Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Get the jokes? If not, you might be a ReThuglican!

Tip of the tam to Bill Diamond at Pearl Swine for the link to (just clicking image will not work) Walt Handelsman's NSA Wiretapping.

This "Mean Girls" post by the divine Digby is wonderful and ties in with the above. Here are some portion of what Digby serves up in tackling the right wing "humor" and "whining" and ...

... The right specializes in schoolyard taunts and sleazy gossip because they must attract the stupid vote in order to get elected and that's the only humor stupid voters understand. But it's also because it's what the media prefers --- they too have to attract the masses. We have tried their comic book insult method on occasion, but it has always seemed to backfire. The Republicans, having shrewdly capitalized inherent rightwing insecurity, are remarkably successful at parrying. ...

We could play their game too, but it's very difficult for liberals over the age of twenty to get in touch with their inner seventh grade asshole. I'm not sure why, but we seem to prefer a more subtle form of humor. I suspect it could be because of this ...

Read Digby's post! Again, "Not all Republicans are stupid people but most stupid people are Republicans." seems accurate. Peace ... or War!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Jesus General on Memorial Day

Late post yet JC Christian's Inner Frenchmen speaks truth to power. Warning ... tough images and writing. Peace ... or War!

Walt Whitman's "My Soldiers, My Veterans"

John Nichols via his Online Beat at The Nation sends us to a poem of The American Civil War. His commentary includes

... on Memorial Day, it is well to pause from the debate to remember those whose lives have been lost, not merely to the fool's mission of the contemporary moment but to all those battles – noble and ignoble – that have claimed the sons and daughters of this and every land.

After the bloodiest and most divisive of America's wars, the poet Walt Whitman offered a dirge for two soldiers of the opposing armies -- Civil War veterans, buried side by side. His poem is an apt reminder that, when the fighting is done, those who warred against one another often find themselves in the same place. It is appropriate that we should garland each grave, understanding on this day above all others that wars are conceived by presidents and prime ministers, not soldiers.

I've been watching several old Band of Brothers episodes on The History Channel and indeed I'll think long and hard on sacrifices on this Memorial Day. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

On the Eve of Memorial Day Let Us Ponder The Paradox of ReThuglican ChickenHawks

Total tip of the tam to DarkSyde at Daily Kos for his "Requiem for a Nightmare" where he begins
Tomorrow is the day we honor the fallen American heroes of so many wars. To avoid staining our national day of mourning, I felt it more appropriate to dedicate this post at this time to a very different kind of American. They may be clueless neocons, erroneous White House talking heads, or smear artists and their self-appointed town criers. But what they all have in common is that each one bravely ducked when called and later took part directly or indirectly in assaulting the reputation of those who stood in harm's way. They are known, affectionately, as Chicken-hawks: ...

I appreciate this portion especially! If these pandering pols and pundits were confronted with these ideas they'd only be able to reply with excuses and/or attacks.

The 101st Fighting Chicken-shit Keyboardists and assorted neocon shills may be conspicuously absent when their country is in need, but they're always at the ready to order other people's sons and daughters into the meat grinder. They sure seem to pop up on the Quad when the battle is over and the band is a'playin. And they're always on duty, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to smear any survivors with vicious accusations of cowardice or worse when Neoconia calls. ....

In another time and place, some of today's not-so-brave might have elbowed little old ladies and children out of the way to secure a berth on the last lifeboat on the Titanic, or maybe they''d have ratted out resistance fighters to the Gestapo in WW2 France. But today is the eve of Memorial Day and this is America, 2006. Ergo, present day Chicken-hawks will pay their respects by milking the courage of war heroes. They will then churn it into buttery lubrication to help coat their lies and incompetence, so as to slip more easily down the collective gullet and penetrate deep into our national psyche.

Continuing this theme, I'm still in awe of how Air America's Randi Rhodes bitchslapped Gentle Ben Ferguson on Larry King just recently. Bunch of spoiled brats and opportunists that grow up to be crooks and cowards! Peace ... or War!

Dick's Tools - David Addington and Dubyah

Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe gives us "Cheney aide is screening legislation : Adviser seeks to protect Bush power" that continues a theme he's been all over. Signing statments are simply radical except in rare cases but Bu$hCo has used 750+ of them. Mr. Savage's writing is a must read to understand what we are facing with the modern ReThuglicans and Bu$hCo. This is Civics 101 however I continue to be amazed that even Joe and Jill Sixpack can't get this one. I first posted off Charlie Savage's great work back in March with "So Laws Still Don't Apply to King George?" and then again on May 1st at "Boston Globe - Bu$hCo Routinely Ignores the Law!". Total tip of the tam Charlie! Peace ... or War!

What Liberal Media?

I'll begin with Eric Alterman's fine What Liberal Media yet the real reason for posting is "The GOP's latest direct mailing" by skralyx on Kos. This guy landed on a Bu$hCo mailing list and got a fundraiser invite with language that is so revealing. Here is just a portion with my emphasis supplied:

On June 19th, it begins.

We're going to fight back against the far-left "527" committees that have been viciously attacking our values.

We'll counteract the "mainstream" media that have been force-feeding the American public with liberal propaganda.

We will expose the Democratic Party as nothing more than an angry group of left-wing demagogues with no ideas, no vision, and no principles.

And we are going to set the table for historic victories in the upcoming midterm elections. ...

We've been in Congress for a while now - and we thought we'd seen it all - but we've never had to deal with a Democratic Party that is this strident and committed to obstruction on a daily basis.

They really have no agenda whatsoever other than saying they are against everything you and I are trying to accomplish.

Unfortunately, they do have one thing: cash. And lots of it.

Those far-left "527" groups that came out of nowhere in 2004 are back, raising money at an incredible rate from the usual suspects - big labor bosses, Hollywood elitists, and billionaire foreign investor George Soros.

We're doing everything we can to fight back, but it won't be easy. A recent poll shows that Americans would prefer Democratic control of Congress by a margin of 49% to 36%.

While we've been working to confirm conservative judges, make President Bush's tax cuts permanent and give our military and intelligence agencies everything they need to win the War on Terror ...

...the Democrats and their allies have been busy raising money and attacking our leaders to bring down our approval ratings.

That's why we have an enormous challenge ahead of us. ...

That's why we need to fight back right now for our values.

There is no way we're going to allow this group of "do-nothing Democrats" and their allies in the liberal media to keep us on our heels all the way through the fall election.

NOW is the time for us to remind the American people why they've entrusted us with a majority in Congress.

NOW is the time to stick to our guns and stand up for our principles - cutting taxes, reducing the size and bureaucracy of the federal government, protecting private property, defending traditional values, and fighting the War on Terror with every tool in our arsenal.

And now is the time to support our President. ...

We all want to see you on June 19th, but we understand that not everyone can make this type of financial commitment.

So if for any reason you cannot make it to Washington for The 2006 President's Dinner, we want you with us in spirit as we honor your commitment to our Republican ideals.

In addition to being honored during our President's Dinner on June 19th, National Sponsors who send a contribution of $150 or more will receive a personal note from the President along with a limited-edition, matted photograph.

And Honorary Co-Chairmen will be sent the note and photograph along with a special collector's, limited-edition Presidential Plate for a contribution of at least $500.

So please take a moment right now to return your R.S.V.P. Reply Card, letting us know that you will attend The President's Dinner.

Or if you cannot be with us on June 19th, we hope we can count on you to serve as a National Sponsor or as an Honorary Co-Chairman.

There's an old saying that goes, "You can judge a man by the company he keeps."

That's why, when we see you take your place of honor on Monday, June 19th, we'll feel much better about the state of our Republican Party and where we are headed as a nation.

Great Americans like you are the backbone of our Party, and we need to come together for one night to kick off this crucial midterm election campaign...

Wow! Rove managed to hit nearly every fear and fantasty of the right in this one. Returning to Professor Alterman, their is no doubt that the MSM is now at a minimum letting the GOP slide with much BS in an effort to provide "balance". Some have caved for access to this cabal and cocktail wieners. Yet I'd argue that many are on board. Who owns? "Freedom of the press only applied to those that own a press." is the old saw. Go to Atrois/Duncan Black for more on the media from just the last few days blog surfing. Don't get me started on Clear Channel and country music propaganda and American Idol distracting and dumbing down regular Americans and ... Or the Swift Boat Liars when Bu$hCo whines about 527s or the massive infrastructure of the right churning out spin or worse yet what they try to pass off as policy. There's Big Fat Idiot and Surly Sean and ... to boot.

They are poor mouthing? WTF! Big labor? Are they in a time warp? Hollywood elites? Can they not address the many intellectuals that know they are full of shit? Force feeding? Anybody with even halfway awareness of history/law/civics that is paying attention doesn't need to be force fed anything. Again, I'd submit that the media is these outlaws only hope because if you could ever get Joe and Jill Sixpack away from the boob tube they'd surely figure this fiasco out.

Obstruction I wish! Yet what party controls all three branches? Plus the Clenis was Republican Lite, although I'll give him that he was hemmed up for much of his last few years with the Congress and especially the aged Whitewater fantasy that eventually led to the lie on a blowjob. Strident? Only a few brave souls like Feingold and Conyers are calling these crooks out for their disasters in Iraq, lawbreaking, radicalism, cronyism, budget busting, lies, ... I'm surely hoping the leadership of this party has some wisdom in not fighting tooth and nail yet so far they've not shown much to this angry left blogger. Then again with no real power what can they do? And maybe if and when the GOP radicals are gone some civility will have been earned.

Company you keep? So will Black Jack Abramoff or Kenny Boy Lay (BushCo's #1 lifetime contibutor - Heard that from the leftist media?) or .... be attending?

Values? Money and power is all this bunch values! Yet they will stir up the base with fear and faith. It is an old method yet damned effective for these Chickenhawks and Bible Thumpers.

This damned fundraiser effort got my Scots up first thing this morning. Up with the sun and enjoying my coffee. Was headed to the garden before it got blazing hot but now I need the work to simply cool down. I'm aware that panic and participation is a fundraising staple yet they really have no shame do they? Worst administration ever! Conservatism gone wild these last twenty five years! Bastards! Peace ... or War!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Captain Plaid will soon return to the fray!

I regret going silent these last few days. Grumpy gut and closing down the classroom and summoned to the hayfields and … I’ll be back in the saddle surely this evening. Hope to even get something up on Marque Stuart given my labors about the property. Give me some comments, suggestions, challenges, … on any of my five blogs listed below. Peace … or War!
Captain Plaid - Progressive Scot
Captain Bama - Southern Scot
Tin Shop Tartan - Localism
Captain Jimi - Culture Warrior
Marque Stuart - Home & Garden

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Saturday Night Live's TV Funhouse on Bu$hCo

Cute work here. I love how Karl Rove waddles in to do another take whenever somebody (or something!) spews fluids (or in Larry King's case a lung or heart or ... when listening to Dead Eye Dick) in response to Dubyah's disengenous assertions. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Heck of a Job Bu$hCo - Law and Disorder in Iraq

Michael Moss and David Rhode of the New York Times gives us "Misjudgments Marred U.S. Plans for Iraqi Police" and it ought to be read from top to bottom. This might seem minor given all the deceptions that got us into this disaster begun as a Neo-Con wet dream yet damned if the idea of doing things with competence, even if poorly decided, doesn't hold water. Another outrage is how Rove and the balance of Bu$hCo went out of there way to hide the truth from the American voter in the run up to the fall of 2004, not that this effort took much with a generally compliant mainstream media and an ignorant and distracted public. Peace ... or War!

Hall of Shame at Neo-Cons PNAC

The Project for the New American Century has much of the responsibility for the disaster that has been the Bu$hCo cabal. Their 1997 "Statement of Principles" is signed by such "leaders" and "thinkers" as:
Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Eliot A. Cohen, Midge Decter, Paula Dobriansky, Steve Forbes, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney, Fred C. Ikle, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, I. Lewis Libby, Norman Podhoretz, Dan Quayle, Peter W. Rodman, Stephen P. Rosen, Henry S. Rowen, Donald Rumsfeld, Vin Weber, George Weigel, and Paul Wolfowitz

They've certainly created a dreadful start to this century. Peace ... or War!

Friday, May 19, 2006

NSA & Telco Deniabilty/Scapegoating for Hire

Paul Kiel and Justin Rood of TPM Muckraker delivers "Did Telcos Hire "Scapegoat" To Give NSA Phone Records?" which is a must read on the NSA phone call database concern. Citing a Business Week online work entitled "The Snooping Goes Beyond Phone Calls - How the government sidesteps the Privacy Act by purchasing commercial data" Muckraker is honed in on NeuStar with even a document collection provide of a recent PowerPoint they've used in trolling for business. Reading and writing on this post I am reminded how wonderfully powerful the internet may prove to be in a democracy. Yet, given the fact that communication in this medium is so traceable, the power might indeed be a threat that will be closely watched and controlled by the "powers that be" which might not want a better informed citizenry. Peace ... or War!

FISA - Passed 95 to 1 and lasted 30 years

Gleen Greenwald continues his fine work on the NSA/FISA issues with "Gen. Hayden admits the Administration knew it was violating FISA". The whole post, as is usual for Glenn's writing, is worth visiting. I also suggest his post on how Arlen Specter once again caved on providing any meaningful oversight to to the Bu$hCo cabal. If Bu$hCo is so very certain what they do is legal why do they fear a court examining their actions? I rest my case. Peace ... or War!

Silly Environmentalists, CO2 is from Kids!

Judd at Think Progress gives us "New Ads Funded by Big Oil Portray Global Warming Science as Smear Campaign Against Carbon Dioxide" where the Competitive Enterprise Institute (big oil fronted pseudo "think tank" in the fine tradition of the ReThuglican Party) is rolling out ads to counter Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Peace ... or War!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"None So Bad" by "None So Blind" Author

Andrew Bard Schmookler, posting at Common Dreams, serves up "The Worst President in History? Why the Question Mark?" that builds off the fine work of Princeton historian Sean Wilentz recently published in Rolling Stone as “The Worst President in History?. Dr. Schmookler has recently rolled out his own effort "See Not Evil - The Blinding of America" that is very promising. Here is a short version of his reasons for his site:

Indeed, the purpose of NoneSoBlind is to provide a coherent picture of the perilous state of American civilization, a vision that shows how these two moral crises — the rise of fascistic forces in the political realm and the degradation of values in the cultural realm–are two sides of the same coin.

Polarized societies must still be understood as wholes, albeit as wholes that are failing to put the pieces together.

Accordingly, as the ideas developed here show, America’s increasing polarization represents a growing failure of both sides of America’s divide to meet the fundamental moral challenge of civilization: to harmonize the needs of human nature with the demands of good order. As a result of this failure, the two halves of America have each developed different –but deeply complementary– moral blind spots. (See Dimension 3 in Book-cubed.)

The moral blindness of the conservatives is that they’ve become unable to tell the difference between the good and the evil. They have been seduced by a leadership that dresses itself in the mere trappings of righteous order (like the flag and the faith).

Many American liberals, on the other hand, have become blind to how vital and how real that difference is. They have failed to recognize the evils that come from not distinguishing between right desire and wrong desire.

Lacking clear moral vision, the conservative half of America has thus unwittingly given their power to evil forces, while the liberal half –imagining it a virtue to tolerate the intolerable and to judge nothing but “judgmentalism”—has helped grease America’s slide into moral decadence. (See Dimension 1 in Book-cubed.)

The conservative half of America gives too much deference to the ruling element in the order/nature dichotomy, while the liberal half gives correspondingly too little.
NoneSoBlind thus show how these two complementary forms of moral blindness have led America downward into a crisis as serious, as any in the nation’s history, one in which the very soul of America is at stake.

The vision developed here not only provides an analysis of the fundamental problem but it offers a solution to it as well.

NoneSoBlind presents blueprint for a “prophetic social movement,” a way of speaking moral truth about these now-ascendant amoral forces that can awaken our conservative countrymen from the trance state into which they have been seduced.

At the same time, this “prophetic” approach will require America’s liberals to re-establish a much deeper connection with the moral and spiritual core of our human reality. For from liberalism’s present moral superficiality and flaccidity, it will not be possible to speak from that place of conviction from which comes that power of prophetic speech.

At its root, then, our present national crisis is a symptom of moral and spiritual deterioration of the American cultural system as a whole. To meet the challenge of this crisis successfully, both sides of our polarized society will have to become –morally and spiritually—more whole. (See Dimension 4 in Book-cubed.)

While I might take exception to the idea that liberals have blame in the long version of his manifesto, I'll share his idea nevertheless.
... unwilling to take seriously the distinction between right desire and wrong desire, liberalism has been complicit in the emergence of a trash culture that undermines standards and ideals and that cultivates what is base and degrading. This moral decadence, in turn, has created among many Americans a kind of moral anxiety that has historically provided fascistic forces an opening to exploit in their quest for power.
I'd like to point out that corporate America is behind much of the "trash culture". Going fully tin foil hat perhaps I do often wonder if "bread and games" might apply. Dumb the population down, distract them, and the deliver enough fear and blame game to stay in power.

I'll take time to study what Dr. Schmookler is suggesting yet wanted to pass his work on to my rare reader(s). Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bu$hCo BS on "Spreading Democracy & Freedom"

I think Dubyah used "democracy" and "freedom" a gazillion times in speeches since he realized his "Mission Accomplished" codpiece moment might have been a touch premature. A double dose from one reporter that shows W is "all hat and no cattle" on these issues. The WaPo's Daniel Williams "Lack of Surprise Greets Word of U.S.-Libya Ties: Democracy No Longer Seen as Top Priority" and "Mubarak's Son Met With Cheney, Others: Secret Visit Came After Cairo Unrest" ought to show this administration shifted gears once they realized the WMD and mushroom cloud and all the other crap shoveled by this cabal would not fly. "Real politic" might not be a bad approach at times yet I go back to Carter's "human rights" doctrine on alliances. Where W goes back to remains a bit of a mystery yet I hardly think it based on principles of any deep thought or doctrine. Peace ... or War!

Is Bu$h Just Stupid and Arrogant or He Loco?

Molly Ivins via TruthDig "Could Lunacy Explain Bush's Policies?" where she is wondering out loud that Bu$h and much of his cabal might just be around the bend. If Progressive Lefty types could get on the talking head shows or be allowed time to tackle these "policies" then even Red State America could perhaps understand. Then again, the average American might be too stupid to understand? Or maybe they are being sent down the path by people practicing "Willful ignorance" as Matthew Yglesias suggests at TPMCafe? Here is a portion of Matthew's writing on the issue:
I think this counts as a kind of deliberate ignorance that exists at the top levels of the conservative movement. There's a desire to avoid looking too closely at some of these tax policy questions. And that trickles down. People who are characterologically inclined to remain ignorant prosper. Charlatans prosper. People who are neither charlatans nor disinclined to look at the question wind up not becoming conservative pundits.
To know the "why" is important yet Progressive messages have to be told before they can be heard. Right now I feel like the good guys and gals are hardly getting a shot in telling. Peace ... or War!

Glenn Greenwald defines "specter" - Arlened Again!

Spec- ter ... noun
1. A ghostly apparition; a phantom.
2. A haunting or disturbing image or prospect

Glenn Greenwald reports via his Unclaimed Territory that Arlen Specter has caved in a post entitled "GOP Senators block judicial review of NSA program". The Judiciary Chairman has once again talked of oversight and then allowed Bu$hCo to slide. Pennsylvania's Senior Senator is all grumble and stumble. A phantom indeed. Here is a good portion of Glenn's post:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and conservative members of his panel have reached agreement on legislation that may determine the legality of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance program, GOP sources say.Specter has mollified conservative opposition to his bill by agreeing to drop the requirement that the Bush administration seek a legal judgment on the program from a special court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978.

Instead, Specter agreed to allow the administration to retain an important legal defense by allowing the court, which holds its hearings in secret, to review the program only by hearing a challenge from a plaintiff with legal standing, said a person familiar with the text of language agreed to by Specter and committee conservatives.

Conservative Republicans who pushed for the change say that it will help quell concerns about the measure’s constitutionality and allow the White House to retain a basic legal defense.

An expert in constitutional law and national security, however, said that the change would allow the administration to throw up huge obstacles to anyone seeking to challenge the program’s legality.

Could anything be more obvious at this point than the fact that the Bush administration deeply fears having the legality of its eavesdropping activities adjudicated by a federal court? They have engaged in one maneuver after the next to prevent that adjudication.

One would think that if they really believed that they had the clear-cut legal justification for warrantless eavesdropping which they claim to have, they would be eager to have a court rule on this issue so that this unpleasant controversy -- with all of these mean-spirited and utterly baseless allegations of lawbreaking -- can finally be put to rest. And yet, time and again, they do precisely the opposite: they desperately invoke every available measure to prevent any judicial ruling as to the legality of their behavior.

Without the provision which was originally "demanded" by Sen. Specter, it is basically impossible for any plaintiff to ever challenge the legality of the NSA program. In very general terms, in order to have standing to bring such a suit, a plaintiff would have to prove that they have been specifically injured by the warrantless eavesdropping beyond the injuries of an average citizen. But the program is secret and there have been no investigations into it. As a result, nobody knows whose calls have been intercepted without warrants.

Therefore, any would-be plaintiff would be immediately trapped in the type of preposterous, bureaucratic Catch-22 in which American law specializes and which the Bush administration is eager to exploit -- namely, since nobody knows whose conversations have been eavesdropped on, nobody could ever make the showing necessary to maintain such a lawsuit, and since the administration claims that all such information is highly classified, the evidence necessary to make that showing can never be obtained. Thus, in the absence of the provision in Sen. Specter's bill, the administration would be able, in virtually all circumstances, to block a ruling on the legality of the NSA eavesdropping program:

[GWU Law Professor Mary] Cheh said plaintiffs would likely have to jump over very high hurdles to have their cases heard. The administration could, for example, invoke the “state-secrets privilege” and deny plaintiffs access to information, or it could try to deny plaintiffs’ legal standing. Cheh said it would be difficult for plaintiffs to demonstrate in court that they have been injured by the surveillance program because the program is secret.

There are other ways for the legality of this program to be challenged. For instance, a criminal defendant who can prove that evidence being used by the Government against him was derived from the illegal eavesdropping program can challenge the admissibility of that evidence, which, in turn, would require a court to rule on the legality of the eavesdropping program (because if the program is illegal, no evidence derived from it is admissible). But in such a case, the administration -- as they have done so many times before -- could simply drop the case or agree not to use the evidence in question, as a way of avoiding a ruling as the legality of the NSA program. Sen. Specter's bill was the sole mechanism to ensure that a federal court would rule on the legality of the administration's eavesdropping conduct -- which is precisely why its loyal soldiers on the Judiciary Committee refused to agree to any bill that contained that provision.

It is always worth noting that nothing in any of these bills immunizes the administration from being held accountable for its previous and ongoing violations of FISA. These bills simply render legal on a going forward basis warrantless eavesdropping. They do not make these programs retroactively legal.

I was optimistic that enough was enough yet I forgot this is The Rubber Stamp Congress. Taylor Marsh posting at FireDogLake, plus other solid lefty bloggers, looked into Arlen's soul.

I wonder if somebody in The White House has some interesting "data" on some of the Congressional leadership in how they often seem to ignore the many illegal and poorly conceived actions of the Bu$h and his cabal.

Alternatively or additionally, do these GOP leaders and soldiers dare return to minority status if and when the truth about Bu$hCo comes out. Are they putting their desire to be players ahead of their duties to the nation? Given my fears about what this cabal has been up to it might be that the ReThuglicans fear a "forty years in the wilderness" experience if Bu$hCo could ever be even partially forced to explain their actions.

I want my country back! Peace ... or War!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Robert Reich reveals "Irresponsible and Obscene"

Robert B. Reich (Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley who formerly served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton.) uses Common Dreams to post "The $70 Billion Tax Cut: Irresponsible and Obscene" revealing his usual clear knowledge and writing on how Bu$hCo and the Rubber Stamp Congress works. Here are the gems

The tax cut would be politically irresponsible, but not obscene, if it were going to middle-income workers now facing sky-high fuel prices and soaring health-insurance costs, and variable-rate mortgage payments heading through the roof.

But this tax cut is not going to the middle class. Like the Bush Administration’s previous tax cuts, most of this one is going to people who are already very comfortable. Hence, it’s both irresponsible and obscene.

The non-partisan Urban Institute - Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center examined its provisions, including a two-year extension of capital gains and dividend tax cuts, and a one-year extension of relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax. It turns out a whopping 87 percent of the benefits of this tax cut will go to the 14 percent of American households earning above $100,000 a year. Twenty-two percent of the benefits will go to the richest two-tenths of one percent of American households earning more than a million dollars a year.

I miss this guy! It seems years ago that we had competent and smart folks in charge. Peace ... or War!

Surely Slippery Slope for Bu$hCo on NSA Data

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito of ABC's The Blotter reports "Federal Source to ABC News: We Know Who You're Calling" and I'm thinking this might be the tip of the iceberg. Here is the guts of the article,

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources. .... Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.

Kim Zetter via Salon suggests "The NSA is on the line -- all of them : An intelligence expert predicts we'll soon learn that cellphone and Internet companies also cooperated with the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on us." 1976 issue indeed as far as "land lines" and "telegrams" so indeed we'd have to think there is much more to the story.

Ought to be an interesting period for historians of the future. I can only hope that true patriots and leadership will be the heroes and not the villians. Those in power will write the history. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Could Al Gore Help US Recover from Bu$hCo?

Tip of the Tam to Jesus General for reminding me about Draft Gore 2008. The American Prospect had a recent article that I think I'd posted on yet I'll drop another link just in case. Good language from The General (he's a zen master of satirical snark) and The Prospect as well. Also, be sure to look at AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH that Al Gore has helped bring to the big screen, at least in more progressive venues. Right now Gore/Feingold is my dream ticket! With Rove and the ReThuglicans heading hard right in an effort to rally the base and scare the hell out of middle America a backlash might allow Lefty Progressives their best chance in many years. And I truly believe that we've got to move our nation off this path. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

WaPo Scolds Bu$hCo for Tax Policy Fantasy

Without even considering the radically unfair and perfectly insane tax legislation recently passed by the Rubber Stamp Congress, the WaPo wades into Bu$hCo "reality" with "Down Is Up : The White House taxes reality." Quouting Edward P. Lazear, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Katherine Baicker, a fellow council member, who wrote, in a May 8 Wall Street Journal op-ed column, the following:
"The president's tax cuts have made the tax code more progressive, which also narrows the difference in take-home earnings."
The WaPo is kind to simply label that as a "jaw dropper" yet they are known for the aversion to foul language, expecially from critics on the angry left. The do write,

Calculations by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center clearly show that the Bush tax cuts have expanded inequality, not narrowed it. People in the bottom fifth of the income spectrum have enjoyed a 0.4 percent increase in their after-tax income thanks to the tax cuts, but people in the top fifth have enjoyed a 3.8 percent increase. For the richest households, the gains have been still larger: The top 1 percent got a 5 percent raise courtesy of the tax cuts, and the top 0.1 percent got 5.9 percent. There's no ambiguity about it: The tax cuts widened the gap in take-home earnings.

The Lazear-Baicker article did acknowledge that high school dropouts have made no gains since 1980: Their wages fell by 3 percent. It might also have mentioned that this wasn't true only of high school dropouts: Wages for those in the bottom half of the income spectrum have fallen after adjustment for inflation. The failure of economic growth to generate gains for half of society is a serious worry. The administration needs to come at it with more serious analysis.

C Plus Augustus isn't interested in serious analysis. Nor is his cabal. They likely passed this most recent legislation out of fear that they'll lose the House and/or Senate this fall so it was "now or never". Wise policy be damned! Also, they hope Americans remain stupid and lazy enough to not be well informed about what these complicated policies involve. If they can convince the public of their old lie about being the party of low taxes that might get them a few votes. Of course there's always Diebold if they get in real jam. Peace ... or War!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Courage, strength, sanity, humor, ... Lefty Tools!

Professor Eric Alterman of Altercation fame, writing in The Nation here, serves up "Three Liberal Lives" examining the lives of recently passed legends of the left. "John Kenneth Galbraith died on April 29 at age 97, ... just days after those of two other giants of American liberalism: Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg at age 84 and the Rev. William Sloane Coffin at 81." I especially appreciated how he wound up this effort.

Where does the courage come from to insist that you are right when all others around you are not merely wrong but wrong in ways that are morally and intellectually indefensible? And how does one retain not only one's sanity but also good humor when doing so?

In his own way, each man spoke to this question, though the answers are necessarily unsatisfying. Asked by a church group why he found himself getting arrested so frequently, Coffin replied, "I can only reassure you that I don't like to go around picking fights. Some fights pick you."

