Easter Lemming Liberal News

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Worried Democrats See Daunting '04 Hurdles


Every month or so Nagourney gets another article to explain how Bush is almost unbeatable. This time the New York Times puts him on the front page.

I think it's a three-person race: It's us, Dean and Kerry," said Steve Elmendorf, a senior adviser to Mr. Gephardt, in a formulation that was echoed with only slight variations by advisers to Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Edwards.

Associates of General Clark have said he has told them that he will probably join the race. But aides to most of the other candidates say he is too late to have a good shot, and they view him more as competing for a second spot on the ticket.

Aides to his rivals said they had drawn a lesson from Dr. Dean's unsteady appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" in June, which was mocked as near disastrous among party leaders but now appears to have served to rally his base around him. Several said they feared that Dr. Dean would be strengthened by conventional political attacks. As a result, Dr. Dean's rivals are all stepping gingerly, waiting for someone else to risk the first shot.

What is increasingly clear, several Democrats said, is that primary voters are not likely to choose someone who is promising to run a nuanced campaign against Mr. Bush. Dr. Dean has set the tone on that, as he made clear again today.

"John Ashcroft is not a patriot," he said, referring to the attorney general's advocacy of the Patriot Act. "John Ashcroft is a descendant of Joseph McCarthy."

"Democrats in Iowa and across the country recognize that this is a vulnerable president," Mr. Vilsack said. "The president is going to have to defend his policies. He isn't going to be able to get by with platitudes like compassionate conservatism."








Digby's Waiting For Clark


I’ve been very interested in a Clark run since the day I saw him testify before the Senate the lead up to the Iraq resolution vote. Not only was his analysis absolutely on target, he was tremendously self-assured, well spoken and telegenic. I thought at the time that he would make an excellent candidate. I didn’t know if he was a Democrat but he was clearly not a neocon.



"... To Dare Mighty Things ..."


A Republican joined the Dean team.

I knew Lee Atwater and watched the development of "wedge politics" flourish from Lee through Ron Kaufman, Charlie Black, Rich Bond, Mary Matalin, and Karl Rove -- with the considerable media help of Roger Ailes and Stuart Stevens.

For those not familiar with the theory of "wedge politics," its basic concept is to drive wedges between different political interest groups -- using fear and intimidation as its primary tools. This process drives many people away from the voting process, while motivating the targeted groups with negative tactics and fear.

This country is hungry to put an end to the partisan warfare that has consumed this nation for the last 15 years -- at least.

That hunger, and a deep discontent with the status quo keeps reasserting itself. It raised its head in '96 with the hope that Colin Powell might run. It reemerged with the McCain insurgency, and I believe that it will finally succeed with the candidacy of Howard Dean.

This brought some reaction -- The highest courage would be to purposely alienate yourself from the peers with whom you have worked hard and won victories and whose respect you have earned. To do so on a matter of principle is the rarest form of courage.

So it is with deep humility and amazement that I've learned that Michael Cudahy, a successful Republican Field Commander, has decided he can no longer tolerate the Neo-Conservative clique which has hijacked the Grand Old Party of my and Mr. Cudahy's parents. This is no abstract event. Cudahy ran 8 states for Dubya's dad.



Why Warblogging has joined the Deaners


I believe Howard Dean can utterly humiliate Bush — and I don't think any other potential presidential contender save Colin Powell could accomplish such a goal.

He also keeps the Padilla Count. That is the number of days since American citizen Jose Padilla was placed in a military prison for an indefinite period of time without charge, trial or due process of law. 511.



Do Jobs Not Matter Anymore?


Maybe we should just scrap Labor Day and rename it "Capital Day."

Beginning in the late 1970s, the promoters of supply-side economics tried to resell us on the economic ideas of the 1890s and obliterate the assumptions that had dominated thinking about the economy from the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 during the Great Depression.

The lesson of the Depression was that if ordinary workers lacked jobs and adequate incomes, the economy would crash because too few people could afford to buy what businesses hoped to sell. This was demand-side economics and it laid heavy stress on spreading incomes and job opportunities broadly.

Supply-side theories on the urgency of cutting taxes on the rich were exploded when Bill Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy and -- contrary to the supply-side predictions -- helped unleash a remarkable period of economic growth.

The simple truth is that the standard of living of most Americans depends on getting jobs that pay well. This means that unemployment matters not just for those out of work but also for those whose wages are depressed when too many people are competing for too few jobs. For most Americans, the best economic policy is still low unemployment. That's why the late 1990s produced income growth for the poor and the middle class as well as the wealthy.

I am all for a nation of owners and investors. But most people need jobs. For 25 years, we have been hearing that labor depends upon capital. It's time to resurrect the other, buried truth: that capital depends upon labor. Our prosperity really does require keeping the "Labor" in Labor Day.




Iowa Labor Activists to Run Ads for Dean


The advertisement, set to appear in Monday's editions of The Des Moines Register, says Dean is "the only candidate who will stand up for what we believe and isn't afraid of what Washington thinks."

At a news conference Thursday, 136 labor activists unveiled the ad and announced their support for Dean in the nine-way Democratic primary. Tom Gillespie, president of the Iowa State Building and Trades Council, said he was committed to Dean because the former Vermont governor has argued for increased domestic spending.



Labor Day No Picnic for Unemployed


More than 9 million people are unemployed - 700,000 more than a year ago.

Twenty months after the recession ended, the economy has still failed to create substantial numbers of new jobs, making this the weakest recovery since post World War II. The previous record was 13 months in 1992, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal Washington think tank.

In terms of employment growth, the recovery is the worst since the Great Depression, EPI said. Employment has fallen by 1 million since the recovery began. Since the start of the recession in March 2001, about 2.7 million jobs have been lost.

Just this year, 6.4 million new workers have qualified for unemployment insurance.

Is there enough time for a turnaround in the jobs market to satisfy voters before the election?

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney doesn't think so.

"I travel this country constantly," he said. "People are very dissatisfied with the way this country is going. They want jobs and the ability to make a bread-and-butter living. They want affordable health care, and they want their basic freedoms honored on the job."

The average duration of unemployment is 19.3 weeks.



Dean Moving Democrats To Battle Bush


At Bush re-election headquarters, where Dean once was dismissed as a perfect foil, the former Vermont governor is getting a closer look. He still can be cast as a tax-raising, ill-tempered, undisciplined candidate, Republicans argue, but what if he should win the nomination while swelling the Democratic base?

"They better be worried," said Donna Brazile, manager of Al Gore's 2000 campaign. "Dean's cooking with grease."

Months after the centrist Democratic Leadership Council called him too liberal, Dean is winning converts within the DLC for supporting gun rights and balanced budgets in Vermont.

"For many of our issues, he's not just talking about them, he's actually put them into action," said Ken Cheuvront, a state senator in Arizona and member of the DLC.

Democrats expect retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark to enter the race soon, with some suspecting that he and Dean hope to share the Democratic ticket.



Lawmakers Getting Mad About Being Played For Fools By Bush


With the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reporting this week that the federal budget deficit is approaching a record $500 billion, lawmakers are furious about the way the administration has played them for fools when it comes to paying for Iraq. “The Iraqis ask, ‘Why can’t you turn on the lights?’ We have a George C. Marshall plan with a Grover Norquist budget,” says a Senate Republican.

Norquist is known as “Mr. Tax Cut.” He’s president of Americans for Tax Reform and the grinch who steers the GOP’s antitax movement. Cutting taxes is the holy grail for the Republican right, but draining the treasury runs counter to national security. There isn’t enough money to properly fund homeland security or pick up the pace of reconstruction in Iraq, though the administration will be back for a war “supplemental” when Congress returns next week. That’s Washington-speak for billing the taxpayers, who pay for the war with reduced government services at home.






Another Stupid Iraq Decision


"The de-Ba'athification decree is the most popular thing we have done here," a senior coalition official said.

It was strongly promoted by Washington neo-conservatives like Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defence, and his friend, Ahmed Chalabi, a businessman convicted in Jordan of fraud who is now a member of Iraq's governing council.

"The problem is they didn't look at who were really leaders. They made the issue of rank too important and went down too low," said Husam al-Rawi, a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a professor in Baghdad University's architecture department. "Instead of targeting a thousand or a few hundred people, they targeted 80,000."

