Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Elect Thugs for Higher Office

Staff is supposed to get between the heckler and the candidate to allow the candidate to walk off without having any nasty pictures show up on the networks. Instead: A physical confrontation caught on tape broke out Tuesday morning in the lobby of the Omni Hotel in downtown Charlottesville between aides to Republican Senator George Allen and a person identified as Mike Stark, a man who has spent the past several months following Allen around the campaign trail and peppering him with some hard-hitting questions. Stark, an ex-marine who is currently a law student at the University of Virginia, showed up at a campaign rally for Allen and was tackled and put into a choke hold by aides to the Republican senator for allegedly asking Allen what his staff claims were multiple inappropriate questions about Allen's wife. In an interview Tuesday afternoon with a reporter for the website TalkingPoints Memo, Stark said he was "within four feet" of Allen when he started firing off questions. From the film, it's pretty evident that if Stark files an assault charge, he will prevail.

They don't want us to buy their products or invest in them

FAIR Media Advisory Air America on Ad Blacklist? ABC document: Sponsors shun liberal network 10/31/06 An internal memo from ABC Radio Networks to its affiliates reveals scores of powerful sponsors have a standing order that their commercials never be placed on syndicated Air America programming that airs on ABC affiliates. You know, these guys don't care if they're on G. Gordon Liddy urging people to assassinate federal agents or Rush Limbaugh sliming a disabled guy. But say a good word about unions or peace or fair elections and boyoboy! Here's the blacklisters: Companies: Bank of America, Chlorox, Coke, Dell, Denny's, Epson, Expedia, Goodyear, Hershey's, Hewlett Packard, Home Depot, J&J, Kraft, McDonald's, Microsoft, Pier One, Red Lobster, Travelocity, True Value, Visa, Walgreen's, Wal-Mart, Wrigley Non-profits: American Heart, US Navy, USPS This is scummy corporate behavior. It ought to be raised at shareholder meetings.

Occam's Razor And Electronic Vote Fraud

A diarist at Daily Kos who has used ES&S touch screens to vote in Texas makes the argument that the recently reported Texas and Florida touch-screen voting incidents are not the result of intentional fraud, but of truly crummy design. His strongest argument: Who in their right mind would design vote-stealing software that let the voters see the votes being stolen? (He cites the Princeton Diebold demo as proof that if votes are going to be stolen electronically, they're going to be stolen in ways that can't be readily detected, not even by a paper trail.) And another Kossack chimes in:

Computer touch screens do not function like individual push buttons-they are scanned in rows and columns. (To simplify it) This means that in addition to the problem that Sam mentions about accidentally hitting the button above the one intended, there is also a potential for a matrix scan problem where one button is favored if two are pressed at the same time. It takes extra work in the software to determine if two buttons are being pressed or just one, and if they assume that only one button is pressed at a time they may not have included the extra code. It also depends on how well they tested their product. There is a danger that poll workers incorrectly calibrated the screens, making it harder to get the right candidate selected when the buttons are small. These are all good reasons to avoid touch screens for the present time-they are not a reliable enough system for this task at present. Some of the problems can be fixed with software changes-larger buttons an more space between buttons would solve 99% of the problems. Standards for the design and operation of the machines also need to be developed including specifications for the size and spacing for buttons and mandatory testing to ensure correct button scanning. But the problems reported are ones much more likely related to bad design and testing of the product than outright fraud. Let's fight the battle based on product operation, not on speculation of fraud unless is can be proven. Otherwise we lose credibility in the long term.
Personally, I think it's easier for Republicans in charge of state elections commissions to just make sure that poor (and known Democratic) neighborhoods have fewer voting machines and polling places than rich (and known Republican) ones. That's a time-honored trick, and can be 'justified' under the 'budget cutbacks' catchall. But it wouldn't surprise me to see electronic means be used -- or rather, to not see them be used, as they wouldn't want to leave any traces.


Mexico, October 31st

Well, if the local businesses of Oaxaca hadn't been ruined by the strike, they have been now. Federal troops um... searched them . (Image by Ezequiel Leyva from La Jornada And stole stuff. And crapped in them. They mostly stole small stuff. Sodas, potato chips, lunch meat... but also a television, a microwave, and so on. They knocked down the metal blinds of a newspaper kiosk on the pretext that arms might have been hidden there, but then just stole the magazines. You know. Establishing law and order and all. Several people were killed in the "peaceful" occupation of Oaxaca, including a nurse, Jorge Alberto López Bernal, and two kids. There are lots of burning tires and tear gas and people throwing rocks at the troops. That doesn't mean everyone is unhappy.Two thousand people marched in support of Governor Ortiz. They wore white shirts and blouses to make it clear they weren't military. But it's looking like the PAN may have to buy out Ortiz's contract. They joined with the PRD in inviting Ulises to leave. (Image from El Universal showing pro-Ruiz Ortiz march) There's a lot of anger that the troops entered the university and shut down the radio station. It was back on after a while, but now they have apparently cut electricity. Some very small and scratchy station is on the air. But if the government were serious about establishing order, it would make sure that media were operating so that people could discuss the situation. I suspect the occupation is going to cloy even with anti-APPO people very, very soon.

Credit Where It Isn't Due

Item: Digby catches Democratic pollster (and possible closet GOP watercarrier?) Thomas Riehle, card-carrying member of the institutional Beltway Democrats -- you know, the ones that have spent the past two decades trying to make the Democrats into GOP Lite? -- doing his damndest to give the Beltwayers the credit for the historic House takeover that's about to happen. To advance his argument, Riehle busily inverts reality, claiming that the netroots is being cautious while the Beltwayers are being bold. Even though less than two months ago, the Beltwayers and their god Joe Lieberman were still telling any Democrat within earshot "Don't talk about Iraq". Even though the netroots has been pushing secure and cash-rich Democratic candidates to cough up some bucks for fellow Democrats in tight races. Even though the netroots has been, per fellow netrooter Howard Dean's fifty-state strategy, backing "long-shot" candidates from the beginning and have been hammering the Beltwayers for months for the money needed to push these suddenly-competitive candidates over the top. Item: Rahm Emanuel's pimping a similar message of Beltwayer puissance. (But look for Rahm Emmanuel's stock to drop like Pets.com if Dems retake Congress and he loses his neighboring district after spending three million dollars on his handpicked candidate.) Item: BlueDogger Ellen Tauscher’s singing the "BlueDogs and DLCers and Beltwayers deserve the credit for the big win" song, too. She was on the front page of yesterday’s NYT spewing this nonsense in an effort to disparage the fifty-state strategy and Dean (and us, who are the biggest backers thereof). Once? A random happening. Twice? Chance, perhaps. Three times -- and all within a week? Conspiracy. Which is why it wouldn't hurt to fire off a few letters reminding media people who REALLY deserves the credit for next week's big win.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Mexico, October 30

The following are excerpts from interviews of people familiar with the situation in Oaxaca on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now: GUSTAVO ESTEVA: Well, the question was that the teachers started their strike, as usual. Every year, they are forced to do this kind of strike to get some improvement in their terrible conditions, terrible economic condition. But that was not something special. That was the usual thing. But then, after three weeks of their strike, on June 14th, they suffered a terrible, stupid, barbaric repression by the police of Ulises Ruiz, the governor, and that was the detonator of the movement. People started to react immediately, joining and supporting, expressing solidarity with the teachers and expressing the decision to oust the governor. And then this was the detonator of the accumulated discontent of the whole state. After that, five days later, we have APPO, the creation of this Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca. We have a march of almost a million people. That is a third of the population of the state. We have every kind of activities after that, with -- that was the consolidation, the expression of a very well organized discontent of the people. This is a movement without leaders, in which the people themselves, very well organized, with amazing courage and amazing capacity of expressing their will. They are organized first to oust this governor, and then to change our society, to create a different kind of society. We don’t want anymore this kind -- as the woman said, we don’t want anymore this kind of repression, of corrupt government, of imposition of authoritarianism, and we want a different kind of conviviality in our lives. ... GUSTAVO ESTEVA: Well, the disorder has not been created by the people. It has been created by this barbaric, psychopathic governor. You see hired killers, and you’ve seen the structures of authority, that should protect the law, to violate the law. It is not the people themselves who have created disorder in the city. That is the alibi of President Fox, using the police to support this governor in a very peculiar structure of cynicism and complicity. It is a combination that is forcing the people of Oaxaca to pay a very heavy price for a democratic, peaceful struggle. ...JOHN GIBLER: Absolutely. It's really important to remember, and this kind of reinforces Gustavo’s point about who creates disorder in Oaxaca. Since August, paramilitary groups who have been identified in photographs have been driving through the city killing protesters at barricades, and they’ve been doing this with total impunity. The fact that they’ve claimed to have apprehended and turned over to authorities the five gunmen who were killing people on Friday is of little consolation, since they’ve had these people identified for months. And the very authorities themselves have taken steps back to actually trying to enforce the law and bring the gunmen to any kind of justice. Both the government and most of the press, especially the international press, has made much more of a fuss about protesters wearing bandannas and spray painting pretty buildings than they have about paramilitary death squads who have been driving around town, with total impunity, killing people for months. The key points are these: 1. The movement in Oaxaca is very broad-based. 2. The governor of Oaxaca, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, is very corrupt. 3. The governor of Oaxaca used violence and repression to try to frighten those who stood against him into submission. 4. The Mexican government has violently occupied Oaxaca, but refuses to investigate corruption and murder on the part of Governor Ortiz. 5. Since there is no attempt by the federal government to redress citizen grievances regarding corruption and violence, one may conclude that the Mexican government has acted in complicity with Ruiz Ortiz. These things, I think, are self-evidently true. Some may argue that violence and repression are justified. But to do so, they must avoid looking at these facts, since if they concede these facts, they must also concede that there needs to be a serious, independent investigation of the actions of Ruiz Ortiz and Fox.

