Sunday, September 30, 2007

A "Phony Soldier" Responds to Limbaugh

It's kind of old hat to make great effort decrying the wrongness of the Great Fat Lord of Bullshit and his radio comments, especially after Al Franken took the prize for doing so with hilarity. It amazes me more that anyone still takes him seriously enough to tune in.

Still, Rush's latest verbal lack of common sense, in light of our "leadership's" condemnation of, seems to strike a cord with a frustrated populace, including those in the military.

Here, a "Phony Soldier" give the Gas Bag a nice backhand, with style:

This [Photo] is Chevy in Baghdad. Brian Chevalier was going to reenlist but decided against it before he was killed on March 14 during our first mission in Baqubah. His phony life was celebrated in a phony memorial where everyone who knew him cried phony tears. A phony American flag draped over his phony coffin when his body came home. It was presented to his phony mother and phony daughter.

I would be in awe if I ever met a real life soldier, and not a phony one like Bill, Matt or Brian Chevalier. Thank you, Rush Limbaugh, for telling me the difference. I hope your ass is ok.

Net Neutrality, Demystified

It always amazes me that so many who use the internet regularly in their daily lives are either unsure of, or have never even thought about where they stand on the issue of Net Neutrality. Regardless of your politics, it should be a no brainer. Yet often I still hear the "what about poor Verizon and AT&T?" arguments from those who should know better (i.e. poorly informed bloggers).

Here are two videos that simplify the issue, and the importance of a free internet.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Volunteer at MyDD

MyDD recently began a diary rescue campaign on the blog, much like those of DailyKos and TalkLeft. The only trouble is that right now there is only one volunteer reading diaries to find those in need of rescue to the front page; Me.

Since the departure of Matt Stoller and Chris Bowers, MyDD has been experimenting with different ideas to enhance the blog, including "candidate diaries" and now a bi-weekly diary rescue hitting the front page every Wednesday and Saturday morning. Rescuing diaries may be a great way to restore a sense of community and set the "dialog bar" higher at one of the netroots oldest, most respected political blogs.

If you are interested in volunteering, click here for info on this and other MyDD projects, or email myddrescue [at] gmail [dot] com.

[craig41 - Update]

With the diary rescue at MyDD in it's early stages, there's still a good chance of getting a diary rescued. So if you have something you want to get to national audience head over to MyDD and put it in a diary.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

NPR Snubs Bush Interview Offer

The president offered NPR the chance to host his first interview on the topic of race to honor yesterdays 50th anniversary of school desegregation. One condition though; only if Juan Williams hosted the interview.

NPR declined.

Williams said yesterday he was “stunned” by NPR’s decision. “It makes no sense to me. President Bush has never given an interview in which he focused on race… . I was stunned by the decision to turn their backs on him and to turn their backs on me.”

Ellen Weiss, NPR’s vice president for news, said she “felt strongly” that “the White House shouldn’t be selecting the person.” She said NPR told Bush’s press secretary, Dana Perino, that “we’re grateful for the opportunity to talk to the president but we wanted to determine who did the interview.” When the White House said the offer could not be transferred to one of NPR’s program hosts, Weiss took a pass. [...]

Williams, who is sometimes criticized by liberal groups, dismissed the notion that he was picked as a sympathetic interviewer, saying he often challenges the administration on “Fox News Sunday.”
So Juan Williams, in perpetual capitulation to Fox News, finds himself left with nothing more than Fox News. And he's "stunned." Turns out being a media hack and O'Reilly's BFF doesn't have the perks you thought it did.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Right-Wing Foreign Policy: Self Fulfilling Prophecies

They want more war. Ezra:

...we're letting Ahmadinejad win this game. America's dodging his invitations to talk, growing hysterical over his requests to lay a wreath at Ground Zero, and interviewing him in a way that makes our press look like White House puppets. This makes us look bad, not him.

It's not often mentioned, but the rest of the world does not evaluate all international interactions from a starting premise that America is right and its motivations pure. We actually have to convince them of that, particularly in the post-Iraq era. And we're failing. We're abetting Ahmadinejad's attempts to project a hugely disingenuous version of himself through our megaphone. Without us, he's in trouble: He's domestically unpopular, and fundamentally without a platform. With our opposition and apparent hatred for Tehran, he's Iran's champion against America, and he's outwitting us in the court of world opinion.
(Even More) Ezra:
There's a very substantial case to be made that we are the only force propping Ahmadinejad up. There is an almost ironclad case to be made that our overt hostility to Iran is leading to retrenchment among their political elite, crackdowns on moderates, and problems for reformers. There is very little of a case to be made that our actions towards Iran are in any way weakening Ahmadinejad, save insofar as our sanctions are making the Iranians miserable enough to hate everybody, us included. This is a very stupid way to make policy.
And one from someone who's not Ezra:
Apparently what's really important is whether Ahmadinejad admires George Bush and whether the word "fuck" appears in a college newspaper.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Realignment: Diminishing Progress of the "Free Market"

Paul Rosenberg has been active in a multi-part dissection of a political realignment that goes beyond specific elections and immediate concerns. In part three, he turns his keen eye to the myth of the "free market" and what it has not done for us:

The fact that the [Free Market] ideology fails on its own terms, that it produces much slower rates of economic growth, is thus not just important for rejecting specific policies, but also for rejecting the ideology itself as a fraud and deception. If it were really about producing prosperity, then it would have been abandoned when it was clear that it didn't. The fact that it continues despite its failure is proof that it's purpose really is simply to rationalize the results that it actually produces-extremes of wealth and poverty. Thus, it is the perfect vehicle to continue the traditional rule of an aristocratic elite in the formal structures of modern democracy.
Using various sources, from the Center for Economic Policy Research to Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine," as well as traditional economic indicators often used to support the free market strategy (infant/child mortality, spending on public schools, enrollment in secondary eduction in groups of 1960 to 1980, and 1980 to 2005), Rosenberg presents a convincing argument that not only has the ideology failed, but that we are not out of the woods on the challenges holding back the "realignment" necessary to turn things around.
But what about America, you say?

Funny you should ask. For that, I commend you to the inagural post of Paul Krugman's new blog, which starts off with this brief passage from his new book, The Conscience of a Liberal:
"I was born in 1953. Like the rest of my generation, I took the America I grew up in for granted - in fact, like many in my generation I railed against the very real injustices of our society, marched against the bombing of Cambodia, went door to door for liberal candidates. It's only in retrospect that the political and economic environment of my youth stands revealed as a paradise lost, an exceptional episode in our nation's history."
This is what realignment politics is all about--recapturing paradise lost.
Definitely recommended reading.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Voucher Education

I generally find the typical online voucher debates tedious and vapid. To get to the meat of the subject, in order to form an educated opinion, a person really must dig into the numbers themselves, and ignore the megaphones and pulpit pounding. Too often (especially here in Utah) this voucher-speak becomes emotional quickly, at which point, I tune out and read a book. On the voucher debate, most people are lacking sound information, victims of propaganda and doctored numbers to support or oppose the legislation.

