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May 31, 2007

Republican Brownback Says The Science On Evolution Is Not Settled

The science on whether smoking tobacco causes cancer is still unsettled. The jury is still out. The science on asbestos, lead in gasoline and paint, DDT, safety of SUVs, ... etc.

And, of course, the science is still not settled on global warming. The jury is still out.

Right. Where have we heard this before?

And here we go again: Republican Presidential candidate Sam Brownback, What I Think About Evolution.

Right.

(By the way, who really wrote this?)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:34 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Dems Caved To Avoid Criticism - Get Criticized Anyway

Remember last week, when the Democrats caved in to Bush's demand that they continue funding the war without imposing milestones or timelines, so they wouldn't be criticized for "abandoning the troops" or "surrendering?"

I call this the "afraid Rush Limbaugh will say something bad about them syndrome." Because he is going to, anyway, no matter what they do, so they should do the right thing.

Well, they didn't do the right thing and Gosh!, guess what - The Republicans are criticizing them anyway.

For example, see DeMint rips war ‘wimps’
Defeatist Democrats such as Harry Reid share blame for Iraq war deaths, senator tells Upstate constituents
,

Sen. Jim DeMint on Tuesday blamed Democratic “wimps” in Congress for American casualties in Iraq, and cited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for special censure.

... “Al-Qaida knows that we’ve got a lot of wimps in Congress,” DeMint said. “I believe a lot of the casualties can be laid at the feet of all the talk in Congress about how we’ve got to get out, we’ve got to cut and run.”

Asked later who he had targeted in his comments, DeMint replied:

“To a large degree, the Democratic party and those who basically declared defeat like Harry Reid.”

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:17 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

McCain, O'Reilly: It's About Keeping Jews, Blacks and Women Out Of Power

The Democratic Party,

Near the end of the video, there was this exchange:

Bill O'Reilly: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you're a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right. So I say you've got to cap with a number.

John McCain: In America today we've got a very strong economy and low unemployment, so we need addition farm workers, including by the way agriculture, but there may come a time where we have an economic downturn, and we don't need so many.

[crosstalk]

O'Reilly: But in this bill, you guys have got to cap it. Because estimation is 12 million, there may be 20 [million]. You don't know, I don't know. We've got to cap it.

McCain: We do, we do. I agree with you.

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

As Al Gore's Book Hits Number One, ExxonMobil's Front Group Attacks.

By Dave Johnson and James Boyce

Last week Al Gore released a very thought-provoking book The Assault On Reason. Vice President Gore's book has been very well-received and it quickly reached Number 1 on Amazon's best-seller list and now theNew York Times best-seller list.

The Assault On Reason is a remarkable look at where we are as a country, and where we might end up if we don't alter course. It also is remarkable for this day and age because it was written entirely by Mr. Gore, without the aid of a ghostwriter - something that has not been noted much.

"The Assault On Reason" is an important book that examines how decisions are made in American politics in our day and age. It discusses how changes in our world have made us less reliant on reason and logic and this, in turn, has that led to serious policy mistakes like ignoring global warming, and the Iraq war and occupation.

Like many who have read the book, and heard Mr. Gore speak passionately about it, we had hoped that this book would trigger the much-needed national conversation about what has been happening to us -- about why we make policy and candidate decisions based on nonsense slogans and insults instead of sound science-based, reasoned discussion.

In Gore on Fire, Dave wrote,

Gore says our country's problems go beyond the manipulations and corruptions of Bush and Cheney. ... And he has some very insightful things to say about the historical forces that brought us where we are, and how they might guide us through this. ... This is a man who has thought about what is happening to us, and who has the vision and experience to come up with some answers.

The book hit Number 1 just in time for one of the clearest examples of the right-wing strategy of use of smear and fear and sophmoric humor to distract the public from the important issues of our time that you will see.

In our post predicting the coming attacks we wrote,

Because he is standing up, telling the truth and because he simply is a Democrat and Progressive leader, Al Gore will be smeared mercilessly by the right-wing smear machine. He will be ridiculed, made fun of and mocked. They will tease and make fun of him.

There is no clearer example of this pathetically high-school mocking than a recent piece by Brent Bozell in the Media Research Center column, Al Gore, Media Scholar?, Bozell mocks Gore and "liberals", writing,

Like many liberals with the itch to micromanage our lives, Gore clearly believes the American people are ignorant to the point of endangerment. So he's become a media scholar, and unloaded his communications theories in a book excerpt hyped by his friends at Time magazine.

[. . .] It's a common liberal conceit: liberalism is the very definition of sweet reason, so an attack on liberalism is an "assault on reason." Democracy is only truly democratic when the Democrats are in charge. Debates aren't truly informative unless the liberals win the argument. The same holds true for elections.

[. . .] Isn't it Al Gore who's been wandering throughout the media telling them it's way too late for a "national conversation" on global warming? That the people who disagree with him aren't really part of a debate, or players in a democracy, but an evil array of corporate publicity tools who have no belief in Science (and Reason)? That only foster confusion? There's very little difference between Al Gore and Hugo Chavez on a censor-conservatives creed.

Al Gore and Hugo Chavez? That's a pathetic, stupid pairing right out of the high school playground. But look at their web site, we wouldn't expect more. One thing that is interesting is Conservatives love to claim that the media is liberal. But ask for a single example and it stuns them into silence.

Note the top cable network, FOX, is right of right and that the top radio hosts, Rush, Hannity, are right of right. Mention the newspapers that are right of right and still: the mantra spews forth.

So who are these guys?

The Media Research Center is a non-profit 501c3 organization that receives funding from ExxonMobil. MRC is a lynchpin in the right wing machine we hear so much about. Their rants are echoed by outlets ranging from Drudge to FOX NEWS - giving them credibility they clearly do not deserve. From there, all too often, mainstream media picks up on the narratives and suddenly, they are established fact.

Of course, the reason that MRC cares so much about denigrating Mr. Gore has nothing to do with the premise of his book and quite a bit to do with protecting the business interests of its donors. It is a remarkable abuse of the system that while MRC smears Democratic Leader after Democratic Leader, ExxonMobil gets a tax deduction for funding these front-groups for this global-warming-denial campaign of smear and fear against Al Gore and others who are trying to get this country to join the rest of the world to combat the threat from global warming.

Earlier they attacked Cheryl Crow and Laurie David for their global warming concert tour. At the time, we wrote,

For anyone who wants us to connect the dots, here they are.

1. Newsbusters is a project of The Media Research Center.

2. Media Research Center is, believe it or not, a charitable organization so if you give money to them, you get a tax deduction.

Founded in 1987, the MRC is a 501 (c)(3) non profit research and education foundation.
3. Media Research recently gave Rush Limbaugh an award for "Media Excellence." We can't make this shit up if we tried.

4. And who gives them a nice $50,000 check every year? And gets the tax deduction? ExxonMobil.

Let's be clear.

Global Warming is not a political issue, it is a scientific fact.

Now with the book hitting Number 1, they turn their sites on Mr. Gore - just as the machine did after he was part of the team that won the Oscar.

How they created that firestorm over a potentially stolen and certainly misleading electrical bill is here. It was the same process. A "think tank" releases a false press release without checking the facts in any manner. This press release is picked up by Drudge and FOX NEWS. Soon, it is in the mainstream media who, frankly, fails to see the story for what it is (exception was Keith Olbermann.)

This is the time for people to understand what Smoking Politics is doing. This is a clear example of what we are working to fight against. It's a critical issue because if your work, or campaign, can be so easily and quickly sent off-course by a lie, aided by the fourth estate's indifference to facts and the truth, why would you work so hard or campaign so long? There has to be a basis of truth and honesty within the system to keep good people in the race.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists report, Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco's Tactics to "Manufacture Uncertainty" on Climate Change, ExxonMobil, "like the tobacco industry in previous decades, has"

* raised doubts about even the most indisputable scientific evidence
* funded an array of front organizations to create the appearance of a broad platform for a tight-knit group of vocal climate change contrarians who misrepresent peer-reviewed scientific findings
* attempted to portray its opposition to action as a positive quest for "sound science" rather than business self-interest
* used its access to the Bush administration to block federal policies and shape government communications on global warming
And according to Greenpeace, counter to Exxon's claims, Exxon is still funding the climate deniers! They write,
This is the company which, apparently, has been "misunderstood" on global warming and has said it has dropped its funding of the deniers.

