Friday, February 29, 2008

FBI Report Raises New Questions of Saudi Ties to 9/11

FBI report sheds light on altered details of Comm. report:

Newly-released records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request contradict the 9/11 Commission’s report on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and raise fresh questions about the role of Saudi government officials in connection to the hijackers.

Why did the Commission use an alternate source for the whereabouts of the two men, when the FBI’s own timeline said they were in San Diego by Jan. 15, the same day as their arrival in the US?

Paul Thompson, author of the The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11--and America's Response, has been wading through the FBI timeline since its release. His preliminary analysis can be found at the website of the History Commons (formerly known as the Center for Cooperative Research).

Thompson believes that the possible motive for the Commission to alter the dates is to obscure official Saudi ties to the hijackers.

He points to the redaction of the name of a person who is a known employee of a Saudi defense contractor, Omar al-Bayoumi, who lived at the same location.

“We know it’s Bayoumi,” said Thompson, “because after 9/11, the Finnish Government mistakenly released a classified FBI list of suspects that showed Bayoumi living in apartment #152 of Parkwood Apartments.” That information is available here.

“But also important is that it strongly suggests that the hijackers already had a support network in Southern California before they arrived,” Thompson continued.

“In the official version of the story now, the hijackers drift around L.A. listlessly for two weeks before chancing to come across Bayoumi in a restaurant [according to Bayoumi’s account],” Thompson added. “Whereupon he's an incredible good Samaritan and takes them down to San Diego, pays their rent, etc.”

”But from the FBI's timeline, we now know the hijackers started staying at Bayoumi's place on Jan. 15 – the very same day they arrived,” Thompson says. “So obviously they must have been met at the airport and taken care of from their very first hours in the US. That's huge because the FBI maintains to this day that the hijackers never had any accomplices in the US.”

Robert Baer, a former CIA case officer in the Middle East whose See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism became the inspiration for the award winning film Syriana, concurs with Thompson’s view.'s House Speaker Has a Challenger in November

Patrick "IQ Test" Byrne's personal house speaker, Greg Curtis, who you may remember from such legislative genius as the 2007's voter rejected Voucher Bill, held on to his seat in 2006 by mere handful of votes. And it looks like he has a strong challenger for 2008.

Jay Seegmiller will announce on Tuesday, March 4, that he will challenge House Speaker Greg Curtis for District 49.

“It’s time to clean the House,” said Seegmiller.

“More than anyone else, Speaker Curtis is responsible for the way our Legislature functions,” the candidate said. “It’s time to hold him accountable for his leadership style, rules he imposes on a whim that uniformly benefit his cronies, and the privileged access he grants special interests but denies constituents.”

Seegmiller says that he has fought for working people his entire adult life, adding that when elected he will demand fiscal responsibility and stringent oversight of business developers seeking state taxpayer subsidies.
Those who remember the dirty money and dirty tricks of the voucher campaign should have plenty of reason to get behind Seegmiller.

White Collar Fraud: The Mark Shurtleff Tapes

Somehow I missed this comment on the Utah Amicus. The original post was a response to AG Mark Shurtleff's defense of his pay-day loan/Bahama's vacation funders. Sam E. Antar left this information in the comments:

Recently Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff colluded with a campaign contributor and its CEO Patrick Byrne to defame me. is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Patrick Byrne is the admitted target of the SEC probe.

My blog has detailed many accounting irregularities, false and misleading statements, and violations of law by and Patrick Byrne.

I suggest that that you read the following posts on my blog with regards to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff:

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff Panders to Campaign Contributor & CEO Patrick Byrne and Defames Critic

Link here:

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff Caught Lying on Behalf of and Patrick Byrne (Note: Listen to the taped conversation with Richard Hamp and I have other taped conversations with Kirk Torgensen and Hamp not yet published)

Link here:

Open Letter to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff Re: Your lies on behalf of campaign contributor

Link here:

As I wrote in my blog:

“Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's deliberate efforts to defame me on behalf of and its CEO Patrick Byrne have placed a dark cloud on his ethics and integrity as the chief legal officer of the state of Utah…. A legitimate question can be raised as to whether the Chief Legal Officer of the state of Utah by publicly taking the side of after taking their campaign contributions has become a facilitator of the company and has involved himself in the commission of a securities fraud.”


Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon)
Sam's blog itself is an interesting read, but I would definitely like to know what he knows that we don't about our politicized Attorney General.

Listen to Sam's tapes here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

21 Bigots and a Failed Senate

Right on the heals of The Chris Buttars Show, the Utah Senate is once again under the magnifying glass for what appears, for all intents and purposes, to be a collective temper tantrum focused at what, to them, is a challenge to their so adored principles of discrimination and bigotry. And they operate under the illusion that their behavior is sanctioned by the people of Utah. From the Trib:

A bill unveiled Wednesday - sponsored by all 21 Senate Republicans - would doom Becker's newly adopted domestic-partnership registry in the name of preserving Utah's ban on gay marriage.

It also would, the city attorney insists, gut the capital's 2006 adult-designee ordinance, which provides health-care benefits for city employees' domestic partners.

And Sen. Greg Bell, R-Fruit Heights, the chief sponsor, says he was not influenced by Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who said this week that the state has no place "overreaching or micromanaging" local government.

"I obviously disagree," Bell said.

Despite negotiations to narrow its scope, Bell's SB299 is no weaker than the now-banished registry bill written by Buttars, the beleaguered West Jordan conservative. Such is the contention of City Attorney Ed Rutan and Becker, who says both Salt Lake City measures are an attempt "to eliminate discrimination in the city."
Expect next the defense (complete with Sutherland's Paul Mero urging everyone that these people, despite this public display of ignorance, are fine, compassionate folk, as he did for Senator Buttars). Expect a "some of my closest friends are gay" justification. But do not for a second allow any single personal relationship they may cite to excuse prejudicial group attitudes and such pointless legislation. I'm sure these 21 people have many fine qualities. A conviction to defend equality and liberty is not one of them.

And via Third Avenue; evidence they know they are in trouble, with Sen. President John Valentine urging them to lock-down their "communications" (i.e. "make sure it's not in print in case we have to back-pedal").

For more, Amicus and OneUtah also weigh in. And KVNU's Tom Grover illustrates the stupidity of the Senate's reaction.

FISA Fight: Chris Cannon Thinks You're Stupid

Chris Cannon is, predictably, carrying water for Bush's FISA fear campaign, shilling the "Trial Lawyer" schtick in defense of the Protect AT&T Act.

That seems to be the new Majority’s motto. If it hurts trial lawyers, it is bad for America. This latest FISA debate illustrates that perfectly.
This legislation is NOT unconstitutional nor was the original wiretapping program, much to the chagrin of far left types.
Individuals overseas, who are NOT US citizens, have never enjoyed, nor should they enjoy, US Constitutional rights. But if it is up tot he new majority, their trial lawyer friends will have a whole new pool of clients to flock to, and a whole new avenue to clog American courts.
Thank god you're here to protect us from warrants, Chris. Really. Where would we be without you?

In his defense, immunity for these guys is especially important to Chris, because...well, AT&T owns him.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Content Blocking from Comcast

This time, they're blocking public debate (with video):

The hearing was set up to investigate Comcast's recent blocking of the Internet. But Comcast packed the room so that the public couldn't get in to voice their support for Net Neutrality.

Fortunately, we caught Comcast in the act.

Tens of thousands of people have already protested Comcast by writing the FCC a or urging their elected officials to support the "Internet Freedom Preservation Act" a bipartisan bill that would re-establish Net Neutrality protections as a foundation of communications policy.

