Sunday, April 30, 2006
Man of Lawlessness revealed!
Even in death, count on the NYT to be sons of b-----s
Pam Spaulding over at Pam's House Blend (thanks to Glenn Greenwald for the link) notes that the commenters over at Lucianne.com are accusing Stephen Colbert of being "unpatriotic" for daring to speak truth to Bush and his press corps servants. Do remember that Lucianne Goldberg is the SAME PERSON who told the New York Press tabloid, in a straight "news" interview, that Bill Clinton was "finger-fucking" his own daughter Chelsea: (click here and scroll halfway down) But I've yet to see any right-winger, and not just the drones on Lucianne.com, take Lucianne to task for being "unpatriotic".
Saturday, April 29, 2006
White House Correspondents Dinner
Stephen Colbert is devastating. You must see it. You must see it. C-SPAN will re-broadcast the dinner on Sunday beginning at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time. Colbert comes on about 2 hours 25 minutes after the start of the broadcast. They'll likely have an Internet stream in their archives afterwards. I'll be really surprised if Crooks and Liars doesn't have the highlights, too. [PW butts in: Yes, they do.] [PW butts in again: Here's a transcript, courtesy of Kos diarist Frederick over at DailyKos, as well as a link to a location of the whole Colbert appearance -- C&L just nabbed the last half.]
John Negroponte, Voice Of Reason?
In one case, shockingly enough, he is:
“According to the experts that I consult, achieving — getting 164 centrifuges to work is still a long way from having the capacity to manufacture sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon,” Negroponte said in an interview with NBC News on April 20. “Our assessment is that the prospects of an Iranian weapon are still a number of years off, and probably into the next decade,” said Negroponte, who was appointed last year as the Director of National Intelligence, a new post that supplanted the traditional primacy of the CIA director as the head of the U.S. intelligence community. Expressing a similar view about Iran’s nuclear program in a speech at the National Press Club, Negroponte said, “I think it’s important that this issue be kept in perspective.”Indeed, as Juan Cole and others have noted, it takes at least sixteen thousand centrifuges to be able to make enough fissile material for a nuclear warhead. Iran barely has a hundredth of that number. Speaking of Juan Cole, he's letting us know the whole story about the IAEA's finding in their report released yesterday: The story that our Bush-loving media won't tell us. Namely, that the IAEA found no evidence that Iran's actually pursuing nuclear weapons. Nuclear energy, yes. Weapons, no. Of course, the same people who had no problem with Ambassador Negroponte's looking the other way two decades ago while right-wing Latin American death squads raped and murdered nuns, suddenly find him intolerable now that he's talking realistically about Iran:
Some Bush supporters are now complaining that Negroponte has shown disloyalty to the President by siding with intelligence analysts who reject the direst predictions on Iran. Frank J. Gaffney Jr. an original signer of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, even called for Negroponte’s firing because of the Iran assessment and his “abysmal personnel decisions” in hiring senior intelligence analysts who were skeptics about Bush’s Iraqi WMD claims, too. In an article for Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times, Gaffney attacked Negroponte for giving top analytical jobs to Thomas Fingar, who had served as assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research, and Kenneth Brill, who was U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which debunked some of the U.S. and British claims about Iraq seeking enriched uranium from Africa. The State Department’s Office of Intelligence and Research led the dissent against the Iraq WMD case, especially over what turned out to be false claims that Iraq was developing a nuclear bomb. Gaffney specifically faulted Fingar for his testimony against neoconservative favorite John Bolton to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.That's the thing about neocons: Of all the various species of conservatives, they are the ones who are not only the least conversant with reality, but also the ones most hostile to it.
I Can't See Why Anyone Would Use Weather.com...
...when http://weather.gov/ does a much better job, and is free. (In fact, weather.com relies largely on NOAA data, anyway: Why not go to the source?)
Fourth Amendment? Ehhhh... not so much.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Friday Cat Blogging
My Lady Lightfoot is such a sweet cat, you'd never suspect that she's a threat to national security.
I have a hard time believing it myself, but, in fact, she is. Through next Saturday, anyway.
Earlier this week, Lightfoot got radiation treatment to destroy a benign tumor that was making her hyperthyroid (she wasn't sick, but she'd lost a lot of weight). The treatment consisted of making her swallow a capsule of radioactive iodine, which targeted the tumor and left the rest of her strictly alone; she'll be just fine, thanks. But the thing about the radioactive iodine is that what goes in must come out, and for a couple of half-lives (i.e. through next Saturday) what comes out will be measurably radioactive.
I have been strictly enjoined not to put the used litter in the trash, but to use flushable litter and flush it down the toilet. I was bemused at being told that I should send a radioactive substance (never mind that the level of radioactivity is literally too small to harm a cat) into the water supply. I was even more bemused when the veterinarian explained why I can't put it in the trash.
Our landfills had radiation detectors installed at all the entrances "after 9/11", just in case anybody's making a dirty bomb in their kitchen. Amateur bomb-makers, it is assumed, would not maintain "clean" facilities, but would unavoidably contaminate their house, including their garbage. So if a garbage truck sets off the radiation detectors, the Feds will know that there are terrorists somewhere in the neighborhood where the garbage was collected that day, and can go find them and arrest them.