Visualize John Conyers, House Judiciary Committee Chair

I sure can. :-) The Best Sign That John Conyers Will Soon Be Chairing The House Judiciary Committee: Ticky Dick's on a shredding frenzy!

Shades of Poppy Bush's Christmas 1992 shredding party.


Why "Turnout" Is Dropping (Hint: It's Not Because Of Apathy)

According to a knowledgeable friend of mine, Michael McDonald is THE expert on voter turnout. Here's an excerpt from a piece he did for the Washington Post on the subject:

Thanks to increasing voter apathy, turnout keeps dwindling. This is the mother of all turnout myths. There may be plenty of apathetic voters out there, but the idea that ever fewer Americans are showing up at the polls should be put to rest. What's really happening is that the number of people not eligible to vote is rising -- making it seem as though turnout is dropping. Those who bemoan a decline in American civic society point to the drop in turnout from 55.2 percent in 1972, when 18-year-olds were granted the right to vote, to the low point of 48.9 percent in 1996. But that's looking at the total voting-age population, which includes lots of people who aren't eligible to vote -- namely, noncitizens and convicted felons. These ineligible populations have increased dramatically over the past three decades, from about 2 percent of the voting-age population in 1972 to 10 percent today. When you take them out of the equation, the post-1972 "decline" vanishes. Turnout rates among those eligible to vote have averaged 55.3 percent in presidential elections and 39.4 percent in midterm elections for the past three decades. There has been variation, of course, with turnout as low as 51.7 percent in 1996 and rebounding to 60.3 percent by 2004. Turnout in the most recent election, in fact, is on a par with the low-60 percent turnout rates of the 1950s and '60s.
Of course, the vast majority of those states that don't allow former felons to vote just happen to be in the South. And also of course, these states tend to arrest blacks, especially black males, on far less provocation than that exhibited by whites. The Sentencing Project has done signal work to bring the issue of ex-felon disenfranchisement, and its racist objectives, to the attention of the public. Go to their website and show them some love.


Just When The Cons Thought They Had The Airwaves All To Themselves Again...

...along comes Nova M Radio, ready to pick up Air America's affiliates should the worst happen, and in the wake of which they choose not to go to Pacifica Radio or Democracy Now! or Democracy Radio. In other words, no matter what happens to AAR, the stations that make up its network will still be on the air under one affliation or another.


Share And Enjoy!

The New York Times rather reminds me of the fictional Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, except for the fact that the latter actually has a functioning Complaints Department. They both, however, will be probably be among the first ones up against the wall when the revolution comes. Publishing garbage like the article that MyDD's Matt Stoller references here (hat tip also to Atrios) is a big reason why. The NYT of course sides with the DINOs. That's why they put that piece of tripe on the front page of their dead-tree edition. Meanwhile, the resounding victory of Brazil's Lula only rated a brief mention in the print edition, even though Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's win means that Latin America's progressive turn is now confirmed and will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse. (But of course, that's not what the NYT wanted to see happen.) Between Lula and Chavez, the right-wing dictators the US loves to back are on the run, probably for good. That's the real news today, not some silly bloviating by the same head-in-the-sand DINOs whose GOP-Lite strategy lost us Congress and the White House.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


GOP receives big money from gay porn industry

Josh Marshall: It turns out that the Republican National Committee is a regular recipient of political contributions from Nicholas T. Boyias, the owner and CEO of Marina Pacific Distributors, one of the largest producers and distributors of gay porn in the United States.

GOP vote fraud in California registers noncitizen

See? There is a problem with non-citizens being registered to vote: The Orange County district attorney's office has charged 11 people with fraudulent voter registration stemming from a Republican registration drive this year... The case has been an embarrassment for the Orange County Republican Party since it first became known in February. The charges come as the party finds itself reeling from a letter linked to GOP congressional candidate Tan Nguyen that was sent to Latino voters this month in what has been described as an effort to keep them from the polls in next month's election. Nguyen is running against Sanchez. ... The voter registration charges cover at least 37 instances in which Democratic and Green Party voters and even one noncitizen were registered as Republicans. To be fair, the registration contractor chosen by the GOP, Bader & Associates, turned in its own employees for the misdeeds. Still, it's ironic that about the only known case of a noncitizen being registered to vote was by the GOP.

Mexico, October 29th

According to Israel Rodriguez J. of La Jornada, The oil industry in Mexico has languished under Fox, and Calderon will destroy it. Despite record investment, they have overpumped fields, let infrastructure decay, and lost skilled technicians. Reserves have fallen by 11 Bbl. Flores Salmerón says that all drilling is being done by foreign companies. The petrochemical industry has been dismantled, with only 30 of 62 petrochemical plants operational, and many operate below capacity. As predicted, the assault on Oaxaca has begun ahead of Calderon's inauguration. Four thousand police and military were positioned to "re-establish order" in Oaxaca. They ordered the APPO protestors to immediately hand over streets, plazas, public buildings, and private property, which the APPO rejected. The operation was called off, but now is on. It's heavily armed police and troops against civilians, so they will win, militarily. But as in Iraq, I suspect it's going to be a long and disagreeable occupation. (Photo from Sendero del Peje) Water cannons were used by the federal police (PFP) against hundreds of demonstrators who tried to prevent them from going to the Zocalo. Armed militiamen organized by the PRI village president Jorge Pablokept all access to San Bartolo Coyotepec blocked. This is an area of 2,000 people, but contains numerous government buildings and was the site of the attack on the barricades. In Santa Maria, they started an operation similar to that of Santa Lucia del Camino, where journalist Bradley Will was assassinated. The municipal president got police and some other guys liquored up, gave them money and weapons. They had been pumped up with smears against the teachers. The protestors were fired upon from all sides, including up in the hills (government snipers?) and then they were attacked with machetes. They fled and were hunted by their attackers. The wounded were not treated, but were thrown on a truck for detention. Update on Will murder, from Mexico News: "Santa Lucía del Camino Mayor Manuel Martínez Feria said five men had been turned over to authorities for possible involvement in Will´s killing. He identified them as two members of the local city hall, two police officers and the former justice of the peace of a nearby town." Needless to say, world reaction is not exactly positive. Journalists are furious about the death of Bradley Will and the shooting of Osvaldo Ramirez of Milenio. A small-scale worldwide reaction of condemnation is developing. Spanish speakers can listen to developments here

Sorry, Charlie (I Mean Karl)!

The verdict in Saddam Hussein's trial was originally supposed to be handed down on October 16, nearly two weeks ago -- but, in a move that looked like it came straight out of Karl Rove's playbook, it was postponed until Nov. 5: Now it's probably been postponed again. Somebody in Iraq must have decided that they didn't want to help out Bush any more.


Sunday Movie

Psychologist Roy Eidelson has a film on how so-called "conservatives" sow distrust, fear, and a sense of helplessness in order to turn a proud, free people into befuddled sheep. (24 minutes run time; requires broadband or a very long download.) Old hat to most of our readers, probably, but useful insight.