Utah Senate Candidates: Joe Dulin

Former Herald Journal columnist Joe Dulin has announced his candidacy for state Senate representing Cache and Rich counties. He will run from Logan as challenger to incumbent Lyle Hillyard. Dulin speaks -- via press release -- on his reasons for running at KVNU's For The People blog:

I do not want to continue to send generation after generation of Utah Children off to the lowest funded schools in the country. It is time to move from worst to first. Furthermore, I have lost patience with the Utah senate. With a wink and a nod, they spend our tax dollars to hold hearings that demean and humiliate entire classes of people based on the prejudice and personal insecurities of their proxy, Sen. Chris Buttars. Government is supposed to be of the people, by the people and for the people – and that means all of the people. The selective persecution of groups of people and the use of derogatory racial analogies have no place in my value system or my government. It is time to end this nonsense and get down to business working on the environmental, energy, health care, education and transportation challenges facing this state.
According to the release, Dulin has lived in Cache Valley since 2002, and was educated at both Arizona State and Utah State University. Dulin first made marks in Cache Valley with his column, in which he spoke out on issues such as immigration and tax policy, once comparing the challenges and discrimination immigrants often face to those of Mormon pioneers.

Dulin is a guest on tonight's For The People show. Listen on air or online at 4pm.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

For Chris

Monday, February 25, 2008

McCain Concedes to Presumptive Democratic Nominee

Wow. That was easy.

John McCain said Monday that to win the White House he must convince a war-weary country that U.S. policy in Iraq is succeeding. If he can't, "then I lose. I lose," the Republican said.

He quickly backed off that remark.
Speaking of presumptive nominees, have you Started a Fight today?

CBS Technical "Glitch" or Media Blackout in Alabama?

CBS 60 Minutes report on the Karl Rove/Don Siegelman story meets with strange (and conveniently timed) technical "glitch," effecting only Alabama residents.

As 60 Minutes was putting its show together, the White House put pressure on CBS -- the parent company -- to kill the show. Over the last few days, as word got out that the 60 Minutes show would air tonight, Karl Rove's associates began planting defamatory stories about journalists working on this story (see example here) and attacking the whistle-blower who came forward, Dana Jill Simpson. If you recall, Ms. Simpson testified, under oath, to Congress about Karl Rove's involvement in politicizing the DOJ. What you may not know, however, is that her house mysteriously caught fire and she was run off the road in the weeks leading up to her testimony.

What you may also not know is that Governor Siegelman's house was broken into twice during his trial as was his attorney's office.

Yesterday, the attacks on Simpson and journalists increased with a series of emails from the Alabama GOP. See Here.

Tonight was something truly unseen in US history. During the 60 Minutes broadcast and ONLY during the Don Siegelman portion -- the screen went black for Huntsville residents and Mobile residents. There are other reports of other locations, but I have not yet confirmed those. In Florida, a series of strange ads were running about the FISA bill and how Democrats are not tough on terrorism, apparently during the 60 Minutes hour and also right before 60 Minutes, but not after (still trying to confirm when the ads stopped running).

In other words, in the United States of America, a man is imprisoned for being a Democrat. When reporters attempt to get this story out, they are threatened and smeared. When all else fails, the public is not allowed to see the news.
CBS's claim that the segment blackout was a technical issue is being met with justifiable suspicion. If you have not been following the Karl Rove / Don Siegalman story, catch up here and here.

Ralph Nader: Media Idiot

Let me say first, I have a lot of respect for Ralph Nader. He has proven himself a successful leader on many fronts. Unfortunately, his achievements are now being overshadowed by his apparent desire to play court jester to a spiteful media. Nader deserves respect for the causes he has defended and championed. He is also the creator of one of my favorite political quotes: "A good citizen is not just someone who votes all the time." But any legacy he could claim is now being cheapened in what reads like a desperate quest to fight irrelevancy with his announcement to run again in 2008. From Open Left:

...I do not think Nader's role as a citizen advocate is the reason why his announcement is receiving so much media attention. Nowadays, Nader receives press not because of his work in building up left-wing infrastructure, but rather because he has emerged as a figure who famously divided the left in 2000. If he did not have the ability to anger large numbers of Democrats with his very presence, he simply would not be receiving the coverage he is getting. At this point, it is his role in dividing progressives, not in building them up, that earns him any at all attention from the same pundits that drool over McCain and Bloomberg. The same media outlets that otherwise give scant platforms to progressive viewpoints on op-ed pages and in panel discussions would not be paying any attention to Nader without his newfound role as a destructive figure for the American left.

Progressives who advocate for the kind of things Nader advocates have long since been shut out of the corporate media. With few exceptions, they are only allowed back in when they serve non-progressive agendas. Nader is not receiving media deference for his political accomplishments in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's, but rather for his "accomplishments" in the 2000 election. Nader's announcement buzz is a helpful reminder of how many media outlets, reporters, and pundits still find progressives most useful as part of a "Democrats divided" or "progressives in disarray" narrative. As the downfall of Nader has shown, we play along with that permanent media narrative at our own peril, and to the great overall detriment of the progressive movement. Casting yourself in the role of the media idiot progressive can seriously damage the life's work even of a one-time giant like Nader.
Sit down, Ralph. Please.

The Chris Buttars Show

Episode 216: Buttars goes to church. From the podium of Cavalry Baptist Church::

"All I can do," Buttars said, "is say I'll beg your forgiveness. It was wrong. It was stupid. And I ask, if it's possible, forgive me."

It was the senator's most direct and public effort thus far to reach out to the black community since calls for his resignation following a Feb. 12 comment Buttars made regarding a bill that he opposed: "This baby is black, I'll tell you. It's a dark, ugly thing."

Buttars had met privately with the Rev. France Davis and other church leaders for about an hour on Thursday for a frank discussion on the topic of race, and Davis told his congregation that he invited Buttars to come to the church Sunday.

Early in the service, Davis invited Buttars to the front of the church, where the senator said he meant no offense by his "terrible remarks."

"I knew as soon as I said it, that it was a horrible remark," he said, but insisted he never meant it in reference to a person. "All I can do is say I'm sorry."
Arguably Senator, that is not all you can do. Using a place of worship as a political tool to save your sinking career is even more evidence that you are unfit as a Senator. And you've still yet to address this, and this.

There is much more you can do, Chris. Your continued "service" is an embarrassment to the state. Resign.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Internet Sattelite

Japan has launched an experimental satellite the end result of 12 years of research. If successful, the 2.7 ton satellite will allow high speed internet access, even in remote mountain locations.

The KIZUNA, equipped with three antennas targeting Japan, Southeast Asia and the Pacific regions, is referred to as the Wideband InterNetworking engineering test and Demonstration Satellite or WINDS.

The geostationary satellite will be used to conduct experiments on large-volume, high-speed data communications on remote mountains and islands with little Internet access.

Japan's scientists say the 52.2 billion yen ($490 million) launch of WINDS will help the country build one of the world's most advanced information and telecommunications networks.
Meanwhile, here at home...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fox News Poll

Ah, the Jerry Springer of cable news. Fox News poll:

FOXNews: (yes, it goes there)

Who is Usama Rooting For?

Who does Usama bin Laden want to be the next president? More people think the terrorist leader wants Obama to win (30 percent) than think he wants Clinton (22 percent) or McCain (10 percent). Another 18 percent says it doesn’t matter to bin Laden and 20 percent are unsure

Of course, it makes perfect sense that bin Laden would want a Muslim to be the next President of the United States of America. Of course the results of this poll are suspect because al Qaeda already called Obama to congratulate him earlier this week! /snark off

It’s going to be a long year…

I am embarrassed for them.

Strait of Hormuz Incident: Why Isn't Congress Concerned?

