Easter Lemming Liberal News

Friday, October 31, 2003

Echoes Of Vietnam Grow Louder


Newsweek, Fineman --

Old arguments are rising again, old political battle lines are being drawn. Democrats and Republicans seem destined to repeat the accusations, tactics—and mistakes—of the early 1970s. It’s always dangerous, and often wrong, to see one-for-one analogies to the past. But the patterns are too eerily familiar to ignore. I think we’ve seen this movie before.

Here’s a look at some of the parallels, actual and potential:

SPINNING THE SITUATION ‘IN COUNTRY’
NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS
BODY COUNTS
VOTER PATIENCE—OR LACK OF IT
DEMOCRATIC QUANDARY
‘COUNTERINSURGENCY’ IS ALL
‘CUT AND RUN’

We thought we had escaped Vietnam in 1975. It turns out we’ve never really left.



Does Gephardt Want To Get Into This Game?


At his first stop, a senior center in Des Moines (the first of three consecutive senior centers visited by the campaign), Gephardt is supposed to deliver a "health policy address," but it turns out to be a rehash of old Howard Dean quotes about Medicare. (Later, while being ribbed by reporters about the false advertising, Gephardt's Iowa press secretary, Bill Burton, protests that he never called it a "major" policy address.) The newest wrinkle: Gephardt wants to paint the 1997 balanced budget accord—generally thought to be one of President Clinton's major accomplishments, and one supported by Dean—as a "deep, devastating cut" in Medicare.

While Gephardt speaks in front of a sign that reads "Protect Social Security" and "Protect Medicare" over and over, like computer-desktop wallpaper, I wonder: Does he really want to play this game? Dredging up old quotes and votes about Gephardt's onetime conservatism is what helped to derail his '88 campaign. He voted against the establishment of the Department of Education. He voted for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. He voted to means-test Social Security and to eliminate cost-of-living adjustments from the program. He voted for Reagan's 1981 tax cuts. He opposed an increase in the minimum wage. Does a man with a legislative record this long and varied really want to ostentatiously declare, "There are life-and-death consequences to every position taken and every vote cast"? If that's so, how many times was Dick Gephardt on the side of death?



The Incredible Lying BushCo


This just in: More irrefutable proof that Dubya's is the slimiest administration in 100 years

Look. Bush told Americans we were going to enter into this savage and bloody war no one really wanted because Iraq posed an immediate and imminent threat to the security of the U.S. and its citizens. He gutted the economy for it. He destroyed long-standing relationships with countless international allies for it. He made America into this rogue superpower brat, disrespected and untrustable and appalling, for it. And it was never true.

How about this? More soldiers have died since BushCo declared the war essentially over six months ago than during the war itself. And guerrilla attacks on U.S. forces have more than doubled over recent months to more than 25 per day, with fresh American causalities coming in nonstop.

No matter, says the GOP. All part of the clumsy "rebuilding" process, they say. By the way, that $87 billion BushCo just begged for to keep the Iraq war machine clunking along? That's more than the fiscal debt of all the gutted U.S. states combined. Iraq is, by every account, a devastating U.S. money pit.

OK, I'll spell it out: George W. Bush and his entire senior administration lied, and continue to lie, flagrantly, openly, knowingly, with full intent, about the need to drive this nation into a brutal and unwinnable and fiscally debilitating war, one that protects no one and inhibits no terrorism and defends nothing but BushCo's own petrochemical cronies and political stratagems.



Fox News Memo Interview in Salon


As usual Salon gets an important interview. Maybe BuzzFlash will do another.

Very often among many of the anchors there, their idea of "fair and balanced" is you have on liberal or Democrat "A" and conservative or Republican "B." You spend most of your time challenging or dismissing rudely what the liberal has to say and lobbing softball questions to the conservative. You'd be sure to give them equal time or give the liberal a little more time even.



Roundup of Other News


Dean, Gephardt Campaign Aides Getting Into Scuffles In Iowa

Hardball’s Matthews sounds off on Dean, Bush, Cheney and 'The Great Debate'

Supports Dean, Cheney's in charge and the next election will be the debate.

Fox Responds to The Daily Memo Claim by Attacking the Messenger


From MICHAEL McFADDEN: If there's anything that still shocks about the Roger Ailes News Network, it's their dreadful consistency. Bill O'Reilly could have written Sharri Berg's response to Charles Reina, consisting as it does of the usual substance-free bilge: conjecture about Reina's motives, a lengthy (painstakingly transcribed) smear from an anonymous colleague and even a cringe-inducing dollop of Fox's faux populism ('No grunts here!') Careful readers will note, however, that she didn't dispute Reina's most explosive claim, which is that a right-wing bias is mandatory and comes by way of a daily memo. Thanks Sharri, that's all the verification I need.

New poll: Wesley Clark leads in SC

EL - Kerry may be next to drop out. Forced to rely on a misleading poll in Iowa that only surveyed delagates from four years or more ago and now 8th, just above Kucinich, in South Carolina which he had strong hopes for.

The USA accounts for 43% of world military expenditure

By the way, I am Atrios!

Another Atrios picked up this: More on Civility

The day a mainstream columnist writes a column like this for a major paper, we can talk:

Bush's speech was one no minimally decent politician could have delivered. It was entirely dishonest, cheap, low. It was utterly hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of constructive ideas, very nearly of facts--bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies. It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in smarmy tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics. It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate.

from Big Media Matthew Yglesias

This followed Atrios' Norms of Civility.

Finally, In a blow to Neo-Cons and Likudists, Israeli Army Chief Warns Sharon 'on the verge of a catastrophe'

Israel's army chief has exposed deep divisions between the military and Ariel Sharon by branding the government's hardline treatment of Palestinian civilians counter-productive and saying that the policy intensifies hatred and strengthens the "terror organisations".

The statements - which a close associate characterised to the Israeli press as warning that the country was "on the verge of a catastrophe" - will also reinforce a growing perception among the public that Mr Sharon is unable to deliver the peace with security he promised when he came to office nearly three years ago.

The criticism is made all the more searing because Gen Ya'alon is not known for being soft on the Palestinians. As deputy chief of staff, he called the latest conflict the second stage of Israel's independence war.



Rumsfeld Defunds Most Sucessful Program in Iraq


Military Uses Hussein Hoard For Swift Aid

The speed and ease with which reconstruction money is being handed out by the military here contrasts sharply with the delays and controversy surrounding the handling of major reconstruction funds by the Pentagon and U.S. Agency for International Development.

Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the 101st, said the money has been critical to keeping people employed and providing tangible evidence the occupation powers are helping the populace -- which he believes keeps his soldiers safer.

"Money is the most powerful ammunition we have," Petraeus said in an interview.

Yes, it was the most powerful tool commanders have had. But as of now, it has been cut off.



Arsonist Burns Peace Activists' Home


The Progressive McCarthyism Watch

On October 28, about 150 people attended a rally on campus to support the family and free speech. "I Thought This Was America," one sign said, according to the Daily News-Record. And that evening, a forum was held entitled, "Is Silence the Price of Freedom?" One man wore a shirt with an American flag on it and the words: "This idea doesn't burn," the paper said.

On October 22, the Daily News-Record, which is a conservative paper, wrote a strong editorial entitled "Arson Assault." It said: "The arson at the home of an anti-war Harrisonburg couple was outrageous and must be condemned not only by those who believe in the First Amendment, but also by all those who believe in decency and humanity. The harassment of the Harrisonburg couple was appalling. . . . Violence and vandalism used to intimidate are not only criminal and cowardly, but profoundly un-American."

Hunter says she is not deterred by the arson. "We will put our signs out again," she vows.

Her 11-year-old daughter was more apprehensive. "We'll put the sign back up after they catch the guy who did it," she said, according to her father.

Hunter cites an act of solidarity that has comforted the family.

"A lot of people in the community have made their own signs to put in their own yards so it's not only us," she says. "On Saturday afternoon, we went to a gathering where people were making signs, and my kids helped make some, too."



Molly Ivins - Call Me a Bush-Hater


The Progressive has Molly on an unusual rant.

Almost lost in the mists of time though it is, I not only remember eight years of relentless attacks from Clinton-haters, I also notice they haven't let up yet. Clinton-haters accused the man of murder, rape, drug-running, sexual harassment, financial chicanery, and official misconduct. And they accuse his wife of even worse. For eight long years, this country was a zoo of Clinton-haters. Any idiot with a big mouth and a conspiracy theory could get a hearing on radio talk shows and "Christian" broadcasts and nutty Internet sites. People with transparent motives, people paid by tabloid magazines, people with known mental problems, ancient Clinton enemies with notoriously racist pasts--all were given hearings, credence, and air time. Sliming Clinton was a sure road to fame and fortune on the right, and many an ambitious young rightwing hit man like David Brock, who has since made full confession, took that golden opportunity.

