Easter Lemming Liberal News

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Focus Grouping Iowa Undecideds


In two consecutive focus groups, Reilly asks about issues that he thinks separate Gephardt from Dean, like health care and trade, but the groups keep bringing the conversation back to tactics and process. They talk about what ''the average person'' would think, as if they themselves fell into some other category. They talk about ''swing states'' and ''527's,'' which are the independent advocacy groups that have sparked controversy recently in the capital. (The ''527'' refers to the section of the tax code that covers them.) The businessman says that Dean seems vulnerable on ''gay issues.''

At one point, a participant dismisses John Edwards's candidacy because ''he isn't polling well.'' This draws knowing nods from other voters seated around the table. Inside the control room, Levine raises an eyebrow at me, as if to say, ''You see what we're up against?'': the voters are telling a pollster that their chief impression of a candidate is that he doesn't poll well.




The Man Who Should be President In Fine Form


The theater, including the balcony, was packed. People had waited in a long line in the cold and snow to pass through metal detectors and be allowed in. The crowd, enthusiastic from the very beginning, included families with small children, elderly men and women and students. When Mr. Gore strode onto the stage he was greeted with a long standing ovation.

At one point, he told his audience: "In preparing this series of speeches, I have noticed a troubling pattern that characterizes the Bush-Cheney administration's approach to almost all issues. In almost every policy area, the administration's consistent goal has been to eliminate any constraints on their exercise of raw power, whether by law, regulation, alliance or treaty. And in the process, they have in each case caused America to be seen by the other nations of the world as showing disdain for the international community."

Amid cheers, he made it clear that the broad interests of the American public are consistently betrayed by the policies and practices of President Bush and his administration. "They devise their policies with as much secrecy as possible," he said, "and in close cooperation with the most powerful special interests that have a monetary stake in what happens. In each case, the public interest is not only ignored, but actively undermined. In each case, they devote considerable attention to a clever strategy of deception that appears designed to prevent the American people from discerning what it is they are actually doing.

"Indeed, they often use Orwellian language to disguise their true purposes. For example, a policy that opens national forests to destructive logging of old-growth trees is labeled Healthy Forest Initiative. A policy that vastly increases the amount of pollution that can be dumped into the air is called the Clear Skies Initiative."

"This is insanity," said Mr. Gore, referring to the administration's handling of the environment. But his speech made it clear that he could just as easily have applied that sentiment to the full range of Bush-Cheney policies. History will not be kind to the chicanery that passes for governing in the Bush II administration.

Bob Herbert NY Times



Drudge using elispses as weapons


Drudge is using the ellipse as a weapon, with malice aforethought.

Clark's statement that "Saddam Hussein is a threat" came from his opening remarks to the committee. An ellipse then carries the reader more than 11,500 words later into the transcript to a second quotation. Finally, Drudge uses the next ellipse to jump way back to the beginning of Clark's testimony. The effect is to make Clark's testimony sound more frantic than it really is and to incorrectly suggest that Clark had endorsed the war.

The deceptive reporting continues with two final excerpts. The first is drawn from a section in which Clark states that the use of force must remain on the table as a threat, but that all diplomatic measures must be taken before military action proceeds. Drudge's selective excerpt ends with Clark suggesting that the situation with Iraq has "been a decade in the making. It needs to be dealt with and the clock is ticking on this."

Drudge would like you to think that Clark's thoughts on the subject end there. In fact, only moments later, Clark clearly stated, "but time is on our side in the near term and we should use it."

Then Drudge leads into the final excerpt with the words, "Clark explained," implying that Clark's statements in the final excerpt modified his statements in the previous excerpt. Once again, however, Drudge is cavalierly skipping through Clark's testimony: There are 3,798 words in-between these two statements -- enough to fill four pages of Time magazine.

This follows similar misleading quotes from Slate and the next day the charges were everywhere and only late that day and next day did corrections appear in some places. This started in the GOP echo chamber and now will forever be repeated despite the basis in facts as the main organs of the chamber never run the retractions. Or even if they do they conveniently forget them as needed.



Momentum Turning Again to Dean?


Howard Dean's faltering campaign is hitting its stride again Saturday just when he needs it to in the last weekend before the Iowa caucuses.

The audiences were smaller, the applause warm bit not ecstatic in recent days. But on Friday, the candidate and his audiences took fire again, right where he needed them to, in the heart of Dick Gephardt country in north central Iowa.

It started Friday when Dean campaigned in the United Auto Workers stronghold of Newton, former Democratic Rep. Dave Nagel told United Press International.

"All of a sudden, the place erupts," Nagel said.

And it continued in Mason City Saturday. Dean organizers expected about 200 people for their first morning event at a shopping mall. But they got twice that. It was standing room only and packed to the seams. And when Dean lit into President George W. Bush and gave his stock stump speech the waves of applause rolled back at him.

"This should be Gephardt country," Nagel said." All of a sudden, the momentum's back with him."



Kerry Going Stealth Negative Caught on Film


"The person who made the call is a young volunteer whose remarks were not authorized or condoned by this campaign," Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said in a statement. "It's a terrible mistake for a young person to make, and he is apologizing to the person he called. While we appreciate his support, we have asked him to leave the campaign."

But the Dean campaign said it was under the impression that the call did not represent just one over-zealous volunteer speaking extemporaneously. Rather, the campaign said in the last day it had heard of Kerry campaign calls to at least five other Iowans reading from what it said sounded like a very similar script.

ABCNEWS has spoken to another Iowa Dean supporter, Susan Alexander, who said she received a phone call on the same night as Astley, which sounded like it came from the same script.

A third Iowan, Dick Alexander, told ABCNEWS he received a phone call about two weeks ago from an organization claiming to be a polling firm unaffiliated with any candidate, in which pro-Kerry and anti-Dean information was conveyed.

The Alexander call, should it have happened, would meet the definition of a "push poll" — a call purportedly from an objective polling firm that actually seeks to "push" voters away from candidates by spreading negative information about them.

el - ABCNEWS still going for the negative but this time not after Dean.




The Case For Howard Dean


TNR - Howard Cohn - The Moral Center

When Dean became governor in 1991, Vermont had a $65 million deficit and New England's lowest bond rating. Arguing that such conditions would starve the state of its ability to help citizens in need and scare away employers, Dean made responsible fiscal management his first order of business, reducing spending and taxes. This allowed him to eliminate the deficit within three years and then build up a rainy-day fund. Today, Vermont has New England's highest bond rating. And, virtually alone among states, it has avoided draconian cuts in its social programs--by tapping Dean's surpluses.

Those results haven't always mollified Dean's critics on the left, who wanted him to be less accommodating to big business and less thrifty with the state's money. But Dean was just as headstrong when it came to pursuing the goals he did share with liberals--expanding health insurance and social services for low-income children. Under Dean, Vermont plowed money into its Medicaid program, broadening eligibility to include working families--families too poor to afford insurance but too well-off to qualify for assistance under the old Medicaid guidelines. As a result, nearly every child in Vermont now has health insurance. A less well-known--but in many ways more innovative--policy triumph of the Dean years was the enactment of "Success by Six." That program offers the parents of newborns home visits from local social workers, who can advise on everything from what you should feed your baby to whom you call if you think you qualify for government assistance. Nine in ten Vermont parents opt for the visits, and state officials say the program helps identify problem cases--like cases of physical abuse--in their early stages.

These successes are why no less an authority than Bill Clinton has said, "Nobody did a better job on health care than [Dean] did as governor of Vermont." Implicit in that quote is what really set Dean apart as a governor: Not only does he have the right priorities; he has the right character. In 1991, it would have been far easier to let Vermont's Democrat-controlled legislature run wild with spending, as it had in the past. But, despite having virtually no political capital to spend--as lieutenant governor, he'd inherited the governorship after his Republican predecessor died--Dean held firm on fiscal policy and won. Similarly, after Dean tried and failed to enact a sweeping health care reform along the lines of what Clinton had proposed for the nation, it would have been far easier to give up and concentrate on narrow, easy-to-pass measures like HMO reform. Instead, Dean kept pursuing universal coverage through incremental expansions.



What Do Conservatives Hate - Campaigns Promoting Tolerance


Posters in Macedonia depicting gays and lesbians as real people are the target of the National Review and other conservative organizations. Why are they bothered about Macedonia?

