March 1, 2013

The Legacy of Sandy Hook: An Unprecedented Opening for Change

The wholesale slaughter of children sparked an unprecedented opening for change in this country. Killing children broke something fundamental in our culture. On that sad day, it felt as if there was a giant ripping in our society -- yielding a gaping hole in all that was sacred and right. It was like watching the Twin Towers collapse all over again, but now it was our children. Many have asked if we have waited too long for action, the answer is simply no. Babies and guns do not belong in the same sentence. Assault weapons must never again be used to kill children.

It’s that opening – the gaping wound -- that is inspiring our President Obama and Vice President Biden. This unlikely duo appear to be fueled by the fire of what is possible, and are driving a Mack truck through this opening right now -- whether it is to push through the broadest gun safety legislation; or enact comprehensive immigration reform; or to raise the minimum wage; or end violence toward women; or to support gay marriage.

Watching our President Obama the evening of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School – it was clear that he would leap tall buildings to save the children and people of this country. It had become a Holy Crusade and compromise is off the table. Witness the fervor with which this team is working to move their Cabinet nominations forward even for beleaguered Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. Republican shenanigans are not being tolerated even on their home turf, the House of Representatives. These folks can rant and rave for the cameras (and they do), but are falling flat with no run way. The President’s approval ratings are soaring even in the shadow of the latest, manufactured financial machination of the ‘sequester.’ And it is this fundamental lack of empathy and understanding that may be the down fall of the Republican Party as we know it today.

Frankly, the President is done turning himself into a human pretzel and for this we must rejoice. You just can’t compromise with folks that hate you and all that you stand for. It’s a travesty that it took this horrific loss of lives in Sandy Hook to galvanize the American people – but it did. Unbelievably, today one child still “dies every three hours from gun violence in the United States.” Everyone knows that gun safety legislation is not about the Second Amendment, but rather about sustaining a modern civilization.

The winds of change are upon us. Just witness the President’s news conference today on the impasse over what is called sequestration. He’s not backing down.

Posted by Michelle at 10:37 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

July 14, 2011

ALEC Exposed -- This Is Huge!

The secret, corporate-written agenda of the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council has been leaked. Take a look at ALEC Exposed. This is HUGE -- spend some time there looking around.

Here is more info:

In April 2011, some of the biggest corporations in the U.S. met behind closed doors in Cincinnati about their wish lists for changing state laws. This exchange was part of a series of corporate meetings nurtured and fueled by the Koch Industries family fortune and other corporate funding.

... There, as the Center for Media and Democracy has learned, these corporate-politician committees secretly voted on bills to rewrite numerous state laws. According to the documents we have posted to ALEC Exposed, corporations vote as equals with elected politicians on these bills. These task forces target legal rules that reach into almost every area of American life: worker and consumer rights, education, the rights of Americans injured or killed by corporations, taxes, health care, immigration, and the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The Center obtained copies of more than 800 model bills approved by companies through ALEC meetings, after one of the thousands of people with access shared them, and a whistleblower provided a copy to the Center. Those bills, which the Center has analyzed and marked-up, are now available at ALEC Exposed.

From a press release:

“An examination of the broad sweep of bills exposes a very radical agenda. Why is Wal-Mart involved with an organization that wants to turn Medicare and Medicaid into voucher plans? Why is Kraft working with a group that wants to privatize the public school system? Why is Coca Cola going along with efforts to take away voting rights from college students? Why are Bayer and Pfizer and all the big insurance firms in bed with big tobacco? We hope people will start asking these firms, which are all on ALEC’s corporate board, to quit undermining our democracy through ALEC,” said Mary Bottari of the Center for Media and Democracy.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:35 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

January 19, 2010

Morning News From Progressive Perspective

I suggest checking out the new Progressive Breakfast from the Campaign for America's Future. This is a morning roundup of what's going on in the news.

You can sign up to receive this in your inbox every morning by entering your email address in the box on the right side of the page.

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

September 1, 2009

California Fire Smoke Map

Last year I wrote about a California Fire Smoke Map.

It is still active and working. Go see.

I also located a map of the LA fire.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 27, 2009

On The Swine Flu

The "swine flu" H1N1 virus is a potential pandemic flu that started in Mexico and is spreading. Pandemics, meaning influenza epidemics in multiple countries, happen every 20 years or so, and we are overdue. Flu pandemics are very serious. The Spanish Flu of 1918-19 had an estimated mortality rate of 2.5% and killed between 20 and 40 million people. The Hong Kong flu of 1968 had a lower death rate, killing 33,800 in the United States and 1 million worldwide.

The reason flu pandemics happen is that the influenza virus constantly mutates. Every year the new flu viruses are usually only a little bit different from the prior year, so even though we may get sick, some of us have some immunity and the existing antibodies (from earlier times we had flu or a flu vaccine) provide some protection. Public health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) track the emergence of new viruses and usually have time to prepare the yearly vaccines. So usually the new flu strains don't hit as many people, and therefore fewer sick people are spreading it, and most people aren't getting sick to the point where death is a possibility.

But sometimes there is a major genetic shift, in which a flu virus appears that contains pieces from bird and/or swine influenza viruses as well a human virus. Humans have no immunity to this new virus. So the flu sweeps through the population, and those who get it get much sicker. The new Mexican swine flu virus contains a mixture of genetic material from swine, bird, and human influenza viruses.

These influenza epidemics can sometimes be very, very serious, like that 1918 Spanish flu. The recent "Bird Flu" human fatalities appeared to be over 60% , but it appears that the "bird flu" (avian influenza) was not easily transmitted from one human to another. However, if there is another small modification in the bird flu virus such that it acquired the ability to be easily spread between people, the result could be beyond catostrophic -- like the plague years. That is why bird flu was so much in the news. SARS (the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which was caused by a non-influenza type virus, killed 17% of humans it infected, but the epidemic was stopped before it spread widely. This new Mexican swine flu seems to be killing about 10% of the people it has sickened in Mexico, if the numbers are correct, but there is no way to know accurately yet.

Usually, influenza is more serious in the elderly and the very young, whose immune systems are weakers. However, pandemic flus, which are caused by novel new flu virus strains, are more deadly in stronger people (like young adults) than in the very old or very young, because it causes their stronger immune systems to overreact, called a "cytokine storm" -- a major release of infection-fighting substances in the body that can, in large quantities, cause serious damage. This extreme immune reaction is what makes pandemic flu so serious, and is the reason it strikes so much harder in healthy young people. It appears that this new Mexican flu is killing young adults--people of the right age--which is another sign it could be dangerous. On the other hand, there have been no fatalities yet in the United States, which is a promising sign. It may mean there is some factor involved in the cases in Mexico that aggravated the disease, that wasn't present in the US cases. Or it may mean that the flu spreading in the US is somehow different.

Note, when I search for "swine flu" on Google News I get lots of stories about how "the scare" is "affecting the markets." It's like how they cover movies, not according to whether they are any good, but how much money they make each weekend. So the major media mindset is still more concerned with money than people.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Interactive Swine Flu Map


View H1N1 Swine Flu in a larger map


H1N1 Swine flu in 2009
Pink markers are suspect
Purple markers are confirmed
Deaths lack a dot in marker
Yellow markers are negative

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:58 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 13, 2008

Bird Flu - Keep An Eye On This

Keep an eye on this, it could be serious: The Jakarta Post - 17 in hospital with suspected bird flu,

A South Sulawesi hospital was overwhelmed as it admitted in two days 17 patients believed to have bird flu, an official said Thursday.

. . . Kurnia said the hospital had conducted urgent tests for the first seven patients, with the results indicating the presence of the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

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

October 28, 2008

Was 64 McCain Fatal Car Crash Covered Up?

This is a question not a statement. It might be an emerging story. There is a report out that John McCain was involved in a fatal car crash in 1964, and that it has been covered up.

News Orgs Investigate Possibly Fatal McCain '64 Car Crash,

For the past two months, a major American magazine and an allied news service have been engaged in a legal battle with the United States Navy over records that they believe show that John McCain once was involved in an automobile accident that injured or, perhaps, killed another individual.

Vanity Fair magazine and the National Security News Service claim to have knowledge "developed from first-hand sources" of a car crash that involved then-Lt. McCain at the main gate of a Virginia naval base in 1964, according to legal filings. The incident has been largely, if not entirely, kept from the public. And in documents suing the Navy to release pertinent information, lawyers for the NS News Service allege that a cover-up may be at play.

Go read.

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

October 17, 2008

Obama Campaign Asks Special Prosecutor To Look Into DOJ/McCain Campaign Collusion On ACORN Charges

The Obama campaign today sent a letter to Attorney General Mukasey asking that he expand the scope of the ongoing investigation into Justice Department politicization to "include a review of any involvement by the Justice Department and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC)'s systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud."

Briefly, the DOJ politicization scandal stems from Republican efforts to conduct partisan vote fraud investigations before the 2006 election. Prosecutors who refused were fired, prosecutors who played along were not fired (and are still there). After an outcry and the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales the new Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, appointed a special prosecutor to look into the politicization. The current vote fraud accusations and accompanying Justice Department, FBI and White House involvement follow the same pattern, and are based on no credible evidence, so the Obama campaign believes that it may be related to the ongoing partisan politicization of the government's law enforcement.

More coming...

Update - Ari Melber at The Washington Independent has more,

Citing an “unholy alliance” between Republican operatives and potentially illegal conduct by law enforcement targeting voter fraud, the Obama campaign demanded Friday that the U.S. special prosecutor looking into the U.S. attorney scandal investigate the matter.

General counsel Bob Bauer sent a letter to Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey charging that coordinated “misconduct” by McCain campaign representatives and GOP officials were relevant to the special prosecutor’s work, because the activities may relate to the dismissal of seven U.S. attorneys in late 2006.

The letter requests that the special prosecutor’s inquiry “include a review of any involvement by Justice Dept. and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign [and RNC's] systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud.”

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:19 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 19, 2008

Starz Green Room in Denver

If you are going to be in Denver next week for the Democratic Convention check out the Starz Green Room. Their description:

The Starz Green Room at the Starz FilmCenter offers major movies, newsmakers of all stripes and a place for delegates, media and notable guests to gather. Just a respite from the 2008 Democratic National Convention, it is mere steps from the Pepsi Center. The Starz Green Room includes topical panels, politically themed films and a VIP Lounge.

Click here to download a PDF event guide.

There are a ton of movies they will be showing -- contemporary as well as classic films with topical themes. The Impact Film Festival is presenting such films as Flow, I.O.U.S.A., Battle in Seattle, Trouble the Water, The Black List, The Accidental Advocate, and others. Most of the contemporary films will be followed by conversations with the filmmakers and others associated with the projects.

Events and Book Signings include:

Arianna Huffington and her book "Right is Wrong," 8/25 12:30pm–1:30pm Book signing

Drew Westen and "The Political Brain" 8/25 3:30pm–5:00pm both a book signing and a presentation. I've seen Drew talk and you shouldn't miss this.

David Sirota and his new book "The Uprising" 8/26 12:00pm–1:00pm -- both a book signing and a presentation.

There are dozens of book signings and presentations by authors.

Digby Digby: There is a SeaChange Communications Ideas Forum panel called, "Who’s Driving Whom? The Blogosphere vs. Mainstream Media," 8/25 11:00am–12:30pm.
Moderator: Arianna Huffington (Founder of the Huffington Post), Jonathan Alter (Senior Editor and Political Columnist for Newsweek Politics)Digby (Founding Blogger of Hullabaloo) Chris Cillizza (Washington Post’s politics blog, “The Fix”)

A panel I will not miss: SeaChange Communications Ideas Forum: Democracy Alliance: Colorado as a Model–Donor Cooperation for Social Change, 8/27 10:00am–11:30am
Panelists: Rob Stein (Founder, Democracy Alliance) Rob McKay (Executive Director, The McKay Foundation) Laurie Hirschfeld Zeller (Executive Director, Colorado Democracy Alliance) Kelly Craighead (Executive Director, Democracy Alliance)

There are tons of panels. Check the schedule for more.

You need credentials to get into the convention to attend. Tix are at the seachangecom.com site by each individual event.

I'm helping out with this effort so I'll be writing about it in advance as well as writing about some of the events.

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

Video Of Dumbass

This Darwin Awards candidate actually tried to kite surf in a tropical storm. See the results.

Kevin was on Fort Lauderdale beach when Fay's winds took the 26-year-old for a ride. Kearney, who was harnessed into his kite sail, couldn't break free when he was lifted into the air.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:56 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 27, 2007

DownWithTyranny Banned In Burma!

Go read the whole thing: DownWithTyranny!: Update to Howie's post from Myanmar: NO MORE POSTS FROM MYANMAR,

Let's suppose you're a functionary working for a tinpot dictatorship, and you hear tell of a website called "DownWithTyranny." Do you:

(a) E-mail your friends saying, "Hmm, this sounds way cool"?

(b) Read some back posts, adding snarky comments reflecting the pro-tyrannical point of view?

(c) Block the shit out of the damn thing?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

What Bhutto's Assassination Means

Talking Points Memo,

The most likely culprit is the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda. But it's not exactly an event met with tears by the Pakistani military, which thoroughly controls the government and the economy.

. . . U.S. strategy didn't exactly find that so offensive. "The idea was to consolidate the alliance of the so-called moderate forces in the Pakistani military through this election that the military was going to rig but we were going to certify anyway," Rubin observes. That is, as long as Bhutto was in the picture -- since the U.S. had reduced the democratic opposition to the figure of Benazir Bhutto, although her corruption as PM was manifest. Without Bhutto, it is unclear what the U.S. will do.

Bhutto's assassination presents an opportunity for Musharraf. "It's very possible Musharraf will declare [another] state of emergency and postpone the elections," Rubin continues. "That will confirm in many people's minds the idea that the military is behind" the assassination. For it's part, the U.S. will likely "be scrambling to say the election either needs to be held as planned or postponed rather than canceled, but Musharraf is in a position to preempt that."

As a result, Rubin says, U.S. strategy is "in tatters."

London Times has a roundup of "blog reaction" but I don't know many of the blogs
."I hope that the killing of Benazir Bhutto will open the eyes of US and UK adminsitration and will allow political forces to grow rather Pakistan Army. I hope that the people of Pakistan would come to roads and will throw away Pakistan Army and its dirty establishment and ISI."
Raw Story has AP,
While awaiting formal confirmation of Bhutto's death in an attack on an election rally, U.S. officials — who had labored to promote stability in the nuclear-armed country that has been an anti-terrorism ally — huddled to assess the impact of Bhutto's passing just two weeks before legislative elections in the turbulent nation in which her party was expected to do well."
CNN has Arnaud de Borchgrave on the air, calling him an "analyst: That's further right than even Fox.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 5, 2007

Huckabee's Role In Serial Rapist's Release

Murray Waas at Huffington Post has an exclusive: Documents Expose Huckabee's Role In Serial Rapist's Release,

Little Rock, Ark -- As governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee aggressively pushed for the early release of a convicted rapist despite being warned by numerous women that the convict had sexually assaulted them or their family members, and would likely strike again. The convict went on to rape and murder at least one other woman.

Confidential Arkansas state government records, including letters from these women, obtained by the Huffington Post and revealed publicly for the first time, directly contradict the version of events now being put forward by Huckabee.

Huckabee bought into a Clinton-hater conspiracy theory and released the guy. After his release:
After Dumond's release from prison in September 1999, he moved to Smithville, Missouri, where he raped and suffocated to death a 39-year-old woman named Carol Sue Shields. Dumond was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison for that rape and murder.
Go read the rest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 21, 2007

China - Something is Going On

US warships refused entry to Hong Kong for scheduled Thanksgiving holiday visit

A flotilla of U.S. warships carrying as many as 8,000 American sailors heading for a four-day Thanksgiving holiday visit to China's port of Hong Kong has been refused entry, the U.S. Navy said Thursday.
U.S. aircraft carrier denied access to Hong Kong
The Kitty Hawk group and its crew of 8,000 U.S. airmen and sailors had been expected in Hong Kong on Wednesday, but will now spend the holiday on the South China Sea.

Hundred of relatives of crew members of the USS Kitty Hawk had flown to Hong Kong to celebrate Thanksgiving with their loved ones. Hong Kong has been a regular port of call for U.S. sailors on "R & R" (rest and recuperation) since the Vietnam War.

[. . .] The move by Beijing coincides with "airspace controls" on Wednesday which Xinhua news agency said affected the air travel plans of 7,000 people in south and east China.

The controls were introduced for "unspecified reasons."

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

November 3, 2007

Pakistan

Pakistani President Musharraf has imposed martial law on the country, as their Supreme Court was just about to rule on the legitimacy of his October election. The best news source I have been able to find is BBC: Musharraf imposes emergency rule,

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has declared emergency rule and suspended the country's constitution.

Troops have been deployed inside state-run TV and radio stations, while independent channels have gone off air.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who condemned the moves, has reportedly been sacked and is being confined to the Supreme Court with 10 other judges.

Pakistan is under pressure from al Queda/Taliban types. The country has nuclear weapons. Watch this one closely - it affects us all.

The New York Times has a write-up here: Musharraf Declares State of Emergency,

The declaration came the day after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the senior American military commander in the Middle East, Admiral William J. Fallon, both warned General Musharraf not to impose emergency rule. Admiral Fallon, meeting here with General Musharraf and his top generals, said such a move would jeopardize the extensive American financial support for the Pakistani military.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:57 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 24, 2007

San Diego Fire Map

Here is an updating map of the San Diego fire area. Click it for more detail.


View Larger Map

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 22, 2007

Turkey Invading Northern Iraq?

Turkish troops, weapons head toward Iraq ,

Dozens of Turkish military vehicles loaded with soldiers and heavy weapons rumbled toward the Iraq border on Monday after an ambush by guerrilla Kurds that left eight soldiers missing and killed 12. Iraq's president said the rebels would announce a cease-fire later in the day.
Let's hope this is not the beginning of a regional spread of the destabilization and misery Bush unleashed by invading Iraq.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 19, 2007

California Newsladder Preview

I'm working with a project that will be launch in a few weeks, called California Newsladder. California Newsladder is a news aggregator for progressive California blogs and news sites.

It is running now, so go take a look. Here is what it is about: If you have signed up, you can add links to stories that you think are important or interesting. If you click a link you can read the entire story at the site where it came from.

You can also recommend links that you see there. As the stories are recommended they climb up the ladder. After Newsladder's launch, each day the top ten stories be sent to legislators and their aides, reporters and editors and TV and radio stations around the state. This will help expand the reach of progressive blogs and news sites like California Progress Report and Calitics.

California Newsladder is part of the system that also has Burma Newsladder and some new sites coming up.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 12, 2007

Al Gore and UN Climate Panel Awarded Nobel Peace Prize!

Al Gore, UN panel share Nobel for Peace,

Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change jointly won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Friday for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for fighting it.
From the Nobel committee:
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2007

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.

Indications of changes in the earth's future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness, and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds. Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth's resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.

Through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades, the IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming. Thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.

Al Gore has for a long time been one of the world's leading environmentalist politicians. He became aware at an early stage of the climatic challenges the world is facing. His strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.

By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control.

Oslo, 12 October 2007

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 28, 2007

Burma

If you are following the situation in Burma/Myanmar, go see the stories at or, most important, leave a story at the brand-new Burma Newsladder

Try the What's Up and What's New tabs.

The newsladder is a new project that I am involved in.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 1, 2007

R. I. P. Alfred Peet

"I came to the richest country in the world, so why are they drinking the lousiest coffee?"

Alfred Peet, founder of Peet's Coffee & Tea, died Wednesday at 87. I have posted a roundup of stories at Smelling the Coffee.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 19, 2007

Anti-Gay Republicans Crash Worship Services

The Columbus Dispatch : Anti-gay activists crash worship services,

A conservative Christian values group has been interrupting services at two central Ohio churches to protest their support for homosexuality.

Minutemen United vowed to attend services every Sunday.

The group started its crusade when First Baptist Church in Granville hosted "Love Makes a Family," a traveling exhibit by the Family Diversity Project showing photos of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families.

[. . .] "They rebuked me as a pastor for preaching that God's love is for everyone," Keeny said.

The Bilerico Project writes,
...this comes down to respect for people's religions, and the Religious Right always declares themselves on the side of religious freedom promulgating paranoid fantasies of police rounding up pastors after hate crimes legislations gets passed or school teachers locking away students with Bibles or whatever. But then when it comes to anyone who disagrees with them, suddenly the word "freedom" gets exposed for the window dressing that it is.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 18, 2007

YearlyKos Ask The Leaders Forum - Reid, Pelosi, Schumer, Emanuel

I was looking around the YearlyKos Convention website and came across this: YearlyKos Netroots Convention Welcomes Pelosi, Reid, Emanuel, Schumer To Ask The Leaders Forum | YearlyKos Convention: Building a Netroots Nation

Wow! This is a big deal. Democracy! From the description:

YearlyKos Convention organizers announced today that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, and Sen. Charles E. “Chuck” Schumer will participate in a unique Ask the Leaders Forum to be held August 4 in Chicago.

The event—much like the YearlyKos Presidential Leadership Forum that will be held later that afternoon—empowers citizens to engage America's current Senate and House leadership in substantive discussion about hot topics such as Iraq.

I will have some exciting panel announcements very soon.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 9, 2007

DC Madam's Phone Reords Out - One Republican Senator Down Already

The phone records of the "DC Madam" were posted on the web a few hours ago. The first casualty is, of course, a Republican Senator from Louisiana.

U.S. Sen. apologizes after phone number appears on escort records,

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., apologized Monday night for "a very serious sin in my past" after his telephone number appeared among those associated with an escort service operated by the so-called "D.C. Madam.''
Etc. Etc.

Republicans...

OK, for fun, better go check it before they take it down:
Vitter Statement on Protecting the Sanctity of Marriage,

“This is a real outrage. The Hollywood left is redefining the most basic institution in human history, and our two U.S. Senators won’t do anything about it.

We need a U.S. Senator who will stand up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts’s values. I am the only Senate Candidate to coauthor the Federal Marriage Amendment; the only one fighting for its passage. I am the only candidate proposing changes to the senate rules to stop liberal obstructionists from preventing an up or down vote on issues like this, judges, energy, and on and on.” stated David Vitter.


More to come...


Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 28, 2007

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) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

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.

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June 14, 2007

HillaryHub

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

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June 6, 2007

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) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 22, 2007

Notes From A Call With Al Gore

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

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

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

--

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

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

--

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

--

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

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

--

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

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

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

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Gore Responds to White House

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

Gore said,

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

My call notes are here and a comment here.

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

Jerome Armstrong writes here.

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May 3, 2007

Contaminated Food Supply?

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

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

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

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

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

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May 1, 2007

Britney Joining Pussycat Dolls?

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

britn.jpg

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April 14, 2007

ANOTHER Political Prosecution From A Scandal-Tainted US Attorney?

