June 30, 2006
This is very interesting. In The Real Economics of Oil, Sheldon Drobny sats that gasoline is really only a waste product from the refining process. The real profit is from products like asphalt, lubricating oils, paraffin wax, heating oil, tar and others.
Essentially, gasoline is a waste product of the oil refining process and the oil companies get rid of their hazardous waste and charge the public to do that. It actually reduces the cost of the oil refining process and at the same time contributes greatly to the greenhouse effect of global warming.Go have a read.
June 29, 2006
At the Edwize blog: Do charter schools need unions? about charter school teachers in New York being fired for mentioning the 'U' word.
Fortunately things turned out all right for one teacher, because she was so highly regarded:
Nichole applied for a position teaching English at one of New York City’s very best public high schools, Brooklyn Tech, which hired her last week. Having quickly landed on her feet, Nichole now says “I will never again work in a school where I don’t belong to a union.” Her dismissed colleague was hired at a top private New York City school.
Please read this Kos diary American Workers' Freedom to Form Unions Threatened Under Bush NLRB. "Supervisors" are prohibited by law from forming unions. Bush's Labor Board is about to issue a rule saying that nurses, along with "building trades workers, newspaper and television employees, port workers and many others" are supervisors, and therefore prohibited from being in unions.
Go read the whole thing.
June 28, 2006
Read every word. Then hit the tip jar.
Senator Barack Obama gave a speech and there is a lot of reaction in the blogosphere. In the speech, he said,
"At worst, some liberals dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word "Christian" describes one's political opponents, not people of faith."Atrios writes,
If you think it's important to court evangelicals, then court them. If, on the other hand, you think it's important to confirm and embrace the false idea that Democrats are hostile to religion in order to set yourself apart, then continue doing what you're doing. It won't help the Democrats, and it probably won't even help you, but whatever makes you happy.David Sirota says Obama is "Reinforcing Dishonest Storylines",
One of the most infuriating behaviors among some Democrats these days is their willingness to create fake straw men that undermine progressives and reinforce false narratives about the Democratic Party?[Update - More at the end of the post]
... Obama, of course, is trying to portray himself as having the courage to stand up against these supposed Democrats that constitute the “we” in his rhetoric - the “we” that supposedly make this mistake of “fail[ing] to acknowledge the power of faith.” Yet, again, he doesn’t offer any names to tell us who constitutes the “we.” Why? Because there are none.
I think it is important that we get the point here, so I'm going to keep this going. I think the point is about understanding the Right's long-term strategic narratives, what they are, how they work, and how it harms us. We all need to understand the battle we are in, and learn how to all aim at our targets instead of at each other.
Sure, some Democrats and liberals are intolerant, hate religion, whatever (same with some Republicans). My point is that is not relevant to what is going on here. You can find examples of anything in any group. This wouldn't matter except that the Republicans are currently engaged in a larger battle they call the "culture war," with a larger, long-term agenda. They are using this particular argument - saying that liberals hate religion - as part of that war, to turn Americans against each other, divide and conquer.
It's not about truth or details or who is really right or wrong, it is a cold calculation about a selected demographic and a strategic message designed (and tested, etc.) to sway that demographic, period. It's not about facts, it's about a long-term effort to move a target group into their column. This is marketing -- you decide you want to target a group, you learn the demographics of the group, you learn what is important to them, you learn their "language," you craft a message that generates an emotional response, you test and refine it, and you roll it out.
They might tell a different targeted demographic THE OPPOSITE of what they tell this one, if they calculate that doing so over time moves THAT demographic into their column. Like I said, it is a cold calculation, not about facts or right or wrong, but about getting a job done.
You have a shampoo for dry hair, and you have another one for damaged hair. Inside the bottle is the SAME STUFF but you are targeting different groups by addressi
This particular strategic narrative is a drumbeat that has been going on for a long time with almost no response, and the result is that "conventional wisdom" forms around the core of their argument. They are telling religious people a big lie that Democrats and liberals IN GENERAL hate them, all of them, and therefore Christians and religious people need to vote for Republicans as the way to defend themselves and their religion from these attacks and insults and mockery.
Sen. Obama, by agreeing the way he did with the core conventional wisdom, saying yes liberals DO that, advances that narrative and provides cover for them to continue it. He didn't need to do that to make his point, and doing that undermined his point. Though the speech sounds like it is trying to bring people together, by reinforcing the core idea that Democrats and liberals hate Christians, he is actually helping advance the right's campaign to set Americans against each other.
THIS is why the Right goes to such lengths to do things like the whole "war on Christmas" campaign and that Cupertino, California lawsuit that falsely claimed the school district tried to " Ban the Declaration of Independence because it mentions God." Those are just lies, too. They put a lot of money and resources into efforts like that. It is a way to sway a targeted demographic. Nothing more.
If prominent Democrats publicly publicly agree that the Cupertino school system tried to ban the Declaration, or that there is a War on Christmas, doesn't it help them advance their case? So why is Senator Obama agreeing that liberals hate religion?
More posts from others: Matt Stoller,
Thank you, Obama, for taking on this critical yet vulnerable stereotype, and reinforcing it with moral security measures.Chris Bowers,
So thanks Senator Obama, for reifying this Republican-driven talking point about Democrats. Now almost everyone will think that Democrats are hostile to people of faith. Well done. Your mentor, Joe Lieberman, would be proud.Pachacutec,
The greatest victory of the radical right wing has been to train Democratic politicians to disrespect, mischaracterize and run against their base in the progressive movement.The Carpetbagger Report,
Who are these inauthentic religious Dems? Who are these rigid secularists who want a religion-free public square? As far as I can tell, this more closely resembles GOP talking points than reality.The Agonist,
See, now, this is a Lieberman moment. Because what Obama is doing is using Republican talking points about Democrats and religion to criticize his own party.Ezra Klein,
Sigh. What's Obama doing? I'll say that I've seen disappointingly little liberal leadership from the guy, though I've seen plenty of soaring rhetoric and powerful charisma.Michelle Goldnerg at Huffngton Post
Unfortunately, Obama's rhetoric ends up reinforcing Republic myths about liberal Godlessness instead of challenging them.
[. . .] The religious right offers people a narrative arc, not just about their own lives, but also about America's decline and imminent resurrection. Democrats need a mobilizing vision as well, one that speaks to the despair that underlies so much of our politics.
Obama recognizes this, but he errs in taking Republican propaganda as fact, or, to put it in Lakoff's terms, in accepting the GOP frame. He perpetuates the fantasy that there really is a liberal war on faith.
The Supreme Court ruled that it was OK for Texas to re-draw Congressional districts after they took control of the Texas legislature. The Texas redistricting gained them six seats in Congress, making it much more difficult for Democrats to take back the House - ever.
This sounds bad. It isn't. Why not? Because it means that states with Democrats in control can now do the same thing. Over at MyDD Chris Bowers explains,
We have a pretty good chance to take the trifecta this year in California, Colorado, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. We already have the trifecta in Illinois. After the 2006 elections, Democrats need the guts to wake up and realize that the public will not revolt in the face of Republican power grabs, and that Republicans will not play nice because we decide to do so. Redrawing the maps in those states will make it all but impossible for Republicans to hold the House after the 2006 elections. Further, we can take out several committee chairs and even the Speaker of the House out in so doing. If these are the tactics Republicans want to use, and if their Supreme Court say these tactics are legal, then its time we use these tactics to decapitate the most of Republican leadership. Let's see them whine and squirm when their own strategies are used against them. Failure to do so is a failure to fight the conservative movement's long march toward theocracy and totalitarianism.So, do the state Democrats have the fight in them to do it?
Chris also links to this analysis at Off the Cuff.
June 27, 2006
Government and Party continue to merge...
A US Senate Committee - Environment and Public Works - press release with a ".gov" address smears Al Gore, claims global warming is "debunked" and sends citizens to a website named "junk science."
Are any big-media "journalists" reading this? In case you didn't understand the context of the current discussion, treason carries the death penalty. They're talking about killing you.
Are your really sure you want to be helping this crowd?
Update - Think I'm going overboard? See the following:
Wouldn't executing Risen, Lichtblau, and Keller for treason (along with the person or persons responsible for leaking the government secrets) bring with it the ancillary benefit of encouraging other journalists and editors to find more socially beneficial ways to win a Pulitzer Prize and government leakers other ways of carrying out their leftwing Democratic party-supporting political agenda?And, to make another point, it's about the money. NY Times Continues Terrorist Support,
It has become increasingly clear that multiple members, if not most, of the leftist mainstream media no longer care about either the fate of the American people at the hands of terrorists or the survival of the United States. ... In fact, the Times seems to have viewed it as a “duty” to inform said terrorists of the program’s danger to their organizations. ... Is this just another example of anything for a buck ... In this case, prosecutions are not only highly warranted, they are necessary for our continued survival. The Constitutional protections afforded to a “free press” do not include treason.The Treasonous Times Must Be Prosecuted!
