Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Captain Plaid takes a pause for the cause!

Given that I'll be working with at least one candidate in at least a temporary role this fall, it is perhaps appropriate to take a breather. After the middle of November, I might return to blogging here yet much can happen between now and then. I've really enjoyed sharing my frustrations and hopes but I'll step aside from posting, fearing that I'll have post withdrawals as I stumble across things I'd like to share. The therapy of posting is something I'll vouch for as well, yet my frustration level is far lower now, sans reluctant students, than when I first started blogging.

These next few weeks will have me neck deep I hope in some battles that really count. If the Democrats can retake the House, and maybe even the Senate, we can perhaps begin the hard work of restoring our American democracy to what she can be. If the GOP gets spanked hard enough then they might at least pretend to be bipartisan again.

The chance to work with some young folks and professionals plus simply some new people is very exciting. Getting out of my neck of the woods is also attractive. Actually doing a campaign surely beats ranting and raving via a keyboard, although I might still use writing to vent and refine my ideas, even if you have to put on pants to canvass.

Most everybody that visits (all seven of you?) know how to reach me. I anticipate creating a new mail account, perhaps via G-mail, that I'll be able to check in case you wish to bounce anything off me. While I try to check comments for a bit, after the first of the month I'm liable to not be comfortable with replying. Since I made a whole $2.32 last month from Amazon please feel free to use my various sidebar click throughs to buy stuff. I might even get up enough credits to get a book or two.

Finally , should anybody run across a prior post that troubles them please be assured that I alone am responsible for the content of everything on this blog. I like erring on the side of free speech and might have wanted to continue blogging, should time and technology have allowed, yet would have tried to make that clear before posting anything. Whatever I did before being brought on board, and I don't start officially until Labor Day, surely can't be held against anyone I'm working with, even those using ReThuglican "logic". I've tried to remain generally undercover but also have attempted to be civil, even in the face of people and circumstances that often got my Scots up. There's the Coulter caveat of course! Crazy as a run over dog! I still think that was my favorite post and will amuse myself with memories of that goofy critter nearly ever time I see Ann Coulter. I bet my Old Daddy would recognize him as well.

Thanks again for supporting and challenging me. Peace ... or War!

Who is Brent Budowsky and where has he been?

Brent Budowsky, a former Lloyd Bentsen staffer now also affiliated with The Intelligence Summit, is a new discovery. Mr. Budowsky is posting over on HuffPo and churning out some sharp material. I'd gone to find his recent The Right Stuff, The Wrong War, and the Shameful Politics of Fear but I also located Ann Coulter Sleeps with the Enemy while Democrats Should Launch an October Surprise. I'm hesitant to cut portions to share as the total essays are worthy of reading. If this guy is a legit, and based on what I know now I'm thinking he is, then we ought to put him on the team. Peace ... or War!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bama Democratic Leaders - Not Deep But Cheap

Alabama Representative Ken Guin is pictured to the left and State Senator E.B. McClain is to the right. They chaired the Alabama Legislative Democratic Leadership Council which has just released their "Covenant for the Future".

Rhonda A. Pickett of The Birmingham News reported on Wednesday "Democrats tour state, unveil plan". She writes:

Seven Democratic legislators traveled to four Alabama cities Tuesday unveiling the party's "Covenant for the Future," a list of initiatives that the members hope to pass in the 2007 state legislative session.

Speaker of the House Seth Hammett, along with state Reps. John Knight of Montgomery, Ken Guin of Carbon Hill, Betty Carol Graham of Alexander City and Frank "Skippy" White of Pollard, as well as state Sens. Zeb Little of Cullman and E.B. McClain of Midfield, outlined the plan during a 15-minute news conference at the Downtown Air Center in Mobile.

"Now it's time to write a new chapter in Alabama's history," said Hammett of Andalusia. "It's time to put into words the Democratic plan for moving Alabama forward." Details of the plan are available at www.covenantforthefuture.com.

Sending folks to the Covenant, apparently a single word page created by a 6th grader and then saved as an .html file, was amazing. They charter a plane, get some coverage, and can't spend a few bucks on a decent splash page? They could have created a slick series of pages that would have been hard for the GOP to refute with just a little effort and creativity.

Additionally, Republican Lite is not how we'll win our voters back, even here in backwards Bible Belt Bama. Confront the GOP. You'll not get the hard core "Values voters" back but you might fire up the dedicated and serious Progressives like yours truly rather than making them shake their heads in frustration. The pandering to the homophobes and the anti-choice crowd was dreadful and I'll be sure to mention it when I get the ear of some of the state and local leaders I know. We can work around the choice issue without just straight out caving to the Dobsonites. Immigration is a national matter as is health care.

There could have been so much more offered that I'd like to think might make a difference yet I'm afraid it will be many, many years before Progressive Democrats have a seat at the table here in Alabama. Peace ... or War!

UPDATE - December 9, 2007 - I linked to this today and noted the original Covenant link was dead. A mercy killing? I tracked down another form. Much better on style points yet it is still Republican Lite. I noted with pleasure some of the comments. Reckon they'll listen?

Doomsday from Dallas in Local Paper

Our image is "Jeremiah lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem" by Rembrandt van Rijn, which has been dated back around 1630 A.D. Mike Sutton of Dallas Texas is using authority from 600 B.C. in applying some bizarre Biblical prophecy materials (Some serious doom and gloom came from Jeremiah!) to current events and policies in Southwest Asia. In this past week's Randolph Leader, Mr. Sutton had a Letter to the Editor which the paper staff presumably entitled "War is the Answer" that I'll just copy in as follows:

O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? Put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still.

How can it be quiet, seeing the Lord hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? There hath he appointed it. Jeremiah 47:6-7

Also thou shalt be cut down, O Madmen: the sword shall pursue thee. Jeremiah 48:2

Finish the job, O Israel! Destroy Hizbolla and then turn your Sword against Madmen in Tehran. The United Nations was created to betray you, and American politicians cannot be trusted or depended upon. The True and Living God will be your deliverer.

Mike Sutton - Dallas, Texas

I've previously noted Mr. Sutton's writings in our paper and frankly I'm glad he's out there in the Big D. However, I expect he'd fit in with some of our more fundamentalist congregations around here. Given that John Hagee is on the shelves at the Roanoke semi-Super-Center Wal-Mart and our local library has all the Jenkins-LaHaye end times literature I expect a good number of people buy what he is shilling. I guess he'd read the NYT as I offered up yesterday when I sent readers to HuffPo. I wonder if he's coming at all of this from a "dispensational premillennialism" perspective? Peace ... or War!

WaPo Tells Schools "Don't Blame Students" Yet "Meaning" of NCLB Accepted

The WaPo Editorial Board urges Montgomery County Schools to not "scapegoat" special education students for the fact their weak marks on high stakes testing have caused many local schools to make AYP. They try to hedge their scolding yet my frustration is that they accept NCLB as if it measures "best education". "Lowering expectations" is not the same as getting the right expectations. I used Tin Shop Tartan to post a missive against standardized testing under NCLB recently. I even dropped a Letter to the Editor of my local small town paper. I expect most of the same conditions apply in the DC area as around my neck of the woods. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Captain Plaid - New Approaches for New Days

I'll be cross posting the following across the five efforts. I'll keep Captain Plaid up and running via Blogger, although TypePad continues to call me. Until I announce otherwise, Captain Bama is leaving the building. For the near future at least, I'll abandon Tin Shop Tartan. I'm going to put Captain Jimi in the holster as well in that I can fight the culture war on the main blog. Marque Stuart has long been neglected and my inner Martha will need to be surpressed even further given these next few weeks ... and perhaps even months and years.

I've been slack in posting these last few days but family called. I was unexpectedly called in to help a relative with a business/building project and that has been the priority these last few days. Even though the fam might not always understand me, I am thrilled to help any of my brood. I understand Highlanders had "broken men" that had left their own Clans and joined with another in some respects, generally free to return to or assist their kin as circumstances required. Maybe that is what is going on with me? There have surely been plenty of shifts and changes for me over this summer! Here's the immediate deal ...

I'll be working for a Progressive Political Action Committee until mid-November. Reporting on Labor Day for duty, I'll be in Milwaukee for the first few days but they'll soon farm me out to at least one candidate. Although there may be some races for Governor or other state/local positions, I'm likely going to be working in one of the competitive U.S. House districts. I could be working pretty much anywhere but doubt it will be in Alabama or even the South (Florida doesn't count as the "South" does it?). Country come to town?

I'm hoping to find future work, ideally in politics/policy or some type of non-profit education, away from rural East Alabama. I'm looking in relatively urban areas along the East Coast or in the Mountain West. This PAC I'll work for next will assist in placement and yet I've got friends and contacts that are also looking and helping. The experience will hopefully teach me much plus it will admittedly help expand my resume. By the first of the year I hope to have a long term position nailed down. If anybody knows of something that might suit me please let me know. I'll work like two trojans. I can get along with most folks, event though some family and a few past "significant others" might disagree.

I'm leaving for several reasons. I've mentioned that several fundamentalist family members reacted rather harshly to a letter I sent First Baptist Church on their shilling of Amendment One, the Alabama Contitutional Amendment on banning same-sex marriages that every major paper or reasonable authority in Alabama agreed was not necessary and even foolish. Some have expressed displeasure with my Letters to the Editor to my local paper. I think I've done four since the first of the year and I've yet to have anybody say my facts were wrong. In every letter I challenged Bu$hCo (and often the GOP and conservatism and ...) so I think that was mostly the problem. Again, explain where I was wrong! Until then, and probably even after then, I feel very patriotic to have spoken out against the abuses of this worst administration ever. Additionally, my ex-wife has gone on the warpath so that my ability to have the type of relationship I'd like with my son has become more of a challenge.

I've left the classroom after five years back in the trenches frustrated with NCLB and other bureaucracy, with this last years' experience trying to teach the young adults of Heard County, Georgia being the final nail in that coffin. I was also feeling "cooped up" in that teachers are forced to work inside cement block rooms for most of their day and not always able to engage people and the community as might be ideal for any profession. I'd pondered returning to the practice of "country law", thinking a low overhead practice where I could perhaps avoid the drudgery of merely paying the bills might be rewarding. I'd thought I could do criminal defense and some worthy activism plus simply help folks but I've decided I can't remain here in rural East Alabama and keep my sanity. I'm somewhat afraid I'd wind up an angry, lonely old man. Living in this conservative backwater, even though I cherish some of the rural lifestyle, might do more harm than good. As a single man, the social scene around here is especially scary. I love the dirt and woods and critters and ..., and certainly a few dear friends, but I'm now certain I need another setting.

I've learned to live simple, and the older I get the less I seem to need, but I want "purpose" to my life. I seek intellectual and spiritual experiences. I want to work with people that generally possess a Progressive outlook. I want to find my place in a vibrant community that values learning and art and compassion and service and health and ... I've long though about building a "home" where I'll feel some measure of security and completeness. My experiences as a child, with my mother dying rather young plus several other unfortunate realities, have I think tempered me where I default to seek "place", although I'll argue this is a very Southern, perhaps even Scottish, trait.

My failed marriage and practice, one that I'll submit I've placed in the proper order, plus the resulting troubles, were certainly events I'd have just as soon avoided. Ten to seven/six years later, I'm twice the man I was and I'm just forty. I can still be a good father, even though the idea of moving away from my son is the toughest part of these changes. In fact, given the current attitudes and actions of my ex-wife, I'm perhaps making the best of a bad situation. I wanted to be near "the boy" through these early teen years but if I'm better centered by being elsewhere then more good might result.

I've really enjoyed posting on these five blogs and hope they've been valued for at least effort if not for insight. I've only done a few on Marque Stuart but I've dropped 126 posts on Captain Jimi. Tin Shop Tartan has seen 127. A total of 186 post appeared on Captain Bama. Captain Plaid has had 279. Over seven hundred posts! Many hours of mousing and keyboarding (with Blogger being bloggered often making it take longer!) but I've learned so much. I appreciate the comments and communcations. For those that have honored me with a blogroll link feel free to leave any or none. I'll continue over at Captain Plaid, with the caveat that if my new gig doesn't allow time then posts might be scarce. I anticipate a new email addy once I get settled in.

Thanks again for allowing me to share my thoughts and frustrations plus my hope for a better world. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Childhood in Nixon to Adulthood in Bu$hCo

I've been thinking lately about how my earliest memories of my Old Daddy and politics was watching him fuss and fume as Watergate imploded the Nixon White House. As an aside, I heard Nixon described recently as our last liberal President (I've read about his drug policy that was rather liberal in that it was pragmatic in seeking solutions rather than soundbites!) and to think Tricky Dick has been rehabilitated by Bu$hCo seems odd. I'm forty and have lived a fair amount yet I think I made the turn during these Bu$h years. My son might have memories of his Old Daddy fussing about Bu$hCo?

I like how Glenn Greenwald points out how the courts are starting to push back against Bu$hCo. Glenn writes:
Thus, judicial decisions are starting to emerge which come close to branding the conduct of Bush officials as criminal. FISA is a criminal law. The administration has been violating that law on purpose, with no good excuse. Government officials who violate the criminal law deserve to be -- and are required to be -- held accountable just like any other citizens who violate the law. That is a basic, and critically important, principle in our system of government. These are not abstract legalistic questions being decided. They amount to rulings that our highest government officials have been systematically breaking the law -- criminal laws -- in numerous ways. And no country which lives under the rule of law can allow that to happen with impunity.
While I'd like to see the whole lot in jail, at least censure becomes more relevant! Paging Senator Feingold. Worst administration ever. Peace ... or War!

How The Right Winger Reads the New York Times

L. Brent Bozell III is pictured to the left. He is William F. Buckley's nephew and son of L. Brent Bozell, Jr., a Goldwater man. He was the main fund-raiser behind Pat Buchanan when he sought Presidency in 1992.

Mr. Bozell presently leads The Media Research Center (heading their Parents Television Council) plus he serves on the Board of the American Conservative Union.

HuffPo's Contagion Festival offers a clever view on how a Right Wing nut job might read the Gray Lady. With high quality operatives like L. Brent Bozell conning the marginally intelligent "conservatives" into even more paranoia perhaps there's some excuse for the average fool yet I do tire of defaults toward "liberal bias" whenever something challenges their "thinking". Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

White House Press Rolls Over Again for Bu$hCo

Eric Boehlert's "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush" is on my "one of these days" wish list yet time is scarce and getting even more so. More on that front to follow. For a brief dose of Boehlert, HuffPo's Eat the Press has him posting often. (Gotta move those books Eric! I've heard and read good things but can there ever be too much marketing?) A recent post examines how the press corp has allowed Bu$hCo to wall them off from private fundraisers.

We can only hope that the media will begin pushing back after this fall. While I fear future White House occupants might try something like this I look forward to the time when some of those in Bu$hCo and covering his administration feel free to spill the beans.

In a barely related vein, has Snow Job been asked about his thoughts on Jeff Gannon, Armstrong Williams, ... yet? I'm sure he'd dodge but it would be nice to try to hem him up. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Cenk Uygur Nails GWOT on HuffPo

I'm sharing the image of Cenk Uygur, Jill Pike and Ben Mankiewicz of The Young Turks. Cenk has a serious pedigree (UPenn, Wharton, & Columbia Law!) and is scary smart.

Ben's Hollywood name is equally pedigreed plus he's obviously clever and well educated (as only historians can be!) after toiling at Tufts and Columbia. Jill is certainly no slouch in smarts, especially in LA I suspect, plus she's easy on the eyes and admittedly loves learning.

Their media effort is a gem! If nothing else a visit will demonstrate how today's tech provides alternatives to the MSM. I also enjoy how they are assertive but generally respectful with each other and people that call in or otherwise contact them. Listening to smart folks discuss political issues is rare in my neck of the woods (or on CNN, MSNBC and certainly Faux News in many cases) so I like stopping by and think my rare few readers might as well. Let me know what you think.

Cenk posts at HuffPo today with The Better Way of Fighting Terrorism that is a solid and simple read. This makes so much sense and plenty of Americans know it. How the GOP is winning or at least avoiding being wiped away in elections when they don't accept this approach amazes me. The Republican's solutions to terrorist threats are mostly counter-productive and costly and immoral and ...

Consider the post, sharing it with folks that might benefit from reading it, and finally check out YT. Peace ... or War!

Borosage - In CT, triumph of the new moral center

I've followed the Connecticut Lamont/Lieberman race, generally avoiding blogging on it partly because I never think I've spelled the state correctly, and think Uncle Joe got what he deserved and, more importantly, we got what America needs. Robert L. Borosage, one of the editors to the book pictured to the left that I'll discuss later in the post, suggests the same much better that I could provide. Ned Lamont's positions seem rather reasonable to me but please visit his campaign website if you'd like to look for yourself.

In today's Anniston Star, my regional paper, Mr. Borosage writes in part the following:

... Most important, Lamont represents a new moral center in American politics — a challenge to the failed status quo and a demand for a new direction for which a growing majority of Americans are searching.

Bring an end to the disastrous occupation in Iraq and bring the troops home with honor. Change priorities to invest in our schools, in universal pre-kindergarten, in modern infrastructure. Champion affordable national health care for all.

These are not issues from the “edges of our politics,” as Lieberman suggests, but ideas whose time has come. ... (Lieberman's) brand of “getting things done” is exactly what Americans are turning against.

He joined with the president in championing the war in Iraq — got that done.

He joined with Republicans and corporate lobbies in passing corporate trade deals that have destroyed American manufacturing and undermined wages in America — got that done.

He joined with conservatives in championing the privatization of Social Security — at least he was blocked there.

He joined with CEOs in defending off-the-books stock options that gave CEOs a multimillion-dollar personal incentive to cook the books and raid pension funds — got that done.

He doesn't get it.

The problem isn't that things aren't getting done — the problem is that the things he has helped to produce are weakening this country abroad and undermining workers and middle-class families at home.

Lieberman's sore loser campaign will be well financed by the corporate lobbies he has served. Since he has no new ideas to offer, he'll run a nasty negative campaign of personal vilification against Lamont, trying to smear him before voters have a chance hear what Lamont has to say.

And that race will be a test for every Democratic leader. Will they come to support Lamont and the new energy, the new ideas, the new moral center that he represents? Or will they offer nominal support but stay away, refusing to challenge Lieberman's low-road campaign? Their reactions will be a true measure of who is ready to fight for a new direction for this country and who is not.

I'm thrilled that local readers can be exposed to ideas such as these, recognizing that "readers" around my neck of the woods, and much of America to boot, are rare. Robert L. Borosage of the Campaign/Institute for America's Future and Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation are co-editors of "Taking Back America: And Taking Down the Radical Right". This book is a series of essays by some serious thinkers in the Progressive community. The "Take Back America 2006" conference website can provide additional insight into their efforts, yet several centrist leaning Democrats did participate. I can only hope they listened to others present. "Straight Talk" is yet another resource from C/IAF.

I am still hopeful that Joe Lieberman will drop out yet if he stays in the opportunity is there to use his Corporatist brand of politics against the GOP. Republican Lite Democrats might not be prepared to do this so this might be a chance to flush them out. I heard the standard GOP talking points this AM from Ken the Grin Mehlman on Stephanopoulos and they are easily said and swallowed, especially by those less informed than we'd like. Americans have been fooled before as simple sells. Yet if Lefty Progressives can practice jujitsu politics and simply frame things more effectively, now is the time I think for a shift.

The disasters of Bu$hCo give us the best chance we'll perhaps have short of a total meltdown. Given that meltdowns have resulted in the rise of facism in some nations, I'd just as soon solve our troubles now. I'm certain the GOP will fail to roll back the corporate takeover of our government and I fear the DLC will not do enough. If our leaders can't get the message then it is time to get some in DC and the states that will represent middle class and poor people. The Big Mules must be pushed back where there is some balance. "A new moral center" is indeed representative of the best of what America offers here and aboad.

I'm seeking a role in helping create change as I truly fear where this nation is heading. The elections this fall are critical and I'm hoping I'll have a role in one or more campaigns. In the future, I'm looking toward 2008 and beyond. For the time being this is my small effort. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Surveillance by Brits/US was LEGAL

Glenn Greenwald's "Legal surveillance, not illegal eavesdropping, stopped the U.K. terrorist attacks" from today rightly calls out right wingers that are simply stretching the reality across the pond, and our own involvement here as well, to shill Bu$hCo's illegal actions. I've noted plenty of pundits and pols heading down this path but if Glenn's facts are correct, and I am very certain they are, they are either stupid or disengenous to make such broad claims. Peace ... or War!

UPDATE - Tip of the tam to FDL for the link to John Rogers/Kung Fu Monkey's "Wait, Aren't You Scared?" that delivers a delicious post related to the above.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Frances Moore Lappe's Democracy's Edge

I'm nearly through Francis Moore Lappe's "Democracy's Edge: Choosing to Save Our Country by Bringing Democracy to Life" and now I'll need to carve out time for some of her other works. I've added several to my Amazon Wish List. Her daughter Anna's Grub is likely another effort to investigate. Mother and daughter's Small Planet Institute is even one more resource to note. All their work appears solid and very inspirational. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

But Will Dubyah Listen to the Old Man's Men?

Despite this dreadful image, the idea that James A. Baker III and George H.W. Bu$h are attempting to bring some measure of sanity to Bu$hCo's failed foreign policies pleases me.

I'm hardly a fan of either, certainly true for Mr. Baker after his work in Florida in late 2000, but they are "realists" and certainly able to play hardball with the cabal that has taken over this White House.

In this month's upcoming Washington Monthly, you'll find "A Higher Power : James Baker puts Bush's Iraq policy into rehab" by Robert Dreyfuss. The piece stands alone and is worth a read so I'll not pull portions.

While I try to avoid thinking on conspiracies from the powers behind the thrones, I've admittedly wondered if some powerful men and women in this nation and world would step in and force Bu$hCo to act right. While I know some that are still drinking the kool aide, there are surely plenty more at the top of the food chain that lament the damage done by Bu$hCo. Maybe there are competing interests that I'm simply unaware of but Dubyah's dreadful leadership can't be good for many powerful interests. Perhaps this "Iraq Study Group" is part of the movement we simply must have.

While I want Bu$hCo and his GOP enablers saddled with blame and shame for many years to come, the interests of the nation and our world come first. If James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, plus these other mostly internationalist grown ups, can help salvage this mess then I'll welcome them to the effort. Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Vietnam in 1972 vs. Iraq in 2006 and 2008

David Sirota serves up "Rejecting the McGovern Complex" via Common Dreams. Well reasoned and written as I've grown to expect from young David. (I had turned seven at the time of the 1972 election and David was not yet born so "young", and "wise beyond his years", is accurate.) From the Veep stumble to going againt the Nixon machine to the ..., I'm also frustrated with the comparisons. I'll also suggest the differences between the Democratic Party and the GOP go way, way beyond Iraq. Finally, George McGovern was a wise and decent man that deserved better then and now. Peace ... or War!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Joe Francis and our "Rape Culture Gone Wild"

While just this morning I was frustrated by a WaPo report that Afghanistan government may be reviving the Taliban approach via a "Department for the Promotion of Virtue and the Discouragement of Vice", I was aware of this trend for some time. I have a dear friend that has a friend doing UN work in Kabul helping them set up their legal systems. I get forwarded emails of his adventures, written with world class snark, and always howl with laughter, although there's nothing funny about vodka thieves.

I even have a cousin in Afghanistan, allegedly up for a General's slot, right now so it is interesting to have some personal insights into the country. I think he arrived about two months back, roughly the time the latest flareup happened. While I'm furious that Bu$hCo essentially abandoned the nation that we had a legitimate reason to invade for his misadventures in Iraq, the idea that these people, and thousands more, have served and suffered to have the Taliban step back in bothers me. I understand women are slightly better off but I do worry that setbacks are looming. Chances to create real change for these people, and even our world in seeing a true shift from a fundamentalist theocracy to a somewhat democratic and open society, I fear have been wasted.

That being written, let me now get to the reason for the post. I felt I needed to contrast the above with what troubles me about our culture. I have not done as much posting on feminism as I should have. I've been exposed to enough that I've plenty to share and will try to do a better job.

As a mitigating factor, I've often had the opportunity, while teaching teens these last five years, to confront the work of Joe Francis, the "brain" behind "Girls Gone Wild". My kids often referenced his trash. I don't like the idea of censorship and don't want to appear "Talibanish" in my views but there can be no doubt the "rape culture" is alive and well here in the United States. Shilling the liberal agenda in our public schools perhaps, I talked briefly about the way our society sexualizes women and the idea of the "lie of entitlement" that my friend Red Crowley wrote of. I'll even confess that at times I left a Dworkin or similar book like "Tranforming a Rape Culture" on my desk for kids to note and thus provide a springboard for a quick talk. "Mr. (Captain Plaid), what's that book about?" beats studying history or government or geography or ... I guess.

Jessica Valenti at Feministing serves up commentary and links that stand alone in her "Rape culture gone wild". Read it (and certainly the LA Times reporting of Claire Hoffman plus the images provided) and weep!

Maybe we ought to call "Comedy Central" but I'm not optimistic they'll pull ads for GGW. What we should certainly do is talk to the young people which we might influence. Making our society aware of how this trash shapes these kids' identies is workable. It is hard work, and we've got plenty of barriers in this often worthless mass culture, yet personal contact is effective. I'm betting that I was likely the first person, most certainly adult male, that some of my kids had ever heard talk this way. A token liberal in a sea of conservatism? My angle was hardly Puritan so I think some responded. I shared how marketing and popular culture was not always providing the best examples in many areas yet I expect that sleazy profiteers such as Joe Francis are about as poor excuses for humans as they come. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Report of our Constitutional Crisis as prepared by the staff of House Judiciary Ranking Democrat John Conyers, Jr.

If I'd have been handling this I'd have released at another time than a Friday afternoon in August. I'd have also dolled the webpage and document up a bit. Representative John Conyer, Jr. of Michigan is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and I'll provide his introduction in just a bit to explain why he felt it necessary to let his staff prepare this report.

Here's the intro webpage and here's the thing in Word Document format. I've of course not read the thing and might not for some time. I might not ever wade through it. From what I understand the media is mostly ignoring yet hope springs eternal. Working through this massive document will take some time but you'd think somebody would be talking about the basic allegations on the Sunday talking heads.

Here's what Representative Conyers wrote for the introduction:

Scandals such as Watergate and Iran-Contra are widely considered to be constitutional crises. They were in the sense that the executive branch was acting in violation of the law and in tension with the Majority Party in the Congress. But the system of checks and balances put in place by the founding fathers worked, the abuses were investigated, and actions were taken – even if presidential pardons ultimately prevented a full measure of justice.

The situation we find ourselves in today under the administration of George W. Bush is systemically different. The alleged acts of wrongdoing my staff has documented– which include making misleading statements about the decision to go to war; manipulating intelligence; facilitating and countenancing torture; using classified information to out a CIA agent; and violating federal surveillance and privacy laws – are quite serious. However, the current Majority Party has shown little inclination to engage in basic oversight, let alone question the Administration directly. The media, though showing some signs of aggressiveness as of late, is increasingly concentrated and all too often unwilling to risk the enmity or legal challenge from the party in charge. At the same time, unlike previous threats to civil liberties posed by the Civil War (suspension of habeas corpus and eviction of the Jews from portions of the Southern States); World War I (anti-immigrant “Palmer Raids”); World War II (internment of Japanese Americans); and the Vietnam War (COINTELPRO); the risks to our citizens’ rights today are potentially more grave, as the war on terror has no specific end point.

Although on occasion the courts are able to serve as a partial check on the unilateral overreaching of the Executive Branch – as they did in the recent Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision invalidating the President’s military tribunal rules – the unfortunate reality remains that we are a long way from being out of the constitutional woods under the dangerous combination of an imperial Bush presidency and a compliant GOP Congress. I say this for several reasons. The Hamdan decision itself was approved by only five Justices (three Justices dissented, and Chief Justice Roberts recused himself because he had previously ruled in favor of the Administration) and was written by 86-year old Justice Stevens. In the event of his retirement in the next two years, the Court’s balance would likely be tipped back as he would undoubtedly be replaced by another Justice in the Scalia-Thomas-Roberts-Alito mode favoring an all-powerful “unitary” executive. In the very first hearing held on the decision, the Administration witness testified that “the president is always right” and severely chastised the Court’s decision. The Republican Majority also appears poised to use the decision to score political points rather than reassert Congressional prerogatives, as House Majority Leader Boehner disingenuously declared the case “offers a clear choice between Capitol Hill Democrats who celebrate offering special privileges to violent terrorists, and Republicans who want the President to have the necessary tools to prosecute and achieve victory in the Global War on Terror.”

Thus, notwithstanding the eloquence of the Hamdan decision, I believe our Constitution remains in crisis. We cannot count on a single judicial decision to reclaim the rule of law or resurrect the system of checks and balances envisioned by the founding fathers. Rather, we need to restore a vigilant Congress, an independent judiciary, a law-abiding president, and a vigorous free press that has served our Nation so well throughout our history.

Because of the above concerns, I asked my Judiciary Committee staff to prepare the following Report. I made this request in the wake of President Bush’s failure to respond to a letter submitted by 122 Members of Congress and more than 500,000 Americans in July of 2005 asking him whether the assertions set forth in the so-called “Downing Street Minutes” were accurate, and in the aftermath of the disclosure by The New York Times in December 2005 and USA Today in May 2006 that the President had approved widespread warrantless domestic surveillance of innocent Americans. I asked for this Report to be prepared because I believe it is vital that we document these allegations, learn from our mistakes, and consider laws and safeguards necessary to prevent their recurrence.

I believe it is essential that we come together as a Nation to confront religious extremism and despicable regimes abroad as well as terrorist tactics at home. However, as a veteran, I recognize that we do no service to our brave armed forces by asking them to engage in military conflict under false pretenses and without adequate resources. Nor do we advance the cause of fighting terrorism if our government takes constitutionally dubious short cuts of little law enforcement value that alienate the very groups in this country whose cooperation is central to fighting this seminal battle.

Many of us remember a time when the powers of our government were horribly abused. Those of us who lived through Vietnam know the damage that can result when our government misleads its citizens about war. As one who was included on President Nixon’s “enemies list,” I am all too familiar with the specter of unlawful government intrusion. In the face of these lessons, I believe it is imperative that we never lose our voice of dissent, regardless of the political pressure. As Martin Luther King told us, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” None of us should be bullied or intimidated when the executive branch charges that those who would criticize their actions are “aiding the terrorists” and “giving ammunition to America’s enemies,” or when they warn that “Americans need to watch what they say,” as this Administration has done.

It is tragic that our Nation has invaded another sovereign nation because “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” and that millions of innocent Americans have been subject to government surveillance outside of proper legal process. However, it is unforgivable that Congress has been unwilling to examine these matters or take actions to prevent these circumstances from occurring again. Since the Majority Party is unwilling to fulfill their oversight responsibilities, it is incumbent on individual Members of Congress as well as the American public to act to protect our constitutional form of government. It is with that purpose and in that spirit that I am releasing this Minority Report.

I would like to thank the “blogosphere” for its myriad and invaluable contributions to my and my staff. Absent the assistance of “blogs” and other Internet-based media, it would have been impossible to assemble all of the information, sources and other materials necessary to the preparation of this Report. Whereas the so-called “mainstream media” has frequently been willing to look past the abuses of the Bush Administration, the blogosophere has proven to be a new and important bulwark of our Nation’s first amendment freedoms.

Certainly even a lightweight Lefty blogger can appreciate the snaps in that last paragraph. I'm in awe of some of the work by the likes of Glenn Greenwald and Christy Hardin Smith and ... Tip of the tam to Representative Conyers and his staff of course. Surely the media will examine these allegations and then , if deemed valid concerns, demand some answers from the White House and the Majority Party. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Jim Wallis' "If All You Have Is A Hammer..."

Jim Wallis of Sojourners serves up hope that diplomacy might prevail in the conflict with Iran, perhaps too optimistically given this administration, with his "If All You Have Is A Hammer..." What I admittedly valued was a trip down memory lane on how Bu$hCo bungled (and continues to bungle!) Iraq. At the bottom of the post I've got a link to an alternative that was pushed by religious leaders, including Jim Wallis, back in 2003.

Mr. Wallis begins his writing as follows:

The best line I heard in the period leading up to the war in Iraq was, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” It came from my friend Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, when we were on a panel together in England about the best response to terrorism.

The premise of the panel was that the threat of terrorism is real, that there are real dangers prowling about in our world, and that the problem of evil is a very serious one. The question we were addressing was what the best response to the real threats of terrorism should be.

Let me say what we have said before in these pages, before this awful war began: The war with Iraq was not a war of last or only resort, or the best way to deal with the real threats offered by Saddam Hussein. There were other alternatives possible—even some non-administration hawks thought that the “six-point plan” offered by some American religious leaders and released by Sojourners in March 2003 should have been tried—and they were simply not seriously considered by the Bush administration. And it is now undeniably true that this administration lied about the facts in Iraq and consistently manipulated intelligence to justify going to war.

Now the stories come every day, of thousands of young Americans dying and being maimed forever, of wives losing husbands and husbands losing wives, of children losing their parents and parents their children—suffering and pain that I believe was unnecessary.

I NOW CALL THIS the American “hammer habit.” If we don’t know how to solve a problem, we just fight. Diplomacy has become a “weak” word to those who run our foreign policy and, in the House debate on Iraq in June, Republicans made numerous references to those who are “afraid to fight.” Right on cue, Fox News Sunday’s Brit Hume accused Democrats of being a party that just doesn’t like to fight. And according to the neo-conservatives masquerading as journalists, such as Hume and William Kristol, continuous fighting is the only foreign policy that makes any sense.

Even more frightening is how much their friends such as Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have the same strong preference for fighting over talking. If they had their way, we would have fought or would still be fighting several wars by now—all at the same time—in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Iran at least, and probably against North Korea too, if they thought we could win the war. They act as if talking and negotiating with potential adversaries is just a waste of time. It is truly astonishing and even shocking how people who simply question the efficacy and morality of the continuing American occupation in Iraq—including longtime military supporters such as Rep. John Murtha—are so quickly and viciously accused of “cutting and running” or not having the “courage” to fight. ...

I continue to hear very smart men and women opine that Iraq might be the biggest foreign policy blunder in recent decades. How an administration such as this one came to power is a lesson for us all. Reckon Ralph Nader still thinks there was little if any difference in Bu$hCo and Al Gore? I'd also forgotten about this "six point plan" or "third way" effort. Looks pretty good now doesn't it?

This fall our nation stands at a crossroads. Electing Progressive Democrats can help create conditions where we can understand why this White House (and many in Congress along with the media plus a great deal of regular Americans) chose war over peace. Learning of the abuses of the Bu$h administration is certainly a part of the equation yet it goes even beyond their cabal of liars and manipulators. Our side can win in the marketplace of ideas, which I think begins with domestic policies that impact surely every citizen. However, a foreign policy that defaults to war cannot be acceptable to the vast majority of Americans, or for that matter our world, and will appeal to all but the most militaristic voters. Peace ... or War!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Wingnut 101 via Young America's Foundation

Jason DeParle of the Gray Lady gives us “Passing Down the Legacy of Conservatism” where he examines the Young America’s Foundation. At their marketplace you can purchase your own “stunning Ann Coulter” poster (I could perhaps use in my garden as a Scare Ho?) plus claim your free George W. Bush poster. Another freebie is the “2006-2007 Campus Conservative Battleplan” which provides examples of how to best carry our campus activism.

