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November 30, 2005

How Bad Is This?

New Scientist Breaking News - Failing ocean current raises fears of mini ice age,

The ocean current that gives western Europe its relatively balmy climate is stuttering, raising fears that it might fail entirely and plunge the continent into a mini ice age.

The dramatic finding comes from a study of ocean circulation in the North Atlantic, which found a 30% reduction in the warm currents that carry water north from the Gulf Stream.

The slow-down, which has long been predicted as a possible consequence of global warming, will give renewed urgency to intergovernmental talks in Montreal, Canada, this week on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

[. . .] But Bryden’s study has revealed that while one area of sinking water, on the Canadian side of Greenland, still seems to be functioning as normal, a second area on the European side has partially shut down and is sending only half as much deep water south as before. The two southward flows can be distinguished because they travel at different depths.

Nobody is clear on what has gone wrong. Suggestions for blame include the melting of sea ice or increased flow from Siberian rivers into the Arctic. Both would load fresh water into the surface ocean, making it less dense and so preventing it from sinking, which in turn would slow the flow of tropical water from the south. And either could be triggered by man-made climate change. Some climate models predict that global warming could lead to such a shutdown later this century.

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Cute

Hedgehog babies.

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Tragedy in Crawford, Texas

Bush Presidential Library Destroyed by Flood.

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Just Discovered: Truthdig

I just came across Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines. Looks good.

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Challenge - Prove That Voting Machines Accurately Record Votes

Suppose you could get every bug out of every program that runs every company's electronic voting machines. Suppose you can make sure that there is no way a technician has installed new chips the day before the election. Suppose you can absolutely guarantee that no hacker can get into the system. Suppose you can show me every line of the code from the machine AND prove to me that is the same code that is in every machine on election day. Suppose you find a way to assure me that every official, employee, etc. that comes into contact with any machine is not corrupt. Suppose that the disk drive and memory in the machine could be manufactured in a way that it never, ever dropped a bit. Suppose there were a way to safely transmit the results from every machine to the county's vote tabulator without possibility of error or compromise. And the suppose you can guarantee all of the SAME conditions for the country's vote tabulator machines.

When all of that is done there is still a problem. You still can not prove that the voting machine correctly recorded the way I voted. You can not prove this because there is no method for proving it -- no way to double check.

I'm supposed to touch a screen and then just trust that the machine correctly records my vote. Right.

Suppose that every computer expert in the world decided that the machines were beyond any possibility whatsoever of being tampered with. (Set aside for a minute that it is the computer experts - the people who understand computers - who are sounding the warnings about the possibility of fraud from these machines.) And suppose that every politician, every authority figure, every credible organization declared that these machines are beyond question. Suppose that even every "fringe conspiracy nut" in the world issued forth with assurances that the machines accurately recorded votes.

There is still a problem. You still can not prove that the voting machine correctly recorded the way I voted. You can not prove this because there is no method for proving it. There is no way to double-check.

There is no way to prove that the votes were accurately recorded. Even if you ask every single person how they voted and compare that to the results, there is no way to prove they told you the truth.

So if even one person accused that the election was fraudulent, there would be no way to prove that it was not. And that necessarily brings into question the legitimacy of the election - at least for that one person.

Now, suppose that after the voter touches the screen and finishes voting the voting machine prints a paper ballot. The voter takes that paper ballot out of the voting booth, inspects it, decides that the ballot shows the same votes as the voter intended it to show and drops it into a ballot box. This changes everything. It no longer matters if a technician changed the chips in the machine the day before the election, or a hacker altered the software, or the source code was compromised, or a politician or employee was corrupted. It no longer matters if the information from the machine is correctly transmitted or the county tabulator functions correctly. It no longer matters because there is a way to double-check the results and prove to everyone that the election returns are accurate.

It is so simple. Why is it so difficult make this the standard in a country that is supposed to be the beacon of democracy and legitimacy?

But it's more than just that. Why would anyone think to make a machine that didn't provide a way to prove that the results are accurate in the first place? Why would a voting machine company think that there would be an election official anywhere who would not laugh them out of their office if they tried to sell such a machine? And why would a voting machine company actively resist the additional revenue they would receive from selling the printers?

And, finally, why would one political party's leadership actively resist efforts to provide voting machines that can be trusted?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:47 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Sign The Petition! -- Another Today's Voting Machines Post

Support H.R. 550--Verified Voting is Vital!

I got there by following MyDD :: Verified Voting Now linking to Big Push to Support Congressman Holt's H.R. 550 which links to SIGN THE PETITION TODAY! which says,

There are many politically contentious issues in election reform, but making sure votes are counted accurately is not one of them. Because of its narrow scope, its realistic goals, and its strong bi-partisan support, with 159 co-sponsors both Democrat and Republican, H.R. 550 is our best hope to restore integrity and voter confidence to our electoral process - the very foundation of a representative democracy.

We urge you to pass H.R. 550 as written immediately.

There is a list of other blogs talking about this here.

Skippy says verified voting--time to do something

Shakespeare's Sister
says "Nothing we do matters if we don’t have fair elections."

Big Brass Blog has ... well... the same thing because it's cross-posted.

Pandagon has Making sure your vote counts,

The reverberations from the 2000 and 2004 voting irregularities are still being felt around the country. When the integrity of voting becomes a mysterious black box of confusion controlled by corporate interests, our democracy is at risk.
Brilliant at Breakfast says
I've taken a fair amount of crap from our wingnut trolls over the past year and a half, and even more before then from Republicans who seem to think that unverifiable voting is A-OK by them -- especially when the machines are built and programmed by companies that support Republicans.
A Mockingbird's Medly has IT'S OBVIOUS ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES AREN'T CUTTING THE MUSTARD...

Media in Trouble says

When you are done here, if you have a blog, go ahead and join the blogswarm.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:50 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Gays In Military - From the Right

The Daou Report is linking to this fascinating post and discussion of gays in the military at a usually right-wing site, BLACKFIVE: Lively discussion on gays in the military. It started with Blackfive's post Why can't gays serve proudly? saying "the ban on gays serving openly in the military is wrong."

"If I am lying by the road bleeding, I don't care if the medic coming to save me is gay. I just hope he is one of those buff gay guys who are always in the gym so he can throw me over his shoulder and get me out of there."

That sentiment fits not only gay troops, but any other group that experienced discrimination. The military has been the leader in leveling the playing field for women and minorities for a long time, and it is well past due that we terminate the farce of "Don't ask, don't tell".

Needless to say, there is reaction. Comments include

Leveling the playing field? More like being forced to conduct social experiments at the direction of a do-gooder Congress. The integration of women in the military into a variety of formerly prohibited MOSes over the last 15 years has been a hindrance to readiness, esprit d' corps, and probably recruitment.
Lots more over there. Go take a look.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:24 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Voting Machine Post

Through Raw Story, It's official: Diebold election bugware can't be trusted,

Diebold would rather lose all of its voting machine business in North Carolina than open its source code to state election officials as required by law, the Associated Press reports.
meanwhile California Republicans are fighting to get Diebold back into the state. Why?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:02 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

View From Outside Looking In

I received an e-mail from a reader who tried to leave a comment to my post The Salvador Option, in which I referenced the following from a couple of years ago:

Sometimes lately - since Bush v Gore - I imagine I'm looking at current events as if I am a future historian, tracking the record of "what happened" - sort of like how we now look back at Germany in the 30's, trying to understand how it happened.

I used to wonder, if I was in Germany in the 30's, at what point would I have seen what was happening, and gotten out?

The comment was rejected, maybe because of yesterday's bandwidth crisis. Here it is, from the e-mail:
My thoughts are the same. I made my own decision and left. I'm an expatriot US citizen and happier by the day for having the good fortune to have the option to leave.

As I watch what's happening in the US lately, and keep seeing those on the left exulting, it seems clear to me that the last cards are not yet on the table. In this poker game, the joker, held by the Bush administration, is wild, and can become anything it wants.

What will stop Cheney's cabal? A cowed populace? A military whose leadership has been overhauled? A Democratic party that, even now, can't get it together to take a strong stand? A religious minority that's thrilled with it all? A Supreme Court that's almost completely packed - and has already effectively announced where it stands with its constitution-breaking vote not to count the peoples' votes?

Now that the criminality of the Bush administration is in-your-face unavoidable to see, what's left to stop them? If it weren't for the damage that the US does and can do to the rest of the world, it wouldn't much matter to me. My own view of the American masses is that they deserve this bed they've made. (If I could see what was going on in spite of a tame news media, then others could have seen it too. They didn't because it wasn't popular or took a little effort.) But most of the rest of the world doesn't deserve it.

Still, one can hope. . .maybe the US will implode. There are certainly signs of it. The start of the housing bubble's hissing leak. The start of Japan's unhinging its currency from the dollar. The start of the collapse of the infrastructure. The collapsing healthcare system. The move of the middle class's jobs overseas.

The only sure thing now is that a time of major change is coming to the US, and it doesn't seem likely to be pleasant.

I don't agree that the public or the Democrats are to blame for Bush any more than I blame 13-year-olds for starting to smoke. Both place unsuspecting individuals against billion-dollar marketing campaigns. Both are the victims of long-term, well-researched psychological manipulation campaigns using state-of-the-art techniques.

The "conservative movement" takeover crept up silently and carefully "neutralized" potential opposition as initial steps in their strategy. (Read the 1983 "Leninist" strategy document outlining a plan for getting rid of Social Security, for example.) Only now are people coming to understand what has been happening to them.

Is it too late? Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:45 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 29, 2005

Routine Pro-Republican Propaganda In The Press

It's like living in the old Soviet Union where the press reported only what the government allowed, and all was propaganda. Now they are rallying around the Republicans. Expect worse as the pushback gets underway.

Just a few examples, from just today....

Cindy Sheehan Claims Photos Falsely Implied Her Book Signing was a Flop,

Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan and her book publisher are upset about Associated Press and Reuters photos that allegedly presented a misleading impression of her book signing last weekend in Texas.

... Photos of the event, carried widely on the Web, and then picked up by conservative blogs, seemed to imply that the book signing was a bust. The photos showed Sheehan looking dejected, sitting at a table, with no one in the tent except for a couple of photographers. The AP caption simply read: “Anti-war activist CindySheehan waits for people to show up at her book signing near President Bush's ranch on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005 in Crawford, Texas.”

The Washington Post, which carried Evan Vucci's AP photo, noted that at a protest the same day Sheehan had addressed a crowd of only about 100. “In the morning,” the Post observed, “Sheehan signed copies of her new book, being published this week, for an even smaller crowd,” although it cited bad weather as a possible factor.

But in a statement today, Sheehan accused “right-wing” sites of “spreading a false story that nobody bought my book at Camp Casey on Saturday. That is not true, I sold all 100 copies and got writer's cramp signing them. Photos were taken of me before the people got in line to have me sign the book. We made $2000 for the peace house.”

Talking Points Memo:

From tomorrow's Times ...
Though some Republican officials said Democrats in Congress were equally guilty of questionable behavior, including lobbyist-paid trips and underreporting of campaign contributions, they acknowledged that Republicans, because they control the White House and Congress, are being held to a higher standard by many voters. They also expressed shock and embarrassment at the extent of Mr. Cunningham's wrongdoing, which the president described on Tuesday as "outrageous."
And,
...Chris Matthews tonight on Hardball. Chris verifies that DC corruption is a bipartisan issue.
And more there.

Leave more examples in the comments.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:06 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Too Much Popular

Some of you probably noticed that Seeing the Forest exceeded its bandwidth a few times this month, including today. Each time this happened I increased the bandwidth, but the site has had lots more visitors lately, I have been using more pictures, and the new graphic banner has a bandwidth cost.

I'm taking steps to help keep this from happening. Fewer entries on the front page, pay for more bandwidth, etc. Apologies.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:54 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Iraq Will Never Have An Army

The actual title of James Fallows’ article in this month’s issue of The Atlantic is Why Iraq Has No Army: An orderly exit from Iraq depends on the development of a viable Iraqi security force, but the Iraqis aren't even close. The Bush administration doesn't take the problem seriously—and it never has.

A very important feature of many withdrawal plans that have been put forward recently include a feature that U.S. troops will stand down as soon as they can be replaced by Iraqi forces. That day is never going to come. James Fallows explains why.

[I]f American troops disappeared tomorrow, Iraq would have essentially no independent security force. Half its policemen would be considered worthless, and the other half would depend on external help for organization, direction, support. Two thirds of the army would be in the same dependent position, and even the better-prepared one third would suffer significant limitations without foreign help.

The moment when Iraqis can lift much of the burden from American troops is not yet in sight. Understanding whether this situation might improve requires understanding what the problems have been so far.

"On the current course we will have two options," I was told by a Marine lieutenant colonel who had recently served in Iraq and who prefers to remain anonymous. "We can lose in Iraq and destroy our army, or we can just lose. . . . In Vietnam we just lost," the officer said. "This would be losing with consequences."
Bush's Iraq war was lost the day that Iraq's Army was dismissed.
But here is the view generally accepted in the military: the war's planners, military and civilian, took the postwar transition too much for granted; then they made a grievous error in suddenly dismissing all members of the Iraqi army; and then they were too busy with other emergencies and routines to think seriously about the new Iraqi army.
The training expertise exists, but it is spread too thin.
The Green Berets and other elite units of the Special Forces have long prided themselves on being able to turn ragtag foreign armies into effective fighting units. But there weren't enough Special Forces units to go around, and the mainstream Army and Marine Corps were far less enthusiastic about training assignments. Especially at the start, training missions were filled mostly by people who couldn't get combat postings, and by members of the Reserves and the National Guard.

Training an army from scratch is not as easy as just setting up boot camps:

Everyone I interviewed about military training stressed that it was only trivially about teaching specific skills. The real goal was to transform a civilian into a soldier. The process runs from the individual level, to the small groups that must trust one another with their lives, to the combined units that must work in coordination rather than confusedly firing at one another, to the concept of what makes an army or a police force different from a gang of thugs.

It involves introducing a whole new culture to the Middle East:
In countless ways the trainers on site faced an enormous challenge. The legacy of Saddam Hussein was a big problem. It had encouraged a military culture in which officers were privileged parasites, enlisted soldiers were cannon fodder, and noncommissioned officers—the sergeants who make the U.S. military function—were barely known. "We are trying to create a professional NCO corps," Army Major Bob Bateman told me. "Such a thing has never existed anywhere in the region. Not in regular units, not in police forces, not in the military."

Ethnic and tribal hatreds going back generations:
The ethnic and tribal fissures in Iraq were another big problem. Half a dozen times in my interviews I heard variants on this Arab saying: "Me and my brother against my cousin; me and my cousin against my village; me and my village against a stranger." "The thing that holds a military unit together is trust," T. X. Hammes says. "That's a society not based on trust." A young Marine officer wrote in an e-mail, "Due to the fact that Saddam murdered, tortured, raped, etc. at will, there is a limited pool of 18-35-year-old males for service that are physically or mentally qualified for service. Those that are fit for service, for the most part, have a DEEP hatred for those not of the same ethnic or religious affiliation."

Language is of course a problem and it has not been addressed:
Language remained a profound and constant problem. One of the surprises in asking about training Iraqi troops was how often it led to comparisons with Vietnam. Probably because everything about the Vietnam War took longer to develop, "Vietnamization" was a more thought-through, developed strategy than "Iraqization" has had a chance to be. A notable difference is that Americans chosen for training assignments in Vietnam were often given four to six months of language instruction. That was too little to produce any real competence, but enough to provide useful rudiments that most Americans in Iraq don't have.
. . .

Every manual on counterinsurgency emphasizes the need for long-term personal relations. "We should put out a call for however many officers and NCOs we need," Daly says, "and give them six months of basic Arabic. In the course of this training we could find the ones suited to serve there for five years. Instead we treat them like widgets."


Not only is it hard work, it is boring:
All indications from the home front were that training Iraqis had become a boring issue. Opponents of the war rarely talked about it. Supporters reeled off encouraging but hollow statistics as part of a checklist of successes the press failed to report. President Bush placed no emphasis on it in his speeches. Donald Rumsfeld, according to those around him, was bored by Iraq in general and this tedious process in particular, neither of which could match the challenge of transforming America's military establishment.

This is the fundamental reason why America has already lost the Iraq war:
"No modern army using conventional tactics has ever defeated an insurgency," Terence Daly told me. Conventional tactics boil down to killing the enemy. At this the U.S. military, with unmatchable firepower and precision, excels. "Classic counterinsurgency, however, is not primarily about killing insurgents; it is about controlling the population and creating a secure environment in which to gain popular support," Daly says.

From the vast and growing literature of counterinsurgency come two central points. One, of course, is the intertwining of political and military objectives: in the long run this makes local forces like the Iraqi army more potent than any foreigners; they know the language, they pick up subtle signals, they have a long-term stake. The other is that defeating an insurgency is the very hardest kind of warfare. The United States cannot win this battle in Iraq. It hopes the Iraqis can.

At this point in his article Fallows drifts into fantasy with this Sub-title: IV. How to Leave With Honor

First, Fallows gives us a standard to judge success or “victory” in Iraq:

Let me suggest a standard for judging endgame strategies in Iraq, given the commitment the United States has already made. It begins with the recognition that even if it were possible to rebuild and fully democratize Iraq, as a matter of political reality the United States will not stay to see it through. (In Japan, Germany, and South Korea we did see it through. But while there were postwar difficulties in all those countries, none had an insurgency aimed at Americans.) But perhaps we could stay long enough to meet a more modest standard.

What is needed for an honorable departure is, at a minimum, a country that will not go to war with itself, and citizens who will not turn to large-scale murder. This requires Iraqi security forces that are working on a couple of levels: a national army strong enough to deter militias from any region and loyal enough to the new Iraq to resist becoming the tool of any faction; policemen who are sufficiently competent, brave, and honest to keep civilians safe. If the United States leaves Iraq knowing that non-American forces are sufficient to keep order, it can leave with a clear conscience—no matter what might happen a year or two later.

Fallows is realistic. America is not going to be able to train an Iraqi Army in a year or two. What Fallows refers to as “very long term commitments” is probably two decades at a minimum.

In the end the United States may not be able to leave honorably. The pressure to get out could become too great. But if we were serious about reconstituting an Iraqi military as quickly as possible, what would we do? Based on these interviews, I have come to this sobering conclusion: the United States can best train Iraqis, and therefore best help itself leave Iraq, only by making certain very long-term commitments to stay.


Here are the minimum requirements for producing that result. The numbering and titles in bold are my editorial additions to clarify just how big a task Fallows has described:

1. Make re-training the Iraqi Army a career path for officers.

Some of the changes that soldiers and analysts recommend involve greater urgency of effort, reflecting the greater importance of making the training succeed. Despite brave words from the Americans on the training detail, the larger military culture has not changed to validate what they do. "I would make advising an Iraqi battalion more career-enhancing than commanding an American battalion," one retired Marine officer told me. "If we were serious, we'd be gutting every military headquarters in the world, instead of just telling units coming into the country they have to give up twenty percent of their officers as trainers."

2. Launch a major effort to provide translators and teach American soldiers and officers Arabic.

The U.S. military does everything in Iraq worse and slower than it could if it solved its language problems. It is unbelievable that American fighting ranks have so little help. Soon after Pearl Harbor the U.S. military launched major Japanese-language training institutes at universities and was screening draftees to find the most promising students. America has made no comparable effort to teach Arabic. Nearly three years after the invasion of Iraq the typical company of 150 or so U.S. soldiers gets by with one or two Arabic-speakers. T. X. Hammes says that U.S. forces and trainers in Iraq should have about 22,000 interpreters, but they have nowhere near that many. Some 600,000 Americans can speak Arabic. Hammes has proposed offering huge cash bonuses to attract the needed numbers to Iraq.

3. Make training an Iraqi Army a priority in the Pentagon budget.

In many other ways the flow of dollars and effort shows that the military does not yet take Iraq—let alone the training effort there—seriously. The Pentagon's main weapons-building programs are the same now that they were five years ago, before the United States had suffered one attack and begun two wars. From the Pentagon's policy statements, and even more from its budgetary choices, one would never guess that insurgency was our military's main challenge, and that its main strategic hope lay in the inglorious work of training foreign troops. Planners at the White House and the Pentagon barely imagined before the war that large numbers of U.S. troops would be in Iraq three years later. So most initiatives for Iraq have been stopgap—not part of a systematic effort to build the right equipment, the right skills, the right strategies, for a long-term campaign.

4. Address the “third tour” problem.

Some other recommended changes involve more-explicit long-range commitments. When officers talk about the risk of "using up" or "burning out" the military, they mean that too many arduous postings, renewed too frequently, will drive career soldiers out of the military. The recruitment problems of the National Guard are well known. Less familiar to the public but of great concern in the military is the "third tour" phenomenon: A young officer will go for his first year-long tour in Iraq or Afghanistan, and then his second. Facing the prospect of his third, he may bail out while he still has time to start another, less stressful career.

5. Long term commitments for soldiers and officers with special expertise required for re-building Iraq.

For the military's sake soldiers need to go to Iraq less often, and for shorter periods. But success in training Iraqis will require some Americans to stay there much longer. Every book or article about counterinsurgency stresses that it is an intimate, subjective, human business. Establishing trust across different cultures takes time. After 9/11 everyone huffed about the shocking loss of "human intelligence" at America's spy agencies. But modern American culture—technological, fluid, transient—discourages the creation of the slow-growing, subtle bonds necessary for both good spy work and good military liaison. The British had their India and East Asia hands, who were effective because they spent years in the field cultivating contacts. The American military has done something similar with its Green Berets. For the training effort to have a chance, many, many more regular soldiers will need to commit to long service in Iraq.


6. Rebuild Iraq’s military infrastructure.

The United States will have to agree to stay in Iraq in another significant way. When U.S. policy changed from counting every Iraqi in uniform to judging how many whole units were ready to function, a triage decision was made. The Iraqis would not be trained anytime soon for the whole range of military functions; they would start with the most basic combat and security duties. The idea, as a former high-ranking administration official put it, was "We're building a spearhead, not the whole spear."

The rest of the spear consists of the specialized, often technically advanced functions that multiply the combat units' strength. These are as simple as logistics—getting food, fuel, ammunition, spare parts, where they are needed—and as complex as battlefield surgical units, satellite-based spy services, and air support from helicopters and fighter planes.

The United States is not helping Iraq develop many of these other functions. Sharp as the Iraqi spearhead may become, on its own it will be relatively weak. The Iraqis know their own territory and culture, and they will be fighting an insurgency, not a heavily equipped land army. But if they can't count on the Americans to keep providing air support, intelligence and communications networks, and other advanced systems, they will never emerge as an effective force. So the United States will have to continue to provide all this. The situation is ironic. Before the war insiders argued that sooner or later it would be necessary to attack, because the U.S. Air Force was being "strained" by its daily sorties over Iraq's no-fly zones. Now that the war is over, the United States has taken on a much greater open-ended obligation.


Fallows sums up:
In sum, if the United States is serious about getting out of Iraq, it will need to re-consider its defense spending and operations rather than leaving them to a combination of inertia, Rumsfeld-led plans for "transformation," and emergency stopgaps. It will need to spend money for interpreters. It will need to create large new training facilities for American troops, as happened within a few months of Pearl Harbor, and enroll talented people as trainees. It will need to make majors and colonels sit through language classes. It will need to broaden the Special Forces ethic to much more of the military, and make clear that longer tours will be the norm in Iraq. It will need to commit air, logistics, medical, and intelligence services to Iraq—and understand that this is a commitment for years, not a temporary measure. It will need to decide that there are weapons systems it does not require and commitments it cannot afford if it is to support the ones that are crucial. And it will need to make these decisions in a matter of months, not years—before it is too late.

America's hopes today for an orderly exit from Iraq depend completely on the emergence of a viable Iraqi security force. There is no indication that such a force is about to emerge. As a matter of unavoidable logic, the United States must therefore choose one of two difficult alternatives: It can make the serious changes—including certain commitments to remain in Iraq for many years—that would be necessary to bring an Iraqi army to maturity. Or it can face the stark fact that it has no orderly way out of Iraq, and prepare accordingly.


Well that’s it. A six point plan for putting Iraq back on its feet. A six point plan that is never going to happen. This is Fallows’ conclusion:

In sum, if the United States is serious about getting out of Iraq, it will need to re-consider its defense spending and operations rather than leaving them to a combination of inertia, Rumsfeld-led plans for "transformation," and emergency stopgaps. It will need to spend money for interpreters. It will need to create large new training facilities for American troops, as happened within a few months of Pearl Harbor, and enroll talented people as trainees. It will need to make majors and colonels sit through language classes. It will need to broaden the Special Forces ethic to much more of the military, and make clear that longer tours will be the norm in Iraq. It will need to commit air, logistics, medical, and intelligence services to Iraq—and understand that this is a commitment for years, not a temporary measure. It will need to decide that there are weapons systems it does not require and commitments it cannot afford if it is to support the ones that are crucial. And it will need to make these decisions in a matter of months, not years—before it is too late.

America's hopes today for an orderly exit from Iraq depend completely on the emergence of a viable Iraqi security force. There is no indication that such a force is about to emerge. As a matter of unavoidable logic, the United States must therefore choose one of two difficult alternatives: It can make the serious changes—including certain commitments to remain in Iraq for many years—that would be necessary to bring an Iraqi army to maturity. Or it can face the stark fact that it has no orderly way out of Iraq, and prepare accordingly.

I’ve made offhand replies to any number of comments about the differing plans of the Democratic warmongers for “stabilizing” Iraq that they all sounded like terrific fifty years plans. After seeing the nuts and bolts of “stabilizing” Iraq, I think fifty years may be on the low end. I also believe that Bush and the neo-cons knew exactly what they were doing when they dissolved Iraq’s Army. They didn’t want America to leave Iraq for fifty years and they took the one step that guaranteed the United States could not withdraw from Iraq with honor.

I think it is just common sense and simple arithmetic that neither political party is willing to make the type of military and budgetary commitment that Fallows is talking about. Iraq is never going to have an Army. It’s time to face that stark fact and prepare accordingly. Iraq is screwed. Bush’s war and America’s withdrawal will be a stain on the honor of the United States for centuries. We can partially atone by putting Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld on trial for crimes against humanity.


Editor's note: I just skimmed the surface of Fallows' analysis. If you want to read the whole article, go to the bookstore and buy the magazine or go to TheAtlantic.com and subscribe.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 2:53 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Yesterday It's Bad , Today Not - What's Different?

Yesterday Joe Biden announces a plan for Iraq. Right-wingers everywhere are up in arms, loudly proclaiming (as only the can) that Biden surrenders to terrorists, endangers America, sells out the troops, etc. Then today, Bush announces that this is actually HIS plan. What do the same right-wingers say today?

Read all about it in Obsidian Wings: Intellectual Integrity Watch.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:36 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Salvador Option

The "Salvador Option" -- Will they start using it here?

Go read Newsweek, January 9, 2005, The Salvador Option.

Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers.

. . . Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions.

Now, almost 11 months later, we begin to see the policy in action.

Sunnis Accuse Iraqi Military of Kidnappings and Slayings,

As the American military pushes the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods.

Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation.

Some Sunni men have been found dead in ditches and fields, with bullet holes in their temples, acid burns on their skin, and holes in their bodies apparently made by electric drills. Many have simply vanished.

Some of the young men have turned up alive in prison. In a secret bunker discovered earlier this month in an Interior Ministry building in Baghdad, American and Iraqi officials acknowledged that some of the mostly Sunni inmates appeared to have been tortured.

More at War and Piece, "The Salvador Option." And at Kos, The Salvadoran Option. Some time ago at Billmon, The Salvadoran Option and The Salvadoran Option II. Update - Kevin Drum, Tapped, Roger Ailes, more Billmon today, AMERICAblog, Steve Soto. More at LA Times.

Two years ago I wrote,

Sometimes lately - since Bush v Gore - I imagine I'm looking at current events as if I am a future historian, tracking the record of "what happened" - sort of like how we now look back at Germany in the 30's, trying to understand how it happened.

I used to wonder, if I was in Germany in the 30's, at what point would I have seen what was happening, and gotten out?

It creeps up slowly. How many times have we compared our reactions to Bushism to the frog in water that is getting hotter? Eventually it boils.

We are entering the most dangerous time. The Bush regime is faced with exposure of their crimes. What will they do? Will they just let themselves be taken off to prison? Will their backers willingly give up their direct access to the U.S. Treasury? Do you think they won't fight back?

The "Salvador Option" -- Will they start using it here?

Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:20 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The World Changed in 1994

The world changed when DeLay gained control of the House in 1994, and then again, in the same direction, when Bush won in 2000.

Since 1994 it hasn't been reasonable to attempt dialogue with Republicans or to bargain with them. They want it all, they have no scruples, and they really want to destroy the Democratic Party entirely. Over the last few years they've also become a fanatical criminal group willing to jettison even their own conservative principles (fiscal conservativism, limited government, etc.) in the pursuit of success and power.

Meanwhile, the Democrats and most Democratic spokesmen are stuck in 1972, or 1980, or 1988 and spend their whole time making sure they don't sound like McGovern or Carter or Mondale or Dukakis. Can't be too liberal, can't be dovish, can't be too partisan, meet the other side half way, there are good points on both sides, etc., etc.

(The same is true of a lot of seemingly-reasonable conservative and moderate Republicans who grumble but don't oppose Bush. They're still fighting McGovern and Mondale, and that's what they're going to do for the rest of their lives no matter what the external reality is. They are Bush's punks, whether they realize it or not.)

I remember the turning point during the Reagan administration, when people figured out that Reagan was for real and that the change was permanent. You could tell which way the wind was blowing from Meg Greenfield's frequent pensive pieces at the Washington Post saying that ideology was out and that "thoughfulness" was in. What she meant was that resistance was out and that it was time to make concessions and cut deals.

None of Greenfield's pieces actually seemed very thoughful; there were no actual new ideas or signs of much thinking, just the proclamation of how things were going to be. Greenfield was not actually a major figure as a columnist; her significance was that she was a gatekeeperfor Post management. Her columns were marching orders directed at other columnists. (During that period I remember seeing strong critics of Reagan, such as Garry Wills or Nicholas von Hoffman -- the ones who didn't get the message -- gradually disappearing from the editorial pages of my hometown paper.)

Kinsley, Kaus, and the whole TNR counterintuitive crew came into their own during that time, and they're not going to be able to change. They have branded themselves, and they can't change brands because if they do they'll have nothing to sell. Kinsley can still write a good piece, but he can't write a string of good pieces because to do so would destroy his marketing schtick.

I've said for a long time that we need new media. This is true for readers, for journalists of integrity, and for the country as a whole. Just during the last six months the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the LA Times (three of the most important content-providers) have all suffered scandal and/or downsizing, and they all have to be experiencing crises of morale. The present media, and most of the people who work for them, are not going to be able to change.

All we need is a few hundred million dollars.

(Posted as a comment on Brad DeLong, November 28, 2005, "Kinsley vs. Kinsley, Round II").

Posted by John Emerson at 7:29 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 28, 2005

Another Surprising Call For Impeachment

Brad DeLong,

The Bush administration: worse than you can imagine, even after taking account of the fact that it is worse than you can imagine.
But really, read the whole post, because it is about the mess in Iraq and a call for Bush's impeachment and trial "along with the rest of the president's men" by Martin van Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University, "the only non-American author on the U.S. Army's required reading list for officers."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:26 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post

Sales of Existing Homes Drop in October

Sales of existing homes fell a bigger-than-expected 2.7 percent in October, a fresh sign that the red-hot housing market is cooling. The decline would have been worse without increased demand from displaced hurricane victims.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:39 PM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Who The Bush Administration Works For

China is not a currency manipulator, U.S. says

In a blow to American manufacturers and other firms feeling competition from Chinese exports, the U.S. Treasury Department said Monday that China is not a currency manipulator.
Another source, White House: China not manipulating money
"The administration's lack of action today hurts all Americans by refusing to acknowledge the obvious - that China manipulates its currency," said Sen. Chuck Schumer.

