Monday, January 31, 2005

The DeSoto Delusion - Libertarianism

Peruvian Economist Hernando de Soto's ideas for helping the poor have made him a global celebrity. Now, if only those ideas worked. … The difference between libertarianism in theory and in practice. This is similar to where I point to Lebanon, Somalia, Liberia as examples that show where no gun control doesn't make for a more polite society but for a gang-ruled society.

Health and Security Overhaul Is Underway

GOP fast tracking health accounts for the well-off.

Probably the last Democratic president who held views roughly similar to President Bush's was Grover Cleveland in the late 19th century. Cleveland embodied the resistance to activist government that dominated the Democratic Party through its first century and fuels the GOP today. But Bush and the GOP try to play up weak links to Democratic Presidents.

GOP has wanted to privatize Social Security for years. All that government mandated gambling with their supporters getting 'the vig'.

Iraqis await results

Turnout estimate drops to over 50%, a bit down from Fox news of over 80%. "With foreign monitors mostly staying away for fear of kidnapping, it was impossible to assess the fairness of the election or accuracy of the turnout estimates."

Olbermann subject to crabbie panties attack

The news figure who covered the SpongeBob gay fiasco was subjected to repeated Focus on the Family email attacks but keeps winning the battle.

The Next War - Iran

UPI reports US Air Force probing Iranian defenses.
"These Iranian air defense positions are not just being observed, they're being 'templated,'" an administration official said, explaining that the flights are part of a U.S. effort to develop "an electronic order of battle for Iran" in case of actual conflict.

How little they learn

Besotted Blog from the NY Times, September 4, 1967:

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote: Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The continued decline of our Pravda on the Hudson

Somebody's job should be to catch book reviewers who don't understand or don't accurately present the books they are reviewing, and pull their reviews before they hit the press.

GOP lies about filibusters

Fact filled article by Kevin Drum (

Occupation Waltz

"On and on it went, year after blood-soaked year. Time and again, I would reach out with the open hand of friendship and time and again, they would slap it away.

"They were blind, ignorant fools. They couldn't see that if they had only chosen to cooperate with us, we could've turned their world into a paradise. From the moment we arrived on Bajor, it was clear that we were the superior race. But they couldn't accept that. They wanted to be treated as equals when they most definitely were not. Militarily, technologically, culturally -- we were almost a century ahead of them in every way.

"We did not choose to be the superior race, fate handed us our role. It would've been so much easier on everyone if the Bajorans had simply accepted their role. But no! Day after day they clustered in their temples and prayed for deliverance, and night after night they planted bombs outside our homes.

"Pride. That's what it was. Stubborn, unyielding pride. From the servant girl that cleaned my quarters to the condemned man toiling in a labor camp to the terrorist skulking through the hills of Dahkur Province, they each wore their pride like some twisted badge of honor.

"Of course I hated them! Their superstitions and their cries for sympathy, their treachery and their lies, their smug superiority and their stiff-necked obstinacy, their stupid earrings and their broken noses -- Yes I hated them, I hated everything about them!

"I should've killed every last one of them and turned their planet into a graveyard the likes of which the galaxy had never seen!"

SISKO (quiet)
"And that... is why you're not an evil man?"

 STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE -  "Waltz" by Ronald D. Moore

el - Occupation harms the occupier as well as the occupied. It is a lesson that even those who were in the occupied position forget when they become the top dog. In fact, a group that has been occupied may have a stain on their soul for generations, much like those who grow up abused often become abusers. The American Southerners who make up the bulk of the U.S. military and the Israeli leaders may be current examples.

Democrats Standing Up

In a pre-emptive strike before President Bush's State of the Union address, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid called on the administration Monday to outline an exit strategy for Iraq while his House counterpart vowed lasting opposition to Social Security benefit cuts.

Barbara Boxer new hero to party grass roots

Gov. & Dr. Dean getting large crowds
and leading the Dem spokesman race. Dean is picking up important endorsements.

Leading Democrats bash SS plan

Bush astounds Black politicians with his ignorance of Voting Rights Act

This is important because the GOP is indoctrinating a new generation that the 1st Amendment goes to far.

From a Charles Aulds email
Well, it should probably come as no surprise, my having been a Republican all my life (until a couple of years ago), but I had never heard of Barbara Boxer, at least enough to recognize her name, until these confirmation hearings ... I was surprised to learn she's been a Senator for more than a decade, and (as you said) has always been just the person we saw ... standing on principle, without regard to the outcome.

I'll tell you something ... conservatives are moving to "correct" what's wrong with this Administration, and to preserve their power. I believe that, if the Democratic Party wants to continue to appeal to voters, particularly those who consider themselves moderate, or even conservative, we need to encourage, support, and choose candidates with fire. This party will never be conservative enough to attract a large number of Republicans ... but strong men and women of principle, unafraid to speak out and stand up, will always find support (at least, let's hope for the sake of the nation, that's true).

Howard Dean made me a Democrat; and I realized that I've always held views that should be those of all Democrats ... basically, that we protect and we defend our own liberties by protecting and defending those of others; the Republican Party has become all about who can be excluded from equal protection and justice under the law. That's unAmerican, at least as I understand our Constitution.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Next Generation

I was born that way.
I have had those feelings...
those longings... all my life.
It is not unnatural. I am not
sick because I feel this way.

I do not need to be helped, and
I do not need to be cured. What
I do need -- what all of those
like me need -- is your
understanding and your compassion.

We do not injure you in any way.
And yet we are scorned, and
attacked. And all because we are

What we do is no different from
what you do. We talk and laugh...
we complain about work and we
wonder about growing old... we
talk about our families, and we
worry about the future...

We cry with each other when things
seem hopeless.

All the loving things that you
do with each other... that's what
we do. And for that, we are
called misfits, and deviants...
and criminals.

What right do you have to punish
us? What right do you have to
change us? What makes you think
you can dictate how people love
each other?

I congratulate you, Soren. Your
decision to admit your perversion
makes it much more likely that
we can help you.
'The Outcast' Star Trek:TNG Teleplay by Jeri Taylor

In syndication many small scenes are cut. The first part of Noor's decision included above as she orders Soren away to be 'cured' is one of them.

Gay rights is the civil rights issue of this generation
. There is the general concensus this greatly hurt the Democratic party in the 2004 elections. You know, "those liberals are always on the wrong side." This is a fight like racism that the Democrats are in the right and are on the side of history. This is a fight the GOP leadership knows they will eventually lose and don't really feel is important but cynically choose to wage it now to get votes. Ask the gay but not completely out national leaders of the GOP - RNC leaders Ken Mehlman (Chairman), Dan Gurley (National Field Director), and Jay Banning (CFO).

Look at Christianity. On my optimistic days I see Christianity as the story of the triumph of love. Gay rights will win becuase love is a powerful unstopable force.

Raw Story, #1 in liberal news the talented bastards, now has a RawstoryQ focusing on gay news.

Gay Lincoln

Andrew Sullivan presents a pretty convincing summary.

U.S. most popular prom dress

New York Post - PROM princess or porn queen?

