Easter Lemming Liberal News

Monday, June 30, 2003

Rigidity and Moral Stupidty


Wow, I wrote an essay, better note this because I don't do it often. Edited, corrected impeach (bring charges against) to remove from office.

Orson Scott Card wrote an essay called Moral Stupidity I really objected to. I posted my response in their forum, a little after a longer criticism of the illogic of the polemic which is at top. Let's see if it gets me bounced. I also sent it without a couple of edits as an essay but doubt it will be published that way.


Orson Scott Card was a fine writer whose novels often examine moral themes. I treasure Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead as well as respecting his more recent Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. Unfortunately his recent essay "Moral Stupidity"is a political polemic that indicates an avoidance of facts.

I'll just ask the following questions:

1. Mr. Card said "Israel hasn't been targeting helpless civilians."

Fact - AP 6/24 - Israel knew that the wife of a senior Hamas militant was with him when it decide to kill him, but went ahead with the airstrike anyway, the air force commander said Tuesday.

In July, an air force F-16 dropped a one-ton bomb on the house of Salah Shehadeh, leader of the Hamas military wing, in Gaza City. Shehadeh and a Hamas activist were killed, along with Shehadeh's wife and 16 other bystanders, among them nine children.

So why doe Card think the Israeli Air Force morally superior to a suicide bomber?

To me it seems they both know they might kill a military target and don't mind innocent bystanders also being killed. It is hard to find any instance of Israelis killing opposition leaders when they do not kill bystanders as well if not instead.

2. "Take the case of Jenin."

OK, I will. Fact - the most objective analysis I found: ABC News 4/26 - It is not clear that the U.N., or anyone else, is capable of conducting an impartial analysis of Jenin or the other areas of intense fighting over the last few weeks.

The fact is, however, that urban warfare is probably the most difficult single form of warfare, and potentially one of the bloodiest. It is also the form of war that politicians, human rights activists, and media are least likely to understand and most likely to condemn.

Looking at the initial videotapes of the fighting, the problem may also have been compounded by poor discipline within the IDF. This kind of close fighting leads to a breakdown in fire discipline even with the best troops.

The fact the IDF was not fighting a uniformed opposition made things worse; any civilian was a potential combatant. Younger Israeli troops and officers also seem to increasingly be willing to trash what they occupy and to try to "punish" their enemy.

Are these undisciplined troops what Card is pointing to as an example of Israeli restraint?

3. Clinton and "dirty tricks"

There was no impeachable offense, there was no slander by Clinton, for every instance of Democrat dirty tricks, (he did not even give one), I can give you a GOP example.

Clinton wasn't removed from office, the American people didn't want him to be, when will Card get over it?

4. Florida

If there had been a statewide recount Florida would have been won by Gore using either Florida law as previously defined by the Florida Supreme Court or, even more appropriate, Texas rules which require a hand count of every ballot to look for the intent of the voter. They had a majority of cast ballots despite a GOP get-out-the-days-late-vote campaign to urge military to mail in ballots after the election was over and action by the President's brother and a campaign manager to illegally strip 90,000 residents of the right to vote because their name or address or birth date was similar to a felon's.

Which of those actions is Card supporting? Having no statewide recount, encouraging people to break the law, or stripping citizens of the right to vote? How would Card feel if he couldn't vote because he had a similar name as a felon in his county?

I admit Gore wasn't the best candidate but the GOP had no respect for the law.

5 Supreme Court

The Constitution gives to the states, not the Supreme Court, the power to conduct elections as long as it doesn't contravene any articles in the US Constitution. The tortuous logic the five Justices applied in the Florida case is directly opposite their previous rulings. GOP Justices wanted the election over and their candidate to win.

Why does Card think the five justices said this decision should not be a precedent for any other case unless it was that they couldn't support their ruling?

6 "How many of the press hold their feet to the fire and demand to know exactly who they think was stealing what?"

Exactly, when the riot lead by Republican operatives closed down the Dade county recount where was the press? According to the Wall Street Journal, most riot members inside the building were "Capitol Hill aides on all-expenses paid trips, courtesy of the Bush campaign.” Where has the press been on anything connected to Bush?

Does Card think the Wall Street Journal some liberal propaganda rag? Does he really disagree with O'Reilly that there is now a conservative media in this country?

7 "A Democratic Party that had any honor at all would not be filibustering judicial appointments, making a mockery of the President's constitutional authority to appoint federal judges with the approval of a simple majority of the Senate."

What history has Card read?

Ahem, "In the early years of Congress, representatives as well as senators could use the filibuster technique. As the House grew in numbers, however, it was necessary to revise House rules to limit debate. In the smaller Senate, unlimited debate continued since senators believed any member should have the right to speak as long as necessary.

"In 1841, when the Democratic minority hoped to block a bank bill promoted by Henry Clay, Clay threatened to change Senate rules to allow the majority to close debate. Thomas Hart Benton angrily rebuked his colleague, accusing Clay of trying to stifle the Senate's right to unlimited debate. Unlimited debate remained in place in the Senate until 1917. At that time, at the suggestion of President Woodrow Wilson, the Senate adopted a rule (Rule 22) that allowed the Senate to end a debate with a two-thirds majority vote -- a tactic known as 'cloture.' "

http://permanent.access.gpo.gov/lps12426/www.senate.gov/learning/brief_13.html

Does Card not know every Senator had the right to Filibuster and even a two/thirds cloture vote was not in the Constitution?

More importantly, what recent history has he forgotten?

How is the Democrats blocking 3 judges worse than Republicans under Orin Hatch blocking a staggering and unprecedented 167 of Clinton's judicial nominees?

8 Democratic Party Attacks

Rather than answer these attacks on the honor and integrity and patriotism of Democrats I will ask a question of my own? Where is the honor and integrity and patriotism of the GOP?

Did Card write anything in the last elections when GOP draft dodgers launched an attack on the patriotism of Democratic combat veterans?

Did Card write anything comparing the Bush's military desertion and substance abuse record when the GOP was attacking Gore's skimpy service record in Vietnam?

Why has Card given Bush a free pass on all the lies?

If Card thought Clinton should be removed from office for lying about sex how does he feel about Bush lying to get America to support a war?

9. "While the Palestinian people are constantly lied to, are never given a chance to make up their own minds about anything, and if any Palestinian leader dares to disagree, he's in line for assassination."

Sorry, it seems the Palestinian leaders who dare to disagree with Israel are in line to be assassinated or kidnapped. There are too many examples to choose from.

Does Card think it more dangerous for a Palestinian leader to disagree with Arafat - or with Sharon?

10. "Let's not blame the victim."

Absolutely, unfortunately the Likud Party seems like a victim of childhood abuse and now that they have power can only recycle the violence they received.

Does Card think supporting the violence by one side but not the other is going to bring peace?

11 "But as far as I'm concerned, those who find moral equivalence there are simply confessing that they not only know nothing of either ethics or history, but that they are determined not to learn.

When was the last time Card tried to learn something from both sides of an issue instead of reading and listening to only his shrill partisan voices?

Is intellectual dishonesty, moral rigidity, and authoritarianism the response of all adults who made a choice that the good their religion provides counterbalances the lies it tells?




This Imperial President - Time For Impeachment?


Arthur Schlesinger Jr -- Abraham Lincoln long ago foresaw the constitutional implications of the preventive-war policy. On Feb. 15, 1848, he denounced the proposition "that if it shall become necessary to repel invasion, the President may, without violation of the Constitution, cross the line, and invade the territory of another country; and that whether such necessity exists in given case, the President is to be the sole judge."

Lincoln continued: "Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion . . . and you allow him to make war at pleasure. . . . If to-day, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us' but he will say to you 'be silent; I see it, if you don't.'

"The Founding Fathers," Lincoln said, "resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us."

What do our GOP Leaders say:

Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Illinois):
“There is a visibility factor in the president's public acts, and those which betray a trust or reveal contempt for the law are hard to sweep under the rug...They reverberate, they ricochet all over the land and provide the worst possible example for our young people.”

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin):
“The truth is still the truth, and a lie is still a lie, and the rule of law should apply to everyone, no matter what excuses are made by the president's defenders…We have done so because of our devotion to the rule of law and our fear that if the president does not suffer the legal and constitutional consequences of his actions, the impact of allowing the president to stand above the law will be felt for generations to come…laws not enforced are open invitations for more serious and more criminal behavior.”

Steve Chabot (R-Ohio):
“It would be wrong for you to tell America's children that some lies are all right. It would be wrong to show the rest of the world that some of our laws don't really matter.”

Steve Buyer (R- Indiana):
“I have also heard some senators from both sides of the aisle state publicly: I think these offenses rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. Now, to state publicly that you believe that high crimes and misdemeanors have occurred but for some reason you have this desire not to remove the president -- that desire, though, does not square with the law, the Constitution, and the Senate's precedents for removing federal judges for similar offenses.”

