February 28, 2006
Excerpts of interest from New Poll Of U.S. Soldiers in Iraq by John Zogby. It appears a majority of the soldiers on the ground want us out of Iraq now or within the next six months, and an overwhelming percentage think we should leave within the year.
A first-ever survey of U.S. troops on the ground fighting a war overseas has revealed surprising findings, not the least of which is that an overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year.
It also appears that the troops in Iraq are unaware of the fact that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11 and that Al Qaeda's presence in Iraq post-dates the invasion (one would think that the numbers might shift even more dramatically, if they did).
Nearly nine of every 10 - 85% - said the U.S. mission is "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks," while 77% said they believe the main or a major reason for the war was "to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq."
Reading a great post at The Sideshow triggered something I have been brewing over. From the post,
"...afterwards we'll have hand-wringing about how the Democrats failed to do this and that and the other thing."Let's think about what is meant here by the term "The Democrats?"
"The Republicans" sure are good at jumping on things, taking advantage, making noise, persuading people, and getting their way. But when we say "The Republicans" who and what do we mean? Are we talking about the Republican Party? Republican elected officials?
When the Republicans "jump on" an event and do such a good job of getting their persuasion-message out to the public, what are the details of how this is accomplished? Who does what? Who formulates the message? Who conducts the polling and focus groups? Who pays the people who organize the writing of op-eds for newspapers? Who calls the editors to place the op-eds? Who arranges for all the Ann Coulters to appear on all the conservative media shows? How is it all organized and coordinated? How is it all funded? Who pays all the Ann Coulters and all the "little people" working behind the scenes?
In other words, what is the structure of the Republican advantage? Is it all really just "The Republicans?" Do "The Republicans" pay Ann Coulter?
Or are we talking about something else? How much of this work is done by outside organizations like the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute and The Washington Times and Fox News and outside operatives non employed by The Party? The question expands: What is the organizational infrastructure behind the conservative advantage?
So, with all this in mind, when we complain about "The Democrats" what do we mean? We usually mean just that - the Democratic Party and Democratic elected officials. But isn't this misplaced blame? When you look at how the infrastructure of the "conservative movement" -- the Republican advantage -- operates, shouldn't our real complaint be, why isn't there a "progressive movement" infrastructure that does the same things?
I have something I call "The First Rule Of Stop Losing. From my 2004 ATLA speech,
"There's a simple path out of this. It's a variation on the first rule of holes – (which is stop digging.) I call it the first rule of stop losing. It's a simple rule: DO WHAT WORKS. If you are doing A, and losing again and again, and you see your opponent doing B, and winning, then figure out what B is and starting doing that.So how do we do that? The first thing we do is to study how the "conservative movement" grew up and took over the Republican Party. Study how their organizations are designed and funded, how they operate and interact, and especially how they communicate with the public, what they say, how they structure their messages. Also, study how their organizations coordinate to help candidates get elected, pass legislation, protect each other and persuade the public to support them.
And, we study how organizations aligned with progressives operate. What is it about the network of conservative organizations that makes them so efficient, and what is it about our that makes them so inefficient. (More on this later.)
And soon, more about the Progressive Roundtable.
This article, Re-engineering Iraq, and published by IEEE Spectrum, provides a fascinating inside look at the successes and failures and problems associated with the Iraqi reconstruction effort. It is a long, but definitely worthwhile read... unfiltered by "spin" from one side or the other. After reading it, you'll be a lot more educated on the nature of the task at hand.
In science you study what happens. In ideology you talk about what you wish would happen. One DEscribes, the other PREscribes.
The Wrath of the Free Market God takes a look at what actually happens when right-wing economic ideology is implemented. Enron, concentration of wealth, corporatization and the Dubai Ports deal.
Make no mistake what is happening. The Globalists are attempting to replace the nation/state with corporate hegemony. In many respects they have already succeeded. Our democracy has been subverted not by dictatorial government takeover, but by the stealth usurpation through a shadowy pay to play scheme. Instead of the traditional coup by military means, an army of corporate lobbyists has descended upon Washington with decidedly similar results.Now, to be fair, I will grant that what we have with countries like China certainly is not free trade. China "pegs" its currency - and Bush lets them. This means that everything made in China costs about half as much as it should, and everything we make costs Chinese consuers about twice what it should. And our trade with most other countries is certainly not "free" because they by-and-large subsidize industries, don't allow unions or environmental laws, or so many other non-free-trade violations that you can't keep up And Republicans let them all get away with it in the name of free-market ideology.
But, of course, that's the real world, and that's the point. REAL people take advantage when you let them. That's where DEscribing what people actually do interferes with right-wing ideological dreams of what people should do. People SHOULD get ponies. But what really happens is we get poorer, lose our health insurance, lose our pensions, lose our manufacturing infrastructure and lose our democracy.
I left a comment to a Thomas' post about the Greens, and decided it is worth promoting to the front page. I believe in the "open-source think tank" concept of blogs -- a place where ideas can be introduced, discussed and refined. Here is my take on the Greens.
Anything that divides the opposition is good news for the Republicans.
If you care about what is happening to the people in Iraq, or the environment, or so many things we all care about you would understand the need to band together to fight against the Right.
This is a crucial period, with the Right consolidating power. Every single one of us must stand TOGETHER to fight them. They mean to foment war across the Middle East. They mean to end our democracy and begin an era of corporate control over our lives. And they clearly mean to do this under the auspices of a theocracy.
If you care about what is happening you will recognize the need to hold together and present a unified front. The labor movement learned this the hard way - union and solidarity are not just words, they have meaning. They LEARNED that standing together is the only power we have against the moneyed interests.
In the 2000 election, the stakes were just as high, but many people either did not realize it or did not care, and voted for Nader. Since then we have seen hundreds of thousands killed in Iraq, the looting of our natural and financial resources, and the beginnings of domestic repression. There is no "ignorance" excuse this time.
February 27, 2006
[You can read the "secret" twenty-two page memo authored by Mora, the subject of the article below. -Thomas]
by JANE MAYER
How an internal effort to ban the abuse and torture of detainees was thwarted.
Issue of 2006-02-27
One night this January, in a ceremony at the Officers’ Club at Fort
Myer, in Arlington, Virginia, which sits on a hill with a commanding
view across the Potomac River to the Washington Monument, Alberto J.
Mora, the outgoing general counsel of the United States Navy, stood next
to a podium in the club’s ballroom. A handsome gray-haired man in his
mid-fifties, he listened with a mixture of embarrassment and pride as
his colleagues toasted his impending departure. Amid the usual tributes
were some more pointed comments.
“Never has there been a counsel with more intellectual courage or
personal integrity,” David Brant, the former head of the Naval Criminal
Investigative Service, said. Brant added somewhat cryptically, “He
surprised us into doing the right thing.” Conspicuous for his silence
that night was Mora’s boss, William J. Haynes II, the general counsel of
the Department of Defense.
Back in Haynes’s office, on the third floor of the Pentagon, there was a
stack of papers chronicling a private battle that Mora had waged against
Haynes and other top Administration officials, challenging their tactics
in fighting terrorism. Some of the documents are classified and, despite
repeated requests from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee
and the Senate Judiciary Committee, have not been released. One
document, which is marked “secret” but is not classified, is a
twenty-two-page memo written by Mora. It shows that three years ago Mora
tried to halt what he saw as a disastrous and unlawful policy of
authorizing cruelty toward terror suspects.
[continued at URL above]
[ I received the item below on an internal Green Party mailing list. Byron De Lear is a candidate for Congress in Southern California - he's registered over 100 people into the Green Party in less than two weeks, including 15 Republicans! If every activist Green did the same, over three months, there'd be a seismic shift in American politics. -Thomas]
_A Migration Has Begun by Byron De Lear_
“Excuse me Ma’am? – are you registered to vote? I’m running for Congress.”
“Yes, we’re running a strong anti-war/peace campaign to stop this
tragedy unfolding in the Middle East… the problem of Global Warming is
an issue that the two corporate handled parties are not going to deal
with in any substantive way…”
A migration has begun, and disenfranchised voters from both parties and
all walks of life have taken a step away from their former party
affiliation and have become Greens.
A little more than two weeks ago I made the commitment to collect more
than 150 signatures of registered Greens in California’s 28^th
Congressional District, which runs from the Hollywood Hills, Studio
City, Sherman Oaks, and Encino through North Hollywood, Van Nuys and
includes Pacoima, Arleta, Panorama City and parts of San Fernando and
Well everybody we got the signatures!
We also succeeded in increasing the Green representation in California’s
28^th by 7% in a little more than two weeks.
With an initial 1577 registered Greens in the 28^th , we succeeded in
registering an additional 111 folks, and collected a total of 162
signatures for my in-lieu of petition. These 162 signatures count for my
ballot access and allow me to forego the $1621.00 candidate filing fee.
Instrumental in getting this piano moved were Eugene Hernandez, Ian
Roessle, Anitra Wetzel, Lisa Taylor, Rebecca Tobias, Jan Holle, Ted
Franks, Elliot Cohen, Derek Iverson, Christine Pinto, Lauren Bergher,
Linda Piera-Avila, Paul Lindblad, Bob Smith, Genevieve Marcus, Dave
English, Karen Hayes, Ceil Sorenson, John Paul Vera, Michael Rochmes and
Most of the effort to collect signatures had me tabling at Mission
College, LA Valley College, and Northridge University -- standing
outside two different Whole Foods locations, Trader Joes, the Studio
City Farmer’s Market, Seven Eleven and collecting new Green Party
registrants and signatures from the Sherman Oaks Galleria.
The most interesting trend started to emerge as there is less loyalty
among Americans to the two-party system today than in a very long time.
This led to about 15 Republicans flipping to the Green Party in addition
to some 90 Democrats and a handful of declined to state and independents.
My impression after the fact is that the general tenor out in the
zeitgeist wants a change, and we will endeavor to give it to them.
I am committed to this race, and look forward to working with you all to
get the Valley energized, excited and looking towards the differences
that sending a Green to DC would provide.
We are setting up our campaign office this week and finishing filling
out a slew of registration papers both local and federal.
Thank you for your generous support and efforts – and we will be in
touch with the latest info!
*In your service, *
*Byron De Lear *
*Congressional Campaign in Califonia's 28th District*
The backlog of unsold new homes reached a record level last month, as sales slipped despite the warmest January in more than 100 years.
The Commerce Department reported Monday that sales of new single-family homes dropped by 5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.233 million units last month.
That was the slowest pace since January 2005 and left the number of unsold homes at a record high of 528,000.
February 26, 2006
I am working on fixing the new problem where your comments are all smushed into one paragraph. Sorry.
Update - Multiple line comments are working now, but troll hats are gone. Still working on it - and there are some new comments that really deserve troll hats.
The Homeland Security Department objected at first to a United Arab Emirates company's taking over significant operations at six U.S. ports.
February 25, 2006
See this article in the Scotsman online, which states that Fukuyama has declared neoconservatism discredited and a failure, that "it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention [in Iraq] itself or the ideas animating it kindly", and that the movements' advocates are Leninists who "believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will.." Among other bon mots of note.
It appears that not all right wingers are completely immune to reality.
UPDATE: Just found an op ed in the New York Times authored by Fukuyama himself, entitled: After Neoconservatism.
I want to make a comment on the "UAE port deal" controversy. We invaded Iraq based on less evidence of al Queda and other terrorist ties than there is of UAE ties. Yet, the Bush crowd insists that we have nothing to worry about from handing control of our ports over to the UAE.
Let me make this clear: I am NOT saying that UAE is a terrorist state, or even a terrorist-supporting state, I am pointing out the fear-mongering nonsense that Bush and the right spew for the lying, fear-mongering manipulative propaganda nonsense it is. The Bush crowd has spent four years whipping Americans into a state of absolute fear and paranoia over anything to do with Islam, Arabs, etc. Now they reap what they have sown.
According to the Bush/right-wing narrative, the invasion of Iraq was justified because Iraqi "had ties" to al Queda hijackers many years before 9/11. For example,
President Bush yesterday defended his assertions that there was a relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, putting him at odds with this week's finding of the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission.See also here, here, here, here...
"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda: because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," Bush said after a Cabinet meeting. As evidence, he cited Iraqi intelligence officers' meeting with bin Laden in Sudan. "There's numerous contacts between the two," Bush said.
President George W. Bush calls the nation behind the port-security controversy a trusted ally, but the Sept. 11 commission offers another take - saying the CIA believed top United Arab Emirates officials had cozy relations with Osama bin Laden before 9/11.Which is it going to be, George? Do "ties to terrorists" mean we invade, or don't they matter? Or, maybe that wasn't it at all -- maybe there were other reasons we invaded Iraq -- reasons that you haven't shared with us? Was "ties to terrorism" just a cover-story? Your reasoning sure doesn't mean much when you want to do a business deal with UAE.
The United States even believed it had a lead on bin Laden two years before the attacks but passed up on an air strike to kill him.
The reason: fears of taking out UAE princes or other senior officials believed to be hosting bin Laden at a remote hunting camp in Afghanistan, the commission's report said.
