Saturday, November 30, 2002

P.L.A. - A Journal of Politics, Law and Autism -- Autism -- And The Hits Just Keep On Coming. PLA blogs about this administration asking courts to seal records that Eli Lilly wants sealed.
UK Independent News -- Bush giving loggers and polluters free rein

New moves by the Bush administration to lift regulations on logging companies and big industrial polluters have been denounced by environmentalists, who say an unprecedented assault is being made on 30 years of legislation protecting America's forests, water, air and seashores.

Two low-key announcements in the past week, appar-ently timed to minimise media coverage, have removed environment-friendly provisions from the Clean Air Act and from rules governing the management of specially designated national forests.

The White House has also given tacit approval to the incursion of oil prospectors and mining companies in a number of national parks. Oil and gas drilling has already started in one previously protected area, the Padre Island National Seashore in south-west Texas, and is likely to be approved soon in other parks in Ohio, Texas and Louisiana.

Unless it is to get votes right before an election the Bush policy is to rape the environment. In his PR he is smarter than Reagan, usually letting others in his administration take the actions, but in practice he is worse.
Unqualified Offerings blogs about useful advice to Republicans to get Libertarian support.
Scoop: Chris Floyd: Slouching Toward Tyranny

We've said it before, and we'll keep on saying it: A country whose leader has the power to imprison any citizen, on his order alone, and hold them indefinitely, in military custody, without access to the courts, without a lawyer, without any charges, their fate determined solely by the leader's arbitrary whim -- that country is a tyranny, not a democracy, not a republic, not a union of free citizens...

Now, it may be that it is still a tyranny in utero, a rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem -- or in this case, Washington -- to be born, and not yet the full-blown monster, fangs bared and back plated with bristling armored scales. But the tyranny has been conceived, it's taken root in the womb, gained definite form and is clawing, tearing its way toward the light. President George W. Bush openly claims that he now holds this power of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. His minions defend it with earnest arguments. They have already begun acting on its dictatorial tenets. If this claim is not rejected by the other two branches of government -- an unlikely event, with both branches now held by Bush partisans -- then the fundamental liberty of every American citizen will have been stripped away finally and completely. Henceforth, liberty is not the inalienable right of the citizen, but a privilege granted -- or not -- by an autocratic government.

I have been protesting the Imperial tendencies of this administration since I became aware of them.

Scoop: UQ: Rosenbaum’s Penile Prose Vs Vidal’s Triumph

Fisking Rosenbaum's attack on Vidal's criticism of Bush.
Capital Games -- Kissinger's Back...As 9/11 Truth-Seeker for Bush

Asking Henry Kissinger to investigate government malfeasance or nonfeasance is akin to asking Slobodan Milosevic to investigate war crimes. Pretty damn akin, since Kissinger has been accused, with cause, of engaging in war crimes of his own.

The Online Beat - Kissinger? Kissinger?

With the selection of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to head the 10-member commission, Bush has signaled that he is more interested in covering for the intelligence establishment – and the administration's allies in corrupt oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia -- than in getting to the truth.

Even by the relatively low standards that one must apply when dealing with former Nixon administration insiders, Kissinger is a reprehensible figure. As Britain's Guardian newspaper put it: "This man is regarded by many outside the US as a war criminal."

Informed heat about Kissinger's selection.
''Who is Khidhir Hamza?''

'''Saddam's bombmaker' is full of lies''

Two articles in Yellow Times documenting the man known on TV and the press as "Iraq's atomic bombmaker" is a CIA operative who briefly headed the Iraq atomic weapons department in 1987.

He stayed away from the reactor and uranium because he has a phobia about it. His latest statement that Iraq is 3 years away from atomic weapons contradicts his previous statements. -- ''Manufacturing the news: a report on Thomas Friedman''

Mistakes, attacks, bias.
ZNet -- Why Venezuela's Middle Class (for the most part) Opposes Chavez

Article on what is happening in Venezuala, the corporate press plays a large part in the opposition to Chavez, the right is refusing to play by democratic rules, the middle-class has been harmed by some Chavez policies and sees no benefits, and everyone is forced to choose sides.

Sick of Poverty and Corruption, Latin America is Turning Left

The success of Gutierrez [in Ecuador] fits into what is now a clear pattern in Latin American politics. It follows the landslide victory of Lula da Silva in Brazil, which was also based on a platform of battling inequality. In March, Argentina goes to the polls and the current frontrunner is Adolfo Rodriguez Saa, another populist who has challenged the authority of the IMF and the rule of the market. And it coincides with recent advances for the left in Bolivia and Peru.

The most explosive countries are clearly Venezuela, where the radical [populist] Chavez faces opposition from all sides, including parts of the military, and Argentina, where popular discontent with free market policies grows sharper every day.

The CIA and military intelligence agencies have already started beefing up the Latin American bureaus to overturn these new populist Axis of Evil states. Argentina is the biggest failure for the American capitalist system as they followed all of the American supported programs and saw their economy fall apart.

TIME - Margaret Carlson - Louisiana's I-Love-George Contest

I think Texas and Georgia show this is not the way to run as a Democrat. It does help that Landrieu introduced a bill to reduce payroll taxes making this too close to call.
NYTimes -- A Capitol Hill Mystery: Who Aided Drug Maker?

The Republicans aided Eli Lilly, but no one will take credit for putting their interests over parents sueing over autism.
Bush Family Dipping Into Security Pie

The Bush family businesses - security and oil.
Molly Ivins = OP Gifts: Payback Not Patriotism

OK, Republicans, justify this. I want to hear your explanations for why the Republican leadership went against the will of 318 members to grant an unconscionable gift to corporations that set up offshore tax shelters to avoid paying their U.S. taxes. Come on, Rush, I really want to hear this one--and do, please, include the word "patriotism."

Citizens for Tax Justice says the offshore tax-shelter dodge costs this country as much as $50 billion annually. This amendment was not to shut down the loophole--though Lord knows that needs to be done. It was to prevent rewarding these financial traitors with government contracts.

The other special provisions tucked in the bill to reward other big Republican contributors are almost as disgusting. I must admit that the amendment protecting the Eli Lilly Co. from future lawsuits is a fine example of really fast service for a contributor. It was just a few weeks ago that The New York Times ran the first serious look at Thimerosal, the vaccine preservative that may be related to autism, and--wham, bam--no problem for the Lilly company. (And don't give me that bull about how it's just an arbitration panel, parents can still sue, yaddda, yadda, yadda. The purpose of that stinking amendment could not possibly be clearer. The Lilly Co. bought itself a very nice piece of legislation indeed.)

It's one thing to pass this special interest legislation. It's another to call it "patriotism." That could gag a maggot.

Bush Limits Federal Pay Increase to 3.1 Percent (

In a letter addressed to congressional leaders, Bush said "full statutory civilian pay increases in 2003 would interfere with our nation's ability to pursue the war on terrorism."

Giving 1% more pay interferes how? There are more Democratic federal workers than Republicans and you can't trust Democrats with money?
NYTimes -- Mandate for the Middle -- Senator JAMES M. JEFFORDS
Conservatives Dispute Bush Portrayal of Islam as Peaceful (

A a large number of foreign policy hawks -- some of them with advisory roles in the Bush administration -- have joined religious conservatives in taking issue with Bush's characterizations. While most of them understand the political rationale for Bush's statements -- there's no benefit in antagonizing Muslim allies such as Pakistan and Indonesia -- they say the claim is dishonest and destined to fail.

In fact, Americans see themselves as increasingly tolerant despite the harsh words from conservatives. In an Ipsos-Reid poll this month, 56 percent of Americans said they had become more likely over the past year to respect cultures that do not share their values, while only 27 percent said they found it harder to have such respect.

Neo-cons are trying to turn this into a West versus Islam war. So is Osama bin Laden.
IHT -- Figuring the costs of war against Saddam

Pro-Bush article saying a quick victorious strike against Saddam might be cheaper than doing nothing. It ends by pushing the false anything is better than the "mad dictator with nuclear weapons" line.

The Consortium -- Richard Milhous W. Bush

George W. Bush is fast building a political system of secrecy and snooping that Richard Milhous Nixon would have died for. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Bush has asserted broad powers to wiretap, spy on and imprison indefinitely people he deems a threat to national security – authority far beyond what was available to the famously paranoid Nixon.

Bush’s executive powers are already so sweeping they may be unprecedented in U.S. history. While some of Bush’s supporters cite prior suspensions of constitutional rights during the Civil War and World War II, those eras lacked today’s technology to pry into the most personal details of the lives of Americans.