And these folks didn't stop with verbal and printed attacks. From the day Clinton was elected to office, he was the subject of the politics of personal destruction. They went after him with a multimillion dollar smear campaign funded by Richard Mellon Scaife, the rightwing billionaire. They went after him with lawsuits funded by rightwing legal foundations (Paula Jones), they got special counsels appointed to investigate every nitpicking nothing that ever happened (Filegate, Travelgate), and they never let go of that hardy perennial Whitewater. After all this time and all those millions of dollars wasted, no one has ever proved that the Clintons did a single thing wrong. Bill Clinton lied about a pathetic, squalid affair that was none of anyone else's business anyway, and for that they impeached the man and dragged this country through more than a year of the most tawdry, ridiculous, unnecessary pain. The day President Clinton tried to take out Osama bin Laden with a missile strike, every rightwinger in America said it was a case of "wag the dog."

By now, quite a few people who aren't even liberal are starting to say, "Wha the hey?" We got no Osama, we got no Saddam, we got no weapons of mass destruction, the road map to peace in the Middle East is blown to hell, we're stuck in this country for $87 billion just for one year and no one knows how long we'll be there. And still poor Mr. Krauthammer is hard-put to conceive how anyone could conclude that George W. Bush is a poor excuse for a President.

Chuck, honey, it ain't just the 2.6 million jobs we've lost: People are losing their pensions, their health insurance, the cost of health insurance is doubling, tripling in price, the Administration wants to cut off their overtime, and Bush was so too little, too late with extending unemployment compensation that one million Americans were left high and dry. And you wonder why we think he's a lousy President?

Sure, all that is just what's happening in people's lives, but what we need is the Big Picture. Well, the Big Picture is that after September 11, we had the sympathy of every nation on Earth. They all signed up, all our old allies volunteered, everybody was with us, and Bush just booted all of that away. Sneering, jeering, bad manners, hideous diplomacy, threats, demands, arrogance, bluster.

"In Afghanistan, Bush rode a popular tide; Iraq, however, was a singular act of Presidential will," says Krauthammer.

You bet your ass it was. We attacked a country that had done nothing to us, had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, and turns out not to have weapons of mass destruction.

It is not necessary to hate George W. Bush to think he's a bad President. Grownups can do that, you know. You can decide someone's policies are a miserable failure without lying awake at night consumed with hatred.

Poor Bush is in way over his head, and the country is in bad shape because of his stupid economic policies.

If that makes me a Bush-hater, then sign me up.



Helen Thomas - Limiting Coffin Pictures


One of the lessons the U.S. government apparently learned from the Vietnam War is this: Don't let the American public see coffins arriving home with U.S. casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Coffin images during the Vietnam era -- along with photos and video of body bags in the field and military officials talking constantly about "body counts" -- had a tremendous impact in prompting antiwar sentiment at home.

President Bush has not attended any memorials or funerals for the Iraqi war dead but he has met with some of their families. On Memorial Day, he spoke of their sacrifices.

I can understand why the White House and the Pentagon want to shut down coffin coverage on the nightly news.

The photos would be disturbing to anyone and -- if the war goes on much longer -- politically damaging to the president. But the families of the fallen Americans should not have to grieve alone. We can only share by knowing.



USAToday Interviews Claritas Derived Swing Voters On Presidential Campaigns


Looking at the 'Persuadables'

In interviews in the small cities of Wisconsin's Fox River Valley, swing voters like Schley and Henslin say they're skeptical about Bush's decisions on the economy and Iraq. They aren't sure how much power any president has to shape events, especially in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks that continue to affect their views. Some wonder whether the United States should have invaded Iraq. Almost all of them would like to see a new approach to creating jobs. But they don't know yet whether Democrats would do better on handling the economy or making the nation safe.

USA TODAY has developed a tool to analyze the American political landscape, using a combination of national marketing research and its own polls of thousands of people. For this story, we used the new tool to identify swing voters in the middle of the political spectrum, and to create a rich portrait of them.

There are more than 8 million American households in this group, located in smaller cities such as Oshkosh and Appleton, Wis.; densely populated suburbs such as Reston, Va., near Washington, D.C.; and distinctive neighborhoods within larger cities, such as Mount Healthy in Cincinnati.

They are middle-class -- their median income in 2000 was $46,631 -- and home-centered. They have time and enthusiasm for hobbies and recreation, from reading and gardening to bowling and other sports. Some are political independents; others are inclined to vote Republican or Democratic. But they don't have strong ties to any party.

While there was a range of opinions about the war, there was unanimity about the economy: It's been bad, and even those who like Bush say his tax cuts aren't the way to fix it. The benefits have gone mostly to the wealthy, they say, and aren't producing jobs.

Methodolgy.



Ashcroft's Attack On Greenpeace


Never before in U.S. history has an entire organization been prosecuted for a peaceful protest by its supporters.

Last year, two Greenpeace activists climbed aboard a ship carrying Amazon mahogany wood. They held a banner that said "President Bush: Stop Illegal Logging."

Instead of halting the shipment, the government is prosecuting Greenpeace in federal court in Miami. It has charged Greenpeace under an obscure 19th-century law never intended for this purpose.

From the Boston Tea Party to the civil rights movement, public protest actions have helped bring positive change in the U.S.

But if this prosecution succeeds, non-violent protest may become yet another casualty of John Ashcroft's attack on civil liberties.



How Low Can We Go On Taxes?


In the just completed fiscal year, combined federal personal and corporate income taxes fell to only 8.4 percent of the economy, their lowest level since before World War II and a third lower than in fiscal 2000—with no relief in sight.

Due in large part to the Bush tax cuts, personal income taxes have fallen to their lowest level as a share of the economy in more than 50 years.

Corporate taxes have plummeted even more than personal taxes. In fact, at only 1.2 percent of the economy over the past two fiscal years, corporate taxes are at their lowest level since the 1930s, except for one year during Ronald Reagan's first term.

The most recent OECD data show that U.S. corporate taxes as a share of the economy are now virtually the lowest in the industrialized world.

The 2002 and 2003 tax bills provided business tax breaks officially estimated to cost $177 billion in fiscal years 2002 through 2005, with $64 billion of that in fiscal 2004 alone.

While the exact cost of offshore corporate tax sheltering is unknown, reasonable estimates peg the cost at upwards of $50 billion a year.

Thus, recently created loopholes have slashed corporate tax payments by $100 billion or more annually—more than a 40 percent reduction since 2000.

Counting tax breaks that have been on the books for longer, corporations now pay considerably less than half of what they should. They also pay far less than they used to pay. In fact, at 1.2 percent of the economy, corporate taxes are now three-fifths less than the 3.0 percent of the economy that corporate taxes averaged from 1950 through 2000.

At the end of last July, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), with President Bush's blessing, introduced a bill to provide companies with a staggering $259 billion in new loopholes over the next decade. Among the items on this corporate wish list are $79 billion worth of expanded tax shelters for multinational corporations.



Why The Houston Chronicle Doesn't Win Pulitzers


Three of the Headlines:

Report: Minorities lack computers at home
City contractors give big bucks in mayor's race
Mayor hops on Metro bus and stumps for rail

The No Shit Sherlock Paper.

I may be overly critical, while they used a quarter of the front page (pdf) on a cute basketball fan picture the stories are OK if not fine examples of investigative journalism. (Houston television is more known for their investigative stories than the Chronicle!) The contributions from city contractors had a nice numeric box showing who is more on the take - below the fold because it is the Republican. On the front page at all because they support White - Sanchez is a Republican who can't make money and panders for votes.



Justice Dept. Deletes Critical Sections Of Diversity Report


An internal report that harshly criticized the Justice Department's diversity efforts was edited so heavily when it was posted on the department's Web site two weeks ago that half of its 186 pages, including the summary, were blacked out.

Ministry of Truth Strikes Again



Clark and Dean, Democrats Confront the Issue of Electability


"Electability has emerged as a top issue in this race," said Chris Lehane, a senior Clark adviser. "And that is primarily a function of the fact that Democrats are so angry with the direction under Bush that above all else, they want to find a candidate who can beat Bush."

In shrugging off the electability argument, Dr. Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi, said that Democrats underestimated his candidate's appeal in the early days of the primary race and that any assessment that he would be a weak general-election candidate would also be proved wrong. Voters, he said, respond to appeals that are based on issues and values. "Bill Clinton didn't say, `Vote for me because I'm going to win,' " Mr. Trippi said. "I don't think people vote that way."

