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July 31, 2006

Brown vs Doolittle

Go visit Charlie Brown for Congress

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:13 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

What is Hizbullah?

Juan Cole at Informed Comment has a post on Hisbullah that is important reading.

Western and Israeli pundits keep comparing Hizbullah to al-Qaeda. It is a huge conceptual error. There is a crucial difference between an international terrorist network like al-Qaeda, which can be disrupted by good old policing techniques (such as inserting an agent in the Western Union office in Karachi), and a sub-nationalist movement.

Al-Qaeda is some 5,000 multinational volunteers organized in tiny cells.

Hizbullah is a mass expression of subnationalism that has the loyalty of some 1.3 million highly connected and politically mobilized peasants and slum dwellers. Over a relatively compact area.

[. . .] Hizbullah is not like al-Qaeda in any way, sociologically speaking, and making such an analogy is a sure way for a general or politician to trick himself into entering the fires of hell.

Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:24 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

War Is Always Wrong And It's Up To US To Stop It

Update - and just for the record: What I meant to say, and what I should have said, was that CHOOSING war is always wrong.


Atrios posted a YouTube video of Elvis Costello singing "Peace Love and Understanding." A simple message, but I'd like readers to reflect on this a minute.

I was born not long after the end of WWII. The world was sick of war and looking for ways to avoid it -- line the UN. For example, the UN's processes helped us back away from nuclear destruction during the Cuban Missile Crisis and has helped dampen many other conflicts. But somehow it seems that lessons have been unlearned since then, the most important of which is WAR IS WRONG. WAR IS THE WORST THING!

Today I turn on the AM radio and almost every station is blasting a message that war is a good thing. Seriously, listen to Limbaugh for a while. Or just listen to Bush the other day explaining why a cease fire is out of the question. And there are well-funded organizations working long-term to undermine the UN and other peacemaking efforts. Then there are the more subtle pushes toward war, the kind that ride under the radar of the media, doing things like encouraging India and Pakistan to develop ever MORE nuclear weapons. Or refusing to talk to North Korea or Syria or Iran... It is all cloaked in modern, soothing PR-speak, but it's war and aggression and it could bring the same consequences to humanity that it has always brought in the past.

Now we live in the Propaganda Age. Marketers have figured out how to use words and images to trigger deep emotions, distract our focus, fog our thinking and get us to do things we would never do otherwise. This isn't right or wrong - it's just science. It's just knowledge. But all of us need to catch up to the science here, and find ways to regulate it, counter it, protect against it. Europe learned the hard way what happens when unrestrained racist propaganda is put in front of people -- so now in much of Europe it is banned. Look at what unrestricted marketing has brought us -- a lung cancer epidemic, widespread obesity, massive debt, global warming and other forms of what I call "marketing diseases." And now they are marketing war. We are going to have to learn, probably the hard way, that we need collective agreement about restrictions on marketing.

We live a good life in America. But that doesn't mean it can't go all wrong. We talk about "withdrawal" from the Iraq war, as if that would end anything we have started. Tell me, do you think Japan could have called for a time out and "withdrawal" after Pearl Harbor? No, that is not how war works. Japan thought it could do a quick, surgical strike and knock out our capability - and will - to respond. They guessed wrong. And now, like Japan, we have leadership that is bringing war to others. So it is our responsibility - each and every one of us individually and together - to do what we can stop this madness NOW. This could escalate and place us all in direct danger - here, in our shopping malls, in our own homes, not sanitized on a TV screen. That could be our children being dragged from bombed buildings. We all have to start taking real action to stop the madness, beyond just watching it on a TV screen and clicking our tongues. This is our country's leadership doing this -- in our names. We cannot accept this. We must stop it.

Update:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:42 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Take Action

100Actions.com, a Project of the Democratic Party

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:04 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 30, 2006

New Programs?

How did I miss this? From February, Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs',

Plus, there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with “an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs,” KBR said. [Market Watch, Jan. 26, 2006]

Later, the New York Times reported that “KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space.” [Feb. 4, 2006]

... Less attention centered on the phrase “rapid development of new programs” and what kind of programs would require a major expansion of detention centers, each capable of holding 5,000 people. Jamie Zuieback, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to elaborate on what these “new programs” might be.

[. . .]Given Bush’s now open assertions that he is using his “plenary” – or unlimited – powers as Commander in Chief for the duration of the indefinite War on Terror, Americans can no longer trust that their constitutional rights protect them from government actions.

Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:08 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 29, 2006

Today's Housing Bubble Post

Calculated Risk: New Home Sales and Recessions. Look at the chart, showing the correlation between drops in new home sales and recessions, and see where we are now.

or consumer led recessions (all but the most recent recession in 2001), New Home Sales were falling prior to the onset of the recession. It appears that New Home Sales peaked last year.

This doesn't imply a cause and effect relationship, but it is something to watch. If New Home Sales can stay above 1.1 million or so that probably increases the probabilities of a soft landing (just slower growth), as opposed to a hard landing (a recession).

Then go look at this post and its charts to see the likelihood of people being able to sustain a good rate of new home sales.

I report, you decide.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 28, 2006

We Are Seeing Different News About Lebanon

Americans need to understand that the rest of the world is seeing very different images on their news broadcasts from what we are seeing here. VERY different.

YouTube has lots of short videos from Lebanon.

Also, go watch Mosaic - excerpts from Middle Eastern news shows.

Just go watch a bit, and then try to reconcile what you see with what we are getting here from the news. The consequences to all of us are enormous.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:54 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush Wants "Protections" From Torture Laws

The Bush administration is asking Congress to pass "protections" from prosecution of people who kill or torture prisoners. The specific law they want changed was passed by a Republican-controlled House, and unanimously by a Republican-controlled Senate in 1996.

WP: Detainee abuse charges feared,

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.

... Gonzales told the lawmakers that a shield is needed for actions taken by U.S. personnel under a 2002 presidential order, which the Supreme Court declared illegal, and under Justice Department legal opinions that have been withdrawn under fire, the source said.

... Jones and other advocates intended the law for use against future abusers of captured U.S. troops in countries such as Bosnia, El Salvador and Somalia, but the Pentagon supported making its provisions applicable to U.S. personnel because doing so set a high standard for others to follow.

The Bush administration was predicted in one of the great tunes of all time (there is a sound clip sample at the end of the referenced page):

It's time to taste what you most fear
Right Guard will not help you here
Brace yourself, my dear

It's a holiday in Cambodia
It's tough kid, but it's life
It's a holiday in Cambodia
Don't forget to pack a wife

Your a star-belly sneech you suck like a leech
You want everyone to act like you
Kiss ass while you bitch so you can get rich
But your boss gets richer on you
Well you'll work harder with a gun in your back
For a bowl of rice a day
Slave for soldiers til you starve
Then your head skewered on a stake
Now you can go where people are one
Now you can go where they get things done
What you need my son:

Is a holiday in Cambodia
Where people dress in black
A holiday in Cambodia
Where you'll kiss ass or crack

Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot

...

The law don't mean shit if you've got the right friends
That's how the country's run
Twinkies are the best friend I've ever had
I fought the law
And I won

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:41 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 27, 2006

Republican Says We Need A Dem Congress

The following is a letter from former Republican Congressman and Presidential candidate Pete McCloskey.

THE NEED FOR A DEMOCRAT MAJORITY IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IN 2007

I have found it difficult in the past several weeks to reach a conclusion as to what a citizen should do with respect to this fall’s forthcoming congressional elections. I am a Republican, intend to remain a Republican, and am descended from three generations of California Republicans, active in Merced and San Bernardino Counties as well as in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have just engaged in an unsuccessful effort to defeat the Republican Chairman of the House Resources Committee, Richard Pombo, in the 11th Congressional District Republican primary, obtaining just over 32% of the Republican vote against Pombo's 62%.

The observation of Mr. Pombo’s political consultant, Wayne Johnson, that I have been mired in the obsolete values of the 1970s, honesty, good ethics and balanced budgets, all rejected by today’s modern Republicans, is only too accurate.

It has been difficult, nevertheless, to conclude as I have, that the Republican House leadership has been so unalterably corrupted by power and money that reasonable Republicans should support Democrats against DeLay-type Republican incumbents in 2006. Let me try to explain why.

I have decided to endorse Jerry McNerney and every other honorable Democrat now challenging those Republican incumbents who have acted to protect former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who have flatly reneged on their Contract With America promise in 1994 to restore high standards of ethical behavior in the House and who have combined to prevent investigation of the Cunningham and Abramoff/Pombo/DeLay scandals. These Republican incumbents have brought shame on the House, and have created a wide-spread view in the public at large that Republicans are more interested in obtaining campaign contributions from corporate lobbyists than they are in legislating in the public interest.

At the outset, let me say that in four months of campaigning I have learned that Jerry McNerney is an honorable man and that Richard Pombo is not. Mr. Pombo has used his position and power to shamelessly enrich his wife and family from campaign funds, has interfered with the federal investigation of men like Michael Hurwitz, he of the Savings & Loan frauds and ruthless clear-cutting of old growth California redwoods. Mr. Pombo has taken more money from Indian gaming lobbyist Jack Abramoff, his associates and Indian tribes interested in gaming than any other Member of Congress, in excess of $500,000. With his stated intent to gut the Endangered Species and Environmental Protection Acts, to privatize for development millions of acres of public land, including a number of National Parks, to give veto power to the Congress over constitutional decisions of the Supreme Court, his substantial contributions to DeLay’s legal defense fund, and most particularly his refusal to investigate the Abramoff involvement in Indian gaming and the exploitation of women labor in the Marianas, both matters within the jurisdiction of his committee, Mr. Pombo in my view represents all that is wrong with the national government in Washington today.

It is clear that the forthcoming campaign will be a vicious one, with Mr. Pombo willing to stretch the truth as he has in the past with respect to the elderberry beetle, levee breaks, his steadfast opposition to veterans’ health care, including prosthetics research for amputees from Iraq and other wars, the impact on Marine lives of endangered species protection at Camp Pendleton and other issues. That Mr. Pombo lied in testimony to the Senate in 1994 is an accepted fact. He testified that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service had designated his farm near Tracy as habitat for the endangered California kit fox. This was untrue, and Pombo admitted to the untruthfulness a few months later when questioned over public television, an agency for which he recently voted to cut federal funds.
Such a man should not be allowed to be in charge of the nation’s public lands and waterways, a position to which he was elevated by the now-departed Tom DeLay.

Some 18 months ago, my former law partner, Lewis Butler, an Assistant Secretary of HEW in the Nixon Administration and subsequently the distinguished Chair of California Tomorrow and the Plowshares Foundation, and I initiated an effort we called The Revolt of the Elders. All of us were retired and in the latter years of Social Security entitlement. Most of us were Republicans who had served in the Congress or in former Republican administrations with men like Gerry Ford, John Rhodes, Bob Michel, Elliot Richardson, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and the president’s father, George H. W. Bush, all men of impeccable integrity and ethics.

We had become appalled at the House Republican leadership’s decision in early 2005 to effectively emasculate the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct by changing the rules to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay. DeLay had been admonished three times by the Committee for abuse of power and unethical conduct. It was our hope to persuade Speaker Hastert and the Republican leadership, of which Northern California Congressman Richard Pombo and John Doolittle were prominent members, to rescind the rules changes and to act in accord with the promise of high ethical standards contained in Speaker Gingrich’s Contract With America which brought the Republicans majority control in 1994. We failed. Letters to the Speaker from an increasing number of former Republican Members were ignored and remained unanswered. Then, only a few weeks ago, the House leadership refused to allow even a vote on what could have become an effective independent ethics monitor. Instead of repudiating the infamous “Pay to Play” program put in place by DeLay to extract maximum corporate campaign contributions to “Retain Our Majority Party” (ROMP), DeLay’s successor as Majority Leader called for a continuance of the free luxury airline trips, mammoth campaign contributions to the so-called “Leadership PACs” and the continuing stalemate on the Ethics Committee. Strangely, even after the guilty pleas of Abramoff, Duke Cunningham and a number of former House staffers who had been sent to work for Abramoff and other lobbyists. The Republican House leaders don’t see this as corruption worthy of investigation or change. That their former staff members and Abramoff were granted preference in access to the legislative process is not seen as a problem if it helps Republicans retain control of the House. It reminds one of the contentions of Haldeman and Ehrlichman long ago that the national security justified wire-tapping and burglary of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office and the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate. Republicans are happy with this new corporate lobby/House complex, which is far more dangerous that the Industry/Defense complex we were long ago warned about by President Eisenhower.

I have therefore reluctantly concluded that party loyalty should be set aside, and that it is in the best interests of the nation, and indeed the future of the Republican Party itself, to return control of the House to temporary Democrat control, if only to return the House for a time to the kind of ethics standards practiced by Republicans in former years. I say reluctantly, having no great illusion that Democrats or any other kind of politician will long resist the allure of campaign funds and benefits offered by the richest and most profitable of the Halliburtons, oil companies, tobacco companies, developers and Indian gaming tribes whose contributions so heavily dominate the contributions to Congressmen Pombo and Doolittle.

As an aside, it seems to me that the Abramoff and Cunningham scandals make it timely for the Congress to consider public matching funds for small contributions to congressional candidates, the same type of system we adopted some time ago for presidential elections. It may be cheaper for the taxpayer to fund congressional elections than to bear the cost of lobbyist-controlled legislation like the recent Medicaid/Medicare drug bill.

