March 30, 2007
In 2006 people voted against Republicans, not for Democrats. Never forget this.
The 2006 election taught Republicans that people vote against headlines about corruption and war. Republicans were being investigated and indicted for corruption so people voted against them.
So they are taking steps to change the playing field for 2008. This is what the Justice Department scandal is about. The prosecutors who did "play ball" -- drop investigations into Republican corruption and investigate "administration priorities" -- were allowed to stay and the ones who did their jobs were fired.
If the Republicans have their way with this -- and that means if ANY of the 93 current prosecutors stay in that job -- the public will be reading about dozens and dozens of Democrats being investigated and indicted for corruption even though they are completely innocent, while corrupt Republicans will be given a free ride to continue to raid the Treasury (while of course giving a "finders fee" to The Party.) And if this is what is happening in 2008 the public will vote against Democrats. It's as simple as that.
The only way to stop this is to replace all 93 Bush prosecutors with honest people, and clean out the entire Justice Department.
Meanwhile, the supporting infrastructure that surrounds the Democratic Party -- unfunded blogs and poorly-funded progressive organizations and very few poorly-funded think tanks -- is still failing to reach out to the general public with reasons to vote for Democrats.
Broadcasting pictures of the captured British sailors and marines is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Unlike the United States, England has not withdrawn from that treaty.
We face here another example of the consequences of Bush's violation of the compact between a democracy and its leaders. When the leader of your country says he has information that we face imminent attack, you must believe him. Bush did this to lead us into an attack on Iraq, and was lying. So now Bush tells us that Iran is a threat to peace - and it probably is, as this recent action demonstrates. But we can not believe Bush and we can not trust that there is no hidden agenda involved.
As I have said before, if Bush and the Right's claims about Iran come out of true concern for the country, then Bush must step aside. We must have leadership that the people can trust to tell us this is so.
March 29, 2007
It's not just "subprimes" that are in trouble. See Mortgage crisis hits million-dollar homes, page 2
"Everyone's looking at subprime. The rock they aren't looking under are the adjustable rate mortgages and teaser rates and low money-down loans," said Mark Kiesel, a portfolio manager for Pacific Investment Management Co., the world's biggest bond manager. "It's going to affect prime as well."In fact, it's everywhere. Subprimes are the tip -- now the iceberg is coming into view.
Josh Rosner, managing director at investment research firm Graham Fisher & Co., says the growing numbers of foreclosures outside the subprime market is just the start.
"To define the problem as a subprime problem is short-sighted," Rosner said. "It's really seeing the tip of the iceberg as the iceberg."
In the New Terrified America, many parents think that pedophile sexual predators lie in wait around every corner, hoping to snatch their kids away. Some parents won't let their kids play outside anymore. Some schools won't allow kids to walk to school without a parent. I think it's idiotic, but it seems to have become the cultural norm now.
Go read FEAR, FEAR, FEAR... (read the comments, too. And an aside - in the comments note how right-wingers feel perfectly free to just make up stuff about "trial lawyers" and expect to be believed.)
A comment. A child is about 10,000 times more likely to be hurt or killed in a car than kidnapped by a sexual predator. (There are about 100 cases of kidnapping by sexual predators in the United States per year. About 1 in 7700 of us die in cars each year, about 1 in 1000 of us are injured each year.) Motor vehicles are the leading cause of death in children in the United States. So what does this fear cause parents to do? They put their kids in cars.
I watch some television, and last year (leading up to the election) almost every show seemed to be about child molesters...
Question for discussion -- this really, really serves the interests of authoritarians who want people to be afraid. So is it intentional? Is America being whipped into a frenzy of fear on purpose?
Monica Goodling, one of the Republican commissars responsible for misleading Congress about the US Attorney firings, is a graduate of Messiah College and Regent University. The goal of Regent University ("The nation's academic center for Christian thought and action") is to combine quality education with biblical teachings and produce "Christian leaders who will change the world".
In other words, it's a training school for Christian political operatives. The webpage doesn't mention any affiliation other than with Pat Robertson, but it seems obvious from Goodling's behavior that these schools are strongholds of the famous Lying Baptists.
God works in wondrous ways. If Jesus could turn water into wine, he can turn crooks into believers and believers into crooks. Praise Him!
March 28, 2007
Sidney Blumenthal, in Follow the e-mails | Salon.com writes about the secret trove of White House e-mails that were routed through Republican Party servers in an attempt to avoid Congress ever forcing disclosure of illegal activities by government officials.
The first glimmer of this dodge appeared in a small item buried in a January 2004 issue of U.S. News & World Report: "'I don't want my E-mail made public,' said one insider. As a result, many aides have shifted to Internet E-mail instead of the White House system. 'It's Yahoo!, baby,' says a Bushie."This use of outside e-mail accounts to conduct government business is probably not legal.
When I worked in the Clinton White House, people brought in their personal computers if they were engaged in any campaign work, but all official transactions had to be done within the White House system as stipulated by the Presidential Records Act of 1978. (The PRA requires that "the President shall take all such steps as may be necessary to assure that the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of his constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties are adequately documented and that such records are maintained as Presidential records.") Having forsaken the use of Executive Office of the President e-mail, executive privilege has been sacrificed. Moreover, Rove's and the others' practice may not be legal.
March 27, 2007
This Kos diary, Daily Kos: The Strange Hire of Monica Goodling, makes a huge point about that DOJ Spokesperson who is pleading the 5th. How did a 1999 graduate of unknown Regent University "Christian Leadership to Change the World" law school (after attending Messiah College) get appointed to the high level and profile job of Department of Justice Spokesperson in the first place?
I'm trying to square these appointments with the notion of competent governance. The fevered pronunciations of doom by this administration would dictate that an important slot like this be filled by someone with experience and gravitas, someone of proven competence whose advice could be relied on by the AG - not some inexperienced, weirdly trained neophyte whose law credentials are weak and who was selected in order to toss a banquet of bones to the noisy fringe of the party.Apparently the only qualifications needed to rise to a high level in our government are that you are indoctrinated into The Party early, and uninfluenced by real-world experience. Competence in governance is not required.
March 26, 2007
Iran has captured 15 British sailors and marines and says they are "interrogating" them. The fear is that the Iranians might follow the example set by the United States for "interrogation" procedures. Digby said what many of us have been thinking,
I can't believe we are in the position of having to hope the Iranians show more restraint and good sense than Dick Cheney, but we are.
Here's the thing. Last week lenders tightened requirements for getting a loan. This means that fewer people can get loans now for buying houses. So demand for houses is about to drop -- a lot. The drop in sales reflects the month before this tightening so things can only get worse.
We have an increase in supply and a big decrease in demand. That can only -- ONLY -- mean a drop in housing prices is coming. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
Remember that we're also in a subprime mortgage crisis -- people who could not afford to buy a house were given loans they could not afford, and now it's turning out that they can't afford them and they are losing their houses to foreclosure. (And the lenders are going bankrupt.) But with today's news about lower sales and higher inventories, this will push even more into foreclosure because they won't be able to sell their houses before it is too late. And THAT puts even MORE houses on the market.
This could turn into an accelerating downward spiral. This could get really bad - worse than the "S&L Crisis" of the 1980s and early 90s.
Here's the (next) thing -- as I said above, lenders are going bankrupt. If you are lucky enough to have savings instead of debt you should check whether you have money in any "money market" accounts, and whether those accounts are FDIC insured. If they are NOT FDIC insured you can lose some or all of your money.
March 25, 2007
This is an important post about an important time in the history of our nation.: MyDD :: Myths About Moveon
I don't know if the supplemental is a major step forward or not. I know it won't end the war, since this was has been coming for sixty years and is part and parcel of a militaristic political structure that we must and are working to disassemble within both parties. But it is a major step forward in terms of our movement, as we affirmatively passed a significant piece of legislation through a House which, while full of some new blood, saw its Democratic membership grow by only 20% in 2006. Moveon was true to its members in helping this happen.
... Now, in a larger and more important sense, we all own the war. It's our war. American attacked Iraq. Voting against funding or this bill or for impeachment or anything else does not exempt you from responsibility for America's actions in the world. That's what it means to live in a liberal democracy; citizens get a say in things but also have to take responsibility for the actions of the state even when we don't agree with what the state is doing. That means that Moveon, or anyone else, isn't 'selling out' when we participate in the political process. There is a set of political institutions, and you either participate in them or you don't, but you are responsible for the war as an American regardless.