[ . . . ] American manufacturers believe that China has purposely kept its currency undervalued by as much as 40 percent, making Chinese goods cheaper for U.S. consumers and making American products more expensive in China.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Powell Blasts White House For Smearing Murtha

This was on NewsMax a few days ago, and made its way around a few right-wing blogs, but I haven't seen it elsewhere. Colin Powell: White House's Murtha Attack 'Disgraceful',

An angry former Secretary of State Colin Powell is blasting the Bush White House for attacking Rep. Jack Murtha, who undermined troop morale and encouraged al Qaida last week with his call for an immediate U.S. pullout from Iraq.

"To attack him the way he was attacked, accusing him of being a Michael Moore, was disgraceful and was not worthy," a Powell told the New York Post's Deborah Orin, who described him as "livid."

"Jack Murtha is great friend of mine," Powell declared. "He's a great patriot.

Reported in NewsMax???? Someone is seriously firing shots across someone's bow. War on the right?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:30 PM | Comments (11) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

European-Style

In GOP Bloggers: Why Is GOP Committing Suicide on Economy? they lament that "the nation as a whole is destined for a poor, European-style economy."

OK, let's see.. Europe: 35-hour workweek. Minimum of five weeks paid vacation. Health care for everyone. Paid child care and maternity for everyone. Good public schools. Generous pensions beginning at age 57. 45% percent of single women in poverty in America vs 5-13% in Europe. Outstanding public transportation systems. Etc.

U.S.: none of the above.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:06 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Steve Young for Congress

A few weeks ago I wrote about One More Race This Year and the Steve Young for Congress campaign.

Today Angry Bear weighs in, adding:

The campaign needs money and volunteers to make phone calls to get out the vote: (949) 640-4400
Go help.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:01 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Alternative News

I hope you all stop in every day at BuzzFlash - Daily Headlines and Breaking News. And tell your firends and relatives, too.

Other great sources are Common Dreams, truthout, The Smirking Chimp and AlterNet.

Of course I assumed you already visit Raw Story several times a day.

Who is at the top of your list?

Update - I was going to links to news, non-blogs. Anyway, commenters add:

Truthout was already up there

Hullabaloo and Eschaton, All Hat No Cattle, Bag News Notes, Crooks and Liars, and the Daou Report
Yellow Dog Blog
Steve Gilliard, Once Upon a Time, Talking Points Memo
Information Clearinghouse
The Next Hurrah

Of course, I recommend every blog on the blogroll over on the left. ESPECIALLY the ones you haven't heard of. That's where the FRESH perspective comes from. That's where the story you haven't heard about comes from. Try to make a habit of checking out a new blog every week or so.

BushWatch

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:39 AM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The American Press

A STF reader pointed me to this excllent article published by the New York Review of Books, "The Press: The Enemy Within". It is an in depth analysis of the shortcomings and liabilities and economic pressures that shape and limit the ability of the American press to effecitvely report on the world around us, or as the author puts it: "the structural problems that keep the press from fulfilling its responsibilities to serve as a witness to injustice and a watchdog over the powerful."

This is in depth background material. Nothing terribly new here, just assembled in one place and coherently analyzed. We all know that overseas reporting by major American television networks has shrunk to almost nothing... but it helps when you can frame this in terms of specific numbers (per his figures re: CBS's current and former staffing of it's international news bureaus).

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 12:13 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 27, 2005

Feingold's Bandwagon Is Getting Crowded

On August 18th, 2005, Senator Feingold proposed a gradual, phased withdrawal from Iraq with a target date of December, 2006. The stated goals of Feingold's proposal were:

Feingold has argued that this kind of clarity, combined with an effective reconstruction effort and constructive assistance to the political process, could help the U.S. to:

• Undermine the recruiting efforts and the unity of insurgents;

• Encourage Iraqi ownership of the transition process and bolster the legitimacy of the Iraqi authorities;

• Reassure the American people that our Iraq policy is not directionless; and

• Most importantly, create space for a broader discussion of our real national security priorities.

In August Feingold's proposal for a gradual, phased withdrawal was ravaged by critics for being a terrible idea.

Aside from the dates and minor details, is there any substantive difference between Feingold's withdrawal plan, Murtha's resolution and Senator Biden's timetable for a gradual, phased withdrawal from Iraq, which the White House is now taking credit for?

[Editor's note: My comment about Feingold's gradual, phased withdrawal proposal was changed as reflected in the comments.]

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 3:48 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Big Brother Is Watching

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings provides a thorough analysis of a WaPo article about the Defense Department expansion into domestic spying, Someone Is Watching You.

"The Defense Department has expanded its programs aimed at gathering and analyzing intelligence within the United States, creating new agencies, adding personnel and seeking additional legal authority for domestic security activities in the post-9/11 world. The moves have taken place on several fronts. The White House is considering expanding the power of a little-known Pentagon agency called the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, which was created three years ago. The proposal, made by a presidential commission, would transform CIFA from an office that coordinates Pentagon security efforts -- including protecting military facilities from attack -- to one that also has authority to investigate crimes within the United States such as treason, foreign or terrorist sabotage or even economic espionage.

It's not like this is a new problem. Here's an article from last year at Capitol Hill Blue about Bush moving TIA, the Terrorist Information Awareness program over to the Pentagon.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 12:37 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 26, 2005

The Trillion Dollar War

This month's issue of The Atlantic has a short side bar article on the economic cost of natural and man made disasters. Disasters And The Deficit by Linda Bilmes. (subscription only)

Bottom line? Even if we pull out tomorrow the cost will exceed one trillion dollars.

Iraq War Pie Chart

This year's hurricane disasters, coupled with extremely high military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, are likely to prolong and worsen U.S. budget deficits for the next twenty years. The bill for Katrina reconstruction will reach $250 billion if legislation introduced by Louisiana's two senators is enacted. Expect it to go higher as we undertake the complex work of cleaning up environmental hazards, building new housing, rebuilding oil infrastructure, and repairing ports, bridges, tunnels, roads, and thousands of water and sewer systems. The actual costs of disasters have a way of creeping well beyond initial estimates.

That has certainly been the case in Iraq. So far the United States has spent $275 billion on military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But this is just the tip of a very large iceberg. The costs of continuing operations run at $100 billion a year. When one adds in the long-term costs, including interest payments on war debt and disability benefits that we will owe to veterans for decades, the total cost of the war will exceed $1.3 trillion.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 10:41 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Dysfunctional Nature of Capitalism and "Free Trade"

[Is this crazy or what? -Thomas]

Forests Paying the Price for Biofuels
By Fred Pearce
NewScientist.com

Tuesday 22 November 2005

The drive for "green energy" in the developed world is having the perverse effect of encouraging the destruction of tropical rainforests. From the orangutan reserves of Borneo to the Brazilian Amazon, virgin forest is being razed to grow palm oil and soybeans to fuel cars and power stations in Europe and North America. And surging prices are likely to accelerate the destruction.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 9:03 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Other War: Afghanistan

[Let us not forget that we're still deeply mired in Afghanistan, with no more idea of when we'll be able to declare our invasion a "success" and withdraw our troops than in Iraq. American men and women are still being wounded and dying, and the American taxpayer is still shelling out a few billion every month to pay for it. -Thomas]

Doubts Grow over US Afghan Strategy
By Andrew North
BBC News

Friday 25 November 2005

It is four years since the fall of the Taliban regime. The United States has spent billions of dollars on its operations in Afghanistan - but what does it have to show for it?

With no end in sight to the insurgency led by remnants of that regime and insecurity still holding back development in large parts of the country, it is a question that many more people are asking.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 8:53 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

It's What They DO

Oliver Willis : Republicans Do What Republicans Do Best

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:47 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Iraq Smallpox Attack Scare Tactic

Do you remember The Fear? The constant terror alerts, the talk of "dirty bombs" or terrorists attacking shopping malls, even instructions on what to do if there is a nuclear explosion nearby? But that was all before the 2002 election and the following invasion of Iraq. That was then, this is now.

One of the scares used to prepare the public for invading Iraq was that Iraq might strike at us with their stockpiles of smallpox. I searched and found hundreds of articles. Here are just a few examples to remind you:

July 7, 2002, US plans mass smallpox vaccination,

The plan to increase the number of workers vaccinated comes amid talk of an attack on Iraq, which some experts suspect of hiding smallpox stocks.

August, 2002, Israel Preparing for Worst: Begins Smallpox Vaccinations (NewsMax),

Israel is preparing for mass destruction attacks, and has begun the first phase of inoculating its population against a smallpox attack.

Fearing that Saddam Hussein may attack Israel before war breaks out with the U.S., Israel has also begun distributing anti-radiation pills.

November, 2002, Is Attacking Iraq Worth Risking Smallpox?
According a recent administration intelligence review, four countries, including Iraq, possess covert stocks of the deadly smallpox virus. The CIA's Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Center (WINPAC) has "high confidence" that Iraq has the virus. At least one person who has access to the intelligence information offered to "bet my next year's salary" that Iraq has smallpox.
December 3, 2002, C.I.A. Hunts Iraq Tie to Soviet Smallpox (Judith Miller),
The C.I.A. is investigating an informant's accusation that Iraq obtained a particularly virulent strain of smallpox from a Russian scientist who worked in a smallpox lab in Moscow during Soviet times, senior American officials and foreign scientists say.

The officials said several American scientists were told in August that Iraq might have obtained the mysterious strain from Nelja N. Maltseva, a virologist who worked for more than 30 years at the Research Institute for Viral Preparations in Moscow before her death two years ago.

The information came to the American government from an informant whose identity has not been disclosed. The C.I.A. considered the information reliable enough that President Bush was briefed about its implications. The attempt to verify the information is continuing.

December 9, 2002, The smallpox scenario,
As the U.N. and member governments seek to uncover whatever illicit weapons programs Iraq might have, few tasks are as urgent as determining whether Baghdad has obtained the smallpox virus.

The only declared reserves of the 120 known strains of smallpox are in two labs, in the U.S. and Russia, but fears that Iraq may possess the virus have lately come to a head.

Why the suspicions? As the New York Times first reported last week, the CIA is investigating the possibility that a Russian scientist, Nelli Maltseva, ferried a nasty strain of smallpox from the Research Institute for Viral Preparations in Moscow to Iraq in 1990. She died two years ago.

December 13, 2002, White House FAQ, Smallpox Response Teams
,
Does Iraq have smallpox? Do you believe that Iraq may use a smallpox weapon if attacked by the United States?

It is possible, but not confirmed, that Iraq possesses the virus that causes smallpox. By protecting ourselves to respond to any smallpox attack, including through pre-exposure and post-exposure vaccination plans, we also help deter such attacks.

[. . .] If someone receives that vaccine now or before an attack, will they need to be revaccinated if there is an attack?

In a post-attack emergency, to ensure everyone is protected as rapidly as possible, all exposed persons will be vaccinated regardless of smallpox vaccine history.

December 18, 2002, Rumsfeld says he'll take smallpox vaccine. Careful steps would precede Iraq war, he tells Larry King,
In an interview Wednesday with CNN's Larry King, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld revealed his plans to take the smallpox vaccine, which can carry severe side effects, including death.

"I certainly intend to, simply because it's hard to ask people to do something that you're not willing to do yourself," Rumsfeld said, responding to a question posed by King.

President Bush has said he, too, will take the vaccine after ordering vaccinations for some military personnel. The vaccine will be administered to about 500,000 troops deployed in high-risk parts of the world under the first phase of the vaccination plan. The inoculations began this month, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The Defense Department said vaccinations will be mandatory except for those who have medical exemptions.

Because about half of U.S. residents have never been vaccinated and those who were vaccinated are believed to have limited, if any, immunity, the country is considered by some to be especially vulnerable to a biological attack. It is feared that Iraq might have smallpox that could be used for weapons.

Shortly after the invasion, Smallpox Vaccinations Moving Slowly
The U.S. government is shrinking by 90 percent the number of people it believes it will vaccinate for smallpox, the Washington Post reports.

Just a few months after President Bush said he wanted 500,000 emergency workers to receive smallpox shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says that 50,000 vaccinations might be a more reasonable target. Only 35,000 people have rolled up their sleeves to date.

Oh yeah, by the way, here is how it turned out: September 19, 2003, No smallpox in Iraq - team,

Top American scientists assigned to the weapons hunt in Iraq found no evidence Saddam Hussein's regime was making or stockpiling smallpox, according to senior military officers involved in the search.

Smallpox fears were part of the case the Bush administration used to build support for invading Iraq - and they were raised again as recently as last weekend by vice-president Dick Cheney.

But a three-month search by "Team Pox" turned up only signs to the contrary: disabled equipment that had been rendered harmless by United Nations inspectors, Iraqi scientists deemed credible who gave no indication they had worked with smallpox, and a laboratory thought to be back in use that was covered in cobwebs.

Oops.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:57 PM | Comments (7) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Better Final Days

That's the title of an excellent editorial in the L.A. Times this morning.

WHENEVER Americans stop to think about how they want to die, most conclude that they don't want to spend their last days in a hospital bed. They don't want to be stuck in an intensive care unit unnecessarily, or hooked up to machines if they can possibly avoid it. And they do not want a lot of tests and procedures, especially painful ones, if undergoing them won't improve their chances of surviving — or at least make their passing a little easier.

More health care spending does not automatically translate to better outcomes:

That study, published in 2003 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that Medicare patients in higher-spending regions "receive more care than those in lower-spending regions but do not have better health outcomes."

Hospital stays can actually be harmful to your health:

What's more, winding up in those intensive-care hospitals may actually increase a patient's chances of dying by as much as 2% to 6%. That's because hospitals, for all their power to deliver lifesaving treatments, can also be dangerous places where every drug, every treatment, every test carries the risk of error and harm.

Americans have come to believe that more healthcare equals better health. But what these studies show is that's not always true. And as anybody who has spent time in an ICU can tell you, a lot of treatment for terminal conditions can certainly make a misery of a patient's final few weeks of life.

This is a serious and seriously under-reported problem. Kudos to the L.A. Times editorial page.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:45 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 25, 2005

Pray for Confederate Yankee

Cross posted at MyDD

One of our good friends in the freeper sector of the blogosphere has been afflicted with some sort of unidentified degenerative brain disease. In the interest of transparency and full understanding, I am pulling up the last few exchanges we have had in my previous post about Confederate Yankee Bans The Facts.

I'll pick up our informative exchange at the point where my good friend calls me an idiot:

Gary,

I hate to ruin your rant (you seem to be enjoying such a nice one, but I didn't delete your comment. It is still located in the comments for the post "Aid and Comfort." You even responded back to my response for this post.

Perhaps you should lay off the illegal substances.

Idiot.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at November 25, 2005 06:14 PM

Editor's note: The omission of the close parens symbol was in the original comment.

Somewhat baffled by Confederate Yankee's irrational belief that I was accusing him of deleting my comment, I went back and re-read my original comment and replied:

Confederate Fascist,

It was very considerate of you to stop by STF and demonstrate your allergy to facts. If you had the reading comprehension level of a sixth grader, you would not have deluded yourself into thinking I accused you of deleting my comment from your ideologically fascist website.

Ask one of the neighborhood children to read my comment out loud for you and you will discover that I did not complain about my comment being deleted. I simply re-posted it for the convenience of STF readers. I did not wish to subject them to the intellectual dischord of visiting your fascist, fact challenged website.

Perhaps you should take a remedial reading course at your local Community College. I recommend asking them to teach you how to understand what the words on the page say, as opposed to what you would like them to say.

Recommended reading: How To Read A Book by Mortimer Adler.

Free Tip: Read the black parts of the page.

Posted by: Gary Boatwright at November 25, 2005 08:58 PM

Apparently I was still not being clear enough for Confederate Yankee's deranged, incapacitated, inebriated or intellectually inoperative brain to comprehend, because he responded with these irrelevant comments:

Hey Gary:

Perhaps before you try to teach others how to read, you should read The Concise English Handbook. I'm only mentioned in the credits of those who teach how to write, you stupid son of a bitch.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at November 25, 2005 10:56 PM

Folks, I'd like to apologize for my language. The arrogantly stupid seem to irritate me very badly, and I shouldn't pick on them.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at November 25, 2005 10:59 PM

As you can see our friend is struggling mightily with some sort of unidentified inner demon. Whatever he may have accomplished in his glory days of youth does not change the simple fact that he completely mis-read my comment. So in the interest of harmony in the blogosphere and clarification of the issue, here is my reply:

Fascist Moron,

I regret that I have been granting you too much respect. Somehow you reached the bizarre conclusion that I was accusing you of deleting the comment I posted at your website. Let's examine the sentence immediately preceeding the comment I reproduced here at STF:


Here is the entire comment that I posted at Confederate Fascist, without the link to the British newspaper that carried the article:

Allow me to repeat that statement with emphasis for clarity:

Here is the entire comment that I posted at Confederate Fascist, without the link to the British newspaper that carried the article:

This is apparently the way you read that same statement:

Here is the entire comment that I posted at Confederate Fascist, which Confederate Fascist deleted, without the link to the British newspaper that carried the article:

I believe that explains why I recommended that you only read the black parts of the page. I can't explain your pathetic inability to understand plain English or why you feel the need to blame me for your intellectual and emotional shortcomings.

Perhaps you should seek intensive therapeutic counseling so you could determine if your aversion to facts is emotional, intellectual or psychological. I wish you a speedy recovery from your affliction.

I ask all faithful STF readers to join hands with me in a prayer for Confederate Yankee's speedy recovery from his affliction. For the sake of his family, I hope he has not contracted the dreaded Mad Coulter Disease.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 11:28 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

News On Abramoff Case

At The All Spin Zone, Culture of Corruption: Scope of Abramoff Probe Becoming Clearer,

Most people won't be paying attention today (does anyone actually read the newspaper on Saturday?), but the Washington Post delves into the depths of casinogate, and the impact that's sure to come. Apparently, the investigation of former DeLay minion Jack Abramoff is expanding, and very, very active. A wide net is being tossed, and a lot of fish are about to be caught:
But you gotta go to All Spin Zone for the rest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:25 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Turn Off Your Mind

Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream
It is not dying
It is not dying

Lay down all thought Surrender to the void
It is shining
It is shining

That you may see The meaning of within
It is being
It is being

That love is all And love is everyone
It is knowing
It is knowing

That ignorance and hate May mourn the dead
It is believing
It is believing

But listen to the color of your dreams
It is not living
It is not living

Or play the game existence to the end
Of the beginning

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:59 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Facts Are Banned By Confederate Yankee

Regular readers of STF are aware that some warmonger whacko who calls himself Confederate Yankee accused Dave of treason for criticizing Bush's immoral war in Iraq. At the end of his dogmatic screed against political dissent and the Constitution Confederate Yankee links to another fascist over at The Jawa Report, who calls himself Dr. Rusty Shackleford, and accuses Markos of treason.

Confederate Yankee stated the basis for his and Shackleford's condemnation of critics of Bush's war as traitor:

One man’s dissent can very well be another man’s treason. With that you should not disagree.

Confederate Fascist should have added, "And in addition to unilaterally deciding who is guilty of treason, I decide which facts are admissible evidence." This is the error message I got from Confederate Fascist's site when I tried to post a response, before I was banned for disagreeing with the reactionary opinions of Confederate Fascist and Old Soldier:

Your comment could not be submitted due to questionable content: news.independent.co.uk

Isn't that interesting? I wonder what other sources of factual information Confederate Fascist does not accept?

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 9:36 AM | Comments (14) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Nixon-Bush Parallel

Matt Stoller wrote a diary at MyDD about Wartime Politics. Matt was looking for an answer to one question:

When has anti-war politics been good politics?

For my money, as far as historical comparisons go, Vietnam is still the best comparison, both militarily and politically.

Politically speaking Nixon and Bush were both re-elected as "war Presidents" only to have their popularity and effectiveness ended by an unpopular war. Watergate muddies the waters, but the question must be posed whether the political desperation that led Nixon into Watergate was influenced by McGovern and pressure from the anti-war movement.

Both Presidents had pre-election scandals that were studiously glossed over by the M$M until after the election. Nixon's popularity plummeted [following his landslide victory over McGovern http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/people/A0860014.html]. Bush's popularity plummeted after his narrow and questionable defeat of Kerry.

Chris Bowers has analyzed Bush's plummeting poll numbers, and The Poor Man has great charts that graphically illustrate Bush's problem. A bunch of M$M sources have pointed out how Reagan and Clinton both recovered their popularity after scandals, but they ignore the fact that Bush's scandals have just gotten started. How can Bush recover from scandals that are still building to a crescendo?

Following Murtha's condemnation of Bush's war a bunch of M$M and conservative pundits, as well as several Democrats, insisted that we should wait until after Iraq's Constitutional Assembly, scheduled for December 15th. Is it realistic to expect dramatic changes in Iraq thirty days from now? How stupid is it for Democrats to help relieve the political pressure on Bush?

Iraq and Bush's scandals are both going to get worse. I think the only question is whether a fatally wounded Bush lingers on or resigns. Cheney is more directly involved in the WMD scandals and the unpopularity of Iraq than Bush. Amazingly, he's also more unpopular than Bush. A variety of sources have insisted that Republican candidates in 2006 will ask McCain to campaign with them instead of Bush. Nobody has suggested that Cheney will be a big draw on the campaign trail.

To answer Matt's question, I don't believe that historical parallels where anti-war candidates did well politically are necessary. I don't believe America has ever had a war that became this unpopular this quickly. I believe the relevant question that Democratic candidates should be asking themselves is Why has public support for Bush's war droped so dramatically? Public opinion has not been moved by opposition from the Democratic Party. There is not a principled case that the M$M is driving public opinion with anti-war coverage. Cindy Sheehan and the anti-war protesters aren't driving public opinion. Is it possible that America learned the right lesson from the Vietnam war after all, and we just didn't know it?

I am not aware of a single Democrat in any state who has announced their intention to run in 2006 on a pro-war platform. If there are any they are fools. Bush and his war are both irredeemable failures.

To win in 2006 all Democrats have to do is look at which candidates are the most popular with both Democrats and Independents. That would be candidates who oppose everything Bush has done or wants to do. Polls repeatedly tell us that a very substantial majority of Americans are displeased with the direction our country is going. It's time to start doing what the blogosphere has almost unanimously insisted Democrats should do for nearly a year now, which is start acting like an opposition party.

Forget the nonsense about loyal opposition. Just oppose every single piece of legislation Bush proposes. Republicans like to accuse Democrats of being The Party Of No, as if that's a bad thing. They should become The Party Of Hell No! Stop helping Bush and the Republican Party get their legislation passed. Stop giving Bush cover on his immoral and unpopular war. Joe Biden should definitely stop saying he believes Bush is a nice guy. Democrats should definitely stop saying anything complementary about John McCain.

That brings us to the issue of whether Democrats should have an actual agenda or just be mealy mouthed fence straddlers. Harry Reid has said that Republican budget cuts are immoral. Last week Rahm Emmanuel rattled off four or five policy initiatives the Democrats are proposing. Damn straight the Democrats should have an agenda. They don't need no stinking Contract On America. They just need a simple agenda that anyone at MyDD could write up in fifteen minutes or they could just steal Matt's agenda.

Democrats should make it clear to the M$M and the American people that they do have a list of ideas and even some legislation they have dared the Republicans to bring up for a vote. Bush is running so far to his right that there is an entire galaxy of political space for Democrats to fill. They should absolutely not start chasing Bush to the right. Stand your ground on core principles and don't budge. Don't compromise.

That brings us to Harry Reid. Harry Reid must start calling leadership votes on damn near everything. Threaten committee seats and bring the Democratic Senate Caucus into line. There is a rotating clique of about a dozen conservative and DLC Senators who can be counted on to give Bush as many votes as he needs to pass damn near any piece of legislation he wants. As long as Harry Reid allows Bush and Rove to strip six to ten votes from the DLC and Blue Dog democrats on every vote, Bush is going to keep winning legislative victories.

The Senate is where unpopular legislation is supposed to get slowed down and stymied, not the House. Call leadership votes. Object to unanimous consent. Filibuster. Oppose Bush and win back Congress, win back the White House and take back America. It really is just that simple.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:42 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 24, 2005

Rules For Radicals

Rules For Radicals by Saul Alinsky © 1971

Prologue

The revolutionary force today has two targets, moral as well as material. Its young protagonists are one moment reminiscent of the idealistic early Christians, yet they also urge violence and cry, “Burn the system down!” They have no illusions about the system, but plenty of illusions about the way to change our world. It is to this point that I have written this book.

Few of us survived the Joe McCarthy holocaust of the early 1950’s and of those there were even fewer whose understanding and insights had developed beyond the dialectical materialism of orthodox Marxism. My fellow radicals who were supposed to pass on the torch of experience and insights to a new generation just were not there. As the young looked at the society around them, it was all, in their words, “materialistic decadent, bourgeois in its values, bankrupt and violent.” Is it any wonder that they reject us in toto.

Today’s generation is desperately trying to make some sense of their lives and out of the world. Most of them are products of the middle class.

. . .

They have seen the almost unbelievable idiocy of our political leadership – in the past political leaders, ranging from the mayors to governors to the White House, were regarded with respect and almost reverence; today they are viewed with contempt.

. . .

The young are inundated with a barrage of information and facts so overwhelming that the world has come to seem an utter bedlam, which has them spinning in a frenzy, looking for what man has always looked for from the beginning of time, a way of life that has some meaning or sense.

. . .

These are the days when man has his hands on the sublime while he is up to his hips in the much of madness. The establishment in many ways is as suicidal as some of the far left, except that they are infinitely more destructive than the far left can ever be. The outcome of the hopelessness and despair is morbidity. There is a feeling of death hanging over the nation. . . . To the young the world seems insane and falling apart.

On the other side is the older generation, whose members are no less confused. If they are not as vocal or conscious, it may be because they can escape to a past when the world was simpler. They can still cling to the old values in the simple hope that everything will work out somehow, some way. That the younger generation will “straighten out” with the passing of time.

. . .

When they talk of values they’re asking for a reason. They are searching for an answer, at least for a time, to man’s greatest question, “Why am I here?”
The young react to their chaotic world in different ways. Some panic and run, rationalizing that they system is going to collapse anyway of its own rot and corruption and so they’re copping out, going hippie or yippie, taking drugs, trying communes, anything to escape. Others went for pointless sure-loser confrontations so that they could fortify their rationalization and say, “Well we tried and did our part” and then they copped out too. Others sick with guilt and not knowing where to turn or what to do went berserk. These were the Weathermen and their like: they took the grand cop-out, suicide. To these I have nothing to say or give but pity – and in some cases contempt, for such as those who leave their dead comrades and take off for Algeria or other points.
What I have to say in this book is not the arrogance of unsolicited advice. IT is the experience and counsel that so many young people have questioned me about through all-night sessions on hundreds of campuses in America. It is for those young radicals who are committed to the fight, committed to life.
Remember we are talking about revolution, not revelation; you can miss the target by shooting too high as well as too low. First, there are no rules for revolution any more than there are rules for love or rules for happiness, but there are rules for radicals who want to change their world; there are certain central concepts of action in human politics that operate regardless of the scene or the time. To know these is basic to a pragmatic attack on the system. These rules make the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one who uses the tired old words and slogans, calls the police “pig” or “white fascist racist” or “motherfucker” and has so stereotyped himself that others react by saying, “Oh, he’s one of those,” and then promptly turn off.

. . .

My “thing” if I want to organize, is solid communication with the people in the community. Lacking communication I am in reality silent; throughout history silence has been regarded as assent – in this case assent to the system.
As an organizer I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be. That we accept the world as it is does not in any sense weaken our desire to change it into what we believe it should be – it is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. That means working in the system.

. . .

To bring on this reformation requires that the organizer work inside the system, among not only the middle class but the 40 percent of American families – more than seventy million people – whose incomes ranger from $5,000 to $10,000 a year. They cannot be dismissed by labeling them blue collar or hard hat. They will not continue to be relatively passive and slightly challenging. If we fail to communicate with them, if we don’t encourage them to form alliances with us, they will move to the right. Maybe they will anyway, but let’s not let it happen by default.

. . .

Let us in the name of radical pragmatism not forget that in our system with all its repressions we can still speak out and denounce the administration, attack its policies, work to build an opposition political base. True, there is government harassment, but there still is that relative freedom to fight.

. . .

We will start with the system because there is no other place to start from except political lunacy. It is most important for those of us who want revolutionary change to understand that revolution must be preceded by reformation. To assume that a political revolution can survive without the supporting base of a popular reformation is to ask for the impossible in politics.
Men don’t like to step abruptly out of the security of familiar experience; they need a bridge to cross from their own experience to a new way. A revolutionary organizer must shake up the prevailing patterns of their lives – agitate, create disenchantment and discontent with the current values, to produce, if not a passion for change, at least a passive, affirmative, non-challenging climate.
“The Revolution was effected before the war commenced,” John Adams wrote. “The Revolution was in the hearts and minds of the people . . . This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments andd affectations of the people was the real American Revolution.” A revolution without a prior reformation would collapse or become a totalitarian tyranny.

. . .

It hurt me to see the American army with drawn bayonets advancing on American boys and girls. But the realistic one: “Do one of three things. One, go find a wailing wall and feel sorry for yourselves. Two, go psycho and start bombing – but this will only swing people to the right. Three, learn a lesson. Go home, organize, build power and at the next convention, you be the delegates.

. . .

No politician can sit on a hot issue if you make it hot enough.

. . .

From the beginning the weakness as well as the strength of the democratic ideal has been the people. People cannot be free unless they are willing to sacrifice some of their interests to guarantee the freedom of others. The price of democracy is the ongoing pursuiut of the common good by all of the people. One hundred and thirty-five years ago Tocqueville gravely warned that unless individual citizens were regularly involved in the action of governing themselves, self-government would pass from the scene. Citizen participation is the animating spirit and force in a society predicated on voluntarism.

. . .

Here we are desperately concerned with the vast mass of our people who, thwarted thrugh lack of interest or opportunity, or both, do not participate in the endless responsibilities of citizenship and are resigned to lives determined by others. To lose your “identity” as a citizen of democracy is but a step from losing your identity as a person. People react to this frustration by not acting at all. The separation of the people from the routine daily functions of citizenship is heartbreak in a democracy.
It is a grave situation when a people resign their citizenship or when a resident of a great city, though he may desire to take a hand, lacks the means to participate. That citizen sinks further into apathy, anonymity, and depersonalization. The result is that he comes to depend on public authority and a state of civic-sclerosis sets in.
From time to time there have been external enemies at our gates; there has always been the enemy within, the hidden and malignant inertia that foreshadows more certain destruction to our life and future than any nuclear warhead. There can be no darker or more devastating tragedy than the death of man’s faith in himself and in his power to direct his future.
I salute the present generation. Hang on to one of your most precious parts of youth, laughter – don’t lose it as many of you seem to have done, you need it. Together we may find some of what we’re looking for – laughter, beauty, love and the chance to create.

Saul Alinksky

RULES FOR RADICALS

The Purpose

The life of man upon earth is a warfare . . .
--JOB 7:1


What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:34 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A Thanksgiving McCain Hater's Festival

We're having a special Thanksgiving Festival honoring the duplicitous record of Forked Tongue McCain over at MyDD.

Read The Real McCain

And three diaries by Matt Stoller:

The McCain Scam

McCain Follow-up

Two Faced McCain

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:43 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 23, 2005

The X On Cheney's Face - Part Of A Much Larger Plot!

It's all here: Workbench: CNN Dicks Cheney with Subliminal Messages.

o read the shocking details of the conspiracy!!!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:19 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Another Blog Award

The Weblog Awards: Nominations - Best Liberal Blog Archive.