There is another strong reason, I believe, for Republicans to work this fall for Democrat challengers against the DeLay-type Republicans like Pombo and Doolittle. That is the clear abdication by the House over the past five years of the Congress’ constitutional power and duty to exercise oversight over abuses of power, cronyism, incompetence and excessive secrecy on the part of the Executive Branch. When does anyone remember House Committee hearings to examine into the patent failures of the Bush Administration to adhere to laws like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, or to the arrogant refusal of the President to accept the congressionally-enacted limits on torture of prisoners? When can anyone remember the House’s use of the subpoena power to compel answers from Administration officials? Why have there been no oversight hearings into the Cunningham bribery affair or Abramoff’s Indian gaming and exploitation of women labor in the Marianas?

When three former congressional staff aides join Abramoff in pleading guilty to attempting to bribe Congressmen, and a fourth takes the 5th Amendment rather than answer Senator McCain’s questions about his relationship with Abramoff and Indian gaming, with all five having given substantial campaign contributions to Mr. Pombo, with Indian tribes alone having given more than $500,000 to Pombo, would it not seem reasonable to ask him to conduct an appropriate oversight committee
Hearing into these matters, as long demanded by members of both parties, notably including his neighbor, George Miller?

For all of these reasons, I believe and hope that the Republicans who voted for me on June 6 will vote for Mr. McNerney and against Mr. Pombo in November.

The checks and balances of our Constitution are an essential part of our system of government, as is the public faith that can be obtained only by good ethical conduct on the part of our elected leaders.

If the Republicans in the House won’t honor these principles, then the Democrats should be challenged to do so. And if they decline to exercise that privilege, we can turn them out too. I appreciate that I had serious deficiencies as a candidate, and that four months of campaigning and the expenditure of $500,000 of the funds contributed by old friends and supporters were unsuccessful in convincing Republicans of the 11th District to end the continuing corruption in Washington. I hope, however, to partially redeem my electoral failure by working, as a simple private citizen, to rekindle a Republican sense of civic duty to participate in the electoral process this fall. The goal of The Revolt of the Elders was and is to educate voters to the need for a return of ethics and honesty in Washington. That goal was right 18 months ago, and seems even more worthwhile today.

Pete McCloskey, Dublin, California. July 26, 2006

[emphasis and link added]

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

Save the Baby Or the Freezer?

I don't know if you have heard this pro-choice and pro-stem-cell-research riddle: Suppose there is a fire at a fertility clinic. In one room is a freezer with 100 embryos. In another room is a baby. Now, suppose you have only enough time to enter ONE room. Do you save the baby, or the freezer?

The Republican case is that you must save the freezer, not the baby, because there are 100 "babies" in the freezer and only one in the other room. Burn, baby, burn.

With Republican government in mind, I want to put this a different way. If someone goes in and saves the baby instead of the freezer, do you prosecute? Republicans would prosecute you for saving the baby.

Here's what I want you to do. There is an election coming. In your local Congressional districts, please show up at a "meet the candidate" event and ASK the Republican candidate if they would save the baby or the freezer. Demand a clear answer. Write letters to you local newspaper's "letters to the editor" asking the Republican candidate to put their answer on the record - baby or freezer?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:27 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

THE BUCK STOPS THERE - The Story Of Who Really Wins When The Right Wing Raises Money

Originaly published at The Patriot Project. Please support the Patriot Project.

Imagine that you're a Republican. You've just received another urgent letter from one or another organization associated with The Party, and you're scared. You're terrified, actually. And you are pissed off. You've been a proud, loyal American for almost 80 years and now you read that the Democrats have nominated an actual Communist agent to run for President!  And, on top of that, they’re planning to BAN THE BIBLE!  There is a special urgency about this letter -- if you don’t help RIGHT NOW it might even mean the end of this great country. So you do your duty as a loyal, vigilant citizen and ACT NOW and send $250.  It is so important, and the money goes to such a good cause – doesn't it? 

This post takes a look at the question: if you give money to an organization like Swiftboat Veterans for Truth (SBVFT), where does your money GO? 

So-called "independent" "527" organizations like SBVFT are required to report contributions and expenditures, so this information is available. One of the websites where you can find the reported details for SBVFT, (later called Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth) is at CampaignMoney.com. About ¾ of the way down page you find the following interesting expenditure:

LD Enterprise Partners LLC (also "L&D" in some records) of Pacific Palisades, California. LD received payments of $35,000 of 10/28/2004 and $13,202 on 11/17/2004 for "consulting/fundraising."  It turns out that "L&D Enterprise Partners," with the same address, was also paid $72,000 by Progress for America (PFA), (See CampaignMoney.com), which was an "independent" "527" front-group for the Bush/Cheney campaign.

So who is this LD (or L&D) Enterprise Partners, receiving $48,202 of the Swift Boat donors’ and $72,000 of the PFA donors’ money? LD Enterprise Partners does not appear to be registered as a California Corporation. (See here.) The address of LD Enterprise Partners is also the address of an accounting firm. The only other information located about L&D Enterprise Partners is as the owner of a horse named L&D’s Braddock in the "Hunter Results" listings of a number of horse shows. Examples are here, here and here

Searching further, L&D's Braddock usually appears with a rider with the last name of "LEGASSICK." Then, searching for this rider, it shows that this person appears at lots of horse shows, usually with L&D Enterprise partners listed as the horse owner.  Continued searching yields a person named LeGassick associated with a business named California Capital Campaigns. An organization named "Capital Campaigns" appears in the expenditure records or various Republican-affiliated organizations, and a search for that name eventually locates an obscure reference here, which reads:

    "UCLA has named Anne LeGassick Dunsmore, an accomplished fund-raiser and political consultant… As president of Los Angeles-based California Capital Campaigns, Dunsmore … a fund-raiser and political consultant for nearly two decades, has assisted numerous businesses, charities, campaign initiatives and candidates, including … Texas Governor George W. Bush. [. . .] She resides in Tarzana with her husband, Michael..."

Checking on where Capital Campaigns is receiving money from we find this, from Bush/Cheney-front-group 527 Progress for America records: 

Capital Campaigns, of Los Angeles received $70,000 on 06/17/2004, $7,000 on 06/25/2004, $114,000 on 08/06/2004, $90,000 on 08/11/2004, $309,193 on 09/13/2004, $225,000 on 10/07/2004, $9,433 on 10/22/2004, $462,263 on 11/12/2004, $25,000 on 12/21/2004, $90,000 on 04/29/2005 for Consulting and fundraising services.  While much of this is probably to cover the costs for putting on high-end fundraisers (renting ballrooms, catering, etc.) really, what can one say but "Yee-ha!"

Double checking that Anne Dunsmore's "California Capital Campaigns" and "Capital Campaigns" are the same locates this FEC reporting document for the GOOD GOVERNMENT FOR AMERICA COMMITTEE. The document refers to an Anne Dunsmore with the same address as that listed for Capital Campaigns being paid a $2,000 consulting expense on 03/05/2005. So it certainly appears that the companies are the same.

Summarizing, L&D Enterprise Partners receives money from the Swift Boaters and Bush/Cheney Campaign front-group Progress for America. L&D Enterprise Partners is the owner of a horse named L&D’s Braddock, and other information about the company cannot be located. The horse's rider is named Legassick. LeGassick brings us to Anne Dunsmore of "California Capital Campaigns,” related to someone with the same name as the horse’s rider.  And the Anne Dunsmore of California Capital Campaigns has the same address as the above-mentioned Capital Campaigns. And, finally, Anne Dunsmore is "a veteran Republican fundraiser who has been finance director for Bush-Cheney in California."

This all brings up an important question: why does L&D Enterprises, the horse owner, receive payments as well as Dunsmore’s Capital Campaigns? 

(Incidentally, from December 01, 2005, [Katherine] Harris Adds Anne Dunsmore as National Fundraiser, and March 16, 2006, Harris Loses Top Fundraiser.)

Another interesting tidbit turned up in the Swift Boat records, John ONeill of Houston, Texas received an expense amount of $50,000 on 08/31/2004. The purpose, "Reimburse Media Training." Is there a receipt for that, please? Fifty thousand dollars for media training? Yikes! 

In the July 17 Patriot Project exclusive report, The Swiftboaters Are Back in the Water, there is a question about a $100,000 payment:

    (And by the way, in that IRS information linked above, was that the same Admiral Roy Hoffman as this one?

      "Finance reports filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service show Swift Boat contributed $100,000 on February 8, 2006 to an outfit called the Admiral Roy F. Hoffman Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia. In 2005, the group donated $10,000 to Hoffmans foundation, $100,000 to the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation and spent $132,087 on meeting expenses at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.") 

(See the original IRS form on this here)

There is a second $100,000 payment mentioned there.  This IRS report shows that the SBVFT did give $100,000 to Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation, on 09/27/2005. This payment was immediately followed by this action, Vietnam Vets File Lawsuit Against John Kerry, posted Oct 12, 2005. Media Matters has more information. 

It looks as though the SBVFT may have funded this lawsuit against Kerry. Did the donors to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth understand that their money would be used by an entirely different organization to sue John Kerry a year after the election over what appears to be a contract dispute with Sinclair Broadcasting? 

If you donate money to conservative causes, how much of the money really ends up being used to support the urgent, patriotic, save-the-country activity you thought you were supporting, and how much is used for other purposes? For example, how much is used to provide salaries to conservative-movement operatives?  How much do these organizations support a different agenda than the one you were expecting? 

The Patriot Project exclusive pieces The Swiftboating of John Murtha, and The Swiftboaters Are Back in the Water discussed an in-place apparatus that spreads smears and poison about American Patriots. How much of the money donated to an organization like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, or Progress for America is really used to instead support an ongoing, in-place infrastructure of smear artists and conservative-movement operatives? For example, the Swift Boat Vets pass money to the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation, which uses the money to spread poison after the election.  The PR professionals, campaign consultants and consulting firms show up in other campaigns and organizations, spreading the same kind of smears and poison against patriot Americans. 

We need to learn about them – who are the smear operators? how do they use money? what are their tactics? – so we can recognize it, expose it, fight it, and protect the McCains and Kerrys and Murthas and Webbs and Wilsons and Sestaks and Clelands – American patriots smeared in spite of and in many cases because of their service to our country. We need to fight back! 

Watch for more information on other organizations that serve as front-groups for similar activities.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:28 AM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 26, 2006

Brothers and Sisters?

If you were there, you know he didn't say "Brothers and Sisters"

My formative years... Ann Arbor... Who else remembers what he said? Discuss.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Swift Boat Vets Money

I have a post up at Patriot Project today, THE BUCK STOPS THERE - The Story Of Who Really Wins When The Right Wing Raises Money about tracing some of the Swift Boat Vets money.

It's also at Huffington Post.

I'll post it here tomorrow.

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

July 25, 2006

Fascinating Middle East News Coverage

I'm not sure how many people are aware of the LinkTV network. (You might have seen their coverage of YearlyKos.) LinkTV is available if you have satellite, like DirecTV and Dish -- but you can also visit them online. Over at LinkTV there is a show called Mosaic, with some great Middle East news coverage offering perspectives you can not get from American corporate TV. You can watch the stream of last night's Mosaic, with translated clips from Lebanese, Israeli, UAE, Al Jazeera, Algeria, Iranian and Gaza news broadcasts covering the fighting going on. It is fascinating to get these viewpoints and coverage of events so important to all of us and to the entire world. You can always watch archives of Mosaic at this page.

Recently there have been two extended coverage specials, and another extended coverage special tomorrow. highlight clips from the specials are available here.

From LinkTV:

Mosaic Special Report: Insight into the Middle East. This live call-in special showcases Link TV’s team of journalists and Middle East experts answering your questions and e-mails about what’s really happening in the current crisis. Wednesday’s program will be aired at 7 to 7:30 p.m. (Pacific Time) and 10 to 10:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) on DIRECTV ch. 375 and DISH ch. 9410. The program will be followed by Link TV’s Peabody Award-winning original program Mosaic, which draws on reports from 28 Middle Eastern news broadcasts to provide context, analysis and a look at the stories you never see on American TV.

To watch the first evening of our extended Middle Eastern coverage, Mosaic Special Report: Insight into the Middle East from July 20, 2006, click here.

Daily episodes of Mosaic are available at no cost online.

Link TV is also offering a special emphasis on the Mideast throughout our daily schedule, including a rotation of reports and documentaries such as Me and the Mosque, Occupied Minds and International Dateline: An Eye For An Eye, which features a report from Dateline’s Thom Cookes from the city of Haifa and his on-the-spot assessment of why things have gone the way they have.

There's also a new Mosaic blog.

(Disclosure - I am doing some unpaid consulting with LinkTV.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:49 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Republicans Doing Fake Calls

Raising Kaine :: The Republican Dirty Tricks Have Begun -- robo-calls to trick voters. They say they're from Nancy Pelosi, but the Webb campaign isn't doing any such calls.

I just heard back from the Webb campaign that they have no robo-calls in the feild, therefore these calls are counterfeit. If you receive one, please record it and contact the Jim Webb for Senate campaign so they can take appropriate action.

Unfortunately the Republican friends of Jerry Kilgore did this sort of thing repeatedly in the '05 Governor's race and just paid the fines when they got caught as a cost of doing business. Please be on alert for these dirty tricks and warn your family and friends.

And check out the Republican Dirty Tricks blog.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:47 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 24, 2006

Duh!

Mideast violence may raise odds of US attack: experts ,
The Bush administration's tacit support for Israeli military strikes on Lebanon may have increased the danger of militant retaliation against the United States and U.S. interests abroad, some experts say. ... The Bush administration's stance that calling an immediate ceasefire would not be productive has also angered many Arabs at a time when bombings in Lebanon are causing large numbers of Muslim civilian casualties, they added.
Duh!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:15 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Site Back Up

The site is back up - it seems that "seeingtheforest.com" expired without anyone notifying me. But I just upgraded to a new version of Movable Type and am having some problems.

