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May 31, 2006

The Death of The Internet

A clip to watch, on Net Neutrality.

If you let the big corporations decide what you get to see on the Internet, you won't be able to see anyting but Rush Limbaugh.

Do you think I'm kidding? Turn on your radio and listen to what happened there.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:50 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

What War Is

What should you expect when you start a war? A "cakewalk" was how one leading Republican described it, back when they were trying to get it started, trying to sell it like soap - or, more accurately, like a video game experience. PLEASE read the linked piece, in which he talks about "fear-mongering" military analysts, to see how we got into the mess we are in.

The mess we are in: U.S. troops kill pregnant woman in Iraq

U.S. forces killed two Iraqi women — one of them about to give birth — when the troops shot at a car that failed to stop at an observation post in a city north of Baghdad, Iraqi officials and relatives said Wednesday.

Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, 35, was being raced to the maternity hospital in Samarra by her brother when the shooting occurred Tuesday.

Jassim, the mother of two children, and her 57-year-old cousin, Saliha Mohammed Hassan, were killed by the U.S. forces, according to police Capt. Laith Mohammed and witnesses.

THIS is what war is. THIS is what the Republicans have brought us.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:09 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Voting Machines - Missing the Point

The Washington Post writes a long article and misses the point. Debating the Bugs of High-Tech Voting,

The newer technology, such as touch-screen and optical scan systems, held the promise of making voting more secure, transparent and accessible. But as the new technology was implemented, voting rights activists raised questions about whether vendors had paid enough attention to security. Activists pushed for the use of technology that still provided a paper record.

Many of the criticisms of voting technology were originally dismissed as exaggerations promulgated by partisans displeased with election results. But the criticisms have been viewed with increasing gravity as prominent computer scientists have rallied behind them. Although it has not been shown that an election was compromised by a security flaw, several elections since 2000, including in this year's primaries, have experienced problems with the technology that have delayed results.

The paper records are the point. Security of the machines does not matter, the code in the computers does not matter, nothing matters if the machines print a paper ballot that the voter looks at and puts into a ballot box for election officials to count. That is PROOF of how the voter voted. If you have the paper to count, there is no point in trying to rig the machines because you'll get caught. You can still have instant election results that come from the machine. People will trust it if you can go to the paper and count it. If you can count it you can prove it. If you can't count it, you can't prove it.

Without a paper record that the voter has looked at and put in a ballot box the election is worthless. It is based on trust, not proof. Without a paper record you just have to trust what the operators of the voting machines tell you. You walk up to a computer, push a few buttons on a screen, and then later they tell you who won. Right.

Who do these voting machine companies refuse to provide printers, so the voter can look at a ballot and put it in a ballot box, so that later the ballots can be counted to verify - prove - the election results? This would increase their profits, but they won't do it! Why?

Without a paper ballot printed by these machines, there is no way to prove what the voters wanted. There is no way to prove that the machine actually recorded your vote the way you voted. Assurances do not matter to the voter, who can just say, "Prove it." If you can't prove it you can't prove it. And every single citizen has the right to demand proof, without being mocked and called names.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:54 PM | Comments (7) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 30, 2006

Other People Noticed

May 17 I left a comment to the May 13 post titled, Net Neutrality and the Blogad, saying,

Readers - I can't verify whether these anti-regulation posts are from the same person or not. If not, it might show the kind of money being put into this campaign to simulate "grassroots."
It looks like I wasn't the only one with questions.

MyDD :: Fishy Commenters and Net Neutrality links to this post, Do Broadband Providers Employ Blog Comment Shills? which notices the same thing.

Over the past four or five months, I’ve noticed that a group of commenters to blog posts related to network neutrality tend to say the same things over and over again. What’s interesting is that there’s a core group of the same commenters that show up time and again saying the same things (although not always phrased the same way) repeatedly.
At MyDD, Matt writes,
There's nothing wrong with commercial speech, and it's even questionable that financial disclosures are terribly important. But hanging around in comment threads pretending to be a gang of ordinary citizens commenting on an issue while actually operating as a paid lobbying or marketing operation is probably over some unstated ethical line.
What do YOU think?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:31 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 29, 2006

Repeat - Starving Hysterical Naked

A repeat from December 1, 2004: Starving Hysterical Naked

Angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,

who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,

who passed through universities with radiant eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,

who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,

who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall...

What the FUCK is he talking about?
Free polls from Pollhost.com

FYI I won't be as obscure as last time because everyone SHOULD read Howl, by Allen Ginsberg -- the whole poem is here and here. Looking for this, I discovered that May 20 was the 50th anniversary of its publication! Also even though it says zero comments at the old post, there are coments still there if you click.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:44 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A War for Unstated Reasons

On the comments to this thread someone asked those of us who had opposed the Iraq War from the beginning exactly why we had done so. Below is part of my answer. (The other part was just that I had expected the war to turn out about the way it actally did turn out):

As for the pretexts, I did not believe that Saddam was a threat to the US, I did not believe that he had anything to do with 9/11, I did not believe that he had or would soon get nuclear weapons, and I did not believe that chemical and biological weapons should count as WMD. As time went on, I also did not believe that Bush intended to bring democracy to the Middle East, or would be able to do so if he tried.

The specifics aren't the most important point. There was a terrible breakdown of the political process and also of the media, and this breakdown was the result of deliberate sabotage. The decision to go to war was a dishonest stampede with many collaborators, among them Beinart. The public was basically excluded from whatever the actual process of decision-making was, and was never informed of the actual reasons for the war.

I suspect that some of the more militarist and imperialist warbloggers did, in fact, correctly understand Bush's motives.

It's an enormous problem when political decisions of major significance are made on the basis of secret motives. Even the supporters who think they understand what's going on (nudge-nudge wink-wink) canfind themselves being cheated in the end. It amounts to unconstrained, unchecked personal rule of exactly the type that the English tradition and the American constitutional tradition have long tried to prevent. And one consequence is that ordinary Americans who oppose the big plan on the basis of the weakness of its official justifications cannot be argued with, but only can be vilified and accused of treason.

Posted by John Emerson at 9:31 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 28, 2006

A Good List of Republican Lies

Go to And The Clocks Were Striking Thirteen: Swimming Upstream and scroll down a bit.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:43 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Fool

Bush Likens Fighting Radicals to Cold War,

President Bush, likening the war against Islamic radicals to the Cold War threat of communism, told U.S. Military Academy graduates on Saturday that America's safety depends on an aggressive push for democracy, especially in the Middle East.
So this week we're at war against "Islamic radicals" instead of just al Queda, or "terrorists"?

And what's this about "democracy?" We have created an Islamic State in Iraq, controlled by Iran, not "democracy." This blog and many others understood and warned that this was the only possible outcome of overthrowing Saddam Hussein.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:02 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The defining issue of our time is the media.

Go read Jamison Foser's "The defining issue of our time is the media". Take a look, if you want, at the pieces by Eric Boehlert and Bob Somerby on recent media silliness.

What's missing here (and also in Brad DeLong's frequent media criticisms) is the recognition that this is a management problem. When there's a consistent pattern of bad behavior, you have to conclude that the bad behavior is deliberate.

Below is the meat of a letter I wrote to Somerby. I've written a similiar letter to Foser and have commented many times on this topic both here and on DeLong's threads:

I've been arguing for some time now that the bylined reporters and commentators aren't agents. They just watch patterns of hiring and promotion and do what seems to work best. They're lackeys giving their bosses what they want.

Responsibility has to ascribed to faceless management and to the owners (Sulzberger and Graham, for example). For whatever reason, for the last ten years or more all of the media have swung consistently right.

My theory is that the reason is financial, and that the tax cuts and other goodies have caused financial management to interfere with operations. (Both Sulzberger and Graham are simultaneously business managers and operations managers of their respective publications).

This is bad news indeed. The media cannot be shamed into cleaning up their act, because bad reporting is a deliberate bottom-line policy, not an oversight or a mistake.

I have suggested that only new national media at every level (cable, TV, newspaper, radio) can improve the situation. Present players are incorrigible and inveterate. Air America was a good start, but not nearly enough. (I was horrified at the unenthusiastic reception AA got from many liberals and Democrats. Sometimes I thank that Democrats are too stupid to live).

New media are doable, but I'm the only one talking about it. The money is there (it's not just Soros, there are others).

I've been saying this for over a year, but I'm a crank's crank, and it's had no resonance at all.

John Emerson


I suppose I should address the silly idea that what I have proposed here is a "conspiracy theory". There's nothing paranoid about saying that the management of a given business controls the business that it manages.

Posted by John Emerson at 8:01 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 27, 2006

War on terror? Don't you believe it.

More terrorists loose in the U.S.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:33 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Eulogy for Leonard Salle

Eulogy for Leonard Salle, delivered May 27:

“Progressive Infrastructure” – Leonard would have wanted me to start with that. That’s what he said – all the time.

I’m Dave Johnson, a Fellow at the Commonweal Institute. Kate asked me to talk about what the Commonweal Institute is, and the contribution Leonard made to the country’s political environment.

Before the Commonweal Institute there was a smaller think tank, grinding away, doing the intellectual work developing a vision for a new approach to progressive politics. That was what I call the Kate and Leonard Institute.

Kate and Leonard saw something that for some reason so many on the progressive side of politics didn’t see – that the conservatives were doing something right. Excuse the pun – Leonard would.

They saw that conservatives were marketing what President Bush would call “conservativitiyism,” and doing it very well. In fact, everywhere you go, you hear the basic marketing message repeated that conservatives are good, and liberals are bad.

And they saw that progressives were marketing ... well, they weren’t marketing anything.

So Kate and Leonard founded the Commonweal Institute, to go out and market to the public the idea that Progressive values and a Progressive approach to issues – democracy and community – benefit the public more than a conservative “you’re on your own” approach.

For those who don’t know, the word “Commonweal” means “the common good.” And that’s why Leonard cared so much about this – not for himself, but for the common good.

Kate has described their efforts as being like the little dog that grabs your pantleg in its teeth and won’t let go until you pay attention – and that’s what happened. Over the last several years Kate and Leonard and the rest of us at Commonweal have pounded incessantly on this idea that progressives need to market core progressive values to the public, to start restoring people’s understanding and acceptance of progressives and our ideas.

We said we need to stop looking to every next election, expecting some messiah candidate to show up and lead us out of the wilderness, back to a majority status, and instead think long-term and big-picture. We said we have to stop talking about narrow issues that split us apart, and start talking about the underlying values that tie our issues together.