Recently though, a conversation (multiple posts, and ensuing comments) has erupted through Frank Staheli of Utah's Simple Utah Mormon Politics. The ongoing debate on Frank's blog is something everyone should read and/or participate in.

You may not agree (or disagree), but it is a rational, educational, adult conversation taking place, something we've seen very little of on the issue of vouchers.

Sy Hersh: Shocking How Easily It Slips

Seymour Hersh sits down with Adbusters.

DC: Your recent article on the stifling of General Taguba’s inquiry into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal [in which Donald Rumsfeld was accused of misleading Congress] was pretty shocking. What was the most surprising revelation for you?

SH: I’ve given up being surprised by these guys. I would guess the bald affrontery of the contempt for Congress. We already know about their contempt for the press. Just going to Congress and misrepresenting what they know. And we all know they do it.

DC: Why do you think the Bush administration keeps getting away with this kind of behavior?

SH: That’s a question you really have to direct at the Congress and at the mainstream press. Maybe we’re just inured. There’s just so much of this. When you have such a lack of, you know, the word that’s never mentioned anymore is morality, and across the board you basically have people that are diminishing values, diminishing the constitution. To me it shows just how fragile the whole society is. These guys come in and we’ve had a collapse of the military, collapse of Congress, collapse of the press, collapse of the federal government. It’s pretty shocking how easily it slips.
Read the full interview here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bush's Roundtable

Some things are so funny they even make reporters laugh.

Not enough sycophants and enablers in the West Wing? Bush called in reinforcements yesterday, inviting a slew of conservative columnists to the Roosevelt Room for a 90-minute group grope in which he tried out a lot of the sound bytes he ended up using at today's press conference.

(Readers of my Monday column about Bush's similar meeting with supportive bloggers will also find much of what he said today familiar.)

Among the participants yesterday afternoon: Michael Barone (U.S. News), Tony Blankley (Washington Times), David Brooks (New York Times), Ron Kessler (NewsMax), Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post), Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard), Larry Kudlow (CNBC), Morton Kondracke (Roll Call), Kimberly Strassel (Wall Street Journal), Kathryn Lopez and Kate O'Beirne (National Review).

When press secretary Dana Perino announced the roundtable at the morning gaggle yesterday, some reporters laughed out loud.

Later, one reporter asked: "Regarding the columnist roundtable, was there any logical standard used in issuing the invitations?"

That got even more laughs.

Perino replied: "We regularly meet with conservative columnists. The president is proud to do so. We meet with many other journalists, as well."

At least they know who to call when they need something spun. Everything didn't go perfectly though.
Kondracke's description of Bush's thoughts about children's health insurance got his piece touted in the White House press office's morning e-mail to the press corps -- but someone got the URL more than a little wrong. Anyone who clicked on the White-House provided link instead got an ESPN story on the Yankees victory over the Orioles last night.

But hey, when you're trying to justify vetoing a children's health coverage bill 'facts' are only going to get in the way, so why not link them to something totally unrelated, look birds!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Public Wi-Fi: Pieces That Don't Fit

In my inbox today was the latest FreePress Media Reform Daily, and without parsing the details (for now) I found these three consecutive headlines very tellin:

Community Internet

Wi-Fi to the Rescue for the iPhone in U.K. and Germany

As Steve Jobs continued his European barnstorming tour in Berlin, introducing the iPhone to applauding audiences, it is becoming apparent just how important Wi-Fi is for the success of the phone.
W. David Gardner, Informatioan Week
San Fran Wireless Plan Is Officially Dead
A sweeping plan to blanket San Francisco with a high-speed Internet network is officially dead. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has refused to vote on a deal that Mayor Gavin Newsom negotiated with EarthLink and Google.
Michael Martinez, National Journal
EarthLink Ends Wi-Fi Network Deal in Pasadena
Pasadena's agreement with EarthLink to set up a Wi-Fi network is no longer a viable plan, and city officials are assessing what the next move will be.
Audrey Reed, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Not that the iPhone is indicative of our future "needs" per our future "luxuries" (although some may argue that point, huh?), but the demands of technology and further incorporation of "connectivity" in our daily lives necessitate, even today, a question that remains unanswered by localized attempts to organize public connectivity, while the at the federal level decision makers are sitting in the corner, covering their ears, going "la la la la la la."

There are many success stories (UTOPIA comes to mind) but there are far more examples of how bad planning, lacking investment, and short-sighted goals are holding back genuine efforts to capitalize (literally) on this relatively untapped market/resource that is public wireless. If a community in Utah can come together to rally support for their own high speed access network, why can't Pasadena? Is it a matter of population and size, public interest in the endeavor, or lack of community involvement in the planning phases that lead to failure? Is it businesses jumping the gun on returns on their investments? Is it moderate federal and state support? Do most people simply not care yet?

Realistically, it is a combination of all of these things and more, but one simple notion may be the root of success and failure when it comes to public access; we, the public, must remain increasingly involved.

The President's Veto

The Preznit has his veto stamp good 'n inked up, but who is he protecting? CAP:

The expanded SCHIP program would be financed almost entirely by a marginal increase in taxes on tobacco products. Bush has expressed his opposition to the bill largely on ideological terms, apparently finding an increase on tobacco products to be at greater odds with his ideology than four million uninsured American children. Reports have shown, however, that "higher state taxes on smokers have produced sharp declines in consumption. The amount of decline in smoking is directly tied to the size of the tax increase." Even Bush's own "Cancer Panel" recommended that Bush no longer "acquiesce to the demands of the industries that encourage" the "disease and death caused by tobacco use." According to the American Medical Association, "for each 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes, youth smoking is reduced by 7 percent, and overall consumption by 4 percent." Furthermore, the public overwhelmingly supports raising tobacco taxes, by a margin of 67 percent to 28 percent.

In addition to the veto threats, Bush is running interference on the state level as well, blocking the states from determining their own eligibility in the SCHIP guidelines, and offering to sign legislation only if his request for "5 Billion for 5 More Years" is met.

Ladies and Gentleman, your President; the third grader.

Burnished Reputations

James Fallows asked his readers for input on those working in the Bush administration who's reputations haven't been tarnished. The political futures of Bremer, Rumsfeld, Gonzales (and many, many, many more) are in the tubes, but have any careers been bolstered in service to Bush?

Several people have written me with suggestions, almost all of them people who look better than those around them because they said, Watch out, things are going to hell! Richard Clarke; Lawrence Lindsey; Eric Shinseki; the Abu Ghraib investigator Antonio Taguba, etc. A less obvious but worthy suggestion would be Conrad Crane and Andrew Terrill, principal authors of the Army War College's prescient, and of course overlooked, pre-war handbook on how to run a successful occupation. (The study's history recounted here; subscribers only.) James Baker and Lee Hamilton of the Iraq Study Group?