Economic Mud Wrestling

On Friday, Charles made a post about economics. This post attracted the attention of a jargon-spouting right-winger who, now that I that think about it, sounds like he's reading a variant of the Austrian-by-way-by-of-Alabama script written up by the conservative nutjobs of the Ludwig von Mises Institute (more about which can be found here). Sad, really. The right-winger asked for statistics on just how Americans are worse off now than they were a few decades ago. His counterargument was based on the Mises Institute's Gadget Fallacy, which states that we must be better off because we have IPods! and microwaves! Never mind that these IPods and microwaves are all built overseas in places like China, so what we're really doing is exporting our cash and well-paying manunfacturing jobs out of the country -- to the point where families that used to do just fine on one income thirty years ago now can't keep afloat with two. In any event, he probably won't understand the stats we gave him. (Nevertheless, I'll lob one more his way, just for grins.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Rich Get Richer, The Rest Get Screwed, Part II: Ezra Weighs In

No sooner did I finish disembowelling yet another FOX-and-Rush-brainwashed right-winger on the subject of why the average American is worse off economically than his or her parents were thirty-odd years ago, than I see this nifty column by Ezra Klein. Ezra not only does chapter and verse on the decline of Joe and Jane Average, he explains just why they're getting screwed.


The Smell Of Zapping Comments From Banned Neo-Nazi Idiots In The Morning...

...it smells like victory! And meanwhile, the list of local blogs that won't have anything to do with the neo-Nazi clown who keeps getting in trouble with the cops is growing. Poor baby. Wonder if his more "respectable" friends know about his associating with the local Nazi Party members? (And would they care?)


Mexico, October 28th: Oaxaca.

Murdered Murdering Journalist murdered by Mexican government Brad Will, 36, a documentary filmmaker and reporter for Indymedia in New York, Bolivia and Brazil, died today of a gunshot to the chest when pro-government attackers opened fire on a barricade in the neighborhood of Santa Lucia del Camino, on the outskirts of Oaxaca, Mexico. He died with his video camera in his hands. A teacher Emilio Alonso Fabian was also murdered, as was Esteban Lopez Zurita and the APPO protestors reported that 20 of their members were wounded. Two were reported to have been kidnapped. (See also La Jornada, which has more details. An AP report in the Washington Post uncritically accepts the claim that both sides fired shots. Remarkably, only protestors get shot.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Friday Cat Blogging


Bush recession looms

Nouriel Roubini won a pair of brass-plated cojones for predicting 3Q GDP growth would be 1.5%. At 1.6%, he was almost dead on. So maybe people should listen to what he is saying about the future: What do these Q3 growth figures imply for Q4 and 2007 GDP growth? Expect today the usual spin with the soft-landing optimists – who were altogether wrong on Q2 growth and even more wrong on Q3 growth – having already started to spin the fairy tale of a Q4 rebound. This Q4 rebound has, so far, no base or data behind it: residential investment will be falling at a faster rate in Q4 than in Q3 given recent data on building permits and housing starts; non-residential investment that was, until now, growing very fast will sharply decelerate in Q4 and much more in 2007:.... I thus keep my forecast that Q4 growth will be between 0% and 1% and that the economy will enter into an outright recession by Q1 of 2007 or, at the latest, Q2. As for me, I predict the economy will enter a recession as soon as Bushco quits pumping pork in an attempt to buy the election.

Aren't Religio-Racist Righties Soooo Cuuuute!?!

Our favorite local racist tax protester, failed business grifter, and Christian Coalition bigwig, Robert Beale (father of the supremely nutty Theodore "Vox Day" Beale), is back in the news with this cute widdle puff piece. If you're wondering who the heck Robert and/or Theodore "Vox Day" Beale is/are, go here, then here and here. There's more, but that will do for starters.


Arnold's Snake Oil

From Kevin Drum:

A couple of years ago Stephanie Mencimer wrote an article for us called "False Alarm," about the myth of America's "lawsuit crisis." She has since turned the article into a book, Blocking the Courthouse Door, due out in December. (I'll be reviewing it for an upcoming issue.) As with all good book authors these days, she's created a blog to help promote the book. It's called The Tortellini, and today she tells us about one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's more transparent efforts to pretend he was solving California's budget crisis after his election in 2003. The idea was to skim off 75% of all punitive damage awards to the state, supposedly raising $450 million:
When the so-called "split-recovery" law lapsed in July, it had generated exactly zero dollars for the state coffers. No surprise there. Punitive damages are really rare. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that of the 356 civil trials that resulted in punitive damages in 2001 in the nation's biggest counties, only nine resulted in an award larger than $10 million, and that's before they were appealed. The median award was a mere $50,000. There weren't enough punitive damage awards in the whole country to fill California's budget gap.
That's our out-of-control tort system for you. And as Stephanie points out, everyone who voted for the California measure, Democrats and Republicans alike, knew perfectly well it wouldn't raise any money. But it sells well with the rubes, doesn't it?

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Genetic Modification Reloaded

The resistance to genetically modified foods has been based on the fairly sensible concern that a foreign gene and/or the vector used to insert it into the DNA of the food, could have unforeseen effects. In fact, some of the unforeseen effects have been very foreseeable. Put a Brazil nut protein gene in corn, and everyone who is allergic to Brazil nuts will be allergic to corn. Proper testing could obviate those concerns. American agritech companies would rather treat consumers like guinea pigs, so their products have become unwelcome in Europe. Now there's an alternative. described by gadfly Jeremy Rifkin: The new ... agricultural technology is called marker-assisted selection (MAS). The new technology offers a sophisticated method to greatly accelerate classical breeding. A growing number of scientists believe MAS - which is already being introduced into the market - will eventually replace GM food. Moreover, environmental organisations that oppose GM crops are guardedly supportive of MAS technology. Rapidly accumulating information about crop genomes is allowing scientists to identify genes associated with traits such as yield, and then scan crop relatives for the presence of those genes. Instead of using molecular splicing techniques to transfer a gene from an unrelated species into the genome of a food crop to increase yield, resist pests or improve nutrition, scientists are now using MAS to locate desired traits in other varieties or wild relatives of a particular food crop, then crossbreeding those plants with the existing commercial varieties to improve the crop. This greatly reduces the risk of environmental harm and potential adverse health effects associated with GM crops.... Using MAS, researchers in the Netherlands have developed a new lettuce variety resistant to an aphid that causes reduced and abnormal growth. Researchers at the US department of agriculture have used MAS to develop a strain of rice that is soft on the outside but remains firm on the inside after processing. Scientists in the UK and India have used MAS to develop pearl millet that is tolerant of drought and resistant to mildew. The difference is really in the process: gene insertion vs. reproductive recombination. Inserting genes can lead to accidental introduction of extraneous genes or damage to DNA. Reproductive recombination provides a mechanism to repair or reject damaged DNA. It's probably not true that MAS never leads to dangerous products. Nature is full of counterexamples. Large-scale MAS is no less prone than genetic recombination to loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity helps to prevent crop plagues from reaching dangerous levels. So, many problems remain. But it's good to see human minds taking on large and difficult problems to prove once again that there's more than one way to skin a cattail.

Bush White House Playing Politics With Iraq. Again.

From Media Matters (emphases mine):

On the October 24 broadcast of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, CBS News White House correspondent Jim Axelrod reported that a White House official told him, "[D]o not expect to see anything significant prior to Election Day" "as far as a significant change" in the Bush administration's Iraq policy and then quoted the official as saying: "You're not going to see anything before November 8th. It would be political suicide, and Karl Rove would never allow it."
Of course, pretty much everything the Bush Junta does is either political or ego-reinforcing, so the only surprise here is that Jim Axelrod actually reported it. But I digress:
Despite the apparent admission by this White House official that the administration is making tactical decisions about the Iraq war based on domestic political calculations, Axelrod and anchor Katie Couric failed to point out that, as of October 25, the death toll for U.S. soldiers in Iraq stood at 91 for the month, which sets a pace that would make October the deadliest month for U.S. troops in two years. Instead, Couric asked Axelrod, "But why is it political suicide if so many people are unhappy with what's going on in Iraq? You would think that to save their hides Election Day, they'd want to change course." In response, Axelrod asserted that President Bush "is known, if for nothing else, for his resolve. ... So to make such a significant change in two weeks' time I think would open -- introduce more problems than suggest answers."
Of course, this isn't the first time they've played political games with Iraq:
The Bush administration has demonstrated a willingness to time policy decisions in Iraq to U.S. electoral politics. And the media have previously shown little interest in reporting this. Media Matters for America noted the media's near-total silence regarding an October 11, 2004, Los Angeles Times report that the Bush administration planned to delay major assaults on insurgent strongholds in Iraq until after the 2004 U.S. presidential election, fearing large numbers of U.S. military casualties. As Media Matters noted, TV news broadcasts did not mention the Times article prior to the election; however, on November 8, 2004, the top story on each of the major TV networks' morning shows was the U.S.-led forces' assault on Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah.
No comment from me. None is necessary.


