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Thursday, June 29

Flag-waving Senate Dems who voted to ignore your right to free speech:

Baucus (D-MT), Bayh (D-IND), Dayton (D-MIN), Feinstein (D-CA), Johnson (D-SD), Landrieu (D-LA), Lincoln (D-AR), Menendez (D-NJ), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Reid (D-NV), Salazar (D-CO), Stabenow (D-MI)


Wednesday, June 28


Op-Eds: The Latest from Floyd, Weiner, Ostroy, Clothier, Pringle, Mickey Z., Ireland, Miller, Partridge and Fisher

The Alchemists: Turning Blood Into Gold, Chris Floyd
This week an interesting story appeared in the Washington Post – buried on page 16, of course, lest anyone think it was of the slightest importance. It revealed that documentary proof has now emerged confirming the fact that in the spring of 2003, the Bush Regime – flush with its illusory "victory" in Iraq – spurned a wide-ranging peace feeler from Iran which offered "full cooperation" on every issue that the Bushists claim to be concerned about in regard to Tehran: "nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups." The offer was made through the Swiss Embassy....In other words, everything that George W. Bush says he wants from the Iranians now, he could have had for the asking – three years ago. What then can we conclude from the rejection of this extraordinary initiative? The answer is obvious: that the Bush Faction is not really interested in curbing nuclear proliferation or defusing the powder keg of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the regional and global terror that it spawns. ....

Despite it Being the Worst Military Blunder in U.S History, the GOP Sees Iraq War as Campaign Opportunity. Am I Missing Something?, Andy Ostroy
So what gives with the Repugs? They are now embracing the war whole-hog. What do they know about it, or its political currency, that's getting them excited about November? The answer is simple: as it was in 2004, it's all about lies, deception and fear-mongering. A masterful campaign to scare the bejesus out of Americans. It's Karl Rove's game plan, and it worked like a charm before. The question is, will it work again? The Repugs are banking heavily on it. Listen to the rhetoric; to the character assassinations. Close your eyes and it's '04 all over again. Witness the Swift-boating attacks on Kerry and Rep. John Murtha (PA), branded as "cut and run" cowards. Listen as VP Dick Chickenhawk warns that the Kerry/Murtha withdrawal plans tell the world that "Americans don't have the stomach for this fight" (a subject Mr. Five Deferments knows a lot about personally). Listen to the misuse and abuse of the word "terrorist." Throughout American military history, we've fought many types of enemies in battle: armies, rebels, guerrillas, insurgents. But since 9/11, and as a direct result of Bush's unjust invasion of Iraq, every enemy's a "terrorist" now. And this morphing process serves one purpose: to use 9/11 as a deceptive basis for, and justification of, the Iraq invasion. "Fight 'em over there so we don't have to over here," is the common Bushevik refrain. It's been over three years since the invasion, and we all now know that (a) there was no WMD in Iraq, (b) there was no direct connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda, and (c) Iraq had zero to do with 9/11. Yet it's astounding that the Repugs are back morphing the two, however overtly and/or subtly, in their quest to scare Americans into voting once again for their failed leadership.....

Flag Burning: Democrats cornered--again, Peter Clothier
I was dismayed, yesterday, Bush, to hear one of my senators whom I would otherwise want to respect--Diane Feinstein--blathering on ridiculously about the flag flying over the Capitol building, the flag flying over her house in Washington, DC, its protection for the future of this country...a stream of shameless rhetorical nonsense uttered with every appearance of sincerity. And then casting her vote for a constitutional amendment to ban the burning of the American flag--a phenomenon, Bush, that has not happened to my knowledge in the past thirty years. A constitutional amendment! What a sickening spectacle, Bush, to see our country's senators desecrating the floor of their historical chamber with such an absurd and meaningless debate. That in itself would have been bad enough. But to think that this senseless effort was defeated by one single vote! To what pitiful state have we fallen, Bush, when good government is abandoned to the game of politics?....

Fracturing the Bush Base: A Compassionate Approach, Bernard Weiner
My understanding of Buddhist practice -- big on compassion and understanding, small on coercion and retribution -- kicked in after watching Frontline's "The Dark Side" last week, the powerful 90-minute documentary examination of how the CheneyBush White House manipulated the country into war with Iraq. I wondered whether a shift in thinking about Bush and Cheney and Rumseld and the rest of the crew would alter the way I viewed them and the war. (By the way, if you missed the show -- the first such full-length documentary on a major network laying out the lies and deceptions -- it can now be seen online. Here's what I mean: Suppose one viewed the members of Bush&Co. as sincere idealists. They had been warned by the outgoing Clinton administration that al-Qaida was extremely dangerous, but it wasn't until the terrorist attacks of 9/11 that they woke up and, out of love of country, decided to do something about it. (Even if you don't think this scenario accords with the facts, I beg you to stick with me here, and see where this line of argument is going.)....

Crocodile Tears: U.S. and Human Rights, William Fisher
If you're into black humor, you might find it amusing that two of the countries with some of the world's worst human rights records are making international propaganda hay out of America's performance in prisoner abuse and civil liberties. For example, Saudi Arabia's Arab News, the largest English language newspaper in the Middle East, weighed in on the arrest of the seven Miami men accused of conspiring to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. In an editorial, the newspaper uses the arrests to observe that, post 9/11, 'Many Americans may overlook the increasingly draconian security measures being applied in their own backyard as part of the war against terrorism.' The paper asks: 'Will history record that Osama Bin Laden succeeded after all against his real enemies of liberty and freedom?'......

Big Pharma Research Racket Is Killing People, Evelyn Pringle
Over the past six years, ten FDA approved drugs have been withdrawn from the market due to deaths and injuries, leading lawmakers to accuse the FDA of not doing its job in protecting the public from unsafe drugs and to call for measures of improvement. On June 20, 2006, the New York Times reported that "two influential senators are expected within weeks to introduce a legislative proposal that could drastically change how drugs are tested and approved in the United States." The Senators behind the proposal are Michael Enzi (R-Wy), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the ranking Democrat on the committee.......

Iran's Gay Refugees Find A Safe Haven In Canada, Doug Ireland
Today's Toronto Star has a feature piece by David Graham on gay refugees, "Fearless in Canada," timed to coincide with the city's Gay Pride March, also today . The Star article profiles our admirable friend Arsham Parsi, human rights secretary of the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization (Arsham was recently granted asyluym in Canada; if you missed Arsham's moving speech at the June 13 dinner of Égale Canada, the country's national gay rights group, you can read that speech by clicking here.) The Star also takes a look at the plight of gay refugees from Iran and other countries where homosexuality is persecuted, and why so many have chosen Canada as their refuge. Says the Star:.......

"Strange Liberators": An interview with Greg Elich, Mickey Z.
first met Greg Elich more than two years when we were both speakers at the One Dance People's Summit. We've since become friends and I was proud to write the afterword for his recently released book, "Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit" (Llumina Press, 2006). As I stated in that afterword, Greg Elich has dedicated himself to skillfully unearthing and disseminating the information that typically goes unsaid. He provides us with the well-researched fundamentals we cannot and should not expect to get from our newspapers or televisions. Put another way, Elich is teaching us to identify the "gates" that restrict our freedom of thought . . . the gates locking us into a limited form of perception. I recently interviewed Greg via e-mail. Here's how it went:.......

Shut Up, Go Shopping, Support the War...and Nobody Gets Hurt!, Jason Miller
Remember Martin Luther King and his dreams? Recall how that hopeless idealist dared to conjure notions of the United States treating all people with equality and letting freedom ring? Recollect how he was murdered because he believed a better world was possible and courageously strove to make that world a reality? Sorry Dr. King. Your martyrdom was wasted. Your glorious dream is on life support and the prognosis is quite grim.

Until recently, dark clouds were gathering on the horizon for America’s ruling elite. Public opinion was rapidly souring against them. Less than 1/3 of their subjects favored their corporate welfare programs, shredding of the Constitution, eradication of the middle class, implementation of an official state religion, elimination of social programs, and endless war against a phantom enemy. But social conservatives, nationalists, wealthy elites, the Religious Right, the Neocons, Fox “News”, major corporations, and several other factions have “stayed the course”. Abandoning common sense and humanity, this loose coalition comprised of dogmatic devotees of imperialism, Social Darwinism, and American Exceptionalism manned the bulwarks to avert disaster in the November elections. What nightmare spurred them into action? .......

What About the Russians? Personal Encounters, Ernest Partridge
It is noteworthy that for the vast majority of Americans, "the Russians," like "the Germans" and "the Japanese" earlier, and "the Arabs" and "the Muslims" today, are perceived abstractly, as a collective gathered under a label, without faces or individual personalities. All the better to serve as "targets" in a war, either cold or hot. Even so, for several decades I wondered, "Just who are these people, as individuals, whom we are prepared to annihilate by the millions, as they are equally prepared to annihilate us? Surely, they too have families that they love, and friendships, joys, griefs, aspirations, and traditions, just as we do. And they must also have ideas to challenge us. Is our common humanity less important than the mutual antagonisms and mutual threats that separate us?" was to have my first answer in June, 1989, when I was invited to participate in a summer seminar on "Global Security and Arms Control" at the University of California, Irvine, sponsored by the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation......


Tuesday, June 27

Letters: Your endorsment of David Brooks article, based on a The New Republic hatchet job is a joke. Jason Zengerle of TNR has even had to admit that at least one Email he was slavering over was a forgery. Whether forged by Zengerle or his source is not clear. Clearly, someone has cooked this scam up. Read Zengerle's ungracious retraction in TNR.

Also, both the Zengerle and Brooks have bones to pick with Daily Kos over rough treatment they have received in the past over being lying Bush shills. Kos, king of the blogosphere? You have an anti-Bush blog, has he given you orders? The answer is no. Other liberal bloggers are snorting in distain at the suggestion that Kos orders them around.

Kos is among the people who are challenging the Democratic "business as usual leaders" who have lost both houses of congress and have let the Wingers take the momentum for the last 12 years. They need some shaking up, don't you think? Kos and Armstrong are targets because of their success. The proof is their current Swiftboating.

And, no, I'm not on Kos's staff, I just read his blog from time to time. I just hate to see Bushwatch reprinting Repug misinformation.

--David Flanders

***

Thanks, David, for your response to a piece at Bush Watch, our parody of a song by the Who, with the title: "Meet the New Boss, Too Much Like the Old Boss," in which we change the Who's statement, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss," echoed by Brooks as "The new boss is little different from the old boss." Clearly, we don't think progressive activist Kos is "little different" from Bush; that's why we changed our title. We also changed the Who's "don't get fooled again" to "we've been fooled again." The rest of the song belongs to the Who, but the literal context, of course, the use of the words "revolution," "constitution," and "boss," for example, makes it different.

Everytime we favor someone like Kos, someone who tells us that he holds certain beliefs that we approve of, but does not act accordingly, we've been "fooled." Bush is doing that to this country and both major parties are doing that as well. Non-journalist activist Kos is not in their league of duplicity, but he's doing what he can, as he has admitted:

"Ultimately, I trust you all to take what I write with the proper grain of salt, fully appraised of whatever conflicts of interest I may have."

This quote, by the way, is not "Repug misinformation," nor are the quotes that follow, but an explanation to his readers, posted as"Full Disclosure" on his website, the Daily Kos. Actually, the disclosure is not "full," since Kos refuses to specifically identify the "conflicts of interest" he says he has. Same as the old boss?

Your e-mail to Bush Watch was titled: "Kos Smear Repeated." That's absurd. Excerpts from Brooks op-ed piece on Kos is hardly "an endorsement of David Brook's article," as you write. Does that mean every time we link to another stupid statment by Bush, we are endorsing it? Of course not. As we write at the bottom of the page where you read our piece in question, "The views expressed herein and the views in stories that you are linked to are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Bush Watch." My view was expressed by the Brooks excerpt I posted as a context for the parody. The link to the full Brooks piece was provided as our usual documentation, and nothing more. However, as true progressives, we believe our readers are mature enough to read both sides of any story and decide for themselves. We're not an activist propaganda site, nor do we believe that everything the Dems do is good and everything the GOP does is, by definition, bad. Our public support of progressive values through journalistic principles and our condemnation of Bush goes back to early 1998, when Bush Watch was started as a daily news and opinion site. Few progressive internet sites can claim such longevity when it comes to criticism of Bush. Only Common Dreams and Online Journal come to mind. (For the record, we have always defined Bush Watch as an internet magazine, rather than a site for "bloggers" or a "blogsite." A distinction is attempted here, 4th paragraph.)