A very interesting discussion is going on in the comments section of Ezra Klein's blog, here. The interesting part is the way you have to bend definitions to argue that the Administration has made certain people look "better." Eg, John Ashcroft: a better reputation as Attorney General than in his previous political career? Maybe not. A better reputation than what came after him, especially for his apparent sickbed opposition to a surveillance scheme? Maybe so.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Did You Call Your Senators Yet?

Just wondering.

As of right now, we're just a handful of votes away from the 60 votes we need to overcome the Republican filibuster.

That's where you come in. We've developed an online tool to help you call your Senators, urge them to support the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act, and then report back on where they stand so we can track our progress towards 60 votes.

This is people-powered democracy at its finest -- and we need your help to make it work.

Help us end the Republican filibuster of our Habeas Corpus Restoration Act. Click here to call your Senators now!

The Habeas Corpus Restoration Act gives us a chance to reverse one of the Bush Administration's many assaults on our civil liberties, help restore our place in the world, and better secure our nation. A vote to break the Republican filibuster could come as soon as Wednesday morning -- so please help us restore habeas corpus rights by calling your Senators now!

Senator Dodd on the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act

Senator Dodd explains the effect loss of Habeas Corpus has on every American, and the importance of restoring such a fundamental right.

And as a refresher to get you all geared up to make some calls, here's Gonzo presenting the Department of "Justice" interpretation of the constitutional writ of Habeas.

Restoring Habeas: The Vote Count

That's the current count from (as of 11:00 MST it was 32 yes, 1 no, 67 undecided). Firedoglake sums up the current situation
Every single Senator needs to hear from their constituents today. Word is that Sen. Lindsey Graham has threatened to mount a filibuster of this bill — nice way to stand up for basic human rights, there, Huckleberry — so it is essential that your Senators hear from you today. Cloture has been filed on the Amendment — so we need 60 votes to move it forward.

That means that 28 of those 67 undecideds need to come around before the vote (which could be as soon as tomorrow (wed) morning.

For those of us in Utah, our senators are firmly in the undecided column, and could use some persuasion (if you call, use the links below so the whip count will update).
Bennett, Robert F. R UT unclear CALL THEM NOW!
Hatch, Orrin G. R UT unclear CALL THEM NOW!

Not that Hatch or Bennett have the best record when it comes to habeas corpus, but pressure from their constituents never hurts.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Verizon Sues FCC

Verizon is showing it's true colors in the debate over the FCC's open spectrum ruling in a lawsuit claiming the new rules are “arbitrary, capricious, unsupported by substantial evidence and otherwise contrary to law." The irony of the "unsupported by substantial evidence" argument being used by one of the nations avid corporate proponents of "non-competition" for the "greater good" is being met with much warranted criticism.

Media reform group Free Press, a supporter of the open-access rules, accused Verizon Wireless of sending “lawyers, FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt] and money” in an attempt to overturn the FCC’s decision. The FCC’s open-access rules were a “small step on the long road to breaking up the anticompetitive, anticonsumer oligopoly that controls almost every level of the wireless marketplace,” Free Press said in a statement.

Frontline Wireless LLC, another supporter of the open-access rules, said in a statement that Verizon’s lawsuit “throws a wrench into the auction to promote competition and innovation for consumers.”

Google Inc. also criticized Verizon’s lawsuit. The open-access rules are “a big step for consumer choice and competition,” Chris Sacca, Google’s head of special initiatives, wrote on the company’s public policy blog. “Apparently, one of the nation’s major existing wireless carriers doesn’t think consumers deserve more choices.”
The sheer hutzpah of a company with this track record belaboring the "unfairness" of the FCC's decision is in itself jaw-dropping. If established companies such as Verizon feel threatened by the (fairly) minor amount of competition the open spectrum ruling will create, it is time for them to reassess their business practices and long term competitive goals, not pour money into litigation meant only to kill the competition with paperwork and court dates.

I don't blame them for wanting to protect their interest, investments, and consumer base, but an attempt to stifle innovation, while beneficial to them immediately, is a short-sighted endeavor that will ultimately be their downfall.

It is hard to listen to a company crying about unfair competition when they are so afraid or simply unwilling to actually compete.

Support Planned Parenthood @ Tower Theater

From the inbox:

PPAC Movie at the Tower

Hey all, just want to let you know about a fantastic opportunity to support Planned Parenthood Action Council and have a fun night out at the same time!

Pro-Choice Film Series

Brought to you by the Salt Lake Film Society and PPAC
Feature Film - Stephanie Daley
September 25, 2007
7:00 PM
Tower Theater
876 East 900 South
Free for PPAC Members
$10 non-members
become a member at

Greenspan Comes Around

The fallen Maestro finally speaks up:

In a withering critique of his fellow Republicans, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says in his memoir that the party to which he has belonged all his life deserved to lose power last year for forsaking its small-government principles. . . .

Mr. Greenspan, who calls himself a "lifelong libertarian Republican," writes that he advised the White House to veto some bills to curb "out-of-control" spending while the Republicans controlled Congress. He says President Bush's failure to do so "was a major mistake." Republicans in Congress, he writes, "swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose."

Friday, September 14, 2007

AP Fact Checking Bush Iraq Speech

Not much to say about the speech because, honestly, it was exactly what was expected. I thought about jumping and on yelling to you all "President gives speech all drunk and full of shit" just to spice it up, but I knew you would only half believe me.

One interesting item I found (not in the speech of course) was this, from E&P, on AP fact checking the speech. Enjoy.


"Anbar province is a good example of how our strategy is working," Bush said, noting that just last year U.S. intelligence analysts had written off the Sunni area as "lost to al-Qaida."


Early Thursday, the most prominent figure in a U.S.-backed revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Iraq was killed by a bomb planted near his home.

The killing of a chief Anbar ally hours before Bush spoke showed the tenuous and changeable nature of success in Anbar and Iraq at large.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bush Dog, Nick Lampson (TX - 22)

In March, 2006, General Wesley Clark interviewed Nick Lampson, who was challenging Rep. Tom Delay for the Texas 22nd District seat, home of Ellis Air Force Base, and NASA. During the "Clarkcast", Clark praised Lampson, saying:

I think that the greatest threat to the American people, what they really have to be worried about is the threat to liberty and democracy here in America and Nick we're real proud of you. You're running hard, you've got a great campaign organization. You've got people that really believe in you and yours is a race to see who can best take care and meet the needs, represent the feelings and the interests of the people of the 22nd Congressional District in Texas. This is a contest of national significance. [...] Nick Lampson, he's a “Beacon of Hope” in south Texas.
Lampson won the seat with the help of John Edwards and progressive fund-raisers such as ActBlue. It was a narrow win (15,000 votes) against a write in candidate, but it was nonetheless a win for a Democrat in a district that hadn't backed a Democrat for President since Lyndon Johnson. With Tom Delay mired in controversy, it was a moment of triumph for Texas Democrats who saw the win as a rejection of corruption in the GOP and a turning point for progressive politics in the state.

