Friday, June 30, 2006
Liars, cheaters, knaves
Readers Digest of ICH
Friday Cat Blogging
Noted with pleasure: Spocko's brain
Curt Weldon, WMD Expert. (Not.)
By the way, remember the ancient and deteriorated "WMD" Santorum and Weldon are yammering about? A real WMD expert (not Curt Weldon) confirms what we already knew: You have chemicals under your kitchen sink that are more dangerous. The stuff Weldon and Company are whining about? It stopped being WMD about a quarter of a century ago.
Great Moments In GOP Hilarity, Minnesota Edition
Just as the Republican Congress and their tame media enablers are calling for things like putting the NYT's Bill Keller to death for revealing "secrets" that were already revealed by the Bush Administration, Minnesota Republicans are now blasting the StarTribune for covering a story that the Minnesota GOP has, in a press release, urged them to cover. This is what happens, Big Media, when you coddle and suck up to Republicans and give in to their demands, as you have done for decades. They will take the power over you that you have ceded to them, and use it to attempt to destroy you.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Hey, remember that Tightly-Held Anti-Terror Secret those dirty Commie traitors at the NYT revealed? Well, the dirtier Commie traitors of the Bush Administration revealed it two years ago. What's more, it turns out that the terrorists also knew about it and were taking measures to work around it. I'm waiting for the right wingnuts like Melanie Morgan to demand that George W. Bush be executed for revealing this not-so-secret secret, just as she called for the gassing of Bill Keller for the same alleged offense. Think it'll ever happen?
The Hamdan Ruling Is a Major Slapdown for King Dubya
The Hamdan ruling does more than require the Bush regime to comply with the Geneva Conventions. As SCOTUSblog explains, it also specifies that
the President's conduct is subject to the limitations of statute and treaty.Bush's claim that his role of Commander in Chief during wartime puts him above the law just got shot down. So, what about all those "signing statements" in which he claimed exceptions and exemptions from the laws Congress passed? I'm thinking they're just as unconstitutional as his dismissal of the Geneva Conventions.
Some Blunt Truth About Iraq
From "Karl Northman" in Salon's discussion forum Table Talk:
There's some stuff that I'd really appreciate the media making clear, because you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. First - we are no longer part of the solution in Iraq. And as we said many years ago, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Second - one way or another, sooner or later, we will be leaving and there (hopefully) will become some sort of Iraqi national government which does not have to salute when they get emails from PNAC. Third - this government will have to issue amnesties to large numbers of fighters. They may do it explicitly and publicly and announce it, or it may just be an internal policy that becomes widely known, that no prosecutions will ever be taken against people who only did this. Look at the aftermath of WWII - I know of no country occupied by the Nazis that ever prosecuted its own people, even if they were just active civilians, for killing German troops. If memory serves, there were prosecutions against people who killed collaborators with the Nazis, but killing a collaborator was roughly like killing your neighbors dog, in terms of criminal liability. Bottom line? There will never be a stable government in Iraq that does not issue an amnesty against people who killed (at least, lets say, after June, 2004) American military personnel. Sure, random American civilians, that's different. Innocent bystanders, that's different. But American military - killing American military is simply ordinary partisan warfare against an occupying army. We don't like this. You may damage your re-election chances by mentioning it, or acknowledging it. Probably will. But it's the flat truth. If we really want an independent, self-sustaining, Iraqi government, than we simply have to admit that one way or another, they will give an amnesty to people who merely attacked our troops. Anyone who doesn't understand this doesn't understand what the situation is.I don't expect the media to make this clear, because, as Upton Sinclair said, "It's impossible to make a man understand something when his livelihood depends on him not understanding it." In spite of their high-flown idealistic-sounding talk, the Busheviks don't want a real government in Iraq. They want the appearance of democracy (prime minister and a cabinet, photogenic elections) as camouflage for their control of the country. Bush will never tolerate the "Iraqi government" doing anything Bush doesn't like, and the media won't take on the tough job of telling us that a free and democratic Iraq that never does anything objectionable to us just ain't gonna happen because Bush won't let it happen.
Man Bites Dog. Sun Rises In West.
"More importantly, the Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva aplies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today's ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely," and that "[t]o this end," certain specified acts "are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever"—including "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." This standard, not limited to the restrictions of the due process clause, is much more restrictive than even the McCain Amendment. See my further discussion here.
This almost certainly means that the CIA's interrogation regime is unlawful, and indeed, that many techniques the Administation has been using, such as waterboarding and hypothermia (and others) violate the War Crimes Act (because violations of Common Article 3 are deemed war crimes)."
Tell all your wingnut friends: the United States Supreme Court spanked George Bush's CIA-network-destroying, war-crime-committing butt today.
