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June 30, 2007

Transcript Of My Questions For Speaker Pelosi

Mike Stark has posted a diary at DailyKos that includes a transcript of my "Rule of Law" questions for Speaker Pelosi. Daily Kos: I talked impeachment with Nancy Pelosi (audio),

[. . .] Dave Johnson (of Seeing the Forest): We seem to be at a historic time right now with an administration that is starting to frankly assert that they are above the rule of law, and I’m wondering if you as Speaker can give us a short statement on this issue and what Congress is prepared to do to re-assert the rule of law of the people of the country.
And you have to go there to read the answer. (Remember to click the Recommend button while you are there.)

BONUS - My follow-up question, "Dave: Just a quick follow-up. What are you going to do about it?"

Update - More, with analysis, at BraveNewFilms Blog: Speaker Pelosi on The War, Impeachment and Accountability.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:06 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Politics of Cancer

Setting the Stage: Part One in a Series on the Politics and PR of Cervical Cancer | Center for Media and Democracy

Many women, myself included, have been affected by cervical cancer or Human Papillomavirus (HPV) at some point in their lives. In this series of four articles, I will examine HPV and Gardasil -- the facts, the hype, and what Merck stands to gain; the marketing campaigns promoting Gardasil in the U.S. and the media's lack of attention to concerns about the rush to mandate vaccination; the role of the non-profit group Women In Government in promoting mandatory vaccination against HPV; and what is going on outside of the U.S. on this issue.
Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:51 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 29, 2007


Is money bad for us?

We were talking - about the love that's gone so cold and the people, Who gain the world and lose their soul.

Sometimes I wonder, is music better when it is done for art and not for sales or popularity?

Are bloggers better because they aren't doing it for the money? Does a deadline make you regurgitate conventional wisdoms, or hopes of a paycheck douse the passion and anger?

How much have we lost to today's worship of "market forces?" Have we lost our souls?

We were talking about the space between us all and people who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion never glimpse the truth then it's far too late when they pass away

We were talking
about the love we all could share
When we find it
to try our best to hold it there
with our love, with our love
we could save the world
if they only knew

Try to realize it's all within yourself
no one else can make you change
And to see you're really only very small
and life flows on within you and without you

We were talking
about the love that's gone so cold
and the people who gain the world
and lose their soul
They don't know, they can't see
Are you one of them

When you've seen beyond yourself
then you may find
peace of mind is waiting there
And the time will come
when you see we're all one
and life flows on within you and without you

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:20 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

When Drudge Links...

The Drudge Report linked to Seeing the Forest yesterday and of course the server went down... And of course I get the e-mails from the well-informed wingnuts. My favorite:

Subject line: the fairness doctring

you liberal are such hypocrits, you can't win the debate so you have to make laws to stop it. i guees Hugo Chaves would be proud. you liberals all pieces of shit who should be hung for treason. thank God we have republicans that love this country. you bunch dumbasses.
Update - A question for readers: DO I 'bunch dumbasses?"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:23 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Working America's Ask-A-Lawyer

Cliff Schecter writea about Working America's Ask-A-Lawyer program:

Can my boss really do that? How many of us find ourselves asking that very question on a weekly, if not daily basis? Well now we just may get the answers we seek. Because Working America, the 1.6 million-member community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, who provides a voice for those of us denied the right to union membership on the job, has started their "Ask-A-Lawyer" program.
Go read the whole thing.

By the way, I am a member of Working America. Are you? If you are not otherwise in a union, you should be.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:22 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Why I don't have health insurance...

PNHP's Senior Health Policy Fellow Don McCanne, M.D. writes a daily health policy update, taking an excerpt or quote from a health care news story or analysis on the Internet and commenting on its significance to the single-payer health care reform movement. My mother forwarded me his posting for June 29th, 2007 (not yet up on the site as of this writing), discussing a paper produced by Health Access on the topic of high deductible insurance plans.

The money quote:

...the high deductible plans would only add more stress to the thin financial resources of middle-income families and do little to protect families from significant medical debts of thousands of dollars. An individual mandate for a high-deductible plan would have a perverse result of bringing a middle-income family closer to bankruptcy, not protecting it.

... and that, short and sweet, is why I don't carry health insurance at this point - the insurance I can afford wouldn't make any substantive difference with regards to whether I went bankrupt as a result of getting severely ill, and it wouldn't offer any advantage over simply paying cash on the barrelhead to deal with minor illnesses.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:13 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 28, 2007

Hosting Problems

If you are reading this at all, you are lucky.

The Drudge Report linked to the Pelosi Call post below, and the current hosting company, Living Dot, just was not up to the task. The site was completely down, and even now a few hours later only one in ten visitors is getting through. They still don't have things working. And they charge a very high price for what they describe as "premium bandwidth."

So I will be finding a new hosting company soon. I don't think any readers will notice the change.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:24 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A Chat With Speaker Pelosi - Updated

I was on a conference call with Speaker Pelosi that just ended. I'll cover the major points here and go into detail later.

She is introducing a major energy package, talked about the "Greening of the Chairmen" of the committees, this bill has CAFE standards, the beginnings of an energy tax... More coming in September.

John Aravosis asked about the anti-gay amendment in the DC funding bill, Speaker Pelosi pointed out that the Democratic Congress just got LGBT language added to the Hate Crimes act, that they will take this amendment out in conference.

She said she is determined to end the war, it is her top priority, no one would have believed that she could have gotten all the Dems in such unity to pass the timelines that Bush vetoed and that they are going to announce legislation in the next day or two putting hard timelines, not goals, back into the funding.

She says September is everything. "The President can not kick the can down the road again."

Taylor Marsh asked about the Fairness Doctrine and Rep. Spence's amendment to prohibit enforcement of the fairness doctrine on conservative talk radio. Speaker Pelosi said this will not come to the floor, that she is solidly behind bringing back the Fairness Doctrine. Update - correction The wording was along the lines of Rep. Slaughter has made this her work to restore it (Fairness Doctrine), Pence's bill won't make it to the floor; they won't be able to stop the Fairness Doctrine through his bill, everyone knows my position on this.

Bob Geiger asked about how the Republicans are blocking the 9/11 bill - already passed by the House and the Senate - from going to conference. This bill implements the 9/11 commission's recommendations. Speaker Pelosi said that it was public pressure that forced Bush to have a 9/11 Commission at all. Now we need to generate public pressure over this.

"If there is a key to breaking this obstructionism, 9/11 is that key."

I asked about Rule of Law, in this historic time when the Administration is frankly asserting that they are above the law, as Speaker, what can she say about The People taking back the power and rule of law. She says they are trying to build a record. For 6 1/2 years there was no oversight and no accountability, and now there is and they are building a record so people can see what is going on. Corruption, cronyism and incompetence. Corruption of governmental processes. Stunning. Have to build a record, Rep. Waxman is doing a spectacular job at oversight and building a record.

Let the process work out. The courts are not friendly to us - the DC court is packed with judges who are "all in the family" (She means far-right Federalist Society judges that always, always rule for Republicans.) Their decisions will not be in our favor and will set precedents if we are not careful.

We owe the American people checks on the Executive Branch. They tried to eliminate Judicial Review, even Justice O'Connor was appalled at what they were doing and spoke out about it after she left the Court.

This administration does not respect oversight, don't want judicial review. It is impossible to exaggerate how bad this administration is.

I asked OK, what are you going to do about it? She said exercise oversight, build the record, win back the White House and restore rule of law. Problems - that DC court. Cheney lost a big ruling and ignored it, but the next step was that DC court, and taking it there would have established a precedent so they decided not to take it to a higher court.

Build the record, make it known to the public, use it in the campaign. They need OUR help (bloggers, etc) to help the public see what is going on, get them aware of these issues.

Someone asked What about impeaching at least Gonzales to establish that Democrats support the rule of law.

A) Got to where we are by oversight. Instead of impeach, build a public record. The coming election is a place to make changes, need to talk about a progressive economic agenda for the people. We have shown our strength, now it is time to show our greatness.

I have to meet someone - will expand on this and give my thoughts later.

Update - blog posts from others on the call:

Scholars & Rogues

Essentially, Pelosi argued that we need to push forward and get a Dem in the White House in 2008 to really start enacting serious change, noting that even with majorities in both Houses, the Dems’ power could not overcome the 60 Senate votes needed to beat a Bush veto, and that the courts would be particularly unfriendly to Democratic moves for criminal investigations unless they substantially “built the cases” for each move. “Let the process play out,” she said. “Oversight isn’t political, it’s patriotic.”

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:46 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 27, 2007

A GREAT Smoking Politics Show Today!

I recommend that everyone listen in. Dr. Allan Brandt talked about his book The Cigarette Century. Just click the BlogTalkRadio icon below - I set it up to always play THIS show - and the show starts playing when you get to the page.

blog radio

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

Cigarett Century on Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio Show Today At Noon EST

Today at noon listen live and call in at (718) 508-9604

Listen Live

The Smoking Politics, BlogTalkRadio show interviews Dr. Allan Brandt, author of The Cigarette Century. This is an important book, and Dr. Brandt tells an important story about how the tobacco industry shaped the 20th century.

So tune in. And if you miss the show you can always listen to it later.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:26 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 26, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards Confronts Ann Coulter

Think Progress サ Elizabeth Edwards Confronts Coulter During Live Television Appearance

Watch it:


Why was this woman FEATURED on a national show, when we all know that her entire routine is hate speech? Shame on Chris Matthews. Shame on MSNBC.

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

Gore Accused Of Scaring Children

Shorter version - Conservatives tried to soothe people, telling them not to be afraid after 9/11, but Al Gore is scaring people about global warming, which scientists don't even agree is real. No, this is not a joke.

Emily Yoffe - Gloom and Doom in A Sunny Day,

It doesn't seem sustainable to expect people to remain terrified by such a disinterested, often benign -- it was so nice eating out on the patio! -- and even unpredictable enemy. (I understand we're the enemy, but the executioner is the weather.) Recall that the experts told us last year would be a record-setting hurricane season, but the series of Katrinas never materialized.

... It's also hard to believe assertions that the science on the future of our climate is settled when climate scientists can't agree about the present -- or the past (there is contention about the dates, causes and even the existence of the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age that followed). Now, Gore and others say that Katrina was a product of global warming and that we can expect more and bigger storms. But there is actually brisk scientific debate over the role global warming plays -- if any -- in the creation of hurricanes.

OK, we know that Exxon is paying $10K a pop for stories that spread doubt about global warming. And here it is in the Washington Post.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Republicans Filibuster Against Right To Unionize

Just so there is no mistaking who is for and who is against the right to have a union. Not one Republican voted for this. There are no "moderate Republicans" - not when it counts.
Senate Republicans block union bill,

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a bill that would allow labor unions to organize workplaces without a secret ballot election.

... The outcome was not a surprise, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying for months that he would stop the legislation in the Senate. The White House also made clear that if the bill passed Congress it would be vetoed.

...The GOP also plans to use the vote for election-year campaigning, with corporations and businesses being the top opponents to the legislation. The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent out a fundraising video last week asking people to contribute in order to help stop the Employee Free Choice Act.

... The bill would require employers to recognize unions after being presented union cards signed by a majority of eligible workers on their payrolls.

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

Last Week's Take Back America Conference - Building Bridges

I attended the Take Back America conference last week, and it was great. I am inspired, and you should be, too.

Two years ago I was at this same conference and it was a very different experience. I felt it was attending a tired, demoralized gathering of people associated with the older, Washington-based, established, celebrity-driven issue-organizations. I left discouraged, wondering when the liberal establishment would start to catch up with the ideas circulating around the blogosphere – especially with the ideas about building “progressive infrastructure” organizations for reaching out to the public and promoting core progressive values and ideas, instead of the focus on issues.

After that conference I wrote,

At the recent Take Back America conference … it seemed to me that the focus was largely on development of political infrastructure - the tactical field operations for getting out the vote. This is, of course, necessary. But that effort is one of trying to get to the polls a larger and larger share of a shrinking base.
This conference was very different. At the opening plenary session, Bob Borosage, one of the two heads of Campaign for America’s Future, gave a visionary talk. I “live-blogged” it at the time, writing,
Bob Borosage is speaking, his theme: the conservative era is at an end and our task is to outline what comes next.

Summary: They failed - Iraq, Katrina, economy not working for working people. So we have to make sure he public understands this. The conservative words sound good because they are meant to -- they have been tested to sound good. But the reality of what they did is different.

Katrina was a teachable movement, but you do have to teach it. Republicans aren't going to, they will say that things went wrong because they were not conservative enough. But they failed not simply because they were corrupt and incompetent - they failed because they get the world wrong, and we have to teach this lesson over and over again so Americans learn it.

… The progressive bloggers are here and they have taught us how to fight.

This is not the time for timidity - don't want to hear people talking about tracking to the elusive "center." This is our time to claim the future. We have to grab this opportunity and if we don't grab it somebody else will and they will take it in the wrong direction. [emphasis added]

This year's conference invited bloggers, had a “Blogger Boulevard,” gave a Maria Leavey activist award, and gave an award to the “progressive bloggers” at a Gala Dinner in front of a well-dressed Washington DC crowd. These are the people who had been hearing that bloggers are scary, uncivil, foul-mouthed and hairy. But we weren’t, and they saw that. Digby’s talk ( read a transcript here and see a video here) set just the right tone. This event built bridges between the progressive netroots and the Washington establishment, and the payoff for both will be huge. And I give credit and kudos to Bob Borosage and Roger Hickey and the Campaign for America’s Future for building this bridge!

The sessions/panels covered the right topics - sessions like How Conservatism Has Failed and The New Progressive Majority.

Of course, the self-organized session Reaching the Public was the most important. But seriously, I attended one session, Winning Hearts and Minds: Why Rational Appeals are Irrational if Your Goal is Winning Elections put on by Drew Westen, author of The Political Brain (see my earlier post) that was important to our understanding of how people make political and voting decisions.

Also at this conference the Democratic Party candidates for President spoke. I "live-blogged" Barack Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton's speeches. Obama was the winner. He gave a rousing, solidly progressive talk with a delivery that you have to experience in person. I hadn't been a big Obama fan before this, but now I am starting to understand the appeal. (I like all three of them and will be happy whoever gets the nomination.)

So things are changing. The netroots and the DC crowd are connecting. The activists are all talking infrastructure and core values instead of selfishly splintering into issue silos. And the energy level is high.

Next it is on to YearlyKos in August in Chicago, the big netroots gathering. It is an exciting time - sign up to be a part of it!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:31 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Employee Free Choice Fear and Smear

Bob Geiger has a post up: BobGeiger.com: GOP Gives Employee Free Choice Act Fear-And-Smear Treatment.

The Employee Free Choice Act helps restore some ability for employees to unionize. Under Reagan and then under Bush it has become nearly impossiblefor employees to form a union, and those trying to do so get fired. This is against the law, of course, but who enforces the law when it brushes up against what the big corporations want? And the big corporations do NOT want unions.

So the Republicans are out there with the fear and smear tactics. Read Bob's post for examples.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:06 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Dr. Allan Brandt Helps Us Put The Smoking In Politics.

Dave Johnson and James Boyce

Over at Smoking Politics, we tell and re-tell and constantly point out that the right wing strategy of lie big, ignore the facts and shoot the messenger wasn't created out of thin air, it was started with great success by the tobacco companies almost a century ago.

The clearest current example of the attempts to muddy the water on whether cigarettes actually cause cancer, oh wait, that was the last example, now they're muddying the waters with Global Warming.

It's the same strategy - shoot the messenger (Al Gore, Laurie David, Sheryl Crow.) Deny the facts. Spend tens of millions of dollars to form front groups. And hope you can delay the inevitable support for the facts and for the truth to come out.

As we've learned more and more about this, and the fact that Karl Rove is a former tobacco marketing consultant, we discovered a remarkable book, "The Cigarette Century." In it, Dr. Allan Brandt outlines the true horror of what the tobacco companies did, and in many places around the world, continue to do.

Here's a quote from The Washington Post's review of the book.

I defy anyone to read the middle chapters of The Cigarette Century, the ones that detail the foundation of the Tobacco Institute and the industry's efforts to muddy scientific waters, and not come away with a burning need to drive down to North Carolina and find someone to throttle. Or Madison Avenue. Among the many villains Brandt skillfully waterboards are executives at the public relations giant Hill & Knowlton, which during the 1950s single-handedly orchestrated Big Tobacco's campaign to undermine anti-smoking advocates and scientists up to and including the surgeon general. No lie was too big to tell, no bit of pseudo-science too ridiculous to pass off as legitimate. Parents, if you have teenagers considering a career in p.r., have them read this first. I can't remember the last time I read a more scathing indictment of corporate malfeasance.

On Wednesday at Noon Eastern, we will have Dr. Brandt on our Smoking Politics Radio Show, and also hope to have Rick Perlstein call in as well.

If you've ever wondered how the Right figured out how to ozone Al Gore and Swift Boat John Kerry, you have to listen in and learn just how orchestrated this strategy has been, and just how successful as well.

Listen Live

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:35 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 25, 2007

Fairness Doctrine

The right has launched a pre-emptive attack on the Fairness Doctrine.

Contradiction alert:
if the right says the media is dominated by liberals, why would they oppose a doctrine requiring presentation of differing points of view? Oops!

WorldNetDaily: Democrats hope to hush Rush

The Conservative Voice: The Nazification of the American Left,

..Given their desire to censor, even to prohibit, conservative speech, it is clear that American liberals are much more in tune with Goebbels than with our cherished First Amendment rights. ... Imagine what Goebbels could have accomplished if he’d had what American fascists have had at their disposal for decades: four major television networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN – with a stable of star-quality propagandists, such as Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, Bill Moyers, Keith Olbermann, and Rosie O’Donnell, in their pocket. ... George Soros, the anti-American billionaire who now owns a controlling interest in the party ...
Drudge is pushing it, too

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:29 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Slowwwww!

Slow sales, prices keep dropping.

Home Sales Hit Slowest Pace in 4 Years: Financial News,

Reflecting further housing troubles, sales of existing homes fell in May to the lowest level in four years while the median home price dropped for a record 10th consecutive month.

... The median price of a home sold last month dropped to $223,700, down 2.1 percent from a year ago. It marked the 10th straight price decline compared with a year ago, the longest stretch of weakness on record.

I noticed this weekend that MANY more "For Sale" signs are out in the Bay Area than before.

Update - My observation is confirmed: Housing inventory piling up: Inventory of homes for sale hits 15-year high,

The inventory of previously owned homes up for sale in May rose to the highest level in relation to sales in 15 years, a real-estate trade group said Monday.

... Inventories of homes on the market rose by 5% to a record 4.43 million, representing an 8.9-month supply at the May sales pace. That's the biggest overhang of inventory since June 1992, at the tail end of the last housing bust.
The inventory figure compared with 8.4 months in April and 7.4 months in March.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:06 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 24, 2007

Tell Me What You Think Of John Kerry

I'd like to ask a question of my readers. What do you think about whether Senator John Kerry should run again? He has a primary challenger named Ed O'Reilly now, and I am wondering whether you think netroots types should support Kerry or the challenger? Is Kerry a good Senator - or bad enough that we should support a challenge?

Let me know by e-mail or by comments here. Thanks.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:57 AM | Comments (12) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Political Brain

At the Take Back America conference I attended a session put on by Drew Weston, author of The Political Brain. He takes a Lakoff-style look at the language and narrative, adds a psychologist/neuroscientist look at how the brain works and then turns it all into a practical look at how to use this information in politics.

Here is a book review.

From the book:

In his handling of the Swift Boat affair, what Kerry effectively told the American people was what he would do if America were attacked: he would wait an inordinate amount of time until he had gathered enough evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, use polls and focus groups to see what kind of response Americans preferred, and then write our enemies a letter imploring them to stop their terrorist acts immediately.

Sometimes, the meta-message is the message.

I have ordered the book.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:52 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 23, 2007

Blank Paper Utility

At last, the product we all have been waiting for: Blank Paper Utility!

When you need a blank sheet of paper, use this product!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:39 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 22, 2007

Another Top DOJ Official Resigns

It is Friday evening, so it's time for Republicans to release news...

Jeralyn at TalkLeft: Another Top DOJ Official Resigns,

William Mercer, the U.S. Attorney for Montana, who also has been serving as the Number Three top official at DOJ has withdrawn his nomination for permanent appointment.

Mercer's confirmation hearing was set for next week. His resignation letter says he has become convinced he would not be confirmed.

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

Progressive Infrastructure

An interesting page covering my favorite topic: Funding Progressive Infrastructure

And a blog post: Will we learn to fund progressive infrastructure?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:44 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Digby's Speech at TBA

Here is the text of Digby's speech the other night at the Take Back America conference: Digby: Bloggers Are Part of a Revolutionary Participatory Democracy. Excerpts,

...Then there is the criticism that we are fascists or Stalinists demanding that everyone march in lockstep to the edicts of our leadership -- generally assumed to be Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos -- who apparently directs us with secret signals deeply embedded in the code of the Daily Kos web site while we carry on an elaborate ruse of spirited political debate and disagreement in public.

...We are passionate about politics, and in this era of Republican corruption, excess and failure, that passion sometimes manifests itself as anger. But how can you not be angry? So many institutions have failed us in the last decade that being vitriolic seems the only sane response.

...So ... the netroots is ... a revolution. A revolutionary participatory democracy. And, in this way, the left is more effective than the right. Whether by temperament or philosophy, we are simply better suited to the free-form, constantly changing nature of these new political communities.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:42 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Talk Radio Study Demonstrates Misuse Of Public Airwaves

Free Press and The Center for American Progress have teamed up to produce a report on tal radio that is very interesting. The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio. Some excerpts from the summary:

...in recent years, Americans listened on average to 19 hours of radio per week in 2006.

Among radio formats, the combined news/talk format (which includes news/talk/information and talk/personality) leads all others in terms of the total number of stations per format and trails only country music in terms of national audience share. Through more than 1,700 stations across the nation, the combined news/talk format is estimated to reach more than 50 million listeners each week.

And what options are presented to the public by these stations?
* Our analysis in the spring of 2007 of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners reveals that 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive.
* Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk—10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.
* A separate analysis of all of the news/talk stations in the top 10 radio markets reveals that 76 percent of the programming in these markets is conservative and 24 percent is progressive, although programming is more balanced in markets such as New York and Chicago.
Yikes! This study demonstrates that consumers are not allowed choices of different opinions and analisys. These stations are licensed to use public airwaves. By limiting choices in this way, are they serving the public interest?

Is it a licensing issue? Again, from the study,

Ownership diversity is perhaps the single most important variable contributing to the structural imbalance based on the data. Quantitative analysis conducted by Free Press of all 10,506 licensed commercial radio stations reveals that stin, from the study,ations owned by women, minorities, or local owners are statistically less likely to air conservative hosts or shows.

In contrast, stations controlled by group owners—those with stations in multiple markets or more than three stations in a single market—were statistically more likely to air conservative talk.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:11 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Centrist Dem Reaction To 'Sicko' Movie: Appease The Corporations

Michael Moore's movie 'Sicko' documenting America's health insurance crisis is likely to incite strong grassroots demand for a "single-payer" Medicare-For-All type of solution. So the Washington consultants/appeasers are at it again.

From the article, 'Sicko' leaves top Democrats ill at ease

Stoking the passions of rank-and-file Democrats for a government takeover of the healthcare system amounts to political folly, respond some liberal veterans of Washington's healthcare battles.

"To presume that the private sector is going to sit idly by to see the destruction of private coverage I think is a misreading of reality," ... "I think the presidential candidates understand that if healthcare reform is going to have a chance of success, it will require bipartisanship and a balance of public and private coverage."

This is what I call the "Afraid Rush Limbaugh Will Say Something Bad About You" syndrome. Clue: He will anyway.

Whatever plan you propose, here is what will happen: the health insurance companies WILL oppose your plan, no matter what the plan is.

Conventional Wisdom thinking is that you have to include private insurance companies in any plan, or they'll put so much money and effort into opposing your plan - and you - that nothing can pass. In the 90's the Clinton administration offered a comprehensive health care plan that involved private insurers instead of a "Medicare-For-All"-style national health plan, hoping to ward off industry opposition. ... And of course the private insurance companies did oppose the Clinton plan anyway, putting so much money into opposing it that it never even came up for a vote.

.. So here is some news for Democrats who are offering health care plans that offer tribute to private insurance companies: They are going to oppose your plan.

The logic seems to be that if we appease them, they will compromise. This ignores the reality - they want it all.

"Medicare For All" is simple to understand and implement. On this subject Ezra Klein wrote,

That's why Medicare-for-All is such a great banner. Medicare happens to be a very good, though deeply underfunded program. It keeps costs down better than the private sector, it enjoys sky-high satisfaction ratings from those on it, its administrative costs are dirt cheap, and so forth. ... It's just normal health care that the government pays for. Simple as that.

Better yet, Republicans can't demonize the idea because it already exists and everybody's parents and grandparents use it.

And if companies complain about all the jobs that will be lost - what they are saying is that the private sector is less efficient than a government solution. Medicare's overhead is a fraction of the insurance companies.

It is time. It's simple. Let's expand Medicare to cover everyone.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:00 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Max Blumenthal Films Take Back America Conference

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:13 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 21, 2007

Airplane Day

I'll be on the road today.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:48 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Bad Day?

Will today be a really bad day for the stock market? (Or worse?) There are signs that the ripples from the housing bubble's pop are starting to spread.

Bear Stearns Fund Collapse Sends Shockwave Through CDO Market,

Merrill Lynch & Co.'s threat to sell $800 million of mortgage securities seized from Bear Stearns Cos. hedge funds is sending shudders across Wall Street.

A sale would give banks, brokerages and investors the one thing they want to avoid: a real price on the bonds in the fund that could serve as a benchmark. The securities are known as collateralized debt obligations, which exceed $1 trillion and comprise the fastest-growing part of the bond market.

The REAL value of these instruments? Who knows? And who owns them?

Bondad has an explanation.

Here's the thing - this is the money market. This is YOUR money-market fund. Find out if YOUR money-market funds are FDIC insured!

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June 20, 2007

Great Interview With Joe Wilson

On this morning's Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio show we had a great conversation with Joe Wilson. It was a great show and I recommend listening. Also, Rick Perlstein was great.

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Right Circulating A LIE About Hillary and Take Back America

Here is a lie we should try to nip in the bud.

Hillary Clinton spoke at the Take Back America conference this morning. The Corner on National Review Online is circulating the following lie about the event:

When she declared, "The American military has done its job," boos began to be heard around the room. As the boos increased, Sen. Clinton raised her voice. "The American military has succeeded," she said, to more boos. "It is the Iraqi government that has failed to make the tough decisions." Still more boos. [emphasis added]
I was there. I heard what happened. NO ONE in the crowd booed her for saying "The American military has succeeded." That is simply a lie by a professional propagandist.

Bill Scher has more, with video to prove it.

Taylor Marsh has more at Huffington Post.

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Blame The Iraqis

We're having a conversation here at Blogger Blvd. Is the line i Hillary's speech basically blaming the Iraqis new, or has she been using it. Was she trying it out to see if people like it - or was she trying to antagonize this audience?

Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis says this is the new "bipartisan cop-out line" that he is hearing everyone use - blame the Iraqis.

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TBA - Morning

I won't be able to be in the room for Dennis Kucinich. I had to leave the main room to prepare for a Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio show, interviewing among others Senator Mike Gravel.

Kucinich is on a monitor almost close enough to hear. Iraq. End the ar, bring the troops home, bring the contractors back, achieve a program of reconciliation. We must have an honest reconstruction program.

We must challenge war as an instrument of policy.

Too many people now, can't hear the monitor, even near it... Apologies.

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TBA - Hillary Clinton

(I will be updating this as the speech continues, so scroll down, and come back.) Huge crowd, lots of people standing in the back.

Ellen Malcolm is introducing. After becoming a lawyer Hillary chose to work for people instead of joining a big firm and making money. The only Democratic candidate who has taken on the full might of the Republican machine and come out the winner.

Hillary is walking out, crowd on their feet cheering.

Here with so many people who share our goals to take the country back. Bush today will veto stem cell research. I have worked to help fund the research to fight so many devestating diseases. When I am President I will list the ban. This is just one example of how the President puts ideology before science, politics before needs, example of how out of touch he and his party have become.

We are ready and looking for the kind of leadership and citizenship that will make a difference again. It is your activism, the organizations that have been formed in the last 6 years, MoveOn, Media Matters, ... your voices have made a difference.

She is talking about a woman who sued a company after finding out that she had been paid less than men in the same job - Bush Supreme Court ruled she hadn't filed her case in time - even though she filed as soon as she learned about it...

The people appointed to the courts will make a huge difference to the lives of everyone. People feel like they are invisible to the government. We always believed we had that in America but now people feel invisible and have reason to believe they are being rendered invisible. Secret wiretaps, US Attys fired to silence them because they didn't indict Democrats, scientists silenced... Natural disaster turned into a national disgrace, government paid no attention while bodies floated down the streets of New Orleans. War has been catastrophic. A stunning record of cronyism and corruption.

Families have paid the price. Regular incomes dropping, people without health care, more children entered poverty last year than graduated from college. People are invisible.

Huge debt that has been blown up in the last six years - six years ago we had a balanced budget and a surplus. People are invisible.

If you are a hard-working student who wants to go to college, price of college going up, fewer scholarships. Student loan companies ripping people off.

Soldiers come home wounded, hoping to get health care and disabiity compensation, warehoused in some unacceptable facility, medical records lost, it turns out you are invisible, too.

I want you to know you are not invisible to me and you won't be invisible to the next President of the United States.

The welfare of each of us depends on the welfare of all of us. We need to create a progressive majority coalition. Set big goals, start by cleaning up the government, replace culture of corruption and cronyism with a culture of competence. Stop outsourcing government. End revolving door with lobbying shops, end contracts with companies like Haliburton. Appoint people who are actually qualified for the positions. When I am President the entrance to the White House won't be a revolving door for the well-connected.

Let's do something about the growing economic inequality that is tearing the country apart. CEOs making 262 times more than workers. Top 1% hold 22% of all wealth - biggest share since 1929 which was not a good year for America. Make them pay their fair share again.

Stand up for our unions again. When I am President we will make sure they can organize for fair wages and fair conditions, will appoint pro-labor people to Department of Labor.

Qualify affordable health care is a right not a privilege. Been moving backwards not forward on health care.

We found more than half a trillion dollars for the war in Iraq so we can find the money for health care.

Some states plan how many prison spots they are going to need by looking at 3rd-grade reading scores. Let's pay for more kindergartens than prison beds.

Stand up for science don't suppress scientific evidence or politicize scientific panels. There is no conflict between faith and science and we need to let scientists do their job free from manipulation. We must do that because we are going to lose economic opportunities, deny people the right to a clean environment, possibly save the planet.

Stand up for right to do everything possible to protect citizenship - the right to vote. Last two elections we saw people turned away from polls, ballots mysteriously disappear. Introduced the Count Every Vote Act. Restore integrity to our electoral process.

Four years after Bush declared Mission Accomplished we are going to end the war and bring our troops home. I voted against the supplemental - best ay to support troops is to bring them home. They have done their job, gave Iraq the chance to vote. Their government has failed.

(People shouting "Boo". People holding up signs - cant read them from here. People are shouting "That is outrageous - we created it, we created the problem.")

She has joined with Sen Byrd to strip Bush of the authority to be in Iraq.

When I am President we are going to start talking to people, rebuilding our alliances. We have to have friends and allies. Reach across divides.

I want to restore feeling of love for America around the world, and equally restore it here at home. We should not give up on our ideals. I hope you will join with me and join with us. America is ready for change. A place that holds out hope and opportunity for all. Thank you.

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TBA - The Awards Dinner

Last night at the Awards Dinner, Digby represented us well.

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June 19, 2007

Who Is Digby?

Who is Digby?

Find out tonite.

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TBA - John Edwards

I will update ths post as he speaks so come back, scroll down...)

Obama just finished, is shaking hands. John Edwards speaks next. Obama will be a tough act to follow...

Former NARAL Head Kate Michelman introduces Edwards. You are going to make the difference in this election in 2008. You are at the center of historic change.

I know these candidates as people I have worked with many years. I know what they say in private and what they do in public. I've known John Edwards for ite a while now. Watching him commit himself to leading on all the issues that I know you value. Johns Edwards is ready to lead, willing to lead, ready for change. I am ready for change, are you ready for change? Politics of conviction and principle.

Edwards comes on stage. People standing and cheering...

Thank you for your support of my wife Elizabeth.

I want to start taloing about the ar in Iraq because we need to bring this war to an end. I voted for this war and I was wrong to vote for this war and I take responsibility for that.

Now we are at a crucial moment. The American people made it clear, they want a change and they want to see America leaving Iraq. President vetoed our bill. Congress should have stood firm but didn't, the President has no intention of ending this war. Congress has to end this war.

No more pontificating, triangulating, pontificating, broken promises. No more "tomorrow." We need to do these things now. Health care. be bold, have backbone, courage, it is time for us to lead again. It is time for us to show the leadership that America and the world need from us. We need to establish America as a force for good in the world again. I will close Guantanamo.

First we must stop the damage. We need a President who will say we are against torture, spying on Americans, follow the Geneva Conventions... This has to change. President has to travel the world, speak to the people of the world, about the things we really are. Diversity.

World believes we are at war with the Muslim world. That has got to change. It has got to end. World needs to see America taking action that demonstrates that we understand out responsibility to humanity. Darfur, the most powerful nation has declared that a genocide is occurring, and stepped back and watched it continue. Same is true about spread of AIDS. Richest nation on planet stands quietly by and watches it continue.

America is better than this. World needs to see who we are.

Suppose America led the effort toward economic development especially in the third world. Hope is back again. America cannot be a leader through raw power. Demonstrate that we are worthy of leadership.

We have a crisis on tis planet - global warming. We can be an example for got, not for bad. We're the worst polluter on the planet. What do we do? We ought to cap greenhouse emissions, ratchet down, reduce at least 80% by 2050. ANY allowance to emit gases must be auctioned off and the money used to develop alternative technologies. No coal-fired power plants to be built. America should lead the way building fuel-efficient cars with union workers, not built somewhere else.

Time for President to ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war - conserve, drive fuel-efficient vehicles, get off our addiction to oil. Create green-power jobs.

We can transform the Middle East. Get off of oil. We will undermine the forces of despair.

America has to be seen as a force for good again. 27 million Americans wake up worried about feeding their own children. I have been running a poverty center at the University of North Carolina. In Kansas City I met a woman who worked for $9.50 an hour. Didn't have the money to pay her heating bill. Wrapped my kids in warm close. Had my kids get in the same bed and hug each other to keep warm. Tells them not to tell anyone because they'll come and take them away from her. This is not OK, there is something we can do about it. Decent living wage. Expand right of workers to organize a union. If you can join the Republican Party by signing your name to a card, anyone should be able to join a union the same way. Unions lift people out of poverty.

Need universal health care for every an woman and child in the country. People wake up at night with a sick child, go to the emergency room and beg for health care.

But can't do all that and eliminate the deficit - it costs money. Not cheap. Pay for it by getting rid of Bush's tax cuts for the rich.

We ended war in Vietnam, ended apartheid in South Africa, you can feel it across the country. Your country needs you to take responsibility, take action.

This is my life and I'm going to do it as long as I am alive and breathing. What are you willing to do? How umch are you willing to do? How much do you love this country. You have to be the change you believe in. We need you. If you want to live in a moral and just America, where everybody has a real chance. We have to do this together.


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TBA - Obama - A Solid Progressive Message

(I will update this throughout the speech.)

I'm in the main ballroom waiting for Barack Obama to speak. This is a huge room, packed. Tere is a section in the back and on the side for "supporters" who apparently are not attendees of the conference. They have signs, etc... It's like a convention. Tons of media are here, cameras, etc...

Roger Hickey is introducing Roger Wilcins, saying that today is "Juneteenth," lso known as Emancipation Day - the day slavery ended. Wilkins is introducing Obama. "It's been almost eight years since we've had an intellect in the White House." And the crowd erupts. "Obama left Columbia University to go to inner cities t organize communities of poor people to increase the value of their lives."

As Obama comes on the stage, the whole crowd is on their feet, cheering. Thousands of people. "You are what makes democracy work. It's going to be because of you that we take our country back." The crowd is chanting, "Beat the GOP."

He says everywhere they are going they are getting crowds, 20,000 in Austin, etc. Many are coming out for the first time they have ever been involved. There is a hunger, a longing for something new that we haven't seen in years. People come up ad say "I'm an old man but I remember what it was like to be inspired..." Back then on the south side of Chicago a group of churches got together and decided they could make a difference. Hired me for $12,000 a year and I became a community organizer and block by block we turned those neighborhoods around. When ordinary people come together they can achieve extraordinary things.

Worked to help Bill Clinton get elected in 1992.

Then I ran for office and people asked why go into something dirty and nasty like politics. I understood, we've seen politics in Chicago become a business. Nationally over the last several years have seen politicians leave regular people in the dust and the persistent stubbornness of a president who refuses to end this war in Iraq. Half of us don't vote and half of those who do are voting against rather than for someone.

Lobbyists and cash have turned government into a game that only they can play. Pharmaceutical lobbyists. Oil companies in the White House.

We are here to tell them our government is not for sale and we are hear to take it back. (Cheers) The ways of Washingyon must change, the cycnicism is no accident - it is from failure of leadership, trickle down, on your own, government has no role in solving the challenges we face so why even try.

... Try saying tough luck to the families who still don't have homes in New Orleans. This is not who we are, this is not how America is supposed to be. We have come this far as a nation because we believe we rise and fall as one people, I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper. Those people without health insurance matter to us because it impoverishes us. Leaving the troops to fend for themselves after they serve diminishes our patriotism. (Crowd on their feet)

In the face of our cynicism we are here because we believe a better America is possible. The time for selfish politics, fear, division is over. Time to turn the page, start a new kin of politics.

... I know that change is possible I know where hope leads us the only reason I am standing here before you is because of hope. On paper it is not possible that I am standing here running for President. I know that change is possible. Hope has been the cause of my life. A cause that I will fight for every day.

It's not enough just to change parties, To transform we have to change politics too. Bring to gether unions and business, Democrats and Republicans. Business gets a seat at the table but they don't get to buy every chair.

Universal health care. Education - recruit and support hundreds of thousands of new teachers. Most important part of any education is the teacher. Pay what they deserve. Invest in education and out teachers and our children will succeed.

Energy. Tell oil and auto industries that they must act. Future of our country and planet is at stake. Cap on carbon, trade with companies that are lower than the cap. Raise fuel efficiency standards. I said this in Detroit.

Minimum wage to living wage tied to cost of living. Job training, jobs for ex-offenders, second change. Allow unions to lift up the middle class. Employee Free Choice Act.

Before we can do these things we have to turn the page and end the senseless war in Iraq. Should have never been authorized, said so back then even when it was unpopular to say so. We knew back then we could find ourselves in an occupation ... consequences and we mourn for the dead and the wounded. Mothers crying for their children. Time to bring the troops home now. President vetoed plan. Voted against giving a blank check. Keep turning up the pressure. It is time to turn the page.

Then we can stand before the world and remind them that America is still the last best hope on earth. The job of leader of the free world has been left open. We need a leader who will say to the world we want to work with you.

We need not the might of our military but the power of our values and ideas.

We're the beacon that has led generations of weary travelers to the hope of liberty. Housekeepers, doormen, Pullman porters marched to the state capital and saw tear gas and dogs and billy clubs. They staggered back from that bridge, bloodied and beaten and I'm sure that on that day some lost hope, can't defeat Jim Crow and segregation. But millions of people around America looked at what had happened and turned to their fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and said that's not who we are, not the America that we know and love. Swept aside the forces of tear gas and billy clubs, every time knocked down they got back up and finally they crossed over. And then LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act. I understood they had marched for me. I was a four-year-old kid in Hawaii.

I understood I stood on their shoulders. I could not have run for Senate. It wasn't a celebration of African-American history, it was a celebration of American history. In the face of impossible odds people who love this country can change it. I can't do it alone, this campaign is about the power of millions and your hopes. That's how we ended slavery, gave women the right to vote, ended the Vietnam war, that is how we will change the country. Time to turn the page. If you want change, if you believe America is still that last best hope it's tome t turn the page, write the next chapter in the Great America Story, let's create a progressive American majority. Thank you.

A very powerful progressive speech, delivered very well.

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Mid-Morning at TBA

This place is one of those whirlwinds. I'm sitting net to a blogger being interviewed by Candy Crowley of CNN. You might catch a glimpse of me in the background on CNN at 7pm, or maybe another time...

People are taking the netroots very seriously here. This is a real sign of the effect that we have been having. Every speaker I have heard from the netroots emphasizes that this is not about personalities, it is an emergence of a voice of the public through this enabling technology.

Obama speaks soon, then Edwards.

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Morning at TBA

I have been skipping back and forth between the Blogger panel, The Blogosphere: From Ideas to Action and the panel, It's the Story: How Culture and New Media Can Move Progressive Ideas. This is just two of NINE panels all at the same time. I gave up and stayed at the blogger panel.

Some advice for conference planners, when you have one hour don't put six people on a panel!

At the Progressive Ideas panel, I didn't catch the speaker, but he showed two commercials, Clinton 1992 and Kerry 2004. The Clinton commercial was brilliant in its emotional approach. The Kerry commercial was scattered, inconsistent and ineffective.

At the blogger panel Matt Stoller gave a brilliant talk: Blogs are a democratic grassroots response to institutional betrayal.

Oliver Willis said anyone can join the left wing noise machine and work to kill conservatism dead.

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Morning at TBA

I have been skipping back and forth between the Blogger panel, The Blogosphere: From Ideas to Action and the panel, It's the Story: How Culture and New Media Can Move Progressive Ideas. This is just two of NINE ELEVEN panels all at the same time. I gave up and stayed at the blogger panel. (Jerome at MyDD has blogged some of the other morning events.)

Some advice for conference planners, when you have one hour don't put six people on a panel!

At the Progressive Ideas panel, I didn't catch the speaker, but he showed two commercials, Clinton 1992 and Kerry 2004. The Clinton commercial was brilliant in its emotional approach. The Kerry commercial was scattered, inconsistent and ineffective.

At the blogger panel Matt Stoller gave a brilliant talk: Blogs are a democratic grassroots response to institutional betrayal.

Oliver Willis said anyone can join the left wing noise machine and work to kill conservatism dead.

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Energy and Digby

I was at this conference two years ago, and it had an old-left feel, sort of out of touch. Last year the conference conflicted with YearlyKos so I couldn't attend. THIS year there is an every, a revival feeling. But there is also an awareness that there is a real fight ahead. As I wrote yesterday, in the opening session Bob Borosage talked about how we have "a teachable moment," recognizing that we have to reach out to the public and offer them a new progressive vision - or they will go somewhere else.

Ron Kall over at OpEdNews writes, Tapping the Progressive Energy and Inspiration at the Take Back America Conference,

The attendance this year is way up, a record, exceeding 3000. As usual, it does not disappoint. Everywhere you turn there are smart, passionate, energized activists, dynamically engaged in making a difference. Most of the people's badges list organizations, but even the folks without badges, when you get their story, are deeply involved in and committed to making a difference.
So I see a tremendous YearlyKos coming in August.

I met Digby last night. Since Digby is the speaker at the Blogger Awards at the dinner tonite I think I won't give anything away now.

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I'm at the "bloggor row" but I heard that Ralph Nader is introducing Senator Mike Gravel.

Ralph Nader is honored as the subject of my first post (after "Welcome.")

I'm posting this under the topic "Iraq War." Thanks, Ralph.

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TBA - Thom Hartmann

Yesterday became an awesomely busy day. I did a session on Reaching the Public, with Jeffrey Feldman, Conor Kenny and Bill Scher. I talked about the need to reach out to the general public to promote the benefits of progressive values and ideas - I ALWAYS talk about the need to reach out to the public to promote the benefits of progressive values and ideas. Jeffrey talked about how framing works using the immigration debate as a model. Conor talked about his work with Congresspedia, and the Obama Girls YouTube video, and Bill talked about specific examples of framing.

I have been at a breakfast with Thomm Hartman and Bev Smith.

I am doing a Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio show today at 10am Eastern, interviewing Rick Perlstein. (It might slip to 11am.)

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June 18, 2007

TBA - Opening Session

I'm at the opening plenary session at Take Back America. This is the 5th annual conference.

Live blogging: (I'll update it as it proceeds)

Bob Borosage is speaking, his theme: the conservative era is at an end and our task is to outline what comes next.

Summary: They failed - Iraq, Katrina, economy not working for working people. So we have to make sure he public understands this. The conservative words sound good because they are meant to -- they have been tested to sound good. But the reality of what they did is different.

Katrina was a teachable movement, but you do have to teach it. Republicans aren't going to, they will say that things went wrong because they were not conservative enough. But they failed not simply because they were corrupt and incompetent - they failed because they get the world wrong, and we have to teach this lesson over and over again so Americans learn it.

Americans agree with progressives on the issues. But we need to do more than just repair the damage the conservatives have done -- we need to break the conservative shackles on debate.

Ending the war is crucial and will be difficult. Changing laws to help unions organize is a critical reform toward helping regular people start getting ahead again. We need a trade strategy that works for the country not the multinationals. We need energy independence.

The progressive bloggers are here and they have taught us how to fight.

This is not the time for timidity - don't want to hear people talking about tracking to the elusive "center." This is our time to claim the future. We have to grab this opportunity and if we don't grab it somebody else will and they will take it in the wrong direction.

We have done it before. FDR's reforms enabled the creation of a middle class. ...

We can do this. We can take back America, it's up to us.


Eli from MoveOn is speaking now. Can't wait until this conference is called "OK we've got America."

After 9/11 President Bush exploited the fear that people felt to start a war, ... and to win two elections.

For those of us who really believe that when and where and how you are born should not dictate your fate, this has been a very dark time. Looked for leaders to guide us out, and mostly they didn't come. So we realized we have to take on the responsibility ourselves. Bush and Rove are dismantling our democracy. We have to defend it.

As we fought we got stronger and new ways to talk to each other emerged. DailyKos, etc. League of Young Voters, Color of Change, MoveOn. We grew. Now MoveOn has 3.7 million people, adding a quarter of a million in the last month alone.

In 2006 people rolled up their sleeves and got to work to elect a Democratic Congress.

For this movement of millions we are creating an idea of a true progressive America for the first time. We have won some battles but the ar goes on our work is far from done. With the country rallying behind them on every issue it is hard to understand why our Democratic leaders are making some of the concessions they have been making.

But the point is that it wasn't our leaders who stood up - it was US. Millions of people took responsibility for what was happening so we shouldn't be waiting around for the politicians to deliver us, we could wait a long time. If we want to stop the climate crisis, or get health care or end the war we have to make them do what we want them to do. The millions of us will find a way.


Andrea Batista Schlesinger of the Drum Major Institute.

Nature vs Nurture - for the right it's just nature, it just happens. All the things that are going wrong. But it's not nature is it? We know that the social contract has been obliterated. The point of government is that we are supposed to "social engineer" for the benefit of people. The creation of the middle class is the best evidence for a progressive ideology.

The Employee Free Choice Act is an opportunity. We can reform the bankruptcy bill. We can push for universal health insurance and also paid sick leave and family leave...

When we aim for the best instead of the good we can offer this country something.


Rep. Keith Ellison

Let's talk about leadership and how to pump up, build and strengthen the progressive movement. Don't shortchange the vision. If we don't know where we're going we don't know where to go.

1964 was the low point for their movement. Barry Goldwater had gotten some ugly results in the campaign and it was bad times for the conservative movement. But they were patient, and understood that projecting a vision was going to take a lot of work. In 1973 Lewis Powell wrote the Powell Manifesto that said this is what we have to do. We should make people think that running government like a business is a good thing to do. Now we all understand - Enron, etc. - that running government like a business is not necessarily a good thing.

Be patient, you might be mad at the Congress for not ending the war in 6 months, be dissatisfied, but don't turn that into a cannibalistic enterprise. If you want health care, peace, sustainability - it is going to take everyone. We are itching for change and sometimes in that frame of mind you turn on people you don't think delivered for you fast enough.

Politicians will see the light when they feel the heat.

Make sure that we continue to strengthen ways to continue to communicate with each other. We are diverse, the more we share, the more we understand each other, we can act as a unified body to make change.

All focused on putting maximum pressure on our political leaders to make it impossible to go on with this war after September.


Representative Jan Schakowsky

Remember that some of us in the Congress are you. Play your role out there as we play our role inside.

No one wants to end this war more than Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Her primary goal has been to end this war.

We need the strength of unions watching out back, bringing health care, sick leave. Organized labor is a driving force behind the progressive movement. Unions are under attack because of what they do - they hold corporations responsible. That is why they are under attack and why we should all stand with labor.

Go to costofwar.com to see what could be done with the money spent on the war.

(Almost out of battery...)

18,000 Americans die each year because they do not have health insurance and can't get the care they need... a listing of the groups this number doesn't include, including mental care, immigrants ...

We will not be satisfied until we all get health care...

It is our job to build political pressure so we can't be ignored.

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I Am At The Take Back America Conference

I am at the Take Back America conference in Washington, DC. I'm on "blogger row" so come by and visit if you are here. I'll also be doing some Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio, over at "radio row."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:15 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 17, 2007

Microsoft Muscles the NYS Legislature: Software giant moves to weaken NY Election law


The 800 pound gorilla of software development has moved forcefully into New York State, supported by voting machine vendors using Microsoft Windows in their touch screen voting machines and other systems. Over the last two months Microsoft and a cadre of high paid lobbyists have been working a full-court press in Albany in an attempt to bring about a serious weakening of New York State election law. This back door effort by private corporations to weaken public protections is about to bear fruit.)

On Thursday, June 14, I received a copy of proposed changes to New York State Election Law drafted by Microsoft attorneys that has been circulating among the Legislature. These changes would gut the source code escrow and review provisions provided in our current law, which were fought for and won by election integrity activists around the state and adopted by the Legislature in June 2005. In an earlier blog I wrote about Microsoft's unwillingness to comply with New York State's escrow and review requirements. Now the software giant has gone a step further, not just saying “we won't comply with your law” but actively trying to change state law to serve their corporate interests. Microsoft's attorneys drafted an amendment which would add a paragraph to Section 1-104 of NYS Election Law defining “election-dedicated voting system technology”. Microsoft’s proposed change to state law would effectively render our current requirements for escrow and the ability for independent review of source code in the event of disputes completely meaningless - and with it the protections the public fought so hard for.

Adding insult to injury, these changes are being slipped into a bill that may be voted on Monday or Tuesday, June 18 or 19. That bill's stated purpose is to make “technical changes” to the recent law moving the date of New York's presidential primary to February. Because this bill involving the new primary date must be passed next week before the Legislative session ends (New York has jumped on the bandwagon to be part of the super presidential primary in February 2008) this grave weakening of the public’s right to review software would come along part and parcel with the primary date change. The players promoting this behind the scenes are relying on the fact that this reprehensible eradication of citizen protections won't be noticed until it's too late. If Microsoft and the vendor lobbyists had their way, the public would have known nothing about this until after the law passed. Well that much at least, didn't work. We’ve found out about this secretive move, albeit only four days before the bill containing this poisonous provision is to be voted on. The question now is will the Legislature approve this appalling weakening of our law?

Up to now, New York State has been rightfully proud to have adopted some of the strictest regulations regarding the new electronic voting systems in the entire nation. The Legislature has been patting themselves on the back for two years now for passing such an excellent set of laws. For the most part, they had a right to be proud. But now these powerful private companies are working the Legislature behind the scenes trying to quietly change New York Election Law to remove the public’s protections and to serve their private interests.

The big question is, will the New York State Legislature give in to these powerful corporate interests or will they stand up for transparency, security, and the public's right to know?

Take Action Now - It’s urgent that you call your State Senator and Assembly representatives on Monday, June 18, at their Albany offices, and tell them they must not weaken New York State’s escrow and review requirements. Remind them that the Legislature passed a strong law 2 years ago - they must not give in to pressure by voting machine vendors to undermine those protections.

[if you live in NY] Find your Assembly member’s contact information here:
(Not sure who your Assembly member is? Click here to search by Zip Code)

[if you live in NY] Find your State Senator’s contact information here:
(Not sure who your State Senator is? Click here to search by Zip Code

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 6:48 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Philadelphia Emergency Anti-War Convention: July 4th, 2007

This convention was originally called forth by Cindy Sheehan as a response to the betrayal of the antiwar cause by Congress. Cindy gave a call to, "all citizens", "to join us in Philadelphia on July 4th to try and figure a way out of this "two" party system that is bought and paid for by the war machine which has a stranglehold on every aspect of our lives. As for myself, I am leaving the Democratic Party. You have completely failed those who put you in power to change the direction our country is heading. We do not condone our government's violent meddling in sovereign countries and we condemn the continued murderous occupation of Iraq.”

We are convening to explore what to do next? What are we missing, and what can we do better? How do we release the war machine’s stranglehold around us?

In the living tradition of the Declaration of Independence, we convene to form a strategic alliance with anti-war, pro-impeachment, civil liberties, and other groups to develop a comprehensive strategy and implement actions to deal with this emergency.

Join us to deliberate with a wide variety of groups to create viable solutions.


Sponsors: Peace Action-Delaware Valley, Philadelphia Regional Anti-War Network, Northeast 9/11 Truth, Green Party of Vermont … join us

Location: Independence Visitor Center, 6th & Market, Philadelphia, PA

Time: 1:00-9:00 pm, July 4th

For more information contact, Bruce Marshall brmas@earthlink.net or Paul
Deslauriers Paulnrg@aol.com, 413-232-7888

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 6:11 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 16, 2007

Right-Winger Sues Blogger And Wins

Lee Kaplan writes at David Horowitz's far-right, anti-Muslim FrontPageMag.com. A college student set up the blog Lee Kaplan Watch to expose what the guy is writing. He was sued by Kaplan in small claims court for "business interference," and Kaplan won $7500. because it was small claims court the judge was not required to explain his decision.

The blogger writes,

I hope that sufficient attention is paid to the great danger that what has happened to me poses to all of us. It is by all means a serious issue. My first amendment rights have been subverted with support from the courts, which only shows that everybody is in danger of facing these abusive small claims court defamation suits. My speech has been punished by a ruling with no opinion explaining why or advising me what not to do in the future. My credibility has been tarnished by a trial with incredibly low standards for admissible evidence and a messy, inconsistent court procedure. And, for me, worst of all: I will never know what element of Kaplan's claim, if any, the judge agreed with, though Kaplan will certainly continue to claim that all of them were accepted, though he knows well that this is not the case.
This is a freedom of speech and right-to-blog issue. We must do something to reverse this because it will become a convenient way for right-wingers to harass all of us.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:39 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Formatting Fixed in Internet Explorer

If you use Internet Explorer, you can see that the appearance problem is fixed. I didn't even know there was a problem until someone called me, but apparently it had been there for a few weeks!

I use Firefox, so I didn't see it. I don't know if it was a problem in versions earlier than version 7.

Anyway, it's back to normal. Sorry.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:17 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Appeal For Funds To Attend Take Back America

I would will attend and blog from the Take Back America conference in Washington DC. I'm in California, and airfare, room, food and transportation will come to around $1200. I have rounded up a bit of help so far, but I am hoping to raise the rest of the money from the readers of this blog.

So can you help out? I have not asked for much from my readers, even in hard times. I have been posting here continuously since July, 2002. It's a lot of work but I manage. I certainly don't do this for money, but sometimes money is required, like now, to pay for things like travel and lodging. Asking like this isn't easy for me but I am asking for some help from you.

PayPal donation button is in the left column, partway down
or Amazon.

Beyond just this trip, I believe that my work is contributing to making this a better country. My reports and articles on the funding, organization, strategies and tactics of the right have helped people to understand what is happening to us, and have helped lead to development of strategies for pushing back. I believe my work with Patriot Project and Smoking Politics has helped people understand the fear and smear tactics of the right, and to start to come up with ways to back up our leaders and begin to counter this. And I think that my writing has helped articulate ideas like Progressive Infrastructure and the need to reach the public to promote the benefits of progressive values and a progressive approach to issues. This has all been done for minimal pay -- $100 here and there -- and most often for no pay at all. So help me keep this work going.

Like I said, it is not easy to ask others to help out and like so many of us, it is not usually in my nature to do so. But I think it is time to change this. If I am going to continue to do this work I do need to know that others are behind it and willing to be part of it by supporting my efforts. Take a stroll through my "Best Of" over in the left column, or have a look at the collection I put together of links to articles, reports and resources for learning about the right-wing movement, its history, how it is funded and how it operates. You can look at my reports, The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law, and Responding to the Attack on Public Education and Teacher Unions. I have done election research like The Swiftboaters Are Back in the Water and John McCain 2000: The Swiftboaters' First Mission; exposing front-groups and their tactics. These are just a few examples.

I would like to be able to keep doing this work. You can help me out by donating $100, or even $10. I am able to accept credit card contributions through the PayPal button in the left column, part way down or Amazon.


Also, if you would like to make a more substantial and long-term donation to support my work, you can click here to make a tax-deductible gift to the Commonweal Institute, which is a 501 (c) (3) organization, and let them know that it is to be used to support my work. A donation like this now will have the effect of a donation ten times as large to a political campaign, because it will help lay the groundwork for real change. It will help build public appreciation of progressive values, which will create demand for all progressive candidates and for progressive policies.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:00 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

What The Public 'Knows' - Congressional Spending

I often write about what the public 'knows.' (For example, the public 'knew' that Iraq attacked us on 9/11 and was about to attack us with weapons of mass destruction before we invaded.)

Right now the public 'knows' that in the last few years Congress went way out of control with the spending. And Republicans understand that the public 'knows' that Democrats tax and spend.

I'm not sure that the public knows - or cares - that it was the Republicans who controlled Congress who were the spenders. I am sure that they won't remember that for very long because it is not being repeated and is not being tied to a larger narrative about Republicans.

What is being repeated is that Democrats tax and spend. And the Republicans are busy reinforcing that: Bush blasts Democrats over budget spending,

"I will use my veto to stop tax increases and runaway spending that threaten the strength of our economy and the prosperity of our people," Bush said in his weekly radio address. He was spending the weekend at his Texas ranch.

"By keeping taxes low and restraining federal spending, we can meet my plan to have a balanced budget by 2012," he said. "The Democrats in Congress are trying to take us in a different direction."

I wonder if the Democratic leadership understands what is happening. Everything that the public is upset about after years of Republican government is being transferred - in the public mind - over to them.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:55 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 15, 2007

John Emerson's Post

If you were sent by Digby or DeLong or Perlstein, the full post by John is here: Seeing the Forest: The "Honest Conservatives" should shut the fuck up

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:11 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush Crazification Strategies

Kevin Drum linked to this, and it's still great, so I'll link to it, too: Kung Fu Monkey: Lunch Discussions #145: The Crazification Factor

Too funny to excerpt, just go read it.

OK, one part explains why Bush can't go lower than 27% in the polls,

Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him. They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That's crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% Crazification Factor in any population.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:52 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Now I Find the Wind is Blowing Time Into My Heart

I have always been a fan of the 60's British rock group The Yardbirds. This band pioneered a lot of the British "psychedelic" rock scene and included at various times Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. (How many of you know that Led Zeppelin was originally named The New Yardbirds?)

My wife grew up in London and used to go see the Yardbirds perform. I only got to go to Woodstock.

ANYway, last year (oops, 2003) some of them got together and put out an album called Birdland. I've been listening to it, and it is turning into listening to it over and over. It is a great album and if you remember the Yardbirds I suggest giving it a listen. It has some great new material and excellent versions of some of the classics. John "Gypie" Mayo is great on guitar and there are "guest appearances" from Brian May, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Slash, and Jeff Beck. And there is awesome harmonica playing by Alan Glen.

Follow this Amazon link to hear samples:

The title line is a lyric from the song Still I'm Sad.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 14, 2007

The Seriousness Of Our News

At about 12:30pm Pacific I turned on the TV and clicked over to CNN for a minute. On the screen was a reporter interviewing Barbara Walters, because Walters was the only journalist who had interviewed Paris Hilton in jail.

That’s it. That's news in America. This news wasn't even news about Paris Hilton, it was news about the news interviewing Paris Hilton.

So I got on the internet and visited BBC News to see what news is like in England today. They are covering boring stuff, like the Hamas-Fatah war.

Al Jazeera is covering that, the Iraq mosque attacks, the assassination in Beirut, North Korea ... boring.

Nothing about Paris Hilton so I guess I'll go back to CNN.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:04 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Record Foreclosure Pace

U.S. Mortgages Enter Foreclosure at Record Pace,

The number of Americans who may lose their homes because of late mortgage payments rose to a record in the first quarter, led by subprime borrowers pinched by an economy that grew at the slowest pace in four years.

... Falling home prices hurt homeowners who fall behind on their payments, as they find it more difficult to sell the property or refinance into another loan, said Doug Duncan, chief economist for the Washington-based bankers' group.

Also, "More pain" - the "subprime" problems are rippling out:

Subprime woes weigh on Goldman, Bear results,

Goldman Chief Financial Officer David Viniar said in a conference call Thursday that the subprime sector's woes are not over and to expect "more pain" before the problem is purged.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Judge to Libby: Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

The judge in the Scooter Libby case ordered Libby to go directly to jail while he appeals.

Stories: Libby must begin perjury prison sentence: judge

Firedoglake liveblog: Libby Loses Liberty

Libby Will Head to Prison, Despite Pending Appeal,

Judge Reggie Walton said Libby is "not a danger to the community," but that there is also "not a likelihood it [his conviction] will be overturned."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:20 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack


Take a look at HillaryHub - a news aggregator, covers the blogs and news headlines.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 13, 2007

Dogs With Cancer

A number of dogs of friends of mine have recently succumbed to or come down with one or another form of cancer. This kind of thing is usually a coincidence, but I thought I might ask if others are seeing anything like this in your circles? Let me know in the comments.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:33 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

TV Preacher

Before bloggers, there was Dr. Eugene Scott.

Gone now, though...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:38 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Reaching the Public - at Take Back America

At next week's Take Back America conference I will be doing a "self-organized" session, titled Reaching the Public.

Progressives need to promote the benefits of progressive values and ideas to the general public. This creates demand for progressive candidates and policy solutions.

The idea is simple - right-wingers are out there all day, every day, and through every possible channel, repeating various forms of the simple marketing message "Conservatives are good and liberals are bad." The conservatives get it: persuasion, marketing, talking to the public WORKS. Over time this has an effect.

Liberals and progressives are not responding by also talking to the general public and promoting the benefits of PROGRESSIVE values and issues. So after a few decades of this, the public has a negative view of liberals & progressives, and in surveys they say they are conservative - even though they line up with us on the facts and issues. All a conservative candidate has to do is point a finger and shout "liberal liberal" and this gives them a tremendous head start in a campaign.

Joining me will be Jeffery Feldman of Frameshop and Conor Kenny of SourceWatch.

If you are at Take Back America, please come to this session, at 4pm on Monday June 18.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:53 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 12, 2007

Think Tanks Are Cool - DMI

I love progressive think tanks. I think building strong think tanks is a hugely important component of a "progressive infrastructure" for fighting back against the right. Progressive think tanks are where many of our ideas could be developed and communicated to the public. They are where many of the op-ed writers, book authors, opinion columnists, radio and TV guests could be employed. And they are where major reports and studies can be researched and written.

The blogs, of course, are a virtual think tank, where ideas are generated, discussed, revised and communicated at a very rapid pace.

You know that I have been working for some time to get the Commonweal Institute started. I am also on the Netroots Advisory Council of the Drum Major Institute (DMI).

The Drum Major Institute writes that they are a "progressive public policy for social and economic fairness."

DMI's approach is unwavering: We do not issue reports to see our name in print or hold forums for the sake of mere talk. We seek to change policy by conducting research into overlooked, but important social and economic issues, by leveraging our strategic relationships to engage policymakers and opinion leaders in our work, and by offering platforms to amplify the ideas of those who are working for social and economic fairness.
The Drum Major Institute is having a benefit on June 21. DMI's Elana Levin writes, DMI Annual Benefit: it's only the coolest fundraiser of the year,
DMI's Annual Benefit is just weeks away. On June 21st at Cipriani on 23rd street the Drum Major Institute and all of our supporters will be coming together for the big annual event that's key to keeping a leading edge think tank growing and going strong.
Tom Watson writes,
How cool is the DMI benefit?
Professor Cornell West of Harvard - the Cornell West will be presenting honoree Tavis Smiley with the Drum Major for Justice Award for being an outstanding voice for social change in the news media and beyond. You probably know Mr. Smiley from his nightly talk show on PBS and the best selling progressive book "The Covenant with Black America." [click through for links]
Click through to these posts for details.

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

Iraq Bridge Bombings -- Serious Trouble?

A number of bridges in Iraq have been blown up recently.

Suspected Sunni insurgents bombed and badly damaged a span over the main north-south highway leading from Baghdad on Tuesday — the third bridge attack in as many days in an apparent campaign against key transportation arteries.
There are signs this could be the beginning of a larger assault against US forces and the Iraqi government. It crimps the supply lines, makes it harder to bring in reinforcements and concentrates traffic on remaining routes.

In Bridge Bombing Campaign Escalates Further, the blog Gorilla's Guides has details on the bridge attacks.

The bombings outside of Baghdad are aimed at rendering the country ungovernorable by denying huge swathes of territory to the American forces. Good example of attacks aimed to achieve this are the Sahra bridge bombing and today’s Al Sabtiya bridge bombing.

Larry Johnson at No Quarter has a post, The Bombed Bridges of Baghdad writes,
The systematic destruction of bridges in and around Baghdad are the early warning signs that the mission for our soldiers in Iraq is going to get tougher and more deadly.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:30 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Smoking Politics Takes On Bozell's Media Research Center

Smoking PoliticsJoin Dave Johnson and James Boyce tomorrow at noon Eastern for Smoking Politics on Blog Talk Radio. Dave and James will be talking about the Media Research Center, the far-right media watchdog founded by right-winger Brent Bozell.

Tune in to Smoking Politics on Blog Talk Radio to hear more about the MRC and Brent Bozell and their role in the rise of the right-wing smear campaign.

And, as always, you're invited to call in to the show and talk with Dave and James about smears, fears, and the politics of attack-and-distract. The call-in number is (718) 508-9604.

Blog Talk Radio

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Incompetent Hit-Job On Gore

The Washington Post hires far-right Weekly Standard editor Andrew Ferguson to "review" Al Gore's book The Assault On Reason. And what does the guy do? In the first line of the review he writes, "You can't really blame Al Gore for not using footnotes in his new book..." to imply that Gore made up an Abraham Lincoln quote. Ferguson (and the editors) misses that Gore's book has endnotes! No one even checks whether it is a real Lincoln quote! And all this gets into print in the Washington Post!

And there's more. Tom Schaller writes about it in TAPPED. Go read.

Update - Eric Boehlert at Media Matters, The media's assault on reason,

But such is life for Al Gore when dealing with the Beltway press, where his vociferous critics cannot be bothered with the simplest fact-checking task, while oblivious media outlets such as the Post print up the errors.

Of course the thick irony here is that Gore's book laments the state of our crumbling national dialogue, yet it's the press that often deliberately dumbs down and interrupts our "conversation of democracy." Gore doesn't often explicitly connect the dots in his book, but the press remains a culprit throughout.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:34 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Post Formatting

I do not know why this blog has started to randomly center text in posts. I have not changed anything - especially not the css stylesheets. Does anyone have any ideas?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:15 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Getting Rid Of Public Schools - They MEAN It

I've said before that when you try to tell people about the right's agenda, they think YOU are the crazy person.

I've said before that when I try to talk about the stuff that the Republicans are up to, to people who don't really follow the news, they think I'M the crazy person!
I remember a few years ago telling my liberal aunt that the right wants to get rid of public schools. She's STILL mad at me for saying such an extremist, ridiculous thing. I MUST be an exaggerator, making up these things I say about the conservatives...

Today, another example. In the LA Times: Do away with public schools talks about "government-lovers" and "political correctness" and "bureaucrats" and mocks public schools for teaching about the civil rights movement. And there it is in the LA Times.

The right uses a tactic called "The Overton Window". This is the Overton Window at work. In a talk to an education group recently I discussed how this works:

The Overton Window is a sophisticated tactic to help move the Right’s self-described “unthinkable” ideas all the way to becoming policy.

The strategy is to make radical ideas seem acceptable and comfortable.

They describe a “ladder” of steps – degrees of public acceptance. They say they work to walk the public up this ladder step by step.

According to the Overton Window concept, when the public FIRST hears ideas like getting rid of public schools, they consider them unthinkable, but with time and repetition, these ideas begin to be considered only radical, then with familiarity they become acceptable, and eventually sensible and worth putting into policy.

This is another example of the use of this tactic. It is intended to shock us. Then, we get used to it. Watch this video clip I used in my talk to introduce the topic. As I said in my talk,
Anything LESS extreme sounds almost moderate by comparison – in the window of “thinkable.” THIS is why they say those outrageous things. They’re walking people up the ladder. It’s part of the long-term strategy.
These people are serious.

A few years ago I worked on a report titled, Responding to the Attack on Public Education and Teacher Unions, describing the organized effort to attack public education, and making some suggestions for countering this effort. Countering this effort requires more than just informing some people about facts and issues. The effort to privatize schools is part of a larger, coordinated attack on community and government itself. They MEAN it. It is past time that we understand what we are up against here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:01 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 11, 2007

Bush's "Stomach Ailment"

Culturekitchen has a photoessay on Bush's "stomach ailment" in Germany the other day. See The Heiligendamm Hangover | culturekitchen.

Can anyone read the label on that beer, to see if it s a non-alcoholic brand?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:56 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 10, 2007

Do You Think The Right Is Down For The Count?

Many think the right has been knocked out, down for the count. Many think they won't be a problem in 2008, a Democratic victory is assured.

Take a look at what happened to the immigration bill last week. Did the concerns of labor or other progressive-aligned groups matter? Not a whit.

But the right's anti-immigrant, talk-radio-propelled machine cranked up and BOOM! Immigration bill gone.

And, to top it off, even though it was Republican votes that killed it, the "conventional wisdom" word went out that "both parties" killed it.

Don't think the right's communication and activation machine isn't waiting to be used again.

Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:38 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 9, 2007

Conservative Movement Sleeper Cells

Atrios links to Digby, who writes that the appeals court is likely to reverse Scooter Libby's conviction because the particular judges are Federalist Society activists who have been working behind the scenes for years to reverse convictions of conservative movement operatives like Oliver North, while bending the law as far as possible to enable political investigations of Democrats like Bill Clinton.

And it does go back. Digby quotes from Robery Parry, writing about what Iran/Contra prosecutor Lawrence Walsh found himself up against - facing some of these same judges.

"Walsh recognized that many of the appeals judges held a "continuing political allegiance" to the conservative Federalist Society, an organization dedicated to purging liberalism from the federal courts.

"It reminded me of the communist front groups of the 1940s and 1950s, whose members were committed to the communist cause and subject to communist direction but were not card-carrying members of the Communist Party," Walsh wrote."

Atrios calls it a "conservative protection racket."

And now we know from the Justice Department probe that these operatives are in place throughout the government - "sleeper cells" waiting to jump out and sabotage any attempt at actual positive governance. Digby writes,

Sentelle and Silbermann appointed Ken Starr, whom Robert Bork defended for his high minded, straight devotion to duty.

Sentelle is still on the court. Lawrence Silberman is now a senior judge. Rehnquist's replacement, John Roberts was on that same court. The extremist Janice Rogers Brown is also on that court.

Perhaps the long term friendships, shared legal history and blind partisan loyalties among these people will not be relevant in this case. But let's just say I wouldn't be shocked if we get a surprising appellate decision based upon a novel, intellectually inconsistent theory set forth by a bunch of powerful wingnut legal enforcers. It happens.

A few years back in a post titled The Right Will Fight Dirty I wrote about the same problem (quoting the same Walsh quotes.) I wrote,
With The Party’s Federalist Society judges in place every special prosecutor appointed to investigate Republican wrongdoing was a right-wing Party operative, and those appointed to investigate Democrats was … a right-wing Party operative. Every motion before the Courts went against Clinton and the Democrats.

... And, finally, the 2000 election. The Supreme Court demonstrated the extent and power of Party operatives, positioned within the mechanisms of our government, whose loyalty is to an ideology and a Party rather than the country.

These years of this Bush's hands on the controls mean that our government is now infested with ideological operatives, waiting for their opportunity to prove that their loyalty lies with The Party, not American democracy.

And here we are, sleeper cells planted throughout the government, just waiting to destroy any Democrat elected to the Presidency while blocking any efforts to hold even a single conservative movement operative accountable for anything.

Suppose a Democrat does win the Presidency in 2008. Will that President be able to accomplish anything? Or will these sleeper cells awaken and wreak havoc?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:56 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 7, 2007

Today's Housing Bubble Post - "Coming Soon"

Something new in my area: There are a lot of houses for sale but recently many of the "For Sale" signs have "Coming Soon" written across the top. Coming soon, like not for sale yet? One house a few doors down the street has had a "Coming Soon" banner for about a month now. But it isn't for sale yet, I guess.

Is this a scam to avoid having to list a high number of days that the house has sat without being sold?

Other news, no bailouts soon for people with mortgage troubles: Mortgage Reform Unlikely This Year, Lawmakers And Regulators Say Market Is Showing Signs Of Self-Correcting,

Homeowners unable to pay monthly mortgage bills and facing foreclosure shouldn't count on help from Washington this year.

Regulators and lawmakers seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach as they confront the fallout from several years of lenders making too many home loans to people with inadequate credit.

... The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday it expects sales of existing homes to drop 4.6 percent this year to 6.2 million while the median home price is expected to fall 1.3 percent to $219,000. It would be the first annual drop since the trade group began keeping records in the 1960s.

The foreclosure rate nationwide is rising at an annual rate double that of two years ago. Nearly 2 million adjustable-rate mortgages are forecast to reset at higher rates over the next two years, suggesting the foreclosure rate has not peaked.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:35 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 6, 2007

Joe Trippi Bakes A Pie

John Edwards' Online Fundraising Ad

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:03 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

BREAKING - Has Turkey Invaded Northern Iraq?

Turkish Officials: Troops Enter Iraq,

Several thousand Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq early Wednesday to chase Kurdish guerrillas who operate from bases there, Turkish security officials told The Associated Press.

Two senior security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the raid was limited in scope and that it did not constitute the kind of large incursion that Turkish leaders have been discussing in recent weeks.