Meanwhile go see STF at Fox. Also, something interesting is coming for Patriot Project Wednesday.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:45 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 23, 2006

Supply Chains

We invaded Iraq to overthrow the Sunni government and put Shiites in charge there. Now Bush is at war with Shiite Hezbollah, encouraging and assisting Israel in the destruction of Lebanon, and threatening Shiite Iran.

We have over 120,000 troops in Iraq, dependant upon a logistical supply chain through Shiite southern Iraq to Kuwait. One word from Iran - just one - and those troops are cut off. I wonder if the families of our troops understand how serious this whole situation is?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:06 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Blogosphere National Anthem

Digby writes about The Dixie Chicks song I'm Not Ready To Make Nice.

It's a song they wrote about right-wing intimidation. I nominate it as The Blogosphere National Anthem.

Digby writes,

I think this song expresses how many of us feel after 20 years of a non-stop assault from the right --- and the eager capitulation of those who find us a convenient strawman from whom they can distance themselves.

[. . .] Did they think we were going to take their shit forever?

Don't lose your nerve Democrats. I know you hate to be "unseemly" and loathe the idea that anyone will think you are "unreasonable." I understand that having Rush say you are in thrall to the lunatic left fringe brings on a 60's flashback that leaves you dripping in a cold sweat. But get a grip on your subconscious fear of being a feeling and breathing human being and recognize that this is a good and necessary thing for your country. (You might even come to "kinda like it" like those Dixie Chicks have.) You don't have to be neutered farm animals anymore. If you're ready to take it to them we're here to get your backs.


Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything,
But I'm still waiting

I'm through, with doubt,
There's nothing left for me to figure out,
I've paid a price, and I'll keep paying

I'm not ready to make nice,
I'm not ready to back down,
I'm still mad as hell
And I don't have time
To go round and round and round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is
You think I should

I know you said
Why can't you just get over it,
It turned my whole world around
and I kind of like it

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby,
With no regrets and I don't mind saying,
It's a sad sad story
That a mother will teach her daughter
that she ought to hate a perfect stranger.
And how in the world
Can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they'd write me a letter
Saying that I better
Shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything,
But I'm still waiting

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:10 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Why Destroy Lebanon?

With Iraq, the question is why did we do it? Ask ten people why we invaded Iraq and you will get ten answers, which means there is no real reason which people understand. From Republicans you get a different answer every week...

Now the same question comes up about Lebanon. Why is Israel destroying Lebanon? Destroying the civilian infrastructure, bombing fuel depots and power plants and water pumping stations even in the northern part of the country... and Bush responds by rushing them more bombs. Of course this has nothing to do with the soldiers that were taken or the rockets shot into Israel. But even if it were just because of that, it is collective punishment, which is a war crime. One-third of civilian casualties so far have been children.

I think that maybe what is happening is a "show of force." What I mean is maybe the Republicans and Israel think they are showing the world that even though the US is tied up in Iraq, we can still destroy a country any time we want to, and have no compunctions at all about law or humanity. But the "little people" like you and I aren't going to be let in on the reasons things happen. THAT sort of thing is for old-fashioned democracies and republics. So we just have to speculate.

Discuss.

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

Over the Cliff

Read this and look at the pretty charts.

We're over the cliff.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:37 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Going Around Congress On Taxes

Congress won't completely kill the "Estate Tax" -- taxes on income from money that is inherited. So what do the Republicans do? They get rid of the tax auditors, giving a green light to just skip paying the tax.

I.R.S. to Cut Tax Auditors,

The federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those who are subject to gift and estate taxes when they transfer parts of their fortunes to their children and others.

The administration plans to cut the jobs of 157 of the agency’s 345 estate tax lawyers, plus 17 support personnel, in less than 70 days. Kevin Brown, an I.R.S. deputy commissioner, confirmed the cuts after The New York Times was given internal documents by people inside the I.R.S. who oppose them.

Are these auditors necessary?
Over the last five years, officials at both the I.R.S. and the Treasury have told Congress that cheating among the highest-income Americans is a major and growing problem.

The six I.R.S. tax lawyers, some of whom were willing to be named, all said that clear evidence of fraud was pursued vigorously by the agency, but that when audits showed the use of complicated schemes to understate the value of assets, the I.R.S. had become increasingly reluctant to pursue cases.

Taxes - and laws - are for the "little people".

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:27 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 22, 2006

A Post Everyone Should Read

Daily Kos: What Did You Expect, America?,

Would you hire a babysitter who hates children and thinks they should be eliminated? Or who declares for years in your hearing that children are irritants who should be starved to be small, unseen and mute?

Would you hire cops who think laws are stupid and useless and should be abolished?

Would you hire a conductor for your orchestra who believes music itself an abomination?

Then why would you hire - and you did hire them, America; they are your employees, after all, not your rulers, despite their grandiose pretensions - members of a political party who think government is useless, ineffective, bloated and untrustworthy?

[. . .] In electing Republicans, America, you put people in charge of institutions they overtly, caustically loathe and proudly proclaim should not exist.

[. . .] Kee-rist on a pogo stick.

If you put people in charge of running a project they are ideologically committed to proving a failure, it will fail.

Oh, go read the whole thing.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:37 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post

‘It Was Naive To Say, This Will Go On Forever’,

“Such a sharp decline in home sales has sellers in the area frustrated, and the number of additional homes coming on the market is only making matters worse. In June, another 19,300 homes received for sale signs in their front yards. With less than 9,000 homes selling last month, you can see what sellers are up against.”

... “‘I’m not buying your overpriced place on some silly discount. I’m buying at 2002 or earlier prices. If not from you, then from your bank when you forclose.’ Maryann Haggerty: ‘Who is sounding a little, well, smug and condescending now’?'

[. . .] ‘Things were tooling along beautifully for like the last 10, 15 years. Then all of a sudden, business dried up.”

“This is the kind of lull that often follows a boom, Waukesha developer Bryce Styza said. ‘We had a terrific 3, 4 years,’ Styza said. ‘It was naïve to say, ‘This will go on forever.’” [emphasis added]

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:46 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 21, 2006

Election Prediction

Here is my election prediction.

In November we are all going to be in shock that the Republicans would do that, go that far, do such things, let it get to that point. We simply aren't going to believe that that could have happened in this country, this world, this day and age. All of us.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:15 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Christian Right

Mary at Pacific Views: What Does the Christian Right Want?

Mary lays out the case, and you should read it.

Although many people know the Religious Right is very influential in the Bush administration, not so many know what their goals are in the long run. Their goals are nothing less than the destruction of our democratic society and the imposition of a society that would harshly punish unruliness, dissent and any disobedience to the rule of the theocrats – those who they believe God put in charge.
It's for real. Don't ignore them. They mean it.

Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:09 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Radio Tonite

I'll be on the Jay Severin radio show at 8:15 EST, with Dom Giordano moderating instead of Jay.

Update - I think it went very well. the discussion was my post Survivor Lebanon - Like Katrina, Americans On Their Own Again

I said that conservative government left Americans stranded in Beirut just like how they left them stranded after Katrina. I repeatedly made the broader point that this is because conservatives believe in a dog-eat-dog, you're-on-you-own, everyone-out-for-themselves philosophy, while liberals believe in a stick-up-for-each-other, we're-all-in-this-together, take-care-of-each-other philosophy.

And other stuff, too. Did anyone hear it?

Discuss.

Update - received an e-mail:

Stumbled across your talk with that Severin wannabe tonight, and thought you did a FINE job of holding his feet to the fire. Also fine formulation of liberal in-it-togetherness versus on your own dod eat dog conservatis. Keep it up!
Also, picked up a troll, who you can hear from in the comments.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:58 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Middle East Violence: Policy for Progressives

cross posted as a dailykos diary

Where should Progressives stand on the question of "has Isreal gone too far?"

Republicans refused to sign on to Nancy Pelosi's language in a sense of the Congress that urged taking steps to stop civilian deaths in Lebanon. President Bush defies the UN and waits t give Israel time to force Hezbollah to "stop this shit". But, Israel has been attacked and the attack is serious - a real war is going on and real Israelis are being killed. What should Progressives do?

First, understand what is going on. There are multiple agendas and many interests and game plans being played out. At the immediate level, Hezbollah is fighting to be top dog in the dog-eat-dog environment of the Middle east - it is becoming the new hero of the Shia community. It is also cementing its position as the real power in Lebanon. At another level, Syria is recouping the influence and face it lost when it was driven out of Lebanon - this is revenge and politics as usual. At the most important level, this is Iran filling the power vacuum left by the invasion of Iraq and the fall of Saddam. This war is blowback from Bush’s war. The Israelis saw it coming; they began planning for this a year ago.

Second, understand the stakes. At a strategic level, especially for Israel, this is a new war. The Intifadas were essentially violence being used to set the stage for eventual agreement on a land for peace deal. The fact that the protagonists – Arafat and Sharon – had hated each other for 25 years complicated it, but in the end, there were reasonable Arabs who could talk to reasonable Israelis over the shape of the two-state solution. This war is not about land for peace, it is about destroying Israel. Whether or not Hezbollah is “defanged” as the President hopes is irrelevant; it is now top dog in a very dog-eat-dog world and it will quickly be “refanged” by Iran. It cannot keep up with the volunteers pouring into its various locations, offering themselves as cannon fodder and suicide bombers just to be part of the new Islamic winners. For Israel, Hezbollah and Iran, this is for keeps.

So, where should Progressives stand? I think we should stand for Progressive Realism, described my diary two days ago. By doing so, we will further demonstrate to the American people that we do have answers and in this case, our answers can help restore order in the short term and prevent a disaster – possibly nuclear – in the long term.

First. killing innocent people is never justified. We make the case that there is no evidence that the continued bombing by Israel is degrading Hezbollah, nor is there any scenario that shows why a degraded Hezbollah would not simply go underground until it was rebuilt and resuppplied to reattack. However, there is plenty of evidence that even moderate Lebanese are turning against Israel, and plenty of scenarios in which Israel’s bombing is only creating more Hezbollah recruits, and risks turning the entire population of a border nation against it. The President is wrong; the UN, Europe, and the President of Lebanon are right. Make Israel stop. This is progressive

Second, self defense always is justified. Hezbollah is a threat to American interests that must be eliminated. The Lebanese government and army have no control over Hezbollah. As long as Iran supplies it with money and weapons and the Lebanese government is too weak to provide services, security, and economic growth, Hezbollah will continue to foment war. It will not change, so the US should give its precision weapons to Israel to use to destroy Hezbollah’s TV and radio stations (if it needs better weapons, which it may not.) and continue to destroy them. Next, the US should work to bring Russia around to letting Iran know that if it continues to supply weapons to Hezbollah, there will be diplomatic, economic and possibly even military prices to be paid. This is realism

Third, the short term saber-rattling must be paired with long term strategic progressive thinking. Hezbollah cannot be stopped with violence; it can only stopped if its ideas falter. The US has to work with the Lebanese government to rebuild and retrain its army, and pump money and jobs into the economy so that every young man solicited by Hezbollah will prefer to keep his paycheck than fight a losing war.

This will take money (not paid to US contractors!) but by working to return Lebanon to its status as a middle class democracy, we discredit Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. And we should pressure Israel into joining us, at least as a contributor. By recognizing that building a strong middle class society in Lebanon is the best defense against Hezbollah, we can rebuild our image in the region, rebuild our values, and prevent this from happening again, and again and again – at some time with nukes.


Posted by Patrick O'Heffernan at 7:51 AM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 20, 2006

Economic Talking Points for Democrats

Go read (and recommend) Bondad's Economic Talking Points For Democratic Leaders,

So there you go - three great things to say over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and again. And when you think you have said it enough, say it one more time just to make sure. In case you forget them - here they are:

THE WORST RATE OF JOB CREATION IN 40 YEARS

BUSH'S NEW JOBS PAY $9000 LESS PER YEAR.

WORKING PEOPLE HAVEN'T HAD A RAISE IN 5 YEARS.

I expect to hear these soon. And I expect to keep hearing them, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and again.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:19 AM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Survivor Lebanon - Like Katrina, Americans On Their Own Again

Bush greenlights Israeli bombing of Lebanon with 25,000 Americans in-country and no plan for evacuation. Just like what happened when Katrina struck New Orleans, once again Amercans are left on their own while Republican government pursues a hidden ideological agenda and protects the interests of a select few.

This contrast between right-wing and public interest was also clear in 2003, when Bush interrupted his vacation to fly overnight to Washington to sign "emergency" legislation keeping brain-dead Terri Schiavo alive against her and her husband's wishes. This from the same President who two years before had received the August, 2001 intelligence warning titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US" and left FOR vacation.

And this time it's the same, with the Middle East in crisis Bush acts -- not to protect living Americans, but by vetoing the only bill he has vetoed, refusing to allow stem cell research because the discarded, frozen embyos must stay frozen. But Bush refuses to act to try to ease this crisis or to protect the 25,000 Americans trapped in Lebanon. Instead, surrogates smear them, just like how they smeared the victims of Katrina, in an attempt to provide PR cover and distract Americans.

The great Bob Geiger said to me this is like a TV show, "Survivor Lebanon," so I'm stealing the line. Because so-called "conservatives" believe in a philosophy of "you're on your own" and "everyone out for themselves," Americans are left trapped in a war zone while Bush vetoes stem cell legislation instead of working for peace.