But in 2007, Lampson voted to extend the power of the Department of Justice to spy on Americans.

A successful moderate Democrat in Texas' 9th district, Lampson had served as congressman in the Beaumont district since 1996. In 2004, he lost the seat to a 2003 redistricting scheme backed by Delay himself, which many also attribute as an ironic factor in Lampson's victory in 2006, as the state GOP found itself spread thin and spending more in their own districts. Since the election, Lampson has performed much as you would expect from a Democrat narrowly (51%) elected in conservative district. Progressive Punch gives him 75.05%, and he votes with Democrats 86% of the time (having missed 14% of the votes so far). Critics argue Lampson has not capitalized on the bad taste left in constituents' mouths after the Delay scandals.

Lampson, a former school teacher, has campaigned aggressively for the protection of children and education, and was largely responsible for the creation of the national Amber Alert service. He supported family planning aid from the US abroad, but received a 30% approval rating from NARAL, which constitutes a pro-life position on a woman's right to choose. He voted to amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriage, but supports stronger penalties for hate crimes. He received a 64% rating from the ACLU on issues involving civil rights, and is a staunch proponent of border security, calling on his peers often to increase moneys for border patrol agents, while opposing military involvement in border security. Voted yes on criminalizing the oil cartels, no on removing oil and gas exploration subsidies. Yes on eliminating the "Estate Tax", no on making Bush's tax cuts permanent. Yes to authorizing the war, no on redeploying troops within 90 days, stating:
"There are those who advocate an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. And there are those who want to send in more troops and continue with an open-ended commitment," Lampson said in a prepared statement. "Somewhere in the middle exists a practical and realistic solution that honors the commitment and sacrifice of our troops. That is type of solution I will support and work towards."
You see where this is going...

Lampson's role as a Bush Dog in congressional capitulations may be best understood by exploring his district, the events leading up to his win in 2006, and his precarious future.

The new Texas 22nd includes around 130,000 people from Lampson's old 9th district, all victims of the 2003 "Tommymander." Despite having a history with them, his small margin implies most did not back him in the election.

In the 2006 general election, Lampson won 52-42 over write-in candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, who garnered more votes in the special election for the 7 week remainder of Delay's term than Lampson did in the general, and who he outspent 6 to 1. Lampson had announced his candidacy early in the year, but stepped up his campaign when it became apparent in May of 2006 that Delay would step down.

Sekula-Gibbs still has $191,000 left over from her 2006 campaign, and Dean Hrbacek, Robert Talton, and Pete Olson are also running (or strongly considering) for the Republican spot on the '08 ticket. The seat seems to be a sore spot for the Texas GOP.
"Regaining that district hovers around the top of our list of priorities for 2008," said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, which will not take sides in the GOP primary.
Lampson's slight lead in 2006, amidst Republican corruption, and write in candidates with names amazingly difficult to pronounce was still just that; slight.

George Will: Will Thompson Last Longer Than New Coke?

If I were a republican running for president, I wouldn't want George Will saying things like this about me.

Fred Thompson's plunge into the presidential pool -- more belly-flop than swan dive -- was the strangest product launch since that of New Coke in 1985. Then the question was: Is this product necessary? A similar question stumped Thompson the day he plunged.
. . .
He also is unfamiliar with the details of his own positions.
. . .
Thompson, contrary to his current memories, was deeply involved in expanding government restrictions on political speech generally and the ban on issue ads specifically. Yet he told Ingraham "I voted for all of it," meaning McCain-Feingold, but said "I don't support that" provision of it.
. . .
Which brings us to the financial implausibility of his late-starting campaign.

Suppose he does something unprecedented -- gets 100 people a day, from now until Jan. 1, to contribute the permitted maximum of $2,300. After subtracting normal fundraising costs and campaign overhead, he would still enter 2008 vulnerable to being outspent at least three-to-one by his major rivals.

It seems the republican savior may not be all he was cracked up to be. Other than a slight bump in the polls from a canned, bobble-head announcement video, he was doing better running for president when he was still thinking about running for president.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Attorney General Finalists


According to The Politico, President Bush has narrowed the list of possible Gonzales replacements down to five finalists:
* Michael Mukasey, former Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
* Ted Olson, Solicitor General from June 2001 to July 2004 Laurence H. Silberman, a senior circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
* George J. Terwilliger, Deputy Attorney General from 1991-93 under Pres. George H.W. Bush
* Larry D. Thompson, Deputy Attorney General to John Ashcroft from May 2001 to August 2003. If nominated, Thompson would be the first African American Attorney General.
Mukasey, Olson and Thompson are currently serving on GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani's Justice Advisory Committee.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Challenging the DC Status Quo

Email from the Blogpac:

David Petraeus is full of it. It's just that simple. Anyone, Democrat, Republican, or reporter who believes him or votes to appropriate one cent of money without binding withdrawal timelines is enabling an occupation of Iraq until at least 2009, and probably beyond.

Blogger and author Glenn Greenwald has made an excellent video that details this travesy. He expresses the contempt many of us feel at the barren standards of Beltway journalism and the craven behavior of political leaders from both parties in the whole Iraq debacle, of which this Petraeus testimony is just a sideshow. Please watch it, and sign the petition to express your disgust towards the Washington establishment:

The General and MoveOn's Cojones

Big cojones.

By now you've all seen the ad (if not, see it) and heard the cries of concern from the DC establishment and moderate Democrats nation wide. John Kerry called the ad "over the top." Big Tent Democrat lauded the ad, but condemned the use of tactics he equates with Republican smear campaigns. Diarists and bloggers opined the "danger" such a bold move may create, putting Democrats on the offensive. And of course Lieberman was all upons.

Amid the "vertical bars" and hazy numbers of Petraeus' statements, many prominent Democrats have found reason to speak out against the ad for it's challenge issued to (gasp!) an experienced military general, while they remain relatively silent in comparison on the credibility of the report itself.

During the testimony yesterday, a simple yet important question was asked by Gary Ackerman (D - NY) regarding the goal of the recommendations of a minute troop withdrawal in July of 2008, but a continued (large) military presence in the region to quell the sectarian civil war. Via The Gate:

Gary Ackerman: Is it worth it?

No one in the hearing thus far has tied Iraq into "the international war on terror," he observes, and if the two are related, the end of sectarian violence can't be the ultimate goal of U.S. operations in Iraq. "How could anyone suggest that we have a drawdown until we kill each and every one of [the terrorists]?" Ackerman asks. "That should be the argument you're making, and you're not."