When Nixon was president, opposition Democrats held the congressional levers that permitted investigations into Nixon's domestic spying. The national news media also approached its duties with far more professionalism. The federal courts, too, were less partisan and less likely to rubber-stamp White House assertions of national security.

Now, with all those checks and balances either gone or substantially weakened, there is little to interfere with Bush's consolidation of power or a return to Nixon-style abuses.

Attorney General Ashcroft testified to Congress last December that those who object to "phantoms of lost liberty" only serve to "aid terrorists – for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve." According to Ashcroft, those who question the administration's policies "give ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends."

Some peace activists already find themselves blacklisted by federal agencies from flying on commercial airlines. Others say they are singled out for special searches and delays.

The machinery is quickly being moved into place for a crackdown on those Americans whom Bush may judge to be not with him and thus with the terrorists.

The Village Voice: Richard Goldstein: Cheap Lay The Myth of the Gay-Friendly GOP

The gay activist take on Republicans courting rich gays outside the South.

Houston Press - MARGARET DOWNING -- Wake-Up Call
The TAKS field test results were so gawd-awful they may become a catalyst for good

Only 2 percent of fifth-grade students who take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills science test in Spanish will pass it. Ninety-eight percent will fail.

There's better news in third-grade reading in English. Seventy-seven percent would pass there. Still, 23 percent would fail, and if they don't pass on their second and third tries, they will not be promoted to fourth grade

The state has gone from a minimal skills test -- though for years its proponents denied that TAAS was minimal anything (EL - Hah!, the latest version of TAAS was so easy some students classified as retarded could pass it) -- to the more comprehensive TAKS, requiring higher-level thinking skills, longer essays and knowledge of a wider range of material. TAKS is set by the state -- not an individual teacher customizing her own final exam to match the material she was able to cover during the year. Science and social studies will be added to the 11th-grade exit test for the first time.

Teachers teaching to the slowest students in class, required under TAAS, now have no clue to teaching toward more comprehensive testing while they are still being measured by how many students pass. When is the public going to start looking at the 49% drop-out rate? This has been expanding under the TAAS testing, partly as getting the kid out of school improves the principals pass score.
FL heraldtribune -- Project takes a step toward Big Brother

Imagine a policeman knocking on your door and asking to see your checkbook. Or picture a government clerk popping up to see which books you bought from last year.

A new military computer database network designed to mine data from both government and commercial databases may allow our government to do exactly that.

Note that he says Poindexter, the person in charge of "Total Information Awareness," had his conviction of lying under oath to Congress overturned. He was pardoned, not found not guilty. That means that his powerful Republican friends approved of his lying under oath and they are now in charge in Wahington.
Shut Out -- The Dems Strike Out . . . Again, - The Texas Observer

The scale of the thrashing Texas Democrats received at the polls exposes a campaign whose defeat was in part self-inflicted. At its root was a strategy that had more to do with calculation than principle, based on faulty ethnic assumptions, in an operation where the quantity of money magnified rather than minimized errors. In particular, the Sanchez campaign earned a deserved reputation as the Waterworld of the 2002 political season, an expensive debacle that capsized an already leaky Texas Democratic Party.

Maybe the sleeping giant does exist. Maybe it’s not just Latinos, but people of every color who are screwed by cold-blooded extremist Republican policies. Waking that giant will take organization, education, and mobilization. It must come from communities around the state, not just Austin. And these are not activities that will enrich consultants. As fate would have it, Texas Democrats appear to have plenty of time to prepare, for they didn’t just get sent down to some triple A farm team. It looks like, because of Bush’s popularity and redistricting, they are doomed to at least four, if not ten, years in the rookie leagues.

The big Texas Democratic defeat after outspending the Republicans.
Blood, Oil, and Sand: The Hidden History of America's War on Iraq

I found the link to this which I was sent a later modified version as an e-mail.
Other States Won't Join Appeal

Massachussetts may be alone in appealing the Microsoft verdict. West Virginia is the only other state which may join. The Microsoft verdict essentially said you are found guilty of violating antitrust laws and abusing monopoly power but we will impose no effective penalties and just say you can't do some of those practices again.

With conservative pro-business judges being appointed for life a doctrine that business can just about do whatever it likes is now standard. - Foreign policy rift simmers in White House
Woodward book details administration infighting

A foreign policy rift simmering in the Bush administration shows no signs of mending and could affect Iraq policy as well as U.S. dealings in the Middle East and with North Korea and China.

For the moment, Secretary of State Colin Powell, a centrist, appears to have the upper hand, prevailing over hard-liners like Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in persuading President Bush to seek U.N. Security Council approval on disarming Iraq.

The victory could be short-lived.

Cheney and Rumsfeld remain a potent force, and Bush's natural tendencies appear to favor bold action over Powell-style cautious diplomacy. Meanwhile, Republican midterm gains in the House and Senate have diminished Democratic influence as a force in foreign policy, further emboldening conservatives.

Bush also must choose among conflicting advice as he makes important decisions on Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, North Korea's nuclear threat and growing Chinese military and economic influence.

In family discussions Thursday, everyone was supporting Powell. My socially conservative sister, in seeing first hand the State Republican party influence on school districts, no longer usually votes Republican although she has not switched to being a Democrat.
POLICY ANALYSIS: Bush’s Dangerous Gamble :: North Texas Independent Media Center ::

Bush’s populist “scare tactic” alarmism has given many Americans the false impression that Iraq already has nuclear capability – or is very close to acquiring it. However, experts – including some cited by Bush himself – paint a much less frightening picture.

Prime Minister Tony Blair released an assessment by British intelligence on Sept. 24, that found that the U.N. embargo against Iraq has been successful in “hindering the import of crucial goods for the production of fissile material,” such as the enriched uranium needed for nuclear bombs.

The New York Times reported on Sept. 25, that British intelligence “judged that while sanctions remain effective, Iraq would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon.”

The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies reached a similar conclusion. In a report on Iraq’s nuclear capability released Sept. 9. “Iraq does not possess facilities to produce fissile material in sufficient mounts for nuclear weapons,” the IISS concluded. “It would require several years and extensive foreign assistance to build such fissile material production facilities.”

My argument with Peter Taylor has him lately responding that I am supporting the UN, an ineffective undemocratic institution, against a megalomaniac with nuclear weapons. I will say again Iraq has no nuclear weapons.

CLIFF PEARSON has separately sent me a very long e-mail Blood, Oil, and Sand: The Hidden History of America’s War on Iraq which details part of Saddam's history.

In 1958 Iraq’s leader, General Abdel Karim Qassem, refused to continue participating with the pro-Western, anti-Soviet, Baghdad Pact. In 1961, General Qassem further antagonized the West by nationalizing the British-controlled Iraq Petroleum Corporation. (General Qassem had previously upset the British and the United States by simply coming to power in the first place. His assumption of leadership in Iraq ousted the Hashemite Monarchy that had been installed by the British Empire following World War I.)

The United States responded by having the CIA train an Iraqi opposition group, the Ba’ath Party, to stage a bloody coup to oust General Qassem. Iraq’s populist leader for five years, General Qassem was summarily tried in a studio in a Baghdad radio station, tied to a chair and shot dead.

Ali Saleh S’adi, a Ba’ath Party rebel who became the Minister of the Interior following the coup, told author Said Arburish in his book A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite that the CIA had trained the Ba’ath Party.

The CIA also played a primary role in creating the hit lists of those who were to be eliminated after the coup by the Ba’ath Party rebels. The hit lists were developed in CIA stations across the Middle East with the help of Iraqi exiles.

In Egypt, the CIA got most of its information on who to kill from Saddam Hussein, who had been living in exile in Cairo. Arburish reports that, “The American agent who produced the longest list was William McHale, who operated under the cover of a news correspondent for the Beirut bureau of Time [magazine].”

As the CIA’s hit lists reached Baghdad, the result was a massacre of incredible cruelty. Arburish says 5,000 were killed in the coup – 600 of whom were doctors, lawyers, teachers and professors who formed the educated elite of Iraq. Pregnant women and elderly people were butchered, some of them tortured to death in front of their children.

Saddam Hussein, who had rushed back to Iraq from exile in Egypt, personally tortured prisoners held in the coup’s detention centers. (Saddam Hussein was not unknown to the CIA. In 1959, when he was a 22-year-old Ba’ath Party member, he had been wounded in an attempt to assassinate General Qassem in Baghdad.)