March 24, 2007
March 23, 2007
Regular readers know that I'm always interested in what the public "knows." This tells you a lot about where the public gets its information.
I'm looking for polling on public beliefs about Iraq being connected to the 9/11 attacks.
Last September, FIVE years after the war, Sept. 2006 Zogby International poll has 46% of the public believing that Iraq was connected to the 9/11 attack - with 65% of Republicans believing this and even 32% of Democrats.
Has anyone seen more recent polling.
Today's Heading Left Blog Talk Radio show which I guest-hosted with Nate Wilcox, with guests Gina Cooper of YearlyKos, McJoan of DailyKos and Matt Bai of the New York Times Magazine is now available for listening.
You can listen to the show here.
This week we are talking to Gina Cooper of YearlyKos Matt Bai of the New York Times Magazine and McJoan of DailyKos. The show is titled "Where the Blogs Meet the Mainstream." From Heading Left:
Matt Bai of the New York Times Magazine and Gina Cooper of YearlyKos, and DailyKos front-page writer McJoan will be the special guests on Heading Left’s Blog Talk Radio show. This should be a very interesting show. Aside from his upcoming book on Democratic politics, Bai and McJoan will be moderating “an unprecedented forum featuring potential 2008 presidential candidates during the second annual YearlyKos Convention on August 4th in Chicago.” Bai’s book, “The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics”, is scheduled for release in early September 2007. Also, “Dr. Jeffrey Feldman, author and blogger at Frameshopisopen.com, will ask questions submitted in advance from tens of thousands of blog readers and will facilitate questions from convention attendees.” Tune in tomorrow and feel free to call in at (646) 652-4803 to speak with Matt Bai, McJoan, and Gina Cooper. This should be an exciting show, hosted by Nate Wilcox of HeadingLeft and guest host Dave Johnson of SeeingtheForest filling in for the vacationing James Boyce.
I was on a panel at UC Berkeley this week with some political reporters from TV and newspapers. (I will write more about this soon.) I represented the voice of the people - the scary bloggers.
One question was about the concentration of media into fewer and fewer corporate hands. I said that one result is that you no longer see union voices represented in the major media, and that you will never hear the case for why people should join unions and the benefits people receive from union membership, and that this amounts to outright censorship. You just can not expect corporations to allow this case to be presented. This really upset the journalists. The audience - US Berkeley students heading to summer intern jobs in Washington - loved it.
One of the panelists offered that the reason you don't get the union viewpoint is that so few Americans are members of unions. It was worded, "How many Americans are members of unions?" I responded, "How many Americans work for a living?"
Then I asked, "How any Americans are CEOs?" One of the panelists offered that the decisions CEOs make affect all of us, so it is important to cover the viewpoints of CEOs.
What I wish I had said was, "Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't the decisions all of us make affect CEOs? Isn't that how a DEMOCRACY should operate?"
Headline sounds great, no? Home Sales Rise Unexpectedly in Feb. But what about the story?
The increase pushed sales up to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.69 million units, still 3.6 percent lower than a year ago. Sales fell by 8.5 percent for all of last year as housing hit a sharp slowdown after setting sales records for five straight years.So the real story is year-over-year sales are down 3.6 percent and EVERYONE expects things to get worse.
... "Sales cannot be sustained at this level, which is way above the pace implied by mortgage applications," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at High Frequency Economics.
The price of a median home sold last month dropped to $212,800, down by 1.3 percent from the same month in 2006. It marked a record seven straight months that the median home prime has fallen compared to the same period a year ago.
... "Our view is that the tightening in the subprime market will have a negative impact on home sales," Lereah said. "It probably won't postpone the recovery (in housing) but it will slow it." [emphasis added]
Nice headline, though.
March 22, 2007
I wrote this a few hours ago:
What are the odds that one of our winger friends will find a way to say something horrible about Elizabeth Edwards' cancer? I say 50/50. It's a bridge too far for almost all of them, but probably not all.
I decided to hold it back, but I shouldn't have. There were immediately a lot of nasty comments, even at the centrist Politico site.
The worst have been deleted (one them called Elizabeth Edwards a "beard", implying that she was helping her husband hide his true sexual identity), but the ones below are bad enough.
And I haven't even gone to Free Republic or Little Green Footballs yet.
Update: The nastiness keeps on coming:
Its sooooo funny to see so-called "free speech" liberals demonize folks who believe this is a publicity stunt by the Edward's campaign. These are probably the same folks who wished for Cheney's death and then hid behind "free specch" when they were criticized. The leftists in the crowd are such hypocrites, but too self-centered to recognize it. So, so sad. Edwards is a shiester lawer who made his $$ suing doctors and now he needs one - what karma.
to pkj: And how is issuing a televised press conference going to make his supporters/money contributors feel any better, then a press release would? Is he going to return the money to them all if he completely drops out? What is your logic behind the televised conference?
I agree that a live press conference is a bit extreme. Although I respect his decision to suspend his campaign for sake of his wife's health concerns, one must ask Would Edwards go to such lengths if he had a commanding double-digit lead in the polls? I question the timing of this announcement and the necessity of what appears to be the grandstanding of a very personal, private matter. I wonder how many Edwards advisors consider this a fortuitous opportunity to acknowledge the inevitable. A brilliant strategy for throwing in the towel, admitting "defeat" with a sense of dignity, but surviving politically - at least enough to perhaps fight another day.
Edwards has been trailing Obama and Clinton in the campaign. I think he's a very smart and calculating person. What if Edwards is using his wife's health as a way to kick start his campaign again? He announces that he's dropping out or putting the campaign on hold. Lots of Press Coverage. Everyone is touched by him putting his family first. He get's lots of Sympathy and support from the public and his supporters that they understand and think it's the right thing to do. Then he throws his hat back into the race because his wife tells him that the country really needs him to run. His supporters are thrilled to have him back in the race. Even More Exposer. What a great story. My only question is this. If John Edwards becomes president and his wife has serious health issues would it be right for him to step down as President to take care of his Family? I think it probably would. However, Do I want to vote for a candidate that may have important personal family issues to deal with that could distract him from doing the best possible job as our president. The answer is "no".
The announcement is live right now on TV. Elizabeth Edwards cancer is back, spreading into bones - a rib, not curable but treatable. Minimal spread so far, no real symptoms. She cracked a rib which led to a chest X-ray which saw cancer somewhere else Many patients in similar circumstances have lived many years. Positive attitude, etc. Encouraged... Life will not be significantly different but will be seeing doctor much more often.
The campaign continues. No intention of cowering in the corner. She will campaign with him.
Elizabeth: It's (the campaign) not about John Edwards. The people they have met, every even, someone cried on her shoulder about the state of their life. They don't have the wonderful support that she has an no place to turn so it is unbelievable important that they get this campaign right. Can't deprive the people of having a president like Edwards simply because she wants to sit at home.
John: Yesterday was not a good day for us. Not shockingly to anyone who knows Elizabeth all she wanted to talk about was John, the children and the country. Not a word about her.
Elizabeth: John came home after she hurt her back, gave her a big hug, she heard a pop.
John: Actually I was beating her. (Fox News/Drudge Headline will probably be: "Edwards Broke Wife's Rib During Beating")
Update - Hillary Clinton has a great tribute to Elizabeth Edwards on her site.
March 21, 2007
On the March 19 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, host Rush Limbaugh highlighted a March 19 Los Angeles Times op-ed that described Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as "running for an equally important unelected office, in the province of the popular imagination -- the 'Magic Negro'" -- a term used by critics of pop culture to describe certain benevolent African-American characters. Limbaugh stated: "The term 'Magic Negro' has been thrown into the political presidential race in the mix for 2008.It was based on an offensive column in the LA Times. So now the LA Times is offensive enough to provide content for the Limbaugh show?
... Limbaugh continued to refer to Obama as the "Magic Negro" throughout the broadcast -- 27 times, to be exact -- and at one point sang "Barack, the Magic Negro" to the tune of "Puff, the Magic Dragon." Limbaugh defended his use of the song, stating, "Well, that's what we always do here. We do parodies and satires on the idiocy and phoniness of the left."
Update Am I reading the LA Times column wrong?