February 24, 2006
Due to a massive increase in comment spam - they appear to have found a way around the spam filters - I'm implementing controls on comments again, for a little while. If you have commented before you are likely already approved. I can approve you as a commenter the first time - the coment will be held until I approve it -- or you can get a TypeKey account.
Please leave a comment to test if things are working.
This is temporary, I hope.
Update - troll hat is working now in the comments - go look in some of the comment threads. They are assigned on a comment-by-comment basis, and require me to edit the comment. It isn't automatic. Level 1 troll: , level 2 troll: , level 3 troll: (no hat, just gone.)
Update - by comment spam I mean ads for drugs, gambling sites, and really bad stuff. Wingnuts are welcome to comment here as long as they don't get abusive. But I am likely to put a troll hat on them. (By the way, posting obnoxious stuff just to get a troll hat is more likely to get you banned than get you a hat.)
the toxic stew of cherry picking, half truths, and outright misrepresentations currently being used to demonize the UAE as a virtual arm of al-Qaeda.Digby writes,
Like Pakistan, another close ally in the war on terror, the UAE have been playing both ends against the middle for a long time. We all understand that and accept it. They have to deal with the vicissitudes of their own political situation which doesn't always accrue to our benefit. Welcome to the real world where the black and white formulation of "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists" is shown as the bullshit it always was.I want to comment on what Kevin said, but to a different point.
What is this instinct to leap to the defense of the Right at every opportunity, "to be fair"? For how long have Bush and the Right been whipping the public into a frenzy of fear about Middle Easterners and making no distinctions at all - basically because they are brown. But something like this comes along that turns against Bush and people supposedly on "our side" are rushing in to say how wrong it is for us to assume that UAE would be any worse than anyone else at managing OUR PORTS??!! Maybe, maybe not, but SHUT UP!
Or I post something here about the Secret Service saying Cheney was drunk when he shot the guy in the face with a shotgun, and I get comments and e-mails about how no one should trust Capital Hill Blue. Well, The Drudge Report or NewsMax or the Moonies post crap every single day that you can't trust and IT gets repeated on local news broadcasts, radio shows, TV networks, you name it. And you don't see a lot of right-wingers complaining about how unfair that is, do you?
"To be perfectly fair, it's hardly all that unusual for an administration to deliberately mislead the public about matters of war and peace."That's FAIR? The Republicans lie and intimidate and illegally start a war and kill hundreds of thousands of people, and risk setting the region into chaos, but you want TO BE FAIR and say that everyone does it? The last people who did that were ... well, Iraq invading Kuwait. And before that, the people who did that were hung at Nuremberg. So how about JUST SHUT UP instead of being "fair?" SHEESH.
Karl Rove Punked Paul Hackett and his Followers by Hesiod. Go read. (And as with all Kos diaries, recommend if you want to bring it to wider attention.)
To be clear, Hackett would have been a GREAT candidate. He is a conservative Dem. Sherrod Brown is a Progressive Dem. I was neutral in that primary race. But now,
Whatever the truth of that charge is, Hackett is deliberately sabotaging Brown's Senatorial campaign.Here's the thing. If you aren't voting for a Democrat, you are helping put a Republican in. There is no way around that argument right now and it makes a huge difference to the world. If Republicans retain that seat it is one more vote for killing hundreds of thousands in Iraq and around the world, spying on us and calling us traitors, getting rid of pensions and health insurance, shipping jobs out of the country, killing off unions and all the other wonderful things Republicans bring. We must band together to fight the "conservative movement." After they're gone, then we can go after each other.
The outcry from Republicans over Bush's allowing the transfer of control of our ports to a company controlled by the government of the UAE has provoked the traditional Bush response -- he sent out people to call them traitors:
"If the furor over the port deal should go on, Mr. England said, it would give enemies of the United States aid and comfort: 'They want us to become distrustful, they want us to become paranoid and isolationist.
Matt Stoller at MyDD, Dissenting Redstaters: Bush Thinks You're Traitors,
I really hope that principled conservatives start to realize that there is a very unconservative set of threats coming from this administration, and that staying silent about this very unAmerican intimidation by the government is not conservative in the least.
Update - Just to be clear, when Bush sends people out to say that opposing this port deal "would give enemies of the United States aid and comfort" he is DIRECTLY accusing them of treason. The Consitution of the United States, Article III, Section 3, says,
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.When the President sends someone out to say, in the name of the United States government, that people "give enemies of the United States aid and comfort" it is extremely serious, it is a DIRECT accusation of treason against the United States, make no mistake about it.
An examination of Palm Beach County's electronic voting machine records from the 2004 election found possible tampering and tens of thousands of malfunctions and errors, a watchdog group said Thursday.Through Brad Blog.
... "I actually think there's enough votes in play in Florida that it's anybody's guess who actually won the presidential race," Harris added. "But with that said, there's no way to tell who the votes should have gone to."
February 23, 2006
It is a Dick Cheney world out there – a world where politicians and lobbyists hunt together, dine together, drink together, play together, pray together and prey together, all the while carving up the world according to their own interests.Go read.
... As great wealth has accumulated at the top, the rest of society has not been benefiting proportionally. In 1960 the gap between the top 20% and the bottom 20% was thirtyfold. Now it is seventy-five fold. Thirty years ago the average annual compensation of the top 100 chief executives in the country was 30 times the pay of the average worker. Today it is 1000 times the pay of the average worker.
... In the words of Louis Brandeis, one of the greatest of our Supreme Court justices: “You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy, but you cannot have both.”
... Since Bush was elected the number of lobbyists registered to do business in Washington has more than doubled. That’s 16,342 lobbyists in 2000 to 34,785 last year. Sixty-five lobbyists for every member of Congress.
The amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by nearly one hundred percent in that same period, according to The Washington Post, going up to anything from $20,000 to $40,000 a month. Starting salaries have risen to nearly $300,000 a year for the best-connected people, those leaving Congress or the administration.
The total spent per month by special interests wining, dining, and seducing federal officials is now nearly $200 million. Per month.
... A recent CBS news/New York Times poll found that 70% of Americans believe lobbyists bribing members of Congress is the way things work. Fifty seven percent thinks at least half of the members of Congress accept bribes or gifts that affect their votes. A Fox News poll reported that sixty five percent believe most elected officials in Washington make policy decisions or take actions on the basis of campaign contributions. Findings like these underscore the fact that ordinary people believe their bonds with democracy are not only stretched but sundered.
... There are, as I said, no victimless crimes in politics. The cost of corruption is passed on to you. When the government of the United States falls under the thumb of the powerful and privileged, regular folks get squashed.
... I have painted a bleak picture of democracy today. I believe it is a true picture. But it is not a hopeless picture. Something can be done about it.
Last time they had raided my aunts area, they took away four men on their street alone. Two of them were students in their early twenties- one a law student, and the other an engineering student, and the third man was a grandfather in his early sixties. There was no accusation, no problem- they were simply ordered outside, loaded up into a white pickup truck and driven away with a group of other men from the area. Their families haven’t heard from them since and they visit the morgue almost daily in anticipation of finding them dead.
February 22, 2006
I've said before that when I try to talk about the stuff that the Republicans are up to, to people who don't really follow the news, they think I'M the crazy person!
My wife and I share a house with a roommate who doesn't really follow the news. Today I told him that last week the Vice President of the United States shot a man in the face with a shotgun, and blamed the guy he shot, and then when he got out of the hospital the guy apologized for the pain he had caused the VP -- and then this week the President of the United States allowed our ports to be sold to a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates.
You should have seen how he looked at me.
This posting on Baghdad Burning about a "raid" gives me a vastly greater appreciation for, and understanding, of what the 4th Amendment (protection against "unreasonable searches and seizures") to the U.S. Constitution was put in place for.
This is not how you "win friends and influence people". Imagine if this were your home, or your neighborhood. Again... profoundly disturbing, even gut wrenching.
I'll be introducing this feature shortly. In two sizes.
Update - Well, I'll add it as soon as I can figure this out. Does anyone know enough about Movable Type to help?
Santa Cruz housing prices have already fallen from $785,000 to $729,500 since June!
Dick Cheney, kicked out of college for drinking, convicted twice for DUI, who says he "only had one beer" before shooting a guy in the face with a shotgun and then not following his friend to the hospital after, then described as fixing himself a cocktail after the shooting before going to a dinner party, and then using the Secret Service to keep the sherriff away until at least the next day...
Capitol Hill Blue - Secret Service agents say Cheney was drunk when he shot lawyer. Is this POSSIBLE???
A written report from Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Dick Cheney when he shot Texas lawyer Harry Whittington on a hunting outing two weeks ago says Cheney was "clearly inebriated" at the time of the shooting.
Never mind all the other stuff going on. Someone blew up the Askariyah shrine in Samarra, Shiites across the country are retaliating, Iran is balming the US, and things appear very close to coming apart there. One of the best places to learn about what is happening in Iraq is Informed Comment. Drop everything you are doing, go read.
There is a core question lurking under many blog posts I've been reading and conversations I've been having.
In the post Bush Above Law - Bush IS Law I wrote,
Republicans are saying that the Constitution gives Bush UNLIMITED power because we are, as they like to say, "at war." Keep in mind that they also say we will continue to be "at war" for decades.In the comments, Daniel asks the question:
If the president is above the law, what would stop him from canceling elections until his declared WAR is over?That's it. That's the central question here. Is it a hypothetical? They assert that Bush is above all laws, that the never-ending "war on terror" gives him the right - the responsibility - to do anything he feels is necessary, and that the only recourse we have is trust in his wisdom.
Suppose he decides that elections would be too disruptive to the war? What if he believes his own nonsense when he says things like Democrats "provide comfort to our adversaries" and decides he has to protect the country from the possibility of traitors taking charge? I mean, he says it, he sends others out to say it -- is it just possible he means it? At what point should we maybe take the hint?
Watch your backs.
JustOneMinute is all superior, because the cult is actually complaining about something Bush did. I say give it a few days - the cult leaders are working on it. Limbaugh is saying it's all just Dems being racists, and they're trying the "Bush didn't know" defense, etc. So does the veil lift? Of course not:
I think our initial knee-jerk response on this (mine included) was wrong.
I don't think that the possibility can be ruled out that Bush expects something from the Gulf States when he steps down as President in 2009. Reagan got two million for a one-day trip to Japan, and correcting for inflation I'd expect Bush to get ten million or more. Dubya's little-known brothers Neil and Marvin are already cashing in over there, as I recall. (The Bushes are not really rich by contemporary standards, and they always need help from their friends.)
There are many valid questions about Saudi and Gulf State sponsorship of Wahhabite fundamentalism globally, including support for al Qaeda. These questions have never been discussed or settled, but just hushed up with the chant "Michael Moore is Fat!"
Isn't this an example of what happens when the government runs continual big deficits and the balance of trade is bad? We have to sell something off to someone. We really can't afford to make the Saudis/Gulf States unhappy about anything anymore, because they're a cash cow, like the Chinese.
The original plan didn't necessarily seem all that bad to me, but the way that it was rushed through, and the boggling stiffness of Bush's defense, really should raise eyebrows. He never vetoes anything, but he'll veto this.
February 21, 2006
Before today the Republicans were sending surrogates around the country whipping up anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments. The right-wing, Bush-cult blogs were all lined up in anti-Islam frenzy. WE WERE AT WAR WITH EASTASIA!!!
But not today. Today we are at war with EURASIA! We have ALWAYS been at war with Eurasia! Today Democrats are racists for daring to question a Bush deal (even though it is largely Republicans who are questioning this.)
Rush this morning:
This is the first time in four years that I can recall a Democrat seriously being concerned about this group of people, and this is racism. This is racism. We are concluding that all Arabs are terrorists. We are concluding that every damn one of them -- be they a sheik, an emir -- they are all terrorists. They all have ties to terrorists and they all seek our utter, total destruction, and we can't risk an exception to that. They're all that way -- and welcome to racism Democrats, because the Democrats are leading the show on this just as well as a lot of conservatives are. So when Democrats are illustrating their racism, their xenophobia, they're also demonstrating that they fully acknowledge we have an enemy. Well, this is a tenuous position for them to take because their kook base doesn't believe any of this.
Over the last year Seth Farber of The Talking Dog, a lawyer himself, has interviewed five lawyers representing a total of seven men being held at Guantanamo.
It's depressing stuff, but well worth reading to get filled in on the details of the Bush regime's lawlessness. All legal restraints are being ignored: American civilian law, American military law, international law, and the Geneva Conventions. The Constitution is defied, and if I'm not mistaken these violations are not matters of nuances of interpretation, but touch on the main points that the American Revolution was all about: cruel and unusual punishment, habeus corpus, ex post facto laws, and bills of attainder.
Josh Colangelo Bryan (Jan 25, 2006), lawyer for Al Dossari, Salah Abdul Rasool Al Blooshi and Essa Al Murbati.
Baher Azmy (Jan 9 2006), lawyer for Murat Kernaz.
Josh Dratel (May 10, 2005), lawyer for David Hicks.