The foreign base for the Ba’ath Party’s coup, according to Arburish, was in Kuwait. King Hussein of Jordan, who had close relations with the CIA himself, says that during the planning phase of the coup “many meetings were held between the Ba’ath Party and American intelligence – the most critical ones in Kuwait.” Arburish cites several sources in his book alleging that the coup was orchestrated via radio from a secret CIA base in Kuwait.

Arburish quotes Hani Fkaiki, one of the Ba’ath Party leaders, who reports that their American CIA trainer was William Lakeland, the U.S. Assistant Military AttachĂ© in Baghdad.

On the morning of February 9, 1963, the day after the coup began, General Qassem surrendered to the Ba’ath Party rebels. He was executed shouting, “Long live the people!”

In 1972, OPEC, the international cartel of oil-producing nations, raised the price of crude oil from $3 per barrel to $22 per barrel in an effort to collectively profiteer off the West’s dependence on their product. Saddam Hussein, a vice president at the time in the new CIA coup-established government, reacted to this price-gouging opportunity by immediately encouraging the nationalization of Iraq’s oil fields. The United States reacted by branding Saddam Hussein “unreliable,” a “terrorist leader,” and throwing their primary Middle Eastern support to Iran, led by the pro-Western Shah.

....he goes on with more recent history and concludes...

In conclusion, it seems clear from the evidence that the goals of the United States and the West in Iraq are not to protect the innocent people from Saddam Hussein, but to: establish a dominant military presence in the Middle East, control Iraq’s oil production, and, apparently, utterly annihilate the Iraqi infrastructure and population.

I wondered aloud to my ex-wife Pat the other day what the activist military/intelligence agents did when Clinton was in power? In two years under Bush 2 they are promoting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and plotting a coup in Venezuela. Under Clinton the country was on the right track except for the continued attacks on Clinton and some of the policies he was forced to pursue facing a Republican Congress. What do agents trained to install authoritarian governments and promote American commercial interests do when Democrats are in power - assist the Republican party in bringing down Democrats? Am I getting too paranoid here? - Jeffords blasts Bush on environment -

Sen. James Jeffords -- the Vermont independent who stripped control of the Senate from Republicans last year when he bolted the party -- slammed the administration's record on the environment and said President Bush was "undoing his father's legacy."

"This year the power industry is getting a nice Christmas gift: the biggest weakening of the Clean Air Act in history," Jeffords said Saturday in the Democrats' weekly radio address, becoming the first independent to deliver that speech.

Republicans can no longer be pro-environment in the new GOP.
SFChron -- New pollution rules overpower California / U.S. laws jeopardize state's air standards

New air pollution regulations issued by the Bush administration undermine an important tenet of national environmental laws: the rights of states to adopt stricter controls than the federal government, environmental lawyers and California officials say.

Environmental lawyers say the new regulations open the door to restrict states on a host of major environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act,

I have been seeing a campaign by the usual suspects that the new regulations are actually an improvement and only "loony environmentalists" oppose them.

Friday, November 29, 2002 - A Triumphant Call To Arms

Neo-conservative writers have become increasingly vocal about an apocalyptic conflict involving the United States and Muslim world.

Start with Norman Podhoretz, the former longtime editor of Commentary and now a Hudson Institute fellow. Podhoretz calls for en masse regime change in the Middle East, beginning with Iraq and Iran from the original "axis of evil" list, and extending it to Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, the Palestinian National Authority, Saudi Arabia and Syria. He wants the United States to unilaterally overthrow these regimes and replace them with democracies cast in the Jeffersonian mold.

What neo-cons seek is not just a political transformation of the Muslim Middle East. Their end game, as Podhoretz says in Commentary, is to bring about "the long-overdue internal reform and modernization of Islam."

Rather than being dismissed as fringe thinking, these pronouncements frame the hard-right boundary for debates in conservative political circles


Critiquing their worldview, columnist Philip Stephens writes in the Financial Times that, "in the long term, even a nation as uniquely powerful as the United States cannot remake the political systems at the heart of the Islamic world: not in 30 years and probably not in 100."

The Muslim world will view a string of U.S. military attacks on Muslim countries as the aggression of an oil-thirsty superpower on the Muslim world, not a march to liberate people from tyranny.

I disagree with the neo-cons on this view that the United States should attempt to bring the Islamic World into the 20th Century by force,
The Daily Brew is arguing that by shopping at Wal-Mart you are killing Christians.
Falling Prices Put Fed on Guard (

In recent testimony before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said that while the economy is not yet "close to a deflationary cliff," he and his central bank colleagues are watching it closely and taking it very seriously.

During bad deflation, consumers and businesses -- knowing that prices are likely to be lower tomorrow than they are today -- hoard cash and put off buying things, making the recession worse and driving prices and wages down further.

That was what happened in the early 1930s, triggering the Great Depression. Something similar has taken hold in Japan, where prices are falling about 1 percent a year.

Stephen S. Roach of Morgan Stanley argues that some of those dynamics are now at play in the U.S. economy after the worst stock market losses since 1929.

"The risk of deflation is higher than at any time in the past half century," Roach said.

Americans can already see a few early signs of bad deflation taking hold in a number of industries -- Wall Street, commercial real estate, much of the technology and telecommunications sectors. Perhaps no industry shows it more clearly than the airlines.

"The endgame of global deflation cannot be dismissed out of hand," Roach said.

Translation: The Fed is very worried about a 1929 repeat.
Split in Ranks of Business and G.O.P. on Tax Cuts

Even some Republicans and business groups are supporting the Democratic plan for tax cuts for lower income workers rather than business cuts - to the anger of others. - Judge rejects appeal on Cheney papers

Slowly the legal process will try to get the truth of which companies wrote the US energy policy. - Woodward: All the president's man

Some commentators here like to portray Canadian resistance to the transformation going on south of the border as anti-Americanism. But why is it anti-American to admire American democracy when it effectively checked presidential power, and to lament the drift today toward an imperial presidency with sweeping surveillance power over its own citizenry, or to admire American journalism when it produced the likes of Bob Woodward — not Woody, the president's pal.

In gaining access was "Woody" seduced by Bush? This link was provided by BuzzFlash - Mark Shields: The business lobby's campaign against McCain

Knowing they cannot rebut his central claim that Big Money calls the tune in our politics and in his party, some McCain enemies are simply out to discredit his character and destroy his effectiveness.

McCain and Powell are the only major Republicans I respect.
NYTimes - Krugman -- In Media Res

There are now five major sources of TV news, rather than three, but this increase is arguably more than offset by other trends. For one thing, the influence of print news has continued its long decline; for another, all five sources of TV news are now divisions of large conglomerates — you get your news from AOLTimeWarnerGeneralElectricDisneyWestinghouseNewsCorp.

Krugman could be the most important columnist in America today.
The Latest Kissinger Outrage - Why is a proven liar and wanted man in charge of the 9/11 investigation? By Christopher Hitchens

The most cogent attack on Kissinger as the wrong man for the investigation.
Half of Democrats Favor Gore in Poll (

Party leaders do not support Gore, where the frontrunners are actually Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Wired News: You Better Shop Around -- Not!

Wired's take on Buy Nothing Day.
Jay Leno

Today, "Playboy Magazine” announced they’re laying off 8% of their work force. How bad is the economy when guys stop looking at naked women? (pretends to cry) "I can’t look at this anymore.”

An aide to the Prime Minister of Canada called President Bush, "A moron." Here's a guy that never worked a day in his life, lived off his dad's money, lost the popular vote and ended up President. That's not a moron, that's a genius!

Senate Democrat leader Tom Daschle on television this week whining thatthat radio talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh are inciting listeners to make physical threats against Democrats, which is a federal crime. Threatening an endangered species, you can't do that!

David Letterman

Al Gore says that the Bush economic plan has zero chance of working. Here’s the important question – Bush has an economic plan?

Guardian-- Aids epidemic 'bringing social collapse'

The Aids epidemic is causing the spiralling disintegration of some of the poorest countries in Africa, precipitating famine and social, political and economic collapse, says the latest official United Nations update.
The UNAids report takes a more sombre tone than ever before as it lays out the increasing scale of the global epidemic which last year killed 3.1 million people, of whom 610,000 were children.

A further 5 million people were infected with the deadly virus in 2002, bringing the world total living with HIV to 42 million. Most of the 29.4 million with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are likely to die - only about 300,000 currently receive life-saving drugs.

