Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Canada still liberal

Day care, health on Canadian premier's agenda

Martin's new minority Liberal government was the product of a last-minute surge of support, with surveys of voters leaving the polls showing that more than one in five made up their minds on Election Day. Many said they had turned away from Stephen Harper, the Conservative Party leader, because they feared he would overturn government policies supporting bilingualism, civil liberties and abortion rights.

The Liberals won only 36.7 percent of the popular vote.
That translated to 135 seats in the House of Commons, a sharp decrease from the number the Liberals won in three landslide victories since 1993, but far more than the 99 seats won by the Conservative Party. The separatist Bloc Quebecois will have 54 seats and the Labor-aligned New Democratic Party 19 seats. There will be one independent in the House of Commons.

Martin told reporters yesterday that he had no intention of including members of other parties in his Cabinet. But he said he was confident he would be able to find ample votes to increase federal aid to health care and expand a nationwide day care system like the one that is presently administered by the Quebec provincial government.

Leaders of both the New Democratic Party and Bloc Quebecois wasted no time in positioning themselves to maximize their influence on the next government. Both parties said they would try to increase federal spending on health care and housing and work to block any Canadian involvement in an American continental missile defense system.

Poor Man's Burden

Lula, Lulu, Lula

The Bush AWOL Scam

An Examination of the Bush Military Files

Someone else is having another go at examining Bush's military records that have not been scrubbed. This goes into great detail why Bush was technically a deserter.

For some of my posts on the subject see here or an incomplete list of my posts here.

Dean and Nader to Debate

NPR's Justice Talking hosts.

Friday, July 9, 2004 The National Press Club 529 14th Street, Washington, DC
Taping with live audience, 2:00 - 3:30 PM Media availability immediately following, 3:30 - 4:00 PM

Added - ABCNews - Nader, Dean to Debate if Ralph Should Run

News Survey

The Neocon Movement that William Simon built. Since the 70's over 350 conservative front tax-exempt organizations have been funded. The once derided 'crazies' of the right have become the establishment.

ACLU challenges nude teen camp ban

One in three Americans say they have too much freedom

GAO report released Tuesday finds that in the areas of electricity, the judicial system and overall security, Iraq is worse off than before the war.

Gen, Sanchez tried to attack Iran but was overruled.

ABC and NBC launched remarkably unbalanced attacks against Moore film.

Bush's War on Science By Howard Dean, M.D. In George Bush's America, ignorance is strength.

Out of troops, the first large-scale use of the Individual Ready Reserve since 1991 starts.

Hundreds of Cubans émigrés protest against U.S. government at Miami airport. Latest Rove election move to appeal to Cuban voters appears to be backfiring.

Supreme Court Rejects Yet Another Online Porn Law

Fahrenheit 9/11 prospers in Bush country.
(el - Will likely remain #1 until Spidey 2 knocks it over.)

Drug Prices Spike After New Medicare Law. Firms make up for discounts imposed.

Kristof - Bush 'exaggerates'.

Electronic Frontier Foundation to go after the top ten bad patents

Krugman - Iraq under Bush 'a case study of how not to run a country.'
Let's say the obvious. By making Iraq a playground for right-wing economic theorists, an employment agency for friends and family, and a source of lucrative contracts for corporate donors, the administration did terrorist recruiters a very big favor.

The elephant all over the room - By describing various parts – deregulation, media consolidation, pre-emptive war – Americans fail to grasp the problem as a whole: failed conservative politics.

With Republicans in control of the White House and both houses of Congress for the first time since 1952, more than ever, this election is a referendum on not only George W. Bush but on conservative policies. Without any meddling from pesky Democrats, Americans have finally gotten an opportunity to really take conservative policies for a test drive. No sharing of the spotlight, no diffusion of responsibility; at last, conservatives can finally take credit where credit is due.

Axis of Eve - Mission : Expose and Depose

"Do right and you will be conspicuous"--Mark Twain, 1901

"Let's expose the bastard, one panty at a time!"--axis of eve supporter

The Axis of Eve is a coalition of brazen women on a mission to EXPOSE and DEPOSE President Select George W. Bush and his deceitful administration. Convinced that effective political action can be irreverent and exciting, we have launched a titillating campaign of TRUTH-FLASHING coordinated around our provocative line of protest panties.

A wide selection of slogans in Mens and Womens underwear

More evidence for long human habitation in America - find in South Carolina could push date to more than 20,000 years ago.

Judge Says CIA Contractor Stays Jailed - Detainee Begged For Death
A federal judge Friday ordered former CIA contractor David Passaro to remain jailed until his assault trial after prosecutors said witnesses would testify Passaro beat an Afghan detainee so badly he begged to be shot.

Passaro faces four counts of assault and assault with a dangerous weapon — a large flashlight. Wali, who was 28, died at a U.S. base in Afghanistan on June 21, 2003.

Afghan Official Backs Off Suggestion That Heart Attack Killed Prisoner in CIA Case

Lawyer Says Prisoner Died of Heart Attack

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Texas Tuesdays

Rally and Supporting Candidates

I went Sunday afternoon to a Bay Area New Democrats rally at Armand Bayou Nature Center - "Mother Nature Son's - Kerry and Morrison Indoor Picnic." We got to wander around the nature center a bit.

Richard Morrison could not be there but the great Democratic candidate for the Texas Supreme Court, David Van Os, was. Texas now has a Supreme Court that is composed entirely of corporate judges who receive millions from large corporations and the law firms representing them. It is possible to tell how any case will be decided just by looking at the law firms on each side or just seeing the parties involved. They have yet to rule against a large corporation and always shaft the public. I hope to have more on this later.

Just remember "David Van Os is a fire-breathing populist Democrat."

Lefty Hootenanny from Galveston gave a great performance of their musical/comedy variety radio show "Brother can you Spare a Dime." Their name comes from King of the Hill - DALE: "Oh, man. What kind of lefty hootenanny is this?" Looks like over a hundred people enjoyed their show. I should also have more on them soon.

Meanwhile it is Texas Tuesdays and we are highlighting the Texas House races where there now looks to be a good chance the Democrats can take back control. Up today is Texas House 10: James "Jake" Gilbreath who at 21 is the youngest person running this year. He has an uphill battle but the incumbent has not served his majority low-income and middle-class district well at all.

A short interview with Gilbreath is here.

His opponent Rep. Jim Pitts and his subcommittee cut or considered cuts many educators opposed during the 2003 regular session including:
- cutting $15 million from state grants for expanded prekindergarten and kindergarten programs;
- cutting $17 million from funds dedicated to programs for teen parents;
- cutting $30 million from the Student Success Initiative funds for accelerated reading programs;
- cutting $50 million allocated for career and technology education;
- cutting $300 million from the compensatory-education allotment;
- cutting the entire discretionary budget for the commissioner of education;
- cutting funding for both educational service centers and the Windham schools in Texas prisons;
- eliminating funds for outside fund managers for the Permanent School Fund;
- eliminating dedicated funds for extended-year, after-school, and Communities in Schools programs;
- and cutting the staff of the Texas Education Agency.

Pitts also introduced legislation that would lower the age at which offenders would be eligible for the death penalty to 11. What a warm and friendly guy.

If you can afford to help defeat this man and support a new young Democrat for the Texas House make a contribution here. Please add $.36 to let it know it came from the Texas Tuesdays internet campaign. I would also encourage you to look at and contribute to the Morrison and Van Os campaigns.

Fahrenheit 9/11: An Ultra-Conservative Critique

Even the Wal-Mart Conservatives urge people to see the film.

I chatted with several other people as they left the theater, all of them roughly my age (early 40s) and of similar economic and cultural background. Each of them indicated that he or she would urge friends to see the film – which means that it will have "legs" even if the GOP and FEC were to choke off advertising somehow.

There were no screaming Bolsheviks (one viewer had an anti-animal rights T-shirt) or marijuana-scented bohemians in the crowd. This wasn't the sort of crowd you'd see at a Phish concert, or storming McDonald's at an anti-WTO rally. There were Wal-Mart customers, people who probably listen to country music (even Toby Keith), and even vote Republican. And they were PISSED – quietly, but palpably. As would-be political prisoner Martha Stewart would say, that's a good thing. And well overdue.

Mr. Nascar Urges Everyone To See Film

Verbatim from Chris Myers (Fox Sports announcer) on today's race at Pomona pre-race program..

"You think you know Dale Earnhardt Jr.? He advised his crew to go see the Michael Moore movie Farenheit 911. He said hey, it'll be a good bonding experience no matter what your political belief. It's a good thing as an American to go see... and it just shows you that Dale Earnhardt Jr. can reach far beyond the steering wheel."