Donna Newman (April 19 2005), lawyer for Jose Padilla.
At Orcinus, The Conservative faith
The reality I think we're all seeing is that genuine conservatism has been usurped by a political religion in metastasis that is no longer conservative but simply power-mad. Communicating that to the public is going to be an essential problem for progressives in the coming campaigns, especially given the deep emotional and psychological investment in the movement that so many followers have made.
Republicans are saying that the Constitution gives Bush UNLIMITED power because we are, as they like to say, "at war." Keep in mind that they also say we will continue to be "at war" for decades.
I forget, are we at war with Eurasia or Oceania this year?
At Left I on the News, The "memogate" lie that will not die,
The assertion that Dan Rather was using "forged documents" is one of those lies that will not die. The fact is that CBS was unable to prove the authenticity of the documents; that is far from proof that they were forged (not to mention that the content of the memos was not only never seriously challenged, but indeed corroborated by other evidence).I was listening to Rush this morning, talking about how President Clinton gave missile secrets to the Chinese in exchange for campaign donations. Just a lie, but repeated and repeated and repeated. It is another strategic lie, taking the audience where the Right wants them.
Update, here's the transcript of Rush today:
In the case of the ChiComs, here's what the caller was talking about. This little Clinton administration history for you. There's a company called Loral Space out there, and it's headed up by -- I forget its name, but a huge, big-time Clinton donor; the kind of guy that would get a puff piece as a donor in the Washington Post as a bunch of Hillary donors got yesterday. All right? So this guy is involved in space technology, his company Loral is. Now, before the questionable deal came along, the state department dealt with the process of granting waivers to US companies to help companies or foreign governments that were not totally friendly with us. The Clinton people came in and took that away from the state department.Lies, repeated and repeated...
Well, I know why, but it doesn't seem to make any difference. They control that, too. They gave it the commerce. They switched that to the commerce department where good old Ron Brown was installed as the secretary, and bammo! The Chinese, the ChiComs, could not put a missile in orbit. They could launch it but they couldn't figure out how to get it to orbit. It would go up there and come down. Well, guess who fixed it? Loral Space! Loral Space sent some people over there after one of these crashes of a rocket that failed to secure orbit, examine the wreckage, and taught them about gyros and whatever is necessary, and now it is said that the ChiComs can actually put an intercontinental ballistic missile of some significant range that might hit close to the US left coast if they launched at us.
The Bush administration is imploding right now because of a series of scandals and policy failures -- Iraq, Katrina, drug benefit, Cheney, Abramoff, Plame, and more. There's really not much of anything Bush can do to change things, but a nice international emergency or terrorism attack would probably save him. We should all be very afraid.
Rove has already said that the Republicans will run on security. He's been known to float deceptive trial balloons, but I don't see what other choice the Republicans have by now. However, in order to juice up their domestic-security storyline, they need a dramatic event of some kind. The Commander in Chief has a lot of options for hotting up the situation, and provoking Iran is presumably at the top of his list.
All of the Democratic leaders should be thinking right now about how they will respond to whatever Bush ends up doing, and they should already be publicly stancing themselves in such a way as to make their later responses effective. Going along with Bush once he holds the initiative again cannot possibly be successful, but hand-waving opposition won't be either.
As far as I know, however, none of the leading Democrats is thinking this way, and none of them are prepared. They seem to be sitting and hoping that nothing big happens, and counting on the other issues to swing the fall elections.
Why is it that they are the wise experts, and I'm the marginal wacko? What I just said is all true and it all makes sense. Nonetheless, we can expect the well-paid Democratic Party professionals to be blindsided one more time in the next few months. There are a lot of trial balloons up already, and I expect something real in July or August.
(Adapted from a comment to this Crooked Timber thread.)
February 20, 2006
Go read MyDD :: Reporters: The Right-Wing Hates You and then send it to anyone you know who works in a news organization in any capacity.
Bloggers are talking about how to create a "change election."
My thinking is the public needs an ideological story about a problem that is causing them pain, a symbolic election-year focal point that illustrates how the ideology applies to the problem, and a simple way to fix the problem that hilites the story elements. As the story is unfolded, current events are utilized by explaining them in terms of the story and the solution.
An example of one story the Republicans used this way is government spending.
- The story was "tax and spend Democrats" representing a larger ideological story of do-gooder socialists in control of the government forcing righteous citizens to support lazy people who won't work
- The pain was described as taxes "taken" by Democrats to spend on people who don’t work
- The focal point event was the Congressional check-bouncing scandal illustrating how Democrats can't manage money.
- The solution was the "Line-Item Veto" and longer-term cutting "big government." This proposal focused on the concept of let the Republicans block the stuff the corrupt Democrats add to spending.
- Current events were worded into examples of excessive government spending that could be solved only with a line-item veto that electing Republicans would bring about.
But this was not just an election-time strategy. They kept at it. They used "tax-and-spend" and they didn't stop using it. That is why it works so well, becomes conventional wisdom.
I suggest developing a long-term story around the Culture of Corruption and Cronyism representing a larger progressive ideology of community and democracy – the people against the powerful, making rules and playing by them, influence-buying brought under control by an engaged community – vs right-wing ideology of greed, winner-take-all, power of aristocratic wealth dominating over the popular good.
The pain still needs a simple representative phrasing. People need to feel how the corruption and cronyism hurts them – jobs moved overseas, people losing pensions, dirty water, all that – but we need one symbolic pain to focus on, where corruption directly leads to their pain. Imagine how Katrina would have affected pubic thinking if we had already been pounding on a theme that corruption and cronyism hurts people, and then utilized Katrina as one more focus event that illustrated our point.
Possible focus events might be something that comes from the Abramoff scandal. (Keep in mind that the check-bouncing scandal was bipartisan, but was presented as a key example of Democratic misuse of public money.) The key is to repeat the core story, driving the ideological point home. An event will offer itself.
I think a good focus solution is minority-party subpoena powers. Imagine if the minority party - Dems - could hold hearings and subpoena witnesses and documents. This solution hilites the lack of oversite, the party-wide corruption, the shutting out of the Democrats… It says that we need Democrats to keep corruption out of government because Republicans are the party of money over law.
A point to keep in mind is that the Right does not work in a next-election timeframe. They were and are in it for the long term and their strategies play out over many years, even decades. We need to stop thinking we can fight them back in an election cycle if only a few things break our way, and start thinking about how we are going to turn things around over the long term.
Republicans culture of corruption, cronyism and favoritism.
February 19, 2006
Think Progress catches something from the Sunday-morning talk shows. A top Cheney advisor won't answer whether Cheney had MORE than one beer before shooting his friend in the face. Go read.
February 18, 2006
An e-mail I received: (blame the sender, not me)
BUTCH THE ROOSTERI report, you groan.
John the farmer was in the fertilized egg business. He had several hundred young layers (hens), called pullets and eight or ten roosters, whose job was to fertilize the eggs.
The farmer kept records and any rooster that didn't perform went into the soup pot and was replaced.
That took an awful lot of his time so he bought a set of tiny bells and attached them to his roosters. Each bell had a different tone so John could tell from a distance, which rooster was performing. Now he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report simply by listening to the bells.
The farmer's favorite rooster was old Butch, a very fine specimen he was, too. But on this particular morning John noticed old Butch's bell hadn't rung at all!
John went to investigate. The other roosters were chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing. The pullets, hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover. But to Farmer John's amazement, Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn't ring. He'd sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one.
John was so proud of Butch, he entered him in the county fair and Butch became an overnight sensation among the judges. The result...The judges not only awarded Butch the "No Bell Piece Prize" but they also awarded him the "Pulletsurprise" as well. Clearly Butch was a Republican in the making. Who else but a Republican could figure out how to win two of the most highly coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the populace and screwing them when they weren't paying attention.
February 17, 2006
At Spot-On, True Romance, Congress-style - an interesting story about student loans, Rep. John Boehner, private jets and a woman named Sallie Mae.
This just out - late on a Friday. They are hoping no one will notice. Calif. gives conditional OK to Diebold voting machines,
California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson gave conditional approval Friday for counties to use two voting machines made by Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems that he had previously questioned.This is about voting machines with NO WAY TO PROVE how the voters really voted!
The timing, late on a Friday, says it all. They are trying to sneak this past the public. This follows a series of machinations, including getting the previous Democratic Secretary of State out of office.
Update - More at Brad Blog.
Political analyst Brian Darling from the Heritage Foundation says the accident [Cheney shooting] is just being used for political purposes.
BRIAN DARLING: As you can see these ethical controversies and this accident is being used for political purposes and it detracts from the real issues that the American people care about.
Picked up from satellite after broadcast feed cut off...
Parrot: "Awk! Used for political purposes! Awk! Detracts from the real issues!"
Producer: "O.K. We're off the air!"
Parrot: "Awk! Where's Big Time and the Boy Genius?!? Awk! Polly wanna cracker and a beer! Awk! Spin spin spin! Awk! Awk! Awk! Conflate ethical scandal with accident, dismiss both! Awk! Polly want a tenured fellowship with six figure stipend! Awk!"
Producer: "What?!? Cut the feed you dolt! Turd Blossom is going to..."
In case you are interested, the source for the quote above is a transcript from an Australian radio show, "The World Today"... one of the most ridiculously lousy excuses for "journalism" I've seen in a long time.
The man who was accidentally shot by the US Vice-President says he is sorry for all the trouble Dick Cheney has faced.His words,
"My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney has had to go through this past week," Mr. Whittington said today.
A few years ago Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill came out with a book saying Bush was planning to invade Iraq even before 9/11. He knew they were going to go after him for this, saying "And these people are nasty, and they have a very long memory. ... I'm an old guy, and I'm rich. And there's nothing they can do to hurt me." A few days later he retracted everything.
"People are trying to make a case that I said the president was planning war in Iraq early in the administration," O'Neill told NBC's "Today" show. "Actually, there was a continuation of work that had been going on in the Clinton administration with the notion that there needed to be regime change in Iraq."Before that there was an article quoting John DiIulio after leaving the Bush administration, calling them "Mayberry Machiavellis." A few days later he issues an apology,
In my view, President Bush is a highly admirable person of enormous personal decency. He is a godly man and a moral leader. He is much, much smarter than some people-including some of his own supporters and advisers-seem to suppose. He inspires personal trust, loyalty, and confidence in those around him. In many ways, he is all heart.And now we know this crowd is listening in on everyone's calls and e-mails. Are you really all that surprised that no one dares seriously oppose their takeover?
Debbie Schlussel has the facts about a truck-driving school in Missouri where about 300 people who took the licensing test from May 2004 to December 2005 “had names that appeared to be Middle Eastern in origin.” That’s about 60% of the total number of people tested at the school.The so-called "War On Terror" seems to be about War On People With Middle-Eastern Names. All the wingers are getting whipped into a frenzy because dark-skinned people are learning to drive trucks. I guess the fear is that soon they'll be dating the daughters of Republicans...Fortunately, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (a fancy name for a group that hasn't done much) raided the school, and the Missouri Highway Patrol has blocked the school from testing new students or issuing further licenses. Well, it's about time. What took so long?
February 16, 2006
If I wasn't in a foul enough mood today because of y cold, I'm also trying to get taxes ready. So I go online to get my statements for my Citibank MasterCard, and they only go back 5 months. I called, and they said they just don't - that's all. They can mail older statements to me, but it will take two weeks.
These people hounded me to get me to stop having paper statements mailed. So OK, finally I did that. I opted for online-only statements. And now here it is tax-time AND YOU CAN'T SEE YOUR STATEMENTS FOR THE YEAR! What kind of clowns am I dealing with here?
Warning - do not opt for online-only statements. It's about THEM, not you.
Eric Alterman writes about how America's one-sided news coverage hurts the country. Yesterday new Abu Grahib photos were released. Few American news outlets are giving the photos promenent exposure. But in the Arab regions they get round-the-clock coverage. Americans think we're in Iraq to "fight for our freedom" and base their voting decisions on the limited or erroneous info they receive from the news outlets.
The U.S. media keeps the country in the dark about things everybody else in the world knows, then Americans, in their ignorance, vote for people who promise to do things that make no sense whatever, except in the context of their own (understandably) confused notions about what might make sense.
[. . .] Get it now? The whole world is looking at these pictures and they are inspiring who knows how many Arabs to enlist in the jihad against the United States (just as the CIA warned us before this lunatic war). But Americans are blissfully ignorant of the evil perpetrated in their name and hence, make the same mistakes over and over.
I'm here to answer another question many of you asked: How are Democrats fighting?Go read - and recommend because it's a diary.
I have a cold, so I'm doing a lot of directing elsewhere... Don't get too close, you might catch it.
At The Reaction, Ann Coulter's conservative bigotry,
Last week, at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Ann Coulter, whom we already know is a dangerous idiot, called Muslims "ragheads" -- see Max Blumenthal at The Raw Story. Even Michelle Malkin, ever-so-sensitive defender of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, called Coulter's remarks "spectacularly ill-chosen and ill-timed" (more on Malkin below).Go there for the links and the rest. Now I need some rest, too.