Mother Jones

The lone voice of congressional concern appears to be Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs. Last fall, his committee held a series of hearings examining the tense relationship between the U.S. and Iran, including the possibility that a minor melee—quite like the one in the Strait—could trigger an accidental war.

"The recent incident in the Strait of Hormuz underscores the need for means to be developed to prevent inadvertent armed escalation between the U.S. and Iran," he says, adding that "incidents involving Iranian speedboats are not unforeseeable.... We've known about these tactics for many, many years." He notes that his subcommittee will continue to investigate "conflict de-escalation mechanisms that should be in place in order to ensure that our country does not fall into an armed conflict that would not be in our national security interests."

But the possibility of an accidental war is somewhat tangential to the matter at hand. The real question is whether key details of the Hormuz confrontation were distorted by the Pentagon.

And evidence suggests that they were.
Read the entire article here.

McCain's Real Love-Affair: Lobbyists

Maverick, huh?


SBC Communications.





Land O'Lakes.

UST Public Affairs.


Fannie Mae.

General Motors.

United Technologies.


Goldman Sachs.



Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

The Saudis.

Southwest Airlines.


Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America.

St John McCain has FIFTY-NINE federal lobbyists, representing these and other companies, raising money for and working on his campaign.
Even more ironic considering the "outsider-reformer-maverick" rhetoric the media has adopted per Saint McCain, is the man the campaign sent out to defend McCain after the NYT story press conference, professional lobbyist Charlie Black. Meet Charlie Black.

Friday, February 22, 2008

You Are All Missing The Point

Not you, reading now. That is just what I wanted to shout at my teevee when I finally found time tonight to read this mythical John McCain article (which turned out to be kind of... eh...). I guess you could call it reporting. WaPo's was marginally better. See, I think we worry so much about what other people are doing with their genitalia that often we can't see the forest for the trees.

I know everyone with a copy of O'Reilly's Culture War or Hannity's... well, whatever the hell he called that latest lump he shilled as a "book" believes to the very core of their soul that The New York Times, Ye Olde Grey Lady, is a commie-pinko rag just waiting to undermine the republic with government handouts and (gasp!) civil-rights, but I'm not sold myself. Don't get me wrong, I'd love for them to be the Fox News of liberalism, but my one eyebrow is still raised from all of that Judith Miller "Hey Let's Start A War, That'd Be Fun" reporting of Aught-3. So while I'd love to welcome the Times to our subversive socialist agenda, I'm just not quite convinced.

Notwithstanding, today's revelation that some people once saw John McCain talking to a woman that wasn't his wife -- twice! -- wasn't very impressive. But hidden amidst the innuendo and journamalism was a very important bit of information that has been water-boarded into submission by headlines like CNN's "New York Times, Smear or Vicious Smear?!" Ready, here it comes...


I don't care what they did with each other's hoo-haws, if anything. (In fact, that's creepy, he's 104, don't tell me that stuff.) What I care about, and what all voters should care about, and what the media is supposedly employed to care about is that here is Mr. Straight Talk, Mr. I-Don't-Take-Money-From-Special-Interest Himself cavorting about the country in a leer jet in a verified orgy of lobbying. And let me tell you, I doubt she was there for the Geritol Spritzers.

That's what the headlines should have read, and that is what the Times should have focused on.

But that's just me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

So Called "Right Wing" Blog

Though I disagree with everything they write, I subscribe to Human Events, Townhall, our own local Sutherland Institute, and many many more like these, as a means of staying informed. I don't believe one can actively combat ideology without understanding where those ideologues are getting their information.

I had this in mind after I spoke with a friend this morning who chided me for refusing to include a regular dose of Fox News in my daily skimming of the right-wing, and in explaining I realized something I thought was a juvenile reaction to bad journalism on my part is actually very important.

Where we get our news is as important as where we give our contribution dollars, volunteer time, or even the voicing of our opinions to family and friends. Admit it or not, your information intake effects your judgment and your perspective, especially if your intake is limited to one or two sources.

My problem with Fox News is not the message they convey, or their obvious politics. That is, as a see it, the right of every American, including Rupert. What I object to is that they represent themselves as an organization whose first priority is to inform the public. I have argued, and I think successfully, that regardless of political bent, if a person were to watch only Fox News, they would remain hopelessly misinformed, or at the very least completely unaware, of real world events. I do not chastise Fox for their leaning, but for their pretense of journalistic integrity.

My concern is that most people still have the attitude that the teevee and newspapers will tell us what we need to know, and they rarely do just that (I'm looking at you Joe Cannon). One must dig, and expose oneself to a multitude of perspectives and reports in order to gain an understanding or informed opinion. Most people do not have this time, so they do what they can. And unfortunately, for many, that might consist of 30min of news when the time exists. Well, what if someone where to get their 30min of news consistently from only Fox News for a year? Obviously, they would be grossly misinformed, and then, as it their right, they would go vote.

My problem with Fox News is that they do not call themselves what they truly are. A business with an agenda, and ideology, and a large audience.

But to my surprise, I found something today that is, to me, very encouraging. Buried in the comments of the "NYT is A Communist Rag" (I exaggerate) story on their main "news" page (I say "news" because the Washington Post ran the same story, but Fox only finds it newsworthy that the Times ran in? Hmmm...) was this nice little missive:

Comment by ExT
February 21st, 2008 at 4:07 pm


you come TO a so called “right wing blog” and then act indignant when you “discover” that we are all not a bunch of LIBS…GET OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

if you think that fox news is the only source us “right wingers” then your one DUMB MOFO

the larry sinclair story is real but you don’t want to talk about that…DO YOU

I'm not agreeing with the sentiment, the grammar, or the spelling, but it was encouraging nonetheless. Obviously, the message of what Fox News really is has finally trickled all the way down. This comment was not left on a blog, or a forum, but rather as a comment on a front page "news" story at one of the most prominent "news" organizations in our country. And it's good to see the message is finally settling in.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The End of Conservatism?

Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria, in his most recent column, provides a contrasting view to what many (including myself until recently) feel has been the obstacle hindering popularity of conservative ideas and policies with today's voters. Most conservatives feel that the Republican Party has abandoned true conservative values, and have thus paid a political price. Zakaria argues that they are indeed paying a price for ideology, but not for straying from it. He argues, rather, that the country has simply moved on.

Conservatism grew powerful in the 1970s and 1980s because it proposed solutions appropriate to the problems of the age—a time when socialism was still a serious economic idea, when marginal tax rates reached 70 percent, and when the government regulated the price of oil and natural gas, interest rates on checking accounts and the number of television channels. The culture seemed under attack by a radical fringe. It was an age of stagflation and crime at home, as well as defeat and retreat abroad. Into this landscape came Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, bearing a set of ideas about how to fix the world. Over the next three decades, most of their policies were tried. Many worked. Others didn't, but in any event, time passed and the world changed profoundly. Today, as Frum writes, "after three decades of tax cutting, most Americans no longer pay very much income tax." Inflation has been tamed, the economy does not seem overregulated to most, and crime is not at the forefront of people's consciousness. The culture has proved robust, and has in fact been enriched and broadened by its diversity. Abroad, the cold war is won and America sits atop an increasingly capitalist world. Whatever our problems, an even bigger military and more unilateralism are not seen as the solution.

Today's world has a different set of problems. A robust economy has not lifted the median wages of Americans by much. Most workers are insecure about health care, and most corporations are unnerved by its rising costs. Globalization is seen as a threat, bringing fierce competition from dozens of countries. The danger of Islamic militancy remains real and lasting, but few Americans believe they understand the phenomenon or know how best to combat it. They see our addiction to oil and the degradation of the environment as real dangers to a stable and successful future. Most crucially, Americans' views of the state are shifting. They don't want bigger government—a poll last year found that a majority (57 percent) still believe that government makes it harder for people to get ahead in life—but they do want a smarter government, one that can help them be safe, secure and well prepared for political and economic challenges. In this context, conservative slogans sound weirdly anachronistic, like watching an old TV show from ... well, from the 1970s.
While I disagree with his conclusion in the column that McCain's popularity is a result of embracing "new thinking" (McCain's Foreign, Tax, and 90% of his domestic policies are hardly "new thinking"), I think he may be onto something as far as the future of conservative politics.