David, I'm unable to respond to the bulk of your letter, since you offer no specifics and most of what you write is irrelevant to what was posted at Bush Watch. (The Zengerlie story was about an SEC investigation. Our excerpt/parody was about a conflict of interest between political consulting and running a political website providing opinions.) Some background: For us, Kos' credibility was questioned in 2003 when we learned that Kos and his buddy Anderson signed a contract with the Howard Dean campaign. The record shows that statements by the management of Daily Kos about Dean have been favorable. This questionable relationship was disclosed by Kos on June 09, 2003:

"I've been on the road a lot the past few months. Some of it was for my day job as a web developer. But the bulk of it was for my new political consulting firm (alongside my partner). I spent this weekend in Burlington, VT, where we officially accepted work on behalf of presidential candidate Howard Dean. Dean joins a Senate candidate in our still small but hopefully growing roster of clients. Of course, this means many of you will accuse of me of certain biases (with good reason). That's fine. I never claimed to be free of bias....Ultimately, I trust you all to take what I write with the proper grain of salt, fully appraised of whatever conflicts of interest I may have. But for the record, I will not discuss my role within the Dean campaign, other than to say it's technical, not message or strategy. I will also not discuss any of my other clients, including their identities (I have non-disclose agreements to which I must adhere)."

As Chris Sullentrop wrote in Slate in 2005:

"Moulitsas' crime isn't taking money from Howard Dean. He, too, can get away with a suspended sentence for insufficiently disclosing his role in the Dean campaign once he was off the payroll. The hanging offense is that Moulitsas took money from other, undisclosed, political clients. And while he may have disclosed—in 2003—that he wouldn't disclose them, that's not good enough. DailyKos raised money for a dozen congressional candidates this past election. Which, if any, of them paid Moulitsas for the honor of directing his grassroots minions to part with their wallets? If you gave one of Moulitsas' preferred candidates money, wouldn't you like to know if Moulitsas' endorsement was purchased?"

David, ,you might recall that progressives celebrated when Bush appointed Henry Kissinger to the September 11th committee, but Kissinger was forced to decline becaue he had to refuse to divulge his client list. Shouldn't progressives demand the same of Kos?

That was the point made in the David Brooks excerpt that was reprinted as background to the song parody, "Meet the New Boss, Too Much Like the Old Boss." Not disclosing a client list and running a website that supports some candidates and attacks others is a conflict of interest and, for me, destroys Kos' credibility. For instance, Sullentrop, who seems to have become the New York Times' Boswell of the "blogger" political movement, recently wrote:

"The netroots movement for Iraq veteran Paul Hackett as a U.S. Senate candidate in Ohio “was shattered,” Scherer writes, “when Sherrod Brown, an outspokenly liberal seven-term congressman from Ohio, announced that he would run for the seat. Armstrong, who had been working as a consultant for Brown, encouraged an online rebellion against Hackett. Before long, [Kos] Moulitsas and other bloggers had abandoned their once-favorite son, arguing, along with Democratic Party leaders, that Brown was more electable.”

Then there's the recent KosCon in Vegas, where Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, a non-Progressive Centrist and another Anderson client, was escorted around by Anderson. According to Arianna Huffington:

"I'm hearing that Warner, being shepherded by Jerome Armstrong, the MyDD blogger and co-author with Kos himself of Crashing the Gate, has spent over $100,000 courting the netroots here in Vegas."

Here's what Kos later wrote: "Of course, this post will just get people whining that I'm carrying water for Mark Warner, and I've made no bones about the fact that I am intrigued by his candidacy and consider him one of the top candidates to watch..."

Here's what was reported in The American Prospect, a progressive website: "[Warner's] decision to use the Kos conference to increase his name ID and online profile was a shrewd political move for a little-known candidate, yet his politics, in the end, proved too centrist for many of the bloggers at the conference."

In other words, the bloggers who rejected Warner were, as you write, those who Kos supposedly represents: "the people who are challenging the Democratic "business as usual leaders"

"No wonder Sullentrop wrote on June 16,

"Many observers have pointed to the relationship between Moulitsas and Armstrong — they once formed a political consulting firm together, and they co-authored the recent book “Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics” — to explain why the antiwar Moulitsas speaks so highly of Warner, who is a blank slate on the Iraq war and who is affiliated with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council that Moulitsas claims to loathe....Warner’s nascent presidential candidacy is not the only instance online commenters have pointed to."

Finally, please note once more that the facts and opinions we have documented above are not, in your words, "Repug misinformation," even though both the facts and the opinions don't speak kindly for Kos' credibility. --Jerry Politex

In the new book "The One Percent Doctrine," Ron Suskind writes that C.I.A. officials referred to Mr. Cheney as "Edgar," as in Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, and that W. had to ask his domineering second to pull back a little at meetings and not offer him advice in crowded rooms so they could continue to pretend that Mr. Cheney was not the puppet-master. --Maureen Dowd, June 24, 2006


Monday, June 26

Sick Politicians: How Many Have To Die To Stop Bush And The GOP? (excerpts) , Bob Herbert

If hell didn't exist, we'd have to invent it. We'd need a place to send the public officials who are playing politics with the lives of the men and women sent off to fight George W. Bush's calamitous war in Iraq. The administration and its allies have been mercilessly bashing Democrats who argued that the U.S. should begin developing a timetable for the withdrawal of American forces. Republicans stood up on the Senate floor last week, one after another, to chant like cultists from the Karl Rove playbook: We're tough. You're not. Cut-and-run Nyah-nyah-nyah! But then on Sunday we learned that the president's own point man in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, had fashioned the very thing that ol' blood-and-guts Frist and his C-Span brigade had ranted against: a withdrawal plan. Are Karl Rove and his liege lord, the bait-and-switch king, trying to have it both ways? You bet. And that ought to be a crime, because there are real lives at stake....

The one thing you can be sure of is that the administration will milk as much political advantage as it can from this vague and open-ended proposal. If the election is looking ugly for the G.O.P., a certain number of troops will find themselves waking up stateside instead of in the desert in September and October. I wonder whether Americans will ever become fed up with the loathsome politicking, the fear-mongering, the dissembling and the gruesome incompetence of this crowd. From the Bush-Rove perspective, General Casey's plan is not a serious strategic proposal. It's a straw in the political wind. How many casualties will be enough? More than 2,500 American troops who dutifully answered President Bush's call to wage war in Iraq have already perished, and thousands more are struggling in agony with bodies that have been torn or blown apart and psyches that have been permanently wounded. Has the war been worth their sacrifice? How many still have to die before we reach a consensus that we've overpaid for Mr. Bush's mad adventure? Will 5,000 American deaths be enough? Ten thousand?...

Americans need to understand that Mr. Bush's invasion of Iraq was a strategic blunder of the highest magnitude. It has resulted in mind-boggling levels of bloodshed, chaos and misery in Iraq, and it certainly hasn't made the U.S. any safer. We've had enough clownish debates on the Senate floor and elsewhere. We've had enough muscle-flexing in the White House and on Capitol Hill by guys who ran and hid when they were young and their country was at war. And it's time to stop using generals and their forces under fire in the field for cheap partisan political purposes. The question that needs to be answered, honestly and urgently (and without regard to partisan politics), is how best to extricate overstretched American troops — some of them serving their third or fourth tours — from the flaming quicksand of an unwinnable war. --more


Sunday, June 25

Kossacks: Meet the New Boss, Too Much Like the Old Boss, The Who, with Jerry Politex

When the Dean campaign hired [Kos] and his co-author and onetime business partner Jerome Armstrong as paid campaign consultants, this was an appropriate sign of respect, and [Kos] did lay his hand of blog approval upon the Dean campaign...Sounding like Tom DeLay,...Kos says that those who crash the gates and take on the establishment are bound to be attacked. But the truth is that the new boss is little different from the old boss....

[Kos] often directs his wrath at the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. But the centrist Democrat Mark Warner has also hired Armstrong as a consultant, and [Kos] has graciously exempted Warner from the seventh circle of Kos hell....Chris Suellentrop, who writes the Opinionator column on TimesSelect, posted an item on June 16 noting the strange correlation between Armstrong contracts and Kos endorsements....[Kos] has challenged his enemy and become it. --David Brooks, New York Times, June 25, 2006

We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
Cause we've been fooled again

The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that's all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
'Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
Cause we've been fooled again

There's nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Are now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
Cause we've been fooled again
Yes, we've been fooled again
No, no!

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Meet the new boss
Too much like the old boss

'Toons: The Sunday Funnies, Bell, Tomorrow, etc.

Researchers have found it's deliciously tasty! (By Mark Fiore)
You Gotta Love That Conservative Humor! (By Tom Tomorrow)
What If They Stole an Election and No One Cared? (By Ward Sutton)
Rebalancing The Law (By Steve Bell)


Saturday, June 24

Class Warfare: Why Bush Ran Against Gay Married Terrorists (excerpts), Paul Krugman

So what's our bitter partisan divide really about? In two words: class warfare. That's the lesson of an important new book, "Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches," by Nolan McCarty of Princeton University, Keith Poole of the University of California, San Diego, and Howard Rosenthal of New York University....It's essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what's happening to America. What the book shows, using a sophisticated analysis of Congressional votes and other data, is that for the past century, political polarization and economic inequality have moved hand in hand. Politics during the Gilded Age, an era of huge income gaps, was a nasty business — as nasty as it is today. The era of bipartisanship, which lasted for roughly a generation after World War II, corresponded to the high tide of America's middle class. That high tide began receding in the late 1970's, as middle-class incomes grew slowly at best while incomes at the top soared; and as income gaps widened, a deep partisan divide re-emerged. Both the decline of partisanship after World War II and its return in recent decades mainly reflected the changing position of the Republican Party on economic issues.

Before the 1940's, the Republican Party relied financially on the support of a wealthy elite, and most Republican politicians firmly defended that elite's privileges. But the rich became a lot poorer during and after World War II, while the middle class prospered. And many Republicans accommodated themselves to the new situation, accepting the legitimacy and desirability of institutions that helped limit economic inequality, such as a strongly progressive tax system. (The top rate during the Eisenhower years was 91 percent.) When the elite once again pulled away from the middle class, however, Republicans turned their back on the legacy of Dwight Eisenhower and returned to a focus on the interests of the wealthy. Tax cuts at the top — including repeal of the estate tax — became the party's highest priority.

But if the real source of today's bitter partisanship is a Republican move to the right on economic issues, why have the last three elections been dominated by talk of terrorism, with a bit of religion on the side? Because a party whose economic policies favor a narrow elite needs to focus the public's attention elsewhere. And there's no better way to do that than accusing the other party of being unpatriotic and godless.Thus in 2004, President Bush basically ran as America's defender against gay married terrorists. He waited until after the election to reveal that what he really wanted to do was privatize Social Security....

So what should we do about all this? I won't offer the Democrats advice right now, except to say that tough talk on national security and affirmations of personal faith won't help: the other side will smear you anyway. But I would like to offer some advice to my fellow pundits: face reality. There are some commentators who long for the bipartisan days of yore, and flock eagerly to any politician who looks "centrist." But there isn't any center in modern American politics. And the center won't return until we have a new New Deal, and rebuild our middle class. --more


Friday, June 23

Bush Can't Get No...

The Imperial's Royal Suite is ranked among the top 100 hotel rooms/suites in the world. Mick, old Keith Richards, et al. will be ensconced amidst the Royal Suite's precious antiques, soaking up the atmosphere of old Vienna, while the leader of the Free World has to settle for lesser digs elsewhere in the city. The president's people apparently thought that Jagger would just hand over the suite when they asked him to. Now they're red-faced because they couldn't talk the unimpressed rocker into giving it up for the president. --Providence Journal

Bush can't get no satisfaction,
He can't get no Royal Suite action.
'cause he tried and he cried and he lied and he spied.
He can't get no, he can't get no....

When he's drivin' in his jet
He never hears a single "nyet"
And he tells the Mick to get
'Cause he's the pres'dent of some nation
Supposed to fire Mick's imagination.
Bush can't get no, oh no no no.
Hey hey hey, that's what Mick say.

Bush can't get no satisfaction,
He can't get no top digs action.
'cause he tried and he cried and he lied and he spied.
He can't get no, he can't get no....

When we're watchin' Bush on tv
And he's telling me
How great my life can be.
Well he isn't be the man 'cause he doesn't talk
Believable to me.
He can't get no, oh no no no.
Hey hey hey, that's what Mick say.

Bush can't get no satisfaction,
He can't get no Prez pad action.
'cause he tried and he cried and he lied and he spied.
He can't get no, he can't get no....

When Bush stompin' round the world
And he's doin' this and signing that
And he's tryin' to take Mick's flat
Mick tells him baby, come back next week,
'cause you're on a losing streak.
He can't get no, oh no no no.
Hey hey hey, that's what Mick say.

Bush can't get no, He can't get no,
Bush can't get no satisfaction,
No satisfaction, no satisfaction, no satisfaction.

