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October 31, 2006

Moderates And Centrists

Matt Stoller writes one of the better lines about the Washington "moderates" who are trying to retain control of the Democratic Party:

Certain House Democrats are panting at the ability to reach out to the Republicans as one of their first acts in office, to show a new spirit of openness to their GOP Beltway boyfriends who have been abusing them.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:12 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

What Does The Public Hear?

I have a post up at the brand-new Commonweal Institute Blog. The post is titled What Does The Public Hear?

A CNN poll this week shows that, as CNN worded it,

"...most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the Gipper put it, "government is not the answer to our problems -- government is the problem."
From the CNN story:
"Queried about their views on the role of government, 54 percent of the 1,013 adults polled said they thought it was trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Only 37 percent said they thought the government should do more to solve the country's problems."
Let me ask a different question: How many Americans do you think have been exposed to the other side of the story? We hear, over and over, that government is bad, that it is inefficient, that it sucks up our tax dollars and harms the economy, that it messes up everything it gets involved in, and negative point after negative point. And we hear, over and over, that regulation of business is bad and "private sector solutions" are good, efficient, and are exposed to a hundred other positive images and messages along those lines.

Marketing works. When you hear something repeated, it sinks into the brain. Americans have had the benefit of hearing the arguments for reducing taxes and reducing government repeated to them for decades now, and of course the CNN poll demonstrates that the message has sunk in.

But how many Americans have heard the case made that government is good for them, protects them, acts in their interests, etc.? How many Americans have ever even heard the positive case made for the underpinnings of our government -- democracy and community? When was the last time you heard that one-person-one-vote is better for people than one-dollar-one-vote, or that sticking together and standing up for each other is better for people than the conservative vision of everyone being on their own and in it only for themselves? And what do you think the country could be like if more Americans were exposed to those ideas?

CNN's poll doesn't demonstrate that the conservative anti-government message is right, only that it has been repeated without the other side being represented to the public. And that is what the Commonweal Institute is about -- reaching the public with the other side of the story.

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

Blogger Beat Up By Sen. Allen Staffers

Blogger Mike Stark was assaulted and beaten by staffers of Virginia Senator George Allen today.

Update, now have YouTube video.

Alternet PEEK blog has CNN video.

There is a video of the incident available from a local news station:NBC 29: Count on Us - Incident at Allen Campaign Stop in Charlottesville. The text accompanying the video states:

As Senator Allen was exiting a ballroom, coming to talk to the media, a protestor started yelling and asking, "Why did you spit on your first wife?". He wasn't able to get near the senator as he was tackled by three men wearing Allen stickers, presumed to be staffers. He was pushed and manhandled and ended up on the floor, near windows at the Omni.
I will have more here as the story develops.

UpdateAtrios is on it. Kos is on it too. AmericaBlog now. MyDD has video.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:01 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Kerry Was Talking About BUSH

There is a full-on right-wing echo chamber attack on Kerry today, saying he insulted "the troops". He said if you don't make an effort in school you get stuck in Iraq.

If you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, you make an effort to be smart you do well, if you don't you get stick in Iraq.
Well it sure sounded to ME like Kerry was talking about BUSH. Bush is stuck in Iraq.

But it doesn't matter -- only what they can make people THINK.

Updates - Carville: "Kerry botched a joke, they botched a war."

Democratic Daily was THERE.

Taylor Marsh is on it: Mangled Statement Caught on Tape

Below is what Kerry actually meant to say.
“I can’t overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq.” - Senator John Kerry
He screwed it up. Period. Hey, but the wingnuts don't care. And now it's on tape!
Kerry's statement on this follows:

Statement of John Kerry Responding to Republican Distortions, Pathetic Tony Snow Diversions and Distractions

Washington – Senator John Kerry issued the following statement in response to White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, assorted right wing nut-jobs, and right wing talk show hosts desperately distorting Kerry’s comments about President Bush to divert attention from their disastrous record:

“If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.

I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.

The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.

Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they’re afraid to debate real men. And this time it won’t work because we’re going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq.”

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:58 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Democrats Hate God

Why it seems like just the other day -- oh, wait, Sunday WAS just the other day -- InstaPundit was whining and playing victim and saying,

"If a Republican said something like that about Democrats, it would be a national scandal."
And here we are today, at right-wing TownHall, we have a Republican saying JUST that,
On this week devoted to the doings of the Dark Side, it seems apropos, somehow, to pause and reflect on those who have done so much to darken the spiritual landscape of these United States …

… the earnest advocates of atheism and sexual perversion who yearn, like vampires, to suck the very life out of our religious freedoms and sense of community …

… the too-many innocuous voters and ordinary citizens who, in their thirst to avoid conflict, played along with political correctness at the ballot box, and helped create the monsters of immorality that now dominate the political scene …

… the aggressive attorneys and activists who, wrapped mummy-like in their own agenda, have found their fortune in pressing the lawsuits that have brought paranoia and social paralysis to churches and school districts and businesses all over America.

Between them, this sprawling alliance of anti-God enthusiasts has proven frighteningly efficient at remaking America in their own brutal, dehumanizing image. In the space of a few decades, they have managed to entrench abortion and homosexual behavior, objectify children into sexual objects, criminalize Christianity in the popular culture, and promote guilt and self-doubt as the foremost qualities of our national character.

It goes on. And on...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:20 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 30, 2006

A Hog Farm Next Door To Your House -- Stealth "Takings" On The Ballot In Four States

There is a law on the ballot in four states that says if I want to open a hog farm or a chemical plant next door to your house and you don't want me to do that, then YOU have to PAY ME not to -- you have to pay me ALL THE MONEY I MIGHT HAVE MADE. I am not kidding. This new law says that if you want to stop a corporation from dumping toxic waste into the river from which you get your drinking water, or stop them from venting dangerous chemicals into the air, then YOU have to PAY that company not to. I am NOT kidding!

The far right says that a government stopping a company from dumping waste into a river is "taking" money from that company. I am not kidding. And you had better take this seriously or YOU will be PAYING companies to not harm you and your families.

Along with EVERYTHING else going on in this election, the far right has managed to get stealth "takings" initiatives on the ballot in four states. In California it is Proposition 90. In Washington it is Initiative 933. In Idaho it is Proposition 2. In Arizona it is Proposition 207.

This is a "private property" and "takings" amendment disguised as a limit to "eminent domain." This means that it is supposed to be about keeping the government from seizing property so it can be used by commercial interests. But what this really does is prevent the states from ANY regulation of property, including ANY environmental regulations, ANY zoning laws, etc.

These ballot initiatives are all funded by one person - a New York real estate tycoon named Howie Rich. And he did this through front groups - organizations disguised as something else. See if you can guess what he plans to do the day after these laws pass? (Hint -- think "hog farm next door to your house.")

See Calitics: Soapblox California :: Prop 90: A Battle we MUST Win and
The Left Coaster: Deceptive Initiatives Designed To Blackmail Your Community
and TomPaine.com Monster Stomping The States and The Nation: Rich's Stealth Campaign.

I am not kidding. I understand that saying the things I am saying here makes ME sound like the extremist, but you'd better go read up on these laws right now and see for yourself.

So here is ONE MORE THING to worry about this election. ONE MORE THING to tell friends and family to watch out for. ONE MORE THING to spread the word about. But it's one more IMPORTANT thing so get the word out.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:02 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Blood In The Streets Yet?

Housing market getting a healthy dose of reality,

September sales of existing homes totaled 6.16 million, down from 6.3 million in August, and down from 7.2 million in September 2005.

The inventory of unsold homes hit 7.3 million units in September, up from 4.6 million homes listed for sale in the same month a year ago. (And there might be many more sellers waiting in the wings, who plan to list their home when the market "recovers.")

Prices are falling, too. The National Association of Realtors reported the biggest drop in home prices since it began tracking the data in 1968. The median sale price slipped 2.2 percent to $220,000 in September following a 2.2 percent decline in August. These two declines are the first time median home prices have fallen since 1995.

... So, is it time to buy? The smart money says it's time to buy when everyone wants to sell, or as they put it on Wall Street: when blood is running in the streets.

So, is blood running in the streets yet? After a small trickle of bad news in the biggest runup of privces in history? With prices STILL more than double where they hould be? With the "creative financing" mortgages starting to come due next year? I think not.

Business Week: The Economy's Housing Problem, Weak third-quarter GDP numbers came courtesy of the housing slump. Is a real estate-led recession far behind?

... But while analysts and economic eminences see a trough, data reports point to more gloom ahead. In the third quarter, the biggest drop in homebuilding investment since 1991 slowed economic growth to its worst pace in more than three years, an Oct. 27 report showed. New home sales rose in September, but the median price of a new home fell by nearly 10% in the biggest one-year drop since 1970, according to the Census Bureau on Oct. 26.

... While the housing slowdown may not wind up crippling the economy the way some pundits feared, many analysts say its effects aren't finished just yet.

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

October 29, 2006

Responsibility? None

A right-wing radio host calls for assassinating members of Congress and overthrowing the government. A right-wing "news" site reprints his instructions for how to accomplish it - claiming to disapprove. Right-wing Drudge Report sends its readers to the website.

See WorldNetDaily: Assassinate half of Congress, urges Web-radio hatemonger

How about NOT helping him spread the word?

Note - I don't consider the readers of Seeing the Forest as possible candidates for recriotent into this. But maybe I'm also not being responsible by repeating this here. What do you think?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:45 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Their Own Medicine

How do Republicans handle a dose of their own medicine? Here's what far-right blogger Instapundit.com - today:

REPUBLICANS DON'T LOVE THE LORD? If a Republican said something like that about Democrats, it would be a national scandal. We're seeing a lot of unforced errors from Harold Ford all of a sudden. I think he and his campaign could use a good night's sleep.
IFa Republican said something like that about Democrats? IF? Like that is NOT what the Republicans have been saying about Democrats every minute of every hour of every day for year after year? And is it a "national scandal?"

What a clown. What clowns.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:00 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Voting Machines Story Comic

(click to enlarge)

Original here

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:36 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 28, 2006

Halloween Dogs

I found a Halloween Dog Photo Contest.

Here's my favorite:

darth vader dog costume

Darth Vader

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:15 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 27, 2006

Looks Like A Good Movie - Shut Up And Sing

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

Today's Housing Bubble Post -- Hitting The Economy Now

Lots of stories in the news today:

Housing Market a Drag on Economic Growth,

Economic growth slowed to a crawl in the third quarter, advancing at a pace of just 1.6 percent, the worst in more than three years.

The latest snapshot of the economy, released by the Commerce Department on Friday, showed that the slumping housing market figured prominently in the economy's dramatic loss of momentum. Investment in homebuilding was cut by the biggest amount since early 1991.

.. "The housing bubble burst and that really knocked down growth," said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.

Bloomberg: U.S. Growth Slows to 1.6% Rate as Homebuilding Slumps,
The U.S. economy grew at a less-than- forecast 1.6 percent annual rate last quarter, the slowest pace in more than three years, as housing slumped and the trade deficit widened.

