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December 31, 2005

Firstfruits?

Has anyone besides Digby commented on this? Scroll down to Michael Froomkin Update:

December 30, 2005 -- More on Firstfruits. The organization partly involved in directing the National Security Agency program to collect intelligence on journalists -- Firstfruits -- is the Foreign Denial and Deception Committee (FDDC), a component of the National Intelligence Council. The last reported chairman of the inter-intelligence agency group was Dr. Larry Gershwin, the CIA's adviser on science and technology matters, a former national intelligence officer for strategic programs, and one of the primary promoters of the Iraqi disinformation con man and alcoholic who was code named "Curveball."

Digby provides a link to Firstfruits. The CIA's agency in charge of domestic spying on American journalists was named Firstfruits. So there's a CIA department on a mission from God to spy on journalists? This is skin crawling, send a shiver down your spine creepy.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 4:23 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Can the Democrats Capitalize on Anything?

The Left Coaster has gathered a series of linked quotes which can be used as a primer of the Abramoff case. Abramoff is an out-and-out crook at the center of the Republican graft-and-vote-buying machine, and he's connected to a lot of people at the highest levels.

The Pew Center has posted a list of the top ten opinion trends of 2005. Of these, seven work directly against Bush, and three are more neutral but don't help him at all (except in the sense that cynicism is always good for the Republicans.)

The Washington Monthly adds three non-trends to the mix, most notably:

The Democrats did not gain much ground in public opinion polls, even as the GOP lost ground.

(More below: Do the Democrats want to lose? Abramoff and Delay betrayed the conservative Christians by putting them to work for professional gamblers, and the Democrats haven't peeped a peep.)

Dave here at STF and many others have explained that the weakness of the Democratic / liberal media infrastructure is probably the main reason for Democratic feebleness. Nonetheless, it often seems that the Party as a whole, and many of its leading members, aren't even trying. We're always hearing from Waxman and Nadler and DeFazio and Lewis and Waters and other non-leaders, but seldom from the big shots.

I've speculated for a long time that the DLC would rather lose with a cautious centrist than win with an aggressive leftist or even an aggressive centrist. The mercenaries get paid and rehired whether they win or lose, and some of them are taking money from both sides. So yeah, I've become paranoid about this.

Let me take a specific aspect of this case. Abramoff took a lot of money from a group of gambling interests and gave it to Ralph Reed, who then gave it to Christian anti-gambling people so that they would stand in the way of competing gambling operations. This is corruption of the most obvious sort, and the Christians who weren't on the take themselves were suckered.

I've seen no sign that the Democrats have made any attempt to capitalize on this. There are theologically-conservative Christians willing to work with the Democrats (for example, the Sojourners group). It would not have been impossible for the Democrats to have had a liaison person with conservative Christians all along, the way the Republicans do with blacks and Jews. If we did have such a person, he could be going around right now explaining to the devout and sincere members of the Christian political groups that Bush and Delay are not their friends, and that they have been suckering the Christians all along. We probably couldn't make Democrats out of them, but I think that we could wedge a big chunk of them away from the Republicans.

Christians tend to have an "everyone does it" attitude toward ordinary corruption, but they place a high value on personal integrity and character, and many of them support Bush and Delay because they think of them as good Christian gentlemen, and men worthey of trust. However cynical they may be about political morality as such, they feel strongly about issues of trust and betrayal -- and putting them to work for gamblers counts as betrayal.

I've floated this idea before, and the conventional Democratic wisdom is that there's no use bothering. Sometimes it seems that the Democratic party is predefeated the way the jeans you buy are preshrunk. Do we really need to have elections any more?

Posted by John Emerson at 6:40 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 30, 2005

Russian Money to So-Called "Conservatives?"

When I put up this post asking if maybe the "conservative movement" Republicans were really dupes of the Russians or the Chinese, I sure didn't expect to get my answer a few hours later.

From The DeLay-Abramoff Money Trail,

Two former associates of Edwin A. Buckham, the congressman's former chief of staff and the organizer of the U.S. Family Network, said Buckham told them the funds came from Russian oil and gas executives. Abramoff had been working closely with two such Russian energy executives on their Washington agenda, and the lobbyist and Buckham had helped organize a 1997 Moscow visit by DeLay (R-Tex.).
Russians pumping millions into an organization called the "U.S. Family Network." Uh huh.

It seems that everyone in the world understood that the Republican leadership was on the take. Do ya think maybe foreign intelligence services might have also known? Do ya think that maybe some of the really, really strange things these right-wing clucks have been doing to the country might maybe have been the result of a few (or more) million dollars changing hands? I suspect this is only the very first on foreign influence of the so-called "conservative movement."

Oh yes, go read the rest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:19 PM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Post Of The Day

I would like to refer everyone to Right Wing Target Marketing | CorrenteWire.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:35 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Clipper Chip Again

Well I always like to rile up Seeing the Forest's readers, and few subjects do that better than bringing up the whole "Clipper Chip" controversey from the Clinton years. But now, with the revelations about Bush initiating NSA spying on Americans without warrants, I feel there could be no better time than now to get everyone commenting.

You see, except in very, very rare cases our e-mail and phone calls are not encrypted, which lets anyone with the right equipment listen in. Because of this problem the Clinton Administration proposed a standardized encryption chip that would go into all computers and phones. The result of using this chip would be that every call and e-mail would be encrypted automatically so no one could eavesdrop. "Conservative movement' Republicans blocked Clinton's efforts, and now here we are with "conservative movement' Republicans listening to our phone calls and reading our e-mails. DUH!

Three years ago I wrote a post saying,

The Republicans intentionally spread the ridiculous lie that this was an attempt to listen in on our communications. Because of the cynical, suspicious anti-government environment that Republican messaging had created this lie caught on.

The basis for the Republicans' smear was that the Administration had a plan to allow law enforcement officials to break the code if they obtained a warrant. (Nothing would stop people from using their own encryption if they wanted to.) Ironically, this was specifically so they could listen in on potential terrorists. This is what the Republicans claimed was Clinton planning to listen in! Now remember, without the chip the government theoretically could listen in on any communications, because no one was using encryption. Clinton's plan to keep people from being able to listen in was described as a plan to listen in, and people bought it.

And because they were able to block this chip, no one is encrypting now.

So here we are.

How well did the "conservative movement' push everyone's buttons back then, using anti-government inclinations to make people think Clinton was trying to bug their phones? Two birds with one stone - smear Clinton and leave us all vulnerable to wiretapping.

And, coming off of my last tin-foil-hat post, who benefitted most from America's communications being wide open? Who paid for all those articles and op-eds about how Clinton was trying to spy on us? And who the hell funds the Moonies and their Washington Times and their hundreds of front-organizations masquerading as "conservatives?"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:57 AM | Comments (12) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

How Nuts Am I?

Every now and then I come back to the idea that the "conservative movement" may have been manipulated by non-American interests. From What If It's More Than Corruption?,

To what extent is it possible that today's Republican Party scandals are not just about traditional corruption, but instead are the result of manipulation by foreign interests, masquerading as corruption and ideological cultism? China, Iran, ??? The neo-cons are persuaded by ideology and cooked-up intelligence to go to war in Iraq. Iran ends up with Shia Iraq as a client state, with its oil resources at its disposal, for sale to China. America weakened, its industries no longer competitive, it's infrastructure crumbling. Who benefits?

Think about the harm the neo-con "conservative movement" ideology has done to our country. We're left with massive debt, fractured institutions, a dangerously divided public, destruction of public infrastructure, outsourcing of our manufacturing and technological base, weakened public education system, -- the list just goes on and on. Was this just blind cultist ideology? Who benefits?

So how is the neo-con dream playing out? Russia and China benefit from having the U.S. bogged down in perpetual war against an invisible "enemy" many thousands of miles away. But "Radical Islam" just happens to be their enemy, not ours. It is a disruptive social movement on or inside their borders, not ours, but here we are fighting their war for them. Meanwhile China winds up with the manufacturing that used to be done here and holding the paper for massive U.S. debt. We spend our budget on military while their money is freed up for massive infrastructure investment. Iran winds up with Iraq as a client state.

But where does the U.S. benefit, except in the minds of the ideological cultists?

Here is what got me thinking about this again today: From the intro to an interview with John Le Carre, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,

...he briefly explains an episode of Britain's history wherein they instigated proxy warfare from behind the scenes pitting Muslim against Hindu. Has Russia done the same from behind the scenes by pitting "radical Islam" against the US?
And from the interview:
"In Britain, because of Empire, because of the imperial history, because of the necessity of keeping trade routes open over vast distance, we learned to divide princelings against each other. To inspire Muslims to fight Hindu. We were wicked in terms of colonial manipulation, because we had to proxy wars. And, we did this through the collecting and the distribution of a really fine quantity of intelligence.
How hard would it be to figure out that the "conservative movement" was for sale, and take advantage? What controls, accountability, oversight, checks-and-balances are in place to make sure things like this don't happen? Oh, wait, those are the things the "conservative movement" got rid of first.

Update - Follow-up post: Russian Money to So-Called "Conservatives"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:52 AM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

New Rule!

How Republicans win elections:

Republicans criticize Democrats and Liberals.

How Democrats lose elections:

Democrats criticize Democrats and Liberals.

New Rule!

Democrats criticize Republicans and Conservatives.

Observe the almost poetic symmetry of my new rule. It may seem counter intuitive, perhaps even illogical to DLC Democrats and moderates at first, but if you just go with the flow, after a short while it will begin to make perfect sense.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 10:02 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Top Ten Myths About Iraq

From Juan Cole, Top Ten Myths about Iraq in 2005:

1. The guerrilla war is being waged only in four provinces.
2. Iraqi Sunnis voting in the December 15 election is a sign that they are being drawn into the political process and might give up the armed insurgency.
3. The guerrillas are winning the war against US forces.
4. Iraqis are grateful for the US presence and want US forces there to help them build their country.
5. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, born in Iran in 1930, is close to the Iranian regime in Tehran.
6. There is a silent majority of middle class, secular-minded Iraqis who reject religious fundamentalism.
7. The new Iraqi constitution is a victory for Western, liberal values in the Middle East.
8. Iraq is already in a civil war, so it does not matter if the US simply withdraws precipitately, since the situation is as bad as it can get.
9. The US can buy off the Iraqis now supporting guerrilla action against US troops.
10. The Bush administration wanted free elections in Iraq.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 12:58 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 29, 2005

British Bloggers Publish British Torture Memos

Markos details the smackdown by British bloggers of an effort by Blair and the British government to prevent publication of British memos that document UK complicity in obtaining intelligence extracted by foreign torturers.

Markos has also re-published the British Torture Memos.

.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 1:54 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Great Smackdown

I read this yesterday and it's still on my mind today, so I'm bringing it to your attention. Steve Gilliard's It's about character, Jeff is one of the better smackdowns in blogdom.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:42 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

No President above the Law

Help the ACLU get the word out.

Posted by John Emerson at 6:17 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 28, 2005

Bush Allows Human Trafficking

The administration of zero moral values has reached a whole new low. Obsidian Wings has the story:

A proposal prohibiting defense contractor involvement in human trafficking for forced prostitution and labor was drafted by the Pentagon last summer, but five defense lobbying groups oppose key provisions and a final policy still appears to be months away, according to those involved and Defense Department records."

What sorts of "human trafficking" are at issue? Just buying women as sex slaves and little things like that.

"Bush declared zero tolerance for involvement in human trafficking by federal employees and contractors in a National Security Presidential Directive he signed in December 2002 after media reports detailing the alleged involvement of DynCorp employees in buying women and girls as sex slaves in Bosnia during the U.S. military's deployment there in the late 1990s.

Ultimately, the company fired eight employees for their alleged involvement in sex trafficking and illegal arms deals. (...)

This fall, the Chicago Tribune detailed how Middle Eastern firms working under American subcontracts in Iraq, and a chain of human brokers beneath them, engaged in the kind of abuses condemned elsewhere by the U.S. government as human trafficking. KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary, relies on more than 200 subcontractors to carry out a multibillion-dollar U.S. Army contract for privatization of military support operations in the war zone.

The Chicago Tribune retraced the journey of 12 Nepali men recruited from poor villages in one of the most remote and impoverished corners of the world and documented a trail of deceit, fraud and negligence stretching into Iraq. The men were kidnapped from an unprotected caravan and executed en route to jobs at an American military base in 2004."

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 4:22 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

How The Media Kills Democracy

Hat tip to Matt Stoller at MyDD for his Around The Blogs post. Of special interest to STF readers a brilliant analysis by Steve Clemons of an L.A. Times editorial,


The Media's "Political Correctness" Problem in Covering War and Conflict
.

On a related note, Bob Geiger at the Yellow Dog Blog explains how DLC Democrats destroy democracy and why he took down and ad for BillandHillary:

I live in New York and have had a sidebar banner promoting the reelection of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on my blog since sometime last summer. I removed it yesterday.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 6:56 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 27, 2005

Red Sky At Morning

This is linked at Eschaton:

The television commercials are attention-grabbing: Newly found Iraqi documents show that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, including anthrax and mustard gas, and had "extensive ties" to al Qaeda. The discoveries are being covered up by those "willing to undermine support for the war on terrorism to selfishly advance their shameless political ambitions."

The hard-hitting spots are part of a recent public-relations barrage aimed at reversing a decline in public support for President Bush's handling of Iraq. But these advertisements aren't paid for by the Republican National Committee or other established White House allies. Instead, they are sponsored by Move America Forward, a media-savvy outside advocacy group that has become one of the loudest -- and most controversial -- voices in the Iraq debate.

My hunch is that this is just a tiny first hint of what's coming, and by summer we aren't even going to recognize this country -- as much as we even recognize it today. Bush might still be at 40% next year, but they'll have everyone else down to 10% -- that's how they do it. Set us against each other and tear us into little pieces. I suspect we'll be about as effective against what's coming as we were against the Swift Boat smears.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:44 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Serenity, Serenity, Serenity and Serenity

I have to modify my responses to the List Of Fours meme. If you've ever been concerned about STF readers, check out these responses, and all of your darkest fears will be confirmed.

I rented Serenity from blockbusters last night. My movie choices are Serenity, Serenity, Serenity and Serenity. (This site takes a while to load, but has over 20 minutes of deleted scene, out takes and downloads that are worth the wait)

For all of our STF totally maxed out intellectual geeks (yes Richard, I'm talking about you) check out Paul Rosenberg's diary at MyDD, 'Serenity' And The Supreme Court. You can't really appreciate Paul's diary until you see the movie. At least I couldn't, but then I only understand about 40% of Rosenberg's diaries like We're Too Smart and his series on What Is Liberalism? anyway. I just pretend they make sense to humor him.

What was that they were talking about at Crooked Timber the other day? Wonkery vs. Wankery. Anyone who thinks there is a shortage of wonkery in the lefty blogosphere just hasn't been paying attention.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 3:25 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

RW Attacks On United Churches of Christ

GOTV: United Church of Christ under attack. Go read about it at GOTV.

Update - Some background on the Right's efforts to split mainstream denominations here. And another here talking about an attack on the UCC by David Horowitz, citing the UCCTruths site - but my own snooping around tells me that Horowitz might be connected to them.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:55 PM | Comments (13) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush greatly alarming conservative civil libertarians

Check out this article Victims of the darkness: Government surveillance and intimidation on Pravda.Ru (of all places) by John W. Whitehead, founder and president of The Rutherford Institute (the folks who brought you the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit, and generally categorizeable as "conservative" in orientation). Here's the lead:

Not since the notorious McCarthy era of the 1950s, when American freedoms faced extinction, has there been such an attack against the Bill of Rights.

Pretty hardcore, heh?

Whitehead also says, "... the American government has a near paranoia about dissenting citizens." He even goes so far as to compare the tactics of "fear and intimidation" used by the Bush administration to those of the "Nazi and Soviet secret police of former regimes". The fact that the Bush administration's disregard for basic civil liberties has so alarmed folks on his side of the political spectrum illustrates how exceptional his policies are. The big question, of course, is how this is going to manifest itself in terms of political action within the right, and within the Republican Party... at what point is the level of alarm and dissent going to rise so high as to precipitate real change?

I'm afraid the answer is, "far too late". The Republican Party and the right are reaping the whirlwind of thirty years of extremist propaganda, which has acquired a momentum of its own - a tsunami of rhetoric whose operators broke no dissent from the party line, and whose tactics, in many ways, can be seen as functionally analogous to those used by the Nazi and Soviet secret police referred to above. I have to wonder what type of heat Whitehead is taking from Administration loyalists as a result of this article... it might be interesting to see whether or not the Rutherford Institute's funding is affected over the next few years.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:10 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Meme of Four

Four jobs you’ve had in your life: Video game designer, think tank Fellow, company president, VP Marketing
Four movies you could watch over and over: Repo Man, Apocalypse Now, Babe, 2001
Four places you’ve lived: Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Santa Cruz, Redwood City
Four TV shows you love to watch: Carnivale, Rome, Law and Order, South Park
Four places you’ve been on vacation: Cabo, Banff, Iowa, London
Four websites you visit daily: DailyKos, BopNews, TPM, STF
Four of your favorite foods: Indian, Thai, Japanese, Santa Cruzan
Four places you’d rather be: Santa Cruz, England, Paris, Iowa

I pass it on to Bob Geiger, Mary, eRiposte, Bob Brigham

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:37 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Top Ten Myths About Iraq

Juan Cole's Top Ten Myths About Iraq is another must-read.

Cole knocks down a lot of Bush administration talking points, but his points #3, #5, and #8 knock down positions that some Democrats have taken.

Posted by John Emerson at 8:08 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 25, 2005

Bush's Spying Scandal: the Spin

Digby got there before me, so I can make this short.

Monitoring mosques and Muslim areas for radioactivity, whether illegally or not, is a kind of spying which most Americans will approve of. Besides everything else, radiation monitoring is less intrusive than clandestine burglaries, electronic eavesdropping, or monitoring phone conversions.

Digby believes that the "leak" of information about this particular activity was engineered by Karl Rove, and I think he's right. Of all the forms of illegal surveillance that there are, this is the least offensive, and the Rove team wants to make it the public face of the illegal NSA program .

Reasonable conservatives know that the real issues are quite different, but reasonable conservatives are not a significant voting bloc. The Bush-Rove team plans to win the battle for public opinion on this issue, and the Democratic Party's historical failure or refusal to capitalize on Republican outrages tells us that it is entirely possible that once the dust has settled, Bush will not have been hurt at all.

UPDATE:

Media Matters has posted a 5,000-word piece on the Republican spin machine's work on this issue: Top 12 media myths and falsehoods on the Bush administration's spying scandal. This piece is a MUST READ.

It's amazing how much disinformation they've succeeded in disseminating in a few days. These people are not going to give up, no matter what. Long ago Bush went beyond what any "honest conservative" could possibly support, but we're not fighting against honest conservatives. We're fighting against fanatics and paid operatives.

Players so far (listed at MM) include the LA Times, Brit Hume, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Bay Buchanan, Matt Drudge, Kelly O'Donnell of NBC, Chris Matthews, Katie Couric, Brian Todd of CNN, Byron York and Rich Lowry of the National Review, Charles Krauthammer, Victoria Toensing on CNN, Newsmax, G. Gordon Liddy, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, and William Kristol. Some of these people may be honestly mistaken, or hapless dupes, but the great majority of them are ideologues and operatives.

Posted by John Emerson at 2:00 PM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Happy Chanukah

"Okay...
This is a song that uhh..
There's a lot of Christmas songs out there and uhh..
not too many Chanukah songs.
So uhh..
I wrote a song for all those nice little Jewish kids who don't
get to
hear any Chanukah songs.
Here we go..."

