Thursday, August 31, 2006

Shafting the Troops

From Ezra Klein at Crooks and Liars: ". . .Predatory lenders are generally a problem in poor urban areas where reputable banks don’t see the sort of profit margins that justify a branch. But capitalism abhors a vacuum and folks still need loans, wire services, money orders, and all the rest, so small lenders charging insane rates flow into the gap. That’s a large part of what folks like John Edwards mean when they say 'it’s expensive to be poor,' loans and advances that respectable banks and good credit ratings make trivial for the rich become economically dangerous for the working class. A minor advancecoupled with a couple hundred percent interest rate can, under certain circumstances, bankrupt a family and destroy their credit, thus leaving them unable to draw on better lenders, thus perpetuating the cycle. It’s unsavory stuff.

These payday loan stores are increasingly becoming a problem near military bases, too, where soldiers seeking an advance on their (paltry) paychecks or a loan to fix their car are being charged exorbitant rates. The issue grew so acute that Congress commissioned a study on the rates. The researchers found that soldiers are being charged $15-$25 for a two week, $100 loan(!), and annual rates of up to — ready for this? — 780 percent(!!). The average borrower pays backs a total of $834 (!!!) on a $339 loan, and the debt problems can grow so urgent that they lose their security clearances (assumedly under the rationale that debt renders one susceptible to bribery).

So we have two forces at play here: The first is that we pay our service members so little they’re forced to enter into debt if they want a chance at middle class lifestyles. The second is that we sequester them on remote bases, where the available financial options fleece them. This must be really demoralizing for our troops. So much so that I might need more than a second bumper magnet; this might require a miniature American flag, too."

The N.C. Legislature actually cracked down a bit on the pay-day lenders this session, though there was much wailing and squealing.

No Thanks For the Memories

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth

"There's a new ad campaign meant to apparently remind us that September 11 happened and was a really bad thing. . .

. . .Hell, why stop there? Why not have ad campaigns targeted towards specific people? Judy Smith, where were you when you found out your child had leukemia? Joe Anderson, where were you when your wife was killed by a drunk driver? Let's have ad campaigns to remind all of us all the time about every single loved one who died tragically. And not a campaign to remind you of the loved one and how great they were - oh no - a campaign to remind you of the horrible moment of their horrible death. It's like memorializing your dead mother each year not by recollecting about how she used to bake those wonderful ginger cookies, but rather, making an annual ritual out of talking about how every bone in her body was smashed by a semi-truck. What a great way to remember mom.

What the hell is our obsession with remembering September 11? We remember it, ok. I don't need a TV commercial to remind me of that day or how I felt. I was there. It took me a long time to get over it. And I most certainly don't need my politicians, or anyone else, trying to drag me back to that day kicking and screaming several times a year as if I don't remember it, and as if it's somehow healthy to keep bringing it up. . ."

Unions and Wages

The Blog | Eric Alterman: Extreme Poverty is US: And Thanks for Nothing, Wal-Mart | The Huffington Post: ". . .The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson, hardly surprisingly, offers a useful perspective. 'Ours is the age of the Great Upward Redistribution. The median hourly wage for Americans has declined by 2 percent since 2003, though productivity has been rising handsomely. Last year, according to figures released just yesterday by the Census Bureau, wages for men declined by 1.8 percent and for women by 1.3 percent. As a remarkable story by Steven Greenhouse and David Leonhardt in Monday's New York Times makes abundantly clear, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of gross domestic product since 1947, when the government began measuring such things. Corporate profits, by contrast, have risen to their highest share of the GDP since the mid-'60s -- a gain that has come chiefly at the expense of American workers. Don't take my word for it. According to a report by Goldman Sachs economists, 'the most important contributor to higher profit margins over the past five years has been a decline in labor's share of national income.' ... the declining power of the American workforce antedates the integration of China and India into the global labor pool by several decades.

Since 1973 productivity gains have outpaced median family income by 3 to 1. Clearly, the war of American employers on unions, which began around that time, is also substantially responsible for the decoupling of increased corporate revenue from employees' paychecks. But finger a corporation for exploiting its workers and you're trafficking in class warfare. Of late a number of my fellow pundits have charged that Democratic politicians concerned about the further expansion of Wal-Mart are simply pandering to unions. Wal-Mart offers low prices and jobs to economically depressed communities, they argue. What's wrong with that?"

Uh, a bunch. . . read on.

Harris Leads GOP

Poll: Harris leads Fla. GOP Senate race - Yahoo! News: "TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Congresswoman Katherine Harris holds a double-digit lead in the race for Florida's Republican U.S. Senate nomination less than a week before the primary, according to a poll released Thursday.

However, the poll also indicates that a large number of Republicans haven't settled on a candidate, and about a third of those supporting Harris said they still might change their minds. . ."

The GOP owes her and needs to retain her as its official elected spokeswoman, with Ann Coulter the unelected official spokeswoman.

Bush Booed

Salt Lake Tribune - Salt Lake sounds off in protest and support: "A crowd of thousands cheered Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson for calling President Bush a 'dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights violating president' whose time in office would 'rank as the worst presidency our nation has ever had to endure.'
The group - including children and elderly and some hailing from throughout Utah - then marched to the federal building Wednesday to deliver a copy of a symbolic indictment against the president and Congress for abuse of power and failure to uphold the U.S. Constitution. . . "

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Overcompensated CEO's

"Oil Company CEO Pay Averaged $32.7 Million in 2005, Study Says

Aug. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Rising prices and profits translated into pay packages for oil company chief executive officers that are nearly three times the size of similarly sized businesses, a new study from two watchdog groups said.

In 2005, the CEOs of the largest 15 oil companies averaged $32.7 million in compensation, compared with $11.6 million for all large U.S. firms, according to the study, released today by the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy.

Amid reports of multimillion-dollar pay packages, shareholder activists have sponsored resolutions to limit compensation at companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. and Home Depot Inc. In May, three members of the House of Representatives criticized the retirement benefits of former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond and asked the company to fill a gap in its workers' pension fund.

``Instead of lining the pockets of executives, they should be investing the money into new sources of energy that go beyond fossil oils,'' said Sarah Anderson, director of the global economy project at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies, and a co-author of the study.

Anderson's group researches peace, justice and environmental issues. United for a Fair Economy, a non-profit group based in Boston, tries to raise awareness about the effects of ``concentrated wealth and power,'' according to its web site. . ."

And that is the fundamental economic problem of the United States. Read more here if you can stand it.

Overcompensated CEO's

"Oil Company CEO Pay Averaged $32.7 Million in 2005, Study Says

By Vineeta Anand

Aug. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Rising prices and profits translated into pay packages for oil company chief executive officers that are nearly three times the size of similarly sized businesses, a new study from two watchdog groups said.

In 2005, the CEOs of the largest 15 oil companies averaged $32.7 million in compensation, compared with $11.6 million for all large U.S. firms, according to the study, released today by the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy.

Amid reports of multimillion-dollar pay packages, shareholder activists have sponsored resolutions to limit compensation at companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. and Home Depot Inc. In May, three members of the House of Representatives criticized the retirement benefits of former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond and asked the company to fill a gap in its workers' pension fund.

``Instead of lining the pockets of executives, they should be investing the money into new sources of energy that go beyond fossil oils,'' said Sarah Anderson, director of the global economy project at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies, and a co-author of the study.

Anderson's group researches peace, justice and environmental issues. United for a Fair Economy, a non-profit group based in Boston, tries to raise awareness about the effects of ``concentrated wealth and power,'' according to its web site. . ."