I am not making that up. For the next week, I cannot put used cat litter in the trash, because I would cause the Feds to waste much time looking for nonexistent terrorists. Or perhaps cause my innocent cat to be sent to Guantànamo, and me with her.
Isn't it reassuring to know that, even though the Bush Administration cannot provide the means to inspect cargo at our seaports, at least our landfills are protected from radioactive cat poop?
Kinda Makes The Bogus Charges Against George Galloway Pale In Comparison, Eh?
Remember how the GOP/Media Complex got all hot and bothered about George Galloway's alleged crimes in connection with the UN's Oil-for-Food Program? The allegations that Galloway has repeatedly used the courts to debunk? Here's some news that puts what he's alleged to have done -- along with the entire amounts allegedly pilfered from the program -- into a neat perspective. Think about this, and then think about the likelihood that you will hear less about this than you heard about the slanders hurled against Galloway.
Touch-free torture: America becomes the USSR
This Week In Canadian Politics
Saturday morning, Canada awoke to the news that four of her soldiers in Afghanistan were killed by a roadside bomb. It was the worst day for Canadain forces in the country. There were calls for Stephen Harper to lower the flags on Parliament Hill and order the same for other government sites. Harper refused.Hmmmm, sound like anyone we know? Some Canadians have noticed this as well. But wait, there's more!
Many local governments and agencies decided to honour the request and lowered the flags. Even Conservative Premier Ralph Klein ordered flags to be flown at half-mast. Harper continued to refuse.
Harper's Accountability Act Gets A Poster Boy - A ConservativeA few more scandals like this, and Harper might not make it past Canada Day.
Former Tory MP Gurmant Grewal is being investigated by the RCMP for what looks like illegal campaign contibutions (what is it with Conservatives and illegal activity??)
In rare move, a top RCMP officer with the force's commercial crime section has officially confirmed former B.C. Tory MP Gurmant Grewal is under criminal investigation relating to tens of thousands of dollars in donations given to him by members of the Indo-Canadian community.
"The RCMP's commercial crime section is conducting an investigation into the handling of campaign contributions and political donations," said section head Insp. Kevin DeBruyckere on Sunday. "We are hoping to wrap up the investigation within a couple of months."
Numerous donors who gave Grewal amounts ranging from $200 to $5,000 said they never received receipts for political donations and often were asked by the former MP to make the cheque payable to his own name. On Friday, the Vancouver Province revealed some of the cheques were deposited into Grewal's own account.
Donors also said at least four Mounties were blazing a trail through the community and brought with them cheques the RCMP appeared to have obtained by "accessing" Grewal's accounts at several banks in British Columbia's Lower Mainland.
But this is the first time the RCMP have publicly stated they're investigating Grewal who didn't run in the last election. Grewal was first elected to office in the Surrey Central riding in 1997 and ran successfully for office in two more general elections.
What makes this so funny is that Steven Harper is trying to get his Accountability Act passed. The whole idea is the stop campaign contributions that could corrupt a politican. Looks like Grewal is the new poster boy for that campaign.
British ballot corruption targeted at Galloway; Berlusconi enlists lord of the flies
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Ever wonder who the world's tallest women are?
Kraft And It Shareholders To Anti-Gay Bigots: STFU
Some good news today:
Kraft Foods Inc. shareholders Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that the Northfield-based food and beverage giant cut sponsorship for the Chicago-hosted 2006 Gay Games and future competitions. Saying the event promotes gay activity that increases the likelihood of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and is inconsistent with the company's health-focused initiatives, shareholder Marcella Meyer of Chicago presented the proposal before the annual meeting in East Hanover, N.J. She saw 99 percent of the votes cast against the proposal, as company directors recommended. Kraft has committed $25,000 to the group that organizes the games, taking place in Chicago and area suburbs over eight days in July. Last year, Kraft contributed more than $85 million in food and cash to hundreds of non-profit organizations worldwide.Marcella Meyer is apparently an M.D. with an anti-sex fetish who has a long history of making crackpot resolutions that saner humans shoot down.
American Dynasty. Land of Opportunity Turns Sterile.
