Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bu$h - Should we really call him Mister Eagle?

"You can tell a macho, he has a funky walk.
His western shirts and leather, always look so boss.
Funky with his body, he's a king.
Call him Mister Eagle, dig his chains .
You can best believe that, he's a macho man.
Likes to be the leader, he never dresses grand"

Dubyah is the "Macho, Macho Man" per Paul Waldman on Tom Paine. I'll call him "Commander Codpiece" for the time being. Peace ... or War!

No Clothes? What are you sissies talking about?

Tip of the Tam to Steve Sack who shares his art in The Minneapolis Star-Tribune for the above. Obtained of course via Daryl Cagle's syndicate on MSNBC. Lots of truth in this work. Damn shame but true. Only in GOP talk could "let's talk about redeployment or a new direction" become "Cut and Run" or "Cut and Jog". Worst President/Congress ever. Peace ... or War!

Mark Fiore's "I Got a Plan"

Bu$hCo's plan ... Taking a stand against Gay Marriage! Many of Mark Fiore's animations are instant classics. Enjoy! Peace ... or War

"No Blood For Hubris" Celebrates One Year

Tip of the Tam to J.C. Christian for the link. I'd visited before but Jesus General ought to know good talent. Additionally, who can refuse Our Lord, especially with that rank? One year is rather a ripe old age for blogs these days. I think the misery (especially blood for hubris!) wears even the strong down. No Blood for Hubris gives Bu$hCo pure hell, with some left over for the folks that support or allow the hubris to continue, yet the SERFIN' U-S-A! post ranks as one of my favorites so far. Carrying it to the Big Mules is always pleasing to a Highlander. Peace ... or War!

One Party Country? Not Without A Fight!

I've just added Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten's One Party Country : The Republican Plan for Dominance in the 21st Century to my Amazon Wish List yet I have a preview via the LA Times for us all. Tom Hamburger, who covers national politics for the LA Times, and Petter Wallsten delivered an op-ed this past Sunday entitled "The GOP knows you don't like anchovies : Unpopular Republicans still own the art of politicking." that in part focused on the recent Special Election for the US House of Representatives District covering the San Diego area.

This was of course the seat held by Randy "Duke" Cunningham and is considered a solid GOP district. Worried about the Busby threat, which is telling I think, the Republican's "Voter Vault" database was rolled into action. By the way the database was largely developed in India! The GOP is outsourcing everything it seems. To hold this seat the GOP also ...

This is a good op-ed piece and makes me think the book might even be better. But this op-ed, even though little of the basics disclosed here is new news to me, both scares and frustrates me. The good news is that if folks begin to understand, if we can get them away from American Idol and thumping Bibles (and gays!) and sports and ..., the sophistication of the GOP political machine, then perhaps Lefty Progressives can begin to break through on quaint concepts like ideas and solutions and cooperation and ... I do however know that in the meantime the Democrats, and by that I mean real Democrats and not the centrist sell outs, have to fight back with every tool we've got. Our real advantage is authenticity and ideas/solutions yet some tech can't hurt to bolster our cause.

Here's a portion of the op-ed:

... The results in the 50th Congressional District did not merely illustrate the potential inadequacy of the Democratic strategy for the November elections; they foreshadowed a much bigger and more startling story line: That even in the face of Republican scandals, sour approval ratings, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and growing public rejection of President Bush's policies in Iraq, the Republican Party still holds the lead in the art and science of obtaining power — and keeping it.

The fact is that over two or three decades, the GOP has painstakingly built up a series of structural advantages that make the party increasingly difficult to beat. And in the last five years, it has strengthened its hold under President Bush and his political guru, Karl Rove.

Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats in the House and six in the Senate to take power. And Republicans may well suffer some setbacks. But if the GOP retains control of Congress despite such a gloomy political climate — or even if it keeps control of just one chamber and narrowly loses the other — party leaders can rightfully argue that their long-term goal of constructing a lasting political majority remains viable.

The Republican fortress has many underpinnings, such as gerrymandered congressional districts that favor the GOP, an intellectual infrastructure that churns ideas through conservative think tanks and media, an ever-stronger political and policy-based alliance with corporate America, and the most sophisticated vote-tracking technology around.

Some of the GOP advantages are recent developments, such as the database called Voter Vault, which was used to precision in the San Diego County special election. The program allows ground-level party activists to track voters by personal hobbies, professional interests, geography — even by their favorite brands of toothpaste and soda and which gym they belong to.

Both parties can identify voters by precinct, address, party affiliation and, often, their views on hot-button issues. Democrats also use marketing data, but Voter Vault includes far more information culled from marketing sources — including retailers, magazine subscription services, even auto dealers — giving Republicans a high-tech edge in the kind of grass-roots politics that has long been the touchstone of Democratic activists.

As a result, Republicans have moved well ahead of Democrats nationally in their ability to find previously unaffiliated voters or even wavering Democrats and to target them with specially tailored messages. Voter Vault, although it is a closely guarded GOP trade secret, is nevertheless easily accessible to on-the-ground campaign workers and operatives should they need to mobilize votes in a hurry.

Other segments will get space as well, just in case you don't read the whole op-ed, as they need to be understood as well. Here are other portions of the piece:

... The new-and-improved GOP database helped Republicans begin to peel away select pieces of the old Democratic base, such as politically conservative and pro-Israel Jews, as well as socially conservative blacks, Latinos and blue-collar workers. In Cleveland, Republicans in 2004 compiled a list of Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants who they knew backed Bush's stance against Islamic terrorism, then organized a rally entirely in Russian on the Sunday before the election. ...

... Bush and other Republicans have also sought support from highly influential African American pastors, who are gaining power in swaying votes. The courtship of the pastors has come in part through a special office in the White House devoted to funneling government money to church-based social service organizations — a program that has drawn enthusiastic support from black churches that have, in turn, provided GOP candidates entree into terrain long dominated by Democrats.

Although Bush's national performance among blacks did not increase by much between 2000 and 2004, there were significant increases in key areas. In Ohio, a 7-percentage-point rise among black voters for Bush created the cushion he needed to carry that pivotal state and secure reelection.

Perhaps more than any other administration, the White House of George W. Bush has mastered the art of mixing politics and policy and keeping track of how federal government decisions can affect even obscure local elections. Rove, with a broad portfolio and extraordinary influence, introduced a new political doctrine, effectively putting the federal bureaucracy and the bully pulpit of the White House in the service of GOP political ends.

All administrations are political, of course. But never before has the White House inserted electoral priorities into Cabinet agencies with such regularity and deliberation. Before the 2002 midterm elections, for instance, Rove or Mehlman visited with the managers of many federal agencies to share polling information and discuss how policy decisions might affect key races. ...

Other pieces of the plan preceded Bush and Rove. The legendary political genius Lee Atwater masterminded a long-term campaign to redraw congressional district lines, which has given Republicans a long-term edge in House elections that is difficult to reverse.

Some Democrats unwittingly lent a helping hand to this strategy. Incumbent Democratic members of Congress, along with African American and Latino politicians at the local level, put their party at risk by cooperating in the early 1990s with Republican efforts to redraw the boundaries of electoral districts across the country. Individual Democrats and black and Latino politicians benefited by winning elections, but the overall result was a stronger Republican grip on legislative seats at all levels. With Democratic voters packed into urban minority districts, adjacent suburban and exurban districts sent more white conservatives to Washington.

These changes, along with gerrymandering by both parties on the state level, were so pervasive that they left only about two dozen of the 435 seats in the House competitive in any typical election.

When I was teaching Civics this past year I was amazed at how little my kids understood about government yet I also felt at times that much of the stuff I was teaching them about the intentions of the Founding Fathers had long since passed into the dustbins of history. The House is supposed to be the closest to the people. Two year terms and hardly polite and deliberative, as is the Senate ... at least in theory, the House ought to be where the people's voice can best be heard. To have two dozen or so competitive seats is hardly the ideal is it? Gerrymandering has to be addressed yet neither party likely wants to give ground it seems.

The above is hardly Democracy yet I don't blame those using the information tools. Rather I blame the unsophisticated voters that will fall for this foolishness. Yet and still, it is not all the fault of the citizen that they've become so devoid of capacity to engage and think. Bread and games ("panem et cirsenses" in the Latin) to an extent is to blame yet the system is hardly serving the interests of the average American anymore. This is especially so when one considers Gerrymandering. I for one seldom if ever have a candidate that I can help settled here in one of the reddest of Red States. My Congressional District nearly sent a Democrat to DC a couple of cycles back, despite the national party giving him little if any help, yet it is rare that anyone, not just the candidates even though I have a bumper sticker, is even willing to claim they are a "Liberal". I think Governor Dean hopes to use a 50 state strategy now and it is about time. I hope Governor Dean also has a fifty data point strategy as well though for those tight races as the good guys need some wins now rather than later.