Rep. Lindsey Graham (R - South Carolina, Now Senator):
“The president of the United States sets atop of the legal pyramid. If there's reasonable doubt about his ability to faithfully execute the laws of the land, our future would be better off if that individual is removed. And let me tell you where it all comes down to me. If you can go back and explain to your children and your constituents how you can be truthful and misleading at the same time, good luck.”

These, of course, are just a few examples. It is likely that most of those who voted to impeach Clinton are on record as to the high ethical standards they were following. Certainly, they must follow these same standards when considering Bush’s egregious lies and the consequences of those lies. It is time to draft the Articles of Impeachment and let those who oppose them state why this case deserves more leniency than was given to former President Clinton.



The Do Nothing Strategy: An Expose of National Progressive Politics

If you feel frustrated and think Americans are losing ground on issues like the right to choose safe and legal abortion, environmental protection, electing more progressive women to public office and civil rights - you're right. The reason: The Do Nothing Strategy that infects many national, progressive organizations today. The Do Nothing infection has broader implications for American democracy, liberty and justice because it allows right-wing viewpoints, by default, to dominate public policy.
...
While at Fifty plus One I was asked to lobby on the issue of so-called "partial birth" abortion. After looking briefly at the legislation proposed in Maryland it was clear that the way legislation was written, it could ban all abortion. The Maryland legislation had language similar to laws that passed in more than 30 states and in the U.S. Congress. It's been eight years since the anti-choice movement first introduced "partial birth" abortion legislation in the U.S. Congress and state houses across the country, it is still not recognized as a carefully crafted, national strategy to ban all abortion.
...
Time and again we were asked by editors across the nation, where we had been for the preceding two years and why they hadn't been informed of the reality of this legislation previously by national pro-choice groups. We were battled to a near stand still from within the pro-choice movement. Even today, eight years later, as a so-called "partial birth" abortion ban passed the U.S. House and Senate, most pro-choice groups still have not learned how to accurately portray this issue, but instead prefer to debate the issue on the erroneous, graphic terms offered by anti-choice advocates, as though it proposes to ban a particular type of late-term abortion procedure. The anti-choice minority is actively working to ensure that the long-term consequence is an end to safe and legal abortion.
...
But these national pro-choice groups couldn't stop the press from writing about the issue. Judy Mann of the Washington Post wrote an article in 1998 on the issue entitled, "Partial Birth Abortion Bans: The Big Lie," in which she said, "The very clever antiabortion movement has pulled a fast one. Laws passed in 28 states, ostensibly banning "partial-birth abortions" in the last term of pregnancy, are so vaguely worded that they, in effect, could ban abortions throughout pregnancy." She continued, "Most of the abortion rights movement have been slow to catch on to this. The courts, thankfully, have not."

At the end of the conversation after learning about the realities of this bogus legislation, Judy Mann asked me, "I just have one question for you, where have you been?" I answered by saying simply, "You wouldn't believe where I've been."

Karyn Strickler demonstrates that on abortion rights, on electing more women, and on protecting endangered species the conservative DO NOTHING strategy of the large progressive national organizations is losing. What can you do about it:

Develop an honest, simple, compelling message around your issue. Your message can make or break you. Combine education, an uncompromising legislative strategy with an unflagging electoral strategy and an unflinching enforcement plan and you have a winning strategy. Organize locally, move swiftly and decisively when the time is right. Beware and rage against The Do Nothing Strategy. Create progressive political reality. Act! Do it as though your life depends on it.

Unite behind smart and simple action organizations.



UK to Join Canada in Legalizing Gay Unions

The Guardian -- Legal boost for same-sex partners heralds social revolution

The government will today unveil a social revolution giving same-sex partners legal rights, which will make them married in all but name. The changes will give gay and lesbian couples rights over pensions, inheritance tax, property, social security and benefits which have long been taken for granted by married heterosexual people.

They will also take on responsibilities, and one partner may face paying alimony to the other in the event of the legal partnership being dissolved.

The government's plans, to be published in a white paper today, were drawn up by the former equality minister, Barbara Roche, who describes them as "one of the most significant policy reforms that we've had".



BBC will present fresh details to support its claim that Blair exagerated

The BBC will present fresh details about how the Iraqi weapons dossier was allegedly "sexed up'' by Downing Street and accuse Alastair Campbell of giving "inaccurate'' evidence to the official inquiry into the affair.

Publication of the claims, in the next 48 hours, will reignite the unprecedented row just as the Blair Government appears keen to damp it down. According to senior sources, the corporation has decided at the highest level not to give in to the relentless pressure from the Government.

Unlike here in the US, the UK media has been hounding the Blair government over the Iraq lies. This has lead to counterattacks by the goverment on the media. It has also lead to Blair not being believed by a majority of the British public.



Bush's Vulnerabilities and the Seeds of Progressive Revival



Cracking the Conservatives

Over the past two years, the United States has witnessed a staggering reversal of fortune. We've gone from peace and prosperity to war and recession. We've suffered the worst act of terror on US soil ever, the most costly stock market collapse ever, the biggest corporate crime wave since the Gilded Age, the most severe trade deficits. States and cities are suffering from the largest fiscal crisis in over 50 years. And we've gone from record budget surpluses to record deficits overnight. American families pay the price for this. Wages are declining; unemployment is rising. Health care is broken. Retirement plans are shattered. Schools are laying off teachers and shutting down after-school programs. The cost of college is soaring. More and more Americans are struggling simply to make ends meet.

Bush and his movement conservatives have no solutions to these problems. Their mantra, of course, is smaller government, lower taxes, strong military, traditional values. But our government is already the smallest of any industrial nation, our taxes the lowest, our military the strongest, our people among the most devout. We've already been there and done that.
...
We need a big argument about the course this country's on -- and Democrats would benefit most from forcing it. Do we want a smaller government dominated by corporate lobbies, or one that is on your side? Do we want to free up corporations and CEOs, or empower workers and support small investors, consumers and the environment? Police the world alone or return to the polices that made this country strong -- alliances, international law, sharing the burdens and seeking to be a source of hope and not of fear? A society where each is on his or her own, or where families gain vital security in an economy of increasing flux, starting with health care, education and training, and retirement security? Do we want a corporate-defined trade policy that ships good jobs abroad while racking up unsustainable deficits, or balanced trade that will spread the blessings of the global economy?

Robert L. Borosage is a founder of the Campaign for America's Future
Web site: www.ourfuture.org.




Bush, Looking to His Right, Shores Up Support for 2004

"The Republicans are looking at decades of dominance in the House and the Senate, and having the presidency with some regularity," Mr. Norquist said. "So if this year the tax cut isn't the one we wanted — no biggie. There's a sense that we can afford to wait."

New York Times

Bush, Texas hard right.




TAP: Morning After. by Seth Green


Have conservatives forgotten September 11?

It's an article of faith among neoconservatives that world opinion doesn't matter. But yesterday on NBC's Meet the Press, GOP strategist Mary Matalin took this idea one step further. Defending the Bush administration's foreign policy, she specifically celebrated worldwide hatred of the United States as a sign of how strong George W. Bush's leadership has been. "[Bush] has been a leader," she argued, "and he has been a leader erring on the side of security for America, not on the side of being loved around the world." Apparently Matalin thinks it's a credit to Bush that he has no regard for world opinion. What's more, she wants Americans to believe that worldwide anger toward the United States is a barometer of just how principled Bush's foreign policy has been.

Yet the real story is exactly the opposite. Growing worldwide resentment of the United States has been prompted by Bush's practices, not his principles. Europeans, of course, overwhelmingly share American values of security, freedom and democracy. And a survey by the Pew Research Center released in December 2002 indicated that majorities in France and Germany supported the removal of Saddam Hussein. While these countries may have been less willing than the United States to use their own forces to bring about regime change in Iraq, they likely would have allowed America to apply its military might with little resistance. But after Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld chastised Germany for keeping company with Libya and Cuba in opposing the Iraq War -- and others in the administration implied that Europe was doing Hussein's bidding -- anti-war demonstrations in Europe attracted unprecedented crowds.

American forces are traversing Iraq in search of elusive weapons of mass destruction while doing nothing to meet our most basic security needs at home. Emergency responders such as police officers and firefighters are woefully unprepared for a major terrorist attack, much as they were on Sept. 10, 2001. Hatred of the United States today is greater than it was then -- and despite Matalin's insistence to the contrary, that's not a good thing. For the last 21 months, GOP loyalists such as Matalin have sought to silence any reasonable criticism of the Bush administration's war on terrorism by asking, "Have you forgotten September 11?" Perhaps Americans need to start asking Bush the same question.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Liberal Signs of Life


Eric Alterman in The Nation -- Just about the only thing liberals have going for them these days is that most Americans agree with them on the issues. This is partly due to the annexation of the Republican Party by its Taliban faction. It is also likely a product of the relative conservatism of today's liberals, present company included. Today, "liberal" is just another word for "not nuts." Don't go around invading countries that do not pose a threat and lie to the world to justify it; don't destroy the nation's fiscal health in order to give trillion-dollar gifts to the wealthy; don't gratuitously insult countries whose help we need to maintain world peace and security; don't shred the Constitution at every opportunity, etc., etc.