Blumenthal - US Military Exhausted

UK Guardian
The US force in Iraq of about 150,000 troops is composed of a "volunteer" army that came into being with the end of military conscription during the Vietnam war. More than 40% are National Guard and Reserves, most having completed second tours of duty and being sent out again.

The force level has been maintained by the Pentagon only by "stop-loss" orders that coerce soldiers to remain in service after their contractual enlistment expires - a back-door draft.

Re-enlistment is collapsing, by 30% last year. The Pentagon justified this de facto conscription by telling Congress that it is merely a short-term solution that would not be necessary as Iraq quickly stabilises and an Iraqi security force fills the vacuum. But this week the Pentagon announced that the US force level would remain unchanged through 2006.

"The Army Reserve is additionally in grave danger of being unable to meet other operational requirements and is rapidly degenerating into a broken force."

Contrary to Senator Joseph Biden of the foreign relations committee, who stated that there are only 14,000 trained Iraqi security forces, she insisted there are 120,000. Why, secretary of defence Rumsfeld had told her so.

The administration has no strategy for Iraq or for the coerced American army plodding endlessly across the desert.

Representative Tauscher wonders when the House armed services committee, along with the rest of the Congress, will learn anything from the Bush administration that might be considered factual: "They are never persuaded by the facts. Nobody can tell you what their plan is and they don't feel the need to have one."

Hullabaloo on framing and why the GOP is better

Digby's blog has:
They tell people that they are helping the poor more by bleeding government programs. (Remember, faith based programs are better at helping those in need because they offer the spiritual dimension.) They call their anti-environmental programs "healthy skies" and they refuse to do more than literally phone in bromides about a "culture of life" to their anti-choice base. This was a lesson they learned during the Gingrich years when they precipitously lost favor when they were honest about their agenda. With Bush, they learned the lesson that they needed to couch their ideas in liberal rhetoric in order to win. I believe this is born out by the fact that the polls show not only that Republican voters have a completely different set of priorities than the president for whom they voted, but they actually believe that the president holds their views even though he clearly doesn't....

The Republicans are so good at this that they've been able to convince large numbers of people that they are something they're not, even in the face of absolute facts that refute it.
He suggests a start at reframing by renaming the new Social Securiy personal accounts as government mandated gambling.

Only if it is done right

Ananova - French kissing can be so dirty

Scientists say more than 40,000 parasites and 250 types of bacteria are exchanged during a typical French kiss.

I Claim This Pile of Dog Poo

One small step for man...

Police hunt poo protesters

Police in Germany are hunting pranksters who have been sticking miniature US flags into piles of dog poo in public parks.

Josef Oettl, parks administrator for Bayreuth, said: "This has been going on for about a year now, and there must be 2,000 to 3,000 piles of excrement that have been claimed during that time."

The series of incidents was originally thought to be some sort of protest against the US-led invasion of Iraq.

And then when it continued it was thought to be a protest against President George W. Bush's campaign for re-election.

But it is still going on and the police say they are completely baffled as to who is to blame.

"We have sent out extra patrols to try to catch whoever is doing this in the act," said police spokesman Reiner Kuechler.

"But frankly, we don't know what we would do if we caught them red handed."

Legal experts say there is no law against using feces as a flag stand and the federal constitution is vague on the issue.

Possible Ohio recount tampering

The Raw Story -- Ohio recount volunteers allege electoral tampering, legal violations and possible fraud

A new story centers in one of the three counties with the largest increase in Bush votes over 2000. Intimidation, partisanship and possibly illegal actions by Republican chief of the Board of Elections. Recount not done in a random manner. Questions regarding marked ballots.

How one state GOP fell apart

Off the Kuff linked this instructive story. Chicago Tribune | How Illinois GOP imploded

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Boxer Rebellion Spread to other Senate Democrats

Democrats finally finding a backbone?

Gonzales - NO

Bad for our soldiers say 12 generals.

Bad for our morality, our commitment to human rights and to the rule of law say Democrats.

Already caught lying under oath say lawyers.

How Now Mad Cow?

The U.S. has the least tested cattle for Mad Cow disease in the developed world. This has crippled the cattle industry as other countries banned our imports after one of our cows was found to have it.

The Bush solution?

Pressure Japan, formerly the largest importer of U.S. beef, to reopen it markets to us and to try to resume our own imports of beef from Canada this March. Canada's cows and meat had been banned because of their own Mad Cow cases. Japan has been dragging its feet in talks and for good reason. In the U.S. two-thirds of the possibly infected cows could not be tracked and made it into our food supply. Didn't hear that on the Nightly News, did you?

Those Bush policies, like all his others, have failed. More cases of mad cow disease in Canada have Japan still saying no and the Canadian beef industry still under fire. The new Ag Secretary faces an impossible task of reconciling cattle industry profits and the safety of Americans. Especially as his priority is to get those import and export doggies moving.

It's Mad to Eat Meat.

U.S. Violates World Health Organization Guidelines for Mad Cow Disease

Coaching Iraq's New Candidates, Discreetly

The Washington Post gives some good press to the US funded National Democratic Institute for International Affairs training Iraqi politicians. Also conducting training was the International Republican Institute but with closer ties to the GOP and the CIA it did not want to be interviewed. The IRI was reportedly focusing more on message while the DIIA was teaching organization.

How a new Party becomes Sucessful

The SPIEGEL has an article contrasting the Green Party in Germany and the UK which demonstrates the importance of proportional representation voting systems.

Blair at Davos to spearhead climate change

Guardian - Going around Bush Blair to make personal appeal to top business leaders meeting in Davos to slow greenhouse effect before it is too late.

TANSTAAFL Social Security

Krugmann - ...for privatizers the worst is yet to come. If people are rightly skeptical about claims that Social Security faces an imminent crisis, just wait until they start looking closely at the supposed solution. ...

The whole scheme ignores the most basic principle of economics: there is no free lunch.

... The math of Bush-style privatization works only if you assume both that stocks are a much better investment than government bonds and that somebody out there in the private sector will nonetheless sell those private accounts lots of stocks while buying lots of government bonds.

So privatizers are in effect asserting that politicians are smart - they know that stocks are a much better investment than bonds - while private investors are stupid, and will swap their valuable stocks for much less valuable government bonds.

Report from Mosul

The troops just sent to Mosul for the elections had a briefing that included this:
The brigade commander, Colonel Kurt Fuller spoke to us about the operations they were conducting in Mosul. According to Colonel Fuller, the city is not the same place since they arrived. Here are a few examples of what your soldier has been doing

Since 7 Jan. 05, they have been on over 600 patrols to improve security and facilitate elections in Mosul with Iraqi forces.
20 raids
10 cordon and Search operations (which is about an entire neighborhood)
They have detained 30 individuals connected to terrorist cells, IEDs, small arms fire and RPG attacks
Located and destroyed 7 IEDs
Confiscated or captured large number of weapons (AK 47s, sniper rifles, machine guns etc.)

He has also said that LTC Gibson (2-325 Battalion Commander) has had a call in radio show to answer questions for the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people have been thanking the soldiers, giving them high fives and letting them know that they are grateful for ridding them of insurgents. The people are responding and saying they are going out and voting.

[el - So the (English speaking?) Iraqis who call into American military radio shows they let on the air are supportive. There was a BBC survey that the Sunnis in Mosul are mostly planning not to vote.]