Unbelievably Counterproductive


Fox News's Special Report yesterday:
GOLER: The president says it's better that African nations deal with African problems. White soldiers in Darfur, he believes, would be targets for all sides.

BUSH: A clear lesson I learned in the museum was that outside forces tend to divide people up inside their country and are unbelievably counterproductive.
The museum was the Rwandan genocide museum.
Cough, Cough.

The "Hello Kitty" Kalashnikov AK-47 AKM Assault Rifle (Hannah Montana Carry Case Not Included)

Isn't this cute. Wisconsin gun supplier is painting guns like toys. How could this not be a good idea?

"If somebody points it at an officer, he could hesitate," Bryan Soller of the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police told CNN, "in which case he could get shot or, even worse, the officer could react and take the life of a child."

Sgt. Manny Mendoza of the San Bernadino County Sheriff's Department in Barstow, CA warned that "now we’re at the point where anything that looks like a gun, no matter what color, is considered a firearm, and we will act accordingly to defend ourselves and the public."

Jim's Gun Supply of Baraboo, Wisconsin, which boasts on its website that "we adhere to the highest legal and ethical principles in the conduct of all aspects of our business," primarily offers the customized guns in camouflage patterns. However, it also provides a selection of items in shocking pink, including one with a Hello Kitty logo on the stock, as well as other garish and historical replica designs.
I'm fairly neutral on gun control. I am a gun owner, and support other gun owners. Conversely, I do not believe for a second that more people with guns would have stopped a single school shooting or lunatic in a clock-tower. I can see the need for reasonable regulation. And this story, to me, wreaks of complete irresponsibility.

Comments: The Chris Buttars Retirment Fund (UPDATED)

Thanks to Meg for having this idea, and for the tip/off in yesterday's comments.

Behold the

Chris Buttars Retirement Fund.

Also, via Wonkette, the story is finally getting some national attention.

: From his interview with the Trib: "How do I know what words I'm supposed to use in front of those people?"

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Chris Buttars, The Delicate Fragile Flower of the Senate

Get yourself a T-shirt:

According to a Trib story, Chris Buttars has a box of T-shirts in his office bearing the slogan "We Support Chris Buttars," intended for distribution to his buddies at a Wednesday rally. This whole "hate lynch mob" thing has really gotten him down, as lynch mobs are wont to do, so, as a little pick-me-up, he's organizing a rally for himself.

It's a great idea, though; couldn't we all use a rally every now and then? It's kind of like throwing yourself a surprise birthday party or sending flowers to yourself at work.

Still, how can it be that Buttars doesn't know what a lynch mob really is? Phone calls? E-mails? People calling him names? Please. What a sensitive, delicate little flower he is. Trouble is, he can dish out the hate, but he can't take it. Poor blossom.
Yes folks. A rally to support him. Perhaps a counter rally would be a good idea? We wouldn't have our own t-shirts, but perhaps we could compensate in sheer numbers? Email us if interested.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Logic

"Terrorists want to undermine our system of laws and democracy, so we have to undermine our system of laws and democracy to protect you from terrorists."

TDS Blogger Roundtable: "Swing Voters Vs. Mobilizing the Base"

The Democratic Strategist begins another week long blogger "round-table" today with an introductory post by TDS Editor Ed Kilgore. The continuing topic will be the value of winning over "swing voters" as opposed to mobilizing a more loyal bloc of "base" voters.

To cite the most simplistic versions of a common argument, in one narrative of recent Democratic electoral performance, Bill Clinton broke the party’s long presidential drought by intelligently targeting swing voters. His successors, Al Gore and John Kerry (along with congressional Democrats in most cycles between 1994 and 2006), failed to completely follow the Clinton template. Republican abandonment of swing voters (politically and substantively) led to the big Democratic midterm victory of 2006.

A competing narrative suggests that Clinton’s pursuit of swing voters alienated the party base, blurred essential distinctions between the two parties, and forfeited the Democratic majority in Congress and in the states, while failing to produce a presidential majority. Gore and Kerry failed to match Bush’s relentless efforts to energize the Republican base, and Democratic fretting over swing voters made the party a weak and ineffective opposition party. That finally changed in 2006, when a netroots-led mobilization effort based on maximum partisan differentiation produced a Democratic counterpart to the base-driven Republican landslide of 1994.

It’s notable that each narrative diverges sharply over interpretation of the 1994 debacle, the 2000 “draw,” and the 2006 breakthrough. And there is naturally (though not universally) a strong ideological underpinning to the debate, with those on the party’s "left" typically disparaging swing-voter-focused campaigns and governing strategies as unprincipled and disloyal, and those in the "centrist" camp often arguing that base-focused campaigns cede critical ground to the GOP and make effective governing impossible.
Kilgore parses the history of "swing voter" strategies and the converse tactics of speaking more to the party base, and how each has effected past elections. Well worth the read. Upcoming "round-table" posts continue each day this week, with contributions from OpenLeft and Dailykos bloggers, as well as political organizer Robert Creamer, Northeastern University political scientist William Mayer, and members of the Democratic Leadership Council.

CATO Institute on FISA: Congress Ignores Fear-Mongering. World Doesn't End.

Following the expiration of the Protect America Act, and a rare show of backbone from Congress, the Cato Institute's Timothy Lee weighs in on President's politics of fear-mongering for telco immunity. From the CATO Institute blog:

The Bush administration can initiate new terrorist monitoring activities after the PAA expires. It just has to get a FISA warrant, the same way it did in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. Indeed, Bush himself praised the changes Congress made to FISA in the wake of the September 11 attacks, noting that they “will allow surveillance of all communications used by terrorists, including e-mails, the Internet, and cell phones” and makes the intelligences community “able to better meet the technological challenges posed by this proliferation of communications technology.” If we were able to get by with those provisions for nearly six years, surely we’ll be OK living under them again for a couple of weeks.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Top 14 Technology Challenges of the 21st Centruy

The U.S. National Academy of Engineering has published their consensus listing of the top 14 technology challenges that, if met, they believe will most improve our quality of life. Raw Story:

The committee did not attempt to include every important challenge, members said, nor did it endorse particular approaches to meeting those selected. Rather than focusing on predictions or gadgets, the goal was to identify what needs to be done to help people and the planet thrive.

"We chose engineering challenges that we feel can, through creativity and commitment, be realistically met, most of them early in this century," said committee chair and former US secretary of defense William Perry.

"Some can be, and should be, achieved as soon as possible," he added.

The committee decided not to rank the challenges. But their list includes making solar energy affordable, providing energy from fusion, managing the nitrogen cycle, providing access to clean water around the world, reverse-engineering the human brain, preventing nuclear terror and securing cyberspace among others.

NAE is offering the public an opportunity to vote on which one they think is most important and to provide comments at the project Web site:
My pick; "reverse engineer the human brain."

Friday, February 15, 2008

FISA Fight: House Intel Chair Writes Bush a Letter

Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence writes a letter to Bush regarding his statements on FISA and national security. Here it is, in it's entirety:

Dear Mr. President:

The Preamble to our Constitution states that one of our highest duties as public officials is to "provide for the common defence." As an elected Member of Congress, a senior Member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I work everyday to ensure that our defense and intelligence capabilities remain strong in the face of serious threats to our national security.