Why, then, if liberals are speaking little more than consensus common sense, do they seem to be in danger of political oblivion? Well, lots of reasons actually, but a big one is a right-wing opinion media that treats these principles as if they derived from The Communist Manifesto. Report on dissension about Iraq between Republicans and military men, and you're treated as the vanguard of the antiwar movement. Do the math on a tax cut geared to multimillionaires, and you've declared "class warfare." Mention that Bush is neglecting "homeland security" while bin Laden remains at large, and you're giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

and more...




Poll -- Blair no longer trusted and should quit


Yahoo News AFP -- Most British voters say Prime Minister Tony Blair is no longer trustworthy, and more people want to see him quit than want him to stay on, according to a poll just released.


Blair's ruling Labour party is running neck and neck with the opposition Conservatives on 35 percent, according to the Mori poll of 1,007 adults for the News of the World tabloid newspaper.

Half of those questioned agreed Blair was doing a good job as prime minister in difficult circumstances, but 46 percent wanted him to go while 45 percent believed he should stay.

On the question of trust, Blair was backed by 36 percent but doubted by 58 percent.



Orson Scott Card Commits 'Moral Stupidity'

Orson Scott Card whose novels are often full of moral questions seems to be losing his grip on reality.

This essay bashing Palestinians, Democrats and liberals has several problems in structure, logic and facts.

I am late to going to my father's in Trinity about 100 miles away for lunch but when I come back I hope to have an essay on this.

How would you answer this polemic?




AlterNet: 10 Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq

LIE #1: "The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program ... Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment need for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons." – President Bush, Oct. 7, 2002, in Cincinnati.

FACT: This story, leaked to and breathlessly reported by Judith Miller in the New York Times, has turned out to be complete baloney. Department of Energy officials, who monitor nuclear plants, say the tubes could not be used for enriching uranium. One intelligence analyst, who was part of the tubes investigation, angrily told The New Republic that, "You had senior American officials like Condoleezza Rice saying the only use of this aluminum really is uranium centrifuges. She said that on television. And that's just a lie."

LIE #8: "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets." – Secretary of State Colin Powell, Feb. 5 2003, in remarks to the UN Security Council.


FACT: Putting aside the glaring fact that not one drop of this massive stockpile has been found, as previously reported on AlterNet our own intelligence reports show that these stocks – if they existed – were well past their use-by date and therefore useless as weapon fodder.

and EIGHT more.

Only Ten Lies? Yeah, they wanted short bullet points.



Kurtz - Media Notes


WashPost -- Last year, Dean was buoyed by a successful appearance on "Meet the Press." This week, Dean is widely viewed as having belly-flopped on "Meet the Press." Tim Russert pressed him on Social Security, gay marriage, his son's arrest, his lack of enthusiasm for the toppling of Saddam Hussein and why he was able to go skiing after flunking a physical for military service.

How Dean handles this new level of scrutiny will largely determine whether he sinks or swims.

Here's a more upbeat take, from Dean's blog:

"The MoveOn vote is behind us; two great speeches have been delivered; Howard Dean has made Letterman twice in a row and led Inside Politics for two days straight. . . . there is a sense of incredible momentum gathering behind this campaign, and we have the opportunity now to truly push Howard Dean into the front of this race."

USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro gives Dean his due:

"Consider: In the past six months, Howard Dean has transformed himself from an ego-powered dreamer into an enthusiasm-fueled candidate on par with his established Democratic rivals. Yes, other maverick candidates such as Jimmy Carter (1976), Gary Hart (1984) and John McCain (2000) have surged out of nowhere to upend a presidential race. But never before has a play-by-his-own-rules insurgent made a dash like Dean's so far in advance of the primaries."

In the Los Angeles Times, Ron Brownstein sees a possible nightmare scenario for the Dems:

"The fund-raising drive that will bring President Bush to San Francisco and Los Angeles today could ultimately give him the largest financial advantage in recent presidential politics and provide Republicans an opportunity to reshape the map of national elections.

"Bush is working to raise at least $170 million for a primary campaign in which he's virtually certain to face no significant opposition. At the same time, the Democrats face the prospect of a highly competitive nomination fight that could leave their nominee strapped for cash when it is resolved, analysts in both parties say."



The Dean Internet Campaign


Washington Post -- For six months now, former Vermont governor Howard Dean has been running an ever-expanding grass-roots campaign online, raising millions of dollars and bringing 128,000 passionate cybersupporters to his underdog presidential campaign.

Political experts and academics ... see the effort as a unique test case of the new power of online grass-roots politics and whether armchair techno-supporters can make a difference for a back-of-the-pack candidate.

"Our theory is that we are experiencing the 'perfect storm of democracy' today for this to work, "said Trippi, Dean's campaign manager. "It's the confluence of the right candidate, the growth of the Internet and our willingness to give up control and allow people to organize themselves. . . . It's a bottom-up approach -- the way this country was built."




Welcome to the Machine

One Party For America?

If today's GOP leaders put as much energy into shaping K Street as their predecessors did into selecting judges and executive-branch nominees, it's because lobbying jobs have become the foundation of a powerful new force in Washington politics: a Republican political machine. Like the urban Democratic machines of yore, this one is built upon patronage, contracts, and one-party rule. But unlike legendary Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, who rewarded party functionaries with jobs in the municipal bureaucracy, the GOP is building its machine outside government, among Washington's thousands of trade associations and corporate offices, their tens of thousands of employees, and the hundreds of millions of dollars in political money at their disposal.



Tensions on redistricting, Looming Battle In Austin


Even as they hopped across Texas to listen to the public on the contentious issue of redrawing the state's congressional boundaries, Texas lawmakers were girding themselves for what they expect to be an especially bitter special session that begins Monday.

Republicans say they have every right to tinker with the boundaries in a heavily Republican state that still sent 17 Democrats to Washington — but only 15 Republicans — in the 2002 elections.

Democrats say the current districts already heavily favor Republicans and that the GOP has some explaining to do on why its candidates couldn't win 2002 congressional elections in five districts that voted Republican in statewide races by margins ranging from 56 percent to 68 percent.

At least two Democrats must vote with the Senate's 19 Republicans for a Senate bill to move forward. That has resulted in charges by Democrats that Perry is engaging in political blackmail by dangling offers of support for important local projects to peel off Democratic votes.

The main bait, Democrats claim, is the prospect of funding badly needed medical school complexes in El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley, both in Senate districts held by Democrats.

Some 70 people, about half of the crowd that attended the Laredo hearing, signed up to give their views Saturday. Only one, a young Hispanic man who said he has been a Republican since he was 5, said he favored redistricting.

"I don't care if I am called a sellout or a coconut, I support Tom DeLay," said Jaime Mendoza, drawing applause from two others in the hall.

What a coconut.



"Gitmo" - In the Land of Guantnamo


Are these soldiers considered more dangerous than enemy soldiers from any other war? Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, head of public affairs for the joint task force replied: ''Unlike conventional soldiers who abide by certain laws of war, and who would also be bound by the III Geneva Convention to act in certain ways when confined, the enemy combatants in the high-security section committed themselves at some point to killing Americans, period. They are not obedient soldiers defending a nation, but individuals who are motivated for whatever reason to kill Americans.''

We can all argue about the nature of those who were defending Afghanistan against the American attack that followed 9/11; perhaps the jihadists are really just undisciplined murderers and not soldiers. But were the Nazi storm troopers or the suicidal Japanese soldiers of World War II any less hateful or fanatical? Certainly war has changed, but did the America that signed the Geneva Conventions ever think that detaining enemy soldiers would not involve having to manage antipathy?



MY DD -- Dean & FICA payroll taxes


Why not offer something to the middle-class (the candy), by putting the burden (of tough medicine) on the upper wage earners? Wouldn't it be nice to watch the Republicans twist in the wind while arguing against a tax-cut?



A DAY AT THE RACES


A tortured, obvious and over-extended metaphor - but funny in a sick way.

I laughed, I cried, I got what was coming to me.

"Don't you see? Just because someone is consistently mistaken or deluded -- just because everything he tells you isn't true -- that doesn't mean he can't be trusted, does it? Does it?"



SF Writer Bruce Sterling - There's Something About Rummy


"Know your customers!" World-class futurists with executive skills are rare. Rumsfeld is the best and most able functionary the administration has. But the man is 70 years old. This is just not his century.