When Baghdad University and Iraq's other colleges re-open next week, around 2,000 senior staff have been told to stay at home, Dr Kubaisy estimates. Although they were Ba'ath party members, none was connected to the former regime's security apparatus.

"It's collective punishment. It's conviction without any charge," Dr Kubaisy said yesterday. "I'm becoming a bit paranoid but I think the Americans intend to force Iraqi brains to go abroad".

Anger was the prevailing mood among large sections of the Baghdad middle class, he said. People felt criminalised.

EL -- No wonder the Arab world says America is Israel's happy little puppet. From going to war without any pretext, to dissolving the Iraqi 400,000 man Army to removing 80,000 educated Iraqi's from their jobs - how did any of this benefit the US? Latest example of how not to rebuild Iraq.





Friday, August 29, 2003

Is Your Penis Only Worth $250,000?


Vote No On Proposition 12.

From Atrios -- DALLAS (Reuters) - An out-of-court settlement has been reached in the case of a North Texas man who woke up from bladder surgery only to find that doctors had amputated his penis without permission, lawyers said on Thursday.

Terms of the out-of-court settlement were not disclosed but Hurshell Ralls, 67, had been seeking over $5 million in a civil suit he filed in Wichita Falls, Texas, against the two doctors who removed his penis. They did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement.

Ralls' attorney Steve Briley said that his client was having surgery in 1999 to remove a cancerous bladder, which would likely include the removal of his prostate gland.

He contends that doctors removed Ralls' penis after they mistakenly thought the cancer had spread to the male sex organ. He charged the doctors -- John S. Dryden and Farid Khoury -- with not seeking consent for the penis amputation and negligence.

FULL DALLAS STORY.



GAO - Administration Rewarding Energy Companies and Cheney Lied to Congress


Though they are couched in very polite language, they are bombshells nonetheless.

The Report shows that Cheney's claim to Congress, in the August 2, 2001 letter, that responsive documents were provided to GAO, was plainly false



Tom Tomorrow has interesting observations about Dean NY Rally


And its odd coverage.

You have to go down near the bottom "Live from New York."

Next day update: the Times runs a subtly condescending look at the Dean phenomenon this morning, alluding to "feisty crowds" full of "Birkenstock liberals," "aging flower children and the tongue-studded next generation."

I think the reporter accidentally wandered into a Phish concert and got confused. What I saw was a crowd full of normal people from various walks of life—there was no scent of patchouli hanging in the air, nor were there any drum circles or giant puppets. But that’s the media narrative, and they have to stick to it: Dean, the outsider candidate running from the far-left fringe. And what puts him on the far-left fringe, in the media’s eyes? The fact that he refuses to fit neatly into the other media narrative: that of the enormously popular wartime President, whose challengers must tread lightly or risk appearing "divisive" in these troubled times.

What I saw last night was a centrist candidate—too conservative for my tastes, honestly—who nonetheless has the cojones to take on the President of the United States.




Judith Miller: Duped?


EL - Slate is being spun that Saddam himself had disinformation planted that he had all those weapons. The evidence indicates that the CIA and groups it supported planted the disinformation and then some members of the administration believed their own lies. However, I am glad to see that criticism of Miller is moving upstream in the media.



Rice and Rumsfeld flunking history


Slate -- According to America's Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq, a new study by former Ambassador James Dobbins, who had a lead role in the Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo reconstruction efforts, and a team of RAND Corporation researchers, the total number of post-conflict American combat casualties in Germany—and Japan, Haiti, and the two Balkan cases—was zero.



Chaos - 'Our house was searched by the Americans.'


Salam Pax has the story.

Also Is Baghdad Burning, which seems to require me to switch View Encoding to Unicode to get the correct marks, has other stories.

“[Iraq] is not a country in chaos and Baghdad is not a city in chaos.” – Paul Bremer

Where is this guy living? Is he even in the same time zone??? I’m incredulous… maybe he's from some alternate universe where shooting, looting, tanks, rape, abductions, and assassinations aren’t considered chaos, but it’s chaos in *my* world.

Ever since the occupation there have been 400 females abducted in Baghdad alone and that is only the number of recorded abductions. Most families don’t go to the Americans to tell about an abduction because they know it’s useless.

By BBC’s accounts there are 70 cars a day being hijacked in Baghdad alone…

Earlier she wrote:

I always say this war is about oil. It is. But it is also about huge corporations that are going to make billions off of reconstructing what was damaged during this war. Can you say Haliburton?

... Let’s pretend my cousin is a dolt. Let’s pretend he hasn’t been working with bridges for over 17 years. Let’s pretend he didn’t work on replacing at least 20 of the 133 bridges damaged during the first Gulf War. Let’s pretend he’s wrong and the cost of rebuilding this bridge is four times the number they estimated- let’s pretend it will actually cost $1,200,000. Let’s just use our imagination.

A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around- brace yourselves- $50,000,000 !!



The Wit and Wisdom Of Bill O'Reilly


Shut Up, Shut Up, Shut Up, Shut Up.

Fox News channel talk show host Bill O'Reilly says "shut up" the way other people say "um."

On his daily show, The O'Reilly Factor, he uses it as a place-holder for an idea still formulating in his brain. As a way to begin a sentence, end it, or punctuate it. Sometimes he says "shut up" with fury, eyes bulging. When he's being dismissive, he delivers it offhandedly and without real malice. Other times he says it gently, with a minxlike twinkle in his eye, signaling to all the world that he's just being frisky.

O'Reilly wants specific individuals to shut up, and he names them. He would like all gays and lesbians to zip it—even though he's invited them on his show to talk about … homosexuality. He's even heaved this impolite language at entire nations, demanding they recuse themselves from the international conversation.




Nightline Tonight - Double-Secret Probation


Nightline -- Let me be honest. Covering the death and destruction that seem to have become part of our everyday life gets wearing on us too. There was a huge car bomb attack in Iraq, the death toll is rising, and as I write this pictures of the carnage are playing out on the televisions in our newsroom. And sometimes I just want to say "enough." We make our livings covering that kind of thing. Crisis, conflict, and let's face it, human suffering, constitute news. And it can be exhausting. We like to have a little fun too.

So tonight we're going to ignore the bad things that happen today, at least I hope we can ignore them, and just do something lighter tonight. So we're going to take a look at a movie that all of us love. For the last couple of days, people here at Nightline have been throwing out their favorite lines from the movie. It's amazing how many people can quote extensively from the movie. And it really did set the tone for countless other movies that came after, some good, some terrible.




Dean Leading In Iowa


The exclusive KCCI News Channel 8 poll, conducted by Research 2000, finds Dean leading the pack of 10 candidates who are running or considering a run for president of the United States. The poll, conducted Aug. 25 through Aug. 27, shows that if the Iowa caucuses were held today, 25 percent of those polled would support Dean. Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt is second with 21 percent, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry is third with 16 percent and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman is fourth with 12 percent. The other candidates are all in single digits.

This newest poll is a huge leap forward for Dean. In the last KCCI NewsChannel 8 poll conducted June, 2003, Dean was in third place with 11 percent. Richard Gephardt was in first place in June with 27 percent.



Pro-Clark Front Page In Washington Monthly


If party leaders got it into their head that Clark was the best hope to beat Bush, there is much they could do to help the former general. They can provide him with endorsements, lend him organizational support, and direct campaign contributions his way. And should the race remain tight as the convention approaches, party regulars--who, as so-called "superdelegates," comprise 37 percent of the convention vote--could also provide Clark with the margin he may need for victory. Desperation, after all, imposes its own form of unity. Four years ago, angry and frustrated after eight years of a Democrat in the White House, once-bickering Republicans decided to cast their lot not with the senator whose "turn" it was or with the endearing maverick. They went with the guy who could win. Democrats may soon do the same.


Bush Bought the Lies to Push His War


What's the going rate for selling out the United States Constitution and throwing in with the fomenters of aggressive war?

$20,500.

...

