week, pulling their Simon-Legree act again – except this time, cruelly yanking the plug on a bill that would have fully funded the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Sponsored by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and co-sponsored by 28 senators, the amendment was defeated 50-49 last week by a point of order that blocked an up-or-down vote.
October 9, 2005
So I'm looking for a webcam to use for videoconferencing with friends, and maybe to set up on a server so we can see if the dogs are getting on the couch when we're at work. (The next step is setting up a speaker.) I was cruising around the web looking for comparisons and reviews and came across this great Webcam Reviews site. I am recommending the site, even if you aren't looking for a webcam just because of what this guy is doing.
Meanwhile, does anyone have any recommendations? What about the Logitech QuickCam Orbit MP? Is the wide-angle too wide? Does it work? Does it have a good quality picture? Any other recommendations?
Diana Moon's Letter from Gotham has started up again. She told me a couple of weeks ago and I forgot to link. Diana has an independent point of view and her posts are always interesting.
October 8, 2005
Request: could everyone reading this please leave a comment, so I can work on the problem? If it doesn't show up right away it will show up later.
I'm still trying to figure out problems with comments. For some reason it is filtering most comments into a "junk" catergory until I come along and manually move them. This happens even when I have set the commenter as someone to "trust". Anyone already registered with TypeKey is able to leave a comment that shows up immediately. Does anyone know enough about Moveable Type 3.2to help figure this out?
Update - One thing is for sure. If you register with TypeKey you don't have any problems leaving a comment - here and other blogs.
Update II - I found out there is a "junk threshold" setting and I had it set to 5, which seemed reasonable. But maybe you all need to have better opinions because that might be why it was junking so many comments. I changed it to 2 and will try it lower if need be.
Update III Threshold of two didn't work. Several comments junked. (I had to manually unjunk them.) So now it's one. A filter that rejects everything (except typekey registrants) when it's set down to two is pretty much useless.
According to the L.A. Weekly, ChevronTexaco has lavished $1.6 million on "state-level politicians and party committees since 2000" ... including donating $25,000 to Treasurer Phil Angelides (now a leading candidate for governor in 2006, and a self-declared "progressive").
This a minor data point buried in a long and very detailed and interesting article about how a small group of "moderate" Democrats continually frustrate efforts to clean up California's polluted air (which apparently costs the state approximately $10 billion in public health costs a year)... but it is symbolic of the level of influence these large corporate polluters have (and shouldn't). It would be a very powerful statement on Phil Angelides' part to formally and emphatically declare himself free of influence from one of the top corporate polluters in state by returning the $25,000 donated to him by ChevronTexaco.
I'd even be willing to help compensate for the loss, by donating $25 on the condition that he take this action... are there a thousand other Californians who would do the same? Maybe a more prominent (and organized and connected) blogger could take up this cause? I think I'm going to write speakoutca.org and point them to this article.
Comments? Thoughts? Reactions?
October 7, 2005
I have upgraded to a Movable Type 3.2, which is supposed to have some anti-spam features. So I have operened up comments, and they do not require TypeKey registration. Let's see how this works out.
From Sen. Reid's blog Give 'Em Hell Harry, part of a letter to the President from several Senators:
"We are increasingly concerned that Iraq could become what it was not before the war: a haven for radical fundamentalist terrorists determined to attack America and American interests. It is clear our window of opportunity is closing and you need to immediately provide a strategy for success in order to prevent this outcome.Where I think this is heading: If the President can't outline a strategy of success the only alternative is to get out.
[. . .] Other comments by General Casey last week also suggest that your Administration lacks a political strategy to end the insurgency that matches the heroic efforts of our military on the ground.
[. . .] We are equally dismayed that your Administration has failed to produce broad international participation, both in the months leading up to the war and the years since the conflict started. There appears to be no strategy to involve regional countries as there was in the Balkans in the 1990s and in Afghanistan in late 2001 and 2002.
[. . .] The only thing as disturbing as the obvious lack of progress is the Administration�s continuing failure to level with the American people about the current situation in Iraq. This failure only serves to erode the public�s confidence about your Administration�s plan for Iraq.
[. . .] In times past, when asked to explain your Iraq policy to our troops and the American people, you have chosen to reply that we need to, “stay the course.” But simply staying the current course is not a strategy for success. We are convinced now more than ever that we need to change the course and the first step is for your Administration to immediately provide answers to these important questions. Simply saying that these answers are “unknowable” or “condition based” is no longer satisfactory. Our troops, their families, and the American people deserve better."