Life In Iraq, 2003 - 2006
Anyone wanting a good idea of whether life for Iraqis has improved since the US-led invasion and occupation should go over to this Iraqi woman's blog. Before the invasion, Riverbend could wear Western clothes while taking the bus by herself to her job as a computer technician. Now, she doesn't have a job, and she doesn't go outside without being covered head to foot and in the company of at least one of her male relatives. In the opening weeks of her blog, Riverbend was able to post nearly every day, and definitely every week. That was because Baghdad still had electricity. Now, Riverbend often goes months (her last post was nearly three weeks ago) without posting because in her Baghdad neighborhood right now, they're lucky if they get twenty minutes of electricity a day. (Let's not even get into the whole running-water issue.) Before the invasion, crime was manageable. Now, criminals rule the streets and, for all intents and purposes, the government, and they slaughter people by the hundreds every day. So somebody please explain to me how the US' invading Iraq has helped the Iraqis? (Besides those named "Chalabi"?)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
A conspiracy so vast...
The center cannot hold: US cuts and runs from Afghanistan
Supreme Court to states: Just make stuff up
Good News On The Labor Front...
...and from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, no less:
Unions win broad victory over DHS labor relations system By Karen Rutzick An appeals court on Tuesday rendered a severe blow to the Homeland Security Department's attempt to curb collective bargaining rights for employees, unanimously upholding and even broadening a lower court decision to strike down large parts of the department's new labor relations system. The unions that brought the lawsuit said the decision could mean they would now have the ability to bargain over pay -- something only a few federal agencies do -- if DHS continues to implement its new pay-for-performance system. A three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found, like the lower court, that DHS' proposed system would illegally curtail collective bargaining rights for employees by giving management the ability to cancel negotiated agreements after the fact.This effectively stomps on Bush's efforts to break the Federal unions using DHS as the wedge. They're already got their asses kicked in the DOD suit, and now they've been whacked in the noogies on this, too.
Did Someone Finally Kick John Bolton In The Wedding Tackle?
It would seem so. He's still talking tough, but it sounds as if some people with a stronger grounding in reality have been making him realize that he can't treat the rest of the world like used kitty litter.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Rescued from the memory hole
Hard landing or soft splat?
Real socialism: government funded propaganda
None Dare Call It Treason -- If Right-Wing Papers Do It
Riddle me this: If it's "treason" to point out that the Bush Administration is doing a wholesale Hoovering of the financial data of millions of Americans, then WHY are Bush and his right-wing press parrots and enablers only going after the NYT -- and not the more conservative and Bush-friendly papers like the Wall Street Journal and LA Times, which also published that news? Nothing like a blast of rancid orchestrated GOP/Media Complex hypocrisy, is there?
The heroes are us
TNR Scores An Own Goal. Again.
Sheesh. We already knew that they were both morally and financially impoverished (if not bankrupt). But do they have to keep proving it over and over again? I just surfed over from Atrios' shop, and he has this to say about TNR: Personally I was astonished by the movie Shattered Glass and TNR's response to it. They were promoting the damn thing, and they were right to. Somehow it made them look good! Everyone managed to be a bit of a hero except for Glass himself. No one else was responsible. EGGGGZACKTLY. TNR played the fricking "Sergeant Schultz Defense" when Glass was uncovered. They literally tried to pretend that they were too stupid to know what was going on, and why, so they could escape the consequences of their actions. It was no coincidence that Stephen Glass' mentor was the late Democrat-hating Michael Kelly -- who himself was known for slinging bullshit, though he was apparently just careful enough not to do anything that would be blatant enough to get him busted. And it's no coincidence that Jason Zengerle was tasked to be Glass' fact-checker -- and fell down on the job. And it's no coincidence that TNR worshiped that stinking pile of debunked right-wing racist crap known as The Bell Curve. Pattern and practice, my dear. Pattern and practice. TNR wanted to pretend that they were the victims of Bad Apple Glass, when in fact as far as they were concerned, his only real sin was being clumsy about it. To name just one example: Glass writes a lie-filled hit piece on Vernon Jordan for George magazine (and Jordan was a guy whose ties with the Clintons made him a favorite target of the GOP/Media Complex), and that wasn't questioned at the time because making up vicious lies about prominent Democrats is A-OK with the GOP/Media Complex. It was only when Forbes magazine wanted to do a follow-up piece on his hacker story that he finally got nailed. If he'd accused Bill Clinton or Vernon Jordan of being one of the hackers, nobody would have questioned him, and he'd still be writing for TNR today.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Around the blogs in 80 clicks
More On The Shoeless Scary Brown Kids Who Talked Big
Remember the horribly dangerous Black Muslim terrorists who were planning "an attack bigger than 9/11" except they were so impoverished, silly and pathetic that they begged their Al-Qaeda contact -- who turned out to be an FBI agent running a sting operation -- to give them military footwear so they could all have the same stuff on their feet? Well, turns out that not only were these kids NOT "clear and present dangers", they aren't even really Muslim. And Larry Johnson reminds us that other highly-profiled (by the Bushies) Dangerous Evil Muslim Guys busted in the Bushistas' War on Terra have turned out not exactly to be as advertised.