Here is the fundamental problem with the United States. Read more here if you can stand it.

In Other Shoes

Balls and Walnuts - more than you ever wanted to know » In extremis: the case of Anna Pou, M.D.: ". . .Anna Pou, M.D., is an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doc) who, during the Katrina debacle, volunteered to stay behind to provide basic services to the patients of Mercy Hospital. Last month, Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti had Dr. Pou and nurses Lori L. Budo and Cheri Landry booked with four counts of second-degree murder. They are accused of euthanizing patients with morphine and Versed (midazolam).

Kevin, M.D. has excellent coverage of the story. Suffice it to say that the facts of the case are unclear, so (in my opinion) the more savvy commentators are reserving judgment.

I’d like to give you my thoughts on this as an ENT and as someone who has worked at a County Hospital under less than ideal circumstances.

Mind you, I don’t pretend my experience comes anywhere close to the horrors of Mercy Hospital, but I do think I have enough street cred to tell you one thing: if you weren’t there, if you didn’t put in your time, shut the hell up. Judge not, etc. . ."


More Plame Game

Democrat Taylor Marsh Blogs Politics: ". . .Richard Armitage has admitted to being Bob Novak's original source in the leak of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame's name. Armitage now advises John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign (TimesSelect link). I would say that McCain loses credibility on national security issues when he takes counsel from someone who has twice admitted to leaking national security secrets (the other being Iran-Contra). . ."

Karma, Finally?

Eat The Press | Fox News' Ratings Take a Nosedive | The Huffington Post: "Fox News' Ratings Take a Nosedive

TVNewser | Posted Tuesday August 29, 2006 at 05:12 PM

Somewhere, Keith Olbermann is sticking pins in a Bill O'Reilly voodoo doll: Fox News' ratings, TVNewser reports, are down since August of last year. Like, way down. Like down 28 percent in primetime among all viewers, down 20 percent in primetime in the 'money demo' (viewers aged 25-54) and down 7 percent in daytime viewership overall. In fact, the only place Fox is up is during the day, when they managed a ratings increase of just 2 percent, and even then only in the money demo.

And lest you think this is an industry-wide trend, consider this: over the same time period, CNN and MSNBC are up. CNN's up 35 percent during the day -- 46 percent in the money demo -- and up 21 percent in primetime overall, 25 percent in the money demo. MSNBC's ratings increases aren't quite as impressive -- up 6 percent in primetime overall, 8 percent in the money demo, and up 36 percent in the money demo during the day, 26 percent overall. . ."

Brownie on Harball

Crooks and Liars: "He’s been doing the talk show circuit since he has apologized and says that he really feels bad about reciting BushCo’s talking points on all the shows during Hurricane Katrina while people were suffering. This is what he said on Hardball:

BROWN: The lie was that we were working as a team and that everything was working smoothly. And how we could go out, and I beat myself up almost daily for allowing this to have happened, to sit there and go on television and talk about how things are working well, when you know they are not behind the scenes, is just wrong.

O‘DONNELL: So let me get this clear. Someone in the White House was telling you to lie?

BROWN: Well, yes. They give you the talking points. Whenever you go out to do any interviews they always have the talking points. Here‘s what the message for today is and here‘s how we are going to spin everything. That‘s just the way Washington, D.C. works and that‘s just wrong. "

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Frist Faux?

Frist may have lied to continue reign as Video Doctor

by Kyle in Zurich - 8/29/2006 06:45:00 PM

"Oh what they'll do to keep that prestigious "MD" outside the Senate office door.
WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist acknowledged Tuesday that he may not have met all the requirements needed to keep his medical license active — even though he gave paperwork to Tennessee officials indicating that he had.

The state of Tennessee requires its licensed physicians to complete 40 hours of continuing medical education every two years. Frist, a heart-lung surgeon who is considering a 2008 presidential run, submitted a license renewal with the Tennessee Health Department stating he has fulfilled that requirement. . "

Critics Are Nazis, According To Rummy

From (video here, too) Crooks & Liars

"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday the world faces “a new type of fascism'’ and likened critics of the Bush administration’s war strategy to those who tried to appease the Nazis in the 1930s. In unusually explicit terms, Rumsfeld portrayed the administration’s critics as suffering from “moral or intellectual confusion'’ about what threatens the nation’s security.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a former Army officer and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in an interview Tuesday that “no one has misread history more than'’ Rumsfeld. `It’s a political rant to cover up his incompetence,'’ said Reed, a longtime critic of Rumsfeld’s handling of the war."


Fatal Technical Difficulties

This is awful. I've been on three computers on two different networks and cannot get Blogger to open. I keep getting strange messages about Blogger Beta's and more login stuff ; Blogger will not accept my username or password. So, I'm hoping this email will get through. I'll try posting some but I don't know if I will be able to or not.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Political System Broken

Voters everywhere agree political system "badly broken" - Yahoo! News: "A plurality of voters in each of 32 states agree that the political system in the U.S. is 'badly broken.' Percentages range from a high of 63% in Vermont to 47% in Nebraska, but all point in the same direction. The Rasmussen Reports surveys were conducted as part of a series of Election 2006 polls on Senate and Governor's races across the nation.

An earlier, national, survey found that just 48% of American adults believe that elections are generally fair to voters. That number has been fairly consistent since we began polling on the topic in the mid-90s. The only change has been the partisan details. In the 1990s, with a Democrat in the White House, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to believe that elections are fair. Now, with a Republican in the White House, the partisan perspectives have reversed. . . "

Bush 9-11 Doin's

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: ". . .In particular, the centrality of 9/11 to Bush's political persona has always struck me as under-analyzed. It's a strange thing primarily because Bush didn't really do anything on 9/11 or its immediate aftermath. Terrorists hijacked four planes and sought to crash them into buildings. They succeeded in doing so with three of the planes. Thousands died. The physical destruction was enormous. It was terrible. But it wasn't quite as bad as it could have been. The passengers on one plane downed it before it could reach its target. Many people were evacuated from the World Trade Center and their lives were saved. But none of the good work that was done on that day -- and there was some good, heroic work done -- was done by the president or had anything in particular to do with him. . ."

Newsie8200's Penndit: Campaign news update: Iraq and the shift in DC

Newsie8200's Penndit: Campaign news update: Iraq and the shift in DC

WSJ Laments Progress

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth: "In early American public schools, there was no separation between church and state
by John in DC - 8/28/2006 08:47:00 AM

From the Wall Street Journal

In early American public schools, there was no separation between church and state. Tenets of Christianity were embedded in almost every lesson and book, including spelling, reading, history, grammar, arithmetic and science.

Yeah, and we had slaves. And women couldn't vote. And no one would hire the Irish. And children made great factory labor.

Oh yeah, we also burned witches.

Your point would be?"

No progress is good progress, which is good for business?

Lebanon Ooops

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: "A miscalculation? Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah: 'We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not.'

Update: From TPM Reader JG: 'I read his statement more like a PR maneuver: all the destruction is a result of Israel's unreasonable reaction. He would never, ever have dreamt that the kidnapping might have brought that kind of harm to his poor, beloved Lebanon.'"

Gee. And blowing up two buildings and killing three thousand Americans surely wouldn't cause the U.S. to lash out. Would it?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Gore Says Too Much Tube in Politics

US politics 'obsessed' with ads
By Kevin Young
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Finding cash to fund TV commercials is "the only thing that matters in American politics now", former US Vice-President Al Gore has said.

"The person who has the most money to run the most ads usually wins," he told the Edinburgh TV Festival.