--Mick Jagger, with changes by Jerry Politex


Thursday, June 22

Politics: The Nutty Demagogic Spin of Curt Weldon's Internal Gyroscope, Walter C. Uhler

Few people register higher on the index of self-important, blustering demagogues than Pennsylvania's Congressman Curt Weldon. Granted, he's a mere piker when compared with former congressman Tom DeLay, or such conservative propagandists as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly or Ann Coulter, but it's not for lack of effort. Called a "connoisseur of terrorism nightmares," who possesses the personality of a "blowtorch," Weldon likes to use props - a dummy nuclear suitcase, or a replica of a sarin gas dispenser, or a genuine Russian missile gyroscope - to bring theatricality to his Chicken Little histrionics.

But his "sky is falling" routine has a deadly serious objective; the hawking of so-called "indispensable" weapons programs, which, coincidentally, provide jobs for his constituents and business for crony defense contractors - for which they respectively reward him with votes and campaign contributions. In a word, it's the military-industrial-complex at its worst, the behemoth that President Eisenhower warned us about.

One Weldon is bad enough, but when Congress is loaded with similar (if less egregious) hucksters, the nation's security suffers. Why? Because, as Jonathan Karp has written in June 16, 2006, Wall Street Journal: "Five years after the Sept. 11 attacks changed American military priorities, the U.S. defense machine is still churning out weapons made for old-style, conventional conflicts, even as it needs new tools to battle terrorists and insurgents. One big reason is the sclerotic nature of the procurement process, in which the military, the White House, the defense industry and Congress fight for pet projects that aren't always in sync with strategic priorities." According the May 8, 2006, Philadelphia Inquirer...


Wednesday, June 21

Op-Eds: The Latest from Weiner, Ostroy, Pringle, Mickey Z., Ireland, Miller, Floyd and Fisher

Dems Need to Sharpen Up, Bernard Weiner
For the Democrats to win the upcoming midterm election, and the presidential election two years later, they must be, and must openly and consistently demonstrate that they are, street smart and aggressively on point with their base and able to draw as well from the middle (Red Dawg Democrats, disaffected traditional and moderate Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, et al.). But if Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire's commencement address to Evergreen's 2006 graduating class is any example of oppositional smarts, the GOP has little reason to worry about the upcoming elections....

BUSH'S SECRET ASSAULT ON THE WORLD'S POOREST AIDS PATIENTS, Doug Ireland
Ignored by the national media, and without a word of protest from the U.S. national AIDS organizations, the Bush administration -- behind closed doors -- has been secretly sabotaging the ability of the world’s poorest countries to produce or buy cheap, generic AIDS-fighting drugs. Here’s the background: Back in 2001, after a long fight against Big Pharma’s monopolization of the production of AIDS drugs, a World Trade Organization meeting in Doha, Qatar, agreed that poor countries should have the right to break the multinational drug companies’ patent monopoly on those drugs if they declared a national health emergency due to the AIDS pandemic. The U.S. was one of the 142 countries that signed on to this breakthrough agreement, under which poor countries could make their own AIDS-fighting medications cheaply, or buy generic versions of them from a country that produced them, thus bypassing Big Pharma....

Bush Election Theft Saga Heats Up In Ohio , Pringle
Ohio's Governor Bob Taft, and his partner in crime in stealing the 2004 election in Ohio, President George W Bush, have a lot in common. Bush holds the record for the lowest approval ratings of any President in US history, and at a whopping 26%, Taft holds the title for the lowest approval rating for any Ohio governor since the University of Cincinnati started the poll 25 years ago in 1981. And Taft's numbers are not likely to head upward any time soon. In what can only serve as another reminder of his conviction in 2005 on ethics charges, on June 13, 2006 the Ohio Supreme Court ordered Taft to turn over documents in response to a request by state Senator, Marc Dann, a Democratic candidate for attorney general, which Dann contends may help determine what happened to the money missing from state's Bureau of Worker's Compensation Fund....

Five Urgent Conversations About America, Mickey Z.
Summer’s here and the time is right for...escape? Just because most Americans are in search of harmless diversions and mindless distractions doesn’t mean the downward spiral we call "society" becomes any less urgent. We can turn off our televisions and shut down our computers but the war, poverty, oppression, and environmental devastation continues apace...with or without our recognition. Thus, if you agree that time is of the essence, here are 5 topics guaranteed to make you least likely to be invited to the company softball game....

Poodle Diplomacy, William Fisher
This week, four American Muslims will begin an eight-day, three-country tour of Europe. Three more teams of Arab- and Muslim-Americans will travel in the coming months to Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the South Pacific These “civilian ambassadors” have been recruited by Karen Hughes’s Public Diplomacy shop at the State Department to carry the message that “the United States welcomes all religions and rewards immigrants who embrace its democratic values with opportunities and freedom beyond their dreams.” They will attempt to refute the widespread view abroad that the Muslim-American community is under attack from the United States.

Nothing could be less true, according to one of the new ambassadors, a Syrian-American who immigrated to the United States in 1972. And Arsalan Iftikhar of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest U.S. group representing Muslim- Americans, says the American-Muslim diaspora is the most economically and politically empowered Muslim minority in the Western world and that information needs to get out so people will stop thinking that the United States is anti-Islam. No doubt these Muslim-American ambassadors have done well in the U.S. Nor is there much doubt that Muslims are better integrated into American society than are their counterparts in Europe. Still, this is going to be one hell of a hard sell....

The Bar is Set So Low for Bush That Anything Short of Drooling and Babbling is Considered a Monumental Success , Andy Ostroy
Repuglicans across the land are rejoicing over President Bush's alleged resurgence. "He's back," they say. "The Comeback Kid," they're calling him. One right wing columnist, Clark S. Judge, went so far as to say that "the president just had the best week of his second term, perhaps of his entire presidency...." and talks of Bush's "stunning new momentum" that's "proving a transformative success on the domestic as well as international front." Excuse me, but I seem to have missed the memo outlining Bush's big accomplishments this past week. As usual, the bar is set so low for this president that all he needs to do is show a pulse and we're supposed to declare a national holiday in his honor....

Exceptional Americans Manifest Their Destiny , Jason Miller
Contrary to the “catapulted propaganda”, Enron, Haditha, and Abu Ghraib were not isolated incidents or the work of a “few bad apples”. American savagery and oppressive behavior pervades our society and predates our nation’s birth. Building its patriarchal wealth on the backs of Black slaves and cheap labor while acquiring its territory through Native American genocide, predatory exploitation of non-Anglos, the poor, women, and the working class emerged as a pillar of America’s socioeconomic “success” before we even declared our independence....

The Bush Regime’s launch of the Project for the New American Century with the invasion of Iraq was not really out of character for the United States. While it was certainly executed with more blatant disregard for international law than America’s previous imperial endeavors, it typifies the American sanctimonious belief that it can do no wrong. George Bush was simply reiterating America’s long-standing mendacious rationale for its exploitative behavior when he stated:....

Black Pearls: Bush's European Gulag Confirmed , Chris Floyd
A few months ago, there was a brief bristling of feathers in the American corporate media about the possibility that the Bush Administration had set up secret prisons in Eastern Europe: new black pearls for the sinister gulag necklace that Bush has strung across the earth, where the captives seized, kidnapped, shanghaied, nabbed, snatched, disappeared – but never legally arrested or formally charged – in his Terror War are renditioned into limbo. Or even killed, as Bush himself has clearly implied in public statements, including the nationally televised State of the Union address in 2003: "All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way -- they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies."....

Where Are Our Heroes Today?, Ernest Partridge
It is impossible to fully appreciate the enormity of the crimes of the Bush Administration. Among them: That regime has initiated a war against an unthreatening nation, has caused the death tens of thousands of innocent civilians, has abrogated numerous treaties including the Geneva conventions that stipulate the humane treatment of prisoners of war, has tortured and murdered numerous prisoners, has held American citizens indefinitely, without charge, trial, and access to counsel in violation of several articles of the Bill of Rights, has “lost” to graft and corruption several billion dollars of public money, has looted the treasury and passed the public debt on to future generations, has taken and retained power through election fraud, and has in effect proclaimed the President above the law.

The opposition to Bushism is weak, inchoate, disorganized and unfocused. And it apparently is without a political party to advocate its message since, it seems, the “official” Democratic Party, with a few honorable exceptions within, is content to serve as a junior partner in what has effectively become a one-party state. So where, at this perilous moment in the history of the United States, are our heroes – men and women of moral vision, extraordinary courage and unyielding integrity, who will put their careers, their freedom and even their very lives on the line in order to put a halt to descent of the United States into despotism?...


Tuesday, June 20

Pariah President: Bush In Vienna, Heather Wokusch

It’s embarrassing to have a president who’s so universally loathed. Bush arrives in Austria today and will be greeted by scorn and widespread protests, not to mention Cindy Sheehan. Random posters have been up across Vienna since April, depicting Bush’s face and a German-language caption reading “A mass murderer is coming.”

How extraordinary that even when Bush visits allies abroad he’s not well received. He was heckled in the Australian Parliament in October 2003, and weeks later, lambasted for insulting the Queen when his security personnel trashed Buckingham Palace. He was greeted by hostile headlines and throngs of placard-carrying protestors in Ireland in 2004, then charged with torture by a legal activist group in Canada later that year. Bush encountered massive protests under the slogan “Not Welcome” in Germany in 2005, and faced banners depicting him as a devil, a vampire and a warmonger at the November 2005 Summit of the Americas in Argentina.

Bush is in Austria today for a brief US-European Union Summit plugged by the State Department as “combating an ideology of violence with a positive vision of freedom, democracy and opportunity.” Humorous in light of recent revelations that the CIA colluded with various European countries on the alleged kidnapping and secret transfer of terror suspects to countries that use torture.

But the show must go on. Expectations for Bush’s visit are low, however, and his farcical jaunt to Iraq last week didn’t help. The Iraqi Prime Minister wasn’t informed about Bush’s visit until five minutes before they met, proving that the supposedly sovereign government can’t even control who enters its country.

Bush said he visited Iraq last week to look Prime Minister Maliki “in the eyes” and determine his dedication to freedom - reminiscent of how Bush looked Russia’s President Putin “in the eye” back in 2001 to “get a sense of his soul.” But Bush won’t be practicing his mystical eye-looking quality in Vienna; the city’s under a security lockdown with huge sections cordoned off lest Bush come face-to-face with the growing hordes of angry protestors.

It’s hard to imagine where Bush actually is welcome. A Pew opinion poll released last week found that citizens across the globe are losing confidence in the US leader, with his approval ratings plummeting, for example, to 15% in France, 7% in Spain and a 3% in Turkey. Support for the administration’s militaristic policies has also dramatically waned, with majorities in only 2 of the 14 countries surveyed favoring the so-called war on terror, and similar majorities citing the US military presence in Iraq as a greater threat to world peace than Iran.

In other words, people around the world are beginning to understand that the deteriorating security situation in Iraq is linked to the sharp increase in global terrorism – and a potential threat to their own safety. And they wouldn’t be heartened by Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) April 2006 assessment of National Counterterrorism Center data, which found an increase of over 5,000% in the number of global terrorist attacks and over 2,000% in the number of terrorist-related deaths in the three years following the US invasion of Iraq. Yet the administration says the war on terror is making us safer.

It’s troubling that as international disapproval of Bush and his administration’s policies increases, so does anti-Americanism in general; the Pew poll found that “favorable opinions of the United States” have plummeted since last year in the majority of the 15 countries it surveyed, including in Germany, Russia and India.

So perhaps it’s fitting that Bush is now visiting Austria, a country which at one point was a powerful empire controlling lands as far flung as Mexico, but today fights to have its voice heard on the world stage. The lesson is clear: Imperialistic overreach and its requisite focus on military power can eventually make the mighty crumble.

Heather Wokusch is a free-lance writer based in Austria and can be reached via her website: www.heatherwokusch.com. She’s been on an extended book-writing sabbatical, but will be back to blogging in the autumn of 2006.


Monday, June 19

2006: Dumb Dems: Finding New Ways To Lose (excerpts), Frank Rich

2006? The war is going so badly that it's hard to imagine how the Democrats, fractious as they are, could fail, particularly if the Republicans insist on highlighting the debacle, as they did last week by staging a Congressional mud fight about Iraq on the same day that the American death toll reached 2,500. As the Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio wittily observed in April: "The good news is Democrats don't have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one." Actually, though, the Democrats did have some plans, all of them now capsizing. The biggest was the hope that they could be propelled into power by their opponents' implosions. But Mr. Rove was not indicted. And the "culture of corruption" has lost its zing. Tom DeLay is gone, Duke Cunningham is in jail, and many Americans can't differentiate between Jack Abramoff, the Indian casino maven, and William Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat who kept $90,000 of very cool cash in his freezer. On the war, Democrats are fighting among themselves or, worse, running away from it altogether....