The ExxonSecrets people have gone through the documents, and found a clear answer: last year Exxon spent $2.1 million on 41 groups who are leading the climate skeptic industry.


According to the Exxon Foundation 2005 report to the IRS [PDF - 174 pages] "Exxon told the IRS that that it funded 14 groups specifically for their climate change work."

These climate-denial front-groups are using many of the same arguments -- obscuring the science and talking about "personal choice" -- that were used to keep tobacco sales strong and government involvement at a minimum for decades after it became clear that the product was killing hundreds of thousands of Americas.


Smoking Politics has been helping fight this fight. We are working to expose the smears and lies that are used to distract the people of this country from attacking the problems we face. Earlier this month we began a post describing our mission, writing,

There was a time when this country worked to solve its problems.

There was a time in this country when political campaigns were about issues and solutions and ideas.

There was a time when our legislators honestly debated, and minds could be changed, and bipartisan laws could be passed.

There was a time when America was seen as an honest broker for peace, even in the Middle East. And there was even a time when there were solar panels on roof of the White House.

As Mr. Gore notes in his book, there wasn't a Golden Age of American politics when all was fair and the country made perfect decisions. But from the swiftboating of Al Gore to the mocking of Nancy Pelosi, from the destruction of Max Cleland to the attacks on Jimmy Carter, it is clear that it has never been worse than it is right now.

Please visit our site Smoking Politics and learn more. Please call and write your newspapers.

Please stand up and say enough's enough. This isn't a Democratic cry for justice. Or a bash at Republicans. It's just a simple statement: if we get to the point where truth, logic and reason don't matter at all as a country and as a people, we are in trouble that we may never recover from in our lives.


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

May 30, 2007

Government Fights To STOP Meat Inspections!

Small meat companies want to test their meat to insure that it is safe. Larger companies want this stopped - because if smaller companies are doing it, they will be more competitive and they will have to spend money to do tests to keep up. So the Bush government steps in on the side of the big companies TO STOP THE TESTING!

See E. coli conservatism (19): the ne plus ultra,

The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. But Arkansas City-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone tested its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive test, too.

Here is the kicker:
The Agriculture Department argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:19 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 29, 2007

Urgent Action On Elections - FEC Nomination

One of the main people behind the Republican scams to keep people from voting has now been nominated by Bush to be ON THE FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION!!!! This is as bad as it gets.

See Keep Yer Vote Thievin' Hans Off the Federal Election Commission: Action Alert!,

... Hans von Spakovsky is up for confirmation June 13 as a member of the Federal Election Commission.

[. . .]
Hans Von Spakovsky will appear before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration on June 13, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. for his confirmation hearing. He must be stopped. Confirmation by the Senate would keep this scourge on the American electoral process on the Federal Election Commission until 2011. Please help keep Hans von Spakovsky off the FEC. Here's the membership of the Committee. I have included telephone numbers and hyperlinked to each Senator's contact page, where you can leave comments electronically.

See the extended entry to learn who to call:

Democrats Dianne Feinstein (CA) - (202) 224-3841 Robert Byrd (WV) - (202) 224-3954 Daniel Inouye (HI) - (202) 224-3934 Christopher Dodd (CT) - (202) 224-2823 Charles Schumer (NY) - (202) 224-6542 Richard Durbin (IL) - (202) 224-2152 Ben Nelson (NE) - (202) 224-6551 Harry Reid (NV) - (202) 224-3542 Patty Murray (WA) - (202) 224-2621 Mark Pryor (AR) - (202) 224-2353

Republicans
Robert Bennett (UT) - (202) 224-5444
Mitch McConnell (KY) - (202) 224-2541
Thad Cochran (MS) - (202) 224-5054
Trent Lott (MS) - (202) 224-6253
Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) - (202) 224-5922
Saxby Chambliss (GA) - (202) 224-3521
Chuck Hagel (NE) - (202) 224-4224
Lamar Alexander (TN) - (202) 224-4944

If you are a constituent of one of these Senators, please call or write. If you are not a constituent of any of these Senators, please call or write anyway and also call your own Senator. If von Spakovsky makes it through committee, we will need the help of all Senators on the floor.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:01 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

CIA-Agent Leak Investigation Points To Cheney

The cover-up continues. In a court filing the CIA-leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald makes it clear that "Scooter" Libby obstructed the investigation to discover who was behind the leak. That is the reason Libby was convicted of obstruction, and the reason no one has yet been indicted for the leak itself.

See Fitzgerald Again Points to Cheney,

Special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald has made it clearer than ever that he was hot on the trail of a coordinated campaign to out CIA agent Valerie Plame until that line of investigation was cut off by the repeated lies from Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

[. . .] Libby's lies, Fitzgerald wrote, "made impossible an accurate evaluation of the role that Mr. Libby and those with whom he worked played in the disclosure of information regarding Ms. Wilson's CIA employment and about the motivations for their actions."

And just WHO is the prosecutor talking about?
Not clear on the concept yet? Fitzgerald adds: "To accept the argument that Mr. Libby's prosecution is the inappropriate product of an investigation that should have been closed at an early stage, one must accept the proposition that the investigation should have been closed after at least three high-ranking government officials were identified as having disclosed to reporters classified information about covert agent Valerie Wilson, where the account of one of them was directly contradicted by other witnesses, where there was reason to believe that some of the relevant activity may have been coordinated, and where there was an indication from Mr. Libby himself that his disclosures to the press may have been personally sanctioned by the Vice President."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:52 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 28, 2007

Terrorism From The Right Escalating

Rick Perlstein notes the rise in Right-Wing Terrorism, and the major news media's failure to connect the dots.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:05 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Right Fires Up The Smear Machine Against Obama

By Dave Johnson and James Boyce

As we write this (Friday), a fresh, still-steaming smear has been dumped on Barack Obama over at The Drudge Report.

A giant headline - almost as big as our computers' monitors - screams, "MCCAIN AIDE: 'OBAMA WOULDN'T KNOW DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN RPG AND A BONG'," linking (as Drudge so often does) to a post at Politico. (Obama's spokesman replied, "America doesn't need juvenile name-calling from Washington, we need a commitment to end this war and bring our brave troops home." Also see the video clip at the end of this post.)

So they're going to try out the old "conservatives are strong on national security" nonsense narrative, even after pushing George Bush on the American public? You would think that with almost all of the conservative leadership having dodged military service and earning the label "chickenhawk" they might not want to push this one. But that narrative runs on progressives and not on conservatives, so it might work - and that's what counts if you care more about power than America. And you run with what you have...

In our December post, How Long Will The Right Let Us Love Obama?, we looked at Obama's high poll numbers and asked where are the rest of our leaders? As deserving as Obama may be, what has happened to the perception of so many progressive leaders, that a newcomer first-term Senator is at the top?

We wrote, This favorability poll proves the power of the Right Wing's ongoing and successful strategy of "SELL and SMEAR."

We continued,

Our point here is not whether you will vote for them, or volunteer for their campaign, or give them money, but do you, the American voting public, have a favorable impression of these leaders?

The sad and resounding answer is no. This is what the machine does to Democratic and Progressive leaders. It smears, and attacks and destroys them. It leaves millions of Americans with an uneasy feeling about John Kerry or Hillary Clinton, a bad taste in the mouth, "I don't know. I just don't like him." It's emotional. It's not rational. But it is very, very real.

And it's not just these our most recent leaders. As we wrote last week, President Jimmy Carter left office virtually in disgrace. What about Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis? Are they perceived as what they really are - respected leaders who are both true American success stories? Hardly. They are perceived in the "conventional wisdom" as jokes and afterthoughts.

Those powerful negative stereotypes were carefully created by the use of brilliant marketing, coordinated messaging, virtually unlimited budgets and a complete lack of morals.

Barack Obama is one more progressive leader climbing up in the public's esteem. So here we are. Another day, another smear.