It was "astonishing" that the average American devoted nearly five hours a day to TV viewing, he added.

And Mr Gore asserted the internet was making TV more accessible and letting people join a "multi-way conversation".

He called this an important move because people could find and distribute information, and then watch as it was judged by others in terms of quality.

After Death, Lay Gets Off

This is wrong on so many levels it is uncountable...

A legal precedent could clear Ken Lay, the firm's late founder, making it hard for the US to tap his estate.

| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
If someone is convicted of a crime and dies before exhausting all his appeals, is he innocent?

That's the question now challenging federal prosecutors in the latest twist of the Enron case. A legal precedent could clear the record of Enron founder Kenneth Lay, even though he was found guilty of six counts of conspiracy and fraud, because of his sudden death last month. The move could also make tens of millions of dollars in his estate off-limits to creditors. . .

. . The Justice Department has said it will use all available legal means to reclaim the money related to the criminal charges Mr. Lay was convicted of in May. But those means may be few because of the legal precedent set by the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which found in 2004 that a person's criminal record is "abated," or wiped out, if he or she dies before having a chance to exhaust all appeals.

The rationale is that someone convicted of a crime should not be denied the right to have the trial's fairness tested, says Brian Wice, a Houston attorney. In this case, it means Lay's conviction, trial, even his indictment will most likely be abated - making him an innocent man.

The lawyer handling Lay's estate has already filed a motion with US District Judge Sim Lake, asking him to erase Lay's criminal record, based on the ruling by the Fifth Circuit, which governors federal courts in Texas. . ."

So will suicide become a growth industry with white collar criminals?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Rendering in Raleigh

"Aero's Cloaks and Daggers

by Barbara Koeppel

Torture at CIA secret sites is illegal. So too is the practice of the CIA transporting suspects to other countries where torture tactics are commonplace.

To expose and halt such goings-on, members of Stop Torture Now and Code Pink gathered last November at a rural airport in Smithfield, N.C., about 40 miles from Raleigh. Their target was Aero Contractors, a charter airline company. The activists insist that from this bucolic setting and another small airport in Kinston, N.C., called Global Transpark (GTP), Aero runs “torture taxis”—secret rendition flights for the CIA

The activists say they don’t want this dirty business starting on their turf. “Aero uses runways and hangars paid for with our tax dollars,” they argue. The activists cite a $9 million state bond and $650,000 in federal funds secured last fall by Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-N.C., to extend Smithfield’s runway.

The activists also note that Aero’s rent to Global Transpark (GTP) is just $.05 a square foot. Since Aero leases five acres—218,000 square feet—it’s just $10,890 a year. Moreover, since GTP gave Aero a credit for the $60,000 the company spent to “upfit” its hangar, Aero will park free for over five years. Someone is footing the bill, the activists argue, and that someone is the taxpayer. . ."

On Being Prematurely Right

". . Now, though, since President Bush's nutty little press conference last week, I take a certain pride in being prematurely against attacking Iraq. I also wonder why and how long we should politely take more and more of this patriotic crap for being prematurely right.
. . There were those, a lot of us, and not all crazed liberals, who had a pretty good idea (and talked and wrote about) what was going to happen if the United States invaded Iraq for no particular reason -- at least no reason the government was sure of or could prove. Yeah, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, no great distinction in much of the world, but there were those of us premature "defeatists" who tried to argue that the best we could hope for if we rolled our military dice in that sand was bloody sectarian chaos and civil war.

Actually, we were too optimistic and too patriotic. . "

Say It Ain't So, John!

The McCain Makeover

Does the veteran Republican rebel really mean all those nice things he's saying about George W. Bush?

By Glenn Frankel
Sunday, August 27, 2006; Page W12

IT'S FEBRUARY 15, 2000, a pivotal moment in the race for the Republican nomination for president, and at the televised candidates' debate in Columbia, S.C., temperatures are rising.

John McCain, fresh off an upset victory in the New Hampshire primary, has run into a buzz saw of negative advertising about his record and rumor-mongering about his personal life, and he blames his main opponent, George W. Bush. . .

. . .Six years later, Bush is president and McCain is preparing for another run for the White House. He's in Michigan on a Friday afternoon at the start of a long weekend of raising money for local Republican candidates and laying the groundwork for 2008. And everywhere he goes, he's got only good things to say about George W. Bush.

He's no longer offering himself as the alternative to Bush. Now he's positioned himself as Bush's heir, a turnaround that makes some people, including McCain sometimes, more than a little uncomfortable.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Making Chicken Salad

"Gen. Batiste: Rumsfeld ‘Served Up Our Great Military A Huge Bowl of Chicken Feces’

Today on MSNBC, retired General John Batiste — former commander of the First Infantry division in Iraq — said that it was “outrageous” Rumsfeld was still in charge of the Pentagon. Batiste added, “He served up our great military a huge bowl of chicken feces, and ever since then, our military and our country have been trying to turn this bowl into chicken salad. . .”

Video at the link.

More Gas on White House Gas

Buzzflash has a thought:

. . . Suffice it to say, the screaming headline from the news conference was Bush admitted that Iraq had absolutely no connection to 9/11. Well, it should have been a screaming headline, but did you see it as front-page news anywhere? Or as the lead story on any television news?

We didn't.

And Bush's "performance" in the news conference was so unbalanced and over-the-top that not only his intelligence should be questioned -- as even the GOP cheerleader Joe Scarborough managed to do -- but his mental stability should be topic number one on the talk shows.

Adding fuel to that last point -- and further indication of a nation run by a man who is suffering from arrested development -- was an item in U.S. News and World Report, largely ignored by the mainstream press, that Bush loves to amuse himself by openly passing gas in front of White House aides. Apparently, his biggest thrill is -- and we are quoting from U.S. News and World Report -- "He's also known to cut a few for laughs, especially when greeting new young aides."

We guess this is what Republicans mean when they claim Bush brought back "honor and dignity" to the White House.

"Farting" for fun to humiliate new young White House staffers isn't just passing gas, it's a downright disgrace to the American people and to the White House.  . .

Social Security Lottery

The Smirking Chimp: "America went through a terrible year. The levees broke in New Orleans. When bodies floated in the streets, the Republican Congress saw an opportunity for more tax cuts and consolidation of the corporatopia they had created for their moneyed donors. The Democratic Party was clueless, written off, politically at death's door.

The year was 1927.

Back then, when the levees broke, America awoke. Public anger rose in a floodtide, and in that year, the USA entered its most revolutionary period since 1776. The thirty-four-year-old utility commissioner of Louisiana, Huey P. Long, conceived of a plan to rebuild his state based on a radical program of redistributing wealth and power. The ambitious Governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt, adopted it, and later named it The New Deal. America got rich and licked Hitler. It was our century.

It's 1927 again.

But this time, the Haves and Have-Mores have something better for you than a New Deal. They are offering 'opportunity' -- a lottery ticket instead of a guarantee. Like double-or-nothing in the stock market instead of Social Security -- will the suckers go for it? There's one born every minute. I can't believe they're the majority, but at last count, they numbered over 59 million. And they vote. . ."

Bad Damage Control

Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: Macacacaca Echoes Continue
". . .Someday political scientists will study the Allen campaign as an example of how not to do damage control. First, do NOT "dismiss...the issue with an expletive and insist...the senator has 'nothing to apologize for.'" Second, do NOT try to "explain" the offensive remark (He said the word sounds similar to "mohawk," a term that his campaign staff had nicknamed Sidarth because of his haircut.). Third, do NOT offer a SECOND, possibly more offensive, explanation after the first one proves inadequate. Fourth do NOT leak a campaign memo that blames the media for the offensive remark. Lastly, do NOT wait a week to actually apologize. Oh, and do NOT be an idiot. . ."

