Monday, June 30, 2008

WTF 399


The Division of Motor Vehicles in North Carolina issued 10,000 license plates that began with WTF before someone spoiled the fun by complaining.


Uprising author David Sirota:

Outside of this arena - in the places I've been traveling all over the country for the last month - I have sensed a deep sense of sadness among many people I talk to, whether they are local political activists, local journalists or working people just grinding away at their jobs. The feeling transcends any one political issue, primarily because while political junkies think in terms of "issues," most regular people don't. It's not that people are unhappy or morose - but underneath our society there is an ever-present thrum of despair, and I can't help but think it has at least something to do with the sense that major institutions and voices are no longer are just passively incompetent, but are actively trying to harm/ignore regular people as those institutions and voices become consumed with the self-absorbed narcissistic media/political culture that I just described.

Since the last uprising of the late 1970s, this sense of persecution - or subjugation psychology, as I call it in my book - has been aimed at the government. That was thanks, in part, to effective demagoguery by the conservative movement. But today, the subjugation psychology impacts everything. Polls show the country has lost confidence in big business and banks. They also show people think the media is a joke. The list goes on.

As this alienation has intensified, the insularity of the political and media Establishment has gotten worse - thus intensifying the alienation even further.
This underlying sentiment forms the basis of Sirota's book. More importantly, it fuels support for candidates like this, who are embracing a new kind of campaign and a new kind of politics.

Not many understand the true definition of Populism, but most Americans and the candidates that draw their support are already knee deep in the movement that began in 2006.

Urquhart Defends "Politics as Usual" Against Walker Investigation

From Steve's Blog:

Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert has been pilloried for waiting to act on Richard Ellis’s allegations until after the primary election. The delay, many argue, is a sure sign of cronyism, protectionism, good old boyism, etc. If that’s the case, and it's not just the experienced realization that a politically-motivated witch hunt might be going on, then Democratic Representative Phil Riesen must be part of that conservative cabal.

On June 18th, he and Rep. Sheryl Allen went toe-to-toe on the timing, manner and purpose of their planned ethics complaint against Rep. Mark Walker. While Rep. Allen was extremely eager to file the complaint immediately before the primary, accompanied by a splashy press release, Rep. Riesen recoiled at the political crassness. Instead, he wanted it to be less political, waiting until after the primary and doing it quietly through the ethics committee, instead of through the media. He won on one of those two points.

These kinds of things are important to know, if – as we are forebodingly told today – more, unspecified ethics allegations are to come (say, shortly before the general election?). There’s always the chance that politics are involved in politics.
Yes, how dare they alert voters before they cast their vote that one party on the ballot may have crossed a very clear line in the ethics dirt, huh? Thank you for standing up for... Well I don't know what Steve is standing up for. I'm sure he does.

Arguing for restraint, or the manner in which this matter comes forth is one thing. Defending it on the merits of "politics in politics" reeks of a desperate grasp for explanation.

Ironically, I've kept myself neutral in this matter until reading Steve's post. Let the witch-hunt begin, I say. If Steve's post represents the mentality of Utah's GOP leaders in this matter, I predict this ethics investigation turns up something juicy.

Stealth Contractors

Cough, Cough.

With the basic Pentagon budget now clocking in at roughly $541 billion per year—before "supplemental" war funding for Iraq, Afghanistan, and the President's Global War on Terror, as well as national security spending by other agencies, are factored in—even Lockheed's hefty $28 billion take is a small percentage of the massive total. Obviously, significant sums of money are headed to other companies. However, most of them, including some of the largest, are all but unknown even to Pentagon-watchers and antiwar critics with a good grasp of the military industrial complex.

Last year, in a piece headlined "Washington's $8 Billion Shadow," Vanity Fair published an exposé of one of the better known large stealth contractors, SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation). SAIC, however, is just one of tens of thousands of Pentagon contractors. Many of these firms receive only tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Pentagon every year. Some take home millions, tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions of dollars.

Then there's a select group that are masters of the universe in the ever-expanding military-coroporate complex, regularly scoring more than a billion tax dollars a year from the Department of Defense. Unlike Lockheed, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman, however, most of these billion-dollar babies manage to fly beneath the radar of media (not to mention public) attention. If appearing at all, they generally do so innocuously in the business pages of newspapers. When it comes to their support for the Pentagon's wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, they are, in media terms, missing in action.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Iraq Fifth on 2008's Failed States Index

The surge worked!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

DNC Votes to Strip McCain Backer of Convention Credentials

As well they should. RawStory:

A Democratic National Convention delegate pledged to Hillary Rodham Clinton says she hopes to fight off an attempt by Wisconsin Democrats to take away her credentials because of her past statement that she would vote for John McCain if Clinton wasn't the nominee.

"Keeping national delegate status is very important to me," Debra Bartoshevich said Thursday. "I believe that Hillary is the better candidate of all of them."

She declined to comment on her previous comment, quoted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that she would vote for the Republican McCain in November if the Democratic Party nominated Barack Obama for president.

Wisconsin Democratic party chairman Joe Wineke said Friday he's confident Bartoshevich won't be at the national convention. Wineke said it's clear Bartoshevich violated party rules by failing to honor a pledge of intent to vote for the party's presidential ticket in the fall.

Wineke added that Bartoshevich would not have been chosen to be a delegate if people had known beforehand that she would vote for McCain if Obama were nominated.

Bartoshevich told the newspaper she felt Clinton was being treated unfairly and she questioned Obama's experience.
This should not even require a vote. The foolishness of this attitude toward Obama, who differs little from Clinton on policy - and who is now the official nominee - aside, holding a spot at the convention should also contradict the "principle" compelling a person to back McCain.

I'm all for a person's dissenting opinion working to sharper the party's focus, or drive a certain issue, but once the party has chosen a nominee, you attend the party convention as either a full supporter, or a reluctant pledge. If you are frustrated enough to vote for McCain, have at it. But you have no place at the convention.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How Bush Derailed the GOP Train

Political Books:

But then came the administration of George W. Bush and the advent and/or expansion of illegal wire-tapping, secret prisons for suspected terrorists, the overriding of checks and balances, and an imperial presidency. In Reclaiming Conservatism -- How a Great American Political Movement Got Lost -- And How it Can Find its Way Back, Mickey Edwards, for 16 years a conservative Republican congressman from Oklahoma, takes no prisoners in focusing blame for the dramatic transformation:

"...the finger of blame should be pointed directly at those people who call themselves 'conservatives.' If the Constitution and its fervent embrace of citizen rights is lost, they will bear responsibility for its demise." Edwards not only shows conservatives "how far they have fallen" but offers prescriptions for returning conservatism to its original ideals.

An interesting argument that makes the book appealing.

Of course there is the argument that conservatism itself was destined to result in an empirical president eventually. Or was Bush an anomaly?

A topic worth exploring, for conservatives and liberals alike.

And speaking of topics worth exploring, remember to tune in or log in today, 4pm-6pm, for the debate on KVNU's For the People (click video window to log into live chat), where I will be defending us all against unregulated oil company hegemony. Feel free to call in during the second hour and be a part of the conversation.