Always remember the Seeing the Forest Rule: When Republicans are accusing, it usuay means they are guilty of that which they are accusing others of. This is more of a catch-up attempt. But here we are with a Republican trying to deflect the charges against him by accusing the other side of what he is doing. Could it be more obvious?
October 6, 2005
A fascistic streak of violent anger lies very close to the surface in one faction of the contemporary right wing, and is openly expressed on many of the most popular winger blogs. This faction often seems more interested in venting than in details of policy or political results of any kind, and despite their militaristic obsessions, they often seem to hate liberals more than they hate any of our nation's foreign enemies. The citations and links below give some insight into the roots of this kind of politics.
The Just World
"Zick Rubin of Harvard University and Letitia Anne Peplau of UCLA have conducted surveys to examine the characteristics of people with strong beliefs in a just world. They found that people who have a strong tendency to believe in a just world also tend to be more religious, more authoritarian, more conservative, more likely to admire political leaders and existing social institutions, and more likely to have negative attitudes toward underprivileged groups. To a lesser but still significant degree, the believers in a just world tend to 'feel less of a need to engage in activities to change society or to alleviate plight of social victims.'
Ironically, then, the belief in a just world may take the place of a genuine commitment to justice. For some people, it is simply easier to assume that forces beyond their control mete out justice. When that occurs, the result may be the abdication of personal responsibility, acquiescence in the face of suffering and misfortune, and indifference towards injustice." (Link; via Respectful of Otters)
The Authoritarian Personality
"In the June 19, 2005, issue of The New York Times Magazine, the journalist Russell Shorto interviewed activists against gay marriage and concluded that they were motivated not by a defense of traditional marriage, but by hatred of homosexuality itself. 'Their passion,' Shorto wrote, 'comes from their conviction that homosexuality is a sin, is immoral, harms children and spreads disease. Not only that, but they see homosexuality itself as a kind of disease, one that afflicts not only individuals but also society at large and that shares one of the prominent features of a disease: It seeks to spread itself.' It is not difficult to conclude where those people would have stood on the F scale.
Not all opponents of gay marriage, of course, are incipient fascists; the left, to its discredit, frequently dismisses the views of conservative opponents on, for example, abortion, church-state separation, or feminism as irrational bigotry, when the conclusions of most people who hold such views stem from deeply held, and morally reasoned, religious convictions. At the same time, many of the prominent politicians successful in today's conservative political environment adhere to a distinct style of politics that the authors of The Authoritarian Personality anticipated. Public figures, in fact, make good subjects for the kinds of analysis upon which the book relied; visible, talkative, passionate, they reveal their personalities to us, allowing us to evaluate them." (Link)
An example of proto-fascism, with a Democratic response.
"Do Democrats want a Civil War?
Many more examples would be easy to find. Note that it's the prosecution of Tom Delay for massive corruption which has called forth this bloodthirsty language.
Hunter responds on the Daily Kos
I think that Hunter responds quite appropriately. The savage nature of the contemporary political world is something we have to deal with. This has been going on for more than ten years (at least since "Free Republic" and Rush Limbaugh showed up) We can't pretend it isn't happening.
(Cross Posted at Adam Kotsko)
Even though they were used to tabulate a third of the votes in last year's presidential run, nearly all electronic voting machines in use today remain black boxes without external methods of verifying that the results have not been altered or sabotaged.Think about what is at stake in our elections. ALL THE POWER AND MONEY IN THE WORLD AND ALL OF OUR LIVES. So, are the stakes high enough to encourage people with sophisticated resources to try to cheat? Is there any question about it?
Possible threats to an accurate electronic vote tally are legion. They include everything from worms and viruses infecting Microsoft Windows-equipped systems to equipment tampering, code alteration and ballot box stuffing...
In principle, there should be an easy solution: Require that e-voting machines include what's known as a voter-verifiable paper trail. That would permit a voter to review a physical printout with his or her selections--perhaps under glass so the receipt can't be removed--which would also provide a way to perform a manual recount, if necessary.
But a complicated mix of partisan politics and the relative paucity of voter-verifiable products available today has delayed the switch to improved technology, according to election experts interviewed by CNET News.com.
The usual complaint about the media - imagine if this were the Clinton White House... But no, this is the National Security, Defense, Protect Us White House that knows what it is doing...