Because I care so deeply about protecting our country, I take strong offense to your suggestion in recent days that the country will be vulnerable to terrorist attack unless Congress immediately enacts legislation giving you broader powers to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans' communications and provides legal immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the Administration's warrantless surveillance program.

Today, the National Security Agency (NSA) has authority to conduct surveillance in at least three different ways, all of which provide strong capability to monitor the communications of possible terrorists.

First, NSA can use its authority under Executive Order 12333 to conduct surveillance abroad of any known or suspected terrorist. There is no requirement for a warrant. There is no requirement for probable cause. Most of NSA's collection occurs under this authority.

Second, NSA can use its authority under the Protect America Act, enacted last August, to conduct surveillance here in the U.S of any foreign target. This authority does not "expire" on Saturday, as you have stated. Under the PAA, orders authorizing surveillance may last for one year – until at least August 2008. These orders may cover every terrorist group without limitation. If a new member of the group is identified, or if a new phone number or email address is identified, the NSA may add it to the existing orders, and surveillance can begin immediately. We will not "go dark."

Third, in the remote possibility that a new terrorist organization emerges that we have never previously identified, the NSA could use existing authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor those communications. Since its establishment nearly 30 years ago, the FISA Court has approved nearly every application for a warrant from the Department of Justice. In an emergency, NSA or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may begin surveillance immediately, and a FISA Court order does not have to be obtained for three days. The former head of FISA operations for the Department of Justice has testified publicly that emergency authorization may be granted in a matter of minutes.

As you know, the 1978 FISA law, which has been modernized and updated numerous times since 9/11, was instrumental in disrupting the terrorist plot in Germany last summer. Those who say that FISA is outdated do not understand the strength of this important tool.

If our nation is left vulnerable in the coming months, it will not be because we don't have enough domestic spying powers. It will be because your Administration has not done enough to defeat terrorist organizations – including al Qaeda -- that have gained strength since 9/11. We do not have nearly enough linguists to translate the reams of information we currently collect. We do not have enough intelligence officers who can penetrate the hardest targets, such as al Qaeda. We have surged so many intelligence resources into Iraq that we have taken our eye off the ball in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a result, you have allowed al Qaeda to reconstitute itself on your watch.

You have also suggested that Congress must grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies. As someone who has been briefed on our most sensitive intelligence programs, I can see no argument why the future security of our country depends on whether past actions of telecommunications companies are immunized.

The issue of telecom liability should be carefully considered based on a full review of the documents that your Administration withheld from Congress for eight months. However, it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to say that we will be vulnerable unless we grant immunity for actions that happened years ago.

Congress has not been sitting on its hands. Last November, the House passed responsible legislation to authorize the NSA to conduct surveillance of foreign terrorists and to provide clarity and legal protection to our private sector partners who assist in that surveillance.

The proper course is now to conference the House bill with the Senate bill that was passed on Tuesday. There are significant differences between these two bills and a conference, in regular order, is the appropriate mechanism to resolve the differences between these two bills. I urge you, Mr. President, to put partisanship aside and allow Republicans in Congress to arrive at a compromise that will protect America and protect our Constitution.

I, for one, do not intend to back down – not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.

We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won.


Silvestre Reyes
Member of Congress
Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Superdelegates: Let The Voters Decide

I received an email from the Obama campaign today asking me to share my story as to why I support an Obama nomination. My story, it said, would then be forwarded to a superdelegate.

Let me be honest, I normally delete campaign email quickly. That's me. I do support an Obama nomination, but my interests in this campaign have been on how the campaigns are organized, and the excitement of seeing headlines like "Record Voter Turnout" in my morning newspaper, and in general I do not respond to or find myself motivated by generic campaign messaging (color me jaded).

But today, after reading the "Share Your Story" email today, I shared my story. I understand it is in Obama's interest to oppose non-elected superdelegates' allegiances in his bid to secure the nomination, as the popular vote seems to be going his way. But I argue to all Democrats reading this that -- Clinton and Obama supporters alike -- it is also in our best interest to do the same.

The nomination should be decided by a majority of citizen voters. Simply. Pledged delegates and caucus results are bound to this public majority. Superdelegates are not.

At risk here is something larger than not seeing your preferred candidate become the nominee. The turnout of this disagreement risks undermining the voice of millions of voters, activists, volunteers, and donors. In short, the fundraising and activist coalitions that have been built that will further a Democratic majority in the future, strengthening the party with each election won, are hanging in the balance.

The mere possibility that the voice of the electorate could be stifled by a party insider decision is frightening. The severity of disenfranchisement that such an outcome would produce could be more damaging to the Democratic Party than a loss in 2008 could ever be. It was best said in a similar email I received from Democracy for America:

This is not about Senators Clinton or Obama. This is about who chooses the Democratic Nominee. Should it be the 20 million Democratic voters so far and the millions more yet to vote? Or should it be the less than 800 party insiders?

We believe the answer is obvious. Let the voters decide.
Speak up. Share your story, and sign the Voters Decide petition. And while you're at it, tell CNN to tell the truth about how the superdelegates function inside of the party.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

McCain Steals Clinton Campaign Slogan

Taken from the McCain for President website.

Matt Y:

This raises the possibility that McCain's campaign team is just lazy. After all, they can't be bothered to out-organized Mike Huckabee even though he's got no money and no machine support. Maybe all they do all day is hang back, look at which Democrat is leading in the polls, and rip off the other one's campaign themes. Mac is Back, in ur base rippin off ur narrativz.

Undisclosed Location Blogging

I'm stealing the idea from Eschaton of course, but sometimes a change of venue and a nice view give you that extra umph to get what you need to done for the day.

Contempt of Congress, FISA and Republican Walkout

As the House began it's debate on the contempt of congress charges for Miers and Bolton this morning, Republicans interrupted repeatedly, saying the debate was wasting time when they could be passing a FISA bill that gives immunity to telco's (this, one day after the extremely important Clemens MLB hearing?)

As the debate moved to FISA, the President held a press conference outside of the White House, reminding us that if telco's don't get immunity, terrorists will kill your Grandmother.

Debate grew heated as Republican's repeatedly stated that if the Protect America Act were not in place, we are all going to die, with Democrats reminding the body that the FISA Act still in place even if PAA expires gives the intelligence community all the authority it needs to continue existing surveillance.

Finally, in what can only be described as a temper tantrum, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) took the microphone, spoke briefly about the importance of national security, then to the surprise of everyone from Steny Hoyer (waiting as the next to speak) to the body president, Boehner called for a refusal to vote and a walkout. Chanting something I didn't catch, Republican representatives left the floor before the contempt vote. Democrats are continuing the vote without them.

Right now, Boehner is on CSPAN prattling on about the tragedy of "political stunts," and "embarrassing political activity" after initiating himself a rarely used political stunt that came across as embarrassing political activity. I believe he may be giving the defunct Giuliani campaign a run for it's money on 9-11 references, though, so you have to give him that. To top all of this off, Matheson and the Blue Dogs are still fighting over each other to be the first to kiss the President's behind, selling out our civil-rights in the process.

Your Congressional Day Care in action, folks. Give 'em a hand.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

KVNU's For The People Tackles FISA

KVNU's For The People led the way tonight by introducing the FISA debate into our local politics while the rest of Utah's media seems relatively oblivious to the importance of this issue.

Listen to Wednesday's FISA show here. Listen nightly from 4 to 6pm here.

We owe For The People our support for having this discussion and many others, and for conducting the debate in such a way that all sides have the opportunity to weigh in.

It has been frustrating this issue is getting so little attention here, especially when every other Utahn I talk to is a self described Libertarian or "Small-Government" Republican. This issue effects us all, and is as much a civil-liberties issue for Liberals and Libertarians as it is a limited-government argument traditional Republicans should be engaged in (and opposed to).