Put on your yarmulke
Here comes Chanukah
So much funukah
To celebrate Chanukah
Chanukah is the festival of lights
Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights

When you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree
Here's a list of people who are Jewish just like you and me
David Lee Roth lights the menorah
So do James Caan, Kirk Douglas, and the late Dinah Shore-ah

Guess who eats together at the Carnegie Deli
Bowser from Sha Na Na and Arthur Fonzerelli
Paul Newman's half Jewish, Goldie Hawn's half too
Put them together, what a fine lookin' Jew

You don't need "Deck The Halls" or "Jingle Bell Rock"
'Cause you can spin a dreidel with Captain Kirk and Mr.Spock-
both
Jewish

Put on your yarmulke
It's time for Chanukah
The owner of the Seattle Supersonicahs
Celebrates Chanukah

O.J. Simpson, not a Jew
But guess who is? Hall of famer Rod Carew- he converted
We got Ann Landers and her sister Dear Abby
Harrison Ford's a quarter Jewish- not too shabby

Some people think that Ebenezer
Scrooge is
Well he's not, but guess who is
All three Stooges
So many Jews are in showbiz
Tom Cruise isn't, but I heard his agent is

Tell your friend Veronica
It's time to celebrate Chanukah
I hope I get a harmonicah
Oh this lovely, lovely Chanukah
So drink your gin and tonicah
And smoke your marijuanikah
If you really, really wannakah
Have a happy, happy, happy,
happy Chanukah

Happy Chanukah

Other songs in Unknown album:

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 11:10 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Why I'm A Guest Blogger

Four of your favorite foods:

Pot Roast
Orange Chicken
Chalupas
Wendy’s Classic Double with Chili or Baked Potato and Chives

Four movies you could watch over and over:

Fight Club
Matrix
Alien
A Boy and His Dog
, aka Psycho Boy and His Killer Dog

Four jobs you've had in your life:

Welder - Water Towers, Ornamental Iron Workers and Boilermakers Union
Hot Asphalt
Sales – Ads on vinyl phone book covers, Copiers, Water Softeners, Solar Heating systems.
Mortgage Lending – Best doc drawer in Southern California.

Four places you've lived:

Des Moines, IA
Rhodes, IA
L.A.
San Diego.


Four TV shows you love to watch:

West Wing
NCIS
CSI (all of them)
The Daily Show.

Next Season In Justice

Four websites you visit daily:

MyDD
Hullabaloo
The Left Coaster
The Political Animal.

Four places you'd rather be:

New Zealand
Jamaica
Hawaii
Australia.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:56 AM | Comments (27) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Dave's Not Here

Four jobs you've had in your life: pear picker, ESL teacher, phlebotomist, lab assistant.

Four movies you could watch over and over: Fargo, Repo Man.....

Four places you've lived: Osakis MN, Portland OR, Taipei, Seattle.

Four TV shows you love to watch: Really and truly, not a single one. As my son explains, that's why I don't understand the American people.

Four places you've been on vacation: Rowan -- Iowa, Taroko Gorge -- Taiwan, Winnipeg, Pacific Crest Trail.

Four websites you visit daily: Unfogged, Language Hat, Bartcop, Pharyngula.

Four of your favorite foods: black bean soup with smoked pork, sausage and sauerkraut, tangy toasted cheese sandwiches with linguica slices, chicken cabbage soup.

Four places you'd rather be: Oregon, Paris, Berlin, Taiwan.

(Sent by Matt Stoller to Dave Johnson. I'm not Dave. Dave's not here.)

Posted by John Emerson at 4:31 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 24, 2005

Showdown At The Tarrytown Music Hall

Bob Geiger covers what amounts to yet another exercise in public self immolation by Christopher Hitchens. A Night With Scott Ritter – And Some Other Guy. If the M$M ever decides to let the American people in on the truth about Bush's Iraq war, all they have to do is give Scott Ritter a forum:

This is a war that's not worth the life of one American because it's a war based on a lie. And no amount of revisionism will make those lies true," he said. "And if you support this ridiculous notion that the ends justifies the means, then come up here, throw your passport on the stage and get the hell out of my country because that's un-American.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 7:19 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

How The Liberal Media Myth Is Created

eriposte noticed my post about The Myth of the Liberal Media Goes Scientific. eriposte points out an entire series about the liberal media myth that included a smackdown of the UCLA study:

I just want to mention that I already published an even more detailed analysis and debunking of the paper early this year. Key excerpts were also published here at The Left Coaster as part of my series on How The Liberal Media Myth Is Created.

I'll be perusing the entire series this weekend and encourage STF readers to do the same.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 6:39 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Holiday Reading

Obviously I'm not posting much right now. If you are sitting around bored and need your Forest Fix, I suggest the "Best Of" down at the bottom of the left column. In particular, this one is as relevant as ever, will scare the BJesus out of you and outrage you at the same time (whch IS why you come here, no?): Worse and Worse - Country in Crisis,

Elected Democrats and moderate Republicans keep letting far-Right conspirators off the hook, and failing to expose the true nature of their activities to the public. Perhaps this is because they honestly did not and do not recognize them for what they are. Some of Nixon's cronies went to jail -- none of Reagan/Bush I's. Worse, the Carter and Clinton administrations did not ask for a full accounting of the transgressions -- political and financial -- of the prior administrations. In a way, this signaled to the public to expect such activities as part of "business as usual." By allowing the Right to publicly get away with an "everybody does it" excuse, the legitimacy of our democratic form of government was eroded.

... I think it is hard now to avoid seeing the true nature of the group that has taken over the Republican Party. The record is certainly clear, their intentions are clear, their activities are clear, and it's time to take a stand. After seizing control of the country by the narrowest of margins in 2000 the Republicans have illegally excluded Democrats and the public from almost all aspects of management of the government. They have positioned ideological agents throughout the departments, agencies and the courts. In one of their first acts in power they allowed companies like Enron to "harvest" the people of California and Oregon, and appointed FERC members would not do their job to stop this. Their tax cuts, that went to only a few, have bankrupted the country and spent our Social Security retirement money. They have handed out our country's natural resources, and given the right to pollute our air and water for profit to a few rich cronies. They have launched aggressive war in an imperialistic scheme to bring the Middle East's oil supplies under their control.

... We have to realize that we are dealing with an organized revolutionary conspiracy to seize power, enrich the few, and subject us to an ideological/theocratic/imperialist dictatorship. They often describe THEMSELVES as being modeled on the old Communist Party and their methods for infiltrating and seizing power.

"You cannot cripple an opponent by outwitting him in a political debate," he explains in The Art of Political War. "You can do it only by following Lenin's injunction: 'In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent's argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth.'"
This is an emergency and we must recognize it as such. These people will go to all costs to succeed, including fomenting civil war.
With today's NSA spying in mind, this from written a year-and-a-half-ago:
Let's look at it this way for a minute. Suppose that the intentions of the Bush people are entirely on the up-and-up. But looking at the way they have eroded accountability, oversight, and constitutional protections, suppose some OTHER people, with less-than-honorable intentions, examine these openings and see this as an opportunity to step in and seize power. The mechanisms for this are all in place, including the mechanisms to squash opposition and dissent. The Patriot Act, for example, allows the government to spy on anyone the President designates as an "enemy." And new technologies enable comprehensive tracking of a person's every action. We already have a precedent of Congress looking the other way and avoiding their oversight responsibilities no matter how extreme the transgression. We already have the precedent of the Justice Department covering up instead of investigating crimes. We already have the precedent of the Courts overruling law in favor of ideology.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Newspapers Carry Cartoon Insulting Jews

This Mallard Fillmore comic is about boycotting stores that refuse to insult Jews. What is it doing in newspapers?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:16 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Happy Holidogs!

Silent Night Howly Night
(Starring Buddy and Espresso)

The back reads:
Published by DoggiePaw Inc.
Subsidiary of BarkMore
Offices in Dog Bed, New Howlton
Copyright: Sudeep Johnson 2005

Previously blogged Sudeep cards from The Johnsons:
2004, Bark the Herald Angels Sing,
2003, Happy Holidogs,
2002, Dog so loved the world that he gave us his only pup ...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:35 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 23, 2005

The Myth of the Liberal Media Goes 'Scientific'

Paul Rosenberg has written a diary that he cross-posted to MyDD from My Left Wing, 'Liberal Media' Myth Goes 'Scientific'. In a nutshell, Rosenberg deconstructs a study released by UCLA that could just as easily been written by a right wing think tank.

The "surprising" conclusion of this "scientific" study is that Fox News is a "centrist" news outlet and Matt Drudge "leans left." Needless to say, the methodology of the study left a lot to be desired. As Rosenberg points out:

[The authors] reflect a common attitude of beginning with an ideological outlook, and then looking for data to support it.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:58 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Back To The Nixon Era - Paranoia Strikes Deep

Police Infiltrate Protests, Videotapes Show. Government agents infiltrating organizations, disrupting events, and starting riots.

The officers hoist protest signs. They hold flowers with mourners. They ride in bicycle events. At the vigil for the cyclist, an officer in biking gear wore a button that said, "I am a shameless agitator." She also carried a camera and videotaped the roughly 15 people present.

Beyond collecting information, some of the undercover officers or their associates are seen on the tape having influence on events. At a demonstration last year during the Republican National Convention, the sham arrest of a man secretly working with the police led to a bruising confrontation between officers in riot gear and bystanders.

This is the NYC police. In California it was the National Guard. It's phone calls and e-mails being monitored. It's students questioned by federal agents for asking for a book at a library. It's citizens searched and questioned for attending a religious conference.

I lived through this shit once. Paranoia is the next step, when you wonder if the person next to you at a meeting is a government agent. You hear a click and wonder if your phone is being tapped -- you nervously "joke" and say stuff about "You in the FBI, take notes." Often enough it was true.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:22 AM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Heretik

The Heretik has a new site.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:23 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 22, 2005

Negotiating When The Other Party Won't

Today I was referred to a piece from Paperwight's Fair Shot written June, 2004. Take a read: The "Getting to Yes" Problem,

When I was in law school, and early in my career, there was a lot of talk about the "Getting to Yes" style of negotiation, where you negotiate to a bigger pie for everyone (good) instead of zero sum positional bargaining (bad). Unfortunately, this is only true if both sides are willing to play along. If one side just wants to win, and doesn't care about establishing a relationship or creating a structure that will actually work, for the other side "Getting to Yes" really means "Rationalizing your Concession". Whichever is most willing to walk away will always win a negotiation. Ask anyone who's ever done business with WalMart.

In the political context, it's clear that the Republican Party leadership is willing to walk away. They have no interest in compromise, even within their own party. They have no interest in governing wisely. All they want is what they want, whatever it takes to get that. If they don't get it, they won't play until they can. And once they established that, it was very easy to cram concession after concession down the throat of the Democrats, pulling the midpoint further and further toward themselves. The Democrats just tried to pretend to themselves that there had been some sort of reasonable negotiation and compromise.

Now it's gotten to the point where the Republican Party leadership doesn't even pretend to compromise or try to get a concession. They rule. And apparently, from what we've seen of their internal thought processes, their vision is that they should rule absolutely.

Like Yglesias, I would prefer to discuss, and hammer out, and reach workable solutions. Like Klein, I'd prefer to do so in a friendly way, over a beer (and can, with the principled conservatives that I know).

But like Stoller, I know that you can't really have a beer or a friendly discussion with someone who wants you cowed and beaten, if not just completely eliminated. Not in business, not in politics.

You have to go read the original, and follow its links. But a week on the internet is a very long time. A year and a half can be an eternity in blogging. This was just one "foundation" piece that helped shape people's thinking. A year and a half later it's frustrating because it seems like too many in Congress are still trying to make nice with a political party that seems to have turned into a power-cult. But how many of them were exposed to this thinking at all?

I like to think of the "blogosphere" as a huge open-source "think tank" where ideas are proposed, discussed, amended and improved at a very fast pace. The problem is that those of us inside the process can lose track of how far away that can take us from the thinking and understanding of people who aren't able to stay connected to every discussion. (How many of us know about "turkee?")

So, we're getting a lot done. How do we help the rest of us - the people who aren't as connected - to "get it?"

See also Hulk Smash.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:30 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

War on Christmas?

Read this week's Deep Cover (a comic by Santa Cruz area artist Tim Eagan) at BrattonOnline (disclaimer: a site my company hosts and publishes), for an amusing take on the right's latest cultural jihad: the "liberal war on Christmas". It's just below the printed column.

UPDATE: I've added a direct link to Tim Eagan's site (click his name above). Also, just FYI, his comic is posted weekly... and is usually just plain brilliant. Also, a self-plug for business during the holidays: I'm self-employed, so if you're looking for affordable, high quality web and/or graphic design, check out my company, Godmoma's Forge, LLC. We've been in the business since 1994.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:02 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The New York Transit Strike

Atrios writes about those who complain that the strikers already make "too much."

Since a lot of white collar workers actually don't get paid very well, they resent the hell out of the fact that some uneducated lout gets to buy a nicer house than they do. And, thus, we get the out of touch media coverage of the NYC transit strike.
I have a shorter answer for people who resent that people in unions are better paid and get benefits. JOIN A UNION! DUH! Don't complain that they make good money, DO WHAT THEY DID!

If that hasn't dawned on you yet then maybe you aren't smart enough to make a better living.

Meanwhile David Sirota looks at the strike through the eyes of right-wing economic theory and notices the theories don't seem to apply to working people: Sirotablog: New Yorkers learn a lesson about supply & demand,

You can't simultaneously argue that the workers are absolutely essential to the city's way of life, while also arguing that they should accept pension/benefit cuts. Because if something is that "essential" and valuable to you, then you should expect to pay a premium for it.

Let's put it all in basic supply and demand economics - because that's what it really is. When a commodity is at a premium or "essential" to the market, the market pays a premium for it. That's the ethos almost universally venerated by every pundit and mainstream media operation in America - it's called free market fundamentalism. It's why oil companies make record profits when oil supplies dwindle, or Apple can charge more for Ipods when there is huge demand for them. When that happens, everyone says hey, that's just the "invisible hand" of the market. That's good old American capitalism at work!

But when that "invisible hand" suddenly applies to workers, well, that's portrayed as treasonous.


JOIN A UNION AND DEMAND BETTER WAGES AND BENEFITS! DUH!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:18 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Democrats Are Getting Flanked On Iraq War

Following Dave's link to Paperwight's By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them I ran across what should be a red flag for the Democratic Party.

Hagel 2008: Declare Iraq Victory And Leave: You're getting flanked, chumps.

If the Democrats can be kept on the warmongering side, it allows the Republicans to keep selling the Iraq war as bipartisan, blurring the distinctions between the parties, and allows a Republican (think Chuck Hagel) to flank the Democrats as the declare-victory-and-get-out candidate in 2008.
A lot of people kept trying to tell the Pro-War Dems that they were making a mistake, Howard Dean being the most visible. And, now, most of the country thinks we were right and Hagel is capitalizing on that movement.

But hey, the "centrists" must be right. The DLC / Blue Dog triangulation Dems' need to be almost-Republicans will never bite us in the ass. Nope. Never.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:59 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Someone seems to have been listening

Since July I've been explaining to people that if the Times and the Post are bad, we should blame Sulzberger and Graham. That's not a uniquely profound insight, but I've long been amazed at how much criticism of individual reporters there has been, without top management ever being taken to task.

Someone seems to have been listening. Here's Michael Tomasky at The American Prospect:

The country needs The New York Times. A Times of aggressive journalism, integrity, and especially transparency is essential—seriously—to American democracy. And that’s exactly why the Times no longer needs Bill Keller—and maybe should be reconsidering the filial inheritance of its publisher, too.

So is Donald Graham next?

Posted by John Emerson at 6:51 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 21, 2005

Sideshow

Have you been to The Sideshow lately?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:04 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Koufax Weblog Award Nomination Still Open

In you know of any blogs that you want to nominate for an award, go to Wampum: New Koufax Nominations thread.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:21 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Traitors

Daily Kos: Liberals have destroyed our greatest weapon points out the harm that we have all done to the perpetual War on Terror (tm):

Now The Enemy (tm) knows that we can tap phones!

We have revealed the country's deepest secret to The Enemy (tm).


The Enemy and War on Terror trademarks are the property of Bush For President 2004 and its affiliates Heritage Foundation, The Washington Times, Fox News Corporation and the Excellence In Broadcasting Network.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:24 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Official Religion -- Jews, Watch Your Backs

From your government.

Jews, watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:25 AM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Antinomianism

Paperwight's Fair Shot: By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them

antinomianism?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:16 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 20, 2005

Et Tu, Far-Right Washington Times?

. . . unlimited?

President Bush presents a clear and present danger to the rule of law.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:41 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

BIG Story - FISA Judge Resigns In Protest Of Bush Spying

From Daily Kos, Spy Court Judge Quits In Protest
Jurist Concerned Bush Order Tainted Work of Secret Panel
,

A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.

U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John D. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.

Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work.

... Word of Robertson's resignation came as two Senate Republicans yesterday joined the call for congressional investigations into the National Security Agency's warrantless interception of telephone calls and e-mails to overseas locations by U.S. citizens suspected of links to terrorist groups. They questioned the legality of the operation and the extent to which the White House kept Congress informed.

Things might be starting to happen.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:35 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Soviet Threat

A quick comment. FISA comes from a time when we were in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. By saying that we are fighting a "new kind of war" and that the terrorist threat is so serious that he has to set aside the existing laws, Bush is saying that this is worse than the threat we faced from the Soviet Union. Laws like FISA were put in place to help us keep our liberties while dealing with the threat we faced from the Soviets.

But the Soviet Union was a superpower: a modern, industrial, oil-rich state with a sophisticated national intelligence apparatus, a massive military infrastructure, millions of soldiers and sailors and tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and the missiles, submarines and airplanes with which to deliver them.

Think about what Bush is saying about the threat we face, compared with the threat we faced in the Cold War.

Bush's words are trees that distract us. See the forest. It's just fear, handed to us by leaders who want control. This is nothing even remotely as serious as the threat from the Soviets. Bush pumps it up to terrorize us, and keep the public under Republican domination.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:43 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Which "Enemy" Are They Spying On?

I received a message from a "conservative" blogger with whom I exchange occasional e-mails. He supported Bush in the recent spying revelations. Here is what I wrote:

When President Bush says he is only using this capability to monitor "the enemy" is he talking about the same enemy as so many of your colleagues (even inside the White House itself) talk about when they say that Democrats like me are committing treason, aiding the enemy, undermining the war effort, hoping the terrorists win, hating America etc.? Is THAT the enemy he has the NSA monitoring? Perhaps you can understand why some of us aren't reassured when we hear that "the enemy" is the only target of this. Perhaps we would not be so distrustful if President Bush were to condemn such talk as divisive - at a time when he should be working to bring the country together - rather than send his Vice President to appear on the Limbaugh show or on the same stage as Ann Coulter.

So, seeing as how the Drudge Report has a piece up today mocking Senator Reid for supporting the President after 9/11, we would be much, much happier knowing that there is at least some accountability and oversight in place here - warrants and notification of the Democrats as well as Republicans who lead the House and Senate - besides just asking us to accept the word of the great "uniter, not a divider" President.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but I was listening to Limbaugh this morning. One would think he would be more interested in fighting terrorists than the half of America that I am in.

Please go read this (be patient, it's Blogger so it can be really slow to come up), and then tell me I shouldn't be nervous about what is happening. I wrote it in February, but it sure applies to what is happening today. Here is how it ends,
American democracy was built on a system of checks and balances, and mechanisms of oversight and accountability. But the checks and balances and oversight and accountability are being removed. There is no Congressional oversight of this administration, the Justice Department does not investigate its crimes, the Federalist Society judges block all attempts to enforce the laws and the new media is no longer functional. The military acts as an arm of The Party and The Party is firmly in control of the State. The system of controls and protections that was carefully built over the last two centuries was put in place for reasons, by people who learned the lessons of history. I can not think of a time in history when a society left itself so wide open to tyranny from its leadership without it occurring.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:40 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Questions About Bush Spying

1) Is the White House listening in on Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald's calls and e-mails as he investigates White House crimes?

2) Was the Bush campaign listening in on calls and e-mails from the people in charge of the Kerry campaign?

3) Is the Bush Administration using the NSA to determine whether applicants for jobs, travel, etc. are Bush supporters or not?

4) Did the NSA tip off the Bush Administration that the federal prosecutor in Guam was looking into Jack Abramoff?

5) Did Bush use this new spying capability to monitor "groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief"?

One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
6) When Bush says we are only spying on "the enemy" does he mean that same enemy that Senior White House Advisor and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove means when he says,
liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers
Republicans say they are only monitoring the phone calls and e-mails of "the enemy." But they also say that we - you and I - are "the enemy."

OK, now go read Yellow Dog Blog.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:03 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Even kings couldn't do this

[Got this in my email this morning from a friend. -Thomas]

Even kings couldn't do this

As you know, James II was forced out as king in 1688/9 and replaced with
William III. Once William was in power, Parliament passed the
Declaration of Right, which is usually called the English Bill of
Rights. After some introductory clauses, the very first two paragraphs
state:

That the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal;
That the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal;

In other words, not even kings have that power. Just thought you might
find that useful. You can see the whole Declaration here:
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/england.htm

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:32 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Why YOU Should Advertise On Blogs

This is a slightly rewritten repeat of a post from November, dedicated today to Digby.

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. (I'm using a computer magazine because I have easy access to the rates.)

An ad that runs for a week on every blog in the "Advertise Liberally" BlogAds network is seen 12,726,453 times and costs $9034 to run.

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 - the response - of the ad?