This looks like it might be yet another political prosecution. This time it isn't a US Attorney engaging in a political prosecution in order to keep the job -- instead it involves one of those NEW, Rove-approved US Attorneys who replaced those US Attorneys fired for failing to engage in political prosecutions. This prosecution shows us what to expect from now on. This one is prosecuting a guy entirely for political and not legal reasons, AFTER the courts threw out the case AND after the judge said they should drop the charges.

This case is about medical marijuana. California voters passed an initiative allowing the use of marijuana for AIDS, cancer and other patients because it helps them to eat and reduces symptoms. The Christian Right doesn't like that so the Bush administration has been prosecuting people for Federal crimes - even though they are legally operating according to state law.

From the article, Prosecutors will retry Ed Rosenthal, known as the `guru of ganja',

Federal prosecutors said today they would retry marijuana grower Ed Rosenthal on cultivation charges, even after a federal judge urged them to drop the case and chastised the government for lodging charges solely to punish the self-proclaimed "guru of ganja."

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer demanded to know who in the Department of Justice made the decision to continue pursuing Rosenthal, who had his original conviction overturned last year.

... Newly appointed U.S. Attorney Scott Schools made the decision, said Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan, but he was not sure if Department of Justice officials in Washington were involved. [all emphasis added]

So here we go, another political prosecution from a Rove-connected prosecutor?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 9, 2007

Party Over Country On The Draft

OK, because of Bush's "surge" the country has run flat out of troops to fight in Iraq and is dipping way into the National Guard. Again.

This is serious shit. There are times when you need a ready armed force. Responsible leaders do not use up the military like this without calling up a draft to cover emergencies. If Bush gave a hoot about defending the country he would start an emergency draft, and increases taxes to pay for this mess.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 4, 2007

Waxman Requests Illegal White House E-Mails Sent Through Republican Party

There is a law that says all communications by White House employees must be preserved. Trying to dodge around that law, many White House employees used alternate e-mail addresses for official correspondence. Many of these e-mails were handled by the Republican Party's e-mail servers.

Now that this has come out, the Congress is requesting to see those e-mails - which are the property of the public. I've included the entire letter below, and you can also read the request at Speaker Pelosi's blog, The Gavel: Waxman Requests Emails:

April 4, 2007

Mike Duncan
Chairman
Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

Dear Mr. Duncan:

I am writing to request e-mail communications stored on Republican National Committee servers that relate to the use of federal agencies and federal resources for partisan political purposes.

Last week, the Committee held a hearing into allegations of misconduct at the General Services Administration. One of the issues examined at the hearing involved a partisan political presentation that White House Deputy Director of Political Affairs, J. Scott Jennings, made to the GSA Administrator, Lurita A. Doan, and approximately 40 GSA appointees in the GSA headquarters building on January 26, 2007. At this event, Mr. Jennings presented a 28-page PowerPoint briefing that reviewed the 2006 election results and identified the Republican party’s top electoral targets in upcoming federal and state elections. Following the presentation, Ms. Doan asked her staff to consider how GSA resources could be used to help “our candidates” in the next election.

Serious questions were raised at the hearing about the legality and propriety of Mr. Jennings’s presentation and the discussion that followed it. In addition, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service issued a report finding that the presentation itself and Ms. Doan’s comments could be violations of the federal Hatch Act.[1] According to a White House spokesperson, however: “This is regular communication from the White House to political appointees throughout the administration.”[2]

In communicating with GSA about the presentation, Mr. Jennings and his assistant used “gwb43.com” e-mail accounts maintained by the RNC rather than their official White House e-mail accounts. In their e-mails, they described the presentation as a “close hold” and said that “we’re not supposed to be emailing it around.”[3]

To assist the Committee in its investigation of these issues, I request that you provide any electronic messages sent or received by Karl Rove, J. Scott Jennings, or any other White House officials using accounts maintained by the RNC that relate to (1) the January 26, 2007, PowerPoint presentation at GSA, (2) the presentation of any similar political briefings at other federal agencies or to other federal employees, or (3) the use of federal agencies or resources to help Republican candidates.

The Committee requests that you produce these documents on or before April 18, 2007.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee in the House of Representatives and has broad oversight jurisdiction as set forth in House Rule X. An attachment to this letter provides additional information about how to respond to the Committee’s request.

If you have any questions regarding this request, please contact David Rapallo or Anna Laitin with the Committee staff at (202) 225-5420.

Sincerely,

Henry A. Waxman
Chairman

Enclosure

cc: Tom Davis
Ranking Minority Member

——————————————————————————–

[1] Memorandum from Congressional Research Service to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Meetings, Conferences as “Political Activities” in a Federal Office, and “Hatch Act” Considerations (Mar. 26, 2007) (online at www.oversight.house.gov/ Documents/20070328154603-20874.pdf).

[2] Panel Asks Rove for Information on ’08 Election Presentation, Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2007).

[3] Email from Jocelyn Webster to Tessa Truesdale (Jan. 19, 2007) (W-02-0310).

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April 1, 2007

Pet-Food Contaminant Might Be In Human Food, Too!

The Huffington Post | David Goldstein: Tainted Wheat Gluten Sold as "Food Grade",

Del Monte Foods has confirmed that the melamine-tainted wheat gluten used in several of its recalled pet food products was supplied as a "food grade" additive, raising the likelihood that contaminated wheat gluten might have entered the human food supply.

"Yes, it is food grade," Del Monte spokesperson Melissa Murphy-Brown wrote in reply to an e-mail query.

So is it in human food? The agency whose job it is to tell us ... won't tell us.
Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine said the FDA is not aware of any contaminated gluten that went into human food but said he could not confirm this "with 100 percent certainty." Wheat gluten is a common food additive used as a thickener, dough conditioner, and meat substitute. It is widely used as an additive in commercial bakery items and special purpose flours.

The FDA announced today that it has traced the contaminated wheat gluten to a single processor, Xuzhou Anying Biological Technology of Peixian, China, but has not released the name of the U.S. distributor who supplied the product to Del Monte, Menu Foods, Nestle Purina, and Hills Nutritional. [emphasis added]

... Public statements have indicated that the contaminated gluten was distributed by a single U.S. company, but since the FDA refuses to name the supplier, it is not yet known if this company also supplies human food manufacturers. It is also not yet known if Xuzhou Anying sells direct to food manufacturers in the U.S. or abroad.

If FDA won't release the name of the distributor, how do we find out if this is in human food, and which food? People are wondering if their food is contaminated and the government will not let them know?

If this was on the other foot this would be used as agitprop with headlines at Drudge, etc., making claims that all our food is contaminated along with accusations that the Democrats are being paid to cover it up.

Meanwhile, Down With Tyranny asks if this is happening because of Republican deregulation and outsourcing?

Sadly No,

Our rulers, reactionary and neoliberal, presume the following heirarchies: Cheap > healthy; free trade > heavy (safe, conscientious, fair) regulation.

It’s economics, stupid. Now eat up.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 30, 2007

Iran Violates Geneva Conventions

Broadcasting pictures of the captured British sailors and marines is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Unlike the United States, England has not withdrawn from that treaty.

We face here another example of the consequences of Bush's violation of the compact between a democracy and its leaders. When the leader of your country says he has information that we face imminent attack, you must believe him. Bush did this to lead us into an attack on Iraq, and was lying. So now Bush tells us that Iran is a threat to peace - and it probably is, as this recent action demonstrates. But we can not believe Bush and we can not trust that there is no hidden agenda involved.

As I have said before, if Bush and the Right's claims about Iran come out of true concern for the country, then Bush must step aside. We must have leadership that the people can trust to tell us this is so.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 27, 2007

Turn On The News - Stock Market Is Dumping

The Down Jones is down over 400, was down over 500. Turn on the news.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 29, 2006

Saddam Hanged

Following a sham trial Saddam Hussein was executed today for executing 148 people following a sham trial.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 8, 2006

The Democrats Have Taken The Majority in the Senate

The Democrats have officially taken the majority in the Senate.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

A Call With Speaker-To-Be Pelosi

I just got off of a 40-minute call with a few bloggers and Speaker-To-Be Pelosi.

Here are some things can be and will be changed right now, as a matter of the rules the House sets for itself:

Earmarks - Any earmarks must be presented in public before the committee, be publicly justified and approved by the committee. NO tax earmarks at all. This ends the system of purchasing earmarks.

Lobbying crackdown - NO gifts, meals, trips, etc. from lobbyists, period. Plus other reforms.

Open government - the leadership will not restrict amendments to bills. This means that Republicans will be able to offer amendments to bills before the House - something they prevented Democrats from doing. This lets policy be set by the strength of ideas rather than corrupt deals and hidden agendas.

Some needed changes require legislation, which will be introduces ASAP, including:

- Public financing of elections to remove the entire campaign contribution corruption system.

- Requiring non-partisan redistricting of every state, decided by a non-partisan commission, which will occur only after each 10-year census. Political considerations will be removed from the drawing of district boundaries.

- Oil subsidies ended and the money used to fund alternative energy.

There was a discussion of Iraq. I'll wait for other bloggers from the call to post and link to that.

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November 7, 2006

The Democrats Have Taken The Majority in the House

The Democrats have officially taken the majority in the House of Representatives.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Looking Good - Really Good

Every early indicator is going the Dems way. Republican Senators DeWine, Santorum and Chaffee are defeated. In Indiana's 2nd Congressional District Rick Donnely has defeated Chris Chocola.

So if good news keeps coming in, perhaps we will see a Democratic House AND Senate, and there will finally be some oversight of the government and rolling back of the corruption and lawlessness!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Early Indicators

Swing State Project says there are are early indicators of record turnout.

• Connecticut: According to the New Times in Danbury, Connecticut's Secretary of State is claiming that 70% of eligible voters will turn out this year, topping 2004's Presidential-level turnout of 56%. Wowza. Is this the strength of Ned Lamont's ground game at work and his outsider appeal energizing disinterested voters? Or will Lieberman be able to make up the difference by his strength in traditional voting blocs? We'll see, but I suspect this one will be tighter than many of the polls have assumed.

• Virginia: Turnout may reach historic levels for a midterm election, perhaps with a turnout as high as 65%--which would be a figure double the size of 2002's turnout. Turnout looks high in both Fairfax county in Northern Virginia and in Southwestern Virigina, according to CNN. On balance, I would say that this favors Webb, but it definitely still looks like a nailbiter at this point.

Think Progress has early CNN exit polls.

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November 6, 2006

Calls: It Gets The Job Done

This one at DailyKos, you just have to appreciate these guys. It's simple, it's basic and it gets the job done:

Tim Daly from Clarendon got a call saying that if he votes Tuesday, he will be arrested. A recording of his voicemail can be found online at: www.webbforsenate.com/media/phone_message.wav

The transcript from his voicemail reads:

"This message is for Timothy Daly. This is the Virginia Elections Commission. We've determined you are registered in New York to vote. Therefore, you will not be allowed to cast your vote on Tuesday. If you do show up, you will be charged criminally."

Daly has been registered to vote in Virginia since 1998, and he has voted for the last several cycles with no problem. He has filed a criminal complaint with the Commonwealth's attorney in Arlington.

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October 3, 2006

Destroying Workers' Right To Organize Unions

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

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

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

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October 2, 2006

News On Foleygate

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

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

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

September 22, 2006

Clinton Fights Back

I forget - WHO was it that received a CIA warning titled, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the US" and did NOTHING, leaving on vacation?

Go read this: Think Progress : Clinton Takes On Fox News,

CLINTON: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try and they didn’t…I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke… So you did FOX’s bidding on this show. You did you nice little conservative hit job on me. But what I want to know..

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September 21, 2006

CGI - Al Gore and Building A Sustainable Future

Before the luncheon plenary, President Clinton announced several commitments, including the bite-sized chunk of a program to vaccinate 10,000 Honduran children eagainst hepatitis-A, costing $1 million.

Peter Goldmark, Program Director, Environmental Defense moderate a panel of
Al Gore
John Chambers, President and CEO, Cisco Systems
Klaus Kleinfeld, President and CEO of Siemens
Dr, Muhammad Yunus, Founder and Managing Director, Grameen Bank

Al Gore was asked about what would be involved in getting the US and China on a path to sustainability.

The US is still the one nation best able to lead the world. We face a full-scale planetary emergency. The US should be the pace car, out in front, leading. Other countries, particularly China, need to see leadership from us to push them into increased ation. To get China on the right road we need to get the US on the right road. The debate over global warming is over. The debate now is how we can best craft emergency solutions to solve the crisis.

Mohammed Yumas was asked about micro-credit. He gave an example of a project with the beggars in Bangladesh. His bank gives loans to beggars, to help bring them out of begging. The loan is used to purchase merchandise to sell as they go house to house. “They’re going from house to house anyway.” Now as a result of this program more than 80,000 beggars are in business for themselves. The cost to set each up in business was a $12 loan.

Klaus Kleinfeld talked about Siemens finding ways to sequester CO2 produced when burning coal, and developing much more efficient turbines.

John Chambers talked about setting up network schools around the world, training people in skills setting up and maintaining networks.

Gore then talked about how it is government that sets the rules within which business competes. He talked about the need to change the tax structure to encourage businesses to solve the problems of pollution, particularly global warming. He proposes a revenue-neutral shift away from payroll taxes – taxing work – to taxing pollution. He says business will follow that and find ways to reduce pollution.

Kleinfeld said that tax incentives should also be part of the plan to help kick-start new approaches and technologies, and then the incentive reduced and eliminated so the business model becomes sustainable rather than dependent.

Chambers talked about how Cicsco didn’t even know what their CO2 output was so they conducted an audit –measured the CO2 footprint – that allowed them to see where to reduce.

Gore made an important point that business leaders need to start policing their colleagues to stop those putting out irresponsible misleading PR. He specifically mentioned Exxon, which is spending a lot of money putting out PR and funding organizations saying that there is no global warming, etc. and that this is polluting the public discussion of this issue.

He said we need to reawaken the conversation of democracy, with integrity, start having honest conversations, and stop having taboo topics and marginalization tactics.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

CGI - Richard Branson and Virgin Transportation Group To Dedicate ALL Future Proceeds Toward Global Warming

At a press conference today with Former President Bill Clinton Richard Branson today committed to dedicating ALL future proceeds from Virgin's transportation companies - airlines, trains, etc. - to bio-fuel initiatives aimed at reducing the use of fossil fuels and fighting global warming. He estimates this will bring approx. $3 billion dollars to the global warming fight. The company is working to develop jet fuels that are environmentally friendly, enzymes to break down prairie grasses into ethanol, and other efforts.

Pres. Clinton called this "serious money."

BC_RB.jpg
Former President Clinton and Richard Branson

Mr. Branson said this is because of his admiration for the work of President Clinton and his Clinton Global Initiative process. He said that Al Gore came to his house to ask him to take a leading role in the global warming fight, which led to this announcement.

BC.jpg

Former President Clinton

"We just don't have any time left," said President Clinton. We are running out of oil, and climate change is beginning to threaten civilization. "It is a serious problem likely to produce calamitous results."

Mr. Branson said the shortages are showing up now, that his company's costs for jet fuel is up over a billion dollars in the last three years.

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

CGI - Morning Plenary - Managing Diversity

This morning Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek moderates a panel of:

  • Rania Al-Abdullah, Queen of the Royal Hashemite Kindgon of Jordan
  • Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
  • Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus

    Bishop Tutu talked about how South Africa managed the transition to representative government. He said that the African culture understands that anger, resentment and the desire for revenge are corrosive, so the people were able to proceed without retribution.

    President Karzai, asked about transition in a multicultural society, said they conducted a number of discussions with different elements of the country - tribal leaders, etc., to decide how to set up the country, what language to use, etc. In the current national anthem they mention 14 ethnic groups of the country. ("The poet was great, he shortened it a bit.") Q: What about the Taliban, who have roots in Afghan society? A: I am being tolerant. Those Taliban who are Afghans who are not associated with al Queda and not part of terrorism are part of the Afghan people. Other than those who have or are committing crimes, we want to have them back.

    Queen Rania is concerned with just how much the roots of division between the East and West has deepened. These had existed on the fringes, but they are being pulled into the center by two forces. The first is the lack of knowledge we have of one another. The west does not see Arab diversity. The challenge for the 21st century is finding ways for us to understand each other, which she finds baffling in this day and age. Living in the same neighborhood is not multiculturalism, youhave to invite people into your own home. An ideology of hatred is turning into a culture of fear. Grievances that have not been dealt with turn into hatred. The Palestinean problem MUST be dealt with. This is the issue that is at the core of our region and in the heart of every Arab. This is fueling the extremism. It is critical for us to try to find a solution to this problem. (Note - as far as I know, every speaker from the region has said that this is the core problem that MUST be solved before other problems, including Iraq, can be addressed.)

    The Queen says we must not keep ruling out diplomatic solutions and relying on military options.

    Regarding Lebanon, over the course of two months the Arab public became much more radicalized. The moderate majority has shrunk and extreme voices are taking over. The voices of moderation and negotiation are being marginalized. People are not seeing the dividends of peace.

    President Karzai says it is a policy of others to turn Afghanistan into an extremist society, and take away its traditions of diversity. Hesays the current violence seems more political, to try to subvert, and turn demoralize people, not from extremist ideology. Calculated to try to subvert the movement to democratic society.

    Bishop Tutu, asked about the Pope's speech, said there is no faith that he knows of that advocates violence and hate. If you use a knife to cut bread it is good, if you use it to cut someone it is bad. He says it is bad to slide into talking about "Muslim terrorism." He hasn't heard the guy who bombed Oklahoma or those fighting in Northern Ireland as examples of Christian terrorism. Most Christians would be appalled if you said that is a characteristic of Christianity - it is a perversion. He hopes that we get to learn that we can survive only together, be free only together, be safe and secure only together. God created us different not so that we should be alienated from one another but so that we can know one another. The totally self-sufficient is sub-human.

    Regarding the Pope's remarks, Queen Rania said the timing was unfortunate. Not only the content enraged, but the reactions would not have been so violent if it had taken place at a diferent time in history. Hilights the need for more inter-religious and intercultural dialog between us. We have more in common than we have that separates us. The fact that he would choose to focus on the 1% difference rather than the 99% that binds us was unfortunate. We need a tolerance movement that makes acceptance part of our daily lives. The next phases of needed government and private sector reforms is to have a multicultural responsibility.

    President Karzai, asked about American troops in Afghanistan, started by saying there is a serious misunderstanding of Islam in the West. It was the same people who blew up the towers in New York were making Afghanistan suffer, killing people, and Karzai and others were begging the West to come help, or it would eventually reach them. No attention was paid because those in the West were not hurt, and that was wrong. (Note - this echoes what President Musharraf said about lack of assistance for Pakistan - "high and dry" - following the USSR laving Afghanistan.) Do not take the voice of the bad as the voice of the people. We forget the epole because they do not have an organization that is their voice, we must stop takig the voices of kilers as the voice of Islam.

    Bishop Tutu - you and I are frequently appalled by the amount of evil around in the world, but it makes us blind to all the good. But this conference and the incredible generosity exhibited here is part of saying this is a moral universe. This is a universe in which right and wrong matter and good will prevail. You and I are people who are made for goodness. This is why the people we admire are not the macho, the aggressive. The world reveres Ghandi, Martin Luthor King, Jr., the Dali Lama. It is because we are made for goodness, embracing one another, and that is what is going to prevail.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 20, 2006

    CGI - Urgent Issues and Innovative Solutions Panel

    Immediately following the Opening Plenary Thomas Friedman hosted a panel discussion on Urgent Issues and Innovative Solutions Panel. The attendees were

  • Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President, Republic of Liberia
  • Pervez Musharraf, President, Islamic Republic of Pakistan
  • Javier Solana, Secretary General, Council of the European Union
  • Alvaro Uribe Velez, President, Republic of Columbia

    Friedman said they would follow UN rules, and proceed in alphabetical orer. The president of Columbia began by talking about how his country is working to restore security. When he took office there were 70 homicides per 100K population and now it is still far too high at 39. His government is working to make Columbia a modern democracy. Security and social cohesion go hand-in-hand in that effort, as well as providing access to institutions for the poorest people.

    Illicit crops have destroyed vast portions of the rainforest jungle, but now through a UN-financed program they are paying farmers to grow legitimate crops and to restore jungle. So far 43,000 families are participating, and he is working to expand this. Paying is cheaper than crime and terrorism.

    Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia talked about rebuilding the country from war, addressing the needs to kids who were forced into combat, and the need for people to work in villages identifying and helping solve what the villagers feel are their primary problems, so that the villagers have a stake in ongoing efforts. Her short point - they need "tools and seeds" to help farmers move from substistence to surplus so they can begin to have an income. She sounds very much like an investment banker, saying her country needs skills-training so they can attract investment capital.

    Pervez Musharraf was asked about the issue of modernity and Islam. He said his government is working to transmit economic gains to the people of Pakistan - including clean drinking water. He said the remarks of the Pope have caused tension at this critical moment and were most unwarranted. He tried to correct misperceptions ("misperceptions" was a word he used a lot both about Pakistan and Islam) that Pakistan is aligned against the West. Until 1979 Pakistan was moderate and peaceful. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has led to fallout. They took in 4 million refugees and were left "high and dry" with no assistance after 1989. The Mujahadin was strengthened and financed by the West, but Pakistan was left with no assistance whatsoever while they coalesced into al Queda. Then came the Taliban, then war. Simultaneously there were the tensions with Kashmir in their East. So they suffered the fallout of militancy on their East and West with no assistance. Now we need to understand the environment. We cannot address terrorism alone without addressing extremism. Talibanization is a mindset that must be curbed. There is no military solution. (from a later question) An important distinction to make is that the Taliban is local, al Queda was not local people. al Queda is being wiped out but the Taliban is rising due to resentment of the presence of foreign troops. Asked directly: "So we (the US) are part of the problem and part of the solution?" Answer: "Part of the problem."

    Javier Solana talked about how providing security is fundamental to development. Without security there is no development and without development there is suffering. Responding to a later question about Islam and the West, he said that the divide is profound. The world cannot abide provoking just for the sake of provoking.

    Musharraf then said this is a time to build bridges not burn bridges. At this time blasphemous cartoons are like salt in the wounds, when Muslims believe they are being targeted. There is a fringe of the Muslim world that believes that modernization = Westernization.

    Finally he said that the number one problem - the core of it all, is the Palestinian problem. No other problem will be solved until that is solved. He wishes that President Clinton would come back to diplomacy.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    CGI - Opening Plenary

    The conference opened with former President Clinton welcoming the more than 50 current and former heads of state who are attending. He gave a short talk explaining that the idea of the conference is an attempt to tackle big global challenges in bite-sized pieces, and asked the attendees for promises to take action. He pointed out that some projects with smaller budgets can have a very large impact, and that beyond just money pledges of time and talent can have an impact, too.

    President Clinton then introduced First Lady Laura Bush, who spoke about global education and literacy - and had a big announcement.