AG Gonzalez must bring charges against the Times and other media outlets, whether he can successfully prosecute them or not. After all, even a failed prosecution will yield a successful result: the MSM will definitely think twice before publishing classified information in the future.For those not yet clear that the Right is using code-words for the Jew York Times, Captains Quarters writes,
... all they care about is their own grasp of money rather than that of the terrorists.
Updates - Beyond calling for prosecuting and executing jopurnalists, PowerLine encourages readers to attack the Times themselves:
The Times and its likeminded media colleagues will undoubtedly continue to undermine and betray the national security of the United States until they are taught that they are subject to the same laws that govern the conduct of ordinary citizens, or until an enraged citizenry decides, like Bill Keller, to take the law into its own hands and express its disagreement some other way.
June 26, 2006
Bush issued an executive order today limiting "eminent domain" -- public seizure of private property to enrich private interests.
Does this mean that Bush is going to give the money back?
"A copy of the secret agreement among Mr. Bush and the other Rangers owners shows that they intended to make money not just by running a baseball club but also by land speculation.
For example, one owner found a nice chunk of land and sent a memo suggesting that it "sounds like another condemnation candidate if you want to work the site into your master plan," according to the court documents. Another of the owners' internal memos casts a proprietary gaze on a property and declares: "We plan to condemn this land."
For a group of financiers to go around town admiring properties and deciding which to seize through the government power of condemnation so that they can acquire free land and speculate on it is appalling."
Never before had a municipal authority in Texas been given license to seize the property of a private citizen for the benefit of other private citizens. That is exactly what happened to a recalcitrant Arlington family that refused to sell a 13-acre parcel near the stadium site for half its appraised value. Their land was condemned and handed over to the Rangers.As I wrote at the time,
So when you hear a right-winger complain about Kelo, and government seizures of property, let them know who the worst offender is, and point them to this info.And by the way, what ever happened to the Harken Oil insider trading document release that Bush promised?
United States Attorney General Gonzales is on the Rush Limbaugh Show as I write this. Coming up soon, Ann Coulter.
I know it's too much to expect of this crowd that they would denounce Coulter for saying Representative Murtha should be murdered for disagreeing with Bush's Iraq policy, or for saying that widows of the 9/11 attack enjoyed their husbands' deaths. But appearing on the Limbaugh show with Coulter is an endorsement.
Previously, the Vice President appeared on a platform with Coulter. This was before these latest remarks, but after she called for the murder of New York Times employees.
The other day I wrote about Juan Cole Denied Position At Yale For Criticizing Bush Policies.
Over at History News Network today, Juan Cole: Burning Juan Cole.
A few years ago I had a piece at HNN on a related subject, Who's Behind the Attack on Liberal Professors? That piece is as relevant today as it was three years ago. I see that people are STILL leaving comments there!
Over at Hullabaloo, tristero asks when we will have an opposition party,
"When will America again have two national political parties?"Go read.
I honestly wish I could say 2006. There are some positive signs that a second party could emerge, in the face of major attempts to suppress it, from what's left of the Democratic Party. It certainly would save a lot of time. Building a second party from scratch will be no picnic.
June 25, 2006
Recently the corporate media have been frothing about us fascist liberal bloggers:
On Thursday, the Washington Post's David Broder rejected "liberal bloggers," claiming that "the blogs I have scanned are heavier on vituperation of President Bush and other targets than on creative thought." Today, the New York Times' David Brooks, while specifically lashing out at Kos, characterized liberal bloggers as "small-minded," and described sites as "squadrons of rabid lambs [who] unleash their venom on those who stand in the way."
Why haven't I been named? I abolished Godwin's Law over a year ago. (Bush is a fascist, that's why). I routinely tell trolls to fuck off and die. Wherever I have found them, I have forthrightly opposed proposals for comity, civility and normal human decency. If anyone's a rabid attack lamb, I am.
But did Brooks name me? Did Broder? Did Zengerle?
No, no, and no.
Instead they went on about some wimpy nice-guys who never even link to me. What's a guy have to do to catch a break around here?
June 22, 2006
I saw that Fox had Ann Coulter on today. Then i a ocmment I was introduced to the Hitler vs. Coulter Quiz.
Go see how any you get right. I got 8 of 14 correct.
One more thing Bush will be remembered for: getting rid of pensions.
And by the way, where do you think the money went? When Reagan started the process, tricking people into thinking that a 401K - you put your money in - was somehow better than a corporate pension - they put money in FOR you - corporate profits started the big rise. That was the beginning of a huge transfer from future retirements to the very rich. But that wasn't enough, so the corporations also started underfunding their pension plans. Knowing they had a coming obligation they did not put the necessary money into the pension funds, instead sending the money to the top. And now, under Bush - who is still working to get rid of Social Security - corporations like United Airlines are cancelling pensions.
This is about OUR retirement savings, gone into the pockets of the Bush cronies. And what do the people who stole the pensions get? Tax cuts.
But wait, there's more.
It's not JUST our retirement savings that Bush is handing over to his cronies. You know that there is a huge budget deficit, but what do you think the budget deficit IS, anyway? Is it magic money from nowhere to pay for tax cuts for the rich, and the Iraq war? Of course not! Bush is borrowing trillions of dollars, handing it out to cronies (sometimes literally in duffel bags), and borrowed money has to be paid back with interest. Who do you think will have to pay that money back?
But wait, there's more.
Our tax dollars built America's infrastructure. Infrastructure is roads and bridges and water lines and schools and bank account insurance and regulations and all the things that support our economy. Every time a truck makes a delivery (sending profits upward) that truck drove on roads WE built. But are you and I - the public - sharing in the profits that come from the infrastructure we built? Who is our economy FOR, anyway? The corporations and rich are now largely excluded from paying taxes to maintain those roads, and America's infrastructure is crumbling. By not investing in infrastructure, Bush and his cronies are "eating our seed corn." So when we want to start rebuilding the infrastructure, who do you think will be paying?
We've all got a LOT to thank Bush and the Republicans for. And you're going to have some long, impoverished years to think about it.
Not content with the current rapid pace at which corporatism is overtaking democracy, FCC to review media ownership rules,
The Federal Communications Commission voted yesterday to review its media ownership rules, though the panel's two Democrats objected that the process won't ensure enough public comment on proposals.What's the point? Everything ALREADY sounds like Fox News.
With a Republican majority in place after a vacancy had produced months of deadlock, the panel reopened the disputed issue of limits on the number of radio and television stations that one owner can have and the limits on cross-ownership between newspapers and broadcasters. The rules are of great concern to giant media firms in an era of mergers and convergence of print and broadcast media inside companies.
I often think blogs and blog-readers are in a hyper-informed bubble. We are gaining influence with the DC insiders, and are reaching some people who influence the public. But WE are not reaching out very far yet. We need to find ways to reach a wider audience.
Meanwhile, America twists on under the spell of the wingnuts. Gun owners accuse UN of July 4 conspiracy,
Americans mistakenly worried the United Nations is plotting to take away their guns on July 4 -- U.S. Independence Day -- are flooding the world body with angry letters and postcards, the chairman of a U.N. conference on the illegal small arms trade said on Wednesday.So the NRA just makes this shit up, and 100,000 letters are sent. (And the message ties right in to the John Birch Society Get US Out of the UN camaign.) Does anyone smell pre-election activities?
"I myself have received over 100,000 letters from the U.S. public, criticizing me personally, saying, 'You are having this conference on the 4th of July, you are not going to get our guns on that day,"' said Prasad Kariyawasam, Sri Lanka's U.N. ambassador.
... The campaign is largely the work of the U.S. National Rifle Association, whose executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, warns on an NRA Web site (http://www.stopungunban.org/) of a July 4 plot "to finalize a U.N. treaty that would strip all citizens of all nations of their right to self-protection."
Looking at this ability to get the public going, and the kind of funding it takes, do you really think the Dems have a chance to take the House or Senate? Do you get what I am saying here? Remember the "Democrats are going to ban the Bible?" It worked.
I can't really say much about this except it's just silly. Someone needs to retire.
I've been thinking that big media doesn't even think of itself as informing the public in a democracy - it's just political entertainment. A commercial enterprise, period... The blogs come in to fill a vacuum.
Update - ">Peter Daou says it better than I can, today. Actually, he quotes a right-wing blogger who said it better.
"Tough sh*t! So after thirty years of writing this stuff in a bubble, you're finally getting feedback from people who are pissed off. Deal with it."
June 21, 2006
I think the new feature at DailyKos, Open Thread and Diary Rescue, is one of the best things that has emerged in the progressive blogosphere. It's sort of like the Right's TownHall, except it's open democracy in action -- an open-source think tank journal of expertise and opinion, where regular people can get in front of hundred of thousands of readers every day! I love it! The diaries have emerged as a great feature, but the recommendations can tend to be based on who in known or has done a good job in the past. The Diary Rescue brings up great stuff that wasn't noticed.