"It's possible that I am the only Democrat who can get elected," [Dean] said. "And let me tell you why: Every other Democrat in this race believes that the way to beat George Bush is to be like George Bush. I believe the way to beat George Bush is to bring a lot of new people into this process."




Proposed shutdown of VA hospitals sparks protests


The 70-year-old hospital, which sits on 170 acres of tranquil parkland on the edge of open country, is one of seven around the country that could be closed as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs looks for ways to streamline its $26 billion health care network.

That threat drew more than 1,500 protesters, many in uniform, to a boisterous hearing last week before a federal commission charged with overseeing the biggest overhaul of the VA system since the end of World War II

Advocates think it illogical to tear down a beloved hospital that, despite being hit by years of budget cutbacks, still ranked No. 1 in a quality-of-care survey the VA carried out earlier this year.

“I come here every day. It’s better than any other VA hospital I’ve been to,” said Thomas Greene, 52, a disabled Army Ranger who suffered gunshot and shrapnel wounds during two tours in Vietnam.

I went through a lot ... and the only thing I wanted to know was that they were going to care for me when I came home.”



Krugman on 3rd Quarter Growth


My purpose is not to denigrate the impressive estimated 7.2 percent growth rate for the third quarter of 2003. It is, rather, to stress the obvious: we've had our hopes dashed in the past, and it remains to be seen whether this is just another one-hit wonder.

To put it more bluntly: it would be quite a trick to run the biggest budget deficit in the history of the planet, and still end a presidential term with fewer jobs than when you started. And despite yesterday's good news, that's a trick President Bush still seems likely to pull off.



Best of Late Night Political Humor


Daniel Kurtzman About Political Humor:

"Today President Bush said that the people who are attacking our forces in Iraq are getting more and more desperate because we’re making so much progress. So just remember, the worse it gets, the better it is." —Jay Leno

"Bush said that the attacks in Iraq are intended to 'cause people to run.' He’s right — at last count there were nine Democrats running against him." —Jay Leno

"Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston traveled to the Middle East to bring Israelis and Palestinians together — and it seems to be working — Palestinians and Israelis are both saying 'What they hell are they doing here?'" —Conan O'Brien

"The Senate voted 97-0 for an anti-spam bill to stop those annoying things you get on your computer. The senators made it very clear that when you start misleading the American people and start taking their money over false promises, that's our turf buddy." —Jay Leno

"All nine Democratic candidates for president had a debate on Fox and I don't get this — the winner ended up with a gay bachelor in a cowboy hat." —Craig Kilborn

"Today's bloodshed in Baghdad follows yesterday's chaos when anti-American insurgents unleashed a barrage of rockets on the Al Rashid hotel, the temporary American headquarters. Among its guests -- visiting deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz -- who narrowly avoided injury. Wolfowitz, one of the Bush administration's leading hawks, once predicted that American troops would be welcomed in Iraq as liberators, making his brush with danger there: Iraqi War Irony 2712." —Jon Stewart

"On Thursday in California, President Bush met privately with Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. What did the pair talk about? Neither is sure." —Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update"

"Arnold Schwarzenegger met with President Bush. It's amazing if you think about it. It was the Terminator and the One-Terminator." —David Letterman

China sent its first man into space. Experts say China's space program is just intended to direct people's attention away from the country's economic problems. Hey, it beats going to war." —Jay Leno

"Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he is going to ask President Bush for help with the budget. What better way to deal with a $38 billion deficit than get advice from a guy that created a $450 billion deficit." —Jay Leno

"On the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pat Robertson said the State Department should be blown up with nuclear bombs. I guess he just asked himself: What Would Jesus Do?" —Jay Leno



John Dean: Has George W. Bush Met His Own Ken Starr?


FindLaw's John Dean: Presidential Lies, Those Who Expose Them, and How We Ought to Judge Among Them

The Washington editor of The Nation, David Corn, has written a powerful -- not to mention disquieting -- 324-page polemic addressing the pervasive mendacity of George W. Bush's administration. It is entitled The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception.

His evidence is overwhelming, his tone is measured, and his book a jaw dropper. This devastating work is not a laundry list of false statements; rather, it is the chronology of a presidency. Corn found that "lies, in part, made this president, and lies frequently have been the support beams of his administration."

In sum, Corn has done for George Bush what Ken Starr did for Bill Clinton: provided evidence that places his presidency in jeopardy.

Corn's comprehensive, laudable work largely refrains from touching on one important issue, however: How should one judge presidential lies? In this column, I'd like to suggest criteria for doing so.

Whether you are a Bush fan or not, you should examine Corn's important book. This work, an easy and engaging read, is quite sobering. No one can afford to ignore it: It recounts too many lies, of too high a degree of seriousness, to be overlooked or disregarded.


Thursday, October 30, 2003

THE MEMO - FOX NEWS Slant of the Day


Of course, as soon as I post I'll have only one post today I see this link and have to share it.

"The Memo" is the bible at Fox News

Not once in the 20+ years I had worked in broadcast journalism prior to Fox - including lengthy stays at The Associated Press, CBS Radio and ABC/Good Morning America - did I feel any pressure to toe a management line. But at Fox, if my boss wasn't warning me to "be careful" how I handled the writing of a special about Ronald Reagan ("You know how Roger [Fox News Chairman Ailes] feels about him."), he was telling me how the environmental special I was to produce should lean ("You can give both sides, but make sure the pro-environmentalists don't get the last word.")

Editorially, the FNC newsroom is under the constant control and vigilance of management. The pressure ranges from subtle to direct. First of all, it's a news network run by one of the most high-profile political operatives of recent times. Everyone there understands that FNC is, to a large extent, "Roger's Revenge" - against what he considers a liberal, pro-Democrat media establishment that has shunned him for decades. For the staffers, many of whom are too young to have come up through the ranks of objective journalism, and all of whom are non-union, with no protections regarding what they can be made to do, there is undue motivation to please the big boss.

...The roots of FNC's day-to-day on-air bias are actual and direct. They come in the form of an executive memo distributed electronically each morning, addressing what stories will be covered and, often, suggesting how they should be covered. To the newsroom personnel responsible for the channel's daytime programming, The Memo is the bible. If, on any given day, you notice that the Fox anchors seem to be trying to drive a particular point home, you can bet The Memo is behind it.

The Memo was born with the Bush administration, early in 2001, and, intentionally or not, has ensured that the administration's point of view consistently comes across on FNC.

One day this past spring, just after the U.S. invaded Iraq, The Memo warned us that anti-war protesters would be "whining" about U.S. bombs killing Iraqi civilians, and suggested they could tell that to the families of American soldiers dying there. Editing copy that morning, I was not surprised when an eager young producer killed a correspondent's report on the day's fighting - simply because it included a brief shot of children in an Iraqi hospital.

These are not isolated incidents at Fox News Channel, where virtually no one of authority in the newsroom makes a move unmeasured against management's politics, actual or perceived. At the Fair and Balanced network, everyone knows management's point of view, and, in case they're not sure how to get it on air, The Memo is there to remind them.



Neo-Cons Now Running Shadow US Government


This is the most important summary of the progessive liberal news today so I won't post anything else.

Center for American Progress - Progress Report

Here is a small excerpt:

PRAGMATISM AND MODERATION ARE NO VICE: [Senator] Hagel also said “we must avoid the traps of ideology” in dictating foreign policy – a critique of recent revelations of just how hard-line the Administration’s foreign policy has become. Just this morning, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, “A former Pentagon officer turned whistleblower says a group of hawks in the Bush Administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney, is running a shadow foreign policy, contravening Washington's official line.” Karen Kwiatkowski, a former Lt. Colonel in the Air Force and Middle East specialist for neo-conservative icon Douglas Feith at the Pentagon, said “Key [governmental] areas of neoconservative concern were politically staffed.” She said pursuit of national security decisions often bypassed "civil service and active-duty military professionals," and was handled instead by political appointees who shared common ideological ties. Her analysis is consistent with today's Knight-Ridder in which "both friends and critics of the Administration agree that the contrasting remarks from Bush and his vice president reflect the rival views and crippling schisms dividing the Administration's senior councils." On one side are "neoconservatives favoring strong U.S. assertiveness, led by Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. On the other are pragmatists favoring diplomacy and allies, led by Secretary of State Colin Powell." As one senior official said in an earlier story , “It's not about tactics; it's about ideology, there's no compromise possible between two opposing views of how this country should deal with the rest of the world."


Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Progressive News And Commentary Thursday on KPFT


KPFT on the air in Houston and Live on the Internet.

Thursday night 6 P.M. - WINGS: Women's International News Gathering Service

6:29 P.M. Activist Calendar from Houston Peace and Justice Center.