To a question about his troublemaking, Hertzberg once explained, "A rabbi should be where the real issues of society are, not where safe platitudes are to be preached.... You save your soul by saving someone else's body."

And in a moving tribute to his friend and co-conspirator, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. recalled Galbraith observing, "The emancipation of belief is the most formidable of the tasks of reform, the one on which all else depends."

We'll done for these three men plus a tip of the tam for Doc Alterman. Peace ... or War!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

NSA Data Mining - USA Today Bombshell Dropped

Leslie Cauley of USA Today dropped the bomb early this AM and I've been scrambling all day to get get caught up, with some time still needed. Here's one gem that I think really resonates,
The NSA told Qwest that other government agencies, including the FBI, CIA and DEA, also might have access to the database, the sources said. As a matter of practice, the NSA regularly shares its information — known as "product" in intelligence circles — with other intelligence groups.
In the meantime, head over to Glenn Greenwald where he writes,

The ability of the Government to use pen registers is governed by various liberalizing changes made to Section 402 of FISA, by Section 214 of the 2oo1 Patriot Act. There is no dispute that the Government is prohibited from using pen registers without FISA court approval -- both under the old FISA and the more liberalized FISA as amended by the Patriot Act. As Mary DeRosa, senior fellow in the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, explained as part of a 2001 debate over various provisions of the Patriot Act:

Section 214 [of the 2001 Patriot Act] makes similar changes to procedures for obtaining pen register or trap and trace orders under FISA. "Pen registers" and "trap and trace" devices record information about the recipient and source,respectively, of a communication. They do not intercept the contents of communications.

Previously, FISA section 402 required the government to certify to the FISC that there was reason to believe a line monitored by one of these devices would be used by an individual or a foreign power engaged in international terrorism or spying that violates U.S. criminal laws.

Everyone seems to agree that even with the changes effectuated to FISA by the Patriot Act, the Government is still required to obtain approval from the FISA court in order to use pen registers; the only change mades by the Patriot Act was to lower the showing the Government was required to make to the FISA court in order to obtain permission to use a pen register. This appears to be the view even of executive power fanatic, ex-prosecutor Andrew McCarthy:

Prior FISA law required government to certify that the monitored communications would likely be those either of an international terrorist or spy involved in a violation of U.S. criminal law, or of an agent of a foreign power involved in terrorism or espionage.

Consequently, Section 214’s modification of prior law is both modest and eminently reasonable. Agents are still required to obtain a court order before installing a pen register. In addition, they are still required to make a solemn representation to the court; now, however, that is limited to certifying that the information sought would be relevant to an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.

It is true that, strictly speaking, at least based on what we know, the Government has not used pen registers here. They didn't need to. Instead of collecting this information telephone-by-telephone, they just skipped the whole pen register annoyance and had the telecommunications companies give them all of that information for every phone. Still, it is hard to imagine (at least for people acting in good faith) how it could be illegal for the Government to use a pen register device without a court order for a single phone (it appears clear that that is illegal), but it is perfectly legal for the Government to obtain pen register information for everyone's phone in the country without bothering to obtain a court order of any kind.

Independently, the type of information obtained here by the Government seems clearly to fall within FISA's definition of "electronic surveillance." Section 1801(f)(1) of FISA defines "electronic surveillance" to include "the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any wire or radio communication sent by or intended to be received by a particular, known United States person who is in the United States. . . " In turn, Section 1801(n) defines the term "contents" as follows:

"Contents," when used with respect to a communication, includes any information concerning the identity of the parties to such communication or the existence, substance, purport, or meaning of that communication

There is, at the very least, a strong argument to make that the type of information obtained by the administration here falls squarely within the scope of FISA and thus requires warrants before it can be obtained. This would violate FISA for the same reason the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program does -- namely, it constitutes electronic surveillance on Americans and therefore is criminal unless undertaken with judicial approval.

Finally, there are several other seemingly significant legal issues governing this program, all of which are possible grounds for concluding that the President -- yet again -- violated the law when ordering surveillance on Americans, including various provisions of FISA governing the production of business documents by these companies to the Government.

Ultimately, however, the always-overarching issue is that it doesn't really much matter how these fascinating and academic statutory debates are resolved because the administration has claimed repeatedly that it has the right to violate statutes like this if its doing so is in pursuit of the national defense. As Professor Kerr put it, with great understatement:

Of course, all of the statutory questions are subject to the possible argument that Article II trumps those statutes. As I have mentioned before, I don't see the support for the strong Article II argument in existing caselaw, but there is a good chance that the Administration's legal argument in support of the new law will rely on it.

The Leader ordered this collection of sweeping data on the communications activities of Americans because The Threat of Terrorism required it. Therefore, even if multiple statutes make doing that a criminal offense, The President has the power to do it anyway. That, of course, is the Administration's view of the world. And that is the epic constitutional crisis we have in our country.

Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to point out this passage written by Andrew McCarthy from the above-linked debate on The Patriot Act and FISA, something McCarthy wrote before he knew the President had ordered eavesdropping on Americans without court approval:

Why such extensive access with virtually no court supervision? Because the items at issue here are primarily activity records voluntarily left in the hands of third parties. As the Supreme Court has long held, such items simply do not involve legitimate expectations of privacy. See, e.g., Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735, 744 (1979).

This renders them categorically different from the private information at issue in the context of search warrants or eavesdropping, in which the court is properly imposed as a bulwark, requiring a demonstration of cause before government may pierce established constitutional safeguards. McCarthy wrote this before he knew that his Leader had ordered the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans without having courts "imposed as a bulwark." Before he knew the President had ordered this, McCarthy said he believed that it is necessary that the government not be permitted to eavesdrop on Americans without judicial approval because such oversight was necessary to protect "established constitutional safeguards." But once he found out that the President ordered eavesdropping without that judicial "bulwark," he changed his mind completely. What he previously said was necessary and proper -- judicial oversight for eavesdropping -- suddenly became totally superfluous and unnecessary, as he became one of the most vocal defenders of the administration's warrantless eavesdropping programs.

People who fundamentally change their views on issues this significant all in order to defend a Leader's conduct can be called many things. None of them is flattering.

UPDATE: Both Anonymous Liberal and Marty Lederman suggest that the telecommunications companies perhaps violated Section 222 of the Communications Act, which "requires telecommunications carriers to protect the confidentiality of customer proprietary information ("CPNI"), such as the telephone numbers called by customers and the length oftime of the calls. . . ." By e-mail, Georgia10 of Daily Kos argues that the companies seem clearly to have violated 18 U.S.C. section 2702, which also bans the disclosure of such information without a court order.

Oh my! Bu$hCo has apparently been caught in another lie and radical expansion of executive power. I again remind anyone that drops by that this administration has bent and twisted at a minimum and more likely broken the law. Either one requires oversight and 'splaining. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

William Rivers Pitt Bitch Slaps Richard Cohen

TruthOut gives us William Rivers Pitt's "An Open Letter to Richard Cohen". The WaPo's Richard Cohen of course recently dropped "A Digital Lynch Mob" recently that scolded the anger of the left appearing in his email after dissing on Stephen Colbert"s DC Press Dinner performance. HEre's my favorite portion of Mr. Pitt's work:

Why the anger? It can be summed up in one run-on sentence: We have lost two towers in New York, a part of the Pentagon, an important American city called New Orleans, our economic solvency, our global reputation, our moral authority, our children's future, we have lost tens of thousands of American soldiers to death and grievous injury, we must endure the Abramoffs and the Cunninghams and the Libbys and the whores and the bribes and the utter corruption, we must contemplate the staggering depth of the hole we have been hurled down into, and we expect little to no help from the mainstream DC press, whose lazy go-along-to-get-along cocktail-circuit mentality allowed so much of this to happen because they failed comprehensively to do their job.

George W. Bush and his pals used September 11th against the American people, used perhaps the most horrific day in our collective history, deliberately and with intent, to foster a war of choice that has killed untold tens of thousands of human beings and basically bankrupted our country. They lied about the threat posed by Iraq. They destroyed the career of a CIA agent who was tasked to keep an eye on Iran's nuclear ambitions, and did so to exact petty political revenge against a critic. They tortured people, and spied on American civilians.

I'm angry indeed and will do all I can to create change in this world. Peace ... or War!

William Rivers Pitt Bitch Slaps Richard Cohen

TruthOut gives us William Rivers Pitt's "An Open Letter to Richard Cohen". The WaPo's Richard Cohen of course recently dropped "A Digital Lynch Mob" that scolded the anger of the left appearing in his inbox after he was dissing on Stephen Colbert's DC Press Dinner performance. Here's my favorite portion of Mr. Pitt's work:

Why the anger? It can be summed up in one run-on sentence: We have lost two towers in New York, a part of the Pentagon, an important American city called New Orleans, our economic solvency, our global reputation, our moral authority, our children's future, we have lost tens of thousands of American soldiers to death and grievous injury, we must endure the Abramoffs and the Cunninghams and the Libbys and the whores and the bribes and the utter corruption, we must contemplate the staggering depth of the hole we have been hurled down into, and we expect little to no help from the mainstream DC press, whose lazy go-along-to-get-along cocktail-circuit mentality allowed so much of this to happen because they failed comprehensively to do their job.

George W. Bush and his pals used September 11th against the American people, used perhaps the most horrific day in our collective history, deliberately and with intent, to foster a war of choice that has killed untold tens of thousands of human beings and basically bankrupted our country. They lied about the threat posed by Iraq. They destroyed the career of a CIA agent who was tasked to keep an eye on Iran's nuclear ambitions, and did so to exact petty political revenge against a critic. They tortured people, and spied on American civilians.

I'm angry indeed and will do all I can to create change in this world. Peace ... or War!

UPDATE : Jane Hamsher of FDL also joins the fray with "Meet the New Boss". Meritocracy is blog powered perhaps. Punditsx like Cohen and Joe "The Wanker" Klein and ... are perhaps on their way out. Hens or roosters ... just write with soul and accuracy and The Left will win out in the marketplace of ideas.

Jeb at least has higher poll numbers than Cruella and The Chimp!

The AP is reporting via MSNB that Dubyah thinks Brother Jeb would make "a great President". The image above shows "The Decider" meeting with "The Counter", former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. With her scandals and poll numbers so low perhaps only giving Bu$hCo the White House in 2000 could have made this scene happen. Dubyah was tense and hardly thrilled but he could hardly run. Jeb's walking out the door in January and his hand-picked candidate Allan Bense just announced that he would not run against her for the Senate seat she's seeking. 43 figures, such as he ever does, that perhaps folks will forget by 2006. More likely Rove assured "no harm". "Tricky Political Situation" per the NY Times. We've learned that The Architect, perhaps even if indicted, is going hard right seeking the "values voters" and rallying the "true believers" so Representative Harris seeking the Senate on "faith" might work. Just seeing these three together makes me cringe! Peace ... or War!

Democrats - A Need for Southern Class & Sass?

Community activist Benjamin Ross writes in Dissent "Democrats and Middle America: What's the Real Problem?" where he does a good analysis of Thomas Frank's arguments in "What's the Matter with Kansas?" and other suggestions for creating electoral success for Democrats and other progressives such as "national security" and ... These are the portions that I thought merited attention ...

Frank stands with the pragmatists. He thinks wages matter; he rejects the elite that promises salvation. His politics is about results, in economics and in culture alike. The return on a retirement fund matters more than the faith of its sponsor. Voters who seek cultural traditionalism have his respect; it is politicians who promise it and do not deliver whom he despises. ...

In reality, the New Deal Democratic Party was a hybrid. It bore the fruits of a European-style class party, but its branches were grafted onto the trunk of a nineteenth-century American party organized around sectional and ethnic allegiances. Together with union members and distressed farmers, it covered a spectrum that included southern whites, from tenant farmers to plantation owners, and Irish Catholic businessmen alongside their working-class coreligionists. ...

Democrats must take up the challenge posed by Thomas Frank and reclaim the populist heritage of the New Deal in a new environment. To do this requires a willingness to attack economic unfairness, for which the plutocratic Bush administration has created all too many targets. It also demands a greater sensitivity to the cultural preferences of Middle America, both in style—it is no accident that for forty years every Democratic president has had a southern accent—and in substance on issues such as gun control. This is, as Frank asserts, the way to rebuild a liberal majority—and more than that, it is the democratic way.

I'd add that by acting strong you'll pick up some "national security" votes. With Democrats at times being non-confrontational that gives the ReThuglicans some ease in painting us as weak. Feingold and Murtha help us avoid or shed that label yet much of the party hasn't bought that approach. Getting your Scots up when appropriate is a good start.

I'll also add that common sense often can be reconciled with intellectual elitism. Kerry could not easily provide a reasonable explanation to what certainly was logical and correct as could Clinton. Edwards had the touch. Feingold might as would Warner perhaps. Gore might now be able to convey his message more clearly as well. Those four are my 2008 candidates at the present time. Dean is tolerable in his leadership position yet some of the other leaders are hardly where I'd like them to be. Most are adequate yet at times they hardly provide a consistent and common sense message that will resonate with middle America.

I think we, meaning Progressives and not always Democrats, can be smart and strong and fair and caring and ... The Right has held the argument so long in part because they've taken control of their message plus the GOP has learned modern politics better than have we. Of course the dumbing down of the electorate hardly helps our cause yet I might be getting a touch elitist. Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Bu$hCo Talking Points to Cabinet - Iraq once exported terrorists but now it is tomatoes!

Al Kamen of The WaPo gives us "The USDA on Iraq: Everything's Coming Up Rosy" where he reports some amazing efforts to spin Iraq and the GWOT. He writes, in part, the following:

Career appointees at the Department of Agriculture were stunned last week to receive e-mailed instructions that include Bush administration "talking points" -- saying things such as "President Bush has a clear strategy for victory in Iraq" -- in every speech they give for the department.

"The President has requested that all members of his cabinet and sub-cabinet incorporate message points on the Global War on Terror into speeches, including specific examples of what each agency is doing to aid the reconstruction of Iraq," the May 2 e-mail from USDA speechwriter Heather Vaughn began. ...

Another attachment "contains specific examples of GWOT messages within agriculture speeches. Please use these message points as often as possible and send Harry Phillips , USDA's director of speechwriting, a weekly email summarizing the event, date and location of each speech incorporating the attached language. Your responses will be included in a weekly account sent to the White House."

This scoreboard, of course, will ensure you give it your best shot.

I want my America back! Worst administration ever! Peace ... or War!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bu$hCo & Rubber Stamp Congress - Frack You

Rebecca Clarren of Salon gives us "EPA to citizens: Frack you - In the Rockies, a gas-extraction process called "fracking" may be releasing a carcinogenic stew of chemicals. Dozens of people say it has made them seriously ill, but the EPA refuses to investigate -- a failure one of its own engineers calls "irrational and corrupt." The writing includes, in part, with my emphasis supplied, the following,

... Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a half century-old process in which a gas company injects water, sand and the chemicals into the wells. Developed by Halliburton, the corporation formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, fracking loosens the rock and maximizes the flow of gas to the surface. ...

The most serious problems may stem from fracking. The chemicals pumped into the wells to aid the flow of gas to the surface include known carcinogens such as benzene, naphthalene, arsenic and lead. Several chemicals that may be injected can be lethal at levels as low as 0.1 part per million, according to the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory. Up to 40 percent of the fracturing fluids remain in the formation, according to studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the oil and gas industry; that means that fluids such as diesel and benzene may seep into the surrounding soil, groundwater, and water wells. The wastewater that the industry recaptures after the well hole is drilled often sits in open evaporation pits for upward of a year. ...

Congress' enactment of the energy-policy bill last summer gave [residents] even less protection. Following the EPA's recommendation, Congress amended the Safe Drinking Water Act so that gas companies can hydraulically fracture without any regulation or oversight by the EPA. That means that the toxic components of fracking fluids aren't reported to any regulatory authority or to the public. There is no monitoring of the process; the public's only assurance that companies aren't contaminating their water or air will come from industry.

Congress concluded from a 2004 EPA study that the industry exemption would pose no threat to underground sources of drinking water. Agency engineer Wilson described the report as "scientifically unsound," "contrary to the purposes of the law," and "unsupportable," in a letter written to a House member and the two senators from Colorado. The EPA determined fracking was safe after a survey of state oil and gas commissions, which all reported they had never found a definitive example of fracking's effect on human health -- even though none of the agencies had ever directly studied the connection.

"Absence of proof is not proof of absence -- that's not good science," says Geoffrey Thyne, a geology professor at the Colorado School of Mines, based in Golden. As Garfield County's geological expert, he speaks in steadied tones. "There's a real dearth of baseline information. I don't think any fracking expert would tell you that we are 100 percent sure where the fractures go. No one has studied how often there are lateral leaks into nearby aquifers. People out here kind of figure that the government is looking out for them, and if there was a real problem, some expert would come forward and say so. Unfortunately, because no one's studying this, it might be a while."

The outlook for any policy that would offer local citizens peace of mind is about as hopeful as a forecast of drought in the high country. While [local residents] plan to file lawsuits against the gas companies they blame for their illnesses, proving such cases is tremendously difficult without basic studies that prove a connection between gas emissions and disease, ...

(Quoting a local attorney) ... "Really, there's just not enough data, so it's been a real uphill battle to show a causal connection," he says. "If EPA had baseline data, that would make a huge difference. It's easier to recover damages for damaged property than to recover for sick people. It's a travesty."

Even so, he says, the courts are a citizen's best hope, since they're reasonably free of political influence. "The energy lobby is just so strong," he says. "They have so much money and they're horribly well organized."

Indeed. In the past three election cycles, gas companies gave federal Republican political candidates more than $60.3 million and federal Democratic candidates about $14.6 million. Approximately 50 of the Bush campaign's premier fundraisers are energy executives. Nearly 60 percent of the top contributors hold leases on Western public lands, according to a 2004 report by the Environmental Working Group. This political clout was obvious in last year's energy bill, says Astrella, as it didn't include any protections for landowners.

"To get a feel for the extent of the bowing and scraping the industry enjoys in the nation's Capitol, the oil and gas industry received massive public subsidies in the 2005 energy bill they didn't even ask for," says Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the only member of the conference committee who voted against the bill, in part because of the massive public subsidies for industry. "The president said last year that with the price of oil at $55 per barrel, the industry didn't need incentives to explore, but Congress shoveled new tax breaks and royalty relief to them anyway. "

Under this climate, staffers at the EPA report that they're unable to do their job of protecting human health and the environment. "People are being penalized just for asking questions," says an EPA staffer who spoke on a condition of anonymity. "I've heard a bunch of people say they're keeping their heads down and basically focusing on their kids or personal interests and trying to keep their jobs. There doesn't seem to be attention whatsoever to health and the environment. They're ignoring all of their own standards and regulations left and right. It's just about corporate power to get the gas out." ...

This article is simply one of several issues that ought to be covered in the MSM yet we simply aren't. I appreciated the idea that the courts might be the only place to get relief yet the right's shill machine will label that as "activist judges" and "greedy trial lawyers". Again, the reason I blog is to learn and share. A real mess of government, at the national and many states. Progressives must confront these injustices. Peace ... or War!

UPDATE ~ August 20, 2008 - We still have issues with fracking.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Two Days Off but back with "The Top Takes Off"

I've been MIA for a couple of days. Reading James Risen's State of War yet still not getting as far as I'd have thought. Great read so far, especially given Friday seeing Porter Goss being shown the door at CIA. Hectic day on Friday with a ball game that evening leaving me even more zonked than usual. Ten more days with the "scholars"! Yesterday I dug in the dirt so feeling better. Hang in there Marque as I've got material.

I'll start with The WaPo's "occasional series on inequality" where today they gives us, "The Top Takes Off - That rhetoric about giveaways for multimillionaires? It's accurate.". Some of the language is as follows:

THE QUEST for ways to reduce inequality begins with taxation. Unlike spending programs, redistribution through taxation is administratively simple; besides, putting money directly into people's pockets allows them to spend it on whatever they need most. But the tax tool has been wielded badly. Rather than using it to offset rising inequality, politicians have contrived to do the opposite. ...

.... the combined effect of the Bush tax cuts. It leaves no doubt that the tax system has become less progressive, even as the need for progressivity has grown. Over the past quarter of a century, the tide of the American economy has failed to lift the bottom half of society, damaging the faith on which capitalism depends. ...

The chart makes a second point. The loss of tax progressivity has not occurred in the middle of society; it's not as though someone a quarter of the way down the income scale is doing better at the expense of someone three-quarters of the way down. Rather, it's the top tenth who have benefited, and the top within the top has done fabulously well. ...

... the risks of raising taxes have to be weighed against the risks of not raising them. Inequality is not only bad in itself; it also will intensify pressure for bad policies that threaten growth more acutely than higher taxes would.

Bu$hCo and The Rubber Stamp Congress has taken care of their masters. They've done this by building off the Southern Strategy of divide and confound. Fake (but not really fight) the false "culture war" and dismiss intellectualism to keep the Red States voting against their economic interests. I've made a promise to confront and talk and write and blog and be somewhat of an activist. Peace ...or War!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Why Do I blog? Because of Ray McGovern!

Crooks and Liars gives us footage and a transcript of Rummy fending off 27 year CIA veteran Ray McGovern today in The ATL. Rummy was called out for lying and then he lied some more. Were these guys not ever told "If you'll just tell the truth then you don't have to remember the lies."

Although I'd run across Ray McGovern before, without remembering his name initially, a quick Google led me to some gems. Mr. McGovern via Sheer's TruthOut gave us "CIA vs. Cheney" in November of 2005 predicting a death cage match between the agency and Dead Eye Dick. Common Dreams has McGovern reminding us in 2005 that President Bu$h "fixed the facts". AlterNet gives us a long list of his work.

I'd have forgotten or missed this man's work absent today's effort to be informed and then convey my own understanding to the few rare souls that might drop by my blogs. I'm a better man for the effort so that is enough. Peace ... or War!

Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" arrives May 24

"An Inconvenient Truth" has been recognized at Sundance and beyond. I used the iFilm site to watch the trailer. I've signed the pledge to see the film. Please consider doing the same. Only a fool would ignore Al Gore on global warming. Regretably we've got a fair dose of those voting and being elected. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Profits, Jobs, and To Hell with the F'ing Owl

David Horton on HuffPo helps me think at least every so often. A little strong maybe and oversimplified perhaps yet a nice ride on Environmentalism. There's truth in the angle. Sustainable at a minimum yet if we err I say save the f'ing owls. Peace ... or War!
The Apollo Alliance for Good Jobs and Clean Energy is a 501(c)(3) effort of the Institute for America's Future and the Center on Wisconsin Strategy. They have a ten point plan that merits consideration. This approach "will create manufacturing jobs and new technologies, a stronger economy and a healthier, safer environment". Further language offers, "It means abandoning old approaches that traded-off the health of the economy for the health of the environment and sacrificed good jobs and technology innovation." Issue points are:

1. Promote Advanced Technology & Hybrid Cars
2. Invest In More Efficient Factories
3. Encourage High Performance Building
4. Increase Use of Energy Efficient Appliances
5. Modernize Electrical Infrastructure
6. Expand Renewable Energy Development
7. Improve Transportation Options
8. Reinvest In Smart Urban Growth
9. Plan For A Hydrogen Future
10. Preserve Regulatory Protections

Worth a visit and consideration. Real solutions that our "leaders" could truly build off for progressive solutions. Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Seasoned Teenage Angst and Authenticity?

Digby gives us "We Weren't Born Yesterday" that weaves stories such as the so called liberal media to even the Clinton's Press Secretary Mike McCurry turned lobbyist for big communication. It's a good ride that I'll ponder on for a few days. Peace ... or War!

World/U.S. Geography for American Dummies?

Do we still wonder how Dubyah managed to get elected? This is perhaps a start in explaining that idiots tend to elect idiots. The AP via MSNBC reports "Young Americans shaky on geographic smarts : Study finds that many fare poorly at finding Louisiana and Iraq on a map" looking at the lack of understanding displayed by our 18-24 year olds. National Geographic has the entire results in case you are interested. Scary stuff! Peace ... or War!

Monday, May 01, 2006

"Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable"

John Nichols of The Nation gives us "Galbraith for President" that supplements an earlier post I dropped on JKG. Interesting aside on Presidential possibilities not obtained due to the Constitutional birth/citizen requirement yet the real meat of the matter, with my emphasis supplied, comes with,

When he was one of President Kennedy's most trusted aides – and, ultimately, the ambassador to India – Galbraith was dispatched to Vietnam to survey the country to which Kennedy was being advised by others to dispatch military forces. Galbraith, who tried harder than just about anyone else to avert the turn toward quagmire, sent back a memo in which he reflected on the difficulty of distinguishing "friendly jungle" from "Vietcong jungle" and asked, "[Who] is the man in your administration who decides what countries are strategic? I would like to...ask him what is so important about this real estate in the Space Age."

As Galbraith biographer Richard Parker noted in his essential review of his subject's attempt to prevent Cold War hawks from convincing Kennedy and then Lyndon Johnson from expanding U.S. military involvement in southeast Asia, it was in the fall of 1961 that, "Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith, then Ambassador to India, got wind of their plan--and rushed to block their efforts. He was not an expert on Vietnam, but India chaired the International Control Commission, which had been set up following French withdrawal from Indochina to oversee a shaky peace accord meant to stabilize the region, and so from State Department cables he knew about the Taylor mission--and thus had a clear sense of what was at stake. For Galbraith, a trusted adviser with unique back-channel access to the President, a potential US war in Vietnam represented more than a disastrous misadventure in foreign policy--it risked derailing the New Frontier's domestic plans for Keynesian-led full employment, and for massive new spending on education, the environment and what would become the War on Poverty. Worse, he feared, it might ultimately tear not only the Democratic Party but the nation apart--and usher in a new conservative era in American politics."

(Parker's recent biography, John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics [Farrar, Straus & Giroux], is necessary reading, as are Galbraith's own books, particularly 1958's The Affluent Society, with its Keyneseian indictment of "private wealth and public squalor" in American life, and 1992's brilliant The Culture of Contentment, which offers what is still the best explanation of the contemporary crisis in its observation that, "The long years of high budget deficits when they were not needed made it seemingly impossible to initiate stimulating public expenditures when they were now needed. The celebrated tax reductions for the upper-income brackets and the accompanying economics in welfare distribution had substituted the discretionary spending of the rich for the wholely reliable spending of the poor.")

I've at least partially accepted that LBJ's "War on Poverty" was really a "false war" (with a German word that I can't recall or locate used by the scholar I read many moons ago) in that the spending was rather miniscule and certainly not given the time needed for real change. Even though Nixon had some smart guys at his side his basic approach was conservatism. Carter's brief time post Watergate barely counts plus his administration was hardly grand. Since LBJ we've had Republican and Republican Lite with Clinton veering rather right after 1994. Congress has blocked any Progressive approaches since certainly 1994. I'm an unreconstructed Keynesian for the most part and JKG was a hero of mine. Have yet to read enough of his work and life.

I do hope his ideas will get coverage despite the media whoring after TomKat and Brangelina and the "Missing White Woman/Child" of the week/day or the Duke Lacrosse Rape case or ... JKG believed in whit rather than war yet I don't think he suffered fools. I think he'd be fine with me to close with my standard ending. So here's "Peace ... or War!"

Boston Globe - Bu$hCo Routinely Ignores the Law!

Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe reports "Bush challenges hundreds of laws - President cites powers of his office". In part, he writes,

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution. ...

Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.

Former administration officials contend that just because Bush reserves the right to disobey a law does not mean he is not enforcing it: In many cases, he is simply asserting his belief that a certain requirement encroaches on presidential power.

But with the disclosure of Bush's domestic spying program, in which he ignored a law requiring warrants to tap the phones of Americans, many legal specialists say Bush is hardly reluctant to bypass laws he believes he has the constitutional authority to override.

Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander in chief of the military.

Many legal scholars say they believe that Bush's theory about his own powers goes too far and that he is seizing for himself some of the law-making role of Congress and the Constitution-interpreting role of the courts.

This ties in rather well with a prior post on a letter I've sent to Senators Shelby and Sessions. These two "leaders" are certainly part of the Rubber Stamp Congress approach. They these "leaders" would be so law and order about extramarital fellatio and a personal lie seems rather ironic. I'd much rather have a President that was weak around the skirts than one weak around the law. Peace ... or War!

May 1, 2003 - Bu$h says "Mission Accomplished"

"Heck of a job Bu$hie!" Think Progress has a nice chart and image. Media Matters reminds us of Tweety and G. Gordon Liddy's "manhood" moments plus they give us some "Crazy as a Run Over Dog" Ann Coulter foaming at the mouth. ReddHedd/Christy Hardin Smith via FireDogLake reminds us of Commander Codpiece and ... Worst Administration Ever! But don't they do "backdrops" well. Peace ... or War!