The latest Republican line is that Congress can't require White House aides to testify, that it would "violate precedent," etc. So see Think Progress - FACT CHECK: There Is No Precedent Barring White House Aides From Testifying To Congress,
...under President Clinton, 31 of his top aides testified on 47 different occasions. The aides who testified included some of Clinton’s closest advisors:Hat tip to Digby who asks,Harold Ickes, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff - 7/28/94In contrast, between 2000 and 2004, Bush allowed only one of his closest advisers, then-Assistant to the President for Homeland Security Tom Ridge, to appear in front of Congress. He has also refused three invitations from Congress for his aides to testify, a first since President Richard Nixon in 1972. Clinton did not refuse any.
George Stephanopoulos, Senior Adviser to the President for Policy and Strategy - 8/4/94
John Podesta, Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary - 8/5/94
Bruce R. Lindsey, Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel to the President - 1/16/96
Samuel Berger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs - 9/11/97
Beth Nolan, Counsel to the President - 5/4/00
Meanwhile, virtually all the reporters on NBC seem to not know that numerous very close white house advisors were hauled before congress during the Clinton administration. Can't somebody get them an intern?
March 20, 2007
What do people "know?" If you are reading this you are probably a hyper-informed citizen. But what about the rest of us? What information reaches the public?
Progressive blogs reach progressives. Right-wing blogs are part of a noise machine that is designed to reach and influence the general public.
Right-wing blogs are tied into the conservative movement's larger "noise machine" information apparatus. This is why we see successful results when the right launches an information campaign. They echo or are echoed through every channel through which the public receives information -- by Limbaugh, Fox News, Drudge, and funded outreach into other channels, and their politicians are part of the coordinated process. So their message gets out there and the public "knows" what they want them to know. A very good example is what happened to Dan Rather. The public "knows" that Dan Rather "tried to smear President Bush" with "forged documents." In fact the origin of the documents is still unknown, and forged or not, the underlying story was factual.
It would benefit us to keep in mind that progressive blogs have a limited reach and that we need to keep looking to extend that reach. There is no progressive noise machine. There is no coordination. There is no funded outreach to the general public. Democratic politicians likely as not fear blogs and tend not to join in a coordinated messaging efforts. Yes, progressive blogs are read by media figures, informed opinion leaders and public officials, and that is very important. But we have very little effect on what the general public "knows." Only after shrill repetition for several days or weeks across the entire blogosphere does an important story even begin to reach into the traditional corporate media.
Current example - the prosecutor scandal. On the Heading Left Blog Talk Radio Show last week Nate mentioned that there was wide coverage of the scandal over firing US Attorneys who wouldn't play ball and drop investigations of Republican corruption or wouldn't falsely accuse Democrats of crimes. But in my own local paper there was only a short article on page 6, and it repeated verbatim White House talking points that the firings were "handled badly," that the President "has the right to hire and fire prosecutors," and that "Clinton fired all 93 prosecutors while Bush fired only 8."
Older example: What is the current percentage of Americans who think Iraq attacked us n 9/11? It's probably still very high - considering that Iraq didn't. What is the percentage who think we found the WMD?
Older example: The Downing Street Memo received constant, ongoing attention in blogs but I don't think it ever really broke through into the traditional corporate media.
So yes, progressive bloggers have an effect, but let's not get ahead of ourselves in our understanding of the effect we have.
The beginning of a solution lies in joining with progressive politicians to carry the message to a wider audience. Then a story can begin to be driven into the corporate media. Recent example: The Fox News Nevada Democratic Presidential Debate. Visit MyDD and scroll backwards through the history of Matt Stoller's effort to get the Democratic candidates to back away from Fox News. It worked. But more than that - much more - when Democratic political leaders joined with the blogs to drive the message the result was much bigger than just another intra-blog discussion. Fox News was exposed as little more than a Republican Party mouthpiece. Their credibility and brand suffered and the public began to get a glimpse into the nature of this propaganda network.
Sen. Arlen Specter presents himself as an independent, moderate Republican. On the other hand, his staff was supposedly responsible for the provision in the PATRIOT act revision allowing the appointment of US Attorneys without Senate confirmation. He has even claimed that this was done without his knowledge and that one of his new staffers sneaked the provision in without his knowledge. (Rather implausible deniability, in my opinion).
The email below from the recent document dump (as reported on this TPMuckraker thread) suggests that he was and remains the Bush Administration's tool. (The email was written immediately after the Democrats took power; I'm not sure what bill is being discussed.)
From Rebecca Seidel, January 25, 2007, 5:10 PM
Just got off the phone with Matt Miner on Specter's staff who called to discuss the hearing....[Miner asked for various sorts of information]....Re the bill: he is organizing a Republican amendment so that they have one strategy and the Democrats don't divide and conquer. He asked if we have any amendments to please draft and get to him.
I re-sent him the talking points (as he had given his copy away - he realized we had a lot of info in there.)
It isn't news to most Democrats that Specter is a Bush tool, but he's been fairly successful at presenting himself to the public as an open-minded free agent. Maybe the new information will convince a few people that he's something quite different.
March 19, 2007
It must be so difficult to be a right wingnut... with all the enemies under the bed that you have to keep track of. It used to be the Bush admin. CIA or State Department that was classified as "enemies of the (Bush) state." Today it's part of of the Bush admin. Justice Department.
Read Watch Your Back, (which title steals one of Seeing the Forest's regular closing lines),
As another Department of Justice paper dump related to the botched firings of eight U.S. Attorneys takes place on Capitol Hill today, it is becoming increasingly clear that Department of Justice insiders have been using the controversy to perpetrate what some Bush Administration loyalists are calling a "coup." Those activities appear to be occurring in the offices of the Deputy Attorney General and the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.And get this, while people in the country are concerned that US Attorneys were fired for refusing to advance Republican corruption, Senate Republicans are using their power to investigate the whistleblowers:
The Republican staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, is looking into improper sharing of Department of Justice personnel records by career DOJ employees with members of the legal community.Right-wing blog Redstate jumps in:
"We've seen evidence that some state and federal judges with ties to the Democrat Party were given personnel and performance review materials about certain U.S. Attorneys across the country," says a Judiciary Committee staffer. "Some of the review materials were never seen by the Attorney General and his staff, but were reviewed within the Deputy Attorney General's office, as well as by professional staff at the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys. [The leaks were] clearly part of a campaign to embarrass the U.S. Attorneys."
Over the weekend I put up this post about a coup at the Department of Justice against Alberto Gonzales.Also right-wing blog Wizbang with A coup in the Attorney General's Office?
Eating a plant-based diet is an easy, cheap way to end animal cruelty and clean up the environment. Why, then, are so many progressives still clinging to their chicken nuggets?It's also so much healthier.
March 18, 2007
March 17, 2007
A DailyKos Diary, Do Conservatives out donate Progressives? Yes, says new book.
I just finished reading a book that every progressive needs to read, “The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism: Who Really Cares”, by Professor Arthur Brooks of Syracuse University. Brooks, who confesses (maybe too much) that he is a long-time liberal, has done an in-depth analysis of charitable giving in the US and the picture that emerges is not pretty for progressives. Bluntly, Brooks’ findings are that conservatives give more – a lot more – than liberals.I think it's true. Do you?
And does it matter? YES!
Progressives will need a strong philanthropic worldview if they are going to create the communications infrastructure they will need to win America’s hearts and minds in the long term . Unless progressives can match conservatives in donations and volunteer time, Progressives may never be able to move the country from a 50-50 split electorate to a more liberal one.
March 16, 2007
This KOS diary brings up a very interesting fact: ONLY the President can fire US Attorneys. But Bush has denied making specific recommendations.
From the diary,
President Bush made "no recommendations on specific individuals," Snow said. "We don't have anything to indicate the president made any calls on specific us attorneys."But, also from the diary,
On Monday, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino acknowledged that complaints about the job performance of prosecutors occasionally came to the White House and were passed on to the Justice Department, perhaps including some informally from Bush to Gonzales.
28 U.S.C.541 provides as follows:So either Bush fired them, or they were fired illegally.
Sec. 541. United States attorneys
(a) The President shall appoint, by and with the advice and consent
of the Senate, a United States attorney for each judicial district.
(b) Each United States attorney shall be appointed for a term of
four years. On the expiration of his term, a United States attorney
shall continue to perform the duties of his office until his successor
is appointed and qualifies.
(c) Each United States attorney is subject to removal by the
Yesterday I co-hosted Heading Left's Blog Talk Radio show, sitting in for James Boyce. Nate Wilcox and I talked with Bobby Muller of Veterans for America and John Aravosis of AmericaBlog.
GO GET YOU SOME DAVE! Click here to listen to the show now.
I am watching the CIA Leak hearing on C-SPAN right now. You should, too.