If A Democrat Makes An Important Point, Will The GOP/Media Complex Bother To Cover It?
Yeah, but only on Page A14 of the print edition. (What, you thought this rated going onto the front page? Silly person, you.) Don't expect to see this on your evening radio or TV news today, either.
Time To Haul Out Occam's Razor
Well, Jason Zengerle has finally admitted that the "e-mail" he attributed to Steve Gilliard, the very linchpin of his "case" alleging that Kos controlled the lefty blogosphere (I wish -- then we all might actually be able to coordinate our messages and our energy instead of frittering it away), was a fake. But he still refuses to reveal his source -- even though one of the things they teach you in Journalism 101 is that if a source gives you bad information, you are under no obligation to protect that source. In fact, you are obligated to nail that scumbag so he or she never tries that crap again. So we are left with two possibilities that I can see: 1) Zengerle is, against all common sense and ethics, protecting a source who gave him false information. 2) Zengerle made it all up. The evidence in favor of #1, besides Zengerle's own unsupported word, is the recent pattern and practice of Beltway journalists. They are so eager for "access" to the rich and powerful in DC's power elite that they will do anything to get it and maintain it. But I can't see that being part of the equation here. The people on the Townhouse e-mail list don't exactly have the ability to wine and dine Zengerle the way a DC power broker could. (Buy him a hamburger, maybe.) So it's not as if he's going to lose anything by dropping a dime on the guy or gal who screwed him. The evidence in favor of #2: TNR's, and Zengerle's, past history. TNR not only was the chief journalistic home of notorious serial liar Stephen Glass, but Zengerle was also apparently the guy who TNR had tasked to be Glass' fact-checker. Zengerle and the rest of the TNR staff, I seem to recall, escaped punishment for Glass' sins by using the Sergeant Schultz Defense: The idea that they were too stupid to breathe unassisted, much less suspect Glass' perfidy. But this faked e-mail incident suddenly brings that into question. So which is it to be, Door #1 or Door #2?
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Straining the GOP
Signs of the apocalypse
I got Orwell on my mind...
Bear This In Mind When You Consider That Bush Wants To Take Our Social Security Money And Give It To The Brokerage Firms
The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has put out a rather interesting working paper (warning: PDF file) on dishonesty in American life and its policy implications. Here's an excerpt therefrom:
In addition to corporate scandals, almost all companies present their employees with the conflict between selfishly pursuing their own financial goals and being honest. Perhaps the clearest of these examples is brokerage companies. The fact that brokers are rewarded based on the volume or profitability of the business they place provides ample opportunities for conflicts of interest. Even though brokers are supposed to act in their clients’ best interest, the commissions system can tempt brokers to choose personal gains over their clients’ interests: they may pressure clients to buy and sell when the brokers stand to gain larger commissions, recommend stocks or funds that are suitable for the broker but not in the client’s interest, delay the trades ordered by their clients to first invest their own money, or misuse knowledge of a large impending order (Davis 2004; McDonald 2002).Bear in mind that the current Social Security system has overhead costs of less than one percent, even as similar US private sector endeavors such as the life insurance industry have obscenely high overhead rates averaging 12 to 14 percent of the benefits. (Remember, Social Security is an insurance program that's run by the public sector.) And that's not the worst of it: In countries where the pension plans were privatized, such as Chile, overhead costs are typically twenty times that of Social Security.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
LAT: 50,000 Iraqis -- At A Minimum -- Violently Dead Because Of Bush
EZ Writer has the early scoop. And yes, the death toll's much higher in reality, but counting all the deaths has been next to impossible. All so Bush could put in those permanent bases and super-bases. And people wonder why the Iraqis hate us? Under Saddam, they at least had stability and a secular culture. Women could go to work in jeans. Now women, if they have jobs outside the home, must go out in hijabs or abayas and with a husband or brother at their side -- and they still risk being raped and killed by any of the sectarian gangs running around with machine guns.
Decayed Glop Or RDX Explosives: Which Is More Dangerous A Weapon?