The report shows the epidemic taking off quickly in eastern Europe and the central Asian republics. In 2002, there were an estimated 250,000 new infections there, bringing the region's total to 2.5 million. But in some countries the spread has been phenomenal, with almost as many new infections in Uzbekistan in the first six months of this year as in the entire previous decade.

There are other things we should be more concerned about than letting Bush get his familial revenge.

OpinionJournal - United We Stand

This is written from the conservative side but equally applies all.

"I love you," she said, "but I'm not going to think like you."

A small idea, an obvious idea, but it turned my world on its head. I don't agree with my wife's take on politics--but she's my wife. We've sworn an oath to stay together. I think we can cut each other a little slack.

And the same goes for my friends. I'd understood for a long time that my friends didn't think like me--but I'd forgotten the more important part of it. We're friends. We love each other.

I still think he's a nut for listening to Noam Chomsky, and I'll tell him so. But I love him anyway. That's how I can be his friend.

I read my first Noam Chomsky book last month. I do not think he is a nut. Ted Turner talks

Ted Turner was in true Ted Turner form on Friday, playfully musing like a stand-up comic about everything from ex-wife Jane Fonda to Georgia politics.

Turning to the Nov. 5 election, he said he almost "laid down and cried" over the results.

"My governor in Georgia was a great environmentalist but he got beat," he said. "And my poor senator. . .he's a war hero."

He asked the crowd of mostly environmentalists whether anyone favored war with Iraq. When no one raised their hand he said laughingly "why didn't any of you vote?"

Any environmentalist who doesn't vote is not a friend of the earth. Ted Turner -- proving you can be a billionaire and be a liberal.
Boston Globe -- Kerry takes cue from McCain run

Senator John F. Kerry says the 2004 presidential campaign he is contemplating will be modeled on the maverick, straight-talk bid that Republican Senator John McCain made for the White House in 2000.

In a long profile in today's New Yorker magazine, Massachusetts' junior senator said winning the Democratic nomination will depend on making connections with people across party lines and winning the support of Republicans and Independents who can vote in Democratic primaries.

''People are jaded, people are cynical - there's a breach of faith,'' Kerry told writer Joe Klein. ''You have to reestablish a way to connect with people. John McCain did that.''

I like Al Gore but John Kerry could be the Democrats best hope. - White House Counsel's Methods Outrage Military Legal Experts

Even the Wall Street Journal says likely Supreme Court nominee Gonzales is rewriting the laws of war and is "provocative." He has been the one suspending the Geneva Convention, establishing military tribunals that don't even follow military law, and that US citizens can be defined for years without trial or access to attorneys.
AlterNet: HIGHTOWER: The Symbol Of Wall Street Greed

Gosh, I miss Harvey. The one election night loss that I most lament is that of Harvey Pitt. His name wasn't even on the ballot, but he was a goner before the polls closed.

However, the good news is that, now, George W himself becomes the national symbol of corporate excess.

AlterNet: HIGHTOWER: Bush's Push for the Corporate Agenda

Yes, say the Bushites, but we just had a sweep of the mid-term congressional elections, putting our party in charge of both houses and giving us a fresh mandate, so get out of the way while we do the people's will! Hold your stampeding horses, BushCo, for your congressional margin is razor slim – you gained only two seats in the senate and five in the house, which is hardly mandate territory.

And before you try to act in the name of "the people," you might want to check the election numbers. The great majority of the people thought the campaigns were such a pile of issue-avoiding, negative horsehockey that they didn't vote at all. And of the 39 percent of American voters who did cast ballots, the majority of them voted either for Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, Working Family, Independent, or other parties' candidates – not for the GOP. The so-called "mandate" that you are claiming actually is made up of less than 18 percent of the electorate!

And there's even less to that number than meets the eye. A big percentage of the 18 percent does not support your elitist and extremist agenda of more tax breaks for the rich, creeping privatization of social security, the gutting of consumer bankruptcy protection, and all the other favors you plan to give to the corporate powers that finance your elections.

You can't make chicken salad out of chicken manure, and Bush's claim of a "mandate" is 100% chicken manure.

There is a practical mandate and a realization of the failure of the Democrats to speak for the people.

The Nation -- Spending Ourselves to Death

For those keeping track, this year's $396 billion is more than three times the combined defense spending of Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Cuba, Sudan and Syria. America outspends Russia, the second-biggest defense spender, by a factor of six.

The defense spending bill is also a slap in the face of some 500,000 disabled veterans. Such veterans are now barred from receiving both their military retirement pay and their veteran's disability benefits. A Senate amendment would have struck down this ban on "concurrent receipt." Instead, the defense bill was cunningly recrafted so that only certain veterans - those with 20-plus years of service and a Purple Heart - get help. Isaacs reported the compromise "left veterans' groups furious because only a small number of disabled veterans will benefit (about 33,000 out of 550,000)."

Article points out small victories, it could be worse. I disagree with article on nuclear tipped missile defense, if you have an ABM system that is the only way it works, otherwise you are trying to hit a bullet with a bullet.
t r u t h o u t - William Rivers Pitt | Here. Now.

Leaders never lead, unless the people lead them. Leaders, left to their own devices, will follow the call of the folks writing the checks. For too long in this country, the people have abdicated their basic responsibility - to rule. In the absence of the people's leadership, our elected officials have begun listening to the corporations and the well-funded interest groups instead. The result is the mess we are in. This is without question a bi-partisan problem that affects both parties. Look no further than the fact that the vast majority of newly registered voters sign up as Independent.

There is an email making the rounds nowadays carrying an article by a right-wing radio personality named Chuck Baldwin. The article was originally sent out on an email list called 'The Republican,' and is entitled "Bush Government Out of Control." Mr. Baldwin laments the passage of the Homeland Security legislation and the establishment of the outrageously Orwellian 'Total Information Awareness' database. This database, run by convicted felon John Poindexter of Iran/Contra fame, will collect personal data on your purchases - including guns - along with school grades, websites visited, and trips taken. In one paragraph, Mr. Baldwin asks a powerful question: "Does that mean one must leave the Republican Party in order to fight for liberty? Maybe so."

Maybe it has gone too far to be fixed. Between the PATRIOT Act and this new Homeland Security Department, there is very little substance left to the founding documents and principles that once were the people's sword and shield.

You do not have to be rich or powerful or well-connected to erect a sign in your yard. You do not have to be a salesperson to hand out informational leaflets at a bus stop. You do not have to be young to volunteer with an organization. You do not have to be liberal to know that something is badly, badly out of joint.

Do something. Do anything.

At the end of the day, it does not matter what you do. A sign in your yard, a button in the lapel of your coat, an email sent around to friends, will have a small but salutary effect. It will make others in the country who feel isolated in their fear that something has gone terribly wrong understand that they are not alone.

A long excerpt from me on a powerful article. You are not alone. Do something and you may find someone else. Try to educate and tell people what they don't get in the national media, and you may create another voice of reason.
t r u t h o u t - Daily Mirror UK -- Richard Perle : 'Inspections Or Not, We'll Attack Iraq'

Dr Richard Perle stunned MPs by insisting a "clean bill of health" from UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix would not halt America's war machine.

Nothing new here, move along. -- ''Iraq's nuclear non-capability''

BTW, I have been aware of this since it posted but hadn't considered it important. It has become obvious to me that Bush's evil Iraq with WMD's reason to invade is just another excuse. I forgot other people may not know this. Repeat after me:

Iraq doesn't have a nuclear bomb and has been in no shape to get one.

NYObserver -- Gore’s TV War: He Lobs Salvo At Fox News

"Fox News Network, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh—there’s a bunch of them, and some of them are financed by wealthy ultra-conservative billionaires who make political deals with Republican administrations and the rest of the media …. Most of the media [has] been slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their ranks—that is, day after day, injecting the daily Republican talking points into the definition of what’s objective as stated by the news media as a whole."

I wonder about sending all the Conservative media the Rush Limbaugh quote this week where he admits there is no longer a liberal media bias?
Bear Left!: Less Safe/Less Free

George W. Bush often jokes that trading Sammy Sosa to the Chicago Cubs when he was an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team was his biggest professional mistake. The latest Bush trade, freedom for security, makes even less sense. Americans are now both less safe and less free.

What will be America's future if liberty is not our guiding principle? Liberty that exists only at the discretion of a paternalistic oligarchy is no liberty at all.