I came across Find the Brownie:
The objective of this blog is to find an important government job occupied by a person with no apparent qualifications other than strong personal, political, or business ties to a member of the administration.
October 5, 2005
Speak Out California has drafted a Progressive Values Pledge. They hope to gather thousands of signatures from around the state, and plan to distribute it to our elected "leaders" in Sacramento along with a demand that they commit to the agenda outlined.
Which happens to be solidly progressive and humane. Click on more to read it, and click the URL above (or the one at the end of the posting) to sign on.
We, the people of California, hereby resolve to strengthen our sense of purpose, our commitment to our own communities and to the common good. We believe in the promise of California, the place where anything is possible. By working toward this vision, we reaffirm our responsibility to deliver that promise to our children and grandchildren, and to all future generations.
We envision a California:
Where everyone is guaranteed access to quality health care.
Where we recognize the innate potential of every child and have created a free and open public school system and effective youth programs that reflect the depth and breadth of that belief.
Where all people who work for a living are paid a livable wage so that they may provide for their families: decent shelter, healthful food, quality child care.
Where the economic system rewards environmental stewardship, and where the power of the marketplace is focused on responsible business practices that promote economic and environmental justice.
Where communities are encouraged to create safe pedestrian, bicycle and transit friendly neighborhoods, and and we are all free from dependence on cars and on nonrenewable sources of energy.
Where our greatest natural resources are protected and held as a public trust, so that we may always find in them the peace and serenity there that we enjoy today.
Where we've made a strong commitment to scientific accuracy, and made preventing and curing the diseases that continue to afflict humanity a top research priority.
Where families have more time at home to spend with each other, and to spend actively participating in their communities.
Where we celebrate the racial diversity of our state and enforce equality and fairness in education, delivery of health services and access to employment and business opportunities.
Where women are empowered and in control of the decisions that affect their bodies, where they are represented equally in elected positions in government and treated equally in the workplace.
Where consensual, adult relationships based in love and respect are honored and recognized - regardless of sexual orientation.
Where we work to ensure that all leaders elected to run our state share with us the belief that government is a critical partner in providing opportunity for all people.
Where elections are assured to be open, free and fair and where undue financial influence no longer taints the electoral process.
Where the politics of fear is replaced by the politics of hope.
Sign the Progressive Values Pledge!
Simplified: Suppose the entire economy is you and me and a dollar and a car. You have one dollar, I have the car and I want to sell it. The most that car can cost is $1 because that is all you have. Now, suppose that somehow you have $2 instead of $1. Now the car can cost $2. That is inflation: the "supply of money" increased while the amount of things to sell did not.
Several people have written to me, concerned about Bush's statements about the military and bird flu in his press conference yesterday. Bush Proposes Using Military to Fight Bird Flu.
My feeling is that we should have boosted the Center for Disease Control's budget a long time ago, instead of cut it. We should have built government-owned vaccine factories. We should have stockpiled anti-flu drugs. We should have put money into research and disease control resources and disaster planning and relief. We should have helped boost the budget of the World Health Organization. But we didn't. We chose tax cuts and war instead.
And now we're faced with the emergence of a disease that has the potential to infect a third of us, killing more than half of those infected. Damn right we should use the military and every other means to stop the spread of this disease should it emerge and reach our country.
A comment I left to this post: TalkLeft: Harriet Miers: Pro-Life and Pro-Roe v. Wade?:
It occurs to me that Bush's insistence that he has never talked about abortion with Meirs ought to be a problem for the Religious Right. If they accept that he tells the truth, it means the man just is not concerned enough about their primary issue to bring it up even once with someone he has kknown for ten years. His "conservatism" really is just a front, a put-on, a neo-con "Straussian" gambit to get power.
On the other hand, the Dominionists have no use for truth, seeing their role as warriors for God, ready to use any means to seize power and establish a theocracy under the authority of God. Dobson's quote this morning indicates this might be the case.
So, which is it? That he really does not talk about abortion, and therefore is engaged in a Straussian use-religion-to-achieve-power strategy? Or that he is engaged in a stealth strategy to turn power over to the Dominionists. Either way, democracy is not part of the equation.
October 4, 2005
This is a follow up to the "Follow the money... in Ohio" posting.
President Scott Syphax: $574,535
Founder Don F. Harris: $185,000 (for 15 hours a week!)
Other officers (may include Harris) earning six-figure salaries: 9
Pretty nice, eh? How many folks do you know in the non-profit world that earn this type of money?
