Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Christian Right out to destroy civil liberties

Michelle Goldberg writes about the "religious authoritarianism" here at home and the divided future we face. Moderate Christians are in decline and liberals, secularists and Christian nationalists are all on the rise.
Those who want to fight Christian nationalism will need a long-term and multifaceted strategy. I see it as having three parts -- electoral reform to give urban areas fair representation in the federal government, grassroots organizing to help people fight Christian nationalism on the ground and a media campaign to raise public awareness about the movement's real agenda.

My ideas are not about reconciliation or healing. It would be good if a leader stepped forward who could recognize the grievances of both sides, broker some sort of truce, and mend America's ragged divides. The anxieties that underlay Christian nationalism's appeal -- fears about social breakdown, marital instability and cultural decline -- are real. They should be acknowledged and, whenever possible, addressed. But as long as the movement aims at the destruction of secular society and the political enforcement of its theology, it has to be battled, not comforted and appeased.

And while I support liberal struggles for economic justice -- higher wages, universal health care, affordable education, and retirement security -- I don't think economic populism will do much to neutralize the religious right. Cultural interests are real interests, and many drives are stronger than material ones. As Arendt pointed out, totalitarian movements have always confounded observers who try to analyze them in terms of class.
Is it the weather lately making me gloomy?

Person who made up Iranian Badge story invited to meet with Bush as expert

We have met the enemy

Fort Hood, Texas, Summer 1995:

Private Ericsson was the blond-haired blue-eyed epitome of American youth. A little older than his peers at 22, he was often the first to speak up when I called for a response. In this case I had just put forward the question, “What would you do?” to a hypothetical situation in which several prisoners had been captured who may, or may not, know about an ambush the enemy had emplaced for our unit some distance away. The prisoners appeared to be civilians, taken in a village from which we had, in this notional scenario, recently taken fire.

I’d shoot one of them sir, to see if it got the next one to talk,” said Ericsson with a perfectly straight face. The room remained silent.

“WHAT?!” It was not my calmest reply because I was, frankly, stunned. Standing at the front of the room I looked around at the assembled men seated before me. Nobody was leaping to contradict his comment. Their attention was split between us.

Ericsson repeated his response, looking me straight in the eye. “I’d shoot one of them sir. And then, if that didn’t get the next guy to talk, I’d shoot another.”


“Ericsson…” I started to reply, about to tell him how wrong that was, to lecture him and explain about not only the laws of land warfare but how this would additionally be entirely counterproductive in addition to being illegal and immoral, but I stopped myself. If Ericsson thinks this way…

"No, wait…OK, how many of you think that this is the correct response?” Now I was addressing the whole group, most of my company in fact. After a few seconds almost half of the hands went up.
For something lighter check out the Al Gore song.

Iran Exports Anti-Gay Pogrom to Iraq

Shiite death squads in Iraq are carrying out a campaign that targets gay men for murder. This so-called “sexual cleansing” is happening under the nose of the U.S. military—but American authorities in the Green Zone have refused to do anything about it.

The highly organized campaign of beatings, kidnappings and murders of Iraqi gays follows a death-to-gays fatwa issued last October by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the 77-year-old Iranian who is supreme spiritual leader of all Shia Muslims in Iraq. The fatwa, available on Sistani’s official Web site, puts it this way, “The people involved [in homosexuality] should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.”
I could have a number of comments here but it speaks for itself.

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New Iraq Ambassador to U.S. accuses Marines of killing his cousin

Another of those winning hearts and minds moments.

20 Facts About Voting In The USA

I recieved this email from Ken Leach and can't find it online so I will post it here.

Did you know....

1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only
two companies: Diebold and ES&S.

2. There is no federal agency with regulatory
authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine

3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of
ES&S are brothers.

4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush
campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he
was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral
votes to the president next year."

5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman
of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by
ES&S machines.

6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected
with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about
his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.

7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George
W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.

8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in
the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.

9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no
paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no
way to verify that the data coming out of the machine
is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.

10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and
ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and
can generate a paper trail.

11. Diebold is based in Ohio.

12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as
consultants and developers to help write the central
compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes
in 30 states.,2645,61640,00.html

13. Jeff Dean was Senior Vice-President of Global
Election Systems when it was bought by Diebold. Even
though he had been convicted of 23 counts of felony
theft in the first degree, Jeff Dean was retained as a
consultant by Diebold and was largely responsible for
programming the optical scanning software now used in
most of the United States.

14. Diebold consultant Jeff Dean was convicted of
planting back doors in his software and using a "high
degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a
period of 2 years.

15. None of the international election observers were
allowed in the polls in Ohio.

16. California banned the use of Diebold machines
because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold's
claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a
chimpanzee was able to do it! (See the movie here:,2645,63298,00.html

17. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on
unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no
paper trail.

18. All -- not some -- but all the voting machine
errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor
of Bush or Republican candidates.,2645,65757,00.html

19. The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush,
is the President's brother.

20. Serious voting anomalies in Florida -- again
always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically
demonstrated and experts are recommending further

Do you think this would be a huge media story if two big Democratic fund raisers were involved with Diebold and ES&S and if Jeb Bush and Sen. Hagel were replaced with Democratic politicians?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Getting the News

The article on the fake U.S. TV news just before this has caused me to reflect on how people get the news.

It is my belief that most liberals get a wider range and more informed news and opinions that the mainstream. Perhaps it is simple exposure to this that influences the opinions on major issues. If this is the case then exposing moderates to more alternative media would be very useful and over time could move them from moderate to liberal.