A good diary at Kos, and it runs along with something I've been thinking a lot about. Daily Kos: Cal Thomas: the republican call for Leninism and blasphemy. Go read and recommend (it's a diary, the recommend button is on the right).
The use of this language by Thomas is no coincidence - the neo-cons are a movement of Leninists. The essence of Leninism is Power. Lenin was happy to switch back and forth from capitalism (NEP) to communism, from elections to bullets, from a strong war policy to surrender as long as he retained and built power. The US leninists have the same flexibility. For them, political positions are simply valuable propaganda or not. Balanced budget/unbalanced budgets, gun control/gun banning, anti-choice/"moderation", gay marriage bans/hiring Cheney's daughter for gay/lesbian outreach and so on. The suckers who kept trying to find high minded socialism in Lenin were no more or less gullible than the "conservatives" who look for some "conservatism" in Bush/Cheney's policies. The only consistency is Power.
February 15, 2006
He was drinking all day:Cheney drank before shooting his pal,Cheney said he drank a beer with lunch the day of the shooting, according to his interview. ... after the accident occurred, [he] fixed himself a cocktail."...the secret service "made an appointment" with the sheriff's office for the next day and ran off the deputy who showed up to interview Cheney at the ranch.
Cheney must consume a virtual cocktail of drugs every day because of his heart condition. I wonder what kind of reaction throwing alcohol into the mix might have.Dick Cheney's Delay,
What is the most likely thing to happen during a 14 hour delay that is worth the negative publicity? One possibility is that it takes approximately that period of time for alcohol to dissipate in the body and no longer be subject to accurate testing. It is fairly common for people involved in alcohol-related accidents to delay reporting them until the alcohol has left the body.If The Shooter Was Tight, You Must Indict
From the NRA website:Never use alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or while shooting.
Peter Daou issues a challenge to Rightwing Bloggers: Prove it.
An interesting post over at Smelling the Coffee: A libertarian goes to Starbucks.
Just for fun: The American Enterprise: Clinton's Terrifying Response to Terror from 1995.
February 14, 2006
If the hospital equipment is accurate, however, then someone using a shotgun other than a Perazzi Brescia 28-gauge fired the shot that wounded Harry Whittington.Note - almost certainly a mistake in reporting the size of the pellet.
Russ Feingold delivered an eloquent and passionate speech on the Senate floor denouncing Bush's wireless wiretapping program.
The Democrats have failed their party, their base and their country with a recent behind the scenes agreement on Bush's wiretapping legislation. A Salon article by Russ Feingold details the bitter truth. (watch 30 second ad for day pass)
It seemed like a watershed moment for the Democratic Party. At the end of 2005, Democrats, along with a small band of Republicans, stopped a bad Patriot Act reauthorization bill in its tracks.
Surprise, surprise! The Democratic leadership has failed to protect our freedom, liberty and Constitutional rights one more time.
Expect Democrats and some Republicans to insist that they have won some significant improvements to the Patriot Act. Don't believe it. The few minor concessions they got from the White House are a fig leaf to disguise a complete about-face. Thanks to this deal, the White House will be emboldened in its fear-mongering, Democrats will be perceived as timid, and the American people will still face the prospect of government intrusion into their private affairs. Some deal.
STF readers can read the lengthy list of curtailed freedoms that Feingold catalogs in his article. Feingold concludes:
These are some of the provisions of the Patriot Act that pose the biggest threats to our freedoms, yet some Democrats are happily supporting a deal that leaves them firmly in place. That's hardly a victory for our party, or for the effort to protect our liberties as we fight terrorism.
It took a long time for Democrats to step up and challenge the administration's baseless assertions that the Patriot Act could not be changed without threatening the security of the American people. When we finally did so, when we decided to make the case that we can fight terrorism and protect our American principles at the same time, *it looked like Democrats were finally ready to stand on principle and offer strong leadership*.
Is anyone even a little bit surprised that the Democratic Party has caved in to political pressure and taken the easy way out one more time? Feingold asks the key question:
If Democrats aren't going to stand up to an executive who disdains the other branches of government and doesn't worry about trampling on the rights of innocent Americans, what do we stand for?
Where does Bush stand on gun control? Is he a hunter? Is he afraid to go hunting with his Vice President? Was Cheney sending Bush a warning? What does Pat Robertson have to say? What is God trying to tell our President?
I wouldn't mind George Bush talking to God if I could be reassured that he ever listened to God.
While gunshot-victim Whittington's children wait to see if their father lives or dies from pellets in his heart, Republican Congressman Stacey Campfield "jokes" about it, and advocates shooting lawyers and Democrats:
Dead eye Dick CheneyFrom Crooks and Liars
"Our VP is now clearly pro gun and anti lawyer. I say not a bad start. I am taking up a collection to send a few democrats off on a hunting trip..."
he White House has decided that the best way to deal with Vice President Dick Cheney's shooting accident is to joke about it.And now this news:
President Bush's spokesman quipped Tuesday that the burnt orange school colors of the University of Texas championship football team that was visiting the White House shouldn't be confused for hunter's safety wear.
"The orange that they're wearing is not because they're concerned that the vice president may be there," joked White House press secretary Scott McClellan, following the lead of late-night television comedians. "That's why I'm wearing it."
The president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, took a similar jab after slapping an orange sticker on his chest from the Florida Farm Bureau that read, "No Farmers, No Food."
"I'm a little concerned that Dick Cheney is going to walk in," the governor cracked during an appearance in Tampa Monday.
The 78-year-old lawyer who was shot by Vice PresidentSometimes reality just gets in the darn way of a good propaganda point.
Dick Cheney in a hunting accident has some birdshot lodged in his heart and he had a "minor heart attack," a hospital official said Tuesday.
Meanwhile on Limbaugh people were calling and actually CRYING because of the terrible mean way the liberalmedia is treating this great man Dick Cheney.
Constructive social change and progress do not march forward at a steady pace. Rather, they are a series of successive plateaus that are achieved, attacked, defended and then once more moved forward. With the Democratic Party caught up by ineffective political paralysis, many progressives are feeling frustrated and caught up in despair. Nothing cripples the will like isolation.“The antidote to such paralysis is hope: defiant, resilient, persistent hope, no matter what the odds against us may be. As Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourner's magazine writes, “Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, then watching the evidence change.”
We can help the evidence change by engaging in a daily act of conscience.
Hope has been called an orientation of the heart and a way of looking at the world – more than that, it’s a way of life. Reverend Victoria Stafford advises us to “plant ourselves at the gates of hope” so we can see the landscape with fresh eyes. We cannot exist apart from the nonhuman realm, both spiritual, plant and animal. Our actions of conscience confirm the link between our fate and that of everyone and everything else on the planet. Acts of conscience are both a demonstration and a confirmation that hope exists.
In the battle against the politics of bitterness, we are all called to participate. We are called to plant "seeds of the possible" in the twilight of that “all important line between hope and despair: the value of believing we have options; and the ability to savor the abundance of the world.” It is our job to put windows and doors in that suffocating tunnel of spiritual exhaustion.
Possibility is the oxygen upon which hope thrives. Hope and history may not always rhyme, to borrow a phrase from Seamus Heaney, but human generosity is a starting point toward bringing them together. If everybody who reads this commits to one small act of daily conscience, we can help the evidence change.
Little things like printing a short article or newsbyte from the web and delivering copies to ten or twenty of our neighbors. Perhaps stopping by our local registrar's office, picking up fifty voter registration forms and knocking on five or ten doors on our block to register our neighbors. Put a bumper sticker on your car. Speak up at the water cooler. Join your DFA Meet Up. Above all participate in your own future, the future of your children and loved ones and help take back our country.
Editor's Note: Practically all of the phrases and ideas in this essay were taken nearly verbatim from the first five or six chapters of The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear by Paul Rogat Loeb. My attempt to attribute every phrase and quote ruined the flow of the profound messages carried by this collection of fascinating essays. I encourage everyone to purchase a copy of Loeb's book to lift your spirits when apathy and frustration threaten to paralyze your political will.
February 13, 2006
Let's say your job is making Bush and the Republicans ook good to the public. What's it going to cost?
Democrats requested that GAO conduct the study after evidence emerged last year that the Bush Administration had commissioned "covert propaganda" from public relations firms. Several federal departments had hired firms to develop "video new releases" to promote department initiatives which appeared to television viewers to be independent newscasts. Other revelations that triggered the GAO report included the disclosure that the Department of Education paid conservative commentator Armstrong Williams to promote the No Child Left Behind Act on the radio and in his columns.And what items of great importance to the American pubic were our tax dollars spent on?
... The Administration's public relations and advertising contracts spanned a wide range of issues, including Administration priorities like "marriage-related research initiatives," message development presenting "the Army's strategic perspective in the Global War on Terrorism," and an FDA contract to warn the public of the consequences and potential danger of importing prescription drugs from other nations.The danger of importing drugs from other nations? That's a DRUG COMPANY propaganda point, not a government one!
Of course, no one will go to jail for this.
Someone on CNN just said all this is just an attempt to "get" Dick Cheney, that all the liberals can be expected to make this a big deal and mock him.
Someone else was talking about how Cheney is such a good hunter, that he's seen him actually raise his gun when a car drives by in the line of fire, even a dog!
And another was on saying that the idiot that got shot had walked behind Cheney without announcing himself. Maybe I should have named the post "Assclown With Gun - Beware!"
Per Dave's comments to "Watch your back."
I've actually gone ahead and figured out how to use "gnupg" and "Evolution" (the Linux based email client I use on my desktop) to sign and/or encrypt my emails (and other items). To that end, I invite anyone wanting to write me to download my "public key", at: http://www.thomasleavitt.org/thomas.asc
This can be used to verify the "signature" attached to any emails I send you, and to decrypt any file I send to you (assuming you have a public key available). If you supply me with a public key, I can in turn decrypt files you send me, and authenticate any "encrypted signatures" attached to email you send me.
I found these two "tutorials" useful:
Cooking with Linux - Fran�ois, Can You Keep a Secret?, by Marcel Gagné in SysAdmin magazine
Adding a photo id to your GNU PG key.
Caveats: Encryption only secures communications in transport: ultimately, they must be decrypted on the machine which is used to read them, and at that point, the communication is vulnerable (as it is prior to encryption). The simple expidient of sticking a keylogger onto your desktop (hardware or software) or even a small wireless video camera pointed at your monitor, can bypass even the strongest encryption.
What is secure now, may not be secure in the future. Quantum computing and other technologies may well make even the most "secure" encryption vulnerable at some point in the future.
More questions, maybe more lies. Secret Service keeping the legal authorities away from Cheney? Sounds like someone might have been drunk. But even that doesn't explain keeping the whole thing a secret for almost a day. CBS News | Reporting Lag In Cheney Shooting ,
CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer reports Texas authorities are complaining that the Secret Service barred them from speaking to Cheney after the incident. Kenedy County Texas Sheriffs Lt. Juan Guzman said deputies first learned of the shooting when an ambulance was called.And then there is the story that it was not reported because Cheney was too concerned about the guy he shot to be reporting things. That would be Cheney, all the others present, the Secret Service, the entire White House staff, etc. all crowded around the guy, all too concerned to tell anyone. Sheesh.
But the Secret Service told a different story, saying agents had informed the local sheriff of the shooting about an hour after it happened and that the vice president had been interviewed about the accident by local authorities on Sunday morning, CBS News White House correspondent Bill Plante reports.
According to an article in the UK Independent, a "critical rise in world temperatures is now unavoidable". They base this conclusion on a paper presented at a recent UK Gov't conference on climate change, which "reviewed a dozen studies of the probability of exceeding the 2 degrees threshold at different CO2 equivalent levels." The conclusion was that, only if the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stayed below 400ppm, would there be a "very high chance" that global temperatures would not rise by at least 2 degrees (which would be enough to precipitate all sorts of nasty consequences, such as the Greenland ice sheet melting, sea levels rising by several meters, and a massive decline in agricultural output). The problem is, we've already exceeded that level... using the latest data available (from 2004), the Independent had a scientist calculate the then current level of greehouse gases in the atmosphere: 426 ppm.
If you're wondering how the Independent translates going from no longer having a "very high probability of avoiding" to "unavoidable" (me too), I presume that this has something to do with it:
The scientist who chaired the Exeter conference [where the above referenced paper was presented], Dennis Tirpak, head of the climate change unit of the OECD in Paris [em. mine, TL], was even more direct. He said: "This means we will hit 2 degrees [as a global mean temperature rise]."
Of course, the polar bears already have a problem. ... and the Bush Administration would prefer that federal employees not talk about it in an "uncoordinated" fashion. See this interview with James Hansen for more details.
UPDATE: A reader sent me this wonderful investigative report on Australia's "Greenhouse Mafia", and government/private sector censorship/self-censorship on climate change issues. If you read through it, towards the end there's an exchange with Kevin Hennessy, a scientist at a research institute, that is truly Kafkaesque in its absurdity. In fact, the entire report reads like something out of Kafka, bureaucrats and politicians posturing shamelessly, making self-righteous statements that are totally at odds with reality. ... and, as an American, I have no doubt that our government functions in exactly the same fashion.