March 15, 2007
Do you remember the recent national media flap over supposed "liberal" commenters at Huffington Post supposedly being sorry that a suicide bomber missed Vice President Cheney during his visit to Afghanistan? Never mind that the Huffington Post immediately deleted the comments, and never mind that there were suspicions that the commenters were actually right-wingers setting the Huffington Post up for the story.
Well the very same blogs that drove that story into the national news are chock full of comments today praising al Qeuda terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for plotting to kill former Presidents Carter and Clinton. And those comments are not only not deleted, they come from regulars, and remain.
Will this also become a national media story? Of course not - IOKIYAR!
In the post Support for al-Qaida plots on large right-wing blog, Glenn Greenwald has the story.
But commenters at Little Green Footballs have not only expressed surprise, but outright support, for Mohammed's assassination plot against a former U.S. President. They are out in droves expressing sorrow that Al Qaeda did not have the opportunity to carry out its plot.
I'm not kidding, this US Attorneys scandal has them so desperate that they're back on that stuff.
4/93 - WacoReally, you have to go see it for yourself.
5/93 - Travel Gate
7/93 - Vince Foster shows up dead - shot in the head - in the park (much more here).
All of which were easy to sweep under the carpet as the DOJ had a completely freshman class of US Attorneys (especially in Arkansas).
The US Attorney scandal is not about miscommunication of the reasons for the firings. This is what the US Attorney scandal is about:
Bush fired US Attorneys:
1) To block investigations into Republican corruption.
2) For refusing to launch sham investigations of Democrats who were innocent of any and all accusations.
For example, the prosecutor who indicted Duke Cunningham was fired.
And before THIS round of firings, there was this: Bush picks Abramoff prosecutor for federal judgeship / Democrats wonder about the timing of president's move,
..Hillman's departure from the Justice Department creates a vacancy at the top of the Abramoff investigation only three weeks after Abramoff, once one of the city's most powerful Republican lobbyists and a major fund-raiser for Bush, announced his guilty plea and agreed to testify against others, possibly including members of Congress.And how many indictments of others, based on Abramoff's testimony, followed the exit of this prosecutor?
There are serious Republican corruption scandals out there, but now there are no US Attorneys who will investigate them. And here's the thing - if things do not change, in the months before the 2008 elections the public will be hearing about lots of Democrats being indicted for corruption.
Watch your backs!
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Thursday there was a risk that rising defaults in subprime mortgage markets could spill over into other economic sectors.Duh! You take away a big percentage of buyers by tightening the rules about who can get a mortgage at the very same time as inventory is rising, and OF COURSE prices have to fall. DUH!
Speaking to the Futures Industry Association, Greenspan conceded it was "hard to find any such evidence" about spillover from housing yet, but added: "You can't take 10 percent out of mortgage originations without some impact."
He said that subprime woes were "not a small issue" and seemed to result primarily from buyers coming into lofty housing markets late after big price run-ups that had left them vulnerable to hikes in adjustable mortgage rates.And the good news?
Default rates in the subprime segment of the U.S. mortgage market have jumped in recent months as the housing industry slowed and prices fell.
At least 20 lenders in the subprime mortgage sector, which serves borrowers with poor credit histories at high interest rates, have gone out of business as a result.
The crisis has triggered broader concerns that the fallout may spread to mainstream lenders and damage the economy.
He also noted the problem would be quickly resolved if the housing sector regained its footing and prices moved up by 10 percent.Right. Prices at the highest ever, fewer buyers, high inventory, and things will be fine IF prices go up. OF COURSE they'll be fine if prices go up. But at the top of a bubble it's ALWAYS fine if prices go up. But they won't.
The situation in Iraq would be fine if Shiites and Sunnis gave each other a big hug, too. But they won't.
I will be guest-hosting the Heading Left BlogTalkRadio show today at 11:00AM PDT / 2:00PM EDT.
Heading Left's Nate Wilcox and guest host Dave Johnson talk to Bobby Muller, of Veterans for America and John Aravosis of AmericaBlog.Click here for more detailed information. The call-in number is (646) 652-4803.
The vast majority of American voters believe media bias is alive and well – 83% of likely voters said the media is biased in one direction or another, while just 11% believe the media doesn’t take political sides, a recent IPDI/Zogby Interactive poll shows.Even 17% of Democrats believe the media is left-wing.
... Nearly two-thirds of those online respondents who detected bias in the media (64%) said the media leans left, while slightly more than a quarter of respondents (28%) said they see a conservative bias on their TV sets and in their column inches.
... While 97% of Republicans surveyed said the media are liberal, two-thirds of political independents feel the same, but fewer than one in four independents (23%) said they saw a conservative bias.
March 14, 2007
The other day I wrote about the "Clinton fired 93 US attorneys" nonsense. It must have "tested well" with an important target group that the right wants to bamboozle, because now you're hearing it repeated everywhere.
First, in the current scandal Bush fired US Attorneys: (according to the fired US Attys themselves, as well as White House e-mails obtained yesterday)
1) Specifically to block investigations into Republican corruption investigations.
2) For refusing to launch sham investigations of Democrats who were innocent of any and all accusations.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AGAnd tell friends and relatives about this as well.
MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2001
TDD (202) 514-1888
WHITE HOUSE AND JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
BEGIN U.S. ATTORNEY TRANSITION
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Continuing the practice of new administrations, President Bush and the Department of Justice have begun the transition process for most of the 93 United States Attorneys.
Attorney General Ashcroft said, "We are committed to making this an orderly transition to ensure effective, professional law enforcement that reflects the President 's priorities."
In January of this year, nearly all presidential appointees from the previous administration offered their resignations. Two Justice Department exceptions were the United States Attorneys and United States Marshals.
Prior to the beginning of this transition process, nearly one-third of the United States Attorneys had already submitted their resignations. The White House and the Department of Justice have begun to schedule transition dates for most of the remaining United States Attorneys to occur prior to June of this year. President Bush will make announcements regarding his nominations to the Senate of new United States Attorneys as that information becomes available. Pending confirmation of the President's nominees, the Attorney General will make appointments of Interim United States Attorneys for a period of 120 days (28USC546). Upon the expiration of that appointment, the authority rests with the United States District Court (28USC546(d)).
BUSH fired all the US Attorneys when he came into office. So does EVERY President. It has nothing to do with the current scandal.
The right is still writing about the "freedom" to smoke wherever you want to, regardless of the effects on the health of others. The tobacco money must still be flowing...
The cost to nonsmokers to impose their will on smokers, say, in a restaurant, bar or airplane, is zero, or close to it. They just have to get the legislature to do their bidding. When the cost of something is zero, there's a tendency for people to take too much of it.
In the movie, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore says that we are "entering a period of consequences." (No, this isn't another Housing Bubble Subprime Mortgage post). And yes, the world is beginning to understand the consequences of global warming. From today's news story, Global warming story hits critical mass,
The next section of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, focusing on global warming impacts, is due to be released at a meeting in Belgium next month. A draft version of the report says that, within a few decades, hundreds of millions of people will face water shortages, while tens of millions will be flooded out of their homes. Tropical diseases like malaria will spread, pests like fire ants will thrive and by 2050, polar bears will mostly be found in zoos. By 2080, hundreds of millions of people could face starvation, according to the IPCC draft report.But here's the thing - the worst of these consequences are not immediate. Yes, hundreds of millions of people will face water shortages and starvation by 2080 -- but only if those hundreds of millions of people are alive in the first place.
What am I getting at? One solution to the crisis is for people to stop having so many babies. We're already using up the fisheries. The cattle being raised to feed so many meat-eaters is as big a problem as the cars we're all driving.
There is plenty of time between now and 2080 to dramatically cut the population of the world by simply limiting how many babies we're all having. If there are fewer people around then fewer people face starvation, disease, dislocation and the rest of the consequences.
March 13, 2007
Edwards again doing the right thing: John Edwards for President-Edwards Increases Efforts To Fight Global Warming; Announces Campaign Will Be Carbon Neutral,
As part of his efforts to combat global warming, Senator John Edwards announced today that he will make his campaign "carbon neutral." Edwards believes global warming is one of the great challenges facing America and the world and that we can all take immediate action to decrease the amount of carbon we produce. By conserving energy and purchasing carbon offsets, the Edwards campaign will offset the carbon emitted by Edwards and his staff's campaign travel, and the energy used in his campaign headquarters and field offices.