Kerri Houston of Frontiers of Freedom noted, "I remember looking at it and thinking, 'I would hate for my kids to see this; what in the world is this doing in this conservative country?'"

A picture is included.

As you can see, Houston wasn't outraged at a graphic depiction of gay sex, rather, she objected to the portrayal of gays and lesbians as tenderly affectionate human beings.




Insider Volunteer Look at Iowa and the Dean Ads


The campaign is pretty organized, no doubt

The campaign is going mostly scriptless, and in fact they expect and instruct volunteers to "speak from the heart" about why they are supporting Dean and why they came from Wherever USA to do so - a better approach, indeed, than programming people, like robots, to regurgitate fixed, hollow messages.


Meanwhile, the media angle today out here is that Gephardt and Dean have pledged to take off their negative TV ads. Some think they did it because the ads were backfiring in the face of Edwards and Kerry gaining by remaining positive. I suspect that that is true. I saw the Dean ad several times - it is not harsh, but it makes the point about Gephardt (especially) and Kerry and Edwards supporting the war. My view is this: Forget the squabbling about who is and isn't going negative. The ad backfires anyway. Why? Because, by now, most people who are supporting Dean because he opposed the war are already "ones" in the hard count, no?



The Myth of the Democratic Establishment


The absence of a true Democratic establishment is the central fact not only of the current presidential contest, but also of the last three years of Beltway politics.

Democrats not only lack control of the White House and either chamber of Congress, they don't even have strong party institutions to fall back on.

The Democrats also lack the kind of idea factories which, in the absence of controlling any branch of government, are vital to helping parties formulate policy and strategy.

And while Beltway Republicans can count on the likes of the The Washington Times and the FOX News Channel to function as de facto party organs, the Democrats have no such relationship with the mainstream media. NPR has a liberal temperament but, to say the least, lacks a Rush Limbaugh-like taste for political warfare. And The Washington Post, once the liberal Beltway media's high command, if anything now reflects a center-right perspective. The paper's editorial page, having spent the Clinton years hyperventilating about Whitewater, opined that Enron's White House contacts weren't worth a congressional investigation and strongly supported the war in Iraq.

Even as out-of-power Democrats act like establishmentarians, the city's ascendant GOP ruling class retain the instincts of revolutionaries. For three years, Democratic voters and activists across the country have watched the Republican Party assail, with seeming impunity, everything they hold dear.

Dean and his movement have risen up to do battle against an establishment that doesn't really exist--which is why he will almost certainly be the next Democratic nominee. "Dean's people are motivated, they're coherent and cohesive," says one Democratic insider. "They're giving him money hand over fist. And he can just knock over this Potemkin village."

Without an apparatus to build consensus around effective message, strategy, or policy, the Democrats spent the first two years of the Bush administration, in the midst of a recession, without an economic plan.

The plan which in retrospect made the most tactical and substance sense--massive, short-term cuts for the middle class, financed by payroll-tax reductions--was promoted by some party leaders, including former Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich. But without a mechanism for dragging other Democrats on board, the party was left without a national economic message to campaign on.

Dean's supporters love him because, unlike everyone else in those endless debates, he's not tainted by association with the hapless Washington establishment.

Should Dean win both the nomination and, next fall, the presidency, he will face a massive, motivated, well-funded Republican establishment that will work every day to defeat his agenda, no matter how liberal or centrist it is. As disorganized as they are, Beltway Democrats still constitute a valuable reservoir of talent, experience, and money. Without a rebuilt, robust Democratic counter-establishment, Dean will be a monumental failure as president. Howard Dean needs the Washington Democrats, in other words, as much as they need him.




After Taking On Dean's Wife Maureen Dowd Is Gunning For Dean


I sent an email to her asking why the New York Times seemed hostile to Dean's wife avoiding the spotlight when they praised it for Mrs. Bush. She appears not to see a difference in their coverage.

"no one has treated her harshly.
they're just pointing out the obvious: that's she's not your usual spouse
of a pol, for better or worse.

At 04:39 PM 1/15/04 -0600, you wrote:
>Dear Maureen Dowd,
>
>What accounts for your newspaper's glowing accounts of Mrs. Bush avoiding
>publicity and declining to be a typical politician's wife with the harsh
>treatment of Mrs. Dean?"

Today Druge reports she has a nasty column tomorrow on Dean after he missed a 5-minute phone appointment with her.





Muck Discovered on Mars!


Scientists are puzzled about a patch of soil near the Mars rover Spirit lander that they now call "Magic Carpet". The intrigue has been stirred up by how soil behaved when the lander’s airbags scraped across the martian soil. That soil appears to have been peeled away.

"If it looks like muck, and it puddles like muck, and it tracks like muck -- it must be muck."



State of the Union Speech ScoreCard


TOMPAINE.com offers a scorecard for the SOU. Check to see if Bush will Spin, Avoid or be Accurate on the Six Big Issues.


Friday, January 16, 2004

Margaret Cho Loves Her Hate Mailers


Comedian Margaret Cho was attacked on the Drudge Show and at the Free Republic for supporting MoveOn.org and got an outpouring of hate email.

She posted them on this site, saying "I thought it important to publish each letter the way it was received as I didn't want to be accused of fabrication. Please do not harass these people."

They are now begging her to take their emails down. I also might suggest a civil discourse with these people but I don't think I would use an email address that you cared about.



Supreme Court Screws Dems Again - One-Party Rule


Supreme Court says it will not block Texas Republican redistricting plan The Supreme Court refused Friday to block a hard-fought Republican redistricting plan in Texas that could cost Democrats as many as six seats in Congress.

The justices will announce later this year whether they will consider an appeal from congressional Democrats and others who claim the map dilutes minority voting strength. In the meantime, they rejected an emergency appeal that sought to stop the state from using the new boundaries in this year's elections.

America as a One-Party State

The federal courts, which have slowed some executive-branch efforts to destroy liberties, will be a complete rubber stamp if the right wins one more presidential election.

el - this Kuttner article also takes on DeLays's change in House rules so he has undemocratic power.

DeLay has elevated votes on these rules {prohibiting debate and amendments] into rigid tests of party loyalty, on a par with election of the speaker. A Republican House member who votes against a rule structuring floor debate will lose committee assignments and campaign funds, and can expect DeLay to sponsor a primary opponent.

But didn't the Democrats commit the same abuses during their 40-year House majority? Basically, no.

The country may be narrowly divided, but precious few citizens can make their votes for Congress count. A slender majority, defying gravity (and democracy), is producing not moderation but a shift to the extremes.

We've seen divided government before, with a Democratic president and a fiercely partisan Republican Congress. It is not pretty. But it is much more attractive than a one-party state.

Benjamin Franklin, leaving the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, was asked by a bystander what kind of government the Founders had bestowed. "A republic," he famously replied, "if you can keep it." There have been moments in American history when we kept our republic only by the slenderest of margins. This year is one of those times.



Loony Tunes From Fruitcake Land


Religious Freedom Coalition Chairman William J. Murray sent an e-mail to supporters on Wednesday voicing his reservations about Dean as a candidate because his lack of religious faith has made him mentally unstable. He then imagines a scenario where Bush dies before the election and many Americans realize that Cheney wants his daughter to have a gay wedding in the White House so they vote for unstable Dean.

This passes for serious discourse at GOPUSA.





Plame Game Update


Valerie Plame affair special council isn't so special. Calling Fitzgerald a "special counsel" is false advertising as the statute requires the special council be someone outside of the government, not someone who works for the Attorney General.



Media Whores Online


Nails the Wall Street Journal and CNN today for outrageous behavior. Lou Dobbs was particularly galling after he had banned Clark from his show for criticizing the war now he calls him a liar for falsely saying he criticized the war!



Leave No Rich Person Behind


Molly Ivins -- My long-reigning favorite Bushism has now been edged out by a fresh contender I cannot resist. The old fave goes back to Oct. 4, 2001, when Bush, still trying to reassure a shaky nation, said, "We need to counter the shockwave of the evildoer by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by thinking about tax rebates."

Her new Bushism: "Haven't we already given money to rich people? Why are we going to do it again?"

The news that Bush & Co. wanted to invade Iraq from Day One does not surprise -- Bill Clinton has been telling a similar story for some time about his meeting with Bush on Inauguration Day, 2001. It is the, "So what?" reaction that needs to be addressed.