During his 40 years in business and government, Rumsfeld assembled a folksy collection of principles for running a military-industrial complex. Called Rumsfeld's Rules, the document warmed the hearts of upper-level managers when it appeared in The Wall Street Journal just after its author took office. Some of the rules are his own, but many are respectfully quoted from sources he admires, including Winston Churchill, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and, endearingly, his children.

Rumsfeld's maxims offer deep insight into why the American republic has survived and thrived. They also explain why this presidency is scaring the world into a tizzy. The administration has Rumsfeld on board, and yet observe how it's trampling his rules.

"Visit with your predecessors from previous administrations. Try to make original mistakes, rather than needlessly repeating theirs." What year is this, exactly? 1914? 1929? 1964, year of the Tonkin Gulf resolution? The energy crisis of the 1970s? Let's hope it's not 1989, with the US playing the Soviet Union.

"From where you sit, the White House may look as untidy as the inside of a stomach. Don't let that panic you. Things may be going better than they look from the inside." It was Rumsfeld's great insight that September 11 was the harbinger of a new kind of war that could destroy America: nuclear guerrilla war. Faced with potential annihilation, the administration panicked. That's why it's violating Rumsfeld's rules.




Saturday, June 28, 2003

New Blog -- Donkey Rising


Are We Off On the Wrong Track?

From the writers of The Emerging Democratic Majority.

The poll also asked respondents whether the country should continue going in the direction Bush is headed in various areas or go in a significantly different direction. By 17 points, the public wants a new direction on health care and on the Federal budget/deficits, by 11 points, they want a new direction on the economy, by 9 points, they want a new direction on retirement/Social Security and on the environment, by 6 points they want a new direction on energy policy and by 5 points they want a new direction on prescription drugs for seniors.

In a problem sign for Democrats, however, the public actually wants to continue in Bush's direction on support for education, albeit by a modest margin (3 points). This is an area the public rates second in importance after the economy and jobs and where Democrats are generally viewed as the party better able to handle the issue. So the Democrats' failure to sell the public on the need for a new direction in support for public education looms large. This is an issue they will need to open up a lead on if they hope to do well in 2004.



Tapper on Dean's Showing on Meet the Press


It Wasn't So Bad

Dr. Dean, the Democratic presidential candidate and former Vermont governor, has gotten notice for bringing some energy to the dismal Democratic ranks. But after his appearance his candidacy was immediately suffused with bad buzz. "If Dean wants to have any chance of getting into the White House, he needs to learn some basic facts about our country," said Joe Scarborough of MSNBC. Even The Associated Press reported that Dr. Dean "did not help himself with an uneven performance."

But many of Dr. Dean's answers seemed perfectly reasonable. His response to Tim Russert's pop quiz about the number of soldiers on active duty — he said one million to two million; the answer is 1.4 million — seems acceptable, especially at a time when the number is in flux. His answers about the solvency of Social Security were glib. But they were no more dishonest than any other candidate's.

I have just finished reading his Down and Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency which damns both sides and the press. I thought the GOP was much worse but he points out all the times the Democrat's were about as bad. Both in this short article and in the book there is a reluctance to just admit the American press is now very biased and doesn't like Democratic candidates. here in the article:

Dr. Dean, the Democratic presidential candidate and former Vermont governor, has gotten notice for bringing some energy to the dismal Democratic ranks. But after his appearance his candidacy was immediately suffused with bad buzz. "If Dean wants to have any chance of getting into the White House, he needs to learn some basic facts about our country," said Joe Scarborough of MSNBC. Even The Associated Press reported that Dr. Dean "did not help himself with an uneven performance."

He doesn't even mention it is former conservative GOP representative Scarborough and the AP with its known big business and Republican bias. He probably didn't know that the hard questions were coming from Tim Russert using a White House hit list but Russert's previous bias is known.



The Abortion Battle In Bush Country


Texas Monthly -- The Texas Legislature handed huge victories to abortion opponents [this session]. Among the bills that were passed was the Prenatal Protection Act, which defines a fertilized egg as an "individual." The act allows for criminal charges to be filed if a zygote, an embryo, or a fetus is killed. Although the act exempts abortion, it lays the groundwork for future court cases that could test Roe v. Wade.

The Woman's Right to Know Act requires a 24-hour waiting period for abortions; clinics must offer to show photographs of fetuses to women who are considering the procedure and inform them that abortion will possibly increase their chance of developing breast cancer—a claim refuted by the American Cancer Society.

But the most sweeping action was a new law prohibiting organizations that provide abortions from receiving any state funding. Current laws already prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions. But the effect of the law will be to eliminate state funding for a host of non-abortion-related services offered by clinics like the one in Bryan, from Pap smears to birth control. For Planned Parenthood, at whom this bill was directly targeted, it will mean a loss of some $13 million per year in Texas. Many of its clinics will have to turn away patients who cannot pay for birth control. While the law is intended to deter clinics from providing abortions, the consequence will likely be a rise in unplanned pregnancies, thus defeating the intent of the bill.



New Battles over Redistricting


One of the hearings almost turned into a riot.

Houston Chronicle -- Officials with both parties are working to get their loyalists to a House Redistricting Committee hearing beginning at 9 a.m. today at Texas Southern University.

"Bring your flak jacket," advised state Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, warning of rhetorical fireworks at the hearing.

The state Senate panel working on redistricting, the Jurisprudence Committee, has a Houston hearing scheduled for Wednesday at Cesar Chavez High School.

Both committees also are conducting hearings in other cities.

U.S. Rep. Chris Bell of the 25th Congressional District said he and other Democrats have activated their campaigns to get supporters to the hearings.

The Harris County Republican Party is doing the same thing, partly through e-mails featuring pictures of Houston-area Democrats. "She will be there to express her views," says a caption under an unidentified photo of U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. "Will you be there to express yours?"

Unidentified so it just so's an uppity black lady to the hicks.

Jim Ellis, executive director for Americans for a Republican Majority, a DeLay-sponsored group pushing for congressional redistricting, said the exact opposite is true.

"What we have tried to do is keep the rural counties whole because they tend to lose influence when they are split," Ellis said. "We have multi-splits in metro areas like Houston and Dallas because that gives them more advocates in Congress."


Say that again?


Democrat Blasts Redistricting Hearing

House Republicans today failed to deliver a quorum for their own sham redistricting field hearing in Brownsville. The illegal, unfair hearing was protested by dozens of members of American GI Forum and other leaders of the border community. State Rep. Richard Raymond (D-Laredo) attended a press conference denouncing the sham hearing.

Rep. Raymond's statement:

"I want to praise Rep. Kino Flores who stood up for Texas against these flawed, illegal hearings. Today we stood up against the efforts of Tom Delay and the Republicans to waste $7 million of Texas taxpayers money on an unfair powergrab, while 170,000 of our children are having their health care taken away due to lack of funding.

"This entire process has been an assault on Texas' rural and minority communities. Republicans have furthered this injustice by refusing to hold full and fair hearings all over the state, as has long been the tradition on redistricting matters in Texas. And Republicans have systematically tried to silence the voices of those of us on the committee who oppose their efforts to weaken the impact of Hispanic voters and other communities of interest across Texas.

"I am in Brownsville today because this is the only hearing that the House redistricting committee set for border residents to have their voices heard in this unjust process. Plus, they have denied two-thirds of the committee the right to participate in the full hearings. Indeed, Republicans refused to allow this committee's Vice Chair, Rep. Villarreal, to lead a subcommittee. Instead, they named three Anglo Republicans to lead the three panels.

"This redistricting power grab has been unfair from the beginning. I'm pleased that so many have turned out against this unfair process. We will continue to point out that these hearings are nothing but a lame attempt to cover-up an unfair and illegal Republican powergrab in Texas.

"The current map is fair and reflects Texans making choices with their ballots. That's pure democracy, which Tom DeLay and the Republicans apparently find unacceptable in Texas.

"This whole process has now been so badly broken there's no way to fix it. We need to stop this entire unconstitutional process before it wastes any more taxpayer money and go back to concentrating on the real problems we were elected to deal with - school finance, public safety, the well-being of our children and health care for our frail and elderly. These are issues Texans care about - not whether or not Tom DeLay can use a rigged process to add to his power base."

From an email


Occupation Forces Halt Elections Throughout Iraq (washingtonpost.com)

U.S. military commanders have ordered a halt to local elections and self-rule in provincial cities and towns across Iraq, choosing instead to install their own handpicked mayors and administrators, many of whom are former Iraqi military leaders.

The decision to deny Iraqis a direct role in selecting municipal governments is creating anger and resentment among aspiring leaders and ordinary citizens, who say the U.S.-led occupation forces are not making good on their promise to bring greater freedom and democracy to a country dominated for three decades by Saddam Hussein.

The go-slow approach to representative government in at least a dozen provincial cities is especially frustrating to younger, middle-class professionals who say they want to help their communities emerge from postwar chaos and to let, as one put it, "Iraqis make decisions for Iraq."