What's a Progressive to do? As always, seek the better. Reforms to the processes seem like a good start. Better education. Publicly funded campaigns? Better journalism. ... Peace ...or War!

UPDATE - 9:30ish in the AM - Push Campaigning: Datamart, the Voter Vault, and you by Jon Garfunkel on Civilities is worth a look as well. This is the best part: " ... the public debates lack content and the real election happens in the privacy of these mailings. The candidate knows everything about the voter, but the media and the public know nothing about what the candidate really believes. It is, in effect, a nearly perfect perversion of the political process." In the local Benefield-Dial race I got push polls and robo calls several times from Gerald "Dino" Dial via a phone number out of Braddock, Virginia. They didn't strike me as that sophisticated so perhaps Dino didn't have tons of data or the orgainization that the RNC has ... yet. If the Progressive States Network is correct, and I think they are, about the fallback position for the Big Mules being to govern the nation via the Statehouses then this might be a foretelling of state races to come I fear. Perversion indeed! Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

David Sirota Asks and I'm Honored to Respond

I've blogged on David Sirota early on and have posted on Captain Bama as well regarding this young Progressive when he appeared on the pages of our Anniston Star. This fellow gives me hope that all is not lost.

I'm currently reading his "Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government--and How We Take It Back" and it is a gem! The level of work and thinking that went into this expose is impressive.

Today, David, via HuffPo plus his own sites, posts "6/27/06 - A Day That Will Go Down In Infamy" lamenting how Congress is wasting time with the flag burning amendment when real problems, his examples being literally life and death matters, need addressing. He asked that we pass the post along and I'm pleased to do so. Peace ... or War!

Chris Baker - Lucky to play in the Bu$h Leagues

Bless Chris Baker's heart and bald head if he doesn't favor me somewhat. Yesterday I'd blogged on Mr. Bakers' GOP talking points being flipped back by San Francisco talk radio personality Bernie Ward. Again, I'd have thought you tough talking Texans could handle a fella from San Fran. Today I located the BakerBlog at NewsRadio 740 KTRH in Houston. A Clear Channel station and we know how they feel about "Our Leader". Here's how he explains his likely last MSNBC moment:

I walked off of MSNBC today. In hind sight I shouldn’t have but I was so disgusted by being filibustered I reached a boiling point.
It was one of those segments where two hosts appear and a specific point is debated. I’ve done these things for years and they are usually moderated where both host get to make their point but not today.
The non stop yelling, interrupting and putting words in my mouth was so obnoxious that I just said “enough” and walked.
I’ve finally realized that some people are so obsessed with their hatred of the President they are willing to get us all killed if they can just do something to attack George Bush. I don’t want to believe that but I have no choice. There are plenty of reasons to disagree with the President and plenty of reasons to attack him. Tracking terrorist is not one of them.
They must attack because no matter what they have to root for America to fail. They believe that America’s failure is good for them and they will do and say anything they possibly can to bring about that failure. They have spread lie after lie and people have swallowed those lies and are now part of their quest for America’s failure.
Is this administration perfect? No. Is this war going perfectly? No, but it would be over by now if the left had been supportive of the effort instead of becoming a hindrance.From day one we’ve heard of a predicted 10,000 casualties. From day one we’ve heard the word “quagmire,” the term “another Viet Nam” the question “does the president have a plan?” “Looting,” “not enough troops” “it cost too much.” The attacks have been non stop. Have things gone perfect? No. But its war and war is not like a movie.
We have had to hear about Abu Ghraib and, Guantanamo Bay where all the so called abuse and torture of prisoners happens daily. Ted Kennedy and the rest of the “bank on failure” crowd have screamed at the top of their lungs about prisoner abuse and the abusers are and have been brought to justice.
Where are they now? Where are they when America’s own are captured and mutilated?
I can tell you where they are, they are nowhere. Talking about Americans being tortured and mutilated, pointing out the evil in Americas enemies would not serve their “America must fail” message. Reminding Americans of the savagery of our enemies would remind Americans that we are at great risk. It would remind Americans that no matter how bad America is portrayed, our enemy is a thousand times worse. It would remind Americans that no matter how much we disagree with George Bush on a variety of topics, and there are many, George Bush has done something that Bill Clinton would never do which is stand up to radical Islam, and in that we must stand together.
Talking about the murder of Americans would take them off their game.
Yes, I blew up and walked off of MSNBC. I walked because I realized what a monkey show these so called TV debates have become. It’s become professional wrestling without the sparkly robes. I doubt if I will ever be invited back and I can live with that. Should I have walked? No and I accept responsibility for my actions. I’m not perfect just honest.
I know there are those who will enjoy it. Have fun.
Where to begin? Yes, I'll enjoy somewhat but mostly your response makes me sad.

First of all "hindsight" is one word Chris. You two were "guests" not "hosts" as well. I'm not sure this MSNBC appearance was designed to be a "debate" either.

Fillibustered? One question being asked does not make a fillibuster. Bernie didn't put words in your mouth but rather pressed you to answer one simple question based off the initial manner in which you two were introduced. That he'd not let you wiggle off the hook makes him an obsessive Bush basher? The question remains "Who gets to decide if something is a national security concern that merits censorship?" After having this adminstration stretch at best and more likely violate the laws and our traditions the question is very legitimate.

Here's where I am sad. Chris Baker has a forum for blasting away at Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton and "monkey show" TV debates. The balance of his argument escapes me. My favorite portion was the idea that "this war ... would be over by now if the left had been supportive of the effort instead of becoming a hindrance." I think that would draw a chuckle from some of the actual soldiers on the ground. You can be the 720th Chairborne and go after the real enemy possibly. The idea that Lefty people have an "America must fail" message is also notable. The "war is not like a movie" portion had me reflecting on Bu$hCo's "Mission Accomplished", the military handle being "Operation Codpiece", moment some three years ago. Karl Rove might not think war a movie but at least one hell of a campaign tool.

"Willing to get us all killed" is revealing and I remind you few if any serious analysts thinks that al-Qaeda was unaware of this data being compromised. I've even seen a few clips and reports where Bu$hCo was talking of this type of effort. Hardly a stealth arrangement it seems like plus I do understand that citizens are entitled to know when one of these administrative subpoenas are issued. I know Bu$hCo has been pushing hard at the NYT and a few other media outlets today yet as your man Reagan might say, "facts are stubborn things.". Dubyah doesn't like to answer questions either Chris but I'm looking forward to at least an effort by a reporter to nail him down. Asking Snow Job might have to suffice yet hope spring eternal.

I think the bottom line is the GOP figures it can't hurt to go after the so called liberal media. Keeping boys from marrying boys and stopping the rare flag burning with Constitutional Amendments can only go so far. The fact The NYT delayed the NSA warrantless wiretapping until after the 2004 election or Judy Miller was carrying water for Bu$hCo in the run up to the Iraq invasion or their examining just recently the Clinton's marriage on the front page or ... seems to have not mattered.

Finally, the idea that you think Lefty folks aren't caring about our soldiers being harmed is dreadful. We didn't send them there. We'd have made sure they had adequate body and vehicle armor instead of giving the Big Mules a tax cut as Houston's own Hot Tub Tom DeLay thought was the most important thing on the eve of war. We want them home ASAP and want answers to why and how they wound up there. This war was one of choice. No WMD! 10,ooo casualties? Try double that! Not greeted as liberators. Oil revenue have not paid for the conflict. Not enough boots on the groud. It was a PNAC wet dream to go into Iraq and now we see it was actually a nightmare. Iraq is on the brink of, if not already in, a Civil War. Intelligence was gamed and your guys leaked classified information to push back against one main critic. We have yet to get a full accounting on the Iraq conflict as the Rubber Stamp Congress is still stalling.

Our soldiers have been sent on tour after tour and we are seeing some unfortunately react poorly to the stresses they face. Torture is not the American way I'd offer yet this White House thinks portions the Geneva Convention is "quaint". Gitmo and Abu Ghraib are mere symptoms of how Rummy and Dick Cheney have handled their power. Low ranking folks have been brought to justice perhaps yet we have yet to get the whole story on how far up this goes. Congress overwhelmingly passes a law making clear that torture is not acceptableand your President issues a signing statement, a radical thing in and of itself, saying that he might not follow the law.

Extremist have flocked to Iraq, as Bu$hCo was warned, and this adminstration has created generations of terrorists rather than using the good will of the world we had after 9-11. Instead of building alliances and being patient, the Bu$hCo cabal chose to go to war. They also chose to go to war on our laws and traditions. I will not "stand together" if that means not being a critical observer and especially if ignoring our Constitution is required. George W. Bush does shame to this country. To argue this is I'd think actually patriotic. This isn't a "game" to be taken off of and for you to openly suggest this is offensive. I can hardly believe you'd reduce these outrageous excuses to writing yet perhaps this sells in true believer land.