In contrast, 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. (If anyone had actually PLACED any ads at Seeing the Forest right now you could look over on the left or right column right now to see what I mean about visibility.) 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's add that up.

  • Magazine: about a million potential-maybe half-second peeks at your ad for $77,000
  • Blog: TWELVE million in-your-face, several-minutes-long, unburied exposures for $9,000
OK, this is too difficult for me to figure out -- leave a comment that helps me make a decision.

Compare the visibility gained from a blog ad compared to almost any other form of advertising. And then compare the cost.

I'm comparing blog ads to computer magazine ads here, but wait till you get a look at the rates to advertise in other kinds of publications or other advertising channels. Let me point out that every single blog-reader is also a computer-user. But they also drive cars, eat food, listen to music, wear clothes and go to movies. And they do lots of other things, too.

You can advertise on Seeing the Forest for one week for $40. The ad will be seen over 25,000 times. The new Premium Placement spot on the left is $75 for a week

Do you have a product, service or message that you want Seeing the Forest's readers to see more than 25,000 times?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:47 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Censure Bush

AfterDowningStreet.org | CensureBush.org

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:36 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Our Little Stick President

On the front page of the L.A. Times Monday morning, they carried a photo of Bush standing in front of this painting of Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt's most famous phrase is Speak softly and carry a big stick.

George Bush, on the other hand, has been claiming that he just has to amplify his message so the American people understand his position better. Bush's motto is Speak loudly and carry a little stick.

Whatever happend to Osama Bin Whatsisname? You know. The Muslim dude? Blew up a building somewhere? Yeah, that guy.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 12:21 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Follow-Up On Rape Case

Earlier this month in Rape Victim Found Guilty I wrote about a girl that was convicted of filing a false rape charge. Yesterday the judge delayed sentencing.

Judge defends conviction of woman,

A municipal judge on Monday delayed sentencing a woman convicted of filing a false rape report until after her appeal is heard in Washington County Circuit Court.

But Judge Peter Ackerman took the opportunity to defend his conviction of the woman and criticize media attention surrounding the case.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:07 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Mocking Dems For Supporting Bush After 9/11

DRUDGE REPORT has a piece up mocking Senator Harry Reid for his support of Bush after the 9/11 attacks. Supporting the President of the United States after the country is attacked becomes derision by bullies later.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:32 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 19, 2005

What Will Happen

Daou Report: The Dynamic of a Bush Scandal: How the Spying Story Will Unfold (and Fade):

The third button on the Daou Report's navigation bar links to the U.S. Constitution, a Constitution many Americans believe is on life support - if not already dead. The cause of its demise is the corrosive interplay between the Bush administration, a bevy of blind apologists, a politically apathetic public, a well-oiled rightwing message machine, lapdog reporters, and a disorganized opposition. The domestic spying case perfectly illuminates the workings of that system. And the unfolding of this story augurs poorly for those who expect it to yield different results from other administration scandals.

Here's why: the dynamic of a typical Bush scandal follows familiar contours...

1. POTUS circumvents the law - an impeachable offense.

This piece is well worth a read!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:10 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Journalists Were Spying Targets?

John at AmericaBlog asks, Did Bush domestic spy program eavesdrop on American journalists? and makes a pretty convincing case that this is what is going on.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:58 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Why Condoning Torture Is Stupid (and not just immoral)

Excellent op-ed on torture in the Washington Post, from a victim of torture himself: Torture's Long Shadow. The author's central point: from a purely pragmatic point of view, the shortcut methods precipitated by the use of torture destroy the effectiveness of intelligence gathering - not to mention driving out the talented folks in favor of the brutal hacks, and destroying the lives and shriveling the souls of every non-sociopathic individual forced to participate in it.

It makes me violently ill to think that the people running this country, my country, condone "cruel, inhumane or degrading" (CID) treatment of captives. Moving to Sweden when my kids turn 18 becomes more attractive on a daily basis.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Unqualified

Hard to imagine that Bush could find people less qualified to fill their own positions, than he is to fill his, but he's managed to do it. Check out this latest article by Bill Berkowitz on Media Transparency: Bush Administration mining fundamentalist recruits.

Paul Bonicelli, who most recently was the dean of academic affairs at Patrick Henry College, a small fundamentalist Christian college locatedHiring by the Book in rural Virginia, has moved on to oversee USAID's democracy and governance programs.

William Fisher, who has managed economic development programs in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia for the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development says...

Bonicelli "has little experience in the field he has been tapped to supervise," Fisher noted. "The closest he comes to democracy promotion or good governance is having worked as a staffer for the Republican Party in the International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives."

Now, I'm no veteran of Washington D.C. myself, and have only 34 years to my credit on this planet, but it seems to me that more career civil service officials have been provoked to complain about the politicization of the bureaucracy by the Bush Administration, than any other in history.

According to his new boss...

"Bonicelli's office will focus on four primary goals of strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights; promoting more genuine and competitive elections and political processes; increasing development of a politically active civil society; and implementing a more transparent and accountable governance. Progress in all four areas is necessary to achieve sustainable democracy.

Setting aside the question of whether his training and professional education qualify him for such a position, let's take a look at the environment he has just been operating within:

"Students must obey a curfew, wear their hair neatly and dress 'modestly.'If they wish to hold hands with a member of the opposite sex, they must do so while walking: standing while holding hands is not permitted. And students must sign an honor pledge that bans them from drinking alcohol unless under parental supervision." In addition, "The MTV and VH1 pop-culture channels are blocked from campus televisions because their contents are considered inappropriate [and] the students' computers are set up with a program called Covenant Eyes, which monitors the websites they visit."

You gotta wonder whether or not the human rights of queer people, or, hell, anyone whose interest in sex extends beyond procreation, to, say, artistic expression of one sort or another, are going to have much of a priority for this guy.

This is the image we want to present to the world? That of crazed Protestant Christian fundamentalists... the type of folks who ally themselves with crazed Muslim fundamentalists and crazed Catholic fundamentalists to block reforms that promote women's rights, queer people's rights, and access to birth control, reproductive information in general, sex education, and abortion (as Berkowitz mentions in his article)?

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 10:58 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Alien and Sedition Act - How soon we forget

"Moderate" Republican and media darling Peter King was on Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room following Bush's speech. According to King, Bush and every other President has the authority to order domestic spying under the Constitution and by statute. King went on to say that if Bush does not currently have the statutory authority to protect the nation in extraordinary times, then Congress should pass a new statute to give him statutory authorization for domestic spying without a court order.

Perhaps King had in mind something like The Alien and Sedition Act. Then criticizing Bush or his policies really would be treason.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:57 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 18, 2005

It's The Warrants

David Sirota: The Most Important Question of All in Bush's Domestic Spying Scandal | The Huffington Post,

Meanwhile, Bush is portrayed as the tough fighter of terrorism, willing to make the tough choices to defend America's national security. In short, his crimes are portrayed as badges of honor.

There's just one problem: this isn't a question of whether America supports domestic surveillance operations against terrorists or not. This is a question of whether America supports those operations without requiring a warrant.

... The question reporters should be asking is "Why did the President order domestic surveillance operations without obtaining constitutionally-required warrants?" That is behavior that most Americans who believe in the Constitution likely do not support at all.

... If the surveillance operations he ordered were so crucial and so important to protecting our country, how come he didn't get a warrant? Surely something so critical to our security would have easily elicited a warrant from a FISA court already inclined to issue warrants in the first place, right?

And that gets us right back to the most important question: why would the President deliberately circumvent a court that was already wholly inclined to grant him domestic surveillance warrants? The answer is obvious, though as yet largely unstated in the mainstream media: because the President was likely ordering surveillance operations that were so outrageous, so unrelated to the War on Terror, and, to put it in Constitutional terms, so "unreasonable" that even a FISA court would not have granted them. [emphasis added]

The lack of warrants shows that they are using this new surveillance system to do things that they couldn't get a warrant to do.

What other reason COULD there be to not get warrants?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:45 PM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

This Is So Sad

This at SlashDot is just so sad, Polar Bears Drowning As Globe Warms. But what's worse is the attitude of the people leaving comments.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:56 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Serenity

I've been writing lots of scary stuff lately.

So take a look at cute kittens and puppy dogs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:45 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Drunks With Power

A good read - but don't mention it on the phone. Steve at THE NEWS BLOG: Giving drunks power links to Bush's unchecked Executive power v. the Founding principles of the U.S..

If the naked assertion of absolute power by the Bush Administration -- and the use of that power to eavesdrop on American citizens without any judicial review -- does not finally prompt the public regardless of partisan allegiance to take a stand against this undiluted claim to real tyrannical power, then it is impossible to imagine what would ever prompt such a stand.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:28 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Let's Watergate Bush

Hat tip to Fran for Dean at MyDD, Operation Flabergasted. This is a clarion call for a blogswarm to put pressure on our political representatives and the M$M. It was initiated by smintheus, who wrote a series of diaries at Daily Kos on how we can Awaken The MSM.

Bush would like nothing better than to switch the topic from Domestic spying in violation of American law to anything else. We cannot let that happen.

We have to ensure that by Monday, all hell has broken loose in D.C.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:46 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Graham Was Not Told

Bob Graham, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee when Bush ordered the spoying on Americans, says he was NOT told.

Countering the Republican talking point that Bush told the Congress: Pushing the Limits Of Wartime Powers,

Former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who chaired the Senate intelligence committee and is the only participant thus far to describe the meetings extensively and on the record, said in interviews Friday night and yesterday that he remembers "no discussion about expanding [NSA eavesdropping] to include conversations of U.S. citizens or conversations that originated or ended in the United States" -- and no mention of the president's intent to bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:34 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Funny Comic for Enviros

... and go read the RustleMania Blog. Good stuff!

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:39 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

"A visit from St. Dick"

Kevin Horrigan: A visit from St. Dick
By Kevin Horrigan
Published 2:15 am PST Friday, December 16, 2005


'Twas the month before Christmas

And as I lit candles,

Conservatives stirred --

They were onto a scandal.

"They want to kill Christmas!"

Came the cry from the right:

"They want to ax Bethlehem

And O! Holy Night!

"They're after the Christ child

And Joseph and Mary

And shepherds and wise men;

These liberals are scary."

[... continued at URL above...]

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December 17, 2005

If the President does it, it's not illegal

From Digby at Hullabaloo:

Look, the problem here, again, is not one of just spying on Americans, as repulsively totalitarian as that is. It's that the administration adopted John Yoo's theory of presidential infallibility. But, of course, it wasn't really John Yoo's theory at all; it was Dick Cheney's muse, Richard Nixon who said, "when the President does it, that means it's not illegal." . . .

I suspect that there are many more of these instances out there in which the administration has simply ignored the law. They believe that the constitution explicitly authorizes them to do so.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 11:19 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

More Obstruction

AMERICAblog has a story that Bush is giving a top job to the husband of a reporter who testified in the Plame case two weeks ago. (And at firedoglake.)

I guess the testimony went the way Bush wanted. No? How blatant can it get?

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

The Chilling Effect

Yesterday we learned that the government is "eavesdropping" on our conversations and e-mails. Meanwhile, in a post titled One Nation Under Surveillance: 'The Little Red Book' can still get you in trouble, Plutonium Page writes about a student who gets questioned by Federal agents, because he asked at the library to see Mao's "Little Red Book."

I want to write about the chilling effect this will have on people.

I have a "Little Red Book" that I've had since the 60's. I thought hard about writing that here.

The first comment in the DailyKos post is "Boy, we all who post here regularly better watch our back..Here comes the Brother." A couple of comments later, "I'm sure there are people monitoring all of the left of center and peace oriented blogs and web sites." Many, many more comments along these lines. These are the first things that come into people's minds, "This means I am being watched."

A comment yesterday at a Slashdot, a post about the news of government spying on our communications. Someone says something bad about Bush, someone replies, "Pray NSA is not monitoring the network between your machine and slashdot :-)"

I'm watching an episode of Special Victims Unit as I write this. On the screen they just this second said, "Since the Patriot Act, they can do anything."

Has it crossed your mind that you'd better be careful because the government will know what you said?

9/11 changed everything. Watch your backs.

Update - After posting this, I see that a friend Instand Messaged me earlier, with a message that said "I'm watching you, signed NSA."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:50 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Shorter Conservatarian Blogosphere

Atrios:

We are very concerned by the fact that people are
exposing illegal acts by the government to the press.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Spying On All Of Us

Important Update - See end of post

Several bloggers, Atrios, The Washington Note, Back to Iraq, The Agonist, are demanding that the Bush administration release a list of who they are listening to. If my theory on what is happening is right, we already know the list -- it's everyone.

As I wrote yesterday, what Bush probably did was task NSA to intercept domestic as well as the international communications they supposedly already process. What they are said to do is intercept everything, digitize it and run it through computers that look for certain words and phrases. Conversations and emails that are flagged by that process are then checked by people.

If that's what happened it explains why no warrants - you can't get a blanket warrant that covers everyone. And if my theory is correct it would mean that the stuff about only listening in on a certain number of al Queda operatives or suspicious people is just a lie. You'd just get warrants to do that. The way to catch mobile terrorists is to listen to everything and try to figure out which conversations are them. AND that's what NSA supposedly already does internationally. It is flat-out illegal and unconstitutional to do that here.

Where it gets scary is that it requires considerable infrastructure to do this domestically - The means to intercept all phone calls and emails domestically has to be put in place, which means satellites, hooking into all the communication hubs and infrastructure for getting all that data to processing centers -- and buying computers to do the processing. It is expensive and illegal, so it would have to be one of those "9/11 changed everything" moments before it could be done. And there are signs that this is what is going on. Backing up my theory: do you remember reading about phone and internet companies being required to install routing equipment that enables such government intercepts? From EFF:

Congress passed the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) in 1994 to make it easier for law enforcement to wiretap digital telephone networks. CALEA forced telephone companies to redesign their network architectures to make wiretapping easier. It expressly did not regulate data traveling over the Internet.

But now federal law enforcement agencies want to change that. On March 10, 2004, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) filed a joint petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The petition requested that CALEA's reach be expanded to cover communications that travel over the Internet. Thus, Broadband providers would be required to rebuild their networks to make it easier for law enforcement to tap Internet "phone calls" that use Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications such as Vonage, as well as online "conversations" using various kinds of instant messaging (IM) programs like AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).

But once such an infrastructure IS in place there are almost no obstacles beyond trust preventing bad actors from asking the surveillance computers to look at anyone you want to look at, or look for any words and phrases you want to look for. You could learn almost anything about anyone in the country. Combine this with the Total Information Awareness Program and you have almost unlimited access to private information about people. People with no scruples - and no oversight - could use a system like that to gain and hold absolute power. (Remember Tom DeLay getting Homeland Security to look for the Texas legislators?)

So I actually don't think Bush is criminal in this, just stupid and sloppy and should be impeached. I can see how, in the name of "protecting us," someone like Bush would say to go ahead and OK this, explaining that we have to look for terrorists who are operating in the country and planning more attacks. I don't think in this instance he had a criminal intent, just a stupid and sloppy mind. He probably believes he is just protecting people but what he is really doing is opening the door to repression. There are people around him who must just be salivating at what this tool - the ability to listen in an anyone - could mean politically for them.

Update - I think my theory is being confirmed in tomorrow's Washington Post:

Former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who chaired the Senate intelligence committee and is the only participant thus far to describe the meetings extensively and on the record, said in interviews Friday night and yesterday that he remembers "no discussion about expanding [NSA eavesdropping] to include conversations of U.S. citizens or conversations that originated or ended in the United States" -- and no mention of the president's intent to bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

"I came out of the room with the full sense that we were dealing with a change in technology but not policy," Graham said, with new opportunities to intercept overseas calls that passed through U.S. switches.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:19 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Breaking - Another Republican Bribery Scandal

ONE MORE Republican Culture of Corruption bribery scandal, this time involving Senate Majority Leader Frist, and the wife of Senator Kit Bond. AP: Frist AIDS charity paid consultants

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's AIDS charity paid nearly a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of his political inner circle, according to tax returns providing the first financial accounting of the presidential hopeful's nonprofit.

The returns for World of Hope Inc., obtained by The Associated Press, also show the charity raised the lion's share of its $4.4 million from just 18 sources. They gave between $97,950 and $267,735 each to help fund Frist's efforts to fight AIDS.

The tax forms, filed nine months after they were first due, do not identify the 18 major donors by name.

... The donors included several corporations with frequent business before Congress, such as insurer Blue Cross/Blue Shield, manufacturer 3M, drug maker Eli Lilly and the Goldman Sachs investment firm.

World of Hope gave $3 million it raised to charitable AIDS causes, such as Africare and evangelical Christian groups with ties to Republicans - Franklin Graham's Samaritan Purse and the Rev. Luis Cortes' Esperanza USA, for example.

The rest of the money went to overhead. That included $456,125 in consulting fees to two firms run by Frist's longtime political fundraiser, Linus Catignani. One is jointly run by Linda Bond, the wife of Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo.

... Political experts said both the size of charity's big donations and its consulting fees raise questions about whether the tax-exempt group benefited Frist's political ambitions.

"One of the things people who are running for president try to do is keep their fundraising staff and political people close at hand. And one of the ways you can do that is by putting them in some sort of organization you run," said Larry Noble, the government's former chief election lawyer who now runs the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics that studies fundraising.

Kent Cooper, the Federal Election Commission's former public disclosure chief, said the big donors' motives are also suspect.

"These tax deductible gifts were earmarked through Senator Frist," Cooper said. "They were raised in the political arena at the 2004 Republican Convention and the natural question is were they given to the Senate majority leader to gain favor or were they given for true charitable purposes?"

Cooper said the consulting fees were "excessively high" and the fact that they were "paid to primarily political consultants also raises questions about the long-range strategic benefits for the 2008 presidential race." [emphasis added]

So Sen. Bond's wife received a chunk of the $450,000 paid out for "fundraising" even though there were only 18 donors. Right. Repeat: "The donors included several corporations with frequent business before Congress, such as insurer Blue Cross/Blue Shield, manufacturer 3M, drug maker Eli Lilly and the Goldman Sachs investment firm."

(Through Fired Up Missouri)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:36 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

"Put" options before 9/11

Immediately after 9/11 Christian Bertelson wrote a series of pieces in the SF Chronicle on "put" options short-selling airline stocks right before the attacks. Some speculated that the attackers planned to use their stock market winnings to finance their next operation.

The story disappeared, with no resolution one way or another. Bertelson still writes for the Chronicle and has written on Enron and other stories relating to energy policy and water policy.

Dave asked about this story below, and for everyone's convenience I've put the URLs below the fold.


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/09/19/BU184559.DTL


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/09/21/BU33737.DTL


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/09/22/BU27558.DTL


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/09/29/MN186128.DTL


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/10/03/BU187948.DTL


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/10/03/BU224108.DTL


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/10/03/BU224108.DTL


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/10/07/BU197903.DTL

Posted by John Emerson at 7:39 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Truth About Immigration

This is a central truth in the whole sorry debate over immigration, both legal and illegal, that has been overlooked by both sides: The costs are local, but the benefits are national.

Immigration, legal or illegal, while imposing net fiscal costs on this state, produces a net economic benefit for the country.

I know that's the truth because the headline of Michael Hiltzik's recent column is The Truth About Immigration. Headline writers wouldn't lie to us, would they?

Hiltzik based his column on a recent study from the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy, an independent think tank in Palo Alto.

Perhaps their most interesting conclusion, and incendiary for some, is that immigration has not held down wages:

Average wage levels in the state, in contrast with those in the nation, have soared. In 1990, the report says, the average wage was 10.9% above the national average. By 2004 it had moved to 13.4% above the average. Meanwhile, job growth has remained strong — exceeding the national rate from 1994 to 2000 and pacing it since then.

Clearly, California has remained an impressive economic engine throughout the period of heavy illegal immigration. It's worth noting that the period includes two major economic setbacks — the aerospace-driven recession of the early 1990s in Southern California and the 2000 tech bust in the Bay Area — without which California might well have had the rest of the country eating its economic dust. Of course, neither bust can be remotely traceable to immigration.

What about whether illegal immigrants are displacing native-born Americans in the job force? The arriving workers are concentrated in a few low-wage sectors — although they comprise 4.3% of the U.S. workforce, in 2004 they held 19% of jobs in farming, 17% in cleaning and 11% to 12% in food preparation and construction.

But there's no evidence that they've increased native unemployment or significantly suppressed wages in those trades. A 1997 study by the National Academy of Sciences cited by the new report found only a "weak relationship" between the number of immigrants and native wages. A report this year by the president's Council of Economic Advisors placed the effect at less than 1% in wages for every 10% increase in the number of immigrant workers. In any event, California's minimum wage ($6.75 an hour) sets a floor on how much an unskilled worker can be paid.