"It seems to me that we're trying to be in the middle of a dysfunctional, violent family," he continues, before asking if it's worth the near-daily deaths of Iraqis and U.S. troops.
"The General" responded that Al-Qaeda was the "fuel" behind the continuing violence, to which Ackerman responded, "Then how can you suggest we leave after the sectarian violence stops?" "The General" couldn't respond, and his recommendations never patched that strategic hole. Who are we fighting, what are we fighting for, and when will we know when we are done fighting? Are we safer for all of this?

"The General" doesn't know (with video).

The crux of the debate over this report seems to blur within suspect numbers and vague statements of "goals" and "success" constantly sputtering from the right-wing, the Pentagon, and the White House, but lest we forget, "The President" argued for the surge in order to promote a decrease in violence to provide for "political progress," and now "The General" argues for continued occupation in order to promote a decrease in violence to provide for... well... he isn't sure.

Is it Al-Qaeda? Is it the Al-Maliki government? Is it quelling the civil war? Is it all of the above? "The General" couldn't say, but was ever so sure that we must continue on our present course, with only minor changes in troop levels, because "The Numbers" show a decline in violence, which means... What? If we focus on calming the civil war which our presence is only strengthening, what about the AQI? If we are fighting Al-Qaeda, how is that effecting the Sunni/Shia rift? While we are doing either/or, what projected goals is this allowing the Iraqi government to achieve? And what if they don't achieve these goals?

He can't tell us.

What he can tell us is that he and Katie Couric had a great time when she stopped by the green zone, "The Numbers" are down. And he got "The Numbers" via a method different from the CIA and the NSA, but rest assured the same method of data mining is used by "two other" government agencies. Which he also can't tell us about (Is it the FDA? DOE? DOT? A funded think tank in Des Moines? Hell, even Ann Coulter has footnotes!). "The General" has reasons, and reasons usually imply a goal, and "The General" can't tell us what the goal is, or how he came by his reasons. "The General" instead focuses on his PR campaign, and again "The Numbers."

And let's not forget "The General" also wrote an op-ed in 2004 telling us that things were just peachy in Iraq, and we should have the whole thing wrapped up in about six months. Oh did I say six months? I meant this six months, that was all it will take. Oops, another six months. Okay, one more "six months", serious this time... (rinse, and repeat)

"The President" says listen to "The General" and "The General" says look at "The Numbers" and "The Numbers" don't really have much to say. But we must continue this present course or the bad guys will get us! 9/11, 9/11, 9/11...

And out of all of this, the only thing we have heard from the DC establishment is "how dare question 'The General.'"

I have utmost respect for anyone who commits themselves to a life in the military. I myself do not have the discipline or necessary motivation to dedicate myself to something so noble as a life of service. I admire anyone who does. But in this debate, that is beside the point, as "The General" has damaged his own credibility when it comes to an honest portrayal of the situation in Iraq through his own efforts to campaign for "The President" instead of provide honest assessment. I find it difficult to trust him. The Pentagon's PR campaign only serves to deepen my suspicion (PR, to me, is something a scandal burdened pop-star uses to rekindle her career, not something that applies to war, foreign policy, and other things involving guns and blood).

So the question posed by, "Petraeus or Betray Us" is anything but unpatriotic. Yes it is bold. Yes it is confrontational. But it is still an important thing to ask. If "The General" is cooking the books to promote a possibly failed war, isn't that a gigantic betrayal of trust in the American people? If "The President" is using "The General" to promote a failed policy and a disastrous war, isn't that (to borrow from Kerry) "over the top" itself?

I applaud for their bravery. If the ad has a few senators, representatives, members of the DC elite, and concern troll moderates writhing in angst, I say two thumbs up. When the debate involves the lives of Americans and Iraqi civilians, I would prefer my leaders squirming in their seats to prove themselves in place of vapid talking points and doctored reports.

The guy down the street from me has served in the military his entire life, but just recently he was arrested for shooting a shotgun in his backyard, which is adjacent to a schoolyard playground. I decided, based on this single event, that the man was an idiot, and therefore I wouldn't be asking him to plan for my future, invest my money, vote for me, or watch my dog, despite his years of service to the country. If Petraeus is misleading us, then he is betraying us, and I don't think it will hurt to maybe double check a little.

Put simply, the admittedly inflammatory "over the top" ad raises a question that should always be asked of our leadership: Should we trust these people, and why?

There may have been kinder, gentler ways to ask this question, but they are asking it when so may are not.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Wall Street is Not The Economy

Economics 101, via TAP:

People say that economics is complicated. But it sure looks simple to me. After all, what's so complicated about a sector that can be represented in a single arrow? Up for good, down for bad. And if that weren't easy enough, we've got green for good, and red for bad. It's child's play. It even looks like a toy I played with as a child. The green arrow made a cow moo, as I remember.

Looks, however, can be deceiving. And so it is with the ubiquitous stock ticker arrow that increasingly serves as a stand-in for broad economic data. More and more, the arrow is all that's discussed -- did stocks rise or did they fall? -- as if the movement of the market were synonymous with the fortunes of the economy.
I am not an expert when it comes to economics (that's Craig's job here), but I remember enough to know that most people are duped into thinking several consecutive green arrow days means a booming, healthy economy.

Things were pretty green-arrow-ey in the lead up to the depression.

Congressional Democrats and The Backbone

Funny. Very Funny.

Fox News Cracks

I saw a Fox News segment a few days ago that has stuck with me since. I caught myself mentally replaying it, trying to decide what it was exactly that bothered me about it. Then I read Newshounds; recap of the segment...

The final segment said it all. After a segment with in-the-gutter "Bernie" Kerik, Bo Dietl said we shouldn't give Bin Laden "so much attention." Fox was on a triple-split screen with Bin Laden in the biggest one. Dietl said we should shrink his screen and, lo and behold, Fox went to a full screen of "UBL." Then again, Cavuto said, "terror trumps all," but a very angry Dietl said, "We should just move on from this guy already," but seconds later he said, "We gotta crush him."

Tim Graham of the "Media Research Center" joined in and said, "This guy's threats are holding back the economy but you want to have viligance. You know the media's going to show these images but the media also ought to do a better job of actually acknowledging that there is a war on terror...instead of pretending somehow it's all a fiction made-up by the Bush administration." What?!

Back to Dietl who said, "This guy is not the boogeyman," but we should "take this guy out." We should "level that Tora Bora." He's not a boogeyman but we should level Tora Bora? Again -- what?!
...and it came to me: Fox News is losin' it! As they desperately attempt to keep hold of their audience, they are forced to reach further and further beyond the borders of logical thought in order to maintain that necessary balance of paranoia and misinformation so necessary to effective propaganda. As we near the 2008 election, and the end of the Bush "Legacy," the lackeys at Fox can see the writing on the wall.