Frank v. Klein: The Butt-Whipping
Joe Klein is a prime example of the sort of bought-off has-beens and never-weres that dutifully regurgitate GOP/DLC blast-faxes as Received Wisdom in the US press. Which is why it's simultaneously gladdening and saddening to see Frank's exquisite takedown-cum-review of Klein's new hymn to the GOP/DLC/Media Axis. Gladdening, because it's always a joy to watch a man of ethics, logic and learning at work disembowelling someone else's unethical, nonsensical propaganda. Saddening, because in our corrupt GOP/DLC/Media environment, Joe Klein is rewarded handsomely for his unethical, nonsensical propaganda. The money shots from Frank's review (thanks to Atrios for the link):
As it happens, there’s a much simpler way to make sense of Politics Lost. It’s this: The Democratic Leadership Council is always right. This is the real master narrative behind this confusing collection of anecdotes. When figures associated with the centrist D.L.C. show up in Mr. Klein’s text, you can be certain they’re going to turn out to be helpful or insightful. They will get the last word in revealing the screw-ups of rival consultants; they will be hailed for their wisdom; they will be greeted as the author’s “best friends in politics.” And to guess how Joe Klein is going to interpret a particular campaign or historical incident, you need only know what the D.L.C. has said about it in the council’s various publications or the op-eds of its leaders. Read deeply enough in the D.L.C.’s works and you will find it all: the straying, chastisement, redemption and eventual sainthood of Bill Clinton; the departure of Al Gore from the path of centrist righteousness and his resulting destruction; the dangerous wrongness of Howard Dean; and even Mr. Klein’s use of the word “populism” to signify economic liberalism of the New Deal/Great Society variety, which is a D.L.C. trademark. Joe Klein loves to gripe.And:
Now, I know it’s customary in D.C. journalism to understand Harry Truman the way Joe Klein does: as a symbol, as a lovable, plain-spoken guy from the “heartland” largely unconnected to actual politics (sort of the way the folkies regarded Woody Guthrie, come to think of it). So maybe it’s a little unfair of me to call attention to what Truman actually said. But Mr. Klein’s repetitive invocation of Truman, plus a little regional pride in the man, compelled me to look up the Turnip Day speech. Having listened to a recording of it, I think Mr. Klein is right in insisting that it be regarded as a model for Democratic candidates. I can also report that what Truman said in the speech is in almost every particular the precise opposite of what Joe Klein advises contemporary Democrats to say. Harry Truman was no centrist, and neither was he a radical. Still, listening to his ferocious ad-libs back in 1948 (which was, incidentally, not during the Great Depression), his audience could have had few doubts about what the Democratic Party stood for. Truman was explicit: “[T]he Democratic Party is the people’s party, and the Republican Party is the party of special interest, and it always has been and always will be.” He reveled in what Mr. Klein would call “class war,” calling a Republican tax cut a “rich man’s tax bill” that “helps the rich and sticks a knife into the back of the poor” and describing politics as a contest between the “common everyday man” and the “favored classes,” the “privileged few.” Even more astonishingly, Truman went on to talk policy in some detail, with special emphasis on Mr. Klein’s hated “jobs, health-care, and blah-blah-blah”: He called for the construction of public housing, an increase in the minimum wage, expansion of Social Security, a national health-care program and the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act. And this sort of high-octane oratory propelled Truman on to win the election in a historic upset. Joe Klein is not the only one to moan about the polarized age in which we are supposedly living these days, with all the power having gravitated to “the extremes of both left and right,” to use the standard deploring formula. Everyone in pundit-land moans this way, and they can be fairly confident that their buddy the CNN host won’t contradict them when they so moan. But someone needs to rub their faces in the fact that, compared to today’s “polarized” Democratic Party, their lovable old Harry Truman sounds like a fire-breathing anarchist, defending positions so far to the left that we have forgotten that one of the two major parties ever held them. Maybe what ails us isn’t a deficit of authenticity or the pull of the poles; maybe it’s something Truman would have grasped in a Kansas City minute: the power of money, the push of the right. Maybe squishy centrism is the problem, not the solution. And maybe we could use a little more polarization of the Turnip Day variety.
The GOP Obsession with ANWR
The headline news: Senators to push for $100 gas rebate checks
Every American taxpayer would get a $100 rebate check to offset the pain of higher pump prices for gasoline, under an amendment Senate Republicans hope to bring to a vote Thursday.The real goal of this amendment didn't make it into the headline:
However, the GOP energy package may face tough sledding because it also includes a controversial proposal to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil exploration, which most Democrats and some moderate Republicans oppose.Message to Republicans: No matter how high the price of gasoline goes, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will still have only a six-month supply of oil under it, and it will still take years of development to get it out. The effect on the current price of gas— I was about to say the effect would be zero, but then I realized the price would probably increase even more, to pay for the cost of research and development in the ANWR. So will you people please just give it up and get over it? That white whale you've been chasing doesn't live in the Alaskan tundra.
Bob Herbert on Bush
As excerpted in a Daily Kos diary. Short version: Subpoena power is a wonderful thing. It would be a pity if the Democrats didn't use it once they won control of Congress this fall.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Washington Post Makes a Joke of its Blog Standards; CSIS Miscalculates on Iran
The U.S. Senate needs to remove Pat Roberts from the Intelligence Committee
Keep p--sing us off, guys
The Old Reliables
Talk about being stuck in the past. The Republican leadership's brilliant plan for winning the 2006 elections: Lying to people about trial lawyers, gay people, and the estate tax. Whoo-hooo! (Too bad for them that it's not going to be enough this time.) Then again, I shouldn't be surprised: Republicans still pass around Clinton jokes to one another, a good five years after the Big Dog left office. You didn't see Democrats in 1979 habitually telling each other Nixon jokes every single day; apparently Republicans have nothing better to do. This is as good a time as any to point out that the anti-estate-tax drive is being pushed by 18 of America's hyper-richest families, who are worth over $185 billion (yes, BILLION). The repeal of the estate tax would not put a dime into the pockets of the vast majority of Americans, but it would give these 18 Royal Families a $70-billion-plus gift.
Safavian Hearts Abramoff
Something to come back to whenever you hear someone say that the Bush Junta wasn't all that close to Jack Abramoff. Note that this e-mail dates from December 17, 2000. Bush hadn't even been sworn in yet -- hell, the legal issues still hadn't been fully settled (not that they ever really were) -- and David Safavian is sucking up to Our Jack. David Safavian, who will go on to run the General Services Administration (the Federal government's lead procurement agency), and eventually go to trial next month (and very likely prison, unless he's done the mother of all plea agreements) for doing all sorts of stinky stuff in connection with his good buddy Abramoff.