Pure, Unadulterated Fox News Crazy

Fox "Business" News:

Alexis Glick: "OK, before we go — because we're running out of time — you had a great point about Cuba. Tell me about this."

Fox's Eric Bolling: "Here's what's happening. China, in conjunction with Venezuela — people believe this, I mean, there are people in the oil business who believe this — have either currently, have drill bits in the ground in Cuban-leased land which is adjacent to our Florida land, ready to pull oil out of the ground.

"Think about this for a second. You drop a drill in ground in Cuba, in the water. That pocket of oil sits..."

Glick: "Sits over?"

Bolland: "No. No. Sits underneath Florida - U.S. territory! - and they'll be sucking our oil right through Cuba, right to China! These guys believe it. I completely concur with them. We need to start working on this right away. Usually it takes years to develop some of this stuff. Some of this stuff, far-out stuff, you gotta start doin' right now."

Glick: "Great point. Let's not be asleep at the switch."
I watch it because it makes me laugh. Sometimes, I wish I didn't.

Women and Blogging

A new study finds a gender difference.

McCain, Dobson, and the Gay Republicans


Wow. While James Dobson is publicly doing McCain's dirty work by trashing Obama's commitment to the religious right cause, McCain is privately meeting with Dobson's sworn enemy, the gay Republicans - a group that supports and is pushing for gay marriage. Note that once again McCain is trying to have it both ways. He's publicly sucking up to the religious right, while he and his staff are privately holding regular meetings with the gays. But at the same time, McCain is keeping the gay meetings off his public schedule lest he appear a bit too tolerant, or catch cooties, or something. Flippity floppity goes the candidate. He's Mr. Campaign Finance and a campaign finance criminal. He's Mr. Clean Government and a Keating Five co-conspirator. And now Mr. Conservative is holding secret meetings with the marriage-loving gay agenda. You can bet heads are exploding in Dobson-land over this.
The only thing about McCain that resembles consistency is his inability to grasp the concepts of written documentation, audio/video recordings, eyewitness recounts of events, and the ability of Americans to recall what he said last week, and compare it to what he is saying today.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Telecomm Donations Tied to FISA Vote

No surprises here:

In an analysis released Tuesday,, a nonprofit campaign finance watchdog group, found that lawmakers voting Friday in support of the wiretap deal averaged roughly twice the donations from the nation’s leading telecoms—Verizon, Sprint and AT&T—over the last three years as those voting against it.

The figures might not have raised eyebrows except that the proposal contained a gift for the industry, effectively granting retroactive legal immunity to the telecoms that enabled the Bush administration’s warrantless eavesdropping program. The immunity provision—blasted by civil libertarians for putting industry concerns above Fourth Amendment rights against search and seizure—rescues the companies from the roughly 40 lawsuits pending against them. Some money-in-politics watchdogs say the connection between the contributions and votes is no accident.
Still time to call your senator.

The Gas / Oil Price Debate of the Decade, Tomorrow at 4

Tomorrow on KVNU's For the People, Tom and Ryan have invited me and David James - of the Cache Republican party - on the show to debate gas prices, oil prices, how we got where we are, and what is best for the future. Live in studio!

Tune in - 4pm to 6pm on 610am - or log in to the For The People live webcam chat (click on video window to login).

Lieberman Must Go

Sign the petition

We CANNOT tolerate a leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus who supports George Bush and McCain's War in Iraq. We CANNOT tolerate a Democratic chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee who endorses and stumps for McCain. We call on the Senate Democratic Steering Committee to strip Joe Lieberman of his chairmanship and his leadership role.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pro Publica: Investigative Journalism is At Risk

Just launched:

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that will produce investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work will focus exclusively on truly important stories, stories with “moral force.” We will do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.

Investigative journalism is at risk. Many news organizations have increasingly come to see it as a luxury. Today’s investigative reporters lack resources: Time and budget constraints are curbing the ability of journalists not specifically designated “investigative” to do this kind of reporting in addition to their regular beats. This is therefore a moment when new models are necessary to carry forward some of the great work of journalism in the public interest that is such an integral part of self-government, and thus an important bulwark of our democracy.

The business crisis in publishing and — not unrelated — the revolution in publishing technology are having a number of wide-ranging effects. Among these are that the creation of original journalism in the public interest, and particularly the form that has come to be known as “investigative reporting,” is being squeezed down, and in some cases out.
Subscribe here.

John McCain's Internet Strategy

Is completely misguided, and embarrassing:

You know why John McCain should be the next President of the United States and we need you to tell others why.

Select from the numerous web, blog and news sites listed here, go there, and make your opinions supporting John McCain known. Once you’ve commented on a post, video or news story, report the details of your comment by clicking the button below. After your comments are verified, you will be awarded points through the McCain Online Action Center.
And DailyKos is on the list. Is that really the place you think your complete lack of understanding of what blogging is all about should be acted out, John?

On the other hand, if I get 500 more McCainiac Points, I get a free T-Shirt, so "McCain in '08!"

Monday, June 23, 2008

Energy That Doesn't Come From A Fossil

What a novel idea.

For the past four years, Utah State University business professors Ed Stafford and Cathy Hartman have lived and breathed wind power. Now their efforts are about to pay off.

At the end of the month, Utah’s first commercial wind power plant is set to begin generating electricity — thanks to the duo’s efforts.
When Spanish Fork’s nine turbines start turning, they will send 18.9 megawatts of energy to Rocky Mountain Power. At its peak output, the project will be able to power more than 19,000 homes, the equivalent of 74 percent of Spanish Fork’s energy needs.
That's right, Chris Cannon's district is looking at solutions like this, instead of say, shale oil or offshore drilling. Evidently they didn't listen when he said shale was the answer.

Developing a Unified Message

Beeton suggests a simple googling of "Obama GOP" as example of the progress on Democrats building a unified message for November, and building an offense against the GOP campaign. So I tried it.

Some of the top results from Google News:

AP: Obama: GOP Tactics the Reason Bin Laden is Still Free.

Chicago Tribune: Obama: GOP Not Credible on Terror.

USA Today: Obama Attacks GOP on Terrorism Tactics.

MSNBC: Obama: Expect GOP Attack on Patriotism.

Fox News (yes, even Fox News!): Obama: GOP Will Use Race Card to Scare Voters.
Here's to learning from John Kerry's mistakes, and a return to aggressively defending Democratic policy, and keeping reign over the narrative of these debates. November is going to be about Credibility.

Republicans "Hope" to Numb the Electorate

NRO's Geoffry Norman writes:

But we all hope for something else, we all have a sequestered place in our hearts longing for “a new kind of politics.” And when we hear whispers of it, we want to buy in. Barack Obama had a lot of us going for a while. He was “post-racial.” He was all about “hope” and “audacity.” He was for “change.” And this time, he promised, we really could achieve it. “Yes we can.”

Well, it appears that it is time to say, “Be still my heart,” and move on to other things. Obama told us his campaign wasn’t going to be about the money — after all, that was politics as usual. He was going to “aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.” Later, he expanded on that to say, “I will sit down with John McCain and make sure that we have a system that works for everybody.”

Well, McCain is still waiting for that sit-down. Turns out, Obama is all about the money. Now that he can raise more on his own than the government could have offered him — and probably more than McCain can raise — Obama has changed his mind (assuming it was ever made up), and is hoping the voters will not hold it against him.
How silly.

