Easter Lemming Liberal News

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The Media is Turning -- Cheney as Extremist


Analysis - By Jim Lobe

In the 2000 elections he was the thoughtful, grey-haired Washington veteran who reassured nervous voters that candidate George W. Bush would indeed have adult supervision if he became president of the United States.

Now three years later, the image of Vice President Dick Cheney is changing.

In particular, his Sep. 14 appearance on the Sunday television news programme 'Meet the Press', when he not only defended the administration's pre-war optimism about Iraq, but also revived two stories long dismissed by the intelligence community -- that one of the 9/11 hijackers had met an Iraqi spy at a Prague cafe just five months before the attacks on New York and the Pentagon and that Iraq sponsored the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre -- has attracted unprecedented attention.

After an exhaustive investigation, U.S. intelligence agencies concluded a year before the March invasion of Iraq that the hijacker, Mohammed Atta, was in the United States at the time of the alleged meeting. Moreover, the Iraqi spy, who has been in U.S. custody in Iraq since July, has apparently failed to back up the story despite, no doubt, repeated suggestions that he do so.

Cheney's suspicions -- and their lack of any grounding in reality -- have now become fair game in the media. ''Cheney in Wonderland'' was how the 'Los Angeles Times' titled one editorial, while accounts in 'Newsweek' and the Post have gone to unusual lengths to debunk the theories.

There had long been hints that Cheney was not quite the reasonable and deliberate presence that he so effectively conveyed throughout his long career.

And more. Jim Lobe is a leading authority on the neo-conservatives.



The Presidency Wars


If you didn't know David Brooks history, this would seem a reasonable balanced article with even a slight mea culpa at the end. Except, David Brooks is the leading neo-con propagandist and was well-paid by GOP operatives to write smearing filth. This may validate his argument on the Presidential Wars but I am not sure I would trust him without a stake ready to plunge into his heart. Oh well, here's the digest:

Have you noticed that we've moved from the age of the culture wars to the age of the presidency wars? Have you noticed that the furious arguments we used to have about cultural and social issues have been displaced by furious arguments about the current occupant of the Oval Office?

The fundamental argument in the presidency wars is not that the president is wrong, or is driven by a misguided ideology. That's so 1980's. The fundamental argument now is that he is illegitimate. He is so ruthless, dishonest and corrupt, he undermines the very rules of civilized society. Many conservatives believed this about Clinton. Teddy Kennedy obviously believes it about Bush. Howard Dean declares, "What's at stake in this election is democracy itself."

They have as much firsthand knowledge of their enemies as members of the K.K.K. had of the N.A.A.C.P. In fact, most people in the last two administrations were well-intentioned patriots doing the best they could. The core threat to democracy is not in the White House, it's the haters themselves.

And for those who are going to make the obvious point: Yes, I did say some of these things during the Clinton years, when it was conservatives bashing a Democrat, but not loudly enough, which I regret, because the weeds that were once on the edge of public life now threaten to choke off the whole thing.



Local Politics - Pasadena Texas


Pasadena Citizen --Pasadena City Council approved the fiscal 2004 budget in a lively special Saturday session

City officials optimistically hoped the Saturday session might draw an increased number of citizens interested in addressing the budget, but only one attended. However, Manlove said the lack of residents present demonstrates that citizens are supportive of the proposed budget and of the administration.

EL - I have blogged this only because my ex-wife was the one person who attended. She was interested in seeing if the controversial Strawberry Road Extension or other city projects would be discussed. So far she has quickly gathered over 300 signatures to stop that project but I doubt that will be enough. Pasadena has placed most of it's normal city planning functions in an appointed non-profit organization as these organizations don't have to answer to voters. I have already told her that 300 signatures is more votes than her council representative got (there is incredibly low turnout for city elections) and maybe she should run to replace him.



Daniel Kurtzman Becomes a Comedy Blogger


Here's a sample -- Letterman Joke Turned Into Political Ad

"President Bush is asking Congress for $80 billion dollars to rebuild Iraq. And when you make out that check, remember there are two L's in Halliburton," Letterman quipped earlier this month.

American Family Voices, a Democratic-leaning activist group, uses the Letterman joke as a lead-in to a television ad campaign accusing the Bush administration of cronyism and Halliburton of war profiteering.

Read more about the ad



Late-Night Political Jokes


Daniel Kurtzman's Late-Night Political Jokes and Funny Quotes from About.com

"The president's popularity took a nose dive lately. It's at 49 percent, the lowest point ever. He says he is not down-hearted about it, he says 'Look the election is just a year away and remember I only need one less vote than the other guy.'" —Bill Maher

"[General Wesley Clark] participated in the debate with the Democrats. He was the new star. And he had to answer the question 'Why is he suddenly a Democrat?' He said he did not fit in with the Republicans because he is pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, and once when he was young and impressionable, he fought in a war." —Bill Maher

"Last night, during the Democratic debates, candidate Dennis Kucinich said he would stop the death penalty, cut the defense budget and set up a Department of Peace. Kucinich made the remark in response to the question 'Why is it you have no chance of winning?'" —Conan O'Brien

"Arnold Schwarzenegger got into a huge debate with Arianna Huffington about immigration — going back and forth — finally immigration came in and hauled them both away." —David Letterman

"So, congratulations, actually, to Florida. You're no longer our most damning national embarrassment. Perhaps you can have a wet t-shirt contest to celebrate." —Jon Stewart, on the California recall debate

"Bush's approval rating has fallen to its lowest levels ever. Let me tell you, it's going to be hard on President Bush if he is a one-term president. His father was a one-term president, but at least his father got elected once." —Jay Leno

"President Bush spoke to the United Nations yesterday and it didn't go well. Many of its members accused him of unilateralism. Bush was angry when he heard this and even angrier when he was told what it meant." —Conan O'Brien

"Yesterday, President Bush spoke to the U.N. and asked the world to help Iraq write a constitution. Today, John Ashcroft said 'What's a constitution?'" —Jay Leno

"President Bush spoke at the United Nations saying that right now it is more important than ever that the countries of the world be united. Which they are united — against us." —Jay Leno

"Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry came down pretty hard on fellow candidate Howard Dean this weekend. After Dean misspoke several times, Kerry said you can't misspeak 15 times in a week and be president. And Bush said, 'You can't'?" —Jay Leno



Krugman's Back -- Who's Sordid Now?

Krugman returns after a vacation to plug his book of essays.

t's official: the administration that once scorned nation-building now says that it's engaged in a modern version of the Marshall Plan. But Iraq isn't postwar Europe, and George W. Bush definitely isn't Harry Truman. Indeed, while Truman led this country in what Churchill called the "most unsordid act in history," the stories about Iraqi reconstruction keep getting more sordid. And the sordidness isn't, as some would have you believe, a minor blemish on an otherwise noble enterprise.

Cronyism is an important factor in our Iraqi debacle. It's not just that reconstruction is much more expensive than it should be. The really important thing is that cronyism is warping policy: by treating contracts as prizes to be handed to their friends, administration officials are delaying Iraq's recovery, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

It's rarely mentioned nowadays, but at the time of the Marshall Plan, Americans were very concerned about profiteering in the name of patriotism. To get Congressional approval, Truman had to provide assurances that the plan would not become a boondoggle. Funds were administered by an agency independent of the White House, and Marshall promised that priorities would be determined by Europeans, not Americans.

Fortunately, Truman's assurances were credible. Although he is now honored for his postwar leadership, Truman initially rose to prominence as a fierce crusader against war profiteering, which he considered treason.

Iraq's reconstruction, by contrast, remains firmly under White House control. And this is an administration of, by and for crony capitalists; to match this White House's blithe lack of concern about conflicts of interest, you have to go back to the Harding administration.

There's a moral here: optimists who expect the administration to get its Iraq policy on track are kidding themselves. Think about it: the cost of the occupation is exploding, and military experts warn that our army is dangerously overcommitted. Yet officials are still allowing Iraqi reconstruction to languish, and the disaffection of the Iraqi public to grow, while they steer choice contracts to their friends. What makes you think they will ever change their ways?



Justice Launches Criminal Investigation Into Leak

Washington Post has the best round-up.

The Justice Department has opened a full investigation into the allegation that administration officials leaked the name of a CIA operative, the White House counsel's said in an e-mail ordering White House staff to "preserve all materials" related to the probe.

A 1982 law makes it a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison for someone with authorized access to classified information identifying intelligence officers, agents, informants and sources to intentionally disclose that information to anyone who does not have the proper security clearances.



One Heckuva Leak

Kurtz washingtonpost.com) -- Judging by a flood of questions yesterday, the public is real interested in this story about the Bush administration leaking a CIA operative's name -- and the media are not looking too good in the process.

EL - He gets the TIME story published about the same time as Novak's which most of our great journalists have missed.

Novak, on CNN's "Crossfire," declared that "nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this." He said the information came up while he was interviewing a senior administration official -- a second one confirmed it -- and that the CIA provided confirmation. The CIA "asked me not to use her name but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else," Novak said, because a CIA source had told him Plame was an analyst, not a covert operative. "So what's the fuss about? Pure Bush-bashing?" (Wilson told CNN last night that his wife was on the clandestine side of the agency.)