"Global warming is an emergency and we can't wait until the next president is elected to take action," said Edwards. "Each of us can take responsibility in small ways to make a big difference. I encourage all Americans to conserve energy in their own homes and workplaces and help fight global warming."
The fact is that EVERY President changes the US Attorneys when taking office. Bush also did the same thing when he took office. That is different. This has never happened before. THIS scandal is about Bush using the federal prosecutors to only go after Democrats, and to ignore crimes by Republicans.
And here's the thing. The ones that were fired were let go because they wouldn't "play ball." So the question is, what about the ones who were not fired?
It is one more example of how the entire government has been converted into a Party apparatus - as well as working to further the interests of the K-Street/Abramoff corruption machine. You hear about Interior Department employees ordered not to discuss global warming. You hear about the head of HUD telling underlings not to give contracts to Democrats. You hear over and over about "conected" companies getting huge no-bid contracts with no accountability...
IF Bush gets away with this - if the current prosecutors, Attorney General, Bush, etc. remain in place - come election time 2008 the only news the PUBLIC will be hearing is news about federal indictments of corrupt Democrats. That's what this is about.
Update - CREW calls for a Special Prosecutor because obviously the Bush Justice Department isn't going to investigate. But who appoints the special prosecutor?
CREW wants the immediate appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate potential criminal violations related to the recent dismissals of eight U.S. Attorneys. Recent revelations indicate that a top-ranking Department of Justice official knew that statements made by top Department officials were not true. Clearly, the Department of Justice cannot investigate itself and prosecute the misconduct of DOJ officials. CREW also asked the Department of Justice’s Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate the situation.
"Subprime" is a name given to loans that are riskier than regular loans, so they carry a higher interest rate. They are called "subprime" because they are less than ("sub") prime. People who would not normally qualify for a big mortgage receive these special loans. They were marketed as "affordability" instruments, meaning they "enabled" people to buy houses that cost more than they could afford. These loans had "teaser" low initial rates, also called "qualifier" rates, which would go up after a period of time, most even rising beyond the point that the borrow can "afford." Some of these loans even allowed borrowers to qualify for the loan using "stated income," meaning they would use whatever the borrower SAID their income was to see if they could afford the loan. (For some reason, these became known as "liar loans.")
Why is "more than they can afford" a consideration in giving a loan? It is possible that this term is used because the payments on such loans are "more" than the borrower can "afford" - meaning that the borrower will not be able to make the payments after the initial low-interest-rate period ends. When a borrower can't make the payments, it is called "defaulting" which means they "default." Which also means they can't pay back the loan, lose the house, and face financial ruin for the rest of their lives. And the lender is stuck with a "bad loan" meaning they are not going to be paid back.
When a lending company has enough "bad loans" on their books, THEY are also in trouble and can go bankrupt, which is happening. After enough of these go bankrupt the companies that loaned money to them also start to go bankrupt. This ripples through the economy. (Hint - if you have any money in "money market funds" see if the account can "lose principal" which means if it turns out the money-market "instruments" that generate the income are from companies with mortgage-based loans out there, or loans to companies with mortgage-based loans, these "instruments" can go bad your money enters a highly technical state known as "going away.")
ONE way this ripples through the economy is that lenders are forced to "tighten up" their requirements - meaning they STOP giving loans to people who cannot "afford" the loans. This reduces the number of people who are looking to buy a house (demand) at exactly the same time as the market is flooded with homes for sale because the owners cannot make the payments on their loans (supply). So there is a combination of high supply and low demand, which must force prices to drop. A lot.
And here we are today, as it turns out that the borrowers who could not "afford" the loans actually could not "afford" the loans - they can't make the payments, which in plain English means they "can't make the payments." And the lenders are starting to go bankrupt, one by one. And it will ripple through the economy.
Short version of all this -- it's a big damn mess.Update - This story JUST hit the wires:
New foreclosures at record high
Mortgage delinquencies rise across the board in fourth quarter,
Many more U.S. homeowners were unable to keep up with their mortgage payments in the fourth quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Tuesday, with the rate of homes entering the foreclosure process hitting a record 0.54% and the delinquency rate on U.S. home loans leaping to 4.95% from 4.67% three months earlier.
... The rise was led by subprime mortgages, where delinquencies increased to a seasonally adjusted 13.33% from 12.56%, and FHA loans, which saw a record-high delinquency rate of 13.46%. Trouble in subprime mortgages, made to borrowers with the riskiest credit, has roiled lenders and the stock market in recent days.
March 12, 2007
And for fun:
The current scandal over political use of US Attorneys is not the first one. In 2002 Bush blocked a corruption investigation into Jack Abramoff by firing the US Attorney just as he was closing in. Bush replaced him with a cousin of one of the targets -- who had been recommended by the local Republican Party.
A 2005 story, Bush removal ended Guam investigation,
A US grand jury in Guam opened an investigation of controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff more than two years ago, but President Bush removed the supervising federal prosecutor, and the probe ended soon after.Go read about it.
The Republican corruption machine was in full operation by 2002. Here was Bush covering up Abramoff's crimes by firing a prosecutor.
The statute of limitations has not yet run out on this.
March 11, 2007
I recently renewed my cell phone service and it was one more encounter with America's corporate scamocracy. EVERYTHING is a scam to get more money out of you for less service to you.
First, all the providers have the same price structure - this is obviously collusion rather than competition.
Second, the process of doing business with these companies is all about what they can get out of you, not what you can get for paying them. EVERYTHING has a fee. Even moving your phone numbers from one phone to another has a fee. Sending a text message has a fee PLUS the airtime. You can TAKE pictures but the only way to get the pictures off of your phone is to e-mail them to yourself and that costs a quarter PLUS the airtime.
Here's one of the better scams. You HAVE TO take a "free" month of "VCAST" service, and you CAN'T cancel it until after the "free" month, and if you don't cancel it they add $15 a month to your bill. So you have to write down the date, and remember to cancel it at just the right time.
EVERY company I encounter has a business model of scamming you, tricking you, and getting a monthly fee out of you.
Mary writes about this in Pacific Views: Commonweal Institute And Building The Progressive Infrastructure
March 10, 2007
A rumor I heard - troops in some areas of Iraq are having food rations cut, having to sign for ammo on a per-round basis, and are being told it is because the Democrats in Congress have cut off the funding for the troops.
This is exactly the kind of thing the Republicans would do. These people will be coming back to the US one day, and they will be angry at the Democrats and Volvo-driving liberals who "betrayed them." Bush started a war and lost it, and The Party is setting up to blame liberals and Democrats for the loss.
Please help - if you are in Iraq or have a friend or relative in Iraq please check on the stories that are circulating and let us know.
March 9, 2007
The Democratic Party has pulled out of a "debate" for Democratic Presidential candidates that would have been hosted by Fox News, because they are tired of Fox News shilling for the far right.
Following is from the press release from Fox News, so far available only at the far-right Drudge Report.
“We have not received official word from the Nevada State Democratic Party disclosing a change in debate plans. Rumors are being circulated and if true, news organizations will want to think twice before getting involved in the Nevada Democratic Caucus which appears to be controlled by radical fringe out-of-state interest groups, not the Nevada Democratic Party. In the past, Moveon.org has said they ‘own’ the Democratic party—while most Democrats don’t agree with that, we’re waiting to see if that’s the case in Nevada.” -- David Rhodes, Vice President, Fox News...Note the first-time-ever use by Fox of "ic" on Democratic here, rather than their usual insult "Democrat Party."
Does this sound something from a mainstream news organization, or does it sound more like the kind of thing you read at the weirdest, cult-like websites of the far right? A news organization calling MoveOn a "radical fringe out-of-state interest group"?
Earlier today the head of Fox News compared candidate Barack Obama to terrorists...
I've been thinking that the problem we are dealing with in this country is not an ideological left/right battle at all, but rather the rise of the authoritarian personality-type in our politics. Authoritarians have seized the label of "conservative" but this crowd is not at all conservative - not even anything like traditional Republicans. I have always had the sense that the current crop of "conservative movement" wingnuts would attach themselves to any ideology if it helped them achieve power.
Maybe what the country needs is a personality test before someone can run for office - sort of like the Strategic Air Command tests given to people before they're allowed to handle nuclear missile launch keys...
What do you think?
Talking Points Memo is asking the right questions about the Republicans firing US Attorneys who wouldn't "play ball" by dropping investigations of Republican corruption, and by launching trumped-up investigations of Democrats.