    Mrs. Bush talked about the goals shared by people in every country - the desire to have a better life for them and their families. Poverty, lack of education, endemic diseases have kept people from achieving their desires. She outlined different programs the US government is engaged in, including schools and teacher training for women in Afghanistan, malaria programs, and AIDs relief in 120 countries.

    Then she announced a new public-private alliance to address the problem of lack of clean drinking water in Africa and other regions called Play Pumps. These are children's merry-go-rounds that are also pumps, pumping water out of wells, "fueled by a limitless energy source." Children playing brings up clean water. This program is funded in an alliance with Steve Case's Case Foundation and Ray Chambers' MCJ Foundation.

    Immediately following these opening proceedings there was a panel on Urgent Issues and Innovative Solutions.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    CGI - Morning Press Overview

    The Press Overview session was conducted by Jay Carson, Clinton Foundation Spokesman

    This is the second Clinton Global Initiative conference. This conference comes out of President Clinton attending many conferences of world political and business, and coming back year after year to find everyone talking about the same things. Also, that he felt there was too much “speechifying.” So he set up this conference, at the same time as the UN gathering, around the idea of few long speeches, and working sessions where leaders have discussions on solving problems.

    Attendees are required to make and meet a commitment, or they are not invited back. “A number of people”(less than 20) from last year, for example, were not invited back. Some of the commitments are very large dollar amounts – last year produced $2.5 billion in commitments toward solutions to the problems discussed.

    There are four working areas for this conference, with discussion “tracks” of working groups:

  • Energy and Climate Change
  • Global Health
  • Poverty Alleviation
  • Mitigating Religious and Ethnic Conflict

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 12, 2006

    Bill Clinton Reads Blogs!

    I just came out of a 2 hour meeting with Bill Clinton, with a group of bloggers. I'll have more later, and hopefully some pics.

    Bill Clinton reads blogs.

    Update - More here where I am second from the left in the group picture. Also here, with lots of pics. Here is a description.

    Update - this just in:

    mcjoan writes here and Bill Sher sent a pic:

    DJandBCsm.jpg

    Barbara from Mahablog writes.

    More on the meeting at FDL, Feministing,

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:02 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 5, 2006

    Republicans Gave Lieberman Millions

    This story comes from the Moonies, who would know a little something about secretly funneling millions of dollars into campaigns. GOP secretly channeled millions to Lieberman,

    The White House funneled millions of dollars through major Republican Party contributors to Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s primary campaign in a failed effort to ensure the support of the former Democrat for the Bush administration.

    A senior GOP source said the money was part of Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove's strategy to maintain a Republican majority in the Senate in November. The source said Mr. Rove, together with Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, directed leading pro-Bush contributors to donate millions of dollars to Mr. Lieberman's campaign for re-election in Connecticut in an attempt that he would be a "Republican-leaning" senator.

    ... The source said that under Mr. Rove's plan, Mr. Lieberman would vote with the GOP on national security issues and help provide the party with a 50-50 split on major legislation. The deciding vote would then be cast by Vice President Dick Cheney.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:00 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 2, 2006

    Sistani Withdrawing - This Is Bad

    Telegraph | News | I no longer have power to save Iraq from civil war, warns Shia leader,

    The most influential moderate Shia leader in Iraq has abandoned attempts to restrain his followers, admitting that there is nothing he can do to prevent the country sliding towards civil war.

    Aides say Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is angry and disappointed that Shias are ignoring his calls for calm and are switching their allegiance in their thousands to more militant groups which promise protection from Sunni violence and revenge for attacks.

    "I will not be a political leader any more," he told aides. "I am only happy to receive questions about religious matters."

    It is a devastating blow to the remaining hopes for a peaceful solution in Iraq and spells trouble for British forces, who are based in and around the Shia stronghold of Basra.

    I no longer have power to save Iraq from civil war, warns Shia leader

    Juan Cole writes,

    I take it he is saying that it is his perception that he is no longer in a position to play that pivotal role because Iraq's Shiites have been turning to leaders such as Muqtada al-Sadr. (Since al-Sadr is sort of an all-but-dissertation Ph.D. student and Sistani is the most eminent professor in the system, this desertion of the old man for the younger one in the street is a real slap in the face to the Najaf establishment.)
    From Kuwait, Sistani calls for barring non-governmental troops from carrying arms,
    Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki said Saturday after meeting the top spiritual guide of Shiite Iraqis Sayyed Ali Al-Sistani that the top scholar called for barring non-governmental troops from carrying or keeping weapons.

    "Al-Sistani called for unifying the nation and restricting arms to government troops," the senior official said at a news conference held in the holy city of Najaf.

    "The national reconciliation plan is a governmental plan which was agreed upon by all political forces," pointed out Al-Maliki, and added that the current government is the only authority responsible for seeking the welfare of this country.

    If only it can happen...

    Update Sunday - More at Gorilla's Guides.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 29, 2006

    Will Bush Justice Dept. Investigate ANY Incidence Of Corruption?

    No.

    The summary of the ... inspector general’s report said the United States attorney’s office in Washington had been given the report and decided not to conduct a criminal inquiry into the matter.

    Details:

    • ... improperly hired a friend on the public payroll for nearly $250,000...
    • ... used his government office for personal business, including running a “horse racing operation” in which he supervised a stable of thoroughbreds he named after leaders from Afghanistan, including President Hamid Karzai and the late Ahmed Shah Massoud...
    • ... repeatedly used government employees to do his personal errands and that he billed the government for more days of work than the rules permit...
    • ... hiring of phantom or unqualified employees...
    • ... violated rules meant to insulate public television and radio from political influence...
    OK, so the Bush Justice Dept. WON'T investigate that. What WILL happen to the guy?
    His renomination by President Bush to another term ... is pending before the Senate. ... Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said President Bush continues to support Mr. Tomlinson’s renomination.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 24, 2006

    Cable Company CEO Arrested For Allowing Viewers To See al Manar

    The Raw Story | FBI: Brooklyn HDTV company provided users with 'Hezbollah TV'

    Javed Iqbal, a.k.a. "John Iqbal," 42, of Staten Island, N.Y., has been arrested and charged with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), RAW STORY has learned.

    A complaint announced today by the FBI alleges that through a company called HDTV Ltd. located in Brooklyn, Iqbal and others provided customers in the New York area with satellite broadcasts of al Manar, which is a television station owned and/or operated by Hezbollah.

    Washington Post has it today.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 11, 2006

    Bush Tried To STOP Bomb Detection Plans!

    Bush staff wanted bomb-detect cash moved,

    While the British terror suspects were hatching their plot, the Bush administration was quietly seeking permission to divert $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new homeland explosives detection technology.

    Congressional leaders rejected the idea, the latest in a series of steps by the Homeland Security Department that has left lawmakers and some of the department's own experts questioning the commitment to create better anti-terror technologies.

    [ . .] The administration also was slow to start testing a new liquid explosives detector that the Japanese government provided to the United States earlier this year.

    The British plot to blow up as many as 10 American airlines on trans-Atlantic flights was to involve liquid explosives.

    By the way, are they still also blocking funding for checking cargo containers at ports?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 25, 2006

    Fascinating Middle East News Coverage

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

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

    From LinkTV:

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

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

    Daily episodes of Mosaic are available at no cost online.

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

    There's also a new Mosaic blog.

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

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

    July 19, 2006

    Credentials To Analyze Iraq

    tristero nails it.

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

    Suggest others in the comments.

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

    July 15, 2006

    Republicans and Guns

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

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

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

    Private School No Better - Some Worse

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

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

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

    And how does the reality affect Bush ideological government?

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

    From the story,

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

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

    July 11, 2006

    Train Bombing In India

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

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

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

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

    June 10, 2006

    Senator Reid: "Prove It"

    At YearlyKos tonite Senator Harry Reid announced that he will introduce legislation demanding that Bush release any intelligence IN WRITING to back up any claims he makes about Iranian (with an 'n' this time) nuclear weapons programs.

    Natasha at Pacific Views has more.


    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 14, 2006

    Leonard Salle, R.I.P.

    Update - I will post Leonard's official obituary tomorrow, along with this story from the newspaper. It will also appear at the Commonweal Institute tomorrow.

    Think tank co-founder loved ideas,

    Leonard M. Salle, a retired civil engineer and co-founder and president of Commonweal Institute, died May 5 at Stanford Hospital of complications from coronary bypass surgery. Mr. Salle was 69.

    Commonweal, a coalition of think tanks involved in idea-marketing, was conceived in the wake of the 2000 presidential election, said his wife, Dr. Katherine "Kate'' Forrest -- the same year Mr. Salle retired from Santa Clara County's Environmental Services Agency.

    She and Mr. Salle outlined what the group would look like during a flight to Washington, D.C., Forrest said. And they also considered dozens of names, including Horizon Institute.

    But the couple went with Commonweal. And it turned out to be a fortunate choice, Forrest said. "A month before Sept. 11, we found out Horizon Institute was the name of a Saudi Arabian flight training school!''

    Commonweal hired its first executive director, Laurie Spivak, a year ago. And in March, more than 50 program leaders from various progressive organizations convened for Commonweal's first First Progressive Roundtable in San Francisco.

    Leonard M. Salle was born May 15, 1936, in Detroit. He graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in civil engineering and by the time he moved to San Mateo in 1960, Mr. Salle was married to Suzanne, whom he later divorced, and had fathered the first of the couple's two sons.

    When Mr. Salle and Forrest met at a Stanford Singles event in 1988, their "minds clicked,'' she said. "We found we could talk about anything and that no subject was out of bounds.''

    The couple married a year later, continued on in their professions and eventually went to work on a major remodel that made his Portola Valley home theirs -- and also, a place where non-profit groups could host community events.

    "Len was so bright and generous with his time, a visionary who cared about people and making the world better,'' Forrest said. "And he was a gifted classical pianist.''

    Mr. Salle held a number of high-level management and executive positions in civil engineering firms and was a big public advocate for safety, environmental and preservation issues.

    He was president of the Santa Clara County Engineers and Architects Association. And almost single-handedly, Mr. Salle pulled together 14 other unions to form the County Employee Labor Alliance, said David Novogrodsky, a union colleague.

    "Leonard Salle was clearly a competent engineer,'' Novogrodsky said. An "old-fashioned intellectual'' on a number of topics -- from unions and public works to economics and politics, he said. "And none of his ideas were horseback opinions.''

    When Mr. Salle retired six years ago, Novogrodsky said: "It was obvious Leonard wasn't going fishing.''

    LEONARD MYRON SALLE

    Born: May 15, 1936, in Detroit, Mich.

    Died: May 5, 2006, in Palo Alto.

    Survived by: His wife, Dr. Katherine Forrest of Portola Valley; sons, William Salle of Agoura Hills and Stephen Salle of Sacramento; stepsons Eric Finseth of McLean, Va., and Ian Finseth of Denton, Texas; a brother, Donald Salle of San Mateo; sister-in-law Adele Salle, wife of his deceased brother, Richard Salle, of Saratoga; and six grandchildren.

    Services: Memorial 2 to 6 p.m. May 27 in Taube Center at Notre Dame de Namur University, 1500 Ralston Road, Belmont.

    Memorial: Memorial contributions in Mr. Salle's name can be sent to the Leonard M. Salle Memorial Education Fund at Commonweal Institute, 325 Sharon Park Drive, Suite 332, Menlo Park, Calif. 94025. For more information, see www.commonwealinstitute.org.

    I will write more about Leonard at a later date. I miss him.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 10, 2006

    Insurance Election Scandal Brewing In California

    I have been hearing about a scandal brewing over insurance regulation in California. Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, who is now a candidate for Lt. Governor has called in the California Attorney General and the FBI to investigate a blackmail and extortion charge. See Garamendi says insurers trying to coerce him on auto regulations; asks FBI, state to investigate

    State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi accused automobile insurers of "coercion, extortion and blackmail" for launching a $2.4 million campaign attacking his proposed regulations that would cut the cost of some drivers' coverage in crowded urban areas. He asked the FBI, the U.S. Attorney and state Attorney General Bill Lockyer to investigate his allegations.

    Garamendi, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in the June 6 primary, said he was told that if he backed off pushing the regulation, he would be spared an attack by insurers as Election Day neared.

    This one has a video clip: Auto Insurers Accused Of Blackmailing Commissioner
    The state insurance commissioner says he’s facing threats of blackmail to keep auto insurance rates higher.

    John Garamendi came out blasting Monday, accusing California's largest auto insurers of using political extortion to get him to delay implementing laws that would save California motorists money.


    Background and details:

    I received this e-mail today:

    Insurance industry blackmail!

    By 1998 California voters were fed up with abuses by the insurance industry. These included such things as high prices and arbitrary cancellations. One particularly onerous abuse was "territorial rating," the practice of setting your auto insurance rates based on where you live, rather than your driving record. In that year California voted to end such abuses by passing Proposition 103, which read in part:

    1861.02 (a) Rates and premiums for an automobile insurance policy, as described in subdivision (a) of Section 660, shall be determined by application of the following factors in decreasing order of importance:
    (1) The insured's driving safety record.
    (2) The number of miles he or she drives annually.
    (3) The number of years of driving experience the insured has had.
    (4) Such other factors as the commissioner may adopt by regulation that have a substantial relationship to the risk of loss. The regulations shall set forth the respective weight to be given each factor in determining automobile rates and premiums. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the use of any criterion without such approval shall constitute unfair discrimination.

    Unfortunately, a California Court of Appeals in 2000 ruling made these provisions unenforceable. However, Proposition 103 also made Insurance Commissioner an elective office, an office now held by John Garamendi. Mr. Garamendi has promulgated regulations that banned territorial ratings, very much consistent with the wishes of California voters and much to the chagrin of the insurance industry.

    A group of insurance companies -- Allstate, Farmers, Safeco, 21st Century, and State Farm -- is attempting to blackmail John Garamendi, who is now a candidate for Lt. Governor of California. These companies have raised $2.4 million to run a TV ad campaign against Mr. Garamendi asking viewers to "tell Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi to drop this unfair plan now." An industry representative contacted him through an intermediary and offered to drop the ad campaign if Mr. Garamendi would withdraw those regulations.

    The insurance companies claim that they were merely informing Mr. Garamendi of their campaign out of "courtesy." Right.

    John Garamendi refuses to be intimidated. He will enforce those regulations. He has filed formal requests for investigations of this group by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the state Attorney General. He will continue to work for the rights of California consumers as Insurance Commissioner and as Lt. Governor.


    There is information at Consumer Watchdog,
    Insurers to Spend Millions Against Garamendi for Lowering Premiums
    Auto insurance companies are planning a $2.4 million campaign to attack California Insurance Commissioner Garamendi because he has proposed rules to lower premiums for California good drivers.
    And a press release
    Group Calls on Commissioner Candidates To Stand Behind Garamendi Insurance Regulations To Protect Integrity of Office
    Voters' Trust Is At Stake After Attempt to Extort Garamendi

    SANTA MONICA, CA -- The two principal candidates for Insurance Commissioner should immediately assure voters that they support the "good driver" regulations that the insurance industry apparently believes the candidates will revoke if elected, supporters of Proposition 103 said today in a letter to the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees.

    The letter from the non-profit, non-partisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) and Proposition 103 author Harvey Rosenfield comes two days after Insurance Commissioner Garamendi disclosed that insurers had tried to blackmail him in an attempt to delay the implementation of a key Proposition 103 reform until a new commissioner is elected. Last December, Commissioner Garamendi proposed rules to comply with Proposition 103's requirement that auto insurance premiums be based primarily on a motorist¿s driving record rather than their ZIP Code.

    Commissioner Garamendi revealed Monday that a political operative had relayed a message from insurers to back off from regulations that would emphasize a drivers' safety record rather than ZIP code in pricing auto insurance, or face a $2.4 million negative ad campaign against him. The ads, reportedly launched this week after Garamendi¿s refusal to comply with the demand, are widely seen as an attempt to undermine his campaign for the post of lieutenant governor. [emphasis added]

    Go there to read the rest.

    Take a look at the PR firm in Sacramento spinning the attack.....Bicker, Castillo & Fairbanks

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 5, 2006

    Big Hookergate News - CIA Director Goss Resigns

    Update - Through Atrios, comes this,

    From a reader: "Dana Priest is on MSNBC right now saying we'll have to wait for tomorrow's paper to find out why he resigned. The Post must have called him for comment on a story running tomorrow about his involvement with Brent Wilkes."

    I don't know if you have been following the story about the corrupt defense contractor providing hookers for Republican members of Congress who were providing him with huge defense contracts. See Sex, Lies, and Government Contracts, Hookergate: Everybody Wants a Piece of the Action, Who Will Be the Woodward and Bernstein of New 'Hookergate' Story?, Watergate Subpoenaed in Hooker Probe and Hookergate being buried by press for more on that.

    Well one of those Members of Congress later became CIA director. And just 2 weeks after the news about the hookers... CIA Director Porter Goss Resigns

    More later....

    MSNBC

    Talking Points Memo

    Atrios

    Left Coaster: Party On, Porter - Don't Let The Door Hit You In The Ass

    Think Progress goes into the background of Goss' connections with the Duke Cunningham scandal.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:06 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    March 31, 2006

    Republican Calls Democratic Representative "Ghetto Slut"

    More blatant (but typical) Republican racism. Media Matters - Boortz: Rep. McKinney "looks like a ghetto slut"

    On the March 31 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Neal Boortz said that Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) "looks like a ghetto slut."

    ... Boortz said that McKinney's "new hair-do" makes her look "like a ghetto slut," like "an explosion at a Brillo pad factory," like "Tina Turner peeing on an electric fence," and like "a shih tzu." McKinney is the first African-American woman elected to Congress from Georgia.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:07 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    March 30, 2006

    Pelosi Demands Ethics Investigations!!

    Turn on C-SPAN now. Nancy Pelosi has introduced a "Privileged Resolution" requiring an ethics investigation of Members of Congress bribed by Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and the House is going nuts!

    Update - Later - here is the resolution that Pelosi introduced. Demcorats voted FOR it, Republicans voted AGAINST it. No more of this "they're all the same" stuff, please.

    Privileged Resolution Requiring Ethics Investigation of Members of Congress Bribed by Republican Lobbyist Jack Abramoff

    WHEREAS, it has been two years since credible reports of misconduct by Mr. Jack Abramoff and Members of Congress began appearing regularly in the public record, including reports closely linking Republican Members of Congress with the documented misconduct of Mr. Abramoff;

    WHEREAS, in the first session of the 109th Congress, for the first time in the history of the House of Representatives, the rules of procedure of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct were changed on a partisan basis, the Chairman of the Committee and two of his Republican Colleagues were dismissed from the Committee, the newly appointed Chairman of the Committee improperly and unilaterally fired non-partisan staff, and the Chairman attempted to appoint supervisory staff without a vote of the Committee in direct contravention of the intent of the bi-partisan procedures adopted in 1997;

    WHEREAS, because of these actions, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct conducted no investigative activities in the first session of the 109th Congress and has not yet conducted such activities;

    WHEREAS, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the Senate Committee on Finance have both undertaken investigations of Mr. Jack Abramoff’s activities, yet no House Committee has begun any such investigation;

    WHEREAS, on March 29th, 2006, Mr. Jack Abramoff was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud;

    WHEREAS, a Justice Department press release reported that Mr. Jack Abramoff “corruptly provid[ed] things of value to public officials … including, but not limited to, a lavish trip to Scotland to play golf on world-famous courses, tickets to sporting events and other entertainment, regular meals at Abramoff’s upscale restaurant, and campaign contributions for [a] Representative, his political action committee, his campaign committee, and other political committees on behalf of [that] Representative.” (Department of Justice press release, January 3, 2006);

    WHEREAS, Mr. Jack Abramoff’s plea agreement states that he and his colleagues “provided things of value to public officials in exchange for a series of official acts and influence…including agreements to support and pass legislation (and) agreements to place statements in the Congressional Record.” (Abramoff Plea Agreement);

    WHEREAS, on November 5, 2005, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, a former Congressional staff member and business partner of Mr. Jack Abramoff pled guilty to conspiracy to violate federal laws and admitted that, beginning in January, 2000, he offered and provided things of value to public officials, including Members of Congress and staff, in exchange for a series of official acts;

    RESOLVED, That the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct shall immediately initiate an investigation of the misconduct by Members of Congress and their staff implicated in the scandals associated with Mr. Jack Abramoff’s criminal activity.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:58 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    March 26, 2006

    Abramoff Probe Widens To Murder

    Abramoff Probe Widens to Murder at Truthout.

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

    Russian President Putin - Plagiarist Or Victim Of Right-Wing Smear?

    When Bush first met Russian President Putin, Bush declared that he had "looked into his soul" and a bunch of hogwash like that. Maybe that should have been a tip-off: Researchers peg Putin as a plagiarist over thesis,

    Large chunks of Mr. Putin's mid-1990s economics dissertation on planning in the natural resources sector were lifted straight out of a management text published by two University of Pittsburgh academics nearly 20 years earlier, Washington researchers insisted yesterday.
    Six diagrams and tables from the 218-page dissertation mimic in form and content similar charts in the Russian translation of the Americans' work as well, according to Brookings Institution senior fellow Clifford G. Gaddy.
    Warning, this story originated at the Washington Times, which is published by a Korean-based religious cult with shadowy connections to the Korean CIA and the Japanese mafia. So there are reasons to suspect this accusation (as anything from this source) might just be propaganda with an agenda behind it,

    In a semiautobiographical series of interviews published just after he was named president of Russia in 2000, Mr. Putin does not even mention the thesis, referring only to preliminary work he did on another dissertation on international law at the then-Leningrad State University in 1990 while still formally an employee of the KGB. It is not even clear when Mr. Putin wrote the thesis, formally titled "The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations," although it is known he returned from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 1997 to defend his work.

    [. . .] Although it may fall short of Western scholarly conventions, Mr. Putin's effort should be seen in a Russian, post-Soviet context, some scholars said.
    E. Wayne Merry, senior associate at the American Foreign Policy Council, said dubious academic credential building was common in Eastern Europe and especially the old East Germany, where Mr. Putin served as a KGB agent in the dying years of the Soviet Union.

    "It was really quite common for an up-and-coming apparatchik to get a ghostwritten work done to obtain a degree," he said. "It's probably an open question whether Putin even read his dissertation until shortly before he had to defend it."

    Grain of salt...

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    March 25, 2006

    Half-Million March in LA

    Pacific Views: No, this isn't an anti-war march.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    February 26, 2006

    Dept Homeland Security Objected to Ports Deal

    Homeland Security Objected to Ports Deal

    The Homeland Security Department objected at first to a United Arab Emirates company's taking over significant operations at six U.S. ports.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:44 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    February 16, 2006

    From Nancy Pelosi

    Fighting the Republican Culture of Corruption,

    I'm here to answer another question many of you asked: How are Democrats fighting?
    Go read - and recommend because it's a diary.