Dominion Homes appears to be embarassed by the attention paid to this program - they've dropped it from their web site.
The Nehemiah Program: Dominion Homes is proud to be a participant in the Nehemiah Home Ownership Program. This program revolves around the donation or gift of funds to Homebuyers from a not-for-profit organization called the Nehemiah Corporation. You can get more information on the Nehemiah program by clicking here or by visiting their website at www.getdownpayment.com.
They've also dropped the $0 Down Option ALT tag for the graphic on the page, dropped a paragraph about Balloon Mortgages, and dropped a paragraph about "Other Non-Traditional Programs" and seeing a "Dominion Homes sales representative or Dominion Homes Financial Services® loan counselor for details." ... generally shortening the page and dropping references to higher risk programs.
P.S. Here's a 2002 article from BankRate.com that describes the issues in more detail.
In his press conference today Bush referred to the Democratic Party as "The Democrat Party."
Some of us are old enough to recognize the phrase's John Birch Society origins.
[UPDATE: See entry above on the scandalously high salaries ($185,000 for 15 hours a week?!?) that Nememiah Corp. of America pays it's executives. -Thomas]
"Homebuilders across the country, including Dominion Homes, have found a way around a Federal law barring sellers from giving money directly to buyers for a down payment. They route the money through charities such as the Nehemiah Corp. of America, a faith-based group in California. Nehemiah provides down payments for both existing and new homes, and its relationship with Dominion is the largest of its kind in central Ohio between a builder and charity.
"Nehemiah uses a loophole in federal regulations that allows charities to provide the 3% down payment required to qualify for Federal Housing Administration mortgages. An uncounted number of copycats have followed, leading to an explosion of 'zero-down' loans. Federal authorities do not regulate or track such organizations."
Now if you're like me, your first reaction to the above statement was something along the lines of "That's outrageous! How can that be legal? Can you really (ab)use a non-profit chairity for private gain like this?"
The answer is, I don't know - and I hope someone more capable than me actually takes a hard look at that question. However, Dave taught that one of the most important things you can do when trying to understand something political is to follow the money. As a result, here's what I do know, courtesy of a few minutes research at the PoliticalMoneyLine web site (there's probably a non-commercial alternative, but this is good enough for me):
A heck of a lot of money has been slathered on politicians in Ohio from individuals associated with Dominion Homes (primarily the Borror family, which runs the company). Well over $100,000 since 2002, and even more since 1998 (going all the way back to 1984),
Here's what I searched for:
a) Dominion Homes as an employer
b) Borror (last name of their Chairman and CEO, Doug Borror) as an individual donor
c) Borror as an employer (Borror Corporation appears to have been a company run by the Borror family)
Lots of results.
I haven't totalled it up exactly (since I'm not a muckracking journalist), but just over the last three election cycles, a rough estimate says that between $90,000 and $100,000 has been donated by the Borror family alone. On top of that, $20,000 was donated to the National Republican Governors Association during that period by Dominion Homes. And even more by employees (~ $2000 for the 2006 election cycle, ~$30,000 for the 2004 cycle, ~$4000 for the 2002 cycle, exclusive of the Borror family). Pretty widely spread too.
That kind of money buys a lot of access. A lot of opportunities to plead your case, and point out what a good citizen you and your corporation have been. A lot of reasons for the people in power to not look too closely at the ethics of whatever is happening with that apparently captive non-profit organization.
Anyone in Ohio care to ask your local politicians how they feel about taking money from these folks? Willing to look into whether anything else interesting emerges from a close look at the numbers and donor lists by someone who knows more than I do?
(See the follow-up post: $185,000 for 15 hours a week?)
October 3, 2005
The more I look around, the more it's looking like 2006 could be a big year for Democrats nationwide, federal, state and local. This could be a real sea-change election.
So here's what I'm getting at: Do you live in a Congressional or State Representative/Assembly/Whatever-it's-called-where-you-live or County Supervisor district that usually goes Republican? This could be your year! Find out what it takes to run for office and sign up! Or talk to people you think should run.
The blogs will help you win.
My wife was talking to the owner of our favorite local Indian restaurant. He's saying the dinner business is way down. He thought it was just him, but asking around found out that other restaurants are also seeing quite a downturn. They all say it's gas prices.
(P.S. in the picture on the Little India website, my wife is the top left dancer.)
I'd like to coin a term for the times in which we find ourselves: The Propaganda Age.