1) We know about the ones who were fired. What about the ones who were not -- WHY not? The REAL stink is on the ones who WEREN'T fired! What did they do to keep their jobs. Did they improperly drop investigations of Republicans and/or launch improper investigations of Demcorats?
2) Why isn't the Justice Department management? Why aren't we hearing statements from the Justice Department,
about how DOJ will not tolerate elected officials attempting to influence its prosecutors, how DOJ has its prosecutors' backs, how DOJ would remind prosecutors to report any such contacts, and would urge anyone who has not previously reported such contacts to come forward now.The silence is a statement. It is a threat to employees of the Department that if they come forward there will be retaliation.
And, of course, what does this say about the use of OTHER departments of the federal government?
We have been watching as Government and Party merge. Under these authoritarian Republicans the government has morphed into an enforcement arm of The Party. A better question might be whether there is any agency of the government that has not been corrupted?
One day we will all be shocked - even me - at how close we came to totalitarianism. That is, IF we make it through this. We haven't yet. And we won't until people go to jail for this kind of thing.
Watch your backs.
March 7, 2007
Brian Flemming has asked people to go into their March 2003 archives and report what they got right and what they got wrong about the Iraq War. (Via Crooked Timber and High Clearing). My old Zizka site is down, but I saved it in my computer.
Instead of March 2003, I looked at what I wrote on September 2002 (below the fold). By that time I was completely convinced that the Iraq War would happen, and the only debate I could see happening was between the realists and the neocons: the doves had been marginalized, and most Democrats were in hiding.
Things I mostly got right: the war, the occupation, the Bush administration, the Democrats, the media, the Bush long term strategy (endless war against someone or another) and the cynical use of the war as an excuse to ram through a mostly-unrelated domestic agenda. What I got wrong: I overestimated the negative international repurcussions in the Middle East and elsewhere. I feared the destabilization of the rest of the Middle East, and I also feared that Russia, China, India, or some other nation would try to take advantage once the US was tied down in Iraq. Those things could still happen, of course, but I expected things to be much worse internationally than they are by now.
So far the Bush Administration has been good for us cynics and negativists. Hopefully our run of good luck will end soon. I've been dreading the future for five years, and it wears you down.
IRAQ WAR EDITORIAL (Sept. 7 )
For about a month now, what I've been saying about the Iraq war has boiled down to two things. First, the war has been decided upon and will certainly take place. Second, whatever debate there is about the war will be within the right wing. President George W. Bush's adventurist branch of the right wing has seemingly alarmed ex-President George H. W. Bush's prudent branch, and we've been seeing a lot about that in the newspapers.
In my opinion this flood of conservative criticisms is a genuine vote of no-confidence in George W. Bush and his little team. (But see below.) Unfortunately, the Democrats are scarcely peeping a peep, and our President will be happy to ignore whatever peace movement emerges. By my guess he actually hopes for more, and more violent, demonstrations; this would explain some of the peculiarities of the security arrangements during Bush's recent Portland visit.
The debate going on right now is more about long-term strategy than it is about Iraq; none of the conservative critics of Bush's policy rule out an Iraq invasion. The Bush administration has put out signs that it plans, unilaterally and without allies, to force regime changes on one country after another until the world map looks the way we want it, and it is this adventurist strategy which a lot of the wiser heads are expressing doubts about.
It's rather difficult to come up with sober political judgements when you're unsure about the reliability of the information you're working with. Several unsympathetic observers have suggested that the whole Iraq debate is actually a smokescreen intended to divert attention to Iraq from such domestic problems as Enron, Harken, the deficit, etc., etc., etc. And in fact, the most grandiose and megalomaniac versions of the Bush strategy that we see might also be smokescreens. Perhaps they're just trying scare people enough to make their actual plan look sensible when it is finally revealed.
How should those of who are designated outsiders respond to all this? I don't have a good answer to that question and am not sure that there is one. Below I can only raise a few questions and make a few suggestions.
Go Easy on the Quagmire Theory
My guess is that the US military will be able to defeat Iraq or any other single nation with relative ease. Both hawk and dove sources tell us that American military spending over the last decade has surpassed that of the next ten nations in the world combined -- and most of the ten are our allies. Much of this spending has been on high-tech weaponry which makes other nations' armies obsolete. Furthermore, talking about quagmire or worst-case scenarios turns us into prophets of doom who seem to be hoping for US casualties. (At the same time, we should question those in the administration who occasionally promise us a cheap and easy war. We should go to war, if we do go to war, in the awareness of the possibility that there might be heavy American casualties).
On the other hand, the occupation of Iraq could very well end up being a quagmire. Anyone who still bothers to pay any attention to Afghanistan can see that that nation is descending into chaos. We can probably afford to let that happen, since Afghanistan apparently isn't really strategically very important after all. Iraq would be a much harder case, however, since we couldn't just walk away from the oilfields. The occupation of a hostile nation is one of the most brutal and thankless of tasks -- ask the Israelis, the French (Algeria), or the British (N. Ireland). I don't think that the Bush administration has really thought this part out very carefully.
It is sometimes suggested that we will be welcomed as liberators and that we will easily be able to set up functioning democracies in Iraq (and Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria), and then leave. This is outrageous, lying, wishful bullshit. The best organized popular forces in all those countries are the Islamic fundamentalists, and they will be the most likely beneficiaries of any instability. More likely is a ripple affect as one government after another in that area (including Pakistan and Egypt) collapses. Furthermore, the more tied down the US is in Iraq and neighboring areas, the easier it will be for Russia, India, China and the other medium powers to push their agendas without effective US opposition.
In my opinion, we really don't want too many things happening at once, and I think that the conservative criticism of Bush's adventurism is essentially this.
The Bush administration's contempt for the US people and for the indentured media probably accounts for the patchiness of their explanations of their motives and goals. We were friends with Saddam when he was gassing Kurds and Iranians. We had no real problem with the Taliban's oppression of women until Osama Bin Laden became the issue. (We still have no problem with what the Saudis are doing along that line, and most of the present rulers of the various areas of Afghanistan are about the same as the Taliban with regard to women's rights.) Afghanistan has not been liberated -- it's returning to civil war, and Pres. Karzai in Kabul isn't even able to protect himself. We have no idea where Bin Laden is, or whether he is alive. We have no idea where al Qaeda is or what they're still capable of.
And the Bush administration doesn't care much. As the justifications and explanations of their actions fall to the ground one after another, and as its stated goals successively fail to be attained, the Bush administration simply goes on the the next step of its secret plan.
Why Saddam? When did Saddam's existence become a crisis? What changed? Vice President Cheney was happily doing business with Iraq only three or four years ago. (He had to evade US law by using foreign subsidiaries, but that was easy enough to pull off). Two years ago the consensus was that containment of Saddam was working well enough. What has happened to change that?
The connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam is quite possibly nil. There may or may not have been one or two meetings between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi diplomat in the Czech Republic . A few members of al-Qaeda fleeing Afghanistan may have taken refuge in Iraq. Rumor has it that Timothy McVeigh had a swarthy accomplice who may have been an Iraqi, or maybe from al-Qaeda. That's the whole story. There's nothing more than that.
As for weapons of mass destruction, no new information has been brought forward except as rumor. As far as we know, two years ago Saddam's nuclear and germ warfare programs had already been stalled for some time, and we've been given no reasons to believe that anything has changed since then.
What's changed is the American administration and American public opinion. Like the Reagan administration, the present Bush administration came in with a war policy. And because of 9/11 and the suicide bombings in Israel, public opinion is ready for war against "them". So when the attacks came, Rumsfeld took immediate steps to move ahead with his already-existing plans for Iraq.
In my travels around the internet, I've been amazed at the propensity of many otherwise intelligent people to take the Bush allegations against Iraq at face value. This is, after all, an administration which has promised to lie to us, which preferentially operates in secret, which relies on alleged secret information about Iraq, and which has a track record of mendacity. Yet when I say this the characteristic response is "Yes, but what if they're right?" -- plus the accusation that I am paranoid (as if that's a bad thing).
What's the Long-term Strategy?
The war we're being asked to sign up for is an open-ended one, and the precession of objectives is already quite striking. So far, our enemy has morphed from Al Qaeda and Bin Laden (Bin Who?), to the Taliban, and finally to Saddam Hussein. The list of proposed later enemies includes Iran, Syria, N. Korea, the Colombian rebels, Libya. Cuba, Saudi Arabia, "all nations supporting terrorism", and ultimately China. Some pundits have proposed that we seize all the Gulf oil fields and run them ourselves. Rumsfeld has suggested that this war against whoever it is we're at war with could last three or four decades.