"They give us a general," said Bahith Sattar, a biology teacher and tribal leader in Samarra who was a candidate for mayor until that election was canceled last week. "What does that tell you, eh? First of all, an Iraqi general? They lost the last three wars! They're not even good generals. And they know nothing about running a city."

Bremer and other U.S. officials are fearful that Islamic leaders such as Moqtada Sadr, a young Shiite Muslim cleric popular on the streets of Baghdad, and Ayatollah Mohammed Bakir Hakim, leader of the Iranian-supported Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, would be best positioned to field winning candidates.


Friday, June 27, 2003

End with a laugh


"According to a new CBS poll, 66 percent of Americans cannot name a single Democratic candidate running for president. The other 34 percent are Democratic candidates running for president." —Jay Leno

"When asked about electing a president, most people answered, 'Well, the Supreme Court handles that anyway.'" —Jay Leno

"The Reverend Al Sharpton attacked President Bush, saying he ruined the economy. For instance, Sharpton hasn't been able to find a job in over 46 years." —Craig Kilborn

"Florida Senator Bob Graham announced that he is running for president despite the fact that he went through a double-bypass earlier this year. Political experts don't give Graham much chance because his campaign slogan is 'I'm a little healthier than Dick Cheney.'" —Conan O'Brien

"Do you know who Bob Graham is? Basically he's Dick Gephardt without the charisma. He's a white guy, named Graham, from the south, so I guess that would make him a 'graham cracker.'" —Jay Leno

"Dick Gephardt announced his candidacy for president. Gephardt now plans to look for a running mate or as he put it: 'The alcohol to my sleeping pills.'" —Conan O'Brien

"Gephardt said even though he and the other Democratic candidates have different views they all will give the same concession speech." —Craig Kilborn

"Are you ready for some exciting news? Dick Gephardt is running for president — all right, settle down. Gephardt ran once before for president in 1988, but he was no match for the irresistible charm and charisma of Michael Dukakis." —David Letterman

"John Kerry is recovering nicely after having prostate surgery. But the doctors did tell him it would be several months before he could be sexually active again. All the other Democratic candidates have been very supportive. Joe Lieberman called to wish him the best. The Rev. Al Sharpton called to offer prayers. Former President Bill Clinton called Mrs. Kerry and asked if she was lonely." —Jay Leno

About Politcal Humor




The Doctor of Revisionism


From the Whiskey Bar -- WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Republican leader in the Senate said that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was not the main justification for the US-led invasion of Iraq.

"I'm not sure that's the major reason we went to war," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told NBC television's Today Show.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am absolutely convinced, based on the information that’s been given to me, that the weapon of mass destruction which can kill more people than an atomic bomb -- that is, biological weapons -- is in the hands of the leadership of Iraq.
Bill Frist
MSNBC Interview
January 10, 2003

What is unique about Iraq compared to, I would argue, any other country in the world, in this juncture, is the exhaustion of diplomacy thus far, and, No. 2, this intersection of weapons of mass destruction.
Bill Frist
NewsHour Interview
January 22, 2003

Iraq is a grave threat to this nation. It desires to acquire and use weapons of mass terror and is run by a despot with a proven record of willingness to use them. Iraq has had 12 years to comply with UN requirements for disarmament and has failed to do so. The president is right to say it’s time has run out.
Bill Frist
Press Release
January 28, 2003

Let there be no mistake about our Nation's purpose in confronting Iraq -- Saddam Hussein's regime poses a clear threat to the people of United States, its friends and its allies, and it is a threat that we must address now.
Bill Frist
Senate Speech
March 7, 2003

Getting rid of Saddam Hussein's regime is our best inoculation. Destroying once and for all his weapons of disease and death is a vaccination for the world.
Bill Frist
Washington Post op-ed
March 16, 2003

The United States . . . is now at war "so we will not ever see" what terrorists could do "if supplied with weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein."
Bill Frist
Senate Debate
March 20, 2003

We simply cannot live in fear of a ruthless dictator, aggressor and terrorist such as Saddam Hussein, who possesses the world’s most deadly weapons.
Bill Frist
Speech to American Israel Political Action Committee
March 31, 2003

I am not eager to send young Americans into harm’s way in Iraq, or to see innocent people killed or hurt in military operations. Given all of the facts and circumstances known to us, however, I am convinced that if we wait, a threat will continue to materialize in Iraq that could cause incalculable damage to world peace in general, and to the United States in particular.
Bill Frist
Letter to Future of Freedom Foundation
March, 2003



Would have been a runaway for Dean without Kuchinich in a liberal primary


Wash Post -- Together, Dean and Kucinich captured nearly 70 percent of the votes in a process that one practitioner of online politics called "the liberal primary." With a reported membership of some 1.5 million people, and a track record of raising millions for friendly candidates, Moveon.org is perhaps the most influential left-leaning group in cyberspace.

"I think it's safe to say if Dennis Kucinich was not in the race, Howard Dean would have gotten most of those votes," said Bob Fertik, a founder of Democrats.com, a liberal Web site that e-mailed its readers with pro-Kucinich messages and urged them to vote in the Moveon.org event. "Dean could have walked away with this thing."

Dean was an early favorite of progressive Democrats due to his support for same-sex civil unions in Vermont and his outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq. That plus his early and energetic start in Iowa have moved a little-known darkhorse into the front ranks of the nomination battle.

But in recent days he has taken fire from the left over his positions on the budget and defense spending. At a forum for candidates last week sponsored by Jesse L. Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Dean scolded Kucinich for advocating large cuts in defense spending when the nation is threatened by terrorists.

"I don't agree with Dennis about cutting the Pentagon budget when we're in the middle of a difficulty with terror attacks," Dean said -- a position that might resonate with many parts of the electorate but that sounded a sour note on the left.



Meet the Press ambushed Dean with Bush supplied numbers


From the Washington Post via Notes on the Atrocities -- The Bush administration yesterday released a highly selective analysis of the cost to families of rolling back scheduled tax cuts, an early sign of the White House's plan to brand Democrats as tax raisers throughout their race for the presidential nomination.

In addition to using the issue to inject himself into the Democratic campaign, President Bush plans to make the extension and preservation of tax cuts a centerpiece of his general election campaign, senior Republican officials said.

Howard Dean, a Democratic presidential candidate and former Vermont governor, was confronted with the Treasury Department figures on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday. He said they do not account for increases in property taxes because of cuts in federal services and shortfalls in federal aid to education.

The research was prepared at the request of "Meet the Press," NBC and Bush officials said.
The analysis does not include single people or lower-income couples, two groups that benefit little from Bush's cuts. Four of the examples involve married couples with one or two children making $40,000 to $75,000 a year, and the other two concern spouses who are both age 65.

Peter R. Orszag, a senior fellow in economics at the Brookings Institution, said the document "gives a misleading impression of the overall effect of the tax cuts." Just 27 million of the nation's roughly 140 million households consist of married couples with children, he said. Brookings figures show that under the most recent law, 81 percent of households would save $1,000 or less.

Tim Russert is both Dubya's and Jeb's favorite "non-partisan" journalist. Both insisted on him moderating debates.



Emma's take on the Move On Primary

The big winner is Dean. Almost half of the party's liberal wing voted for him, and although he's a populist, he's one of the most conservative candidates. That means that if he wins the primary, he'll run strong on the moderate platform he's already established. The message will be different, but his policy positions will remain the same.

The big loser is Dick Gephardt. Predictably, he did poorly in the single-vote portion of the poll. The bad news is that only half of the voters said they'd back him if he emerged as the Democratic candidate. The news gets even worse when you consider that 28% of respondents said they'd back any Dem (explaining Sharpton's good showing).

Kerry, Kucinich, and Edwards should regard this as a mixed bag. Kerry's numbers show that Democrats generally support him, but they don't particularly favor him. If he's going to win the primary, he's got to start winning hearts. This is especially true because of the other New Englander and the New Hampshire primary. Only one is likely to emerge as a viable candidate.


Democrats announce four televised presidential primary debates

Democrats announced the first four of six planned televised presidential debates involving the nine presidential candidates, with September debates in Albuquerque, N.M., and New York, and October dates in Phoenix and Detroit.

Two debates will be held in November and December in Iowa and New Hampshire, with details to be announced in the coming weeks. Democratic officials have been working with the campaigns and television outlets for weeks to set up a schedule -- originally planned for six to eight debates.



Yes, Liberals, You Won The Culture War
Well, I would say we have almost won this war.




New York Times On the Move On Primary

Happy Days are Here Again

This is about the time in the presidential election calendar when anyone from state parties to third-grade classes starts taking straw polls. The MoveOn effort is more extensive than most — enthusiasts clicked on for the two-day primary that drew more than 300,000 voters. The virtual tally — results of which were not expected until today — would top the combined turnouts in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in 2000.





