Thursday, January 31, 2008

Highlander of the Day ~ David Letterman

If I'm out of pocket later I'll be with Reza Aslan

If time and traffic allow I may try to get into Tacoma this evening to hear Reza Aslan at The University of Puget Sound. Details of his lecture are here. Looks promising. His No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam was well-received (reviews are here at Aslan's site although I suppose he'd not provide anything too negative) and if nothing else I'll try to track down a cope ... or perhaps even overcome my growing Scottish tendencies toward frugality and make a purchase. P/W

Madison County State Rep. Sue Schmitz Arrested

The feds have arrested Representative Sue Schmitz (D-Toney) in connection with the continuing Alabama's JuCo scandals. The four mail fraud and four just plain vanilla fraud counts to the indictment allege Ms. Schmitz failed to do much, if any, work on a $177,251 deal for "the Community Intensive Treatment for Youth Skills Training Consortium, or CITY program". If this is that outfit I guess they needed help with efforts "to coordinate community and external affairs for the CITY program". Brett Blackledge of the B'ham News had reported on Ms. Schmitz' questionable work way back in March. Note that she copied her responses when seemingly appropriately questioned to Dr. Paul Hubbert of AEA. Reckon why? P/W

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Outlander of the Day ~ King George Bu$h

David Swanson's State of Union Came With a Signing Statement says all I need to say. Good grief! The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage continues covering Dubyah's frequent use of signing statements. Across the pond The Guardian noted the signing statements yet most U.S. papers ignored. Please note the portions of the legislation Bu$hCo had trouble with. Reckon why? This latest stunt by King George is surely due some ink and time on the tube. P/W

Senator Russ Feingold on FISA and Bu$hCo SOTU

This is how you explain things. Seems pretty simple to me and I think it would to even Joe and Jill Sixpack. Also, RDF's response to Bu$hCo's last SOTU (Amen on it being his last one!) is done in his typically terrific manner. If the Democratic Party would get serious they'd indeed rely on Russ Feingold for much more. P/W

Highlanders of the Day ~ David Sirota and ...

My dearest friend asked me to explain Progressive vs. Liberal as we did our evening phone call, the best part of pretty much my every day. I fumbled about some with a decent effort but then told her I'd get back to her with a concise explanation. I'll let David take this one. (As a bonus I like how he scolds Senator Obama on one issue from back in 2005! Much more to learn grasshopper.)

Truly I thought of David Sirota even while I was trying to form my thoughts earlier this evening. He's been a frequent Highlander here and I'm a better soul for reading his work. Naomi Klein might be at the top of my list these days however.

Dkosopedia's Progressive entry is here and Liberal is here. Either surely beats nasty "hole in the head" conservatism although at times I've even admitted being a "Propservralist" as a blend of Progressive, Populist, Conservative, Liberal, and finally Pragmatist. P/W

Oprah Scares Texas Wingnut Mike Sutton

I always enjoy seeing Mike Sutton's LTEs in my hometown Randolph Leader. This week he goes off on Oprah into what is bizarro, even for poor Mike, territory. Her wealth and influence can only be explained by the supernatural. She's a hybrid of an evil John the Baptist and Rasputin. "Common and unlearned" Oprah's "sorcery can bring down a nation". Mercy Mike, in August of 2006 it was the United Nations was the threat yet I thought that War and the True and Living God would deliver us. Make up your mind please.

Unlike this past fall when he went after Hillary as "Hugo Chavez in a pantsuit" this seems to be mostly Mike's "thinking". Perhaps he built off Armstrong Williams' work? Mike commented on Armstrong's piece at least. Please note that Armstrong found a home, with Ronald Reagan's favorite newspaper no less, after his payola reporting of Bu$hCo No Child Left Behind propaganda. The right takes care of their own don't they. P/W

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

John and Mitt Left Chasing GOP Voters and Money

America's Mayor is out and The Huckster finishes 4th. Multiple Choice Mitt gets another silver and St. John wins the Sunshine State. I'll need some time to dig about before I can start to guess what this all means but in the meantime DHinMI claims McCain Broke, Must Win Florida, Turns to Lobbyists to Bail Out His Campaign. I like the idea of Mittster making McCain raise and spend money. Let St. John get those K-Street dollars and then remind the voters come fall. The Prince of Darkness thinks Mittster needed Florida and that these two will be trading body blows over the next week. The Huckster will count on the Bubbas and Bible Thumpers as he needs Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee next week. P/W

Outlanders of the Decade ~ Citizens, Media, Congress, and Bu$hCo

Sheryl Gay Stulberg of the NYT reports in her Bush, Facing Troubles, Focuses on War and Taxes of the SOTU. I must celebrate that this is his last one and to read of "only" 357 days left in his administration gives me some pleasure. There's still lots he and his can ruin but the end of the Reign of Error is near. Consequences will remain but hope springs eternal. The following however caught my eye:
“We have faced hard decisions about peace and war, rising competition in the world economy, and the health and welfare of our citizens,” Mr. Bush said. “These issues call for vigorous debate, and I think it’s fair to say we’ve answered that call. Yet history will record that amid our differences, we acted with purpose.”
Huh? I really don't recall much vigorous debate Dubyah. Indeed, you (and the Clinton and Daddy Bu$h and ... administrations for that matter) had plenty of hard decisions to make as the Cold War wound down. Congress was in the hands of your GOP and the Big Mules for the most part, even during the years of The Clenis. Our media was becoming increasingly consolidated and profit driven. Less reporting and more infotainment became the rule. The Republican message machine worked like a charm. Centrist weenies all too often spoke for or attempted to lead the Democratic Party. Our average "citizen" continued to be distracted and overwhelmingly ignorant. "Bread and games" in the form of cheap consumer goods bought on borrowed money and then used to entertain were the dominant modes. So many of us became bourgeois in the period of seeming prosperity. Yet poverty made a strong comeback during your seven years. Heck of a job. As for your adventurism in Iraq ... there's plenty of blame to go around but it begins and ends with your neo-conservative cabal.