I applaud Obama for laying this one to rest. Republicans are suddenly taking the high ground on campaign financing as, quite simply, they aren't being financed. To assail this decision as "politics as usual" may make sense for some, it's an easy dig that sometimes settles in. But in this capacity, with this issue, it's disingenuous, and even desperate.

Barack Obama's average campaign contribution is still less than $100. A campaign that has generated several million dollars during the primary, and after (despite an expected slump last month with the nomination wrapping up, the result of so many assuming Obama's "got it in the bag", which we shouldn't) has an average campaign donation dollar amount that is a reasonable contribution for most American's. Hell, even bloggers can afford a donation of that size with a little planning. All of this implies a level of citizen activist involvement none of us have witnessed before. To nullify that by accepting public funding would have been 1) foolish, and 2) a thumb in the nose of every person who felt moved to give to this presidential race.

We can expect to hear a lot of this going forward. But remember it's a form of flattery. Every time you hear a conservative pundit or RNC spokesperson flapping on about politics as usual, and the dangers of "hope," remember there is more jealousy and frustration in their statement than truth, because sincere conservatives and blustering Neo-Cons alike are stuck with McCain (or Barr?).

It is too late to say Obama's "change" is a false notion entirely. We've already seen it play out. And while our candidate may not be perfect (see yesterday's post on his rightward shift on FISA), the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign have engaged record numbers of Americans in nearly every state to become activists, contributors, and of course (and most important of all) voters.

To say that, in and of itself, is not a change requires a very selective memory.

So suck it Geoffry Norman. We're still energized by the process.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Is This What It's Come To?

A more broad reaction to the FISA cave-in, simply because I'm still mad as hell. To fully describe why would require a post longer than I have time to write today, and more verbose than most of you would care to read.

Friday, 104 Democrats caved in to Neo-Con fear mongering and corporate pressure to open wide the door to retro-active immunity for telecommunications companies complicit in Bush's illegal and unconstitutional warrantless wire-tapping program. Nancy Pelosi fed us a song and dance. Obama, while hedging a bit, offered much the same.

But let me explain why this is an example of where the Democratic leadership has failed, and why we have to fight back, steering the party away from such feeble political pandering: This one was a no brainer.

The debate over wire-tapping and retro-active immunity is about three simple things:

1. The over reaching Bush administration.
2. The Constitution.
3. The Democratic Party brand.

Period. And it was a battle we should have easily won. In fact, nearly did, several times over. Were it not for the blind capitulation of the Blue Dog caucus, and a handful of other Democrats frightened by the fragility of their own red-state positions, this one was in the bag. Even if we put aside the oath our representatives have taken to uphold the Constitution (hell, it was easy enough for them to do), there still remains the issue of focusing this party around a brand built upon the principles of what Democrats stand for.

Retro-active immunity and warrantless wire-tapping, colluded with blanket warrants and hamstringing the oversight power from the FISA court is the best we Democrats could do? Mr. Matheson, this is the leadership you and your caucus offer? Spkr. Pelosi, this is the identity we offer voters? Senator Obama, this is the direction of our party? We can do better.

Despite the total failure of so many, it would be easy to focus only on the disappointment I feel. I don't want to do that. I want to end this with something that can give those of us who aren't willing to tow the line hope that we can recovery from this complete and utter failure of standing on our own two feet as the party of the people.

From a man not far removed from Utah, Wyoming Democratic candidate Gary Trauner:

  • I believe in the Constitution and rule of law, the two things that define our great American experiment. We must not gut our freedoms in order to save our freedoms. If we do that, those who use terror as a tactic will achieve their goal – after all, what would we be fighting to protect?

  • We can protect our nation without sacrificing everything our founding fathers and millions of veterans fought for; the FISA law, already updated in 2001 after 9/11 and recently patched to fix some omissions due to changing technology, works.

  • I would rather bring Osama Bin Laden to justice than help large corporations avoid justice.
And further sign there are those who truly have the vision to lead rather than roll over, here you can read a list of those Democrats who got this one right.

And we've still got Dodd.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Show Me the Quote

Twisting words.

Michelle Malkin is going to do this too. Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, everyone on Fox, and so on- they're all going to do this. They're going to take an actual quote, decide what Obama really said, and then scream about it until enough people are convinved it's true. We have has-been bloggers claiming Michelle Obama hurled racial slurs and never-will-be felons making claims with no evidence whatsoever.

If there is one great, fantastic moment which I will always love Chris Matthews for, it was when he did that to Michelle Malkin- she pulled something completely out of her ass- that "some soldiers were saying" John Kerry's wounds were self-inflicted- and Matthews demanded the evidence. Who said it? Show me the quote.
Another opportunity to raise the bar.

Executive Privilege, Again

Everything is a national security issue now. WaPo:

The confrontation is the latest showdown between Congress and the administration over executive privilege, under which presidents can prohibit executive branch officials from testifying or can withhold documents from Congress involving internal deliberations.

Earlier this year, the House sued former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers and chief of staff Joshua B. Bolten, seeking to compel them under subpoena to turn over information about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys. A hearing is scheduled for Monday in federal court in the District.

The House Judiciary panel also is engaged in a tug of war with former White House policy aide Karl Rove, who maintains through his attorney that he cannot answer questions about the U.S. attorney documents because of the privilege issue.

Peter Shane, a law professor and executive privilege expert at Ohio State University, said the conflicts are "part and parcel of a larger effort to reinstate what the Bush administration believes to be the proper scope of executive power."

There is a lesson here (and what better way to explore it than with puppets!):

Friday, June 20, 2008

Amnesty Vs. Enforcement

Considering my title choice here, I realize how ironic it is that the same people supporting in full swing the grants of retro-active immunity for telco's who broke the law to aid the President in the warrantless surveillance of American citizens can in the same breath decry the injustice of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.

That said, here's Hunter on the FISA vote, and Nancy Pelosi's ridiculous "victory" speech after 104 House Democrats caved in to the President:

Of course, it is about "enforcement" if you determine that "enforcement" of the law means "blanket immunity for anyone who breaks it." The bill directs the courts to dismiss all lawsuits against the telecommunications companies if the Bush administration directs them to, based on evidence which is required to remain secret but which may be as meager as an assertion that the company was told by the President that he had the authority to demand of them whatever-it-is-they-did. Which is also secret.

That's a hell of a compromise, don't you think? Can't you just smell the "enforcement" of basic Constitutional rights, there? Certainly worth a little self-congratulation from the Speaker of the House for standing up for us. Because at heart, Nancy Pelosi thinks you're too stupid to figure out the difference between "enforcement" and "amnesty".

But what's even better is that, in the span of two statements, Pelosi says that this bill is dependent on the President of the United States following the law... and praises the law for sternly "reaffirming" the law he already broke. Well, hell, you should feel confident now. And if he breaks the law again, of course -- no problem. Because we'll just pass another law making it retroactively legal again, and call that a great victory too.
Time for the Blue Bush Dogs to go. Peruse step one in picking better Democrats.