How can liberty loving Americans support this administration? Answer: Democrats haven't shown them we love liberty and Republicans don't. | Handicapping Venezuela's Future

Blogging South America, Mother Jones picks up on all the Chavez criticism in American newspapers but takes it as problems with Chavez, not a media orchestration for an American backed coup.

MotherJones |-- An Emperor and His Satraps

Mother Jones blogging Pax Americana. A nice quote from the Christian Science Monitor. "Before we set about reordering the world, we as citizens need to ask ourselves whether we have any realistic idea of what the costs and burdens will be. Lord Acton's dictum that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely should give us pause as we soberly consider whether even 'the greatest nation in the world' should be entrusted - or even want to be entrusted - with such a task."
Liberals like Christ -- Liberals = GREAT !

Jesus set forth ideals of Liberalism so HIGH that most people can't achieve them and many of his so-called followers have turned their backs on those ideals and have chosen INSTEAD to follow the easy, extremely CONSERVATIVE path pioneered by Paul of Tarsus.

I have had this argument with some Christians before, that Paul hijacked the Christian religion and if you closely read much of the New Testament it follows the arguments between Paul and the followers and family of Jesus.

This liberal Christian also points out some verses that contradict each other if you have friends who believe in BIBLICAL INERRANCY. Asking them to explain different verses I find is the best, because it is Bible-based, defense against fundamentalists. Not that all his examples of inerrancy are errors, particularly when the New Testament opposes the Old Testament. If you can confuse your former friends with this you may also point out that the Bible never claims it's "infallibilility." This is a Protestant doctrine for authoritarians, related to the Catholic doctrine of Church "infallibility."

Thomas Jefferson: " Paul was the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus."

How did I miss this?
Democrats Can't Deal With The Non-Liberal Media

There's been a massive change in media in this country over the last 15 years. Up until 1988, there basically was one media. It was a leftist media: the mainstream press of the three networks and the two or three big newspapers and the magazines. All of a sudden, there came a new media: talk radio.

Eventually, this hunger for news that gave conservatives a chance to be heard, spawned a lot of other talk radio shows and then gave rise to Fox News Channel. Now it's 2002 and the traditional liberal media monopoly doesn't exist anymore.

This is what liberals have been howling about, the non-liberal media and how the Democrats are very poor at dealing with it. And who steps forward to say the leftist media establishment is dead? Rush Limbaugh! Rush Limbaugh is now the establishment and can admit the liberal media bias is dead.

Refered by Democratic Underground

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

USS Clueless - Symbolic gestures

Newest tempest in the left and right blogger wars, should you link to a site that is permanently linked to a site which is extremely intolerant?

The Rittenhouse Review says no, while USS Clueless typically says that is a typical meaningless and intolerant gesture of the left.

I have decided there are some sites I will not post the links to, if you want them you can find them. I may not, or may depending on the case, link to original evildoer but tracking down all of their supporters is too much work. For me, like abortion, it is a matter of where you draw the line.

UPI: Think tanks wrap-up

Disagree with liberals? Two Republican tax-free foundations offer their take on Krugman and Daschle. I think they are incredibly stupid articles and deserve a point-by-point rebuttal but upon further reflection "fisking" is not my thing.
City Pages: Cynical, Bitter, Jaded as Hell. Also Naked.

Websites like Suicide Girls provide porn with an indie rock attitude

The women on display at Suicide Girls look a lot like the indie-rock chicks you'd expect to see at a Strokes show but never thought you'd get to see naked.

Or perhaps, as these sites would have it, they're not even porn at all. After all, you'd be hard pressed to find the word anywhere on the site, or for that matter on any of the slew of websites, such as Friction and Supercult, that are joining Suicide Girls in retooling the online adult industry for the hipster set.

Of course, alternative sexuality in 2002 is not exactly revolutionary. Popular sex columnists and activists like Dan Savage and Susie Bright, and webcam pioneers like Jennifer Ringley (, have long since brought frank sexuality out of the brown bag and into the popular consciousness. And the Internet quickly realized that a female-friendly take on male-dominated porn could be a seriously profitable venture. Cake ( has taken its "entertainment for women" (read: women-centric sexual shenanigans in swank New York clubs) from homespun enterprise to the pages of Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone. Meanwhile Nerve ( has been peddling its brand of literate smut since 1997, blending erotic fiction, reporting, and photos with phenomenally popular and sexually charged personals (the same ones that currently grace the City Pages website). This service has almost singlehandedly transformed the personal ad from the last resort of the desperate to a new kind of status symbol for the sexually aware--and, while you're at it, a great moneymaking scheme for Nerve.

I like Nerve but haven't read it in months. See if you can find my old personal in Salon or Nerve. This is another in my one or more posts a week dealing with naked women because real liberals are fun loving and like sex.

Daily Howler -- There’s a word for Rich’s column on Gore. Readers know that word. Frank Rich was lying

Bob Smerby takes on the press corps for refusing to cover themselves in their bias against Gore, Rich for another inaccurate hatchet job on Gore, Cienski for being ignorant and demaining to Gore, and Kondracke, the supposed liberal on Fox News Network, for demeaning "the rest of Gore's act." Continue to watch the Daily Howler for more on the war against Gore such as today's on the media ignoring the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the head of the CIA and then jumping on Gore's "weird charges" when he repeats their statements. The Daily Howler has a full-time job keeping up with the false attacks on Al Gore.
The Salt Lake Tribune -- IVINS: In the Age of Corporatism, Liberals Are the New Conservatives

Readin' the newspapers anymore is eerily reminiscent of all those bad novels warning of the advent of fascism in America.

For those who relish irony, there's a comical extent to which liberals are the new conservatives, exactly where the old principled Republicans used to be -- reluctant to get involved in foreign wars, suspicious of foreign entanglements, harping on fiscal responsibility and worried about constitutional freedoms.

It is inarguable that this is the most anti-environmental administration since before Teddy Roosevelt. The corporatists in this administration, particularly those from the oil bidness, apparently have some grand imperialist schemes to keep us in cheap oil indefinitely.

As a matter of foreign and environmental policy, it makes a lot more sense to lay rail, promote renewable energy and get serious about conserving oil. We subsidize the hell out of the oil bidness with innumerable tax breaks, loopholes and support programs. For heaven's sake, why not support renewable energy, instead? Why should we ask our military to die for cheap oil when the rest of us aren't even being asked to get better mileage?

As I keep harping on, these are not the old Republicans, these are the new Imperialists.
The Man Who Calls Bush a Liar (

Howard Kurtz Media Notes blog leads with Paul Krugman and includes some of his best quotes. Lot's of other good observations including the Gore's odd books.
ABS-CBNNEWS -- Krugman-- Every breath you take

Last week the Bush administration announced new rules that would effectively scrap “new source review,” a crucial component of our current system of air pollution control. This action, which not incidentally will be worth billions to some major campaign contributors, comes as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to which way the wind is blowing (from west to east, mainly -- that is, states that vote Democratic are conveniently downwind).

Administration officials still insist, of course, that they plan to proceed with clean air measures. And it’s possible that they will eventually do the right thing. But don’t hold your breath waiting. In fact, it might be a good idea to breathe deeply now, while you still can.

He also argues that the Republican backed system of trading pollution credits, "Clear Skies," is probably dead. Libertarian Republicans lose to the pocketbooks of huge corporations.
The Seattle Times: What it means to be a Wellstone Democrat

Wellstone — though passionately liberal — was noted for his civility. The Minnesota senator, who died in a plane crash Oct. 25, did not attack or disparage opponents or their ideas; he advanced his beliefs, and would put forth compelling reasons why you should agree with him. That is what politics, in my mind, was always supposed to represent: You vote with your conscience, you stake out territory, and you give what you can while protecting what you must.

Because Wellstone had that kind of conviction, everyone in D.C. got exactly what they saw with him. People respond to "conviction politicians," who prove their words with their very lives. Prove often enough that you care about people, and they'll go to the wall for you at the polls.


Wellstone believed "kitchen-table issues" of balancing a family budget, getting a decent job with a living wage, and receiving a fair shake from government in tough times, should dictate the way government functions: to aid the struggling, those who can't attain the American ideal of self-sufficiency.

It's not whether you win elections — no, the point of politics is that, after winning elections, the subsequent advancement of your ideas improves the lives of hard-hit people.