I could go on and on here. But the bottom line is that we all are going to be judged harshly by history. If some of us will pick our collective selves off the mat and then courageously push forward perhaps that will reduce the shame. P/W

Highlander of the Day ~ James Fields

Chauncey Sparks told us at Doc's Political Party that this Fields vs. Wayne Willingham election was an important race up in Alabama House Distict 12 in Cullman. And The Cullman Times echoes some for the same themes of race and beyond. James Fields is an African-American Democrat running in Cullman County. Cullman being a "Sundown Town" some years back remains infamous. And guess what? James Fields wins in a "landslide". Well played sir! And a tip of the tam to Cullman County. Things do look dark and dreary for the GOP's plans to gain seats up on Goat Hill. P/W

Monday, January 28, 2008

Is Donald Rumsfeld's Tamiflu interest in jeopardy?

Poor Rummy. Lackluster sales, research indicating Tamiflu doesn't work against some rather regular strains of flu, and ... Rummy can likely afford to shed some wealth as he's rich as Roosevelt. Wonder what your buddy Uncle Milton Friedman would have to say about your losses? Then again he might want a nice little avian flu outbreak to clear up any confusion. P/W

St. John McCain is true Conservative on education

St. John might not be conservative enough for Big Fat Idiot and Hugh "come Cruise with Me" Hewitt and ... but he's got the mantra of competition and choice down pat when it comes to education. At the end of this regretfully loud and jumpy clip he says that many charter schools in his home state of Arizona have failed. He thinks this good as that's competition. There's nothing as to regrets for the students in the schools that didn't make it.

When the Club for Growth brags on you then I'd suggest you've made the cut. McCain might not please them in all areas but he's going to be close enough. And deals will be made to get sufficiently conservative people into his administration.

Movement conservatives and Friedmanites and ... were eager to use Hurricane Katrina as a "blank slate" to privatize NOLA's public schools plus advance other radical ideas. John McCain would apparently support that type of opportunism. Shame on them all. And haven't we had enough America? P/W

Outlander of the Day ~ Senator Barack Obama

Paul Rosenberg asks What If Obama Tried to Split The Right, Instead of the Left? and he even supplies alternative views of Ronald Reagan for the Senator to consider using next time. Truly I wish there were alternatives to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, or even John Edwards even though I've long supported him given this field. If on Russ or Al or ... were in the race.

At times Obama takes it to the right. Still, his belief that he'll be able to sit down with Big Pharma and Big Insurance to agree on a way forward on Health Care plus other efforts to appear bipartisan or moderate frustrates me. Jonathan Alter is just plain wrong but I'll not take time to follow the many paths I could. Populism might not win but Progressivism can! And please do follow the money for Senators Obama and Clinton from the insurance and drug corporations.

FYI, my post referencing the foolishness behind false claims that Barack Obama will not say the Pledge of Allegiance and/or sing the National Anthem ... plus the scandal that he, like several candidates, including some from God's Own Party, doesn't wear an American flag lapel pin ... gets lots of traffic. I suppose some people are searching for information. I just hope they don't get to a wingnut provocateur before I hopefully can show them the facts. Facts are indeed stubborn things, as The Gipper himself said. P/W

UPDATE - Evening of January 29, 2008 - When Cal Thomas praises you, as he did in the Alabama Daily of my youth The Anniston Star, then in my book something is very amiss.

Looking ahead a decade or more isn't any fun

Parag Khanna, pictured to the left, gives us Waving Goodbye to Hegemony which appeared in the The New York Times Magazine yesterday. I'm not a huge fan of The New America Foundation, his employer, as they are surely globalists. Still, they are plenty sharp. As Senior Research Fellow and Director for the Global Governance Initiative, Mr (soon to be Dr.) Khanna appears well qualified to look down the road. I worry about some of his perceptions and suggestions yet he offers much to ponder.

Jeffery Goldberg's After Iraq is in The Atlantic, another globalist (and at times rather neo-conservative) leaning periodical that I still often find compelling. And the fact they've dropped their subscriber wall is simply wonderful. Goldberg references David Fromkin's A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East which I've now added to my Amazon Wish List. I appreciate Goldberg's take on Southwest Asia. Again, lots to think about!

Both of these pieces, not to mention Dr. Fromkin's work, are long, tough slogs. And they don't distill easily into talking points or pithy postings. I'm better for reading what these two men shared. Where were these voices before Bu$hCo's adventurism into Iraq? P/W

Highlander of the Day ~ Oklahoma's Tom Coburn

Have I lost my mind? If my conservative family members drop by for radicalism from the black sheep, they, especially a niece's hubby whom I recall singing Coburn's praises at least once, might be pleased to see me looking at Tom in a positive light. Given his social conservatism and just plain oddness, it is indeed difficult for me to find much to like about the good doctor. "Locked, loaded, and loony" is how the NYT described him just this past August on one of his many roles as "Dr. No".

However, in Warren P. Strobel's reporting for McClatchy, namely Bush's plan for a Civilian Reserve Corps stalls, i learn that Senator Coburn has "blocked legislation permitting the State Department to spend the money" as he is "angered over the performance of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development in Iraq and Afghanistan and wants funds and responsibility to remain with the military."

Given The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, we'll take help anywhere we can get it. Careful Senator, The Heritage Foundation and similar outfits are watching. P/W

Naomi Klein writes on recession that is looming

Naomi Klein drops an op-ed into the LA Times yesterday that I'd like to share. Why the right loves a disaster: Ideologues use times of crisis as an opportunity to foist their economic policies on desperate societies says much. Disaster populism sounds a touch scary to me however. I'd settle for simple Progressive policy. Why the powers that be get the policies they want rather than our "leaders" delivering what regular folks need says much about both political parties. P/W

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Highlanders of the Day ~ BarbinMD and Kos and ...