Read more about the FISA Fight -- which has now moved from the Senate to the House -- here and here. And support For The People. Tom and Ryan are doing much to raise the discourse bar by continually addressing the issues that are (or should be!) important to us all.

UPDATE: House standing Strong for Now:

OH NOES THEY MIGHT HAVE TO GET A WARRANT. Which they can get retroactively.

FISA Fight: Bennett Lies, Matheson Sides with Republicans

Matheson's Blue Dogs can't wait to get in line for giving Bush everything he wants on the house FISA bill. Again.

Some House Democrats were prepared to support immunity, regardless. In a Jan. 28 letter, 21 Democrats in the conservative Blue Dog Coalition sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., supporting immunity and listing other provisions that they believed were needed in a FISA bill.

They wrote that the Senate bill "contains satisfactory language addressing all these issues, and we would fully support that measure should it reach the House floor without substantial change."
And Bob Bennett contradicts the truth on the bill that just passed through the Senate (and I do me passed through) stating in a press release yesterday:
I am glad this issue is finally settled in a way that protects our country's national security while respecting Americans' civil liberties.
Sounds good, doesn't it? The only problem is that the bill that passed the Senate and now sits in the House awaiting the rubber stamp of Matheson and his Bush Dogs does nothing to protect Americans' civil liberties. The original FISA legislation protected civil liberties in requiring a warrant for surveillance -- a warrant that could be obtained 72 hours after the surveillance occurred even. This bill from the Senate, propped up by Harry Reid in an amazing show of weakness and lack of leadership, was produced with one goal in mind; exploit Anerican fears a terrorist attack in order to produce legal coverage for telecommunications companies who have broken the law at the request of the White House.

We should be outraged, yet this is barely hitting the airwaves here in Utah. This behavior from Bob Bennett is predictable, tragically, but Jim Matheson owes Democrats in Utah an explanation for the Blue Dog letter to Pelosi, and his intended failure to stand up for our civil-liberties. He needs to hear from us.
Phone - (801) 486-1236
Fax - (801) 486-1417

Democrats, this is a civil-liberties issue. Small-government Republicans, this is an issue of an over-reaching administration and invasive policy. There is no excuse for any Utahn to accept our representative's capitulation to the President over FISA, and their protection of the telco's over that of our liberty.

Sign the petition telling the House to leave retroactive immunity for telco's out of the FISA bill.

Comcast Defends Throttling Music/Video Downloads

Comcast entered the FCC debate yesterday to defend their practice of "metering" or "throttling" broadband traffic. WaPo:

Comcast compared its practices to a traffic-ramp control light that regulates the entry of additional vehicles onto a freeway during rush hour. "One would not claim that the car is 'blocked' or 'prevented from entering the freeway; rather it is briefly delayed," the company's statement said.

Marvin Ammori, the general counsel for Free Press, said Comcast's behavior is the second major example of an service provider overstepping its authority in an attempt to quash competition. In March 2005, the FCC fined Madison River Communications for blocking calls by competitor Vonage, which provided free calls over the Internet.

Ammori said that by interfering with video transfers, Comcast is trying to protect its television and On Demand video services.

BitTorrent said Comcast should respond by increasing bandwidth on its networks and upgrading its systems rather than limiting how customers use its service.

"It's like putting a Band-Aid on the problem to achieve a short-term fix," said Ashwin Navin, co-founder and president of San Francisco-based BitTorrent.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass) plans to introduce legislation today through the telecommunications and internet subcommittee preventing "unreasonable interfering" by providers in network traffice and application preference. Markey's bill would be the first bill in 2008 to address the Net Neutrality issue.

More on Net Neutrality here.

The Religious Left

I came across this earlier today and thought I would one day work it into a larger post on Utah voting habtis and our current crop of representatives. After reading it over again this evening, I realized I have nothing to ad. I just found it an interesting perspective.

Those of us on the left or liberal side need to resist the temptation to turn Jesus into the Eugene Debs or Franklin Roosevelt of antiquity. His mission was primarily spiritual, and Christian salvation claims are more than a promise of a more egalitarian society or a wiser form of government. But I do believe that Christians (and this applies to followers of the Jewish tradition as well) have the task of calling the world -- and ourselves -- to account in the name of higher standards than any government or economic system typically achieves. Religious people should be hard to satisfy.
First on the list of things you shouldn't be satisfied with: Chris Buttars, Racist.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Payday Loans Target Elderly, Disabled Vets

Don't tell the Attorney General! From the Wall Street Journal

One recent morning, dozens of elderly and disabled people, some propped on walkers and canes, gathered at Small Loans Inc. Many had borrowed money from Small Loans and turned over their Social Security benefits to pay back the high-interest lender. Now they were waiting for their "allowance" -- their monthly check, minus Small Loans' cut.

The crowd represents the newest twist for a fast-growing industry -- lenders that make high-interest loans, often called "payday" loans, that are secured by upcoming paychecks. Such lenders are increasingly targeting recipients of Social Security and other government benefits, including disability and veteran's benefits. "These people always get paid, rain or shine," says William Harrod, a former manager of payday loan stores in suburban Virginia and Washington, D.C. Government beneficiaries "will always have money, every 30 days."

The law bars the government from sending a recipient's benefits directly to lenders. But many of these lenders are forging relationships with banks and arranging for prospective borrowers to have their benefits checks deposited directly into bank accounts. The banks immediately transfer government funds to the lenders. The lender then subtracts debt repayments, plus fees and interest, before giving the recipients a dime.
Utah's AG Mark Shurtleff has spoken out several times in defense of Utah's payday loan proprietors, who paid for his most recent trip to the Bahamas.

Wasatch County: Are You Content?

As we near the deadline for candidate filing, Rudi Kohler, Wasatch County Democratic Chair, gives a shout out to Wasatch County residents interested in working for change (via Utah Amicus):

On the County level, voters should consider their positions regarding the following questions. Are you happy that the rural character of the valley is being preserved through land use ordinances? Do you feel that enough emphasis has been given to the valley’s recreational opportunities for both children and adults? Do you believe that our leaders are focused on developing the quality of our existing retail and commercial areas or creating laws which will permit more commercial zones? Are you content that the economic development occurring in the valley is to create high paying positions for existing residents or more low paying jobs for new residents or outsiders? Do you believe that our elected officials are acting without conflicts of interest or supporting policies that are leading to tax increases?

On the state level, have the incumbents supported your positions on educational quality, teacher compensation, vouchers, city incorporation, healthcare, guest worker issues, the environment, privatization of public recreational facilities, conflicts of interest, gifts to public officials and scores of other issues?

If you think your elected leaders are doing a fine job, by all means show them your support in November should they run again. If not, perhaps it is time for you to step forward and declare your candidacy. If you wait for someone else to do it, you risk that either no one will or whoever does may not be closer to your position than the incumbent.
According to Kohler, four of seven council positions open up this year, as well as two at the state representative level

Steve Farrell, County at Large – Seat B
Mike Kohler, Midway –Seat E
Kipp Bangerter, County South – Seat G
Kendall Crittenden, Heber South – Seat D

Mel Brown of Legislative District 53 (only precinct 11 in Wasatch County)
Gordon Snow of Legislative District 54 (remainder of Wasatch County)

And he writes:
At the moment, neither the above six Republicans or any opponents from either party have formally announced their candidacy in 2008. This is not unusual in that the deadline for filing is March 17 and candidates rarely announce before then. This brings us back to the central point of serving in a democracy. It is possible that these six individuals truly represent the wills of most County residents and should be returned to office if they wish to run again. It is also possible that the incumbents do not represent the beliefs of the taxpayers and need to be replaced.
Utah faces unique circumstances this year. As political winds shift nationally, we have drawn the spotlight of both party organizers and presidential candidates through record Democratic voter turnout in the primary. National issues of corruption within the GOP have also raised our level of expectation and examination of our local elected officials. Too often, people aren't fond of what they find. This is creating a desire for reform within our local political systems, which in turn is generating momentum for Democrats in a state most known in recent years for continued Redness as the rest of the nation turns Blue.