Chris Baker, you'll likely remain in the Bu$h Leagues and perhaps this will work for you. With no more willingness to engage real issues then cheerleading, like your boy Dubyah did of course, might be the best place for you. Shill those GOP talking points and be a good Clear Channel operative. If that doesn't suit you, maybe Confederate Male Model work can carry you and yours along in Red State land. Dubyah has his "Commander Codpiece" moment and you can be "Confederate Codpiece", although I'd be a little more careful with that blade. Peace ... or War

Captain Plaid - Why I'll Continue Blogging!

I’ve been busy lately but I’m getting a fair amount done around the property. Time is scarce even with the summer vacation from “teaching” the “scholars” I was working with this past year. I’ve also had some flack from my conservative/evangelical family on my blogging and the rare “Letter to the Editor” to my local rag, even those that were mistakenly viewed as such. My ex-wife has gone on the warpath to boot! I have several projects that are going to take some serious effort and time, plus I’ve got to figure out how to start making a living this Fall. I’ll admit I’ve pondered dropping the whole blogging enterprise. I’d continue to read as much as I could but might stop posting. But I’m not, at least not just yet. Here’s why:

    1. Blogging gives me a chance to vent. “If you aren’t outraged then you aren’t paying attention!” seems to work for me. I am often amazed at the lack of understanding in our “leadership” from the national to local level. Journalist and pundits disappoint me as well at times yet the pseudo-commentators and Astroturf organizations and those playing The Mighty Wurlitzer deserve my/our scorn.
    2. Blogging lets me communicate and connect. I do read several major and also a few minor blogs yet rarely comment. However, I can feel connections with others that are concerned enough to share. I’m stuck here in the boonies of East Alabama with less human contact than might be ideal. I like being alone at times yet admittedly enjoy intellectual discourse and basic banter about the things of life. Sharing ideas and thoughts seems so human. Blogging, both reading and writing posts, seems very suitable for that process.
    3. Writing, and thinking for that matter, can be a creative release. I like to build and do. I am sure my mind is improved from the process. Seems harmless at least. I’d love to be able to profit financially from the work yet doubt that will happen. But I do profit in other ways.
    4. I truly learn from reading and thinking. Blogs, plus the links and resources they’ve sent me to as well, have taught me so much. I am learning how to be a better writer, with a long ways to go admittedly, yet even this relatively well-educated man learns plenty every day from reading the posts of some super smart folks. I believe we should learn until we die. When we stop learning then we might as well check out. I’m just forty. I think often that a well seasoned man could contribute to this sort of effort even it he can’t work like a young man.
    5. This blogging seems so democratic. Regular folks are able to challenge the authorities and powerful and those with an audience. The marketplace of ideas on steroids it seems.
    6. Blogging is a bargain. A high speed line tied to an admittedly old computer and I’m there. Lots of bang for the buck it seems.
    7. Blogging expands my world. I get to read ideas from people around the planet that I’d otherwise never know. I get views certainly from locations that I’m not likely to visit. I hear from the Left Coast to DC to Philly to NYC to The ATL to Colorado to …
    8. I feel more patriotic by blogging. I’m connected to a group that cares about our nation. We often are critical of our governments yet I think that is the ultimate sign of patriotism. We seek the ideal that this country can be. I believe in the work of the ACLU and other groups that seek the protections of those freedoms and traditions that makes this nation still worth saving. I believe in social justice and these efforts allow me to work in those fields.
    9. I like politics and public policy. Armchair wonk? My four main blogs had been thought out as “thinking globally and acting locally”, with Marque Stuart being an aside that I hope to return to as able. Captain Plaid (nation/world) to Captain Bama (region) to Tin Shop Tartan (local) work in that continuum. Captain Jimi lets me fight the culture war in one location yet I continue to believe there’s often overlap in all areas. I still think Progressivism may best be "sold” through local applications. Fighting back against conservatism’s powerful message machine almost requires insurgency on the local level given how the mainstream media and some Democrats continue to let them get away with distortions and talking points. Also, some centrist Democrats are nearly as bad at the GOP with their allegiances to The Big Mules very certain. Progressives have few leaders on the national stage, with Russ Feingold being one exception it seems. In Alabama and locally, Lefty Progressives are even more rare.
    10. Finally, I blogged on Howard Zinn via Captain Plaid just yesterday. One segment he wrote was “…we still might accept as our civic duty the responsibility to buttress our fellow citizens against the mendacity of our high officials.” So I’m carrying out my “civic duty” perhaps? “Responsibility” is a good word. We do the painful at times due to duty. Nothing could be more important for citizens of our world than to engage and care. I do.

I’ll soldier on, as always. Peace … or War!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Howard Zinn on "America's Blinders"

Howard Zinn is one of those folks I'm ashamed to admit I've often missed. I have several of his books on my Amazon "Wish List" but so far have read but portions of his work. He's a real Lefty historian that I'll likely study a good bit more in the future. In the meantime, I've got this piece from The Nation back in April. Professor Zinn writes in part as follows:

Now that most Americans no longer believe in the war, now that they no longer trust Bush and his Administration, now that the evidence of deception has become overwhelming (so overwhelming that even the major media, always late, have begun to register indignation), we might ask: How come so many people were so easily fooled?...

... there are two reasons, which go deep into our national culture, and which help explain the vulnerability of the press and of the citizenry to outrageous lies whose consequences bring death to tens of thousands of people. If we can understand those reasons, we can guard ourselves better against being deceived.

One is in the dimension of time, that is, an absence of historical perspective. The other is in the dimension of space, that is, an inability to think outside the boundaries of nationalism. We are penned in by the arrogant idea that this country is the center of the universe, exceptionally virtuous, admirable, superior.

If we don’t know history, then we are ready meat for carnivorous politicians and the intellectuals and journalists who supply the carving knives. I am not speaking of the history we learned in school, a history subservient to our political leaders, from the much-admired Founding Fathers to the Presidents of recent years. I mean a history which is honest about the past. If we don’t know that history, then any President can stand up to the battery of microphones, declare that we must go to war, and we will have no basis for challenging him. He will say that the nation is in danger, that democracy and liberty are at stake, and that we must therefore send ships and planes to destroy our new enemy, and we will have no reason to disbelieve him.

But if we know some history, if we know how many times Presidents have made similar declarations to the country, and how they turned out to be lies, we will not be fooled. Although some of us may pride ourselves that we were never fooled, we still might accept as our civic duty the responsibility to buttress our fellow citizens against the mendacity of our high officials. ...

(Zinn goes gives us a long list of times our government has lied to and manipulated the American public, none of which surprised me.)

A careful reading of history might give us another safeguard against being deceived. It would make clear that there has always been, and is today, a profound conflict of interest between the government and the people of the United States. This thought startles most people, because it goes against everything we have been taught.

We have been led to believe that, from the beginning, as our Founding Fathers put it in the Preamble to the Constitution, it was “we the people” who established the new government after the Revolution. When the eminent historian Charles Beard suggested, a hundred years ago, that the Constitution represented not the working people, not the slaves, but the slaveholders, the merchants, the bondholders, he became the object of an indignant editorial in The New York Times.

Our culture demands, in its very language, that we accept a commonality of interest binding all of us to one another. We mustn’t talk about classes. Only Marxists do that, although James Madison, “Father of the Constitution,” said, thirty years before Marx was born that there was an inevitable conflict in society between those who had property and those who did not.

Our present leaders are not so candid. They bombard us with phrases like “national interest,” “national security,” and “national defense” as if all of these concepts applied equally to all of us, colored or white, rich or poor, as if General Motors and Halliburton have the same interests as the rest of us, as if George Bush has the same interest as the young man or woman he sends to war.

Surely, in the history of lies told to the population, this is the biggest lie. In the history of secrets, withheld from the American people, this is the biggest secret: that there are classes with different interests in this country. To ignore that—not to know that the history of our country is a history of slaveowner against slave, landlord against tenant, corporation against worker, rich against poor—is to render us helpless before all the lesser lies told to us by people in power.

If we as citizens start out with an understanding that these people up there—the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court, all those institutions pretending to be “checks and balances”—do not have our interests at heart, we are on a course towards the truth. Not to know that is to make us helpless before determined liars.

The deeply ingrained belief—no, not from birth but from the educational system and from our culture in general—that the United States is an especially virtuous nation makes us especially vulnerable to government deception. It starts early, in the first grade, when we are compelled to “pledge allegiance” (before we even know what that means), forced to proclaim that we are a nation with “liberty and justice for all.”

And then come the countless ceremonies, whether at the ballpark or elsewhere, where we are expected to stand and bow our heads during the singing of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” announcing that we are “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” There is also the unofficial national anthem “God Bless America,” and you are looked on with suspicion if you ask why we would expect God to single out this one nation—just 5 percent of the world’s population—for his or her blessing.

If your starting point for evaluating the world around you is the firm belief that this nation is somehow endowed by Providence with unique qualities that make it morally superior to every other nation on Earth, then you are not likely to question the President when he says we are sending our troops here or there, or bombing this or that, in order to spread our values—democracy, liberty, and let’s not forget free enterprise—to some God-forsaken (literally) place in the world. It becomes necessary then, if we are going to protect ourselves and our fellow citizens against policies that will be disastrous not only for other people but for Americans too, that we face some facts that disturb the idea of a uniquely virtuous nation.

These facts are embarrassing, but must be faced if we are to be honest. We must face our long history of ethnic cleansing, in which millions of Indians were driven off their land by means of massacres and forced evacuations. And our long history, still not behind us, of slavery, segregation, and racism. We must face our record of imperial conquest, in the Caribbean and in the Pacific, our shameful wars against small countries a tenth our size: Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq. And the lingering memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is not a history of which we can be proud.

Our leaders have taken it for granted, and planted that belief in the minds of many people, that we are entitled, because of our moral superiority, to dominate the world. At the end of World War II, Henry Luce, with an arrogance appropriate to the owner of Time, Life, and Fortune, pronounced this “the American century,” saying that victory in the war gave the United States the right “to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit.”

Both the Republican and Democratic parties have embraced this notion. George Bush, in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 2005, said that spreading liberty around the world was “the calling of our time.” Years before that, in 1993, President Bill Clinton, speaking at a West Point commencement, declared: “The values you learned here . . . will be able to spread throughout this country and throughout the world and give other people the opportunity to live as you have lived, to fulfill your God-given capacities.”

What is the idea of our moral superiority based on? Surely not on our behavior toward people in other parts of the world. Is it based on how well people in the United States live? The World Health Organization in 2000 ranked countries in terms of overall health performance, and the United States was thirty-seventh on the list, though it spends more per capita for health care than any other nation. One of five children in this, the richest country in the world, is born in poverty. There are more than forty countries that have better records on infant mortality. Cuba does better. And there is a sure sign of sickness in society when we lead the world in the number of people in prison—more than two million.

A more honest estimate of ourselves as a nation would prepare us all for the next barrage of lies that will accompany the next proposal to inflict our power on some other part of the world. It might also inspire us to create a different history for ourselves, by taking our country away from the liars and killers who govern it, and by rejecting nationalist arrogance, so that we can join the rest of the human race in the common cause of peace and justice.

Nothing to add beyond an "I concur!", although my affirmation of the thoughts of this living legend is hardly of any significance. Peace ... or War!

The San Fran Man whipping Texas Talk Tool

Bernie Ward of KGOAM810 in San Fran appears to the left. Today on MSNBC this guy simply bitch slapped Texan Conservative radio personality Chris Baker over the NYT reporting that the gov't is obtaining SWIFT financial records. Crooks and Liars has the video which begins with Dubyah attacking the Times. Baker got the talking points yet didn't measure up in defending them. Actually, I might be too hard on Mr. Baker as really few people can defend "talking points" when pressed. Bernie Ward took the GOP "logic" and flipped it back on their guy. Ward was assertive and relatively polite. Clone this guy please! Peace ... or War!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Has Bu$hCo Bit the Hand That Leads Him?

The WaPo's Karen DeYoung reports "Officials Defend Financial Searches - Critics Assert Secret Program Invades Privacy" where Treasury has been getting access to SWIFT banking records. You'll just have to read the article if this is not something you aren't up to speed on. International clearing house that processes many financial transactions is the bottom line. I'd never heard of it before this last week.

My question is how the business community will respond to this program. It seems at least radical and yet does that surprise us? I don't think this is nearly the problem thet the NSA and communication records appears to be yet it is a true concern. This administration is without shame once again and I love how Snow Job has already learned to yell "9-11" whenever the questions get tough. Caught? Just deflect with 9-11.

The secrecy that this administration treasures requires Congress to be especially informed and I'm just not thinking it has been occuring. I'm just not so certain that some very powerful folks want Dick Cheney and this cabal nosing around in their financial records. Additionally, can you imagine the leverage this might give the person holding the data?

The more I learn the less surprised I am with Bu$hCo. I want my country back! Peace ... or War!

The Boss is Ticked & Tickled with Soledad O'Brien

Bruce Springsteen appeared on The Today Show recently. A video and transcript is available via Think Progress. It does often seem the parody "journalists" like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert often do a better job than real ones. To have Sir Bruce getting a little silly seems appropriate in that his contributions are questioned after The Today Show and The Tonight Show both gave Ann Coulter a forum pretending she was a real authority. Interview gems for me, with my emphsis supplied, were
O - ...some people gave you a lot of flack for being a musician who took a political stand. I remember…
S - Yeah, they should let Ann Coulter do it instead.
O - ... says that musicians ... go play your music and stop.
S - Well, if you turn it on, present company included, the idiots rambling on on cable television on any given night of the week, and you’re saying that musicians shouldn’t speak up? It’s insane. It’s funny.
O - ... if there is a concern that you start talking about politics, you came out ... and said, ... the country would be better off if George Bush were replaced as President. Is there a worry where you start getting political and you could alienate your audience?
S - Well that’s called common sense. I don’t even see that as politics at this point. So I mean that’s, you know, you can get me started, I’ll be glad to go. […] You don’t take a country like the United States into a major war on circumstantial evidence. You lose your job for that. That’s my opinion, and I have no problem voicing it. ...
I just wish some of the Democratic Party leadership would follow this approach. Maybe the Boss could be a consultant. Can't imagine he'd do a poorer job than some they've used lately. Peace ... or War!

Friday, June 23, 2006

PBS Dark Side on Dick Cheney, Rummy, Tenet ...

On September 16, 2001, Vice President Cheney appeared on NBC's Meet the Press and talked about what it will take to deal with the terrorism threat: "…We have to work the dark side, if you will. Spend time in the shadows of the intelligence world," Cheney said. "A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion …"

PBS FrontLine'"The Dark Side" reveals portions of what we now know about the exponentially most powerful Vice-President in the history of our country. Peace ... or War!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I Want Ron Suskind's "The One Percent Doctrine"!

When I first heard of and then read about this book I was not that interested yet "these times they are a-changing". Ron Suskind's site has a blurb on the book yet the real buzz is with what the reporting is picking up. The book is described at and available via Amazon. I'll give you a summary of the news below but let me first remind you of Suskind's "The Price of Loyalty", his main source being former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. As the first "insider", and I'll offer that is a serious stretch, O'Neill of course reminded us that Bu$h didn't know the questions to ask on anything of substance.

Gary Kamiya of Salon gives us "License to lie : In his devastating new book, Ron Suskind shows how 9/11 allowed George W. Bush and his shadowy courtier, Dick Cheney, to "create whatever reality was convenient." that begins with,
"If there are any observers who still deny that the Bush administration is the most secretive, vengeful, reality-averse, manipulative and arrogant government in U.S. history, they will have a lot of fast talking to do after reading Ron Suskind's new book, "The One Percent Doctrine." A meticulous work of reporting, based on interviews with nearly 100 well-placed sources, many of them members of the U.S. intelligence community, Suskind's book paints perhaps the most intimate and damning portrait yet of the Bush team. "
We've got Sidney Blumenthal via Salon giving us "Surrealpolitik : Ron Suskind's latest book offers new details about how the Bush White House has used theological certainty to mask political expediency -- facts be damned." There is less "theology" I'd offer than politics and power and arrogance and ... involved in this disaster of a GWOT "led" by the Worst Administration Ever. Some portions worth sharing include:

... On June 14, the Pentagon dispatched a document titled "Iraq Floor Debate Prep Book" to Republicans in the House. A Pentagon public affairs officer admitted to the Washington Post that the 74-page document originated in the White House but was repackaged as a Pentagon publication. It is a cut-and-paste rush job to refute advocates of "cut and run." It is also a representative document of the Bush administration: Evidence is cherry-picked, slogans substitute for facts, falsehoods are sold as truth, and "victory" is promised. Connections between al-Qaida and Iraq are slyly hinted at. The old accusations against Jose Padilla as the "dirty bomber," no longer being pressed against him, reappear. The Pentagon document, eagerly seized upon by congressional Republicans as a treasure trove of talking points, accurately gauges the White House's estimate of their ability to assess information on their own. ...

... On Tuesday, Vice President Dick Cheney, in a speech at the National Press Club, defended his statement of May 2005 that the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes." "I don't think anybody anticipated the level of violence that we've encountered," he added. His comment, besides strangely echoing Bush's on Hurricane Katrina ("I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees"), belied precise warnings from the CIA, the Army War College and 70 experts gathered by the National Defense University, who sent a report before the war to the administration but never received acknowledgment of receipt. But for the moment at least, Cheney's restatement of optimism or obliviousness expresses regained political confidence. ...

... The passage of the Republican congressional resolution on Iraq stands on the wreckage of those standards. (The Pentagon talking points refer to Zubaydah as "bin Laden's field commander.") The continuing primacy of apparatchiks Cheney and Rumsfeld reflects the conquest of their conception of the executive. And Rove's exploitative strategies subordinate a potential political solution in Iraq to the paramount importance of a political solution in the midterm elections. Call it the triumph of surrealpolitik.

Barton Gellman of the WaPo, upon reading the book, wrote,

One example out of many comes in Ron Suskind's gripping narrative of what the White House has celebrated as one of the war's major victories: the capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002. Described as al-Qaeda's chief of operations even after U.S. and Pakistani forces kicked down his door in Faisalabad, the Saudi-born jihadist was the first al-Qaeda detainee to be shipped to a secret prison abroad. Suskind shatters the official story line here.

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was "echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President," Suskind writes. And yet somehow, in a speech delivered two weeks later, President Bush portrayed Abu Zubaydah as "one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States." And over the months to come, under White House and Justice Department direction, the CIA would make him its first test subject for harsh interrogation techniques. ...

... Cheney, by Suskind's account, had been grappling with how to think about "a low-probability, high-impact event." By the time the briefing was over, he had his answer: "If there's a one percent chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response."

This "Cheney Doctrine" let Bush evade analytic debate, Suskind writes, and "rely on impulse and improvisation to a degree that was without precedent for a modern president." ...

... Which brings us back to the unbalanced Abu Zubaydah. "I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target." And so, Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered."

Suskind has also claimed "the US took out Al-Jazeera office in Kabul purposefully". My reading on this is still a bit sketchy. Without claiming to know doctrine, I could think of a few rare circumstances where going after journalists could be excused yet this does seem very extreme, even for Bu$hCo.

Unfortunately, and I'd think understandably, Suskind is unable to source this book as would be ideal. However, given the undisputed fact that the Rubber Stamp Congress, with special scorn for Kansas Senator Pat Roberts who continues to stall on what he has long promised and is required to do by our laws and traditions, has abandoned their oversight role I'm pleased to get the story out there. If Congress will investigate, journalist will demand substantive answers from Snow Job (keep your day job Tony as you'll never make it as a historian) plus in fact all of Bu$hCo, and most importantly if the American public will press their rights and responsibilities in a democracy then perhaps we'll start getting some answers. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Can one teach geo-politcs with cartoons?

Small and blurred yet that's Howie Mandel offering Iran's President, I'll pass on his name, some glowsticks. This is from Current TV's Super News. Visit and laugh! Current TV is on the bleeding edge of interactivity. Short segments and much viewer produced media.

Yes, I did use it at times for teaching materials. Some was a too extreme to use and at times I'd have to censor yet good stuff that the kids loved. My idea is if they think it is important enough to make a cartoon it must be something they need to understand. Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Can we reach "regular folks" despite the noise?

I've been bouncing around with some perhaps loosely related constructs for several days, pondering when I was working on some grunt work about the Ponderosa, with all of these themes it seems tied in to how ideas make their way into "the media" and thus our zones of awareness. Learning about our world is hard enough it seems for those that might actually give a damn and yet I’m further discouraged by having to slog through and work around so many interferences to our seeking truth and sharing ideas.

It started with Jim "The Tool" Wooten of the AJC meriting "Wooten's World : No Doubt Just Dogma" and then Jim Wooten - "Nothing to see here. Move along." over the last few days. Jim’s just across the river and I often spent time in “Wooten’s World” in my efforts to keep up with Georgia news via the AJC. Heading to the Lowlands, I then stumbled across a Mobile Press-Register editorial from this past weekend that makes me wonder if Mr. Wooten is secretly on the their Editorial Board. MPR’s “At the end of the day, probe won't find much” will eventually get a post on how dead wrong they are on the Plamegate affair and their “facts” and “perceptions”. One of the many things that bothered was their throwing around “Partisan Democrats and obsessive Bush-haters” and “the mean-spirited hopes of the administration's foes” in an Editorial. It seemed way over the top in many places, again especially for an editorial.
Here are some blog posts that I’ve been cooking with, or otherwise seasoning with now. Glenn Greenwald, of “How Would a Patriot Act? fame, posted “Why right-wing extremists merit attention” that I quickly read as it was mostly limited to UT Law Professor Glen Reynolds/Instapundit. Today, Hume’s Ghost, posting at Glenn’s Unclaimed Territory, served up “Why Respond to Malkin?” that linked back to his previous post “The Bizarro World logic of Michelle Malkin”. Both are worth a read to understand the Right Wing Noise Machine.

Craig Crawford was on Olbermann briefly this evening discussing Dan Rather and CBS parting ways and his “Attack the Messenger : How Politicians Turn You Against the Media” came up as well which added to my material. Also, Hume’s Ghost send me to David Neiwert (his blog Ornicus has long been one of my favs) for Rush, Newspeak, and Fascism: An exegesis and to The Green Knight, with lead blogger being a High Church Anglican English Professor that I’ll want to return to as I have time, for “Coulter and What Her Book Says About Us”. Returning to Mr. Neiwert’s work, this is a long and serious resource that I’ll need time to wade through.

The quandary I’m struggling with is how do Progressives reach regular folks when they are getting hammered with so much of the above foolishness. Getting poorly educated (even if one has a college degree they can still not be properly educated I’ll add), lazy, selfish, easily distracted, busy, … to even engage can be work enough yet some of our many ignorant citizens are even a tougher nut to crack. I’m convinced the more informed and better educated a person is the more likely they’ll not fall for today’s GOP conservatism. Perhaps in the old days some intellectual conservatives floated in and out of the mainstream to create a following of smart folks yet are there really any of those left? Even George Will has gotten a rather sloppy lately it seems.

This evening I watched a little Hardball on MSNBC. Tweety was gone but Noron was covering just fine for Fox News Lite. I watched Ken Mehlman massage the message as delivered by the hierarchy that is today’s GOP. I heard him say the same things that essentially every other loyalist repeats and repeats and … The right has a serious organization and discipline and money and wing nut welfare and a built in GOTV in the Religious Right and ...

I work hard to stay informed yet I still miss things. There are items that come along where I’m lost. Some I have to punt on due to time yet I try to get to the bottom of anything that interests me. I did not learn issues and politics from folks like Ann Coulter or Rush “Big Fat Idiot” Limbaugh or Sean “Vanity” Hannity or … What about regular folks? When Ann Coulter gets on The Tonight Show or The Today Show or … people hear her lies and smears and threats and gradually some accept her trash as reality. When Noron and Ken the Grin chatted this evening how does Joe Sixpack, assuming he’s not watching wrestling, cut through the crap? 24/7 news channels, the internets (as Dubyah would label), blogs, talk radio, podcasting, … and we are more lost than ever it seems in getting to the meat of the matter. Complex ideas take time to explain and understand yet Rove’s “cut and run” has been repeated hundreds of times every day as of late.

I’m tired but still frustrated so I’ll just stop. Usually the posting leaves me feeling vented and pepped up yet I’m still conflicted. Might work on this one some more yet it’s a start. Peace … or War!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Gray Lady Bitch Slaps Bu$hCo & GOP "Leaders"

A New York Times Editorial from today entitled "A Long Road Ahead in Iraq" is especially solid. Without mentioning Karl Rove the piece makes it clear that his approach to an election cycle is hardly selling at least for some folks. Of course, some will drink the Kool- Aid and the media might not press the issue enough to suit many on the left yet this is worth culling out some portions as follows:

Rather than engage in a serious debate about America's future course in Iraq, President Bush and the Republican Congress have again opted for sound bites and partisanship. ...

... Pretending things are better than they are will not make them so. America has some very hard strategic choices pressing down on it in Iraq — much more complicated than whether to set an arbitrary target date for troop withdrawal. ...

A Congressional leadership doing its job would hold hearings on these critical issues instead of setting partisan bear traps for November's election.

After a week in which the American military death toll in Iraq passed 2,500 and in which an Iraqi official spoke of a possible amnesty offer to insurgents who killed some of those Americans — an offer we can safely predict Washington will never allow — the real tragedy of Iraq lies not just in the thousands of Iraqi and American lives lost or the shame of Abu Ghraib or Haditha.

It lies even more in the continued lack of leadership and candor from the White House. No upbeat presidential trip to Baghdad or flag-waving Congressional resolution can long divert attention from the sorry reality. More than 130,000 American troops are now spending their fourth year mired in a dangerous and ill-defined mission with no realistic plan for success and no end in sight.

This is but one newspaper and resource wanting the grown ups back in charge. Admittedly, until the mass media and their reporters step up to the plate and insist the tough questions be answered it is difficult. However, this editorial was a worthy addition to the discussion. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Longing for Lefty Favorable Media Coverage

Steve Young at HuffPo serves up IF THE MEDIA REPORTED ON DEMOCRATS THE WAY THEY REPORT ON REPUBLICANS and darned if this wasn't a great demonstration of how the so called liberal media really works. HuffPo's Eat the Press is a gem. Jim Wooten of the AJC is still The Tool. Peace ... or War!

Wooten's World - No Doubts just Dogma

This post is built off an older column by Jim Wooten of the AJC, most recently honored as "Outlander of the Day" over on Captain Bama, although a frequent source of weeping and gnashing of teeth for his often wrong "Right Thinking". Jim begins with the following portions, my emphasis supplied of course:

... a confession. I'm in a business that's too jaded living in an era that's too cynical. Two events of the past week evoke that feeling.

And it is just that. A feeling. Admittedly, one reinforced by the day's readings

Good start! Especially for The Tool. He'll pass on the talking points and think tank "research" as good as anybody in my neck of the woods yet the above is something I long for him to really admit. Now I'm not getting all post-modern I hope yet reality has to be something sought and it can be a tricky search these days. For Jim to take this major step gave me a little hope. And of course he quickly let me down. Mr. Wooten took exception to portions of what NYT Publisher Arthur Sulzberger said in his commencement address at NYU - New Paltz (rock climbing country!) yet I'll give you a portion Jim Wooten didn't address:

... my plea is: engage. Our world needs you. It needs your energy and your caring; it needs your commitment and your values. If we don’t get them our society – all of us – will continue to aimlessly drift, failing to make our country and our world a place that makes us proud.

Engage. Help make decisions. Vote. Read a newspaper (what, you thought the publisher of The New York Times wouldn’t get there?) Knowing what’s happening in your world, your country, your neighborhood is the critical precursor to being a citizen of a democracy. Each one of you who forsakes your role in keeping our democracy alive by either inaction or, perhaps worse, by action based on ignorance, threatens all the rest of us. So, read a newspaper and build a community. ...

John F. Kennedy allegedly said something like, "There is an old saying that the course of civilization is a race between catastrophe and education. In a democracy such as ours, we must make sure that education wins the race." I think Mr. Sulzberger is simply reminding us that learning is a lifetime commitment and that we are all in this together. Jim Wooten takes the commencement, and it was hardly a poor one I'd suggest, and offers this, with my emphasis supplied:

Idealism laced with cynicism. It's a toxic brew, but one that has become the latté of the coffeehouse intelligentsia, at least in the era since Sulzberger graduated from college.

The America most often described by the left's politicians and commentators, the one for which the publisher apologizes, is a reprehensible corruption that hardly inspires idealism. It's a venal place where immigrants and the weak are exploited, the greedy unchecked, the environment despoiled, where business and politics are corrupt and where soldiers' lives are pennies tossed as wishes into a fountain. How utterly wrong that view is.

I'll get back to the above soon but let me first show how Jim Wooten takes the memorial for a "Greatest Generation" man that does seem to have been one that lived a damn fine life and uses, in a manner that seems a touch tacky, Jim Gillette's legacy as grist for his mill. Jim closes off yet another ad hominem column with
There was nothing cynical about the America John Gillette saw. We were not a nation that, as Sulzberger cast it, fights misbegotten wars, withholds fundamental human rights or counts oil as basis for American policy.
Mr. Wooten knew the man and his family and perhaps they'd approve, or at least accept, how Jim reflects on General Gillette's life of service and sacrifice. I'll also offer that I'm a touch uncomfortable about even working around Jim's standard attacks on the left even if he did this by "comparing" Gillette's character and attitudes, and that whole Greatest Generation in part, with what Sulzberger told those young people in New York. So I'll leave Gillette and his family, and all those men and women that have served this nation in and out of the military, to focus on the legacy they left us.

That this column began with "business all too jaded" is odd since Jim seems hardly jaded and perfectly Pollyannish with yet another hit piece on the loony left. Jim Wooten can hardly deny the corruption of the GOP's K-Street Project, best represented by Jack Abramoff. There's plenty more to not like about how government is increasingly for sale to the highest bidder, with the overwhelming majority of the scandals being with the Republican Party in that they have all the power it seems. Businesses are never corrupt. Just ask Bu$h's Kenny Boy Lay of Enron and he'll tell you how honest free market capitalism works in Wooten's World. Exploitation doesn't exist? Women aren't paid less than men and corporate interests in the US would never seek cheap labor that had limited or no ability to resist poor treatment. And "greed" is merely a fantasy of the left. How silly to ponder on the increasing income gap between haves and have nots. In Wooten's World he can claim that just thinking of the massive tax breaks handed to the Big Mules by the GOP has been proven to cause cancer. This fact might be provided by some disengenously endowed organization's policy whore that Jim can tap into when he needs authority. Gitmo and Abu Ghraid and Haditha and ... simply did not occur I suppose in Wooten's World? Move along. Nothing to see here. All is well and nothing to fret over. Sort of like the environmental concerns huh Jim? Climate change and pollution and species loss and deforestation and ... has just been made up by those godless liberals if you live in the world of Wooten. Oil has nary a thing to do with Iraq! And apparently the WMD didn't either as the neo-con wet dream turned nightmare is going swimmingly. Freedom is on the march and we've turned yet another corner. Last throes! Soldiers and civilians and families and treasure lost or damaged by this war of choice is not even subject to doubt. Human life has been squandered in Iraq by men who did not serve when duty called. Certainly today's Chickenhawks wrap themselves in the flag and use "support the troops" to deflect questions over the lack of leadership provided by Rummy, Dick, .... Your work is just the first time I've seen anyone with the audacity to use the memories of even the old warriors to brush back reservations over the decisions of Our Leader, and your beloved conservatism, in foreign and domestic policies. Sychronized shilling once again.

Welcome to Wooten's World. Bolstered by such fine people as Ann Coulter, The Tool is carrying out his role for the Right. I just don't understand folks like Jim and those who accept his writing as even close to the standards of what Sulzberger asked those kids to strive toward. I'm hardly in the coffeehouse these days yet I'll claim at least a seat at the intelligentsia table every so often. Folks like Jim are not interested in discourse and debate it seems as they dismiss concerns of I'd argue nearly every American. It's time for Jim to put some facts and reason behind Wooten's World. Until then I'll proudly remain "utterly wrong". Peace ... or War!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Tan Man's battle plan for "full and honest debate"

Tip of the tam to Randi Rhodes (Air America has me lusting for an XM portable although I'm not springing until I'm certain they are durable and work here in the ridges and hollows of the Highlands) for the links that get us to Think Progress for a "Confidential Messaging Memo" on the Floor Debate on Iraq and the Global War on Terror from House Majority Leader John A. Boehner. There's plenty I'd like cover with John Boehner (I recall my Civics kids appreciating his name ... you pronounce as in "bane" ... enough to where they might have actually understood a little about the Majority Leader) yet I'll simply remind us that he's the bane of advanced learning, as he's deep in the pockets of the student loan industry. Due a whipping as well over NCLB, as are a few on the left! And I also wonder about the tan?

Here are some especially bothersome portions, and much bothers me so I'm giving you a large chunk, of this GOP cheat sheet:

It is imperative during this debate that we re-examine the conditions that required the United States to take military action in Afghanistan and Iraq in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The attacks we witnessed that day serve as a reminder of the dangers we face as a nation in a post-9/11 world. We can no longer expect oceans between us and our enemies to keep us safe. The plotting and planning taking place in terror camps protected by rogue regimes could no longer go unchecked or unchallenged. In a post-9/11 world, we could no longer allow despots and dictators like the Taliban and Saddam Hussein to ignore international sanctions and resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council.

So, during this debate we must make clear to the American people that the United States had to take action in the best interests of the security of our nation and the world community. As Republicans who supported military action against Saddam Hussein and terrorists around the globe, the United States had to show our resolve as the world's premier defender of freedom and liberty before such ideals were preyed upon, rather than after standing witness to their demise at the hands of our enemies

Great debate topics! Yet if they were really examined, with even GOP Rep. Walter "Freedom Fries" Jones of North Carolina accepting that you punked everybody with promises of a "full and honest debate", I'm thinking you guys, and regrettably a few Democrats as well, have some serious 'splaining to do. That the GOP still has the cajones (Or a understanding of how limited many of their constituents are?) to claim or even imply that Iraq had any connection to 9-11 is amazing. "Plotting and planning" is what this memo reveals the GOP is up to and once again Hussein had NO INVOLVEMENT in 9-11! I guess they may have accepted "Not all conservatives are stupid people yet most stupid people are conservatives!" as they are surely seem to be going for the stupid vote with this strategy. How many times is 9-11 mentioned. Sort of like when Dubyah said "freedom" or a variant so often during his last (Yeah!) swearing in.

"Show our resolve" or demonstrate how weak we really are? Because the way this Corporate and most importantly optional war in Iraq was carried out has shown how boots on the ground in foreign lands often simply doesn't work, especially when Rummy is determined to show how smart he is by ignoring RAND and professional soldiers on the numbers of boots needed.

That Bu$hCo has botched the operation of course is a given yet going back to the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) on Iraq many, on the left certainly as well as some on the right, believed this White House was going to show some measure of restraint and diplomacy. Many supported Dubyah then, although a few such as Russ Feingold were rightly reluctant to give him such a blank check, and now that his administration has demonstrated over and over their incompetence and radical nature a few are calling for answers to the many, many questions that remain.

Freedom and liberty are seriously threatened by this radical administration yet you certainly want to talk of enemies causing the demise of our ideals. Only because your President and this Rubber Stamp Congress has been the ones in charge during this response to 9-11 is this happening in Iraq. Given how this White House and Rubber Stamp Congress has trashed our laws and tradition, that the terrorist have scored at least a partial victory could be argued. Once again, Saddam Hussein was in no way, shape, form, or fashion involved in 9-11! He was effectively isolated. Given just a little more patience and diplomacy we could have truly liberated the Iraqi people as right now they've had about all the liberating they can stand.

Low grade civil war, Shia law, alliances with Iran's Shiites, hardly any electricity or infrastructure, very limited oil production, thousands of deaths, Abu Ghraid and Haditha and Gitmo and ..., women losing many of their rights, Green Zones, prisons controlled by Iraqi militias that are hardly above settling old scores, mercenaries for outsourcing of many security functions, Halliburton and other corporate profiteering, etc.

So Bu$hCo and his Neo-Cons wanted and made their war. Rich man's war and poor man's fight once again. As for your questions, bring it on! Let's call for real investigations and not settle for this political stunt. We are up to 2500 KIA just yesterday. I grieve for these men and women and their families. You bastards! You liars! You wrap yourself in the flag when flag covered coffins have been the result of this war of choice.

This debate in the House of Representatives gives our Republican Conference the opportunity to present the American people our case for strong national security policies whose purpose is to protect the nation against another attack on our own soil.

Similarly, we must conduct this debate as a portrait of contrasts between Republicans and Democrats with regard to one of the most important political issues of our era. Articulating and advocating our core principles will allow the American public to witness Members of Congress debate a fundamental question facing America's leaders:

In a post-9/11 world, do we confront dangerous regimes and the threat of terrorism with strength and resolve, or do we instead abandon our efforts against these threats in the hopes that they will just fade away on their own?

Republicans believe victory in Iraq will be an important blow to terrorism and the threat it poses around the world. Democrats, on the other hand, are prone to waver endlessly about the use of force to protect American ideals. Capitol Hill Democrats' only specific policy proposals are to concede defeat on the battlefield and instead, merely manage the threat of terrorism and the danger it poses.

These are troubling policies to embrace in a post-9/11 world. During this debate, we need to clarify just how wrong the Democrats' weak approach is and just how dangerous their implementation would be to both the short-term and long-term national security interests of the United States.

"Waver endlessly"? Is caution on killing a bad thing? Weak approach? "Use of force to protect American ideals" is fantasy. You hardly protect, or promote I'd add, "ideals" with military force you twit. PNAC and the neo-cons even realize this I think, now being better than never I guess. Confront dangerous regimes? Like the Somalia warlords we had been cozying up to and funding recently? Or the oil/resource rich repressive governments of the former Soviet Union located near Southwest Asia? What about the Saudi and Egyptian governments? Right now we've got an oil crunch and there is often a reverse correlation between oil prices and freedom in many of these areas. Your team isn't doing a real good job with the "freedom thing" yet we mostly know it is all cover for the failure to find WMD don't we. Yet I'm still not so sure if the PNAC's kewl kids would have figured some way into Iraq even without 9-11.

Your boy messed this Iraq thing up and Democrats, while scattered about as they are prone to do since they don't get their marching orders from Karl Rove, are simply seeking to make Iraq less of a disaster. That seeking of a better way is a bad thing shows us what the GOP is all about now I'd argue. Again, your guys and gals created this quagmire and yet you have the gall to now say critics that are seeking solutions are weak!

"Manage" the threat of terror is all anyone can do! This is geo-politics 101 and yet the American public, although in increasingly shrinking margins, continues to fall for the "fight them over there to keep from fighting them over here" line. Fighting terrorist in Iraq is simply because they are there now. Few were before the arrival of the US. Insurgents that want us to leave or pull back (or are fighting for control of Iraq or trying to make a living in an increasingly harsh locale or ...) are not really part of the so called GWOT and to suggest so is downright low. Tan Man, your folks have created generations of terrorists with their actions in Iraq and then also in Afghanistan by pulling down force levels too quickly to head off into the Persian Gulf. Don't even mention the consequences to the Treasury and how we'll be paying for the treatment, medical care, worn out equipment, ... for many years to come.

As a result of our efforts during this debate, Americans will recognize that on the issue of national security, they have a clear choice between a Republican Party aware of the stakes and dedicated to victory, versus a Democrat Party without a coherent national security policy that sheepishly dismisses the challenges America faces in a post- 9/11 world.
"Sheepishly dismisses the challenges America faces in the post-9-11 world"? Coherence at least has some grain of truth but remember we are the minority party. You guys don't do bi-partisan so don't start down that road. Your Bu$hCo militarism got us into Iraq, and although some realism is starting to creep into this administration over Iran and North Korea and Russia and India and Egypt and ..., the fact is this President and his whole team has not only squandered the good will and opportunities we had after the tragedy of 2001 but has damaged our ability to help lead the world in this post Cold War era.

Complexity isn't much for your team I know yet spinning this surely can't work. Bu$h has governed above the law and his arrogance knows no limits. His lack of intellectual curiosity and value of loyalty over competency is a given to any rational observer. With approval ratings for Team Bu$h steadily dropping down into the thirties I'd be scared as well. Many lefty folks intend to keep hammering on your President and your party of hubris until he/you are removed from the stage. It is time for the grown ups, even those few that remain on the right, to get back in control of the ship of state. It isn't personal John and W and Dick and Rummy and ... It's about the leadership and policies and the future.

But Tan Man we're stuck with Bu$h for now. If Democrats are smart they'll make this election about Dubyah and his Mayberry Machiavellians. Hopefully Democratic majorities in one or better yet both houses can slow down this White House enough to where we might manage with Bu$h these last two years. W has done enough damage and Americans have a clear choice indeed on enabling the GOP to continue running this nation into ruin. I think this "Win the GWOT" dog of a resolution won't hunt John. Americans, even as as poorly informed they are, are even realizing the emperor has no clothes ... even if the Rubber Stamp Congress refuses to cover his nakedness.

Let there be no doubt that America and its allies in the war in Iraq and the Global War on Terrorism face difficult challenges. The American people are understandably concerned about our mission in a post-Saddam Iraq. There have been many tough days since Iraq's liberation and transition to a sovereign democracy.

Democrats are all too eager to seize upon the challenges we face as their rationale or motivation for retreat. As Republicans, we understand the diplomatic and national security hazards of such a move. We must echo the American public's understanding of just how great the stakes are in Iraq and our long-term efforts to win the War on Terrorism.

Building democracies in a part of the world that has known nothing but tyranny and despotism is a difficult task. But achieving victory there and gaining democratic allies in the region will be the best gift of security we can give to future generations of Americans.

You gain allies by further screwing up a country that was already screwed up? Right? Am I missing something? Nothing but tyranny and despotism? Like the Saudi and UAE and Jordanian (I'm actually rather accepting of the Jordanian approach and believe that they are mostly strong allies in the region!) and ... leaders that we are bosum buddies with? "Crusade" doesn't really play that well in this region you know John so when we occupy land here you can imagine how dicey things get. Colonialism is also another nasty fact of how the Western world has exploited this land so if the average person in this neck of the woods isn't real happy to see our soldiers there seems to make a little sense.

"Retreat"? Who wants to retreat? I love how you guys are already gearing up for blaming the left or the media or ... for goofing things up in Iraq but this is the GOP's baby. As Powell is reported to have said, "You break it then you own it." yet Bu$hCo handed medals and/or promotions to the bunch that did most of the breaking. "All to eager ..."My gracious! We've bent over backwards to support this President, despite the many reservations we rightly had about this lightweight and his cabal. We, or at least most of the lefty set, choose to support the troops and most importantly the good of this nation and our world by looking for ways out of the wilderness.

Prediction/Analysis - After November's elections, Bu$h will be abandoned by the Corporate side of the GOP yet for right now you guys are trying a last ditch effort to save his/your hide. You have little to run on yet this "strength" and "fear" has always been your best pitch. You know if even one chamber flips then investigations can start up. And then, once Bu$hCo and you Rubber Stampers are out in the light, electing Republicans is going to be tough except in the reddest of red states. The whole memo reads to me as an effort to rally the troops for the last ditch effort to stave off chaos for your team if the Democrats can then actually have a "full and honest" debate. Hearings and subpoena powers I expect gives many ReThuglicans sleepless nights.

Your folks are on the ropes so I understand the idea of better circle the wagons. Send Dead Eye on with Vannity at Faux news. Of course Surly Sean didn't ask The Dick about the "last throes" or any of his other "about to turn the corner" talk. Provision the 101st Fighting Keyboardists and the 82nd Chairborne. I hear they like cheese puffs with their blogging points! Tune the Mighty Wurlitzer since this fall she's going to need to be perfect. Show the fundamentalist base a little heterosexual love. Stir up the paleos fear of the brown people with some immigration action. Flag burning is always something that can rally the patriots. Remind Diebold of the deal. Get the Swift Boaters in the water and fueled up. 527s need to locked and loaded. Even let Karl Rove, fresh from escaping (I'm going with him dropping on Dick for the time being as my theory) Irishman's noose it appears, talk of Jack Murtha and John Kerry, who saw hard combat unlike so many of the GOP team, talk of shirking duty when the bullets were flying long into the tough battles. That a whiny, titty-baby, fat ass, liar like Karl Rove can get up and go after these two warriors simply amazes me.

That's the GOP way it seems. Take your own weakness and then use it as a weapon by projecting the problem onto your opponent. Hardball politics that the DC Dems and their Consultant Class can't seem to work around yet will not confront. But to have your GOP controlled Congress engaging in a purely political "debate" that is essentially an election year stunt stagecrafted by Karl Rove and his minions simply floors me.

Worst administration ever! Worst Congress ever! Peace ... or War!

Update - afternoon of 6/16/06 - Tim Grieve of Salon's War Room gives us additional details of the gamesmanship of the ReThuglican "leadership" and how the votes came down.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

In search of ... A decent Progressive slogan?

While Russ Feingold has consistently proven he is a wise man in his understandings and always seeking answers to current concerns, his Progressive Patriot effort served up some serious ideas just today. I got an email that reads largely in part as follows:

Today is Flag Day, a day when we embrace our American heritage and salute the accomplishments of our forefathers. I think this is an appropriate time to begin a discussion of what it means to be a patriot in America today. For too long, our political leaders have wrapped themselves in the flag as a way to evade criticism and attack dissent. It's time we, as Progressive Patriots, celebrate the idea that love for your country means honoring the freedoms for which our founders fought, it means taking responsibility for improving our country, and it should always mean standing up to those who would weaken us.

I am a Progressive Patriot because I believe we can, and must, fight the terrorist threat while also protecting the freedoms that make us Americans. It's important to remember The Bill of Rights and the Constitution were not repealed on 9/11.

I am a Progressive Patriot because I believe that our health care crisis can not be solved with marginal ideas like health savings accounts. I believe all Americans should have a guarantee of access to quality, affordable health care.

I am a Progressive Patriot because I believe Democrats are the true fiscal conservatives who have demonstrated the ability to be responsible caretakers of public funds.

I am a Progressive Patriot because I believe that we need an "Apollo" style commitment to reducing our reliance on foreign oil and developing alternative energy sources.

Today's WaPo E.J. Dionne, Jr. piece entitled "In Search Of a New New Deal : How Will the Good Jobs Of the Future Be Created?" likewise spoke of the future. Dionne is generally always dead on in his thinking and writing. Good read! I especially liked this portion:
... Historically, voters turn away from conservative free-market politicians after they conclude that capitalism needs help in living up to its commitment to create widely shared abundance. After World War II, voters in rich countries entered a social democratic bargain in which capitalism became the bedrock of the economy but was tempered by a large public sector and a unionized industrial sector that provided social insurance, education, pensions and health care. ...
Finally, the Center for American Progress is holding a summer convention labeled "Take Back American 2006" for Lefty types. Although I'd have loved to go, and pondered long and hard about actually making the trip to DC, the budget simply doesn't allow such adventures. However, I can get nearly the same information by keeping wired in. It would have been nice to meet a few other folks motivated by the same or similar concerns that I have however. Still, I can find some measure of comfort in being able to access information from here in The Highlands. Today's favorite was Robert Redford dealing with The Apollo Challenge.

The bottom line is that we Lefty Progressives are always seeking. The New, New Deal is just a part yet I think I good start. Peace ... or War!

Monday, June 12, 2006

It is an Obligation! Rebuild/Maintain faith in American democracy by closely examining 2004 Presidential election!

I've previously posted on the work of Robert Kennedy, Jr. in Rolling Stone and then updated with criticisms raised by Fardah Manjoo of Salon. There has been a good deal of traffic around the blogosphere over the issues raised by these two men and I've been tempted to link to a few of what I took as the more relevant questions and comments. But today's Salon (again perhaps a mere ad to access under a "day pass" I think) gives us Steven F. Freeman, co-author of "Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count" space for "Illegitimate election : key source for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. responds to criticism of his analysis of the 2004 election" thay is certainly worth examining. While my eyes were glazing over I'm sure with some of the math and stats, I especially liked how the article closed:

I appreciate the efforts of Rolling Stone and Salon to bring this issue to public attention. Given the many transgressions and statistical improbabilities in the 2004 presidential election, we have an obligation to question it. And those responsible have an obligation to investigate.

Absence of scrutiny does not make a democracy function; democratic processes do. In the case of the 2004 presidential election, the absence of reporting on the election controversy has left the public highly suspicious. A Zogby Interactive online poll one month after the election revealed that 28.5 percent of respondents thought that questions about the accuracy of the official count in the election were "very valid," and another 14 percent thought that concerns were "somewhat valid." In other words, 42 percent of all Americans had immediate concerns about what had happened on Nov. 2, 2004. So long as the suspicions are left to fester, the role of elections to confer legitimacy on elected officials has already been lost.

I know 2000 ought to have gone to Al Gore, and wouldn't we be better off had it, yet 2004 seems even more questionable after looking at all of this material. I, like many on the left, don't claim to know for certain what may have happened, if anything. However, enough questions are out there that we need to examine the election process and lingering questions. While I agree with some lefty types that if we could win "big enough" it might not matter. Yet and still, the Right is solid enough on process and tactics to where I'm not confident that the Left can count on this coming to pass. Either way it goes, investigating the 2004 questions that remain ought to be done. The idea that the Exit Poll data is not being released is especially odd it seems.

If the Democrats can take even one Chamber this fall, investigations, on this and plenty more, ought to move forward. If not, minority members ought to hold hearing on their own and invite the majority to participate if they wish to add anything. While it is likely that the right's message machine will spin and grin the risk is worth it. If the American public has been punked then of course that will be a positive in pushing back where the right has taken us. You'd have thought after Nixon we have had enough? If explanations are there then we can maybe use to push for reforms to prevent or at least limit questions after many elections. And most of all it is of course an "obligation" that comes with the job. So get to work Congress. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Lefty Progressives - Win Ideas but Lose Message?

Tom Paine hands us "Why Democrats Lose" by Robert Parry which seems to tie in nicely to Kos and Armstong's Crashing the Gate which I've nearly polished off. I'll give you portions of what Mr. Parry wrote:

... Yet, it is this conservative messaging capability—in coordination with the Republican national political operation—that has proved decisive in election after election.

Given the clout and cruelty of the conservative news media—and the me-too conformity of the mainstream press—many Democratic officeholders feel that to be “taken seriously,” they must hedge or “triangulate” their views even between elections. That’s how they get onto the Sunday talk shows and are treated with “respect.”

On the other hand, Republicans harbor no similar fears and indeed seem to relish taking the fight to even mildly skeptical mainstream talk show hosts, who, in turn, must fear for their careers if they are targeted as “liberal” by angry and well-organized conservatives.

As conservatives keep building up their media infrastructure, Republicans exploit this advantage with an instantaneous message machine that keeps them plugged into their backers and the broader electorate. The GOP then puts into play a powerful wedge issue in the weeks before the election, and the missteps of the Democrats—no matter how minor—are blared out to voters.

Conversely, liberals and progressives continue to shun any major funding for media content and outlets. The Democratic consultants spend the bulk of available money on devising strategies to finesse the conservative dominance, mostly by filtering campaign “themes” through focus groups. Democrats then deploy ads that leave even their core supporters uninspired, and the candidates usually stumble to defeat.

Given the current media imbalance to the right, there is a desperate need to level the playing field by having more media outlets that present views more from the left side of the political spectrum. Liberals and progressives simply cannot count on the mainstream news media to act as a counterweight to conservative news outlets. That is not in the job description of mainstream journalists, who understand that their careers will be better served if they tilt right and avoid getting stuck with the “liberal” label.

Since 2004, the left has benefited somewhat from the creation of Air America Radio and the emergence of progressive talk stations around the country. But those cash-strapped start-ups never had the strong backing of wealthy liberals and thus have been forced to skimp on advertising and production of original news content.

Another problem was that wealthy liberals were listening to the same Democratic consultant class that had led the party to lose control of the entire U.S. government—from the White House to Congress to the courts. Like political candidates, wealthy liberals felt safer giving money to operations run by “credentialed” Democratic operatives.

Indeed the lefty progressives do need to tap into the media with a better message yet I'll also caution that "ours" is often genuinely "real" so less able to be distributed. Given the Kos Armstrong work I've knocked out the consultant class is hardly in good stead these days. Peace ... or War!