Steve Gilliard and Larry Johnson take turns smacking around Rick "Twenty-Six Percent" Santorum for his truly unhinged claims concerning "Iraqi WMD". I want to add something else: While Santorum has his undies in a bunch over twenty-five-year old glop that stopped being nerve gas twenty years ago, he doesn't seem to care about the fact that the invasion of Iraq forced the International Atomic Energy Commission to abandon its watch over the hundreds of tons of high explosives contained in various munitions depots across Iraq, and Rumsfeld couldn't be bothered to provide enough troops to secure these depots. One such depot, at Al QaQaa, was looted almost immediately after the IAEA's forced pullout. Remember, it only takes a pound or two of the stuff to pop open a tank.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Real Americans on the Culture of Corruption
Geez, Can't They Make Up Their Minds?
Even as we're being told by FOX and
MSGOP MSNBC that seven guys were busted the other day for allegedly planning to TAKE OUT THE SEARS TOWER IN CHICAGO and that they were about to pull off something BIGGER THAN 9/11, we find buried in the hoo-ha this little tidbit:
There is no imminent threat to Miami or any other area because of these operations," said Richard Kolko, spokesman for FBI headquarters in Washington. He declined further comment."No imminent threat". Got that? They were about to pull off something "bigger than 9/11", but they were "no imminent threat". Geez, can't the Bushistas make up their minds here? And it turns out, the more one reads past the headlines, that the seven guys busted were little more than idiot teens and twentysomethings who got trapped in an FBI sting, similar to the Canadian idiots trapped by an RCMP sting:
Narseal Batiste, the leader, told the FBI informant posing as the Al Qaeda agent that he was experiencing delays "because of various problems within his organization."Seems that his biggest problem was that neither he nor his young group of runaway teens and twentysomethings had anything resembling a clue:
One source said the suspects had been trying to buy weapons and other things needed to carry out attacks. Ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer compound that can also be used as an explosive, was reportedly among the items."Trying" to buy weapons?! Hell, thanks to the NRA, any semi-competent street gang can gather up tons of weapons, legal and otherwise, without risking much in the way of punishment or even detection. (The arsenal that the infamous baby-raper Vernon "David Koresh" Howell acquired was so nasty that the FBI, expecting to take serious damage, brought along to Waco a "tank retriever" -- which is used to fetch disabled tanks and get them out of harm's way.) As for the fertilizer compound: Hello?! Most any gardening store stocks that. Landscaping and farm supply firms buy and sell the stuff in bulk all the time. If you're dead broke, you do what the meth-lab guys do and steal the stuff from a farmer or two. But it sure gives Bush some nice "I saved the WORLD!" headlines going into the weekend, doesn't it? UPDATE: Ensley, a frequent commenter over at Steve Gilliard's blog, brings up the likelihood that the kiddies were thinking of this tower when they talked to FBI agents about blowing up a "Sears Tower":
phoenix woman, to a kid in the Liberty City area of Miami, this is the Sears Tower -- not some building in Chicago. It's all that's left of the old Sears Building on Biscayne Blvd in Liberty City. Since I no longer live in Miami, I can't tell you what stage of construction it is at, but it supposed to be part of a new Performing Arts Center. These kids probably never even heard of the building in Chicago.Lovely.
Death Of The Middle Class: GOP's Finger On the Trigger
More evidence that the wonderful "Bush boom" is booming only for those at the very top of America's income pyramid:
Chief executives of U.S. corporations earned 262 times the pay of the average worker in 2005, the second-highest level in the 40 years the data's been kept, an economic research group said this week. Last year, the average CEO was paid $10.9 million a year, or 262 times an average worker's earnings of $41,861, the Economic Policy Institute said Wednesday. The research group also found a CEO earned more in one workday in 2005 than an average worker earned in 52 weeks. The group includes salary, bonuses, stock options and other payments in its definition of CEO pay.While the CEOs are doing great, the average American? Um, not so much:
But of course, they aren't -- and America is suffering as a result:
Let's compare that to regular guys salary increases in this expansion. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average hourly pay for production workers was $14.79 in November 2001 (when this expansion began) and $16.62 in May 2006 for an increase of 12.37%. Over the same period the inflation gage increased from 177.4 to 202.5 for an increase of 14.14%. This means 80% of the population has seen their wages decrease 1.77% during this expansion.
At the same time, corporations are doing extremely well. According to the Federal Reserves Flow of Funds statement, corporate profits as a percentage of national income have increased from 8.5% in 2001 to 13.88% in the first quarter of 2006. Over the same period (2001 to the first quarter of 2006) corporations are the only economic sector to actually save any money. Their savings increased from $192.3 billion in 2001 to $606.3 billion in the first quarter of 2006. In other words, if corporations wanted to increase salaries beyond inflation, they clearly have the money to do so.