A certain person needs to get his OWN blog soon.
The Republican-controlled Senate refused Wednesday to raise the minimum wage, rejecting an election-year proposal from Democrats for the first increase in nearly a decade.See the narrative: The Democrats only offered the proposal as an election-year tactic, the Republicans opposed it on principal.
... Republican critics said the minimum wage was a job killer, not the boon to low-wage workers portrayed by Democrats.
Fact: The Democrats offer this every year, and the Repubicans always block it. Fact: Jobs INCREASE every time the minimum wage is increased because we live in a consumer economy and more people with more money to spend increases activity. Fact: No one employs more people than they need to employ, so a small increase in wages does not cause layoffs - as the results of minimum wage increases have ALWAYS shown.
I added this as a comment to the South Central Farm post, but after viewing it, I thought it was worth highlighting on it's own. View it on Current TV's web site (Al Gore's cable network): Save The Farm. For more information about the struggle to save South Central Farm, see http://www.southcentralfarmers.org/ and http://www.southcentralfarmers.com (different sites)
June 20, 2006
Sen. John McCain (affair, divorce), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (affair, divorce, affair, divorce), and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (divorce, affair, nasty divorce). Together, they form the most maritally challenged crop of presidential hopefuls in American political history.SO, will the press give Republicans the same treatment they give Democrats? Did Bush get the same treatment Clintodid? HA!
Until relatively recently, a self-confessed adulterer had never sought the presidency.
[. . .] Despite the scandalous details, whether the press will air them is still an open question. When it comes to personal morality, liberal commentators have long argued that the press has one standard for Democrats and another for Republicans (and another one entirely for the Clintons). It's possible that the mainstream media will fail to apply the same scrutiny to the known transgressions of Gingrich, Giuliani and McCain as the Times did to rumors about Hillary Clinton's husband.
I meant to post about this the other day. A letter to the editor, MercuryNews.com | 06/17/2006 | Government can't handle health care,
In reading the report of fraud by bogus victims of Katrina (Page 6A, June 14), I don't find myself surprised that our society has people of such low character. I'm also not surprised that we have government employees who do such an inept job of administrating my tax dollars. What does surprise and baffle me is that there are still people that think our health issues can be improved and even solved by these same types of government employees.Republican incompetence used to prove that Republicans are right.
While the Democrats can attempt to capitalize on a wave of voter discontent for this election cycle, an initial infatuation with the Dems will pass quickly, once voters realize that this is still the same party that brought us sky-high interest rates, federal binge spending, the replacement of prayer in school with the gospel of gay pride, and endless womanizing in the Oval Office.Etc...
In fact, twenty years down the line, I wouldn’t be surprised if our much-maligned President George W. Bush is regarded as one of our finest Presidents. Why? Because—when we faced an unprecedented attack on domestic soil on 9/11, the President responded with courage, strength and, yes, even restraint. He showed himself to be a voice of reason in an age dominated by those who would rather cow-tow to international thugs than to offend the ACLU.
The wingnuts are at it again. This time they're calling for a boycott of Circuit City because they carry "Musica Latina." No I'm not kidding. See Townhall.com :: Columns :: Circuit Ciudad at TownHall. If you don't know what TownHall is, it was started by the Heritage Foundation and is the central place for the Right's pundits.
The boycott stems from your misguided decision to provide customers with a better selection of “Musica Latina” than Country music CDs. In America, this is simply unacceptable.
Here are some more whiny parents of soldiers killed in Iraq. Take them out.
I've never heart of April Witt before, but I imagine that she's done for as far as the Washington Post is concerned. Who does she think she is, anyway?
MyDD :: Reforming Elections By Winning Elections, a response to something I hear a lot:
What good does it do to support candidates? With those Diebold machines, they can steal any election. It's pointless to compete in elections when the votes won't be counted.Myself, I say, go run for your local elections board.
Democracy Journal - A journal of ideas.
June 19, 2006
Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas. Click mouse to change color.
"The Buzz" is that Democrats will take back the House of Representatives. USE THE BUZZ. USE the perception that Democrats will have some clout soon to put fear into the corporate lawbreakers who are funding the conservative machine. I have written about this before, saying,
Threatening now to investigate illegal corporate funding is a strategic move that fires a warning shot across the bow of the Right's corporate funding machine, and it will apply pressure even if it just leaks out, anonymously attributed to "Democratic leaders," because of the buzz-factor that is coming into play.Now there are even more signs that the timing is right:
How much is that Democrat in the window? As the winds of change blow Democrats closer to a majority in the House, corporate interests have decided that Dem lawmakers are the "must-have" accessory for the fall season. Consequently, they're bumping up donations to Democratic candidates, and former GOP-heavy lobby shops are suddenly courting Dems to help fight their battles.The Note (Conventional Wisdom-Central) today,
The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins detects a shift in giving among the Republican-leaning insurance, pharmaceutical and tobacco industries towards Democrats, signaling that "businesses believe Democrats will have more sway in Washington after the 2006 midterm elections or the 2008 presidential contest."And the corruption stories continue daily. See yesterday's NYTimes story about the corruption in the Department of Homeland Security, With Bush-appointees setting up huge contracts and then leaving for million-dollar jobs with the companies they enriched.
So here's what I am saying. Use this buzz, take advantage of this Conventional Wisdom. Everyone is starting to think the Democrats will at least take back the House of Representatives, and strategists are looking at what this will mean. If the buzz proceeds toward thinking that the Democrats will be of a mind to seriously investigate the corruption and start putting corporate executives in jail, the Boards of these corporations, and the companies that insure them, will start worrying, and will feel pressure to start cleaning up their act and stop illegally funding the Republican machine.
And aside from the obvious political benefits, it's just good for the country.
June 18, 2006
[There are now more corrections officers (29,000) in California than there were state prisoners 20 years ago (24,000) when the individual featured in the article below went to prison. During that period, the prison population has increased more than six-fold, to 160,000. The cost to society to imprison these folks, many of them who belong elsewhere, and the wasted human potential they represent, is breathtaking in its scope.
The article below, printed in this month's "Street Spirit - Justice News and Homeless Blues in the Bay Area" (a publication of the American Friends Service Committee), highlights the destructive and inhumane nature of our prison system... and also the difficulty that even truly redeemed and repentant individuals face in obtaining parole from a system politically biased against it. I've excerpted several paragraphs from it, in the hopes that STF's readers will be inspired to read the full article off the Street Spirit web site.
An extensive and moving interview with the Rev. James Tramel is also available on their site. -Thomas]
From Prison to Priesthood
With a little help from his friends, Rev. James Tramel makes the journey from darkness to light.
by Terry Messman
In ministering to prisoners who were dying the loneliest deaths imaginable behind the prison walls of the House of the Dead, Father Tramel found friendship, a new reason to live, and a hope that could not be buried, not even behind the fortress walls of some of the nation's toughest prisons -- San Quentin, Folsom, Solano State Prison, and Vacaville. [...]
Father Tramel is a man of many firsts -- the first man ever to be ordained as an Episcopal priest while in prison; and the first prison inmate ever admitted into an Episcopal seminary, the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley.
He was also the youngest prisoner in San Quentin when he was locked up in the notorious California prison in 1986 when he was only 17. He spent his entire adult life in San Quentin, Folsom, Vacaville and Solano prisons until his release on March 12, 2006, after serving more than 20 years for second-degree murder. [...]
I am awarding the coveted - COVETED! - Seeing the Forest Blog Hero Award to the entire YearlyKos staff and volunteers.
This post is an ongoing project. So please send me pictures of anyone I missed! Please let me know names to put with the pictures. Also, the pictures were taken at the end of YearlyKos, so everyone is tired. Please send me a better picture if you would like that posted instead. This post will grow, new pictures will be added, and some day it will be complete.
Here are the winners of the coveted Seeing the Forest Blog Hero Award:
Read this. Read the whole thing. Understand one segment of how the conservative machine works. This is just one piece of the pie.
... admitted to participating in money-laundering schemes by personally smuggling cash from South Korea into the United States. She also said she witnessed other cases in which bags of cash were carried into the United States and delivered ... returned from a trip ... “with $600,000 in cash which he had received from his father. ... Myself along with three or four other members that worked at Manhattan Center saw the cash in bags, shopping bags.” ... made sure that his steady flow of cash found its way into the pockets of key conservative operatives, especially when they were most in need, when they were facing financial crises.Read the whole thing.