This exposure to news and views that conflict with what they believe does not work with conservatives. Some studies on the art of persuading people advise that conservatives will ignore or reject news that doesn't fit their prior beliefs. Conservatives are also frequently tied into an entire community constantly pushing their prejudices and opinions - their worldview. This is the big problem with talk right radio and FOX NEWS, they feed the prejudices and do so while pretending to be presenting facts. Previous studies have shown that people who named FOX NEWS as their number one source for News were not uninformed on facts but actually misinformed - they said they knew stuff that wasn't true. The more recent Pennsylvania poll showing that FOX News viewers over 99% rejecting what a majority of all other news viewers believed supports this and needs to also be further explored. Conservatives will say this is because the liberal media is all wrong and only FOX News and right talk radio gets it right. Show me the evidence since 2000 of the vast liberal media - it has been corporate Right all the time.

Does this work for liberals - constantly pushing conservative news and opinions? Somewhat - but many if not most liberals evaluate sources and value opposing views if they are factual and informed. Liberal churches and groups have meetings and workshops about reaching consensus and respect for diversity. That is totally alien to the conservative worldview.

Why is diversity not part of the conservative mindset? Because American conservatism is another name for authoritarianism. Authoritarianism was a big area of psychological research during and after World War 2 as scientists sought to understand the appeal of totalitarian movements of the left and the right. Authoritarians want one worldview, one set of facts, one set of approved opinions, and want to follow their leader. They are also really motivated by fear but reject this explanation. They want to be strong and posturing and rhetoric and group solidarity makes them feel strong.

Where to get liberal news? If I wanted somebody to get the news that is important to liberals and often not carried by the mainstream I would send them to American Progress Report and have them sign up for the emails. It is not radical left but mainstream liberal news. They are also connected to the Think Progress blog with short takes on the news updated constantly. You can, of course, also just try here and try the links on the left of this post. They can be more fun than the more sober responsible links above.

There are sites on both the left and right that monitor the news. Looking at the sites you can get the difference between the two sides. The right Accuracy in Media site will raise non-factual objections to a media story, often without watching or reading the material. Media Matters for America about 99% of the time documents factual errors. A recent exception had been objecting to a long front page New York Times gossip piece speculating on the Clinton's marriage and their report urging they follow-up with a story on the Bush's marriage problems considering the Globe documented story about the president drinking again and them not talking. There are other Watch sites that watch or read and comment on particular media so you don't have to.

This is not a great blog post - I need to look up and link much more of the claims and don't have time now. I should also try some practical application of this - see if I can sign someone up to the emails and see if their opinions evolve.

U.S. TV News increasing spots by PR firms and government agencies

A new study reveals the growing use by TV news broadcasts of segments produced by PR firms for clients. This is not revealed in the broadcast. Falling into this category are video news releases from U.S. government departments.

An example would be a video produced for the State Department of an Iraqi-American saying "Thank you Bush. Thank you USA." This ran on the news without revealing this was a PR video by the State Department. Another would be of a Halloween tips segment that included numerous shots of Snickers, M&M's and flowers. The corporate owners of 1-800-Flowers and the candies featured funded this undisclosed advertisement.

Tip from James Denton.

Democracy in Action - Vote for MoveOn's Positive Agenda

Out of 10 items they will pick 3 main items to get behind this year.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress

Might get to see this movie today downtown at the Angelika.

Joe Leydon, a long time great Houston movie critic, liked it in Variety - "the scrappy small-budget pic remains persuasive throughout, and occasionally offers "Gotcha!" moments that are laugh-out-loud funny."

Friday, May 26, 2006

Iranian Badge Story Follow Up

Who are you going to call to plant false stories for your propaganda campaigns - Benador Associates, the famous GOP, pro-war, pro-neocon PR firm.

It turns out they are behind the false story of Iran requiring non-Muslims to wear distinctive badges. The story ran with a picture of a Jewish couple from the Nazi era wearing the yellow stars all Jews were made to wear in some countries. It also turns out that the conservative Jewish organization Simon Wiesenthal Center advocating regime change and attacks on Iran was instrumental in keeping the story going. Aaron Breitbart, a senior researcher at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, gets caught in some obvious lies. I don't know the relationship of Aaron to, a news media server farm that Drudge Report keeps busy. Just the usual Vast Right Wing Media Conspiracy. All of this supporting a war the Bush/Cheney administration wants with Iran. Two years ago Iran offered serious talks with the US but talks aren't on the neo-con agenda.

Do you see a difference here?

This is what the Chronicle wants in a Conservative political blogger - passion and controversy and the typical right-wing push-button engrams.

This is what they want in a liberal blogger - thoughtful and with a great command of the facts.

While I think Kuffman is terrific for the Chronicle gig and does demonstrate rather clearly by contrast that liberals inhabit the reality-based community, do you foresee the Chronicle wanting fiery emotional speeches by a liberal on its blog space?

Interesting has been the centrist PoliMom, who can be very good at making it personal. A smart Houston suburban housewife and mother who I feel her brain and heart drag her from the frequent conservatism of many who live in Houston suburbs. That and also that she may not be indoctrinated in church enough.

There has been a debate that liberals and left radicals should be out front pushing radical solutions to problems so the "center space" of American political discourse is not tilted as far to the right with all the publicity the screaming loonies on the right receive. Should there be a radical left blogger, not me - I'm so moderate it scares my political cohorts, on Would the Chronicle just preserve its "balance" be giving Jeff or one of the other frequent further right commenters at his own blog?

Desperate Bob Ney seizes issue that his opponent was interviewed by a lesbian drag queen

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Newest Bush Lie: "I look forward to debating"

Fox News Aired Two Unbalanced Wingnut Documentaries this weekend

News Hounds: Fox News Promotes Phony Documentary Attacking Al-Jazeera.

Media Matters: In a special that "gets to the bottom" of global warming debate, Fox News featured only skeptics, a small minority among scientists.

Republican hypocrisy on civil discourse

Booing of a GOP leader at a commencement proves the lack of civility of the "angry left." Being booed at and needing a police escort to leave after giving an anti-war commencement speech proves the lack of civility and the "angry left" mentality of the speaker.