6:30 P.M. "Time of Useful Consciousness" A truly independent voice raising public consciousness on corporate, peace, environment and freedom issues.

7 to 8 P.M. (Monday - Friday) FLASHPOINTS -- In-Depth INVESTIGATIVE News Radio for the World.

8 to 9 P.M. Houston's Progressive Forum - a weekly radio program dealing with issues, such as the environment, globalization, politics, media bias, and other peace and justice concerns, from a progressive perspective.

10 - 11 P.M. The Women's Collective (no website) Houston's progressive women's forum.

11 - Midnight The Other Side (no website) Houston's aggressively progressive talk radio, take back the airwaves and the country.

They have a great program and they and the listeners are still free (so far) to discuss what's on their minds and any topic that the callers want to rave,rant, or complain about. Anyone who has any topics that they think should be covered, send an email to theotherside@k...

"Remember, the callers are the co-hosts so we'll be taking as many phone calls as possible. So tune in, get on your soapbox and call!"

12 - 1:30 A.M. Big City Secrets Progressive music and music news from bug city Houston.

Listen to all of KPFT's mostly great program schedule.

I started giving plugs for The Other Side at 11 PM but I have since expanded to all of Thurday night programming.






Rally with Gov. Dean

Tuesday, November 18th.
Miller Outdoor Theater, Hermann Park
5:00 pm Rally Begins
5:45 pm Formal Program
Get there early and see the next President.

Click to volunteer to help at the Houston rally.

Next organizing meeting - TONIGHT
Wednesday, Oct. 29, 7 pm
,
Schlotzsky's, 2929 Kirby.
Topics: Rally, Nov. 4 election, and a list of volunteer opportunities.

Make a list of 10 people you're going to bring with you to the rally.
Already have 10? Make it 20!

Next....

Dean For President Meetup - Pasadena/Southeast Harris County
Where: Top China Buffet, 3630 Spencer @ Burke, Pasadena
When: First Wednesday of each month starting
Wednesday, November 5, 2003, 7:00 P.M.
Why: Because we need to take this country back!
Meetup Host: Janette Sexton, 281-479-0934 or JSexton19@aol.com
RSVP: http://dean2004.meetup.com


Other Houston Nov. 5 Meetups:

Houston (River Oaks) - Schlotzsky's, 2929 Kirby Dr, Houston
Houston (West) Chili's Grill & Bar, 6764 Highway 6 South, Houston
Houston (North) Café Express, 5311 FM 1960 West @Champions Forest,
Houston (Southwest) Antonio's Flying Pizza, 2920 Hillcroft, Houston
Houston (Downtown) The Flying Saucer, 705 Main suite A, Houston
Houston (Northwest)- Mulligan's and More, 14440 Stuebner Airline, Spring





Dem Rockefeller Not Pressing For Hearing On Plame Affair


David Corn, the leading columnist on the Plame Game: Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat, does have the ability to initiate an inquiry if he can gather five signatures on a request. There are eight Democrats on the committee.

Rockefeller, though, has yet to show any interest in such an investigation.

Had Bush misrepresented the intelligence? That has not been part of the committee investigation Roberts has been overseeing. And Rockefeller has threatened to use the five-member rule to order such a probe. He also complained that whenever CIA analysts were interviewed by the intelligence committee, representatives of the CIA's general counsel office or legislative affairs office sat in on the sessions. Under such conditions, these analysts probably would be less likely to reveal whether they had been pressured by the White House.

But Rockefeller is not known as a streetfighter. As The Washington Post noted, he "is under considerable pressure from the Senate Democratic leadership not to allow Roberts to focus only on intelligence bureaucrats while avoiding questions about whether Bush…and others exaggerated the threat from Iraq." He has to be pressed to do this? Rockefeller did strike a firm stance--at least in front of reporters--on forcing Roberts to widen the intelligence committee's inquiry to cover Bush's use of the intelligence. But he and other Democrats did not make the most of the revelations about the Senate intelligence committee's report.

Democrats ought to be asking,, was Bush ill-served by the CIA, or did he misuse its intelligence? Bush should either be beheading folks at Langley or acknowledging fault. But he is doing neither, and Democrats should be vigorously calling attention to that.

With the Wilson leak--Phase I and Phase II--and the increasing number of reports noting that the prewar intelligence was loaded with uncertainties, there are plenty of questions that Bush ought to answer. The Democrats need to pose them.

EL - I think a few letters and phone calls to Senator Rockefeller are called for. Why isn't he pressing for hearings on both the outing of a hidden CIA operative and how the administration misused intel?




Clark Lays Responsibility for 9/11 at Bush's Feet


In a blistering review of President Bush's national security policy, Gen. Wesley K. Clark said on Tuesday that the administration could not "walk away from its responsibilities for 9/11."

"You can't blame something like this on lower-level intelligence officers, however badly they communicated in memos with each other," said the retired general, the latest entrant in the Democratic presidential field. "It goes back to what our great president Harry Truman said with the sign on his desk: `The buck stops here.' And it sure is clear to me that when it comes to our nation's national security, the buck rests with the commander in chief, right on George W. Bush's desk."

"And," he added, "we've got to say again and again and again, until the American people understand: strong rhetoric in the aftermath is no substitute for wise leadership."

EL - I like references to Harry Truman. Dean seems more like Harry.





Candidates Now Trading Sharp Jabs - Sharpton Calls Dean 'Anti-Black'


Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton launched a blistering attack on Howard Dean yesterday, accusing his rival of promoting an "anti-black agenda."

He said his comments were in response to a news report yesterday that Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) plans to endorse Dean, the former Vermont governor and presumed front-runner for the 2004 Democratic nomination. Sharpton has had a long-standing rivalry with the congressman's father, Jesse L. Jackson, who twice ran for president.

Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, yesterday dismissed Sharpton's attacks as a ploy to boost his standing in the polls.

"I think Dean's record on civil rights issues, on affirmative action -- his willingness to talk about race in a very inclusive way -- has been refreshing," said Brazile, who is African American. "These long-shot candidates, all they're doing is taking aim at the top tier because they're frustrated. I think Reverend Sharpton should keep his focus on ideas."

ABC's The Note - "One could postulate as to whether these attacks are a Sharpton campaign strategy or just the result of an unstoppable Sharpton blow-up. But if Jesse Jackson, Sr. decides to join his two sons in endorsing Howard Dean (Jonathan Jackson already endorsed Dean), this could be trouble."

"In Denver and Boulder, Colorado, Tuesday, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean picked up the endorsements of four prominent local African-American politicians, including State Senator Peter Groff, who heads the University of Denver's Center for African-American policy."

"There were not timed to coincide with Al Sharpton's charge that Dean's agenda is 'anti-black.'"

Also in the note: Kerry now has a two-step focus in private fundraising meetings

The famously long-winded Kerry now trys to keep it simple - KISS. Step two is to attack Dean.

Meanwhile Dean courts a wide spectrum

The pack-leading Democrat hit all the marks, courting fiscal conservatives and social liberals. He bashed the war and pumped up his plans for universal heath care, renewable energy and investments in schools, highways and broadband Internet for everyone.

Dean declared himself a "metrosexual," the buzz phrase for straight men in touch with their feminine sides, as he touted his accomplishments in "equal justice" for gay and lesbian couples.

But then he waffled.

"I'm a square," Dean declared, after professing his metrosexuality to a Boulder breakfast audience with an anecdote about being called handsome by a gay man. "I like (rapper) Wyclef Jean and everybody thinks I'm very hip, but I am really a square, as my kids will tell you. I don't even get to watch television. I've heard the term (metrosexual), but I don't know what it means."



Kennedy was prepared to withdraw from Vietnam - documents buried deep


Through the looking glass -- And now, we have tapes, made in the oval office in October of 1963, containing the voice of JFK ordering a complete and unconditional withdrawal from Vietnam within two years, "victory" or no. And he is backed up by the strong urging of, of all people, Bob "Body Count" McNamara, who had already concluded that prospects for victory were doubtful at best.

What gets particularly odd about this is that the documents in question were edited out of even the Pentagon's own secret history of the conflict, the Pentagon Papers, whose revelation in 1971 was itself a major scandal due to all the other stuff that was left in. Someone meant to bury this very deep.

And even that isn't the creepiest part of this article. That would be a tossup between the news that the CIA began its preparations for covert escalation the day before Johnson issued his secret orders authorizing the move... more.

link from Atrios



Jesse Jackson Jr. Throws His Support to Dean


Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr. said Monday that he would soon endorse Howard Dean for the Democratic presidential nomination, telling a mostly black audience on the South Side of Chicago that Dr. Dean had "the best chance to be the next president of the United States."