Call and ask YOUR member of Congress why this is not investigated. Call and ask your newspaper, too. Of course, you risk sounding like a crazy person, trying to tell people what's going on with the Repubicans
The NY Times story, Former Antiterror Officials Find Industry Pays Better, talks about how a few of the Bush people who give out or help arrange big contracts then go "work" for the company that received the contract. The money is really big. For example,
In their new roles, former department officials often command salaries that dwarf their government paychecks. Carol A. DiBattiste, who made $155,000 in 2004 as deputy administrator at the Transportation Security Administration, earned more than $934,000 last year from ChoicePoint, a Homeland Security Department contractor she joined in April 2005, the same month she left the agency.$1 million a year. There is no question that corruption is involved there.
Every day more stories of corruption.
What do you do about this? When the Democrats take the House this November, they should initiate a government-wide corruption audit and investigate every single, smallest instance of this kind of sleaze. Every single Bush appointee who used their office to award a contract to a Republican campaign contributor should be put in jail. Every single Bush appointee who awarded or arranged a contract and then went to work at the recipient company should be put in jail. Every single company involved should be put out of business, its assets seized and its executives put in jail. EVERY SINGLE ONE! That will put an end to this game once and for all.
And talking today about doing it will go a long way toward stopping the corruption - and the flow of corrupt money to the Republican machine - before the election.
Also - good for the New York Times for doing its job.
June 17, 2006
As I have suspected, many "conservatives" who leave comments at the blogs actually are paid to show up and spread right-win corporate disinformation.
Let's just say that were I a strategist for a military which had just killed an insurgency leader such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and seized a bunch of documents full of actionable intelligence, I might not choose to, you know, release them to the media. On the other hand, had I just killed an insurgency leader such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and I wanted to follow up on that operational success by sowing confusion and disarray among his followers (and maybe even scoring some points with the domestic public opinion which my Secretary of Defense has identified as a principle theater of conflict), I might very well release a bunch of "documents" showing that the recently deceased was highly pessimistic about his prospects and that his movement was on the run.Good idea, actually, to spread disinformtion that demoralizes al Queda. But it is a serious problem for democracy when the American media reports military disinformation. Democracy requires accurate information so the people can make informed ecisions. "Blowback" is the term for "disinformation" that is planted in foreign media but makes its way into American media. Blowback used to be considered a very bad thing, and there were protections designed to prevent it happening, precisely because of the harm it can do to democractic decision-making. These days it seems to be the intent.
(Through Political Animal.)
Ann Coulter hasn't lost any of her 100-plus newspaper clients, or the support of her syndicate, Universal Press Syndicate, despite her nasty remarks in her new book about 9/11 widows and her comment in an online interview implying that, perhaps, U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) should be "fragged."Even though parts of her recent book were plagiarized. And she continues to appear on network television. The very media people she talks about killing put her in front of a national audeince!
A Universal spokesman said there were no discussions going on there about dropping the columnist.
[. . .] Editors, she pointed out, have chosen not to run certain "Doonesbury" or "Boondocks" cartoons, which come from the liberal side of the spectrum. Asked if any paper had ever decided not to run a conservative column or cartoon, she said, "If it's happened, we don't know about it."
[. . .] The Universal columnist has also "joked" about killing other people, including Arabs, Muslims, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, and suggested that blowing up The New York Times building might be a good idea, especially if the reporters and editors were still inside.
A while back, in the post Juan Cole denied position at Yale for criticizing Bush, Ashleigh Banfield fired from MSNBC for criticizing one-sided media coverage, I wrote,
Suppose you want a career in media, want to rise up, want to buy (or keep) a house and car, have health insurance etc., how does your brain digest this news?Not just media, but people understand that MANY careers at this point depend on not letting on that you oppose the Republican machine. The signals are sent.
Watch your backs.
Update - I neglected to point out that NBC, the network that fired Ashleigh Banfield for criticizing media one-sidedness, refuses to say they will keep Coulter off the air, even after she called for killing a US Congressman, and members of the media.
June 16, 2006
President Bush likes to make the point that Iraq is better off without Saddam.
Myself, I want a President who makes decisions based on whether AMERICA is better off.
Just for fun, let's try a trivia quiz. First one to answer wins - but please continue the discussion.
Promise not to look it up!
Who was the Vice-President of the United States in 1976?
Update - We have a winner. Now - what were the circumstances of his death? NO CHEATING - only answer if you haven't looked it up. Feel free to discuss however.
After listing just some of the disgusting things Ann Coulter has contributed to the national discourse, Atrios writes,
There's nothing these people can say which will stop the mainstream media from putting them on.I would like to add to this that "our side" CAN'T say ANYTHING that is able to reach the public.
I was on a conference call with Democratic Minority Leader Pelosi yesterday, during which she outlined some of the things she has been doing and saying. The thing is, there is almost not way you would know what "the Democrats" have been saying if you don't hear it from her directly, or read lots and lots of blogs. You don't hear about it on TV. It is occasionally in the newspapers -- but no one reads newspapers anymore.
America's "marketplace of ideas" is not a marketplace at all, it is a rigged system. It is rigged entirely in favor of the corporate viewpoint. When was the last time you head or saw someone discussing the benefits of joining a union, or perhaps an open discussion of what it would mean to nationalize the oil companies? What ARE the merits for, and arguments against, such an idea anyway?
Did you just snort coffee out of your nose when I wrote "nationalize the oil companies?" Is the very IDEA of someone saying such a thing so far beyond imagination? More to MY point - is that somehow more far-out of an idea than Ann Coulter being invited on national TV over and over again to say the things she says? But we're USED TO that sort of thing on TV - we expect it - but we no longer expect rational discussion of how we as a democratic society should manage our commonly-owned resources.
Anyway, what I am trying to get at is that there are signals that are sent out to a society about what is and is not acceptable public discourse. Putting Ann Coulter on TV is a signal from which the public infers what can and can not be considered. Dick Cheney appearing on stage with Ann Coulter is a signal. President Bush refusing to meet with the Black Caucus or NAACP is a signal. NOT ALLOWING rational discussion of unions and allocation of public resources is a signal. More on this later.
June 13, 2006
[Call Mayor Villagairosa at 213-978-0600 and let him know that the whole world is watching, and that you want him to put people first, and step up his efforts to facilitate a resolution that preserves the farm as a space where poor urban residents, many of them immigrants and people of color, have an opportunity to grow healthy food and maintain a connection with the natural world. All the farmers need is time, the system is beginning to respond, not only as evidenced by the widespread support from celebrities, but by the fact that the Annenburg Foundation had stepped in and volunteered to help raise the last 8 or 9 million needed to purchase the farm - an activist friend of mine tells me that, in fact, they guaranteed that they'd be able to raise the money. The developer doesn't stand to lose money, he got the land in a sweetheart deal for less than market value, and will still make quite a bit of profit at a $15 million sale price. -Thomas]
To learn more about the South Central Farmers, visit: www.southcentralfarmers.com
L.A. COUNTY SHERIFFS EVICT THE SOUTH CENTRAL FARMERS IN EARLY MORNING RAID
Circle of Life Family,
This press release was just sent to us from the South Central Farm where Julia had been fasting and tree sitting for over 3 weeks. Daryl Hannah and John Quigley are still there and at last report were still in the walnut tree but about to get removed by sheriffs at any moment.
NEWS FLASH - 8:59am, 8 people have been carried out on stretchers and they have started to bull doze the land!
WHAT: Hundreds of officers with the Los Angeles Sheriff department swarmed onto the peaceful, non-violent South-Central Farmers garden at 5:15am today accompanied by six helicopters buzzing over the sleeping supporters.
Supporters of this 14 acre organic farming community remain outside the locked-down area on the street chanting their protest of this forceful action while 20 are still inside the farm.
Dozens of supporters have been living on the land, sleeping in tents, and taking turns living in the Walnut tree on the premise while fasting to show solidarity with the Farmers. Julia-Butterfly Hill just came down last week after fasting for 23 days. Several celebrities have shown up in the last few weeks - Willie Nelson, Martin Sheen, Danny Glover, Ed Begley, Jr, Joan Baez to name a few.
As of this time, Daryl Hannah and aerial artist John Quigley are up in the Walnut tree refusing to come down. 20 campers on the land have locked themselves to benches, fences and the base around the tree while L.A. County Sheriffs are attempting to saw their locks off.
Yesterday, a peace offering of organic flowers and fresh produce from the Farm was presented to the developer, Ralph Horowitz at his offices in Brentwood, California and to Mayor Antonio Villagairosa at City Hall. Their response to this
appears to be this early morning raid.
Citizens are frustrated with the Mayor because of his apparent lack of political leadership in this, even though he has publicly stated supported of the Farm in the last few weeks.