If you want to nominate Seeing the Forest, go right ahead. I won't stop you. Its RSS is http://www.seeingtheforest.com/index.rdf

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:51 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Blog Fight II

Confederate Yankee: A Challenge to Dave.

Here is my reply:

I accept your challange, and I deeply respect your service to the country.

I suspect you don't ready my blog. I agree about the threat of radical Islamic fundamentalists, not only to us but to the people currently living under their rule. You're talking to the guy who wrote yesterday about the "just leave" argument,

"Suppose full-scale civil war breaks out with hundreds of thousands killed. Suppose the Shiites wipe out the Sunnis with millions dead. Suppose Iran winds up in control of central Iraq and the southern oil fields and launches full-scale war against a weakened U.S. Suppose the Kurds break out for independence and Turkey invades? None of us know if these terrible things will happen or not. All of us understand these are possible, even likely."

In the past I have written,

Aside from all the consequences for Iraqis there will be long-term ongoing consequences here. I'm talking about serious national security concerns. While we had no reason to invade Iraq in the first place WE HAVE CREATED THE THREAT. Saying "we are less safe now" is not a political slogan. WE ARE LESS SAFE NOW. If we leave, we are leaving behind an Afghanistan, with a Taliban, infrastrucutre destroyed (by us) but with all the resources of an oil-rich nation-state, and not very concerned that we will be coming back any time soon.

That said, let me explain where I disagree. On torture, you wrote, "I am sure you can reason that comments comparing our soldiers’ actions to those of Stalin’s henchmen in the gulags or the Nazi’s SS troops in the concentration camps would give our enemy comfort." First, if you really meant to say it is "our soldier's actions" then it is YOU who is "blaming the troops" for what is obviously a policy coming down from the top. When Sen. Durbin said what he said, he was criticizing BUSH. Republican slicksters skillfully make it sound like he was saying something about the troops. But look at who is really doing the blaming - by refusing to take responsibility and prosecuting only a few at the bottom instead of those who set the policy. You do know, don't you, that the ONLY bill Bush has ever said he would veto is the one prohibiting torture?

And I say that the policy of torture coming from our country's leadership is what has given our enemies a tremendous propaganda advantage. (Not the military leadership but the political leadership - in spite of the comments about me here I have always made that clear.) Citizens MUST speak out and fight the leadership when we see them taking the country in such a direction. It is not treason, as Republican Party slicksters say, it is our DUTY. The fight to stop torture does not give our enemies comfort - the policy of torture itself is what gives them the propaganda advantage.

You write, "the war against radical Islamic terrorist is extremely vital to the free world." I agree, and that is the BASIS of my objection to the Iraq invasion. BEFORE the invasion Iraq had NOTHING TO DO with 9/11 or al Queda. Iraq was a secular country, NOT an Islamic state. But, as you acknowledge in your challenge, NOW their new constitution MAKES them an Islamic state under Islamic law. NOW the country is a recruiting bonanza for terrorists. NOW the country has growing ties to Iran, including a military cooperation agreement. NOW the population is radicalized and turning against us. Not before the invasion, but NOW. THAT is what we accomplished! We CREATED a threat to our security where none existed. And it is looking more an more like our leadership was tricked into this by Iranian agents -- and you accuse ME of treason!

And the Iraq invasion TOOK RESOURCES AWAY from fighting terrorism, and created a much worse situation. And now we have that worse situation, with a depleted military, isolation from countries that would have been allies in the fight, and we're stuck there in a no-win situation because we have created a potential terrorist state and we can't afford to walk away from that. Invading Iraq may be the worst istake our country has ever made. Meanwhile Afghanistan is hardly being established as a free nation - it is ruled by the drug lords we used to be against, recruited to fight for us because we wanted our own resources free to join Bush's Iraq adventure.

WP - Don't you understand the propaganda advantage they gained because our forces used WP for "shake and bake?" Just as with torture, it isn't the revealing it's the doing. I don't CARE if it is a "chemical" weapon or not, that is hardly the point. They should not have started the policy of torture, and they should not have allowed the use of WP as a weapon. Because of the huge propaganda advantage this gives the enemy. It is NOT the revealing, it is the USE. It is our DUTY to speak out against the use. And it is NOT the troops, it's the leadership that failed us.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:30 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Republican Culture of Corruption

Bad news for Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Ney, at The Stakeholder

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:26 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush More Unpopular Than Ever

Yellow Dog Blog: Turkeys Refuse Ceremonial White House Pardon,

In yet another publicity blow to the beleaguered Bush administration, both National Thanksgiving Turkeys have refused the ceremonial pardon traditionally given by the president. The turkeys, named Marshmallow and Yam, were selected for the eleventh-hour Thanksgiving reprieve based on a White House web-site poll.

[. . .] The White House expressed disappointment in the turkeys' decision to turn down the ceremonial pardon and suggested a possible partisan motivation.

Go read the rest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:23 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 22, 2005

The Man Who Sold The War In Iraq (must read)

Rolling Stone has an excellent (and astonishing) article profiling John Rendon, master propagandist, the man who "sold the war"... and continues to sell it. I'm not going to excerpt the juicy bits... the whole thing is one big juicy bit. This is a must read article. Perhaps one of the top ten most significant news reports you'll read all year, in terms of understanding the big picture (and the details underlying it).

The article provides a huge amount of context for how we got into the war (long term covert propaganda campaign), and why we are still engaged, and what we are up against: $300/hour public relations consultants with access to intelligence at the highest levels (probably better than most members of Congress) participating in policy shaping decisions at the highest levels... and a military/intelligence complex that has been thoroughly privatized and outsourced and has absolutely no compunctions about manipulating public opinion by any means necessary. An utterly corrupt government that does not trust the goodwill and common sense of the American people one whit... note that this has gone on, under both Clinton and Bush.

This is the death of democracy. Without a media that we can trust, at any level, without an informed and aware populace able to make reasonably rational collective decisions, democracy simply cannot function. Joseph Goebbels would be green with envy.

Will the Democrats cut off the gravy train? Hopefully... but, what they'll do, at best, is cut off this particular gravy train, not declare the whole concept anethema. The CIA and Pentagon, under either Republican or Democrat, will continue to pour billions into info-warfare, manipulation of domestic and foriegn media, and shaping public opinion in furtherance of their internal policy agendas. There's only one political party that would stop this, and every reader of this blog knows that.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:35 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

American Street -- 3 Years Tomorrow

American Street: Nearly three years down and more’s a-coming

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:24 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Steve Kangas -- "Strange Death"

Angry Bear refers to a Steve Kangas page, Historical Economic Statistics. This got me thinking about Steve Kangas again.

I blogged about him three years ago,

Back in the Reagan days I used to spend time arguing online with right-wingers (on CompuServe! - I even had a back-and-forth with Limbaugh once.) I used to research budget numbers and other statistics to refute the right-wing arguments, like "tax cuts cause revenue to increase," "welfare causes women to have more babies," and of course the old Republican standard, "blacks are less intelligent than whites." (I was working on a never completed book.) Eventually I came across a website of a guy doing very similar work - Steve Kangas and his Liberalism Resurgent pages. He was even in the same town as me, although I never met him.
On Feb. 8 1999, Steve Kangas was found dead in a bathroom near Richard Mellon Scaife's office. It was ruled a suicide.

About Me by Steve Kangas.

His home page and Liberalism Resurgent are mirrored as a tribute.

Tribute to Steve Kangas

There's a Steve Kangas page at BartCop.

The Strange Death of Steve Kangas

Steve Kangas: Suicide?

Evidence of Kangas' murder

While ruled a suicide, questions still linger about the death of Steve Kangas

From Scaife's newspaper, actually a very good article, Suicide leaves more questions than answers,

... Among those who knew him, Kangas, who left the world in a sudden, inexplicable moment of self-directed violence, is now a cipher.

A man of professed nonviolence who argued against gun ownership, Kangas bought a gun, left Las Vegas and hid out in a restroom near the offices of conservative publisher Richard Mellon Scaife, against whom he had written. Moments after a building engineer stumbled across him around 11:30 p.m. Feb. 8, Kangas shot himself.

He left no suicide note. There was no manifesto. Police found $14.63 in his pockets and a nearly empty whiskey bottle nearby. He had three books, a few magazines, socks and toilet paper in his backpack. What was in his head is anybody's guess.

Who was Steve Kangas, and what was he doing on the 39th floor of One Oxford Centre in the dying hours of that Monday night? Scaife's organization hired a private detective to try to find out.

[. . .] On the Internet, he was read by an assortment of people who love to debate politics. His online biography tells of a guy who joined the Army after high school and wound up working in military intelligence, both in Central America and Germany, during the waning days of the Cold War.

To friends in Santa Cruz, the easygoing California town where he attended college from 1987 to 1994 without completing his degree, Kangas was a masterful chess player and former president of the local chess club.

One acquaintance described him as a gambler. Another remembered him as living just one step from homelessness as he eked out a marginal living selling free-lance writings to a Colorado Web site.

Flash ahead a few years to 1997 and it was Steve Kangas the swell.

He joined P.W. Enterprises, a Las Vegas firm developing software that combines assorted factors on racehorses and, its creators hope, comes up with consistent winners. The company currently is marketing the software in Hong Kong.

He told his sister he made as much as $200,000 in one year. When she mentioned, in passing, that she needed to save some money, Kangas sent her six $100 bills in the fall of 1997.

"He took great pride in that," she said.

[. . .] One of Kangas' online essays, "Origins of the Overclass," purports to show "why the richest 1 percent have exploded ahead since 1975, with the help of the New Right, Corporate America and, surprisingly, the CIA."

Toward the end of the essay, he introduces Scaife and tells of the billionaire's role - later confirmed - in running a London news agency that was a CIA front.

The essay also discusses Scaife's donations to various right-wing think tanks and other organizations.

Kangas went into greater detail on Scaife in another piece discussing the "vast right-wing conspiracy" that first lady Hillary Clinton has claimed was aligned against President Clinton.

The piece is largely a rehash of previously published accounts of Scaife's involvement with think tanks and the American Spectator's "Arkansas Project," to which Scaife contributed more than $1.8 million in an effort to dig up dirt on Clinton.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:58 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A Question About Withdrawal From Iraq

I have a question for those who advocate that we "just leave" Iraq: We wrongly invaded, destroyed their infrastructure and killing hundreds of thousands. Do we pay reparations? Do we pay to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq? Do we pay death benefits to the families? What TERMS do we offer to end the war? (If you think that wars just end when one side decides to "just leave" I suggest opening a history book.)

Do we prosecute the people who started the war? What do we do if Iran and their Taliban-like government ends up in control of the region?

Seriously, where does the thinking go AFTER "just leave?" Is "just leave" about more than getting the horror of this out of our faces for a while? My own opinion is that "just leave" ignores the dimensions of the mess that Bush has created.

What am I proposing? Yesterday I wrote "I think it is urgent that the US not have invaded Iraq. We should do absolutely everything we can to prevent the United States from having invaded Iraq." Apart from that, I'm proposing that we come to grips with the depths of the real mess we are in. Just leaving might be the right thing to do - AFTER an informed debate that looks at the various LONG-TERM potential outcomes, including the rise of a Taliban in control of the resources of an oil-rich nation-state. We have depleted our military. What if Korea erupts? What if something happens between China and Taiwan? South America? Rep. Murtha pointed out that these are serious reasons to withdraw from Iraq "as soon as practicable."

The best option just might be to retreat now and start building the military we will need to deal with a Taliban-Iran-Iraq superpower ten or twenty years down the road.

Comments please.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:52 AM | Comments (36) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush Has Explaining To Do

Iraqi Leaders Call for Pullout Timetable,

Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a ``legitimate right'' of resistance.
And what about those attacking American forces?
In Egypt, the final communique's attempt to define terrorism omitted any reference to attacks against U.S. or Iraqi forces. Delegates from across the political and religious spectrum said the omission was intentional. They spoke anonymously, saying they feared retribution.
Bush invaded Iraq. He installed a constuitution that makes Iraq an Islamic state. The leaders of Iraq have signed a military cooperation agreement and a friendship treaty with Iran.

Bush needs to explain why we are in Iraq and needs to explain his strategy for success. He needs to explain how setting Iran up as the superpower of the Middle East was in our interests, and wht he is going to do about it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:54 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Iraq and the Nation: Doing The Right Thing (a Green rant)

The referendum on the Iraqi Constitution has come and gone, passed, and been demonstrably irrelevant in its effect on the day to day lives of Iraqi citizens (and the American soldiers conducting the war). We continue to pour untold billions of dollars down the rathole of occupation, with little or no benefit to the Iraqi people (and certainly no demonstrable benefit to the U.S. taxpayer). The only rational means of stemming the bleeding is an end to the occupation, and the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

The call by a few Democrats for a withdrawal plan by the end of 2006 is encouraging only in the abstract, as evidence that the ultimate futility of the situation is beginning to dawn on our "leaders" in Washington. That even this weak position is a minority one within the leadership of the Democratic Party is atrocious, since it translates to nothing less than another full year of inaction while the human and monetary losses, in Iraq and at home, continue to mount. How is this rational? What compelling argument can be made that things will be fundamentally different a year from now (as opposed to a year ago)?

"Resident" Bush and his coitere of neo-"conservative" unilateralist thugs, along with their collaborators in the Republican House and Senate have brought shame and international condemnation on our nation, defied international standards of decent conduct and shown an unsurpassed contempt for the rights and privileges granted by the U.S. Constitution. In the process, they have immesurably damaged our national security, both now and in the future, by weakening our moral authority and the credibility of multi-lateral international institutions.

China and India are three or four times our size, and will soon have economies equal to and greater than our own, along with the military and economic might to match... the international institutions and standards of conduct the present administration has displayed so much contempt for are likely to be the only thing that stands between us and the raw economic and military power of those twin superpowers in the 21st century. Weakening them is a folly that will bring down the condemnation of history upon this administration, when future U.S. Presidents rue the day "Resident" Bush was ever (s)"elected".

But let us not forget: Bush has done this with the aid and consent of the Democratic Party's leadership (are at least the passive failure to mount a strong and effective opposition) - most of whom voted for the war, and many of whom are only now (if even that) putting forth weak mea culpas. Their failure to mount a substantive opposition to the Bush Administration's policies of global destruction (let's not forget the environmental havoc Bush's policies have wrought) has only compounded the failure of the mainstream media to fulfill it's most basic functions: to inform and educate the public on the full implications of the actions taken (or not) by our government and leaders, and to act as a check on the untrammeled arrogance of power. We need to hold them all accountable, and we need new political leadership (and it won't come from the Democratic Party or Republican "mavericks").

Rep. John Murtha (D-Penn.) and those other Congress members who have condemned the Iraq War deserve our thanks, but why did it take them so long to speak out? They're only saying now, what we all knew in early 2003, even before the invasion begun: the war was and is based upon a lie, and a delusional neo-con vision of transforming the Middle East into a democratic paradise by force of arms (while simultaneously securing their oil for our own uses).

While most of the Democratic Party (including just about all of the leadership, past and present) and the media fell for the White House's fraudulent claims (in some cases, even helping forward them as credible), tens of millions of Americans were skeptical. (to say the least). Many of us spoke out and demonstrated against the invasion, including those of us in Green Party, whose presence at the many anti-war protests I attended in 2002 and 2003 was matched only by the myriad array of "WWWD" (What Would Wellstone Do?) banners - the Democratic Party as an institution was utterly absent (and has been, at every point since) at the same time the Green Party was (and has been) institutionally invested in supporting the anti-war effort at every level.

When Republicans and many Democrats voted to transfer Congress's constitutionally mandated war power to the White House in October 2002, they undermined the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches, and created the foundation for the deceit and massive abuse of power that would be (and is being) perpetrated by the Bush Administration's radical ideologues.

There was plenty of intelligence by early 2003 to show that Saddam Hussein had no WMDs, although CIA analysts were pressured to show otherwise - even Henry Waxman's database of misleading statements can only muster up the courage to suggest that opinion was divided, when all evidence suggests that only a few ideologies in Richard Perle's renegade coitere of politicized analysts seriously believed this was the case. The inspectors' search for WMDs in Iraq had turned up nothing when President Bush interrupted them by launching the invasion. The accusation that Saddam Hussein had conspired with al-Qaeda was never plausible, and Bush officials already knew that the nuclear weapons charge was based on a forgery. President Bush, in his 2003 State of Union address, and Secretary of State Colin Powell, in his February 2003 speech before the UN, misled the US and the world -- and the Democratic Party's leaders in Congress should have known it, and called them on their deception right then and there, regardless of what the polls indicated about Bush's level of support (we Californian's know how euphemeral a 70% approval rating can be, in the face of a skilled and withering assault combined with a few mis-statements and blunders).

"Resident" Bush still insists that the invasion of Iraq was a necessary part of his 'War on Terror', even though no one outside of his administration and its apologists seriously believe that Iraq played any role whatsoever in the 9/11 attacks or had any serious level of involvement with Al Queda. The Democratic Party's leadership has yet to seriously challenge him on this fundamental point, or to highlight the negative effect the war in Iraq has had on our international standing, and the opinion of the woman and man on the street in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere (to say nothing of how it has fanned the flames of radical Arab and Islamic nationalism, and lead to a flood of easy recruits for Al Quada and other terrorist organizations).

Ever since the Project for a New American Century (whose leaders now hold positions in the Bush Administration) tried to persuade President Clinton to invade Iraq in 1989, it has been clear that an extreme Republican faction wanted to remove Saddam Hussein and gain control over Iraq's oil resources. This faction has reintroduced the concept of invasion for 'preemptive' purposes, which had been outlawed after World War II by international laws, including the UN Charter, to which the US was signatory.

Ahmed Chalabi recently visited Washington and met with Vice President Cheney and other leaders. This is the same Ahmed Chalabi who fed the US misinformation about Iraqi WMDs, who allegedly passed US secrets to Iran, who was convicted of embezzlement in Jordan -- and was named Interim Oil Minister in Iraq, with the Bush Administration's blessing. If this isn't a political resurrection to rival, and perhaps even surpass, that of Richard Nixon, I can't imagine what else would be. Frightening, ridiculous, a mockery of all that is right and sane... these are all words that still fail to due justice to the absurdity of Chalabi's political resurrection and subsequent tour of Washington, D.C. under the aegis of the American Enterprise Institute. With barely a whimper of protest from the Democratic Party about the presence of this treasonous and criminal character on our soil.

The news from Iraq could hardly be worse, and shows no signs of improving: 2,000-plus dead American servicemembers (at least), over 10,000 severely wounded, over 100,000 eligible for disability benefits; tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians (at least), untold millions more physically and mentally scarred for life (including many many children); a flood of evidence of torture in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and other sites, prompting the absurdity of Senator McCain being forced to have the Senate formally declared that torture is not formal U.S. policy; wartime profiteering on an untold scale by firms like Halliburton that hold multi-billion-dollar single-source contracts (not to mention record profits being made by oil companies such as Exxon-Mobil); the use of hyper-toxic depleted uranium and outlawed chemical weapons (white phosphorus) in civilian areas like Fallujah... the list goes on and on and on (and this is only Iraq related policies). Meanwhile, White White House officials commit literal treason in an attempt to smear war critics as unpatriotic, and Vice President Cheney lobbies for de jure legalization of a defacto Bush Administration policy of torture (conducted both by U.S. forces and sub-contracted out to pliant third world governments, such as Syria) that it took a Republican to put on the front burner.

While we have to endure three more years of Mr. Bush's lawless, rock-bottom presidency--a "Residency" that has fostered a proliferation of bumper stickers along the lines of "Richard Nixon Is No Longer THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER" (which is saying something)--we know it will eventually come to a final and definitive end (absent, of course, an even more radical turn of events), this is not the worst we have to look forward to. The perfidity and political cowardice of the national Democratic Party's leadership leaves us with the very strong possibility that the Bush Administration's worst legacy, Iraq, could continue to live on, indefinitely, under the aegis of a Democratic war hawk like Sen. Hillary Clinton (much like Vietnam dragged on for another 7 miserable years under Nixon and Ford after destroying LBJ's administration) - one of many Democrats under the delusion that pouring even MORE troops (and money, and blood sweat and tears and the treasure and toil of overworked and underpaid working and middle-class American taxpayers) into Iraq is the best solution available to end the war in Iraq.

Five years from now, if the biggest issue entering the 2010 election season is the Democratic Party's conduct of the war in Iraq, I won't hesitate to say I told you so, and say then, what I'm going to say now: the only real, authentic alternative to the warmongering corporate dominated duopoly that dominates the American political scene is not the "progressive" wing (dare I say, "wing-tip"?) of the Democratic Party, but rather, the Green Party, the only party established around a set of core values that by their very nature, preclude corporate co-optation and criminal warmongering.

The Green Party of the United States is part of an international movement, one that is growing stronger and more widespread and more effective politically every day, a movement that truly "puts people first" (and the world around them) - the only party that has a real vision for the future that consists of more than empty slogans and recycled rhetoric.

The Ten Key Values of the Green Party of the United States (California version):

Ecological Wisdom
Nonviolence
Social Justice
Grassroots Democracy
Decentralization
Community-Based Economics
Feminism
Respect for Diversity
Personal and Global Responsibility
Sustainability

For more details, visit this web page: http://www.cagreens.org/platform/10k.htm

If this isn't a platform for the 21st century, one that addresses the key issues we as a nation (and world) face, I don't know what is. These are the nstitutional and spiritual core values of the Green Party - I challenge anyone to come up with a Democratic Party document of equal weight, significance to party doctrine, and relevance to the challenges we face today. I KNOW the Republican Party has nothing of the sort.

If you agree, then it is far past time to do the right thing, for Iraq, and the nation, and the world: join the Green Party, and help it transform the American political landscape from a desolate Republicatic monoculture, to one where the average voter has a real choice that speaks to his or her true values when she or he walks up to the ballot box. Pragmatism be damned, it is time to stand up and be counted.

What would you rather tell someone thirty years from now? "Yes, I collaborated with the Democrats and Republicans to ruin the environment and perpetrate the miserable fiasco that was the Iraqi war," or "No, I was a part of the grassroots opposition, helping to make the Green Party what it is today, a proud and effective voice for the life of the planet and the people on it."

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:35 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 21, 2005

The Intelligence Had Nothing Too Do With It - Good OR Bad

Talking about the intelligence at all is another tree trick. See the forest, read Once Upon a Time...: Walking into the Iran Trap, Part I

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Blog Fight!

Confederate Yankee: Aid and Comfort. Go state our side of the story.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:39 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

What Do We Do About Iraq?

I think it is urgent that the US not have invaded Iraq. We should do absolutely everything we can to prevent the United States from having invaded Iraq. But since the U.S. already did I think that the people who engineered that invasion should be brought before the World Court and hung for the crime of committing aggressive war. Just as after WWII the world needs to SEE that this is what happens to people who start wars. And I think the entire "conservative movement" machine with its corrupt DeLay/Norquist/Reed/Abramoff lobbying/funding should be dismantled and prosecuted and imprisoned. I think democracy demands this.

That said, what do we do now? Iraq is really a no-win situation, for millions and millions of people. So looking at what should be done about Iraq I think we need to undertand that the reality is that none of us have any say over what will happen. And another reality to consider: Bush is getting ready to cut and run and retreat because The Party sees a late-2006 "War is Over" announcement as a way to keep power.

Again -- anything you or I say should happen is not relevant to what will happen. It is simply blowing hot air into the wind and nothing more.

Consider the post-withdrawal phase of what happens in Iraq and the Middle East. Bush will never allow the right thing to happen. He will never allow the UN or Europe to step in and provide sufficient peacekeepers to keep the lid on -- if Bush's cronies can't have the oil they can't either.

Suppose full-scale civil war breaks out with hundreds of thousands killed. Suppose the Shiites wipe out the Sunnis with millions dead. Suppose Iran winds up in control of central Iraq and the southern oil fields and launches full-scale war against a weakened U.S. Suppose the Kurds break out for independence and Turkey invades? None of us know if these terrible things will happen or not. All of us understand these are possible, even likely.

Now, think about this. If any of those results of withdrawal do occur, there will be an all-out right-wing noise machine effort to pin blame on those now calling for leaving, even though they none of us have any say in what happens.

So considering that this is what's most likely to happen, and considering the potential consequences of the coming Bush withdrawal, doesn't it make a lot more sense to be demanding to see Bush's plan for success in Iraq than to be calling for us to just leave? It's a question Bush can't answer - because there is no answer. So let's pin it all on him instead of us.

In summary, what we should "do" is Blame Bush. It's the only thing we CAN do.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:57 PM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Pentagon Described White Phosphorus as a CHEMICAL Weapon

Note - see the recent A Challenge to Dave and my reply.

The Pentagon was recently forced to admit - after denying - that it had used White Phosphoros (WP) as a weapon in Iraq. So the right-wing defense changed from "we didn't do it" to "it's not a chemical weapon." (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and how many more?)

It turns out that when convenient the Pentagon does describe WP as a chemical weapon.

Think Progress has the goods:

A formerly classified 1995 Pentagon intelligence document titled “Possible Use of Phosphorous Chemical” describes the use of white phosphorus by Saddam Hussein on Kurdish fighters:
IRAQ HAS POSSIBLY EMPLOYED PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST THE KURDISH POPULATION IN AREAS ALONG THE IRAQI-TURKISH-IRANIAN BORDERS. […]
In other words, the Pentagon does refer to white phosphorus rounds as chemical weapons — at least if they’re used by our enemies.
Go to Think Progress for the links and the rest.

Update - More at The Reaction.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:27 PM | Comments (20) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Dividers, Not Uniters

I left a comment at this right-wing post, GOP Bloggers: Democrat-MSM Axis Taking Its Toll on Troops:

The article quotes Bush Admin. officials, not "troops."

This is a blog named "GOP Bloggers" echoing Bush Admin. officials who are repeating the Bush admin line that half of all Americans (60% now) are "traitors." Nothing more.

When the Republican Party so obviously works to divide the American people rather than bring them together - to the [point of calling 60% of Americans "traitors" - is it any wonder that the public starts to decide that the war is not serious? If it REALLY was a serious situation placing the country in danger you'd be unifying the public not dividing them.

The Party's propaganda line is that the country faces the most serious threat since WWII. In a situation like that you would think the people in charge would be working to strengthen the country in every way possible.

But we can all see that they are running the country into massive debt with tax cuts for the rich, cutting education and infrastructure, and doing everything they can to split us apart, north against south, city against country, rich against poor, fundamentalist Christian against everyone else, and accuse 60% of us of being "traitors."

For example, a right-wing blog has this today, Zarqawi Still Alive, The Left Celebrates, but when you click through to find out what "celebration" they are talking about, this is it:

The death if Zarqawi would be a positive step in fighting terrorism and, one hopes, suppressing the violence in Iraq.
THAT was the "celebration." THAT was the grounds for accusing people of treason - a hanging offense.

Watch what they DO, not what they say. And watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:50 AM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 20, 2005

"Iraq on the Record"

Got this off a Green Party email list. Thought it worth redistributing:

http://democrats.reform.house.gov/IraqOnTheRecord/

This is a searchable collection of 237 specific misleading statements made by Bush, put together by Democratic House Member Henry Waxman of Los Angeles. Note the focus: this is a database of LIES, not mistakes or false statements made as the result of incorrect information.

It contains statements that were misleading based on what was known to the Administration at the time the statements were made. It does not include statements that appear mistaken only in hindsight. If a statement was an accurate reflection of U.S. intelligence at the time it was made, it was excluded even if it now appears erroneous.

Please email this URL and the information below to everyone you know. Spread the truth to help bring America back to its senses.

Excerpts from the original email:

This week we have been subjected to an intense disinformation campaign by the Bush administration. Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld have been declaiming that Democrats and antiwar critics are rewriting the history of the
lead up to the war in Iraq. McCarthyite slander by the administration and other Republicans is being directed at anyone who stands up and speaks out.

"Iraq on the Record" is searchable by the the five Administration officials most responsible for providing public information and shaping public opinion on Iraq:

President George W. Bush
Vice President Dick Cheney
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell
Then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice

It is also searchable by issue area:

Iraq's Nuclear Capabilities
Chemical and Biological Weapons
Iraq and Al-Qaeda
Iraq as an Urgent Threat

In addition, it is searchable by keyword, such as "mushroom cloud", "uranium", or "bin Laden."

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 12:55 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Is this country big enough for the two of us? Maybe.

I received the following in my inbox yesterday morning. It did not put me in a good mood.

Here's an excerpt:

"Queers and perverts will be able to marry and adopt children that will propagate the same mentally ill lifestyles. What ever happened to common sense?"

Oh yeah, this guy's "ministry" accepts tax-deductible donations to spread this crap - in prisons. Freakin' wonderful (not).

My comments follow the full text of his letter (below, below "the fold").

LETTER TO IRAQI PATRIOTS

By Rick Mathes
http://www.missiongateministry.org/

Dear Cousins,

Please accept the god we trust in and you too will share in these advantages of our culture:

  • Eliminating God from government and replacing Him with any god you may choose will conform to our “In any gods we trust” motto.
  • M.D.’s (murdering doctors) will kill your unwanted babies as they struggle to wiggle their way into the arms of parents that don’t want them.
  • The aged, disabled and unproductive will be given the option of a dignified death by the same M.D.’s that have said an oath of preserving life.
  • Queers and perverts will be able to marry and adopt children that will propagate the same mentally ill lifestyles. What ever happened to common sense?
  • Weekend marriages (married on Fri and divorced on Mon) will become the new rage.
  • Legalizing prostitution will eliminate the curse of immorality and adultery.
  • The underprivileged minorities will gamble their last dinar and the ruling class will pay fewer taxes because of their squandering of money and addiction to chance.
  • We will install our “dumbing-down” Department of Education so that the elite will continue to have control and authority over lower class repressed students.
  • Pornography will be very available in every form on the pretence that this will prevent “acting out” acts of sexual offences.
  • Our new enemy interrogation methods will be photographed and published uncut at a wonderful profit that will help the salary needs of “mentally sick” army personnel.
  • Our capitalistic corporate leaders will teach you how to rip off millions from fellow citizens and only have small and insignificant penalties to pay without complete restitution.
  • We will export our profitable prison industry as we have become the number one nation in the world expanding industry profits from incarcerating the most number of prisoners.
  • And we will show you how you too can merchandise “Kentucky Fried Christianity” as we have so that you too will never have to be accountable to God for the 10 Commandments our country was founded on.

Judge Roy Moore told me that the question our country needs to resolve is,

“Can the State acknowledge God?”

Upon that answer, our future as a nation “under God” rests.

We the ungodly people of Amerika do strongly encourage you to accept our superior culture or we will blow your country to dust, except the oil fields of course!

Signed:

The Godless people of Amerika


Point one: this guy's criticism of the country is remarkably similar to that of Osama Bin Ladin.

Point two: My initial reaction.... this guy can go bleep himself.

Point three: There's potential here, I think (outside of the wedge social issues), for a "populist" approach that unites us under the banner of resistance to domination by an amoral materialist elite intent on commercializing every last square inch of our culture and lives, destroying the planet and twisting the psyche of the people inhabiting it.*

The right has been bleeping these people over for fourty years, promising and failing to deliever on the social issues, and simultaneously destroying their standard of living and poisoning the culture with a purely materialistic ethos of consumption, consumption, consumption. Not very "Christian", and something guaranteed to create anomie and despair among a population of youth unable to live up to the standards set by Snoop Dogg, Britney Spears, and their ilk. Someone needs to say "The Emperor has no clothes."

That person also needs to say, "Look - you can have a token commitment toa limited set of your social issues from the right (with little or no real results), and continue to see your standard of living, and that of your children, degraded - or you can accept that you're not going to win on a certain set of social issues, ally yourselves with us, and give your children a fighting chance for a decent quality of life, yourself a chance at a reasonably secure retirement, and we'll work with you on figuring out how we can jointly mold the culture into something less crassly commercial and materialistic.