As to the question most on our minds, the return date, there still is no official return date. With that said, they are looking into redeploying mid-February to mid-March contingent on a few factors. Those factors being

The elections going smoothly. The period of time after the elections going smoothly. Nothing happening to the elected officials or their families
[el - I could say too late, elected officials are being killed left and right the last two months.}

There was scheduled to be Marines arriving in February, but they have been sent to deal with the tsunami victims. [el - Oops, looks like mid-Feb might be out.]

Since we are all part of the Army family, I am sure you know that anything can happen. As of right now, this is the time frame that is being considered but can change at any moment. Colonel Fuller does not want to get anyone's hopes up, but neither does he want us to be discouraged that this deployment will drag on indefinitely. He did point out that recently, the 505 Panthers deployed to Afghanistan in support of the elections and did redeploy after the elections. So historically, it has happened.

Another important topic; mail. One of the family members was nice enough to bring up that her son told her not to send any more mail. As we were not officially told to cease sending mail, I asked Colonel Fuller what he thought about this. Officially, they have not told us to stop sending mail, but if the elections run smoothly and they do redeploy in the time frame that they are looking at, mail would most likely not get to the soldiers.

Colonel Fuller said you should probably not continue to send mail. [el - a mixed message, no mail but perhaps you might be home soon. It also shows how long it takes for them to receive mail.]

As there is no set return date, nor any official redeployment orders, the choice on whether or not to send mail is a judgment call. If they do end up staying longer than we anticipated, then the mail we send now would reach them. If the elections go smoothly, they may be sent to another city to redeploy and the mail would follow them around and probably not reach them until they were back in the states. So the decision is up to you on whether or not you want to send mail. As I said earlier,there is no official message to cease sending mail.
So the troops on their second deployment are actively engaged in anti-insurgent military sweeps and I would expect them to be in Iraq, if not in Mosul, until at least mid-March.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Social Security Death Wish

Molly Ivins wrote one of the most clear articles on the phony Social Security 'Crisis'.

el - I am convinced that Social Security became a 'crisis' for Bush when he was told the current funding mechanics of Social Security pretty much preclude him for lowering taxes for the rich each year. The reason being that Social Security excess taxes on those earning under $90,000 are coming down and he can no longer use them to partially mask his deficit spending. He made a promise to try to reduce the deficit when Social Security will no longer be helping him.

Molly's current thoughts on Bush delusions.

Monday, January 24, 2005

First Amendment Defenders


Famous Quotes Regarding Freedom Of Religion:

"The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine." George Washington

"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion ..." from the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams, June 10, 1797.

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State." Thomas Jefferson, in his historic Danbury letter, January 1, 1802

"Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?" James Madison, in "Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785

"The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of church and state." James Madison, March 2, 1819

Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State." The U.S. Supreme Court, 1947

"They have kept us in submission because they have talked about separation of church and state. There is no such thing in the Constitution. It's a lie of the left, and we're not going to take it anymore." Pat Robertson, adressing the ACLJ, 1993

"The national government ... will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality." Adolf Hitler

We Have Ten Years To Fix The Climate

Now you can panic

Kotlikoff, Long Time Foe of Social Security, Disses Bush Plan

The investment option is no real option at all. It's a side show to divert attention from the main point of the plan -- wiping out most of our kids' benefits and thereby raising their net taxes. Those who don't invest will end up paying the same payroll taxes, but receive far less in benefits. And those who do invest will end up paying lower payroll taxes, but will suffer additional benefit losses that actually exceed the value of their payroll tax reduction.

Fixing Social Security is imperative. But doing so by eating our young is hardly the answer.

EL - Real interesting as he is a favorite economist of conservatives supporting reforming Social Security out of existence.

When Noonan says Bush is over the top...

Bush clearly has a case of imperial hubris.

*Why Dean should take charge*

With his passion and populist appeal, Howard Dean is exactly the leader the Democratic Party needs right now.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
by Mark Hertsgaard Jan. 24, 2005

Florida Democrats' decision to unanimously back Howard Dean as the new chairman of the DNC (Democratic National Committee) shows two things: first, there are still some Democrats out there -- including in the supposedly hopeless South -- who have brains and guts and aren't afraid to think for themselves; and second, Dean now has a real shot at winning the DNC job and launching a much-needed makeover of the Democratic Party.

Political and media elites in Washington are at once horrified and dismissive of Dean's quest. They insist that Democrats would be crazy to pick a raving liberal like Dean as their next party chairman.

CHARLES AULDS: Anyone who thinks Howard Dean is a "raving liberal" is a raving idiot. Howard Dean, as governor of Vermont, balanced his state's budget six times in a row, even though he inherited a state in financial difficulty. That is NOT a raving liberal. When it comes to fiscal policy, it is Bush who is a raving maniac. he took a surplus and turned it into deficits as far as the eye can see. I will say it again, Howard Dean is NOT a raving liberal; he is not a raving anything; the man is a doctor, for heaven's sake. He is a scientist; he is a clear and rational thinker -- and a very sensible man. More from Charles.]

But as is so often the case, this inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom is based on dubious "facts" and assumptions about how ordinary Americans relate to politics. Dean is exactly the leader Democrats need to become relevant again.

The Florida Democratic chairman's statement to the New York Times reveals just how out of touch the Washington establishment is: "I'm a gun-owning pickup-truck driver and I have a bulldog named Lockjaw," said Scott Maddox. "I am a Southern chairman of a Southern state, and I am perfectly comfortable with Howard Dean as DNC chair."

And the reason Florida Democrats like Dean?

"What our party needs right now is energy, enthusiasm and a willingness to do things differently," Maddox added. "I think Howard Dean brings all three of those things to the party."

CONTACT the Democratic leaders in YOUR state and URGE them to support Howard Dean to be chairman of the Democratic Party.

The late great JC on Democracy

Democracy is buying a big house you can't afford with money you don't have to impress people you wish were dead. And, unlike communism, democracy does not mean having just one ineffective political party; it means having two ineffective political parties. ... Democracy is welcoming people from other lands, and giving them something to hold onto -- usually a mop or a leaf blower. ... It means that with proper timing and scrupulous bookkeeping, anyone can die owing the government a huge amount of money. ... Democracy means free television, not good television, but free. ... And finally, democracy is the eagle on the back of a dollar bill, with 13 arrows in one claw, 13 leaves on a branch, 13 tail feathers, and 13 stars over its head -- this signifies that when the white man came to this country, it was bad luck for the Indians, bad luck for the trees, bad luck for the wildlife, and lights out for the American eagle. I thank you.
Johnny Carson

Provided by my brother.

A Demobilized Press in a Global Free-Fire Zone

TomDispatch - Trying to find the news in U.S. media
In a world where Gaia -- the Earth as a single throbbing organism -- is already a cliche; where "globalization" remains a buzzword; and where we happen to be ruled by the greatest geopolitical dreamers and gamblers in our history, our demobilized media treats the world, if at all, as a set of hopeless fragments and just doesn't consider puzzling them together part of the job description. If you want to grasp our world as it is, you might actually have to click off that TV, use your local paper to wrap the fish, and head for the Internet.

