Thursday, May 31, 2007

McCain (Still) Waffling on Net Neutrality

Freepress:

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson, among others, have all stated their strong support for legal protections for Net Neutrality. They were joined recently by GOP candidate Mike Huckabee, who last week told a collection of bloggers that Net Neutrality must be preserved.

But another GOP candidate, John McCain, failed to commit one way or the other. In a calculated response, McCain told an interviewer: “Anything that impinges on the ability for people to have access needs to be considered very carefully. I worry about the consolidation of the pipes.”

McCain then added: “When you control the pipe you should be able to get profit from your investment,” playing to both sides of the argument while failing to take a firm stance on the issue.

After his many years on the Senate Commerce Committee, you’d have thought this candidate would have come up with a more decisive position. Not so.
It is great to see Mike Huckabee showing a little vision, but the real leader here, when it comes to Net Neutrality and the '08 candidates, is John Edwards.

John Edwards has spoken out often, and as recently as yesterday on the need to keep the internet free, urging the FCC to open the airwaves, and the federal government to “seize the chance to transform the Internet and the future."

Edwards will be in Utah tomorrow evening at The Depot. If you appreciate his efforts to raise the bar among the candidates and the net neutrality debate, stop by to show your support.

And, once again, the FCC still wants to hear your story.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

ACLU to Launch Torture Suit Against Boeing

Torture: Immoral, Illegal, and...

The lawsuit, which the ACLU said it would file Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, charges that Jeppesen knowingly provided direct flight services to the CIA that enabled the clandestine transportation of the men to secret overseas locations, where they were tortured and subjected to other "forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" under the agency's "extraordinary rendition" program.
Ineffective...
Apparently, evoking the Gestapo is not an effective interrogation method:

As the Bush administration completes secret new rules governing interrogations, a group of experts advising the intelligence agencies are arguing that the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable.

Illegal, immoral, ineffective. Why do it? Revenge? Sadism?
Exactly. And only a Sith Lord seeks revenge.

Recommended Reading

A Tragic Legacy, by Glenn Greenwald.

Greenwald is a regular Salon contributor, and author of the eye-opening How Would a Patriot Act? (Defending American Values from a President Run Amok)

The man will make you think.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

FCC Still Wants to Hear From You

Just a reminder, via Moveon.org:

The FCC is only accepting public comments for a few more days. Can you sign this petition to them today, and send it to your friends?

"The public airwaves should be used for the public good. The government must protect our airwaves from corporate gatekeepers who would stifle innovation and competition in the wireless Internet market."
Sign here: http://www.civic.moveon.org/airwaves/?id=10433-7004862-s3Z2q8&t=3

We'll deliver your petition signature and any accompanying note directly to the FCC's public comment record, which FCC Commissioners use to guide their decisions.
This is a very important issue in Utah, where we have spent years under the heavy hand of corporations who have squashed competition and education in order to keep subscription prices high and the market under their control. Make your voice heard.

Bush Embracing Democrats' Foreign Policy

Finally.

Dems said Bush should talk directly to Syria; Bush said Dems were weak to even suggest it; and Bush eventually came around. Dems said Bush should talk to North Korea and use Clinton's Agreed Framework as a model for negotiations; Bush said this was out of the question; and Bush eventually came around. Dems said Bush should increase the size of the U.S. military; Bush said this was unnecessary; and Bush eventually came around.

And Dems said Bush should engage Iran in direct talks, particularly on Iraq. It took a while, but the president came around on this, too.

For years, all we've heard from the right is that Bush is a bold visionary when it comes to foreign policy, and Dems are weak and clueless. And yet, here we are, watching the White House embrace the Dems' approach on most of the nation's major foreign policy challenges.
And of course it is all their idea. In other Enlightened Doofus News:
Now the Wall Street Journal (though not its editorial staff) have run an article (subscription only, natch) on – wait for it – the rise in income inequality worldwide, including here in the US of A. (Here's a nifty chart depicting all of this.) Who do they think they are, John Maynard Keynes? Next thing you know they'll be admitting that Bush's massive 2003 tax cuts were a bad idea.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sean Connery Washington Post Op-Ed

Mr. Bond himself has thrown out a piece in the Washington Post Op-Ed section describing his excitement over the historic loss of the Labor party in the Scottish elections, after 50 years of party control.

Scare tactics often work in elections, and with the Labor Party contemplating defeat, it was willing to throw all the negativity it could into this campaign. People in Scotland heard it all: Labor conjured up descriptions of plague and pestilence if Scots voted for the SNP and a new and different government.

And I'll tell you this: It didn't work. In fact, it backfired badly on Labor.

Scots voted for optimism. They voted for change. They voted for progress.
If only we could be that brave.

The Myth of War Funding Debate

Glenn Greenwald:

In Newsweek, Jonathan Alter has a long article defending -- as lamentably necessary -- the decision of the Democrats to fund the Iraq war without any limitations. Both Barbara O'Brien and Big Tent Democrat, among others, have very thorough replies to Alter's argument, so I want to focus on one specific (and, in my view, central) point Alter makes:
The whole "support the troops" meme has become a terrible problem for Democrats. Even though, as Glenn Greenwald has argued in Salon, cutting off funding doesn't mean soldiers will have their guns and bullets and armor taken away in the middle of a battle, Americans have been convinced that it does. They want to end the war and support the troops at the same time -- i.e., send back the food and still eat. This is not a figment of some spineless Democrat's imagination but the reality of what he or she will face back in the district over Memorial Day. Democrats who vote to cut funding not only risk getting thrown in the briar patch by Republican hit men in Washington; they also might not be able to satisfy their otherwise antiwar constituents at home.
Both of the premises which Alter sets forth here are correct: (a) de-funding does not even arguably constitute "endangerment or abandonment of the troops," but (b) "Americans have been convinced that it does." And therein one finds what is the most extraordinary and telling fact of our political landscape. Namely, our Iraq war policy was just determined, in large part if not principally, by a complete myth: that de-funding proposals constitute an abandonment or, more ludicrously still, "endangerment" of the troops.
So we built a straw war on false pretense, now we "debate" it's future with false logic, and support our troops with false rhetoric. This is the only thing that's real.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Net Neutrality: The FCC Wants to Hear From You

The FCC has announced the beginning of a public inquiry into the Net Neutrality debate. Companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast want to control what websites we may or may not have access to for their own gain, and the FCC, apparently unable to realize the dangers of such control on their own, want to hear from Joe Public (us) as to why they should not allow it to happen.

Visit Save The Internet for more information, and to tell the FCC your reasons for keeping the internet free of corporate control.

John Edwards Comes To Utah

Just got this email from The Depot

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Depot is pleased to welcome Senator John Edwards to Salt Lake City. Senator Edwards will be speaking at a private function on Friday June 1, 2007 for the “John Edwards for President” fundraiser. For further information and/or to purchase tickets to the private event please contact jillianwaldman@yahoo.com. Press inquires can be directed to cmurray@johnedwards.com .

www.depotslc.com
Krystal Barnard
The Depot
801-456-2854

Utah - Down With HR811

So Congress is kicking around the idea of making elections more accountable/accurate/we might have a chance of actually finding out who won. The House version, HR 811 was the subject of criticism from every one's favorite media outlet, the Deseret News. Now when I read this article, the rebuttal that kept popping into my head was simply "ya, but don't we want accurate elections?" Maybe I'm just not getting what the problem is with this bill, but isn't that the goal, knowing who got elected without any doubt, and being able to double check if there is some doubt?

Argument against the bill number one, it will cost a lot of money and slow ballot counting.

In Utah County, where small glitches interrupted the election process last November, election officials are saying the proposed change to a scannable paper ballot would be disastrous.
"We've literally spent millions of dollars to implement this machinery, and it was all accurate," said Sandy Hoffman, Utah County elections coordinator. "If they forced us to use a scanned ballot it would take us forever and the press would maybe not even get election results on election night, it would take that long."

Just because you've spent a lot of money on something, doesn't make it better than all other alternatives, and I like watching the news on election night as much anyone, but I'd rather the results constantly scrolling across the tv screen be accurate than immediate (and I find it hard to believe that it would take that much more time).