... Homebuilding declined by the most in 15 years. ... Residential housing construction fell at a 17.4 percent annual rate last quarter, the biggest decline since the first quarter of 1991, after shrinking 11.1 percent in the previous three months. The decline in homebuilding subtracted 1.12 percentage points from third-quarter growth, the most in almost 25 years.

But wait, there's more!

Signs it will get worse - much worse. Chicago Tribune: Adjustable rates may deepen housing trough,

Existing-home sales will decline 9 percent this year, drop 8 percent in 2007, and increase less than the inflation rate in 2008, Mortgage Bankers Association economist Doug Duncan said in Chicago this week.

Duncan, who has a reputation for solid predictions, notes that housing downturns take time to work their way out because of what he calls "the smarter neighbor theory." One neighbor looks at a neighbor who recently sold a home for $400,000 and thinks he's smarter and can sell his for $425,000. He puts it up for sale, but once curious neighbors trek through the house, it takes him about three months to accept that buyers aren't interested. At that point, he lowers the price. But the house sits. Several months later he decides he's getting nowhere and perhaps takes it off the market.

When many people reach that point, and start removing their homes from the market, the cycle begins to mend. But Duncan notes that so many people are listing homes, there is a hefty eight-month supply on the market; six months is considered healthier.

And how's this one? Housing prices plunge in U.S. as builders fret
Analysts fear deep discounting on homes may scare off buyers, making spiral worse
Faced with a growing glut of unsold homes, U.S. builders are resorting to unusually deep discounts that some analysts fear could turn off potential home buyers, feeding an even steeper downward price spiral.

"Falling prices deter buyers," warned economist Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics.

"When the new home market goes south, the early buyers can get hurt," agreed Walter Molony of the U.S. National Association of Realtors (NAR).

That's because buyers may be reluctant to lock in at today's prices if they believe homes will be significantly cheaper in a month or two.
[emphasis added]

So the builders can't sell their homes, they lower prices, buyers realize that prices are dropping, so they wait. This is a classic crash scenario - a spiral down. Just like the stock market did. When does it stop? When prices reach the point they SHOULD be at in the first place - when you look at the VALUE of the house, not some idea of what it will be worth if prices rise! With stocks, prices had to fall until the stock was a good investment again - based on the value of the company, not some idea of making a quick buck by holding the stock for a few weeks and then selling it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:51 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Push Polling, What To Watch Out For

This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project

If you receive a call that you suspect is a push poll, Patriot Project wants to know about it. (Leave a comment following this post.)  We are tracking the use of this unethical campaign tactic.

People across the country are receiving calls from organizations claiming to be taking opinion polls, but then assaulting the listener with the most horrible, slanderous, nasty  smears about candidates that sometimes continues until the listener hangs up.  The recipients of such calls are victims of push polls.

A previous Patriot Project post, Push Polling – What Is It?, discussed what push polling is and why it is effective. 

Push polls are, unfortunately, effective.  The method bestows an impression of credibility on the information being passed to the caller.  Thinking they are participating in a legitimate public opinion poll, many people naturally assume they are being asked about something that has been in the news or is common knowledge.  People assume such information is valid and have no way to know that the call is nothing more than one more campaign commercial, inn disguise and arriving through an unexpected channel.

Another reason push polling is effective is that, by presenting the campaign message as an opinion poll, it reaches an audience that would otherwise tune it out, like skipping past TV commercials while watching TV.  As people become immunized against commercials it takes more and more exposures to the ad’s message before it begins to sink in.  But people are listening, paying attention, because they think they are being asked to respond to a “question.”  If voters understood that the call was coming from a campaign they would not only tune it out, it could backfire on the source.

A third reason push polls are effective is that they are conducted “under the radar.”  Large numbers of people can be reached with a push poll before word starts to get out that this is happening.  So campaigns do not have time to mount an effective response.

Where does push-polling come from?  According to SourceWatch,

The idea of using polls to have a political impact was devised by Hans Haacke as a radical artistic exercise in 1969. This is Herbert Schiller's account of it in Culture Inc.:

[. . .]

In 1970, Haacke asked [museum] visitors to a show that included his work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to ballot on the question: "Would the fact that Governor Rockefeller has not denounced President Nixon's Indochina policy be a reason for you not to vote for him in November?" At the end of the twelve-week exhibition, the ballot boxes had registered the following results:
Yes   68.7%
No   31.3%

Haacke, not unexpectedly, has not had another show at MOMA.
—Herbert I. Schiller, Culture Inc., Oxford UP 1989, pp. 96–97.

Tobacco companies embraced and extended the use of push-polling and by 1995 the tactic was beginning to draw attention.  It was also being used to influence politics.  For example, according to a 1997 issue of Texans for Public Just Lobby Watch [PDF document here ], Karl Rove was a paid consultant to the Phillip Morris tobacco company from 1991 until 1996, at the same time as he was a paid consultant to Governor Bush.  Rove was involved in tobacco push-polling in Texas.  In fact, many of the political consultants and organizations involved with the front groups using push-polling efforts in campaigns this year got their start working in the tobacco industry.

Possibly the most dramatic use of push polls to date was during the smear campaign against John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary fight against George W. Bush.  From Wikipedia,

 [. . .] Perhaps the most famous alleged use of push polls is in the 2000 United States Republican Party primaries, when it was alleged that George W. Bush's campaign used push polling to torpedo the campaign of Senator John McCain. Voters in South Carolina reportedly were asked "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?", an allegation that had no substance, but planted the idea of undisclosed allegations in the minds of thousands of primary voters[1]. McCain and his wife had in fact adopted a Bangladeshi girl.

Push polling is condemned by legitimate polling organizations and associations.  The Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) issued a statement in 2004 [ PDF document here ] saying,

As we move into the election season, the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) has started to receive complaints about "push" polls. A push poll is a form of negative campaigning disguised as a political poll that is designed to change opinions, not measure them. Legitimate polls accurately describe the candidates and issues in order to understand voter reactions. Push polls frequently present distorted information in order to influence voters. Push polls go beyond the ethical boundaries of political polling and bombard voters with problematic statements about candidates or issues in an effort to manufacture negative voter attitudes.

[. . .] AAPOR members sign a Code of Professional Ethics and Practices that requires disclosure of minimal methodological details about surveys when the results are released. (The full code can be found at http://www.aapor.org/pdfs/code.pdf) The Code calls for disclosing at least the following items:

1. Who sponsored the survey, and who conducted it.

2. The exact wording of questions asked, including the text of any preceding instruction or explanation to the interviewer or respondents that might reasonably be expected to affect the response.

3. A definition of the population under study, and a description of the sampling frame used to identify this population.

4. A description of the sample selection procedure, giving a clear indication of the method by which the respondents were selected by the researcher, or whether the respondents were entirely self-selected.

5. Size of samples and, if applicable, completion rates and information on eligibility criteria and screening procedures.

6. A discussion of the precision of the findings, including, if appropriate, estimates of sampling error, and a description of any weighting or estimating procedures used.

7. Which results are based on parts of the sample, rather than on the total sample.

8. Method, location, and dates of data collection.

If you feel you've been contacted by a push poll, try to get the name and location of the organization doing the "interviewing." Ask about the sponsors, the number of people called, the questions asked, and how the information from the poll is being used. [emphasis added]

Another AAPOR document [PDF document here] includes,

How do you spot a push poll?

- The organizations conducting these “polls” are not usually recognized as professional pollsters.

- Push polls typically “call” thousands of people. The people called are not a representative sample of voters. Instead, they’re people who are targeted because they’re thought to be undecided voters or supporters of a rival candidate.

- The truth of the questions is stretched or fabricated.

- Usually people’s answers are not tabulated; the intent is to create a negative effect on potential voters.

... - AAPOR urges its members and the media to uncover push-polling and help us alert the public.

This unethical, slanderous campaign tactic is in wide use this year.  Let others know what it is, and why they should not believe the things they hear when they receive these calls.

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

October 26, 2006

Today's Voting Machines Story

Ars Technica is an online magazine for techies. They're covering the voting machines fiasco.

How to steal an election by hacking the vote,

What if I told you that it would take only one person—one highly motivated, but only moderately skilled bad apple, with either authorized or unauthorized access to the right company's internal computer network—to steal a statewide election?

[. . .] Thanks the recent and rapid adoption of direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines in states and counties across America, the two scenarios that I just outlined have now become siblings (perhaps even fraternal twins) in the same large, unhappy family of information security (infosec) challenges. Our national election infrastructure is now largely an information technology infrastructure, so the problem of keeping our elections free of vote fraud is now an information security problem. If you've been keeping track of the news in the past few years, with its weekly litany of high-profile breeches in public- and private-sector networks, then you know how well we're (not) doing on the infosec front.

The article goes into technical detail on how to accomplish the theft of an election. But then,

Finally, it's extremely important to note that, in the absence of a meaningful audit trail, like that provided by voter-verified paper receipts, it is virtually impossible to tell machine malfunction from deliberate vandalism. Pioneering election security researcher Rebecca Mercuri has told me that she's actually much more concerned about "disenfranchisement of voters due to the strategic denial-of-service that currently masquerades as malfunctions," than she is about "manipulation of election equipment and data files in order to alter election outcomes, although both remain problematic."

When you have a rash of voting machines that have their memories wiped, their votes erased, or their number of votes mysteriously inflated; when you have reports of machines that crash or refuse to respond; when many machines record a vote for the wrong candidate—all of this could just as plausibly be construed as evidence of fraud as it could be of spontaneous malfunction, because there's simply no way to tell the difference in most cases.

And, toward the end,
In conclusion, let me summarize what I hope you'll take home with you after reading this article and thinking about its contents:

* Bits and bytes are made to be manipulated; by turning votes into bits and bytes, we've made them orders of magnitude easier to manipulate during and after an election.
* By rushing to merge our nation's election infrastructure with our computing infrastructure, we have prematurely brought the fairly old and well-understood field of election security under the rubric of the new, rapidly evolving field of information security.
* In order to have confidence in the results of a paperless DRE-based election, you must first have confidence in the personnel and security practices at these institutions: the board of elections, the DRE vendor, and third-party software vendor whose product is used on the DRE.
* In the absence of the ability to conduct a meaningful audit, there is no discernable difference between DRE malfunction and deliberate tampering (either for the purpose of disenfranchisement or altering the vote record).

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:19 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

An Analysis Of That 650,000 Iraqi Deaths Study

Independent experts looked at the Lancet study's method and the data and said it is valid -- it could be as high as 943,000 -- compared to up to 290,000 killed by Saddam in 20 years.

United Press International - Analysis: Disputed Iraqi bodycount,

President Bush has dismissed new statistics showing that more than 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S. invasion and the continuing insurgency. But the U.S. military's own estimates suggest that the casualty rate for Iraqis is five times what it was at the beginning of 2004.