"I'm not wasting my time with any more non-straight-talking candidates," Mr. Jackson said in introducing Dr. Dean, a former governor of Vermont, to a group of about 150 people at Chicago State University.



Latest Plame Game


The Village Voice: The Elephant in Wilson's Living Room by Murray S. Waas

The Justice Department and FBI have broadened their criminal investigation of who leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame to include subsequent Bush administration efforts to discredit her and her diplomat husband, according to two administration officials familiar with the probe.

Particularly distressing to the White House have been reports that senior FBI and Justice Department officials privately encouraged Ashcroft to at least recuse himself or perhaps appoint a special counsel. But stopping the appointment of a special counsel is exactly the focus of Bush and RNC officials.

Mark notes the GOP line is still "Slime and Defend".


Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The Geek Pron Star With Cat Pictures


Asia Carrera geeking out.

EL - Added comment: porn, pron, pr0n - I report, I decide.

Also from Boing, Boing:

George Lakoff tells how conservative foundations use language to dominate politics

The background for Rockridge is that conservatives, especially conservative think tanks, have framed virtually every issue from their perspective. They have put a huge amount of money into creating the language for their worldview and getting it out there. Progressives have done virtually nothing. Even the new Center for American Progress, the think tank that John Podesta [former chief of staff for the Clinton administration] is setting up, is not dedicated to this at all. I asked Podesta who was going to do the Center's framing. He got a blank look, thought for a second and then said, "You!" Which meant they haven't thought about it at all. And that's the problem. Liberals don't get it. They don't understand what it is they have to be doing.



Bad Mileage: 98 tons of plants per gallon


A staggering 98 tons of prehistoric, buried plant material – that's 196,000 pounds – is required to produce each gallon of gasoline we burn in our cars, SUVs, trucks and other vehicles
, according to a study conducted at the University of Utah.

"Every day, people are using the fossil fuel equivalent of all the plant matter that grows on land and in the oceans over the course of a whole year," he adds.

In another calcultation, Dukes determined that "the amount of plants that went into the fossil fuels we burned since the Industrial Revolution began [in 1751] is equal to all the plants grown on Earth over 13,300 years."

Explaining why he conducted the study, Dukes wrote: "Fossil fuel consumption is widely recognized as unsustainable. However, there has been no attempt to calculate the amount of energy that was required to generate fossil fuels, (one way to quantify the 'unsustainability' of societal energy use)."



Funny Right-Wing Praise Of Fox News and South Park


OK, so he is insane and he doesn't realize that liberals like South Park too.

Lots of cable comedy, while not traditionally conservative, is fiercely anti-liberal, which as a practical matter often amounts nearly to the same thing. Take South Park, Comedy Central’s hit cartoon series, whose heroes are four crudely animated and impossibly foul-mouthed fourth-graders named Cartman, Kenny, Kyle, and Stan. Now in its seventh season, South Park, with nearly 3 million viewers per episode, is Comedy Central’s highest-rated program.

Many conservatives have attacked South Park for its exuberant vulgarity, calling it “twisted,” “vile trash,” a “threat to our youth.” Such denunciations are misguided. Conservative critics should pay closer attention to what South Park so irreverently jeers at and mocks. As the show’s co-creator, 32-year-old Matt Stone, sums it up: “I hate conservatives, but I really fucking hate liberals.”

Not for nothing has blogger and former New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan praised the show for being “the best antidote to PC culture we have.” South Park sharpens the iconoclastic, anti-PC edge of earlier cartoon shows like The Simpsons and King of the Hill, and spares no sensitivity. The show’s single black kid is called Token. One episode, “Cripple Fight,” concludes with a slugfest between the boys’ wheelchair-bound, cerebral-palsy-stricken friend Timmy and the obnoxious Jimmy, who wants to be South Park’s Number One “handi-capable” citizen (in his cringe-making PC locution). In another, “Rainforest Schmainforest,” the boys’ school sends them on a field trip to Costa Rica, led by an activist choir group, “Getting Gay with Kids,” which wants to raise youth awareness about “our vanishing rain forests.” Shown San José, Costa Rica’s capital, the boys are unimpressed:

Cartman [holding his nose]: Oh my God, it smells like ass out here!
Choir teacher: All right, that does it! Eric Cartman, you respect other cultures this instant.
Cartman: I wasn’t saying anything about their culture, I was just saying their city smells like ass.

But if the city is unpleasant, the rain forest itself is a nightmare: the boys get lost, wilt from the infernal heat, face deadly assaults from monstrous insects and a giant snake, run afoul of revolutionary banditos, and—worst of all—must endure the choir teacher’s New-Agey gushing: “Shhh! Children! Let’s try to listen to what the rain forest tells us, and if we use our ears, she can tell us so many things.” By the horrifying trip’s end, the boys are desperate for civilization, and the choir teacher herself has come to despise the rain forest she once worshiped: “You go right ahead and plow down this whole fuckin’ thing,” she tells a construction worker.

The episode concludes with the choir’s new song:

Doo doo doo doo doo. Doo doo doo wa.
There’s a place called the rain forest that truly sucks ass.
Let’s knock it all down and get rid of it fast.
You say “save the rain forest” but what do you know?
You’ve never been there before.
Getting Gay with Kids is here
To tell you things you might not like to hear.
You only fight these causes ‘cause caring sells.
All you activists can go fuck yourselves.

As the disclaimer before each episode states, the show is so offensive “it should not be viewed by anyone.”

South Park has satirized the sixties counterculture (Cartman has feverish nightmares about hippies, who “want to save the earth, but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad”); anti-big-business zealots (a “Harbucks” coffee chain opens in South Park, to initial resistance but eventual acclaim as everyone—including the local coffee house’s owners—admits its bean beats anything previously on offer in the town); sex ed in school (featuring “the Sexual Harassment Panda,” an outrageous classroom mascot); pro-choice extremists (Cartman’s mother decides she wants to abort him, despite the fact that he’s eight years old, relying on the “it’s my body” argument); hate-crime legislation, anti-discrimination lawsuits, gay scout leaders, and much more. Conservatives do not escape the show’s satirical sword—gun-toting rednecks and phony patriots have been among those slashed. But there should be no mistaking the deepest thrust of South Park’s politics.

That anti-liberal worldview dominates other cable comedy too. Also on Comedy Central is Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, a new late-night chatfest where the conversation—on race, terrorism, war, and other topics—is anything but politically correct. The Brooklyn-born Quinn, a former anchor on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” and a Fox News fan, can be Rumsfeldesque in his comic riffs, like this one deriding excessive worries about avoiding civilian casualties in Iraq: “This war is so polite,” he grumbles. “We used to be Semper Fi. Next, we’ll be dropping comment cards over Iraq saying ‘How did you hear about us?’ And ‘Would you say that we’re a country that goes to war sometimes, often, or never?’ ”

Andrew Sullivan dubs the fans of all this cable-nurtured satire “South Park Republicans”—people who “believe we need a hard-ass foreign policy and are extremely skeptical of political correctness” but also are socially liberal on many issues, Sullivan explains. Such South Park Republicanism is a real trend among younger Americans, he observes: South Park’s typical viewer, for instance, is an advertiser-ideal 28.

We might have long hair, smoke cigarettes, get drunk on weekends, have sex before marriage, watch R-rated movies, cuss like sailors—and also happen to be conservative, or at least libertarian.” Recent Stanford grad Craig Albrecht says most of his young Bush-supporter friends “absolutely cherish” South Park–style comedy “for its illumination of hypocrisy and stupidity in all spheres of life.” It just so happens, he adds, “that most hypocrisy and stupidity take place within the liberal camp.”

EL - A very long right-wing rant that is wrong on both direction and much content but can still be funny. His big failure is not to realize it is just not the conservatives that have changed. The new angry liberals are not-PC anymore either.



Cheney, Master of Fiction


Washingtonpost.com -- EL - Notice how they keep inventing new ways to avoid saying 'lying SOB'

.




Independent voters losing confidence in Bush

Here's most of the USAToday/CNN/Gallup Poll -

In the poll, 39% of independents approve of the way the Bush administration has handled things in Iraq since Bush declared an end to major combat six months ago; 57% of independents disapprove. In the public overall, the poll found, 47% approve.

In late April, 69% of independents favored the war — about the same level as the general public. Now, 48% of independents support the war, which is 6 percentage points below overall support.

Independents are less inclined to vote for Bush next year than to vote for a Democrat; 35% of registered independent voters choose Bush and 42% choose an unnamed Democrat. Among all registered voters, Bush leads the unnamed Democrat 46%-43%, which is within the 4-point error margin.