Sung to the tune of Margaritaville:

Heads exploding off in Freeperville,

Looking for their lost Dale Earnhardt.
Some people claim that Michael Moore is to blame.
But I know, that it's George Bush's fault.

Don't know the reason
Bush's stayed here all season.
Nothin' to show but this brand new snafu.
It's a real cutie, an Iraqi beauty.
But how we got here, I haven't a clue.

Heads exploding off in Freeperville,
Looking for their lost Dale Earnhardt.
Some people claim that Michael Moore is to blame.
But I know, that it's George Bush's fault.

Bush blew out the surplus,
Hopped on a campaign bus,
Cut up his base, had to cruise on back home.
But there's booze in the blender,
And soon it will render
That frozen concoction that helps him hang on.

Heads exploding off in Freeperville,
Looking for their lost Dale Earnhardt.
Some people claim that Michael Moore is to blame.
But I know, that it's George Bush's fault.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

John Kerry is a Douchebag but I Am Voting For Him

Even Aggies have had enough of Dubya

The above is the low estimate and also does not count interest on the debt.

Movements to muzzle Michael Moore backfire

'Fahrenheit 9/11' Number One with less than 900 theaters!

Clarence Page - Chicago Tribune: Pollsters tell me that people tune in to radio conservatives to be entertained and to be informed, but more often than not, to be hardened even more firmly in their views. The preacher preaches, the choir listens.

All of which makes it even more amusing to me that so many people are trying desperately hard to put a muzzle on Moore's little movie, simply because they don't like its politics. Most of them seem to be people who usually complain the loudest about liberal "political correctness."

First Walt Disney Co. blocked its Miramax division from distributing the film. Disney did not want to offend its family-oriented audience with divisive politics, a spokesman said at the time. Yet Disney doesn't appear to mind broadcasting conservative voices like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on its radio stations like WABC-AM in New York.

Then, as Moore found new distributors and a lot of free publicity, a new group called "Move America Forward" drummed up a campaign to harass theater owners with phone calls into dropping the film. Created by a Republican public relations firm, the pro-Bush grass-roots movement grew out of the same letter-writing campaign that nagged CBS into dropping its TV movie, "The Reagans."

In response, the liberal is encouraging people to support the movie. It doesn't need much help.

Let's hear it for the free marketplace of ideas.

Then another conservative group called Citizens United found another target, the movie's ads, claiming they're political enough to violate new campaign-finance laws.

Granted, the ads don't make Bush look like the brightest bulb on the scoreboard. (el - see below.)

Citizens United, headed by David Bossie, author of an anti-Bill Clinton book, knows a lot about negative ads. The organization produced the famous "Willie Horton" ads against Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis in 1988 and the "Gennifer Flowers" ads against Bill Clinton in the 1990s. As grass-roots organizations go, this one appears to be rooted largely in Astroturf.

Fortunately, Moore's film and its ads probably fit under the law's exemption for news media. Or, at least, they should. If not, Citizens United will have done us all a favor, in my view, by exposing the law's questionable infringements on free speech to a wider audience.

This harassment from the right does not seem to trouble Moore much. "I am deeply concerned about whether or not the FEC [Federal Election Commission] will think I paid Citizens United to raise these issues," he told a reporter, with his tongue firmly in cheek. "How else can you explain the millions of dollars of free publicity this right-wing group has given the movie? I plan on sending them a very nice holiday card this year."

Send one for me too, Mike. After all, my family and I were eager to see your movie entirely because so many other people didn't want us to.

Now I cannot thank those would-be critics enough. The movie succeeded in its mission: It was funny, shocking, provocative, entertaining and occasionally tear-jerking.

Most important, when the curtain came down, that was not the end of the discussion. It was only the beginning.

el - KTRH, the popular all news radio in Houston, had the movie the topic of the day for listener comments Friday.

My favorite dumb comment was someone saying, "they must have animated and altered Bush's face to keep making him look so dumb."

;-) Sorry folks, that is your President in all his glory.

Cheney Defends Use Of 'Fuck You'

Cheney Fulfills Bush's Vow to Change The Tone In Washington

Vice President Cheney on Friday vigorously defended his vulgarity directed at a prominent Democratic senator earlier this week in the Senate chamber.

Cheney said he "probably" used an obscenity in an argument Tuesday on the Senate floor with Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and added that he had no regrets.
"I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it," Cheney told Neil Cavuto of Fox News. The vice president said those who heard the putdown agreed with him. "I think that a lot of my colleagues felt that what I had said badly needed to be said, that it was long overdue."

The forceful defense by Cheney came as much of Washington was discussing his outburst on the Senate floor in which a chance encounter with Leahy during a photo session in the usually decorous Senate chamber ended in colorful profanity. The obscenity was published in yesterday's editions of The Washington Post.

President Bush had made his vow to "change the tone in Washington" a central part of his 2000 campaign, calling bipartisan cooperation "the challenge of our moment."

"Our nation must rise above a house divided," he said in his victory speech in December 2000. "I know America wants reconciliation and unity. I know Americans want progress. And we will seize this moment and deliver."

Cheney said yesterday he was in no mood to exchange pleasantries with Leahy because Leahy had "challenged my integrity" by making charges of cronyism between Cheney and his former firm, Halliburton Co. Leahy on Monday had a conference call to kick off the Democratic National Committee's "Halliburton Week" focusing on Cheney, the company, "and the millions of dollars they've cost taxpayers," the party said.

In other hyprocrisy, the official Bush-Cheney website has a political ad called The Faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party and it shows people like Al Gore, Howard Dean, Al Gephardt and John Kerry morphing into HITLER! It starts with Gore in a speech, morphing into Hitler, with a crowd shouting "Seig Heil!". Watch before they pull it down. (Click the green "Watch!" button.)

The Bush-Cheney campaign, the GOP, and its supporters had earlier made much of a contest entry that compared Bush to Hitler a private citizen had created in contest to create political ads . That ad on the liberal political action committee's website was taken down within hours and not defended. This ad is on the official Bush-Cheney campaign's website .

(el - I am at another convention, not political, not sure when I'll catch up on postings)

Friday, June 25, 2004

Texas Democratic Convention Report

My Experiences and thoughts

I will busy at another convention this weekend so unless I do this now I won’t get to it. This will be a quick summary from notes.

One of the things redistricting messes up is internal party politics.
What brought this observation on was someone who appeared to be significant in his old district in 2000 but for the 2004 election had fewer friends and people who know him. This was not a DeLay redistricting problem but something that comes up every ten years. Moral, if there is something you really want to do make friends and get public notice quickly in your new district. If not someone else may really want to go to the national convention or take a position you want.

Texas has an 18-year-old presidential elector from my district. This probably doesn’t mean that much as if Bush doesn’t carry Texas he has to be carrying less than four states, or isn’t on the ballot. Still I think it makes a good statement that the party put him on the ballot.

There was a beautiful a cappella rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner that opened the main Convention. The American sign-language translation was also very graceful and quite lovely.

There was no state song or state pledge to the flag - Good. (The state pledge to the flag is something Texas schools have just started requiring for no good reason. Probably to promote state jingoism, pump up testosterone.)

The prayer that opened the convention went on forever and ever and ever – I am probably still standing there. At least it proves Democrats also have our very religious voters.

There were a huge number of delegates – the most ever. There was also the largest percentage of first-time delegates – the podium a couple of times said 80%, which seemed high to me. Still, my looking at the whole floor when first timers were standing seemed over half, maybe two-thirds. But our section of the floor and particularly our district seemed less than half. My ex-wife in the center said it seemed like more than 80%. Speaking of our district seating, we were off to the side where the lights were turned off, I am pretty sure not everyone could see all of our delegation in the dark.

A sad note, there was a slide show of Texas deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. It went on forever, could have been even longer than the opening prayer. The music that was going to play over the speakers had problems so they turned it off. Several times songs were started up from the floor – Battle Hymn of the Republic “My eyes had seen the glory” but I think no song, not even Ani Difranco's anti-Bush "Self- Evident" would have lasted long enough.

“My father always told me to vote and to always vote Democratic. If I didn’t I had no right to bitch when they screwed us.” That may have been from a Rosa Walker, my notes aren’t clear.

Senator Edwards gave a great speech. Even before he spoke there seemed a vast preponderance of sentiment for him to be the Democratic VP candidate. I had also seen him before in a small meeting. Very good speaker, very personable, JFK charisma, and he would attract moderate voters in swing states.