So cracked, some light shines through: Congressman Ron Paul
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Shame is not dead in the GOP
Sounds About Right
I got this in an e-mail from a friend today:
I have a friend on wall street who told me he heard from an energy analyst that 38 dollars of every barrel of oil now can be directly attributable to our invasion of Iraq, which this guy termed "the greatest single economic disaster in American history."That sounds about right. And that's probably a big reason why Wall Street, after over a decade of spurning Democrats, now is giving to them more than they give to Republicans.
The Wages of Sin is Death (even if the sin was Bushco's)
Serious Investors Turning To (and perhaps into) Democrats
Now this is interesting:
Democrats Beat Republicans in 2005 Funding on Wall Street
Democrats outdid Republicans last year in attracting political donations from investment banks, brokerages and fund managers for the first time since 1994, helped by support from hedge funds and companies such as Merrill Lynch & Co.
Democrats got $13.6 million, or 52 percent of the financial industry's $26.3 million in political donations in 2005, said the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan Washington group that researches the influence of money on elections and public policy. In the two years leading up to the 2004 presidential election, Republicans received 52 percent of the $91.6 million given by the industry.
"Wall Street wants change" on issues such as the Iraq war and the budget deficit, said James Torrey, chairman of the Torrey Funds, which manages about $1 billion. "I'm finding people who are registered Republicans who are saying to me, `what can I do to help?'"
Getting Around Censorware
Since a lot of web-censoring software is set to block liberal sites but not conservative ones, I thought I'd provide some handy tips courtesy of Peacefire (which is blocked by blocking software, even though neo-Nazi sites like Stormfront aren't):
To get around your blocking software:
1. First, try a circumvention site like http://www.StupidCensorship.com. Obviously, since that site has been linked on our page for months, that will only work if your blocking software doesn't update its blocked-site list very often, but some places it is still accessible. Many Web sites are blocked in China, for example, but http://www.StupidCensorship.com/ still isn't. 2. If that doesn't work, you can join our e-mail list where we mail out new Circumventor sites every 3 or 4 days. Of course, employees of blocking software companies have gotten on this list as well, so they add our sites to their blocked-site database as soon as we mail them out, but in most places it takes 3-4 days for the blocked-site list to be updated. So the latest one that we mail out, should usually still work. 3. If you have a computer with an uncensored Internet connection, you can follow these easy steps to set up your own Circumventor site. For example, if you want to get around blocking software at work, and you have a home computer with an uncensored Internet connection, you can install the Circumventor on your home computer. Then it will give you a new URL, and you can take that URL in with you to work and type it into your browser to get around the network blocking software. 4. If you're trying to get around blocking software that's installed on the local computer, and not on the network, use these instructions to boot from the Ubuntu Live CD. (These instructions include tips on how to tell the difference between blocking software that's installed "on the local computer" and software that's installed "on the network".)
Monday, April 24, 2006
Covering For Mister Thirty-Three Percent
Josh Marshall (via Atrios) was on the phone with Tyler Drumheller yesterday evening. Drumheller is the former CIA officer who was on 60 Minutes last night, explaining that the CIA knew, and kept telling the Bush Administration, that Saddam didn't have squat as far as WMD went. They knew that the Niger yellowcake story was bogus, and told Bush's people -- who then went on as if they hadn't been told. Furthermore, Drumheller brings up the case of Naji Sabri, Iraq's Foreign Minister under Saddam, who the CIA had managed to convert into an operative just before the US invaded in 2003. The Bush Administration was very interested in what such a high-value prize had to say -- that is, until he confirmed what the CIA, UNSCOM, and every other group that actually knew what it was doing had already stated: Saddam had used up all the WMD that Reagan and Rumsfeld and Cheney had given him in the 1980s, and never replaced it. As Marshall says:
Drumheller's account is pretty probative evidence on the question of whether the White House politicized and cherry-picked the Iraq intelligence. So why didn't we hear about any of this in the reports of those Iraq intel commissions that have given the White House a clean bill of health on distorting the intel and misleading the country about what we knew about Iraq's alleged WMD programs? Think about it. It's devastating evidence against their credibility on a slew of levels. Did you read in any of those reports -- even in a way that would protect sources and methods -- that the CIA had turned a key member of the Iraqi regime, that that guy had said there weren't any active weapons programs, and that the White House lost interest in what he was saying as soon as they realized it didn't help the case for war? What about what he said about the Niger story? Did the Robb-Silbermann Commission not hear about what Drumheller had to say? What about the Roberts Committee? I asked Drumheller just those questions when I spoke to him early this evening. He was quite clear. He was interviewed by the Robb-Silbermann Commission. Three times apparently. Did he tell them everything he revealed on tonight's 60 Minutes segment. Absolutely. Drumheller was also interviewed twice by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the Roberts Committee) but apparently only after they released their summer 2004 report. Now, quite a few of us have been arguing for almost two years now that those reports were fundamentally dishonest in the story they told about why we were so badly misled in the lead up to war. The fact that none of Drumheller's story managed to find its way into those reports, I think, speaks volumes about the agenda that the writers of those reports were pursuing. "I was stunned," Drumheller told me, when so little of the stuff he had told the commission's and the committee's investigators ended up in their reports. His colleagues, he said, were equally "in shock" that so little of what they related ended up in the reports either. What Drumheller has to say adds quite a lot to our knowledge of what happened in the lead up to war. But what it shows even more clearly is that none of this stuff has yet been investigated by anyone whose principal goal is not covering for the White House.This is why we need a Democratic Congress. So long as the Democrats in Congress don't have the power to issue subpoenas, this stuff (and far worse) will stay unpunished.