Say Goodbye to the Fourth Amendment

Feingold Speaks:

"The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation," Senator Russ Feingold said today. "The House and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which effectively guarantees immunity for telecom companies alleged to have participated in the President’s illegal program, and which fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity. And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration."

"The Democrats never really were engaged in this," said Turley. "In fact, they repeatedly tried to cave in to the White House, only to be stopped by civil libertarians and bloggers."

"I think they're simply waiting to see if the public's interest will wane," he went on, referring to repeated attempts to float said legislation past the public. "This bill has quite literally no public value for citizens or civil liberties. It is reverse engineering, though the type of thing the Bush Administration's famous for, and now the Democrats are doing--that is, to change the law to conform to past conduct."

"It's what any criminal would love to do," Turley continued. "You rob a bank, go to the legislature, and change the law to say that robbing banks is lawful."

"People need to be very, very much aware of this bill," he charged. "What you're seeing in this bill is an evisceration of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. It is something that allows the President and the government to go into law-abiding homes, on their word alone--their suspicion alone--and to engage in warrantless surveillance.

"That's what the framers who drafted the Fourth Amendment wanted to prevent."

Read the bill.

Then make a few phone calls and emails.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

He's Back

... and he brought his charts. consists of three major components: a video featuring Ross Perot discussing the purpose of the website, a blog where new charts and other information are posted daily for study and comment, and a narrated chart presentation explaining the economic problems our country faces.

The website is not affiliated with any political party or candidate. Most of the data and research for the charts is gathered from official government sources.

“The economic crisis facing America today is far greater than anything since the Great Depression,” said Perot. “Our federal government continues to spend us deeper into debt. The American people must get directly involved and demand an end to deficit spending. This website will provide information for citizens to do just that.”

More Obama Myth Debunking

Courtesy of Josh Orton:

The following is a public service announcement brought to you by MyDD...

  • Is there a movement of prominent Democrats and Independents fleeing to McCain? Nope.

  • Are Florida and Ohio out of the picture for Obama, and does he only face one narrow alternative path to victory? Nope.

  • Is there a huge post-primary riff in the Democratic party? Nope.

  • Does Obama have a big problem with women, particularly "suburban women?" Double nope.

  • Does Barack Obama have a big problem with Latino voters? Nope.

  • What about Jewish voters...they hate Obama, right? Nope.

It is advised that all citizens print these materials and keep them on their person at all times in case of any unexpected hostile interactions with cable news pundits...

Matheson's Blue Dogs/Republicans Set to "Compromise" the Constitution

Do Something:

Congress is set to vote Friday on a bill that gives immunity to telecom companies that broke the law and contains vacuum cleaner style surveillance that sweeps up the phone calls and emails of Americans. Already, we know it’s blatantly unconstitutional. Things are moving so fast and so secretively that the ACLU only got a copy of this bill this morning.

Even if you’ve emailed, called or visited your members of Congress about FISA, we need you to contact them again today.

This is done

Make a call to Senator (R-Utah) Orrin G. Hatch's Office

Phone: (202) 224-5251

District Phone: (801) 524-4380

Log a call to Senator (R-Utah) Orrin G. Hatch's Office
This is done

Make a call to Senator (R-Utah) Robert 'Bob' F. Bennett's Office

Phone: (202) 224-5444

District Phone: (801) 524-5933

Log a call to Senator (R-Utah) Robert 'Bob' F. Bennett's Office
This is done

Make a call to Representative (R-Utah District 1) Rob W. Bishop's Office

Phone: (202) 225-0453

District Phone: (801) 625-0107

Log a call to Representative (R-Utah District 1) Rob W. Bishop's Office

This is done

Make a call to Representative (D-Utah District 2) Jim Matheson's Office

Phone: (202) 225-3011

District Phone: (801) 486-1236

Log a call to Representative (D-Utah District 2) Jim Matheson's Office

This is done

Make a call to Representative (R-Utah District 3) Chris B. Cannon's Office

Phone: (202) 225-7751

District Phone: (801) 851-2500

Log a call to Representative (R-Utah District 3) Chris B. Cannon's Office

When you call, say something like this:

I am a constituent calling about H.R. 6304, the Hoyer/Bush FISA Deal. I urge you to vote "NO" because:

1. The Hoyer/Bush FISA deal allows for mass and untargeted surveillance of Americans’ communications.
2. The Hoyer/Bush FISA deal contains blanket immunity, virtually guaranteeing lawsuits against telecom companies will be dismissed. Ongoing lawsuits may be our last best hope of exposing the extent of illegal spying.
3. If leadership will not lead, it is the responsibility of every lawmaker to lead on this issue. You need to do what your constituents and the American people demand. Bowing to pressure from Republicans, the White House, the telecommunications companies and even Democratic leaders is unacceptable.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Internet Video Outreach Made Easy

Via Open Left

1) Pick your subject well: Read some of the more popular blogs or communities, get a sense for what people care about, and figure out how to add to the conversation. (...)

2) Buy a Flip Video: This is a super-simple video camera with four buttons. It's small, lightweight, simple to take video and upload it to youtube, and a hundred bucks or so.

3) Be Conversational, not Stilted and Boring: Media consultants are control freaks, and want lighting and sound to be perfect. This is natural for them, because they think that everything you shoot goes on TV, and therefore it must be 30 seconds, platitude-riddled, and boring. Still, they are wrong, and you will have to fight through their limited IQ in meetings or just ignore them altogether and ensure that the candidate says something interesting or personal. It doesn't have to be controversial. (...)

4) Distribute the video: Put it on youtube, email it to the people who have been talking about this issue with personal emails, send it to your email list, load it onto Facebook and your Twitter feed, and include it with press releases.

5) Listen to feedback: Sometimes this stuff is going to work, sometimes it won't. The nice thing is that these are cheap and quick processes that should take two hours of staff time and fifteen minutes of candidate time. Have a conversation about the issue with respondents. (...)
Sounds pretty easy for a quick, effective way of getting a message out that can be viewed by a large number of voters.

Low Information Voters and Email Rumors

Slate Magazine makes the argument to that Obama's website may be a bad idea, as even refuted rumors often repeated have a tendency to become truth with low information voters (who are also the most likely to be forwarding email rumors to begin with).

What they recommend instead is that Obama capitalize on the willing ignorance of the electorate with a "counter-rumor" strategy. A few of their suggestions:

A tape exists of Michelle Obama saying the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE at a conference on PATRIOTISM.

Every weekend, Barack and Michelle take their daughters HUNTING.

Barack Obama is a PATRIOTIC AMERICAN. He has one HAND over his HEART at all times. He occasionally switches when one arm gets tired, which is almost never because he is STRONG.

Barack Obama has the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE tattooed on his stomach. It's upside-down, so he can read it while doing sit-ups.

There's only one artist on Barack Obama's iPod: FRANCIS SCOTT KEY.

Barack Obama is a DEVOUT CHRISTIAN. His favorite book is the BIBLE, which he has memorized. His name means HE WHO LOVES JESUS in the ancient language of Aramaic. He is PROUD that Jesus was an American.

Barack Obama goes to church every morning. He goes to church every afternoon. He goes to church every evening. He is IN CHURCH RIGHT NOW.

Barack Obama's new airplane includes a conference room, a kitchen, and a MEGACHURCH.