The Farm supporters are asking people to:
1. Call City Hall to ask that Mayor Villaraigosa step up and exhibit political leadership
and interfere with the eviction. PH: 213-978-0600
2. Come down to City Hall to express their support.
Address: 200 N. Spring Street - Los Angeles, CA 90029
3. Come to the Farm to Protest this oppressive and destructive action against the Farmers and their supporters
WHERE: 41st & Long Beach Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
(Alameda exit off Interstate 10)
WHEN: All Day
June 13, 2006
****A SPECIAL 7:00PM candlelight vigil will be held on-site
The public is encouraged to attend
To learn more about the South Central Farmers, visit:
Contact: Fernando Flores: Co-Chair of South Central Farmers Support Coalition
The South Central Farm, a 14-acre green oasis in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, is in danger of being lost to warehouse development. This community garden has been operated mainly by Latino immigrants for more than a decade and has become an important part of the culture and open space in Los Angeles.
In 1992, the Farm was created in response to the Rodney King uprising to help develop and align the local South-Central
community. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank signed a lease with the city of Los Angeles to set aside the South Central Farm as a community garden. Since then more than 350 impoverished families have banded together as the South Central Farmers to transform an industrial dump into an urban paradise. These families have been successfully augmenting their household food supply with the resultant harvest.
But in 2003 the city sold the land to a private developer to build warehouses. The community was outraged, and the farmers refused to leave the land while they tried to raise the money to buy the property themselves. For the last several weeks -- in the face of a deadline to come up with the money or be evicted -- the farmers, with the help of appeals by activists and celebrities, worked around the clock and successfully raised the money to purchase the property. At last report, the Annenburg Foundation had offered to help raise the 15 million to purchase the land but it seems responding to pressure, the developer has changed his mind and decided not to sell the land to the farmers after all.
Nathan Newman writes Daily Kos: Why Unions? Labor 101. It gets into subjects like
- How Unions Increase Pay
- Unions increase wages for non-union workers
- Who is in Unions
- Unions Strengthen the Economy
- Labor's Support for Civil Rights
- Why Unions Have Trouble Organizing Workers
This is not just a "must-read" it is a MUST-FORWARD. Go get this post, send it to everyone you know and ask them to forward it. Print it out and leave copies in coffee shops, etc. Let's start getting this information out to people.
June 12, 2006
Dave Robinson of Californians for Electoral Reform (CfER) has created an on-line demonstration of what a ballot might look if our electoral system in California used Instant Runoff Voting (for single seat races) and proportional representation / STV in multi-seat districts for Assembly and Senate, and implemented it live on the web using the open-source Demochoice e-voting software package.
Now, of course, this isn't a strictly fair representation, as there would be a lot more third party and Green Party candidates to chooce from for State Senate and Assembly, if such a system were in place - since you would only need the support of 20% of the populace to occupy a seat in a 5 or 6 seat district (House and Assembly) - a much more democratic result than the current system, where a victor who earns 45% of the vote in his or her district leaves 55% of the voters unrepresented.
... and of course, the other urgent need for returning fairness to our process of electing representatives is to take money and fundraising prowess out of the equation by implementing Clean Money public financing.
A short, simple question: When was the last time you saw someone on television discussing whether we should nationalize the oil companies? You haven't, have you? So take a moment to reflect on why this idea is not even presented for public discussion.
Another short, simple question: When was the last time you saw someone on television discussing why questions like "Should the oil companies be nationalized?" aren't presented to the public? Take a moment to reflect on why this idea is not even presented for public discussion.
In the open "marketplace of ideas" that democracy demands, ALL ideas should be open to discussion. ALL the sides of any debate deserve to be represented. Perhaps the idea of nationalizing the oil companies is nuts. Perhaps not. But shouldn't ideas like this survive or fail on their merits?
In a democracy ideas should have the opportunity to be discussed if a citizen or citizens think they should be. That is not what is happening in America today.
Jason Leopold has been on the hotseat for a while after reporting on an imminent Karl Rove indictment that was never announced. But now Leopold says he even knows the case number. Sealed vs. Sealed:
Four weeks ago, during the time when we reported that White House political adviser Karl Rove was indicted for crimes related to his role in the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, the grand jury empanelled in the case returned an indictment that was filed under seal in US District Court for the District of Columbia under the curious heading of Sealed vs. Sealed.He is not backing off. Truthout isn't either. Maybe there is something to this.
As of Friday afternoon that indictment, returned by the grand jury the week of May 10th, remains under seal - more than a month after it was handed up by the grand jury.
The case number is "06 cr 128." On the federal court's electronic database, "06 cr 128" is listed along with a succinct summary: "No further information is available."
Update - Salon says maybe not.
Friday night Gov. Warner threw a very expensive party for YearlyKos attendees. Some people wonder if it reflects poorly on his judgement, that he lavishly throws money around. I think this may have been a very effective use of marketing dollars and a very sharp strategic move. Think about it this way: if Gov. Warner has now established himself in the front of the pack, and grabbed onto a great big piece of the mindshare of the blogosphere, for only $70,000 (or whatever it cost), then GOOD FOR HIM - it shows he knows how to reach the audiences he needs to reach, when he needs to reach them. It's called "marketing." If there's anything the Democrats need it's marketing know-how, and if it means we get to eat free sushi, all the better.
Compare this to the cost and effort that would be required to achieve the same results using other means. How DO you get the attention of the blogoshpere? Do you set up local or regional meetings with bloggers? Think of the travel costs, time and staff that would take. Then there's the fact that he would have to fight tooth and nail with all the other candidates along that road.
With one well-timed event, Warner established mindshare - he got it done, he's on our map.
But wait, there's more!
He didn't just help himself. At the same time, by lending his own credibility to the emerging blogosphere he validated its importance to the American political process. His act said to the political structure, "This is important, I am taking it very seriously." By so doing, he helped strengthen a communications channel that the Democratic Party desperately needs - and that the eventual Democratic nominee will need. Strengthening the blogosphere? Works for me.
But wait, there's more!
Governor Warner has not just established himself with the blogosphere. By placing himself as a top blogosphere contender, he has positioned himself as a top contender, period. Let me explain. In my marketing life I always worked for "little guy" companies - small companies up against major established, entrenched competitors like Microsoft or Sony. So I developed what I a call "leapfrog" marketing, or "parallel channel" marketing strategy.
Suppose you want to introduce a product into the Microsoft Windows market. Getting noticed and establishing your brand is an extremely expensive - and time consuming - proposition. Throwing a huge $100,000 event at a major trade show doesn't even get you noticed, it's just expected. It hurts you if you don't do it, but doesn't help you much when you do. And then advertising and brand building is going to cost you millions, takes time, and you will still be barely noticed amidst the noise.
But maybe someone else is reaching the target audiences. Suppose you introduce a Linux version of your product first. Doing this, you are marketing into a parallel channel that has much lower marketing costs. But, in reality, much of your marketing activities are reaching the same audiences. The computer press, IT management, opinion leaders, sophisticated users, and many other target segments also pay attention to the Linux market so the result is that you are establishing mindshare in the Windows market. And there is an amplification not available in the Windows market. The Linux market is not saturated with products, so there is great demand. By introducing a serious product you leapfrog past the saturation obstacle of the Windows market.
So, as I said, by establishing himself as a leader of the pack of candidates in the blogosphere he is increasing his stature with the national political press and opinion leaders at the same time, because they are also paying close attention to the blogosphere as a leading indicator of public opinion.
So upon reflection, I think Governor Warner has pulled off a brilliant maneuver all the way around. By making himself important to the blogs, and at the same time increasing the importance of the blogs to the national political process, he is making himself a front-runner. At the same time, by increasing the credibility of the blogs now, he is strengthening their power and effectiveness as a channel for use by the eventual nominee.
By the way - I'm not endorsing Warner here. As I said before,
"So I'm going to be taking a really serious look at Gov. Warner, and blogging about him. I want to know more about his positions on issues. ... I suggest that you pay attention to this guy - you will like him."So the guy is a good marketer and strategist -- that's good for our side. And obviously he's a great salesman -- that's also good for our side.
I have no idea if Governor Warner is the right person to trust with the leadership of the country. I don't yet know if he wants to bring Medicare-for-All (single-payer health care), for example, or understands the threat to democracy we face from the fanatical cult-right and the theocrats. It's early, we'll find out. Some of us had a good and frank session with him yesterday (yes I'll write about it), and we need to digest what he said. And maybe he needs to digest what some of us said.
I think an important role of "the bloggers" in the process is to look at the candidates, ignore the (necessary) fluff and posturing and compromises, and decide if this is the right candidate for the good of the country. The political power structure isn't doing that. The press isn't doing that anymore, and we're about doing it a different way anyway even if they were. So it's left to citizen journalists to step up to the plate and fill that vacuum.
June 11, 2006
I made a "stitch" panorama of YearlyKos, while Gina Cooper was speaking.
Click to view. (And then click to enlarge.)
June 10, 2006
Following are my prepared remarks to the YearlyKos panel on Building Progressive Infrastructure. Also speaking were Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, Jerome Armstrong and David Sirota: (There's a snippet of video here. I'll post a link to a complete video if it becomes available.)