Taxpayer-Funded Theocracy? Let's Not
The focus of this story out of Kentucky is homophobia, but there's an aspect to it that should also raise the alarm on another issue.
Gay activists and some business leaders say they're concerned recent actions by Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration and the General Assembly could be construed as anti-gay and drive away businesses interested in coming to the state. [...] Hawse said two decisions this month - one by Fletcher to remove wording from an executive order that would protect homosexual employees from discrimination and another by the General Assembly to give $10 million to a private university that expelled a student for being gay - send the wrong message to potential investors.The private university's bigotry isn't the only reason to oppose that $10 million giveaway:
The General Assembly set aside $10 million in its budget for a pharmacy school at the University of the Cumberlands.... College officials have said a university policy allows them to expel a student who "promotes sexual behavior not consistent with Christian principles," including homosexuality.A university that institutionalizes passing judgment on other people's sexual behavior wants to train pharmacists. What are the odds that those pharmacists will be trained to refuse to fill prescriptions for any form of birth control? Tell Gov. Fletcher to veto the funding. Tell your legislator to oppose it, too. PW butts in: The proposed pharmacy school, because of its anti-gay policies (and probably for other, academic reasons as well), cannot ever be accredited. Therefore, would-be pharmacists who are duped into attending this school may as well be flushing their money -- or their parents' money -- down a toilet for all the good it'll do them. One of the dirty little ways in which the far right (especially the religio-racist right) rips off its followers is in their setting up bogus colleges and universities which, since they are little more than glorified madrassas or Sunday schools, will never be accredited; thus, the kids and their parents will have wasted five or even six figures' worth of money on something that will cause real-world employers to snicker behind their backs as they show them the door.
MEC replies: That little tidbit raises the question of why the state of Kentucky was fixing to pour $10 million in tax revenue down that rathole. Why give so much money to not just a private school, but an unaccredited private school?
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Speaks For Itself
From The Nation via CBS News:
Last Sunday, the New York Times reported that — for the first time — a full-time worker earning minimum wage cannot afford a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in America at market rates. That means more and more people like Michelle Kennedy — a former Senate page and author of "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (with Kids) in America" — are finding themselves homeless and living out of their cars. [...] This past weekend Robert Kuttner argued in the Boston Globe that while people are blaming undocumented workers for driving down wages, the real villains are "the people running the government, who have made sure that the lions' share of the productivity gains go to the richest 1 percent of Americans. With different tax, labor, health, and housing policies, native-born workers and immigrants alike could get a fairer share of our productive economy." Kuttner points to Census data showing that "median household income fell 3.8 percent, or $1,700, from 1999 to 2004...during a period when average productivity rose 3 percent per year." And while income is falling, working people are increasingly squeezed. Costs for housing, healthcare, education and childcare rose 46 percent between 1991 and 2002, according to economist Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute. And the situation is getting worse. Look at the Delphi Corporation's moves as reported in the Washington Post on Saturday. The company asked a bankruptcy judge to void its union contracts so it could lower worker wages and benefits. CEO Steve Miller played the ever-reliable global competition card saying, "At the end of the day, Delphi must be competitive in the global marketplace." But as Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University, makes clear, this new tactic will further erode labor's power in the workplace. "What in our laws and in our democracy gives a bankruptcy judge the right to take away freedom of association and collective bargaining?" Bronfenbrenner asked. "Bankruptcy judges should not have that power. Now they do."What was that again about a Bush boom? (And for whom?)
Top physicists warn Bush that first use of nuclear weapons would endanger the US
Subject Traffic Jam
What to write about today?
Should I mention Susie Bright's discussion of, among other things, just why Army recruiters don't bother with colleges where the students are the kids of upscale Republicans?
Or should I highlight Susie's discussion of racism in the film industry (both porn and mainstream), specifically the idea that black men must never have sex with white women?
Or how about Armando's discovery that the NYT has cravenly rewritten Dan Bilefsky's April 20 story on CIA secret prisons (a story which follows up on Dana Priest's excellent Pulitzer-winning work) in Europe to make it more a) inaccurate and b) Bush-friendly? This despite the fact that Deutsche Welle has already followed up on Dana Priest's original stories to confirm that the CIA did and does have secret prisons in Europe, most likely in Sweden. (By the way: The NYT's Orwellian editing hasn't (yet) reached the IHT version of the Dan Bilefsky story. Check it out here, while you still can.)
Or I could just go make a pizza.
Oh, what the hell -- I'm hungry:
It's a Plot
Security guru Bruce Schneier is looking for a few good plots. Movie plots, that is, like the "movie-plot threats" the Department of Homeland Security keeps announcing the terrorists are plotting, only more interesting, okay?