From the UK's Independent: Into the valley of death: UK troops head into Afghan war zone. Here's the lead:
Suicide bombings and firefights, Western troops under attack, sectarian clashes between Shia and Sunni, foreigners taken hostage. Days of escalating violence have left dozens of people dead and more than a hundred injured. This is not Iraq but Afghanistan, a conflict which has now overtaken on the grim league table of body counts [em. mine, TL] - 89 killings in the last eight days in Afghanistan compared with 54 in Iraq during the same period.
Later on in the article, there's this dandy tidbit: "Nato commanders acknowledge that terrorist techniques are being imported from Iraq to Afghanistan and Islamist fighters are entering the country in ever-increasing numbers from Pakistan." It ends with a comparative timeline of fatalities and violence in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past eight days.
... and what does America's media have to say about this phenomenon? Nothing!!! A couple of wire service articles about a week ago, nothing since, and no independent reporting whatsoever. Do a search for n"afghanistan helmand" (Helmand is the most violent province in Afghanistan), and see for yourself. Note: it appears that a few minutes ago, the news broke that four U.S. soldiers have been killed in a bombing... what do we get? Brief wire reports.
The difference between the level of coverage devoted to this issue in the U.S. and internationally is flat out astounding. Something is seriously wrong... we're pouring a couple billion a month into Afghanistan (at least), 214 U.S. troops have been killed there, the overall situation is deteriorating daily, and not one American media institution cares to look into what's happening there and report back to the American people. Shameful!
Raw Story is breaking a big story: Outed CIA officer was working on Iran, intelligence sources say.
Today's housing bubble post is over at Angry Bear,
And that is the question: will the debt binge end with a "bang" or a "whimper". Will the US economy see slower growth or will it slide into a recession? Or will some new engine of economic growth emerge to replace the debt fueled growth of recent years.
February 12, 2006
For those of you who read a lot of blogs and think there is a big Republican corruption scandal unfolding in Washington, here's a tip about what is going on in the outside world. The entire page 3 of the San Jose Mercury News today - the second front page - had this story: Probe links Reid, lobbyist.
The big story accidentally left out that Reid voted against what Abramoff wanted.
The other day, in Military Assisting Republican Party? I wrote about a story that the Bush Administration is sending active-duty military personnel around the country to promote The Party's activities.
I am told that if enough people visit the Inspector General's website to file a complaint, it puts pressure on them to investigate.
February 11, 2006
We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers — and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.
This is how the New York Times editorial board choose to lead off their editorial entitled: The Trust Gap. An extraordinary statement, in my opinion, coming from the country's "newspaper of record", the epitome of the "mainstream" press... the editorial makes it clear that they believe that the President and his administration cannot be trusted, at any level. I wonder when they'll make the next logical conclusion from this, and call for impeachment?
Russ Feingold delivered an excellent speech from the floor of the Senate: On the President's Warrantless Wiretapping Program, demanding that the President be held accountable for his criminal violation of our 4th Amendment rights from unreasonable searches and seizures, and shredding the President and Attorney General's feeble attempts to defend the legality of their domestic spying program.
That said, this particular phrase caught my attention: "Defeating the terrorists should be our top national priority..."
Question: is he right? Is "defeating the terrorists" a national priority that should override all others? Does this make sense, socially, economically, or even militarily? I think I could make a pretty good case that there are a dozen other things we could be doing that would enhance the national security of the United States, prevent more deaths, economic damage, etc. than "defeating the terrorists". Why concede even this point? Or is Washington this obsessed?
It would be interesting to example the opinion of the American public in detail on this issue, to see whether, when faced with the actual figures and numbers, where the average voter wants their money and leader's attention invested. I suspect that a number of concerns a lot closer to home would rank as a higher priority.
US prepares military blitz against Iran's nuclear sites
By Philip Sherwell in Washington
Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran's efforts to develop an atomic bomb.
Central Command and Strategic Command planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation, the Sunday Telegraph has learnt.
They are reporting to the office of Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, as America updates plans for action if the diplomatic offensive fails to thwart the Islamic republic's nuclear bomb ambitions. Teheran claims that it is developing only a civilian energy programme. Source
The way I read the tea-leaves, the Democrats will be blindsided. Whether they support the attack, oppose it, or split on the issue, they will lose the 2006 Congressional elections. All the liberal hawks, conservitarians, and moderates will fall dutifully into line, and two-party democracy will be a thing of the past in this country.
The only time to oppose this is now, and none of the Democrats are doing it.
An excellent column from Michael Hiltik on Tuesday describes how hopelessly confused Bush's medicare prescription drug plan is for America's seniors. Glitch Adds to Medicare Drug Plan Confusion:
Peculiarities and complexities that render it almost useless for millions of potential beneficiaries. The most serious drawback is the one that snagged me: While the program bases its calculations of prescription costs on a "30-day supply" of each drug, for those taken orally it assumes that a 30-day supply is 30 pills.
But many medications aren't taken once a day. Unless the user manually overrides the 30-pill default, the result can be wildly misleading.
Hiltzik is a tad more blunt at his Golden State Blog
February 10, 2006
A suit filed in 2004 on behalf of Assemblyman Reed Gusciora by the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers School of Law-Newark challenging the accuracy of New Jersey's electronic voting machines was initially dismissed by the trial court. Today, the Appellate Division agreed with the plaintiffs, and has reinstated the case.Go read.
... Nearly every voting machine in the state is electronic, but none of them provide a voter-verifiable paper trail. If the courts agree that rights are being violated and that the integrity of the election cannot be guaranteed by these machines, then by law, the machines must be scrapped.
February 9, 2006
Paperwight made a good catch here. Republicans complaining about declining white birth rates...
Read this Kos diary, How The Wingnuts Destroyed My Best Friend and tell me how the current "conservative movement" is different from a cult? Except I don't really think the leaders of this "movement" buy in to the stuff they are selling. I think the ideology is largely for propaganda purposes, like the con-man telling the 80-year-old grandma that she will get a free car if only she will pay for shipping...
You have heard it here before, but we all need to say it over and over again, and the word needs to spread out past the blogosphere until everyone "gets" what is happening to us. The Democrats' Tiny Megaphone,
Indeed, the Right’s subsidizing of media may be the most under-reported money-in-politics story in modern American history. Many good-government organizations track the millions of dollars contributed to candidates, but much less attention is paid to the billions of unregulated dollars poured into media.
This imbalanced attention continues even though the conservative media is arguably the most important weapon in the Republican arsenal.
Political “propaganda themes” – often coordinated with GOP leaders – are distributed instantaneously across the country, reaching into both rural and urban America with a repetition that gives these messages a corroborative ring of truth.
The messages echo from talk radio to cable news to conservative columnists who appear in the mostly pro-Republican local newspapers. The themes then are reinforced in magazine articles and in books that dominate the shelves of many American bookstores.
But wait, there's more. The Right has buit an "eco-system" around their media control. For example, books:
The Right’s media infrastructure also offers important secondary benefits to the conservative political movement.But here is the key:
Though right-wing media operations often aren’t profitable themselves, they help create an environment in which conservative writers and commentators get the publicity needed so they can earn millions of dollars on books. That, in turn, guarantees that the Right’s personalities are sought after by publishers focusing on the bottom line.
donate moneyBy contrast, the Left’s neglect of a media infrastructure has made liberal books a relatively hard sell with publishers. Without the expectation of a buzz resonating through an ideologically friendly echo chamber, the major houses are less eager to take on left-leaning books or give liberal authors reasonable advances.
But what has been remarkable – considering the stakes involved for American democracy – is that wealthy progressives and major liberal foundations have mostly stayed on the sidelines, avoiding a significant investment in media infrastructure.Currently there is a roadblock to building an effective counter-movement. Currently large foundations and a few wealthy donors are the "gatekeepers" deciding where money goes and they really, really don't "get it" yet. We have not yet built up a culture of small-donor giving - and supporting tools - for "Dean-style" funding of efforts to build organizations and media outlets to take on the Right.
Got this off a queer Dem political mailing list... interesting shifts, both demographically in population terms, and in relation to the increasing percentage of people voting by mail; the latter precipitates all sorts of issues regarding voting security and privacy, but also serves to lessen the impact of any funny business with voting machines at the polls.
At the California Democratic Party E-board meeting last weekend, Mark DiCamillo of the California field poll gave a very interesting presentation on "Three California election megatrends." Emy mentioned this in her report at the DCC meeting on Thursday. DiCamillo's presentation is now available on line at:
In Educators face blowback for protesting Iraq war in schools, Raw Story documents teachers around the country fired for opposing Bush's war.
My wife said this the other day:
"I will never buy another album online again. I feel ripped off. All I got are some lines on my iTunes. When I buy a CD I have the CD and I can do what I want with it. I don't want to look at pictures of albums someone is trying to get me to buy. I don't want anything where people are trying to get me to buy something and I don't want to pay another subscription fee. I want to see and feel the music I have."That was all BEFORE what happened last night.
My wife is in a belly-dance troupe and they rehearse at our house. Each week she burns a CD of the night's dance music and puts in into the little stereo in the rehearsal room because the speakers are loud enough for the dance practice, and the buttons for replay, advance, etc. are easy to use. But last night the computer refused to make the CD. It said she had already burned seven CDs with a certain tune on them. She had purchased the album containing that tune at iTunes. 'Rented' might be a better term than purchased, I guess. Or maybe I should say that she was alowed to listen to it a few times, for her money.
Do I need to add that now she is even less thrilled with the idea of getting her music online?
Raul Damas, associate director of political affairs at the White House, has been on the phone directly to Republican county chairmen to arrange local speeches by active duty military personnel to talk about their experiences in Iraq. To some Republican members, this unusual venture connotes a desire to go directly to the people to sell the president's position without having to deal with members of Congress.I'm not even going to question the legality of this, since legality doesn't matter anymore. Just bringing it to your attention. Part of what I call the "slow coup" that is occurring.
February 8, 2006
The Yearly Kos convention is June 8-11 in Las Vegas. They are holding a month-long auction to raise money to pay expenses. Go look at some items at Daily Kos: Yearly Kos Auction Hacked by NSA; Hunter Targeted
Go see the Rush Limbaugh bedpan art.
Another screed from Paul Craig Roberts arrived in my inbox this morning... this time, about the rush to war against Iran and how party loyalty has become the "controlling virtue" of the Republican Party. A link at the top of the email lead me to AntiWar.com, which he regularly writes for. Novel, to say the least: a conservative (and make no mistake, he remains one) lobbing one broadside after another at Dubya and his criminal coitere! How is this possible?!? Why hasn't he fallen in line behind the Bush Administration with the rest of the "conservative" movement?
Simple: he's a small-l libertarian, and thus his politics are orthagonal to the left/right axis that political beliefs in this country conventional align themselves along... this is why he is associated with the The Independent Institute, the strongest and most consistent "conservative" critic of state power, the war in Iraq, and Bush's attacks on civil liberties and the Constitution. While I disagree with many of the positions taken by the folks there, I admire them for their forthright consistency: they oppose the expansion of state power in any form, and most definitely, in the form this administration has taken... destruction of civil liberties, disregard for the Constitution, vast expansion of the war machine, etc. No politics of convenience for these guys (unlike the rest of the right).
The cynic in me wonders if they are permitted to continue to exist in order to provide an outlet for frustrations of these sorts, or if the organization has paid a price for its ongoing and vociferous criticism of the war in Iraq and the Bush Administrations ever expanding view of Presidential perogatives.
Referring to this post at RedState, Matt Stoller points out the blatant racism that is accepted by Republicans as they try to turn Coretta Scott King's funeral into a political opportunity. As John at Americablog put it,
Get ready for the white men of the Republican party to lecture black leaders about not knowing their place.
And the comments... The civil rights movement "was an extortion scam to enrich themselves" "Bush should take back New Orleans money and force these aholes to come begging for it."
Laura Berg, a nurse working for the Veterans Administration, had her work computer seized after writing a letter to the editor that stated, "We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit."
Apparently, the rationale for the seizure was that “government equipment was used inappropriately…during government time for drafting an editorial letter.” This, despite the fact that there was no basis to suspect this whatsoever (and no evidence emerged to support this conclusion after the computer was seized). To top that, Mel Hooker, Chief of Human Resource Management Service at the VA, actually used the word "sedition" in a memo to Berg justifying the action.
Needless to say, the ACLU is up in arms over this, and their press release regarding Laura Berg has gotten a fair amount of media coverage. The ACLU says, "From all appearances, the seizure of her work computer was an act of retaliation and a hardball attempt to scare Laura into silence." I've got to agree with them here. As Dave says: watch your back (especially if you're a federal employee who works with returning Iraq war veterans).
So, the question for me is, who gave the order to seize her computer? The results of the ACLU's FOIA request should be quite interesting. Has the Executive Branch of the Federal Government become so sensitized to criticism of the incumbent administration, that the folks working within it are taking initiative to suppress dissent on their own... or did these orders come from someone in the White House, pissed off that a federal employee would dare criticize the Bush Administration and advocate its removal from power? Either way, there's cause for concern.