Thank you for inviting me to come to YearlyKos to talk Creating Progressive Infrastructure. I’m Dave Johnson. I blog at seeing the Forest and I’m a Fellow at the Commonweal Institute.
One of the things the bloggers have been pounding on for at least a couple of years is the idea of building Progressive Infrastructure.
For decades you haven’t been able to go anywhere without hearing – over and over – that conservatives are good and liberals and their ideas are bad and stupid and shameful and evil – and a hundred variations on that theme. Have any of you encountered that message?
Conservatives are marketing what President Bush would call “conservativityism,” and doing it very well. And the broad, general public hears hardly ANYTHING in response from our side to fight back against that basic underlying propaganda argument.
How did it get to be that way?
Back in the 50s and 60s, in the decades following FDR and World War II, it was a time when most Americans agreed that it was good to help each other, pay their taxes, to help the poor, to send kids to public schools, to protect the environment – all those llllliberal things. America had a PROGRESSIVE CONSENSUS. And in that environment Progressive organizations grew up designed around using limited resources to get the important things done in those areas where everyone agreed things needed doing. At the same time, in politics Democrats could rely on a solid majority so progressive political operations were designed around getting their voters to the polls.
Reorganizing after Goldwater’s 1964 defeat, the Right accepted that this Progressive consensus existed and started to build up organizations designed to change people’s minds, to reach out and PERSUADE THE PUBLIC that their way is better. They set up marketing-oriented organizations that touted the benefits of a conservative approach and promoted social values that are compatible with conservative thinking.
They worked to get their message into the media, hiring and training people to write columns and articles and books and appear on radio and TV shows and go out around the country and give talks. They started training and paying people to work on campaigns and work for the people who got elected and to run for office themselves. They set up a media “Echo chamber” with conservative movement authors and commentators citing conservative movement “scholars” and “Institutes,” and so on, until their “reports” and “studies” seemed to have great credibility and seemed to be coming from every media outlet. And they established their OWN magazines and newspapers and radio shows and TV shows and later networks. And they always talked selectively about American beliefs and values in ways that made them seem truly conservative—they worked on changing how Americans thought about themselves and their world.
For more about the history of this movement go to commonwealinstitute.org/information.html That’s Commonweal like commonwealth without the th dot org, with '– /information.html' or look for the RESOURCES button on the Commonweal site that takes you to that information.
Today, the right is so effective because after 30 years of constant marketing and sophisticated use of techniques like strategic narrative and social desirability bias – and repeating that a conservative approach is better, and liberals are bad and stupid and incompetent and unpatriotic and evil, with almost NO COUNTER ARGUMENTS reaching them from Progressives, the public FOR SOME REASON thinks that Progressives are bad and stupid and incompetent and unpatriotic and evil, and that conservatives offer a better way! Imagine that – a public that is trained to respond to marketing has responded to 30 years of ceaseless, unanswered marketing!
And it’s like the Progressives just didn’t notice what was happening.
Suppose you built a car and your competitors spent millions advertising that your car breaks down or is unsafe, and you never advertise what’s good about your car – do you think very many people would BUY the cars you make?
So on the one hand you have Conservative organizations designed to attack and change people’s minds away from progressive values. On the other you have Progressive ISSUE-oriented organizations, built in another time, when everyone agreed with progressive values so they didn’t NEED to market to the public promoting the benefits of a progressive approach.
And here we are -- even now most progressive issue organizations STILL aren’t designed to reach the broad, general public and make the underlying argument that liberal and progressive values and ideas are BETTER – they are not marketing the benefits and the values, only issues.
How many times have you heard it said that if we just get the facts out about our issues, the public will support us. Well, that is not how marketing works.
Times change and the understanding that provides support for our issues has eroded.
Two Yale students, Jennifer Krencicki and Dahvi,Wilson, gave me a great analogy to help understand the advantage of marketing values instead of issues. They remind us about the GOT MILK? campaign. The milk companies could have all advertised their respective brands against each other, but they saw that their problem was that the public was drinking less milk overall. So instead of marketing their individual brands, THEY MARKETed THE IDEA THAT PEOPLE SHOULD DRINK MORE MILK. The result was that … well, people drank more milk --- and ALL THE MILK BRANDS saw their sales rise!
So we need to stop looking to every next election, expecting some messiah candidate to show up and lead us out of the wilderness and back to a majority status – and instead start thinking long-term and big-picture. We have to stop emphasizing narrow issues that split us apart, and start talking about the underlying values that tie our issues together. We have to stop focusing on our narrow issue silos, and follow the original American motto—“e pluribus unum”—because even though we progressives are many, at heart we are all one.
To be specific, we have to fund and build the kinds of organizations that market to the public the idea that Progressive values and a Progressive approach to issues – democracy and community, we’re all in this together – benefit the public more than a conservative “you’re on your own -- everyone out for themselves” approach. We need to fund and build organizations that train writers, speakers, TV and radio commentators, activists, leaders and candidates -- and other organizations that HIRE people so they can have careers and make a living fighting for OUR values.
I have focused here on one area of progressive infrastructure – marketing – to give an idea of the kind of things we are missing. There are other pieces of this pie that are in similar cirsumstances – political operations, training and recruiting, and providing ways to make a living. We need to build in these areas as well.
And, more than anything, we need to pay bloggers and pay them A LOT!!
If we do these things, over time, the public will come back.
At YearlyKos tonite Senator Harry Reid announced that he will introduce legislation demanding that Bush release any intelligence IN WRITING to back up any claims he makes about Iranian (with an 'n' this time) nuclear weapons programs.
I'm online for the first time today. Over 500! e-mails are now downloading, mostly spam. YearlyKos is ust amazing, great, lots hapening. I've been too busy to even access a computer before now. Had an hour-long meeting with Governor Warner with a few other bloggers earlier and I'll write about that when I can.
I'll also post my prepared remarks from ths morning's panel on Progressive Infrastructure with markos, Jerome and David Sirota.
June 9, 2006
For the record, the NY Times story has an out-of-context portion of what was said. The converstation was that there were more press and politicians than people attending - which of course was true because yesterday was the "pre" day. YearlyKos didn't officially start until later with Kos' talk. In a longer conversation I said that because I had posted something about Nancy Skinner on my blog 10,000 more people are here now just for that one small piece of it.
My point was about the virtuality of all of this - the community around YearlyKos is very large, even if only some of us can afford to attend in person. This is an important part of what is happening with the "netroots" experience. The NY Times can try to make that look silly if they want to - we're here.
Here's a pic from Markos' talk:
Following are my prepared remarks to the Ethics, Corruption and Movement Politics panel:
I’ll begin by briefly going over the origins of the modern Conservative Movement, from Goldwater to Heritage Foundation to Reagan to now.
After Goldwater’s 1964 defeat the far right built – or bought, really – a movement based on persuading Americans to think differently about themselves and the world. And I do mean the far right. How many of you remember the base commander in Dr. Strangelove, muttering about “precious bodily fluids”? Well that was the far right I’m talking about, and I remember them. Actually they aren’t really all that different now – they just hide it.
With really big funding they set up the beginnings of a “persuasion engine.” They started setting up dozens, then more dozens of what are called think tanks, like the Heritage Foundation -- built around marketing the (make quote signs with fingers) “ ideas” they generate. But all this effort wasn’t about ideas to solve the country’s or humanity’s problems -- Everything was designed to change the public’s political attitudes and make us more accepting of right-wing ideology.
Using the latest sophisticated marketing research into techniques – things like strategic narrative, the actions of similar others, social network analysis, and social desirability bias – they began endlessly repeating, in a thousand variations, the message that a conservative approach is better, and liberals are bad and stupid and shameful and evil.
Have any of you heard any of that – on the radio, or on TV maybe?
And they thought long term. They understood that the high school student they influenced today could some day be an activist or candidate. They understood that the junior research assistant they paid now would be the noted author or the influential columnist later. And they paid well – no point losing these people to the business world. You could make a LIVING being a conservative.
They also set up a huge media “Echo chamber” with conservative movement authors and commentators citing conservative movement “scholars” and “Institutes,” and so on, until their “reports” and “studies” seemed to be coming from every media outlet.
Eventually people started to think that there was a consensus of “experts” who all agreed that these conservative approaches were the only practical solutions to our problems. In short, they repeat marketing messages through multiple channels, over a sustained period of time, to create CONVENTIONAL WISDOM.
For more about the history of this movement go to commonwealinstitute.org/information.html That’s Commonweal like commonwealth without the th – look for the RESOURCES button on the Commonweal site, that takes you to that information.
The conservative movement didn’t just build UP THEIR ideas in the minds of the public. They also used their communications machine to tear DOWN their opponents -- organizations and political parties and even individuals.