Argument number 2
"Change to a new voting system would actually erode voter confidence in the election process," the resolution states.

I just can't follow the logic on this one, it's equivalent to saying that if car manufacturers changed the way seat belts worked to make them safer, people would stop trusting seat belts. I don't think that's the way it would happen, I think people would just want the safer seat belts, and not trust the old, not as safe, seat belts. Which may very well be election officials concern with admitting that the system they have now doesn't guarantee against you flying through the windshield, electorally speaking.

And finally, Joe Demma, the chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, says that nothing bad has happened here yet, so why should we worry. What's a potential problem if it didn't happen last election.
"I don't want Utah to be punished because Florida cannot run an election," Demma said.

This is the exact reason that I disagree with the little plastic things you put in outlets to keep babies from electrocuting themselves. It hasn't happened in my house yet, so I can be sure I don't need to protect against it.

All of this leads me back to "ya, but don't we want accurate elections?" I'm sure there would be complications, and barriers to overcome with enhancing a voting system to make it more accurate, I'm not even saying it would be easy, but isn't that what we should be doing, without complaint? Without accuracy in our electoral process we can't call ourselves a democracy, we could just as easily select our government officials the way they pick lottery numbers, ping pong ball randomness, at least we'd know the results right away when we were watching tv on election night.

On a how's my Representative doing on this one note, this bill has 216 co-sponsorers in the house, Jim Mattheson is the only one from Utah, Chris Cannon and Rob Bishop either haven't heard of the bill, or are themselves against electoral integrity. And for all you Colbert Report fans out there, it looks like number one on this weeks Utah Threatdown is, wait for it, that's right, Bears!

Manufacturing Our History

Bill Kovach, Senior Counselor of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, speaks out May 20th at Boston U about the current state of the media and propaganda in "Who Creates Reality?":

The economic success and enormous new wealth for Americans we are reminded of at every press briefing...or the reality document by the little known Federal Reserve Bank studies in which the great majority of Americans work in conditions of insecurity and stress [and] with household income lower than almost any other industrialized nation.

The exploding housing stock of multilayered McMansions rivaling the manor houses of old England…or the reality documented by UNICEF in which most children live in a unhealthy family relationship, in poverty and inadequate health care that is the highest among industrialized nations.

The non-existent weapons of mass destruction…or the reality confronted in Iraq by those Americans now in Veteran’s hospitals around the world.

I could go on with example and counter example of reality as history’s actors would have it compared with the world of factual reality that awaits you but I think you get the picture: My generation in many ways has been unable to reconcile the conflicts between the reality created for us by history’s actors and the reality in which we actually live.

But in many ways you are more fortunate than my generation. One of the most obvious and important ways is the way technology has empowered you and is redefining your potential as citizens. You now have the power to instantly tap into wells of information undreamed of until only recently.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lobby Vote

At least today wasn't all bad news.

The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act [HR 2316 summary], which passed 396-22, would require more frequent disclosure reports for contributions by lobbyists, would place greater restrictions on gifts given to members of Congress, and would increase penalties for failure to comply with lobbying measures.

Funding Vote

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mitt's Five Bro's


Five Brothers Blog

I don't think they mean to be this funny. But they are.

Olbermann Special Comment - Advance Transcript

Swampland is reporting Keith Olbermann has a special comment prepared for tonight's broadcast in response to the Iraq War Compromise. If the transcript is accurate, this one could spark a much needed fire under some asses.

The electorate figured out this one thing six months ago.

The President and the Republicans have not - doubtless will not.

The people have been ahead of the media, and ahead of the government, on the subject of Iraq for the last year, or two years, or maybe three.

This... all of this... is now about the answer to one briefly-worded
question.

Mr. Bush has failed.

Mr. Warner has failed.

Mr. Reid has failed.

So -- who among us will stop this war - this War of Lies?

Bug

Premieres May 25th.

Looks cool. And it's not PG-13.

National Psyche

Salon digs into the psychology of war, Bush, and impeachment.

But there's a deeper reason why the popular impeachment movement has never taken off -- and it has to do not with Bush but with the American people. Bush's warmongering spoke to something deep in our national psyche. The emotional force behind America's support for the Iraq war, the molten core of an angry, resentful patriotism, is still too hot for Congress, the media and even many Americans who oppose the war, to confront directly. It's a national myth. It's John Wayne. To impeach Bush would force us to directly confront our national core of violent self-righteousness -- come to terms with it, understand it and reject it. And we're not ready to do that.
Wow, how old are we?

Can't Shout Your Way to Victory

Sometimes, before you can put your thoughts into words, you run across the perfect chunk of verbage that says it all.

FDL:

Unlike many Kossacks, I sympathize with the Democratic leadership when it comes to Iraq. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have difficult situations. You can twist arms, make threats, pressure, cajole and otherwise try to cobble together a majority from Blue Dogs and conservatives like the Nelsons, Pryor, Landrieu and others, but, ultimately, you can’t shout your way to victory. The Speaker or Majority Leader cannot force anybody to vote the way they personally wish. I cannot, however, sympathize when they present this ugly compromise as some kind of victory, as legislation that will do anything to curb Mister Bush. It is anything but.

In the past month, we’ve seen a majority of House Democrats and a smaller majority of Senate Democrats favor three pieces of legislation that - while far from as strong as they should have been – would have put the onus on Mister Bush for continuing the occupation. Good for them. If only there were more like them.

If the latest legislation is as it appears to be, a toothless, gutless, spineless bill that gives Mister Bush his blank check, Democrats who vote for it are essentially buying the occupation.
Politics can be extremely frustrating.

Monday, May 21, 2007

McClatchy's Iraqi Staffers

Please Just Go:

Order the troops to leave Mr. President. Afraid for the safety and the future of this place? Leave 20 thousands of your soldiers on both Iranian and Syrian borders and let us take over our own country. THIS COUNTRY WILL BE FREE... whether you take your troops out now or by the efforts of the good people of Iraq and America. Sooner or later they will leave, and Al Qaeda will be defeated by the efforts of the good sons of Iraq....

They're Afraid of Al Gore

Because he wants us to learn.

Whether you agree with his arguments or not, no one can deny he has etched himself a very unique place in our political landscape. Maybe it's because he has spoken out about some of the most controversial topics of our generation, maybe it is public sympathy for having the election stolen from him in 2000, or maybe he just knows how to tell a story. Regardless, the man has found an audience, and he is using it wisely. And it doesn't hurt (for those of us who find it entertaining) that he is causing such hysteria and irrational backlash from the Right.

This week, amid the usual slanderous speculations, weak-minded fat-jokes, and reactionary personal attacks from the right, we see the release of Gore's "The Assault on Reason." The Center for American Progress provides us with a preview, filled with linky goodness for your learning pleasure.

American public discourse is increasingly "vulnerable to the kind of rope-a-dope strategies that Exxon Mobil and their brethren have been employing for decades now," argues Al Gore. For example, a recent survey of 21 nations found that Americans are "among the least anxious" about global warming, "even though their nation is the top source of greenhouse gases." In a ranking of 34 countries, the United States ranks near the bottom in the public acceptance of Charles Darwin's mainstream theory of evolution. Nearly half of the public still believes that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, despite unequivocal refutations of that claim. In his new book, The Assault on Reason, which will be released tomorrow, Gore explains "why logic and reason and the best evidence available and the scientific discoveries do not have more force in changing the way we all think about the reality we are now facing." He sharply criticizes the television media for covering trivial excess and politicians for alienating the public, many of whom believe "that no one in power listens to or cares what they think." American democracy "is in danger of being hollowed out," writes Gore. "In order to reclaim our birthright, we Americans must resolve to repair the systemic decay of the public forum."

The Anti-Smoking Fad

Salt Lake Tribune:

Tobacco-control groups regularly point to studies postulating a link between on-screen cigarette use and youth smoking. Hence the ratings change.

But a bit of perspective amid the crusading would be nice. Other studies, including one from the University of North Carolina, show that children's exposure to all sorts of media - including unsupervised access to television - also has a correlation with smoking.