BarbinMD has started on Daily Kos examining "serious, respected conservative intellectual" William Kristol where she looks at how incredibly often he's gotten stuff wrong. Her first pass at this Weekly Standard and Faux News hack plus PNAC neo-conservative is here and her second skewering is here. Well done! For more on William Kristol IRC's Right Web delivers. There's much ground to plow with this joker and with The Gray Lady putting him on their pages there's lots of plowing to be done. P/W
UPDATE - February 3, 2008 - Part III is up and dead on in showing this "serious, respected conservative intellectual" is pretty much a hack that can't get much right.

Outlander of the Day ~ Mary Katharine Ham

On CNN's Reliable Sources, barely reliable I'd offer given Mr. Kurtz, a young and certainly attractive talent on the right, namely Mary Katharine Ham, speaking of The Clenis, said:

... When he was president, he was not subjected to quite as much scrutiny, and I think he got a lot of passes, and now he's mad he's not getting them anymore. ...
Her HamNation YouTube effort is cute, as is she. Her work at TownHall sure looks like Wingnut Welfare ... but at least it provides a right winger that is easy on the eyes. Still, for her to suggest the Clinton got a pass, especially given the manner in which Shrub has been handled, is such foolishness that even her fans may wonder if she's not just getting by on her looks.

I also note that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Her father Jon Ham, an Auburn grad no less, now works with the John Locke Foundation. P/W

See Fred Barnes at Alabama Policy Institute Dinner

Fred "Beetle" Barnes will be in Mobile for the Alabama Policy Institute Dinner on February 28th. For a mere $175.00 you can hear his wisdom yet shelling out thousands will get you the full package. That API and their type finds a Bu$hCo loyalist and Faux News hack like Fred Barnes a draw reveals much. His book and entire gig is to deliver the GOP talking points so don't expect much for your dollars. Plus, you can always just go The Weekly Standard and get all the Barnes you can stomach.

I hope the Alabama press will be able to drop by for Barnes and other facets of this meeting. Gary Palmer and his API crew get plenty of ink in our papers so it would seem fair that the media will be able to cover the event. P/W

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ralph Nader Slams Clinton Administration

Ralph Nader speaks the truth about the man from Hope and opportunities lost in his administration. Although Bu$hCo makes the Clenis look good, Bill was clearly a right-leaning centrist at best. Nader writes:

... The Clinton Administration actively championed ... further entrenched corporate power over our economy and government during the decade. He pushed through Congress the NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements that represented the greatest surrender in our history of local, state and national sovereignty to an autocratic, secretive system of transnational governance. This system subordinated workers, consumers and the environment to the supremacy of
globalized commerce.

... Between 1996 and 2000, he drove legislation through Congress that concentrated more power in the hands of giant agribusiness, large telecommunications companies and the biggest jackpot-opening the doors to gigantic mergers in the financial industry. The latter so-called “financial modernization law” sowed the permissive seeds for taking vast financial risks with other peoples’ money (ie. pensioners and
investors) that is now shaking the economy to recession.

The man who pulled off this demolition of regulatory experience from the lessons of the Great Depression was Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, who went to work for Citigroup-the main pusher of this oligopolistic coup-just before the bill passed and made himself $40 million for a few months of consulting in that same year.

Bill Clinton’s presidential resume was full of favors for the rich and powerful. Corporate welfare subsidies, handouts and giveaways flourished, including subsidizing the Big Three Auto companies for a phony research partnership while indicating there would be no new fuel efficiency regulations while he was President.

His regulatory agencies were anesthetized. ...

By reappointing avid Republican Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, Mr. Clinton assured no attention would be paid to the visible precursors of what is now the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Mr. Greenspan, declined to use his regulatory authority and repeatedly showed that he almost never saw a risky financial instrument he couldn’t justify.

Mr. Clinton was so fearful of taking on Orrin Hatch, the Republican Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that he cleared most judicial appointments with the Utah Senator.

To justify his invasion of Iraq, Bush regularly referred in 2002-2003 to Clinton’s bombing of Iraq and making “regime change” explicit U.S. policy.

But it was Clinton’s insistence on UN-backed economic sanctions in contrast to just military embargoes, against Iraq, during his term in office. These sanctions on civilians, a task force of leading American physicians estimated, took half a million Iraqi children’s lives. ...

Needless to say, Secretary Rubin and his Wall Street buddies are behind Hillary this cycle. Of course, Obama seems equally and perhaps even more centrist. Can we afford another eight years of corporatism? P/W

Highlander of the Day ~ WA Senator Karen Keiser

David Sirota informs us of Washington State Senator Karen Keiser's efforts to bring affordable and effective health care to at least Washington State. How sensible it sounds. So naturally chances of it becoming law are slim. Senator Keiser's participation in an online forum soliciting comments on health care as reported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer 's Monica Guzman is yet another reason she is due a tip of the tam. P/W

Dubyah is headed to The Big D next year!

Having spent some time in Dallas-Fort Worth through the years I can only offer my deepest sympathies. I couldn't help but think of Dick's Last Resort upon learning the news. The Librarian will be happy there. If not ... there's always her smokes and Xanex. Cedar trees and other brush plus big bass back on Bu$hCo's photo-op ranchette are celebrating with much Shiner Bock and beef brisket this evening. Come next January I'll join you. P/W

Bu$h & GOP ~ There's profits in them there roads

Ginny MacDonald of the B'ham News reports U.S. Transportation Secretary supports Alabama toll roads. I'm shocked, shocked! Bu$hCo has continued the right's efforts to privatize everything from making war to educating our children to Social Security to ... so taking road building and the like that way fits. Friedmanites gone wild!