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

Today's Voting Machines Story

Taking the paper trail to Washington | Salon News,

In recent months, however, grass-roots groups like MoveOn.org and Common Cause have made paper ballots a top-tier priority, raising the specter of hackers and corrupt officials stealing elections at will. Last week in a speech in California, Democratic Party leader Howard Dean joined the chorus by declaring, "I am tired of electronic voting machines we can't trust."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:55 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 19, 2006

Frozen Embryos

Bush Insists Frozen Embryos Stay Frozen

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:37 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Progressive Realsim: squaring the circle and winning elections

cross-posted at dailykos
Robert Wright at the New America Foundation published a very important essay for Progressives.....

in this Sunday's New York Times Week in Review (requires subscription for online access). He posits a way to profit from the bankruptcy of the neocon foreign policy by fashioning one that combines the idealism of liberals with the realism that used to be owned by the Conservatives, but which they have squandered in Iraq and many, many other places. He calls it Progressive realism and it deserves some thought both for 06 and 08....and for the long term growth of progressive politics in America.

In a nushell, Progressive Realism "reconciles the humanitarian aims of idealists with the powerful logic of realists." It begins with the seminal assumption of conservative realists: that the purpose of American foreign policy, and the domestic politics it impacts and which impact it, is to serve American interests.

"Serving American interests", he notes, used to mean supporting governments, no matter how cruel and despotic, if they did not endanger us and/or cooperated with us in our foeign and military policy. We did not care what they did internally to their own people as long as they "were on our side". This doctrine led us to support the likes of Osama Ben Laden and Sadim Hussein, among others. But, Wright points out, that in a world in which poverty can be a recruiting tool for jihadists, we can be threatned with overseas-made bioweapons; we can also be threatened with bird flu from Vietnam, or pollution from Chinese coal, or counterfit dollars from Burma or global warming from everywhere. So this policy no longer works. We need to be humanistic idealists.

We must, for our own security, involve ourselves in the living standards and internal matters of other nations. And we must allow them access to ours to demonstrate our leadership. Investing in poor countries, removing trade barriers, forgiving loans, providing technical assistance, training and money may enhance our security more than another Army division. Protecting, not trampling human rights, could have a greater impact on the people in countries that hate us than military action, or even bribery in the form of aid.

Practicing what we preach will also help. Sometimes constraints on American power can serve our interests, although the neocons hate the idea. To encourage nuclear disarmament, the US should open its nuclear establishment to IAEA inspectors, just as we ask others to do. We should use economic development and free markets to build a middle class before we invade to force elections, because if we do, the people will demand their own elections and we will be heros, not occupiers (and won't have to invade).

Can we do this? Is this the policy framwork that Democrats can use to fashion a message Americans understand? I think so. Foreign policy is now driving domestic politics and the American people know it. That is why Iraq and the so-called war on terror tops the findings of virtually every poll asking what is important to you in this election. But, neither party has given the people a coherrent message: the Republicans have lied so much even their base is losing trust; the Democrats speak with many voices and offer many solutions, which confuses and frustrates their supporters and independents. No one running for office can afford being called soft on terror on soft on whaever glorious war Bush has gotten us into. Yet the people know Iran is very dangerous and North Korea has the bomb and we must be real about those threats.

Progressive Realism allows the Democrats to stop the confusion and get behind a simple message: hard-headed realism now belongs to us Democrats, and we have the strategy to protect America, now and in the future. We understand the dangers of the world and have a short and long term plan to make it less so. It plays to our values as generous abroad, but relies on our strength to defend us from the bad guys.

Sounds like walk softly and carry a big stick. Or, trust but verify. How about "loved abroad to be safe at home"?

Posted by Patrick O'Heffernan at 12:20 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Credentials To Analyze Iraq

tristero nails it.

6. If you are not Muslim, don't speak Arabic well, haven't read the basic texts of Islam or participated in services, haven't been to Iraq, and/or believed - for whatever reason - prior to the invasion that it was a smart, or at least reasonable, idea to invade Iraq - that is, if you can't answer "yes" to a decent number of my first five questions - then why should I bother to take seriously anything you might think to say?
Meanwhile, right now it is a good idea to check in every day with Juan Cole, Mosaic (if you have satellite TV), Middle East Report.

Suggest others in the comments.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:53 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Will al Queda Do Something Soon?

In Whiskey Bar: The Silent Party, Billmon explains why we might be hearing (in a very bad way) from al Queda soon.

Also, we have an election coming, and al Queda is on record working to keep Republican incompetence in power here...

So seriously, watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:27 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

This Is Blogosphere Day

Please go read MyDD :: Blogosphere Day 3: Ned Lamont For US Senate,

Our message is simple. No longer will candidates be considered unelectable for holding progressive views. No longer will the establishment take its supporters for granted. No longer will Democrats get away with boosting their own national image by facilitating the conservative movement and distancing themselves from their own party.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:07 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Government and Party Merge

Your tax dollars used to enforce right-wing ideology: Pregnancy Centers Found to Give False Information on Abortion,

Federally funded "pregnancy resource centers" are incorrectly telling women that abortion results in an increased risk of breast cancer, infertility and deep psychological trauma, a minority congressional report charged yesterday.

The report said that 20 of 23 federally funded centers contacted by staff investigators requesting information about an unintended pregnancy were told false or misleading information about the potential risks of an abortion.

Paid by the government to lie to citizens.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:38 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 18, 2006

Anti-Muslim Fervor Targets American Musims, Too

Go read the latest right-wing racist rant.

Many are anchor babies born here to Muslims in the U.S. illegally.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:48 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A Key Question About the Middle East Conflict - What Do We Know?

Meteor Blades asks what I think is one of the most important questions about the Middle East conflict: Daily Kos: How Do You Know What You Know? This is the question to ask yourself about everything you think you "know."

We live in what I call The Propaganda Age. We are bombarded from every direction with carefully crafted messaging from people who want to influence us. This goes wayyyy beyond just the marketing of products, significant and effective as that is. (Cigarette marketers convince people to kill themselves, but not before handing over their money. They even know how to make us blame the victims!) This is about the very foundation of what you "know." Because so much of what we "know" is just stuff designed to make us think things...

Think about the people in the Heaven's Gate "Comet Cult" who all killed themselves because they believed they would be transported to a spaceship hidden in the comet's tail. The "knew" that spaceship was there. That is the power of manipulated information, and that is why we must always question how and why we know the things we think we know.

Think about how loaded the word "terrorist" is. Extreme emotional loading is a good tipoff to psychological manipulation. Think about the emotional reaction attached to the idea of a terrorist. Think about the images that come into your mind - and the fear. You are justified in doing anything to a terrorist - setting aside the Geneva Conventions, torture, bombing an entire country into the ground - civilians and all - if there might have been a terrorist there. No one is thinking.

Most Americans think, at this point, that Arabs and Muslims are terrorists. I wonder if they are terrorists because "our oil is under their sand?" I mean, maybe it's about giving the public a justification for going over there and taking the oil, so we propagandize them as "terrorists."

Another example of something we "know": People "know" that President Ahmadinejad of Iran called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." But did he really? Juan Cole says this is an (intentionally?) incorrect translation,

But the actual quote, which comes from an old speech of Khomeini, does not imply military action, or killing anyone at all. The second reason is that it is just an inexact translation. The phrase is almost metaphysical. He quoted Khomeini that "the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time." It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks.

[. . .] The phrase he then used as I read it is "The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] from the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad)."

Ahmadinejad was not making a threat, he was quoting a saying of Khomeini and urging that pro-Palestinian activists in Iran not give up hope-- that the occupation of Jerusalem was no more a continued inevitability than had been the hegemony of the Shah's government.

This does not excuse Ahmadinejad, who hates Jews and denies the Holocaust, for example. But it does show how expertly-placed propaganda can affect people's understanding of the world.

And don't think my writing this is intended to excuse shooting rockets into civilian areas in Israel, or bombing power plants in Gaza or bridges in Lebanon. War is bad and wrong! War is the worst thing! THAT is something we ought to "know" for sure.

What Meteor says:

Our only choice is looking futureward to what a peaceful, secure, prosperous Palestine and Israel would look like in 50 years, and doing what little part we can to make that happen. We can't say that's their problem, not ours.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:04 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Karl Rove

An interesting write-up about an appearance by Karl Rove at a recent conference. See Conferenza: Aspen IdeasFestival: Rove counters Clinton, impassioned on immigration

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:22 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Swiftboaters Are Back in the Water

This post was written for and originally appeared at the Patriot Project, which is no longer on the web.


The Swiftboaters Are Back in the Water

"Swiftboating" is defined in the Wikipedia as:

"an ad hominem attack against a public figure, coordinated by an independent or pseudo-independent group, usually resulting in a benefit to an established political force. Specifically, this form of attack is controversial, easily repeatable, and difficult to verify or disprove because it is generally based on personal feelings or recollections." 

If you thought the tactic of "swiftboating" ended when John Kerry conceded the 2004 election, or perhaps when report after report and article after article after article refuted the "facts" or discredited those involved, you were wrong.

The professional Republican PR and campaign consultants who created, funded, and coordinated the attacks on John Kerry continue to spread their poison. And now, with the 2006 campaign season upon us they are ready to attack again, creating false stories and spreading doubt and mistrust about the more than fifty veterans running for Congress this fall. We can expect that candidates like Admiral Jim Webb, Admiral Joe Sestak, Lt. Colonel Charlie Brown and Captain Patrick Murphy will be targets for attack. So it’s a good idea to look back and understand what is happening here, how they have perfected the politics of political destruction since the strategy emerged, where some of them are now, and examine some ways to fight back.

Let's start with some background. In 2004, the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth claimed that Kerry was "unfit to serve" because, among other accusations, his wounds were "self-inflicted," and that he was guilty of "withholding and/or distortion of material facts" about his service in Vietnam. The accusations were later proven to be categorically false, and the funding and political team behind the group was shown to be closely associated with the Bush/Cheney campaign. Media Matters' compilation of evidence includes a link to this graphic from the August 25, 2004 New York Times article, Bush Campaign's Top Outside Lawyer Advised Veterans Group (and the chart and article only begin to touch on the connections). 


(Click for an enlarged version.)

But, even though false, the tactic worked. Public opinion shifted dramatically following the August 2004 attacks on Kerry. The Guardian story, Why America is still fighting the battles of Mekong Delta describes this shift beginning soon after the story began to hit the corporate media:

"A recent University of Pennsylvania poll showed that its attack ad questioning whether Kerry deserved his medals had been seen or heard of by half the voters questioned.

It also revealed that 44 per cent of independent voters found the advert at least somewhat believable. Meanwhile a CBS poll showed the number of veterans who supported Kerry had dropped from 46 per cent to 37 per cent." [emphasis added]

By the time of the "Swiftboat" attack on Kerry, the tactic of attacking and spreading doubts about the quality of a person’s service to the country had already been used successfully and refined. For example, in the 2000 South Carolina primary battle between George W. Bush and John McCain, Bush surrogates (several later involved in the Kerry swiftboating effort) skillfully turned McCain's service record against him (thereby deflecting questions about Bush's own service record.) They planted stories that the torture McCain suffered as a POW had brought about mental instability, including rumors that he had been programmed as a "Manchurian candidate" who "collaborated with the enemy." No longer could McCain use the fact that he had endured torture as evidence of dedication to serving his country. 

The tactic was then used on Max Cleland in his 2002 Georgia Senate race against Saxby Chambliss. Chambliss attacked Cleland’s patriotism, "for breaking his oath to protect and defend the Constitution." Surrogates more recently accused Cleland, who lost 3 limbs in Vietnam and received the Bronze and Silver Star, of being injured from "dropping a grenade" when drunk. 

Richard Clarke, President Bush's counter-terrorism advisor, was attacked after revealing that he had tried unsuccessfully to get the Bush administration to take al-Queda seriously as a threat before the 9/11 attack. Columnist Paul Krugman summarized "a campaign of character assassination" against Clarke, in which un-named administration officials were saying Clarke "wants to make a few bucks, and that [in] his own personal life, they're also suggesting that there are some weird aspects in his life as well." Other surrogates called him a "fraud." 

Even Bush's own Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was attacked with intent to humiliate and discredit him, with inside sources alleging "no one listened to him," accused of misusing classified documents, and forced to recant after he revealed that the Bush administration had been planning to invade Iraq even before the 9/11 attacks. 

And the tactic has continued since the 2004 swiftboating of Kerry. Ambassador Joe Wilson was famously attacked after revealing that the Bush administration had misled the public about Iraqi attempts to purchase "yellowcake" in Niger. His wife's undercover CIA status was "outed," ending her career, and he was accused of committing "treason," and being a "nutcase" and "liar."

In Ohio's 2005 special Congressional election, candidate Paul Hackett was smeared when the Jean Schmidt campaign questioned his service, asking if he "saw combat" and saying "I understand that Hackett did not participate in combat at all."

So why does swiftboating work? First, because it is simple, and lays down a clear good vs. evil, black-and-white narrative that is easily understood by regular people who lead busy lives and don't have the time and energy it takes to closely follow the news and track the real facts. And it is smart, professionally crafted, with tons of money available to do the necessary psychological, polling and focus group work that goes into developing messaging that resonates with the public, and getting that messaging into targeted channels with reach. 

Another reason it works is because it is (excuse the pun) offensive. They say that the best defense is a good offense, and considering their candidates, the Republicans certainly needed a defense. The Republicans have for some time been riding a public perception that they are somehow "better" on defense issues than Democrats. But this certainly isn't true, and they know it. (After all, it wasn’t Democrats who went on vacation, ignoring the intelligence briefing titled "bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the US.") This perception gap has placed them in terrible fear that the voting public might come to see that the reality is very different from the conventional wisdom.  There is also the fear that the pubic might realize that most of the Republican leadership actually had poor or nonexistent service records (see also "chickenhawks"), while many in the Democratic leadership served with honor.  