And many scientists -- including four experts who anonymously peer-reviewed an article for the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet -- insist that the 654,000 figure, a measurement of what demographers call "excess mortality," is derived by a scientifically valid methodology from a statistically valid sample.

The story continues,

...The figure is actually the midpoint in a statistical projection of "excess" deaths -- the number of people who have died as a result of increased mortality rates since March 2003.

The projection says that number of excess deaths can be said, with 95 percent confidence, to range between 393,000 and 943,000. It said that 92 percent of the excess deaths were from violence, mainly gunfire, but also explosions. In those instances where respondents allocated [a cause].

By way of comparison, Human Rights Watch has estimated Saddam Hussein's regime killed 250,000 to 290,000 people over 20 years.

Of course go read the whole thing.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:57 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

These Are The Stingrays!

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

Today's Housing Bubble Post - BIGGEST PRICE DROP IN 35 YEARS!

NOW it's starting - but only starting. This kind of news will shake up sellers and wake up buyers. Home price drop is largest in 35 years,

The median price of a new home plunged in September by the largest amount in more than 35 years, even as the pace of sales rebounded for a second month.

The Commerce Department reported that the median price for a new home sold in September was $217,100, a drop of 9.7 percent from September 2005.

... The weakness in new home prices was even sharper than a 2.5 percent fall in the price of existing homes last month, which had been the biggest drop on record. [emphasis added]

OK, think about this. You read that prices are now falling at about 10% a year nationally. Who would be dumb enough to borrow $150,000 or so to buy a house that will be worth, on average, $20,000 less a year from now? Right.

If you own a house in the SF Bay Area you just lost, on average, maybe $60,000. If you are thinking about buying a house here you are thinking about borrowing half a million dollars or more to buy in a market where you face $60,000 yearly losses. Nope, not gonna do it.

So you can see what is about to happen. Buyers are going to wait. (Well, the smarter ones are...) And sellers are going to worry that they'd better drop prices enough to sell before it gets even worse.

And then there's all the people with "creative" mortgages with payments that are about to double.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:25 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 25, 2006

Info On Midterm Elections

Click the following to find info on these races and candidates:

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

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October 24, 2006

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Cold Hard Facts Staring Sellers In The Face

Realtors know that prices have to drop, but sellers can't believe it - yet. So realtors are trying to get the message to the buyers. Stubborn sellers could harm housing sector,

At a recent meeting with her Las Vegas real estate firm's 200 agents, Joanne Levy told them they needed to deliver a stark message to clients.

They would tell them that unsold homes are at a record level and sellers need to lower their prices.

In other words: the boom is over.

... With stubborn sellers refusing to relent on asking prices, many prospective buyers have kept their hands in their pockets.

Some industry observers fear that bull-headed home sellers could worsen a downturn by driving up the inventory of homes for sale and running off would-be buyers....

"There is a lag period between sellers' expectations and the reality of the marketplace," he said, and shaking them out of their high-price fantasy "is more psychology than science."

But cold facts are staring some homeowners in the face. [emphasis added]

But because of those cold, hard facts, I don't think just dropping prices a bit is going to make a difference. Why not? Read on.

There are just too many houses for sale, and prices became just too high -- way to high. In my opinion we're not going to see houses start to move again until prices drop as much as 30-50%. And that's just to get things started again.

Massachusetts: State housing market suffers in third quarter,

The state's housing market endured its worst third quarter in about two decades, as sales of single-family homes and condominiums dropped by more than 20 percent each, according to a report released Monday by the Warren Group, a Boston-based, real-estate research firm.

... "The market downturn is accelerating right now," said Terry Egan, editor-in-chief of Banker & Tradesman, a publication of the Warren Group. "Up until now, this market correction had affected single-family homes a little more acutely than the condo market. Now, this market correction has really taken hold across the board."

And Home sales drop at historic rates,
Sales of single-family homes and condominiums in Massachusetts plunged 23 percent in the third quarter -- the sharpest quarterly sales drop for single-family homes in at least two decades and the steepest for condominiums in 15 years, a firm that tracks real estate transactions said yesterday.
And let's all weep in unison for the very, very rich: Housing slump takes shine off star-studded properties,
Cher is quietly trying to unload her gothic Pacific Coast Highway mansion in Malibu. Actor Nicolas Cage wants $35 million for his Bel-Air home, complete with screening room and Olympic-size pool.
But even in the land of $2 million "tear downs," housing prices are dropping faster than Jamie Foxx's Lamborghini.

"It's a buyer's market," said real estate agent Ben Young Mason, who works with upper echelon clients. "Houses which sold within 60 to 90 days last year are now sitting on the market for four to six months. Last year, 90 days was considered a long time."

Awwwww. Tooo bad.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Global Warming - Serious

Salon has an article today, Calculating the global warming catastrophe, that I recommend everyone read. This is the most important subject. It is vastly more important than our election, except that our election offers a way to start doing something about the problem. We only have a few years to turn things around. (To see it I had to watch an ad for a car that doesn't get good fuel economy...)

HOW serious is the problem? The article quotes one scientist who says it is already too late and makes a dramatic worst-case prediction,

Human beings, a hardy species, will not perish entirely, he says; in interviews during his book tour, Lovelock has predicted that about 200 million people, or about one thirtieth of the current world population, will survive if competent leaders make a new home for us near the present-day Arctic. There may also be other survivable spots, like the British Isles, though he notes that rising sea levels will render them more an archipelago. In any event, he predicts that "teeming billions" will perish.
Others, however, say that we are heading that way, BUT we still have 10 years to turn it around.

The article says - along with many scientists - that the only way to really address the problem is to start replacing our power plants with nuclear power plants right now.

It's to the question of solutions to mitigate the effects of global warming that Lovelock eventually turns, which is odd since in other places he insists that it's too late to do much. His prescriptions are strongly worded and provocative -- he thinks that renewable energy and energy conservation will come too slowly to ward off damage, and that an enormous program of building nuclear reactors is our best, indeed our only, real option.
I believe the problem of where to put nuclear waste pales in comparison to what we face - and what we are doing now is just dumping the waste (CO2) from burning fossil fuel into the air.

That power can't come from wind or solar energy soon enough: "Even now, when the bell has started tolling to mark our ending, we still talk of sustainable development and renewable energy as if these feeble offerings would be accepted by Gaia as an appropriate and affordable sacrifice." Instead, "new nuclear building should be started immediately." With his extravagant rhetoric, Lovelock does us a favor -- it is true that we should be at least as scared of a new coal plant as of a new nuclear station. The latter carries certain obvious risks (which Lovelock argues convincingly loom larger than perhaps they should in our imaginations), while the coal plants come with the absolute guarantee that their emissions will unhinge the planet's physical systems.
Of course we need massive conservation efforts, and done right that could save tremendously. Think about the energy you use. Every time you turn on a faucet there's the energy from the pump that brought you the water. And if the water is hot... Do you leave lights on? Do you have an electric clock? Does your TV turn off, or just go on standby? The way to fix that problem is to charge for electricity somewhere near the cost, and the cost has to include the cost to the planet. If your electric bill was $1000 per month you would turn the TV off instead of just to standby.
Some scientists have estimated that it would take an immediate 70 percent reduction in fossil-fuel burning simply to stabilize climate change at its current planet-melting level. And that reduction is made much harder by the fact that it is needed at just the moment that China and India have begun to burn serious quantities of fossil fuel as their economies grow. Not, of course, American quantities -- each of us uses on average eight times the energy that a Chinese citizen does -- but relatively serious quantities nonetheless.
Please read the whole article.

Suggested reading: The Denial Industry

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:18 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 23, 2006

Christians Prevented From Praying!!

Or maybe not,

After threats by local police for attempting to peacefully express their faith in public, two Christians represented by an Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney filed a civil rights lawsuit today against city officials and the chief of police.

“The First Amendment protects Christian speech and forbids the government from censoring it,” said ADF-allied attorney Austin Nimocks of Austin R. Nimocks & Associates, a Biloxi-based law firm.  “Police and city officials cannot be allowed to disregard their citizens’ First Amendment rights.”

Of course, closer examination reveals what was really going on.  They were,

expressing their faith with signs and a voice amplification system on a public sidewalk

 Amplified, signs, etc...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:59 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 22, 2006


Go see these ads! Here: Daily Kos: "I'm A Democrat" and below the fold. They're only on YouTube so send the URLs to people so they can see them, too. Better:


Medicine: (It's about stem cell research)


From the YouTube site:
A parody of the PC/Mac ads created and written by John Kramer, Directed by Jeff Hadick, Produced by Shannon O'Neil, camera by Sam Locke and starring Aaron Sjoholm as the Democrat and Shawn Girvan as the Rockstar Republican. With Special co-stars Sherman Edwards (African American Voter) and John Tolley (Halloween.) Thanks to Ryan Miera, Alison Riley and all our friends at The Second City!

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October 21, 2006

Take Back The Capital!

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October 20, 2006

Drinking Kool-Aid

In case you are not familiar with the term "drinking the Kool-Aid" it referes back to the Jim Jones Jonestown cult, who lined up to drink Kool-Aid mixed with cyanide.

And today, another example: Top US general says Rumsfeld is inspired by God,

The top US general defended the leadership of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying it is inspired by God.

"He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country," said Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

While very few in leadership positions in this country have kids in Iraq, outside of the Capital there are families, parents, friends and co-workers of the people serving there. I wonder what they think when they hear this stuff? Are they filled with confidence that the leadership is ... well, sane?

So how is the Right reacting? Predictably, they're lining up to drink more Kool-Aid themselves:

Confederate Yankee is triggered into a fury at "far left liberals" and "the media" - just because AP reported the story,

As is typical of the left-leaning media, they seem amazed that leaders in these modern times pray for guidance from a power higher than themselves, and thought that detail was so newsworthy as to make it this story's lede. Other elements, such as Rumsfeld's controversial leadership style, and an apparent show of support at this ceremony from the military estalishment are far more newsworthy elements of the day's events to most people, but not so to AFP.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:53 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

SEIU In California

If you're in California, SEIU just launched a new website: TRUST ARNOLD? NEVER AGAIN!

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Smelling the Coffee T-Shirts

Smelling the Coffee now has a t-shirt store. (Seeing the Forest will be opening one soon.)

Just in time for Christmas and the Holiday Season!


Click here.

And to see a picture of Espresso, the dog who modeled for this image, click here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:01 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Calling People Communists

Calling people "Communists" is back in style... In this case, people who talk about "The Commons" or "Common Good" are "Socialists." Others call them "collectivists." (?!)

Fine with me. I believe we're all in this together. I believe that people sticking up for each other and watching out for each other is a better approach to life than the conservative "on your own" and "everyone out for themselves" and "get what you can and screw everyone else" approach. Moral values, and all that...

Go read this silly post: GOP Bloggers :: If It Walks Like a Socialist and Quacks Like a Socialist

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:25 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A Particularly Poisonous Front Group

This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project

Yet another big-money front group is working the scene – poisoning America’s pre-election civic discussion, spending $1 MILLION to saturate the radio with ads that say,

"Black babies are terminated at triple the rate of white babies," a female announcer in one of the ads says.