Yeah, George, PLEASE Talk About The Economy!

You and your one-percenters are doing really well, but nobody else is. Exhibit A (from New Standard via TruthOut):

A new analysis of census data reveals that despite signs of what some call a rebounding economy, the number of people lacking health insurance continues to expand. According to a report released last week by the public-health research institute Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2005 another 1.3 million Americans joined the ranks of the uninsured, bringing the total uninsured non-elderly population to just over 46 million. Not counting seniors eligible for Medicare, the uninsured rate reached about 18 percent.
Any why are there so many more uninsured nowadays? Because companies are slashing benefits as well as wages (and unions):
Between 2000 and 2005, more workers moved into small firms or self-employment, where health coverage is generally less prevalent. In that same period, industries that have traditionally offered solid health benefits - such as manufacturing, government administration and mining - lost about two million workers. Meanwhile, 5.6 million workers entered industries that traditionally have low employer-insurance rates, including retail, communications and construction.
Welcome to Republican America. Would you like fries with that?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Mexico, October 24th

As predicted, Mexico continues a long slide toward ungovernability. First of December: Peaceful insurrection in Oaxaca. They say that if the corrupt governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz will not go, then they won't accept Felpe Calderon as president. Radio La Ley has been jammed by the Secretary of Communications and Transport. Radio University is still on the air. A broadcaster, teacher Carmen López Vázquez received death threats. They told her husband to lock in their children, and said that the teacher may be the soldier, but the children will be the targets of the counterfire. In right-wing minds, speaking out is the same as firing bullets, and the right response to dissent is killing little children. In Cosolapa, 150 school workers tried to block the governor from inaugurating a library. The cops and the workers traded blows. For the first time since 1928, the traditional parade to celebrate the Mexican Revolution has been suspended. Fox will celebrate at Los Pinos (the presidential palace). Lopez Obrador will be appearing in the Zocalo. Fox's spokesman says that the change is because the parade is... yawn... passe.

Operation Iraqi Liberation

Bush said it.

The new Iraqi government has condemned violence from all quarters and agreed to a schedule for resolving issues, such as disarming illegal militias and death squads, sharing oil revenues, amending the Iraqi constitution, and reforming the de-Baathification process. [...] If we do not defeat the terrorists or extremists in Iraq, they will gain access to vast oil reserves.... [...] And I know it's incumbent upon our government and others who enjoy the blessings of liberty to help those moderates succeed because, otherwise, we're looking at the potential of this kind of world: a world in which radical forms of Islam compete for power; a world in which moderate governments get toppled by people willing to murder the innocent; a world in which oil reserves are controlled by radicals....
It's not a loony-tune tinfoil-hat America-hating-liberal conspiracy theory if it's true. And "what I tell you three times is true." We are in Iraq for the oil.

Stand Up. Keep Fighting.

Paul Wellstone: July 21, 1944 – October 25, 2002 I dreamed I saw Paul Wellstone As alive as you and me. Says I, 'But Paul, your plane went down.' 'I never died,' says he. 'Liberalism's still alive, Our cause has never died, Whoever fights for people's rights, Paul Wellstone's at your side!'

Man Bites Dogs. Pigs Orbit Earth.

Top Military Brass Back Democrats:

Two retired senior Army generals, who served in Iraq and previously voted Republican, are now openly endorsing a Democratic takeover of Congress. The generals, and an active-duty senior military official, told Salon in separate interviews that they believe a Democratic victory will help reverse course from what they consider to be a disastrous Bush administration policy in Iraq. The two retired generals, Maj. Gen. John Batiste and Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, first openly criticized the handling of the war last spring, when they called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "The best thing that can happen right now is for one or both of our houses to go Democratic so we can have some oversight," Batiste, who led the Army's 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, told Salon. Batiste describes himself as a "lifelong Republican." But now, he said, "It is time for a change." Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004, agrees that Democratic control of Congress could be the best way to wrest control from the Bush administration and steer the United States away from a gravely flawed strategy in Iraq. "The way out that I see is to hand the House and the Senate to the Democrats and get this thing turned around," Eaton explained, adding that such sentiment is growing among retired and active-duty military leaders. "Most of us see two more years of the same if the Republicans stay in power," he said. He also noted, "You could not have tortured me enough to vote for Mr. Kerry or Mr. Gore, but I'm not at all thrilled with who I did vote for."
And it's not just some retired brass saying this, either:
As Salon reported recently, there are signs that support for Bush and the GOP is eroding in a Virginia congressional district saturated with military voters. Salon has also learned that more than 100 current members of the military have now joined a campaign formally appealing to Congress to immediately withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq.
So have they all become hippies? Not hardly:
It's not that the current and former military leaders are suddenly eager to see liberal House Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi take more power in Congress if the Democrats win control. Instead, the embrace of the Democrats, they say, is purely pragmatic. They hope the Democrats will succeed where Republicans failed and conduct critical oversight to help the Bush administration fix its stalled and failing strategy for Iraq. "Over five years our Congress has abrogated [its] oversight responsibilities," Batiste said. "They have not held serious hearings about this war." The military leaders also say that Democrats might be willing to put up the massive infusion of cash they believe will be required to fix a military stretched thin, and to permanently increase the size of the Army. In July 2005, Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Sen. Hillary Clinton introduced a bill that would boost the Army by 100,000 soldiers. In the House, Pennsylvania's John Murtha and Missouri's Ike Skelton, ranking Democrats in military matters, have also indicated support for a beefed-up military. While the Republican-controlled Congress passed legislation temporarily increasing the size of the Army, a permanent move in that direction is anathema to Rumsfeld -- who has battled for a smaller, ever more technology-dependent military.
But that's not the most remarkable thing. This is:
The Bush administration's handling of the war, meanwhile, has come under extraordinary fire from within the military. More than 100 service members, including those on active duty and members of the Reserves, have now sent "appeals for redress" to members of Congress asking for the "prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq." The appeals are a form letter designed to air a complaint without running afoul of official regulations restricting what members of the military can say. Although they are sent individually, the unusual wave of appeals has been organized by antiwar groups including Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out and Veterans for Peace. It appears to be one of the first examples of an organized effort by active-duty and reservist military members in opposition to the war in Iraq. It also signals a level of desperation -- since those troops who contacted Congress have potentially invited retribution from their superiors and put their military careers at risk. "It is significant because it is a clear voice from people who are dedicated to the military and dedicated to service, but not dedicated to this war," said J.E. McNeil, the executive director at the Center on Conscience & War who is providing some legal advice to those participating. "For every one of those guys," McNeil claimed, "there are 2,000 or 3,000 guys who are not willing to go public like this. These men and women represent the tip of the iceberg."
To understand how extraordinary this is, you have to understand a bit about the US military. Persons in uniform, with rare exceptions, are not allowed to criticize a president, especially not a Republican one. These people are putting their careers and their livelihoods on the line against a régime with a proven track record for vicious retaliation.


Wednesday Blue Plate Special

French Fried Charlie Crist (Via Blogactive The real scandal alleged here is that his lover is a felon. __________________ And, via TPM, David Johnston warms up Renzi ala carte. This is an upgrade from the shady land deal that was previously reported: Law enforcement officials said that the most serious accusation involved Mr. Renzi’s sponsorship of legislation in 2003 that appeared to indirectly benefit the ManTech International Corporation, a communications company based in Virginia that employs Mr. Renzi’s father, Eugene, a retired Army general, as executive vice president.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Things You Should Know About Certain GOP Candidates

Here's a helpful list of links to articles in reputable news sources on various GOP candidates (additions to list are bolded):

AK-AL: Don Young AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl | AZ-01: Rick Renzi| AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth CA-04: John Doolittle | CA-11: Richard Pombo | CA-50: Brian Bilbray CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave | CO-05: Doug Lamborn | CO-07: Rick O'Donnell CT-04: Christopher Shays FL-13: Vernon Buchanan | FL-16: Joe Negron | FL-22: Clay Shaw ID-01: Bill Sali IL-06: Peter Roskam | IL-10: Mark Kirk | IL-14: Dennis Hastert IN-02: Chris Chocola | IN-08: John Hostettler IA-01: Mike Whalen KS-02: Jim Ryun | KS-AG: Phill Kline KY-03: Anne Northup | KY-04: Geoff Davis MD-Sen: Michael Steele MN-01: Gil Gutknecht | MN-06: Michele Bachmann MO-Sen: Jim Talent MT-Sen: Conrad Burns NV-03: Jon Porter NH-02: Charlie Bass NJ-07: Mike Ferguson NM-01: Heather Wilson NY-03: Peter King | NY-20: John Sweeney | NY-26: Tom Reynolds | NY-29: Randy Kuhl NC-08: Robin Hayes | NC-11: Charles Taylor OH-01: Steve Chabot | OH-02: Jean Schmidt | OH-15: Deborah Pryce | OH-18: Joy Padgett PA-04: Melissa Hart | PA-07: Curt Weldon | PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick | PA-10: Don Sherwood RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee TN-Sen: Bob Corker VA-Sen: George Allen| VA-10: Frank Wolf | WA-Sen: Mike McGavick WA-08: Dave Reichert WY-AL: Barbara Cubin