Barack Obama's skin is the color of AMERICAN SOIL.


Get Your Campaign On

Gas prices be damned, this will be worth the drive. Morgan has eagerly embraced the creative use of technology, blogging, and bloggers themselves in his campaign. This is a chance for Utah bloggers of any political bent to show support for a candidate who understands that technology changing the way candidates and voters interact.

Join us on Friday, June 20 at 7pm
Bowen for Congress
Campaign Office Open House

Our campaign Head Quarters is now open. Please stop in Friday night for our open house and help Morgan kick off his campaign for United States Congress.

The new office is located at:
55 West Center Street
Logan, Utah
On the East side of the Great Harvest Bread Store

Please forward this to friends or call and invite them to come over.

For more information email or call:

Craig and I will both be there, and rumor has it we may see local celebrities Tom Grover of KVNU's For The People, and the Militant Progressive himself, JM Bell in attendance.

As bloggers, we find plenty of time to complain. 2008 is our chance to support those candidates who "get it" with our presence and/or funding.

Also, hear Morgan on BlogTalkRadio.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Iraq, No Insurgency


Iraq cooled from a raging boil to a slow simmer, thanks mostly to tactics taken from the military's counterinsurgency manual. Or, at least, that's the accepted wisdom. But a group of military thinkers and Iraq veterans says the established narrative is all wrong. According to them, Iraq may not even be an insurgency at all.

In the classic insurgency scenario, you've got a group of guerrillas on one side, and an otherwise-legitimate "host government" on the other. It's the job of a military like America's to tip the balance towards stability and order, by keeping the insurgents from overthrowing that government.

[...] Instead, what seems to be going on in Iraq is a “competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources,” as General David Petraeus put it. Shi'ites are fighting Shi'ites; Sunnis are battling Sunnis; splinter groups from both sects are waging a low-level religious war; AQI and other jihadists are stirring chaos; and criminal gangs trying to profit from the mayhem. It's an "extremely difficult and lethal problem," observes Lt. Col. Ollivant, who, until recently, was the chief of planning for U.S. military operations in Baghdad. "But it "is not exactly an insurgency."

Top 10 ActBlue Fundraisers (June 9th - 16th)

Courtesy of ActBlue Campaign Newswire:

Each week, ActBlue will release key statistics from campaigns across the country, along with brief biographical notes on the week's top 10 candidates. When we have information that may help to explain why a candidate has had increased activity on ActBlue, we will provide it in italics below the biography.
This week's top fundraisers are:

Mark Warner | VA-Sen | $47,166.00
Rick Noriega | TX-Sen | $37,240.05
Joseph Sestak, Jr. | PA-07 | $28,089.00
Kay Hagan | NC-Sen | $15,208.00
Sam Bennett | PA-15 | $13,415.66
Eric Massa | NY-29 | $10,397.68
Barack Obama | President | $10,150.91
Scott Harper | IL-13 | $9,965.00
Bob Lord | AZ-03 | $9,195.00
Tracey Brooks | NY-21 | $7,750.00

Find out why, here.

Chris Cannon's Oil Shale Grandstanding

I've been working on something like this, waiting for a call back from a friend at the BLM who has a lot of experience with the oil shale production research conducted so far. Today, the tribune lays it out, however, very clearly and succinctly in an editorial:

Rep. Chris Cannon's claim that oil shale is the answer to higher gasoline prices is nothing more than political grandstanding, designed to use the fears of Utahns to his advantage just two weeks before the Republican primary.

Although Utahns are as frustrated as all other Americans with the high cost of fuel, we believe they are not so gullible as to buy Cannon's pitch that he can provide relief by tossing out regulations meant to protect the state's natural resources from plunder by energy speculators.

Cannon is sponsoring legislation that would let developers more easily obtain permits by sidestepping a ban on oil shale leasing imposed by Congress last year. Cannon's bill has almost no chance of winning approval by his fellows in the Congress, who are well aware that the technology to make oil shale development feasible is at least a decade away.

The ban, sponsored by Colorado Democrats Rep. Mark Udall and Sen. Ken Salazar, delays the completion of Interior Department rules for leasing public lands for oil shale development. The two congressmen are rightly concerned about the potential impacts of opening up thousands of Bureau of Land Management acres in Colorado to developers who don't even have an economically viable way to turn shale rock into oil, let alone an environmentally sound method. Wyoming and Colorado governors share their view.

Cannon obviously has no such concerns about lands in eastern Utah.
Strip mining Utah's mountains, or super-heating rock to "boil" out oil will have zero effect on the world market of oil, therefore zero effect on the price of gas at the pump. Methods of extraction consist of two choices: strip mining or "boil out" super-heating of rock - a method which leads to acidic rock sediment leaching into ground water. Neither method stands the test of either ongoing research, or cost to benefit analysis from potential producers. There is no economically sound method of energy in vs. energy out oil shale extraction. And yet, in 2008, "Oil Shale" saturates Chris Cannon's speechifyin' like the very groundwater he wants to pollute for re-election.

What is dangerous about this is that after (if?) Cannon is elected, the idea has now been distorted and rooted in the minds of Utahn's who will expect a follow up amounting to a waste of tax payer dollars for nil, when the Congressman could be offering one of many viable solutions to the current gas price / energy cost dilemma.

Hasn't Cannon cost this state enough already in simple terms of poor leadership. His oil shale stumping serves only to further undermine his credibility. Voters in his district should accept this as a final service from the Congressman: a wake up call to his lack of understanding and vision.

For those who would like a little more fact in their reading than what Cannon offers, a few articles/sites to check out:

John Goes to Texas

To sell his soul.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Yellow Journalism


In the thread that I posted this morning, I referenced a Tennessee democrat (Fred Hobbs) who isn’t endorsing Obama for president because he thinks that Obama might be a terrorist: “He’s got some bad connections, and he may be terrorist connected for all I can tell. It sounds kind of like he may be.” This, of course, was the lead off “Grapevine” item on one of last week’s Fox Special Reports. Special Report, so far, has not followed up with the statement of the Tennessee Democratic Party which states that "The Tennessee Democratic Party is united behind our party’s nominee, Senator Barack Obama. Mr. Hobbs is obviously misinformed, and his statement highlights the perpetual efforts of the Republican Party, especially here in Tennessee, to turn internet smears and highly offensive gossip into their party’s message against Senator Barack Obama” But the best is yet to come.

Mr. Hobbs told a Nashville newspaper “They reported on Fox News that (Obama) has associates who are connected to terrorism. It does throw a red flag up for me ….I certainly don’t think he’s a terrorist. I’ve just heard he has associates who might have those ties.”

Comment: So Hobbs heard it on Fox which then reports what he said on the “Grapevine;” and, thus the meme that Obama is a terrorist is perpetuated. And of course the Fox audience will believe it cuz they heard it on the Grapevine. The smear beat goes on and on and on.

FISA: Obama and Warrantless Wire-tapping

Anyone who reads hear regularly knows that my attachment to the Obama campaign and presidency is of a strategic nature more than anything. That is not to say I don't get behind his policy (I do, especially his foreign policy), but that for me, the change he will bring has already happened, and will continue to "trickle down" through community organizing the likes of which most of us have never seen in our lifetime.