Governor Riley and Secretary Mary Peters plus her PR professional Brian Brian Turmail are quoted extensively. Did Ms. MacDonald go beyond simple stenography here?

For an alternative view on the options for the state, not to mention the possible reasons for Bu$hCo and the other Corporatists to want to go the privatization route, Daniel Schulman's Highway Privatization: "This Is All About Money" in Mother Jones is a good place to begin. Secretary Peters, drawing fire for her bike bashing and other bullheaded responses to the I-35 bridge collapse up in Minnesota early in her tenure, has settled down as she continues following the right-wing agenda of cutting taxes on (but also providing profit making opportunities for!) the wealthy.

Less than a year left for Dubyah but with Governor Riley in place and other Unreconstructed Reaganites down here in Alabama I do fear what damage they can do. Even more privatizing of roads and the like will impact our state and region for generations. Furthermore, locking down our future options in corporate contracts seems rather scary to this Progressive. Truly this story needed some additional perspectives that Ms. MacDonald failed to supply. Perhaps she was unable to simply as to space restriction and then again it could be from the culture of her employer. The Newhouse family would be pleased with her work I'm betting but I'm not sure Alabama is being well-served with reading only the right wing approach to the issue.

Here's what I'll try to do in thirty or so minutes ... Reckon why Reason Foundation is nearly orgasmic about the appointment of Mary Peters to DOT? Could it be that they are bought and paid for by the privatization profiteers? SourceWatch, Media Transparency, and finally Political Friendster helps connect the dots, or more accurately, the dollars. The Anniston Star allowed Billy Norrell of the Alabama Road Builders Association space to point out his groups concerns over privatization taking dollars away from other projects just a few days ago. Yet, the Road Builders Association is hardly without their own agenda. He in fact writes that his members will "eagerly partner" up to get those projects done.

As an aside, I'd like to have seen some coverage on why exactly Ms. Peters is down here in Alabama to fight against an increase in the federal highway tax. I'm not buying that she was here for anything beyond cheerleading for Governor Riley's roll out but perhaps so. To ask how a clear need for more funding is twisted into an opportunity to rail against the inefficiencies of government seems reasonable. To follow the right wing line on taxes is par for the course yet to deliver profits to the markets as they do this is always something to behold. They are always looking for opportunities to advance movement conservatism aren't they?

To be fair to Ms. MacDonald, the coverage around the state hasn't exactly provided much better than what she delivered. The Montgomery Advertiser has Secretary Peters saying, "Taking even more money out of Alabama will not save commuters even one minute. ... We can give commuters the power to pursue new projects, and we can do that without taking money out of this region and sending it to Washington." Won't the profits realized leave the region in most cases, especially if out of state and/or foreign entities are involved? And what of foreign or even multi-national firms owning critical infrastructure being fraught with risks?

Also, "Peters said toll roads in other states have not led to economic segregation, where affluent people use the new toll roads and poor people stay on the old, free routes." appears in Phillip Rawls reporting. Are they really free routes Mary? Aren't they an investment in infrastructure that our government makes? If they are built with taxpayer money then shouldn't every taxpayer get to use them? Why should anyone be able to make a profit on such an essential? Getting from point A to point B in a relatively quick and effective way is critical, even and perhaps especially so for poor people. This is especially true when in an area where public transportation is lacking.

Perhaps this road building is indeed a "critical" need but can't we go with another less radical route? I sense tactics used by Disaster Capitalists all too often. Stir up some fear and then offer a way to soothe the pain. The Korean cars will not roll off the lines and into the stream of commerce quickly enough! Wealthy trophy wives in Montgomery and Birmingham suburbs will be bothered as they are delayed in traveling from the prime shopping locations to the private schools! And you'll never get back from the condo on the beach on time Alabama swells! But I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.

How long has Bob Riley been Governor? Could he have not gotten started on this earlier? Nice touch Governor blaming the "federal government". He's your President Bob. Your party has had control for decades. (No, Progressives don't count Bill Clinton!) Bu$hCo cut taxes and spent what looked like even a surplus on the neo-conservatives adventurism in Iraq. Of course Naomi Klein makes a very persuasive argument that profiteering drove that effort as well. So because your political party starves governments, not yet to the level for movement conservative Grover Norquist to drown in the bathtub perhaps, the solution is to deliver profit making opportunities for privatization providers? Isn't that really what you are saying?

What about urban planning? Public transportation? Less sprawl? HOV lanes? Carpooling? Silly Progressive, where's the profit in that? WSFA even has a primer on how to get a piece of the action from up on their site. They suggest, "Businesses that want a piece of the action should be proactive. Get close to local governments so you're ready when projects are put out for local bid. But you don't need to wait. If you see a need, make your pitch to a city manager, a city council or a state representative."

I've searched for negative coverage of the privatization push. No luck so far, from any journalist at least. This past fall Guy Thompson, apparently just a regular guy concerned about his world, asked Alabama newspapers to do some digging on the issue so that a full policy debate could more easily occur. Who was he kidding! P/W

UPDATE - Evening of January 29, 2008 - A tip of the tam to The Anniston Star for thoughtful commentary on this issue. I've yet to hear from Ms. MacDonald even though I emailed her the post. Nothing yet from any other media sources that I've been able to find. I'd have expected The Star, an consistently Progressive paper, to have voiced much stronger concerns over "privatization" plus that the poor will perhaps have to get by with second class or worse options but at least they pointed out multiple views, contrary to Ms. MacDonald's "reporting".