We said we have to build an infrastructure of progressive organizations to educate and activate the public and to support the efforts of progressive candidates and elected officials. This is what Leonard meant when he would repeat “Progressive Infrastructure” at every opportunity.

And first a few obscure blogs (like mine) picked up on this idea, and then more, and then some more widely read ones started talking about it, and then more. The idea grew. A few months ago a best-selling book came out, Crashing the Gate, reflecting these ideas and referencing the Commonweal Institute. One of the authors spoke at a national event called the Progressive Roundtable, put on by Commonweal Institute. This was a gathering of leaders of progressive organizations from around the country, here to talk about building progressive infrastructure.

Leonard was here to help make that happen and to be part of it.

The other day the Washington Post wrote about Leonard and Commonweal.

Leonard the punster was passionate about Commonweal. He would have died to see Commonweal in the Washington Post.

In response to a comment, Commonweal Institute will go on. Its mission is important. If you want to find out ways to help, please visit this web page.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:04 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Political Cartoons

Bob Geiger has been collecting The Saturday Cartoons at Democrats.com

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:35 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 25, 2006

Just Blatant

Eric Boehlert's great book Lapdogs has an entire chapter dedicated to ABC's The Note. Before reading this book I did not know how influential The Note is. From the book,

It is impossible to overstate the behind-the-scenes influence of The Note. Whereas ten or even five years ago a serious examination of the Beltway press might put the work of New York Times's D.C. bureau under a microscope and dissect it for clues to media trends and emphasis, today it's The Note the most succinctly speaks for the political press elite, and whose body of work deserves close attention.
Boehlert goes on with examples of The Note's influence. And then he goes on to show how The Note has a Republican/conservative "conventional wisdom" anti-Democrat bias.

The other day I wrote about how The Note was carrying on Republican smears, writing,

Democrats have to root root root for bad news. And no bad news source is better for the Democrats' election prospects than the bad news from Iraq.
But The Note today tops itself, and comes out blatantly in support of Republicans over Democrats. From The Note today:
A majority of the minority will be in their hearts for higher taxes, universal health care, a heightened emphasis on civiil liberties, and a dramatic and swift reduction of troops from Iraq. They know it, the RNC, NRCC, NRSC, and The Note all know it — the Democrats just have to hope that the American people don't find out until February.
Can they be more blatant?

(Through Atrios)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:14 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

They're Going To Ban BuzzFlash

Update -- WE WON! Go read.

The Republicans are trying to "deregulate" the Internet. They're about to allow the big telecommunications companies to decide which websites their customers (YOU) can and can't see. This is what "Net Neutrality" is about. If you are against letting big companies decide what websites you can see, that means you are in favor of Net Neutrality.

MAKE NO MISTAKE about what this will mean. In the 1980s the Republicans "deregulated" radio and television by getting rid of the Fairness Doctrine and allowing a few big companies to buy up all the stations, and now you can't turn on the radio without hearing that conservatives are good and liberals are bad. And you will not ever see a representative of organized labor on your television telling you about the benefits of joining a union. In the South the ONLY viewpoint you ever hear is the Republican Party viewpoint. MAKE NO MISTAKE about what "deregulating" the Internet will mean. It means they will ban BuzzFlash, and DailyKos, and Digby and any other voice that speaks out against the corporate takeover of your country.

Here is what you can do today. Matt Stoller has a post up at MyDD with a list of members of Congress to call TODAY. Matt says

Urge them to support the bipartisan Sensenbrenner-Conyers Net Neutrality bill (HR 5417) in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday -- and to support it without amendment. Saying without amendment is key.
Here is the list:

Howard Berman (D-Calif. 28th)
Phone: 202-225-4695
Fax: 202-225-3196

William Delahunt (D-Mass. 10th)
Phone: (202) 225-3111
Fax: (202) 225-5658

Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas 18th)
(202) 225-3816 phone
(202) 225-3317 Fax

Marty Meehan (D-Mass. 5th)
Phone: (202) 225-3411
Fax: (202) 226-0771

Bobby Scott (D-Va. 3rd)
Phone: (202) 225-8351
Fax: (202) 225-8354

Chris Van Hollen (D-Md. 8th)
Phone: (202) 225-5341
Fax: (202) 225-0375

Maxine Waters (D-Calif. 35th)
Phone: (202) 225-2201
Fax: (202) 225-7854

Mel Watt (D-N.C. 12th)
Tel. (202) 225-1510
Fax (202) 225-1512

Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y. 9th)
Phone: (202) 225-6616
Fax: (202) 226-7253

Robert Wexler (D-Fla. 19th)
phone: (202) 225-3001
fax: (202) 225-5974

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:51 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 24, 2006

Pick An Issue

YouTube - "Un. Able. To. Govern."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:52 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 23, 2006

ABC's Note Says Democrats Want America To Lose In Iraq

Remember the storm back when MSNBC's Chris Matthews compared Americans who are concerned about the war in Iraq to Osama bin Laden?

The narrative continues. ABC News: The Note today writes,

As is always the case with the out-of-power party, Democrats have to root root root for bad news. And no bad news source is better for the Democrats' election prospects than the bad news from Iraq.
That's right, they're repeating the narrative that Democrats are traitors who want America to lose the "war on terror."

Eric Boehlert's GREAT new book, Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush has an entire chapter dedicated to ABC's The Note, detailing not just its overwhelming use of Republicans narrative, but also it's enormous influence over the rest of the media.

At The Grit, Pater Daou writes,

The Note pushes it over the edge with what should be a completely unacceptable comment about Dems and Iraq. And why does it matter what some insider political site says? Because this is emblematic of the ease with which the media establishment slanders Democrats. This kind of dirt infects political coverage and filters to the general public.
(link through Atrios)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:45 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Corruption In Iraq

Through Juan Cole, this LA Times story, In Corruption, New Government of Iraq Faces a Tough Old Foe,

Iraqi government documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times reveal the breadth of corruption, including epic schemes involving hundreds of millions of dollars in government contracts, as well as smaller-scale cases such as the purchase of better grades by university students and the distribution of U.S.-issue pistols as party favors by a former Justice Ministry official.

"We are seeing corruption everywhere in Iraq — in every ministry, in every governorate," said Judge Radhi Radhi, head of the Commission on Public Integrity, Iraq's anti-corruption agency.

But what kind of system would we EXPECT Bush and the Republican Culture of Corruption to set up - an honest one? HA!

If you are an American soldier, you can thank the Republican Culture of Corruption for this:

Corruption helps fuel the insurgency too, Radhi said. "The terrorists help the criminals, and the criminals help the terrorists," he said. "Without corruption, we would have been able to defeat the terrorists by now."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:25 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 22, 2006

Election Coming II -- Indicting Dem Donors

A little while ago I posted about an Iraq withdrawal announcement, timed for the coming elections. Now this - indictments of top Democratic donors, timed for the election. The story seems designed for a Republican Party press release,

The firm and individuals there made $2.78 million in campaign donations to Democrats since 1999 compared to about $22,000 to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics.

... Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said Republicans would likely use the donations as ammunition in the November congressional elections and to blunt criticism about recent corruption scandals involving Republicans.

They will target "every individual Democrat in a competitive race in 2006 to begin with," Sabato said.

They also will mount "a P.R. offensive to make certain that this helps to balance the Democrats' charges of a culture of corruption that affects only Republicans," he said.

Gosh, why would the Bush administration indict a law firm?
By its own account, Milberg Weiss has won more than $45 billion in its suits against corporations.
In fact, the whole case seems so well crafted to support Republican ideology going into the campaign:
Yesterday's indictment of class action plaintiffs' law firm Milberg Weiss in connection with a fraud case promises to shine a bright spotlight on the need for tort reform.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:35 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Site Is Back Up

I don't know where the server went, but it's back.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:26 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Eyeglasses With No Frames

Guess how it's done. (Hint: OUCH!)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:21 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Just In Time For The Fall Elections

Raw Story reports that President Bush and British Prime Minister Blair are set to make a joint announcement of a 'phased withdrawal' from Iraq.

The process has already been carefully choreographed in an attempt to bolster the popularity of both Bush and Blair who have suffered domestically for their handling of the war.

The scope of the phased withdrawal, which will see the 133,000 US force levels cut to around 100,000 by the end of the year and British numbers almost halved, has already been agreed, one senior defence source said.

... It will be described as a "transition" to Iraqi security forces taking control of the country rather than a withdrawal to avoid it looking as though the allies are being forced out by rising levels of attacks on their forces.

The Americans have already lost more than 120 servicemen in the past six weeks, making it one of the worst periods for casualties since last autumn.

Just in time to make it appear that Iraq should not be an election issue.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:01 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 21, 2006

YearlyKOS Video

YouTube - YearlyKOS

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack


You're just not going to believe this outrage!!! Two men got on a school bus!!!!! This is just incredible!!!!!


It's a good thing the sentries are on duty, keeping watch to guard and protect us!!!!!!!!!

Imagine the widespread alarm and outrage that we would see all over the right-wing blogosphere if they looked like Timothy McVeigh!!!!!!!!!!!


Update - What some of what the RW blogs wrote, because two young Saudi guys got on a school bus:

Pay no attention to the towels atop the heads or the box cutters in the pockets of these fine gentlemen.
Unlike Islam, Christianity and Judaism do not preach taqiyah (deception of Infidels and non-believers). And they don't send people to scout out the possibility of attacks on school buses or airplanes.
We keep letting these @$$holes in... It's just a matter of time before they get us.
Picture of WTC burning
Terrorists are already among us. Let’s deal with questionable people in a consistent and forceful way. Step out of line while on a student visa, and you’re gone. Any other policy leaves us vulnerable. Can we be sure that the quota system from Saudi Arabia for students is not a conduit by which future terrorists can better understand their enemy?
...this is more likely a test run for a Beslan-type scenario.
We have plenty of reason to be concerned about possible terrorism operatives in south Florida.
Nope. These two don’t fit any profile for potential terrorists. ... Yeeeeeeah. Pull the other one, Ahmed. ... Nope. No reason to even REMOTELY suspect that they might have ties to the Jumpin’ Jihadis™.
This incident has all the hallmarks of a terrorist rehearsal. A full dress rehearsal in fact–checking access, routes, and reactions.
Was this deliberate to show how easy it is for possible 'illegals up to no good' to have access to America's children? I wonder.... above are their photos.
What if they were to memorize the identities of the students and then start stalking them? ... This is not good, because there's every chance that any of these students could be terrorist moles.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:11 PM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Voting Machine Story

The story has made its way to Newsweek. Thanks to The Brad Blog, I learned about this story: Will Your Vote Count in 2006?,

How bad are the problems? Experts are calling them the most serious voting-machine flaws ever documented. Basically the trouble stems from the ease with which the machine's software can be altered. It requires only a few minutes of pre-election access to a Diebold machine to open the machine and insert a PC card that, if it contained malicious code, could reprogram the machine to give control to the violator. The machine could go dead on Election Day or throw votes to the wrong candidate. Worse, it's even possible for such ballot-tampering software to trick authorized technicians into thinking that everything is working fine, an illusion you couldn't pull off with pre-electronic systems. "If Diebold had set out to build a system as insecure as they possibly could, this would be it," says Avi Rubin, a Johns Hopkins University computer-science professor and elections-security expert.