I wonder how many well-intentioned anti-smoking advocates let their own children have bedroom TVs. Or how long it will be before interest groups try to regulate TV owners' ages. These days, any kid with a pulse knows about the dangers of smoking, can cite chapter and verse why it's a stupid habit. And any impressionable child headed to the movies will first have to run the smokers' gauntlet outside the mall before he even steps foot into the cineplex.

What's next: A restraining order banning kids from coming within 500 feet of the entrances to government buildings, restaurants, offices, private homes or anywhere else smokers - glamorous or otherwise - might be spotted?
When it comes to protecting our children, aren't there more important, and actual threats to be considering? Are the future generations of America so simple-minded and easily impressed with an idea that simply seeing it on a movie screen will send them running out to buy a pack? Are we doing such a bang-up job of parenting that a character in a movie will have more of an effect on our children then values we try to instill in them?

The trendy Anti-Smoking crusade says more about the failure of parenting than anything else. If the children of America are really this fragile and ill-informed, something is going to get them eventually, and an entire generation of parents have failed miserably.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Calamitous Course

Ahem.

. . . Rather than deftly acting to bring the troops home, the Democrats continue their eye-shifting and throat-clearing while the killing and dying go on and on. Last week, the new majority party yielded to the oxymoron argument that we have to support the troops by keeping them in the line of fire. The Feingold-Reid Iraq Bill that would have cut the funding and thereby forced the president to bring the troops home was defeated Wednesday in the Senate. . . . The Americans who voted the Democrats into power have been let down. Instead of counting on the Democrats to deliver on their implicit promise to end the occupation, we continue to count the costs of not correcting Bush's calamitous course.
If we don't get out now, we won't get out for a very, very, very long time.

What Did Bush Know, and When?

Does that question sound familiar?

Those long in the tooth enough to have lived through the Nixon years will recognize it. Most of us have only read about the question, or only vaguely recall it coming up in History 101.

"What did the President know, and when?" became the vortex of the Watergate investigation in the final days of the Nixon presidency. The President's innocence or criminality were to be determined by they answer to that one, simply posed question. But in the shadow of that investigation, what the President knew, and when, meant everything to America. The answer meant the difference between a constitutional battle between Congress and the White House, or a full blown sucker punch to the stomach as an entire country realized it has been betrayed and made fool of by the very man they elected to lead them into a new decade, and out of an atrocious war.

That was 1972 - 1974. Today, it's 2007, and the deja vu is getting difficult to ignore. Post Op-Ed, via Editors & Publishers:

Since the congressional testimony earlier this week by former Justice Dept. number two, James Comey, about a mysterious latenight rush to the bedside of a hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft, much speculation about President Bush's role in it has swirled.

At a press conference on Thursday, the president was asked directly about this, and refused to explain. In an editorial on Friday, The Washington Post (the newspapers of Woodward and Bernstein) revised the famous Watergate era question in its headline: "What Did Bush Know, and When?"

It charged that "Bush wants to short-circuit that discussion by invoking the continuing danger of al-Qaeda..."
The President's words during Thursday's press conference are themselves an apt description of his own failings, and the public's growing suspicions. (Simply replace the words "al-Qaeda" with "Republican Party" and you've got all you need to know.)
They would like to do harm to the American people, because they have an agenda. They want to impose an ideology. They want us to retreat from the world. They want to find safe haven, and these just aren’t empty words. These are the words of al Qaeda themselves.
During Watergate, there were many (Republicans) who cried foul. Every Sunday talk show was booked for months straight with GOP squawkers decrying the hostility of Congress, and the "politically motivated" attacks on Nixon. The wanted to convince the American people that the Watergate investigation, and the common sense of holding the President accountable, demanding, at the very least, an explanation, was costing us a war (we had already lost), and rendering the President ineffective (which he had done himself).

And, well, it turns out they, and their president, were full of shit. Completely.

Nixon was an incompetent leader, a political monster, and a criminal, who took this country for quite a ride, betraying our trust in such a way we still feel the effects of it over 30 years later. Those who supported him were ideologically blinded, had an agenda, and were succeeding only in isolating us from the rest of the world.

As we watch this play out on our TV's and blogs and newspapers, we should all keep in mind that while we lost our innocence and faith in the Watergate investigation, two more years of Nixon would have been worse.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Failed State

Paul Krugman:

What we need to realize is that the infamous “Bush bubble,” the administration’s no-reality zone, extends a long way beyond the White House. Millions of Americans believe that patriotic torturers are keeping us safe, that there’s a vast Islamic axis of evil, that victory in Iraq is just around the corner, that Bush appointees are doing a heckuva job — and that news reports contradicting these beliefs reflect liberal media bias. And the Republican nomination will go either to someone who shares these beliefs, and would therefore run the country the same way Mr. Bush has, or to a very, very good liar.
And from Democracy Now, a little snippet for those who believe we will have this all wrapped up by August or September.
In Iraq, a British think tank is warning that the Iraqi government has lost control of vast areas of the country and is on the verge of collapse. The report by Chatham House warns: "It is now possible to argue that Iraq is on the verge of being a failed state which faces the distinct possibility of collapse and fragmentation.” The report also concludes that several civil wars are now being fought in Iraq. May 20th marks the one-year anniversary of the formation of the Maliki government.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Benchmarks?

They aren't benchmarks.

This is how the Democratic Party is "standing up to" Bush and Cheney. Let's face it. The Iraqi government is better representing the wishes of the American people in this matter right now. The following groups and organizations want to end the occupation:

The Iraqi Parliament
The Iraqi people
The active-duty US troops in Iraq
The American people


The following groups and organizations want to keep funding this war:

The White House
The Congress
The war profiteers
The U.S. media


But who is most impacted by the other benchmarks, the graves, the endless miles of dead bodies? Imagine trying to fit a million, three thousand, four hundred dead bodies into the U.S. Capitol. They would not fit. Not unless somebody burned them. Come to think of it, that might be a contract worth bribing someone for.

The Quotable Jerry Falwell

Historically, a political group losing hold on it's own identity, floating without direction or value, will grasp desperately at any event or circumstance that might, in any way, revitalize a movement or re-energize conviction.

This brings us what we see today of the Far-Right conclaves of the Republican Party, and their newfound adoration for the recently-deceased Falwell. But for you conservatives our there desperate for a cause to believe in again, be wary of this one. This is the man who, with a straight face and prideful tone, uttered:

Textbooks are Soviet propaganda.
And...
I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!
There are more just like that. Many, many more. Get to know the man before you adopt him as a mascot.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Poor, Dumb, Stupid Matt Drudge

Matt Drudge Rules Their World:

Here's the gist of the report: "The rate of killings of U.S. troops in Iraq has been on the decline, down by 60 percent, since the launch of the new security measures in Baghdad."... But if you read down into the story—as many Drudge readers surely will not—even the author of this quasi-article admits that it's bunk—check this out: "The statistics excluded U.S. troops killed in other governorates."... Say what?! The story purports to be about "Iraq."... This is the table of all the deaths.... The grim news is that the totals are much, much higher than suggested in this story, that tens of thousands of Drudge readers are relying upon for talking points.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bush Legacy: Temper Tantrums and Misdirection

Personal matters have kept me out of the political landscape for the past week; no blogs, podcasts, MSNBC or CNN. Today I am finally getting a chance to catch up, and what is strikingly obvious, as I re-acclimate to the goings on, is the sheer absurdity of our current state of affairs.

We are in a war that began with support built on a house of cards and falsities, fighting an "enemy" that only exists where we are fighting because we are there fighting. We have never achieved closure and vindication on the people responsible for an attack on this country and we are entrenched in a civil war erupting over 2000 year old contentions and squabbles over religious principle and "holy" pieces of land. Even the President believes that Al-Queda is calling the shots, and we are powerless but to react. There is no viable support for this war outside of the White House, a handful of reactionary fact-challenged blogs, a discredited "news" channel, and the 28% of America so out of touch they believe we can spread democracy by force (just like Russia tried to spread communism, and the Nazi's their bizarre nationalism).

Our system of law and justice has been perverted and whored out by our own President and the very institution designed to prevent against such attacks on justice and individual rights, the Department of Justice.