February 7, 2006
Thomas brought this to your attention earlier. I just want to make SURE you read it by bringing it up again. Paul Craig Roberts, former Reagan Admin. guy, says the reason things are the way they are is that the Bush people are using info gained from their secret wiretaps to blackmail people.
The years of illegal spying have given the Bush administration power over the media and the opposition. Journalists and Democratic politicians don't want to have their adulterous affairs broadcast over television or to see their favorite online porn sites revealed in headlines in the local press with their names attached. Only people willing to risk such disclosures can stand up for the country.Go read.
... How long before members of the opposition party, should there be one, find that they cannot return to Washington for important votes, because they have been placed on the no-fly list? What oversight does Congress or a panel of federal judges exercise over the list to make sure there are valid reasons for placing people on the list?
Over at MyDD, Chris Bowers has an amazingly simple plan for winning the 2006 elections:
Rather than getting too much into the weeds over message, slogans, and policy proposals, in 2006 we something far more basic--something that the established news media cannot filter out and something that even Republicans are forced to agree with. Maybe one of our biggest messages in 2006, if not our primary message, needs to simply be to point out to the American public the simple fact that Republicans control congress.Go read why.
I really think that we blog readers get too far out ahead of the public. We are hyper-informed. We think others know what we know. We think facts are important. But in fact most of the public knows very little about politics and the news and the issues and understands even less. Many of the people who bother to vote at all base their decisions on things that would make informed people like us just pass out if we heard them.
The key to winning elections is learning how various groups of voters make their decisions, and being there with the information they need in the form they need it and in the channels where they receive it.
CounterPunch just published an essay by Paul Craig Roberts, a Reagan Administration acolyte, that is as much of a barn burner as anything published by the usual suspects on our side as I've seen:
We have reached a point where the Bush administration is determined to totally eclipse the people. Bewitched by neoconservatives and lustful for power, the Bush administration and the Republican Party are aligning themselves firmly against the American people. Their first victims, of course, were the true conservatives. Having eliminated internal opposition, the Bush administration is now using blackmail obtained through illegal spying on American citizens to silence the media and the opposition party.
Before flinching at my assertion of blackmail, ask yourself why President Bush refuses to obey the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The purpose of the FISA court is to ensure that administrations do not spy for partisan political reasons. The warrant requirement is to ensure that a panel of independent federal judges hears a legitimate reason for the spying, thus protecting a president from the temptation to abuse the powers of government. The only reason for the Bush administration to evade the court is that the Bush administration had no legitimate reasons for its spying. This should be obvious even to a naif.
The United States is undergoing a coup against the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civil liberties, and democracy itself. The "liberal press" has been co-opted. As everyone must know by now, the New York Times has totally failed its First Amendment obligations, allowing Judith Miller to make war propaganda for the Bush administration, suppressing for an entire year the news that the Bush administration was illegally spying on American citizens, and denying coverage to Al Gore's speech that challenged the criminal deeds of the Bush administration.
Read more at the URL above.
Perhaps Dubya's extremism is going to foster a radical re-alignment of American politics... talk about politics making strange bedfellows, the array of Bush Administration critics grows broader and more diverse every day... it amazes me that, if for no other reason than pure political survival instincts, more of the Republican members of Congress haven't taken pains to distance themselves from the Adminstration, or at least put a heel on its initiatives (although the recent close vote on the budget, a two vote margin, would seem to indicate that at least a few, obviously very few, Republicans are beginning to show concern).
The right is trying to repeat the damage they were able to do by manufacturing outrage over what they described as "politicization" of Paul Wellstone's funeral by those mean Democrats. They seem to have a coordinated effort going on, saying mostly the same things, many referring directly to the Wellstone funeral. (Update - John at AMERICABlog has the right response: "Get ready for the white men of the Republican party to lecture black leaders about not knowing their place.")
The right-wing chorus is gearing up. Rush Limbaugh, We Have a Wellstone Moment.
Are we going to let them get away with it this time? More examples:
Today's memorial service for civil rights activist Coretta Scott King -- billed as a "celebration" of her life -- turned suddenly political as one former president took a swipe at the current president, who was also lashed by an outspoken black pastor! ... Former President Jimmy Carter later swung at Bush as well, not once but twice. ... Later, Carter said Hurricane Katrina showed that all are not yet equal in America. Some black leaders have blamed Bush for the poor federal response, and rapper Kayne West said that Bush "hates" black people.Note - Obviously they have some research showing that their target groups are responding favorably to characterizations of Democrats as "haters." This from Drudge comes during a coordinated chorus of right-wingers accusing various Democrats of "hate" and "anger." Republican Party Chair Ken Mehlman accused Hillary Clinton of this just the other day. I really doubt this from Drudge is some kind of mistake or misquote.
Right Wing News: Don't Try To Score Political Points At A Funeral,
Some of these Dems can't even set aside their politics long enough to properly honor the dead. What a lack of class.Stop the ACLU, Coretta Scott King Funeral Turns Into Bush Bash,
Leave it to the liberals to use the funeral of a Civil Rights leader to preach their Bush hatred. It isn’t even shocking how low they will go now. Absolutely shameful how the race baiters have no respect for the dead, and used this as a political platform.Have They No Shame?
The Democrats just can't restrain themselves. Absolutely ungodly. ... Jimmy Carter and Joseph Lowery gone wild with Bush-bashing sermons at Coretta Scott King's funeral.Paul Wellstone II: The Coretta Scott King “Funeral”,
Today’s “funeral” service seemed like it the Paul Wellstone “funeral”, or as Instapundit called it, a campaign rally.Cold Fury, Yet another embarrassment,
Yeah, I know, I know. No, they really don’t seem to have any shame at all, do they?Blogs For Bush,
I'm not sure what I was watching today... a funeral for Coretta Scott King, or a Bush-bashing festival. I'm reminded of Paul Wellstone's funeral... disgraceful.GOP Bloggers, Another Corpse, Another Rally,
What is it about Democrats that they can't show up at a funeral without turning it into a political convention? First it was Paul Wellstone and now Coretta Scott King.
Lots and lots more manufactured outrage out there. Here it comes!!
God save us from the parasites such as Jessie Jackson (who danced on King's grave), as well as the Clintons who will do anything and say anything to get and maintain power. Even arrange for the murder of a gabby Cabinet member and then go to his funeral to laugh about it.
The right is trying a variation of "Clinton did it" to divert from the NSA illegal wiretapping scandal. In a coordinated effort, they are trying to use the Clinton administration Clipper Chip proposal to justify Bush's illegal, warrantless NSA spying on Americans, so it's a good time to catch up on what the Clipper Chip was.
The Clipper Chip was an attempt by the Clinton Administration to bring encryption into wide use. Encryption is eletronically scrambling e-mail messages and phone calls so no one can eavesdrop. The communications are scrambled on one end and descrambled on the other, so in between anyone who taps in only sees or hears scrambled gibberish. The Clipper Chip would be installed in phones and computers.
It is important to understand that right now anyone can listen in on any call or e-mail that is not encrypted. Currently you have to be quite knowledgable and go to some trouble if you want your calls and e-mails encrypted. If you don't know what I am talking about, you can be sure that your calls and e-mails are not encrypted and anyone can listen in.
So, keeping in mind that Bush has ordered the NSA to listen in on calls and e-mails, and that Clipper was an effort to get calls and e-mails scrambled so no one could listen in, here is what the right-wingers are saying about it now:
White House Press Briefing, Jan. 19,
Q: Scott, I have a two-part question. Apparently, no one in the White House will challenge Al Gore with now public information that he led the Clinton administration's clipper chip project back in the 1990s to effectively tap every phone, fax machine and computer in the country. And my question: Isn't that worth pointing out to the American people, after he accused President Bush of breaking the law and violating the Constitution by --Shelbyville Times-Gazette: Story: Gore's criticism strikes a sour note,
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you just did. This is an administration that is forward-looking, Les. We're focused on the priorities of the American people.
Q: Well, how about Gore? You mean you're going to say nothing about Gore and the clipper chip project?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you already have. No, I'm not going to get into that.
Anyone remember the Clipper Chip? Many do, and it's surprising that some in the mainstream media haven't brought up the topic. For those of you who don't recall, back in 1993 the Internet was just beginning to be used widely by the public and the Clinton Administration believed that some communications might not be susceptible to government interception. Their solution was the endorsement of the mandatory installation of the little gadget into computers, cell phones and fax machines. [emphasis added]Tapper Gore,
But while Gore denounced the selective and limited use of wiretaps by law enforcement officials on calls generated by suspected foreign terrorists, he had no problem – just a decade ago – calling for wholesale, mandatory surveillance on the phone calls and secure computer communications of every single American.Gathering Moss: Gore's Memory Loss,
In fact, beginning in 1993, he ran the "Clipper chip" project for the Clinton administration that would have done just that – bug every phone, computer and fax machine in America.
The Clipper Project was to implant a small chip in every telephone which would enable NSA to monitor calls without a court order.Cheapening MLK Day,
Despite the fact that the president acted to protect Americans from more 9/11’s, and was well within his rights to do so, when as vice president, Gore once planned to allow the feds to shatter the Constitution by secretly bugging the phones of all Americans and then lied about it.Like I said, ANYONE can listen in now, and Bush has ordered the government to do just that. You don't need to install anything in phones or computers to listen in on e-mail, you just do it. If Clinton and Gore wanted to listen in our calls they could have just DONE it (they didn't, Bush did) without installing anything. The idea that Clinton was trying to install a chip that lets the NSA listen in - when anyone could already listen in - should set your alarm bells off.
John Ashcroft led the fight against the Clipper Chip, and then later, under John Ashcroft, the NSA started listening in on our calls and e-mails. They were able to do this BECAUSE there was no Clipper Chip installed.
So don't be fooled by this. Don't be misdirected. See the Forest. We know who is and who is not breaking the law. We know who is and who was not illegally listening in on calls and e-mails.
February 6, 2006
Another right-wing blog makes light of troop deaths; small dead animals: Motorcycles More Dangerous Than Combat
Watch the film clip.
When the president believes he can order someone on US soil killed because he thinks he's a terrorist, when the Senate refuses to censure administration officials who lie under oath to it, when the argument about spying on Americans without a court order is about "you didn't come to us to get permission first" - well, the corpse may be stumbling along, but it's a zombie.
I'm watching the NSA spying hearings. Senator Feinstein just asked Attorney General Gonzales if the President has authorized the use of covert domestic propaganda intended to influence domestic politics. Gonzales refused to answer. Said he is not comfortable answering that. Then he went on to say that the President has inherent constitutional authority...
"Can the President suspend in secret or otherwise the application of section 503 of the national security act which states that no covert action may be conducted with is intended to influence United State political processes, public opinion, policies or media. In other words can he engage in otherwise illegal propaganda."
I received a comment that this blog is not loading well in Internet Explorer. I thought I had those problems solved.
Please let me know of any problems you are having viewing the blog so I can address them. Let me know what versions and what computer (Mac, PC, etc.) you are using so I can take a look. Thanks.
February 5, 2006
In Trouble in Cubicle Nation, "with soaring workweeks, declining wages, and health, pension and vacation benefits vanishing faster than you can say job security," Joe Robinson has some suggestions for improving the workplace, including:
Restore the 40-hour workweek. Almost 40 percent of us are working more than 50 hours a week, not exactly what the Fair Labor Standards Act intended when it set the 40-hour workweek in 1938. ...
Legalize vacations. Almost a third of American women and a quarter of men don't get vacation leave anymore because, unlike 96 other countries, the U.S. has no paid-leave law. ...
Provide guaranteed sick leave. No one should have to lose a job because they get ill. But across this land, hardworking people are getting fired simply because their company offers no sick days and they got sick. ...Go read.
Support a living wage. With the skyrocketing costs of gas, food and rent, an increase in the minimum wage is long overdue. Consumers need to support companies that pay a living wage, such as Costco, and shun ones that don't.
When the NSA spying scandal first broke, I wrote that I suspected they were intercepting all calls and e-mails and running them through computers for analysis. My suspicions are now largely confirmed. Surveillance Net Yields Few Suspects
The program has touched many more Americans than that. Surveillance takes place in several stages, officials said, the earliest by machine. Computer-controlled systems collect and sift basic information about hundreds of thousands of faxes, e-mails and telephone calls into and out of the United States before selecting the ones for scrutiny by human eyes and ears.
Successive stages of filtering grow more intrusive as artificial intelligence systems rank voice and data traffic in order of likeliest interest to human analysts. But intelligence officers, who test the computer judgments by listening initially to brief fragments of conversation, "wash out" most of the leads within days or weeks.In other words, they were not just tapping into calls between Americans and members of al Queda, they were tapping into everything to see if anyone was calling al Queda. Or maybe to learn other things? No oversight - no warrants, no judges, no Congress - means there is just no way to know or trust what they are doing. That's what warrants are for. That's what our Constitution is for. These things came about because governmental powers are always abused unless checked. Bush has removed all checks on his power.