We learn that there are no weapons of mass destruction, and the Bushes reply, "So what?" We learn there never was a connection between Sadism Hussein and Al Qaeda, and the Bushes say, "So what?" It matters because we need to understand how we got into the mess we're in, so we won't get ourselves into another one.

There has to be some recognition of how seriously we were misled. If one then wants to argue that invading Iraq was worth doing anyway, fine -- but it must be acknowledged that it was done on false premises.



'Who Gets It?'


Earlier this week, Wesley Clark had some strong words about the state of the nation. "I think we're at risk with our democracy," he said. "I think we're dealing with the most closed, imperialistic, nastiest administration in living memory. They even put Richard Nixon to shame."

In other words, the general gets it: he understands that America is facing what Kevin Phillips, in his remarkable new book, "American Dynasty," calls a "Machiavellian moment." Among other things, this tells us that General Clark and Howard Dean, whatever they may say in the heat of the nomination fight, are on the same side of the great Democratic divide.

The real division in the race for the Democratic nomination is between those who are willing to question not just the policies but also the honesty and the motives of the people running our country, and those who aren't.

What makes Mr. Dean seem radical aren't his policy positions but his willingness — shared, we now know, by General Clark — to take a hard line against the Bush administration.

Finally, any Democrat has to expect not just severely slanted coverage from the fair and balanced Republican media, but asymmetric treatment even from the mainstream media. For example, some have said that the intense scrutiny of Mr. Dean's Vermont record is what every governor who runs for president faces. No, it isn't. I've looked at press coverage of questions surrounding Mr. Bush's tenure in Austin, like the investment of state university funds with Republican donors; he got a free pass during the 2000 campaign.

el - Krugman gets it. Why Clark is coming up fast in the polls.



Gore Calls Bush a 'Moral Coward'


"While President Bush likes to project an image of strength and courage, the truth is that, in the presence of his large financial contributors, he is a moral coward -- so weak that he seldom if ever says 'no' to them on anything -- no matter what the public interest might mandate," Gore said.

"The problem is that our world is now confronting a five-alarm fire that calls for bold moral and political leadership from the United States," he added, in a speech in New York sponsored by the political advocacy groups MoveOn.org and Environment2004.




Kerry and Edwards Surging in "Too Close To Call" Iowa


A Research 2000 survey released Thursday, showed Dean at 22 percent, followed by Kerry at 21 percent and Gephardt and Edwards at 18 percent.

Zogby Poll shows Kerry 24, Dean and Gephardt 19, Edwards 17.
Link to Washington Post story.

Every candidate is putting everything they can into this, for all but Dean there is a sense of do or die. Ads and resources and favors and people have pored into Iowa like never before. I am guessing the cost that candidates are spending per vote now is almost $100. In the old days, and they might do it this time again, they would hit the bars right before the meetings and say how about a bottle if you vote for this guy. It seems like it would be cheaper.

Terry Neal dispatches from Iowa - Today, a new study conducted by the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs suggests that "Dean has been getting worse press than the rest of the Democratic field," but stops short of blaming media bias.

"People are getting turned off by the negativity of the sniping between Gephardt and Dean. [el - I would put an and here.] As the large number of undecided Iowans are finally starting to make up their minds, they're going to Kerry and Edwards, rather than Dean or Gephardt."

From the Media Study - NBC Hardest On Democrats ? Nearly two out of every three on-air descriptions of the Democratic candidates were positive on ABC (64% positive) and CBS (63% positive), while NBC painted a more negative picture of the candidates in 2003 (46% positive assessments).

Extremely harsh article about Dean's electability by John Harris in the Washington Post. By the words he uses, not words people interviewed use, and the consistent tone it belongs on the editorial page

Democratic Insiders Pick Howard Dean in Iowa, "followed by Dick Gephardt and then a photo finish between John Edwards and John Kerry."

For the overall Democratic Presidential nomination battle, Dean, with Clark second.



Bush Trying To Sell Black Voters,


Interesting photograph of Bush on Thursday

Bush was in the South trying to sell his policies to black voters.

What did you think I meant?

They weren't buying. He had a large crowd of protestors at Martin Luther King's grave. His protest demonstration control team broke down and they were audible while he was speaking.


Thursday, January 15, 2004

Rice and Ashcroft Sang Hymns While Assassination Plans Reviewed!


True and surreal and ironic and pathetic and mind-boggling and...

A two-day crisis meeting of Mr Bush's senior advisers had finally wound up. The President had gone to bed.

Across the room, the National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was singing hymns, accompanied on the piano by the Christian fundamentalist Attorney-General, John Ashcroft.

Leafing through the CIA documents, Mr O'Neill was astonished to read plans for covert assassinations around the globe designed to remove opponents of the US Government. The plans had virtually no civilian checks and balances.

"What I was thinking is, 'I hope the President really reads this carefully', Mr O'Neill said. "It's kind of his job. You can't forfeit this much responsibility to unelected individuals. But I knew he wouldn't."

Mr O'Neill's account of that famous cabinet meeting is just one of many surreal episodes he recalls from his two-year tenure as Mr Bush's top economic official in The Price of Loyalty, the controversial new book by a former Wall Street Journal reporter, Ron Suskind. But there are many similar moments in the 328-page book on Mr O'Neill published on Tuesday with the subtitle: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill.

Democrats.com also speculates that FCC Chairman Powell is attacking Bono for his support of O'Neill.






Bush Demands For Iraq Disarmament Were Only Pretext For War


Richard Haass, Powell's head of policy planning, resigned when it became clear that Bush demands for Iraqi disarmament were only a pretext for war.

Haass, now head of the Council on Foreign Relations, calls Iraq a war of "choice," not "necessity." He recounts a meeting with NSC director Condoleezza Rice in July 2002, two months before Iraq hit the headlines and three months before Bush went to the U.N. Security Council putatively to seek a resolution on Iraqi disarmament.

Also - The total number of post-conflict U.S. combat casualties in Germany was zero. In Iraq, that number is, so far, 357. Some comparison.

from Atrios.




Bush Space Plans Criticized


The Washington Post estimated the project will cost at least $170 billion over the next 16 years. A discussion with Dr. John H. Gibbons about the foolishness of the plan.

Among the private companies that will benefit from the space program may include Halliburton and Shell Oil. According to a 2001 article in Petroleum News, NASA has been working with Halliburton, Shell, Baker-Hughes and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in identifying drilling technologies on Mars. Democracy Now audio available here.

$120 billion just for the Moon, controversial to say the least. Mixed reaction in Florida and in Houston. Some JSC employees warn funding inadequate.

el - Bush will only additionally fund $1 billion for five years over current NASA budget. Is there something wrong with this picture?



Profile of a Warblogger


Lileks went off, wildly assuming what The Arab Street thought of the event, giving Saddam a psychological profile from thousands of miles away (his imperial Joyce Brothers bit), and projecting his "ironic" Oh, isn't the U.S. just awful! routine on those who opposed the invasion. Because, you see, only a rabid America Hater could find something wrong with Bush's war.



Iraqi's Plan Islamic Law for Woman


Iraq's Governing Council on Wednesday defended its approval of a controversial family law that would make it possible to apply Islamic law - Sharia - instead of civil statute in domestic matters such as inheritance and divorce.

Women's groups say the new law will abolish the previous civil law on families, which had been applied since 1959, and devolve family law to sectarian religious courts.



Is General Clark Karl Rove's Nightmare?


Karl Rove had a bad moment here the other night. It came as Wesley Clark was speaking to a packed hotel ballroom, when the retired general derided the president of the United States for what was supposed to be his supreme, cinematic moment: landing on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. "I don't think it's patriotic to dress up in a flight suit and prance around," Clark bellowed. The men had been separated from the boys.

For Clark, it was a monster evening. His campaign raised upward of $300,000, and the once-stiff speaker brought his audience out of their chairs several times. He was forceful and occasionally eloquent. But what really mattered was that Clark was prepared to go at President Bush in the one area where he once seemed unassailable: his leadership as a wartime president.

At the fundraiser here, Clark stood before a huge American flag like George C. Scott in "Patton." And when he talked about Bush and the war in Iraq, it was not as some Democrat who could be caricatured as a peacenik, but as a warrior who felt that the president had fought the wrong war at the wrong time -- and then pranced all over a flight deck reserved for Clark's genuine heroes, "the men and women who serve."