Can you imagine what conservative commentators would have said about such a Clinton White House leak? But most are pooh-poohing it, such as Rush Limbaugh: "This Wilson non-story looks like it's going to be another one of those times when the Democrats open the door right into their nose again."

EL - That door will sweep one or more administration officials out of their jobs, possibly into prison.



N Korea has no interest in crisis talks, wants more nukes

Communist North Korea said it had no interest in six-party talks and would forge ahead with nuclear weapons development as US, Japanese and South Korean officials admitted to growing confusion over the mixed signals from Pyonguang

A statement released by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said North Korea had made "every possible concession" at the initial round of talks in Beijing in August, only to be met with rejection by Washington.

"This compels the DPRK (North Korea) to discard any interest or expectations for the talks," the spokesman said. "As already clarified, the DPRK has not made any promise regarding the next round of six-way talks."

The statement from a foreign ministry spokesman said the United States was bent on using six-party talks to further its goal of disarming North Korea, a campaign that could "only lead to war".


Monday, September 29, 2003

Unfunded Pensions Killing Job Recovery, Worker Security


Huge pension liabilities are strangling corporate America, and execs say this new debt is choking off an economic recovery. Companies that offer workers traditional pensions are suddenly facing a yawning $350 billion deficit in those plans. To make up that shortfall, big business is expected to pour a record $83 billion into pension funds this year—nearly double last year’s contribution and six times what companies paid in 2001.

Already, the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is $5.7 billion in the hole, thanks to a string of costly pension failures in steel and airlines. And its administrator is warning Congress that the PBGC could be headed for a taxpayer bailout akin to the $150 billion S&L debacle.

Corporate lobbyists, however, warn that an economic recovery will remain MIA as long as pensions siphon off money that could be used for new business investment.

Today 44 million Americans are covered by 32,000 traditional pension plans, down from 114,000 plans in 1985. And they don’t always get what was promised. Retired US Airways pilot Michael Fairley just went to work selling lighting because his pension was cut 67 percent to $23,000 a year after the airline went bankrupt. “At 60,” says Fairley, “who thought I’d be living paycheck to paycheck again?”




The Plame Game - Will the leak of a CIA agent's name be the next big political scandal?

Slate's Jack Shafer has a good analysis on this one.

The hidden good news in the Wilson-Novak-Plame melodrama is that it disproves a thesis that jaundiced readers, myself included, have about the weakness Washington reporters have for anonymous sources bearing scoops. Any of the six journalists who were offered the Plame story and declined to run with it could have gotten some sort of career-enhancing bump out of it. That they ignored the calculated leak, and the story ended up with an opinion journalist who used it to make his political point, indicates a level of discipline I didn't know existed in the press corps.

The hidden bad news is that none of them reported that the Plame information was being leaked by sources who wished to embarrass her and Wilson—which they could have legitimately done without burning their sources by name. In other words, they all protected the White House from its blunder.

EL - Robert Novak, stauch conservative Republican, is now saying that leaking the name of a CIA analyst, as opposed to secret agent, is not against the law. It is clear that she had a secret job that took her overseas looking for WMD's and precursors and that it did some harm to the agency. That argument doesn't fly, Novak.



Mission NOT Accomplished - So, what went wrong?

CNN/TIME- So, what went wrong?

Joe Fillmore, a contract translator with the 4th Infantry Division in Tikrit, agrees that resentment is deepening. Things may look better on the surface, he says, but there is a growing frustration with the occupation. "The town is divided into two parts," he says. "Those who hate us and those who don't mind us but want us to go." Even Chalabi, who is among the most pro-American people in Iraq, says, "When the U.S. said we are not liberators, we are an occupation force, the views of people changed."

Part of the difficulty is simply cultural. "If an Iraqi policeman stops someone on the street and asks them politely to do something," says al-Janabi of the I.N.A, "that person will be ready to be a ring on the policeman's finger. But if you shout at him like the Americans do and hurt his dignity—he will hate you." In Baghdad a U.S. special-forces officer sadly agrees. "We should have been culturally sensitive," he says. In places like Fallujah, he argues, "we should never have gone into people's houses.

Saddam's soldiers never went into houses—they would negotiate and settle things with money. We don't understand how things work around here." That is an honest assessment, not an indictment. There is not the slightest reason in the world why 19-year-old boys from Kansas and Kentucky should know how to deal with Iraqi sensitivities—to get Iraq right—and it is unfair to condemn them for failing to do so. But it is not unfair to judge those who got Iraq wrong and thought five months ago that the mission of those young men, now hunkering down for a longer tour of duty than they ever expected, was over. It is not.



FOX News Sends Phone Spam to Critic

iWon News -- Conservative CNN commentator Tucker Carlson's snide humor backfired on him - and his wife. While defending telemarketers during a segment on "Crossfire" last week, the bow-tied co-host was asked for his home phone number. Carlson gave out a number, but it was for the Washington bureau of Fox News, CNN's bitter rival.

The bureau was deluged with calls. To get back at him, Fox posted Carlson's unlisted home number on its Web site. After his wife was inundated with obscene calls, Carlson went to the Fox News bureau to complain. He was told the number would be taken off the Web site if he apologized on the air. He did, but that didn't end the anger.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Carlson called Fox News "a mean, sick group of people."



Texans go to NH, Iowa To Support Dean


The Dean campaign called the Texans let loose in Iowa and New Hampshire during the weekend "Dean's Texas Rangers," a play on the "Ranger" designation given to Republican supporters who gather at least $200,000 in donations.

"I'm completely amazed to be here," said Richard Davis, a 62-year-old computer programmer. "I expected to sort of coast through the Bush presidency, sort of benignly opposed."

More than 140 Texans came to New Hampshire to recruit supporters door-to-door. A few hundred more flew to Iowa on chartered flights, courtesy of the campaign, to persuade caucus voters there to support the former Vermont governor.

Karen Hicks, the campaign's New Hampshire director, said the volunteers were expected to knock on as many as 20,000 doors during the weekend just in New Hampshire.

Margot Dimond, a media relations worker for Rice University, was among the crowd. She said she likes Dean's positive message and wants to help him win in the primary.

"A sense of community is missing right now. People are divided," Dimond said. "I hope that's what he can (fix). I care very much about this country."




Allied Partners Seek U.S. Favors


Mongolia, which has 174 troops in Iraq, wants a free trade deal with the United States. Turkey, which is considering sending 10,000 troops, just won $8.5 billion in U.S. loan guarantees. And Poland, Serbia, Romania, Latvia and others are pushing for contracts to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.

"They've chipped in and they want a piece of the action," said John Pike of the defense consultancy GlobalSecurity.org. "They want to wet their beaks."

More evidence of returned favors will take the shape of future U.S. military aid or investment in Eastern Europe and other friendly states — which could come at the expense of old allies like France and Germany, both opponents of the war, analysts say.

Poland, with 2,400 troops in Iraq and command of a swath of south-central Iraq, finds itself reaping several windfalls.

The U.S. government spent about $250 million to airlift the Poles to Iraq, build their camps and provide equipment. Now, the Polish national airline, LOT, is among several European carriers with rights to operate flights to Iraq. And Polish Bank Millennium is one of a consortium of 13 banks chosen to run the Iraqi Trade Bank.

Stevedoring Services of America, the U.S. firm handling reconstruction of the Persian Gulf port of Umm Qasr, asked a Ukrainian company to handle part of the task, said a Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official would not name the company.

Ukraine sent some 450 anti-chemical weapons troops to Kuwait during the war and now has 1,640 peacekeepers that are part of the Polish-led force.

Jordan, which didn't join the coalition but allowed the United States to base special forces in its eastern desert, is asking the Pentagon (news - web sites) to provide about $100 million worth of upgrades to its F-16 fighter jets and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, said Teal Group's Richard Aboulafia.

Even Serbia, which isn't a coalition member and has no soldiers in Iraq, has been boasting of a reward for helping the United States. The government hasn't described the particulars of its support, but local press reports have said Serbia gave the United States intelligence on Yugoslav-built military bunkers, airports and other installations in Iraq.

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic told reporters in Washington in July that Powell promised to include Serbian firms in the reconstruction in Iraq. Zivkovic also met with Bechtel, where he was shown how companies could register as willing subcontractors on Bechtel's Web site, said Bechtel's Valerie Kazanjian.



Will the 2004 Election be Stolen With Electronic Voting Machines?


A BuzzFlash Interview.

Diebold insiders allegedly admit to doing “end runs” around the voting system, and in one of the most shocking sets of memos, they allegedly admit that a “replacement” set of vote totals was uploaded in Volusia County, Florida which took 16,022 votes away from Al Gore in Nov. 2000. The explanation for how a supposedly secure system can have replacement votes put on it, and the whereabouts of “card #3” which contained the second vote upload, are missing in action. (The votes were given back to Gore, but only because a Florida clerk noticed the tally going down and sent out an alert).