Representative Kucinich also gave a great speech. For the vast majority of Democrats at the convention his speech was even more rousing than Edward's was, which was hard to believe considering the tremendous reception and many standing ovations for Edwards. Of course, Kucinich spoke to our patriotic and idealistic ideals, not to our practical and electable sides. I feel Kucinich is correct but not practical until we move the country back to the middle. He is getting much support for next time. I don’t see how anyone should be a Green with Kucinich in our party and the support he has. As the Populists did in the late 1800’s the Greens should join the Democrats and work to support universal health care, sane environmental laws and incentives, instant runoff voting, and the other issues which are an urgent and pressing necessity.
“No More War, No More War, No More War.”

“With NASA, Houston can be a new center of technology for peace.”
The Texas Killer D’s were honored and fortunately Turner and other non-supporters like Whitmire didn’t speak. There really wasn’t a good place on the program for them and their positions were tremendously unpopular on the floor. This was not a divided party, no one supported them giving DeLay that easy of a victory in redistricting.

The most impressive seminar I went to was on Technology. This was the one with an Austin candidate, can’t find his name, who is using email with great success. His conclusion is that email is the present day key for cost effective political technology, not Internet websites. He does have his website and email guru, a college student he hired when an Internet consulting company wanted $20,000 for what he wanted to do. When the student told him he thought it would take a day to do what he wanted he was hired, it actually took a weekend. Something I should mention to the next politician I try to get a job from. I hit up a couple at the convention and ran into another geodemographics person looking for a job.

The Convention went way over time. Some of that was the problems with a rump caucus in one district because it appeared the rules weren’t followed when selecting delegates. Our district meeting before the Convention had problems because some articulate candidates wanted to go to Boston and people who had worked the phones and emails more had already sewed up the positions. The rejected candidates then had an objection to the way leaders of our district, which stretches across three counties, had recommended positions be assigned to each county instead of all positions being open to a district-wide vote. Technically, there were district-wide votes but the floor leader for each county nominated the candidate chosen by the county sub-caucus assigned that position and that person won the district-wide vote, sometimes in a run-off. There were other objections mainly due to the speed in which business was conducted. We were done before the floor convention started at 6 PM and many districts had to go back and finish business after 9 PM.

I got Dump Delay and Denton Democrat buttons. Pat, my ex-wife who is in another district, found the reasonably priced food (chili fries) and drinks (extra cans being sold for a half-dollar from a table) in the Convention Hall. I found the free food and drinks at the parties.

At the end of the Convention, we were waiting for the platform, the nominations for delegates to go to Boston and the resolutions. After what seemed a slow start on the resolutions they nearly all went the progressive’s way, nearly all by huge majorities. The most divided or closest vote I can remember was mandatory jail time if someone causes a death due to failure to yield in an accident. (The motorcycle clubs have gotten organized and joined the Democratic Party and lose too many people each year.) I have no idea how the final vote on that was; the chair seemed to say it passed after saying it failed or two previous calls. The other close votes were on medical marijuana, and a Department of Peace.

The party platform was very good, I speed-read before the vote, some divisive issues were only implied and not declarations. I would suggest that like the national party Texas should work on the platform and get it passed weeks before the convention. The language impressed me and so did the sentiments expressed.

I found out you can go and watch the debates and votes in the committees working on the resolutions, the platform and the delegate nominations even if you are not a member. I went and watched the end of the Boston nominations. Surprised how this was the big push among delegates, “We want to go to Boston.” The Muslim candidate I supported in our district was chosen as an alternate. Last Presidential election American Muslims mostly supported the GOP. They sure learned their lesson.

After the Convention I found my ex-wife and two other beautiful delegates and suggested we head to Kim Son Vietnamese restaurant. Food was good, (their tofu was better than Mai’s!) conversation was better. I’ve had better Kung Pao Chicken and the seafood was bland. One of the entrees was free due to Pat’s Entertainment book. Only needed three entrees for four people and we had leftovers. We stayed three hours just talking. I hadn’t seen Chris in years. Pat is working out ways to register more voters in her district and Janette is working out how to run for office. I am working out how to get a paying job.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Kerry and the religious vote

Kerry gets America and religion

The fact is, the religion gap in America is not a clear-cut black-white, Red-Blue situation. It's fuzzier than that.

For example, while Time found a majority (56%) agrees that "We are a religious nation, and religious values should serve as a guide to what our political leaders do in office," less than half (48%) say "the President should allow his personal religious faith to guide him in making decisions as President".

In that discrepancy -- the 8% that agreed with the former statement but not the latter -- probably lies the religious swing vote.

In fact, based on Election 2000 exit poll data, the swing is probably a little bigger than that.

Much of the media (not all) have pounded the notion that the majority of the nation is intensely devout, and those who are more secular are an elitist, out-of-touch minority.

But the 2000 electorate was evenly split between those who attend service weekly or more than weekly (42%) and those who attend seldom or never (42%).

About 60% of regular attendees went for Bush (not 100% mind you). The seldom/nevers were in the mid-to-high 50s for Gore.

How did Gore win the popular vote?

By edging out Bush (51%-46%) in the religious swing: the 14% of the electorate that attend services "monthly".

How the Republican Party sows ruin on the Great Plains

Lie Down For America

The poorest county in America isn't in Appalachia or the Deep South.
It is on the Great Plains, a region of struggling ranchers and dying farm towns, and in the election of 2000 the Republican candidate for President, George W. Bush,carried it by a majority of greater than 75 percent.

This puzzled me when I first read about it, as it puzzles many of the people I know. For us it is the Democrats that are the party of workers, of the poor, of the weak and the victimized. Figuring this out, we think, is basic; it is part of the ABCs of adulthood. When I told a friend of mine about that impoverished High Plains county so enamored of President Bush, she was perplexed. "How can anyone who has ever worked for someone else vote Republican?" she asked. How could so many people get it wrong?

Her question is apt; it is, in many ways, the pre-eminent question of our times. People getting their fundamental interests wrong is what American political life is all about. This species of derangement is the bedrock of our civic order; it is the foundation on which all else rests. This derangement has put the Republicans in charge of all three branches of government; it has elected presidents, senators, governors; it shifts the Democrats to the right and then impeaches Bill Clinton just for fun.

Not too long ago, Kansans would have responded to the current situation by making the bastards pay. This would have been a political certainty, as predictable as what happens when you touch a match to a puddle of gasoline. When business screwed the farmers and the workers- when it implemented monopoly strategies invasive beyond the Populists' worst imaginings, when it ripped off shareholders and casually tossed thousands out of work- you could be damned sure about what would follow.

Not these days. Out here the gravity of discontent pulls in only one direction: to the right, to the right, further to the right. Strip today's Kansans of their job security and they head out to become registered Republicans. Push them off their land and the next thing you know they're protesting in front of abortion clinic. Squander their life savings on manicures for the CEO and there's a good chance they'll join the John Birch Society. But ask them about the remedies their ancestors proposed- unions, antitrust laws, public ownership- and you might as well be referring to the days when knighthood was in flower.

Let us pause for a moment and gaze across this landscape of dysfunction. A state is spectacularly ill served by the Reagan-Bush stampede of deregulation, privatization, and laissez-faire. It sees its countryside depopulated, its towns disintegrate, its cities stagnate- and its wealthy enclaves sparkle, behind their remote-controlled security gates. The state erupts in result, making headlines around the world with its bold defiance of convention. But what do its revolutionaries demand? More of the very measures that have brought ruination on them and their neighbors in the first place.

This is not just the mystery of Kansas; this is the mystery of America, the historical shift that has made it all possible.

In Kansas the shift is more staggering than elsewhere, simply because it has been so decisive, so extreme. The people who were once radical are now reactionary. Although they speak today in the same aggrieved language of victimization, and although they face the same array of economic forces as their hard-bitten ancestors, today's rebels make demands that are precisely the opposite. Tears down the federal farm programs, they cry. Privatize the utilities. Repeal the progressive taxes. All that Kansas asks today is a little help nailing itself to that cross of gold.

Quick Takes

GOP trying to stop documentary films and advertising for them as political campaigning.

Why am I a Democrat?
As a 2004 high school graduate I am a Democrat because I see the cost of college tuition skyrocketing now more than ever under Republican leadership. I am a Democrat because I was raised on a small farm by my grandparents who could barely make it on social security and what little they do have goes to medicine and doctor bills.I am a Democrat because I don't believe Texas students in high school are getting the best education available to them. I am a Democrat because I care.