And in a race between John Kerry and George W. Bush we had a clear contrast when it came to the question of serving with honor. Kerry graduated college and, in the heat of the Vietnam War, signed up for the military. He volunteered for Swift Boat duty in Vietnam. After college Bush managed to move to the head of the line to get into what was called a "champagne unit" of the Texas Air National Guard, while checking the box on his "Application for Extended Active Duty with the United States Air Force" that read "Do not volunteer for overseas." It was clear that any fair debate on who had the courage and desire to serve his country during wartime and who didn’t was going to go one way and only one way. So yes, the Republicans needed an offensive, distracting defense, and they found one. 

So the Republicans decided to take the offense, and as us bloggers like to complain, the Democrats just seemed to take it. In the sixth century BC, Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, "Generally, he who occupies the field of battle first and awaits the enemy is at ease; he who comes later to the scene and rushes into the fight is weary." And in his widely-distributed Republican strategy book, The Art of Political War, David Horowitz advises candidates to "provide a shield from attack." He advises candidates to "lead with" a posture emulating an opponent's expected strength, writing, "...working away from the negative image your opponent wants to pin on you. If you know you are going to be attacked as morally imperious, it is a good idea to lead with a position that is inclusive and tolerant." So following Horowitz's advice (and they do), if you know that you're "weak on defense," you "inoculate" yourself by claiming that you are strong on defense, and attacking your opponent first as being weak on defense. (FYI - Republicans accusing others of what they are themselves doing is formally named "The STF Rule.") 

And finally, in the landmark book Marketing Warfare, authors Trout and Ries talk about the tactic of turning a competitor's strength into a weakness. The idea is to find a way to use that strength against your competitor, so repelling your attack requires them to work against their own strong point. For example, since Hertz is number one, Avis advertises that their lines are shorter. It is hard for Hertz to counter that – what would they say, that they aren't popular? Similarly, by turning a record of honorable service against a campaign opponent, the opponent reminds the voters of the smear with every mention of that service. 

Building on this, Bush adds an "audacity" approach. But don't take my word for it – see the Variety story, 'Swift-boat' pros in demand in D.C. Spinmeisters go negative:  

"If you can construct believable stories with enough truth in them to smear somebody royally, boy, is there a pot of gold waiting for you in D.C. Spin doctors are nothing new in politics, but a certain type -- equal parts scriptwriter, opposition researcher and ruthless street fighter -- is increasingly in demand, and for good reason. Just ask John Kerry, the former Democratic presidential candidate who became the target object of a new verb: “swift-boating.”

[. . .] "Modern communication isn't about truth, it's about a resonant narrative," says Eric Dezenhall, a former Reagan administration aide and now president of his own crisis management firm. "The myth of PR is that you will educate and inform people. No. The public wants to be told in a story who to like and who to hate."

Already suspected by blue-collar America as an elite and effete New Englander, Kerry -- one of the handful of Ivy Leaguers who volunteered to go to Vietnam -- was red meat for the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ad that cast him as a Yale snot who'd come back from Vietnam to trash his largely working-class troops.

If that sounds audacious, it's because, as Dezenhall says, "We're living in an age of audacity," another fact GOP spinmeisters understand and exploit superbly.

"George Bush communicates in terms of audacity," Dezenhall says. Bush's response to questions about the wiretapping was to say that he's just trying to catch terrorists. Bold motivation, easily understood.

"Democrats communicate in terms of complexity," Dezenhall says, referring to their windy explications of a need to pursue enemies within the rule of law as spelled out in various court ..." (snorrrrrrrrrrre).  [Emphasis added]

So with swiftboating you spread a smear to raise questions with the public about the opponent's patriotism or service. It doesn't have to be true (how quaint) it just has to raise questions. This "neutralizes" the honorable record of or otherwise "discredits" the advantages that opponent has against a Republican with a poor (like George W. Bush's) or no (like Saxby Chambliss or any number of other "chickenhawks") record. 

And, finally, the Republicans have the money and organizational connections to overwhelmingly implement their strategy. According to Open Secrets, in 2004 the Swift Boat Veterans spent $22.5 million, Progress for America $35.6 million and the Bush campaign $345.2 million. This is on top of the huge amount of long-term money spent outside the election cycle by the network of conservative think tanks and business groups promoting conservative ideology and issues, repeating to the public in a thousand different ways and through a thousand different channels that conservatives are good and liberals are bad. (Have you heard that?)

Partially shown in the chart above, the anti-Kerry Swiftboat operation involved the interlocking efforts of "closely associated" Republican Party adjuncts like the Progress For America 527 organization, utilizing Party-affiliated consultants like Chris LaCivita, Merrie Spaeth, Keith Appell, Benjamin Ginsberg, Susan Arcaneaux, and companies like Political Compliance Services, Creative Response Concepts (CRC), DCI Group, Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm (SRCP) and The Pinkston Group. Also involved are conservative movement-affiliated media outlets like Media Research Center’s Cybercast News Service (CNS) WorldNetDaily or NewsMax, with Drudge Report, The Washington Times and Fox News operating as echoes and amplifiers to entice the major corporate media to pick up and repeat the smears. 

The February, 2005 New York Times story, A New Target for Advisers to Swift Vets, provides an example of how this kind of interlocking smear operation continues, this time supporting the Social Security privatization efforts of the Bush-affiliated organization USA Next: 

"To help set USA Next's strategy, the group has hired Chris LaCivita, an enthusiastic former marine who advised Swift Vets and P.O.W.'s for Truth, formerly known as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, on its media campaign and helped write its potent commercials. He earned more than $30,000 for his work, campaign finance filings show. 

Officials said the group is also seeking to hire Rick Reed, a partner at Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, a firm that was hired by Swift Vets and was paid more than $276,000 to do media production, records show. 

For public relations, USA Next has turned to Creative Response Concepts, a Virginia firm that represented both Swift Vets - the company was paid more than $165,000 - and Regnery Publishing, the publisher of "Unfit for Command," a book about Senator John Kerry's military service whose co-author was John E. O'Neill, one of the primary leaders of Swift Vets."

You might remember this anti-AARP attack ad, which was one result of this effort. Simple, good vs bad, literally using black-and-white: 

Just recently the tactic was used against the "9/11 widows" who came under attack because they had demanded Congressional oversight of the Bush Administration. In return for asking that Congress do its job they were smeared as "enjoying their husbands' deaths." Note how the attack neutralizes their "strength" – the credibility and sympathy they receive from the public because they lost their husbands. This is ongoing, it followed similar attacks by Rush Limbaugh in 2004.

And now there are attempts to do the same with Congressman John Murtha. In a duplication of the Swift Boat attacks, even including similarly-named websites (since moved to bootmurtha.com), some of the very same people involved1 have regrouped to attack Murtha for coming out in opposition to President Bush's Iraq strategy (or lack thereof). Previously, Rep. Jean Schmidt, the same Republican member of Congress who used swiftboating tactics on candidate Paul Hackett, had called Murtha a "coward" on the floor of the House.   

There is some good "fighting back" news on the Murtha front – saved for later. 

And now there is an election coming, with lots of "Fighting Dems" running for office – and the swiftboaters are back in the water. Here are some examples of the most recent crop of swiftboatings from the same scoundrels. Expect more, watch for it so you’re not surprised, and learn how to FIGHT BACK! 

Christopher A. LaCivita is an example of a professional Republican operative working with the swiftboaters. LaCivita served as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth media strategy advisor.  Previously LaCivita served as the political director for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Executive Director for the Bush-campaign-associated Progress For America organization (founded by 2000 Bush campaign political director Tony Feather). He was an employee of DCI Group when he went to work for the Swiftboat Vets.   

There are conflicting stories about how the group connected with Party professionals like LaCivita. A Richmond Times-Dispatch article (referred to here)2 says:

"Retired Rear Adm. Roy Francis Hoffmann, chairman of the swift-boat group and a virtual neighbor of LaCivita in Chesterfield County ... said CRC (Creative Response Concepts), a public-relations firm in Arlington, put the group in touch with LaCivita. CRC is involved in a number of conservative causes." 

But a Knight Ridder story, Anti-Kerry Veterans' group now political machine with big budget3, reports that major Bush-connected Republican funders enabled the connections, 

"O'Neill said he researched how to form and run [a 527] and got help from Political Compliance Strategies, a suburban Washington organization. Political Compliance Strategies is led by Susan Arceneaux, who was the treasurer of a political action committee associated with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Texas Republican. [...] Texan Harlan Crow, a trustee of the George Bush Presidential Library Fund, which honors the current president's father, gave $25,000 [note, post-election records show the Crow donations as $100-125,000]. Bob J. Perry, a major GOP donor in Texas and a friend of Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, gave $100,000 on June 30, according to a financial report. [Note, according to John O’Neill Perry ultimately gave a total of $7 million.]

"I'm certain some of the people giving us money are doing it because they think this will help their side of the campaign," O'Neill said. "It's probably fair to say the people more likely to help us are Republicans." 
 
With money in hand, the group was able to bring on advisers led by Chris LaCivita, a political strategist and an expert in TV ads. LaCivita had worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2002. Last year, he became the executive director of PFA (Progress for America), a Republican-affiliated tax-exempt organization founded by Tony Feather, the political director of Bush's campaign in 2000."

Following the Swift-Boat episode, LaCivita went to work for USA Next, shown above attacking the AARP. 

LaCivita now advises George Allen's Virginia Senate campaign against Jim Webb. And it didn't take long for the swiftboating to begin. But that is also saved for later. 

(And by the way, in that IRS information linked above, was that the same Admiral Roy Hoffman as this one?

"Finance reports filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service show Swift Boat contributed $100,000 on February 8, 2006 to an outfit called the Admiral Roy F. Hoffman Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia.  In 2005, the group donated $10,000 to Hoffmans foundation, $100,000 to the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation and spent $132,087 on meeting expenses at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.") 

The Republican firm that employed LaCivita, Feather Larson Synhorst-DCI (FLS-DCI), comes out of the tobacco industry and does work for such clients as the NRA, (helping them after Columbine,) Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the National Pork Producers Council (no comment). For others, see Unsavory DCI Clients:

"… DCI seems willing to work with some of the most controversial clients in the world. In 2002, it received $340,000 for eight months of work for the Union of Myanmar (Burma) State Peace & Development Council. The Washington Post’s Al Kamen wrote, "DCI's filings with the Justice Department offer an unusual glimpse into the efforts by the Rangoon junta. DCI lobbyists, featuring Charles Francis, a longtime family friend of the Bushes, ran a sophisticated campaign to improve the regime's image—and steer the conversation away from its rampant human rights abuses and such."

FLS-DCI is currently running phony "Astroturf" campaigns against net neutrality, using fronts like Responsible Electronic Communications Alliance and Hands Off the Internet. 

And DCI isn’t just using the tactics in politics! They're also using it for corporate clients. (If it works, do it again and again…) From this story, HM GETS PR HELP WITH ATTACKS: 

"Houghton Mifflin, publisher of a best-selling children's book critical of the fast-food industry, has brought in Dan Klores Communications to help rebut what it sees as "Swift Boat-Style campaign" attacks on the tome. ... HM sees a "cloud of disinformation" working against the book and orchestrated by the PR firm DCI Group at the behest of the fast-food industry. It has brought in DKC to guide PR for its defense. SVP Ed Tagliaferri heads the work at DKC."

Incidentally, DCI's James Tobin was recently convicted as part of the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming operation. From Talking Points Memo:

"Tobin was the ranking Republican official involved in the New Hampshire phone-jamming operation. An employee of DCI Group at the time of sentencing, he had reported to Chris LaCivita, the NRSC's National Political Director, and to Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), the Senate Majority Leader."

Keith Appell is an employee of Swift Boat media consultants Creative Response Concepts, former Club for Growth spokesperson and former John Ashcroft campaign consultant. Also, according to the Washington Post:

"But Keith Appell, a well-known Republican media adviser in Washington, said same-sex marriage is issue number one now for social conservatives. He has close ties to people like Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Concerned Women for America president Sandy Rios -- the sort of people who can pick up the phone and get Karl Rove at the White House."

Appell was involved with CRC in the Dan Rather Forgeries story. According to the PR Week story, TWO DC FIRMS RAMP UP EFFORTS OVER LATEST PRESIDENTIAL CONTROVERSIES4

"After the CBS story aired, [CNS] called typographical experts, got them on the record that these papers were fishy, and posted a story by 3pm Thursday," said CRC SVP Keith Appell. "We were immediately in contact with Matt Drudge, who loved the story." CRC worked with CNS and the Media Research Center, another media watchdog client, to push the story into the mainstream press." 

So where is Appell now? In May, 2006, Appell joined the John Raese campaign against Senator Robert Byrd. And how long did it take for the swiftboating to begin? Not long: June, 2006, John Raese Approves Dishonest Attack Ad "accusing Senator Robert Byrd of voting against the troops."

Merrie Spaeth, another Republican-connected consultant, was the original Swift Boat media consultant.  How Republican-connected is she? Her husband was George W Bush's Texas running mate in 1994. She had been a Reagan administration press officer, provided debate preparations to George HW Bush, was a volunteer consultant to Ken Starr, advised Wyly brothers Republicans for Clean Air attack on McCain in 2000 – which, incidentally, was funded by some of the same supporters who funded the Swift Boaters.   