Gore - Bush a "Moral Coward" on Environment"


Former Vice President Al Gore on Thursday blasted President Bush as a "moral coward," saying he abandoned the public interest to accommodate his financial contributors.

Gore, in a speech before a full house at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan, said it sometimes appeared that "the Bush-Cheney administration is wholly owned by the coal, oil, utility and mining industries."



Zell Miller - Dem's Benedict Arnold


Senator Miller used colorful language sum up special interest fundraising, saying it made left him “feeling like a cheap prostitute who’d had a busy day.”

Senator Miller wrote a scathing critique of the pay-to-play system of financing campaigns in a February 25, 2001, opinion piece that appeared in both the Washington Post and the Savannah Morning News. The op-ed can be found on Senator Miller’s official website here.

“We want to remind Senator Miller of his own words regarding fundraising and the negative impact that special interest money has on the political process,” said David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch. “As he introduces Bush tonight at this special interest fundraising event that’s likely to raise millions, let him reflect on his words: ‘Most large contributors only understand two things: what you can do for them or what you can do to them.’

“So why is he raising money for the most excessive special interest-driven campaign in American history?” asked Donnelly.

Campaign Money Watch is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to holding elected officials accountable for special favors they do for their big money contributors.



Creative Class War: How the GOP is Ruining America's Economy


Peter Jackson as an example of American outsourcing.

Peter Jackson's power play hasn't been mentioned by any of the current candidates running for president. Yet the loss of U.S. jobs to overseas competitors is shaping up to be one of the defining issues of the 2004 campaign. And for good reason. Voters are seeing not just a decline in manufacturing jobs, but also the outsourcing of hundreds of thousands of white-collar brain jobs--everything from software coders to financial analysts for investment banks. These were supposed to be the "safe" jobs, for which high school guidance counselors steered the children of blue-collar workers into college to avoid their parents' fate.

If there is any candidate who speaks for the creative class right now, it is Howard Dean.
His educated, tech-savvy supporters and grass-roots, non-hierarchal campaign structure perfectly represent the creative economy. Yet his economic message has so far focused on luring swing-state unionists--criticizing Bush, for instance, for not extending steel tariffs.

America must not only stop making dumb mistakes, like starting trade wars with Europe and China; it must also put in place new policies that enhance our creative economy. Here, too, neither party quite gets it. Most of the Democratic candidates for president have rightly sounded the alarm about rising college-tuition costs and offered ideas to expand college access. That's well and good, but we need to think far, far bigger. Our research universities are immigrant magnets, the Ellis Islands of the 21st century.

As president, Bush chose a group of senior advisors whose economic backgrounds have a century-old flavor. His vice president is an oil man. His treasury secretary, John Snow, is a railroad man. The White House's economic and fiscal policies have been similarly designed to provide life support for these aging red-state industries: $190 billion in subsidies for farmers; tariffs for steel; subsidies, tax breaks, and regulatory relief for logging, mining, coal, and natural gas. Even Bush's tax policy shows the same old-economy preference. His dividend tax cut was supported by mainstream, blue-chip companies, which stood to gain, but opposed by high-tech executives, whose company stocks seldom pay dividends.

Thanks to the GOP takeover of Washington, and the harsh realities of the Big Sort, economically lagging parts of the country now wield ultimate political power, while the creative centers--source of most of America's economic growth--have virtually none.

The challenge for the GOP, if it wants to avoid running the economy into the ground, is to stop sneering at the elites, the better to win votes in their base, and to start paying attention to economic policies that might lift all boats. The challenge for Democrats, if they want to win, is to find ways of reaching out to the rest of the country, to convince at least some of its many regions that policies which operate to the interests of the creative class are in their interests as well.





NYTimes has a Strange Profile on Dean's Wife


With an unflattering picture and concern about her uninvolvement in Dean's campaign. Four years ago the media was praising Bush's wife for staying out of the spotlight. People noticed the bias, except for their columnist Maureen Dowd.



Defender of the Free World

Mother Jones Librarian story
Librarian Trina Magi stands up to the Patriot Act


"It's one of the basics of librarianship, to respect privacy," says Gail Weymouth, chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Vermont Library Association, "to understand that what people read isn't necessarily what they believe, and to give them the ability to come in and find information without any chilling effect."

The fear of that chill -- the possibility that people will not explore questions because of how that might look to the authorities -- has turned Magi into an anti-Section 215 crusader.

In truth, librarians are hardly the only people alarmed by the Patriot Act, which has sparked a groundswell of ideologically diverse opposition. Yet it is the foursquare defiance found in libraries that seems to have nettled the Bush administration most, as suggested by John Ashcroft's rebuke last fall that the nation's librarians have fallen prey to "baseless hysteria."

Magi, in the meantime, is still talking to anyone who will listen about Section 215.



U.S. Asks Muslims Why It is Unloved Indonesians Reply


In a SF mailing list I am on someone said that the perception that the United States is perceived as a bully around the world is a Media lie.

I replied with "Why let a few billion people stand in the way when you can criticize the media" and used the Pew Global Attitudes Survey (136 page pdf) which used 66,000 people in 49 nations as my reply.

I could have also used a Council on Foreign Relations report which concluded that anti-Americanism was so severe it was "endangering our national security and compromising the effectiveness of our diplomacy."

Or even the idiots in Congress that suspended the State Department's international public relations work until a team headed by a Rice University professor examined ways to stop the rising tide of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world. The team got an earful from Indonesia.



WHEN PAUL O’NEILL SOUNDS LIKE TIP O’NEILL


Arianna Huffington: The Ultimate Insider

The picture of a White House teeming with fanatics gets even clearer with O'Neill's depiction of the Bush brain trust's dogged devotion to cutting taxes for the wealthy.

And, before I go any further, one word of advice to the White House attack dogs now unleashed on O'Neill: If you want to belittle his bona fides, you've got to come up with something better than saying "We didn't listen to him when he was here. Why should we now?" Let's get real. Is there anyone more central to developing economic policy than the Treasury Secretary? To be any more inside, O'Neill would have to have been George Bush's proctologist.

Now, of course, they're painting him out to be a cross between Jerry Garcia, Karl Marx and the disgruntled former employee who just shot up your local post office. Yeah, what an anti-establishment wackjob: former CEO of Alcoa, and a friend of Don Rumsfeld's since the sixties.

It's a measure of how effectively the GOP radicals have framed the political debate, with taxes as the root of all evil, that Paul O'Neill, a bedrock-ribbed establishment Republican, comes across like Tip O'Neill.

Hell, it turns out even President Bush had his doubts about the virtue of following his first round of serve-the-rich tax cuts with a heaping second helping. "Haven't we already given money to rich people?" Bush asks at a 2002 meeting of his economic team. "Shouldn't we be giving money to the middle?"

This momentary bout of presidential scruples was quickly cured by Karl Rove. "Stick to principle. Stick to principle. Don't waver," he urged Bush repeatedly. The principle, I suppose, being: "If we wanna win in 2004 we gotta keep our Pioneers and Rangers happy!"

Will this be the wakeup call that finally opens the American public's eyes to the deadly consequences of being governed by a disengaged dolt in the hands of a gang of brazen fanatics?



I Didn't Leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party Left Me.


Republicans For Dean: Originally I bought the spin on Howard Dean as some sort of lefty-left pacifist liberal. Then I decided to check for myself. Howard Dean is a lot of things but a flaming liberal he is not. I like balanced budgets and a tight fiscal hand. Dean is nothing if not tight. Have you seen his suits?

I also found that Dean is not a pacifist. I could never support a pacifist even if I do believe in Christ's instructions to turn the other cheek. Dean supported the war in Afghanistan and the first Gulf War. He just didn't support the Iraq War because it took resources away from the hunt for the real bad guys.

My conclusion after looking into Dr. Dean is that he is actually what used to pass for a moderate Republican. I like moderate Republicans. I thought George Bush was one. I was a fool. I won't be fooled again.

el - I am glad to see recovering Republicans and conservatives. I would also be glad if more Greens and Libertarians worked within the Democratic party.



Late Night/Early Morning Political News


Ann Richards to endorse Dean

Howard Dean As Ronald Reagan?

Michael Moore is endorsing Clark.
I should point out Moore endorsed Nader too and he doesn't like Dean's gun stance.