Plame Investigation Is Not a 'Game' - Left to Letters to the Editor

NYT - Frank Rich: On TV, torture has been on vacation
The minimizing - and in some cases outright elimination - of Abu Ghraib and its aftermath from network news coverage is in part (but only in part) political. Fox News, needless to say, has trivialized the story from the get-go, as hallmarked by Bill O'Reilly's proud refusal to run the photos of Graner & Company after they first surfaced at CBS.

Since the election, some news operations, most conspicuously NBC, have seemed eager to rally around the winner and avoid discouraging words of any kind.

Eschaton found this:
Balance and objectivity have become code words to propagate the insidious and cynical moral disengagement that is destroying American journalism. This moral disengagement gives equal time, and sometimes more than equal time, to those who spread falsehoods and distort information. It tacitly sanctions the dissemination of lies. It absolves us from making moral choice. It obscures and often shuts out the truth.

A Bunch of Krabby Patties

Maureen Dowd:
I can't believe I thought he was just an innocent little sponge wearing tight shorts.

What in the name of Davy Jones's locker would a sponge be doing holding hands with a starfish or donning purple and hot-pink flowered garb to redecorate the Krusty Krab if he weren't a perverted invertebrate?

... Even if he's a little light in the flippers, SpongeBob has brought children good, clean fun. SpongeBush has brought the world dark, endless fights.

Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld's Domain (

Military going in instead of CIA - a dangerous escalation.

This Plastic Moment- by Justin Raimondo

That "untamed fire" Bush boasted of spreading is not the fire of "freedom," but of militant nationalism and religious fanaticism: that is what the war and subsequent occupation have unleashed on the Middle East. The question now is: will we get out in time to avoid getting burned ourselves?

The neoconservatives, back in the saddle, are unlikely to go along with a withdrawal: they have other plans for the Middle East that require an increased U.S. military presence. Iran, Syria, and even Saudi Arabia are in the War Party's sights, and they are encouraged and emboldened by the president's pledge to support "democratic" movements worldwide. Just as the last ideological empire that wanted to "liberate" the earth founded an international apparatus to export the Revolution, so America in the grip of a mad millennialism will follow suit – if the neocons have their way – planting the seeds of protracted conflict throughout the Middle East.

The Ukrainian template will fit neatly in Syria and Iran, perhaps even Saudi Arabia. Funding and supporting "democratic" movements in those countries, while threatening military intervention if they fail to "liberalize" while under siege: the neocon game plan is a Western adaptation of an old Commie tactic – subvert from within, while always holding the sword of direct military intervention over the intended victims' head.

Bush, Cheney Team Up to Soften Americans for War on Iran

Jim Lobe latest article on the latest White House rhetoric on war.
For neoconservatives, who have long used the velvet glove of pro-democracy rhetoric to hide the steel fist of what has consistently been a U.S.- and Israel-centered Machtpolitik, [Vice Pres. Dick Cheney's dark words of warning against Iran on MSNBC's "Imus in the Morning" television show] came as the perfect topper to Bush's inaugural speech, much of which was borrowed from right-wing Israeli leader Natan Sharansky's new book, The Case for Democracy.

After biting their tongue about making Iran the next target of U.S. military power after Iraq through most of 2004 so as not to jeopardize Bush's re-election, they have been noisily pushing Tehran as the chief candidate for Public Enemy Number One in Bush's second term.

... While there is "quite a lot of real respect for the United States and for Bush in Iran today, if there were an American attack, all of that would just vanish overnight," [Gary Sick, an Iran expert at Columbia University] said, pressing a more hopeful view of Cheney's and the administration's intentions.

"I think this is actually a campaign to intimidate Iran," he said. "It's holding out a palpable threat that if you don't cooperate this is what is going to happen to you."

Inside Deep Throat

Inside Deep Throat the blog of the documentary of the movie.

US Military turning very pessimistic about Iraq

Like my nephew, many in the U.S. military are beginning to have doubts about this bloody war.
There are four reasons for this. First, many service people are shocked by the incontrovertible evidence that the justifications offered by the Bush administration for invading Iraq - WMD and a link with international terrorism - were false. Second, bitter and painful fighting, notably in the showpiece assault on Falluja, has failed to suppress insurgency. Third, there is deep scepticism about progress in recruiting Iraqis to assume the security burden. Even General David Petraeus, the US airborne general charged with organising Iraq's new forces, is said to be increasingly despondent. And finally, the army and marine corps are acutely aware that they have to sustain the occupation without sufficient troops to control the country effectively.

Bush Inauguration Jokes

From Daniel Kurtzman - Political Humor Digest

Jon Stewart: "Finally, the moment we've all been waiting for –- the official halfway point of the Bush presidency."

President Bush: "I George Walker Bush do solemnly swear..."
Stewart: "At which point 49 percent of the country also solemnly swore."

"President Bush is being criticized because his inaugural celebration cost $40 million. When asked about it, the president said, 'Sorry, but my daughters insisted on an open bar.'" – Conan O'Brien

"Some people are criticizing President Bush for spending $40 million on his inauguration, but hey, give the guy a break, he's excited. After all, this is the first time he's really been elected." –Jay Leno

"In the speech President Bush said that as a country we have a calling from 'beyond the stars.' You know what this means? He’s drinking again." - David Letterman


'Washington today feels like Moscow'

A spin cycle out of control |
Washington these days feels a little like Moscow in Soviet times when the government routinely dispensed information to the public and the public routinely didn't believe it. The two main newspapers were the Communist Party organ, Pravda, (Truth) and the Soviet government organ, Izvestiya (News). People used to say, "There is no Izvestiya in Pravda and no Pravda in Izvestiya."
Today I feel the same way about our own Pravda on the Hudson and the Izvestiya in D.C., all the news on the front pages is written from the corporate or GOP viewpoints.

The 34 Scandals of George W. Bush

The 34 Scandals of George W. Bush - each worse than Whitewater

Dean stands for values in bid to chair Democratic Party

Western states Dem convention hears seven candidates
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, aggressively seeking to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, urged his fellow Democrats on Saturday to appeal to voters not as "mini-Republicans,'' but as "the party of centrists" dedicated to bringing "America back to a reasonable central moral position in the world.

"We balance budgets; they don't. We stand up for job opportunities,'' said Dean, who received standing ovations from many of the 600 Democrats gathered at the Radisson hotel. He urged Democrats to "speak with conviction'' and give the party base reasons to vote for Democratic candidates "other than that we don't like the president.''

Dean's fiery appeals seemed to dominate the convention in Sacramento, where DNC members and party loyalists from around the Western states amassed. They came to hear the seven candidates vying to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the powerful political and financial post now held by the outgoing Terry McAuliffe. The choice will be made Feb. 12 by 447 voting members of the DNC.

Our Troops Are Dying for Sycophants

Paul Craig Roberts attacks Bush Iraqi policy from the outraged paleoconservative right.

An academic front of the Right

Nothing like having to go to India to see what is happening here. Horowitz's assault on liberal colleges.