Following the Swift Boat episode she wrote the "WORDS MATTER" column distributed by the UPI wire service (owned and operated by the Unification Church, also known as the "Moonies" – who also own The Washington Times, Insight Magazine and World & I Magazine, but that's a topic for a whole other article), and is listed for speaking engagements at Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau, asking $5-10,000 per event. She was also added as a commenter on public broadcasting in June of 2005.

Ms. Spaeth showed up in several news stories posing as a "friend" of Bush Supreme Court nominee Harriet Meirs, naturally without being identified as a long-time Republican PR professional.   

Rick Reed of Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm (SRCP) was hired by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And what have they been up to, you ask? Working with LaCivita at USA Next, for one. From Maine Firm to Help "Dynamite" Opposition to Social Security Privatization:

"The Maine connection comes through Rick Reed, partner at the Maine firm Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm who USA Next is attempting to hire." 

And SRCP is continuing to otherwise stir up trouble. March 2005: American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Speak Out Against Misleading Driver’s License TV Ad:

"Recently, the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License, released a television advertisement [created by Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm] regarding the issue of illegal immigrants' access to photo IDs and drivers' licenses. The advertisement incorrectly conflates the issues of immigration and national security while also inflaming fears about Arabs, Muslims, and Arab-Americans. In effect, the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License utilizes anti-terrorism rhetoric to push their anti-immigration agenda."

For 2006 campaign SRCP has signed up with two Ohio Republicans, Craig Foltin and Frank Guglielmi, and sending a media consultant with the Ray Meier campaign in New York. Swiftboating is sure to follow.

The Donateli Group reappeared with the Judicial Confirmation Network (JCN). Additionally, a Kos diary informs us that "JCN has also hired Creative Response Concepts (CRC), the public-relations firm that "advised Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" with, Hughes for America informs us: Ohio's notorious Ken Blackwell acting as spokeman.

Most recently, Donateli is connected with Vets for Freedom, a Bush support group that condemns Rep. John Murtha.

These are examples of some of the better-known Republican swiftboaters, how they work, what they’ve done and what they’re doing now. Meanwhile, of course, "conservative-movement" outlets like Media Research Center's Cybercast News Service and other echo outfits like NewsMax, Washington Times and WorldNetDaily will be ready to spread the poison as it's produced. 

So how DO we fight back? They'll keep doing this as long as it works. But maybe Jim Webb is showing us one way to make it stop working. 

This is what was saved for later. These are examples of fighting back! With Chris LaCivita involved in Virginia’s George Allen Senate campaign, it didn't take long before the swiftboating began, with the campaign attacking Jim Webb’s patriotism. But the Webb campaign was ready. From Webb Rips into Allen over flag:

"George Felix Allen Jr. and his bush-league lapdog, Dick Wadhams, have not earned the right to challenge Jim Webb's position on free speech and flag burning," Webb spokesman Steve Jarding said in a press release. "Jim Webb served and fought for our flag and what it stands for, while George Felix Allen Jr. chose to cut and run. 
 
"When he and his disrespectful campaign puppets attack Jim Webb, they are attacking every man and woman who served. Their comments are nothing more than weak-kneed attacks by cowards." 
 
Webb was a Marine in Vietnam, serving as a rifle-platoon leader and company commander. He received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, Jarding noted. 

… "This is straight out of the Republican playbook ... taking a candidate's strength and trying to turn it into a weakness," Denny Todd said. "It's what Chris LaCivita did with Swift Boats against John Kerry." 
 
LaCivita helped orchestrate the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" attacks during the 2004 Bush campaign. He now works for Allen. 
 
"It's been said that Democrats aren't willing to fight back in campaigns," Denny Todd said. "Well, we're willing. We're not letting them get away with it." 

… "While Jim Webb and others of George Felix Allen Jr.'s generation were fighting for our freedoms and for our symbols of freedom in Vietnam, George Felix Allen Jr. was playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada," Jarding said. "People who live in glass dude ranches should not question the patriotism of real soldiers who fought and bled for this country on a real battlefield."

[. . .] Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington, agreed with Sabato. "It's said the best defense is a good offense and it's clear Webb isn't going to be bullied like John Kerry was two years ago," Farnsworth said." 

Now THAT is powerful. As discussed earlier, the swiftboating tactic is based on a strong offense, surprise, extreme audacity and a dependence on the media repeating the charges. With a very strong, fighting response, Jim Webb has found one answer. Webb was ready to fight back with a strategy in place. He fought back immediately with a strong counter-punch. He exposed the plot, describing the "playbook" strategy and naming the players. He exposed the weaknesses the Allen campaign was trying to distract people from. And he gave the media a simple, good vs. evil storyline about the swiftboating playbook and Democrats fighting back.

And, as Taylor Marsh wrote just a few days ago in The Swiftboating of John Murtha at Patriot Project, there is also an ongoing attempt to swiftboat Representative John Murtha for questioning the wisdom of President Bush's Iraq policies. But bloggers and others fought back, exposing the tactic and exposing that so many of the same people and organizations were involved. As discussed above, the Republicans desperately need distractions and misdirections to turn the public's and media’s eyes away from their own foreign policy and national security weaknesses. But this time we have been getting ready, and information about the swiftboaters is available. Because we have started fighting back and exposing the swiftboaters, the stealth and surprise of the tactic are blunted. As the bloggers and organizations like Patriot Project continue their work, exposing and fighting back, maybe – just maybe – we can beat this.

Dave Johnson
Dave Johnson is the lead blogger at Seeing the Forest and a Fellow at the Commonweal Institute, where he studies the conservative movement’s network of foundations and think tanks and the extent of their influence on American society.


[1] Richmond-Times Dispatch on LaCivita introduction to SBVFT available on Nexis, but is referred to here: http://www.augustafreepress.com/stories/storyReader$25489

[2] Knight Ridder, Sept 12, 2004, at http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1:121841720/Anti-Kerry+Veterans+group+now+political+machine+with+big+budget.html?refid=SEO

[3] DCI using swiftboating for a corporate client: HM GETS PR HELP WITH ATTACKS, Dyer’s PR Daily, June 2, 2006, members only: http://www.odwyepr.com/members/0602mifflin.htm.  Available on Nexis.

[4] PRWeek: can be seen at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1219349/posts

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:21 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 17, 2006

Swift Boat Vets Research Report

The Patriot Project just posted a research report I did, on the Swift Boat Vets. It is also up at The Huffington Post. I will post it here tomorrow.

Swiftboater John O'Neill is threatening to sue Patriot Project over something they said about this report. Please visit The Patriot Project for details and support The Patriot Project to hep defend against this suit.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:47 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 16, 2006

You're Gonna Get Drafted

In September, 2004 I wrote a post titled You're Gonna Get Drafted. People e-mailed this post around, linked to it or modified it and posted it themselves, and even printed it out and left stacks in college-town coffee shops. (It even made it into Newsweek.)

While the post was about voting in the election, it still applies, it still means people must become aware, must get involved, must take action to fight the right-wing takeover of this country - now more than ever, because if this war spreads there is no way we can avoid a draft. If this Middle East war is allowed to spread it will affect each and every one of us beyond just higher gas prices.

We all need to be getting the word out to the great masses of Americans who are not really paying attention to politics, about what the Bush policies mean to them and their lives -- war, debt, destruction of government protections, environmental degradation and loss of rights will come home to hurt each and every one of us. As Al Gore says in the global-warming movie An Inconvenient Truth, "we are entering a period of consequences."

Here is the post from September, 2004:

You're Gonna Get Drafted

The Draft – A Reason to Vote if You’re Under 30

You already blew it: You didn't vote last time, or voted for Nader or Bush, and now you're gonna get drafted. There's no way around it now, the draft is almost a certainty.

You're hearing about Reserve and National Guard units being called up, and about people not allowed to leave the military even though their term is up. Have you thought about what this means to you? You KNOW this means they're having trouble finding enough soldiers to go to Iraq, right? Of course Bush doesn’t want to start the draft BEFORE the election. Duh! But what do you think happens the day AFTER the election?

I repeat, they are having trouble finding enough soldiers to go to Iraq. Think about it. Right, you're gonna get drafted.

Or, maybe you think they can't do that? Maybe you think the draft doesn't happen in America. Maybe you think they can't just grab your ass up off the street, stick a rifle in your hands and send you off to war? Of course not, that NEVER happens. Right.

WAR. Yes, that word. The word you have been hearing from Bush’s lips for months now. "I'm a WAR president", he says. Well, what did you think war MEANS? Somebody ELSE’S war? Did you think it means you get to watch a TV show with planes and stuff?

No, WAR means young people getting grabbed up off the street and sent off to fight. That. Is. What. War. Is.

And, by the way, women and students are NOT going to be exempt this time. Maybe not even rich kids. ONLY the children of politicians will be exempt. THIS TIME.

So, are you finally ready to do something about it THIS TIME? Which candidate do you think is more likely to grab your ass off the street and send it to Iraq? Which candidate do you think is more likely to start a war with Iran, or Syria, or maybe even North Korea? Like Bush says, we're at war, and that's the issue in this election. Well, THAT’S what you should be thinking about THIS TIME.

So vote. THIS TIME.

==========

Except there's a problem with this message. Young people are so disengaged that there probably aren't very many of them reading weblogs like this one, so they won't see this. And that means they might not figure this stuff out in time for the election. You have to help them. Take this post and copy it and paste it into an e-mail and send it to someone who is under 30. Or write your own message explaining what the draft is, and why they should be concerned enough to actually vote. It is important to explain that the draft actually CAN happen to them. If you're old enough you can tell them from experience.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:37 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Helping Explain Middle East Crisis

I think this post by AJ at AmericaBlog helps explain a lot of what is happening.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:16 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 15, 2006

How Corporate Execs Felt About 9/11

Go read The Big Picture: Post-9/11 Option Grants Under Scrutiny.

How did America's CEO's respond to the 9/11 attacks? By granting corporate executives special low-priced stock options after the market crashed. They saw 9/11 as an opportunity to make a buck. And then Bush granted them special tax breaks for the profits from those options. (Creating debt which the rest of us will be paying off for the rest of our lives.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:37 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Republicans and Guns

Through TalkLeft, this: Ex-Bush Aide Fatally Shoots Son, Himself,

A former Bush administration official, after arguing violently with his wife Thursday night, shot and killed his 12-year-old son inside their McLean home, then turned a shotgun on himself and committed suicide, Fairfax County police said.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:27 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Tubes!

The other day I wrote about Sen. Stevens and Tangled Up Tubes!

Now see the movie!

And another:


Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:04 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Private School No Better - Some Worse

The best stuff comes out of the government late on Fridays. This is because they are trying to bury it. Release it too late to make it onto the evening news, and release on a Friday because fewer people pay attention to the Saturday news - and by Monday it is forgotten.

For example, Public Schools Perform Near Private Ones in Study,

The Education Department reported on Friday that children in public schools generally performed as well or better in reading and mathematics than comparable children in private schools.
And how about the Christian private schools that the Republicans try to push on us?The report ... also found that conservative Christian schools lagged significantly behind public schools on eighth-grade math.So here we are with a government pushing an agenda on us, and hiding the science that shows the agenda makes things worse.

And how does the reality affect Bush ideological government?

A spokesman for the Education Department, Chad Colby, offered no praise for public schools and said he did not expect the findings to influence policy.
Reality doesn't matter. They are going to push their ideology on all of us, no matter what.

From the story,

Its release, on a summer Friday, was made with without a news conference or comment from Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.
This is not a government of all the people.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:50 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

See the Forest

Here is what I don't understand. How did the government of Lebanon become the enemy? And what does any of it have to do with power plants in Gaza? Someone - not the ebonese government - crossed the border from southern Lebanon, so Israel attacks the Lebonese capital, bombs their airport, cuts off their bridges. Criminals from Gaza kidnap a soldier, so Israel bombs their power plants.

And, worse, everyone understaod that the original attacks on Israel were deliberate provocations, trying to goad them into doing exactly what they did. It seems to me that if you understand that your enemy is trying to goad you into doing something, doesn't it make sense NOT DO DO THAT?

What does any of it have to do with "defending themselves from terrorists?" Doesn't this sound a lot like when 19 Saudis from a base in Afghanistan attacked us on 9/11, so Bush invaded Iraq?

See the forest. When what you are hearing is obiously a cover-story for something else - then maybe it's a cover-story for something else.

Meanwhile, this is a shameful moment in American history: Bush Rejects Lebanon's Call for Cease-Fire

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:49 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 14, 2006

Wilson/Plame

eeiposte at The Left Coaster: Wilson lawsuit - everything you need to know.

Then go here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:33 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Free Markets and Capitalism

And e-mail I received:

I have never understood why free markets and capitalism are universally conflated. Are they the same thing? Or even part of the same thing?


Free markets as self-regulating systems for pricing and resource allocation can be (with appropriate regulation) very useful. Claims against generated wealth based on "ownership" are almost always just simple theft of labor or common resources.


That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.

Discuss.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:09 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Voting Machines Story

USATODAY.com - Electronic voting machines come under legal attack from activists

The article focuses on reliability, without mentioning paper trails at all. As if making the machines "reliable" reduces the need to be able to prove how people voted.

Voting machine must have a way to VERIFY that the machines are reporting what the voters wanted.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:25 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Is It Iran?

Soon it will be true that everybody knows that Iran is behind all of this. That's how repetition works. Remember how "everybody knew" Iraq had WMD?

Iran just might be behind it, and might not. Ask for evidence before you believe anything, and if they provide evidence, remember Colin Powell's presentation of evidence of Iraqi WMD at the UN. So judge carefully.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:51 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 13, 2006

Middle East

I'm not blogging much because I am watching news about the Middle East situation. It looks like there are elements trying to turn this into a situation with Iran.