The scale of warrantless surveillance, and the high proportion of bystanders swept in, sheds new light on Bush's circumvention of the courts. National security lawyers, in and out of government, said the washout rate raised fresh doubts about the program's lawfulness under the Fourth Amendment, because a search cannot be judged "reasonable" if it is based on evidence that experience shows to be unreliable. Other officials said the disclosures might shift the terms of public debate, altering perceptions about the balance between privacy lost and security gained.
[. . .] Even with 38,000 employees, the NSA is incapable of translating, transcribing and analyzing more than a fraction of the conversations it intercepts. For years, including in public testimony by Hayden, the agency has acknowledged use of automated equipment to analyze the contents and guide analysts to the most important ones.
According to one knowledgeable source, the warrantless program also uses those methods. That is significant to the public debate because this kind of filtering intrudes into content, and machines "listen" to more Americans than humans do.
I don't know if Iran is developing nuclear weapons. I don't know how far they are from doing so if they ARE developing nukes. And I can't trust the current government of the country to tell the truth on such matters - especialy with an election coming in November. Four years ago they used war fear to blatantly manipulate the election.
In my opinion, if Iran IS developing nuclear weapons, and is close to capability, it is a very serious threat to millions of lives directly and to overall world peace indirectly. But this was also the case if Iraq was developing nukes -- and it turned out that they weren't, that it was all just a lie.
I recommend this Kos diary about Democratic Presidential candidate General Wesley Clark. Daily Kos: Wes Clark: we need to save American democracy!
Now there are some who may doubt the General's motivations, his political savvy, or his ability to play with the big boys of the party. I am not one of those. Not any more. I have seen most of the party leaders of the past few campaigns up close and personal. Met and greeted them, heard them talk live, looked into their eyes, and watched from afar on C-SPAN speech after speech after speech. I've seen Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Edwards, and Dean up close and personal - but I've never seen anything like Clark! Is he a politician - yes. But he's an American first, and the things he said today... with the exception of Al Gore's recent speeches, never before have I seen a politician with the guts to so lay it on the line.
If this, 'The new Afghanistan is a myth. It's time to go and get a job abroad', is the Bush Administration's definition of "success", what do you think Iraq will look like, five years from now? (and remember, the descriptions below are from Kabul, the relatively stable center of the country where most of the economic development funds have been targeted)
A United Nations report concluded last year that Afghanistan remains one of the world's least developed countries, ranking 173rd out of 178 countries surveyed. For every 1,000 babies born in Afghanistan, 142 die before their first birthday. An Afghan woman dies in pregnancy every half-hour. Overall life expectancy is estimated at just under 42 years.
In the bombed remains of Kabul's Ministry of Energy, Nasir Salam, aged eight, skips through the mud, his jacket flapping in the wind, exposing his skinny ribs. He is running towards a vast mound of rubbish where children are playing with kites, one of Afghanistan's most popular pastimes, although the kites are composites of plastic bags and greasy lengths of string. The youngsters are badly malnourished, their hair and flesh a mass of sores. their chests wheezing. On the road that runs parallel to the slum, their mothers congregate, dressed in filthy burqas and chadris, eyes visible through latticed slits as they bang on car windows begging for money. Others like them had earlier caught a bus to beg in central Kabul, hoping that passing aid workers will spare a dollar. Idle men are everywhere, standing in small groups amid creeks of raw sewage.
See also, "Afghanistan Five Years Later", on OpEdNews.com
If you could point me to a decent article on the topic in American media, I'd appreciate it. Fair amount of coverage re: the "Afghan Compact" (five year pledge to donate $10 billion by Western nations), but damn little about Afghanistan on the ground, from what I could find.
Some time ago I explained what I thought the Bush plan was. Keep the war going forever; put in fiscal policies favoring the rich (but backloaded so that the effects will not be felt immediately); and when the shit hits the fan, use wartime powers and the Patriot Act to suppress resistance.
During 2005 nothing went right for Bush, and my predictions weren't looking so good. What that really means right now, however, is that the only way Bush can salvage his presidency is to start another war. All the domestic stuff will be forgotten once the state of emergency we're already in has been ramped up a few notches.
Iran has stepped up to the plate right on schedule, and the usual suspects within the Democratic Party are falling in line too. Wesley Clark, Kevin Drum and Amy Sullivan of the Washington Monthly, and of course, Sen. Lieberman are already on board (along with our next President, John McCain).
I do not believe that the Iran crisis is what Bush says it is. There's something there that we have to deal with, but we cannot take anything Bush says at face value.
However, I do not expect the Democrats to resist in any significant way, any more than they did three years ago. So-called moderate Democrats (e.g. Drum) say that Democrats have to "get serious on defense". What they mean is that the Democrats need to convince the voters that they're hawkish enough -- they're talking about an electoral problem as though it were a policy problem. In fact, the Democrats and their candidates have always had reasonable defense policies, and they've normally been plenty hawkish.
As for Bush's fanatical core supporters -- none of the scandals, failures, and frauds of Bush's first five years have fazed them in the slightest. To a significant extent this is because they really do not have any political policy goals except war abroad and cultural war at home. Besides war, none of the actual business of government means anything at all to them.
So I'm leaving my predictions on the table.
[This Reuter's article, Al Lewis, grandpa on TV's "The Munsters," dies makes his politics pretty clear with some excellent quotes and bits of history (somewhat surprisingly, to me... maybe because it isn't U.S. media?), as opposed to the AP article, Al Lewis, Beloved as 'Grandpa Munster,' Dies at 95. Unfortunately, the latter appears to have been the primary (sole?) source for most coverage in the U.S. Neither one of them gives you a sense of how deep his commitment was. I even saw one article say, "he turned to politics in the 1990's". I don't even want to think about the tv news treatment (thankfully, I don't own one). Mitchel is a fellow Green activist in New York City. -Thomas]
The Passing and Passion of Grandpa Al Lewis, 1910-2006
by Mitchel Cohen
What a sad day ... and what an incredible, artistic and political life!
I first met Al Lewis in person in New Haven in 1971, at a
demonstration in support of the jailed Black Panthers. I remember
it being a very raw afternoon, and I kept staring at the
man I'd later introduce myself to, wondering at the famous
fellow standing all by himself unlike so many actors and
famous people, and then lost in the small crowd that turned up.
Later, I was to learn that Grandpa was rarely alone in
that way. Campaigning with him for Governor all over the
City with other Green stalwarts like Frank Carr, Craig Seeman,
Michele Daneles, Afrime Derti, Carl Lawrence, Pete Dolack,
Johann Moore and Robb Ross -- the core of the Brooklyn
Greens at that time -- I was struck by the amount of
adulation and genuine affection that so many people had
for Al, especially (gulp!) cops, I suppose thanks to his role
in "Car 54 Where Are You?" as well as the Munsters. They
all wanted Al to sign autographs. I collected hundreds of
signatures to put Al on the ballot from cops riding home
on the Long Island Railroad and the Staten Island ferry.
It was amazing, the transformation that came over people
when Al greeted them. He ended up getting just over the
50,000 votes we needed to put the Green Party onto the
ballot in NY State.
Al was also incredibly scholarly, a voluminous reader and
fluent in Yiddish, which he used during his borscht-belt
schticks, regalling his audiences with gossip and hilariously
funny stories about his friends, which included certain
Mafia chieftans like Gotti. He told Greens over and over
about how his first political protest was when his mama
brought him to defend Sacco and Vanzetti, and he fought
for political prisoners all his life.
One of his disappointments in the last few years was his
difficulty in being able to read due to problems with his
eyesight. But he maintained his sabre-slashing anarchistic
stance when dealing with U.S. politicians, prison waradens
and warmongers to the end.
Al and Karen were incredibly supportive of many people,
including me, personally, when I was a Green Party candidate
and as an organizer against pesticides and genetic engineering.
They sponsored several events with the Roosevelt Island
Greens at which I was the featured speaker, and contributed
generously to the NoSpray Coalition over the years as well
as to my campaign for Mayor on the Green Party line in 2001.
I remember when Al was already sick, a Reclaim the Streets
party/demo had ended up on Roosevelt Island. We marched
past Al and Karen's apartment, and I started the chant:
"We love you Grandpa, we miss you, get better!" and pretty
soon the hundreds of us took up the chant, lights came on
in the apartments, people looked out the windows, and everyone
waved, knowing whom we were chanting about as we snaked by.
To say Al will be missed is, as is often the case, a vast
understatement. Among the many issues that he took on, the
fight to get rid of the onerous Rockefeller drug laws in
New York (in which people have been imprisoned for 20 years
and more for first offense non-violent drug charges) was
dear to his heart, and he fought the thanatocracy ceaselessly
to free the hundreds of those imprisoned, their lives
meaninglessly stolen from them.
This crotchety, funny, whip-smart, annoying, funny, ribald,
funny, generous, funny(!) and always dependable anti-racist
activist was, in my opinion, one of the great people of
the century, a legend walking among us. I loved him dearly,
even (or especially) when we argued, and so did many,
A life well-lived? Hell, a life in REVOLT!
Grandpa Al Lewis -- Presenté !
- Mitchel Cohen
Sent to me without attribution. Click on image for larger version. This was originally titled, "The American World", but I have this naive hope that at least a bare majority of the non-Bush voters have some slightly greater knowledge of the world around them...
February 3, 2006
Science Friday: If you use Google Earth, take a look at this: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/23/flying_car.kmz
Then come back and discuss.
Bush can start his own wars, preemptive or otherwise, is the ultimate interpreter of foreign treaties, he defines enemy combatants as he wishes, he detains prisoners for as long as he wishes, he continues surveillance on foreign intercepts for as long as he wishes, he tortures as he wishes, he can ignore Congressional directives and statutes such as those creating FISA, as well as essential elements of our Constitution.
This litany has no end. We cannot now anticipate all the ramifications of the "unitary" president and his claim of "inherent powers," except that it clearly allows him to fully take over the government.
Representatives from Procter & Gamble don't go on CNBC and talk about the fact that the perception exists that Tide could do a better job of removing stains. They just show evidence to the contrary. This kind of message craft, starting from a negative assumption, is unheard of in the corporate world. It's a lesson Democrats need to learn if they're serious about winning the hearts and minds here at home.
This pisses me off. I'm exploring what I can do in response. Stay tuned.
February 2, 2006
Take a look at Laughing Liberally.
Saving democracy one laugh at a time.
It appears to depend on who answers the question... if you're a member of the British media, he has clearly and unambiguously turned against the war in Iraq and thinks we need to get out now... if you're a member of the American media, he is "troubled" and has "doubts" and his opinion is less than clear. If you read American press, 17% of returning American soldiers have PTSD (~20,000), if you read the British press, "almost a third, 40,000" return with a mental illness.
I've posted a series of links below the fold to what stories I could find about how Blake Miller is dealing with the aftermath of his service in Iraq. Using Google News, I was surprised to be presented with a remarkably sparse set of results, considering his former media prominence... a few local stories, a couple of stories in major urban newspapers (but not the big daddy papers), two stories in British papers, and that was pretty much it (plus one apparent appearance on a television talk show). You'd think the story of the man behind the most iconic visual image of the war in Iraq would command more attention.
Read the links, and tell me what you think - the articles all seem to be based on a single interview, or at least a series of interviews producing a remarkably similar set of quotes (some of which are more detailed than others); makes me think that Miller held a press conference or group interview. The divergence of the takes, to me, is startling.
What also is startling, and saddening, is how much harm he and other Iraq war veterans have suffered - even though he's physically intact (mostly: he has no hearing in one ear, his right, which I can personally attest to is quite a pain in the ass), he's severely scared, mentally - but is he on any "casualty" list of killed or wounded veterans? No. He's only 21, but he sounds like he's aged a hundred years since graduating high school, and he's clearly not the same man who left Pike County, Kentucky, three years ago.
'Marlboro Man' Turns Against War He Symbolised, by Andrew Buncombe, The Independent, February 2, 2006
The former Marine says he now questions the US tactics and believes troops should have been withdrawn some time ago. He said: "When I was in the service my opinion was whatever the Commander-in-Chief's opinion was. But after I got out, I started to think about it. The biggest question I have now is how you can make a war on an entire country when a certain group from that country is practising terrorism against you. It's as if a gang from New York went to Iraq and blew some stuff up and Iraq started a war against us because of that."
I'M BURNED OUT: Marlboro Man, American GI hero of Iraq, has post traumatic stress, Ryan Parry Us Correspondent In New York, The Mirror, 31 January 2006
The man who once thought George Bush could do no wrong as "Commander in Chief" also believes the war is a disaster.
"I'm glad I fought for my country but I wouldn't do it again. It blows my mind that we're still over there."
Stricken by doubts about the war, he said: "After Fallujah it was time for us to pull out of Iraq. How can you make war on an entire country when only a certain group is against you?"
American media (you'd think there would be an article in the NYT or the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times or USA Today):
THE WAR WITHIN, Matthew B. Stannard, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer, Sunday, January 29, 2006
[A long, detailed profile, lots of quotes and supporting material, but not one unambigous statement about his feelings regarding the war, or our presence there today.]