For a while now, I have been writing about our penchant for "movie-plot threats": terrorist fears based on very specific attack scenarios. Terrorists with crop dusters, terrorists exploding baby carriages in subways, terrorists filling school buses with explosives -- these are all movie-plot threats. They're good for scaring people, but it's just silly to build national security policy around them. But if we're going to worry about unlikely attacks, why can't they be exciting and innovative ones? If Americans are going to be scared, shouldn't they be scared of things that are really scary? "Blowing up the Super Bowl" is a movie plot to be sure, but it's not a very good movie. Let's kick this up a notch. [...] Post your movie plots here on this blog. Judging will be by me, swayed by popular acclaim in the blog comments section. The prize will be an autographed copy of Beyond Fear. And if I can swing it, a phone call with a real live movie producer.The deadline is April 30, 2006. I've got a plot for a really scary movie: an FBI agent learns about a group of terrorists inside the United States who are planning to crash airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, only she can't get anybody at headquarters to read her reports. Meanwhile, intelligence agencies also have evidence pointing to the plot, but their reports sit unread on the President's desk because he's on vacation.... Oh, wait. A movie plot has to be believable. Nobody'd believe this one. But I think Jodie Foster should play the FBI agent.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Bush and his buddies hate him -- and here's why, according to an e-mail from BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast:
If you thought high oil prices were just a blip think again. In an exclusive interview with Greg Palast for BBC Newsnight the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ruled out any return to the era of cheap oil. The colourful Venezuelan leader hosts the OPEC meeting on June 1 in Caracas and he will ask OPEC to set $50 a barrel - the average price last year - as the long term level. During the 1990s the price of oil had hovered around the $20 mark falling as low as $10 a barrel in early 1999. Chavez told Newsnight "we're trying to find an equilibrium. The price of oil could remain at the low level of $50. That's a fair price it's not a high price". Hugo Chavez will have added clout at this OPEC meeting. US Department of Energy analyses seen by Newsnight show that at $50 a barrel Venezuela - not Saudi Arabia - will have the biggest oil reserves in OPEC. Venezuela has vast deposits of extra heavy oil in the Orinoco. Traditionally these have not been counted because at $20 a barrel they were too expensive to exploit - but at $50 a barrel melting them into liquid petroleum becomes extremely profitable. The US DoE report shows that at today's prices Venezuela's oil reserves are bigger than those of the entire Middle East including Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Iran and Iraq. The US DoE also identifies Canada as another future oil superpower. Venezuela's deposits alone could extend the oil age for another 100 years. The US DoE estimates that Chavez controls 1.3 trillion barrels of oil - more than the entire declared oil reserves of the rest of the planet. Hugo Chavez told Newsnight's Greg Palast that "Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. In the future Venezuela won't have any more oil - but that's in the 22nd century. Venezuela has oil for 200 years." Chavez will ask the OPEC meeting in June to formally accept that Venezuela's reserves are now bigger than Saudi Arabia's. Chavez's increased muscle will not go down well in Washington. In 2002 the Bush administration welcomed an attempted coup against Chavez. He told Newsnight that the Americans had organised it in an attempt to get hold of Venezuela's oil. Ironically by invading Iraq George Bush has boosted oil prices and effectively transferred billions of dollars from American consumers to Chavez. Up to $200 million a day - half of it from the US - is flooding into Caracas. Chavez is spending this on building infrastructure and increasing the minimum wage and improving health and education in the poor ranchos which surround the cities. As a result even his opponents accept that Chavez is extremely popular and will easily win the next Presidential election in December. Chavez is also spending billions in the rest of Latin America - exchanging contracts for oil tankers and infrastructure projects and buying up loans in Argentina and Brazil. He has made cheap oil deals with Ecuador and the Caribbean. He has also spent some of the dollars which have come in from the US supporting Fidel Castro in Cuba. In return Cuba has supplied the thousands of doctors and teachers who are transforming conditions in the barrios of Caracas. Washington accuses Chavez of buying influence in Latin America. The Newsnight team had to endure the long speeches and marathon six hour TV shows which Hugo Chavez delights in. Chavez posed for Newsnight posing with the sword of Simon Bolivar the 18th century liberator who drove out Spanish imperialists from South America. The symbolism was clear but behind the showman is a clever political brain. Chavez has not invaded any foreign countries. He does not have secret prisons at home or abroad. Chavez has repeatedly won democratic elections and the opposition operates freely although some members have been charged with accepting illegal foreign donations. Nonetheless George Bush's administration repeatedly targets Chavez on human rights and finances his opponents. Earlier this year US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld compared Chavez to Hitler - because he was elected democratically - and last year the influential American evangelist Pat Robertson called for his assassination. Robertson later apologized and said that he did not "necessarily" have to be killed so long as he was kidnapped by American special forces. Chavez told Newsnight that he was still concerned that George Bush had not learnt the lessons of Iraq and would order an invasion to try to secure Venezuela's oil. "I pray this will not happen because US soldiers will bite the dust and so will we, Venezuelans". He warned that any such attempt would lead to a prolonged guerilla war and an end to oil production. "The US people should know there will be no oil for anyone". Chavez does not accept Tony Blair's criticism of him for lining up with Fidel Castro. He told Newsnight "if someone is sleeping together it is Bush and Blair. They share the same bed." -- Also see The Guardian story about the report: http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,1745467,00.html
Friday, April 21, 2006
Analysis of Odom speech
Friday Cat Blogging
The Road to Serfdom
Athenians And Visigoths
The graduation speech Neil Postman never got to give, but which he generously provided for others to give if they liked. Here's a sampling therefrom:
....I want to tell you about two groups of people who lived many years ago but whose influence is still with us. They were very different from each other, representing opposite values and traditions. I think it is appropriate for you to be reminded of them on this day because, sooner than you know, you must align yourself with the spirit of one or the spirit of the other.The two groups: Athenians and Visigoths. And how does Postman define modern-day Athenians and modern-day Visigoths?