Conversations of quality of life and the American Dream are too often reduced, by these 28 percenters and our prime-time pundits, to empty debates over gun ownership and taxation.

Our Commander in Chief was elected by a historically small electoral victory (the second time at least), and called it a mandate. But when the American people, in November of 2006, issue an actual mandate, the President begins a campaign of temper tantrums and misdirection the likes of which this country hasn't seen since Watergate. That will be the legacy of this current leader of the free world, who has even alienated and betrayed his own Republican party. And as they say on the farm, only the diseased animals shit where they eat.

Social Security is a mess. Our military is shattered. Our reputation is tarnished. Our political system has cancer, and our social system is eating itself alive, one poverty level family at a time.

Reading this, you may be tempted to give in to the discouraging state of affairs, and the overwhelming amount of work ahead of us to get this country back to the greatness we are capable of and have been so close to in the past. But we can't be discouraged. America has overcome greater challenges than we face today (despite what Bush might say), but it has never, in the history of our nation, been achieved through simple ideological debate, media persuasion, or political posturing.

American history teaches us that things change when the people, through their voices, actions, and votes, simply stand up and give a hearty "Oh no you dih-ent!". It is not enough to stand on the sidelines and demand change, we have to go out, each and every day, in every way we can, and make it happen.

Let the opponents of reason and maturity spew their delusion. The best way to prove your opponent wrong is to let them speak openly. But do not accept or acknowledge authority by those who have cheapened and endangered our country and our self-respect. They may have the position and title, or the media outlet, or the time on the floor for empty rhetoric, but they do not have the support of the American people.

For those interested, or with the means to take part: Iraq Action Camp: Ever feel like no one is listening?

DC / Utah House Seats Bill To Get Full Senate Vote, But Is It Legal?

Well, it will if Joe Lieberman gets his way, in fact he's fast tracked it, and hopes to have it to the full Senate by early June. Now the question is, what happens there? You have people like Orrin Hatch throwing their weight behind it, for obvious reasons, but you also have the likes of Mitch McConnell saying it's illegal.

The measure has the important backing of Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, but still faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where a number of lawmakers are opposed on constitutional grounds to giving a non-state a full voting member of Congress. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has already signaled trouble ahead.

“This proposal, in order to go forward, would need to be a constitutional amendment,” McConnell has said.

To me, this seems to have been a non starter for a while now. Utah will eventually get their fourth seat, it's just a matter of when. But Republicans will fight the DC seat until the bitter end, simply because they know it's unlikely they'll ever win it . Some Republicans are leaning towards supporting the bill, and there will be negotiations taking place. And there's always the don't offend black people opinion.
In written testimony Tuesday, former Rep. Jack Kemp, R-N.Y. (1971-1989), cautioned Republicans about voting against a measure designed to give D.C. residents, the majority of whom are black, an elected House representative. Continued opposition, he said, would confine the party “to a minority status in perpetuity among people of color.”

Now while I agree it would be unfair to the citizens of DC to not have representation in the legislative body that determines it's taxes, I differ from Jack Kemp in that I apply that unfairness to all races, and apply it not for political reasons, but because it really is unfair.

Now to the Constitution, but first let me say, I'm not a lawyer, I've read the Constitution, but I'm by not means a well versed student of it, but here's my opinion anyways.

So, Article 1 of the Constitution says
Section 2 - The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states (. . .)
Section 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state

So unless we make DC a state (or call it a state I guess), they can't have representation in congress because that right is only given to states, not districts. Picky, yes, overly so, probably, but that's the constitutional argument against the bill. Now things only get worse for the bill because this same argument has come up before, and was resolved by an amendment to the Constitution. The rules for electing the president (article 2, section 1) say
The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected, as follows:

Each state shall appoint . . .

So again, only the states, no districts. Then the people in DC wanted to vote for president, thus came the 23rd amendment
he District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a state, but in no event more than the least populous state . . .

So this DC isn't a state thing has been resolved for presidential elections, they amended the constitution, not by making DC a state, but by giving it the same rights as a state, for presidential elections, not congress.

That pretty much sets the precedent that if you want to give DC the rights of a state, we have to amend the constitution to do it. The best way to do things? Probably not. Now if I were someone who was trying to get this bill through, here's what I'd do. I'd go to DC, and find someone who's in charge of the city. I'd tell this person to right now, stop following these rules (article 2, section 10)
No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

No state shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection laws: and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.

No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.

Because while states can't do these things, it doesn't say districts can't. Now obviously if DC went out and invaded Canada and signed treaties with Portugal, and raised tariffs on imports, congress would want to reign them in a little. At this point that requires a Constitutional Amendment, wouldn't it have been easier to just say that Districts, particularly those of Columbia, are hereby treated as though they were a state? That's what I would have done, but like I said, I'm no constitutional expert.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Weekend Recap

Over the weekend, I went down to the Harmonica Army 2, and we were again unable to break the world record. Brad Wheeler told the crowd he would try again if they would, so when he sets up HA3, grab everyone you know, and head to Ogden.

And in the political world

I wonder if Bush will veto the Iraqi Parliament too?

The Sadrist bloc, which holds 30 parliamentary seats and sees the U.S.-led forces as an occupying army, has pushed similar bills before, but this would be the first time it persuaded a majority of lawmakers to sign on.

And evidently, John McCain's last Iraq trip got him so much good publicity that he said he'd go back. With or without protection and armor? At what point does trying to save face start to make you just look dumb?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Democrats Sticking Up For Each Other, And Utah Pres. Candidate Groups

In the world of politics, candidates let the opposing side beat up on their competition and try to utilize it for their own gain. Now a politician can either do this directly by pointing to the attacks as a form of agreement, or indirectly by saying nothing, and letting their opponents take the hits however unfounded they may be.

Such an opportunity has come to light for Democrats running against Barack Obama for president, and John Edwards has decided to take the opportunity to fight back on his opponents behalf.

Coulter told Fox News that a poll showing Obama beating the top Republican presidential contenders was fabricated and could help al Qaeda, according to the Associated Press.

“Just when we thought Ann Coulter couldn’t take the politics of personal destruction any lower, she proved us wrong,” Edwards said. “Her outrageous comments are inexcusable and should not be tolerated in the public dialogue.”

While I personally agree with Edwards analysis of Coulter (she's crazy, in a mean, spiteful way), I'm more impressed with Edwards' fighting back. He could have let the comment go, and potentially gained from any damage it would do to the Obama campaign, but instead, he came out swinging against Coulter, in defense of his competition.

Only time will tell whether this specific example, as well as the overall attitude of the Edwards campaign will pay off electorally, but if more politicians acted this way, it would raise the political debate above the array of sound bite, unwarranted attacks and actually force candidates to talk about issues. Any upward movement in the political climate is always note worthy, and in this instance, Edwards has attempted to keep us all above the one line attack statements.

In looking through the top three Democratic candidate's websites, I found some Utah groups. The grassroots world is growing, and we can all take part, even in the reddest of red states. Here are the links to the Utah groups for the campaigns (I couldn't find any Utah groups or events at hillaryclinton.com). If I haven't included your personal choice for president, please let us know where the information can be found.
John Edwards, Utah Supporters
Barack Obama, Utah Supporters

Friday, May 11, 2007

I Was For It Before I Was Agin' It

Yark.

What Romney Believes (5/10/07) by Karen Tumulty
GOP-friendly reporter Tumulty ponders whether Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney can "convince voters there is indeed a core somewhere in the middle of all those contortions" he makes on issues like gay rights and abortion access:
Of the many reasons the last Presidential candidate from Massachusetts lost, nothing was so devastating as the 13 words John Kerry would give anything to take back: "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." But given that we've had three years since then to reckon with the consequences of inflexibility on Iraq, maybe there isn't the same price to be paid for reinvention.
Translation: boy it was bad that Kerry was flip-flopping. But now? Well, it might be time for Republican politician who can do it. Tumulty's comparison is particularly specious considering that the example of Kerry's "flip-flopping" was based entirely on reporters pretending not to understand how a legislature works; see FAIR's Media Advisory: If Only They Had Invented the Internet (9/3/04)

CBS News Selectivly Applies 'Internal' Standards

CBS has fired retired General John Batiste due to his violation of what they are calling an "internal" standard that says (via TPM)

Genelius told me that CBS had "internal" standards that dictated against this sort of advocacy, which she defined as "expressing a public opinion that is coming from an advocacy point of view." She added: "You are not allowed to take a public position on an issue." Think Progress got a similar explanation from Genelius today.