This time Obama had a great answer:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:39 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 27, 2007

Cheney Lays It Out

Vice President's Remarks at the United States Military Academy Commencement,

As Army officers on duty in the war on terror, you will now face enemies who oppose and despise everything you know to be right, every notion of upright conduct and character, and every belief you consider worth fighting for and living for. Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States. Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away. These are men who glorify murder and suicide. Their cruelty is not rebuked by human suffering, only fed by it. They have given themselves to an ideology that rejects tolerance, denies freedom of conscience, and demands that women be pushed to the margins of society. The terrorists are defined entirely by their hatreds, and they hate nothing more than the country you have volunteered to defend.

The terrorists know what they want and they will stop at nothing to get it. By force and intimidation, they seek to impose a dictatorship of fear, under which every man, woman, and child lives in total obedience to their ideology. Their ultimate goal is to establish a totalitarian empire, a caliphate, with Baghdad as its capital. They view the world as a battlefield and they yearn to hit us again. And now they have chosen to make Iraq the central front in their war against civilization.

But no taxes to pay for the war to save civilization, no draft, no cuts in oil use, no sacrifice of any kind. Go shopping, etc. Right.

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

An E-Mail I Received

Just got this e-mail. Seriously:

Hi,
Hope I amb not writing to wrong addrebsas. I am nice, pretty looking girl. I am planning on visitaing your town this month. Can we meet each bother in person? Message me back at ...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:09 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 26, 2007

The Blogroll

The blogroll is back - Blogrolling seems to be working again. (The blogroll is the list of blogs that go down the left column, beginning part of the way down the page.)

Let's see if we can clean it up a bit. You can help out by clicking several of the links and if they are not current please leave a comment here and I'll remove the listing. In the meantime you will likely discover a GREAT new place for information or entertainment.

And of course if you know of good blogs that ought to be on the blogroll, leave a comment about that, too.

My philosophy is that we are all in this together, and the more of us that link to each other the better. This helps people discover new ideas.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:26 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Saturday Cartoons

BobGeiger.com: The Saturday Cartoons

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:39 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 25, 2007

For Republican Memory Loss Syndrome

A new prescription:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:59 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Prices Down

Yesterday's bad news was about new homes. Today's bad news is about existing homes. Home prices fall for 9th straight month,

Sales of existing homes fell by a larger-than-expected amount in April while the median price of a home sold during the month fell for a ninth straight month as the troubles in the subprime mortgage market acted as a further drag on housing.
ADVERTISEMENT

The National Association of Realtors reported Friday that sales of existing homes fell by 2.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.99 million units. That was the slowest sales pace since June 2003.

... Sales were weak in all parts of the country. The Northeast experienced the biggest decline, a fall of 8.8 percent in April from the March sales pace.

And the news is only going to get worse:
The drop in sales was accompanied by a big jump in the number of unsold homes left on the market.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:32 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 24, 2007

The Right's Power Over Minds

Update - OK, stupid title. Should have been something like "The Power Of Words"

I don't see how any rational person can think that a plan to set timelines for withdrawing our forces and turning things over to the Iraqis themselves is in any way "abandoning the troops" but there you have it -- the power of the right to influence people's minds.

I have been telling anyone who would listen (and shouting at the backs of the rest) that the battle for this country is nowhere near over yet -- that just because the Republicans no longer control the House and Senate our problems are not solved. And I have been saying that taking the White House in 2008 is no where near a sure thing -- the right is strong, organized, has all the money in the world and is capable of saying and doing anything to keep power. The more their backs are to the wall the more dangerous they are.

Today we have some evidence of their power over minds. They were able to twist the plan to turn the occupation over to the Iraqi government into an almost universal acceptance - in Washington - that this would mean "abandoning the troops."

The 2008 election is not going to be pretty. Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:07 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - HUGE Price Drop

The headline masks the real story: Home sales soar by record amount. But in the story, this:

However, the median price of a new home sold last month fell to $229,100, a record 11.1 percent decline from the previous month. The big price decline indicated that builders are slashing prices in an effort to move a huge overhang of unsold homes.
ELEVEN PERCENT PRICE DROP IN A MONTH???
The drop in median prices in April compared to March was a record one-month decline. If the April sales price was compared to the sales price a year ago, the decline was 10.9 percent, the biggest year-over-year drop since 1970.
So is it a good idea to buy a house when prices are ropping eleven percent a month?

So where should prices be before you think about buying? Well, take the price before the bubble - maybe 1999 or 2000 - add in inflation, and there you are. In other words, they have to fall at least 50%, more in many areas.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:23 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 23, 2007

Gore on Fire

I saw Al Gore talk at a book signing for his book, The Assault On Reason, in Marin County (north of San Francisco) this evening. He was supposed to talk for a short time, take questions and sign books, but he just got going an gave one of the most inspired, intelligent and I think historically important articulations of the current threat to the American experiment and our democracy that I have heard. He was just on fire.

Gore says our country’s problems go beyond the manipulations and corruptions of Bush and Cheney. He talks about what has happened to this country that we could have ever allow a Bush and Cheney and their lies and evasions and incuriosity to take the reigns of our government – and allowed them to stay there after it became clear what they are about. And he has some very insightful things to say about the historical forces that brought us where we are, and how they might guide us through this.

At times he sounded like a guru, talking about “truthforce,” about how honesty enables us to see clearly without the distortions and distractions that come from constant TV exposure to trivia like gossip about Paris Hilton and Britney and work to push deadly situations like the Iraq war and global warming from our discourse. This is a man who has thought about what is happening to us, and who has the vision and experience to come up with some answers.

He asked how could not just the President, but the Congress, the media and the rest of our system of checks and balances and watchdogs have let Iraq – which he called the worst strategic blunder in our history – happen? How could he public have been fooled into thinking that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11? It’s not just Bush who did that – it’s all of us. Bush is just a symptom. We are ALL responsible for the decisions our country makes. So we all have to get involved and start fixing this broken system. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

I have only had time to read excerpts from Gore’s book, The Assault On Reason, but I predict that the conversation it fuels will be fundamentally and historically important. Buy this book! And listen for news of Gore coming to your area, or appearing on TV, to talk about this subject. The guy is just on fire and I think that fire could catch and spread and help bring about the changes we need.

It’s late or I would write more. I am inspired. (does it show?) I hope that a video of this evening’s talk surfaces soon. I'll post about it if I learn of one.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:48 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A Good Statement On War Funding

Bob Borosage says this in not a poker game:

President Bush forced Democrats to “fold,” the press reports. He vetoed the Iraq funding bill that set a deadline for getting U.S. troops out of the war. The Republican minority blocked any effort to overturn the veto. Now Congress is about to vote on a funding bill the president will accept, one that doesn’t offer a path out of the mess. Bush wins, the Republicans exult, the Democrats “flinch.”

But this isn’t poker. This is life and death. The president insists on escalating the catastrophic occupation of Iraq. He scorned the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton Commission that offered a way out. He scorns the American people who voted in 2006 to bring the debacle to an end. He scorned the majority of both houses of Congress that voted to start bringing the troops home on a date certain. He sustains an occupation opposed by a majority of Americans, a majority of Iraqis and a majority of the Congress.

He is aided and abetted in this folly by the Republican minority in Congress, which votes en masse to sustain his vetoes and continue the war. They murmur their concerns, clear their throats, profile their independence, but with rare exceptions, they vote en bloc to support the president’s ruinous course.

He is aided and abetted in this folly by a minority of Democrats who are afraid to take on the president, fearful of being blamed for undermining the troops, and frightened about being held responsible for bringing the occupation to an end. They, in turn, are misled by the political consultants and the national security “experts” on the Democratic side who have been wrong from the start. They advised Democrats to vote for the war to look strong. They advised Democrats to support the president to look tough. When the folly became apparent, they advised Democrats to avoid being blamed for ending the war. At the beginning of the 2006 election, they advised that Democrats focus on the lack of body armor and the mistreatment of veterans, and stay away from the debate about the war. Now they warn Democrats to keep this “Bush’s war” and not get blamed for ending it. Their expert credentials have somehow survived their consistent inanity.

The Congress will now vote on a funding bill for Iraq that offers no change of course. Every legislator open to reason, concerned for the troops, worried about this nation’s real security, or accountable to the voters will vote against this bill.

Those who vote for it are voting to enable a rogue president. They are sacrificing the nation’s security and the lives of many young soldiers to stand with George Bush.