While the Democrats dither about Iraq, you can bet that the White House will ambush them with its own election-year facsimile of an exit strategy, dangling nominal troop withdrawals as bait for voters. To sweeten the pot, it could push Donald Rumsfeld to join Mr. DeLay in retirement. Since Republicans also vilify the defense secretary's incompetence, his only remaining value to the White House is as a political pawn that Mr. Rove can pluck from the board at the most advantageous moment. October, perhaps? What's most impressive about Mr. Rove, however, is not his ruthlessness, it's his unshakable faith in the power of a story. The story he's stuck with, Iraq, is a loser, but he knows it won't lose at the polls if there's no story to counter it. And so he tells it over and over, confident that the Democrats won't tell their own. And they don't — whether about Iraq or much else. The question for the Democrats is less whether they tilt left, right or center, than whether they can find a stirring narrative that defines their views, not just the Republicans'.

What's needed, wrote Michael Tomasky in an influential American Prospect essay last fall, is a "big-picture case based on core principles." As he argued, Washington's continued and inhumane failure to ameliorate the devastation of Katrina could not be a more pregnant opportunity for the Democrats to set forth a comprehensive alternative to the party in power. Another opportunity, of course, is the oil dependence that holds America hostage to the worst governments in the Middle East. Instead the Democrats float Band-Aid nostrums and bumper-sticker marketing strategies like "Together, America Can Do Better." As the linguist Geoffrey Nunberg pointed out, "The very ungrammaticality of the Democrats' slogan reminds you that this is a party with a chronic problem of telling a coherent story about itself, right down to an inability to get its adverbs and subjects to agree." On Wednesday Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were to announce their party's "New Direction" agenda — actually, an inoffensive checklist of old directions (raise the minimum wage, cut student loan costs, etc.) — that didn't even mention Iraq. Symbolically enough, they had to abruptly reschedule the public unveiling to attend Mr. Bush's briefing on his triumphant trip to Baghdad.

Those who are most enraged about the administration's reckless misadventures are incredulous that it repeatedly gets away with the same stunts. Last week the president was still invoking 9/11 to justify the war in Iraq, which he again conflated with the war on Islamic jihadism — the war we are now losing, by the way, in Afghanistan and Somalia. But as long as the Democrats keep repeating their own mistakes, they will lose to the party whose mistakes are, if nothing else, packaged as one heckuva show. It's better to have the courage of bad convictions than no courage or convictions at all. --more


Sunday, June 18

Sunday Funnies, Bell, Tomorrow, etc.

Bush Visits Baghdad (By Steve Bell)
Terrible Trio Reacts To Gitmo Suicides (By Martin Rowson)
Bush's Plan: Ban Gay Marriage and Iraq Will Be Won! (By Mark Fiore)
The Right to Outlaw Gay Illegal Immigrant Mexican Muslims (By Ward Sutton)
Our Latest Reason for Invading Iraq (By Tom Tomorrow)

Politics: Why Do 33% Of Americans Still Like Bush?, Trebor Chram

Whenever I watch a TV news show on a conservative station like FOX, I hardly ever hear any positive attributes about George Bush.  I do hear some on the side of religion, as he politically shows support for their major causes regarding abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, etc. Also some say that his tax cuts (they don't say "to the wealthy") promote increase in business and employment.  

However, most of the time when I read, watch or listen to these right wing pundits, they spend their time, 1, defending Bush from some recent catastrophe, or 2. attacking "unpatriotic" Democrats and Liberals who have spoken out against their leader.  In most cases they will use degrading adjectives to describe their enemies.  They will call them wimps, unpatriotic, and then some down and dirty words I don't like to use.

Hardly ever do I hear, read or watch them debate the problem at hand.  In fact, it's as if there is no problem.  

They act as if all is going well in Iraq, Bush had nothing to do with the Katrina/FEMA problems, Bush does not approve of torture,  The U.S. does not send detainees to secret prisons to be tortured.  It's ok to hold detainees for years without the benefit of judicial process since they are "enemy combatants" and not "prisoners of war". And the latest reason for this war is about regime change and democracy for Iraq - not WMDs.

If 33% of Americans believe President George W. Bush is doing a good job, the question I ask is. "Why do these Americans like him?"

In my opinion, the reasons are varied.

1.  Many of these people must be hard-core Conservatives or Republicans, following their leader "right or wrong".  

2.  The ones who are conservatives and Republicans probably love him because the left hates him.  They elected Bush.  Bush is a Republican.  Liberals and Democrats hate him. So, they support him.  They don't make mistakes when electing their leader.

3.  In this 33%, you have the very wealthy that may not even care if Bush is a Republican or a Democrat.  All they care is that Bush gives them large tax cuts.  These are people who believe in being rich no matter what and the more money they get from their president, the more they love him.  As long as the war and his other agenda does not hit them negatively, they want him to remain in power.  This is the same group throughout the world that always supported right wing dictatorships.  These dictators were smart enough not to disrupt property and wealth of the upper classes, so they remained happy and never complained.

4.  Even today, many in this 33% still believe the Bush Administration propaganda infused in them through the media before the war that Saddam and Iraq were directly involved in 9/11 and that Saddam was an imminent and direct threat to the United States.  Bush defended them from this tyrannical dictator and now protects them during his war on terror.  They see the Democrats as being weak in protecting this nation against the evil empires.  They believe most of what the propaganda media of FOX News and other major conservative newspapers and radio pundits tell them. Many of these are the ones that see themselves back in the Wild West with a Texas Sheriff  who single-handed hunts down criminals before they even commit any crimes.  Since he is protecting them, these citizens don't mind if he tortures these possible criminals. if he holds them in his jail without telling anyone and without judicial protection.  

5.  Bush is known as a born-again-Christian and as such can do no wrong in the eyes of fundamental Christian groups in this country.  Although we cringe when we hear Arab countries that want to follow the Islamic Sharia Law in their governments because of the pain and suffering and death it causes their citizenship, many Christians in this country would like to infuse Christianity and religion into government and laws of the US.  Bush pleases this group by citing his religious beliefs by claiming to be against abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, and by approving of government funding for religious charities.  Just when he was loosing some of this support, prior to the coming November elections, he proposed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages.  He knew there was no wide support for approval of this amendment, but that was not his goal.  His intention was to win back some of the religious support he may have lost by not doing more  for Christian groups during his five years in office.  It doesn't hurt whenever he mentions that he speaks to God and that God has guided him in his work.

6.  There is a percentage of people in this country and part of this 33% that are basically ignorant.  Not stupid, but just ignorant of what is going on around them politically.  They would even support Bush if he were a Democrat.  These are people who have generally good-paying jobs and feel secure.  They have some leisure time.  They don't have major money problems.  They read mainly the headlines and don't dig any further into the news.  They don't hear or believe that people suffer in this country from hunger or from lack of medical services.  They don't hear or care about suffering around the world or those wounded or dead from wars, famines, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.  They have it good.  They pay their taxes.  The Patriot Act  or the NSA wiretaps don't affect them as "they have nothing to hide". They don't break the laws in their towns.  There are no gays in their immediate circle.  Socially, most of them are a homogeneous group.  None of their children are fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan.  If it's not broken, don't fix it.

7.  Finally, there is also a group that is very respectful of authority, no matter if good or bad.  They are the ones I would categorize as stupid or brain-washed.  These believe if someone is elected to be the President of the great nation of the United States, they can do no wrong.  Anything this president does is only for the good of its citizens.  This president is honest, able and has no personal gain in this job.  He is only there for you.  If he attacks, it's because he is right in attacking.  If he tortures, it's because he is defending us.  He would never hurt us.  He, after all, works for us and he does our bidding.  He loves us like a father.

Trebor Chram identifies himself as "a liberal Florida resident who 'woke up' when the Bush nightmare was unfolding." This article first appeared in Planet of the Chimps.


Saurday, June 17

Politics: Bush's Baghdad Stunt, Walter C. Uhler

While reading about the exploits of Emperor Bush, who bravely flew in to war-torn Baghdad, Iraq and spent a whole six hours there without even providing the usual notice to, let alone securing the necessary approvals from, its so-called "sovereign" government, I was reminded of the remarkable words spoken to author Ron Suskind by a senior Bush advisor in the summer of 2002.

Denigrating Mr. Suskind (and those of us like him), for believing "that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality," the advisor boasted: "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Had I been Suskind at that moment, I would have asked: "Have you ever read Tolstoy's War and Peace?" It was precisely that novel, after all, that examined how the bold and brash Napoleon Bonaparte -- "history's actor" writ large - saw his European empire disintegrate after attempting to create reality against a seemingly backward army of Russian peasants, led by a modest, unassuming General Kutuzov.

Today, it's not Russian peasants, but those so-called "sand niggers" (as the racists in our military label them) in Iraq, who have compelled -- I repeat, "compelled" -- "history's actors" to act in ways they never foresaw. After all, who could have foreseen that this American President - the fool who, from the safety of some 6,200 miles from Iraq's battlefields, once urged Iraqi insurgents to "bring 'em on," and who once proclaimed "mission accomplished" -- would find himself flying furtively into Baghdad to forestall his party's electoral defeat in November and his probable impeachment thereafter. "History's actors," indeed!

Yet, it was precisely in the late summer of 2002 -- nearly a year before Iraq's insurgents began to have their say in the matter (and before most of the world came to despise us) - when "history's actors" went public with a battery of carefully planned schemes, spearheaded by exaggerations and lies, that were designed to reshape the entire Middle East.

Although Bush did let slip to Bob Woodward that he "didn't feel the sense of urgency" about Osama bin Laden prior to al Qaeda's attacks on 9/11, "history's actors" couldn't possibly admit to the American public that their pre-9/11 obsessions about national missile defense and regime change in Iraq blinded them to the "blinking red" intelligence of an impending attack. Instead, for fear that the "discernible reality" of their ideologically inspired negligence might soon be exposed, "history's actors" cynically invoked the carnage from their 9/11 negligence to justify urgent pursuit of national missile defense, but also something new -- a military invasion to secure regime change in Iraq.

To drum up popular support for a military invasion, however, "history's actors" had to deceive the American public about the "grave threat" posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda. Deceive the American public? Yes! When Vice-President Cheney told the audience at the VFW's 103rd National Convention (on August 26, 2002): (1) that Iraq had "been very busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents" and (2) "Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons," he cited the first-hand evidence provided by the defector, Hussein Kamal Hassan. And, indeed, Kamal did admit to such programs. But, somehow, for reasons yet to be established, Cheney failed to tell his audience was that Kamal also asserted (correctly, it now appears): "All weapons - biological, chemical, missile, nuclear - were destroyed."

Deceive the American public? Yes! When Condoleezza Rice told Americans in early September 2002 that Iraq's aluminum tubes could "only" be used in its nuclear program, she already knew that officials in the Department of Energy doubted that the tubes were for such use. She appears to have used the word "only" intentionally, in order to more effectively scare Americans with the specter of a "mushroom cloud."

Deceive the American public? Yes! The Bush administration repeatedly attempted to foist the canard about Iraq's attempt to purchase uranium from Niger on the American public, notwithstanding doubts by its own Intelligence Community (IC). So, to circumvent those doubts, in January 2003 President Bush simply told Americans that the British government had learned that Iraq "had recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Yet, soon thereafter, the International Atomic Energy Agency authoritatively demonstrated that the evidence for uranium from Niger had been forged.

Americans not beyond the pale - that is, Americans who are not irredeemably slathered with the jingoistic slime oozing from skanky blond intellectual harlots or talk radio loudmouths recovering from drug addiction - should keep all this evidence in mind whenever officials from the Bush administration attempt to shift sole blame for bogus intelligence on to the intelligence agencies. In fact, the Bush administration hyped the faulty intelligence about WMD.

Even more egregious, however, were the pure fabrications about Iraq's pre-war ties to al Qaeda, which "history's actors" foisted upon so many unwitting Americans. As I've recently demonstrated - see my extensively documented article, "'Fixed' Intelligence from Feith's 'Gestapo Office,' the CIA and the Bush Administration's Impeachable Lies about Iraq's Links to al Qaeda" (at Walter C. Uhler.com) - the Bush administration ignored five bona fide reports from the IC, each of which doubted such ties, in order to propagate bogus and biased "intelligence" concocted by Douglas Feith's rogue Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group.

Thus, when Mr. Cheney said we have reporting that places Mohammed Atta in Prague with "a senior Iraqi intelligence official," he obtained that information from Feith's group. In fact, Cheney wrote in the margins of one of Feith's reports: "this is very good…Encouraging…Not like the crap we are all so used to getting out of the CIA." Again, keep that quote in mind the next time you hear an official from the Bush administration blame the IC for all the bogus intelligence.