Outlander of the Day ~ "Pastor" Rod Parsley

This morning I heard Sarah Posner on Bob Edwards talking of her new work God's Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters. As she explained the many outrages of "prosperity gospel" preachers getting the "first fruits" of often poor and/or ignorant folks so that these hucksters can live high on the hog, she mentioned Paul Crouch and his Trinity Broadcasting Network. A portion of Ms. Posner's book may be read here. Also, Max Blumenthal can bring you up to speed on Mr. Crouch rather quickly. Despite allegation of homosexual sex and fleecing the flock, Ms. Posner indicated Paul and Jan Crouch are still living large.

Sarah might have mentioned Rod Parsley of World Covenant Church up in Columbus, Ohio yet I knew of this outlander already. A mega-church indeed yet Parsley also has his Breakthrough effort broadcast across the globe via TBN and other outlets. Jews on First can tell us plenty about Parsley and other "ministers" up in Ohio. "Pastor" Russell Johnson's Ohio Reformation Project for instance is noted for his support of Bu$hCo and general radicalism. But for Ohio, where Ohio's Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell helped seal the deal, we'd have long ago returned Dubyah to the "ranch".

Perhaps we sgould just ignore operators like Parsley and others on the right yet I feel joining issue with them is defensible. If Progressives hope to restore balance and hope to this nation and beyond they've got to go after false prophets I'd argue. Thoughts? P/W

Captain Plaid ~ Politicking back in the day

Who is this old man with the gray beard? I pretty much looked like hell in the second clip. I worked 75-80 hours each and every week from Labor Day to the election in the McNerney campaign and was totally trashed once back in Milwaukee for a brief period. P/W

Friday, January 25, 2008

Davos Men ~ Let the blames begin!

As to the recent meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Davos Men were likely feeling rather shaken given the economic picture in the U.S. and beyond. Julian Glover's piece in The Guardian seemed to sum up much about Davos. Iraq and Iran and ... likely also cast a pale over over the events. Homo Balcanicus is still out there after all. I'm sure however that the swells soldiered on in many respects.

Bill Gates wants to make capitalism creative. Declan McCullagh of CNet doesn't approve. Larry Elliot of The Guardian labels George Soros the "Poacher turned Gameskeeper" for his work and thoughts. Bono and Al Gore made the scene. The UK's PM Gordon Brown laments that there has not been enough globalization.

This intersection of politics and capital which represents pure unadulterated power is representative of the modern world. Davos Man might be needing to lay low or at least go on the down low by pretending to give a damn. As for when or if he'll be back, I'd not bet against the house. P/W

Outlander of the Day ~ HUD's Alphonso Jackson

Heck of a job Alphonso? Mike Stuckey of MSNBC reports Feds OK Mississippi's Katrina grant diversion: $600 million from housing program approved for huge port expansion.

Lewis Wallace via In These Times has written on the way HUD has treated poor NOLA residents. Jackson has proven to be perfect for this very worst administration. He actually admitted punishing those that disliked Dubyah, then claimed this merely anecdotal, and finally was nailed by an internal probe. He's under investigation even now. Several HUD officials have packed their bags during this investigation. Why Secretary Jackson hasn't resigned or been forced out is beyond me.

Actually, I guess the reason for this post explains why. Jackson must support or at least be willing to do as told on the Friedmanite philosophy that makes up" Disaster Capitalism" (A clean slate with taxpayers often paying for private profits for the privileged few.) that often seems to be the Bu$hCo bottom line. P/W

Highlanders of the Day - The Sierra Club and ...

A very clever effort from the Sierra Club and League of Conservations Voters over the medias failure to pose questions on global warming to those seeking the White House. P/W

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dennis Kucinich to drop out of Presidential race

Dennis Kucinich, pictured with his lovely bride, will apparently drop out of the 2008 Presidential race as he's facing a challenge in his own Congressional District in Ohio. Suzanne Goldenberg of The Guardian supplies the news. I hate to see him leave as his message was one that surely needed telling. Of course at times times they didn't let him do the telling. Representative Kucinich suggests those that are funding his opponents are corporate funded. Reckon why they don't like Dennis? At least Elizabeth does. P/W

Outlanders of the Day ~ Paul Wolfowitz and ...

Old neo-conservatives never die, they just ... After spreading disaster (Disaster Capitalism?) in Iraq, then leading the World Bank while obtaining some sweet terms for his sweetie Shaha Riza, Paul Wolfowitz did some rehab with (surprise, surprise)American Enterprise Institute. In the tank no more however as Wolfie's back in the saddle with Bu$hCo.

Wolfowitz will lead State's International Security Advisory Board, which is "charged with supplying independent advice on arms control, disarmament, nonproliferation and related subjects" according to AP/MSNBC. Info on Paul Wolfowitz may be found here, here, here and ... Naturally they want him back!

Perhaps his appointment will at least provide yet another opportunity to educate the masses on what is really going on in DC and the world with the huge multi-national and other predatory profiteers running the show. Appointing this operator certainly sends a signal to the world that Washington doesn't give one damn about peace and progress as they really want profits for the privileged. P/W

Highlander of the Day ~ Mark Pera of Illinois 3rd CD

Mark Pera is posed to knock off Dan Lipinski in the Illinois 3rd Congressional District race. Dan and Dubyah are apparently BFF and Mark is making sure the primary voters know it. Act Blue and others from Progressive organizations are helping Mark out. Details on the many differences of these candidates appear from Robert Naiman on HuffPo. Coverage of the race comes from Abdon M. Pallasch of the Chicago Sun-Times. Show Mark some love if you can spare some dollars and/or time. P/W

Former Alabama JuCo Chancellor to Name Names!

Although I worry whenever the Bu$hCo Justice Department swings into action, I 'fess up that I'm pleased to learn Roy Johnson, formerly President of Southern Union Community College and later Chancellor of the whole Junior College system in the state, is poised to plead to various and sundy crimes. And he's going to talk. Liquor sales in Montgomery soar. The criminal bar's phones are jammed. Oh the schadenfreude!