Most people today perceive Jimmy Carter as having been a bad president. But let me suggest something. Knowing what we know now about how the right’s smear machine works, please go find and read President Carter’s so-called “Malaise speech.” Google the words “carter malaise speech”. Read that speech and you’ll see the signs that he was under attack by this right-wing machine that we are more familiar with today. We didn’t understand it back then but you’ll SEE it now. And knowing what we know now about oil and energy … you’ll cry. Especially when you see Al Gore’s new movie An Inconvenient Truth.
The reason this is relevant to this panel is that Carter was up against the machine, funded in part by the big oil companies. Their problem with Carter wasn’t ideological, it was only business -- Carter tried to reduce our use of oil – reductions that are so relevant today as we face Middle East wars, category 5 hurricanes and melting glaciers. Go read that speech.
This machine grew powerful -- they destroyed Carter - and then Mondale, then Dukakis, then Clinton, then Gore. Kerry went up against the machine and got the Swift Boating. Labor unions, environmentalists, teachers, civil and women's rights advocates, advocates for the poor, almost any group with the word "community" in its name, and so many others unfortunately also find themselves on the defense.
So, like I said the conservative persuasion machine and media echo chamber quickly moved past that initial far-right funding to also take in big corporate money. But corporate money is “interested” money – it necessarily has strings or it would not be given. And the strings necessarily go back to the interests of the corporation – not the public or the country – or even the conservative movement.
The movement followed the money and started to change from pure ideology to lobbying for the interests of the corporate backers. The think tanks began making arguments in support of what were little more than paying customers.
And so did their politicians.
For example, some of you have wondered why the logging industry are good Conservatives for cutting the trees, but the fishing industry, which depends on leaving the trees alone, are called environmental whackos. Ask, rather, who pays more?
(Personally, I always wondered why Jesus was in favor of capital gains taxcuts and dividend exclusions? But that’s another story)
Finally with Bush in office the lobbying turned to outright corruption, PURCHASING of legislation, regulation or deregulation, tax breaks, lucrative contracts and policy, by whoever offered the highest bribe.
So I have laid out some of the background that set the stage for the Republican corruption scandals you read about on the blogs. Also on the panel today is David Sirota, who has written a GREAT new book about this Hostile Takeover of our country by big money and corruption. So without further ado, let me pass the microphone to David.
This is my first chance to get online today. I have pics from Markos' talk last night and Barbara Boxer's talk at lunch today, plus a few from the panel I was on this morning. I'll post them later - sorry.
One of the stories here is the is a huge gathering of people who know each other but have never SEEN each other. I JUST said to Stirling Newberry and Ian Welsh, sitting across a table from me, "Do any of you know Jane Hamsher? I want to meet her" and they both said at the same time, "That's her sitting almost next to you."
June 8, 2006
Well Mr. Too-cheap-to-pay-for-Internet-in-the-room just came down to sit on the floor in the convention center lobby and post some pics from Markos' YearlyKos keynote talk, and realized I'm also Mr. Too-stupid-to-remember-to-also-bring-his-USB-cable-down-with-him so I won't be posting any pictures after all.
Nancy Skinner, running for Congress in Michigan.
More from YearlyKos -- I was just at the MyDD "Caucus" with Jerome Armstrong, Matt Stoller, Chris Bowers and John Singleton. It's the first time I met Chris Bowers, in fact I didn't even know what he looks like, and we're both Commonweal Institute Fellows!
Actually, it's still going on - I'm sitting on the floor across from the room. So this is pretty close to "liveblogging." In fact, the pics are still downloading from the camera.
It was crowded, people out in the hall looking over shoulders.
Go to YearlyKos 2006 | Air America Radio to sign up to see YearlyKos streamed live.
I'll be on a panel titled Ethics, Corruption and Movement Politics tomorrow (Friday) morning at 9:30 PST. FYI Joe Trippi had cancelled but is here and WILL be on that panel.
I'm also on a panel titled Building Progressive Infrastructure Saturday morning at 9:00am PST with Markos and Jerome and David Sirota, right after Howard Dean's breakfast talk.
I'll post a transcript of my prepared remarks as soon as I get a chance after each panel.
I'm posting from the lobby at YearlyKos, sitting on the floor, next to the bathroom, across from the registration desk. This is because they have free wireless here, and it costs a bunch to get hooked up in the rooms, and I'm really cheap. I'm WAYYYY too cheap to pay for Internet in the room when I can get it free by sitting on the floor in the lobby.
The convention is in the Riviera Convention Center, which is really big, so there are other events here at the same time. One event is a national billiards championship so there are all these huge ballrooms stacked full of pool tables, and a special room with three tables and all kinds of really nice sets for TV.
One funny thing - the next convention down from YearlyKos is named NSA. Maybe that's why there's free wireless in the lobby - makes it easier for them to tap in. Heh.
Arriving here, being in the line to check into my room, and heading to where YearlyKos is, I had a strange feeling like I sort of recognized lots of people. Yet I didn't quite. Of course, I did recognize the people I know, but so many other people that seemed familiar... why is that? And then in front of the registration desk for YearlyKos there's a crowd of people, but 're all looking at each other's badges for clues to who everyone is, because we all know each other from online but have never seen each other. I think you'll probably read the same observation at other blogs, and in diaries at Kos.
So tonite Markos is giving a keynote talk at 7:30 and I hope there's some food. I found a Subway across the street where I could get something vegetarian... I was with Mary from Left Coaster and Pacific Views, who said it's funny how Subway has become the default healthy place to eat when you're on the road.
Update - I remembered I brought a camers, and did the 3-mile trek to the room to get it. Here's where I was sitting:
June 7, 2006
In the election to replace corrupt Republican Congressman Duke Cuningham we're TOLD that Democrat Francine Busby received 55,587 votes, and Republican Brian Bilbray received 60,319 votes. The problem is, THERE IS NO WAY TO KNOW FOR SURE because some of the machines are touch-screen voting machings WITH NO PAPER TRAIL!
The biggest concern about the race, by far, is that San Diego County uses two types of Diebold voting systems -- optical-scan and touch-screen -- both of which have not only proven to be disastrously unreliable in San Diego County and California in the past, but have also been demonstrated over the last six months to feature dozens of exceedingly well-documented and remarkable security vulnerabilities, making them extremely accessible to tampering.SOME of the voting was done on machines with no paper trail.
And then, only if the number of votes cast on the touch-screen systems is smaller than the number of votes separating the two candidates after all of the optical-scan paper ballots have been counted manually. If the margin separating the two after the op-scan ballots are counted is smaller than the number of votes cast on the touch-screens, there is no way of knowing who the winner of the race truly is.So here we have a vitally important race, AND NO WAY TO PROVE WHO WON?
The results of the election is left open to doubts based on the integrity of the Republicans -- in a special election made necessary by a corrupt Republican.
Remember when MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield spoke out against the way the media was covering Iraq. Then, later WorldNetDaily: NBC News dumps Ashleigh Banfield. The reason the far-rght WorldNetDaily trumpets it is because they want the point driven home - -you criticize == you lose your job. MSNBC caved to the far-right. Suppose you want a career in media, want to rise up, want to buy (or keep) a house and car, have health insurance etc., how does your brain digest this news?
When Cole’s potential hiring became publicly known, several of his detractors, including the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Rubin and Washington Times columnist Joel Mowbray, took various steps to protest the decision. They wrote op-ed pieces in various publications and Mowbray went as far as to send a letter to a dozen of Yale’s major donors, many of whom are Jewish, urging them to call the university and protest Cole’s hiring.Yale caved to the far-right. Suppose you want a career in academia, want to rise up, want to buy (or keep) a house and car, have health insurance etc., how does your brain digest this news?
... “The articles published in the Yale Standard, the New York Sun, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, and the Washington Times, as part of what was clearly an orchestrated campaign, contained made-up quotes, inaccuracies, and false charges,” he said.
We remember McCarthyism as a dark period because people were smeared and denied jobs because of thier political beliefs.
June 6, 2006
I'll be working the polls today until really late tonite. But it's likely to be a slow day, and they might have wireless at the forehouse I'm working. And there is a Starbucks nearby with their wireless. So I might get chance to post. We'll see.
If you're in a state with an election today, go vote!
June 5, 2006
A right-winger asks Should the Government Tax You when You Die?
I ask back: Should the children of the extremely rich be the ony Americans whose income is not taxed?
Visit YearlyKos 2006 | Air America Radio to sign up to see YearlyKos webcast live, gavel to gavel, Thursday nght until Sunday.
Wingnuts are going ... well... NUTS, because tomorrow is the dreaded 666 day!!! 6/6/06!!!!
Drudge is hilighting that the 30-year mortgage rate is at 6.66%.
But wait, there's MORE!!! MUCH more!!!
If you count the letters in "Ronald Wilson Reagan" it's 666!!!!! When Reagan retired he moved to 666 Cloud Road!!! And Ronald Wilson Reagan is an anagram!!!!! If you rearrange all the letters you get: INSANE ANGLO WARLORD!!!!!