The Challenges to Creating a New Democratic Majority


In their recently acclaimed book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira make the case that long-term demographic trends favor the Democratic Party.

But a stable Democratic majority in the Congress or the Presidency is not likely to emerge anytime soon, and here's why: Because even if Judis and Teixeira are correct that the demographics are shifting toward the Democratic side, structurally our 18th century winner-take-all political system will continue to favor conservatives and the Republican Party. Unless confronted by reformers, that structural bias trumps the shifting demographics.

Electoral battles for the House, the Senate and the presidency are fought out district by district and state by state in winner-take-all contests – not on a national basis. So the national polls on which Judis and Teixeira rely for their analysis are less and less meaningful.

The fact is, when the national vote is tied, Republicans still win a healthy majority of Congressional seats.

Indeed in 2000, even as Al Gore beat George Bush by a half-million votes, and the combined center-left Gore-Nader vote had an even bigger lead, Bush beat Gore in 227 out of 435 U.S. House districts and in 30 out of 50 states. New U.S. House districts are even more lopsided, with Bush's advantage now rising to 237 to 198. It's no coincidence that Republicans currently hold 229 U.S. House seats.

The distortions resulting from the redrawing of legislative district lines can turn a statewide partisan majority into a minority of legislative seats, and Republicans seem more conniving and successful at this backroom dealing. For instance, Virginia Democrats in 2001 won their first gubernatorial race since 1989, but Republicans went from barely controlling the statehouse to a two-thirds majority. How? Republicans drew the district lines. In Florida, Democrats were strong enough to hold both U.S. Senate seats and gain a virtual tie in the presidential race, but with full control over redistricting Republicans went from a 15-8 edge in U.S. House seats to an overwhelming 18 to 7 advantage. Republicans also have won lopsided shares of seats in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania due to control over redistricting, and now the Tom DeLay-led GOP in Texas is seeking to re-redistrict their House districts to pick up another 5 to 7 seats.

Relying on our analysis, one can make a strong case that the hope for the Democratic Party lies in enacting full representation electoral systems. With full representation (also known as proportional representation), the Democrats as well as the Republicans will win their fair share of legislative seats that matches their proportion of the popular vote. Redistricting and demographic trends will not distort outcomes and produce such exaggerated results. Only with full representation systems will the types of demographic shifts identified by Judis and Teixeira, that perhaps over time should favor an emerging Democratic majority, ever have a chance to win at the ballot box.

Steven Hill is a senior analyst at the Center for Voting and Democracy (www.fairvote.org) and author of "Fixing Elections: The Failure of America's Winner Take All Politics," which is out in paperback this month (www.FixingElections.com). Rob Richie is executive director of the Center.

For more information about CVD's upcoming national conference, "Claim Democracy," November 22-23 in Washington, D.C., backed by a broad range of pro-democracy groups, visit www.democracyusa.org/events/conference.html.



White House won't seek independent investigation


The White House will cooperate with the Justice Department in its initial inquiry into who leaked the classified identity of a CIA operative, but will not launch an internal probe and will not ask for an independent investigation, a spokesman said Monday.

"The leaking of the name of a CIA [operative] is a dastardly act," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, told CNN Monday. "It not only endangers the name of an agent who has put his or her life on the line for America, [but also] all their operatives and security ... It's a despicable thing to do. And some newspapers report that it was the White House that did it."




Clark Wants More Foreign Aid, New Department to Handle It


In a searing critique, Clark accuses the Bush administration of carrying out a wrenching turn in U.S. foreign policy away from traditional American principles. He cites what he says has been an overemphasis on unilateralism and overreliance on the U.S. military to pursue the notion of "a new American empire."

Clark argues for adoption of "a more collaborative, collegiate" U.S. strategy marked by renewed cooperation with such international organizations as the United Nations and NATO and backed by substantial economic and political development aid.



The Thom Hartmann Program


Guests Coming Soon…

Howard Zinn -Tuesday, September 30. @ 2p et

Bernie Sanders - Thursday, October 2 @ 1p et

Brother Wayne Teasdale - Thursday, October 2 @ 2p et

David Corn -Tuesday, October 7 @ 2p et

Paul Krugman - Friday, October 10 @ 2p et


A half-million more people voted for Gore than Bush in 2000, and over a third of all Americans call themselves Democrats. Nader received 2.78 million votes. But who is programming talk radio to them?


We are!

The Thom Hartmann Program
“Uncommon Sense from the Radical Middle”
Thom Hartmann is the man who uncovers corporate lies, deception by mega-media, and rampant confusion in the offices of our politicians.

Listen at www.ieamericaradio.com, on a radio station nearby or on Sirius Satellite channel 145.

“Live” Weekdays Noon-3pm Call 1-800-Talk-Yes to be on the air...




The Neo-Con's Iraqi Allies Lied, DIA Concludes


An internal assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that most of the information provided by Iraqi defectors who were made available by the Iraqi National Congress was of little or no value, according to federal officials briefed on the arrangement.

In addition, several Iraqi defectors introduced to American intelligence agents by the exile organization and its leader, Ahmad Chalabi, invented or exaggerated their credentials as people with direct knowledge of the Iraqi government and its suspected unconventional weapons program, the officials said.

The Iraqi National Congress, a London-based umbrella group, was formed with American help in 1992 and received millions of dollars under the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. In a stance that angered the dissidents and some Pentagon officials, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency had long been skeptical of the information from defectors that Mr. Chalabi's organization had brought out of Iraq.

EL - These were the Cheney-Rumsfeld pals who supplied a lot of the lies about the WMD's.




The Rove Election Game Plan -- Evengelicals For Bush


Newsweek -- The primary demographic objective of BC04 is more obvious: to increase turnout among families that consider themselves evangelical Christians. The GOP defines them as voters who say they are "born again" and who attend church regularly, at least four times a week. Rove and his team--led by campaign manager Ken Mehlman and regional director Ralph Reed--have carefully scrutinized exit-polling data in recent elections, and the Bushies frankly admire the success labor unions have had in recent years in turning out not only their members, but their members' extended families. One reason the GOP did well in last year's midterm elections, strategists say, is that it was able to best the labor unions at their own turnout game. In 2002, evangelicals composed 21 percent of the electorate, according to the polls. The Bush-Cheney aim this time is 24 percent.

Growth in the West and South, and declines in the East and Midwest, mean that a rerun of the 2000 race would raise Bush's victory margin in the Electoral College from four votes to 18. Bush-Cheney has identified 17 states on which to focus in '04: ones Bush either narrowly won or lost, or where demographic changes are viewed as especially favorable.

With little fanfare or national press coverage, President Bush and his political minions have been traveling these states in recent months, laying the groundwork. The Republican National Committee will have perhaps $200 million to spend--much of it on a laser-targeted, precinct-by-precinct turnout operation that will spring to life in the last 72 hours of the campaign next year. By e-mail and snail mail, door to door and word of mouth, Republicans are planning to narrowcast discrete appeals--on everything from taxes to gun control--on a voter-by-voter basis. Rove made his money in direct mail, and it's still the way he tends to work.


Polltaker Dowd is a leading advocate of outreach to Hispanics. A symbol of that effort is the backdrop campaign officials cart to press conferences coast to coast: it intersperses the words BUSH-CHENEY with VIVA! More substantively, GOP strategists insist that Bush's tough foreign policy, pro-business tax cuts and cultural traditionalism will earn him perhaps 40 percent of the Latino vote. "They used to be a Democratic constituency," said Dowd, "but now they are up for grabs." The same goes for Jewish voters, Bush strategists believe, at least for those who evaluate candidates based on the strength of their support for Israel. Pro-Israel activists think that the president, unrivaled in modern times for his down-the-line backing of the Jewish State, could win a third of the Jewish vote.


Bush's advisers see him as the ultimate "get out the vote" device, a president whose popularity at the GOP grass roots meets or exceeds that of Ronald Reagan. Evangelicals see him as one of their own. His policies--from a Manichaean definition of the war on terrorism to support for faith-based programs--are designed to make sure "the base" continues to view him in that worshipful way. Rove & Co. will market their man (who, in fact, loves the granular detail of political gamesmanship) as a beacon of principle, unwilling to bend on the war abroad or on fiscal and tax policy at home.

It's a risky strategy. The war in Iraq, a dicey proposition at best, could turn catastrophic with one truck bomb. The mounting deficit could sink the dollar or the recovery, or both. It's also dangerous to turn the struggle between Red and Blue states into a moral clash of black and white. If you argue, as Bush does, that we are fighting evil, then, by extension, anyone who opposes you (including the Democrats) is in league with evil. The notion could scare as many voters as it attracts, not to mention dividing the country even more bitterly. The president won't say as much, of course, but some of his more enthusiastic and unscrupulous supporters (and maybe a cabinet member or two) surely will.



White House Going to Operation Oprah


Wondering how the president plans to spend the $87 billion he asked for to rebuild Iraq? You could have tuned in to David Letterman last week to hear Colin Powell try to ease the country's sticker shock. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will soon be appearing on Oprah to do a version of the same. The Administration's plan to bypass the traditional media has got so creative that someone in the White House suggested the Secretary of Defense should appear on the Imus in the Morning radio show. Donald Rumsfeld declined.