The latest tome they all speak from is called The Party of Death with Democrats in the subtitle. The author has lately been insisting he means the non-partisan party of death. You know, the one so many people write-in on their ballots.

Baker gets out the knives to review a conservative history of the Goldwater campaign

Kevin has a recent article in Harper's getting a lot of attention but not posted online.

Rich Republican Non-Profits and Oil Companies at it again

The totally BS anti-climate change ads that they are airing.

The only useful information at that site is the big list of wacko GOP funded groups. It starts with the campaign to bring back DDT funded by a pro-business/anti-environment network and ends with an online effort to "educate" Latinos in conservative thought.

Link to TV ads from brother Jim although I had seen them before and dismissed them as so bad they help environmentalists.

Monday, May 22, 2006

NYPost Runs False Story Of Iran making other religions wear ID Tags

A false story to help create the climate for war and demonize the enemy. Link from Atrios.

Wow, just read the DiRita - Galloway exchange also linked from Atrios.

And catch Duncan's post on the 6-month timescales in Iraq.

Firedoglake - Krugman Completes Daou Triangle On Lieberman

McCain Aide Flips Out Over Commencement Address

Wow, where to begin on this one.

The NYT report on the McCain speech, heckling and the pre-emptive counter to McCain's Speech.

Jean Rohe's eloquent essay about why she spoke up.

Arianna's praise for her speaking up.

McCain's Chief of Staff And Speech Writer Responds to Ms. Rohe. Slipping a long comment into her post on Huffington dissing those kids nowadays.

Huffington Post: Top McCain Aide Insults entire graduating class.

Mark Salter and his Anger Management Issues. Not the first time he and his boss have problems keeping their cool and carefully considering their words.

Jean Rohe - a hero or doing her patriotic citizen duty like these other recent people who spoke out?

Free Maureen Dowd Column about the brouhaha- Make Poetry, Not War.

Conservatives feel Bush and Washington GOP not one of them

More GOP infighting on the national level. BTW, some real stupid analysis here, how many voted for Bush over McCain becuase of McCain-FeinGold campaign finance laws?.
Emboldened and interconnected as never before by alternative media, such as talk radio and Internet blogs, many conservatives have concluded that the benefits of unwavering support for the GOP simply do not, and will not, outweigh the costs.

The main cause of conservatives' anger with Bush is this: He talked like a conservative to win our votes but never governed like a conservative.
So do they now recognize he lies to everyone?

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Liberalism now an established political movement

David Sirota blogs about the progress progressives have made. Looking at the 2006 political campaigns conservatives, particularly Democratic conservatives like Lieberman are on the defensive. When more DINOs and corrupt officials leave the better the party will be.

David also catches Knight Ridder nailing Bush for lying about tax cuts.

Ronnie Earle's Office Again Appeals To Get DeLay Indictment Reinstated

Also - House Ethics Panel Would Have Launched DeLay Probe If He Wasn't Resigning

Fort Bend watching the GOP fight

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Google Trends tells you more than the Chamber of Commerce

Mark Morford, our obsessed columnist from San Francisco, is exploring what google searches reveal about communities in the new Google Trends.

Google revelations get a lot of play on Current TV. Google Trends is itself a trend.

Elmhurst, Ill., Loves Gay Porn
Which U.S. city seeks the most sex?
Who wants to impeach Bush the most?
Ask Google Trends

What does Google Trends reveal?

Plame case against Libby and Rove has secret key witness

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has emerged as a key witness in the CIA leak probe, the Daily News has learned.

Armitage's testimony could hurt Vice President Cheney's indicted former chief aide Lewis (Scooter) Libby, or President Bush's political guru, Karl Rove.

Three things wrong with public education: students, teachers, and parents

BlondeSense, who teaches at a community college, has a rant on education. In light of the passage of the recent public education partial funding bill with no school improvements it seems timely. I agree with the problems, not in all of her solutions.

Friday, May 19, 2006

US Marine Massacre of Haditha Women and Children

FOXNews also reporting it. Of course, the right wing nut jobs on the internet are going after Rep. Jack Murtha because you know, telling the American people there was a massacre by our troops gives aid and comfort to the enemy.

Bush didn't wait long for his photo-op

Thursday, May 18, 2006

An interview with accidental movie star Al Gore

For those who remember his ponderous, consultant-driven bid for president, the idea of Gore enjoying anything about campaigning may seem far-fetched. But this time, the campaign's not about him; it's about the issue that has been his consuming intellectual passion for nearly a quarter century: what he calls the "climate crisis." It's a perfect union of dedicated wonk and intractable problem.

9/11 Conspiracy Theories

Everything happens as a result of small organized groups. Later the winners write the history.

Flash - Pentagon Strike - was it a 757? All the evidence it was a 757.

The two recently released videos of American Flight 77 striking the Pentagon. Popular Mechanics debunked most of the 9/11 conspiracy myths including the collapse of the third tower hours afterwards.

The WTC 7 fall is still the most unexplained part of 9/11. Here are videos of that collapse. Some people argue that WTC 7 was demolished by a controlled explosion which is what some people meant when they decided to "pull it." It could also mean they knew it was going to collapse and pulled the men. The argument that WTC 7 was not destroyed by controlled explosions involves a long raging fire, more damage than immediately apparent and odd features of its design. The puffs that look like controlled explosions are floors pancaking.

Judith Miller - I was told in advance the summer of 2001 that Al Qaida would have a huge attack on the US.

Wikipedia - 9/11 conspiracy theories.

Do not attribute to malice and conspiracy what can also be explained by incompetence.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Colbert lampooned conservatives who equated Ahmadinejad letter with Democratic-progressive talking points - with clip

Gov. Perry fails again

While Perry's school finance bill will stay off a court ordered shut down of schools it is a temporary fix taking advantage of a temporary budget surplus. Like Bush, Perry is taking criticism from both left and right for his plans. The Left is mad because this is not a fix, except for a minimal teacher pay raise this does not properly fund schools, and lastly next year and later massive program cuts and tax increases are still needed. The Right is mad because conservatives don't like taxes, don't like new taxes, don't like public schools, and they don't like government or anyone who attempts to govern.