But on policy for a moment (or in this case, lack thereof) there is one issue that Obama (all of the Democratic candidates this year, in fact - except Biden and Dodd) have steered clear of: Retro-Active Immunity for Telco's. All have stated their positions on the issue, and Obama has since reiterated the same after clinching the nomination. But what boggles me is the missed opportunity to cling to a truly defining issue, and protect the rule of law at the same time by remaining removed from the battle over (unnecessary) FISA reform, even more so as a Blue Dog driven cave-in to the President again seems imminent. Silent Patriot:

Wouldn’t it be nice to have leaders in our own government who were willing to protect the rule of law and our cherished civil liberties from the tyranny of fear mongering?

If Senator Obama truly wanted to prove himself as a leader and strongly rebuke the past 8 years of privacy abuse and lawlessness, he would use his standing as presumptive nominee to rally Democrats (and some honest Republicans) to propose a new bill that closes any real “intelligence gaps,” but demands that the telecoms defend their conduct in a court of law to determine whether or not they broke the law. That shouldn’t be a controversial proposition. The telecoms can’t break the law just because the President told them they could.

This is a perfect opportunity to expose the criminality of the Bush administration and salvage the remaining privacy rights we have left. All we need are courageous leaders willing to go to the mat over it.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke
Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)
Defending our constitution could be a rallying point for House Democrats and the future president, drawing our line in the sand over an issue that is nothing short of an assault on the core principles of the Democratic Party, and what it means to be an American.

I'd like to see Obama step up on this one.

Steps to a Democratic Majority: Be Bold, Take Risks

Mike Lux, OpenLeft contributor and founder of Progressive Strategies LLC, pens something I am 100% behind with the presidential election, but I would also take it a step further and say this is the hurdle down-ticket Democrats (yes, even in Utah) must vault over in order to capitalize on shifting political winds.

The electoral college math also trends toward McCain in a conventional game. Even with a narrow lead in the national popular vote, Kerry states Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire are big challenges to win, and none of the Bush states that seem most likely (except maybe Iowa)-Ohio, Virginia, Missouri, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada-are easy at all. If Pawlenty is on the ticket, that makes Minnesota tough. It is only when Obama is making major gains in the overall vote, or when he is challenging the traditional voting patterns, that this race goes from being a tough-to-win nail-biter to a solid victory. It is hard to make those kinds of gains, or challenge those traditional voting patterns, without having a bold, risk-taking candidacy.

[...] So what do I mean by being bold instead of cautious? I am talking about a campaign mindset that rejects the conventional wisdom both in terms of policy and tactics. Obama should push McCain hard on the policy debate, propose big policy changes on multiple fronts, push the ideological advantage we now have aggressively, and force McCain to react to their agenda. And on tactics, think big and gutsy as well. Spend real time and resources in states like North Dakota, Montana, Mississippi, and North Carolina. Call for nationwide days of action by supporters on key issues. Hold web-connected rallies and events all over the country on the same day. Genuinely deal with McCain on a negotiated series of unusually formatted debates and town halls. Give speeches in front of hostile audiences. Run ads that have edge to them, that don't look like every other political ad.

Let's make the campaign-the issues Obama presses forward, the events and tactics and speeches Obama does-be as exciting and different as the country wants the new President to be. We can win this election by a landslide if we don't get cautious and start playing prevent defense.
I would also argue that a key aspect of "being bold" would entail reclaiming and redefining a liberal identity to the American people. Something only Republicans have succeeded at doing so far.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert's Final NBC Report

Wanted to put this up as a meager tribute to a man who I have occasionally criticized but always maintained a high level of respect for. Russert elevated political newsmaking with not only Meet the Press, but his lesser known interview series, and general reporting as Vice-President of NBC News. Despite being a household name, he never let himself become anything less than a journalist dedicated to seeking answers and accountability, even when it was tough to get them (up to and including holding himself accountable by willingly acknowledging to the FBI his conversation with Libby).

Here is Russert's final report for NBC News, given just two hours before his death:

Msnbc: Tim, is a web site launched by the Barack Obama campaign to combat potentially damaging rumor about the candidate and his wife, Michelle. Is this necessary? How big of a problem is this really?

Tim Russert: It’s amazing how much the Internet has changed our lives. People get emails that make accusations without foundation and they are circulated around the country within seconds and suddenly become topics of conversations around water coolers or in lunchrooms.

I remember being in Indianapolis covering the Indiana primary and a man came up to me and said he wasn’t going to vote for Senator Obama because he was very concerned about the comments made by Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s pastor. I said, “That’s interesting. As a reporter, I’m curious what comments particularly bothered you?” He said, “Well, I can’t think of any that come to mind, but I also read on the Internet that he’s a Muslim.” And I said, “Now wait a minute. You can’t have both. You can’t be offended by his Christian minister and then say he’s a Muslim. You’ve got to pick one.”

But that just underscores what we’re dealing with in this modern era.

Now I’m told there’s a counter organization with a very similar name that is going to be positioned and posted to spread the rumors, so that people that go to the Internet to get clarification will go to the wrong web site and get confused.
Also, For The People's Tom Grover weighs in on the loss, and JM Bell has Howard Dean's response.

Meet the Press podcasts for previous shows available here.

"kNOw McCain"

Coalition building at work:

When you watch Planned Parenthood’s new viral Web ad, you may get a strong feeling of déjà vu. You might notice it has essentially the same premise as an ad—starring actor John Cusack—that was recently released by, the liberal 527 group. That’s because the two advocacy organizations are joining forces in a "kNOw McCain" campaign, to link the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to the views and policies of President George W. Bush. Actually, the Planned Parenthood ad takes it a step further, asserting that McCain is actually more anti-reproductive rights than Bush.
It's great to see such an organized, controlled message from Democrats this cycle, contrasted against the scattered and self-defeating messages we entertained in 2004. Another edge these partnerships have over the McCain campaign (and the RNC's own 527's); truth is on their side.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Comparing Candidate Tax Policies: Do You Make $603,403 a Year?

Do you know anyone who does?

C'Mon, Vouchers Were So Yesterday.

Meet the "I Cans":

You can take the words “buy in” literally. Lockhart says the 250 grand for the rebranding project will come from the governor on down. Incumbents Jon Huntsman Jr. and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, for instance, have war chests bulging with cash and tepid Democratic competition. Why wouldn’t they throw some money toward the party Kool-Aid? And Lockhart hasn’t overlooked lobbyists in this ploy—they’ll be expected to cough up some dough for the shiny, happy GOP.

[...] If the state’s Republicans are so awash in extra cash they can afford to spit-shine their increasingly tarnished image, so be it. Bramble says the party’s message “has been lost in the static.” By presenting itself as little more than a brand of basketball shoes or a can of Diet Coke, the GOP is betting on the masses’ stupidity or short memories. And that’s cynical.

The static Bramble references is something party bosses would rather you just forget—as in, pay no attention to that crass dolt Chris Buttars spewing “ugly black baby” comments behind the curtain. And, as for that party-led decision to cram private school vouchers down your throats, even when you screamed your opposition? Well, that is so yesterday, people. How about we get your buy-in: “I can steamroll Utah majority opinion and continue to win elections.”