Your children's real problems aren't queers and abortion: they are drug and alcohol abuse, underfunded schools that leave them unequipped to compete with highly educated Chinese and Indian workers getting paid $3.00 an hour, and a culture of conspicous consuption with a purely materialistic ethos that says anything goes, as long as you can afford it, and that says everything should be handed to them on a silver plate with no effort, and if it isn't, then they're a failure. Your kids aren't likely to ever be able to live like Britney Spears and Snoppy Doggy Dog (especially on $7.00 an hour), but every piece of media they are exposed to says they should. That's your choice: what's more important to you... your children's future (and your retirement), or queers and abortion?"

That's awkwardly phrased, but you get the point: the right has a formula that has worked for them for years... the left, prior to its current incarnation, also had a formula - basic social and economic populism. Let's use it: focus on the real issues, the meat and potatoes of politics, on the constituent's doorsteps, in their faces every day. Rant on about how the titans of industry have corrupted the culture, exploited the people, destroyed our standard of living, and exported jobs and hope overseas. People in Britain are already migrating to India for decent jobs... what does that say about their future job prospects here?

By the way... I'm listening to Pearl Jam: No Code ... right, it is "Who You Are". I picked it up out of a box of junk that someone left out by the dumpster at my office complex (mostly empty CD Jewel Cases). Also got a Cranberries album. I didn't like it at first, but it is growing on me...


* I was going to go into a long rant about how this guy, and all the folks like him, can go bleep themselves, and how impossible it is for a society to accomodate such widely divergent points of view, and how he and his wingnut Jesus freak friends can go off to some alternately freakishly cold and insanely hot and humid hellhole in the Midwest and fight amongst themselves all they want over whether dancing is a sin and alcohol can be sold on Sunday (or at all), just as long as they leave me and California out of their crazed battles. But, I decided not to.

Told you I was in a bad mood...

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 12:49 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

California Voting Machines Emergency?

Apparently the Republican Secretary of State in California may be stealthily REVERSING the previous Democratic Secretary of State's decertification of Diebold paperless voting machines! Raw Story and Brad Blog have stories about this (links below). Here's a summary: Democratic Secretary of State Shelley had decertified Diebold machines as dangerous to democracy. (He also sought to prosecute the company for lying to state officials.) Then, after the recall and Schwarzenegger's election Shelley was forced out of office on contrived charges, with a Republican appointed in his place. Now there is funny business going on and it looks like Diebold may be coming back. I tracked down a new document [Note - PDF] outlining requirements for voting machines, and the previous requirement that they produce paper ballot backups is NOT on the list.

THE BRAD BLOG: "California Sec. of State Disbands Voting Panel, Leans Toward Reversal of Previous Stance Against Diebold!"

Election reform advocates had hoped Diebold touch-screen voting machines would be permanently decertified in the country's largest "voting market" (as Diebold likes to refer to it) after a massive test of their AccuVote DRE machines earlier this year revealed a 20% failure rate. But a more recent test, secretly held at Diebold Election System's McKinney Texas headquarters, apparently in violation of California state law, has resulted in what appears to be a last minute about-face from California's Republican Sec. of State, Bruce McPhereson. The latest news has now thrown everything into doubt in the state concerning the future of electronic voting here.
Raw Story has:
On Monday, November 21st, California’s Voting System Panel (VSP) was slated to hold public hearings on whether to recertify Diebold TSX touchscreen machines.
The previous Secretary of State set up the Voting Systems Panel, and they recommended banning Diebold. The new Sec. of State disbanded the panel. Instead of a "hearing" before a panel who will decide the issue, the state will provide a room and a tape recorder. The people will speak into the tape recorder and that will be called a "public hearing." The location of the "hearing" was also kept secret.
“We had to be full time detectives to find out when this hearing would be held,” Healy stated, adding that CEPN discovered the hearing announcement posted on an obscure portion of the Secretary of State’s website, not the usual location for public meeting notices.

Election reform experts who had filled out cards at prior meetings asking to be notified of future events received no notification, she added.

Thru BadGimp there is also a web page from the "Election Justice Center".

More from True Blue Liberal, EMERGENCY - CA’s Republican SOS Plans To Steal Your Vote. This Should PISS You OFF!, Scatablog, California Voting Machines

Update - Action page here. A Kos diary on this is here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:36 PM | Comments (12) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Democrats Are United In Opposition To Bush's War

That's not what the headline says for Brownstein's column this morning, but the facts in his column tell a different tale. The sub-heading is accurate: Party lawmakers who have rallied around a general push to pull troops from Iraq still disagree on what remedies to offer, if any.

The Democratic Party is universally opposed to Bush's war. The only question is over what the correct strategy and tactics should be. Let's take a look at the facts in Brownstein's column.

The most revealing fact Brownstein offers is the result of a recent poll:

As public opinion has soured on the war, support for withdrawing troops has grown, according to recent surveys. Nineteen percent of respondents to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll released last week supported an immediate withdrawal, and 33% said that all American troops should be pulled out within a year — meaning that a majority wants all troops home by the end of 2006.

Among independents, 56% want all troops home within a year, among Democrats 67%, the poll found.

If 67% of all Democrats want the troops pulled out within a year, it is a very safe assumption that over 75% want them home within two years. We can quibble over how long the odd 20 to 25% of remaining Democrats want to keep our soldiers in Iraq, but there are very few issues that will get that level of support in the Democratic Party.

Here's the problem the Democratic Party has:

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that based on the conversations that produced Senate Democrats' proposal, Reid believed hardly any Senate Democrats would sign on to Murtha's approach today.

Yet supporters and opponents of the war agree that the cry of opposition from Murtha — a leading military hawk during his three decades in Congress — is likely to mark a milestone in the war debate.

"Clearly it was a bombshell and it does shift the debate quite dramatically," said Ivo H. Daalder, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution who was a National Security Council aide under President Clinton.

Many Democratic political strategists and foreign policy analysts have long believed the party can benefit more from criticizing Bush's handling of the war than from specifying an alternative.

Large numbers of Senate Democrats have a position on Bush's war that is out of touch with at least 75% of the Democratic Party. The position of 75% of the Democratic Party is by definition the mainstream position of the Democratic Party.

If you want another good laugh, read Jonathan Chait's editorial, How To Make An Honest Case For Iraq:

It's been a bleak few months for those in the Bush administration. It's become clear that they're not good at fighting counterinsurgencies in Iraq. They're not good at handling natural disasters. They're not good at managing the budget. They're not even good at avoiding indictments.

What are they good at? Oh, yes: running against John Kerry.

Of course, this isn't a very difficult task, but you have to go with your strengths. And so President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney last week took after Kerry in a series of speeches on Iraq. As David Kusnet, speechwriter for President Clinton, has pointed out, it is rare and probably unprecedented for a president to attack his vanquished foe. Clinton awarded a medal to Bob Dole after beating him in 1996.

The point here isn't to defend poor, put-upon Kerry. In fact, Kerry, who persists in his bizarre delusion that he has a chance to win the 2008 nomination, is thrilled to have his profile raised. Kerry and Bush have a shared interest in making you believe that if you don't like George W. Bush, you must like John Kerry.

The reason Bush wants to do this, of course, is that he's an unpopular president. He just had the good fortune of running for reelection against a pitiful and hard-to-like foe. He seems to have given up on making the public approve of him and has fallen back on reminding them that they really hate Kerry.

Did Bush really make another pitch for a flag burning amendment? Right. Let's amend the United States Constitution to fix a problem that doesn't exist. Now that's a sign of desperation.As Chait points out, there hasn't been a single flag burning since Bush was elected.

Here's Chait's brilliant attempt at making an honest case for Bush's war:

hat case is that Iraq is in danger of becoming a failed state and terrorist haven, like Afghanistan. Yes, our invasion caused it to be so, but here we are. If terrorists gain access to Iraq's state power and oil wealth, we'll face dire consequences down the road. The liberals and moderates who supported the war in Afghanistan would support a campaign in Iraq that's based on similar grounds.

Uh, Johnny? You might want to stick to speaking for yourself, instead of attempting to speak for those of us who have half a brain. That approach will not get the support of anyone who is not already a neo-con or a stay the course bonehead liberal warmonger.

The facts may be shrill, but they are still facts. Sixty-seven percent of the Democratic Party supports Jack Murtha and withdrawal from Iraq in one year. Nothing that happens or anyone says is likely to change that stubborn fact.


Posted by Gary Boatwright at 6:38 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 19, 2005

Are Democrats Cowards?

Josh opened a real can of worms at TPM with this post and this postthat both answer in the affirmative.

I posted a few select comments from TPM Cafe at MyDD, Are Democrats Cowards?

Josh opened up a new thread at TPM Cafe where there is nearly universal agreement that by their failure to establish a brand identify, their unwillingness to fight back and their failure to oppose Bush's legislative agenda Democrats have been branded in the minds of the American people as cowards.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 11:17 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Death Squads

Read Billmon: Whiskey Bar: The Salvadoran Option II.

It's happening again -- if you remember the 80's. Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:57 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

While Kicking Democrats Out Of Needed Motel Rooms, FEMA Money To Republican Cities Not Hit By Hurricane

Evacuees Face Housing Crunch,

Thousands of evacuees from the Gulf Coast are staying in hotel rooms in Georgia and Texas, but they will have to find other accommodations in about two weeks.

At the federal Housing and Urban Development office in DeKalb County, several evacuees sought help Thursday at the agency, but were given little assistance.

"It's stressful," said evacuee Crystal Stanton. "It's cold out here and we have until the 31st, and FEMA is going to put us out on the street."

Meanwhile,Storm Hit Little, but Aid Flowed to Inland City,

The only damage sustained by most of the nearly 30,000 households receiving aid was spoiled food in the freezer.

[. . .] What happened in Jackson and its suburbs - in Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties - might not be unique. Emergency officials elsewhere in Mississippi and in parts of Louisiana have also questioned how so much federal aid could have been authorized, given the limited damage they documented.

[. . .] The disaster area in Mississippi - which is led by Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican ally of President Bush's - extends 200 miles farther north than that in Louisiana, which is led by Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a Democrat who at times criticized the federal storm response.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:11 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

What Will Be Repeated At Thanksgiving Tables

An addendum to my post below about long-term repetition of a narrative. This is my local paper's headline today, Tumult in House on Iraq pullout, and this is what it says,

GOP leaders had scheduled the vote on a proposal by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., to force the Bush administration to bring U.S. forces home now. The idea was to force Democrats to go on the record with a yes or no vote on a proposal that the Bush administration says would be equivalent to surrender.
You and I know this just repeats a Republican lie, but the people around the country do not know this. What they read this morning - and what will be repeated at Thanksgiving dinner tables next week - is that the Democrats have proposed surrendering, cutting and running, leaving Iraq immediately.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:31 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Next Long-Term Narrative -- Democrats Lost Iraq

Watch how a "narrative" develops and expands. Democrats want to "surrender" and "cut and run," such talk is "undermining the war effort" and "hurting the troops" and "aiding and comforting the enemy."

It's because the war is going badly and the Republicans are planning to cut and run. It's about blame for the loss in Iraq, and the consequences that will follow. And it's about long-term repetition of a strategic narrative until the public accepts it as solid truth.

You are starting to hear this narrative repeated everywhere. Get used to it, because you're going to be hearing it for many years. Today you think it sounds contrived and obvious, and you think the tide is turning on the Republicans. But over time this narrative could turn the loss in Iraq into a strength, not a defeat, for the Right. If, over time, the public blames the Democrats for the loss, the Right wins. And the Right understands this a lot better than the Democrats do.

Today's polls for Bush are because "Bush lied, people died" has been repeated consistently over time. This message has been heard because we have developed new, albeit tiny (blogs plus one or two radio networks), channels for communicating. And the message has been repeated for long enough that it has started to sink in. That's how it works. Consistent repetition of a simple, strategic narrative over time through multiple channels. But this repetition has been more of an accident than a coordinated strategy. "Bush lied, people died" is a clear enough message and true enough to resonate, so people have spread it largely through word-of-mouth.

The Right's narrative will dominate if they can reach more people, more often, over a longer period of time with the message that the Democrats sold us out by cutting and running. The question is who has the discipline and the means to win the message-repetition war, not just this short-term battle. Who do you think that will be? It's what the Right does, and does well. Today's narrative is based on the still-repeated lie that Democrats and the press forced the United States to surrender Viet Nam. Democrats and Progressives are not used to thinking long-term and are not used to thinking strategically.

Thie narrative "echoes" today. At Heritage Foundation's Townhall, Call them what they are -- TRAITORS by Mark M. Alexander,

Senators Harry Reid, Dick Durbin and Ted Kennedy have accused President George W. Bush of lying about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, insisting that he "lied us into war." Some Demo wing nuts are even floating the idea of impeachment. . . . In other words, Democrat Party leaders are using the gravely serious matter of the Iraq War for trivial political fodder -- and their politicization of our mission there has put our Armed Forces in the region in greater peril.

[. . .] Clearly this Democrat "leadership" is willing to turn our national-security interests into political fodder by accusing the President of the United States of lying us into a war. Problem is, the President had no political motive for Operation Iraqi Freedom -- only a legitimate desire to fulfill the highest obligation of his office: that of defending our liberty against all threats.

Ted, Dick and Harry, on the other hand, have plenty of political motivation for their perfidy -- and they've placed America's uniformed Patriots in the crossfire.

[. . .] In the end, American Patriots must call out Kennedy, Durbin, Reid, et al., for what they are: TRAITORS. How else to describe political leaders who so eagerly embolden our Jihadi enemies and erode the morale of our fighting forces in Iraq and around the world?

More examples of the narrative developing:

David Limbaugh, at NewsMax, Republicans Must Fight the Withdrawal Mania,

As for withdrawing our troops, Democratic leaders are talking to hear their heads rattle (and to score political points).

. . . To prematurely establish an arbitrary timetable for our troop withdrawal ... would give the terrorists a victory they could never attain on the battlefield. It would reinvigorate their cause by confirming their suspicion that the American infidels lack the resolve to persevere.

Heading toward a pressured and premature pullout?,
It's all nuts - this seeming congressional determination to turn not only on President Bush, but on the American troops fighting for freedom and democracy on the Iraqi front of the terror war.
Oliver North, How to lose a war -- the sequel,
For more than two years the so-called mainstream media, the far left and some in Congress have been making trite comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. Having spent a significant amount of time in both conflicts, about the only parallels I have seen in the two wars have been that bullets still wound and kill, and spilled blood is still red. But another common thread now ties the two hostilities together -- political cowardice in Washington, D.C.
Bush himself, Bush Rejects Calls for Iraq Withdrawal, in a speech to a military audience,
President Bush on Saturday swatted down calls in Congress for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, saying that American military leaders believe that retreat now would be "a recipe for disaster."

. . . "In Washington there are some who say that the sacrifice is too great, and they urged us to set a date for withdrawal before we have completed our mission," the president said. "Those who are in the fight know better."

Part of this narrative is clearly intended to give the troops someone to blame for the deaths of their comrades. The Rght wants them coming back home bitter, believing they were betrayed.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:14 AM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Play To Win

What a difference a day makes. Hat tip to Shauna Evans at BOP News, Play The Political Game To Win, for pointing out this Dana Milbank column:

It was a lonely day for once-mighty Murtha, who has long served as Democrats' conscience on military matters because of his moral authority on the subject. But Democrats were cutting and running yesterday -- not from Iraq, but from Murtha.

"I don't support immediate withdrawal," came the statement from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Aides to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hinted that she would back Murtha, but when she finally spoke, it came out as "Mr. Murtha speaks for himself."

Murtha being to the left of his Democratic caucus on military affairs is like Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) being to the right of the caucus on gay rights. But Murtha seemed unconcerned. Asked if he had any co-sponsors, he replied, "I didn't ask for any."

Let's hope that every single Democrat in Congress learned an important lesson about leadership from Jack Murtha's example. We can only hope that they also learned a lesson about being a tool of the RWNM.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:27 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush Wants A Fight? Raise The Stakes!

This is the conclusion of Steve Soto's piece last Tuesday, If White House Wants A Firefight On Its Credibility, Democrats Should Give Them One:

But while they are at it, Democrats should go ahead and expand the firefight to raise the stakes into an overall attack against the credibility of the Administration on a variety of fronts. Democrats could not only go after the lies that led up to the March 18, 2003 letter to Congress that started the war. They could also talk about how the Administration lied to Congress about the Medicare drug benefit. They could talk about the lies told to sell the country on the upper income tax cuts. They could talk about the lies told by the administration about who leaked Valerie Plame’s name. They could talk about the lies told by the administration about Social Security. They could talk about the lies told by the administration about how much the Iraq would, and continues to cost the taxpayers.

You get the idea. By returning fire on an issue of weakness, which is a signature Rovian tactic, the White House now invites a full-scale attack by Democrats on the issue of this administration’s pattern of deceit and lies to the American people. The Democrats should welcome this door opening by Rove, and drive a truck right through it.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 7:14 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

One More Race This Year

This is bumped back to the top. Send this guy some money!

Steve Young for Congress. Go look at the great special effect at his site.

This is the last race this year, and 30% would be a win. Even 30% would force the Republicans to spend to defend every single Congressional district next year, instead of focusing their resources. After what happened in last Tuesday's elections it would send a huge Democratic "momentum" message.

But, actually, Steve Young has a chance to win in this Republican district.

More later. Go donate -- help him get out the voters December 6. More ways to help here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:52 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 18, 2005

The Mythical Global War On Terrorism

It's time to end Bush's Global War On Terrorism. Rep. Murtha's initial statement was a perfect analysis, It is a flawed policy wrapped in an illusion. The flawed policy is Bush's Iraq war. The illusion Bush's flawed policy is wrapped in is the Global War On Terrorism.

The GWOT has never been an effective strategy for dealing with National Security And Terrorism. I initally settled for breaking Bush's GWOT into the two broad categories of Domestic Security and National Security beyond our domestic borders. A short time later, in January, I itemized six discrete aspects to Bush's mythical GWOT.

More recently I focused in on Bush's Failure On Nuclear Security.

Regardless of how much the neo-cons and the so called D.C. Strategic Class try to spin Bush's GWOT, it is still as much of a myth as a unicorn.

If Rep. Murtha has inspired you to become more active in opposing Bush's mythical GWOT, I put together a reasonablly comprehensive anti-war resource guide, Military Voices Against Endless War.

There are dozens of ways to get more active in putting a halt to Bush's illegal and immoral war. Pick one or just flip a coin and get busy. You can be a part of history instead of a bystander.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:11 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Republicans Went After the Wrong Marine

Daily Kos: Ugly GOP Smear Stunt Fails Its Objective,

By the end, the Republicans were denying that the resolution had anything to do with Murtha. Before they were labelling it the "Murtha Amendment."

The naked attack on dissent, this New McCarthyism, has been thoroughly discredited.

In short, the Republicans went after the wrong Marine.

Every Democract voted the same way. Things are changing.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:47 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

House Debate On Sham GOP Murtha Resolution

If you are tuning in late and missed the brouhaha in the House, Rep. Hunter put up a sham sense of the House resolution calling for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

Synopsis at MyDD by Scott Shields.

Issue Analysis at MyDD by Jonathan Singer.

As usual, it was live blogged at dkos and Anti-Murtha Resolution II here.

As I write this Rep. Murtha is getting a standing O from the Democrats prior to the vote on the actual sham resolution.

Also at MYDD Hackett has called out DeWine over Schmidt's remark.

If you are stopping by near or shortly after 7:00 p.m. PST, Air America is having a live discussion on The Majority Report with a promised appearance by Paul Hackett.

I'm listening to Rep. Murtha on CSPAN and The Majority Report on my laptop, because the radio show has been pre-empted by the Clippers.

[Update: Republican Vote of Shame III This live blogging diary at dkos covers Rep. Murtha's smackdown of the resolution and talking points. Murtha has been the only Democratic speaker and he is crushing Bush and the entire Republican Party.]

[Update II: 7:53 PST LIve Thread on Sham Murtha Resolution. It was just clarified on the floor of the House that the vote is on The Hunter Resolution, not the Murtha Resolution.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 6:48 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Reflections on Blogging to the Millionth Degree

If I had a dollar for every time someone has visited Seeing the Forest… I’d have a MILLION DOLLARS!

But I’m a Progressive blogger, so instead of being rich I have a day job. I once said that blogging really got going when so many people were laid off after the dot.crash. There's a lot of truth to that. Back then almost every blogger I was in contact with was unemployed. It's what gave ME time to get started. (Remember Odd Todd? He wasn't a blogger, but his excellent work is another example of what I am talking about.)

Every time you get one or more bloggers (or Progressives) together the talk turns to how people can’t make a living supporting the Progressive cause. Now there are a few bloggers making a living from ads, but those are rare exceptions. Blogging is done out of an inner need – more like a desperate drive – to say what we say. I know bloggers who are sacrificing a good income just to keep blogging and otherwise working for Progressive candidates or issues, but they are single and most don't have kids or health costs and have some way to keep going. But most people have families or other costs and responsibilities and it is a shame that the culture of Progressives does not include making a decent living from a commitment to helping.

The subject of pay for Progressives is an important subject about which I plan to be writing much more, but one comment now: One reason the Right is so successful is they understand that people naturally have priorities and one of those is making a living. From the Introduction to The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law,

This web of right-wing organizations funds and supports many other voices that speak on behalf of tort reform and other issues. The people who write the books are funded. The people who write the op-ed pieces are funded. The people who speak on radio and cable TV shows are funded. The people speaking to public interest organizations are funded. Even the people who initially write many of the templates for letters to the editor are funded. In addition to funding these individuals, the right-wing organizations provide them with institutional bases and access to publishers and media.
In fact, there are a number of (most?) very good writers, lawyers, politicians, operatives, etc. who working for the Right solely BECAUSE of the pay. This doesn't say good things about the content of their character, but they are smart and talented and the Right benefits -- the rest of society suffers the results. In contrast to this, Progressive organizations, when they can pay at all, are only able to offer about 1/3 of what I make in the "private sector." This is a problem that we have to solve. As I said, more on this subject later...

Focus
I have learned that it is very, very hard to have more than one main focus. Your main focus ought to be your main forcus. I’ve been blogging for more than three years, writing several posts most days, and many of those much more substantial (see "best of" in left column) than just dashed-off stuff about my dog or blogging from a car. (Though I did make history as the first person ever to post a picture of his dog (and here) from a National Political Convention and they can't ever take that away from me. Heh.) Newspaper columnists write a couple of columns per week, and get paid a lot. I still try to write several posts each morning before I have to attend to my other main focus but I know that my blogging - and thinking - has suffered since I took the tech job. (Vice President’n is hard work. It’s haaardd.)

ANYway ... here is what I would do with a million dollars…

I would blog full-time with more substantive posts. I would do more research, write more reports, do more to advocate building a Progressive Infrastructure to counter the Right. Along those lines I would give Commonweal Institute a bunch of money for general operating expenses, so they can launch their mission to bring to the broad general public positive information about the benefits of Progressive values and a Progressive approach to issues. The hope is that this - along with the same from many other organizations - will begin to counter the long-term propaganda campaign from the Right that has been relentlessly promoting conservatism, right-wing values and right-wing candidates. Over time this will bring back the public consensus that government is good, public schools are good, it's good to help the poor, war is wrong, it is a good idea to protect the environment, etc.

Of course I would give a lot of money to other organizations, as well as help out bloggers. I'd help them buy blog ads, for one thing, to announce things that people need to know about.

What would YOU do to help the Progressive cause, if you had a million dollars? Discuss.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:50 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush and Polls and Lies About Iraq

Bush is always sayng he doesn't pay attention to polls. Of course, he says that because polls show that people like to hear that.

So the polls for Bush have been dropping, and obviously Bush us reading these polls. That's why he's out accusing his critics of treason...

Bush accuses Iraq critics of "rewriting history" and endangering troops

Cheney attacks war critics as `dishonest, reprehensible'

Stung over Iraq, White House takes offensive

White House attempts to reverse declining support over Iraq

Bush's Attacks on Iraq War Critics Seek to Salvage Credibility

Bush turns to political base as war support wanes

etc.

Meanwhile, Bush Gang Swore Saddam Was Behind 9/11 In Lawsuit,

Much to the dismay of President Bush, Americans can remember all on their own, without any coaching from Democrats, that in the run up to war in Iraq, it was top official from the administration who were making the claim that Saddam was in cahoots with bin Laden and that he was secretly involved to 9/11.

The fact that the administration's disinformation campaign was entirely successful is evidenced by an October 2004, Harris Poll, taken three weeks before the last presidential election, which reported that 62% of all voters, and 84% of those planning to vote for Bush, still believed that Saddam had ''strong links" to Al Qaeda, and that 41% of all voters, and 52% of Bush backers, believed that Saddam had ''helped plan and support the hijackers" who had attacked the country on 9/11.

[. . .] The lawsuit represents the one and only time that the truth or falsity of the Saddam-9/11 connection has ever been tested. In the end, the Judge in the case delivered a verdict in favor of the families based on specific claims by Mylroie and top administration officials, that a definite link between Saddam and 9/11 did in fact exist.

US District Court Judge, Harold Baer, entered a default judgment for the plaintiffs in January 2003, because the time allowed for a response had passed, and the defendants had failed to file an answer to the plaintiff's complaint.

. . . In his written findings, Judge Baer acknowledged that he based his decision on the statements of Woolsey, Powell, Tenet, and Mylroie, all of whom he considered experts on the Saddam-9/11 connection, and said: "The opinion testimony of the plaintiffs' experts is sufficient to meet plaintiffs' burden that Iraq collaborated in or supported bin Laden/al Qaeda's terrorist acts of September 11. . ."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:10 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Democrats Read This

Matt Stoller has a post up, MyDD :: A Platform for 2006: Dream Big, Democrats. I know some of you "Washington Democrats" are reading here, so if you haven't yet, go read Matt's post.

  • Impeach the Secretary of Defense and all other responsible parties for incompetence and criminal negligence in the prosecution of the war in Iraq
  • A Constitutional Right to Privacy
  • A Higher Minimum Wage
  • Universal Health Care
  • Universal Free University Education
  • National Mass Transit
  • Full Corporate Governance Reform to End Corporate Corruption
  • National Free Internet Access and Copyright Reform
If I had to pick just one addition it would be the Apollo Alliance.
...a moonshot for energy independence and good jobs. A crash program for sustainable energy independence would create three million good jobs, free the nation from imported oil, and promote a healthier environment.
Jobs, energy, environment and strengthening the country. What's not to like? (Remember to join while your at their website.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:46 AM | Comments (8) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

We need a new national newspaper

In recent weeks, the cases of Judith Miller and Bob Woodward have made the decrepitude of the Washington Post and the New York Times evident to all, and with the hiring of the unspeakable Jonah Goldberg, the LA Times seems to have decided to get on the bandwagon.

To my handful of readers this is no surprise. They know that Arthur O. Sulzberger and Donald Graham are not confused moderates, but committed bad guys. (I know less about the LA Times' ownership, but I doubt that thy're any better).

So someone should be coughing up the dough for a new national newspaper. I'm sure that a lot of the best people on those three papers are ready to jump, and the market is there. The money required is considerable, but the newspaper would soon have its own revenue flow, and this really might be a business opportunity. (Some advance thinking about the role of print media in the age of the internet might be in order).

I keep hearing about liberals with money, but they usually seem to be hibernating somewhere.

Nothing I say is true until someone else says it, so one of my famous readers should pick this up and run with it. There's nothing unrealistic about what I'm saying; we're really at a big turning point both in media history and in American history.

(Revised to remove an unjustified attack on Michael Kinsley, who did NOT hire Goldberg.)

APPENDIX:

Q.: But wait! Aren't we talking about the liberal media? If both sides hate them, aren't they doing something right?

A.: No! Conservatives hate the Post and the Times for two reasons.

First, because the right has slid so far right that they think that Senator McCain is a liberal. You have the theocrats and the neo-confederates, and the admirers of Calvin Coolidge fighting with the admirers of William McKinley, and Tom Delay thinking that DDT is a vitamin supplement and that no one should ever send their kids to college, and so on. Those guys are nuts.

Second, they don't really hate them all that bad, but they've learned that if they make a lot of noise, they'll get their way. Why else would a respectable newspaper hire the inept and ridiculous Goldberg?


Posted by John Emerson at 5:30 AM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 17, 2005

Car-Blogging By the Ocean

I've been in Santa Cruz all day (listening to KPIG of course) drinking Chai and getting things done that had to be done. I'll write something about having a million visitors to Seeing the Forest later, after I get home. [got home too late - I'll post it tomorrow...]

But I just had to write this. We're sitting by the ocean in my car watching the sun go down, and I pulled out the computer and sure enough there are two or three houses with open wi-fi connections so I took a picture, downloaded it, and put up this post.

What you see is a picture of my laptop with the screen on the blogging input software, and the ocean out past West Cliff Drive. It's a really nice day.

Blogging by the ocean. Modern technology...

A little while later:

Sunset.

Update - a while later...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:55 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Rep. Murtha calls for immediate withdrawal

SF Chronicle

"The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home," said Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a former Marine intelligence officer in Vietnam and the senior Democrat on the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees military spending.

"The war in Iraq is not going as advertised,'' said Murtha, who in October 2002 voted for the resolution authorizing President Bush to take military action to oust Saddam Hussein. "It's a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of the members of Congress.''

CNN

"The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home," said Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a former Marine intelligence officer in Vietnam and the senior Democrat on the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees military spending.

"The war in Iraq is not going as advertised,'' said Murtha, who in October 2002 voted for the resolution authorizing President Bush to take military action to oust Saddam Hussein. "It's a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of the members of Congress.''

[Update: Transcript of a Q & A following Murtha's statement.

On CNN, Murtha also slammed Cheney for having five deferments, but attacking critics of a failed policy. Murtha slammed Bush for attacking his critics on Veterans Day.

This could be a Walter Cronkite moment for Bush's war. Dennis Hastert is saddened by Murtha's remarks. Poor baby.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 12:46 PM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Voting Machines Story

Thru Altercation, GAO report upholds Ohio vote fraud clai,

As if the indictment of Lewis “Scooter” Libby wasn’t enough to give the White House some heavy concerns, a report from the Government Accounting Office takes a big bite out of the Bush clique’s pretense of legitimacy.

This powerful and probing report takes a hard look at the election of 2004 and supports the contention that the election was stolen. The report has received almost no coverage in the national media.

The GAO is the government’s lead investigative agency, and is known for rock-solid integrity and its penetrating and thorough analysis. The agency’s agreement with what have been brushed aside as “conspiracy theories” adds even more weight to the conclusion that the Bush regime has no business in the White House whatever.

[. . .] These findings are even more damning when we understand the election in Ohio was run by a secretary of state who also was co-chairman of Bush’s Ohio campaign. Far from the conclusion of anti-fraud skeptics, the GAO’s findings confirm that the network, which handled 800,000 Ohio votes, was vulnerable enough to permit a handful of purposeful operatives to turn the entire election by means of personal computers using comparatively simple software.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:46 AM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 16, 2005

Shocker: Republicans Not Promoting Black Candidates!

The Black Commentator has an interesting piece up, Minority Inclusion is Diversity Diversion at the GOP, from a black Republican, discussing diversity in the Republican Party.