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

    February 9, 2006

    Fired For Saying "Peace"

    In Educators face blowback for protesting Iraq war in schools, Raw Story documents teachers around the country fired for opposing Bush's war.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 30, 2006

    Top 25 Censored Stories of 2006

    Project Censored

    Censored 2006, from Seven Stories Press, features the 25 most important news stories not covered by the corporate media in 2004-05. Government Secrecy, Media Failures in Iraq, National Voter Fraud, Citizen Surveillance, and Environmental disasters are just some of this year's topics.

    Censored 2006 is dedicated to Gary Webb, the late investigative reporter who exposed the depths of the CIA/Contra drug dealings in the 1990s and lost his job over the story. "We will miss Gary a lot," commented Project Censored Coordinator Trish Boreta. "We are including Gary's original introduction to our Censored 1999 book to honor his passing this year," said Boreta.

    Top 25 Censored Stories of 2006

    #1 Bush Administration Moves to Eliminate Open Government

    #2 Media Coverage Fails on Iraq: Fallujah and the Civilian Death

    #3 Another Year of Distorted Election Coverage

    #4 Surveillance Society Quietly Moves In

    #5 U.S. Uses Tsunami to Military Advantage in Southeast Asia

    #6 The Real Oil for Food Scam

    #7 Journalists Face Unprecedented Dangers to Life and Livelihood

    #8 Iraqi Farmers Threatened By Bremer’s Mandates

    #9 Iran’s New Oil Trade System Challenges U.S. Currency

    #10 Mountaintop Removal Threatens Ecosystem and Economy

    #11 Universal Mental Screening Program Usurps Parental Rights

    #12 Military in Iraq Contracts Human Rights Violators

    #13 Rich Countries Fail to Live up to Global Pledges

    #14 Corporations Win Big on Tort Reform, Justice Suffers

    #15 Conservative Plan to Override Academic Freedom in the Classroom

    #16 U.S. Plans for Hemispheric Integration Include Canada

    #17 U.S. Uses South American Military Bases to Expand Control of the Region

    #18 Little Known Stock Fraud Could Weaken U.S. Economy

    #19 Child Wards of the State Used in AIDS Experiments

    #20 American Indians Sue for Resources; Compensation Provided to Others

    #21 New Immigration Plan Favors Business Over People

    #22 Nanotechnology Offers Exciting Possibilities But Health Effects Need Scrutiny

    #23 Plight of Palestinian Child Detainees Highlights Global Problem

    #24 Ethiopian Indigenous Victims of Corporate and Government Resource Aspirations

    #25 Homeland Security Was Designed to Fail

    Go to the site to click for details on each.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 26, 2006

    Sen. Kennedy Supports Filibuster

    Ted Kennedy | Kennedy on His Decision To Support the Filibuster of Alito,

    “Other than voting to send our men and women to war, there is no more important vote in the Senate than our vote on a Supreme Court nominee. This is a vote of a generation and a test of conscience. Judge Alito does not share the values of equality and justice that make this country strong. He does not deserve a place on the highest court of the land.

    We owe it to future generations of Americans to oppose this nomination. If Judge Alito is confirmed, he will serve on the court long after President Bush leaves office, and the progress of half a century on the basic rights of all Americans is likely to be rolled back. He’s the wrong justice for justice and the rule of law in America.”

    Go leave a coment at Kennedy's blog.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:51 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 14, 2006

    A Good Day To Visit Salon

    If you haven’t visited Salon recently, this would be a good day to get a day pass by watching a 30 second commercial. Stop by The War Room and then read a few of the articles in The Opinion Section:

    California's environmental bad boy: Republican Rick Pombo wants to drill, mine and develop America down to the last acre. But will close ties to Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff pollute his reelection chances? By Amanda Griscom Little [2006-01-10]

    Let us prey: Jack Abramoff and his deeply religious right-wing cronies express their "biblical worldview" by swindling Indian tribes and bribing legislators. Verily, mysterious are the ways of the Lord. By Joe Conason [2006-01-06]

    Bush's war on professionals: The president is determined to stop whistle-blowers and the press from halting his administration's illegal, ever-expanding secret government. But it may be too late. By Sidney Blumenthal [2006-01-05]

    King George: It is slowly becoming clear that the Bush administration's real goal is not winning the right to torture, or to spy on Americans, or to lock people up without recourse. It is absolute power. By Tom Engelhardt [2006-01-05]

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 7:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    January 2, 2006

    Breaking - Raw Story Ends Popup Ads!

    The Raw Story | Our New Year's resolution:
    An end to popunders
    ,

    In a decision sure to please everyone, Raw Story has decided to eliminate popup and popunder advertising from all areas of the site.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Get The Word Out - Bush Sneaking Vouchers In!!!

    The Left Coaster: Another Surprise in the Defense Bill.

    Go read, and spread the word - Bush is sneaking VOUCHERS FOR RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS in the back door!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 20, 2005

    BIG Story - FISA Judge Resigns In Protest Of Bush Spying

    From Daily Kos, Spy Court Judge Quits In Protest
    Jurist Concerned Bush Order Tainted Work of Secret Panel
    ,

    A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.

    U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John D. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.

    Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work.

    ... Word of Robertson's resignation came as two Senate Republicans yesterday joined the call for congressional investigations into the National Security Agency's warrantless interception of telephone calls and e-mails to overseas locations by U.S. citizens suspected of links to terrorist groups. They questioned the legality of the operation and the extent to which the White House kept Congress informed.

    Things might be starting to happen.

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

    Censure Bush

    AfterDowningStreet.org | CensureBush.org

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Follow-Up On Rape Case

    Earlier this month in Rape Victim Found Guilty I wrote about a girl that was convicted of filing a false rape charge. Yesterday the judge delayed sentencing.

    Judge defends conviction of woman,

    A municipal judge on Monday delayed sentencing a woman convicted of filing a false rape report until after her appeal is heard in Washington County Circuit Court.

    But Judge Peter Ackerman took the opportunity to defend his conviction of the woman and criticize media attention surrounding the case.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:07 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 17, 2005

    Breaking - Another Republican Bribery Scandal

    ONE MORE Republican Culture of Corruption bribery scandal, this time involving Senate Majority Leader Frist, and the wife of Senator Kit Bond. AP: Frist AIDS charity paid consultants

    Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's AIDS charity paid nearly a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of his political inner circle, according to tax returns providing the first financial accounting of the presidential hopeful's nonprofit.

    The returns for World of Hope Inc., obtained by The Associated Press, also show the charity raised the lion's share of its $4.4 million from just 18 sources. They gave between $97,950 and $267,735 each to help fund Frist's efforts to fight AIDS.

    The tax forms, filed nine months after they were first due, do not identify the 18 major donors by name.

    ... The donors included several corporations with frequent business before Congress, such as insurer Blue Cross/Blue Shield, manufacturer 3M, drug maker Eli Lilly and the Goldman Sachs investment firm.

    World of Hope gave $3 million it raised to charitable AIDS causes, such as Africare and evangelical Christian groups with ties to Republicans - Franklin Graham's Samaritan Purse and the Rev. Luis Cortes' Esperanza USA, for example.

    The rest of the money went to overhead. That included $456,125 in consulting fees to two firms run by Frist's longtime political fundraiser, Linus Catignani. One is jointly run by Linda Bond, the wife of Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo.

    ... Political experts said both the size of charity's big donations and its consulting fees raise questions about whether the tax-exempt group benefited Frist's political ambitions.

    "One of the things people who are running for president try to do is keep their fundraising staff and political people close at hand. And one of the ways you can do that is by putting them in some sort of organization you run," said Larry Noble, the government's former chief election lawyer who now runs the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics that studies fundraising.

    Kent Cooper, the Federal Election Commission's former public disclosure chief, said the big donors' motives are also suspect.

    "These tax deductible gifts were earmarked through Senator Frist," Cooper said. "They were raised in the political arena at the 2004 Republican Convention and the natural question is were they given to the Senate majority leader to gain favor or were they given for true charitable purposes?"

    Cooper said the consulting fees were "excessively high" and the fact that they were "paid to primarily political consultants also raises questions about the long-range strategic benefits for the 2008 presidential race." [emphasis added]

    So Sen. Bond's wife received a chunk of the $450,000 paid out for "fundraising" even though there were only 18 donors. Right. Repeat: "The donors included several corporations with frequent business before Congress, such as insurer Blue Cross/Blue Shield, manufacturer 3M, drug maker Eli Lilly and the Goldman Sachs investment firm."

    (Through Fired Up Missouri)

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

    December 13, 2005

    Big Storms Coming Together

    Remember that movie where two very large storms meet up and form one huge, extremely powerful storm? The title might be a bit overused, but look what is happening with the Tom DeLay and Duke Cunningham cases. Talking Points Memo points to this story, Prosecutor issues subpoenas in DeLay case,

    A Texas prosecutor has issued subpoenas for bank records and other information of a defense contractor involved in the bribery case of a California congressman as part of the investigation of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

    District Attorney Ronnie Earle issued subpoenas late Monday afternoon for California businessmen Brent Wilkes and Max Gelwix, records of Perfect Wave Technologies LLC, Wilkes Corp. and ADCS Inc. in connection with a contribution to a fundraising committee at the center of the investigation that led to DeLay's indictment on money laundering charges.

    Perfect Wave contributed $15,000 in September 20, 2002 to Texans for a Republican Majority, a fundraising committee founded by DeLay, R-Texas.

    Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigned in late November after pleading guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to companies.

    Just the other day, in Tax Dollars Sent Directly To The Party I pointed to a story about this guy Wilkes setting up front-companies, bribing Republicans, getting defense contracts, and pumping the money back into The Party So enjoy the ride.

    There's a third, much larger storm out there as well. All that's left is for the Abramoff investigation to merge into this as well. And it will.


    Update - Also this story today (Wednesday), Prosecutors in DeLay Case Look Into Ties With Lobbyist,

    The subpoenas sought documents from the lobbyist, Brent Wilkes, a California businessman whose lawyers have confirmed that he is one of four unnamed co-conspirators listed in the criminal charges against former Representative Randy Cunningham, the California Republican who pleaded guilty to taking at least $2.4 million in bribes.

    Mr. Wilkes was close to several Republican members of Congress, including Mr. Cunningham and Mr. DeLay, Republican of Texas, who traveled as Mr. Wilkes's guest in a private jet he partly owned. There is no accusation in the subpoenas of any other tie between Mr. DeLay and Mr. Cunningham, who is facing a long prison sentence.

    ... Mr. Wilkes is the owner of the Wilkes Corporation, an umbrella company that owns ADCS Inc. and PerfectWave Technologies, both of which received subpoenas. Mr. Wilkes also ran Group W Transportation, a company that owned fractional stakes in corporate jets and flew numerous members of Congress to events until it was closed. The company provided three flights to Mr. DeLay, who reimbursed the company, records show.

    ... Mr. DeLay's campaign and political action committees were among the top beneficiaries of Mr. Wilkes's extensive donations over the last decade. A report released this month by the Center for Responsive Politics found that entities associated with Mr. DeLay received $41,000 in contributions from the Wilkes Corporation PAC and from employees of Mr. Wilkes's companies.

    Another of Mr. Wilkes's companies, Group W Advisors, paid over $600,000 in lobbying fees to Alexander Strategies, a consulting firm that employed Mr. DeLay's wife, Christine, and several former DeLay staff members, according to The Associated Press and reports in The San Diego Union-Tribune.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Bush Admin. Threatens Canada

    Canada shrugs off U.S. warning to back off,

    The United States made an unprecedented foray into Canada's election campaign on Tuesday, warning politicians not to bash Washington in their bid to win the January 23 election.

    ... In a hard-hitting speech in Ottawa, U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins lamented what he called relentless and incessant criticism of his country, which he speculated might begin to sow doubt about the strength of the binational relationship.

    "Canada never has to tear the United States down to build itself up," Wilkins said.

    "It may be smart election politics to thump your chest and constantly criticize your friend and your No. 1 trading partner. But it's a slippery slope and all of us should hope it doesn't have a long-term impact on our relationship." [emphasis added]

    And the topic of the criticism that the Bush Administration didn't like?

    Wilkins did not name the prime minister directly, but he specifically targeted a comment made last week at the Montreal climate change conference in which Martin called on the United States to heed a "global conscience" and join efforts to combat global warming.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:05 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 4, 2005

    Rape Victim Found Guilty

    Update - The story is spreading as other blogs pick it up - see the updated bloglist at the end. Also see this at Shakespeare's Sister, hearing from rape survivors and this from Pacific Views pointing out that the legal age of consent in Oregon is 18, but this Kos diary that explains why that doesn't apply.

    The original story:

    This one is beyond belief. A judge decides that since he doesn't know who to believe he'll convict the woman for filing the charges in the first place.

    Judge rules teen filed false report in rape case,

    After a day-and-a-half trial, Municipal Judge Peter A. Ackerman on Friday convicted the woman of filing a false police report, a class-C misdemeanor. Ackerman explained his decision, saying there were many inconsistencies in the stories of the four, but that he found the young men to be more credible. He also said he relied on the testimony of a Beaverton police detective and the woman's friends who said she did not act traumatized in the days following the incident.

    [. . .] The woman, who was 17 at the time of the April 30, 2004, incident, testified Friday that she was attacked by an 18-year-old boyfriend and his two friends. She said she was in the boyfriend's bedroom preparing to go to a party when she was sexually assaulted by the men. The three men testified Thursday that the acts were consensual and at the girl's initiation.

    Kevin at American Street has more.

    Read the whole thing. Just beyond belief.

    Update - Shakespeare's Sister has picked up on the story - also here now with a list of blogs covering this - and we're starting to get other bloggers bringing this to people's attention. Maybe we can get something done about this outrage.

    More bloggers:

    Bark Bark Woof Woof

    The Heretik
    Running Scared
    Ded Space
    Alternate Brain
    Radioactive Quill
    Feministe
    Once Upon a Time
    Science and Politics
    Ezra Klein
    evolution
    Liberty Street
    Pandagon
    Political Animal
    Blondsense
    The Countess
    Suburban Guerilla
    Left Coaster
    Wonderland or Not
    Crooks and Liars
    King of Zembla
    Newshog
    Lawyers Guns and Money
    Majikthise
    Pam's House Blend
    Loaded Mouth
    Agitprop
    Night Bird's Fountain
    Pacific Views
    Digby
    Bitch Ph.D.
    Outside the Beltway (warning, right-wing perspetive)
    Cafe Politico

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:06 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 2, 2005

    Serial torturer in charge of Scooter Libby defense

    John Gorenfeld just tipped me off to the fact that "Melvin Sembler, the teen abuse czar, is now in charge of the Scooter Libby defense campaign." He'll be talking about it this weekend on Air America's Ring of Fire. If you didn't click through when I posted about this previously, check out Part II of his interview with Mark Levine's Radio Inside Scoop, most of which consists of call ins from survivors of Sembler's gulag archipelago for American teens.

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 3:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    December 1, 2005

    Raped - Tried For False Charge?

    See The American Street : Update for Readers

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 28, 2005

    Powell Blasts White House For Smearing Murtha

    This was on NewsMax a few days ago, and made its way around a few right-wing blogs, but I haven't seen it elsewhere. Colin Powell: White House's Murtha Attack 'Disgraceful',

    An angry former Secretary of State Colin Powell is blasting the Bush White House for attacking Rep. Jack Murtha, who undermined troop morale and encouraged al Qaida last week with his call for an immediate U.S. pullout from Iraq.

    "To attack him the way he was attacked, accusing him of being a Michael Moore, was disgraceful and was not worthy," a Powell told the New York Post's Deborah Orin, who described him as "livid."

    "Jack Murtha is great friend of mine," Powell declared. "He's a great patriot.

    Reported in NewsMax???? Someone is seriously firing shots across someone's bow. War on the right?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:30 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 15, 2005

    Pentagon Admits Using White Phosphorus As Weapon In Iraq

    News Flash: Pentagon Used White Phosphorous in Iraq,

    Pentagon officials acknowledged Tuesday that U.S. troops used white phosphorous as a weapon against insurgent strongholds during the battle of Fallujah last November. But they denied an Italian television news report that the spontaneously flammable material was used against civilians.

    Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, said that while white phosphorous is most frequently used to mark targets or obscure a position, it was used at times in Fallujah as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants.

    As for previous government statements,
    The State Department, in response, initially denied that U.S. troops had used white phosphorous against enemy forces. "They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters."

    The department later said its statement had been incorrect.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:31 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 11, 2005

    Reid Statement and Fact-Checking Bush's Speech

    First a statement from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, then a fact-check:

    Washington, DC - Today, Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement on Bush's speech on Iraq and the war on terror:

    "On this Veterans Day, the President had the opportunity to honor our troops, both those who have served and those who are currently serving, by laying out a clear strategy for success in the war in Iraq. Instead, the President resorted to his old playbook of discredited rhetoric about the war on terror and political attacks as his own political fortunes and credibility diminish.

    "Attacking those patriotic Americans who have raised serious questions about the case the Bush Administration made to take our country to war does not provide us a plan for success that will bring our troops home. Americans seek the truth about how the nation committed our troops to war because the decision to go to war is too serious to be entered into under faulty pretenses. While the Bush administration continues to stonewall the Congress from finding the truth about the manipulation of prewar intelligence, Democrats will continue to press for a full airing of the facts. We stand with our troops when we ask the hard questions, and with their families when we fight to get them, their families and our veterans the benefits they deserve.

    "We fear Iraq has become what it was not before the war, a haven for terrorists. We can no longer simply pledge to stay the course, we must change the cours. The American people are demanding a comprehensive plan and the benchmarks by which to measure our success for the war in Iraq. The president's continued refusal to provide that plan does nothing to support our troops or their families."

    And a FactCheck e-mail I received:
    FACT CHECK: 2 Key Inaccuracies in President Bush’s Speech

    FACT CHECK ONE

    President Bush said today that Democrats in Congress “had access to the same intelligence” as he did in deciding to go to war in Iraq. [Bush, 11/11/05]

    Fact: Congress did not have access to the same intelligence the Bush Administration did. And intelligence passed through the White House before getting to Congress.

    According to Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack:

    The Bush Administration showed Saudi Prince Bandar more intelligence than was shown to Congress. (p. 264.)

    White House Brought Over Small Groups of Congressmen to Sell Iraq Intelligence Because it "Worked Better." In the month of September 2002, Woodward writes, "Several times a week Nick Calio arranged for congressmen or senators to attend intelligence briefings or small ad hoc working group sessions, either on Capitol Hill or at the White House, even in the intimacy of the Situation Room. The small-group selling forum worked better than the large sessions. In case anyone was looking around for clues, one of the three red digital clocks marking time around the world was set for Iraq." (p.185)

    Senators Not Shown the National Intelligence Estimate Until Three Days Before the Iraq War Vote. It is not until October 8, 2002, three days before the Senate vote on the Iraq war resolution, and after debate has already started, that 47+ senators are briefed or shown the entire NIE with its key judgment that Iraq "has chemical and biological weapons," writes Woodward. (p. 203)

    And, the National Intelligence Estimate Given to Congress Didn’t Provide Enough Detail to Frame a Critique. When the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq was presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Woodward writes, “some senators focused on the larger questions the CIA had not addressed…No senator had enough of the picture – military planning details were not provided to the Hill and the CIA plans were highly classified – to frame an effective critique.” (p. 199)


    FACT CHECK TWO

    President Bush said today that a Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure changing judgments among members of the intelligence community. “These critics are fully aware that a bi-partisan senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.” [Bush, 11/11/05]

    Fact: The President could either be referring to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation or the Silberman Robb Commission Report. In either case, the statement is misleading because neither of these reports reached the question of the Administration’s misuse of intelligence.

    Fact: the Silberman Robb Commission was not even allowed to look at how policymakers misused intelligence: "[W]e were not authorized to investigate how policymakers used the intelligence assessments they received from the Intelligence Community. Accordingly, while we interviewed a host of current and former policymakers during the course of our investigation, the purpose of those interviews was to learn about how the Intelligence Community reached and communicated its judgments about Iraq's weapons programs--not to review how policymakers subsequently used that information." [Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, Report to the President, (Silberman Robb Commission) 3/31/05 ]

    Fact: The Additional views of the Phase I intelligence report make clear that the Senate Intelligence Committee was prevented from investigating the Administration's misuse of pre-war intelligence.

    Regrettably, the report paints an incomplete picture of what occurred during this period of time. The Committee set out to examine ten areas of investigation relating to pre-war intelligence on Iraq and we completed only five in this report. The scope of our investigation was divided in a way so as to prevent a complete examination of all the matters within the Committee's jurisdiction at one time.

    The central issue of how intelligence on Iraq was used or misused by Administration officials in public statements and reports was relegated to the second phase of the Committee's investigation, along with other issues related to the intelligence activities of Pentagon policy officials, pre-war intelligence assessment about post-war Iraq and the role played by the Iraqi National Congress, led by Admad Chalabi, which claims to have passed "raw intelligence" and defector information directly to the Pentagon and the Office of the Vice President.

    As a result, the Committee's phase one report fails to fully explain the environment of intense pressure in which Intelligence Community officials were asked to render judgments on matters relating to Iraq when policy officials had already forcefully stated their own conclusions in public. [Additional Views of Vice Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, Senator Carl Levin, and Senator Richard Durbin].

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    November 1, 2005

    Breaking News - Dems Shut Down Senate

    The Democrats have shut down the Senate, demanding to know what happened to the promise to investigate how intelligence was used or misused leading up to the Iraq war. Turn on your TV.

    They have used a special rule allowing them to call for the Senate to go into secret closed session.

    Update - The Dems have said that they will continue to shut down the Senate EVERY SINGLE DAY until the Republicans agree to allow investigation how we got into the war. (Note - Every channel I turn to has Republicans on, explaining how terrible this all is and how it is bad for the country and how the Democrats are under the control of leftists, etc. Not a single Democrat on any cable network.)

    Update - DEMS IMMEDIATELY WIN - there will be an investigation! More coming soon.

    Senator Reid has issued a statement. (I am adding emphasis at key points) This may be the strongest statement I have read from a national leader.