Bush is blatantly taking sides, which destroys America's ability to mediate Different parts of the administration ar each saying different things. Bush tells Israel to go ahead full steam ahead, Rice asks them to show restraint... Senators from both sides of the aisle are asking Bush to bring in someone who knows what they are doing.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:15 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Something Up?

Our buddy over at Confederate Yankee has been doing some investigating and has come up with something interesting, and is hinting at more to come. I think it's worth taking a look.

See Confederate Yankee: Culture of Corruption.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:59 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The real meaning of "Cut and Run"

"Cut and Run" does not mean what the Republicans think it does....

From a letter in the San Francisco Chronicle, July 9, submitted by a Peter Browning from Lafayette, California. I believe this is the true origin of the phrase unless someone else knows otherwise.

In dire straights, cut and run'

Editor -- The phrase "cut and run" has appeared in The Chronicle -- indeed, in all media -- numerous times, usually in derogation of those who wish to depart from the ruinous American adventure in Iraq. But those who use the phrase with such fervor obviously don't know what it means.

"Cut and run" originated in the days of sailing ships. It meant to get under way in an emergency by cutting the anchor chain and running before the wind. In the instance of square-rigged ships, it also meant to cut the lines holding the furled sails, whereupon the sails would unfurl of their own weight and the ship could sail at once.

"Cut and run" has nothing whatsoever to do with cowardice, surrender, or defeatism. It is, in fact, the intelligent thing to do when in dire straits. The captain who cuts and runs has a chance of saving his ship. The stubborn, rigid captain, who stands upon the bridge and defies the elements, will find his ship driven upon the rocks -- and destroyed.

From this letter , it appears that Bush is the subborn captain and he intends to destroy the ship -- that's us and our country -- with him.

Posted by Patrick O'Heffernan at 8:22 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 12, 2006

A Great Ad

Go see DCCC.org: New Directions Video.

Republicans are, of course, criticizing it. Nitpicker has the response.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:30 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The cost - and price of the terror card

Once again Karl Rove and the RNC has decided that the terror card is one of their most effective tools ito stop a Democratic victory in November. From beating the drums on a military invasion of Iran over its nascent nuclear program to announcing that the DHS stopped a Miami-based terror group from moving ahead with mulitple bombings (which they apparently could not have pulled off if the DHS mole who suggested the plot to them had actually rigged the bombs himself), the Republicans are systematically working to make Americans afraid, very afraid.

But should they be, and are they? And more importatnly, are Bush's policies making us safer. Some answers to those questions can be gleaned from an excellent survey of 100 Republican and Democratic foreign policy experts conducted recently by the Washinton Post and the Center for American Progress.

The results, reported in the most recent edition of Foreign Policy, validate what many progressives have suspected since Bush was elected and decided to invade Iraq: his policies are making us less safe and we should be vigilant but not afraid. However, they also indicate, when compared to polls of public opinion, that the Rove terror card may be having the effect Rove&Co. intended.

First, the experts. An unheard of bi-partisan majority of the 100 experts surveyed agreed that the Bush policies and the war in Iraq have not made us safer, but actually the opposite. 84% of the experts agreed that the US is losing Bush's war on terror, 86% say Americans are in more danger now than ever before, and 80% say the US will be attacked. Even 71% of the Conservatives surveyed said that Bush is losing the war on terror. Foreign Policy ascribes these dire results to a universal agreement among the experts - Republican and Democrat - that the Bush Administration has weakened our national security and intelligence apparatus....using the term "serious disrepair." As a former professor of international relations who worked with some of the experts questioned I am blown away. Leslie Gelb's comment that never has there been so much bi-partisan agreement in the foreign policy community on an administration's foreign policy.

Interestingly, when the experts were asked to rank the greatest dangers to US national security, the Bush Administration's policies ranked third, just behind the spread of nuclear weapons and Al Queda. In my experience, this is unheard of. Worse, it tells us the cost of the Bush policies, should the Republicans maintain control of both houses of Congress and continue to give the Bushies a free hand, could be worse than WWII - an invasion of Iran, continued hatred generated by torture, imprisionment, support for Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands, not to mention the daily abuse of the rights and privacy of Americans. .

So that is the potential cost of Rove and Bush playing the terror card. But is there a price to be paid by Rove forplaying it? Polls show the answer is apparently not.

On almost every question, the public disagreed with the experts: 13% of the experts said we were winning the war on terror, but 56% of the public polled) said we are; 87% of the experts said the war in Iraqhas not helped the war on terror, but 44% of the public thinks it is; 66% of experts think Gitmo must be closed, but only 36% of the public does. The only agreement between the experts and the public is that becoming less dependent on foreign oil will make us safer - 87% of the experts and 90% of the public thinks so.

So, it looks like Karl and Dick and George have succeeded in playing the terror card effectively - they have fooled the public and marginalized the experts who know the facts.

So, is Rove and Co. getting what they want? So far, he may be. The President's approval level hit 40% today in tehe Gallup pol, the first time it has broken the 39% barrier in a long time. Plus, Americans told the Gallup Poll that they agreed that the troops need to leave Iraq, but there is no consensus on when. Plus, a majority understand Bush's plan and a distinct minority understand what the Democrats are offering.

Two interesting points in the public polls: the agreement with the experts that reducing dependence on foreign oil will make us stronger, and the finding of the <> that both Democrats and Republicans, church goers and non-church goers, report that the group they trust the least are major corporate executives.

Bush can respond to the first finding by pushing ethanol in the short term and hydrogen in the never never term, but dealing with the second may be beyond the terror card.

So what should progressives do about the terror card. First, swift-boat it. Trash the veracity of Administration spokespeople and the President who say their policies are making us safer. Call them the liars they are and charge them with the contiuned deaths of US service people-- close to treason. Don't rely on facts; go for the 41% that don't believe that Bush is winning the war on terror and expand from there using emotion over GI deaths.

Second, attack the Bush energy policy. You have the people on our side about reducing foreign oil depedence, so build on that agreement to undercut the Bush ethanol program as too little too late. Accuse them of using it to generate campaign contributions from corn growers in exchange for billions in subsidies while the middle class sees college loans for the kids dry up.

Third, tie the Republicans to worst symbols of the energy industy; revive the "Enron Presidency" and roll out a conspiracy between the oil companies who just killed the electrics car, and the Administration, to use fear to run up gas prices while making America less safe. Label the Republicans the "screw the middle class" Party and repeat over and over that they sacrifice middle class kids in Iraq, delay energy conserving cars, while making us less safe.

The message need not be logical, just believable and emotional. And, in our case, it will be true. The goal is to convice the electorate that the Bushie's are losing the war on terror. Should be easy.

Posted by Patrick O'Heffernan at 10:30 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush Still Won't Attend Soldiers' Funerals

President Bush has yet to attend even a single soldier's funeral. But now at least we know why.

AlterNet: Blogs: PEEK: Bush finally explains why he won't attend U.S. soldiers' funerals,

From a Stars & Stripes interview via Edward M. Gomez, the president finally addresses the reason he hasn't been to a single funeral:
Bush, who famously dodged the regular-forces draft during the Vietnam War era, then went AWOL from his National Guard duty post in Texas, said: "Because which funeral do you go to? In my judgment, I think if I go to one I should go to all. How do you honor one person but not another?"
Or: There's too danged many! Yeah, like, over 2500 now.

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

July 11, 2006

Bush Admits Tax Cuts Responsible For $296 BILLION Budget Deficit!

When Bush took office the United States had a projected budget surplus of $305 billion. After Bush's 2001 tax cuts that surplus disappeared and the budget went into deficit. At that time Bush said this was "Incredibly positive news."

President Bush said today that there was a benefit to the government's fast-dwindling surplus, declaring that it will create "a fiscal straitjacket for Congress." He said that was "incredibly positive news" because it would halt the growth of the federal government.

Today Bush said,

"The tax cuts we passed worked," Bush told a White House audience of aides and Republican members of Congress.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:26 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Murder Supreme Court Justices?

Here we go.

Prominent right-wing blogger today calls for the murder of Supreme Court Justices - the Right fails to condemn it. Go read.

It's based on the Right's call to murder journalists. This has been around a while.

Seriously, watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:17 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Train Bombing In India

Terrible news from India. Bomb Attacks in Bombay Kill at Least 139

At least 139 people were killed and more than 260 injured in a series of seven coordinated bomb blasts that rocked the commuter rail network in Bombay, India's financial capital, during the evening rush hour Tuesday.

The Bombay police commissioner's office said the blasts ripped through commuter trains in Bombay between 6 and 6:30 p.m. when trains were at their busiest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:46 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Tangled Up Tubes!

OK, the funniest thing in a long time.

Senator Ted Stevens, Republican Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, went on an unbelievable and ignorant rant about the Internet (mp3) the other day, and now it's available in the remix. (Click on Listen or Download.)

Funny. And sad. Maybe just sad. But at least it's not a big truck.

"Not A Big Truck" - maybe a good name for a blog. Maybe "Tangled Up Tubes."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:31 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 10, 2006

Update on Spam

I made a mistake in the numbers. I wrote yesterday that I'm getting about 8,000 spam e-mails since turning off my filters for a few days. Well, for the heck of it I didn't delete any spam for 24 hours, and checked the number. The number as of right now is 18,044, about 170 MB.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:00 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Getting Out of Iraq

Read this.

I have had two objections to the idea that we can "just leave" Iraq. One is that US and British troops are pretty much the only buffer preventing all-out civil war. The problem with this is that Bush is in charge and incompetent, so we do not have enough troops in Iraq to prevent a slower meltdown, which is occurring. The responsible thing to do is beg the UN to take over and send enough troops and promise to pay for the whole thing.

My second objection is that the idea that you can start a war and then call "time out" is ridiculous. Imagine of the Japanese had decided to "just leave" that war after the invaded Pearl Harbor - that just was not in the cards. And it probably isn't in the cards for us either. Sure, we can "just leave" Iraq but that doesn't end the war we started. It just brings it here.

Here is an idea. We created the mess. We destabilized the country and unleashed the forces that are tearing the country apart now - with the civilians in the middle. What if we offer to bring anyone who wants to come here transportation and a place to live? (Provided they are not in one of the militias, etc.) And then, maybe we CAN "just leave."

I mean, with Bush in charge, anything you or I suggest is about as likely to happen as anything else (not), so why not propose the world? It doesn't make any difference.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:00 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Writing About Things

A ot of times I don't write about things because I assume you have already read about them before you arrived at this little blog.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:45 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Why Blog

Atrios writes,

I do what I do because I actually give a shit about stuff, not to glorify myself (though just in case George S. is reading, I'm happy to be enriched.) Giving a shit seems to be alien to too many beltway pundits.
Exactly.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:38 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 9, 2006

Spam

I have a number of spam traps set up on nuthouse.com, to filter and delete unwanted e-mails. I'm testing to see if I am missing any e-mails, and turned off the spam filters for a few days to see what is filtered.

So it turns out I am getting about 8,000 spam e-mails a day now! I filled up a gig and a half mailbox on about a week. So yes I'll be turning it back on! With the filters on I only get maybe 20-40 spams a day now.

So what percentage of Internet traffic is spam now? 90%? Sheesh. What would our costs and response times be if this weren't happeneing? Is this the blessed "deregulation" that Republicans praise?

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

Attack Politics and Playing Victim

Who wrote about,

“providing a shield from attack” by “working away from the negative image your opponent wants to pin on you. If you know you are going to be attacked as morally imperious, it is a good idea to lead with a position that is inclusive and tolerant.” … “Symbols are so powerful that if you manipulate them cleverly … you can even launch mean-spirited attacks on your opponents and pretend to be compassionate while doing it.

… positioning [yourself] as victims gives … a license to attack. … But remember this: using fear as a weapon can be dangerous. Enemies inspire fear, friends do not. … [so let] surrogates do the dirty work. When and how to use fear is a political art. If you are a white male … be careful when you go on the offensive, and be sure to surround yourself with allies who are neither white nor male.”

The first paragraph sounds a LOT like the STF Rule, no?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:28 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Transparency

Mary at The Left Coaster: writes about proposed legislation requiring any bill to be posted online for 72 hours before it can be voted on. Great idea. Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Ken Lay

A guy on the radio last night was saying he doesn't believe that Ken Lay is really dead. What do you think?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:23 PM | Comments (7) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Prolonged War

Who said this?

A speedy victory is the main object in war. If this is long in coming, weapons are blunted and morale depressed. ...

When the army engages in protracted campaigns, the resources of the state will fall short.

When your weapons are dulled and ardor dampened, your strength exhausted and treasure spent, neighboring rulers will take advantage of your crisis to act. In that case, no man, however wise, will be able to avert the disastrous consequences that ensue.

Thus, while we have heard of stupid haste in war, we have not yet seen a clever operation that was prolonged. for there has never been a protracted war which benefited a country.

Therefore, those unable to understand the dangers inherent in employing troops are equally unable to understand the advantageous ways of doing so.

Those adept in waging war do not require a second levy of conscripts nor more than one provisioning. They carry military equipment from the homeland, but rely on the enemy for provisions. Thus, the army is plentifully provided with food.

When a country is impoverished by military operations, it is due to distant transportation; carrying supplies for great distances renders the people destitute. Where troops are gathered, prices go up. When prices rise, the wealth of the people is drained away. When wealth is drained away, the people will be afflicted with urgent and heavy exactions. With this loss of wealth and exhaustion of strength, the households in the country will be extremely poor and seven-tenths of their wealth dissipated. As to government expenditures, those due to broken-down chariots, worn-out horses, armor and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields, protective mantlets, draft oxen, and wagons will amount to 60 percent of the total.