... The Diebold security gap is only the most vivid example of the reality that no electronic voting system can be 100 percent safe or reliable. That's the reason behind an initiative to augment these systems, adding a paper receipt that voters can check to make sure it conforms with their choices. The receipt is retained at the polling place so a physical count can be conducted. "When you're using a paperless voting system, there is no security," says David Dill, a Stanford professor who founded the election-reform organization Verified Voting.

... In other words, it's unlikely that every voter using an electronic voting device in 2006 will know for sure that his or her vote will be reflected in the actual totals. Six years after the 2000 electoral debacle, how can this be? [emphasis added]

This is an issue everyone should be making noise about.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:59 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 20, 2006

Bird Flu Mortality Rate Rises

Bird Flu Fatality Rate in Humans Climbs to 64% as Virus Spreads,

Bird flu has killed 64 percent of those people known to be infected with the virus this year, according to World Health Organization statistics, with the number of fatalities since Jan. 1 surpassing 2005 levels.

At least 47 of 73 people known to be infected with the H5N1 strain of avian influenza are reported to have died in the first five months of this year, the WHO said on its Web site yesterday. In 2005, 41 of 95 -- or 43 percent -- died.

... In Indonesia, where the rate of fatalities among H5N1 patients is 78 percent, officials are investigating a suspected 33rd death in the country.

Do YOU think the Bush government will be competent to handle things if/when bird flu starts spreading between humans? Or will they get all ideological and say that having a competent government in place to protect each other "makes people dependent?"

Your life depends on it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:55 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

People Want Transformational Change

One thing Republican rule has done is help a lot of people sort out their thinking. People have had enough. People are fed up with business-as-usual, and dysfunctional systems that allow wingnuts to gain power. People are ready for transformational change. Half-assed namby-pamby measures aren't going to satisfy anymore.

For example, people don't want to fix the energy problem by raising the fuel economy standards a bit in 2009, they want to invest $1 trillion in developing new, sustainable energy sources and moving away from using fossil fuels entirely - now. That's transformational change.

People don't want to tweak health insurance rules, they want to implement Medicare For All, where every single person in the United States receives health coverage and prescription coverage as a right.

People don't want to fix the political system by lowering the limits on PAC donations, they want public financing of elections.

People want to ban all use of corporate money for any politician or so-called charity or anything else.

People want to stop this idea of corporate personhood and similar nonsense that depowers the public. People want corporations to serve the public good.

Let's discuss this. Please leave comments with other examples of the kind of truly transformational change we need.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:22 AM | Comments (8) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Who Are The Bloggers?

Matthew Yglesias, writing at Talking Points Memo,

One of the most neglected aspects of the blogosphere, in my opinion, is that precisely because it's (mostly) composed of people who aren't professional journalists, it's composed of people who are professional doers of something else and know a great deal about what it is they "really" do. Consequently, the overall network of blogs contains a great deal of embedded knowledge. The consensus that emerges from that process can, of course, be mistaken but even though the most prominent people expressing that consensus may not be experts in the subject at hand (the most prominent bloggers tend to be generalists), the consensus will almost always be grounded in some kind of well-informed opinions.
In another post, Matthew links to a blogger from 1775, who wrote,

Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death

Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775.

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The questing before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free-- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:56 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 19, 2006


Senate Votes English as 'National Language',

After an emotional debate fraught with symbolism, the Senate yesterday voted to make English the "national language" of the United States, declaring that no one has a right to federal communications or services in a language other than English...
I think the idea that a majority can vote to require everyone to speak their language is a BIG mistake. You see, I live in California and my Spanish is not fluent.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:35 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Lies About Badges and Incubators

I saw a story on the right-wing blogs and other news sources this morning, that the Iranians had passed a law requiring Jews and Christians to wear identifying "badges." This follows a recent report, repeated everywhere and now conventional wisdom, that the President of Iran had called for "wiping Israel off the map." That report was not correct - knocked down by Juan Cole, who wrote about the (intentional?) mistranslation in his now-famous post about Christopher Hitchens and those in Washington fishing for (or creating) a pretext for war.

And, of course, the "badges" story is also false, circulated to drum up popular support for war against Iran. Yet ANOTHER enemy for us to hate, who is "just like Hitler." Like the "babies thrown from incubators" story that launched the first Gulf war, stories like this are circulated to lay down a smokescreen to confuse the public and create that pretext for war. See: Iran report of Holocaust-style badges questioned,

"It's absolutely factually incorrect," ... "Nowhere in the law is there any talk of Jews and Christians having to wear different colours. I've checked it with sources both inside Iran and outside."
"The Iranian people would never stand for it. The Iranian government wouldn't be stupid enough to do it."
Political commentator and 940 Montreal host Beryl Waysman says the report is true, that the law was passed two years ago.
I'm not defending Iran here - not at all. If the Iranian Ayatollahs have their way the world will be much worse off. I'm just pointing out that in the Propaganda Age, you have to learn to question what you hear - especially when it's designed to hit you in the gut and make you want to kill.

Here are some of the right-wing blogs reflexively repeating today's lie. To their credit, others have added updates to their own reflexive posts, letting readers know that the story may not be true.

Update - Juan Cole talks about this today. (Through Atrios)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:30 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Republicans and Racism

At Feminste, When Will the Right Renounce Racism — And Mean It?

Wake up, Republicans. This is some vile stuff you’re spewing, and allowing people like Coulter and Limbaugh to be the face of your party is troubling. Now, it may help you win elections, given that much of the American public is apparently racist, misogynist and homophobic as well, since they keep on voting for you (or perhaps they’re too busy living their lives to notice how repulsive you all are). But I don’t imagine that history will be particularly kind to you.

(Through Daou Report)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:16 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 18, 2006

Google Searches for the liberal family values meme

Prompted by the phrase used in the article below, "conservative family groups say parents should have a choice" and the apparent bias in sourced quotes, I executed the following searches on Google:

"liberal family group" 0
"conservative family group" results? ... 61

"liberal family values group" 0
"conservative family values group" results? ... 78

"liberal family values organization" 0
"conservative family values organization" results? ... 72

Hmm... bad, but not terribly significant. Then I tried the next combination:

"liberal family values" results? ... 327 cool?
"conservative family values" results? 26,200! ouch!

How the results for this one: "traditional family values" ... try 263,000!!! YIKES!!!

Talk about losing the meme war...

Anyone want to start a "liberal family values" organization?!? How about just using that phrase in your next blog posting? Yeesh!

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 10:33 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Harmful to Minors - Conservative Christian Paranoia

So, Merck has allegedly developed a 100% effective and safe* vacinne against HPV (human papilloma virus), which together cause "nearly 70 percent of all cervical cancers and genital warts". The vacinne can work in girls as young as 9 years old, and so could easily be incorporated into childhood vaccination routines and essentially wipe these things out. Wonderful news, right?

Not if you're Focus on the Family, or Physicians Consortium (an obscure ultra-conservative organization whose spokesperson is blithely quoted in this article without any background whatsoever being supplied about it) - apparently, these folks are prepared to risk having untold numbers of young women become infected by HPV and have god knows how many develop cervical cancer, et. al., as a result, because the virii in question are "sexually transmitted" and this makes them somehow exempt from the normal logic applied to preventative medicine.

To the point of this blog, note that no "liberal family groups" are quoted or identified as supporting adding this to the normal set of vaccinations. Instead, you have a politician and a bureaucrat vs. two right-wingers, one of them so far off the deep end that he makes Focus on the Family sound reasonable. Classic example of a "balanced" piece of journalism from modern American media.

Apparently the concept that:

a) young girls and women can be abused and raped, and while nothing reduces the horror of such an event, I'm sure they'd be happier not carrying around HPV and getting cervical cancer as a result... and not having to worry about it

b) young women (just like young men) can display awfully bad judgement and/or naivete, the results of which can be disasterous... but a lot less lingering and damaging if they aren't accompanied an HPV infection and cervical cancer!

I have two young step-daughters, 11 and 12, and while I sincerely and profoundly hope that nothing awful happens to them, and any lapses of judgement or naivete on their part are minimal and minimally traumatic, if there was a way I could get them a vaccine which would 100% guarantee immunity to any and all "STDs", I'd jump on it forthwith, and sleep much easier at night as a result. Do I think that such a vacination would somehow induce them to be promiscuous or careless? I'd sure hope not, sure would hope that some of the many things they've been told by parents, teachers, and as many authority figures as possible would be present in their mind at any moment of decision.

Seriously, I don't get the logic put forth by these people:

"This is a disease that's sexually transmitted," said Linda Klepacki, spokeswoman for Focus on the Family. "Because of that, this is a very personal subject and we feel parents should make that decision for their children."
Other opponents go further. Hal Wallace, head of the Physicians Consortium, says the vaccine would send kids a message that, "you just take this shot and you can be as sexually promiscuous as you want."

What are they afraid of? That a shot administered by a doctor at age 9 or 10 is somehow going to have a greater impact on their children's attitude and behavior than a lifetime of parental and churchly indoctrination?!? Explain to me, exactly, how that would work? If that is not the case, and parental and social and religious guidance all weigh more heavily in a young woman's decision making process, then what is there to fear?

Or is the truth that they don't see themselves as credible proponents of their own values, and need the "stick" of STDs to keep their kids in line? That's the only rationale I can see.

... and personally, given the rate at which young women are abused and raped, and the lifetime consequences of contracting HPV as a result, I don't see the "benefits" as a worthwhile tradeoff.

* I'll reserve my skepticism about any such claims for the moment.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 9:53 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Kick The Oil Habit

Go watch the video at Kick The Oil Habit

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

May 17, 2006

New Editor at Time

Stengel is named editor of Time magazine,

[Richard] Stengel, who is 51 years old, had worked at Time in several different capacities, including national and culture editor and also editor of Time's web site, Time.com. Most recently he was head of the National Constitution Center, a Philadelphia-based museum and nonpartisan think tank focusing on civic issues.
Media Transparency's research on National Constitution Center funding shows they receive substantial support from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation,
Richard DeVos is co-founder of Amway Corporation and owner of the Orlando Magic (2004), and served as the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Some information about Amway, from Amway's GOPyramid Scheme, by Bill Berkowitz,
According to Scheibeler, some Republicans received as much as $100,000 for appearing at an Amway event. "After accepting speaking fees, [House Speaker Newt] Gingrich arranged a reported last-minute modification in a comprehensive tax bill that allegedly provided a $283 million tax break to just one company -- Amway. One report called the tax break a $283 million payoff," investigative reporter Evelyn J. Pringle pointed out in a piece on Amway.

... Billionaire Richard DeVos, who appears regularly on the Forbes magazine list of richest Americans also owns the National Basketball Association's Orlando Magic and has been a member of the highly secretive Council for National Policy. ... For more than 35 years, the DeVos family has been a major benefactor of both the religious right and the Republican Party.

Oh please take the time to read that whole article! And follow the Council for National Policy link.

Other significant National Constitution Center funding comes from the F.M. Kirby Foundation. If you go to the page titled "The Conservative Movement Starts At Young America's Foundation" and scroll to the bottom, it says "© 1995-2006 Young America's Foundation F.M. Kirby Freedom Center"

I report, you decide. And send a few bucks to Media Transparency for making this research available.

Update - I'm not saying Mr. Stengel is a right-winger. This post reports on some of the funding of the National Constitution Center, where he was CEO. Meanwhile, Eric Alterman writes,

A massive congratulations to my friend Rick Stengel, who, depending on who you talk to, was the best point-guard in the history of Scarsdale High School. He’s done a few things since, here. And Jim Kelly went out with real class, didn’t he? (Now about how about a few liberal columnists?)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:45 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Presidential Authorization For Telcos To Lie

Think Progress � New Presidential Memorandum Permits Intelligence Director To Authorize Telcos To Lie Without Violating Securities Law,

...a presidential memorandum signed by the President on May 5 allows the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, to authorize a company to conceal activities related to national security.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:30 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 16, 2006

Leonard Salle

Here is Leonard Salle's obituary at the Commonweal Institute.

Like I said, I will write about Leonard after a while, when I can. Before anything else, he would have wanted me to say, "Progressive Infrastructure."

A memorial service will be held on May 27, 2006 from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Taube Center on the campus of Notre Dame de Namur University, 1500 Ralston Avenue, Belmont, CA; 650-508-3500.

The family requests that donations be made to the Leonard M. Salle Memorial Education Fund at the Commonweal Institute, 325 Sharon Park Drive, Suite 332, Menlo Park, CA 94025; 650-854-9796. You can also click here to make a contribution.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:49 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

5 White Men Comment On Bush's Speech

Media Matters - CNN roundtable on Bush immigration speech included five white men, but no progressives or Latinos,

Summary: Following President Bush's speech on immigration, CNN aired a special edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight that consisted largely of a roundtable discussion moderated by show host Lou Dobbs, with four other white men as guests: conservative syndicated columnist Tony Blankley, Republican strategist Charlie Black, CNN senior political analyst and American Enterprise Institute resident fellow William Schneider, and CNN host Wolf Blitzer. Missing from the discussion was the perspective of a Democrat, a progressive, a woman, or a Latino.
Why would any Latinos, women, Democrats, representatives of unions, Progressives or young people be invited on TV to talk about immigration?

Go look at the picture, too.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:13 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack


How many of you are familiar with Link TV - Your connection to the world? It's a channel on DIRECTV and DISH Network, and some cable systems.

LinkTV is NOT corporate-controlled! Among other great shows they have a show called Mosaic: World News From The Middle East,

Mosaic features selections from daily TV news programs produced by national broadcasters throughout the Middle East. The news reports are presented unedited and translated, when necessary, into English.

Mosaic includes television news broadcasts from selected national and regional entities. Some of the broadcasters are state controlled and others are private networks, often affiliated with political factions. These news reports are regularly watched by 300 million people in 22 countries all over the Middle East.

(Follow the link to see a show.) They also show great world music videos.

Go explore their site -- more here and more later.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:57 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Even If Just Phone Records

So what if the NSA spying really IS just phone records? The answer is that analysis of the data these records offers, combined with other data, is an extremely powerful tool for learning where to apply pressure on social groups in order to influence society in ways you can only dream of. Please, please read Daily Kos: The dangers of Social Network Analysis.

I am familiar with Social Network Analysis, and this could be an extremely powerful political tool both for disrupting opposition and bolstering support. In short, it can tell you who the key connectors are. Once you know who they are, you don't need to spend much time on anyone else. You can take action and it can largely be "under the radar." From the simple,

High value nodes are identified as thought leaders for these social networks and the IRS point count to determine who gets audited is increased for these people. This will reduce the time these thought leaders have to devote to organizing resistance.
To the moderate,

Social network analysis shows which of these groups have the largest number of connections with swing voters and these groups are targeted for highly publicized SEC investigations prior to the announcement of the initiative.
To direct and personal intervention,
Leaks of embarrassing information are making it into blogs. Network analysis indicates that the point of entry can be traced back to TPM Muckraker. An analysis of phone records then identifies that an administration staffer has made phone calls on his cell phone to his brother who has made phone calls to TPM.
Do I need to say what comes next for them?

This is a powerful, powerful tool for controlling people and society in ways that don't have to be noticed.

Those seeking to spin away the NSA database as not a threat to individual liberties could not be more wrong. The NSA database and Social Network Analysis in the wrong hands pose a greater threat to democracy and individual liberties than the misuse of personal information.

Watch your backs. And recommend this Kos diary so it gets the attention is deserves!

Update - Reply to a comment: Social Network Analysis is traffic analysis plus 50 years of advances in knowledge. Combine it with the "Tipping Point" -- connectors, mavens, etc. and other understanding of how groups get organized and ideas spread. Knock out the leaders of the opposition before they become top leaders. Disrupt the meeting before most of them know they are going to have a meeting. Stop the union from forming by getting the likely organizer into another job - or jail...

Sort of sounds like what happened to the Democrats and Progressives, actually.

And NOW there is reason to fear that the government's resources could be used to apply these techniques to maintaining The Party in political power.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:04 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Wingnuts Against Women

Wingnuttery (also filed under Party over Country): Violence Against Women Act abuses the rights of men. Bush should not have supported the Violence Against Women act because,

The act, which costs nearly $1 billion per year, is one of the major ways former President Bill Clinton bought the support of radical feminists. ... It's unlikely that the feminists who will spend all that money will ever vote Republican.
Right, our government is only for Repubicans. (Works even better if you give them money.)

Here's my favorite part:

This criminalizing of ordinary private behavior and incarceration without due process follows classic police-state practices. Evidence is irrelevant, hearsay is admissible, defendants have no right to confront their accusers, and forced confessions are a common feature.
And here we enter the yee-ha zone:
Violence Against Women Act money is used by anti-male feminists to train judges, prosecutors and police in the feminist myths that domestic violence is a contagious epidemic, and that men are naturally batterers and women are naturally victims. Feminists lobby state legislators to pass must-arrest and must-prosecute laws even when police don't observe any crime and can't produce a witness to testify about an alleged crime.
These far-right "conservatives" are the people in charge of every branch of our government.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:30 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 15, 2006

Our SOUTHERN Border (wink wink)

How come our NORTHERN border isn't a problem to the Republicans?

AP Wire | 05/15/2006 | Text of Bush's speech on immigration,

At our southern border, others have organized to stop illegal immigrants from coming in.

... up to 6,000 Guard members will be deployed to our southern border.

...we must ensure that every illegal immigrant we catch crossing our southern border is returned home. More than 85 percent of the illegal immigrants we catch crossing the southern border are Mexicans...

...nd I will ask Congress for additional funding and legal authority, so we can end "catch and release" at the southern border once and for all.

Republicans and people people with brown skin...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:37 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 14, 2006

Ned Lamont vs Joe Lieberman

Joe Lieberman has been undercutting Democrats and (literally) hugging up to Bush. So bloggers are supporting challenger Ned Lamont against Leiberman in the primaries. Here's why.

Go see the new Ned Lamont for Senate Video. The site says,

Ned Lamont for U.S. Senate Introduction Video

Three months ago, Ned Lamont began the kind of campaign entrenched DC power-brokers fear and beyond-the-beltway Democrats recognize as the only way to reclaim our country for ordinary Americans. This video introduces you to Ned, contains interviews with many Connecticut voters, and information on the actions and positions of Senator Lieberman. Now we need your help to spread the word to your friends and family.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:54 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

What the NSA Scandal Threatens

Everybody please read The Left Coaster: Secrecy Run Amok and recommend it to others.

Watergate was about the Republicans sending a team in to bug the headquarters of the Democratic Party. Back then they still had to send a team in. The NSA scandal is about installing the equipment that enables those in charge to listen in on any phone conversation or read any e-mail at the push of a button. And we know this is happening without warrants or other checks and balances because the Republicans proudly say they don't need no stinkin' warrants -- "we're at war." We're supposed to trust the people that already got caught bugging the Democratic Headquarters not to ... well ... listen in on the Democrats, among other things.

As Mary points out, Senator Church's investigation of previous intelligence agency abuses warned that this technological capability could be abused to secure and maintain absolute political power. And now word is leaking out that they are purging the intelligence agencies of Democrats, and taking steps to stop whistleblowers from warning the public what they are doing. On top of this we have seen that the Republicans are systematically dismantling all of the checks and balances and oversight of our system of government.

But, hey, give them a break. Perhaps they just think it's really important to do all these things to catch the 19 Saudis who attacked us on September 11. Fine. But what if other people, bad people get their hands on the controls? What do we do then?

Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:12 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Leonard Salle, R.I.P.

Update - I will post Leonard's official obituary tomorrow, along with this story from the newspaper. It will also appear at the Commonweal Institute tomorrow.

Think tank co-founder loved ideas,

Leonard M. Salle, a retired civil engineer and co-founder and president of Commonweal Institute, died May 5 at Stanford Hospital of complications from coronary bypass surgery. Mr. Salle was 69.

Commonweal, a coalition of think tanks involved in idea-marketing, was conceived in the wake of the 2000 presidential election, said his wife, Dr. Katherine "Kate'' Forrest -- the same year Mr. Salle retired from Santa Clara County's Environmental Services Agency.

She and Mr. Salle outlined what the group would look like during a flight to Washington, D.C., Forrest said. And they also considered dozens of names, including Horizon Institute.

But the couple went with Commonweal. And it turned out to be a fortunate choice, Forrest said. "A month before Sept. 11, we found out Horizon Institute was the name of a Saudi Arabian flight training school!''

Commonweal hired its first executive director, Laurie Spivak, a year ago. And in March, more than 50 program leaders from various progressive organizations convened for Commonweal's first First Progressive Roundtable in San Francisco.

Leonard M. Salle was born May 15, 1936, in Detroit. He graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in civil engineering and by the time he moved to San Mateo in 1960, Mr. Salle was married to Suzanne, whom he later divorced, and had fathered the first of the couple's two sons.

When Mr. Salle and Forrest met at a Stanford Singles event in 1988, their "minds clicked,'' she said. "We found we could talk about anything and that no subject was out of bounds.''

The couple married a year later, continued on in their professions and eventually went to work on a major remodel that made his Portola Valley home theirs -- and also, a place where non-profit groups could host community events.

"Len was so bright and generous with his time, a visionary who cared about people and making the world better,'' Forrest said. "And he was a gifted classical pianist.''

Mr. Salle held a number of high-level management and executive positions in civil engineering firms and was a big public advocate for safety, environmental and preservation issues.

He was president of the Santa Clara County Engineers and Architects Association. And almost single-handedly, Mr. Salle pulled together 14 other unions to form the County Employee Labor Alliance, said David Novogrodsky, a union colleague.

"Leonard Salle was clearly a competent engineer,'' Novogrodsky said. An "old-fashioned intellectual'' on a number of topics -- from unions and public works to economics and politics, he said. "And none of his ideas were horseback opinions.''

When Mr. Salle retired six years ago, Novogrodsky said: "It was obvious Leonard wasn't going fishing.''


Born: May 15, 1936, in Detroit, Mich.

Died: May 5, 2006, in Palo Alto.

Survived by: His wife, Dr. Katherine Forrest of Portola Valley; sons, William Salle of Agoura Hills and Stephen Salle of Sacramento; stepsons Eric Finseth of McLean, Va., and Ian Finseth of Denton, Texas; a brother, Donald Salle of San Mateo; sister-in-law Adele Salle, wife of his deceased brother, Richard Salle, of Saratoga; and six grandchildren.

Services: Memorial 2 to 6 p.m. May 27 in Taube Center at Notre Dame de Namur University, 1500 Ralston Road, Belmont.

Memorial: Memorial contributions in Mr. Salle's name can be sent to the Leonard M. Salle Memorial Education Fund at Commonweal Institute, 325 Sharon Park Drive, Suite 332, Menlo Park, Calif. 94025. For more information, see www.commonwealinstitute.org.

I will write more about Leonard at a later date. I miss him.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:44 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack


Matt Stoller, in MyDD :: Go Get Yourself Some Power, Progressives,

What this means is that we have to make being progressive in politicians' self-interest, and acting as a right-winger against their self-interest.

You see, politicians care about getting elected, and that's pretty much all they can afford to care about. You can't blame them for this, just like you can't blame companies for seeking profitable arrangements. I'm sorry if this bursts anyone's bubble, but Paul Wellstone was just a politician seeking power. So is Howard Dean. That Dean has popular support from an organized group that will rip people to shreds who criticize him means that he can afford to be progressive.

... The key for progressives is to understand that elections matter, but how politicians get elected matters more. It's not about sitting out elections if you don't get your way, it's about making sure that when a seat opens up, or an idea is under debate, or someone needs a set of numbers, your team is there with the people and the information. Politicians get elected based broadly on organization and money in a continuum. What we as progressives should be doing is trying to pull the political system away from money being the determining factor in how someone gets elected to making it one determining factor of many. And if possible, we want to make it impossible for a Republican or Democrat to be elected without taking progressive positions.

PLEASE go read the whole thing.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:35 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 13, 2006

Why So Many Go Along

Here's another clue to why so many go along with the Bush machine. Qwest turned down the Bush request that Qwest illegally hand over your phone records, even though Qwest was threatened with loss of their defense contracts. So what comes next? The government starts working to smear and ruin Qwest's CEO, Joseph Nacchio. Daily Kos: Bush Retaliates Against Qwest For Saying No To Spying,

The federal government conducted a 3 year probe of Nacchio which involved federal prosecutors, SEC and the FBI investigating securities fraud and insider trading.
There's more, go read.

It's called making an example. You can be sure that anyone ELSE the Bush people talk to understand what can happen to them if they say no.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:39 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Net Neutrality and the Blogad

There's an ad in the right column that reads "Don't Regulate the Internet." This ad comes from the telecoms/internet service providers who want to be able to decide which websites - and blogs - they will let you see. I initially rejected the ad, until I was reminded that I complain when TV networks reject ads because they disagree with the viewpoint. So I decided to take ATT's money -- and let you know what they're up to. I also linked to MoveOn's campaign, and put up a free Save the Internet ad. Go visit them.

Matt Stoller writes about this,

This time it's a negative hit piece, backed by a massive blogad campaign. The telcos, so you know, are spending millions of dollars a week on this fight. This ad is an example of it, repeating the lie that the government had no role in the internet's success and that bloggers are a bunch of irresponsible rabble.

... The ad makes a couple of claims. One, that web site operators don't pay for the internet. That is a lie. They pay massive sums of money for bandwidth, on the order of $10 billion last year alone. So does the public in tax subsidies for telecom companies, perhaps as high as $200 billion over the years (though it's hard to tell with all the mergers and weird accounting). Yes, that you read that right. Two, they claim they have never degraded a web site or service. Of course, executives for these companies are on record discussing their plans to do precisely that. The telco sponsored legislation would strip the FCC from being able to deal with degraded service or blocked web sites. Three, the telecom companies claim that net neutrality means intrusive government regulation. This claim is a bit harder to unpack, but it's worth following me here since what they are saying is in fact 180 degrees from the truth.

Go read the rest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:09 AM | Comments (15) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 12, 2006

Today's Voting Machines Story

Experts see new Diebold flaw: They call it worst security glitch to date in voting machines and a 'big deal',

Computer security experts say they have found the worst security flaw yet in the oft-criticized touch-screen machines that Maryland voters will use in this year's elections, leaving one computer scientist to warn that the state should have "stacks of paper ballots" on hand in case of a complete Election Day breakdown.

The machines, made by Diebold Elections Systems, are "much, much easier to attack than anything we've previously said," said Avi Rubin, a Johns Hopkins University computer science professor who first cast doubt on the reliability of the technology in a 2003 report.

"On a scale of one to 10, if the problems we found before were a six, this is a 10. It's a totally different ballgame," he said.

Go read the rest, and DEMAND that your local election officials use machines that print paper ballots that can be counted by hand! There is just no other way to guarantee that the vote count matches the actual vote. There is no reason to trust any voting machine that doesn't do this.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:11 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

MoveOn Save The Internet Campaign

Congress is about to let large telecommunications corporations decide which web pages you can and cannot see. Don't think they won't use this to keep non-corporate and non-right-wing sites from being seen! You can see what has happened since the Republicans let a few large corporations take over all of the major news sources.

MoveOn is organizing people to fight this. Please visit MoveOn.org Civic Action: Save the Internet

Save the Internet

Congress is now pushing a law that would end the free and open Internet as we know it. Internet providers like AT&T and Verizon are lobbying Congress hard to gut Network Neutrality, the Internet's First Amendment and the key to Internet freedom. Net Neutrality prevents AT&T from choosing which websites open most easily for you based on which site pays AT&T more. So Amazon doesn't have to outbid Barnes & Noble for the right to work more properly on your computer.

Many members of Congress take campaign contributions from these companies, and they don't think the public are paying attention to this issue. Let's show them we care - please sign this petition today.

Please visit MoveOn's petition page.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:42 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 11, 2006


I've just GOT to QUIT reading the news. It is just too PAINFUL.

Congress targets social network sites, by Declan McCullagh

"When children leave the home and go to school or the public library and have access to social-networking sites, we have reason to be concerned," Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican, told CNET News.com in an interview.
Fitzpatrick and fellow Republicans, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, on Wednesday endorsed new legislation (click here for PDF) that would cordon off access to commercial Web sites that let users create public "Web pages or profiles" and also offer a discussion board, chat room, or e-mail service.

This is so wrong and stupid and pointless and out of contact with
, I don't even know where to start... I'm flabbergasted.

I could go on and on in great detail about the specifics of why this is
stupid but...

POINT ONE: wireless Internet access is sooner, rather than later, going
to be omnipresent; and an overwhelming majority of kids are going to
have devices that allow this. Many kids already have access to Instant
Messaging services via their cellphones (even low end phones often have
Yahoo Instant Messenger and/or AIM clients installed). This makes
location based restrictions of the type described essentially pointless.
This is going to become increasingly true, and the level of utility of
such access devices (and the software on them) is only going to increase
over time.

POINT TWO: the most essential features of today's Internet are
interactive two-way communication and content creation... you want a
prominent example of the "unintended side effects" of this legislation?
Wikipedia. More or less THE definitive reference work on the
Internet. Anyone can sign up for an account, which provides access to an
internal messaging system, and the ability to create "web pages" and a
"profile"... is Rep. Fitzpatrick proposing that we ban young people and
teenagers from accessing Wikipedia?!?

The future of the Internet IS interactivity, virtual presence, public /
private spaces... lets set aside the practicality of implementation and
enforcement of a regime which bans young people from participation in
online communities and content creation vehicles... here's a more
fundamental question: even if we could do it: should we? Take
every trend we see now, and project it twenty years into the future...
and then imagine the gap between the level of utility, and the quality
of the experience, provided to youth using a "crippled" interface, and
individuals with a fully functional one.

If you want a metaphor, think: Apple IIe vs. Windows XP Media Center

What kind of social and economic impact would this have on our nation's
productivity, vs. that of other, less paranoid nations?

The only saving grace of the situation is the utter futility of
attempting to limited access in this fashion...
but the results, for
those kids dependent on public resources, are going to be extremely

Side note: would someone PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE sponsor a survey of
American children under the age of 13 in order to determine how many of
them have an account on MySpace or similar services (Gaia Online,
NeoPets, etc.) ... despite COPPA? Based on what I've seen, an
overwhelming majority of children in Middle or Junior High School with
access to a computer (or friends with such) have such accounts... and
every single one of them lies about their age, just enough to enable
them to access "advanced" features - AKA CHAT and MESSAGING!!! DOH!!!