Johnson's tale is perhaps representative of how Alabama works and I've been on his case for some time. Brett Blackledge's work is however an equally fine example of how journalism ought to afflict the powerful. He'll likely have plenty more to write on. And apparently he has at least one and likely more well-placed sources in the U.S. Attorney's office. P/W

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Highlander of the Day ~ Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald, possibly behind Salon's subscription wall yet all you need to do is watch the damn ad, delivers up another solid examination of the FISA fight with his Your Harry Reid-led Senate in action piece from today. Glenn is right to condemn Dirty Harry for much yet the idea that Senators need to get to Davos is especially bothersome given my recent time with the amazing Naomi Klein.

Also, Elana Schor appears in The Guardian with another examination of this mess. Dead Eye Dick appeared before his/their Heritage Foundation just today "speaking to a room filled with folks who mostly agree with him rather than venturing forth to talk to those who don't" on the FISA legislation. TPMCafe lets Steve Clemons explain.

Cowboy up Harry! Grow some! Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold and ... will always be welcomed in the Highlands for their courage and leadership on FISA and other issues. P/W

Damn Editors

I'd taken the time (I gain respect for those limited by space whenever I try the format!) to craft a Letter to the Editor to my hometown paper just recently in a response to a Column from Gary Palmer of the Alabama Policy Institute. This was in addition to a previous post on Palmer's Alabama Policy Institute effort to discredit public education.

The Leader chose a title for the LTE, namely "Conservatism seeks to end public education", that I think goes too far. Surely plenty of opportunists do. Profiteers for privatization added to movement conservatives to libertarians working with bible thumpers wanting vouchers who then find like cause with ... makes that at least partially true. however, some conservatives don't want to end public education.

The Leader leave off the following from what I sent them:

Palmer is on “Wingnut Welfare”. API gets ink into papers across Alabama rather often. API is “dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families.” They symbolize the right’s "think tank" or "policy shop" efforts to create seemingly legitimate information and then get the message to the masses. To gather a tax deduction while promoting their glorious cause of movement conservatism is doubly useful for wealthy true believers.

API is funded by some of the usual suspects like Bradley Foundation money. The Jaquelin Hume Foundation also helps pays the bills.. The Humes are so "free" market oriented that their “Foundation for Teaching Economics” will twist the Civil Rights Movement so that “economic incentives” become celebrated. The Hume family took Reagan from a b-list actor and paid GE shill to Sacramento and DC.

I was under five hundred words. Why'd they need to drop these words? I think people reading The Leader ought to know what is being passed off from a partisan outfit as legitimate is actually bought and paid for. That The Leader runs Palmer's words of wisdom as a "Column" is bad enough yet to now silence me on a LTE bothers me greatly. Any suggestions? P/W

Outlanders of the Day ~ Colin Powell and ...

A dear friend recently talked with me of how impressed she was with Colin Powell from one of his recently Sunday morning appearances. I reminded her of his role in Bu$hCo's selling of their Iraq policy. Used, abused, confused ..., Secretary Powell was a voice that was as critical as any. Some reasonable folks that remained skeptical were possibly brought over to supporting Bu$hCo's aggressive approach because Colin Powell uttered those infamous words to the United Nations. A "blot" General? I can accept that Colin Powell was a "reluctant warrior". As for the above ...

The Center for Public Integrity has just released Iraq - The War Card: Orchestrated Deception on the Path to War. I've yet to dive into the work. It appears solid from a first pass. The Center for Public Integrity, and their The Fund for Independence in Journalism, are efforts that seems very legitimate. The Fund is a a 509 (a)(3) nonprofit, tax exempt organization yet we've seen on the right abuses of similarly charitable efforts. I noted The Streisand Foundation is one of their donors so I suppose that will be enough for some on the right to discredit their work. That's unfortunate and yet perhaps an opportunity.

One could hardly accuse the average "Hollywood liberal" of operating in a stealthy fashion. One could allege this about a fair number of "movement conservative" foundations. Also, there is good, even stellar, research and then there's "scholarship" that is worthy of immediate dismissal. Contrast and compare if and when you get the rare opportunity to engage a reasonable right winger. Use framing and simple requests to consider looking further. We'll pick off a few or at least slow them down.

As to this Iraq War Card work, I expect most people will find it compelling and defensible, if not conclusive and complete. There's more to keyboard yet I'll move along. Understanding how this debacle occurred is critical and there's blame for us all. P/W

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Outlander of the Day ~ Chauncey Sparks

I'll continue speaking, or more accurately keyboarding, ill of the dead. I called out Uncle Milton Friedman recently and then I put a clip of The Gipper up talking to us from his just reward. Chauncey Sparks, who died in 1968, remarkably drops by Doc's to offer his thoughts on the Democratic Primary in Alabama. I head to the Political Parlor first thing on most days and yet I must take exception to Mr. Sparks on this occasion.

Since I lived in Barbour County for a brief period as a teen I know some of Governor Sparks yet I don't have Dr. Flynt's books handy enough to be certain of his politics. As the "Barbour County Bourbon", with some other information in the state archives being considered, I'm guessing Sparks was the "business progressive" type that we elect so often in Alabama. Maybe that explains his position? And much of what he offers might be true, at least as applies to this election.

However, I must scold the Governor for not considering the long view in the restoration of balance to not only Alabama but beyond. As Chauncey admits there's not much difference between Hillary and Obama. Hillary might be a bit more hawkish on Iraq and beyond. They are certainly centrists. Both are very sympathetic to Wall Street and others in the business community. Neither offers a Progressive or Liberal orientation for our nation. Governor Sparks is wanting us to play the game on the GOP's turf I fear. We fear how they'll be unified over Hillary Clinton yet I see an opportunity to teach Joe and Jill Sixpack how they've been used and abused by the GOP these last thirty or so years.