But after 2000 something changed. The pace of productivity growth has been rising again, but now it seems to be lifting fewer boats. After you adjust for inflation, the wages of the typical American worker--the one at the very middle of the income distribution--have risen less than 1% since 2000. In the previous five years, they rose over 6%. If you take into account the value of employee benefits, such as health care, the contrast is a little less stark. But, whatever the measure, it seems clear that only the most skilled workers have seen their pay packets swell much in the current economic expansion. The fruits of productivity gains have been skewed towards the highest earners, and towards companies, whose profits have reached record levels as a share of GDP.And yet the House Republicans just passed another bill designed to give the CEOs and companies even more money while further starving those government services that most benefit those of us who aren't CEOs or corporations.
Blog Locally, Not Globally?
Actually, I think we can and should do both. But the writer of this DKos diary has a point, and not just on the top of his head. To that end, I note the cowardly response of Minnesota's Republican governor, Smilin' Tim Pawlenty, whose manhood is in the hands of David Strom and the (Rich) Taxpayers' League, to a newspaper ad by civic-minded wealthy Minnesotans calling on him to stop the insanity that is gutting what once was the best infrastructure in the nation.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Somewhere, Joseph Conrad Is Laughing....
...or crying. Can't decide which, after reading this:
TRACY, California (AP) -- The Pentagon waited nine months after completing an investigation into the deaths of two U.S. soldiers before notifying relatives the men were killed by Iraqi troops, the military acknowledged Wednesday. The June 2004 deaths of Army Spc. Patrick R. McCaffrey Sr., 34, of Tracy, and 2nd Lt. Andre D. Tyson, 33, of Riverside, were originally attributed to an ambush during a patrol near Balad, Iraq. The Army said this week a military investigation found the two had been shot by Iraqi civil defense officers. No possible motive has been divulged. Military officials visited Tyson's family on Tuesday and McCaffrey's on Wednesday to deliver the report, which was completed on September 30, 2005, according to Sen. Barbara Boxer. The California Democrat called the nine-month delay troubling. "If the American people knew that the people we are directly helping train turned on our soldiers, support for this war would slip," Boxer said. "It's very disturbing to think that the Pentagon might be told to keep this kind of thing close to the vest."This ties in rather neatly with this:
THE level of violence in some areas of Iraq is worsening dramatically and US forces may soon be asked to leave by the Iraqi Government. In an exclusive interview with The Australian, former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage has given a gloomy assessment of the situation. "The British used to make a big deal of walking around in their berets in the south," he said. "Now they won't even go to the latrines without their helmets. The south has got much rougher, it's mainly Shia on Shia violence." Mr Armitage said much of the violence came from differences over how the Islamic religion should be interpreted. And he said he believed the Iraqis would soon ask the US to leave their country. The most optimistic scenario following a US withdrawal would be that Iraq would become a loose federation - although the term federation would not be used because it upsets neighbouring Turkey - with a weak central government. "The difficulty then will be to stop them (the Iraqis) causing violence for their neighbours," Mr Armitage said. This was because almost all of Iraq's neighbours had restive Shia minorities and the governments of both Iraq and Iran would come under pressure to intervene on their behalf.Oh, and there's also this from a few months ago:
Since the Iraqi elections in January, US foreign service officers at the Baghdad embassy have been writing a steady stream of disturbing cables describing drastically worsening conditions. Violence from incipient communal civil war is rapidly rising. Last month there were eight times as many assassinations committed by Shia militias as terrorist murders by Sunni insurgents. The insurgency, according to the reports, also continues to mutate. Meanwhile, President Bush's strategy of training Iraqi police and army to take over from coalition forces - "when they stand up, we'll stand down" - is perversely and portentously accelerating the strife. State department officials in the field are reporting that Shia militias use training as cover to infiltrate key positions. Thus the strategy to create institutions of order and security is fuelling civil war. Rather than being received as invaluable intelligence, the messages are discarded or, worse, considered signs of disloyalty. Rejecting the facts on the ground apparently requires blaming the messengers. So far, two top attaches at the embassy have been reassigned elsewhere for producing factual reports that are too upsetting.And as you read these three stories, note that two of them came from papers outside of the US. The US media is in the RNC's hip pocket and always will be.
What Steve Said
Gilliard says it all. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. We're currently at Stage Three.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Somebody's spreading the loony paranoid rumor that the U.N. is going to take our guns away on the Fourth of July. Yes, really. It's completely not true, of course.
"That is a total misconception as far as we are concerned," [Prasad Kariyawasam, Sri Lanka’s U.N. ambassador] told reporters ahead of the two-week meeting opening on Monday. For one, July 4 is a holiday at U.N. headquarters and the world body’s staff will be watching a fireworks display from the U.N. lawn rather than attending any meetings, he said. For another, the U.N. conference will look only at illegal arms and “does not in any way address legal possession,” a matter left to national governments to regulate rather than the United Nations, he added.Any sensible person would recognize immediately that it's a hoax. Like virus hoaxes, this dire warning goes too far for credibility, with that melodramatic detail that we will lose our America freedoms on the holiday that celebrates our American freedoms. But many people are not sensible, and the United Nations is being flooded with cards and letters of protest. So who or what is responsible for this ridiculous fearmongering? Some ineradicable email pass-around? The farthest fringes of rightwing hate radio? Nope. It originates with a supposedly respectable and mainstream political organization.