And Neil Cavuto, lately, always looks like he's about to cry.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Post 20's Friday Night

I remember the days when being alone without a plan on a Friday night was inconceivable; a tragic misalignment of circumstances that should only occur in the event of fatal sickness, death, or a job with a horrible shift.

These days, I welcome the surprise lazy weekend. It gives me time to catch up on the 8 to 17 books I am perpetually "halfway finished with," and a chance to spend some much needed time thinking about things other than (gasp) politics.

For those of you who read The Sidetrack for our insight (or lack thereof, if that's your take), I apologize. For those interested, though, I wanted to provide my discoveries so far this evening:

1. Great video at the YouTubes of David Bowie and Robert Smith (The Cure) playing "Quicksand." (How do I miss this stuff?)

2. There are still no tour dates announced for Spoon. (If you don't know them, by all means, get to doing so!)

3. Guster will be here in Utah, shortly.

4. A good friend of mine will be hosting a SMA Benefit in October, complete with musical entertainment by The Legendary Porch Pounders (If you don't know them, by all means, get to doing so! Brad -- of Ogden's best and now defunct blues bar, Beatniks -- plays one mean harmonica). More on the SMA Benefit later, as I realize it may be a great opportunity for Utah Bloggers to mingle, and do some civic good at the same time.

5. Paul Krugman has a new book on the way. No title or date yet, but still... Woot!

6. There are still a handful of Bush Dogs left profile-less at, should anyone want to lend a hand to an important cause, and get some extra traffic for their blog. We've done a couple, and it is as informative as it is fun.

7. Dexter, Season 2, starts soon (but not soon enough).

And last but not least, no post would be complete without at least a slight reference to something political in nature. I found this post (FDL) to be humorous, accurate, and even somewhat infuriating at the same time.

Now, see, this is the problem with today’s Republican Party. In the old days, you could at least count on Conservatives to be able to do simple math. They were dull, they were oppressively rich, white, and authoritarian, but they were (allegedly) the Party of Fiscal Responsibility.

Somewhere along the way that broke down. Was it during the “Greed is God” Reagan 80’s? These days, our side may be the Tax and Spend Liberals, but at least we aren’t the Rape and Pillage Republicans.

Does anyone in the Bush Administration plan anything more than fifteen, twenty minutes ahead, ever?
To all you bloggers out there touting the currently popular "Immigration Causes High Poverty Numbers" line for the Heritage Foundation, we'll get to you with a little lesson in real economics. But for now, I must see what is on the TV, before someone discovers I am enjoying some free time.

UN: America "Leading" By Example

What a proud day in America.

"Torture, arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention in violation of right to counsel, incommunicado detention, any country that wants to equip itself either through legislation or just through its practices with these kind of tools uses the example of the United States," Louise Arbour [UN High Commissioner for Human Rights] tells Democracy Now! "If I try to call to account any government, privately or publicly, for their human rights records, the first response is: first go and talk to the Americans about their human rights violations."

DOJ: Block Net Neutrality

The soon to be Gonzo-less DOJ sent a filing to the FCC (nearly two months late) weighing in on it's net neutrality ruling. And in a surprise to no one, the still lead by Gonzalez Dept. of Justice stands up for the big business telcos.

DOJ says that there is a paucity of evidence to warrant such regulations and that they could, moreover, actually deter and delay investment and innovation.

If broadband providers were to charge third-party content and application providers fees for priority service, that could, in some circumstances, actually enhance consumer welfare, Justice argues. Differentiating service levels and pricing could be an efficient way of allocating scarce resources, much the way the U.S. Postal Service charges different fees depending on the speed of delivery.

The DOJ is telling us that regulation of the internet is bad. It will slow internet developement, and that's not something we want, obviously (as they put it in their filing).
However well-intentioned, regulatory restraints can inefficiently skew investment, delay innovation, and diminish consumer welfare, and there is reason to believe that the kinds of broad marketplace restrictions proposed in the name of "neutrality" would do just that with respect to the Internet. Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to "promote competition and reduce regulation," and to "encourage the rapid deployment of new telecommunications technologies."(3) In response, the Commission has deregulated various aspects of broadband services.(4) Against this background, commenters proposing special regulation of the Internet should bear a substantial burden of demonstrating that it is appropriate.

Now this promoting of competition has been working so well that the U.S. is the world wide leader in broadband users. Of course that's only if you don't break it down per capita, or look at a ratio. The UK has 84%
In total, 84% of web-enabled households said they had a broadband connection, up from 69% in May 2006.

And here in the US, just 72%
53% of all US households now subscribe to a broadband high-speed Internet service at home. Broadband services now account for about 72% of all home Internet subscriptions – compared to 60% in 2006.

Of course that's only comparing US broadband to the UK, so here's a chart with other countries on it too. If you're looking for the US you'll need to go down to line 13, just below Belgium (here's a big report on the US lagging in the broadband realm, if you're into that kind of thing).

Now back to the DOJ's filing, they give us a little more than just competition is better (and a trust us, we'll enforce antitrust laws), they also point out that no one can give them a good reason for enacting net neutrality regulations.
Based on the record in this proceeding to date, proponents of "net neutrality" regulation have failed to show that a sufficient case exists for imposing the sorts of broad marketplace restrictions that have been proposed. Moreover, the Department has grave concerns about the potential negative consequences of such restrictions were they to be enacted. Given the dynamic and evolving nature of the Internet, the Department finds that there are especially strong reasons to be cautious about imposing restrictive regulations in this context.

If you look at the enhancement of competition on an economy wide perspective wouldn't an neutral internet make everything more competitive?
If the phone and cable companies get their way, websites and online service providers who aren’t able to afford these fees would be put in a slow lane. Large media companies who can pay the tax to use the fast lane would dominate what you can access. The less powerful voices would be lost. That would mean a lot less consumer choice and it would strangle individuals and small companies trying to get their businesses off the ground.

And so I ask the justice department to read their own filing as to the reasons why people are pushing for net neutrality. If you want to make everything more competitive, not just more money for the telcos, then you want everyone to have equal access to the internet.

Wasn't the developement of the internet publicly funded to begin with (I'm thinking it had something to do with Al Gore)? How can we justify giving someone better access at a higher cost, when it comes to a public good? Should Walmart's trucks have a higher speed limit on the freeway than me because they can afford to pay some kind of get there quicker fee?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Election Reform

A while back I talked about Utah's election officials not wanting to update their voting equipment to a system that would yield more accountability, and hence, more assurance of accuracy (they were in fact arguing that the federal government should not pass laws requiring paper trails). The argument against reform back then was that they'd spent a lot of money getting these super high tech voting machines, and as far as they could tell, they were working.