Does God Like Evil Idiots?

The Raw Story | Harris: Separation of church and state 'a lie': ". . .'We have to have the faithful in government and over time,' the Witness quotes Harris as saying, 'that lie we have been told, the separation of church and state, people have internalized, thinking that they needed to avoid politics and that is so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers. . .'"

Thursday, August 24, 2006

UnDisInconvenient Truthiness

Democrat Taylor Marsh Blogs Politics
Peter Schweizer wrote a piece on August 10th in USA Today full of inaccuracies, innuendo, half truths and exaggerations in his effort to paint Al Gore not quite as green as he's led the world to believe . Schweitzer's attack is the latest in a series of op-ed hit pieces and columns from persons affiliated with a network of think tanks (such as Schweitzer's employer Hoover Institution) funded by ExxonMobil. The Hoover Institution has received $295,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998 according to Exxon Secrets .

The fact that Al Gore has struck a nerve with the oil barons is an open secret. The pushback by guys like Schweizer against the former Vice President and once and possibly future contender for the Oval Office was inevitable and includes the sort of “gotcha” rhetoric we've come to expect from the Republican Mighty Wurlitzer noise machine. There is even a weird subculture in wingnuttopia that create their own anti-Gore movies. . ."

Oversexed Rightists

ABC News: The Political Fertility Gap: "Aug. 23, 2006 — It is one of the more unusual battle lines in the culture wars.

Liberals, it is said, have a baby problem. They don't have enough of them, compared to conservatives. And this failure to replenish their ranks is a reason why they lose elections. Call it a fertility gap.

'The political right is having a lot more kids than the political left,' Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks says. 'The gap is actually 41 percent.'

Studying numbers from the General Social Survey — a government survey of social trends — Brooks found that 100 unrelated liberal adults have 147 children, while 100 unrelated conservatives have 208 kids. . ."

No Studying Evolution

Evolution Major Vanishes From Approved Federal List - The New York Times: "
Published: August 24, 2006
Evolutionary biology has vanished from the list of acceptable fields of study for recipients of a federal education grant for low-income college students."

The rest of this article is behind the Times firewall so you'll have to follow the link to get the info-- but even this much sure smells funny, doesn't it?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Is the President Ill?

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth: ". . .George Bush is quite likely the worst president in US history. But there's something worse. Scarborough notes how Bush's mental capacity has declined dramatically since the early 90s. In the early 90s, he was actually intelligent, alert, answered questions quickly and smartly. Bush has changed dramatically as he's aged, to the point where you will not recognize the man he was a little over a decade ago. Scarborough is right, something is going on with Bush and his health, and it is not clear if our country can afford two more years of George Bush's increasingly erratic behavior. . ."

Democratic Fighting

Truthdig - Reports - Robert Scheer: Warring Over the Heart of the Party: ". . .No, this battle transcends those labels and cuts to the obligation of politicians to be honest with the public. Indeed, a seasoned conservative Democratic politician should recognize the war in Iraq for the unmitigated disaster it is and seek to properly place responsibility for it on the incumbent Republican president.

It is one thing for Democrats like Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to admit that they bought into the Bush administration’s lies about Saddam Hussein’s alleged nuke program and partnership with Al Qaeda and to now seek to make amends by working to bring the troops home. It is quite another, as Lieberman has, to continue to defend as wise this patently absurd betrayal of the public interest. And it moves from dumb to evil to claim that those like Lamont who dare tell the truth are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. . ."

Deconstructing Rudi

Tarnishing the aura of Giuliani on 9/11 - ". . . Equipping the police and fire departments with incompatible radios from a politically wired vendor. Overruling the warnings of his subordinates and installing the city's emergency-command center inside the World Trade Center -- 'the only bunker ever built in the clouds.'

'The facts -- depressing but unavoidable -- were that Giuliani had allowed the city to meet the disaster of September 11 unprepared in a myriad of ways,' Barrett and Collins write.

When the planes finally hit, the mayor was great on camera, the authors say -- but not so great marshaling a coordinated city response.

Instead of directing his own confused troops, Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik was serving as Rudy's personal bodyguard.

So who was actually in charge in the crucial early hours?

'I don't know who was directing,' current police commissioner Ray Kelly told Barrett and Collins. 'I literally don't. . .'"

The Ticking of the Osama Clock

The Smirking Chimp: "Of all the things that George W. Bush has done to exploit our nation's tragedy on September 11, 2001, none brought him more political capital than his macho posturing in the weeks and months following the attacks. He stood on the rubble of the fallen World Trade Center and declared that the terrorists who attacked us would 'hear all of us soon.' A few days later, he invoked imagery of the Old West and, with steely resolve, said that he was committed to getting Osama bin Laden 'dead or alive.'

And here we sit, exactly 1,800 days later with a civil war in Iraq, the Taliban still killing American troops in Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden very much alive and running free to podcast threats against our country from a Dick Cheney-like undisclosed location. . ."

One thousand. Eight Hundred. Days.

If a Clinton or Gore were president, Fox News would have a ticker running at the bottom of every screen... "Osama Missing 1800 Days."

The Other Mexican Invasion

Think Progress » Buchanan: Mexico Conspiring To ‘Re-Annex’ Seven Southwest States: "Buchanan: Mexico Conspiring To ‘Re-Annex’ Seven Southwest States

Appearing on Imus In the Morning to promote his new book, State of Emergency, Pat Buchanan asserted that the Mexican government has a “direct program” to reannex “the seven states of the American Southwest.” The first step is for Mexico “to push the poor, unemployed, and uneducated into the United States.” He criticized President Bush for not understanding “the nature and character of the invasion” from Mexico."

Chick Flick

Dixie Chicks documentary could be election issue - Yahoo! News: "NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - The politically charged documentary 'Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing' has been picked up for worldwide distribution by the Weinstein Co.

A release is tentatively scheduled for the fall, possibly right before the November elections.

The film revolves around the aftermath of singer
Natalie Maines' statement at a 2003 London concert, where she said, 'Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.'

It chronicles death threats, political attacks and radio boycotts against the country trio, and that could make the film a political hot potato as well as potential ammo should longtime Democratic party supporter Harvey Weinstein become involved in the fall political campaigns. . ."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Good Drugs News: "Inhofe optimistic on Iraq
By RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer

'It's well on the way toward handling its own security, he says
U.S. involvement in Iraq has been incredibly successful and developments there have been 'nothing short of a miracle,' Sen. James Inhofe said Monday. . ."

Live By The Mouth...

VA-SEN: Poll: Allen's Lead Over Webb Shrinks To Three Points | TPMCafe: "By Greg Sargent | bio

GOP incumbent Senator George Allen's 'Macaca' remarks have turned the contest with Dem challenger James Webb into a real race. An exclusive Survey USA poll done for WUSA-TV shows that Allen's once-double-digit lead over Webb has shriveled to three points -- 48% to 45%. From the WUSA analysis: 'Allen has lost support across all demographic groups, but in particular, among younger voters, he has gone from Plus 23 to Minus 17, a swing of 40 points. In Southeastern VA, Allen has gone from a 2:1 lead to a tie, a 31-point swing.' Don't mess with Macaca!"