Baghdad Drying Out, Burning

Baghdad Burning reports:
There hasn’t been a drop of water in the faucets for six days. six days. Even at the beginning of the occupation, when the water would disappear in the summer, there was always a trickle that would come from one of the pipes in the garden. Now, even that is gone. We’ve been purchasing bottles of water (the price has gone up) to use for cooking and drinking. Forget about cleaning. It’s really frustrating because everyone cleans house during Eid. It’s like a part of the tradition. The days leading up to Eid are a frenzy of mops, brooms, dusting rags and disinfectant. The cleaning makes one feel like there's room for a fresh start. It's almost as if the house and its inhabitants are being reborn. Not this year. We’re managing just enough water to rinse dishes with. To bathe, we have to try to make-do with a few liters of water heated in pots on kerosene heaters.

Water is like peace- you never really know just how valuable it is until someone takes it away. It’s maddening to walk up to the sink, turn one of the faucets and hear the pipes groan with nothing. The toilets don’t function… the dishes sit piled up until two of us can manage to do them- one scrubbing and rinsing and the other pouring the water.

Why is this happening? Is it because of the electricity? If it is, we should at least be getting water a couple of hours a day- like before. Is it some sort of collective punishment leading up to the elections? It’s unbelievable. At first, I thought it was just our area but I’ve been asking around and apparently, almost all of the areas (if not all) are suffering this drought.

I’m sure people outside of the country are shaking their heads at the words ‘collective punishment’. “No, Riverbend,” they are saying, “That’s impossible.” But anything is possible these days. People in many areas are being told that if they don’t vote- Sunnis and Shia alike- the food and supply rations we are supposed to get monthly will be cut off. We’ve been getting these rations since the beginning of the nineties and for many families, it’s their main source of sustenance.

I have been worried about my nephew Troy the Army Ranger who is back in Iraq now. The other day there were a reported five large car bombs that went off in Baghdad. The hospitals in Iraq are facing their own tsunami of dead bodies. Terrorists have called the new elections a sham and vow to destroy all who support them.

For good news I can say that Troy's new daughter Emily whom he hasn't seen is doing fine.

The third brother of Iraq the Model

Has unfortunately named his blog Free Iraq, the same as the Iraqi nuclear scientist's blog.

Is The Pentagon's New Map an excuse for perpetual war?'

Kevin Drum doesn't state it that baldly but has criticisms with Barnett's Rah, Rah uncritical jingoism.

Olberman the best news anchor blogger

Here he is on Williams being a paid secret propaganda agent.
Until the Armstrong Williams story broke, I’d never even considered this possibility — paying pundits or journalists to policy-shill — under any American government at any time other than during global war. But the Williams revelations do remind me that I’ve always wondered how some of the monolithic, elaborate websites, especially conservative ones with a million links, have managed to stay afloat financially, and if somebody in government wasn’t supplying them with more than just hot news flashes.

More Recently on Rathergate:
After the Thornburgh-Boccardi report on CBS News came out a week ago yesterday, it was the big question: Why did four mid-level executives lose their jobs, when nobody above them and nobody on the air, did?

Sunday Political Talk Show Breakdown

LiberalOasis digests.

More GOP leaders deserting Bush SS Plan

Snowe, Thomas, Wary Over Social Security (

Uncivil Wealthy Republicans

Wasn't it the GOP media that complained of uncivil Democrats at funerals and official occasions?
Something was terribly wrong. Kerry's seat assignment was in the seventh row. And every time they flashed his picture on the Jumbotron, the crowd -- full of wealthy Republicans -- jeered.

Favorite GOP Iraqi Prisoner a Liar

As I reported much earlier, one month ago, and our SCLM is only now beginning to realize, Jumana Hanna's story was a lie too easily believed by the GOP.

The New York Times -- Iraqi Tale of Saddam's Torture Dissolves Upon Later Scrutiny

Wash. Post -- Threads Unravel in Iraqi's Tale

Media Leading Anti-Dean Campaign Again

In move similar to the anti-Dean national political media campaign of late 2003, the knives are out for Dean on his front runner status in the race for DNC chair.
Newsweek - Now Playing: 'Anybody But Dean, Part 2'

Does have some information on the Clinton backers and Washington insiders desperation to deny grassroots supporters their voice and their losing campaign to develop an anti-Dean candidate.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The View In London

Bush Speech "A Fiery Warning to the World"
In arguably the most combative inauguration speech for 50 years, Mr Bush made clear that the Afghan and Iraqi wars had not diminished his determination to take the counter-terrorism campaign to America's enemies. He depicted those conflicts as part of a much broader mission, which he phrased in almost messianic terms.

World fears new Bush era
George Bush will be sworn in as president of the United States for a second term today in a lavish Washington ceremony, amid mounting international concern that his new administration will make the world a more dangerous place.

A poll of 21 countries published yesterday - reflecting opinion in Africa, Latin America, North America, Asia and Europe - showed that a clear majority have grave fears about the next four years.

Fifty-eight per cent of the 22,000 who took part in the poll, commissioned by the BBC World Service, said they expected Mr Bush to have a negative impact on peace and security, compared with only 26% who considered him a positive force.

Stupid Dangerous O'Reilly

Media Matters - O'Reilly: "Hitler would be a card-carrying ACLU member. So would Stalin."

Discussing the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) objections to the Dover, Pennsylvania, school district's plans to include "intelligent design" theory in their high school biology curriculum, FOX News host Bill O'Reilly declared: "Hitler would be a card-carrying ACLU member. So would Stalin. Castro probably is. And so would Mao Zedong."

O'Reilly has previously labeled the ACLU a "fascist organization" and "the most dangerous organization in the United States of America right now ... second next to Al Qaeda."


What you didn't see.

One word for Bush Speech - Orwellian

A real speech

...we have lit a fire...

Oh, God, the sequel. What will Bush do? Armed Jesus awaiting marching orders.

What country is this? Coronation Coverage. No room for Democrats and Liberals on Mass Media.

Bush Vow to Spread Freedom Raises Questions

MoveOn plans to organize every neighborhood, Take Back Congress.

GOP already organizing for 2006 to 2011. (One upping MoveOn to organize every church?)

The Perfect Storm

Our current descent into fascism came about through a kind of "Perfect Storm," a confluence of three unrelated but mutually supportive schools of thought.

1. The first stream of thought was the imperialistic dream of the Project for the New American Century.
I don’t believe anyone can understand the past four years without reading the Project for the New American Century, published in September 2000 and authored by many who have been prominent players in the Bush administrations, including Cheney, Rumsfleid, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Kagan to name only a few. This report saw the fall of Communism as a call for America to become the military rulers of the world, to establish a new worldwide empire. They spelled out the military enhancements we would need, then noted, sadly, that these wonderful plans would take a long time, unless there could be a catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor that would let the leaders turn America into a military and militarist country. There was no clear interest in religion in this report, and no clear concern with local economic policies.

2. A second powerful stream must be credited to Pat Robertson and his Christian Reconstructionists, or Dominionists. Long dismissed by most of us as a screwball, the Dominionist style of Christianity which he has been preaching since the early 1980s is now the most powerful religious voice in the Bush administration.