We've lived through the Jet Age, Atomic Age, Space Age and Computer Age. We've experienced the Vietnam Era, the Depression era and the McCarthy Era.
Now we are in the Propaganda Age. Everything is marketing. Everything is PR. Everything is for effect. Everything is distraction: Look over there! Everything is misdirection: look at the left hand while the right hand picks your pocket. We’re told that things we see right in front of us are not what we see.
We live in a time when what matters -- the only thing that matters -- is what you can make people think.
So have you heard of Miers before this? Has anyone? No, she is Bush's personal lawyer. That, and only that, is why she was nominated.
I don't have anything bad to say about Meirs, and have actually heard good things. She might be a good pick, and she probably isn't one of the dangerous right-wingnut candidates -- but who knows?
I was imagining what it must be like to be a distinguished law professor or judge (even a far-right wingnut professor or judge), with an impeccable career behind me and every reason to think I might be nominated -- and then to hear about this choice. All that study, all that work, all that effort, all that dedication... for what? What happens inside of such a person at a time like this?
FEMA and Katrina and the thousands of people left without food or water or medical help showed us a dangerous side of cronyism - the elevation of the corrupt and the purging of the competent. This is another side of cronyism: the denegration of effort.
The Alonsos' story is about just one family in one property development, singling out one homebuilder and one abusive financial scheme. There are undoubtedly many, many variations on this theme, and the full story won't be written until the housing bubble really unwinds -- much as we didn't find out about Enron, WorldCom, and those assorted problems until the tide went out on the stock mania.
October 2, 2005
This is the lead from a recent Reuters piece:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush sought on Saturday to dispel concerns about the readiness of U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces, declaring himself "encouraged" even though his top generals say the number of battalions that can fight insurgents without help has dropped.
Later on, the article reports that the top two generals in Iraq recently told Congress that the number of battalions that can go into combat with insurgents without the help of the U.S. military has dropped to one from three (out of a hundred).
Obviously, the Bushies believe that the moment they acknowledge that things are going other than well in Iraq, their base of support will go poof. Unfortunately for them, even crazed right wingers are beginning to wake up and smell the coffee.
[When I saw this, I had to share it. The author is a personal friend, I met him while he and I were serving as chairperson and secretary of the National Lavender Greens Caucus. -Thomas]
I've wanted to write something
A Terrible Adventure
Wrath of Mother Nature
but the 10 o'clock news got to it first
but not before it got to them
poverty @ 160 miles per hour
blowing apart lives
knocking down life lines
lost precious days
that could have saved them
except no one really cared
no value, no economic importance
that refuse to return to refugee camps
or an astrodome ghetto
that refuse to give up what little they have
paid for in blood and history
written in floor boards
in Creole and Cajun
in halls frequented by Octoroon ghosts
where the third world isn't an intellectual exercise
but another name for the Gulf Coast
Rita/Katrina just cleverly named smokescreens
because this is no time for partisan politics
according to the Republicans/Democrats/Wealthy/Insured
the ones with the means to get out early
but the latest poll of a 1000 dead disagree
they say that the time for politics is now
whatever will give meaning
to needless deaths
32 elders left in their beds
as water surrounded them
and they died from thirst
that's what happens
when a rescue is run like a horse show
and proper breeding determines who lives
and who gets put out to pasture
nothing I could have written
would have imagined India & Venezuela
offering aid to the world's most powerful nation
truth is stranger than fiction
and hurricanes never hit the land of make believe
children don't go missing
somewhere over the rainbow
this must be real
as the lost stare out from CNN and FOX
which declared that this isn't about race
while black faces continue to flash across the screen
missing, missing, missing
last seen praying for a meal
a glass of water
that the police where guarding
from looters taking survival
into their own hands
providers doing what they could
to make it one more day
one more chance to find their children
despite the best efforts of FEMA and the EPA
hoping that they'll have a home to return to
if the real looters
don't get to them first
Halliburton, Fluor, and Bechtel
finding heaven in the hell of the meek
who shall inherit nothing
while the rich find new ways to pass through a needle
with an eye of a storm
into a "heckuva job"
never mind that this could have been prevented
never mind that this was predicted
no time for finger pointing
no time for explanation
while the FBI
finds the time
for a political assassination
another Puerto Rican murdered
in the fight for liberation
what could be more perfect
than an act of God cover-up
to draw eyes away from Iraq
where poor brown people die