So General Batiste appears in an Oliver Stone ad for MoveOn expressing his opinion on the war, and he can't work for CBS anymore (if you haven't seen the VoteVets videos, MoveOn has them up on their site).

Now this would be ok, assuming this 'internal' standard exists and is known, and is applied fairly and unbiased to all CBS staff. But wait, it's not . . .
On December 31, 2006 (via Nexis), the Brookings Institution's Michael O'Hanlon appeared on CBS as a "CBS News Consultant" -- the same type of arrangement Batiste had. O'Hanlon, however, has repeatedly "advocated" in favor of the "surge."

Here's an Op ed by O'Hanlon in The Washington Post called "A Skeptic's Case For The Surge":

President Bush's plan for a surge of American troops in Iraq has run into a brick wall of congressional opposition. Critics rightly argue that it may well be too little, way too late. But for a skeptical Congress and nation, it is still the right thing to try -- as long as we do not count on it succeeding and we start working on backup plans even as we grant Bush his request...
Rather than deny funding for Bush's initiatives, Congress should provide it now -- but only for fiscal 2007 (meaning through September). By that point, or even the August congressional recess, we should know if the surge is showing promise. If it does, Congress could consider continuing its support....

If the surge fails, we will need a whole new paradigm for Iraq policy, and it is hardly too soon for Congress to start fleshing out our choices. But for now, Congress should also give the president the money and support that he requests.

No statement from CBS yet on O'Hanlon's firing.

HST Quote & When You Realize Your Vote Matters

While reading through the blogs today, I ran across this quote from the Owl Farm Blog

That is one of the key things I learned in these years, and I learned it the hard way. Anybody who thinks that "it doesn't matter who's President" has never been Drafted and sent off to fight and die in a vicious, stupid War on the other side of the World -- or been beaten and gassed by Police for trespassing on public property -- or been hounded by the IRS for purely political reasons -- or locked up in the Cook County Jail with a broken nose and no phone access and twelve perverts wanting to stomp your ass in the shower: that is when it matters who is President or Governor or Police Chief. That is when you will wish you had voted.

-Hunter S. Thompson, Hey Rube

I think this attitude is more relevant today than it was even a few years ago (when the columns that would become Hey Rube were written). When we look around at the doings of your elected officials at all levels, from city counsel to president, we have to always be aware that their actions affect our day to day lives in more ways than we will probably ever realize. As we look forward to the 2008 elections, both primaries and the general, which candidates do we trust making these decisions? It's not all about the war in Iraq, while that does play a large role in our upcoming choice. But there will be other laws passed that affect us as much if not more in our day to day lives. It would be wise of us to keep that in mind over the next 18 months.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

You Make Us Look Bad, We Send The Treasury Department After You

So, Michael Moore goes to Cuba as part of his attack on health care documentary "Sicko", and how does he get thanked?

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control notified Moore in a letter dated May 2 that it was conducting a civil investigation for possible violations of the U.S. trade embargo restricting travel to Cuba. A copy of the letter was obtained Tuesday by the AP.

"This office has no record that a specific license was issued authorizing you to engage in travel-related transactions involving Cuba," Dale Thompson, OFAC chief of general investigations and field operations, wrote in the letter to Moore.

Funny, usacubatravel.com doesn't mention specific licenses, but maybe it's in the fine print.

If I were a Republican, I'd be trying to keep Moore's name out of the news. The more publicity, the more people that will go to his movie. And whether you agree or disagree with Moore's views, he will get people talking about the issues he wants to shed light on. It's what he's best at. I wouldn't think Republicans would want people talking about Moore's topics.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Astroturf and Citizen Apathy

They call it Astroturf.

...it’s like “grassroots” organizing, but fake, and it’s the new promotion vehicle of choice for corporations with a message. Consumers have long since learned that when a Fortune 500 company shows up at a regulatory hearing and insists that some new plan is “better for consumers,” it usually turns out to be better for the company. When a “neutral,” non-corporate research and advocacy group pitches the same idea, it can sound a whole lot better. That’s why plenty of large companies have founded or sponsored such groups, a fact that gets surprisingly little mention in the media.
Bruce Kushnick, of Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism, attends a New Jersey Board of Public Utilities meeting regarding a video franshice for Verizon. Bruce Kushnick notices no media, no opposing members of the public, only three men who work for Verizon. Bruce Kushnick goes home and writes this:
“Three guys are standing in the back by the exit door and they keep shaking the hands of the speakers,” he says, “most of whom testified that Verizon should get a new, statewide franchise to offer cable services. … I later learn that the three men in the back of the room, Moe, Larry and Curly, work for Verizon, and it is clear by the smiles and handshakes that a room of witnesses have been brought by Verizon to testify on its behalf. Not one mentioned that Verizon gives their organization money or other support.”
When we refer to the media as the "Watchdogs of Democracy," we aren't just talking about what goes on in Washington. As watchdogs, the media is there to provide information to the public that otherwise may never see the light of day. Information that may prove very important to the way we live our lives, and guaranteeing that as Americans we continue to have choices.

What we are getting instead is complacency or silence, "Op-Eds" written by corporate shills, or "public service" corporate promotion presented as investigative journalism. The public cannot attend a public hearing if they don't know about it, nor will many individuals turn out even if they do. But for the public good, this is the role our media is meant to fill.

As Citizens, we do have an obligation to stay informed and take an active part if we want any freedom in the face of corporate agendas. These companies are out to make money, and there is nothing wrong with that. But how can they be policed in any reasonable way if the media is on the payroll and Joe Public is oblivious?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Heritage Foundation Column: Gas Costs Too Much, Blame Democrats

In the Standard Examiner yesterday, there was a column from Ben Lieberman from the Heritage Foundation, evidently the Washington Post columns were just getting too liberal for them so they had to look for something that better matched their taste.

In his column (no link to Standard's site, it's in their digital edition - subscription required - and the print edition), Lieberman complains about the price of gas, and it's upward trend. On this, I totally agree, gas is too expensive. That concludes me agreeing with Ben Lieberman.

The disagreement starts when Lieberman presents his skepticism about what the current congress will do about raising gas prices.

The only difference this time is that the pain at the pump is occurring under a Democratic-controlled Congress with a different approach toward energy issues. Unfortunately, their ideas offer little hope for relief -- and could make matters worse over the long term.

And how will they make matters worse you ask, well, for one thing:
While the last Congress debated a mix of good and bad energy ideas, the current one has only offered up bad ones. Its main approach is to bash "big oil" and punish it by raising taxes and other fees on these companies.

Because, obviously, if oil companies aren't making huge profits with little tax, they'll pass on every penny of tax increases on to consumers.

But that's not all they'll do. Not only do Democrats in congress think that oil companies shouldn't get huge tax breaks just because, well, as far as I can tell, they make oil, but they are also going to help the environment. Those bastards.
Congress is also considering raising fuel economy standards for vehicles. In theory, we can all save big at the pump by switching to much smaller cars. But plenty of gas-sipping models are already on the market for those who want them. Does the public really want Washington stepping in and essentially forcing this choice on everyone?


I guess the argument here is that the private sector is doing such a bang up job of keeping pollution in check, that we should let it continue to work. And it's not just fuel efficiency, cleaner fuel is also in their secret plans to screw us all.
Not only has current ethanol use increased the cost of driving, but the competition for corn between food and fuel uses has raised food prices as well. Increasing the mandate will only exacerbate these costs.

Worse, Congress wants to impose new environmental regulations, especially in the name of fighting global warming.