Such a survey would provide definitive and devastating evidence of the
futility of measures of these sorts, and document the massive level of
informal civil disobedience being engaged in by American youth in
response to them.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:30 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

"some imams are imposters who should not be in charge"

Religious freedom, anyone? Not even among those of the Islamic faith. Here's the full quote:

"We reached an agreement that the imams of mosques must be nominated by the Shiite and Sunni Waqfs (religious administrations) because we have discovered that some imams are imposters who should not be in charge," Major General Mehdi Musabah -- the interior ministry commando chief -- said Thursday.

Oh, and apparently the only way that the Iraqi government can ensure that its own troops don't function as death squads, and prevent insurgents (or renegade elements of official forces) from posturing as official army units, is to have them accompanied by U.S. troops. ... but, apparently, even though members of the U.S. armed forces were present at the negotiations, officially, the military knows nothing about it.

"That's news to me, that's a surprise to me," said US military spokesman, Major General Rick Lynch.

Sounds like things are going swimmingly over in Iraq. NOT.

Full article: Agence France Presse, May 11, 2006: Baghdad Clerics Must be Approved by Iraqi Gov't

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:27 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 10, 2006

Walking People Up The Crazy-Idea Ladder

Digby, in Preparing The Ground, and Matt Stoller, in Ok, Here's a Big Idea: Citizen Coupons and a Government By the People are writing about this Kos diary, Why the Right-Wing Gets It--and Why Dems Don't.

They are talking about the Overton Window. Here is the original. It's about how to "advance ideas" - take a wild idea and get people to accept it. This is a concept studied and practiced by the right - and they are talking about ideas like privatizing Social Security, or getting rid of public education. But there is a lot to learn here.

The idea is that you walk people up a ladder of acceptability of an idea, one step at a time. As the people climb the ladder, their thinking about the idea at the top is walked through stages. The first stage is that the idea is unthinkable, then after hearing about it for a while it becomes just radical, then after enough repetition it becomes acceptable, eventually it sounds sensible, then seems popular, and finally it becomes policy.

For example, let's say you have in mind getting rid of public education. To walk people up the ladder you get them to accept, in this order, allowing kids to leave to go to private schools, then legal home schooling, then tuition tax credits with public schools, then a voucher system with public schools (and "charter" schools), eventualy all schools become private with government regulation, and finally no government involvement in education. And make no mistake about it, getting rid of public schools is the ladder the Right is walking us up, one step at a time.

The same process is underway with getting rid of Social Security - IRAs are getting rid of pensions, then Bush's push to partially privatize Social Security, and finally to get rid of it. (Bush might have lost a battle, but they will never give up that fight.)

Please go read the links, this is important stuff to understand.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:07 PM | Comments (10) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Insurance Election Scandal Brewing In California

I have been hearing about a scandal brewing over insurance regulation in California. Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, who is now a candidate for Lt. Governor has called in the California Attorney General and the FBI to investigate a blackmail and extortion charge. See Garamendi says insurers trying to coerce him on auto regulations; asks FBI, state to investigate

State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi accused automobile insurers of "coercion, extortion and blackmail" for launching a $2.4 million campaign attacking his proposed regulations that would cut the cost of some drivers' coverage in crowded urban areas. He asked the FBI, the U.S. Attorney and state Attorney General Bill Lockyer to investigate his allegations.

Garamendi, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in the June 6 primary, said he was told that if he backed off pushing the regulation, he would be spared an attack by insurers as Election Day neared.

This one has a video clip: Auto Insurers Accused Of Blackmailing Commissioner
The state insurance commissioner says he’s facing threats of blackmail to keep auto insurance rates higher.

John Garamendi came out blasting Monday, accusing California's largest auto insurers of using political extortion to get him to delay implementing laws that would save California motorists money.

Background and details:

I received this e-mail today:

Insurance industry blackmail!

By 1998 California voters were fed up with abuses by the insurance industry. These included such things as high prices and arbitrary cancellations. One particularly onerous abuse was "territorial rating," the practice of setting your auto insurance rates based on where you live, rather than your driving record. In that year California voted to end such abuses by passing Proposition 103, which read in part:

1861.02 (a) Rates and premiums for an automobile insurance policy, as described in subdivision (a) of Section 660, shall be determined by application of the following factors in decreasing order of importance:
(1) The insured's driving safety record.
(2) The number of miles he or she drives annually.
(3) The number of years of driving experience the insured has had.
(4) Such other factors as the commissioner may adopt by regulation that have a substantial relationship to the risk of loss. The regulations shall set forth the respective weight to be given each factor in determining automobile rates and premiums. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the use of any criterion without such approval shall constitute unfair discrimination.

Unfortunately, a California Court of Appeals in 2000 ruling made these provisions unenforceable. However, Proposition 103 also made Insurance Commissioner an elective office, an office now held by John Garamendi. Mr. Garamendi has promulgated regulations that banned territorial ratings, very much consistent with the wishes of California voters and much to the chagrin of the insurance industry.

A group of insurance companies -- Allstate, Farmers, Safeco, 21st Century, and State Farm -- is attempting to blackmail John Garamendi, who is now a candidate for Lt. Governor of California. These companies have raised $2.4 million to run a TV ad campaign against Mr. Garamendi asking viewers to "tell Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi to drop this unfair plan now." An industry representative contacted him through an intermediary and offered to drop the ad campaign if Mr. Garamendi would withdraw those regulations.

The insurance companies claim that they were merely informing Mr. Garamendi of their campaign out of "courtesy." Right.

John Garamendi refuses to be intimidated. He will enforce those regulations. He has filed formal requests for investigations of this group by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the state Attorney General. He will continue to work for the rights of California consumers as Insurance Commissioner and as Lt. Governor.

There is information at Consumer Watchdog,
Insurers to Spend Millions Against Garamendi for Lowering Premiums
Auto insurance companies are planning a $2.4 million campaign to attack California Insurance Commissioner Garamendi because he has proposed rules to lower premiums for California good drivers.
And a press release
Group Calls on Commissioner Candidates To Stand Behind Garamendi Insurance Regulations To Protect Integrity of Office
Voters' Trust Is At Stake After Attempt to Extort Garamendi

SANTA MONICA, CA -- The two principal candidates for Insurance Commissioner should immediately assure voters that they support the "good driver" regulations that the insurance industry apparently believes the candidates will revoke if elected, supporters of Proposition 103 said today in a letter to the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees.

The letter from the non-profit, non-partisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) and Proposition 103 author Harvey Rosenfield comes two days after Insurance Commissioner Garamendi disclosed that insurers had tried to blackmail him in an attempt to delay the implementation of a key Proposition 103 reform until a new commissioner is elected. Last December, Commissioner Garamendi proposed rules to comply with Proposition 103's requirement that auto insurance premiums be based primarily on a motorist¿s driving record rather than their ZIP Code.

Commissioner Garamendi revealed Monday that a political operative had relayed a message from insurers to back off from regulations that would emphasize a drivers' safety record rather than ZIP code in pricing auto insurance, or face a $2.4 million negative ad campaign against him. The ads, reportedly launched this week after Garamendi¿s refusal to comply with the demand, are widely seen as an attempt to undermine his campaign for the post of lieutenant governor. [emphasis added]

Go there to read the rest.

Take a look at the PR firm in Sacramento spinning the attack.....Bicker, Castillo & Fairbanks

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:01 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

US Treasury Becomes Republican Party's Bankroll

A couple of days ago, this story, about a Republican Cabinet Secretary declaring that contracts are awarded according to who gives money to The Party.

Today, this story, in which Republicans kill oversight over Iraqi reconstruction spending, A stunning tolerance for corruption in Iraqi reconstruction aid,

"Republican Appropriations Committee aides say legislators shifted the Iraq money to the foreign operations accounts at the request of the White House," the WSJ reported. The White House says it simply did this for budgetary purposes and to help "streamline accounting." The fact that the move cuts off the most effective auditor in Iraq at the knees, the Bush gang says, is a coincidence.
Now read this. (Through Political Animal)

Previous Seeing the Forest stories about tax dollars used to promote the Republican Party: (Posts with the same title report on different abuses)

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Gov't Now Funding RW Blogs

Military Assisting Republican Party?

Taxpayer AIDS Money Funding the Right

Tax Dollars Fund Pat Robertson

IRS Checking Who You Voted For

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

Today's Government And Party Merge Post

IRS Cracking Down On War Opponents

Bush Admin Allows Only Rush For Military Radio

House Republicans OK Christian-Only Hiring With Our Tax Dollars

Government and Party Merge

How To Fund A Political Party

Government and Party Merge

Here It Comes III

These are only SOME of the posts I have written on this subject, and only since I moved the blog from Blogger a year ago. And these are only the tip of the iceberg that I learned about and wrote about. Do you begin to detect a pattern here?

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

Quick Mac Question

I have a quick Mac question. Can anyone tell me why something called Apple VNC (corrected from VCN) would be running on a PowerBook (running the latest OSX), without the owner knowing it's there?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:40 AM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Secretary Jackson of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Must Resign

Corruption - turning a government department into an arm of The Party

Something has hit the press that exposes the corruption mentality of the Republicans.

Josh Marshall points out that the likely way the subject would have come up is if Jackson was soliciting contractors for campaign donations

HUD chief's talk of punishing Bush critics sparks an uproar

DNC: Secretary Jackson Exposes Culture of Corruption at HUD

Costly Words: 'I Don't Like President Bush'

Two Democrats call for HUD contracts probe

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:51 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 9, 2006

"Welcome to Democrats 2.0"

A really good read: Markos, Lakoff, MoveOn, Can these crashers save this party?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:31 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Don't Be Distracted - It Continues Unabated

Bush is at 31% in the polls, Tom DeLay is gone, Rove might be about to be indicted, etc.

That stuff doesn't mean anything. THIS is what matters:

G.O.P. Lawmakers Agree on Bill to Extend Tax Cuts,

House and Senate Republicans reached agreement Tuesday on a $69 billion bill that would extend President Bush's tax cuts for investors for two more years and temporarily block a big jump in the alternative minimum tax.
Iran's Letter to Bush Not Relevant to Nuclear Issue, Rice Says,
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dismissed a letter from Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad to President Bush...
Senate to Take Up Health Coverage Bill,
Health insurance coverage for mammograms, annual children's physicals and drug abuse counseling could disappear for some workers under legislation moving through Congress.