The campaign is largely the work of the U.S. National Rifle Association, whose executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, warns on an NRA Web site (www.stopungunban.org/) of a July 4 plot "to finalize a U.N. treaty that would strip all citizens of all nations of their right to self-protection."John Bolton's response to this campaign?
"We understand their concerns and will work during the conference to communicate their concerns," Bolton spokesman Richard Grenell said.That statement doesn't do anything to debunk the accusation. In fact, it encourages people to believe it and to keep those cards and letters coming in. And oh by the way, to hate and fear the United Nations. Wayne LaPierre, John Bolton, and their ilk make Lyndon LaRouche look sane. But they're also deeply cynical. It won't surprise you that the home page of stopungunban.org contains links for joining the NRA, donating money to the NRA, and oh yes, buying Wayne LaPierre's book Global War on Your Guns.
Dean's Fifty-State Strategy Bearing Fruit
This e-mail from The Good Doctor Dean made me smile:
MISSISSIPPI: Republican Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Democrats representing competitive districts in the state legislature to various boards and commissions, triggering four special elections at a time when he believed that his personal popularity would translate into new Republican legislators. Just a few months prior, the 50-state strategy had taken the number of Democratic Party staff in Mississippi from one full-time person to five. By organizing on the ground the way Democrats in Mississippi haven't had the resources to do in a generation, we swept all four special elections. Now Gov. Barbour has four more Democrats holding appointments in his administration and the same number of Democrats sitting in the legislature.This is especially gratifying because Mississippi's Haley Barbour used to run the Republican National Committeee. Nice to see the current DNC Chair spank the former RNC Chair. You can help the Doctor do similar good works by going here. And this is also good news:
OHIO: The 50-state strategy means new staff in Ohio who have been reviving the field organizing efforts across the state. In a place where it had been typical to build and tear down an entire campaign infrastructure every election cycle, new staff are creating permanent organizing teams in every single county. These teams will be responsible for various functions during the course of the very competitive campaigns there in 2006 -- and won't disappear after Election Day.
SOUTH DAKOTA: With the added boost from new staff and resources, Democrats fielded a record number of legislative candidates this year, recruiting challengers in nearly 40% more races than in 2002.
INDIANA: With fresh resources and energy, Indiana Democrats have been making waves. The Indianapolis Star reported recently that, "Gov. Mitch Daniels and other state Republicans have taken a beating in recent months from the Indiana Democratic Party" thanks to the 50-state strategy, which provided the opportunity to hire a full-time spokesperson. Indiana is also the first state in the country to hold elections under new laws that requires voters to use photo identification that includes an expiration date. Predictably, rightful voters have been disenfranchised by this law. New staff and resources have helped collect data from the May 2nd primary election that will be needed to appeal to the federal court.
OKLAHOMA: The 50-state strategy has been credited with re-energizing grassroots throughout the state. In April, the new staff paid off when the Democratic candidate scored an upset victory, unseating a Republican incumbent as mayor of Tulsa.
NEW YORK: In rural upstate New York, which Republicans rely on for their base voters, unprecedented ground organizing is showing that the 50-state strategy means leaving no county behind. Already, new staff on the ground have identified 12,000 new Democratic voters -- voters who we will get to the polls this November and in elections to come, helping Democrats up and down the ballot.
UTAH: Already, 2006 marks the best candidate recruitment for the Utah Democratic Party in over 15 years. Democrats have recruited candidates for every single State Senate race, and Democrats have challengers running in ten State House races that went unopposed in 2004. The recruitment efforts, led by new staff deployed as part of the 50-state strategy, include not only life-long Democrats but also six Republicans who have switched parties.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Regional field organizers deployed as part of our 50-state strategy have already racked up important wins. They have already worked hands-on to elect three new Democratic members to the State House -- in seats that had been held by Republicans since 1912.
Congressional Democrats Pass GOP in Funds Updated 4:58 PM ET June 20, 2006 WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate and House Democrats, optimistic about their election-year prospects, have more money in the bank for the midterm contests than their Republican counterparts. Some four months before the voting, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has $33.5 million cash on hand compared to $18.3 million for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the groups said Tuesday. The Democrats raised $4.7 million in May; the Republicans collected $4.3 million in the month. "Our fundraising success reflects a deep desire for change and recognition that the best way to get things back on track is by electing more Democrats to the Senate," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., chairman of the Democratic committee.Very nice!