Finally, when Defense Secretary Rumsfeld claimed to have "bulletproof" evidence of links between Iraq and al Qaeda, that evidence must have been supplied by Feith's group; if only because the five bona fide IC reports submitted to the Bush administration expressed doubts about any significant ties.

Unfortunately, the deceit about Iraq's ties to al Qaeda continues to this day. Speaking to the troops, while holed up in "sovereign" Iraq's Green Zone, Mr. Bush once again made a shameless attempt to connect the origins of his illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq with al Qaeda's attacks on 9/11.

Simply read the following assertion: "You know, right after September the 11th, I knew that some would forget the dangers we face, some would hope that the world would be what it's not: a peaceful place where people wouldn't want to do harm to those of us who love freedom. I vowed that day, after September the 11th, to do everything I could to protect the American people. And I was able to make that claim because there were people such as yourselves, who are willing to be on the front line in the war on terror."

Left unstated, of course, was the fact that Iraq only became the "front line" after America unleashed its unprovoked invasion. Need I repeat that five IC reports doubted any significant pre-invasion ties between Iraq and al Qaeda?

Moreover, Bush could not possibly tell his troops that Iraq's insurgents had fought them to a stalemate. Neither could he admit that the primary beneficiary from his war has been Iran, or that, as 86 of 100 leading American foreign policy experts recently concluded, the war in Iraq had caused the world to become more, not less, dangerous.

Yet, beyond these obvious disasters, Bush's deceitful conflation of Iraq with 9/11 continues to cynically toy with the minds of too many patriotic Americans. Simply consider Walter Lippmann's observation that "the more untrained a mind, the more readily it works out a theory that two things which catch its attention at the same time are causally connected." Then consider the February 28, 2006 Zogby Poll of U.S Troops in Iraq, which found that almost 90% of those troops believe that the invasion of Iraq is in retaliation for Saddam's role in 9/11.

It was disgraceful enough to have manipulated the untrained minds of countless American civilians in order to become "history's actor" in the Middle East, but it is nothing short of unconscionable to continue to send soldiers to kill and be killed in an unwinnable war for the sake of a politically inspired stunt and yet more deceit. Next time, stay home.


Friday, June 16

Bush World: Living In A Pseudo Democracy, Jerry Politex

What we're experiencing today is an example of living in a pretend democracy. Baased on the polls, it's clear that the voice of the people is not being heard on such matters as war and the economy. But under our two party system nothing can be done about it for another two years. Bush can continue his wrong-headed policy making because he knows that he presently has much greater control over Congress, the Supreme Court, and the mainstream media than the weakened and split Democratic Party. And who else is going to stop him, a third party? Don't make me laugh. Third parties in this country serve as spoilers on the national level, and never get to actually sit at the tables of federal power. That's why we need to gradually shift to a parliamentary demnocracy, where third parties play an actual part in federal governing. The largest party has to form a coalition government in order to exist, and the ruling government can be recalled by the people at any time. Don't look for this to happen anytime soon. The GOP and the DEMS are more interested in their power, not the power of the people. If we had such a parliamentary democracy in place, Bush would be out by now.

The weakness of our system of including third parties is identified in a recent Thomas Friedman column in the New York Times:

"Historically, third parties arise in America when they seize a neglected issue and demonstrate that there is a real constituency for it," said Micah Sifry, author of "Spoiling for a Fight: Third-Party Politics in America." "They win by forcing that issue into the mainstream — even if the party itself is later forgotten. Conditions certainly seem ripe for such a third-party bid today." But rather than artificially splitting the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, Mr. Sifry added, "a successful third party has to get in front of both — with an agenda that inspires hope and with leadership that inspires trust. Fear of a dark future isn't the best motivator; hope for a better one is."

In this world of spin, lies, and deception by both major parties, does that give you hope for the future? Not to me.

Then there's the economy. Would a leader under a parliamentary system be allowed to systematically rape the country in the name of the wealthiest 1% and get away with it? I think not. Again, Bush depends upon Congress, the Supreme Court, and the mainstream media to sell his agenda of economic destruction. For example, it's amazing to me how many citizens actually believe the economy is presently sound, as we pile up over one and one-half trillion dollars in debt, a debt that will eventually drown the country in Grover Norquist's tub, if we continue to follow the Bush economic agenda.

Another piece in the New York Times, this one by Paul Krugman, points out the lie of a Bush economy that only benefits the wealthiest. The workers' plight would have been corrected a long time ago in a true democracy:

"The distinctive feature of the current economic expansion — the reason most Americans are unhappy with the state of the economy, in spite of good numbers for the gross domestic product and explosive growth in corporate profits — is the disconnect between rising worker productivity and stagnant wages. Over the past five years productivity, as measured by real G.D.P. per hour worked, has risen by about 14 percent, but the real wages of nonmanagerial workers have risen less than 2 percent. Nor is there much sign that things are changing on that front. The official unemployment rate is low by historical standards, but workers still don't seem to have much bargaining power. (Does this mean that the official unemployment rate makes the job situation look better than it really is? Yes.) The Federal Reserve's Beige Book, an informal survey of economic conditions across the country, reports that over the last couple of months "wage pressures remained moderate over all, with the exception being workers with hotly demanded skills." But if wage pressures are so moderate, where's the inflation coming from? The answer is soaring oil and commodity prices."

Think back some months. While the minimum wage has stagnated for years, who was given millions of dollars in federal aid? Right, the oil companies. After such a move by Congress, with Bush's approval, do you think the Bush government would have stayed in power in a parliamentary democracy? I doubt it. Statistics clearly show that what we've seen during Bush's terms is a dramatic shift of money from our poorest citizens to our richest...Then there's the fact, as described by M. Mayer in yesterday's article, that our debt is so great the foreign countries are unloading their increasingly worthless dollars by buying up our infrastructure and many of our key companies....Don't get me started.


Thursday, June 15

Bush Bust: Bush Is Destroying Our Futures To Service His Needs, M. Mayer

Our appetite for imported goods throws some $600 billion to $700 billion a year into the hands of foreign suppliers. The businesses that receive these dollars have two fundamental choices about what to do with them: spend or invest them in the United States, or convert them into their own local currency. Exporters to America who keep the dollars and use them for American purchases and investments create what economists call an autonomous flow of funds back to the United States, financing the American trade deficit with an American investment surplus.

This produces the argument most closely associated with the new Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke (though Alan Greenspan believed it, too), that our trade deficit is caused by a surplus of savings that can't be profitably invested in the home countries of our trading partners. Financing for our trade deficit comes before — and actually causes — the deficit itself. If instead of investing their dollars in the United States, foreign exporters want to take the proceeds of their sales in their own currency, their central banks will in effect sell them that currency for their dollars. Back in the late 1960's, when Great Society deficits and the Vietnam War prompted the first serious sell-off of dollars (and forced the United States to abandon the gold standard because too many holders of dollars, led by President Charles de Gaulle of France, wanted gold), those central banks lent those dollars into the new Eurodollar market, where they traded somewhat separately from domestic dollars. This created a nightmarish prospect of the United States losing control of its own currency, and in 1971 the Fed chairman, Arthur Burns, negotiated a deal with the European and Japanese central banks. The deal was that they would return to America the dollars they acquired in their own economies, and the Fed would invest the money on their behalf, in absolutely safe government securities, without charge and at the best rates.

Today, the Fed continues as custodian of the "foreign official holdings" of such government obligations. During the Clinton administration, the Fed agreed to invest in federally guaranteed housing securities for those foreign central banks that wanted a better yield on their dollar reserves than they would get from government bonds, and now more than half a trillion dollars of the total official holdings are invested in agency paper. Foreign official holdings of government paper is a miner's canary number. It tells you if there is big trouble ahead. The most common worry is that the number will shrink suddenly, with foreign governments dumping their dollar holdings, driving down the dollar's value and driving up American interest rates, but that's not a real danger. If the price of our government securities dived, the foreign central banks would have to bear the loss. This would be a budget item for their governments, whose leaders would not like it at all.

What we have to watch out for is a sudden and drastic increase in foreign official holdings. Rapid growth in this number in the late 1960's and 1970's forecast the recessions of the early 1970's and 1980's, and it could happen again. Recent large increases in foreign official holdings indicate that foreign private investors see fewer attractive places to put their money in the American economy. They could presage a significant fall in the price of American assets, stocks (witness the recent drops in American stock markets) and bonds and real estate and all, and a hard landing for a world economy still floating on the crest of cheap credit.

--more

Note: When Bush came into office, the government owed foreign countries $693 billion. Before he invaded Iraq, it was $900 billion. Since then, it has nearly doubled to $1. 63 trillion. Iraq and Bush giveaways to wealthy individuals and corporations promise to drive the debt higher. The job of the Bush number crunchers is to spin, lie, and deceive until he leaves office. After that, as he said when he stepped down as Governor of Texas, it's someone else's problem. --Politex


Wednesday, June 14

Op-Eds: The Latest From Floyd, Partridge, Weiner, Pringle, Mickey Z., Ireland, and Fisher

What Rove's Skate May Mean, Bernard Weiner
It may just turn out that Rove was so desperate to escape the likelihood of incarceration that he made a deal with Fitzgerald. He gets to walk away if he testifies against Scooter, and tells what he knows about Cheney and maybe even Bush, among others. That certainly is one way to interpret the Rove news. The other is that Fitzgerald simply didn't think he could make the charges stick against Rove and felt obliged to cut him loose....

Rove's lawyer won't release the text of Fitzgerald's letter that reportedly gives his client a walk. It's possible there are hints in the actual text indicating why Rove is free to go: on condition that he cooperate with the ongoing investigation, that sort of thing. Which brings us to Jason Leopold's story Monday that asserted, with far less bravado than his previous "scoop" weeks ago announcing Rove's "indictment," the likelihood that the indictment had been under seal for nearly five weeks. Leopold even supplied the title under which the likely indictment was kept secret ("Sealed vs. Sealed") and a case number ( "06 cr 128"). Hardly anyone was willing to publish that story. Was Leopold full of crap (again), many editors and bloggers mused? Or is there a more complicated, and compelling, interpretation?...

The Noe drama: Was the Ohio vote rigged? , Pringle

By late afternoon on November 2, 2004, nationally, all the exit polls showed John Kerry winning with 50.8% of the votes and showed George W Bush with 48.2%, meaning Kerry had a 2.6% lead over Bush. But when the vote counts came in at the end of election day, Bush had 50.9% of the votes, and Kerry had 48.1%, meaning Bush received 2.8% more votes than Kerry.

Ohio was the most important state to Bush. He could not win without it. He spent so much time in the state that people began to wonder whether he had left a forwarding address to Ohio. At his last campaign rally in the state, a mere 4 days before the election, Bush bestowed special praise on a husband and wife team who in hindsight, were more helpful to Bush than any other politicians in Ohio, as far as rigging the election....

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Corporations, Mickey Z.
You gotta think like a multi-national to earn like a multi-national What do trans-national corporate giants know that we don’t? Do you ever wonder why CEOs have all that fun dwelling in decadent luxury while the rest of us live from paycheck to paycheck just to make ends meet? Of course you do. Well, stop dreaming and read on...because here, for the first time ever, are the top seven secrets of America’s most dynamic and successful corporations:...

Reaching Out To Iran. Too Little, Too Late?, William Fisher
President Bush's 180-degree turn on direct negotiations with Iran clearly represents a defeat for the super-hawks who have been urging military action and arguably an act of desperation for an administration that has run out of good options. But, if Iran should decide to come to the table, the US will find itself negotiating over Iran's nuclear program at the same time it is stepping up its soft power efforts to democratize the country through broadcasting, cultural exchanges, and support for dissident political parties, labor unions and human rights organizations.

Such pro-democracy efforts, however, are seen by many experts as nothing more than euphemisms for regime change, and question whether such programs are likely to help or hinder the nuclear negotiations. But equally important are questions about the content and effectiveness of such programs as well as how committed the Administration is to a pro-democracy agenda....

The Democrat's Marriage Problem, Doug Ireland
When the anti-gay marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution came up for a vote in the Senate last week, its Republican proponents failed by 11 votes to pass it. Despite George W. Bush’s televised endorsement and despite the fact the GOP had gained four Senate seats in the interim, the amendment's supporters picked up only one vote since the last time the Senate voted on the amendment in 2004. But as everyone knows, passing the amendment was not the true object of the exercise. The anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment was brought up again this year to help make it a hot-button social issue for the legislative elections this coming November—and to get Democrats on record as voting against it so their votes could be used against them. However, the Senate vote was only one part of the Republican’s anti-gay offensive....

Hubub in Hibhib: The timely death of al-Zarqawi , floyd
The name change of the Zarqawi gang from its cumbersome original – "The Monotheism and Holy War Group" – to the more media-sexy "Qaeda" brand was thus a PR godsend for the Bush Administration, which was then able to associate the widespread native uprising against the Coalition occupation with the cave-dwelling dastards of the bin Laden organization. This proved an invaluable tool for the Pentagon's massive "psy-op" campaign against the American people, which was successful in sufficiently obscuring reality and defusing rising public concerns about what many experts have termed "the full-blown FUBAR" in Iraq until after the 2004 elections....