"The Democratic Party supports these abortion laws that are decimating our people, but the individual's right to life is protected in the Republican platform. Democrats say they want our vote. Why don't they want our lives?"

According to a story at the far-right NewsMax, (based on this NY Sun story)

Another ad tries to link Democrats to David Duke,a white supremacist who served as a Republican in the Louisiana Legislature. The spot refers to Duke's trip to Syria last year, where he spoke at an anti-war rally.

"I can understand why a Ku Klux Klan cracker like David Duke makes nice with the terrorists," a male voice says. "What I want to know is why so many of the Democrat politicians I helped elect are on the same side of the Iraq war as David Duke."

Johnnie Griffin, a sociology professor at Indiana University, told the Sun: "This is so dirty, but it works. These are race ads. It's incredible."

The front group placing these radio ads in districts around the country is named Americas PAC, and research shows that this one is be part of a web of similar organizations.  Americas PAC received major contributions just this last quarter of over $1.5 million from “Woodland Group Indiana LLC.” 

Almost no information is available on the Woodland Group.  However, from the Center for Public Integrity’s, Silent Partners, How political non-profits work the system,

Three different firms listed at the same address—7440 Woodland Drive in Indianapolis, Ind.—combined to give $2,250,000 mostly to Republican-leaning 527s. That address is home to Golden Rule Insurance Company, one of the biggest backers of medical savings accounts and a longtime GOP supporter.

A spokeswoman for Golden Rule said she had never heard of Woodland Group Indiana LLC, one of the contributors listed at that address.

A search on Woodland Groups’ address, 7440 Woodland Drive, Indianapolis, eventually yields “The Golden Rule Building” and Golden Rule Insurance as well as Educational CHOICE Charitable Trust – “A CEO America Affiliate Program” (Childrens Educational Opportunity).  The Golden Rule Insurance Company’s former head is J. Patrick Rooney.  According to People For the American Way,

J. Patrick Rooney … is well known as one of the largest individual donors to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as well as to his GOPAC and Progress and Freedom Foundation. Rooney is also a founding board member of Republican National Coalition for Life, a PAC founded by Religious Right heavyweights like Phyllis Schlafly, Gary Bauer and Beverly LaHaye to keep the abortion plank in the Republican Party strong.

GOPAC and Newt Gingrich are known for, among other things, introducing the language of incivility into our politics.  For example, the 1994 Newt/GOPAC document "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control," tells Republicans to use words like, “decay... failure… incompetent… sick… traitors” to describe Democrats – just to use the words for the negative effect the words have on people’s perceptions.

Rooney and his Golden Rule Insurance Company have long been major funders of the far right, especially promoting Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and the 2004 Mother Jones article Medicare's Hidden Bonanza may just explain why,

After millions in campaign contributions, an insurance magnate's 10-year lobbying campaign finally pays off. 

… there is little doubt about the biggest short-term winner. He is J. Patrick Rooney, a major Republican campaign donor from Indiana who has done more than anyone else to make health savings accounts a reality. Rooney is the chairman emeritus of the Indianapolis-based Golden Rule Insurance Co., which has been selling health savings accounts through a now-expired pilot program that Rooney helped convince Congress to approve in 1996. Just days before the new Medicare bill passed, UnitedHealth Group, the largest insurer in America, paid $500 million in cash for Rooney's family-owned company—a move that analysts said was directly tied to the Medicare bill's provisions broadening the market for health savings accounts.

A $500 million return on the investment in poisoning America’s political environment!  It brings to mind a cliche -- but at Patriot Project we don’t think we’re in the wrong business.  This is wrong – these front groups are set up to skirt the law, and they harm democracy.  And now some of that $500 million is being funneled back into the political system, diverting the public from problems we need to solve, distracting from the real issues of the election, and aimed at obscuring the corruption and poison these groups spread.

In 2004 Americas PAC received large contributions from another front organization – the Republican Leadership Coalition.  The Republican Leadership Coalition was established by Scott W. Reed, former head of (yet another front group) the American Taxpayers Alliance, which ran ads blaming California Governor Gray Davis for the energy crisis – which readers might recall later turned out to be a manipulation of markets by Enron.  Reed also managed Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign for President, and was executive director of the Republican National Committee under Haley Barbour.  Reed started his career with the Christian Coalition (but is no relation to Jack Abramoff associate Ralph Reed),  in the past worked as a lobbyist for (yet another front group) Americans for Gun Safety (2002), and was President and Founder of the lobbying firm Chesapeake Enterprises (2004)

While Americas Pac lists its location as Marion, Indiana, in previous years they were listed at an address in Overland Kansas.  Americas PAC is affiliated with and gave $260,000 to yet another front group, a 501 (c) 4 “think tank,” Americas Majority, which shared Americas Pac’s earlier address in Overland.  From Americas Majority’s website,

Americas Majority was founded to increase the constituency for conservative causes:  free market economics, international anti-totalitarianism, and morals based on Jewish and Christian scriptures.

According to SourceWatch, Americas Majority is headed by Richard Nadler, an “Intelligent Design” advocate who also heads the firm Access Communications, which receives money (over $400,000 in 2004) to handle the advertising for Americas Majority. Richard Nadler was listed at the 2004 CPAC conference as Political Director of the front group Republican Leadership Coalition – which made Public Citizen’s 2002 list of “shadowy” 527 organizations

Patriot Project is working to expose these front groups, set up at election-time to pervert the process, smear honest public servants and poison our democracy.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:16 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 19, 2006

Why Air America Matters

Thom Hartmann writes over at Huffington Post on Why Air America Matters,

There are times when doing the profitable thing is also doing the right thing.

That's certainly what Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch thought when they lost an average of $90 million a year for about five years before the Fox News Channel became profitable. It's what Reverend Moon believes, as his Washington Times newspaper lost hundreds of millions of dollars and, according to some reports, even today continues to lose money.

Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:03 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Apply Directly To The Problem

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October 18, 2006

Don't Forget The July 10, 2001 Meeting

Here's something very important that dropped out of the news. After ignoring bin Laden from the time they came into office, the Bush administration also ignored very clear warnings that an attack was imminent. (Except Atty. General Ashcroft didn't ignore them - he started chartering jets instead of flying on commercial airlines.)

Remember this? Two Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice,

On July 10, 2001, two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. It was a mass of fragments and dots that nonetheless made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately.

Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, from the car and said he needed to see her right away. There was no practical way she could refuse such a request from the CIA director.

For months, Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy, including specific presidential orders called "findings" that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden. Perhaps a dramatic appearance -- Black called it an "out of cycle" session, beyond Tenet's regular weekly meeting with Rice -- would get her attention.

And this?

Records Show Tenet Briefed Rice on Al Qaeda Threat ,

A review of White House records has determined that George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, did brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said Monday.

... Officials now agree that on July 10, 2001, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism deputy, J. Cofer Black, were so alarmed about an impending Al Qaeda attack that they demanded an emergency meeting at the White House with Ms. Rice and her National Security Council staff.

According to two former intelligence officials, Mr. Tenet told those assembled at the White House about the growing body of intelligence the Central Intelligence Agency had collected pointing to an impending Al Qaeda attack.

And this? Think Progress: Intel Officials: Rice’s July 2001 Briefing Described Urgent Threat, ‘10 On a Scale of 1 to 10′

Simon Rosenberg is launching NDN :: Campaign to Get Condi to Come Clean

Four Questions Secretary of State Rice must answer about the July 10th Meeting

Over the last two weeks conclusive evidence has emerged that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice received warnings
about imminent Al Qaeda attacks well before September 11th 2001.

Bob Woodward’s State of Denial provides specific details of an emergency meeting held on July 10th between Rice and CIA Director George Tenet and Director of the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center Coffer Black. In his crisis briefing Tenet warned of an imminent Al Qaeda strike, possibly in the United States.

Yet in statement after statement Rice has implied that she was not adequately warned about possible Al Qaeda attacks, and that she was not told of a possible attack on the United States. Meanwhile, details of this emergency meeting did not appear in the official report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (the 9/11 commission,) despite being covered in depth by Tenet in his sworn testimony and reported by Time Magazine in 2002.

NDN believes that the Secretary of State must answer these four critical questions about the July 10th meeting. If she does not provide honest and adequate answers to these four questions, the American people will be forced to conclude that she and others lied about what they knew to cover up their inadequate response to the Al Qaeda threat.


Question 1: Why do you continue to deny that an “emergency meeting” took place on July 10th 2001 between yourself, CIA Director George Tenet and Director of the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center Coffer Black?

Go read the rest.

AND Go sign this petition, demanding Declassification and Release of Documents relating to the July 10, 2001 meeting!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:15 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Matt Stoller On The Connecticut Debate

Matt is a great writer -- you'll enjoy reading this. The Blog | Matt Stoller: Debate Train to Crazy Town | The Huffington Post,

And now we come to Alan Schlesinger. Ironically, if you were in Connecticut over the past two months, you wouldn't have known there was a Democratic wave in the rest of the country. That's how stagnant the race had become. Fortunately, Alan Schlesinger just shattered the status quo here and injected a sense of fun, making this race what it's needed to be for awhile, a friggin' carnival. Lamont stayed still for a month or two, and as Foley got caught molesting boys and the Republicans got caught being Republicans, no one really noticed the groundwork being laid against Lieberman by an increasingly angry and passionate Alan Schlesinger. He was watching, and waiting, and practicing, and now it turns out he's very, very good. Republicans and conservative unaffiliated voters are now torn between their heads and their hearts, because Schlesinger really delivered, once again.

My observation - that the Republicans are backing Lieberman shows how ideologically corrupt and cynical their movement has become. They have someone running who actually IS a good conservative, makes the case well, and could win, but the Repubican leadership won't support him. They support Lieberman because t them it's entirely about getting and keeping POWER for themselves, rather than delivering anything to their constituents.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:40 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Reid vs Hastert

Media Matters - Why has CNN devoted 50 times as much coverage to Harry Reid's land deal as Dennis Hastert's?,

From October 12-17, CNN aired 3,361 words about allegations that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV) improperly reported a land deal in which he made $700,000.

Seventeen different CNN transcripts in the Nexis database include mention of the Reid land deal -- and that doesn't even count October 18, when CNN has aired at least one more lengthy segment on the deal.

By comparison, CNN has aired only 65 words about a land deal in which House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) made nearly $2 million, a story which was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times on June 15. By contrast, the Reid land deal first broke a week ago, when the Associated Press reported on October 11 that Reid had made $700,000 "on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn't personally owned the property for three years."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:03 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Voting Machines Story

A great new video over at The People Choose 2006 --
Can a Chimpanzee Hack A voting Machine? Baxter Did

Go watch.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Kerry and Patriot Project

In a post to day at Huffington Post John Kerry links to several posts of mine. See The Blog | John Kerry: Will You Fight With Them? | The Huffington Post and SUPPORT THE PATRIOT PROJECT.