Dean and Wife in People Magazine

Sen. Kennedy Says Bush Broke Faith With The American People Over Iraq For Political Purposes

New ABC Dean Smear From Clinton Smear Veteran Producer

US Health Advisors Call For Universal Health Care by 2010.
"Taxpayers are paying for 43 million uninsured Americans anyway -- and footing a much bigger bill than they would if those people had decent health care."

Daschle: Bush Sending Seniors Medicare Propaganda

Republican Senate Rigging Another On-Line Poll
. First they slant the question, then change the question and then just reverse where the results go. Sen. Frist did the same thing a couple months ago.

Latest Iowa Poll - Dean 24%, Kerry and Gep at 21%, Edwards 15%. The way I see this everyone can claim victory but Gephardt if the poll reflects reality Monday. My current prediction Dean 30, Kerry 25, Gephardt 25, Edwards 20. Who will Clark and Lieberman supporters vote for, if they vote at all, is the big question


Wednesday, January 14, 2004


Lots of poll movements in last few days


See here for Political Wire. Media and opponent criticism of Dean having an effect. Clark main one benefiting with a big move up in New Hampshire and other states. As Daily Kos says this is getting exciting.



Bush - Return to the Moon by 2015 - 2020


Over 90% funded for next five years by killing other NASA programs. Bush uses the "I am an idiot and know nothing of science argument" that launching spacecraft from the Moon will be cheaper than launching them from Earth. Duh, if you first have to send them to the Moon first it is much more expensive. His program is much too cheap to build them on the Moon.




What are you doing as the oil runs out? Endgame in Civilization


Bush and Cheney seem to have a plan.

There is a whole African initiative, specifically a West African initiative by this administration. It is not really related to terrorists.

This White House attention to Africa may have had some influence on the commitment of money for Africa HIV/AIDS. Although half the money was already there in existing programs and Bush later budgeted only 2/3rds of what he promised, that still leaves an over 30% increase. Like the Marshall Plan this AIDS plan also benefits American companies who have to produce the drugs. Those are big GOP contributors so it is another win for Bush. Some of the biggest fights have been over countries wanting to purchase cheaper non-American generics. The Bush government supports the American companies just say no to cheap drugs position.

Why is this administration interested in Africa? Hands up if you believe it is out of the goodness of their hearts

Still on the mouse I see. Would you believe OIL?

Yes, West Africa is set to become the next big energy producer. Bush and Cheney are extremely aware that world oil production has been declining since 2000 and only one new barrel has been added to known reserves for every nine used for the past 25 years. Like Iraq, the region gives a chance to play world cop and chase terrorists while also chasing oil deals.

To say Iraq was only about the oil is inaccurate. To say it was a prime strategic consideration is dead on.

This seems related to the computer game Civilization (Amazon -$9.95). In this real life example, America has won both a cultural and military world domination victory but some people just aren't satisfied. They want a more definitive military victory, which coincidently means more power and money for them. Democracy happens to be a bad form of government to pursue war aims so you see moves toward trying to place limits on Democracy. In the game switching to Monarchy, Republic, Despotism, Communism (really call it Stateism, there hasn't been a real Communist state) would be called for to continue wars. The new expansion adds Fascism and Feudalism and others you can create (Amazon $29.99 - ouch, it was just on sale for $9.99). Since we have already won shouldn't we let all the American people reap the benefits? Bush and Cheney stress the fact there are bad guys still out there, lets arm some more and chase them down. In the game that means smarter countries reap the benefits while we get to play soldier. With us bogged down in wars that make citizens unhappy, Europe or Asia might score a diplomatic victory or win on points - having the most happy citizens.

Further reading on the Bush family's four generations of involvement in the oil, intelligence, government, and military business can be found in major Republican strategist Kevin Phillips' book - "American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush."

If both Iraq and West Africa are about the oil what about the other world trouble spots? The world has been amazed at Bush tough talking but continued backing down in North Korea. Simple, no oil. Iran doesn't have much oil but is at a strategic location to influence countries that do. Our support for the former Soviet Mid-Asian dictatorships - oil and gas. Pursuing good relations with Mexico - oil and Mexican American votes. Afghanistan - pipelines. Where have we already sponsored a coup attempt - Venezuela, lots of oil. Based on this record it seems there could be oil discoveries in Cuba but the pressure there is probably a plan for Cuban American votes. Columbia was on the administration military plans but hasn't happened - is there not enough oil?



Africa looks at world politics


Star - All set for year of riveting politics

American voters go to the polls in November and the outcome will to a large extent shape our world. The US is the only superpower left standing, and under Mr Bush it has decided to be the world's assertive policeman as well.

O'Neill likens Bush's cabinet meetings to "a blind man in a room full of deaf people". Ronald Reagan was known to take a good nap at cabinet meetings. And decisions wouldn't be taken until his wife, Nancy, had consulted her astrologer in California. Bush is in good company.

But unlike his father, the mood of the American voter right now suits Bush.

Iraq is a winner for him. Saddam's capture is the icing on the cake. The American public is - to borrow from Tony Leon's arsenal - gatvol. Their fiery mood right now is to lash out, and they don't care who catches the flak. Somebody - anybody - has to pay for September 11. They have the might to give anybody a good going-over.

When Bush says, "you're either with us or against us", he knows and everybody knows, he has the military power to back up such a mantra. If Iraq stays relatively quiet and the economy emerges from its trough, Bush should not have a problem seeing off the opposition. But too many balls are still up in the air right now. Many people around the world will pray he trips up, because another term of Bush at the helm is just too ghastly to contemplate.

el - American politics are world politics now.




PNAC Signers Diagramed


Ugga-bugga reviews a diagram of the project for a New American Century signers while laughing at David Brooks trying to sell it as liberals when they say neo they mean Jew and this is all a conspiracy theory.



Iraqis Upset About Death Of Young Man


It is claimed that an American patrol made the young drivers of a truck transporting toilet seats hop in a river where one drowned. The American patrol later smashed the truck.

From Healing Iraq, one of several Iraqi blogs - here and further down here.



Off to Iowa to Support Dean


And... I'm off. I usually pack pretty lightly, one bag for clothes, one for books & random extras. This time around, I'm deeply ashamed to be bringing with me a *third* bag. The unprecedented third bag contains a -20 degree certified sleeping bag (squished into its compression sack until it screamed for mercy), a hefty Marmot vest (which I got for nearly zip thanks to a tip off on where to get second hand sporting goods cheap), and an amount of warm clothing that would be absurd if I didn't expect days where I'll be wearing upwards of eight garments, not counting the footgear.

If you'd told me a year ago that I'd be purposely traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire in the middle of winter, I wouldn't have dignified you with a reply. And yet, god willing, here I go.

el - I seem to recall natasha being a Kucinich supporter at first.



Where Is The Outrage? - Report Concludes America Was Lied To


The Carnegie report says that Bush administration officials misrepresented Iraq's threat in three specific ways.

First, they lumped together the threat posed by nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, even though there was no serious evidence of nuclear weapons.

Second, they told the American public that Saddam Hussein would give WMD to terrorists, for which there was no evidence.

Third, administration officials omitted "caveats, probabilities and expressions of uncertainty present in intelligence assessments" from their public statements.

In other words, officials used a "worse case" scenario that was not based on actual intelligence.

In early 2002, according to the Carnegie report, the U.S. intelligence community possessed an accurate assessment of Iraq's weapons programs. Soon afterward, a "dramatic shift" occurred as "the intelligence community began to be unduly influenced by policy-makers' views." This change coincided with the creation of a separate intelligence unit, the Office of Special Plans, in the Pentagon.

The Carnegie report -- a serious indictment of the Bush administration's credibility -- instantly became the lead story on the British Broadcasting Corporation report and front-page news in newspapers around the world.

Not so in the United States



Dean Wins D.C. Primary, Sharpton 2nd


Howard Dean won the first vote of the 2004 presidential campaign season on Tuesday - Washington, D.C.'s non-binding primary - although it was more of a voting rights rally than a chance to express a preference for a candidate.

The former Vermont governor won with 43 percent of the votes. The Rev. Al Sharpton received 34 percent of the vote, with former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois third at 12 percent, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, fourth at 8 percent.



Jimmy Carter to Offer Support, Not Endorsement, for Dean


Former President Jimmy Carter will offer support for Democratic White House hopeful Howard Dean in a joint appearance in Georgia on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, campaign aides said on Tuesday.