The Human Toll of Bushco Inaction in Katrina

Via JMM. Just read it

The Family Values File

Referring to forced sexual slavery in the capitalist paradise established outside on US soil but outside of US law by the Republican Congress: Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) took the floor of Congress in 1996 to question a 15 year-old girl's claim that she had been the victim of sex trafficking in the Northern Mariana Islands, a client of Jack Abramoff. "[S]he wanted to do nude dancing," Hall said. A lobbyist working with Abramoff helped Hall prepare his statement, and Abramoff had earlier paid for a trip by Hall to the islands. By comparison, scum serves a valuable purpose. Ralph Hall just takes up space.

Oooh, So Negative!

Josh Marshall with a little historical perspective on why Democrats mustn't buy into the GOP/Media's pimping of the "All the Democrats have is negativity" frame. One person who's not buying into any GOP frames is Chris Bowers. Check out Stirling Newberry's thoughtful profile of the man behind the "Use It Or Lose It" campaign. It's people like Chris that are the future of politics.


Why Rearranging the Rhetorical Deck Chairs Won't Work

"Studying in constant motion" (or whatever the Busheviks are going to call it now) instead of "staying the course" won't convince us that the Busheviks recognize what's going in Iraq, much less that they are willing to do anything sensible about it. We say it's spinach, and we say the hell with it.

Sixty percent of U.S. citizens say they believe neither the United States nor insurgents are winning the war in Iraq, a CNN poll published Tuesday said. The poll also found the number of people who say they believe the U.S.-led coalition is winning has fallen by half since December to 20 percent, while 18 percent said they believe the insurgents are winning. In all, 64 percent of 1,013 adults polled by telephone by Opinion Research Corp., in the past three days said they oppose the war in Iraq. While the Bush administration has refused to set a withdrawal schedule from Iraq, 57 percent of respondents said the United States should.
A change in rhetoric isn't going to change the perceptions of enough people to shift the balance from opposition to support.

This Is Just Stupid

White House Abandoning 'Stay the Course'

White House press secretary Tony Snow and presidential counselor Dan Bartlett disclosed the policy change, saying the short-hand description failed to "capture the dynamism" of the flexible U.S. approach to security setbacks on the ground.
They're not rejecting their disastrous policy. They're abandoning the description. And we're supposed to think, if they tell us that they're not stubbornly marching off the cliff after all, they'll gain some support for what's going on in Iraq:
What you have is not 'stay the course' but, in fact, a study in constant motion by the administration and by the Iraqi government -- and frankly also by the enemy," Snow told reporters at a White House briefing. "You constantly have to adjust to what the other side is doing." Snow said Bush administration officials were abandoning the policy description because it "left the wrong impression about what was going on."
Memo to Bush: "Heed what I say, not what I do" isn't going to work, either. By the way, has there ever been a more pathetic White House press secretary than Tony Snow? The few times I've seen or heard him, he's sounded totally out of his depth. He stammers. He doesn't seem to know how to change the subject when the questions put him on the spot. He argues with the reporters (or tries to), a fatal error when you need to control the conversation. He sets himself up to be knocked around. Making an official announcement about a change in buzzwords? Good grief, is he moonlighting as a writer for David Letterman and Jon Stewart? I remember the Ari Fleischer days. I hated Ari, but I had to admire his smoothness. And Scott McClellan, though lacking in Ari's glib arrogance, could at least obfuscate and stonewall with the best of them. Tony just fumbles. The White House press office has gone from the slime to the ridiculous.

Meet The Candidates

Twin Cities ABC-TV affiliate KSTP has been giving free airtime to local candidates this election season; all the videos can be found here. The videos for the three candidates for Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District (which contains Minneapolis and the northern suburbs) aired last night. Democratic candidate Keith Ellison's video shows him to be poised, articulate, professional, and firm, all the sort of things you'd hope to find in a Congressional candidate. Former Sabo staffer Tammy Lee, now running under the Independence Party banner, is also poised and articulate and professional. But Alan Fine is a complete and total joke. Seriously. I know that the Republicans have no hope of winning the seat, but you'd think that they could have found someone a tad more prepared or capable of running for the United States Congress.

Monday, October 23, 2006


The Coach Takes a Turkish Bath

Via ASZ and ICH, David Rose of Vanity Fair Love of country led Sibel Edmonds to become a translator for the F.B.I. following 9/11. But everything changed when she accused a colleague of covering up illicit activity involving Turkish nationals. Fired after sounding the alarm, she’s now fighting for the ideals that made her an American, and threatening some very powerful people. ...Edmonds has given confidential testimony inside a secure Sensitive Compartmented Information facility on several occasions: to congressional staffers, to investigators from the O.I.G., and to the staff from the 9/11 commission. Sources familiar with this testimony say that, in addition to her allegations about the Dickersons, she reported hearing Turkish wiretap targets boast that they had a covert relationship with a very senior politician indeed—Dennis Hastert, Republican congressman from Illinois and Speaker of the House since 1999. The targets reportedly discussed giving Hastert tens of thousands of dollars in surreptitious payments in exchange for political favors and information. “The Dickersons,” says one official familiar with the case, “are only the tip of the iceberg.”

Things That Don't Surprise Me At All, #20970798

Turns out that Michele Bachmann is a member of a hard-line midwestern Lutheran sect that has as one of its chief tenets the belief that the Pope is the Antichrist.


A Reminder

If you haven't already done so, do take a look at this lovely portrait of the supremely nutty, vicious and avaricious Michele Bachmann, and pass it on to your friends in the Sixth Congressional District.



Prior to this week, AIPAC's most recent entry into the news concerned indictments for spying on the US by Larry Franklin, a neocon who was working for fellow neocon Douglas Feith at Feith's garbage factory (aka The Office of Special Plans), and the group's ties to conservative operations such as the American Enterprise Institute. Given AIPAC's current high-profile ties to Republicans and neocons, it was rather surprising to see Time magazine's Timothy J. Burger come out with a piece that attempted to link a Congressional Democrat, Jane Harman of California, to AIPAC in a manner that nebulously implied all manner of wrongdoing on Harman's part without actually providing any hard evidence therefor. The interesting thing is that the article seems to be attacking Harman for taking AIPAC money, when scads of legislators in both parties take AIPAC money. So why is it suddenly bad when she does it, and OK for everyone else? Why single out Harman? One reason may be found here:

This week, on the request of Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL), Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) suspended a Democratic staffer’s access to classified information. Hoekstra said the suspension would remain in place pending a review to determine if that staffer leaked a classified National Intelligence Estimate to the New York Times.

Today on Fox News, LaHood said, “I’ll tell you why I did it. The reason I did it was because Jane Harman released the Duke Cunningham — who sat on our Intelligence committee — report.” That report, which detailed the misconduct of Cunningham, who is now serving a jail term, was not classified.

A Fox anchor asked, “So, it’s payback?” LaHood responded, “There are some of us on the other side who can equally play politics, and I’m not afraid to do it.”

Looks like taking out Harman's staffer wasn't enough for BushCo or the GOP. It's not just me connecting those dots. None other than Michelle Malkin, B-list right-wing scrivener, has also made the linkage between Ray La Hood's attacks on Harman and Burger's Time article. Is BushCo planning to totally trash AIPAC just to get at Harman and/or create a "Democrat scandal" to take people's minds off Iraq and Mark Foley in time to help out Congressional Republicans next month? It's beginning to look that way. (And I wonder what the non-neocon-aligned members of AIPAC must be thinking right now.) [UPDATE: I suspect that another motive behind the attempt to create a faux scandal around Harman is the desire to distract the media's attention from stories of impending Republican indictments, like this one.]