Claiming victory while leaving a $23 billion shortfall is a typical GOP tactic. The core of the GOP in Texas also is not happy at all. There was nothing in the bill wacky enough for their conservative values.

Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Chris Bell and even Kinky Friedman should get a lot of mileage out of this bill which leaves Texas $23 billion short over the next five years. - Gov. Perry: "I'm proud of this bill."
FW Star-Telegram: Critics say tax package doesn't add up

Video Documentary About Bohemian Globe

The story is true. How you interpret it varies on your beliefs.

Scoop: Will Major Media Finally Cover Election Fraud?

A professional survey shows that a majority of Pennsylvania voters who do not get their news from FOX believe that the 2004 elections were stolen.
Here, from that poll, are the stations listed as first choice by respondents and the percentage of respondents who thought the election was stolen: CNN 70%; MSNBC 65%; CBS 64%; ABC 56%; Other 56%; NBC 49%; FOX 0.5%.
The only controversial feature is that these are online Zogby poll participants who may be slightly different, overall more news knowledgeable, from the average voter.

Habitrail For Humanity Under Fire

Some people object to affordable transparent-tube housing for the homeless.

Link from Jill's mostly photo blog. She knows how to have fun with kids.


Local City Governments and Corporate Cronies

Cross-posted at

Looking at Others

Pat Van Houte has been visiting other city councils and meetings to see how they do things. I went with her to the La Porte City Council Meeting.

First - they have a city manager government so the mayor isn't making as many political appointments. Someone from the city managers office and the city attorney have permanent non-voting seats on the council. Other departments make presentations.

Second - citizens have five minutes to speak.

Third - the city council meeting frequently breaks for workshop meetings within the meeting where presentations are made and citizens can speak and get answers. Then they resume the city council meeting.

Fourth - they have public budget presentations. I am not sure if this is quarterly or semi-annually. I did notice unlike Pasadena where the mayor tries to pull the wool over people's eyes it was the person from the city finance department quickly going through slides that did not show his department in a good light.

Overall, at lot more respect for the citizens and a lot more input from them. You do have the large businesses coming in seeking favors but it is more open. People from a business in a development zone were at the meeting.

Not like in Pasadena, where with the head of Second Century (Pasadena's board that plans road improvements - more here) being delayed on his favorite project that benefits his business, the Strawberry Extension, another member of that board it pushing to have the almost unused road in front of his businesses placed at the top of the list for some serious upgrading. You didn't the think the money they free up by not completing the Strawberry Extension would actually go to the streets most in need of repair did you?

Pat Van Houte may not agree with my opinions. She often doesn't - as well as being much more polite.

Ivins: Just the latest crazy Bush move

Pasadena Council seat battle heads to Supreme Court?

Harrison loses again but his lawyer will try to get the Texas Supreme Court to look at the case. The heart of the matter is three mail-in votes for Harrison that were tossed out. As this is the heart of the matter and the decision has been for months that Leroy Stanley won by one vote why has not Stanley been on the Pasadena City Council? The reason is politics - the mayor would prefer Harrison who has acted increasingly beholden to him. It is likely until a court orders it Harrison will remain in office. I am considering asking the City Council and the mayor why are they ignoring the results of all these cases which show that Stanley won. They have the power without a court case to seat the winner.

Are you secretly biased or racist?

The Implicit Association Test.

A very strange sign of the times...

I remember when oxygen was free....

Monday, May 15, 2006

Conservatives urging Bush impeachment over immigration

The measures which Bush's base demands, the ones necessary to really satisfy them -- a huge wall and active deportation -- are far too extreme for Bush to embrace. And yet they aren't going to be satisfied without extreme measures. The media loves to talk about how Democrats are being harmed because "the Left" of the party is dragging it towards policies which are too extreme, but the reality is that dynamic is taking place within, and is threatening to drown, the Republican Party. Bush has very few supporters left. The few he has left are demanding that he adopt immigration positions which he clearly opposes and which would alienate most people in the country. And he is far too weak to satisfy them with symbolic measures.

They are actually debating his impeachment over this issue. What is a 29% President to do?

Tax Cuts DO NOT Pay For Themselves

Mallaby documents continued Republican spin, lying and ignorance.

World Net Daily proposes a "Final Solution" to immigration

A Bush critic on the right:
He will likely offer some negligible resources for law enforcement and border security – resources which will never materialize – in return for an amnesty program that will grant American citizenship to the Mexican nationals who have helped lower America's wage rates by 16 percent over the last 32 years.

And he will be lying, again, just as he lied when he said: "Massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic – it's just not going to work."

Not only will it work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn't possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don't speak English and are not integrated into American society.
When the conservative right finally turns against its leader it can't help but sink into it's deeply loved rhetoric. So are they finally admitting they want the death camps?

Here the writer is refusing to apologize to "illiterates and cretins." Oh, just a little of that libertarian thoughtful free speech. He wasn't really referring to the final solution, just the round-up and transportation and Gestapo in the streets and boxcars part. You know, a good little round'em up and brand them strategy.

Interesting that he claims to be a science fiction writer and a Christian libertarian as well as belonging to MENSA. SFWA and MENSA should have higher standards. I suggest SFWA and MENSA "rid themselves" of him preferably in the same way he is advocating we treat immigrants. The Southern Baptist part I am not surprised at based on my own experiences with their ministers.

A final word from Karl Rove?

The expert at lying and spinning was doing it again but MSNBC had it wrong. Tonight's presidential address is Rove's doing and probably his final word. Nothing says Rove like a proposal that is ineffective but will provide good photo-ops like this temporary proposal to get Bush in front of troops guarding our borders.