Governor Sparks mentions how the GOP was divided before electing Reagan. I'd argue that going back to Goldwater in 1964, and perhaps even earlier, certain powers on the right were always planning ahead of how to redeem the radical views of Barry and his backers that scared the hell out of many Americans. The Southern Strategy of Nixon, borrowing liberally (pardon the pun) from another Barbour County Governor's "Politics of Rage", plus the effective use of "White Backlash" and "Law and Order", set up the GOP for success for three decades. I become more and more certain that the right's ability to take a strategic view is one of their foundational strengths. "Movement Conservatism", if nothing else, is always looking beyond the immediate horizon.

I've blogged on the willingness of Alabama Democratic party "leaders" to default to Republican Lite and/or accept the right's framing before (here, here, here, and here for instance) yet I don't understand why Alabama Democrats need to seek "distance" from those on the national stage. I get frustrated with Harry Reid or Rham Emanuel or ... for acting like centrist weenies as they engage in Chaunceyesque calculations yet I digress. Quit letting the right define us! And if Chauncey thinks Hillary or Obama will lose the state then why not use this 2008 race as a way to define our party for a change? With things as bad as they are with Iraq and the economy and ..., especially if the GOP goes with a second tier candidate to true believer social and/or fiscal conservatives, I can't imagine getting a better opportunity to engage in some jujitsu politics. Let them come after us and then beat the BS out of them! P/W

UPDATE - Early (I literally had trouble sleeping last night due to a combination of Chauncey and Naomi Klein.) on January 23, 2008 - I've tweaked this post and now taken the opportunity to read some comments from Doc's. I was heartened to see some support for John Edwards as I think he could do very well in Alabama as populism works here. Absent some strong juju this fall, Alabama will vote for the GOP candidate of choice. Perhaps the bible thumpers and other variants of those "values voters" on the right would be more likely to participate if Hillary were on the ticket for the Democratic Party. Add in some sexism and others will turn out to vote against a woman. Then again, I expect some racists will turn out to vote against Obama. I could analyze the possibilities to death but will close. I know what Progressivism and Liberalism means to me. I can explain that better than try to fit my beliefs to the views of potential voters. I surely don't change many minds by trying to cobble my thinking into a variant of a right wing world view. My hope is that Alabama Democratic Party "leaders" will finally take the long view in rebuilding viability for the party and use this perfect opportunity to break from their usual Republican Lite model.

Highlander of the Day ~ Timothy Masters

Yet another prisoner, this one not facing the death penalty, was released today due to DNA evidence. Timothy Masters was merely fifteen when the murder of Peggy Hettrick, 37, occurred. Twelve years passed before he was charged and convicted. The "evidence" against him was circumstantial plus it appears certain Colorado prosecutors and police didn't play fair at his trial. Timothy spent nine years behind bars.

CNN's reporting is as good as I've found on this event. They have a video that shocked me of Timothy being questioned when he was a kid. However, the Denver Post has a video summary of the case that was so very impressive.

Congrats Timothy. Sue the bastards! P/W

Heck of a job Bu$hie with that diplomacy thing

Even third century cults like the Manicheans can apparently be insulted with their alleged role in the Bu$h brain. Professor Daniel W. Drezner, a libertarian Republican according to his own blog, appears in Newsweek with Projecting Power: The competitive race for president may help repair the damage to America's image abroad, even before George Bush leaves office. I'm not sure I'll accept all he suggests about the race but I like the following:
It's a truism among foreign policy wonks that during the Bush administration America has seen an erosion of its ability to persuade other countries to do what it wants them to do. The unilateralism, the blunders in the Middle East, and the Manichean view of the rest of the world have been so off-putting that, as poll after poll shows, the attitudes of people in other countries toward the United States have declined precipitously.

I suppose that sums up much as to this very worst administration. Also, I couldn't help but note the recent resignation of one of Bu$hCo's top diplomats involved in Iran. I found the following comment in a Pakistan source regarding the resignation of Bu$hCo's #3 State Department official Nicholas Burns:
With 26 years of experience with both Republican and Democratic administrations, Mr Burns will be an asset for a private firm. Staying out of the Bush administration for an entire year will also make him more acceptable to the new administration.
Looks like the Pakistanis have figured it out that it is all about the Benjamins. Is Disaster Capitalism at work here given Mr. Burns' bio? P/W

Monday, January 21, 2008

Jon Stewart Interviews Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Golberg is a gigantic tool. He has apparently written a book he simply can't explain. Can anyone? David Neiwert comes as close to anyone I'd bet. P/W

Outlanders of the Day ~ Media Merchants of Trivia

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone serves up Merchants of Trivia: Why do the media insist on reducing one of the most exciting presidential primary seasons in American history to a simple horse race? and I give it a big thumbs up. Why indeed? It is complex but involves a combination of corporate ownership, stupid citizens, profits in the face of tight margins, manipulation of message, herd mentality, laziness of the public and press, ... yet even all that can't explain why media coverage of this primary race, the most wide open in years, has been so devoid of policy discussions and comparisons. If not in 2008, will this ever occur? P/W

NYT's Michael Gordon & Dr. Andrew Bacevich weigh in on Iraq Quagmire

Generally supporting Bu$hCo, even nearing Judith Miller levels of "journalism", The Gray Lady's Chief Military Correspondent Michael Gordon has a new piece, namely War, Meet the 2008 Campaign, that troubles me. In the WaPo you'll find Andrew J. Bacevich, an academic, conservative, and the parent of a soldier killed in Iraq. Professor Bacevich's Surge to Nowhere is solid on its own yet to have it to compare to Gordon's is fortunate. I'm not sure any soldier would like to be placed or kept in harms way by politicians being graded between a D-minus and an F-plus. P/W