    Statement by Senator Reid
    Troops and Security First
    This past weekend, we witnessed the indictment of the I. Lewis Libby, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff and a senior Advisor to President Bush. Libby is the first sitting White House staffer to be indicted in 135 years. This indictment raises very serious charges. It asserts this Administration engaged in actions that both harmed our national security and are morally repugnant. The decision to place U.S. soldiers in harm’s way is the most significant responsibility the Constitution invests in the Congress. The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really about: how the Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions. As a result of its improper conduct, a cloud now hangs over this Administration. This cloud is further darkened by the Administration’s mistakes in prisoner abuse scandal, Hurricane Katrina, and the cronyism and corruption in numerous agencies. And, unfortunately, it must be said that a cloud also hangs over this Republican-controlled Congress for its unwillingness to hold this Republican Administration accountable for its misdeeds on all of these issues. Let’s take a look back at how we got here with respect to Iraq Mr. President. The record will show that within hours of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, senior officials in this Administration recognized these attacks could be used as a pretext to invade Iraq. The record will also show that in the months and years after 9/11, the Administration engaged in a pattern of manipulation of the facts and retribution against anyone who got in its way as it made the case for attacking Iraq. There are numerous examples of how the Administration misstated and manipulated the facts as it made the case for war. Administration statements on Saddam’s alleged nuclear weapons capabilities and ties with Al Qaeda represent the best examples of how it consistently and repeatedly manipulated the facts. The American people were warned time and again by the President, the Vice President, and the current Secretary of State about Saddam’s nuclear weapons capabilities. The Vice President said Iraq “has reconstituted its nuclear weapons.” Playing upon the fears of Americans after September 11, these officials and others raised the specter that, left unchecked, Saddam could soon attack America with nuclear weapons. Obviously we know now their nuclear claims were wholly inaccurate. But more troubling is the fact that a lot of intelligence experts were telling the Administration then that its claims about Saddam’s nuclear capabilities were false.

    The situation was very similar with respect to Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda. The Vice President told the American people, “We know he’s out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know he has a longstanding relationship with various terrorist groups including the Al Qaeda organization.”

    The Administration’s assertions on this score have been totally discredited. But again, the Administration went ahead with these assertions in spite of the fact that the government’s top experts did not agree with these claims.

    What has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress to the Administration’s manipulation of intelligence that led to this protracted war in Iraq? Basically nothing. Did the Republican-controlled Congress carry out its constitutional obligations to conduct oversight? No. Did it support our troops and their families by providing them the answers to many important questions? No. Did it even attempt to force this Administration to answer the most basic questions about its behavior? No.

    Unfortunately the unwillingness of the Republican-controlled Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities is not limited to just Iraq. We see it with respect to the prisoner abuse scandal. We see it with respect to Katrina. And we see it with respect to the cronyism and corruption that permeates this Administration.

    Time and time again, this Republican-controlled Congress has consistently chosen to put its political interests ahead of our national security. They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican Administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why.

    There is also another disturbing pattern here, namely about how the Administration responded to those who challenged its assertions. Time and again this Administration has actively sought to attack and undercut those who dared to raise questions about its preferred course.

    For example, when General Shinseki indicated several hundred thousand troops would be needed in Iraq, his military career came to an end. When then OMB Director Larry Lindsay suggested the cost of this war would approach $200 billion, his career in the Administration came to an end. When U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix challenged conclusions about Saddam’s WMD capabilities, the Administration pulled out his inspectors. When Nobel Prize winner and IAEA head Mohammed el-Baridei raised questions about the Administration’s claims of Saddam’s nuclear capabilities, the Administration attempted to remove him from his post. When Joe Wilson stated that there was no attempt by Saddam to acquire uranium from Niger, the Administration launched a vicious and coordinated campaign to demean and discredit him, going so far as to expose the fact that his wife worked as a CIA agent.

    Given this Administration’s pattern of squashing those who challenge its misstatements, what has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress? Again, absolutely nothing. And with their inactions, they provide political cover for this Administration at the same time they keep the truth from our troops who continue to make large sacrifices in Iraq.

    This behavior is unacceptable. The toll in Iraq is as staggering as it is solemn. More than 2,000 Americans have lost their lives. Over 90 Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice this month alone – the fourth deadliest month since the war began. More than 15,000 have been wounded. More than 150,000 remain in harm’s way. Enormous sacrifices have been and continue to be made.

    The troops and the American people have a right to expect answers and accountability worthy of that sacrifice. For example, 40 Senate Democrats wrote a substantive and detailed letter to the President asking four basic questions about the Administration’s Iraq policy and received a four sentence answer in response. These Senators and the American people deserve better.

    They also deserve a searching and comprehensive investigation about how the Bush Administration brought this country to war. Key questions that need to be answered include:

    o How did the Bush Administration assemble its case for war against Iraq?
    o Who did Bush Administration officials listen to and who did they ignore?
    o How did senior Administration officials manipulate or manufacture intelligence presented to the Congress and the American people?
    o What was the role of the White House Iraq Group or WHIG, a group of senior White House officials tasked with marketing the war and taking down its critics?
    o How did the Administration coordinate its efforts to attack individuals who dared to challenge the Administration’s assertions?
    o Why has the Administration failed to provide Congress with the documents that will shed light on their misconduct and misstatements?


    Unfortunately the Senate committee that should be taking the lead in providing these answers is not. Despite the fact that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee publicly committed to examine many of these questions more than 1 and ½ years ago, he has chosen not to keep this commitment. Despite the fact that he restated that commitment earlier this year on national television, he has still done nothing.

    At this point, we can only conclude he will continue to put politics ahead of our national security. If he does anything at this point, I suspect he will play political games by producing an analysis that fails to answer any of these important questions. Instead, if history is any guide, this analysis will attempt to disperse and deflect blame away from the Administration.

    We demand that the Intelligence Committee and other committees in this body with jurisdiction over these matters carry out a full and complete investigation immediately as called for by Democrats in the committee’s annual intelligence authorization report. Our troops and the American people have sacrificed too much. It is time this Republican-controlled Congress put the interests of the American people ahead of their own political interests.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:09 PM | Comments (38) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 26, 2005

    No Announcement Today

    Just on CNN - There will be no announcement today from the Plamegate grand jury.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 24, 2005

    Ambassador Joe Wilson

    I had a brief conversation with Ambassador Joe Wilson tonite at Stanford, where he was about to give a talk. I was with eRiposte of The Left Coaster, who I am sure will also be writing about this. (Early morning update - here it is.) Amb. Wilson said that he had read eRiposte's latest Treasongate post just this morning. (He is also familiar with Seeing the Forest.) eRiposte had the great honor of giving Amb. Wilson the news that the NY Times had just reported that it was Vice President Cheney who had told "Scooter" Libby that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent. (I suggested that he verify that because he heard it from a blogger... Very soon after that someone arrived with a printout.) I regret that I did not write down his reaction. Perhaps eRiposte will recall. (It's quite late now after a long day. I'm sorry that I don't have time to refine this post.)


    Myself with Ambassador Wilson. Pic by eRiposte from my cell phone

    I asked Amb. Wilson if he had any information about any CIA damage assessment looking into whether there was additional harm done from this leak. Wilson replied that he had no idea. He said information like that is strictly compartmentalized. They wouldn't make it public, they wouldn't tell him, and they wouldn't even have told his wife. He didn't even know if they had done such an assessment. He did say that they would generally assume that when an agent's cover is blown anything related to that agent - contacts, sources, etc. - is also blown.

    He went on to say that he only has sadness over this whole thing. He wishes it had never happened. He said Chris Mathews said the other day that if there are indictments, that he (Wilson) would be doing cartwheels down Pennsylvania Avenue and that is just wrong, that this is a terrible thing that has happened, a terrible abuse of power that has harmed the country.

    I agree. I wrote the other day, "We're talking about a government that has caused possible loss of life, damage to our country and our safety, not about some political "us vs them" game."

    As I said, it's late. I'll write about Wilson's talk tomorrow. It was very good. Wilson is a remarkable and dedicated patriot who spent years in service to the country. He was George HW Bush's point-man in Baghdad during the first Gulf War. I commented to eRiposte that this is exactly the kind of dedicated career professional that the current Bush Administration is so intent on driving out of the government.

    (Note - I'm not using quotes because I don't use shorthand, was taking notes as fast as I could, and though I have the clear sense and most of the words used I'm not sure I have it exactly.)

    P.S. I have also touched on this story from a very different direction. During the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston I witnessed Natasha of Pacific Views chasing down Robert Novak to ask him about his notorious leak of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Wilson. Novak actually turned into a giant bat and flew away.

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

    October 21, 2005

    Does Diebold Make Lottery Machines, Too?

    Sen. Judd Gregg wins $853K in Powerball,

    Gregg, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, was one of 47 Powerball lottery winners Wednesday to match five of the numbers, though not the Powerball number. His reward: $853,492 before taxes.

    He said he was leaving the gas station when a clerk ran after him to tell him he’d left one of the tickets behind.

    (Wizbang)

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

    October 18, 2005

    Cheney Resignation Rumors

    Cheney resignation rumors fly

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:37 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 13, 2005

    DeLay's Phone Records Subpoenaed

    DeLay's Phone Records Subpoenaed,

    A Texas prosecutor subpoenaed records for the home telephone of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and the phone of his political campaign Thursday.

    Also subpoenaed by prosecutor Ronnie Earle were records for two numbers for DeLay's daughter, Danielle DeLay Ferro.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    October 6, 2005

    A Spy In The White House

    FBI Probes Ex-Marine on Classified Info.

    The usual complaint about the media - imagine if this were the Clinton White House... But no, this is the National Security, Defense, Protect Us White House that knows what it is doing...

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 29, 2005

    Reid Speaks Out on Corruption and Cronyism

    This statement was just released by Senator Harry Reid's office:

    REID, DEMOCRATS DEMAND END TO CULTURE OF CRONYISM AND CORRUPTION

    Call for Corruption Czar to Oversee Reconstruction Because America Can Do Better

    Washington, D.C. -- The following is a statement by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid:

    “As I’ve said before, the biggest abuse of power is having the ability to help the American people, but choosing not to instead. Now, even in the wake of Katrina, that’s the choice Republicans continue to make.”

    “No help for victims. No help on gas prices. And no end in sight to a string of ethical scandals."

    “Fortunately, the American people don’t have to live with that choice. America can do better, and together we will.

    “The American people deserve more than “business as usual” in Washington. It’s time to reform the way things are done, and we can start with the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast.

    “Billions of dollars will be spent on that project. Already we’re hearing stories of millions for cruise ships and mismanagement of funds.

    “America can do better. Democrats in the House and Senate have called for a corruption czar to oversee the effort, and today I ask the President and the Republicans to join us in supporting this position.

    “We need someone to make sure the money goes to rebuilding businesses, homes and lives, not to lining the pockets of well-connected contractors. A czar will know where every penny goes, and watch for anyone who takes shortcuts or overcharges.

    “We support a czar because we’re committed to reforming the culture of cronyism and corruption President Bush and Republicans have created in Washington. They think since they have all the power, they only have to use it to help their friends….by cutting taxes for special interests…by giving more breaks to Big Oil…and by keeping open the revolving door between government jobs, their top supporters and industry lobbyists.

    “Democrats believe in something very different. We believe that together America can do better, and that in the wake of Katrina and the rash of Republican scandals, it’s time to unite and move forward in a new direction.

    “Democrats want to return to a time when “what you know,” not “who you know,” qualified you to run a government agency, and we have legislation to slow the revolving-door that’s been the source of so much Republican abuse.

    “Unlike Republicans, Democrats see the solution to rising gas prices as energy independence by 2020, not more tax breaks for the energy industry.

    “And Democrats know that now – in the wake of the worst natural disaster in our history - it is not time to cut Medicaid and cut education so we can spend more on tax breaks for special interests and multi-millionaires.

    “We can do better.

    “Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that Katrina struck on the 29th day of August. Now, it’s the 29th day of September and this Republican-controlled Congress has yet to send a comprehensive relief package to the president’s desk.

    “Last Spring, Republicans in the House and Senate moved mountains in the middle-of-the-night to intervene in one Florida family’s tragedy. But today, when thousands of displaced families are sleeping on cots, Republicans are sitting on their hands.

    “A stronger America begins at home. Weeks ago, Democrats introduced the “Katrina Relief Plan” which would give families housing, health care, education and financial relief. Even though Republicans refuse to act, we won’t stop fighting to get these families the urgent relief they need.

    “Together, America can do better.”


    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 28, 2005

    DeLay Indicted!

    I'm breaking away from my "day job" to bring you the news that U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been indicted for conspiracy and is leaving his leadership post (but not the Congress).

    DeLay Is Indicted in Texas Campaign Finance Probe
    ,

    A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that likely will force him to step down as House majority leader.

    "I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader," Representative Tom DeLay said.

    DeLay attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

    Who is next? Abramoff is already indicted. Will it be Grover Norquist? Ralph Reed? Karl Rove? That's the group that controls the "conservative movement."

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:16 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 23, 2005

    Hurricane Katrina Injustice Index

    Drum Major Institute - Injustice Index: Hurricane Katrina

    Percentage of New Orleans residents living below the poverty level in 2003: 20.8

    Rank of New Orleans among the American cities with the highest rate of poverty: 17

    Ratio of African-American households in New Orleans that did not have access to a car in 2000: 1 to 3

    Percentage of evacuees in Houston shelters who had not heard about the evacuation order before the hurricane hit: 25

    The rest is at the link.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 21, 2005

    Bird Flu - Is This It?

    This might be a false alarm. There are some signs that human-to-human bird flu might be breaking out in Indonesia. I hope Katrina woke the Bush administration up. They should be turning back all flights from Indonesia, and working to get Indonesia to close its airports and other ports of exit and entry.

    Bird flu deaths force Indonesia to declare epidemic

    Bird Flu Outbreak Fears Hit Indonesia

    Indonesia Warns of Possible Bird Flu Epidemic


    Bird flu epidemic call alerts world

    Indonesia battles bird flu spread

    WHO tries to dial back concern over possible avian flu cases in Indonesia


    Places to get info:

    Flu Wiki

    CDC Avian Flu

    WHO Avian Flu and here

    Avian Flu - What we need to know

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 20, 2005

    One (Temporary) Hero - Byrd

    I was curious which Senate Democrats might have supported the nomination of newly-indicted Abramoff/Norquist co-conspirator David Safavarian to be Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy. (See Bush Official Arrested in Corruption Probe.) A Thomas inquiry shows the following:

    NOMINATION: PN1238-108 DATE RECEIVED: January 22, 2004

    David Safavian, of Michigan, to be Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, vice Angela Styles.

    REFERRED TO: Senate Governmental Affairs
    REPORTED BY: Senate Governmental Affairs


    LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS
    Committee Action: April 29, 2004 - Committees on Governmental Affairs. Hearings held. Hearings printed: S.Hrg. 108-549.
    Floor Action: January 22, 2004 - Received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Governmental Affairs.
    Committee Action: June 02, 2004 - Committee on Governmental Affairs. Ordered to be reported favorably.
    Floor Action: June 02, 2004 - Reported by Senator Collins, Committee on Governmental Affairs, without printed report.
    Floor Action: June 02, 2004 - Placed on Senate Executive Calendar. Calendar No. 699. Subject to nominee's commitment to respond to requests to appear and testify before any duly constituted committee of the Senate.
    Floor Action: November 21, 2004 - Confirmed by the Senate by Voice Vote.

    ORGANIZATION: Executive Office of the President

    CONTROL NUMBER: 108PN0123800

    There you have it, confirmed by voice vote on my birthday, 2004. No fingerprints.

    But there was one (temporary) hero. In Senate confirms federal procurement chief,

    But following a Senate Governmental Affairs committee confirmation hearing in late April and the panel's approval of Safavian in June, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va, placed a hold on the nomination, delaying a full Senate vote.
    Except for this:
    Byrd lifted that hold later in the summer after meeting with Safavian.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 16, 2005

    If Bush Can...

    Chavez Takes Bush to Task on World Stage Over War in Iraq

    World leaders at the summit had been asked to speak for five minutes but Chavez ran long and when the presiding diplomat passed him a note saying his time was up, he threw it on the floor. He said if Bush could speak for 20 minutes, so could he.
    When he finally stopped, he got what observers said was the loudest applause of the summit.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 14, 2005

    Big Government vs Liberty

    The headlines frame it in the Right's preferred language: Judge: School Pledge Is Unconstitutional and Judge rules Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional and Federal judge declares Pledge unconstitutional and Judge: School Pledge Is Unconstitutional.

    The right-wing blogs are in a frenzy:

    California Conservative:

    This action reveals that his ultimate goal is not to “protect” freedom of religion, but to purge religion from America.
    Update - California Conservative notes in the comments: "As for the quote you reference, it's taken out of context. Our statement was made in regards to the fact that Mr. Newdow did not just sue to get rid of the pledge, but also tried to "purge" any oath or prayer from the Presidential Inauguration."

    Part-Time Pundit gives the judge's phone number.

    Patriots for Bush: Liberal Activist Judge Bans Patriotism

    World Magazine Blog:

    In order to be constitutional, the phrase “under God” must be able to refer to the deity of Hindus, Wiccans, Buddhists, pagans, or any other religion. Since we can’t claim, as Paul did on Mars Hill, that the “unknown god” we are referring to is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, should Christian’s fight to preserve the “Divinity” of our country’s civil religion?
    MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: One step closer to the abolition of America

    Conservative Thinking:

    Only in San Francisco will a judge spread his hate for American values imposing his own will on the rest of the country.
    La Shawn Barber:
    The government school system is hopelessly lost. Focus on making sacrifices to homeschool your children and teach them biblical values, how to be decent people and good citizens. Let the deviants wallow in the muck they created.
    The Political Teen:
    The deal here isn’t just the small amount of atheists in America, but the fact that they have to punish everyone for something they don’t believe in.

    My thoughts:

    Just to be clear, this is about whether the government can force kids to say the pledge in schools as it is currently amended with the "under God" wording, not about whether people in general are allowed to recite it.

    This is about big government forcing people to think a certain way, vs. liberty and freedom from governmentally imposed behaviour. If the so-called "conservatives" were actually conservative, and actually meant the things they say, they would applaud this decision. Instead they want to increase government power and use it to impose a particular belief system on the rest of us.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:25 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    War On ...

    Terror Leader in Iraq Declares War on Tape

    Tape? What's he got against TAPE?

    Update - Oh. Never mind.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 11, 2005

    Hero Of The People!

    Shakespeare's Sister: Dr. Marble

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 8, 2005

    Detainment Camps

    Detainment Camps at BOPNews.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:45 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Democrats Speaking Out

    After 5 Weeks Vacation... House GOP Hurricane Katrina Response:

    40 Total Minutes of Consideration, No Amendments Allowed, No Accountability Sought, Home for the Weekend...Your Republican Congress

    Washington, DC - Tonight, after five weeks vacation, in the wake of what is quickly becoming the worst natural disaster in American history, the Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives made the decision to limit floor consideration of the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina to just forty minutes.

    Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, led Democratic opposition to a Rules Committee vote this evening that makes the $52 Billion Supplemental Appropriation bill, a Suspension Rule that will prevent any amendments from being offered and allow for a grand total of 40 minutes of consideration. The bill, which enjoys broad bipartisan support, is expected to pass on the House floor tomorrow.

    Republicans on a party line voted to deny Rep. Slaughter's amendment that would have allowed for a modest 2 hours of discussion and opened up the measure to be amended.

    Democrats on the Rules Committee and in attendance at the hearing passionately implored the Republicans to allow amendments, which would enable consideration of critical and urgent measures, such as which areas and to which agencies relief dollars were most needed and how to restructure FEMA so that it would be more effective. Members also noted that no one had yet to even see a copy of the legislation.

    "We've been on vacation for five weeks. Now, in our first week back, the Republican Leadership would rather duck and run than discuss what's happened in the wake of Hurricane Katrina," said Rep. Slaughter. She continued, "Life in the Gulf Coast is no vacation. The Federal Government failed the American people in its initial response to this horrible disaster and by their actions; the Republican Leadership is once again showing that their priorities are out of sync with the needs of so many hard working families."

    "It is this very lack of accountability in government which ensured that our disaster response would be a bigger disaster than the hurricane itself. Yet here they go again, completely unfazed in their determination to eliminate debate, consideration and accountability from the Congress and the Federal government. No one has even seen a copy of the bill."

    "If the Republican Majority cannot feel the anger all over America at the Federal response to this disaster, they must be completely tone deaf to the reality so many people are now facing. No food, water, homes or jobs. The lives of loved ones lost," Said Rep. Slaughter. "They want answers and they want their Congressional Representatives working hard. But the best this leadership can give their voice is forty minutes. What are they afraid of hearing?" she concluded.

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

    September 7, 2005

    Katrina Stories

    Poll just out:

    While 42% of respondents characterized Bush's response to the disaster as bad or terrible, 35% said it was good or great. Federal agencies got exactly the same marks.

    ... Again, the views were strongly based on partisan leanings, with Republicans giving the president good grades on this issue by a 69% to 10% margin, while Democrats' views were precisely the opposite. But independents gave Bush a thumbs down by 47% to 29%.

    Asked who was MOST responsible for the post-hurricane problems, 13% picked Bush, 18% said federal agencies, 25% selected state/local officials and 38% said no one was to blame.

    Asked if top officials in federal agencies responsible for emergencies should be fired, 29% said yes, and 63% no. [emphasis added]

    (Remember what I said about how people hear and retain "news." The Right understands and uses this process and Progressives do not.)

    States with Republican governors to get aid before New Orleans.

    Navy Pilots Who Rescued Victims Are Reprimanded:

    Flying over Biloxi and Gulfport and other areas of Mississippi, they could see rescue personnel on the ground, Lieutenant Udkow said, but he noticed that there were few rescue units around the flooded city of New Orleans, on the ground or in the air. "It was shocking," he said.

    [. . .] Lieutenant Udkow said that he saw few other rescue helicopters in New Orleans that day. The toughest part, he said, was seeing so many people imploring him to pick them up and having to leave some.

    "I would be looking at a family of two on one roof and maybe a family of six on another roof, and I would have to make a decision who to rescue," he said. "It wasn't easy."

    [. . .] The order to halt civilian relief efforts angered some helicopter crews. Lieutenant Udkow, who associates say was especially vocal about voicing his disagreement to superiors, was taken out of the squadron's flying rotation temporarily and assigned to oversee a temporary kennel established at Pensacola to hold pets of service members evacuated from the hurricane-damaged areas, two members of the unit said.

    [. . .] In protest, some members of the unit have stopped wearing a search and rescue patch on their sleeves that reads, "So Others May Live."

    House cancels hearings on Katrina response

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

    September 6, 2005

    California Legislature passes Equal Marriage Bill

    [The story I hear from inside is that they had a caucus from which several members came back quite hoarse, after the vote was delayed several times during the day. -Thomas]

    Via KQED (and a few stops in between, and slightly edited):

    Governor Schwarzenegger will now have to weigh in on perhaps the biggest social debate in the nation, as the California Legislature becomes the first body of its kind in the nation to approve a measure allowing same-sex couples (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) to legally marry. AB 849 was Assemblymember Mark Leno's (D-SF) second attempt this year, and this time he lined up the requisite 41 votes in the Assembly. The vote came just after 7:00pm, long after many reporters had filed their stories for the day. Key to the passage were "aye" votes from six Democrats who last time either voted no, or did not vote.

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 10:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Louisiana Greens Express Outrage at Katrina "Planning"

    Also see: Greens Send Aid to Stricken Areas, Urge FEMA Chief's Dismissal

    09.05.2005 WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green Party members intensified their efforts to help in the relief effort for victims of hurricane Katrina, and also called for the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be fired.