There has been some hedging recently, but the original plan seems to have been to go it alone, with few allies, little diplomatic support, and no UN authorization. Given the essentially unlimited scope of the proposed war, it seems that the Bush administration's planners have a virtually infinite confidence in American military preponderance and have decided to go for broke -- on the assumption that, presented with a fait accompli, Europe, Japan and Russia will have no choice but to knuckle under and accept what is effectively an American World Empire. (Latin America and Africa are already thoroughly subjugated, and once the Middle East is under our thumb there will be little resistance from anyone, except possibly China.)
When Michael Kelly talks about "The Hinge of History", presumably that's what he has in mind. (The pundits unreservedly supporting the Bush strategy are an unimpressive and ill-informed lot: Kelly, Ann Coulter, Charles Krauthammer, and George Will).
Who's Running the Show?
A phrase you don't hear so much any more is "The adults are in charge now". Many conservatives are now asking themselves whether the Bush administration is really up to the job. No one can possibly believe that George W. Bush is the best man for the most powerful nation in history to have at the helm during a major crisis. He is suited for the job neither by character, nor by education, nor by experience.
The original spin was that none of this made any difference, since he had good advisers. But his advisers are now fighting among themselves. The more recent spin is that he's "grown into the job", but there's really no evidence of that. He still looks like a cocky, lazy, ignorant frat boy with a massive sense of entitlement, and those of us who didn't trust or respect him on Sept. 10, 2001 have seen no reason to change our minds.
George W. Bush has two and only two political virtues. First, he is totally loyal to the powers that be. That is the only world he has ever known: his father, his grandfather, his uncles, his father's friends and dependents, and so on.
Second, he is able to speak to "the common man". He has learned to seem like a regular guy. He is able to communicate with the rather unsavory Republican "core constituency".
Bush was not installed to make policy decisions. Probably no one ever expected that he would have to do so. The present panic among the prudent right wing comes from the fact that he is in a position where he has to make some big policy decisions -- and he doesn't seem to be doing very well.
Besides Bush's competence, there is another concern. George Jr. was nominated because he could speak to the Republican "core constituency". Might they really be calling the shots now? This constituency includes people who, for example, want the Temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem so that we can have Armageddon and The Rapture. And who believe that environmentalists and feminists are all Satanists, and that women should not work outside the home, and that all trees usable for lumber, wherever they may be, should be logged. And who believe that interracial marriages should be illegal (40% of Alabama voters, and they weren't the Gore supporters). And who believe that there is no such thing as an ecosystem. And who think that public libraries are a bad, socialistic idea. And who believe that whipping children until they bleed is a good idea. And who believe that gun owners should have been able to bring their guns into the Salt Lake City Olympics. And so on. (No, I'm not making any of this up, and there's a lot more).
So even the sane rightwingers are a little scared. God bless them. Because nobody's listening to us liberals, and our leaders are hiding in their burrows.
What Should we Do?
The Bush administration has already shown that they have no compunctions about milking the war for domestic political advantage. Already they have tried to use the present crisis to justify tax cuts, oil drilling in Alaska, and other pet policies of theirs with no intelligible relationship to the war. They have also used the war as a pretext for massive attacks on civil liberties and due process which they had wanted to do all along anyway. (The first announced arrest under the Patriot Act was of so-called "eco-terrorists" sabotaging logging trucks. Think about that a little: no connection to Al Qaeda, Saddam, or international terrorism. No intent to kill, and after twenty years, no killings. Yet they are the only terrorists we can find.)
So I don't think that the formula "Support Bush on the War, Fight him Domestically" is going to work. This open-ended war is going to last forever, and all along the way it's going to be used as a pretext for domestic outrages. The Commander in Chief controls the agenda, and any time the domestic opposition starts to show signs of making any progress, Bush can just heat up the international situation a bit. And if there is another terrorist attack on Americans, or if there are serious casualties in one of the projected wars, Bush can turn up the heat a lot further yet.
This is my understanding of the situation. I don't have a solution and don't propose a course of action. The indentured media and the Democrats are all pretty well intimidated already. Maybe we should all just sit quietly at home and practice our needlework and decoupage, because it looks like this war is going to happen, with or without our help.
The right's talking point on the "outing" of Valerie Plame is that there was no crime. They say that Fitzgerald would have brought charges for the outing if the outing were a crime.
I would like to remind everyone that Fitzgerald said that he indicted Libby for obstruction of justice BECAUSE Libby obstructed - "threw sand in the eyes of" - the investigation which kept it from finding out who committed the crime. That is what "obstruction of justice" means, and that is what Libby was convicted of. He blocked the investigation into the crime.
And what we have when someone charges obstruction of justice, the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He's trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked their view.There are a lot of people trying to throw sand in everyone's eyes now that Libby is convicted. Here is where we are today: A covert CIA agent was outed by the White House, and the Vice President's Chief of Staff has been convicted of obstructing the investigation into who was behind it.
... This is a very serious matter and compromising national security information is a very serious matter. But the need to get to the bottom of what happened and whether national security was compromised by inadvertence, by recklessness, by maliciousness is extremely important. We need to know the truth. And anyone who would go into a grand jury and lie, obstruct and impede the investigation has committed a serious crime.
I suggest reading the entire transcript.
Well the big scandal has arrived. Barack Obama owned stock!
Even worse, just like the Clintons with their Whitewater investment, he lost money!
There is so much not wrong with this - which can only be because of a massive cover-up by powerful forces. There is no other possible explanation.
Over at Sadly, No! a look at how the wingnutosphere responded to Ann Coulter's latest. SWingNet Refuses To Exorcise The Coultergeist
March 6, 2007
"We're not saying that we didn't think Mr. Libby was guilty of the things we found him guilty of," said the juror, Denis Collins. "But it seemed like he was . . . the fall guy."And what did President Bush say about the verdict?
... "Where's Rove, where's -- you know, where are these other guys?" Collins said, referring to Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, and Richard L. Armitage, a former deputy chief of staff who testimony showed had been the first person to leak Plame's name.
Moreover, Collins said, jurors believed that Libby had been carrying out a directive by his immediate boss, Cheney, to "go out and talk to reporters" to tarnish Wilson's reputation. But Collins said jurors stopped short of discussing whether the vice president specifically urged Libby to tell journalists about Plame's CIA job.
Dana Perino, the deputy White House press secretary, said President Bush watched the news of the verdict on television in the Oval Office. She said Mr. Bush respected the jury’s verdict but “was saddened for Scooter Libby and his family,” using Mr. Libby’s nickname.Yes, you read that right - he was saddened for Libby's - the perpetrtor's - family, not Valerie Wilson/Plame's - the victim's.
Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent, working to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists. We, of course, do not know how much damage was done when the White House "outed" her. We do not know the fate of those she may have met with in countries where she operated. But governments like Iran keep track of people traveling in their country, and when it was revealed that she was a CIA operative, they go back over their records and see who she met with and worked with. We do not know if any of them were jailed or killed as a result.
Outing her also revealed that her cover company was a CIA front. So ALL the agents working for that company were ALSO "outed." And all the people THEY met with in all the countries where THEY operated were ALSO revealed. And of course we do not know how many of THEM were jailed or killed as a result.
March 5, 2007
A wingnut has a post up with examples of "Hate Speech" by "Prominent Leftists." Go read and have a good laugh.
Louis Farrakhan is a "leftist?" Richard Cohen? Nina Totenberg? Leftists? And I haven't heard of half of them. Am I old or something? "British Pundit Charlie Booker?"
Have you been following the Walter Reed & VA Hospital mess? Read this. The Republicans privatized care at Walter Reed (corruptly throwing a contract to the SAME PEOPLE - Republican campaign contributors - who screwed up ice delivery after Katrina). They gutted the professional staff and cut everything so the money would flow to a few rich fucks instead of to caring for the troops.
But what are they telling the public? That it's an example of the problem with GOVERNMENT! After firing all the professional staff and outsourcing everything they're telling people that government can't fire people so they don't care about the troops.
Republicans: Gut the government, pocket the funds, then BLAME the government when things stop working.
Newsflash: Government-run health care sucks The Washington Post is back today with another story about the pitfalls of the military health care system.:Example: Government Healthcare and YOU!