The White House is presenting a Zen face, but it is also taking action. In addition to putting members of the war cabinet in nontraditional media outlets and increasing the President's exposure, it has started regular twice-weekly conference calls with its allies on the Hill to supply anecdotes about improvements in the lives of Iraqis and successes in the war on terrorism, trusting that they will work their way on to talk radio and cable TV. And in early October the Bush team will launch a blog to chronicle the campaign online.



Rove Had Previously Used Novak to Plant Stories


Talking Points Memo -- Blast from the past?

Sources close to the former president [George H.W. Bush] say Rove was fired from the 1992 Bush presidential campaign after he planted a negative story with columnist Robert Novak about dissatisfaction with campaign fundraising chief and Bush loyalist Robert Mosbacher Jr. It was smoked out, and he was summarily ousted.

"Why Are These Men Laughing?" Ron Suskind
Esquire
January 2003

Can we see those phone logs?

-- Josh Marshall

Go to Talking Points Memo for all the analysis of this story. Josh has either been following or pushing this story for months.



TIME -- Latest Evidence, Saddam has not had WMD's for years


Chasing a Mirage

EL - As was obvious to me based on foreign sources and alternative sources a year ago, Iraq had ended most WMD programs after Gulf War 1 and all programs by 94 or so. The problem was they destroyed a lot of the documentation that the inspectors wanted and the inspectors, led by the US, would always assume the worst. Unless they could clearly document destruction they assumed they still existed. If they briefly had a chemical weapons plant the US would calculate what that plant could produce if it operated 24/7 as long as it existed even when they were presented evidence it didn't. The neo-conservative were scaring themselves much like they scared themselves over the Soviet Union earlier. This may not be wholly a bad thing, but it is when you a team even further hyping the evidence for an illegal war that took place too early for international support.



Howard and Wes -- A Friendly 'Civil Union'

Salon: Strange Bedfellows While the media has played up Democratic party insiders' involvement in the Clark camp, among activists on the ground the Clark candidacy is widely viewed as a grass-roots phenomenon like Dean's, the result of the Internet-organized Draft Clark movement. Even if Clark has been sent to thwart their man, Dean's followers like and respect him as a fellow soldier in the war on Bush.

"I think it's a very positive development," said Betsy Kane, an attorney and Dean volunteer from Raleigh, N.C., of Clark's entry. "I think he brings a number of characteristics to the table that are needed right now. His military experience is important ... I don't really see him as a threat to Dean. If there's people power behind all the Democratic candidates, eventually one of them is going to rise to the top."

Waving goodbye to Clark supporters as she headed off to watch the debate, Ruth Bonnet, a 41-year old writer and Dean campaign volunteer from the Upper West Side, said, "Between the Dean people and the Clark people there's a lot of friendliness." Adds her friend Jordan Auslander, a bearded genealogist and fellow Dean supporter, "It helps to have someone with the moral authority of Clark talking about the fiasco in Iraq. I like Dean. I'm going to support both of them."

This equanimity toward Clark is partly a result of the Democratic unity engendered by George Bush. For months now, Dean has been careful to focus his attacks on the president, and his followers' ire is similarly targeted. That may change, says John Geer, a Vanderbilt University political science professor who studies elections.

So far, says Geer, Clark's entry has hurt other Democrats more than Dean. "It seems to me what Clark really did was make it harder for someone like a [Joe] Lieberman or a [Bob] Graham or a [Dick] Gephardt to break through. It makes it more likely for it just to be a three-person race" between Dean, Clark and Kerry, he says.

Once the field shrinks, the rhetoric will likely get uglier. "Clark and Dean may be the last two standing, and then the gloves will come off," Geer says. "They're both after a pretty big prize. When that happens, it might not be so easy for their respective supporters to chant together."

Until then, though, Dean has little to gain by lashing out against anyone but Bush, and his supporters are too inspired and optimistic to harbor enmity for other Democrats.

At a short pre-debate rally Thursday, Dean addressed a throng crammed onto a hot patch of sidewalk abutting City Hall Park, laying out an analysis of the country's current predicament that resonates deeply with the liberal faithful.

"Over the last 10 years, our democracy has been undermined by a small group of right-wing ideologues," he said, counting off the now-familiar litany of conservative power grabs -- impeachment, the 2000 election, Texas redistricting, the California recall. "Our democracy is under assault by people who literally believe they have the God-given right to run this country no matter what we say." He continued, saying, "The flag of the United States does not belong to Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz ... John Ashcroft is going around the country defending the PATRIOT Act. That does not make him a patriot."

EL - Like many Dean supporters, Clark is my second choice.


Sunday, September 28, 2003

Dean and Kerry Seeking Rumsfeld Resignation, other campaign news


Dean accused the Bush administration of "a long line of problematic statements" on Iraq, from his disputed State of the Union message about Iraq's attempts to acquire uranium for a nuclear weapon to claims of ties between Iraq and al Qaeda.

"This pattern of deception is but one major reason that this administration deserves to be fired by the American people," said Dean, who also cited the "abject failure" to plan for a postwar Iraq.

"There is no need to wait until the next election to hold the major architects of this disaster responsible for their gross incompetence," he said. "The time has come for the president to fire them."

Boston Globe -- I'll mend Iraq rift, Dean says

WASHINGTON -- Howard Dean says he would retain part of the Bush administration's missile defense program if elected president, and predicts he could "reasonably quickly" mend relations with US allies.

Bettendorf News Dean: Axing budget cuts will help balance budget

AP - Dean to announces new elder-care proposals in Iowa Howard Dean is proposing tax breaks to help pay for long-term care insurance and a national registry to weed out health workers who have abused elderly patients.

In a speech promoted as a major new policy initiative, Dean also will seek flexibility for states to offer care for older Americans outside nursing homes and will push for a new investment in community and home-based care for the elderly.



The Unbuilding of Iraq


Newsweek -- Wrongheaded assumptions. Ideological blinders.Weak intelligence, missteps, poor coordination and bad luck. How Team Bush’s reconstruction efforts went off the rails from day one.

The day before he was supposed to leave for the region, Garner got a call from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who ordered him to cut 16 of the 20 State officials from his roster. It seems that the State Department people were deemed to be Arabist apologists, or squishy about the United Nations, or in some way politically incorrect to the right-wing ideologues at the White House or the neocons in the office of the Secretary of Defense. The vetting process “got so bad that even doctors sent to restore medical services had to be anti-abortion,” recalled one of Garner’s team. Finally, Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to stand up for his troops and stop Rumsfeld’s meddling. “I can take hostages, too,” Powell warned the secretary of Defense. “How hard do you want to play this thing?”

PRETTY HARD. Powell lost, as he often does in the councils of the Bush war cabinet, and Rumsfeld had his way. Only one of the 16 State officials was restored to Garner’s reconstruction team. It was a petty triumph, but emblematic of Rumsfeld’s dominating, sometimes overbearing style. Rumsfeld was not a rogue elephant. In much of what he did, Rumsfeld himself was following orders. The hidden hand of the White House (read: Vice President Dick Cheney) was decisive in many of the behind-the-scenes struggles over postwar policymaking in Iraq.

At the State Department, Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage, Powell’s number two, fought bitterly with the Defense Department neocons, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, the Pentagon’s third-ranking civilian. Armitage was convinced that the Defense neocons had spies at the State Department. “Bats, we call them. Bats,” said Armitage, in a colorful private harangue reported to NEWSWEEK. “Because they hang upside down all day, with their wings over their eyes, pretending they don’t see anything. But at night they spread their wings and fly off to whisper, whisper, whisper.”

On May 16, five days after he arrived in Baghdad, Bremer assembled the top American officials in Baghdad and announced that all ministries would be “de-Baath-ized” by removing roughly the top six layers of bureaucracy. The CIA’s Baghdad station chief demurred. “We’ll, that’s 30,000 to 50,000 pissed-off Baathists you’re driving underground,” said the senior spook. Bremer went on: the Army would be formally disbanded and not paid. “That’s another 350,000 Iraqis you’re pissing off, and they’ve got guns,” said the CIA man. Said Bremer: “Those are my instructions.”

But it was widely recognized, even by Bremer, that not paying the soldiers was a mistake. Bremer quickly changed course and began cash handouts while trying to reconstitute the Iraqi Army and police.

Who is to blame for the missed signals and too-rosy scenarios? The person charged with coordinating U.S. foreign policy is the president’s national-security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.

It is also true that the White House, including the president, signed off on the basic war plan and reconstruction effort.