Carter was expected to remain officially neutral, but words of praise could help boost the former Vermont governor's chances when the race turns to the South on Feb. 3.

Carter predicted late last year that Dean's chances in Iowa and New Hampshire, which holds its primary on Jan. 27, looked "quite, quite good." Carter's son, Chip, is supporting and helping the Dean campaign.

"My overwhelming desire ... is to help the candidate that, in the last stages, maybe even of the primary, I think will do the best job in defeating George Bush in November," Carter said in an appearance on the CNN program "Larry King Live."



O'Neill V. Bush and other Media Buzz


"Mr. O'Neill was a fish out of water in the Bush administration. Time magazine reports that he considered himself, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman and Secretary of State Colin Powell to be 'three beleaguered souls ... who shared a more nonideological approach [but] were used for window dressing.' Mr. O'Neill tells Ron Suskind, the author of a new book that tells Mr. O'Neill's side of his tour at Treasury, that the three moderates 'may have been there, in large part, as cover' for the administration's conservative agenda.

"'I'm going after everybody because I'm tired of being the pin cushion,' said Dean, who had been leaving the attacks to his advisers but abruptly abandoned that front-runner stance to join the increasingly bitter fray. The former Vermont governor, fighting to translate a narrow lead in the polls into a momentum-building win in Monday's caucuses, fell back on the issue that fueled his improbable rise to prominence -- his outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq and his condemnation of fellow Democrats who backed the administration's policy."

"It took until 2001 for Vermont to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday as a full-fledged holiday and shut state offices in his honor - and only after the state Legislature forced then-Gov. Howard Dean to cut a deal with state unions, records show."

And the context of his all-white Cabinets in Montpelier: "The 2000 Census found Vermont has 608,827 people and just one-half of 1 percent are black and nearly 1 percent Asian."

Now that The New Republic has run one official Democratic endorsement (for Lieberman) and four dissents, the gang is fighting with each other. Here's Jonathan Chait:

"I think the Democratic Party would have to be crazy to nominate Joe Lieberman for president."
Finally, anyone who thinks it doesn't matter what the candidates wear should check out this Denver Post column by Diane Carman:

"I don't know what's come over me. Suddenly I just can't take my eyes off General Wesley Clark. I mean, since he started wearing argyle sweaters and corduroy pants, yum!"

Note to self: Plan shopping spree to rectify lack of argyle sweaters.


- Blogging By Howard Kurtz



Why Dean Needs To Win Big Now


If the former Vermont governor doesn't overwhelm his opponents in Iowa and New Hampshire, some analysts say, he may face a long, draining campaign fight.

el - Why I love Salon.com, three good articles among dozens - hundreds if you check the archives.




Move-On has a Winning Ad


An extensive digest from Salon.com News | A simple, poetic indictment

The commercial that triumphed over more than 1,000 other entries -- and that will run 30 times on CNN during the week of Bush's State of the Union address, and possibly during the Super Bowl as well -- was a subtle, elegiac and nearly wordless indictment of the burden Bush is shunting onto future generations with his deficits. It was made by Charlie Fisher, a 38-year-old advertising executive and father of two from Denver, a fiscal conservative who was a registered Republican until 1992.

Over a minor-key acoustic guitar tune, Fisher's "Child's Pay" spot shows a series of stoic, worn-looking American children laboring at low-wage adult jobs -- a boy washes dishes, a girl in a baggy pink maid's uniform cleans a hallway, another works in a factory. It ends with white words on a black screen: "Guess who's going to pay off President Bush's $1 trillion deficit?"

Outrage, or at least a campaign-season facsimile of it, erupted when it emerged that two of the more than 1,000 entries that MoveOn posted compared Bush to Hitler, prompting a round of GOP fulminations and talk show bloviations.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer introduced a segment on the incident by calling it a "huge, huge controversy." The Drudge Report ran breathless headlines about each new development.

The winning animated spot, "What I've Been Up To," features a cartoon Bush giving a rundown of his achievements. "For starters," he says, "I turned the strongest economy in history into the biggest deficit in history ... I invaded two countries, made a joke of the United Nations ... and still managed to take the most vacations of any president in history!"

Al Franken presented the awards for funniest ad to Christopher Fink, who made "If Parents Acted Like Bush," in which the father, "George," leaves his daughter behind when she needs a ride to school, barges in on her in the bathroom, charges a motorcycle to her and cheats on her mother ("I know it's not Mom, but it's OK! She's rich!").

When a French TV reporter introduced himself to Al Franken, who just returned from visiting troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the comedian replied with real sincerity, "Thank you for your help in Afghanistan. I was just in Afghanistan. The commander there said the French paratroopers are the best he's ever seen."

Before the show Moore insisted, "The people do not support George Bush." He enjoys decent approval ratings in Middle America, Moore said, because people don't like to criticize the commander in chief when their sons and daughters are at war, "but that doesn't mean people like him or his policies."

If that's true, then progressives don't have much to worry about. Yet they are worried, and the anxiety encompasses their fellow citizens as well as their government. One ad finalist featured a man in bed pulling the cover over his eyes and hitting the snooze alarm every time his clock radio woke him with news of Bush's depredations. Ewy, winner of the best youth ad award, acknowledged that there was much enthusiastic support for Bush where he comes from, caused by "misunderstanding due to disinformation."

Given that, it's a relief that MoveOn's judges and members both chose "Child's Pay." It doesn't capture the anger and outrage of urbanites made to feel like exiles in their own country, and it doesn't attack Bush personally, no matter how richly earned such attacks may be. Its tone is one of deep disappointment and fear that tomorrow's Americans will find their options dramatically diminished. It seems like it could resonate even among people who think "sushi-eating" is an insult and Bush a decent man.


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

American Jews Would Back Democrat Over Bush


American Jews would overwhelmingly back any of the top Democrats in the presidential race over President George W. Bush if the election were held today, according to a poll published recently.

The 2004 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion concluded that Sen. Joe Lieberman would defeat Bush by the largest margin, 71 percent to 24 percent. Lieberman is the only Jewish candidate.

In one-on-one matchups with the president, Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri each would receive about 60 percent of the Jewish vote, compared with about 30 percent for Bush.

The GOP has been reaching out to Jewish voters, and while 16 percent now consider themselves Republicans, more than half are Democrats.



Dixie A Trap for Democrats in Presidential Race


According to Velasquez and Cobble, “re-defeating George W. Bush in 2004 hinges on holding blue states on both coasts, making gains in the Midwest from West Virginia through Ohio to Missouri and adding New Hampshire -- and registering and mobilizing massive numbers of Latino voters in the Southwest and Florida.” They conclude: “Mobilizing the fast-rising Southwestern Latino population around the same progressive economic issues that can also unite poor whites and African-Americans is the ticket to ride in 2004.”

The notion of carrying several Southern states is often encouraged by media pundits eager for a more “moderate” Democratic standard bearer. But the Dixie trip is a dead end. And a fixation on the conservative sensibilities of white Southerners is apt to tilt the ticket away from the kind of political message that could resonate sufficiently elsewhere to mean victory.



Clark surges into the lead in 2-person Arizona race


Clark beats Dean in Ariz. poll | The Arizona Daily Star ®

The latest Eyewitness News 4/Arizona Daily Star poll shows the retired Army general marched past Howard Dean to command the support of 39 percent of state voters. Dean, former governor of Vermont, has the backing of 32 percent
.

The nearest challenger is Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, with 8 percent. Sen John Kerry of Massachusetts has 5 percent.

"Gen. Clark has spent a lot of time on television in the last few weeks and we haven't," Dean said. "We have a great organization in Arizona. We have the help of (U.S. Rep.) Raúl Grijalva, who has a tremendous organization in Southern Arizona. We think we'll be very competitive - in fact we're going to do everything we can to try and win Arizona."

Mark Riddle, the director of Clark's Arizona campaign, said momentum has been building here since late December, when Clark visited Kino Community Hospital. The poll, he said, "shows Arizona is a two-person race."

Arizona is certainly a priority for Clark. He sent his son, Wesley Clark Jr., to Tucson on Saturday to open his Southern Arizona campaign office. His wife, Gert, was in Green Valley on Monday. And Clark will likely return to the state after the Jan. 27 New Hampshire primary, Riddle said.