I would argue that while the generalized conclusion may be accurate, in specific areas and jobs illegal immigration has kept wages down. If illegal immigrants are holding "19% of jobs in farming, 17% in cleaning and 11% to 12% in food preparation and construction", then the wages in those sectors are lower then they would be without hispanic immigrants. How much would hotels have to pay Americans to do janitorial and hotel cleaning if hispanic immigrants were not flooding the market?

This report is a far better starting point for a rational discussion of hispanic immigration than the current disputatious bickering on television and radio talking bonehead shows.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:20 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 16, 2005

Question About 9/11 Options Trading

I remember reading that a very large number of "put" options were traded on American and United Airlines stocks just before the 9/11 attacks. But I don't recall ever hearing who did that or why. Does anyone have any information on this?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:52 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Spying - How It Starts

Here's what I think happened. After 9/11 Bush tasked the NSA with turning its glare on the U.S. What that means is that every single e-mail and phone conversation goes into their computers and is scanned for certain magic words and phrases. Anything that is flagged by the computers gets a closer look.

That is why they're doing it without warrants. You can't get a warrant for every single person in the country, and that is who they are listening to. But they wanted to do it "to protect us" so they just went ahead.

Here's the problem.

To do this you have to set up the means to do it. Billions in equipment to grab the calls and e-mails - satellites and connections into major network router hubs, billions more in computers to scan and analyze all those words... NSA has had that all in place for grabbing everything outside the U.S. but because it is illegal and expensive it wasn't the kind of thing you could get away with setting up here. That much money just wouldn't be available, and word would get out because there would be no reason to be setting up that kind of capability here. Until 9/11.

Here's the other problem: It's in place now. While it is a huge task to set up the technical capability it's not hard at all to tell the computers to scan for ... other words and phrases than the original targets. You're looking for "bomb" but maybe you also want to look for "Democratic Party strategy meeting." You start out looking for terorists but it's not hard to tell it to get everything from ... other people. Like Senators or CEOs or leaders of organzations opposing Republican policies or anyone else The Party wants to get something on.

And the people around Bush are who they are.

Watch your backs. Then, as always, go read Digby.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:49 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

What Is He Talking About?

Someone tell me what he's talking about, please?

The Heretik: SUNSET ON THE BAY OF CONFUSION

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:41 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

More Purchased Right-Wing Columnists

This time it's part of the Abramoff scandal. Op-Eds for Sale,

A senior fellow at the Cato Institute resigned from the libertarian think tank on Dec. 15 after admitting that he had accepted payments from indicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff for writing op-ed articles favorable to the positions of some of Abramoff's clients.

[. . .] Peter Ferrara, a senior policy adviser at the conservative Institute for Policy Innovation, says he, too, took money from Abramoff to write op-ed pieces boosting the lobbyist's clients. "I do that all the time," Ferrara says. "I've done that in the past, and I'll do it in the future."

This brings the Abramoff scandal one step closer to where it is heading - its tie to the funding of the Right's network of organizations that support the Republican Party. Bribes come in to pay for contracts, tax breaks, etc. Some of the taxpayer money that goes out as tax breaks, contracts, etc. is then kicked back into the political process to keep the Republicans in power. Bribes in, taxpayer dollars out, money to buy op-eds, TV ads, etc. Absolute corruption, absolute power.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:52 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Connecting Dots -- It's Back -- Government Political Spying

Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say,

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.
Is the Pentagon spying on Americans? Secret database obtained by NBC News tracks ‘suspicious’ domestic groups,
A year ago, at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Fla., a small group of activists met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. What they didn't know was that their meeting had come to the attention of the U.S. military.

A secret 400-page Defense Department document obtained by NBC News lists the Lake Worth meeting as a “threat” and one of more than 1,500 “suspicious incidents” across the country over a recent 10-month period.

July 2005, Guard unit focus of spying investigation,

The unit has raised concern among peace activists that the Guard is resorting to the same type of civilian monitoring that helped fuel Vietnam War-era protests. During the 1960s and '70s, the military collected information on more than 100,000 Americans. Such monitoring, while not illegal, would be a departure for the Guard.

... Investigators also are looking into the Guard's monitoring of a Mother's Day anti-war demonstration at the state Capitol that was organized by several peace groups. The activities were documented in e-mails originating in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's press office and made public by the newspaper.

Lawmaker: Guard spying investigation being blocked,
Last week, Dunn asked the Guard to preserve any documents related to monitoring of the anti-war rally and the new intelligence unit.

At the same time, computer technicians at the Guard erased the hard drive of a retiring colonel who oversaw the intelligence unit and wrote the e-mail mentioning the ``Intell. folks.''

... After learning that the hard drive had been erased, Dunn demanded immediate access for a computer specialist to recover any data, but was rebuffed by the Guard's top general who said any access would have to be coordinated with Army investigators who launched their own probe Wednesday.

(See also
California National Guard Investigation blocked)

2002, John Poindexter, (see also) convicted during the Iran/Contra scandal for the felony of trying to subvert the Constitution,

Admiral Poindexter is probably better known for destroying information than for gathering it. Before a congressional investigating committee in 1986, he admitted that, as President Reagan's national security adviser, he destroyed evidence in connection with the Iran-contra affair.
is brought into the Bush Administration to set up the Information Awareness Office,
Bush’s aides argue that their unrestricted access to this electronic data may help detect terrorists, but the data could prove even more useful in building dossiers on anti-war activists or blackmailing political opponents. Despite assurances that such abuses won’t happen again, the capability will be a huge temptation for Bush, who has made clear his view that anyone not supporting his war on terror is siding with the terrorists.
State Department Using Ideological Litmus Tests to Screen Speakers,
The State Department has been using political litmus tests to screen private American citizens before they can be sent overseas to represent the United States, weeding out critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, according to department officials and internal e-mails.
OLD GUYS like me REMEMBER what this sort of thing means because we have already lived through it once: COINTELPRO
is an acronym for a series of FBI counterintelligence programs designed to neutralize political dissidents.

... The FBI conducted more than 2000 COINTELPRO operations before the the programs were officially discontinued in April of 1971, after public exposure, in order to "afford additional security to [their] sensitive techniques and operations."

The founding document of COINTELPRO
directed FBI agents to "track, expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities" of these dissident movements and their leaders.
"Neutralize political dissidents." It DOES happen here. I already lived through it once. Cheney, Rumsfeld ... names from the Nixon days... How many MORE signals do you need that "The Party" is organizing to enforce a one-party state?

WATCH YOUR BACKS!!!

Update - I want to emphasize the seriousness of this. I lived through this under Nixon, and this Bush crowd just picks up where Nixon left off. This isn't the potential for abuse - this is abuse occurring. Collecting the data is a real warning sign that they might USE the data they are collecting. The Bush Administration routinely looks up the party affiliation and political views & donations of people before deciding how to deal with them. And now we learn that they have the agencies of the government listening in on phone calls, emails, etc. and keeping databases of people attending anti-war events. If you value your freedom you will be demanding that the Congress ... wait, the Congress is Republican and refuses to do anything about Bush abuses. Well then you'll be demanding that the Justice Department ... wait ... the Justice Department is Republican and refuses to ... You will be demanding that the Courts ... wait, the courts... You will be demanding that the media wake up the public to the danger we face.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:48 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A Must-Read About Moon

This is a must-read Kos Diary about the Moon organization. Daily Kos: Why TV news will NOT cover Sun Myung Moon's influence on our nation. And follow the links - very informative.

Be sure to ckick the "Recommend" button to elevate this post so many people will see it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:09 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Post and the Times want to be bad

When you complain about the Post or the Times, ultimately you're complaining about Donald E. Graham and Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr. Either they are both doing a lazy, careless job, or else they want exactly the newspapers they've got. (Both of them are simultaneously board chairmen and directors of operations).

Except for myself and Arriana Huffington, I have never seen anyone else say this. I presume that this is because Graham and Sulzberger, however unscrupulous and mediocre they might be, still wield enormous institutional power. (Apparently I'm the only one in the liberal blogosphere who's given up on ever being hired by the Times or the Post.)

It all sounds like a version of "If we could only speak to the Czar, he'd make things right again." It's always a low-level employee who's blamed, though with Harris we've started to move up the ladder to some of the faceless people who actually make the big decisions. (Did anyone who Harris was two months ago?)

I think of Graham and Sulzberger as the feeble, corrupt last heirs of once-great dynasties, as in Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher". Eerie flickering lights and dark shadows alternate confusedly within the inner sanctums of the Post and the Times, and God knows what perverse practices are going on within those crumbling mansions.

This is a point I've made before -- this time it's in response to this post by Brad DeLong at TPM Cafe. Earlier pieces of mine on this topic can be found here.

We really need a new, different media. The media we have now are utterly incorrigible.

Posted by John Emerson at 4:46 AM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 15, 2005

Blog Awards

The 2005 Koufax Awards -- Nominations Are Open.

The Koufax Awards are named for Sandy Koufax, one of the greatest left handed pitchers of all time. They are intended to honor the best blogs and bloggers of the left. At the core, the Koufax Awards are meant to be an opportunity to say nice things about your favorite bloggers and to provide a bit of recognition for the folks who provide us with daily information, insight, and entertainment. The awards are supposed to be fun for us and fun for you.

Please try not to take the idea of winning and losing too seriously. We hope to help build and promote a feeling of community among lefty bloggers. The primary rules of the contest are be nice and have fun.

Head on over and nominate you up some blog.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:39 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Jury Tampering - Blatant

Blatant jury tampering from Mr. "No comment on ongoing investigations." Go read firedoglake.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:33 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Strategic Intimidation

A quick comment on why the big foundations won't give money to Progressive organizations that might do some good. Take a look at this article circulating on right-wing websites: Corporate Foundations Bankroll Anti-Alito Coalition,

Wal-Mart, Ford Motor Co., AT&T, and Fannie Mae are among the major U.S. corporations whose foundations fund the liberal groups now waging war against Samuel Alito’s nomination.

The left-wing Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary has launched a series of advertisements aimed at defeating Alito. The group describes itself as “a national coalition of public interest organizations,” and includes NARAL Pro-Choice America, the NAACP, the National Organization of Women, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State among others. The Alliance for Justice, People For the American Way, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights head the Coalition.

Many of these groups are very well-funded, getting most of their money from foundations. Among the foundations bankrolling them are the philanthropic arms of many of America’s largest corporations.

Read the whole thing. This is part of a strategic campaign of intimidation of the Boards of philanthropic foundations, letting them know the Right is watching - that they're in trouble if they fund even centrist organizations.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:56 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Does Bush Support Right-Wing Attacks On Jews?

Last week I wrote about Republicans Dropping the Code-Word "Liberals" and Accusing Jews Directly. It continues today at Townhall.com:

The sad fact is that the ACLU is made up in good part of Jews, and it is that organization and its lawyers who are leading the assault against Christmas.

... Unfortunately, as is so often the case with black Americans, those who are high- profile and get most of the media attention are the radicals and the rabble-rousers. When my critics accused me of promoting anti-Semitism, I pleaded not guilty. I asked them if they thought that gentiles were so stupid that, until I wrote my piece, they didn’t recognize that there is a secular jihad underway in this country to remove Christ from Christmas.

Do we get condemnation of this stuff from the "uniter not divider" Bush Administration? Does he show that he is President of the United States, not just of the Republican Party?

Condemnation? No, after last week's attack on Jews Bush's response is to send his Secretary of State to honor the Heritage Foundation:

Taking questions after a speech on Iraq to the Heritage Foundation, Rice again took Iran to task on a range of issues...
A speech in which she said:
The organization, the Heritage Foundation, is a true bedrock of our democratic principles, our freedom, our way of life and a vehicle by which free men and women can debate their future. Thank you very much for the great work of this organization.
TownHall, where this attack on Jews is published, is a product of the Heritage Foundation. From their website
In 1993, The Heritage Foundation, one of the most prestigious conservative think tanks joined forces with National Review to open the Town Hall forum on the CompuServe service. The CompuServe forum was the hub for conservative thought online for several years but was shut down when the World Wide Web became the dominant online medium.

Townhall.com was launched in 1995 on the World Wide Web as the first conservative web community. At that time, only a handful of political sites existed and Townhall.com was the first major investment in online activism made by either side.

In 2005, Townhall.com split off from the research focused Heritage Foundation in order to expand the scope of Townhall.com's mission to inform, empower, and mobilize citizens for political change.

Bush sends his Secretary of State to honor them. NO WONDER TownHall felt free to continue the attack today!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:48 AM | Comments (13) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 14, 2005

Who Is J.D. Crouch

I was watching CSPAN and saw someone I had never heard of talking about Bush's plan for "victory" in Iraq and how Iraq is a central part of Bush's mythical WOT.

Who is J.D. Crouch?

I found an October, 2003 article from Antiwar.com, Pentagon Hawk Released – Straws in the Wind? which discusses Crouch's dismissal following the WMD fiasco:

"He's not being fired, but they're starting to move people around," said one knowledgeable source. "It's all about (Bush's) reelection and how to get rid of the loonies without looking like they screwed up."

As assistant secretary, Crouch reported to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, whose office has been responsible for postwar strategy in Iraq.

Slate discussed some of the beliefs Crouch expressed during his brief sabatical from helping Bush deceive America into an immoral war, Don't Be Fooled:

It was during those years of exile that Crouch expressed his views most clearly. He criticized President George H.W. Bush's decision to withdraw tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea, calling it "a major geopolitical mistake." He advocated setting "a firm deadline for the destruction of North Korea's nuclear complex." He called for the end of the Anti-Ballistic-Missile Treaty and the swift development of missile defenses (a development that he oversaw in his recent Pentagon tenure). Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1995, he fervently supported resuming the production of chemical weapons . . .

The most revealing article I ran across concerned his testimony during his 2001 confirmation hearing from Flogging the Simian: (scroll down)

From reading this Washington Post article on the confirmation hearings of Crouch, which took place at the same as those of Douglas Feith and Stephen Cambone, I found a couple of troublesome items. The article was published in June of 2001:
Feith's sharpest exchange, however, came with Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.), who reacted with alarm when Feith said he favored development of a policy for "the liberation of Iraq."

"Well, that's the most disturbing answer of all," Cleland said.

Cleland, a Vietnam combat veteran, summed up his feelings at the end of the hearing, telling Feith and Crouch that "your answers have been very troubling to me, and I want you to know that. And it's going to be an agonizing thing to go over your testimony."

But at the end of the day, they seemed to have made little headway with Levin and other leading Democrats. After hours of back-and-forth, Levin said he thought Crouch's writings on how to counter North Korea's nuclear program were "reckless."

Crouch countered that he no longer favored either redeploying U.S. nuclear weapons in South Korea or bombing North Korea if it did not accede to U.S. demands, as he had in the mid-1990s. But he added: "Given what I knew at the time, I stick by the recommendations."

Liberation of Iraq in June 2001?

Bush would have invaded Iraq whether 9/11 happened or not. Today on CSPAN J.D. Crouch said that Bush's plan for "victory" has been in place for the last two and a half years. He's right. Iraq is going exactly the way the neo-cons planned it. "Building Democracy in Iraq" is a one hundred year project. The neo-cons never had any intention of leaving Iraq. That's why Iraq's army was dissolved.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:52 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush Admits Mistake - Doesn't Resign

Bush takes blame for Iraq war on bad intelligence,

"It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq, and I am also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities and we're doing just that," he said.

... Bush's new admission was significant in that he rarely admits mistakes, although he has acknowledged failures in U.S. intelligence on Iraq before.

His administration touted Iraqi weapons of mass destruction as a reason for going to war in March 2003, but such weapons were never found.

At best it was the biggest screwup in American history. At best.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:10 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Ford Retreats - Will Back Gays

Regarding that Ford thing? We just won.
Read about it at AMERICAblog

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:49 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

If Alito Is On The Supreme Court

There's a good movie at Alito's America about the stakes in this battle over the deciding Supreme Court vote.

Yes, the next judge will be the deciding vote, and Alito sides with the hard-right. Most important votes lately have been decided 5-4, with moderate Republican appointees voting one way and hard-right Republican appointees voting another. (That's right, they are mostly Republican appointees - elections do matter.)

The moderates have been winning many important cases with five votes. (Except the hard-right won and put Bush in office.) If Alito is confirmed for the court the balance will tip to 5-4 AGAINST many things you take for granted like environmental protection, civil rights, a woman's right to choose, corporate domination of everything, worker safety laws, etc. All of these had been decided 5-4. It really is that close. You really do need to talk to people about this.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:50 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Activist Liberal Judge Bans Christmas!

You're just not going to believe this one! Activist Judge Cancels Christmas,

WASHINGTON, DC—In a sudden and unexpected blow to the Americans working to protect the holiday, liberal U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt ruled the private celebration of Christmas unconstitutional Monday.
Something has to be done!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:27 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Congressional Oversight -- NOT

House Panel Puts Off White House Subpoena,

The Republican chairman of a special House panel investigating the government's response to Hurricane Katrina decided Wednesday to reject, at least for now, a proposal to subpoena the White House for documents detailing internal communications before and after the storm hit on Aug. 29.

... The committee, which is wrapping up its investigation and plans to issue its findings Feb. 15, requested hundreds of thousands of documents more than two months ago from the Bush administration, state and locals officials in Washington and the Gulf Coast. Though Davis said the White House has handed over some documents, it has refused others sent to and from White House chief of staff Andrew Card, citing executive privilege.

... While some Democrats are participating in the committee, party leaders have asked lawmakers to boycott the inquiry that they believe should be done by an independent commission.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:46 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 13, 2005

Big Storms Coming Together

Remember that movie where two very large storms meet up and form one huge, extremely powerful storm? The title might be a bit overused, but look what is happening with the Tom DeLay and Duke Cunningham cases. Talking Points Memo points to this story, Prosecutor issues subpoenas in DeLay case,

A Texas prosecutor has issued subpoenas for bank records and other information of a defense contractor involved in the bribery case of a California congressman as part of the investigation of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

District Attorney Ronnie Earle issued subpoenas late Monday afternoon for California businessmen Brent Wilkes and Max Gelwix, records of Perfect Wave Technologies LLC, Wilkes Corp. and ADCS Inc. in connection with a contribution to a fundraising committee at the center of the investigation that led to DeLay's indictment on money laundering charges.

Perfect Wave contributed $15,000 in September 20, 2002 to Texans for a Republican Majority, a fundraising committee founded by DeLay, R-Texas.

Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigned in late November after pleading guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to companies.

Just the other day, in Tax Dollars Sent Directly To The Party I pointed to a story about this guy Wilkes setting up front-companies, bribing Republicans, getting defense contracts, and pumping the money back into The Party So enjoy the ride.

There's a third, much larger storm out there as well. All that's left is for the Abramoff investigation to merge into this as well. And it will.


Update - Also this story today (Wednesday), Prosecutors in DeLay Case Look Into Ties With Lobbyist,

The subpoenas sought documents from the lobbyist, Brent Wilkes, a California businessman whose lawyers have confirmed that he is one of four unnamed co-conspirators listed in the criminal charges against former Representative Randy Cunningham, the California Republican who pleaded guilty to taking at least $2.4 million in bribes.

Mr. Wilkes was close to several Republican members of Congress, including Mr. Cunningham and Mr. DeLay, Republican of Texas, who traveled as Mr. Wilkes's guest in a private jet he partly owned. There is no accusation in the subpoenas of any other tie between Mr. DeLay and Mr. Cunningham, who is facing a long prison sentence.

... Mr. Wilkes is the owner of the Wilkes Corporation, an umbrella company that owns ADCS Inc. and PerfectWave Technologies, both of which received subpoenas. Mr. Wilkes also ran Group W Transportation, a company that owned fractional stakes in corporate jets and flew numerous members of Congress to events until it was closed. The company provided three flights to Mr. DeLay, who reimbursed the company, records show.

... Mr. DeLay's campaign and political action committees were among the top beneficiaries of Mr. Wilkes's extensive donations over the last decade. A report released this month by the Center for Responsive Politics found that entities associated with Mr. DeLay received $41,000 in contributions from the Wilkes Corporation PAC and from employees of Mr. Wilkes's companies.

Another of Mr. Wilkes's companies, Group W Advisors, paid over $600,000 in lobbying fees to Alexander Strategies, a consulting firm that employed Mr. DeLay's wife, Christine, and several former DeLay staff members, according to The Associated Press and reports in The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:21 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Who Owns Bob Casey Jr.?

Hat tip to Cernig at MyDD. Over at Comments From Left Field Goose3Five has a list of 239 organizations that have contributed to both Bob Casey Jr. and Rick Santorum.