This salient point should be remembered as the Regime rolls out a brand-new "product" come September: its report on the search for Saddam's elusive WMD. The CIA hired former UN weapons inspector David Kay, one of the most gung-ho drumbeaters for the war, to find, well, something in Iraq: plans, pop-guns, vats of goo--anything that might be massaged into a one-day headline for the credulous mouthbreathers in the media ("White House: We Found WMD!"), before, like those fabled "trailers of mass destruction" Bush once cited so definitively, it all dissolves in a back-page mist of hedging, qualification, retraction and debunking.

It goes without saying that Kay is not exactly a disinterested party. Until last fall, when he went to work as an "independent" consultant touting the Bush war "product," Kay was vice president of Scientific Applications International Corporation, a secretive high-tech defense company that pockets billions of Pentagon dollars--and is hip-deep in the Iraq conquest. Any conclusion by Kay that discredits the Bush war would erode SAIC's bottom line--not to mention the credibility of a certain well-paid drumbeater named David Kay. So there will be no such conclusion.




Bush Plans to Cut Federal Pay Raises


Cheap labor Republicans.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Bush said he was using his authority to change the pay structure in times of "national emergency or serious economic conditions" to limit raises to 2 percent.

Federal employees covered by the government's general schedule pay system were to receive a 2.7 percent across-the-board boost of basic pay and also an increase based on private-sector wages in the areas where they work, called locality pay.



Aid Agencies Retreat From Iraq


'Bring'em On' Makes Us 'Sitting Ducks'

A source that attended said employees asked why the U.N. kept them in Baghdad prior to the suicide attack, even though the organization was already at a threat level of four.

By the U.N.'s own definition, a level four alert should have mandated the organization to suspend operations and evacuate its people.

This weekend, the International Red Cross announced it's sending many foreigners home. The group received intelligence that it might be the next terror target, and decided the only way to keep its people safe, is to get them out. That's a call the U.N. has yet to make.

EL - Note that the whole story is a criticism of the UN, which is how CBS, a part of 'the liberal media,' broadcast it. I would think a 'fair and balanced' report would be about how unsafe the US has left Iraq. Except we know that the fair and balanced network is much more partisan than even this.




Campbell's resignation: reaction in quotes


"It points the finger at Tony Blair because he (Campbell) worked under Blair's regime.

"Blair is responsible ultimately for the loss of trust because he allowed the methods Campbell employed to operate.

"I think we have seen it from the beginning, this absolute obsession with the media ... We have seen it repeatedly, the way in which these methods have been employed. It is the ultimate in cynicism.

"They do have a strong bond and that makes Blair all the more culpable. We have seen the most appalling era of government communication."

- The home secretary, David Blunkett

Also a selection of some of Mr Campbell's best - and worst - spin doctoring.



Answering Critics GWB Gives a Campaign Speech - Not A Presidential Address


CBS NEWS - What the president did was give a fine campaign speech.

What the president didn’t do was address the substantive concerns about the administration’s reconstruction policy directly. Nor did he level with the American people about the costs in blood and bucks.

I’m left wondering which is more important to President Bush, reconstruction or re-election?

EL - I don't wonder.

The costs of failure in Iraq are obvious and immense: more instability in the volatile Arab world, a more fertile spawning ground for terrorists, a setback for Arab democracy and openness, and a huge gash on American influence. The case is not hard to make. But doing right it requires some honestly and willingness to argue with critics.

A leader addresses these challenges - a campaigner finesses them.



GOP outsources fundraising to India


The Indian magazine Business Standard reports a team of at least 75 people will man the phones in call centers set up in Noida and Gurgaon, India, as part of a fund-raising blitz.

The operators, hired by HCL eServe, a division of HCL Technologies, are required to telephone people in the United States and solicit their support for President George W. Bush and a donation for the Republican cause.




Poll: Iraq war makes US less safe


A majority – 52 percent – now give Bush a fair or poor rating regarding Iraq.

A new survey shows more Americans now believe the war in Iraq will make the U.S. less, not more, safe from terrorism, representing a reversal of public opinion in recent weeks.

The survey, conducted by pollster Scott Rasmussen for Rasmussen Reports, found 41 percent of Americans now believe the U.S. is a more dangerous place since the war in Iraq. Just 39 percent, meanwhile, think that the war will make the U.S. safer in the long run.


Thursday, August 28, 2003

"Sargeant, hand over half your money."


Soldiers are getting screwed on financial investments. Two to eight-and-a-half percent is a range of fairly common initial "front-end" loads. But military personnel are being slapped with loads of fifty percent on their savings for retirement.

Of course my nephew in Baghdad fell for this. I would have told him of some excellent $0 sales charge funds.




Who would Jesus tax?


GOP aims to make an example of Alabama governor who advocates fair tax system like Jesus would support.

There's no other state where a family of three or four pays tax on income of as little as $4,600 a year. Last year the lowest-earning one-fifth of Alabama taxpayers paid 10.3 percent of their incomes in state and local levies. But the richest 1 percent paid just 3.7 percent.

Enter Alabama's Republican Gov. Bob Riley, a staunchly conservative former congressman of the Newt Gingrich school who hosts Bible classes at the state Capitol in Montgomery. Confronted with a $675 million budget deficit, Riley revolted. Cutting that deeply, he feared, would trigger a "catastrophic failure of government" in a state already in the national cellar of per-capita spending for education and other basic services.

"I've spent a lot of time reading the New Testament," said Riley, "and it has three philosophies: Love God, love each other, and take care of the least among you. It is immoral to charge somebody making $5,000 a year an income tax."

Under Riley's proposal, just the top third of income earners, plus corporations and large farm and timber operations, would pay more taxes. The state's lowest-in-the-nation property taxes would rise moderately. Alabama would rise from 50th to 44th in total state and local per-capita taxes.

Alabama's mainstream religious denominations are backing Riley. Eight former presidents of the Alabama Baptist State Convention recently declared his plan will end unfair taxation, "bringing relief and justice to the poor who are our neighbors." Many mainstream business groups, including insurance, utility, banking and consumer-product firms, back the measure as a way to boost education and sharpen work-force skills.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, wants "to make Riley the poster child for Republicans who go bad. I want every conservative Republican elected official in the United States to watch Bob Riley lose and learn from it."





The General Wants In, May Wait Till Mid-September


In an interview from his office in Little Rock, Ark., General Clark said today that he intended to announce his decision whether he would run in two weeks or so.

"I've got to by then," he said. "I've just got to. I can't have done nothing, and if I do it, there's groundwork to be laid."

More than likely, General Clark would wait until sometime after Sept. 15, a financial reporting date for presidential contenders. If he announces before then, he would have to reveal how much money he raised in the third quarter of the year, which pales beside the millions generated by Dr. Dean, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and other leading Democratic candidates.



A Case Against the Case Against the Case For Howard Dean


Can We All Stop This Madness?

The key is to unite. In its most crude terms, the Democratic wing of the Democratic party can be broken down into two camps: The Deans and The Kucinichs. Can we all please unite around one of them? I am more than willing to throw full support behind Kucinich if he were setting the record for fundraising, grassroots turnout, and media coverage. All I ask is the same from you because right now that person is Howard Dean.



NeoCon 101


Some basic questions answered.

What do neoconservatives believe?

"Neocons" believe that the United States should not be ashamed to use its unrivaled power – forcefully if necessary – to promote its values around the world. Some even speak of the need to cultivate a US empire. Neoconservatives believe modern threats facing the US can no longer be reliably contained and therefore must be prevented, sometimes through preemptive military action.

Most neocons believe that the US has allowed dangers to gather by not spending enough on defense and not confronting threats aggressively enough. One such threat, they contend, was Saddam Hussein and his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Since the 1991 Gulf War, neocons relentlessly advocated Mr. Hussein's ouster.

and more...



Liar, Liar


Are liberals copying conservatives in playing up their opponents lies?

The popularity of liar-liar TV and publishing indicates a deepening interest in politics, but only for a political conversation that's narrow enough to entertain simple-minded viewers and readers, many of whom regard politics as one of their hobbies, like clogging or license-plate collecting, or worse yet, as their secular religion. To dismiss the liar-lair books as preaching to the choir misses the whole point: The devout demand a Sunday sermon, and the last thing they want to hear is an open-minded lecture about atheism.

Liberal scriveners may improve their team's political lot by matching the conservative investment in liar-liar stock, but it will come at the expense of their credibility.