“CPA stands for the Condescending and Patronizing Americans,” a Baghdad diplomat told a NEWSWEEK reporter. “So there they are, sitting in their palace: 800 people, 17 of whom speak Arabic, one is an expert on Iraq. Living in this cocoon. Writing papers. It’s absurd,” says one dissident Pentagon official. He exaggerates, but not by much. Most of the senior civilian staff are not technical experts but diplomats, Republican appointees, White House staffers and the like.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak recently passed a message to Rumsfeld. It ran roughly: “There’s a 5 percent chance you get Saddam tomorrow, the energy goes out of the resistance and things get dramatically better. There’s a 5 percent chance a car bomb takes out the entire Governing Council, and things go to hell. In between those, it will get better over time, or worse over time. Right now, I say it’s twice as likely that it gets worse.”

El- when the neo-cons lose Likud support they've screwed-up.



Another Jeb Bush Scandal


Josh - So, you start a company to privatize education and take on the teachers unions. Your company fails miserably both in terms of the market and academic success. Then after you've hollowed the company out to cover your other bad debts friendly pols come along to bail you out with a couple hundred million from the teachers' (and other public employees') pension fund. I love symmetry.

In the last year Edison has bumbled along from failure to failure and the stock has spent most of the year trading a bit over a buck a share.

Things looked awfully bad until last week when Florida's state employee pension fund announced it was buying up all of Edison's stock and taking the company private --- for a cool $174 million. That's got to be the shrewdest investment the fund has made since it bought millions of shares of Enron just as the company entered its death spiral --- including 1.3 million shares just two weeks before the company declared bankruptcy.

The three member board of trustees of the fund is chaired by Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a big supporter of privatized schools and a big supporter of Edison.



House Probers Conclude Iraq War Data Was Weak


Leaders of the House intelligence committee have criticized the U.S. intelligence community for using largely outdated, "circumstantial" and "fragmentary" information with "too many uncertainties" to conclude that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda.

Top members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which spent four months combing through 19 volumes of classified material used by the Bush administration to make its case for the war on Iraq, found "significant deficiencies" in the community's ability to collect fresh intelligence on Iraq, and said it had to rely on "past assessments" dating to when U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998 and on "some new 'piecemeal' intelligence," both of which "were not challenged as a routine matter."

"The absence of proof that chemical and biological weapons and their related development programs had been destroyed was considered proof that they continued to exist," the two committee members said in a letter Thursday to CIA Director George J. Tenet.


Top Censored Stories


Neocons' plans for global domination top the annual list of stories ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media.

The neoconservative blueprint for U.S. military domination is hardly a secret. A group called the Project for a New American Century--a think tank founded by hawks who now hold prominent jobs in the White House--released a version of it three years ago. The document is shocking in its candor: It asserts that the United States should be moving unilaterally to assert military control around the globe, and that all that's necessary to jump-start the effort is a "new Pearl Harbor."

None of the major news media in this country have reported on this document or on the fact that Bush is so closely following its script.

That's the nation's biggest "censored" story in last year, according to Sonoma State University's Project Censored, a 27-year-old program dedicated to shining light on the shortcomings of the major news media.

1. The neoconservative plan for global dominance
David Armstrong, Harper's Magazine, October 2002; Robert Dreyfuss, Mother Jones, March 2003; John Pilger, www.pilger.carlton.com/print, Dec. 12, 2002.

2. Homeland security threatens civil liberties
"The second Patriot Act is a mirror image of powers that Julius Caesar and Adolf Hitler gave themselves," Alex Jones wrote on www.rense.com.
Frank Morales, Global Outlook, Winter 2003; Alex Jones, www.rense.com, Feb. 11, 2003, and Global Outlook, Vol. 4; Charles Lewis and Adam Mayle, Center for Public Integrity, Feb. 7, 2003.

3. U.S. illegally removes pages from Iraq U.N. report
Michael I. Niman, ArtVoice, Jan. 1, 2003, and The Humanist, March/April 2003.

4. Rumsfeld's plan to provoke terrorists
Chris Floyd, CounterPunch, Nov. 1, 2002

5. The effort to make unions disappear
Lee Sustar, Z Magazine, Sept. 20, 2002; David Bacon, War Times, October-November 2002; Anne-Marie Cusac, The Progressive, February 2003; Robert L. Borosage, The American Prospect, March 2003.

6. Closing access to information technology
Arthur Stamoulis, Dollars and Sense, September 2002.

7. Treaty busting by the United States
The United States has now "either blatantly violated or gradually subverted" at least nine multilateral treaties on which it is a signatory,
Marylia Kelly and Nicole Deller, Connections, June 2002; John B. Anderson, The Nation, April 2002; Eamon Martin, Ashe ville Global Report, June 20-26, 2002; John Valleau, Global Outlook, Summer 2002.

8. U.S. and British forces continue use of depleted uranium weapons despite massive evidence of negative health effects
Dan Kapelovitz, Hustler, June 2003; Reese Erlich, Children of War, March 2003.

9. In Afghanistan: poverty, women's rights and civil disruption worse than ever
Ahmed Rashid, The Nation, Oct. 14, 2002; Pranjal Tiwari, Left Turn, February/March 2003; Jan Goodwin, The Nation, April 29, 2002; Scott Carrier, with a photo essay by Chien-Min Chung, Mother Jones, July/August 2002.

10. Africa faces new threat of colonialism
Michelle Robidoux, Left Turn, July/August 2002; Asad Ismi, Briarpatch, vol. 32, no. 1 (excerpted from the CCPA Monitor, October 2002); Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, New Internationalist, January/February 2003.

11. U.S. implicated in Taliban massacre. Kendra Sarvadi, Asheville Global Report; Adam Porter, In These Times.

12. Bush administration behind failed military coup in Venezuela. Duncan Campbell and Greg Palast, The London Guardian; Joe Taglieri, Global Outlook; Karen Talbot, People's Weekly World; Jon Beasley-Murray, NACLA Report on the Americas.

13. Corporate personhood challenged. Thom Hartmann, CommonDreams and Impact Press; Thom Hartmann, Wild Matters; Jim Hightower, The Hightower Lowdown.

14. Unwanted refugees a global problem. Daniel Swift, In These Times; Charles Bowden, Mother Jones; Bill Frelick, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

15. U.S. military's war on the earth. Bob Feldman, Dollars and Sense; David S. Mann and Glenn Milner, Washington Free Press; John Passacantando, Wild Matters.

16. Plan Puebla-Panama and the FTAA. Miguel Pickard, CorpWatch.org; Timi Gerson, Public Citizen's Trade Watch; Tom Hansen and Jason Wallach, Labornotes; Rachel Coen, Asheville Global Report and Extra!

17. Clear Channel monopoly draws criticism. Jeff Perlstein, MediaFile.

18. Charter forest proposal threatens access to public lands. Kristin Robison, Earth First! Journal; Jon Margolis, American Prospect.

19. U.S. dollar vs. the euro: another reason for the invasion of Iraq. William Clark, The Sierra Times; Cóilín Nunan, Feasta; William Greider, The Nation.

20. Pentagon increases private military contracts. Nelson D. Schwartz, Fortune; Pratap Chatterjee, CorpWatch.org; Antony Barnett, London Observer.

21. Third-world austerity policies: Coming soon to a city near you. Greg Palast, Harper's Magazine; Michael Parenti, Covert Action Quarterly; Gabriella Bocagrande, Texas Observer.

22. Welfare reform up for reauthorization but still no safety net. Barbara Ehrenreich and Frances Fox Piven, Mother Jones; Neil deMause, In These Times; Dave Hage, The American Prospect; Heather Boushey, Dollars and Sense.

23. Argentina crisis sparks cooperative growth. Lisa Garrigues, Yes! Magazine; Leif Utne, Utne Magazine.

24. U.S. aid to Israel fuels repressive occupation in Palestine. John Steinbach, Covert Action Quarterly; Matt Bowles, Left Turn; Bob Wing, War Times.

25. Convicted corporations receive perks instead of punishment. Emad Mekay, Asheville Global Report; Ken Silverstein, Mother Jones.

For more information on Project Censored, visit www.projectcensored.org.



Washington Monthly -- Just a bit of a moderate lean?


And you can see their candidate - Clark. All links on their front page:

9/25/03: Jonathan Alter says money won't matter for Clark.

9/21/03: Paul Glastris on Wesley Clark

9/18/03: Walter Shapiro on Clark's unorthodox candidacy.

9/17/03: Matthew Miller on Wesley Clark: a great pair of shoes -- and maybe more!

Oct. preview: Joshua Green on Wesley Clark: He is not Haig and not Eisenhower. And some Democrats are hoping he won't be Cuomo.

General Election
Insiders say it's too late for Wesley Clark to win the primaries. They're wrong. By Amy Sullivan

(Who on her own blog picks up a factual error from Slate's Chris Suellentrop, Kerry appeared at the Citadel as well as Clark and I bet Dean could.)


There is other good stuff in the Washington Monthly, check it out:

The Post-Modern President
Deception, Denial, and Relativism: what the Bush administration learned from the French.

Bush's War On Cops Welcome back to the 1980s. Thanks to White House policy, police departments are understaffed, cops are overwhelmed, murders are up, and killers are getting away.



Clark Affects Dean's and Other Democratic Candidates' Support in New Hampshire


New Hampshire Democrat Larry Taylor was leaning toward supporting former Vermont governor Howard Dean for president until he turned out on a damp Friday night at New England College in Henniker, N.H., to see retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark. By the time Clark had finished his town hall meeting, Taylor was ready to change his allegiance.