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Fortunately, our Maximum Leader is more articulate

Steve Bell at the Guardian

Your tax dollars at work

Sixty Minutes reports: (CBS) More than half a billion dollars earmarked to fight the insurgency in Iraq was stolen by people the U.S. had entrusted to run the country's Ministry of Defense before the 2005 elections, according to Iraqi investigators/

They must not be told

Ironically, the Administration's total failure in Iraq is a secret only to the American people. Think Progress This week, on the request of Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL), Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) suspended a Democratic staffer’s access to classified information.... Today on Fox News, LaHood said, “I’ll tell you why I did it. The reason I did it was because Jane Harman released the Duke Cunningham — who sat on our Intelligence committee — report.” That report, which detailed the misconduct of Cunningham, who is now serving a jail term, was not classified.... A Fox anchor asked, “So, it’s payback?” LaHood responded, “There are some of us on the other side who can equally play politics, and I’m not afraid to do it.” LaHood apparently didn't even ask the staffer if he had leaked the NIE on Iraq, which is what he says he is upset about. He knew the staffer had access to the NIE and made him the scapegoat for leaking it to get even with Harman-- for making public a public report on Republican corruption. Had enough?

And She's A Lawyer?!

A week ago we found Michelle Bachmann aiding and abetting a local pastor in breaking IRS law -- a law that as a tax attorney she should understand backwards and forwards. In other words, she can't use the Sergeant Schultz defense to weasel out of this one. Now, we find her touting "intelligent design"/creationism as a science subject to be taught in school -- even though the Dover ruling clearly states that it is a religious construct, not a real science. I think I might have to start calling her Malfeasance Bachmann.


"Better the Kim you know"

Eric Margolis is a right-wing columnist who often talks sense because he's well-educated, a pragmatist, and not insane, making him something of a oner on the right. He says: Keep in mind, North Korea has done nothing illegal under international law. It has every right to conduct nuclear tests. India and Pakistan did so in 1998. Today, the U.S. provides India with nuclear fuel and technology. The United States, Britain, France, Russia and China have all violated the basic international law on nuclear power, the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT). Article IV of the treaty mandates complete nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control. That was 38 years ago. Today, these nations have 30,000 nuclear weapons. None of the treaty signatories has abandoned nuclear weapons. The U.S. is updating its nuclear arsenal and developing deep penetrator weapons. ... Those nations screaming the loudest about North Korea and Iran barging into the restricted nuclear club are also the nations with the biggest stocks of nuclear weapons themselves. The U.S. has nuclear weapons based in South Korea and with its 7th Fleet in the Pacific. South Korea has twice been caught with covert nuclear weapons programs. Japan can reportedly assemble nuclear weapons on 90 daysi notice, and itis believed Taiwan has long run a covert nuclear program.... None of North Koreais other neighbours want Kimis regime to collapse either. North Koreais implosion would produce millions of starving refugees, possible civil war, or anarchy.... Behind all this cynical farce lies a serious danger. Forced inspections of North Korean ships could spark a military clash between the U.S. and North Korea or, worse, between the U.S. and China. Asians fear the U.S. may do to North Korea what it did to Iraq to overthrow a nasty but effective government and replace it with anarchy. Better the Kim you know... The world has survived a nuclear-armed Stalin and a nuclear-armed Mao. With God's grace, it will survice a nuclear-armed George Bush and Kim Jong Il as well.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


The More We Holler About This, The Better Chance We Have Of Keeping It From Happening

The USS Eisenhower and its armada -- and its missiles -- are now coming into range of Iran. As has been mentioned previously, an attack on Iran is a bad, bad, BAD idea. It would end our chances of a relatively easy exit from the abbatoir next door that is post-invasion Iraq. But it's also the sort of thing that Karl Rove would favor for the purpose of scaring the voters back into the arms of the GOP (and thus keeping the Democrats from getting control of the house, along with the power to subpoena witnesses in official investigations of Republican corruption and malfeasance). The one thing most likely to keep such a politically-motivated attack from happening would be if most Americans knew it was planned, and knew why it was planned. So spread the word. The more it's discussed, the more likely we can keep it from happening.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Supreme Court Injustice

This shouldn't be surprising from a Supreme Court most of whose members either appointed the pResident or were appointed by him. I really think these people have not just contempt but a deep and vicious hatred of democracy.

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that Arizona may require voters to provide photo IDs when they cast their ballots next month. [...] The law requires voters to prove citizenship when registering to vote and to show photo IDs when they go to the polls. The law was meant to make sure illegal immigrants weren't casting ballots. Opponents of the law contend it discourages some people from voting, including the elderly, poor and disadvantaged who don't always carry IDs. [...] In his bid to allow the state to go forward, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard told the justices that "voter registration at the polls is an emerging issue of national importance."
If "issue" means "bogeyman invoked as a pretext to scare people into giving up even more of their rights," then yeah, I suppose Goddard is right.

Friday Cat Blogging


Bush's Garbage Rally

From Smartmoney (no direct link) David Hay, Evergreen Capital Management: This decade, 2000-09, is on track to be the worst decade since the 1930s for the market. The only other decade in nominal terms that's been as bad as this decade was the 1930s. It's been a horrible period for stocks on an index- or cap-weighted basis. It's been a bipolar market — that's the way we've characterized it for 10 years. In the late '90s, if you were long midcaps, you had a hard time. If you were long large caps, it was absolute nirvana. The last seven years has been the opposite of that. The pendulum swings. What was attractive seven years ago is now unattractive, and what was unattractive seven years ago is now attractive... Another interesting comparison is between low-quality stocks and high-quality stocks. You can see that it really has been garbage rally, or a beta rally. Low-quality stocks have been outperfoming dramatically the past few years. Hay things that big cap laggards like GE and MSFT are about to rally. I tend to think that both companies are adrift and that one should look for garbage-- but good garbage, the kind that will survive a real recession.

Cops After You? Fire The Cops!

That's exactly what Jerry Lewis (R-CA), the powerful Republican chair of the House Appropriations Committee, just did. Had enough?

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Trade Blue

Rob Wherry at SmartMoney (10/17; sorry, no direct link) reports: ACROSS THE COUNTRY, political opponents are duking it out as this year's election season approaches the finish line. But today marks the beginning of a political drama that will play out in the mutual fund world: the official launch of the left-leaning Blue Fund, a socially responsible mutual fund that sells itself as investing in companies that "act blue" and "give blue." In other words, companies that tend to favor the Democrats. ...The Blue Fund, which is based on the S&P 500 index, has a primary screen that looks at federal political contributions. In order to qualify a firm's top three executives and its political action committee must be a net contributor to the Democratic Party over the last 10 years. It then must pass additional ethical screens based on corporate governance, treatment of employees, human rights and the environment....The Blue Fund's parent company say its research shows "blue" companies — about 80 out of the S&P 500 — outperformed the broader market by 10% over the last five years. As Wherry notes, the Blue Fund charges a hefty premium and it may outperform because Blue sticks are smaller and more growth-oriented than the rest of the S&P. Still, it's good to see that even in the heart of American business, there are people who care more about their country than about their tax break.

Another character's count

Don't forget! It's Character Counts Week! Peter Prengaman, AP on AOL: Orange County Republican leaders on Thursday called for the withdrawal of a GOP congressional candidate suspected of sending a letter threatening Hispanic immigrant voters with arrest. Tan D. Nguyen denied knowing anything about the letter in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press but said he fired a campaign staffer who may have been responsible for it.County Republican Chairman Scott Baugh, however, said that after speaking with state investigators and the company that distributed the mailer, he believes Nguyen had direct knowledge of the letter. He told the AP that the party's executive committee voted unanimously to Nguyen to drop out of race against Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