A little birdy just dropped me some information I thought you all might appreciate... "Last week Bob Casey's campaign asked, 'Who owns Rick Santorum?' The answer is, the same people who own Bob Casey." That's right folks, it would appear that the Democratic party's annointed candidate has been right all along to keep his mouth shut because when it opens it gets filled with feet!

Isn't that special?

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 3:05 PM | Comments (7) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Dems Fighting Back HARD

Watch the video: Demoralizing the troops. (Click the picture on the right side. to see the video.) Short, sweet, hard-hitting.

And sign the petition.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:13 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush Admin. Threatens Canada

Canada shrugs off U.S. warning to back off,

The United States made an unprecedented foray into Canada's election campaign on Tuesday, warning politicians not to bash Washington in their bid to win the January 23 election.

... In a hard-hitting speech in Ottawa, U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins lamented what he called relentless and incessant criticism of his country, which he speculated might begin to sow doubt about the strength of the binational relationship.

"Canada never has to tear the United States down to build itself up," Wilkins said.

"It may be smart election politics to thump your chest and constantly criticize your friend and your No. 1 trading partner. But it's a slippery slope and all of us should hope it doesn't have a long-term impact on our relationship." [emphasis added]

And the topic of the criticism that the Bush Administration didn't like?

Wilkins did not name the prime minister directly, but he specifically targeted a comment made last week at the Montreal climate change conference in which Martin called on the United States to heed a "global conscience" and join efforts to combat global warming.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:05 PM | Comments (7) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

I Bonds at 6.73%?

Can someone explain what I'm missing? I can get I Bonds paying 6.73%, buy a minimum of $50 and only have to hold them a year? Am I correct? Why would anyone buy a CD at a bank, or any other kind of Treasury bill or savings bond?

Bank of America, for example, pays 1.78% for a 1-year CD, 3.73% on more than $10,000. E-Trade pays 4.63%

So I'm stupid, what am I missing?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:38 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

How Very Christian Of You

California executed a man last night. How are the so-called "Christian Right" blogs reacting? With a blood-frenzy of delight, jokes, outright hate and joyful vengence.

The titles of the posts say it for them...

NOTE TO TOOKIE: SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL FOR ME

Scam Artists and Cry Babies Mourn the Execution of a Cold Blooded Murderer

BURN, TOOKIE, BURN!

You have to understand the wingnut persecution-complex context of this one: Conservatives Slay Civil Rights Leader

Wolf Blitzer Defends Tookie

“Barabbas” Tookie Executed

Hell Prepares For A New Occupant Tonight!

Took, Took, Tookie, Goodbye!

ABC & Nation of Islam Support Cold-Blooded Killer Tookie

Tick Tock Tookie

Hasta La Vista.....Tookie

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:50 PM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Yes, Virginia, There Is A War On Christmas

AND IT'S ALL IN LOWER CASE,

nobody ever sees secular heathens actually try to drink the blood of christian children, but that is no sign there is no war on christmas. the most real things in the world are those that neither logical men nor rush limbaugh can see. did you ever see jesus ride a dinosaur? of course not, but that’s no proof that he didn’t.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:39 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

President Bush Is A Failure As Commander-in-Chief

The evidence is overwhelming that President Bush is a complete failure as Commander-in-Chief. Gen. Zinni’s 2002 speech at CDI illustrates what was known by informed observers prior to Bush’s invasion of Iraq. A second speech last year lists ten distinct mistakes that were made in how Bush’s Iraq war was conducted.

Here is the bullet version of Gen. Anthony Zinni, USMC, (Ret.) Remarks at CDI Board of Directors Dinner, May 12, 2004

[T]he first mistake that will be recorded in history, [is] the belief that containment as a policy doesn't work.

The second mistake I think history will record is that the strategy was flawed.

The third mistake, I think was one we repeated from Vietnam, we had to create a false rationale for going in to get public support.

We failed in number four, to internationalize the effort.

I think the fifth mistake was that we underestimated the task.

The sixth mistake, and maybe the biggest one, was propping up and trusting the exiles.

The seventh problem has been the lack of planning.

The eighth problem was the insufficiency of military forces on the ground.

The ninth problem has been the ad hoc organization we threw in there.

[T]the tenth mistake, and that's a series of bad decisions on the ground. Disbanding the Army, this is one I'll never understand . . . We had always intended if they didn't fight, we'd get rid of the leadership, we'd keep them in tact, we'd provide for some of their training, and we would have the basis for a ready-made force to pick up some of the security requirements.

There was a Q&A following Gen. Zinni’s talk last year. Here are a few of his responses:

We also have to stop the tough talk rhetoric. One thing you learn in this business is, don't say it unless you're going to do it. In this part of the world, strength matters. And if you say you are going to go in and wipe them out, you better do it. If you say you're going to do it and then you back off and find another solution, you have lost face. And we have got to stop the kind of bravado and talk that only leads us into trouble out there. We need to be more serious and more mature in what we project as an image.

Our whole public relations effort out there has been a disaster. I read the newspapers from the region every night online, and if you watch Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, or even some of the more moderate stations out there, and you read the editorials in the newspaper, there is a different war being portrayed in that region. A different conflict than we're getting from Fox, CNN, CBS, et cetera. And we better get the two jibed somehow, because that has been a massive failure. And there again, we could use advice from the region as to how to go about it.


When Jack Murtha put forward his proposal to begin an immediate phased withdrawal, he was just telling the American people the same thing that Gen. Zinni suggested and that Murtha was in all likelihood hearing from active three and four star generals:

I think it’s time to take the U.S. imprimatur off of this idea . . . Look, the plan for the future of Iraq has to be done by Iraqis, by people in the region and by the international community not just handed to them by Americans. I found out from a friend of mine who is in the CPA, that there are members of the CPA running around Iraq now giving lectures on Jefferson.

Now, I like Thomas Jefferson. I’m a Virginian. But, he’s another dead white guy out there, you know. And, we could be doing more useful things, I think, than that, with the people out there.

It was obvious from the first day that the so called coalition that Bush was so proud of was superficial cover for a unilateral U.S. invasion of Iraq:

PHIL COYLE: Gen. Zinni, I think the administration claims 38 countries are in the coalition.

ZINNI: Yeah. Fiji, I think, was a big contributor. (Laughter)

Gen. Zinni is far more circumspect than I am. In my opinion the Joint Chiefs have failed their Commander-in-Chief as well as their country:

LARRY KORB: General, Larry Korb. Under Goldwater-Nickles, the military are supposed to be able to talk to the president and the Congress, to tell them that. You’re quite right to talk about Gen. Shinseki. Where were the other chiefs when this planning for the war with all the optimistic scenarios were going? Don’t you think if they all have spoken out, it would have been harder for the administration to just push it along?

ZINNI: First of all, I’m not going to speak for the chiefs. And, I’m not going to speak against them in any way. I will tell you this. When I was a commander at U.S. Central Command, and Hugh Shelton was the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Hugh Shelton sent us the book
Dereliction of Duty. He required all of us 17 four-star General Commanders to read the book. And we all reported to Washington, I believe it was (the) 28th of January, 1998, for a breakfast meeting.

At that meeting was a then young Army Maj. McMaster who wrote the book. Dereliction of Duty describes the dereliction on the part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Vietnam War, who had strong feelings about all the mistakes that were being made, but didn’t speak their minds, and didn’t speak up, with the exception of former Commandant of the Marine Corps, David Shoup. The message to us, after we heard this, from Hugh Shelton is, that will never happen here. And the message to us from Secretary Cohen at that time, too, is that door is always open, and your obligation to the Congress, which is an obligation to the American people to tell them what you think, still stands strong. And that’s the expectation that we have.

They did not ever want to hear that we had a problem, something sticking our crawl, that we didn’t bring up to them, and we didn’t honestly express if we felt it had to be expressed. I can tell you there were times when I disagreed with the policy and I can tell you one time in particular that I was taken, personally, to a principals meeting, because the secretary and the chairman wanted to be sure that my views, which were different, were heard by the President.

Now, I think there is an obligation to speak the truth that when you’re confirmed, and when you raise your right hand in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee and in front of whoever the administers that oath for your appointment. You answer to those many bosses. One is the secretary of defense and the president, another boss is the Congress, who represents the people. And you’re going to have to speak the truth, like (Eric) Rich Shinseki did. It’s painful at times. Believe me. I’ve been down that road. But it is an obligation that comes with the uniform. And I think if there are those, and I don’t know this one way or another, I don’t ask, if there are those wearing that uniform that have concerns and doubts about this or objections, and didn’t voice it, there is going to be a second edition of Dereliction of Duty down the road.

RACHEL FREEDMAN: Thank you. We’re consistently hearing what’s going wrong in Iraq. In your opinion, is anything going right?


ZINNI: Well, I’m sure that you’re going to find anecdotal evidence of good news stories out there. And, I agree to a certain extent, much of that doesn’t make news. You probably have a lot of efforts at the local level, where schools are rehabilitated, where local village councils are functioning and cooperating with US forces, where local little market economies are starting to move.

But, it’s a matter of relevant news, good versus bad. Is the good news, of which I’m sure there’s a lot of, sufficient enough to say you’ve tipped it in the right direction, versus the bad news?

On the bad side, I see an insurgency that is about in its mid-life. You know what happens, this is a classic Maoist insurgency. It’s not uniquely Islamist, it’s classically Maoist. You begin by disabling the infrastructure; frightening the people; attacking the outside interveners; attacking those that cooperate with them. Show them that the local authorities are ineffective. You do this by a series of violent acts, terrorist activities. We saw this in Vietnam. You saw it in classic insurgencies.

You then move to convince people that the government is powerless and corrupt; that the outside intervention forces are there as powers to dominate colonial powers. And you try to make the case that you are the only viable representative they have. And eventually you move that to civil war. Unless the insurgency completes itself and succeeds, you’ll move it to civil war.

The civil war will be between whoever, ethnic groups, more likely between those that support the good news, the change, the cooperation with the U.S. or whoever, and those that now reject it, that side with the other side.

When I was in Vietnam, my first tour of duty, I was an advisor with the Vietnamese Marines. So, I went to Vietnamese language school. And, I lived, I wore the uniform of the Vietnamese Marines and we lived in the villages. They had a quartering act. And I remember one time I was in the house of a family in northern part of South Vietnam and after dinner, the mother of the house said, “Do you have any pictures of your family?” And I showed them to her in her house. And she said, “Why are you here?”

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 11:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A General Speaks On War With Iraq

October 31, 2002

Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni headed the U.S. Central Command, which commands U.S. forces in much of the Middle East and Central Asia, from 1997 to 2000, and is now a CDI Distinguished Military Fellow. On Oct. 10, 2002, he spoke before the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. about a new war with Iraq, whether the time is right, and what would have to happen for military action to turn out in the best possible way. [Excerpts of the] speech and Q&A follow.

General Zinni: Thank you. Ned asked me to look at the possibility of military action in Iraq and sort of describe the lane between best case, worst case and maybe the most likely case scenarios are and where the minefields may be.
Let me start with the best case. Last night I sat down and said, "What would have to happen to make any military action to turn out in the best possible way?" I wrote ten conditions for this war that would have to happen. The first condition is that the coalition is in. The second is that the war is short. The third is that destruction is light. Fourth is that Israel is out. Fifth is that the street is quiet. Sixth is that order is kept. Seventh is that the burden is shared. Eighth is that the change is orderly. Ninth is that the military is not stuck. Tenth is that other commitments are met. That's an easy list. (laughter) If we design our strategy and our tactics based on that, it will all work out.

In a very interesting aside, Gen. Zinni made a comment about Rummy’s plan to “transform” the military:

My first question when I became the commander in chief of Central Command we're not allowed to say commander in chief now, so this is an old term. By the way that's the sum total of transformation, we have just changed the lexicon. We can't say engagement, we can't say commander in chief, and we can't say national command authority. So far we're transforming the language (laughter) when I was the combatant commander in Central Command, the first thing I asked all my friends and counterparts was, "Why do you see the U.S. military presence here as important?" The answer I had was stability, stability, stability. You can, and you do, if it's done right, provide a tremendous amount of stability to a very volatile region.
You would think that by now it would be obvious even to George Bush that Bush and Rumsfeld executed whatever military plan they may have had with extraordinary incompetence.

There is no doubt that stability in the Middle East was and is the only reason for the U.S. to have a military presence in Iraq. We all know how that has turned out. One of the funniest statements coming out of the Bush administration about withdrawal is that Iraq will descend into chaos if we leave. As if Bush were not the one responsible for introducing additional chaos in the first place.

Gen. Zinni has four short paragraphs that explain and summarize the reasons that George Bush is a complete and utter failure not only as President, but as Commander-in-Chief:

The next point I made was that the street had to remain quiet. A short war helps that, but the mood is not good. Anti Americanism, doubt about this war, concern about the damage that may happen, political issues, economic issues, social issues have all caused the street to become extremely volatile. I'm amazed at people that say that there is no street and that it won't react. I'm not sure which planet they live on, because it isn't the one that I travel. I've been out in the Middle East, and it is explosive; it is the worst I've ever seen it in over a dozen years of working in this area in some concentrated way. Almost anything could touch it off.

What would the reaction be? We can see the events that are taking place now in Kuwait with our forces. Will we have security issues, embassies, military installations, American businessmen, or tourists there? Do we become vulnerable? Do others that are involved with us become vulnerable? Are the regimes of our friends and the governments that are friendly to us vulnerable? Do we need to see demonstrations and blood in the streets? Do we need to see friendly governments that operate economically, politically and pretty close to the edge being pushed by a street that is resisting support and cooperation in the conduct of the war? It is a great unknown, and it's easy to blow it off by comments that there is no street or that it won't react and nothing will happen.

The greatest moment on the street came after 9/11 when Osama bin Laden called for the Jihad. I told my friends to watch the result. I told them I could predict there would be no Jihad, that they might see some isolated demonstrations, but that we would see the true heart of the people in the region. We saw it in October, November and December. A year later now, we have lost that goodwill. We have lost that connection; we have lost that compassion. We have lost that moment when we could have corrected things, and now the language is getting hostile and bitter. We have the crazies that represent the ends of the religions and societies involved in this who are saying things that are inflammatory, inciting, and not helping. We need a lot of repair work on those relationships, culture to culture and society to society, let alone government to government.

I’ll leave it to STF readers to digest the rest of Gen. Zinni’s speech. In the meantime, let's bring our troops home before Bush and Rumsfeld muck the Middle East up even worse than they already have.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Confused

Bob Geiger thinks Bush is Just Too Damn Quick on His Feet

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Hate From AFA

At AMERICAblog, a catalog of various hate from the American Family Association, the group that Ford Motor Company bowed to when they pulled all their advertising from gay-friendly publications. Example,

Does a "Jewish upbringing" lead to a life of crime?

In the March issue of American Family Association Journal, a publication of Donald E. Wildmon's right-wing evangelical activist group, the American Family Association (AFA), author Randall Murphree suggested that a Jewish upbringing leads to hatred of Christians, and by extension, a criminal lifestyle.

And,

Is Europe "infested" with Muslims who breed "faster than we do"?

"The problem we have with Europe is that [it] is infested with the Muslim population. The reason why is because they multiply at a much faster rate than we do," she says. "When we Christians get married, we have two, three, maybe four children -- after they're born, we start thinking about what college we're going to send them to, what education we're going to give them. The Muslims, on the other hand, are allowed to marry up to four wives at a time," she says, noting that terrorist Osama bin Laden had 27 children.

Go read the list.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:43 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

"Go live in Israel"

San Jose Mercury News: CELEBRATIONS LACKING: CONSERVATIVES SAY THEY ARE RECLAIMING CHRISTMAS, BUT CRITICS DISAGREE,

Last week, the Alliance Defense Fund -- a Christian legal group founded by conservative minister James Dobson -- posted on its Web site a letter and news release warning the Jackson County, Ga., schools to lay off Christmas.

The group said it had learned that the 6,000-student district northeast of Atlanta prohibited teachers from wearing angel pins, banned references to a "Christmas" party, removed some Christmas songs from a concert, took the word "God" out of another song, prohibited classroom Bibles and art with angels or Nativity scenes, and banned the greeting "Merry Christmas."

... Within 24 hours, Superintendent Andy Byars had digested the faxed letter -- along with a small flood of incensed e-mail from around the Internet denouncing, sometimes in offensive terms, his schools.

"You are either bigoted Jews who hate Christians or mindless secularists," noted one anonymous e-mail. "Go live in Israel."

Byars' head was spinning because, he said, almost none of the claims represented district policy.

It has occurred to me that the way to understand what the Right is saying is to understand what their target audience is hearing. Once again, it's the Jews.

What did the school district really do?

Byars, the superintendent, says it's a place where a couple of decades ago, almost everyone was Christian. Now, he estimates, 10 percent of students are Jewish, Muslim or Southeast Asian Buddhists.

In mid-November, Byars met with administrators at the district's 11 schools, cautioning them to be "sensitive" to the variety of religions at Christmas. He remembers being asked if a teacher could wear a sweatshirt saying "Jesus is the reason for the season." He said that as agents of the state and authority figures, teachers couldn't endorse Christianity so openly.

Later, he says, the district heard "rumblings" that its Christmas policies were the subject of rumors and discussion in an Internet chat room. Apparently, some of those rumblings came to the attention of Alliance Defense Fund.

Cortman says he assembled his complaint after talking with several parents, teachers and students. He also was given a copy of an e-mail from one elementary school principal to her staff saying teachers couldn't wear clothing or pins with any "religious connotation" and no Bibles could be "displayed" in classrooms.

Told of the e-mail by Newsday, the district checked and said the principal, in her first year on the job, had received staff complaints about it before Alliance stepped in and had already been told to ease up -- little cross or angel pins were fine.

Bibles, the district says, can be used in Christmas lessons -- they just can't be put on permanent, decorative "display."

Seeing the Forest encountered the Alliance Defense Fund before, in 2004, when they falsely charged that the Cupertino, California schools were "banning the Declaration of Independence." More here, and another Alliance Defense Fund lie here. (FYI, the "Declaration Banned" story led to my meeting eRiposte, now writing at The Left Coaster, who lives in that school district. He extensively covered that story.)

Media Matters has more info on this hateful organization. Also SourceWatch, Media Transparency, Southern Poverty Law Center, and People For the American Way.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:02 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

No To Pombo

One of the corrupt right-wing Republicans in Congress is Richard Pombo. His district borders on the Democratic San Francisco Bay Area, and locally people are gearing up to work to get him out of there. (He may be indicted first...)

I have discovered one blog involved in this effort, Say No to Pombo. Go visit. And maybe drop a donation at their ActBlue page to help educate people in the district about Pombo,

Your contribution will allow us educate the citizens of CA-11 about Pombo’s true agenda and about the credible Democratic alternative. A $50 donation will allow us to send mailers to 100 voters about his irresponsible and rapacious environmental policies. A $150 contribution will let us run a week of phone-banking to expose his shameless corruption. Be generous and give as much as you can.
(Note - this is a donation to ActBlue, not the blog,
ActBlue is the universal Democratic bundler. We enable anyone — individuals, grassroots groups, and millions-strong organizations — to use the best practices of EMILY's List and MoveOn to fundraise for the Democratic candidates and causes of their choice. With ActBlue, together these fundraisers can raise otherwise untapped millions for Democratic campaigns and progressive causes.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:16 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Supreme Court Accepts Texas Redistricting Case

From the L.A. Times, Redistrict Fight Will Go Before High Court:Critics say Republican remapping in Texas, led by Tom DeLay, diluted minority voters' power.

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a constitutional challenge to the hotly disputed Texas redistricting plan engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in 2003 that handed Republicans six additional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In a surprise move, the high court said it would consider reining in the most extreme forms of partisan gerrymandering. The court previously has rejected such challenges, concluding it is impossible to separate partisan politics from the drawing of electoral districts
.

This is an understatement:

The court's move to hear the Texas case could spell trouble for the Republicans, who have controlled the U.S. House for a decade. If the justices strike down DeLay's plan as unconstitutional, that could force political boundary changes in time for the 2006 congressional elections.

If the court was going to let the appellate decision stand, there was no reason to grant certiorari:
Some election law experts said Monday's action might signal that the court was ready to strike down the Texas plan.

"This is quite a surprise. Maybe Justice Kennedy has made up his mind," said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. It is plausible, Hasen said, that Kennedy could be attracted to the standard proposed by the challengers that would not forbid all partisan gerrymandering, but would bar a mid-decade remap to benefit the party in power.


An honest Justice Department would have blocked DeLay's redistricting plan:
The Washington Post reported recently that career lawyers at the Justice Department had objected to the plan and said it should be blocked because it diluted the voting power of blacks and Latinos. Under the Voting Rights Act, states with a history of racial discrimination in voting must submit their plans to the Justice Department before making changes in their electoral systems. Texas is among these states.