Turkey denies major incursion into N.Iraq,
Turkey denied a report on Wednesday it had launched a major incursion into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels there, but a military source said troops had conducted a limited raid across the mountainous border.

Rumours of an invasion have rattled financial markets amid growing Turkish anger over the activity of Turkish Kurdish rebels using the mountains of northern Iraq as a refuge. Washington has urged caution on Ankara, fearing conflict in what has been one of the most stable areas of Iraq.

More here as more is known.

Update - This follows Monday's report: US urges Turkey not to attack northern Iraq.

Ignore assurances - those are words, trees. See the forest: if Turkish troops have crossed the border this is very serious.

Al Jazeera,

"There is no incursion into any other country at the moment," Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister, said on Wednesday.

Earlier, the DEBKAfile website said 50,000 men had been deployed to the area.

Ankara described the report as "disinformation".

Hoshiyar Zebari, Iraq's foreign minister, said that there was no evidence that Turkish troops had entered Iraq.

"We have checked all along the border and there hasn't been any incursion or military operation inside Iraqi territory," he said.

"Iraq will not tolerate any military incursion. There is always room for dialogue."

A White House spokesman, in Germany for a G8 summit, also said that "no new activity" had been detected in northern Iraq.

Is this the beginning of an expansion of the Iraq war into a regional conflict?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:31 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack


I checked the logs, and Seeing the Forest is suddenly getting a number of visitors sent over here by Google, from people searching for the words "avoiding masturbation."

OK, this is a good blog, but I'd personally still rather... Or is it that people go to "About the Authors," take one look at my picture, and the urge just dissipates? Is this my legacy? Parents catch their teenagers shaking hands with the unemployed -- and send them here??!!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:44 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The "Honest Conservatives" should shut the fuck up

I think that when the "honest conservatives" reject Bush they're just setting up their assault on the Democratic president they expect to see elected next year. Their way of digging themselves out from under the Bush disaster (and obscuring their own massive role in that disaster) will be to swear that "Never again can an American President be allowed that kind of free hand!" This will justify their fighting the new Democratic President tooth and nail for every inch of ground.

For example, Bush's politicization of the career staff in Justice and elsewhere was a very bad thing, no? And certainly this kind of thing has to stop, no? So we will forbid the new Democratic President to interfere with career personnel, with the result that all of the political hacks Bush put in civil service positions will be untouchable. (When that happens, can we expect the media to understand what's going on? No, of course not. Can we expect the Democrats to understand? Not really, but this is one area where I'd trust Rahm Emmanuel. Send a hack to catch a hack.)

Now that they've stolen the horse, they're going to lock the barn door. It's just like January 2001: once Bush was inaugurated, the media and the Republicans decided that sabotage by impeachment and Gingrichean nastiness are really very bad things after all. So now the same people who worked so hard trying to impeach Clinton for almost nothing are telling us that it's unthinkable to do anything serious about Bush's much graver crimes.

In the long run we need a two-party system, and ultimately we want the Republican Party to be rebuilt on sane, civilized principles. But let's not rush into this. For the moment our task is to boot the Republicans out of office and start repairing the damage they've done. The role of the sane conservatives in this will be to sit in the back of the room with paper bags over their heads and their hands folded quietly on their laps.

From the comments here.

Posted by John Emerson at 7:20 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio Show Today Noon EST!

Noon EST TODAY! The call-in number is (718) 508-9604

The Smoking Politics BlogTalkRadio show with James Boyce and Dave Johnson 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:
blog radio

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

June 5, 2007

A Blog Recommend

Matewan - Journal and Haymarket Square.

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

Things To Explore

There's a lot going on at Seeing the Forest.

If you look down the left column you'll see a list of News Sources. These are sources I recommend, like AlterNet and BuzzFlash. Below that is a "Best Of" section. The blogroll is again disabled while I find an alternative to the Blogrolling service, which seems to be having perpetual server problems that hold up this site being worked on.

Down the right column you'll find a lot of great info. You can SUBSCRIBE - receive a daily summary of Seeing the Forest posts, or use the buttons to subscribe in your own blog reader service. You can PLACE AN AD -- they don't cost much and reach thousands of people. Further down you'll find category and date archives.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:31 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The REAL Senate Iraq War Vote Was 94-6

My buddy James Boyce has a post up over at Huffington, James Boyce: The Iraq War Vote Was 6-94.

James took a look at which Senators actually bothered to read the classified intelligence (NIE) briefing that was available to all Senators before voting to allow Bush to go to war with Iraq. Only six Senators did their jobs and read the report and learned what the real situation was. The rest voted - however they voted - for other reasons. James writes,

In October 2002, prior to the October 12, 2002 Iraq war vote, under lock and key, prepared for our Senators and Representatives by our country's top intelligence analysts, lay a 92 page report about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, and everything we knew about Saddam.

It sat waiting for our elected officials to sign in without staff and read it, 92 pages. No staffers allowed, elected officials only. A five page declassified document was readily available to all but the 92 page document, you had to show up, sign in and read it.

Only six Senators did.

Only six Senators thought that sending our country's bravest off to war to die was worth a few minutes of their time. How long a report would you have read before deciding to send our nation's finest to war?

You've got to read his post. He quotes from joejoejoe in a MyDD diary,
"The two Senators who pushed hardest to have the US intelligence community compile an NIE, Senator Bob Graham and Senator Dick Durbin, both voted against authorizing military force against Iraq - largely because the full classified 96-page NIE contained many more caveats and dissents than any of the summaries."
If a Senator votes to go to war or not without reading the intelligence report, what does that say about our political process - and about our Senators?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Insurance Companies

Our dental insurance company just surprised us with a new rule (by refusing to pay for something).

While they say they will cover two cleanings per year, the new rule is that they won't pay for any cleanings that are within 6 months of another cleaning, even if you still have only two per year. (This follows several other tricks in the last year or two that have resulted in our having to pay for everything, even though we are insured.)

Note - if you think about it this means that in two years you can only have three cleanings paid for unless you schedule them to the DAY with 6 months on either side...

BIG CLUE - the new California Insurance Commissioner is a Republican.

Additional note - my wife, who is in all other cases against the death penalty is coming around to advocate the death penalty for cases like this.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:44 AM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Libby Gets 30 Months

Scooter Libby has been sentenced to 30 months and a $250,000 fine for his role in blocking the prosecutor from finding out what happened with the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Wilson/Plame.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:23 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 4, 2007

Where Our Money Goes

This is a "Who is our economy for, anyway?" post.

Do you ever wonder where all the country's money went? Wonder why we "can't afford Social Security" even though the GDP is higher than ever? Wonder why we don't have national health care? Do you ever wonder where those Bush tax cuts went - and why the country is in massive debt?

Well here is a story about how some people live -- private jets for kids: JET SET KIDS,

The city's youngest high-fliers are pampered campers whose parents are paying big bucks to jet them off in style to their summer vacations.

In some cases, parents are spending thousands to save kids a bus ride of less than an hour.

The charter company Revolution Air has assigned more than 20 private jets to fly children to summer camp at the end of June, at a cost of about $8,000 a flight.

To cater to their young clients, the company has developed a special menu, including peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches, chicken fingers and ice-cream sundaes.

Property developer and mother of three Robin O'Hara is sending her 8-year-old, Danielle, on a 30-minute flight to Lake Bryn Mawr Camp in Honesdale, Pa.

"The bus takes 31/2 hours. It is crowded, and it's always a very dramatic scene," said O'Hara, of Great Neck, L.I.

"This year, she is not going with her [older] sisters, so we want to make it a special, unique experience for her.

"It's a trend. A lot of my friends do it," O'Hara said. "They play videos, they serve kids' food, sometimes, we'll have a manicurist on board. [emphasis added]"

As of 2001 the top 1% owned 33.4% of everything in the country - and it is worse now. In 2003 the top 1% received 57.5% of all capital gains.

The average CEO makes $10,982,000, which is 262 times what the average worker makes. That's average.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:40 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Messiah-Candidate Thinking

I hear lots of people express the sentiment, "If only Gore would enter the race (or if only Obama took the lead, etc.), everything would be OK and progressives would win again." This is what I call "Messiah-Candidate Thinking." The example that got me thinking about this was a DailyKos diary today: An Inconvenient Truth: Mr. Gore You HAVE to run in 2008,

Mr. Gore, you are the person best suited to rescue us from the assaults on reason, our Constitution, our environment, our security, and our domestic infrastructure perpetrated on us by the Busheviks and their allies.
I am not faulting the sentiment here. I love Gore and he would be a great President. I think most of the candidates would make great Presidents. But I don't think that one person or one election is going to lead us out of the wilderness. I think there is a lot of work required before progressives can win again and turn America in a progressive direction.

Do the conservatives run great candidates? Is that what has worked for them? Was Bush a great candidate? Or was it something else?

Here is what I think. Liberals and progressives used to win elections. They used to be a majority and everyone got used to it. So a lot of people think that all we need to do is find the right candidate who will articulate things well and get "the facts" out for them -- and the public will turn out in droves again. They look for another John F. Kennedy or Bill Clinton, thinking that's all that is needed to turn things back around.

But times have changed. The "conservative movement" has spent more than thirty years bombarding the public with coordinated, professionally-crafted propaganda that has changed the thinking of the public. This propaganda has gone unanswered and we are seeing the effects all around us.

Think about this - most people's political thinking developed since Reagan was elected. Heck, a good portion of the population doesn't remember a time before George W. Bush! So most of them have never been exposed to information that positively explains what progressives stand for, or the benefits of unions -- or even peace. This has had a terrible effect on the politics of this country.

This right-wing assault has eroded the public's understanding of (and belief in) democracy and community. It has even eroded understanding of - and faith in - science and reason! So I think there is a lot of work that has to be done to bring things back. We have to spend the money and do the work and take the time to build the think tanks and communications organizations (like Commonweal Institute) that will reach the public and explain and promote the benefits of progressive values and a progressive approach to issues. Over time this effort will restore public demand for progressive candidates.

Messiah-Candidate Thinking is a way to avoid facing the changes that have occurred in America. It is a way to put off the work that needs to be done.

So yes, I am all for Gore running. But I don't think it is the be-all and end-all. There is a lot of work to do before America turns back to a progressive direction.

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

Innocent Bystanders?

Democrats' Innocent Bystander Fable

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:57 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

June 3, 2007

Former Canadian Ambassador Say US Already Theocracy

U.S. a theocratic state, says former Canadian ambassador,

Frank McKenna, Canada’s former ambassador to Washington, referred to the United States on Friday as "a theocratic state" in which Christian evangelicalism plays a big role in the Republican administration.

“Right now the United States is in many ways a theocratic state, not dissimilar to some of the other religious states in the world where religion has a huge part to play in government."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Blog Reader Survey

Please take the Seeing the Forest blog reader survey!

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