The Patriot Project has an incredibly important and concise mission. "Freedom of speech and the right to dissent are cornerstones of our democracy. The Patriot Project will defend any man or woman, regardless of party or affiliation, who is attacked or defamed and whose patriotism is questioned simply because they exercise their rights as Americans. This is our mission."

By the way, Kerry sounds like me - I guess he's been reading blogs:

When I got off the phone with Patrick Murphy after the chickenshit attacks on his military record, something felt awfully familiar and it got me pissed off.
He also has this to say:
Nitpick the campaign I ran all you want, question the tactics, I can take it -- but above all the small criticisms, I know that I lost to two lies backed up by big money: a lie about Iraq and a lie about my military record. Pundits can feast on the little details, I'm busy this year making sure that no veteran loses to a lie in 2006.
Update - Taylor Marsh has more

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

October 17, 2006

Today's Housing Bubble Post - The Bust Arrives In SF Bay Area

Bay housing prices fall .8 percent,

Bay Area housing prices are finally falling, declining last month for the first time in more than four years.
This means that every buyer desparately trying to "get into something" before prices go up even further is going to take a new look around. It means that every seller holding out for that offer "over asking" is going to realize they need to get out.

Even more, it means that all the speculators will understand the party is over, and it's time to bail. And, finally, the landlords with "negative cash flow" but thinking they're making up for it with appreciation have to face it that they're really just losing money. Not to mention all the people who are "over their heads" with mortgage payments they can't keep up with.

Home builders get it already,

In addition, prices for new homes tend to correct more quickly than those for resales, because home builders would rather drop prices than hold onto excess inventory.

... New homes, whose sales made up 12 percent of the county's overall total, saw a median price decline last month of 9.4 percent, to $591,000.

Sales volume for all types of homes was down 30.6 percent in the county, in keeping with the trend seen throughout 2006.

But wait, there's more!

Housing slowdown creating 'ghost towns' Fed president says some effects of rate hikes still in the pipeline,

The housing slowdown has turned some parts of the Phoenix and Las Vegas metropolitan areas into "ghost towns," where many unsold homes stand empty, Janet Yellen, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, said Monday.
Yellen said that she heard the ominous description from a "major home builder," who told her that the share of unsold homes in some subdivisions around the two Southwestern cities has topped 80%.
Empty houses means sellers holding out... That's a dam that's really going to burst...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:03 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Suppose The Dems Win A Majority In The House?

I've been thinking about how to approach things if the Dems do take a House. It doesn't mean anything, they can't pass anything, and actually makes a lot of problems worse because the Right can blame Dems as the consequences of the last 6 years arrive. As Dems try to fix things like the deficits, the Right will still be powerful, still have their noise machine, and will be sabotaging everything.

The Dems have no power structure (infrastructure) to watch their backs and explain to the public why they are doing what they must do... Just the blogs...

Digby, as only Digby can, starts the discussion.

No matter how tempting it is to let bygones be bygones and get to work to "fix" the problems, the Democrats must recognize that fixing the problem requires discrediting this Republican revolution once and for all. Until that happens, they will keep coming back and each time they do they destroy a little bit more of our democracy.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:36 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Clean Money In California - A Great Ad

There is a "Clean Money" ballot initiative in California - Proposition 89. Naturally the big-money groups are running ad after ad against it. California Progress Report writes about the reception of a new ad the pro-89 people are running, which points out that everyone is being pounded by ads BECAUSE California needs to pass Prop-89,

“Stop The Pounding is a brilliant piece of political jiujitsu,” said Bob Brigham, internet expert for the Clean Money Now, Yes on 89 campaign. “It takes the context of the election where voters are being pounded by ads from big tobacco and big oil and potentially transforms each advertising moment into a reminder for voters to go pick their pounded selves off the floor and get to the polls on November 7th to do something about this by voting for Proposition 89.”

Stop the Pounding takes direct aim at what has become the dominant factor in many elections nationally, as well as in California elections: the ceaseless avalanche of misleading ads that distort our political process. In California, the vast majority of ads are financed by big corporations in an attempt to overwhelm voters and buy elections. Drug companies spent more that $80 million to defeat prescription drug reform in 2005. This year spending for and against Prop. 87 has already smashed that record, and Prop. 86 ads are not far behind. Among the contributors, Chevron, Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, all have spent over $20 million.

There's more, go read. And go watch the ad.


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October 16, 2006

CBS News Provides Free Airtime To Vets For Freedom Action Fund - A Campaign Organization

This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project

Wade Zirkle, Executive Director of Vets for Freedom Action Fund was invited last week to present a “free speech” commentary segment on the national TV “news” show CBS Evening News With Katie Couric.  There is a problem with this. Vets for Freedom Action Fund is a “527” group – a campaign organization that appears to exist soley to support one candidate – Joe Lieberman’s Connecticut campaign for the Senate.  So Zirkle’s presentation was not “commentary,” by definition it was a campaign speech supporting a partisan cause, delivered to a national audience a few weeks before an election.

CBS identifies Vets for Freedom Action Fund as a “bipartisan” organization.  But it is not.  Vets for Freedom Action Fund is entirely founded and controlled by Republican Party-aligned individuals, and its formation follows a pattern of formation of Party-aligned front groups for election-campaign purposes.  In the August post Behind the Front: The Creation of Vets for Freedom, Patriot Project exposed Vets for Freedom as a Republican front group.  From that post,

This "non-partisan" organization’s website was designed by The Donatelli Group/Campaign Solutions, which previously had worked with the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, as well as the White House-associated Judicial Confirmation Network, yet another well-financed, party-affiliated front group. Other Donatelli Group/Campaign Solutions clients include Bush-Cheney 2004, The Republican National Committee, the 2004 Republican National Convention...

The "non-partisan" Vets for Freedom originally had a privacy statement on their website that read, "We may from time to time share the information our visitors provide with other Republican candidates and other like-minded organizations."

The "non-partisan" Vets for Freedom included William Denman "Wade" Zirkle, who had helped run Republican Jerry Kilgore's 2005 campaign for governor of Virginia, and was campaign manager for Republican Todd Gilbert's 2005 race for the Virginia House of Delegates.

Because Vets for Freedom is a political, Party-affiliated election-campaign "527" organization supporting Joe Lieberman’s Senate Connecticut bid, CBS’ contribution of several minutes of airtime may be an improper corporate campaign contribution. 

Additionally, the appearance of Vets for Freedom Action Fund on a national nightly-news program bestows unwarranted credibility on Vets for Freedom.  In the minds of voters, this elevated their party- and candidate-supporting advertisements to a different level.

However, beyond the impropriety of CBS making this contribution, there may also be a question whether this contribution violated Federal election law.  Federal election law prohibits corporate-paid 527 advertising within 30 days of an election if it mentions a candidate.  While the CBS/Vets for Freedom “free speech” advertisement did not directly mention Joe Lieberman by name, the fact that Vets for Freedom Action Fund exists entirely for the purpose of supporting this one candidate brings into question whether this was a candidate-support advertisement.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:46 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Election Prediction / Voting Machines Post

Prediction: If Republicans lose the House, they are going to accuse Democrats of hacking the voting machines.

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

Be An Election Official

Have I mentioned that I work as an election official at a precinct during elections? YOU SHOULD, TOO!

It is not too late to call your county clerk's office and let them know that you would like to work during the election. Yes, they usually pay. I don't know where you live but I do know that they desparately need people. And the fact that you are reading this means that you know more about computers than most of the people currently working during elections. Who knows, you might even help spot and stop some Republican election scamming hijinks. And, who knows, it might get you started down the road to becomming someone who has authority in your country to demand paper trails for voting machines.

Here's a diary at DailyKos on the subject: Daily Kos: Election Official Confidential: a scoop from Ohio

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:44 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 15, 2006

Liberals ARE Satan

Bush and his Repubicans have always been smart enough to use surrogates to spread their hateful, divisive message to his audience. That way he doesn't get blamed for what they say. But you know there is the wink and the nod. The behind-the-scenes payoff. The deal, the contract, the job at the think tank, etc.

Has Bush "The Uniter" EVER condemned the things said in his name? And today here's just one more example.

Today at Republican TownHall, Why Liberals Channel Lucifer,

Thinking they are like the very angel of light, liberals have taken to forked-tongue talk of late. And though they drone in pleasant tones, the bile their words create are some of the fiercest deceptions ever spoken.

Biblically literate people understand that before Satan fell, he shared an exalted place in close communion with God. But through his pride and lust for power he foolishly attempted to think himself equal to God. He so deceived himself in the matter that ultimately he believed that he himself might be able to manipulate God. In my brand new book …, I argue that these are the exact same tactics used by modern liberals.
Where they disagree with the Almighty - they simply dismiss Him.

[. . .] Not that liberals have any interest in truly understanding people of faith in America, because they don't. But if they did, they would never be able to handle the structure of rational, truth-based, commonsense thinking that pervades the communities of the devout today.

So all that's left is to call us "stupid bible thumpers" or "zealous right wingers."

But that's okay, because the false prophets - which is in essence what liberal spokespeople are today - called Jesus much worse.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:41 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack


A word of caution. The Republicans haven't really started campaigning yet. From White House Upbeat About GOP Prospects,

So far, there have been few surprises in the Bush-Rove playbook, which seems little changed over the past four years. It includes tapping the powers of incumbency, mobilizing Christian conservatives and others in the GOP base, and seeking to polarize the electorate around national security and taxes. A huge effort to raise money by Bush, Vice President Cheney and first lady Laura Bush seems to be paying off: By Taylor's calculation, the various GOP campaigns and party committees will have a $55 million money advantage in the final three weeks of the campaign.

The RNC is also planning another big get-out-the-vote drive in the final three days before the elections. Rove believes that many of the polls in individual House and Senate races understate what he expects to be a GOP advantage in turnout, according to one party strategist who has heard him discuss the midterms.

UpdateThat $55 million was just The Republican Party itself. But check this, $200 million more in spending is coming - '527' political groups raise cash, ready negative ads,

Many ads will be produced by independent organizations known as 527 groups, after the part in the tax code that allows them to spend virtually unlimited sums on political activity as long as it is not formally coordinated with parties or candidates.

The 527 groups had raised nearly $200 million as of June 30. The total raised and spent by the groups on this election could surpass $300 million, eclipsing the $258 million spent in the last midterm election, in 2002.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:47 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 13, 2006

A Software Question - Sony Clie

I have a question that maybe someone can answer. As you know I am reconstrcuting a hard drive. Does anyone know how to find the Palm Desktop that works with a Sony Clie SJ22? If I install regular Palm Desktop, will that do the HotSync with a Sony Clie or not?

And for years others with this problem can read your answer here after searching on Google.

Update -- Installing the software for my wife's Palm Zire worked just fine.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:51 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Do More Than Vote

I want to tell you about an organization Do More Than Vote, show you their great video and ask you to help spread the word.