EL -- I disagree here, not responding to the outrageous claims of conservatives is a losing strategy for liberals and for America.


Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Early Voting Starts On Texas Amendments


Locations are here.

League of Women Voters Guides are PDF files here.

Vote No on Prop 12.

It gives the responsibility to the legislature to determine maximum non-economic damages in all trials, not just medical trials. That is the "all other" clause in the wording.

Right now they have set the maximum award for death, pain, disfigurement, sorrow, grief, anger, - all non-economic damages- at $250,000.

What is your child's or mother's or non-working spouse's life worth? What is being giving the wrong drug and being paralyzed in constant pain and disfigured for the rest of her life worth to a small girl?

No matter the cause or the outrageousness of the action or the amount of pain or disfigurement - $250,000 plus any economic damages her lawyer can prove.

The insurance companies have persuaded doctors to lobby for this, arguing this will lower malpractice rates. States that have adopted similar measures have still seen rising rates. Rates are based on investment results and overall insurance company expenses more than large rewards. States that have taken other regulatory actions have seen lower rates.

This will apply to all cases later but for the first two years medical related only.

If in doubt vote no on other amendments. Many are worded very badly. With the GOP in power it is a rare beneficial bill coming out.



Iraq goes from bad to worse


How could a country, the Iraqis ask, that spent $9bn a month fighting the war against Saddam not restore the power supply to a city within four months? When I was here in June, I listened to Paul Bremer, the American administrator of Iraq, insist that there was now more electricity being supplied than under Saddam. The Iraqis scoffed at his exaggeration. Now when American officials promise that prewar supply really will be restored by the end of next month few believe them.

Two months ago eager aid workers were arriving in droves, filling empty hotel rooms and beginning dozens of long overdue projects. After last week's bombing at the UN headquarters in eastern Baghdad, those same young people are hurrying to leave.

The US military were the first to suffer from the growing security nightmare. To begin with the army was reluctant to admit how many attacks it was facing. Now officers talk of more than a dozen incidents every day.



My Dean Video Tape


I may have a house party soon. I taped his 45 minute talk and Q&A at an Iowa caucus meeting off of CSPAN. I gave it to my ex-wife Pat who watched it. She isn't into politics. She liked it and Dean. I have convinced her to vote for Dean in the primary and come back for the delegate vote at night, at least for right now. The primary is over six months away as she says.




In a Long Presidential Race, Dean Sprints


Dean Rocks!
The staggering, seemingly spontaneous crowds turning up to meet him — about 10,000 in Seattle on Sunday and a similar number in Bryant Park in Manhattan last night — are unheard of in the days of the race when most candidates concentrate on the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire and would seem formidable even in October 2004.

Yesterday morning, the campaign took another audacious step, saying that it would broadcast television advertisements in six new states beginning on Friday, and that it expected to raise $10.3 million in the three months ending Sept. 30 — more than any other Democrat in a similar period save for President Bill Clinton in 1995.

"We have to be in the president's face to win," Dr. Dean, 54, said aboard the ancient Boeing 737 his staff dubbed the Grassroots Express.

"When this president talks, sometimes the opposite of what he says is really the truth," he said yesterday in Chicago, between speaking to a tepid union convention and being embraced by about 1,500 supporters atop Navy Pier, "and if we don't call him on it, we can't win."




Fair and Balanced - the Play


Fair & Balanced is a scathing satirical attack on Fox News Channel and its claim of ownership to the words "fair and balanced." Playwright Brian Flemming, who co-wrote the Off-Broadway smash hit Bat Boy: The Musical, penned this dark one-act comedy in which "Fair" and "Balanced" are characters—they are prisoners held in an underground dungeon, and every night at 8 p.m. a foul character named "Bill O'Reilly" comes down into the dungeon to torture them.

By turns profane, eloquent, shocking and touching—and always hilarious—Fair & Balanced may just slice, dice and chop its way into theater history and create a lasting comic villain out of Bill O’Reilly. Or what is left of him.



US Runs Out Of Iraqi Assets, US Taxpayers Will Now Pay Iraqi Salaries


U.S. authorities in Iraq have all but exhausted the seized assets they have used to pay Iraqi civil servants, and some administration and congressional officials said on Tuesday that extra money may be needed sooner than expected for U.S. efforts in the occupied state.



Kuttner Likes Clark


If Clark runs, all bets are off

He's the former NATO supreme commander who headed operations in Kosovo, a Rhodes Scholar who graduated first in his class at West Point, and a Vietnam vet with several combat medals including a purple heart. He has been a tough critic of Bush's foreign policy. His domestic positions are not as fully fashioned, but he'd repeal Bush's tax cuts and revisit the so-called Patriot Act.

Clark is progressive on domestic issues by way of his military background. Though it is very much a hierarchy, the military is also the most egalitarian island in this unequal society. Top executives -- four-star generals -- make about nine times the pay of buck privates.

In corporate life, the ratio of CEO to worker bee is more like 900 times. The military also has America's most comprehensive child care system. And, as Clark likes to point out, everyone has health care. He's also pro-affirmative action and prochoice.

My favorite Clark riposte is on guns. He grew up hunting, in a family that had more than a dozen hunting rifles. But he's pro-gun control. "If you want to fire an assault weapon," he says, "join the army." The NRA can put that in its AK-47 and smoke it.



Poll: Bush Support Eroding In Maryland - Dean Tops Democrats


In the poll by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies, 48 percent of voters questioned disapproved of the president's performance and 43 percent approved. In an April poll by the Annapolis-based company, 62 percent of voters liked what Bush was doing and only 31 percent disapproved.

When Democrats were asked to pick their favorites, Howard Dean with 25 percent and Joe Lieberman with 23 percent were far ahead of the rest of the seven candidates. John Kerry at 11 percent and Richard Gephardt at 10 percent were the only other candidates in double figures.

The poll showed that Bush would be in a tight race with both Dean and Lieberman if the general election were held today.



Women's Groups Endorse Moseley Braun for President


On the occasion of Women's Equality Day on Tuesday, a coalition of national women's groups announced their endorsement of former Democratic Sen. Carol Moseley Braun for president at a Washington press conference.

Kim Gandy, head of the National Organization for Women PAC, said the endorsement will result in the support of "hundreds of thousands of contributing members and over 500 chapters across the country" in Moseley Braun's bid for the Democratic nomination for the White House in 2004.





Dean Surges To Commanding Lead in New Hampshire


Democrat Howard Dean has jumped out to a commanding 21-point lead over rival John Kerry in the latest New Hampshire poll.

Dean, who held a single-digit advantage in a recent survey, led Kerry 38 percent to 17 percent in the Zogby International poll of likely primary voters conducted Aug. 23-26 and released Wednesday.




Bush in the hot seat over shuttle's future


President Bush, silent for three years on NASA's future, must quickly define his intentions for the shuttle program if the space agency is to recover from Tuesday's critical review of its safety and management problems, key members of Congress said.

While acknowledging that Congress was in part responsible for NASA's troubles, lawmakers said providing long-term vision and goals for the agency is the administration's responsibility.



Googling for George


On BuzzFlash -- Ask Google, "Who will be president in 2004?" for example, and it will answer (as of this writing, anyway) "Howard Dean for America." A "Will George Bush steal the 2004 election?" query provides information on how taxpayers gave Bush $67 million to steal the election the last time around. Then, too, (in case you've been without e-mail for the last few months and haven't heard), there's the exercise of typing "weapons of mass destruction," into the Google search engine and hitting "I'm feeling lucky" only to discover that "The weapons you are looking for are currently unavailable. The country might be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your weapons inspectors mandate."

In other words, not only does Google divine what's useful, it's fun for the whole family.



The Report is Out - NASA's Broken Safety Culture


NASA's Underlying Woes: Fading Support and Science

Those two problems -- a slow starvation of public support and a failure within NASA to maintain its scientific attitude and edge -- dragged NASA down for a decade or more, the report found, and ultimately pulled Columbia to its fiery end.

Failings as transcendent as those will require not just technical fixes but profound changes in expectations and behaviors within the space agency, the White House and both chambers of Congress -- and among the millions of citizens they represent, who may feel the primal tug of the stars but who, over the years, have asked more and more of the U.S. space program even as they offered it less and less.