I think the Republican coalition is in a bind on this. The Party is all about the money, and votes from the rubes. They have willingly become the party of the Confederacy as much as of the Religious Right, and must cater to those voters. Of course, what those voters wind up with is losing their pensions and health care so a few rich people can get longer-range Gulfstream jets... But it's their own fault for being so blinded by the hatreds the Republicans cater to, to see it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:12 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Democrats are Taking Their Party Back

Chris Bowers writes,

"We need to get the word out. Democrats are taking their party back."
Go read about it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:59 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A Million Soon

Later today Seeing the Forest will cross the milestone of a million visitors since its launch in July, 2002.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:21 AM | Comments (8) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

You should have listened to the doves

(The below is an edited version of a comment I made at Unfogged. Normally Unfogged tends toward cultural and intellectual topics (and snark and fluff), but this particular post was from the point of view of a semi-repentant liberal hawk.)

The recent Iraq War was, for better or worse, an aggressive geopolitical war. If you read between the lines, both the administration and the majority of the warbloggers understood it that way and supported it that way.

Most Americans do not believe in that kind of war, so it was necessary to whip up all sorts of other reasons. These other reasons came into play after the decision to go to war had already been made. Even if they had all been valid, they were always peripheral to what was actually happening.

So after the decision was made, Saddam's "gassing his own people" became important, even though we hadn't cared before then. The rights of women became an issue, even though Iraq was the most secular and least Islamic state in the region. And so on.

After the fact, everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at the public. If there had been a significant astrological constituency in the US, we would have been told that we invaded because the moon was in Virgo with Aquarius in trine. (This is hardly a joke: at one point a major policymaker, Wolfowitz I think, was sent to fluff the Armageddon Christians. Is Saddam the seven-headed beast? Will the Temple be rebuilt? Will the Son of Man return in his glory? Tune in tomorrow.)

There is, of course, the possibility that, at some point, some of our Machiavellian policymakers were starting to believe the fluff that they were saying. When you think about it, that really makes things worse, and not better.

The above sounds like a "dove" position, doesn't it? Well, it is one. I think that the pervasive, knee-jerk dismissal of dovish arguments is a big part of the reason why we are in such a hard place right now. (In the same way, the pervasive, kneejerk dismissal of marijuana-legalization arguments is a big part of the reason why the US is becoming a police state.)

If it were up to me, I'd have all the doves get rid of their unicycles and puppets and drums and burn their hemp garments and cut off their dreads and start eating hamburgers. Obviously it's not, though. If you don't like hippies, fine. But you shouldn't have let that become the foundation of your opinions about foreign policy.

Posted by John Emerson at 4:57 AM | Comments (8) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 15, 2005

Right Going Nuts

RedState.org is even banning people for mentioning that the Washington Times is published by Rev. Moon.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:38 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Fascism Watch II: No habeus for them, no habeus for us, no problem

Thirty Democratic Senators voted to restrict Habeus Corpus for enemy combatants, proving that fascism has bi-partisan appeal. Up next, *The Streamlined Procedures Act*, which restricts Habeus Corpus rights for the rest of us.

From Talk Left, No Habeas for Them, No Habeas for Us:

Tinkering with habeas corpus is a dangerous thing. Today, Sen. Lindsay Graham and his fellow Senators told you they are only restricting habeas rights of enemy combatants, i.e., foreigners. But on November 16, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a second hearing on S. 1088 (pdf), a bill that would gut habeas corpus rights for Americans.

As Digby noted yesterday, fascism is not an irresistable revolutionary movement, it creeps in through the back door:

"Hitler came to office in 1933 as the result, not of any irresistible revolutionary or national movement sweeping him into power, nor even of a popular victory at the polls, but as part of a shoddy political deal with the 'Old Gang' whom he had been attacking for months… Hitler did not seize power; he was jobbed into office by a backstairs intrigue."

The Streamlined Procedures Act increases the threat of wrongful conviction:

The legislation, known as the Streamlined Procedures Act, would effectively kill the writ of habeas corpus by stripping federal courts of jurisdiction to consider cases in which a prisoner's constitutional rights may have been violated. The legislation would apply to all criminal cases, including capital cases. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) in the Senate and Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) in the House.

The impact is broad and pernicious:

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled its second hearing on the bill for Wednesday, November 16th, at 9:30am. A contentious hearing on the legislation took place on July 13 featuring witnesses including former US Solicitor General Seth Waxman, innocence expert Barry Scheck and death penalty attorney and law professor Bryan A. Stevenson arguing that the bill would increase the likelihood of innocent people being executed. The witnesses also noted how the legislation undermines recent bipartisan action by Congress to address inaccuracy in the criminal justice system, through the Innocence Protection Act, and conflicts with the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.

The anticipated Democratic response: No habeus for them, no habeus for us, no problem.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 7:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Things Coming To A Head?

In a Letter to President Bush, several former intelligence officers call on Bush to put the country's interests ahead of The Party's interests. Fat chance.

Therefore, we are asking that you immediately suspend the clearances of all White House personnel who spoke to reporters about Mrs. Wilson’s affiliation with the CIA. They have mishandled classified information and no longer deserve the level of trust required to have access to this nation’s secrets.

We also ask that you make it clear that any individual, who is convicted of a crime stemming from the leak of the classified identity of Valerie Wilson, will not receive a pardon. The refusal, so far, of I. Lewis Libby to heed your call for full cooperation with the prosecutor raises the specter that he will try to stonewall the investigation in hopes of ultimately being pardoned by you.

We believe that the President, in his role as Commander-in-Chief, has a duty to demonstrate the highest standards when it comes to protecting our nation’s secrets.

... If you take these steps you will be sending a clear message that your first priority is the nation’s security rather than your aides’ well being.

Go read it all. And send a copy of this letter to relatives.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:39 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush Going Nuts?

The other day I linked to a story about Bush drinking (and used a great photo). Today there are reports coming out that Bush is having stability problems. AMERICAblog has this, Very disturbing story about Bush's state of mind in the Wash Times magazine which links to a Washington Times/Insight Magazine story,

President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, administration sources say. The president's reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.
Drudge has it, too. Atrios says it's scary.

Remind me - is the Washington Times from the LaRouche cult? Yes, I know it's the Moonies, but for some reason the wingnuts think the Moonies have credibility and read the Washington Times, but don't think the LaRouches have credibility. Go figure... So when talking to right-wingers I like to say the Washington Times is the LaRouches, because then they grt agitated and explain that they get their news from a DIFFERENT crazy billionaire right-wing cult leader... Heh.

(Also at Unfogged)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:42 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Wingnuts Accuse Senators Of Treason

Speaking of spinning away far from the mainstream, the wingnut blogs are accusing SENATORS of treason. Even Republican Senators. Examples:

Talk About Aiding the Enemy!.

Senate Defeats Democrat Surrender Plan,

So desperate has the left become for a replay of Saigon in 1975 that they are trying to force a victorious American army to turn over their victory to the defeated enemy. [. . .] The Democrats are, in the whole, lying about why we went into Iraq and are trying to engineer an American defeat in Iraq in service to their political goals in the 2006 election.
Hugh Hewitt,
...the best gift the United States Senate could give Zarqawi and his terrorist ranks.
Terrorists? I thought we were in Iraq to get rid of the WMD...


Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:22 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Wingnut Cultists Developing Own Language

Reading this right-wing blog post, I'm starting to think the wingnuts are spinning off so far from mainstream thought that they are developing their own language. You tell me:

The Chappaquiddick Submariner got pwned BIG time when Tim Russert got him to bloviate and blather about a statement that then turned out to have been made by, wait for it, John “Fuckface” al-Q’erry.

Fat Drunken Ted then proceeded to flail and thrash about like a flounder freshly hauled out of the wreckage of an Oldsmobile.

I read lots of RW blogs, and even listen to Rush. But this is so "insider" that I can't make it out.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:33 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Pentagon Admits Using White Phosphorus As Weapon In Iraq

News Flash: Pentagon Used White Phosphorous in Iraq,

Pentagon officials acknowledged Tuesday that U.S. troops used white phosphorous as a weapon against insurgent strongholds during the battle of Fallujah last November. But they denied an Italian television news report that the spontaneously flammable material was used against civilians.

Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, said that while white phosphorous is most frequently used to mark targets or obscure a position, it was used at times in Fallujah as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants.

As for previous government statements,
The State Department, in response, initially denied that U.S. troops had used white phosphorous against enemy forces. "They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters."

The department later said its statement had been incorrect.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:31 PM | Comments (7) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Reason Not To Go With Polls

Back in Dec. 2003 I wrote,

Many "moderate" Democrats take the position that, since most of the public currently believes that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, it is therefore foolish to go against the grain and claim otherwise. Their political position is that it is not politically advantageous to disagree with a majority of the public regardless of where the facts lie on a given issue.

. . . It may be true on any given day that it is a politically risky position to contradict what the public believes. Doing so leaves you open to opportunistic attacks from those who would prefer that the public remain deceived for their own political advantage. On any given day this may be a political reality. But what happens when you take a position that is at odds with the facts -- as well as at odds with the overall good of the country -- and do so for short term political advantage, and then the public's understanding of the facts changes? Doesn't today's convenient political position bring with it the risk that public understanding of an issue will change tomorrow, leaving you looking foolish and opportunistic? Isn't it therefore better in the longer term to take positions that agree with the truth and facts of an issue, and the good of the country?

... As time passes the number of people supporting Bush on this issue can only decline, because the facts do not support his position.

Yes, this was after the war began, but it's an example of what all us bloggers had been sayng for some time. And now here we are. Would Bush have been beaten back sooner if the Democrats had pushed this theme? Have they learned? I think so.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:31 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Is It Just Me?

Is it just me, or did anyone else notice that for quite some time the Bush line was that we invaded to "free the Iraqi people" and "bring Democracy to the Middle East," etc. and NOT just because of an imminent WMD threat? But now we're back to Bush claiming the we invaded because we had intelligence that Iraq had WMD and was going to use them against us. He says the Democrats "had the same intelligence that he did" and that was the justification for war.

What will it be next week? And what does ANY of this have to do with what we are doing TODAY in Iraq?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:09 AM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Fascism Watch Update: Stop The Graham/Bingaman Amendment

From Talk Left Seventeen Myths About the Graham Habeas Amendment from the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Update from Obsidian Wings Habeas and Guantanamo: Breaking News

There are two new amendments.

The AP, Reuters, and the Washington Post have all written articles on these provisions. The Post article says the Levin/Kyl/Graham Amendment might be linked to the McCain amendment in an effort to get both of them through conference. I don't know if that's true, and I don't know if it's a good deal or a bad deal if it is true. At this point I don't trust Graham at all, and I don't trust McCain much. The only advice I can give is to name a few of the Congressmen in Washington who I think are the most trustworthy and dedicated on this issue: Levin, Durbin, Bingaman, Leahy, Feingold, Kennedy. Markey and I think also Murtha in the House. If you don't know what's going on, find out what they're doing and ask your own reps. to do the same.

It's time for the Democratic leadership to at least pretend they have the balls God gave a Tufted Titmouse and stop this farce in its tracks. Objection to unanimous consent should do it. If Paul Wellstone could do it so can any Democratic Senator with an ounce of backbone.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:20 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Fascism Watch: Stop The Graham/Bingaman Amendment

MIchael Froomkin at Discourse.net has a terrific summary of the yeoman's work that hilzoy and Katherine have done at Obsidian Wings: (click through for links)

Was Sen. Graham Intentionally Misleading or Was He Deceived?:


About Them: Setting the scene, outline of Sen. Graham's sensational charges about litigation abuse by detainees.

Medical Malpractice: Initial attempt to refute Graham's claim of litigation abuse; relies on general facts we know about medical abuse in Guantánamo.

Medical Malpractice 2: Specific and detailed refutation of Sen. Graham, reporting the actual known facts regarding one of the two cases he himself cited as most supporting his claims: the prisoner claims "as a result of his detention at the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, he is now confined to a wheelchair with two broken vertebrae. He said military personnel and interrogators stomped on his back, dropped him on the floor and repeatedly forced his neck forward soon after his arrival at the prison." The so-called malpractice claim is that "he has been denied an operation that could save him from permanent paralysis".

Medical Malpractice 3: Contains further allegations about other prisoners at Guantánamo who were refused basic medical treatment in order to coerce their cooperation, all drawn from a legal brief filed to contest medical mis-treatment. As hilzoy and Katherine note, "bear in mind that none of this information would be available if Graham's amendment had already been in force".

Caught On The Battlefield: Sen. Graham argued that one reason to deny judicial review is that detainees are people "caught on the battlefield as the Nazis were caught on the battlefield". This post demonstrates that there is vast and persuasive evidence that a number of the people held in Guantánamo were not caught in even the same country as any battlefield.

Competent Tribunals: Sen. Graham describes the Guantánamo tribunals as "the Geneva Convention Protections on Steroids". As readers of this blog know, it's no such thing.

Family Videos: Sen. Graham lampooned the courts for entertaining claims that Guantánamo detainees should be shown "family videos". Here's the actual, and quite horrible, story: Detainees reported that interrogators had previously impersonated defense counsel as a ruse to get detainees to talk to them; as a result the detainees mistrusted their actual lawyers.


Call and email your Senator. Tell them you expect them to object to unanimous consent unless the Graham/Bingaman Amendment is withdrawn.


The Key to the Courthouse Door, Part I: or. What Habeus Corpus Is And Isn't.:

I don't think Graham is genuinely confused about this point. As a JAG lawyer he must know that habeas is not synonymous with civilian criminal trials. I don't know that he was actively trying to mislead people about it; it may only be that he thought it made good rhetoric. But whatever his intent, I think he has misled several other senators into thinking that the question is whether the Guantanamo detainees will be tried by a military trial of some sort (a court martial, a military commission, or what have you) or as civilians under U.S. criminal law.

The Key to the Courthouse Door, Part II: or, Why the McCain Amendment is No Substitute

Go back to what that Pentagon official said:
A senior Pentagon lawyer who asked not to be named said that the Graham amendment will have another consequence. The same Pentagon bill also contains a clause, sponsored by Graham and the Arizona Republican John McCain, to outlaw torture at US detention camps - a move up to now fiercely resisted by the White House. 'If detainees can't talk to lawyers or file cases, how will anyone ever find out if they have been abused,' the lawyer said.

Most of the evidence of abuse at Guantanamo has emerged from lawyers' discussions with their clients.

The McCain Amendment states clearly that torture is illegal. And that's a good thing, and I'm glad, and I hope very much that it passes. At the same time, not only does it not make habeas unnecessary; I'm almost sure that it will do less good than the Graham Amendment does harm.

Because here's the thing: the cause of the torture scandal is not a lack of clear statements in U.S. law that torture is illegal. We have loads of them. The Geneva Conventions. The War Crimes Act. The federal assault statute. The Uniform Code of Military Justice. The Anti-Torture Statute. The Convention Against Torture.

The causes are an executive unwilling to comply with those laws in good faith, a Congress that is unwilling to do anything about their violation, and courts that are in many ways unable to do anything about their violation.


Closing Statement

Why on earth is this being pushed through on an appropriations bill, with no hearings, no debate, on the strength of arguments that are (deliberately or inadvertantly) quite misleading? When the Senators providing the margin of victory seem unaware of some key facts and of the legal implications of what they're doing? We're talking about habeas corpus here. We're talking about indefinite detention under conditions that have prompted a large number of suicide attempts. We're talking about serious charges of abuse. We're talking about human beings, some of whom are terrorists and some of whom aren't--some of whom even the pathetic CSRT process has determined are innocent. Could we maybe wait a few weeks, hold a hearing or two, have some real negotiations?

Call and email your Senator. Tell them you expect them to object to unanimous consent unless the Graham/Bingaman Amendment is withdrawn.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:03 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 14, 2005

Vote on habeus corpus amendment tomorrow?

Not a peep from the Democrats and it looks like there could be a vote as early as tomorrow attaching restrictions on habeus corpus to an appropriations bill. Obsidian Wings has done the heavy lifting with 13 posts on the Graham/Bingaman Amendment.

Summary by Kevin Drum:

Eliminating habeas corpus is a disgrace. It's a statement that our courts are not to be trusted, that people should be judged guilty solely on Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush's say so, and that the United States cannot survive unless its most important principles are tossed in the ash heap.

For more, go read Katherine and Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings. There's a lot there, but you might start with this one and this one, just to get an idea of Lindsey Graham's duplicitousness on this whole matter. He should be ashamed.

More analysis by Digby Back Room Benedict Arnolds.

Call and email your Senator

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:14 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The President Is A Liar

The President is a liar. Repeat.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:46 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Time To Boycott Target

Target Says Its Pharmacists Can Refuse To Fill Morning After Pill Prescriptions... | The Huffington Post,

Target Corp. is defending its policy on filling prescriptions for emergency contraception after the Planned Parenthood Federation of America accused the retailer of disrespecting customers' reproductive rights.

Target allows pharmacists to choose not to fill requests for emergency contraception, also known as Plan B, if it is against their religious beliefs.


AMERICAblog: Target digs itself a deeper hole in emergency contraceptive scandal
,

I already have a priest, and he doesn't work at Target, thank you.

. . . So let's ask Target if they also support the following Target employees:

    - Check out clerks who verify how fat you are before selling you that package of potato chips?
    - Pharmacists who don't want to fill prescriptions for Jewish customers who killed Christ.
    - Pharmacists who don't want to help customers who worship a "Satanic counterfeit" (read: "The Pope," in fundie-speak).
    - Pharmacists who only dispense HIV medicine to "innocent victims" of AIDS.
    - Pharmacists who want proof that women seeking emergency contraception were really raped, and that they didn't "deserve it."
    - Pharmacists (or cashiers) who are Christian Scientists - can they refuse to sell any medicine, even aspirin, to anyone?
    - Pharmacists who won't sell birth control pills to unmarried women, condoms to unmarried men, or any birth control at all because God doesn't want people spilling their seed.
    - Can fundamentalist Christian employees refuse to interact with gay people in any way, shape or form since gays are sinners, abominations, biological errors, and very likely pedophiles?

[. . .] Target can't pick and choose which civil rights it wants to grant its uber-Christian employees.

. . . Is Target now in the business of deciding, Solomon-like, which religious beliefs are valid and which are not? Sure sounds like they just did.

Digby makes some very important points here:
If the culture war is going retail, we libs have some serious clout There isn't some stupid structural impediment involved in this battle --- an electoral college or federalist system that dilutes our influence. This one's all about the numbers.

Target needs to understand that this latest is not a battle over the morning after pill, it is about birth control in general, and that the majority isn't going to stand for it.

It's time to start telling corporations that it is not their job to enforce right-wing Christianity on us. And as Digby says, this is one where we have all the power.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:33 PM | Comments (13) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Big DUH!!!

Through Atrios, mediabistro: TVNewser,

Carlson suggested the creation of a cable channel that caters to liberals. But "going after a lefty audience would be futile, Wright said. 'For some strange, probably genetic, reasons' -- we're pretty sure that was a joke -- 'they don't listen to a lot of radio and they don't watch a lot of television.'"
Atrios wrote, "Uh, maybe we don't watch a lot of TV news because it's all conservative?"

To which I say Big DUH!!!! Liberals don't listen to Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage or Sean Hannity or watch FOX or (most of) MSNBC or any of the other right-wing slime that is the media these days. DUH!!!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:12 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Party and State Merging: More Republican Party Propaganda on Government Websites

See Setting the Record Straight: The Washington Post On Pre-War Intelligence. Doesn't the Republican National Committee have enough cash on hand to do this themselves these days?

There was a time when people went to jail for things like this. The laws haven't changed.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:23 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Who Is "Rewriting?"

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the Seeing the Forest Rule: When Republicans Accuse, it usually means they're doing whatever they're accusing of. Think about this every time you hear about Bush says critics 'rewriting history' over Iraq war.

Bush, pointing figner

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:05 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Conservatives Splitting?

In State Power & Conservative Ideology, Stephen Crockett writes,

It is increasingly apparent that there is an important ideological conflict going on in the modern conservative movement between supporters of increased state power and supporters of limited government.

. . . The Bush Republicans advocate a “neo-con” approach to state power that critics fear is a potential creeping fascist ideology disguised as conservatism. Secret prisons, torture and unlimited detention in prisons without trial are all examples of policies supported by the Bush Republican that outrage both traditional conservatives and civil libertarians.

Traditional conservatives rely on the rule of law instead of personal rule by a strong leader or leadership group. The Bush Republicans seem to believe that anything the Bush Administration wants to do should be permitted because they claim that they should be trusted not to abuse the power of their offices.

Traditional conservatives believe that the system of checks and balances should be strong enough to survive good or bad White House or Congressional leaders. The Bush Republicans seem to view the checks and balances system devised by our Founding Fathers as obstacles to imposing their views on our government and nation.
Lots more. Good stuff. Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:32 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Who Is The Enemy Now?

Under Bush the government can arrest and imprison (and torture?) "enemies" without a trial or even seeing a lawyer or a judge. You might ask, "So what? These people are terrorists."

How easily could this become a tool of political repression? Could we become a country where if the Republican Party says you're a "terrorist" then you're going away?

For an indication that this could head in that direction, let's look at who is the "enemy" right now. Who is being tracked by the government for suspicious activity? Who could be on that "terrorist" list one of these days? From Profiling: How the FBI Tracks Eco-Terror Suspects, an arrest of an "eco-terrorist" suspect. The "profile" that got him arrested?

Agents placed the commune under surveillance and developed a political profile of the residents, discovering the owner of the house and his father "have posted statements on websites opposing the use of fossil fuels," one doc reads. Another says the owner had ties to a local chapter of Food Not Bombs, an "anarcho-vegan food distribution group." Among activities flagged in bureau docs: the father of the owner had conducted a "one man' daily protest" outside a Toyota office, was interviewed for an article called "Dude, Where's my Electric Car!?" and posted info on a Web site announcing "Stop Norway Whaling!" [emphasis added]
FYI - the person they arrested wasn't the person they were looking for.

Why is the FBI collecting information like this about Americans? Why does this profile so closely fit the profile of Ann Coulter's far-right fantasies?

Critics say such info has been increasingly collected by agents since the then Attorney General John Ashcroft relaxed FBI guidelines in 2002.
Yes, the same Justice Department that would not investigate the leak of a CIA agent's identity. The same Justice Department that demoted a prosecutor for looking into the activities of Jack Abramoff. This is pure ideological profiling from the John Birch Society, Richard Mellon Scaife wing of the far right here, as government policy. Remember, recently the IRS started an investigation of a church because of an anti-war sermon. And the FBI recently said that the top domestic terrorism threat is animal rights and environmental activists. That is how close we are. And there is no Congressional oversight, no accountability, and soon even the courts will be completely under Party control.

Will the right-wingers turn this into a crusade against what they perceive as the enemy within? There's nothing to stop them.

Watch your backs!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:05 AM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

God help us, please.

Received this in my email courtesy of a local activist acquaintance. No credits, was unable to find an example of it on the web, so unless someone cna point me to the author, he or she remains anonymous. The phrase, "Would someone please give him a blowjob so we can impeach him?" is quite common, however, as a search on Google will reveal.

Would someone please give him a blowjob so we can impeach him?

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:17 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A little late night humor...

Got a montage of snapshots from this site in my email today (courtesy of my mother). Did a search, found this site.

Bush or Chimp?

Brilliant concept. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of Bush reading a children's story book, and a chimpanzee reading "The Origin of Species". Aside from set-pieces of that sort, the similarities are quite amusing... the Resident does have a tendency to display the most unguarded expressions.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:44 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 13, 2005

Today's Government And Party Merge Post

Oliver Willis, in Whose Money Are They Using For This? catches the White House web site being used as a Republican Party lie-and-smear distribution channel.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:01 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Drunk With His Finger On "The Button"

Drunk with his finger on "the button." I can't think of anything more dangerous.

See also A short burst on Bush's Alcoholism, including Dry drunk syndrome


(Yes, I am re-linking to this video.)

(Thru Atrios this time. Pic.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:22 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Death Of A Soldier

Steve Lopez's column in today's L.A. Times tells part of the story of the death of one soldier, Knock on the Door, a Knock on the War: The knock came just after 6 a.m., way too early for visitors at the neat two-story home in the hills of Castaic.

After recaping a previous column he wrote about how Evan Ashcraft's family was notified of his death, Lopez explains a chance encounter he had with Evan's father in law, Loren Farell, a Los Angeles native and Vietnam vet and lieutenant in the LAPD.

Farell told me his daughter and the rest of the family were doing as well as could be expected, and then he said something that stopped me in my tracks. He made a comment about this crazy war and about all the angry letters he'd written to politicians and publications, trying to make his feelings known.

Loren Farell was a changed man:

He was still a conservative — "don't get me wrong" — and still a law-and-order cop who will never get over "those longhairs" who spat on returning Vietnam vets. He still supports the troops in Iraq, but he's done a 180 on the American leaders who called them to war, including President Bush, who on Friday lashed out at critics.

. . .

As Farell helped his daughter with funeral arrangements, the body count continued to rise, and Farell, a Republican, grew angrier. Meanwhile, he says, the Army turned the business of death into even more of a nightmare. "Evan got a 17-gun salute," he says, still seething.

A month after his son-in-law was killed, Farell opened Newsweek magazine and read a story that said military officials were calling the relatively low number of casualties in Iraq "tragic but militarily insignificant."

He flipped.

When you finish reading about the grief and disappointment of Evan Ashcraft's father-in-law, say a prayer for the friends, family and loved ones of four more brave fallen heroes who are listed in today's L.A. Times obituaries.

Army National Guard Capt. Raymond D. Hill II, 39, Turlock; One of 2 Soldiers Killed in Baghdad

During the quieter moments of soldiering, Army National Guard Capt. Raymond D. Hill II liked to talk cookouts. He savored it all: from a good barbecue sauce to memories of time spent with family and friends

Hill sometimes broke the sleepy silence riffing about a barbecue or an outing with relatives back in Stanislaus County.

"He was a funny, down-home guy," said Markert, who worked with Hill for eight years. "Very family."

Army Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Tessar, 36, Simi Valley; Among 4 Killed in Explosion

With 250 soldiers under his command, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Tessar didn't have to ride in the lead vehicle of a convoy south of Baghdad one day last month.

Realizing that the first vehicle in the patrol also could be the one to trigger a hidden roadside bomb, he could have chosen a spot farther back.

But that wasn't his style, according to those who knew the seasoned combat veteran.

. . .

Returning to Simi Valley for his father's funeral last June, Tessar told his family about his plans to return to combat yet again.

"I said, 'Why go back?' " his brother Bill recalled. "But he went full throttle at just about everything he did. He loved the Army, and he loved this country."

Abundantly tattooed, Tessar enjoyed an occasional chew of tobacco and was a big fan of NASCAR racing. He also followed the news avidly. "He loved politics," his brother said. "He could out-argue anyone."

Tessar planned to retire from the Army in nine months.

"He was really going to start living life," his brother said. "He had missed so many of his kids' birthdays, missed so many holidays so the rest of us wouldn't have to."

Marine Capt. Michael Martino, 32, Oceanside; Killed in Helicopter Crash

At age 9, in what would become an annual ritual, Michael Martino tumbled out of bed at the crack of dawn, pedaled his bike across Irvine and spent the day watching planes at the El Toro Air Show.

"He always knew his mission in life was to be a pilot," said his mother, Sybil.

In high school, between stints on the football and wrestling teams, his hobby was assembling model aircraft. After graduating with an economics degree from UC San Diego in 1996, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and earned his wings.

When he was later dispatched to Iraq, he told his father, "If something happens, I don't want you and Mom to get mad at the military or the government. I'm doing what I love to do and what I believe in."

Back home, friends and relatives recalled the Oceanside resident as a quiet, selfless man who was devoted to family, work and the Washington Redskins, his favorite football team.

In Iraq, fellow Marines nicknamed him "Oprah" because he was so good at listening to people's problems. It was a trait he developed in childhood.

"Whenever I had a nightmare, I'd go to Mike instead of our parents," said his older sister, Lauri. "He'd stay up and talk to me until I could go back to sleep."

He had a contagious smile and generous spirit, said Katie Ashford, whose husband, Brian, went through flight school with Martino and served in the same squadron. "I've never known anyone to love their friends unconditionally, but Mike did," she said.

Marine Corps Reserve Sgt. Brian Dunlap, 34, Carmichael; Killed by Roadside Bomb

Brian Dunlap's destiny was set during a television news broadcast in 1979. Just 8 years old, he saw pictures of children starving in Africa — and cried because he couldn't go there and help them.

And that, said his mother, Dorothy Telles, was the beginning of his path. It was a road that would lead him through a difficult adolescence into a life of helping others — as a firefighter and a Marine.

"You're just a child," she recalled telling him then, "and there's nothing you can do to help these people now. But when you grow up, you're going to be able to help people — and when he grew up, he chose a life of helping others."

A patriot, an avid reader and a political conservative who wrote on his Internet blog that he wanted to talk to all open-minded people, even "libs."

. . .

In a lot of ways, he was like his Dad: they shared a blog, they both loved history and they traded books. He was the kind of guy who made friends for a lifetime, his mother said. He loved music, from Mozart to Iron Maiden, and he learned to surf while living near Oceanside and San Diego.

On the blog, which is now filled with condolences from his many friends, Dunlap detailed sad and difficult days in Iraq.

His last entry, dated Sept. 15, was titled "Im [sic] still alive."

"Almost got wacked [sic] again this morning," Dunlap wrote. "That makes 5 times in the last 2 weeks…. I've lost about 11 guys in my Company to injuries…. Please keep praying for me so I can make it home in one piece."

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 9:21 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 12, 2005

Today's Voting Machines Story

THE BRAD BLOG: "Plaintiffs Blocked During Discovery Phase of New Mexico '04 Election Lawsuit",

All of a sudden ... the county clerks have flat-out refused to permit the inspections by the plaintiff's experts. That, after some interesting evidence has already been found by the experts during discovery, like tests where they were able to see votes for one candidate being registered for their opponent (as has been so widely reported as happening in so many elections of late!) and ballots being confirmed with NO choice for President at all, which wasn't supposed to have been possible on at least one of the machine types being looked at.
And, in my opinion, a related story: 'Has American Democracy died an electronic death in Ohio 2005's referenda defeats?',

Once again, the Buckeye state has hosted an astonishing display of electronic manipulation that calls into question the sanctity of America's right to vote, and to have those votes counted in this crucial swing state.

[. . .] A poll run on the front page of the Columbus Dispatch on Sunday, November 6, showed Issue One passing with 53% of the vote. Official tallies showed Issue One passing with 54% of the vote. . . . But Issues 2-5 are another story.

. . . Issues Two-Five were meant to reform Ohio's electoral process, which has been under intense fire since 2004. The issues were very heavily contested. They were backed by Reform Ohio Now, a well-funded bi-partisan statewide effort meant to bring some semblance of reliability back to the state's vote count.

. . . The November 6 Dispatch poll showed Issue Two passing by a vote of 59% to 33%, with about 8% undecided, an even broader margin than that predicted for Issue One.

But on November 8, the official vote count showed Issue Two going down to defeat by the astonishing margin of 63.5% against, with just 36.5% in favor. To say the outcome is a virtual statistical impossibility is to understate the case. For the official vote count to square with the pre-vote Dispatch poll, support for the Issue had to drop more than 22 points, with virtually all the undecideds apparently going into the "no" column.

The numbers on Issue Three are even less likely.

. . . The Sunday Dispatch poll showed it winning in a landslide, with 61% in favor and just 25% opposed.

Tuesday's official results showed Issue Three going down to defeat in perhaps the most astonishing reversal in Ohio history, claiming just 33% of the vote, with 67% opposed. For this to have happened, Issue Three's polled support had to drop 28 points, again with an apparent 100% opposition from the previously undecideds.

The reversals on both Issues Two and Three were statistically staggering, to say the least.

[. . .] With the 2005 expansion of paperless touch-screen machines into 41 more Ohio counties, this year's election was more vulnerable than ever to centralized manipulation. The outcomes on Issues 2-5 would indicate just that.