Katherine Yurica, who transcribed over 1300 pages of interviews from Pat Robertson's "700 Club" shows in the 1980s, has shown how Robertson and his chosen guests consistently, openly and passionately argued that America must become a theocracy under the control of Christian Dominionists. Robertson is on record saying democracy is a terrible form of government unless it is run by his kind of Christians. He also rails constantly against taxing the rich, against public education, social programs and welfare - and prefers Deuteronomy 28 over the teachings of Jesus. He is clear that women must remain homebound as obedient servants of men, and that abortions, like homosexuals, should not be allowed. Robertson has also been clear that other kinds of Christians, including Episcopalians and Presbyterians, are enemies of Christ. (The Yurica Report. Search under this name, or for "Despoiling America" by Katherine Yurica on the internet.)

3. The third major component of this Perfect Storm has been the desire of very wealthy Americans and corporate CEOs for a plutocracy that will favor profits by the very rich and disempowerment of the vast majority of American workers, the destruction of workers’ unions, and the alliance of government to help achieve these greedy goals. It is a condition some have called socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor, and which others recognize as a reincarnation of Social Darwinism. This strain of thought has been present throughout American history. Seventy years ago, they tried to finance a military coup to replace Franlkin Delano Roosevelt and establish General Smedley Butler as a fascist dictator in 1934. Fortunately, the picked a general who really was a patriot; he refused, reported the scheme, and spoke and wrote about it. As Canadian law professor Joel Bakan wrote in the book and movie "The Corporation," they have now achieved their coup without firing a shot.

Our plutocrats have had no particular interest in religion. Their global interests are with an imperialist empire, and their domestic goals are in undoing all the New Deal reforms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that enabled the rise of America’s middle class after WWII.

Another ill wind in this Perfect Storm is more important than its crudity might suggest: it was President Clinton's sleazy sex with a young but eager intern in the White House. This incident, and Clinton's equally sleazy lying about it, focused the certainties of conservatives on the fact that "liberals" had neither moral compass nor moral concern, and therefore represented a dangerous threat to the moral fiber of America. While the effects of this may be hard to quantify, I think they were profound.

These "storm" components have no necessary connection, and come from different groups of thinkers, many of whom wouldn't even like one another. But together, they form a nearly complete web of command and control, which has finally gained control of America and, they hope, of the world.

From a UU sermon - Living Under Fascism : Davidson Loehr.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

US right attacks 'gay' SpongeBob

Gay plot to steal children uncovered

First Tinky Winky and now SpongeBob SquarePants. When will our children be safe?

"We see the video as an insidious means by which the organisation is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids," Paul Batura, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, told the New York Times.

WAFF spokesman Mark Barondeso told the newspaper that anyone who thought the video promoted homosexuality "needs to visit their doctor and get their medication increased".

el - I support SpongeBob SquarePants whatever his chosen lifestyle under the sea.

CNN or Onion?

Poll: Nation split on Bush as uniter or divider

Forty-nine percent of 1,007 adult Americans said in phone interviews they believe Bush is a "uniter," according to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday. Another 49 percent called him a "divider," and 2 percent had no opinion.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


The Blue Lemur reports on conflicts of interest on liberal blogger story.

2004 Inflation Measure Highest in 4 Years

After all those price increases, the department's consumer price index (or CPI), one of the most widely followed measures of inflation, was 3.3 percent higher in December than a year before. That rate of inflation was much faster than the 1.9 percent rate of 2003, and the highest since the 3.4 percent rate of 2000.

Workers' pay also rose last year -- but more slowly than prices. After adjusting for inflation, average hourly wages for production and nonsupervisory workers fell 0.8 percent -- the first such decline since 1994, Labor figures show.

Cuts in disability benefits seen in Social Security plan

AP - Disability benefits may not be safe from the across-the-board cuts that are likely in President Bush's proposal to allow personal investment accounts in the Social Security program.

"The Social Security programs are insurance programs, not investment programs, designed to reduce risk from certain life events," said Marty Ford of the Consortium for Citizens With Disabilities.

Currently, disabled workers move seamlessly through the Social Security system, often unaware they draw their benefits from the disability program until they reach retirement age and shift to the retirement program. That would change with investment accounts, advocates say, with people falling through holes in a new system.

About 16 percent of the 47 million people receiving Social Security benefits are disabled workers and their dependents. The impact of accounts on beneficiaries who aren't retirees has not been publicly discussed by the Bush administration.

Those Red States on the government dole: "with a few exceptions, the anti-government red states are the net winners in the flow of funds while the pro-government blue states are almost all losers."

Minimum Wage Issue a Winner for Democrats

Minimum Wage Shows That We Are The Party Of Workers

The Democratic National Committee will meet in February to choose a new party chairman. [el - Go Dean.]There is more jockeying than usual, with debates about whether the party should move left or right, hawk or dove, spiritual or secular, populist or what.

Here's an instructive story you (and many national Democratic leaders) may have missed:

President Bush carried Florida handily last November. But there was something else on the Florida ballot that got little national attention -- an initiative to raise the state minimum wage to $6.15 an hour.

The initiative was put on the ballot by the community organizing group ACORN and a coalition of unions, MoveOn, and others with 975,000 signatures. The minimum wage initiative was opposed by nearly all Republicans and business groups.

Not only did the initiative win by a stunning 72 to 28 percent; it won in every single Florida county, even rock-ribbed Bush territory.

The Kerry campaign, hooked to a relentless message that the candidate had to identify with "the middle class," rejected overtures from the organizers and did not get involved. If Kerry had vigorously championed this campaign, the outcome in Florida and nationally might have been different.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Meritocracy in America in decline

The Economist sees
Income inequality is growing to levels not seen since the Gilded Age, around the 1880s. But social mobility is not increasing at anything like the same pace: would-be Horatio Algers are finding it no easier to climb from rags to riches, while the children of the privileged have a greater chance of staying at the top of the social heap. The United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society.

The past couple of decades have seen a huge increase in inequality in America. The Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think-tank, argues that between 1979 and 2000 the real income of households in the lowest fifth (the bottom 20% of earners) grew by 6.4%, while that of households in the top fifth grew by 70%. The family income of the top 1% grew by 184%—and that of the top 0.1% or 0.01% grew even faster. Back in 1979 the average income of the top 1% was 133 times that of the bottom 20%; by 2000 the income of the top 1% had risen to 189 times that of the bottom fifth.

Thirty years ago the average real annual compensation of the top 100 chief executives was $1.3m: 39 times the pay of the average worker. Today it is $37.5m: over 1,000 times the pay of the average worker. In 2001 the top 1% of households earned 20% of all income and held 33.4% of all net worth. Not since pre-Depression days has the top 1% taken such a big whack.

Most Americans see nothing wrong with inequality of income so long as it comes with plenty of social mobility: it is simply the price paid for a dynamic economy. But the new rise in inequality does not seem to have come with a commensurate rise in mobility. There may even have been a fall.

Proposed budget cuts will hurt veterans...

The Morning Call reports on the Bush administration funding cuts for the VA. There are other reports of delays and toughening of disability standards.
The long waits are already having a significant impact on veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. An estimated 166,000 veterans of these two wars have left the services, and over 26,000 of these veterans, 16 percent, have applied for disability benefits. More than one in three, 9,750 veterans, are on waiting lists and have yet to receive assessments.

These problems could become even worse. The president's budget for fiscal 2005, which began on Oct. 1, called for cutting more than 500 positions from the Veterans Benefits Administration, the VA office that handles disability assessments. While Congress has yet to finalize this budget, the proposal would still leave VA well short of meeting the needs of veterans. On Sept. 20, leaders of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and AMVETS wrote that the budget ''will have a devastating impact.''

Michael J. Totten, liberal?

Wondering what the right was considering a liberal nowadays?

How about Michael J. Totten who voted for Bush and writes for the conservative PR front (more on funding) Tech Central Station.

Reminds me of former self-described liberal Roger L Simon who is a raving Bush supporter urging a jihad against the jihadists or something and goes into rants about his Hollywood neighbors liberalism. Perhaps all it takes to be a liberal now is to support MLK or at least believe he wasn't a communist danger to the U.S.. (Even Freepers must now sprinkle laudatory phrases around King compared to the conservative rhetoric during his lifetime.)

NRO: "Michael Totten, a liberal who voted Republican this election"


The New York Times carries the controversy on Iraq the Model and here is reaction from another National Review Online classified 'liberal'. Is everyone who is not Attila the Hun a liberal to the National Review Online? (Some discussion of 'liberal warhawks' here in the libertarian Reason.)

My Reaction: Overblown hysterical reaction to Iraqi brothers who outed themselves long ago. It has been no secret who these brothers are. The announcement of the run for Iraqi political office mentioned their blog. Speculation has been rampant from the beginning based on the fact that their blog has never printed anything that the large intel group in Iraq would not approve of.

The function of US agents has long been to befriend and finance individuals who will support the U.S. and get them involved in politics and in government leadership roles. Their blog has supported all of the U.S. efforts in Iraq. Two of the brothers are now involved in politics. One has left because he has problems with those efforts.

2004 Utne Independent Press Awards

Good Reading Stuff.

Playing Politics With Social Security

Progress Report, 1/18/05: SOCIAL SECURITY, Playing Politics; HEALTH CARE, Leavitt's Conflicting Interests
WHITE HOUSE CONFIRMATION:...This weekend, White House spokesman Dan Bartlett was asked about using the Social Security Administration to help the president convince Americans the system is in crisis. He replied, "There is no expectation that career employees would be asked to advocate on behalf of any specific prescription for Social Security." Look closely – that's a non-denial. True, the Social Security Administration stops short of directly advocating the "specific" White House plan. It does, however, cite the findings of a plan similar to the president's. And whipping up public fears about the nonexistent crisis adds to the drumbeat, assisting the president in scaring up public support for his privatization plan...

Other Stuff:"[Saddam Hussein] had a lot of time to move stuff, a lot of time to hide stuff."
–- Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, 6/24/04


Officials "familiar with the search" say "US authorities have found no evidence that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein transferred WMD or related equipment out of Iraq."
–- AP, 1/18/05

IRAQ –- MISSING THE MOMENT: Calling November's election an "accountability moment," President Bush said last week there was no need to reprimand any administration officials responsible for the mistakes and misjudgments in planning for the Iraq war and its aftermath. "The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq," President Bush said, "and they looked at the two candidates and chose me, for which I'm grateful." Exit polls from Nov. 2 showed that those who cited Iraq as the most important election issue actually voted overwhelmingly for President Bush's opponent, John Kerry. Also, a University of Maryland study from October found that the vast majority of Bush supporters incorrectly believed that WMDs or a major weapons program had been found in Iraq, and that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda. Moreover, 58 percent of Bush supporters said the U.S. should not have invaded Iraq "if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda."

Iraq blog CIA spat

BBC reports on dispute over possible CIA connections to Iraq the Model.

Next Stop Iran

Opinion and news articles are proliferating in conservative publications about Iran.

My suspicion is that is part of a paid PR campaign as is typical in major foreign policy initiatives of the conservative elite in this country. The push is for major funding for CIA sponsored or favored groups.

Congress Starting To Push For "Regime Change" In Iran
The Financial Times reports, "Support for 'regime change' in Iran is growing in Congress, encouraging new exiled opposition groups supported by Washington's neoconservatives to spring up in the hope of receiving US funding."

Neocons turn their attention to Iran.
[A news article as it includes:} ...The State Department's Middle East Partnership Initiative has sought to identify pro-democracy groups inside Iran for funding, but has not found any. Officials are also aware that any group known to receive US money would be targeted by the regime immediately. Congress says their identities would be kept secret...

There does seem to be an organized campaign to support more money for Iran dissident groups - see this conservative PR shop article. The majority of Tech Station Central opinion articles support paid campaigns. The problem with Tech is when you were created to be a paid PR shop readers can't tell what are unsolicited opinions and what is part of a paid campaign. I suspect this is paid. With a date given this looks like a full court press to provide many millions to some front groups quickly.

Iranian Presidential elections are scheduled for June 17. Several
hardliners have already announced their candidacies. Iran is poised to
continue the dark path it has followed for the last quarter century.
Can we really afford to miss this opportunity?

Monday, January 17, 2005

More comments on Next War, Iran

Daily Kos :: Seymour Hersh: Next stop, Iran

There is only one kind of news out of Iraq

Informed Comment has all the scoop on our losing "fight for freedom"? in Iraq. My nephew was called away from the birth of his first progeny and work on his first house to safeguard these Iraqi elections which are turning into a farce. Hey, I'm a grand-uncle. My sister is a grandmother. Protect our troops, my nephew, - bring them home.

Free Iraq

Before the war i was one of the few who actually knew that Iraq had no nuclear program thanks to this guy, former Iraq nuclear scientist and foe of Saddam, who has now taken up blogging - Free Iraq

Baghdad Not Burning Oil

Baghdad Burning says Baghdad is running out of fuel and everyone wants to flee before election day violence. She can't help but ask:
I always had the feeling that the only people who actually believed this war was about weapons of mass destruction were either paranoid Americans or deluded expatriate Iraqis- or a combination of both. I wonder now, after hundreds and hundreds of Americans actually died on Iraqi soil and over a hundred-thousand Iraqis are dead, how Americans view the current situation. I have another question- the article mentions a "Duelfer Report" stating the weapons never existed and all the intelligence was wrong. This report was supposedly published in October 2004. The question is this: was this report made public before the elections? Did Americans actually vote for Bush with this knowledge?

Iran: Next War Target or Role Model?

Flamingo Jones on the American Street is asking if Hersh is right we are already preparing for war with Iran with troops on the ground or is Iran's theocracy an inspiration to our new and future government?

Why Frost would not be good for DNC head

Daily Kos :: Frost's strong support for President Bush

A Democrat who ran his race by demonizing Ted Kennedy and sucking up to Republicans has no place anywhere near the DNC chairmanship.

Why the Democrats are the party of Martin Luther King

Hullabaloo has a great MLK day post. When Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, both times I had conservative teachers saying how this was actually good for the country.

A Question of Numbers

A very well written article on the SS debate.

USATODAY on Not One Dime - On Jan. 20, war protest will turn on a 'Dime'

I still like my email where it is not only about the war.


Saturday, January 15, 2005

Sermon: Living Under Fascism

UU minister Davidson Loehr gave this Veteran's Day Sermon which included:
Mussolini thought it was unnatural for a government to protect individual rights: The essence of fascism, he believed, is that government should be the master, not the servant, of the people.