-Bobby Whittington

I am a Democrat simply because I believe that Democrats are taking on the important causes of equality, fiscal and social responsibility, the environment, and education. Democrats are fighting for the issues that face ALL Americans.

And Republicans? Well, they're just fighting.

-Allen Osburn
Petty Perry may call for special session in middle of Democratic Convention

Why prolong this insidious war? Gouge the economy? Rape the environment? Only one retort left - Because Dubya Said So!

Michael Isikoff and Newsweek Magazine Deceive the Public About Fahrenheit 9/11
el - Newsweek happens to have some good writers and editors who appear split down the middle about Bush. The magazine ends up with half the stories being strongly pro-Bush and half about as strongly anti-Bush. In most cases the magazine seemed to alternate weeks. Last year I liked it because domestically liberals had to take what we could get and half good stories was more than you could get elsewhere in a general news publication.
Continue Web Roundup here and here and here.

Texas Democratic Party Platform

In html - page one, page two, page three.

Whole document in pdf - 1.5 mb.

GOP platform in pdf 1.6 mb.

Award-Winning Hal Crowther Unloads

Hal Crowther

"If a spotted hyena stepped out of Air Force One wearing a baby-blue necktie, most Americans would salute and sing 'Hail to the Chief.'"

I never imagined 2004.
It would be sophomoric to say that there was never a worse year to be an American. My own memory preserves the dread summer of 1968. My parents suffered the consequences of 1941 and 1929, and my grandfather Jack Allen, who lived through all those dark years, might have added 1918, with the flu epidemic and the Great War in France that each failed, very narrowly, to kill him. Drop back another generation or two and we encounter 1861.

But if this is not the worst year yet to be an American, it's the worst year by far to be one of those hag-ridden wretches who comment on the American scene. The columnist who trades in snide one-liners flounders like a stupid comic with a tired audience; TV comedians and talk-show hosts who try to treat 2004 like any zany election year have become grotesque, almost loathsome. Our most serious, responsible newspaper columnists are so stunned by the disaster in Iraq that they've begun to quote poetry by Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen. They lower their voices; they sound like Army chaplains delivering eulogies over ranks of flag-draped coffins, under a hard rain from an iron sky.

Where does it go from here? The nightmare misadventure in Iraq is over, beyond the reach of any reasonable argument, though many more body bags will be filled. In Washington, chicken hawks will still be squawking about "digging in" and winning, but Vietnam proved conclusively that no modern war of occupation will ever be won.

The irreducible truth is that the invasion of Iraq was the worst blunder, the most staggering miscarriage of judgment, the most fateful, egregious, deceitful abuse of power in the history of American foreign policy. If you don't believe it yet, just keep watching. Apologists strain to dismiss parallels with Vietnam, but the similarities are stunning. In every action our soldiers kill innocent civilians, and in every other action apparent innocents kill our soldiers -- and there's never any way to sort them out. And now these acts of subhuman sadism, these little My Lais.

The shame of this truth, of such a failure and so much deceit exposed, would have brought on mass resignations or votes of no confidence in any free country in the world. In Japan not long ago, there would have been ritual suicides, shamed officials disemboweling themselves with samurai swords. Yet up to this point -- at least to the point where we see grinning soldiers taking pictures of each other over piles of naked Iraqis -- neither the president, the vice president nor any of the individuals who urged and designed this debacle have resigned or been terminated -- or even apologized. They have betrayed no familiarity with the concept of shame.

Impeachment is impossible when the president's party controls both houses of Congress, though Watergate conspirator John Dean, who ought to know, claims in his new book that there are compelling legal arguments for a half dozen bills of impeachment against George W. Bush. Peer pressure? At the White House, world opinion gets no more respect than FBI memos or uncomfortable facts. Many Americans seem unaware that scarcely anyone on the planet Earth supported the Iraq adventure, no one anywhere except the 40-50 million Republican loyalists who voted for George Bush in 2000.

Among significant world leaders he recruited only Great Britain's Tony Blair -- whose career may be ruined because most Britons disagree with him -- and the abominable Ariel Sharon, that vile tub of blood and corruption who recently used air-to-ground missiles to assassinate a paraplegic in a wheelchair at the door of his mosque. (Palestinians quickly squandered any sympathy or moral advantage they gained from this atrocity by strapping a retarded 16-year-old into a suicide bomber's kit. Such is the condition of the human race in the Middle East, variously known as the Holy Land or the Cradle of Civilization.)

The rest of the known world, along with the United Nations, has been dead set against us from the start. But they carry no weight. Thanks to our tax dollars and the well-fed, strong but not bulletproof bodies of our children -- though mostly children from lower-income families -- George Bush and his lethal team of oil pirates, Cold Warriors and Likudists commands the most formidable military machine on earth. No nation, with the possible exception of China, would ever dare to oppose them directly.

But the Chinese aren't coming to save us. Nothing and no one can stop these people except you and me, and the other 100 million or so American citizens who may vote in the November election.

One problem with this referendum is that the case against George Bush is much too strong. Just to spell it out is to sound like a bitter partisan. I sit here on the 67th birthday of Saddam Hussein facing a haystack of incriminating evidence that comes almost to my armpit. What matters most, what signifies? Journalists used to look for the smoking gun, but this time we have the cannons of Waterloo, we have Gettysburg and Sevastopol, we have enough gunsmoke to cause asthma in heaven. I'm overwhelmed.

"... It is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This 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 in every country."

Goering's dark wisdom gained weight when a friend called me and reported that Vice President Cheney was so violently partisan in his commencement speech at Westminster College in Missouri -- so rabid in his attacks on John Kerry as a anti-American peace-marching crypto-communist -- that the college president felt obliged to send the student body an email apologizing for Cheney's coarseness.

If you think it's exceptionally shameless for a man who dodged Vietnam to play the patriot card against a decorated veteran, remember that Georgia Republicans played the same card, successfully, against Sen. Max Cleland, who suffered multiple amputations in Vietnam. In 2001 and 2002, George Bush and his Machiavelli, Karl Rove, approved political attack ads that showed the faces of Tom Daschle and other Democratic senators alongside the faces of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. And somewhere in hell, Goering and Goebbels toasted each other with a schnapps.

Am I polarized? I've never been a registered Democrat, I'm sick of this two-party straitacket, I wish to God it didn't take Yale and a major American fortune to create a presidential candidate. The only current Democratic leaders who show me any courage are Nancy Pelosi and old Bob Byrd -- Hillary Clinton has been especially cagy and gutless on this war -- and John Kerry himself may leave a lot to be desired. He deserves your vote not because of anything he ever did or promises to do, but simply because he did not make this sick mess in Iraq and owes no allegiance to the sinister characters who designed it. And because his own "place in history," so important to the kind of men who run for president, would now rest entirely on his success in getting us out of it.

Kerry made a courageous choice at least once in his life, when he came home with his ribbons and demonstrated against the war in Vietnam. But Sen. Kerry could turn out to be a stiff, a punk, an alcoholic, and he'd still be a colossal improvement over the man who turned Paul Wolfowitz loose in the Middle East. The myth that there was no real difference between Democrats and Republicans, which I once considered seriously and which Ralph Nader rode to national disaster four years ago, was shattered forever the day George Bush announced his cabinet and his appointments for the Department of Defense.

I'm aware that there are voters -- 40 million? -- who don't see it this way. I come from a family of veterans and commissioned officers; I understand patriots in wartime. If a spotted hyena stepped out of Air Force One wearing a baby-blue necktie, most Americans would salute and sing "Hail to the Chief." President Bush cultivated his patriots by spending $46 million on media in the month of March alone. Somehow I'm on his mailing list. (Is that because my late father, with the same name, was a registered Republican, or can Bush afford to mail his picture to every American with an established address?) Twice a week I open an appeal for cash to crush John Kerry and the quisling liberal conspiracy, and now I own six gorgeous color photographs of the president and his wife. I'm sure some of my neighbors frame the president's color photographs and fill those little blue envelopes he sends us with their hard-earned dollars.

I struggle against the suspicion that so many of my fellow Americans are conceptually challenged. I want to reason with my neighbors; I want to engage these lost Americans. What makes you angry, neighbor? What arouses your suspicions? Does it bother you that this administration made terrorism a low priority, dismissed key intelligence that might have prevented the 9/11 catastrophe, then exploited it to justify the pre-planned destruction of Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with al Qaeda? All this is no longer conjecture, but direct reportage from cabinet-level meetings by the turncoat insiders Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill.