The corrupt Republican government of Ohio wants Issue 1 to pass, and the results exactly match the pre-election polls. The Reform Ohio Now issues, however, showed dramatically different election returns than the pre-election polling, which was dead-on accurate for other issues.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:49 PM | Comments (10) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The President Betrayed Us

Yesterday I wrote that it was an obvious point of honor that a leader should resign if he takes a country to war for what turns out to have been a mistake - or a lie.

Bush went to war on a claim that Iraq was about to attack us with WMD. When it became clear there were no WMD the honorable thing to do would be to resign. War is serious business, and there is no room for mistakes - or lies. If you go to war over WMD and there aren't WMD the right thing to do is step aside and let someome else take your place. Simple as that.
But what happened with Iraq is far worse than that.

Watching Bush's speech yesterday I thought about something I wrote more than two years ago:

When the President of the United States tells you that there is a serious and imminent threat you don't really have a choice. You just have to go along. Our LIVES depend on believing him. Even if you can't see the threat it's the President's JOB to be looking out for it. ... Maybe he knows something he can't tell you. You don't have a choice. And, most important, no president has ever betrayed that trust before and it is hard to imagine one so corrupt that he would.

But BEFORE, we had no choice, really, because we HAVE TO trust that when the President says there is a threat to our lives, he is telling the truth!

. . . Now that it's over and we can look back and see what Bush did, it is absolutely essential for our own protection that we get Bush out of there. We can't trust and believe him next time, and next time there might actually BE a threat!

Once a President abuses that essential trust, everything about our country and our "compact" with our government changes. It's just like what happened with Katrina - these people really don't care and really are not interested in protecting the public. That is not how they intend to use the power they have been given by us. I think that's where we are today.

Look how Bush and the Right treat us. We are fellow Americans, but they view us as the enemy just as surely as the terrorists who attacked the country are the enemy. During his campaign Bush said "I am a uniter, not a divider." But division is Bush's trademark. It is his tool. Before the Iraq war Bush went to the Congress and asked them to stand with him against an imminent threat. And they supported him. Now, in his Veterans Day speech he used that support to further divide us. The speech was supposed to be a non-partisan American event, not a Republican Party rally. But the President used this setting to lash out at half the country, calling us traitors for questioning why we are "at war" in Iraq. Yes, his surrogates call us traitors - and now he does too. From the speech:

"The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.) Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. (Applause.) And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory. (Applause.)"
We are only starting to understand the significance and consequences of Bush's betrayal. We can not trust Bush again, and many here and around the world will never be able to trust the United States again. This is especially serious because there still are countries and people who might really be preparing to attack with these weapons. Because of what Bush has done America can no longer sound the alarm. Who would believe? Who could be sure it isn't just another mistake - or trick? This is a dangerous situation.

Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:33 PM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 11, 2005

Voting machines Story

Wisconsin Assembly OKs voting paper trail,

With only four dissenting votes, the state Assembly easily passed a bill that would require that electronic voting machines create a paper record.

The goal of the legislation is to make sure that Wisconsin's soon-to-be-purchased touch screen machines create a paper ballot that can be audited to verify election results.

"Wisconsin cannot go down the path of states like Florida and Ohio in having elections that the public simply doesn't trust," Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said in a news release. "By requiring a paper record on every electronic voting machine, we will ensure that not only does your vote matter in Wisconsin, but it also counts."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:11 PM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

War Is Too Serious For Mistakes - Or Lies

Bush went to war on a claim that Iraq was about to attack us with WMD. When it became clear there were no WMD the honorable thing to do would be to resign. War is serious business, and there is no room for mistakes - or lies. If you go to war over WMD and there aren't WMD the right thing to do is step aside and let someome else take your place. Simple as that.

But, really, it's worse than that. More later.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:17 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Must-Read

Everybody should read every word of Trickle Down Corruption As Far As the Eye Can See.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:27 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Guantanamo Bay for American Children

The other day, I saw a bumper sticker that has stuck with me: "NIXON IS NO LONGER THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER". God damn, how true that is...

Check out this interview of Alternet reporter John Gorenfeld by Mark Levine over at Radio Inside Scoop, entitled, appropriately, This Bush Crony Has Blood on His Hands!

The "crony" is Melvin Sembler, former Bush-appointed ambassador to Italy, drug policy advisor, and campaign donor. The blood on Melvin's hands is that of thousands of tortured and abused children, participants in the pseudo-scientific "STRAIGHT" drug "rehabilitation" program he headed (shut down in 1993 by state regulators and lawsuits). Read John Gorenfeld's Alternet article, Ambassador de Sade, for more information. Also, check out the comments following the Radio Inside Scoop articles, and search on Google for STRAIGHT and "humble pants" (make sure you haven't eaten anything recently). Then go hug your children.

A civilized society would render this man a pariah - ours named a $30 million dollar public building in Italy after him!

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 6:18 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Reid Statement and Fact-Checking Bush's Speech

First a statement from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, then a fact-check:

Washington, DC - Today, Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement on Bush's speech on Iraq and the war on terror:

"On this Veterans Day, the President had the opportunity to honor our troops, both those who have served and those who are currently serving, by laying out a clear strategy for success in the war in Iraq. Instead, the President resorted to his old playbook of discredited rhetoric about the war on terror and political attacks as his own political fortunes and credibility diminish.

"Attacking those patriotic Americans who have raised serious questions about the case the Bush Administration made to take our country to war does not provide us a plan for success that will bring our troops home. Americans seek the truth about how the nation committed our troops to war because the decision to go to war is too serious to be entered into under faulty pretenses. While the Bush administration continues to stonewall the Congress from finding the truth about the manipulation of prewar intelligence, Democrats will continue to press for a full airing of the facts. We stand with our troops when we ask the hard questions, and with their families when we fight to get them, their families and our veterans the benefits they deserve.

"We fear Iraq has become what it was not before the war, a haven for terrorists. We can no longer simply pledge to stay the course, we must change the cours. The American people are demanding a comprehensive plan and the benchmarks by which to measure our success for the war in Iraq. The president's continued refusal to provide that plan does nothing to support our troops or their families."

And a FactCheck e-mail I received:
FACT CHECK: 2 Key Inaccuracies in President Bush’s Speech

FACT CHECK ONE

President Bush said today that Democrats in Congress “had access to the same intelligence” as he did in deciding to go to war in Iraq. [Bush, 11/11/05]

Fact: Congress did not have access to the same intelligence the Bush Administration did. And intelligence passed through the White House before getting to Congress.

According to Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack:

The Bush Administration showed Saudi Prince Bandar more intelligence than was shown to Congress. (p. 264.)

White House Brought Over Small Groups of Congressmen to Sell Iraq Intelligence Because it "Worked Better." In the month of September 2002, Woodward writes, "Several times a week Nick Calio arranged for congressmen or senators to attend intelligence briefings or small ad hoc working group sessions, either on Capitol Hill or at the White House, even in the intimacy of the Situation Room. The small-group selling forum worked better than the large sessions. In case anyone was looking around for clues, one of the three red digital clocks marking time around the world was set for Iraq." (p.185)

Senators Not Shown the National Intelligence Estimate Until Three Days Before the Iraq War Vote. It is not until October 8, 2002, three days before the Senate vote on the Iraq war resolution, and after debate has already started, that 47+ senators are briefed or shown the entire NIE with its key judgment that Iraq "has chemical and biological weapons," writes Woodward. (p. 203)

And, the National Intelligence Estimate Given to Congress Didn’t Provide Enough Detail to Frame a Critique. When the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq was presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Woodward writes, “some senators focused on the larger questions the CIA had not addressed…No senator had enough of the picture – military planning details were not provided to the Hill and the CIA plans were highly classified – to frame an effective critique.” (p. 199)


FACT CHECK TWO

President Bush said today that a Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure changing judgments among members of the intelligence community. “These critics are fully aware that a bi-partisan senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.” [Bush, 11/11/05]

Fact: The President could either be referring to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation or the Silberman Robb Commission Report. In either case, the statement is misleading because neither of these reports reached the question of the Administration’s misuse of intelligence.

Fact: the Silberman Robb Commission was not even allowed to look at how policymakers misused intelligence: "[W]e were not authorized to investigate how policymakers used the intelligence assessments they received from the Intelligence Community. Accordingly, while we interviewed a host of current and former policymakers during the course of our investigation, the purpose of those interviews was to learn about how the Intelligence Community reached and communicated its judgments about Iraq's weapons programs--not to review how policymakers subsequently used that information." [Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, Report to the President, (Silberman Robb Commission) 3/31/05 ]

Fact: The Additional views of the Phase I intelligence report make clear that the Senate Intelligence Committee was prevented from investigating the Administration's misuse of pre-war intelligence.

Regrettably, the report paints an incomplete picture of what occurred during this period of time. The Committee set out to examine ten areas of investigation relating to pre-war intelligence on Iraq and we completed only five in this report. The scope of our investigation was divided in a way so as to prevent a complete examination of all the matters within the Committee's jurisdiction at one time.

The central issue of how intelligence on Iraq was used or misused by Administration officials in public statements and reports was relegated to the second phase of the Committee's investigation, along with other issues related to the intelligence activities of Pentagon policy officials, pre-war intelligence assessment about post-war Iraq and the role played by the Iraqi National Congress, led by Admad Chalabi, which claims to have passed "raw intelligence" and defector information directly to the Pentagon and the Office of the Vice President.

As a result, the Committee's phase one report fails to fully explain the environment of intense pressure in which Intelligence Community officials were asked to render judgments on matters relating to Iraq when policy officials had already forcefully stated their own conclusions in public. [Additional Views of Vice Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, Senator Carl Levin, and Senator Richard Durbin].

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:21 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Drunk? On Film

Bush drunk? Sure looks that way. Watch the clip.

(Thanks to What Really Happened.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:11 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Ridiculous Patent of the Day

Amazon Gets Patents on Consumer Reviews,

The patent covers methods of forming circles and marketing to them, for example, by showing one person looking at a book detail page and who else in the circle has bought that book.

The second patent covers a method of discovering and delivering as search results related products from multiple categories, such as books written by Steve Martin, as well as DVDs of movies in which he appeared.

The third patent is the real kicker. It covers methods for encouraging consumers to write reviews of items they've purchased by determining the optimal times to send them e-mails or reminders.
. . . the patent even covers collecting reviews by letting visitors to a Web site fill out a form. [emphasis added]

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:02 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Arnold

Arnold has a sense of humor:

"If I would do another 'Terminator' movie I would have Terminator travel back in time and tell Arnold not to have a special election," the former action film star joked. "I should have also listened to my wife who said don't do it."
Now if only we could go back in time and tell the country not to invade Iraq...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:47 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Making Shit Up

I wonder if the common practice of right-wing blogs to just make shit up -- in this case saying the white flags are about "surrender" -- is about trying to trick people into believing "their side" is better, or is just about being outrageous enough to draw traffic to their sites, which increases their ad revenue? Of course, I just helped, didn't I?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Libby Expecting a Pardon?

Libby Testimony Is Key To Rove Inquiry,

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald delayed a decision on whether to seek criminal charges against Karl Rove in large part because he wants to determine whether Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, can provide information on Rove's role in the CIA leak case, according to attorneys involved in the investigation.
Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald hopes the threat of years in prison will convince Libby to tell the truth. But this can't work if Libby has been promised - or just expects - a pardon. There is no other reason Libby would remain silent at this point. Everyone involved understands this.

This is why Bush refuses to rule out a pardon In my opinion refusal to rule out a pardon for someone who can put you in jail if he doesn't get a pardon is blatant obstruction of justice. It's obvious that it's not Rove Libby is protecting - Rove can't pardon him. It's Bush.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:26 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

From A Veteran

Yellow Dog Blog: A Veteran Speaks to President Bush on Veterans Day

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:47 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush Said Stand With Me, Now Blames Those Who Did

I just watched Bush's speech, on CNN. Basically he said that Democrats who acted patriotically when asked to stand alongside their President -- who said we had an urgent "imminent" "mushroom cloud" threat to the country -- and trusted what the Bush Administration told them, are to blame for the mess we're in. I guess he's saying they should have known better.

I think we all know better now.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:40 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 10, 2005

Nixon would be green with envy.

The Washington Post has an excellent and detailed article on the FBI's increasingly profligate use of "National Security Letters" (warrantless demands to produce information).

The upshot is: the government can demand a huge amount of information about you from third parites (your ISP, your local public library, the telephone company, etc.) without a warrant, on the flimsiest of excuses, and even after determining that you are not a threat to the United States, can retain that information indefinitely. Even better: no one they ask for information is legally permitted to inform you of the request. Oh, and the information can be released to "appropriate private sector entities" (left undefined)... are we contracting out law enforcement and anti-terrorism efforts, now?

The Bush Administration, of course, is resisting any and all attempts by Congress to exercise any oversight. Their line and that of the FBI's bureaucracy is "trust us, we're your government, we won't abuse the information" and "what harm can it do, if you're innocent of any wrongdoing?". The quotes on the subject, from Jeffrey Breinholt, deputy chief of the Justice Department's counterterrorism section, and Michael Mason, who runs the Washington field office and has the rank of assistant FBI director, are astonishingly naive.

The counter to thier assertions is simple: what would Nixon have done with this power? The answer: he would have had a field day with it. As will any President or executive branch member inclined to abuse their authority and "get" their enemies. Perhaps I should quote Dave here, and say, "Watch your back."

Excerpts:

The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.
Issued by FBI field supervisors, national security letters do not need the imprimatur of a prosecutor, grand jury or judge. They receive no review after the fact by the Justice Department or Congress. The executive branch maintains only statistics, which are incomplete and confined to classified reports. The Bush administration defeated legislation and a lawsuit to require a public accounting, and has offered no example in which the use of a national security letter helped disrupt a terrorist plot.
The burgeoning use of national security letters coincides with an unannounced decision to deposit all the information they yield into government data banks -- and to share those private records widely, in the federal government and beyond. In late 2003, the Bush administration reversed a long-standing policy requiring agents to destroy their files on innocent American citizens, companies and residents when investigations closed. Late last month, President Bush signed Executive Order 13388, expanding access to those files for "state, local and tribal" governments and for "appropriate private sector entities," which are not defined.

Also, check out the story about the manhunt in Las Vegas, where they seriously attempted to assemble a real-time record of every visitor to the city over a two week period. ... all that information is still on file somewhere, waiting for a fishing expedition to use it. Along with everything else produced by other National Security Letters.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 8:59 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Hot

Heaven is hotter than Hell

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:53 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Who Is Our Economy For, Anyway?

Regular Seeing the Forest readers know that we regularly ask the question, "Who is our economy for, anyway?" Today several bloggers are asking this question in different ways. In an earlier post here, John Emerson wrote,

DeLong said once that the Clinton free trade policy was Part One of a two part policy. Part Two would have been compensation and retraining for displaced workers, but it never happened. ... Basically Clinton tried to get his bipartisan program through with Republican votes while defying the Democrats in Congress, and then was shocked to find that the Republicans refused to support the Democratic part of the package.
Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly and Atrios are talking about trade. Keven wrote,

... [read the post] puts a different spin on the standard thesis that free trade agreements are good for growth, doesn't it? If "growth" mean GDP growth, it's probably true. But if "growth" means growth in median wages, as I think it should, then it might not be.
and later,
I didn't intend the previous post to imply that trade agreements are bad things. I don't think they are.

Rather, I just wanted to point out that they have their downsides as well as their upsides.

[. . .] The point isn't that trade is bad per se, the point is that politicians frequently make promises to help out those who are hurt by trade agreements, but then quickly lose interest in those promises once the agreement passes.

and even later,
...not only do workers who lose their jobs to a plant closure suffer a permanent income decline, but 20 years later the children of these families suffered lower incomes too. Surely those of us who benefit from free trade and an information age economy ought to be willing to forego a small part of that benefit in order to avoid the kind of multi-generational poverty that's caused by the things that benefit us in the first place?
Atrios wrote,
Now we're in this world where people just scream "free trade good!" Well, it isn't good for everyone. There are winners and losers, and all basic trade theory says is that enough extra income is created so that the winners could, in theory, more than compensate the losers for what they lost. But that's "class warfare" and "socialist redistribution" so we don't do that.

It's completely in the self-interest of a nontrivial part of the population to oppose basic free trade legislation. Economists are often loathe to embrace a particular social welfare function, but too many fall prey to embracing GDP as somehow being a metric which is value neutral. In fact all it does is obscure all the things about which we could make a value judgment. A useful measure of something, but certainly not a value-free measure of the nation's economic wellbeing. The income distribution is still there, even if we close our eyes and pretend it isn't.

Then, later he gets to what I think is the most important point,
Is a policy which makes 1% of the population better off but 99% worse off a better one strictly because it raises the average? What about 20/80? What about 50/50, when it's the less well off people being made worse off and the more well off people being made better off? People can certainly have different opinions about these things, but what people shouldn't do is think that by focusing solely on real per capita GDP they're not making a subjective judgment. A policy change which impacts GDP also is likely to have an impact on the income distribution and just because you manage to avoid the latter issue doesn't mean that the issue isn't there. All you're doing is saying "GDP trumps all other considerations." If that's what you believe, fine, but it's a rather odd thing to believe. [emphasis added]
At TPM Cafe there are lots of posts on the subject of trade. Jeff Faux writes,
The opening up of the US economy to unregulated markets has allowed the corporate investor class to escape the restrictions of the New Deal social contract. The threat and reality of off-shoring production is relentlessly undercutting the bargaining position of labor (not just labor unions but most people who must work for a living). The effect is similar for rich countries and poor ones. A dozen years after NAFTA, for example, wages have dramatically fallen behind productivity in Mexico as well as Canada and the US.

[. . .] But even if you accept all of the conventional theoretical arguments for unregulated trade, the benefits are exceedingly modest.

Some of the posts there try to say that cheaper goods from China balances our loss of jobs. But I think the lower price is actually from a form of deferred maintenance. I mean, if we export manufacturing we're exporting our future ability to manufacture because our manufacturing infrastructure deteriorates while China's modernizes, and we lose our ability to compete in the world. I think our trade deficit reflects this.

David Sirota sees another problem with the "lower prices" arguments,

As Robert Greenwald highlights in his new movie "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" - there are all sorts of hidden costs in those great low-prices that we venerate as the rationale for corporate-written free trade policy. For instance, as I note in my upcoming book, the best way to see that those low prices aren't all that they seem is to look at whether wages under free trade policies are actually outstripping those supposedly "low" prices. As Gene's colleagues at the Center for American Progress pointed out in 2004, wages are, in fact, not keeping up with inflation. And that trend has continued into 2005. In other words, the supposed gains from "low" prices are outstripped by the losses this trade policy incurs to workers' wages.

... Put another way, the low prices Wal-Mart is able to provide on goods under free trade policies are not enough to offset the low wages workers are now making under these free trade policies.

MaxSpeak says,
Trade, on the other hand, is fully predictable in its impacts on the US: it leads to losses for the worst-positioned and benefits for the already well-off.
Nathan Newman writes,
...what's striking is that advocates for trade deals accuse critics of being against "free trade"-- yet the deals they advocate are all about accepting child slavery and denial of freedom by workers to form unions as acceptable parts of the global economy.

It the critics of these deals -- who support trade but demand that basic standards of freedom for workers be incorporated into the trade regime -- who truly support "free trade." It is actually Orwellian that advocates for unrestricted trade with China-- where workers are thrown in prison if they advocate unionizations -- can appropriate the use of the term "freedom" for their position.

What exactly is wrong with demanding that if China wants to sell goods to the US, they must extend accepted ILO labor rights, such as the freedom to form a union, to their workers?

In The Corporate Ethic, Ian Welsh at BOPNews approaches the same question from the direction of corporate responsibility:
Plain Dave [a commenter previously quoted in the post] is basically asserting that businesses operate like psychopaths who will do whatever is in their material interest no matter what the ethical implications.

Now, if you know a person is a psychopath, you wait for them to commit a crime, then you lock them up so they can't hurt anyone else ever again.

If Plain Dave is right, businesses are psychopaths and the moral code of executives is one that requires them to operate as psychopaths. Let's assume Dave is right.

. . . As a citizen you have a right to demand that companies that operate unethically are either shut down or brought to heel. Corporations are created by government and a government can dissolve any company it wants simply by revoking its charter - the right is in every incorporation bill.

But I'm willing to suggest something else - not everyone in ost companies is a psychopath, so let's just arrest and try those who act like psychopaths. The executives who made this decision or other ethically dubious ones (like the executives who make cost benefit analyses that the suits from the relatives of people killed by known defects cost less than the cost of fixing the defects.)

. . .I'm real tired of people who seem to think that companies should act unethically if it will make them more money. Real, real tired. [emphasis added]

I was going to write something on this, but came across one of my older Who is our economy for, anyway? posts, and want to just repost most of it here as my own contribution to the discussion:
It's not just that we're shipping more and more of our jobs to other countries, and we are, but it looks as though the world really may be reaching the point where we need fewer people working to get done the things we need to get done. You hear about "high productivity." Well, that is what "high productivity" MEANS. Even China is losing manufacturing jobs.

And the answer isn't retraining people to move into higher-level jobs. When I moved to Silicon Valley in 1980, everyone was talking about retraining auto workers for tech jobs. Well, now in Silicon Valley almost the only jobs in the paper are for auto mechanics.

Wealth is concentrating as never before. The rich aren't just getting richer and richer anymore -- the concentration is way beyond that. And the opportunity avenues the rest of us expect from the social contract that tolerates such wealth are not expanding. If you look around at all the supposed prosperity -- the big houses, the SUVs, the electronic toys, nice clothes, etc. -- you should also understand what is supporting it: Massive debt. Massive, massive debt on a scale never before seen. Everyone thinks they are rich now, and are doing what it takes to live that way. It is the cultural expectation now, and I think this illusion is a way of avoiding accepting the concentration that is occurring and accepting that we are working harder, but receiving less and less of the benefits. The only way for most of us to achieve that lifestyle is to refinance our houses, run up our credit cards, and elect leaders who encourage all of that while running the country the same way. Massive, massive debt. Everywhere. A bankrupt philosophy surely expressing itself one day with real-world bankruptcy.

If something is unsustainable, it won't be sustained. We are all frantically trying to find new ways to buy time. Perhaps if we can sustain things another month we will turn the corner. Perhaps we'll get a raise in time. Perhaps tax revenue will increase in time. Perhaps the stock market will go back to where it was and our pensions will be there for us. Perhaps we'll win the lottery. But what is happening is that the money is draining upwards. As we work longer hours, and more members of our families enter the job market just to cover the house payments, the insurance payments, the childcare and the increasing cable-TV and credit card bills, the banker who collects our interest payments, and the owners and executives of the insurance companies are gobbling up more and more of the world's resources to "own" for themselves. Our government is even preparing to sell off our national parks -- another transfer of "ownership" of OUR resources to the priviledged FEW.

In the end, a very basic question will need to be addressed. Who is our economy FOR, anyway? This is a very dangerous question, and just asking it leads to places that many of us have not gone in our thinking, and many of us certainly don't want the rest of us to go. And, of course, the corollary question: Who is our GOVERNMENT for? Is it US, after all, or not?

You learned in grade school that "we" decide the laws and policies of OUR government. WE are our government -- that's what our government IS: US, grouping together to decide things. "Of the people, by the people and FOR the people." We even decide who "owns" what, and we do so because it supposedly benefits all of us. For example, no one "owns" the air or the oceans or the state capital building or the right to cut off your arm.

In many other countries now, (and in America until just a few years ago), there are some limits on how much of the public resources (money) one person can acquire. High taxes are imposed after a person has brought in some large amount for him or herself. Then, much of the rest is put to use for the benefit of the overall public. If a person has hit the jackpot and is bringing in, say, $10 million a year, anything beyond that is taxed at a high rate. Everyone benefits from this. The jackpot winner is bringing in a huge sum, but the public is also benefiting from having made the collective decisions that set up the system. In Europe the workday is shorter, they get 6 weeks average vacation per year, their health care is covered, AND they get generous pensions when they retire. This is because they have set up a system that works for THEM. But in America, we are degenerating into a form of feudalism, where the super-rich rule over the rest of us, to their benefit.

"Ownership" is only a concept. It is nothing more than a right that is granted by government -- US -- and only for the benefit of US. Corporations are not entities created by nature, they are structures created and defined by laws, and defined by law, and supposedly for the benefit of the public. Why else would we have passed the laws that set them up?

Remember, feudal lords "owned" the right to sleep with any bride on her wedding night.

"... a problem whose queasy horrors will eventually be made world-wide by the sophistication of machines. The problem is this: How to love people who have no use?

In time, almost all men and women will become worthless as producers of goods, food, services, and more machines, as sources of practical ideas in the areas of economics, engineering and probably medicine too. So, if we can't find reasons and methods for treasuring human beings because they are human beings, then we might as well, as so often has been suggested, rub them out."

- Kilgore Trout, in Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:32 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Barack Obama Is A Putz

Cross posted at MyDD.

Barak Obama comments on a study about "sex and television" in a L.A. Times article, Television Awash In Sex, Study Says: The report says 70% of shows include sexual content. The number has risen over the years.

The conclusion of a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation was dire:

More than a year after federal authorities launched a crackdown on broadcast indecency, television remains so awash in sex that 7 in 10 episodes include some kind of racy content, a study released Wednesday shows.

The results from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation also found that the number of sexual scenes in sitcoms, dramas and reality shows nearly doubled since 1998, while depictions of abstinence or "safe sex" were on the wane.

As Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council says:

[T]he Kaiser study underscored the belief among many parents that television was having a coarsening effect on their kids.

"It's not the same today as when I was growing up and parents left their kids in front of the TV to watch 'Captain Kangaroo,' " Perkins said. "The sex depicted on television does have an effect on kids. If we are what we eat, then we become what we watch."

Or in other words, sex on television is hastening the end of western civilization as we know it. Not a moment too soon if you want my opinion, but Barak Obama is piously concerned:

Results were unveiled at a Washington news conference *attended by Sen. Barak Obama (D-Ill.), Fox Networks Group President Tony Vinciquerra and Federal Communications Commissioner Kathleen Q. Abernathy*.

Obama called on television broadcasters to improve their program ratings system by making content advisories more prominent on the TV screen. He also said TV executives should make it easier for parents to locate family-friendly shows.

"If the industry fails to act — if it fails to give parents advanced controls and new choices — Congress will," Obama said.

That's pretty strange company for a Democrat to be keeping. Is Barak getting *The Memo* from the Right Wing Noise Machine?

The Kaiser Family Foundation's study revealed some alarming statistics:

Kaiser's sample found 3,780 scenes with sexual activity, compared with 1,930 seven years ago when it first examined the issue. In that report, 56% of the shows studied included sexual content, compared with 70% today.

Breaking down the numbers by genre on broadcast television, the study found that 91% of comedies had sexual content, compared with 87% of dramas, 73% of newsmagazine shows and 41% of reality programs

And the staff reporters for the L.A. Times make sure to frame their story with this little tidbit:

The government has been cracking down on broadcast indecency in the wake of singer Janet Jackson's breast-baring incident during the halftime show at the 2004 Super Bowl.

One main concern of legislators is whether the proliferation of sex on TV is contributing to teenage pregnancy. Last year, a Rand Corp. survey of 1,792 adolescents found that teens who watched a lot of sexually suggestive TV shows were almost twice as likely to have sex earlier than teens who didn't.

We all know how horribly deformed the national psyche of America's children became from a split second exposure to Janet Jackson's bare breast. Not to mention all of the adults that TIVO'd it and watched it dozens of times to generate the appropriate level of outrage.

I did pause for a second to ponder what kind of controls the Rand survey used. How old were their 1,792 adolescents? How many sexually suggestive shows did they watch over how long a period of time before they decided to engage in sex? Were the adolescents evenly divided between males and females? Did the Rand survey have some sort of controls to adjust for the tendency of teens to exaggerate their sexual exploits? Were sexually suggestive television shows the only variable that could have influenced the children who were watching more of the shows and at some indeterminate later date deciding to engage in sex?

I also decided I must not be watching enough television, or at least not watching the right shows. I have totally missed the explosion in sexual content on network television. Where are my viewing habits going wrong? Then I ran returned to the beginning of the article to re-read the defined hurdle for classifying a television show as "sexually suggestive":

However, the study found that overt sexual activity and references were far less common than talk about sex, and many of the activities it tallied consisted of banter, kissing and touching.

Banter, kissing and *touching*? Are you kidding me? Touching is consider sexually suggestive? Did they include sexually suggestive leers from which viewers could infer impure thoughts? How did the "experts" define sexually suggestive? Sombody help me out here. Is it just me or is the Kaiser Family Foundation setting the bar ridiculously low for anyone to get concerned? Aren't the conclusions everyone is drawing from this study extremely tenuous?

I would love to see how sexually suggestive episodes of Happy Days would be using the same criteria.

I also have a question or two about this conclusion:

Only 10% of the shows depicted or implied sexual intercourse, the study found.

That sounds pretty tame to me. Which shows "depicted or implied" sexual intercourse? In how many of that 10% figure was sexual intercourse actually "depicted" and which network shows actually "depicted" sexual intercourse? What is the standard for "implying" sexual intercourse?

I'm sorry, but anyone who is offended by anything on network television, aside from the gratuitous violence, is a complete and total putz. Barak Obama is a putz of the first order.

Update: I couldn't get a comment to post, so I am adding this at the end of my article:


Maybe some people should not be parents. Allow me to suggest that any parent whose parenting skills are inadequate to compete with the sexual banter on network sitcoms should consider working on their parenting skills.

This study and Barak Obama are turning a failure of parenting skills into an ideological witch hunt. And Obama will probably have Hillary chiming in on his side at her earliest opportunity.

I listened to O'Reilly for a few moments the other night trying to turn Prop 73 in California, about parental notification of teenage abortion, into an issue of undermining parental authority. I'm calling bullshit on this whole witch hunt for sexual purity from teenagers.

If parents are incapable of discussing simple sexual banter on network television with their children, they should put them up for adoption. Some people are not capable of raising pets, let alone children. Don't put the blame on network television or Democratic "values."

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 10:27 AM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Democrats and Free Trade

Atrios and Maxspeak have a couple of good posts up about free trade (responding partly to this Kevin Drum post). On Maxspeak, L Josh Blivens writes:

There was a big debate about this in the economics profession in the early 1990s. Not one single economist argued about the direction of trade's effect -- it was universally agreed that it was negative for [workers without college degrees]. Some said that trade's effect was small, even very small. Some said it was large. But again, there was absolute unanimity that the net effect of trade on these workers was negative, and that trade had exacerbated inequality.

This is an edited version of my response on Maxspeak:

I have tried and tried to tell the DeLong people about this, but I don't have the economic vocabulary. It turned out that they DID have the vocabulary, but refused to share it with me.

For a high proportion of the up-and-coming young Ivy League Democrats (Yglesias was the first I noticed), free trade has been an absolute value. What a bunch of ignorant fucks.

I have tried to point out that to these people the particular populations suffering from free trade are an essential part of the core Democratic constituency (labor, organized or not, including a hefty proportion of the "minority" vote), and that free trade is thus a perilous issue for Democrats. Their usual response is to make snarky remarks about "pandering to the core constituency", often using the Republican code word for unions -- "special interest group".

Alan Blinder (recently at Talking Points Cafe) is a scholar of note, if I'm not mistaken, but when he writes about politics, he, like a lot of economists, swiftly starts cranking out unscientific cliches and slogans.

DeLong said once that the Clinton free trade policy was Part One of a two part plan. Part Two would have been compensation and retraining for displaced workers, but it never happened. DeLong did not seem nearly as embarassed as he should have. Basically Clinton tried to get his bipartisan program through with Republican votes while defying the Democrats in Congress, and then was shocked to find that the Republicans refused to support the Democratic part of the package.