Now the bill may be going one more step. HR 811 may (pending rules committee approval) be getting an amendment that would ban touch screen voting. E-voting machines simply aren't ready to be used in elections. Small scale testing works great, but somehow it all falls down on election day (ask someone who voted in Utah county in 2006). Developers aren't helping themselves by keeping their source code proprietary. For some reason voters just aren't accepting the "trust us, we'll get it right, but we won't show you how" from companies like Diebold anymore.

Also from BradBlog it looks like the bill could be in trouble.

A source who was present in the Rules Committee hearing room tells us that there was "a lot of skepticism about Holt's bill" from committee members. The source reports that Holt was "trying to explain the bill to members and was clearly on the defense," as members from both sides of the aisle, including Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), expressed that they have heard many complaints about the bill from constituents, Secretaries of State, and elections officials.

The ruckus is being caused by the same arguments that Utah officials used before, from USA Today
But his bill has been hit by a barrage of criticism from state and local election officials and election machine makers who contend the time lines are unrealistic, the audit process is overly cumbersome, the reliance on paper is too restrictive and the money allotted to replace existing systems, $1 billion, is insufficient.

"The ramifications of hasty action on this ill-conceived piece of legislation are immense and far-reaching," Donna Stone, a member of the Delaware House of Representatives and president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, wrote to House leaders Wednesday.

R. Doug Lewis, executive director of the Election Center of the National Association of Election Officials, said the bill was so objectionable that, if passed, he would recommend that state and local election officials refuse to run future federal elections.

Cumbersome, too restrictive, costs too much money. All very bad reasons not instilling confidence in the voting public that their votes will be counted fairly.

The Myth of Iraq's AQI

Via TPM, the Washington Monthy provides a lengthy dissection of where the military, press, and the President himself are getting their inflated numbers regarding the threat of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and how this very fallacy of thought may be the obstacle to all diplomatic progress.

Because of the danger on the ground, reporters struggle to do the kind of comprehensive field reporting that's necessary to check facts and question statements from military spokespersons and Iraqi politicians. Today, for example, U.S. reporters rarely travel independently outside central Baghdad. Few, if any, insurgents have ever given interviews to Western reporters. These limitations are understandable, if unfortunate. But news organizations are reluctant to admit their confines in obtaining information. Ambiguities are glossed over; allegations are presented as facts. Besides, it's undeniably in the reporter's own interest to keep "al- Qaeda attacks" in the headline, because it may move their story from A16 to A1.

Finally, no one has more incentive to overstate the threat of AQI than President Bush and those in the administration who argue for keeping a substantial military presence in Iraq. Insistent talk about AQI aims to place the Iraq War in the context of the broader war on terrorism. Pointing to al- Qaeda in Iraq helps the administration leverage Americans' fears about terrorism and residual anger over the attacks of September 11. It is perhaps one of the last rhetorical crutches the president has left to lean on.

Supply-Side Cement Shoes

I've been following a very interesting, multi-blogger debate on the Republican obsession with supply-side fanaticism and debunked tax break theory for a few days now. It's worth a read. What I found more to the point was an article from TAP's Harold Meyerson, "Shoring Up the Middle Class."

Meyerson describes a two sided rift that has grown in American prosperity that must be overcome in order to repair the "legacy" of Reagan-omics:

To see the difference that these two conditions can make, turn your attention to one small but critical corner of the U.S. economy: the adjoining ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Forty percent of all imports to the United States come through these ports, including the vast majority of goods from Asia. They are unloaded by the best-paid blue-collar workers in Los Angeles, the longshoremen. They are then taken away by some of the more poorly paid workers in Los Angeles, the port truck drivers.

Unlike their counterparts on the East and Gulf Coasts, the West Coast longshoremen belong to a powerful, incorruptible and visionary union, the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU), led from the 1930s through the 1970s by the legendary Harry Bridges. No one knows whether Bridges -- that rarity of rarities, an American union leader who actually was a communist -- had "Better Fewer, But Better" in mind, but in the late 1950s, he devised a plan to mechanize the West Coast ports. The swarm of musclemen who had unloaded ships were replaced by a much smaller group of dock workers operating giant cranes. Port productivity and profitability soared, and the union's agreement with the port operators and shippers ensured that those profits would be shared with its fewer but richer members. The ILWU local at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports has just 7,000 members, but they are among the very few blue-collar American workers with annual incomes frequently exceeding $100,000.

Port truckers, by contrast, outnumber the longshoremen roughly 3 to 1 and are lucky if their incomes reach one-third of the dockworkers'. Through the magic of trucking deregulation and the power that companies such as Wal-Mart exert over their supply chain, the truckers are all "independent contractors." Most of them are driving older, polluting rigs that they struggle to pay off, and they are working without benefits. Their efforts to form unions have repeatedly failed, for the simple reason that few of them can actually claim to have employers.
Republican Economics and tax policy have failed time and time again, as American's wages have remained relatively stagnant in the face of steady national growth and productivity. Now conservative mouth-pieces want to distance the party from it's own policy of tax breaks and the erosion of the middle class, proclaiming the "Tax Breakers" are the "fringe" of the Republican Party, as if we haven't been paying attention for the last 17 years.

There aren't enough life boats, guys. Your Republican Party is dead.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Nuke Iran?

With all the rhetoric involving Iran lately sounding more and more like that for Iraq five years ago, reading that the U.S. military is possibly preparing to move nuclear weapons into or near the middle east is a frightening thought to say the least.

Barksdale Air Force Base is being used as a jumping off point for Middle East operations. Gee, why would we want cruise missile nukes at Barksdale Air Force Base. Can’t imagine we would need to use them in Iraq. Why would we want to preposition nuclear weapons at a base conducting Middle East operations?

His final point was to observe that someone on the inside obviously leaked the info that the planes were carrying nukes. A B-52 landing at Barksdale is a non-event. A B-52 landing with nukes. That is something else.

The Air Force says it was just a mistake. I don't know that it's really any better to say that we lost 5 nuclear missiles for about an 8th of a day, or to say we're strategically moving them.

I personally don't think it was a strategic move, but what a bad time (like there ever is a good time) for an accident like this to happen from a p.r. perspective.

PS - I can't imagine how Air Force officials must have felt, I know what I feel while I'm looking for my car keys. If I could only expand that feeling by making it five peoples highly explosive (5 to 150 kilotons yield) car keys I might come close to understanding what a few people must have been going through for three hours last week.

ABC's "Path to 911" DVD Release Conspiracy Theory Extravaganza

In today's LA Times I found an article titled "Is Clinton's candidacy blocking "Path to 911?", detailing the tribulations of Cyrus Nowrasteh, writer and producer of the infamous ABC mini-series, which has yet to see a dvd release.