The GOP Panders to Black Voters
Well, yes, that headline is ironic. Or maybe just sarcastic. Because what really happened is that the GOP decided that protecting voting rights is unfair to southern states.
House GOP leaders on Wednesday tabled the renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act under objections from Southern Republicans who complained during a private meeting that the legislation unfairly singles out their states for federal oversight, a leadership aide said.Terribly, terribly unfair, enforcing the Voting Rights Act in states that have had widespread violations of voting rights in the past. That's your cue, Harry, Nancy, and Howard.
Invitations To Rational Discussion: The Ultimate Troll Repellent
Over at Pharnygula, PZ Myers has discovered the sure-fire way to make right-wing trolls disappear: Ask them to back up their assertions with verifiable evidence (in this case, evidence that any of them actually read, much less found nuggets of truth in, Ann Coulter's latest book). We've found that a similar technique works, albeit usually only temporarily, here at MR. The trolls will at first try to change the subject, but when that fails they make a big show of waving bye-bye, only to come back later (often under a different handle). This may mean that we get more paid Rendon-Group-style trolls than does Myers.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
What is anti-semitism? What constitutes using false claims of it to smear people?
Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!
A U.S. jury on Tuesday convicted a former Bush administration official of four counts of lying and obstructing justice in the first trial to be held in connection with the influence peddling scandal of lobbyist Jack AbramoffOne down....
The You're On Your Own-ership Society
Ever since the New Deal, Americans have expected to be able to live in relative comfort and security at the end of their lives. We no longer have that security, thanks to the assault on the social compact that proceeds apace under George W. Bush. Employers are mostly abandoning real pension plans that guarantee their loyal workers a retirement income, and most workers get no help at all in effectively managing their retirement "savings".
As traditional pensions fade into history, employers have shifted the financial risks of a secure retirement to individual workers through company-sponsored savings plans like 401(k)s. No matter how well you save and invest, the list of risks is a long one, according to Alicia H. Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research. "We now have all the risks," she said. "From the first day, the employee has to decide whether or not whether to join the plan, has to decide how much to contribute, has to decide how to invest those contributions, has to decide how to change those investments over time, has to decide what to do about company stock, has to decide what to do about cashing out when moving from one job to another. And then, at retirement, this person is going to get, if they’re lucky, $100,000 and be told goodbye and have to figure out what to do with that over an uncertain lifetime. So it’s an enormous challenge." As employers have shifted responsibility for retirement to their workers, they've also left them largely on their own when comes to learning how to managing their investments. Most individuals are poorly prepared to duplicate the professional investment management that is a critical component of traditional public and private pensions. So even those workers who do accumulate retirement savings are often frozen into inaction when it comes to the daunting task of actively managing their investments, according to Lockwood.The Republicans in power want to do the same thing to the Social Security retirement insurance program: eliminate the security, eliminate the shared responsibility, and leave workers on their own for making decisions they are not educated to make. If they get their way, within a generation we'll be a society of aristocrats and serfs. Guess which they intend to be, and which they intend us to be?
Yes Siree, Bush Sure Did Liberate the People of Iraq
The Independent has published the confidential memo from the U.S. ambassador to Iraq that explains in horrific detail how bad conditions are. Women, in particular, are so much better off that they've completely lost most of the rights they had under that evil dictator, Saddam Hussein.
2. Two of our three female employees report stepped up harassment beginning in mid-May. One, a Shia who favors Western clothing, was advised by an unknown woman in her Baghdad neighbourhood to wear a veil and not to drive her own car. She said some groups are pushing women to cover even their face, a step not taken in Iran even at its most conservative. 3. Another, a Sunni, said people in her neighbourhood are harassing women and telling them to cover up and stop using cell phones. She said the taxi driver who brings her every day to the green zone has told her he cannot let her ride unless she wears a headcover. A female in the PAS cultural section is now wearing a full abaya after receiving direct threats. 4. The women say they cannot identify the groups pressuring them. The cautions come from other women, sometimes from men who could be Sunni or Shia, but appear conservative. Some ministries, notably the Sadrist controlled Ministry of Transportation, have been forcing females to wear the hijab at work.The memo details the lack of basic necessities of life: drinkable water, and electricity (in a city where temperatures can reach 140F at this time of year). It cites an embassy employee who said he attends a funeral "every evening". This memo describes conditions in Baghdad. We can assume that conditions outside the city are worse.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Data Mining: Useless For Nabbing Terrorists, Excellent For Creating A Stalinist Police State