    ***

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (not yet on the web)
    Monday, September 5, 2005

    Contact:
    Leenie Halbert, Coordinating Committee, Green
    Party of Louisiana, 504-343-1273, leenie@leenie.com
    Malik Rahim, 504-368-6897, maliknogreenparty@yahoo.com

    Louisiana Greens Express Outrage at Katrina
    "Planning":
    War, Racism, Coastal Mismanagement Exacerbate
    Devastation

    As the devastation in New Orleans from hurricane
    Katrina grows more and more deadly, disgraceful,
    and surreal—we find ourselves in a state of
    'shock and awe' at the appalling carelessness to
    the rescue effort, the racist neglect of New
    Orleans' most vulnerable people, and the
    devastating mismanagement of our regional
    ecosystem which hastened and exacerbated the
    devastation.

    Greens are committed to rebuilding Louisiana
    sustainably and equitably!

    THE REAL COSTS OF WAR

    Fully one-third of the Louisiana National Guard,
    whose mission is to assist in rescue and relief
    operations during peacetime, have instead been
    sent to Iraq to fight for George Bush's war,
    based on lies and deception. This includes many
    troops who were trained specifically for
    high-water rescue operations. Yet four days
    after the hurricane hit, there's no National
    Guard in sight. Tens of thousands of New
    Orleanians—most poor and African-American—have
    been without food, water and medicines for almost
    a week while the president cobbles together a
    hodgepodge of disaster relief teams from
    under-staffed and under-funded local authorities.

    Here's what stranded New Orleanians are saying
    about the rescue efforts:

    "It's unbelievable but its for real. That man
    [Bush] can spend all that money and send all
    those troops to Iraq but he can't do nothing for
    us right here!"

    "You mean to tell me they couldn't just drop some
    water and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from
    all those helicopters?" (responding to the
    reasoning that no relief could be delivered
    because of the high waters)

    Damage estimates for New Orleans and the Gulf
    South are already reaching the tens of billions.
    The Republican-Democrat consensus on
    appropriating hundreds of billions of dollars to
    fight the illegal and immoral war in Iraq have
    taken funds which could have been rightly used to
    address domestic needs such as health care,
    education, and local projects such as improving
    levee and drainage systems in New Orleans and
    other American cities.

    As Greens living in a city whose destruction has
    been exacerbated by the outrageous negligence and
    outright madness of the Bush Administration and
    it's pliant Democratic "opposition," we reiterate
    our demand that all US troops are brought home
    now, that the costly war budget be transformed
    into a prosperous peacetime budget, and that the
    Bush Administration apologize in full for its
    role in intensifying this absolute catastrophe.

    INEQUITIES IN RACE AND CLASS

    One of the most striking images from the ongoing
    hurricane disaster is the ubiquitous poverty of
    the mostly-black victims, which underscore the
    existing race and class inequalities in our
    city—a microcosm of the national inequalities
    that confront people of color and the working
    poor.

    Disaster planning officials know that 112,000
    people in New Orleans have no access to a car—the
    only way to get out of the city. And a
    staggering 61% of single-mom families in New
    Orleans are living in poverty.

    The working-class Plaquemines and St. Bernard
    parishes—home to factory workers, commercial
    fishermen and shrimpers—were also hit very hard,
    particularly St. Bernard. The awesome reality of
    the hurricane is that it starkly sharpened the
    existing class and race inequalities.

    Greens have been working to address these
    disparities in New Orleans, and we reiterate our
    calls for social justice: raise the poverty-level
    'minimum' wage to a living wage; restore all
    funding to the Charity Hospital system; investing
    in education—not incarceration—for our young
    people.

    As New Orleanians committed to systematic change
    in our economic and political systems for social
    justice and environmental sustainability, we are
    both angered by the culmination of a century of
    irresponsible planning, yet heartened by the
    resilience and determination of our brothers and
    sisters who are battling through the challenges
    of this disaster with the same dignity and
    resolve that they have battled the ongoing
    challenges of the daily lives under a system
    which has been designed to disregard them.

    COASTAL DESTRUCTION AND GLOBAL WARMING

    If you had asked anyone in Louisiana just two
    weeks ago what was the biggest environmental
    crisis—nearly every person would have said
    "costal erosion." Losing our coastal areas—at a
    rate of a football fields every 20 minutes—has
    destroyed not only a rich source of wildlife but
    also crippled our natural defenses against storms
    and flooding. In fact, until the canals and
    levees were built, the coastline was actually
    growing—strengthening our regions defenses
    against storms and hurricane.

    The truth is that the environmental planning in
    our region has systematically wiped out our
    precious and protective coastal wetlands which,
    if not weakened to their current state, could
    have provided defense against the deadly storm
    surges which broke the levees and caused the most
    damage. Shortsighted and politically-connected
    oil and gas companies wrecked coastal areas with
    impunity with an elaborate and destructive system
    of canals to facilitate the extraction of
    'resources.'

    Our system of irresponsibly-built canals and
    levees—as well as the laissez-faire complicity in
    allowing oil and gas industry to build
    destructive canals through the wetlands— act as
    giant straws, sucking saltwater from the Gulf
    inland and destroying the freshwater wetland
    habitats.

    In addition to the mismanaged regional ecosystem,
    global environmental issues such as rising ocean
    levels from global warming are adding fuel to the
    fire. In fact, since FEMA was founded in 1979,
    New Orleans has been consistently at the top of
    the list of most disaster-prone areas in the
    country. And in 1995, the International Panel on
    Climate Change of the United Nations identified
    New Orleans as the most vulnerable North American
    city to global climate change, because sea-level
    rise and elevating temperatures of the Gulf of
    Mexico intensify the frequency and power of
    hurricanes.

    As Greens committed to environmental
    sustainability and proper management of our
    regional ecosystems for the benefit of
    recreation, human habitat, and natural disaster
    protection, we reiterate our call to reduce
    emissions which are causing global warming, as
    well as for a sustainable system of drainage and
    storm prevention in Southeast Louisiana.

    For information about the Green Party of
    Louisiana, visit http://www.LaGreens.org

    Green Party of the United States
    http://www.gp.org

    RELIEF EFFORTS:

    Green Party web page with information on aid for
    victims of the hurricane
    http://www.gp.org/katrina2005/

    Web page with information on relief efforts, set
    up by New Orleans Greens Andrea Garland and
    Jeffrey Holmes http://www.getyouracton.com/

    Discussion list set up by Green Party member Bart
    Everson from New Orleans, for exchange of
    information (advice, requests for help and offers
    of direct material, other assistance)
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/katrina-refugees/

    ##

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Sad Photos

    At Hughes for America, Congratulations, Grover, see photos of "compassionate conservatism."

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    September 5, 2005

    Waking Up

    Waking up to nightmares at The Sideshow.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 26, 2005

    Missing

    seeing theThe Disenchanted Forest:
    While the nation's attention was focused elsewhere, a bunch of folks vanished
    .

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 22, 2005

    Venezuela Is On Our Oil

    Robertson called for the assassination of Venezuela's president. Because those people are on our oil.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 17, 2005

    Avian Flu Panddemic Probably Certain

    Has Time Run Out?

    The new U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt told the Associated Press in early August that an influenza pandemic was now an "absolute certainty," echoing repeated warnings from the World Health Organization that it was "inevitable." Likewise Science magazine observed that expert opinion held the odds of a global outbreak as "100 percent."

    In the same grim spirit, the British press revealed that officials were scouring the country for suitable sites for mass mortuaries, based on official fears that avian flu could kill as many as 700,000 Britons. The Blair government is already conducting emergency simulations of a pandemic outbreak ("Operation Arctic Sea") and is reported to have readied "Cobra" -- a cabinet-level working group that coordinates government responses to national emergencies like the recent London bombings from a secret war room in Whitehall -- to deal with an avian flu crisis.

    Little of this Churchillian resolve is apparent in Washington. Although a sense of extreme urgency is evident in the National Institutes of Health where the czar for pandemic planning, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warns of "the mother of all emerging infections," the White House has seemed even less perturbed by migrating plagues than by wanton carnage in Iraq.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:10 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 12, 2005

    Wild-Assed Conspiracy Stuff

    At King of Zembla, Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and 9/11 terrorist Mohammed Atta -- Atta and other hijackers took a Sept. 5, 2001 cruise on one of Abramoff's casino boats. Why?

    It gets interesting if you follow the links in these posts.

    I report, you decide. (Heh.)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 8, 2005

    Bird Flu

    Marginal Revolution points out that,

    Your chance of dying from avian flu is much greater than your chance of dying from terrorism. Yet the Bush Administration is still doing virtually nothing.
    Actualy, so far there is a 50% death rate in people who catch this from handling birds. If this virus mutates an ability to pass from human to human it is estimated that 50% of the planet will be infected within a year. You do the math.

    The post links to the blog Avian Flu - What we need to know.

    (Link from Daou Report.)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    August 2, 2005

    Real Time Results on Ohio Special Election

    This is it. So far the only votes reported appear to be write in votes. Chris Bowers is keeping tabs Ohio OH-2.


    Jerome put up a diary earlier about OH-02 Expectations.

    Stop by and enjoy the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.

    Early results:

    Jerome says "Yea, 45% in Hamilton is a good sign for Hackett, by my calculations (admittedly, back of the envelope), Schmidt could expect a 68-32 64-36 margin in the parts of Hamilton Country that are in the Ohio 2nd. So Hackett has a 9% swing. Once again, putting him right in the margin within 5%."
    These are some messy results sites. It doesn't seem like anyone is reporting quickly.
    Hackett pulling away in Brown County--1,480 (58.45) to 1,048 for Schimdt (41.39). Yesss!!!!
    Schimdt strong early in Clermont County. Schimdt 1158-750 (60.60-39.25). Could be a wild night.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 25, 2005

    Feinstein and the Robert's Nomination

    I open up my inbox today, and happened to glace at the Sacramento Bee's email update... and what are they leading with?

    Feinstein complimentary after meeting nominee Roberts WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., met one-on-one with Supreme Court nominee John Roberts on Monday, emerging to compliment him as modest, thoughtful and impressive.

    ... do I need to read anything more? What the hell is she doing?!? (please give me your best guess in the comment section)

    Want more?

    Feinstein [is] the only woman on the 18-member Senate Judiciary Committee that will hold hearings on the nomination. (empahsis mine, TL)

    Doesn't it seem as if there is something wrong here? The first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, still only one of two women on it in a profession where women have acheived near parity in numbers, is retiring and the U.S. Senate can only muster one single solitary woman to assist in the evaluation of her proposed male replacement?!? 17 men and 1 single woman.

    ... and not a very "good" woman at that, it appears. :(

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:55 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 20, 2005

    Member of Congress suggests taking out Mecca.

    In an earlier posting, I documented The Logic Of Violence, commenting on one right-wing blogger's idea that we should threaten to nuke Mecca as a means of pre-emptively blocking further Islamic terrorist attacks. In it, I pointed out that the blogger was not just a lone nut, and that Michael Savage, one of the most popular radio talk show hosts in the nation, had been advocating "pre-emptively nuking Arab capitals" for several years. This and similar thoughts are thus not that far from the mainstream of right-wing thought.

    Well, guess what? Now we have Rep. Tom Tancredo, a member of Congress publicly raising the possibility of "taking out Mecca" in response to another terrorist incident in the United States. Question: if Newsweek's report of abuse of the Koran was "irresponsible", because it induced riots, then what do you call this? How do you think this will go over in the Muslim world? What do you think the public response would be if an American legislator suggested "taking out the Vatican" in response to a terrorist incident?

    We can't let this slip by - this guy has suggested that we collectively punish the entire Muslim world, every man, woman and child, both living and yet to be born, by destroying one of their most holy sites, one that plays a central role in their religious practice, for the actions of a few irrational extremists. This is a violation of every international norm and standard of conduct, and if allowed to spread, will render our nation and citizens international pariahs.


    Note that he also suggests that our only alternative is to turn the country into a police state. Isn't this effectively admitting that we are utterly incapable of protecting ourselves against terrorist activity, and that the hundreds of billions being spent in Iraq and on Homeland Security are a pointless waste of money?

    URL:
    http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_3935487,00.html
    Transcript of Tancredo comments

    By Rocky Mountain News
    July 18, 2005

    Comments made by Rep. Tom Tancredo on Friday during an on-air interview on radio station WFLA in Orlando, Fla. Host Pat Campbell and the congressman were discussing the possibility of future terrorist attacks inside the United States.

    Campbell: Worst case scenario, if they do have these nukes inside the borders and they were to use something like that — what would our response be?

    Tancredo: What would be the response? You know, there are things that you could threaten to do before something like that happens and then you may have to do afterwards that are quite draconian.

    Campbell: Such as...

    Tancredo: Well, what if you said something like — if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, um, you know, you could take out their holy sites . . .

    Campbell: You're talking about bombing Mecca.

    Tancredo: Yeah. What if you said — what if you said that we recognize that this is the ultimate threat to the United States — therefore this is the ultimate threat, this is the ultimate response.

    I mean, I don't know, I'm just throwing out there some ideas because it seems to me . . . at that point in time you would be talking about taking the most draconian measures you could possibly imagine and because other than that all you could do is once again tighten up internally.

    Copyright 2005, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 5:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 14, 2005

    U.S. Gov't busy doing Osama's bidding.

    Declan McCullagh recently posted an item to his "Politech" list regarding efforts by several federal law enforcement agencies to induce the FCC to mandate various and sundry "features" be incorporated into airborne communications technologies that would assure law enforcement of the ability to monitor and control any and all communications aboard an aircraft in flight.

    The more technically knowledgable of his readers immediately pointed out that the requests were (mostly) technologically unfeasible, expensive to implement (when possible at all), and would do little or no good in terms of deterring or preventing terrorist acts from being completed (and might possibly be even counter-productive, by inhibiting the efforts of passengers to co-ordinate a response or communicate the nature of the situation on board).

    Reading through the various responses, I was reminded of what Osama Bin Ladin said last November, shortly before the election:

    "All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.
    This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.
    All Praise is due to Allah.
    So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah."

    and

    "... al-Qaida spent $500,000 on the event, while America, in the incident [9/11] and its aftermath, lost - according to the lowest estimate - more than $500 billion.
    Meaning that every dollar of al-Qaida defeated a million dollars by the permission of Allah, besides the loss of a huge number of jobs.
    As for the size of the economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars."

    The actions of Federal law enforcement (FBI, DHS and Justice) in this matter, along with a whole host of other stupidities (Bruce Schneier talks about this in a recent issue of his CRYPTO-GRAM email newsletter) perpetrated by our government, are busily forwarding Al-Qaida's openly stated goals. This would be hysterically funny, if it wasn't so utterly insane, expensive and harmful to the future welfare of myself, my children, and the country as a whole!

    In view of the willingness of the U.S. Gov't to follow Osama's plans to the letter, it is perhaps no wonder that we haven't seen a terrorist incident in the U.S. since 9/11 ... why should AQ waste its resources when we're happy to forward their goals, or, even worse (from their perspective) why should they do something to make the stupidity and uselessness of our current actions so blatantly obvious that we actually wind up being driven to do something intelligent in this area for once?!?

    Argh! The collective stupidity of our leadership (which extends to both sides of the aisle), and the citizenry (which is doing nothing to hold them accountable for effective action) on this issue drives me nuts. How many trillions of dollars in costs, lost productivity and other "security" induced inefficiencies is the country going to have to endure before we collectively wake up and smell the coffee on this issue?

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 12:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 9, 2005

    Comic relief: British national ID card

    ... I thought y'all would be amused by this hysterically funny take on the British government's proposal to establish a national ID card.

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 9:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 5, 2005

    NOT A Right-Winger?

    There are indications that Bush might not pick a right-winger for the Supreme Court after all. At least, if the title of this article is to be believed. USATODAY.com - Q&A: Bush wants justice of 'great integrity and intellect'

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:00 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    July 2, 2005

    Rove -- Things Worse Than Jail?

    Everyone is excited that Karl Rove might be named as the Plame leaker. But Time's story is out, and there's a problem. From the story:

    He [Rove's lawyer] did say that Rove himself had testified before the grand jury "two or three times" and signed a waiver authorizing reporters to testify about their conversations with him.
    Reporters wouldn't be going to jail to protect a source who has signed a document releasing them from confidentiality. So either it is someone else, or the reporters understand that Rove signed the document as a formality, and worse things than jail will happen to them if they snitch on this White House.


    Someone I know left a great comment at Digby's blog:

    There's a problem undermining the glorious fantasy of the "great unraveling" (of the trail of bread crumbs right up the BushCo hierarchy). These guys obsess about Watergate. For thirty years they've been thinking about and practicing (Iran-Contra) how to prevent a repeat of what they see as Nixon's great failure -- not being crooked, but being caught at it. (They've incidentally been searching for, and constantly attempting to manufacture, a "Democrat Watergate", with no success.)

    They have demonstrated over and over again, especially recently, that there is only one felony: disloyalty to Bush. And all misdemeanors are punished by promotion or Friday afternoon resignation and Monday morning hiring at forty times the salary just down the street.

    So, maybe they have licked Watergate this time -- maybe they will ALL JUST NOT TALK. It's not like the Department of Justice is going to really go after them. And the Washington culture of blatant corporate corruption is so openly tolerated (celebrated!) that who will even notice that today's "third-rate burglars" are tomorrow's multimillionaires?

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

    July 1, 2005

    Kennedy Call on Supreme Court

    I was on a blogger web magaziners conference call today with Senator Kennedy. A great write-up to read is TalkLeft: Blogger Conference Call With Sen. Kennedy Re: O'Connor Retirement. Another is at Dem Bloggers.

    I asked the Senator if he has a "cloakroom sense" of what the Republicans are going to do -- nominate a consensus candidate that both sides can vote for, or go to the far right with a no-compromise confrontational approach. He said he sees ominous signs, that the right-wing groups have already raised $18 million for a fight. So he fears they are going to nominate someone from the far right.

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

    June 30, 2005

    Bush & Polls

    Oliver Willis says, "I Don’t Want To Ever Hear Again About The Bush Administration Not Being Guided By Polls."

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 29, 2005

    New Democratic Party Website

    Go see the new webste of The Democratic Party.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 21, 2005

    German police baffled by Bush poo-flags

    [The comments are pretty entertaining as well. -Thomas]

    German police baffeled by Bush poo-flags

    Police in Germany are hunting pranksters who have been sticking miniature flag portraits of US President George W. Bush into piles of dog poo in public parks. Josef Oettl, parks administrator for Bayreuth, said: "This has been going on for about a year now, and there must be 2,000 to 3,000 piles of excrement that have been claimed during that time."

    [... continued at link above ...]

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:49 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 13, 2005

    Cursor's Media Transparency

    Over at Media Transparency: 15 Years in, Milwaukee's Voucher experiment lacks accountability, excels in religious education,

    The amount of taxpayer money going to pay for religious education in Milwaukee has no parallel in the last century of American life. About 70% of the students in the program attend religious schools.
    Also good today, The Resurrection of Charles Colson.

    Did I mention that their parent organization Cursor is having a fundraiser?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 8, 2005

    America! Coalition Demands A Realignment of Priorities

    America! Coalition Demands A Realignment of Priorities.

    Go demand.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 7, 2005

    Dean's Comment and Edwards

    There is a "controversy" going on over Howard Dean's comment that Republicans aren't affected by the short voting hours because they "have never made an honest living in their lives." Well, I was there when he said it, and everyone knew what he meant. It was obvious he was talking about Repubican leaders and funders. Duh.

    John Edwards is reported to have "criticized" the remarks and "distanced" himself from Dean. "The chairman of the DNC is not the spokesman for the party," Edwards reportedly said at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Tennessee. Well, Edwards clarifies this today at his blog:

    "What a flap has arisen over a disagreement about the way something is said! I was in Nashville over the weekend, thanking the good people of Tennessee who supported the Democratic presidential ticket this year, when I was asked whether I thought that it was fair to say that people who were Republican hadn’t done a good day’s work. Of course, I didn’t think so, and I said that. I don’t think our DNC chair, Howard Dean, would put it that way again if asked either.

    [. . .] Howard and I have been saying the same thing about this for years. Hear that? The same thing. For years. Have I ever put it some way that Howard wouldn't agree with? Probably. And he put it in a way, once, just the other day, that I can’t agree with, since I come from a place where hard-working people, who are better served by the agenda and passion of the Democrats, somehow still vote Republican.

    [. . .] The safety net is eroding. The ladder has been pulled up. This is not new. For more than two decades, the Republican Party has talked about an agenda that addresses concerns of working people while they have passed an agenda that serves the goals of the wealthiest among us. Howard and I know that these are the wrong choices for America. We won’t always use the same words. But we will always fight the same fight: for the dignity, the respect, and the rights of those who built this country, the working people in America."

    Biden's remarks are another story.

    A few other blogs and articles on this:

    Chris comments at MyDD, "The person who really needs to be ashamed is the AP reporter who characterized Edwards' comments as "criticism" in the headline of the orignal piece."

    eRiposte at Left Coaster, "But Dean's remarks sounded so strong that that was perhaps not the best approach."

    Salon, Much Ado About Dean.

    Stirling Newberry at BOPNews, "The Left Coaster has his take and other people have theirs. Let me give you FDRs take. Don't criticize the Republican Party, or Republicans. Criticize the "Republican Leadership". It isn't hard, it is an old rule, and it worked for FDR."

    Several Kos diaries that have scrolled away...

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:06 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 4, 2005

    Judge Says Saddam Guilty -- Before The Trial!

    The story Judge Says Saddam Hussein's Morale Is Plummeting:

    "The ousted president has suffered a collapse in his morale because he understands the extent of the charges against him and because he's certain that he will stand trial before an impartial court," Juhi was quoted as saying.
    OK, this "judge" says the reason Saddam Hussein is depressed is because Saddam knows the "judge" is "impartial." In other words, the judge says Hussein knows he will be found guilty. The JUDGE says that! Before the trial. Before the evidence.

    Defendent is dpressed "because he's certain that he will stand trial before an impartial court"! This "judge" has been taking language lessons from the Republican Party.


    (Through Daily Kos)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:05 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Moyers' Speech Online Now

    You can see a video or read a transcript of Bill Moyers' speech, the one I wrote about yesterday, by going to this page and clicking the appropriate links: Take Back America 2005: The Conference for America's Future.

    While you are there, Arianna Huffington's speech was very, very good. John Edwards' was great, and if you can find a video of Thomas Franks' talk it was also great. The "more" link gets you to Howard Dean's speech and others.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 3, 2005

    Please Watch Bill Moyers' Speech

    I just saw Bill Moyers' speech to the Take Back America conference. I'm sure it will be repeated on C-Span later. Please watch this speech. Stay up as late as you have to tonite just in case C-Span has it on again. It will probably be posted on the conference website soon. Please watch this speech. It was one of the great speeches. I was moved to tears. People were shouting. The audience stood and applauded for a very, very long time at the end.