His candidacy threatens all of the other nine Democrats in the race in some respect, but here in New Hampshire, where Dean has risen to the top of the field, it has changed the dynamic of a race that, until now, was shaped principally by the former Vermont governor.

"I'm still sorting it out, quite frankly," said Mary-Chris Duncan of Bradford, N.H., who said she has been leaning toward Dean but is undecided. "As a Democrat, I want someone who I think is going to be electable, someone who can beat George Bush. I'm going to be pragmatic when it comes down to voting."

EL - Anyone but Bush in 2004. The way this race is shaping up though any of the top four candidates could probably win. So it may only be who would best represent your vision of the country.



Ashcroft To Decide If Rove Should Face Charges


TIME -- The DOJ opens a preliminary probe into whether the White House illegally unmasked a CIA operative

UPDATE

Washington Post - White House Confirms Two Top Officials Leaked CIA Spy Name


A senior administration official said two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and revealed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. That was shortly after Wilson revealed in July that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson's account eventually touched off a controversy over Bush's use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.

"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.

The official would not name the leakers for the record and would not name the journalists. The official said he had no indication that Bush knew about the calls. Columnist Robert Novak published the agent's name in a July column about Wilson's mission.

It is rare for one Bush administration official to turn on another. Asked about the motive for describing the leaks, the senior official said the leaks were "wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility."

EL - A senior official should be at the Condi Rice level or above.

The Intelligence Protection Act, passed in 1982, imposes maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and $50,000 fines for unauthorized disclosure by government employees with access to classified information.

Members of the administration, especially Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, have been harshly critical of unauthorized leakers, and White House spokesmen are often dismissive of questions about news reports based on unnamed sources. The FBI is investigating members of the Senate for possibly leaking intercept information about Osama bin Laden.

He said that if Novak's account is accurate, the leak was part of "a deliberate attempt on the part of the White House to intimidate others and make them think twice about coming forward."

"There is a whole group of intelligence analysts who have spoken anonymously to the press about such things as pressure they felt when Cheney and others may have come out there," Wilson said. "They have not attached their names to their stories, and this is clearly designed to let them know that if they were to come out publicly or if they were to respond to the various congressional statements that they wanted to hear from these people in hearings, that they can expect the same thing from the White House."

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has been pushing the FBI to investigate the disclosure, said it "not only put an agent's life in danger, but many of that agent's sources and contacts."



Lyndon LaRouche's Long Campaign


"The Beatles had no genuine musical talent, but were a product shaped according to British Psychological Warfare Division specifications."

- Lyndon LaRouche, from the pamphlet, "Why Your Child Became a Drug Addict"

LaRouche's 2004 campaign centers upon the idea of a national economic recovery based on fixed exchange rates and a commitment to global development. LaRouche is also against the U.S. occupation in Iraq, believing the responsibility should be turned over to the United Nations. He is, for the most part, pro-choice and against gay marriages. It is a strikingly mainstream platform.

To many, however, LaRouche is nothing more than a psychotic, power-hungry political cult leader with delusions of grandeur. They dismiss him as insignificant, a political never-was with a small following of paranoid hatemongers. "If you asked 100 poli-sci majors on this campus who Lyndon LaRouche is, five might recognize the name," says Art Paulson, a professor of political science at Southern Connecticut State University. "But if you asked 100 random students to identify Lyndon LaRouche, maybe-and I mean maybe-one could tell you. He's a conspiracy theorist, and not a very important one at that."

But he is running for president. Again.


Powell Bolts From New York Time Rather Than Answer Questions


The Failure to Find Iraqi Weapons

This is clearly an uncomfortable question for the Bush administration. Yesterday, Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Times editors. Asked whether Americans would have supported this war if weapons of mass destruction had not been at issue, Mr. Powell said the question was too hypothetical to answer. Asked if he, personally, would have supported it, he smiled, thrust his hand out and said, "It was good to meet you."


Friday, September 26, 2003

U.S. Income Gap Widening


In 2000, the top 1 percent of American taxpayers had $862,700 each after taxes, on average, more than triple the $286,300 they had, adjusted for inflation, in 1979.

The bottom 40 percent in 2000 had $21,118 each, up 13 percent from their $18,695 average in 1979.

Mr. Shapiro also analyzed the budget office data in tandem with a recently updated study on income by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization in Cambridge, Mass. The bureau study found that in 2000, the top 1 percent income group had the largest share of before-tax income for any year since 1929.

Mr. Shapiro said that findings from both studies suggested that in 2000, the top 1 percent had the largest share of the nation's total after-tax income since at least 1936 and probably since 1929. Mr. Shapiro emphasized that his combined analysis accounted for the fact that his study used after-tax incomes while the bureau's study used pretax incomes.

Both low- and middle-income people shared in the boom of the 1990's, while in the 1980's the bottom fifth experienced a decline in after-tax income, according to the budget office data analyzed by Mr. Shapiro and Robert Greenstein, director for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The middle fifth had an average after-tax income of $41,900 in 2000, a rise of 15 percent both since 1979 and 1997, indicating a long period of no real economic gains for this group.

"You do have gains across the spectrum from 1997 to 2000," Mr. Shapiro said, "but they are much more dramatic at the top."

The center's analysis said the highest income Americans had grown richer from 1979 to 2000 both from gains in income because of economic prosperity and from tax cuts. Huge gains in executive pay were a significant factor, Mr. Shapiro said.



Bushism of the Day

"I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves."—Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2003



Who's Poor? Don't Ask the Census Bureau


The National Academy of Sciences has estimated what the Orshansky measure would look like today if it were updated for changes in consumption patterns, and found the threshold could be as much as 45 percent higher, implying higher poverty rates.

Second, the current measure leaves out some sources of income and some expenditures that weren't relevant when it was devised. The Census Bureau counts the value of cash transfers, like welfare payments, but it ignores the value of food stamps and health benefits, as well as newer tax credits that can significantly add to the income of low-end working families. Not only would taking these additions into consideration bring down the poverty rate figure, it would also provide a real measure of the effects of these antipoverty programs.

On the other side of the ledger, the current method also ignores important costs to low-income families. For example, these days many more women with young children participate in the labor force, yet the money they spend on child care is not factored into the poverty calculation.

If the Census Bureau's poverty findings were simply an accounting tool, these failures might not be important to anyone but economists and demographers. But the official figure plays an important role in determining eligibility for the federal and state safety nets: if we're not getting the measurement right, we're not providing services to the right people.

There is a better way, but of course it's a political hot potato. Census Bureau analysts have been working on alternative measures that take into account the changes in family life over the past four decades. The one I consider most reliable, because it factors in child-care costs for working parents, has shown poverty rates that average about 3 percent above the official figure, implying that there may be 9 million more Americans whose incomes are inadequate for their basic needs.

Of course, no administration would want to adopt such a measure on its watch.



A Hummerdinger of a Tax Loophole?


"Thanks to the Bush administration's recent economic stimulus package, small businesses and the self-employed are eligible to deduct the entire purchase cost of new equipment up to $100,000 the year of the purchase." But these provisions are supposed to help farmers and small-business owners buy equipment to transport merchandise and haul stuff. No matter. "The Hummer H2 qualifies for this IRS Sec. 179 deduction by its gross vehicle weight of over 6,000 lbs. Cars and medium sized SUV's don't qualify for this deduction," Thorpe writes. "If you are seriously considering acquisition of a new vehicle, step up to the vehicle that can take you where you want to be, financially and otherwise."

So is this pitch working? Oh, yes. Since the letter went out in August, Thorpe estimated his Anchorage dealership, the only one in the state, has sold an additional 35 Hummers at $62,000 each. That's pumping serious money into the local economy, a most substantial stimulus indeed.

Thorpe said he sold perhaps "nine in one month to doctors" who bought them pretty much for the tax benefits. Local buzz is that they're mostly leaving them in the garage, or their wives are driving them around. Lawyers and small-business owners have snapped up the cars -- which get a whopping 10 miles per gallon -- and, given Alaska's rough winters and formidable terrain, no doubt will make great use of them this winter.



Friedman Attacks Bush for Not Connecting the Dots


When it comes to the police and military sides of the war on terrorism, the Bushies behave like Viking warriors. But when it comes to the political and economic sacrifices and strategies that are also required to fight this war successfully, they are cowardly wimps. That is why our war on terrorism is so one-dimensional and Pentagon-centric. It's more like a hobby — something we do only until it runs into the Bush re-election agenda.

If only the Bush team connected the dots, it would see what a nutty war on terrorism it is fighting, explains Mr. Prestowitz. Here, he says, is the Bush war on terrorism: Preach free trade, but don't deliver on it, so Pakistani farmers become more impoverished. Then ask Congress to give a tax break for any American who wants to buy a gas-guzzling Humvee for business use and also ask Congress to resist any efforts to make Detroit increase gasoline mileage in new cars. All this means more U.S. oil imports from Saudi Arabia.