Details of the NSA's activities remain unclear, but data mining experts say they are puzzled about how the information might be used. . . . [T]o discern suspicious call patterns from lists of dialed numbers, they will have to dig past the raw data into callers' identities, and, in the vast majority of cases, will find they have simply tapped into networks of law-abiding people involved in daily routines. This approach, several experts said, raises privacy questions even as it wastes time.Which is what anyone who knows anything about data mining has been saying all along. Not only is it ineffective, it wastes time and money that are better spent on other things, such as nurturing CIA overseas operative networks like the one that Valerie Plame was running in Iraq when Cheney and Rove burned her cover.* But that's not stopping the "get government out of our lives" Republicans from insisting that it be done. So odd: They want government out of their lives when it comes to helping poor people, but then they welcome it when it sniffs through their underwear drawers on alleged "terrorist searches" that don't catch terrorists but do gather up gobs of info which can be used to harrass political enemies. *Remember, it was Plame's network that was tasked with determining if Saddam still had any usable weapons of mass destruction from the huge cache given him by Rumsfeld and Cheney back during the Reagan Administration. These WMDs were the pretext Bush and Cheney gave for invading Iraq in the first place. Plame's people on the ground reported, truthfully, that everything was either used up during the Iran-Iraq War (in which we backed Saddam) or is now "harmless goo" (most chemical weapons have a shelf life of five years or less, and the stuff Reagan gave Saddam is now twenty years old; UPDATE: Sky-Ho points out in the comments thread that while the goo is no longer suitable for use as a weapon, it's still noxious stuff, especially when it's not disposed of properly). By outing Plame, the Bush Administration showed that it really didn't give a rat's ass about whether or not Saddam had usable WMD.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Whodunnit? The Army Corps Done It
Spinning Gold into Straw: Bush shapes America into a Third World nation
Remember how even when the Clintons won in the courts, the GOP/Media Complex kept spinning the situation to make it look as if the Clintons really hadn't been vindicated? "Questions still exist..." was a typical passively-voiced press extrusion of the time, even though a) the questions were bogus and b) the only people asking those questions were the members of the Republican Noise Machine and their willing tools. Now look at the extent to which the GOP/Media Complex is trying to discount the news that the charges against Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney have been dropped. No such discounting happened when it was Republican Congresscritters like Bob Barr who managed to escape punishment for similar charges. But that sort of discounting happened and still happens all the time with Democratic politicians like McKinney and Clinton.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
And Another Republican Lie Is Summarily Debunked
Yeah, yeah, I know: Dog bites man. Sun rises in East. Just consider my further publicizing of this as my own effort to combat the well-funded cogs in the Republican Noise Machine. Take THAT, PowerLine Doofi! From today's StarTribune (scroll 2/3 of the way down):
HE OPPOSED ANTI-SEMITISM Ellison, then and now I was president of the Jewish Law Students Association at Minnesota Law School in 1988-89, when the Black Law Student Association, led by Keith Ellison, cosponsored speakers on campus who had previously made comments that were anti-Jewish, sexist and homophobic. I led a coalition that issued a petition of protest signed by law student organizations representing Jews, women, progressives, and gays and lesbians. In response, Keith explained that he disagreed with these speakers' views of Jews, gays, and women's equality, but he believed that African-American students should have the opportunity to hear the messages of self-sufficiency and pride that these speakers brought. Keith challenged one of the invited speakers regarding past comments about Jews, and he constructively participated in dialogue between blacks and Jews on campus. Keith understood that Jews, even in America, have faced discrimination, and he appreciated the contributions of Jews to the movement for civil rights. I recall Keith questioning Israeli policy, but not the necessity of Israel's existence. I disagreed sharply with Keith about whether the positive messages of the speakers he sponsored could be separated from their hateful statements. I am not surprised that he soon changed his views on that question, given the genuine humanism that animated his passion for activism. JOSHUA WIRTSCHAFTER, BERKELEY, CALIF.To bring everyone up to speed: Keith Ellison is a black man, a Muslim, and a really nice guy according to pretty much everyone who's ever dealt with him. He's been in the Minnesota State Legislature for a number of years, and now has the DFL (Democratic Farmer-Labor, the local arm of the Democratic Party) endorsement for the congressional seat held by the retiring Martin Sabo. The primary isn't for a couple of months yet, but he's the front-runner for the DFL nomination. Which is why the Republicans, led by the PowerLine bozos, are doing everything they can to smear him. (No, I won't link to those clowns -- just Google "Keith Ellison" and scroll down; you'll find their swill.) Their weapon? His brief association, as a college student, with folks affiliated with Louis Farrakhan -- an association which he ended when he realized that Farrakhan was more about nastiness than he was about good works. Well, a Jewish college friend of Ellison's has come along to debunk this particularly vile GOP smear job, and I thought I'd pass it on, as noted above.
Karl Rove says this man is a coward. I say Karl Rove should enlist and be sent to Iraq.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Friday Cat Blogging
Which side are you on?
Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind
More blogs about politics.