There are so many things that are just lies in Rove's statements that are uncritically accepted by Tom Curry, MSNBC's "national affairs writer," which I suppose is a way of saying he is neither an analyst or a reporter but may be both. This story is a good example of what is wrong with our So-Called-Liberal-Media. The SCLM process is if a government official says something reporters shall not give opposing opinions, or even facts, but let the official gush and blather on. As Stephen Colbert said the media's job is to take dictation of the news. (My new definition of a Washington journalist is a dictation machine with a big mortgage.) As my brother says, doesn't this remind you of the Russian media in the Cold War? When a record is kept of all phone calls, particularly of reporters, maybe the media already knows it is like Moscow 1976 and that is why they don't do their jobs. Meanwhile, a bit later we will see Bush patrolling the border with the temporary assigned National Guard troops - blithely ignoring that the easiest way to get into the country illegally is to get a visa and overstay it. The next Karl Rove show will be in conjunction with the neo-cons - looks like a September attack on Iran.

There is some good news. First, Karl Rove should be indicted this week and second that more people now think that President Clinton is more honest than Bush. Finally only the real far out nuts are still supporting Bush.

President Al Gore was on Saturday Night

Saturday, May 13, 2006

When will the SCLM mock Republicans' lack of ideas?

AND Media continue to treat congressional oversight of Bush administration as something to be avoided, not encouraged and not an explicit desired goal as Gingrich had in 94. -- Jamison Foser at Media Matters.


$70 Billion in millionaire tax breaks in an anti-growth tax bill

Center For American Progress:
The tax bill before the President provides a clear incentive to move money away from non-dividend stocks and low-dividend stocks into stocks that pay higher dividends. The problem: Companies that pay dividends grow more slowly than those that don’t; and companies that pay high dividends (the ones made significantly more attractive by the tax bill) grow more slowly than those that pay more modest dividends.

The effect of the tax legislation on its way to the president is to reduce the capital available to businesses that are expanding and creating jobs and move it to older mature companies that have little else to do with the cash other than to pass it back to shareholders in the form of dividends.

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What Is Enlightenment? - Redefining Spirituality for an Evolving World

Sentenced to jail and declared crazy for not liking Bush

Karl Rove Expects to be Indicted

Within the last week, Karl Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources.

Details of Rove's discussions with the president and Bolten have spread through the corridors of the White House where low-level staffers and senior officials were trying to determine how the indictment would impact an administration that has been mired in a number of high-profile political scandals for nearly a year, said a half-dozen White House aides and two senior officials who work at the Republican National Committee. - Jason Leopold - truthout.
Wow, Fitzmas in May! Get ready to celebrate!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Diebold voting systems critically flawed

Coulter and the onset of Fascism

Orcinus on the blonde shriek goddess calling for the street thugs. Related is the ominous rise of hate rock.

Bush ignores the other Iranian letter

The one from the Ayatollah Khameini saying that Iran doesn't want nuclear weapons and wants to talk about the issue with the US.

The Kennedy administration in the 1960's ignored an important Russian letter in the Cuban missile crisis to prevent a war. The Bush administration ignores an important letter to keep on its path toward war.

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Mass Media consolidating behind Bush, again

Media Matters - Flawed Wash. Post /ABC News poll suggested no link between NSA data collection and warrantless spying -- despite Post 's own contrary report

ADDED - NSA - Now Spying on Americans

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Update from Bradblog:
"It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system," said Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who is an examiner of electronic voting systems for Pennsylvania, where the primary is to take place on Tuesday. [ed note: Shamos has been an E-voting proponent in the past, and is the top examiner for the systems in PA]
"This is the barn door being wide open, while people were arguing over the lock on the front door," said Douglas W. Jones, a professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, a state where the primary is June 6.
Aviel Rubin, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, did the first in-depth analysis of the security flaws in the source code for Diebold touch-screen machines in 2003. After studying the latest problem, he said: "almost had a heart attack. The implications of this are pretty astounding." - NYTimes

Bush Approval Dips Into the 20s - before spying revelations

Thursday, May 11, 2006

DC may finally get representation

Wagging the Iranian Dog

June, Fall or Spring? When will Bush attack Iran is the question worrying analysts.

Timing of Iranian attack depends on political advisors like Rove concerned with American domestic politics and the simple case of having enough carrier groups in place. So far the path to war has been identical to that the Bush team conducted for Iraq.

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Secret Service covers up Abramoff visits

The Minimum Wage and Small Business

Increasing the minimum wage leads to higher employment and small business growth? Lance McCord seems to overstate the case. The data actually suggests that states concerned enough about the poor working class to increase the minimum wage are better at job creation and business creation than what I call the hick states that don't care. The data does not show a cause-and-effect relationship with raising the minimum wage leading to job and business growth. Still, many studies have shown there is very little adverse effects from raising the minimum wage and many benefits. I cannot find online right now two separate studies I've read by conservative economists who went looking for the bad effects of raising the minimum wage and found on balance it had more benefits than they expected and was a good policy. This is also the findings of liberal economists.

NSA massive database of Americans' phone calls story breaks

As has been known for months by my readers, the NSA has been recording and storing millions of American phone calls and using sophisticated key word searches* to find information. [*Not in the story but the NSA has this capability.]

These are not overseas calls, these are not terrorists' calls, these are millions of American everyday calls. They monitor everything just to see what might link up and pop up.
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added.
The idiot rightwingnut bloggers who tried to deny and minimize this program sure must be apologizing now = sarcasm. Of course not, don't you know by talking about this we are supporting the terrorists? Sheesh.

Added - Bush lies, depending on what your definition of lie is. Greenwald analysis, only Qwest saw the issue clearly and refused - and the administration refused to get a legal opinion because they were afraid they would lose. CNN's Jack Cafferty: The only thing standing between us and dictatorship is (wishy-washy) Republican Senator Arlen Specter.