Highlander of the Day ~ Dr. Martin Luther King

Could it be anyone else today? Don't forget his legacy goes way beyond race. The full measure of his work also involved poverty, peace, class, ... AP via MSNBC reports Tributes to MLK tend to ignore his complexity: Historians say King was far from revered as he pushed activism beyond race. Professor Harvard Sitkoff, one of the academics cited by the AP, has a new work on Dr. King which seems like a solid addition to the scholarship. P/W

Sunday, January 20, 2008

John Edwards Very Worst Weekend

Nevada let John Edwards down this weekend. He'd been out front for Labor long before this caucus period and I expected him to gather more support. John better hope what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Thinking is that South Carolina will be his last stand and it will be a shame if he drops out this early. Also, Senator Fiengold is correct in pointing out that John is running on the voting record that Russ has demonstrated but that when John was in the Senate he didn't vote that way.

If only we had RDF as a candidate. Backbone and then some! I worry that he, like John Edwards, might not get a fair shake from the media in their fixation on HRC vs BHO yet Russ and his staff would be savvy enough to run a smart and assertive campaign. Russ would have had some serious grassroots support and by jingoes we'd have made a full out effort. He'll get his shot I hope one day and in the meanwhile our nation is lucky to have him in DC.

I'll lean to Hillary I suppose if John Edwards folds but perhaps Dennis Kucinich could actually earn my support. His bride is a Brit yet she's lovely and a class act with her work in peace and justice. The campaign website has a "take the test" tool that is clever. Obama will certainly do yet both he and Hillary are far too centrist for my taste. Either should be able to beat St. John or Multiple Choice Mitt or the Huckster or ... yet I know the GOP is far better at running a campaign than a country. P/W

"Economic Collapse" or "Investment Opportunity"?

Peter S. Goodman and Louise Story appear in the Gray Lady with Overseas Investors Buy Aggressively in U.S. and I'm immediately wondering what would Naomi Klein have to offer on this news. I continue to be amazed at how her work is influencing my thinking.

Looks like the shoe is on the other foot now in some respects. That "sovereign wealth funds" are saving the day for Wall Street banks seems about par for the course. Market capitalism meets state capitalism? Reckon Joe and Jill Sixpack will hear much about this in the campaigns for the White House and Congress? Unfortunately, I expect neither party to have much to say. Surely the GOP will play their usual "fear the foreign" angles yet I think they'll be talking in code, if not explicitly, of the brown people.

The close from Goodman and Story is as follows:

... But even if political tension increases, so will the flow of foreign money, some analysts say, for the simple reason that businesses need it.

“The forces sucking in this capital are much bigger than the political forces,” said Mr. Garten, the Yale trade expert. “If there is a big controversy, it will be between Washington on the one hand and corporate America on the other. In that contest, the financiers and the businessmen are going to win, as they always do.”

Corporate American is different that Washington? Would that it were. And again I'll remind us that the many multi-nationals we have now truly blur the line between being "American" or "Foreign" owned. What a complicated time we live in. P/W

Here's a great effort for Don Siegelman

Back in the day I'd get regular holiday cards from the Siegelman family and recall Dana, pictured with Lori and Don to the left, as a child. I feel even older than normal seeing this image. She's a lovely young woman. I'm sure her parents are proud of her.

Away from my own son and other loved ones, through my own decision to serve my country, as contrasted with what Don suffered as our country's judicial system was used for seemingly political purposes, I can't help but think about what Don is missing. Again, I wasn't always pleased with "The Don" but from what I've learned the cases seem weak and should have never wound up in court. "Relatively" guilty isn't justice! Don is clearly entitled to be released as his appeals wind their way through our system.

However, resources like this from Friends of Don Siegelman 2007 help me think some measure of justice may come from this mess. I'll hope it arrives sooner rather than later. I saw a Doss Aviation truck out here at Fort Lewis just the other day and got a combination of queasy and angry as I thought of Judge Mark Fuller.

Hang in there Siegelmans! P/W

Highlanders of the Day ~ Al and Tipper Gore

I'd missed Going After Gore by Evgenia Peretz in Vanity Fair. Infantry training at Fort Benning is my excuse. At least I now have some time to start catching up. Yet I truly miss "home" and loved ones back in Alabama. Al Gore's Attack on Reason is on my desk ready to read. Ms. Peretz writes:

Eight years ago, in the bastions of the "liberal media" that were supposed to love Gore—The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, CNN—he was variously described as "repellent," "delusional," a vote-rigger, a man who "lies like a rug," "Pinocchio." Eric Pooley, who covered him for Time magazine, says, "He brought out the creative-writing student in so many reporters.… Everybody kind of let loose on the guy."

How did this happen? Was the right-wing attack machine so effective that it overwhelmed all competing messages? Was Gore's communications team outrageously inept? Were the liberal elite bending over backward to prove they weren't so liberal?

I know Al and Tipper Gore deserved better, as did our nation. Imagine exchanging these two for Dubyah and the Librarian. How different our world might be. This examination is also important for the current campaigns out there. We need to get it right, or at least a reasonable facsimile to right, this time. I'd like to have other options than those candidates we'll likely have to replace Bu$hCo but at least "the folksy Texas rogue" will be back on "the ranch" in Crawford.

To have Al Gore rehabilitated is good. There's a need to make sure Joe and Jill Sixpack learn the truth about the 2000 election, before and after the Florida debacle, but the way Al Gore was treated is foundational in those understandings. Also, to have today's all too corporate and all too consolidated media exposed for their favoring infotainment and "horse race" politics over serious analysis has to be a step in the right direction. P/W