Where Are Our Heroes Today?, Ernest Partridge
It is impossible to fully appreciate the enormity of the crimes of the Bush Administration. Among them: That regime has initiated a war against an unthreatening nation, has caused the death tens of thousands of innocent civilians, has abrogated numerous treaties including the Geneva conventions that stipulate the humane treatment of prisoners of war, has tortured and murdered numerous prisoners, has held American citizens indefinitely, without charge, trial, and access to counsel in violation of several articles of the Bill of Rights, has “lost” to graft and corruption several billion dollars of public money, has looted the treasury and passed the public debt on to future generations, has taken and retained power through election fraud, and has in effect proclaimed the President above the law.

The opposition to Bushism is weak, inchoate, disorganized and unfocused. And it apparently is without a political party to advocate its message since, it seems, the “official” Democratic Party, with a few honorable exceptions within, is content to serve as a junior partner in what has effectively become a one-party state. So where, at this perilous moment in the history of the United States, are our heroes – men and women of moral vision, extraordinary courage and unyielding integrity, who will put their careers, their freedom and even their very lives on the line in order to put a halt to descent of the United States into despotism?...


Tuesday, June 13

2004 Election: Kennedy Is Right, The 2004 Election Was Stolen (excerpts) , Bob Herbert

...Republicans, and even a surprising number of Democrats, have been anxious to leave the 2004 Ohio election debacle behind. But Mr. Kennedy, in his long, heavily footnoted article ("Was the 2004 Election Stolen?"), leaves no doubt that the democratic process was trampled and left for dead in the Buckeye State. Mr. Kerry almost certainly would have won Ohio if all of his votes had been counted, and if all of the eligible voters who tried to vote for him had been allowed to cast their ballots.

Mr. Kennedy's article echoed and expanded upon an article in Harper's ("None Dare Call It Stolen," by Mark Crispin Miller) that ran last summer. Both articles documented ugly, aggressive and frequently unconscionable efforts by G.O.P. stalwarts to disenfranchise Democrats in Ohio, especially those in urban and heavily black areas. The point man for these efforts was the Ohio secretary of state, J. Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican who was both the chief election official in the state and co-chairman of the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio — just as Katherine Harris was the chief election official and co-chairwoman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Florida in 2000.

No one has been able to prove that the election in Ohio was hijacked. But whenever it is closely scrutinized, the range of problems and dirty tricks that come to light is shocking. What's not shocking, of course, is that every glitch and every foul-up in Ohio, every arbitrary new rule and regulation, somehow favored Mr. Bush....Mr. Kennedy noted that this [, the shortages of voting machines and the long lines with waits of seven hours or more occurred mostly in urban areas and discouraged untold numbers of mostly Kerry voters,] was just one of an endless sequence of difficulties confronting Democratic voters that stretched from the registration process to the post-election recount. Statistical analyses — not just of the distribution of voting machines, but of wildly anomalous voting patterns — have left nonpartisan experts shaking their heads.

The lesson out of Ohio (and Florida before it) is that the integrity of the election process needs to be more fiercely defended in the face of outrageous Republican assaults. Democrats, the media and ordinary voters need to fight back. The right to vote is supposed to mean something in the United States. The idea of going to war overseas in the name of the democratic process while making a mockery of that process here at home is just too ludicrous. --more


Monday, June 12

2006 Election: Bush's Bigotry and His Failure to Lead Encourages Rage Against Gay and Hispanic Scapegoats (excerpts) , Frank Rich

The stars are in alignment for a new national orgy of rancor because Americans are angry. The government has failed to alleviate gas prices, the economic anxieties of globalization or turmoil in Iraq. Two-thirds of Americans believe their country is on the wrong track. The historical response to that plight is a witch hunt for scapegoats on whom we can project our rage and impotence. Gay people, though traditionally handy for that role, aren't the surefire scapegoats they once were; support for a constitutional marriage amendment, ABC News found, fell to 42 percent just before the Senate vote. Hence the rise of a juicier target: Hispanics. They are the new gays, the foremost political piñata in the election year of 2006.

A desperate president at rock bottom in the polls went through the motions of a cynical and transparent charade to rally his base in an election year. Nothing was gained — even the president of the Family Policy Network branded Mr. Bush's pandering a ruse — and no harm was done. Except to gay people....Mr. Bush knew very well that his participation in this tired political stunt, while certain to have no effect on the Constitution, could harm innocent Americans....The Washington ruckus trickles down into sweeping assaults on gay partners' employee benefits and parental rights at the state level, as exemplified by a broadly worded referendum on the Virginia ballot this fall outlawing any kind of civil union....

Most Americans who are in favor of stricter border enforcement are not bigots. Far from it. But some politicians and other public figures see an opportunity to foment hate and hysteria for their own profit. They are embracing a nativism and xenophobia that recall the 1920's, when a State Department warning about an influx of "filthy" and "unassimilable" Jews from Eastern Europe led to the first immigration quotas....

[Bush] wants to cater to his business backers' hunger for cheap labor and Karl Rove's hunger for Hispanic voters....In the White House, he sidelined immigration after 9/11, then backed away from a "guest worker" proposal when his party balked in 2004. After bragging about his political capital upon re-election, he squandered it on Iraq and a quixotic campaign to privatize Social Security. Now Congress has acted without him, turning immigration reform into a deadlocked culture war not unlike the marriage amendment. A draconian federal law is unlikely, but the damage has been done: the ugly debate has in itself generated a backlash against a vulnerable minority....

The election year is still young, and we haven't seen the half of this vitriol yet. Some politicians, like Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, are equal-opportunity bigots....The practitioners of such scare politics know what they're up to. That's why they so often share the strange psychological tic of framing their arguments in civil-rights speak.... If the president doesn't lead, he will have helped relegate Hispanics to the same second-class status he has encouraged for gay Americans. --more


Sunday, June 11

Sunday Sermon: Anti-Gay Marriage, It's The Economic Thing To Do, Jerry Politex

An article in the New York Times yesterday reports that legal experts, even some who approve of gay marriage, believe that the nation's religion-affiliated web of "schools, health care centers, social service agencies, summer camps, homeless shelters, nursing homes, orphanages, retreat houses, community centers, athletic programs and private businesses or services that operate by religious standards, like kosher caterers and marriage counselors," may be forced to close due to the lack of federal funding if gay marriage were made legal. Hence, the nation is being asked to condone hatred because it makes financial sense to do so. That's not a value that any self-respecting religious group should hold.

Right now, our federal and state governments have "laws forbidding discrimination in hiring or toleration of a hostile workplace environment. They [have] antidiscrimination provisions in many local or state laws licensing commercial enterprises and professional activities, as well as in the ethics codes of professional associations that have a role in accrediting professional schools, licensing professionals or resolving civil suits. And of course they [have] the civil rights laws, federal, state and local, barring discrimination in places of public accommodation, housing and education."

However, "many of these laws contain exemptions for religious bodies." It seems strange that most religious groups in this nation are unable to follow the law of the land, laws based on the civil rights of all its citizens, not just those who claim higher rights based upon their individual beliefs. Of course, if such groups want to keep their hatred to themselves and not ask governments to approve of such behavior, they should not accept funding from those governments. To do so is hypocritical and un-American. Meanwhile, let's ignore such self-serving calls for "religious liberty" and "civil rights" that religious groups now our using to defend their right to hate and discriminate while being funded by our government to do so.

Sunday Funnies, Bell, Tomorrow, etc.

Mount Bushmore (By Steve Bell)
Ethical Training of U.S. Troops (By Steve Bell)
Listen Up! Core Values Training (By Mark Fiore)
Rorschach News Test (By Tom Tomorrow)
Audience: Iraq War 'Formulaic,' 'Plodding' (By Ward Sutton)


Saturday, June 10

Kossacks In Vegas: Dem Politicians Swamp Net Bloggers Convention (excerpts), Maureen Dowd

...Democratic presidential hopefuls and lesser pols lined up to kiss the Polo-sneaker-clad feet of Mr. Moulitsas and his fellow Blogfather, Jerome Armstrong. Hillary was not there. Triangulation makes you a troll, in the argot of this crowd. "Oh my God," Mr. Moulitsas said when asked about her. "No way!" But Mark Warner, Wes Clark and Jack Carter — Jimmy Carter's son, who is running for the Senate in Nevada — are holding blog bashes. Tom Vilsack, Barbara Boxer and Howard Dean were there. Bill Richardson, wearing a white T-shirt under a blue jacket, jeans and silver jewelry, flew in for a breakfast with the Kossacks in a Riviera skybox. "We should be the party of space," the governor of New Mexico said, trying to sound futuristic. "I'm for space." Told that Mark Warner was there, Mr. Richardson said, smiling a bit: "Warner, is he here? I don't care."

John Laesch, who is running to unseat Denny Hastert in Illinois, was ubiquitous, even kneeling before one blogger in the hall, seeking a "Netroots" endorsement. Technology has enabled the not-meek to inherit the earth, and Democrats and others who refuse to drink the cyber-Kool-Aid will, Mr. Moulitsas said, go into the old "dustbin of history." The fast-talking former Army artillery scout with the boyish demeanor and dark brown buggy eyes is no one to take lightly. Some may think the Internet messiah who put Mr. Dean on the map in 2003 is "a fame hound, a loudmouthed nerd at the back of the room," as The Washington Monthly wrote. But others, including adoring conventioneers who called the scene at the debut YearlyKos gathering "magic" and "a rock concert," see him the way Ana Marie Cox, née Wonkette, described him this week in Time.com: "He's the left's own Kurt Cobain and Che Guevara rolled into one."...

Mr. Moulitsas assured me he didn't see himself as a journalist, only a Democratic activist. "I don't plan on doing any original reporting — screw that. I need people like you," he said, agreeing that since he still often had to pivot off the reporting of the inadequate mainstream media to form his inflammatory opinions, our relationship was, by necessity, "symbiotic." As I wandered around workshops, I began to wonder if the outsiders just wanted to get in. One was devoted to training bloggers, who had heretofore not given much thought to grooming and glossy presentation, on how to be TV pundits and avoid the stereotype of nutty radical kids.

Mr. Moulitsas said he had a media coach who taught him how to stand, dress, speak, breathe and even get up from his chair. Another workshop coached Kossacks on how to talk back to Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. "One of my favorite points," the workshop leader said, "is that the French were right." Even as Old Media is cowed by New Media, New Media is trying to become, rather than upend, Old Media. Ms. Cox has left her Wonkette gig to be a novelist and Time essayist. Mr. Moulitsas and Mr. Armstrong wrote a book called "Crashing the Gate," and hit "Meet the Press" and the book tour circuit. Mr. Armstrong left his liberal blog to become a senior adviser to Mr. Warner. What could be more mainstream than that?...

--more


Friday, June 9

Estate Tax: Protecting the Wal-Mart Family, Not Our Ports* (excerpts), Paul Krugman

Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, tried yesterday to push through elimination of the estate tax, which the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates would reduce federal revenue by $355 billion over the next 10 years. He fell three votes short of the 60 needed to end debate, but promised to keep pushing. "Getting rid of the death tax," he said, "is just too important an issue to give up so easily." So there you have it. Some people might wonder whether it makes sense to balk at spending a few hundred million dollars — that's million with an "m" — to secure our ports against a possible terrorist attack, while sacrificing several hundred billion dollars — that's billion with a "b" — in federal revenue to give wealthy heirs a tax break. But nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes.

The push for complete repeal of the estate tax has apparently failed, but I'm told that chances are still pretty good for a Senate deal that will go most of the way toward repeal. The Tax Policy Center estimates that two of the possible deals, compromises proposed by Senator Jon Kyl and Senator Olympia Snowe, would cost $293 billion over the next 10 years. An alternative proposed by Senator Max Baucus would cost $240 billion. So even these so-called compromise proposals would cost several hundred times as much as the port security measure that was rejected as too expensive....It's interesting, by the way, that advocates of estate tax repeal apparently aren't interested in a genuine compromise — raising the estate tax exemption from its current value of $2 million to $3.5 million while leaving the tax rate on estate values in excess of $3.5 million unchanged — even though such a compromise would preserve most of the revenue from the estate tax while exempting 99.5 percent of estates from taxation.