Now, the point I want to make is that the Athenians and the Visigoths still survive, and they do so through us and the ways in which we conduct our lives. All around us-in this hall, in this community, in our city-there are people whose way of looking at the world reflects the way of the Athenians, and there are people whose way is the way of the Visigoths. I do not mean, of course, that our modern-day Athenians roam abstractedly through the streets reciting poetry and philosophy, or that the modern-day Visigoths are killers. I mean that to be an Athenian or a Visigoth is to organize your life around a set of values. An Athenian is an idea. And a Visigoth is an idea. Let me tell you briefly what these ideas consist of. To be an Athenian is to hold knowledge and, especially the quest for knowledge in high esteem. To contemplate, to reason, to experiment, to question-these are, to an Athenian, the most exalted activities a person can perform. To a Visigoth, the quest for knowledge is useless unless it can help you to earn money or to gain power over other people. To be an Athenian is to cherish language because you believe it to be humankind's most precious gift. In their use of language, Athenians strive for grace, precision, and variety. And they admire those who can achieve such skill. To a Visigoth, one word is as good as another, one sentence in distinguishable from another. A Visigoth's language aspires to nothing higher than the cliché. To be an Athenian is to understand that the thread which holds civilized society together is thin and vulnerable; therefore, Athenians place great value on tradition, social restraint, and continuity. To an Athenian, bad manners are acts of violence against the social order. The modern Visigoth cares very little about any of this. The Visigoths think of themselves as the center of the universe. Tradition exists for their own convenience, good manners are an affectation and a burden, and history is merely what is in yesterday's newspaper. To be an Athenian is to take an interest in public affairs and the improvement of public behavior. Indeed, the ancient Athenians had a word for people who did not. The word was idiotes, from which we get our word "idiot." A modern Visigoth is interested only in his own affairs and has no sense of the meaning of community. And, finally, to be an Athenian is to esteem the discipline, skill, and taste that are required to produce enduring art. Therefore, in approaching a work of art, Athenians prepare their imagination through learning and experience. To a Visigoth, there is no measure of artistic excellence except popularity. What catches the fancy of the multitude is good. No other standard is respected or even acknowledged by the Visigoth. Now, it must be obvious what all of this has to do with you. Eventually, like the rest of us, you must be on one side or the other. You must be an Athenian or a Visigoth. Of course, it is much harder to be an Athenian, for you must learn how to be one, you must work at being one, whereas we are all, in a way, natural-born Visigoths. That is why there are so many more Visigoths than Athenians. And I must tell you that you do not become an Athenian merely by attending school or accumulating academic degrees. My father-in-law was one of the most committed Athenians I have ever known, and he spent his entire adult life working as a dress cutter on Seventh Avenue in New York City. On the other hand, I know physicians, lawyers, and engineers who are Visigoths of unmistakable persuasion. And I must also tell you, as much in sorrow as in shame, that at some of our great universities, perhaps even this one, there are professors of whom we may fairly say they are closet Visigoths. And yet, you must not doubt for a moment that a school, after all, is essentially an Athenian idea. There is a direct link between the cultural achievements of Athens and what the faculty at this university is all about. I have no difficulty imagining that Plato, Aristotle, or Democritus would be quite at home in our class rooms. A Visigoth would merely scrawl obscenities on the wall. And so, whether you were aware of it or not, the purpose of your having been at this university was to give you a glimpse of the Athenian way, to interest you in the Athenian way. We cannot know on this day how many of you will choose that way and how many will not. You are young and it is not given to us to see your future. But I will tell you this, with which I will close: I can wish for you no higher compliment than that in the future it will be reported that among your graduating class the Athenians mightily outnumbered the Visigoths. Thank you, and congratulations.Athenian or Visigoth? The choice is yours.