Great article, rather you call it centrist, liberal, populist, or progressive - campaign to improve people's lives. Give them simple concrete reasons to vote for you.
Guardian Unlimited Observer -- US pulls out Karzai's military bodyguards, replaces with US private security guards.
Giving the opposing viewpoint: Guardian Unlimited -- Full text: bin Laden's 'letter to America'

After a list of reasons why he is at war with America:

If the Americans refuse to listen to our advice and the goodness, guidance and righteousness that we call them to, then be aware that you will lose this Crusade Bush began, just like the other previous Crusades in which you were humiliated by the hands of the Mujahideen, fleeing to your home in great silence and disgrace. If the Americans do not respond, then their fate will be that of the Soviets who fled from Afghanistan to deal with their military defeat, political breakup, ideological downfall, and economic bankruptcy.

This is our message to the Americans, as an answer to theirs. Do they now know why we fight them and over which form of ignorance, by the permission of Allah, we shall be victorious?

UK Observer -- Although there is no way to confirm the authenticity of the letter beyond all doubt, senior Arab journalists in the Middle Eastern media believe the letter is from bin Laden. 'It is an extraordinary glimpse into his mind,' one told The Observer.
Iraq - US Forces Order of Battle, Iraq - 02 December 2002

An extremely slow build-up of ground troops but continued naval air forces movement leads me to speculate that the administration is only prepared for air strikes in late-December/January.
In an age of biowarfare, US sees new role for nukes |

Bush administration mulls resuming nuclear testing and developing tactical warheads to deal with threats like Iraq.

To ensure that enemy facilities or forces are knocked out and cannot be reconstituted, attacks with nuclear weapons may be necessary," the National Institute for Public Policy in Fairfax, Va., reported last year.

Several of that report's authors are now officials in the Bush administration, including Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Defense Science Board chairman William Schneider.

New nuclear weapons, coming to you soon from the Republican tax-free think tanks. - Black Democrats want bigger cut of top party slots

Becoming an issue, the lack of Black Democrats in leadership position now.

The New Republic: Eight Days

Future historians will note that it took a grand total of eight days. When the Republicans swept to victory on November 5, they rushed to reassure the nation that, this time, they would not overreach.

Turns out they lied. Eight days into this new era of Republican dominance, George W. Bush's GOP has not merely succumbed to Gingrichism; they've surpassed it. The 1994 revolutionaries, after all, only sacrificed social justice to their K Street cronies. In a time of war, the Bushies have now sacrificed patriotism as well.

On November 13, eight days after the election, the House Republican leadership stuffed seven new provisions into the bill--one of which gutted the restrictions on offshore companies gaining Homeland Security Department contracts--and rammed the new legislation through.

An old one but worth repeating, their is nothing the Republican Party won't do for their huge business friends. Bipartisanship before the elections enabled a new law that businesses that reincorporate outside the United States to avoid paying taxes could not do business with the Homeland Security Department. After the election, that provision is stripped.
Mercury News -- Pelosi, backers rally in S.F.

Pelosi hammered Republicans as ``insensitive'' for refusing to extend unemployment benefits beyond Christmas for some laid-off workers. And she criticized the Bush administration for relaxing air pollution controls.

"The Republicans in Washington, they're not like the ones here,'' Pelosi told the crowd. "They are insensitive to most people. You could take any day of the week and find something unfavorable they did. What our intention is, is to make it clear to voters that the Democratic party is a party of their friends.''

This is the smart tough Pelosi, what happened when she was on national tv? - Poll: Most support war as a last resort

Overall, 58% favor using U.S. ground troops to remove Saddam from power, a percentage that has held fairly steady since mid-October.

The survey finds complex attitudes on what would justify invasion. Two out of three, 64%, say the United States should first get U.N. authorization to launch an attack if Iraq defies a U.N. resolution calling for full inspections. The Bush administration says it could act without additional U.N. approval.

But 63% in the poll favor letting Saddam off the hook if weapons are found and he agrees to destroy them.

If U.N. inspectors find no evidence of weapons of mass destruction or facilities where they could be produced, 52% oppose sending troops.

One analyst says the findings suggest that President Bush should go slow in forcing a military showdown and be sure every peaceful avenue is exhausted.

Public support for Bush remains high. Overall, 65% approve of the job he is doing, down slightly from 68% two weeks ago.

A long slow decline in approval ratings, support if he goes very slow in Iraq. Rove is already planning the 2004 campaign so expect reasonably smart politics from the White House. You will also see ambiguous policies, where you have to see the details to get a clear picture. Iraq is toast, but it might be a slow burn.

Low-Income Taxpayers: New Meat for the Right (

"Who are these lucky duckies?"

You can't make this stuff up. The latest targets for the neo-conservatives are the working poor, who supposedly are getting out of paying enough taxes.

Now, I credit my friends on that editorial page with strong principles and powerful feelings of compassion toward high-end taxpayers. But it will certainly come as news to low-income families getting by on two small paychecks that they are lucky duckies.

Richard Sims, the policy director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, took the recently published example of a top CEO who earned $122.5 million in 2000 and calculated that his FICA tax rate was 0.00043 percent. Now that's a real lucky ducky.

According to Sims's figures, the bottom 20 percent of Illinois residents pay 10.8 percent of their income in sales and excise taxes, compared with only 1.4 percent paid by the top 1 percent of earners. In California, the comparable figures are 7.4 percent and 1.0 percent; in Arizona, 8.1 percent and 1.2 percent; in Colorado, 5.1 percent and 0.8 percent.

The last thing we need to worry about is whether poor Americans are taxed too little.

This is part of the recent Republican campaign against the poor. Another part of this campaign is revising welfare to not allow recipients to get education or job training to remove themselves from the lowest paying jobs. Or as Republicans put it "they have to work full-time to collect welfare and we will only pay them for a few years." Lucky Duckies.
NYTimes -- Critics Say Government Deleted Web Site Material to Push Abstinence

Information on condom use, the relation between abortion and breast cancer and ways to reduce sex among teenagers has been removed from government Web sites, prompting critics to accuse the Department of Health and Human Services of censoring medical information in order to promote a philosophy of sexual abstinence.

Over the last year, the department has quietly expunged information on how using condoms protects against AIDS, how abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer and how to run programs proven to reduce teenage sexual activity.

Republican policy is to appease the social conservatives. This is not the highest policy but as long as it does not oppose the big agendas of supporting the top 0.1% and supporting huge business, the social conservative agenda will be pushed.
NYTimes -- Positive Ratings for the G.O.P., if Not Its Policy

Marketing 101 again, your competitor has a product that people don't like as well but has more than double your budget and an extremely well-liked spokesman. What is your strategy? It should be to simplify your message and repeat all your specific additional benefits in concrete examples. Eventually the consumers, in this case voters, will say "I like the other guy personally but it is in my self-interest to choose Democratic." Do not attack the tax cut as being for the rich, which it is, show how your tax cut puts more money in the voter's pockets. This is the single-page format of the article.
TNR -- Consumer Party

An election in New York shows that Democrats should be pro-consumer, not anti-business. Marketing 101, emphasise the benefits of your product, not the failures of your competitors. I usually blog to the print page, like here, of a multi-page article.

NYTimes -- Problem of Lost Health Benefits Is Reaching Into the Middle Class

1.4 million Americans lost their health insurance last year, an increase largely attributed to the economic slowdown and resulting rise in unemployment. The largest group of the newly uninsured — some 800,000 people — had incomes in excess of $75,000. They either lost their jobs, or were priced out of the health care market by rapidly rising insurance premiums, or... both.

The issue is of particular concern to small-business owners, who say they would like to offer their employees health insurance but cannot keep up with the fast-rising premiums. They are a large and influential lobby and an important base for the Republican Party.

Al Gore's proposal would eliminate heath care costs for small business.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Where Republicans invaded Democratic turf |

GOP gained among women, unions, Hispanics. A sign for 2004?

On a smaller scale, Rove has overseen the creation of a GOP majority once before - in the state of Texas. When Mr. Bush won the Texas governorship in 1994, defeating Democrat Ann Richards, he won just 53 percent of the vote, and Republicans were the minority in the state legislature. Four years later, he was reelected in a landslide, and the GOP took over the state Senate and nearly took the House. The party's continuing dominance in the Lone Star state was evident this year, as Republicans won by wide margins in the Senate and governor's races.

This is the fear, that Rove was sucessful in converting a two-party state to a state where Democrats might have to wait for over a decade to be competitive. Can he do it to the country?
A nemesis no more, deficit rising |

"Once you have a legitimate reason to [unbalance the budget] it becomes very easy to lose fiscal discipline altogether," says Robert Bixby, head of the Concord Coalition, a group that promotes a balanced budget.