Report Blames Flawed NASA Culture for Tragedy

The shuttle Columbia and a crew of seven were lost on Feb. 1 because NASA, for the second time in its recent history, allowed its engineering to grow careless, its safety system to wither, its communications to become muddled and prudent professional curiosity to become stunted.

NYTimes - Inertia and Indecision at NASA

The bitter bottom line of the Columbia disaster comes down to this: NASA never absorbed the lessons of the Challenger explosion in 1986, and four successive American presidents never decided where America's space program should head after the cold war — and what it would cost in dollars and risk to human life to get there.

Those were the brutal conclusions of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, issued yesterday six and a half months after a sunny Saturday morning when Americans awoke to the horror of another space shuttle disintegrating in the sky. What is striking in the 248-page report, however, is how little had changed in the 17 years between the disasters.

Columbia accident board casts wide net of blame

The Houston Chronicle underplays the story. You cannot find it on the front page of its website, the "top stories." You have to know to go to their Space section.

"NASA had conflicting goals of cost, schedule and safety," said U.S. Air Force Gen. John Barry, the Columbia board's executive director. "Unfortunately, safety lost."




Shitiest CEO's Get The Biggest Raises


Chief executives of companies that had the largest layoffs and most underfunded pensions and that moved operations offshore to avoid U.S. taxes were rewarded with the biggest pay hikes in 2002, on average, a new report has found.

The study, released Monday by United for a Fair Economy in Boston and the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, used methodology that some companies criticized as misleading. Still, the report may add to the furor over executive pay.

Carol Bowie, director of governance research at the Investor Responsibility Research Center in Washington, said the study "demonstrates the flaws in how some incentive pay plans are constructed."

Many plans "are fairly short-term in nature and all of these things — layoffs, underfunded pensions and going offshore to avoid taxes — can pump up short-term results," Bowie said.

While the median CEO pay increase was 6% in 2002, median pay rocketed 44% for chiefs of the 50 companies that announced the biggest layoffs in 2001, according to the study.

At the 30 companies with the greatest shortfall in their employees' pension funds in 2002, CEOs that year made 59% more than the CEO median reported in BusinessWeek's annual executive compensation report, the study said.

Among the 24 companies with the most offshore subsidiaries in tax-haven countries, CEOs earned 87% more than the median pay for the last three years, the study concluded.

EL - somehow this may relate to the earlier letter below.



Bush 2004 Deficit to Reach $480 Billion, Report Forecasts


The federal government will post a record $480 billion deficit next year and accumulate nearly $1.4 trillion in new debt over the coming decade before climbing back into the black by 2012, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said yesterday.

But if President Bush succeeds in making his tax cuts permanent, the government will run substantial budget deficits as far as the eye can see, the forecast made clear. Add the White House's proposed $400 billion prescription drug benefit, and the deficit would total $324 billion in 2013.

In a departure from past projections, the CBO's update lays out the stark policy choices facing Congress and the president when they return to Washington after Labor Day. Those decisions will establish whether the government quickly returns to the budget surpluses of 1998 through 2001 or accumulates record deficits just when the baby-boom generation begins to retire.



I get emails about what is hapening in corporate America


Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

True Story

I am writing this today after a long meeting about how our story while improving isn't improving fast enough. We have had staffing cut in half a year ago and in the last 6 months have lost 3 more people. I now spend half the week on the university campus and half in the other store. So dropping from 18 people to 9 then 6 and now 5 1/2. We have increased our production by 17 % and we are all burned out, disgruntled and frayed around the edges.

My boss’s boss presents me with a 25-cent lapel pin and tells me of the numerous customer letters of praise he receives about my service. He follows this with a reprimand to use "only red pens as that will make reading the order easier and greatly improve our efficiency! So as I usually do I say "Ok boss."

I think about the captain of the Titanic rearranging the deckchairs as the ship sinks and continue to go about the four jobs I am trying to accomplish. He then tells my coworker Jane what a fine job she is doing and follows with "but you need to dust the backs of the computers as they are a little dusty!"

She is also doing four things at once and responds through gritted teeth "I'll get right on it."

I realize this jackass is unable of giving a compliment because he sees it as weakness. I decide to take my talented wife Mary's advice – do exactly what they say.

I stop everything I am doing, go get a red pen and put it prominently in my pocket and start to dust the back of the computers.

Jane looks at me as if I am crazy and asks sotto voce "What the hell are you doing? All these orders are going to be late!"

I reply "I'm doing what da man asked me to do."

As customers lined up at the counter and machines started to shut down and the only noise was the grumbling of the disgusted people begging for service I noticed that my boss looked nervous but his boss didn't notice any problem. Serenely he left the store and at last my boss asked, "What's going on in here why are all the machine shutting off?”

I replied "I don't know. I've been doing what Stanley (da man) asked me to do.”

“Oh, ok. I guess that need to be taken care of” he responded.

Jane buried her head in a small project and we instructed the front counter people to give jobs away for free to anyone that complained as da man has told us we should.

By the time we left, we had given away 7 jobs costing the store $225 and the reputation we had as one of the last Winko's that did a good job.

I hate doing a bad job but the only way to fix this mess is to follow procedures that make no sense, piss off enough customers and loose enough business to get somebody with authority to really look at the significant problems not the color of the pen I used. A pen color I have used for 4 years without a single color related catastrophe.

Welcome to the new corporate America. Procedure and bureaucracy rule and the people at the top have no idea what business they are running. They are in it only to gut the pension fund, inflate the stock and golden parachute out just before it goes in the toilet - taking all the stockholder's and peon's life savings with it.

I, for one, refuse to become a corporate weasel but I will take on that protective camouflage when I have to. I will give away all that I can to keep the pleasant, patient, long suffering customer happy when I can.

As I look for my new, better job I realize what I want: to work for people that still want to come to work and do a good job, who still strive for excellence and who create a pleasant environment filled with people that care about their job and each other.

I know it's out there I just need to find it. Until then I plan to follow the rules to the letter until the rules and their creators drive us out of business.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest and now to a much deserved nap and then let the killings begin.

John Doe

Make the pie higher!



Texas Poll


No one is coming out looking good in Texas politics these days.

I am not sure if this is a good idea - Democrats to make fast trip to Texas.

Both of these are from the Houston Chronicle which requires registration.


Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Girl Blogging Iraqi in Baghdad


From Gunther Concept - Although I hate the American military presence in Iraq in its current form, I don’t even hate the American troops… or wait, sometimes I do:

- I hated them all through the bombing. Every single day and night we had to sit in terror of the next bomb, the next plane, the next explosion. I hated them when I saw the expression of terror, and remembrance, on the faces of my family and friends, as we sat in the dark, praying for our lives, the lives of our loved ones and the survival of Iraq.

- I hated them on April 11- a cool, gray day: the day our family friend lost her husband, her son and toddler daughter when a tank hit the family car as they were trying to evacuate the house in Al-A’adhamiya district- an area that saw heavy fighting.

- I hated them on June 3 when our car was pulled over for some strange reason in the middle of Baghdad and we (3 women, a man and a child) were made to get out and stand in a row, while our handbags were rummaged, the men were frisked and the car was thoroughly checked by angry, brisk soldiers. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words the humiliation of being searched.

- I hated them for two hours on July 13. As we were leaving Baghdad, we were detained with dozens of other cars at a checkpoint in the sweltering, dizzying heat.

- I hated them the night my cousin’s house was raided- a man with a wife, daughter and two young girls. He was pushed out of the house with his hands behind his head while his wife and screaming daughters were made to wait in the kitchen as around 20 troops systematically searched the house, emptying closets, rummaging underwear drawers and overturning toy boxes.

- I hated them on April 28 when they shot and killed over a dozen kids and teenagers in Falloojeh- a place west of Baghdad. The American troops had taken over a local school (one of the only schools) and the kids and parents went to stand in front of the school in a peaceful demonstration. Some kids started throwing rocks at the troops, and the troops opened fire on the crowd. That incident was the beginning of bloodshed in Falloojeh.

On the other hand…

- I feel terrible seeing the troops standing in this merciless sun- wearing heavy clothes… looking longingly into the air-conditioned interiors of our cars. After all, in the end this is Baghdad, we’re Iraqi- we’ve seen this heat before.

- I feel bad seeing them stand around, drinking what can only be lukewarm water after hours in the sun- too afraid to accept any proffered ice water from ‘strange Iraqis’.

- I feel pity watching their confused, frightened expressions as some outraged, jobless, father of five shouts at them in a language they can’t even begin to understand.

- I get hopeless, seeing them pointing their guns and tanks at everyone because, in their eyes, anyone could be a ‘terrorist’ and almost everyone is an angry, frustrated Iraqi.

- I feel sympathy seeing them sitting bored and listless on top of their tanks and in their cars- wishing they were somewhere else.

So now you know. Mixed feelings in a messed up world.

Baghdad Burning -- I will point out that Iraq before the wars starting with Iran was the most developed Arabic state. Iraq had a highly educated secular population with a good standard of living. There is now 60% unemployment thanks to a series of incredibly bad decisions by our appointed governor and fundamentalists and al-Qaeda are in Baghdad where Saddam had kept them out.

"God damn, we never HAD Al-Qaeda before this occupation... fundamentalists kept their heads down. Now they are EVERYWHERE- they 'represent' the Iraqi people on Bremer's puppet council..."



Clark Alleges White House Pushed CNN to Fire Him


Only Fox and very conservative NewsMax are going with this story now - The White House pressured CNN to fire former military analyst Gen. Wesley Clark (search), the retired Army chief told a Phoenix radio station on Monday.

"The White House actually back in February apparently tried to get me knocked off CNN and they wanted to do this because they were afraid that I would raise issues with their conduct of the war," Clark told Newsradio 620 KTAR. "Apparently they called CNN. I don't have all the proof on this because they didn't call me. I've only heard rumors about it."

CNN had no immediate comment on the general's allegations. White House officials told Fox News that they are "adamant" that they "never tried to get Wesley Clark kicked off the air in any way, shape or form." Beyond that, the White House "won't respond to rumors."

No media except CSPAN has picked up the Zogby Poll Draft Clark is trying to pitch. While a "blind bio" poll of candidates show Clark beating all the Dems and even Bush they seem to downplay the result that shows when given a name less than 5% of Dem primary likely voters are inclined to choose him.



Another Lie, One Among Many


Jimmy Breslin - Christine Whitman was the EPA head until recently. I wasn't disturbed that her education was a jump horse school, but I thought she was better than standing up and doing what she was told by George W. Bush's White House, telling lies to a public who had to breathe this air. Turns out she isn't much of a human being.

The EPA has just admitted that they lied for all this time.

I was a few hundred yards up on Liberty Street when the Two Tower of the World Trade Center blew. I put my nose inside my shirt and ran through smoke that turned day into night. In the smoke were computers, asbestos, pulverized glass, human bodies, lead. I got on another street and one tower blew up. Again, the air was black with a pulverized 110-story building.

I did not feel well for two months. I never said anything because I was too embarrassed. A couple of thousand had died. So many others were scorched and broken and maimed. I had no right to open my mouth, I thought. Besides, from the first day, the government's Environmental Protection Agency had announced that air was remarkably clean. Work on. Breathe on. You're fine.

They lied. They lied because the administration did not want people not going to work. They lied the first week and they lied the week after that and they have lied every day of the past two years to the people of this city.

And now we have this administration welding their lies together on two matters, the air you breathe and the war they insist is good for us. We've just dealt with 40 years of lying and death. It is getting worse. "We're winning in Iraq," your poor president says.



Right Makes Stuff Up and Is Full Of It


I have come to the realization that the Right just makes shit up to piss off the Left, because the Left is trying to be honest and the Right is full of it. That is why there is cottage industry of books about the Right and their lies. Can there be a decent, truthful Right? -- Bill Nazzaro commenting on CalPundit.



Cash Coming In For Dean, TV Ads Going Out


Howard Dean’s insurgent campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday raised the bar for third-quarter fund-raising to $10.3 million and announced it would run television ads in six states starting this week.

Trippi said the campaign would begin running a television spot later this week in selected markets in Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Washington State and Wisconsin. He expected the cost to be around $1 million.

The ad, which will run for two weeks, takes aim at President Bush’s tax cut as well as the invasion of Iraq and the Democrats who backed it.

“I opposed the war with Iraq when too many Democrats supported it because I want a foreign policy consistent with American values,” Dean says.

“I created jobs as governor, balanced budgets, and made sure every child in my state has health insurance,” Dean says in the ad. “As president, I’ll make sure every American does, too.”

Trippi said the front-loaded nomination process meant it was essential to get on the air in the early states. South Carolina, Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma hold their primaries on Feb. 3, Washington State on Feb. 7 and Wisconsin on Feb. 17.



A Big Moment In Losing The Peace


U.S. civil administrator L. Paul Bremer III had been on the job in Baghdad less than two weeks when he announced a decision that sent shockwaves through Iraqi society.

With a stroke of the pen, Bremer dissolved Iraq's vast armed services, sending pink slips to more than 400,000 armed officers and enlisted men whose light resistance had helped secure the U.S.-led military victory against their government.

It was a decision that went against the advice of U.S. experts and exiled Iraqi military officers. They had spent months preparing detailed plans for the Bush administration that called for giving the Iraqi army a key role in winning the peace.

Now, many Iraqis believe, the cost of that decision is becoming painfully clear. U.S. troops and occupation officials are struggling to go it alone in defending themselves and Iraq against daily attacks by armed opponents, who are blowing up water mains, oil pipelines, electric towers, military convoys and, this month, the Jordanian Embassy and the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad.

EL - This was incredibly stupid and all the experts said so, except for that elite college GOP glee club around the VP and Rumsfeld.




A reminder that falsehoods spread and matter


The Daily Howler brought this to my attention: The Untruth Hurts, Even Online.

A good point is to reply to false stories immediately, Republicans spread them to rally their base. They often used a tactic in the Clinton years and are now repeating the pattern of having one columnist use a false fact and then go more mainstream reporting "So-and-so said" without having themselves on record with the falsehood. You know, exactly like Bush attributing a falsehood to the Brits after his CIA said they believed it wasn't true. I think any attribution the GOP makes saying "so-and-so says" should be immediately believed to be false.



The Search for WMDs


Cursor -- A Seattle forum on pre-Iraq war intelligence claims draws 1,100 people. One attendee quotes panelist and former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson as having told the gathering that it's of great interest to him to "see Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs."

U.S. weapons experts cast doubt on claims made by President Bush during an October 7 speech in Cincinnati, in which he said that Iraqi drones "could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas," and that Iraq was "exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States." Earlier: Speech also hyped Iraq-al-Qaeda connection.

In a New York Times op-ed, former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter wonders why the U.S. failed to secure the complex that housed the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate, the repository for [ALL] Iraqi government records relating to its weapons programs.



On lighter notes


President Bush suffered a sharp dip in the Gallup Poll numbers. The poll shows that the president would lose next year’s election to an unnamed Democrat. The next day five of nine Democrats were campaigning with paper bags over their heads.

Howard Dean spoke in Buffalo last Monday to a national college convention of Young Democrats. It’s a start. Howard Dean hasn’t had a drink in 22 years, so he’s got a lot of bridge-building to do before he can connect with college students.


Frontpagemag.com has a flaming wingnut lunactic attack on Clark


I don't think I'll provide a direct link and main google doesn't have it yet.
It can be reached via google news searching.



Energized crowd hears Dean in San Antonio


Riding a populist wave fueled by plain talk and creative use of the Internet, presidential hopeful Howard Dean swung through San Antonio and Austin Monday, vowing to win in November 2004 by being a man of the people, not a politician of the powerful.

"This president has forgotten about ordinary Americans," Dean said to thunderous applause from more than 1,000 energetic supporters at La Villita Assembly Hall. "We're going to take this country back. The power to change this country is in your hands."

Dean, who was making his first major campaign foray into the Lone Star State, made no bones about his willingness to take on Bush on his home turf — a quality that has breathed life into some sectors of the Democratic base.

At both rallies, he hammered Bush on his foreign policy, the state of the economy, health care, the environment and affirmative action.

"This president played the race card, and for that reason, he deserves a one-way, permanent bus ticket to Crawford," he said.

Dean also praised the 11 Texas senators who fled to New Mexico, saying that they have "the backbone to stand up for what's right in this country."



The Other Time the GOP in Texas Sought Democrats for a Quorum


Before the so-called Texas 11, before the Killer Ds, even before the Killer Bees' 1979 dash from the Legislature, there were 13 Reconstruction-era bolters.

And their treatment when they returned apparently marked the last time state senators took dramatic action to punish a quorum-breaking colleague.

The last time, that is, until last week, when Republicans imposed hefty fines on 11 Democratic senators who remain in New Mexico to halt action on a redistricting effort designed to send more Republicans to Congress.

Some see parallels to the 1870 clash, which led to one senator's expulsion.

"Whenever political power turns over ... the party losing its grip on power fights with every tool available to keep control as long as possible," said political scientist Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University. "Those coming to power seek to stomp on the fingers of those holding on to the edge of the ledge.

"That's the situation in Texas now."

More on the current Texas 11 here in the Houston Chronicle.



Before the war began, I urged the president to think through the consequences.


Latest Byrd:

Before the war began, I urged the president to think through the consequences. There was no doubt as to the military outcome of war between the United States and Iraq; our might was unquestioned. But I was very concerned about the repercussions that would follow, especially if we were unable to persuade key allies to join our effort.

Today I urge President Bush to review his options. It is time to ask the world community not only for assistance in restoring peace and security in Iraq but also for participation in moving Iraq toward self-government. While the secretary of state has opened a dialogue with the United Nations, it must be a true exchange and not a U.S. monologue.

A hallmark of true leadership is the ability to admit when one is wrong and to learn from errors. Candidate George W. Bush spoke about the need for humility from a great and powerful nation. He said, "Let us reject the blinders of isolationism, just as we refuse the crown of empire. Let us not dominate others with our power -- or betray them with our indifference. And let us have an American foreign policy that reflects American character. The modesty of true strength. The humility of real greatness." It is time for the Bush administration to swallow its false pride and return to that philosophy of humility before it is too late.

Byrd's speeches on the Seante floor before the war made me appreciate CSPAN.



How People Find Me


Google - "phonebook:bread & chocolate va" gives them my Notebook, contrary to what the New York Times thinks.

Google "Easter Lemming" - I'm number one of course.

I'm also number one for Liberal News. I get a lot of people from Canada google that way where they have a Liberal party.

I am now number one on just lemming.

Yahoo is the same.

Besides an occasional email, eXtreme Tracking lets me keep track of how people are finding me. I also have my first counter still up, Nedstat, which says this is approaching 17,000 views since it started tracking. EXtreme tracking says about 14,000 unique visitors.

Here is a recent listing of top words used to find me:

1462 10.69% liberal
1371 10.02% news
476 3.48% lemming
235 1.71% the
171 1.25% and
126 0.92% iraq
120 0.87% bush
105 0.76% rebecca
103 0.75% easter
103 0.75% ramos
91 0.66% nude
75 0.54% war
58 0.42% playmate
56 0.40% for
53 0.38% 2003
47 0.34% spank
46 0.33% lesbian
44 0.32% inferno

Dean is a bit further down.

I haven't blogged about the video from the classic episode of Couplings "Lesbian Spank Inferno" or Playboy Playmate Rebecca Ramos for a while but maybe I should.

I do recommend people visit Dirty Old Man International Association for nice and clean not dirty nude pictures but haven't mentioned an Australian site where people daily submit their best amature nude pictures or pictures they find on the internet. Both DOMAI and Goddess Post seem more naturist or nudist photos, and some voyeur and exhibitionist on amateur Goddess Post, and not the real free sex porn that people are looking for.

Of course, there is a phrase for what I am doing now - trolling for hits ;-). I toss some loaded words into a blog and see what happens to my view rate.

Kinda silly, most don't come back but some will. There is a reason why stories in Penthouse and Playboy are often about liberal politics, conservatives don't like sex. Of course, Hustler is the low-brow version of Playboy with satires of Rev. Falwell in the outhouse with his mother. I don't like Hustler, it captures an audience that believes because of their upbringing sex is dirty.

I've never gone hog wild and liberally sprinkled the blog with names of porn stars like Jenna Jameson, Aria Giovanni, Brianna Banks, Devon, Miko, Gauge, Amber, Cameo, Obsession, Sierra, Dee, Monique, or even my favorite sci-fi actress Traci Lords ;-).

You might say this is an experiment to remind people looking for naked pictures or porn to vote and keep their freedom to look. For maybe someone socially liberal but fiscally conservative?



Monday, August 25, 2003

The Bush Résumé



PAST WORK EXPERIENCE

I ran for congress and lost.

I produced a Hollywood slasher B movie.

I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas; company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. Biggest move: Traded Sammy Sosa to the Chicago White Sox.

With my father's help (and his name) was elected Governor of Texas.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS GOVERNOR

I changed pollution laws for power and oil companies and made Texas the most polluted state in the Union.

I replaced Los Angeles with Houston as the most smog ridden city in America.

Cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas government to the tune of billions in borrowed money. Set record for most executions by any Governor in American history.

I became president after losing the popular vote by over 500,000 votes, with the help of my father's appointments to the Supreme Court.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS PRESIDENT

I attacked and took over two countries.

I spent the U.S. surplus and bankrupted the treasury.

I shattered record for biggest annual deficit in history.

I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12 month period.

I set all-time record for biggest drop in the history of the stock market.

I am the first president in decades to execute a federal prisoner.

I am the first president in US history to enter office with a criminal record.

In the first year in office set the all-time record for most days on vacation by any president in US history.

After taking the entire month of August off for vacation, I presided over the worst security failure in US history.

I set the record for most campaign fundraising trips by any president in US history.

In my first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their job.

I cut unemployment benefits for more out of work Americans than any president in US history.

I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.

I appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than any president in US history.

I set the record for the least amount of press conferences than any president since the advent of television.

I signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any president in US history.

I presided over the biggest energy crises in US history and refused to intervene when corruption was revealed.

I presided over the highest gasoline prices in US history and refused to use the national reserves as past presidents have.

I cut healthcare benefits for war veterans.

I set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously take to the streets to protest me (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.

I dissolved more international treaties than any president in US history.

I've made my presidency the most secretive and unaccountable of any in US history.

Members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in US history.
(The 'poorest' multimillionaire, Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her).

I am the first president in US history to have all 50 states of the Union simultaneously fall into debt.

I presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud of any market in any country in the history of the world.

As president I ordered a US attack and military occupation of a sovereign nation, and I did so against the will of the United Nations and the world community.

I created the largest government department bureaucracy in the history of the United States.

I set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases, more than any president in US history. The total non-military, non security related defense spending when up while I was cutting taxes for my friends.

I am the first president in US history to have the United Nations remove the US from the human rights commission.

I am the first president in US history to have the United Nations remove the US from the elections monitoring board.

I removed more checks and balances, and have the least amount of congressional oversight than any presidential administration in US history.

I rendered the entire United Nations irrelevant.

I withdrew from the World Court of Law.

I refused to allow inspectors access to US prisoners of war and by default no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions.

I am the first president in US history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 US elections).

I am the all-time US (and world) record holder for most corporate campaign donations.

My biggest lifetime campaign contributor, who is also one of my best friends, presided over one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation).

I spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in US history.

I am the first president to run and hide when the US came under attack (and then lied saying the enemy had the code to Air Force 1.)

I am the first US president to establish a secret shadow government.

I took the biggest world sympathy for the US after 911, and in less than a year made the US the most resented country in the world (possibly the biggest diplomatic failure in US and world history).

I, with a policy of first 'disengagement' and then my roadmap to peace, created the most hostile Israeli-Palestine relations in at least 30 years.

I am the first US president in history to have a majority of the people of Europe (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and stability.

I am the first US president in history to have the people of South Korea more threatened by the US than their immediate neighbor, North Korea.

I changed US policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.

I set all-time record for number of administration appointees who violated US law by not selling huge investments in corporations bidding for government contracts.

I failed to fulfill my pledge to get Osama Bin Laden 'dead or alive'.