MoveOn Primary Results - The Real Story is Kucinich and the losers


As expected Dean lead the primary with 44% of the vote. He was followed by Kucinach with 24% and Kerry with 16%. The next highest was Edwards with 3%.

Kuchinach with 24% and none outside the top 3 over 3%. Amazing.

From what I can tell Kucinach had done little organizing and there was no buzz at all. He gives amazing speeches and his heart is in exactly the right place but I am still shocked.

None of the others mustering more than a few thousand votes. Wake up and smell the coffee folks. There is no enthusiam for these other candidates

Wesley Clark had almost 3,000 votes as a non-campaigning, no organization, write-in candidate.

Graham, who has almost been written off as a conservative candidate, received more votes than Lieberman, 7755 to 6095.

If the DLC wants to have a voice they need to get behind Graham or Clark and dump Lieberman. They should also quit trying to smear Dean and worry more about Kucinich if they fear the party is going too far to the left. A better result would be to get behind Dean or Kerry but that may be asking too much.

The radical GOP campaign for Sharpton went less than nowhere unless they organized for Kucinich instead and with the numbers the vote pulled, more than all of the early primaries, they should be a small fraction of the vote.

The follow up phone survey was a very good idea and show that Lieberman had a huge "overvote", 1.9% in the results, 1.2% in the survey. Kerry and Kucinich also did less than a percent worse in the survey. Braun and undecided did less than one percent better.

This seems mostly a hard-core Democratic voter, as it should be for a Democratic straw vote primary which will generate money. Over 28% would enthusiasticlly support any Democratic candidate and Dean, Kerry, and Kuchinach were the clear leaders there as well with 86 to 68 percent enthusiastic support.

Lieberman is a loserman in this indicator as well with only 42% enthusiastic supporters, below Braun's 51% but above the 35% for Sharpton.

Some surprising results, the DLC and the Democratic party should study this.



Local Stuff

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers sued over a misleading environmental statement.

A lawsuit was filed Tuesday against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for issuing a "misleading" Final Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Bayport Container Facility.

The Galveston Bay Conservation and Preservation Association teamed up with nine other cities and organizations to file the suit, which would require the corps to stop progress, and correct the FEIS before issuing it again.

"The Final Environmental Impact Statement just doesn't cover all of the topics it needs to cover, and that is the document that is used to decide whether to issue a permit," Jim Blackburn, GBCPA chair, said. "It is very misleading, and it doesn't tell the truth about some of the issues we know the corps has information about. We are looking for the corps to stop, go back, get it right and then continue."



ReachM High Cowboy Network -- How to win a war, and lose our soul



Cowboy Kahlil -- I have an online friend who hails from Louisiana. Our early encounters on an online message board some years ago were confrontational and angry. We learned to get over ourselves, so we could start communicating.

I know only a little about her. She was a retired nurse, and apparently had a very comfortable life. As our country moved to war with Iraq, she was strongly opposed to it. She is opposed, as well, to the notion that Americans of means deserve the enormous tax breaks provided by George Bush. She's cognizant that most Americans, at most levels in society, were granted great gifts simply by being born in a country where freedom is taken for granted and opportunities exist for more citizens than most foreigners will ever have access to.

She had to take refresher courses to regain her nurse's license. And took off to Kuwait three weeks ago, accompanying a plastic surgeon, to patch up as many Iraqi children as they can this summer. Only after she left did I learn from others who've stayed in touch from that old message board, that this woman has quietly helped a few of them or sent checks to charity efforts they supported.

Her vision of America is one that gives back, for all the blessings bestowed upon us. Contrast that with the record of a man whose life began at the top of the stairs, whose successes were lined with the gifts of his father's powerful friends and whose failures were covered up in similar manner.

The history books will be full of the latter, the man who lied repeatedly to compel a war that has cost the lives of well over 5,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, and hundreds of our soldiers. Taking out Saddaam was unnecessary, because even the existence of scary weaponry does not conceal the fact that he was no threat to the US and no match to our military's superior training and weaponry.

and more combining a tribute to compassion and total scorn for Bush.



Smart Daily Kos

This could be the beginning of trouble for Bush in a way which even our respectful press will latch on to. Here comes another whistleblower, always a media favorite, this time, with names and places of someone who wanted him to alter intelligence for political purposes.



Atrios remembers, Thomas? He's a Republican - he lies.

1991

Now, Judge, in your view, does the Liberty Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protect the right of women to decide for themselves in certain instances whether or not to terminate pregnancy?

JUDGE THOMAS: Senator, first of all, let me look at that in the context other than with natural law principles.

SENATOR BIDEN: Let's forget about natural law for a minute.

JUDGE THOMAS: My view is that there is a right to privacy in the Fourteenth Amendment.



Toward One-Party Rule

Krugman is concerned that we may become like Mexico.

"the foundations for one-party rule are being laid right now."

Of course, Nadar says we already have corporate rule, Republicans and Republican-light. The problem is we see the difference between a conservative Democrat and a Republican everyday now and there is a huge difference.




IRS: Over 2000 Big Earners Paid No Tax in 2000

More than 2,000 individuals with incomes of $200,000 or more paid zero in federal income taxes in the year 2000, according to a report released by the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday.

A separate IRS report showed the average income tax rate paid by the 400 tax filers with the highest incomes in 2000 was 22.29 percent, up from 22.23 percent in 1999 but below a recent peak of 29.35 percent in 1993.

Of $69.57 billion in adjusted gross income reported by the top 400 filers in 2000, about $44.53 billion was made through capital gains, Burman said

"Capital gains is the linchpin of every tax shelter I know of, except for municipal bonds," he said.

Capital gains are generally taxed at a lower rate than wages for all but low-income taxpayers. With the tax package passed in May, the rate will fall to 15 percent.

Bush and the GOP wanted to make capital gains 0%.




CNN.com - House, Senate pass Medicare bills - Jun. 27, 2003

Something for everyone to hate in the bills - messy last minute battles in both houses, politics as usual. Molly said if it isn't something like the Seanate bill that emerges from committee the Democrats should kill, GOP conservatives are saying the same thing about the house version. Isn't politics wonderful.


Thursday, June 26, 2003

Big boost for privacy, abortion, and gay rights | csmonitor.com

The US Supreme Court has drawn a thick constitutional curtain around the nation's bedrooms.
In a landmark 6-to-3 decision announced Thursday, America's highest court commanded the states to get out of the business of attempting to regulate what can or can't happen within private, intimate relationships between consenting adults. Instead, five of the six majority justices ruled that Americans enjoy a fundamental right to conduct the most personal and private aspects of their lives free from the prying eyes of government officials.

"Freedom extends beyond spatial bounds," writes Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion. "Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct."

In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia criticized "the invention of a brand-new 'constitutional right' by a court that is impatient with democratic change." He said such issues should be resolved by elected lawmakers, not decreed by judges.

The case is significant in constitutional terms because in recognizing a fundamental right to relationship privacy, the majority justices have bolstered one of the pillars of the high court's controversial 1973 abortion ruling. Thursday's decision, by finding once again that privacy in "intimate conduct" between adults is a constitutionally protected right, will make it much harder for a future court to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade precedent.




Hugo Chavez Is Crazy!

But only according to the US media. Information Clearing House backgrounds the Venezuela story.



-- Elsewhere in the Web --



Slate - Delusions of Empire
How is Paul Wolfowitz keeping a straight face these days?


The currency of intellectuals is measured in the worth of their ideas, and the swaggering ambitions behind their advocacy of invading Iraq—to establish civil authority in Baghdad quickly after the war, then move on to redraw the map of the Middle East, and finally spread democracy around the globe—are looking particularly delusional just now.

If they so badly miscalculated the ease of controlling a country that (as Donald Rumsfeld often reminds us) is the size of California, then how do they intend to change the planet? More to the point, how do they continue to offer advice on the subject while keeping a straight face?

CSM - Bush's "Credibility Gap"

There's a saying in journalism. "One is an event. Two is a coincidence. Three is a trend." And this trend could be particularly troubling for the president.

Bush's support doesn't come from his positions; it comes from something more personal. People like him in large part because they believe he's being straight with them. If that changes, his ride toward reelection may have more than a few twists and turns.

Kuttner disagrees with me that the Drug Bill is a win-win for the GOP. He sees it as a win-win for the Dems.

If the bill passes, President Bush can usurp a popular Democratic issue and boast: "I delivered a drug benefit under Medicare."

But his Democratic challenger can say: "Bush's Medicare drug benefit doesn't even take effect until 2006. It's a sweetheart deal for HMOs. It has more holes than benefits. The only reason you get anything is that Democrats fought for it and Republicans were forced to go along. Vote for us and we will get you the rest."

Cursor and SF Chronicle I guess share link credit on this AP article: Israel made the decision to kill a Hamas leader's wife and 16 bystanders to get him.