The measure, which the Senate takes up Tuesday, would let insurers bypass coverage requirements mandated by states.

THIS is what matters.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:53 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Wingnuts Catching On?

From a right-wing blog with the slogan "Elections and politics with a Conservative bent." PoliPundit.com : The Contradictions and Lies

Somebody please explain how the following statements can all be true:

1. El Presidente Jorge Arbusto opposes “amnesty” for illegal aliens

2. The Bushistas define “amnesty” as giving illegal aliens citizenship

3. El Presidente supports giving citizenship to illegal aliens

(Links to Washington Times story...)

My observations:

1) You discover Bush saying one thing and doing another? Welcome to my world. (It took you six years? Maybe there are vitamins or something you can take.)

2) You cite the Washington Times as a source for anything? The MOONIES? What's up with that?

3) The comments say the author is a RINO now. ("Republican In Name Only")

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:16 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Making My Case So Well

I'd like to bring everyone's attention to a comment left by one of our regular "conservative" visitors, at the post Rallying the Base, in which I wrote, "Republicans are down in the polls, so blatant racism is used to remind them who they are for and who they are against."

Here's the comment, judge for yourself whether it makes my point:

Wow...your racism-Detecto-matic must be set to "hypersensitive"...why is it racism to point out that in large measure, the refugees from New Orleans brought their city's high crime rate with them when the moved to Houston?

Would you rather the matter not be discussed because the cold truth (Blacks commit crimes in numbers that are WAY disproportionate to their percentage of the population) makes liberals uncomfortable?

First, I'm "hypersensitive" to think Rush was talking about Black people. Rush was oh-so-careful not to say he meant Black people when he talked about "New Orleans refugees." That's what's known as a "code word." Republicans are so good at using code words, but so-called "conservatives" sure are good at picking up the message that is being sent, no?

And then, of course, comes the racist argument that Black people are different, are criminals, etc. But I was just being a typical "hypersensitive" liberal to think this was about race. It must be a conspiracy theory to think it was about race...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:35 PM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

How To Break Through

A while back I wrote a post, Who Is The Crazy Person In The Room? talking about how regular people think YOU are demented or something if you try to describe what's going on with the Republicans in Washington.

I'm now not on speaking terms with a relative because I told her that the head of the CIA (and now the CIA's Executive Director) resigned immediately after news hit the papers about a defense contractor paying bribes and providing prostitutes... This relative is a DEMOCRAT who can't stand Bush. But I'm a "conspiracy theorist" and Bush-hater who "makes things up" for trying to say that the CIA resignations might be related to the corruption/prostitution scandal or that only Repubicans are involved in this Congressional corruption thing.

People don't want to believe this stuff is going on, and the Republicans know it and use it for cover. People want to think that things are going on as usual, that "everybody does it," and the "pendulum will swing back," etc. They have to fit what's going on into comfortable, understood boxes in the brain. That's why the "Democrats took money, too" lie is so powerful.

Stepping back from the hyper-informed world we live in here in the blogosphere and thinking about regular, average Americans, how do we reach them? How do we break through the Fox News conventional wisdom, "the media is liberal" and things are normal thinking to let people know that something very different is happening in Washington? Is it even possible?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:47 AM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 8, 2006

Rallying the Base

I'm parked outside a Starbucks using the wireless, drinking a Peet's... On the radio right now Rush Limbaugh is talking about how New Orleans is "better off," the crime rate is down, while the crime rate in Houston is up. They call it "the Katrina effect." Houston "extended the hand of friendship to thousands of Katrina refugees. And now they're getting hammered."

"Relocating government-dependent, crime-ridden neighborhoods and relocating it to another city..." In the future cities won't want to offer assistance to "a similar group of people."

Republicans are down in the polls, so blatant racism is used to remind them who they are for and who they are against.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:39 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 7, 2006


Caution, do not read this if you are the least bit squeamish. It is truly horrible. Part of me died when I saw this cruel killing.

Lots of right-wing blogs (more here and here) and others are using this to show how horrible our "enemies" and "terrorists" are and how terrible the "liberals" are for supporting them, etc. (Be sure to read the comments, too.)

But read it again - this is apparently an article about the people WE invaded to put in charge there. This particular act was apparently by the Iran-allied Shiite majority that we put in charge. The Sunni minority insurgency is doing the same things. The al Queda are also. But THIS article is about something the ones WE put in charge did.

We are supposed to have invaded in order to bring democracy to Iraq - the "Nation building" that conservatives once scorned. At least, bringing democracy to Iraq is ONE of the various reasons given for the invasion - there were plenty of others. Iraq was responsible for 9/11, they were allied with al Queda, they were going to nuke us, whatever -- we all heard all of the reasons. But "bringing democracy to Iraq" is the one most frequently cited now. And here we are. And here they are. Great. This is what war is. There is nothing worse than war. If you don't like it you sould have thought about that before you started a war, huh?

The right-wing blogs and the commenters seem to be getting around the problem that this was done by the people we invaded to put in charge by saying that it is Muslims in general who are our "enemy" and are "terrorists." And you certainly don't hear that message condemned by our country's leadership, do you? So is that the "war" we are in? A forever war against anyone we decide we're against that day, which gives the leaders absolute power to do anything they want? We invade a country, put one side in charge, and then call them terrorists?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:08 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Space Is The Place

How many of you know about Sun Ra? (At this point a select few of you understand more about me than I should let on.)

Sun Ra was a musical genius. A lot of people I know won't listen to any of my Sun Ra recordings and look at me funny. My wife just walked by and said "Whatever volume you have Sun Ra at is too loud." Please click this. But then click this, too. And this. And this. THEN you'll start to get it. (These are from a later incarnation of the Arkestra, but the sounds are Sun Ra's sounds.)

Space Is The Place cover

Some say Sun Ra was born, others say he arrived.

Sun Ra was born on the planet Saturn, ages ago, and spent some time on Earth using the power of music to demonstrate the virtues of discipline and harmony to members of this planet.
I found this on YouTube and it's GREAT!:

But wait, there's more...

I once saw Sun Ra and the full Arkestra incuding dancers. (This was on the same night as Miles Davis performing Bitches Brew.)

Sun Ra's appearances at the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festivals of the early seventies are legendary. His explosive avant-jazz Arkestra hit the stage in a riot of color and sound that made a cosmic connection with his first major American festival audience and won him a whole new following. The Sun Ra Trilogy is produced by John Sinclair for Big Chief Productions in agreement with the late Alton Abraham.

Sun Ra and the Arkestra at Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival
Then Sun Ra and his Arkestra came on. The band raged like a band of stampeding elephants � a heavy beat with horns wailing above the cacophony. After a few minutes the music forced me to stand up to witness the band that made such wonderful noise. Then I got the visual assault with the flowing robes and wild hats and intergalactic dancers.
In the late 80's or early 90's I saw Sun Ra perform at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz. This was a "big band" performance, with Sun Ra at a piano, and a big band with podiums, all wearing fezes, performing classic big band-style tunes. Except in the middle of some of the tunes all of a sudden the whole thing would go crazy, and you'd wonder for a minute if someone put LSD in your drink or soething, and then after 32 bars or so it would settle down back into big band, and people would be looking at each other wondering, "did you hear that?"

Here someone synched the Sun Ra recording of Pink Elephants to a cartoon of the same tune.

Here's another video I found on You Tube. Good tune, not-so-great video. Tiny Pyramids.

Another video clip, of the post-Sun Ra Arkestra I think:

Planet Sun Ra
Sun Ra: Stranger from Outer Space
The Outer Space Employment Agency
The Cosmic-Myth Equations of Sun Ra - A M.A. thesis on Sun Ra

Researching this I discovered that there is a Space Is The Place film! Here is the intro to the film:
It's after the end of the world. Don't you know that yet?
It's after the end of the world. Don't you know that yet?
It's after the end of the world. Don't you know that yet?

Post inspired by Crooks and Liars - John Coltrane and More Coltrane

I'll tell you about being at Woodstock another day.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:39 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

How To Shut Down the Right's Funding

Confident Democrats Lay Out Agenda,

Democratic leaders, increasingly confident they will seize control of the House in November, are laying plans for a legislative blitz during their first week in power that would raise the minimum wage, roll back parts of the Republican prescription drug law, implement homeland security measures and reinstate lapsed budget deficit controls.

... House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said in an interview last week that a Democratic House would launch a series of investigations of the Bush administration, beginning with the White House's first-term energy task force and probably including the use of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Pelosi denied Republican allegations that a Democratic House would move quickly to impeach President Bush. But, she said of the planned investigations, "You never know where it leads to."

And Democrats pledge probes of Bush, not impeachment

Democrats will launch a series of investigations of the Bush administration if they take control of Congress in November but are not out to impeach President George W. Bush, a top Democrat said on Sunday.

... "I said we'd be having hearings on the war, we'd have hearings. But I don't see us going to a place of impeachment," Pelosi said in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press. "Investigation does not equate to impeachment. Investigation is the requirement of Congress. It is about checks and balances."

Here's how to shut down the Right's funding:

If a few top Democrats get the word out that they are also going to investigate corporate funding of the Right's machine - contributions to supposedly non-partisan tax deductible organizations like Heritage Foundation, but that are really bribes used illegally as Republican Party election-support organizations, the insurance companies that cover these corporations will shut down all such funding and the Boards will also work to stop it, fearing jail.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:25 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 6, 2006

It's Not "the GOP"

I left a comment to this post at MyDD: Where's Our Fox News? and it makes a good blog post. So here it is: (edited to make me look good)

In response to this comment:

What I'd like to know is why every time there's any hint of an issue, the GOP has 17 people on every talk show all on point, making their points quickly, with good on-camera presence. Meanwhile, Dems have few on the talkshows, and the ones on are all over the place on message, and I and half the Blogosphere could make their arguments better. The GOP must be putting resources into media training and staffing a rapid response for cable news that we aren't. My question is why?

Let me nitpick on language a bit here, because it affects how we think about solving this.

It is not (necessarily) "the GOP" that has all those people on the shows. It's the "conservative movement" infrastructure -- the Heritage Foundation, and about 400 other similar organizations. They are called "think tanks" but they are really ideological advocacy/communications/marketing organizations. (A side note - They are "501c3" charitable organizations - which means taxpayer subsidized - but operate illegaly as partisan supportive arms of the Republican Party.)