If the Pentagon ever thought Saddam had "weapons of mass destruction," it was only because the Pentagon gave them to him. As Kevin Phillips recounts in American Dynasty, officials of the Reagan and first Bush administrations eagerly supplied Saddam with arms while he was using chemical weapons on the Kurds. They twice sent Donald Rumsfeld to court Saddam, in 1983 and 1984, when the dictator was in the glorious prime of his monsterhood.

This scandal, concurrent with Iran-Contra, was briefly called "Iraqgate," and, yes, among the names of those officials implicated you'll find most of the engineers of our current foreign policy. (They also signaled their fractious client, Saddam, that it might be all right to overrun part of Kuwait; you remember what happened when he tried to swallow it all.) Does any of this trouble you? Does it worry you that Dick Cheney, as president of the nefarious Halliburton Corporation, sold Iraq $73 million in oilfield services between 1997 and 2000, even as he plotted with the Wolfowitz faction to whack Saddam? Or that Halliburton, with its CEO's seat still warm from Cheney's butt, was awarded unbid contracts worth up to $15 billion for the Iraq invasion, and currently earns a billion dollars a month from this bloody disaster? Not to mention its $27.4 million overcharge for our soldiers' food.

These are facts, not partisan rhetoric. Do any of them even make you restless? The cynical game these shape-shifters have been playing in the Middle East is too Byzantine to unravel in 1,000 pages of text. But the hypocrisy of the White House is palpable, and beggars belief. If there's one American who actually believes that Operation Iraqi Freedom was about democracy for the poor Iraqis, then you, my friend, are too dangerously stupid to be allowed near a voting booth.

Does it bother you even a little that the personal fortunes of all four Bush brothers, including the president and the governor, were acquired about a half step ahead of the district attorney, and that the royal family of Saudi Arabia invested $1.476 billion in those and other Bush family enterprises? Or, as Paul Krugman points out, that it's much easier to establish links between the Bush and bin Laden families than any between the bin Ladens and Saddam Hussein. Do you know about Ahmad Chalabi, the administration's favorite Iraqi and current agent in Baghdad, whose personal fortune was established when he embezzled several hundred million from his own bank in Jordan and fled to London to avoid 22 years at hard labor?

That's just a sampling from my haystack. Maybe I can reach you as an environmentalist, one who resents the gutting of key provisions in the Clean Air Act? My own Orange County, N.C., chiefly a rural area, was recently added to a national register of counties with dangerously polluted air. You say you vote for the president because you're a conservative. Are you sure? I thought conservatives believed in civil liberties, a weak federal executive, an inviolable Constitution, a balanced budget and an isolationist foreign policy. George Bush has an attorney general who drives the ACLU apoplectic and a vice president who demands more executive privilege (for his energy seances) than any elected official has ever received. The president wants a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage from homosexuals, of all things. Between tax cuts for his high-end supporters and three years playing God and Caesar in the Middle East, George Bush has simply emptied America's wallet with a $480 billion federal deficit projected for 2004 and the tab on Iraq well over $100 billion and running.

"A lot of so-called conservatives today don't know what the word means," Barry Goldwater said in 1994, when the current cult of right-wing radicals and "neocons" had begun to define and assert themselves. Goldwater was my first political hero, before I was old enough to read his flaws. But his was the conservatism of the wolf -- the lone wolf -- and this is the conservatism of sheep.

All it takes to make a Bush conservative is a few slogans from talk radio and pickup truck bumpers, a sneer at "liberals" and maybe a name-dropping nod to Edmund Burke or John Locke, whom most of them have never read. Sheep and sheep only could be herded by a ludicrous but not harmless cretin like Rush Limbaugh, who has just compared the sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners to "a college fraternity prank" (and who once called Chelsea Clinton "the family dog" -- you don't have to worry about shame when you have no brain).

I don't think it's accurate to describe America as polarized between Democrats and Republicans, or between liberals and conservatives. It's polarized between the people who believe George Bush and the people who do not. Thanks to some contested ballots in a state governed by the president's brother, a once-proud country has been delivered into the hands of liars, thugs, bullies, fanatics and thieves. The world pities or despises us, even as it fears us. What this election will test is the power of money and media to fool us, to obscure the truth and alter the obvious, to hide a great crime against the public trust under a blood-soaked flag. The most lavishly funded, most cynical, most sophisticated political campaign in human history will be out trolling for fools. I pray to God it doesn't catch you.

Hal Crowther is a former writer for Time and Newsweek, the Buffalo News and the North Carolina Spectator before parking his column at the weekly Independent in Durham, N.C., and The Progressive Populist, among others. He won the H.L. Mencken Award for column writing in 1992.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

"Win One For The Nippers"

Female German Soccer fans offer encouragement to their team.

In other Naked News, World Naked Bike Ride Day appears to go off without a hitch or a stitch.

"There were a few completely naked, a few topless. The Saturday afternoon bowlers certainly got a shock."

They did get some attention in Seattle.

"We saw a lot of swaying, but it wasn't of minds,"

The FBI send out a warning that included this as part of an "eco-terrorist campaign."

"We're just grateful it's not pogo sticks."

The Austin scene.

The lovely Suicide Girls blog: People over the face of the planet have celebrated World Naked Bike Ride Day on Sunday, except the lonely city of Edinburgh, Scotland, which celebrated "the world's first non-naked naked bike ride."

“It was truly ridiculous” organiser Lucy Anderson told the Sunday Herald. “The press coverage last week of what we were planning to do was very negative. When everyone turned up today just one girl took her top off, and she was told she would be arrested if she kept it off. Everyone did the route in their shorts.

Comments - Our "Naked Bike Ride Day" here in Asheville, NC involved about 15 clothed riders, followed by about 6 cop cars. A large police van awaited at their destination in case any of them arrived nude.

Blogs of the Toronto event. And some pictures.

Radio's Jon Matthews pleads guilty

Houston radio Clinton-hater accepts conviction of indecency with a child

Poet and Peacemaker Mattie Stepanek Dies

Facing the Future

Every journey begins
With but a small step.
And every day is a chance
For a new, small step
In the right direction.
Just follow your Heartsong.

by Mattie Stepanek

Mattie suffered from a hereditary disease called dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy. It is a rare form of muscular dystrophy that had already claimed the lives of his three older siblings (Mattie's mother, Jeni also suffers the same disease.) Mattie needed to take a portable oxygen tank on wheels with him wherever he went. During the summer he was confined to a bed in the intensive care unit of a children's hospital. Mattie was only able to move about on his motorized wheelchair. Even though he had been facing a terminal illness for the last six years, Mattie had never seen his condition as an obstacle between him and his goals.
-- My Hero

Teen's Advocacy, Poetry Touched Many Hearts

Mattie Stepanek : 1990-2004 "Remember to play after every storm."

Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek, 13, the cheerful, bespectacled child poet who charmed Oprah and sold more than 500,000 books of dreamy verse, died yesterday at Children's Hospital in Washington. He had a rare form of muscular dystrophy that affected his breathing, digestion and heart rate.

Mattie began reciting poems at 3, before he could write. His mother, Jeni Stepanek, who has the adult-onset form of the disease and who lost her three older children to it, took notes.

He told Larry King in February 2003 that he wrote almost every day. "How my mom describes it is I'm like a volcano," he said. "I either do nothing, thinking about when I'm going to do it, or I just burst, spurt out everything."

His first book of poems, "Heartsongs," was published in 2001 by VSP Publishers, a small Virginia publisher, and within weeks it shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, helped by his appearances on "Larry King Live," "Oprah" and "Good Morning America" and by an article in People magazine.

Four more books of poetry followed: "Journey Through Heartsongs," "Hope Through Heartsongs," "Celebrate Through Heartsongs" and "Loving Through Heartsongs." Some of his poems were set to music and released as an album of songs 14 months ago by Billy Gilman.

One page digest of Clinton Book

The Digested Bill Clinton
Slate reads My Life so you don't have to

Poll: Kerry ahead by 8 points

Following a slate of good news on all fronts Bush numbers continue to decline. If Nader doesn't run Kerry leads 53% - 45%, with Nader in the race Kerry leads 48% - 44% - 6%.

Ruy Teixeira has some analysis of recent polls, including the interesting Mother Jones results. Among other things he notes that the LA Times 13% Democrat lead in party identification may not be much of an outlier.

We Democrats and liberals may not be all that happy with public statements and positions from the Kerry camp this election as his major goal is to get the independent and swing voters. However, as Bush continues to sink in the polls that may be a non-issue as those swing voters want a change in direction and Kerry has more room to swing and point out the failures of the last four years.