So a more precise statement of the [Tom] DeLay Principle would be that nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes for very, very wealthy people, like the tiny minority of Americans who are heirs to really big estates....These days, the state — or rather, the political coalition that controls the state, and depends on campaign contributions to maintain that control — owes a peculiar obligation to men of great wealth. And nothing is more important than cutting these men's taxes, even in the face of a war. --more

*Note: "The estate tax is overwhelmingly a tax on the very, very wealthy; only about one estate in 200 pays any tax at all. The campaign for estate tax repeal has largely been financed by just 18 powerful business dynasties, including the family that owns Wal-Mart." --Paul Krugman


Thursday, June 8

Failure of Democracy: Iraq: What, We Worry?, Jerry Politex

From day one in office, Bush has appealed to all-too-human, self-serving greed and self-interest to get the nation to do his bidding. His cynical view of human nature has proven true: the facts of citizen response to Bush's destructive policies are there for all to see. This is the failure of our democracy: put pressure on the average citizen and he'll do anything to save his butt, or simply to provide a more comfortable cushion for it, even if it means sacrificing his fellow citizens to do so.

This is why I have been suggesting that the way all American citizens can take responsibility for the killing carried out by our government each day and for the movement of money from our debt-ridden treasury into the hands of the corporations of war and the bottom-feeding war profiteers is to make the draft universal. Everyone from 18 through 68, rich or poor, smart or dumb, sick or well, laborer or President, would be eligible for the draft: no exceptions. Those who are not placed in the military would be directed to move at least 100 miles for home and work off their tenure in a needed job at the same rate of pay and housing as those in the military. This, or course, would stop such wars as Iraq from happening. Ask not what Bush can do for you, but what you can do to regain your self respect and our democracy.

In today's op-ed piece, Bob Herbert addresses the problem, but with no solution. Realizing folly after the fact will not solve the problem. We need to think big, and we need to act now to prevent such future wars.

Failure of Democracy: Iraq: What, We Worry? Part 2 (excerpts), Bob Herbert

For the smug, comfortable, well-off Americans, it doesn't seem to matter how long the war in Iraq goes on — as long as the agony is endured by others. If the network coverage gets too grim, viewers can always switch to the E! channel (one hand on the remote, the other burrowing into a bag of chips) to follow the hilarious antics of Paris, Britney, Brangelina et al.

The war is depressing and denial is the antidote. Why should ordinary citizens (good people, religious people, patriots) consider their role in — and responsibility for — the thunderous, unending carnage? Enough with this introspection. Let's go to the ballpark, get drunk and boo Barry Bonds. The nation is in deep denial about Iraq. For years the president and his supporting cast of arrogant, bullying characters have tried to put the best face on this war. They had no idea what they were doing when they ordered the invasion of Iraq, and they still don't. Many of the troops who were assured that the Iraqis would welcome them with open arms are now dead. And there's still no plan.

Here are the facts: The war so recklessly launched by the amateurs in the Bush White House has already taken scores of thousands of lives, and will ultimately cost the United States $1 trillion to $2 trillion. No one has been held accountable for this. While Mr. Bush's approval ratings are low, the public has been largely indifferent to the profound suffering in Iraq. This is primarily for two reasons: Because most Americans have no immediate personal stake in the war, and because the administration and the news media keep the worst of the suffering at a safe distance from the U.S. population.

The killing of American troops is usually kissed off with a paragraph or two in the major papers, and a sentence or two, at best, on national newscasts. (Imagine if someone in your office, sitting at a desk across from you, were suddenly blown to bits, splattering you with his or her blood. You wouldn't get over it for the rest of your life. This is what happens daily in Iraq.) The many thousands of Iraqis who are killed — including babies and children who are shot to death, blown up, or incinerated — remain completely unknown to the American public. So not only is there very little empathy for the suffering of Iraqis, there is virtually no sense among ordinary Americans of a shared responsibility for that suffering.

As was the case with Vietnam, the war in Iraq is a fool's errand. There is no clear mission for American troops in Iraq. No one can really say what the dead have died for. And yet the dying continues. When it all finally comes to an end (according to President Bush, on somebody else's watch) we'll look around at the hideous costs in human treasure and cold hard cash and ask ourselves: What in the world were we thinking? --more


Wednesday, June 7

Op-Eds: The Latest From Floyd, Partridge, Weiner, Pringle, Miller, Mickey Z., and Ostroy

Bush - Most Hated President Ever Stole Both Elections, Evelyn Pringle
The latest polls say Americans now dislike Bush more than any other president including even Tricky Dick. It only took the public five and half year to see through him. That said, I wonder how long it will take people to accept the news that Bush never won either election and the country is in such a mess that it will take 50 years to get back to how it was when Bush took office. According to Robert Kennedy Jr's article in the June issue of Rolling Stone, "Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush’s victory as nut cases in “tinfoil hats.” Well Republicans can call me whatever they like because this nut-case is finally going to weigh in on this subject....

2004: How They Stole Ohio And Plan To "Blackwell" US In 2008, Greg Palast
This is a fact: On November 2, 2004, in the State of Ohio, 239,127 votes for President of the United States were dumped, rejected, blocked, lost and left to rot uncounted. And not just anyone’s vote. Dive into the electoral dumpster and these “spoiled” votes have a very dark color indeed. In another life, I taught statistics. And these statistics stank: the raw data tells us that if you are a Black voter, the chance of you losing your vote to technical errors in voting machinery is 900% higher than if you were a white voter. Any guesses as to whom those African-Americans chose for president on those junked ballots? Check Ohio’s racial demographics, do the numbers, and there it is: Kerry won Ohio. And that, too, is a fact. A fact that could not get reported in the USA. But the shoplifting of those votes in Ohio was just the tip of the theft-berg....

Absolute Outrage Over the Repugs' Gay Marriage Insult, Andy Ostroy
The hypocrisy is enough to make you gag....The Repuglicans have used hatred and prejudice to divide and conquer and turn American against American for political purposes. I am sick and tired of the Bushevik monarchy's lies. The deception. The arrogance. The self-righteousness. The double-standards. Their do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do mantra. This is a gang that would make the Roman Emperor Tiberius proud. The GOP had the unmitigated gall to send its press secretary, Tony SnowJob, before reporters Monday to arrogantly declare that those seeking to ban gay marriage are fighting for "civil rights." I thought gays fighting for civil rights was a civil rights issue. Pardon my confusion. It's time we say to the Bush administration and to the Repuglican party, stop insulting us with this gay-marriage non-issue....

"Groundhog Day" in Asia: Unwinnable Wars, Bernard Weiner
Bush&Co.'s Iraq war reminds me of ["Groundhog Day"] the same events unfolding day after day after day; the difference is that the architects of this war have their hearts and minds locked so tightly that no change appears possible. In a sense, America itself seems caught up in a "Groundhog Day" loop in that region of the world, continually ignoring the same warning generals for decades have been giving us: Do not get involved militarily on the landmass of Asia. Korea in the '50s, Vietnam in the '60s and '70s, currently in Iraq (and Afghanistan). Each time, the same ignorance and bravado seem to take hold. We'll whip these backward buggers into shape. How can we not fail? Look at all our high-tech weaponry and look at those peasants trying to stop us with their stones and punji sticks and homemade explosives and old-fashioned rifles. But, time and time again, local patriotism and nationalist fervor trumps technology. It's the old David & Goliath story, with the more nimble and creative David driving the high-tech Goliath batty, because the Big Guy is too musclebound to do much about it except cause collateral-damage mayhem....

The Line of Atrocity: From the White House to Haditha, Chris Floyd
Many observers have compared the methodical murder of 24 innocent civilians by U.S. Marines in the Iraqi town of Haditha – now confirmed by Pentagon and Congressional sources – to the infamous My Lai massacre in Vietnam, when American troops slaughtered hundreds of civilians in a bloody rampage. But this is a false equation, one that gravely distorts the overall reality of the Coalition effort in Iraq. For it is not the small-scale Haditha atrocity that should be compared to My Lai: it is the entire Iraq War itself....

Haditha and Rumsfeld’s Ratio, Mickey Z.
By now, we should all know the drill: The U.S. military is sent off amidst lies and propaganda to rain death and destruction upon a foreign land. Atrocities abound but go unmentioned until a set of "allegations" are simply too obvious to disregard. Shortly thereafter, high ranking officials issue assurances that our (sic) troops are the good guys and that any criminal behavior is the exception, not the rule. In the most recent variation on this theme, the high ranking official was Secretary of Defense (sic) Donald Rumsfeld and his public assurance went as follows: "We know that 99.9 percent of our forces conduct themselves in an exemplary manner. We also know that in conflicts things that shouldn’t happen do happen."...

The Pentagon's Shaky Self-Exoneration, Chris Floyd
It seems that the Pentagon, that veritable fount of veracity, has probed itself for the alleged execution-style slaying of civilians in Ishaqi, and found that the operation -- which left 11 civilians dead, including five children under the age of five -- was in fact an exemplary feat of arms, strictly by the book....

Of Water, Human Beings and Other "Worthless" Commodities, Jason Miller
...Is the above fiction exaggerated satire? Yes.
Is such a scenario far removed from reality in developing countries? No.
Consider how corporate abuse of humanity and the environment plays out in reality as Capitalists prey on vulnerable nations:...


Tuesday, June 6

Manjoo Fails To Diminish Stolen 2004 Election Argument, Ernest Partridge

Complication of the election integrity issue works to the advantage of the status quo; which is to say, the increasing use of paperless, unauditable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines. More complications abound as critics of the status quo attempt to prove that past, and presumably future, elections were and will be fraudulent.

In fact, the controversy can be reduced to two simple questions:

1. Can defenders of the status quo prove that the 2004 (and also the 2000 and 2002) elections were fair and accurate?

2. Can defenders of the status quo refute the critics?

The answer to the first question is simple and straightforward: they cannot, because the DREs (and also the central compiling computers) were designed to exclude proof. The software is secret, and thus closed to inspection and validation, and there is no independent record of the votes against which the totals can be verified. (Running the same computations again is not a “recount”). Moreover, computing experts have found, and demonstrated, numerous “holes” in the machines through which voting totals can be finagled, and reports of still more flaws continue to come in.

The response of the private election industry and the Republicans to demands of proof are (1) “trust us,” (2) ad hominem attacks on the critics. (“Sore losers,” “conspiracy theorists,” “get over it!”). And finally (with the collaboration of the mainstream media) (3) no response. There are no substantive proofs of validity because, once again, the machines are designed to exclude them.

Regarding the second question, every now and then an attempt is made to refute the critics. The most recent of note was published last Friday in Salon.com, and was written by Farhad Manjoo,  who has made something of a career out of debunking the critics. Whenever an important critique of the electoral status quo is published, by John Conyers’ committee, by Mark Crispin Miller, or most recently by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., we can generally count on a rebuttal by Manjoo. Last week, he did not disappoint us.

Manjoo’s latest was a pathetically weak piece of work which, due to its flaws, only serves to strengthen the case of its target, the RFK article. Or so I shall argue in the remainder of this essay.

At the outset, I should note that with all due respect to Robert Kennedy Jr., I must hope that he is wrong and the Manjoo is right. If so, then the Democrats have an excellent chance of regaining control of at least one house of Congress in the November election, and with it oversight of the Bush Administration. But if Kennedy is right about the ability of the Republicans to “fix” elections, then it may be impossible to budge the GOP from power, whatever might be the will of the voters. False optimism is the enemy of reform.


To begin, let’s address a few minor points, which can be dispatched quite briefly.

Is Kennedy just rehashing old complaints?  Manjoo writes: “If you've spent time on Democratic Underground or have read Mark Crispin Miller's "Fooled Again," you're already familiar with everything [sic] Kennedy has to say.” [My emphasis, EP]  Because Miller is about to publish a rebuttal of this claim, I would prefer to let him reply in his own behalf. However, having read the books by Conyers, Fitrakis and Wasserman, and Mark Crispin Miller, I am willing to stipulate that most of what Kennedy presents is “old stuff”, however this time with the added advantage of scrupulous documentation.

But so what? Those “old stories” are no less substantial for being “old.” On the contrary, after a year and a half of examination and criticism, they still stand up. For this reason, the “old” possesses an advantage over the “new.”


Were the Ohio (and other) anomalies nothing more than expected “screw-ups’ and coincidences found in all elections? If so, then these anomalies would be expected to work, approximately evenly, to the advantage and disadvantage of both sides. They did not. Almost all of the alleged “screw-ups” and “coincidences” worked to the advantage of Bush. Typical of defenders of the Ohio outcome, Manjoo also points out that individual anomalies were not sufficient to alter the outcome of the Ohio election. But he fails to address obvious rejoinder: the cumulative effect of several anomalies (by no means all of them) were quite enough.