Economists are really blind to politics, and as economists they have to be anti-labor. (Labor is a cost to be minimized). Krugman does amazingly well, but on free trade he's the same as the rest. (It's possible that his recent experiences have changed his thinking a little, as happened with Stiglitz.)

The supposedly-practical DLC business Democrats did a number of things which harmed the party in the long run. Their anti-labor bias was one part of it; their obliviousness to media concentration was another part of it; and their indifference to party-building was another part of it.

For what it's worth, I'm convinced that all of them are much more comfortable with moderately conservative Republicans than with old-fashioned liberal Democrats. The Democratic Party has been weakened, but the DLC didn't fail. For them, the goal was the destruction of the liberal Democrats, and they were successful in that.

Posted by John Emerson at 8:33 AM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The American Problem in Iraq

Bush's Iraq ploy was an Ariel Sharon "facts-on-the-ground" Humpty Dumpty strategy. Basically he said, "If I don't succeed, I'll fuck things up so badly that no one else can fix them either".

The "can do" natural optimism of Americans works against them. It makes them suckers for adventurists like Cheney and Bush, it makes them punish the bearers of bad news, and makes them unable to support a "cut the losses" policy when appropriate.

TV, gated communities, malls and the political churches enable people to live in a bubble of cheerfulness. This does NOT prevent them from being paranoid: when optimism is threatened, scapegoating and witchhunts begin.

(Slightly edited comment posted on Brad Delong Nov. 9, 2005, 9:39 PM.)

Posted by John Emerson at 6:36 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 9, 2005

Chalabi - In Washington Now

Achmed Chalabi in DC, "The fact that I misled the U.S. is an urban myth."

But previously Chalabi had something different to say on the subject:

Chalabi, asked whether his Iraqi National Congress manipulated the Bushies into invading a country that did not attack us and did not threaten us, has this to say:
"'Our objective has been achieved. That tyrant Saddam is gone, and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important.' "
And, before that,
frontline: truth, war and consquences: introduction | PBS:
"When asked if he feels any unease or discomfort at the fact that some Americans feel the United States was suckered into a war under the false pretenses of disarming Saddam of weapons of mass destruction, Chalabi replies, 'No. ... We are in Baghdad now.'"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:39 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

US Use Of Chemical Weapons - Altercation Has The Proof

Over at Altercation, scroll down to "Correspondence Corner."

A March '05 publication by the US Army confirms that US soldiers used white phosphorus offensively in the Battle of Fallujah. This directly contradicts statements made by the U.S. Department of Defense and by the US State Department.

Here is the story [PDF file] on artillery use from the March/April edition of the US Army's "Field Artillery Magazine."

. . . "WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."

What the article does not say, however, is that there is no way you can use white phosphorus like that without forming a deadly chemical cloud that kills everything within a tenth of a mile in all directions from where it hits. Obviously, the effect of such deadly clouds weren't just psychological in nature.

This claim of "shake and bake" is further confirmed in a news article by an embedded journalist at the time. See here

Go to Altercation for the rest. (Note that this story is about Marines, not Army.)

Update - A former Marine writes about witnessing the use of White Phosphorus rounds in An Nasiriyah.

Update - Right Wing sites talking about this story:

Partisan Pundit,

I've talked with grunts who were there. Fallujah was full of stuff right out of Saving Private Ryan. It was straight up war. Dirty, nasty, knife-in-the-throat urban combat. Did "tens" of people really die from exposure to white phosophorous smoke? Maybe. And you know what? That is sad, and tragic if they weren't combatants. But you know what else? Either way, it wasn't a war crime.

It was just plain war.

Right Wing Fascist, The Left Tries to Make the Chemical Weapons Claim,
Does it surprise you? Just remember, as the ratio of liberal bloggers reporting the story approaches 1, the probability of the story being true either factual or true approaches 0.
little green rascist,
The latest story floated out to the ever-willing mainstream media by the “anti-war” crowd is that the US military used “chemical weapons” in Fallujah; Scott Burgess has a report that casts serious doubt on this claim: Ablution Exclusive: Weapons Expert Challenges White Phosphorus Claims.
protein wisdom, Weapons-grade Bullshit,
... is not a chemical weapon
Update - Please note the rebuttal comment from Confederate Yankee in the comments.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:51 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Staged, Just Like Everything Else

BAGnewsNotes: Pizza II thinks an important historical picture - the Saddam Missile Strike/White House pizza shot - was staged, and explains why. It's a good read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:49 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Conspiracy - Planning Aggressive War

Everyone go read Whiskey Bar: War Plan. Then come back and discuss.

Would it be a good strategy to make it clear that the invasion of Iraq and any planning to extend this into Syria or other countries is a war crime, and that the day will come when all involved will have to answer for it? That might help to head off more invasions. Or is this a dangerous strategy, possibly provoking those involved into taking action to secure their current above-the-law status?

Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:39 AM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Work smarter, not harder

Cross-posted from MyDD, the latest installment from Frameshop Is Open, Outsmart 'em:

The 'Outsmart and Outhustle' Frame

Torturing prisoners will not change the fact that the Bush Administration has failed to outsmart and outhustle the terrorists. It will only make a bad situation worse. President Bush's policy of torture is just the latest in a long list of mistakes by an administration that has failed to be smart and fast enough to protect the American people.

When the United States military outsmarted and outhustled Osama Bin Laden, and trapped him in the caves of Afghanistan--President Bush chose to forfeit that success by using brute strength to destroy Iraq. And he failed. And American is less safe for it.

When homeland security started to outsmart and outhustle terrorists through a series of innovative security measures at airports and in our cities--President Bush chose to abandon that success by setting up a network of secret prisons that use brute strength to torture suspects. And he failed. And America is less safe for it.

When local state authorities try to outsmart and outhustle illegal immigrants crossing into America, and the potential danger than this influx may cause--President Bush chose to give billions in tax breaks to wealthy Americans, forcing vigilante groups to resort to brute strength to protect our borders. And this is failing. And America is less safe for it.


And the list goes on.


Rather than trying to outsmart and outhustle the threats to America, President Bush keeps taking the road to failure--he keeps trying to protect America with the tactics of the dumb brute.

But as every child in America knows, it is Jack who outsmarts the giant, and it is David who slays Goliath. The dumb brute may look menacing in the short run, but he is always brought down.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 9:37 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Not In My Name - California Edition

Arnold is not my Governor and Steve Lopez explains why in today's column, Governor Took Low Road on Education: Arnold Schwarzenegger held a great opportunity in his hands when he became governor of California. He could have been the education governor.

I sadly confess that I voted for Schwarzenegger, because I despised Gray Davis for being an ineffectual corporate scumbag who was more interested in fund raising than governing California. I never would have predicted that The Porkinator would would be even worse. He sold out to the Reich Wing base of the Republican party to grease the skids of his presidential ambitions. Arnold Schwarzenegger does not represent my values and is not my Governor. Last night the voters of California roasted him like the fat, greasy pig that he is.

Lopez quotes Roy Romer, chief of the Los Angeles Unified School District:

The world is moving its talented jobs to India and China and other places because they have very good education," says Romer. "If you take a 50-year view of Los Angeles, you're going to have to build the economy on schools and knowledge, and we are not doing it. The political and frankly the social cadre have not recognized that you can't educate only the elite and compete in the world. You have to educate everybody

Lopez hits the nail on the head:

Yes, I know you can't throw money at the problem. But neither can you expect excellence when mediocrity is all you're willing to pay for, and even at that, the governor tries to raid the public school kitty.

Lopez concludes with the very least that California voters could have expected from California's all time king of tapping the corporate kitty:

At the very least, the governor could have demanded payback from his corporate pals. With all the favors they've gotten from Schwarzenegger, he could have tapped them for more help with charters, corporate sponsorship of schools, donations of equipment and brainpower.

In short, he could have restored California's role as the national model for public schools.

Instead, Schwarzenegger fell for the siren song of political ambition and attempted to ride the religious ferver of conservative theocrats and the anti-union hysteria of free market utopians into presidential history. He isn't the first or the last politician who let hubris and ambition get in the way of serving the people who elected him. Arnold Schwarzenegger is just the most recent.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:38 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Good old fashioned ass kicking.

Well, the results are in. I just checked the California Secretary of State web site and with 97.1% ( 17152 of 17657 ) precincts reporting as of Nov 9, 2005 at 2:31 am, every single one of Arnie's pet propositions is going down in flames.. Not a shadow of a doubt about any one of 'em, and the closest one, Prop. 73 (which a lot of segments of the "progressive" community bailed on formallly opposing, to avoid division in the ranks at the grassroots) is still losing by 4.5%. Hallelujah.

Who is kicking whose ass around, now, eh, Arnie? Mr. "I am always kicking their butts" indeed.

Thank god for the unions, and their pocketbooks and ability to put feet on the street. In fact, given how incredibly effective they've been at hamstringing Arnie, and indeed, at flat out taking him out, from riding high to record lows in the polls, you've got to wonder what an accomplished politician could do, if he or she ran on an aggressively progressive and pro-working folks agenda. Or what the union movement could do, if it could manage to figure out how to organize a larger percentage of the population... the Republican right must have nightmares about that.

P.S. Here's Speak Out California's take... hehehe.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:40 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 8, 2005

Republican War On People Of Faith

Excellent post, every word. Go read. The Repubicans are at war with people of faith.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:14 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

California Ballot Initiative Comment

I didn't say this publicly before the election, but if Prop 75 passes -- the one restricting public employee unions from putting money into elections -- then the unions will finally have to start putting money into a different kind of approach. I'm talking about strategic communications organizations designed to reach out to the general public with a long-term strategic approach aimed at changing public attitudes. These organizations would do things like reach out to the general public with messaging about how Progressive values are good for people, and that the Progressive approach to issues benefits them mpore than a right-wing approach.

In other words, GROWING THE BASE instead of just trying to get more of a shrinking base to the polls.

So don't take it as a big loss if California's Prop 75 wins. It will mean unions have to start putting money into "Progressive Infrastructure." Try Googling "Progressive Infrastructure" to see what I mean.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:57 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Last Abortion Clinic

Another public service from Seeing the Forest. Frontline has what looks like a terrific documentary about the success of America's Reich Wing Theocrats to eliminate abortions and return us to the good old days when a woman's place was in the home and all white children were above average.

The Last Abortion Clinic: Nov. 08, 2005 at 9pm (click through to check local listings)

(60 minutes) Today, the headlines are filled with speculation about changes in the U.S. Supreme Court and what those changes might mean for abortion -- an issue that has divided the country for over 30 years. Heated rhetoric from both sides continues to be heard in courtrooms and on the campaign trail. But while attention is often focused on the arguments, there is another story playing out in local communities.

Pro-life advocates have waged a successful campaign to reduce abortions in many places throughout the country. By using state laws to regulate and limit abortion and by creating their own clinics to offer alternatives to women, they have changed the facts on the ground. On Nov. 8, FRONTLINE investigates the steady decline in the number of physicians and clinics performing abortions and focuses on local political battles in states like Mississippi, where only a single clinic performs the controversial procedure.

(click through to read the press release)

By the way: God Is Pro-Choice and

Freedom Of Choice Is A Fundamental Value

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 4:53 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Pro-Growth Progressive

There's an excellent discussion over at TPM Cafe's Bookclub about Gene Sperling's new book, The Pro-Growth Progressive: An Economic Strategy for Shared Prosperity.

Gene got into a little dust up with David Sirota over free trade versus fair trade. Stop by and join in.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 4:49 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Ask and ye shall receive

In response to his pathetic plea for attention for his ragmuffin, dog earred web site, here are a few links to some of Bob Geiger's recent stories:

An excellent round-up and analysis of the 109th Congress

Legislation Killed By GOP Senate Defines Republicans

Bob's weekly think piece.

Saturday Cartoons

AEI is inviting Chalabi to speak tomorrow?

Dishonoring the Dead at the American Enterprise Institute

Democrats voting for Bloomberg? Say it ain't so!

An Election-Day Message for New York City Democrats

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 1:47 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Interview With God

Hat tip to Big Dog at The Political Dogfight

The Interview With God

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 1:38 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Election Day

I'm an election worker, in charge of a precinct, so I'll be away from the computer all day. My precinct (Atherton) is likely to be very slow, with lots of "permanent absentee" voters, so maybe I'll get a chance to visit a Starbucks a few times and check in. So use this as an open thread and let me know what's going on in the world. Thanks.

I'm counting on you. (That's an election worker joke...)

Update - Busier than expected. (Snuck out on a Starbucks run...)

Update - Lifetime achievement - I actually shushed a librarian! My polling place is in a library and I'm the boss today, The librarian came by and said something to one of the poll workers and I went "SHHHH!" (But not loud enough so she could hear me. Probably for the best.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:35 AM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 7, 2005

Coordinating Their Stories?

Kevin hayden at American Street: Signs of the Coverup,

First, Berlusconi meets with Bush. Now, here comes Chalabi.

Call me a cynic but it sure smells like they’re tightening their stories to try and make them Special-Counsel-proof. Ever since it was clear Cooter Libby was gonna get nailed, they’ve been in emergency mode. Rove rolled over on Libby (and did he put a horse’s head in Fitzgerald’s bed?). And now there’s a parade of global liars visiting Bush, trying to cover for Boss Hawg Cheney.

It reminds me of The Godfather, but with Grade C actors and bloodier results.

Go to the original for the links.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:06 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Jackie Goldberg on Unions and the Special Election

Speak Out California has a piece by Jackie Goldberg entitled, Why progressive Californians must stand with organized labor on November 8.

I'm highlighting the following statement, for purposes of discussion:

Public employee unions are the only remaining force left to fight against the complete corporate privatization of public sector agencies and employment. Unions are the only voices loud enough to be heard demanding some sort of public health system for all. Unions are trying to prevent further tax breaks for the wealthiest 1% of Americans. In fact, the only serious, organized, well-financed resistance to the privatization of schools, hospitals, prisons, water and electricity, and everything else not nailed down, is provided by dues-paying union members.

Emphasis mine. Why is this the case? Doesn't this imply that the larger progressive community is leaning a bit too heavily on our union brothers and sisters to keep up the fight, out of their own pockets and time? Why is everything being left up to them (barely 10% of the population)? Doesn't this imply that we need to collectively step up to the plate and establish alternative institutions of equal heft?

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 6:07 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Vatican Endorses Evolution

The wingnuts are trying to get a Catholic majority on the Supreme Court. The Republican-Catholic relationship is a marriage of convenience, a ploy for votes. Traditionally the Republican base is anti-Catholic.

For a good example of the anti-Catholic feelings of the fundamentalists, look at the language of Bush's buddy Bob Jones. From Catholic.com,

Not long after Pope Paul VI died in 1978, Bob Jones, chancellor of Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, wrote an ill-tempered article in his school’s magazine, Faith for the Family (not to be confused with Dr. James Dobson’s magazine, Focus on the Family). The article was republished by the Fundamentalist organization Mission to Catholics, International (run by an ex-Carmelite priest-turned-Fundamentalist minister) as a tract entitled The Church of Rome in Perspective.

No effort is made to be conciliatory, as the first line demonstrates: "Pope Paul VI, archpriest of Satan, a deceiver and an anti-Christ, has, like Judas, gone to his own place." It goes downhill from there.

John F Kennedy encountered strong anti-Catholic bias from the Republicans and had to address Southern Baptist leaders in September, 1960, to assure them that he would not "take orders from the Pope." But before the 2004 election Bush asked the Pope for exactly that - he asked the Pope to order American Bishops to set aside Catholic views on war, torture, corruption, materialism and debt and campaign against Kerry because Kerry said he wouldn't follow the orders of the Church on abortion when in office. And he got his wish.

Well, the election is over, and it looks as though the alliance may be as well. I wonder if this will affect the Alito nomination, when the wingnuts start to understand what getting what they wished for could mean. As I noted above, Catholics oppose war, torture, corruption, materialism and debt -- also known as the Republican Party Platform.

Evolution in the bible, says Vatican - The Other Side - Breaking News 24/7 - NEWS.com.au

THE Vatican has issued a stout defence of Charles Darwin, voicing strong criticism of Christian fundamentalists who reject his theory of evolution and interpret the biblical account of creation literally.
Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the Genesis description of how God created the universe and Darwin's theory of evolution were "perfectly compatible" if the Bible were read correctly.

His statement was a clear attack on creationist campaigners in the US, who see evolution and the Genesis account as mutually exclusive.

"The fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim," he said at a Vatican press conference. He said the real message in Genesis was that "the universe didn't make itself and had a creator".

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:19 PM | Comments (7) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

More On Niger Forgeries

The Left Coaster: Treasongate: The Niger Forgeries v. the CIA Intel Reports - Preliminary Conclusion: An Italian Job

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:34 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

IRS Cracking Down On War Opponents

Antiwar Sermon Brings IRS Warning,

The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California's largest and most liberal churches that it is at risk of losing its tax-exempt status because of an antiwar sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election.

. . . In his sermon, Regas, who from the pulpit opposed both the Vietnam War and 1991's Gulf War, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Regas said that "good people of profound faith" could vote for either man, and did not tell parishioners whom to support.

But he criticized the war in Iraq, saying that Jesus would have told Bush, "Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster."

[. . .] "We are so careful at our church never to endorse a candidate," Bacon said in a later interview.

"One of the strongest sermons I've ever given was against President Clinton's fraying of the social safety net."

How many "conservative" churches that DO tell parishioners how to vote have received similar letters? Has the Heritage Foundation, also a "501c3" charity, received a similar letter? Jerry Falwell? James Dobson? Of course not.

But a minister gives a sermon saying that Jesus would be against the war, and he gets a threat-letter from the government.

Watch your backs!


Update - The Mahablog is on it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:58 AM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Courts

Meanwhile, just today, Appeals court faces split: REPUBLICANS PUSHING TO DIVIDE 9TH CIRCUIT,

...opponents say the legislation is a thinly veiled attempt by Republicans to stock the federal bench with more conservative judges and diminish the influence of what has long been regarded as the country's most liberal court.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:31 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Watch Your Backs Is Back

I stopped using the signoff phrase "Watch Your Backs" for a while, after the Senate "Gang of 14" saved the filibuster. I felt that was a turning point is the Christian Right's attempts to take over, and relaxed. I am starting to think I might have been wrong.

For one thing, the investigations closing in on White House, Congressional and "conservative movement" corruption are backing the right-wing leadership into a corner. I don't think we should underestimate what this crowd is capable of -- like committing aggressive war, for example.

Remember, there are literally trillions of dollars at stake. That's a powerful incentive. And how many of these guys are going to jail if there are honest and serious efforts to investigate abuses of power and enforce laws? Will they just go quietly, or are they likely to use the levers of power to seize sufficient control to ward that off and punish their opponents? Students of history know that Nixon, with investigators closing in, asked the Joint Chiefs ''whether in a crunch there was support to keep him in power.''

What got me thinking about this today was TalkLeft: The FBI Is Spying on You and Me,

The Washington Post reports that the FBI has been obtaining and reviewing records of ordinary Americans in the name of the war on terror through the use of national security letters that gag the recipients.

[. . .] There is no judicial oversight of national security letters. The Patriot Act lessened the standard the FBI is to use in issuing the letters.

How any people know that the Bush Administration has shifted the FBI away from fighting crime, toward fighting what they define as terrorism. FBI Reorganizes to Fight Terrorism
FBI Director Robert Mueller today announced a major reorganization that will change the Bureau's 94-year old main mission from investigation, pursuit and prosecution of criminals to protecting Americans from terrorist attacks.
The problem with this is, who is the government calling "terrorists?" We know that Bush has been purging the government of dedicated career professionals and stacking it with "conservative movement" operatives. So who do you think THEY will want to go after? If you spend any time at all listening to Rush Limbaugh, you'll realize that this crowd is not your father's Republican Party. So take a look at this: FBI, ATF address domestic terrorism,
Violent animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists now pose one of the most serious terrorism threats to the nation, top federal law enforcement officials say.

[. . .] The FBI has 150 pending investigations associated with animal rights or eco-terrorist activities, and ATF officials say they have opened 58 investigations in the past six years related to violence attributed to the ELF and ALF.

In the same period violence from groups like the Ku Klux Klan and anti-abortion extremists have declined, Lewis said.

Republicans -- the party of torture and war -- have been shifting resources away from investigating the people who bombed Oklahoma City, and toward people who think you shouldn't be cruel to animals. Worried yet?

Well you know you should worry when your FBI talks like Rush Limbaugh: Statement of John E. Lewis, Deputy Assistant Director, Counterterrorism Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, May 18, 2005,

Good morning Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Jeffords, and members of the Committee. I am pleased to have the opportunity to appear today and to discuss the threat posed by animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists in this country, as well as the measures the FBI and its partners are taking to address this threat.
So, my question is, how long before ANY active opposition to the Right's agenda is labelled "terrorism?"


-- WATCH YOUR BACKS! --

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:27 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 6, 2005

Today's Housing Bubble Post

Here's a list of Housing Bubble blogs:

The Housing Bubble Blog

Calculated Risk

Bubble Meter


Ready To Burst

the bursting bubble

The House Bubble

Housing.com
The Boy in the Big Housing Bubble

Patrick.net

Housing Bubble

Prudent Bear

Bloggers Blog: Housing Bubble Blogs and Resources (lists regional housing bubble blogs, too)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:55 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Who Is Our Economy For, Anyway?

The Left Coaster: Working Harder - For Less

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:22 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Zell Gone, Let's Make Biden Next

Zell Miller is no longer in the Senate, undermining the Democratic Party. How about we work to get Joe Biden out, too?

Biden: Alito should get up-or-down vote,

Samuel Alito should get an up-or-down vote on his Supreme Court nomination, a Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday, playing down the chances of a filibuster.

. . . Other committee Democrats, however, said it was too soon to tell whether a filibuster might be necessary, citing initial concerns about Alito’s conservative record from the bench.

Update - Spittle & Ink comments on Biden [NOTE - NOT WORK SAFE and set your coffee cup down before clicking],

Only a few short days after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) forcibly grew the Democratic party a set of balls, Senator Joe Biden (D-Del) is moving to return the party to its neutered state.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:02 PM | Comments (10) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Deception Is Reality

Or "How I Discovered Karl Rove's Brilliant Political Strategy At The Spy Museum." Those of you who are familiar with The Spy Museum in Washington D.C., know that there are two basic principles for an international spy:

(1.) Deception is reality.

(2.) Deny everything.

I think that about sums it up. Last week the L.A. Times published a perfect example of this strategy that illustrates how deeply it has infiltrated the Reich Wing Noise Machine. Plamegate's Real Liar: SCOOTER" LIBBY'S indictment was not exactly good news for the White House, but it could have been a lot worse. Feverish speculation had been building that Karl Rove would soon be "frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs," as Valerie Plame's bombastic hubby, Joe Wilson, had hoped. Or even that Dick Cheney would have to resign.

Before I go any further, I would like to point out that on The Daily Show last week, Jon Stewart played clips of David Brooks, Bill Kristol and four other neo-con commentators all saying verbatim, "There was no conspiracy." That is just one example of how deeply these two lessons have been absorbed by the Reich Wing Borg Collective. I'm sure they would all deny that there is a conspiracy to deny the conspiracy. There was no memo. They just happened to all be on the same wavelength.

Like all good neo-cons, Max Boot wears deception like a second skin. Let's take a belated look at Max's analysis of Fitgerald's investigation.

But with his investigation all but over, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has found no criminal conspiracy and no violations of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which makes it a crime in some circumstances to disclose the names of undercover CIA operatives. Among other problems, Plame doesn't seem to fit the act's definition of a "covert agent" — someone who "has within the last five years served outside the United States." By 2003, Plame had apparently been working in Langley, Va., for at least six years, which means that, mystery of mysteries, the vice president's chief of staff was indicted for covering up something that wasn't a crime.

Before he is even half way through the first sentence Boot tells his first lie. Fitzgerald's investigation is far from being all over. Rove and Cheney are not even close to being off the hook commiting treason. The problem with Boot's claim that Plame was not a covert agent is that it begs the question, "Then why did the CIA refer a criminal complaint to the Justice Department?" Perhaps the CIA is confused about whether of not Valerie Plame was a covert agent. Espionage is so confusing. Maybe the CIA doesn't get it.

Mystery of mysteries! Scooter Libbey "was indicted for covering up something that wasn't a crime!" Tony Snow made the very same claim on the Bill Maher show, i.e. "Scooter was basically indicted for talking to reporters." Actually, Scooter Libbey was indicted on exactly the same grounds as Martha Stewart and Bill Clinton. Somebody should tell Fitzgerald that the rule of law does not apply to neo-cons. When neo-cons lie under oath they are just playing hardball politics.

Here comes the core deception that the neo-cons are attempting to pass off as reality:

Making the best of a weak hand, Democrats argued that the case was not about petty-ante perjury but, as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid put it, "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." The problem here is that the one undisputed liar in this whole sordid affair doesn't work for the administration. In his attempts to turn his wife into an antiwar martyr, Joseph C. Wilson IV has retailed more whoppers than Burger King.

So even though Joe Wilson was right and Bush has admitted that his infamous sixteen words should not have been included in his SOTU address, Joe Wilson was wrong and Bush and the neo-cons were right. I guess we must have found WMD in Iraq after all.

For the record, eriposte has put together an incredibly in depth analysis of WMD intelligence under the heading Treasongate. One of his articles deals directly with False Neo-con Claims Against Joe Wilson.

With that in mind, let's continue to examine Max Boot's fairy tale version of events:

The least consequential of these fibs was his denial that it was his wife who got him sent to Niger in February 2002 to check out claims that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence later stated, in a bipartisan report, that evidence indicated it was Mrs. Wilson who "had suggested his name for the trip." By leaking this fact to the news media, Libby and other White House officials were merely setting the record straight — not, as Wilson would have it, punishing his Mata Hari wife.
(emphasis added)

A key characteristic of the neo-con dialectic is that they have absolutely no shame about telling brazen lies and sliming their political opponents. Has Valerie Plame done anything to deserve being described as Mata Hari?

Since I'm assuming that all of our Seeing the Forest readers have not been able to read all of eriposte's articles about this whole sorry episode, let me help out a little bit. Read eriposte's last article about the SSCI Report. That would be Part 3A-6. Allow me to summarize. The SSCI Report was a whitewash, which is why Sen. Roberts and the entire Republican Senate Caucus is trying to stall phase II, about manipulation of WMD intelligence.

On the outside chance that there are a tiny minority of Seeing the Forest readers who are skeptical that government officials would lie to cover their political ass, I should also point out that eriposte has informed us of what most Brits already know. Surprise, surprise! The Butler Report was a whitewash. That dispenses with practically Boot's entire editorial smear of Joe Wilson and his wife.

Let's move ahead a little bit to a little known report called The Robb-Silverman Report:

This is not an isolated example. Pretty much all of the claims that the administration doctored evidence about Iraq have been euthanized, not only by the Senate committee but also by the equally bipartisan Robb-Silberman commission.

Now, again courtesy of eriposte, let's take a look at one direct excerpt from The Robb-Silverman Report:

3. Senate and House Intelligence Committees knew that uranium from Africa claim was baseless, before Joseph Wilson's op-ed in 2003

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.

On June 17, 2003, CIA produced a memorandum for the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) stating that "since learning that the Iraq-Niger uranium deal was based on false documents earlier this spring we no longer believe that there is sufficient other reporting to conclude that Iraq pursued uranium from abroad." [216] The NIO for Strategic and Nuclear Programs also briefed the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, on June 18 and 19, respectively, on the CIA's conclusions in this regard. [217]
Why didn't I know about this before? Well, because the Senate (SSCI) Report conveniently left it out as the Robb-Silberman report points out

Maybe there was a second Robb-Silverman Report on WMD. The one eriposte quotes from is very clear that there was no doubt that WMD intelligence depended on an unrealiable source who was a known liar and everybody that was interested in the truth knew it.

Next Boot turns to what he himself describes as "an unlikely source":

The latest proof that intelligence was not "politicized" comes from an unlikely source — Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, who has been denouncing the hawkish "cabal" supposedly leading us toward "disaster." Yet, in between bouts of trashing the administration, Wilkerson said on Oct. 19 that "the consensus of the intelligence community was overwhelming" that Hussein was building illicit weapons. This view was endorsed by "the French, the Germans, the Brits." The French, of all people, even offered "proof positive" that Hussein was buying aluminum tubes "for centrifuges." Wilkerson also recalled seeing satellite photos "that would lead me to believe that Saddam Hussein, at least on occasion, was … giving us disinformation."

Boot does not provide a source for Wilkerson's statement, but here is what Wilkerson had to say about overall foreign policy in the Bush administration, on October 19th, during an extensive Policy Forum presented by Steve Clemmons at The Washington Note:

But the case that I saw for four-plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardizations, perturbations, changes to the national security decision-making process. What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made. And then when the bureaucracy was presented with the decision to carry them out, it was presented in a such a disjointed, incredible way that the bureaucracy often didn’t know what it was doing as it moved to carry them out.

And there's this as well:

And so we got into Iraq, and so George Packer quotes Richard Haas in his book as saying, “To this day I still don’t know why we went to war in Iraq.” I can go through all the things we listed, from WMD to human rights to – I can go through it – terrorism, but I really can’t sit here and tell you, George, why we went to war in Iraq.

Wilkerson does indeed make a statement or two to the effect that the Bush administration and the neo-cons may have managed to convince themselves that Hussein had WMD, but at best Max Boot is being disingenuous and taking a quote out of context. Boot is guilty of the same crime the neo-cons in the administration committed to lead us into an immoral war. He is stovepiping selective disinformation. Boot concludes:

So much for the lies that led to war. What we're left with is the lies that led to the antiwar movement. Good thing for Wilson and his pals that deceiving the press and the public isn't a crime.

There you have it. The neo-con strategy in a nutshell. Deception is Reality and Deny Everything. If deceiving the public were a crime, Max Boot would be incarcerated for felonious aggravated serial deception. As Dave is fond of saying "It's what they do." I would take it a step farther and say they have been doing it for so long, that it is also who they are. I don't believe there is a neo-con in the entire country who is capable of discussing politics without resorting to malignant deceptions of the highest order.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 4:23 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The economic bell tolls. Does it toll for thee?

Very likely, unless you are among America's richest 1% (Annual income over $870,000). Is the economic glass half full, or half empty? Two recent stories in the L.A. Times help answer that question.

Economic Data Lift Stocks: Productivity and retail sales figures cheer investors. But a rise in oil prices eats into some of the market's gains

"That's a lot of good news that's driving the market today," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at Johnson Illington Advisers. "But … who knows what the market will tell us tomorrow? It's been an on-again, off-again market. Today it's on again."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 49.86 points, or 0.5%, to 10,522.59

Bush and his supply side economic policies have not been good to the stock market.

Update: 10:30 a.m. PST. Added link about income inequality.

Bush's economic policies have helped a few folks. Productivity Costs Up, Labor Costs Drop : Third-quarter data beat expectations, but the fact that wages trail inflation may be making workers uneasy.

For the 90% of Americans who work for a living the economic growth under Bush's leadership has been a complete bust:

For many companies, boosting productivity while managing labor costs — often through better technology, workplace changes or outsourcing — is a necessity to compete against lower-cost foreign and U.S. rivals. It's not just a mantra for high-cost, old-line industries such as airlines or automakers. In Silicon Valley, state-of-the-art technology companies are producing more to meet increasing orders, but employment growth in the region has been anemic.

Strong productivity gains normally could support higher wages. But although growth in overall compensation — wages and benefits together — has surpassed inflation, wage boosts alone have not. That could help explain why surveys show that many workers are unsettled about the economy, even though it is growing at an above-average pace, analysts say.

Bush's tax cuts and Bush's economic policies work very well for the people on this list. Not so well for the rest of us.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:53 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Boogeyman Is From Indonesia

Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign "aid" organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying diminsions during this time of globalization.

I should know; I was an EHM.