Essential history/updated

UPDATE: The NSArchive link is here. It confirms that the top levels of the Mexican government during the 1960s-70s were in the pay of the CIA. To understand the tragedies unfolding today in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other so on, one must understand how the United States's mistaken reactions in the past led to similar disasters. One of the most important is one of the least known: the massacre at Tlatelolco. To briefly summarize, a mistaken belief by Washington that the student protests in Mexico City in 1968 were part of an international revolutionary communist conspiracy led the Mexican government to wildly overreact. They shot dozens of innocent people in cold blood, and they initiated "the dirty war," in which people were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. All dissent stopped. Not surprisingly, so did the rapid economic development that Mexico had enjoyed. The creative energy that democracy unleashes to create new businesses was snuffed out. A generation later, Mexico is in a long-term growth recession. Debt is rising. Unemployment and poverty are at unbelievable levels. The nation is falling under the control of narcotraffickers. Afghanistan will soon be our neighbor. Documents continue to emerge explaining how Tlatelolco came to be. The National Security Archive has them: The Morley article mentioned below does not seem to be up, but should be very much worth reading. The CIA's reliance on high-level informants including the President of Mexico for "intelligence" about the student protest movement in 1968 that culminated in the infamous Tlatelolco massacre misled Washington about responsibility for the repression, according to documents obtained by journalist Jefferson Morley and posted today on the Web by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. The declassified U.S. documents reveal CIA recruitment of agents within the upper echelons of the Mexican government between 1956 and 1969. The informants used in this secret program included President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz and future President Luis Echeverría. The documents detail the relationships cultivated between senior CIA officers, such as chief of station Winston Scott, and Mexican government officials through a secret spy network code-named "LITEMPO." Operating out of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Scott used the LITEMPO project to provide "an unofficial channel for the exchange of selected sensitive political information which each government wanted the other to receive but not through public protocol exchanges." This posting also includes the article "The CIA's Eyes on Tlatelolco," written by Morley and published in the October 1, 2006 edition of Proceso magazine. The article uses first-hand accounts from former associates, friends and family of Winston Scott, detailing how Scott relied on his friendships with Díaz Ordaz, Echeverría and other senior Mexican officials to inform Washington about the student movement whose demands challenged the government's monopoly on power. The newly-declassified U.S. government documents and interviews shed new light on the CIA reporting on the terrible events of 1968. Winston Scott's reliance on powerful government officials for information led to one-sided reporting on the student movement of 1968, ending in the 2 October massacre in Tlatelolco. Scott relied on the government's version of the Tlatelolco killings, reporting as "intelligence information" its fictional accounts of the events. "When the Tlatelolco crisis exploded, the CIA's Mexico station could not deliver the goods," said Kate Doyle, Director of the Archive's Mexico Project. "Jefferson Morley's important research reveals that instead of independently collecting information and analyzing what happened, the agency served as stenographer for its friends and allies in the Mexican government. As a result, the CIA helped protect Mexico's ruling party from bearing responsibility for the massacre, and delivered a muddled and misleading account of it to Washington." Our intelligence services and our politicians continue to be ignorant. We continue to land in wars that weaken, not strengthen us. When the links become available, I will try to update this post accordingly.

If John Solomon Can Spew Nonsense About Harry Reid, I Can Pass On A Juicy Rumor Or Two

Here's John Solomon caught making an ass of himself -- again -- over Harry Reid. Here's CNN doing the exact same thing, even as they give a pass to far more serious allegations against Dennis Hastert. Here's the WaPo and Lou Dobbs, also attacking Reid and free-passing Hastert. Here's a juicy rumor that John Solomon, CNN and the Washington Post won't touch because a)it involves making Republicans look even worse than they already do, and b) there's probably more to it than to their attempts to smear Harry Reid, and goodness knows that these people can't handle facts in their proper context.


Characters Counts

From William Rivers Pitt Resigned-Indicted-Convicted or pled guilty. White House staff and Bush appointees R-I-C Lester Crawford (former FDA commissioner) R-I I. Lewis Libby: Cheney's chief of staff, R-I-C David Safavian (White House staff) R-I Claude Allen: (White House advisor) R-I Brian Doyle (Homeland Security staff) R Susan Ralston (White House aide) DeLay and staff R-I Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) R-I-C Jack Abramoff (DeLay staffer) R-I-C Tony Rudy: (DeLay staffer) R-I-C Mike Scanlon (DeLay staffer) The Republican Congress CORRECTION: I forgot that Bob Ney is refusing to resign. I-C Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) R-I-C Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.) R Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) Regional Republicans R-I-C James Tobin (RSCC NE regional director) R-I-C Tom Noe (Ohio mafia) In danger: * Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), * Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) * Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) * Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) * Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) * Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) There are more than Will Pitt lists, but this list gives a starting point.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I've Said It Before, And I'll Say It Again

Banned camp followers of neo-Nazis who habitually get into trouble with the cops take a lot longer to type their screeds than it takes for me or my co-bloggers to delete them.


For The Three People In America Who Still Thought John McCain Was A Straight Talker

Fred Kaplan of Slate shows how McCain, in order to cover for George W. Bush -- the man whose operatives slandered him in South Carolina in 2000 -- is lying like a rug about Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and North Korea:

Here, according to the Washington Post, is what McCain said in a campaign speech near Detroit:

I would remind Senator Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush administration policies that the framework agreement her husband's administration negotiated [with North Korea] was a failure. Every single time the Clinton administration warned the Koreans not to do something—not to kick out the IAEA inspectors, not to remove the fuel rods from their reactor—they did it. And they were rewarded every single time by the Clinton administration with further talks.

McCain's version of history goes beyond "revisionism" to outright falsification. It is the exact opposite of what really happened. Let's take a look at the plain facts.

In the spring of 1994, barely a year into Bill Clinton's presidency, the North Koreans announced that they were about to remove the fuel rods from their nuclear reactor (as a first step to reprocessing them into plutonium), cancel their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (which they had signed in 1985), and expel the international weapons inspectors (who had been guarding the rods under the treaty's authority).

Did Clinton "reward" them for doing these things, as McCain claims? Far from it. Not only did he push the U.N. Security Council to consider sanctions, he also ordered the Joint Chiefs of Staff to draw up plans to send 50,000 additional troops to South Korea—bolstering the 37,000 already there—along with more than 400 combat jets, 50 ships, and several battalions of Apache helicopters, Bradley fighting vehicles, multiple-launch rockets, and Patriot air-defense missiles. He also sent in an advance team of 250 soldiers to set up logistical headquarters for the influx of troops and gear.

He sent an explicit signal that removing the fuel rods would cross a "red line." Several of his former aides insist that if North Korea had crossed that line, he would have launched an airstrike on the Yongbyon reactor, even knowing that it might lead to war.

At the same time, Clinton set up a diplomatic backchannel, sending former President Jimmy Carter to Pyongyang for direct talks with Kim Il-Sung, then North Korea's dictator and the father of its present "dear leader," Kim Jong-il. (The official Washington line held that Carter made the trip on his own, but a recent memoir by three former U.S. officials, Going Critical: The First North Korean Nuclear Crisis, acknowledges that Clinton asked him to go.)

This combination of sticks and carrots led Kim Il-Sung to call off his threats—the fuel rods weren't removed, the inspectors weren't kicked out—and, a few months later, to the signing of the Agreed Framework.

That's only one of the lies that McCain and the Republicans have been spouting about North Korea, the Clinton Admininstration and the Bush Junta. Go read the rest of Kaplan's piece to find out more. It's required reading for anyone who wants to know who really did what over the past fifteen years.


This Was A Pleasant Surprise

Francine Busby, in Duke Cunningham's old district -- where a ham sandwich could get elected if it had an "R" after its name -- is now within biting distance of Brian Bilbray, who won the seat in a special election after Cunningham found himself going to prison:

The poll of 581 likely voters, conducted by Survey USA for 10News, had Busby with 46 percent of the vote to Bilbray's 49 percent. One percent of respondents were undecided, and 5 percent supported a third-party candidate. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.1 percent. [Full survey results here.] A similar poll of 540 likely voters by Survey USA in September showed Busby with 40 percent of the vote to Bilbray's 54 percent. Five percent of respondents were undecided in that poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.
Why the sudden shift? Mark Foley and PredatorGate, for one; Bilbray's own mounting scandals, for another.


Electronic fraud charged in Ecuadorian election

Beeb says Police have raided the office of the Brazilian company hired to speed-count the results after its system collapsed. The general attorney's office is investigating alleged irregularities in the process, which the company, E-vote, denies. ... The [vote counts] were rejected by Mr Correa - a former economy minister - who said his exit polls suggested that it was he who enjoyed a slight lead. ... On Monday, some of Mr Correa's supporters gathered outside the electoral tribunal, accusing E-vote and the country's electoral authorities of fraud.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Shame on us all

Parry says it History should record October 17, 2006, as the reverse of July 4, 1776. From the noble American ideal of each human being possessing “unalienable rights” as declared by the Founders 230 years ago amid the ringing of bells in Philadelphia, the United States effectively rescinded that concept on a dreary fall day in Washington. At a crimped ceremony in the East Room of the White House, President George W. Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 ... it creates a parallel “star chamber” system of criminal justice for anyone, including an American citizen, who is suspected of engaging in, contributing to or acting in support of violent acts directed against the U.S. government or its allies anywhere on earth. The law strips “unlawful combatants” and their alleged fellow-travelers of the fundamental right of habeas corpus, meaning that they can’t challenge their imprisonment in civilian courts... While incarcerated, the “unlawful combatants” and their cohorts can be subjected to coercive interrogations with their words used against them if and when they are brought to trial as long as a military judge approves. The military tribunals also could use secret evidence to prosecute a wide range of “disloyal” American citizens as well as anti-American non-citizens. The procedures are similar to “star chambers,” which have been employed historically by absolute monarchs and totalitarian states. Shame on us all, but especially on those who have remained silent or even supported the destruction of liberty.