With no date for the release, questions are being raised about whether political pressure is behind its current status as a stalled or discarded DVD project. The reasons are murky, but the miniseries' writer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, believes it's crystal clear: Powerful forces are out to protect Bill Clinton's presidential legacy and shield Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) from any potential collateral damage in her bid for the White House.
What proof does Nowrasteh have that the evil Clinton campaign is blocking the release of his glorious, "fact" filled "Clinton caused 9/11" pseudo-documentary?
Nowrasteh, also one of the miniseries' many producers, said he was told by a top executive at ABC Studios that "if Hillary weren't running for president, this wouldn't be a problem."
A "top exec" told him. A "top exec" who maybe didn't want to admit that Cyrus' mini-series had already cost them millions in PR expenses to defend during the original release (something they stand to lose even more to, defending a dvd release with low anticipated sales) which already burdened with a lack of interested advertisers after stories leaked that the accuracy of the documentary was lacking. A "top exec" who might not have had the heart to remind Cyrus that the series won sympathy Emmy's in categories like "best fade in" and "best carpeting" (just kidding, it was "editing" and "effects") not "writing" or "directing." A "top exec" who didn't have time to explain that despite nearly 25 million viewers tuning in during the mini-series broadcast, public opinion backlashed against what many saw as a propaganda-like distortion of events leading up to a very tragic day in American history.

It would be a frightening if a person campaigning for office, or any elected official could easily stifle the release of an artists work, simply because it was critical of them. But it isn't that scary to think of studios burying those things that will not make them money in the dusty boxes of the "clearance" bins and quiet releases, reserving their dollars to promote what the public will buy. That's just good business.

And Cyrus, my man, I saw your mini-series. It sucked. If ABC wants to hold off, and slip it out on DVD while the public isn't looking, I can't say I blame them.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Giuliani's Senior Advisor: Let's Shoot the Poor

Via Newshounds:

This morning (September 1, 2007) during one of Fox's Saturday morning "business news" shows, Forbes on Fox, Fox aired a segment declaring that, "We need a 'fat tax' to save America." The premise was that we should tax junk food in order to help pay for the increased medical expenses generated by overweight and obese people. One of the participants, Bill Baldwin, the Editor of Forbes magazine, seemed to agree,
If you eat a Nutri-Grain bar and get diabetes, you're jacking up my health insurance premium. Yes, it should be taxed. There are a lot of things you do that impose taxes, ah, impose costs on innocent people and they should be taxed. For example...
Steve Forbes, a regular guest on the show and, by the way, the national co-chair and senior policy advisor to the Giuliani campaign, interrupted:
By, by that logic, let's tax the poor. Shoot 'em.
Here's to hoping the poor shoot back.

Labor Day "Cut and Run" Recap

The great thing about history is it allows you to look back on what you have been through, panning past experience for insight into the better way to continue forward, like looking for gold in a handful of mud. It's a form of self education, without which you are guaranteed only to repeat the same mistakes, beating your head against a wall, progressing not a bit until you learn what is to be learned.

Sometimes, you don't have to look back very far. This is an old post from Democracy Now!, published three months ago, Memorial Day weekend, just as summer was finding it's groove. Amy Goodman sits down with media critic Norm Solomon who, with the Media Education Foundation, had just released "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits are spinning us to death," a documentary based on his book of the same name. From the transcript:

NORMAN SOLOMON: So, first, the public has to be sold on the need to attack. Then, after the war's underway, withdrawal needs to be put forward as an unacceptable option.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Withdrawal of all American forces from Vietnam would be a disaster.

PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON: Let no one think for a moment that retreat from Vietnam would bring an end to conflict.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We're not leaving, so long as I’m the President. That would be a huge mistake.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Our allies would lose confidence in America.

PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON: To yield to force in Vietnam would weaken that confidence.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Any sign that says we're going to leave before the job is done simply emboldens terrorists.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: A retreat of the United States from Vietnam would be a communist victory, a victory of massive proportions and would lead to World War III.

PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON: If this little nation goes down the drain and can't maintain independence, ask yourself what's going to happen to all the other little nations.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: It would not bring peace. It would bring more war.

NORMAN SOLOMON: And many propaganda lines become stock and trade of those who started the war in the first place.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The party of FDR and the party of Harry Truman has become the party of “cut and run.”

REP. J.D. HAYWORTH: The American people will not stand for surrender.

REP. JEAN SCHMIDT: Cowards cut and run.

REP. PATRICK McHENRY: They're advocating a policy called “cut and run.”

KARL ROVE: That party's old pattern of cutting and running.

REP. CHARLIE NORWOOD: If we high-tailed it and cut and run --

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We won’t cut and run.

Cut and run.

Cut and run.

We will not cut and run.

Cut and run.
The President recently compared his occupation of Iraq with the tragedies of the Vietnam war. The media has only slightly changed their tune on selling his war far him. Blogs, websites, and local papers serve us better as "watchdogs of democracy" than the establishment, yet face constant criticism and questions of legitimacy from that same elite group, and unfortunately, they still have a very wide audience.

Cable news and big newspaper, despite their ratings and dollars, are slowly creeping toward irrelevance. They no longer corner the market. They have let us down, and cannot be relied upon. The pundits have fooled us one to many times, and their every word should be subject to careful scrutiny. Scholars and think-tanks have sacrificed their credibility for a pat on the back from the White House.

Our history cannot be re-written, and our future cannot be avoided. It is up to us, the working-stiffs, small time political junkies, future politicians, low-key citizens, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and everyone in between to sift through realities, and force our leaders to do what we have elected them to do: lead us forward on the best path possible.

Not everyone has the time to dedicate to a national blog, or to fully research each and every news story that passes our ears, or access to large readership, but we each have access to public libraries and the internet, one way or another, and we know how, or can easily find out, the means available to engage our leaders in an actual dialog, through letter, phone call, or a personal visit to their office, as a means to moving forward on a route that will restore American values and common sense.

Americans do not want empire, because empires fall. Americans do not want to traverse the world spreading democracy while our own children go without decent education, health care, and the basic opportunities this country was founded upon: Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Americans need not cow to extremists and fanatics, allowing them to call the shots when it comes to our foreign policy or domestic attitudes toward civil-liberties. We have been, and will be again, larger than this. We represent freedom, not fear. We should proudly "cut and run" from this administration, this war, and these failed policies. Civil-liberties matter. Habeas Corpus matters. Our national debt matters. Over 40 million uninsured Americans matter. This President and those in congress and the media who cave to his fear-mongering no longer matter. They have betrayed us.

We cannot dismantle and rebuild in one day. It will take decades to repair the damage Bush has done. But it must start somewhere, and we can no longer rely on CNN, MSNBC, or (snort) Fox News to parse the information for us. We can't wait for an ally more powerful than that of our own voice and having the foresight to change when the realities demand it.

Get involved.