Manjoo has nothing whatever to say about paperless Direct Electronic Recording (DRE) machines.  He presumably says nothing because he can say nothing that can advance his case for the validity of the 2004 election. So there is not a word in his article about secret source codes, lack of independent paper record, impossibility of auditing, or the GOP partisanship of the manufacturers and code-writers. Even if DREs in Ohio in 2004 (and elsewhere, and in 2002 and 2000) were 100% honest and accurate, there is no reason whatever to know this and an abundance of evidence (statistical, circumstantial and anecdotal) indicating that they were "fixed." As I noted at the outset, "Trust us," and ad hominem attacks on the critics are not evidence. And the silence of the media (not to mention the Democrats) about this compelling issue is deafening.


Now to some more substantial issues:... --more


Monday, June 5

Estate Tax: Wal-Mart, 17 Other Dynasties, Wealthiest 1/2%, Bush, McCain, Want Senate To Screw The Poor, Again (excerpts),Paul Krugman

...Any senator who votes to repeal the estate tax, or votes for a "compromise" that goes most of the way toward repeal, is in effect saying that increasing the wealth of people who are already in line to inherit millions or tens of millions is more important than taking care of fellow citizens who need a helping hand. To understand this point, we need to look at what Congress has been doing lately in the name of deficit reduction.

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which was signed in February, consists mainly of cuts to spending on Medicare, Medicaid and education. The Medicaid cuts will have the largest human impact: the Congressional Budget Office estimates that they will cause 65,000 people, mainly children, to lose health insurance, and lead many people who retain insurance to skip needed medical care because they can't afford increased co-payments. Congressional leaders justified these harsh measures by saying that we have to reduce the budget deficit, and there's no way to do that without inflicting pain.

But those same leaders now propose making the deficit worse by repealing the estate tax. Apparently deficits aren't such a big problem after all, as long as we're running up debts to provide bigger inheritances to wealthy heirs rather than to provide medical care to children. And the cost of tax cuts is far larger than the savings from benefit cuts. Under current law — what I once called the Throw Mama From the Train Act of 2001 — the estate tax is scheduled to be phased out in 2010, but return in 2011. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, making repeal permanent would cost more than $280 billion from 2011 to 2015. That's more than four times the savings from the Deficit Reduction Act over the same period.

Who would benefit from this largess? The estate tax is overwhelmingly a tax on the very, very wealthy; only about one estate in 200 pays any tax at all. The campaign for estate tax repeal has largely been financed by just 18 powerful business dynasties, including the family that owns Wal-Mart. You may have heard tales of family farms and small businesses broken up to pay taxes, but those stories are pure propaganda without any basis in fact. In particular, advocates of estate tax repeal have never been able to provide a single real example of a family farm sold to pay estate taxes.

Nonetheless, the estate tax is up for a vote this week. First, Republicans will try to repeal the estate tax altogether. If that fails, they'll offer a compromise that isn't really a compromise, like a plan suggested by Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, that would cost almost as much as full repeal, or a plan suggested by Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, that is only slightly cheaper. In each case, the crucial vote will be procedural: if 60 senators vote to close off debate, estate tax repeal or something close to it will surely pass. Any senator who votes for cloture but against estate tax repeal — which I'm told is what John McCain may do — is simply a hypocrite, trying to have it both ways....

--more


Sunday, June 4

Was the 2004 election stolen? No., Farhad Manjoo

Whatever his aim, RFK Jr. does not appear intent on fixing the problem. He's more content to take us through a hit parade of the most popular, and the most dismissible, theories purporting to show that John Kerry won Ohio, theories that have been swirling about the blogosphere ever since the race was called. I scoured his Rolling Stone article for some novel story or statistic or theory that would prove, finally, that George W. Bush was not the true victor. But nothing here is new. If you've spent time on Democratic Underground or have read Mark Crispin Miller's "Fooled Again," you're already familiar with everything Kennedy has to say.

If you do read Kennedy's article, be prepared to machete your way through numerous errors of interpretation and his deliberate omission of key bits of data. The first salient omission comes in paragraph five, when Kennedy writes, "In what may be the single most astounding fact from the election, one in every four Ohio citizens who registered to vote in 2004 showed up at the polls only to discover that they were not listed on the rolls, thanks to GOP efforts to stem the unprecedented flood of Democrats eager to cast ballots." To back up that assertion, Kennedy cites "Democracy at Risk," the report the Democrats released last June.

That report does indeed point out that many people -- 26 percent -- who first registered in 2004 did not find their names on the voter rolls at polling places. What Kennedy doesn't say, though, is that the same study found no significant difference in the share of Kerry voters and Bush voters who came to the polls and didn't find their names listed. The Democrats' report says that 4.2 percent of Kerry voters were forced to cast a "provisional" ballot and that 4.1 percent of Bush voters were made to do the same -- a stat that lowers the heat on Kennedy's claim of "astounding" partisanship. Such techniques are evident throughout Kennedy's article. He presents a barrage of seemingly important, apparently damning data to show that Kerry won the race. It's only when you dig into his claims that you see what thin ice he's on....

Certainly you can find some good in Kennedy's report. His section on Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's right-wing secretary of state, nicely sums up the reasons why people have been suspicious of the voting process in the state. Blackwell, Kennedy notes, "had broad powers to interpret and implement state and federal election laws -- setting standards for everything from the processing of voter registration to the conduct of official recounts." There's no argument that he used those powers for partisan gain. As Kennedy documents, in the months prior to the election, Blackwell issued a series of arbitrary and capricious voting and registration rules that could well have disenfranchised many people in the state. But to prove Blackwell stole the state for Bush, Kennedy's got to do more than show instances of Blackwell's mischief. He's got to outline where Blackwell's actions could possibly have added up to enough votes to put the wrong man in office. In that, he fails. In the following pages, I match Kennedy's claims with the reality of the 2004 election.... --more

Sunday Funnies, Bell, Tomorrow, etc.

No Dolphins Killed In Training of Soldier (By Steve Bell)
So many models of corruption to choose from! (By Mark Fiore)
The Great Divide Back Home (By Ward Sutton)
Bush's Global War on Truth (By Tom Tomorrow)
Modern Scandal Explained Through Scooby-Doo (By Ward Sutton)
Good Grief! Charlie Brown Falls for the Media Again (By Tom Tomorrow)


Saturday, June 3

Mr. Treasury Nominee, Bush Will Use You, Abuse You, Then Toss You Aside Like The Others (excerpts),Paul Krugman

You'll be treated well as long as you are perceived as someone who adds credibility with people outside the administration, and not a moment longer. Yet I'm sure you're already under pressure to say things that will fatally undermine your credibility....You need to disabuse yourself of any illusion that this administration rewards loyalty....

So what are you being asked to do that will undermine your credibility? Right now, I'd guess, you're being pressed to support the administration's illusions about how the economy is doing. Americans are very unhappy with the state of the economy. According to Gallup, only 4 percent of the public considers the economy "excellent," and only 25 percent considers it "good." And there's good reason for this unhappiness. Although profits and C.E.O. compensation have soared, most workers are significantly worse off than they were a year ago.

The official line, however, is that it's a great economy, but that Americans for some reason aren't hearing the good news (just like they aren't hearing the good news from Iraq). Mr. Bush — who, by the way, isn't the affable guy you may have thought you met — doesn't seem as if he realizes that the economy isn't all that good; in his public appearances he seems peeved that he isn't getting credit for a great economy. And he expects you to explain to working Americans that the trouble they're having paying their bills is just a figment of their imagination. Moreover, if past experience is any guide, you won't be pressured just to spin on the administration's behalf, you'll be pressured to lie....

What will they ask you to lie about? Maybe you'll be asked to declare that we're on track toward a balanced budget. Or maybe you'll be asked to lie about environmental policy. Some of the administration's right-wing supporters opposed your selection because you are known as a supporter of action against global warming, so the political types might want you to throw them a bone by endorsing the administration's failure to do anything about the threat. Right now, you're being flattered. You have a natural urge to be a team player. But if you play the game your new bosses want you to play, your credibility with the public will evaporate in no time at all. And when you're no longer useful to your new friends, you'll be tossed aside.


Friday, June 2

Was the 2004 Election Stolen? Yes, Robert F. Kennedy,Jr.

Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls, which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten it so wrong. By midnight, the official tallies showed a decisive lead for George Bush -- and the next day, lacking enough legal evidence to contest the results, Kerry conceded. Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush's victory as nut cases in ''tinfoil hats,'' while the national media, with few exceptions, did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as ''conspiracy theories,''(1) and The New York Times declared that ''there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale.''(2)

But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their ballots -- or received them too late to vote(4) -- after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered shredding Democratic registrations.(7) In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes,(8) malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.(9) Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment -- roughly one for every 100 cast.(10)

The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush's victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count.(11)

Any election, of course, will have anomalies. America's voting system is a messy patchwork of polling rules run mostly by county and city officials. ''We didn't have one election for president in 2004,'' says Robert Pastor, who directs the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University. ''We didn't have fifty elections. We actually had 13,000 elections run by 13,000 independent, quasi-sovereign counties and municipalities.''

But what is most anomalous about the irregularities in 2004 was their decidedly partisan bent: Almost without exception they hurt John Kerry and benefited George Bush. After carefully examining the evidence, I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the election. A review of the available data reveals that in Ohio alone, at least 357,000 voters, the overwhelming majority of them Democratic, were prevented from casting ballots or did not have their votes counted in 2004(12) -- more than enough to shift the results of an election decided by 118,601 votes.(13) (See Ohio's Missing Votes) In what may be the single most astounding fact from the election, one in every four Ohio citizens who registered to vote in 2004 showed up at the polls only to discover that they were not listed on the rolls, thanks to GOP efforts to stem the unprecedented flood of Democrats eager to cast ballots.(14) And that doesn?t even take into account the troubling evidence of outright fraud, which indicates that upwards of 80,000 votes for Kerry were counted instead for Bush. That alone is a swing of more than 160,000 votes -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.(15)

''It was terrible,'' says Sen. Christopher Dodd, who helped craft reforms in 2002 that were supposed to prevent such electoral abuses. ''People waiting in line for twelve hours to cast their ballots, people not being allowed to vote because they were in the wrong precinct -- it was an outrage. In Ohio, you had a secretary of state who was determined to guarantee a Republican outcome. I'm terribly disheartened.''

Indeed, the extent of the GOP's effort to rig the vote shocked even the most experienced observers of American elections. ''Ohio was as dirty an election as America has ever seen,'' Lou Harris, the father of modern political polling, told me. ''You look at the turnout and votes in individual precincts, compared to the historic patterns in those counties, and you can tell where the discrepancies are. They stand out like a sore thumb.... --more


Thursday, June 1

Gorbachev Tells Me "Cheney is a Fool", Walter Uhler
It was Friday evening, May 19, 2006. My spouse (Carol DePrisco) and I were dining at Barron - the house restaurant of St. Petersburg's recently refurbished Petro Palace Hotel....We were dining with a retired professor of English from St. Petersburg State University. At the very outset of our conversation, the professor inquired: "You are not a Republican, are you?" I assured her I wasn't, thus breaking the ice for a very pleasant and engaging conversation during dinner and afterward in our spacious hotel suite. Nevertheless, she was quite astounded by my immense admiration for Mikhail Gorbachev, disdain for Boris Yeltsin and concern about Vladimir Putin....

Bush Is A Big Fat Liar...Again, Think Progress
On May 25th, President Bush said that Treasury Secretary John Snow had not given him any indication that he was leaving soon:

PRESIDENT BUSH: Secretary of Treasury Snow?

Q Has he given you any indication he intends to leave his job any time soon?…

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, he has not talked to me about resignation. I think he’s doing a fine job.

In fact, not only had Snow indicated he was leaving, President Bush had already settled on his replacement. Today, Tony Snow said that Hank Paulson was offered the job on May 20 and accepted a day later:

QUESTION: Do you have any tick tock on the Paulson…

TONY SNOW: Yes. The tick tock is the two of them met on the 20th of May and there was a conversation. And Hank Paulson accepted the job a day later. ...

Bush Supreme Court Tells Public Employees To Shut Up And Keep Working, NYT
In an indication of things to come, the Bush Court (Roberts, Scalia, Scalito, Thomas, and Kennedy) discouraged whistle blowing by holding that free speech is not protected by the Consitution when it comes to working for the Feds and commenting on that work as an employee. It seems to us that the Bush Court's decision is based upon thinking similar to that of private corporations and their theory of "trade secrets," trying to include free speech by employees in that category. --Politex "The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of one's employment is quite wrong," Justice Stevens wrote. He said the majority ruling could have the "perverse" effect of giving public employees an incentive to speak out publicly, as citizens, before talking frankly to their superiors. --NYT

Bush Hides The War Dead, Maureen Dowd

There is a tragic anonymity about this war. Kids die but we don't know who they are, other than their names, which turn up in small print. They do not touch everyone's lives because, without a draft, they are not drawn from every part of American society. The administration tries to play down any sense of individual loss; the president has not attended a single funeral, and the government banned pictures of their returning coffins. The Iraqi civilians who die don't even get their names in the small print.

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