Israel knew that the wife of a senior Hamas militant was with him when it decide to kill him, but went ahead with the airstrike anyway, the air force commander said Tuesday.

In July, an air force F-16 dropped a one-ton bomb on the house of Salah Shehadeh, leader of the Hamas military wing, in Gaza City. Shehadeh and a Hamas activist were killed, along with Shehadeh's wife and 16 other bystanders, among them nine children.

Bush Reelect Numbers Falling Below 50%

In a recent CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll, 50 percent said they would vote for Bush and 38 percent backed the unknown Democratic candidate, with the rest undecided. Those numbers aren't very different from those garnered by Bush's father in June 1991, when the commander in chief was praised for the U.S. success in the Persian Gulf War and the Democrats were scrambling for a candidate.

Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in the 1992 election.

"With job approval, you're asking how they feel right now,'' said Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup poll. Bush's job approval ratings won't accurately reflect his potential until March or April next year, Newport said.

Bush's re-elect numbers are even lower in the Ipsos-Cook Political Report tracking poll, which showed a drop for the president from April to June, a time when the nation's focus shifted from the U.S.-led war against Iraq to the economy, Medicare and tax cuts.

In June, 42 percent of those polled said they would definitely vote to re-elect Bush, and 31 percent said they would definitely vote for someone else. Bush had a 19-point advantage over an unnamed opponent in the April survey by the Ipsos-Cook Political Report.

BuzzFlash and The Angry Liberal: "Bush is replacing the Death Tax with the Birth Tax."

While the "Death Tax" was only collected after rich folks were completely finished with the estates (They're dead, remember?), the Birth Tax will paid by the living, most of whom aren't finished with their incomes.

While the "Death Tax" generally reduced the amount an estate would hand to an heir (in other words, the heir's unearned income), the Birth Tax reduces the amount of earned income a hard-working American will keep.

While the "Death Tax" went into the general fund to pay for things like health care for the elderly and homeland security, the Birth Tax will buy absolutely nothing.

While the "Death Tax" was paid only once, the Birth Tax will be paid yearly and will likely increase yearly, forever.

Or until we kick the Neanderthals out and stomp them when they are down.

Retirees Getting Irate Over Details of Medicare Drug Plan

"Do you think anybody in Washington has any idea what people on a limited income have to do to live?" asked Ed Human, 68, a diabetic who said he voted Republican. Of Dr. Frist, who is independently wealthy through his stake in a hospital corporation his family founded, Mr. Human said: "He's a nice guy, that's fine. But he doesn't have a clue."

Then why in the Hell did you vote Republican? They don't have a clue and couldn't care less.

US Birth Rate Drops - Now at Record Low.

The number of babies born to U.S. women of all ages dropped by one percent in 2002 compared to 2001. The yearly total of new arrivals was a little more than 4 million.

The birth rate in 2002 was 13.9 per 1,000 persons -- an all-time low for as long as national birth records have been kept -- according to the CDC. Overall, the birth rate is down 17 percent since 1990.

Teen birth rates are also down, falling by five percent from levels recorded in 2001 to 43 births per 1,000 females between ages 15 to 19 in 2002. Teen pregnancies have dropped 28 percent since 1990, the agency reported.

Good news but also a sign of the poor economy.



Krugman - Denial and Deception

There is no longer any serious doubt that Bush administration officials deceived us into war. The key question now is why so many influential people are in denial, unwilling to admit the obvious.

About the deception: Leaks from professional intelligence analysts, who are furious over the way their work was abused, have given us a far more complete picture of how America went to war. Thanks to reporting by my colleague Nicholas Kristof, other reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post, and a magisterial article by John Judis and Spencer Ackerman in The New Republic, we now know that top officials, including Mr. Bush, sought to convey an impression about the Iraqi threat that was not supported by actual intelligence reports.

In particular, there was never any evidence linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda; yet administration officials repeatedly suggested the existence of a link. Supposed evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear program was thoroughly debunked by the administration's own experts; yet administration officials continued to cite that evidence and warn of Iraq's nuclear threat.

And yet the political and media establishment is in denial, finding excuses for the administration's efforts to mislead both Congress and the public.

But even people who aren't partisan Republicans shy away from confronting the administration's dishonest case for war, because they don't want to face the implications.

After all, suppose that a politician — or a journalist — admits to himself that Mr. Bush bamboozled the nation into war. Well, launching a war on false pretenses is, to say the least, a breach of trust. So if you admit to yourself that such a thing happened, you have a moral obligation to demand accountability — and to do so in the face not only of a powerful, ruthless political machine but in the face of a country not yet ready to believe that its leaders have exploited 9/11 for political gain. It's a scary prospect.

Yet if we can't find people willing to take the risk — to face the truth and act on it — what will happen to our democracy?



Molly Ivins Explains the Complicated Medicare Drug Bill


The head of the camel
Real prescription drug reform isn't going to happen this year -- but it might start.


The press is helpfully wringing its hands and announcing, "This is soooo complicated."

So let's try the unusual maneuver of actually looking at the merits of the thing. If you put, as Consumer Reports has helpfully done, the hybrid House Republican/Bush bill up against the Democrats' version by the respected Medicare expert John Dingell, it's no contest. The Democratic bill is better in every respect -- except, of course, it costs more. It has the additional flaw of being unlikely to pass in the Republican House.

In fact, the Republicans are not entirely sure they can get their own awful version passed. For starters, the Republican version covers, at best, 22 percent of projected prescription drug expenditures. It includes a $250 deductible, 20 percent coinsurance up to $1,000 and 50 percent coinsurance on $1,001 to $2,000, and costs an extra $35 a month. There's an even weirder hitch called "the doughnut," a hole in the middle, that leaves seniors spending between $4,500 and $5,800 uncovered.

Don't even ask how that got in there -- you don't want to know about that bit of sausage-making.

According to CR's calculations, the average Medicare beneficiary now spending $2,318 for meds would find the out-of-pocket cost under the Republican version higher in 2007, a total of $2,954 in constant dollars. Under the Senate bill, CRE estimates the same $2,318 would come to $2,524 in 2007, including premium, deductible, co-payments and the "doughnut."

Bottom line, Kennedy's right: The Senate version is incrementally better, and in politics, you should always take half a loaf, or even 22 percent of a loaf, if you can get it. But if the Senate version is even slightly weakened by the repulsive House version, fuhgeddaboutit.

The Senate bill has no chance and is of minimal benefit anyway. The majority of seniors would be better not signing up for it. Should you let GOP take credit for a drug bill because it will help some people with huge med bills? This is a Rove bill, whichever way the Democrats play it they lose.


Wednesday, June 25, 2003

GOP Trying To Screw Children of Combat Troops


Navy Times -- Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, senior Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, said House Republicans really don’t have any intention of getting the tax bill approved.

“This is one of the most cynical and hypocritical moves I have ever seen,” he said. “When it comes to tax relief, Republicans have their priorities backward. They pass hundreds of billions in tax breaks for people who have lots of unearned income, such as capital gains and dividends, but they penalize those who work hard for a living and, worse yet, those who have put their lives on the line for the country.

“The Republicans actually think that the child of a combat veteran should receive a smaller child tax credit than the child of a member of Congress because the member pays more income tax,” Rangel said.

The Senate isn’t any happier with the House bill. The Child Tax Credit Act passed the Senate by a 94-2 vote. In a joint statement, Sens. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said the House seems bent on slowing down the process.

“We don’t have time to hold these working families hostage in a protracted debate about another large tax cut,” their statement says. “Playing politics with the refundable child tax credit just raises the bar for these working families, and that’s just not fair.”

This is one of my favorite headlines.



Vote In the Move On Primary Today

Vote

At the last minute I didn't vote for Dean. He is may favorite candidate but as I went to cast my ballot I decided I would like to see Graham on the conservative side as an alternative to Lieberman and Gephardt who I think are clear losers. I don't know if Dean will get 50% of the vote in this round or if this will go to another round. I support Dean on the issues, I think Graham could be more electable.

Go vote now.



Paid Advertising in The NY Times: "The L Word"


A full-page ad in The New York Times last week by MoveOn.org and Win Without War got to the heart of it. Under the headline "MISLEADER" the ad stacked up five of Mr. Bush’s pre-war whoppers and noted, "It would be a tragedy if young men and women were sent to die for a lie." It put the issue of trust front and center and hoisted the president on his own pointed WMD -- words of mass distortion.

What Did Bush Know and When Did He Know It?


Monday, June 23, 2003

Perry slices $81 million before approving budget


Gov. Rick Perry on Sunday trimmed $81 million from a $118 billion state budget that already had cut services to thousands of Texans to avoid raising state taxes.

More than half of his budgetary vetoes -- about $54.5 million -- were from higher education research, including funds that had been earmarked to help the University of Houston gain national recognition as a research facility.