It would take a few years of red ink significantly greater than the US is now experiencing to get the attention of politicians and the public, according to Stan Collender, a budget expert at Fleishman-Hillard Inc. in Washington.

Given the tendency of the US political system to react slowly to most problems "It could easily be 2007 or 2008 at the earliest before anything happens," writes Collender in a recent column.

Note that this is only an opinion, however, I think that deficits are not a big issue as long as most voters see no immediate threat to themselves. There has to be further education that deficits are why things that benefit them, i.e. health care, Social Security, may not be provided
Dirty Old Man Assoication Weekly Newsletter

DOMAI - Pretty Girls Nude Beautiful Women Simple Tasteful Nudes Quality Artistic Photos Nude Art

We imagine a world where beauty is rampant, nudity is normal, and shame is rare, and that world may come about.

"From the mind comes the world"

How do you imagine a democratic and progressive world? Does nudity and beauty fit in to it? Liberals are not communists running around in Mao jackets.

AlterNet: Eaters of the World, Unite

A long article by Hightower on agricultural policies, of course..

With an oink-oink here and a ton of campaign cash there, agribusiness giants are able to dictate America's food and farm policies in both Republican and Democratic administrations. This is why our present policies are so bass-ackwards, discombobulated . . . and stupid.

Ag policy is not written for farmers and consumers, the two groups whose well-being logically would be the rationale for having any policy at all. Nor is it written in the interests of workers, conservation, small business, rural communities, good health or even good food. Instead, it's written for the profit and global expansion of names like ADM, Cargill, McDonald's, Monsanto, Nestlé, Phillip Morris, Tyson, Unilever and Wal-Mart.

Out of each dollar you spend on groceries, only 19 cents goes to the farmer, with corporate middlemen grabbing the rest.

An $8-billion-a-year federal farm program delivers zero dollars to thousands of farmers, while feeding some $500,000 a year to the likes of Charles Schwab, the gabillionaire stockbroker who gets taxpayer subsidies to grow rice at his California duck-hunting club (the rice paddies attract migrating ducks for his friends to shoot).

A handful of corporations monopolize each and every aspect of the food economy, from seeds to chemicals, grain shipping to cotton trading, processing to retailing.

This can be a happy Thanksgiving, and next year's even happier, if we commit to using our dollars and activism in support of a food system geared to the common good, rather than corporate greed. Bon appetit!
strikeslip entry · Hu's on first

George W. and Condi as Abbott and Costello.
posts a defense of Jean-Jacques Rousseau who has been rather stupidly accused by libertarian's as the ancestor of modern totalitarianism.
AlterNet: Buy Nothing Day This Year

November 29th, the day after Thanksgiving, is United States Buy Nothing Day. This shopping holiday is November 30th in Europe.

While Buy Nothing Day is primarily about getting people to think about the impacts of their conspicuous consumption, it's also a holiday celebrating personal liberation. One British Buy Nothing Day activist explained, "you'll feel detoxed from consumerism."

For many people, consumerism is an addiction. In the United States, the average household now pays $1,000 per year in interest and fees servicing a credit card debt that averages around $7,000. The average American generates one to one-and-a-half tons of trash per year. Municipal governments in the United States pay approximately $25 billion to landfill, incinerate or otherwise dispose of last year's motion pigs and other assorted pieces of trash. Our highways are abuzz both with Wal-Mart trucks bringing garbage to the market, and municipal waster haulers, taking it to the landfills.

In order to pay for this consumption frenzy, Americans now work longer hours than our parents did, and longer hours than our counterparts in any other developed country, while saving less money than in any recent generation. We've seen consumption-driven tax revolts, which put more consumption power into the hands of the upper classes, while starving public education, social services and the arts. Consumerism is poisoning our very ethos.
Deleted Post. Free Pie didn't like me posting an image even with a link to his site. So you don't see the NATO image of Bush and Annan and he doesn't have his link.
has an article in the print edition on long-time Houston prison/gay activist Ray Hill.

Ray Hill uses his weekly Prison Show to reach out to inmates and expose corrupt prison officials. from the page that is online.
MotherJones - No Liberal Savior

The Democrats got hustled in the elections. Unable to build a campaign around the issues they dominated in public opinion polls, the party let the GOP set the tone -- and the tone was war and security. Now, a number of pundits are taking aim at the Democrats for letting the Republicans ride that same message through the final days of the Congressional session.

Mother Jones is very good at blogging. Further down they note the administration's new fuel efficiency plan: Last week, the White House proposed raising SUV fuel efficiency standards a measly 1.5 percent over three years, a target even lower than the auto industry's own. Underwhelmed, the editors of San Jose's Mercury News dismiss the administration plan as "anemic." "Regarding the Bush administration's proposal to improve fuel efficiency in SUVs: If half a loaf is better than none, how good is a slice? In this case, it is hardly better than nothing."
Guardian Polly Toynbee: This is a clash between the middle ages and modernity

Religious fundamentalism is the rallying cry of the disenfranchised.

The trouble with the civilisation clash theory is that it implies that Islam as uniquely prone to savagery, because it was the creation of a warrior prophet who proclaimed jihad as a way or life. Too literally interpreted, his laws binding religion and state together make democracy impossible. Look at Islam's many failed states, dictatorships and corrupt religious rulers. The theory goes that Christians, on the other hand, fortunately had a prophet who rendered governance unto Caesar and considered the lilies of the field instead. Even better, he never wrote down any laws. But this is gross arrogance, given the history of Christianity - and of every other religion in its hot phase. It has been every bit as prone to massacre, torture, terrorism and the oppression of women. All religions - look at the Hindus in India - do monstrous things when people passionately believe them. They only turn contemplative when drained of any shred of temporal power, only safe when not interpreted literally.

The clash of civilisations here is not with Islam: it is with religion itself, a clash between modernity and the middle ages. Islam is just the emotional battle flag rallying post-colonial, disenfranchised people living under feudal governments. They seek a demented, inchoate revenge on the global winners by turning the clock back to their imagined golden age at the time of the prophet. They seek an impossible divine government whose reality under the Taliban is one of the most horrible yet devised

This is a clash of civilizations but it is not between the "evil Islamic" religion.and the West. Fundamentalist religious peoples are bad for democracy, tolerance, and civil rights.
Asia Times Battle of the old Middle East hands

The Deep Insider battle on who will rule Iraq after Saddam. The one with the biggest backers, the pax americana neo-con's, is Chalabi, who also has great PR. The State Department, CIA, and experienced military leaders openly oppose him.

Chalabi, who hails from an aristocratic Shi'ite family, has depicted himself as an Iraqi nationalist dedicated to human rights, the rule of law and a federal structure for a future Iraq that would guarantee greater autonomy for the country's disparate regions and ethnic groups.

That image has won him significant support in the US Congress, which in 1998 approved the Iraq Liberation Act (ILA), a bill that provided almost US$100 million in aid for opposition groups, particularly his INC.

But what has really given him political muscle in Washington is the enthusiastic backing he has received from a group of neo-conservatives closely identified with Israel's Likud Party and associated with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

Rumsfeld and Cheney, charter members of the PNAC, recruited their top foreign policy aides heavily from these two groups, while the AEI's Richard Perle, who heads Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board, has been friends with Chalabi for some 20 years.

This is part of the geo-political scheme to overthrow the existing Middle Eastern authoritarian governments to replace them with authoritarian but Western leaning governments.
Another dirty Senate campaign

Latest debate smacks of brawl as Landrieu, Terrell go on attack
-- New Orleans Times-Picayune

Asked by Gifford to clarify her position on abortion, Terrell said, "I'm 100 percent pro-life. As a practicing Catholic, I did not leave my faith, as did Mary Landrieu."

Landrieu, who is also Catholic, appeared stunned by the comment and said it showed how mean-spirited politics have become.

"I have a good relationship with my God and with my savior," she said.

I suspect the Republican emphasis on smearing Landrieu for "threatening" Terrell is to distract from this Terrell attack.
Hermann Goering on War during 1946 Nuremberg Trials.

We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.

"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."

"There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."

"Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

Nuremberg Diary -- Gustave Gilbert
LATimes -- Back of the Hand to Those Who Gave So Much

It may be one of the cruelest bait-and-switches in history. At issue is a promise by the government to World War II and Korean War veterans that their health-care benefits would be guaranteed for life.