This vote will be registered. In every state and district of the country, voters will know where their legislator stands. There are no dodges, no excuses. Vote to sustain the rogue president’s ruinous course or vote against. This is a question of life and death, not of partisan politics or Beltway political poker. Every legislator is free to vote his or her conscience. Each should be held accountable.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:44 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Smoking Politics Radio Show - Wednesday May 23 Noon EST

Please join James and Ime today at Noon Eastern, live on BlogTalkRadio, as we discuss Tony Snow's attack on Al Gore and the irony of the Bush Administration asking something to be "fact checked." We also will continue our coverage of John Edwards's hair cut story - the smear that just won't die. We will be taking calls at (718) 508-9604. Of course, if you miss the show live, it will be archived here and you can listen at your convenience.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:12 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 22, 2007

Comment On The Gore Call

So a bunch of bloggers were on a call with Al Gore. James Boyce called later and pointed out that every single question was about the book or about important issues facing the country. The questions on this call were is stark contrast to how "professional journalists" are covering Gore's book.

James related another story. He had set up a blogger call with Governor Blanchard of Michigan, who was thinking of entering the race of DNC Chair. (I was on that call.) After the call Blanchard called James and said,

"Those are the most astute political questions I have ever been asked in all my years in politics."
(Of course he was referring to my questions, not those other bloggers.)

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Notes From A Call With Al Gore

I participated in a call between a few bloggers and Al Gore today, talking about his new book, "The Assault On Reason".. Following are a few of my notes.

The rule of reason is the balancing wheel at the center of self government.

Without reason at the center of public discussion we fall back on repetition and propagandistic messaging techniques.

--

Asked if maybe he is saying that reason was used in the past more than it really was, he responded that there was never a golden age of reason but for all the faults in the past we did have a larger role for reason and the truth. The relative role of reason has been diminished.

Today, a determined well-funded special interest can be so successful in distorting the public's understanding.

--

Bloggers are in the vanguard. What you are doing represents the new wave. How many times have you written about a mistake in the media, until a brush fire starts and the media is forced to correct their story?

--

On torture: George Washington prohibited torture during the revolutionary war. He said no to this because part of the "new way" represented by the United States included a new respect for the individual. This has been America's policy since. It has never been condoned much less promoted by the executive branch before now. It violates these ideas at the core of the new idea called America.

Torture is one symptom of decay of the core values that led to the creation of America.

--

On the Internet. When information is more than a one-way flow, when individuals can join the conversation and challenge conventional wisdoms and present facts as they see them from their unique situation in life, and share their point of view, this changes the conversation. If what they are saying resonates with others who have reached the same conclusions but have not been able to articulate or frame their insight, this is what inspires changes.

We must protect the freedom of the the Internet from those who would control the flow of information.

Update - Taylor Marsh was on the call and writes about it here and includes a recording of the entire call.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Gore Responds to White House

I am on a call with Al Gore. Gore just responded to White House press secretary Tony Snow, who said, “I don’t know if they’re going to do a reprinting of the book to try to get the facts straight. The fact-checkers may have to take a look at it.”

Gore said,

"This book, unlike the President's State of the Union Address, has been fact-checked."
Back to the call now...

My call notes are here and a comment here.

Taylor Marsh was on the call and writes about it here and includes a recording of the entire call.

Jerome Armstrong writes here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:23 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 20, 2007

Starving the Hurricane Center of Needed Funds

Mary at The Left Coaster points out that,

while starving the Hurricane Center of needed funds used for tracking hurricanes, the top administrators find millions to hold a party to rebrand the division and agency.
Bush has put in place people who think the treasury is their privat party fund. We're going to be paying for these kinds of things for the rest of our - and our children's - lives.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:59 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 18, 2007

So What?

So now the word seems to be rippling out about what has been going on in the Justice Department. Of course, bloggers have been shouting about how it was also going on in every department all along... And for once it seems like a few people beyond the bloggers actually care this time. I think at this point a majority of the informed opinion-leadership - all the liberals and even some of the conservatives (David Brooks on the NewsHour tonite, for example) - understand that the Bush administration has, basically, thrown away rule of law. The word "lawlessness" is coming up a lot.

But so what? We knew that. Great. Now more people know it. So what?

That's pretty much what Bush is saying, too. "So what? What are you going to do about it?"

And that's the question, isn't it?

Meanwhile, what does the public "know?" - in contrast to the opinion-leaders I mentioned. I scanned all three network news shows tonite and there was no mention of this supposedly huge scandal on any of them (unless I missed it.)*

But even if the public found out about all of this bruhaha -- and cared -- again, so what? No one is going to prosecute anyone for anything. I mean, they own the Justice Department and that's part of what this is about -- blocking prosecutions. They replaced everyone with Pat Robertson graduates like Monica Goodling, and fired prosecutors who were going after Republican corruption so, please, don't try to tell me anyone is going to be prosecuted.

The only "rule of law" solution available is impeachment. That ain't going to happen -- there are enough "movement" Republicans in the Senate to block impeachment even if it got that far.

So ... so what? Rule of law was so 20th-century.

Watch your backs.


* Update - No, I didn't miss it - the networks just are not covering it. Read Jamison Foser's Media Matters and Carpetbagger on this subject today.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Just Because It's Beautiful

At Smelling the Coffee - something you probably have never seen before. Just wonderful and amazing.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:57 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Third Way Is the Wrong Way

Over at the Commonweal Institute Blog

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

And Away We Go: As Al Gore's Book Gathers Steam, So Does The Smearing.

On Thursday, Time magazine put up on its website an advance article of its cover story on Al Gore's new book, with excerpts.

Immediately the right started the character assassination. Just like we predicted, there's not a word about the merits of Gore's arguments. Not a word. Why do you think that is?

MacsMind, Al Gore's assault on our intelligence:

But perhaps the greatest fraud is that Al Gore is being presented as some sort of intellectual when in fact even his ex-boss knew him to be an uninformed and downright ignorant boob.

Ankle Biting Pundits, "Prime Time" Al Gore - The Real "Assault On Reason":

"... a man who sold the most serious vote of his Senate career for 20 minutes of Prime Time TV..."

Gateway Pundit, Al Gore Assaults Reason:

In 1992 Al Gore slammed George Bush for ignoring Saddam Hussein's ties to terrorism and Saddam's building of nuclear weapons.
1992? 15 years ago? Is that the best you can do? And something happened between then and George W. Bush's claims that Iraq had WMD: The Clinton/Gore administration's massive 1998 bombing campaign destroyed Iraq's capacity to develop WMD! Anway...

Riehl World View, The Pot Meets Kettle Lifetime Achievement Ward:

He should follow-up with The Audacity of Hypocrisy and toss his hat into the ring for President. The Nutroots have to love this guy.

EconoPundit, From the man who brought you the drowning polar bear...:

Honestly, this has the same level of economic sophistication as pre-WWII arguments about Jewish bankers causing WWI.

California Conservative, Freudian Slip?:

Of all the people asking why "reason, logic and truth...play a sharply diminished role in the way America now makes important decisions," Al Gore shouldn't be the one asking. After all, his mindless rants are almost totally devoid of logic. Lord knows that they're essentially fiction, thereby stripping truth from the equation.


Jules Crittenden, Gorespeak:

He was for public dscourse before he was against it. In the same aptly named blatherfest, "The Assault on Reason." What's Al Gore got against "the rejection and distortion of science," anyway? He got an Oscar doing that.


Over at Smoking Politics, we've gotten some really nice comments some of which are actually directed as us for having the audacity to stand up for Vice President Gore.

A few of our favorites:

There is the simple:

"Al Gore is full of shit."

The odd leaps of logic:

"Wow - ridiculed, made fun of and mocked. They will tease and make fun of him.

Those fascist right-wing demogagues. Teasing Al Gore. Next stop - the gas chambers:

Grow up you left wing lunatics"

The poignant:

"You useless idiots."

And our personal favorite, hat tip and thank you to Sam:

"With a few exceptions, this is the most outrageously hilarious set of comments I've yet to see on the WWW, exactly fulfilling Dave Johnson's and James Boyce's prediction.

This site must be high on the list of the lunatic fringe of the right wing

Keep up the good work!"