Watch the video, spread the word.

There is a KOS Diary about them at Daily Kos: A Tool to Help Rally the Troops, and here's what they sent me:

A viral video called "The Greatest Trick Ever!" was released today. Far from lecturing, the piece entertains and engages, taking a page from the success of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, which demonstrate that people can take politics when it comes with a spoonful of humor. The short gives "regular" people tools to impact the midterm elections and pushes them to the Do More Than Vote website - a clearing house for local activities around the country. The short is designed for bloggers to forward to their non-political friends. It's fun enough to do that! So check it out and do it!

Do More Than Vote (DMTV) is a national effort to help any individual find opportunities for progressive political action that fit his or her schedule and interests. The website tells people how 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 dollars can be devoted to help the Democrats take Congress this November and connects them directly to organizations that are working in their home towns. Thirty cities have dedicated DMTV sites; new chapters can form within hours; and anyone can find opportunities regardless of where they live. They are not trying to recreate progressive organizations but driving people to existing ones.

You can support these efforts by donating to Do More Than Vote and Hammering the Issues (the PAC that produced the ad) at their Act Blue page.

Here's the G version of the video - send this one to your mom or grandma: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghjSaCYNJzY

Here's the PG version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcG5gB1uJow

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:41 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A Few Comments

My computer's working, and I've been collecting things to comment on. (But I did lose a lot of archived e-mail that I thought was backed up.)

The election. Remember, even with all the great polls we're still just hoping to squeak into a majority by a few seats. But the Republicans haven't really started spending their campaign money or executing their final campaign strategies yet. And they have a better get-out-the-vote machine-- especially don't count out the right-wing churches.

If the Dems get a majority, then what? Republicans can filibuster and veto bills. And if the Democrats actually DO investigate things, the Republicans have a massive propaganda machine. Remember what happened to Clinton and look at what is happening to Harry Reid today. There still is no "infrastructure" in pace to watch their backs, and to argue the progressive side to the public.

Harry Reid made a profit on real estate. Comment - in case you didn't know, we are in a huge housing bubble. It would not be possible for anyone NOT to make a $700,000 profit on a $400,000 investment made in 1998.

The Iraqi civilian death estimate. They took the death rate before the war and compared it to the rate after we invaded. This is not a direct casualty count, it is the increase in deaths attributable to our invasion. For example, someone who dies because he or she is unable to get medicine. Someone who dies from bad water because the water treatment olant was shut down because of no electricity.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:51 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Conservative Bloggers Won The Iraq War!

The War of the Words says that conservative bloggers and pundits (The Fighting 101st Keyboarders) are the true heros of our time.

This is a bit insider, but really funny.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:24 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

FEAR and Elections

I have been hearing ads on the radio talking about what to do to prepare for a possible terrorist attack, and directing peope to this government site: Ready.gov - Prepare. Plan. Stay Informed.

I wonder why the Bush administration chooses now to remind everyone to be prepared...

And on a completely, absolutely unrelated point, check out this GREAT post at DailyKos, The Science Behind Scaring The Bejeebers Out Of Voters

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

October 12, 2006

Computer Problems

My hard drive crashed - actually it looks to be a Windows problem? - so I had to reformat and reinstall everything. I've been at it since this morning... Back to normal by tomorrow.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:18 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 11, 2006

National Coming Out Day

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:30 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 10, 2006

So Far -- 246 Videos at The People Choose

I just counted 246 videos so far over at The People Choose 2006.

If you want people to see a video you have made about this election, go upload it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:40 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Voting Machines Story

Captain's Quarters, a conservative blog, calls for Paper Trails At The Voting Booth.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:50 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 9, 2006

All You Need To Know About The State Of The World

Why is the world the way it is right now? Go read this: Rox Populi: All You Need to Know is Contained in the First 13 Pages

Remember as you read this, George W. Bush is the "Leader of the Free World."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:47 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Description of Bush

Over at Talking Points Memo Josh Marshall describes Bush's method of operation:

chest-thumping followed by failure followed by cover-up and denial
Today it's Korea.
President Bush came to office believing that Clinton's policy amounted to appeasement. Force and strength were the way to deal with North Korea, not a mix of force, diplomacy and aide. And with that premise, President Bush went about scuttling the 1994 agreement, using evidence that the North Koreans were pursuing uranium enrichment (another path to the bomb) as the final straw.

... All diplomatic niceties aside, President Bush's idea was that the North Koreans would respond better to threats than Clinton's mix of carrots and sticks.

Then in the winter of 2002-3, the US prepared the invade Iraq, the North called Bush's bluff. And the president folded. Abjectly, utterly, even hilariously if the consequences weren't so grave and vast.

The Republicans are going to try to blame Clinton for this. They have developed a narrative for it - but it is yet another lie to cover up that the conservative approach just does not work. But this is entirely the fault of Bushism.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:17 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 8, 2006

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Recession in 2007?

At NewsWEEK: The Worrying Housing Bust ... The danger: a 2007 recession.,

We are at the endgame for housing. Until recently, our national motto has been "in real estate we trust." Just last week, the Census Bureau reported that median home prices after inflation rose 32 percent from 2000 to 2005. In some places, the gains were huge: 127 percent in San Diego, 110 percent in Los Angeles and 79 percent in New York. But real estate—which has acted as a national piggy bank, with homeowners borrowing and spending against rising house prices—no longer looks so trustworthy. On this, more than falling oil prices or a record Dow, hangs the economy's immediate fate.

[. . .] Construction workers, real estate agents and mortgage bankers will lose jobs. Consumer spending (computers, cars, vacations) will also suffer, as the borrowing and buying against rising real-estate values subsides. Indeed, the end of the cheap credit that fed the boom means that many borrowers will face higher monthly payments.

Fox News: Real Estate: House of Cards or Dose of Reality?

Boston: Fear and anxiety in the housing market:

The Reagans are experiencing the wrenching consequences of being home sellers at the wrong time. They've had several buyers fall through, and have been forced to pull out from buying their own new dream home. They've packed and unpacked, explained to their children why they had to call off a move, and spent many a sleepless night talking about money.

[. . .] Though in a different price zone, Stephen and Dianne Greenstein can relate to Reagan's deflated spirits. The couple's four-story waterfront home, on Nahant's craggy coast, has been on the market for nearly a year. It boasts sweeping views of the Atlantic, several seaside decks, and three fireplaces. But for all of its amenities, the three-bedroom contemporary home has yet to sell -- despite a drop of $326,000 in the asking price. [ephasis added]

Why the Fed is dead wrong on US housing slump?,
The housing market slump has just begun. The market is far weaker than it feels. The builders are nervous like never before. Most importantly many people have started defaulting on their mortgage loans especially the investors.

Normally a bubble like this takes at least a 50% retracement in price before any bottom is over.

... Here is the problem. The real estate market in US in a 70 year cycle. For seventy years the market went up. Baby boomers caused it to happen. Population demographics is always behind any dramatic move in real estate market. However, the cycle down in real estate markets are normally sharp again based on demographics. Unless massive immigration reform takes place in US, the real estate market is destined to accelerate downwards for at least thirty years.

Minnesota: The housing glut

Wallkill NY: Cool housing market drives hot incentives,

Sure, the Orange County housing market is cooling down, but few would ever have thought it would come to this: a free vacation as an incentive for buying a home.
Yep, that's right, get a feww vacatin. You'll need it because you're paying $160,000 for a house that will be "worth" $100,000 next year -- but you will still OWE $160,000!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:23 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 7, 2006

Occupying Hell

The Secret Letter From Iraq is circulating. Go read.

Most Profound Man in Iraq — an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied "Yes, you."

[...] Second Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province — It's a 20,000-way tie among all these Marines and Soldiers who venture out on the highways and through the towns of al-Anbar every day, not knowing if it will be their last — and for a couple of them, it will be.

[. . .] Biggest Hassle — High-ranking visitors. More disruptive to work than a rocket attack. VIPs demand briefs and "battlefield" tours (we take them to quiet sections of Fallujah, which is plenty scary for them). Our briefs and commentary seem to have no effect on their preconceived notions of what's going on in Iraq. Their trips allow them to say that they've been to Fallujah, which gives them an unfortunate degree of credibility in perpetuating their fantasies about the insurgency here.

Go read

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:02 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 6, 2006

Pelosi - "Drain The Swamp"

Pelosi says she would drain GOP 'swamp',

Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds — "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.

All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:06 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 5, 2006

California's Capital Resource Institute -- Isn't This Illegal?

I became aware of California's Capital Resource Institute because they mailed out a "Christians vote your conscience" e-mail today that was remarkably similar to those sent by Dobson's Focus on the Family and others, encouraging people to vote for Republicans without technically using the word "Republican."

When more Christians apply their biblical values at the ballot box, there will be a significant change in our government - more godly leaders will be elected to office and our laws will once again uphold the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage, and religious freedom.

... Just two years ago "Values Voters" made a huge difference in the 2004 election. Together we can make a huge difference in this one too.

Their website states, "Capitol Resource Institute is California's leading pro-family grassroots advocacy group." They are a 501 (c)3 : from their donations page:
Capitol Resource Institute, 1414 K Street, Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95814. Your donations to CRI are tax-deductible under IRS code section 501(c)3.
The advisory board consists of Republican elected officials and a talk show host. Their Voter Information asks "Is Your State Legislator Family-Friendly?" and links to a Republican Party site: [note - PDF] http://www.californiarepublicanassembly.com/pdfs/CRALegislativeScorecard2005.pdf. Republicans score high, Dems score low. Duh.

501 (c)3 tax-exempt organizations are prohibited from conducting partisan operations, as Capital Resource Institute appears to be doing. This organization appears to be little more than a front group for the Republican Party, set up in a way to give tax breaks to party supporters. The Christian Coalition's tax-exempt status was revoked for exactly this reason.

And look who shares the same offices: Pacific Research Institute. (More info here.) From the PRI website:

Sacramento Office:
1414 K Street, Suite 200

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:09 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 4, 2006

Christians will be judged too

The big reason for the anti-gay fervor within the hard right is that it puts down a moral floor. Normal sleazy backsliding Christians can always say "I'm a sinner, I've succumbed to temptation many times and I probably will do so again -- but I've never done anything as disgusting as that. And I never will."

Sleazy Christians think of Jesus the way they think of their connection at the county courthouse -- a get-out-of-hell-free card. "I may not seem like a believer, but Jesus is there when I need him", one scuzzbag told me.

One day the real Christians (wrong-headed as they are in some respects) are going to understand how badly they've been used, and how their combination of self-righteousness, ignorance, and political cynicism (politics is the fallen world, so anything goes there) has caused them to become evil.

Christians will be judged too.

Bonus: Republican Sex Criminals

Posted by John Emerson at 2:51 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October surprise

Billmon says that the naval task force will reach the Persian Gulf about Oct. 21, less than three weeks before the election.

The Democrats should have been warning against an October surprise ever since about March, but it's one of the things they forgot to do. They should start now -- it still might not be too late. The voters need to be told that pre-election military action against Iran will be nothing but electioneering.