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Activist Judges!

Habeas returns

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.

The justices handed the Bush administration its third setback at the high court since 2004 over its treatment of prisoners who are being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The vote was 5-4, with the court’s liberal justices in the majority.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said, "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."

Utah for Obama Makes the Big TIME

Time Magazine in my inbox this morning:

Utah is hardly the place that jumps into most Democrats' minds when brainstorming about which red states they have a chance to make headway with this November. The Beehive State was one of just three states in which President George W. Bush swept every county in 2004—all of them except for two with more than 55% of the vote. In the state's 2008 primaries on Super Tuesday, Republican voters outnumbered Democrats by a margin of 2.5 to 1.

None of that, however, has discouraged Nikki Norton and her band of 40 volunteers from organizing for Barack Obama ahead of the general election. And surprisingly, it hasn't deterred the Obama campaign from formally helping Norton by investing in the state; Norton, co-chair of Utah for Obama's grassroots campaign, got a call a couple of days ago telling her to expect paid staffers to arrive within the next month. "Even if we don't win Utah, we definitely want to create a downstream effect for local candidates," Norton said. "It could also force [Republican presumptive nominee John] McCain to defend Utah; he might have to split his resources for a state like ours, where he probably wouldn't have needed to before. And our volunteers had a big effect on border swing states, particularly in rural areas in Nevada, and that was a big benefit for Obama [who won Nevada's delegate count over Hillary Clinton by dint of his rural victories]."

Democrat Complicity

In the interest of keeping the debate honest, and my own party in check, I feel compelled to point out that - despite his one sided rendition of the intentions of the Senate Committee reporting on public misstatements in the build up to war - NRO's Andrew McCarthy has a point.

All one really needs to know about this exercise in legerdemain is revealed by SSCI Chairman Jay Rockefeller’s diktat — over Republican protest and adopted without a vote — that the Committee would focus myopically on prewar statements made by administration officials. That is, the SSCI opted to overlook the overflowing stream of bellicose commentary, often less restrained, by Democrats.

[...]The reality is that SSCI Democrats, among other Democrats, had access to the exact same intelligence about Iraq that Bush officials had. Indeed, many of them had it for years before there was a Bush administration. Like back in October 1998, when those selfsame Democrats were passing the Iraq Liberation Act, signed by none other than President Bill Clinton, which made regime change — the removal of Saddam Hussein from power — the official policy of the United States.

As a result, the SSCI report does not consider, for example, the public statements made by one Jay Rockefeller on the Senate floor on October 10, 2002, explaining his vote in favor of using force in Iraq: “Saddam Hussein represents a grave threat to the United States, and I have concluded we must use force to deal with him if all other means fail.” (And how curious that the Chairman’s speech, for some reason, is no longer available on the Senate website.)
Democrats who supported the invasion will always have the fall-back argument that they weren't spewing the misinformation themselves, but if our quest here is for accountability it is important to remember those who bought it willingly, when many others were willing to risk unpopularity, and even attacks on their patriotism in order to ask the tough questions we all should have been asking.

President Pox

The Coalition of the Willing. Where are they now?

Albania PM Fatos Nano Defeated, July 2005
Australia Pres. John Howard Defeated, Nov. 2007
Britain PM Tony Blair Stepped down, June 2007
Denmark PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen In office ( pledged withdrawal in Feb. 2007)
Dominican Republic Pres. Hipolito Mejia Defeated, May 2004
El Salvador Pres. Francisco Flores Perez Term Limited, March 2004
Hungary PM Peter Medgyessy Defeated, Aug. 2004
Italy PM Silvio Berlusconi Defeated, April 2006
Japan PM Junichiro Koizumi Stepped down, Sept. 2006
Norway PM Kjell Magne Bondevik Defeated, Sept. 2005
Poland Pres. Aleksander Kwaśniewski Term Limited, Dec. 2005
Romania PM Adrian Năstase Defeated, Nov. 2004
South Korea Pres. Roh Moo-hyun In office
Spain PM Jose Maria Aznar Defeated, March 2004

And South Korea has just been busy...

Energy Solutions Has a Congressman

Morgan Bowen (Democratic Candidate - District 1):

Stop Foreign Radioactive Waste!

Several days ago, my wife received a call from Energy Solutions. They wanted to invite me to tour their radioactive waste dump in Clive. They offered to take me from their Salt Lake offices in their “corporate vehicle” and give me a personal tour of their facility. I respectfully and publicly decline their offer. I also ask that they do not donate money to my campaign. I will return it if they do. I do not want to be beholden to a special interest that does not have the best interest of Utah as their objective.

Energy Solutions has a congressman. My opponent has been taking contributions from Energy Solutions even before he became a congressman. It is no wonder that he refuses to sign onto a bill co-sponsored by Jim Matheson to stop foreign nuclear waste from entering into our state. Bishop claims it is a states issue and will not take a position on the Matheson bill. He is dead wrong. I continue to encourage him to take the high road and do what’s right for District 1, Utah, and the rest of our country.

Energy Solutions has their congressman. On November 4th I invite the voters of District 1 to elect a congressman for the rest of us.

S. 3099

Prohibiting Pentagon propaganda.

On Monday, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) introduced S. 3099, a bill that prohibits the Defense Department from using government funds to spread propaganda. The legislation also mandates reports within 90 days from both the Pentagon's inspector general and the Government Accountability Office on the Pentagon's propaganda practices.

In late April, the New York Times exposed a secret Pentagon campaign that embedded 75 military analysts -- many of whom were also employed by defense contractors -- in the nation's news media. Media Matters for America documented that analysts in the Pentagon's program appeared or were quoted in major outlets more than 4,500 times. Yet most of the major networks have failed to cover or follow up on the Times' investigation. The Department of Defense has "temporarily" shut down the program pending an ongoing internal review.
The lack of attention this story gets can be attributed to the media's unwillingness to self-criticize. But the importance of this issue shouldn't be lost on us.

Regardless of who sits in the oval office, we have learned an important lesson with the Occupation of Iraq: it is possible to fool the American public into supporting unnecessary war.

Far from a guarantee of truth, blocking tax dollar funding of propaganda turned inward on voters and elected officials alike is at least a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Little Truth About Gas Prices

As gas prices rise, the confusion over cause and effect becomes more apparent with each debate or discussion of the issue. It's easy (fun even) to point the finger this way and that, but the root of the prices we see at the pump is a little more complicated than "Bush is an idiot" (though he is).

A few of the major factors in today's prices:

1. Demand
Low taxes and prices in the previous decade lead to increased consumption (Hummers!) without a contrasting increase in production. Demand caught up with supply in a way never seen before.

2. Hurricanes
Katrina wiped out a significant portion of our domestic refining capabilities.

3. Political Chest Pounding
You think Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad isn't enjoying the attention Bush and the Neo-Cons are lavishing on him? And you think he hasn't been leveraging that with threats of cutting off supply? And you think this all isn't having an effect on Russia's output? Political tensions abroad - which most definitely include our ongoing presence in Iraq - have a larger effect on the price of a barrel of crude than most Americans realize or most elected officials will admit (insert patented "Reason to Drill in Alaska" or Chris Cannon "Shale Oil Rules!" meme here...It's a horrible short-sighted idea we can argue about later).