So then the Saudis have more dollars to give to their Wahhabi fundamentalist evangelists, who spend it by building religious schools in Pakistan. The Pakistani farmer we've put out of business with our farm subsidies then sends his sons to the Wahhabi school because it is tuition-free and offers a hot lunch. His sons grow up getting only a Koranic education, so they are totally unprepared for modernity, but they are taught one thing: that America is the source of all their troubles. One of the farmer's sons joins Al Qaeda and is killed in Afghanistan by U.S. Special Forces, and we think we're winning the war on terrorism.

Fat chance.

EL - This is the frustrating thing about Friedman, he is very smart and sees the big picture and then he advocates some naive policy like putting Bush in charge of converting the Middle East to democracy.



Smart Campaign


Dean had a short political ad on MSNBC's Hardball which did their post debate analysis.



UN staff prepare to leave Iraq


UN staff are preparing to pull out of Baghdad in the wake of new deadly attacks.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has set a six-month deadline for an Iraqi constitution, to be followed next year by a new government.

Strikes on US occupying forces mounted, inflicting a growing toll on Iraqi civilians, while pro-US Iraq paid its final respects to its first assassinated official, from the Iraqi Governing Council.



How to ruin a great army? See Donald Rumsfeld


It took the better part of 20 years to rebuild the Army from the wreckage of Vietnam. With the hard work of a generation of young officers, blooded in Vietnam and determined that the mistake would never be repeated, a new Army rose Phoenix-like from the ashes of the old, now perhaps the finest Army in history.

In just over two years, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and his civilian aides have done just about everything they could to destroy that Army.

How do you break an army?

-You can work it to death. Under Rumsfeld, by next spring 30 of the Army's 33 combat brigades will either be in Iraq or on their way home from Iraq.

-You can neglect its training and education. With an operations tempo this high, there's little time for units to do much more than repair their equipment and send their soldiers home on leave with long-neglected families before it's time to deploy again.

-You can politicize the Army promotion system for three- and four-star generals. Where once the Army would send up its nominee for a vacant billet, now it must send up two or three candidates who must run the gantlet of personal interviews in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Not just Rumsfeld, but all of his civilian experts who never wore a uniform.

-You can decide that you've discovered a newer, cheaper way of fighting and winning America's wars. Rumsfeld and company have embraced, on the basis of a fleeting success in Afghanistan and a flawed success in Iraq, a theory that all that's needed to win our wars is air power and small bands of Special Operations troops. Stealth bombers and snake-eaters.

Another defense secretary who could not admit he'd erred was Robert Strange McNamara, who, like Rumsfeld, was recruited from corporate America. By the time he did, it was too late.

ABOUT THE WRITER Joseph L. Galloway is the senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers and co-author of the national best-seller "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young."



U.S. Poverty Rate Up, Income Down for Second Straight Year


Nearly 1.7 million people fell into poverty last year, ticking the official poverty rate up to 12.1 percent from the 2001 rate of 11.7 percent, the second straight year that poverty has increased in the United States, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today.

Nationally, median household money income fell 1.1 percent -- or by $500 -- between 2001 and 2002, to $42,409 from $42,900. After-tax income fell a slightly smaller 0.8 percent.

Since cash incomes peaked in 1999 at $43,915, household money income has dropped $1,506.

The poverty rate has risen from a trough of 11.3 percent in 2000 to the 2002 rate of 12.1 percent. In 2001 and 2002, 3 million Americans slipped beneath the official poverty line, which, for an individual under 65 is $9,359 a year and for a family of four is $18,244. By the end of last year, 34.6 million Americans lived in poverty. Among those, 12.1 million are children, up from 11.7 million in 2001.

EL -- So the average American makes $1500 less under Bush. Is the average American paying attention?





More Doubts About E-Voting


The American vote-count is controlled by three major corporate players - Diebold, ES&S, and Sequoia - with a fourth, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), coming on strong. These companies - all of them hardwired into the Bushist Party power grid - have been given billions of dollars by the Bush Regime to complete a sweeping computerization of voting machines nationwide by the 2004 election. These glitch-riddled systems - many using "touch-screen" technology that leaves no paper trail at all - are almost laughably open to manipulation, according to corporate whistleblowers and computer scientists at Stanford, John Hopkins, Rice, and other universities.

The technology had a trial run in the 2002 mid-term elections. In Georgia, serviced by new Diebold systems, a popular Democratic governor and senator were both unseated in what the media called "amazing" upsets, with results showing vote swings of up to 16 percent from the last pre-ballot polls. In computerized Minnesota, former vice president Walter Mondale - a replacement for popular incumbent Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash days before the vote - was also defeated in a large last-second vote swing. Convenient "glitches" in Florida saw an untold number of votes intended for the Democratic candidate registering instead for Governor Jeb "L'il Brother" Bush. A Florida Democrat who lost a similarly "glitched" local election went to court to have the computers examined - but the case was thrown out by a judge who ruled that the innards of America's voting machines are the "trade secrets" of the private companies who make them.

The mad rush to install unverifiable computer voting is driven by the Help America Vote Act, signed by Bush last year. The chief lobbying group pushing for HAVA was a consortium of arms dealers - those disinterested corporate citizens - including Northop-Grumman and Lockheed-Martin. The bill also mandates that all states adopt the computerized "ineligible voter purge" system which Jeb used to eliminate 91,000 ***eligible*** black voters from the Florida rolls in 2000. The Republican-run private company that accomplished this electoral miracle, ChoicePoint, is bagging the lion's share of the new Bush-ordered purge contracts.



The Bush Economy - Falling Down


Salon -- We were both professionals. Now I'm sweeping up popcorn, my husband is selling motorcycles, and our house is on the block. There are a lot of us these days.


Thursday, September 25, 2003

Coming Soon -- "The Oh Really Factor"


The folks at FAIR have put together a volume on Bill O’Reilly’s countless misstatements and distortions called "The Oh Really Factor," which I read last night. Wonderful ammo for your arguments with Fox fans, and for that matter, a wonderful present to give to the O’Reilly fan in your family. Some excerpts:

O'REILLY: Commenting on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that forcing students to say the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional: "The reason they're even sitting there is because they were appointed by liberal politicians. Conservative politicians would never appoint the pinheads sitting on the Ninth Circuit" (3/4/03).

OH REALLY: The opinion in the Pledge of Allegiance case was drafted by Judge Alfred T. Goodwin, who was appointed by Richard Nixon.

* * *

O'REILLY: Explaining free speech rights to a high school student, who backed the establishment of a Satanic club at school: "They don't have any First Amendment rights. As soon as they walk in the door . . . Yes, they don't have any. Joe, do you realize that, as soon as you walk in the San Mateo High School door, you don't have any rights, that you have to do what the teachers tell you to do?" (10/2/02)

OH REALLY: "It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech . . . at the schoolhouse gates" (U.S. Supreme Court, Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969).

For the record, O'Reilly already knows this. When a high school student was suspended by his school for putting up pro-war flyers, he sued the school and won. O'Reilly had him on the show to cheer his legal victory: "A federal judge has ruled the school violated the boy's freedom of speech rights. The school administrators were ordered by the judge to undergo constitutional rights training, and the school board has been ordered to pay Aaron and his parents $3,000" (11/30/01). Maybe O'Reilly could get some of the same training.

* * *

O'REILLY: "The Founders were not concerned with the minority rights, they were concerned with everybody's rights."

OH REALLY: "All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression" (Thomas Jefferson, "First Inaugural Address," March 4, 1801).

EL -- An entire book of these is too much, or not enough. He is full of BS on every show and you can do a chapter a week.



BuzzFlash Interviews Author of 'The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception'


All American presidents have lied, but George W. Bush has relentlessly abused the truth. In this scathing indictment of the president and his inner circle, David Corn, the Washington editor of The Nation, reveals and examines the deceptions at the heart of the Bush presidency. In a stunning work of journalism, he details and substantiates the many times the Bush administration has knowingly and intentionally misled the American public to advance its own interests and agenda, including:

* Brazenly mischaracterizing intelligence and resorting to deceptive arguments to whip up public support for war with Iraq
* Misrepresenting the provisions and effects of the president’s supersized tax cuts
* Offering misleading explanations— instead of telling the full truth — about the 9/11 attacks
* Lying about connections to corporate crooks
* Presenting deceptive and disingenuous claims to sell controversial policies on the environment, stem cell research, missile defense, Social Security, white-collar crime, abortion, energy, and other crucial issues
* Running a truth-defying, down-and-dirty campaign during the 2000 presidential contest and recount drama

The Lies of George W. Bush is not a partisan whine—it is instead a carefully constructed, fact-based account that clearly denotes how Bush has relied on deception—from the campaign trail to the Oval Office—to win political and policy battles. With wit and style, Corn explains how Bush has managed to get away with it and explores the dangerous consequences of such presidential deceit in a perilous age.