Hence, a wise general sees to it that his troops feed on the enemy, for one bushel of the enemy's provisions is equivalent to twenty of one's own and one shi of the enemy's fodder to twenty shi of one's own.

[. . .]

Hence, what is valued in war is victory, not prolonged operations. And the general who understands how to employ troops is the minister of the people's fate and arbiter of the nation's destiny.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:56 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Purging Moderates

Shorter Digby: The Republicans have been and are finalizing a purge of their moderates. Therefore the media narrative is that the Democrats are purging their moderates.

The STF Rule:

Remember the Seeing the Forest rule: when you see a Republican accusing others of something, it means they are probably doing that thing.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:08 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 7, 2006

Question About "GOP"

This is a serious question. Newspaper headlines often refer to Republicans as "GOP." I have a suspicion about this. How many people understand, when they see a headline that says the "GOP" did something, that the headline is talking about Republicans?

I wonder how many people have decided they really don't like this "GOP" everyone talks about, so they're going to vote for Republicans instead. Seriously.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:01 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Daily Occurrence Now

Half of America insulted, called traitors, a daily occurrence now in the corporate media...

Bob Geiger, The "Liberal Media" on MSNBC,

And on it went, including their own version of analysis on Osama bin Laden in which Carlson opined that "every American will rejoice when that guy suffers and goes to hell" only to have Scarborough sneer "except for the Democratic party."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:14 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Americans Don't Trust Bush - It's Their Fault, Not Bush's

The government leaked news of a plot to bomb a tunnel and flood New York. This time the President and the right-wing chorus are not calling for the execution of the leakers.

It turns out the suspects were arrested months ago, and the news leak held for the beginning of Bush's new PR effort to try to bring up his poll numbers.

No, it's not a change in policy. It's a new media strategy.
So it might or might not be for real. The problem is that Bush's credibility is so low that half of Americans just don't believe anything he says. Of course, that's their fault, not Bush's.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:35 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Veteran Arrested for Wearing Veterans For Peace Shirt

Linked through Crooks and Liars, comes this story of a veteran arrested while sitting drinking coffee at a Veterans Administration Medical Center, for wearing a shirt that said "Veterans For Peace".

Watch your backs. And your shirts.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:48 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 6, 2006

Where Is The Right Taking This?

If you're reading the blogs lately you know that the Right - with President Bush and the rest of the chorus urging them on - has dramatically increased its campaign of calling those who disagree with them "traitors." And now they have escalated to providing addresses and phone numbers and encouragement to their supporters to "take matters into their own hands."

Glenn Greenwald writes,

The rhetoric of treason -- accusing individuals and organizations of aiding and abetting our nation's enemies and even waging war on this country -- is a lit match. After all, the widely accepted penalty for traitors is execution, which is why it is such an inflammatory yet increasingly common accusation being hurled by the Right against their domestic "enemies" (for precisely the same reason, the favorite accusation of the World Church of the Creator was to label someone a "race traitor," since everyone knows what should be done with traitors).

[. . .] As the Bush movement collapses, it is only to be expected that its more fevered adherents will resort to increasingly extremist rhetoric and tactics, out of frustration and anger, if for no other reason. The penetration of these thug tactics into increasingly mainstream venues on the Right is one of the more glaring, and more disturbing, developments of late.

Billmon, in Whiskey Bar: A House Divided writes,

Talk of disunion and civil war may seem like hyperbole. I'm sure it would certainly seem so to the vast majority of Americans who don't think much about politics or culture and just want to get on with their lives. I'm sure most Spaniards felt the same way in the summer of 1936, just as most Americans did in the winter of 1860.

But the historical truth is that civil wars aren't made by vast majorities, but by enraged and fearful minorities. Looking at America's traditionalists and the modernists today, I see plenty of rage and fear, most, though hardly all, of it eminating from the authoritarian right. For now, these primal passions are still being contained within the boundaries of the conventional political process. But that process -- essentially a system for brokering the demands of competing interest groups -- isn't designed to handle the stresses of a full-blown culture war.

Compared to most countries, America has been very lucky so far -- those kind of passions have only erupted in massive bloodshed once (well, twice if you count the original revolution.) By definition, however, something that has already happened is no longer impossible. It's easy for newspaper columnists to fantasize about disunited states, but only madmen would actually try to make them so. Unfortunately, the madmen are out there. It's up to the rest of us to keep them under control.

It's escalating, and the "mainstream" Republicans are part of the chorus.

Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:02 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

How the Press Treats Americans Who Disagree With Bush

I tried to watch the video linked from NORAH O'DONNELL GROSSLY CARICATURES ANTIWAR POSITION ON IRAQ.

But I can't. It only lets you watch if you are using Microsoft's Internet Explorer. I use FireFox. Great. Corporate power used to force me to use a product.

So I powered up Internet Explorer, and this is really worth watching, as much to see how the corporate press treats Americans who disagree with Bush, as anything else. "Fringes, extremist" etc...

You hear about concentration of media into a few corporate hands -- watch this video to see what that means. It's similar to what happens when you allow an operating system to become a monopoly.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:58 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush Administration Bans Wicca

AlterNet: Blogs: PEEK: Bronze star, but no Pagan star about a soldier who gave his life in Afghanistan, but the Bush administration will not allow a Wicca symbol on his marker.

Through Cynical-C, from the Washington Post.

That's because Stewart was a Wiccan, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has refused to allow a symbol of the Wicca religion -- a five-pointed star within a circle, called a pentacle -- to be inscribed on U.S. military memorials or grave markers.

The department has approved the symbols of 38 other faiths; about half of are versions of the Christian cross. It also allows the Jewish Star of David, the Muslim crescent, the Buddhist wheel, the Mormon angel, the nine-pointed star of Bahai and something that looks like an atomic symbol for atheists.

... Wicca is one of the fastest-growing faiths in the country. Its adherents have increased almost 17-fold from 8,000 in 1990 to 134,000 in 2001, according to the American Religious Identification Survey. The Pentagon says that more than 1,800 Wiccans are on active duty in the armed forces.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:23 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 5, 2006

Always Add the "Because"

One theme I like to drive home on this blog is "always add the because". Always drive home the point in a way that leads the listener to do what you want. We want people to realize that progressive values and a progressive approach to issues - democracy and community - benefits them more than a conservative "you're on your own" and "everyone out for themselves" approach.

After Katrina, I wrote in Always Add the "Because"

Yes, Bush appointed cronies. Yes, Bush's administration wasn't ready, etc. But -- and here is the important thing -- people added the word BECAUSE, and tied it all to something more fundamental. And this was effective. Bush wasn't ready to respond to Katrina BECAUSE Republicans don't believe in government. Bush appointed cronies BECAUSE Republicans don't believe in government. People suffered and died after Katrina BECAUSE we need government and that is the primary thing government DOES.

See what I mean? When we are criticizing Republicans on narrow issues we should always tie our criticisms to make a point about how Progressive values are better than conservative values. We should learn to always drive the deeper point home. We should always be arguing that Progressive values are better for people than conservative values.

And I haven't been doing that enough lately, have I? Have you?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:26 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Earth

Go read Matt on Climate Change Deniers

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

If Republicans DO Lose

Another reason to fix the voting machine problems - it gives Republicans an excuse to claim election fraud if they DO lose.

The BRAD BLOG : CLAIM: GOP Likely to Charge E-Vote Fraud This November; DNC Advised to Wake Up! Quickly!

Oh, you think Republicans wouldn't do that? Brad points out,

The GOP doesn't have the same fear gene that curses Dems when it comes to standing up and fighting when they feel they've been robbed (or, perhaps more appropriately with the GOP, opportunistically announcing they've been robbed even when they haven't been.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:57 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

More On Jewish Family Forced to Flee

Monday, in Prayer In Schools I echoed a story about a Jewish family forced to flee a Delaware school district.

The blogosphere is starting to pick this up. This Kos diary has a good summary of some of the activity. Crooks and Liars is on it. Jesus' General, Dispatches from Mike thethe Culture Wars, Talk to Action (and here), Bartholomew's notes on religion, Lawyers Guns and Money, The Green Knight, Mike the Mad Biologist, Pharyngula, Angry Astronomer, The Republic of T.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:02 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Government and Party Merge, Part XXVII

You may have read the the Defense Department is monitoring blogs, because, "Blog research may provide information analysts and warfighters with invaluable help in fighting the war on terrorism." Sounds to me a lot like domestic political activity by the military. And someone who understands these things agrees with me.

Valdis Krebs is an expert on "Social Network Analysis. He writes about this Defense Department blog project at Network Weaving:

But, do terrorists blog??? Real terrorists with real plans? I doubt it -- especially after the Air Force press release above! However, people with political views and affiliations do blog.

[. . .] In a political war[the upcoming elections of 2006 and 2008?], the battling parties would like to know their opponent's structures -- how are they organized, who are the key nodes in their network, and where are their points of failure. With the no-holds-barred political strategies of today the following questions are being asked: Who do we discredit today? Where do we split the network so that it declines into ineffective fragmentation? Whose switchboard do we tie up? Who do we start rumors about? Who do we turn against each other? In other words, how do we disrupt the others from waging an effective campaign? These are all questions that can be answered beginning with link analysis of public information on the WWW. Link analysis tools and public data are available to all who desire them. Which leads to an interesting possibility... if the government is mapping the blogosphere, will the bloggers map the government?

Read the rest, and read his blog.

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

July 4, 2006

The Daou Effect

You may have heard of the Daou Triangle, a series by blogger Peter Daou of Salon's Daou Report. (Parts 2, 3, 4) And you may have heard that Peter Daou has gone to work for Hillary Clinton.

I dub this the Daou Effect:
Sen. Clinton: Lieberman on own if he loses Dem primary

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:07 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Something Big - Oversight

Something is up. Something really really big is going on. One Republican in one committee of the Congress has, for the first time since Bush's election, actually decided to perform some oversight of something that the Bush administration has done. I know this sounds snarky and sarcastic, but I think this really is the very first time. See The Left Coaster: Rumsfeld Subpoenaed!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:57 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 3, 2006

Prayer In Schools

Jewish family flees Delaware school district's aggressive Christianity

A large Delaware school district promoted Christianity so aggressively that a Jewish family felt it necessary to move to Wilmington, two hours away, because they feared retaliation for filing a lawsuit. The religion (if any) of a second family in the lawsuit is not known, because they're suing as Jane and John Doe; they also fear retaliation. Both families are asking relief from "state-sponsored religion."

The behavior of the Indian River School District board suggests the families' fears are hardly groundless.

[. . .] Classmates accused Alex Dobrich of "killing Christ" and he became fearful about wearing his yarmulke, the complaint recounts. He took it off whenever he saw a police officer, fearing that the officer might see it and pull over his mother's car. When the family went grocery shopping, the complaint says, "Alexander would remove the pin holding his yarmulke on his head for fear that someone would grab it and rip out some of his hair."

Read on...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:14 AM | Comments (7) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Code Words

Code words over at GOP.com | Republican National Committee

Over on the right side, inder Recent News Releases:

• 06.30.06 The Real Dem Agenda: House Democrats Put The New York Times First, America's National Security Second • 06.29.06 Dem Donor George Soros Discounts War On Terror • 06.26.06 The Real Dem Agenda: Blame America
New York? George Soros? I wonder what they're getting at?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:57 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

July 2, 2006

Why Swift-Boating Works

From an article I came across: Variety.com - 'Swift-boat' pros in demand in D.C.,

Modern communication isn't about truth, it's about a resonant narrative," says Eric Dezenhall, a former Reagan administration aide and now president of his own crisis management firm. "The myth of PR is that you will educate and inform people. No. The public wants to be told in a story who to like and who to hate."

Already suspected by blue-collar America as an elite and effete New Englander, Kerry -- one of the handful of Ivy Leaguers who volunteered to go to Vietnam -- was red meat for the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ad that cast him as a Yale snot who'd come back from Vietnam to trash his largely working-class troops.

If that sounds audacious, it's because, as Dezenhall says, "We're living in an age of audacity," another fact GOP spinmeisters understand and exploit superbly.

"George Bush communicates in terms of audacity," Dezenhall says. Bush's response to questions about the wiretapping was to say that he's just trying to catch terrorists. Bold motivation, easily understood.

"Democrats communicate in terms of complexity," Dezenhall says, referring to their windy explications of a need to pursue enemies within the rule of law as spelled out in various court ... (snorrrrrrrrrrre).

Hence the lack of public outrage against a possible blatant violation of the Constitution, and the reason why Democrats, yet again, look like feckless pedants on national security.

Resonant narrative in an age of audacity. Ann Coulter is not an accident.

Update -

"We live in the world of the Story, not the world of the truth. Conservatives get that. Liberals are still trying to learn it."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:25 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Voting Machines Story

Go read ab out it at MyDD: Verified Voting Needs Volunteers

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:33 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Billmon says it right

"Anyway, the idea of being an ally of the New York Times -- in any capacity -- practically makes me retch." -- Billmon.

For ten years the Times has been trying to appease its quasi-fascist enemies. They've published many bad, inaccurate, dishonest stories, and they've minimized or fudged a lot of good, important stories. And I hate them for that.

But look how much good it's done them. The fascists are now talking about sending Keller to the gas chamber.

No, it won't really happen, but they're serious when they talk about treason. As soon as Rove dodged his own indictment for leaking classified information, the dogs were let out.

So now I have to stick up for the Times. Shit.

Posted by John Emerson at 7:23 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack