Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It was all about the oil....

A Short Altercation on the media

The So-called-liberal-media

Nixon - Kissinger Cover-Up of American POWs in Vietnam?

These facts are known.

In the Paris Peace Accords ending the U.S. War against Vietnam, the U.S. promised reparations to Vietnam. Vietnam promised assistance in determining the fate of all American MIAs.

There was a separate signed agreement by Nixon, and negotiations in Hanoi with Kissinger, that the American reparations would be $4.75 billion dollars over five years.

On April 1, 1973 less than 600 American POWs returned to the United States released by North Vietnam.

The United States never paid the reparations agreed to.

Since 1973 North Vietnam has given limited support to determining the fate of MIA's, pointing to the letter signed by Nixon promising $4.75 billion dollars.

There have been persistent reports of more POWs in Vietnam and Laos never returned to the United States.

Watergate occurred and Nixon resigned in 1974. In 1975 South Vietnam was conquered and reunited with North Vietnam.

Now to the recent allegations in An Enormous Crime.

North Vietnam had received advice from Fidel Castro in Cuba who had received ransom money for the Bay of Pigs prisoners. The $4.75 billion dollars was supposed to be the ransom for the American POWs in Vietnam. North Vietnam released around half the POWs and was to release the rest upon the payment of the money. Nixon was fighting for his political life as the POWs were being released and felt he could not get money from Congress. Nixon and Kissinger just declared that was all the prisoners, the war was over. The official cover-up begins.

Vietnam, uncertain how to respond, simply told each visiting delegation from the United States and made repeated contacts through third parties that it had more information on MIAs in return for the agreed to $4.75 billion dollars. The United States never responded to these offers and Cheney offered an explanation years later - if it was ever believed that the United States government left men behind after a war it would destroy the U.S. military, break the bond of trust between soldiers and their government.

The accusation in the book is that Nixon, Kissinger, Ford, Cheney and a long series of high-level Washington officials have known about hundreds of American POWs held in Vietnam and as a matter of policy have repeatedly destroyed the evidence to keep this from coming out.

Rep. Bill Hendon and MIA activist Elizabeth Stewart have lots of documents and some other information including satellite photos to make their case.

Without my having read the book, it suffers from one major flaw. If Vietnam had hundreds of Americans it had not turned over it is totally illogical and unbelievable they would not have used them to put more public pressure on the United States to honor its agreement to provide billions of dollars in aid as Nixon had agreed to. While frightened of United State viciousness and military might and Nixon at the time, in the decades since it has had numerous opportunities to do so.

There is a difference between Vietnam claiming it has more information on MIAs and it holding hundreds of POWs, this is often conflated in the arguments by the authors.

There is another minor flaw, Republicans Hendon and Stewert are counting on the "honorable" Dubya to do the right thing and send a high level team or person to Vietnam to make the deal. If their story is true, the allegations of Republican dishonor and deceit would be very bad for the GOP and they would try to avoid this. Democratic officials have plausible deniability as to the extent of their knowledge. If high-level Democrats have known about this it makes for even fewer people wanting for this to come out. Besides, after reading two biographies and being otherwise well informed on the Bush's I have never known the person occupying the Oval Office now to ever have done an honorable thing if a dishonorable choice was available.

I have no doubt that a few American POWs could be in Southeast Asia. Some could be held by Laotian groups. Perhaps a few held by Viet Cong in jungles and tunnels that were remote from the North Vietnamese when the deal was arranged. Perhaps some POWs brainwashed or otherwise who had provided aid to the Vietnamese and might feel ashamed or frightened to return to the United States. North Korea had perfected techniques in the Korean war that had spread rapidly to other communist countries and later to the Western secret services like the CIA who admired their effectiveness.

I have no doubt Nixon and other officials like Cheney are dishonorable enough to do this but the principle claim of hundreds of American POWs still in Vietnam is unbelievable. It is a sad fact that had the reparations been paid we would know more about the MIAs and this leverage may have delayed the eventual takeover of South Vietnam by the North, one of the Nixon-Kissinger reasons for the five-year reparations deal.

This was discussed on Coast to Coast AM last night.

Valeries Plame was covert when outed

In 2004, President Bush promised to fire anyone in his Administration that was involved in the leak. Karl Rove was one of the two sources columnist Robert Novak used when he revealed Plame's identity. Bush has yet to follow through and fire Rove. Cheney and Novak have also yet to be charged with treason for outing a covert CIA agent who had taken numerous covert trips abroad on missions in the five years preceeding her outing. Her latest missions were believed to be preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons grade material.

Right wing media and blog sites have never apologized for supporting her outers and that continues to this day. They would have to admit they were repeatedly and consistently wrong on yet another issue and have supported traitors. Several guests, primarily Fred Rustmann and Reuel Marc Gerecht and Victoria Toensing but also others, on Fox News had also repeatedly told false stories about her status when they were in no position to know. Cokie Roberts on more mainstream shows also repeated that she was not covert but later backtracked.

Get the real story, avoid Fox News and other right wing propaganda outfits without doing independent fact checking. Studies have shown that Fox News viewers are the most ignorant and misinformed on basic top news stories.

Orwell rolls in his grave

Britain is in the process of upgrading its widespread public surveillance cameras to nannycams with loudspeakers so citizens can be scolded if they do something wrong while being monitored. See Niven's Copseyes in Anarchy Parks for a near prediction of this in 1972.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

‘Put Everything’ Behind Escalation So We Can Bomb Iran and Syria"

Wrong repeatedly and consistently for almost five years, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol and fellow neoconservative Frederick Kagan advocate more war, more war, more war. Frederick Kagan, despite never serving in the military but being a military historian, is believed to be the major developer of Bush's current escalation policy in Iraq.

"The Myth of the Rational Voter"

The New York Times has a short article on the new book by a libertarian economist looking at democracy.

Here was my earlier link from In These Times.

William agrees with my earlier post here - what incentive do experts, and economists, have to be right?

Bryan Caplan seems to have one idea "bad policy is good politics because it's popular" and analyzes everything from US elections to the rise of Hugo Chavez with it. He pre-assumes his Libertarian economic policies are correct. That is debatable.

A supporter once called out, “Governor Stevenson, all thinking people are for you!” And Adlai Stevenson answered, “That’s not enough. I need a majority.”

Amazon $29.95, not cheap.

Is this book making a bit of a splash because it advocates the wisdom of the elite class - the neo-Straussian fallacy?

Joss Whedon on the Entertainment Value of Watching a Woman get Beaten to Death

Last month seventeen year old Dua Khalil was pulled into a crowd of young men, some of them (the instigators) family, who then kicked and stoned her to death. This is an example of the breath-taking oxymoron “honor killing”, in which a family member (almost always female) is murdered for some religious or ethical transgression. Dua Khalil, who was of the Yazidi faith, had been seen in the company of a Sunni Muslim, and possibly suspected of having married him or converted. That she was torturously murdered for this is not, in fact, a particularly uncommon story. But now you can watch the action up close on CNN. Because as the girl was on the ground trying to get up, her face nothing but red, the few in the group of more than twenty men who were not busy kicking her and hurling stones at her were filming the event with their camera-phones.

There were security officers standing outside the area doing nothing, but the footage of the murder was taken – by more than one phone – from the front row. Which means whoever shot it did so not to record the horror of the event, but to commemorate it. To share it. Because it was cool.

Women’s inferiority – in fact, their malevolence -- is as ingrained in American popular culture as it is anywhere they’re sporting burkhas. I find it in movies, I hear it in the jokes of colleagues, I see it plastered on billboards, and not just the ones for horror movies. Women are weak. Women are manipulative. Women are somehow morally unfinished. (Objectification: another tangential rant avoided.) And the logical extension of this line of thinking is that women are, at the very least, expendable.

I try to think how we got here. The theory I developed in college (shared by many I’m sure) is one I have yet to beat: Womb Envy. Biology: women are generally smaller and weaker than men. But they’re also much tougher. Put simply, men are strong enough to overpower a woman and propagate. Women are tough enough to have and nurture children, with or without the aid of a man. Oh, and they’ve also got the equipment to do that, to be part of the life cycle, to create and bond in a way no man ever really will. Somewhere a long time ago a bunch of men got together and said, “If all we do is hunt and gather, let’s make hunting and gathering the awesomest achievement, and let’s make childbirth kinda weak and shameful.” It’s a rather silly simplification, but I believe on a mass, unconscious level, it’s entirely true. How else to explain the fact that cultures who would die to eradicate each other have always agreed on one issue? That every popular religion puts restrictions on women’s behavior that are practically untenable? That the act of being a free, attractive, self-assertive woman is punishable by torture and death?

Fitzgerald: Libby Protected Cheney

Libby lies prevented investigation into CIA agent's outing from going further.

Shrum and Dumber

One of the idiotic Democratic DC consultants has written a book.

The Texas Speaker's race starts now

Limping out of town after surviving House revolts, Craddick didn't accomplish much for the GOP or Gov. Perry who will likely call a special session soon. Teachers got a 1% pay raise and couples will pay twice as much for a marriage license unless they take a premarital training class. As John says: Governor Perry got a $32,000 pay increase, the Attorney General got a $25,000 increase, and the Director of the Teachers Retirement System got a $151,000 increase.

More on the final days.

Martin Frost: Why House Republicans Will Fall Short in 2008

Media Matters - Left Behind: The Skewed Representation of Religion in Major News Media

Does it surprised anyone that although the Religious Right and the Religious Left are almost exactly the same size the so-called-liberal-media reports the views of conservative religious leaders 2.7 to 3.8 times as often as moderate and liberal religious leaders? Discussion and chart.

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You owe $516,348 to the Feds

Bush's legacy, an incredibly expanding deficit.
The federal government recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year — far more than the official $248 billion deficit — when corporate-style accounting standards are used, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The loss reflects a continued deterioration in the finances of Social Security and government retirement programs for civil servants and military personnel. The loss — equal to $11,434 per household — is more than Americans paid in income taxes in 2006.

Unfunded promises made for Medicare, Social Security and federal retirement programs account for 85% of taxpayer liabilities. State and local government retirement plans account for much of the rest.

This hidden debt is the amount taxpayers would have to pay immediately to cover government's financial obligations. Like a mortgage, it will cost more to repay the debt over time. Every U.S. household would have to pay about $31,000 a year to do so in 75 years.

Contrary to rumors, U.S. Rep. Lampson says he's not running for U.S. Senate

U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Stafford, won't run next year for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican John Cornyn of Texas, but San Antonio lawyer Mikal Watts is poised to launch an exploratory committee.

Other Democrats thought to be looking at the race include former state Comptroller John Sharp and state Rep. Rick Noriega of Houston.

I Finally Updated The Blogroll

There is a high profile Texas political blogger I debated including. I think he is a has-been who is usually wrong even if he has many high level contacts and I believe he displays frequent lapses in judgement. His not posting of critical comments that disagree with him, including mine, tipped the decision - Burka at Texas Monthly is out. Like I am sure he cares.

I am now considering what Texas right bloggers and so-called-liberal-media I might link to. I will probably just keep them on my browser bookmarks and not add them here.

I have left on Memeorandum which is a right and left political blog feed with a slight right tilt. I have added Taegan Goddard's Political Wire which may have a slight left tilt but includes both left and right blog feeds. Glenn Greenwald, and others, is available through the opinions link. I have also added the Radical Middle although many of the blogs linked there are not in the middle, Ann Althouse?, Dean's World??, but dissatisfied or even satisfied Republicans and conservatives.

I know I've forgotten some - comment or email me with suggestions or corrections. BTW - Greenwald has another great moment in right-wing-nut fake news, a fake memo that wasn't.
Just contemplate the deep shame and sense of remorse that a normal, healthy person would feel after spewing that kind of venom at people, including a former Green Beret, who were completely right. But they don't. Like the brilliant pundits whose every proclamation about the Iraq war turned out to be false yet who still parade around as proud and pompous experts, right-wing bloggers continuously hurl accusations like this and then, when proven wrong, simply move on to the next accusatory orgy without any real acknowledgment of wrongdoing or apology.
Too bad Greenwald wasn't around when they smeared Dan Rather with fake document analysis, some good analysis here - (PDF). Just another shameful example of so-called-liberal-media journalism.

Bookstore owner burns books in protest

Hardly anyone is reading so a large used bookstore owner is burning his thousands of books in protest. See Fahrenheit 451 about another society that gave up on reading in favor of TV. Link from David.

American Wars Expanded Democracy

I have long held that the Great Depression and World War 2 expanded civil rights and democracy in the United States as nearly everyone felt a sense of community and had an appreciation for the role of government and encouraged the democratic participation of all. The link above to cannonfire reminds us that the American Civil War and the Revolutionary War also expanded democracy by expanding the voting franchise of soldiers with a profound influence.

Make it easier for soldiers to vote.

Boing Boing: Venezuelan media crackdown: the other POV

I don't have much to add to this but before lying propagandists who advocate the violent overthrow of government are made into martyrs of free speech people should check out The Revolution Will Not Be Televised - view for free here. Instead of closing the station down should management and on-air broadcasters have been put on trial for treason instead?

The Houston Chronicle went with an AP story, relatively balanced for them.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Another GOP front group for Voter-ID fraud disappears

Are RNC and GOP high-level insiders getting out fast before the Department of Justice stories leads to their voter ID fraud front groups?

Along with the American Center for Voting Rights I previously reported on, the Free Enterprise Coalition entirely funded by GOP operatives and entirely concerned with supposed voter ID fraud cases has shut down and tried to disappear. The Free Enterprise Coalition provided millions in funding for losing voter ID fraud cases. Like the ACVR it was entirely funded and supported by donors and officials of the Republican Party.

Is this connected to the real 2004 vote fraud cases in Ohio with RNC computers being used to count the Ohio vote on software written by gushing Bush admirers?

Free Republic Purge: Conservative Web Site Bans Giuliani Supporters

Not since their abrupt about face on the Bush campaign has there been such turmoil in Freeper land. "Freedom is about authority" Rudy is too moderate for the right-wing nuts.

What Congress Really Approved: Benchmark No. 1: Privatizing Iraq's Oil for US Companies

Is there any surprise here?

Bush went into Iraq for the same reason we overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran and installed a vicious dictatorship - control of the oil for U.S. and British corporations.

This is the same reason there is a propaganda campaign of immense proportions to destabilize Venezuela. Chavez is opposed to foreign oil companies.

There are only two elected officials in DC who have acknowledged this - Rep. Kucinich and Rep. McDermott.

Altruism appears hard-wired into the brain

I commented the other day that mammals have an instinctual dislike of inequality. This is related to the current research showing that doing good activates some of the most primitive areas of the brain. I am not sure if this supports David Icke's hypothesis that Republicans and the secret rulers of the world have alien reptilian ancestry and only appear human in public.

I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty

Andrew J. Bacevich responds to the loss of his son in Iraq. Two of the many messages of condolences accused him of causing his son's death by opposing Bush's unnecessary war. You have to hand it to those wacko Bush supporters - combining ignorance and lack of class.

Continued Texas House Anarchy

GOP splits between those who support Craddick dictatorship and those who don't.

Texas Democratic Party Chairman: Republican lack of leadership costly for Texas.
"Throughout three regular legislative sessions, five special sessions, and two election cycles, the Texas Democratic Party has warned Texans about the dangers of abusive one party rule that was put in place in a 2002 election effort marked by the TRMPAC scheme that toppled Tom Delay.

Speaker Craddick's abuse of power has created a crisis that threatens the legislature's ability to address the basic needs of Texas families and communities.

The chaotic breakdown on the floor of the Texas House is the culmination of four years of failed Republican leadership that has repeatedly turned its back on the best interests of Texans in a blind pursuit of power.

"Lyndon Johnson's mistress claims LBJ told her that he had JFK killed!"

E. Howard Hunt's deathbed confession adds to the number of confessions that LBJ was behind the JFK shooting.

Update: One of these things doesn't belong, one of these items is not like the others.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pass the Popcorn - Dictatorship and anarchy in Texas House

House Speaker Craddick proclaims himself dictator and refuses to recognize House members as the two House Parliamentarians resign. House members were calling for a vote to ask the Speaker to vacate his office. Contrary to apparent House rules Craddick refused to recognize the motions and made a number of other actions not recognized by Robert's and the Texas House rules of order.
Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick, clinging to power in the face of a rising mutiny, sparked a firestorm in the House chamber Friday night when he asserted absolute authority to cut off any moves to boot him from office.

Within two hours, House Parliamentarian Denise Davis and her assistant had resigned.

And Craddick used his newly declared power all night.
Anarchy in Texas Capital.

Texas House falls into Chaos.

Texas reporter blogging. At least one bad bill dies due to the anarchy. Texas conservative Christians won't think so, on an illogical and apparently badly written bill promoting Christian free speech in schools.

Keep up with Austin chaos here.

My comment - typical GOP disrespect for the rule of law. Christians can't expect any sensible government or laws out of a party that campaigns on hating government. Molly Ivins would have loved this demonstration of our elected Texas fools and clowns in action.

Who’s Afraid of Democracy? Capitalist Conservatives

In several recent experiments it has been shown that mammals object to inquality and desire fairness, sorry, only one human experiment is discussed in this article. Some economists are developing a theory that voters make bad and illogical political decisions while they make rational personal economic decisions. "Believing that “people are rational as consumers and irrational as voters,” many conservatives would favor free markets without democracy."

Conservative economists are leaving many holes in developing that argument. You can start with considering how many of your friends, relatives and neighbors generally make good personal economic decisions. Always? Then think about the supposition that logical and rational voting for the majority of the voters should promote more unfettered capitalism and more inequality.

More questions - how free are our markets? Would freer markets be better - refer to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and life before the FDA in your answer. Do Libertarians ignore the loss of liberty economic inequality can cause? Are all conservative economists unbiased researchers? Can you demonstrate that with economic arguments?

A recent conservative blog post proposed that undocumented workers perhaps could remain as permanent residents, if they lost the right to vote among other conditions. How can you tell if this is more an economic argument or a social argument or a prejudiced argument?

On-air spat hastens Rosie's 'View' departure

I went to Canada to get a relatively detailed, relatively balanced account of the dispute. The Republican at first refused to say she didn't believe Rosie compared our troops to terrorists. Rosie refused offers to ignore this and "Defend your own thoughts." That was about a 10-minute angry tearful argument.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Weekend - looking back on an Iraq timeline

As we reflect this weekend on over 3400 soldiers lost fighting the wrong war in the wrong place against the wrong enemy for the wrong reasons and while making more enemies and the world a worst place for America here is a review of the Iraq war.

I am now telling people if they have been wrong for over four plus years on this war to STFU, just shut up, you are no longer entitled to have your silly-assed opinions listened to. This knocks out most of the so-called-liberal media and about all of the false macho scaredy-cat Republicans weeping crocodile tears. It especially includes the President and Cheney. Our Alamo in Baghdad.

CIA issued dire warnings before Iraq invasion.

Our troops are dying for this lying incompetent SOB? Have a nice weekend Republicans, you don't deserve our soldiers dying for you and for our liberties you mock and for our democracy you shred at home. Try to come back to reality soon and drag your President with you.

Meanwhile, Edwards offers support plan for troops while GOP candidates wrap themselves in the flag. John Edwards: A Strong Military for a New Century.

1967: "If we quit Vietnam, tomorrow we'll be fighting in Hawaii, and next week we'll have to fight in San Francisco."

Added - Rep. Murtha voted yes for the supplemental "for the troops," but says by September there will be the votes to end the war. We'll see, right now I don't think the Democrats have the votes to stop this lying crazy administration if Bush and Cheney attacked Iran tomorrow to "protect our troops." Murtha: ""We have lost 418 of our fellow Americans since the president announced his surge, and come September, with your help, we can convince my colleagues from across the aisle that enough is enough. For almost two years, I have tried diligently to redeploy our forces from Iraq, and I will not stop now."

As Democrats Collapse on Iraq, NYT/CBS Poll Finds Public More Antiwar Than Ever.

Now that it has won a temporary political victory, reports are that the White House plans major troop cuts next year.

Greg Palast-The Goods on Goodling and the Keys to the Kingdom

Goodling confessed Karl Rove's plot to wipe-out the votes of hundreds of black soldiers serving in Iraq - and the Senators and the media didn't notice.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cheney attempting to start Iran war bypassing Bush

A respected DC insider reports that Cheney aides have been working the think tanks to prepare for a war with Iran, bypassing the path Bush is on using diplomacy with Condi Rice.

As three U.S. carriers enter the Persian Gulf yesterday tension ratchets up again. Off-the-record official U.S. briefings recently claimed Iran was behind the surge in violence in Iraq and was preparing more for this summer and the neo-cons are preparing the groundwork to justify a new war.

Iran is going to be a much much bigger blowback than Iraq. The Middle East and the GWOT is the way it is today because of blowback from our earlier Iran and Afghanistan policies. Interesting that the administration is trying to bring back the GWOT phrase after banishing it because it is useful for the simple-minded followers in the political arena.

Hospital bed handy for Gallegos, Texas government

Mario Gallegos had to risk his life to keep phony voter ID bill from passing. He had a hospital bed set up in the Texas Senate offices as his body appears to be rejecting his recent liver transplant. Only his vote could stop the GOP from requiring all voters to present photo ID when voting, a measure designed to knock off a few seniors, minorities and handicapped from voting Democratic.

The courageous lawmaker explained his actions here, his grandmother is one person who would lose her right to vote if the Republicans had their way.

As the session winds down, thankfully there will be no voter-ID bill. There will also be no Texas early primary, no to numerous pieces of good (moratorium on toll roads, extending the time on hospital death decisions) and bad (most things the Republicans promised their voters) legislation as the GOP is unable to effectively govern Texas and the House teeters on a Speaker revolt.

A party that campaigns against government should not be placed in charge of government.

What the war is doing to our soldiers.

The cost of war - a Jim link.

Showing lack of leadership, Congress to give Bush his war money

This is weak, blame Rahm Emanuel and DLC Democrats.

ADDED: Olberman special comment: "You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions — Stop The War — have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans."

From's Joan Walsh: Can Dems spin Iraq war cave-in as a victory?

Greenwald: Things are getting better in Vietnam Iraq. War propagandists always have one story the media like Time's Joe Klein always fall for.

Reasoned political discourse

Can be found here at The NonSequitur. Unreasoned political discourse is found on the radio. Driving yesterday afternoon I couldn't find anything but ignorant Republican clowns and the discourse was simply dismissing all opponents as unpatriotic traitors.

My particular sore point has been KTRH AM 740's move away from reasoned news and opinions. But KTRH made a business decision that hiring people to create arguments on the radio is cheaper than hiring news reporters. They could actually be worse, they haven't closed down their news room entirely and the majority of their shows are local and are not usually extreme right wing nut. Like CNN Headline News, they are trying out personable but ignorant guys like Glen Beck to fill space and sell commercials and get that tiny fraction of the audience that watches or listens to those views. (Glen has been a ratings disaster.) KTRH uses Chris Baker and Joe Pags as personable conservative guys who like to gab. Intelligence and facts aren't required but having a view that corresponds to conservative businessmen driving around may gain more listeners in the Houston market.

When more people object to clownish arguments and views on the radio the clowns will go off the air. That may be happening as the radio audience diminishes and satellite radio and podcasts that offer a wider selection of alternative views takes its place.

It would be nice if someone in the Houston area picked up Ed Schultz and/or Thom Hartman but I may break down and go to recorded podcasts of their shows.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Small Webcasters Offered a Rate Break, Reject It

RIAA offers to only destroy large Internet radio stations, for now. This is in order to avoid the Internet Radio bill moving in the House and Senate that actually offers a means for Internet Radio to survive.

Movement to Disempower Electoral College Picks Up Steam

North Carolina votes to give its electoral votes to national vote winner if other states do so. This is defacto creating a national election for the presidency and bypassing the electoral college. In five states this measure has passed at least one house. If states representing 270 electoral votes pass this it is all over except the Supreme Court fight.


Little bits of Gore

In a perfect world Al Gore is president and we have flying cars that run on vegetable oil - Family Guy.

Will Gore not run because he is having too much fun giving a big "I told you so" to the DC establishment? E.J. Dionne: "Boy, it would be fun if Al Gore changed his mind and ran for president—fun for the voters, anyway. Imagine a candidate whose pre-election book is devoted in large part to an attack on the media for waging war on reason."

LA Times: Al Gore, uncensored, in 'The Assault on Reason'
As he explains in his new book, the American political system has degenerated into a rigged game that suppresses honesty and rewards deception.

To anyone paying attention over the last few decades, the underlying causes that Gore identifies will be familiar, including the ascendancy of mindless television, the domination of corporate money, the concentration of ownership in influential media and the decline of engaged citizenship.
AP - Some in Silicon Valley still dream of Al Gore 2.0 for president
Since losing the 2000 election, Gore has become an environmental crusader and technology insider. He is on Apple's board of directors, advises Google and has his own startup.

The former vice president, who insists he is not running again for the White House in 2008, has close ties to some of the biggest names in the technology industry.
Al Gore's New Book Examines 'The Assault on Reason' Gore explains "why logic and reason and the best evidence available and the scientific discoveries do not have more force in changing the way we all think about the reality we are now facing."

Draft Gore Movement.

I have a dream, re-elect Al Gore.

Al Gore is the Gold Standard.

NYTimes: Al Gore Speaks of a Nation in Danger In “The Assault on Reason”
Al Gore excoriates George W. Bush, asserting that the president is “out of touch with reality,” that his administration is so incompetent that it “can’t manage its own way out of a horse show,” that it ignored “clear warnings” about the terrorist threat before 9/11 and that it has made Americans less safe by “stirring up a hornets’ nest in Iraq,” while using “the language and politics of fear” to try to “drive the public agenda without regard to the evidence, the facts or the public interest.”
He also drives conservatives even crazier.

Update: Does TIME think Gore is the sexy old boyfriend ready to start up again?

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rolling Stone : The Last Confessions of E. Howard Hunt

E.Howard Hunt makes a deathbed confession. He confesses knowledge of the LBJ/CIA/Mafia/Cuban exiles/secret rulers plot that killed John F. Kennedy. "I had always assumed, working for the CIA for so many years, that anything the White House wanted done was the law of the land." As hated as JFK had become in nationalist conservative circles LBJ was the de facto president who benefited from and protected the members staging the coup d'état. E. Howard Hunt writes a memo with LBJ at the top and sends a tape to his son confessing what he knows. Will this change any minds? No.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Andrew Bacevich, father and son

One of the principled conservative military historians and scholars and former Army officer to offer opposition to Bush's war was Andrew Bacevich. In 2006 his Op-Ed "What's an Iraq Life Worth" in the Washington Post was a refreshing change in that it acknowledged that as we kill Iraqis we make their families and friends the new insurgents and Bush's policies explicitly don't value Iraqi civilian lives. He also wrote about Americans being seduced by war and military solutions in his book: The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War.

What is Andrew Bacevich's Son's Life Worth? Coming from a long line of soldier's his son became an officer and was recently killed in Iraq. I almost wrote Vietnam in a flashback. That was his father's hopeless war.

Like in Vietnam, we are achieving nothing in Iraq for the blood of our young and talented to be sacrificed for.

James Fellows:
That a man who himself served in an ill-advised war should now lose a son to a war the father tried to prevent is almost too painful to contemplate. All the deaths in Iraq are wrenching for the families involved. Perhaps this one might bring an extra moment’s reflection, or shame, to the people now persisting in a doomed policy. Perhaps.

Let us honor the memory of Lt. Andrew Bacevich and extend sincere condolences to Col. Bacevich (Ret.) and his family. Let us urge our leaders, as the elder Andrew Bacevich has done, to reconsider their course of folly.

The incredible, disappearing fraudulent voter fraudulent center

The GOP set up a supposedly independent voter's rights group that was the only citizen's group claiming there was a massive problem with voting fraud in this country. It's work was cited all over the country in every state as Republican legislators tried to make it harder for the elderly, the disabled, the minorities, the poor to vote in an effort to wipe out this scourge of American democracy - the fraudulent voter. The supposed center's work is now being cited in Austin. Except it was all a sham.

Both the problem, which was extremely rare, and the group, which has now shut down like it never existed. Bradblog documented how the group was never more than a post office box and a handful of Republican operatives willing to testify and give alarming reports of heavily Democratic areas in battleground states being festering fraudulent sores on democracy. It was set up just days before GOP congressional hearings to give legitimacy to stricter voter ID requirements that purely coincidentally suppress Democratic votes.

There is no question there is registration fraud, mainly by people being paid up to $5 a voter registration card, but extensive studies show ineligible voters are about a handful or less per million voters. "The DoJ devoted unprecedented resources to ferreting out polling-place fraud over five years and appears to have found not a single prosecutable case across the country."

Nearly all problems with polling place voter fraud had been solved in the 2002 uniform voter act, AKA "Help America Vote Act," provisions requiring ID for first time voters and other measures. Polling place fraud which voter-ID bills are designed to cure are a non-existent problem. Not so with election official fraud and mail-in ballot fraud which do exist and which voter-ID bills don't address.

The entire reason for voter ID bills is to gain a few more points in close elections by suppressing Democratic votes. This is also the not so hidden reason around the Karl Rove ordered firings of Justice Department state attorneys for not pursuing publicity heavy voter fraud cases and pursuing too publicly cases involving Republican office holders.

The disappearing American Center for Voting Rights and its Republican operatives is further proof of this. Read the Bradblog archives documenting this GOP front group or the Slate article for more on this. From Slate:
Just this week, Republican members of the Texas state Senate are trying to push through a voter-ID law over a threatened Democratic filibuster. Their political machinations have already required a Democratic state senator recovering from a liver transplant to show up to vote—and they almost passed the bill when another Democratic senator came down with the stomach flu.

Texas legislators should be ashamed. All of this effort to enact a law that would stop a nonexistent problem. If only there were a way to ensure that spurious claims of polling-place voter fraud could have disappeared with ACVR.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Light posting continues

Still have health problems. I have a stack of Jim email links and site updates to get to as well as my normal long delayed stories when I quite running headaches, sinus problems and earaches and any other aches and pains this body is now manifesting.

Momentum builds against GOP candidates

GOP as a brand is losing its appeal. Asking people to govern who run on platforms against government and you seem to get cronyism, corruption and incompetence and more people realize this. Polls show that support for liberal social values and Democratic Party preference is up significantly. The right seems bereft of ideas except for name-calling while accusing their opponents of incivility and worse. GOP figures are starting to be barely restrained in their criticism of fellow Republicans.

This is not entirely the Iraq war's fault but it helps. Their are numerous other problems the public is blaming the GOP for. For less than the cost of the Iraq war each month the government could have given every American a full tank of gas and have money left over. I once told a supporter of the Iraq war to throw a few bills in every time he went to the toilet to represent his share of the war costs he wasn't paying taxes on yet. After over four years we have sewer lines overflowing. For the cost of the war so far the government could have built every homeless person a $200,000 house.

The GOP presidential candidates realize they and their party have a huge problem but so far they are offering the solutions Americans have rejected. 2008 is looking good for progressives, liberals and Democrats. Maybe we can get Hillary and Obama to start supporting more Democratic positions instead of moving to the right while the country moves left.
Presidential historian Robert Dallek said Republicans are fighting modern historical trends that no White House incumbent or aspirant has ever overcome. He cited the losses of Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and Harry Truman in 1952 as “demonstrations of a party burdened with the legacy of a president who has pushed a failed or failing war.”

And yet the Republican presidential candidates are running campaigns at odds with this fundamental shift in public attitudes.

“This is what Bush and the other Republicans don’t get,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “There is a social revolution occurring, and they are completely out of the mainstream.”
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Monday, May 14, 2007

Cheney's Nemesis, Seymour Hersh, Reveals White House’s Secret Plan to Bomb Iran

A long article from America's least DC establishment oriented magazine about Seymour Hersh. Stephen King hit it right years ago in Firestarter when he concluded that if you had information involving government crimes and cover-up Rolling Stone was the one magazine you could take your story to.
What's the main lesson you take, looking back at America's history the last forty years?
There's nothing to look back to. We're dealing with the same problems now that we did then. We know from the Pentagon Papers -- and to me they were the most important documents ever written -- that from 1963 on, Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon lied to us systematically about the war. I remember how shocked I was when I read them. So . . . duh! Nothing's changed. They've just gotten better at dealing with the press. Nothing's changed at all.

6 AM to 8 PM at $6 an hour

What is it really like to work an election?
I thought I might clue my readers in on what working an election and promoting this democracy of ours is all about.

Every one except the presiding judge will get paid $6 an hour. The judge gets $7.50 an hour and also works more hours. In training classes on how to get more people to work the election, we are urged to emphasize civic duty as nobody is in it for the money. Getting away from this country club tea party fantasy everyone I have ever worked with would not do it if they were not paid. How much they need the money varies, but rather they are a retiree looking for a little supplement for a long but usually light if stressful day's work or they are a struggling minimum wage mother the money is important. This has become a more contentious issue recently with some required training being unpaid and no pay being allocated for an hour setting up the booths the day before. Not to worry, your workers aren't in it for the money say the country club election office leadership.

How to become an election judge? Most presiding judges are the party precinct chairs. The majority party of the precinct gets the presiding judgeship, the other party the alternate judgeship. You become a party precinct chair by contacting the party and running in an election in your precinct. You can also volunteer to be a presiding judge in a precinct with no party chair and if you have experience you might be appointed. Some people don't want to be the party precinct chair which does come with a loyalty oath that you won't support an opponent to a party candidate. You may also volunteer to serve as a judge in a precinct that needs one. The presiding judge really runs the election at that precinct and recruits workers and makes the decisions on election day. Many of the clerks working the election are friends and relatives of the judge. Ideally, the alternate judge is from the opposing party to act as insurance for a fair unbiased election in the precinct but that may not be the case depending on the strength of the party in the local area. This is a weakness of the system in areas where one party dominates.

How to work as a clerk or poll worker in an election? Get asked or volunteer. You can ask at a county party HQ or directly to the county clerk's office. If you know a precinct chair or precinct judge they will likely ask you.

Let me get specific for my May 12th election. The normal election judge was not available as she was going to be campaigning and educating voters on city charter amendments that day. She had already knocked on over 1,000 doors and registered more than a 100 new voters despite not being a party chair and despite working for the county in early voting outside of Pasadena. She asked someone in her precinct to be the judge and he said he was willing to be the alternative judge only and then she asked me knowing I had been an election judge in several precincts - an emergency judge. I am the alternate judge in my home precinct. For clerks she had one member of her regular crew picked, another person she worked early voting with, and someone she had registered to vote who she noticed was bright and accurate and had very legible hand writing in filling out her and her husband's voter registration cards. I added my 20-year-old nephew as another clerk. A couple days before the election I called and confirmed everyone and the older lady who normally works the election said her legs were bothering her and she had something else to do and would like to beg off unless I really needed her. I said we had it covered but I might call her in for a few hours if we ran into problems. So I have three clerks, two of whom speak Spanish and I will also assign as translators, an alternate judge and myself and a possible emergency clerk. This is about ideal for a small local election, having my "emergency clerk" actually working the election would have been ideal. Most election workers are older, we have two in their twenties and none over 65.

The day before the election I meet at the school with the alternative judge and the brand new clerk to set up the voting booths. This takes an hour and our election location will be unusual this time in having the college district having a board trustee election with two booths set up before the voters get to our six booths for the city and state election. The college and school districts use the same equipment but do not have Harris County handle their elections. My nephew could have joined us for set-up but he didn't get off work until we were done. Just as well, this is unpaid set-up for just over an hour. Booths and inside signs are set up and decisions about where to place the 100 foot distance markers made. (A 100-foot string should be part of election equipment but instead each judge decides what 100 feet is. This can vary greatly between precincts.) The normal election judge placed a sign directing voters to our location in the normal location for elections in this precinct. One big problem on voting on election day is you must vote in your precinct and the polling locations change often. Vote early when you can vote anywhere in the county. I had screwed up and not noticed I was working all night and had to make arrangements to get off at 6 AM. I marked the voters who had already voted in our poll list books while working.

Election Day. Since I didn't get off till 6 I show up right after 6:15 AM. We had done most of the work the day before so we were ready to go by 6:35 and I went ahead and turned the machines on. Might as well find out early if one of them is not working. I give the oath of office and the two translators oaths, have them sign the payroll sheets, explain about the early voting and mail-in ballot marks, and make sure the sign-in clerks know to write the right sub-precinct on the slip they give the voters. Over 90% of our precinct is in one council member's district but a few are in two others. If we mark the wrong sub-precinct they get the wrong ballot.

The clerks know to ask everyone "is this your correct address?" If someone comes in without their yellow voter certificate I make them swear or affirm that is their correct address and they are a qualified voter and they just do not have their certificate with them. They initial by their name and I sign that page. Having them give a sworn statement is relatively new. I typically say something like: "You may now go forth and vote and sin no more." The voters then proceed to get a code based on their sub-precinct to enable a booth for them.

Two people handle sign up and two people assign booths and I set up a table and chair at a location where I can make sure every voter hits the cast ballot button before leaving. Otherwise I am handling any problems, assisting voters, taking most of the affirmations they just don't have their card, etc. Generally the alternate judge or I assist voters or if someone comes in to assist we get their name and address and have them swear they are assisting and not telling them how to vote.

No Problems and Minor Problems: This is the first election I ran where no one forgot to hit cast ballot - one no problem. Only had one person who mistakenly hit cast ballot before they were done, also pretty good. There is no correction for that - they have voted. There is still no final warning screen that I would like that warns voters that if you hit cast ballot you are done voting. That big red cast ballot button is just too tempting for some people. Some people still are not used to the wheel to make selections but that is fading as they experience more elections. No questions about security of the machines this time, although the college election judge thought that a judge could cancel a vote after someone had cast a mistaken ballot using the code. NO, if you could it would be an extreme security breach as clerks and judges could alter votes after a voter had left. Our machines are very good as far as security. If someone wants to steal an election go to the vote counting software for the state and county where security is extremely weak and changing votes with no trace doesn't involve changing multiple sets of memory cards or adding hundreds or thousands of programs.

As always a fair number of people need to be directed to the right precinct. If they have their card it is easy otherwise I look on the maps of our precincts and ask which direction do they live from here. I didn't have to make one call to the county this time. The county called me to say a number of Pasadena precincts are having problems in that they are giving out the wrong sub-precincts. I explain I instructed everyone this morning about that and we had no problems. We are told by other voters of two people we could mark deceased on the books.

Three people in a group came in and said their candidate wasn't on the ballot. I cancelled two booths to make sure they were given the right sub-precinct. They were. Discovered they wanted to vote for their minister who was running on the other side of town. Sorry, you can only vote for the council member who represents your address. Of course, this occurs during our only busy time, right after noon. Discover a short time later they decided not to vote at all and their codes expire. Our machine count now overstates by five the number of real voters who cast ballots. A couple people have moved within their apartment complex or need a statement of residence.

Discretion of the judge. Some of the problems the judge more or less decides how to handle. How much leeway to give a sixty-year-old son assisting his 90-year-old mother. Yes, you can push the enter button she is pointing at. I agree, I think she means approve. Someone comes in and the list says she has already early voted. No, her husband grabbed the wrong voting certificate and early voting officials let Robert vote as Sharon, and signed the voting certificate and probably the poll list as Robert. She has both cards, his unsigned and hers signed with his name both at same address. I let her sign in her space but with an arrow pointing to Robert's space and add her on the voter list as Robert. She also gets a voter registration card to mail in to get a new voter certificate she can sign. She is also told this is all her husband's fault, and the unobservant Early Voting clerks. This was a judge decision as another judge could have decided this was a ruse by her to vote twice while her husband didn't vote. My other options were to pass the decision to someone else - either the clerk's office or via a provisional ballot.

During times we get busy one of the clerks forgets to write a few names on the voter list. They go through and add the missing names to the lists. Normally once or twice during election day we need to do this to balance the sign-in book lists with our written voter list and with the machine count.

New Voters: I can't find the new voter list, pretty sure it got left out of my packets. There is no marking on the sign-in list for new voters, they should have "Requires ID", but if you find a new voter you should add them to a list. Since we don't have a list I opt to ignore this. Only interesting in that because of a voter registration drive by Pat Van Houte our new voters are one middle-aged and one senior instead of the typical youngsters. According to the other election taking place right down the hall before us there was also a young lady who was a new voter but she didn't tell us. I believe all should have had Require ID on the sign-in lists but there was a glitch at the county clerk's office.

Fraud Prevention: The requiring an ID of new voters was a good fraud prevention measure, I think added in 2002. Now the GOP is trying to put in bad and illegal voter fraud prevention measures. In reality, the biggest place for vote fraud are by election officials at the county, state and precinct level and candidates and individuals using mail-in ballots which the new proposed voter-ID bills don't touch. The new voter-ID bills do put additional burdens on elderly, handicapped and minorities wanting to vote, which is the real GOP plan. One thing we do is if the voter hasn't signed their voting certificate we make them sign it. In the future if someone comes in to vote and we discover someone has already signed in and voted as them we can compare signatures when deciding to issue a provisional ballot.

Provisional ballots. Didn't have any. Technically I could have had the woman who Early Voting let her husband vote using her card as a provisional ballot but judges don't like them. It is a large amount of paperwork and in the end you are not sure if the vote will count. Better to make a decision now or let the County Clerk's office make a decision now then go to a maybe ballot which involves more paperwork. The times judges have to give out provisional ballots would be for people not on the voting roll or for people who are insisting on voting at your precinct who don't live there. Before the final results of the election are posted officials will look at the provisional ballots and throw out the ones in the wrong precinct and the one's who were not really registered. The others will generally count and can decide elections as Pasadena well knows. Mail-in ballots can also get reviewed for problems with signatures or other problems.

Cookies and beer. I bring cookies, pretzels, carrots, ice, cups, a 2-liter diet Dr. Pepper, and regular Dr. Pepper, a gallon of HEB tea and small bags of chocolate and powdered mini-donuts for my crew. In addition to supplying my clerks, I give cookies to kids coming in with their parents. I also give a few mini-donuts to voters but don't make a regular practice of it. Republicans will accuse me of offering inducements to voters in a Democratic precinct if I make a habit of this. The judges for the two elections debate if it would be a good or bad thing if elections were still held in saloons with candidates offering free beer. My nephew says that way he would feel that the candidate was actually doing something for him for voting. HEB needs to learn how to make better tea.

Breaks. Although everyone but me is only getting $6 an hour they do get breaks and may leave to get food or to vote or pick up things which I don't knock time off for. My alternate Judge has to go home for Advil and Claritin for severe sinus - toothache inducing. I also have bad sinus condition but not as bad, that day. My nephew is sent twice on gofer errands and then I cross-train him on sign-in. My nephew bored out of his mind the whole day finally asks to leave early at 5:30 PM to go to the Baytown dirt track races. We hadn't been too busy so I OK it and sign him out. One clerk goes to the Dairy Queen next door. I pick up some Long John Silver's and give a few shrimp away. The other 3-person College Board election team has some nice lemonade cookies and we do a bit of snack trading. Being in a regular city/state election location and positioned first should boost their turnout without hurting ours.

Free time: I read a hard science fiction book - Einstein's Bridge, the new girl reads a religious book Woman, Thou Art Loosed!, the experienced person from early voting works on sewing Christmas Tree ornaments, my nephew brought a computer and plays Prison Tycoon 2, my alternative judge suffers with his sinus. I suffer less.

Turnout We ended up with about 175 voters coming out on election day, a better turn out than I expected. In total a turnout of about 8% in the council district, more than half of those voted early . The council race was uncontested for 90% of our precinct so it was only the City Charter Amendments and the State Amendment that brought out people. Pasadena is known for low turnouts. As someone said to me that day, only elderly whites vote, and North Pasadena is too Hispanic to have many voters. I went to a victory party at another Pasadena Council race after the election and he easily won. His secret was a person contacting each voter over 65 and seeing if they needed a ride or a mail-in ballot and one homemade letter to all the over 65 voters. His opponent, a Latino minister, used his church and church resources as a base and sent several slick glossy Manlove printing mail-outs to all voters and only got 33%, 284 to 181, 10% of registered voters participating.

The End: No problems with closing and no last minute rush of voters. Got to the IBEW Hall to turn in the materials after 8 PM and then was told of a small victory party in Pasadena. Got home at 10 PM after being up over 25 hours. This was an ideal election with a slow but steady stream of voters and no real problems. Informed the regular judge that she had another sucker. The new person she found from voter registration was very good and is even crazy enough she wants to do it again.

Looks like I picked the wrong day to start blogging again. Sunday I meant to post any observations on the election, this post, but had sinus worse than toothache inducing. No real problems with the lack of sleep and long day, only thing bothering me was a worse and worse sinus condition. Finally after a few hours of pain 10+ on a 10-point scale the build-up perforated my right "good ear" and the pain went down. Much better now except for a leaking ear, which you probably didn't need to read about.

This has been updated for clarity.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Media Lackeys Praise Secret Trade Deal

Looks like a minority of the Democratic Party may have sold out to corporate donors and negotiated a "framework" for a trade deal. While no details are available it is already drawing high praise from some corporate media.

No reporter, rank-and-file Member of Congress or member of the public has seen the final language of any new trade pact that this deal purports to represent. Put another way, in reporting that this deal definitely means strong labor/environmental standards without actually seeing the legislative language, Beltway journalists are behaving just like their idol Friedman, who admitted on national television that he used his newspaper columns and television appearances to champion the job-destroying Central American Free Trade Agreement even though "I didn't even know what was in it."

Friday, May 11, 2007

Salon: Karl Rove's big election-fraud hoax

There are two ways to steal elections, control who votes or be in charge of counting the ballots with no way to audit the results. The GOP has been busy doing both.
Republicans do cherish their little practical jokes -- the leaflets in African-American neighborhoods warning that voters must pay outstanding traffic tickets before voting; the calls in Virginia in 2006 from the mythical "Virginia Election Commission" warning voters they would be arrested if they showed up at the polls. The best way to steal an election is the old-fashioned way: control who shows up. It's widely known that Republicans do better when the turnout is lighter, whiter, older and richer; minorities, young people and the poor are easy game for hoaxes and intimidation.

The latest and most elaborate of these jokes is the urban legend that American elections are rife with voter fraud, particularly in the kinds of poor and minority neighborhoods inhabited by Democrats.
Slate: The Zen of Gonzo

Alberto Gonzales has discovered a new way to be loyal - smile and amaze people with your forgetful stupidity. Instead of being a sacrifice for Karl Rove he just sacrifices his dignity.

Fox News - Cleavage and Hot Air

Whenever women appear in low cut blouses on Fox the bottom on-screen text disappears and the camera repositions for the breast best picture.

Voting This Saturday

Check Harris Votes for voting locations and sample ballots.

Check here if you live in Pasadena and need info on the amendments.

School districts and college districts and other minor governments are also voting - here is a list. Some of these will have separate voting locations not consolidated with Harris County and you need to contact the entity to determine where they are. (In Pasadena's case they are in the same location but separate machines and people running the election.) For the one state measure go ahead and give the seniors a break on their taxes.

If you don't vote you can't complain about what the evil bastards do.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Joe Trippi Slams Iraq Compromise Strategies As "Baloney"

Finding 16 GOP Senators willing to compromise is baloney. Joe suggests using the John Edwards' Iraq strategy - keep sending the withdrawal bill and force Bush to compromise. Bush is in the tough spot because without a bill lack of funding will force a pull out now instead of next year. Edwards' position is sounder than Obama's and Hillary's, who are both attracting GOP financial support
In the first quarter of this year, more than 150 former Bush donors pitched in for Mrs. Clinton's campaign, while a similar number anted up for Mr. Obama, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data performed for The New York Sun by the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.

Lou Dobbs tell Christians to stay out of politics

At least when they promote immigration reform and criticize him.
Dobbs doesn’t understand that compassion is not amnesty, and that reforming an unworkable system is not simply flinging open our borders. But then, he long ago stopped being a journalist, and is now one of the leading advocates against comprehensive immigration reform.

He also doesn’t seem to understand that most people now believe that bringing our faith into public life is not undermining the separation of church and state. As I’ve said many times, where would America be if Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had kept his faith to himself? And on this issue, given a choice between Jesus and Lou Dobbs, I’ll still choose Jesus.
In other religious news, prison officials refused to honor a prisoner's last request to make his last meal a pizza and give it to a homeless person. So good-hearted people had over $1200 worth of pizzas delivered to homeless shelters.

NATIONAL JOURNAL: Administration Withheld E-Mails About Rove (05/10/07)

DoJ's Email Gap admitted to.
The Bush administration has withheld a series of e-mails from Congress showing that senior White House and Justice Department officials worked together to conceal the role of Karl Rove in installing Timothy Griffin, a protégé of Rove's, as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas....

Several of the e-mails that the Bush administration is withholding from Congress, as well as papers from the White House counsel's office describing other withheld documents, were made available to National Journal by a senior executive branch official, who said that the administration has inappropriately kept many of them from Congress.

The senior official said that Gonzales, in preparing for testimony before Congress, has personally reviewed the withheld records and has a responsibility to make public any information he has about efforts by his former chief of staff, other department aides, and White House officials to conceal Rove's role.

"If [Gonzales] didn't know everything that was going on when it went down, that is one thing," this official said. "But he knows and understands chapter and verse. If there was an effort within Justice and the White House to mislead Congress, it is his duty to disclose that to Congress. As the country's chief law enforcement official, he has a higher duty to disclose than to protect himself or the administration."

Voter Fraud Used to Gain Political Leverage

The DoJ brought allegations of voting fraud right before the 2004 election - overblown and came after Republicans purged thousands of citizens from the voting rolls in 2000. It appears that six fraud voter registrations were turned in by a progressive group in Missouri. (These would have not been used to vote but ensured the paid registrars would retain their jobs and possibly increase their pay.) Meanwhile GOP government officials have not apologized for illegally removing tens of thousands people from the voting rolls in several states, including Texas, and Congress says thousands of sworn affidavits from citizens on how they voted differing from election totals is not enough evidence to hold hearings.

Andrew Dobbs is sorry

From Texas's own Burnt Orange Report:
I am sorry. I apologize for ever suggesting that the Iraq War was ever justified, wise, good, well-intentioned, properly carried out or otherwise acceptable to a free and decent people. I am sorry for trusting habitual, unapologetic and brazen liars in this administration and in the government that let this atrocity occur. I am sorry for suggesting that the war could be won, that opponents of it were weak, unprincipled, unpatriotic or anything other than the sacred conscience of our nation. I am ashamed of my former position and I renounce anything I said on this blog, in organs of the right wing press or in any other forum where people would read my words. My only comfort is in knowing that I am simply not a good enough polemicist to convince anyone of the absurdities this war requires one to believe in order to support it....

I think that my position was probably the result of one part concern, two parts immaturity, three parts optimism and about 10 parts self-deception. I was concerned that my father was going over there with a private military contractor. I did not want to believe that this was simply an imperial adventure being fought with mercenaries and desperate young people. I think that my father’s work—as a trainer of Iraqi police officers—was a noble one, but I have seen the damage it did spiritually to him, and the futility of his work and of the whole exercise. I was too stupid to realize I was being lied to by my own government, and too naive to be anything but hopeful that their absurd schemes would work out. It was easy to deceive myself, and I am glad that it happened, as I hope it will be harder to have the wool pulled over my eyes again.
Sorry for the lack of updates, I have been buried under other things for a while, landscaping, work, many new books, new aquariums, a big supply of New York Times and USA Today newspapers, some game days, a PC that killed my last post ....

My last post even mistakenly ended up here and was commented on so I'll leave it. State Supreme Courts have already ruled that requiring voter IDs unless they are available free are back door illegal poll taxes, Matt. Nothing to do with motor voter acts.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Have I mentioned that the GOP is a bunch of crazy loons?

Utah County Republicans ended their convention on Saturday by debating Satan's influence on illegal immigrants.

The group was unable to take official action because not enough members stuck around long enough to vote, despite the pleadings of party officials. The convention was held at Canyon View Junior High School.

Don Larsen, chairman of legislative District 65 for the Utah County Republican Party, had submitted a resolution warning that Satan's minions want to eliminate national borders and do away with sovereignty.

In a speech at the convention, Larsen told those gathered that illegal immigrants "hate American people" and "are determined to destroy this country, and there is nothing they won't do."

Illegal aliens are in control of the media, and working in tandem with Democrats, are trying to "destroy Christian America" and replace it with "a godless new world order -- and that is not extremism, that is fact," Larsen said.

At the end of his speech, Larsen began to cry, saying illegal immigrants were trying to bring about the destruction of the U.S. "by self invasion."

Republican officials then allowed speakers to defend and refute the resolution. One speaker, who was identified as "Joe," said illegal immigrants were Marxist and under the influence of the devil. Another, who declined to give her name to the Daily Herald, said illegal immigrants should not be allowed because "they are not going to become Republicans and stop flying the flag upside down. ... If they want to be Americans, they should learn to speak English and fly their flag like we do." - Utah Central Herald

The New Right Wing Plan For Iraq

"Never Surrender - Never Enlist."

Which remind me of yet another reason why I am glad I am not a Republican if the madam can be believed:

I don't have to pay for part-time 50-year-old escorts and still not have sex.

Stephen Colbert Confronts the ‘New Atheism’

Some advise to atheists - get a leader with a big hat.

U.S.-Iran diplomatic dance ends with ice cream chat

The Bush administration isn't serious about wanting to talk to Syria, Iran, North Korea, or Democrats.

Campaigns & Elections - May 2007 Special Issue

Interesting online magazine on some campaigns lessons from 2004.

Viva Cinco de Mayo

First, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, it celebrates a victory of the Mexican militia in Puebla over a larger French Army while we were having our Civil War. This victory delayed the short-lived French conquest of Mexico. That was a good thing for freedom loving Americans as France planned to assist the Confederacy after a quick Mexico conquest.

There seems to be some disputes about the actual battle. Traditionally, Indians assisted by stampeding cattle through the French assault. Peasants armed with machetes drove back the French infantry and the Mexican cavalry also drew off and defeated the French cavalry. The wiki disputes all of those accounts in favor of a typical battle.

Cinco de Mayo is more a Mexican celebration in Mexico and the United States celebrating Mexican culture.

I need to get some things for my new aquarium where my fish keep mysteriously dying and I have a pg guppy. For lunch I might take my parents to Mi Tienda. They have a fantastic food court with free samples, great prices on sea food and fresh fruit drinks in a fiesta atmosphere.

Winner of the GOP debate - Ron Paul and Mitt Romney - Update

Losers - McCain and perhaps Giuliani. If Giuliani is leading in the early polls he sure didn't impress at the debate.

Drudge Report Poll - WHO WON THE REAGAN DERBY? (link to the free republic maniacs.)

Mitt Romney -- 35%
Rudy Giuliani -- 21%
RON PAUL -- 16%
Tommy Thompson -- 7%
John McCain -- 6%
Tom Tancredo -- 5%
Mike Huckabee -- 4%
Duncan Hunter -- 3%
Sam Brownback -- 2%
Jim Gilmore -- 2%

On the MSNBC interactive poll, Ron Paul clearly won the debate - going from a 9% favorable rating before the debate to leading the field with a 41% positive rating after. Ron Paul is the only Republican in positive territory with approvals over disapprovals. Ron Paul is at least consistently an old-fashioned small government conservative with a respect for the Constitution. I often disagree with him but I know where he is coming from and it is not his contributors and focus groups.

Who should give up based on the MSNBC poll? I would say half the field, those with an 11% or lower approval and an almost 50% disapproval. These are the ones us liberals only hear of when someone points out a particular outrageous thing they say.

T. Thompson.

Hanging in there:
Romney (2nd place)
Ron Paul (1st Place)

This will all change in the next few months when Fred Thompson, TV actor and politician, enters the race.

Anti-war banners flew over the GOP debate in a lefty smart move.

UPDATE: Survey USA poll of Calif. debate watchers - Giuliani 30%, Romney 12%, McCain 11%. Among GOP watchers : 33%, 14%, 17%.

The Democratic Party was the winner.

Thank God Fox News didn't host the debates, Foser notes just a bit of bias in the questions.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Politico - Faux News in Print?

Glenn Greenwald finds the right-wingers who fund Politico, the new independent non-partisan political news site and newspaper.
But I'm sure the fact that The Politico is (a) funded by a family with multiple, intense right-wing allegiances, (b) run by a career-long Reaganite, and (c) dependent upon Matt Drudge for most of their traffic, has no effect whatsoever on their reporting.

TNR and its loose grasp of reality

Chait denies the elephant. Also a very troubling sign for the economy - are we already in a recession?

Texas GOP Justice

The Texas Supreme Court has nullified jury verdicts if they harm a large business. Why am I not surprised?

For up to date news on Texas politics see the Texas Observor blog, Off the Kuff and the Texas Left Feed among others. Which reminds me I have a new list of Texas political bloggers to put up.

Cordesman: Administration has surge without a plan

In a couple of reports Anthony Cordesman, a military expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, states that the administration has yet to develop a credible plan for Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran but the Democrats aren't much better. He has proposed plans but foresees no stable Iraq until at least 2013. On the other hand, withdrawing completely from Iraq now will not likely lead to Iraq becoming a launching pad for new terrorist attacks. McClatchy Newspapers:
The administration has overstated progress in Iraq and hyped the risks of setting a time line for withdrawal, Cordesman wrote. He said a rushed U.S. withdrawal would lead to violent power struggles, but not genocide. He said that the administration's argument that Iraq would become a sanctuary for al-Qaida ignores key points: strong and growing resistance to al-Qaida by Iraqi Sunnis, and opposition to al-Qaida from Iraq's other main groups, the Shiites and Kurds.

In addition, withdrawal would pose no major increase in the threat al-Qaida poses to America, Cordesman wrote, noting that al-Qaida already operates from several countries.

Cordesman also gave the Democratic-led Congress low marks. Its benchmarks and timelines are unrealistic, given Iraq's many problems, he said. Iraq has no strong central government or rule of law, so Iraqi factions will need time to work out compromises.
His analysis of the situation and his long involvement recommendations - pdf file. His analysis of the civil war plus taking place in Iraq now.

While I cannot fault his analysis I question that the American people would have supported, and would still support, an Iraqi war that involves no danger to America and would require massive military action for many more years. Would you have supported this war if you were told it was a trillion dollar war and would costs hundreds of American casualties a year for ten years? Do you support staying there now fighting for five more years?