And there are even more signs, sure signs,
We are declining in terms of baptisms (down 4 percent last year), declining in terms of investment through the Cooperative Program (down from 10.6 percent to 6.66 percent since 1984).Another sure sign, On Fox, Coulter plugged 6-6-6 release of new book attacking liberals as "godless".
The signs are showing up everywhere:
And fiscal year to date, the airport has handled 6.66 billion pounds of cargo, up 1.84 percent from the same period last fiscal year.And here:
The corresponding millage increase would be 6.66 mills, according to Dickl, which the board then passed in a 5-4 vote.6.66 MILLS??? A TAX??? !!! SURELY the devil is involved!!! And there is ever more:
Blanton was 0-5 with a 6.66 ERA...ERA - cleverly planted by LLLLiberals to make you think of the Hellish Equal Rights Aendment!! And more:
Turkey paid USD 666 million for oil imports in March 2005.And so many more -- the vaccine that the right-wingers are trying to ban because it prevents cervical cancer,
In a Phase III study, 666 women aged 15 to 55 were vaccinated with Ceravix. After a month of treatment, all women showed antibody response against type 16 and type 18 human papillomavirus, strains of the virus that are associated with cervical cancerIt just doesn't stop coming at us:
SFR's quarterly earnings from operations rose by 11.0% to EUR 666EUROS???!!!!!
...LG Telecom, which had 6.66 million users by April...And this one,
Goldman Sachs's fund management unit was among sellers of Tyco stock during the quarter, disposing of 9 million shares to reduce its position to 6.66 million.Goldman? Didn't BUSH just pick someone from Goldman to be Treasury Secretary???? Isn't that where the MONEY is????? And isn't Goldman a JEWISH name??? !!!!
But now, here comes the big one, the real shocker:
It might SEEM that counting the letters in "George Walker Bush" gives you 664, BUT THEY CHANGED THE NAME FROM BUSCHE!!!!! HE'S THE DEVIL!!! (I've wanted to start that rumor for years...)
Instead of a lot of writing, I'll just refer you over to Brad Blog: THE BRAD BLOG: "America Needs Debra Bowen as California's Secretrary of State"
Today's MUST-READ is: How to Grow a Democratic Majority,
By developing an organizational structure now, Mr. Dean hopes that the Democrats will have something sturdy to rely on if, and when, they win back the White House.
It's uncertain whether Mr. Dean will succeed. After all, Mr. Emanuel makes a persuasive argument for his approach. Why should the Democrats trade a chance to win the House now for an uncertain future?
The answer? Because a victory now will most likely be short-term. As the Republicans have shown, creating a durable electoral majority requires a firm organizational foundation, something the Democrats don't have. But if Mr. Dean can hold fast to his plan, they just might be on the way to getting one.
This is the study of interactions in groups, discovering who the key people are who hold the group together and get the group doing things. If you track this with sophisticated computer software you can learn some very interesting things. In politics, think of the value of knowing who are the key people for reaching and influencing large numbers of voters...
So read up, there WILL be a test.
June 4, 2006
I have a car mystery. I can not find the answer online and I have been looking. Can anyone answer this?
How do you replace the front right turn signal bulb located on a 2000 Honda Accord?
June 3, 2006
Larry Johnson, Earplugs, Marines, and Haditha | TPMCafe, excerpt:
As we keep sending our sons and daughters into the teeth of the insurgency in Iraq, we are discovering that we have forgotten the horror of fighting an insurgency. When tight knit units, like these Marines, lose friends and colleagues, they normally are not thinking like philosopher warriors. The Marines train these kids to kill (and well they should). They are not trained to operate as police officers. Entirely different rules of engagement.
Insurgents don't play fair either. They do not show up in clearly marked uniforms. They look like civilians and hide in the midst of populations. Sometimes the locals are witting and supportive and sometimes they are coerced. Both situations currently exist in Iraq.
I do not know who is personally responsible for the killings at Haditha, but it certainly appears that some Marines lost control and are probably guilty of manslaughter. Fortunately, this has not been a common event. But that offers small comfort. In the war for the hearts and minds of the Iraqis we do not have the luxury for any mistakes like this.Go read.
We must also accept that Americans as a whole share some responsibility for the actions of these soldiers. We sent them to war. We put them square in the middle of the battle. We cannot simply sit idly on the sidelines clucking our tongues over the awful thing that was done. We are complicit. If we think we can deal with this by simply "punishing" the guilty and move happily on with the rest of our lives, then we have ignored our societal obligation to the soldiers we ask to go to war to fight on our behalf. If young Marines have murdered Iraqi civilians, who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, then they must be held accountable. But, in punishing them, we must remember that we still have an obligation to these soldiers. Leaders we selected put sent these young men and women to war (and yes, I realize Al Gore probably won the election). We have an obligation to help make them whole and return emotionally intact to civil society.
I think the clue is at 40 seconds - she isn't wearing any pants. Otherwise it really could be the latest wingnut hero.
The thing is - the wingnuts are SO extreme this might or might not be a parady! And I bet there's some right wingers trying to order the book.
"(The deputy) said, 'You want me to kill everyone, including the dog?' They agreed," Mysinger said.
June 2, 2006
From the Blogosphere: The YearlyKos convention will feature a panel discussing ethics, corruption and movement politics. Members of the panel include Dave Johnson, David Sirota, Melanie Sloan and Joe Trippi.
A strong democracy requires strong ethics on the part of its leaders, and control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Presidency and the Supreme Court comes with the responsibility for oversight and enforcement of the country's laws and regulations. This panel will examine ethics in today's government, and discuss the policies that could be addressed, such as lobbying reform and the public financing of elections.
"There is a strong case to be made that the progressive movement cannot fully achieve its goals unless the political process is cleaned up," said David Sirota. "That means we must make the political reform agenda a major priority in everything we as a movement do."
The public is aware of an ever-increasing assortment of scandals and corruption involving members of Congress, with new details being reported weekly. Progressives wanting to see their ideas enacted will first have to ensure that the country's political process is able to support change, and cleaning up the government is the first step in achieving that goal.
The netroots has already begun to have an impact on the issue of ethics in government. Melanie Sloan says that "Progressive bloggers are straight shooters who are relentless at holding leaders accountable. They pushed the ethics issue forward by demanding that all political leaders, regardless of party, address the problem."
"It's astonishing to see all of the scandals that are unfolding in Washington, along with the accompanying stress on the checks and balances built into our government" said Pamela Nelson, YearlyKos Convention planning committee member. "It is great to have this panel discussion on how to set the country back on a course of ethics and balanced leadership."
The YearlyKos Convention is pleased to provide the opportunity for open discussion on how we can clean up government and pave the way for change.
Dave Johnson is a Fellow at the Commonweal Institute (http://commonwealinstitute.org), which is dedicated to marketing the benefits of progressive values and a progressive approach to issue to the American public. Dave also blogs at Seeing the Forest (http://seeingtheforest.com). Dave researches the history and funding of the "conservative movement," and has written reports describing the right's coordination of strategy and messaging to attack strategic targets such as trial lawyers and teacher unions.
David Sirota is the author of the book "Hostile Takeover," which looks at how corporate interests have joined forces with politicians to make sure public policy is sold off to the highest bidder. He is a senior editor at In These Times, a regular contributor to The Nation and the American Prospect, and the blogger for Working Assets (http://www.workingforchange.com/blog). He was a senior strategist for Brian Schweitzer in his 2000 run for the Senate and his 2004 run for governor. He was also the press secretary for Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders and the top spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee.
Melanie Sloan, former Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia, serves as Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) (http://www.citizensforethics.org/), a non-partisan, government watchdog organization primarily concerned with ethics in government. CREW targets government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests.
Joe Trippi (http://joetrippi.com) is a Fellow at the New Politics Institute (http://www.newpolitics.net/about/foundingteam/) and is the author of the book "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet and the Overthrow of Everything." He was National Campaign Manager for Howard Dean's presidential campaign, pioneering the use of online technology to organize what became the largest grassroots movement in presidential politics. Trippi's innovations have brought fundamental change to the electoral system and will be the model for how all future political campaigns are run.
The tea-leaf readers believe that the Bush administration is getting ready to cut a deal with Iran, and that all the hot air (see below) is just for show. My own fear is that they are wrong, and that Bush plans to provoke a war or a crisis in order to save his presidency.
Yes, that would terribly risky for the US and the world, but that won't stop Bush. Whatever else he may be, he's a risk-taker, and I think that he knows that he's finished unless something big happens.
Do the Democrats have a response planned? My money says no. Half of them will probably support the war, and in the confusion the Republicans may well pull off an election victory
We'll know soon enough.
If you want Gore to run, go contribute $5.
June 1, 2006
Peter Daou has unearthed a 2003 Ladies Home Journal interview with the Bushes, in which they describe having a laugh on 9/11.