"We set priorities, separated wants from needs and stretched every dollar. We protected both the pocketbooks of Texas taxpayers and vital programs, increasing funding for public education and health care."

The spending bill, however, makes significant cuts in some education and health care programs to enable the governor and legislative leaders to keep their vows to bridge a $9.9 billion revenue shortfall without higher state taxes.

And some local officials and advocates for various programs have warned that cuts in state spending will require increases in local property taxes to pay for such things as schools and county hospitals.

In addition to striking the higher education research funding, Perry used his line-item veto to wipe out several small agencies, including the Aircraft Pooling Board, the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council, the Texas Wildlife Damage Management Service, the Texas Council on Environmental Technology and the Research & Oversight Council on Workers' Compensation.

The governor struck $22.5 million -- the entire appropriations -- from the Texas Excellence Fund and an identical amount from the University Research Fund, both major sources of research funding for most of the state's four-year universities.

Perry said the new budget increases funding for public education by $1.2 billion and adds $1.1 billion in new funds for health care. But it cuts some education areas, including funding for teachers health insurance. And the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has estimated that 169,000 fewer low-income children will be served under the Children's Health Insurance Program.



U.S. Enlists More Countries in Iraq, at Taxpayers' Expense


When the Pentagon proudly announced last week that more and more countries have been signing up to send peacekeeping troops to Iraq, one fact drew little attention: U.S. taxpayers will be paying a fair chunk of the bill.

As it has sought to spread the peacekeeping burden, the Bush administration has agreed to help underwrite the participation of such countries as Poland, Ukraine, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. India, which the United States has asked to provide thousands of troops, has been asking for financial help as well.

These deals, which by one estimate could cost $250 million over the next year, will enable the United States to relieve some of its overworked troops and give more of an international face to the American-led undertaking. But they may also draw criticism that the U.S. partners in the reshaping of Iraq are those whose support can be bought — the "coalition of the billing," as some wags have put it.




NYTimes - Herbert -- The Money Magnet


I'm sure there's no connection between fat-cat fund-raising and, say, federal tax policy. But there was some particularly interesting information about the Bush tax cuts in an article yesterday by The Times's David E. Rosenbaum. Citing data from a study by Citizens for Tax Justice, Mr. Rosenbaum pointed out that the richest 1 percent of Americans will get an average tax reduction of nearly $100,000 a year, while "the tax relief most people will receive is quite meager."

Half of all taxpayers will get a cut of less than $100 this year. By 2005, three-quarters will get less than $100.

The middle class and working people don't seem to mind that they've been blithely left behind. Mr. Bush's approval ratings are way high, so high they've got the terminally timid Democrats scared to death to confront the president head on. The man who elbowed his way into the White House with a minority of the popular vote is on a roll.

But while these may be the best of times for George W., this is not such a great moment for America.




Gen. says White House pushed Saddam link without evidence



FAIR MEDIA ADVISORY:
Media Silent on Clark's 9/11 Comments


Sunday morning talk shows like ABC's This Week or Fox News Sunday often make news for days afterward. Since prominent government officials dominate the guest lists of the programs, it is not unusual for the Monday editions of major newspapers to report on interviews done by the Sunday chat shows.

But the June 15 edition of NBC's Meet the Press was unusual for the buzz that it didn't generate. Former General Wesley Clark told anchor Tim Russert that Bush administration officials had engaged in a campaign to implicate Saddam Hussein in the September 11 attacks-- starting that very day. Clark said that he'd been called on September 11 and urged to link Baghdad to the terror attacks, but declined to do so because of a lack of evidence.





Great John Edwards' Address On Rewarding Work And Creating Opportunity


Sen. John Edwards -- Our economy, our people, and our nation have been undermined by the crony capitalists who believe that success is all about working the angles, working the phones, and rigging the game, instead of hard work, innovation and frugality.

And these manipulators find comfort in an Administration which, through its own example, seems to embrace that ethic.

We will never turn this country around until we put our economy and our government back in line with our values.

To the business students here today, I want to say: You can do more than anyone else to restore our values to the business world. The captains of industry who create jobs and wealth deserve to be rewarded richly, but it's wrong when they walk away with staggering bonuses while regular workers' pensions are cut. It's wrong to manipulate tax laws and accounting rules to inflate corporate profits. I hope you will remember and respect your responsibilities to your community throughout your careers.

America can withstand a plunge in corporate valuations, but we cannot abide a plunge in corporate values. We can overcome the worst job market for people seeking work since the Depression, but not an economic theory that says work doesn’t matter.



Kos -- What's this Westar thing all about?

Westar bought Republicans. The GOP is bought and paid for, and not by the common American.






Hightower Lowdown on Boeing

In a deal that was opposed by Bush's own budget office and by a hawkish panel of military experts, the Pentagon decided to give a sweet kiss on the lips to Boeing, agreeing to a six-year lease of 100 of this conglomerate's 767 jetliners, which Boeing will convert into tankers for refueling long-distance bombers in midflight. This is the first time the Pentagon has ever chosen to rent rather than buy such a big-ticket item -- and it's a mighty costly rental indeed for us taxpayers.

The congressional accounting office calculates the cost of Boeing's kiss as up to $30 billion. That's $50 million per year per plane. Was there no alternative? Of course there was. For only $8 billion, the existing fleet of refueling tankers -- which has been performing beautifully according to the Air Force -- could be thoroughly modernized and would give us 35 more years of service.




Why Bush is not a cowboy


Digby's Hullabaloo -- ...I am glad my President is a cowboy. He will get his man. Cowboys do,
you know.

OK. Obviously we are dealing with someone who is on serious medication. But, this is actually pretty representative of the kind of feeling that Junior engenders in a good portion of the citizenry. Sure, some of it's just team loyalty, but there are a number of people who think he's a straight shooter, an everyman of simple values and authentic virtues, masculine, good hearted and tough.

Needless to say, those paying attention to even the most obvious biographical details know that none of this is true. He's a spoiled, rich, playboy who fell into politics by trading on his father's name and contacts. He's a failed businessman and ex-alcoholic who's masculine virtues are defined by bullying towel snapping and homoerotic hazing rituals. He's stupid, thin skinned and easily rattled. He consistently shafts the weak in favor of the powerful and he has a callous bloodthirsty streak.

In Bush's Brain, How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential the authors quote Rove as saying that most Americans understand politics as "watching TV with the sound turned off." The thing with Bush is that he looks right in his costumes, whether codpiece or chaps, and his 10 second soundbites are well crafted and effective. And, it's not because people are dupes or morons that they buy this nonsense, it's simply because they understand everything in their lives through simplistic TV images.

The Democrats can do better than President Blurry with almost any candidate in the race if they will just feed the beast what it needs to live (a good story) and recognize that the American people don't care anymore about what a president actually says but only that he is "presidential," however that image is defined by the current zeitgeist.

We must, of course, give them the subtance this country so desperately needs, but we must realize that that substance is relevant only to the 22 bloggers and 367 activists who give a damn. To win, our candidate must be a first generation copy of an image that the entertainment media have taught the American people to love.

Digby had earlier linked to this article describing part of the pro-war Bush PR White House team. I have to put all those qualifiers in, there are outside the White House PR systems.



My Posts are Different


One - I have been busy with other things.

Two - The new blogger handles blank lines differently. It often ignores them. Sometimes it sticks one in, (the old blogger did that too.) There are ways around the skipped blank lines using html code but it is slower and involves a change in the way I did things.

I am not that pleased with the new blogger. It also takes longer to post.



Supreme Court

OKs Anti-Porn Filters in Libraries

The 6-3 ruling reinstates a law that told libraries to install filters or surrender federal money. Four justices said the law was constitutional, and two others said it was allowable as long as libraries disable the filters for patrons who ask. The court described pornography in libraries as a serious problem.

"To the extent that libraries wish to offer unfiltered access, they are free to do so without federal assistance," the main ruling said.

Split on Affirmative Action

A divided Supreme Court allowed universities to give minority applicants an edge in admissions Monday, ruling that the path to leadership in the nation must "be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity." But it also said that race cannot be the determining factor.

Writing for the majority in the 5-4 ruling upholding an affirmative action program at the University of Michigan's law school, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said the value of diverse classrooms extends far beyond the campus.

"This court has long recognized that 'education is the very foundation of good citizenship'," O'Connor wrote, quoting from the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling of nearly 50 years ago.

At the same time, the high court voted 6-3 to strike down a separate point system used by the University of Michigan's undergraduate school.

Government has a compelling interest in promoting racial diversity on campus, but the undergraduate school's admissions policy is not the way to get there, the court majority said.


"The university's policy, which automatically distributes 20 points, or one-fifth of the points needed to guarantee admission, to every single underrepresented minority applicant solely because of race, is not narrowly tailored to achieve the interest in educational diversity," that Michigan claimed justified the policy, Rehnquist wrote.

Yahoo News - All Supreme Court News.



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