Join us at Noon EST on Friday when Dave sits in as Guest-Co-Host, with James on "Heading Left's BlogTalkRadio Show" and we discuss these comments, and much more.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:53 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

BlogTalkRadio Show Today On Right's Reaction To Gore's Book

I will be Guest Co-Hosting the Heading Left BlogTalkRadio show today with James Boyce at NOON EST .

We will be discussing right-wing reaction to Gore's new book, The Assault on Truth.

blog radio

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

American Legion Members Blast Leadership

The American Legion is one more organization whose leadership has been taken over by conservative movement operatives. The leadership blindly supports Bush, no matter what -- even when he is cutting funds for wounded troops and family support. Following is a letter I received from a member:

STATEMENT FROM Hal Donahue, Lt. Col. USAF (retired)

District Deputy Commander and Lifetime member of the American Legion

Legion Cuts and runs from wounded troops, active duty troops and veterans

Thursday the American Legion leadership issued a press release. It contained two key elements which I find reprehensible. First, the American Legion condemns Congress for performing its constitutional duty. Second, and most appalling, the American Legion opposes Congressional funding to meet immediate military and veterans needs. These Congressional bills for Emergency Defense Supplemental Appropriations for FY 2007 support our troops. To paraphrase former Senator Bob Dole when informed of the crisis at Walter Reed Military Medical Center, ‘where was the American Legion?’

Congress knows we must give the troops their equipment, and we must take care of the wounded. These congressional bills add additional money for areas slighted, including funding for military and veteran health care. Walter Reed Army Medical Center is included in these bills. I am a patient at Walter Reed and I see the bravery of our troops off the battlefield both trying to recover and trying to provide the best care. I see the effects of neglect caused by the Bush administration everyday; the administration pays lip service but offers no funding. These Congressional bills support the troops, the wounded and veterans. Why doesn't the Leadership of The American Legion?

I say “American Legion leadership” because I know many members of the American Legion were simply embarrassed by positions taken by the Leadership of the organization, which blindly supports this administration's war in Iraq while just as blindly ignoring wounded military living conditions at Walter Reed.

Embarrassment is no longer the word of choice. By actively urging Congress to remove immediate and urgent funding for wounded troops, military and veterans, the American Legion leadership has crossed the line to repulsion. To actively advocate in Congress against immediate support for our troops in combat and our wounded is simply repugnant. Commander Morin and the American Legion Leadership are cutting and running on our wounded, our troops, and our Veterans.

Hal Donahue, Lt. Col. USAF (retired)

District Deputy Commander and Lifetime member of the American Legion

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:41 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 17, 2007

Carbon Tipping-Point Reached Soon?

This is bad: Rapid rise in global warming is forecast

The oceans are losing the capacity to soak up rising man-made carbon emissions, which is increasing the rate of global warming by up to 30 per cent, scientists said yesterday.

Researchers have found that the Southern Ocean is absorbing an ever-decreasing proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The excess carbon, which cannot be absorbed by the oceans, will remain in the atmosphere and accelerate global warming, they said.

[. . .] While a reduction in absorption rates by carbon sinks has long been forecast, the discovery that the Southern Ocean is mopping up less of Man’s carbon emissions has come at least two decades earlier than expected.

What they are saying is that the oceans are at their limit of carbon absorption. If this happens it could mean rapid, dramatic warming and climate change - over months not decades. Never mind oceans rising from melting ice caps -- that much of a rise in temperatures could mean mass starvation - a real die-off. And mass migration of remaining populations.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:13 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Giuliani Was Handed $11 Million - For What?

Take a look at Rudy Giuliani's speaking fees. He was paid $11.39 million in ... ahem ... "speaking fees" in 2006 and early 2007. After commissions he collected $9.195 million.

What were they buying? What was he selling?

Sage Capital Group handed Giuliani $300,000 for an "appearance." Who is Sage Capital and what are they getting for their $300K? Freescale Semiconductor gave him $100K as did RedPrarie Corporation and Gail & Rice, Inc. Global Leaders Ltd. gave him $200K. Iceland Telecom $200K.

There are dozens and dozens more like that. Go look. What are they buying?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:17 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Gmail

Is it just me or is Gmail down everywhere?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:49 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Al Gore Stands Up: Time Cover Story On The Assault On Reason Is Out

By Dave Johnson and James Boyce of Smoking Politics

This morning, thanks to our friends at "Time" we have just seen a glimpse into what we believe is one of the most important political books of the year, Al Gore's, "The Assault On Reason."

This cover story article is fair, balanced and great insight into both Al Gore and the new book.

Of course, this will also start the attacks - but what you see is a man who knows what's right, what to do and how to fight - not to mention what he is fighting far.

It will be interesting to watch the attacks, because they have to make him an object of ridicule.

Why? Well, here's a quote from a tobacco executive:

"Our offensive strategy is to shoot the messenger."

And here's the perfect example from this morning.

John Edwards wants to end the war in Iraq. Mike Huckabee wants to make fun of his haircut. That's pathetic.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:48 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 16, 2007

bad skippy

ouch

and read the comments

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:20 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Economists and Trade

Science describes what actually happens. Economists say, "If only people would do so-and-so, such-and-such would happen."

If only trade were free. If only all countries would watch out for the interests of others instead of their own... If only the really rich would share the wealth...

Economist's View: You Economists Don't Get It, Do You?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:20 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio Today At Noon EST

The Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio show with Dave Johnson and James Boyce will be live today at Noon EST, 9am Pacific. Give us a call! The call-in number is (718) 508-9604

Click this to listen live online:
Gotta Get Something Off Your Chest?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 15, 2007

Media Transparency Needs Some Bucks

Media Transparency: The money behind conservative media is the SOURCE of much of the understanding that many of have gained about how the right operates. The work they have done is basic to tracking the flow of the money from the funders to the think tanks to the pundits and operatives...

But it takes money to keep an organization going and it's time to send them some money. Their parent is Cursor.org, and that is the 501 (c) (3) that keeps things going.

This is the contributions page.

Go help.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:54 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

We Guarantee Al Gore Will Be Attacked Next Week. We Absolutely Guarantee It.

By Dave Johnson and James Boyce of Smoking Politics

All too often, Democrats are swiftboated, ozoned, attacked and smeared and after the attacks happen, sometimes they respond - sometimes they don't.

We have had enough.

Here's what we know and here's what we're going to do about it.

On Monday, Al Gore has a new book coming out next week, titled, "The Assault On Reason".

Because he is standing up, telling the truth and because he simply is a Democrat and Progressive leader, Al Gore will be smeared mercilessly by the right-wing smear machine. He will be ridiculed, made fun of and mocked. They will tease and make fun of him.

They will rush to say that he is bitter about 2000, crazy, insane, pontificating and out of touch.

They will bring up his utility bills and the boards he is a member of. They will talk about his kiss with Tipper, her crusade against vulgar rap lyrics.

They will bring up his weight and the beard. And say it's all about 2008.

But what they will not do:

TALK ABOUT WHAT'S IN THE BOOK.

Why are we so sure?

Because this is the core of the Right Wing tobacco-driven strategy. You distract. You create doubt. You sell fear and mock those that are not cool.

You have to do this if you are them because you simply can't talk about the facts. Smoking kills - how are you going to sell that little fact? By ignoring the facts and selling smoking as 'Marlboro Country' clean healthy outdoor living. Right Wing programs and policies are not good for the average American. So how do you sell them? Same way. Ignore the facts. Instead, try to kill the messenger.

In this book, Al Gore is going to go straight up against the Right Wing smear and noise machine - the one that we have been writing about at Smoking Politics. And we know what that means.

Over at Amazon you'll find this description of Gore's upcoming book:

A visionary analysis of how the politics of fear, secrecy, cronyism, and blind faith has combined with the degradation of the public sphere to create an environment dangerously hostile to reason

... We live in an age when the thirty-second television spot is the most powerful force shaping the electorate's thinking, and America is in the hands of an administration less interested than any previous administration in sharing the truth with the citizenry. Related to this and of even greater concern is this administration's disinterest in the process by which the truth is ascertained, the tenets of fact-based reasoning-first among them an embrace of open inquiry in which unexpected and even inconvenient facts can lead to unexpected conclusions.

How did we get here? How much damage has been done to the functioning of our democracy and its role as steward of our security? Never has there been a worse time for us to lose the capacity to face the reality of our long-term challenges, from national security to the economy, from issues of health and social welfare to the environment. As The Assault on Reason shows us, we have precious little time to waste.

You stand up and say this, that's courage. Just like Al Gore was right about the Iraq War back in 2002 when Democratic Senators were falling all over themselves to vote FOR THE WAR, and Al Gore was against it.

So at Smoking Politics we are going to try to be ready in advance this time. Imagine that - not on the defensive, not surprised at the smear that shows up, not scrambling around trying to figure out what to do about it.

We're going to respond the minute the first attack shows up. We're going to be researching the apparatus that transmits the smear. We're going to explain the mechanism of the smear. We're going to expose those behind the smear. And we're going to launch a pushback against the smear, into the press.

At Smoking Politics we think that going into the 2008 election cycle - whoever the candidate is - nothing matters as much as this issue - the first thing we have to defeat is this Fear and $mear strategy that has been so effective at destroying our leaders and building up their own.

For the Democratic Party, the Progressive causes it supports and for the country, taking dead aim against the Right on this issue is critical to future success. A most important but often overlooked first step is just to be able to spread the news of the existence of this system and highlight how it impacts public debate. Some of the suggested tactics may seem basic and simplistic, but they are the building blocks we need to execute in order to stand up and defend ourselves, our candidates and our values.

While many feel that the Right's power and influence is diminished by the 2006 election, and that the Republican Party is waning, nothing is further from the truth and the stakes in the next election are extremely high.

Will the party and the leadership that ozoned Al Gore, race-baited John McCain, destroyed Max Cleland and swift-boated John Kerry lay down their arms and play nice? Absolutely not. Why would they?

The famous Chinese warrior Sun Tzu says:

Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.

Al Gore is ready to fight and he understands the battle and what's at stake.

We are at peace as you can only be when you know what you're fighting for.

Are you ready to stand up and fight with us?

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

May 14, 2007

Bush Admin Helping Fund Moon Front-Group

Sun Myung Moon front group gets $80,000 in federal money to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day. The money is used to help Moon infiltrate Black churches and organizations.

And the other side of the deal, Bruce Wilson at AlterNet: Bush Family Gets Millions From Cult's Fake "Nonprofit" and at Talk To Action, More Moon Money Flows to Bush Family

Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:59 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 12, 2007

Iraq - deadliest place to be a child, anywhere.

Experts Tally Iraq War's Health Cost

Health professionals worry about the war's long-term impact in Iraq, noting that Iraqi children have the lowest rate of survival to age 5 in the world. [Emphasis mine, TL] One in 8 dies between the ages of 1 and 5, many as a result of combat or diseases, including treatable infections and cholera. Roughly 270,000 children have received no vaccinations since the start of the war, and 68 percent of the population cannot access safe drinking water.

... this is success, one to two trillion dollars later?

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 10:55 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 11, 2007

Infighting


Anyone remember "Reagan's 11th Commandment?" Worked for them, didn't it?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:29 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 9, 2007

New Bill Richardson Ads

Bill Richardson is also running for President.

Here's his campaign website: Bill Richardson for President Exploratory Committee

Also, check Americans for Richardson


Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:02 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Smoking Politics

By Dave Johnson and James Boyce

There was a time when this country worked to solve its problems.

There was a time in this country when political campaigns were about issues and solutions and ideas.

There was a time when our legislators honestly debated, and minds could be changed, and bipartisan laws could be passed.

There was a time when America was seen as an honest broker for peace, even in the Middle East. And there was even a time when there were solar panels on roof of the White House.

Ronald Reagan - the "Marlboro Man" - took office as President in 1981 - 26 years ago! That means that people under 40 today don't even remember a time when America "worked" and took care of its people and paid its bills. They don't remember a time when the people rather than the corporations and the rich made the decisions. And it especially means that they don't remember a time when campaigns were about anything other than cheap psychological tricks and smears.

Since then liberals and progressives and Democrats of all kinds and colors have been looking back in shock and awe and wondering what happened to them, and what has been happening to the country. Why have we been getting meaner and uglier and greedier and more violent?

Smoking Politics is about what has been happening to us and our country. Smoking Politics is about looking into and exposing the techniques and the tricks and the scams and the sophisticated psychological persuasion methods that are used on us. Smoking Politics is an organization and website and radio show and campaign to get ahead of this attack politics and restore America's ability to make decisions and solve problems and take care of its people again.

Why the name "Smoking Politics?" In our post announcing Smoking Politics, we wrote,

Why do we call this project "Smoking Politics?" Because the origins of the conservative strategy of Fear and $mear come out of the golden age of the tobacco companies. The tobacco companies learned that with the right combination of psychological persuasion tactics and media budget that literally anything could be marketed to the American public.

They were so good that they could persuade people to kill themselves - and to hand over their money while they did it. The right saw the success of this strategy - and noted the total lack of facts and morals involved and decided - if people will pay to smoke, maybe they could be convinced to support a right-wing agenda which was equally deadly. Maybe they could actually convince blue-collar workers to accept the right-wing agenda that asked them to give up their health care and pensions so CEOs could buy bigger jets? So they took these tactics into the political realm.

In that post we wrote about the tactics of Fear and $mear,
...the tobacco strategy of Fear and $mear, combined with the psychological persuasion tactic of "Marlboro Man" appeals to self-image and its counter-image of ridiculing and humiliating the "wimp" became America's politics.

What is Ronald Reagan's image, hat askew on his horse, if not that of the Marlboro Man?

And how did they cast Jimmy Carter to prepare the country for Reagan's campaign, if not the ineffective wimp and an object of ridicule - despite the fact that Jimmy Carter was a Navy man? Sound familiar? Fear and $mear.

So we are moving rapidly into the 2008 election season, and we're seeing the tactics of Fear and $mear coming out to poison our politics once again.

The most recent example? At the request of the Port of San Francisco, Speaker Nancy Pelosi added a $25 million in waterfront improvements for her city, San Francisco, to a water redevelopment bill passed by the House in April. The Republican Party issued a press release accusing her of corruption, falsely stating that Pelosi had inserted the "earmark" to benefit her husband, who owns property "very close" to the waterfront. AP, without checking any of the facts, wrote a story echoing the Republican Party statement, which was immediately pushed by the Drudge Report.

The right-wing amplifier kicked into action. A few examples:

Greg Sargent of TPM'S Horse's Mouth actually bothered to check the facts, and found that there was nothing to the story, that the Port had requested the improvements, and that Pelosi's husband's property was actually three miles away from the proposed improvement.

Media Matters also has details, in their post AP ran false headline on story reporting baseless GOP allegations against Pelosi

So here we are again, with the so-called "conservatives" using another lie and smear to try to sway people. How long will this continue? Until the public is made aware that they actually do just lie.

And that's what smoking Politics will be working to do - expose the lies, expose the tactic of Fear and $mear. Stop by and say hi. Or listen in today at Noon Eastern as we have our weekly BlogTalkRadio Show, "Smoking Politics Radio Show."

Listen Live

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:07 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 8, 2007

Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio Show Live at Noon EST Wednesday

The Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio show with Dave Johnson and James Boyce will be live Wednesday at Noon EST, 9am Pacific. Give us a call! The call-in number is (718) 508-9604

Click this to listen live online:
Gotta Get Something Off Your Chest?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:28 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Paying The Costs Of The Iraq Occupation - And Stopping It

Here's an idea for an "incentive-based" solution to paying the costs - human and financial - of the ongoing occupation of Iraq. If the COSTS of the occupation were actually being paid by the public-at-large - instead of borrowing the money and making our kids pay it off - it would end tomorrow.

1) A huge-ass whopping tax on everyone to pay the costs of the occupation. This comes to about $8500 for each family of four so far, not counting upcoming costs like replacement of equipment, medical care for the wounded, the cost of eventually bringing them home, etc.

2) Any family that actually sends someone to fight in the war does not have to pay the tax.

This is an opportunity for Bush supporters to - for the first time - do more than put "support the troops" stickers on their SUVs.

Comments, anyone?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:04 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 7, 2007

More Mike Gravel - "Left-Wing Fringe"

I came across this New York Magazine interview with Mike Gravel, and it is one more example of why mainstream, grassroots people are turning away from the "traditional" media. Many are turning to blogs.