Fifty-seven percent say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq. That is up considerably from two months ago, when 46% wanted to withdraw some or all of the troops. Seventy percent of Democrats, 58% of independents and 43% of Republicans want a partial or full withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Democratic support for the war has fallen more sharply than independent support — from 54% in April to 24% now.

Republican support remains high at 88%.

In a good sign for Bush, the poll found optimism on the economy. For the first time in 16 months, Americans who say the economy is getting better outnumber those who say it is getting worse, 47% to 43%. Last month, 40% said it was getting better and 50% said it was getting worse.



ABC News Dean Embed - Dean gets two major union edorsements


Marc Ambinder -- Sean McGarvey, IUPAT's political director, said he was skeptical of Dean at first.

Earlier in the year, campaign manager Joe Trippi had shown IUPAT's leaders the Powerpoint presentation outlining Dean's grassroots goals.

"I thought they were wildly optimistic," McGarvey said.

But then came the $7.6 million second quarter, a rapid rise in the polls, and a surprising show of strength in the union's internal balloting.

"We had assumed," said McGarvey, "that [the union members] would be for their champion, Gephardt."

But Gephardt came in second.

...

Sunday's endorsement by the 335,000-member California Teachers Association (CTA) did not take Governor Dean's campaign by surprise.

The CTA formally interviewed Dean in June, and he won by a large margin a vote of CTA's elected teacher representatives yesterday, according to the union. The union said that Dean's strong criticism of the No Child Left Behind education law, and his desire to fully fund special education programs, resonated with its membership.



Why Are We Back in Vietnam?


Like it or not, news doesn't register in our culture unless it happens on television. It wasn't until the relatively tardy date of March 9, 1954, when Edward R. Murrow took on Joseph McCarthy on CBS's "See It Now," that the junior senator from Wisconsin hit the skids. Sam Ervin's televised Watergate hearings reached a vast audience that couldn't yet identify the pre-Redford-and-Hoffman Woodward and Bernstein. Voters didn't turn against our Vietnam adventure en masse until it became, in Michael Arlen's undying phrase, the Living Room War.

However spurious any analogy between the two wars themselves may be, you can tell that the administration itself now fears that Iraq is becoming a Vietnam by the way it has started to fear TV news. When an ABC News reporter, Jeffrey Kofman, did the most stinging major network report on unhappiness among American troops last summer, Matt Drudge announced on his Web site that Mr. Kofman was gay and, more scandalously, a Canadian — information he said had been provided to him by a White House staffer. This month, as bad news from Iraq proliferated, Mr. Bush pulled the old Nixon stunt of trying to "go over the heads of the filter and speak directly to the people" about the light at the end of the tunnel. In this case, "the people" meant the anchors of regional TV companies like Tribune Broadcasting, Belo and Hearst-Argyle.

...A TV news venue that the administration spurns entirely, by contrast, stands a chance of providing actual, fresh, accurate information. There have been at least two riveting examples this month [,Frontline and Nightline.]

...Most of the press was as slow to challenge Joe McCarthy, the Robert McNamara Pentagon and the Nixon administration as it has been to challenge the wartime Bush White House. But in America, at least, history always catches up with those who try to falsify it in real time. That's what L.B.J. and Nixon both learned the hard way.

At the tender age of six months, the war in Iraq is not remotely a Vietnam. But from the way the administration tries to manage the news against all reality, even that irrevocable reality encased in flag-draped coffins, you can only wonder if it might yet persuade the audience at home that we're mired in another Tet after all.



Republicans Deserting Bush Over Iraq Policies


Howard Fineman What Will Iraq Cost Bush?

Hilary served on the Andover board with Barbara Bush and was finance chair of Bush’s primary campaign in New Hampshire in 1980. She organized locally for George W. in 2000. But the other day, upset over the war in Iraq, she left the Republican Party, changing her registration to “undeclared” so she could vote for Dr. Howard Dean in the Democratic primary in January. “You don’t go to war without valid reason,” she said, “or international support.” Bush’s call for $87 billion in new spending on Iraq offended her Yankee sense of thrift: “I believe in fiscal integrity and balanced budgets, and spending so much doesn’t seem sound.”

Though there is no love lost between Bush and McCain—the residue of the brutal nomination race—the senator has been a dutiful soldier.

Until now. In a NEWSWEEK interview, McCain for the first time compared the situation in Iraq to Vietnam, where he survived six years of wartime imprisonment, and began openly distancing himself from Bush’s war strategy.

“This is the first time that I have seen a parallel to Vietnam,” McCain declared, “in terms of information that the administration is putting out versus the actual situation on the ground. I’m not saying the situation in Iraq now is as bad as Vietnam. But we have a problem in the Sunni Triangle and we should face up to it and tell the American people about it.” Also reminiscent of Vietnam, McCain said, was the administration’s reluctance to deploy forces with the urgency required for the quickest victory. “I think we can be OK, but time is not on our side... If we don’t succeed more rapidly, the challenges grow greater.”

Here is Fineman's Culture War column which Krugman correctly points out is mislabeled.

EL - It is now a Religious War that the White House will wage for 2004.

These religious issues: anti-abortion, anti-right-to-die, pro-Israel (and Sharon), anti-Muslim, anti-gays, pro God and prayer back in public life and schools, funneling money to churches, church school vouchers, are the domestic and even foreign issues that Rove is eager to raise. Evangelicals are over 40% of Bush's base and he wants them out in force. On close elections you turn out you base and they know this is going to be another 50-50 race.


"If it sounds like a Holy War at home it is, and the Bushes are hoping that red is the color not just of blood but of victory. "




There Is A Religious Political War Taking Place In This Country


Major Paul Krugman column -- Moderate Muslims would have more faith in America's good intentions if there were at least the appearance of a distinction between the U.S. and the Sharon government — but the administration seeks votes from those who think that supporting Israel means supporting whatever Mr. Sharon does. It's sheer folly to keep General Boykin in his present position, but as Howard Fineman writes in a Newsweek Web-exclusive column, the administration doesn't want "to make a martyr of a man who depicts himself as a Christian Soldier, marching off to war."

Muslims are completely wrong to think that the U.S. is engaged in a war against Islam. But that misperception flourishes in part because the domestic political strategy of the Bush administration — no longer able to claim the Iraq war was a triumph, and with little but red ink to show for its economic plans — looks more and more like a crusade. "Election Boils Down to a Culture War" was the title of Mr. Fineman's column. But the analysis was all about abortion and euthanasia, and now we hear that opposition to gay marriage will be a major campaign theme. This isn't a culture war — it's a religious war.

Which brings me back to my starting point: we'll lose the fight against terror if we don't make an effort to understand how others think. Yet because of a domestic political struggle that seems ever more centered on religion, such attempts at understanding are shouted down.




Why Has America become So Right-Wing? Tax-Free Conservative Foundations


Over the past 30 years a small group of wealthy conservative philanthropies have quietly funded a movement to change the social, legal, educational, media and political landscape of the United States. Using tax-exempt funds these philanthropies have coordinated their giving to create a suppy-side machinery for implementing their mostly Republican agenda.

Various organizations have reported on this phenomenon. In 1996 People for The American Way wrote the first in depth examination in a report titled "Buying a Movement: Right Wing Foundations and American Politics"

Clearly there was nothing even remotely resembling this on the left, perhaps justifiably so, since these philanthropies were achieving political goals with tax-exempt monies -- which is theoretically against the law, since "there is no social interest in the underwriting of one or another of the political parties"

The second major report on this movement was provided by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), an umbrella group of liberal-oriented philanthropies. It's 1997 report, "Moving A Public Policy Agenda: The Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations" for the first time examined the grantmaking activities of the 12 top conservative philanthropies, complete with a three-year analysis of their grants, and, more importantly, a structure for understanding both the philosophical underpinings of the movement, and its action plan.

Media Transparency is the most complete resource available for providing research data and information about the money behind the conservative movement. Only Media Transparency provides an online searchable database of the grants made by the 12 leading conservative philanthropies over the past 15 years. Currently our free database contains 21,000 plus grants to more than 2,000 recipients -- an amount in excess of $1.25 billion.



Bush "Puts Best Face On" Widespread Iraqi Attacks


Bush Says Attacks Are Reflection of U.S. Gains (washingtonpost.com)

The president, speaking after attacks on police stations and a Red Cross facility in Iraq killed at least 35 people, said such attacks should be seen as a sign of progress because they show the desperation of those who oppose the U.S.-led occupation.

"The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," Bush said as he sat in the Oval Office with L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq. He added: "The more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity is available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become, because they can't stand the thought of a free society."

EL - By this logic when they have democracy, schools, electricity,jobs, they'll start firebombing whole cities.