    During the Democratic Convention last summer I wrote about a great speech by Michael Moore, and later posted a transcript, then linked to an online site where you could watch it. Today's speech by Bill Moyers' is the next speech I will recommend as highly.

    Rather than write about it - one favorite line was about Tom Delay as the right-wing reincarnation of St. Francis of Assisi - I'm sure you'll be reading about it all over the web today and for a while (maybe a long while) - I'll just say please watch this speech.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:47 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 1, 2005

    Spam

    Is it just me? Is it an east-coast thing? I received a TON more spam than usual today.

    (Yes, I know it doesn't make any difference which coast I'm on, I was being funny.)

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

    May 25, 2005

    Keeping Us Safe?

    Maybe not.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 24, 2005

    "7 Republicans abandon GOP on filibuster"

    That's a headline at the Washington Times.

    Seven Senate Republicans bolted from their leaders last night and dropped their support for the "nuclear option" in exchange for seven Democrats' abandoning filibusters against three of President Bush's judicial nominees.

    "This is really good news for every American tonight," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said moments after the deal was announced last night on live television. "This is a significant victory."

    The right is playing this as a significant defeat. And this isn't the usual victimization whining, this is an announcement to the base, "We lost."

    AND this agreement is aimed directly at Bush and Rove, saying these Senators are tired of being told to act as an extension of Bush's executive branch:

    The two-page agreement specifically admonished President Bush, saying that the word "advice" in the Senate's constitutional responsibility should not be taken lightly.

    "We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration," the senators wrote in the memorandum of understanding signed by the 14 negotiators.

    Note the use of the words, "prior to."

    Here is something very important about this. These Republican Senators have "burned" themselves with the far-right base of The Party. There is no going back for them. The Right does not forgive. Can you imagine the abusive phone calls and mail they will be getting from the wingnuts from now on? (Will it be as bad as liberal bloggers get?) Will they still feel obligated to vote for those judges that were sent to the floor by this deal? Will they still feel compelled to support other elements of the far-right's agenda?

    (The above link is to the Crooks and Liars roundup. Be sure to watch Senator Lindsey Graham's statement. Another great roundup here at Swing State Project.)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:34 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 23, 2005

    Senator Reid Statement

    Statement of Democratic Leader Harry Reid There is good news for every American in this agreement. The so-called ³nuclear option² is off the table. This is a significant victory for our country, for democracy, and for all Americans. Checks and balances in our government have been preserved.

    The integrity of future Supreme Courts has been protected from the undueinfluences of a vocal, radical faction of the right that is completely out of step with mainstream America. That was the intent of the Republican ³nuclear option² from the beginning. Tonight, the Senate has worked its will on behalf of reason, responsibility and the greater good.

    We have sent President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the radical arm of the Republican base an undeniable message: Abuse of power will not be tolerated, and attempts to trample the Constitution and grab absolute control are over. We are a separate and equal branch of government. That is our founding fathers¹ vision, and one we hold dear.

    I offered Senator Frist several options similar to this compromise, and while he was not able to agree, I am pleased that some responsible Republicans and my colleagues were able to put aside there differences and work from the center. I do not support several of the judges that have been agreed to because their views and records display judicial activism that jeopardize individual rights and freedoms. But other troublesome nominees have been turned down. And, most importantly, the U.S. Senate retains the checks and balances to ensure all voices are heard in our democracy and the
    Supreme Court make-up cannot be decided by a simple majority.

    I am grateful to my colleagues who brokered this deal. Now, we can move beyond this time-consuming process that has deteriorated the comity of this great institution. I am hopeful that we can quickly turn to work on the people¹s business. We need to ensure our troops have the resources they need to fight in Iraq and that Americans are free from terrorism. We need to protect retiree¹s pensions and long-term security. We need to expand health care opportunities for all families. We need to address rising gasoline prices and energy independence. And we need to restore fiscal responsibility and rebuild our economy so that it lifts all American workers. That is our reform agenda, the people¹s reform agenda. Together, we can get the job done.

    Look, I know you might think "we" didn't get enough from this, but it is a huge loss for the Religious Right. HUGE. And it means you and me can worry a bit less about the Right forcing us to pray (their way) and things like that.

    The country just dodged a bullet.

    Update - Crooks and Liars documents how unhappy the Right is about this.

    Update II - My feeling is that this presents an opportunity to parade Judge Owen's record in front of a public that will nowbe paying more attention. Her record makes the Repubicans look really, really bad. I'm still on my way home from a late business meeting and will try to post more on this tomorrow. Until then, see TalkLeft, Body and Soul and a Kos post for some of her record.

    Update III - Home at last (10:30pm...) Scanning comments earlier and now, and listening to the radio talk shows while I drove, I think there is something that people are missing. I think the Republican "nuclear option" is gone now -- off the table. After this it doesn't have the credibility to re-enter the picture and they can't try this again. What would be the point, knowing there are enough senators willing to find a way not to do it? It was a months-long buildup and in the end it failed. For the far-right it was never about these judges. It was about getting rid of the last check and balance in our system so they could get even more of their judges and Supreme Court nominees in place, and then getting rid of the filibuster altogeher (find me an argument they used here that doesn't apply to the filibuster generally), and they failed. Any individual Senator can still filibuster any judicial nomination.

    Steve Soto says The Center Finally Held,

    "Not only did they [Senate moderates] emerge, but the elder statesmen from both parties (Warner and Byrd) stepped in and took the car keys away from Frist and to a degree, from Cheney.

    [. . .] The moderate center finally got tired tonight of what they were being force-fed from the White House and the American Taliban, and took back control.

    [. . .] the vast majority of the public only really cares about judges when a Supreme Court nomination is pending that will change the ideological balance on the court. Reid preserved the beachhead on that tonight."

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:22 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 18, 2005

    The Courage Good Republicans Must Find

    As I wrote earlier, this is an extremely important week in our country's history. Senate Minority Leader Reid reached out to moderate Republicans today. Read his words at Daily Kos :: Reid on the Courage Good Republicans Must Find.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    "It's Like A Banana Republic"

    I just got off a blogger conference call with Senator Schumer of New York, talking about the "nuclear option" in which the Republicans are trying to remove the right of the Senate Minority party to filibsuster. I want to write at length about this later, but right now I have a pesky "day job" situation that I should be attending to so I'll be brief.

    First, from my notes, Sen. Schumer says that we are on the "eve of a precipice – one of the major Constitutional crisis of last 100 years." He says that in return for the far right keeping the public pressure down - they were publicly critical of Dole and Bush's father, for example, which harmed them in their runs for the Presidency - Bush would hand judicial appointments over to the Right. He says that "Bush has turned over mechanism of picking judges to the federalist society."

    In response to a potential loss on the "nuclear option" Democrats are "not going to slow down the Senate, nor bring it to a grinding halt. They will use every senate rule they can to wrest the agenda from the majority. In the past it is comity that ..." and here he was called to the Senate floor, but he was going to say that as part of the traditional comity of the Senate the Minority party allows the Majority to set the Senate's agenda, and that will cease and the Democrats will start introducing their own agenda items, such as raising the Minimum Wage, and force the Republicans to a public vote on such bills as the Democrats have written them. What this means is that any talk you hear from The Party (my term for the Republican Party and all of its tentacles of propaganda and control: think tanks, Fox News, Limbaugh, etc.) about "obstruction" is just another lie. (Yes, Virginia, they lie.)

    My quote of the day came when I asked if the Republicans lose, what will they try next in their unceasing drive to achieve absolute power? "Who would ever have thought that the Vice President could rule from the chair – it's like a banana republic." I don't have the exact quote for what he said next but he went on to say the Republicans appear to think they can just say the Constitution means this or that and there's nothing we can do about it…

    So, here we are. This could well be a week that is talked about in history classes for 100 years or more. If it turns out that the Republicans are able to seize the last check and balance that is in place there will be nothing to stop them from implementing their entire agenda. And I think the key to helping the public understand the consequences of this is our own understanding and talking about what this means to people's lives rather than talking about it in technical terms of things they will implement, or issues, or "taking us back 100 years." I think we need to talk about the Right's agenda in terms of pensions disappearing, and birth control being made illegal again, and companies like AOL being able to charge your credit card long after you tried to cancel their service... and your dying mother being forced to live on a breathing machine no matter what she wanted.

    More later. Watch your backs.

    Update - Other bloggers writing about the call. I'll update this:
    TalkLeft: Conference Call With Sen. Schumer
    Swing State Project: Nuclear Option
    Daily Kos: Schumer Talk Before His Floor Speech
    BOPNews: Negotiating the Nuclear Option

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

    May 17, 2005

    Where The Right Is Taking The Newsweek Story

    I checked Rush Limbaugh's radio show today to see what The Party is putting out there. Rush says that the entire story about interrogators flushing Korans down toilets was an intentional lie. He says Newsweek "didn't make a mistake," but that it was "attempt to undermine the effort" that Bush is making in the Middle East. From this morning's show, "When's the last time you saw the media in support of the war on terror or the war in Iraq, Dottie?"

    He says Newsweek put this story out there because they (and by extension liberals and Democrats) are on the side of terrorists against America, and that all of the press just lies and should never be listened to. "You're under the false impression the media's is on our side. [. . .] you go back to World War II, and you'll find -- even Cronkite ... they were all pro-America in World War II, on our side. You have to go back to World War II to find it, but things changed with Vietnam." He went on to say,

    "They have an adversarial relationship with America when a Republican president is conducting a war, and whether they know it or not they end up siding with the bad guys."

    Later,

    "It's a different world after 9/11. Since then, Newsweek and TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, New York Times, Washington Post, had not said as you just did that Bush was duped, they said Bush lied. John Kerry said Bush lied. Michael Moore said Bush lied. They all say Bush is no good, Rumsfeld lied, he's no good, Rice lied, she's no good, Richard Clarke was saying they're incompetent, they're no good, they lied. The left was saying Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction, Bush knew there weren't any. He lied. And all these people dead, all these people injured, it was not necessary. Now here comes Newsweek.

    [. . .] The attempt to destroy the man, George W. Bush, and members of his administration, from John Ashcroft to Alberto Gonzales to the judges. I mean, to these people nobody is any good, nobody is any good, they all suck, they're all rotten people, Christians, real threat to America, bammo, here comes Newsweek. ... They are admitting they hire reporters that make up quotes, make up sources, basically lie, write bogus stories. ... But George Bush is saving American lives, promoting democracy and freedom in parts of the world that have never seen it before. Newsweek is trying to rile up the people who don't wish that to happen. I mean, I don't see what's so hard to understand here."

    And Rush accuses Newsweek of trying to rile people up?

    So... when can we expect the leaders of The Party to condemn these remarks?

    Rush's example is pretty much the way this whole thing is being portrayed at most right-wing news outlets and blogs, which means this is pretty much how most of America is hearing the story. They either state or imply Newsweek admitted that no one ever put a Koran in a toilet, which proves that reports of torture, etc. are all part of a media plot to harm the American government.

    More here,

    A media watchdog group . . . compared Newsweek's journalistic integrity to that of CBS News during the National Guard controversy.
    here,
    Kincaid said Newsweek's correction will never catch up with the original false report and that countless Americans may die as a result.
    here,
    Like Dan Rather and CBS News, Newsweek put politics and craving a scoop ahead of truth, not to mention ahead of America's security.
    here,
    "The charge here is that an erroneous report led to death. If that's what actually happened and can be causally established, then there is no more serious charge you can make against a news organization, and no more bizarre explanation from one," media analyst and "FOX News Watch" host Eric Burns said.

    Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee, said Monday that "Newsweek's behavior is not merely unfortunate, it is criminal."

    here,
    In its Koran story, Newsweek itself bought into shady assumptions, partly because of the media's dire view of the U.S. military.
    here,
    Disturbingly often what you find instead is liberal-tilting American reporters covering American war efforts with the same critical "detachment" Al Jazeera might bring to the task.
    here,
    Anybody with a little knowledge could have told them it was likely that people would die as a result of the article.
    here,
    This is not irresponsible reporting. This is manslaughter.
    here,
    The mainstream media is ideologically liberal and instinctually hostile to George W. Bush, U.S. foreign policy, and the American military.
    And this is just barely getting started. There is so much like this out there...

    Meanwhile Columbia Journalism Review' CJR Daily writes,

    What exactly has the magazine retracted? Most reporters, particularly on television, are reporting that Newsweek has retracted the allegation that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay. But that's wrong: The magazine has said only that it no longer stands by its claim that allegations of Koran desecration appear in a forthcoming report from U.S. Southern Command. That's a very different point. There have been numerous other reports -- mostly from detainees -- suggesting that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo did abuse the Koran.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:16 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Repeat

    I want to repeat this so everyone sees it. Angry Bear: 1,346 Days. Thursday is an important day.

    This coming Thursday, May 19, 2005, will be the 1,346th day since the attacks of 9/11. That is the same length of time from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the end of WWII on V-J Day. (Dec 7, 1941 to Aug 24, 1945)
    Think about that. Let it sink in. The same length of time as the entire US involvement in the Second World War.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:41 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Democrats Stand United

    Remarks by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Republican abuse of power:

    "The Majority Leader has stated that the Senate will turn to the subject of judicial nominations this week. Democrats are ready for this fight. We stand united against an outrageous abuse of power that would pack the courts with out-of-the-mainstream judges.

    The time has come for Republican Senators to decide where they stand. Will they will abide by the rules of the Senate, or break those rules for the first time in 217 years of American history? Will they support the checks and balances established by the founding fathers, or vote to give the president unaccountable power to pick lifetime judges? While Democrats are ready to debate this issue, I am deeply pained that we need to do so. The Senate in which I have spent the last 20 years of my life is a body in which the rules are sacrosanct. We may choose to amend the rules by two-thirds vote. We may enter into unanimous consent to waive the rules. But never before in the history of the Senate has a partisan majority sought to break the rules in order to achieve momentary political advantage. If this happens, it will be a short term win for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, but a long term loss for the Senate and for the American people. In an effort to avoid this confrontation and preserve constitutional checks and balances, I have made every effort to be reasonable. Last Monday I offered to have an up-down vote on Thomas Griffith, a controversial nominee to the D.C. Circuit. Last Thursday I offered to have an up-down vote on three nominees to the 6th Circuit, two of whom were filibustered last year. These are not judges Democrats would choose. But we know the difference between opposing bad nominees and blocking unacceptable ones. In making these good faith offers, I asked the majority: Do you want to confirm judges or do you want to provoke a fight? Regrettably, my proposals were rejected. Separate from these offers, I wrote to the Majority Leader last week and suggested two ways to end the impasse: n First, I made clear that my previous offer to allow an up-down vote on one of the four most controversial nominees remains on the table.

    n Second, I suggested that we consider changing the rules in accordance with the rules – if the Majority Leader were to put his proposal in the form of a Senate resolution and allow it to be referred to the Rules Committee, Democrats would take his proposal seriously and expedite its consideration.

    Neither of these good faith suggestions has been accepted, and it’s clear why. Republicans in the Senate demand to have it all. A 95% confirmation rate isn’t good enough. Votes on some of the most controversial nominees isn’t good enough. They are prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve total victory.

    Meanwhile, the White House appears to be pulling the strings.

    Several weeks ago the President assured me that he would play no role in this debate. Shortly after that, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove was quoted as discouraging any middle ground. Then Vice President Cheney gave a speech in which he encouraged the nuclear option. On Friday the Washington Times said that White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan “flatly rejected any talk of a compromise that would confirm only some of the president’s seven blocked nominees.”

    It’s disturbing that the White House is playing an aggressive role to discourage compromise. Every high school student in America learns about checks and balances. The Senate’s Advice and Consent role is one of the most important checks on executive power. The White House should not be lobbying to change Senate rules in a way that would hand dangerous new powers to the President over two separate branches – the Congress and the Judiciary.

    Of course the President would like the power to name anyone he wants to lifetime seats on the Supreme Court and other federal courts. But that’s not how America works. The Constitution doesn’t give him that power, and we should not cede that power to the Executive Branch.

    As the Majority Leader admitted during his debate with Senator Byrd last week, there is no constitutional right to an up-down vote on judicial nominees. If there were, more than 60 of President Clinton's nominees had their rights violated.

    In fact, the Senate has rejected hundreds of judicial nominations over the years, some by up-down votes, some by filibuster, and some by simple inaction. In each case, the Senate was acting within its authority under the Advice and Consent Clause of the Constitution.

    Senator Frist says he wants a Fairness Rule, but a rule allowing the President to ram extreme judges through the Senate is unfair to the American people.

    Meanwhile, we need to get back to the people’s business, and put the people over partisanship. We were sent here to govern, and right now we’re not doing that. Gas prices are up, families have lost health insurance, pension plans are unstable, and the situation in Iraq is grave. The Senate is fiddling, while Rome is burning.

    I will continue talking to the Majority Leader, and I know other efforts at compromise are under consideration. But unless cooler heads prevail, this confrontation will be upon us later this week. And if it comes to a vote, Democrats and responsible Republicans will vote to preserve checks and balances, and preserve the principle that the Senate rules must not be broken.

    The eyes of the Nation are upon the Senate. There have been few moments of truth like this one. The American people will see whether the Senate passes this historic test."

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:35 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 13, 2005

    One More Thing

    Expanding on the ealier President NotThere post, another thought occurred to me. What was President Bush doing riding his bike in a park at 11:00am on a Wednesday morning? As his employers, I think we should all be asking, WHY WASN'T HE AT WORK?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:52 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Name Him President "NotThere"

    A must-read. Daily Kos :: My Pet President?: Even More to the Story than you think

    So let's review. Washington's airspace was being invaded. Jets were being scrambled and defense grid was lit up. Laura and Nancy were rushed to the WH Bunker and, Dick Cheney split town in a motorcade that looked like it was headed to the Baghdad airport. and the city was placed in Full OMFG mode.

    While all this is going on GW is less than five minutes away even by bike from the absolute Nerve center of America's entire secure communications and electronic intelligence network. And nobody even bothers to tell him what's going on

    There's really no reasonable explanation for this except that his handlers made a deliberate decision to keep him away from the reins of power while the grown-ups handled the crisis. And this isn't the first time its happened

    The sheer magnitude and uniqueness of 9/11 obscured the fact that that's exactly what happened on that day too. Dick Cheney, not the president, was the Man in the Situation Room that day, the one who almost had to order a pilot to shoot down an aircraft full of people.

    What did George do? Well, we've never really been told, except that he was cooling his heels at an obscure air force base in BFE Nebraska. We've never seen any information that W made a single descision there except to put Cheney in charge.

    OK, so they were considering shooting down the plane, AND no one had told the President. So WHO was considering shooting down the plane, then?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 30, 2005

    Have the Democrats finally given up?

    My mother forwarded me an email from the Children's Defense Fund, decrying the Budget Resolution passed the night before... the following paragraphy caught my attention:

    The vote in the House was 214-211, and the vote in the Senate was 52-47. In the House, 195 Democrats, 1 Independent, and 15 Republicans voted against the conference report on the resolution. All those in favor were Republicans. In the Senate, 43 Democrats, 1 Independent, and 3 Republicans voted against the conference report, while 52 Republicans voted in favor.^[1]

    What's the first thing that strikes you about the numbers above?

    I'll tell you what stood out for me: the Democrats were UNANIMOUS in their opposition. Not a single defector. The Republicans were NOT. Think about it: George W. Bush has accomplished the impossible - the Democratic Party is now MORE UNIFIED than the Republican Party.

    You're probably wondering why the subject of this posting is "Have the Democrats finally given up?"

    Well, aside from baiting you into reading on in order to find out what kind of scurrilous attack on the Democratic Party that crazy Green Party guy is going to launch into this time[1], I refer you to the same posting Dave pointed to a few days ago: "An Opposition Party Opposses", by Chris Bowers on MyDD (hey, can someone please, please, please get them to fix the typos and spelling errors?).

    The title pretty much sums up the article's main point: the Democrats have more to gain by giving up on the idea that they have a role to play in governing the country (at least at a federal level), than by trying to pretend they still have the ability to make a significant impact on public policy at the national level. As Chris says, the Democrats are an opposition party right now, not a governing one, and they need to get used to that and play that role as effectively as possible.

    In other words, in this case, "giving up" is a good thing.

    [1] O.K., I couldn't resist: Open Letter to Howard Dean by Tom Hayden

    Katrina vanden Heuvel asks the following questions in her introduction to Tom Hayden's letter:

    I agree with Dean - a political figure I admire - that the war in Iraq has put the US in greater danger. But the question facing us today is who will speak for the millions of Americans who believe that continued occupation increases the danger? Who will speak for the millions who believe that the US has gotten bogged down in Iraq? Who will speak out against the (majority of the) Democratic Party's silent consent to the Bush Administration's Iraq war policies? Who will speak out about the wrenching human and economic costs of occupation? Who will speak out in support of a clear and honorable exit strategy? Who will make a clear, unequivocal declaration that the US will not maintain permanent military bases in Iraq?

    Memo to Katrina: the Green Party has been steadfast in it's opposition to the war in Iraq, and to the continuing occupation.

    To quote Sam Smith, in the Progressive Review ("THE BIGGEST MEDIA SIN"):

    WHICH AMERICAN political party best reflects the views of a majority of citizens on the Iraq war, environmental issues, health care, campaign financing, population growth, genetically modified foods, and marijuana use?
    The answer, based on various polls, is the Green Party.

    While Tom's letter doesn't represent a "mea culpa" on the level of Medea Benjamin's December 20th, 2004 comments in the Nation:

    MANY OF US IN THE GREEN PARTY made a tremendous compromise by campaigning in swing states for such a miserable standard-bearer for the progressive movement as John Kerry. Well, I've had it. As George Bush says, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me--you can't get fooled again."
    For those of you willing to keep wading in the muddy waters of the Democratic Party, all power to you. I plan to work with the Greens to get more Green candidates elected to local office.

    ... it still represents an acknowledgement that the loyalty of the "progressive left" is back in play. Matt Gonzalez for President in 2008, anyone? :)

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:29 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 29, 2005

    Bush Had Earpiece Again!

    Crooks and Liars caught it. Go watch the video clip. No question about it. And why wouldn't he? I mean, he was caught and the device was photographed yet he got away with it, so why not?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:54 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 26, 2005

    Federal funding for cities/counties now tied to NCLB.

    In the face of a growing backlash against the unrealistic and continually escalating demands imposed on local schools, districts and even state governments (in more than a few cases, lead by Republican-dominated states), the Bush Administration has apparently decided to up the ante for those choosing to resist: if your area's schools aren't meeting NCLB standards, the surrounding cities and county could possibly lose hundreds of millions in federal funding under a consolidated competitive community block grant program (which is already being cut by 35% as it is).