An Open Letter to Paul Bremer Giving Advice Based on Civ 3


First, quell the resisters! Install a military force with strong units such as the Knight, Pikeman, or Hoplite. If you have not created a Barracks in Baghdad, I suggest doing that, too. Subsequent military units built there will begin as Veterans. (We don't want Regular Swordsmen going into Tikrit, do we? I didn't think so.) Obviously you should Fortify (Ctrl-F) your forces if you haven't done so already.

Secondly, because the U.S. is a Democracy (or Republic maybe), the number of happy citizens is going to be greatly reduced when you're fighting a drawn out foreign war. From experience, I would suggest switching back to Despotism for a few turns (years). People under Despotism are less likely to be upset about war.



The Lies for War Unravel


t r u t h o u t - William Rivers Pitt | The Lies for War Unravel

el - Pitt discovers Air Force Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski whose articles I have linked to before.

Back in August of 2003, Kwiatkowski wrote, "What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and discipline. If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of 'intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Saddam (Hussein) occupation (in Iraq) has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense." She described the work of the OSP in particular as, "a subversion of constitutional limits on executive power and a co-optation through deceit of a large segment of the Congress". Kwiatkowski claims, in short, that a decision to go to war had been made long before, and that these men at the OSP were fashioning justifications for that decision on the fly, and despite overwhelming evidence to suggest that war was not necessary.

The American people were told that Iraq posed a direct threat to the United States because of its massive stores of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Those stores included, according to the White House, 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 1,000,000 pounds of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agents, 30,000 munitions to deliver them, and a production line that would rapidly deliver nuclear weapons enriched with African uranium. Because of the "sinister nexus between Iraq and al Qaeda," as stated by Colin Powell before the United Nations on February 5, war was required immediately because those weapons could be delivered to terrorists for use against us.

Still, we were told, George W. Bush would work with the international community on the matter. We were told that war would be the choice of last resort. Reasonable people are running the show in Washington, we were assured, and no one is going to barnstorm into battle unless it is absolutely necessary. The Bush administration drafted Resolution 1441 on the matter of invading Iraq for the United Nations, and put the words "weapons inspectors" into the document. Those two words were the reason 1441 received unanimous consent from the Security Council.

Now, ten months and 500 dead American soldiers later, we have the truth.



US Public Not Buying Bush Space Plans


President Bush's plan to build a space station on the moon and eventually send astronauts to Mars hasn't grabbed the public's imagination, an Associated Press poll suggests.

More than half in the poll said it would be better to spend the money on domestic programs rather than on space research.

Asked whether they favored the United States expanding the space program the way Bush proposes, people were evenly split, with 48 percent favoring the idea and the same number opposing it,

Some have suggested that space exploration could be expanded more inexpensively using robots instead of human astronauts to explore the moon or other planets. The AP-Ipsos poll indicated that option was popular, with 57 percent favoring exploring the moon and Mars with robots and 38 percent saying humans.

Despite the mixed response about the moon-Mars proposal, general support for space exploration remains strong.



Howard Fineman Grand Inquisitor - Dean suspected heretic


The media's increasingly negative coverage of former Vermont governor Howard Dean's presidential campaign reached a nadir of sorts last week, when Newsweek's cover package featured an interview that essentially cast reporter Howard Fineman as grand inquisitor and Dean as suspected heretic.

After five straight questions about Iraq and the war on terrorism, Fineman asks Dean, out of nowhere, "Do you see Jesus Christ as the son of God and believe in him as the route to salvation and eternal life?"

Dean, belying his reputation for having a hot temper, gives a low-key reply: "I certainly see him as the son of God. I think whether I'm saved or not is not gonna be up to me."




Where Will You Be After the Oil Crash?


Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. This is not the wacky conclusion of a religious cult, but rather the result of diligent analysis sourced by hard data and the scientists who study global “Peak Oil” and related geo-political events. The situation is so dire that even George W. Bush's Energy Adviser, Matthew Simmons, has acknowledged that "the situation is desperate. This is the world's biggest serious question."




For Us, The Living RAH!


John Clute: Everything about this novel is interesting, even the experience of reading it.

For Us, the Living: A Comedy of Customs was written in 1938-1939; it is Robert A. Heinlein's first extended piece of fiction, and was never published because in 1939 it was not simply unsold: It was probably unpublishable.

Over the 20th century, didactic novels of a utopian bent had been increasingly perceived as unmarketable (dystopias like Huxley's Brave New World [1932] or Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four [1949] do very much better); but more specifically, For Us, the Living promulgates the kind of arguments about sex, religion, politics and economics that normally gain publication through fringe presses, not the trade publishers Heinlein submitted his manuscript to, Random House and Macmillan (which did all the same publish B.F. Skinner's Walden Two in 1948).

For us, though, in 2004, For Us, the Living, as far as its arguments go, is pure Heinlein; indeed, because almost every radical notion he ever generated appears here in utero, the book rewrites our sense of Heinlein's entire career; and because Heinlein's career, as we understood it, has always seemed expressive of the nature of American SF from 1939 to 1966, this small, slightly stumblebum first novel rewrites our understanding of those years, especially the early ones, when John W. Campbell Jr. was attempting to shape the nascent genre into a weapon of future-purification.

el - I finished reading it in long long stretch and it is fantastic.

How do I like it?

Spider Robinson and John Clute rave reviews did not praise it enough!

It was not published in 1939 because of its style, although there are some clunky spots.

I think it could not be published in 1939 because of its advocacy of social changes that he could finally do starting with 1960's 'Stranger in a Strange Land.' It could not be published because of it's picture of a future history so at variance with conventional wisdom and it's call for radical change in democracy, banking, sexual mores, religion, education, criminology, the right to privacy, and the list goes on.

The afterword is the first time I have seen in print anywhere some of the details it has of Heinlein's life.

The influence of the book is more seminal than Heinlein's novels in the 40's and 50's.

The basic story of the book takes place because someone in 2083 was conducting experiments in ESP for this Sanctuary Council. During this his mind leaves his body and he doesn't come back. The body is stored and in 2086 Perry Nelson, a man who dies in 1939 wakes up in this body. There is a further hint much later that Perry has moved over from an alternate world. This is directly related to Heinlein's last books involving time and dimension hoping in his "Worlds as Myth," his theory that universes are created by the act of imagining them.

John Clute says the world of science fiction and our world would be much different and better if this had been published in 1939. I would agree.

My perspective, I have read everything Heinlein published available today and am a social libertarian and an economic liberal.

If you want to get some real liberal thinking go back to the 1939 Robert Heinlein.

My remarks posted on Electrolite comments as well.



Employment Declines of a Magnitude Not Seen Since 1944-45


SG comments on Economist Brad DeLong's Blog - scroll down

Free trade, as advocated and practiced to date, has always held the promise of job flight as companies race to the wage bottom. Robert Reich promised that we wouldn't miss those nasty, dangerous blue-collar jobs as we all retrained to be manipulators of symbols and ideas. Then it turned out that Indian and Chinese programmers could manipulate symbols and ideas just as well, and for a tenth the price!

Now economists will have us retraining endlessly, hoping to hold our lives together until all those new job categories (bed-pan attendant, burger-flipper) bubble up from our new economy. Don't worry, it will all sort out somewhere down the line, and your great-grandchildren will enjoy wage parity with Chinese workers. In the meantime, we can get cheap sweaters, electronics and MRI readings! And isn't it swell that the entrepreneurs that are organizing all that offshoring are getting rich!

I propose the dissolution of the traditional college campus. Why pay tens of thousands annually to send your children for overpriced instruction from tenured economics professors when they can learn the same nonsense at a tenth the price from Indian economists over the internet?

It is past time to re-examine the assumptions that are the foundation of the free-trade religion that passes for science in the academic community.



IRAQI TERRORIST PRODUCTIVITY IS RISING!


The right lauds the 22% drop in attacks, the left notes the increase in dead and wounded. But what both sides ignore, is if there are less attacks and more casualties, that means there is a gain in productivity



Edwards has some momentum in Iowa


Dean 25, Gephardt 23, Kerry 14, Edwards 13.

Dean led among the very liberal, independents, young voters, the college educated and singles, while Gephardt led among union households, those with less than a college education and lower income voters.

The survey also found growth for Edwards, who gained strength during the course of the three days and earned the endorsement of the state's largest newspaper, the Des Moines Register, on Sunday.