We Do Not Understand What the Hell Mike Gravel Is Talking About - New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer,

The star of last week's Democratic presidential debate was a fringe contender Mike Gravel, 77, a former Alaska senator, who became a blogosphere sensation for saying that it should be a felony for Dubya & Co. to stay in Iraq.
OK, let's take this step by step. Why is the word "fringe" in there? Next, that is not what the guy said. He said the following,
We need to find another way. I really would like to sit down with Pelosi and with Reid, and I would hope the other senators would focus on, how do you get out? You pass the law, not a resolution, a law making it a felony to stay there. And I'll give you the text of it.

And if you're worried about filibuster, here's what you do tactically. They can pass it in the House. We've got the votes there.

We've got the votes there.

In the Senate, let them filibuster it. And let Reid call up every -- at 12:00 every day to have a cloture vote. And let the American people see clearly who's keeping the war going and who's not.

And then, of course, is the nasty ending:
Do you think Dennis Kucinich is angry you're stealing his thunder as the left-wing fringe candidate?
Stop that. I'm not the far-left fringe candidate, and please don't write that. We've had somewhat of a testy conversation in this interview, and now we've got to end this.
"Left-wing fringe" Right.

So there's a Neiman Macrus ad and a Delta Airlines ad on the page. Their media kit says they have 90,000 unique visitors per day. (yeah, right.) Their rate card says there is a $20,000 minimum to run an ad there. The Neiman Marcus ad has a $40 CPM which means they pay $3600 each day so those supposed 90,000 unique visitors can hear about how Americans who oppose the Iraq war are the "left-wing fringe".

I don't charge nearly as much for an ad, and I don't insult readers. Except certain ones. You know who you are.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:53 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Why People Read Blogs

Through Atrios: Firedoglake - Firedoglake weblog サ Zombies,

I don't know what it's going to take to kill the "teenagers in their pajamas" stereotype but I suppose I should be grateful. If these people were any less lazy and stupid we wouldn't have a readership.
Exactly. The reason blogger have readers is because the "traditional" media is not serving the public interest.

In the above-referenced post, Jane quotes from the 2006 Blogads Readership Survey:

The median political blog reader is a 43 year old man with an annual family income of $80,000. He reads 6 blogs a day for 10 hours a week. 39% have post-graduate degrees. 70% have contributed to a campaign.
Here's the thing. News is now a business, not a public service. There is a fundamental conflict between serving the larger public good and being a business. It is one or the other, not both. It is foolish to have any other expectation.

The only way to change that is to mandate that the media act in the public interest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:50 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Governor Bill Richardson Interview

Heading Left's Blog Talk Radio show interviews Gov. Richardson. If you're interested this is a good listen. Just click the link, and it will start playing. (I am not on the show.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Human Food Contaminated - Where Is The Noise?!

Pet food recall: I was wrong,

When I started covering the pet food recall ... I thought that if this had happened to human food, it would have been taken more seriously.
But no, now we know it IS in the human food chain, and it is NOT being taken seriously. We haven't even banned grain and other food imports from China until this is sorted out!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:13 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post

I haven't done a housing bubble post for a while, so here is a roundup.

Lenders have "tightened up" on their requirements to qualify for a loan, so fewer buyers are qualifying: As mortgage lending tightens, house hunters with weak credit get shut out,

Rising interest rates and dropping home prices have squeezed a market that had been propped up by risky loans and easy credit during the housing boom. As mortgage bills came due, foreclosures rose, and the easy credit dried up for families like the Shields.

[. . .] This year, the volume of subprime mortgages is expected to drop by about 30 percent, said...

So there are fewer buyers.

Meanwhile, foreclosures are up, which means more houses for sale with special deals. So just as there are fewer buyers, there are more sellers.

Stories like these, around the country: National: Brace for wave of foreclosures,

More than 1.1 million homeowners will lose their homes to foreclosure by 2014 because they can't afford the rising payments on their adjustable-rate mortgages, according to a researcher.
Kansas: Foreclosures up as loan rates adjust,
"We're just in the first wave of anniversaries now," Hermes said. "There will be a second, third and maybe a fourth wave of foreclosures. Then, all the people who are getting subprime loans now -- they'll start to kick in."
Sacramento: Foreclosures Hurting Local Property Values: Many Homeowners Forced To Take Loss

West Michigan: Foreclosures on a sharp rise

Florida: Foreclosures through the roof in Manatee

Minneapolis: Foreclosures take a toll on North Minneapolis

Here's one that will make us all weep - maybe even send a donation. Second home sales plunge,

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that sales of second homes for investment fell by 28.9 percent in 2006 to 1.65 million. That was down from an all-time high of 2.32 million investment homes sold in 2005, at the peak of the five-year housing boom.
But don't cry too hard, because Vacation home sales set record.

Where will this lead? There are too many houses for sale, at the highest prices ever, with fewer buyers. So prices will fall. Especially as the foreclosures come up for sale, because those sellers aren't holding out, thinking there is still a huge inflated bubble - they are being sold by banks that just want enough cash to cover what they are owed...

The only question is how far will prices fall? And how any people will be wiped out?

Remember - check if you have funds in a :money market account" and whether it is government insured, because these "mortgage instruments" are all over the place now, and might no tbe worth the paper they are printed on.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:56 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Mike Gravel Info

Here's where to find some info on Presidential candidate Mike Gravel. I like that this guy is in the race.

Senator Mike Gravel for President

Students for Gravel

Salon Article today: Don't worry, be Mike Gravel,

Gravel's support seems to be coming from those disaffected Democrats who, tired of politics as usual, watched the debate and saw a fiery man no one had heard from for 25 years saying things no other candidate would dare.



Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:43 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Foriegn Policy Under Obama - more of the same, with a human face?

Sourced via the UK (and a California Green Party activist):

Kagan [a leading neoconservative and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century in the late 1990s] wrote approvingly that a keynote speech by Obama at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs was “pure John Kennedy”, a neocon hero of the cold war.

In his speech, Obama called for an increase in defence spending and an extra 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 marines to “stay on the offense” against terrorism and ensure America had “the strongest, best-equipped military in the world”. He talked about building democracies, stopping weapons of mass destruction and the right to take unilateral action to protect US “vital interests” if necessary, as well as the importance of building alliances.

“Personally, I liked it,” Kagan wrote.

[Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1752381.ece]


***

Here's the lead from Kagan's column:

America must "lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good." With those words, Barack Obama put an end to the idea that the alleged overexuberant idealism and America-centric hubris of the past six years is about to give way to a new realism, a more limited and modest view of American interests, capabilities and responsibilities.

[Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/27/AR2007042702027.html?nav=emailpage]

***

Here's Obama's speech:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/04/remarks_of_senator_barack_obam.html

I really don't have the mental energy to engage in a comprehensive analysis of this. Suffice it to say, I understand why a neo-conservative like Kagan would be attracted to Obama's vision ... it is the liberal version of the neo-conservative ideal. America ascendant, the shining light, the imperial empire with a human face - in essence, a different rationale for the same massively interventionist behavior abroad. ... and we know what a hundred years of that have produced, rain or shine, Republican or Democrat, in the Caribbean, Central and South America, the Philipines, Africa, South-east Asia, etc.

... and for some historical context (Nov. 2005) ... oddly enough, Kagan appears to have linked to this speech in his article (an error? it points to a similar speech in Chicago before a similarly named organization)...

http://obama.senate.gov/speech/051122-moving_forward_in_iraq/index.html

***

Boy, I'm really excited: an increase in defense spending, adding 100,000 new members of the military, unilateral action... what more could us peace-loving anti-war activists want?

... but we know that in Washington, D.C., being "anti-war" means being "anti badly managed wars in Iraq" for all but a handful of our representatives. It doesn't mean deconstructing the American imperial empire and actually being against war in general as a tool of foreign policy and being for redirecting more than a fraction of the trillions aimed at the Pentagon to more socially beneficial purposes. My local House Rep., Sam Farr (D-Santa Cruz, CA), is solidly liberal, and clearly thinks that he's being aggressive and progressive in proposing that just $60 billion of the $400 billion dollar defense budget (as he defines it) should be redirected elsewhere. Dismantling the Amercian imperial empire is just not on the agenda of even progressive Democrats in Washington, D.C.