If you’ve been watching the news lately you will most likely will have seen a special or two on the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The men and women who put their lives on the line for their country are being placed in horrible conditions.Example:
... THIS, is what you will get nation wide if you decide to hand over your health care to the federal government.
If you had any doubts about universal health care, which is to say, health care furnished and managed by the government, examine the complaints about the health care furnished our veteran's by the government.
If they can't get it together to furnish decent health care to our veteran's, what chance do the rest of us have?
March 4, 2007
At the Drum Major Institute's blog: Sub-Prime Mortgages Come Home to Roost,
"During the housing boom that ended in 2005," the Times reported, "money was poured with abandon into exotic home loans that let people buy homes with little down or without verifying their incomes. Now, lenders, financiers and buyers of mortgages are pulling back...The move comes as default rates are rising, smaller lenders are starting to fail and investors are shunning bonds backed by mortgages."Also take a look at Homeownership: The Fast Path to Poverty?,
Duh! Where have they been? For more years now advocates have been denouncing sub-prime loans and "exotic" mortgages - adjustable rate loans, "no doc" loans, interest only loans, etc. - as often abusive and predatory, and a leading contributor to mortgage defaults and financial instability among working and middle class people. Meanwhile sub-prime lenders have been losing profits, downsizing and going out of business because their loan porfolios are crumbling under the poor or non existent underwriting criteria.
[. . .] The question remains: When will law makers and regulators finally step in and clean up the sub-prime market?
This single-minded promotion of homeownership is now proving to have disastrous consequences for many moderate income families that bought homes at the peak of the bubble. Many of these families will end up losing their homes and whatever savings they had used to buy a home. Their credit record may be permanently damaged and possibly their aspirations as well.
The Bush Administration is about to let a drug company sell one of our few remaining effective antibiotics for use on livestock. This is so the drug company can make higher profits. They do not care that this decision could kill a LOT of us.
Here is what is going on: These days people don't think of infections as serious, not to mention potentially fatal. This is because we have antibiotics to kill the germs. But throughout human history bacteria were one of the biggest - if not the biggest - causes of death. All the way up until the discovery of penicillin - less than 100 years ago - people used to die from things as simple as a cut getting infected.
The germs have been fighting back. They build up resistance to the drugs we use against them, and over time the drugs stop working. This is the reason doctors tell people to be sure to take ALL of the antibiotics in a prescription even if they start to feel better -- you need to kill ALL of the germs or the ones that survive develop resistance. The other reason is that drugs are given to livestock because they help them get fatter quicker. Over time, through simple evolution and natural selection, the germs become resistant to the antibiotics and we all are put at risk. One after another the antibiotics have become nearly useless. In fact, we only have a few effective antibiotics left.
Think about what would happen if germs get a chance to build resistance to the few remaining effective antibiotics. Now read this news story:
The government is on track to approve a new antibiotic to treat a pneumonia-like disease in cattle, despite warnings from health groups and a majority of the agency's own expert advisers that the decision will be dangerous for people.And WHY are they going to approve using this drug in cattle? Because the company is willing to sacrifice future effectiveness of the drug in order to make higher profits today. From the story,
... The American Medical Association and about a dozen other health groups warned the Food and Drug Administration that giving cefquinome to animals would probably speed the emergence of microbes resistant to that important class of antibiotics, as has happened with other drugs. Those super-microbes could then spread to people.
"The industry says that 'until you show us a direct link to human mortality from the use of these drugs in animals, we don't think you should preclude their use,' " said Edward Belongia, an epidemiologist at the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in Wisconsin. "But do we really want to drive more resistance genes into the human population? It's easy to open the barn door, but it's hard to close the door once it's open."This has already happened before. Again, from the story,
The FDA knows how hard it can be to close that door. In the mid-1990s, overriding the objections of public health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the drug agency approved the marketing of two drugs, Baytril and SaraFlox, for use in poultry. Both are fluoroquinolones, a class of drugs important for their ability to fight the bioterror bacterium that causes anthrax and a food-borne bacterium called campylobacter, which causes a serious diarrheal disease in people.A broader question is raised by this: If there are so few effective antibiotics, shouldn't they be considered to be a common resource -- something that is "owned" by the people for the people? How can a corporation be allowed to decide something like this, something that could kill a LOT of us, on the basis of making a short-term profit, a quick buck?
Conservatives -- they choose corporate profits over people every single time.
Update - Mary has more on this at The Left Coaster.
Please read slacktivist: McFaith: A dialogue (part 1)
Don't mess with my religion. Bigot.
March 2, 2007
I'm hearing rumors that the Conservative Political Action Conference - the one where all the Republican candidates are speaking - refused to allow military recruiters at their annual convention.
March 1, 2007
By Dave Johnson and James Boyce
There's a tragic but true old expression that a lie can make it half way around the world before the truth can even get its pants on. Sadly, this has been proven true again this week with the $mear attack on Vice President Al Gore and his energy consumption.
Today, we noticed that the lie has made it to Germany. How did this happen and, more to the point, why does it continue to happen?
As Media Matters continues to speak out about every single day - and we all owe them thanks - the corporate media in America absolutely fails to serve the interest of the public. How could they spread this lie? How does a small, unknown organization with a $100,000 budget issue a press release containing a $mear on a respected former Vice President of the United States and have their lie echoed around the world within hours? Pathetic. (Just look at their IRS form! No officers, directors or trustees? Very little information? A P.O. box? Is it normal for an organization to spend that high a percentage of their funds on "meals?") One reporter asking one question about this group, or about the facts behind Gore's energy use, and the story is over. But they didn't.
Furthermore, it's our collective fault. As we noted in our post a few days ago, no one should have been surprised when Al Gore was attacked for the positive press he and his movie received last weekend. An Inconvenient Truth was sure to win an Oscar. Gore would then speak to a billion people about the problem of global warming. The well-funded global warming denial industry would respond, and $mearing people is their standard method of attack. They destroy our leaders.
And yet, there was surprise and a lack of preparation to fight back. How many times will one of our leaders be attacked and be marginalized before we get it through our thick heads that this is a pattern? How many times will this happen before we start to do something about it?
Al Gore was mocked as "ozone man". Max Cleland destroyed. Howard Dean screamed out of town. McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, and Bill Clinton $meared and $meared and even impeached. Then the lies about Al Gore during his campaign against Bush. Then John Kerry swiftboated. Now Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama and John Edwards attacked. They destroy our leaders.
And not only are the targets of the attacks often caught off guard, but the Democratic institutions and leaders are often nowhere to be found when it happens!
Where was the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday as these lies gained hold? Where was any Democratic-oriented Group? There were the progressive bloggers, Media Matters and CAP's Think Progess and very few others -- the usual suspects -- and this is all that Gore and our other leaders have watching their backs. They sure aren't watching each other's.
Last fall, we (James, Dave and Taylor Marsh) worked together on The Patriot Project. We struggled mightily to raise money to help veteran candidates like Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy, Charlie Brown, Jack Murtha and Chris Carney. We raised money online but traditional donors didn't help us. The progressive bloggers are also largely unfunded and are the targets of strategic marginalization attacks themselves. The progressive donor base continues to play it safe and avoid controversy, funding the large, stale, DC-based "traditional" organizations.
And the attacks continue.
When John Kerry was the focus of the machine when he botched his joke, the wingnuts misrepresented what he said and pretended outrage, the right's online sites echoed and amplified the smear, the Drudge Report spread it widely, Limbaugh blasted it out, and then the networks dutifully picked it up and spread the lie to the rest of the country. And not only did no Democrat come to his aid, some actually piled on.
When Nancy Pelosi was $meared with the lie that she "demanded a luxury jet" the wingnuts misrepresented what she said and pretended outrage, the right's online sites echoed and amplified the smear, the Drudge Report spread it widely, Limbaugh blasted it out, and then the networks dutifully picked it up and spread the lie to the rest of the country. But how many leading Democrats and organizations joined forces to protect her?
How many similar episodes have we seen in just the last few months? Where are the Democratic institutions? Where are the other Democratic leaders? Don't they understand that they're next?
And this week here was Al Gore getting blind-sided and the silence was deafening. One more sad but clear example of what ails our party and our leaders.
It is a tragedy.
First the wingnuts came for Bill Clinton,
I remained silent;
I am not Bill Clinton.
When they made up stuff about Gore,
I remained silent;
I am not Gore.
When they lied about John Kerry
I didn't speak up for him;
I complained about how he ran his campaign.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out;
I am a Democrat.