A senior intelligence official told The Washington Post that the United States has a window of three to six months to put down the resistance. The military also believes that insurgencies like the one in Iraq coalesce into larger rebellions if allowed to fester.

Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), a presidential candidate, likened Bush's statement to the "light at the end of the tunnel" claims during the Vietnam War. "Does the president really believe that suicide bombers are willing to strap explosives to their bodies because we're restoring electricity and creating jobs for Iraqis?" Kerry asked in a statement.

Bush got a similar reprimand earlier from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has supported the president on Iraq. "This is the first time that I have seen a parallel to Vietnam, in terms of information that the administration is putting out versus the actual situation on the ground," he told Newsweek.

Powell expressed concern that contractors, aid groups and the United Nations will withdraw in significant numbers. "Their work is needed," he said. "And if they are driven out, then the terrorists win." As the Red Cross assessed its future, Doctors Without Borders said it would reduce its presence in Baghdad.

Marine Gen. Joseph Hoar, a former head of U.S. Central Command, said, "Everyone knows you need more troops over there."



No sex, please -- or we'll audit you


Salon.com Life -- Why are some nonprofit organizations that don't agree with the Bush administration's "abstinence only" philosophy repeatedly investigated by the government, while faith-based groups get a free pass?


Monday, October 27, 2003

Internet Addiction Self-Appraisal Test


Wonder why I was looking here? Besides getting the link from CalPundit?

I was only going to be on one hour, 90 minutes tops today!

Behind Every Bush Bad Idea - Dick Cheney. Last link and that is it for today.



American Buddhists A Dharma Melting Pot


Beliefnet -- You write in the book about the Three Pillars at the heart of Western Buddhism? What are they?

One is mindfulness and the practice of mindfulness. If we’re not mindful, then no insights are possible.

The second is compassion. And I think this is also a theme in all of the Buddhist schools. The Buddha was known as The Compassionate One.

The third is wisdom. That’s enlightenment, which frees the mind.
...
The deepest philosophical issue is the one I mention in the book, and that is the nature of enlightenment and freedom. Is it something that transcends awareness? Is it a state beyond awareness? Or is pure awareness itself freedom? That’s the nutshell question.

Some traditions say awareness itself is a conditioned phenomenon and that ultimate freedom goes beyond even that. The other traditions say pure awareness is freedom.

Not this Dharma.



Hollywood goes down

Salon.com Sex | A spate of new films -- one with girl-next-door Meg Ryan -- depict graphic oral sex scenes. Is the film industry's portrayal of sexuality finally beginning to get real?



Conservatives have added Vermont to their Hell List


What exactly is it about Vermont that moves conservatives to sputtering rage?

Is it because people here are generally tolerant and non-judgmental? Is it because we've put a premium on sustainable development and protecting the environment? Or is it because they're jealous that we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth?

My guess is that conservatives hate us because Vermont is, in the words of economist Thomas Naylor, "smaller, more rural, more democratic, less violent, less commercial, more environmentally friendly, more egalitarian and more independent than most states."



Permits ordered for Palestinians


The Israeli military has ordered thousands of Palestinians living near the steel and concrete "security fence" through the West Bank to obtain special permits to live in their own homes.

Palestinian officials said the order breached a pledge by Israel to the UN security council a fortnight ago that the barrier would not change the legal status of those who live near it, and was another step towards the annexation of tens of thousands of hectares of Palestinian land.



New Basque Self-Government Plan Called Treason


Battle was joined yesterday over what some warned would be the future disintegration of the Spanish state, after the Basque regional premier, Juan José Ibarretxe, formally presented a referendum proposal to convert his troubled region into a "free associate" of Spain.

The so-called "Ibarretxe plan" was denounced as "treason" by the deputy prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, the man chosen to lead prime minister José María Aznar's conservative People's party at next year's general election.

Support for the plan was limited mostly to Basque nationalists and separatists, who jointly won 53% of the Basque vote at regional elections in 2001.



Europeans say U.S. should pay to rebuild Iraq


Two-thirds of European Union citizens think the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was unjustified and the United States should pay to rebuild the country, an opinion poll taken for the European Commission shows.

The survey, taken in all 15 EU member states in the run-up to last week's Iraq donors' conference in Madrid, found that most Europeans want the United Nations and Iraq's provisional government to manage the reconstruction effort, not Washington.

And most oppose sending their own country's troops to keep peace in Iraq, although opinion on that is more evenly divided.

The poll published on Monday showed overwhelming support for EU humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people but a much narrower majority in favour of financial participation in rebuilding the country.





Principles of Economics Age 13


The Thirteen-Year-Old has found Greg Mankiw's Principles of Economics...

"You mean that back before civilization economics was much simpler?" asks the Ten-Year-Old.

"Yes," says the Thirteen-Year-Old. "Back then, Principles of Economics books were really simple. They said: '(1) Find a rock. (2) Throw the rock to kill some small furry creature. (3) Eat the small furry creature.' That was it."

"But then things became more complicated. People invented farming, and some people became peasant farmers who grew the crops."

"And other people became workers who made pots," says the Ten-Year-Old. "And other people became blacksmiths who made spears."

"And," says the Thirteen-Year-Old, "then the people who got the spears told the peasants and the workers to give them half their crop--or else!"

"But," says the Ten-Year-Old, "the peasants and the workers made an alliance with the small furry animals. And then one night while the spear-chuckers were all asleep they raised the banner of revolution!"

"Now wait a minute," I say. The economics I teach is not the Materialist Interpretation of History crossed with the Chronicles of Narnia.




The growing gap between the rich and the poor


Bill Moyers interviews Joe Hough

MOYERS: We've all heard this from economists.

HOUGH: Yes.

MOYERS: And political pundits, and analysts, think tank experts. But we're hearing this from the president of a seminary?

HOUGH: Yeah. You are. And the reason you are is because I think that it's not just a political pundit issue. It's not just a think tank issue. It is a deep and profound theological issue. And it has to do with whether we are faithful to the deepest convictions called for by our faith.

Because the central teaching of Jesus is-announced when he says, from Isaiah 61, "God has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, deliverance to the captives, freedom to the oppressed, and the year of Jubilee." And as you know, the year of Jubilee was the year when land reform was supposed to take place, debts were to be canceled, slaves freed.

Jesus drew from that Jewish tradition, that Covenental tradition, and the obligation to care for the needy. Jesus Christ was a Jew. To his soul, he was a Jew. By the time he was 11 years old, people were absolutely astounded how well he knew the Jewish tradition.

He crafted his message in direct connection to the Jewish tradition, and it was no accident that Luke put Isaiah 61 in Jesus' mouth at Nazareth. "The spirit of God is upon me because God has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." If you go through the Gospel to Luke, the entire theme of Luke is this.



CIA Leak May Violate Patriot Act


Talk Left -- No less an authority than Sam Dash, chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973-74 and a Georgetown University Law Professor, says the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity may violate the Patriot Act. Dash says the leak constitutes an act of domestic terrorism as defined in the legislation. He also questions whether the Justice Department will conduct the same kind of investigation it does in other suspected domestic terrorism cases


The $87 Billion Money Pit


Newsweek -- Iraqis like to point out that after the 1991 war, Saddam restored the badly destroyed electric grid in only three months. Some six months after Bush declared an end to major hostilities, a much more ambitious and costly American effort has yet to get to that point. It is only in recent weeks that the Coalition amped up to the power-generation level that Saddam achieved last March—4,400 megawatts for the country (though it’s since dropped back). True, Saddam didn’t have a guerrilla war to contend with, and his power infrastructure was in much better shape than the Americans found it. But he also had far fewer resources.

Six months ago the administration decided to cut corners on normal bidding procedures and hand over large contracts to defense contractors like Bechtel and Halliburton on a limited-bid or no-bid basis. It bypassed the Iraqis and didn’t worry much about accountability to Congress. The plan was for “blitzkrieg” reconstruction. But by sacrificing accountability for speed, America is not achieving either very well right now. For months no one has seemed to be fully in charge of postwar planning. There has been so little transparency that even at the White House “it was almost —impossible to get a sense of what was happening” on the power problem, says one official privy to the discussions.

Numerous allegations of overspending, favoritism and corruption have surfaced. Halliburton, a major defense contractor once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, has been accused of gouging prices on imported fuel—charging $1.59 a gallon while the Iraqis “get up to speed,” when the Iraqi national oil company says it can now buy it at no more than 98 cents a gallon. (The difference is about $300 million.) Cronies of Iraqi exile leader Ahmad Chalabi, NEWSWEEK has learned, were recently awarded a large chunk of a major contract for mobile telecommunications networks.