I'm not saying that Obama wouldn't be a vast improvement over the lunacy we've had inflicted on us over the last six years - it feels really good, by contrast, when you stop pounding your bloodied head against the wall... at the same time, is this really the standard of comparison we should just our leaders by?

Shouldn't we expect more?

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May 5, 2007

Obama and the Race Zombies

Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:09 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Try To Remember Peace

Every day, several times a day: Suicide attack on army recruits kills 15,

In a separate incident, five Iraqi police officers were discovered shot, killed and dumped in a deserted field outside the city of Beiji, 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Baghdad late Friday, police said Saturday.

[. . .] Residents and police in a Shiite area in eastern Baghdad said U.S. helicopters early Saturday fired on three houses, killing six men and wounding a woman and five children. The U.S. military said a helicopter supporting ground operations in the area was attacked with small-arms fire but "did not return fire."

... In all, at least 40 people were killed or found dead in scattered violence. Those included a policeman killed in a suicide car bomb attack and a woman who died in a mortar attack in Baghdad, as well as three people killed in clashes between Shiite and Sunni militants north of the capital.

In southern Baghdad, U.S. soldiers on a routine patrol Friday searched a suspicious blue tanker truck and discovered it had been converted into a large truck bomb, the military said.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:59 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 4, 2007

Fred Thompson Writing At Anti-Semitic Website

I received this in my e-mail, from the far-right website Townhall. What is Fred Thompson, possible Republican presidential candidate doing writing there?

In the screenshot of the e-mail I received below, see Thompson advertised right under "What is it with Jews and guns?" It is an article about how Liberals are Jews and Jews are "paranoid."

Click for larger image

I've written about the the anti-Jewish stuff on this site before. Previous Townhall stuff includes,

The sad fact is that the ACLU is made up in good part of Jews, and it is that organization and its lawyers who are leading the assault against Christmas.
So what is Fred Thompson doing writing for them? Is this how he drums up support from the far-right of the Republican "base?"

Seriously, which Republican will denounce this stuff, rather than participate in it?

Another screen shot follows in the extended entry.

Here is his listing at the site.

Click for larger image

The site is also carries articles that say things like:

Since 9/11, many of us have wondered: Where are the moderate Muslims? If they are out there, why are we not hearing more, and getting more help, from them in the fight against our common foe -- the totalitarian Islamists?
And,
...no Islamic leader or cleric has denounced those who recruit, indoctrinate, train and arm the suicide bombers who kill children.
And this,
In addition to not being a country, the "European Union" happens to be composed of people who hate our guts. It is the continent where Moveon.org-style lunatics are the friendly, pro-American types and the rest are crazy Muslims.
But Wait! There's More! Stuff like this: Why Feminist Mommies are like Pimps,
The liberated feminists in our society see this as the ultimate victory. Eliminating men from the lives of children in their book is a very good thing.
And this: Mormonism: Religion, Denomination, or Cult?

Is THIS how Fred Thompson wants to be known?

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

Video: Republican Law and Disorder

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May 3, 2007

SP Alert: Dick Cheney Rips Condoleeza Rice For Talking With Syrians.

Dave Johnson and James Boyce

Secretary of State Condolezza Rice met with the Syrian Foreign Minister today, incurring the wrath of the administration and conservative pundits. Leading the criticism was Vice President Dick Cheney.

In an interview with ABC News, Vice President Dick Cheney said Assad has "been isolated and cut off because of his bad behavior, and the unfortunate thing about the "Secretary of State's meeting" is it sort of breaks down that barrier."

Conservative pundits and the White House itself further piled on the Secretary of State. The criticism was direct, clear and very personal.
White House spokesperson Dana Perino strongly criticized "Rice's planned meeting" saying, "We think it is a really bad idea. People should take a stop back and think about the message it sends and the message it sends to our allies," Perino said.

The Heritage Foundation is particularly upset at the incident.
"Rice's meeting is likely to undermine the Bush administration's foreign policy and help the Syrians go back to business as usual - much to the dismay of our Lebanese, Iraqi, and Israeli friends, all of whom want the United States to take a tougher stand against Syria," Jim Phillips, a research fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Heritage Foundation, told Cybercast News Service .

Yes, we did change all the names in the quotes from Nancy Pelosi to Condolezza Rice to make a simple point.

It is right to talk with the Syrians.

It's hypocritical, repugnant and wrong to point the right wing noise machine at Speaker Pelosi for doing exactly what you're doing.

Bloggers refer to this double standard as "IOKIYAR"


Please join us as we talk about subjects like this this at Smoking Politics and on our "Smoking Politics Radio Show."

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

Contaminated Food Supply?

News stories are starting to make it look like the contamination that has been killing dogs and cats might also be in the human food supply. Where is the FDA? The public needs to know what to do! (Or has everyone at that agency been replaced with Pat Robertson infiltrators like at the Justice Department and FEMA?)

American regulators admit that six weeks after one of the biggest pet food recalls in U.S. history, they still do not know who in China manufactured the contaminated pet food ingredients or where in China the contamination took place.

Though the agency has named two Chinese companies as the suppliers of the tainted vegetable protein, regulators suspect the companies may not have been making the feed but buying it from other feed manufacturers in China. Those producers, regulators believe, may have intentionally mixed melamine into the feed to artificially inflate the level of protein in the bags to meet pet food requirements.

... Worried that the contaminant could continue to enter the United States and also seep into the human food supply through additives, regulators have blocked all Chinese imports of wheat gluten and warned importers to screen nearly every other kind of food and feed additive entering the country from China, including corn gluten and soy protein.

There is NOTHING that says this stuff stayed in animal food. We already know that pork and chickens were contaminated and then eaten by people...
More coming on this.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:30 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Domestic Terrorism Ignored

The other day I wrote about two domestic terrorism incidents that ere ignored by the media. Orcinus: The other kind of terror has more. Go read.

But remember: The FBI has de-emphasized right-wing extremist crimes and displaced them with an emphasis on "eco terror" as far as its chief domestic-terror concern. This is in no small part because this administration is being run by people who don't consider bombings and arson against abortion clinics to be terrorism.

[. . .] Of course, acknowledging that this is the case would require a major readjustment of the media's constructed narrative about the "war on terror." So it continues to turn a blind eye, and in the process it profoundly misinforms the public.

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

May 2, 2007

Congress should pass a Bring Home the Troops appropriation bill, not an Iraq War appropriation bill

Instead of sending Bush any form of Iraq War appropriation bill, Congress should send him a nice fat "Bring Home the Troops" appropriation bill. Give him no money at all for the war, and as much money as is needed to protect the troops and get them out of there.

The "abandoning our troops on the battlefield" accusation is lying bullshit, and appropriating money to get them off the battlefield would show that.

Posted by John Emerson at 6:46 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Listening to Recent Shows

Speaking of the Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio show, in the right-hand column I have added a media player, that will always play the most recent show.

It looks like this: (click the right-arrow in the left side of the media player to hear the show)

The most recent show:



Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:00 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Links From Today's Smoking Politics Show

Here are the links we promised from today's Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio show:

Psychology Today : The Ideological Animal,

"In one study, they exposed some participants to the letters WTC or the numbers 9/11 in an image flashed too quickly to register at the conscious level. They exposed other participants to familiar but random combinations of letters and numbers, such as area codes. Then they gave them words like coff__, sk_ll, and gr_ve, and asked them to fill in the blanks. People who'd seen random combinations were more likely to fill in coffee, skill, and grove. But people exposed to subliminal terrorism primes more often filled in coffin, skull, and grave. "The mere mention of September 11 or WTC is the same as reminding Americans of death," explains Solomon."


Fear of death may factor into who we vote for

Fear as the driving political belief

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:44 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio Show Live at Noon EST

The Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio show with Dave Johnson and James Boyce will be live today at Noon EST, 9am Pacific. Give us a call! The call-in number is (718) 508-9604

Click this to listen live online:
Gotta Get Something Off Your Chest?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:32 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

May 1, 2007

Britney Joining Pussycat Dolls?

The big news rocking the liberal/progressive political world is the news that Britney may be joining the singing/dancing group Pussycat Dolls! Britney was seen leaving the Pussycat Dolls dance studio earlier today.

britn.jpg

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