Monday, August 21, 2006

Unbelieving Warriors

Atheist Soldiers Demand to Be Recognized - Newsweek Periscope - "Aug. 21-28, 2006 issue - There are no atheists in foxholes,' the old saw goes. The line, attributed to a WWII chaplain, has since been uttered countless times by grunts, chaplains and news anchors. But an increasingly vocal group of activists and soldiers—atheist soldiers—disagrees. 'It's a denial of our contributions,' says Master Sgt. Kathleen Johnson, who founded the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers and who will be deployed to Iraq this fall. 'A lot of people manage to serve without having to call on a higher power. . .'"

God bless them, and God will bless them far more than the typical chickenhawk, whose professions of faith are often shrouded with the pall of "no action," falling into the category of "all hat and no cattle." Hmmm... that seems familiar.

Hagel Misses Small Government

Top News- Sen. Hagel Says GOP Has Lost Its Way - AOL News: "Sen. Hagel Says GOP Has Lost Its Way
WASHINGTON (AP) - Republicans have lost their way when it comes to many core GOP principles and may be in jeopardy heading into the fall elections, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. says. Hagel, a possible presidential candidate in 2008, said Sunday that the GOP today is very different party from the one when he first voted Republican.

'First time I voted was in 1968 on top of a tank in the Mekong Delta,' said Hagel, a Vietnam veteran. 'I voted a straight Republican ticket. The reason I did is because I believe in the Republican philosophy of governance. It's not what it used to be. I don't think it's the same today.'

Hagel asked: 'Where is the fiscal responsibility of the party I joined in '68? Where is the international engagement of the party I joined - fair, free trade, individual responsibility, not building a bigger government, but building a smaller government?. . .'"

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Soldier Recall

Yahoo News:

"CAMP ANACONDA, Iraq - Spc. Chris Carlson had been out of the U.S. Army for two years and was working at Costco in California when he received notice that he was being called back into service.

The 24-year-old is one of thousands of soldiers and Marines who have been deployed to Iraq under a policy that allows military leaders to recall troops who have left the service but still have time left on their contract.

"I thought it was crazy," said Carlson, who has found himself protecting convoys on Iraq's dangerous roads as part of a New Jersey National Guard unit. "Never in a million years did I think they would call me back."

Although troops are allowed to leave active duty after a few years of service, they generally still have time left on their contract with the military that is known as "inactive ready reserve" status, or IRR. During that time, they have to let their service know their current address, but they don't train, draw a paycheck or associate in any other way with the military . . ."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Staging War

'. . .
-- Photos two weeks apart showing the same Lebanese woman bemoaning the destruction of her apartment by Israeli bombs. The photos showed her in front of two different buildings, leading one blogger to write, "Either this woman is the unluckiest multiple home owner in Beirut, or something isn't quite right."

Most major newspapers and magazines have not admitted their complicity, but three cheers for Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times, who noted that the stuffed toys poised atop rubble were "miraculously pristinely clean and apparently untouched by the devastation they purportedly survived. (Reuters might want to check its freelancers' expenses for unexplained Toys "R" Us purchases.)"

Of course, the larger question is why those corpses and that rubble are there. So kudos to photographer Daniel Etter, who wrote on one blog, "The real staging happens before the rescue worker shows the dead children to photographers. It happens when Hezbollah builds (a) kindergarten right next to its positions." '

Media Priorities

from TPM:
"Number of reporters contributing to Friday's front page New York Times story on the JonBenet Ramsey case: 13

Number of reporters contributing to Friday's front page New York Times story on the federal court ruling that the NSA warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional: 2

-- TPM Reader DK"

Framing Jimmy Hoffa and

. . .labor unions, and Democrats, and liberals, and moderates, and anyone else who doesn't agree with you.
Ever wonder where Hoffa is buried?  Hoffa's alleged assignation by organized crime over 30 years ago is a frame that ties Unions to the Mafia.  The continuous search for his body reinforces that frame.  It help remind people of the past association of unions with crime, murder, violence, corruption and other negative ideas that keeps the majority of Americans unsympathetic to protecting our Labor rights.  Democratic candidates know that Labor Rights are only popular with actual union members, so they don't try to show the rest of America that Democrats are strong for the middle class working Americans.  Democrats don't challenge the frame and speak about the benefits that all Americans have gained from Labor Rights and unions. .
. . Ever wonder why the FBI spent over $250,000 to search for Hoffa's body last spring based on a tip they had received over 30 years ago? . . .One prominent Street Evangelist claimed to know precisely where Hoffa's body was buried.  He even met with the FBI, because as the ex-lawyer for the Hoffa tipster that stirred up the search . . .

. . .Elsman was quoted in Bethlehem as saying "Jesus was a uniter, not a divider."   Some of you may recall that Bush has also claimed to be a uniter not a divider.  Was this quote intended to put Bush into a frame of being our savior?   And if Bush is the savior, what does that make his opponents?   ("...maybe Satan????")  By the way, both Bush and Elsman are alumni of Harvard...The DA on the Hoffa search was appointed by Bush...Bush appointed the head of the FBI....

Hoffa stories always bring out conspiracy theories.  But one man doesn't make a vast right wing conspiracy.  One man can clearly make a difference though.

A lot of pundits have complained about $250,000 being a tremendous waste of money to find a body.  But the pundits missed the point.  Finding the body is not important, and actually would be counter productive to the goal.  The goal was to distract the public from the war in Iraq, reinforce the frame of unions as controlled by the Mafia, and further weaken one of the strongest supporters of the Democrats.  The publicity that the Hoffa search generated was beyond the budgets of both the Republicans and Democrats combined.

One man can make a difference, and so can you.  Help publicize this story and show who is holding the frame."

Friday, August 18, 2006

Revolt of the Soccer Moms

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth: "
Washington Post finds the latest round of bad news for the GOP. They're losing an integral part of the coalition based on fear-mongering:

Married women with children, the 'security moms' whose concerns about terrorism made them an essential part of Republican victories in 2002 and 2004, are taking flight from GOP politicians this year in ways that appear likely to provide a major boost for Democrats in the midterm elections, according to polls and interviews....

The study, which examined the views of married women with children from April through this week, found that they support Democrats for Congress by a 12-point margin, 50 percent to 38 percent. That is nearly a mirror-image reversal from a similar period in 2002, when this group backed Republicans 53 percent to 36 percent.

Everyone knows, you can't keep lying to mothers and get away with it. They can tell."

Byrd Endorses Lamont

Firedoglake - Firedoglake weblog: "Senator Robert Byrd, my state Senator, has announced his support for Ned Lamont (h/t Bob Geiger), the Democratic nominee for Senate from the great state of Connecticut. Why is this big news, you ask? Because he is the only member of the 'Gang of Fourteen' to do so thus far.

Sen. Byrd has been my state Senator for my entire lifetime. He’s an old lion of the Senate, and quite good at maneuvering through the political ins and outs. He recently lost his wife of sixty years, so it’s been a tough summer for him, as he’s working on his re-election campaign. He did not need to step out and endorse Ned Lamont — it’s not a race that is on many radar screens here in West Virginia – but he has always been a big proponent of both Senate rules and decorum, and strong party allegiance to the Democratic Party. . ."

BO Blessed

The Blog | Steve Young: With All Due Respect... Bill O'Reilly is Due None | The Huffington Post: ". . . 12/12/02, The O'Reilly Factor (re: pedophiles in Catholic Church) 'We all know, everybody knows -- even (Cardinal) Law knows. Everybody but the pope, who's too senile to know, and I say that with all due respect. I don't think the pope is lucid...'

It would seem that all O'Reilly needs to get away with insulting anyone or anything is to preface it with 'with all due respect,' which in Bill's usage means, 'I have no respect for this person at all.

To which I might add, Bill O'Reilly is a cancer on the body politic as well as a malignant tumor sucking the life out of truth and a puss-filled, hairy mole camouflaging the slime that asphyxiates common decency...with all due respect. "

We wouldn't do that in the South, though everyone knows Bill O'Reilly is a lying, draft-dodging, yellow-bellied scumsucking warmongering nazi islamofacist running cur cretin-- bless his heart.

About that Separation of Church and State

Americans United: Americans United Criticizes Lack Of Accountability In FEMA Funding Of Religious Groups: "Americans United Criticizes Lack Of Accountability In FEMA Funding Of Religious Groups
Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hurricane Victims Should Not Be Subjected To Unwanted Proselytism By Government-Funded Church Groups, Says Watchdog Group

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today sharply criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for its plan to fund hurricane relief efforts by churches without adequate accountability and safeguards to protect the evacuees.

“After FEMA’s ineptitude in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it’s distressing to see the Bush administration making even more blunders,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Before you turn over millions of taxpayer dollars to churches, there must be strict accountability and safeguards to protect the civil and religious liberty rights of those who need help. . .”"

The Muddling Middle

The Seattle Times: Opinion: Shooting holes in the two-party wall: ". . .Welcome to American politics where the adults are played by the two major parties and fervent supporters.

The role of the naïve kid is played by, well, everybody else who does not fit into the rigid lines drawn by the Democrats and Republicans.

We folks in the middle prefer to choose from a political buffet. A little bit of environmentalism, a dash of tax relief, a side of civil rights and a dessert of accountability smothered with liberty sauce. (Can anybody tell me what happened to the menu item limiting the size of government?) . . ."

The Politics of Name Calling

The Observer | Comment | Playing victim: ". . .The message is simple. The disastrous turn of events in Iraq - and the wider state of the world - has little to do with Republican mis-steps since 2000.

No, it is in fact the fault of the Democrats and their lily-livered ways. The tone used to make this point is straight from the school yard. William Kristol, editor of the Neocon bible the Weekly Standard, penned a piece this week lambasting anti-war Democrats as 'The Bugs Bunny Democrats' (because they prefer to use carrots not sticks). That is fairly mild. A current favourite phrase among Conservative commentators post-Lieberman is 'whackadoo'. As in: 'The Democrats are now controlled by the whackadoo wing of the party'. It's usually coupled with 'extremists', 'peacenicks' and that perennial favourite: 'liberal'.

Sometimes the language is that of the Cold War (Lieberman was 'purged' by the anti-war left). Or it is of the War on Terror (Lieberman himself said his opponents were on a 'jihad' against him). Ann Coulter, a right wing loud mouth who recently called Al Gore 'a fag', simply refers to Democrats as traitors. Thanks for that helpful analysis, Ann. . ."

The Big Lie

Ruth Rosen: 'Oliver Stone, 9/11, and the Big Lie'

via The Smirking Chimp: "You might say, 'But everyone knows it was al-Qaeda.' And you'd be right, but do most Americans really know just who those terrorists were or that they had no connection to Iraq -- that not a single one of them even came from that country? It doesn't sound very important until you realize that various polls over the last five years have reported from 20% to 50% of Americans still believe Iraqis were on those planes. (They were not.) As of early 2005, according to a Harris poll, 47% of Americans were convinced that Saddam Hussein actually helped plan the attack and supported the hijackers. And in February, 2006, according to a unique Zogby poll of American troops serving in Iraq, '85% said the U.S. mission is mainly ‘to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks'; 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was ‘to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.''

The Big Lie, first coined by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf,was made famous by Joseph Goebbels, propaganda minister for the Third Reich. The idea was simple enough: Tell a whopper (the larger the better) often enough and most people will come to accept it as the truth. During World War II, the predecessor of the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services, described how the Germans used the Big Lie: "[They] never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it. . .'"

Who's Driving the Straight-Talk Express?

The Blog | Arianna Huffington: Has Chuck Hagel Hijacked the Straight Talk Express? | The Huffington Post

". . .He's also been critical of the GOP's use of "catchy slogans" to avoid having a serious debate on Iraq. He said that using buzzwords like cut-and-run "debase the seriousness of war."

And he decried the White House's propensity for labeling as unpatriotic anyone who disagrees with its Iraq policies. "The Bush administration," he said in November 2005, "must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them... To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic."

Hagel has also taken an outspoken stance on the crisis in Lebanon, expressing support for Israel but not for the tactics it's chosen to use. "The war against Hezbollah and Hamas will not be won on the battlefield," he said recently. He predicted that "extended military action will tear apart Lebanon, destroy its economy and infrastructure, create a humanitarian disaster, further weaken Lebanon's fragile democratic government, strengthen popular Muslim and Arab support for Hezbollah, and deepen hatred of Israel across the Middle East."

It's almost as if McCain has abandoned the Straight Talk Express on the side of the road and Hagel has hopped into the driver's seat.

Will his party, looking for a way out of the Iraq quagmire, climb on board?"

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Enroning Lamont

Daily Kos: Enron Lobbyist Corralling Senate Dem Support for Lieberman: "The Hill Newspaper reports that Enron lobbyist Michael Lewan, Joe Lieberman's former chief of staff, is 'work[ing] to quell Democratic discontent with Lieberman and to steer [Senators] away from campaigning against his former boss.' Lewan has simultaneously raised cash for Lieberman and for now-convicted Connecticut Republican Gov. John Rowland, telling the Hartford Courant at the time that 'they are two like-minded guys' and that his job for both men is to 'collect checks and pass them along.' Lewan also recently held a lobbyist-sponsored D.C. fundraiser for Lieberman, Lewan breathlessly begging his fellow influence peddlers to give more cash to Lieberman. 'The Washington lawyers and lobbyists in those rooms will come back for Joe Lieberman,' he said. 'Who knows what Lamont would be like?'

Lewan's loyalty is understandable - as the Washington Monthly reported, Lieberman obediently 'balked' at Democratic demands to use his committee chairmanship to intensify the Enron investigation. What is surprising and nauseating is that Lieberman's Enron lobbyist has any influence over other Democrats. . ."

Most interesting. . .

Feingold's Take on Court Ruling

Crooks and Liars: "Russ Feingold’s statement on the New NSA ruling
By: John Amato @ 10:43 AM - PDT


“Today’s district court ruling is a strong rebuke of this administration’s illegal wiretapping program. The President must return to the Constitution and follow the statutes passed by Congress. We all want our government to monitor suspected terrorists, but there is no reason for it to break the law to do so. The administration went too far with the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program. Today’s federal court decision is an important step toward checking the President’s power grab.”

Get ready for judge Taylor to be assaulted by the right…"

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

First Lady vs. Vet

The Raw Story | Laura Bush campaigns for right-wing candidate running against disabled Iraq war vet: "First Lady Laura Bush yesterday campaigned at a fundraiser for Illinois State Senator Peter Roskam, a controversial conservative running against a double-amputee Iraq war veteran, RAW STORY has learned.

While touting Roskam's mixed record on the environment, Mrs. Bush chose to omit the controversial conservative's voting history on gun control, abortion and other social issues. . ."

Polling Bush

MyDD :: Direct Democracy for People-Powered Politics: "In an important development paralleling the Vietnam-era split in the Democratic Party base, a split is developing among Republican Party base voters around the war in Iraq and the credibility of Republican Party leaders who initiated the war. In post-election polling done by Courage Campaigns and in the Republican-leaning California 50th district, we found that only 19% of Republican voters believe that the Republican Party will hold Bush accountable for mistakes made in Iraq, versus 48% of Republican voters who believe that the Democratic Party will hold Bush accountable. . ."

Defining the Enemy

from the comments at The Reaction -- by Michael J.W. Stickings: Unrealism in the White House:

". . .The followers of Osama bin Laden were indoctrinated in accordance with Wahhabism. Many of Westerners, especially in the USA, don’t have the slightest idea about the differences within the Muslim world of their many different sects, as we have in our own Western world many religious differences amongst Christians. Who are they: For more than two centuries, Wahhabism has been Saudi Arabia's dominant faith. It is an austere form of Islam that insists on a literal interpretation of the Koran. Strict Wahhabis believe that all those who don't practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies, including other Sunnis Muslims and Shiite Muslims. Critics say that Wahhabism's rigidity has led it to misinterpret and distort Islam, pointing to extremists such as Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Wahhabism's explosive growth began in the 1970s when Saudi charities started funding Wahhabi schools (madrassas) and mosques from Islamabad to Europe and the USA. Basically they denied what originally the Koran admitted, the very existence of other monotheistic faiths, basically Jews and Christians, which were in some way acceptable, considering their common roots in One God and the Patriarch Abraham worshiped by Mahomet’s followers. . ."

No Moderates Here

Politics 101: Don't Reinforce Your Opponents' Lies: ". . .Take, for instance, the term 'moderate.' This is a word the American Heritage Dictionary defines as 'Being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme.' Yet, it is applied specifically to politicians pundits who, measured against public opinion, are the opposite, like Joe Lieberman (De Facto GOP Nominee-CT), John McCain (R-AZ) and New York Times columnist David Brooks. Think about their major positions: Lieberman likens his opponents terrorist sympathizers, calls them 'extremists' on national television, and shills for a war that polls show 60 percent of Americans oppose. McCain actually wants to send more troops to Iraq - again a position only a small minority of Americans supports. Brooks calls for an end to American democracy, saying 'voters shouldn't be allowed to define the choices in American politics.' Yet, these folks are routinely referred to by the media and political Establishment as leading 'moderates,' that is, leading voices for positions that are supposedly 'within reasonable limits' and are 'not excessive or extreme' in relation to the rest of the country's positions. . ."

Winning Is The Thing

The Smirking Chimp - Andrew Bard Schmookler: 'The link between how we think and whether we'll win': "Andrew Bard Schmookler: 'Posted on Wednesday, August 16 @ 09:33:38 EDT

Part I. Majority Public Support Is Our Only Way

Andrew Bard Schmookler

One might logically assume that anyone who opposes this Bushite regime would be thinking about ways to defeat these forces. But for many on the left, it seems that the political arena is not a place to achieve good but simply a venue to denounce evil.

For those who don't care about what actually happens as a result of their actions or inactions then, as one of Dostoyevski's characters memorably declared, 'everything is permitted.'

But if, like me, your concern is actually to save the country from the destructive forces now rampant, then it is imperative to acknowledge one inescapable truth:

The only way these fascist forces can possibly be defeated is by gathering a clear majority of the American public to oppose them. . ."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

No Swift Boating

Democrat Taylor Marsh Blogs Politics: "'. . .They are not Swift boating us on security,” was the line Leader Nancy Pelosi used recently. She is exactly right. Republicans have been trying to do that since Vietnam, which has worked almost every time. But it's over. It's over because Republicans have shown how incompetent and deceitful they are when it comes to matters of war and peace. There's another problem. Bush and Republicans in Congress won't hold their own leaders accountable for grave errors. Errors that have caused a massive collapse of American foreign policy credibility around the world, as well as troop moral that is lower than it has been since the post Vietnam era. Bush and the Republicans, with Joe Lieberman backing the president's Iraq policy, did that on their own. Lieberman needs to be held accountable for it. . . "

Huff's Orwell Awards

The Blog | Arianna Huffington: And the Winner is... | The Huffington Post:

". . .The Orwell Awards for Fraudulent Statements

To Tony Snow for blaming 9/11 on George H. W. Bush, perpetuating an outrageous lie about the connection between Iraq and 9/11, and implying that Ned Lamont and the sixty percent of the public who agrees with his position on Iraq want to "walk away" from fighting terrorism: . . .

To ABC's Martha Raddatz for implying that one can't support withdrawing our troops from Iraq and at the same time "support the troops": . .

The Orwell Awards for Speaking the Truth

To former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, for voicing his disagreement with Dick Cheney's disgraceful remark that the Lamont victory would embolden "al Qaeda types": . . .

To Senator Russ Feingold, for correcting Joe Lieberman's fraudulent statement on This Week with George Stephanopoulos: . . ."

Faithful Recruiting

Conservatives Put Faith in Church Voter Drives - Los Angeles Times: "Evangelicals seek to sign up a new flock of GOP supporters in states with crucial November races.
By Peter Wallsten, Times Staff Writer
August 15, 2006

WASHINGTON — As discontent with the Republican Party threatens to dampen the turnout of conservative voters in November, evangelical leaders are launching a massive registration drive that could help counter the malaise and mobilize new religious voters in battleground states.

The program, coordinated by the Colorado-based group Focus on the Family and its influential founder, James C. Dobson, would use a variety of methods — including information inserted in church publications and booths placed outside worship services — to recruit millions of new voters in 2006 and beyond. . ."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Losing the WOT

The Existentialist Cowboy: The Bush Administration: a study in failure, waste, and needless death:

"The GOP elephant labored mightily and delivered a flea! Terror, Iraq, and, most recently, efforts by the Bush administration to goad Israel into attacking Syria have all been miserable failures. [See: Israeli officials say Bush was 'nuts' for egging on their government to attack Syria] Bush, meanwhile, says that it's a mistake to believe that there is no terrorist threat to the US. But, as to be expected, Bush misstates the terrorist threat and expects Americans to draw the wrong conclusions about it.

Bush's remarks and the events that compelled them must be placed in context. An AP-Ipsos poll this week paints the picture: Bush's overall approval rating drops to 33 percent, declining in nearly every issue but most significantly —the lost war in Iraq and his ham-fisted foreign policy. Bush lost ground even in the GOP friendly South where some 19 percent of those who supported Bush in 2004 now say they will vote Democratic.

It is not surprising that Bush will try to milk a foiled terrorist plot for all it's worth. But the old 911 magic may be gone forever. It was in those days, as you may recall, that Bush boasted: 'Lucky me! I just won the trifecta'. . ."

Cheney Gunnin' for Lamont Voters

Did Cheney Go Too Far?:
[uh, er, he always goes too far]
"By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Monday, August 14, 2006; 1:36 PM

By insinuating that the sizeable majority of American voters who oppose the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy, Vice President Cheney on Wednesday may have crossed the line that separates legitimate political discourse from hysteria.

Cheney's comments came in a highly unusual conference call with reporters, part of an extensively orchestrated and largely successful Republican effort to spin the obviously anti-Bush message of Ned Lamont's victory over presidential enabler Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary. . ."

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Feeding the Dogs

Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: "The Muslim Mind":

". . .When asked about spirituality, a Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner:

'Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.'

When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, 'The one I feed. . .'"

Better Ideas from Democrats

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth: ". . .Beyond the tired slur and twisted logic, it seems to me that this is a particularly crazy idea. Democrats are, unfortunately, still viewed by many as less credible than Republicans on national security. So... um... wouldn't there be no greater political advantage for Democrats than a 'total victory' in the war on terror? By anybody, I mean; by either party. If we could just get this darn terrorism stuff completely taken care of, wouldn't that be a huge political boon for Democrats? After all, the American people pretty much recognize that Democrats are better on education, health care, the economy, and virtually every other major domestic issue. Wouldn't Democrats, therefore, have the most to gain by a total victory over terrorism? If we could get back to the issues that affect people on a daily basis, Democrats would win all the time, right?

In reality, Democrats have better ideas for fighting terrorism, both its practitioners and its root causes, and we're slowly but surely demonstrating this fact to the public. But for as long as many Americans still believe the myth that Republicans can keep us safe, it's Republicans that need terrorism to be at the forefront of national consciousness, not Democrats. That's not to say we're trying to avoid the issue -- Democrats can and should beat Republicans on national security -- but we're not the party that needs it, that seems to relish THE SCARY."

Fearing Fear

Fayetteville Online - Current Article Page:

". . .Something else verges on terrifying too. The reactions by some of our politicians were a chilling reminder of their willingness to use our fear to further their own agenda.

The terrorists aren’t attacking one political party. They are attacking all of us. Politicians can, and should, debate our strategy against terrorists and the course of the war in Iraq. But questioning each other’s patriotism or resolve against terrorists should be out of bounds. It is unnecessary and divisive. And it is, quite simply, a diversionary tactic. Members of both parties have repeatedly shown by their votes strong support for the war against terror.

But even as British police were arresting some of the terror plot suspects, Vice President Dick Cheney was sounding off on Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman’s primary defeat by a businessman who successfully made opposition to the Iraq war the centerpiece of his campaign. It shows “the direction the party appears to be heading,” Cheney said. “What is particularly disturbing about it is from the standpoint of our adversaries. ... They are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.” Voting against Lieberman, he said, is encouraging “the al Qaida types.”

Sadly, Lieberman himself was unable to resist blurring the lines between the Iraq war and the war on terror. “If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England,” Lieberman said. “It will strengthen them, and they will strike again. . .”"

Some people call this newspaper, given its proximity to, The Fort Bragg Disturber.

A Question of Timing

NBC: Disagreement over timing of arrests - Lisa Myers & the NBC Investigative Unit - "Source: U.S., U.K. at odds over timing of arrests
British wanted to continue surveillance on terror suspects, official says"

From the Gomer Pyle Department of
"Surprise! Surprise!"

"Aug. 12: U.S. and British authorities disagreed on when to break up an alleged plot to blow up airliners bound for the United States, officials say. NBC's Lisa Myers reports.

LONDON - NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.

A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

No Liberal Media, Take 6,412

David Sirota: "Finally, The Media Elite Admit the Truth About Themselves

Finally, oh thank God finally, the Washington media elite is making it easy. Usually, D.C.’s professional pundits, pontificators and partisan puppets very carefully package their language to hide their real motives and their real beliefs. But this week following the primary defeat of Sen. Joe Lieberman by first-time candidate Ned Lamont, America is witnessing a good-old-fashioned watershed moment: the perfume is off, the restraint is removed, and the ugly, rancid, sweaty-lockerroom stench of truth is there for all of us commoners to waft. Sniff up, contain your dry heaving, and you will finally understand that all the talk of the Establishment’s disdain for ordinary citizens is not just talk or conspiracy theory - it’s very real, and very powerful. . ."

Go read this post; it is terrific.

Conservative Foreign Policy

The Smirking Chimp: "Bob Burnett

The failure of the occupation of Iraq, coupled with the Bush Administration’s unleashing of Israel, makes one thing clear: conservative foreign policy has failed. Conservatism hasn’t strengthened America’s position in the world, produced the Pax Americana that conservatives expected. It’s done the exact opposite; weakened the United States across the board. As a result, we’re witnessing the death of the conservative dream of American empire.

Conservative foreign policy rests upon two beliefs: The first is that military might is sufficient to ensure supremacy of American interests. The second belief is that when it is unencumbered by government interference, the marketplace will solve the world’s problems whatever they are: WMDs, poverty, or global warming.

Conservatives rely solely upon the military to solve America’s foreign policy disputes. Their stance is based upon a logical contradiction: conservatism insists on drastic reduction of the Federal government and simultaneously demands that the Department of Defense grow larger. The US military budget is roughly equal to the amount that the rest of the world spends on defense, yet for conservatives this is never enough. Each year brings demands for increased expenditures on foolish projects, the anti-missile defense system being only one. . ."

Friday, August 11, 2006

First Liquid Bombs

AmericaBLOG posted the following:
" More evidence that this Red Alert is a wee bit suspect
by John in DC - 8/11/2006 08:22:00 AM

Check out the photo below [I can't post images via email so click here to see the pix]. Yes, Ma'am, we think you might have highly explosive liquids in your possession that could kill thousands of Americans and blow up an entire airplane. So please pour the liquid out in front of these hundreds of passengers, including that small baby just three feet behind you, and into this large bucket mixed with all sorts of other unknown and possibly explosive (and reactive) liquids, including alcohol, peroxide, acids, and more. Yeah, that would be the smart way to dispose of suspected terrorist explosives.

These guys are either lying to us, or criminally negligent morons. But this is coming off as bad as the duct tape fiasco.

More here.

Another point about this "liquid explosive." It was
liquid explosives that were suspected in the plot back in 1995 that Clinton foiled, the one to blow up numerous US airlines over the Pacific. Why is it that since that time it's been okay to bring liquids on board planes, but now suddenly it's not? Why was it safe on Monday, but not safe on Friday? Bush knew at the start of his administration that terrorists had tried to use explosive liquids to blow up American planes, so did he or didn't he prepare for that possibility, and if he did, then why are they now banning all liquids (since, in principle, they should have already had a way to monitor the liquids they've been letting us bring on over the past ten years)? Something isn't quite right."

Liberal War Plans

Here's a point from the on-going debate about liberals over at Andrew Sullivan's place:

"A reader writes:

The first response to your complaint that liberal bloggers don't offer alternatives is to quote your hero Sir Winston: "The opposition is not responsible for proposing integrated and complicated measures of policy. Sometimes they do, but it is not their obligation."

Beyond that I'd say a perfectly responsible liberal take on the war is this:  The best weapon we have against the Islamic extremists in the long haul is the soft power of modern culture - its comforts, its freedoms and, well, it's enlightenment.  Modernization is appealing, and will win, if given half chance.  But if by our clumsy, aggressive behavior we cause moderate, ordinary Muslims to confuse modernization with American aggression, with torture, with greed for oil, and with uncritical support for Greater Israel, then by that behavior we deprive ourselves of our greatest strategic advantage. . ."

The Other Side of Security

"The point
Posted by Patrick at 07:06 PM * 110 comments

George R. R. Martin demonstrates his membership in that portion of America that has not, in fact, gone stark raving mad:

Step by step, year by year, the TSA and its predecessors have taken away more and more of our freedoms, subjecting millions of perfectly innocent travellers to searches and interrogations and other hassles in the vague hope of catching hijackers (in the old days) and terrorists (these days). Even if it worked, the price would be too high, but of course it does not work. It has never worked.

The mindrot that leads to where we are is on full display in one of the comments to George’s post, where someone writes “I think it’s ironic that people say that these security measures aren’t helping, after a terrorist plot is thwarted.” As if the British had caught these guys by confiscating their toothpaste at Heathrow. In fact, from what we’re told, it appears this plot was rolled up by the traditional method, which is to say, weeks and months of hard slogging police work. And yet somehow this means the rest of us now have to submit to yet another expansion of intrusive, degrading security theater. Here’s a clue: the intrusiveness, the degradation, are the point. That hopelessness you feel? It’s what your rulers want."