like poor black people die
thrown to their deaths
in the race/class divide
a shallow grave
filled by the sons and daughters of
all chasing the American dream
into Kabul and Baghdad
into Port-au-Prince and Sarajevo
into broken promises and disillusionment
into weeping mothers that need no convincing
that Sheehan is right
that in America dreams have been outsourced
and so have the futures of 1,000,000 displaced
or so they want us to believe
but 1000 dead disagree
say it's time for a grassroots solution
poor people in motion
because 1,000,000 is an army
a liberation brigade
that says we will not go back to the ghettos
we will not go back to full time jobs that pay for a part-time life
we will not go back because that has been washed away
and the wave is moving forward
moving towards something that I can write
a blow by blow account of a capitalist knock-out
a Republican dissolution
a Democrat implosion
cuz truth is stranger than fiction
but sometimes fiction is truth waiting to happen
and this time we are making the news
acknowledging the surety that racism didn't end with slavery
that the war is on the poor and not on poverty
that we've paid for this invasion and that catastrophe with tomorrows wages
promising our children nothing but deficit and inflation
passing on an insurmountable debt to future generations
that this is pure insanity
and it will stop
because a tsunami is coming
1000 dead agree
that when it hits the change will be beyond imagining
-W. Brandon Lacy Campos
-September 30, 2005
From the author:
"I am going to be working on a chapbook in the near future, and I am planning on donating 5% of the proceeds to the Southern Partners Fund to help support the rebuilding of community organizing infrastructure in the Gulf Coast and another 5% to the GPUS earmarked for the LGC."
If you're interested in a chapbook of Brandon's work, you can write him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Left Coaster has a too-late scoop on our new Chief Justice. Was he part of the violent mob that shut down the vote counting in Florida in 2000? Look at the pictures.
The Left Coaster is also forced to move to the TypeKey registration for comments.
October 1, 2005
Go see The Saturday Cartoons at Yellow Dog Blog.
I've seen a lot of speculation about Judith Miller's decision to testify to the grand jury after three months in jail for refusing to do so. People are asking what it was that changed, and no one seems quite sure -- nobody seems to believe the official NYT / Miller story.
What I'd like to suggest is that it's just a case of a rat deserting a sinking ship. Based on what's been published already, the combination of the Iraq War, the Katrina fiasco, the Abramoff scandals, the Savafian arrest, and Delay's problems look as though they might cripple the Bush administration. Miller's visitors in jail come from the highest levels of the news media, so she has better sources of information than anyone else does and might know things we don't.
Maybe she realized that she's on her own now, and that her political friends might not be able either to protect her or to pay her off, so she decided to save her own ass and quit protecting her co-conspirators.
I hope so, anyway. Electing Bush twice was a tremendous failure of the political process, but if the prosecutors end up saving us, that's better than nothing!
The Guardian UK ends an article on the detention and killing of journalists in Iraq by U.S. Forces with this excerpt, which I think, even more than the disputably accidental shootings, should be headline news:
Earlier this week Reuters demanded the release of a freelance Iraqi cameraman after a secret tribunal ordered that he be detained indefinitely. Samir Mohammed Noor, a freelance cameraman working for Reuters, was arrested by Iraqi troops at his home in the northern town of Tal Afar four months ago. A US military spokesman has told the agency that a secret hearing held last week had found him to be "an imperative threat to the coalition forces and the security of Iraq". The news agency has demanded that he be released or given a chance to defend himself in open court. [Emphasis mine, TL]
As another article in the Navhind Times makes clear, this is the United States military (not the Iraqi government), arresting journalists without charge, refusing to disclose the charges against them, denying them any chance to defend themselves, detaining them for months before conducting secret hearings, and promising to review their cases "within six months" afterwards. There are at least four journalists being held this way. Awfully convenient way to get rid of troublesome reporters, eh?
Obviously, freedom of the press and due process have no place in a "free" and "democratic" Iraq. If this is what they're doing to members of the press with connections to international media, think of how screwed your average joe blow must be.
Want to know what the American public thinks (but isn't being asked about)? Want to upset Rove's apple cart, and that of the right-wing spinmeisters?
After Downing Street has begun collecting donations to pay for professional pollsters to ask the questions that aren't being asked. This is a very saavy initiative that could have a significant impact on the American political dialogue, in the media, in D.C., and across the kitchen table and at the water cooler. Not to mention being vastly more cost-effective than almost any other initiative imaginable. An ideal use of the blogosphere's fundraising potential.