So the Democrats are holding oil companies accountable from a tax perspective, and trying to clean up the environment, and this is supposed to symbolize their doing nothing about raising gas prices. Or so the Standard Examiner, via their printing of the Heritage Foundation's column, would have us believe. So I assume it's safe to say that the Standard Examiner's view on pollution and global warming is that they are ok as long as gas stays cheap?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Net Neutrality Mutiny

When AT&T, Verizon, and others decided to fight Net Neutrality regulation, I don't think they planned for this:

[Clinton] was the top recipient of funds from employees of AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner through the first quarter of 2007. John McCain, who holds a senior position on the Senate committee that oversees the telecom industry, lagged far behind. Overall, employees of the nation’s telecommunications and cable television companies contributed $119,250 to Clinton’s campaign. [...] Clinton and fellow Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois are co-sponsors of a bill that would require large Internet providers to treat all traffic equally. The ”network neutrality” bill is anathema to AT&T and Verizon, who see it as unnecessary government regulation of their networks.

GOP Defectors

As Political Wire reports that Bush supporters are defecting, Newsweek, channeling Eisenhower, puts in perspective:

Susan Eisenhower is an accomplished professional, the president of an international consulting firm. She also happens to be Ike's granddaughter—and in that role, she's the humble torchbearer for moderate "Eisenhower Republicans." Increasingly, however, she says that the partisanship and free spending of the Bush presidency—and the takeover of the party by single-issue voters, especially pro-lifers—is driving these pragmatic, fiscally conservative voters out of the GOP.
Like rats on a sinking ship.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

You Have No Right

At the Anderson/Hannity "debate" Friday night, I had an experience I can't seem to shake, and that in the days since has festered into near contempt.

My Partner in Crime has already offered up an accurate recap of the event, so I'll quickly offer only this in addition: Rocky brought to the table a well researched case, as if presenting it at a trial court. Sean Hannity brought two long, emotional videos and a nice tie. A majority of the audience brought their lack of understanding of the Middle East and the war in general, and an unwillingness to partake in mature dialog.

About half-way through Anderson's presentation, he displayed a picture of the World Trade center in flames, shortly before the tower's fell. Up to this point, he had detailed his argument for the mishandling of our country and the War on Terror by the Bush team. When the twin towers picture appeared on the screen behind him, and before Anderson could continue, a man sitting a few rows behind me shouted "You have no right!"

I thought of nothing else the rest of the night. And now, to every person who would like to tell me, or Mr. Anderson, or anyone for that matter, that we have no right to display a picture of those towers when we present and arguement:

We have every right. In fact, it is our duty, because we are Americans. We were effected by that event just as much as those who have chosen to use the events of September 11, 2001 as a stepping stone into a foolish, poorly planned war that has gotten us nowhere and destroyed the reputation for fair judgment this country is built upon. On 9/11, many people were devastated by what they were seeing. Conservatives and Liberals alike. Americans!

So to the man sitting behind me at Kingsbury Hall that night; how dare you say that to me. I have every right to disagree with this President and this war. I have every right to support our withdrawal from Iraq and to ask that this President be held accountable for the repeated (and avoidable) mistakes that he has committed in the name of my country. And I, Mr. Anderson, and every American alive have every right to proudly display a picture of those tragic events as reason for wanting us out of Iraq and out from under this White House's short-sighted policies.

It is you, sir, who has overstepped your rights. You have no right to tell me or any American that the images of those towers on fire and my memories of that day can lead to only one patriotic conclusion, which you seem to believe is fighting this war in this country, while those that attacked us that day are still free. You have no right to claim those images and the ensuing emotions belong only to you and your President.

That happened to us all. We all had to feel it, see it, and think about it. Some of us just kept on thinking.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Rocky v Hannity Recap, I Grow Discouraged About The Tone

Overall, nothing happened last night that wasn't to be expected. Rocky laid out his case against Bush and the war, Hannity brought up every right wing talking point from 1979 to the present instead of arguing his point. The pro Hannity crowd loved everything he said, and hated everything Rocky said, and the pro Rocky crowd responded in kind. The middle ground, if they were represented, must have seen this as the circus that it really turned out to be. So here's what I saw and heard during and after the debate . . .

The Moderator

Let's face it, he had the toughest job in the building, but that being said, I think he didn't perform his role very well. In my biased opinion, his choices in when to apply the rules (that came up very seldom) and when to control the crowd was very one sided. Those heckling Rocky were free to chime in as they pleased, but those doing the same to Hannity were told to present his argument (although Kingsbury Hall staff did eject a few people that I saw, from each side of the political spectrum).

The Crowd

This attitude seemed to reverberate through the crowd, as I saw a few people who had just minutes before yelled things like "traitor" at Anderson, turn and yell at someone who had attempted to yell something equally irrelevant at Hannity. One such exchange resulted in a Hannity supporter telling a Rocky supporter that he was going to "kick his fucking ass" as he "didn't pay to here him talk, he paid to hear Hannity." Which is understandable, had he not been yelling at the mayor shortly before. Now let me just say it's not that I don't think Hannity is an ass face, he is, but that wasn't the point last night. The majority of people who walked into the hall last night had already made up their minds, and weren't willing to listen to the other side. I'm probably guilty of this myself, I'd like to say that's because Hannity didn't so much provide a case for his argument, as he summarized his radio/tv show for the last few weeks, but I'll get to that later.

Rocky

The mayor laid out his case in a well thought out, logical way. The Hannity supporters didn't get it. I'm not saying they weren't smart enough to comprehend what the mayor was saying; more that Rocky wasn't getting enough sound bite jabs in there. The people whose mind he was trying to change are used to FNC and am radio, they aren't used to logical thorough argument, they are more swayed by emotional knee jerk reaction causing arguments. I'm not calling anyone dumb here, just saying that Rocky and the Hannity supporters were talking past each other. Rocky laid out his case, they called him a traitor and said that he didn't have the right to put a 9/11 picture in his slide show. To me he won the debate, but I agreed with him going in, and I've never been much of a Hannity fan. To those around me that didn't agree with him his argument wasn't concise enough to change their minds, he was too methodical. The only other criticism I have of Rocky's performance is his opening ran long, it happens, don't try to finish it during question time, that's your opportunity to put Hannity on the spot. Instead the Mayor made long statements that furthered his argument, but didn't force Hannity to respond in any meaningful way. This allowed the Hannity supporters to stay rallied behind their guy. Overall I came away with the impression that had Rocky put Hannity more on the spot with directed, short questions, Hannity wouldn't have been able to answer them. But the 'questions' Rocky did ask, Hannity was able to blather around (yes I said blather, that's what I thought he did; I never claimed to be unbiased here).

Hannity

From the childish body language to the Jay Lenoesque comedy/impression attempts, Sean Hannity was merely being his media self. He didn't come to Salt Lake to debate anything, he came to make some jokes, show some video that he produced, and generally polarize political discourse. Statements like 'have you ever noticed how liberals don't like to hear other people speak' and 'if the liberals would let me talk' while the conservatives in the audience were doing the same if not worse to the mayor only sent the crowd into their predetermined mind set of Hannity. Calling Anderson a part time mayor, and doing what I can only describe as the worst Bill Clinton impersonation I've ever heard didn't help either. No one gave him a chance to change their minds, and he didn't do anything that would make them wrong for doing so. His presentation seemed to be strained to me, from pausing for applause repeatedly, showing numerous video, and bringing up everything the right wing media has talked about for the last two and a half decades he showed he either didn't understand the topic at hand, or he didn't want to talk about it. In staying with my not calling anyone dumb theme here, I'll say he didn't want to talk about it, but why should he. He knows his case is a stretch, the majority of the crowd was on his side, and nothing the mayor said forced him into an answer. Rocky tried to get an answer several times, but in his typical FNC fashion, Hannity answered by talking about Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Congressional Democrats 'not providing supplies, armor, and ammunition to our troops,' and any other talking point he could come up with to excite his fans without answering the question.

I'm not sure who I'd blame for the distinct division that was so evident last night, was it the debaters, the crowd, or the issues at hand? One thing I can say is that as long as political talk in this country remains this divided, no one will ever change their minds. Why would they when it's all too easy to find someone supporting what you already think? In my opinion Anderson should have used the debate to try and point out the weakness of Hannity's argument to show his supporters why he's wrong. But that's what I already thought, Hannity supporters could very well be saying something along the lines of 'Hannity should have said why Rocky was wrong, instead of talking about John Kerry and Hillary Clinton' today. But what I'm wondering today is, is this just a local thing, is Utah really just this divided of a state? Or is this the state of politics now. Do we really need to entrench ourselves and fight an ugly political fight, or is there a more civil option?