The electoral vote polls are now leaning Bush's way - My DD has 274 - 264. The map shows why Edwards would be a good pick, to convert over the border states of the South. Richardson for the SouthWest states would be another good choice.

In a closer analysis, Kerry wins the popular vote by more than Gore and picks up one more state but still loses the electoral count. (However, it is still early yet and some of the trends are not in Bush's favor.)

I did not get a chance to intoduce a resolution calling for the President to be elected by direct popular vote at the State Convention.

Rev. Moon Crowned Mesiah, Hitler and Stalin See the Light

Blogger John Gorenfeld's story goes front page at the Washington Post.

More than a dozen lawmakers attended a congressional reception this year honoring the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in which Moon declared himself the Messiah and said his teachings have helped Hitler and Stalin be "reborn as new persons."

Details of the ceremony -- first reported by writer John Gorenfeld -- have prompted several lawmakers to say they were misled or duped by organizers. Their complaints prompted a Moon-affiliated Web site to remove a video of the "Crown of Peace" ceremony two days ago, but other Web sites have preserved details and photos.

Moon, 85, has been controversial for years. Renowned for officiating at mass weddings, he received an 18-month prison sentence in 1982 for tax fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice. In a 1997 sermon, he likened homosexuals to "dirty dung-eating dogs."

Among the more than 300 people who attended all or part of the March ceremony was Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), who now says he simply was honoring a constituent receiving a peace award and did not know Moon would be there. "We fell victim to it; we were duped," Dayton spokeswoman Chris Lisi said yesterday.

Other lawmakers who attended or were listed as hosts felt the same, she said. "Everyone I talked to was furious," she said.

Some Republicans who attended the event, including Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (Md.), said they did so mainly to salute the Washington Times, a conservative-leaning newspaper owned by Moon's organization. "I had no idea what would happen" regarding Moon's coronation and speech, Bartlett said yesterday.

But a key organizer -- Archbishop George A. Stallings Jr., pastor of the Imani Temple, an independent African American Catholic congregation in Northeast Washington -- said Moon's prominent role should have surprised no one. He said a March 8 invitation faxed to all lawmakers stated that the "primary program sponsor" would be the "Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), founded by Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, who will also be recognized that evening for their lifelong work to promote interfaith cooperation and reconciliation."

The event's co-sponsors were the Washington Times Foundation, the United Press International Foundation, the American Family Coalition, the American Clergy Leadership Conference and the Women's Federation for World Peace, according to the invitation. Stallings, a former Roman Catholic priest who was married in Moon's church, said Moon's association with those organizations is well known.

"You'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind to not know that any event that is sponsored by the Washington Times . . . could involve the influence, or the potential presence, of the Reverend Moon," he said.

Use of the Dirksen building requires a senator's approval. Dayton said he gave no such permission, and Stallings said the question of who did so is "shrouded in mystery."

Moon has claimed to have spoken in "the spirit world" with all deceased U.S. presidents, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed and others. At the March 23 event, he said: "The founders of five great religions and many other leaders in the spirit world, including even Communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin . . . and dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons."

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Texas Tuesdays - various State House races

Supporting the Texas Democratic candidate seeking to retake the Texas State House.

More reports from the State Convention, looks like I better hurry up with that interview.

One of the most interesting things for me were the fights over who would go to the national convention in Boston. These took place in the Senate District caucuses and in the committee meeting to decide the at-large seats.

I am running late to meet my brother for lunch.

New Call For Bush Impeachment

War Crimes

In light of the Defense and Justice Department documents, there is probable cause to believe that the commander-in-chief condoned the methodology of torture to secure information from prisoners.

The Constitution mandates the impeachment of a President for high crimes and misdemeanors. There is no higher crime than a war crime.
Willful killing, torture and inhuman treatment constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Convention, which are considered war crimes under The War Crimes Act of 1996. Even if Bush’s lawyers could successfully parse the meaning of torture, they cannot deny that the atrocities we’ve seen constitute inhuman treatment.

Bush impliedly admitted sanctioning willful killing, torture and inhuman treatment in his 2003 State of the Union Address. He would be liable under the doctrine of command responsibility for war crimes committed in Iraq as well. The captain goes down with his ship. It is time to call for the Impeachment of George W. Bush.

Supreme Court: Patients May Not Sue HMO's Under State Laws

When campaigning for President, Bush lied and took credit for the Texas law providing a "patient's bill of rights" permitting law suits against HMO's for not providing necessary treatments. His justice department was directed to oppose the Texas law and the GOP and the White House has been unwilling to support a federal law.

7 of 9 in GOP Sex Scandal

Candidate For Senator Hurt by Sex Revelations

Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Jack Ryan of Chicago began publicly trying to salvage his candidacy Tuesday, defending his character and calling the uproar over allegations that he urged his then-wife to have sex in front of others "a new low for politics."

Calls for Ryan to exit the race came almost immediately after the revelations, contained in court documents stemming from his divorce from former "Star Trek: Voyager" and "Boston Public" actress Jeri Lynn Ryan, were made public late Monday.

Jeri Lynn Ryan charged during a custody hearing that Ryan took her on surprise trips to New Orleans, New York and Paris in 1998, and that he insisted she go to sex clubs with him on each trip.

She said that after going out to dinner with Ryan in New York, he demanded that she go to a club with him.

"It was a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling," she said. She said Ryan asked her to perform a sexual act while others watched, and she refused.

She said they left and Ryan apologized to her and said it was out of his system. But then, she said, he took her to Paris and again took her to a sex club.

She said she cried and became physically ill at the club, and her husband got angry with her. She said she could never get over that incident.

She also accuses him in the papers of being controlling and lying repeatedly throughout the proceedings.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Sunday Talk Show Breakdown

LiberalOasis has the weekly recap. This week the 9/11 Commission members fanned out to try to provide some support for the Bush administration but ended up contradicting Bush and Cheney statements at every stop.

Michael Moore Wants To Bring Down A President

MICHAEL MOORE is not coy about his hopes for "Fahrenheit 9/11," his blistering documentary attack on President Bush and the war in Iraq. He wants it to be remembered as the first big-audience, election-year film that helped unseat a president.

"And it's not just a hope," the Oscar-winning filmmaker said in a phone interview last week, describing focus groups in Michigan in April at which, after seeing the movie, previously undecided voters expressed eagerness to defeat Mr. Bush. "We found that if you entered the theater on the fence, you fell off it somewhere during those two hours," he said. "It ignites a fire in people who had given up."

Fever Pitch, Houston has no equal among warmongers

WAR Fever - why do more Houstonians hanker to solve problems with violence?

According to the author of an eight-month survey conducted by the University of Texas, Houston suffers from an acute case of "war fever."

People with that affliction might be good citizens, says Dr. Alfred McAlister, but they have come to accept using tanks and guns to solve problems. "We found that in the U.S.A., these attitudes were strongest in the Houston area," says McAlister, a behavioral scientist at the UT School of Public Health in Houston. "People in Houston are generally more likely to accept justifications for war, like the idea that it is okay to make war to increase our economic security."

McAlister offers a version of his survey questionnaire on the Web site The site has already sparked controversy, especially after e-mails were sent to Houston medical students encouraging them to try the test.

One student took exception to the term "war fever," which McAlister gleaned from a statement made by Secretary of State Colin Powell shortly before the Iraq war. The student reposted the invitation on his blog, writing after the term, "this is an obvious attempt to label those who won't fellate terrorists as mentally sick."

Political implications aside, researchers say the theories McAlister has employed to design and interpret his survey are not controversial, at least not in the world of academia. "I have not run across any serious critiques of the approach anywhere," says sociology professor Lester Kurtz, an authority on peace studies at UT-Austin. "My guess is it would be more likely to be controversial to the general public -- which you would hope, because the whole reason we do this stuff is to make people think and debate."

War Test - When is military action justified?

Kill test - Is killing ever right?

el - The Texas Democratic Party passed a resolution calling for the creation of a United States Department of Peace.

Bush, Osama, and Clinton Alike

Dowd - It's a Guy Thing - Because They Could

Sunday, June 20, 2004

TIME Breaks Silence - Male and Female Rapes At Iraq Prison

Time seems to be the first to bring to the American public the rape charges at Abu Ghraib.