There is no doubt that 2008 is the year for change, but as Kohler begins his call for candidates,
Democracy has few requirements on the lives of average citizens. It is possible for John or Mary Q. Public to go through life without ever voting or even being aware of the issues that affect his or her life. Awareness and voting, however, are not sufficient for democracy to exist. In order to vote, there must be someone to vote for.
If you are interested in becoming a candidate in Wasatch County, or even just toying with the idea, contact Rudi Kohler via the Party Builder Network, or by phone or email:
Phone: 435-654-3401

Monday, February 11, 2008

Start Fighting Now - Utah (ActBlue Fundraising)

From the Act Blue Start Fighting Now national fundraising page (via my inbox):

The Republicans have their nominee. Time and time again, this is where Democrats are most vulnerable: we take months to select a nominee, and we fight divided against a unified Republican voice.
The hardest, the biggest, the most important fight right now is the fight for the White House.

Now more than ever, we don't just need people to send checks. We need everyone to start working on building a war chest for the Democratic Nominee, by building pages and asking their friends for help and by starting to fight today for victory in November.
Using The SideTrack ActBlue page, we have created a Start Fighting Now - Utah campaign to bolster the national efforts. This could be a great opportunity for bloggers and activists to not only promote the eventual Democratic nominee and the Democrat war-chest for the general election, but also for us to show that Utah has an important role to play still in the Presidential elections.

Email friends, family, co-workers, or complete strangers this page where they can contribute quickly and easily. Then email them again! Or if you prefer, create your own Start Fighting Now page via ActBlue. One way or another, help us get the word out and the donations coming in.

Feel free to make a nuisance of yourself, we'll be right there with you. We're talking the next leader of the free world here. So don't be shy. Pester. Urge. Poke. Prod. Then do it all again. Any amount of money from any number of donors makes a difference, as ActBlue has demonstrated for Democrats time and time again.

Our nomination may still be up in the air, but the need for a Democrat in the White House is not. Give. Fight. Win.

(For those interested, drop us an email and we'll send you the donation widget code)

The Bush/McCain Surge

As McCain inches closer to a lock on the GOP nomination, he also continues to embrace the Surge strategy, taking credit for supporting the administration from day one. No longer touting just the cheap rugs in the market squares, where he was able to shop last spring unperturbed but for the flack vest and battalion of security forces and air cover, McCain would have us cast a vote for him in November for having the foresight to back Bush and the surge, in all of it's glory. FDL:

If McCain wants to take ownership of the surge, he should also be held responsible for all the consequences of the broader strategic choice the surge represented. Whatever the surge may accomplish in Iraq -- and it still looks like a highly risky gamble to have armed over 60,000 disaffected Sunni militants -- it's clear the surge has come at the expense of deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In pleading the case for more NATO troops in Afghanistan, the Administration is now undermining NATO, our most important security alliance. Gates publically insulted our NATO allies, essentially calling some of them cowards for avoiding combat in Southern Afghanistan. Last week, the Administration divided its time between lecturing our allies on their security and importuning them to save us from the fact we don't have enough troops left to send ourselves.

The Iraq surge's costs in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere will continue to play out through the election. But the media, focused more on Petraeus' Iraq statistics, rarely describes the surge decision as a strategic choice between very different policy alternatives with important consequences outside Iraq.

The American people, however, are proving to be smarter than the media. Despite the claims of success, large majorities still want us out. They understand there is a cost to America's security from Bush/McCain's open ended commitment to Iraq, and now they're making the connection between the massive costs of our occupation and the neglect of America's economic security. The latter topic would be the one McCain concedes he doesn't fully understand. No kidding.

Say it with me now; Democratic Majority 2008. Foresight indeed, John.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

This One Slipped Through The Cracks Over The Weekend

But someone's famous.

In a political geek kind of way, but still.

Bush Endorses Barack Obama

Christmas comes early for Obama. Nothing could be more exciting for a candidate, during a drawn out primary battle, than an attack on his foreign policy from the architect of the greatest foreign policy failure in US history.

Last night, GOP chairman Mike Duncan put out some statements on Obama'ss wins, including this line on the Louisiana primary: "If he wins the nomination, Barack Obama’s liberal positions and thin record of experience will prevent him from being our nation’s Commander in Chief. Recent elections have proven that voters in Louisiana want strong Republican leadership – not liberal inexperience – and it will be proven once again this November."

And this morning on Fox, President Bush himself echoed the attack, adding the (also familiar) hint that we don't know enough about Obama.

"I certainly don't know what he believes in. The only foreign policy thing I remember he said was he's going to attack Pakistan and embrace Ahmadinejad," Bush said.

Of course, attacks from the other party can elevate a candidate in a primary, and Obama eagerly engaged, sending Bush's words to reporters with a rejoinder.

"Of course President Bush would attack the one candidate in this race who opposed his disastrous war in Iraq from the start. But Barack Obama doesn't need any foreign policy advice from the architect of the worst foreign policy decision in a generation," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.
Congratulations, Senator.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Not Enough Britney on your TeeVee?

No worries. Bush has a plan.

This week brought the news that once again, President Bush has proposed deep budget cuts for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which supports public stations across the country. In previous years, Congress has heard overwhelmingly from their constituents and restored this funding...
If this seems to you like dej√° vu all over again, you're not alone. This is the eighth straight year that Bush has tried to de-fund public broadcasting, but this year the proposed cuts are the deepest ever. Even Patricia Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee who now serves as the President of CPB, has called these cuts "draconian."

More and more, the free press that is so essential to our democracy is controlled by a shrinking number of mega-corporations. Never has it been more essential to have a publicly funded, noncommercial media outlet that provides thoughtful rather than partisan news and won't waste our time covering Britney Spears...
If you enjoyed the media obsession with Anna Nicole Smith, and don't value the news you found online or from independent sources while CNN, MSNBC, and Faux News were analyzing Britney's manager's dating habits, then this subject is not for you.

But for those who value educated voting, informed decision making, and a real understanding of world events as opposed to what we're spoon-fed by the media, support Public Broadcasting by contacting your representatives and signing the CREDO petition.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Rightroots Money Bomb

It's no secret that online activism and grassroots campaigning have taken hold much earlier and far more with effectively with the Progressive movement than with the Right-wingers, but it is still something of a jolt to see just how divergent the results of online efforts can be.

Since February 5th, the Obama campaign has generated over $8 million in contributions, and proudly touts a year-to-date record of over 300,000 separate donors. Clinton is rumored to be near the $10 million from 35,000 separate donors (since the first of the week, no less). Both Obama and Clinton are showing an amazing ability to generate money easily from online contributions, even after much has already been given throughout 2007.

On the other end of th spectrum, Rightroots, attempting a campaign similar to ActBlue, organized the "F7" event this week, the premise being on February 7th, all donors push money into the Republican nominee's coffers in a massive money bomb. And bomb it did. According to the Redstate ticker, they achieved 32 donors, totaling $2,646.

I point this out not to poke fun (although you have to admit, it is funny), but more illustrate the fundraising potential of an organized grassroots campaign, and an engaged electorate.