Despite the views of the staff, the Justice Department cleared the Texas plan. A three-judge federal panel also upheld it as constitutional.


This is why you always keep fighting:
Nonetheless, lawyers for the Democrats and some minority voters renewed their challenge in the Supreme Court. They urged the justices to rule that it was unconstitutional to redraw districts in mid-decade "solely to skew future election results in favor of one political party."

Since the Texas plan won approval, two other states — Georgia and Colorado — have moved to redraw their districts for the second time this decade.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:13 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 12, 2005

What If It's More Than Corruption?

In the 1980 election the Reagan campaign ran an intelligence operation that, among other things, infiltrated the Carter White House. They had agents sending our most sensitive military secrets to the campaign. At one point they even managed to steal the briefing book that Carter was using to prepare for his debates against Reagan. Use of the briefing book provided inside information that helped Reagan temporarily appear competent. (Side note, learn about the involvement of "journalist" George Will.)

After that I wanted to write a novel in which the Soviets infiltrated the Reagan campaign, and made them all think they were getting secrets out of the White House to use in their ideological war at home, but in reality they were handing the secrets to the Soviets. It seems an obvious approach, to pose as ideological warriors to get the "conservatives" to do their bidding...

On to today...

To what extent is it possible that today's Republican Party scandals are not just about traditional corruption, but instead are the result of manipulation by foreign interests, masquerading as corruption and ideological cultism? China, Iran, ??? The neo-cons are persuaded by ideology and cooked-up intelligence to go to war in Iraq. Iran ends up with Shia Iraq as a client state, with its oil resources at its disposal, for sale to China. America weakened, its industries no longer competitive, it's infrastructure crumbling. Who benefits?

Think about the harm the neo-con "conservative movement" ideology has done to our country. We're left with massive debt, fractured institutions, a dangerously divided public, destruction of public infrastructure, outsourcing of our manufacturing and technological base, weakened public education system, -- the list just goes on and on. Was this just blind cultist ideology? Who benefits?

How much of the "conservative movement" was not American-grown? Look at the purchased influence of the Moonies - an internationally-funded cult sets up a newspaper in Washington and it becomes the news hub of the "conservative movement." The cult spreads billions of dollars around "conservative movement" circles and sets up front groups with patriotic-sounding names. The President's brother travels with the cult's leader. (Somehow not the biggest story in every news outlet.) Everyone KNOWs it is about buying influence but no one acknowledges they are buying influence! Who benefits?

And this, to get the comments popping: In the 90's the neo-cons kept us from using encrypted voice and data communications. Who funded that campaign? Who benefits?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:06 AM | Comments (17) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Question Authority

The L.A. Times has a feature article about Crooks and Liars today.

Meet The Truth Squad

Money Quote:

If Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich types make it to the White House and Congress, will you keep a lookout for liberal crooks and liars?

I've thought about this often, and I would say yes. Power has to be questioned.

Well, duh. It would have been a better question if Mark Ehrman had posed the question about Hillary Clinton, instead of Dean and Kucinich. A typical example of the M$M propensity to be fair and balanced instead of truthful.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 7:55 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 11, 2005

The Iraq War Is Over

With his appearance on Face The Nation, Jack Murtha just drove a stake through the heart of Bush's immoral war in Iraq.

It's all over but the shoutin'. The fat lady has packed her bags and gone home. The only thing left to do is bring our troops home and let the Iraqi people put their country back together.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:02 AM | Comments (12) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A Tribute To Eugene McCarthy

I opened up the L.A. Times to a very special treat this morning,Eugene McCarthy; Candidacy Inspired Antiwar Movement

I was reminded of things long forgotten and learned a thing or two as well.

Political scientist Steven S. Smith of Washington University in St. Louis told The Times on Saturday that McCarthy "remains the most important national symbol of the peace movement and the view that the U.S. reverts to the use of force too quickly. No one has symbolized that in American politics like McCarthy has."

Gene McCarthy's shining historical legacy will stand in stark contrast to the sorry record of George Bush:

Truculent as well as contrarian, McCarthy abruptly decided not to seek reelection to the Senate in 1970, disappointing many supporters who hoped he would use his office to continue to push for an end to U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Humphrey reentered the Senate by winning the election to succeed McCarthy.

McCarthy ran for president in 1972, 1976, 1988 and 1992 but never came close to recapturing the constituency he had originally forged in New Hampshire.

Still, historians regard his 1968 candidacy as a turning point: a campaign that focused Americans' previously scattered opposition to the war and pushed successive administrations to try to extricate U.S. forces from Southeast Asia. It also stands as one of the most vivid examples of successful grass-roots activism in U.S. politics.

Here's a very interesting tidbit I wasn't aware of:

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a volunteer in McCarthy's 1968 campaign and a co-founder two years later of an antiwar group called the Marin Alternative, said: "During the Vietnam War, Eugene McCarthy had the courage to stand up and be a voice for peace. He will always be remembered for that."

And here's an eerie political parallel:

McCarthy, a relatively obscure senator who turned against the war as the United States escalated its troop buildup in the mid-1960s, entered the New Hampshire presidential primary partly to fill a vacuum: Antiwar politicians who were more prominent assumed that Johnson was unbeatable and decided not to challenge him.

McCarthy's candidacy initially was dismissed as quixotic. Johnson's biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote that the challenge "was regarded by official Washington as a somewhat baffling exercise begun by a hitherto stable member of the Senate liberal establishment."

I suspect there was a long forgotten radio talk show host at the time who accused Senator McCarthy of being "unhinged." There was one group of Americans who flocked to McCarthy's anti-war banner:

But McCarthy's campaign caught fire with young people — the vanguard of opposition to the Vietnam War — and hordes of them traveled to New Hampshire to help his cause. They stuffed envelopes and passed out leaflets in what was dubbed "the children's crusade." Many cut their long hair and put on fresh clothes to help impress older voters. Be "Clean for Gene," their watchword urged.

Eugene McCarthy's influence would cast a long reform shadow over the Democratic Party that remains to this day. Here's another eerie parallel:

[McCarthy's candidacy] also helped inspire an overhaul of the political process, particularly within the Democratic Party. After antiwar demonstrations disrupted the 1968 Democratic National Convention, damaging the party politically, Democratic leaders revamped party rules to pare back the power of political professionals to determine candidates and platforms.

McCarthy had a very special essence that is sorely lacking in American politics today. Eugene McCarthy had the heart of a poet:

On the day his term officially ended in January 1971, McCarthy marked the occasion by reading to a Georgetown gathering from his new book of poetry, "Other Things and the Aardvark." The opening lines of the book's title page were wryly self-descriptive:

I am alone
in the land of the aardvarks.

I am walking west
all the aardvarks are going east

The aardvarks are free to go where they will. As for me, I'm walking west with the spirit of Eugene McCarthy, along a road that was once far less traveled and is now a well worn path. Thank-you Gene.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 6:52 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 10, 2005

Tax Dollars Sent Directly To The Party

The. Biggest. Scandal. Ever! Phony Front Companies Cycle Millions Back to GOP!

Here's how it works. Set up phony front-companies and call them "defense contractors." Republicans in Congress "earmark" hundreds of millions in contracts for these companies into budget bills. The companies are really just fronts that shuttle the money to The Party and its infrastructure organizations, which use the money on campaign ads, etc. for Republicans.

Sound illegal? So what? Who is going to investigate? The Republican Justice Department? The Republican Congress? News organizations owned by defense contractors like GE? Fat chance.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:37 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The reserve army of the unemployed, globalized

Internationalizing the labor pool leads to a race to the bottom for wages. Already jobs have left Mexico when Mexican wages started to rise -- the supposed transformation of Mexico has not come through.

When labor (especially less-skilled labor) is treated as an interest group, people forget that it amounts to a hefty segment of the population. It's not a small group like artichoke farmers or shrimp fishermen. Since you basically define labor as people who cannot live off their capital but must work for a living, labot is also the most vulnerable segment of the population (with the exception for those who can't work at all). Harm to labor can be extremely painful and destructive, since labor has little or no nest egg to fall back on.

When a large, vulnerable group finds out that the effective majority of the electorate has cut them loose and that the US government is not going to be on their side, because of the acuteness of the problem (lives are destroyed) there's going to an widespread, intense loss of any feeling of belonging. It's not just nickels and dimes. When you have an influx of immigrants at the same time (representing the new standard to which indigenous labor is expected to fall) the alienation is most likely to be expressed as racism against the immigrants.

All this is fine for the Republicans, but disastrous for the Democrats. Free-trade Democrats had the economics right, but the politics wrong. The people hurt were voters Democrats need, and I have no idea whether the party will ever recover.

(This is an edited version of my response to this post at Matt Yglesias's TPM page.)

Posted by John Emerson at 4:11 AM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 9, 2005

GOP Chickens Come Home To Roost

State by State GOP Scandal Score Card

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 7:03 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Marketing and Branding

I strongly recommend that everyone read Daily Kos: Marketing, Branding, and Why We Can't Win in '06.

Those of you who assume that either A) bad numbers for Republicans automatically translate to good numbers for Democrats, or B) the message we communicate in relation to the nation's #1 issue isn't a vital element of the party's brand, or C) voters will embrace an ill-conceived brand, are sorely and dangerously mistaken.

Without a unified party, a consistent brand, or a coherent message, we're not even giving Joe and Jane Voter an alternative that they can justify. If anything, we're giving them a negative brand message that, carried out too much longer, will actually do us harm come November.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:06 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Are Progressives Cheap?

In the spirit of blogs-as-open-source-think-tanks I'd like to start a discussion. Are Progressives cheap? Do you think Progressives give enough money to Progressive organizations and candidates?

How much is "enough?" Many Christians, even very poor ones, give ten percent of their before-tax income to their churches. For them tithing is a value. Do YOU give ten percent of your income to Progressive organizations, causes and candidates? (I'm not saying that Progressives are in some kind of opposition to Christians here, I'm asking if this can be a core Progressive value in the same way that it a Christian value.)

Have you ever worked for a Progressive-oriented non-profit? If you think the "private sector" pays poorly and takes its workers for granted, you really have no idea... And there is the whole issue of the foundations and other funders of Progressive causes. What's up with that?

Is there a Progressive "value" of giving? Or do Progressives really think that "the government" should take care of everything? Conservative certainly understand the importance of funding their organizations. The "conservative movement" network of PR think tanks receives more than $400 million dollars a year. (This total does not even include Fox, Limbaugh, The Party, etc.)

And, most important, what can we do to change this? What can we do to instill in Progressives a culture of supporting our own causes, organizations and candidates?

DISCUSS!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:45 AM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

More About the Right Targetting Jews

Yesterday I wrote about the Right starting to drop the not-so-subtle undertones, coming right out (right out, get it?) and saying that their "war on Christmas" campaign really IS about Jews. The other day Nitpicker caught a good one,

... I would think if somebody is going to be -- have to answer for following the wrong religion, they're not going to have to answer to me. We know who they're going to have to answer to.

... If you figure that -- listen, we get a little theological here, and it's probably a bit over my head, but I would think if somebody is going to be -- have to answer for following the wrong religion, they're not going to have to answer to me. We know who they're going to have to answer to. And that's fine. Let 'em. But in the meantime, as long as they're civil and behave, we tolerate the presence of other religions around us without causing trouble, and I think most Americans are fine with that tradition.

And links to even more of that one at Media Matters

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:59 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Really Funny

You might have to be a very regular blog reader to appreciate it, but I think this is one of the funniest things I have read in a very long time. Sample:

I understand you do impressions of other bloggers. Can you do, say, Atrios?

Oh, yes, I've practiced this one! A typical day in Eschatonville: Open thread, open thread, open thread, "Heh," open thread, open thread, "Wanker", open thread, "Heh indeedy," open thread, open thread, "Bobo strikes again"...Boobies!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Howard Dean vs. Harry Reid

I just started a food fight over at MyDD. Already on the recommend list, Howard Dean Is Wrong Because He's Right, wherein I accuse Harry Reid of moral cowardice and challenge the DLC Sockpuppets at DLC Sockpuppet Central to bring it on.

Stop by and participate in our national dialogue about the soul of the Democratic Party.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:13 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 8, 2005

The New Judenrate

There is a diary up at MyDD that supports Dave’s diary Accusing Jews Directly. Courtesy of Cernig, The Heritage Foundation's New Judenrate (While you're there, click the "Recommend" button! - DJ):

The "Judenrate" were the councils of Jewish collaborators who ran the Polish Ghettos for the Nazis. They also organised the lists of those who would be sent to the camps. Perhaps the most notorious traitor of all was Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, or "King Chaim", who was head of the Lodtz ghetto. Now it seems the Heritage Foundation, rightwing think-tank and bankroller, has found a latter-day King Chaim to help them promote their own anti-semitism.

Cue Heritage Foundation writer Burt Prelutsky, a Jewish rightwinger.

Continue reading The New Judenrate

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 7:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Dropping the Code-Word "Liberals" and Accusing Jews Directly

There has been a lot of talk in the blogosphere about "mainstreaming extremism" lately. That is Republicans injecting hard KKK stuff, disguised to sound more moderate, into mainstream outlets. The Republican charge that there is a "war on Christmas" is a prime example of this. Now we find out who they have been implying is behind this war - because they're dropping the code words and saying it out loud. Townhall.com :: Columns :: The Jewish Grinch who stole Christmas by Burt Prelutsky,

I never thought I’d live to see the day that Christmas would become a dirty word. You think it hasn’t? Then why is it that people are being prevented from saying it in polite society for fear that it will offend?

... How is it, one well might ask, that in a Christian nation this is happening?

... Although it seems a long time ago, it really wasn’t, that people who came here from other places made every attempt to fit in.

... When it comes to pushing the multicultural, anti-Christian, agenda, you find Jewish judges, Jewish journalists, and the ACLU, at the forefront.

... But the dirty little secret in America is that anti-Semitism is no longer a problem in society; it’s been replaced by a rampant anti-Christianity. For example, the hatred spewed towards George W. Bush has far less to do with his policies than it does with his religion. The Jews voice no concern when a Bill Clinton or a John Kerry makes a big production out of showing up at black Baptist churches or posing with Rev. Jesse Jackson because they understand that’s just politics. They only object to politicians attending church for religious reasons.

... It is the ACLU, which is overwhelmingly Jewish in terms of membership and funding, that is leading the attack against Christianity in America. It is they who have conned far too many people into believing that the phrase “separation of church and state” actually exists somewhere in the Constitution.

... I happen to despise bullies and bigots. I hate them when they represent the majority, but no less when, like Jews in America, they represent an infinitesimal minority.

I am getting the idea that too many Jews won’t be happy until they pull off their own version of the Spanish Inquisition, forcing Christians to either deny their faith and convert to agnosticism or suffer the consequences.

Heritage's TownHall is central to the whole Right Wing Noise Machine. Heritage Foundation is the hub of the "conservative movement" that now controls the Republican Party. The Christian Right has learned to use code words to disguise the anti-semitism at the core of their movement, but here they just come out and say it.

You think I've been kidding when I say that "liberal media" comes straight out of the old far-right "Jew media" and "Jew York Times" stuff? "Liberal" and "Jew" used to be interchangable words for the Right. They have always been able to talk about the ACLU to get votes in the South, but here you see what they have meant.

So do you think President Bush or any Republican leader will condemn this now? Are you kidding? He is more likely to give a speech at the Heritage Foundation than condemn them. He is more likely to send his Vice President to appear on a stage with the author of this piece. That's how they do it.

Note - See also
More About the Right Targetting Jews
and
Does Bush Support Right-Wing Attacks On Jews?


Update Other blogs have also picked up on this:
Roger Ailes
Brilliant at Breakfast
Julien's List
Left in the West
First Draft
Atrios
Supreme Irony of Life
Fiat Lux
Pandagon
The News Blog
The Happy Feminist
Enhidne of the Snakes
NewsHog
Kentucky Democrat

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:14 AM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 7, 2005

Absolute Corruption

The Left Coaster: Profiting From Katrina - It's All In The Family links to yet another example.

Governor's Relative Is Big Contract Winner,

Rosemary Barbour happens to be married to a nephew of Mississippi's governor, Haley Barbour. Since the Reagan administration, when Mrs. Barbour worked as a White House volunteer as a college student, she has been active in the Republican Party.

She also happens to be one of the biggest Mississippi-based winners of federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

... But the $6.4 million in contracts received by her company, Alcatec L.L.C., have also elicited questions about possible favoritism.

Federal records show that the company has won at least 10 separate contracts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the General Services Administration to install and maintain showers for relief workers and evacuees, to deliver tents, and to provide laundry equipment. The most valuable were awarded in September and October without competitive bidding, the records show.

According to a review of federal contracts awarded since Hurricane Katrina, her company ranks seventh in total contracts out of 88 Mississippi-based concerns that have received deals worth $100,000 or more.

How much of the money gets shuttled to over The Party as kickbacks? As Bush says, IT'S YOUR MONEY!

P.S. Barbour also used to be Chair of the Republican Party.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:46 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Iraq - Withdrawal or What?

In my posts about Iraq there was a point that was not clear. In What Do We Do About Iraq? 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.
But I also said that because we did we have an obligation to protect the people of Iraq from civil war, chaos, starvation, etc. as well as an obligation to rebuild the infrastructure we destroyed.

Let me clear something up. I think that the United States should not be in Iraq. I think we all agree on that. But I also don't advocate that we "just leave" and here is why.

I don't think we have, or will have for some time, political leadership capable of handling this situation. In fact, our leadership is making matters worse. Torture, death squads, corruption, hidden agendas, screwups and the fact that their primary motivation is personal power not the country's interests all show their failures.

What can we - you and I who share Seeing the Forest - do about this? Very little. In fact, nothing of consequence to what happens in Iraq. But what is the RIGHT thing to happen next? If there's nothing we can do, we can at least advocate the RIGHT thing.

The things we are for and against still have consequences, if only to ourselves, to our own humanity. For example, NY Times columnist recently wrote that if the Sunnis in Iraq won't go along with the majority results in the elections there, we should arm the Shiites and let them take care of the Sunnis. He wrote,

"If [the Sunni] come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible. If they won't, then we are wasting our time. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind."
So think about that - he is advocating genocide.

Similarly, if you or I advocate just leaving Iraq, knowing full well that it might result in a civil war, we are accepting similar results. And that must have some effect, somehow, on us. I am not a religious person, but I think people are harmed inside somehow when they allow themselves to be desensitized to such a point.

We can advocate just leaving, or anything else, and in a country controlled by the "conservative movement." the real-world effect of our advocacy will be the same: "Shut up and go away." So I think that the right thing to happen would be for the world to send in enough troops to stabilize the country and keep the peace while Iraq builds the institutions of justice required to moderate the tensions. No matter how long it takes, or how much that would cost. That is what I advocate. This is why I do not say we should "just leave."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:03 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Balance and Democracy

Josh at Talking Points Memo found a great example of what's gone wrong with our country's news media. Reporting on the unfolding Republican corruption scandal, Washington Post's Chris Cillizza included a list of Republicans caught with their hands in the cookie jar. After he submitted the story an editor added a Democrat who had resigned from Congress to the list, even though the Democrat's transgression occurred before the timeline of the story, and even occurred before the Democrat had run for office in the first place. (And, of course, Republicans who committed crimes during the older timeline were not included.) The explanation was that this was done "for balance."

The result of this "balance" was that any possibility of the public being alerted to a corrupt organization polluting our politics was removed. Instead the public again hears the right-wing conventional wisdom that "they all do it." Which, by the way, translates to "don't to even vote."

Earlier today I wrote that an informed public is the necessary foundation for a functioning democracy. (You're going to be hearing a lot about democracy and commuity from me.) The editor that changed the story should be fired for crimes against democracy.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:58 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Pre-Order Markos and Jerome's Book 'Crashing The Gate'

Daily Kos: Crashing the Gate, pre-sales,

The regular edition of the book will be in book stores in March. But we are printing a Progressive Partners Special Edition for the pre-sale period. We have 10,000 copies of this edition, which will ship three weeks before the book appears in book stores.

So what do you get for pre-ordering three months in advance?

1. You get the book early
2. You help debut the book on Bestseller list
3. You help fund the book's marketing efforts
4. You help support independent progressive media and institutions
5. You get the limited special edition version of the book

Read about it there, then Order here. (Their order site, not mine.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:17 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Global Warming

Last night I attended a 90-minute presentation by Al Gore on the subject of global warming. I don't have time to write about it this morning (pesky day job) but the article linked here covers it pretty well. It was an extraordinary event, attended by many of Silicon Valley's business leaders, like Steve Jobs, the Google guys. It was a terrific presentation but terrifying. It is truly the most important issue facing us. For example, the glaciers are melting, and the Himalayan glaciers provide water to 40% of the Asian population.

After seeing Gore's presentation I worry that we just might be entering a "runaway" scenario, where the melting of the tundra in Siberia is releasing so much CO2 that we won't be able to stop this. But we should be trying. Instead our government is making it worse, and laughing about it.

One of the most import points Gore made was that there is not a single scientist or study that disputes that human activity is dramatically increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and that this creates a greenhouse effect that warms the planet. BUT 53% of all newspaper stories surveys said there is dispute or controversy. This shows the power of the Right's machine to influence the information that people receive. And an informed public is the necessary foundation for a functioning democracy.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:48 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Too Much Free Time

Someone has way too much free time.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:35 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Another Corporate Crime - Little Discussed

This is about crime.

Labor Blog: Anti-Unionism is the Date Rape of Corporate Crime,

Even most liberals deny anti-union crime is widespread or deny that it's even a serious crime at all and anyways the folks doing it are such swell people, we can't expect us to like treat them like criminals, do you? If unions have been decimated in American workplaces, it's must really be their fault-- they must have been asking for it.

[. . .] As this study highlights, a typical union organizing drive starts with a majority of workers signing cards in support of having a union. Yet in the course of the elections, corporations embark on full-scale illegal assault on their workforce: # 30% of employers fire pro-union workers. # 49% of employers threaten to close a worksite when workers try to form a union. # 51% of employers coerce workers into opposing unions with selective bribery or favoritism.
All of these are illegal. They are crimes. And they have costs - loss of health care, pensions, lower pay, less vacation time, longer hours...

Go read the rest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:59 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 6, 2005

Something to Think About

The Right's network of PR "think tank" organizations spends over $400 million a year to influence public opinion and support the Republican Party. This money is outside of the election cycle and outside of what is considered political spending. And look at what they have been able to accomplish. (Maybe the right way to put that is, "look what they have been able to tear apart.")

If ten million Progressives gave just $100 each per year, that would be one billion dollars we could use to fight back with. Or, if one million gave about $80 per month.

In 2004 John Kerry received more than 57 million votes.

I'm just sayin'.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:19 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Orange County is ROCKING!

Gary's report is from CA-48, where Steve Young is hoping for an upset in a special Congressional election today. Gary is working to help get out the vote. -- DJ

Well we had about 150 people turn out to walk precincts, hang literature and knock on doors. If someone is home we ask them if they've voted yet and if not why not. By the end of the day we will have put in approximately 600 manhours walking precincts in CA-48.


We started going out at 7:00 A.M. to stand on corners at busy intersections holding up Steve Young signs. I went down to the intersection of Bryan Ave & Jamboree Road with Willie and Miriam. After a short while I got bored .  .  .

So I went back to my car and got a black and red magic marker and turned my Steve Young sign inside out. I made a new and improved sign that said in very large letters:


BUCK

FUSH


which is exactly what the t-shirt I am wearing says. I held my sign up as high over my head as I could. Miriam is an annatopia doppleganger and she ran across the street, jerked my sign out of my hands and in bright red letters wrote on the other side:


PLEASE VOTE TODAY


Some people's kids! That's not exactly what I would have written on the other side of my BUCK FUSH sign.


My sign was quite popular in Tustin. I got a roughly equal share of thumbs up and middle fingers. Nobody else could see which signal the driver of the vehicle was flashing. So no matter which signal I received, I help up my thumb very high and screamed:


YEEEEEAAAAHHHH BABY!


After about thirty minutes a very nice officer from the Tustin Police Department showed up. Apparently a couple of people had called them to complain about some joker holding up a vulgar sign. After about thirty minutes the nice police officer told Willie that he had to move from the median over to a corner. No problem.


I continued to hold my BUCK FUSH sign high over my head and give the thumbs up signal every time a motorist honked, gave me a thumbs up, or flipped me the bird.


Guess who got a ticket?


Willie!


After about thirty minutes Willie decided to change corners to catch more traffic. When the left turn signal for vehicles came on, Willie left the corner and about half way to the median, the little white guy lit up on the traffic signal and Willie continued across the intersection. The nice police officer gave Willie a ticket for crossing against the light.  


Would anyone care to guess what Willie's race is and why the nice police officer didn't say a word to the rude white guy holding up the BUCK FUSH sign?


As it turns out, Willie had a very similar problem in San Diego a couple of days ago. Willie was circulating a petition at a Ralph's grocery store. He was arrested and spent three days in jail.


Well, we're going out again about 2:30 and I'm definitely taking my BUCK FUSH sign with me. I'm not sure if Willie wants to go out with me again this afternoon. Willie may have had enough excitement for one week.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 2:20 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Great New Blog

Welcome Talk To Action | Reclaiming Citizenship, History, and Faith -- exploring and countering the agenda of the christian right.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:31 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Ford Conspires With Far-Right Against Gays, For Scalito

In case you didn't know, Ford Motor Company has made a deal with the far-right American Family Association to pull all of its ads from Gay media. What's next - denying health care and pensions? Firing all gay employees?

And, get this, the individuals at Ford are ex-White House, and are conducting meetings IN FORD OFFICES coordinating strategy on getting Scalito on the Supreme Court

Look to AMERICABlog for ongoing coverage of this story.

More today: Ford's Jaguar, Land Rover Brands End Ads In Gay Media

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

December 5, 2005

Right-Wing Intimidation

Nov. 22, CNN, College course seeks to debunk intelligent design, Proposed religion class labels creationism as 'mythology'

That KU professor may have apologized, but don’t rule out a witch hunt yet. When last I checked on Tuesday, preparations were well under way among Kansas conservatives.

A leading lawmaker called for special hearings and said she was interested in rooting out other faculty members like Paul Mirecki at that bastion of liberal thought, the University of Kansas.

“There are consequences to all of our actions,” State Rep. Brenda Landwehr of Wichita told me Tuesday as she explained why she wants to hold hearings before the House budget committee, of which she is vice chair.

Dec. 1, far-right WorldNetDaily. Religious studies professor slurs Christians, Jews,

The Harvard-educated Paul Mirecki serves as the head of the Religious Studies Department at Kansas University – at least for the time being. By the time a KU administrator finishes reading this article – much of the information revealed here for the first time – Mirecki's job may be in jeopardy.
Dec. 1, University of Kansas Delays Class on Creationism After Professor's Comments,
A University of Kansas class covering creationism and intelligent design that had been scheduled for the spring has been canceled and a professor who sent e-mails deriding Christianity and religious conservatives won't teach it if it's offered again, the university said Thursday.

Provost David Shulenburger granted professor Paul Mirecki's request to withdraw the class, originally called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies."

Dec. 2, WorldNutDaily, University kills anti-ID course,
Moved in no small part by articles in WorldNetDaily and a few other online publications, Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway effectively killed an anti-intelligent-design course planned for the spring.
Dec. 2, Answers in Genesis, Upholding the Authority of the Bible..., Kansas University intelligent design and creationism class canceled, Religious studies professor’s plan to mock Christians foiled ,
How sad that a university’s religious studies department has an “Evil Dr. P” leading (or rather misleading) the next generation. Although this is a secular college, is this what one would expect from the department of religious studies? This is just one example of how the battle zone in today’s cultural war can sometimes be blurred. Many times, the enemy can be found within. But what this professor meant for evil, God meant for good.
Today, Lawrence Journal World, Mirecki hospitalized after beating
Douglas County sheriff’s deputies are investigating the reported beating of a Kansas University professor who gained recent notoriety for his Internet tirades against Christian fundamentalists.

Kansas University religious studies professor Paul Mirecki reported he was beaten by two men about 6:40 a.m. today on a roadside in rural Douglas County. In a series of interviews late this afternoon, Mirecki said the men who beat him were making references to the controversy that has propelled him into the headlines in recent weeks.

“I didn’t know them, but I’m sure they knew me,” he said.

Today, Wichita Eagle, Mirecki treated at hospital after beating
... Mirecki reported he was attacked around 6:40 a.m. in rural Douglas County south of Lawrence. Mirecki told the Journal-World he was driving to breakfast when he noticed the men tailgating him in a pickup truck.

"I just pulled over hoping they would pass, and then they pulled up real close behind," he said. "They got out, and I made the mistake of getting out."

He said the men beat him on the head, shoulders and back with their fists, and possibly a metal object.

Wempe said Mirecki drove himself to the hospital after the attack.

Mirecki told the student newspaper, The University Daily Kansan, that he spent between three and four hours at the hospital. He said his injuries included a broken tooth.

Update - More, Wichita Eagle, Professor beaten; attackers cite KU creationism class

(Thanks to Kos diarist topicalstorm)

Update More at Carpetbagger Report, ACSBlog, Echidne of the Snakes and All Spin Zone.

A right-winger says there's no doubt the left will try to link this to his criticism of "fundies"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:30 PM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Who Are "The Democrats?"

I often write that "The Democrats" are the people who show up at local meetings and vote. There is a great diary at DailyKos today by a blogger who attended the recent Democratic National Committee (DNC) conference, and talks about some of the people there. Please read Daily Kos: Pulling Back the Curtain: Your DNC.

The Democratic Party is the people who show up at local meetings and vote. It is not some top-down corporate-run secretive conspiracy organization that issues commands that the rest must follow. Anyone who actually goes to local meetings would know that.

Even Thomas, the Green who blogs here, could quickly rise up and become one of the people who set policy for "The Democrats" if he wanted to.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:28 AM | Comments (8) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 4, 2005

Rape Victim Found Guilty

Update - The story is spreading as other blogs pick it up - see the updated bloglist at the end. Also see this at Shakespeare's Sister, hearing from rape survivors and this from Pacific Views pointing out that the legal age of consent in Oregon is 18, but this Kos diary that explains why that doesn't apply.

The original story:

This one is beyond belief. A judge decides that since he doesn't know who to believe he'll convict the woman for filing the charges in the first place.

Judge rules teen filed false report in rape case,

After a day-and-a-half trial, Municipal Judge Peter A. Ackerman on Friday convicted the woman of filing a false police report, a class-C misdemeanor. Ackerman explained his decision, saying there were many inconsistencies in the stories of the four, but that he found the young men to be more credible. He also said he relied on the testimony of a Beaverton police detective and the woman's friends who said she did not act traumatized in the days following the incident.

[. . .] The woman, who was 17 at the time of the April 30, 2004, incident, testified Friday that she was attacked by an 18-year-old boyfriend and his two friends. She said she was in the boyfriend's bedroom preparing to go to a party when she was sexually assaulted by the men. The three men testified Thursday that the acts were consensual and at the girl's initiation.

Kevin at American Street has more.

Read the whole thing. Just beyond belief.

Update - Shakespeare's Sister has picked up on the story - also here now with a list of blogs covering this - and we're starting to get other bloggers bringing this to people's attention. Maybe we can get something done about this outrage.

More bloggers:

Bark Bark Woof Woof

The Heretik
Running Scared
Ded Space
Alternate Brain
Radioactive Quill
Feministe
Once Upon a Time
Science and Politics
Ezra Klein
evolution
Liberty Street
Pandagon
Political Animal
Blondsense
The Countess
Suburban Guerilla
Left Coaster
Wonderland or Not
Crooks and Liars
King of Zembla
Newshog
Lawyers Guns and Money
Majikthise
Pam's House Blend
Loaded Mouth
Agitprop
Night Bird's Fountain
Pacific Views
Digby
Bitch Ph.D.
Outside the Beltway (warning, right-wing perspetive)
Cafe Politico

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:06 PM | Comments (20) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Case For Cutting And Running

Nir Rosen has a very short article in The Atlantic Monthly that has been overshadowed by James Fallows' article Why Iraq Has No Army. (subscription only) Excerpts here.

Nir Rosen has written an article that answers every single potential catastrophic outcome in the parade of horribles that area trotted out as reasons America cannot possibly withdraw from Iraq. Nir Rosen's article is titled HYPOTHETICALS: If America Left Iraq: The case for cutting and running.

With only a closing comment on my part, the bulk of the article is reproduced after the break.

[Update 12/06: Pulled up from the comments, Roger Blayne has a good analysis of the very real possibility that Iraq will become a failed state regardless of whether the U.S. stays or withdraws at RPayneblogspot. Check it out.]

If the people the U.S. military is ostensibly protecting want it to go, why do the soldiers stay? The most common answer is that it would be irresponsible for the United States to depart before some measure of peace has been assured. The American presence, this argument goes is the only thing keeping Iraq from an all-out civil war that could take millions of lives and would profoundly destabilize the region. But is that really the case? Let’s consider the key questions surrounding the prospect of an imminent American withdrawal.

Would the withdrawal of U.S troops ignite a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites?

No. That civil war is already under way—in large part because of the American presence. The longer the United States stays, the more it fuels Sunni hostility toward Shiite “collaborators.” Were America not in Iraq, Sunni leaders could negotiate and participate without fear that they themselves would be branded traitors and collaborators by their constituents. Sunni leaders have said this in official public statements; leaders of the resistance have told me the same thing in private. The Iraqi government, which is currently dominated by Shiites, would lose its quisling stigma. Iraq’s security forces, also primarily Shiite, would no longer be working on behalf of foreign infidels against fellow Iraqis, but would be able to function independtely and recruit Sunnis to a truly national force. The mere announcement of an intended U.S. withdrawal would allow Sunnis to come to the table and participate in defining the new Iraq.

But if American troops aren’t in Baghdad, what’s to stop the Sunnis from launching an assault and seizing control of the city?

Sunni forces could not mount such an assault. The preponderance of power now lies with the majority Shiites and the Kurds, and the Sunnis know this. Sunni fighters wield only small arms and explosives, not Saddam’s tanks and helicopters and are very weak compared with the cohesive, better armed and numerically superior Shiite and Kurdish militias. Most important, Iraqi nationalism—not intramural rivalry—is the chief motivator for both Shiites and Sunnis. Most insurgency groups view themselves as waging a muqawama--a resistance—rather than a jihad. This is evident in their names and in their propaganda. For instance, the units commanded by the Association of Muslim Scholars are named after the 1920 revolt against the British. Others have names such as Iraqi Islamic Army and Flame of Iraq. They display the Iraqi flag rather than a flag of jihad. Insurgent attacks are meant primarily to punish those who have collaborated with the Americans and to deter future collaboration.

Wouldn’t a U.S. withdrawal emobolden the insurgency?

No. If the occupation were to end, so, too, would the insurgency. After all, what the resistance movement has been resisting is the occupation. Who would the insurgents fight if the enemy left? When I asked Sunni Arab fighters and theclerics who support them why they were fighting, they all gave me the same one-word answer: intiqaam revenge. Revenge for the destruction of their homes, for the shame they felt when Americans forced them to the ground and stepped on them, for the killing of their friends and relatives by U.S. soldiers either in combat or during raids.

But what about the foreign jihadi element of the resistance? Wouldn't it be empowered by a U.S. withdrawal?

The foreign jihadi element—commanded by the likes of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—is numerically insignificant; the bulk of the resistance has no connection to al-Qaeda or its offshoots. (Zarqawi and his followers have benefited greatly from U.S. propaganda blaming him for all attacks in Iraq, because he is now seen by Arabs around the world as more powerful than he is; we have been his best recruiting tool.) It is true that the Sunni resistance welcomed the foreign fighters (and to some extent still do), because they were far more willing to die than indigenous Iraqis were. But what Zarqawi wants fundamentally conflicts with what Iraqi Sunnis want: Zarqawi seeks re-establishment of the Muslim caliphate and a Manichean confrontation with infidels around the world, to last until Judgment Day; the mainstream Iraqi resistance just wants the Americans out. If U.S. forces were to leave, the foreigners in Zarqawi's movement would find little support—and perhaps significant animosity—among Iraqi Sunnis, who want wealth and power, not jihad until death. They have already lost much of their support: many Iraqis have begun turning on them. In the heavily Shia Sadr City foreign jihadis had burning tires placed around their necks. The foreigners have not managed to establish themselves decisively in any large cities. Even at the height of their power in Fallujah they could control only one neighborhood, the Julan, and they were hated by the city's resistance council. Today foreign fighters hide in small villages and are used opportunistically by the nationalist resistance.

When the Americans depart and Sunnis join the Iraqi government, some of the foreign jihadis in Iraq may try to continue the struggle—but they will have committed enemies in both Baghdad and the Shiite south, and the entire Sunni triangle will be against them. They will have nowhere to hide. Nor can they merely take their battle to the West. The jihadis need a failed state like Iraq in which to operate. When they leave Iraq, they will be hounded by Arab and Western security agencies.

What about the Kurds? Won't they secede if the United States leaves?

Yes, but that's going to happen anyway. All Iraqi Kurds want an independent Kurdistan. They do not feel Iraqi. They've effectively had more than a decade of autonomy, thanks to the UN-imposed no-fly zone; they want nothing to do with the chaos that is Iraq. Kurdish independence is inevitable—and positive. (Few peoples on earth deserve a state more than the Kurds.) For the moment the Kurdish government in the north is officially participating in the federalist plan—but the Kurds are preparing for secession. They have their own troops, the peshmerga, thought to contain 50,000 to 100,000 fighters. They essentially control the oil city of Kirkuk. They also happen to be the most America-loving people I have ever met; their leaders openly seek to become, like Israel, a proxy for American interests. If what the United States wants is long-term bases in the region, the Kurds are its partners.

Would Turkey invade in response to a Kurdish secession?

For the moment Turkey is more concerned with EU membership than with Iraq's Kurds—who in any event have expressed no ambitions to expand into Turkey. Iraq's Kurds speak a dialect different from Turkey's, and, in fact, have a history of animosity toward Turkish Kurds. Besides, Turkey, as a member of NATO, would be reluctant to attack in defiance of the United States. Turkey would be satisfied with guarantees that it would have continued access to Kurdish oil and trade and that Iraqi Kurds would not incite rebellion in Turkey.

Would Iran effectively take over Iraq?

No. Iraqis are fiercely nationalist—even the country's Shiites resent Iranian meddling. (It is true that some Iraqi Shiites view Iran as an ally, because many of their leaders found safe haven there when exiled by Saddam—but thousands of other Iraqi Shiites experienced years of misery as prisoners of war in Iran.) Even in southeastern towns near the border I encountered only hostility toward Iran.

What about the goal of creating a secular democracy in Iraq that respects the rights of women and non-Muslims?

Give it up. It's not going to happen. Apart from the Kurds, who revel in their secularism, Iraqis overwhelmingly seek a Muslim state. Although Iraq may have been officially secular during the 1970s and 1980s, Saddam encouraged Islamism during the 1990s, and the difficulties of the past decades have strengthened the resurgence of Islam. In the absence of any other social institutions, the mosques and the clergy assumed the dominant role in Iraq following the invasion. Even Baathist resistance leaders told me they have returned to Islam to atone for their sins under Saddam. Most Shiites, too, follow one cleric or another. Ayatollah al-Sistani—supposedly a moderate—wants Islam to be the source of law. The invasion of Iraq has led to a theocracy, which can only grow more hostile to America as long as U.S. soldiers are present. Does Iraqi history offer any lessons?

The British occupation of Iraq, in the first half of the twentieth century, may be instructive. The British faced several uprisings and coups. The Iraqi government, then as now, was unable to suppress the rebels on its own and relied on the occupying military. In 1958, when the government the British helped install finally fell, those who had collaborated with them could find no popular support; some, including the former prime minister Nuri Said, were murdered and mutilated. Said had once been a respected figure, but he became tainted by his collaboration with the British. That year, when revolutionary officers overthrew the government, Said disguised himself as a woman and tried to escape. He was discovered, shot in the head, and buried. The next day a mob dug up his corpse and dragged it through the street—an act that would be repeated so often in Iraq that it earned its own word: sahil. With the British-sponsored government gone, both Sunni and Shiite Arabs embraced the Iraqi identity. The Kurds still resent the British perfidy that made them part of Iraq.

What can the United States do to repair Iraq?

There is no panacea. Iraq is a destroyed and fissiparous country. Iranians and Saudis I've spoken to worry that it might be impossible to keep Iraq from disintegrating. But they agree that the best hope of avoiding this scenario is if the United States leaves; perhaps then Iraqi nationalism will keep at least the Arabs united. The sooner America withdraws and allows Iraqis to assume control of their own country, the better the chances that Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari won't face sahil. It may be decades before Iraq recovers from the current maelstrom. By then its borders may be different, its vaunted secularism a distant relic. But a continued U.S. occupation can only get in the way.

Bottom line: The parade of horribles that reactionary warmongers from both parties trot out to justify Bush's immoral and illegal war in Iraq are no more than fairy tales created to intimidate political opponents into silence. Jack Murtha and Russ Feingold are exactly right. America should immediately initiate plans for withdrawal from Iraq as soon as praticable. Americans should not be reading articles about The Death Of A Soldier for a war that American never should have started and Bush has already lost.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:48 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 3, 2005

Moon Bush

There's a diary at Kos, Neil Bush is traveling with Sun Myung Moon, here's what they are doing, that I recomend for everyone to read. It's important to know about the connections between the Right and the Moonies. Not as joke. And expecially the Bush family. Again - not a joke. I haven't done any research into this, except what I have come across, and someone needs to consolidate the research that has been done and pin the Republicans down on their associations with Moon.

GO read the diary and remember to hit the recommend button.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:51 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Excellent Steve Young Portrait In The O.C. Register

Long Shot In 48th Is In It For The Long Haul: Democrat Steve Young is trailing in his bid for Congress, but he's bent on having his issues heard.

It's hard to imagine what more Democrat Steve Young could do to attract attention for Tuesday's special congressional election.

He's been campaigning full time since July, he has an immigration plan to launch a thousand cocktail conversations, he's shown up at virtually every coffee klatch and forum he could find, and he's joined volunteers in knocking on thousands of voters' doors.

Steve Young has been doing everything he could and so have his volunteers in Orange County and the netroots. Too bad he didn't get just a little financial help from the Democratic Party.

The hard, cold facts:

And come Election Day, he'll probably be breathing the exhaust of front-running Republican John Campbell.

Republicans outnumber Democrats nearly 2-1 in the 48th District, Campbell has been building name recognition since being elected to the Assembly in 2000, and Campbell has nearly 10 times as much campaign money.

And some well deserved praise for the new kid on the block:

"(Young) is a much higher-quality candidate than we usually have here," said Dennis Connolly, a Democratic activist who's lived in Laguna Niguel for 13 years. "He has the energy, he knows the issues and he's getting people involved. The question is whether we can break that hold of people who walk into the voting booth ready to vote for a Republican without looking at the issues.

Steve's motivation for running:

A clear alternative

Young jumped into the race promptly after Christopher Cox, the previous officeholder, was named to head the Securities and Exchange Commission last summer. Spurring the bid was a feeling that his four children's future was being squandered by trade bills that encouraged the export of middle-class jobs and by an education system that didn't better prepare students for high-quality jobs.

He has since developed policies in other areas that set him even further apart from Campbell and Gilchrist. Young favors abortion rights, wants to start pulling troops from Iraq, and says the illegal immigration problem has been blown out of proportion.

"It really bothers me the way politics is right now," he said. "We're blinded by anger, fear and hatred."

This is the good stuff:

After declaring his candidacy, Young won endorsements from the state and county Democratic parties - despite three other Democrats on the October primary ballot, including two who had run before with the local party's encouragement.

But unlike the others with their largely unfunded campaigns, Young promised to spend his own money and vowed a $1 million campaign - a big reason he became the party favorite. He easily won the nomination in October, although his 9 percent of the vote left him in fourth place overall and well behind Campbell's 45.5 percent.

Of course there were 17 primary candidates all told. Steve did not make the decision to get into this race lightly:

He has indeed spent his own money - $110,000 - but has only attracted $40,000 more in donations.

"We didn't get the support I expected," he now says. "(But) we're going to continue regardless of what happens Tuesday. We believe in what we're doing. *There's another election in November.*"

The article closes with an excellent summary of Steve's position on Illegal immigration:

Legalizing immigrants

The biggest issue in the race has become immigration, thanks to anti-illegal-immigration activist Gilchrist and to Campbell's effort to match Gilchrist on the matter.

Young doesn't see immigration as a big problem. But that hasn't stopped him from developing an unlikely immigration plan: Since immigrants typically pay $3,000 to be smuggled over the border, allow them to enter the country by paying that amount instead to immigration officials. Not only would that bolster the national Treasury, but it would create a program to photograph and fingerprint all immigrants, to administer health tests, and to track their whereabouts, Young said.

Because a key part of the problem is employers who hire undocumented immigrants, Young proposes a system where an illegal immigrant would be granted an immediate work visa if he goes to immigration officials with a paycheck from an employer who hired illegally. The employer would then be cited.

"(Gilchrist and Campbell) are demonizing a people who aren't responsible for the ills they're being accused of," he said. "They're a convenient, unprotected target."

Young believes immigrants are a net gain to the country's economy - while many pay taxes and Social Security, they rarely get benefits.

Working up such ideas fills much of the time he isn't actually campaigning. For now, he has set aside not only his law practice but also fantasy book writing - which he vows to return to, despite never having been published.

"There are things you do for the love of it," he said. "Things you do because they matter, regardless of the result."


Three days until the election. Let's keep the netroots hopping! Go to Steve Young For Congress and call the number. They'll hook you up to virtual phonebanking, or, if you're in driving distance, precinct walking. And of course, donations through Act Blue are VERY welcome! Thanks again.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 10:16 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 2, 2005

Worst President Ever

It's official.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:54 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Serial torturer in charge of Scooter Libby defense

John Gorenfeld just tipped me off to the fact that "Melvin Sembler, the teen abuse czar, is now in charge of the Scooter Libby defense campaign." He'll be talking about it this weekend on Air America's Ring of Fire. If you didn't click through when I posted about this previously, check out Part II of his interview with Mark Levine's Radio Inside Scoop, most of which consists of call ins from survivors of Sembler's gulag archipelago for American teens.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 3:46 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

"socialism on the cost side"

One of my friends (again, someone who should know better), sent me a Newsmax email spiel for Do As I Say (Not As I Do) : Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy, by Peter Schweizer (no, I'm not going to provide a link, why give this expletive deleted any business). I was curious about what the blogosphere had to say about it, so I did a search... so far, several pages into a Google search result, I came up with a big fat zero in terms of comment by anyone other than a few right wing blogs and a moderate or two. Fortunately, Amazon.com and Publisher's Weekly came to the rescue:

... many of his charges are egregiously hyperbolic, as when he suggests that Cornel West is a "segregationist" because he bought a home in a largely Caucasian suburb. Schweizer clearly knows the limitations of his argument, since he backpedals from many of his most damning statements in his closing remarks. For all its revelations, in the end, this volume reads less like a critique of liberal philosophy than a catalogue of ammunition for ad hominem bloggers.

That is all you need to know about the book. The real point of my posting, however, is this analytic gem from Robert E. Powell that I found in the comments. I took the title to this posting from it, click through to find out what Robert means by this (note: the bolding is mine).

[Schwizer]: "When a conservative fails to live up to his ideals, it's bad for him (drug addiction, gambling); but when a Leftist fails to live up to his ideals, it's GOOD for him (a bigger home, more financial security for his family)."


Now this is a great example of clever and deceptive logic. Why? Because there are two orthogonal axes of left vs. right: economic policy regarding markets and social policy regarding personal behavior. The economic policy spectrum goes from socialist to unregulated "free market." The social policy spectrum goes from libertarian "anything goes" to authoritarian state-regulated behavior. Note that the statement above shifts from personal behavior axis to the economic axis, comparing apples to oranges.


The appropriate example is to make economic comparisons on both sides:


When the conservative lives up to his ideals, it's good for him, but bad for everyone else. Conservatives call this "ideal," "economic freedom" with low regulation and taxes. But his "freedom" carries a price for everyone else because it externalizes the costs of doing business onto the public. That's redistribution of costs or, as I call it, "socialism on the cost side," which is far more prevalent than any redistribution of income. For example, the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) site estimates there's a 5-year $1.6 trillion national backlog of infrastructure projects: developers have externalized these costs onto the public to pay for the infrastructure that allows them to sell their product. Plus, each year Americans spend 8 billion hours stuck in traffic with lost productivity costs of $43 - $168B. And then there's the more obvious externality of pollution that causes economic damage, sickness, and death and public costs to clean up the mess. All of this is essentially theft.


On the economic front, when the liberal lives up to his ideals, it costs him; but it's better for everyone. That's because regulation prevents pollution and associated injury and death. And impact fees internalize the costs of growth so that "the market" can actually properly value choices.


On the social axis: When social conservatives live up to their ideals, there's coercion: imposing their "values" on others. When social liberals live up to their ideals, there's freedom: "live and let live."




Brilliant, eh? This is a classic libertarian ("liberal" in the old sense of the word) analysis that deconstructs the fake "free market" ideology of the economically darwinian right, whose analysis never takes into account public goods, the common good of society as a whole, or externalities.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:22 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Dumbass American Public

I got a chain letter in my email inbox today, from someone who should know better (she later sent me a correction)...

I won't go into the details of the content, but it basically rewrote history by having Senator Al Gore quiz Ollie North (during the Iran-Contra hearings, in 1987 - note the date) about an alarm system that had been installed in his house, and North reply that it was put there to protect him as a result fo a death threat against him by Osama Bin Ladin (that's the gist of it), "the most evil person alive that I know of", and recommend that he be assassinated (a recommendation that was obviously ignored).

The truth? While North did get quizzed about an alarm system during the Iran-Contra hearings, but it wasn't by a seantor, it was by committee counsel (John Nields), and Al Gore wasn't even on the committee doing the questioning. North did mention a terrorist, but it was Abu Nidal (remember him?), not Osama Bin Ladin. In 1987, Osama was one of "our guys", fighting against the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan with the aid and abbetance of the CIA, etc. He didn't get pissed off at us until we filled Saudi Arabia with American bases and American citizens during the first Gulf War in 1990/91.

Nevertheless, years after this was debunked (including by Ollie North himself), it is still circulating - even being passed on by folks like ourselves!, and no doubt, millions of Americans are convinced that Ollie North pinned Osama as a bad guy in 1987 and that Al Gore and the rest of the bad Democratic Party establishment foolishly ignored his advice to assassinate him. Depressing.

How do we stop this? How do we quit rewriting history, and undermining ourselves in the process, by forwarding on chain letters with transparently negative political messages?

Here are some tips:

1. Does the letter make some significant figure from our side look bad or foolish? Don't pass it on. Even something that even handedly trashes all sides is a loser for our side, and a winner for theirs. I guarantee you that, come 2007/2008, there will be apparently innocuous emails floating around the net that have jokes trashing Limbaugh and other easy targets, and jibes targeting the front runner in both parties. The problem with this? If you read them carefully, you'll see that the joke(s) targeting the Democratic Party's front runner echo(es) the primary talking points being used by his opposition, and the joke(s) targeting the Republican Party's nominee don't.

2. Does it make someone from "our side" look bad, and someone from their side look good? That should be a major red flag. What goal or opinion does the email foster? If it isn't one you agree with, don't pass it on.

3. Always, always, always check out it out by either Googling it (typing "osama bin ladin 1987 north" produced a whole string of hits debunking the email) or going directly to one of these sites

http://www.snopes.com/

http://urbanlegends.about.com/

http://www.breakthechain.org/

4. Knowing your history helps. One of the most obvious red flags was that the timeline for Osama's involvement was wrong. If it doesn't jibe with what you think you know, it is probably wrong.

5. Think! Think about the meme being fostered by the email in question, the underlying message - is it one you favor? Strongly? No? Don't forward it!

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:39 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Steve Young Interview On KABC This Hour

Congressional Candidate Steve Young is going to be on KABC sometime this hour. linked text

Doug McIntyre is a conservative talk show host with a difference. I refer to Doug as a Lou Dobbs conservative and he is a principled interviewer. Two days ago Doug ripped into a right wingnut religious conservative wacko, because their complaint about a boycott against Target had no merit.

Doug is tough and fair with all of his guests. Tune in

Posted at 7:33 A.M. PST

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 7:21 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

December 1, 2005

Ann Coulter Arrested For Baby-Murder!

Oliver Willis has the story.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:04 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The President of (Half of) the United States of America

Bush has decided to only be President of half of the country. The Republican half. Democrats need not apply for citizenship in Bush's America.

For example, this from YOUR GOVERNMENT: White House calls Democrats irresponsible on Iraq.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:14 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

White Phosphorous - The Rest Of The Story

As it turns out, white phosphorous is not a chemical weapon. Not surprisingly, even when they're right (sort of) they are wrong and have turned a technical distinction into a broad based vitriolic smear against political and ideological opponents. As Dave is fond of saying It's What They Do.

The moral issues were clarified in an L.A. Times editorial this morning, but first I’d like to examine the question of just exactly what type of weapon white phosphorous really is.

What is a chemical weapon?

Under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) chemicals are divided into three groups, defining their purpose and treatment:

* Schedule One Chemicals are those typically used in weapons such as sarin and mustard gas and tabun;

* Schedule Two Chemicals include those that can be used in weapons such as amiton and BZ;

* Schedule Three Chemicals include the least toxic substances that can be used for research and the production of medicine, dyes, textiles, etc.

Nope. No white phosphorous there. Let's check the U.S. Chemical Weapons Convention website. I'm no chemist, so I can't say whether the chemical compounds composed of phosphoramidocyanidates or phosphonothiolates, which are listed under the category of Schedule One Chemicals, have anything to do with phosphorous itself.

Let's keep looking. Schedule Two Chemicals also include phosphorothiolate as an ingredient of the chemical weapon Amiton and phosphorous is listed as a precursor element for various chemical weapons.

Now that we have a general idea what chemical weapons are, let's get specific and ask What Is White Phosphorous? According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), white phosphorous is:

a colorless, white, or yellow waxy solid with a garlic-like odor. It does not occur naturally, but is manufactured from phosphate rocks.

White phosphorus reacts rapidly with oxygen, easily catching fire at temperatures 10 to 15 degrees above room temperature.

White phosphorus is used by the military in various types of ammunition, and to produce smoke for concealing troop movements and identifying targets.

It is also used by industry to produce phosphoric acid and other chemicals for use in fertilizers, food additives, and cleaning compounds. Small amounts of white phosphorus were used in the past in pesticides and fireworks.

Interesting. A chemical compound that catches fire at 10 to 15 degrees above room temperature. That's very flammable indeed. The answer to what kind of military weapon white phosphorous can be used as is provided by the good folks at Global Security.org who inform us that phosphorous is a chemical used as an incendiary weapon:

The main incendiary agents are thermite (TH), magnesium (MG), white phosphorous (WP), and combustible hydrocarbons (including oils and thickened gasoline).

Thermite incendiaries are a mixture of powdered aluminium metal and ferric oxide and are used in bombs for attacks on armoured fighting vehicles. Thermite burns at about 2000°C and scatters molten metal, which may lodge in the skin producing small multiple deep burns.

Magnesium (Mg) burns at about 2000ºC with a scattering effect similar to that of thermite. Its particles produce deep burns.

At ordinary temperatures, white phosphorus (WP) is a solid which can be handled safely under water. When dry, it burns fiercely in air, producing a dense white smoke. Fragments of melted particles of the burning substance may become embedded in the skin of persons close to a bursting projectile, producing burns which are multiple, deep and variable in size. The fragments continue to burn unless oxygen is excluded by flooding or smothering.

Now that we have a litttle bit of background in the facts about chemical weapons and chemicals that are used as incendiary weapons, let's turn to Jonathan Tucker's editorial in today's L.A. Times. Tucker is a senior fellow at the Monterey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation Studies, is the author of War Of Nerves: Chemcial Warfare from World War I to Al-Qaeda. The L.A. Times titled his editorial The wrong weapon in the wrong place: The U.S. use of white phosphorus against insurgents in Iraq is immoral, counterproductive to our aims and has helped to solidify world opinion against us.

ONE OF THE MOST INDELIBLE images of the Vietnam War was of a naked, severely burned Vietnamese girl screaming in pain and terror as she ran down a road in 1972. The girl, Kim Phuc, had torn off her burning clothes after a South Vietnamese aircraft had mistakenly dropped an incendiary bomb containing napalm — jellied gasoline — on her home. The accidental use of this gruesome weapon against innocent civilians, immortalized in Nick Ut's iconic photograph, helped to turn world public opinion against the war.

Now, more than three decades later, the United States faces a storm of criticism, particularly overseas, over its use of another incendiary weapon, white phosphorus, against Iraqi insurgents during the battle for Fallouja in November 2004. Nicknamed WP or Willie Pete, white phosphorus ignites spontaneously when exposed to air and continues to burn fiercely unless deprived of oxygen. The incandescent particles stick to exposed skin, melting flesh down to the bone and producing third-degree chemical burns that, when not fatal, are excruciating and slow to heal.

There you have it. White phosphorous is not a chemical weapon. It is only a highly flammable chemical that can be used as a deadly incendiary weapon. I hope that STF readers are as relieved as I am to know that technically the U.S. military cannot be accused of using a chemical weapon in Iraq. Let's see what Jonathan Tucker has to say about the distinction:

First, the moral argument. A hallmark of civilized nations is the conviction that certain types of warfare are intolerable, either because they are indiscriminate and more likely to harm civilians than combatants, or because they inflict hideous and unnecessary suffering that is disproportionate to their military value. The prologue to the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which banned the use in war of chemical and biological weapons, stated that such weapons have been "justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilized world." Indeed, given the widely shared belief that warfare with poison gas and germs is taboo, the Geneva Protocol has achieved the status of customary international law, meaning it is legally binding even on states that have not signed and ratified it.

So far so good. What about white phosphorous?

Today, the United States is one of the very few Western democracies that have rejected treaties banning antipersonnel landmines and prohibiting the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm and white phosphorus in areas, including cities, where civilians are at risk. But Washington cannot evade its moral responsibility so easily. If the United States wishes to set an inspirational example for other countries, it must accept certain constraints on its own actions, even if that means renouncing weapons that have military utility in some situations.

As it turns out, the whole brouhaha about whether or not white phosphorous is a chemical weapons is a defense of the indefensible. As far as the moral arguments go, it does not make one whit of difference whether white phosphorous is classified as a chemical weapon or an incendiary weapon.

The second reason the U.S. use of white phosphorus is wrong is that it has undermined the administration's efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people and played into the hands of the insurgents. Employing an indiscriminate and inhumane weapon during urban warfare suggests a devaluing of innocent Iraqi lives, a perception that reinforces jihadist propaganda about the evils of the U.S. military occupation.

Shades of Abu Ghraib! The President who is so fond of talking about a culture of life and winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people has permitted the use of an inhumane weapon that devalues innocent Iraqi lives. Is anyone surprised?

Finally, the U.S. refusal to be bound by the international ban on the use of white phosphorus in proximity to civilians reflects a double standard that the rest of the world finds unpersuasive and arrogant. Whether the white phosphorus was fired from artillery, as permitted by international practice, or dropped from a plane, which would not be permissible, may be of legal significance to the United States, but it is irrelevant to world public opinion or the basic moral acceptability of using such a weapon in an urban area.

Tucker isn't finished with our good President quite yet:

The Bush administration's most compelling rationale for the 2003 invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein had used poison gas in violation of the Geneva Protocol and that he was continuing to stockpile chemical and biological weapons in defiance of United Nations resolutions. It is therefore the height of hypocrisy for Washington to claim the right to employ white phosphorus in a manner that most of the civilized world considers illegitimate, while lecturing other countries about human rights.

Arguments of military necessity and legalistic evasions distract from the real issue, which is U.S. moral leadership. The shameful abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib, the scandal over covert CIA prisons overseas and the use of white phosphorus in Fallouja are all of a piece. They reflect the loss of a moral compass by this administration, which has turned the United States into a rogue state in the eyes of the world.

Bottom line: Not only is George Bush a failure as a President and a Commander-in-Chief, he is a moral failure as a man and as a human being.

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Raped - Tried For False Charge?

See The American Street : Update for Readers

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Voices from the Frontlines

Jay Shaft of the Coalition For Free Thought In Media sent me a pointer to his latest article, the bulk of which consists of three letters from pissed off Iraq veterans with PTSD. These are first person accounts of what the soldiers on the front lines are going through and having to put up with... and what they (if they survive), and their families will have to cope with for the rest of their lives. Some majorly f*cked up sh*t. Stuff you don't hear about in your local newspaper. (and why is that?)

These guys are being sent back to Iraq... and they're not happy about it. One of them views himself as so screwed in the head that he's a danger to the men around him, and can't get anyone in the Army bureaucracy to take him seriously.

Reading through these letters, I suddenly get how so many soldiers qualify for disability, even though they might not have been directly in combat, or wounded. Not too many men or women can be expected to spend months on end living in the middle of a minefield, and come out whole and sane at the end of it. This is Vietnam all over again, only perhaps worse, since I don't get the impression that the Vietnamese were willing to blow themselves up to get off-duty American soldiers in an urban settting.

Truly, there is no "behind the lines" in Iraq.

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