Good luck on the “Highlight America's success in the Middle East” suggestion! I still think a few tours wearing BDUs into the Middle East might be a good place for these chickenhawks to show their support.

I’ve previously posted on the YAF’s Ruth Malhotra doing her part to earn her Club 100 Columnist credentials. PFAW and SourceWatch reveal more. 501(c)(3) status so the Olin, Scaife, Bradley, Coors, … families/foundations can deduct their support. A good example of what these funders are getting for their money is how a YAF media representative recently denied, in a perfect demonstration of smugness that only a young Republican can demonstrate, press credentials to a college-age Progressive reporter after he had twice covered the Campus Progress conferences!

Perhaps this prime fighting age man needs to enlist? Peace … or War!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Norton Garfinkle - I Want His Book!

I want Norman Garfinkle's “The American Dream vs. the Gospel of Wealth: The Fight for a Productive Middle-Class Economy" Tip of the tam to Professor Eric Alterman for pointing me in that direction. Scroll down Doc's work and you'll begin to get a handle on the shift from demand-side to supply-side. As an unrecontructed Keynesian I've long been in the demand camp.

After the disaster of Reagan and especially Bu$hCo where "growth" is the only concern perhaps the supply siders will crawl off and die. And I think it will if the average American could ever get a handle on economics and policy. Joe Sixpack can I think understand Keynes far easier than "voodoo economics". Even if they can't they can at least accept the fairness of the policy for regular folks. Something has to give and the sooner the better. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

John Kerry on Health Care

Back on 2003 I decided John Kerry and John Edwards best represented the ideas that I thought were best. I did not reject Howard Dean but found his ideas and approaches perhaps too far ahead for the times. Kerry's war record seemed attractive compared to Dubyah's "service". I ran across a John Kerry HuffPo post that prompted me to look further. John Kerry's recent speech on health care resonates for me. Finally, I've been bloggered lately so I regret the lack of posts. Peace ... or War!

Monday, July 31, 2006


The Prince of Darkness doesn't even smile this much when he's drowning baby kittens or shooting old men in the face! Although the Veep doesn't often smile in public, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, pictured to the left, has long kept the Bu$hCo cabal smiling. Here's the latest ...

Dafna Linzer of the WaPo reported on Sunday "Report on Prewar Intelligence Lagging : Information Democrats Want Most Might Not Come Out Until After Election" and, via Senate staffers as her anonymous sources, reveals that Senator Roberts appears to have just flat out lied when he told Congress and the world back in late 2005 that the report was almost finished. Harry Reid had of course closed down the Senate in an effort to get Roberts off the pot but the rascal and his party seems to have not learned much.

My understanding is that way back in early 2004 Pat Roberts and a few others convinced the Democratic leadership (focusing on Jay Rockerfeller of WV) to split up the investigation of pre-war intelligence failures as "a matter of fairness" with the election looming. Phase I of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report examined how the intelligence agencies did their job. Phase II would look at how the White House handled and used this or other information.

Back in April of this year Alexander Bolton of The Hill provided us a good updated on the status of this mess. I think this is the first time Roberts began backing off his 2005 representations. There were suggestions in this reporting that another split could occur in the report (Perhaps we could call it Phase IIA?) with the less controversial segments, allegedly three back then, drafted and just around the corner. Meatloaf assures me that "two outta three 'aint bad" but darned if I'm not so certain that we ought to still be waiting for anything! Especially since the two, except for the Chalabi angle in one portion, have been explored to a large extent by Phase I. We'll still need to wait for the stuff on Chalabi. Wonder why?

"The dumbest fucking guy on the planet" Douglas Feith is too blame according to Roberts. Why seek his "cooperation" Senator? Subpoena his ass! He's teaching over at Georgetown. Jesus General located Professor Feith's syllabus so surely he'll be easy to serve. I don't think that "Feith and Friends" Fox News program worked out so they can't find him hanging out at Dick Cheney's favorite network.

I wonder if John Rendon is available? Scooter's admittedly occupied, but Condi and Rummy and... are still around. Pat Roberts and Dick seem to be on speaking terms. Dubyah, as long as we don't interfere with his exercise schedule, could surely work some time in for this Committee. Plus it seems like a call from any of the leaders up at Bu$hCo could motivate pretty much anybody that is needed to assist.

You've got a little over three month until the mid-terms. Surely there's time to get things rolling. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

John Stossel ... "The Market's working for me!"

I recently posted over on Captain Jimi about Bu$hCo's Education Department research running contrary to the official party line. Never fear conservatism, John Stossel is riding to the rescue of the doctrine in distress.

At the start of the month, our Prime Time Propagandist was named "Outlander of the Day", an admittedly short lived concept, that gives you a little background on the Stossel style of journalism.

Ever the advocate for school choice, even getting prime time opportunities to shill his seemingly biased and misleading "reporting", Mr. Stossel appears via TownHall, amongst other illuminaries of the wingnut welfare and corporate journalist class, with "Smearing education choice".

Read the column and then tell me who is doing the "smearing"! Jabbing at the Gray Lady is always good for some read meat for the base and then telling the informed readers of TownHall they just don't like capitalism and free markets, much less "conservative Christian" schools, seals the deal for me.

"Torturing the data" is the phrase he uses to lament the DOE's own researchers applying what he admits is a valid statistical tool, namely regressional analysis, to control for poverty and parenting factors.

It's "telling to me" that you cite international comparisons, claiming the Times/mainstream media leave this out of their reporting as they are "eager to defend a unionized government monopoly". You admit American kids compare favorably to students of other developed nations in early years, as measured by all knowing tests I'm sure, and then fall behind in later grades. There's no way the fact that the U.S. doesn't openly track out kids to manual labor, technical, and university programs in kid's early teenage years like these other nations generally do would have anything to do with this is there John?

No cultural factors in play are there? Concentrated poverty ... don't be silly! Professional educators that point out these concerns and offer solutions are obviously defending their lucrative and respected turf. Why don't they, after two plus decades of conservatism controlling educational policy, admit they don't have the answers?

School choice under the beloved market would solve all our problems! Doctrine rescued. Bureaucrats/unions and the NYT smeared. Conservative Christians defended from persecution! Well done Sir Stossel!

Finally, in your column you cited various studies, with no links or references, that support some of your arguments. While I'm expecting Jay Greene and/or The Manhattan Institute was/were involved in some I'm not going to do the work of looking. If you take the lottery winners that made it into a school with wealthier and more motivated fellow students and compare them with kids left behind in perhaps poorer populations, then I'm not so sure who is guilty of torturing the data.

I'm not surprised John Stossel can find a place for his work on TownHall yet the fact that ABC gives his type time to do their shilling continues to amaze me. I guess the market does have all the solutions for "journalists" like John Stossel. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Andrew Greeley - "Who Grieves for Dead Iraqis?"

I found Andrew Greeley's "Who Grieves for Dead Iraqis?" on Common Dreams yet it originally appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times.

I grieve! Four "ours" of course yet as much so for "theirs" as these deaths were avoidable given a little less cowboy and a lot more cooperation. I was against the invasion of Iraq from the start yet I still feel guilt. I think Mr. Greeley is right to think Americans that supported this Bu$hCo cabal's hyper-aggressive stance would and should feel shame.

Here's what he writes:

... The New York Times reported that during recent months a hundred Iraqis die violently every day, 3,000 every month. In terms of size of population, that is the equivalent of 300,000 Americans a month, 10,000 every day. ...

Rarely do Americans tell themselves that the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, is responsible for this slaughter. In a spasm of arrogance and power, we destroyed their political and social structure and are now unable to protect them from one another. Their blood is on the hands of our leaders who launched a war on false premises, without adequate forces, without plans for the time after the war and then sent in inept administrators who could not provide even a hint of adequate public services.

As Colin Powell, who knows something about war, unlike the president and his top thinkers, told President Bush, "If you break it, you own it." If you shatter a society, it is yours, and you're responsible for it. The United States shattered Iraq and we are responsible for the ensuing chaos that we are unable to control. So a hundred human beings are killed every day, and the most powerful military in the world (as Messrs. Rumsfeld and Cheney insist) is unable to stop the killing.

On most of the standards for a just war, the invasion of Iraq was criminally unjust. Messrs. Wolfowitz, Cheney and Rumsfeld wanted to invade Iraq the day after the World Trade Center attack. They tried to persuade the people that Iraq was somehow involved in the attack. They insisted that the Iraqis possessed weapons of mass destruction. Their arguments for the war, we all know now, were not true.

There was, therefore, no just cause, no attempt to exhaust all possible alternatives short of war, no real hope for victory, no postwar plan, and no ability to prevent the postwar butchery that was easily predictable to those who understood Iraq. The war leaped from slogan to slogan -- weapons of mass destruction, the critical front in the global war on terror, stay the course, freedom and democracy in Iraq. All these slogans are false.

Were America's leaders deliberately lying? Did they really believe that the Shiites and the Sunnis would not murder one another, or did they know better? One must leave the state of their consciences to God. However, they should have known, and ...

I also grieve for the young men and women that are in Iraq, often cycled in and out on tour after tour, and being scarred by the experience. The costs in blood, soul, and treasure continue to rise. I noticed where our KIA numbers are approaching 2600 and wounded nears 20,000.

I'm afraid it is too late to salvage much of any good from this disaster beyond trying to reduce the killing and hurting. That we can keep both ours and theirs safer with a gradual withdrawal seems like some middle ground that needs serious consideration. I've long thought a Murthaesque approach made sense. Putting our troops just over the horizon (perhaps horizons would be more accurate as a force up in the Kurdish areas over near Syria/Turkey and also East near Iran could keep Iraq's neighbors from getting too bold) might allow us (and Iraq!) to hold on long enough to get a new administration in our White House that might have a prayer of carrying out effective leadership. Splitting Iraq into three sectors could also perhaps defuse some of the tensions. Buying off and even empowering some of the Iraqi leaders that can create stable locales is a bargain that might work. Trying to get international support back in the mix seems foundational yet I think Bu$hCo has long ago burned that bridge. Humanitarian efforts should be a focus yet I know conditions of the ground might hinder.

Relying on "Stay the course!" and "We'll stand down when the Iraqis stand up." plus ginning up Rovian talking points to paint alternatives suggested from the left as "Cut and Run" is hardly working is it? Bu$hCo is simply in over their heads and the many foundational flaws in this administration and the GOP controlled Congress prevent little if any movement toward a remedy.

One final thing I'll add to Mr. Greeley's ideas are that while we "must leave the state of their consciences to God" we can hold them, and their party accountable, at the ballot box. Kansas Senator Pat Roberts surely isn't going to hold them accountable so shifting the control of the House and/or Senate to the Democrats will open up the possibility of real investigations and perhaps even a shift in strategy in Iraq. Peace ... or War!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Digby Does Dickey - Paper tigers without morality

I bought this Christopher Dickey book at a local second hand shop but have not yet tackled. I expect this one will be a tough one given my relationship with my Old Daddy. We had time for some healing before my Dad checked out yet I'm expecting there will be some serious emotions turned over once I do read. I've long been a fan of father and son but Christopher Dickey is doing especially grand work via his Newsweek "Shadowland" effort. Digby send us to a recent Dickey column entitled "Let It Bleed" and then turns his wicked writing to an analysis as follows:

I'm not sure I really get why the US and Israel haven't yet come to terms with the fact that this fourth generation war cannot be won with classic military action. I suspect it is the neocon influence which, throughout many decades, never gave a passing thought to terrorism or assymetrical warfare. They have been stuck in a cold war mindset (a mindset that was wrong about the cold war too) and have consistently seen the world through the prism of rogue totalitarian states. This is why, in spite of the fact that everything is going to hell in a handbasket in a hundred different ways, they persist in focusing on Iran (formerly Iraq) and ignoring all the moving parts that make their aggressive plans to "confront" these regimes simpleminded and doomed to failure.

For Israel and the US it couldn't be worse. They have systematically chipped away at any moral authority they had while demonstrating that their military, diplomatic and economic power are paper tigers. What an excellent strategy for all concerned. Oh, and too bad about all the dead bodies that have been produced to create that sad outcome.

This "War President" and his cabal of enablers have truly created a world that is going to require some grown ups to repair. Peace ... or War!

NPR Polling Suggests Democrats Running Strong in Critical House Districts

A tip of the tam to Bob Englehart of The Harford Courant for the image above. Daryl Cagle's MSNBC syndicate delivers again! While I'm doubtful it will be this easy to get our voters back, the "Give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves!" strategy might have worked up to a point.

Although the actual poll is available in PDF format, I'll send you to the NPR "Morning Edition" story by Mara Liasson. With this poll narrowly examining fifty Congressional Districts that could go either way this fall, the results strongly suggest the GOP could very well lose the House.

Recalling the Republican's advantages of late in fundraising and GOTV is appropriate. I certainly hope the DNC and Progresssive organizations have people on the ground to assure a fair vote as well. With the loss of either Chamber the Bu$hCo crowd, and the GOP as a whole, can finally be forced to answer up. You know they fear this and will pull out every trick in the book to prevent.

This is going to be a fine fall for political junkies yet I'm so eager for a change in DC that I'll need to be careful not to overdose. Peace ... or War!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

WaPo's Thomas E. Ricks on Iraq Fiasco

I heard the majority of an interview of Mr. Rick's on NPR this Tuesday when I was loading and unloading brood cows. Experiencing cattle being run through the chutes and then dropped back with their assigned bull seems appropriate for how this war was sold and bought by many Americans yet this book examines the military, focusing on the occupation from what I've learned. I've added it to my Amazon "wish list" and will try to get to it one of these days.

Recent reporting from Mr. Ricks at the WaPo entitled "In Iraq, Military Forgot the Lessons of Vietnam - Early Missteps by U.S. Left Troops Unprepared for Guerrilla Warfare" seems consistent with what I heard this Tuesday when I wasn't playing farm hand. "Fiasco" is not too bold a term. In any other administration than Bu$hCo some accountability would exist for creating such conditions. Peace ... or War!

Is "Dead Man Walking" in or out of "Devil's Game"?

Tom Paine gives Robert Dreyfuss space for his "Maliki: Dead Man Walking" that is worth a read in and of itself. I'd ran across some of Mr. Dreyfuss' work in the past but I'd missed his book. Looks like a solid offering. The questions I have relate to which direction Iraq's PM is moving. Maliki has been installed with the blessing of Bu$hCo yet I'm so uncertain of how this White House intends to engage Iraq and the larger Middle East that a guess is all I've got.

From a quick bounce around the book's site, one idea to offer is that historically these decisions that helped unleash Fundy Islam were surely made by relatively rational and well read people. They were often wrong maybe yet defensible. With Bu$hCo, the agenda seems to drive the reality. I'm so frustrated with our government not holding Bu$h to any responsibility, in Iraq or elsewhere, yet I suppose Karl Rove feels like this foolishness with Maliki will sell, at least in The Heartland. Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

DOJ's Civil Rights Division heads to the Right

Charlie Savage, known for his amazing work on Bu$hCo "signing statements", reveals in yesterday's Boston Globe "Civil rights hiring shifted in Bush era : Conservative leanings stressed" with the following being especially important:

In an acknowledgment of the department's special need to be politically neutral, hiring for career jobs in the Civil Rights Division under all recent administrations, Democratic and Republican, had been handled by civil servants -- not political appointees.

But in the fall of 2002, then-attorney general John Ashcroft changed the procedures. The Civil Rights Division disbanded the hiring committees made up of veteran career lawyers.

For decades, such committees had screened thousands of resumes, interviewed candidates, and made recommendations that were only rarely rejected.

Now, hiring is closely overseen by Bush administration political appointees to Justice, effectively turning hundreds of career jobs into politically appointed positions.

This article is the type of reporting that ought to get coverage yet I'm not optimistic. People must understand how Bu$hCo has run rough shod over our laws and traditions. Read this piece and make sure your friends and family know of this development. I loathed John Ashcroft for his radicalism and find Alberto "Abu" Gonzales equally troubling for his loyalty to Bu$hCo. But the bottom line is that both were brought to power under the directions of Bu$hCo. His will be the worst administration ever and I can only hope we'll have a way to reverse the damage he's done. Peace ... or War!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Straight Talk Examines Conservative Failures

I've seldom had folks that I deal with directly label me as part of the "Looney Left" as most learn they'll draw back a nub. I truly enjoy talking with the rare conservative around here that can reason through their positions. I've yet to have a smart, well-informed conservative call me "looney", at least as best as I'm aware.

Given the disasters of Bu$hCo, many "conservatives" are trying to now offer that he's really not "conservative". While I agree up to a point, Dubyah's policies are certainly related to what Reagan started in the early 80s and Newt brought along in 1994.

I've long been a fan of The Campaign for America's Future and their "Straight Talk" effort gives us a nice chart, with the ability to read further, on "The Conservative Failure". Study this work to be ready to fight off "looney left" labels. I've found the better informed I became the less I had to deal with Dittoheads and those lightweights. It might not matter to some Christianist "Values Voter" types but the economic and environmental and health care and ... realities are especially hard to deny. Additionally, the rare conservative that can make a rational defense of their positions will have to work long and hard to explain away these failures. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Do "conservatives" really think there are no moral and/or intellectual limits in defending "Our Leader"?

Glenn Greenwald cross-posts at C&L with John Dean and Authoritarian Cultism - a Review. Glenn's own "How Would a Patriot Act?" is a short but sweet read for a contrast to the "authoritarian" view of Bu$hCo. At Glenn's own "Unclaimed Territory" he reminds us that neo-conservatives still greatly influence Bu$h "policy". Peace ... or War!

Buy Some Insurance and Help Astroturf America

A little less than a month ago, over on Captain Bama, I posted "Dick Armey's Astroturfing of Alabama" in response to a piece he managed to get published in The Anniston Star. I took Dick to task and mentioned how his "grassroots" organization is more like "astroturf". Regular members are mostly cover for the Big Mules that have their own agenda.

The WaPo's Jonathan Weisman, in his "With Insurance Policy Comes Membership - Unbeknown to Some, Those Signing Up With Firm Are Joining Conservative Group" , reveals Dick's "FreedomWorks" (formerly knows as "Citizens for a Sound Economy", has been getting members and money from the sale of Health Savings Accounts (HSA) from a company owned by millionaire Republican businessman J. Patrick Rooney. Dick Armey allegedly loves to fish, and from the image one would think he just loves fish, yet it seems like he's more than willing to reel in money and members through what seems not especially sporting.

Mr. Rooney was involved in "People of Color United" which might have made difference in Ohio this past 2004. Rooney thinks "the Lord would be pleased about" his HSA advocacy. Mr. Rooney attracted the attention of Mother Jones some ten years ago. I love how they described the HSA idea as "kooky" according to economist and health care experts yet we know how Bu$hCo and the GOP tends to treat experts, especially when there's money to be made. Rooney also has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that certainly needs watching.

That Dick Armey and J. Patrick Rooney have managed to make even more money and further their radical agendas by hiding the truth from regular folks they do business with surprises me not. They are opportunistic corporate shills that don't care about the little man. They are networked in with the GOP power structure who thinks government's only tolerable reason for existence is to give them an opportunity to make them more money. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

SusanG Asks "What Did You Expect, America?"

SusanG at Daily Kos declares "If you put people in charge of running a project they are ideologically committed to proving a failure, it will fail." Part of her writing offers:

In electing Republicans, America, you put people in charge of institutions they overtly, caustically loathe and proudly proclaim should not exist. Good thinking, USA, and stellar results: Katrina, Iraq, Medicare D, trade and budget deficits, mine disasters and on and on and on and ...

Conservatives have declared officially for decades that they hate public programs and love private business. Why then, do Americans profess shock when these same people run the public credit card up to bunker-busting levels to line the pockets of friendly corporations, leaving taxpayers - current and the as-yet unborn - the bill

It's the dine and ditch mentality writ large, and American citizens are the unfortunate waiters having their lowly pay docked to cover the deadbeat loss - and their future grandchildren's pay docked as well.

We are witnessing an orchestrated, unprecedented transfer of public wealth to private pockets, a national one-party feeding frenzy that's making beggars and beseechers of us all, and yet many Americans stand around muttering in a daze of semi-apathetic befuddlement about gosh darn how did all this come to be and how sure as shit, uh-huh, those Republicans shore were right, government doesn't do a the little guy a damn bit of good, no sirree bob. Better drown it some more. Cut them taxes, privatize something, anything, pronto! ...

Seems pretty straightforward to me. But hey, I'm a Democrat. You know, one of those people who think universal quality public education is a massive good to society, that maintaining our highways and levees and bridges and dams is part of what makes this country great, that paying first-responders and nurses what they're worth helps guarantee our public health and safety, that providing for fellow citizens who fall on hard times is not only the ethical thing to do, but the pragmatic one, ensuring that this country does not incubate a permanently inflamed and disgruntled underclass ready to drop a match on a pool of social gasoline.

Here's a thought - just a thought, mind you, beloved America: Perhaps it's time to return to government the party that has an ideological stake in making it ... you know ... succeed. Maybe, just maybe, it's time to raise our sights a wee bit and elect people who think public service is more than an opportunity for the "Biggest! Fire Sale! Ever!" for their friends and loved ones. Perhaps it's time to insist on greater - if not great - expectations from the employees we decide to hire or fire every two years to carry out our will under the constitution.

As one-party Republican rule has clearly shown, when you expect incompetence, corruption and deceit from your government, you get exactly what you vote for. In spades.

Very solid work. Peace .. or War!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Bu$hCo's DOE Chief Margaret Spellings Shills Voucher Program but Ignores Own Department's Research

This past Tuesday I dropped a post on Captain Jimi about Bu$hCo's Department of Education hiding research that contradicts the right's message on vouchers and charter schools. Bottom line, once you adjust for poverty our public school do as good, according to standardized testing, and in fact better in many areas, than voucher (and probably charter) schools.

Today, Susan G at Kos reveals that Margaret Spellings, the Bu$hCo appointee over the DOE, claims, disengenously it seems to me, that this report was hidden from her. Over this past weekend she read in the papers about the report (from her own agency!) that trashes the right's position yet she still doesn't bother reading it. This is a few days before going to Congress and asking for $100 million to remedy the failures of public schools via a voucher program? "Heck of a job, Maggie!" Peace ... or War!

Former Victim of Nixon Abuses thinks Bu$h Worse

I always recall my old Daddy watching the Watergate mess unfold when I think back on Tricky Dick. A Yellow Dog Democrat to the core, my father never cared for Nixon yet after his actions were revealed simply loathed him. Morton Halperin, a veteran of the LBJ, Nixon, and Carter administrations, based now at the Center for American Progress, weighed in via Sunday's LA Times with "Bush - Worse Than Nixon". He writes:

But even though Nixon's specific actions might have been more obviously illegal and more "corrupt" (in the sense that they were designed to advance his own career over his rivals), President Bush's claim of nearly limitless power — including the ability to engage in a range of activities that pose a fundamental threat to the constitutional order and to our civil liberties — overshadows all comparisons.

Among the many such activities are the seizure of U.S. citizens and their indefinite detention without charge or access to lawyers; warrantless wiretaps of citizens in violation of procedures mandated by Congress; and the seizing of individuals in foreign countries and their movement to third countries, where they have been subjected to torture in violation of U.S. laws and treaty obligations.

When these activities have leaked out, the president has not sought to deny them but has publicly defended them (and attacked the press for printing the information). The administration has vigorously opposed all efforts to have the courts review its actions, and when the Supreme Court has overruled the president, as it has several times now, the administration has given the court holdings the narrowest possible interpretation.

Congress has been treated with equal disdain. When the Senate voted overwhelmingly to prohibit torture and cruel and degrading treatment by all agencies, including the CIA, Vice President Dick Cheney warned lawmakers that they were overstepping their bounds and threatening national security. When Congress persisted and attached the language to a defense appropriations bill, the president signed the law with an accompanying statement declaring his right to disobey the anti-torture provisions.

The administration has repeatedly failed to inform Congress or its committees of what it was doing, or has told only a few selected members in a truncated way, preventing real oversight. Even leading Republicans, such as Michigan's Rep. Peter Hoekstra, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have voiced strong concerns.

During the Nixon years, the laws governing what the president could do and under what circumstances he needed to inform Congress were murky. There were no intelligence committees in Congress, and there was no Intelligence Oversight Act. There was no legislated prohibition on national security surveillance.

In response to Watergate and the related scandals of the Nixon years, however, Congress constructed a careful set of prohibitions, guidelines and requirements for congressional reporting.

Bush's systematic and defiant violation of these rules, as well as of the mandates of the Constitution and international law, pose a challenge to our constitutional order and civil liberties that, in the end, constitutes a far greater threat than the lawlessness of Richard Nixon.

Mr. Halperin makes plenty of sense doesn't he? If our Congress doesn't push back after 2006 then I'm afraid history will judge us harshly. I'm sure the GOP swift boats are already in the water, along with other tactics being ready, to avoid both the loss of control of Congress and also to push back against those seeking investigations. If and when real oversight begins I'm sure the GOP will try to play it off as partisan politics but if this is handled correctly I'm thinking the American public's outrage over how the GOP looked the other way will more than outweigh the risks. Peace ... or War!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Authoritarianism Lives on in Bu$hCo

Sidney Blumenthal of Salon (just watch the ad) shares "The emperor's new veto - Bush's first veto of Congress marks the collapse of his imperial presidency -- and a crisis for the paranoid style he and his party have mastered" that is worth a visit. Perhaps a bit too optimistic in the "collapse" as I'll submit the paranoid style is a staple of the GOP.

The piece references the work of John Dean, and I'm admittedly reluctant to link to "Conservatives Without Conscience" since I'm still not a huge Dean fan, which shared various studies on authoritarianism. Mr. Blumenthal writes:

Conservatism, as Dean sees it, has been transformed into authoritarianism. In his book, he revives an analysis of the social psychology of the right that its ideologues spent decades trying to deflect and discourage. In 1950, Theodor Adorno and a team of social scientists published "The Authoritarian Personality," exploring the psychological underpinnings of those attracted to Nazi, fascist and right-wing movements. In the immediate aftermath of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's rise and fall, the leading American sociologists and historians of the time -- Daniel Bell, David Riesman, Nathan Glazer, Richard Hofstadter, Seymour Martin Lipset and others -- contributed in 1955 to "The New American Right," examining the status anxieties of reactionary populism. The 1964 Goldwater campaign provided grist for historian Hofstadter to offer his memorable description of the "paranoid style" of the "pseudo-conservative revolt."

While Dean honors Goldwater, he picks up where Hofstadter left off. "During the past half century," he writes, "our understanding of authoritarianism has been significantly refined and advanced." In particular, he cites the work of Bob Altemeyer, a social psychologist at the University of Manitoba, whose studies have plumbed the depths of those he calls "right-wing authoritarians." They are submissive toward authority, fundamentalist in orientation, dogmatic, socially isolated and insular, fearful of people different from themselves, hostile to minorities, uncritical toward dominating authority figures, prone to a constant sense of besiegement and panic, and punitive and self-righteous. Altemeyer estimates that between 20 and 25 percent of Americans might be categorized as right-wing authoritarians.

According to Dean's assessment, "Nixon, for all his faults, had more of a conscience than Bush and Cheney ... Our government has become largely authoritarian ... run by an array of authoritarian personalities," who flourish "because the growth of contemporary conservatism has generated countless millions of authoritarian followers, people who will not question such actions."

20 to 25% of Americans! That's a huge number that can perhaps be stirred to action by fear and pressure. Again, I'm just not thinking the GOP is switching gears here. Congress might push back a little, at least for those candadates facing some moderate pressures, in an effort to cover things past the election. They need those "authoritarian" votes to have a prayer in 2006, possibly more than in 2008, and Karl Rove will be busy motivating them. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pastor John Hagee & other conservative crazies

Sarah Posner of The American Prospect delivers "Holy War: As the Middle East burns, GOP pols, neocon pundits, and a powerful Christian right leader all sing the same (crazy) tune." These wing nuts get plenty of tolerance as few people will simply call them "crazy" yet Ms. Posner rightfully labels. Her only source is Knesset member Benny Elon, and perhaps he stretched, yet Newt Gingrich and John McCain are at least using the language. Short post on some solid work. Follow her link to the prior post on Pastor Hagee as he is an especially scary televangelist. When his books top Wal-Mart lists then you know he's in the Heartland but to have his radical ideas pressed up in DC, via CUFI, terrifies me. Peace ... or War!

Kenneth Adelman Laments "Triumph of Kerryism"

I've posted on PNAC only once from the best of my knowledge, in the context of their "Statement of Principles", and I think never on this Shakespeare spouting neo-conservative. Henry V is one of his favs perhaps? "... we happy few, we band of brothers ... "

Are we "happy" now thanks to folks like Ken Adelman? For more information on Mr. Adelman please consult the International Relations Center's Right Web and also the Center for Media & Democracy's SourceWatch.

Right of the right, Ken Adelman is especially close to Dick Cheney. Infamous for his predictions of an Iraq "cakewalk" in early 2002 and then prematurely gloating back even before the staging of Commander Codpiece's "Mission Accomplished" moment.

With no quarter given, as is his style it appears, Ken Adelman is increasingly willing to attack even Dubyah. The neo-cons aren't going without a fight it appears. The WaPo's Michael Abramowitz serves up "Conservative Anger Grows Over Bush's Foreign Policy" where the following appears:

Kenneth Adelman, a Reagan administration arms-control official who is close to Vice President Cheney, said he believes foreign policy innovation for White House ended with Bush's second inaugural address, a call to spread democracy throughout the world.

"What they are doing on North Korea or Iran is what Kerry would do, what a normal middle-of-the-road president would do," he said. "This administration prided itself on molding history, not just reacting to events. Its a normal foreign policy right now. It's the triumph of Kerryism."

Mr. Adelman, Bu$hCo mentioned "democracy" so many times for cover. No WMD, a growing insurgency, Iraq's infrastructure ran down already but now increasingly destroyed, civilian casualities, budget busting ruin to the treasury, mounting KIA numbers plus exponentially more wounded, etc. He didn't mean it! You know this dog won't hunt.

I agree Russia and Egypt are backing away from democracy yet they weren't under the past administration. Your "molding" efforts essentially broke the mold in that the U.S. is so bogged down with Iraq that the rest of the world might figure there's little we could do to stop them. The "realist" are back in vogue, which is hardly ideal in that they'll overlook the abuses of regimes if that is in the best interest of America, yet at least they know you can't create democracies by an aggressive military stance. Saudi Arabia's leadership, plus some of the other oil oligarchies that are hardly known for justice, have long been tied to Bu$hCo.

The period since the January speech reveals just a little more. The election of Hamas (Almost guaranteed after Israel was emboldened to do the Gaza pullout despite what the Palestinians begged them to delay on since they couldn't control the area!) was a surprise to Condi Rice but ought to give you an idea that this administration is simply in over its head.

If Bu$hCo was serious about spreading democracy, I think any reasonable person knows you seldom if ever do this via military power. Additionally, teaching others respect for the rule of law is hardly served when this Executive Branch is doing an end run around the law on torture, violating our own privacy laws, repressing the freedom of the press, etc.

Would that Bu$hCo were "a middle of the road" leader as he's likely going to be viewed by history as the poorest in at least the modern era. He is around Buchanan or Pierce levels even now. I'd settle for Daddy Bu$h or Slick Willy on their worst day as "normal diplomacy" seems to be better than no or wrong diplomacy. This simple minded, frat boy, dry drunk, lightweight, arrogant man hasn't the temperment to even muddle through the issues facing our nation right now. You and your type elected this disaster and then created the Iraq invasion so don't blame me/us.

As for the "Kerryism" reference, John Kerry actually served in combat rather than partying at the Diplomat down in Montgomery and campaigning for Mr. Blount. This military veteran understood the limitations and also the reasonable positives of projecting some military power. Senator Kerry authorized Bu$h to move forward, as many Democrats did, with the belief that he'd use some measure of restraint. We know now that Dick Cheny and his merry band of neo-con brothers rushed to war, gaming the intelligence and crushing opposition views as they did.

The good will of most of the world shown to our nation after 9-11 was squandered and I doubt John Kerry would have wasted that rare opportunity. Our allies were pushed aside and openly disrespected. John Kerry would not have abandoned the Clinton administrations's work on North Korea, as flawed as it was, as he was intelligent enough to appreciate the complexity of issues rather than listening to some far right hawks that have rarely if ever even seen war. He would have likely never scared Iran and North Korea into moving forward so assertively with their nuclear programs while at the same time alienating allies and cooperating governments through aggressive unilateralism. That we need the help of other nations now seems obvious but apparently not to Mr. Adelman.

The work of UN weapons inspectors in Iraq was working (obviously!) yet your war machine couldn't wait. Afghanistan was essentially abandoned and the hunt for bin Laden was outsourced. Rummy ignored and even booted military experts that did not want to experiment with his light and fast approach.

The threat of some Iraqi fighting men melting away to fight later as insurgents was dismissed, as was the idea that Iraq could become a magnet for other Islamist. People warning Bu$hCo about the dangers of occupying this land were held up as objects of scorn. Bu$h didn't have the faintest idea of Sunni and Shite (plus the Kurds) tensions and his handlers, your man Dick Cheney is the main one doing the handling of course, didn't want him to know. That Rummy didn't effectively plan for the end game and occupation is a given.

Concern over innocent civilians would not have been ignored by a Kerry administration. John Kerry wouldn't have rushed our men and women into combat lacking adequate body armor or the proper equipment. John Kerry would have never let his White House Counsel, now Attorney General, describe the Geneva Conventions as "quaint". John Kerry would have fired his Defense Secretary long ago for his ineffective leadership yet Abu Ghraib alone would have likely been enough. John Kerry would not have sent a flamethrower like John Bolten to the UN, much less do so over the objections of many in the Senate. John Kerry would not have rewarded Paul Brenner, George Tenet, and Paul Wolfowitz for their disastrous work related to Iraq.

On the Domestic Front, John Kerry would have also respected the limitations to Executive power by working with Congress. Of course if John Kerry (or Al Gore!) were President I expect Congress, if in the hands of the GOP certainly, would place aside their Rubber Stamps and "look the other way" roles of these Bu$hCo years. I truly enjoy comparing statements of the GOP leadership from back in the day with Bill Clinton with their pitiful excuses for Bu$hCo's radical administration yet I digress. I'll just briefly venture off into shooting the messengers over climate change, rewarding Big Pharma and Big Oil, cutting taxes on the Big Mules, ruining the treasury, making radical court appointments, favoring loyalty over competency, pandering to the Dobsonites, spying on Americans while violating FISA, ...

The WaPo article also quoted Danielle Pletka in her role at AEI but left out her/their role with PNAC and other neo-conservative disasters. The piece also did not reference her support for Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress. As for her quote, I'm figuring the few enduring souls remaining her "friend", from the tons of folks linked to AEI that remain in the Bu$hCo administration plus others working their conservative magic elsewhere inside the beltway, do think they way she does. They've got to be "true believers" indeed to not see the folly that neo-conservative ideology represents.

Indeed the neo-cons are restless. They have no shame. Every mistake is the fault of another. You'd think the game would be up for most of their foolishness yet the simplicity of their reliance on military power and other forms of American arrogance remain attractive to at least part of our population. This may be especially so with the troubles of the near Middle East. That chaos ought to be Exhibit A to support the indictment of the neo-con fantasy that Iraq clearly was yet these folks will try to flip the weakness into a positive.

Let's not allow them to escape their past errors yielding consequences that we will unfortunately have to deal with long after Bu$hCo has gone back to the ranch. Right now the goal is to start cleaning up this mess in 2006 and then moving toward electing a grown up in 2008. Peace ... or War!