"Edwards has picked up a lot of steam each night," Zogby said.

el - some uninformed thoughts - Edwards has an advantage of becoming a popular second choice if one candidate doesn't get the 15% threshold in a location. The other three candidates haven't been attacked much by Edwards who has run an interesting positive campaign. There was an exception in a recent debate where Edwards attacked Kerry of all people.

There has been some talk of using cell phones to trade votes in different locations - 'Gephardt can't win here, let's support Kerry or Edwards. I'll call and see if a Kerry or Edwards coordinator will do the same in another location.'




Zinni Was Right - Washington Post Tried To Bury Story


There are two questions. Why now? And, how will we do this, in what way? I would just ask that if we are going to commit to this and if we are going to accept that there is a threat, we don't need to know the details and maybe that's classified enough that because of the sources we can not know. But, be clear. I want everybody that votes for this, that decides we should go, to stand up for this; I will back them if they tell me it's time to go. And, I want in the aftermath for them not to wait 30 years later to write a book about why it went wrong. I want them to stand up to the risk and the damage, and I want them to be honest to the American people and to our allies about the risks.

Now I am part of this administration, maybe not tomorrow, but I am part of this administration and I voted for it, but that gives me the right to hold it accountable. And you know what? It's painful to do this, and it's painful to ask the questions. And, I pray if we take this action, that I am dead-ass wrong. I pray for that because I want to be wrong if we take this action. I want Saddam gone, but I want to pick the time and the way that's smart and makes sense."

September 10, 2002

el - that was my sentiment, we should get rid of Saddam but not in that illegal, ignoble, totally wrong way that would likely make the world worse.




Krugman - O'Neill Speaks The Awful Truth


The Awful Truth People are saying terrible things about George Bush. They say that his officials weren't sincere about pledges to balance the budget. They say that the planning for an invasion of Iraq began seven months before 9/11, that there was never any good evidence that Iraq was a threat and that the war actually undermined the fight against terrorism.

But these irrational Bush haters are body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freaks who should go back where they came from: the executive offices of Alcoa, and the halls of the Army War College.

The question is whether this book will open the eyes of those who think that anyone who criticizes the tax cuts is a wild-eyed leftist, and that anyone who says the administration hyped the threat from Iraq is a conspiracy theorist.

The point is that the credentials of the critics just keep getting better. How can Howard Dean's assertion that the capture of Saddam hasn't made us safer be dismissed as bizarre, when a report published by the Army War College says that the war in Iraq was a "detour" that undermined the fight against terror? How can charges by Wesley Clark and others that the administration was looking for an excuse to invade Iraq be dismissed as paranoid in the light of Mr. O'Neill's revelations?



New Labour, British version of the DLC, Attacks Dean


New Labour allies of Tony Blair are becoming alarmed at the prospect of a Howard Dean US presidential candidacy, fearing it will create formidable tensions in the traditional transatlantic Democrat-Labour alliance.

Downing Street's leading advisers have long-standing links with Clintonite Democrats on the Democratic leadership council (DLC).

This party organisation has become increasingly strident in warning that a Dean campaign based on an angry attack on President Bush will fail.



Sunday Talkshow Breakdown


Despite trying to minimize the O'Neill story it was a bad day for Bush, for Dem candidates other than Dean and for [current Treasury Secretary] Snow.

Over at ABC’s This Week, Snow won the prize for Best Bald-faced Delusional Spin:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You said [in October] that:

“Everything we know about economics indicates that the sort of economic growth expected for next year, 3.8 to four percent, will translate into two million new jobs from the third quarter of this year to the third quarter of next year.

“That’s an average of about 200,000 new jobs a month.”

But when you look at the third quarter of this year, it’s only about a third of that: 100,000 in October, 43,000 in November, only 1,000 in December.

And even last February, the president’s advisers said the tax cuts are going to create 510,000 new jobs this year.

And instead we’ve lost 74,000.

Why didn’t the president’s tax cut create these jobs you promised?

SNOW: Well George, we’re in a good recovery…

[I'd] Hate to see a bad recovery.

el - I will point out out that by the administration's own figures each $40,000 a year job was going to cost taxpayers $500,000. Instead because the jobs haven't come in as expected they are costing over $2.5 million.




US and Venezuala War of Words


Following a week of tense exchanges with Washington, President Hugo Chavez on Saturday said American officials should not "stick their noses'' in Venezuela's affairs.

U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Friday that Chavez should show "that he believes in democratic processes'' by allowing the recall referendum on his rule to take place.

The comments followed a week of back-and-forth comments that began when U.S. officials accused Venezuela and Cuba of cooperating to undermine democratic governments in the region.

On Saturday, Chavez said the United States was wrong to comment on Venezuela's internal affairs.

"It is not up to them to stick their noses here in Venezuela,'' Chavez said. "What occurs in Venezuela only concerns Venezuelans.''

"Venezuela is a free, sovereign and independent country,'' said Chavez, one of Latin America's most outspoken critics of the Bush administration's foreign policy.

el - This administration had plans for Venezuela and Colombia but 9/11 got in their way.



What a Load Of Bush Bull


He didn't free the slaves.

He didn't rid the world of Hitler.

He didn't even - like his father - [help] preside over the destruction of the Berlin Wall.

Yet George W. Bush tells New Yorker writer Ken Auletta: "No President has ever done more for human rights than I have."

With stunners like that, no wonder he spends so little time with journalists.



Dem Party in tatters as it is needed most


While the conservatives were strategizing on how to take over the Republican party and created a mission and strategy to get everyone march to the same tune, the Democratic institutions were fragmenting and stripped of any connection with their base. With the diminishment of the unions as an organizing, activist force, the party became more of fundraising arm and more enthralled with big money donors whose interests were often more inline with the business interests rather than the interests of the little guy. As Confessore points out, that the business interests gave money to the Democrats was totally dependent on the Democrats being in power. Today, there is no reason for the business interests to donate to the Democrats and now that funding source has dried up. What survives now is a shell of a mighty party which is starting to realize their situation. (Unfortunately for us, this couldn't come at a worse time as the need to break the conservative control on the levers of power is critical if we are to have a future that works for the majority of Americans.)

What can be done? Confessore believes that the Dean movement is an answer to revitalize the Democratic party. As all the old institutional strength has withered away, the Dean campaign has found new ways to revitalize and reengage people. Despite the drying up of the old donor base, they've tapped a new one based on hundreds of thousands of individuals. And although many of those donors are from the professional class, there are thousands of members of the working class as well as the unemployed or barely employed who are also giving to the Dean campaign. This year it will no longer be true that the Republicans raise more from small donors than the Democrats, which was certainly the case in 2000.

The Dean campaign is not only raising funds from new sources, but also providing energy and coordinated action that leads to a long term committed and active base that can be the basis of revitalizing the Democratic party. As Joshua Bassett, one of dKos' posters, said, the Dean campaign is not just trying to elect their guy, they are building a community.

Other progressives have not been waiting for the Democratic party to lead, but have been actively organizing to make a real stand against the Republican juggernaut. Moveon.org was one of the first to really harness the power of the internet to rally support. Their effectiveness can be seen in the attacks they have drawn from the RNC. Moveon has harnessed the energy of millions of small donors and although they are yet to show their clout in getting voters to the polls this year, during the lead-up to the war last year, they effectively rallied millions of their supporters in the anti-war rallies and the candle light vigils.

The passion and energy pouring into the 2004 campaign is a welcome sign, but it is essential that these groups find ways to complement and reinforce each other. An effective Democratic party can help make this happen.

From the new group blog - The American Street


Monday, January 12, 2004

In-House Audit Shows Wal-Mart Violated Labor Laws 75,000 times a week


An internal audit now under court seal warned top executives at Wal-Mart Stores three years ago that employee records at 128 stores pointed to extensive violations of child-labor laws and state regulations requiring time for breaks and meals.

The audit of one week's time-clock records for roughly 25,000 employees found 1,371 instances in which minors apparently worked too late at night, worked during school hours or worked too many hours in a day. It also found 60,767 apparent instances of workers not taking breaks, and 15,705 apparent instances of employees working through meal times.

Wal-Mart's response - employees are no longer to punch out for breaks.

John Fraser, who ran the federal Labor Department's wage and hour division during the 1990's, called the sheer volume of apparent violations surprising and troubling. "When you find the frequency of this kind of violation in such a large employer, such a pervasive employer, it has to be a source of great concern."


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