4. Free Market Failure
Bluntly stated, OPEC has no reason to address prices, because despite the $130/barrel price tag, they quite literally can't keep oil on the shelves in the global market. And it's not like a competitor is cutting into their market share with an alternative.

There are many other factors that play a role in the price at the pump, but in my understanding, these are the four big league players we are seeing the direct effect of today.

As for solutions? Well, that is where the real debate begins, right?

McCain's Troop Withdrawal "Not Too Important" Comment (Rembering Kerry's Botched Joke)

Where's the outrage?

Host Matt Lauer noted the perception that the “surge is working” and asked McCain if he had a “better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq,” to which McCain replied, “No, but that’s not too important.”

As he has before — such as his oft criticized “100 years” statement — McCain said the length of occupation wasn’t what was important, but the number of casualties US troops suffer.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), a Vietnam veteran, spoke on a conference call convened by the Obama campaign Wednesday morning.

“It is unbelievably out of touch and inconsistent with the needs and concerns of Americans, in particularly the families of the troops who are over there,” he said. “To them, it’s the most important thing in the world when they come home. And it’s the most important thing in the world that we have a Commander in Chief who understands how you can bring them home.”
And if you recall, Kerry himself faced plentiful rebuke from the President, and McCain himself over a botched joke.

I'll of course be waiting for the outrage from Bush, Townhall, Malkin, O'Reilly, et al.

Telco Immunity "Compromise" Being Drafted Behind Closed Doors

Electronic Frontier Foundation:

A new FISA bill is being drafted behind closed doors. Although it may appear quiet on the Hill right now, reports indicate that high-ranking Republicans and Democrats are hoping that a "compromise" foreign intelligence surveillance bill can be rushed through both the House and the Senate before the July 4th holiday -- maybe even next week.

Although details are scarce, one thing is clear: the "compromise" is almost certain to contain blanket immunity for phone companies that assisted in the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program, and prevent any court from ruling on whether they broke the law. Also, the new bill could transfer the cases to the secretive and conservative FISA court, whose only role for the past thirty years has been to sign off on government surveillance requests.

We've stopped telecom immunity in its tracks before, but the empty "compromise" rhetoric surrounding this bill makes it extremely dangerous.
Email (or call) Utah's Federal Delegation and let them know we are still watching.

Read more here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Comcast Refuses to Run FISA Ad Critical of... Comcast.


Two weeks ago, the Blue America PAC submitted ads to numerous cable television stations, newspapers and radio stations criticizing Blue Dog Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa) for his support of a bill to expand dramatically the President's warrantless eavesdropping powers and to immunize telecoms (such as Comcast) which broke the law in enabling the Bush administration to spy on their customers with no warrants. The ads also documented that several of the lawbreaking telecoms which would benefit most from the amnesty Carney advocates donated substantial sums to his campaign (with Comast being the largest such contributor to Carney).

[...] Quite predictably, Comcast's legal counsel, David Silverman of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in Washington DC, wrote an email late last week (here) claiming -- laughably -- that Comcast has decided to reject the ad because it "would face potential liability for any defamation contained in the spot."
Comcasts attempts to block the ad are understandable. Their justification of why is not, nor is the FCC's apparent silence on the issue.

Even if we put aside the horrible precedent granting retro-active immunity creates (despite what Chris Cannon might tell you), and the underexposed illegality of warrantless wiretapping of Americans, there remains the issue of companies like Comcast, Verizon, etc. who provide a large part of the backbone of our popular media, internet access, and general information exchange.

The possible consequences of unchecked self-serving discretion are staggering.

The Invisible Congressman

Via Utah Amicus. A quick look at his website, and it would appear Rep. Rob Bishop just doesn't have much to say.

January 28, 2008!

The update was for a good reason, but quite frankly, I would think that a member of congress would have a bit more to say to his constituents, especially during an election cycle.

But not Mr. Invisible.

The less you hear from him, the better off he thinks he is.

Isn't it time to elect someone who actually wants the job?
This low level of interaction from a Congressman in such a large, eclectic district bodes very well for challenger Morgan Bowen (Who, incidentally, has a blog. That he updates. Daily).

Cannon Hearts Shale Oil

Apparently it's beat up on Chris Cannon's energy policy week here. But he just keeps talking, how could we not? From today's SLTrib:

Riding the public outcry on soaring oil prices, Rep. Chris Cannon is introducing legislation that would allow the president to skip the red tape on permitting oil shale extraction.
It's a move aimed at speeding up what Cannon calls a vast domestic energy source.
Utah, Colorado and Wyoming hold what some oil shale supporters say is a Saudi Arabian-size reserve of synthetic oil in sedimentary rock that can be heated and processed into a fuel source. Six companies are now exploring the ability to extract the oil shale in Utah, but none is close enough to produce a commercially feasible product.
Because the president should be trusted to skip red tape in any case he deems necessary, that's never gone bad before right?

My favorite parts of the article, when Cannon admits no one can turn shale oil into usable oil now, but that this legislation will save you money at the gas pump.
Even if the bill passes next month, Cannon acknowledged no company could immediately start producing enough oil shale in the near future to make much of a difference in gas prices. He says, though, that passing the bill might signal to oil speculators to stop bidding up the price of crude oil if they fear a large, domestic source might be available.
Speculators would still have years to make money before shale oil came on line, so it would be at least that long before we saw any difference in price, but at least Chris tried.

My other favorite, when Mark Udall, Chris's current colleague who's running for Colorado's senate seat (and is looking good so far) chimes in with
Udall slammed Cannon's bill, saying it combines the Carter administration's "crash program" for oil shale and President Bush's "just-trust-the-president" attitude.
"It shows that some people have such a bad case of oil shale fever that they are ready to make Colorado's Western Slope a national sacrifice zone," Udall said. "It's almost a parody of sound energy policy - but, unfortunately, I think its author means every word of it."
Unfortunate indeed.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Energy Choice, Cannon Style

So, Chris Cannon links to redstate (I know, I was shocked too) in order to argue that republicans are better on energy options. Funny thing about those options, they're all fossil fuels. Apparently to Cannon, the only choices we have when it comes to energy is in which form the millions of year old dead thing comes out of the ground. We can choose gas, solid, or liquid.

When it comes to other options, like the kind that aren't polluting, some of which are even renewable, well, Chris doesn't seem to be keen on those. Here's his recent voting history (follow the link to get the details on the bills).

05/21/2008 Alternative Energy Tax Incentives
HR 6049 N Bill Passed - House(263 - 160)

02/27/2008 Energy Bill
HR 5351 N Bill Passed - House(236 - 182)

12/18/2007 Energy Act of 2007
HR 6 N Concurrence Vote Passed - House(314 - 100)

12/06/2007 Energy Act of 2007
HR 6 N Concurrence Vote Passed - House(235 - 181)

08/04/2007 Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007
HR 3221 N Bill Passed - House(241 - 172)

08/04/2007 Renewable Energy Standards
H Amdt 748 to HR 3221 N Amendment Adopted - House(220 - 190)

08/04/2007 Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007
HR 2776 N Bill Passed - House(221 - 189)
Yes that's Chris Cannon (R - Mining) at his finest.