The Conservative Nanny State

Economist Dean Baker exposes the myth that the Republican conservatives favor free markets. Instead they favor a "nanny state" for the rich while leaving the rest of America, which is most of us, much worse off. Free 119-page e-book. Link from brother Jim.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Become a Kook-O-Crat for Texas

A different Texas Sharon writes about what happens when you start writing letters to the editor. You find a new name for your political beliefs from the raving crank reponses from the right. As myself and other people who get published in the newspapers can attest, these looney replies are not uncommon.

Like I have accepted and proudly wear the liberal label I might also join the Kook-O-Crat Party.

Sad News - Andrea Clark is Dead

Andrea Clark was very sick but NOT brain dead and St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital had decided against her and her families wishes to pull the plug on her. This was an example of Bush's "futile care" law in Texas. Thanks to the internet and activists from both the left and right that decision was reversed. Sadly her medical conditions got the best of her.

The Houston Chronicle has the story.
The woman at the center of a battle over Texas' futile care law died Sunday, five days after St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital decided to keep treating her terminal illness.
RightMom has an email from one of her family members:
We wish so much that we could have spent more time at our sister's side, when she was living and fighting for her life, rather than having to visit our attorney's office, give interviews to radio and television stations to let the public know of the atrocity about to befall Andrea, and literally stand outside the hospital and beg them not to kill our sister. In attempting to deprive Andrea of the most basic of her human rights "life" St. Luke's Hospital managed to deprive her family and her of that which is most dear to us all, when we are faced with the death of a loved one: a proper goodbye.

How, in the name of God, anyone can call putting someone to death when they are at their most helpless and begging for their lives "ethical" we cannot imagine.
Her struggle against death has brought greater awareness of what passes for "ethics" in Texas hospitals and the need for changes in the law and inspired political opponents to work together.

USAToday: Bush Supporters in Denial

How to tell if you are a Republican

No joke. This is the GOP candidate questionnaire - PDF to replace Tom DeLay. Check out all the questions in part 2 and realize the favored response is the most conservative.

Could you become a John Bircher extremist and replace DeLay? No to all stem cell research, abortion illegal in all cases, kick the UN out of the USA, eliminate the IRS, the legislative branch gets power over the judiciary, you know, all the things in the GOP Texas platform. The only thing they forgot was the return to the gold standard.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

North Harris district blasted for limiting voting locations

In another stealth election, the North Harris Montgomery Community College District has limited poll locations to its college campuses where support for its bond election would be highest. Last election they had 80 voting locations, this time 12. Some citizens in the district now must drive 20 miles to vote.

See my prior post on the La Porte sales tax increase election not being publicized.

When your hospital tries to kill you - California Kaiser's organ transplant fiasco

Hospital horror stories are not confined to Texas. The LA Times discovered that to fill beds in it's hospital Kaiser Permanente suddenly required all kidney transplant patients to have the transplants in it's new understaffed mismanaged transplant center. The transplant center quickly developed the longest waiting list in the country. The paperwork was messed up on those awaiting transplant and the new doctors were reluctant to perform the riskiest operations. The number of transplants performed went way down while deaths went way up.
In 2005, the program's first full year, Kaiser performed only 56 transplants, while twice that many people on the waiting list died, according to a Times analysis of national transplant statistics.

At transplant centers statewide, the pattern was the reverse: More than twice as many people received kidneys than died.

Kaiser also suffered by comparison to the two outside hospitals that previously had tended to its Northern California patients. In each of the two years before Kaiser opened its program, UC San Francisco and UC Davis medical centers together performed at least 168 transplants on Kaiser patients, three times as many as Kaiser managed in its first full year.

"If they couldn't handle as many as they were doing before, they should have just transferred some" patients, said Neva Smith, whose daughter, Alison Bertino, was moved to Kaiser from UC San Francisco.

Bertino, 30, died last June while waiting for a kidney....

The problems at Kaiser went beyond mere growing pains, current and former employees said: Surgeons and kidney specialists battled over who should receive transplants. Desperate patients complained of inexplicable delays. Since the program opened, 10 permanent employees have quit or been fired out of a staff of 22.

Even today, UC San Francisco has about 220 Kaiser patients on its list whose time has not been properly transferred to Kaiser, said Dr. Stephen Tomlanovich, medical director of the university medical center's renal transplant service.
At least in California they don't have the full measure of Texas's draconian "tort reforms" protecting doctors, hospitals and HMO's. That means Kaiser Permanente should have a strong financial incentive to get its act together to counterbalance its financial incentive to let its most expensive sickest patients die.

UPDATE - Patients have lost patience, program being investigated.

I have blogged about the Andrea Clark case in Houston, Texas [last post]. Here the lawyer who helped save her life blogs about the Texas hospitals using the "futile care" law to kill patients and how that was stopped twice recently due to public outrage, not the law.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Power Of The Internet Saves Andrea Clark

Grand Moff Texan has some more on the Texas Medical Futility Act cases and it unifying the left and the right.

Stealth Tax Election in La Porte

The city and school district of La Porte are having an election but good luck finding any information about it. The only notice they are having an election online is buried deep down in the official websites. There may have been a notice in the local free weekly paper which was delivered in the rain with no protection. There was a notice in the water bill you may have seen if you don't rent and if you pay attention to notices stuck in there.

In addition to the seat races, all but one uncontested, they are sneaking in a request for a 0.25% sales tax increase to be dedicated to street improvements. The only contested race is one for the school district. Voting at city hall today, Saturday Monday-Friday next week - other locations later.

Disclosure: I am not that in favor of sales taxes, particularly dedicated funds. I am opposed to important measures being voted on with no publicity. I know nothing about any of the candidates except that my sister who works for a school district says the female at the top of the ticket has a good reputation.