Still, fascism is a word that is completely foreign to most of us. We need to know what it is, and how we can know it when we see it.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military

Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism

The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media

Sometimes the media are directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security

Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined

Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected

The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed

Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment

Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections

Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Not One Damn Dime Day

Not One Damn Dime Day
Not One Red Cent

Pass it on.

Rolling Stone has the Clearest Explanation of the SS Non-Crisis

The Fake Crisis
Economist Paul Krugman explains Bush's latest con -- Social Security

A clear and easy to read fact check of W by Krugman that damns timid D.C. Democrats and the GOP.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Most of the news you really need - Five days a week

Krugman - The Iceberg Cometh

Advocates of privatization almost always pretend that all we have to do is borrow a bit of money up front, and then the system will become self-sustaining. The Wehner memo talks of borrowing $1 trillion to $2 trillion "to cover transition costs." Similar numbers have been widely reported in the news media.

But that's just the borrowing over the next decade. Privatization would cost an additional $3 trillion in its second decade, $5 trillion in the decade after that and another $5 trillion in the decade after that. By the time privatization started to save money, if it ever did, the federal government would have run up around $15 trillion in extra debt.

Bushit as protected speech

Wausau - Protester's sign's legality up in air

A 1971 U.S. Supreme Court decision protects the rights of protesters to use offensive language in political speech. Paul Robert Cohen was convicted in Los Angeles of disturbing the peace for wearing a jacket that said "F--- the Draft," but the Supreme Court overturned the conviction.

"Surely the state has no right to cleanse public debate to the point where it is grammatically palatable to the most squeamish among us," the court wrote. "For while the particular four-letter word (at issue in this case) is more distasteful than others of its genre, it is nevertheless often true that one man's vulgarity is another's lyric."

Researcher cited in CBS Bush Guard 60 minutes report responds

CBS choose GOP hatchet men to investigate Rather and Memogate. Report was a smear campaign that relied on the men who covered up for Bush for all the "facts" in the report.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Reclaim the Democratic Party

StoutDemBlog is echoing many Democratic sentiments when he complains about the gutless D.C. leadership.
They are all too busy trying hard to sell out everything the party stands for to appeal to conservatives, in the foolish belief that the reactionaries will stop abusing them if they just lay down and surrender. This is not just suicidal strategy, but intellectual and moral hara-kari as well.

The short-sighted Democrats who sold out their constituents' interests for corporate special interests feeding the arsenic triangle of fundraisers, consultants, and pollsters, all dedicated to ignoring the uninspired Democratic base voters in favor of "swing" voters, districts, and states, have given us almost total Republican control of both Texas and national government. Now these vermin are squabbling among themselves over who gets to be the captain of the vehicle they have transformed into a modern Hindenburg, when it slowly falls from the sky.
Interesting, I first linked to him as a voice of the moderate Democrats two years ago. He is recommending this platform which leads off with full employment and full health care for everyone.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

My Stand

Not One Damn Dime Day
Not One Red Cent

Because of the illegal and immoral Iraq War which has cost thousands of lives and tens of billions of American taxpayer dollars,

Because of the illegal suppression of the right to vote of many Americans on November 2nd, 2004,

Because of the politicians who show they value corporations over American citizens,

Because of the environmental, fiscal, and civil liberty damages of this administration and the danger to the American system of Constitutional government and the rule of science, reason and law,

I am hereby giving notice I will not spend any money or make any monetary transactions on January 20, 2005.

If you are the employee or owner of any institution make the appropriate plans.

If you are part of an institution that I feel is not in any way responsible for this situation know that I am only delaying purchases.

If you are part of an organization that I know is part of the problem know that a contribution to what I feel is a responsible charitable, educational or political group will be made with the money I save and that I plan on reducing future purchases.

If you have received this message, please join in and pass this on.

Update - see Black Thursday.

More Independents Chime In

Raw Story pointed to Watching the blast at the power-mad GOP and the weak and ineffectual Dems.
When will we stand up, America? When will we tell both parties that we have had enough and that this country does not belong to the corporations, but to the American people? When will we tell George Bush and Congress that they are not spending their money, but ours?

Some of us are telling them that, and some of us are trying against all odds to change this nation for the better, so that the people rule it. We are failing miserably, for all our efforts and hard work are only making a small dent in the enormous machine that the people of this country have, by their inaction and ignorance, allowed to be built and foisted on them.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not advocating that we stop trying to fight this machine, I am advocating the exact opposite, that we fight harder, scream louder, and do not allow them to fake us in one direction while they run the ball in the other. This applies to all citizens of this nation, not the right or the left. Our government is out of control, and it is not a government of the people.

The Reality of Red-State-ism

The Fool pointed me to a very interesting memo by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. "The Reality of Red-State Fascism"
Year's end is the time for big thoughts, so here are mine. The most significant socio-political shift in our time has gone almost completely unremarked, and even unnoticed. It is the dramatic shift of the red-state bourgeoisie from leave-us-alone libertarianism, manifested in the Congressional elections of 1994, to almost totalitarian statist nationalism. Whereas the conservative middle class once cheered the circumscribing of the federal government, it now celebrates power and adores the central state, particularly its military wing.

This huge shift has not been noticed among mainstream punditry, and hence there have been few attempts to explain it – much less have libertarians thought much about what it implies. My own take is this: the Republican takeover of the presidency combined with an unrelenting state of war, has supplied all the levers necessary to convert a burgeoning libertarian movement into a statist one.

The remaining ideological justification was left to, and accomplished by, Washington's kept think tanks, who have approved the turn at every crucial step. What this implies for libertarians is a crying need to draw a clear separation between what we believe and what conservatives believe. It also requires that we face the reality of the current threat forthrightly by extending more rhetorical tolerance leftward and less rightward....

There is no need to advance the view that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. However, it is time to recognize that the left today does represent a counterweight to the right, just as it did in the 1950s when the right began to adopt anti-communist militarism as its credo. In a time when the term patriotism means supporting the nation's wars and statism, a libertarian patriotism has more in common with that advanced by The Nation magazine:
The other company of patriots does not march to military time. It prefers the gentle strains of 'America the Beautiful' to the strident cadences of 'Hail to the Chief' and 'The Stars and Stripes Forever.' This patriotism is rooted in the love of one's own land and people, love too of the best ideals of one's own culture and tradition. This company of patriots finds no glory in puffing their country up by pulling others' down. This patriotism is profoundly municipal, even domestic. Its pleasures are quiet, its services steady and unpretentious. This patriotism too has deep roots and long continuity in our history.
Ten years ago, these were "right wing" sentiments; today the right regards them as treasonous. What should this teach us? It shows that those who saw the interests of liberty as being well served by the politicized proxies of free enterprise alone, family alone, Christianity alone, law and order alone, were profoundly mistaken. There is no proxy for liberty, no cause that serves as a viable substitute, and no movement by any name whose success can yield freedom in our time other than the movement of freedom itself. We need to embrace liberty and liberty only, and not be fooled by groups or parties or movements that only desire a temporary liberty to advance their pet interests. more...