I failed to capture the anthrax killer who tried to murder the leaders of our country at the United States Capitol building. After 18 months I have no leads and zero suspects.

In the 18 months following the 911 attacks I have successfully prevented any public investigation into the biggest security failure in the history of the United States.

I removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any other president in US history.

In a little over two years I created the most divided country in decades, possibly the most divided the US has ever been since the civil war.

I entered office with the strongest economy in US history and in less than two years had every single economic category turned around headed down.

RECORDS AND REFERENCES

I have At least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine (Texas driving record has been erased and is not available).

I was AWOL from National Guard and deserted the military during a time of war. Nearly all my military records seem to be missing.

I refuse to take drug test or even answer any questions about drug use.

All records of my tenure as governor of Texas have been spirited away to my fathers library, sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All records of any SEC investigations into my insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All minutes of meetings for any public corporation I served on the board are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

Any records or minutes from meetings I (or my VP) attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.

PERSONAL REFERENCES

For personal references, please speak to my dad or uncle James Baker (They can be reached in their offices at the Carlyle Group where they are helping to divide up the spoils of the US-Iraq war and plan for the next one.)

Very minor corrections made to an email sent to me by Dale Napier.



Battles Are Brewing for Control of the Senate


Terry Neal has an article covering the Senate races for next year.

The House appears to be solidly in the GOP's hands. But in the Senate, the Republicans hold only a one-seat majority. Democrats will be defending 19 seats to the GOP's 15 and although less than a third of those 34 seats are truly competitive, control is truly up for grabs. If there is an advantage at this point it is probably a small one for the GOP, based less on national trends than circumstances in individual states.



Cheney Developed Energy Plan From Industry Plans But Still Refuses To Say How


The White House collaborated heavily with corporations in developing President Bush's energy policy but repeatedly refused to give congressional investigators details of the meetings, according to a federal report issued yesterday.

The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said in the report that Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham privately discussed the formulation of Bush's policy "with chief executive officers of petroleum, electricity, nuclear, coal, chemical and natural gas companies, among others."

An energy task force, led by Vice President Cheney, relied for outside advice primarily on "petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, electricity industry representatives and lobbyists," while seeking limited input from academic experts, environmentalists and policy groups, the GAO said.

Among the previously disclosed meetings were private sessions for Kenneth L. Lay, then the chairman of Enron Corp., the Texas energy trading company that collapsed in the nation's largest accounting scandal. Lay was given a 30-minute meeting with Cheney and a conference with a top aide for the task force.

David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States and head of the GAO, said in an interview that the standoff over the task force documents called into question the existence of "a reasonable degree of transparency and an appropriate degree of accountability in government."

Walker said the energy investigation was the first instance since he took office in November 1998 in which the GAO was unable to do its job and produce a report according to generally accepted government auditing standards.

"The Congress and the American people had the right to know the limited amount of information we were seeking," Walker said.



Momentum Forces Dean To Shift to Higher Gear


Howard Dean, who had planned to run as an insurgent on a shoestring, is adjusting his campaign to befit his new lot in life: the well-funded, emerging front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Recent polls show the former Vermont governor leading here and in Iowa, the first two stops on the road to the 2004 nomination, running strong in vote-rich California and surging nationally. To build on the momentum, Dean is expanding operations in key states such as Washington and Michigan, and increasingly reaching out to centrists by talking up balanced budgets and gun rights, an issue with broad appeal in key southern states.

The race remains far too close and volatile to consider any of the nine candidates a true front-runner in a contest much of the public is ignoring, but several rival campaigns now privately talk of the Vermont Democrat as the man to beat. Several challengers are adjusting their campaigns to prepare for a one-on-one showdown with Dean.

"I see ourselves as someone with a big surge, but I don't think we have cemented our position as the front-runner at this point," Dean said in an interview. Still, "we're prepared for all of the attacks we're going to get. Clearly, now, that shoe is on the other foot, and they are going to come after me."

Dean has been getting tutored on foreign policy by numerous experts, including retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar. He has also had several private conversations with retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander who some Democrats see as an attractive running mate for Dean if Clark does not join the race himself.

At the Rotary [Club, where Dean was speaking to a more bipartisan business audience], Dean insisted he is tougher than Bush on national defense, even if he opposed the war in Iraq. He said he supported the Persian Gulf War, the attack on Afghanistan and, unlike Bush, wants to confront Saudi Arabia over its ties to terrorist groups. "Our oil money goes to the Saudis, where it is recycled and some of it is recycled to Hamas and two fundamentalist schools which teach small children to hate Americans, Christians and Jews," Dean said. "This president will not confront the Saudis."


Sunday, August 24, 2003

Member Investigating E-Vote Machines Bidding For PR Contract With Manufacturers


Scoop - On the board of the Enterprise Solutions Division of the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) – a lobbying organisation bidding to provide a $200,000+ public opinion manipulation campaign on electronic voting – is a senior vice president of SAIC, the company tasked with investigating the security of the Diebold voting machine technology in the states of Maryland and Ohio.

The revelation that Ronald J Knecht, Senior Vice President, SAIC, and a former defence intelligence chief, is connected to the proposed voting machine whitewash push seems certain to fuel public concerns about the number of conflicts on interest in the voting machine industry.



The UK Emails Come Out


The thoughts expressed in the emails convey a frantic attempt to produce a dossier that will justify aggressive action against Saddam Hussein. Within the space of a fortnight and with almost no new evidence - other than the now infamous "45-minute warning" - Mr Blair's aides turned British policy towards Iraq upside down.

For more than 10 years, British policy was to contain Saddam by keeping him weak through sanctions, imposition of no-fly zones and diplomatic isolation. He was regarded as a potential threat but not a pressing one. He dealt with his own people brutally but, with regard to the threat posed to his neighbours and the west, he was in his box and, as long as the US and British planes remained in the region, he could be kept there.

By the time the dossier was published, Saddam had become someone that had to be dealt with as a matter of urgency, one intent on aggression towards his neighbours and the west. Downing Street had produced a new narrative.

EL - Sure looks like sexing it up to me.




Gas prices skyrocket, more increases expected


AP - Gas prices skyrocketed across the country Friday, rising an average of 10 cents a gallon in most states, the day after a major surge on the New York futures market.

Gasoline futures rose 9.5 percent Thursday. It was the largest single-day increase not related to an expiring contract since 1984, according to Dow Jones Newswires.



US Turning To Saddam's Torturers and Spies For Help


Whiskey Bar sees the the situation. "I'd be intensely curious to hear what the Josh Marshalls, David Igantiuses and Tom Friedmans of the world (i.e. the neolibs) think about the recreation of Saddam's Mukhabaret.

Still got the stomach for this, gentlemen?"




Wall Street Wants Bush Attention On Deficit


The Congressional Budget Office will release new budget forecasts Tuesday that will put next year's red ink near $500 billion. Allen Sinai, president of Decision Economics Incs., own forecast put the figure even higher, as high as $535 billion. Absent any serious change in policy, private sector economists say deficits will remain in that range through the decade, then escalate sharply with the retirement of the baby-boom generation.

"I see absolutely nothing that's going to bring the deficit back to balance in the foreseeable future," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's.

Bush's response Friday was that Wall Street and others should put such concerns on hold until after the economic recovery begins to produce jobs.

If the tax cuts expire and military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan winds down, the budget would be back in balance -- or at least close to it -- by the end of the decade, budget forecasters predict.

But with military spending locked in, tax cuts likely to be extended, Medicare and prescription drug spending sure to rise, and political interest waning on a fix for Social Security, "the government is in a pickle," said Mickey Levy, chief economist at Bank of America.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Bank One Corp., even raised a fear that has seemed remote for half a decade: inflation.

Coupled with surging defense spending, "a trillion in deficits over two years could create explosive [economic] growth," she said, predicting an unacceptable inflation rate of 3 percent emerging by the end of 2005 .

What is Bush's answer? Probably privately something like this:

Problem? I don't see a problem while I'm the in the White House. I don't care that I've already charged $3,500 to every American's national debt credit card. How much your kids will owe when you try to retire isn't my concern. My supporters give me more than half that to get me reelected.



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