The wheels are falling off Bush's cart, and war is the only card he has left.

Posted by John Emerson at 2:47 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

What Is Personal Responsibility?

Personal Responsibility is a tobacco (and other) lobbyist PR slogan that tries to persuade us that children - and the rest of us - should be left on their own, against corporations capable of spending billions of dollars on the very latest methods to get people to do things that are not healthy for them, but which bring immense profits to the companies.

Do we want everyone to be left on their own, in a dog-eat-dog, everyone-out-for-themselves world? Or do we want to stick together and watch out for each other?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:32 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Prices To Drop, Ripple Effect

It hasn't even started yet, and they use the 'D'-word: Housing Prices to Drop, Report Says,

Housing prices, slumping after a five-year boom, are projected to decline in more than 100 of the nation's metropolitan areas...

... The ... firm projects that the median sales price for an existing home will decline in 2007 by 3.6%, which would be the first nationwide decline for an entire year in home prices since the Great Depression of the 1930s. [emphasis added]

This forecast is widely reported, which means that it will be seen by buyers and sellers, and will cause them to adjust their expectations.

Along those lines, a warning to UK investors: US housing market 'in danger zone',

British investors who own property in the United States should take a long-term view on the market and focus on maximising rental income as the US teeters on the brink of a housing market price reversal, says Assetz.

... Stuart Law, managing director of Assetz, said: "The U.S. is definitely in the danger zone but we are not currently certain how severe the downturn will be. Holiday home buyers who are getting regular use out of their property are unlikely to be affected in the long term, but investors who were hoping to sell their property on quickly are no longer set to gain and are likely to face losses if they sell now.

Think UK investors will be showing up to pick up some of that excess inventory and bail us out? Me, neither.

Other stories:

Ripples: Housing chill strikes home -Cabinetmakers, pool suppliers and toolmakers warn as demand faltersI

t's not just homeowners and homebuilders that have a lot to lose if tremors roiling the real estate market turn into a full-scale quake.
Manufacturers of everything from drywall to the kitchen sink are also vulnerable to stagnant or declining sales as fewer houses change hands.
"Do a mental walk around your house and look at appliances and fixtures," to see what companies are exposed to the housing market, said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist for Standard & Poor's.
Arkansas: Housing market slowdown has ripple effect on economy

Florida: Housing permits down 61 percent

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:32 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 3, 2006

Another Way To Spin It

Heh, this is good. What do you do when you have a big problem with a Congressman, and it threatens your party in the upcoming election? The answer is so easy ... just say he ISN'T in your party - he's in the OTHER party! Heh. Heh. Man, they're good.

See the photo at the b side: FOX NEWS LIES!

Heh. Man, they're good.

WHile we're talking about REPUBLICAN Congressman Foley, I saw my favorite-ever first line in a newspaper story today:

Five weeks before a midterm election, when Republicans are already on the ropes, the last thing the GOP needed was a homosexual pedophilia scandal.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:56 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Urban Legends As Propaganda

In 2004 one person may have shouted the word "murderer" at a veteran holding a "Veterans for Bush" sign in a parade. A local columnist wrote about it.

A Google search shows that today, maybe 750 websites refer to the incident. A popular conservative website mentioned it today, writing

"Not that liberals really have any respect for those in uniform."
Remember, ONE person MAY HAVE said something ONCE to someone, and it is now used to reinforce a cult-like belief that liberals-in-general victimize veterans. Some of the sites embellish it into the guy being chased, "pelted," accosted by long-haired mobs...

The right-wing vicitim complex is very strong. They really need to feel persecuted.

But how much of this is JUST word-of-mouth?

A website, bainbridgeislandveteranincident2004, came and went. People posted the story to forums, like this "travel forum," posted with the title, Tour de France "French spectators are spitting at American Lance Armstrong " Just like Kerry voters spitting on Iraqi war Vets.

The story circulates because it is reminiscent of what happened during the Vietnam war when returning soldiers were spat on and called "baby killer." Except there may be a problem with that: one researcher found that there is no evidence that this happened to ANY Vietnam vets - not one documented report that can be verified. That story may have had a little help as well.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:34 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Destroying Workers' Right To Organize Unions

The Bush government just took one more step toward outlawing unions. Today Bush's National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) "Kentucky River Decision" decision removed union organizing rights for millions more workers - this time for nurses by declaring them to be "supervisors" - management. And the ruling might also cover many newspaper and TV employees and trade workers.

AFL-CIO Weblog | Labor Board Ruling May Bar Millions of Workers from Forming Unions,

The Republican-dominated National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) voted along party lines to slash long-time federal labor laws protecting workers’ freedom to form unions and opened the door for employers to classify millions of workers as supervisors. Under federal labor law, supervisors are prohibited from forming unions.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:12 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

All This News -- Will It Matter?

Think about this. The conservatives have been pounding the public with propaganda for more than thirty years, and progressives have not responded at all. So there are people under a certain age who have never - repeat never - heard the case for why someone should vote for a Democrat.

At Talking Points Memo,

Josh writes,Is it me or is all hell breaking loose in this country's politics? We're in the last month of an election cycle and there are maybe four or five stories, each of which could totally dominate the national political news on their own. And each is flaming out of control at once. You've got the Foley debacle. The revelations in the Woodward book. The NIE revelations that almost seem like old news now. A major part of the pre-9/11 story that somehow never saw the light of day and may bring down Condi Rice. And did I mention the election?
Don't forget the polls.

But, will it matter?

First, we have Congressional districts drawn in a way that makes it nearly impossible to oust an incumbent. Next, the public is seriously tuned out with very few voting. The Republican strategy of pounding the public with negativity only reinforces that. Finally, while there are a lot of things in the news that would make one think Republicans aren't going to get votes, I have not seen anything to inspire people to vote for Democracts. In fact, my reading of the public is that they think the problem is that the Republicans are not conservative enough.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:54 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Republicans Haven't Started Yet

Money and turnout is what will win this election. Just ONE Republican group will be putting $20 million into this election. Meanwhile Republican business groups will be getting employees to the polls - and I'm sure they'll be telling them to vote as if their jobs depend on it.

Outside Groups Shoveling Cash Into Tight Races,

On the right, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce plans to allocate $20 million to help federal candidates and another $20 million for state and local races. The American Medical Association is also a serious player. It recently reported $307,125 spent in support of GOP Rep. Johnson in Connecticut.

The generally pro-Republican Business Industry Political Action Committee has a more elaborate scheme. By using companies' electronic communications systems, it has delivered 40 million messages to employees urging them to cast their ballots for pro-business candidates. It has also helped a million citizens register to vote and another million apply for early voting forms.

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

The REAL Path To 9/11

Remember the story that Attorney General Ashcroft stopped flying on commercial airliners a couple of months before 9/11?

Now we learn that there was a CIA warning in July - a meeting at the White House where the head of the CIA tried to get the Bush administration TO DO SOMETHING. And they did nothing. Except Ashcroft -- he stopped flying on commercial airlines.

The Mahablog サ Moment of Truth? lays it all out for you. Go read.

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

October 2, 2006

The People Choose 2006 Is Taking Off!

Go take a look at The People Choose 2006.

Lots of new videos are being submitted. You are invited to submit your own videos covering the 2006 elections.

A couple weeks ago The Wall Street Journal wrote,

"...Video on the Web is going beyond mudslinging. It's also beginning to help inform voters...Startup sites like thepeoplechoose2006.org and election.tv are trying to create video-rich sites that provide information on races throughout the country."-The Wall Street Journal, 9/21/06
Go take a look.

I am on their Board, unpaid.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:16 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

News On Foleygate

Republicans have been trying to make a case that Foleygate was planned by Democrats because CREW had the e-mails some time ago, yet nothing was investigated. However, CREW gave the e-mails to the FBI. So CREW fires back: Breaking: CREW asks DOJ to find out why the FBI did not investigate Foley emails | Citizens Blogging for Responsibility and Ethics In Washington,

Today, CREW asked the Inspector General at the Department of Justice to investigate why the FBI did not pursue an investigation of the Foley emails. CREW received copies of the emails on July 21, 2006 and immediately forwarded them to the FBI. It appears that no investigation took place and CREW wants to know why.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:11 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Nobody Here But Us Rascists

I think the title alone says it all: Townhall.com::Global danger from the Dark Continent,

The African continent - vast, remote, and perhaps strategically unimportant in the minds of many unknowing Americans – is one of the most critical fronts in the global war on terror. And it is for a variety of reasons beyond humanitarian concerns.
CREEPY! But it will drive the base.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:41 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Were Republican Leaders Blackmailing Foley?

One question stands out -- WHY did the Republican leadership keep Foley in place after they learned what he was doing? Mary at Pacific Views asks,Was It Blackmail?,

My answer is what better way to make sure someone does your bidding?

After all, this is the Republican Party built by Tom DeLay, Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed. ... How he was able to hammer the Republicans into doing his bidding. Then consider, what are some things that make people do things that they might not normally do?

Another question to get more insight what might be happening: what did the KGB do when they wanted to turn a spy? They used a couple of approaches: they found something in the private life of the spy to hold over them or they found a way to compromise them with something they wanted. It's one of main reasons that spies are watched for affairs (and being a closeted gay was considered to be a major security risk) or for spending extra money.

Of course go read the whole thing.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:39 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

October 1, 2006

Here's A Hint

From the article Big $$ for Progressive Politics in The Nation:

Between 1972 and 1999, conservatives created at least sixty new organizations with mission statements modeled after that of the Heritage Foundation, a radical think tank at the time of its founding: "free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." When pollster Celinda Lake asked a group of white Midwestern swing voters in 2004 what conservatives stood for, most of them repeated those catchphrases. When she asked the same question about liberals, half the voters responded, "I don't know."
We have to start thinking past each election, and start thinking long term! We should be talking today about how we plan to win the 2008, 2010 and 2012 elections, which groups we need to reach, what they need to understand and appreciate about the benefits to THEM of progressive values -- and how we're going to get them to vote.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:47 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

It's The Turnout, Stupid!

Step one, spend millions to saturate the airwaves with the nastiest, ugliest smears and trash of "negative ads" until NO ONE wants to vote for any Democrat.

Then step two, get your own voters to the polls: Pastors Guiding Voters to GOP - Los Angeles Times,

With a pivotal election five weeks away, leaders on the religious right have launched an all-out drive to get Christians from pew to voting booth. Their target: the nearly 30 million Americans who attend church at least once a week but did not vote in 2004.

... The Rev. Rick Scarborough, a leading evangelical in Texas, has recruited 5,000 "patriot pastors" nationwide to promote an agenda that aligns neatly with Republican platforms. "We urge them to avoid legal entanglement, but there are times in a pastor's life when he needs to take a biblical stand," Scarborough said. "Our higher calling is to Christ."