(Been very busy and maybe this weekend I can write about the continued violations of the 1st Amendment in Pasadena.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Winning Formula for Democrats

Ruy Teixeira is arguing for a politics of definition and a fight Republicans everywhere political reorganization. The politics of definition links in this link are well worth a read. That is a real definition on what they stand for the Democratic Party needs to articulate.

To go with this some practical advice for politicians in suburban and rural areas like Foxes in the Henhouse: How the Republicans Stole the South and the Heartland and What the Democrats Must Do to Run 'em Out could be added.

Maybe just a list of books that are useful at this point - Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics and Hostile Takeover : How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government--and How We Take It Back. Two other books are also interesting, Greenwald's very good How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok and the somewhat compromised Carville and Begala tome Take It Back : Our Party, Our Country, Our Future. The last is advocating Dean grassroots politics but with some DLC and consultancy class compromises. Less popular and more pointed toward just one GOP and DLC trait is The Fox in the Henhouse : How Privatization Threatens Democracy.

Meanwhile, the GOP leadership is desperately trying to turn down their immigrant bashing base rhetoric - it is a loser electorally and divides their Evangelical alliance. As the GOP itself splits apart they are doing the Democrats job for them. Right now a recent poll showed that if an anti-immigrant party arose the Republicans would be the weak third party, although the Mystery pollster doubts that would happen in actuality.

A Photo Line-Up from the Past - Sedition in Montana

Link from my brother.

Doug Thompson is back

The reporter and publisher with the most revealing sources from inside the Bush administration has retaken the reigns of Capital Hill Blue after a disaster filled April.

He is one of the few in the media who says what he really thinks. What does he really think of Bush?

An arrogant hothead, paranoid, fear-mongering bully who openly abuses power and who probably sneaks a drink or two during the day. A liar almost every time he opens his mouth who attempts to destroy anyone who crosses him.

Doug Thompson is a true American, a man who crys when a kitten dies and lets the world know where he stands.

Capital Hill Blue looks back in good hands and Doug is also going to try to kick start a reform movement for national politics. I don't agree with him on the solutions but we both recognize some of the problems.

CATO: Bush has shown disdain and indifference to the US Constitution in a "ceaseless push for power"

Original report can be found here.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

America's rags-to-riches dream an illusion?

America may still think of itself as the land of opportunity, but the chances of living a rags-to-riches life are a lot lower than elsewhere in the world, according to a new study published on Wednesday.

Paul Krugman - Death by Insurance

Our health care system is driving a growing number of Americans into financial ruin, and in many cases killing them through lack of basic care.

Me - The death of insurance

I think there are good alternatives but wonder if our political system can get to them. Too many rich players with deep pockets don't mind the current system despite what it is doing to the working class. Only when other rich players with deep pockets see a new system that benefits them will there be a change. The growing hope is that some of our largest companies would love it if health care costs for employees and retirees were suddenly removed from their books. Only a war by other businesses against the current health insurance business will create a new system.

This administration has always put politics above National Security

Before they took office, they were repeatedly told terrorism would be the biggest problem the administration would face in foreign and military policy. Rice, Cheney and Rumsfeld wanted to expand Star Wars and focus on China and Russia and their briefers were repeatedly ignored. History for them stopped when Reagan left office and they came prepared to refight the Cold War.

12 days after taking office the Hart-Rudman Homeland Security Commission gave them a blueprint on how to counter terrorism and create a Department of Homeland Security. They decided to ignore this report and make their own decisions.
More than the absence of weapons of mass destruction or ties between Al Qaeda and Hussein, more than the loss of control in Iraq and the growing casualty rates there, more than the fractured international alliances and inability to build a suitable coalition for a pre-emptive war, more than the record-setting budget deficits or growing trade deficits, more than the lies about the true cost of a massive Medicare expansion, more than underfunding the national mandate for No Child Left Behind, more than the expansion of agribusiness subsidies, more than the flip-flop on steel protectionism, more than the aborted and misconceived plans to go to Mars or bulk-up steroids regulation, and surely more than the immediate capitulation on the Federal Marriage Amendment to include protections for civil unions… more than all of this – combined – the Administration's we-never-need-advice rejection of the Hart-Rudman homeland security assessment, and its blueprint for how to prevent attacks on our homeland, is sufficient and demonstrable proof of the dangers of an Administration that listens only to itself.

We are still a long way from reaching a higher level of homeland security through structural reform. But our government handed the Bush Administration a map and a flashlight on their 12th day in office for how to get there. That Bush at first refused to pick them up, or even notice them, testifies to his myopia. That he continued to ignore the aid and advice of the Hart-Rudman commission after the 9/11 attacks testifies to his reluctance to put the country ahead of his own politics.
Members of the White House and Capital Hill Republicans also repeatedly attempted to shut down the program to secure Russian Weapons of Mass Destruction. "Parts of the administration do not really care if the programmes are shut down because they have always been sceptical of their value."

Of course, there is also the entire Iraq thing instead of focusing on the war on terror....

This post has been floating around in my drafts since last October. It isn't really new, just part of my continued outrage that this administration is dangerous to national security. While they always talk about national security they always place politics and contracts for cronies ahead of it. They are always fighting old wars and ignoring new real threats. In my opinion, they are just a collection of incompetent out-of-date cranky old man and conservative suck-ups.

Some Good Rumbles

I'll try to clear some backlog of links up.

Isaac Asimov has the stirring story and all the lyrics to our national anthem.

John Stewart and Stephen Colbert proud of Stephen's "balls-alicious" performance. ADDED - Bush was ready to blow over the skit.

Our Air Force is unfortunately soaring to the right.

Domestic spying, often pretty stupid, is back. Are Vegan activists the Homeland Security threat that some of our Mayberry Maxwell Smarts think they are?

Freaky or stupid? Bush proclaimed yesterday as Loyalty Day.

The Boston Globe reports that Bush has declared he will disobey 750 laws in a move toward "unlimited executive power."

Glenn Greenwald, who has a new book, notes that the media is finally reporting on Bush's contempt for laws and his descent toward "authoritarian lawlessness."

Texas liberals have a new forum - Texas Kos, but some liberals wish to remain anonymous. In Texas, liberals indicate they are ready to rumble:
A bunch of thieves, thugs, and nutcases took over Texas. Then they used it as a stepping stone to Washington, DC. They raided our treasury, stripped our schools and handed it all to their corporate cronies.

Y'all ready to do something about it?

Andrea Clark Recovering

There are reports that Andrea Clark is showing a great recovery after St. Lukes tried to kill her.
With the entry of a new doctor into the Andrea Clark case, the futility proceedings have been halted as she continues to improve.

"My sister is getting well", Melanie Childers jubilantly said Monday. "Her white blood cell count has been down to normal for the fourth day in a row now and she has been able to get off of the blood pressure raising drugs that she has had to be on for months. She is doing great. Her new doctor, Dr. Matthew Lentz, has also halved the amount of pain medications that she is taking so that she can talk to her family. He says that her condition is 'serious' but that she does have the ability to get much better."

"The futility proceedings are stopped now", Andrea's sister says. "Because this new doctor took over her case, it is all stopped. I'm so happy, I don't know what to think or say or do. Not only is my sister not going to be put to death by St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital but it also looks like she is recovering from her heart surgery, finally".
Euthanize the Texas "futile care" law, not the patients
Disability rights advocates are questioning the law, which allows a physician to overrule a patient or their authorized decision-maker in denying wanted life-sustaining treatment.

Futile care policies do not generally require that the treatment be objectively futile, but allow doctors to use subjective criteria such as quality of life judgments and even economic factors as grounds for denying treatment, according to the disability rights group Not Dead Yet.

"We think that all health care consumers should be questioning whether it's advisable, or even constitutional, for doctors to have this kind of power," said Diane Coleman, president of the organization.
Please note, I support patients and family having the right to remove life sustaining equipment. I also support the ultimate right of suicide if that is a person's desire but feel it is nearly always a very bad choice. Some outrageous actions like this travesty at St. Luke's can make strange blogging and political bedfellows.

UPDATE from - Democratic Underground and RightMom. Andrea is doing tremendously better although she has another operation scheduled tomorrow. Looks confirmed that she has been removed from "futile care" status.

Monday, May 01, 2006

New Andrea Clark Post on Daily Kos

Andrea Clark has been ill a long time. One of the first "blue babies" saved by modern medical technology, she had some handicaps and heart problems but had a satisfactory life with her knitting and her online friends. But she has the misfortune to live and become sicker in Texas, where hospitals and doctors decide who receives continued life-support under the most draconian "futile care" law in the nation.

Ten days ago an "ethics committee" at her hospital said they would pull the plug on her respirator and dialysis machine despite the fact she was fully cognisant when awake and off of her massive doses of pain medications. Her doctor said this was Andrea's wish but when asked the next day she wrote her sister "I want to live."

Her wishes don't matter.

The Blue Dog Coalition, Fiscally Responsible Democratic House Members

The Blue Dog Coalition was founded in 1994 to provide a unified voice for moderate members of the Democratic Party in the US House of Representatives, particularly on economic issues.

The term "Blue Dog" originated from the "blue dog" paintings of Louisiana artist George Rodrigue, whose art hung in the offices of several original members of the coalition.

Although political views of the 37 Blue Dog Coalition members of the 109th Congress (2005-06) range from conservative on hot-button social issues to progressive on trade and immigration, the Blue Dogs are strongly united on fiscal responsibility and budgetary matters.

Writes the Blue Dog website, "The Coalition has been particularly active on fiscal issues, relentlessly pursuing a balanced budget and then protecting that achievement from politically popular 'raids' on the budget. Past Coalition budgets have won the endorsement of the nonpartisan Concord Coalition and multiple newspaper and magazine editorials. As one column pointed out, the Blue Dogs have proven that 'common sense, conservative economics and compassion aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.'"

Regarding issues facing the 109th Congress, "the Coalition intends to continue to make a difference in Congress by forging middle-ground, bipartisan answers to the current challenges facing the Country. A top priority will be to refocus Congress on balancing the budget and ridding taxpayers of the burden the debt places on them."
The Blue Dog website highlights a little noticed government document that show the budget deficit last year was really more than twice what the administration reported.
One of the startling revelations of the 158 page report, titled "Financial Report of the United States Government 2005", was the admission from Secretary Snow that the U.S. deficit under practical business accounting methods in 2005 was $760 billion - more than double the more widely reported $319 billion.

The Treasury report reinforces what the Blue Dogs have been saying for years: there is a complete lack of transparency, honesty, and accountability in the budget process. With House Republicans set to mark-up their budget next week, the Blue Dog Coalition calls for honesty, accountability and transparency in the budget, and urges Congress to adopt the Blue Dog 12-Step Plan for curing out nation's addiction to deficit spending.
Texas no longer has any members of the Blue Dog Coalition although most Democrats share their views on the deficits and contrast their party with the "borrow and spend" Republicans. Some of the internal Democratic politics about Blue Dogs can be seen in the Wikipedia entry. On a big issue last year, the credit card company and banking industry bankruptcy bill nearly all of the Blue Dogs were on the wrong side and did not force the extensive changes needed or reject the bill. The credit industry spent $100 million getting that bill through Congress and they got more than their money's worth. Have the Blue Dogs gotten too beholden to business interests? Is there a need for the Blue Dogs at all except for some members local political interests?

I have more questions than answers. My belief is if you claim to be compassionate conservatives and fiscally responsible you should not favor credit card companies over people whose medical expenses plunge them into bankruptcy.