"I’m not a Democratic strategist. I am an independent journalist. My views are known. I believe that if you tell the truth, the things that I want to see happen in the world are more likely to happen. Having a commitment to -- better yet, having a reputation for -- telling the truth so you can't be attacked by books such as mine can only help your side politically."



Clark Supporters Splitting


Daily Kos -- Any marketing expert will tell you the best form of marketing is word-of-mouth. The movie industry, despite its million dollar marketing budgets, is wholly dependent on that word of mouth. It can make or break any movie.

Each one of those Dean supporters is a walking billboard for Dean, evangelizing to his/her friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, people they meet at parties, or farmers markets, or wherever. Given the choice between that hard-core supporter and $58 (or whatever the average donation may be), I'd take the evangelizing supporter in a heartbeat.

The Clark campaign had that with the Draft movement. Yet they aligned themselves with the wrong draft group (at the end of the day, the story notes that the DraftClark2004 people only had a mailing list of 200 people, compared to 40,000 collected by Hlinko), and then they set out to dismantle the very netroots operation that helped create the impetus for the Clark candidacy.

I've got nothing against Clark. I was an early supporter, and I've seen nothing to change my mind about his fitness to be an effective nominee and president.

But I've got everything against his organization. If nothing else, why would they so visibly piss off their online supporters? Now, like spurned lovers, they are working hard to undermine the Clark candidacy, talking to the press (the Boston Globe is also on the story) and creating discord within the ranks. And the Clark campaign is fueling this hostility by systematically dismantling the sites that collectively formed the backbone of the Draft movement's effective netroots effort, dissing the people that built them, and even sending daily talking points to Clark-friendly sites, trying to impose some sort of message discipline (which is the antithesis of a true netroots operation).

Does that mean the Clark candidacy is doomed? I wouldn't say that. The Fabianis and Lehanes are real pros and can be effective (though they failed misrably with Gore and Davis). But it's not a candidacy that can get me excited the way I would've been had the Clark camp build a Dean-like campaign structure.



THE BIG LIE


Both Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, and Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's closest adviser, made clear before September 11 2001 that Saddam Hussein was no threat - to America, Europe or the Middle East.

In Cairo, on February 24 2001, Powell said: "He (Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours."

This is the very opposite of what Bush and Blair said in public.

Powell even boasted that it was the US policy of "containment" that had effectively disarmed the Iraqi dictator - again the very opposite of what Blair said time and again. On May 15 2001, Powell went further and said that Saddam Hussein had not been able to "build his military back up or to develop weapons of mass destruction" for "the last 10 years". America, he said, had been successful in keeping him "in a box".

Two months later, Condoleezza Rice also described a weak, divided and militarily defenceless Iraq. "Saddam does not control the northern part of the country," she said. "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

In April last year, Condoleezza Rice described September 11 2001 as an "enormous opportunity" and said America "must move to take advantage of these new opportunities."

Taking over Iraq, the world's second biggest oil producer, was the first such opportunity.

At 2.40pm on September 11, according to confidential notes taken by his aides, Donald Rumsfeld, the Defense Secretary, said he wanted to "hit" Iraq - even though not a shred of evidence existed that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with the attacks on New York and Washington. "Go massive," the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not." Iraq was given a brief reprieve when it was decided instead to attack Afghanistan. This was the "softest option" and easiest to explain to the American people - even though not a single September 11 hijacker came from Afghanistan. In the meantime, securing the "big prize", Iraq, became an obsession in both Washington and London.

An Office of Special Plans was hurriedly set up in the Pentagon for the sole purpose of converting "loose" or unsubstantiated intelligence into US policy. This was a source from which Downing Street received much of the "evidence" of weapons of mass destruction we now know to be phoney.

CONTRARY to Blair's denials at the time, the decision to attack Iraq was set in motion on September 17 2001, just six days after the attacks on New York and Washington.

On that day, Bush signed a top- secret directive, ordering the Pentagon to begin planning "military options" for an invasion of Iraq. In July 2002, Condoleezza Rice told another Bush official who had voiced doubts about invading Iraq: "A decision has been made. Don't waste your breath."

EL - I saw an interview of Rice's she gave right after this came out. There was a lot of voice stress. I wanted to tell her, just tell the truth girl. Let it out.



Fourth Special Session Coming Up?


"Just like on any conference bill, we will enter into the negotiations and discuss what map we think can be produced that garners the support of both the House and the Senate," said Senate redistricting sponsor Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine.

But House redistricting sponsor Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, said a tough road lies ahead that could last the rest of this special session and possibly prompt a fourth on the issue.

The House map is designed to replace a 17-15 Democratic majority in the state's congressional delegation with a 21-11 Republican majority. The Senate plan guarantees a Republican gain of three seats with three others possible.

King indicated that may not be good enough.

"My objective all along has been to see if we can pick up five or six seats," King said. "I want to make sure President Bush has a Republican majority and doesn't have (U.S. House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi as the speaker of the House."

EL - Despite a GOP majority, most voters are against redistricting. Over 90% of the public comments have been against this pure partisanship plan. The current districts were drawn by a Republican Attorney General and two out of three of the judges were Republican. Republicans like King are driving this plan under the direction of DeLay to get rid of Anglo Democrat office holders.



NO WMDs - 1,400 troops, five months, interviews with Iraqi officials shows no WMDs


President Bush's Inspectors Find No Weapons to Support his Claims about Imminent Threat

A desperate five-month search by a team of 1,400 U. S. investigators reportedly has failed to find any new physical evidence of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in Iraq, despite President Bush's continuing insistence the weapons not only existed but posed an imminent threat to the United States.

The failure of the U. S. team, led by Bush appointee David Kay, seriously undermines the integrity of the President's assertion two days prior to the war: "Intelligence gathered...leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

Bush's bold declaration, according to a subsequent review, was based on old and faulty intelligence data. Former CIA official Richard Kerr, who helped with the review, said Bush's assessment ignored "caveats and disagreements" in the data and relied "heavily on evidence that was at least five years old." Even the Pentagon's intelligence agency had warned in a classified September 2002 report that "there is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons."

Bush continued to claim otherwise, saying inaccurately in May, "We found the weapons of mass destruction" and predicting "we'll find more weapons as time goes on." The widespread search he initiated, however, now has turned up not a single weapon of mass destruction.

EL- David Kay will likely issue some caveats about dual-use facilties, just waiting for sanctions to end. All modern countries have institutions that could be used to make biological and chemical weapons. David Kay was also one of the "crazies" gung-ho leading the charge for war so if he can't find them...



Jimmy Breslin -- They Lied and Many Soldiers Died


NYNewsday.com -- George Bush told lies and they died.

First, your government lied to ensure Bush's re-election. Who votes against a president in time of war? And even better, you get oil with the winning election.

So Bush lied to you. Not misstatements. Lies. He and his people threw away their honor and consciences to lie to the people they had sworn to protect.

The lies of Washington put young men from Seymour, Tenn., and Maspeth, Queens and Palos Hills, Ill., into boxes. And that, dear reader, is quite a lie.

At the start, Bush claimed that Iraq had poison gas and was making nuclear weapons. Soon, they will poison us all and blow us up. His proof was documents forged by elementary-school pupils. Still, Bush used it in his State of the Union speech. Condoleezza Rice said it was only 23 words in a speech. What are you so concerned about?

The 23 words were only about nuclear bombs.

Look now at the lie that George Bush carries into the United Nations today:

We went into Iraq because they were part of the World Trade Center attack.

That's what they told you, and Americans, who honor their government, believed what their government told them. And so did all those young people as they were about to put up their lives in the desert.

On Oct. 14, 2002, Bush said, "This is a man [Saddam] that we know has had connections with al-Qaida. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al-Qaida as a forward army."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, on Sept. 26, 2002, "Yes, there is a linkage between al-Qaida and Iraq."

Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, said on Sept. 25, 2002, "There have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al-Qaida going back for actually quite a long time."

...So the three now say that they never said that Hussein was involved in the World Trade Center attack. Look up what we said. We never said it.

Of course they did. Anybody who thinks they didn't is a poor fool. Take a half-word out of a sentence, replace it with a smug smile or chin motion and the meaning is there. Saddam was in on the Trade Center with bin Laden. Of course Bush and his people said it. Then go to the whip, go to the truth.

Only the strong memory is an opponent, and there are few of them. Otherwise, the only thing that can remind people and maybe even inflame them are these dead bodies coming back from Iraq to Heber, Calif. They arrive here in silence. We have no idea of how many wounded are in government hospitals with no arms or legs. You never hear Bush talking about them. He often acts as if subjects like this have nothing to do with him.



The Other Side Promo


Do you believe in John Ashcroft, George Bush, Rick Perry, Karl Rove, and Santa Claus? Of course not.

Do you believe the media is liberal while at the same time believing in pigs flying or July snowstorms in Houston?

If you answered no to these questions then you are already smarter than your local Rush Limbaugh listener and more qualified to be governor than Arnold Schwarzenegger!

And now there's a radio show for your intelligence.

Tune in this THURSDAY night for the cure as The Other Side will be on 90.1 KPFT in Houston, 89.5 in Galveston and www.kpft.org on the world wide web.


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