Wow, I had more to say about the debate than I thought, did anyone make it all the way through. Oh, and I can't help but finding blogfights fun, and the one that went on over on A Liberal Mormon's blog was just classic. I think without people like Jessica out there I wouldn't enjoy politics as much as I do, they just add that element of wow to it. I wonder if they ever look back at what they've typed and think 'what was I thinking?' Probably not, but I'd like to see the look on her face if she ever does.


UPDATE KSL has the video if you missed anything.

2ND UPDATE KUTV has the video broken up into sections and a poll on who won, 50-40 for Hannity last I saw it.

Friday, May 4, 2007

God God God God Reagan

I often hesitate to link to or quote Joe Klein, but his summation of the GOP candidates and the debate was too perfect to neglect:

They were indistinguishable. There were so many of them. On radio, the time division seemed acute: The moderators, especially Chris Mathews, dominated. The generally fatuous and vacant answers made them even more indistinguishable. Here's what it sounded like: God God God God God God God Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan Reagan God...and, oh by the way, Reagan.

Dumbing Down America

Or maybe the title should've been "The Psychology of Habitually Rejecting Science."

True of False: ''Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.''

The United States had the second-highest percentage of adults who said the statement was false and the second-lowest percentage who said the statement was true, researchers reported in the current issue of Science... Only adults in Turkey expressed more doubts on evolution.
Regardless of your belief in the soundness of this scientific theory over that, this paradigm over those, you have to ask yourself where we are headed as a nation when we portray such a disdain for science and the confirmed or theoretical results of scientific research.

Regardless of which side you take up in the evolution debate, there is little disagreement that this leads directly to things likethis.

With our trending attitudes toward the science of global warming, the theory of evolution, the idea protecting our environment, and the opportunity to properly educate our children, America will soon be coming across as the back-woods, toothless, inbred Cousin Eddie that everyone pretends they don't have.

Shitter's Full.

Is There A Chance For Democrats In Utah?

Here's what Campaigns and Elections had to say about Utah in it's 2006 postmortem.

Utah is about as Republican as you get; it has voted for Republican presidential candidates by the highest percentage of any state in the past eight elections. The heavily Mormon state is governed by conservative Christian principles and values; those who want to be elected in Utah must espouse those values. Democrats have a hard time getting anywhere in this state. In the 1992 Presidential election, Ross Perot beat out Bill Clinton by two percentage points.

State Update
In one town in the Beehive State, even dog ownership is politics. In the ski town of Alta, an ordinance limits the number of dogs to 12 percent of the human population, or 42 dogs in this small town, but the mayor can allow special exceptions out of compassion or good cause.


I think they're pretty much dead on here, but the key is this part.
The heavily Mormon state is governed by conservative Christian principles and values; those who want to be elected in Utah must espouse those values.

Now in this state people just assume that the candidate who is most in line with those values will have an R next to their name on the ballot, but that's not necessarily the case and sometimes is just plain untrue. In order for a progressive movement to take hold in this state, Democrats have to show they have moral values, and contrast them with some of the morally laxed actions of Republicans both in Utah and nationally.

Does this mean we elect pro life, anti gay marriage, pro church in schools socially conservative Democrats, probably, but not necessarily. But even if that's the best we can do for now, Democrat majorities nationally would ensure that none of these issues actually came to the legislation table (e.g. an abortion ban would never get to a vote in a Democrat controlled congress), which would further the progressive cause (see Crashing the Gate).

So while this report is, in my opinion, accurate, and bad news, it's not an end game, there are avenues we can take to gain some footing to get Democrats elected locally and state wide in Utah. Or am I just being overly optimistic?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

More Congressional Oversight Chis Cannon Style

Can't we just move passed this?

A little more from the hearing, evidently Cannon was concerned about Iglesias's ethics, and wanted to know why he didn't report the phone calls Iglesias received from two Republicans in congress.

Rep. Chris Cannon, a Utah Republican, pressed Comey on Iglesias' failure to report the calls from Domenici and Wilson in October to the Justice Department, as is department protocol.

This definitely fits in with his prior concerns on ethics, specifically the ethics of say Domenici and Wilson?

Anyway, Cannon has made quite a spectacle of himself over the USA purge investigation, from claiming that it's a political ploy by Democrats
Republicans didn't appear eager Tuesday to go along. Committee member Chris Cannon, R-Utah, said the immunity offer was 'merely meant to fan the flames of speculation and grab headlines.'

Evidently them grabbing all the headlines made Cannon feel left out, so he grabbed a few of his own. Then there's the hindering of the investigation.
Cannon today argued that there's not a single shred of evidence of wrongdoing by anyone at the Justice Department.

and
Here's a breakdown of the six Republicans who opposed giving immunity from prosecution to Goodling, based on panel seniority:

* Sensenbrenner (Wisc.)
* Cannon (Utah)
* Randy Forbes (Va.)
* Steve King (Iowa)
* Trent Franks (Ariz)
* Louis Gohmert (Texas)

Because everyone knows, the best way to make sure there's never a shred of evidence - don't have people testify. And to cap it off nicely, let's let them pull this one off again.
With the drive to remove Tolman’s provision from the Patriot Act this week, Rep. Chris Cannon told the Deseret Morning News he didn't want the change now, because that would return us “to a system where judges appoint the prosecutors who will appear before them [which presents] serious separation-of-powers and impartial administration of justice issues.”

I mean nothing went wrong this time, so why should we change it? There he is, Utah's 3rd District representative Chris Cannon, he'll be here until early 2009 at least, please tip your waitresses.


And in today's totally unrelated to anything side not, Rudy Giuliani hates ferrets, or at least feels strongly against those who want to keep them as pets. Maybe the headline should be "Giuliani: Pet Owners Should Go Consult A Psychologist." It's what Drudge would do.

The Standard Examiner: Why Do Democrats Seek Defeat In Iraq?

I'm starting to think that Doug Gibson is working towards a career at Fox News. I think his columns would fit in nicely on the network where framing the argument in your favor, and supplying your argument with little (or no) supporting facts is common place. In his latest column, Gibson asks:

I would like to know what drives the Democrats to seek a defeat in Iraq. We are fighting an enemy as evil as any our nation has contended with. Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby may have the answer: Perhaps pols such as Pelosi or Sen. Harry Reid can't deal with the evil we confront?

Now the key assumption here is that they are seeking defeat. And of course if the are seeking defeat that implies a movement away from victory, which would require victory to be possible. But that's just semantics, why let things like reality and possibility get in the way when you have the chance to throw out lines like this
The Democrats' idea that we can peer through binoculars from Kuwait -- or Okinawa, as Rep. John Murtha suggested -- to protect Iraq is foolishness.

And since no one really believes that the Democrats are looking to lose in Iraq, even Doug Gibson, well maybe even not Doug Gibson, he proposes an alternative reason for the Democrat led congress's actions of late.
Party leaders understand that its electoral success in 2008 depends upon U.S. defeat in Iraq -- and our humiliation in the Middle East.

How else to explain Reid's comments -- reported by Jacoby -- of April 12, "We are going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war. Sen. (Chuck) Schumer has shown me numbers that are compelling and astounding."

I will never forget the smile and wink of glee from Speaker of the House Pelosi when she got the 218th House vote to set a date to quit on Iraq. Discretion would have befitted a more somber attitude given the importance of the issue. But for Pelosi, it's all about the politics.