Now that this bill has come due, the government has reneged and said it is not legally bound to make good on its promise.
A federal court of appeals in Washington ruled last week that although a promise was made by the government, it was a promise that could legally be broken. The court ruled that the loss was significant for these veterans and that the breach of the promise was shocking. Yet it could not force the government to act morally.

This is a Republican problem, remember that the House controls the purse strings of our government. The House decides what gets funded. And it has been a Republican House that for years has been screwing veteran's. A President can draw attention to a problem and possibly fix it but the House controls funding. Bush could fix this instantly but his administration has announced new policies or continuation of old policies harming veteran's. So why do over 90% of vet organizations support Bush? Because no Democrat of stature has called them on this. Get someone to speak up and blame Bush and the Republican House.
Daily Howler -- Two of the press corps finally admit their deep seated contempt of Gore

Two reporters have finally acknowledged the corps’ contempt, and they’ve said it went on “all along.” You could see it “eighteen months before the election,” Marshall correctly observed.

This first [presidential candidate] debate was discussed for weeks. It may have been the most remarkable event of the entire 2000 campaign. As three reporters later stated, the press corps booed and jeered Gore throughout the debate as they watched on TV in the press room (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/14/99).

The corps booed Gore throughout the debate. Three hundred scribes were there to see it. And no one wrote a column about it!

Why Gore isn't president - hostile and biased reporting.
LATimes -- The Military's New War of Words

In a policy shift that reaches across all the armed services, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and his senior aides are revising missions and creating new agencies to make "information warfare" a central element of any U.S. war. Some hope it will eventually rank with bombs and artillery shells as an instrument of destruction.

...A summary of the strategic capabilities plan and a raft of other Pentagon and armed forces documents made available to The Times make it clear that the new approach now includes ...: the management of public information, efforts to control news media sources and manipulation of public opinion.

Both the Air Force and the Navy now list deception as one of five missions for information warfare, along with electronic attack, electronic protection, psychological . attacks and public affairs. A September draft of a new Air Force policy describes information warfare's goals as "destruction, degradation, denial, disruption, deceit, and exploitation." These goals are referred to collectively as "D5E."

In order to do a better job of deception, the joint chiefs have issued a "Joint Policy for Military Deception" that directs the individual services to work on the task in peacetime as well as wartime.

Hiram Johnson: "the first casualty, when war comes, is truth." The terrorists claim more victims - the truth and the beleivablity of the government lies bleeding on the American homeland.
Canada Globe&Mail -- Uncle Sam and Big Brother

"It's the most extensive surveillance program in history," said Gabe Rottman, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is trying to derail the plan. "It's unprecedented. . . . Anything you want to know about anybody, you will find out.

A decade ago, Adm. Poindexter was convicted of five felony counts for lying to Congress under president Ronald Reagan during the White House's Iran-contra scandal, in which the admiral secretly sold missiles to Iran and used the profits to fund Nicaragua's contra rebels. The former national security adviser was sentenced to six months in jail for the illegal operation, though he was acquitted after a higher court ruled he was protected by an immunity deal in return for testifying.

"In some ways, Poindexter is the perfect Orwellian figure for the perfect Orwellian project," said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional-law expert at George Washington University.

"As a man convicted of falsifying and destroying information, he will now be put in charge of gathering information on every citizen. What is most astonishing is the utter lack of public debate over this project."

Since the 1970s, the United States has created dozens of laws aimed at protecting citizens from spying by government agencies.

Since Sept. 11, however, the White House has pushed through the Homeland Security and U.S. Patriot acts, sweeping laws that are challenging those privacy protections.

"As of today, the Attorney-General can suspend the ordinary requirements of the Fourth Amendment in order to listen in on phone calls, read e-mails and conduct secret searches of Americans' homes and offices," ACLU spokeswoman Ann Beeson

"This could change the presumption of innocence in the United States," Mr. Hoofnagle said.

When people are scared they trade liberty for security. They end up losing both.
Boston Globe -- Lobbyists aim for Homeland Security Department's millions

The bill approved this week to create a domestic security department offers high-tech companies a chance to share in at least $500 million a year in research and development grants.

The new department will give industry a front-row seat as it sets its priorities. The legislation calls for ''private sector advisory councils'' composed of industry and trade group representatives who will advise the department on security products, services, and policies.

The government's antiterror spending could reach into the billions in coming months - an enticing prospect for many companies as the faltering economy makes new business hard to find.

Dozens of companies have registered to lobby for domestic security contracts and grants in the past year, joining a long roster of businesses seeking military contracts.

This looks like a disaster instead of preventing "homeland" disasters.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Keillor "boycott" fizzles

Speaking of radio bullies, a gang of them in Minneapolis and St. Paul tried to instigate a boycott of Minnesota Public Radio, to punish Garrison Keillor for his Salon rants about Norm Coleman. They failed miserably, making no dent whatsoever in the record $1.7 million raised by the excellent network during their recent fund drive.

Joe Conason

Charles Moose, Chief of Police of Montgomery County, Md.,
was quoted in the 11/13/02 Washington Post on the public's
improved opinion of police after the sniper incidents:
"People have been very positive. They're waving at us with
all five fingers, and that does feel nice."
CNN Programs - Moneyline

Check the poll - is mainstream media conservative or liberal? - The Progressive & Populist Caucus of The Texas Democratic Party

More organizing in Texas.
The ShreveportTimes : With 13 days left, what difference do endorsements make?

To many, there's not a plug nickel's worth of difference between incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican Suzanne Haik Terrell, and there's not much of a chance that either one of them will say or do anything to change that.

A losing strategy for Landrieu - Democrats have to learn they have to draw clear differences.

The lastest Republican smear, which will be all over conservative media to get out the vote, is that Landrieu "threatened" the Republican Terrell. This is absurd but you can read for yourself:

Candidate debate has unfriendly end
SFChron: Feinstein to Demos: Time to get tough

"We haven't done near enough of a job tagging the Republicans," the senior senator from California said this past week while back home in San Francisco.

As a result, President Bush "was very much able to obfuscate on the whole issue of the economy with his pre-election push for national security issues," Feinstein said.

Now, she said, the time has come for the Democrats to step back up to the plate.

"We need to be the party that stands for a free, fair and open marketplace. We should be the ones who say if he doesn't appoint strong and full advocates for the commissions that oversee the marketplace, then we should filibuster and kill any appointments until he does."

California Democrats are urging her to throw her hat into the ring.
Salon -- Gored! The Salon Interview with Al Gore

Salon has three plans for you to view premium content, starting with free if you watch a very long ad. They have a reasonable subscription plan if you are willing to watch normal ads, or an ad-free subscription plan.

One answer from his interview concerning Bush's plan on Iraq and the war on terrorism:

I commend the president for changing the policy, at least the stated policy, and investing heavily in the United Nations, getting a unanimous vote in the Security Council, even Syria's vote -- I think that's an impressive accomplishment. I don't know what that really means for our policy, because apparently the rest of the world reads the resolution differently from the way we do, and it's unclear whether Secretary [of State Colin] Powell's temporary victory in the internal combat will prevail next week and the week after. You just don't know with this administration. But still, I think that this is a positive change.

I still disagree with the policy, however, on other grounds. I think that building an international coalition is a good thing. In San Francisco, I said that if you're going after Jesse James you need to organize a posse first, and I noticed in the newspaper this morning the president said in his remarks that he feels good to have organized a posse. But I think there's another significant factor that is a big problem for the country. He has lost focus on the war against terror. His decision, for whatever reason, to roll out a new product line after Labor Day, in the words of his chief of staff, and focus on a brand-new war in the run-up to the election had significant consequences.

Just look at what's going on now. FBI sources are telling the newspapers that the agency has lost focus. The CIA officials are telling the newspapers that precious resources needed for the war against terrorism are being diverted to war against Iraq. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said publicly that we're losing ground in Afghanistan. The director of central intelligence said al-Qaida's reconstituted itself and poses just as dire a threat to us right now as they did in the weeks immediately prior to Sept. 11. Osama bin Laden is back on the cover of Time magazine making regular threats to kill us.

And instead of directing the war against terror in a single-minded, focused way, the president has spent the last several months campaigning against Saddam Hussein, beating the drums of war, running ads against people like [Sen.] Max Cleland, [D-Ga.,] accusing him of being unpatriotic even though he lost three limbs on the battlefield. And two things have resulted from that: The Republicans have won both houses of Congress, and the nation has lost ground in the war against terrorism.

A short interview but worth reading.