Newsweek: 9/11 Comission believes Cheney lied to it

Cheney Was Really In Charge

Cheney said that Bush gave an order to shoot down hijacked airplanes. Evidence contradicts that, Cheney gave the order alone. Angry White House forces watered-down report. Angry staffers leak the real story.

el - Look, Cheney is in charge of this country and every insider's report that has come out reconfirms this. Bush rubberstamps Cheney's decisions. The VP picked the cabinet, fired a cabinet level officer (didn't even go through the President), made the decision to go after Iraq, made the final decision to go to war, told the president where to go on 9/11, pushed the wealthy tax-cuts, and decided how post-war Iraq would be governed and who would get the contracts.

Other Reports from Texas State Dem Convention

I am too tired to do my report, and may not get to it tomorrow because of other plans but I can link to others. I did not get out until after 6:30 PM and I then went with three very attractive and intelligent ladies to Kim Son Vietnamese restaurant where we stayed talking until after 10 PM. Long days, but I did drop off several resumes and had several conversations about positions.

Typically the Houston Chronicle, where the convention is being held, buried the first day below the fold in the local section and carried a non-story tortured headline "Democrats debate party loyalty at convention." There was no debate, people only wanted to hear Texas D's speak. The Chronicle headlines the only debate about this in the home district of both members. There are thirty-one districts. This minor matter apparently was made the headline and top of the article to move U.S. Senator Edwards electrifying speech back to page b36. Today, as of very early Sunday morning, they are only carrying a short AP story - "seemed more like a peace rally today" of the close of the convention.

The Free State Standard shows why the AP story was only somewhat slanted - "I did get to hear Dennis Kucinich speak. I was quite surprised at the number of Kuchinich supporters at the convention. However, he is so energetic and has such a powerful message I can see why his delegates are so devoted. Lots of folks were walking around with peace-related banners, and the atmosphere was totally electric."

Here is a more reasonable story of the first day from the San Antonio Express: VIP ... or VP?: Edwards energizes Texas Demos.

Houston Cable News has better reporting than the Chronicle, "the only metropolitan newspaper to never win a Pulitzer": Party faithful believe anger and resentment spawned by the redistricting fight could lead to some upsets in November.

Bloggers: Aggro mentions the poor technology workshop. I attended the later good one. Sarah also thinks Edwards would make a great VP, as did about everyone at the convention. Greg's Opinion: What a grind. There is more about the convention on his blog. Burnt Orange Report notes: "even though there are no "Dean" delegates, Dean people will make up around 1/4 of the Texas Delegation to Boston in July, around 75 people." I will note that there was the largest percentage of first-timers at a Democratic State Convention, some reports I heard from the platform say 80%, which seemed high for my district (maybe 30-40%) although others said that 80% was about right for theirs.

Partly why the convention got out hours late. Vince also does some name dropping and has a conversation with candidate Jim Nickerson. (I have a surprise email interview coming up.) I seem to always miss the blogger meetings - check out this one at the convention. Morrison said: "the DeLay scandals have upset a lot of Republicans who generally support limited government." Off the Kuff had some of the best linkage about the convention.

From my reading and understanding of Texas political history this was the most moderate and liberal Democratic convention ever and produced a great platform and resolutions. When the Democratic platform gets posted online it will invite a side-by-side comparison with the Republican party platform which seems written by the John Birch Society.

Something happened to the journalist blog that was supposed to occur.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Advice to Kerry - The Country Wants Change, Tell What You Would Do

The Unhappy Majority

Senator Kerry:

Ordinarily, as a challenger, your first job would be to get the voters inflamed about the way they've fared under the incumbent. According to the Mother Jones poll, you can dispense with this step. The voters are plenty angry. Sixty-two percent of Americans feel that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Among single Americans, that number is 73 percent. And among African-Americans, it's an astonishing 95 percent.

Indeed, the poll shows the country edging past anger into rage, or benumbed hopelessness. Sixty-four percent of Americans see the country as more divided than ever before, and only 18 percent expect that divide to lessen in the years ahead. Among those few optimists, the largest bloc think things have got to get better — because there's no way they could get any worse!

Senator, you don't need to convince Americans that change is necessary. They know that. They want change. What they don't know is what the change should look like, or who they can trust to deliver it.

There are two models for building a coalition in a time of need. One way is to tell people that their land is under siege, that they have to run to the castle, raise the drawbridge, and make sure the moat is filled with snapping crocodiles. This is the politics of culture wars and racial animosity. Mother Jones poll data suggests that an element of the conservative coalition — surely not all conservatives, but a significant element — are dissatisfied with their lives in some way and, rather than seek true causes, chooses to blame gays, women, and minorities. [el - and Democrats and liberals.] The "moat and crocodile" strategy provides an illusory enemy and an illusory solution.

The other way to build a coalition — progressive, instead of stagnant; inclusive, rather than restrictive; realistic, not illusory — is to show people that there's a train headed for a better life, that it's your train, and that everybody is welcome to climb aboard.

The MOJO Poll - We are currently headed in the Wrong Direction

Take the poll

See Results

News Summary

I will be at the Texas State Democratic Convention and don't know how often I can blog. Here are a few sources to tide you over.

The Hamster

Left Wing Truth - BuzzFlash

Official truth - Most popular New York Times

Insider truth - Most popular Washington Post

Truth for the masses - Most popular Yahoo news

Real Insider Truth - Most popular web links Most current news links

Political Truth - Teagan's Political Wire and links to some blog reports

Left Political Truth - Daily Kos and Diaries, The Democratic Underground, and

The Anti-Bush Truth - The Smirking Chimp.

Popular Web Truth - Day Pop's News and All Sites

Political News Journalists Truth - The Note and Noted Now

Alternative Truth - Common Dreams, Alternet, OpEd News, The Drudge Retort, The Raw Story, The Progressive Review with Undernews, and my local IndyMedia.

Right Wing Truth - The Drudge Report

All the Truth In Print For The Masses - Google News

All the Truth that's online, somewhere - Google

Why should you have a life while I'm away?

About Time

The New York Times says Bush was lying and should apologize.

On Monday, Mr. Cheney said Mr. Hussein "had long-established ties with Al Qaeda." Mr. Bush later backed up Mr. Cheney, claiming that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist who may be operating in Baghdad, is "the best evidence" of a Qaeda link. This was particularly astonishing because the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, told the Senate earlier this year that Mr. Zarqawi did not work with the Hussein regime.

Mr. Bush is right when he says he cannot be blamed for everything that happened on or before Sept. 11, 2001. But he is responsible for the administration's actions since then. That includes, inexcusably, selling the false Iraq-Qaeda claim to Americans. There are two unpleasant alternatives: either Mr. Bush knew he was not telling the truth, or he has a capacity for politically motivated self-deception that is terrifying in the post-9/11 world.

Now President Bush should apologize to the American people...

el - I've discovered the Times should be read to find out what is the concensus of official thought, it is our official truth paper. You can disagree with it and it often goes off track but it is what the establishment believes to be true or more accurately believes should be presented as being true.

The Stakeholder finds the text of the big lie he told Congress and notes him lying today: ""This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda."

Kerry Gets Into Campaign Mode and Kicks Bush's Butt

Kerry as Superman Campaigner

Who Was That Guy In The Cape?

It's as if while we weren't looking John Kerry stepped into the phone booth as Clark Kent and emerged as Superman. Yes, at least for one day anyway, Kerry, master of convoluted context, numbingly nuanced non-answers, and perpetually polysyllabic pentameters, has, voila! turned into a smash-and-slash, take-no-prisoners stump speaker.

A startled political press took note of the transformation in its coverage today. The Washington Post's Lois Romano described Kerry's speech to 800 union members gathered in Atlantic City as "passionate" and "populist."

Romano cited this portion of Kerry's remarks: "I'm running for president to put America back to work...I'm running for president because health care is not a benefit just for the wealthy or the elected or the connected...I'm running for president because I know that we could be a hell of a lot stronger in the world if we were to secure our freedom..."

Both the Boston Globe's Glen Johnson and the New York Times' Robin Toner sat upright for another part of Kerry's sizzling New Jersey speech:

"Our tax code has gone from 14 pages to 17,000 pages. Any of you get your own page? Enron's got its own page. Exxon's got its own page. Looks to me like Halliburton's got its own chapter."

Romano writes that the new Kerry is clearly inteded to address critics in his party who find him aloof and elitist and to attract dissatisfied Republicans and swing voters seeking a reason to vote for him.

el - I could grow to like this candidate.

NYTimes: "We all know that the middle class built this country," he told a cheering convention of the New Jersey A.F.L.-C.I.O., meeting in Atlantic City Tuesday. "Franklin Roosevelt understood that, and so did Bill Clinton."