Miller himself seems torn -- proud of the troops fighting for freedom, but wondering whether there was a peaceful way, to find terrorists in Iraq without invading.
There was no time for such questions in Fallujah. But now, at night, when he can't sleep, Miller thinks of the men he saw through his rifle scope, and wonders: Were they terrorists fighting against America? Or men fighting to protect their homes?
Former Marine is "Marlboro Man" no more, By Jim Warren, Knight Ridder Newspapers, Lexington Herald-Leader (kentucky.com), January 22nd, 2006
He has gone through other changes, including doubts about the war.
"When I was in the service, my opinion was whatever the commander in chief's opinion was," he said. "But after I got out, I really started thinking about it. ... The biggest question I have is how you can make war on an entire country, when a certain group from that country is practicing terrorism against you. It's as if a gang from New York went to Iraq and blew up some stuff, and Iraq started a war against us because of that.
"I agree with taking care of terrorism. But after terrorism was dealt with, the way it was after Fallujah, maybe that was the time for us to pull out. That's just my opinion. It blows my mind that we've continued to drag this out."
'Marlboro Marine': Home Front Woes, CBS NEWS, Early Show, NEW YORK, Jan. 3, 2006
[All about the PTSD, which I think was the main point of Blake Miller going public, trying to enlighten folks about the effects of it and the lack of resources, etc. and difficulties American veterans are having. Nothing about the war at all. -Thomas]
Startling difference? ... or perhaps not that startling, if you share my cynical opinion about American media, or the conviction that media elsewhere are determined to spin the war in a negative fashion (as a conservative might believe). Deliberate? Unconscious? A total conincidence of focus?
I've never sent a telegram in my life, nor received one, to my knowledge... but I still think this is worth noting.
She quotes the Shrub thusly:
"Marine Staff Sergeant Dan Clay was killed last month fighting the enemy in Falluja," Bush said. "He left behind a letter to his family, but his words could just as well be addressed to every American. Here is what Dan wrote: 'I know what honor is. It has been an honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to.... Never falter! Don't hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting.'"
Fairly generic and conventional, right? Well, read what else Mr. Clay had to say, in his last letter home to his parents (which has been publicly posted on the 'net):
"This letter being read means that I have been deemed worthy of being with Christ. … This is not a bad thing. It is what we hope for. The secret is out. He lives and His promises are real! It is not faith that supports this .... but fact and I now am a part of the promise. Here is notice! Wake up! All that we hope for is Real. Not a hope. But Real."
Sounds about as nutty as your average Islamic fundamentalist's conviction that blowing himself up in the name of Allah is a guaranteed ticket to heaven. God help the rest of us trapped between these two mentalities. Can't we just lock them all up in a room together and let them fight it out among themselves, and leave the rest of us out of it?
Aaron points out that Bush is clearly making a thinly veiled effort to reach out to his evangelical Christian base by selecting this particular casualty from among the 2000 plus other alternatives available (and there is no doubt that the choice was deliberate)... but that the rest of the world, particularly Muslims already suspicious of the motives behind the war, are just as likely to hear the message, and interpret it as validation that what is happening in Iraq is a Christian "crusade" against Islam. The Bush Administration can't be so tone deaf as not to realize this, so one can reasonably assume that such a perception isn't that far off... or that Bush doesn't give a damn about the reaction of the rest of the world, and the implications such a reaction will have for national security, and the safety and security of Americans abroad and our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and the success of their missions there.
The police have been busy doing a CYA after removing Cindy Sheehan and Beverly Young, wife of Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young (R-Fla.) from the floor during the President's State of the Union address (apparently, another foreign born American citizen was also removed, for unclear reasons, perhaps for that alone). As Cindy Sheehan's personal statement makes clear, the Capitol police have a hair trigger when it comes to any type of "protestor" (I bet the Congressman's wife wasn't treated that way, and she definitely was not arrested)... that the Emperor has no clothes must not be mentioned.
That said, as Beverly Young discovered, suppression of one type of political expression rapidly becomes suppression of all forms of expression, in the name of "order".
Mrs. Young was sitting about six rows from first lady Laura Bush and asked to leave. She argued with police in the hallway outside the House chamber.
“They said I was protesting,” she told the St. Petersburg Times. “I said, “Read my shirt, it is not a protest.' They said, 'We consider that a protest.' I said, 'Then you are an idiot.'”
Blowback. Hopefully, a few more people on both sides of the ailse will wake up and smell the coffee as a result.
Of course, it would help if the actions of our representatives in Congress reflected the true level of discontent and inner division within the country; pretending that everything is normal, and going along with polite conventions, is no longer appropriate. Why no protest or other sign of dissatisfaction from other members of Congress during the state of the union address? Politeness and respect for the office must go by the wayside, when the man holding it fails to respect convention and decorum and standards of conduct himself, and instead disgraces it.
If I were in Congress, I would have held a press conference the next day, announcing my intention to engage in direct action and potential civil disobedience at the next available opportunity, and wearing a t-shirt with a message against the war in Iraq - one that I would wear onto the floor for the next week, especially if I knew I'd be on CSPAN.
The lack of institutional reaction demonstrates that the members of the Democratic Party sitting in Congress still don't get the scale of the threat facing the nation. To them, more or less, it is still business as usual. I doubt that the phrase, "incipient fascism" has even crossed most of their minds. Really, by this point, if the Democratic Party had a pulse, there would be Congressfolk out protesting in front of the White House daily, getting arrested for civil disobedience, and generally expressing their grave concern and great dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs in the most emphatic way possible... making the level of dissent and rancour so obvious, that even the mass media couldn't pretend to ignore it.
Instead, we have a bunch of genial, bland, gutless wonders issuing press releases and making polite statements of opposition, but who are unwilling to take it to the next level; Sam Farr (D-Santa Cruz), my representative in Congress, is an excellent example of this. He's a nice guy, very sincere, votes right on 90% of the issues, but is never out on front on anything national - very constituent service focused. Fine, perhaps, during normal times, but not at all appropriate when facing a crisis of this magnitude; Santa Cruz should be at the forefront of the anti-war movement, but instead, the political establishment here has largely followed his lead, and stayed out of the headlines.
We need Cindy Sheehan (or the like) in Congress, for exactly this reason - I wish she was running for Congress against some lame House member (Tom Lantos?), where she had a real chance of winning, instead of for Senate against DiFi (which everyone presumes is pretty much going to be a purely symbolic act). There shouldn't be a single pro-war Democrat in this Congress that goes without a primary challenge. Hell, even the "anti-war" ones should be challenged on their level of activism on this issue. Where is the peace movement?!?
Where is the dissent - do folks really not realize the scale of the catastrophe that is Iraq... setting aside the toll in dead and injured soldiers (tens of thousands), which I think the peace movement focuses on to it's detriment (everyone winds up comparing the numbers to the 50,000 fatalities experienced in Vietnam, and thinks, comparatively, that things aren't so bad), is $1 trillion down the drain a number so unreal, that it just can't be grasped? Bluntly, far more lives have been lost at home (think fatalities in underfunded emergency rooms, drug overdoses, untreated medical conditions, etc. etc.) than in Iraq, as a result of the war. This is a fundamental mistake on the part of the peace movement: all politics is local; the closer to home the effects of the war can be seen, the more motivated people are to get involved.
... and what about all of us? The streets should be boiling... we all know that the powers that be won't act, until they feel their control over the situation and the system is threatened, until the streets are so restive that the possibility of "anarchy" becomes real, and they begin fearing for their personal fortunes and the economic and social stability of the nation. Maybe we should blog a little less, and spend a little more time creating media friendly protest events, or dogging our elected representatives in public about taking a stand?
February 1, 2006
It gets worse every day. At AMERICABlog, Pentagon trying to censor top US political cartoonist. I'm not even going to quote from it, just go read it.
This is THE MILITARY DIRECTLY THREATENING A NEWSPAPER on behalf of the Republican Party. This is WAYYYY beyond unprecedented. This is past "find a safe refuge in Canada" time. This is a serious WATCH YOUR BACKS!!!!
Update - the threats keep-a-coming!
You are an enemy of this country. Your day will come.
Does anyone remember the weeks of headlines when Hillary Clinton's former law firm was accused of shredding documents? (It was just another false accusation).
So how does that coverage compare to today? Here's something to compare: From Leak prober got supersecret files,
Fitzgerald's letter says that "we have learned that not all email of the Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system."Never forget that a few major conservative corporations own and control all major media outlets.
Through Talking Points Memo
Update - Digby, too.
I've always hated moderate Republicans. Usually they're completely ordinary Republicans, with all the harm that that entails, and are called "moderate" only because they are pro-choice and/or pro-gay.
But when the chips are down, they aren't even that. Not a single one of them supported the Alito filibuster, which was where the decision was made, and only one of them (Chafee) even voted against Alito in the meaningless final vote.
The only real moderate Republican in the Senate is Jeffords, who left the party. Snowe, Specter, Chafee, Collins, Gordon Smith, Norm Coleman and the rest all could have followed Jeffords' example, but none of them did. In the end, they all supported the Religious Right.
Moderate Republicans are all allowed to wander off the reservation from time to time, in order to show sucker voters that they're "independent". But when the chips are down they're just Republicans -- on every issue, including abortion.
This should be the end of NARAL. For decades they've been supporting pro-choice Republicans, even in opposition to pro-choice Democrats. Supposedly this was part of a tough-minded long-term strategy, but the future is now. And what did they get for it? Nothing whatsoever.
For me privacy rights and choice should not be negotiable, but when pro-choice voters get all heated up about occasional Democratic proposals to use abortion as a bargaining chip, I don't know what to think. For thirty years or more NARAL has treated every single Democratic issue except abortion (and maybe gay rights) as a bargaining chip. They have expected loyalty, but they've given none.
Pro-choice women should ditch NARAL. NARAL has failed.
(Jane Hamsher is pissed too, though she doesn't go as far as I do).
I came away believing that a consensus exists among economists across the ideological spectrum on at least one important issue: America's entitlement spending -- mostly Social Security and Medicare -- is not sustainable.It's the TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH that are not sustainable. THAT is why we will have trouble providing for our people as we get older.
United Aitlines was supposed to fund its pensions. Instead, it paid that money out as dividends, increased share prices, bonuses or otherwise enriching what we might call the owner class. Same with all the other companies that were supposed to be funding their pension obligations. They handed the money out to the rich instead, and now say "too bad, ain't gonna pay you" to the people who did the actual work.
America was supposed to fund its Social Security. Instead it paid that money out as tax cuts, corporate subsidies, no-bid contracts, whatever, to the owner class. They handed the money out to the rich instead, and now says "too bad, ain't gonna pay you" to the people who did the actual work.
Think of some idiot (Bush) setting off a bomb outside a building full of people, the bomb damages the building but not quite bad enough that it collapses, and then you have to stand there holding up a wall. If you let go the wall collapses, kills all the people in the building, and kills you. But while you are standing there the people are fighting instead of doing what they need to do to shore up the building themselves. You're getting tired of standing there holding up the wall. But, like I said, if you let go the building collapses on the people and kills you, too. THAT is what Bush has brought us.
Nobody knows why we are in Iraq. Or, putting it a different way, everybody knows -- a different reason. Every smallest demographic was fed a reason they might buy into. Recent MyDD polling shows what I mean:
...we asked people why they support or oppose the war. We did so with our open-ended question 13: "Why is that?"The larget single reason was "Remove Saddam from power", and 7.4% said THAT was the reason we are in Iraq. Saddam gone is working out great - FOR IRAN, not us.)...Support Sufficient information regarding weapons: 6.2 Remove dictator Saddam Hussein / free Ir: 7.4 Support family / people in armed forces: .9 We are in danger / we have to protect ou: 5.1 Support our President, G. W. Bush / elec: 3.5 We were attacked first at the World Trad: 3.6 Better there than in the USA: 3.5 Inevitable / someone had to do something: 3.3 Should have dealt with Saddam Hussein du: .3 We must fight terrorism: 5.8 It is the right thing to do: 3.0 Support - other: 2.2 Support - don't know / refused: 1.1
So we seem to be in Iraq for twelve different reasons - which means THERE IS NO REASON WE ARE THERE. Except that we ARE there, and if we leave now a civil war will kill hundreds of thousands and possibly start a regional and potentially global conflict. We are there because Bush screwed up so bad that we are in a mess we can't really leave. Great.
Cindy Sheehan, after being arrested last night for the crime of opposing Bush: What Really Happened,
I told him that my son died there. That's when the enormity of my loss hit me. I have lost my son. I have lost my First Amendment rights. I have lost the country that I love. Where did America go? I started crying in pain.
What did Casey die for? What did the 2244 other brave young Americans die for? What are tens of thousands of them over there in harm's way for still? For this? I can't even wear a shrit that has the number of troops on it that George Bush and his arrogant and ignorant policies are responsible for killing.
Am I the only person in the world who didn't know that all McDonald's have free wifi? Someday soon, the entire world will have free wifi.