If asked I would imagine Gibson would say the best solution would be to stay the course, or give the surge a chance to work, or whatever the talking point of the week is. But by spewing forth talking points, he falls into the same trap as the right wing noise machine, and their largest member, FNC. Without saying how we achieve victory, or even what victory is or would look like in Iraq, they can continue to say we need to win. I think we need to find out exactly what Mr. Gibson has in mind when it comes to an American victory in Iraq. Here's his contact info, ask him what he would prefer happen in Iraq, and let him know there's credibility bonus points for not using White House talking points.
Doug Gibson, dgibson@standard.net, Assistant Editorial Page Editor, (801) 625-4234


As soon as it's realized that there is no victory available, then one would start to say things like "hey, maybe we shouldn't have our soldiers over there." At that point one would have to admit that political stubbornness would be the only reason to continue our occupation of Iraq. Like Sen. Webb (D-VA) said following Tuesday's veto , "We won this war four years ago. The question is when we end the occupation." The answer should be right now, unless I'm wrong. But in order for me to be wrong, there is a realistically attainable goal for which we are striving. Upon our reaching this goal one could declare victory for the USA (mission accomplished?).

No one on the right seems to want to talk about the goal, only the consequences of us leaving 'the job unfinished', but can that be said when we don't know what the job is. Perhaps it's time for those on the right to reevaluate what they would like to see accomplished in Iraq, and some may conclude that our work there is done, that we can do no more good, which would of course, according to Gibson, be seeking defeat.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Onion, It's Funny Because It's True

The Onion

WASHINGTON, DC—Though critics have argued that he does not understand the futility of his current situation, President Bush announced today that he has no plans to remove his head from its current position: wedged painfully between two balusters on a White House staircase.


Bush has refused to budge from his position.

"Setting a timetable for withdrawal of my head would send mixed messages about why I put my head here in the first place," Bush said at a press conference on the Grand Staircase. "I am going to finish what I set out to accomplish here, no matter how unpopular my decision may be, or how much my head hurts while stuck between these immovable stairway posts."

Bush: Pass This Fast, The Democrats are Coming!

Bush is in a rush to get a bill through, further stripping FISA while protecting communication companies who complied with his illegal wire tapping and spying on American citizens. Why the sudden urgency? A New York Times' Editorial has the low down:

The courts have rejected his claim that 9/11 gave him virtually unchecked powers, and he faces a Democratic majority in Congress that is willing to exercise its oversight responsibilities. That, presumably, is why his bill grants immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated in five years of illegal eavesdropping. It also strips the power to hear claims against the spying program from all courts except the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which meets in secret.
When faced with questions of proof of an imminent threat justifying further breach of already trodden upon civil liberties, Michael McConnell, Director of National Intelligence said the evidence was "too secret" to share with Americans.

Uh huh.

Rocky Anderson VS Sean Hannity, Live Webcast

For those of you who couldn't get tickets to the Rocky Anderson / Sean Hannity Smackdown, our own FOX 13 will air it live, in entirety, Friday night at 8:30 PM (MST). They will also be streaming it live on their website.

Patriotic Fearmongering

Mere seconds after today's veto, I could hear the worn, creaking gears of the disintegrating GOP Noise Machine slowly churning into action. I believe they'll pull every dirty trick and sleazy talking point out on this one.

See, what they have to convince the American people of, in order to support their President, is that the Democrats are endangering the troops (They aren't), the President has a plan (He doesn't) and that Iraq is this generation's WWII.

How disrespectful to those who lived and faught in that war and that period of our century, to compare a war of false pretense and incompetence to that of WWII, and the real threat America was facing then.

There comes a point, in debate, when you realize you have won, though the debate continues. It becomes apparent as you hear your opponent grasping at even the slightest substantial point, and scrambling to make logical connections out of falsities and reality-challenged generalizations in an attempt to gain persuasive ground. But even they know they have lost.

From Salon:

But those who live by bogus patriotic fearmongering die by bogus patriotic fearmongering. Having cast its lot irrevocably with Bush, the GOP is now condemned to play out the dismal endgame in Iraq by his all-or-nothing rules. They have no choice but to pretend victory is at hand, attack those who say otherwise, and make up apocalyptic scenarios about what al-Qaida will do to us if we don't stay the course. The problem is, no one believes any of this anymore -- probably not even the people who are saying it.
I could learn to enjoy watching the right-wing eat itself in it's desperate attempt to be relevant, were it not so disgusting and tainted by hubris. When Dana Perino stood before the White House Press Corps. and said "Tonight, the House of Representatives votes for failure in Iraq, and the president will veto its bill," I remember thinking, "Who is stupid enough to really believe that?" The polls show the American people are not, which makes me proud. But the Michelle Malkins and Bill O'Reilly's and the Glen Beck's still believe. So does a large percentage of the mainstream press. And there are countless mindless parroting right wing blogs and petty local newspapers more than willing to keep toeing the GOP line.
[If] there are any legitimate analogies between Iraq and WWII, they aren't ones that Bush wants Americans to think about. Iraq more closely resembles Stalingrad, where a delusional Hitler refused to cut his losses, or the Maginot Line -- that heavily armed defensive wall that the Germans simply went around. The Battle of Britain, Iraq ain't.
Through Democratic process, the American people voted last November for those they thought would get us out of this war, and lay a firm hand on this Presidency long overdue for a spanking. It was not a vote for defeat, or a concensus for surrender. Saying that is foolish, and believing that is asinine.

So to the Withdrawal Majority in the House and the Senate; thank you. Keep fightin' the good fight. To the GOP and it's blathering pundits; Shut up. You lost. Don't let the door hit you in the ass, and take McCain and Lieberman with you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Bush Delays Troop Funding

With his veto today, President Bush has delayed the supplemental funds for US soldier in combat. This comes four years to the day after this same President declared "Mission Accomplished" just out of view of San Diego.

Those on the right will say that congress has delayed the funds, but as the President is now the one rejecting a bill that would fund our troops, those alligations hold less merit. If the President was concerned about getting money to our troops as soon as possible, he wouldn't have vetoed the bill.

So what comes next. There is a meeting scheduled tomorrow in which a compromise could be reached, I'm not holding my breathe on this one, although some are optimistic.

“It is my sense that on the Democratic side here in the Senate there is interest in moving forward, getting a bill that the president can sign at the earliest possible time,” McConnell told reporters.
He added that there are “some kinds of benchmarks that might well achieve bipartisan support and might actually even conceivably be helpful to the effort in Iraq.”

I find it unlikely that the two parties will be able to come to a compromise in this case, as the white house seems set on having no deadlines, and the capital set on deadlines. Who wins in a standoff of this nature? Legally the President can't get the money without congress, and while congress does have the ability to bypass the President, they seem a long ways away from having the votes to override a veto (unless congressional Republicans start to look at their re-election bids upcoming, and jump ship to save themselves). Were I a congressional Democrat, I'd make Bush keep his "veto pen," as the media saw fit to call it today, ready by passing another withdrawal timetable based bill. The public is currently on the side of the Democrats, and something like this won't hurt that.
Americans United for Change TV ad, which will start airing on national cable networks immediately upon President Bush's veto of the Iraq withdrawal bill: "Mr. President, you can veto a bill. But you can't veto the truth."

I also found it quite ironic that on the four year anniversary of "Mission Accomplished," coinciding with the supplemental veto, Tony Blair began his own removal of a leader from office (himself). And what will he be remembered for in his country?
Meanwhile, a new poll by The Independent found that 69% of the British public "believe he will be remembered most for the Iraq war. Remarkably, his next highest 'legacy rating' -- just 9% -- is for his relationship with the American President, George Bush."

I don't think either of those are meant as good things.


Update: 5:02 - Have I mentioned how glad I am Jim Webb got elected, because I'm pretty glad.

Ignorance Is Bliss

Until it isn't.

Noam Chomsky.

Generally, people have little specific knowledge of what is happening around them. An academic study that appeared right before the presidential election reported that less than 30 percent of the population was aware of the positions of the candidates on major issues, though 86 percent knew the name of George Bush's dog. The general thrust of propaganda gets through, however. When asked to identify the largest element of the federal budget, less than 1/4 give the correct answer: military spending. Almost half select foreign aid, which barely exists; the second choice is welfare, chosen by 1/3 of the population, who also far overestimate the proportion that goes to Blacks and to child support. And though the question was not asked, virtually none are likely to be aware that `defense spending' is in large measure welfare for the rich. Another result of the study is that more educated sectors are more ignorant--not surprising, since they are the main targets of indoctrination. Bush supporters scored lowest overall.