So begins the preface to Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins.

On his way to exposing the depraved moral crime commonly referred to as "economic development," Perkins shares the origin of the boogeyman with his readers:

I had a romanticized vision of Indonesia, the country where I was to live for the next three months. Some of the books I read featured photographs of beautiful women in brightly colorred sarongs, exotic Balinese dancers, shamans blowing fire, and warriors paddling long dugout canoes in emerald waters at the foot of smoking volcanoes. Particularly striking was a series on the magnificent black-sailed galleons of the infamous Bugi pirates, who still sailed the seas of the archipelago, and who had so terrorized early European sailors that they returned home to warn their children, "Behave yourselves, or the Bugimen will get you." (emphasis added)

The reality of Indonesia was quite different:

But there was also an ugly, tragic side to [Jakarta]. Lepers holding out bloodied stumps instead of hands. Young girls offering their bodies for a few coins. Once-splendid Dutch canals turned into cesspools. Cardboard hovels where entire families lived along the trash-lined banks of black rivers. Blaring horns and choking fumes. The beautiful and the ugly, the elegant and the vulgar, the spiritual and the profane. This was Jakarta, where the enticing scent of cloves and ochid blossoms battled the miasma of open sewers for dominance.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is a delightfully readable and well written expose of the dark underbelly of economic development and globalization. Very early on in his descent into the moral quagmire of life as an EHM, Perkins realizes that there is a fundamental problem with how America's economic empire is portrayed by the conventional wisdom:

I also realized that my college professsors had not understood the true nature of macroeconomics: that in many cases helping an economy grow only makes those few people who sit atop the pyramid even richer, while it does nothing for those at the bottom except to push them even lower. Indeed, promoting capitalism often results in a system that resembles medievil feudal societies. If any of my professors knew this, they had not admitted it - probably because the big corporations, and the men who run them, fund colleges. Exposing the truth would undoubtedly cost those professors their jobs-just as such revelations could cost me mine.
(emphasis added)

As you listen to cable coverage and read newspaper stories of Bush's visit to South America, keep in mind that the very same analysis applies to the M$M. It makes no difference whether "economic reporters" are willfully ignorant or keepers of the immoral flame of free trade and globalization, America's global economic empire is steeped in blood and genocide.

The next chapter is titled Selling My Soul. Perkins' book should be required reading for all American school children and full grown adults who wish to be informed about the root causes of terrorism. They don't hate us for who we are. They hate us for what our leaders do in our name.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:15 AM | Comments (7) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

"Stateless" children: GOP mulls end of birthright citizenship

[Eliminating "birthright citizenship" is all about punishing babies and children for the "sins" of their parents. This would create a permanent underclass of "stateless" residents, born and raised in the United States, but with no legal right to reside here or to the Constitutional protections and privileges associated with citizenship - and no citizenship status anywhere else as well... what are these kids supposed to do?!? What happens when their parents are deported, and their home country refuses entry to their children? The idea is repugnant, and downright unAmerican. This, along with the ridiculous and racist barrier idea, shows that the mainstream of the Republican Party has gone off the deep end. -Thomas]

GOP mulls end of birthright citizenship

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- House Republicans tackling illegal immigration were reported looking closely at ending birthright citizenship.
They also were discussing building a barrier along the entire U.S.- Mexican border, The Washington Times said.
Those two ideas have floated to the top of the list of possibilities to be included either in an immigration-enforcement bill later this year or in a later comprehensive immigration overhaul.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:26 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Absolut Corruption

absolut-corruption-2politicaljunkies.JPG

Source: 2 Political Junkies (proud members of the reality based community)

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 12:53 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 5, 2005

Oh, THAT'S Why We're In Iraq!

Hey check this one out: Fighting a War Carrying Dead Weight,

Let us at least face this one fact: this War on Terrorism has been, and will continue to be, longer and bloodier than it had to be because a large segment of our own population does not see this war for what it is - a life and death struggle for survival on the part of liberal democracy.

[. . .] the opponents, so-called, of the war have left rational dissent far behind and are now engaged, witting or otherwise, in an effort to secure our defeat.

[. . .] So, we continue the fight - our President is steadfast and we are ready for whatever call to duty may happen. [emphasis added]
As long as that doesn't involve actually going to Iraq and actually fighting, of course. That's for what the "conservative movement"'s leaders call "the wackos."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:50 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Accusing Clinton Of Something Bush 1 Did

Remember the STF Rule: When Republicans Accuse ... look deeper and you'll discover they're actually doing what they're accusing others of.

So think back to the accusations that Clinton was somehow being paid off by the Chinese, which somehow resulted in the Chinese obtaining our military secrets. Remember that accusation? Well guess what really happened?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:13 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Around

Everything at BAGnewsNotes. I haven't been visiting Slactivist enough lately. eRiposte has more on the Niger forgeries. Grannyinsanity is on the edge. AlterNet . Lots at American Street

And a bit of humor for a Saturday: Bush Orders Staff to Attend Ethics Briefings (without firing Rove -- and letting Libby resign instead of being fired.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:50 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 4, 2005

Friday Fish Blogging

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:56 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Red Cross New RW Enemy

The wingnuts are at it again. Now the enemy is the Red Cross "and its ilk". Red Cross Demands Access to Terrorists,

This is not exactly news. The ICRC and its ilk have long demanded that al-Qaeda terrorists, who represent an extremist ideology rather than a specific country, be accorded full protections under the Geneva Conventions. We note the story only to point out that despite the ICRC’s prodigious efforts on behalf of terrorist captives, there remain those insensible critics who insist that anti-American politics have replaced human rights concerns atop of these groups’ agenda.
Asking to see what's going on in secret prisons becomes "efforts on behalf of terrorist captives" and "anti-American politics". What's next? Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Advertising On Blogs

A company pays a lot to advertise in magazines. A 4-color, full-page ad in a major computer magazine that "reaches" about a million readers costs about $77,000, and costs more than $108,000 for a cover. That is for one ad in one issue of the magazine.

An ad that runs for a week on every blog in the "Advertise Liberally" BlogAds network is seen 19,161,956 times and costs $8885.50 to run.

But let's compare the ad in the magazine with the ad on the blogs. The computer magazine ad is buried in how many pages of other ads? How many times is the reader likely to see the ad while turning the pages of the magazine? How long is the reader likely to have the ad in view? Does the reader see the ad more than one time, if at all? And how can you measure the effect of the ad?

The blog ad is in front of the blog-viewer the entire time the person is reading the blog, and is there every time the reader comes back. And it is again in front of the reader when he or she visits another blog, because blog-readers don't just read one blog. And the advertiser can tell how many people are responding to the ad.

Let me point out that every single blog-reader is a computer-user. They also drive cars, eat food, listen to music, wear clothes and go to movies.

You can advertise on Seeing the Forest for one week for $50. The ad will be seen over 35,000 times. The new Premium Placement spot on the left is $75 for a week

Do you have something that you want exposed more than 35,000 times? (Yes, I know, go ahead, say it in the comments.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:08 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Job Growth???

Economic Report: U.S. nonfarm payrolls rise 56,000 in Oct.,

U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose by 56,000 in October after a revised 8,000 loss in September, the agency said. The unemployment rate fell to 5% in October from 5.1% in September.
But just a few days ago, Hurricane Job Losses Top 500,000,
The number of people who lost their jobs because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita has now climbed above the half-million mark with further increases expected in coming weeks from Hurricane Wilma.

. . . In a separate report, the Labor Department said that orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket durable goods fell by 2.1 percent in September, a bigger drop than the 1.5 percent decline economists had been expecting.

OK, I'm just a stupid blogger. I don't understand. Someone explain to me.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:57 AM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Still Not Santa Cruz, But Life More Complete


One of the heartbreaks of moving from Santa Cruz up to the San Francisco peninsula was leaving KPIG behind. (107.5, prounounced "One oh seven oink five") But now they're available in the SF Bay Area, at 1510 AM! I know, music on AM, but you take what you can get. (They're also at 94.9 in San Luis Obispo now.)

They're available on RealPass and AOL radio - in fact KPIG was (maybe still is) the most popular radio station on the internet. I subscribed for a while but that was ... money ... Bloggers (and think tank fellows who aren't on the Right) aren't about money, so it had to go.

From a story about KPIG,

Ramblin’ Ror is on the air in the next room, coaxing listeners with his seductive, whiskey-soaked voice—not Vegas-lounge crooner cheese, but the relaxed authority of a deep-voiced, twinkling-eyed, story-telling uncle—before he slaps on a rare Dick Dale and Stevie Ray Vaughan collaboration.

. . . “We are a radio station built on small, indie labels,”

. . . As ironic as it is, the funky, run-down station has earned worldwide reputation as one of the most listened-to stations through a different medium—the Internet. In fact, what is even more dumfounding is that KPIG was the first radio station in the United States to stream radio full-time on the Internet. And it all came from a man who went by the name of Wild Bill Goldsmith.

Leading me through a cramped maze of music storage and editing equipment, Ellen brings me to a small closet-like room next to the bathroom where there is a confusing rack of wires, computer parts and indicator lights.

“Wild Bill was this crazy wild man, and a techno wizard,” Ellen explains, pointing to the rack. “Back when he was doing (DJ-ing) the morning shift, he would go back into this hovel of a back room. We really had no clue what was going on back here. When we asked him, he said, ‘I’m going to put KPIG on the Internet.’ And we just laughed and said ‘OK, whatever.’”

Eight years later, KPIG today has regular Internet listeners all over the world—from Australia to Antarctica. According to a Web counter, about 320,000 people tune in to KPIG through the Internet at least once in a given month.

... “We’re not going to compete with anyone,” Ellen says. “We just have to be who we have always been, but better. That seems to have always worked for us.”

. . . The only struggle, then, is trying to describe just what KPIG is. One can look to their playlist to get an idea but, then again, the average music connoisseur can recognize only about half of the artists. As for the big names, there are such regulars as Tom Petty, Neil Young, Los Lobos, Tom Waits and John Hiatt. Then there are lesser-known artists such as Robert Earl Keen, John Prine, Taj Mahal and Susan Tedeschi. Most of the songs played from these artists, however, are not their singles, their big radio favorites. They are just as often the obscure B-side, a rare import or live recording. KPIG is also heralded for its frequent live performances by artists who drop by the station to pay their respects.

This actually is a subject for a "liberal blog." It's about independent vs corporate media. It's about small, independent artists getting a chance to be known without selling out to a large corporate entity. It's about a local public getting what they want rather than a national corporation marketing stuff to them. What does radio sound like in your area?



Click here to take a tour of Santa Cruz. (Best with Cable or DSL) (You'll see the bank that was robbed at the beginning of Clint Eastwood's Sudden Impact.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:17 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 3, 2005

Public Thinks It's Important - Corporate Media Practically Ignores

The Washington Monthly, through Atrios, talks about an Editor and Publisher story about how the new CBS polls shows that the public is taking the PlameGate story very, very seriously. More seriously than Whitewater, Iran/Contra, even Watergate.

  • Plamegate: 86% important 12% not important
  • Clinton-Lewinsky: 62% important, 37% not important
  • Whitewater: 49% important, 45% not important
  • Iran-Contra: 81% important, 19% not important
  • Watergate: 78% important, 22% not important
So ... how would you compare press covereage of this, compared to, say, "The Clinton Scandals?"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:26 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Connecticut

60755fab.jpg

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 6:36 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Rove Lied To McClellan So Fire ... McClellan

The National Review Online says that because White House Press Secretary McClellan might have let it be known he is upset that Rove lied to him, McClellan should be fired. Interesting Republican logic.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:41 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Meanwhile ... Abramoff Scandal

Meanwhile the Abramoff scandal investigation rolls along. Salon has a good piece on it today: Abramoff-Scanlon School of Sleaze,

In plain terms, Scanlon confessed the source code of recent Republican electoral victories: target religious conservatives, distract everyone else, and then railroad through complex initiatives.

"The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees," Scanlon wrote in the memo, which was read into the public record at a hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. "Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them." The brilliance of this strategy was twofold: Not only would most voters not know about an initiative to protect Coushatta gambling revenues, but religious "wackos" could be tricked into supporting gambling at the Coushatta casino even as they thought they were opposing it.

If you know about the Abramoff-Norquist-Reed-DeLay-Rove connections it is revealing that the Christians are referred to as "whackos." It's what so many of us have said all along, the "conservative movement" isn't ideology at all, it's just a big con-man scam. The Republican leadership is simply saying wht they need to say to the Christians to get their votes, making fools of them, and when they get into office they hand over the Treasury to each other.

Other blogs are picking this up now: Atrios, firedoglake, Crooks and Liars, and a Kos diary suggests posting the story on right-wing blogs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:47 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Rove's Security Clearance - The Question Moves To Mainstream Media

Bloggers have been asking for quite some time. Now it moves to the mainstream press: Is Rove a Security Risk? - Newsweek Politics - MSNBC.com,

Section 5.1 of Clinton’s executive order prohibits “any knowing, willful or negligent action that could reasonably be expected to result in an unauthorized disclosure of classified information.” While the law against revealing the identity of a CIA operative requires that the perpetrator intentionally disclosed such classified information (a high standard, which may be one reason Fitzgerald did not indict on those grounds), the executive order covers “negligence,” or unintentional disclosure.

That means the only proper answer to a reporter’s questions about Joseph Wilson’s wife would have been something along the lines of, “You know I cannot discuss who may or may not be in the CIA.” The indictment makes clear that this was not the answer Official A provided when the subject was discussed with reporters Bob Novak and Matt Cooper.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:16 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 2, 2005

"Escaped" -- Into a Tree-Chipper

A top al Queda guy was about to testify in a torture case. But he "escaped." Pentagon official: Top al Qaeda operative escaped

Escaped into a tree-chipper, most likely.

(c/o Digby)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:10 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post

There are several good posts on blogs today about the housing market slowing down.

BOPNews has Housing Slowdown Continues,

Housing is the engine of the current US economy. A conservative reading of the last 4 years of job gains indicates it is responsible for roughly 40% of job creation.

[. . .] In summation,

1.) Sales of existing and new homes are slowing

2.) Inventories available for sale are increasing,

3.) Rental vacancies are high,

4.) The median and average home prices dropped last month,

5.) Consumer’s confidence is lower and their debt level is high, and

6.) The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates.

It appears all the pieces are now in place for a continued slowdown in housing.

Calculated Risk has MBA: Mortgage Activity Continues to Fall,

First we saw rising inventories, now it appears we are seeing more signs of falling activity. Next I would expect to see prices flatten out or even start to decline.
And USA Today: Overheated housing market is cooling off.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Leaking CIA Agent Identity - Funny Joke

After refusing to fire Libby and Rove for endangering national security by leaking the identity of Valerie Wilson, Bush makes jokes about it.


Wonkette - President Bush Does the Macarena,

At a roundtable with Latin American journalists, Bush proved that no matter how bad things get, it's important to keep your sense of humor:
Q Mr. President, in Argentina, you will have a bilateral meeting with President Kirchner. THE PRESIDENT: Si. Q What I want to know -- sources of the government told me that they would ask you about more cooperation on support for Argentina, you know, in the IMF fund -- THE PRESIDENT: IMF. Q Exactly. THE PRESIDENT: Please don't tell me that the government leaks secrets about conversations to the -- Q Well, I have my sources in the government. THE PRESIDENT: You do? Okay, well I'm not going to ask you who they are, of course. (Laughter.) Q No, please. THE PRESIDENT: Inside joke here, for my team.
Er, yeah. Perhaps you should have tried to keep things inside to begin with, eh?

Speaking of things that shouldn't get let out of the bag, we also liked his response to a question about Argentina building a nuclear reactor in Venezuela: [go to source for the rest]

Big funny. I wonder if Valerie Plame's contacts and co-workers are laughing. We don't know how many are in prison -- or dead. We don't know where the WMD she was trying to keep out of the country have landed.

Did the joke bomb?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:45 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

November 1, 2005

Tall




Redwood tree

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:22 PM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Message From Howard Dean

Howard Dean just sent out this message about what happened today in the Senate.

Dear Fellow Democrat,
Late this afternoon my friend Senator Harry Reid forced the Senate into an extraordinary closed session to discuss the manipulation of intelligence on Iraq and subsequent cover-up that led to the indictments last week.

It was the first indictment of a sitting White House official in well over a hundred years. Why? It's not because other administrations haven't gotten into trouble -- they have. The difference is that most administrations have a Congress willing to live up to its Constitutional responsibility. But this Republican-led Congress has blocked an investigation for over a year.

Today Harry Reid said that enough is enough -- and from here on Democrats should use every tool at our disposal to demand answers and accountability.

Do you agree? If you do, you can send a message that you're with Harry Reid and the rest of the Democrats who are tired of business as usual. Make a special donation and send a note of thanks to Harry Reid asking him to keep up the fight:

www.democrats.org/fightback

It's important that Democratic lawmakers know where you stand, but they can't do the job on their own.

Harry Reid is ready to lead a Senate that will hold this administration accountable for its corruption, incompetence and ideology-driven agenda. And on a Tuesday twelve months from now America can elect a new Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate that will investigate the White House cover-up.

But are you ready to lead? If we're really going to build the Democratic Party in every state, every county, and every precinct, it's up to you to take responsibility for getting you and your neighbors organized.

On November 15th, Democrats across the country will gather for national Organizing Kickoff meetings. If you agree to host one in your neighborhood, you'll be able to download all the materials you need to run a successful meeting to jump start Democratic organizing in your community. I'll also be joining all of the meetings -- over 400 have been scheduled so far -- for a nationwide conference call.

For the next twelve months Harry Reid will be taking the lead on the Senate floor -- and for the next twelve months you need to take the lead in your community. Sign up to host a meeting on November 15th that will kick off twelve months of unprecedented, intense organizing in all 50
states:

www.democrats.org/events/create

Whether it's the string of arrests and indictments of corrupt Republican leaders or their pandering to extremist ideologues, America cannot afford to be in this situation. We need fundamental change in Washington to hold this administration accountable and begin doing the work to solve real problems.

It's our responsibility to create that change by electing Democrats.

If we're going to do that, we can't afford to wait around until a few months before the election. We have spent the last several months investing staff, dollars and volunteer hours in an effort to build a permanent party infrastructure in all 50-states -- but starting on November 15th it will be up to you to plug in and get organized.

Enough is enough and we're ready to lead.

Thank you.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:41 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Visit Reid's Website - Donate

If you appreciate what Harry Reid did for the country today, visit his website: Give 'Em Hell Harry. Visit his blog.

If you really want to send a message to Senate Dems that a spine pays off, donate money to his Take Back The Senate Leadership Fund.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

For The Record -- WHY There Weren't WMD In Iraq

A standard Republican talking point about Iraq is that "everyone thought there were WMD" and then they cite statements by President Clinton and others.

Here's what they are leaving out. At the end of 1998, after Iraq expelled* UN weapons inspectors, President Clinton ordered a bombing campaign that completely wiped out Iraq's weapons capabilities. For good.

Clinton statement to the nation, Dec 16, 1998:

“Earlier today, I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.
U.S. Strikes at Iraqi Targets
… Warplanes aboard the USS Enterprise combined with more than 200 cruise missiles from eight Navy warships to converge on Iraqi targets at 5:06 p.m. EST (1:06 a.m. Baghdad time).
U.S. Steps Up Attack on Iraq
The attack by U.S. and British forces against Iraq broadened and intensified yesterday, as salvos of missiles pounded scores of targets throughout the country and the skies over the Iraqi capital filled with the flash of huge explosions, the smoke of distant conflagrations and the brilliant red tracings of antiaircraft fire.
The second wave of strikes by allied cruise missiles – by far the heaviest attack against the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein since the end of the Gulf War in 1991 – came as Washington continued to be roiled by the historic question of President Clinton's possible impeachment. The twin crises, each compelling enough to transfix the nation, overlapped and crescendoed throughout an extraordinary day.
… Officials said the latest strikes included about 100 cruise missiles – about half as many as on Wednesday, but with 2,000-pound warheads that were twice as large as those used the first night. Among the targets of the raid were air fields, chemical plants, missile production and storage facilities, air defense systems and Iraq's surface-to-air missile sites, according to Pentagon officials.
U.S. Halts Attacks on Iraq After Four Days
Not a single U.S. or British casualty has been reported in about 70 hours of intensive airstrikes involving 650 sorties against nearly 100 targets. A total of 415 cruise missiles were launched, Pentagon officials said, including 325 Tomahawks fired by U.S. Navy forces and 90 heavier cruise missiles deployed from Air Force B-52s.
… "Saddam may rebuild, and attempt to rebuild, some of this military infrastructure in the future, just as he has replaced many facilities, including lavish palaces, after Desert Storm," Cohen said, referring to the aftermath of the Gulf War. "But we have diminished his ability to threaten his neighbors with both conventional and nonconventional weapons."
And then, following that attack, "Between 1999 and 2001, the U.S. and British-led air forces in Iraq dropped 1.3 million pounds of bombs in response to purported violations of the no-fly zones and anti-aircraft fire from Saddam Hussein." (Thanks to Raw Story)

And, of course, the Republican reaction to Clinton wiping out Iraq's WMD capabilities? (Keep in mind as you read this all their bluster about the supposed threat of WMD as they ramped up the propaganda leading to the war...) Republicans skeptical of Iraq attack on eve of impeachment vote

"I cannot support this military action in the Persian Gulf at this time," Lott said in a statement. "Both the timing and the policy are subject to question."

"The suspicion some people have about the president's motives in this attack is itself a powerful argument for impeachment," Armey said in a statement.

*Update - there is controversy in the comments over whether Iraq "expelled" the UNSCOM weapons inspectors in 1998. I've researched this. Some say Iraq was right to expell them because they were nothing more than spies for the U.S. Others say the U.S. withdrew the inspectors so they could bomb.

Apparently the record is that in October of 1998 Iraq stopped cooperating with the UN inspectors (UNSCOM) and then began to physically block them from inspections, and the inspectors left Iraq. According to the UN,

31 Oct 1998 Iraq announces that it will cease all forms of interaction with UNSCOM and its Chairman and to halt all UNSCOM’s activities inside Iraq, including monitoring. The Security Council, in a statement to the press, unanimously condemn Iraq’s decision to cease all cooperation with UNSCOM.
...
15 Dec 1998 The Special Commission reports to the Security-General concerning UNSCOM’s activities and the status of Iraq’s cooperation with the Commission in the period since 14 November 1998. The Executive Chairman concludes that Iraq did not provide the full cooperation it had promised on 14 November 1998 (S/1998/1172)

16 Dec 1998 The Special Commission withdraws its staff from Iraq.

According to the Arms Control Association, Iraq Blocks UNSCOM Monitoring; Security Council Calls for Review,
ESCALATING ITS standoff with the UN Security Council, Iraq announced on October 31 that it would no longer allow inspectors from the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) to monitor sites in Iraq for prohibited weapons activities. On August 5, Baghdad suspended inspections by UNSCOM, which oversees chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missile programs, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which handles nuclear issues, into Iraq's past weapons activities. Iraq's announcement specified only UNSCOM's monitoring activities, but will likely affect IAEA's monitoring work as well, since the IAEA depends heavily on UNSCOM for logistical support. ... The Security Council issued a statement on October 31 condemning Iraq's action and demanding that Baghdad "rescind immediately and unconditionally" the bans on both monitoring and inspections.
"Expell" was the wrong word. "Forced out" might have been a better choice. (Iraq had agreed to allow inspectors as a condition of ending the Gulf war.)

Slactivist has some interesting additions.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:39 PM | Comments (29) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Breaking News - Dems Shut Down Senate

The Democrats have shut down the Senate, demanding to know what happened to the promise to investigate how intelligence was used or misused leading up to the Iraq war. Turn on your TV.

They have used a special rule allowing them to call for the Senate to go into secret closed session.

Update - The Dems have said that they will continue to shut down the Senate EVERY SINGLE DAY until the Republicans agree to allow investigation how we got into the war. (Note - Every channel I turn to has Republicans on, explaining how terrible this all is and how it is bad for the country and how the Democrats are under the control of leftists, etc. Not a single Democrat on any cable network.)

Update - DEMS IMMEDIATELY WIN - there will be an investigation! More coming soon.

Senator Reid has issued a statement. (I am adding emphasis at key points) This may be the strongest statement I have read from a national leader.

Statement by Senator Reid
Troops and Security First
This past weekend, we witnessed the indictment of the I. Lewis Libby, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff and a senior Advisor to President Bush. Libby is the first sitting White House staffer to be indicted in 135 years. This indictment raises very serious charges. It asserts this Administration engaged in actions that both harmed our national security and are morally repugnant. The decision to place U.S. soldiers in harm’s way is the most significant responsibility the Constitution invests in the Congress. The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really about: how the Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions. As a result of its improper conduct, a cloud now hangs over this Administration. This cloud is further darkened by the Administration’s mistakes in prisoner abuse scandal, Hurricane Katrina, and the cronyism and corruption in numerous agencies. And, unfortunately, it must be said that a cloud also hangs over this Republican-controlled Congress for its unwillingness to hold this Republican Administration accountable for its misdeeds on all of these issues. Let’s take a look back at how we got here with respect to Iraq Mr. President. The record will show that within hours of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, senior officials in this Administration recognized these attacks could be used as a pretext to invade Iraq. The record will also show that in the months and years after 9/11, the Administration engaged in a pattern of manipulation of the facts and retribution against anyone who got in its way as it made the case for attacking Iraq. There are numerous examples of how the Administration misstated and manipulated the facts as it made the case for war. Administration statements on Saddam’s alleged nuclear weapons capabilities and ties with Al Qaeda represent the best examples of how it consistently and repeatedly manipulated the facts. The American people were warned time and again by the President, the Vice President, and the current Secretary of State about Saddam’s nuclear weapons capabilities. The Vice President said Iraq “has reconstituted its nuclear weapons.” Playing upon the fears of Americans after September 11, these officials and others raised the specter that, left unchecked, Saddam could soon attack America with nuclear weapons. Obviously we know now their nuclear claims were wholly inaccurate. But more troubling is the fact that a lot of intelligence experts were telling the Administration then that its claims about Saddam’s nuclear capabilities were false.

The situation was very similar with respect to Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda. The Vice President told the American people, “We know he’s out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know he has a longstanding relationship with various terrorist groups including the Al Qaeda organization.”

The Administration’s assertions on this score have been totally discredited. But again, the Administration went ahead with these assertions in spite of the fact that the government’s top experts did not agree with these claims.

What has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress to the Administration’s manipulation of intelligence that led to this protracted war in Iraq? Basically nothing. Did the Republican-controlled Congress carry out its constitutional obligations to conduct oversight? No. Did it support our troops and their families by providing them the answers to many important questions? No. Did it even attempt to force this Administration to answer the most basic questions about its behavior? No.

Unfortunately the unwillingness of the Republican-controlled Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities is not limited to just Iraq. We see it with respect to the prisoner abuse scandal. We see it with respect to Katrina. And we see it with respect to the cronyism and corruption that permeates this Administration.

Time and time again, this Republican-controlled Congress has consistently chosen to put its political interests ahead of our national security. They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican Administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why.

There is also another disturbing pattern here, namely about how the Administration responded to those who challenged its assertions. Time and again this Administration has actively sought to attack and undercut those who dared to raise questions about its preferred course.

For example, when General Shinseki indicated several hundred thousand troops would be needed in Iraq, his military career came to an end. When then OMB Director Larry Lindsay suggested the cost of this war would approach $200 billion, his career in the Administration came to an end. When U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix challenged conclusions about Saddam’s WMD capabilities, the Administration pulled out his inspectors. When Nobel Prize winner and IAEA head Mohammed el-Baridei raised questions about the Administration’s claims of Saddam’s nuclear capabilities, the Administration attempted to remove him from his post. When Joe Wilson stated that there was no attempt by Saddam to acquire uranium from Niger, the Administration launched a vicious and coordinated campaign to demean and discredit him, going so far as to expose the fact that his wife worked as a CIA agent.

Given this Administration’s pattern of squashing those who challenge its misstatements, what has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress? Again, absolutely nothing. And with their inactions, they provide political cover for this Administration at the same time they keep the truth from our troops who continue to make large sacrifices in Iraq.

This behavior is unacceptable. The toll in Iraq is as staggering as it is solemn. More than 2,000 Americans have lost their lives. Over 90 Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice this month alone – the fourth deadliest month since the war began. More than 15,000 have been wounded. More than 150,000 remain in harm’s way. Enormous sacrifices have been and continue to be made.

The troops and the American people have a right to expect answers and accountability worthy of that sacrifice. For example, 40 Senate Democrats wrote a substantive and detailed letter to the President asking four basic questions about the Administration’s Iraq policy and received a four sentence answer in response. These Senators and the American people deserve better.

They also deserve a searching and comprehensive investigation about how the Bush Administration brought this country to war. Key questions that need to be answered include:

o How did the Bush Administration assemble its case for war against Iraq?
o Who did Bush Administration officials listen to and who did they ignore?
o How did senior Administration officials manipulate or manufacture intelligence presented to the Congress and the American people?
o What was the role of the White House Iraq Group or WHIG, a group of senior White House officials tasked with marketing the war and taking down its critics?
o How did the Administration coordinate its efforts to attack individuals who dared to challenge the Administration’s assertions?
o Why has the Administration failed to provide Congress with the documents that will shed light on their misconduct and misstatements?


Unfortunately the Senate committee that should be taking the lead in providing these answers is not. Despite the fact that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee publicly committed to examine many of these questions more than 1 and ½ years ago, he has chosen not to keep this commitment. Despite the fact that he restated that commitment earlier this year on national television, he has still done nothing.

At this point, we can only conclude he will continue to put politics ahead of our national security. If he does anything at this point, I suspect he will play political games by producing an analysis that fails to answer any of these important questions. Instead, if history is any guide, this analysis will attempt to disperse and deflect blame away from the Administration.

We demand that the Intelligence Committee and other committees in this body with jurisdiction over these matters carry out a full and complete investigation immediately as called for by Democrats in the committee’s annual intelligence authorization report. Our troops and the American people have sacrificed too much. It is time this Republican-controlled Congress put the interests of the American people ahead of their own political interests.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:09 PM | Comments (38) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Horse's Head in the Bed

"Mr. Hess says he believes Mr. Libby eventually may feel pressure to settle the case without a trial."

Posted by John Emerson at 8:44 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

War For Iran?

The question comes up again. Did Iran manipulate (or pay) Bush and the neocons to start the Iraq war? Iran was the party with the most to gain.

The Niger forgeries story - along with the Rove/Libby/Cheney stories - might be heading that way. See MORE FROM LA REPUBBLICA...,

The gist of the article is that Iran was an active supporter of the war because the Shiite mullahs in Tehran thought that a Shiite-controlled Iraq would make a better neighbor than Saddam Hussein's Sunni-controlled secular dictatorship. That's no big surprise, since Iran and Iraq were not exactly good buddies, but the implication of the Repubblica article is that not only was the Iranian regime cheering from the sidelines, but the U.S. and the Italians were actively seeking their help.

In May, 2004, I wrote about the possibility that Iran duped the Bushies into starting the war,

Jeeze. These stupid, incompetent, ideologically insane, hateful, arrogant, cultish, corrupt, right-wing, ignorant CLUCKS got duped, sold us out, made fools of us, betrayed us, destroyed our honor, besmirched our good name, bankrupted us, sold us up the river, destroyed our reputation, undermined our integrity, and killed thousands.
Yep, sounds like me, doesn't it?

If you want to start digging into this, try Googling "Iran Iran Niger Ledeen and "Iran Iraq Niger Ledeen Frankin", or "Iran Iraq Italy Niger forgeries". And lots at TPM... Good things here and here. And, of course, everything by eRiposte at Left Coaster.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:35 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

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Everything

Everything at BartCop Entertainment

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