    More information about the Strengthening America’s Communities Initiative (don't you love how every single one of Bush's programs does the opposite of what it is called?) can be found on the Commerce Dept. web site... but when I took a look, all I saw was propaganda and bureaucratese. My life is too short to spend digging through this B.S. when obviously more interested parties have already done so.

    The article below arrived in my email box via one of the activist lists I'm on. As far as I can tell, the article (and the publication it came from, "Federal Grants & Contracts Weekly", Vol. 29, No. 18 April 25, 2005) are not available on-line, and subscriptions are $300+ a year. Therefore, I'm going to post it verbatim, under the "fair use" and "public benefit" provisions of copyright law (I've written the person who originally forwarded the article for a copy of the PDF version she sourced it from).

    Here's the money quote, from David Shreve, education committee director for the National Conference of State Legislatures:

    "The detail is not important here — what's important here is that they have put as a condition for being eligible for the competitive grants a requirement for the community to demonstrate schools are meeting AYP goals," Shreve said. "Any communities that even thought about going their own way [by with-drawing from NCLB] would not be eligible for some of the money."

    No kidding.

    Another excerpt (the full article follows):

    At issue is the president's Strengthening America's Communities initiative, which would consolidate 18 community and economic development programs, including the CDBG. The programs are housed across several federal agencies; CDBG is administered by the Housing and Urban Development Department. The president requested $3.7 billion for the new consolidated program, a 35 percent reduction in funding from all the programs combined, critics said. [My emphasis. -TL]


    Page 1: Bush would tie city funds to school progress under NCLB

    Local governments stand to lose hundreds
    of millions in economic development
    funding if their schools do not perform to
    the standards under the No Child Left
    Behind Act.

    Under the president's fiscal 2006 budget,
    counties and cities would be eligible for a
    portion of a new economic development fund
    only if their schools make adequate yearly
    progress under NCLB.

    Page 7

    Bush would tie city funds to progress under NCLB (cont.)

    The NCLB aspect of the proposal caught
    local officials by surprise, as they have been
    focusing their fight on preserving the 30-year-old
    Community Development Block Grants,
    which the president wants to consolidate into
    other programs.

    "Someone has to explain to me the connection
    between meeting the AYP goals and the
    need for community development," said David
    Shreve, education committee director for the
    National Conference of State Legislatures. "Can
    you afford to wait to improve your community
    until your schools improve, or is it something
    you need to do right away?"

    Funds hinge on NCLB

    At issue is the president's Strengthening
    America's Communities initiative, which would
    consolidate 18 community and economic development
    programs, including the CDBG. The
    programs are housed across several federal
    agencies; CDBG is administered by the Housing
    and Urban Development Department.
    The president requested $3.7 billion for the
    new consolidated program, a 35 percent reduction
    in funding from all the programs combined,
    critics said.

    Part of the $3.7 billion would pay for a competitive
    bonus grant program for low-income
    communities that have demonstrated "readiness
    for development," according to the budget
    proposal. The indicators for these "development-
    ready" communities include: schools
    meeting NCLB's AYP goals, reducing violent
    crime rates and regulatory barriers to
    businesses.

    Ed Rosado, legislative director for the
    National Association of Counties, said tying the
    funding to NCLB makes little sense because
    counties and cities do not directly control
    schools.

    "County governments don't have [direct]
    responsibilities in dealing with schools," he
    said. "How are we going to be graded when we
    don't have the ability to make changes to the
    school systems to qualify for the grant? It would
    not be a fair criterion placed across the board
    on all counties and cities."

    Sprouting effect

    It is unclear how much money local govern-ments
    could lose due to school performance.
    The Commerce Department, which would over-see
    the new initiative, is still ironing out the
    details of eligibility and funding distribution, a
    spokesman said.

    In box:

    NCLB a `good' yardstick

    Schools' success under the No Child Left Behind
    Act is a good measure for determining whether a
    community produces an educated workforce, said
    David Bearden, principal deputy assistant secretary of
    commerce for economic development.

    That's why NCLB is included as an indicator of
    "development-ready" community under the president's
    proposal, he said. "We think using the annual progress
    standard under NCLB is a good method of determining
    results."

    An interim advisory committee, assembled by the
    Commerce Department, will recommend specific
    eligibility criteria for funding distribution.
    Approximately $200 to 300 million of the $3.7 billion
    could be used for a competitive bonus grant; the
    majority of the funds would be distributed by a formula
    driven by poverty and unemployment rates, Bearden
    said.

    Regardless, local officials appeared more
    troubled at the prospect of NCLB expanding to
    affect the distribution of other federal funds
    outside of those administered by the Education
    Department than they were about how much
    they stood to lose.

    "The detail is not important here — what's
    important here is that they have put as a condition
    for being eligible for the competitive
    grants a requirement for the community to
    demonstrate schools are meeting AYP goals,"
    Shreve said. "Any communities that even
    thought about going their own way [by with-drawing
    from NCLB] would not be eligible for
    some of the money."

    County, city officials and mayors have
    publicly criticized Bush's economic development
    proposal. Now they fear NCLB will further
    prevent them from accessing these funds.
    Lelia Allen, housing director for Orlando,
    Fla., said the school system in Orange County
    faces many challenges in meeting federal and
    state standards. Last year, all but two high
    schools received grades of D or F under Florida's
    accountability system.

    Allen said she is "perplexed" by the president's
    proposal. Florida "has some very stringent
    requirements with NCLB," she added. "To
    tie [NCLB performance] to a funding source
    that creates safety and well being for children
    so they can learn better ... I feel I am missing
    something from the proposal."

    For more on the president's proposal, see
    www.commerce.gov/SACI/.

    Katherine Shek

    Sheck is a report for sister publicaton,
    Education Daily.

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 6:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 24, 2005

    Fetish?

    Atrios might have answered the question.

    Just speculation...

    Update - Digby asks Who Created Jeff Gannon?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 23, 2005

    Voting Machines Story

    At corrente

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Today's Question

    When did the fight over Bush's judges become a fight over "Christianity?" I think this reveals a lot more about the real agenda behind this takeover of the judicial system than we understood previously.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:59 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Jose Padilla Update

    Our friend The Talking Dog has an interview with Donna Newman, who's defending Jose Padilla (the "dirty bomber"). Her story is chilling. Apparently the government wants to keep Padilla (an American citizen) in jail indefinitely, without charges and without a trial.

    Donna Newman: When is the last time you saw a criminal defense attorney BEGGING the government to charge their client with a crime?

    There are so many bad things about the Bush administration that the civil liberties aspects tend to be forgotten. This kind of arbitrary exercise of power is exactly what the Declaration of Independence was talking about.

    Posted by John Emerson at 9:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 22, 2005

    Marla's Law

    [Not sure where to put this other than "News". -Thomas]

    "Marla often said that her dream job would be to work at a desk at the U.S. State Department dedicated to tracking civilian casualties caused by U.S. military action. What's needed is legislation to create such a desk. Congressional experts aren't yet sure whether it should be at State or the Pentagon or elsewhere -- something Marla closest friends on the Hill are working on now."

    Michael Shellenberger has a piece in The American Prospect entitled Marla Ruzicka's Legacy, where he talks about the political significance of her work - how she managed to get parties on all sides of the war, including active duty U.S. military, to appreciate the importance and value of accounting for the civilian lives lost as a result of U.S. military action. Peace activists and progressives, because it puts a human face on the cost of war, conservatives and military professionals, because they know that collateral damage increases the political cost of war and reduces the effectiveness of operations aimed at not only military, but psychological victory.

    He says, "no reason for progressives and conservatives alike not to get behind Marla's proposal for the U.S. government to at least track and study civilian casualties." He calls this "Marla's Law".

    The true cost of war, in Afghanistan, Kosovo, or Iraq, requires an accounting of civilians casualties. Marla Ruzicka gave her life to this cause, and her death and the publicity surrounding it creates an opening for such a law to be passed--especially given her ability to rally support for her work from both peace activists and military professionals, conservatives and progressives.

    If the blogsphere picks up on this and support for it is heard across the spectrum, Marla's Law could become a reality. If you're a conservative reader, check out this excerpt from the article, and write about Marla's Law on your blog:

    Military expert Arkin argues that there is no longer a contradiction between military effectiveness and civilian protection and that the military fully understands its direct and indirect affect of civilian casualties.

    "The United States' practice of stiff-arming civilian victims and ignoring civilian casualties has enormous negative consequences," he said. "We're seen as craven. We're seen as indifferent to civilian life. It harms our ability to operate on the ground."

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 8:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 19, 2005

    Victory in the "global war on terror" (GWOT).

    Steven Bodzin wrote a throughly depressing opinion piece for this Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle, headlined thusly:

    Fruitless pursuit of terror war’s endgame
    No one seems to know how to define a win

    In it, he describes his somewhat Kafkaesque and ultimately unsuccessful quest to find a single government document laying out the specifics of what "victory" in the "global war on terror" (apparently now reduced to the acronym "GWOT") would consist of.

    Nothing really new... but it is still unsettling to realize that our government's strategy in the "war on terror" essentially boils down to playing "whack a mole" with terrorism whereever it pops up.

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 10:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 18, 2005

    The War Snuffs Out Another Light In The Darkness: Marla Ruzicka

    "God bless her pure soul, she was trying to help us," said Haj Natheer Bashir, the brother-in-law of an Iraqi teenager Ruzicka was trying to evacuate to the San Francisco Bay area for surgery. "She was just a kind lady."

    I am furious, and very saddened. This miserable fiasco of a war and occupation has claimed two more lives of note, including someone I knew personally, someone who was making a difference in the world.

    Marla Ruzicka, the founder of CIVIC (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict), was the victim of collateral damage from a suicide car bomb aimed at a U.S. military convoy in Iraq (the irony of this is immense). The opening picture on the organization's home page is just as I remember her - a little blonde spitfire with bags under her eyes from not enough sleep. Faiz Al Salaam, the driver of the vehicle and CIVIC's lead staff member in Iraq, was killed in the same incident. You can read several letters from him on the CIVIC web in "Marla's Journal" - he and Marla were dedicated to the same cause.

    This is what Marla and Faiz were doing in Iraq: "working tirelessly in Iraq to help the many innocent victims of the U.S. invasion" (Alternet). Now, she has become one of them.

    I met Marla during Medea Benjamin's campaign for U.S. Senate in 2000, when I offered to host a fundraising event at my home. She was one of several smart and saavy young women who accompanied Medea everywhere she went, part of what I assumed was Medea's own personal form of affirmative action. We exchanged email several times afterwards, following up on various details, and I saw her name mentioned her and there afterwards. I am not at all suprised by what she accomplished in the ensuing five years, nor by where her life took her - she was clearly someone who was going to make a difference in the world.

    There is nothing profound in her death, nothing graceful that can be said to mitigate the utter waste of seeing a life cut short whose potential had only begun to be realized.

    CIVIC was founded out of Marla's desire to see the impact of U.S. military action (and aid) fully accounted for - our military does not keep track of the number of civilians killed and wounded as a result of its actions. Therefore, Marla's death will not be accounted for in any "official" statistic related to the war in Iraq - exactly what she was working to change.

    This needs to change. I ask you to honor her life, and work, by making a donation to CIVIC (this can be done on-line), and by writing Senator Patrick Leahy, the primary sponsor of legislation related to her work in Iraq and Afghanistan, and urging him to continue working on behalf of the innocent victims of war in Iraq and elsewhere.

    Dear Senator Leahy,
    I was one of the many people whose lives crossed Marla Ruzicka's path and were enriched by the experience. In her memory, I ask that you continue the work she started, attempting to ensure that the deaths of civilians killed as a result of U.S. military actions are fully accounted for, and that compensation is made beyond simple cash payments.
    As Marla no doubt made you aware, her death and that of Faiz Al Salaam, will be nowhere accounted for in U.S. government statistics about the toll of the war in Iraq. This needs to change, and I hope you can rally the support in the Senate and House to make it happen.
    The true cost of war cannot be measured without accounting for *ALL* the lives lost as a result of military actions.
    Regards,
    Thomas Leavitt

    Here is a list of links to various articles about her and her work that arrived in my mailbox along with the news of her death:

    COUNTING ON MARLA
    Tai Moses, AlterNet
    Politicians and government officials learned the hard way
    how relentless this sweet-faced girl, barely out of her
    teens, could be.
    http://www.alternet.org/story/21779/

    ONE OF A KIND
    Don Hazen, AlterNet
    To say Marla was unique may seem a cliche, but in my many
    years of political work and journalism, I have never known
    anyone quite like her.
    http://www.alternet.org/story/21777/

    REMEMBERING A FRIEND KILLED IN IRAQ
    Medea Benjamin, Kevin Danaher, AlterNet
    Marla Ruzicka was a bright, shining light whose work focused
    on trying to bring some compassion into the middle of a war
    zone.
    http://www.alternet.org/story/21778/

    MOURNING MARLA
    Jill Carroll, Christian Science Monitor
    Intrepid humanitarian aid worker Marla Ruzicka died in
    Baghdad Saturday when her car was caught in an insurgent
    attack.
    http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/21780/

    YOUNG ACTIVIST'S LIFE CUT SHORT IN IRAQ BLAST
    By Doug Smith, Los Angeles Times
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/iraq/la-fg-marla18apr18,0,6091685.story?coll=la-home-headlines

    BAY AREA TRAGEDY IN BAGHDAD
    MARLA RUZICKA, WHO LED HUMANITARIAN AID MOVEMENT IN IRAQ, DIES IN CAR-BOMING
    By Charles Buress, San Francisco Chronicle
    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/04/18/RUZICKA.TMP

    SLAIN ACTIVIST PRAISED FOR WORK IN IRAQ
    Associated Press
    http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/04/17/activist.killed.ap/index.html

    HUMANITARIAN GROUP FOUNDER KILLED IN IRAQ CNN
    http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/04/17/iraq.main/index.html

    ----------------------------

    MARLA RUZICKA, FOUNDER,
    CIVIC, Campaign for Innocent Victims In Conflict,
    http://www.civicworldwide.org/about.htm

    AT DEATH'S DOOR: AMERICAN WOMAN TRAVELS DOOR TO DOOR TO COUNT IRAQI
    CASUALTIES
    By David Wright, ABC News
    May 28th, 2004
    http://www.veteransforpeace.org/American_woman_052803.htm

    MARLA RUZICKA: 26 YEAR-OLD DOING 'THE RIGHT HUMANITARIAN THING'
    By Jane Ganahl, San Francisco Chronicle
    December 20th, 2003
    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1230-08.htm

    LETTER FROM IRAQ
    By Marla Ruzicka, AlterNet.
    November 6, 2003
    http://www.alternet.org/story/17135/

    HUMAN COST OF WAR
    BBC NEWS WORLD EDITION
    July 8th, 2003
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/3052726.stm

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 13, 2005

    Memos Prove Bribery

    DeLay Fundraising Plied Special Interests:

    Fundraisers for a political committee founded by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay routinely solicited donations by identifying legislative actions that prospective givers wanted, from video gambling to lawsuit limits, memos show.

    "What companies that you know of would be interested in tort reform in Texas with asbestos problems that might support TRMPAC?" one DeLay fundraiser wrote in a memo prospecting for donors to the Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (TRMPAC).

    That memo elicited an answer identifying several large companies and interest groups nationwide interested in lawsuit-limiting legislation in Congress and Texas, the documents show.

    [. . .] Other TRMPAC fundraising memos mention that Texas racetrack owners needed state permission for video gambling, that banks wanted new Texas home-lending rules and that energy firms wanted less regulation.

    Federal law and congressional ethics rules prohibit government officials from connecting political donations to their official actions. DeLay was admonished last year by the House's ethics committee for creating the appearance of connecting energy industry donations with federal legislation.

    [. . .] In 2002, a fundraiser's handwritten note appears alongside the name of a Texas racetrack owner who — along with other state track operators — wanted state permission to begin offering video gambling at the tracks.

    "Brings $1 billion. Polls 83 percent in favor," the fundraiser's note said.

    Weeks after that visit to the company's chief executive, track owner Maxxam Inc. contributed $5,000 to Texans for a Republican Majority. [emphasis added]

    There's more, but you get the picture. We have here a public official calling up big donors and saying "pay me and I'll work to get issue so-and-so passed." That is a bribe. As blatantly as Republicans do this, it is flat-out illegal -- prison-time illegal. These memos are proof that DeLay took bribes.

    (Through the appropriately-named Crooks and Liars)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:05 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Who, Again?

    This is pretty stunning, considering... : -THE CUNNING REALIST-: A Question Of Priorities....

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 12, 2005

    Woman to change her legal name to [gamblingcorporation].com

    Apparently, some lost and deluded soul has auctioned off her legal name on eBay to the highest bidder, in this case, a gambling entity well known for publicity stunts. I refuse to mention that company's name (or link to them) and thus encourage this behavior. If you are curious enough, I'm sure you'll be able to find more information on your own.

    Somehow, this bothers me even more than then plague of corporate sports stadium renamings ...

    (and what is signaled when such institutions are commoditized and the center of power shifts from community to corporations), or even that town in Oregon that (I think just temporarily) renamed itself to [a company now owned by eBay].com. Your legal name is an essential feature of your personal identity -- this woman will have to sign her name as "[publicityseekingcorporation].com" for the rest of her life, on her drivers license, all legal documents (wills, title papers), any public references to her must include it, etc. She just got a real estate brokers license - who in their right mind is going to take her seriously? "Call [corporatevultures].com to list your house today!" Sure. Not to mention how confusing it will be to have [deathoftheculture].com on her signs.

    This is the ultimate in intrusive advertising -- from now on, every single person who wants to interact with her, will be forced to also encounter and interact with the company who paid to change her name. The most intimate of personal interactions, an exchange of names, has now become commodified and branded. What was once sacred, is now profane.

    This is just wrong, wrong, wrong... it leaves me deeply disturbed; what point talking about resistance to corporatization of the culture, when people are so willing to let it invest the most intimate parts of their lives? Stuff like this used to be the domain of cutting edge science fiction, dystopian parodies of corporate commercial culture; I guess this shows that life will almost always trump fiction, eventually.

    What do you think? Am I over-wrought, or do you agree that this is a signal that something is seriously wrong with our culture, that we've allowed the corporate world far too much leeway to intrude into our personal lives?

    --Thomas Leavitt

    P.S. We really need a new category... maybe "Culture"?

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 10:01 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 10, 2005

    E-voting system decertified in P.A., determined unreliable and insecure.

    [The decertification report, by MIT's Michael Shamos, gives much more information about the failings of this particular system (Unilect's Patriot voting system).

    None of the failures cited in the full article would surprise any experienced IT professional - they are symptomatic of a system that was inadequately Q/A tested, whose UI was designed by engineers without input from usability experts, and which was never given a thorough security evaluation by a specialist. All of which is entirely normal in a typical commercial development environment constrained by budget pressure, all of which is entirely unacceptable when the context is public confidence in the voting system. -Thomas]

    04/08/2005
    County voting system invalid
    By: J.D. Prose - Times Staff

    BEAVER - The Pennsylvania Department of State said
    Thursday that Beaver County's $1.2 million electronic
    touch-screen voting system is unreliable and can no
    longer be used, even in the primary election that is
    only five weeks away.

    "Needless to say, we're all shocked by this finding,
    and we need to work our way through," Commissioners
    Chairman Dan Donatella said. County elections chief
    Dorene Mandity declined to comment, saying she had not
    yet read the state's report.

    In decertifying the UniLect Patriot system, Secretary
    of State Pedro Cortes cited concerns he had after a
    re-examination of it on Feb. 15 by Carnegie Mellon
    University computer professor Michael Shamos that was
    prompted in part by a petition filed by Beaver County
    residents.

    Cortes said in a five-page report that the Patriot
    system does not meet the state's criteria of being
    "safely and efficiently useable" in elections, or
    "capable of absolute accuracy." Cortes said the system
    is also confusing and difficult to learn, "displaying
    messages whose import is misleading or unclear."

    [... continued at the link above ...]

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 9:59 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 8, 2005

    Pneumatic-Hybrid Electric Vehicle

    [I couldn't resist. This is seriously cool. Not to mention the shivers of terror it must make run up and down your average oil mogul's spine. -Thomas]


    Car that runs on compressed air

    Wednesday, March 30, 2005 Posted: 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)

    (CNN) -- A Korean company has created a car engine that runs on air.

    The engine, which powers a pneumatic-hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), works alongside an electric motor to create the power source.

    The system eliminates the need for fuel, making the PHEV pollution-free.

    [...]

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:32 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 7, 2005

    America's Corporations: Credit Card Junkies Like The Rest Of Us

    I woke up this morning, picked up the paper(*) as I walked out the door, and found this: Triple-A credit rating takes corporate pounding, at the top of the Business section. Summary: Corporate America's credit-worthiness is at an all time low... far worse than in 1980.

    I think the author, by focusing on the near disappearance of AAA rated firms, misses the bigger story (a huge shift in the overall quality of corporate creditworthiness, and the number of firms with "junk" or near-"junk" grade credit). I'm also annoyed by the "spin" that this is merely a re-balancing of corporate priorities between bondholders and equityholders. Nevertheless, the article makes it absolutely clear that Corporate America is as debt-ensnared as any other sector of our society. I'm not surprised, but at the same time, I haven't seen this laid out so starkly anywhere before.

    This completes the triumvirate... every sector of our society (public, individual, and corporate) is massively overextended.

    Want more information... horrifying stuff? The Grandfather Economic Report, put together by Michael Hodges, has a ton of it.


    Did you know that America's total debt exceeds $40 trillion dollars (not counting unfunded liabilities of various sorts)? That's ~$136,500 for every man, woman and child in the country... and counting. Did you know that household debt as a percentage of national income has been soaring like a rocket, and that the ratio now exceeds 100%? Or that the percentage of equity Americans hold in their homes has dropped to 55%? (scroll down)

    Setting aside the author's political leanings (libertarian/limited-government), the overall picture he paints (very carefully documented and sourced) is pretty damned horrifying. Why isn't this the number one item on our elected representatives' agenda?

    The author also links to an article on the housing bubble -- the source is suspect (a Lyndon LaRouche associated newsletter), but the information in it is troubling, to say the very least... how deeply leveraged is the entire housing market? Is it vulnerable to a Long Term Capital Management style financial market meltdown (with far greater consequences)? If I had more time, I'd try and find more information from a less suspect source. Anyone care to do that, and post a link in a comment below?

    --Thomas Leavitt

    * Yes, I do subscribe... although only because I got a super-deal from the SF Chronicle last year at San Francisco Pride... $82 net for a full year's subscription after receiving a $50 Safeway Gift Card. I sincerely believe that part and parcel of being an informed citizen is subscribing to a daily newspaper... and yes, the Chronicle is a sorry ass rag, compared to the Los Angeles Times of my youth, but - it still keeps me somewhat in touch with the flow of the culture; not to mention putting the occassional very informative piece of information in front of me, and/or provoking me to dig deeper on a subject.

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

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