Despite L. Paul Bremer’s new push to get contractors to hire Iraqis—”We realized that if they’re not working for us, they’re shooting at us,” one administration official said—the Iraqi Governing Council estimates unemployment is still as high as 75 percent.

Bush should heed the words of a 13-year-old schoolgirl who attends one of those Bechtel-renovated schools, with new equipment supplied by the U.S. government. “In the old days they would have made me carry a bag with Saddam’s face on it,” she told her uncle, an Iraqi translator. “Now they’re making me carry one with an American flag.” The child resents it, her uncle says.



History They Don't Teach You In Schools - Oct. 29th 1956 Israel Attacks Egypt


US later forces Israel, UK, and France to withdraw.

The French-Israel alliance also included French support for Israel building atomic weapons as discussed in The Samson Option, Hersh's account of Israel's nuclear program.




Fleeing To Mexico Instead of Canada


In Rosarito, an hour's drive south of the United States border, about one-quarter of the 55,000 residents are Americans. "An increasing number of Americans are moving here to escape their government's policies and the costs of living," said Herb Kinsey, a Rosarito resident with roots in the United States, Canada and Germany. "They find a higher standard of living and a greater degree of freedom."

At least 600,000 Americans — again, an acknowledged undercount based on government records — are permanent residents of Mexico. That is by far the largest number of United States citizens living in any foreign country.






Troops surviving more wounds in Iraq war


Since the war began in March, 218 U.S. troops have been killed in action and 1,609 wounded by enemy fire, a ratio of 7.38 to one. Many of the wounded would likely have died before the advent of body armor and the new medical practices, experts say.

Because of the way guerrilla fighters are attacking American forces — with rocket-propelled grenades and land mines — some of the injuries have resulted in amputations or other serious injuries, but not death.

The ratio of wounded-to-killed has improved even more since May 1, when President Bush declared major* combat over. As of Thursday, 1,058 U.S. troops had been wounded and 104 killed by enemy fire since May 1, more than 10 wounded to every one killed.

* EL - Memory molding, both the carrier signs and the White House website asserted Combat Was Over. Revised several weeks later in the face of continued casualties. Much as in the reframe of finding the people who endangered Americans and CIA operations quickly changed to stop the leakers. The other major reframe anti-abortion and abortion became pro-life and partial-birth abortion. Another being estate taxes becoming death taxes and on-and-on. GOP has more money for PR research and talking-point coordination.

Note also that Army-Times readers are not particularly supported of re-electing Bush, Dean is even worse, but GW coming in third behind Clark and Edwards? Right now you can vote at the bottom of the page here to push up Dean.



The Liberal Declaration Of Independence From NeoCon Domination


When, in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for our people to impeach the political bands which have imposed us with a pretender, and to re-assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle us, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that we should declare the causes which impel us to this action.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

....

--Such has been the patient sufferance of the Liberal citizens of these Fifty States; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their present Government.

Continues here.




Fight War on Terror by Giving Iraq Back to Iraqis


Rumsfeld's memo about the difficulty of winning the war on terror, leaked to the media last week, brought to mind a clever T-shirt I saw recently. It featured a photo of four armed native Americans along with the words, "Homeland security; fighting terrorism since 1492."

In our obsession with terrorism these days, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that terrorism has been around since time immemorial. And it often comes down to a fight over land — which is what wars are generally fought over, too, with results that are just as horrific for innocent civilians.

Once we strip away the now-debunked U.S. justifications for entering Iraq, what we're left with is an old-fashioned invasion of a foreign country.



Controversial Ecstasy Information Articles


Salon Part 1

Part 2

I don't do drugs, but I support the right of others to reasonably indulge. I sometimes wonder why I don't do drugs. I know a combination of intelligence and common sense has something to do with it.




The Progressive Interview - Jim Hightower


Ditching journalism to return to electoral politics, he twice won public office as agriculture commissioner of Texas in the 1980s. Touted as a potential Senator or more, Hightower lost his bid to be elected ag commissioner a third time after a certain Republican strategist named Karl Rove engaged in some dirty tricks.

Hightower then took to the airwaves, doing a national radio program from the Chat and Chew Café in Austin. Today, he still does radio commentaries that air around the country. In addition, he puts out The Hightower Lowdown, a newsletter with more than 100,000 subscribers.

He's also a best-selling author. His previous books include There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos and If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates. His latest is Thieves in High Places: They've Stolen Our Country and It's Time to Take It Back. (In Thieves, he mentions a telling comment George W. made at a dinner of his fat cat contributors back in 2000. Said Bush: "This is an impressive crowd. The haves and the have-mores. Some call you the elite. I call you my base.")

Interview -

Q: What do you make of the donkeys in the race now?

Hightower: I'm actually encouraged because at least we are having the Democratic flag raised to various heights by most of these candidates. Dennis Kucinich has it at full tilt, all the way up there flying high and proud. Howard Dean, on issues like health care, on the war, on gay and lesbian issues, is right in the President's face and proud to be a Democrat. And he's tapped into something huge, which is this discontent that is searching for some home. The significant thing about the Dean phenomenon is not Dean; it's the phenomenon. And he's being carried by it.

Q: I'm not sure he fully understands it.

Hightower: And I'm not sure, either. But it has carried him forward, and he's adjusting as he rides that wave. He's taking more and more progressive positions. Gephardt's good on a number of issues. John Kerry, I love how he's standing in front of that aircraft carrier when he made his Presidential announcement pointing out that he had actually been on one before, unlike our President. Al Sharpton gets ridiculed and set aside, but he says good things and is saying them well.

At least we're going to have a debate this time. These issues are not going to be shoved down like in past Presidential campaigns. And I do believe that Bush is a one-term President.

Q: Why do you think that?

Hightower: Because in the 2000 election he got every vote he was going to get. He ran against a divided and very weak Democratic Party. He used soft phrases like "compassionate conservative" and "leave no child behind" that appealed to a lot of people. But since then his policies are absolutely nutty, bullgoose loopy, and completely out of the mainstream of what Americans believe. He's now got trouble within his own party: Republican moderates who don't like what he's done in the environmental area, who do not approve of this perpetual war and bloated military budget, Republicans who don't like Ashcroft's attack on civil liberties.



A Radical Disses Clark and Dean


Decades of unremitting right wing assaults on every sphere of American life have so jerked the political landscape to the right that instead of clamoring for sweeping or even revolutionary changes as in days long past, the main battle cry coming from "the left" is "Anybody But Bush."

Long before the first primary, genuinely progressive platforms of Democratic candidates such as Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich have been deemed unrealistic and unworthy of consideration not only by the media, as can be expected, but by liberal activists and advocacy groups who often concede privately that they prefer a Kucinich, Sharpton or Ralph Nader.

And on to the Clark and Dean bashing.

EL - Look, it is clear that Dean and Clark are moderate candidates. Many of their positions would even be called conservative. The secret to their appeal is electability. This is why even strong supporters keep looking at the other candidates. We are the Any Electable Democrat Party. The country might not survive four more years of Bush.



Syria Policy Reveals Neocon Power


Jim Lobe -- In the clamor over Iraq in September was a significant White House appointment that went entirely unnoticed in the U.S. media. The appointment of David Wurmser as Dick Cheney's adviser on the Middle East last month was an ominous sign of the continuing dominance of neoconservatives over George Bush's foreign policy, despite his plunging poll numbers and widespread criticism over Iraq.

With the vice-president increasingly seen as the dominant force shaping U.S. foreign policy – often publicly contradicing his own president's attempts to soften his "axis of evil" rhetoric – Wurmser's new post spells bad news for the Baath-led government of Syria.

Tensions with Syria have been escalating rapidly thanks most recently to the U.S. decision to veto a UN Security Council resolution deploring an Israeli air attack on an alleged Palestinian camp in Syria earlier this month. It was the first attack by Israel on Syrian territory since the 1973 war. The veto coincided with the approval by the House of Representatives of a bill that would impose new economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria.

Washington's one-two punch against President Bashar Assad was precisely what prominent neo-con groups have been calling for since the mid-1990s. Nor could anyone miss the fact that the campaign against Syria is eerily similar to the political offensive launched last year to build the case for war on Iraq. Some of the charges are almost identical: that Syria supports terrorism, is developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and represses its own people. White House leaks this week claimed that Damascus was holding as much as $3 billion for Saddam Hussein some of which, according to unnamed sources, may be used to fund attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.

Washington's emerging Syria policy also highlights the growing convergence between the strategic aims of the Bush administration and Sharon's government, especially now that the U.S. military is directly engaged in military operations in the heart of the Middle East. This foreign policy union is precisely what the U.S. neo-cons and the Likudniks have sought for the past quarter century.


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