The campaign encourages individual pastors to use sermons, Bible studies and rallies to drive Christians to the polls — and, by implication or outright endorsement, to Republican candidates. One online guide to discussing the election in church, produced by the Focus on the Family ministry, offers this tip: If a congregant says her top concerns are healthcare and national security, suggest that Jesus would make abortion and gay marriage priorities.

At a recent rally in Pennsylvania, Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson told a crowd of 3,000 that it would be "downright frightening" if Republicans lost control of Congress. If there's a good Christian on the ballot, he said, failing to vote "would be a sin."

... Political preaching has been particularly fervent this season in Ohio, where two conservative mega-churches have promoted the Republican candidate for governor, J. Kenneth Blackwell. They've featured him in at least six rallies that blended patriotic appeals with Christian revival.

... Some of this fall's efforts are aimed at energizing politically active but disillusioned Republicans who might otherwise stay home. But Hanna is particularly eager to reach the 30 million regular churchgoers, and an overlapping group of 19 million evangelicals, who did not vote in 2004. Their indifference to politics is "either a tragedy or a scandal," he said, but he's certain it can be overcome.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:30 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

RW Blogger Wants Republican Congressional Leadership to Resign - Others Defend

Update note - Follow the updates I'm posting, and watch how the right turns this into a full-fledged "October Surprise" plot, entirely the Democrats' fault.

This RW blogger wants the Republican Congressional leadership to resign from their leadership positions. But... but... all they did was cover up for a pedophile! Hastert Knew While Foley Flew,

I cannot tell CQ readers how disgusted I am with Speaker Hastert.

... Hastert should have been a man from the beginning and admit that he knew about Foley. Now he has destroyed any credibility left in his Speakership, and he has only compounded the embarrassment for the GOP caucus. Foley's actions reflect on Foley alone, but thanks to Hastert and perhaps Boehner, the aftermath will reflect on all Republicans in the House.

Republicans have to act swiftly to remove the stench of Foleygate from the party. They need to demand the resignation of Hastert as Speaker, as well as Boehner as Majority Leader if he lied to protect Hastert. Allowing Foley off the hook was a mistake in judgment, but this is a betrayal of those who trusted Hastert to lead the House with dignity, honesty, and integrity.

And another joins him. It’s time for Speaker Hastert to step down,

Denny Hastert, despite being tainted by the stink of scandal, has been a faithful servant of his constituents and his nation since he was first elected to the House in 1986. But lying to the American people, even indirectly through a statement issued by a press office, is beyond the pale. It’s time for the Speaker to step down.
And another, Cold Fury, Foley the Leader,
Keep telling me about how we have to keep voting for these friggin’ child molester protectors just because they aren’t as bad as the Dems.

That’s not some podunk member sticking up for a buddy. That’s your House frickin’ leadership sheltering the boy-loving SOB. He should have been gone within an hour of Boehner and Hastert finding out. Were I in Hastert’s shoes,I’d have been screaming and throwing stuff off Foley’s desk at him. Were I sitting there, they’d have had to call security on me, had Foley not offered his retirement on the spot. Instead, Hastert can’t remember discussing it. Can’t remember discussing the possible child molesting habits, of the Congressman who is vice chair of the task force to fight child molestation and child pr*n? WTF?!?!

If they can’t fire a guy who looks like he’s probably a child molester, what makes you think they’ll be able to take a stand on tough issues on our behalf? They can’t ditch a guy who will jeopardize their election chances six months out, they wait until 30 days before the election? What the hell is wrong with these people. If they can’t even protect their own interests, how do you think they are doing with ours?

No, we don’t need to put the Democrats in office. What we need, is some new Republicans.

Congrats to them.

An update on the shame on them side: Anti-Idiotarian RottweilerFoley’s Follies (UPDATED AGAIN)

“Call me “Independent” from now on.”

But Right Wing Nuthouse calls it a "smear campaign.",

But why let common sense or common decency for that matter spoil a good smear campaign? The muddy hoofprints left by Democrats over the last few years as they have dirtied the reputations of several Republicans who have later turned out to be innocent (Karl Rove in Plamegate for one) reveals a party so totally bereft of ideas that their only hope to take advantage of the monumentally stupid and disastrous Republican leadership is to pray for more Americans to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, hope that gas prices go higher, and wish for an economic downturn.
Macsmind agrees in Foley setup?,
Although not confirmed, it’s being thrown around that ABC’s primary source for the computer chats and emails is the liberal watch dog group CREW.
Significant, because while there is a story about how the GOP leadership knew of Foley’s actions for at least a year, after which he was ordered to stop contact with the teen, there reports that CREW also knew of the allegations months ago. In fact according to reports, CREW had contacted the FBI, and were waiting to go public when ABC posted the story. So the obvious question is “Why wait”? I think it’s obvious they were waiting to have the greatest effect.
It is interesting that CREW now is calling for an independent counsel to look into - not Foley - but the GOP leadership. This less than fourty-eight hours after his resignation. Pretty darn quick I would say, since the facts are still coming out. It’s almost like they had it all ….like, planned.
Say Anything says it’s hysterical: Should Republican Leadership Be Fired Over Foley Mess?,
I think that’s a bit of an overreaction. In fact, I think it’s somewhat hysterical.
However distasteful Foley’s actions are (and this observer finds them unequivocally repugnant) there are some important facts to keep in mind before we throw anyone under the bus.
First, given information available now, it doesn’t appear as though Foley has broken any laws.
Zimbio says Democrats should resign first, in a long post about Studds, Frank, Clinton, etc. Foley, Republican House Cleaning & Democrat Accepting,
But what about the Democrat's history? It doesn't take much to find the history of perverts and criminals in the Democrat party, but what is interesting is what happens to these pervs and criminals when exposed?
Flopping Aces, The Latest Democratic Hitjob,
Was Foley a perv? Most definately so. But the speed with which the Democrats came out swinging at the Republican leadership, accusing them of knowing about the sexually explicit emails long ago, gave me pause. Not because I believed them, but because this has been their modus operendi for every “scandal” for the past 6 years. Every single Democratic hitjob has begun like this and almost every single “scandal” has been proven to be nothing more then netroots stomping their feet shrilling crying “but those big bad evil Republicans just have to be wrong!”
Amy Proctor,Republican Congressman Resigns,
However, there’ll be no listening to lectures on morality by the likes of Nancy Pelosi or any other Democrat on this blog until Democrats condemn…
Justbarkingmad, What did CREW know and when did they know it?
CREW stands for Citzens for Resposibility and Ethics in Washington. As we’ll see they are neither responsible nor ethical. There is something even sicker than Mark Foley’s online sexual advances against a minor. It is CREW’S decision to make the knowledge of this an October Surprise. Which Rick Moran hints at in his Update II.
The truly depraved in this disgusting affair are not Foley, or the local papers; it is CREW which withheld information that Foley had gone beyond relatively innocuous emails into full fledged sexual stalking mode.
… It is mind boggling to know that some people will put their desire to see “their side” win over the safety of children.
Alabama Liberation Front: Foley: It gets worse
Down a ways in the post: “Is this some kind of Democratic "October surprise"? If Foley was hitting on 16-year-old boys a year ago, why didn't we find out about it until five weeks before Election Day?”
OK, a new theme is REALLY taking of - this is ALL a Democrat plot: Right Wing Nuthouse: THE WEBSITE THAT STARTED IT ALL - STRANGE BUT TRUE,
CREW is a liberal public interest group funded by George Soros and seems to have its fingerprints all over this scandal.
Blue Crab Boulevard, A Question Of Timing, Dems are, if anything, "even more guilty":
If the finger is being pointed at the House leadership for doing nothing, then anyone who sat on much more damning information until just before an election for political purposes is, if anything, even more guilty.
Don Surber, Lefty glee over Foley is hypocritical,
But before lefties get too high and mighty, let me remind them of that little double standard going on here. McGreevey is getting away with sexual harrassment. He got to go on “Oprah” and pretend he was the victim.

Not saying two wrongs make a right.

I am saying if lefties want a good look at a hypocrite, they might try looking in the mirror.

Ace of Spades HQ: Republican Leadership Knew Something About Foley Scandal Months Ago,
Questioning the Timing: Of course this disclosure is perfectly timed to impact the upcoming elections.
The left, though, won't note this true question-the-timing situation. Not many on the right are even bothering to note it.
Which makes sense. The Democrats hardly had any obligation to time the disclosure in order to help the GOP, now did they?
Questioning The Timing II: ... If we're talking cover-up-- what precisely did the Democrats know, and when did they know it? I wrote above they had no obligation to time the revelation of this to do anything except damage the Republicans -- at least in political terms.

But what about in law-enforcement/protect the children terms?

If Democratic operatives, and therefore, presumably, the DNC itself, had the full details of this months or even a year ago, did they allow a pederast to roam free for a year purely for partisan advantage?

Did the Democrats know more than the GOP did, and if so, didn't they have an obligation to share this evidence with the police, a year ago, and not just ABCNews a month out from an election?

The American Thinker: Foley and the Blame Game,
What we do know is that reputable media and the Republican leadership acted appropriately on the initial innocuous correspondence and could not proceed further in view of the parents’ demand that their son’s privacy be respected only to find months later just before the election that same correpondence showing up on an unlikely blog site and then almost simultaneously on ABC and on C.R.E.W.’s site. As for the demand that a special prosecutor be appointed, maybe Patrick Fitzgerald can be appointed. Then he can fail to ask ABC or C.R.E.W. how they got the correspondence, ignore their political motivations, conflate their partisanship with “whistleblowing”, not look for the sources of the later sexually explicit emails, and nab Hastert for forgetting when he went to the bathroom on the day he heard about the emails.
HotAir: Did Hastert know last year that Foley was a pervert? Update: Pelosi wants GOP questioned under oath (Bumped),
I hate having to defend Hastert, partly because he’s a jackass and partly because it’s bad form to defend anyone in any way associated with a child molestation scandal, no matter how much the facts are in their favor. But I think he’s getting a raw deal here, at least based on what we know thus far.
[. . .] Now that we’ve dispensed with that, go read this post at Moran’s and pay special attention to Update II. Who was ABC’s source for those e-mails? And for how long, exactly, was that source sitting on them while filthy Mark Foley was busy ogling the pages?
[. . .] Update: Maguire notes that dKos was awfully far ahead of the curve in picking this story up and says he smells a rat. Meanwhile, according to Fox, Nancy Pelosi has issued a statement calling on the GOP House leadership to be questioned about what they knew and when they knew it — under oath.
Late Afternoon Update -- Wingnuts entirely migrate to habitual victimhood: GOP Bloggers: What Did The Media Know About Foley And How Long Did They Know It?,
Well, perhaps it's time to ask the media "what did you know, and when did you know it?"
And Flopping Aces descends into full-scale wingnuttery in Foleygate Has Begun
I hearby declare shananigans…..get your broomsticks fellas.
That’s not all of it, apparently some commentors to JustOneMinute believe they know who the owner of the blog is, one Jason Leopold
… Where in the world are the Democrats going to end up on this?


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