This is such an important distinction. The problem is not that "the Democrats" aren't getting people onto the shows, etc, to match the right. As Jonathan wrote, the problem is that Progressives don't have the kinds of organizations in place that put those people on the shows. The reason this is such an important distinction is because it tells us that to fight back we need to build organizations that reach out to the general public promoting the BENEFITS of Progressive values - democracy, community - and a Progressive approach to issues - the common good - over and over, day after day, until the public understands and starts to support Progressive candidates and legislation. THIS is how the Right did it. This is how the Right took over the Republican Party and persuaded so many people to support them. (Of course, we do it legally, and our organizations must be honest and ethical. But then, ours CAN be - unlike the Right's organizations, they aren't trying to convince blue collar workers to give up pensions and health care so some rich fuck can buy a bigger private jet.)

It's just basic marketing. For 30 years we have been hearing that conservatives are good and liberals are bad and stupid and corrupt and "against God" and all the rest but we have not been hearing anything to counter that! After 30 years of this OF COURSE this is what a lot of people think! DUH!

This relates to the "issue group" argument. INSTEAD of organizations that tell the public that Progressive approaches are better, we have issue groups, and most Progressive money goes to these groups. But these groups do not reach out to the general public and do not tell them that Progressives are better and Progressive ideas are better. And the result is that the underpinnings - support for basic Progressive ideals - of these groups erodes. If environmental groups, for example, spent their money telling the public that Progressives are better, then the public would elect Progressives, and environment-friendly laws and regulations would be put in place to protect the environment...

Some previous posts on this subject:
What Does "The Democrats" Mean?
Funding A Counter-Attack Against The Right

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:12 PM | Comments (11) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 5, 2006

Tax Cuts - Don't Believe Your Lying Eyes

When something is right there in front of your face, right-wingers say ignore it. Right Wing News writes,

after the Bush and Reagan tax cuts, the amount of revenue coming into the treasury didn't go down, it went up
Actually, Reagan cut taxes then INCREASED TAXES MASSIVELY. I skipped breakfast yesterday but gained weight. (Because I ate a big lunch and a huge dinner.)

Never mind that both Reagan and Bush created massive, massive, massive deficits. Ignore that! Bush came into office with a huge government SURPLUS and now we have a massive, massive, massive DEFICIT! But the right-wingers say it just isn't there in front of your eyes.

We now pay over $300 billion a year - to the rich - just for interest on the massive, massive, massive Reagan and Bush debt.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:04 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Big Hookergate News - CIA Director Goss Resigns

Update - Through Atrios, comes this,

From a reader: "Dana Priest is on MSNBC right now saying we'll have to wait for tomorrow's paper to find out why he resigned. The Post must have called him for comment on a story running tomorrow about his involvement with Brent Wilkes."

I don't know if you have been following the story about the corrupt defense contractor providing hookers for Republican members of Congress who were providing him with huge defense contracts. See Sex, Lies, and Government Contracts, Hookergate: Everybody Wants a Piece of the Action, Who Will Be the Woodward and Bernstein of New 'Hookergate' Story?, Watergate Subpoenaed in Hooker Probe and Hookergate being buried by press for more on that.

Well one of those Members of Congress later became CIA director. And just 2 weeks after the news about the hookers... CIA Director Porter Goss Resigns

More later....


Talking Points Memo


Left Coaster: Party On, Porter - Don't Let The Door Hit You In The Ass

Think Progress goes into the background of Goss' connections with the Duke Cunningham scandal.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:06 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 4, 2006

Cutting Taxes Brings MORE Government

The so-called "conservatives" have been cutting taxes in an effort to, as they call it, "starve the beast." Ronald Reagan explained the "starve the beast" argument as "cutting the government's allowance." The idea is that by bankrupting the government (us, you and me), we're forced to stop spending money on ... well, on negroes is the historical root of their underlying argument. They call it "welfare" and "entitlements" (even though entitlements means Social Security...) and affirmative action. That's what "big government" means to conservatives. (Never mind that most government spending goes to military and interest on the massive Republican debt...)

But what about this idea that bankrupting the government (us, you and me) through tax cuts forces spending cuts? Political Animal links today to a very interesting counter-argument, Stoking the Beast. Basically, that by cutting the cost what they have actually done is increased demand. The public is not feeling the effects of the massive Republican borrowing, so the public perception is that government just costs less. They're getting government services and not paying as much in taxes as it really all costs, so why not get them some more of that?

One more thing these assclowns turned out to be incompetent at.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:27 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Not Funny

Turns out I had only seen about half of Stephen Colbert's Correspondent's Dinner talk. You can see it all at Video Dog - Salon.com.

It is really, really funny. I really don't understand how anyone - except, of course, Bush - can say it wasn't funny.

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

May 3, 2006

Buck Fush!



The photos say it all. I just bought a (very) used Mitsubishi pickup for my business (after spending a month looking for the right combination of price, automatic transmission, fuel efficiency and mechanical soundness), and not compromising on fuel miilage looks like a smarter and smarter decision every day. I only wish there were more light pickups available, with even better gas milage... why hasn't anyone made a hybrid light pickup yet?!?

Are you pissed off? Email me your gas station pump price pics and I'll post 'em. pumprice@thomasleavitt.org ... or better yet: post 'em on your own blog!

P.S. I saw regular selling for $3.43/gallon in South San Francisco just yesterday. Wanna take bets on when you'll see it at $4.00/gallon?

P.P.S. If any of you have been wondering where I've been... think family crisis, personal hell, lots of playing catchup. :(

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 5:14 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Swimming Pools, Movie Stars, YearlyKos

Have you signed up for yearly kos? TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

YearlyKos is a convention/gathering of blog readers, bloggers, "netroots" and other informed, involved people. Senator Harry Reid is the keynote speaker. Several other Senators, Members of Congress and Presidential candidates like Mark Warner will be there as well. Here are some details of the schedule and the guest list. Swimming pools, movie stars.

I'm doing two panels. One is a panel with Markos and Jerome, authors of Crashing the Gate, and David Sirota, on the subject of Building Progressive Infrastructure, Saturday June 10 at 8:30 am. The other is on Ethics/Corruption/Movement Politics, Friday June 9 at 10am. That's a reason TO sign up, by the way.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Online Integrity?

Online Integrity

Eight of the first ten "endorsers" link to Michelle Malkin. I conclude it is a joke or scam. No more time to spend on this nonense.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:36 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 2, 2006

Dear Democrats

A few simple words, repeated over and over.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:13 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

New Telecom Bill

How many remember the 1996 Telecom Bill? This was the "deregulation" bill that dramatically increased cable TV rates and increased concentration of owership of media outlets.

Well, they're at it again, this time going after your right to record radio and TV broadcasts: Net neutrality missing from sweeping telecom bill,

ncluded in the massive proposal is, however, one requirement sure to please the recording industry: authorization for the FCC to start the process of outlawing digital over-the-air radio and digital satellite receivers sold today that permit users to record broadcasts. Those would be supplanted with receivers that will treat as copy-protected anything with an "audio broadcast flag" in the future.

... His legislation would order the FCC to ban digital TV tuners, such as ElGato's EyeTV 500, that let users record over-the-air broadcasts and save them without copy protection.

Also in the bill, changes that would allow telecom companies to control what you see on the internet:
Net neutrality, for instance, has become a rallying cry recently for Internet and software firms and liberal advocacy groups (and even one or two conservative ones) that say strict FCC regulations are necessary to protect the Internet. Net neutrality refers to the idea of the federal government preventing broadband providers from favoring some Web sites or video streams' connection speeds over others.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:56 AM | Comments (7) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Dollar Dropping

The US Dollar has started falling. Dollar Declines On Trade Deficit,

The dollar has suffered sharp losses against other currencies the past two weeks, and yesterday it hit a fresh, seven-month low against the Japanese yen. Although it rallied yesterday afternoon against the euro, it fell to an 11-month low against the European currency earlier in the day and is down nearly 6 percent against the euro since late February.
There is a LOT of room to fall further. If you are able, move money into Euros, Canadian dollars, wherever. You'll get a very, very nice return as the dollar falls.

Will the falling dollar bring business and jobs to the US? Two problems. First, China keeps its currency pegged to the dollar, so as much as things purchased from us might cost less as the dollar falls, they continue to cost even less from China. Along with that, we have been sending our manufacturing infrastructure away, so it will take some time to ramp up to make things here again, not matter HOW much of a currency advantage we might gain.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:34 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Colbert Affair Exposes Loss of Rights

Don Imus was the speaker at the 1996 Correspondent's dinner and his talk insulted President Clinton along the lines of the ongoing "conservative movement" narrative. Whitewater, Susan McDougal getting payoffs, Clintons getting indicted, missing billing records... The press had a field day -- coverage everywhere. NY Times, TV Notes;Imus in the Spotlight,

Perhaps the only person more delighted than Don Imus about the flash flood of publicity following his spicy speech at a Washington dinner last week was Mike Wallace of CBS.
This is no big deal, except when compared with this week's press response to Stephen Colbert's appearance Saturday. The only way to describe the press response is: intentional blackout. The New York Times, for example, wrote an article about the dinner and did not mention Colbert in the article at all. A scan of Google News (at the time this post is written) finds almost no coverage outside of the blogs.

Why is there such an obvious difference in the coverage given Bush in general, compared to the coverage given Clinton? The press coverage of President Clinton led to his impeachment, even when all of the Republican-initiated investigations found he had done nothing wrong. In contrast the press continues its blackout of coverage or even discussion of possible crimes committed by President Bush.

In 1987 Ronald Reagan ordered the FCC to abolish the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcast media to provide balanced coverage of issues. Majorities in the Congress voted to restore the Fairness Doctrine and were blocked by Republican vetoes and filibusters. (Any time you hear a Republican complain about the "liberal media" ask them why it is Republicans, not Democrats, who oppose the Fairness Doctrine.) Following that, Republicans began to allow fewer and fewer large corporations to control more and more of these information channels. (PLEASE click the links. More here and here.)

Before these changes you would see representatives of Labor, Democrats, anti-war, religions other than far-right Christianity, and other now-banned viewpoints. One particular viewpoint you would see expressed was a concern that concentrated corporate ownership of the channels of information would harm democracy. That viewpoint is also banned now.

It used to be considered essential to democracy that the public had access to information. The pubic used to have the right to demand diversity of opinion in the media. Now even expressing such ideas is banned.

Do you think "banned" is too strong a word? Tell me when was the last time you saw or heard these viewpoints expressed? When was the last time you heard a representative of Labor expressing that employees should join unions?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:58 AM | Comments (9) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack