Friday, December 29, 2006

Craig on Lieberman

What people need to realize about Joe, is he's basically putting his name on things the White House wants to tag as bipartisan, to pay them back for getting him all that money and republican support during the election. It's smart on the White House's part, sock puppetry on Joe's part. It isn't bipartisan, it's republicans and Joe, and Joe is not a democrat...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Shhhhhhhhhh!

What they don't know can't hurt us.

* For more than a year, the Interior Department refused to release a 2005 study showing a government subsidy for oil companies was not effective.

* The White House Office of National Drug Policy paid for a 5-year, $43 million study which concluded their anti-drug ad campaigns did not work -- but it refused to release those findings to Congress. (Thanks to skeptic)

* In 2006, the Federal Communications Commission ordered destroyed all copies of an unreleased 2004 draft report concluding that media consolidation hurt local TV news coverage, which runs counter to the administration's pro-consolidation stance. (Thanks to Jim Tobias)

* After Bush assumed power in 2001, the Department of Labor removed from its Web site "Don't Work in the Dark -- Know Your Rights," a publication informing women of their workplace rights. (via the National Council for Research on Women)

* The Department of Labor also removed from its Web site roughly two dozen fact sheets on women's workplace issues such as women in management, earning differences between men and women, child care concerns, and minority women in the workplace. (via the National Council for Research on Women)

* In February 2004, the appointed head of the Office of Special Counsel -- created to protect government employees' rights -- ordered removed from a government Web site information on the rights of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals in the public workplace. (via the National Council for Research on Women)

This Just [Not Really] In...

From Justin Rood, at the TPM Muckraker:

Reader SB points us to an entry today at The Corner, a blog belonging to National Review magazine, entitled "FROM IRAQ: A MARINE’S NOTES."

Among other things, the unnamed Marine tells the National Review that:
Morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe that they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them.

That sentiment seems a bit out of place, given that the president himself admitted last week the United States isn't winning the war. Granted, his words were widely reported by the media -- but that's hardly a reason to hate on the messenger.

Turns out the post is out of place, as SB discovered: the "MARINE'S NOTES" are actually an excerpt from an e-mail that circulated widely around November 2005, perhaps earlier.

The e-mail is said to have been written by an unnamed Marine or just-retired Marine, who had recently (at the time of the e-mail's alleged writing) returned from Iraq.

However, the differing provenances given by the blogs which reprinted the e-mail when it circulated last year makes it hard to confirm its authenticity.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

John McCain Hires Communications Director

for his New Hampshire campaign.

It's Jill Hazelbaker.

Yep, Jill Hazelbaker.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Media Regains Watchdog Edge...

...over something completely irrelevant:

Q Tony, can you tell us about Mrs. Bush's skin cancer? How is she doing? And how was the decision reached not to disclose this publicly until questions were asked?

MR. SNOW: Yes, I talked to her a couple of minutes ago. She's doing fine. And she said, "It's no big deal, and we knew it was no big deal at the time." Frankly I don't think anybody thought it was the sort of thing that occasioned a need for a public disclosure. Furthermore, she's got the same right to medical privacy that you do. She's a private citizen; she's not an elected official. So for that reason she didn't disclose it. But she's doing fine, and thank you for your concern.

Q She is often an advocate for women's health in the area of breast cancer or heart disease, advocating screenings, preventative care. Is she likely to talk about skin cancer in that way?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. Fortunately, squamous cell carcinoma, at least in this particular case, was not dangerous. But let me just say, without having cleared it with her, I'm sure that she would be more than supportive of anybody to go out, and if you think you've got a problem with a change in a mole or some skin problems, go get it checked out by a doctor.

Q And she didn't feel any obligation as a person of public status to talk about this?

MR. SNOW: No, again, there are any number of -- this is a room full of public people who tend not -- and I know you say, wait a minute, I'm different than the First Lady. Well, no, she's a private citizen. And the fact is, she is entitled to her medical privacy. And, again, it's no big deal. In this case, it's just not a big deal.

Q May I follow on that? The President is also a private citizen, as well as being the President. So --

MR. SNOW: Well, he's an elected official. It's different.

Q He's an elected official and a private citizen. You can make the same claims of a number of people who have public lives. Mrs. Bush has made herself part of this party and this White House's very public face. So my question is, if this were to be something that is a big deal, would the White House feel obliged to share that with the public?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. She didn't feel obliged, and she believes that she has the same medical privacy rights that you and I have.

Q Did the White House doctor treat her?

MR. SNOW: That I don't know. I didn't ask. There is the confidentiality -- and guess what? Medical privacy also applies to her case in this particular incident.

Q This morning you said you'd make that inquiry.

MR. SNOW: Yes -- you know what, I didn't.

Q But you will?

MR. SNOW: No. It's medical privacy, and I'm not going to get into this.

Q Was it done offsite or was she treated here at the White House? That's a question to add to your list.

Q May we ask, just so that you don't say, you never asked so that's why we haven't told you -- is the Vice President well these days? Has there been any medical incident that would be of interest to the American public?

MR. SNOW: As you know, whenever there is a medical incident involving the Vice President -- I've been an anchor when these things have happened -- you are notified promptly and immediately; cameras are dispatched to the scene, where people stand and wait and wait and wait and wait, until they can see the Vice President getting back into a limo and returning to wherever he is.

So as you know, the President and Vice President, being the two chief elected officials in this country, if there are important health developments, you hear about it. And we think that that's appropriate.

Q Tony, on this point, did the First Lady say she actually does not plan to come out in any way? You know, as someone who would advocate for people --

MR. SNOW: Let me repeat to you exactly what she said. She said, "It's no big deal, we knew it wasn't a big deal at the time." Apparently, she's wrong about this.

Q No, what I'm saying is, as far as encouraging people to be checked. What I'm saying is even though she may not be an elected official, she's a very public official and very well loved. And as someone who has two adolescents who don't like to listen to mother when she says, put on the sun screen, get out of the sun, she could potentially have a great influence on a lot of people's lives, especially young women.

MR. SNOW: She's also had colds, she's had the flu, she's had stomach aches --

Q When? (Laughter.)

Q But those tend not to be --

MR. SNOW: -- she's had a number --

Q Melanoma can kill, skin cancer can kill. It can be very serious.

MR. SNOW: This particular one could not.

Q But she could still -- it could be a platform.

MR. SNOW: You guys are really stretching it. I mean, it is now officially a really slow news day.
*

Q Going back to Mrs. Bush, it seems that there are two things going on, in terms of not informing the public and the press. Which was it, was it that it was medical privacy that was the reason for not informing us, or was it that it was no big deal?

MR. SNOW: It was medical privacy, but also what we're trying to do is to console you with the notion that, in addition, it was no big deal.

Q So there was a conscious decision that, okay, we're not going to tell anybody because this is medical privacy, this is something for us, it's not for --

MR. SNOW: Well, I don't know, if you'll be happy to share all your private medical information, maybe we can change it around. But I don't think that's appropriate, nor does the First Lady. She's got the same privacy rights when it comes to her medical information that you and I do.

Q But was the decision made not to share it?

MR. SNOW: Yes, in the sense -- let me put it this way: It never occurred to anybody that this would be a big deal. It never occurred -- but suddenly everybody is --

Q First it was described as a sore, and now, a month-and-a-half later, it's revealed that it's cancer. So there was one story out there that's been corrected.

MR. SNOW: Do you understand -- if you've been -- there are literally millions of Americans who have been through this, and you can ask them whether they thought this was a big deal or not. It was quickly diagnosed. They said, the sore is not going away, we're going to take a look at it. They did. They did a biopsy, they found out it was a squamous cell cancer and they removed it. They did local anesthetic; they removed it.

Q But the White House might have had an interest in correcting the record when bad information was out there.

MR. SNOW: No, there wasn't bad information. She had a sore. It wasn't bad information -- that's what she knew at the time.

*

Q Is the administration's policy when it comes to Medicare or Medicaid health care coverage, as well as health savings accounts (inaudible) -- part of your policy is to encourage regular screening, health care screening, as well as the importance of early protection and treatment. And if you do that then it avoids becoming a big (inaudible). So I'm just trying to understand the message (inaudible).

MR. SNOW: The First Lady, at the first sign that she had not a nick on her shin but, instead, a squamous cell cancer had it dealt with immediately.

Q I know, but I don't understand --

MR. SNOW: I'm not sure that -- look, as somebody who has been through colon cancer, there's screening for that. The people who have been through breast cancer, there's screening for that. Perhaps I am ignorant, and I'm sure I am, of the situation when it comes to squamous cell cancer, but I'm not sure that there's a regular screening process. However, it's important that people take care of themselves. There is also an element of personal responsibility involved. I don't think, and I think it's a real stretch, Paula, to say that this is a mixed signal. What I'd ask you to do is consult your common sense.

Q I'm sorry, but there are -- and I know, personally, of instances where there is a chance of recurrence of this type of cancer. So isn't it important to stress skin cancer?

MR. SNOW: Okay, well, we consider it stressed. Absolutely, take care of yourselves. Get tested all the time -- still do. In fact, I have my next test tomorrow -- day after.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Message from DraftObama.org

We need your help urgently to get our message on Cable TV in pivotal regions of the country.

In just over three weeks, thousands of Americans like you have come together at DraftObama.org to urge Senator Obama to run for President. Our impact has been incredible -- we have gotten tremendous coverage from all the major television news networks, mention in hundreds of newspaper articles nationwide and attention from all the "talking heads" on TV and print media.

The momentum we have helped to create behind Senator Obama - should he decide to run -- is literally unprecedented in modern-day American politics.

And we have only just begun.

This week, we launched a fantastic television advertisement that we intend to run in the coming week in New Hampshire, Washington, D.C. and perhaps, Hawaii. The ad has been shown on several national cable news programs already and is among the most popular videos at YouTube. If you haven't seen it already, you can check it out on our website.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Shut Up, Einstein, It's Election-Time

10,000 US researchers have signed a petition meant to shed light on Republican interference in the scientific process. Their statement sites instances of scientists in federal agencies being asked to change data to reflect current policy. From BBC News:

The [American Geophysical] Union has released an "A to Z" guide that it says documents dozens of recent allegations involving censorship and political interference in federal science, covering issues ranging from global warming to sex education.

The claim is a direct attack on the Republican congress and it's misuse of scientific data to support initiatives, and their disregard for scientific integrity. The guide sites specific instances of censorship and misrepresentation, and claims the practice has been increasingly prevalent in recent years.

Among the 10,000 signatures are those of 52 Nobel Laureates, and previous scientific advisers to administrations dating back to the 1950's. The Union does say they have hope that the incoming Democratic Congress will turn the tide.

The petition includes signatures from both sides of the political fence.

It seems to me this is more than another signal of political arrogance and irresponsible decisions. It is more than hubris. What does it say about a nation that they allow into power a group willing to distort information that in a very real and immediate way effects our daily lives and decisions for the future. What does it say about a people who not only voted these individuals into power, but also show only moderate outrage at the bounds they have so often overstepped?

As Americans, we pretend to pride ourselves on being informed and literate regarding the ways of the world. Those who support the current war will be the first to tell you we are liberating an oppressed people.

One of the greatest tenants of oppression is control and restriction of information. With the distortion of scientific research, our elected officials are not only creating a misinformed public and faulty "way forward," but they are also laying the framework (as eventually, they begin to believe their own perpetuated fallacies) for a fool of a nation, stumbling about spouting jibberish, bullying any who descent, and steadily losing every last semblance of credibility or relevance.

This is more than just a few lying Republican's bent on keeping their power. The fact that this kind of practice can exist in an American congress, alongside the fact that these "leaders" were voted into power by a "free" people, decries a will of the people to not only repress themselves, but also to blindly support and encourage a government that believes we are too inept to be dealt the truth in all matters.

There are many kinds of oppression, some blatant, and some quite subtle. Accepting a misinformed concept of reality, and tolerating any chosen representative who does not afford us the respect of truthful data with which to gauge our support is the first step down a very quick path to what we all, Republican and Democrat alike, fear most: our loss of freedom.

Information and Democracy are inextricably linked. In a large population, once cannot exist without the other.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Headlines: Soldiers Die Protecting President's Approval Rating

As if he could predict the outcome of the Iraq Study Group, Bush made it widely known that in addition to the Baker/Hamilton study, the White House would be conducting it's own internal review to offer suggestions in what they are calling a "way forward."

Today the recommendations of that internal review were revealed, and surprise surprise, they recommend the opposite of the advice offered by the Baker/Hamilton Report. It's almost as if Bush was just smart enough to know what the Baker/Hamilton Report would say, and in the only sign of intelligent (if too late) political posturing this administration has ever shown, rushed together a "crack team" of "experts" (including a historian, and we all know you can't disregard the military advice of an academic historian when it comes to war) to assure that on the heels of the recommendations of Baker/Hamilton for the withdrawal/realignment of US troops, the White House's own review would, days later, recommend the opposite.

How does the White House review compare to the Iraq Study Group? Well, for one, the Baker/Hamilton Report was produced through several months of examining the dynamics of the region, the abilities of the current US military, the costs and benefits of multiple courses of action in the future of the war, and the effects possible outcomes. The White House review, however, seems to have focused more on the timing of the release.

When the White House review began, the interagency group debated whether to try to beat the Iraqi Study Group's report or let it play out and then look "bigger and better" by doing a report later, said an official familiar with the discussions.
They decided to wait, to preserve political timing, rather than soldiers' lives.

The White House panel, made up of retired Army generals and academics (and don't forget, a historian!) spent one month (a very violent month, according to fatality reports) deliberating before releasing official recommendations to the President, in person. And during that month, they remained focused on their illustrious goal:
...the emphasis throughout the month-long process has been to produce a strategy that would be deliberately distinct, the official added.
Notice there is no mention of producing a strategy that would be "smart" or "effective."

Finally, the Baker/Hamilton Report, while not perfect, was at least an attempt to provide possible alternatives to a failing war, a contemptuous White House, and an effectively duped American populace. The White House review seems to be a cheap attempt to present Americans with an alternative to intelligent strategy.
The White House review does not have the depth or scope of the Iraq Study Group's, according to officials familiar with the deliberations. "There's a lack of thinking on other big issues -- oil, the economy, infrastructure and jobs," said one source who was briefed on the interagency discussions.
The driving purpose behind the review seems founded more on creating support of the President's previous decisions, and perhaps an attempt to pave the way for his continued stubborn disregard for the will of, and the protection of, the American people. It can be seen simply as an alternative recommendation, or a thinly veiled and poorly contrived attempt to justify "staying the course."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Iraq Study Group Report...Report

On December 7th, after the release of the Iraq Study Group Report, the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) reviewed headlines from 197 newspapers, and discovered that most headlines regarding the report were split into two (partisan?) primary groups:

One portrayed the report as largely critical of the Bush administration and/or emphasized how dire and grim the situation was in Iraq. The other, somewhat more neutral in tone, focused on the report’s theme that a shift in direction was necessary. While neither message was particulary cheery, editors seemed split over whether to focus on the idea of failure and blame or the need to change.
The first group weighed in more heavily with 88 headlines. Outside of the majority, other headlines focused instead on the legitimacy of the study group itself.
At least five of the headlines focused on criticism of the study group report, including one in The Tribune of San Luis Obispo California that concluded: “Iraq Study Group report is short on how to clear hurdles.”
Overall it seems the report was given a fair chance in the nations print media (Let's not even discuss how it was handled on cable "news"). Perhaps the most valuable return from the PEJ review was the discovery of a headline from a Pennsylvania paper, the Erie Times-News, reading:
“Iraq report out – now what?”

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Todays Reality Check

courtesy of the Center for American Progress "Under the Radar" Report:

HUMAN RIGHTS -- SPECTER AND LEAHY INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO RESTORE HABEAS PROTECTIONS FOR DETAINEES: Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VA) have introduced the "Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2006," legislation that would reinstate federal court jurisdiction over Guantanamo detainees and other suspected enemy combatants. The Military Commissions Act of 2006, which President Bush signed into law in October, prevents detainees who are not U.S. citizens from challenging their detentions in civilian courts. The new bipartisan proposal would would repeal two provisions that severely limit the right of a citizen to question before a judge whether his detention is legal. Specter said Tuesday that the Military Commissions Act violates the Constitution, despite the fact that he voted for legislation. "The Constitution of the United States is explicit that habeas corpus may be suspended only in time of rebellion or invasion," Specter said on the Senate floor. "We are suffering neither of those alternatives at the present time. We have not been invaded, and there has not been a rebellion." Leahy added, "Abolishing habeas corpus for anyone who the government thinks might have assisted enemies of the United States is unnecessary and morally wrong. It is a betrayal of the most basic values of freedom for which America stands." Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) earlier introduced the "Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act," which also amended the Military Commissions Act to institute a more effective process for bringing terrorists to justice.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Information and Democracy, Part II

The Media

Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed... And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment--the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution--not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply "give the public what it wants"--but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion. - John F. Kennedy
On March 6, 2003, President George W. Bush held his second news conference since assuming office (the first being one month after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center). The purpose of the press conference was to stress to the nation the threat that Iraq posed to our War on Terror, state the existence of intelligence showing Saddam Hussein was moving his weapons of mass destruction every 12 to 24 hours, and that “diplomacy was in its last phase.” Most questions posed by the media revolved around disagreeing opinions issued by France and Germany on the justification to invade Iraq.

At one point during the conference, a member of the press was called on by the President, and made these comments:
Mr. President, as the nation is at odds over war, with many organizations like the Congressional Black Caucus pushing for continued diplomacy through the U.N., how is your faith guiding you? And what should you tell America? Well, what should America do collectively as you instructed before 9/11? Should it be pray? Because you are saying, "Let's continue the war on terror."
The now historic press conference has since been a focal point for those calling for a more responsible media, consensus being this press conference illuminates a pandering Press Corps too eager to roll over for white house staff. Nearly a year later, at a forum conducted by Townsend University and the University of California, New York Times White House correspondent Elizabeth Bumiller, who attended the 2003 press conference, was asked to respond to statements that the media had lost its direction, had forgotten its role of skeptic in a democracy. Bumiller said:
I think we were very deferential, because in the East Room press conference, it's live. It’s very intense. It's frightening to stand up there. I mean, think about it. You are standing up on prime time live television, asking the president of the United States a question when the country is about to go to war. There was a very serious, somber tone that evening, and I think it made -- and you know, nobody wanted to get into an argument with the President at this very serious time. It had a very heavy feeling of history to it, that press conference.
In only the second press opportunity provided by an administration about to lead us into a war, about to plan and execute the first invasion in the history of the United States, nobody wanted to get into an argument with the President.

The Bush White House has been described as one of the most secretive since Nixon. Not a fan of Washington, or the media, the President and his staff placed great importance on controlling the way information was disseminated through the media to the public. One of the few interviews granted the media was offered to Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame, an Assistant Managing Editor at the Washington Post. Woodward published three books, from 2002 to 2006, Bush At War, chronicling the days after September 11th, Plan Of Attack, on the move from Afghanistan to Iraq, and in 2006, State of Denial.

Public reaction to the first two books was mixed. Many praised what they read as a positive depiction of the President, as a man of belief, and resolve; a problem solver, similar to the image the White House had been trying to convey. Critics of Bush saw Woodward’s books as another compromise of journalism. After all, this is the reporter who, with Carl Bernstein and the Washington Post, took on the Nixon White House, and exposed the Watergate cover-up. The man who once embodied, in many people’s minds, the very essence of the beat reporter, digging for the news, uncovering the truth, not afraid to challenge the White House or even the President himself. Critics felt the books were praising a President that Helen Thomas, a 56 year veteran of White House reporting, was simultaneously calling “The worst President in the history of the United States.” Thomas’s editorial comments and press conference tirades were lauded by many, while critics found her attacks on policy during press briefings inappropriate.

The third book, State of Denial, was a portrayal of the Bush administration as a secretive, dysfunctional group that has not been forthright with the American people and has mishandled the war in Iraq Liberals rejoice, decrying Woodward’s redemption as a journalist. Conservatives, including the White House, felt betrayed, describing his reporting as “cotton candy,” despite praise of the earlier books.

Woodward’s defense of the trilogy of books was simply that he was reporting the information made available at the time, and didn’t have the information for State of Denial when he was writing the first two books. “I wish I had,” he said. Helen Thomas’s defense of her comments during press briefings is that since retiring from UPI, she was no longer just reporting, but freely speaking her opinion as a columnist.

These examples are presented as very different, yet related, scenarios of how the press functions in today’s politics.

The 2003 press conference shows a media body cowed by the traumatic events of 2001, and the very human emotional reaction. It sheds light on a press corps afraid to challenge a president, with no questions to ask of greater import than “Mr. President, should we pray?” The press was not kind to the White House out of loyalty, or allegiance, the press was afraid to challenge the conventions and ideology of a very charged and idealistic White House. Who dared to be the first to burst the bubble and risk accusation of dissention, in order to ask questions and reveal the truth of are reason for invading a third world country? Very few, and their voices could not be heard over the cheerleading media blinded by patriotism, and perhaps wanting, as much as those who supported going to war, the United States to exact revenge on those who had attacked us.

The polarized reactions to Woodward and Thomas illustrates that politicians and the public are eager to pin the media down to a side, and discover their personal beliefs, as a way of separating fact from fiction. Woodward’s books are suspect, depending on where his partisan loyalties lie, regardless of factual merit. Yet he commented once that he decides who he is going to vote for on the 10 minute walk to the polling station. Are we willing to pinning our determination of truth versus fiction on the labels of Democrat or Republican, and the media’s 10 minute walk to the polling stations? Helen Thomas has gone to lengths to remind us she is no longer simply a reporting. "I censored myself for 50 years when I was a reporter. Now [as a columnist for Hearst] I wake up and ask myself, 'Who do I hate today?'” But the distinction seems lost. The line between reporting and editorializing has been obscured.

Regardless of which side a person falls regarding our invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent ongoing war, few could argue that the media in general has earned the title “Watchdogs of Democracy.” Ask around your neighborhood or workplace, and you will find most people now have a “favorite” news channel, or a most hated news personality (a word once reserved for talk shows). Fox News endures accusations for conservative leanings, and MSNBC and CNN grapple to keep up with Jon Stewart (having been bested several times by the satirical news show, when it comes to exposing the truth). We, the voters, are getting lost in the new partisanship of warring news agencies. And no where is the battle about truth, or fiction, it is about which party we support.

The problem is not the person lucky enough to have a book contract. The problem is not the local correspondent who works into a talk show on Fox, nor the street reporter who becomes editor of a large corporate newspaper. The problem is that we, the public, have no faith we can strip fact from fiction, or see the lie within the truth. We expect our politicians to be corrupt, and our media to tell us what to think through scandal and reality TV shenanigans, and to taint our news with partisan politics. We have grown accustomed to being talked over, or talked down to, and we have accepted it without a fight.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I'd vote for him . . .

Craig's Condensed US History of the 20th Century.

1917-1918 – WW1 (the US's first role as a super power)

1929 – Stock Market Crash
(hey, you guys seen my money, like all of it?)

1930-1941 – Great Depression (you usin that nickel, what about that crumb?)

1941-1945 – WW2 (people getting all take over the worldy)

1945 – 1989 – Cold War
(from McCarthy to Gorbachev and all the fun inbetween, and it may have been the only thing Reagan did right, on accident of course, this is what Korea, Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missle crisis, and just about everything else that's bad that happens in the time span is all about, damn Russians, what is the Russian dream anyway, 4th in line and a slight drizzle? It basically ends with Reagan, who outspends the Russians, by starting and arms race that the Russians can't keep up with, he kills the Russian economy, leading to some very unhappy, and hungry, wall tearing down communists. Other fun facts, during this time, we militarily aid Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and every other country in the world we now wish didn't have such big guns, except North Korea, they were the Russians fault, although we've now cut off their supply of ipods and plasma tvs)

1954 – Ban on segregation in school – starts civil rights era (Strom Thurmon gets upset)

1963 – Kennedy Shot (evidently by aliens for all we know, investigation files sealed for 50 years, kind of implies someone was involved that shouldn't have been)

1965-1973 Vietnam (lots of songs and movies about it, perhaps you've heard of it, these are the dates of major conflict, it actually first started in 1950)

1973-1974 Watergate
(and Nixon looked like such a trustable guy, changes the way we look at politicians, at least until 2004 when we forget the lesson)

1991 – Gulf War (pulls US military into Persian gulf. They're still there, and probably will be for a while)

1995 – Oklahoma City Bombing
(first terrorist attack on US soil, number of lessons learned = 0)

1998 – Monica Lewinsky (politicians prove that they can be childish and just want more power, sends trend set by Watergate to a new level, leads to our current president, thanks Ken Starr, we really owe ya for that one, the nut kicking line will be long)

Something interesting:
from 1918 to 1990 we were stuck in international conflicts, then we started making our own.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

President McCarthy

Washington Post reports that a federal judge rules the administration's order to block funds for terrorist organizations is unconstitutional.

David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who is helping to represent the plaintiffs in the case, said the executive order and a related federal statute improperly allow President Bush to create "blacklists" and engage in "guilt by association."
And how about this as a frame of reference, to keep this all in perspective.

Monday, November 27, 2006

'Tis the Season

Nothing like blind patriotism and fear to keep people acting rationally and making sense:

(AP) DENVER, Colorado -- A homeowners' association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.
Bob Kearns, president of the Homeowner's Association took it upon himself to valiantly address complaints from "3 or 4 people" and the offense they've taken over a symbol of peace.
"Somebody could put up signs that say drop bombs on Iraq. If you let one go up you have to let them all go up," he said in a telephone interview Sunday.
Kearns ordered the Homeowner's Committee to require removal of the wreath. When the committee refused, he fired all 5 members.

Aggressive Oversight. Please!

It looks as if Walker, head of GAO, is eager to finally have the Democrats in congress. Perhaps it's just nice to have a congress that may actually care about accountability? From the Washington Post

For the first time, Walker has sent congressional leaders a letter pointing to areas where he thinks oversight is needed. His list, drawn from years of research by the watchdog agency, is intended to give Congress "a jump-start on your planning," he said.
Walker details many items in the letter, from oversight regarding contracts, restructuring the Postal System, and reviewing the structure and functionality of the Department of Homeland Security.
"We cannot afford to continue business as usual in Washington, given our current deficit and growing long-term fiscal challenges," Walker said in the letter, sent this month.
While not wanting to dwell in the past, it still makes a person want to ask what the hell the republican congress had been doing for 12 years. If anything...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Flashback

Take a step back to the 2004 election. Hindsight is 20/20, but foresight would've saved us a lot of trouble (and lives, and money, and our integrity, and our reputation, and our national pride, and...).

The Bush-Cheney campaign yesterday accused Sen. John Kerry of "raw political opportunism" and using the recent troubles in Iraq for his political gain, as the Democratic presidential candidate continued calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld from the campaign trail.

"It's striking to see the ease with which John Kerry thrusts an important moment for our country into the campaign's daily spin cycle," said Bush-Cheney campaign chairman Marc Racicot, referring to, among other events, Mr. Kerry's sending out an e-mail that both demanded Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation and solicited campaign cash.

"At a moment when America and Americans stand strong behind our troops on the battlefield, John Kerry is attacking President Bush and the military and seeking to divide along party lines," he said.
That bastard! How dare he politicize the War on Terror, or the War in Iraq, or whatever it is called these days. Wait, let's check Fox News... Oh, it's "Iraq's War" now, I see. Yes, how dare he politicize Iraq's War on Terror... Wait, that doesn't make sense. Anyway, this business of asking for Rumsfeld's resignation, that's just ludicrous. Right? Let's vote for the other guy.

The 2004 Washington Times article also has one of my favorite quotes, from Kennedy, the most misunderstood, yet interesting to watch member of the senate:
"Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management — U.S. management," Mr. Kennedy said Tuesday.
If Kerry and Kennedy were "un-American" for making these remarks, what does that make the rest of the nation for, with their uneducated vote, giving power to the people who made them right?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tracked in America

has 25 firsthand accounts of what it's like to be spied on by your government. The stories come from all kinds of people who were the subjects of secret surveillance for just being activists--opposing Japanese internment during World War II, speaking out against the Vietnam War, standing up for freedom during the McCarthy era. Six historians give a real sense of context for the history of surveillance.

Tracked in America puts today's government surveillance news in perspective.

I Threw Up in my Mouth a Little Bit

From RCFP.org

Recently released documents show how much information on peace-related groups the Department of Defense maintained in an anti-terrorist database. According to Eric Lichtblau and Mark Mazzetti in The New York Times, the head of the military office that maintained the database said that those operating it "misinterpreted their mandate and that what was intended as an antiterrorist database became, in some respects, a catch-all for leads on possible disruptions and threats against military installations in the United States, including protests against the military presence in Iraq."
Ah, the memories...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Information and Democracy

Information is a requisite of any healthy democracy.

Access to information allows voters to make informed decisions, and a voter will take responsibility for his or her own vote if that vote was made by informed decision. Additionally, adequate distribution of factual information aids in keeping those elected responsible for their actions, oaths of office, and promise made to the voters who gave them the job.

In today's political and social climates, few will argue that despite 24 hour cable news channels, internet access in most homes, and a still flourishing independent newspaper boom throughout the nation, information coming from and about what goes on in Washington, DC is tailored and distorted, at best.

But who is responsible for distributing accurate and relevant information from the capitol of our nation to the homes and workplaces of the American people?

Some argue that in a representative governmental system, it is the responsibility of our elected officials to not only speak for us in the channels of Washington, but also carry back to us the pulse of the capitol, and the facts of all matters of import to his or her constituents. Argument is also made that the President of the United States has a similar obligation to respond to our demands, represent us in foreign policy, and return to us a factual and interpretive view of what is going on in the world, and far off parts of our own nation. This ideology places a responsibility on elected parties to fulfill their promises during election, speak for the collective minds of a majority, and tell us the truth about issues, initiatives, and executive decisions, success or failure be damned. These people may remember or have studied closely the history of a time when FDR was able to rally an entire nation into WWII with a few simple speeches and fireside chats. From this group comes a cry of reform in Washington, and a return to the days when the men and women of the three branches kept in mind they are working for us.

The opposition to this point of view are those who see the days of FDR gone forever, lost in the swamps of Watergate, the dust of the Iran-Contra affair, Clinton boldly declaring false testimony on national TV, the passing of the buck as New Orleans drowned, the War in Iraq, and the secretive belligerence of the current Bush administration. These members of our democracy believe it is an aggressive and reasonably unrestricted media who must realize a responsibility to inform America. They find frustration in the members of todays media, who often seem bent on playing the news for ratings game, rather than news meant to inform and educate the public. The Bill O'Reilly's and Rush Limbaugh's of the media are good business for the networks and radio stations, so what matter if they are perpetuating cognitive dissonance and uneducated voting? People of this mind want the business taken out of the media, and journalistic creed, a responsibility to the public rather than the CEO's, returned to our newspapers and news channels.

Opinion polls show most Americans have little faith they can now, or will ever be able to again trust their elected officials, or their news media. Those who have tried independently to stay educated are turned off of Washington and the media by the obvious intentional spin and twisting of fact so easily found in the "news" as the partisan swell of corporate giants steadily consumes every outlet of journalistic merit. The candidates and sitting officals can't be trusted, because they need our money or our vote in the next election, the polls say. The media can't be trusted because they want to attract advertisers and business revenue more than they want to distribute information and stimulate a responsible, informed collective. And for those few who do believe that changes can still save our country from losing it's own conscience and legitimacy in a haze of spin and misinformation for personal gain, there is great confusion on where to begin. Washington or the media? Elected representatives, or the "journalists" of corporate America?

Where best to begin reform? How can we ensure information, accurate information is available to the public easily, and consistently? Does it start at the top, literally with the White House, and in the isles of Congress and the Senate, or does it start in the grassroots underground of your neighbors basement and your friends' blogs?

Well, I haven't figured that part out yet. So I'll have to get back to ya. Soon... For now, I'll leave you with a quote from renowned Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein:


"You can't serve the public good without the truth as a bottom line."


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Buy the ($23 Million) Ticket, Take the Ride.


Abramoff checks into a prison camp in Cumberland, MD today.

You can write him over the next five years and 10 months at:

FCI, Cumberland P.O. Box 1000 Cumberland, Md. 21501

Terror groups receive $2 Million for Fox News employees' Release.

Palestinian terror groups and security organizations in the Gaza Strip received $2 million from a United States source in exchange for the release of Fox News employees.


Read More...
Perhaps this story slipped their mind.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Joe's Waffle House


The Exalted Joe Lieberman honored us with his keen insight on the benefits of fence sitting and self-delusion today on Meet The Press.

LIEBERMAN: The fact is that this was not a major realignment election in my opinion... I believe that the American people are considering both major political parties to be in a kind of probation because their understandably angry that Washington is dominated too much by partisan political games and not enough by problem solving and patriotism.
Games rather than problem solving? Games like declaring yourself an Independent, and a still active candidate after voters effectively ask you to sit down and shut up? Games like pandering to both Democrats and the GOP to avoid getting eaten alive for your lack of resolve or vision?

And not enough patriotism? Tell us, Joe, what is patriotic about claiming support for our troops in Iraq on TV and radio spots, then voting against every attempt to change course that floats through the Senate?

And where have your problem solving and patriotic solutions been? What have you brought to Washington yourself? Oh yes... John Bolton.

Thank you Joe. Now, we ask you again, nicely, please sit down and shut up.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Another Take on "Enemy Combatants"

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam

Three Vietnamese-Americans, part of the California based "Government of Free Vietnam," a human rights group the communist government of Vietnam deems a "terrorist organization," were convicted on terrorism charges Friday for planning an anti-communism radio broadcast.

The prisoners faced charges ranging from 12 years in prison to a death sentence for smuggling radio equipment into the country, and intending to broadcast a radio program calling for revolution.

The Bush administration urged Hanoi to move swiftly with the trial, as the American Prisoners have been held for over a year without charges.

Apparently only we can get away with that.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Rummy's Greatest Hits

CNN's Jeanne Moos looks back on some of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's most memorable moments (November 8). Ahhh, the memories.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

More Dirty Tricks

RICHMOND, Virginia (CNN) -- The FBI is taking a preliminary look at allegations that some voters in eight Virginia counties received deceptive phone calls before Election Day, law enforcement sources said.
Read more...

Dirty Tricks

Laura Ingraham, in an attempt at humor, ran a loop of tape on her radio show of Bill Clinton saying "call 1-888 Dem Vote to report problems." She then urged her listeners to flood the hot-line with calls. Apparently Laura finds disenfranchised voters funny.

Let Laura know what you think of this disgusting prank, as many times as you would like:

Call her at: 1-800-876-4123
or EMAIL HER

Monday, November 6, 2006

Success in the war on terror?

Look at the TRAC Report it seems that we are doing a lot of accusing, and not a lot of convicting. Even Less putting away of the terrorists (enemy combatants?).

For the whole five-year period, the assistant U.S. Attorneys also declined to prosecute 748 of the international terrorist referrals -- or two out of three during this five year follow-up period.(...)


As a result of these various decisions, the government reports that 213 individuals were convicted (by trial or plea) and 123 -- less than one out of ten of the original referrals -- were sentenced to prison.(...)


Ninety received no prison sentence. (As noted above, the median or typical sentence for these 213 individuals -- half got more and half got less -- was 28 days.)


Now I'm not suggesting that the FBI isn't doing it's job, far from it. But it does seem like they are bringing a lot of charges against people for a relatively small number of large case convictions (sorry, I don't see the half that got less than 28 days as hardened terrorists).

Which brings me to the Military Commisions Act. Something to be watched with the passage of a law that effectivly eliminates habeas corpus for enemy combatants (leaving the defining of enemy combatants to those in charge) is whether that will change the numbers in this report. Will the FBI cut back on it's suggestions to prosicute to the justice department? Will the justice department decide to prosicute more of those suggestions? Will there be more convictions and bigger penalties to those convicted?

My opinion is perhaps pessimistic, but, given everything we've seen for the last six years, I'm inclined to think that it's realistic. In order to justify it's budget, and prove it's doing something in the war on terror, the FBI will maintain if not increase it's investigations, and hence, recommendations to prosecute. Now with the "Enemy Combatant" label applied, the rights of those being prosecuted disappear entirely. Given this, the justice department will be more likely to prosecute. This also suggests that there will be a higher number of convictions, and larger sentences (perhaps, that may be a bit of a stretch).

What this turns into is an instant boost in the fighting the war on terror. Not because they'll find more terrorists, or the ones they do find will be worse, or more important. But because they can lock away whoever they want. Have we finally sunk to this level? Must we now pad our own process to show that we're actually accomplishing something on this front? For now, it would appear so, all the more reason to VOTE TOMORROW!

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Blood for Oil

In a desperate attempt to hold onto at least the Senate, even the President is pulling out the "big guns" and in doing so recounting 3 and 1/2 years of the administration's propaganda. It is possible the President has decided it is time to tell the truth, in order to salvage the midterm election for republican's, but it is more likely the President still thinks we are dumb enough to fall for it.

(Washington Post) GREELEY, Colo., Nov. 4 -- During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, President Bush and his aides sternly dismissed suggestions that the war was all about oil. "Nonsense," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld declared. "This is not about that," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. Now, more than 3 1/2 years later, someone else is asserting that the war is about oil -- President Bush. As he barnstorms across the country campaigning for Republican candidates in Tuesday's elections, Bush has been citing oil as a reason to stay in Iraq. If the United States pulled its troops out prematurely and surrendered the country to insurgents, he warns audiences, it would effectively hand over Iraq's considerable petroleum reserves to terrorists who would use it as a weapon against other countries.
And to ad insult to injury, he spells it out for us, just in case we, the idiot masses who are about to vote, don't understand this grave threat before us.
"You can imagine a world in which these extremists and radicals got control of energy resources," he said at a rally here Saturday for Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.). "And then you can imagine them saying, 'We're going to pull a bunch of oil off the market to run your price of oil up unless you do the following. And the following would be along the lines of, well, 'Retreat and let us continue to expand our dark vision.' "

Bush said extremists controlling Iraq "would use energy as economic blackmail" and try to pressure the United States to abandon its alliance with Israel. At a stop in Missouri on Friday, he suggested that such radicals would be "able to pull millions of barrels of oil off the market, driving the price up to $300 or $400 a barrel."
Of course, there are dissenters who wish to undermine the President's noble campaign to flip-flop and distort what amounts to a national tragedy happening on a global scale into nothing more than political posturing (and how dare they!).
Some analysts, however, said that Bush is exaggerating the impact of Iraq's oil production on world markets. Iraq has more than 112 billion barrels of oil, the second-largest proven reserves in the world. But it currently pumps just 2.3 million barrels per day and exports 1.6 million of that, according to the State Department's tracking report on the country, still short of what it produced before the invasion.

That represents a fraction of the 85 million barrels produced around the world each day and less than the surplus capacity of Saudi Arabia and other Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, meaning in a crisis they could ramp up their wells to make up for the shortfall, analysts said. The United States also has 688 million barrels of oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, enough to counter a disruption of Iraqi oil for 14 months.

Even if Iraq did not sell oil to the United States, it would not matter as long as it sold it to someone because the international market is fungible and what counts is the overall supply and overall demand, according to analysts. If Iraq cut off exports altogether, it still would not have the dire effect on the world market that Bush predicts, they said. The price of oil began rising dramatically in 2002 as the confrontation with Iraq loomed, but many factors contributed, including increasing demand by China and problems in Nigeria, Venezuela and elsewhere.

The world, in fact, has already seen what would happen if Iraqi oil were cut off entirely, as Bush suggests radicals might do. Iraq effectively stopped pumping oil altogether in the months immediately after the invasion. And yet the price of oil has never topped $80, much less come anywhere near the $300 or $400 a barrel Bush cited as a possible consequence of a radical Iraqi regime withholding the country's oil.
Thank you Mr. President. Now everyone who has lost someone in this abhorrent war you have created can settle back confidently in the knowledge that they have no earthly idea why. And the American public can rest assured that you will keep us in this war to save face and win mid-term elections.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

New York Times

“It’s the worst political environment for Republican candidates since Watergate.”

Rice Goes on Talk Radio Media Blitz, State Dept. says it's "coincidental"

With apparently nothing more urgent to do, the Secretary of State decides to campaign for the republican party:

(Washington Post) Two weeks before crucial midterm elections that could tip the balance of power in Congress, Rice has been on a media blitz that appears aimed mainly at conservative media outlets, particularly radio talk shows. Secretary of state is traditionally a nonpartisan position, and Rice's media itinerary differs sharply from the practice of her predecessors during election campaigns, according to State Department records.
In the past two days alone, according to Associated Press, Rice has appeared on four radio shows, with a total of 12 appearances since October 24th.
Rice also appeared in the past week on CNBC's "Kudlow and Company," hosted by conservative economic commentator Lawrence Kudlow, and "Morning in America," a radio show hosted by prominent Republican William Bennett. Generally, the questions on even the conservative shows were devoted to foreign policy, allowing Rice to present a strong defense of the "really visionary" Bush and his policies, such as his "very skillful diplomacy" on the North Korean nuclear crisis. Kudlow quizzed her about whether she supported Bush's formulation that terrorists will win if Democrats take control of Congress, which Rice ducked.

I'm just out doing what I always do, just trying to explain American policy," Rice said. "I've always thought that it's an important part of the role of the secretary of state." State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the confluence of media spots with the election was coincidental.

"The tradition for secretaries of state has been to stay out of partisan politics and to stay above the fray," said Karl F. Inderfurth, director of the international affairs graduate program at George Washington University and assistant secretary of state under Albright. "They take office as the secretary of state of the United States of America, not of the Republican or Democratic party."

As national security adviser during Bush's first term, Rice drew fire for giving speeches around the country in crucial battleground states shortly before the 2004 election, a practice none of her predecessors had done. Colin L. Powell and Madeleine K. Albright, Rice's immediate predecessors, made only infrequent appearances in the media in the two weeks before elections.



Thursday, November 2, 2006

Exactly What has Lieberman Been Doing?

For a man who claims to "take a personal interest in this war, and how it effects my fellow Americans", Lieberman seems fairly absent from war-time decision making and fairly pre-occupied with war-time money making:

Lieberman has missed many critical votes on Iraq, and continues to refuse to call for accountability by strongly supporting Bush’s failed policies which enrich defense contractors while not protecting our troops and making our country less safe from terrorism. He skipped one very close vote on legislation that would have stopped the President from moving funds meant for the Iraq War to other purposes without the approval of Congress. He even skipped a vote on legislation that would have asserted congressional oversight of war funds in the wake of massive corruption with the Administration’s no-bid contracts.

So what has Lieberman been up to in this time he describes himself as "a critical time for America"? Take a look:

Lieberman actually tried to claim back in July that Ned Lamont was “profiting from the war he claims to oppose” by holding some the defense industry stocks. It was yet another classic case of projection from a man who has based his entire campaign around it. According to the latest numbers available at the campaign finance tracking website Opensecrets.org, Lieberman remains the top recipient of Defense Industry funds of any Senator this cycle, having received $170,000 from that sector.

In the last year and a half alone, he has received more than $72,000 in corporate PAC contributions from the energy industry – that’s almost $1,000 in energy PAC contributions per week since 2005. Since 2000, he’s raked in more than $285,000 from the energy industry. This includes PAC contributions from, among others, Texaco, Conoco, British Petroleum and Occidental Petroleum. It also includes contributions from the natural gas industry that will benefit from Lieberman’s support of stripping Connecticut’s ability to regulate the construction of natural gas terminals in Long Island Sound. Specifically, Lieberman has received contributions from the American Gas Assocation, Consolidated Natural Gas and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. Meanwhile, Enron lobbyist Michael Lewan (also formerly Lieberman’s chief of staff and a top fundraiser for John Rowland) continues to hold K Street fundraisers for Lieberman in Washington, D.C. (Opensecrets.org)

Who are his friends?

Mel Sembler:

You’ve probably heard about Mel. He’s the former finance director of the RNC, and currently the Chairman of Scooter Libby’s Defense Fund. (He also happens to be the founder of a juvenile rehabilitation center called “STRAGHT, Inc.” which has been the center of many disturbing claims of horrific torture and abuse of children).

Sembler hosted a big-money fundraiser for Joe on September 30th in St. Petersberg, FL. Guests contributed a minimum of $1,000, up to a maximum of $2,100, to the Lieberman campaign. About 100 guests attended. Which means Lieberman likely took in anywhere from $100,000-$200,000 from this one event with Sembler alone.

Tom Kuhn:

Tom Kuhn was George Bush’s roommate in college, and they have remained “close friends” ever since. He’s also a big-time energy industry lobbyist who has used his friendship with Bush to push hard for deregulation and stymie EPA efforts to cut pollution in national parks. He was a member of the Bush-Cheney 2000 transition team for the Energy Department. And way back in 1999, he wrote a letter to other big energy lobbyists making sure they would write their industry on their contributions so that they would be paid back in kind by the Administration.

Robert Novak reported Kuhn hosted a big-money D.C. fundraiser for Lieberman on Thursday, September 28th:

The luncheon’s sponsors pressed fellow Republican lobbyists to pay a minimum of $1,000 a ticket. Lieberman has announced he will stay in the Democratic caucus if re-elected.

Lieberman spokeswoman Tammy Sun told the Journal Inquirer that the September 28th big-energy fundraiser netted the Lieberman campaign a grand total of $400,000.

Rick Shelby:

Another host of that September 28th fundraiser was “longtime Republican operative” and executive vice president of the American Gas Association, Rick Shelby. Rick who?

Rick Shelby is another energy industry friend of Bush-Cheney who won $1 billion in tax breaks for natural gas companies in the 2005 Bush-Cheney Energy Bill… that Lieberman voted for. He also co-hosted a huge fundraiser for Tom DeLay in 2005.

Just a little glimpse at the world of Joe Lieberman, an upstanding member of the Bush-Cheyney "Borderline Ethical Conduct" Fraternity.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Mean Jean creates jobs, and three eyed fish

I think she should have kept padding her resume. It seems when she actually gets down to doing her job, she has some bad ideas.

The Enquirer - Schmidt considers nuke waste

Schmidt has signed on to an effort by the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI) and a Cleveland-based company called SONIC to seek a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant of up to $5 million for a study of whether the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion plant should be a site for temporary storage and recycling of spent nuclear fuel rods. (...)

"All I can tell you is that when it became known that she supports this, every Jean Schmidt yard sign in the county went down overnight," said Geoffrey Sea, a writer whose home abuts the Piketon plant.

Now I'm all for creating jobs, but I doubt this is the best way to go about it. It's good to see that local Schmidt supporters are taking their signs down, hopefully this is the straw that breaks her political career.

In a related note, what's Paul Hackett doing these days, probably not supporting nuclear waste dumps in Ohio. I'm just sayin.

White House reporter's credentials questioned (Whatever became of this story?)

This is an old story, but I was reminded recently that it also never got the attention (or resolution) it warranted. When I first read this I thought an ongoing dialog, if nothing else, would erupt. Instead, the story was buried on the back pages and quickly died.

White House reporter's credentials questioned
Man worked for Web site owned by Republican activist

Thursday, February 10, 2005

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A New York congresswoman asked the White House to explain Wednesday why a man who worked for a news Web site owned by a GOP activist was able to obtain White House press credentials under an assumed name.

James Guckert, who reported from the White House for the Talon News Service under the name "Jeff Gannon," announced he was quitting the business "in consideration of the welfare of me and my family."

"Because of the attention being paid to me, I find it is no longer possible to effectively be a reporter for Talon News," he said in a statement posted Wednesday on his Web site.

In a letter to President Bush, Rep. Louise Slaughter, a Democrat, questioned why Guckert routinely received credentials for White House news briefings.

Slaughter linked Guckert's case to recent revelations that two conservative columnists who supported Bush administration policies had received government money.

"It appears that 'Mr. Gannon's' presence in the White House press corps was merely as a tool of propaganda for your administration," Slaughter wrote.

The White House had no comment.

The House and Senate press galleries declined Guckert's request for credentials in 2003.

Julie Davis, chairwoman of the Senate press gallery's executive committee, said Guckert could not demonstrate any separation between Talon News and GOPUSA, a Republican consulting group.

Both organizations are run by Bobby Eberle, a Texas GOP activist. Many Talon News articles also appeared as news releases on the GOPUSA Web site, said Davis, a reporter for The Sun newspaper of Baltimore, Maryland.

In a statement on the Talon Web site, Eberle referred to "Gannon's" resignation and said, "I understand and support Jeff's decision."

Slaughter said she was writing at the request of senior editors of the Niagara Falls Reporter in her Buffalo-area district.

The newspaper ran an open letter questioning "how a partisan political organization and an individual with no credentials as a reporter -- and apparently operating under an assumed name -- landed a coveted spot in the White House press corps."

During White House press secretary Scott McClellan's regular briefings, Guckert routinely offered administration-friendly questions.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Utah Democrats Accuse Republicans of Running Dirty Campaigns

October 27th, 2006

(KSL News) -- Utah Democratic Candidates today accused Republicans of bringing in big money from out of state in order to run campaigns distorting voting records in legislative races.

The candidates say parties from outside the state have given large amounts of money to Republican candidates in hopes of pushing their agendas after the election.

Wayne Holland, Utah State Democratic Party Chair: "Trying to spend Utah taxpayer dollars to privatize Utah's education system. It's a dirty, sleazy campaign they are running against many of the finest individuals in the state."

Jeff Hartley of the Utah Republican Party said the Democrats are upset because they "don't want to be held accountable for their voting records" but that the "voters have a right to know."

Kansas City Star | 10/27/2006 | What’s on Greenspan’s mind? Just ask

Kansas City Star | 10/27/2006 | What’s on Greenspan’s mind? Just ask:

On homeland security — including that at airports — Greenspan said: “Well, I’m not one who is overly impressed with a lot of the things that we are doing.” He went on to say, “It is not clear to me whether any of that stuff works,” a remark that provoked laughter from the audience. “In fact, I’m reasonably sure it doesn’t.” (...)

“If you get beyond the political rhetoric” and assembled a group to solve Social Security, “it would take them 15 minutes. It would take them 15 minutes only because 10 minutes was used for pleasantries.”

Thursday, October 26, 2006

O-Fence-ive

President George W Bush has signed into law a plan for 700 miles of new fencing along the US-Mexico border.

Does your heart not swell with national pride? Wait, there's more. He named it. He calls it the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

Blushing yet? Wait wait, before you burst into an emotional rendition of our national anthem, there's even more. He defended it. With words. "Ours is a nation of immigrants - we're also a nation of law. We're modernizing our southern border," he said. Out loud. In public.

What a proud day to be an American this is! Our first fence! Hoo Boy!

But alas, there are nay-sayers, raining on Bush's parade (or pissing on his fence, if you will).

TJ Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, assures us, "A fence will slow people down only by a minute or two."

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy in Mexico City says the fence has united Mexican politicians in opposition and outrage.

And across the political divide, politicians have come together to condemn what they see as an unnecessary and offensive barrier. They accuse the United States of hypocrisy for enjoying the benefits of cheap Mexican labour but not being prepared to offer Mexican people a chance to cross the border legally.

Part of the funding for the fence is likely to come from the $1.2 Billion set aside for it in a recent Homeland Security Bill, but the full cost may be greater and the source of the funding is still unclear.

Just about brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?

Ohio GOP Smears Al Franken

A little something from Think Progress that I thought was humorous, as well as fitting in light of recent comments posted:

Yesterday, the Ohio Republican Party sent out a news release attacking Rep. Sherrod Brown (D) for enlisting the support of comedian Al Franken:


It is not surprising that Sherrod Brown is enlisting the help of a Hollywood liberal, who like him, is so far out of the mainstream of Ohio values. What is troubling is that Brown would solicit support from someone [Franken] who compared conservatives to Nazis “who should drink poison and die.”


The quote used in the news release is taken from Bernard Goldberg book, 110 People Who Are Screwing Up America, in an alleged interview between Goldberg and Franken.But in his book, Goldberg makes it clear that the exchange is completely fictional. The Ohio Republican Party represented it as fact.

The news release was accompanied by this photograph, showing Franken dressed up like a baby bunny, wearing adult diapers and clutching a fluffy white teddy bear.

Andy Barr, director of Franken’s Midwest Values PAC, confirmed, “The picture is a fake.” The Ohio Republican Party used a 2004 AP photo of Franken for the doctored image.

'NYT' Hails Stephen King -- As He Boosts MoveOn.org

October 23, 2006

NEW YORK Sometimes -- okay, nearly always -- timing is everything. So it seemed for the liberal political action group MoveOn.org today. Just hours after his latest book got a rare rave in The New York Times, horror novelist Stephen King emailed a big election year pitch for MoveOn.

You'd almost think it was a liberal conspiracy.

"If I know anything, I know scary," King emailed. "And giving this president and this out-of-control Congress two more years to screw up our future is downright terrifying. Thankfully, this national nightmare is one we can end with—literally—a wake up call.

"My friends at MoveOn.org Political Action are organizing pre-Halloween phone parties this weekend, Oct. 28th & 29th....And since it's almost Halloween, we'll celebrate with an optional costume contest, some pumpkin carving (I'll be making a Jack-Abramoff-O'-Lantern) and—of course—plenty of candy."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Barney Frank

A New Direction For America

Monday, October 23, 2006

'Have you no sense of decency, Sir?'

Keith Olbermann comments on Bush's Rose Garden press conference

It is to our deep national shame—and ultimately it will be to the President’s deep personal regret—that he has followed his Secretary of Defense down the path of trying to tie those loyal Americans who disagree with his policies—or even question their effectiveness or execution—to the Nazis of the past, and the al Qaeda of the present.

Today, in the same subtle terms in which Mr. Bush and his colleagues muddied the clear line separating Iraq and 9/11 -- without ever actually saying so—the President quoted a purported Osama Bin Laden letter that spoke of launching, “a media campaign to create a wedge between the American people and their government.”

Make no mistake here—the intent of that is to get us to confuse the psychotic scheming of an international terrorist, with that familiar bogeyman of the right, the “media.”

The President and the Vice President and others have often attacked freedom of speech, and freedom of dissent, and freedom of the press.

Now, Mr. Bush has signaled that his unparalleled and unprincipled attack on reporting has a new and venomous side angle:

The attempt to link, by the simple expediency of one word—“media”—the honest, patriotic, and indeed vital questions and questioning from American reporters, with the evil of Al-Qaeda propaganda.

That linkage is more than just indefensible. It is un-American.

Mr. Bush and his colleagues have led us before to such waters.

We will not drink again.

And the President’s re-writing and sanitizing of history, so it fits the expediencies of domestic politics, is just as false, and just as scurrilous.

“In the 1920’s a failed Austrian painter published a book in which he explained his intention to build an Aryan super-state in Germany and take revenge on Europe and eradicate the Jews,” President Bush said today, “the world ignored Hitler’s words, and paid a terrible price.”

Whatever the true nature of al Qaeda and other international terrorist threats, to ceaselessly compare them to the Nazi State of Germany serves only to embolden them.

More over, Mr. Bush, you are accomplishing in part what Osama Bin Laden and others seek—a fearful American populace, easily manipulated, and willing to throw away any measure of restraint, any loyalty to our own ideals and freedoms, for the comforting illusion of safety.

It thus becomes necessary to remind the President that his administration’s recent Nazi “kick” is an awful and cynical thing.

And it becomes necessary to reach back into our history, for yet another quote, from yet another time and to ask it of Mr. Bush:

“Have you no sense of decency, sir?”
© 2006 MSNBC Interactive

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What's your political platform?

Want to know where you stand - Take the quiz

Reinventing Democrats

If Democrats want to win in 2006 and 2008, they should stop fetishizing the 1994 Republican takeover. It resulted from a once-in-a-lifetime convergence of institutional changes, historical trends, and some blind luck. With the ground less fertile in 2006, a new Contract with America containing simple, poll-tested nostrums won't be enough (and, in fact, most studies show that the 1994 Contract contributed little to the GOP win). What's needed is a coherent agenda, built around deeply held principles, that speaks to the challenges Americans face today: Islamo-fascist terrorism, a global and interdependent economy, underperforming schools, an inefficient and increasingly ineffective health care system, and a looming fiscal crisis. Put answers to these problems in a contract, and voters will readily sign.

Kenneth Baer , former Senior Speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore and author of Reinventing Democrats: The Politics of Liberalism from Reagan to Clinton, runs Baer Communications, a Democratic consulting firm.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A 6 year turnaround on National Debt technical problems

Debt Clock Can't Keep Up

In 2000 it was turned off because it couldn't go backwards. Now that's been fixed (although it's not likely to be used for quite some time), but another problem has come up. It doesn't have enough digits to count the debt for much more than two more years. Passing the 10 trillion mark could render the clock ineffective, as there isn't a 14th digit on the clock. But what's more alarming to me is the shift in the figure the clock is tracking over the past 6 years. From 5.7 trillion and having to be stopped because it can't count backwards to surpassing 10 trillion in about 8 years says about 14 digits worth for this administrations fiscal policies.

Lets just start making up stories . . .

by Glenn Greenwald: What the FISA judges really said

A miss by the NYT, sometimes it makes you wonder why they don't just make up the story entirely. A totally fabricated story could be much more epic and conveying of their point. . .

Monday, January 23, 2006

Where Is Our Voice Of Reason?

Clinton was disgraced for getting his joint copped in the oval office and then lying about it.

Now Bush is going to be given a pass for filling our nations leadership with his incompetent college buddies, and crimes against the nation and humanity?

Something is wrong with this country if that happens. If we are going to step up and remove someone from power, it should happen when a man in power over steps his bounds, breaks his promises, abuses his position, makes poor decisions, fails us in times of need, doesn't head the past, ignores the voices and needs of the American People, and violates the trust the voters erringly placed in him by bleeding our country dry.

Not because a man can't keep his dick in his pants.

I am watching the news waiting for it. Waiting to just hear the word. Even a hint of the word. Instead I get another opportunity to hear The President speaking with Kansas State students, justifying his war, defending his "leadership" and joking about his dating experience in college. There is nothing funny about this man. A woman stands up and thanks the President for "following his heart and not listening to his critics." He responds to this at length. Minutes later he clumsily dodges a question about illegal wire-tapping, and the media present allow it, rather than have the opportunity for questions cut short. Why are we letting this man and this administration get away with it? They have a DUTY to answer our questions. They have an obligation to LISTEN to us.

Why are the only cries for justice and immediate change coming from blogs and buried websites? With all the "editorial" opportunities created by telivision media, why are we not hearing at least one person, a person with an audience, a voice that could represent a large portion of the country in saying "We want this man out of the White House!"

Instead, they, even those who want the same thing, are keeping silent. We are being distracted by news of Oscar Nights, and Brad Pitt's new baby, while our country coughs and chokes like a Datsun B210 with no oil.

It is not an issue of who will be next, it is not important how long it will take, or how little time he has left already. What matters is that this man, wearing the hat of the leader of our nation, has been given the opportunity to fulfill his role, and he has failed. How many times do we need to see it or hear it or LIVE it?

IMPEACHMENT! There, I said it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Fighting Censorship

http://censorware.net/about.shtml

The Censorware Project was formed by a group of writers and internet activists in late 1997. Our goal is to bring to light information about censorware products which is, by its nature, hidden.

What is censorware? The definition is very simple:

software which is designed to prevent another person from sending or receiving information (usually on the web).

There are some important points here which warrant further explanation.

First, censorware is designed for one person to use on "another person." You may well have email software that is set up to prevent you from seeing incoming mail from people you find obnoxious. This is not censorware, however, since you control whether it operates or not.

One good test for whether software is censorware is to ask: do you need a password to turn it off? If it is designed to be turned on and off only by people in authority (who may or may not be you), it's censorware.

Censorware typically works by blocking you from receiving information -- or by preventing you from seeing it once it's received, which has the same effect. But it's also censorware that blocks data flow the other way, typically by X'ing out parts of your email, or preventing you from posting to a discussion website (like this one!).

And finally, when we think of censorware, we typically think of the world-wide web. That's not always the case, though. Email and IRC are also, often, blocked. Usenet newsgroups are often blocked. Ten years from now, whatever other technology exists to trade data will probably have its corresponding blocking software, and that we'll call censorware too.

We at the Censorware Project believe that this type of software is the greatest single threat to free speech as we know it on the internet over the next decade. We are committed to exposing the flaws of this misunderstood software and working to encourage alternatives to censorship.

MSN Spaces and its Silly Word-Blocking

posted by Jamie McCarthy on Friday December 03, @08:56AM
from the space-between-the-ears dept.
[ Blocked! ]
BoingBoing has a story today on how Microsoft's new blogging tool, MSN Spaces, does word-based blocking of your blog entries. Sad and funny. I saw two stories in the blogosphere today on MSN Spaces -- one a video demo of how to post to it, which I yawned past, and this censorship story, which I'm, well, blogging myself.

Pentagon Admits Censoring Casualty Sites

posted by Jamie McCarthy on Friday September 17, @12:40PM
from the memoryhole dept.
As reported by Eric Umansky:

Two Army spokespeople have now explained to me that it is indeed the Army’s intention to purposely block service-members from viewing non-Pentagon casualty sites. (Other services apparently have similar policies and do use filtering software.)