70% 72% Of Us Aren't "Booming"
Bonddad uses recent polling figures and economic data to show that most Americans know that what's trickling down on them from above sure as hell isn't rain. UPDATE: I corrected the number cited in my header, and also decided to provide a few out-takes from Bonddad's post:
Jobs Bush's record of establishment job growth is the worst of the last 40 years by far. The compound annual growth rate of establishment jobs in this recovery is .6%. The next worst performance occurred under Clinton at 2% CAGR. In other words, barring an economic miracle, Bush has no chance of creating enough jobs to move up to second worst record of establishment job creation of the last 40 years. Those are the facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also - remember how "the availability of good jobs" was a really important factor for people? Well - let's not forget this report from Global Insight prepared for the National Conference of Mayors that found the top 10 areas of job creation from 2003-2005 paid $9000 less than the top ten areas of job loss in 2001-2003. Funny - I don't remember if Fox news reported on this or not.... Income How happy would you feel if you hadn't had a raise in 5 years? That's the situation for most Americans during this recovery. In January 2001, non-supervisory wages - which represent the wages of 80% of the workforce - were $14.28. These wages were $16.49 in March 2006 for an increase of 15.47%. Over the same time, the nation's inflation index increased from 175.1 to 199.8, for an increase of 14.10%. That means the average person has seen their pay increase 1.37% in 5 years or a compound annual growth rate of .26%. I don't know about you - but that would thrill me to no end. Expect to hear about the increase in "disposable income" - FOX News started quoting this figure in their pole (their pole was borderline push-polling). What FOX News fails to realize (or realizes and doesn't care about) is this is a macro-statistic that includes all income levels. As the FDIC recently noted in its analysis of the US savings crisis, US macro statistics are heavily skewed by upper-income taxpayers who are doing just fine under Bush's policies. Their prosperity is skewing macro-statistics higher. This is why using the non-supervisory wage figure is very important - it represents what most people are experiencing. So, I ask the question again - how happy would you be if you had no pay raise in 5 years?And I'll chime in, too: How happy would YOU be if you hadn't had a pay raise in five years? Hello? Anyone? Bueller?
In This Case, Indictments Really Are "Just Around The Corner"
Remember the GOP/Media Complex's Starr-fed mantra during 1998 and 1999? "Indictments are just around the corner"? Well, they never were, it turns out. However, with regard to the outing by Bush White House officials of Valerie Plame as a CIA NOC -- an incident known to many of as TreasonGate -- indictments really are just around the corner. In fact, in the case of Scooter Libby's TreasonGate involvement, they've already started happening. And he's just the first. When the news of Rove's reassignment hit earlier this week, many Republicans and Democrats alike believed it was a ploy to free up Rove to do political work. But, since all he's essentially done while in the West Wing is that very sort of political work, that rationale didn't make sense to me -- especially since he can do that sort of work more effectively while physically in the White House, where he has the ability to call Bush to the phone for some extra-special arm-twisting. I knew that there had to be another reason -- and that it was most likely connected to the facts that a) Rove is still a subject of the TreasonGate grand jury's investigation, and b) the TreasonGate grand jury started meeting again this week. And it looks like I was right. From Eschaton last night:
Rover On Countdown, David Shuster said that Rove is likely heading for an indictment. -Atrios 8:22 PMAnd from TruthOut yesterday:
Just as the news broke Wednesday about Scott McClellan resigning as White House press secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove shedding some of his policy duties, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald met with the grand jury hearing evidence in the CIA leak case and introduced additional evidence against Rove, attorneys and other US officials close to the investigation said. The grand jury session in federal court in Washington, DC, sources close to the case said, was the first time this year that Fitzgerald told the jurors that he would soon present them with a list of criminal charges he intends to file against Rove in hopes of having the grand jury return a multi-count indictment against Rove. In an interview Wednesday, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove remains a "subject" of Fitzgerald's two-year-old probe. "Mr. Rove is still a subject of the investigation," Luskin said. In a previous interview, Luskin asserted that Rove would not be indicted by Fitzgerald, but he was unwilling to make that prediction again Wednesday.Why indict Rove? Because it looks like Fitzy caught him lying repeatedly under oath, for one thing:
Fitzgerald is said to have introduced more evidence Wednesday alleging Rove lied to FBI investigators and the grand jury when he was questioned about how he found out that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA and whether he shared that information with the media, attorneys close to the case said. Fitzgerald told the grand jury that Rove lied to investigators and the prosecutor eight out of the nine times he was questioned about the leak and also tried to cover-up his role in disseminating Plame Wilson's CIA status to at least two reporters. Additionally, an FBI investigator reread to jurors testimony from other witnesses in the case that purportedly implicates Rove in playing a role in the leak and the campaign to discredit Plame Wilson's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, whose criticism of the Bush administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence lead to his wife being unmasked as a covert CIA operative. [...] Luskin wouldn't comment on whether the investigation of Rove continues to center on alleged misleading statements to which Rove testified regarding a July 2003 conversation he had about Plame Wilson with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper. Sources close to the investigation, however, confirmed that is exactly what Fitzgerald has continued to focus on and what he discussed with the grand jury Wednesday. Luskin said that Rove simply forgot about his conversation with Cooper when he testified before the grand jury because Rove had been dealing with other pressing matters, such as Bush's reelection campaign. Rove's story began to unravel when Fitzgerald discovered the existence of an email Rove sent to then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley after he spoke with Cooper on July 11, 2003. Rove did not disclose the existence of the email during his first two appearances before the grand jury. Rove testified that he found out about Plame Wilson after her identity was disclosed in several news stories. "I didn't take the bait," Rove wrote in the email to Hadley immediately following his conversation with Cooper. "Matt Cooper called to give me a heads-up that he's got a welfare reform story coming. When he finished his brief heads-up he immediately launched into Niger. Isn't this damaging? Hasn't the president been hurt? I didn't take the bait, but I said if I were him I wouldn't get Time far out in front on this."Focus on political work? Hah. Right now, Karl's focusing on trying to keep out of prison. He's going to be spending lots of quality time with his lawyers from now on.
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