Mittens! Greatest Hits

As we flounder in our newfound Mittlessness, Mittens! himself tells us he is withdrawing for our own good. If he stays in, the terrorists win! But lets take a look at the real threat to America and the Romney campaign. His mouth:

"Well, I'm not concerned about the voters."
Mitt Romney, asked to tell Florida voters how much of his own fortune he had spent on his campaign there, January 24, 2008.

"We also love a president who has kept us safe these last six years."
Mitt Romney, January 3, 2008.

"He voted against the Bush tax cuts. That's failing 'Reagan-101.'"
Mitt Romney, attacking John McCain, December 22, 2007.

"My life experience convinced me that Ronald Reagan was right."
Mitt Romney, January 8, 2007.

"I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush; I'm not trying to return to Reagan-Bush."
Mitt Romney, during run for U.S. Senate, 1994.

"People were saying, 'It was like George Washington,' 'It was the Gettysburg Address.'"
Ann Romney, on her husband's speech on Faith in America, December 6, 2007.

"I think some people see Guantanamo as a source of America's arrogance, and I see it as a source of America's resolve."
Mitt Romney, June 5, 2007.

"My view is, we ought to double Guantanamo."
Mitt Romney, May 15, 2007.

"This university, its students, its alumni and the faculty serve as an example of Dr. Robertson's dedication to strengthening and then nurturing the pillars of this community and our country: education, fellowship, and advancement."
Mitt Romney, speech at Pat Robertson's Regent University, May 5, 2007.

"When it comes to spiritual matters, the Mormons are far from the truth."
From a page on Pat Robertson's CBN web site titled "How Do I Recognize a Cult," 2007.

"In France, for instance, I'm told that marriage is now frequently contracted in seven-year terms where either party may move on when their term is up. How shallow and how different from the Europe of the past."
Mitt Romney, May 5, 2007.

"He's going to pay, and he will die."
Mitt Romney, on Osama Bin Laden, May 3, 2007.

"It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."
Mitt Romney, on Osama Bin Laden, April 26, 2007.

"It's possible. It's entirely possible."
Mitt Romney, on whether Iraq WMD's had been moved to Syria, May 7, 2007.

"Well, it's a setting that's almost a null set. Which is, if we knew that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, and if he had complied with the United Nations resolutions to allow IAEA inspectors into his country, we wouldn't be having this conversation."
Mitt Romney, asked by Sean Hannity if he would have supported war in Iraq knowing what he knows now, May 8, 2007.

"Well, the question is kind of a non sequitur, if you will. And what I mean by that -- or a null set -- and that is that if you're saying, let's turn back the clock and Saddam Hussein had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors and they'd come in and they'd found that there were no weapons of mass destruction...we wouldn't be in the conflict we're in."
Mitt Romney, asked by Wolf Blitzer if he would have supported war in Iraq knowing what he knows now, June 5, 2007.

"I'm not in favor of his religion by any means. But he wrote a book called 'Battlefield Earth' that was a very fun science-fiction book."
Mitt Romney, naming Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's book as his favorite novel, April 30, 2007.

"Every issue that we're talking about in this race that's of a domestic nature, I dealt with as the governor of Massachusetts. And so on the issue of abortion, for instance, I came down on the side of life consistently as governor in every way I knew how I could do that."
Mitt Romney, January 24, 2008.

"While I've said time and again that I oppose abortion, I've also indicated that I would not change in any way the abortion laws of Massachusetts, and I've honored my promises."
Governor Mitt Romney, 2005.

"I promised that if elected, I'd call a truce - a moratorium, if you will...I vowed to veto any legislation that sought to change the existing rules...I fully respect and will fully protect a woman's right to choose."
Mitt Romney, running for Governor of Massachusetts, 2002.

"He's been a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly."
Michael Murphy, Romney advisor, 2005.

"I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I've been a hunter pretty much all my life."
Mitt Romney, April 3, 2007.

"I'm not a big-game hunter. I've made that very clear. I've always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then. More than two times."
Mitt Romney, April 5, 2007.

UPDATE: Satirical Political suggests Mitt's next flip-flop.

(h/t C&L)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Conservative Intellectualism: Running Out of Agenda

In The Repudiation of Rove, Harold Meyerson argues that McCain is the philosophical heir of Barry Goldwater, and his rejection by GOP insiders speaks to the death of the movement:

With his preemptive war and seemingly permanent occupation in Iraq, and his attempt to privatize Social Security, George W. Bush pushed American conservatism past the point where the American people were willing to go—pushed them, in fact, to the point where they recoiled at the conservative project. And with that, American conservatism shuddered to a halt. In the 2005-06 congressional session, Republicans still controlled both houses of Congress, yet they introduced no major legislation.

This exhaustion of conservatism has been apparent all along in the Republican presidential contest, where the chief point of agreement among the leading candidates has been to make permanent both the Bush tax cuts for the rich and our occupation of Iraq. The conservative agenda has been winnowed down to supporting what remains of Bushism. That's not only a losing formula for November, it also means that intellectually, conservatism is running on empty.

Huckabee's legions have their own cause—a pious populism that doesn't have much sway in urban areas. But consider what animates conservatives' support for Mitt Romney. It's not that they have warmed to his shifting agenda or his elusive charisma. They simply hate John McCain, who threatens their cosmology by waging a campaign that does not put them at the center of the political universe. That, certainly, is what animates Rush Limbaugh and the right-wing talkocracy, who feel their power ebbing with each McCain success.
I think he's on to something. More on this later.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Over $5 Million Since the Close of Polls, and Record Turnout

It's a small amount of money in light of what was spent by each candidate leading up to Super Tuesday, but this news from the Obama campaign is still impressive.

This, from The World According to Me, is even more so:

1992 Party-run Primary: 31,638 total votes
1996: Bill Clinton Unopposed
2000 State-run Primary: 15,867 total votes
2004 party-run primary: 34,854 total votes

Total votes cast in Democratic primaries from 1992-2004: 82,359

Votes cast in 2008?


Arming Iraqi Street Gangs

The Surge is Working! The Surge is Working!

There is growing concern that local militias now allied with the U.S. are turning their guns on each other as the U.S. prepares to pull back its presence. These groups have been tasked with pacifying some of the most restive corners of Iraq - contributing to the measure of stability enjoyed by the country in the last few months. "We're paying them and training them so they're effective," says Lawrence Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, of America's new partners, many of whom are former insurgents. But there are signs that these groups, called Concerned Local Citizens (CLCs) by the U.S. military, are already turning on each other in competition for territory. "There is some inter-militia fighting," said John Jones, State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team leader for Diyala province.

Jones, who was visiting Washington last month, says that the fighting has "by and large" not entangled coalition forces in hostilities. But what concerns officials is how to keep the CLCs in line as the U.S. presence recedes.
These concerns find light of day right on the heels of this announcement from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, that Bush and his failed policy have taxed our military beyond reasonable limits.
"The well is deep, but it is not infinite," Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We must get Army deployments down to 12 months as soon as possible. People are tired."

Mullen's stern warning swiftly became political fodder for anti-war Democrats, who want legislation requiring that troops start coming home from Iraq immediately. Democrats also want legislation that would require soldiers and Marines spend more time at home between combat tours. The Pentagon objects to both proposals, contending it would tie the hands of military commanders.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Mullen's testimony "confirms our warning that the war in Iraq has seriously undermined our nation's military strength and readiness, and therefore our national security."
We have spent billions purchasing a temporary security with local insurgents, over-burdened our military with chasing violence from one Iraqi province to the next without political headway being made by Iraqi leadership, and now we are faced with a forced withdrawal of troops as, quite simply, our military resources run out, all while we continue posturing with Iran, the country we are positioned to most influence to create real stability in the region, and doggedly refusing to acknowledge our continued presence does nothing but put our soldiers at risk.

Ingenious. What will he think of next?