"But for nearly four years now," he said, "Washington has ignored the middle class, putting wealth ahead of work, something for nothing ahead of responsibility, and what's right for the few ahead of what's right for America."

The Air Force has a long-delayed reckoning

The Air Force had the most comprehensive and startling failure of 9/11.

el - Does this mean someone is finally going to look into who was placed in charge of the national Air National Guard by Bush as a reward for destroying Bush's military records?

Hullabaloo on the Partisan War

TNR, only available by subscription, had a very interesting article by Peter Beinert. Now Peter as an editor of the New Republic converted a liberal political magazine into a mouth organ of the neoconservative movement - that the United States had a mission to rule the world for the good of the world and to spread democracy. He also even opposed listening to the military generals in the Pentagon as "over and over during the '90s, the generals with firsthand battlefield experience guessed wrong--and the civilians without it guessed right--about what would happen when the United States went to war."

Well, now Peter admits he was wrong, but only wrong to trust Republicans. Hullabaloo blogs him writing: This was a partisan war. By partisan, I don't mean that it was led by Republicans. It was partisan in the sense that the people who formulated it prized group loyalty above all else. They divided the world, the country, and even their own administration into people who could be trusted and people who could not. And, unfortunately, the people who could be trusted knew much less about how to build democracy in Iraq than the people who could not. ... For conservatives, the right lesson of Iraq is that, if you apply a loyalty test to this country's best sources of knowledge--the academy, the press, and the government itself--you'll lose the war on terrorism through sheer ignorance. For liberals, the lesson is to see conservatives as they are, not as you'd like them to be. I'll try to remember it next time.

Digby of Hullabaloo adds his own thoughts: The modern GOP lives in a little world of its own, made even more parochial by the advent of its own media infrastructure. The people who are in charge are second rate thinkers who rose to the top because the pool was so small to begin with.

In America today, there is no such thing as bipartisanship. It didn't have to be this way, but it is. The Democrats compromised with the other side until they came this close to selling their souls and got nothing but the boot on the neck in return. They can go no further.

el - I would prefer all the neoconservatives were in the GOP camp instead of polluting the Democratic Party. The Pax Americana doctrine was fundamentally, morally, strategically, and historically wrong.

Rep. Chris Bell Files Ethics Charges Against DeLay

A seven-year-old unofficial truce discouraging House members from filing ethics complaints against one another disintegrated Tuesday when a freshman Democrat accused one of the most powerful members of Congress, the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, of "bribery, extortion, fraud, money laundering and the abuse of power."

The Democrat, Representative Chris Bell of Texas, who is leaving Congress because he lost a primary election, filed a 187-page complaint against Mr. DeLay, also of Texas, with the House ethics committee. The complaint accuses the majority leader of illegally soliciting campaign contributions, laundering campaign contributions to influence state legislative races and improperly using his office to influence federal agencies.

I hadn't had anything Green in a while

Here is their leading candidate on the Democratic party and John Kerry

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

This could be big

Most of Those New Jobs Reported Are Imaginary

The BLS changed their method of calculating new jobs and won't know how accurate it is until next year. They decided everytime a business closed a new business opened they hadn't counted and their has been a sharp rise in business closings. Possibly 85% of the new jobs claimed to have been created since March 2003 are imaginary.

Bush asserts al Qaeda, Saddam link???

This is just getting silly.

President Bush repeated his administration's claim that Iraq was in league with al Qaeda under Saddam Hussein's rule

No Evidence Connecting Iraq to Al Qaeda, 9/11 Panel Says

Here is a clue - look up al-Zarqawi lies on Google. There are over 10,000 hits mostly on how Bush and Cheney lie about al-Zarqawi to try to establish a link with Saddam and al-Qaeda.

Maybe someone should send Bush and Cheney reporters here. "Google is your friend."

Natasha Makes The Call

On the phone with 'political consultants' hired to work against Michael Moore

After all the discussion of the organization that's agitating to keep Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 out of theatres, I thought I'd try to talk to the people at Russo Marsh + Rogers.
So I call them up and ask to speak with their media representative to ask a couple questions about the firm, and I was told to leave my information and expect a callback.

Then I called the phone number for Move America Forward, and a polite young man comes on who instantly recognized my voice as I started to talk. It's the same person who answered the phone when I called the RM+R number. For a minute I thought I'd dialed wrong, apologized for calling back again, and said goodbye. But I hadn't dialed wrong.

So a little while later, Siobhan Guiney from MAF calls me back. (From her MAF bio: "She has worked as a legislative advocate fighting for the people against liberal corruption.")

...Guiney further denied that any RM+R employees did work for MAF on company time, or that they had any involvement in the organization. But after she'd completely denied the possibility of involvement, she volunteered that some group had falsely accused RM+R of being a GOP PR firm. I said it looked like they did most of their work for the GOP, and asked her what was wrong with being a GOP PR firm. She said that they were political consultants, and not really a PR firm.

el - So they are being paid as political consultants for this campaign? Hmmm... Also movie boycott campaigns always seems to increase attendence. Maybe I should call and ask her if she is aware she is helping to get publicity for this film.

Stories Today

David Brooks journalist vs. David Brooks hack

Turnabout is fair play, Contact numbers of the GOP hacks providing contacts for Movie Theaters to urge them not show Fahrenheit 9-11. Also here. Or many people are using the contact numbers to urge movie theaters to show the movie.

Room 101 For his dystopia, 1984, his classic novel of totalitarianism, George Orwell created "Room 101," an interrogation room where a prisoner's deepest fears were to be realized and applied. Tier 1 in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, as the now-infamous photos indicate, was the Bush administration's Room 101 for the "Arab mind," and so the crown jewel of its global interrogation facilities.

9/11 Panel can find no evidence of al-Qaeda, Iraq link for attacks. Bluntly contradicting the Bush administration particularly the vice president.

Torture, Incorporated - Many US contractors for lucrative torture business.

US Poll - Iraqis angered by abuse, worried about safety, want us to leave. Winning the hearts and minds has failed.

A guest blog from the Max Sandlin campaign

Salon: Ron Reagan Jr. on Bush White House - "these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people."

The Reagan family feud with Bush. "What's his accomplishment? That he's no longer an obnoxious drunk?"

Amy Sullivan, who is becoming our best writer on liberal politics and religion, on Jesus Christ Current SuperStar. "Reclaiming some of the Christian market would cut into the profits of Tim LaHaye and Mel Gibson; provide a richer interpretation of Scripture; fatten the bottom lines of Hollywood and New York, and just might save American politics, to boot. Amen."

So Torture Is Legal? ...if the voters can't move the politicians, and the politicians aren't courageous enough to act alone, we may wake up one morning and discover that torture has always been legal after all.

A Moral Chernobyl - Prepare for much worst from Abu Ghraib.

Amy Sullivan - Democrats shouldn't be scared of religion. One-half of Democratic voters attend church regularly. And their platform is a good reflection of mainstream religious values. They just need to learn better ways to talk about it.

Lone Star Justice - Alberto Gonzales' strange parochial views of international law. Bush wants him for the Supreme Court.

David Winer cuts off 3,000 bloggers without warning.

The Bush two-step: moral clarity vs legal niceties. By their own words, this administration on torture.

The People's media reaches more people than Fox does. "We paid $3 billion for these television stations," said an executive with a Fox affiliate in Tampa. "We decide what the news is. The news is what we tell you it is." Thousands of hardy grassroots people have been working steadily and creatively over the years in every area of the media, and the result of their combined efforts is that a new media force is now flowering from coast to coast—a force consisting of hundreds of media outlets that are unabashedly progressive, fiercely independent, diverse, dispersed, and democratic. Collectively, they are a force to be reckoned with, celebrated, strategically deployed? and deliberately expanded.

Summer job hunt - Less than 37 percent of youths are expected to find work this summer, teenagers face the bleakest job market in nearly 60 years.

Dating in Manhatten, legal papers served for not going out on a second date.

GOP slipping Patriot Act 2 into law

On Sale At AmazonPressure Group Puts Heat on 'Fahrenheit' "Any time any organization protests against a movie, they ensure that the movie will do better at the box office than it would have done otherwise. If they have any doubt about this, just ask Mel Gibson."

What more do you want? How about Naked Happy Girls at 30% Off.

League of Women Voters drops support of paperless voting machines

Fair and balanced from the Right - Mike Savage: "Well there's a big difference between fighting for civil rights, and fighting for homosexual marriage, you moron. It's a big difference for fighting for the equality of all men, despite their race, and fighting for perversion, you idiot! You think people are stupid?" Just your listeners Mike, just your listeners.