What do these two stories have in common?

Employees swindling state firms, Cuban paper finds (Rory Carroll, The Guardian A rare investigation by one of Cuba's communist newspapers has found that most state-run services are corrupt and prey on the population. Employees are skimming clandestine profits by charging too much and delivering smaller portions in an epidemic of theft and shoddy services, the Union of Young Communists newspaper, Rebel Youth, said this week....The newspaper did not propose any remedies but some government critics argue that part of the answer is to allow private businesses take over more functions from the state sector. Profit by numbers. Editorial, The Guardian regarding the United Kingdom: Cracked nuclear reactors are being shut down, pushing up electricity prices. A rail operator is going into administration [bankruptcy]. An Australian bank is paying £8bn for Britain's biggest water supplier. Meanwhile, experts are calling for effluent to be recycled for drinking to avoid inevitable shortages and higher bills. What do all these events have in common? Apart from their dismal appearance in the news recently, the three sectors involved in the stories - water and sewerage, rail and energy - were once all part of the state. ... The problems facing these sectors, along with several others, date back at least to the late 1970s when governments began skimping on maintenance and investment. Corruption is endemic to all human activity. If enterprises are owned by the state, the employees (or politicians) are tempted to steal. In theory, voters are supposed to act as correctives. In practice, especially in one-party states, there are no correctives. If the enterprises are owned privately, the managers are tempted to steal. In theory, customers, regulators, and the courts are supposed to act as correctives to private enterprise. In practice, especially with a toothless media, corrupt regulators, and courts appointed by business, there are no correctives. What these stories have in common is an alienated public, prevented from doing oversight either by the dead hand of a totalitarian system or by the Cuban Communist Party; same thing.

Memo To US Media: North Korea Is Not Iran.

Former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter went to Iran recently. Here he shares his thoughts with Amy Goodman, in an interview which you probably will never see referenced by any major US newspaper or radio/TV network:

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the difference in approach the U.S. takes to North Korea, which has, according to their own reports, set off a nuclear bomb, and Iran? SCOTT RITTER: Well, the only thing that the Bush administration’s approach towards North Korea and the Bush administration’s approach towards Iran have in common is that the endgame is regime change. Other than that, what you see -- I guess the other thing they have in common is the total incoherence of their approach. Look, North Korea and Iran, you can’t compare; it’s apples and oranges. North Korea is a declared nuclear power. They even declared their intent to have nuclear weapons. They haven’t hidden this from anybody. They withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty in total conformity with the rule of law. They put the world on notice. They said, we will not participate. They gave them the appropriate timeline. They invited the inspectors out. And then, surprise, surprise, despite the fact that the Bush administration said, “Well, they’re just bluffing,” well, they’re not bluffing. They just popped one off. And guess what. If we continue to push North Korea irresponsibly -- because again, what are we talking about here? What do we want to achieve in North Korea? Do we really care about the North Korean people, want human rights to -- no, regime change. This is all about regime change. This is about the United States being able to dictate the terms of coexistence with everybody else in the world. Do people understand that our policy towards China is regime change? Do they understand what the ramifications of that is? That’s what’s going on with North Korea. And we shouldn’t be surprised that they did exactly what they said they were going to do. Now, we take Iran. Iran is a nation that says, “We don’t have a nuclear weapons program. We have no intention.” In fact, when North Korea exploded their device, the Iranians condemned it. They said nuclear weapons cannot be part of a global equation. And yet, we continue to try and lump them together as if North Korea and Iran are part and parcel of the same policy. Well, maybe they are part and parcel of the same incoherent approach that the Bush administration has taken to dealing with nuclear proliferation.
But as I said, don't expect the GOP/Media Complex to talk about this much.


Hypocrisy watch

Why God doesn't answer certain people's prayers... The warning Just as the Senate committee overseeing FDA was about to vote to send acting commissioner Lester Crawford’s nomination to the floor in April, an allegation of an affair and improper use of government funds stopped it in its tracks. The anonymous written allegation purportedly involves Crawford’s special assistant, Susan Bond. Committee chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) told reporters about the letter he received on the eve of the vote. The letter was poorly spelled, smudged, and badly written, and Enzi said he had dismissed its charges, which he declined to describe. The hypocrisy: Pray for Dr. Lester M. Crawford, newly confirmed head of the Food and Drug Administration, asking God to guide him and his team following the lengthy confirmation process. Pray for wisdom as they work to keep America's food and drug supply safe for all Americans. The reality: The Associated Press/WASHINGTON By ANDREW BRIDGES Ex-FDA chief to strike plea agreement OCT. 17 11:58 A.M. ET As head of the Food and Drug Administration, Lester Crawford oversaw a federal agency that regulates products that account for an estimated 25 cents of every dollar spent each year by U.S. consumers. At the same time, Crawford, through his broker, oversaw an investment portfolio that included tens of thousands of dollars in shares in food, beverage and medical device companies [e.g., Pepsico Inc., Sysco Corp., Kimberly-Clark Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc.] regulated by the very federal agency he ran. Crawford knew what he and his wife owned, but still failed to fully disclose that information as required by federal law, the Justice Department said in court papers charging him with filing false financial disclosure forms and conflict of interest. In some cases, Crawford even assured federal ethics officers that he and his wife had sold stock in FDA-regulated companies that the couple in fact continued to hold, according to the papers. Because of that, the former FDA commissioner was set to plead guilty Tuesday to the two misdemeanor counts, said his attorney, Barbara Van Gelder. She said Crawford would not dispute the federal government's claims under the plea agreement. A fine is likely, though the two counts each carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison. Did he sleep with Susan Bond? Did he misuse government funds? I don't know. But Enzi rammed through a nominee about whom there were many questions, not just these. The White House slapped a coat of Holy Ghost sanctimonious paint on Crawford and put him in charge of 25 cents out of every consumer dollar. The industry has been wracked with scandal ever since, and Crawford ends up convicted of crimes far more substantial than the false statemenst charge Henry Cisneros was persecuted for. Every one of the Republican leaders are hypocritical and corrupt.

They're Losing The Vets, Too

Seems that yet another generation of veterans is re-learning the fact that the Republican Party couldn't care less about them or about Americans in general:

When a NASCAR race is on, the patrons at VFW Post 392 don't hesitate to flip from the American League baseball playoffs to watch. This is a watering hole for military men and the women who keep them honest, a place where people keep name tags on their own liquor bottles behind the bar and still talk about their dislike for Bill Clinton. A full copy of the U.S. Constitution hangs on one wall, across from a bumper sticker that reads "I Love Jet Noise." In the men's bathroom, there is a "Hanoi Jane Urinal Target" in each of the commodes, along with a bull's-eye picture of Jane Fonda in all her 1960s antiwar glory. But you might be surprised by the political views of the folks inside. Hugh McCabe, a retired Navy lieutenant commander who is sipping a glass of white wine with his niece, son and daughter-in-law on a Sunday night, has had just about all he can take from Washington. "Anybody who is an incumbent, vote 'em out. That's my feeling," says McCabe, who wears a red plastic bracelet at the members-only bar here at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post to show his support for the troops. "We need a third party in government called common sense." Though he doesn't declare a party affiliation, McCabe says he voted for President Bush in 2004. He worked on the 2000 presidential primary campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., because they had both served together in Vietnam on the U.S.S. Forrestal, an aircraft carrier once docked in nearby Norfolk. Ask him about the biggest issue in the upcoming election, and he'll say he doesn't care much what Rep. Mark Foley of Florida did or didn't do over e-mail with teenage pages. But he fears his grandchildren are growing up in a more dangerous world, and he isn't happy at all with the Iraq war. "We shouldn't be there," he says. He is, in so many words, the Republican congressional leadership's worst fears come true. And if public opinion polls are to be believed, he is not alone here in Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, where the incumbent, Republican Thelma Drake, is fighting hard to retain her seat. The district, which includes parts of Norfolk, Hampton and all of Virginia Beach, has the highest concentration of active-duty military in the country. One in five voting-age residents is a military veteran. With a handful of major naval bases and the constant roar of fighter jets overhead, there is rarely a public event here that isn't preceded by a high school ROTC honor guard to present the colors of the American flag.
This district was gerrymandered by the GOP to include more veterans. That gerrymandering may be what winds up throwing it to the Democrats.

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